Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Anne With an E

Have you all noticed the recent slew of articles about Anne of Green Gables? Yes, our favorite little red-haired orphan is turning 100 and someone in the Anne machine has done some great pr to mark the milestone. I've seen articles in Newsweek and on Slate and I'm sure there are others.

Let me first say how much I adored the Anne series. I read each of the books several times. As Anne progressed from the youthful exuberance of Green Gables, to the more contemplative Avonlea, to the good times of college on the Island and then to her teaching career, I was right there with her. Likewise, I read and wept as she and Gilbert as newlyweds lost their first baby while living in their House of Dreams and then again as she lost another son during WWI in the last novel of the series.

So Anne and I go way back, which is why I look at these recent media pieces with interest. Both seem to suggest (aside from noting the popularity of Prince Edward Island among Japanese tourists) that Anne is getting the short shaft in terms of her place in literary history. Anne isn't taught in schools and evidently she's hard to find in bookstores (Mom, don't throw out my old books just yet). Is it because the Anne books smack of feminism? After all, Lucy Maude Montgomery had to publish her novels as LM to gain the respect of her peers in a time when not many women were successful authors. All of the Anne books, especially the early ones, have the girls are just as good, as witty, as strong, and as fun as boys message. Reading the books all those years ago, I didn't notice this as a central theme. At the time, I was too interested in Anne's antics and relationships with the townspeople of Avonlea to spend much time thinking how strange it was that these books written 80 years ago feature a heroine. Besides, I was a girl and didn't need much convincing that girls were capable and fun. Reflecting back now, though, there is the girl power theme and the books are full of strong female characters who shape Anne into a strong woman herself.

Or are the Anne books not literary stars because they don't deal with heavy issues? Are these books with their pristine island settings just a little too wholesome to make critics pay attention? I don't think this is the case, because the books don't shy away from tough situations. Anne is an orphan and some people in Avonlea don't like her because of that. Also, these books show the realities of life and death (who can forget Matthew having a heart attack in the barn and Anne feeling guilty about it). And let's not forget the time Anne accidentally gets Diane drunk on strawberry wine. No, the Anne books aren't a Pollyanna romp through the a Canadian island, they're a bit more real than that.

I'm not sure what has kept the Anne books off the literary radar, but I'm so glad the books were part of my childhood. I'm also heartened to know girls now are still discovering the books, even if they are hard to find among the Gossip Girls series.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Can't Worry About It

Even though you wouldn't believe me if you glanced into my closets, I'm not really a shopper. If an item of clothing fits, is cute and the price is right, I'll buy it. Because of this trait of mine, I was very happy when I found out I could wear the same dress in two weddings this September.

We had first picked out this dress for my friend's Nicole's wedding on September 12. Then it turned out Chris' brother is getting married September 27 and his fiancee needed a bridesmaid. I stepped up the plate (or the altar so to speak) and in chatting with her one night, she mentioned she was looking for brown dresses. I just casually said I had a cute brown bridesmaid dress. One thing led to another and now I'm wearing the same dress for both occasions.

So at first I was happy to wear the same dress to both weddings, but now things have taken a turn for the bad 1980s wedding because Chris' aunt just called to ask me about dyed shoes to match. Oh, the horror!

Friday, July 18, 2008


I've often suspected our sweet little (or big as the case may be, Prada has gained another 10 ounces which evidently isn't healthy) cat has a mouth like a sailor. Now, I'm pretty certain of it. Last week Chris took Prada to the vet for her swollen, ouchy paw. I made it just in time to rush into the vet's office and announce to the waiting room that my husband and cat were there somewhere and I wanted to see them. Um, yeah, that was a little embarrassing. The vet wasn't quite sure why the paw was swollen; it could be because of a trauma and subsequent infection or from some crazy kitty immune problem. The vet gave Prada an anti-inflammatory shot. It worked for a bit, but by Wednesday of this week it was a little swollen again and Prada wouldn't put weight on it. After much discussion with the vet's office mainly involving me saying no, I'm not taking the cat back, just give me the damn antibiotics for her, I was able to get some medicine and strict instructions to soak the paw in warm water twice a day.

So now between holding her down and plunging her paw in water and holding her down and prying open her jaw to get the medicine down her throat, the cat has made sounds I can only imagine are nasty bad words. And who knew that the same yucky pink medicine given to children with ear infections is given to cats with bad paws. Remembering plenty of incidents where I was held down and my jaw pried open to get Amoxicillin down my throat, I gagged at the sight and smell of the bubble gum flavored yuck. I guess not wanting to take medicine runs in families and evidently so does cussing a blue streak.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back at Home

I survived my work trip to Miami. Do you remember how I said I could do the Seattle vibe? Well, yeah, not so much the Miami vibe. To be fair, I was staying in downtown Miami without a car. Still, not impressed and found the city to be a dirty, hard-to-get-around, unsafe feeling, concrete jungle.

An interesting part of my job is that I occasionally attend conferences for groups that I would otherwise not have contact. I've attending meetings for an investors club in Atlanta, health departments in San Antonio and Air Force officers in DC. This time around I was crashing the party of gay choruses. Not only am I straight, I also can't warble a single correct note. However, these were some of the nicest people I've met (and what a flair for style) and they made the trip worth it.

All of the groups I work with (and there really is a group for everything) often make me think that I'm not passionate enough about one single topic to join a group and travel to a meeting. I tend to think some of these people are just too into their thing, but I also admire their dedication. I don't think I'll ever attend BlogHer or a national yoga conference, but in my own way I'm just as dedicated to these hobbies of mine.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Since I'm leaving on a jet plane on Friday for an unexpected work trip, I wasn't too surprised when Prada came up showing some type of symptom of ailing cat. Before the honeymoon she came down with a nasty case of feline acne. Not to mention the huge bald spot she over groomed onto her back.

It seems the cat knows when I'm leaving and then deems it the appropriate time to have a kitty medical emergency. This time she is having some trouble with her left paw. She is limping around and doesn't like to put weight on her paw. She looks pretty sad and pathetic holding her little paw in the air. I can't get a good look at the paw pad, but it does look like there is some type of scratch that might be infected. The whole foot looks swollen.

I feel bad because our house has been a wreck lately and I'm afraid she might have stepped on some splinter of tile, a nail or other renovation debris. Plus, I'll be gone for several days and Chris will be on vet duty. So the guilt is wracking up for me as I begin to pack.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Crazy Old Coot

My brother T said it was a good thing I got married because I was starting to show the makings of a Crazy Cat Lady. To begin with, I don't know why it is out of line to ask if the cat can come to holiday meals. She is part of the family. Besides, what would the Simpsons be without the Crazy Cat Lady? For that matter, what would holiday meals be without impressions of the Crazy Cat Lady on the Simpsons?

So if I have narrowly escaped being the Crazy Cat Lady, I think I might have stumbled into even worse territory this weekend. After the torrential downpours ceased, I went to the garden on Saturday to assess the situation of what looked like drowned tomato leaves. What I found instead was a red aphid infestation. So naturally, I stood in the hot sun getting bit by mosquitoes for two hours spraying the tomato plants with a spray bottle of dish washing soap and water. I was wearing gardening shoes and a sun hat, because when you're a Crazy Old Coot, that's just what you do.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Back to the Weekend Routine

We haven't picked up the tiles from the store yet, so we could spend the morning in our usual summer Saturday way - walking to the Clintonville Farmer's Market. I still haven't visited the other markets around town this summer, but the proximity and quality of the Clintonville market doesn't give me any reason to try out the others. Plus, the Clintonville market has added some new booths this year, giving us new products to try out.

We got there there late this morning and it is still slightly early in the season for most vegetables, but we were able to pick up a few staples. The egg lady (Silo?) provided us with some darling and tasty little Buckeye eggs. She said the chickens were a heritage breed she rescued from a farmer who wasn't allowing them access to pasture so they weren't laying well for him. They're now laying lots of small eggs for her, but some are too small for Whole Foods to buy, so she was selling the leftovers for a good price today at market.

The new booths this year are dairy related. Earlier this year, I flirted with the idea of going dairy free for a 14 days to see what, if any, symptoms were alleviated. I couldn't kick the cheese habit and never made it more than a day or two without dairy. I'm sure glad I'm not trying to do the dairy free thing now, because fresh, local dairy is delicious. We picked up some whole milk (pasteurized, but not homogenized) from Snowville Creamery. The whole milk made for a nice addition to coffee and I can't wait to try making ice cream with the rest of the half gallon. We also bought some grilling cheese from Blue Jacket Dairy. It's a specially processed cheese where you can grill it and it doesn't melt, but gets a delicious salty, crunchy coating on it.

Since our tomatoes aren't ripe yet, we also bought a pound (really just two tomatoes) and then called it a day at the market. Trips to the Farmer's Market are one of my favorite things about summer weekends.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Long Weekend

If you've been paying attention, then you know a long weekend signifies Amy and Chris are tackling a project that is probably too advanced for them and won't be completed for another nine months. This edition: travertine tile back splash with lovely stainless steel accents. Really, it is going to be gorgeous and will really offset our new granite counter tops. Just don't expect the reveal anytime soon.

If we don't show up for your 4th of July cookout, please send a search party because there is a specialized saw involved in this project and I have my doubts.

And for our yearly dose of discussions of the Independence Day holiday, read this article and think about what being patriotic means to you. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Just to Prove...

...that I can get a haircut and not bawl my eyes out. And we're not just talking trim either, this is a full-fledged new hairstyle. I don't think I've sported bangs since the days of the kindergarten through second grade bowl cut. I was hoping this 'do would be a little edgier, but I'm just not sure I can do edgy. Maybe too smiley, but that's better than weeping. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Garden Update

Well, the rains have come. Along with them assorted bugs and lots of weeds. At least the vegetable garden seems to be doing well. Quick run down:
  • Tomato plants are getting big and bushy with lots of green fruit. Barring any major problems, everyone I know will be getting tomatoes in the next couple of weeks. Because I just don't do the canning thing and don't have room for freezing.

  • Pea plants are adorable. I love them, the flowers are dainty, the little tendrils are curly-cue magnificent and the vegetable itself is delicious. Unfortunately, I don't think we planted enough of these guys as other than snacking we haven't done much with them because they are only ready 3 or 4 at a time.

  • Cucumber plants are getting their vine on. We had to replant as the first seeds didn't germinate, but this batch looks good.

  • Hot peppers are looking good, as are the regular peppers. I just can't get that excited about peppers.

  • Fennel is feathery and fragrant. This year I will know to leave it in past where I want to pull it for a really good bulb.

  • Lettuce is overgrown and a mess. Our little plants are starting to bolt and I can only imagine the leaves are bitter and not edible (not willing to try at this point). Will get yanked this weekend.

  • The carrots aren't doing great. One row is being overshadowed by a bully of a tomato plant and the other row didn't really take off. I think we may get one or two actual carrots, which doesn't seem quite worth it.

  • And finally, yeah, for raspberries ripening at the appropriate time and thank goodness I don't have to pay $3 a container for them at the grocery.