Monday, December 6, 2010

Ellie Playing

Because I don't really have time to write a real post because I'm insanely busy with finals at school, I'm going to post a video of Ellie that I took about a week ago. She's being a nutter-dog. I don't blame you if you don't watch the whole thing, but I thought it was cute. But again, everyone thinks that their own furry children are cute.



video

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Not To Wear: Jack Attack Edition

These are certain fashion choices/trends you will most definitely not catch me sporting any time soon:

1. Visible bra straps. I don't know what it is, but it irritates me to no end when a girl wears something where you can see her bra straps. Either wear a strapless, some sort of cover up, or no bra at all. Seriously. What's worse is when the bra is a completely different color than the top, so it stands out that much more. Like a bright pink bra with a black top. Uh-uh. I have no idea why it bothers me so much, I can't trace the origins of my abhorrence to visible bra straps, but I think it looks cheap and sloppy.
2. Animal prints. Any kind of animal print: leopard, cheetah, tiger, giraffe, zebra, etc. I find animal prints (in fashion, and actually, in decor as well) to be the most tacky and the most chintzy display ever. To me, nothing screams "I have no taste!" more. (Sorry to anyone reading this who owns animal prints. It's nothing personal.)
Perhaps you noticed, to be fair, I put two pictures up for the animal print. The first one is more an example of what we're more likely to see on the street, and the second are designer creations with animal print. I can honestly say I don't like either, even the "high-end" animal prints. Ugh, they hurt my eyes to even look.
3. Fur/Feathers. Yes, big surprise, I don't like furs or feathers. I think feathers look campy, and I think fur, more especially, is extremely gaudy. But not only do I dislike the aesthetic of both, I would never, ever wear any fur based on morality issues. (Doesn't it kind of creep you out to touch real fur or feathers? It definitely creeps me out.) Even faux fur and synthetic feathers I wouldn't wear. I just don't care for it.
4. Skins. (Things are about to get preachy in here, just to forewarn.) You know what I'm talking about: crocodile skin, snake skin, leather/suede, elephant skin (!) etc. While every other fashion trend on this list is banned from my wardrobe because I don't like the aesthetics of the item, this is the one item where (for the most part) I don't think it looks bad, I am solely opposed to it for humane reasons. The hardest one would have to be leather and suede, though, because if I'm being honest, I think leather looks really chic and cool. And it's really hard to buy boots or purses that aren't made (even partially) of suede or leather. But I'm going to take a stand here and say I won't wear leather or suede because I don't support killing animals for fashion. (I have a polyurethane jacket instead of a leather one.) The snake skin and the crocodile skin I'm not tempted by, they don't appeal to me as much, but I still don't agree with them (even though I am totally freaked out by both snakes and crocodiles) I don't think their skin should be used for boots, belts, etc. But the elephant skin!? I didn't even know that elephant skin boots even existed until earlier this week. You ready for my story? Okay.
Earlier this week, I helped a woman at my work who came in to return a pair of boots that she decided she didn't want. She didn't have a receipt for her item, but the original price ticket was still on there. Whenever this happens, I'm supposed to put the ticket numbers into a program that tells me what the product is (so I can make sure it is the correct product) being returned, ya dig? So anyway, that's beside the point. I noticed these boot were particularly expensive, $150.00 expensive. I thought it was odd that they were so much because I could tell right away that they weren't leather (which is obviously expensive) but I couldn't tell what they were made of; the texture felt and looked odd to me. So I put the ticket info in, and lo and behold, the computer told me I was holding elephant skin boots in my hands. I seriously felt like throwing them on the floor after I found out, I didn't even want to touch them after that.
But then I got to thinking, how could elephant skin trade even be legal? I know ivory is most definitely not legal trade, and1 elephants are ENDANGERED animals. Both the African and the Asian elephant are endangered. So I did a little research when I got home. Turns out that elephant skin trade is completely legal in the United States. I was/am so pissed about it. While I am sympathetic to bovine, I am so much more emotional about the idea of elephants being killed for fashion.


I'm sure there's more, but this post is getting pretty along. Maybe I will make a second edition. We'll see.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

terms of endearment

During my orientation for my current job, my manager talked about how we shouldn't use terms of endearment towards the customers. No sweetie or sugar etc, because people can find it to be diminutive or condescending. It got me thinking about it, and you know what? It's never bothered me when someone calls me hon, and in a weird way, I kind of like it. Only from older women though, not men. (Except, I think some older men can call you hon without it being creepy.)

One lady at my work calls people all sorts of pet names. It cracks me up, because hers are pretty unconventional. She calls a lot of people "dear heart" and if she really likes you, she calls you her "sugar lump." I'm pumped on it. (That's probably because I'm a sugar lump and not a dear heart.)

But it got me thinking about whether or not I ever do that. I didn't think I called people by any pet names. (People I don't know, that is. I call my boyfriend babe, and every once in a while I'll call him a couple others, mostly as a joke e.g. "boyface" and if I feel like being really obnoxious: "peach pit.") But I decided I would make a conscious effort to notice whether or not I ever said any terms of endearment. Turns out, I do. Not to adults, but to kids. I hadn't even realized it. But I noticed that I almost always call little boys "buddy" when I'm talking to them, and little girls are either "honey" or "sweetie." I wonder how long I've been doing that.

But now the question is, are people getting offended if I call their kids that? Would you get offended if someone was calling your kid buddy or honey?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

secrets, work shop, and missionaries

Do you know what's cool? Yesterday, I was in class, and we were discussing an exploratory essay we are soon going to be working on, and my teacher brought up six word memoirs (which I have read, and I think it's totally awesome) and a student asked my teacher if he had ever heard of Post Secret. Another girl in my class said, "Hey, that guy is on campus today." And I got super pumped and asked her what time he was going to be giving his presentation and she told me it was right after our class. So I ditched my fiction work shop class (Because how often am I going to be able to hear Frank Warren give a presentation? Never, that's how often.) and I went and watched his presentation. It was awesome.

He talked about how Post Secret got started, and what it was all about, and he shared post cards with us that hadn't been put on the website or in the book. (I have been following Post Secret pretty much since it started, five years ago.) The last portion of his presentation was an open mic to the audience to share their secrets. Seriously. I wasn't sure how personal people were going to get, but my goodness, did they get personal.

Some people kept it light (thank goodness, because there needed to be some relief) and one guy said he didn't like using urinals because he didn't want other guys looking at his junk. One girl said she still slept with her teddy bear. But some people shared some really personal secrets. One girl shared about her ex-boyfriend, who was a cop, who held a gun to her head and abused her. Several people talked about how they used to cut themselves. Then there was one girl that walked up to the mic holding a baby. She talked about how her little girl was turning two weeks old tomorrow, and every day she considered herself blessed because she loved her so much. Then she said she had an abortion when she was seventeen years old, and she can't help but but think every time she looks into her little girl's face what her other child would have been like, and she was filled with so much guilt and that she felt terrible and then she started crying. And then I started crying, not because I related to her story or anything, but it was such an emotional thing she was sharing with us and I felt as though I could literally feel her pain. (I consider myself an extremely empathetic person; I honestly believe that I can really feel other people's pain.)

It was really awesome and I'm so glad I got to go to it. He's traveling around the country doing presentations, so I would highly recommend going to one if it's in your area.

What else? Well, I had my short story work shopped in my fiction work shop class and I was absolutely terrified. But it went okay. I didn't get ripped apart, and most of the responses I got from my class mates were really nice. My harshest response was from a boy who said he felt like "I gave him a chunk of excellently cooked meat, but I didn't cut the fat off first." Hey, I can live with that. Now I have to work on my second short story, which is up for work shop at the end of October.


I had a Mormon missionary come up to my door today. The dogs were barking like crazy, and I went to the door to see what they were barking at and there was a person standing there and he scared me half to death and I actually jumped and shrieked. It was pretty embarrassing. He kept on saying he was sorry he scared me, but then he went into his whole spiel.

He asked if I went to church, and I said no. He asked if church had ever been a part of my life, and I told him yes, it had been. Then he went on to say that people may stray from church due to different things happening in their lives, but Jesus was the way. He asked if I had ever read the book of Mormon, and I told him I had.

I could tell he was a little surprised, and he asked me what my thoughts had been. I have to say, I think I was pretty polite. I told him I didn't agree with a lot of what Mormons believed in. He pressed further, and said, "You say that with a smile on your face. Why is that?" And I just told him that anything I had to say about it would probably offend him, and I didn't want to do that.

He then told me that there were a lot of misleading ideas about what Mormonism was, and gave me a a little pamphlet and said I could contact them if I was interested. I said thank you, and when I thought he was going to leave, he said, "Can I help you with anything?" I was confused about what he meant. Spiritually? Emotionally? What, exactly, was he going to help me with? Then he said, "Can I take out your trash or do some sort of chore for you that you need help with?" And I actually thought that was really sweet. I just told him that was very nice to offer, but I was okay.

Those Mormons. They sure try to butter you up, don't they?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Doggie Tales: Maggie

Full Name: Maggie Mae Harris

Breed: Yellow Labrador (but she was really white-colored)

Birth date: Maggie was born on January 24th of 1996 and she passed away on October 28th of 2009. She was 13 years old.

Likes: going anywhere with my dad, her soccer ball, her red rubber toy, swimming, fetching, pretty much playing with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Dislikes: beans, music boxes, raccoons...and there isn't anything else. She was a really easy-going and happy dog.

All about Maggie: We got Maggie when I was nine years old. She was the cutest puppy you ever did see. Really, she was. Look. She was the runt of the litter and she was so small that the tiny purple collar we had bought for her was too big and my dad had to take out his knife and make a new hole in order for it to fit.

Me and my brother with little baby Maggie.

In truth, we came up with the name Maggie from the movie The River Wild. The yellow Labrador in that movie was named Maggie and we thought that dog was badass so we named our Maggie, Maggie. Then we decided her middle name (because in my family, our dogs are family members so they get full names) should be Mae, like The Beatles' song "Maggie Mae."


Maggie when she was still a young doggie.

Maggie didn't bark for a long time. We weren't even sure if she could bark until one day, probably 3 months after we got her, we brought out a soccer ball to play with and Maggie barked at it. She loved playing soccer. She would bite and chew the ball and run around after it, and if you kicked it and it got past her, she would go crazy and bark at it. She learned how to pass the ball to us by hitting it with her nose, so when we would tell her to pass it, she would.

Maggie seriously loved sitting in her chair.
Maggie was really smart. She is the smartest dog I ever had. I had read in an article that you could measure your dog's intelligence by doing this test: you show your dog a treat, you have them watch you put it under a rag or piece of cloth, and then you let them go after it. Depending on how your dog gets the treat shows you how intelligent they are. If they use their paw to move the rag off of the treat, they're really smart. If they try to use their nose to get the rag off the treat, they're average, and if they try to get the treat by picking the treat up with their mouth while the rag is still over it...they're not so smart. I immediately wanted to test Maggie. Right away, she used her paw to move the piece of cloth and she got the treat. So she was super smart, at least, according to that test she was.
Here she is, in her chair again, only older.
But she did other smart stuff, too. One time I was wearing a hat, and she had never seen me in a hat before, so she wanted to see what was on my head. She kept jumping on me to try to get it, until I scolded her and told her not to jump anymore. This was when she grabbed a hold of my sock with her teeth and began yanking on it. I leaned down to swat her away, and when I leaned over, she grabbed the hat right off my head. Clever little dog, huh?
Me and Maggie when I was about 12 or 13.

Maggie also ate everything. I mean everything. We had a really big strawberry patch and we would sometimes find her in the patch eating the strawberries right off the vine. The only food she would not eat was beans. When we tried putting it with her dog food, she would eat all the food around it and leave the beans alone.

She went really white when she got older.
For some inexplicable reason, the only thing that Maggie was scared of was music boxes. Isn't that strange? I remember one time when she was allowed in the house (because she was mostly an outdoor dog) I had wound up and opened one of my music boxes and Maggie completely freaked out and ran away from it and would refuse to come near me until the music stopped. And the only thing that would make her mad (because dogs can get mad) were the raccoons that would come at night and eat her dog food and wash their hands in her water bowl. She would be inside at night during the winter, but when she heard them out on the porch, she would go berserk. One time, she got into a fight with one and the raccoon split her nose wide open. Poor, Maggie. But ooh, she hated those raccoons.

And her black nose turned pink.

The two main things about Maggie's personality are: 1. she was the sweetest dog who didn't have a single violent bone in her body. One time a dog down the street tried to attack her while we were all on a walk, and instead of trying to fight back, Maggie just shied away and moved behind my dad. My dad had to fight the dog off to protect Maggie because she would have just let it bite her. She loved EVERYONE. She was a really friendly dog.

This is a picture of Penny, our other dog who was one of Maggie's puppies, and Maggie.

The second thing was: all she wanted to do all the time was play. She wasn't too big into pets. If you tried to pet her, she would just shove her toy at you, instead. An hour after she had given birth to six puppies, she picked her favorite red toy up and tried to get us to play with her. (That favorite red toy, by the way, was probably the hardest dog toy to find in the world! It got lost one time so we seriously spent months trying to find a replacement toy. When we did finally find one she was so stoked! I couldn't even find a picture of it on the internet to put up here.) Maggie always wanted to play fetch or tug-of-war...she stayed a puppy in her heart, even when she was getting older.


Wasn't she cute?
As she became an old dog, Maggie had trouble walking because of her arthritis, and my parents told me she hardly got off her bed anymore except to do the basics. Whenever I would go visit my parent's house, I would go outside to visit Maggie in the yard, and she would come out and do her best to play with me. My mom and dad would come out and marvel that she was actually out and trying to play. Even though it hurt her poor old bones to do so, she would come out to try to play with me because Maggie loved me. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. The day we put Maggie to sleep was one of the saddest in my life, and thinking about her still makes me cry. The whole family misses her very much. I love you, Maggie Mae.

My very last picture of Maggie Mae.

Friday, September 17, 2010

dictionary.com

I spend an unusual amount of time using dictionary.com. I use it for scholarly purposes: I look up the meanings of words, and I use the thesaurus section every single time I'm writing a paper. I use it to make sure I'm spelling words correctly, and I also use it to help figure out how to pronounce certain words. (I have often pondered why some words are pronounced by a woman, and others a man. Why don't they just use the same person for all of them? Maybe they didn't want to have a gender bias.)

But I also use it for entertainment purposes. I like to check out the Word of the Day (today's was "burlesque" but I already knew that one so I was kind of disappointed) and the Question of the Day. I also like checking out the "The Hot Word" blog. As you can see, I use it a lot. I'm a giant word dork. But I think it's kind of an interesting website in general.

There's little "Did you know:" factoids at the top of the pages, and I found one that said: Did you know that pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the longest word we have? I'm still unsure if that means it is the longest word on dictionary.com, or if it is the longest word ever. Either way, that is one crazy long word, right? (You should go check it out just so you can click on the little microphone thing to hear the guy say it aloud. It sounds funny.) I had to click on it and find out what it meant. It is the term used for people who have lung damage that involves inhaling volcanic ash.

So check out http://www.dictionary.com/. It makes me feel smarter.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Customer Service

I have spent about seven (Seven? My goodness. How did that happen?) years working customer service, and until recently, my experience in customer service was only in banking. Now I work in retail. I have come to realize that customer service is very different in these two institutions. The way customers treat me is very different, too.

At the bank, for the most part, customers were civil and polite. But when they lost it, they really lost it. I mean....explode status. They'd scream and yell and get in your face and tell you they were going to get you fired or call the police on you (seriously) and cause a giant scene. And you were expected to remain calm. And I learned how to do that. Because hey, I could kind of understand why people got upset sometimes. Money can be an emotional thing.

In my short experience in retail, it seems to me that customers are a lot different. In general, they are not as civil and polite. I haven't had anyone scream or explode on me in retail, but I have just plain rude customers all the time. For no other reason than they want to be, I guess.

This is the theory that I have come up with: I think bank tellers kind of hold this position of power, and so people feel like they should be nicer to them because they "control" their money. The person at the register at the department store does not hold any such power, therefore, you don't need to be as nice to him or her. What do you think? Valid?

Here are some of the people I have come across in retail lately that are just inexplicably rude:

  • I had a girl interrupt me while I was in the middle of ringing up another customer, and ask me for a job application. I told her I would get her one as soon as I was done helping my customer. She sighed, and made a big show of having to wait. I was the only checker, and had a line of other customers waiting. I quickly grabbed a job application off the stack and handed it to her. She didn't say a word and left the store. Not even two minutes later, the phone rang, and I could tell right away that it was the same girl on the phone. She asked to speak to the manager. I transferred the call. My manager came up to me later to tell me about it. The girl told him that I had given her an application that was in Spanish, and she was offended that I had automatically assumed that she couldn't read or write English. Seriously? I just don't understand who would even get pissed about that. I think any normal person would just say, "Oh, excuse me? Do you have one in English? This one's in Spanish." It was obvious I hadn't looked at the stack and made a conscious choice that she should receive a Spanish application.
  • For some reason, the counter surface at my work is the worst surface in the world to write on. No exaggerating. No one can ever sign their receipts because of that damn surface. I put out a clipboard for customers to use, because that works better to write on. I also have three or four pens in a cup that a customer can choose from. I had a lady who kept on trying to sign her receipt (unsuccessfully), but wouldn't use the clipboard. She kept on asking me to give her different pens, looking for a "better" one. With every new pen, I suggested that she use the clipboard, but she kept arguing with me that it was the pens that weren't working. After the fourth and final pen, she literally (and I'm not taking any liberties here, she really did this) threw the pen across the counter at me and said, "I don't have time for this! Just get me a pen that works." I must admit, I did not respond as gracefully as I should have. I said, with a definite edge in my voice, "I did give you a pen that worked. I gave you four pens that worked." (I test every single pen when I first come in the morning. I know my shit.) I took one of the pens and scribbled on a piece of paper using the clipboard where it worked perfectly. "See? It works. That is why I told you to use the clipboard." But why did she have to get so rude about it?
  • Okay, this next one wasn't actually a rude customer towards me, but I saw someone be INCREDIBLY rude to one of my co-workers. It was actually just this morning. This lady came up to my counter with baby clothes and she asked me whether or not I thought a particular outfit was unisex, because it was a gift and they didn't yet know if it was a boy or a girl. I said, yes the colors were unisex, but based on the ruffle in the front, it was more for a girl. The lady seemed unsatisfied with my answer, and looked at my co-worker and said, "How about you? You would probably know. You're pregnant, right?" My co-worker slowly turned and her and I made eye contact and it was as if time had slowed down to a painful speed as I waited to see how my non-pregnant co-worker was going to react. "No. I'm not pregnant." she said. Okay, these things happen. And they're awkward and embarrassing for everyone involved. But this next part is the worst part. Instead of the lady apologizing or changing the subject or doing anything remotely near the realm of good manners, she said, "Oh, you're not? I guess you just have a big belly on you." Then she turned and winked at me as if it were a joke. I was horrified. I don't think I hid it very well, either, because she then softly mumbled "Sorry." But who does that? Honestly?

Friday, July 23, 2010

the itty bitty tittie committee

Breast implants have been on my mind a lot lately, since I know someone close to me who recently got a boob job. I, myself, have very tiny boobs. We're talking pretty small. But I would never get a boob job.

This is a shout out to all the celebrity women out there who obviously have enough money to get a boob job, but choose to stay 100% natural.

Ali Larter (for Hollywood...they're tiny)

Charlize Theron (in my opinion, I think she may be the most beautiful woman on this planet...and her boobies are on the smaller side)

Evan Rachel Wood (I think she's gorgeous.)

Freida Pinto (the actress from Slumdog Millionaire)

Thandie Newton (I've always thought she was pretty.)

Gwyneth Paltrow (she even showed them off in Shakespeare in Love)

Natalie Portman (I absolutely adore her. When I was trying to find a photo of her where you could see she was on the smaller side, I had a hard time finding one where you would notice it. A lot of her fashion choices help hide the fact that she's small chested. I am definitely going to emulate.)

Kate Hudson (I love the fact that she has such small boobs and she doesn't even seem to care.)

Keri Russell (Not much up top, but she's still beautiful.)
Portia de Rossi (She is one of the first celebrities I remember noticing had tiny boobs because I watched Ally McBeal when I was a kid. And I thought she was one of the most gorgeous women ever.)
Rose Byrne (She is also really flat chested but she's stunning.)

Mena Suvari (While I fluctuate between whether or not I think she's attractive, one things for sure: I give her kudos for being brave enough to show her tiny tatas in American Beauty.)

Debra Messing (I love how there's an episode revolved around how small her boobs are on "Will & Grace")

Gwen Stefani (she had really tiny boobs...now they're quite a bit bigger since she had her kids.)

Keira Knightley (Another person who has no boobs who I think is so pretty.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Jack Attack Review: Inception

I watched Inception on Saturday, but I felt like I needed to give myself a few days to fully digest it and mull it over before I wrote anything about it. Really, with any movie, I like to wait a couple of days before I give an "official" opinion about it. This is because I like to give my brain the ability to reflect on it if needed...and if I find myself not thinking about the movie a couple days after I have seen it, then that tells me something. It means it's either boring, fluff, stupid, or just a plain time-waster. Inception is none of those things. I could give you a ton of superlatives to describe it, but that still wouldn't even touch the surface of how awesome this film is. I can't stop thinking about this movie. I've become kind of obsessed with it.

BUT, let me just say, that I can understand why someone might not like this movie. It is easily one of the strangest movies I have ever seen...and that's saying a lot. (I have seen A LOT of movies.) But the strangeness is part of what attracts me. There's nothing else like it. It's original. How often does that happen in Hollywood now adays?

Also, I could see some people not caring for it because it is complicated. It is a very intricate and elaborate film, and I can see how people can become lost within it. I'll admit, there are parts I'm not sure I fully understand. It's definitely not a movie you can go to and just sit back and watch. You need to have your brain turned on, you need to be actively thinking and absorbing everything that's going on to help you understand what's happening. But, again, this is just another reason why I liked it.

I mean, in its most basic form, Inception is a heist movie. Leonardo DiCaprio's character and his team break into people's minds through their dreams and steal ideas and information. But they take on a job that is just the opposite: planting an idea in someone's mind while in a dream. But it is much more than a heist movie.

The acting (especially by Leonardo DiCaprio...why doesn't he get more credit?) is AMAZING, the visual effects are stunning (there is a fight scene that is unbelievably badass), the content is absolutely mind-bending...it was just...crazy. I'm seriously considering seeing it a second time.

I'm not going to spend any time explaining the plot, because it's too complex, and I think the viewer needs to find out for themselves. There is a ton of stuff I could say about this film, but I will hold off so you can make up your own mind. I will say that my brother and I have had crazy conversations about what we think this film means and what we think is really happening within the film.

The thing I loved most about this movie is that it made me think. The main idea/question the film leaves you with is: What is reality?

It is not a simple answer.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jack Attack is Lovin':

If you haven't noticed, I kind of like to make lists. It's a weird thing I do. I was trying to think of a new list I could come up with, and I decided I was going to make a list of things that I've been obsessed with lately. So...this is what the Jack Attack has been loving lately:

Coldplay. I have been listening to Coldplay A LOT the past month. I have quite a few of their albums: Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and Viva la Vida. But I've been stuck on Viva la Vida most recently. I really like the song "Strawberry Swing." Check out the music video, it's a trip.
Potstickers. I have been on a real potstickers kick. It's all I want to eat all the time. So, I've been making and consuming a lot of potstickers lately.
Documentaries. I have been watching soooo many documentaries this past month. Here are the ones I enjoyed the most: The September Issue which follows the editor of Vogue (Anna Wintour, who inspired Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada) as they plan their September layout, No Impact Man which follows a man and his family as they decide to live a year of their life completely green e.g. no motorized transportation, generating no trash, and not using toilet paper, and I also liked Waiting for Armageddon which is about a bunch of Evangelical Christians who believe the world is soon coming to an end. One documentary has been on my Netflix queue for months, but there's such a long wait list I haven't gotten it yet! It's entitled The Cove, and it won Best Documentary at the last Academy Awards. It investigates the fishing industry in Japan and how they are slaughtering dolphins. I really want to watch it, but I guess I just have to wait for that one.


"Big Love." I just started watching this television series, but I'm already kind of obsessed with it. I can't wait until I get more discs in the mail from Netflix.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Celebrities Back When & Now That

Mickey Rourke back when he was sexy:
Mickey Rouke now that it looks like you could smell him from 10 feet away:
Kathleen Turner back when she was a smoldering seductress:
Kathleen Turner now that she has turned into a man:
Val Kilmer back when he was hot enough to be the Ice Man:
Val Kilmer now that he has become 8 months pregnant:
Janice Dickinson back when she was a beautiful model:
Janice Dickinson now that she had a plastic surgeon make her look like a freak:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Church Giggles

Want to hear one of my favorite memories from church? (When I went to church, that is.) Here we go:

My mom is a religious woman. As a result, my brother and I went to church every Sunday for 18 years. One summer, our church was getting new wood floors installed, so we held our Sunday services in the basement. The basement door was wide open for anyone to come in, because the church we attended wanted anyone and everyone to stop in.

One Sunday, a homeless man shuffled into the basement and settled himself in the pew behind my mother, my brother, and me. (Just an aside, my brother and I were about 16 and 17 at this point.) We always sat near the back, so there wasn't anyone else around us. The man kept falling asleep during the service, and we could hear him snoring behind us. This didn't really bother us, though. In fact, we felt pretty bad for him.

This particular Sunday happened to be communion. Perhaps you are not familiar with communion, so let me explain it to you. At least, let me explain how my church practiced communion. (Because it varies from church to church.) Our preacher would hold the loaf of bread, and one of the older church members would hold the cup of juice (we used grape juice instead of wine) and the congregation would form a line in front of them. We would go up one by one as the preacher would tear us off a piece of bread, tell us, "This is the body of Christ given to you. Eat this in remembrance of him," and we'd bow our head and move over to the cup where the member would say, "This is the blood of Christ shed for you. Drink this in remembrance of him," and then we would dip our piece of bread in the juice, and then walk over to the prayer benches. There, you would pray and ask for forgiveness for the sins you had committed since last communion and you would promise God that you would do your best to not sin anymore.

So, anway, this whole process would be a little cramped in the basement, so instead of the prayer benches, we would go back to our pew to pray. We had a different preacher that Sunday because our regular preacher had business elsewhere. This substitute preacher did not tear off a piece of bread for us, but instead held out the loaf to us so we would tear off our own piece of bread. (Unsanitary, I know.) My brother was in front of me in line, and I saw him try to tear off a piece of bread, and he ended up breaking off the tiniest little crumb. I could tell just by looking at him that he wasn't sure what to do. He hesitated there for a moment, not sure if he should break off a bigger piece or just continue on his way to the cup. It was like I could see the thoughts in his brain. He decided to move onto the cup, and when I saw him try to dip that tiny little crumb into the cup, I almost lost it.

Church giggles are really hard to suppress. Harder than any other giggle. And I was trying really hard not to laugh out loud. And when we walked back to our pew together, we both could not stop giggling about it. We were both sitting there with our shoulders shaking, trying really hard not to laugh out loud. My mom slid into the pew and ask-whispered why we were laughing. We managed to tell her in between fits what had happened. She shook her head and started to giggle, too.

But this was when the homeless man behind us woke up and heard/saw us laughing. He leaned over to us and said, "Stop laughing at me." Teddy and I both looked at each other with the most bewildered looks on our faces, and then turned around in the pew to look at him. The homeless man got even more upset. He got louder, "Don't look at me! Turn around!" My mom said hurriedly, "Don't look at him! Don't look at him, kids. Turn around!" Teddy and I both turned around, but Teddy and I could not control ourselves. We started laughing even harder. The homeless man kept on telling us to stop laughing. My mom got really worried, and she told him, "Oh, no. They're not laughing at you. You see, my son got a really tiny piece of bread at communion and he had trouble dipping it into the cup and they're laughing about that." And hearing my mom trying to explain the situation to him only made us laugh more. This was when he started pounding his fist and saying, "I don't like people laughing at me!" and he was eyeing my brother as if he were going to fight him.

Luckily, church ended within the next minute or so, and my mom told us we needed to go home, because we still could not contain ourselves. To this day, every once in a while, one of us will point at the other and say, "Don't look at me! Turn around! I don't like people laughing at me!" and we will all start busting up. Ahhhh...church giggles.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Look Through Media at Women in the Middle East

I watched a really intense movie last night. It was called The Stoning of Soraya M. and it was extremely powerful. I've always kind of had an interest in regards to women in the Middle East. Back in my freshman year of high school, I read a biography entitled Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia which was written by American-born Jean Sasson who related the story of a woman she met while in Saudi Arabia. I hadn't known much about women's rights in the Middle East before then, and that book really opened my eyes. Since then, I've had a desire to learn more. I read Reading Lolita in Tehran a few years ago, which is amazing, by the way. Once I'm finished reading my current book (The Collected Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald...I find everything he writes absolutely delicious) I'm planning on reading a book my mom just sent me in the mail entitled Unveiling Islam, which is more of a look inside Muslim life and beliefs than a focus on women's rights, but I'm interested in learning more about that, as well.

Have you ever seen the movie Not Without My Daughter? It will totally freak you out. It's based on a true story of an American woman (played by the amazing Sally Field) who was married to a Middle Eastern man who had immigrated to the United States. She and her husband and daughter go to the Middle East to visit her husband's relatives, and her husband decides they are going to stay there... permanently. This woman can't bring her daughter back to the United States with her, because Islamic law states that her husband has full custody and he gets to keep her. She loses all of her rights in that foreign land. It's frightening, and you should watch it.
The movie I watched last night was based on a true story concerning a woman named Soraya, who lived in Iran and had a husband who wanted to divorce her so he could marry a fourteen year old girl. She refused to get a divorce because she knew there was no way she would be able to support her family without his financial help (because he wouldn't pay her anything once they were divorced). Her husband rallies other men in the village to figure out what they can do to convince Soraya to divorce him. They offer her a job cleaning a man's house...that way she can earn her own money and eventually divorce him when she has made enough to live on her own.

So, Soraya works for this man, knowing this is the only way out of her abusive marriage (her husband regularly beats her) while still being able to take care of her children. Well, her husband says that the wait is too long for her to save enough money, and he wants to get rid of her. He asks his friend to help convince the people in the town that his wife is having an affair with the man whose house she is cleaning. A woman cheating on her husband is considered a serious offense, and is punishable by death under Islamic law.

Soraya's husband convinces his friends to say that they saw his wife with this other man, and he even goes to the man and threatens to kill him and put his son (who is mentally challenged) in an institution if he doesn't tell everyone that he had an affair with his wife. The man is frightened, so he tells everyone they had an affair, even though it is nowhere close to the truth. The men in the town have a trial, declaring Soraya guilty of adultery, and have decreed she must die.

As you can guess by the title of the film, she is stoned to death. I knew people were stoned to death in the Middle East, but I always just pictured it as the person running around and people throwing rocks at them. This is not the case. They buried her waist deep into the ground, and tied her arms behind her back, leaving her completely helpless.
Like I said, I knew from the beginning of the film what was coming, but when the scene came where they showed her being stoned to death, I lost my shit. I started bawling. (And I am not a crier.) At first, they take turns throwing rocks at her, beginning with her own father. After that, her husband throws a rock that hits her right in the head, sending blood down her entire face. Then, her two sons both take rocks and hit her with them. Then, all the men in the village begin throwing stones at her. It was so brutal. To think that something like that happened . . . is still happening . . . makes me feel sick. To think that we, as human beings, can inflict that kind of pain on another person, and get enjoyment out of watching them suffer, is sickening.

The husband never even ended up marrying the fourteen year old girl, and the town soon found out that the alleged affair had been a lie. But no one seems to be too upset about it except Soraya's aunt. The day after the stoning, a French journalist was passing through the village, and Soraya's aunt tells him the entire story, because she wants the world to know what happened. The journalist tapes her recounting of the entire event, but when the men of the village find out, they try to steal it from him. He eventually gets away with tape intact and that is how Soraya's story is known.

Is that not the most awful thing you've ever heard? When I hear about these horrible events, it makes me want to do something, but what, I don't know. What can I do? The change has to come from within that society, and I don't see that happening. One thing is for sure, it makes me grateful that I was born in the US of A, baby. Sure, we have our problems, but we have a lot to be thankful for.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

all about hoarding

As you may remember, I have an obsession with the television show Hoarders. I was checking out my Netflix, and I saw that it came out on DVD recently, so that immediately was at the top of my queue. I eagerly awaited its arrival, and I have been watching Hoarders Season 1 since. Actually, I watched the whole thing already. It was amazing.

Some episodes were definitely better than others, but there was one woman that I considered to be the worst of them all. I would say they're all pretty bad, and a lot of them are so disturbing on account of how disgusting their house gets, but this woman's hoarding problem was shocking not because of how filthy her house was, but because she had more stuff piled in her house than anyone...EVER.

When they piled all of the stuff from her garage out into her yard, it was shocking how much was laid out there. And she wouldn't/couldn't part with most of it. So they ended up packing away most of the stuff in boxes, and sent them off to multiple storage units she had decided to rent. They said there was over 1400 boxes of stuff in those units. Is that not absolutely crazy?
 
At the beginning of every episode, there is some text that says there are more than 3 million people who have a problem with hoarding. That's a lot. I'm sure the majority of them are not to the state of the people on the show...that they have a more manageable hoarding problem. It got me thinking about the people I know and whether or not they have problems with hoarding.

Okay, from what I gather from the television show, people seem to hoard for four different reasons: 1. the stuff has sentimental value to them, they have an emotional attachment to it or they keep it to help them remember things 2. they think the objects are valuable or can be sold with some repair work done, so they keep them because they think they are worth value 3. they are convinced that the things they collect will be useful to them someday 4. they just never learned how to deal with handling their possessions, and so they let it accumulate (to me, this seems like the worst excuse ever, but, it is what it is).

My mom would probably kill me for writing this (so don't tell her) but she has a small hoarding problem. Her hoarding falls under reasons number 1 and number 2 above. She has a bigger problem with reason number 2. She hoards magazines and TV guides that are years and years old, because she thinks they will be worth something someday. She literally has stacks and stacks of magazines. Most of them she moved into the attic because my aunt told her she needed to get rid of them, and my mom couldn't part with them, so she stashed them away where no one could see them up in the attic.

I think she's like any other mom in that she keeps a lot of me and my brother's childhood things, but they're all packed away in boxes in the attic. She also saves cards for sentimental reasons. I'm talking birthday cards or Christmas cards, whatever the occasion, if she really likes the card or it's from someone special, she dates the back of it and stores it away. But, believe me, her house does not look all cluttered and messy. She is very organized in her (minor) hoarding.

I'm not going to let myself off the hook, though. The more I thought about whether or not I had any issues with hoarding, I came to realize that mine has to do with recyclables. Since I am having trouble recycling items here in Colorado, I have been keeping them in garbage bags and different bins, just letting them accumulate into a giant mass. I guess part of it is reason number 2, because I know we can get money for turning them in, but that's a very small part. Really, it's more reason number 1. I know that sounds strange that I have an emotional attachment to recyclables, but I really, honestly, cannot throw them away. I literally can't do it. When it's gotten to the point that something had to be done, they were thrown into the garbage and it made me feel so bad...really, really BAD. I just hated knowing they were in the trash. But then I start collecting them again. So, see? I have a problem, too. (Even though I think mine is a little different, because if I COULD recycle them I would get rid of them.)

How about you? What do you hoard?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kiddie Confusion: Father's Day Edition

Let me start off with a Happy Father's Day to all the daddies out there! (Including my dad.) Yet again, just like Mother's Day, this is the very first Father's Day that I haven't spent with my dad and it makes me sad. But just like my mom spent this past Mother's Day with her mom, my dad is spending this Father's Day with his dad. So I guess it works out.

So, with it being Father's Day and all, I'm dedicating this post to a Dad Kiddie Confusion. This Kiddie Confusion is one my dad experienced as a child. When I was little and had asked my dad about blood brothers, my dad had shared something that he had been confused about when he was a little kid. (I think he told me about it so I'd feel better.)

He said when he was about the same age (8 or 9) he had learned about how the Earth was rotating all the time. He didn't understand why, when he jumped into the air, the Earth didn't move underneath his feet....therefore enabling him to land in a completely different spot. I remember reflecting on this at the time, and to me, his kiddie analysis made perfect sense. My dad then explained Earth's gravity, and how it kept us in place. Wouldn't jump-travel be awesome, though?

It's strange to think my dad was a little kid once...I only think of him of just being my dad. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What'd you learn in school today?

Don't you think it's weird, the things that we retain from our education? I will be the first to admit that I've probably lost a TON of knowledge that I've learned over the years. I think the little tid-bits of information we do manage to hold on to is interesting. Why do we remember this, but not that?

The earliest pieces of information I can remember learning are from the second grade. I can remember learning the different colors by their Spanish names, but the only one I retained was red, which is rojo. The rest I forgot. When we were learning about the weather, I can still to this day, remember the names of the different clouds. Isn't that weird? There's nimbus, the really dark storm clouds, then stratus, the gray rain clouds, there's cumulous, the big ,white, puffy clouds, and cirrus, the wispy, feathery ones. I also remember learning about evaporation, and that between two jars filled with the same amount of water, the one with the wider mouth will evaporate faster. (Common sense dictates this, now, but for a second grader, it was difficult. The point I'm making is that it's funny I even remember this little evaporation test. Our teacher had us guess which would evaporate faster and I had no idea, so I said the one with the smaller mouth would and I was bummed when I was wrong. I think that's why I remember it so well.)

In high school, I remember learning from my science teacher, that when you turn on a fan, it doesn't change the temperature of the room. The room doesn't become cooler, it just feels cooler to us because the air is being displaced. Every time I turn on a fan, this little piece of information always enters my mind for a fleeting second.

In a sociology class I took back at my junior college (I totally loved Sociology, I'm contemplating minoring in it) I learned a lot of really interesting things. The pieces of information that come back to me the most when I'm people watching involve couples, though. I learned that interracial couples are not very common (less than 6% of married couples are interracial) - that people tend to marry people of their own race. I also learned that couples usually have the same degree of attractiveness, and that many times, (I forgot the sociologic term for it) people choose mates that are close enough to their own appearance that they look like they could be siblings. Strange, isn't it? I'm always reflecting on this stuff whenever I am watching people in public. (I'm not creepy. Who doesn't like to people watch?)

Another thing I think about a lot was something I learned in a psychology class. I read that a lot of times, when we dislike someone, it is because we see traits in them that we deny/repress in ourselves. In other words, that person has some sort of personality trait that we see in ourselves that we don't like. Whenever I find myself disliking someone in one of my classes or wherever, I flashback to that piece of information. It kind of blows my mind, sometimes. The opposite is true, as well. People that we choose to be friends with, are people that we see as having the same traits that we embrace within ourselves. Basically, our entire lives, we are reflecting ourselves in the mirrors of others. The deeper I let my mind go into it, the more tripped out I get. (Psychology is an insane thing. I was thinking about becoming a psych major a few years ago, but as I delved deeper into it, I came to realize that I would, quite literally, become crazy if I continued studying it.)

What weird facts did you retain from school?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Free the Lady Bugs!

We get a ton of coupons in the mail, and I go through them and cut the ones out that I want to use. (I've become a coupon lady...shoot me.) But the other day, we got a coupon booklet for a Home & Garden Showplace, where there were coupons for flowers and plants and gardening tools. If we had a nice yard or a garden, I would totally be interested, but we don't. Just as I was about to toss it, I noticed a coupon for lady bugs. I took a closer look. There was a coupon for $7.95 in which you would get a bagful of 2,000 lady bugs, and there was even a picture of the bag with all the poor little lady bugs inside it. It made me incredibly sad. What do they do if no one buys them? Do they all just die, or do they end up releasing them without any profit? I mean, how sad is 2,000 lady bugs crammed into a teeny tiny bag? Pretty sad, me thinks. I'm giving some serious consideration to going and buying a couple bags so I could release them. Unfortunately, at $8.00 a bag, I think I'm going to have to wait until I get some more moolah before I can embark on my Free the Lady Bugs campaign.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Weak Week

I had a job interview, in which I didn't get the job. (Bummer.)

I read a book that I had been optimistic about, entitled Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky. I just finished it this morning and I was pretty disappointed with it. It is a fictional story that revolves around four teenage girls who make a pregnancy pact (remember that story in the news a couple years ago?) and how their mothers deal with it. I thought it sounded interesting...it wasn't. The four girls are basically the same exact character, and the dialogue is so unbelievable I found myself rolling my eyes more than once. The main character, Susan, who is not only the mother of one of the girls but the principal of the high school, takes a lot of heat for her daughter's pregnancy and has to deal with the possibility that she may lose her job. The story gets repetitive (the mothers are angry with their daughters, but wonder if the pregnancies are their fault because they're bad mothers...over and over and over) and the author tries to throw a curve ball by having one of the babies diagnosed with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) in which plenty of drama and personal angst ensues. And somehow, the book ends on a happy note, with three of the four girls taking care of their babies while not furthering their education, the mothers adore their grand babies, and Susan ends up happily ever after with her keeping her job, buying a new house, and marrying her daughter's father after 18 years apart. Blech. On to the next book on my bookshelf.

I did go watch Sex and the City 2 this week. I was stoked on it. There were a few parts that were over-the-top cheesy and I think the whole thing with Aidan was just fluff and unnecessary, but overall it was a lot of fun. I know it has gotten bad reviews, but I liked it. I enjoyed the TV show, though, so the movie would have to be pretty bad for me not to like it. I went by myself on Thursday afternoon, and I almost had the theater all to myself. There were only three other women, who also showed up by themselves, and I almost felt like asking them if we could all sit together and act like we were our own little group of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha for the duration of the movie. But, I didn't. (I would have totally been Carrie, by the way.)

Also, my apostrophe key on my keyboard has decided it doesn't like me this week, and I literally have to bang on it for it to show up. I hate that - it totally disrupts the flow of my typing.

Here's hoping to a better week this week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Learnin' 'bout Mormons

I made a personal goal for myself that I would try to read two books a month. So far, I've read nine books this year, so I'm a little behind. I just finished my ninth book last night, and it was so interesting, I felt the need to write a (lengthy) blog about it.

I don't usually read non-fiction (with the exception of true-crime novels, because I have a morbid fascination with serial killers) because I find them kind of, well, boring. The subject matter has to really interest me for me to get involved in a non-fiction novel. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer is an unraveling of the history of Mormonism. Krakauer has the case of Ron and Dan Lafferty at the core of his novel. In 1984, these two brothers killed their innocent sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, and her 15 month old baby, Erica Lafferty, because Ron had received a revelation from God telling him it was God's will that he murder them. Under the Banner of Heaven studies how the Mormon religion came into being, the initial teachings of Mormonism, and the history of this recently formed religion to help understand the Lafferty case. The book takes a particularly intense look at Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (extreme sects of the Mormon religion) in both present and past, as the Lafferty brothers were ex-communicated LDS who turned to the Fundamentalist LDS teachings.

I found the novel very interesting, since I've always had a certain adverse fascination with the Mormon religion. I knew that Joseph Smith founded the religion, but I didn't know much about him as an individual or the history surrounding the initial church. I learned that he started out as, basically, a phony. At an early age, he had "special" stones that he called "peep" or "seer" stones that he believed could tell him where buried treasure was. He was hired to find buried treasure for property owners and one prospector hired him to locate a rumored hidden lode of silver that had been mined by the Spaniards centuries earlier. Of course, he didn't find any of the silver, and he was later charged in court as being an impostor.

Want to know how the Book of Mormon was written? I swear, it is the most retarded thing I've ever heard in my life. Here's a short version: One night when Joseph Smith was 17, he saw an angel, Moroni, who told him that there was a sacred text with gold plates buried under a rock. Joseph supposedly dug them up, only to have the angel take them away because it wasn't the proper time. Moroni told Joseph that he would get another chance to receive the text when the time was right. Four years later, Moroni told him to get the text and Joseph did. Apparently, the text was written in an ancient language that Joseph couldn't understand. Moroni gave him special glasses that would translate the text for him. Joseph transcribed the text into English using these glasses. Joseph gave the papers he had transcribed to his friend, but his friend "lost" the papers. The angel was angry at Joseph for letting this happen, and he took the special glasses away so Joseph couldn't translate the text. That was when Joseph Smith used the previously mentioned "peep stones" to relate what is now The Book of Mormon. The entirety of The Book of Mormon was written by this process: Joseph Smith put the peep stones in a hat, then put his face in the hat, and he would then "see" what the words were and he would tell them to his transcriber. When the time came to publish his work, Joseph Smith didn't have enough money to do so, and asked his neighbor, Martin Harris, if he would pay for it. Martin Harris expressed hesitation in putting forth the money, and Joseph Smith told him that he had a revelation from God demanding that Martin Harris pay the printer, and if he didn't, he would die. So, Martin Harris paid the $3,000 advance required for the print. And that's how The Book of Mormon became printed. Retarded, right?

There were other things I found interesting. Joseph Smith told of a group that left Jerusalem 600 years before the birth of Christ that came here, to the U.S. This group ended up splitting into two separate, warring groups. One was the Nephites who were righteous and fair-skinned, and the other was the Lamanites, who were idle and full of mischief and the Lord was so annoyed by their behavior that he cursed them with dark skin. Native Americans, according to Joseph Smith, are descendants of the Lamanites. (Even though DNA evidence proves that Native Americans are not descendants of any Hebraic race, this is what Mormons believe.) The Lamanites ended up killing all of the Nephites, so that "explains" why there weren't any fair-skinned people in the U.S. when it was first discovered. Also, Jesus supposedly visited these people in America.

Then there's The Doctrine and Covenants, which is a LDS text that records the revelations that the Prophets receive from God. This includes the revelation known as Section 132, which is Joseph Smith's revelation that polygamy is God's will. While modern-day LDS followers have renounced polygamy (due to the fact that it was the only way the federal government would leave them alone) Many Fundamentalist Mormons practice polygamy. There are polygamous sects in Utah, Northern Arizona, Eastern Nevada, and other areas. There are men in these sects that have 20-50 wives and over a hundred children. Because polygamy is not legal, the men legally marry their first wife, and then take multiple "spiritual wives." According to the research done by Krakauer, the state, technically speaking, sees these spiritual wives as single mothers, and they are therefore allowed to qualify for welfare and other forms of public assistance. The polygamous community known as UEP that is in Arizona and Utah receives more than 6 million dollars a year in public funds. I don't know about you guys, but that makes me extremely angry.

For many years, until 1978, anyone other than white males was banned from priesthood within the Mormon church. After 1978, males of all races were allowed to enter the priesthood. (Women are still not allowed to enter the priesthood. The Mormon religion is very heavy in patriarchal beliefs. It was originally taught that a woman should serve the man. Most modern-day Mormons say they do not feel this way, but the Fundamentalists certainly still preach this.) So, the modern Mormon church allows African-American priests, but the official LDS policy has continued to strongly admonish white Saints not to marry blacks. Brigham Young wrote that anyone who committed such horrible sins as homosexuality, or having sex with a member of the African race would be punished, and "the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." Wow. Racist, homophobic, and sexist. Where do I sign up?

There is so much more I could write about this book and what I learned from it, but I will save that for you, the reader, to learn if you're interested. Seriously, you should read it. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. It's eye-opening.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

two bites at the cherry

Yesterday, I worked up the nerve to get a pair of scissors and walk down the street to cut some lilac off my neighbor's bush to bring back to my house. As I was trying to find the best blossoms to cut without taking too much time, I had a flashback of a summer my aunt came to visit my family in California.

My family loves cherries. We had planted our own cherry trees, but it takes forever for those things to produce fruit. One summer my aunt came to visit and there was a woman who lived around the corner from us who had a beautiful cherry tree, but she didn't pick any of them. As a result, they would rot.

We'd gone by this tree several times, when we decided, what the heck? If they weren't being used to their full edible potential, who would object to us eating them? We were driving by the tree when we decided to stop the car on the side of the road. We all got out and started picking, and then immediately consuming, the cherries. It was literally a drive-by cherry massacre.

After standing there for a couple of minutes, thoroughly chowing down on those cherries, my aunt said, "Oh my gosh! She's watching us through the window!" And we all looked up to see the owner of the cherry tree giving us the stink eye through her kitchen window, which just happened to be right next to her cherry tree. We all hurried back into the car and sped away as fast as we could.

This memory popped into my head as I was hurriedly trying to hack off some lilac branches to take back home. I had a feeling, based on the large "No Trespassing" sign they had posted on their door, that they wouldn't be too keen on someone "borrowing" their lilac. But, I didn't notice anyone watching through the window, and I was saved from any shame inducing stink eyes.

The worry was totally worth it, though. Now my living room smells of lilac.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Neighbor-Dogs

I try to take my dogs on walks as often as I can. I walk them to a near-by park and let them run around off their leashes as I sit down and read a book. During our walks, we come across other neighborhood dogs that I have made nic-names for. Want to meet them?

First, there is our neighbor's dog who I call the Evil Dog (I'll blog about it some other time) who ferociously barks and batters against his side of the fence as we go by. Then, on the corner of our street, there are the two dogs that I have dubbed Bizarro Ellie and Bizarro Sophie. (You know, like Seinfeld? Where there are characters who physically look like George, Jerry, and Kramer, but there personalities are complete opposites?) Anyway, these two dogs look similar to my dogs, with one being a medium-sized, blond Golden Retriever (Sophie) and the other a small, white, hairy counterpart (Ellie). Everytime we go by, they bark at us incessantly as my dogs have learned to politely ignore them.

There's also a dog right near the Bizarros I refer to as The Spazz because he spastically throws himself against his living room window in an attempt to reach us. Then, there's a dog that I like to call Sophie's Boyfriend. He is only out in his yard every once in a while, so we don't get to see him that much, but when we do, oh my goodness. Sophie is beside herself when she sees this dog. She tries to cross the street to get to him, and she cries and whimpers because she wants to go see him so badly. She won't stop craning her neck to look at him until we have rounded the corner and he's out of sight. Oh, puppy love.

When we get back from our walk, our other neighbor's dog is usually waiting on his side of the chain-link fence, watching for our return. This dog is one of the cutest dogs I've ever seen. He's a little skittish around people, but he's warmed up to me and I was able to read his name tag. His name is Koko. What kind of name is that for a boy dog? So instead, I affectionately call him Bruiser. He's full of character. He is able to jump over to our side of the fence by using a stump, and he performs very interesting tricks with his rope-loop toy. He flings it into the air with his mouth, and then catches it around his neck. I was impressed the first time I saw him do it. He sometimes sits atop his stump and watches me if I'm doing something outside. I don't like his owners very much, though, because I never see them play with him and he's always alone. They leave their gate open all the time, and as a result, I've caught him in the middle of the street more than once. I've had to herd him back to safety into his own yard. He's pretty cute, though, that Bruiser. Here's a picture of him supervising my outdoor work:
And those are our neighbor-dogs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Flower Thoughts

Recently, my street has exploded with lilac blossoms. I always see lilacs as the sign that spring is here. There are at least four huge lilac bushes on our street, and they are overflowing with lilac. I love walking by them, it smells so wonderful. Lilac is one of my very favorite scents because it's so soft and delicate-smelling. It has a sweet fragrance, but it is not too sweet.
It makes me miss our old house back in California, where we had a lilac bush in our backyard. I used to cut some lilac to bring into the house and our rooms would smell so good. We also had a lavendar border planted in our front yard, and I would cut that and bring it into the house, as well. The lavendar smelled good, but I always liked the lilac better.
We had three rose bushes in the front; I don't know the names of the specific types of roses they were, but there was one that had tiny, pink roses. Another had really large, yellow blossoms, and the third had medium sized roses that were yellow and red. My favorite rose bush was in the back, though, right next to the lilac bush. That rose bush produced the most beautiful, perfect, dark-red roses. I used to set up vases of roses around the house. I love the way roses look, but I don't like the way they smell due to an early childhood memory that I'll share some other time.
As much as I liked the other flowers I would put around the house, the lilacs were always my favorite. So, I've been thinking about whether or not anyone would care if I went and cut some lilacs off of one of my neighbor's bushes. I mean, they are sooo big and there's sooo many blossoms, would anyone really miss them? But, I feel like it would be weird to just walk up and start cutting flowers off my neighbor's plants. I think I'm going to have to be really stealthy about it. The thought of a lilac-scented house is just too tempting for me to pass up.
(All these pictures of lilacs are pictures I took of the ones on my street. Isn't the first picture crazy? That is the biggest lilac bush I've ever seen!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Undercover Ellie

Where, oh where, is Ellie at today?



Wait a second...









There she is!