Weird Items On My To-Do List

I was just thinking of some of my upcoming projects and how strange my list would look to anyone else. In the spirit of not taking myself too seriously and unbridled exhibitionism of my most boring details, here you have it:

o Get a Digital Camera of My Own – We have one, but it seems that Garrett has custody and I only have supervised visitation of this little piece of equipment. You guessed it…many of the pictures here are from my cell phone, which is the visual equivalent of listening to that crackly old recording of Yes, We Have No Bananas instead of your iPod.

o Make More Dog Collars – As some of you know, G & I have been working on developing custom laser-engraved leather martingale/sighthound collars, and we need to make more prototypes until we get them just right. I’d be happy to post pictures of some collars we’ve already made, but I’ll have to do that after I take care of item #1.

o Visit a Fire Station – Yes, poor me…I have to go and see some firemen, but it’s for the good of my child. Jared is thinking of various careers right now, and fire fighting has made the list, so we’ll be on a fact-finding mission. It's official business...really!

o Make a Lily Munster Dress – G & I will be Herman & Lily this Halloween (his idea!), and I have a strange aversion to those pre-made costumes. Now I have no choice but to dust off the old sewing machine and do what I can with my limited pattern-making ability. I actually wanted to be Elvira, Mistress of the Dark this year, but the kids were not amused.

What strange things do you have on your list?

Checking My Calendar

Today I visited one of those downscale big-box retailers (the kind that has groceries, patio furniture, sewing notions, and auto parts), and I just had to check my calendar when I got home.

Hmmm...sure enough, it is still September.

Why then, just a few aisles from the Halloween costumes, were they already selling holiday ornaments?


Make no mistake, I love the holidays. I love the food, the fun, the festive decorations, the booze, the presents, the time with friends and family, the whole deal.

What I do not love is the sales aspect that ruins the fun of it. The holiday season is not meant to begin nearly 3 months ahead of time so some mega-conglomerate can sell people more stuff they don't need that will wind up in a landfill. What's next...Santa suits for sale next to the 4th of July t-shirts?

Hurry up, folks, go get your ornaments! You have just under 11 weeks to prepare for Hanukkah,12 weeks for Christmas and Kwanzaa. Yes, I know Kwanzaa isn't real, but I don't have time to debate that. I have to go write my letter to Santa now.

Happy Holidays!

Home Remedies

Home remedies have always fascinated me, and while I have my favorites (like most people I know), my willingness to try new ones is always directly proportional to my misery. After coming down with a cold on Saturday that came complete with fever, cold sweats, and aches, I'm prepared to share what may just be the ultimate cure. I've never recovered this quickly from a cold that started so ominously, so I think this really works.

I've always sworn by vodka as a terrific cold and flu medicine, and I normally add an ounce or so to a cup of tea with lemon and honey several times a day. This time I googled "home remedies" and came up with a new adaptation of my vodka cure, and here it is:

1 1/2 oz. of vodka every 2-3 hours

In between vodka doses, drink as much of the concoction below as you can:

In a big pot, boil 2 quarts of water and add 2 large chopped onions, 6 or 7 inches of fresh ginger root (grated), and one head of garlic (smashed and chopped). Let this simmer for 10 minutes or so and then turn off the heat. Drink this steadily throughout the day until it's gone.

My theory on why this works: garlic and onions have antibacterial properties, ginger is an known anti-inflammatory, and of course hydration is key to getting better from a cold. Of course the vodka just makes you feel better, but I've also known Russians who swear it kills germs.

On the subject of the vodka, the bottle pictured here is Tito's Handmade Vodka, by far the best vodka I've ever tasted. Yes...Tito's is better than Ketel One, Grey Goose, name it. It's also domestically produced, has won international awards, has been written up in many national magazines and newspapers - and it's pretty inexpensive. If you like vodka, you've got to try Tito's.

On another note, the remedy described above is meant to be taken on its own, NOT in combination with over the counter medications. The Mom in me is forcing me to say that Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are very dangerous when taken with alcohol.

In any case, I hope you all escape cold and flu season unscathed, but if you do catch a bug and decide to try the remedy above, let me know what you think.

My Closet Door

This is my closet door, and everything behind this door is crap. I had this depressing revelation last night as I was getting ready for Alison's birthday party. My displeasure with my wardrobe mounted with each hanger I slid from right to left. Every single garment I own is either too big, too small, out of style, played out, or otherwise unacceptable.

Quite honestly, I'd rather eat broken glass than go shopping, but I've almost reached the point where I'd rather go shopping than continue to stare blankly at my current selection of horrors.

Wordle Fun

Here's a fun diversion for the title of this post to visit a site where you can create a "Wordle" based on how frequently you've used certain words in your blog. You can click the image to enlarge it.

Credit goes to The Boss Lady for introducing me to this idea. Come on, you know you want to do one!

Scam Artists

Don't let these innocent-looking faces fool you...these are two of the wiliest con artists ever to gnaw rawhide. The scam:

The Mastermind (Bruno) wakes me up at the crack of dawn by pawing my pillow and jumping up and down, hoping this cute display will result in an early breakfast. Bruno has done this intermittently as long as he's been with us, and I always send him back to bed, and that's normally the end of it - until The Accomplice joined the Early Breakfast Scam.

Now when I send The Mastermind back to bed, The Accomplice (Hoover) steps in. He gets up and pretends that he needs to go outside, racing from the bedroom to the back door, whining at the door, and running back to my bedside. I will normally respond to a request to go outside no matter the hour, because it rarely happens, and I assume someone has an upset stomach.

Now this has happened two mornings in a row, and The Accomplice has no intention of going outside. Oh no, he wanted me to wake up, start the coffee pot, and start passing out breakfast. Well, I have a little news for these fun loving criminals: I'm going to bed tonight armed with a pistol. A water pistol, that is.

The punishment for this crime is a big squirt of water, right in the kisser. I'm armed and dangerous, and they'll get their breakfast when I'm good and ready!

Part 4: Final & Funniest

I must be a masochist, because I willingly (and literally) bellied up for the special Jeju body scrub. Here’s the scene: In the bath area there’s a tiled wall that barely conceals the body scrub area, where patrons are laid out on tables like slabs of meat, and Korean ladies attired only in black bras, panties, and abrasive pastel mittens are scrubbing as if their very lives depended on delivering a thorough exfoliation.

That zeal is really what attracted me to this treatment. I’m big on exfoliating (or anything that promises to decrease my diameter even a teensy bit). I really couldn’t resist, so I steeled my resolve and approached the bra & panty clad lady who appeared to be the head matron, and declared (remember I’m buck naked making this declaration), “I’d like a body scrub, please.” “Ok, ok”, she chirped cheerfully, “you go hide in pool 5 minutes!”. An odd choice of words, I thought, but I did as I was told until she reappeared at the edge of the pool and beckoned me with a sweeping arm gesture. As I walked behind her to the table, I wondered why they didn’t wear bathing suits instead of sensible foundation garments.

She led me to my table, and oh joy!, it was the first table - the most-visible-to-everyone-in-the-whole-place-table, that is. Fabulous. She instructed me to lay down on my back, at which point, she poured a bucket of warm water all over me. My thought, “Oh great. Now I need to pee.” Before I could worry too much about it, she slapped a wet towel across my eyes and forehead and told me to relax, whereupon she began to scrub my legs with a vengeance. As she worked, all my parts wiggled and wobbled in direct proportion to her zeal.

No part of me escaped unscathed, including between my toes. At one point, while she was basically sanding one of my boobs in a sort of wax on, wax off motion, she asked me if I wanted the “deluxe massagie”. As I said, “No, thank you.”, I thought, “I’m pretty sure I’m already getting one!”. Even without the deluxe treatment, I started on my back, was turned onto my left side, my stomach, and then my right side. She sat me up, spun me around, washed my hair, stood me up, scrubbed me again, and poured buckets upon buckets of water all over me for a full 40 minutes. Mind you, I still had to pee.

The result: my skin is softer than it’s ever been, I have a story to tell, and I learned what it is to feel very, very clean and a wee bit dirty at the same time.

Part 3: The Sauna Room & The Baths

Braless and decked out in your uniform, you might feel a little like those tribal women my brother used to gawk at in National Geographic. Or maybe you look around the room and feel like a reject from that Hale-Bopp Comet Cult, but none of that really matters. Even if you care, nobody else does, and this is not the time to be self-conscious, is it?

This main sauna area is open to guys and dolls, and also includes a food court where you can get some mediocre Korean food and fresh juice. People lounge on the tile floor or lean against giant logs strategically positioned in the room. Within this main area, you’ll also find the sauna rooms, which have varying themes, temperature levels, and therapeutic claims. There’s an Ice Room, Jade Igloo, Baked Clay Room, Charcoal Room, Silver & Gold Hut, Jewel Room (the most beautiful, if you ask me), and the Rock Salt Room (which is BY FAR the hottest. If you stand on the tile too long in here, you’ll literally burn your feet, so head for a bamboo mat as soon as you can).

Now that you’ve completely pitted out in the sauna, it’s time to head for the baths. You’ll go back into the locker room and procrastinate for a minute while you contemplate the prospect of going au naturale amidst all these strangers. I’m not sure whether this is easier to confront with a group of friends or not; at least if you go it alone you don’t have to worry about your pals waking up in a cold sweat reliving the sight of your hail damage. Then again, the debate that’s sure to take place with friends can be a great procrastination tool. Here’s how it goes: “Are you going to get naked?”, “I don’t know…are you?”, “I will if you will.” Debate or no debate, everybody seems to eventually decide to go for it.

At this point, your naughty bits are out in the open, and you enter the water area and take a shower before entering any of the pools, which range from hypothermia-inducing to a flesh blanching near-boil. Personally, I could only handle the “warm” pool, which turned all my submerged skin a lovely shade of barn red. As you look around, you’ll see ladies of every description. Young, old, firm, wobbly, and everything in between, mostly Korean, some Eastern European. The Korean ladies are totally uninhibited, scrubbing each others backs, having animated conversations, walking around as if this whole scene if totally natural. Which I suppose it is, when you think about it.

On the other side of a tiled partition, you’ll see more ladies laid out on tables like sides of beef, having themselves scrubbed to within an inch of their lives. Now that’s an experience I can’t wait to describe here.

Part 2: Checking In & The Locker Room

As promised, here's more of the low-down on Jeju. When you first arrive, you're likely to notice that, unless you're Korean, you're in the minority. This place isn't a watered-down quasi-Asian meant-to-appeal-to-ladies-who-lunch kind of spa; it's a Korean bath house. Period.

When you arrive, you'll notice an incongruous mixture of semi-precious stones, onyx, and black pleather chairs that would look more at home in the waiting room of an accountant's office. You'll be greeted by an attendant who'll trade you a uniform, a numbered locker key, and a toothbrush for $25.00.

Now for the locker rooms: Ladies to the left, Gents to the right.

Once you pass through the door of the locker room, there are some small lockers where you'll leave your shoes. Now barefoot, it's time to find your big locker, and put on your uniform. The locker room is a staging area between the sauna room (where people wear their uniforms), and the baths (where nudity is required), so you'll see people in all stages of undress.

You'll also see all sorts of signs advertising various other services that are available for additional cost, one of which bears the English translation of "Woman Hip Bath". The sign goes on to say that this treatment helps such conditions as "chill stomach" and "itch anus", among other things. While I haven't had this treatment, I've seen it in progress, and from what I can tell, the customer is draped in a pink tent-like cape, and then she is directed to sit on a chair with a large hole in the seat, like a potty-training chair. At some point a cauldron of what smells like boiling marijuana spiked with the Colonel's 11 Herbs & Spices is placed underneath the customer, and her nether regions are steamed for an unspecified length of time.

In any case, it's time to put on the uniform of elastic-topped shorts and matching t-shirt and go check out the sauna room. By the way, ladies, leave your bra in the locker. It's customary to free-ball at the bath house, so set your "girls" free in the spirit of cultural awareness.

Part 1: Public Nudity Adventure

Garrett and the kids have been busy today, so I've been left to my own devices in the entertainment department. That being the case, I did what any other bored wife and mother would do: I rolled to Jeju Sauna in Duluth. If you've never been to Jeju or another Korean bath house, I highly recommend it. I'll describe what I can here, but you should check out their website before you read further.

I'll wait. Take your time.

Ok, by now you've seen the saunas made of clay, charcoal, gold & silver, jade, quartz, geodes and amethyst, and they're every bit as beautiful in person as they are on the website. They're really spectacular.

This place is like another world, a world in which your passport to several continents is TOTAL NUDITY. There's too much to cover in one post, so I'll give you a preview of some upcoming topics:
  • Checking In & The Locker Room

  • The Jjim Jil Bang (Sauna Room) & The Baths

  • My First Korean Body Scrub

I know some of you have been to Jeju (because we went together), but I hope you'll still get a few laughs out of my first solo visit to this weird and wonderful place. More soon!

Domestically Disinclined

A couple of years ago, Garrett gave me a coffee mug bearing the slogan “domestically disabled”, and it’s not entirely accurate, although the end result is the same. It’s not that I can’t PERFORM routine household tasks, it more that I can’t BRING MYSELF to do them. A few examples: the mountain of laundry that awaits me downstairs, the dining room floor that needs to be mopped, and the windows that need to be cleaned. Maybe it would be more accurate to say I'm "domestically disinclined".

I don’t know how our mothers and grandmothers did it; cleaning all day, taking care of kids, whipping up tuna casseroles, and maintaining a perfectly coiffed head of roller set curls would have made me crazy. If I had my way, I’d have a housekeeper, a landscaping crew, a chef/sommelier, and a masseur.

Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

My Trove of Dirty Secrets

Ok, so it's only really an iPod, but it's not altogether untrue, and it's definitely a more provocative title. Lots of us have iPods, and I'm willing to bet there are more than a few dirty secrets in them.

You know what I mean; I'm talking about the songs you love, but you feel stupid admitting it. Well, I will hide my shame no more. I hereby declare that the following songs are either currently on my top rated play list, or they are on my list of "must download" tunes. I've listed them here in the order of least embarrassing to "I-Can't Freakin'-Believe-I'm-Admitting-This".

  • Fergielicious by Fergie

  • My Humps by Black Eyed Peas

  • It Takes 2 To Make a Thing Go Right by Rob Base

  • Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler

  • Hold On by Wilson Phillips

  • Afternoon Delight by Starlight Vocal Band

So, there you have it. Are we still friends?

Perplexing Question

We all know we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We need to change our habits: use public transportation, combine our errands, support alternative fuels. The question that's been nagging me over the last couple of months relates to a simple way we could reduce our fuel consumption if our local governments would support and implement it.

Why aren't traffic lights synchronized better?

This has come to my attention on several errand-running marathons when I've been on surface streets. If I'm observing posted speed limits, why am I stopping at almost every light? Isn't all that starting, stopping, and idling wasting gas?

If you know the answer to this, or how to get this info, please comment on this post. I'd be interested in mounting some sort of campaign to improve the synchronization in my area. Someone out there knows the answer!

My Six Irrational Fears

As a follow-up to the Six Things People Don’t Know About Me, I’m pleased to present My Six Irrational Fears. As I noted in my original “Six Things” post, I’m too much of a language snob to call this my “Six Things I’m Afraid Of”, because that would end in a preposition. I’m literally a slave to my neuroses, but I like to think that's part of my charm.

In any case, I had a lot of fun with that post, and I thought this might be almost as fun. I do have some ridiculous fears, as you’ll see.

1. Thanks to That Old Nag Candy, I’m Terrified of Horses. November, 1990: It was a misty morning in pastoral Castroville, California when I first met Candy, a 12 year old nag owned by my friend Joy’s father. We’d spent a fun night at Joy’s house, watching The Princess Bride and eating artichokes, and we woke up in the morning to a breakfast of Mickey Mouse pancakes. After breakfast we were set to go riding, which I’d never done before. One moment, I was happily mounting Candy and picking up the reins, and the next minute I was on my back next to a steaming pile of horse hockey, staring at Candy’s undercarriage with the wind knocked out of me. In fairness to Candy, I’m sure I did something wrong, but I won’t make that mistake again, because I don’t go near horses!

2. Airbags: The Inflatable Guillotine? – There’s no real reason behind this one, except that I’m 5’1” and I sit pretty close to the steering wheel. I have visions of the damn thing inflating in some fender bender and blowing my head right off my shoulders.

3. I May Need 10mg of Valium Just to Write About Flying – I was never afraid of flying until a fateful business trip to Rhode Island to meet a client. Everything was cool on the flight for the first 30 minutes or so, when we reached cruising altitude. The seatbelt sign went off, I did what anyone with a bladder the size of a peanut would do after a Venti Americano on the concourse. While I was in the lavatory, the plane shuddered and emitted a loud boom. Suddenly the flight attendant was banging on the door telling me to come out, “dressed or not”. I stepped out, whereupon she slammed me by the back of my shirt into a seat. There I sat amidst my trembling, crying fellow passengers for the 45 minutes it took to get back to the Atlanta airport for the emergency landing because one of the engines was ON FIRE. I saw one flight attendant crying, and another asked some passengers whether they’d given their hearts to Jesus yet, which let me know there was a strong possibility we were totally hosed and about to die in a twisted ball of metal. We made an emergency landing on a “special” runway with fire trucks and ambulances at the ready. No one was hurt, thankfully, but yeah, now I’d rather take the train!

4. The Day I Quit Getting Carded – Yes, I’m 37, and I still get carded sometimes when I encounter a clerk who's a little stoned. About 6 months ago I even got carded trying to buy a lottery ticket. I admit I’m obsessed with looking younger than my age, and I’ve even been getting laser treatments every month to keep the wrinkles at bay. Vanity, Thy Name is Addie!

5. Escalators: The Devil’s Skin-Crushing Pinking Shears – When I was about five years old, I stepped onto a “down” escalator with my Mom. About 1/3 of the way down, I slipped and rolled down to the bottom, all the while bouncing off those teeth at the edge of each step. Once I reached the bottom, my clothes got stuck in the mechanism somehow and as each step flattened out, it squashed my skin and left bloody blisters on my arms and legs. Needless to say, I much prefer the stairs.

6. The Dental Sadist, Euphemism “Dentist” – I find it hard to trust anyone who wants to put their hands in my mouth. I’ve never really had a bad experience at the dentist, so there’s no precedent for this fear other than raging neurotic identification with the bad experiences of others. I probably need therapy, the fainting-couch Freudian kind. I would say the therapy should be in a European sanitarium, but that would require a LONG flight, wouldn’t it?

Hoover's New Diet

Raw chicken, canned pumpkin, & steel wool. Allow me to explain.

In the greyhound community, a lively debate crops up every now and then between the devotees of kibble, and the disciples of raw feeding. I've always fed my pets kibble, and decided to give raw feeding a try, and we started with chicken backs.

Bruno didn't take to it easily, while Hoover crunched into that first chicken back on Saturday so enthusiastically I couldn't help but imagine that he was thinking, "Oh dear, sweet chicken back, where have you been all my life?". All was well for a couple of days, until I noticed one of the normal side effects of any dietary change - Hoover was unable to heed the call of "doody". Was I worried? Of course not, I just brought out the canned pumpkin, and order was restored within about 4 hours. I'm now referring to canned pumpkin as "The Canine Colonic".

Fast forward to yesterday morning.

I noticed around 9:30 that he seemed not to be feeling well. Sure enough, he started to gag and hack around 11:00, and I ushered him outside just in time to see him eject something that looked like a hockey puck. Upon closer inspection (you would have looked, too), I realized it looked like a hockey puck made of hair. I slapped on some gloves and picked it up and found that it was an S.O.S. pad. That's right, Hoover swallowed a disc of steel wool packed with powdered soap.

Child safety latches are going on all the cabinets on Saturday.

My Crazy Toes

Since I don't have a video camera that could really show my my toe-robics, I'm limited to this picture of my toe-spreading abilities. I can easily wiggle the pinkie back and forth so that it crosses the fourth toe, and I can wave with my big toe. I've never been coordinated or athletic, so this is probably the most incredible physical feat (get it, feat?) you'll ever see me perform.

In any case, enjoy! Or throw up, if you're not much of a foot person.

Six Things People Don’t Know About Me

This feature is a little something that’s been going around in the SEGA/SECG blog ring, and I’m considering myself tagged by Maria, who tagged anyone who hasn’t been tagged yet. So, without further ado, Six Things People Don’t Know About Me:

1. I Was a Russian Linguist in the Army. I shipped out to Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, SC the day after I graduated high school, and studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute for 47 weeks. I arrived not knowing Cyrillic from Saran Wrap, and left pretty well able to hold my own. Incidentally, I also sang in the смелый российский хор, which is translated into the Brave Russian Choir, and pronounced Smelly Russki Whore. My singing career in the Army was short, but I served on active duty for 4 years, and also served 1 year in the Army Reserve.

2. I Worked as a Telephone Psychic in College, and yes, it’s fake! After leaving the Army, I stayed at home with the kids for a while before going back to college and undertook my undergrad degree when Jared was in kindergarten and Tyler was four years old. In any case, I fell into this strange vocation by answering an ad for work that could be done at home. When the woman who interviewed me explained the position was for a telephone psychic, I told her I would have to pass on the job because I don’t have psychic abilities, and she snorted, “Oh honey, that doesn’t matter!”. Want me to read your tea leaves?

3. Sometimes I Can Hear You, Sometimes I Can’t. A couple of days before my 32nd birthday, I woke up almost completely deaf in my left ear with an obnoxious roar in my right ear and an almost complete loss of balance. As it turns out, the condition is called Meniere’s Disease, and was not a brain tumor as I was originally told was most probable. One of the features of Meniere’s is that the hearing loss fluctuates, so some days I can hear more than others. In any case, it beats the hell out of a brain tumor, but you might want to stand on my right when you talk to me.

4. I’m a Language Snob. When I hear people say we live in a “doggie dog” world, or that they are “enamored with” (instead of enamored of) something, it makes me cringe. I could give a lot of examples, but my least favorite is when someone uses the term “gold standard” incorrectly (i.e., “This carpet is the gold standard of acrylic shag.”). For the record, the gold standard is the economic principle that states that a government should circulate an amount of currency that is equivalent to the amount of gold held in reserve. It has nothing to do with tires, carpet, cars, or jewelry, for that matter. There! I feel so much better now.

5. I Can Do Ridiculous Things With My Toes. I can pick things up, spread them out an incredible amount, and I can move the pinkie toe and the big man independently. I’ll be glad to show you, much to my family’s chagrin!

6. I’m Aware That I Don’t Have a Tan. I feel another rant coming on here, but please bear with me. I’ll never figure out why people need to point out to me that I’m pale. My favorite phrase is, “Wow, your legs are so bright…I need my sunglasses!”. If you have ever said this to anyone, there’s a strong possibility that you, Sir or Madam, are a colossal toolbox. No one would ever THINK of saying to someone of a different ethnic background, “Oh, it’s so dark in here, get me a flashlight.” It’s just as ignorant to point out that someone is pale, and it makes me crazy!

Well, that’s it for me. I tag Ashley and anyone who is still lurking who hasn’t done this.