Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kiss Me, World. I'll Bend Over.

I'm in kind of a pissy mood. I'll tell you that right now, right before I type anything else, so you'll know and therefore can decide if you want to stay tuned to listen to me whine.

You know, I've been a bad girl lately, and when I say lately I mean for about the past 8 months. And I don't really even know if I've been a bad girl as much as I've been a neglectful girl, but that's mass rationalizing and I know that I've been a bad girl indeed.

And by bad, I mean lazy.

It all started when the weather got cold, after last fall. It was time for me to shift from the walking thing, which I'd shifted to from the swimming thing, into the something else thing. The something else I could do indoors thing. Yes, I needed some form of cold weather exercise, and sadly, as I was wracking my brain about what one could do indoors after work, my brain kept hitting upon one certain trio of activity. And that trio was sitting on my ass in the Comfy Chair, napping and watching TV. And I chose it. I grabbed at it like it was the greatest thing since sliced cheese.

And it was. Until now, when I find myself with my first weight gain in 3 1/2 years, a wardrobe of really tight clothes (I began by blaming the dryer - "This dryer's shrinking my clothes!"), and the prospect of donning my Sauerkraut Band dirndl in less than a month, after having tried it on and realizing I resemble a blue sausage in the thing. (Thank heavens it's the dress that's blue, not me. Though breathing is kept to a minimum.)

I'm disgusted. I started being disgusted a while back, which was also when I started getting out and exercising again, walking nightly and writing blogs almost as often, on miles and steps and laps of the 7 foot tall guy versus the 5 foot 3 girl. I stopped worrying about steps and miles and went for time, but in the end, folks, let's face it. Walking is boring. I mean, if you're walking down the Blue Ridge Parkway, it's probably rather exciting, but I walk in a circle on a track at our town's middle school. To the south are some right nice hills, but as you wind around back north you're looking at Rt 460, and it's not very inspirational. And besides, all that walking with my hands swinging down at my sides caused my hands and fingers to swell so badly I couldn't make a fist.

So I was fat, and I was depressed. Cut to a different story for a minute.

Here's where I've really got a chip on my shoulder and a stick in my craw. Protein. I also spent most of last summer and fall not doing so well with the protein. Remember, I'm supposed to consume more grams of protein in a day than I could ever hold, and so what I can't get in with food I'm supposed to get in with supplements, yes, the old Orange Crapius you and I know so well. I more than you. A fact for which you should be eternally grateful.

I was doing approximately zero Orange Crapii per day, and maybe one per week. That changed when my hair started falling out again, and my ass-kicking buddy TT told me I was going to end up dead in a gutter one day if I didn't start loading in a little protein. And so I did, and I don't know where exactly the wherewithal to stick with that came from, but it must come from somewhere because I keep doing it. And I guess it pays off in the end because the last time I was in the hairstylist's chair, she said she'd never seen my hair so thick and healthy.

And there are other benefits of Orange Crapius too, I suppose. It flushes the kidneys. It's good for my muscles. It also helps me get in a good portion of my liquids for the day. But it's still orange, and it's still crappy.

I've also cut out all the snacks I found myself eating, the protein bars, which don't have as much protein as the Crapius, but are the only thing approaching a sweet taste I'll ever get again. I bought boxes and boxes of them, and realized quite quickly I was also eating boxes and boxes of them, and that wasn't a good thing. So I quit. Cold turkey. Any kind of chip is out, potato chips, corn chips, Doritos. I found myself buying and eating those without even thinking, so now I'm thinking a bit more and giving them a pass.

OK, now back to exercise.

The whole swollen hands thing, plus the fact that it's really hot here, even in the evenings, has made walking just a nightmare. Even with the ipod I love so much. And so I decided to go back to something I hadn't done in ages. Aerobics. Low-impact aerobics, courtesy of the tape I've had for nigh-on 15 years. It may be old, but it's a good tape, a good workout. I loaded it into the machine a couple of weeks ago, and had at it. It was amazing. There I was, marching and lifting, and panting, saying, "Damn. Why have I been walking? This thing works every single inch of my body and gets me sweating even more than laps at the school in 90 degree heat."

And I'm getting good at it, too! Where in the early days I had to "modify" (the dominatrix, er, aerobics teacher is big on modification, lifting the leg lower, going to a different arms position if you're getting too winded), now I can pretty much do all the movements when I'm supposed to. There's a section after the aerobics with some basic weight training, which I'm doing as well, and though I hate exercise and always will, I at least feel some sense of weak and tired accomplishment when this is all done. Sure, I may not be able to lift my arms to re-open the blinds, but it's a good kind of paralyzed.

I've been doing that almost every day.

My clothes are still too tight.

And so I would now officially, right here in front of God and everybody, like to tell excercise to kiss my ass. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop doing it, but it can just kiss my ass.

Now, of course, along with all the other things I'm doing to try and be a good girl, I'm also remembering to diligently take my vitamins. I don't take all the vitamins I'm supposed to, but I take the ones I need the most, and I have them sitting in conspicuous places around the house to remind me. In the morning, I take calcium. At lunch, magnesium, Occuvite (for the eyes), B12, and the occasional potassium. Later in the afternoon, iron (well, a special iron poly-complex) and vitamin C. Then at bedtime, I chill with a relaxing chewable multi-vitamin. I've been on this merry-go-round of science for about six months now.

The vitamins I take cost, per bottle, anywhere from $3.50 all the way up to $30.00 (the fancy iron). And so I would also like, right here in front of God and everybody, to tell vitamins to kiss my ass. I'm tired of taking them, I'm tired of being tied to any pill, much less eight of them, every day, slogging them around when I travel, and so forth. But I'm taking them. Because I know I'm supposed to. But please, vitamins, just kiss my ass.

Speaking of drugs, I was in the gynecologists' chair back in October - wait, let's correct this immediately. It's not a chair. Chair implies comfort. I was on the gynecologists' table of "whoops my ass is up in the air" back in October, and she gave me another prescription, for the same prescription she gives me every year. That wonder drug a woman takes for ten days, then the very flower of her womanhood makes an appearance (I'm talking about having a period). I'm supposed to take a ten-day round of this drug every other month, but I don't, because it doesn't work, and I don't think you could get a period out of me at this point with a sandblaster. And the sad thing about that is that I'd actually be willing to let someone try.

Anyway, for some Godforsaken reason I decided I'd go ahead and give it the old college try this month, swallow, heave, and see what happens, but since I've started taking this drug, I've been, well.... No, actually, I've been unwell.

I know I'm a woman of a certain age, for I have the hot flashes to prove it, but Lawks a Mercy, what happens to me when I take these pills can not be called a hot flash. It's more like someone took some fireplace bellows, put them in my ear, and pumped fireplace air into my head. Sweat actually pops out on my face and begins to run downwards to my chin. Do you know what it's like to be in your office, with a client, and have that happen?

Today, going back to work after lunch, one of these occurred, and I began to cry. It was quite hard to describe. I couldn't breathe, and I swear for a single moment I saw the Grim Reaper there in the passenger's seat, motioning me to come with him. I didn't want to go, but threw my hands off the wheel and almost went along. Then he disappeared, maybe on an emergency call, and I was left sweating and panting.

The upshot of this is, there's really no reason for me to fix my hair anymore. Or put on makeup. Or, hell, even shower. I'm ruined by 8:30. I looked this morning at the prescription bottle and saw that it's a differently named drug than I normally take. So I'm calling my gynecologist tomorrow and asking her what the deal is. I'm not telling her to kiss my ass, because she's a lovely person, but this drug sure can. Right in front of God and everybody, this period drug can kiss my ass. (And by the by, if one is taking drugs to induce a period, wouldn't you think a hot flash would be its last side effect? Isn't that what you're getting away from?)

And so let's head back to my old friend Orange Crapius. Drinking two of these libations of undelight a day, I go through them fairly fast. And they're very messy. You scoop the powder into your glass, pour in the liquid, and stir like nobody's business. You never get it quite stirred enough, and wet, clumpy bits of Crapius cling to your stirring device. (And I've tried stirring with everything, even a nutmeg grater.) All that vigorous stirring splashes the staining orange liquid onto your clothes and countertops. If you wait too long to start drinking it, the powder begins to settle, and you have to shake the glass to mix it back up. And your kitchen will have crystals of Orange Crapius everywhere, because when you scoop, the powder begins to fly.


So - the last time I had to order a round of Crapius (I normally order them two large jugs at a time), I noticed something different for sale. Portable Crapius! Yes, plastic jugs (with a cute carrying handle) of individually wrapped packets of Crapius. No scooping, no mixing into a baggie for travel, just the perfect thing for me. And I placed that order so fast your head would spin.

Turns out it is 1) more expensive than the old jug type Crapius, and 2) not so convenient as I thought. Because it doesn't mix as well, and believe me, folks, I've even taken to putting it in my martini shaker (which seems very, very sacrilegious) and shaking the hell out of it, coming out with clumps of Crapius and a lot of foam, and mixing it takes forever, and even pouring the little packet into the glass is still messy.

I guess where I'm going with all this is that I'd like to officially state, more than anything else in this blog, that right here in front of God and everybody, Orange Crapius can kiss my ass. It smells bad, it tastes bad, it takes up my entire lunch hour (yes, it takes an hour to mix one, drink it, then mix another for work), and it's eating up my checking account as well. A month's supply is $90. It smells and tastes bad, and I can't help but think that something non-carbonated that foams like that can't be good for you.

So, let's stop and take some inventory here. I'm fat and depressed, I'm doing some really good exercise that paralyzes me and makes me feel good about myself but hasn't begun to move the pounds, I've cut everything fun out of my diet, I'm broke from Orange Crapius and vitamins, I'm on the edge of hot flash death from the other drug. I'm losing my best buddy from band, Kellie with an ie, and one of my favorite Sauerkraut Band buddies, the lovely and vivacious SaraBeth. I look like a blue sausage in my dirndl, and to be quite honest, I'm just a little bit irritable lately. Yes, me. Irritable.

On the plus side, I'm starting to see some baby blades of grass in my yard. And I made it to 602,000 in Text Twist over the weekend. And you know, that almost makes up for all the above. Almost.

OK. Through whining.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what will you be doing this Thursday with no hucklebug podcast to listen to?
- Honorable Mentions go to Kellie with an ie, and her, "Tossing, Heaving Garbage. Heavy Loading" (oh, that it weren't true), and Flipsycab, and her, "The Hildebrandt-Goldenstein Honorary Layabout" (which I have absolutely no idea what that means, but it sounds wonderful).
- Runner-Up goes to Michelle the dishy, and her, "Tearing hair, grieving hearing Letterman." (We're better than Letterman? Wow!)
- And this week's winner goes to the DeepFatFriar, and his, "Teaching high Germans Hucklebug lore." (That conjures up a really nice picture, actually.)
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!


Monday, June 25, 2007


Hello, acrobabes. Welcome to another rather sleepy round of acromania.

Well, it's 10 pm. Do I know where my hucklebug is? Actually, I do. She's in New Jersey, on vacation. Yep, I'm free, as there will be no podcast recording tonight. This also means, of course, that there will be no hucklebug podcast posted on Thursday.

Which brings us to our acrotopic. "What Will You Be Doing This Week Instead of Hucklebugging?" Yes, instead of listening to our podcast this week, what will you spend that hour doing? Laundry? Cleaning the bathroom? Or just sitting on the sofa crying your eyes out. Or maybe what you do every Thursday, as you don't listen to the podcast anyway. Anyway, tell us how you're going to fill that lonely hour without a podcast to listen to.

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket will be jumping up and down, trying to get letters to spontaneously form words in him. He does that when he's bored. Then tomorrow at 10 pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners and non-winners, blah blah blah, I'm really, really tired and don't even feel like finishing this blog.

How's that for truth?

So the topic, "What Will You Be Doing This Week Instead of Hucklebugging?" The letters:


There you have it. Hope you have more energy than I do, at least enough to get acroing.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Tired, I said.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. Welcome to an incredibly meager edition of Picture Sunday.

Meager because I went to Mr M's Friday night and forgot to bring home my camera. This is a shame indeed, because this evening I installed a new toilet seat in the Poderosa bathroom. If ever there was a picture opportunity I daresay that was it, and I was quite proud of myself after the job was completed.

Not only that, but my new toilet seat is a Cushy! I have no idea what that means, it can't be top of the line because it was quite cheap, but it's, well, it's a Cushy! I'm surprised they don't have commercials - "Look, Ma! It's a Cushy!"

I also worked a little on the lawn today. Now, you know and I know (well, maybe you don't, but I do) that my lawn is hopelessly dead and beyond repair. I'm just at this point, as my mom says, "Playin'." I bought some dirt/fertilizer stuff that I spread out over the dead grass seeds that are in the dead dirt, tamped it down, and within - well, within nothing - it started to rain while I was out there, and I stayed there in the rain, putting down dirt and tamping it, and getting nice and muddy.

I'll keep you posted.

Let's see, this is good. Last night after I went to bed, I was flipping through channels on the TeeVee, and saw on my trusty digital cable guide that some channel was showing a program called "The States." I thought, "Hmm" (and not much else), and hit the "information" button. I got this little nugget of wisdom.

THE STATES (2007): "Georgia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Maryland, DC" - Examining Georgia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Maryland, DC.

Well. Guess they told me, didn't they.

The other big news around here is something I alluded to in Thursday's blog.

As we know, my boy Sherman is something of a wizard in the garden. Not only can he grow any flower or vegetable you can name, but he's also a master at crop development. Every summer, he comes up with a new vegetable hybrid and grows a crop of it. He's produced, in the past, the Shermanhead Melon, Shermanhead Peach, Shermanhead Carrot, and Shermanhead Squash.

Well, this year, folks, he's outdone himself. He's gone way beyond the call of gardening duty, and come up with something I'm sure you'll find hard to believe.

May I (and Sherman) present to you now - the Shermanhead Pickle!

It's an amazing feat, but here you have it. An actual pickle grown from the ground. No brine, no pickling time, no worrying about spices. It's all done in the seeds, and comes off the vine as an actual lightly dilled pickle. It's going to be a summer of tuna salad and hamburgers of delight with a crop of these little magical fellas around.

Thanks to Mr M, who took the picture of the first-ever Shermanhead Pickle.

And now to the recipe du jour. And - hey! Could it be? Yes! Someone has volunteered to make, photograph, and contribute a recipe du jour to Picture Sunday! And that someone would be none other than the DeepFatFriar, who's spending a little quality time at Mr M's, Poderosa East, this weekend.

And this recipe du jour will probably tell you as much about the Friar as you need to know. It's from the "Constructive Breakfasts" file at cardland, and please say hello to it, Biscuits and Gravy.

Yes, wooden joiner biscuits immersed in that most southern of treats, gravy.

These words come from the Friar his own self:

"High in fiber, difficult to cut. Just buy a can of gravy, heat it up, and add the biscuits. A real treat when watching the home fix-it shows on PBS on Saturday afternoon."

I love the layout. And I love the pig. The pig is really digging those biscuits and gravy. Then again, he's made of wood.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Surreal TV moment this morning. Watching "Face the Nation" on CBS, and the host went to a "panel of experts" for a political discussion. One of the political experts was actor Sam Waterston! I'm sure it's because he's on a TV show with Fred Thompson, but Jesus Christ, that's just odd.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hidden Talents

Hello, friends and blogees.

I'm happy to report that Huckleberry Hound arrived home safely last night. I'm sure you didn't realize he was away, but indeed he was. You see, last week we, and when I say we I mean the mighty and feared B'burg Community Band, played a concert at a retirement home. Huckie went along to listen, and meet and greet, and he came away from the experience with a certain look in his eye. No, it wasn't distemper, it was wistfulness.

And that very night, he took off in the Huckiemobile to go visit his mom. Maw Hound.

I'll bet you didn't know Huck has his own car. It's a red 1958 Huckiemobile Extra. Two door. I'm not sure what the "extra" means, really, because its top speed is 25 mph. He has to leave very early when he goes on a trip. But it putts along just fine, and he's never been stranded alongside the road as far as I know.

So Huckie and Maw Hound had a lovely visit there under the porch in Alabama. Maw Hound has her own house, but the Hound Family Tradition has always been to meet and socialize under the front porch where its cooler. Huckie's cousin Boysenberry Hound came by for a day visit as well, he tends barn on a farm three or so hours away. Apparently there was much merriment, talk of old times, and food.

Yes, food. Oh, that's right. I'll bet you didn't know that, either. Huckleberry Hound is an excellent cook.

I found this out quite by mistake, actually. One night I was particularly tired, and Huckie announced he'd make dinner for me and The Boys, the other cartoon characters taking up residence here at The Pod. He made beans. I wasn't surprised. Huckleberry's a country dog, and he likes his beans. But they were excellent beans. After dinner I was thanking him and said, "You can make dinner any time you like."


Since then, he's made Welsh Rarebit, Filet of Sole with Tarragon Sauce, his Special Veal Meat Loaf, Spicy Vegetable Stew, and many other fancy dishes. His Potatoes au Gratin are to die for (as are his Home Fries), and he sometimes travels in the Huckiemobile to B'burg just to make lunch for Mr M. And oh, the times he's given that special touch to Fish Stick Night (Wednesdays) here for his fellow characters by making Peppered Salmon Sticks, Seared Tuna Sticks, or Lemon Mahi Mahi Sticks.

He also does a mean pot of mashed potatoes.

It's funny, really. I mean, we all know about Sherman and Peabody, that boy and dog team of many talents. Mr Peabody's a genius, a financial wizard, an inventor. He does yoga, and plays the flute (excellently) and the euphonium (not so much, but he gives it his all). Sherman can play the clarinet and the fiddle (which he learned since becoming a Hackensaw Boys fan), can do both of those while dancing. He's a top-notch gardener and is an expert in the field of crop development. Lest we forget the Shermanhead Melon, Shermanhead Squash, Shermanhead Carrot, and Shermanhead Peach. (He's got something near cultivation for this summer that will knock your socks off, too.) He once made a suspension bridge out of fudge, and can eat an entire chocolate cake by himself.

And so it is, as I often say, a happy little commune we have here, but also a talented one.

Did you know that Mr Peanut (who's still on the wagon and doing beautifully in his sobriety) can do magic tricks? Sometimes when things are a little slow around The Poderosa, someone will ask him to perform. He's produced numerous quarters out of Sherman's ear, pulled a rabbit out of his top hat, and once, to everyone's amazement, made Mr Peabody disappear. However, no one as yet has volunteered to be sawed in half. He swears he can do it, though. Mr Peanut is also an excellent dancer, showing us his skill in everything from the mashed potato to the soft shoe, once waltzed so beautifully with my Scooba Doo doll I thought Peabody was going to cry, and anyone who's seen his commercial knows he can even breakdance. He's also well-versed in the Social Graces, and makes sure everyone around here has excellent manners.

Good Luck Baby Lily is, well, yes, she's only a baby, but she's an excellent drawer and colorer. She makes sure every inch of the paper is filled in, and color coordinates very well. Her stick figures of The Boys are always recognizable, and she can draw, for some strange reason, amazingly accurate depictions of money. (Her five-dollar bill is exquisite.) She's also learning to play the flute (Peabody's teaching her), and does very well. She will also proudly tell you that she knows her state capitals, but please, if you decide to test her, ask her the capital of Virginia, because that's the only one she knows. She doesn't realize yet there are other states.

Quick Draw McGraw, who loves Huckie's beans more than any soul on earth, is quite the cowboy poet. All those years out west had their effect on him, and even now, when he's lonely, he'll sit in the corner with pen and paper, musing away. He was kind enough to let me publish one of his earlier works. It's called "Blazing Sun."

When morning comes and I arise
Sleep still heavy in my eyes
I look up into the blazing sun.
It's still early, but there's much to be done.
I have to walk the trail and herd
Alone, without a word
Sun still blazing on my back and mane.

Through dust and tumbleweeds I lope
Full of beans and hope
Hope that the western sky
Which is always beautiful to my eye
Will never lose its charm.

At the end of the day
And the end of my trail
I eat more beans
From my pail
And wait for tomorrow morning's blazing sun.

*sniff* Sorry, that one always gets to me.

Quick Draw is also an ace poker player (and I really didn't mean to use that rotten pun), and occasionally he, Huckie, Peabody, and Mr Peanut will get a rousing game of Five Card Draw going that lasts into the wee hours.

Gossamer can catch butterflies in mid-air, and knows the difference between a sneaker and a house shoe. Sherman proved this once in an experiment when he blindfolded Gossamer and tested him. Gossamer picked the house shoe nine times out of ten, and only missed on the tenth because some fuzz from the house shoe got on the sneaker. This comes in handy for me, because I don't so much mind when he eats my house shoes. I seldom wear them. I get a little irritated when he starts in on the sneakers, though.

The newest member of The Poderosa commune is of course Che Guellama, the llama who delivered Mr M's clarinet from Chile and decided not to go home, at least for the forseeable future. He's still settling in, but is doing nicely, and we've discovered that he can flamenco dance like nobody's business. He does this in the kitchen, where there's no carpet, often at startlingly early hours of the morning. He's also, I guess due to his vocation, an excellent fetcher. Whenever I need something in the house, I just mention it, and he's away and back with my item in no time. Not long after his arrival I was at my desk and mentioned I needed a pen, and off he went, coming back with a safety pin. I summed this up as a mistake anyone could make, but I'm now realizing his lack of English skills are worse than I thought. I asked for a flashlight and was brought an ashtray, said I needed some thread and was brought a coat hanger, and mentioned I'd like a glass of water and was handed and olive and a toothbrush. He's very eager to please, though. He's a nice llama.

So there you have it. Hidden talents of The Boys. Stop by sometime, we'll give you a show.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I don't know how to sow grass. I did it today, on my afternoon off, but I don't know how. I feel a very brown summer ahead.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Yes, I'm scum. At least I know it and can freely admit it.

Another night, and yet still no blog. Maybe I needed all that hubbub in my life of Hell Week. Now that it's over, I have nothing to write about.

Let's see, I got my hair cut tonight, got bumped from my pedicure till next week, did a nice workout, and finished up the laundry. I tried to get through a highly recommended movie with no success (gave up about a half-hour in), watched "Celebrity Fit Club" (boy, that Screech is quite the asshole), and that's about it.

Oh, and Monday night, well.... Monday night I had a new success story.

I know. I'm a sad, sad girl. (Sorry about the splotch, I must have been so excited I left the flash on.)

But yall want to see the acrowinners. and the acrowinners I shall give. To make sure I have an Olympic Update, I'll give you the topic, "What's Your First Album Going To Be Called," then head below for the big winners.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* So here we go:
- Honorable Mentions go to LilyG, with her "Never Heard These Tunes, Obviously," and DeepFatFriar, with his "now has terpitude taken over."
- Runners-Up go to Kellie (with an ie), with her "Now, Hear! Two Tantilizing Oboes," and Capt A, with his "Nearer Hell: Trumpets, Trombones, Tinnitus."
- And this week's winner goes to Mike, with his "Nobody Heeds The Town Owl." Experimental grunge, I'm thinking.
- Thanks to all who played! You've all done very well!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Did you miss playing acro? That's OK. Here's your big chance to play.

I don't have a blog, and don't care really, and, hey, let's have another night of acro. So if you haven't played, get in your entries.

See below.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Hello, letter lovers, word enthusiasts, and brainy people everywhere. Welcome to another round of acromania.

Let's get right to it. Tonight's acro will be on the musical side. Because - it's time for you to release your first album. (I'm making the rash assumption here that none of you have yet released your first album.) What's it going to be called? Yep, that's tonight's acro. "What's The Title of Your First Album?"

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket's first album was called "My Letters, Your Letters." However, his first movie was called "Wicker Man," but someone stole it and made a more popular version. Anyway, tomorrow night at 10 pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who'll see their albums displayed prominently at malls everywhere, and the losers, who - well, straight to the bargain bin.

So, this week's topic: "What's The Title of Your First Album?" The letters:


Now put down your microphones and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* No hucklebug recording tonight, but I had plans of getting so much done around the Pod. What did I do? Slept for two hours in the Comfy Chair. It was good sleep, though.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to a special Father's Day edition of Picture Sunday.

However, first, let's talk a little about mothers.

Yes, this afternoon, I walked around back to check on my duck. The duck (for the uninitiated) who's been nesting in a bush in my backyard. I went to have a quick look, only to find - she'd gone! She'd gone and taken her ducklings with her! Not an eggshell, not a photo op, not a thank-you note, nothing. She didn't even bring her babies out in the yard to parade around for me.

And now I'm alone again.

Boy, ducks sure are ungrateful.

I'm hoping to see her and the little ones floating down the stream one day, but I'm not holding my breath. Stennie was right. Birds. Sheeesh.

OK, let's get to the pictures, and celebrate that special guy - Dad. Today we all met at the sister's house to have dinner and celebrate Father's Day.

Now, earlier in the week when I saw my dad, I asked him if there was any special sort of gift he might have on his mind as far as the day went, and, well, he rubbed his head and said, "What I want, I don't think you can give me." Remember, two rounds of chemo have left my dad as bald as a cueball.

So I went on a mission, and decided that maybe there was something I could do about that. And along with his other gifts, I wrapped up a box that said atop it, "For the man who has everything...almost."

And inside? A week of hair!

It all starts on Monday. One needs to make a good impression on Monday, so I thought maybe the Cute Little Girl look would be the right fit. Complete with yellow bow.


Tuesday is actually my favorite. After you've made a good impression on Monday, you can slide a little on Tuesday. Which brings us to the Drunken Wino's Bad Toupee look.

Dad was a good sport about the sticky velcro used to affix that one to his smooth pate. As was the case with Wednesday.

Wednesday's Exotic Day, and so Wednesday's wig is something we call The King (I) and You. Because it has that Yul Brynner feel to it.

There are also gold hoop earrings to go with this one, but Dad declined a tryout. Funny, he had no problems with the little girl wig, but the earrings were just too much.

Thursday is In The Hood Day, and no self-respecting man about town would go into the hood without his 'do rag.

Did you know that 'do rags are hard to put together? Have to be a Rhodes scholar to get those things on and tied right.

Friday is the beginning of the weekend, and so of course it's time to let your hair (as it were) down. This makes Friday Country Day. Hee Haw Hair.

And when you're through hoeing down at the square dance, you can come home and mop the floor with your wig!

Saturday is of course your big night out, and what says Saturday night out like a round of clubbing. And what says a round of clubbing like the Modern Rasta Dad.

Dad has decided he's wearing this one to his next round of chemo. I kept saying, "But it's not on a Saturday!"

And that brings us to Sunday, when you need your most special wig of all, for church, dinner out, and receiving visitors. So it's only appropriate that you'd want the most hair of all for Sunday. Like, oh, say, Afro Bro.

Actually, owing to the fact it had been in a bag in the store, this resembled an afro very little. In fact, it was decided unanimously that Dad doesn't look a thing like a Funk Soul Brother, but looks instead like comedian Marty Allen.

Anyway, it was worth the effort of getting everything together to give my dad that good of a laugh, which I did. In fact, we all did. And every Halloween from now on, he'll have a little side business renting out his wigs to family members.

OK, let's get to this week's recipe du jour. It was chilling in the fridge while I was chilling with the family.

You know those people who think anything homemade is better than anything you buy at the store? I don't cotton to that idea. However, there are those times when you just can't beat certain hand-created dishes. Like tonight. From the "Homemade Is Always Better" file at cardland, please say hello if you will to Peanut Butter.

Yes, what could be better than homemade peanut butter. The real kind of peanut butter. The kind that contains peas, nuts, and butter. Mix the three together and let it chill, and spread it on a cracker. Or are you bold enough to make a sandwich? I'll bet you are!

For the cost-conscious, this little foray into the recipe du jour cost an astounding 50 cents. For the peas.

And you know, I've been tempted before, and found myself standing there tonight saying, "You know, I like peas, I like nuts, and I like butter. Should I?" And for the first time ever, I tasted a recipe du jour. And you know what? It was yummy! I ate a whole cracker.

Which begs the question. If I eat the recipe du jour, and it actually tastes good, does that make it a colossal failure? I'll have to ponder that while I munch on another peanut butter cracker.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Not even a note! Not a, "Thanks, but I'm taking the babies and heading south." Nothing!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Hello. I didn't plan it. I thought I was through with pictures for the week. I thought wrong, I suppose.

For I have two completely unrelated stories to tell tonight, and both are accompanied by visual aids, as we say in the blog biz.

I've been carrying something around with me for a couple of weeks. I keep meaning to post it here in the blog, and I keep forgetting. But today as I was rumbling through my handbag, the handbag that contains two checkbooks, two wallets, clothespins, hand sanitizer, extra keys, multiple empty bank envelopes, and more store receipts than any one person should be allowed to own, I found the item once again.

That's nice, as I never found what I was looking for, because while going through all that handbag stuff I kind of forgot what it was I was looking for.

The item I put away was a coupon. Which I pronounce kew-pon, much to the dismay of Mr M, but it was given to me by my sister, who thought I'd enjoy it.

Yes, it's a coupon (or kew-pon) to Belk, an upscale department store in this area. Belk is a nice store, but I seldom go there because they're a little high-end for my handbag, which is full of everything but money. As you can see, Belk was having a sale wherein with this little coupon one could get a big fat 15% off ladies' handbags, fashion jewelry, watches, and fashion accessories.

My sister didn't give me the coupon because she thought I'd enjoy a big fat 15% off ladies' handbags, fashion jewelry, watches, and fashion accessories, though. She gave it to me because of the back of the coupon.

The fine print.

Yes, as you can see, maybe, because it's quite fine, the fine print says that I can only use my coupon once, and that I can't redeem this for cash, or use it on phone orders. Or with Early Bird or Night Owl specials. It also says, and I quote:

Excludes all designer jewelry, Carolee Jewelry, Lauren Jewelry; all designer handbags, Fossil handbags, small leather goods by Fossil, Polo; sunglasses by Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Juicy; belts by Fossil, Polo; fashion accessories by Lauren; cold weather by Lauren, Echo; watches by AK Anne Klein, Juicy, Fossil, Guess, Kenneth Cole, Nautica, Tommy Bahama, Skagen.

In other words, a big fat 15% off ladies' handbags, fashion jewelry, watches, and fashion accessories, except those brands of ladies' handbags, fashion jewelry, watches, and fashion accessories that we sell here in the store.

And I really don't see where Belk has any kind of ownership of cold weather, apparently Lauren does, but since it's June now I'm not interested in any anyway.

Speaking of Belk, ever notice how fancy cosmetics and perfumes never go on sale? Sure, they might add a $2.00 canvas tote bag with every tube of mascara costing $40, but they never have an "all creme eyeliners half-price" bust-out. Even when the creme eyeliners are dangerously close to going out of fashion.

Anyway, enough of that. Here's the big news around the Pod these days.

I'm about to become a mother!

Well, of sorts.

When I got home from work yesterday, I saw the folks walking around the outside of the Poderosa. Seems Dad wanted to give my yard a mow, since he realizes that with graduation and a summer of fun and community service, getting the nephew to do the task would be akin to getting 15% off a pair of Kate Spade sunglasses at Belk.

I put down my things and tried to help with mower bag emptying and weed whacker lifting, and then Mom took me around back to show me something.

If you'll look closely, in that bush, which is right up against the back of the Pod, is a nesting duck.

She won't move, so the neighbors drop her bread crumbs into the bushes. Every once in a while I'll hear her quack, and she was very kind to let me take this picture, breathing very heavily while I was doing so. I promised her I was not out to take her eggs, I just wanted a photo.

I don't know the gestational period for duck eggs, and don't know how long she's been there. Our expectant mother has had visitors, though. The Ducksons from down the stream stopped by to say hello.

As soon as I have babies, I'll let you know. I think I'll decorate in pink and blue!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what did Baby J say after the cheek-pinching?
- Honorable Mention goes to Kellie (with an ie), with her, "Bet, Incredible Nervous Grip. Unabashedly Tenderhearted."
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with her, "Baby I? No. Got upset, typing."
- And this week's winner goes to the DeepFatFriar (going by his new name, anonymous), with his, "But I never get underwear thrown!"
- Actually, what he said was surprisingly tame, and Kellie (with an ie) came fairly close. It was simply, "Awwwww, that is so sweet."


Monday, June 11, 2007


Hello, acroites and acrosciples. It's Monday, and that can only mean another round of acromania.

Well, I did something Thursday. Yep. I played in a clarinet recital, and I drove to another city, and I saw the Hackensaw Boys. And I danced, and bought their new album, and even talked to them afterwards.

But that's not what I'm talking about.

See, for anyone who listens to the hucklebug podcast, well, you know what Stennie beseeches me to do every time I see the Boys. I have no idea how I got the nerve on Thursday, but I strangely found myself telling this story to Baby J Hackensaw, you know, I have this great buddy in LA, a thousand times I see you and a thousand times she asks me to do this, and so tonight, I just have to do it, if you don't mind.

And then I pinched Baby J's cheek. In fact, I pinched it twice, because the second time was for posterity, and Kellie (with an ie)'s camera.

Now, I know what he said after I did this. You don't. That's where this week's acrochallenge comes in. "What Did Baby J Say After This Cheek-Pinching Moment?"

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket wasn't there Thursday, he has no idea, either. Then tomorrow night at 10:00 est I shall be reading over the entries, and naming winners, who will get their cheeks pinched, and non-winners, who will get their jaws socked. There! Incentive to win!

So, the topic, "What Did Baby J Say After This Cheek-Pinching Moment?" The letters:


Or, Bingut. Anyway, plant tongue firmly in cheek and acro!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* By the way, the wickedness in my face above belies the thoughts in my head. Which were basically, "I can't wait to send this to Stennie!"
* I don't like pedometers. Miles or steps, I'm going on Stennie's recommendation - minutes!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

(Tonight's Picture Sunday also contains way too many pictures, but it was a way too many pictured week. Enjoy them, you'll have no more for a while. Also, many thanks to DeepFatFriar and Kellie with an ie for their kind contributions. They took a majority of these.)

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to another "look till you can't take it anymore" round of Picture Sunday.

Yes, Hell Week is over. My week of events all behind me, I can rest a little. Well, no I can't, I now have all those things to do I put off during Hell Week. But it's all good.

After I blogged on Thursday morning, I sprang into action for the events later in the day. I got all gussied up, or at least as gussied up as I get, and headed to B'burg for the first event of the day, Mr M's recital.

Oh, friends. That smile was after the recital. There was no smiling before. The man was nervous, and recommended swath around him was approximately three feet.

And he deserved to be nervous. The scope of music he had on the agenda was a Herculean task. Amazing number of songs, with incredible difficulty. And he pulled it off beautifully. I was so proud of him. His playing was top-notch, he was funny, charming, and the surprisingly large turnout all had a great time. (It was great to see so many people from Community Band there.)

Of course, Jude the Corruptor was there, ready to play his tuba/clarinet duet with Mr M. Their piece was long. And when I say long....

And that was only one movement! Actually a very funny moment happened during that piece. There was simply so much music that at one point Mr M looked from one page to the next, only to find himself - playing a different piece of music! They had to stop, reshuffle, and try again, but it was handled with such humor, no one thought a thing about it.

Oh, yeah. And somewhere in all that fun and frivolity came little ol' me.

In my bag glasses. I was so nervous, as Mr M was introducing me, he kept asking me things, and I couldn't answer! I was breathless, but it went, very quickly, and though I did nothing technically wrong, I felt I really could have nailed it hard except for one thing. I was so nervous, about three measures ended with no notes because I had to stop and take in more air.

But I was happy with it all, and those who were there were very kind in what they said afterwards.

Here's one of us "in action," as action-packed as a clarinet duet can get. Come to think of it, when the players are Mr M and myself, they can get very action-packed indeed.

Some of The Boys made the trip over to see the recital, and were most impressed. In fact, as it was winding down, Huckleberry Hound became so emotional over the music he had to grab a tissue and wipe away a welling tear.

Anyway, I'm glad it's over, except for the small fact that Mr M has decided now he wants to do another recital, so I have to put up with all this one more time. Unless I break his hand, which is a distinct possibility if I can think up a way to make it look like an accident.

Here are the four of us who participated. Mr M, Kay (the accompanist), me, and Mr Corruptor.

As Mr M was still accepting massive applause and compliments, however, I was ducking to the back of the church to change, because I had more rollicking times ahead. I was going to see the Hackensaw Boys! Yes, there I was, in the little room behind the altar, in varying stages of undress while people stuck their heads in the door to give me well-dones.

Believe it or not, my long-lost cousin Jacob showed up at the recital, and joined Kellie (with an ie) and me for the trip to R'noke to see the Hackensaws. It was a hurried trip, as the recital Mr M promised me would only be 90 minutes (pressing time to a minimum as it was) became a two-hour recital. But the three of us girded our loins and pressed on.

When we got there, we saw the stage was empty, and I got so excited. "They haven't started yet?" I asked the club people, and was told, "No, they just finished their first set." Oh, well. It was OK, because we still got to see them play for a very long time.

The club where they played was this trendy downtown spot that I'm sure the Hackensaw Boys would not be allowed into had they not been the entertainment for the evening. It was neon and brick walls, filled with yuppies, and generally everything I hate. (Ferd later remarked it looked "like a show on the FX Network.") But Our Boys got the crowd rocking soon enough, and the concert had the added bonus of - advance copies of the new album! Yep, it doesn't officially come out till the 19th, but I got a copy on Thursday. When I discovered they had the album, the girl told me there was only one left. Ever the trusty and valiant friend, Kellie (with an ie) reserved that copy for me while I went to get my cash.

(Turns out later they found more copies, but hey, it was still trusty and valiant.)

Kellie (with an ie) and Jacob really seemed to enjoy themselves, and afterwards I got to introduce them to Ferd, and they all made friends very quickly. But in what turned into the surprise of the night, I found myself summoning over the very Baby J Hackensaw, who up till now I'd been afraid to even wave at. He came over, and we found ourselves talking to him for about a half-hour. He is just a doll-baby, and the nicest guy in the world.

Kellie (with an ie) snapped this one, and yes, folks, this is what I look like after a nervous clarinet recital and a night of Hackensawing. Tired, washed out, a hair-don't - and on top of the world.

I got back home at 3 am, but didn't go to bed till about 4. Then it was work Friday, and, oh yes, the moment I've been waiting 18 years for (and that you've all suffered through with me), my very own Taytie's graduation.

A cried nary a tear at the ceremonies, though I did a bit before I left, when I was writing Tay a little letter to go in one of his cards.

Here's a very Paint Shopped recieving of the diploma. (Hey, it was in a school gym, what do you want?)

But afterwards, it was cap, gown, and diploma picture time in earnest. Actually, I'm sure it's colored pencils....

And finally, since it was in doubt for a little while, we decided to take one last photo we call "Oh, God - It's Blank!" That's the brother-in-law, not quite playing along with the game.

I stayed up all Friday night, drinking martinis and playing records, and had a massive Friday Chill. Then did my collapse Saturday. Hell Week's over!

Hey, you know what? Summer is right upon us! It's been near 90 here most of the week. And what does summer say to you? Why, a parade, of course. Who doesn't like standing outside waiting for a big summer parade to come by?

Well, that's where this week's recipe du jour comes in. From the "Forward - March!" file at cardland, please give a flag-waving hello to The Zesta Saltine Marching Band!

Yes, this 45-piece marching ensemble is from Keebler High School in Battle Creek, Michigan. They do parades and field drills, often topped with cheese and peanut butter. They're accompanied by the Crouton Flag Corps, and led by no less an entity than the Cinnamon Graham Drum Major, wielding his lollipop baton. They're available for all special occasions, and have garnered such accolades as, "Light and crunchy!" from Popular Music and Snacks magazine.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* There is still one story to tell and one picture to view. Those will come later in the week.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hell Week Update

Hello, friends! I'm still here. I know you were terribly worried. No acrochallenge, no blog in earnest, just a Picture Sunday and a cloud of dust.

But you see, I'm smack-dab in the middle of Hell Week here. This is the week I've been alternately looking forward to and dreading for some time. Something going on every day this week. So let's do a little update.

Monday: School Band Concert

Yes, the last-ever school band concert featuring The Nephew. Hauled my cookies (and my mom's cookies) to the high school to listen to not one, not two, not even three, but four bands. The sixth grade band, the middle school band, the high school band, and in between those, the high school's jazz band.

The sixth grade band was horrible. They're always horrible, but normally they're horrible in a way where you say, "Awww, that's the sweetest thing I've ever seen." This year they were horrible in a way where I said, "If they play one more song, my head's going to explode and go flying right into the saxophone section." I sat beside my sister, and spent about a half-hour saying to her out of the side of my mouth, "Don't look at me. Do not look at me." I knew if she did the giggles would begin, and I'd be escorted out of the building by parents with hurt feelings.

The middle school band was OK, but had the annoying feature of playing two or three songs they play every single year. I swear, I could pick up my horn and play those songs, simply from the memory of going to 7 years' worth of band concerts.

The high school band was rather unfortunate. Every time I see the high school band these days it's rather unfortunate. Wasted potential, man. I guess it comes from the days when I was a high school bander, and we used to play really hard numbers and have practice every night, and, well, I guess no one wants to do that anymore.

However, the jazz band rocked, I mean, they rocked the house, and had the added attraction of Mr Nephew on the drums. He played a solo so volatile that I found myself, right there in the high school auditorium, going, "Woooooo!" I don't "wooooo" often.

However, one small thing I must say. When a band has two directors, both of them brass players, the woodwinds are always sorely lacking. I've never heard such badly out of tune clarinets, nor seen more horrifically unnatural embouchures, in my entire life. Frightening. Mr M needs to get hold of those clarinets.

Afterwards, it was home, dinner while watching the season-ending "Riches" with Stennie (over Skype), and the podcast. Then, falling into bed.

Tuesday: Car Day

Nothing Tuesday night, but my car was 1000 miles past due for a servicing, and I have traveling out the wazoo in my future, and I had to squeeze in some podmobile2 love. Had Mom follow me to the dealership early in the morning and then back to work (Thank You Mom! You have way too much to do without me), and was without a car all day.

Mom drove me back to get the car after work (Thank You Mom! etc), and when I went in to pay there was a little problem. The service manager kept making calls and checking his computer and making fretting sounds. Finally he said something about the service people writing something up wrong, and said, "OK, here's the deal. I'll charge you $9.12."

Huh? Apparently they were eating the mistakes in the writing up, and I have got no problem whatsoever with a $9.12 car servicing. They also replaced my broken dash vent for free because my car's still under warranty, which I thought was mighty nice since I broke the vent myself.

Tuesday night was free, but it rained so I once again couldn't walk (I may have forgotten how to walk by now), but I cleaned house very well indeed, stripped beds, did laundry, and practiced the clarinet so hard that I am now forbidden by Mr M to practice anymore.

Wednesday: Band Concert

Community Band concert at a retirement village in B'burg. I shouldn't have gone with all else that's going on this week, but it's always a fun concert, and I'm also doing the whole "Kellie (with an ie) Farewell Tour" thing. Have to squeeze in those last concerts she's playing in.

This was a real happening, as the band had our very first ever - heckler! I'm surprised it hasn't happened before now, really. Anyway, as we were towards the end of one song, there was a very loud booming voice, the voice of a man, with oxygen, on a Hoveround, talking on a cell phone. It continued into the director's introduction of the next song, and someone in the crowd yelled to the man, "Get off that cell phone! We're listening to music here!" To which the man replied, "Well, that music's not any good anyhow!" And of course we all got the helpless giggles, and it went back and forth for a while, he sat there on his Hoveround for a couple more songs, then he scooted away.

Afterwards it was a quick stop by Mr M's for one last run-through of our duet, a discussion of the "Riches" season-ender with ESP, a hug for the DeepFatFriar who's visiting, and the picking up of the recital programs to bring home and fold. Which I did, then went to bed.

Thursday: The Recital & Hackensaw Boys

Yep, today is the big day. Tonight is Mr M's long-awaited (well, I've been waiting a long time for it) clarinet recital. I'll be a very small part of this, playing a duet with the man. I'm nervous, I'm going to tank it, and then I'll sulk away and never be heard from again. Jude the Corruptor will also be a part of things, playing a tuba/clarinet duet with Mr M.

It's going to be a long concert.

Which worries me, because immediately afterwards I'm hauling ass (and Kellie with an ie's ass, I'm so excited) to R'noke to see the Hackensaw Boys! There's no way we'll get there before it starts, it's at a club I've never been to and am not totally sure where it is, but we'll get there, I have faith.

A side note - my friend Kellie (with an ie) is so me. I sit at home saying, "I should call Kellie and see if she wants to do something, but she has a family and wouldn't be interested." She sits at home saying, "I should call Bet and see if she wants to do something, but she's always got something going on, she wouldn't be interested." And so we don't do things. In fact, she wanted to ask at her Farewell Dinner if she could go see the Boys with me, just as I was sitting there wanting to ask her! Finally, she made the move via email, I was so happy, and we're going to have a big bust-out before she has to leave.

I still have to clean out podmobile2, do a quick shopping run, shower, get dressed, make sure I have my camera, horn, and Sherman, get my Hackensaw clothes ready to go - and I'm sitting here writing this blog. Time management was never my strong suit.

Wish me luck. With the recital and making it to the concert on time.

Friday: Graduation Night

Yep, the Big Night, my Dear Nephew will be walking down the aisle, getting that diploma, and moving his tassel from one side to the other. We hope. The latest in Taytie's "Will I or Won't I Parade" is that if he doesn't return his government book by today he will receive no diploma. He hasn't been to a class in two weeks, and though when you remind him of this task he says calmly, "Oh, yeah, it's on my list," I am certain he has no idea where it is. This is the boy who borrowed my copy of "Farenheit 911" about 3 years ago, and I've not seen it since.

Will I cry? Probably. I'll also be sitting by myself, as parents of graduates get an alloted number of tickets, and that number covers parents and a couple of grandparents. How dare school administrators not consider the importance of the aunt. Anyway, due to my dad's eyesight, my parents are the grandparents who get the tickets, and I'll be left wiping my tears on the shoulder of the stranger sitting beside me. But what a better way to make a new friend. Or enemy.

Then I'll come home and have a special Graduation Friday Chill with a big pitcher of martinis.

Saturday: Collapse

Ahhhhh. I've been looking forward to this collapse. I deserve it.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Speaking of the Hackensaw Boys, tunes from the new album are up on their myspace page. You really should go check it out, because my favorite of the new tunes, "Radio" is one of the songs. Such lovely boys, they are.
* Paris Hilton already released from jail? Oh, that is bogus. Unspecified medical condition my ass. When did being obnoxious become a medical condition?


Sunday, June 03, 2007

(Tonight's Picture Sunday contains way too many pictures. Forgive an old woman, please.)

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to Picture Sunday. My weekend began with a real bang.

Just about. First of all I spent Friday night, not with with a Friday Chill, but with a lovely event. You see, my dear friend Kellie (with an ie) will be leaving us soon, well, leaving those of us who live around here. Our loss is Denver's gain. And Friday night the Community Band threw a little surprise party and dinner for Kellie (with an ie) and her family. It was a great deal of fun, and so of course I forgot my camera. (I also forgot Sherman, for which I'll never be forgiven.) I was going to do another "artist's rendering" version of Picture Sunday for it, but frankly, I just don't have the time to draw right now.

I ended up Friday Chilling when I got home, and went to bed late into the night. Then as I was lying in bed at 4:40 am, what should I hear right outside my bedroom window but a shotgun blast.

I kept telling myself it wasn't, that maybe a transformer blew or something, but I knew in my heart that it was. So I stayed motionless in bed for about 10 minutes, then couldn't take it any longer. I mean, my bedroom window is right at my head.

My first thought was to roll out of bed and go crawling around the house, and I must admit that more than once I thought of, "Serpentine, Shel!" Instead I grabbed the phone and went into the bathroom, the least-windowed room of my home.

"I really feel like an idiot calling you," I began my call to the dispatcher, and went on to explain that I'd heard what I knew was a gunshot outside my house. She seemed quite unconcerned, almost like, "Well, what do you want me to do about it?" and so finally I said that if she could possibly be so kind as to at least have someone drive by the house and look, I'd be grateful.

In no time, there were two policemen (well, one was a girl) walking around my house with spotlights. They went all over, then came to the door, and I explained where it sounded like it came from, they hemmed and hawed and said, "Well, everything looks completely in order," and thought I must be totally insane, but as they were standing there the dispatcher came over their walkie-talkies and said that someone two doors down from me reported hearing the same gun blast. That report said they thought maybe someone was poaching deer in the woods behind our houses.

And so the police went down that way, and then I saw them get in their cars and drive away. That's it. Nothing else.

Needless to say, sleep, which has been at a minimum around here anyway, has now come to a dead and complete halt.

So that's my exciting story for the blog, and now on to other things. I told you last week or so I'd been a little weepy lately. Earlier in the week the "little" left that statement completely, as I was the recipient of this little piece of mail.

Which contained this.

Yes, as of this coming Friday, my fine nephew will be a High School Graduate. There were a couple of times in the past months this was in doubt, not for grades but for Teenage Boy Behavior. But all is well, he will graduate as Beta Club member, Student Government President, Baseball and Cross Country letterman, Model Government Speaker of the House for the state of Virginia, and All-Around Neato Guy.

But here's the question. How did the boy that only a year ago was playing in the floor with his toy cars, in his little cowboy hat, get to this point already? I mean, it was only six months ago he was leaving for his first day of kindergarten! Six weeks ago he was playing Little League football, and I happen to know it was only a couple of weeks ago he started high school. It cannot be graduation time already.

But I guess it is, and I'm 18 years older than I thought I was, and so let's take a little time for some Tatyie appreciation. Welcome to Picture Sunday - The Nephew Edition.

A tender two, he was in this picture.

But he grew, and was cool enough to wear a Squeeze t-shirt when he was just a boy. And what a boy.

Now he's all grown up.

He likes to eat!

He's captain of the band drumline, and ardent school supporter!

He makes a stunning sophisticated man-about-town!

He's made the local papers!

He's a snowboarder extraordinaire!

He's in a rock band!

He's had his own personal tete-a-tete with the governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine! (And don't even ask, Mike - I don't know the girl, and have no idea what her phone number is.)

And let us never forget his, if you'll pardon the pun, crowning moment. The first-ever Ms G-Man.

So here's to my Dear Nephew, sweet, easy-going, tender-hearted, funny. All-Around Neato Guy indeed.

I guess there's only one left, the whole schmeer, the Graduation Night cap and gown picture.


OK, now that that's over with, I guess we still have to get to the recipe du jour. Speaking of "out with the old and in with the new," yesterday I came home from the grocery and found myself doing a little cleaning while putting away the groceries. Mr M was on his way and the house was a mess. But just like those days when cleaning the house becomes three hours spent on going through one drawer, my housecleaning was mainly confined to the refrigerator. Lucky for you all.

From the "Cost-Free!" file at cardland, say hello to it if you dare, Clean-Out Soup.

Clean-Out Soup is a little dish wherein we take everything old and/or expired from the refrigerator, and before throwing it out, we mix bits of it all together to make a big soup. We have two kinds of Italian dressing, both expired over a year ago. A heaping dollop of expired horseradish sauce, some old pickle relish, the juice from a mostly empty jar of pickles, some mostly rancid evaporated milk, and the piece de resistance, some brown mustard over four years past its sell-by date! I'm quite proud of that. It's topped off with some whipped cream from Thanksgiving, and there you go. Clean-Out Soup is a chilled soup, which is only fitting, seeing the chills you'll be suffering about an hour after it's consumed.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And now if you'll pardon a little self-promotion, I couldn't help myself. Remember my Text Twist blog? It's just below. My goal? My goal was 200,000 points.

How about that? I actually got to over 272,000 when "venous" sent me tumbling swiftly back to Earth, right on my ass. It was fun, though.