Monthly Archives: April 2011

Sick Day

The only good thing about feeling bad is hanging out all day in bed with Keetah.


Benefits of Androgyny

It isn’t too often that I benefit from being mistaken for a man, but today was one!

Given that we didn’t cook enough over the weekend to last us through the week, I had to purchase lunch on campus (but I did bring food for dinner because it’s one of those long days/nights).

Lured by the promise of locally raised turkey, a roasted squash medley, and a baked potato, I went to the student center and stood in line at one of the kiosks.

The server guy glanced up at me and asked, “What can I get for you, sir?” This isn’t surprising since I had a haircut last week, and you know I like my hair super short so that I can’t feel the wind move it.

Not one to dwell on mistakes, I said I wanted the turkey with sides, while the server said, “I’m sorry! I mean ma’am!” To which I replied, “That’s okay. I want the turkey with sides.”

The server couldn’t let the mistake drop, though. Oh no, he had to add, “Well, if you are a man, you’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen!”

Okay, first of all, that is simply ridiculous. There are tons upon tons of men more beautiful than me out there. Secondly, I’m not a man.

Which is what I said, “But I’m not a man.

I just wanted the turkey with sides, not an awkward digression.

Finally the server guy capitulated and said, “Oh, I’ll take care of you.”

I didn’t know what he meant exactly, but I ended up with twice as much turkey as everyone else.

In weighing the benefit of extra turkey versus gender hassling, I think I came out ahead in this situation.


Porkchop snapped our two Wyandottes hanging out in the nesting box:

June Wayne and Scooter (or is it the other way around?)

The Wyandottes aren’t my favorites, but they’re pretty cute here.

Hail No!

As I get older, the more leery I become of big storms. While a younger self might have stood outside watching last night’s tremendous tornadic weather goings-on, I parked myself in the basement and listened to the hail pinging on the patio set.

I think the change happened in Madison, when we peered out of the basement window and saw swirling clouds above us, which then touched down a block away.

Anyway…between storms on Saturday, Porkchop finished the alley landscaping project. It looks SO MUCH BETTER:

Rubble pile no more.

Hopefully the phlox and nasturtium will settle in and grow big and pretty. Also, I hope this didn’t wash away during the storms last night – we didn’t check it this morning!

On Sunday, we put in our first garden installation, which you can see in the background here (PS the janky fence is our neighbor’s, not ours):

I am here to eat your food.

The trellis is for sugar snap peas, and later I’ll also plant green beans, black beans, and perhaps a cucumber or two. Under the trellis, I planted spinach and a couple of lettuce mixes. Although I’ve yet to have luck with carrots and beets here, I threw some of that in too. The rest of the bed is reserved for a tomato plant and basil.

What you can’t see is all the bird netting on the bed. If the chickens get any sprouts, I will be rather devastated. I love the chickens, but I don’t like how they’ve stripped the strawberry bed, the blueberry bush, and the rosemary plant. Grumble.

To tame the chickens, maybe we should let Keetah outside with them. This is what happens when Keetah is in the yard:

Chickens standing still. A rarity.

They stand stock-still, on alert for Keetah, that daring predator. Meanwhile, Keetah munches on weeds, which she will later throw up, possibly on our bed.

All for now!

Rubble Rouser

Yesterday, I “worked” from home and I skipped out on stats class. While I felt a bit guilty lying to my stats professor, I enjoyed being at home during the evening tremendously.

Instead of sitting through two long hours of stats lecture and lab, I cooked dinner and watched Porkchop work on a landscaping project. In other words, I felt normal again. But don’t think I goofed off the entire day! I still put in a good 3 hours of stats work.

But more about this landscaping project. We have (or had, rather) a pile of rubble by our garage that made us ashamed. So much shame! Especially when one of our neighbors put in some bushes and tulips and landscaping rock by his parking pad.

In an effort to de-junkify our garage area, Porkchop decided to clear out the rubble and put in a couple of terraced levels. After some consultation with neighbors, she set to work:

Anyone need some rocks?

I primarily watched and said things like, good God, will the soda pull tabs never end??

Whoever lived in our house before us had a thing for soda pull tabs. A thing as in, they are all over the yard. Front, back, by the garage, we’ve found hundreds. Were they collecting them for a reason? Did they make a game of pulling off the tabs and throwing them in the yard?

We’ll never know.

I do know that the rubble pile already looks much better without so much rubble.

The rubble never ends.

Switching topics, we ate at La Vallesana Wednesday night, and I was incredibly pleased with my dinner. Since kicking the gluten out of my diet, I’ve become an annoying diner. For example, I asked the La Vallesana server if I could possibly get the spicy shrimp burrito (my favorite!) on corn tortillas. She came back and said something to the affirmative, but when I realized she said that they could do it on wheat tortillas (which is the norm), I was like, no! not wheat! So there was a bit of miscommunication in the beginning. But, the kitchen redeemed itself by preparing a spicy shrimp platter with corn tortillas on the side.

It was the best:

Careful: these shrimp are ridiculously hot.

Whereas many restaurants give you stupid vegetables on the side, La Vallesana goes all out with asparagus and potatoes! Asparagus! I was more than happy to pay $9.95 for this spread. Delicious.

Have a great weekend!


As I’ve mentioned before, I had to work at another big event yesterday, and I’m exhausted.

Utterly exhausted.

Before a big work event, I get pre-event anxiety that manifests as sleeplessness. The night before an event, I usually get to sleep around 2 or 3 am, and then I usually have to get up by 6 or 6:30. Not fun.

This event thankfully ended at 6:30 last night, and I was in bed at 8:30.

But I’m still exhausted.

So you can bet I’m taking up my director’s offer of a day off. Tomorrow at this time, I hope to be just getting out of bed and feeling fresh and energetic. Rather than old and lethargic, as I feel right now.

This is all I have. I’m tired and whiny. And counting down the days until I don’t have to do this sort of thing any more.

On a Slippery Slope

As I do from time to time, I purchased a cup of decaf coffee from the little cafe at my school. But this time I put a shot of real coffee in it! It’s a slippery slope, my friends, a slippery, caffeinated slope.

I needed the extra boost because I am so tired. So much tiredness.

On Saturday, a group of us tackled our alley as part of Operation Brightside’s spring blitz. This is our block’s third year of cleaning up the alley, and while it’s fun to catch up with neighbors, the work is still hard. Especially when it’s an unseasonable 87 degrees!

After three and a half hours of cleaning the alley, we lunched on the most amazing chicken salad at the Mud Room. So much yum!

We needed the chicken salad to sustain us through the afternoon. Our neighbor Tom drove us out to St. Louis Composting, where we loaded up with a yard of garden mix dirt and a couple bags of mulch. Once back, neighbors James and Shannon helped us unload the 3,000 lbs of dirt.

All I can say is, we have awesome neighbors. I mean, does this look like fun to you?

More dirt than you can imagine!

We had enough dirt to fill up the garden beds, the strawberry/blueberry bed, the front bed, part of Tom’s backyard sinkhole, and the front bed of another neighbor. AND, we stowed some dirt in the garage for some alley landscaping. We did all of this in less than two hours!

Then Porkchop and I went to the last home Blues game of the season, which we topped off with ice cream from the Fountain on Locust.

We collapsed into bed, only to get up early on Sunday to purchase landscaping bricks for the alley project! And we planted flowers in the front and spread mulch!

Pretty planting pretties.

In the afternoon, Porkchop accompanied Tom in buying a yard of mulch from the same composting place. She also helped him unload and spread it while I did stats homework (it took two hours for me to do four homework problems!).

I also cooked lunch and dinner, and did more homework. And laundry and cleaning the bathroom!

It was the weekend of hard labor!

I’m glad to just be sitting here at work, although I would be more comfortable at home in bed.

Here’s to busy weekends and yardwork and nice neighbors!

Dirt Party

I’m out from under the conference cloud that was hovering over my work desk for the past few months. All I have to worry about event-wise this month is a lecturer on Friday, and this bigwig next Tuesday (whose honorarium is a full 2/3 of my annual salary!).

Beginning next month, I will be swamped preparing for a conference we’re hosting in China. I don’t get to go, but I do have the joy of doing prep work! The fun started with building registration websites in English and Chinese, and oh, the joy of maintaining two websites! (Fortunately we have a wonderfully capable RA who takes care of the Chinese site.)

But today, I feel terrific. It’s sunny, the air is crisp, and I received a full six hours of uninterrupted sleep last night.

I also had a cup of black tea this morning, and have been energetically unfocused.

However, I have been focused enough to round up neighbors to help me shovel a cubic yard of dirt into my raised beds! The chickens kick dirt out of the beds like nobody’s business, so I need to do a good top-up before planting.

I have shoveling volunteers, and a possible vehicle for transporting the dirt. However, can anyone volunteer a backup pick-up in case the first one doesn’t come through?? You can have fresh eggs and some dirt. And vegetables from the garden (provided it grows!).

Since I last posted, this is the most exciting thing that happened:


We purchased new furniture for the computer nook! Our old desk was, well, old. And junky. And stupid. We were also using a dinette chair that I picked up from an antiques mall over 10 years ago. The whole setup was horrible.

The new desk, bookshelf, and chair have done wonders for our self-esteem. Now we have to figure out what to do with our junky file cabinets, but that might have to wait a couple more years.

The old furniture is now upstairs in the guestroom with the old iMac (still functioning after 10 years!). While we hated the furniture when it was downstairs, it offers me a little study area upstairs. I love having study space upstairs. Keetah snoozes in her cat bed while I try not to snooze doing stats reading.

Speaking of Keetah, she is a sucker for stomach rubs:

Keetah paralyzed by rubs. She enjoys it. Really.

Have a great week!