August 31, 2004

 i can't belive what i'm saying

i can't believe it myself, but i agree with pat buchanan.

this morning on "the connection" the topic was "bush as war president". i generally turn off the radio when "the connection" --a program i actually love-- focuses on iraq... i'm just tired of hearing about it. i've made up my mind, i know how i feel, and i personally see little reason to keep listening to arguments about the bungled war.

but something in the program this morning caught my ear and i stayed tuned in. i'm glad i did, because in the second half of the hour pat buchanan joined the discussion... and he surprised the hell out of me.

pat buchanan has written a book called "where the right went wrong", and he's here to say that he thinks EVERYTHING about iraq was mishandled. he has no problem speaking out against bush's decisions regarding "the war on terror"... i only wish kerry could speak so plainly. i found myself nodding my head in agreement with everything buchanan said.

of course, after a few minutes of vehement speech buchanan then goes on to say he supports the president's social policies, yadda yadda yadda (he was joining this discussion from the republican convention, after all)... but i'll give him that. to each his own. believe what you want to. it's the mere fact that i heard a republican considering something other than the 'party line' in regards to the war which impressed me to no end.

politics is never black & white. people who classify themselves as strictly liberal or strictly conservative are doing themselves a disservice, i think, by not being open-minded enough to consider that 'the other side' may have a couple of good ideas. (i classify myself, for what it's worth, as a democrat with occasional libertarian leanings.)

so --and this feels totally weird to say-- i feel like pat buchanan is a progressive voice of reason within the republican party when it comes to iraq. go figure.

Posted by xta at 11:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

 nutritional supplements - biotin


i take 1 1000mcg tablet daily (333% of rda)

this is a vitamin i began taking solely because of my alopecia.

from "prescription for nutritional healing"

sufficient quantities of biotin are needed for healthy hair and skin. one hundred milligrams of biotin daily may prevent hair loss in some men. biotin also promotes healthy sweat glands, nerve tissue, and bone marrow. in addition, it helps to relieve muscle pain.

a deficiency of biotin can cause anemia, depression, hair loss, high blood sugar, inflammation or pallor of the skin and mucous membranes, insomnia, loss of appetite, muscular pain, nausea and soreness of the tongue.

it's funny, isn't it, that a vitamin you've never heard of could be so essential to so many things...

every time i visit my dermatologist for my hair loss, i hear "biotin, biotin, biotin." i even have a biotin shampoo (which i admit i have abandoned in favor of curlfriends ;-)

i should also admit that my alopecia hasn't been cured (nor will it ever be, i suspect) but i feel like the hair i DO have has gotten healthier since i've been taking the biotin supplement.

Posted by xta at 12:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 30, 2004

 church signs

every day on my commute i pass a church that has the money-grubbingest signs. sometimes when i read them my jaw drops in disbelief.

last week's sign said something like:

u can't take your money to heaven
so send it ahead before u go

then the back side of the sign said:

we'll ship it for you


the sign is different this morning. today it says:

when the heart is converted
the purse will be inverted
Posted by xta at 11:43 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 29, 2004

 things that make me happy

a clean kitchen countertop
sleepy kittens
dark columbian coffee
my brother
really good dark chocolate
a comfortable chair
ray's singing
readers write

Posted by xta at 4:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


last night i dreamt that i went shopping with 2 or 3 of my girlfriends. (don't worry... it wasn't you. they were faceless, nameless people, as often occurs in dreams.) when we got to the mall, though, our number expanded when we happened upon friends of friends, who then joined our group.

there emerged from our crowd one clear leader, a stranger to me who wanted to go to shops i had no interest in. i walked around with them, but felt unfulfilled by her choice of stores. she then convinced the group to dine in a restaurant too expensive for my budget. i finally decided i didn't want to be with them anymore... i was getting restless and my day was beginning to feel wasted, so i decided to go eat at a cheaper place -- by myself. there were protestations from my friends, but i wasn't going to be dissuaded... i really wanted to separate myself from them for a while. i went to the food court and ordered beef lo-mein. (the rest of the group were going to have a champagne lunch at a sit-down bistro.)

after i ordered my food i discovered that there was no place left to sit and eat. an attractive young man (who looked like justin theroux, hubba hubba) offered me a seat at his table. he was by himself, too.

we had a marvellous chat, very friendly and intellectually-stimulating. he was confident and somewhat flirty, but i felt totally at ease with him... i didn't feel like he was hitting on me or anything. he said he was on his way to see a movie, and would i like to join him? i agreed without even asking what movie it was.

the film turned out to be an entertaining amalgam of cartoon and science. i remember being amazed that i learned something new during that movie... a scientific concept i never thought i could have grasped, but the information was presented in a way i really enjoyed. i felt smart and happy afterward.

as we left the theatre this attractive young man and i exchanged phone numbers... i knew i needed to leave his company and somehow find my girlfriends. as i walked away, feeling immensely satisfied with my life, i realized that i would have never had this amazing experience had i simply stayed with my crowd.

Posted by xta at 11:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 28, 2004

 nutritional supplements - vitamin e

vitamin e

i currently take 1 400 iu softgel each day (1333% of daily value)

from "prescription for nutritional healing"

vitamine e is an antioxidant that is important in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease. it improves circulation, is necessary for tissue repair, and is useful in treating premenstrual symdrome... [snip] ... it reduces scarring from wounds, reduces blood pressure, aids in preventing cataracts... [snip] ... in addition, it promotes healthy skin and hair, and helps to prevent anemia...

goodness, i just learned something.. it also says, "if you take both vitamine e and iron supplements, take them at different times of the day." it sounds like iron can either *destroy* vitamin e or leave it intact, depending on which variety of iron you're taking.

vitamin e is also found in vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.

i first discovered vitamin e after i had my carpal tunnel surgery in 2002. my orthopaedist said that to reduce scarring i could just puncture one softgel and rub the vitamin e directly onto the wound. when i read more about it (particularly the part about healthy hair, and --once again-- PMS) i decided to start taking supplements every day.

not a bad idea to try to fend off cancer, either. both cervical and breast cancer run in my family.

i generally buy the nature made brand, but only because you can earn points on their website when you purchase their products.

Posted by xta at 3:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

 brussel sprouts

i've never been crazy about brussel sprouts. i've always had them boiled or steamed, which results in just too much intense, mushy yick for me.

but last night i learned a new way to prepare them:

cut the brussel sprouts in half and sauté them in butter and curry powder.


Posted by xta at 10:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 27, 2004


my brother, rob, and his family (lulu on the right, roxi in the middle) are arriving in north carolina (from colorado) tomorrow.

they're going to spend saturday evening with us before heading to topsail beach to be with her family for the week. they'll be back in durham labor day weekend and I'M SO UTTERLY PSYCHED that i think my face will bust into a million pieces from grinning so hard.

yay! family bonding, beers, and golf. i predict some golf.

oh. you know what? i don't think i've ever explained the word "tusselwupper", and i feel i must.

my brother's last name is wessel.
lulu's last name is tupper.

when they got married they talked about hyphenating (yuk) or one taking the other's name (double yuk), and finally --jokingly-- settled on combining their names.

into tusselwupper.

in fact, the file name for the picture above is "twup.jpg". tee-wup! love it!

ray (ubinger) and i (wessel) couldn't resist combining our names either, just for fun: we're ray & christa wessubingel.

we made up a good one for sarah (ovenall) & georg (patterson) too: povenattersall.

Posted by xta at 1:19 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

 nutritional supplements - evening primrose oil

when ray came into my life a lot of things changed.

the obvious stuff, of course... but there were also weird, small things that changed that i didn't expect.

vitamin supplements, for instance.

ray takes a lot of supplements. before i met him, i was lucky if i took a multivitamin a couple times a week. the longer we were together, the more i learned about the benefits of some of these supplements and the more appealing they seemed. one of my co-workers is quite passionate about nutrition, too, and at the peak of my interest she shared with me her copy of "prescription for nutritional healing".

what an amazing book. i pored over hundreds of pages of information about vitamins, minerals, and herbs. i also devoured the information about specific ailments and which supplements would provide beneficial treatment... treatment not just for the symptoms but the illness itself. (hence the word "healing" in the title of the book...)

suffice to say, i currently take about a dozen supplements a day (and now own my own copy of The Book). last week lisa suggested i do a series of entries on this topic, in order to share what i've learned over the past few years. i thought that was a fine idea.

i should first state that i'm absolutely NOT an expert, nor am i advocating you take any of these supplements without first checking with your doctor. i simply want to share a little of what i've learned. please don't consider any of this information to be complete, either. do your own investigation before deciding to add any of these supplements to your diet.

there. now that that's done, let's start with an interesting one:

evening primrose oil

i currently take 1 1000mg softgel a day of this "essential fatty acid."

first of all, a quick definition of EFAs:

from "prescription for nutritional healing:"

essential fatty acids have desirable effects on many disorders. they improve the skin and hair, reduce blood pressure, aid in the prevention of arthritis, lower cholesterol... [snip] ...found in high concentrations in the brain, EFAs aid in the transmission of nerve impulses and are needed for the normal development and functioning of the brain. a deficiency of EFAs can lead to an impaired ability to learn and recall information.

there are a two categories of essential fatty acids... omega 3s and omega 6s. i don't think i need to bore you with the difference between the two... just know that both are essential. (duh. that's how they got their name.)

evening primrose oil is an omega 3.

primrose oil contains the highest amount of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) of any food substance. this fatty acid is known to help prevent hardening of the arteries, heart disease, premenstrual syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and high blood pressure. it relieves pain and inflammation; enhances the release of sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone; aids in lowering cholesterol levels; and is beneficial for cirrhosis of the liver.

i've been taking this supplement for probably close to a year, and though it's hard to discern a clear "before & after" (primarily because i began taking a lot of my supplements at the same time, and it's difficult to attribute positive effects to one solitary supplement) i feel like i can safely say that my PMS is more under control than it used to be.

i mean, i still crave pizza the day before my period comes, but i'm now far less likely to rip off the delivery man's face for being 10 minutes late.

what's more difficult to assess is how evening primrose oil might be helping my heart and arteries. i'll just have to assume it does... my blood pressure is quite low (100/70, usually). also, my new doctor was pleased when i told him i was taking primrose oil daily.

i personally have experienced no adverse side effects from evening primrose oil, and The Book recommends that the daily requirement of EFAs (both omega 3s and 6s) "be satisfied by an amount equivalent to 10-20% of total caloric intake". (eh?) since there is no "us rda" value on the bottle, i just take one softgel a day as the label suggests.

Posted by xta at 12:30 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 25, 2004

 the first step towards admitting you have a problem is to have a problem

today i have watched 5 episodes, i think, of "six feet under."

i am obsessed, ok?

there... i've said it. i have a problem.

i've admitted it. and now i can also admit that during our last conversation, you & i, i wasn't paying attention. i was thinking about nate and brenda and how they have this irrefutable attraction that they are refusing to give in to. i was thinking about claire and how i wished i could have been like her at her age... so together and so fragile at the same time. i was thinking about ruth and her emerging sparkle.

i was thinking about them all. all of them! and i'm sorry i didn't pay more attention to you at the time. but this show is more addictive than fritos.

i have a problem.

Posted by xta at 10:31 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

 can you adopt cornwallis?

it's time to find the sweet boy a good home.

read more here...

Posted by xta at 3:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 23, 2004

 i am a lush

i got drunk 3 nights in a row.

wednesday night i helped mary weed through some of the clothes that have been in her closet since, like, 1991. (this is what we call the "what not to wear" syndrome, compounded by symptoms of "clean sweep".) we drank 2 bottles of wine that night. the two of us.

thursday night i was totally getting nervous about the impending hair makeover, and i had to go shopping for a new outfit because i just suddenly knew that everything in my closet simply wouldn't do. no, not at all. so after a quick run to the store i came home to ray and did a fashion show of my new purchases. and drank a bottle of wine.

then, of course, i drank too much friday night. the PR lady kept filling my wine glass... i had nothing whatsoever to do with it. i swear.

by the time i finally passed out that night i thought i would sleep like a baby... i'd been nursing these little wine hangovers for a couple of days and it was time to get rejuvenated, dammit!

but no. i got a mere 5 hours of sleep friday night before i woke up with cotton mouth and a pounding head. i got up to get a glass of soda and 4 tylenol, then i got back into bed... but i couldn't get back to sleep.

that's the thing about me: once i've woken up, that's it... i can never get back to sleep. i envy people that can do that. i swear, i think about it all the time... about how people can just fall asleep whenever they want and, like, stay that way for as long as they want. (case in point: ray slept for 13 hours friday night!! 13 fucking hours!!) but sleep is something i am apparently not very good at. i can try it on for size, but then it just seems like i want to return it for no good reason...

...unlike the outfit i bought thursday night, which was quite smashing, i thought. (it's what my "after" photo was taken in: a light blue blouse with a very plungy neckline.)

anyway. the weekend was pretty much a wash because of my lack of sleep. i was grumpy and aimless. and i have a headache right now to boot.

the best thing that happened this weekend (other than the makeover itself, of course) is that the director of the durham symphony called me on sunday and asked if i'd play 4th horn this season (in addition to my stage managing duties, of course). i said yes. i guess this means i have to start practicing.

Posted by xta at 3:42 PM | Comments (4)

August 21, 2004

 the event

I'm a little nervous... this was taken right after the "before" photo. That's Antonio in the background.

My friends start to arrive.

It's actually turning into a party!

Antonio begins cutting my hair while it's still dry.

I have to sit in this space-aged steam helmet while the hair color does its thing.

Ew. Goo.

An event!

I like the color! It's darker...

Amy (the PR agent) and David (salon owner) listen while Antonio talks about the cut.

Oooh, it's looking good!

"Can you bring me more wine, please??"

I sneak a peek while Antonio has my hair flipped over.

Amy applies my makeup for the "after" photo.


My boyfriend likes it, too.

the hair makeover was really fun!

ray & i got to david's salon at 6pm, and amy (the pr agent) was preparing the wine & cheese. she was an L.A. fashionista (sarah later told me she was wearing a dior belt; i hadn't noticed) and i felt a little hick around her. she was nice, though, and she made us feel at ease.

we met antonio right away... he was so sweet! he's a celebrity stylist, but has no ego about it at all. he's very funny and personable and always seemed to have a sincere smile. i liked him immediately. i asked him whether he thought he'd cut my hair any shorter, and he said "actually, i think i'd let it grow out a little." that was kind of a relief.

because it seemed that there wouldn't be a lot of cutting, he & david talked about how to make a more dramatic difference in my hair style. david suggested he give me some color. that hadn't been part of the original plan (in fact, i'd been told that i would absolutely not get color as part of this hair makeover), but next thing i knew the two of them were poring over books of color samples.

(a big shout-out to david here... the color was a big courtesy on his part. antonio hadn't come prepared to do any color at all, so he used the supplies in david's salon... and david himself applied the color.)

amy then wanted to set up my "before" photo. she had me change into my purple blouse (she didn't like the pink polka-dots i was wearing) and sat me down and ordered me not to smile when she pointed the camera at me. (do you know how hard that is?? the whole event was making me nervous, the anticipation of it all, and giggling is my standard response to situations like that. i practically had to frown in order to keep myself from smiling. i'm sure i look miserable in the "before" photo.)

my friends started arriving a few minutes before 7. as it got later, amy kept looking at her watch and saying, "tell me when you think all of your friends are here." she was totally eager to get the event started.

i don't think i ever saw any press arrive, but i could be wrong about that. there were supposed to be 2 magazines there ("metro" and "carolina woman") as well as a couple of TV cameras. amy told me later that she got a call on her cell midway through the event... there had been a high-speed chase in town, so the cameras were otherwise occupied. oh well. :-)

after about 15-20 people had shown up we started the makeover. i think it must have been around 7:30 or so when we finally began. antonio sat me down and almost immediately began cutting my dry hair... and i immediately commented on that. he said with curly hair you want to make an initial cut while it's dry, letting the scissors cut with the each curl and not into each curl. he would pick up a ringlet and cut the length to the shape of the curl. it's hard to explain, but fun to watch.

this whole time i don't think more than a couple of my friends were really observing the makeover. there was too much wine & cheese to be had, i think, and there seemed to be an almost constant din of talking and laughter in the salon. david & a couple of his employees watched the whole process carefully, though, looking at this expert cut my hair. it almost seemed like a training session for them.

after the dry cut, david applied my color. i kept drinking wine. they then put me under this really weird steam helmet thing to get the color to absorb. while i was sitting under that thing, pinky came and talked to me but it was hard to hear her... everything was really echoey under there. i kept slouching down in the chair just so i could look under the rim of the helmet at her, but paula (one of the salon employees) reprimanded me. gently.

once the color was rinsed out antonio started shaping my wet hair. it was at about this point that i looked at myself in the mirror and i suddenly thought, "oh my... this is really happening to me!" it sounds weird, but i guess i had been running on a sort of auto-pilot up until then. celebrity stylists just don't fly in from NYC do my hair very often, and i think the shock of that reality had numbed me a little... i had sort of removed myself from fully grasping what was going on. it hit me halfway through the evening, though, and everything seemed very intense from then on. (in a good way... i felt kind of hyper-aware.)

or maybe it was just the wine.

after the shaping was done, antonio began styling my hair with the curl friends products. he took the time to tell me what each one was for, and as we chatted i learned that he loves classical music. we talked about his favorite composer, johannes brahms (and we even started singing part of the 3rd symphony together; too bad the salon was filled with so much noise that no one heard us) and he said he'd listen to my station online when he got back to new york.

he twisted my hair (a technique i've had done a couple of times) and he gently blew it dry (something he actually recommends against for curly hair), then with a couple of flips and some final touches he was done. it really looked amazing. soft waves of dark color. it felt wonderful.

then amy took me to the back room and applied a TON of makeup to my face in preparation for the "after" photo. i don't think i've ever worn so much makeup. i remember charlotte & deb being back there with us, and they were both totally slack-jawed at what was happening to me. deb looked incredulous... though i don't really know if it was in a "what the hell are they doing to her?" kind of way, or whether she just thought i looked particularly amazing. probably the former.

when i re-emerged into the salon, i think a few people said i looked like a star. i suppose stars are accustomed to feeling this pampered, though... and i'm not. it was an amazing, crazy experience.

then there was a small presentation when amy handed me another prize: a big gift basket full of curl friends products.

i had no trouble smiling for the "after" photo. then we took a picture or two with me & antonio (who also gave me his cell phone number and email address "in case i had any questions").

afterwards, a big group of us decided to go down to the wine bar for more booze. i invited amy & antonio, but it sounded like they had to catch a painfully early plane.

so about 8 of us walked down the street to the bar where deb (resident wine expert) picked out 2 incredibly good bottles of rosé. as we slurped them down we relived the evening's nuttiness. we then decided we were hungry and walked the 7 or 8 blocks to hector's, where we all got gooey cheesy burgers & fries. after that it was close to 1am, and we decided it was probably time to go home. there's only so much a gal can take in one night.

all in all, this was a wonderful experience. going into it, i was nervous... being the focus of all this attention is a little nerve-wracking. it was a HUGE comfort, though, having my friends around me (as well as antonio, who was fabulous).

so, if you'd like to see more, here's a 2:45 quicktime movie (17 MB) of the event. ray filmed some really fun moments and i edited a few of them together.

and there are even more photos, courtesy of sarah, ruby and lisa.



Posted by xta at 12:53 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

August 18, 2004

 impending hair makeover

so, my hair makeover is friday. did you see the press release? (there's a press release!)

you know what press releases are used for, right? to lure the press to an event? well, amy (the PR agent for this event) [holy crap... this is actually going to be "an event"!] says that a couple of 'news outlets' sound like they'll "bite", but she won't know for sure until friday.

about 12 of my friends have said they'd show up and keep me from collapsing from nervousness. if you'd like to come, too, let me know.

this is going to be totally nuts.

Posted by xta at 12:16 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

 mexican chicken casserole

i made this last night. i just took stuff i had in my pantry and created the recipe out of my head. it turned out pretty well.

mexican chicken casserole

4 chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion
1 can black beans
lots of cheese
1 cup uncooked rice
tortilla chips
mexican spices: cumin, cayenne, chili powder, taco seasoning

serves probably 4-6 hungry people


cook chicken breasts in a skillet with the chopped onion & can of tomatoes. add spices to taste and cook until chicken is just done through.

simultaneously start cooking the rice. add seasoning to taste. (some of the tomato juice would be good as the rice cooks... try this next time.)

when chicken breasts are done, remove them from the skillet and shred them. add the beans and cheese to the shredded chicken. (for cheese, i used 1/2 jar tostitos queso sauce and some leftover cheddar and colby-jack... this casserole could use even more cheese next time.)

mix the leftover tomato/onion glop from the skillet into the cooked rice, then add that to the chicken mixture.

pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and pop into a 375 oven for 15 minutes or so. top with crushed tortilla chips and bake a few minutes longer.

Posted by xta at 12:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 17, 2004

 the home improvement bug

the home improvement bug is biting again. (dammit, i thought i sprayed for that earlier in the season.)

last week my mom sent me 4 books... each one is part of a series on how to build furniture using the most basic lumber (usually just 2x4s).

here's a link to one of the books.

after browsing through them last night, i'm inspired to really start thinking seriously about my next house project: building a window seat in the kitchen.

none of the 4 books addresses such a project, though, so i'll more or less be on my own. but i think if i clearly read the instructions for similar projects i'll be ok.

i hope.

this is kinda scary, actually.

i think i'll set a tentative start date of mid-september. that'll give me time to do some more research (and some time to totally psyche myself out up).

Posted by xta at 3:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 16, 2004

 i saw willie nelson

yesterday, ray, charlotte, david & i drove to richmond to see willie nelson. this show was one of the "field of dreams" concerts that are happening in minor league ballparks around the country.

and to be fair, the show was not just willie nelson, but "willie nelson, bob dylan, and the hot club of cowtown"... but it's clear what my agenda was.

the seating was all general admission, but divided up into "field" and "stands" seating. we had "stands" seats and got there early to get a spot under the stadium's overhang. (as it turns out, it only rained for about 10 minutes during bob dylan's set... a shocker, considering we were still dealing with the remnants of hurricane charley.)

the sound was pretty terrible. very boomy. i don't know what i expected, but after seeing more than my usual number of "big" concerts this year (prince, hall & oates) i should have been prepared. when the hot club of cowtown came out we were stunned by how poorly we could hear them. the people down front, by the stage, seemed to be enjoying it, though, so we thought that perhaps it was only bad where we were sitting, up in the stands.

willie nelson was great, though. something about the nasal quality of his voice cut through the boominess. willie has such a nice rapport with his audience... he'd wave at people, and point and them and smile. he'd even take off his headband and throw it into the audience (then go tie another one around his head and repeat the whole process 20 minutes later). there is something magical about willie nelson that i can't even put into words... a twinkle in his eye, the smile-lines around his mouth... he's a lovely man, and i'm so thankful to have seen him.

i'm really reluctant to talk about bob dylan's set, though. i know very little dylan (just the hits, mostly) and was shocked to find that he's a total rock-and-roller now. electric guitars and big drum sets. not what i was expecting.

i was also not expecting him to stand at the side of the stage playing a keyboard all night. he never played guitar, and the only time he faced the audience was after his set was over and he stood and accepted the applause (i don't think he even really bowed... just stood there stiffly). the rest of the time we only saw him in profile, and his big black top-hat-lookin' thing obscured what little of his face we could see at that angle.

we recognized 4 of his songs: "i will be released", "it ain't me babe", "like a rolling stone", and "all along the watchtower." the rest just sounded like mooshy, unrecognizable rock & roll to me.

david & his pal, will, managed to sneak down into the field area during dylan's set, and he reported that the sound was much better down there, and that dylan even had a little rapport with the audience... things we weren't able to discern at all from our stadium seats.

(for what it's worth, we specifically opted for stadium seats, thinking that at least we'd be able to sit and have shelter. i'm glad we got those tickets, even though it meant we had to suffer through some bad sound. also, because the field was so soppy from the weekend rain, no lawn chairs were allowed on the field [as was initally advertised] and people were forced to stand on weird rubber mats.)

all in all it was a good night. relaxing. we ate tons of junk food, too (as charlotte is so kindly demonstrating below). the close-up photos of the willie were creatively taken by putting the camera lens up to our binoculars... that's why the quality is a little fuzzy.


Posted by xta at 2:22 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 13, 2004


hurricane charley is headed right towards sarasota, florida, where one of ray's sisters lives with her teenage son.

charley is now a category 4 hurricane (wind speeds up to 155mph). paula has decided not to evacuate. she is riding out the storm in her "concrete block house".

i am watching the weather channel here in the air-studio at work, and am transcribing updates and emailing them to ray.

he is worried for her safety, as am i.

Posted by xta at 2:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 12, 2004



Posted by xta at 10:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

 i don't read books

when do people find time to read novels?? it's always been a mystery to me. books require such committment.

i have gobs and gobs of magazine subscriptions, though (several of which * i think i'm going to give up):

the sun
entertainment weekly
real simple *
budget living *
harper's *
utne *
cuisine at home
stay free!

yes, i do like my magazines... primarily because they consist entirely of brief nuggets that are easy to read in bed before the lights go out. with magazines, i don't have to worry about remembering what i read the previous night because they're all just short articles requiring no continuity.

but i am going to read a book. yes, i am! i just learned about this book today, and i'm not going to order it from amazon (big brother and all) but i am going to stop by the regulator this very evening and buy myself a copy.

years ago (when i apparently had loads of free time), i read nicholson baker's "the fermata" (ooh la la!) and "vox" (ooh la la la LA!) and loved them both. they're all short ("checkpoint" will make excellent bedtime reading at 128 pages) and conversational. just my style.

(of course, if i were really worried about big brother i wouldn't be blogging this, would i?)

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August 11, 2004

 pictures i've wanted to take this week, but haven't, for one reason or another:

1) the weird white wrapping that's now encasing the "heart of durham" motel.

2) the destruction of beautiful old trees on highway 98, just inside wake forest town limits (at the behest of the local power company, of course).

3) me, digging verrrry deeply into the back of the kroger freezer case, desperately searching for a pint of ben & jerry's "oatmeal cookie chunk" ice cream that's just got to be back there...

4) mimo (one of my cats), stretching on his side on the rug in such a way that it looked like he was trying to fly.

i have a digital camera, of course... if i ever carried it with me i could have gotten a lot of great photos this week.

i'm actually thinking of investing in a PDA that plays music, takes photos and organizes my life... all at the same time.

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August 10, 2004

 more with the groceries

ok, well, as long as we're happy to talk about groceries, i'd like to mention this really weird thing i tasted last night:

mayfield brand snow cream.

you know about snow cream, right? (actually, i'm interested in knowing this about you... i grew up in indiana and never mixed vanilla & milk with any of the zillions of feet of snow we got... so is this a regional thing? it can't be southern --i mean, it hardly ever snows here!-- but the person i was eating it with last night told stories of collecting snow in pots and making her own snow cream when she was young and living in charlotte.) though the concept isn't new to me, i've never actually done it. made snow cream myself, that is.

but this stuff in the carton... if you close your eyes and imagine hard enough, it tastes like it could possibly be made of snow. it's not creamy like ice cream... it's icy like snow. (hard-packed snow, though, with artificial flavoring.)

last night, before the snow-cream-eating, we went to salsarita's. it is basically exactly like moe's, where we went a couple weeks ago... the same food, really. only they don't shout at you at salsarita's.
they also don't know how to sell you a whole pitcher of margaritas at salsarita's. "i'll have to phone my manager and see if we do that," the teenage cashier says. puh-leez. you'd think with a company name like that it would be a no-brainer... i'm tempted to write to that manager and insist they change their name to salsa-*not-too-serious-about-the-marga*-ritas.

Posted by xta at 1:51 PM | Comments (14)

August 8, 2004

 weekend report

saturday was all about the dog blog. i got up at 7am to go with charlotte to pick up cornwallis from the vet school, and somehow a million other dog-related things happened after that and i didn't get home until 6pm. the rest of the day was shot... i pretty much just collapsed on the couch and watched tv.

sunday i woke up with the intent of kicking some major butt on the freelance website i was hired to do. (i don't get paid until it's done, but i have already spent it all... in the form of getting the A/C fixed in my car. hence, my desire to finish it soon!) my progress was initlally hampered by laundry and housework, but i finally buckled down around 1pm and got a good deal done. the site is probably more than 1/3 of the way complete. what a relief.

then ray & i did our big monthly grocery shopping. we've finally got an efficient system in place... we were out of there in a little over an hour tonight, while it was still light outside! (a first!) what we do is... i carry with me the big shopping list but i dole out to ray a half-dozen things from the list to go after by himself. i give him a mini-list, of sorts, from the big list... usually all focused on the same section of the store. (the cleaning aisle, for example.) he comes back some 10 minutes later with the things he has collected, and that's one less aisle i have to go down. repeat as necessary.

mostly, i think ray just likes running around the store, feeling productive. if we both went down the aisles together he'd get totally bored in 2 minutes.

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August 6, 2004

 more than six feet under

so yes, it has been a very giving week. i've been up late most nights, dealing with dog stuff (tuesday night i was writing thank you notes until 2am). i was also asked to care for a friend's cat last-minute when she had to leave town. oh, and i'm chauffeuring a co-worker to the station every day for the next week while her casted arm heals. (a big sacrifice, actually, since i treasure that time in my little automobile cocoon.) a bunch of other stuff, too, has accumulated and sucked up every single bit of "me time" this week.

so last night i snapped. i'm not cut out to be so generous, i guess, because when i was asked to do a favor for someone last night i just lost it. i got pissy and pouty and ended up forcing myself into solitude just to get a grip. i watched possibly the saddest two episodes of "six feet under" ever created and sat on the couch and cried.

6 hours later i woke up with a headache and puffy eyes, still feeling pretty down. add to that the fact i've stupidly slipped back into listening to NPR in the mornings, and you can understand why i almost bit ray's head off when i discovered a glaring lack of coffee in the house. argh!

i decided to drive to ooh la latte to get a giant bucket of espresso, and when i stepped outside i was greeted by the most amazing weather. god, what weather! a surprising crispness in the air that made me wonder if, in fact, i had slept for 2 months and woken up in october. i drove with the windows open, my love-affair with A/C taking a (surely temporary) back seat.

1 vanilla latte and 25 miles of a wind-in-our-hair-commute later i feel a bit better. i'm still yawning every 3 minutes, unsure of whether i'll make it to 5 o'clock, but i'm not feeling like i'm going to dissolve into a puddle of tears anymore.

on a geekier note, does anyone know anything about bittorrent? i'm downloading the 3rd season of "six feet under" (jesus, there's no way i can wait until the DVDs come out next spring) and it looks like it's working, but i have no idea what kind of file i'll have when it's done (which will be 4 days from now!). i barely have the patience for this... i am tempted to just bid on bootlegged DVDs. this show has an unbelievable grip on me.

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August 3, 2004

 to change for the better

cornwallis is doing well. it's staggering the number of people who have stepped forward to help. i don't have the final figures yet, but i suspect by the end of the night the corn dog's bills will have been covered. this may sound totally cheesy, but i feel like for the past 2 days i have been a part of something bigger than myself. it feels good.


today, in between rushed errands and phone calls, i pulled through a convenient burger king drive-thru. as i was placing my order (when did they get those LCD screens?) a scraggly old homeless man approached my car. he kept a respectful distance but handed a small slip of white paper through my open window as i as completing my order. it was a coupon for one free whopper with a purchase of what i had just ordered. he gave it to me and smiled a gentle, hungry little smile. it was clear he was asking for my help.

i quickly spoke into the drive-thru speaker, "oh! can you add a whopper to that?? i have a coupon for a free whopper..." i saw it appear on the screen, then the 100% discount on the next line.

the old man said to me, "thank you, pretty lady," then turned around and walked behind the far side of the building. i drove ahead to the window, paid and waited for the food. as i sat there in my car i saw him amble up across the parking lot to where the burger king driveway meets the street. he stood there, 100 yards ahead of me, just looking around, watching traffic, patiently waiting for me to deliver the extra whopper. i realized the cashier hadn't asked for the coupon. i didn't offer it.

after the bag of food passed out of her window and through mine, i slowly drove up to the man. i got a better look at him... he was in his 50s, a gray ragged beard contrasting against his black face and dirty yellow shirt. i pulled his whopper out of the bag and handed it to him with the unused coupon. "looks like you can use this again," i said with a smile.

he bent down and looked through the passenger side window, smiled back at me and said, "thank you." then, "have a blessed day." i drove home with my dinner and saw him walk across the street with his.


i have had this jade plant for close to 10 years. it goes through phases of being unhappy with its life and drops its leaves as it resigns itself to death. but it never fully gives up, and a few months ago i set it in a sunny kitchen window and began watering it with wild abandon.

it recently rewarded me with a tiny little new branch:


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August 2, 2004

 can you help cornwallis?


cornwallis is a stray dachshund that was hit by a car this weekend. he has a fractured pelvis that will need surgery. the vet bill is expected to top $2000.

can you spare a few dollars towards his care? if so, you can find more information here.

thank you...

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August 1, 2004

 at the weekly peace rally at brightleaf square

my boyfriend is not at war.

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last week i had trouble sleeping. i would scrape consciousness several times throughout the night, each time waking with the thought, "i wonder what time it is?" it was almost like i was waking up just to see how long i'd been sleeping.

usually the red digital numbers were saying "3:32" or "5:12" or something equally terrible. i'd roll back over and have no trouble getting back to sleep, but still... the interruption made me very groggy. it was impossible to get through the workday without yawning.

so friday night i was excited to to go bed and catch up. i wanted to sleep late on saturday morning. i wasn't completely sure i could do it on my own, though, so i drugged myself.

i have a bottle of valium in my medicine chest. i don't know why i have it... the prescription is in my name, but it's past it's expiration date by a year or so. i took one of those little yellow pills saturday night... i slept for 11 hours. it was delicious. i woke up saturday morning feeling wonderful.

but i didn't trust my body to do it again on its own, so last night at bedtime i cut one of the pills and half. i slept for 8 hours straight.

i'm hoping this experiment has forced my brain into remembering how wonderful it is to sleep through the night. i'm not going to take a pill tonight.

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