August 31, 2005

 this feels so good!

so, last night during the power outage i decided to go out and run an errand instead of sitting in my hot house waiting for electricity to be restored.

after i picked up some things at home depot i started to head back home, but when i passed "ross" (dress for less!) i decided to stop in and try on some clothes to see if i've changed sizes yet. (i've lost 26 pounds so far.)

now, before starting the diet i was a size 20. when i got inside the store i pulled some size 18 pants off the rack, and --ever hopeful-- some size 16 pants as well. i even saw a cute pink skirt in size 14/16, and decided to try it on for kicks, too.

the size 18 pants fit perfectly. the size 16 pants were quite snug, but i could zip them up... barely. they weren't flattering at all, though.

and the size 14/16 skirt? i bought it and am wearing it today. ;-)


Posted by xta at 11:51 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 30, 2005

 not quite dead


this one doesn't outrage me the way some of the others have, but it still makes me scratch my head a little.

i mean, really... as far as i'm concerned they should have switched those adjectives.

Posted by xta at 9:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

 empty nest

ray is gone. he's in florida, visiting his family. he'll be back in 10 days.

he left saturday morning, and --truth be told-- i found myself really looking forward to having the house to myself for a while.

well, that feeling lasted all of 8 hours. saturday night, after the gaggle of women left the backyard pool party, the house started to feel really empty. at bedtime it felt strange locking up, all alone inside.

in his absence i hear no humming from the next room, no laughing. it seems very quiet. ray does a lot of work around the house, too, and now that i have to do it myself i'm really missing him -- a real whole super lot. cat-care, dishes, trash, bathroom-cleaning... it's kind of overwhelming.

but having friends over for a dip in the pool makes me feel less lonely. floating under the stars, gossiping and giggling with pals... it's just great.

the hidden message here is that you should come over for a swim soon, if you fancy that sort of thing. i promise i won't make you help me scoop the litter box or clean the toilet.

Posted by xta at 2:29 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 28, 2005

 "meme" is simply me+me

d'oh! i've now been tagged twice, so i guess i have no choice but to respond. they've got me outnumbered.

1.) How many books I own:
exactly one bookshelf-full. i don't buy a whole lot of books. i'm more of a magazine gal. (short attention-span.)

2.) The last book I bought:
"sleepaway" - a collection of camp stories.

3.) The last book I read:
as in, the last book i finished? that would be wendy's book, "i'm not the new me."

right now i'm struggling to get through "mozart in the jungle", a behind-the-scenes memoir about the scandalous behavior (sex, drugs, and, uh, rock and roll) of symphony orchestra musicians. go figure.

4.) Five books that mean a lot to me:

i only came up with four.

  • "haroun and the sea of stories", by salman rushdie
    Haroun Khalifa lives in the country of Alifbay, in a city so sad its inhabitants have forgotten its name. In spite of the permeating sadness, Haroun's father, Rashid, is extraordinarily cheerful. Rashid is a renowned storyteller. He knows so many stories and tells them so brilliantly that he is known as the "Ocean of Notions" and the "Shah of Blah."

  • "i thought my father was god", edited by paul auster
    culled from NPR listeners, this is a compliation of short (sometimes very short) true stories

    One writer, for example, begins her piece with the following statement: "Here is my story, the story I tell you when I know you well enough." In fact many authors begin with such flourish it becomes impossible to turn away. "Pork Chop" by Eric Wynn, starts, "Early in my career as a crime-scene cleaner. . ." and ends with "'Well hell!. . . Ya smell just like a pork chop!'" Here's another one, from "The Anonymous Deciding Factor," by Holly Caldwell Campanella, "I come from a family of morticians." Bruce Edward Hall ("$1,380 Per Night, Double Occupancy") includes in his story a detail worthy of Don DeLillo: "She likes to chew on fingernails but doesn't want to ruin her own& #133;so I give her mine."

  • "prescription for nutritional healing" by balch and balch

    if you read any of my posts on nutritional supplements, you get an idea of how important this book is to me.

  • "official scrabble players dictionary"

    i play online scrabble with a friend in alabama. this book comes in mighty handy

    5.) Who are you tagging?
    lisa, and whoever else wants to play.

    Posted by xta at 12:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
  • August 26, 2005

     mystery plants

    ray & i like to feed the birds.

    we have a hummingbird feeder that is very popular (and is, in fact, the cause of many hummingbird dive-bomb fights, each thinking there isn't enough sugar-water to go around) as well as a seed feeder for the other birds, which we usually fill with sunflower seeds.

    i was cleaning out our pantry the other day, though, and found a half-empty bag of mixed seed (corn, sunflower, millet, etc.) and decided to add it to the seed feeder.

    a couple of weeks later we have what looks like corn growing in the bed behind the house, just below the feeder. despite having grown up in indiana, corn capital of the universe, i still cannot determine for sure whether it's actually corn, or just a very, very odd weed. what do you think it is? here's a corn close-up if that helps.

    there's another new plant growing there too, right next to the corn. the leaves are really pretty, and --ray laughs when i say this-- organized-looking. to me this looks prettier than just a weed. but i have no idea what it is. this morning i noticed a couple of tiny yellow flowers beginning to bud, too.

    ray & i have had seed feeders in our yard for years and years, and never any weird plants as a result. i'm truly confounded. i'm extremely reluctant to yank them out, though, as i want to see what they become.

    (you can click the photos to make them big)

    Posted by xta at 10:21 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

    August 25, 2005

     nothin's plenty for me

    i've got nothin' for ya today, sorry. nothing of substance, anyway.

    i guess i could spend some time telling you how much i LOVE turkey pepperoni. i discovered that 17 slices have only 80 calories but a whopping 9g of protein, and now i try to eat it every day. i count out 17 individual slices and everything. it's very zingy.

    i could also tell you about my trip to the pool supplies store this morning. i went to a place called leslie's in raleigh, where they tested my pool water and found i'm good on chlorine but need to work on my alkalinity and pH. i wish i could pay someone to take care of all of this stuff for me.

    but then, this would be a good place to mention that i bounced a check this month. the first time in years. i guess i didn't need to buy that pool. or the $100 worth of supplies and chemicals. phooey.

    oh, and did i mention how much coke zero rocks the house? i don't know what they do to it that's different from diet coke, but it tastes a zillion times better.

    Posted by xta at 3:11 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

    August 23, 2005

     keeps on turning in my mind

    stars_on_45.gifi'm almost too ashamed to admit this, but i have become obsessed with stars on 45.

    i have several of their medleys on my ipod, and each time one comes up on random shuffle i am absolutely giddy.

    stars on 45, in case you blocked it out, was an evil invention of a dutch guy named jaap eggermont (formerly of golden earring, i just learned). he took a theme ("beatles", "stevie wonder", "abba", etc.) and layered a medley of songs on top of a relentless disco beat.

    listening to them today, there is nothing particularly inventive about these songs, but back in 1981 (when the beatles medley went to #1) it was pretty revolutionary.

    hearing this stuff makes me smile... the dumb-sounding disco beat, the --at times-- awkward transitions from song to song (which often simply consist of a foreign-sounding dude saying "one, two, three, four" during a two-bar bridge). they also tend to use a lot of ratchet sounds to cover up jarring transitions.

    it's all so goofy. and i love it.

    Posted by xta at 2:53 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    August 22, 2005

     here's what happens when you lose focus in the home depot:


    we went to home depot to buy a new vacuum cleaner. on the way to the vacuum aisle in i spotted a big pile of clearance merchandise. an odd assortment of stuff: lamps, drills... and this pool. it was marked WAY down to $99.

    i think the only reason it was on clearance was that the box had basically disintegrated. it seemed like all the parts were there, so without any real discussion on the matter --just a "wow!" and a "let's do it!" and a "why the hell not??"-- ray and i loaded the thing into our cart and we sped home.

    (we did manage to buy a vacuum cleaner, too, by the way... also for $99. i believe i will get more satisfaction out of the pool.)

    the filling process took much took longer than we wanted it to, and ray really wanted to get in as soon as there was the tiniest puddle in the bottom of the pool, but it's all filled now... and i can't wait to get in tonight!


    Posted by xta at 1:51 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

    August 20, 2005

     big beans


    i got some big beans at the farmers' market this morning.

    i think the vendor had labelled them "asian long beans", but she called them "yard beans... as in, beans by the yard".

    here's a better idea of how long they are.

    i hope they're good.

    Posted by xta at 10:08 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    August 19, 2005

     hello. i'm back.

    whew. what an exhausting couple of days. my webhost upgraded its operating system and inadvertently threw my movable type database into a tizzy.

    aside from the headache of trying to figure out how to fix it, the inability to blog resulted in an overwhelming sense of relief.. i didn't have to come up with anything creative to write about. it was a mini-vacation of sorts. (one which was filled with research and computing, but a vacation nonetheless.)

    well, as it happens, i still don't have anything creative to blog about, so i'll just talk about the most recently-discovered loco-pop flavors:

    sweet corn

    yes, sweet corn.

    mary called it "creamed corn on a stick". it's a little chunky and a little creamy. and it was good, if a little disorienting. secret: there's a little bourbon in it.

    summer said while she was apprenticing in mexico she learned how to make corn paletas with chili and lime. that sounds divine... let's hope that one makes it to the menu board soon!

    raspberry white chocolate

    man, those white chocolate flavors knock my socks off. this was very rich and very, very yummy.

    chocolate with rosemary

    unfortunately our stomachs got full before we could try this one. but you should try it, and you should tell me about it.

    asian plum

    this was the second time i've had this one. it is SO GOOD. plum, dry sherry, and chinese five-spice. it's divine. total yum.

    Posted by xta at 11:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    August 17, 2005

     practice does not make perfect

    i'm constantly amazed at the things i forget how to do.

    whenever i'm eating and i accidentally bite my lip i think, "i've been chewing my food for over 30 years and i still can't get it right!"

    for the last month or so, i've been forgetting to turn off the stove when i'm done cooking. i learned that concept when i was, like, six... i guess by thirty-six my brain figured it had mastered the task and just moved on to other things.

    well, this morning i rolled over in bed, feeling utterly relaxed... which is a big tip-off that something is wrong. i never feel fully rested when i wake up. i glanced at the alarm clock; it read 9:34.

    d'oh! i had forgotten to set my alarm when i went to bed last night. i've been setting my alarm for decades, and i guess i still can't get it right.

    Posted by xta at 12:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    August 16, 2005

     more about that god dude

    several years ago, after one of my grandmothers died, i sat in a car with my father outside a funeral home.

    he said to me, "one thing i regret is not providing a religious background for you and your brother." he was upset that rob and i had grown up without having gone to church.

    i looked at him and said, "quite frankly, i'm glad you didn't make us go to church. you gave us the ability to make our own decisions about religion."

    i don't think he really liked my response.

    his original statement may have been some kind of hidden judgement -- your life could have been a lot better if you had gone to church, and it's all my fault for not forcing it upon you. -- but more likely he was just sad that i don't share his beliefs.

    i do wonder, though... if i'd been forced to go to church, would i believe in god now? or would i still find myself sitting in a pew, as i did yesterday, just waiting for it to be over? if i had gone week after week, could they have pounded it into me, or am i just naturally wired to be a disbeliever?

    i know a number of people who went to church, uh, religiously as a kid, then "wised up" and lost their faith as a teenager or adult. i'm always curious to talk to these people and inquire about that moment when the light bulb went off in their head. "hey, you know, this really isn't for me." that moment fascinates me.

    i like to think there's something holding this universe together. some sort of harmonic frequency, maybe. an energy field of some sort. but i don't think it has anything to do with a conscious being, or a dude in white robes. whatever it is likely doesn't know that i exist, and doesn't care. but i don't know if i would have different opinions if dad had forced me to go to church when i was a kid.

    Posted by xta at 3:42 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

    August 15, 2005

     an alien in jesusland

    frosty's memorial service was this afternoon.

    it was in a church, as most memorial services are, i suppose. as a general rule, churches and i don't really get along. i always end up zoning out during the preaching. i never feel any emotion except for awkwardness. i feel out of place, insecure, and the whole congregational recitation in unison thing freaks me out, too.

    church is not a comfortable place for me to be.

    so i was glad that there was a small portion of today's service that was specifically devoted to remembering frosty's life. funny stories of his quirks and his manner. i got teary as i smiled at those memories.

    but then the psalms and the verses started up again, and i just sat there, waiting for it to be over.

    i feel bad saying this. i want to respect frosty's beliefs and say i walked away from the service with more peace and less sorrow over our loss... but i can't say that. i also want to remember this service as a wonderful experience. and in truth, part of it was -- but for me there was just too much church.

    i'm curious to know whether there exists any kind of congregation where there is no mention of god, or jesus, or any kind of saviour. where people, in a situation like this, just come together and talk and share stories and laugh and cry and console each other without the word of god floating about. that's the kind of church for me -- a godless one.

    i myself would have gotten much more out of a ceremony like that. i understand that there are hundreds of people that were helped and comforted by today's service, but unfortunately i was not one of them.

    Posted by xta at 5:49 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

    August 11, 2005

     we'll miss you, frosty...

    one of my co-workers died today.

    he left work early monday afternoon, not feeling well. he entered the hospital yesterday, and died early this morning. 72 hours.

    it's strange being here at work today. there are many, many, many tears, of course, even though it feels strange to be crying around people you work with. a couple of the people here aren't crying, though... they are the ones tasked with resolving the issues surrounding his absence (scheduling and whatnot), and i don't know if/when/how they'll find the time to grieve.

    me, i'm trying to say meaningful things about him on the air without falling to pieces.

    Posted by xta at 1:36 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

    August 10, 2005

     airborne cats


    i am so loving airborne cats right now.

    Posted by xta at 3:36 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    August 9, 2005


    people who make microwave popcorn in an office environment should be shot.

    why must i be bombarded with the pungent smell?!?

    Posted by xta at 11:28 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

    August 7, 2005

     a new pedicure saturday, a broken toe sunday


    you already know how prone i am to foot injuries. it's actually kind of amazing that i've managed to go seven whole months without breaking anything down there.

    so i've got another broken toe. i wish i could conjure up some adventurous story about how it happened, but the truth is i stubbed it on a chair in the den as i was reaching to straighten a lamp shade.

    i knew it was broken immediately. i didn't holler, but ray heard me breathing deeply through my teeth and asked if i was ok. "i broke another toe!" i sounded calm despite the sharp pain. i'm used to this.

    my propensity for broken toes is something ray doesn't understand... he says he's never broken a toe. the man has broken his back in a parachuting accident, yet he's never broken a toe. unbelievable.

    anyway, i put an ice pack on it for a 15 minutes or so, but it's swelling up and becoming discolored anyway. tomorrow is gonna be a bitch. i'm glad it's flip-flop weather.

    i won't be going for my morning walk for a few days, though.


    Posted by xta at 9:22 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

    August 6, 2005

     because the bathroom's the best place for a squirt


    i made these today.

    i built the frames (ooh! mitered corners!!), i painted them, then glued down the bottle caps.

    they will go in my bathroom, along with my other squirt memorabilia.

    i love squirt. yet, sadly, it is not available around these parts. when i visit my family out west, i usually save room in my suitcase for a case of squirt. when i get back home, i cherish each and every one of those 12 cans.

    of course, even if i could get it here, squirt isn't allowed on my diet. i wonder if they make calorie-free squirt?

    squirt squirt squirt. it's fun to say, too.

    Posted by xta at 8:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    August 5, 2005

     yellow shutters


    my shutters have now been painted to match the entry area.

    it's a big change from dingy off-white, and it's taking some time to get used to, but overall i think i like it.

    i also had the trim painted bright white, so on the whole everything looks more updated and crisp.

    and yes, "i had it painted"... i didn't do it myself. i knew that hauling my ass up and down a ladder that much would be torture on my aged knees, so i paid someone to do it for me.

    i'm also paying someone to regrade the beds around the perimeter of the house next week. (they slope down towards the foundation instead of away from it.) the mere thought of hauling and shoveling loads of dirt made my stomach turn (and me knees hurt again), so i'm biting the bullet and hiring trosa for the job.

    this is going to be a tight month, financially speaking. damn house. damn knees.

    Posted by xta at 10:33 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    August 4, 2005

     don't you forget about me


    every thursday night, between 6-8pm

    guaranteed to make you happy, or your money back

    Posted by xta at 2:18 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    August 3, 2005

     happy newspaper man

    like minty, i have a favorite homeless newspaper salesmen.

    the first time i spotted him he was standing in the median at club and gregson, near the mall.

    well, no... he wasn't standing. he was jumping. jumping up and down, excitedly, with a newspaper over his head. he was shouting, "neeeewspaper!! neeeeewspaper!!"

    he was silly. you could see the smile on his face from a mile away. he put a smile on my face, too. from his voice (and, frankly, his jumping style) i suspected he was gay. i wondered how that might affect his life on the streets.

    i saw him there for a week or two, but i was always going the wrong direction. i was never able to stop to buy a paper from him. (not that i ever buy the paper... i guess i just wanted to help him and reward his enthusiasm.) but then he was gone. someone else --someone grumpy-- took his place, and i always wondered what happened to the happy man.

    he has finally reappeared. he's now on my morning commute, at the corner of geer and avondale. there's a stop sign right there (which is much better than a stoplight, as far as newspaper sales goes, i would think) and though he's not there every morning, i see him often enough that i actually look forward to catching a glimpse of him as i trundle down the street towards his intersection.

    a week ago i figured he'd given me enough smiles that i should pony up. i rolled down my window, pulled a dollar from my wallet and handed it to him, saying "i don't need a paper... but you keep this. take care of yourself." he smiled so big at me i thought his face might split in two.

    on friday he was there, too, but i didn't have a dollar on me. as i drove by i caught his eye and smiled. he smiled back.

    i saw him again this morning and i held a dollar out the window for him. i said, once again, that i didn't need a paper. he took the money, then leaned down so that his face was about a foot from mine. when he smiled i saw that his teeth were dingy. he patted my arm as it hung out the window, and with that wide grin he said, "oh, bless your heart! thank you!"

    i need to stock up on dollar bills, i think. our little interactions give me such a warm feeling.

    but the thing that gets under my skin is that i have never given any other of the homeless newspaper guys any money at all. they need it just as bad as the happy guy, i'm sure. but they're not happy, so i just ignore them.

    Posted by xta at 2:44 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    August 2, 2005


    well, you guys rock.

    last night i tried sleeping with a pillow between my knees, and it seems to have helped. i woke up a couple of times through the night to replace the pillow after it had mysteriously slid out of place, but when i got up in the morning my back felt much better.

    consequently, i'm thinking of purchasing some kind of body pillow that is too large to wiggle out from underneath my leg. here's what i've found so far. if anyone has any advice, let me hear it... this is a lot of money to spend on a damn pillow. i want to make sure i get something decent.

    pillow_snoozer.jpg pillow_surround.jpg pillow_comfort.jpg

    the snoozer - $59.95 This 100 percent hypo-allergenic polyester cluster fiber pillow comes complete with a washable, soft white sateen cotton pillowcase. 64"Lx14"Wx8"H. Made in USA.

    the surround u - $49.99 Measures 110 inches long, and is made with down. The surroundU pillow is Physical Therapist recommended. Equivalent to five standard pillows. White pillowcase included. Poly/Cotton Ticking.

    the comfort u - $99 The Comfort-U Total Support Body Pillow is a generously oversized U-shaped pillow, long enough for you to stretch out and support both sides of your body. The Comfort-U body pillow is filled with a premium fiber imported from Denmark called Fossfill, a revolutionary synthetic known to scientists as an "extended polymer" which allows air to flow freely. (also, look at the other things you can do with it!)

    i have to say, one of my fears in getting one of these things is that i'll have to have it all the time... when i travel across the country and stuff. not convenient. but except for that, on a day-to-day basis it's probably worth the expense.

    Posted by xta at 1:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    August 1, 2005

     twister? i hardly know her.

    in yet another installment of "fix my body, please!" today i'm going to talk about my lower back.

    over the last week or so, i've woken up with TERRIBLE back pain. i know exactly what causes it, yet i seem unable to fix it.

    i sleep on my side, but not entirely. while i'm on my side, my top leg always falls forward so that my knee is touching the bed. the other leg stays in the standard "i'm lying on my side" position.

    this posture twists my lower back immensely. i must stay like that all night long, because when i wake up i am in PAIN.

    i've tried falling asleep on my stomach and on my back, but i always seem to wake up on my side.

    this has to stop.

    Posted by xta at 2:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack