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!