Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Edward's Tale and Tail

Please forgive me if I am a tad incoherent today --I had six weeks of cuddling Edward to catch up on and I'm a little sleep-deprived.

I have to start by telling you all of this weird thing that happened. Remember Monday when I spent the whole day working on the guest room and going through all of my office stuff? Well, I found a fortune (from a fortune cookie) that I'd saved because it said, "You will soon witness a miracle." I know this sounds crazy, but I took it as a sign that I was going to get Edward back. I can't really explain it but I was just certain all of a sudden. I sent an e-mail to Tiffany where I said, "I know this sounds crazy but..." and then I told Lin about it, too. (Lin said, "Oh, wow, I bet you sell your house!" and I said, "No, I bet I get Edward back!" Without missing a beat, she said, "Well, okay, or that!" She cracks me up.)

I know that sounds crazy. I really do. But y'all know how I'm always looking for signs, right? It's part of my psychosis --er--charm.

Last night, as I was working on a blog post about how blue I was feeling, my husband opened our front door and said, "Guess who's home?"

And there, in a cat carrier, was Edward.

I started SOBBING --seriously. Ana said later, "I've never seen you cry like that." (I'm getting all teary just writing about it.) Both girls started to cry and jump around and there was mass chaos and a lot of kissing Coop and questions and laughing and we opened the cage and let the Furry One out and there, there FINALLY was that tail. Oh, how we had missed that tail. Jane kept bouncing around saying, "The flag is home! The flag is home!" because that's how we talk about Edward's tail. It's part of our ART in this house, that tail.

So, after things had settled down, Coop told me that the reason he surprised us all that way was that he'd gotten this very cryptic message on his cell phone from the Home Again microchip people. He let me listen to it and honestly, if you weren't looking right at a certain orange puff ball, you might think that they'd found the BODY of a cat. It said something like, "We are calling with regard to your cat with the microchip XYZ123. Please call the XXX Shelter for more information." Coop tried to call the shelter but got a maze of telephone buttons and boxes and press-this-for-that, etc. and he couldn't seem to get a PERSON on the phone. The shelter is pretty to close to our house but Coop knew I had the girls at home and he was afraid to call me and tell me to go to the shelter and get Edward because what if Edward was No Longer? So he left work (things at his office are not so easy to just leave right now but the man has his priorities) and high-tailed it over to the shelter.

And there was Edward.


It turns out that a family living about six miles (!) east of us had noticed Edward hanging around about two weeks ago. They weren't sure if he was feral or belonged to someone but they started feeding him and he started being Edward and then when it rained this week, they let him inside their cabana with a litter box. The daughter, Nicole (15) called her mom at work and said, "Butterscotch is using a litter box. I think he belongs to someone."

So they loaded him up and took him to the shelter. The staff at the shelter scanned him and got our contact information. The mom (Susan) told me that he was the first cat the shelter had ever processed who had a microchip! Isn't that amazing??

He's very thin. He weighed about 12 pounds when he went missing and I bet he barely weighs eight pounds now. And he's a bit disoriented. He knew me though, right away, and slept in his old spot on my pillow. I carried him downstairs twice to get food--he's eating like a horse. The dogs seem to be back on board with Edward being home but Thomas? Thomas is acting like he never even KNEW Edward, much less cuddled with him and played with him. Thomas is seriously P.O.'d over this new cat we've brought home.

So, there it is: another happy ending in my blessed life. I'm going to take a fat check and the carrier back to the shelter this morning, in the name of the people who brought us back our Edward, may the heavens bless them. I'm going to try to remember all the things I promised Buddha that I would do if we got Edward back.

I'm going to get down on my knees and thank God for the collective positive power of you amazing people all over this country who waited with me and prayed and ate spaghetti and cried until we got Edward back.

And I might just curl up on the couch and take a little nap with an orange tabby who is home at last.

(Look, Ei! Curled toes!!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Not twenty minutes ago, my husband walked through the door with this.

The microchip worked.

I can't stop crying. And I almost don't believe it.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Random Dreary Monday Stuff

Wait, that title didn't sound right. I meant it was a dreary MONDAY, not that my stuff was dreary. (Although, maybe BOTH are dreary. If so, don't tell me.) It's raining. In fact, it's POURING. I do not know about the old man, but my old DOG is definitely snoring.

It occurred to me today, as I am STILL unpacking boxes and trying to find places for everything we've already unpacked, that I'm a little embarrassed over how long all of this is taking me. I mean, we've been here since March 15th, more or less. Shouldn't we be all moved in by now?

Part of the problem, I think, is that we can't decide where things should go because of the lack of readily available built-in-shelves like we had in our old house. I mean, if someone BUILDS-IN shelves, you pretty much know where to put your books, right? Or if you have something called a PANTRY, you know where to put your canned goods.

To add to the confusion, we have a basement for the first time ever but we're sort of afraid to put anything down there until we get it finished out because it's kind damp and basement-y. Even with the de-humidifier running night and day. But we don't have an attic, nor a big storage shed here so we're sort of at a loss over where to put the stuff that we put in the attic and storage shed when we lived in Austin.

Mostly, we've just been giving it away.

We've got house guests coming. (Dudes, I cannot wait! My parents are coming some time in May, as is my father-in-law, AND my brother-in-law is stopping by after a wedding for a few days. I am never happier than when family is visiting.) Unfortunately, our plan to have the basement finished has been put on hold due to our plan for selling our house in Austin not yet falling into place. (Sigh.) Initially when we were moving into the house, I thought we'd use the extra room upstairs as a craft room/ kids' library/ game room. I thought that Coop and I could share the tiny downstairs room (the so-called "Maid's" room-- if your maid is a pygmy) as an office.

But the Pygmy Maid's room wouldn't really accommodate two desks, so Coop's desk joined the kids' library and the game room and the craft room upstairs. And then, since the basement guest suite won't be materializing for a while (everyone, eat some spaghetti, quick!) we had to put a bed in that room, too.

So, then, you had to be a pygmy to get into TWO of our rooms.

I made the ultimate sacrifice and moved most of my craft stuff into my little office downstairs today. It now looks like this: Or, THIS, depending on where you're standing.

I know it's hard to imagine that this is the result of a full day's work but, well...


It's the result of a full day's work.

The new GUEST room now looks like this:

Which again, doesn't LOOK like much of an improvement but trust me on this, it really is. Although I'm with you, I feel like we should be further along on this moving in thing.

(We're replacing the twin bed with a big comfy futon, Mom! I swear you'll like it and want to stay for a month. Really. And by the time you get here, I promise you'll be able to see the floor. And I'll have lost some weight. And I'll remember to get a hair cut. Seriously. It's a whole new me.)


I honked at someone today. The light had turned green and the person in front of me was just sitting there and sitting there and so I gave a little, hesitant little honk.



My new bra with the memory foam in it?

Has not done one single thing for my memory.

Kelly and Stefanie have been asking about Thomas, our OTHER orange cat, because he hasn't been blog fodder lately. That's the thing about Thomas, most of the things that we love about him are not really bloggable --like the way he can't purr right and so when he's really happy, he just sort of wheezes. He's doing great, though. He's stepped up the level of his snuggling since Edward has been gone (and the cat was already a professional snuggler) and now in the middle of the night, it is not unusual for me to wake up and find Thomas with his head pressed against mine, HARD. I love that. Anyway, here he is and he's doing fine. Might even have lost a bit of an ounce or something.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Battle

I fight this battle sometimes.

I worry that maybe I'm too happy.

Seriously, I worry that I'm too happy and y'all are going to get sick of my Pollyanna-ish take on life and leave me and I'll just be one more blogger noting what she had for dinner and the misbehavior of her dog. I mean, every writing class I ever took extolled the virtues of the plot conflict necessary for writing that engages the reader.

I'm worried that I have no conflict.

Worse, I'm worried that I have no plot.

So, I have one more just glowing, fairy-tale day to report and then I'll try to be more sarcastic and depressing, okay?

Yesterday, my girl friend Lin and I planned a day together. We both had some errands to run and I think she has made it her mission to get me out of the house once a week so that I don't answer the door with a box cutter in my hand and a wild look in my eyes. (As if I could find the box cutter. We have three of them. I can't find a single one. I've resorted to using my teeth and fingernails to open boxes, which is really not doing wonders for either or them. Doing wonders for that wild look in my eyes, though.)

So, she picked me up in this... CAR. I tried to take a picture of it with my cell phone but I (naturally) did something wrong and it didn't come out. Actually, it didn't really even happen or I can't find it now on the phone and even if I could, I wouldn't really know how to get it to the blog. But here's a picture I stole off of the Internet.

Y'all know that I'm not much of a car person. I drive a 2003 Honda mini-van with Jane's name scratched into the paint on the back and a front bumper that has seen some hard parking. I never notice it.

This car could be the car that converts me, though. Wow.

And of course, it was SPECTACULAR weather.

I had showered, shaved my legs, and had make-up on. If I closed my eyes, I could imagine myself in my twenties, strong and slim and heading out with my friends to the beach.

That's a seriously good car that can take this 43 year old matron and transport her back TWENTY YEARS!

Anyway, we stopped off at Lin's favorite jeweler because she needed to get her watch fixed and I really needed to get my Christmas diamond set, being as how I'd been hiding it in a box of tea for four months. (Earl Grey, my favorite.)

So, we went in and of course, everyone there knew Lin and we looked all through the cases and I didn't really see what I was looking for. For one thing, yellow gold isn't really "in" anymore and I wanted yellow because white gold and platinum don't look good on my skin. Plus, I was hoping not to get a prong setting because I was afraid I would snag it on everything, loosening the prongs which would result in me losing the diamond which would probably lead to me having to get a job as a waitress in order to replace it.

I would be such a terrible waitress. I can never remember the bread!

So, I didn't see anything. The woman helping us took Lin back to clean her ring and I continued to look through the cases. I saw one that I sort of liked and I asked the woman about it. As we were looking, I spotted one I really liked. It was sort of tucked away.

Anyway, there are many magical things that happened that all came together. For example, the jeweler came in as we were talking and Lin said, "Can we just ask him if this setting will work with the diamond?" And not only did he say yes, but he had time to size the ring and set the diamond RIGHT THEN. There was this one woman who was really sort of crabby who kept interjecting herself into our conversation trying to put the kabash on things. We found out later that this was because this ring had never been re-priced and the price of gold has gone through the roof, right? So, basically, I got the ring of my dreams for half price, with a little added discount they give Lin which mysteriously transferred to me and I got the whole thing set and done and on my ridiculously inelegant hand in about an hour and a half.

I got all teary.

So did the jeweler when he saw my joy, which was pretty special since he didn't look like a guy who was easily moved to tears.

And, um, here's what my hand looks like now.

I have other things to talk about, like how I bought this new bra (finally) with memory foam (so not kidding) in it and naturally, the first thing I snagged my ring on was this bra, and how I left my husband a "Happy Anniversary" card because I'd finally gotten my anniversary present and how he thought for a brief time that the card was for some anniversary he'd MISSED --things that I know you're just DYING to hear about but we are off to take our girls to the American Girl shop in New York for a day of complete indulgence for which they will no doubt be deliriously happy and grateful.

Right. The lengths to which I will go to create some conflict and drama for this blog...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring Fever

Dear Flying Spaghetti Monster,

I have so much to do. We have house guests coming in a few weeks and there are still whole rooms in which you cannot see the floor because of the boxes. Unfortunately, two of these rooms are rooms in which we will be asking our house guests to reside. So you can see how there is a lot to do: beds to buy, crap to throw out, new crap to buy.

Our house in Austin still hasn't sold and there is a lot of paperwork associated with getting the plumbing leak under the kitchen tile floor fixed and the floor replaced, what with everything now happening long distance. (I have more to say to you on this subject but I am trying to contain myself.) There are phone calls to make and checks to write--always, always, there are checks to write.

My children are beginning to adjust to the move--at least they've mostly stopped crying --and so now I need to undo some of the damage. Like spot painting where Jane wrote on her newly painted wall and trying to figure out if the six million guilt presents we gave the girls will actually fit in their rooms.

I would like to start exercising again and we still have our missing orange cat to find. (I know he's out there but you really could drop me a hint or two as to where to look.) I can't figure out how to turn our sprinkler system on and I can't decide what to order to replace those faulty kitchen drawers.

Did I mention the house guests?

Anyway, lots to do. I don't mean to complain but it strikes me as just a tad unsportsmanlike that you've sent this unbelievable weather to me right this very second. And that all around me, the earth is bursting forth with foliage the likes of which I've never seen--we couldn't grow much in Austin, you know. I'm such a frustrated (and truly terrible) farmer, as you well know, Noodly Master. But it seems I can't resist all this beauty, even if I don't know what it is.
It's calling to me. I can hear it.

Beds to make... and laundry. (Always, always the laundry.) Hair to Swiffer. (Always, always the dog hair.)

Although, I really need to arrange the outdoor furniture, too, right? And I could throw the ball for Scout a few zillion times...

I have to pick up Ana in an hour and that leaves very little time to stand firm against all this temptation and get stuff done.

But then again, I know your motto: Carbo Diem.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New York, New York...

So, we had quite the eventful weekend plus two extra days (oh, yee-freaking-haw), because I believe I've mentioned before, my kids never actually have to go to school here in New York.

I so love that.

No, really, because it means that we can take all kinds of excursions together and spend a whole lot of money. And maybe, just maybe, we can also get Coop to take the day off and go with us and spend even MORE money. And then, at some point when Coop and I have completely lost the will to live, the children will demand to go out to eat.

No, I'm kidding. Mostly.



Sort of kidding.

On Saturday, we went to the beach.

The thing about Long Island is this: I never really think about the fact that we live on an island. But DUDES, we DO! Every once in a while I am reminded of it. Like when I see sea gulls in the parking lot at the grocery store. Other than that, I never really think about it because it's normal life with school and work and laundry and not really like life at the beach with margaritas and sand and more margaritas. Know what I mean?

But there are BEACHES here. Less than 20 minutes from us! Look!

It was a bit cold, even for Jane, who has been known to brave some seriously cold water. But, oh my gosh, the promise of the summer...

And then Monday, we took the girls to New York City, where the secret to success seems to be to feed the inmates every two hours no matter what.

So, first we ate pizza. At 10:30.

(Note how I am holding my pizza like true New Yorkers do--folded in the middle. We're all so proud of this new-found talent--except Ana who simply refuses to do it. Girl's got her own style and she's not changing for anyone. So there.)

Then we went to the Empire State Building, where it was freaking FREEZING OUTSIDE but we braved it anyway. For $64 we better, right?

(Just so you know, that was the WIND doing that to our hair. Just want to be really clear.)

We came down from that and went to FAO Schwarz, the Pinnacle of All Things Toy-Related.

In this picture, Jane and I are playing on the giant keyboard thing. I've always wanted to do that--ever since I saw the movie "Big." (Remember! The camera forty pounds.)

(Oh, hush. It's MY blog and I'll defy the laws of physics if I want to.)

Here is Ana by the life-sized Darth Vader made of Legos.

She's clearly tapping into her inner Jedi because somehow, she convinced us to let her design her own Barbie, complete with shoes and purse. Barbie then got to strut on the fashion runway and then Ana got to take her home in a little pink case.

I think I better just admit that Barbie always, always wins and just get over it. I might rail against the merchandising machine but I am powerless to stop it.

Jane opted for a doll accessory kit because, hello, she like, NEEDED one.

We could tell the wheels were about to come off the train at this point so the girls posed with Lego Sponge Bob
and then we went out to eat Chinese food.

By that time, the strain of imagining that everyone we saw was out to mug us had so exhausted us that we headed back to the Island. (I'm just kidding about the muggers --it was really the strain of trying to keep Jane from being run over by Taxi drivers. I keep telling her, "Your super powers aren't fully developed yet. PLEASE BE CAREFUL!")

The next day, Coop actually went to work and the girls and I played around the house. The weather was beautiful and we all wished for some ice cream. Jane heard the ice cream truck in the distance and she and Ana went out and hunted him down. (Well, okay, so they waited at the end of our street (under my watchful eye) until he passed by.) It was pretty impressive, though, because our neighbor says the ice cream truck never comes up our street. I might have to rethink that thing about Jane's super powers.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Every Day is a Gift

So, not completely satisfied with my foray into carpet care a la the Dyson Animal (which, just in case you were wondering, is my favorite household appliance ever. Ever. It even trumps the coffee maker. Well, okay, maybe not the dishwasher but shhhh!), today, I actually steam-cleaned my carpets upstairs.

It made me resort to the most emphatic phrase to which a southern woman can resort without blushing. I mean it. I cleaned the first carpet and I just... well, I couldn't hold back.

"Merciful freaking heavens!"

(Just as an aside? I'm not sure what has gotten in to me. I know I've lived in the south for a long time but I was born to European parents and I travelled overseas my whole life. Now that we've moved to New York? I find myself resorting to the mother-of-all Southern curses. I know you know which one I mean. "Bless her heart."

Southerners use this as the most damning phrase you can say about someone and suddenly, I am blessing people's heart right and left. "Oh, look at that vomitous son of Satan who just cut me off in traffic! Burn in hell, you s.o.b-word that I won't say in front of my kids! Bless your heart."

"No, I think her nose job looks totally natural and realistic. Bless her heart.")

So, anyway, the carpets are looking cleaner and I am regaining something of my equilibrium with regard to our house. We have whole rooms still in boxes, lest you think we are remotely organized, but our carpets are clean, damn it.

In other news, our geriatric dog Sydney (15) died for a short time yesterday but then, kind of, well, snapped out of it.

Coop had given her a bath outside with the hose --neither one of us thinking that the water coming out of the tap was about 30 degrees colder than the water coming out of the tap in Austin. After he'd bathed her, she started racing around, as dogs do after baths, and her heart seemed to just give out. She fell over and didn't move. Didn't get back up.

Coop was bending over her with a towel in his hand and stroking her and he looked up and met my eyes. "Get the keys to your van and get it running."

His voice... dude, for the most laid back guy in all of these United States, when he wants to be heard, he can do so without ever raising his voice.

The girls were crying but not panicking. I threw the keys to Ana and she started the van (!) while I put down the seats so Syd would be comfortable in the back. By the time we got back around to the back yard, Syd was breathing again and Coop was petting her and apologizing for frightening everyone.

It's so funny, too, because just the day before, I'd been planting some flowers and she'd sneaked in and stole an empty planter and ran it around the back yard--just like when she was a young dog. (Of course, I tried to recreate that for Coop when he got home and I threw up the planter and ran all around to get Syd wound up and she just looked at me and smiled at Coop, as if to say, "I don't know what she's doing either but she's kind of cute. Bless her heart.") She's just been in top form.

But she is OLD. And every day is a gift. I consider this a reminder to love her as much as we can, you know? Because it's coming, that end. And she'll be looking to us to ease her over.

Merciful freaking heavens. I love that dog.

Friday, April 18, 2008


So, my kids are out of school today.

Yeah, I know, big difference from LAST week. We've had, um, NO full weeks in school since we moved here. But anyway --not that I'm bitter --at about 4:00, I sent my husband the following e-mail under the subject line: Metrics.

Waffles toasted: two
Bagel toasted and spread with peanut butter: one
Dogs fed: two
Cats fed: one
Loads of laundry: 10
Beds made: three
Playing Poor People: 1 game
Carpets vacuumed: 3
Rooster wallpaper spotted behind refrigerator: 1

Nervous breakdown by Barb: one (to date)

Rooster wallpaper removed: 1

Threat of upchuck over what was under refrigerator: one
Visit from handyman: 1
Check written as deposit on new cabinets: one
Computer time: 1 hour per girl
Game of spies played with Walkie-Talkies: 1
Tea Party: 1
New clothes tried on: many (Hanna Andersson sale package arrived!)
Dog yelled at for barking: 63,007 times (roughly)
Dishwasher unloaded: twice
Boxes emptied: 2
Game played with pet carriers: 1
Pet carriers left on kitchen table: 1
Times mom had to ask to have it removed: 31,006 (roughly)
Stuffed animal school games: 2
Songs written: six
Songs videotaped without accidentally laughing: five
Chef Surprise cooked: one batch
Ramen cooked: one
Pizza reheated: two slices
Trips to beach: zero
Trips to grocery store: 1
Band-Aids applied to infinitesimal scrapes: one
Number of children limping inexplicably: 2
Times Jane dissolved into screaming and/or crying: three
Tattling: fourteen incidents

Really, a very good day.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Love Thursday

I was going to write part 2 of my Vacuum Manifesto, otherwise known as More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Barb's History with Vacuums, (You DID want to know more, right?) but today after I took Jane to school, I found that she'd left me a note to brighten my day.

(I always forget to remind you all that if you click on the pictures or the links, they will open in a new window. Because I am so html code savvy and all.) (HAH!)

On one side it says, "Dear Mommy,"

and on the other side, it says: "I hope you have a wonderful day. I will miss you in school. Good luck if you ever go back to graduation school. Love, best wishes, Jane E. C."

Anyway, I thought my heart would burst so instead of talking about major suckage, I bring to you other things I love on this Love Thursday.

Yesterday when Ana was blatantly skipping school feeling the terrible after-effects of a stomach bug which made her throw up ONCE on-- hello!-- MONDAY, I forced her to go outside and plant some flowers with me. It was so wonderful--I love to spend time with that kid. She's funny and sweet and interested in everything. I'm lucky to have her as my friend.

We're really excited about possibly, maybe, if you hold your mouth just right and cross all your fingers, MAYBE growing Gerbera Daisies.

That doesn't exactly ring with confidence but the thing is that in Austin, I tried to grow them but the unrelenting summer heat caused them to die slow lingering deaths. (At least, I THINK it was the heat. I HOPE it was just the heat.) (Sigh.) I have much more hope for them here, um, even with ME as the gardener.

I love my painter, who has now painted my kitchen and offered a good connection/referral for tile for when I do my back-splash. Doesn't the kitchen look so calm and pretty? I quite love it. Now when I cook, I don't feel quite so much like I'm on Green Acres.

We've put down our stepping stones, and for some reason, that one thing seems to be giving us some roots.

Maybe it's the weather but I am feeling especially grateful for this life I am so privileged to lead. I am so blessed and so happy. If we get our lost orange kitty Edward back, I will feel like everything about this move has been positive. I don't know if I've ever shown y'all this but I keep THIS on my kitchen windowsill to remind me that this life of mine is an amazing fairy tale and the best part of all is the happily ever after...

Um, it doesn't FIT me or anything. And there aren't any cartoon birds flitting around my head sewing me dresses. (What? Do you think I'm CRAZY?)

Still--it's a good fairy tale.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Man, This Really SUCKS!

I mean my new vacuum cleaner, of course. What did you think I meant?

(Okay, okay, I'm sorry. It's just that, well, I'm twelve.)

I bought the Dyson Animal. Honestly? The thing scares me just a little. What's it got, like a V-8 engine? You know how all vacuums come with the warning not to empty the canister or whatever while the machine is plugged in? I don't know about you but I pretty much just ignored that little bit of advice.

Until now.

Because honestly? I am seriously afraid that if the Animal turned itself on, it could suck me inside and there I'd be, waiting for the Oompa-Loompas to get me out again.

Dudes, it was... well, disgusting. I vacuumed my two rugs that we brought from Texas and honestly, I'd vacuumed them with my geriatric (if geriatric means two years old, not that I'm bitter) and very expensive vacuum a few days ago. Right about the time the attachment that vacuums rugs decided it was done with this world. So, as soon as the Animal arrived, I vacuumed both rugs again.

Look at this:

Gosh, allergies much?

So, as luck would have it, the next day my brand new dining room rug was finally delivered.

(Brief digression while I tell you that the Fed Ex guy just dropped it on my front porch, rang the doorbell and ran. There's a name for people like him: Big Chicken. (Some censorship applied here.)

Which meant, of course, that I had to wrestle that unwieldy thing into the house by myself because I simply could NOT wait one second more to have it in the dining room.

I could have been on America's Funniest Home Videos. It weighs seventy pounds but more importantly, it stands taller than I do. Dudes, that is some seriously awkward maneuvering. I think even our cow dog Scout (Head of Ranch Security) was laughing and let's face it, it's not like he's all that invested in dignity himself.)

Anyway, I installed the rug, using my patented "arse-over-teakettle, twist my ankle, fall flat on my face hugging a mountain of wool fiber which seems to be up my nose now, 'Oh, wow --how is it I've never been in a position to notice that there's no chandelier in this room?'" movement. Poetry in motion. Yup. Thank goodness for that dance background.

And then I vacuumed that rug.

For, like, an hour.

Afterward, it only weighed probably 35 pounds and if I'd been smart, I would have gathered the wool (no jokes, please) and sent it to someone who spins so that I could have had TWO new dining room rugs.

Anyway, here it is, the master of the dining room on top of the vanquished carpet:

After I'd finished setting everything up and vacuuming, my lovely neighbors Lin and Joe and their family came for our first dinner party in our new house. I am a big believer in Firsts, you know --when my kids were born, my husband and I took a CD player and Abbey Road to the hospital so that the first music the kids heard would set them on the right path. You can see why that sort of thing is important, right? (RIGHT?) -- and the evening was perfect. The food was really pretty good (I rule, I rule, oh yeah, oh yeah) and the company was more than I even could have asked for. It was a lovely, wonderful, house and heart-warming time --I might have laughed so hard I snorted once or thirty times but I'll deny it if you suggest such a thing. I fell asleep reliving little moments of the evening and thanking God for the blessings of good friends and happy times and the echoes of laughter and joy that already abound here.

My friends, as Firsts go, this was a good one. I am really relieved.

I think we're going to thrive in this new land.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Signs of the Impending Apocalypse

So, I think my seven year old, Jane, is really adjusting well to this new life in New York. I mean, if you consider full-on, all-out, screaming-Mimi, tantrum flinging, biting, whirling dervish behavior as a sign of well-adjustedness...

Take, for example, the signs she has been leaving on her door or thrusting in front of my nose if I am on the phone. I mean, PLEASE take them.

Okay, I gotta admit that this last one scared me more than any of the others...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Girls' Night Out

Friday night, Lin made me go to a Girls Night Out. Well, okay, REALLY she made me go to lunch with her and then one thing led to another and we ended up going BACK out to a Girls Night Out at one of the coolest places I have ever been. It's like the answer to a Mom's dream or something.

The place is called Delightful Dinners and the basic concept is that you go there to cook your family's dinners. I know what you're thinking--it doesn't sound much like a girls' night out, right? But get this: The equipment, the ingredients and, here's the brilliant part, the CLEAN-UP are all provided for you. You can totally pretend that you are the star of your own cooking show with your own crew to do the shopping, chopping and clean-up duties.

(Er. Um. Not that I did that or anything.)

It was heaven. And there were other women there and we all had some appetizers and wine while we were cooking. Totally awesome way to meet people, although you can also just drop in and cook and leave.

I made a Tilapia dish, and a salmon dish. I picked up some stuffed pork-chops and some balsamic-roasted asparagus and some BBQ chicken. We will eat like kings.

And it's still my cooking, mind you. I can do more garlic or less oregano or whatever but GREAT LORD ALMIGHTY I did not have to clean up or plan or chop or anything. I needed some shallots--and I had them. Right there. Already chopped. I didn't have to root through the vegetable drawer and find a shallot that was past its prime and try to resuscitate it... there it was. Someone else had peeled it and chopped it all ready for me.

Now, I have written a some length about how much I hate to grocery shop. Here, and here, and here. So, this Delightful Dinners thing takes everything I have come to hate about cooking and eliminates it. AND I got all sorts of credit for feeding my husband something besides spaghetti or pizza. (Score!)

So, here's what the Tilapia dish looked like before I cooked it:

It came with handy-dandy directions for cooking, (although it didn't tell me where I had stashed the Pam (I have one of those really deep pantry cabinets and I can never find anything in it so I basically just buy new all the time) so there was a bit of an issue with the pan later)

And here it is after it was cooked. I should have taken a picture with it all plated up with the asparagus but, um, I was too hungry.

It was SO GOOD. I wish there was one of these in every town because, dudes, the women who started this? Brilliant and deserving of much success.