PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Monday, December 31, 2007

TALES of the Shut-In....

(insert dramatic, sweeping music here)

Seriously. This has been the vacation of containment and reclusiveness. I have touted all the knitting, but really, apart from a small mountain of laundry, I have nothing to show for myself except an enormous list of watched movies (with more in the wings, so you'll have to wait for my one-line reviews.) Well, level 6 on Guitar Hero. I cannot battle Leo and win so apparently, I'm stuck there. Right now, I'm enjoying some episodes of The First 48 on A&E and re-caffeinating my body - unfortunately, all the ads are geared at senior citizens preparing their estates and planning funerals and buying insurance so as to not burden your survivors. I'm beginning to resemble my shut-in friends more and more.

Part of the lethargy was being sick - and I still have a cough, but the fits of aggravated hacking have wound down to just a couple a day, so I'm glad about that. Part of it was sheer and utter laziness. I'm not one of those people who like to go on vacation and see forty-two points of local interest. My idea of a vacation involves moving slowly at my own pace (much like my animal sister, the Three-Toed Sloth), enjoying good meals & drinks, laughing, and naps.

So. I'd say I pretty much did that for the holiday break! But it occurred to me that re-entering the work world would be pretty brutal, if I maintained my degree of non-communication and shut-in-ness. Kind of like burning up in the Earth's atmosphere when returning from space, if you didn't plan for it. So I went to the grocery store this morning. Oy. Everyone has today off, pretty much, and 9/10ths of them were at the grocery store. And I don't think most of them had a list. One woman got all bent out of shape in the rice aisle, but jesus, sister, we're stacked up like trout swimming upstream here, and you think you're being all gracious stopping - but you've parked right in front of the items I need. Sorry, but I've got a list! Once it was time to checkout, I was headed for a relatively empty lane, manned by my favorite bagger Calvin, and another woman tried to steer in front of me.... I have to admit, even in my foggy stupor, I was coming back around to the Ways of the World. Cut that bitch off at the pass. Mmmhmmm. James would have been horrified, he's Mr. Congeniality and Consideration at the store. It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'd already endured enough idiotic behavior - and my cart was pointed straight in while hers? Rolling along perpendicular, trolling for a better lane. So I figured the right of way went to me.

I noticed on my drive there, how things I normally ticked off in my head seemed new again - gas prices, for instance. I had only left the house once in uh, four days? And that was only to get Thai food, 6 blocks away. Ordinarily, I'd be noticing the rise & fall of gas prices, and mentally calculating when the best time to get gas might be - and today, I was all, Durrr? $2.81? It was in the $2.60's when last I was out! I thought briefly about adding some stops - or maybe going back out again - but nah.

I'm overdue for a nap.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:30 PM | link |

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Knitting & Stuffs

Seems like most of my vacation has spent either coughing (yes, it's still with me), sleeping, knitting or playing Guitar Hero. I am what we like to call "cosmopolitan", but using the fourth, and little-known definition, which means "couch potato consuming large volumes of liquids."

At least with the knitting, I have something to show for myself, eh? So buckle up, because I'm going to release a machine-gun burst of finished objects, along with the current WIPs.

Duet Socks in Army Girl
Army Girl Socks

I used Wendy's Generic Toe-Up pattern for these, and I really like them. One thing I've learned about sock knitting this year is that because I am a loose knitter, I have to knit these socks on the smallest needles bearable, and I don't need to have a ton of stitches. The whole concept of negative ease finally went off in my head. I wanted a firm, solid fabric, while still having drape, and I'm really, really pleased with these. The yarn was absolutely scrumptious, too. (Middy Duet Sock Yarn in "Army Girl" colorway.)

I had a goodly bit of yarn leftover and I thought to myself, self? That baby Kara might need a hat. So I grabbed each end, and winged it, resulting in this delightful swoosh of a hat:

Baby hat in Duet Sock Yarn

Because I happened to grab the ends where I did, the pink on each side matched up, and creeped along and around the hat in a blaze of glory. I love it!

I'm also working on a couple of gift scarves, in the lovely Colinette Giotto ribbon I snagged at The Studio this fall, when they put all their ribbon yarns on sale. (it was a heckuva deal!) I think this colorway is "Pharaoh", and it's a nice rich jewel-tone medley. I'm improvising a bit, just doing a basic drop-stitch pattern, and am probably going to switch over to straight needles for the next one, because the whole wrap/drop part is a PITA with circulars.
Drop Stitch Scarf
(this picture gets blurry when bigger, so apologies. I'm whacking out this update & adding photos without editing.)

I used the same yarn for a Christmas scarf for Momma Linda, but for obvious reasons, couldn't post it. This one adapted Wendy B's Dream Swatch head scarf pattern to a bigger neck-scarf-sized version.

Dream Swatch Scarf - close up

Christmas? Well, it just pretty well sucked this year, what with the Cough from Hell, and Being Depressed About Parents: Living, Dead, and Stepped. Usually I just focus on one of the versions, but I got the triple-whammy this year. James was so understanding, and hugged me hard while I cried like a little kid. And then he made us apple cider with Hot Damn 100, which is most definitely NOT something to give the kids. Warmed, I went off to bed and woke up the next morning to get a fantastic call from the Studio, telling me the Noro Sock Yarn was in. WOOT! I hackingly tried to squeal, but my vocal chords weren't cooperating.

I got two skeins, and have one pair underway. I picked Lucy Neatby's Mermaid Socks, because they're a great pattern, and I figured with the long repeats of color, they'll have added interest with the fishtail lace. Now. This is Noro yarn, so it has the stellar, stunning colors. Breathtaking, really. But the yarn itself does present some challenges. It's sticky, twisty, and lacks that "sproing" that we sock knitters like to feel running through our fingers. I'll sometimes get really wiggy about making colors line up, and skein off half a ball of yarn so I can start my socks at the same point. But I was being lazy. And I really didn't care, and thought it could be kind of fun to knit from either end of the ball, to watch the different colors line up & then reverse themselves on the other sock. Given that I was knitting a Lucy Neatby pattern, it was actually fitting - she doesn't really believe in wearing matching socks, and I figured her eclectic spirit would approve. (Color #095)

Noro Mermaid Socks

As you can see, I'm definitely not gonna have matching socks. And the yarn LOVES to stick to itself, so knitting from the outside & inside of the skein requires being careful, and not just pulling on the yarn willy-nilly. It tangles on itself with little effort, and I expect for the second pair, I will wind off a second ball, just to spare myself the headache. And I am definitely counting on the yarn to bloom - most Noro yarns do, once washed, and I can already guess it will bloom, from how it feels. But it's no luxury for knitting - and because it feels so skinny, I'm using Double Zeros, (00)! But it's so fun to watch the colors shift and meld and change.

Now, I'm behind on my daily dose of Guitar Hero, and at some point, I have to switch over to get some sewing done. Busy hands, happy heart, as my great-grandma Hattie used to say!

Labels: ,

posted by PlazaJen, 12:10 PM | link |

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gone in a flash.

Two months ago, when I heard on the radio that she was returning to her homeland, I knew Benazir Bhutto would be killed. Not when, nothing specific, but that some day, she would become a martyr for democracy in her country of Pakistan. Sadly, that day came all too quickly. I always admired her - Harvard educated, beautiful - and saw her as a role model, in a world where Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are held up as icons for young women.

I don't profess to have a vast understanding of the politics of Pakistan, or what makes a person so fervidly believe in their cause that they strap explosives to their body and kill as many people as possible while also ending their own life. I know Bhutto fervently believed in her cause, and what role she could play in bringing about change. In an odd way, two similarly driven people collided, on the opposite sides of a cause.

I wonder if there are just some of us humans who are prone to feeling passionate about a cause, an issue, and whether it is through conditioning, or something in our genetic makeup, that allows them to maintain such a steadfast hold on their belief, their cause, no matter the price. I've felt that surge inside of me, about numerous issues, but they don't take hold of my daily existence. I think it would be close to manic. Much talk today has focused on how aware she was of the risks, how she knew it was likely she would be killed. And yet she pressed on. But whatever it was that drove her, Bhutto contributed to the world, even touching my small part of it. I am sad that her light is gone.

posted by PlazaJen, 5:23 PM | link |

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best In Show

I spent a chunk of time yesterday watching the Westminster Kennel Dog Show - I don't know why, it was on, I was waiting for James to get ready, and it amused me greatly. I love the Christopher Guest movie, and the more I watched it, the more I saw and heard the inspiration for the comedy. Those dog breeders are serious. And all of the female handlers wear sensible shoes, you know, for the running. I caught the tail end of the sporting breeds, and most of the hounds.

The staid, quiet, back-and-forth discussion between the emcees - priceless.... "The Basenji ... is not the dog for everyone...."

But my favorite moment came when, during the hounds, specifically a black and tan coonhound being shown, Tripper decided to start watching tv and got ALL bent out of shape about there being a foreign dog in the living room. He was low "burfing" and standing at attention while James and I tried to contain our laughter so as not to distract him.

The other two dogs will react to noises - the Law & Order CI phones sound exactly like our doorbell - but Tripper is the first to actively watch tv. Reminds me of dogsitting Gracie, and teaching her about truth and justice.

By the way, that coonhound's ears? 32" tip to tip. I never did see such a pair o' ears on a dog. Perhaps that's what alarmed Tripper.
posted by PlazaJen, 2:45 PM | link |

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Tis The Season....Hack Hack Hack

Well, in a preemptive strike maneuver, I went to my doctor today & am now on a 10-day antibiotic regimen, to knock whatever thinks it might be taking up residency in my lungs. It's a delightful, wheezy hacking cough, one that caused such levels of consternation from James' grandfather that I finally asked him if he was preparing to perform last rites on me, I only had been sick less than two days at that point! The big comedy moment came when he emerged with a bottle of generic mucinex, which happened to be exactly the same formula as the generic mucinex I was taking. I sprung for the uber-pricey, name-brand stuff yesterday, because they make it in an extended-relief that spans 12 hours, vs. the 4 hours of relief from the generics. So far, it's living up to its promise - I still cough and whatnot, but not as violently. Sadly, I'm waking myself up coughing, which has been a nice flashback to the beginning of the year, when the ace-inhibitor allergy lasted 3 months. In any event, my goal is to avoid bronchitis/walking pneumonia, and to salvage as much of my vacation as I can - after all, I want to enjoy the time off, not spend it hacking up a lung.

Well! Doesn't this just make me an old gal, talking for an entire paragraph about health issues. Might just need to rename this blog The Bursitis Times. But I've been in such a stupor, not much else is going on right now. We're going to have Christmas, Part II, tomorrow, and then it's Boxing Day (Yay! It's so much easier to call it that!) and all the fun shopping that goes along with it. I did finish my Army Girl Duet Yarn toe-up socks, and I'll get pictures tomorrow. I also picked up the Chevron Scarf (half done) and got a few rows worked there - I'm all about getting some of these WIP's finished, so I also need to haul out the Rambling Rows afghan & pop a couple movies into the DVR. We watched the latest Harry Potter tonight, the Simpsons Movie a few nights ago, and SuperBad awaits us tomorrow. I've got Capote on the DVR, too. So far, nothing's blowing me away - HP and Simpsons were enjoyable, but not enough to leave me raving about 'em.

I was reflecting on the Christmas Eves of my youth (see, old lady chat again...) and recalling the excitement and anticipation, the unknowns and surprises - seeing what my parents got each other in addition to what I got from them. I remembered a last-minute shopping trip with my dad (which was every year), but this one in particular stands out. We went into a bookstore. He had already selected a stack of books, and wide-eyed, I asked him if he was going to buy ALL those books. He replied he was, and at that point, we were in the cartoon section - he started pulling books off the shelf onto the floor. He told me if I picked them up, he'd buy those, too. I remember being caught up in the excitement, it felt sort of crazy-reckless, my father was just going willy-nilly with shopping. Years later, when I looked back on it, I always felt kind of weird, like somehow it was strange, the only word I could find was demeaning, to have me scramble behind him, picking up books. (I didn't feel weird at the time, I was ecstatic to be getting all these books!) Now, I sort of see it differently. He would fall into a dark, deep depression before Christmas, because his mother's death was around the holidays. We alternated years for decorating the house, and I remember the days leading up to Christmas Eve as taught, wary, even fearful, and mostly seeing my father's back as he buried himself in work to get through the days.

What I picked up on in that bookstore was the pain. The pain of missing someone so much that no amount of presents, or books, or even the family in front of you can erase. The sort of pain that makes you callous to the smaller things when it's looming in your heart. The bitter, tinny voice in your head that says, "Sure, fucking buy every book in the store and it still won't silence me." This has been a rough December for me, much harder than last year, and I miss him enormously. In some ways my memories of him at this time have become mirrors, and I see myself reflected in them. In some ways I am closer to him now, understanding him, because it is an experience we now share. I don't want to be him, I surely surely don't, angry and sarcastic and bristling at every edge and corner, ready to explode. Of course I read those words and know every one of them describe me at points in all of this. Perhaps it is in the total consuming, the way pain and grief swallowed him up and took him from us for weeks, that we can be different. I'm having a blue Christmas, I'm sick on top of it all, and I'm ready to feel better and to smile. So, lest you think I'm not counting my blessings in all of this: I have family and friends who love me, and I love them. I have a wonderful husband, three awesome dogs, a warm, safe place to live, and more yarn than I can knit. I will have laughter and fun during this vacation. But I miss him. And I always will. It's a challenge sometimes to figure out where to put that, in my heart, so it's not always knocking me in the forehead or tripping my feet. I just miss him.


posted by PlazaJen, 8:56 PM | link |

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas, Part I

We did a whirlwind trip to the Lake of the Ozarks yesterday, leaving the house shortly after 7 a.m. and returning just after 9 p.m. It would have just been a regular-sort-of Long Day, except for the insane winter storm we drove through on the way home. It could have been much worse, but it was stressful nonetheless, and James had to do all the driving, because I'm sick & he would have been freaked out every time I had a coughing fit, had I been behind the wheel. (and rightfully so - this cough is a doozy!) But we had a fun day with family, and he scored some awesome ties, and I got some cold hard cash, plus the funniest Xmas decoration-soft-sculpture-thingy, ever. I just found a picture online, it's Hallmark's "Snow What Fun", and you press the snowman's hand and the music plays - the snowman jiggles, the dog kind of moves, and the penguin FREAKS OUT.

One of the other big hits was the enormous, "Jumbo Remote" I scored at the company white elephant on Friday;

James had drawn his grandfather's name in the gift exchange, and we added it to his presents, knowing it would be pretty damn funny. It was even funnier watching the kids use it. (So, if you're looking for a last-minute, amusing gift, this might fit the bill!) And, we know it's being used!

We had awesome food, some great laughs, and now I'm ready to self-medicate with all the OTC cold and cough drugs available to me. With knitting, movies and naps. Sounds like a great day to me!
posted by PlazaJen, 8:25 AM | link |

Friday, December 21, 2007


Christmas came a little early.

Our very own resident Grinch - Suzy - just now started playing with Tripper!

(Instead of attempting to remove his head from his body, which has been her main form of interaction with him since he came in the door.)

Aw. Though I will say, my happiness is tempered by an inordinate fear they will knock the audio pier or tv over. I guess I'm the Grinch now. :)

Tripper's so excited, he's jumping around like a bunny. All teeth and snappy, so not completely like a bunny, but the legs are bunny-like.
posted by PlazaJen, 4:09 PM | link |

Sushi & Presents & Friday, ROCK ON!

Last night, a small group of friends got together & exchanged some gifties while dining on sushi. Several of us felt we could eat sushi every single day. If I didn't have to pay for it, I can guarantee you I'd give it a valiant try! Anyway, I loved all my pressies, and a good time was had by all.

I'm sooooo happy it's Friday, it's a half-day at work with the company holiday party lunch knocking off the back half of the day. We're dining at Bo Ling's, and the theme is A Christmas Story. (I seriously doubt we're all getting Red Ryder BB Guns, there's an open bar.)

I'm also really excited about vacation. We've got great movies to watch, I've got a ton of knitting and sewing projects to keep me busy, books to read, cocoa to drink, cards to send (yikes.... think I'll be sending Happy New Year's greetings this year!!!)

I'm going to end this with one of my favorite ads I've seen (online) - I know I just posted the Kia one, but this automotive group takes the cake with their whole "badger" series. Here's the link for all of the spots on YouTube - I think they're all absolutely hilarious, but I've found I really like to say the line "I'm on my popcorn break!" the most..... Happy Friday, peeps!

posted by PlazaJen, 6:23 AM | link |

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I have been a little roller-coaster-ey today. Up, down. Up, down. High-pitched screams, sullen focused silence. In general, though, I'm in a good mood. We got all the presents wrapped and sorted and bagged up last night, and we also figured out our plans for holidays with his grandparents, along with a separate get-together with Momma Linda. Such contentment comes from planning in my world. Me? I do not enjoy the nebulous!

Work's a bit wonkers. I'm still planning to take the days between Christmas & New Year's off, but I'm also prepared to check my email regularly and come in if needed. But not the morning of the 26th. That's the Highest of High Holy Shopping Days in my book, as evidenced by all the presents the Wo wrapped last night, purchased last year & stowed away in a plastic storage lug. It's such a great (and bargain) way to get our nieces the fun tchotchkes that are the co-ordinated bags of glitter and barrettes and bath stuffs. I love a deal!

James sent me the eBay auction for postcards mailed from a small village in Poland - freakin' hysterical. I love that sense of humor! And then my husband demonstrated his humor by sending me a link to a local craigslist ad, threatening to exchange my present for the item in the ad, which was a miniature stallion. Sure, because the dogs don't have enough toys, let's BUY THEM A MINIATURE PONY.

I also did something super-crafty for the work holiday party, and it turned out really well. I'm pleased, and can't say anything else about it, but I do love to just craft, craft, craft, and when I can combine that with party planning? I just turn into a crazy spawn of Martha Stewart. Minus the supercilious smile, of course. I just grin like a maniac.

Speaking of maniac, have you seen the Kia commercial that's running right now? I love it. Obviously they're shoehorning their way into my heart by using the music from Flashdance, and quite adeptly targeting my age group (gasp, near-40), however intentional or unintentional. I love it! I think they changed the music a bit, but it gives you the general idea if you haven't seen it.

Alrighty, peeps, I have to zig & zag my way home like a maniac (maniac! on the floor!) and then it's back to work to get as much done as I can - as a previous boss used to enjoy saying, "I'm dancin' as fast as I can!" and then my co-worker would do the flashdance-running-in-place moves as soon as she left. I'm excited for vacation! I'm up with people! I'm dancin' like I've never danced befo-o-o-re.......
posted by PlazaJen, 4:43 PM | link |

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I am seriously feeling the panic. Part of it is because many things are still undefined, and I'm a planner. I think we're going to figure out the bulk of it tonight, so that's good. And we'll be a-wrappin' presents tonight, too. There is much! to! be! done! I need to mail things, too. Whups. And write people back. And remember the funny things I wanted to blog about. And do laundry. Oh lordy, the laundry. I discovered a shirt today that I had forgotten about and it was like a beacon from heaven, saving me from myself. Yay! Clean shirt!

It's good this time of year to appreciate the little things. Like a clean shirt. And breathing. That's like, the best invention ever. So repetitive. I need to do a little more. :)

Oh, one funny thing today - James was trying to tell me Jason Lee was playing Alvin in the new Chipmunks movie, and I finally had to say really loudly, "Alvin IS a chipmunk, James." (and everyone around me was laughing, at me.) And because there has been a lot of hype about these Chipmunks, I keep getting that song stuck in my head, the one I only know one line to, "I hope I get a HUUUUULA hooop", but enough of the melody to hear it over and over and over. So you know, as I pound my head towards madness, I'll at least have a theme song.


posted by PlazaJen, 5:00 PM | link |

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Double Boiler Drama Bubble

So, today, I was all set on staying inside all day and watching Capote, while making some progress on the gift baskets we're giving some of our friends & family. This was not to be, as you will see.

I had gotten chocolate & vanilla almond bark, and two bags of pretzel rods - plus mini M&M's and sprinkles, to make some kick-ass dipped pretzels. All was fine, I set up the double boiler and got the chocolate all melted & underway. But I'm factory-minded, you see - I don't like to draw things out & if there's a way to implement a system, especially a time-saving system, then I'm all for it. So I got out another pan, put some water in it, and then another saucepan, and put the white bark in it. That pan had a small lip on it, and balanced quite nicely over the water bath.

Or so I thought. When it was time to move over to the vanilla bark, I went to stir it, and kerploosh! I knocked the delicately balanced pan of almond bark smack into the boiling water, scalding my hand and dumping water INto the almond bark. I quickly poured out the water, but if you've ever worked with almond bark or chocolate, incorporating water? It's a Very. Bad. Thing.

I tried a little unsalted butter to un-seize it, to no avail. I dug the package back out, and it mentions how you're not supposed to put water into it - along with milk, butter, margarine, blah blah blah, basically the only thing that could possibly rescue this solidifying mass was .... Crisco.

So off to the grocery store I went, getting Crisco, along with more almond bark. It took me a whopping two minutes after I got home to determine, no, actually, I am not going to rescue the first batch, and I just started over.
With a different pan. I do learn.

I made a huge amount of festive, dipped pretzels, and bagged them up. The kitchen and dining room looked like Santa's Workshop & Kitchen simultaneously exploded, but I knew I had the evening to pull everything together, as James was coming home later from hunting. Then the phone rang, and it was James, stranded on the side of the road, two hours south. So I looked up a tow truck, sent it off to tow him to the closest town, and hustled to drive down & get him. He said two hours, but I was pleased to shave a good thirty minutes off that estimate. Poor dude. Not the best weekend for him. His truck is sitting at a service station in El Dorado, MO & this week, will get a new pulley-something along with an alignment and tires. Christmas for the F-150!

Even without the truck costs, I still don't think I could justify having two double-boilers. Nice as that may be. ;) Ya just really don't need to double boil things simultaneously too often. And I may never do these pretzel things again. Collector's items, baby.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:39 PM | link |

Friday, December 14, 2007

I've Crossed A Line Into Old Ladydom....

....because I wrote my City Councilwoman, Cathy Jolly, this morning...

Ms. Jolly -

I am a resident of the Sixth District, and I voted for you in the last election - along with Mark Funkhouser. Just as I am sure you receive support and advice from your husband, I expect anyone who is married to benefit from their spouse's perspective and support. I am married to a Hickman Mills schoolteacher, and despite opposing political beliefs, we also work together as a team to make our own world a better place. That said! I did not elect Gloria Squitiro to office. I did not request that she be present in the mayoral offices every day. And yet now, my tax dollars are most likely going to pay for a discrimination settlement caused by her. This is ridiculous. The city just battled through the Frances Semler debacle, and instead of allowing her to step down, Funkhouser insisted she remain & we as a city have lost the respect and support of NATIONAL Hispanic and African-American groups in this country. Perception IS reality in this country, and from the outside looking in, we have regressed as a city in a very short amount of time.

I have grown increasingly concerned by the behavior of our mayor, and his extreme unwillingness to compromise, to abide by the voters' decisions, and to forward his own agenda. I think his wife's influence and constant presence is denigrating the role of the mayor, it is taking focus away from where this city is headed, and is frankly making me long for the days of Emmanuel Cleaver and Kay Barnes. The whole point of electing a non-career politician to the mayor's office was to bring about change that was for the people, not just fund the Mark and Gloria Show. Frankly, the promise to eradicate steel plates in the roads was key to his election, and I haven't seen a decrease whatsoever - my perception is that I now drive over MORE of those things than I did a year ago. I am heartened to see the City Council actually stand up to the mayor, and I can only hope that this continues. The first step is to prevent future racial slurs and transgressions (and lawsuits!!!) and remove Ms. Squitiro from her self-appointed daily presence and role in the mayor's office. The second step is to somehow introduce the concept of compromise to the mayor, and that will be harder, I'm sure. I just don't want to have to keep paying the price tag for an administration that isn't listening to the people, that continues to dig in its heels and insist on creating even greater racial divides in a city that sorely needs unity. Kansas City is on the brink of a revolt against the current administration, and I would hate to see elected officials such as yourself lumped in with the climate and perception Mark Funkhouser has created.

I appreciate the time spent in reading my letter.

Now, this is a knitting and all-about-me blog. I bitch about bad drivers, sing sonatas about dining and food, put up pictures of my dogs and vent about stupid things. I go on and on about grief, partly as a form of coping, partly to help someone else who might read this and realize they aren't crazy. Or at least alone. I touch on some political hot buttons here and there, and yet I know that when it comes to the fluffernutter tar baby (ooh, is that racial?) of local politics, there's a 100 sides and unless you're reading and combing through material all the frickin' time, looking at you Tony, it's hard to be certain you have the total picture. But I don't really care right now about digging and doing a ton of research at this point. The mayor I elected is driving this city into the ground through sheer stubbornness. Don't get me wrong, I love the notion of untouchable principles, I want an elected official who isn't a career politician, I wish Paul Wellstone was still alive. He embodied that. So I just got pissed this morning and sent a letter. I can't say I believe it'll make a bit of difference? But if it could, if it does, well, then, maybe this whole power-to-the-people thing still stands a fighting chance.

I need to go shake my cane at someone.


posted by PlazaJen, 10:09 AM | link |

Thursday, December 13, 2007

B-HIND, that's B- HIND

It's my best game of Bingo, ever.

I am whatcha might call a little not so organized for Christmas. Or anything else. And really, all I'm inclined to do about it is drink a six-pack of cider & eat some Fritos and gaze upon the un-organization and panic and little fingers of terror and go, "DURRRR" like some giant sloth creature. (It IS a bitch to get the bottle caps off when you only have three fingers and the nails are too long...)

But we're off to a holiday party tonight, and you will never guess where! NEVER! Unless I already told you, and then it's not fair to play the game. At the DENTIST. Yes. JWo & I go to the same dentist, and they are having an office holiday party. And they invite their patients. And frankly, with all the money I spent on Molar No. 19 this year, I believe I have earned a few free appetizah and somesink to drink. (sorry, weird reference. $4.20. It's a compulsion!*) I'm only disappointed my endodontist isn't having a holiday party because I spent even more money with them and I would expect top-shelf liquor there.

We're really going because our hygienist is like, the greatest gal ever, and since I've been going to this dentist group since I moved to town, I've had two dentists and about 5 hygienists, but in the past 5-6 years, it's been all Danica, and since JWo and I are about 3 months apart in our cleanings, she stays pretty up-to-date on our lives - and remembers everything! So we really like her and it will be nice to talk to her, and Doctor Morgan, and be able to have complete conversations that don't go "Uhngh huh, arrrrrrup unk uhoooaiaiai errrre," on our parts.

I kind of want to show them my crown post-root-canal. I won't, because I know that's just a little too nuts. But when you spend more on a tooth than you do on your haircuts in an entire year? It can make you a little crazy. Uhngh huh!

*Chinese restaurant in the skyway of Minneapolis, had service over lunch down to a factory science. They'd shout as you went through the line: Appetizah? Somesink to drink? For here to go? $4.20. And you had a lunch and were out the door in record time.
posted by PlazaJen, 4:42 PM | link |

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Heaven Help Us.....

...Zubaz are back.

Now I KNOW the end is nigh.

In other news, my friend Greg kicked my butt to get on Facebook and now I'm completely and utterly addicted.
Be mah friend! plazajen AT gmail dotcommmmm
But don't wear zubaz. plez.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:56 AM | link |

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New York Times, baby.

Hubster made the multimedia portion of the article on global warming - he's the one cooking biscuits & gravy while calling in ducks - and I had tears in my eyes hearing his voice in the interview. So proud I could burst.

Sadly, Suzy did not get captured in any of the photos. If you'll note, the dog that was photographed was wearing a jacket. Here's a flashback to how much Suzy likes to wear a jacket.
(Polly? Loves it. James put it on Tripper, and he loves it, too.)
posted by PlazaJen, 11:43 AM | link |

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ice, Ice Baby!

First of all, I hate ice. I realized after moving into this band/zone weather area that while I gave up living with winter for 8 months out of the year (ok, 5, but sometimes it was 6, and sometimes we went for a month with no sunshine), there was a trade-off. There's always a trade-off. And the trade-off for potentially having daffodils burst out of the ground in March is ice. Treacherous, power-killing, horrible ice. I seriously have had some practice at being a shut-in - if not for the cookie exchange yesterday, I wouldn't have left the house. When you turn on the news in the morning & see a rollover accident with five cars involved and it took place a mile from your house? That's good enough for me to keep it parked.

Anyway, this weekend was just a precursor to the TERROR that is incoming today/tomorrow. Personally, I hate the forecast? But I love the graphics. For instance, everyone uses bright pink for this slushy ice stuff. So with the way my mind thinks, we're about to be drenched in Pepto-Bismol.

Then we have this ominous line of storms (not pink) heading our way....(I added the panic wording)


And all of it sort of reminded me of this movie:


I could hear the duh-dun, duh-dun music just looking at the radar. I'm surprised nobody's gotten on TV and told me to wear my bicycle helmet while driving, just for that extra layer of protection if my side-curtain airbags don't deploy. I'll admit, though, I get swept up in it all. I fight the urge to rush to the grocery store, just because....because it could be inaccessible in a day. And I shudder to think about our power going out. (Seriously, if that happens, we are going to have to re-think the no-dogs-in-bed rule.) However, on a positive note, we are set for crafting. There is no yarn shortage at my house, and I will knit until my fingers are blue! Oh, and cookies. We're in good shape on the cookie stock. If I could just have a guarantee that the power would stay on, and nothing would blow up at work, I'd say, "C'mon Pepto Storm, Bring IT."


posted by PlazaJen, 2:34 PM | link |

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pass The Euthanasia

I went to a cookie exchange this afternoon, barely flinching at the notion of missing the Chiefs game. That's how disappointing this season has been.

Got in my car just after 5, and with the optimism that seems to be put in the city water, I turned on the radio to check on the game. 34-7. Denver. Gah. I listened to three plays - the first was a gain of 8 (Chiefs), the second was a sack, the third? Another sack with a fumble - turnover to Denver. I couldn't stand it anymore and went back to NPR. This team has been riddled with injury, the offense is horrible, and all we can do now is look towards next year and hope that all the calls for Peterson's removal are answered. (Nice photo, Carl. Was that taken 10 years ago? Right before things started to plummet?)

The only humane thing now is to put this season down. Shots of Pentobarbital for all my Chiefs fan friends....

(I know my husband is totally laughing at me. He thinks it's hysterical when I "talk football", but he's the one who first told me that CP is at the root of our team's problems. The more I read, the more this is confirmed! And the more I watch us lose.... it's 41-7 now......)


posted by PlazaJen, 5:39 PM | link |

Thursday, December 06, 2007


The older you get, the more you forget things. Not that they ever completely leave you, but they get buried, they blend in, you don't see the sharp outline. Something that was huge (HUGE!) when you were 16 feels like a small divot of earth at 39. You run your finger along the groove of mortar between the bricks so many times, you no longer notice the small stone that is embedded there, it is simply part of the fabric of the wall, your history, your life.

And then, someone says something. Or you smell it. Or it comes up in casual conversation. For me, hearing just two words strung together - eleven small letters - was the emotional equivalent of grasping a live power line. At first I didn't even understand what was happening. (I'm not going to tell you what the words were, yet. I want to explain their effect, and I feel if I tell you? It cheapens the moment. You will focus on the lines and curves of those letters, predetermining the amount of emotion you think you should absorb. Into the pool, I say, all the way to the bottom.) I felt as though a closet door had been opened, and a thousand Revere Copper-Bottom Saucepan Lids had fallen around me. Bright glints, a rapid slide show from my childhood. Reduced to tears, but out of a place of winsome joy. A thin slice of wistful sadness, knowing I would never hear them again from the person who said it to me the most. Where I had been when I heard those words, many times in my life. What it meant then. How I know what it meant now. How I know now, with my father dead and my mother living her separate life, what they wanted for me as my parents, regardless of their own weaknesses and baggage. Two words, the essence of love. A wish for peace. Simply the best. Simply to be safe. Simply to be happy. So many other points in life they pushed, they set my goals, they pushed me into the mold they thought would break them free of their own chains. But each night, after we said our goodnights, my father would pause, and say 'sweet dreams'.

James said the very same thing to me the other night just before falling asleep, and I made him repeat it - I felt bewildered and confused. Like someone finally said the password to my soul, and even if he'd said it before, it could only be said in the dark of a chilly December night, on that night, and that night alone, and one of my deeply forgotten pieces would unlock and reveal that it had been there all along, waiting to be rediscovered. The small pebble in the mortar became a button that opened a brick, a secret passageway, a hideaway to a memory that had gotten lost, under all the other things. A little cubbyhole that will help soften the harshness of the past, a footnote to some of the other memories that curse and drive me still today. Today, as I write this, tears fall, the tears I've held at bay all week through my frustration and anger. I have been bitter and angry and out of sorts, disgusted with the past, desirous of controlling the future. But that night, I felt bathed in love, old and new, and I knew that I was loved.


posted by PlazaJen, 4:04 PM | link |

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

An Extremely Snuggly Baby....

I am having a rough week. It's just rough. I'm tired. If I were Lucy in the chocolate factory, you'd see me staring straight at those pieces of chocolate as they shot by & fell right off the automated belt. (I feel like I'm letting things slide. I beat myself up and I get up and hustle around but still the things? They slide. Right off. Bad chocolate assembly line supervising.)

But this? This is not rough. This is sweet. This is Kara, who is in her 4th week on this earth. She is going to hate me someday, if only because of my camera flash. YOU! You're the lady that blinded me, every time I saw you! And I say "saw you" loosely, since it was always mere moments before you BLINDED ME.


I'd look indignant, too, if you flashed your brights in my face from 10" away. And even though the tulip sweater I knit her is going to have to wait, probably many weeks, as in 52 or more, the hat fit her splendidly. So she has some hand knitting for now, and some for later.


The best time to hold babies is when they're full, woozy and drunk from mom's milk. She is a snuggler, and curled right up in my arms. If I hadn't been holding her, I think she might have curled right up into a circle, like a little caterpillar. So as I sit here and feel stress lacing up my muscles like a corset and my mind swirls and eddies and I fight the feeling of a large beer keg crushing my lungs, I just remember that there is peace on earth, found in the smallest of things and the smallest of creatures.
posted by PlazaJen, 2:30 PM | link |

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Toothpick Comes Out Clean...

You know, the cake version of "Stick a fork in me, I'm done!"

Well, I'm really just sitting here waiting for the Wo to return with ribs from Gates. Yee-haw! I was originally going to cook chicken piccata, but the chicken was freezer burnt.

Today was nuts. Yesterday was nuts. Mr. Peanut called and asked where all his relatives were, because they obviously left his House O' Nuts and all descended on me.

But! In good news, my International Scarf Exchange pal, Rochelle, got her package! And UPS didn't even charge her a brokerage fee to accept it! I will not use UPS to mail things to Canada again. I about fell over when I thought she was going to have to pay to even get her gift, after I'd paid them to pack & ship it! WTF?! Anyway, that turned out to not be an issue, and gladly, she enjoyed everything I sent her. Yay! She took a lovely picture of her unpacked package, since I had forgotten to do so before sending.

I can't keep track of what day it is exactly, I'm a bit addled, and every time I think about holiday gifts & shopping, I just blink really fast and move on.

Ribs? They're here. Gotta go....
posted by PlazaJen, 6:52 PM | link |

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Him: "So I hope you aren't going to be pissed with what I bought."

Me: "Why? What did you buy? You didn't buy the chain link?"

Him: "I bought... the kind of fence they use to keep goats in."

Me: "Goats. Why? Was it cheaper or something?"

Him: "It was the same price. It seems really badass. It's not welded, it's twisted. It's huge. And really heavy."

(more discussion about goats. Nevermind we don't have goats. Polly and Tripper are goat-sized. Perhaps we're getting those fainting goats for Christmas. Nothing says Yuletide Greetings like a passel of goats.)

Him: "And I bought you razor wire."

Me: "Oh my god, you totally know the way to my heart. And that I'll forgive everything else for a roll of razor wire."

(I have an unnatural love of razor wire, combined with an unwavering naiveté that doesn't understand why it's not legal to just have razor wire everywhere you want to put it. The fact I can't actually have it only makes me want it MORE. Deep down, a small part of me believes that if I could have razor wire, nothing bad could ever happen again.)


posted by PlazaJen, 9:07 PM | link |

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Coping With Chocolate

Today is the day the new owners take possession of my childhood home/farm. I've kept an eye on this elephant in the room all week, knowing that there is simply nothing to be done about it, it just has to live there and trumpet every so often & take a gigantic crap on the rug.

So this morning, I placed an enormous order with Betty Jane Candies, my childhood purveyor of chocolates and treats, and I had to call to place the order because the one thing I really wanted - chocolate-covered orange peel - isn't in their online catalog. And I was fine, until I said those words - chocolate-covered-orange-peel - and now I'm as messy as the weather outside. I ordered them for my dad when he had his hip replacement, two years ago, and it was four short months later that his cancer was discovered. Two short months after that, he was dead, everything had changed, and I've watched as the remnants and possessions of my life slid away from me. Sometimes the pain is too great, and I don't cope well. It has been a bitter life lesson, all of this, and while some of my scorched earth has re-grown and returned to normalcy, I still have these scars, even holes, that are still bare and raw and ugly.

Chocolate-covered orange peels. They're really kind of a metaphor, you know? Bitter candied orange peel, rendered edible through a lengthy process, and bathed in chocolate to complete the transformation.

I don't think I'm quite processed yet.


posted by PlazaJen, 9:01 AM | link |