Friday, December 31, 2010

Set Your Intentions for 2011

It’s that time of year again and I am here to ask, have you set your intentions for 2011? I have talked about this before and have had a great deal of experience with how resolutions don’t work. I just don’t think it is the right way to create a change you are looking for. I mean, you will “try” to do better? I can hear Yoda telling me now, on some far off planet that there is no try, only do. Trying admits you might fail. My solution? Set intentions!


The great thing about intentions is that it’s almost like a continuing bucket list. I have some great adventures planned (the hike to Machu Picchu) and some little victories (finally learning to sew) and some in between (being back in graduate school). I made most of my Christmas decorations and gifts (which wasn’t planned) and started a letter writing project (which I have come to adore). This has helped me set myself on a path to actual accomplishment. While 2010 started with me despising a certain fitness celebrity, it is ended with me losing weight and setting a daily exercise goal. Am I perfect? No, but I am on the path to where I want to be. This year I set and met my intentions of learning to bake artisan breads, canning and pickling and reading more. As I start on my list for the next year, I am wondering, what are your intentions for 2011?



My intentions list for 2011:



I will learn to sew

I will learn to make pasta from scratch

I will learn basic cake decoration

I will visit Machu Picchu

I will further my study of meditation

I will complete my second NANOWRIMO









Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Letters Project

*Might I plant a seed now? If you like the idea, consider writing a letter or two, even better, do so and click to share with your friends encouraging them to do the same. Just a tiny pebble in the lake can make a great many ripples.




This time of year, I always notice how frantic people seem. I don’t get it really because I am one of those plan ahead Martha Stewart-ish people that decide their holiday menu sometime in late September or early October. I plan my Christmas tree and cookie baking about that time and start loading my freezer with banana and pumpkin bread. I work all year on shopping using my free cash for gifts for the children so that I don’t have the stress of what to do at the last minute. Being a graduate student, this year, my budget was unusually restrictive. There are people that I would like to do things for but what I could afford would not be reflective of how I feel about them. After much thought, it occurred to me what to do one night watching people running in and out of the mall while they were looking so miserable (waiting for Middle Monkey to get off work gives me a lot of extra thinking time). What I most would like to give to people is gratitude.  We have a serious lack of gratitude in society today. Every time I have to go somewhere inadvertently during rush hour, I am consistently surprised with all of the angry people on the road. It seems like its getting worse. It was echoed in my mall observation and then when I was nearly run down by an angry shopper welding a cart specifically aimed at my shins so she could get the last ham, I realized my mission. I have to fix this mess.

Interested? This is what I started this week. Choosing the Christmas theme, I decided this year for Christmas, I am delivering 12 letters of gratitude to people that have inspired me or taught me lessons over the years. If this is too much for you, you could do one letter a month; I am only asking that you consider the option. While I have started and mailed letters, if you are so pressed for time, you could theoretically email them. I say theoretically because I think you should put some thought into it and put it on paper because rarely does anyone use snail mail any more.  I am keeping track of the ripple effect, both of the folks that decide to undertake their own letter writing and the unintended effect of what happens when a letter is received. I am not sure what every reaction will be but pretty sure that I will be documenting this on a new blog as this evolves as a creation of its own. Please consider sharing and definitely let me know if you do. ALSO, if you reach out to someone from your past and have an interesting experience you will share, please feel free to let me know at qoftu AT yahoo DOT com. I hope this gratitude gift gets carried on and I am hopeful for wonderful results for everyone.  Now I am not stupid enough to think I can reach the entire world, but at least affect my little part of it. If so inclined, others could join in and then like that diagram of how fast STDs spread in sex education class, POOF, we collectively change the world.

My greatest wish for each of you this time of year is the unexpected happiness that just takes your breath away. May your new year be full of hope, peace and gratitude!




Sincerely,

The Queen

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Funky Tree


While admittedly behind the norm for me in a holiday season, we finally got the tree up!  I have used an artificial tree for much of the last ten years out of convenience and the quality of them has so drastically improved, however, while shopping at Whole Foods (possibly my favorite place in the ENTIRE world) we saw their selection of Frasier firs.  If you have never used one but like live trees, I highly recommend them...the smell is superb and they hold ornaments quite well.  Whole Foods is supporting a family farm with their effort and you gotta love that.  Over the last five years, I have been doing a great deal of simplifying, so for this tree we opted to make a large portion of what would go on the tree.  Our one rule that stays the same every year is that things from previous years must be repurposed/reused/recycled.  What we don't use is either passed on to someone else I know that can use them or it is donated to Goodwill for someone to buy them while supporting a great charity.  From last year, we kept the background of natural items consisting of grapevine garlands, pine cones, pecan garlands and various pieces of primitives to include rusted star garlands and rusted jingle bells.  We also had filler bulbs that are chocolate brown and brown glitter snowflakes so that went on first with the twinkle lights.  On top of that, we added knitted garlands by middle monkey in turquoise and orange and glass ornaments we got from Michael's.  On these we painted the interiors with blue, orange, white and glitter paint.  This is a super easy and cheap way to customize your tree!  We added two beaded orange garland we scored at HomeGoods super cheap and constructed a topper from blue beaded picks we found at WalMart.  Obviously, these are not item handmade items but they do look like it and add to the over all funky vibe of the tree.  Underneath the tree, we added the two orange wool blankets we have collected from thrift stores and Army/Navy supply stores over the years.  

Normally these spend the year in the baskets for the cats to sleep on but for Christmas they become our tree skirt.  Previous to this incarnation, we did a Mardi Gras theme that was a ridiculous number of colors and this orange option underneath is a carry over from then.  Though each blanket is different (one is a Danish Army officers blanket, they other knitted by someone and abandoned) it adds to the spirit of repurposing we believe in greatly.  Here in our town, we will be able to recycle the tree at a drop point and pick up bags of mulch in exchange from others that did this last year.  It makes me feel better that buying at Whole Foods, we got a tree from a family farm and it helps me feel like I am contributing directly to someone to keep their business rather than buying something faux from a big box retailer.

Middle monkey had some difficulty with the photographing...she is not a fan of twinkle lights because it is hard to get a picture with everything lit.  Little monkey told her that she would get over it...in true little monkey form.  We put on our fireplace DVD and listened to Christmas music in the library while putting everything together so we are all very much ready for present time!  Now I just need to get shopping...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

DIY Done Right


 One of our favorite things to do, besides art projects is to decorate.  Always having more ideas than money, this was one of those times to use both skills.  After a long marathon session of 9 X Design episodes, we fell in love with Ann Carrington's work.  While I am confident it will take winning the lottery to afford one of her pieces, the girls and I decided we were going to try an art project INSPIRED by the great and wonderful Ann.  We started by taking a large piece of denim we already had from another project and used a bleach pen to do the outline of a peace sign.  From there, using primarily vintage buttons from Ebay, we started (or rather I started) sewing buttons onto the fabric.  This monster task illustrated to me why Ann has a great team...GEEZE it was time intensive.  As days melted into weeks, we decided both to switch to various glues and add multi-media elements.  My wonderful boyfriend added his carpentry skills by building a frame and stapling it on.  When completed, there was actually a section of the project that represents each person in the house. We incorporated old keys, foreign and domestic money, political buttons and sheet music just to name a few things.  Little Monkey (who is a great fan of Nate Berkus, as am I) decided this would also be a great I Spy piece and constructed a list of items and a key.  Despite all the work, I think the finished product came out well.
Paired with lamps I scored on serious clearance at Target, a clearance bowl from Pier 1 and a ten dollar orange platter I found at Walmart it looks great.  Both kitchen table are made from old doors.  The white buffet table, one I scored in a Galveston Island junk shop for 35 bucks and the other, the former front screen door from my Grandparents house in the 70's.  The legs came from Ikea (both sets on sale) and a local glass shop provided the tops.  My chairs and bench on the other side I already had in a previous kitchen incarnation and I painted these from red to beige.  Even the light fixture was a clearance item from Home Depot and the baskets under the white table, Longaberger that I purchased 10 years ago.  They have served me well for the cost and have gone from living room toy catchers for little ones to comfy cat bed for our aging flock of furry babies.  The vases/candle holders on the kitchen table are punch cups from a pottery punch bowl set from Thailand.  Not too bad if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Would Change

As I am still horribly ill, I decided to do a repost of something from a couple of years back.  This spawned many a long conversation in our house.  Since New Year is fast approaching and the thought of resolutions is in the air, I think this is a good place to start.  Enjoy!

I WOULD CHANGE

*nothing about my life because it’s how I got where I am now. (but that being said...)

*the shape of my body so I could confidently walk, completely naked, into the street and think nothing of it. :)

*the color of the paint on my walls every six months if that were not horribly inconvenient.

*the time I lost away from old friends because they complete my life in so many ways.

*how easily I stop talking when I know that the thing I am about to say is likely going to hurt someone.

*the perception that I am uber-strong and confident all the time so that people will realize sometimes, I just need a hug.

*the fact that we live in a world where too many people are not afforded basic human rights, whether it due to famine, bigotry, homophobia, religious fundamentalism, our own government…

*the fact that children go to bed hungry in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.


*that I neglected to tell important people how much they meant to me when I had the chance.
















Friday, November 12, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Nano Time!



Another year begins and so does another Nanowrimo project.  While I tried (kind of) in 2008, this year was the year I decided I would beast this thing.  I have tons of shorts I write in various genres and have expanded into short stories but I just keep thinking I have something else in me...hence the literary torture.  So far, I am a bit behind where I wanted to be but this week affords me three days of 8 uninterrupted hours that I can capitalize on.  Honestly, from a mom perspective, getting anything done over the weekend is a miracle so I am a happy camper.  It is still not too late, come do the Nano dance with me!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WOW



Seriously.  I have no words for what happened last night.  Best explanation I saw was as follows:



You know when a friend goes back to a shitty ex despite a million red flags? The country did that last night.

about 1 hour ago via web


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pray for the Lost


today a prayer for family, friends and strangers

be with them whether they notice

comfort them whether they need it

angels, sinners and soldiers

doing the things they believe they must

without help, hope, love

happy, sad and angry

show them the light of honesty

the warmth in happiness

save, believe, dream

bring them inspiration

conquer their fear

Amen

Thursday, October 21, 2010

START YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING



I am just getting to my Martha Stewart episodes on DVR for the past couple of days and this is a GREAT item.  Triwa is a company out of Sweden and they have so many amazing colors and are affordable!  Check them out...the minute I win the lotto, I am buying one in every color!  Woot!

Today is a GOOD day



A little cynical, politically incorrect funny for you today.  Go out and make the world a better place today, I trust you to!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Urban Flock


Darby, 8 years old

We have kicked around the idea of housing

an urban flock, sometime in

the next couple of years, primarily because

we use a ridiculous amount of

eggs.  The secondary reason for that

is that the kids get some

responsibility for helping take care of the food they eat and we know what

kind of diet the chickens would have.  Of course, this will likely

only happen when we no longer house our feline urban flock



Halloween, 11 years old
Darby and Halloween are our oldest in the group and none too happy

when others arrived.  Despite the sudden acquisition

of the badly abused and homeless Devil Cat (Masa), some

 how everyone has figured out how to negotiate territory

and sometimes, just leave each other alone. 


When I took her in, it was interesting to discover Masa was pregnant

and subsequently she tried to kill Darby.  No, not

kidding here, threw him down a flight of stairs!  To say it took

Darby a while to adjust is an

UNDERSTATEMENT.  Enter Jack and Harvey,

twin boys to Masa that were to go to a family that later reneged, and

you have a house hold that is never short on drama. 

Yes, sometimes its crazy but its home!


Jack, 4 years old

Harvey, 4 years old
Masa, 6 years old

Friday, October 15, 2010

Best of the Web

It's been a while since I have done one of these so I am thinking "here you go."  For those of you thinking "this isn't the best of the web" I say "suck it."

One of my favorite blogs for my daily dose of gratuitous violence, dish, all things vamp and more, I check in with True Blood Dallas on Twitter.  Check out the blog as well for a posting on the potential new CBS show based on the Harris novels.  True Blood continues to entertain so this should be interesting.

A long time fan and contributor to the big orange Daily Kos (I blog there as DFJtoo) I advocate their front page for a lively, daily conversation on all things political.  While working as a progressive format, I am constantly surprised what a BIG TENT that involves.  My favorites on the blog continue to be Bill in Portland Maine and DarkSyde.  Go check them out, expand your thinking or hell, just start thinking.

I am a foodie.  There, I said it.  I am not sure this was a secret but there you go.  It has gotten so bad, I volunteer at Central Market just to earn credits to turn around and take more classes.  GOOP is making this much more difficult for me as I am now completely unable to stop printing recipes, cooking and trying new things.  Check out Smitten Kitchen and Stay at Stove Dad that I found as a result of Ms. Paltrow.  UGH.  So much further down the rabbit hole now...

Now that gift giving season is upon us, I will reiterate my plan to purchase a large volume via Amazon.com with my gift cards earned with Opinion Outpost and Swagbucks.  In times of economic hardship, this has allowed me so much more flexibility than I thought possible before.  For more unique purchases, my top three sites (in no particular order) are Etsy, Think Geek, and Tanga.  Etsy is amazing, handmade unique items for such great prices! Think Geek is pretty self explanatory.  Whether you have a geek in your house or someone that just likes Family Guy, this is the site for you.  Tanga, a recent find, has great daily deals but I go to them for the amazing deals on funny t-shirts.  The one down side is if you want multiples, you have to place separate orders, but the ridiculously low price makes it completely worth it.



So there you go.  Head out into your respective worlds and do great things.  Peace out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Eat local and Learn to Can!

In our ever increasing quest to eat local, eat healthy AND on the cheap, we decided to check out a local only farmers market in our area and it was AH-mazing!  the kids had a great time and we spent very little to come home with arm loads of tasty things.

I was lucky enough to win a canning book over at one of my favorite sites and quickly bookmarked a million things to try.  I started with Peach Butter and Pickles (though not in the same jar)!


I will say, to get the right consistency took FOREVER, but man were we rewarded!  This stuff is summer in a jar.  This will definitely be something we make to give away as gifts.


 *makes mental note to get busy for Christmas


The pickles were fun.  Leave it to me to have NO IDEA there are a million different recipes for this.  They turned out great but they are not the crispy Vlassics I am accustomed to.  Also unknown to me until I started the process but to get this crispy pickle you have to put an additive in the mix.  Since I was trying to do the local and organic thing, I opted not to do this.  I guess I will have to decide next time if that is the way I will keep it.  I think a pickle recipe without the additive would probably be better done as thick slices.  But that just the foodie in me over thinking it...

Fun stuff!  Think about finding a place in your area and try it!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Princess Emma turns 10



Monkey just keeps growing and growing...it's just WEIRD.  I keep thinking of her as the baby but truthfully, sometimes she says things that make me think that she is more mature than the rest of us.  I was reminded today of the reason I started this blog and figured with school starting and her elevating to "intermediate" school, it was high time to celebrate!  Here you go...have a FABULOUS week!




Emma Delaney and the Old Toad

In a very hot place, in a very tiny house, the Princess of frogs, toads and all creatures that hop was having a bit of a crisis. Emma tried very hard to be kind to all of the little hoppers in her kingdom, but admittedly, she was not a big fan of toads. They farted a lot and had bad breath, which according to her mom, the Queen of the Universe, were not very good manners. When going about her business this morning, Emma noticed that there was a slight ruckus in the hall closet that did not seem to be working itself out on its own. So, as ruler of all things that hop, she knew she had to do something. Emma stood at the door for a long time thinking she wished she could turn off her nose when there were bad smells around…this was NOT going to be good. Shortly after the last ‘bang’ and ‘crash’, she was joined at the door by Miss Halloween, Queen of all Actual Cats.


“Good morning Princess Emma.”

“Good morning Queen Halloween.”

“What seems to be happening in the hall closet here? It doesn’t sound good.”

“Well, Miss ‘weenie, I was just trying to decide what to do about it. You know that dealing with toads has, well, side effects.” Emma wrinkled up her nose to demonstrate.

“Yes, love, I know, but being the ruler of all hopping creatures, you are obligated to help in difficult situations. What can I do to assist?” Halloween purred.

“Any creative ideas for smell control?” Emma asked, pinching her nostrils closed.

Halloween sat back on her orange and black haunches and took off her backpack. She rummaged around with one paw until presenting Emma with two clothes pins.

“I have these left from my unfortunate meeting with the skunk clan of Pearland. They keep applying for honorary acceptance into the actual cat clan but they are, well, nothing like actual cats. It doesn’t make sense. Anyway, put one on your nose, it holds pretty tight.”

Emma gratefully accepted the temporary solution, put the clothes pin on her nose and looked back towards the door. The occasional ‘bang’ and ‘crash’ continued in the hall closet along with mumbling of some sort. It sounded like Old Toad’s language might be as bad as his breath. She looked over to see that Halloween had put on her clothes pin, righted her backpack and had given her the paws up sign that all was ok. Emma put her hand on the knob and turned ever so slowly and opened the door at the same rate. A huge, warm cloud floated out of the door. Although her mouth was covered, Emma thought it burned her eyes as much as it would her nose hairs and waved quickly to try to disperse it.

Halloween coughed. “Good grief little girl. This is some foul air for sure.”

“Yes, I agree. I need to look into better ventilation for the closet dwellers; this is not good, not good at all.”

Emma leaned her head in, squinting her eyes and tried to figure out what was going on. She saw little tiny houses on every shelf amongst the chenille bedspreads, cotton towels and comfy sheets. When she finally adjusted her eyes, she realized there was a hopping washcloth on the floor of the closet. This is the maker of the crashing noises. She leaned down to pick it up and saw, underneath, a befuddled and hopping mad Old Toad.

“For the love of all things brown and bumpy! Could not one good soul in this closet come to my aid?” He was breathing heavy and looked quite upset.

Emma sat on the floor in front of him. “Hello Mr. Toad. I am sorry you were having a hard time.” She looked amongst the shelves above to see every door and window buttoned up tight. “There doesn’t seem to be anyone about that could have helped. I heard your crashing from my room this morning so I came over to see what I could do.” She motioned to Miss Halloween at her side. “This is Miss ‘weenie, Queen of all Actual Cats. She graciously agreed to assist.”

Old Toad bowed to them both. “Thank you for rescuing me. I was making repairs to my roof, accidentally hit the stack of linens on the shelf above and down one came, like a trap. I have never been more frightened or embarrassed in my life.” He looked at her, over his spectacles, “Good grief girl, what is that on your nose?”

“It’s a clothes pin.”

“What’s it for?”

Emma looked up at Halloween and then back and Old Toad. “Well, it’s because you…well Mr. Toad, you are a bit smelly.”

Toad hopped up high, laughing as he went. “That I am child, that I am. I forget sometimes because I live with myself and I think my nose stopped smelling about the time I was 5 years old. I burnt out my smeller you know.”

“Smeller, that’s funny Toad.” Emma and Halloween laughed.

“How would you ladies like to join me for a cup of tea? I promise it tastes better than I smell!”

“We would love that Old Toad. Thank you for that generous offer.” Halloween said, giving Toad a curtsy.

Toad disappeared into his little house and after much banging, crashing and breaking came back outside to the front porch table with a tray of cookies, a pot of tea and a sweet pea blossom in a vase.

“My, my Toad. What a beautiful tray of treats!” Emma exclaimed.

“Only the best for royalty, my dear.”

Once he was done pouring, Miss ‘weenie, Queen of all Actual Cats and Miss Emma, ruler of all Frogs, Toads and creatures that Hop, picked up their tea filled thimbles and drank with Old Toad. Toad took a long time. Emma and Halloween were done quickly and moved on to the tiny button sized cookies.

“Toad, I am glad I came to see you today. You bake tasty little cookies.”

“Thank you Princess Emma. I am sorry you have to wear a clothes pin on your nose.”

“It’s okay. If you don’t mind, I would like to come by for tea more often.” Emma licked her fingers after she put the last sugar covered nugget in her mouth.

“I don’t mind at all. I don’t really have a lot of friends. Maybe I should pass out clothes pins?” Toad chuckled and held his belly while he laughed.

“Not a bad idea, Mr. Toad. I will also spread the word to my kingdom so that the traveling cats that come your way know you have time and tea for them all.” Halloween said in her most official sounding voice.

“Maybe I should open a Bed & Breakfast in the closet?” Toad pondered.

“Yes, but be sure they get their clothes pins in advance.” Emma said, laughing so hard until Halloween and Toad laughed with her too.

So the Princess, Queen and Old Toad giggled and gobbled and had a wonderful time. Sometimes it’s just better to take a chance. You will never know where you will find a friend, even a stinky one, but it may be under a washcloth in the hall closet in a tiny house, in a very hot place.

The End

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hells Bells


AC/DC doesn't have shit on this.

Two weeks ago I started the Kettleworx program. As many of you know, I'm not really a fan of Jillian nor her methodology. I was in terrible pain most of the time I did the workout (which was nearly 60 days straight) and though I had some results, it wasn't enough to make it worth it. BF actually ended up with a knee injury the only time he did the program with me that later resulted in surgery. He is THE most physically fit person I know which makes it SCARY that it could injury him. I consider myself lucky.


My experience with Kettleworx has been dramatically different. Don't get me wrong, its definitely kicking my ass, but in a very different way. It pushes you so hard, yet doesn't cause the same intense pain that the Shred did. I still can't complete three sets but my muscles are feeling so good (in a worked out hard kind of way). It requires a day of rest in between each day and its a six week program. I am walking a mile and a half the days I don't work on it and the days I do, I walk a quick half mile after to stretch. I think I am going to remain on week one until I can complete each sections three sets before moving on to week two. The coolest part is that its a different workout each week so you don't get too accustomed to anything or bored. So far a big thumbs up!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Monster of the Week-Zombies

Zombies are awesome. Seriously. As a self described movie nerd, I could name a ton of movie creatures that I love to watch but it’s hard to beat the classic Zombie movie. For a long time, I regarded 28 Days and 28 Days Later among my favorite “newer” Zombiesque fun fests but the times, they are a changing. Aside from the blood and guts glory, especially in the grocery store scene, few things top Woody Harrelson’s SnoBall fueled freak out in Zombieland. Little Monkey liked it so much that she gave a copy of the movie, with an accompanying Twinkie, to Kevin for Father’s Day. Funny stuff.


Recently, Zombieness reached an all new level of greatness:


FOREIGN LANGUAGE ZOMBIE MOVIE. When we first heard about Dead Snow, it wasn’t even out yet. When the DVD was released, I could hardly contain myself, Zombie Nazis in the snow? Are you freakin’ kidding me? I was not disappointed. The ways to illustrate disembowelment reach epic proportions in this feature. I highly recommend it.

Now Brad Pitt is going to give the Zombie genre a turn. What is the Apocalypse coming to? I for one am stoked, and ready with my popcorn.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Doing The Right Thing, Part 1

This issue has spawned such debate in my house that I feel compelled to write about my most recent experiences when I have tried to do the right thing and it has backfired. This post is about number three on that list, one and two now having to be put on the back burner so I can just figure out now what the hell to do about this one, my most immediate issue.


When I started out a few days ago, I was certain someone with the corporate office would address the issue because it’s just bad advertising for them any way you look at it. After being belittled via email this morning for several hours by a realtor and consequently a broker she forwarded the email to, I am stunned to know this is perceived as acceptable behavior by grownups. Easily, they could have ignored me and said nothing. That didn’t happen. Another option would have been to decide to do something as human beings on the planet we share for no other reason than they are professionals in the region and maybe, just maybe, I would refer them out to any and all that I know for potential business opportunities. Alas, that did not happen either. What started at 7:42 AM this morning had ended at 10:19 AM where I have to reiterate, in a second request not to contact me again, that it’s against the stalking laws in this state to repeatedly harass someone in this state. She called me “unprofessional” because I dared contact another agent of the same company and office about an abandoned property. She called me “illogical” because I couldn’t possibly understand why she and the broker in that office didn’t care about this one bit.



Well, Mindy, this one is for you.



Feast your eyes on this gem of a property in my neighborhood:





It has been like this for a couple of weeks and a few days ago someone graciously towed in a wrecked car and parked it out front. Now, while that may seem strange, clearly they know that no one in that house is going to complain, nor would the realtor who left it in this mess. SO, doing what I think most people would do, I email the corporate office for ReMax. All franchises are governed by a larger corporate umbrella, yes? They graciously dig around and find that he worked out of the Richardson, Texas office and is no longer with them as of the 23rd of last month. She tells me I can file a complaint with the state board and they will handle the “unauthorized use of their name” on their end. Taking that info, I then do a search for “Richardson, Texas ReMax office” and come up with a link for this office. When you click the “Find A Realtor” button, you get a drop down list of realtors. The second lady, I am thinking by her photo, seems perfectly nice. She is listed as a “foreclosure specialist” and I have made the leap that this was a foreclosure and would hope an owner would know what was being done to their property. Bingo. Along with the email string I have from corporate (so she would have that information) and a photo of the property, I send her the following:



Mindy-


I contacted the corporate office regarding this property. Can someone in the office take a look at this? The grass is two feet high, kids are trying to break in and now there is a wrecked vehicle parked out front. By Oscar's sign still being in the yard, it’s very bad advertising for you. I don't know if it’s a foreclosure or an owner is involved but if someone could just clean it up it would help I am sure. I didn't want to contact the police or the state if someone could just take the house over. Thanks.


Michelle


At this point, I am thinking she has read the previous correspondence with corporate, identifies an opportunity for herself if a realtor left the area abandoning houses and would want to generally make sure her office isn’t reflected upon poorly.

See, my mistake today is assuming a lot of things.

What proceeds from there is a repeated tirade of emails from her, then the broker she gets involved. At first, as she in every email continues to state “I don’t know how you got my information,” I give her credit for being slow and try to explain as slowly as I can how I came by choosing her. After the third time when she starts basically saying I am an idiot for contacting a realtor and not a broker in the first place (like I am supposed to know this automatically???) it dawns on me that she has not read one single thing I sent. She quickly evaluated that I did not want to buy one of her properties and wants me to bug off. She and the broker tell me not to “threaten them with the cops” which is hilarious because now two professionals are sending me emails like they are in some gang and they are going to bust my knee caps. I politely explained that it wasn’t a “threat” but merely I assumed (here I go again) that someone would ReMax would want to take care of the issue willingly, without me reporting them to the city or the state board.

Another mistake on my part.

Now it occurs to me to check with someone and verify I did what would be expected in the situation or  probably MORE than I should have had to? Someone that is a realtor? Oh yeah! Karen (albeit a different agency and out of state) gave me her advice. This is what she said:



You are right. I am always first to be contacted on site cuz of Abbott. I get that! For every contact that does not pay, I get several that do, so it's a numbers game all independent agents should grasp. She is an idiot - EVERYBODY who contacts me is a potential client, whether it be today or ten years from today. She needs a prospecting 101 class.

As for the property - You did the right thing. It was uberkind of you, and absolutely understandable because it affects you and your family.


Every county and city, if you are in city limits, has a manager, whom should be available through their website, who should take your email and had it to the right person. It is against city, county, state health codes to allow a property to go unattended.

As for the realtors role. Every realtor who lists a foreclosure, agrees to maintain the property, even at his or her own expense, to be reimbursed at closing. If you get no help from the officials, which would be hard to believe, then you can send me the address. I can find the bank who has the note, and they can tell me who is responsible, and I can put you in contact with that person. It would be my pleasure, cuz, well, see paragraph 1. :)


Maybe I am not losing my mind but I now have to file a complaint formally with the state, call several city offices and wonder what happened to courtesy and kindness in our country. I could go mow the grass but then what happens to the sign? I didn’t put it there and what if the ReMax gang sends someone to bust my knee caps when I touch their sign? This property does not border mine nor is it in front of my house but I still have to see it every day and it’s now attracting vandals in the form of ignorant teens. It does affect me, even if that office doesn’t care. My boyfriend, having spent several years dealing with the worst of humanity in all the places the Army can send you, thinks this solidifies his "keep your head down and don’t get involved" mentality. I have tried to raise my kids to be activists, to care when there is a wrong and seek to fix it. Huge dilemma in this house today.

So, I pose a question to each of you, if this was happening on your street, how would you handle it?

Good Stuff


I don't know if anyone else is ridiculously hooked on Persons Unknown but I just can't stop watching it and wondering how it will end.  Hands down its the best depiction of true psychological warfare I have ever seen.  When cast members incorporated lines from one of my favorite poets, I thought I would post that here as it reminded me how great that poem really is.  If you haven't seen it yet, I would recommend it for any sci-fi/fantasy/weird X Files type fans there may be out therE BUT you MUST watch from the beginning.


WILDERNESS BY CARL SANDBURG

THERE is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go. 
         There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I pick things out of             the  wind and air … I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them
 and hide the feathers … I circle and loop and double-cross. 
There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.


There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis.


There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced … yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting … ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Come on December!



I live for this stuff.  Can't wait for the Doctor to return.  Since it's December, I will be wearing my scarf.  Meanwhile, get this t-shirt from my favorite site in the world, Think Geek.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

INVICTUS

Recently we finally had the opportunity to see the film Invictus. Though I knew it would be moving, it reminded me how much I loved the poem. The last two lines are written on the chalkboard I have where inspiration strikes often. Here I write my favorite quotes and remind myself daily that I can rise above any circumstance. Today, I wanted to remind you. It is worth the re-read.


Slowly.

Savor it.




Invictus


William Ernest Henley




Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.



In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.



Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.



It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul





2 1/2 more weeks...


Booyah!  Can't wait.

Now back to regularly scheduled programing.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Monster of the Week -- The Great White

Few things can invoke an instant image as when someone starts the familiar "duh dun, duh dun, duh dun" of the Jaws theme song (or my favorite, the Mr. Jaws spoof song). Like nothing prior or even after, especially Orca, Jaws made people afraid to leave the sandy beach and take more than a couple of steps into the water. I readily admit, when I can no longer see my feet, even momentarily, I turn around and head back. Swimming or surfing in it? Not this chica. Just not going to happen.


While I was too young to see the original in theaters, I fondly remember my mom recounting the story as she and my dad went to see the movie with another couple. Upon the first of many terrifying scenes, the ladies promptly sent popcorn and Coke flying. Still it makes me giggle thinking of dad covered in that sticking mess and nothing he could do about it, because of course, it had been his idea.

Recently I have become a fan of Expedition Great White on the National Geographic Channel. Aside from the astounding scientific leaps they are making, we are treated to the visual feast that is Paul Walker from time to time. Just one episode is enough to make you realize why the reality of this ferocious predator as a movie monster is still the viable. They are both magnificent and terrifying at the same time. I'm not really sure what I think about rumors that there is another Jaws film in the making, this time with Tracy Morgan at the helm. While I respect his comedic work, it’s hard to imagine anyone better than the original cast. Thank you, Roy Schneider and Richard Dreyfuss, for steering the way through one of the scariest movies of my youth. Out of respect for the teeth, I will give the redo a chance.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

BP Tries Again



You can go here to check out the video feed.  I don't know about you but I can stand it any more.  It makes me feel completely helpless and I just want to cry.  So many people don't realize how this will effect life for years going forward.  Middle Monkey found a band at Warped tour with a new song entitled "Gaia Bleeds".  I can't think of a more appropriate description for what's happening.  I am just sick and my outrage does no good.  I can't understand a company operating with no emergency plan if this were to happen.  I can't understand their lack of concern in the beginning like somehow this was unfortunate but par for the course.  I am glad the government is helping, but as far as I am concerned, this company needs to clean up its mess.  The same conservatives that preach NO government are the same ones accusing the government of not doing enough.  This wasn't a government accident, its a corporate spill that BP needs to be held accountable for.  Good to see Tony Hayward is showing the appropriate amount of personal restraint.

UPDATE:  I find it interesting that the GOP is pushing this line again and again.  It should bother someone that if Bush I stopped deep water drilling and Bush II allowed it to restart, that would be where the "regulatory" problem lies...but maybe I am the only one that sees it that way.  Sad really, that people are trying to make this an issue about this Administration and not one about corporate irresponsibility where it should be.

Mental note:  Look up rules for moving to England permanently.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Monster of the Week - Predators


I am not sure if it was the Arnold or the concept, but the Predator quickly became one of my favorite movie monsters. The special effects and story were compelling to me simply for the fact that it was unlike anything that came before it. I was horribly disappointed when the sequel seemed to do to the franchise what most sequels do; sending it to movie hell for what seemed it would be eternity. Flash forward to 2004, and the rebirth of this monster with my all time favorite movie monster in the AVP series. (I know, a lot of folks hated this, I was not one of those)  Here I think the story managed to find its legs, pitting the master alien hunter against the most brutal of all alien prey. Brilliantly played and deepening the characters, I finally felt someone was doing the genre some justice. I don't remember the day I found out that there would be a new movie but I was in utter disbelief. Adrien Brody AND the Predator alien? Yakuza warrior? All in the same movie? Be still my heart...

Needless to say when I arrived at the theater and promptly broke into a chorus of "I'm so excited" complete with snapping of fingers and dancing, my boyfriend declared me Queen of the Geeks. There really was never a chance I wouldn’t like the movie, Oscar winning performances or B-Movie performances, it’s Robert Rodriguez we are talking about here. I trust him.

I am so glad I did.

Without giving out spoilers, the opening sequence is brilliantly terrifying and not for the reason one would think. There were at least three well placed homage’s to the original that I could find and it didn’t end the way I thought it would about halfway through. I loved it. Given the same cast and director, I will go see several more of these. I am not sure, but I think I also caught a shot filmed in McKinney Falls State Park. That was weird because I kept thinking, I STOOD RIGHT WHERE ADRIEN IS STANDING!

Good stuff. Yeah, I know I am a dork but I am okay with that.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Yeah for Star Trek Humor!




Part of the greatness of raising nerd kids is that they occasionally find stuff like this!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Monster of the Week- The Werewolf

I do not hide my fascination with all things supernatural. Certainly here, I have explained time and time again how great True Blood is, if for no other reason that the beautiful warrior named Eric. While I have spent many years reading tales of vampires, lamenting Anne Rice’s on again off again decision to discontinue writing about them, and making sure I see every movie about them that gets made, I will admit, they may not actually be my favorite monster. Of course, I am the person with an alarm set to buy tickets for the new Predators in advance so maybe all monsters are my favorite.




It’s my dad’s fault really.



When I was in the third grade, we lived in a house where the den was at the opposite end of the house from the bedrooms. Logically I know I never awoke in the middle of the night because I heard something, but more because it became habit. My dad, you see, had insomnia and lucky for me, a willingness to override common sense and my mom’s rules any time he saw fit. I don’t remember my first episode of Dead Eanest and Shock Theater (rumored to have been Ted Turner), but only that a regular rotation of B-movies educated me on the finer points of Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi’s monsters. I would watch through the fingers of my tiny hands, subduing any shrieks that would rise in my throat just to maintain the privilege of sitting on the daybed in the den. Soon I learned to love the Twilight Zone, The Night Stalker and any form of creature or intense psychological terror. No wonder I am warped. For whatever reason, despite my love of vampires today, my favorite was Lon Chaney Jr.’s werewolf.



It would be years before I would understand where the legend arose. I didn’t know lycanthropy was even a word, much less a disorder that is rumored to have existed at a time. My first modern werewolf would appear gloriously in An American Werewolf in London. The pain of the change terrified me and I remember being in utter disbelief. When Michael Jackson then recreated the change for Thriller, arguablely better by the soliloquy of the incomparable Vincent Price, it just went to solidify how fabulous a monster this was. Stephen King took a turn and as always, I love his books so much more than the celluloid reproduction. Driven by rage and moon shine, a man beast with super human strength is set loose on populations to exact his revenge. How can you get better than that? One of my favorite series of movies now is undoubtedly Underworld, which deftly combines vamps and weres in a more modern take on the tale. Regardless of glorious special effects and black leather wielded by Kate Beckinsale, I will not lie when I admit I was smitten with the newest creation by Benicio Del Toro in The Wolfman. Here was a return to the Chaney wolf I loved, a deep and moving portrait in the traditional werewolf saga. I could just eat that movie up!



Recently, I stumbled on a fantastic series. I have read all of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels (though I dislike her werewolf depictions—that is for a later post) and when I saw her endorsement on the cover of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, I thought would give them a try. I am so excited that fate seemed to steer me in her direction. Patricia crafts a heroine that is strong and assertive, with a keen eye to detail and the true folklore behind all her creatures. I am hooked! Imagine for a history minor how great to find when challenged by gun enthusiasts about the validity of making your own silver bullets, she not only documents the historical accuracy of such, SHE SET OUT TO CAST HER OWN. That’s my kind of research! I think these books have the perfect balance between fun and terror, interesting characters and amazing monster/supernaturals/creatures/villains. I will be first in line for a ticket when Moon Called makes it to the big screen. If you are looking for something fun and fast to read this summer, I highly recommend her novels. I just might have follow her lead and cast my own bullets just to see if I can. :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy July!

Geeze, June is over! Poof, like that. My little man has graduated and is getting ready to pack up for college, littlest monkey is out of state for a bit for all kinds of adventures and middle monkey is struggling through driving classes. On the home front, we are attempting all kinds of spruce up and out right redo’s of several things and I AM TIRED! Thinking summer would be a blast is not exactly what has happened thus far…hoping to make it to the beach sometime before school starts.


Ridiculous money making/saving continues, as I have mentioned here before. I had my first trip to the store where I netted $45.93 in groceries to hear the cashier say “That will be .49 please” after all my coupons. That, my dears, is better than any high from anything I might or might not have inhaled in my younger days. Woot. I just cashed in my Swagbucks and my Opinion Outpost cash and on Amazon with my handy dandy Prime account, I managed to get everything for little monkeys birthday party for under $70! Best part of that, I AM NOT PAYING OUT OF MY OWN POCKET. I cannot overemphasize the love I have for Opinion Outpost and Swagbucks. My next set I will be saving for Christmas presents and it really take the pressure off for where that chunk of cash is coming from.

Part of our redo here is coming from paint. For many years, the “OOPS paint” sections of Home Depot, Lowes and Wal-Mart (yes even they have one!) have been the way to find what I need and not pay $30 a gallon. I always have in mind for every project what colors I need and sometimes, they just materialize! Typically, a gallon runs $5, a pint $2 and I just lucked onto a 5 gallon bucket in the right color for my entire living areas (foyer, library, kitchen and living room) for a whopping $35. These typically go for right around $100. You would be shocked at what a simple coat of paint could do to lift up a room and your spirits. I am turning old doors into tables, working on an art project that is entirely made of buttons and painting accessories with ridiculously bright colors. I will be done in about two weeks and I am so excited to see progress so far.

Here is hoping your days is fabulous and your holiday is a happy one! Peace and chicken grease. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Joe Barton is an Idiot



This is nothing new for my district.  For YEARS, I have worked to get rid of this guy, even when it effected my personal life.  I nearly wept when I saw the attention he finally got over his stupidity.  He has continually harmed the constiuents based on his political contributions and that will not change.  Hopefully now even his own party will tire of his out of touch attitude.  Please God let this be Barton's last year in office.

Monday, May 31, 2010

In Appreciation



For all of those who have served, those serving now, their families and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I am grateful for your willingness to do so. May blessings come to your family and my prayers to those we are still waiting on to come home.




Have a safe and happy holiday!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Club

On my quest to find a way to continue my sustainable utopia, two more books have crossed my path. While I have already been transformed into a bread making fool as a result of a friends recommending Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day, I have now been taken hostage by two new ones that I finished in record time. The first, a recommendation from a chef at a cooking class where I volunteered, is about cheese. The great thing that happened when I started reading Cheesemonger, however is that it is about so much more. As an unapologetic lefty I was so happy to find so much political history and as a music fiend, some punk history as well. Yeah for California! The family was subjected last night to their first tasting and I picked Taleggio. It went over pretty well considering its gone and the idea previously of stinky cheese freaked them out. The next one that just finished is Made from Scratch. I picked it up thinking it was a full on DIY book and by happy accident found it was someone, much like myself, that just really wants to check out of the conventional way of living. It was great because she was candid about her failures just as much as her accomplishments. I hope in my life I can employ a bit of that bit of "being a grown up"...just not quite there yet! We are trying her butter and pasta recipes from scratch this weekend so I will let you know how that goes. YUM!

P.S.  I have no idea why the colors on some of my linky do's went all wonky.   Sorry if it offends but I am totally over it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Joyful Heart


The breeze flits by as you speak
Dew drops from your lips as you exhale
Every thing you say fills me with joy
A life I never expected
Treading water so delicately
As to not cause a ripple
Sunshine on my heart
Laughter in my soul
Thank you for bringing me home

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cafe Press

Working on a Cafe Press store, will let you know when its full of offensive coolness.  I can already imagine my hate mail today:


MY MOM BLOGS

YOUR MOM SUCKS.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Cat



Harvey loves his dogs.  They haven't decided what to do about him rubbing all over them but they don't try to eat him either.  That's progress.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Preparer

"We would like to meet with you please. We know what you did and we would like to express our gratitude in person. "

Sitting here minding my own business, trying to work in a sea of cubicles where far too much noise was permeating the grey walls that surround each of us. I look up; look around to see if some "friend" is making an attempt at humor. I find no one looking back at me.

"If you could meet us on 13th street, we would appreciate it."

Click.

Why do I always get the weirdos?

I find myself searching frantically through my brain. Whose voice was that? What are they referring to? Actually contemplating heading to 13th street was almost as unnerving as seeing the two people headed to my desk. Straight out of a scene from The Matrix, a very serious man and woman dressed in black with sunglasses on (yeah, inside a building, see what I mean? Weirdos. What did I do?

"Greetings.” Mr. Not-Gonna-Crack-A-Smile says to me. No hand extended to shake mine. How very Howie Mandel I think. "We are here to make sure you get to 13th Street uninterrupted. "

"Can you explain what this is about? It’s a little crazy that I am just supposed to get up and leave with two strangers. "

"I understand your concern. It's about the cab ride. "

Crap.

The reality of those words sets in, heavy on my chest. Yesterday I reacted based on impulse and emotion with little thought to the outcome. I was already regretting it.

I took a deep breath, gathered my things and headed to the transport area. I kept thinking over and over "Man. You. Are. Stupid. "

Cursed really. I have what are quite possibly the dumbest super powers EVER. I can't heal the sick, reverse time, or snap my fingers and transport. No, I am blessed with two things. 1. I can immediately sense good versus evil. 2. I can make you think you are someone other than what exists in your own reality.

SEE? DUMB!

Okay, maybe not number 1 because that kind of comes in handy when dating. Number 2 causes me nothing but trouble. It was REALLY funny the day in 6th grade that I convinced my brother he was a bullfrog all day, not so funny when my parents got a call from his kindergarten teacher because he was sitting in the water fountain asking for flies with his Kool aid for snack. They grounded me that day until I turned 18 and did the same many times after.

So when random people jump in my cab when I am trying to get to work, you can probably understand how bad habits quickly surface under stress. Just as I am about to give my destination to the driver, a fat, old guy jumps in the front seat babbling about some radio DJ he just met.

“Excuse me, this cab is taken.”

“So sorry miss, he was my favorite baseball player back in the day and now he has a show I love. I got his autograph, look!” He shoves a baseball with Sharpie scribbles in my face.

“Nice. Okay, I don’t mind sharing but…”

Slam, the back door closes and I look over and a man has joined us in the backseat. Older, fair skin, hair, eyes and a black suit. My heart races, he is a preparer.

“Sir, if you will just step out of the cab, I will get you to your destination safely.” He gently whispers, attempting to influence him and gain control.

I respond without thinking, pushing ahead of his thoughts and effecting an immediate change.

“Oh thank you, are you a fan? I just arrived at work but for your generosity, here is a baseball I just signed.” He promptly hands the ball to the preparer and jumps out of the car on his way to what he thinks is his radio show job.

“You will regret this.” He whispers to me on his way out of the backseat.

Not the people I want angry with me. Ugh. Most people have powers; most people don’t have powers that would directly result in pissing off the other side.

Of course, I hadn’t thought, just reacted, at the time. Now these people are escorting me to the transport system and thanking me.

“He was one of our greatest scientists and advocates for learning to block the other side from influencing humans. They have been targeting him for a long time but we lost him when he ran into the building. We didn’t know he was a fan, or that he would ever break routine. Your flip in the cab allowed us to catch up with him when he came back in the lobby. This however, created another problem. One for you.”

“Me? I am low man on the corporate totem pole, how do I have a problem from the other side?” Shock and panic spread through my mind quickly. I didn’t like the way this was going.

“They see you as a threat to their progress. They have sent a preparer to kill you.”