Monday, August 26, 2013


Some days, like too many of my days lately, you can't help but to feel trapped. You can't help but to feel lost. You can't help but to feel more than a little helpless. Some days are just bad days and there isn't a lot you can do to change that. You just have to grit your teeth and power through.

On days like these, days like today, I have to do my damndest to find a bit of happy to fixate on to make the day pass by with more ease. I have to do something to keep my zen or I am afraid I might yell or break something. That would not be productive.

Today I am going to list a few things that I do to find my zen on bad days. Enjoy.

- Baking. Something about cooking, but baking specifically, that I find very calming. I think it is in part because one of my love languages is feeding people.

- Shopping. I know it is cliche to be a woman who relaxes by shopping, but it is true. It doesn't have to be anything big or flashy, it can be as simple as a new pen and notebook or a new cheap DVD. I actually like it better when I find a little gem that doesn't cost a lot of money but still makes me smile.

- Singing silly songs. I have an entire Pandora station devoted to Disney songs and silly songs that make me smile. Singing along to Disney songs is always a good thing.

- Eating. This is actually a terrible habit I should get out of. I am a stress eater and always have been. Still there is nothing like your favorite ice cream at the end of a long bad day to make things better.

- Watching romantic comedies or other feel good movies. Something that is light and happy and makes you giggle and sigh and believe in love at first sight is always good for the soul. It doesn't have to be realistic, it just has to have a happily ever after.

- Walking barefoot in the grass in the sunshine. I don't really care that it is currently 106 outside and most people find it insufferable, I think it is lovely. To be able to kick off my shoes and let my toes curl up in some soft green grass while the bright sunlight warms me to the bone is happiness. Plus sunshine has vitamin D which can improve your mood.

Today I may need all of these things?

What do you do to find your zen?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Food for thought

"So what is your favorite part about New Orleans?"
The question was posed to us over breakfast Sunday morning by the round faced woman from Beaumont who was staying at the same B&B we were. She and her husband had been sharing their awed wanderings with us for the past 20 minutes as we waited for our plates to come out.

What is my favorite part? I had to think.

Maybe it was the music. I mean I am not a huge audiophile but I love some good jazz. There is music pretty much everywhere you turn in the quarter. We got to sit and listen to probably a dozen different jazz bands over the last two days. Some were alright and some were so good that we were mesmerized from the sidewalk half a block away.

You also can't avoid the fact that music is in no way confined to any space. Whether it was a guy and his guitar in a doorway, a girl and her harmonica and banjo singing the blues on a corner,  the old man with a beautiful dobro sitting on a pickle bucket in the middle of the road, or a brass band suddenly starting up in the middle of the packed French Market, there is music everywhere. It is like the music owns the city. 

The music is amazing, but probably not my favorite part.

Maybe it was the art. You can't take two steps without running into local artists proudly displaying their wares. From Jackson Sqaure to the Frenchmans art market and pretty much every sidewalk between there is art. For an artsy girl like me it is sort of paradise. We had already purchased a number of beautiful water colors and black and white drawings. We had spent an excessive amount of time looking at art.

The art is amazing, but still probably not my favorite part.

As I was trying to think of what it was that I could call my favorite part our Austrian host came out of the back with our breakfasts. He set a spicy crawfish tail omelet in front of the husbeast and a gorgeous plate of french toast in front of me. The two perfectly cooked pieces of toast were arranged neatly on the china plate. They had been lightly sprinkled with powder sugar before being topped with a fresh sauce made of caramelized grapes and strawberries. I took a bite, the warm fruit melting in my mouth with the sweet bready goodness of the toast. It was quite possibly the most perfect french toast I had ever had the privileged of eating.

"The food." I answered finally with a big grin on my face.

I don't know why I even had to think about it. We are food people and New Orleans is a city of amazing food. As you go through the Quarter you will see dozens upon dozens of restaurants waiting to serve. That is just in the Quarter. If you venture out of the Quarter there are so many more delicious destinations to go to.

You aren't going to come across some corporate concept restaurant serving the same generic food you could get anywhere. These are places that look like dive bars and are serving duck quesadillas as appetizers. These are places with passion for food that shows in the menu and shines on the plate.

We started out with roast beef po-boys on Friday night. It doesn't sound like the most exciting thing, or any type of culinary masterpiece, but let me assure that is one damn fine sandwich. The roast beef was perfectly cooked, tender and juicy, but not bloody. There was enough au jus that it would run down your arm if you were not careful but not so much that the bread would disintegrate when you tried to pick it up. Speaking of the bread, it was fresh locally made, and so very good.

We of course had beignets at Cafe du Monde. They were everything I remembered them being. They were the perfect consistency, neither dense nor too airy. They were satisfying to bite into and the beignet itself was not so sweet that the mountain of powder sugar was unwelcome. Washed down with some cold milk and it was like perfection.

Our first morning at the B&B we were not expecting anything special. We figured it would be better than some continental breakfast, but nothing to write home about. How very wrong we were. We really should have known better, this was New Orleans after all.

We started with cups of fresh sliced kiwi, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple. After that we were offered bagels to go along with our coffee and juice. As we enjoyed our bagels we were directed to the egg menu. We had the choice of eight scrumptious sounding dishes. For me I only had three options that didn't have seafood in it, but they were all options I was excited about.

I went with a Mediterranean frittata. I still was not expecting anything glorious, but again I was wrong to make assumptions about what the food would be like. My plate came out and I sat a moment marveling over the little cast iron dish before me. The fried eggs that covered the top of the dish were perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned. Beneath the eggs was this mix of onions and red peppers and mushrooms that blended together harmoniously to create pure happiness in my mouth.

For lunch we went to another restaurant we had been to on our last trip, Deannies. I remembered it as being good even though I couldn't remember what I had eaten. One glance at the menu reminded me that it was an all seafood restaurant. I had eaten a hamburger the last time. I was disappointed to realize that this was going to be a boring meal for me, but I was starving.

The restaurant serves boiled seasoned new potatoes the way Italian restaurants serve bread before the meal. They are surprisingly addictive and satisfying. Still I was starving so I ordered the first appetizer that looked familiar; onion rings. I had seen a heaping plate of these golden fried wonders come out as we were waiting for a table so I was optimistic that they would be good.

I was wrong. The onion rings were fabulous. They were by far the best thing I ate at that restaurant. My chicken sandwich was really good, but these onion rings were amazing. The batter was not too thick and actually stuck to the onions. It was also just a little spicy, much like the potatoes we had been served. I think maybe it was the spice that made them so addictive. We quickly cleared the plate, which is odd because the husbeast doesn't really like onion rings.

Dinner was something we couldn't decide on. We strolled up and down Decatur trying to make a choice. Everywhere that looked good had hour long waits for tables. Everyplace that could seat us didn't look good. I didn't want to eat in a club where I could barely hear myself think. I wanted a quiet relaxing dinner. We were torn and it was getting later and I was getting hungrier.

Suddenly I remembered that our waiter at the French Market the night before had enthusiastically recommended the steaks to us. He had seemed so honest in his recommendation that we figured we might as well give it a try. We both like steak and that restaurant so it sounded like a good idea.

We had to sit at the bar and wait for longer than we wanted due to the restaurant having an unexpected 26 top walk in the door not long before us, and the kitchen having ground to a halt trying to accommodate their orders. The bartender was friendly though, and the people watching was really good from the end of the bar where we were sitting.

Soon enough we were seated. The waiter remembered us and we let him order for us. He recommended the 18oz bone in ribeye, which was interestingly the cheapest cut on the menu. He said all their steaks were cut in house, and he swore that they were beautifully marbled and delicious. We each ordered one, even though I was sure I couldn't come close to eating that much meat.

While we waited on our steaks we ordered the fried green tomatoes. The husbeast had noticed them the night before and thought they looked amazing even though he isn't a fried green tomato fan. We asked for the crawfish sauce on the side so that I could eat them. They were perfect. The patter was more on the cornmeal side than the flaky flour side. The batter had just a little spice to them that gave them that nice little kick that they needed. The tomatoes were not so green that they were hard, and the slices were not so thick that they felt cumbersome. The husbeast almost licked the bowl the crawfish sauce had come in, so I am guessing that was good too.

Finally our meals came out. The plate was one of those large IHoP style platter plates, which for an 18oz steak you would expect. On the plate was a generous helping of fresh green beans that had been cooked with sauteed onions and red peppers, as well as a heaping pile of rosemary new potatoes. The sides covered most of the plate so our steaks were actually perched on top of the sides.

The steak itself was beautiful. It was a nice thick cut with only a thin strip of fat along the side. The grill lines were perfectly seared into the steak. A large dollop of rosemary compound butter topped it off. When we sliced into them they were cooked perfectly. Mine was just on the rare side of medium rare so when I got to the end of my steak it hadn't continued to cook itself up to medium or worse. His was just under medium where he likes it.

The flavor of the steak was phenomenal. It needed just a little salt, but honestly the husbeast and I like salt more than the average person, so that was no surprise. The husbeast, having been a steak cook, is very particular about his steaks. Generally the only time he eats a steak without steak sauce is when he cooks it. In the 13 years we have been together I had only ever seen him not put sauce on a restaurant steak once. This time made two.

The sides were also wonderful. The potatoes were so good, and I don't really like potatoes all that much. The green beans were phenomenal. I was torn between what I wanted to eat since I knew there was no way I would ever finish it all. I had to take turns between each of the three items so that I got to savor all of them equally.

After we had stuffed ourselves to the gills we decided that we still had pie space left. The husbeast took our waiters recommendation on a white chocolate praline bread pudding and I chose the key lime pie. I knew the husbeast wasn't going to be pleased with his desert choice. He is a bread pudding purist. If it is not a certain way, no matter how good it is, he will not like it. In the end he said that once he chipped away the praline the bread pudding was pretty good, he just didn't like to work that hard for his sweets.

My key lime pie on the other hand was fantastic. I am guessing it was fresh made. The crust was just the perfect thickness so you got that sweeter earthier gritty consistency mixed in with the smooth bright citrus of the filling. It was so incredibly tart, but not in an off putting sort of way. It was the perfect way to finish off an amazing dinner.

It is a damn good thing that over the course of two days we walked twenty miles. If it weren't for the fact that we walked everywhere and were pretty much always moving there is no way we could ever eat as we liked while in New Orleans. Not only would we gain a ton of weight we would not be hungry as often and therefor have less opportunities to sample such tasty treats.

Coming home to the same old food we always eat is a little disappointing. Even now, a week later, I am comparing what I eat here to what I had been eating there. It simply doesn't measure up. Still it inspires me to cook for myself instead of eating out at chain restaurants, and to experiment and try new things. 

For now I am going to be happy remembering all the wonderful food that was enjoyed, savoring those memories as long as I can. Hopefully that is enough to tide me over until we can make it back again, and start tasting new memories.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Late night strolls

The husbeast has always said that the heat in New Orleans was a different beast from the heat in Texas. In Dallas we are constantly subjected to temperatures well over 100 degrees. To spend months on end with the high between 105 and 115 is not unusual for us. I have lived in this sort of heat my entire life and like to think of myself as fairly resilient to this sort of intense heat.

He is right though, the heat in New Orleans is a completely different beast. It really isn't the heat, it is the humidity. North Texas is host to an intense dry  heat where as New Orleans has a thick wet heat that hangs in the air at all times.

It was about a 15 minute walk from our B&B down to the jazz clubs on Frenchmans. We had not made it five blocks before I was covered in sweat and was regretting my choice to wear jeans. We had left Texas with 106 temperatures where I was completely comfortable in my jeans. It was not even 90 in New Orleans, I had thought I would be fine. I was wrong.

By the time the sounds of the jazz clubs was filling the air my shirt was clinging to me and my face and arms were glistening. Of course everyone else looked exactly the same as I did. No one really seemed to notice either. Everywhere we went everyone was hot and sweaty and no one cared. So I stopped thinking about it.

I let myself get lost in the jazz that rolled out of the clubs we strolled by, mixing in with the conversations of the people who milled about on the sidewalks up and down the street. It was I had found myself on Frenchmans. The last time we had visited we never made it this far down.

I realized quickly that while there were similarities to Bourbon street, this was a bit of a different beast. Bourbon street seemed to be designed for drunken tourists. It always struck me as being like a wild frat party; drunk people stagger through the street spilling drinks on people, doormen from strip clubs shouting at you, bad cover bands blasting out of overcrowded clubs, women in impractical shoes and very little clothing laughing too loud at guys who look like they have been to a tanning bed. It was not really someplace I felt even remotely comfortable, and probably wouldn't have felt comfortable in even when I was a college student.

Frenchmans still had people with drinks in hand crowding along the sidewalks and still had a party feel to it. The difference was that it felt less like a frat party full of debauchery and more like the sort of party I would have actually attended in college. There were still plenty of tourists in the crowd but I couldn't help but to think that this was the Bourbon street for the locals.

The look was notably different; tight dresses were replaced by loose long flowing skirts, perfect hair was replaced by dreadlocks, fake tans were replaced by tattoos and piercings. There were an increasing number of people with dogs on leashes enjoying a beer with friends. Strip clubs were replaced by tattoo parlors and bad cover bands were replaced by jazz and blues that tugged at your soul.

We couldn't walk five feet without running into an artist of some sort. Artists sat in camp chairs with their canvases spread out on the sidewalk and propped against buildings. We passed several young men in suspenders and fedoras sitting behind old fashioned typewriters baring signs that read "A poem for any subject.".

As we made our way through the crowds and past one jazz club after another my eye was caught by an oddly bright patch in an alley across the way. I could see that strings of lights were criss crossing the alley lighting it up. An old McDonalds drive through sign had been bolted to the sidewalk at the entrance. As we approached I was able to see past the crowds; we had found our way to the Frenchmans art market.

Tables lined either side of the alley with artists displaying their goods. There was everything from jewelry, to paintings, to clothes, to all manner of weird handmade stuff. Little seating areas of mismatched patio furniture was arranged toward the back of the market so that people could just sit and talk. There were baskets of sidewalks chalk strewn about and the patrons of the market were making their own art on the ground.

I was totally enchanted. It was possibly the coolest place I had been in a very long time. I could have easily stayed there for hours and probably spent way more money than I should have. It was all just so cool.

As it was though my stomach was reminding me that it was past 10pm and we had not eaten since we got to the airport in Texas at 5. It was time to find something to eat for dinner. Good thing we were in the French Quarter where there have to be several hundred restaurants, most of which are open very late.

We decided that we wanted something small and something we knew we liked so we made our way down Decatur to the French Market restaurant. We had stumbled on this gem at the corner of Decatur and St Philip the last time we were there. The husbeast was intrigued by the open window at the front that looked into the crab boil, I had been attracted by the marquis which touted a roast beef po-boy. It was the memory of that delicious po-boy that took us back there.

I was pleased to find that my memory was not deceiving me. The po-boy was just as delicious as I remember it being if not tastier. It is always nice when things you have enjoyed live up to the memories we keep of them.

Our waiter tried to entice us with desert, but we had to say no. The husbeast had a plan and desert would have derailed us completely. Desert would stand between us and the husbeasts very fond desire to have beneigts at midnight at Cafe du Monde.

We found a seat outside against the rail furthest from the street. There was a cool breeze coming over the wall from the Mississippi. It was the first bit of relief from the thick hot summer air we had found since setting out from the B&B. Even the fans and air conditioning in the restaurant at dinner had not really helped any. This breeze though was designed to push the humidity away and leave you feeling cool for a moment.

As we waited for our powder sugar coated treats he told me that this had been his grandmothers favorite table. He said that she always said it was the only place you could actually catch the breeze. If you sat closer in you would bee too warm from all the people packed around you. If you sat closer to the building or further away from the building the walls were too high or too low and the breeze was ineffective.

Our waiter sat our plates in front of us as another cool gust of air washed over me making me shiver slightly. His grandmother was one smart woman.

Before we ate he made a phone call to a friend in Dallas who was from New Orleans. He called and tauntingly told him where we were sitting. I could hear grumbling on the other end of the phone. It is only fair as this friend called the husbeast at 3am from Cafe du Monde the last time he was there. Just some friendly Cajun teasing.

With our bellies full and smiles on our lips we started our trek back to the B&B. The hour was late and a satisfying sense of exhaustion was beginning to settle in on us. As we walked hand in hand through the quarter I felt more relaxed than I had felt in a very long time. I knew that I would sleep so well that night, and I would wake up to adventure.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Escape from everyday life

A drop of sweat rolls slowly down my spine but I almost don't feel it. I am sitting perfectly still and have been for ten minutes and yet I am still sweating more than I am comfortable with. There is a pleasant breeze blowing in off the Mississippi which is behind me just past Jackson square, but the cool air off the water is only a temporary relief to the humid heat that makes everyone glisten with sweat at all times.

The bells of Saint Louis Cathedral are tolling overhead as parishioners slowly file out the front doors. They stop to say a word or two to the members of the clergy standing in their bright green robes just in front of the heavy iron gates. Tourists are milling about snapping pictures of everything. Pigeons are everywhere waiting for any bits of food that they can scavenge up.  

As the tones of the bells start to just fade from the air their heavy clear tone is replaced by the sound of a trumpet. I have been watching as one by one men with large sousaphones, trombones, and drums have been ambling into the square. They have casually chatted and greeted each other and a number of people milling about with smiles and hugs. They seem an unlikely group. As the trumpet starts to play though they all fall in line and before I really know what is happening there is a brass band playing in front of me.

How very New Orleans.

48 hours earlier...

Work, and life, has been very stressful lately. This has been true for both myself and the husbeast. To say we are worn thin is an understatement. My edges have begun to fray and it is clear for all to see. I've known for a while that we need to get away from everything but it just didn't seem that easy.

We are always full up with commitments . There is always someplace we need to be or something we need to be doing. For example this weekend we need to be grouting the shower and putting the fixtures in so the great bathroom project of doom is finally done. We have several pending social requests that we should see to as well. Things that need to be done.

I am also a planner. I never just up and go anywhere. There is always at least a few weeks of planning to take a trip. There are so many details to arrange from clearing our schedules, to adjusting finances, to lining up someone to watch the animals, it all just takes a little time. Time of which I never seemed to have.

My new coworker who is attempting to train me for a new position came by my desk just as I finished paying my bills. She dropped off a list of mostly confusing instructions to do some tasks that I was not particularly thrilled about doing.

I decided to postpone starting the project by making a shopping and to do list for the weekend. The first thing I put on the list was grout. The bathroom project of doom is so close to being done, but I have reached the point where the thought of doing anymore work on it makes me a little sick. The word grout means 'almost done', but all I see in my mind is more hot laborious tedious work.

The corner of my right eye begins to twitch. It has been doing this a lot lately. Just a tiny little tick. It could mean that I am not getting enough potassium in my diet, but it always seems to pop up when the stress is building too much. Like I said, a lot of eye twitching lately.

I texted the husbeast:

Me: Run away with me?
Husbeast: Where we going? We can make it anywhere as long as I have you to hold me.
Me: Pick a city. Seattle, Chicago, New York, DC, Philadelphia, New Orleans, anywhere. The beach, the mountains, anywhere that doesn't require a passport.
Husbeast: Somewhere old. Going forever or for now?
Me: For now.

He didn't respond for a few minutes so I figured he had to go back to a sale. He would be too busy to answer anymore of my probing questions about escaping our lives for a few days. I would have to day dream alone.  I felt a little like Walter Mitty.

My coworker came by again interrupting pleasant delusions of being far from where I was to give me some new contradicting instructions about the project I was dutifully ignoring. I could feel the frustration in me growing. My eye twitched again until I had to press my index finger to the corner to try and make it stop.

I opened up a new browser and pulled up Southwest airlines and began to look at flights while looking at hotels in a separate window. Someplace old he said. Two days was all we had. I didn't want to spend most of our time in an airport and on airplanes so my search window began narrowing. The east coast was completely out, and being practical so was the west coast. There was a lot of country left to look at, but in my heart I knew the answer.

I left work early. I grabbed some Sonic and drove to his office and sat in the parking lot waiting for him to come out and retrieve his lunch. I sipped on my milkshake, a giddy laugh poised on my lips. I suddenly felt so incredibly light an free.

When his face popped out the side door to his building I went practically skipping across the parking lot. He smiled at me looking more than a little confused as I handed over a paper sack full of fried food and a cherry limeade big enough to drown in.

"Here's your lunch, our flight leaves at 7:20 tonight." was all I said before I planted a kiss on his cheek and started to leave.

"Our what?!" was his incredibly eloquent response.
"Our flight." I repeated.
"What flight? Where are we going? Are we going to be flapping our arms or something?" He was just staring at me in shock. One of his coworkers that was sitting nearby smoking began to giggle at the exchange.
I pointed at his shirt which proudly displayed a Fleur de Lys behind the words New Orleans Saints.
"We are going to New Orleans? You've gone crazy finally haven't you?"
I smiled and nodded. I think maybe I had but I didn't care because I felt so happy at the thought of escaping nothing else mattered.

I sent him texts all afternoon as I packed and puttered around the house. His general responses were to ask me if I was alright and if I was insane. I was a little put out that he didn't seem as excited as I was, but I just figured he was in shock still and once we got there he would be much better.

We sat in the airport later that evening waiting on our twice delayed flight and he still didn't seem to believe it. He was switching between telling me I was crazy and saying he was excited we were going. Mostly he was just dreading the takeoff for the flight. He hates take offs and landings. I was still giggling to myself.

Our Haitian cabby was very talkative, chatting on about the Saints (who were playing as we drove past the Superdome) as we drove from the airport to the little B&B I had found on the edges of the French Quarter. The husbeast looked at the address dubiously. He asked what end of Espalanda this place was located, because at one end I would be very uncomfortable with the neighborhood. I shrugged not really knowing. I hadn't really looked beyond the Expedia rating and the words "French Quarter" in the location.

As we stood on the porch of a beautiful post civil war era house, flags waving between the columns that held the balcony up,  all thoughts about what kind of neighborhood it was seemed to slip from our minds. This place was beautiful.

An unassuming Austrian gentlemen answered the door and welcomed us in. Akko, his dog, was there to welcome us as well with happy tail wagging and hand lickings. It was almost 10 o'clock so the house was dark and quiet.

I had reserved the room with the only king bed in it. Up the stairs and down the hall he pulled out a ring of keys and let us into our rooms, flipping on the chandelier overhead. Our room was actually a suite. There was a sitting room with a fireplace and a crystal chandelier attached to the bedroom which also had a fireplace and a huge antique bed. Our bathroom had a claw-foot tub that was large enough that even the husbeast could comfortably settle into it.

Then our host walked to the front of the sitting room and gave a set of double doors a gentle pull. Our suite was at the front of the house which meant the front balcony was ours. The humid New Orleans
night air surrounded us as we stepped out onto our balcony to take in the view.

I looked up at the husbeast and couldn't help but to smile at his face. All the shock seemed to be washing away as he stood there looking out from our balcony at what was unmistakably a New Orleans view. It was a look of excitement, a look of relief, and a look that one can only have when coming home after too long away.

Our adventure was just beginning.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brain Candy

The green glowing numbers on the clock are glaring accusingly at me. The time has just pushed its way to 11:30 at night. I crawled into the bed just before 10:00, a yawn lazily rolling from my lips. I had intended to go to sleep early and try and be rested for work for once.

Only I am still very much wide awake, all my yawns still not reminding me I am tired and have responsibilities waiting for me on the other side of the night. I am awake and I know if I do not force myself to try and sleep I will be awake all night. I will be awake right until the clock does not just glare at me accusingly, but will shriek its disapproval at me in the form of the morning alarm.

Insomnia. At least that is what one would think of a lifetime insomniac like me. They would be wrong, oh so very wrong. For once it isn't my inherent inability to sleep keeping me awake. This time it is all my own doing. This time it is a book.

If you had told me when I was young that I would have to force myself to stop reading for my own good I would have laughed at you. I think most kids, other than kids like my husbeast was or the kid is, would scoff at the idea of being told to stop reading. Alright so most of my friends were probably the kids reading by a flashlight under their sheets. I am sure though there are plenty of kids that would still be scoffing.

I do not often get to read. I let the world sort of take me over and do not seem to find the time to read. For me reading is an all consuming thing. I can't really stand to not know how something will end. This will lead me to power through books as quickly as I can so I can know the end.

I admit that I would be just as happy with a book knowing how it will end before I finish the book. I mean I can watch movies where I know the final outcome beforehand and still enjoy the film thoroughly. I can do the same with a book, and at least then I don't feel the need to sacrifice sleep and food in order to know.

For me there are two types of books I read. There are heavy books that are engaging and I have to think about hard while I read them. These tend to be books with weighty material, or complex world systems and views. They are books that make me think and learn while I am reading which slows down the reading process. When you have to absorb and sort through vast amounts of new information with your story it tends to make things go a little slower.

The second type of book are the type of books that the kid calls candy. They are books that are just fun and easy to read and you sort of consume all too fast like some greedy pudgy faced kid the day after Halloween with a pillowcase full of chocolate. They are books that you open and seem to be closing finished in no time at all.

These candy books can still be engaging or even have stories with weight like the first type of books, but they are not as difficult to wade through. They are not books that feel like you are working to read them. They are completely absorbing and you just flow through them with ease.

I tend to like to read my candy books more than my weighty books. I enjoy both equally, but it is so much harder for me to plod through a weighty book quickly that we go back to that thing where I am frustrated wanting to know the end but not having nearly the time I need in order to finish the book. Candy books I can work through easily in a few days which is so much more satisfying, not to mention better for my sleep cycles.

I am halfway through my second piece of candy fiction in a week. I almost feel bad about the fact that I have a half read weighty book in my purse that I have been slowly chipping away at for almost two months now. I think when I finish off the candy tonight I will go back to devoting some time to my weighty book.

For now though I am going to be the pudgy kid in the corner indulging my sweet tooth.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The right way

When the husbeast and I first started dating, and then cohabitating, I knew that there would be a large learning curve. Any time you live with another person you have to learn each others habits and quirks in order to harmoniously coexist. We would have to get used to how we each did certain things and either adapt or learn to live with it.

Thankfully we are both fairly adaptive individuals. I admit that it took some time to get used to having stacks of books in the bathroom. I had always thought that was a cliche that was not really true. He proved me wrong. I had to quickly concede that he could have books in there, but I did place a limit on how many. He goes over four books and I remove all but one. Compromise achieved.

Sometimes though there is no compromise. Sometimes you have to learn to just step aside and allow things to go one way or another. Sometimes one of you has to win. Some things are too ingrained to change and far too stupid to fight over.

The husbeast does not clean the kitchen. While I admit he is often disinclined to even take his dishes to the sink, the reasoning behind his lack of kitchen cleaning is because I would really rather he not. That is right, I have forbidden him from doing the dishes. The only time I ask him to clean in there is if I am really feeling sick.

We simply have different cleaning styles. He has his way and I have the right way. That is a terrible thing to say, but it is how I feel about it. He puts pots and pans and steak knives and wooden cutting boards in the dishwasher. His dishwasher loading has no rhyme or reason and is anything but efficient. He leaves dishes to soak in water for days on end. He leaves the sponge wet in the sink buried under things.

It makes me crazy just thinking about it. I was raised that the only thing that went in the dishwasher were place settings, plain silverware, and tupperware. Pots, pans, knives, larger cooking utensils, and anything with wood on it were to be hand washed. What did go in the dishwasher had precise placement. Bowls and plates on the bottom rack and cups on the top. Occasionally bowls would go on the top too, but always in a neat and orderly fashion.

We never really soaked things in water. That is something that I have never fully understood. It drives me crazy to just leave the water standing though. It gets cold and smelly so fast. I just would prefer not go there. As for the sponge; wring it out and put it on the side of the sink. Always.

So knowing that it drives me crazy and makes me want to rewash the dishes we quickly just decided that he would just not try and clean anything. I was happy with that. I would rather do it right than do it twice. I think he was just happy to not have to do it.

The other thing that is a fairly universal thing is that I do the grocery shopping. He isn't terrible at it or anything, even though he can never manage to come back with everything on the list. He can normally get mostly what I asked for, though I learned I had to give him some incredibly detailed lists if my requests were anything other than very basic.

Mostly it comes down to the fact that he hates grocery shopping. Even if he comes with me he mostly just follows along behind me only putting in input when I ask, or he sees something he really really wants. He is mostly there to keep me company.

He doesn't even get to unload the cart. More precisely he refuses to unload the cart onto the conveyor belt because he thinks I am completely insane and does not want to get in my way. I am not sure I would agree with the insane part on this subject, but he is right not to get in my way.

I was taught to unload the groceries in a very specific order. You always unload chemicals first. All the toiletries and large heavy non food items go in the front. Then all the frozen food, then dairy, then meat, the canned goods, boxed foods, produce, bread and eggs. That is the proper order to place your things on the conveyor belt.

Why does it matter you may ask me. Why? Well because you have to assume that the 16 year old kid bagging your groceries is not too bright and doesn't really care enough to be careful. I am not having a bottle of drano put in with my ground beef. I am not having my plums thrown in with a box of frozen broccoli. I am not having a package of protein shakes thrown in with my foil topped yogurt.  All that leads too is contaminated meat, rotting fruit, and punctured yogurt lids.

If you put your things on the belt in the right order there is a much higher chance that even the least skilled baggers will manage to put your order into bags in a sensible and safe order. He likes to mock me a little for it, but it is the truth. It is not a perfect plan, but it works most of the time. Sundays excursion to the store that saw me with ruined yogurt proved that even the best systems are flawed.

I know they seem like little things, but it is understandings like these that lead to a happy marriage. They lead to a quiet and mostly peaceful household where we avoid angry ranting over silly things. Really that is the best way to do it, because honestly the silly things are not important enough to be angry over.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Escape plan

I need a vacation. I need away from the job and from the house remodel and just everything in general. I just need to be away, even if it is just for a few days. Sometimes we all need a little escape, and I am definitely in need.

My idea of a vacation doesn't normally line up with other peoples ideas of vacation. The things I find fun and relaxing tend to differ from normal people. I don't day dream of the same sorts of escapes as most of my friends do, and I really never have.

I am never going to plan a trip to Disney, or Six Flags, or anything involving a theme park. Maybe someday when I have children that will change, but as long as it is just me and the husbeast we will not be going to such destinations. I find theme parks in general to be pointless.

For one thing I can't ride any of the rides. Between my vertigo and bad back rides are just not an option. Have you ever been to a theme park and not been able to go on a single ride? It gets really dull really quickly. There isn't enough to occupy me to constitute an entire vacation centered around it.

I don't camp so that eliminates a lot of vacation ideas. Seriously if there is not a climate controlled bug free place for me to sleep and a private indoor bathroom involved, I am right out. I don't mind hiking and being out in nature, I just have no interest in staying out in nature 24 hours a day. My idea of roughing it is a questionable Motel 6.

I also really have very little interest in going to the beach. I don't like going into natural bodies of water, especially if I can't see in it. I can handle standing on the beach at the point where the water laps up over my feet, but that is about the extent of my interest in the ocean. I won't go on a boat because of my motion sickness so that cuts out a lot of activities there. Also the overwhelming presence of seafood makes dining less of an adventure and more of a chore.

I could however totally get behind the idea of renting a cabin in the woods or a beach house on a private beach somewhere. The idea of being alone someplace quiet for a few days is nice. It is really nice. It is actually the nicest thing in the world.

I really like the idea of just being alone with a big stack of books and nothing pressing to do. Being able to take nice quiet walks with the husbeast and just be alone together would be lovely. Cooking simple food and having a little peace and quiet would just be sublime. Just a few days of nothing and no one.

I know lots of people who wouldn't consider that a vacation. They would say that going someplace and doing nothing isn't much of an adventure or a good time. They would argue that you have to do things for it to be a vacation.

While I agree that sometimes that is what a vacation needs, action, adventure, and touristee stuff, that is not all a vacation is. I would say that they have never been so tired and done that they just need nothing for a bit. I would say they are lucky.

Monday, August 5, 2013


I've just been hiding under my own little black rain cloud here lately, and unlike Winnie the Pooh, it is not in some clever plot to get honey. There is definitely a lack of honey trees in my life. Those aren't honey bees, in fact I am fairly sure it is a swarm of yellow jackets. (No seriously there are yellow jackets inside my house.)

So today you get a list of things I don't understand or just don't like. Most of these things are things that are pushed into my face every day on TV or through social media memes. I have just reached a point where I can't keep looking at this stuff without saying something.

You have been warned.

- I don't get Shark Week. I can't see what is so fascinating about sharks to justify an entire large chunk of time devoted to them every single year. I mean how many years has this been going on now? Is the sensationalism of Shark Week what actually makes it work? I mean maybe people hear all this talk about Shark Week, and they are confused so they tune in, thus bringing up the ratings and continuing the trend. This is the only thing I can think of as a logical explanation.

- I don't think Ryan Gosling is overly attractive. I mean he is sort of easy on the eyes from the neck down, but his face is not appealing to me. His eyes are set too closely together. It is the same problem I have with Sean Penn. You know who has close set eyes? Serial killers. I just can't look at Ryan and think 'Ohh sexy'. I look at him and I think 'I wonder if he tortured small animals as a child'. 

- I don't think pugs are cute. I am sure they are sweet enough and are good dogs, but that doesn't mean they are cute. I also don't really think anything can be so ugly that it is cute, so that logic doesn't work for me. While we are talking about dogs, I don't think chihuahuas are cute either. They look like big rats to me. Also in my experience they have bad attitudes. Don't even get me started on chiweenies. You bred a mean over-sized rat with the evil demon breed of dachshund? Who thought that was a good idea? 

- I don't understand stupid humor. I get slap stick to a point, but modern stupid humor just is lost on me. Most things classified as humorous I actually find painful. I have tried, I really have, but most of the time I just walk away feeling like I have lost a chunk of time from my life I can never get back and would have been better spent folding socks.

- I don't like In n' Out burger. Probably because I will only eat a burger with cheese and ketchup, thus missing out on whatever it is that is so magical and special about these burgers that people wait in line for hours for. As far as just a plain old simple burger, they aren't that special. Give me a Whatabruger any day of the week.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tall tall trees

I went to college in a small town in the piney woods of east Texas. It was far enough away from home that my family couldn't randomly drop in on me, and I could not go running home every time I got scared. It was small enough of a town and school that I didn't feel overwhelmed by it, yet it was big enough to feel like a real school and a real adventure. It was also so very beautiful.

I think it was the trees that sold me. The campus was nice enough though nothing really remarkable. The architecture for the most part was fairly generic and uninteresting. The older buildings were not cool old buildings, just old buildings. The newer buildings for the most part were more utilitarian in style than anything else. I am fairly certain the theater and music buildings were the only ones that came close to being interesting to look at. So that just left the trees.

You really couldn't go anywhere on campus, or in town, without being surrounded by towering pine trees. They stretched high above us looking as though they were trying to touch the sky. The smell of pine was ever present, but not that overwhelming sappy scent that is used in pine cleaners and car air fresheners. It was something more subtle and earthy and pure.

I spent a lot of time in east Texas as a child. My grandmother was originally from a tiny speck of a town in that area and most of her brothers and sisters had not wandered to far from the family farm. We would take a road trip to see relatives at least once a year. It was then, as a small child staring up at the magnificent giants, that I fell in love with pines.

In a way this made my choice in schools almost comforting. Walking out between the tall thin trunks, dried pine needles beneath my feet, I somehow felt a connection to my younger self. I felt a sort of peace there amongst the trees that had been the painted backdrop of my youth.There is a lot to say for familiarity.

In the early days at school, back when I still got painfully homesick, I would often just leave my dorm and roam through the trees on campus. It wasn't home that is for sure. There was little about that little town that reminded me of Austin. I missed everything about my home in those days. I longed to be back where I felt comfortable and secure. I would watch televised games at UT and almost cry when they would pan across the downtown skyline or focus on the capital building.

I would feel so alone and out of place and would eventually just find myself outside walking through the trees. I would walk there and look up at the tall tall trees and would remember being a little girl looking up at trees very like the ones in front of me. They weren't quite the mighty giants they had seemed to a small child, but still they were great warriors standing tall before me.

It was there amongst the trees that I found comfort.

There aren't a lot of pine trees in Dallas. There are some, but not nearly as many grand examples as I could find in that sleepy college town. Still, when I am walking along and I pass by one of my warriors, I can not help but to smile. I can not help but to feel the sense of peace from my childhood, and the sense of home they gave me when I needed it so.