Welcome to the world of the Adventurous Bug!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Little Woman

Here is the truth: I did not believe that two people could be made for each other before I met my husband. I'm not entirely sure I believed in love at all before he sat down beside me at that wedding and we found ourselves talking about tractors, and farming, and how he should move to Kansas and be my tractor driver within ten minutes of saying hello (not kidding, that actually happened). I'd dated men before, some seriously, some not-so-seriously--but I'd always thought you just chose who you wanted to be with. Perhaps I'd choose someone funny, or clever, or driven. Maybe I'd go with someone laid back, or dominant, or athletic, or musical. The point is that I thought I'd CHOOSE. That whole "Falling In Love" thing--yeah, I didn't believe in that AT ALL. Like, at ALL, AT ALL. Nope. Not. Even. A. Little. In fact, I've always had trouble picturing myself married at all.

My only truly, properly serious boyfriend before I met The Hub is now a dear, darling friend. I feel exceedingly lucky that things turned out this way, as the list of things I didn't know about being in a relationship and the mistakes I made while in it could fill a novel. I was so obstinant (I know, even worse than I am now), so selfish, self-righteous, suspicious, and judgmental. And I'm pretty sure I expected him to be a mindreader. My faults and relationship-ignorance alone were enough to doom the relationship from the start. But, I'm glad we've been able to stay friends. I feel pretty indebted to him for that experience because, without it, I don't think I would've been ready for The Hub when I met him. I learned a lot about myself--who I am, and who I ought to strive to be.

So, I am now extremely dedicated to being a good wife. Not a doormat, as some people seem to think this is what constitutes a good wife, and not a smiling, nodding yes-lady--but a good wife nonetheless. And one of the ways I am trying the hardest is in the kitchen. See, I have never considered myself a cook. I like too few things (a consequence of being a supertaster, yes, but I'd probably be persnickety even without the overly sensitive taste buds), and have never branched out in the kitchen before. I like simple, uncomplicated things (things with very few separate tastes). And, I bake! That's what I enjoy! Cookies, cakes, bread, pastries, pie--these are the things I'm good at. What a clever joke the universe played on me. The man I fell in love with (oh yes, that does happen, I know this now) DOESN'T LIKE SWEETS. Oh bugger.

But he likes everything else (nearly). And so, in an effort to make my hubby happy, I am making a very lot of different things. Things that I would never, ever, not in a million-billion years ever eat. I have made stuffed peppers, eggs benedict, chicken rogan josh, pork fried rice, beef merlot--things with complicated sauces, and spices, and twenty-five different ingredients in ONE DISH! My God, it's been a warzone of flying garlic and seething pepper. The house has smelled like a house where people eat actual food (not just popcorn, cheese and crackers, and slices of bread), and it's been wonderful. And also sometimes horrible (I'm looking at YOU Tikka Masala). But mostly wonderful. And, the thing that makes me happiest is that I think my efforts at kitchen experimentation DO make him happy. Mostly I make good things. Sometimes I make mediocre things. I haven't yet made anything inedible, but I expect I will one day. But, as Beckett said, "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Fail better. Now, there is an idea I can get behind.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

Or a Bean in Bee's clothing? Or a Millie in Moo's clothing? OBSERVE! The rest of our Halloween:

I'll wait while you collect yourselves after that onslaught of cuteness.

Feeling better? Good. Now let me tell you about why I feel like my legs are going to fall off.

PILATES. I used to do Pilates. Remember when I was incredibly thin, and fit, and gorgeous? Well, fit anyway? Yes, me too. Remember how excited I was, after several months of general sloth upon returning to Kansas, to have a treadmill and an elliptical machine installed in my own home? Yes, me too. Remember how I used them a few times, and then resigned myself to staring at them guiltily as I sat on the couch watching TV with the Hubby every evening? You don't? That's because I never told you--but that's exactly what's been happening. That's been happening to the tune of fifteen POUNDS. FIFTEEN pounds. FIVE plus TEN. That's how much weight I've gained this year. Yikes, I know. Hideous. Horrifying. One whole pants size. That's just unpleasant.

I don't know how much the Hub has gained. I don't ask. He doesn't tell. But a couple of weeks ago he said he'd had enough. Time to get fit. And, like some sort of machine, he set about it. He discovered that our television (amazing as I thought it was already) had the most incredibly wonderful thing to happen in rural Kansas since the REA delivered our first electricity. Now, pardon the CAPS, but I find it this important.


Think about it. Every week the instructors post new workouts (Treadmill, Yoga, Pilates, Core Strengthening, Dance, "Extreme Cardio", Step Aerobics, Stretching, etc.), and old workouts are archived so that they can still be played. This means you don't have to do the same workout every day, as with a DVD. You have CHOICE. VARIATION. It is like having a dozen personal trainers.

Let that sink in. In two weeks, using the gift of internet tv (and me trying my best to cook him responsibly healthy dinners), Hub has recorded weight loss. So, yesterday I decided I'd also had enough. "Eeee-NOUGH already!" I shouted, and marched myself downstairs. I decided to start small. Pilates for half an hour. Taxing enough that I'd feel proud for doing something (other than sitting in front of my computer all day mumbling synonyms and sporadically shouting swear words), but not so taxing that I'd be intimidated and therefore not continue.

It was great. I felt wonderful. This morning my abs were sore, but in that delightfully burn-ey way that lets you know you have done something GOOD for yourself. It feels bad, but in the best sort of way. So this morning I decided I could do more. MORE. I did Pilates to start and then, obviously in some sort of endorphin-induced mania, I did kickboxing. The teacher is pregnant. Pregnant and completely insane. She didn't stop moving for a half an hour. Arms, legs, punching kicking, squatting, jumping, running, lunging, hopping--JESUS! Ten minutes in and I just wanted to crawl under a blanket an hide from the shouting pregnant lady... but I didn't. I DIDN'T. I punched, and kicked, and squatted, and jumped, and ran until I thought my legs might possibly just decide to detach themselves and walk away from that shit on their own. But they didn't. And we got through it.

Now, tomorrow I may not do kickboxing again. The wonder of GymBox means I don't have to. But I will do something. Anything. And these fifteen pounds will melt away and be gone forever. Or, at least until I forget that in order to feel my best, I HAVE TO KEEP MOVING. And, then again, maybe if I get to keep working out with GymBox, I'll never forget that again!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


My husband and I officially started dating at a Halloween party that was held on November 1st, 2008. To me November 1st is Dia de los Muertos, and I referred to it as a Dia de los Muertos party--everybody else called it a Halloween party. It irked me until I made a bet--a tiny little bet, that changed my life. I bet the handsomest man I'd ever met that he couldn't wear the world's most itchy beard until midnight (he was trying to take it off by 9pm). We hadn't settled what the loser of the bet would have to do, but that man very stubbornly kept that beard on until midnight. Our mutual friend (at whose wedding we had met a week previously) called time on the bet, and made that very handsome man (dressed up like Buddy Christ from the film Dogma) choose what the bet payment would be. He chose a kiss on the cheek. I quite happily payed up. And then I did one of the most un-like me things I've ever done. As he was still blushing from my little peck on the cheek, I took his face in my hands and planted a full-fledged kiss right on his adorable little mouth. And that was that. We've been pretty much inseparable ever since.

By the next Halloween we were engaged. We went to another small house party, and enjoyed ourselves (though not quite as much as that first magical Halloween!). We spent a good part of the night talking about our lives together. It was wonderful. I loved getting to dress up and spend time with the man who would be my husband.

And then came Halloween 2010. I had left Scotland on the 30th for the last time. My then fiance had to stay in Britain, as his visa for moving to the US hadn't yet been approved. It was gut wrenching--not knowing when we'd next see each other, if there would be a Halloween in our future as man and wife... But it did come through. And that led us to Halloween 2011.

Man and wife! We've still got paperwork hanging over our heads, greencard stuff this time, and I know in the future we'll have citizenship paperwork, and maybe homework, and who knows what else. But this much I know for sure--every Halloween I get to spend with this man makes me remember that first one (Dia de los Muertos, Halloween--love, anyway). And that makes it my favorite holiday by far!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Here Lies Peter Rabbit

I'm sure some of you were wondering how Peter Rabbit got along, and the heartbreaking answer is that he didn't. He died about a week after he came to us. I can not overstate how much his death affected me. He suckled on my finger as I fed him every three hours for a week. Part of me honestly (pathetically?) thought that I could will him to live through the power of love. Well, that didn't work at all. He died, and I spent several days sporadically breaking into debilitating tears that left me stranded in a heap on various patches of carpet all over the house. My family, especially my mom and husband, were very supportive--even if they didn't understand how the death of a creature that had been around only a week could have such an impact on me. With Husband's help, I buried Peter in this planter and planted white and dark purple tulip bulbs over him. I look forward to seeing them in the spring, and knowing that warrens all over the world will be filled with new bunnies that won't end up clinging desperately to life in my living room.

So, yes, I'm sorry. I haven't really been ready to write about Peter's passing until now (though I'm still crying). For those of you who find yourselves in possession of a day old infant rabbit (as we've now estimated Peter couldn't have been over a day or two old when his warren was destroyed)--please do whatever it takes to get the bunny to a professional wildlife rehabilitation specialist. You can't do it on your own. Not even if you pour all the love you have in your heart into the attempt. I promise.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wholeheartedly Hope to Hop

There I was, minding my own business. Feeling relatively happy with the layout of my life--dogs (beautiful, silly, and continuously joyful), fish (Edgar and Steve, goldfish, apparently content with their little watery worlds), husband (tall, dark, handsome, often smelly, always wonderful), family (aging, loving, close in both proximity and care for each other). When in walks my husband from a day spent helping my dad move dirt, and he looks at me rather cheekily and says, "I have something for you." He proceeds to show me a rather beat-up looking work glove. "Um... okay? Thank you?" I say in the most questioning tone I can muster. "It's not the glove--it's what's in the glove. And he pulls out what appears to be a wrinkled, nearly naked, sleeping mouse. I can only imagine the look of sheer horror on my face, as I WAS horrified at the thought of my generally delightful spouse bringing me home a wrinkly mouse in the hopes of pleasing me.

Of course, I should have guessed that Husband would know I wouldn't appreciate the world's ugliest mouse being brought into our home and being held in a shockingly loving manner. It wasn't a mouse at all. It's a bunny. From our research he's about 3-5 days old--eyes closed, ears still firmly planted back on his head. His warren was destroyed in the moving of dirt, and his sibling was crushed. Somehow this little creature survived. My dad told Husband to throw it away, as baby bunnies are the hardest wild animals to raise. Husband, being softhearted and knowing his wife was extremely softhearted when it comes to the cause of animals everywhere, couldn't do it. So he brought our new friend home, and I'm trying my best to raise him to five weeks. From the research I've been doing since the second he arrived here, I'm never going to save this bunny. There are approximately five million things that can, and probably will go wrong. He's going to die.

And yet... God help us both...

We've named him Peter.

We think he's a cottontail.

That's my hand, so those of you who know me will realize exactly how small that makes Peter Rabbit.

And, right now, I want nothing so much as I want to raise this bunny to be a healthy, happy cottontail--able to go back into the wild in five weeks time, knowing my very best wishes and a very lot of love will be hopping along with him for the rest of his natural life.

Please God, help me save this bunny.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Girl Can't Count

Do you know what? I can't count. I forgot a whole day. In fact, the day I forgot was the ACTUAL day 4 of the photo challenge. Prompt: Favorite color.

GREEN! I love green. Green is growth, and life, and spring and summer, and never ending seas of twelve foot tall silken corn stalks in August. Well, most Augusts, but not this one. We've had so little rain here in the parched Midwest, that the corn kinda puttered out around six feet (or less). Breaks my little heart!

Now, because I forgot the REAL day four, that means you're caught up to day six. Day seven was 'something new.' Well, I wanted to take a picture of something new that is ALSO something I love.

Hello, Millie! How on earth this "little" brown dog (we've started saying, "How now, brown cow?" when she comes up begging for food) has decided that the most awesome place ever in the middle of a 103 degree afternoon is on the concrete in the sunshine--I'll never know. She spends half an hour out there, and then when she comes in her "hur" is so hot I can barely pet her. What a nut!

Day eight's prompt was technology. And, for me, this was an incredibly easy one as there are TWO pieces of tech that I love-love-love. One is my iPhone, which I've been using to take pictures. The second is my iPad (slave to Apple--guilty), which I photographed open to my favorite game!

Cut the rope! WOO-HOO! I don't know if you've ever played Cut The Rope, but it is my favorite thing after my husband, doggies, immediate family, a couple of friends, and Baxter the Jeep. The thing is--I'm GOOD at it. And it's challenging, but I can do it--unlike, virtually all other technologically advanced games since Super Mario Brothers on the NES. Yes, I'm that pathetic at gaming. But, then along came Cut The Rope and I feel like it was magically made for me.

Day Nine, that's today! Today's prompt was a 'Faceless Self Portrait.' Again, for me, this seems easy.

Who am I if not a redhead? It's the first thing people say about me when trying to place me for someone else. Kate Dowd/Morrison? She's the redhead. That's me. I'm the redhead. And, with a couple of horrible phases of black hair (one on purpose, one accidental) that's always been me. I hope that'll be me for a very long time, though a lot of redheads lose their luster and start turning brunette around baby-having time. COULD I ever forgive a kid for stealing the copper from my hair? Oooh, I just don't know. I just. don't. know....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baking Bread and Breaking It

First, because I'm still laboring under the pretense that you might possibly be interested in this photo challenge, pictures from days Three and Four.

Day Three. Prompt: Clouds.

Luckily the Kansas sky was willing to cooperate with my picture-taking agenda. For several days previous we'd had an endless blanket of bright blue. So, thanks for your help, Western Kansas!

Day Four. Prompt: Someone I Love.

Because that husband fellow wasn't cooperating with my photographic needs, I had to turn to a couple of OTHER someones that I love very much!

And today is Day Five. Prompt: Childhood Memories

Well. My childhood is a vast and strange place. A place full of planes that dance through the sky, and giant hulking wrecks that sprout from the ground like rusty weeds. A place where propellers outnumber people roughly 50:1. A place where silence is so revered that Child Bug gets frequently bundled away to another house, a magical place filled with magical people. Old people whose knowledge is boundless, stories mesmerizing, music either twanging and driving like a locomotive or blazing trumpets and howling trombones laced above a harmonic rush of woodwinds and the pushy, playful syncopation of the drums. These old people, endlessly loving, unquestionably supportive, constantly interested in a solitary little girl's ramblings--they are the true heroes of all my best childhood memories. And, because I couldn't take a picture of driving along dirt roads with Grandpa John listening to Johnny Cash, holding hands and imagining that I could see the love flowing from his heart to mine through our intertwined hands--mine so very small and white, his so very big and brown--I turned to my second favorite memory. Baking with my Nannie.

Now, for those of you new to my blog, or perhaps not well acquainted with me, I will tell you now that baking is very, very important to me. It has always been this way. I used to cherish the days when my mother would bake, and I longed to be underfoot when Nannie was kneading dough. I felt a connection, even when I was so young, that I struggle to explain. I could see myself in my mother, in my grandmother, and I pictured their mothers and grandmothers before them--all in a beautiful, flour-covered line that lead right to me. Baking is a thread for me, a life-line to generations past and generations to come. Mostly though, it has become for me the way I honor my grandmother now that she is unable to bake. She is unable to make her own toast now, because she can't remember how.

And so, armed with the memory of standing on a step-stool in Nannie's kitchen, watching her hands disappear into the flour, and emerge sprinkling it like snow on the countertop, and her long fingers pushing into the dough--I began to bake.

Bread. Can you smell it? The house smells like love and flour and butter and happiness. I'll be sharing, don't you worry!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day Two--The Haitian Revolution and The Rise Of New Orleanian Voodoo

And here is a picture of my voodoo doll:

No! No, I kid. That is the picture for Day Two of the photography challenge.

Today's challenge: What I Wore.

I'm assuming the prompt is referring to what I wore today, and because today is just another day in the life of this writer/student/researcher I got to wear my loungey clothes! And yes, that does make me happy!

As you may have surmised (because you're a very clever reader, I know you are), my morning has been largely spent doing research into the migration of slave owners and their remaining slaves after the revolution on Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) to New Orleans, and Louisiana. Mostly if and how this impacted American slaves in the practicing of their religions throughout the South, and in particular the Mississippi Delta region. Vodou becomes Voodoo, and DOES it spread out like tendrils of smoke from the ruins of Saint-Domingue? And DOES it change and stretch and grow and creep into something new, and strange, and wonderful? Well, for that you'll just have to dig up my doctoral dissertation... when I finish it... which shouldn't be a terribly lot longer.

Bug, you are saying to me, why are you doing all this work if you don't want to be a professor? I don't know. No, that's not true. I do know. On the long list (the ridiculously long list) of things that I do not like, in the top five is "Quitting." That and I'm really, painfully, idiotically stubborn. Probably those two things are related somehow.

And, one day, if I ever finish this thing and they decide to get rid of me by awarding me a doctoral degree, I'll be quite content to open my bakery every morning with a sign that reads: The Doctor Is IN. Or, you know, figure out what it is I want to do that seems also plausible to do. I'm feeling sick just thinking about it.

OH! And SPEAKING of feeling sick:

Dear Main J-City American Food Eatery,
a word, if you please.
A few months ago I ate your chicken strips they were perfect--light, buttery breading with, most importantly, NO PEPPER. Today I decided to order out and--SHOCK! HORROR! BURNING PAIN IN MY MOUTH! Pepper everywhere. I mean, come on fellas! Give a girl a break here! I had an hour for my lunch and you've bloody ruined it. Thanks for the Dr. Pepper, it was the best part of my horrible meal. Henceforth that is all I'll be having at your establishment.

Yours Disgustedly,
Little Bug

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Well, alright then.

I'm back. Things went slightly haywire after a couple of cake-related posts mysteriously disappeared. As I had put quite a lot of time into the posts and felt very happy with them, I really wasn't looking forward to redoing them. So I put it off for a day, and then a week. And all of a sudden a week turned into a month, which turned into quite a few months. My apologies.

Today two things happened. Well, that's not entirely true as quite a lot of things happened today. I'll say this instead: two things significantly blog-related happened today.

One, my Aunt (my only aunt, but she'd be my favorite even if I had bunches) posted to her facebook encouraging people to read my blog. This reminded me that people DO read what I'm writing, and there are actually people who miss it when I go on hiatus.

Two, I was invited to partake in a photography challenge--30 days, 30 prompts, 30 pictures. As the world's worst photographer (no, seriously, I really am), I've decided to use this time to try my very hardest to take the best picture I can... during my lunch break each day. Today's prompt was a self portrait.

So this is me.

Cleverly done (in my humble opinion) to avoid having to put makeup on.


Thank you, thank you, I'll be here with no makeup on all week!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On Traveling Alone

I have had to do a lot of traveling alone in my life. Hundreds (yes, actually hundreds) of hours spent on airplanes and in airports--by myself. Now this is something that I endure, but it hasn't ever been something I endure happily. However, my first Christmas journey home from Spokane, Washington (where I did my undergraduate work at Gonzaga University), I was wandering the Seattle airport trying to waste the three hours before my connecting flight to Denver when I moseyed into a bookstore and ran across an old friend.

J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."

I was uncomfortable, so painfully uncomfortable, being on my own--but the remaining journey spent with my terrifically interesting companion was actually pleasant. I enjoyed settling down in that horrible airport bench/chair and catching up with Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves. I was home before we found the weakness in Smaug's armor. I finished the book my first night home, and sat it gratefully on the shelf.

Since that first long flight there have been countless others. Christmasses, Spring Breaks, Summers, across continents, and oceans--mostly alone. But now I find I'm never really alone. Not really. Because I know I have friends in every airport bookshop. There are eight copies of The Hobbit residing on my shelves, and six copies of Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere." There is nothing that makes travel more pleasant than a wonderful, well-loved book.

My mom doesn't understand my collection. When she travels, she picks new books--a whole stack of them--and tries them all. I don't understand wanting to risk spending 10+ hours with a boring, relentlessly chatty stranger--a flight from Glasgow, Scotland to Denver, Colorado with a boring book?! God help me! I'd much rather fly with someone I know and love.

And, while I own an iPad, I don't think the number of Hobbits on the shelf is likely to stop increasing. When you put an iPad on your lap, people feel compelled to ask you about it. Is it really faster than the old one? Can you get your email on that thing? Do you have to pay for wifi in the airport? And on, and on, and on. When you open a book--a good, old fashioned, crisp-spined, ink-smelling book--it is, almost always, an indicator that you don't want to be bothered. You're already having a conversation--with a Hobbit!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Piece of Cake

First, a story.

Last Sunday I noticed Millie, our adorable 5 month old Goldendoodle, had an odd lump on the left side of her muzzle. It felt like a knot, and I assumed she'd developed an abscess after poking herself in the face with a stick (she's a puppy--it could definitely happen). I resolved to take her to the vet on Monday morning.

On to Monday morning when I realize the puppy's face is now severely swollen, cracked, and oozing slightly red. PANIC! And the vet won't be in until the afternoon?! Husband stayed home to take her to the vet (I had to venture down to Mom's office to help while her office manager was out), and we found out the lovely puppy had gotten cellulitis. Essentially, she got bitten during a rough session of playtime and it got infected. With the way she harasses the older dogs, I can't say as I'm surprised she pushed one of them far enough to properly bite her snout.

So, it was scary looking, but she'd be just fine with a round of antibiotics. Of course, Husband has never had a dog before, and I was going to be gone for three days. It was going to be completely up to him to administer the pills.
"How do I give her the antibiotic?" he asks the vet.
"Piece of cheese," responds the vet.
Husband finds that he's confused. "Do you mean pice of cake?" he asks.
The vet laughs.
The vet-tech laughs.
Husband realizes that no, in fact 'piece of cheese' is not some odd American variation on the saying 'piece of cake'--the vet is actually telling him to give the antibiotic to the dog in a piece of cheese!

From now on, anytime I have to explain that something is going to be easy, I'm going to say it's a piece of cheese!

I wanted to bake something today, but I couldn't decide what. There are so many amazing recipes out there--but where do I start? And it dawned on me--I should be trying them ALL. Not flipping through book after book wondering what recipes are good, and what aren't--I should just MAKE THEM. So, starting tomorrow, I'm making a cake a week for the next year. I sifted through all the books in the house and have come up with forty recipes that I will try. However, that still leaves me twelve weeks of no cake!

Please, dear reader, would you do me the honor of sending me YOUR favorite cake recipe(s)? I'm resolved to make nothing I've ever made before during this Year Of Cake... starting tomorrow! Stay tuned, and send in those recipes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Phantom Menace

She's never seen it, but it scares her.
It rumbles deeply--threateningly.
Its noises grow closer, louder, more terrifying with every passing minute.
It screams as if it has borrowed the throat of a banshee.
She believes it portends death.
Sandy, the revered Golden Retriever, stands in the back yard and shrieks a howl of defiance and warning.
Unable to defend her family, or herself--
unable even to muster the sheer lunatic bravery needed to catch a glimpse of the devil--
she flees to the only safe place she can go....

Oh, Cassie. *sigh* The garbage truck is not going to steal your soul.

Why do you act like it's the last horseman of the apocalypse (after the UPS man, FedEx, and thunderstorms)?

You're turning a year old on May 14th, and I think it's time you start acting like a big girl.

I didn't realize we were having thunderstorms this afternoon, Cass. I guess I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Windy City

Yesterday the Husband-fellow and I were driving to G-City (a "nearby" city so large it has a Wal-Mart AND a Home Depot... and an Applebee's!) to pick up some things for the yard. Well, I say they're for the yard but really they're to stop the archaeological excavations being performed by the esteemed landscaping duo, Doodles Inc. At some point Husband said, "They call Chicago the windy city, right? It can't possibly be windier than this, can it?" Ah, the keen observational sense of those Scots.

This launched me into one of my (many, many) favorite bits of trivia. Namely, that the moniker "The Windy City" has nothing to do with Chicago's lake effect winds. (It's slightly windier than New York on average, but less windy than Boston--for example.) There are a few hypotheses about just how Chicago's braggadocio earned their city such a nickname. One suggestion is that it started during the late 1800s when Chicago and Cincinnati were rivals. From the 1870s there are several examples in Cincinnati newspapers calling Chicago "that Windy City" in reference to Chicago's claims to have surpassed Cincinnati's pork production (which Chicago did actually do before the turn of the century), and again when speaking of Chicago's boast that their "White Stockings" were a better baseball team than Cincinnati's "Red Stockings." I love this 5 March 1879 poem from the Cincinnati Enquirer: There was a young man from Chicago,/ it was strange how he did make his jaw go./ One nice day he did to his pa go,/ saying "Really father, does ma know/ If for crime and deceit / any city can beat / the windy old town of Chicago. Ouch. (Although, it is to be noted that the residents of Milwaukee apparently didn't care much for Chicagoans either. From the Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, 4 July 1860, "We are proud of Milwaukee because she is not overrun with a lazy police force as is Chicago -- because her morals are better, he [sic] criminals fewer, her credit better; and her taxes lighter in proportion to her valuation than Chicago, the windy city of the West." Yowza, Milwaukee. Harsh.)

I prefer, however, the idea that the nickname really took hold during the 1890 World's Fair bidding. New Yorkers could not believe that the Chicagoans could beat them, that some upstart little "frontier town" could take prominence over New York City. Silly New Yorkers. There's a famous quote from New York newspaperman Charles Dana (though whether it's a direct quote or not seems to be under some question), "Don't pay attention to the nonsensical claims of that windy city. It's people could not build a world's fair if they won it." Tsktsk. Don't overlook the underdog. That should be added to the plaque at the Statue of Liberty. At any rate, Chicago won the fair (after a prolonged period of back-and-forth sniping between Chicago and NYC journalists) and they did manage to put on a spectacular show, much to the chagrin of those New Yorkers! I recommend "Devil in the White City" for both historical facts and decent storytelling.

Windy City, indeed. Chicago's average annual wind speed is 10.3mph. J-City, Kansas has an average annual wind speed of 9 m/s, or 20.1mph. Sorry Chicago. I know you want people to think you're called The Windy City because of the lake effect, but I'm officially changing it to the City of Swagger, and I'm awarding the title "The Windy City" where it belongs--HERE! Or, at least, here before it blows awaaaaayyyyyyyy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

(Dog) T i m e (Really) F l i e s

It happens every day. Every. Single. Day.

I wake up, scratch Cassie's ears and kiss her on the nose (even though she knows she's not supposed to be on the bed, she always is), and I let Millie out of her playpen (yes, the dog has a playpen). And then it happens. Every day. I think, "That dog is bigger than she was when she went in last night."

My mom comes home every week, every single week, from her three-day stint at her office in another town and she says, "I think that dog grew while I was gone!"

It happens every day, and every day I feel both saddened and excited by it. It's simultaneously the best, and worst thing about having a puppy. Watching them grow is miraculous, but it's also a bit heartbreaking to see that cute little puppy fade, turn into a gangly teenager, and then a fully-fleshed dog. It happens so fast! SO FAST! And it's always different than the dog who came before-- they grow long backs or tall legs, they get so skinny or wide and dense (Millie, I'm looking at you), their snouts get longer or wider, their noses turn brown or pink or stay cold and black, or their ears perk up or droop low, their barks go from that puppy yap to a grown-dog woof... it's spectacular. Never the same.

And, I missed Cassie's biggest growth spurt, you see. When I got her, she looked like this:

Adorable, no?

I left for Scotland when she was nearly four months old. When I came back she was nearly six months old and she looked like this:

Where did my adorable little baby dog GO?!

I thought much the same thing about the Twodles (Mom's pair, Abby and Macy, who were born on the same day back in...late '07, I think). The day we carted them home they looked like this:

Sandy was annoyed by their presence. (Sandy is still largely annoyed by their presence, although she seems to like Cassie and Millie just fine. She even plays with them... she even tries to get THEM to play with HER!)

Today we have this:

Oh, Macy, how embarrassing! Getting caught picking your nose!

Such wonderful creatures, our Doodles. Millie is absolutely no exception. She's a great little girl, and I'm glad every day that John chose her (he does seem to have pretty good taste in women). The day she came home, January 2nd, she was 8 weeks old and she (we) looked like this:


Today... she's just turned five months old, and I'm not wearing any makeup.

Cassie's turning one next month, and Millie will be getting spayed. Time goes so fast...SO fast. But I'm loving who they're becoming, learning their habits, quirks, and traits. And, honestly, I have no idea how big Millie is going to get, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if she was the biggest Doodle in the family. At FIVE MONTHS she weighs the same as Cassie, and just 8lbs. less than Abby! She's nearly as tall as Abby too!

PS: For those of you not interested in our Muttley Crew, I apologize for this incredibly dog-heavy post. I'll stop being so maudlin, I promise, and get back to normal posting starting tomorrow!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Oh, &*#%@^#*!

There are several things I would like to have accomplished by the time I turn 30. As I just turned 28 in March, I find that my remaining time is growing short. So, in no particular order, here are the things I would like to have done:

#1: Watch Your @*(#^$%ing MOUTH!
Yep. I would like to have obliterated all those coarse words from my vocabulary. I'm trying fairly hard. 'Rats' is my go-to word now. Stubbed my toe trying to find the bathroom in the dark? RATS! Thought I had another Milano double-chocolate cookie, but didn't? RATS! Didn't get the freezer door closed all the way last night, and am now standing in a puddle of defrosted meat blood and ice cream? RATS! Okay, that last one didn't happen today it happened a couple of years ago and I officially did NOT say rats. But if it had happened today, I'm pretty sure I would've said rats. Or maybe 'dagnabbit,' which I am determined to introduce into my now short list of "curse" words. But here's my dilemma... some things in the world need a vehement exclamation. The holocaust wasn't Terribly Sad and Unfortunate-- it was Fucking Horrible. Could I say deplorable? Yes. Disgusting? Also yes. Tragic? Deranged? Unconscionable? Yes, yes, yes. But none of those things accurately convey the LEVEL of disturbance. It wasn't just deplorable, it was completely fucking deplorable. It wasn't just tragic, it was one of the most tragic goddamn occurrences in the modern history of mankind. Hitler and his anti-Judaism cohorts didn't carry out deranged acts, they performed some of the most deranged shit that has ever been thought up. Do you see? Sometimes 'rather unpleasant' doesn't cut it. So, while I will endeavor to keep the swearing at a minimum, I'm not going to leave it out all together. Sometimes it's just necessary.

#2: Get Your Butt Moving!
I'm not in bad shape, that's true. But, I could be in BETTER shape, and that's what I intend to do (sooner rather than later). I figure, as of today, I'm about 5-10lbs. away from my perfect weight, and I'd really like to tone up. To this end, John and I have purchased a treadmill and an elliptical machine. I've used them both a few times, but it's time to GET MY BUTT MOVING! I would like to hit 30 in the best shape of my life, and to accomplish that I have decided that the treadmill and I have to make friends again. Well, I say again but it's not like we were friends to begin with. It's a necessary evil, that treadmill. I hate running. Actually, I hate almost everything that makes me sweat as I tend to turn a particularly alarming shade somewhere between Little Girl's Hot-Pink Hair Ribbons and Boiled-Lobster Red. I loved dancing but hated the dance-world, and I seem to have developed a fear of drowning even though I used to LOVE to swim (can you FORGET how to swim just because a fish touched you? Jeez-Louise, I've never been more frightened in my life!). So... that leaves the treadmill and the elliptical, and (now, this just breaks my heart) a farewell to my daily Dr. Pepper(s). *sniffle* It's going to be a hard few weeks while I de-Dr.Pepper-ize myself. Bear with me, friends and family, I may not be a particularly pleasant person to be around for a while.

#3: WRITE, All Right?
This dissertation has to end. I want it completed to the best of my ability, and I want to be done with it. Now, as the University I attend seems to be having some sort of bitch-fest about what my degree should entail (a PhD. in English Lit. and Creative Writing), I'm under no pretenses about actually receiving a PhD. They don't know what it's supposed to look like, nobody can agree, who the hell knows. So I'm writing something I feel proud of, something that I believe deserves to be written, and if I get a PhD for it--fine, good, super. If I don't, then I'll take another Masters and move on with my life. Which leads me to...

#4: Figure It OUT, Already!
I am 28 years old. I have spent the last five years of my life working towards a goal I don't even want to achieve. I don't want to be a professor. I don't want to be a teacher of any kind. The truth is, I'm not entirely sure what I DO want to do. Ideally, I could open a bakery/sandwich shop, work from the early morning to the early afternoon, and spend the rest of the afternoon holed up in a little room of my own, writing things I want to write just because I want to write them. I don't think that's going to happen, though. I'm afraid it isn't financially sound (at least not where I'm presently situated). So I'm trying to figure out what I could do, what I would enjoy doing, that wouldn't take much more time to accomplish. I can't spend another four years getting a degree. I'm TIRED of GOING to SCHOOL. I'm schooled-out, folks. Seriously. Presently I'm thinking about getting a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, but I don't know. It goes back to #3-- I have to get this done before I start something else.

#5: Mommy?
While I enjoy very, very much being the leader of our small pack of Golden Doodles--I would quite like to meet my own offspring. Especially as I think this Husband-fellow is going to be the Best. Dad. Ever. I'm not in a terrible hurry, but I'd like to be on the road to Mommy-hood at 30. That gives us a couple years to practice, I guess, which is good. You know, practice makes perfect!

I think that's really my main personal goals for the next couple of years. There are other things I would like to see happen, but if I have to wait five years, or even ten--that's okay. Maybe I'll add...
#6... Figure Out How To Get This Husband-Fellow To Agree To Let Me Have Another Puppy For My 30th Birthday...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Expect The Unexpected

I had a lot of things buzzing through my mind today. After a very warm hat tip from an old friend, I realized it was time to get back to blogging. I'll not make excuses, you all understand that life occasionally gets a little chaotic. So I spent the morning pondering how best to catalogue what's happened in the last couple of months... but first I had to get Cayenne Pepper. Like, A LOT OF CAYENNE PEPPER.

Random? Not after I tell you that Cassie and Millie (John's puppy!) have decided they want to be archaeologists when they grow up. At least, I assume that's what they're thinking while they make holes in the yard so big you could lose a Volkswagen in them. I thought about strangling the little brats, but I don't like violence and they're far too cute for that anyway. Instead, I decided to coat their giant damned hole with Cayenne Pepper. Dogs hate it. I hate it, but I'm allergic to it so I figure that's fair. Not massively allergic mind you, but I do get sick every time I ingest any and I get welts wherever it touches my skin. So, there's me wandering the back yard with a sack full of cayenne pepper bottles and an exacto-knife (so that I don't have to open it with my fingers and/or teeth (stupid freshness seals) and risk touching it), feeling pretty smug actually. At least I was thinking I'd stumbled upon a relatively humane way to STOP THE DIGGING.

What I didn't think about was the weather. Just as I was opening a bottle to pour into their favorite hole--GUST OF WIND, FLYING CAYENNE PEPPER! Pepper seemed to magically fly straight from the bottle into my face, and nowhere else. Straight into my eyes. Seriously, I've never felt pain that acute and intense. It was horrific. I was blinded--literally. I couldn't open my eyes. They swelled shut. So I stumbled into the house (tripping over a dog toy and a hose on the way) and proceeded to flood my face with cold water. Now, three hours later, my eyes are still red and swollen but at least my lips don't look like I've had a bad collagen injection. The rest of my face... well it's splotchy, and my nose looks like I'm either supporting Comic Relief or auditioning to be the fifth clown out of the little car. Officially, I'm never peppering the holes again. Somebody else can do it. Somebody not allergic to Cayenne Pepper.

Somebody like... my husband! I suppose that's probably our biggest news. I'm now officially Little Bug Moustache-Coffee-Cup. Has a nice ring, doesn't it? If you can keep a secret, I'll tell you the only thing I dislike about being married. Ready? I miss my maiden name. A lot. It was so suited to me that it's been my nickname for most of my life. Plus, it was short. Punchy. Four little letters. Now I've got this massive long last name and every time I try to sign a check, or a document I end up running out of room. So many letters! Other than that, things are pretty good. Well, other than that and the fact that I may filet my husband's dog... and my dog. GRR!

So, this is Millie:

Oh, come on Millie.

Come out and say hello.

Hello Millie! She's a Golden Doodle from the same breeder that gave us Cassie, Abby, Macy, Sammie and Roxxie (my dog, my mom's dogs, and my aunt's dogs). She'd give you a high five if you wanted one. That seems to be the only trick she likes at the moment. She turned five months old last weekend and, while I still think she's terribly clever, currently she seems to think her mission is less 'search and rescue' and more 'search and destroy.' How many times have I saved my mom's Ugg boots? More than once. More than twice. More than... They live on a high shelf now, actually. She and Cassie have formed a mutual adoration society, and whenever they get the chance they play archaeologists.

The rest of the time they do things like this:

I love it when they do this.

This is where they sit while I try to finish my PhD dissertation. I'm very boring when I write. I don't throw the ball (or goose, or triceratops, or octopus, or knotted-string-thing) with any consistency. I'm disgracefully intermittent with the tummy scratches, and treats are few and far between. This is how they look at me when I apologize and say I have to get back to writing. This is how doggies look disappointed. Can't you tell?