Wednesday, December 31, 2008


image credit:

"Try It" was the motto I chose at the beginning of this year after finding that diamond earring in a trashcan full of glass.

And, hoo boy, try it I did.

Some of that trying turned out okay. Some of it didn't. Or maybe it did and I just don't know it yet. And that's life, right?

Tomorrow I'll announce my motto for 2009 (because I know the world waits in breathless anticipation). Until then, April wins the mystery bar from a few posts back. I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year.

Sing us out, please, Mr. Cohen.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

being joe

So, all those bodily fluids on a plane turned out to be worth it. I got to spend Christmas week with a bunch of the people I love most in this world, and then I got to drive back home to Arizona with a couple of those people, laden with gifts and listening to some great old Mojave Desert music like Willie and the Junkies. The snow was waist-high when we finally made it up the mountain, and I'm wondering if I'll ever find my driveway again.

Slept like a petrified tree last night, and when I woke up this morning there was an email in my box from an old college friend. No doubt you've seen it already, but it seems to me at the end of this...unique....year that the message bears repeating. So, here it is - in abridged form:

Basically, there's this young woman who b*tches to her mother about how life is so hard, how she's tired of fighting and struggling, and how it seems like just as one problem gets solved, a new one pops up.
After no doubt rolling her eyes and offering daughter a Midol, Mom takes her daughter to the kitchen for a little Shut-Up-and-Deal-with-It Demo. She brings three pots of water to a boil and puts carrots in the first one, eggs in the second and ground coffee beans in the third.
After about 20 minutes Mom turns off the burners, fishes out the carrots and eggs and places them into a bowl. Then she ladles some coffee into a bowl. "Tell me what you see," she says to her daughter (who, if she is anything like me, also rolls her eyes at this point and tries to remember if she cleaned out the lint basket before starting that last dryer-load of laundry).
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," the daughter replies.
Mom asks her to feel the carrots which are, of course, soft. Then Mom tells her to break the egg which is, of course, hard-boiled. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. And here's one of the best parts of the original email: "The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma." (Can you really taste an aroma?) It's followed by another great line: "The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, Mother?"
Anyway, Mom explains that each object faced the same adversity - boiling water - and that each reacted differently. The carrots went in strong, hard, and unrelenting but came out soft and weak. The eggs went in fragile but came out with their insides hardened. The ground coffee, however, actually changed the water itself, bringing us to the Moral of the Story (which is about as subtle as a case of Montezuma's Revenge, but I still like it):
Which are you? When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that becomes soft and loses its strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart but becomes hardened after a death, a break-up or financial hardship? Or are you the coffee bean which changes the very circumstance that brings pain, releasing fragrance and flavor? If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
I like to think the daughter humored her mother, got the drift and stopped whining. If she's anything like me, though, it will probably take a few more demos.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

if only in my dreams

It all started with a broken x-ray machine at the Flagstaff airport.

"We have to hand-check everyone's bag," one of the security ladies with her official security badge called out over the large (for Flagstaff) crowd of holiday travelers.

No biggee, I thought. We're here in plenty of time. Turned out we could watch our bags be unpacked and rifled through, but we could not, under any circumstances, touch. With my carry-on open before her, its guts already spilling out onto the metal table, another security lady produced a razor blade. "I have to open your Christmas presents, too," she told me.


Fortunately, they had scotch tape on hand at the airport, and once it was decided that the kids and I were not, in fact, going to hijack the plane using several pairs of underwear, some glycerin soap, a pair of Isotoner gloves and a curling iron, I was allowed to re-wrap the gifts and re-pack the luggage. Time to sit and wait for our plane to arrive.

Around the same time I noticed another mother traveling with her two small children (younger than mine) I also noticed said woman hurrying to a nearby trashcan with her son. "In there," she said, and the boy flung himself toward the can, just in time to clear his stomach of all its contents. The splat! made other waiting passengers look up from their reading and their re-wrapping at the metal tables, and I knew we were all thinking the same thing: Lord, don't let my seat be next to theirs.

Of course, you know what's coming next. Yup, the other mom and her kids were our last-row-of-the-plane neighbors. I don't know how many of you have ever flown out of Flagstaff, but the perennially soused Ron White once did a great and very accurate bit about the experience.

I had already given the barfing kid's mom my travel pack of Kleenex back at the gate, so once my own children were in their seats I set about trying to find a bunch of airsick bags for her boy. "I already raided all the seats around us," she told me, though, waving the bags in her hand like a Spanish fan. "We're heading to Mexico today. To La Paz via Guadalajara, so I want to be sure I have a good supply on hand."

We were delayed for almost an hour, and though it had been zero - yes, you read that right: ZERO degrees outside when we'd left our house earlier that morning - the cabin of the little puddle jumper was sweltering. The barfing kid held it together, though, and by the time we got off the ground, everything seemed to be going smoothly - despite the fact that the 8-passenger pack of gum in which we were all flying looked to have been constructed around the turn of the century (the one starting with 1900).

Eventually, the barfing boy's sister needed to use the postage stamp-sized lavatory, which was fine, since it was located about two feet from where we were all sitting. When the girl emerged, the mother decided to go next. She was in there not two minutes before the boy, clearly agitated that his mother had dared to leave his side, got up and started pounding on the lavatory door. "She'll just be another minute, Sweetie," another nearby passenger told him. At that moment, the door opened, and the boy's mother was no doubt about to say something like, "Hey, I'm right here," or "Stop pounding on the door, Buddy," but she was cut short by an explosive and voluminous stream of vomit that was so powerful it actually hit her and then arced around both sides of her body, covering the inside of the lavatory from ceiling to floor.

I did mention there was only the one toilet on the plane, right?

Sitting back there in the rear of the cabin, I had a great view of other passengers' heads as they swivelled around to see what had made that splat! sound. "Uh, Miss?" I called to the stewardess.

Turned out there was nothing much that could be done short of keeping the lav off limits until we landed at Sky Harbor where a cleaning crew would take care of the mess. That would have been all well and good if nobody had consumed any beverages (several cups of coffee, anyone?) before our hour-long delay on the Flagstaff runway. And though the flight to Phoenix takes less than an hour, those remaining 20 minutes quickly started to pass at half the speed of dog years.

Almost immediately, as if in some Pavlovian response to Murphy's law, there was a chorus of little kids' voices from different areas of the plane calling out, "I have to PEE!" And then there was an almost liturgical, in-union parental response: "You have to WAIT."

One kid was particularly persistent, though. He was seated a few rows ahead of me, and I could hear him calling out, "Mom! Mom!" to his mother, who was seated a few rows ahead of him. (Did I mention that the stewardess had to move passengers around before we took off in an effort to re-distribute the weight because the plane was a little "front heavy?" You really need to fly out of Flagstaff sometime if you haven't. It should be on everyone's bucket list). Anyway, this boy's father was sitting on the other side of the aisle, also a few rows ahead. Dad had already turned around a few times, clearly embarrassed at the scene his son was making, to say, "You have to WAIT, Buddy." The boy wasn't having any of it, though. He was all but flailing around in his seat in an apparent attempt to redistribute the pressure on his bladder. I half expected the skin of his face to be yellow when he turned to look longingly toward where the toilet was located.

Poor guy, I thought. Apparently, his dad also thought so because the next thing I knew someone was saying, Psst! When I looked up, I saw the boy's father trying to get his son's attention with an empty plastic water bottle. The boy looked up, too, and when he saw what his father was waving in the air - like a carrot on a stick - his shook his head violently. No way, Man.

"You'll feel a lot better, Buddy," Dad said as quietly as possible (but not quietly enough - Mom turned around, saw what was going on and rolled her eyes, like "They are SO not related to me.") Eventually, after making it clear that he would never in a million years answer nature's call trucker-style, the kid caved and got up from his seat. The next thing I saw was a makeshift tent being held up by the dad and horrified expressions on the faces of my fellow passengers. "He's not..." some of them mouthed. "...IS he?"

"He is," I answered, smiling. All I could think was that the scenario gave a whole new meaning to the movie title "Snakes on a Plane."

"This," I said, turning toward the barfing boy's mother (who was clearly relieved to have found a kindred spirit of sorts in the peeing boy's father), "is going to make an awesome blog post."

Friday, December 19, 2008

friday mystery soap giveaway!

Okay, Folks. This week I'm doing a mystery soap giveaway, which means you never know what kind of bar you might get!

To win a bar of the every-popular, glycerin rich Garland Prairie Soaps (great for face, hands and body, not to mention long-lasting, lovely smelling, pretty to look at, etc., etc.), simply leave a comment telling my what your dream soap would smell like.

I know, I know. I asked for this same thing a while back, but I'm hoping to get more ideas. So, comment away. I'm talking to you, too, blog lurkers.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

crazy cat lady in the making

You know this is funny. Shut up. You KNOW it is.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

a quiet, loyal friend in the shape of a book

I have just finished Isla Dewar's Dancing in a Distant Place, which was given to me by my mother and which has taken me months to finish (which is no fault of the book's - I have simply become a snail's pace reader in recent years). I think it stems from having to read in fits and spurts, fitting that most lovely of pastimes in between all the mommying, dog-owning, employment, soap-making duties which are my (mostly happy) lot in life as the thirty-something gal I am.

It was one of those books I hated to finish, and I put off reading the final two chapters as long as I could. Seriously, turning that last page was like seeing a quiet, loyal friend off on her move overseas. Mildly heartbreaking, in other words, but it's good to know Ms. Dewar has other novels floating about out there. Plus, I just like the look of this Scottswoman:

photo courtesy of

She's definitely someone with whom I'd love to sit in a Glasgow pub over a pint or two (I'm not a beer or ale drinker, but would gladly make an exception) and discuss womanhood, motherhood, writing and life. Rare for a book to move me so. Rare, but delightful. I highly recommend this one (and you can read the first pages here).

In other news, Ken wins the bar of Berry Cobbler. I think I have your address, Mr. M, but I will let you know if this is not so.

In other, other news, head on over to Maiden's blog to see a picture of Santa stealing a satellite dish (not really, but that's what it looks like to me - verifiable proof that our economy is, indeed, in the crapper - in case there were doubts).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

clearly, there will be no swinging today

No school, either - which makes the kids understandably ecstatic. No Winter Program either, though, which makes us all understandably bummed out, considering how hard all the students have worked on their Christmas songs and skits. I'm thinking Christmas Break starts today rather than Friday, since this storm series is supposed to last right through the week.
So, we're contentedly housebound today, the kids sipping hot cocoa and me nibbling on the Scharffen Berger dark chocolate my mom brought when she visited over Thanksgiving. It was good to see the county snow plow show up to clear our quiet road:
And my daughter, ever the optimist, crafted what I think is one of the best To Do lists I've ever seen:
Here's a translation:
Without a doubt, the girl has her priorities straight.

Friday, December 12, 2008

friday soap giveaway!

It's Berry Cobbler this week, Folks. Because there's nothing quite like the scent of something warm and freshly-baked to heat up a cold December day!

The bar up for grabs today is infused with the nummy scents of spiced blackberry and vanilla, for a truly calorie-free, saliva-inducing bathing experience. As always, the soap is premium quality, rich in glycerin and wonderful for face, hands and body. To win, simply leave a comment, telling me your idea of the perfect soap fragrance (yes, it can be a fragrance blend).

Anyone who will be in the Flagstaff area tomorrow (Sat. 12/13) should be sure to head on over to the White Dove Cafe' (on the corner of 4th and 7th in East Flag) where Garland Prairie Soaps will be displayed in abundance. It's a 4-H benefit show, the last (and I mean it this time) craft show of the season.

Have a great weekend, Everybody!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

for those about to rock

...please go easy on those of us who will sit home sighing while you watch Angus, Brian and the gang strutting their stuff tonight.

My brother saw AC/DC a couple of weeks ago in the Bay Area (for the umpteenth time - he's been a major fan since the early 80's), and tonight I have friends going down to Phoenix to see them while I, alas, stay home and work. (You can hear that sound, right? It's the world's tiniest violin playing a sorrowful tune just for me.)

I guess I can get a bit of a fix by watching this. The humor will no doubt be lost on some of you, but we headbangers get why this is so funny.

Monday, December 08, 2008

of milestones and gifts and rivers

The second blogiversary of A Writer and a Rider was last Thursday. Of course, being the scatterbrained little wallflower that I am, I completely spaced it out. So, Happy Second Birthday, AWAAR! I didn't think I'd keep up that new fangled blogging thing for an entire week back in 2006, much less for two years.

On to some other current gifts. Tonight, daughter and I crafted a Garfield-worthy lasagna, which bakes in the oven as I type, giving me a few minutes to blog. We used cottage cheese instead of Ricotta and Bocconcini Mozzarella instead of shredded, so we'll see how the thing tastes. Speaking of lasagna, I spent a lovely Friday evening last week at the home of a new friend (of razor-sharp wit and most excellent taste in heavy metal rock n' roll) who baked, of all things, a squash-based lasagna. I'm fairly certain I'd never be able to pull off such a gourmet treat, but this was one of the best dishes I've tasted in a long time.

I also received an invitation to the reading of another friend and amazing writer whose bazillionth novel (well, maybe her fourth) is coming out soon. Her premiere reading of the book will be at Bookman's in Flagstaff, so anyone within driving distance should go ahead and black out that date on the calendar now. I'm proud to say that Tammy was my office mate during our first year as graduate school TAs at Northern Arizona University, and her success as a writer alternately turns me completely green with envy and inspires me to hang in there in search of a home for my own manuscripts. You can bet I'll be among the first in line to get my signed copy. Here are the details:

Who: T. Greenwood, authoress extraordinaire
What: Premiere reading for Two Rivers You can pre-order it here.
Where: Bookman's Flagstaff
When: January 8

Sunday, December 07, 2008

shy little wallflower

It's been brought to my attention by more than one reader that I have not made an appearance on the blog in quite some time, and that sort of attention always makes me want to burrow even deeper into obscurity for some reason.

There's no excuse for the absence, really, unless the fact that I'm living a life that resembles a robust concoction of Judge Judy's courtroom (really, ya gotta love her), Bergman's The Seventh Seal and Airplane, all percolated to bittersweet perfection counts as an excuse.

Did that analogy make any sense to you? It didn't to me, either.
Anyway, I'm back. I've been hawking soap like a madwoman, teaching like a... (what does a hard working teacher resemble? No, really, it's not a riddle. I'm asking for real) ...and having some fun in the odd, free moments. I saw Australia a couple weeks ago, and it wasn't bad. Not stupendous, but not bad. That Hugh Jackman is a tall drink of water if there ever was one:

Kinda reminds me of The Boss in his glory days:

Anyway, Nicole Kidman wasn't bad, either. Ever since Far and Away (in which she was awesome) she has seemed to get more precious (not in a good way) and cloying. But she actually grew on me throughout Australia, until I was darn close to liking her again by the end of it all.

So, what have y'all been up to lately?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

oh, dear

Some game designer must have seen me at the track this past summer and gotten inspired. This is exactly why I prefer trail running - plenty of trees and stuff with which to pull one's self along.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

theatrical heinie-kicking taken to a whole new level

So, between the never ending booze and cleavage, the barfing fellow bus passengers, the line of "vendors" thrusting the calling cards of "available" women in your face as you pass by, and the guys holding up handmade "Repent NOW!" signs, the Las Vegas Strip is basically like a 24/7 Mardi Gras in the biblical town of Gomorrah. I mean, we all know this, right?

Also, after spending several hours wandering through the smoke-drenched air of various casinos in rhinestone heels you start to realize that you could fairly accurately (and more cheaply) recreate the experience by finding a dirty ashtray and licking it clean while sticking your feet in a Cuisinart and setting it to "shred."

But as far as people-watching goes, I can't imagine a much richer environment than Vegas. And also, they have stuff like this in the water and this on the ceiling. And, of course, this, which was like nothing I have ever seen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

vegas, baby

Is it just me, or does everyone completely relate to this commercial?

Ah, well. No matter. I'm gettin' the heck outta Dodge. Time to hang with friends and family, catch a show, blow a few bucks on the slot machines. I'll be back next week, hopefully with tall tales galore.

Oh, and our Friday Soap Giveaway winner from last week is Donna B. from LA! Donna, send your address to me at NEBrackett (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll get that bar of Falling Leaves out to you on Monday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Recently, a WWII Veteran I know brought over the Purple Heart he was awarded by President Truman so I could see it.

image credit: unknown

The stories this man tells about what happened abroad nearly 65 years ago alternately send chills and inspire awe. He's careful about which stories he tells when the kids are around, but he did show them how his fake knee (the real joint was wrecked when his submarine was torpedoed) pops when it's moved from side to side. He told me he sometimes wishes there was a doctor who could open up his head and take out the worst memories of what he witnessed during WWII and in Korea. He was a P.O.W.
My dad is a vet, too, as are several of my friends and students. I'm not a war romantic, and I still have enough Jesus freak/nouveau hippy protester in me to believe war should be avoided whenever possible.
But sometimes it can't be avoided, unless you consider capitulation a victory. And I know full well how absolutely blessed I am to live in a land where the kind of men and women who don't consider capitulation a victory can still be found in abundance.
Today, my Thank You goes to them.

Friday, November 07, 2008

friday soap giveaway!

'Tis the season for Falling Leaves! I don't know about where you are, but here in Northern Arizona any tree that's not a Ponderosa is well on its way to being bald. These newest bars to be added to the Garland Prairie Soaps line celebrate the loveliness that is Fall. It's hard to tell from the picture, but these bars are a deep, reddish orange with many other fall colored chunks embedded throughout the soap. They're scented with a yummy citrus, cranberry and wildflower fragrance blend, making them a perfect addition to anyone's bathroom or kitchen. You gotta USE my soap, though, okay? None of this setting in on a windowsill as pure decoration. It's good stuff - glycerin-rich (which means it helps keep your skin soft), detergent and surfactant-free!
Wanna win one?
Simply leave (no pun intended) a comment describing your favorite fall memory.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

at least we know we're raising her right

I'm a firm believer in exposing kids to horses as soon as possible. It does my heart good to know that our now-8-month-old Lizzie agrees.

Oo! And I almost forgot to mention that Maiden is the lucky soap winner from Friday before last. Look for another soapy giveaway this Friday. I'm well stocked at the moment, since the big Holiday House show was last weekend and there's another biggee coming up in a few weeks. It's all soap all the time here at Writer/Rider Central. That and Chicken Cacciatore, which is what's currently cookin' in the crockpot.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

hope you did, too

Monday, October 27, 2008

works for me

photo credit: unknown

According to the folks over at Futility Closet, this is the Lone Ranger's creed, as written by LR creator, Fran Striker:

I believe:
That to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
That "this government of the people, by the people, and for the people" shall live always.
That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
That sooner or later … somewhere … somehow … we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
That all things change but truth, and that truth alone lives on forever.
In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

Friday, October 24, 2008

i'm starting to get

the fact that the "acceptance" part of grief is not the end of something but the beginning of something.

I'm also starting to get that disillusionment is a good thing - really difficult, but good. Who wants to spend her whole life mistaking fake for real?


Okay, on a lighter note, it's time to crank up the ol' Friday Soap Giveaways again! Who's with me? It took a while for the giveaway to get going last year, but once it heated up, the competition got fierce!

The lucky winner will receive a bar of Midnight Chocolate Amber, which was my top seller at the County Fair this year. It's sultry, sexy and somehow perfect for the new, dark nights of fall (not to be mistaken for dark nights of the soul). Plus, just like an authentic autumn day, these bars start out light colored and cheery (see background soap) and then darken to a broody, rich brown as they age, showing off the gold veins running though:

Just leave a note in the comments section telling me why you agree or disagree with my heavy psychological observations in this post - and why. Okay, go. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the NaNoWriMo folks

are starting to pester me and all the other lunati - I mean, novelists out there who have in the past or are planning to pound out a 50K-word book in one month. I partook in NaNo last year, and it wasn't pretty. Neither was I by the end of it.

This year is all about focus on the essentials, so I - sadly - won't be doing the November novel blitzkrieg. It may be a bad decision, since the book currently in the hopper really does need to be finished and sent off. But instead of the NaNo I'll be focusing on the day jobs - mommying, teaching and soaping (and, of course, working on the book as much as possible).

It seems a little pathetic to blog about t.v. shows, but the fact is I rely on a couple of them to give me some inspiration when it's time to create the season's new and not-so-new soaps. For instance, while whipping up a batch of these Waltz of the Flowers bars

I have been getting inspiration from Ace of Cakes, which is basically a day-in-the-life look at the bakers of Charm City Cakes. I'm also a huge fan of The Rachel Zoe Project. I'm not nearly as interested in the personal drama inherent in these shows so much as I love seeing examples of the creative drive in action.

So, for you creative types out there, what do you do to get those artsy juices flowing?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

beats wheaties

I do think I may have found the coolest product ever in Organic Batter Blaster, which I bought on impulse at Sam's Club yesterday after the kids and I raided the sample cart. The idea of Cheez-Whiz style pancakes was too much for my brain to take in until I read the ingredient list and watched the demo guy create these perfect little healthy pancakes with total ease and no mess. Seriously, I want to buy stock in this company, 'cause I think it's poised for world takeover.

Then there's Rachel. Okay, this is the ONLY way yogurt should taste - it's pure tangy, smooth numminess. And the cool flavors and packaging are totally inspiring to my soap-making self. Pomegranate Acai? Plum Honey Lavender? I think I'm in heaven.

Top it all off with a piping hot cup of Gorilla Coffee and right there you have yourself a serious morning repast.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

5 ways to know it's fall in northern arizona

1) This guy shows up in your back yard:

2) The aspens go golden, then bald:

3) You see that first dusting of snow on the Peaks:

4) Your kids discover this guy on a Trick-or-Treat Treasure Hunt in the forest near the Flagstaff Nordic Center:

5) Pine needles (and the cleanup thereof) are the main source of your daily workout:

Monday, October 06, 2008

tae kwon DOH!


This is not me.

In fact, after our first family Taekwondo lesson last week, son said - ever so gently - "Mom? Not to be mean, but, you kind of looked -"

"Like a complete dork?" I offered.

"Well..." he said. Ever so gently.

"That's okay, Buddy." I knew I'd done okay with the stretching part. And I knew I'd done okay with the running laps part. I even did okay with the place-your-foot-on-the-side-of-your-knee-and-balance-there part. It was the footwork part that got me. The place-your-feet-at-a-90-degree-angle-and-face-this-way part that tripped me up a little. But, Zen mind, beginner's mind, I kept telling myself. Or something like it, anyway.

Later that night, on the porch swing, my son had a confession to make. "Actually, Mom. You looked really nice. Actually, there was just that one time where you looked kind know."

I know, Grasshopper, I thought.

I know.

Friday, October 03, 2008

oh, the beautiful smallness

I am so inspired by this Nikon Photomicrography - and it's a contest, no less. I could easily wallpaper entire rooms with some of these lovely organic patterns.

And while I don't have the equipment necessary to get into this type of shutterbugging, the D-80 and I have been playing around a bit with distance and movement in recent months. In August, for instance, I was driving out to the prairie house when I looked up and spotted this Red-tailed hawk atop a windmill (at least I'm pretty sure it's a RTH - any birders want to correct me?). I high-tailed it home, grabbed the camera and drove back to the spot with my fingers crossed, trying to switch lenses while I steered around the potholes in the horrendous cinder road. Luckily, the hawk was still there, and I was back in time to get some shots of its perching and its flight.

Okay, so I don't expect National Geographic to start knocking on my door any time soon (other than to ask me to renew my subscription - lol), but in my defense I was working on the spur of the moment and without a tripod.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

can't blog much at the moment.

Still processing the return of Friday Night Lights last night on DirecTV's new, special channel that lets subscribers watch this stuff before the general public sees it on NBC. So, neener.

Anyway, it was a good show. I'm not sure how I missed the story of Tami becoming principal,but there you go.
Hard to believe how "bonded" Riggins

and Lyla

are, too, though it doesn't look like that one's going to be too promising.

As one of Riggins' friends told him, he's pretty much a rebound from Jesus. Never a good sign.
Now the veep debate is on while I'm working at my computer (okay, while I'm taking a break from work), and I'm impressed by Sarah and Joe's endurance. I can't imagine keeping that up in front of the entire world, commercial-free.
Of course, tomorrow all the talking heads will be spinning every possible sound byte in every possible direction. Oh, how I am looking forward to this election being over, for better or worse.

Monday, September 29, 2008

the bane of my existence

looks something like this:

Those of you with small children in your lives, those of you who succumbed to the unrelenting advertising bombardment of the Christmas 2007 toy shopping season will no doubt recognize this perp as none other than Squawkers McCaw. Here are some of Squawkers' "selling points" from Hasbro's official press release:

*SQUAWKERS McCAW will repeat – in a squawky voice - any words spoken to him.

*SQUAWKERS McCAW will respond to preprogrammed phrases, such as “Hello” and “Are you hungry?”, with his own phrases.

*You can “teach” the parrot to respond to you by programming voice commands or prompts. For example, you can program him to respond with “Happy Birthday” every time you say a specific child’s name. You can also program additional phrases that the parrot will say at random.

*SQUAWKERS McCAW can also be “humorous” and “playful” by randomly responding to his pre-programmed phrases in a nonsensical way.

Yeah, that's all well and good and everything. But the truth? The truth is that when Daughter has Squawkers out on the swing set and I'm sitting at my computer inside it sounds like Carrie White and Sybil Dorsett are taking part in some kind of Tim Burtonesque Toastmasters Competition in my back yard.

In other news, I have a new answering machine that lets me know just what I have done every time I listen to a message and then press the Delete button: "Message elited," the machine says, in a most authoritative-if-somewhat-emotionally-devoid, masculine voice. It's like each lost message has just graduated from West Point or something.

Ah, technology. Some days I am in utter awe of just how many things the human race has accomplished in this area. Other days I feel like the release of the original Speak n' Spell isn't far behind us at all (I always especially liked the sound of the "w" key). It's those days - these days, actually - when I suspect we may still have a long, long way to go.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Or should I have titled this post "yummmm..." instead?

What does it say about me that I scored 100% on The George Costanza Candy Identification Quiz? (via MentalFloss, via Neatorama) On second thought, don't answer that.

It was a bit cruel of me to do this to myself - taking the quiz, I mean - since I've been off refined sugar and flour (for the most part) for the past few months. Yup, it's been stevia sweetener and Ezekiel Bread around here at Nicki's Health Central. Walking past the recent Halloween candy displays in stores is particularly excruciating, since I could easily rip open a fraternity-sized bag of Brach's Candy Corn, stick a section of hose in there and "beer bong" the entire bag in one sitting.

Also, about five minutes ago, a friend brought over a loaf of banana bread so fresh from the oven that it is STILL WARM. Makes me think of a refrigerator magnet I saw at the feed store in town today. It was a picture of a pig with its front half inside an open feed bag. "Lead me not into temptation," the caption read. "I can find it all by myself."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

so I want to say thank you

Basically, summer sucked.

I hate to sound so cynical, but it's the truth. I got through it, though, and I'm glad it's finally fall, which has been my very favorite season ever since The Cosby Show first aired and Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable taught me how much joyous potential was out there just waiting to be tapped wherever fall sweaters were sold. So, I suppose it was fashion that made me love the current season as much as I do. I remember one favorite sweater in particular - a gray mock turtleneck with little colorful nubbles of yarn knitted throughout. I used to count down the September days, just waiting for one cold enough to warrant wearing it...

But I digress. And in an odd way, too.

Anyway, I spent much of the summer in my hometown, where I had hoped to work through the descending/exploding emotional crud via frequent jogs around the old neighborhood. Something about running past all those childhood/young adulthood ghosts waiting to greet me sounded like just the ticket to help me get through what I have come to think of as the "tunnel of fire."

Unfortunately, there were signs like this one posted all over the place:

Nice. And here I thought a remote Arizona prairie was a potentially dangerous place to run because of all the "kitties" (as an old hunting acquaintance used to call them). Turns out the 'burbs are apparently much more treacherous.

So, I ended up running the track at my old high school instead, which was inevitably bittersweet (and only partly in the if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now sense). I ran and ran, circling the Latino soccer teams that frequently practiced there and sometimes bringing a kid or two along to keep me company. (Side note: I'm fairly certain my son is destined to be a track star. The kid has seemingly endless energy, plus the perfect lanky/colt-like runner's frame).

Sometimes, when I walked, I listened to this.

And, sometimes, when I ran, I listened to this.

I still have lots of listening left to do.

Monday, September 22, 2008

and my mother gave me a doll

This is me:

This is me in the kitchen today, making taco soup without the aid of a properly functioning can opener...which meant I had to pry the partially-opened can further open with a spoon that slipped and...

...why are you all spinning?

equinox equine

My old boy Zzari has been a total drama queen lately. I've owned this horse since he was three, and in the nearly two decades of our association he's just about been the easiest keeper I've ever known: Totally predictable, totally low maintenance.

He's recently moved into a new herd, though, and something about this has brought out his inner diva. It matters not that one of the members of the new group is an old pasture mate he lived with for many years or that another member is just as elderly as Zzari. His knickers are in a twist, plain and simple.

This has manifested itself via various, dramatic lamenesses, faux colic episodes and a general unpleasantness toward life in general. Except when the grain bucket appears. Then he's like a backstage groupie at a Jonas Brothers concert. Good thing for him and the rest of us that he's on a new bulking-up regimen that includes free-feed hay and lots of nummy Equine Senior topped off by a few generous dollops of corn oil. Maybe that, plus the fact that it's now officially fall (which means fly season's days are numbered) will settle the old dude down. Let's hope so, anyway. Life's dramatic enough without adding a four-legged crisis addict to the mix.

Viva autumn!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

have a little Chad

I love this video. Wish I'd thought of this concept for a short story.

I hope you've all been well while I've been on an extended blogging vacay. It's good to be back, and I've much to share... the good, the bad and the ugly. Well, maybe not all of it. I don't want to be accused of walking around without any pants on.

Inside joke. Old blog post. Deal with it.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

blogging break 2008!

Seems like all sorts of stuff starts coming down the pike at this time of year lately, which is why AWAAR will be going dark for a while. Don't give up on me, though.

As a very wise governator once said:

"I'll be bock."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

how I shall make my literary mark

I was out walking Lizzie the Cow Pup at the plumber's crack of dawn this morning when I started thinking about the whole Elizabeth Gilbert sensation.

I haven't actually read this book, but you don't have to read it to know the gal has made bajillions (with Oprah's help, of course).

And then it hit me - and I suddenly knew from whence my long-awaited literary fame would flourish.

So, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write the biography of a highly fascinating individual who has made an impression on scads of people. You might say she's "made her mark" in a big way and in many places. I already have a title picked, out, too. It's short, sweet and manages to convey every key point of this highly fascinating individual's life:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

...but wait!

Maiden53 herself - being the honorable soul she is - has gracefully reminded me that she is, in fact, ineligible to win the bar of Lily of the Valley soap, since she did not, in fact, address the question of whether blogging is or is not like walking around without any pants.

So, I returned to my highly scientific calculation method, which this time involved asking a visiting neighbor kid to pick a number between one and four.

"Two," spake the child.

Which means Marla wins! Congrats!

This is somewhat of a coincidence, since this self-same gal recently tagged me via the following email. I've decided to reply here:

TAG - YOU'RE IT! If you opened it, you have to do it (it only takes a couple minutes I swear!) Then, send it to the rest of your friends!

Two names you go by: 1. "MOM!!!!" 2. Nix

Two things that you are wearing right now: 1. Fruit of the Looms (not going into any more detail) 2. rapidly eroding nail polish. And, yes, I'm wearing more than that. Get yer heads out of the gutter.

Two things you want very badly right now: 1. a break from work 2. to finally hear that my novel has found a publishing home

Two people who will most likely send this back 1. No 2. Clue

Two things you did last night: 1. Led a Clover Kids meeting 2. Picked up son from the folks who drove him to his baseball game one town over

Two things you ate today: 1. Monterey sourdough from Sam's Club (and it rivals some of the best Bay Area sourdough, imo) 2. Smarties

Two people you last talked to: 1. April 2. Lizzie (hey, she's like a small, four-legged person with fur, right?)

Two things you did today: 1. caught up 2. drank coffee (not necessarily in that order)

Two longest Car rides: 1. Flagstaff to Marin 2. Marin to Flagstaff

Two favorite beverages (hot weather): 1. ice water 2. Diet Pepsi (heavily iced)

So, there you have it, folks. Anyone who has read this far, consider yourself tagged.

Monday, June 09, 2008

And the winner is...

A highly scientific process has, once again, been applied to the task of choosing this week's soap winner. Here's the process: I holler to daughter (who's watching the evening edition of Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends after a long day of being in town and attending her Clover Kids (4H) meeting), "Pick a number between one and five!"

So she did. And our lucky winner is Number 5 - Maiden53! Give me a call, Dear.

And the rest of you please tune in Friday for the next edition of the great Garland Prairie Soaps Giveaway. Thanks for playing!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

she's at it again!

In celebration of today being the official start of summer vacay for the offspring, I'll be giving away a bar of my newly-redesigned Lily of the Valley vegetable glycerin soap. I always start soaping again around this time of year, after a long hiatus from the insanity of the holidays. Plus, it looks like I'll be a vendor at the County Fair this year, so I'd better get soapin.'

These bars smell reeeeeeally good. Plus, they're bright and sunny...and after the weather we've had for the past, oh, NINE MONTHS or so, I find myself irresistibly attracted to bright and sunny.

Wanna win? Just leave a comment to this post explaining why you do or do not think that blogging is like walking around with no pants.

so, my sister-in-law

told me that she finds blog-reading to be a very uncomfortable experience, because blogging is all about putting your personal "stuff" out there for the whole world to see.

"It's like bloggers are walking around without their pants!" she said (or something close to it, anyway).

So, J, here's the deal: I promise, when I'm out there visiting next month, that I will try my best to KEEP MY PANTS ON.

I'd love to think she's reading this, of only to imagine the look of pure horror on her cute face. Alas, though, I fear I'll have to settle for just telling her about it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

fluppy breath

This is Lizzie the cow dog - er, cow pup. She's new around these parts.

"u has a new WHAT?"

"cow pup! i'm a cow pup! is yur ears broke?"

It's okay that she's new, though. She already has lots of new friends showing her the ropes.

"o hai! another new friend fer me!"

"mabee not."

"i has a sorry. try agin pleese?"


"dis much bettur."

Welcome to our family, little Liz.

Monday, June 02, 2008

ken asked for it

So now everyone who reads this entire post will have to suffer the consequences of one person being curious about what has been on my mind, musically speaking, lately.

So, let's see. I've been thinking about what it must have felt like to be a wanted outlaw in the Olde West, for one.

Dang, those Jovi boys were so young and...big-haired. And glittery.

And I've also been thinking about what might be done with an inebriated seaman:

(I know for a fact this is a direct result of having SpongeBob SquarePants playing all too frequently in the background while I work). (There's also a "waddle, waddle, quack, quack" song that's been implanted in my brain by my daughter, who will be a pre-schooler for only one more week. Talk about bitter-sweet.)

Oh, let's see. For a whole host of reasons Wagner's Ride has been a recent cerebral staple lately (which sounds rather painful, I realize, after typing that). Maybe it's because Rush was playing some of his old bumper music the other day when I happened to be tuned in. Who knows.

Also, Shakira. Because it's one of the best running-on-the-prairie songs there is. Don't believe me? Come on out with your spandex pants and trail running shoes and try it some time. (That midget mummy in the video totally creeps me out, though.)

Speaking of Latin loveliness, nobody else brings it like The Gipsy Kings. Nobody. I saw them at the Greek Theater in Berkeley in another lifetime. They were amazing.

And finally: Dang it all if I can't stay away from this cutie pie. He makes it so durned hard to be glum (and is it even possible to resist someone who sings a line like, "Scootch on over closer dear and I will nibble your ear"?)

So, there you have it. A random look inside the musical mayhem happening inside my brain at any given moment. Thrilling, I know.

Friday, May 30, 2008

happiness is

Friday, May 23, 2008

and then the weather does this

...and I feel bad for ever snapping at it.