May 31, 2006

 i need a chiropractor after watching this

many thanks to lisa for sending this my way. i am forever in her debt.

it's the ross sisters, singing "solid potato salad". 1944 was the year, according to the fella who posted the clip on youtube. speculation is that it comes from the film "broadway rhythm", but i haven't seen it so i can't confirm.

regardless of where it comes from, just WATCH IT!

Posted by xta at 09:35 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

 she's gone

well, i put mom on an airplane home this morning.

it was a nice visit. next time i might suggest a slightly shorter trip; we seemed to run out of steam towards the end of the week.

other stuff we did:

pool party
bacon-wrapped hot dogs on the grill
durham bulls game
raleigh farmer's market
a k-mart purchase of a screened-in outdoor tent-thing (thanks, mom!)
a quick walk-through of the new pier one outlet
more time in the pool
a trip to home depot to buy a new toilet seat (whee!)
dinner at green tango
locopops one-year anniversary party

we actually bailed on one planned activity. we were going to go see the wusses saturday night, but when mom got beset by, uh, an overstimulated digestive tract we decided to stay home an gorge on home improvement shows instead.

good stuff.

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May 26, 2006

 s&s, kk



today was not a day to be proud of, diet-wise. steak & shake, and then krispy kreme.

i've never been a big donut eater. all my friends, for years, have told me to go to the krispy kreme factory in raleigh. they say, "have a hot, fresh glazed and you'll change your mind!" yeah, yeah, yeah. whatever.

so tonight i went.

they were right.

Posted by xta at 10:19 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

May 25, 2006

 i'm creating my own this time

not so much drama today, thankfully.

a couple of errands, a quick tour of the durham branch of mom's company, lunch and... manicures and pedicures!

then, later, on my own, divaville. while reaching for a boxed CD set (the okeh rhythm and blues story) --stored with all of the other boxed sets at the station, in a pile of similar boxes, all perched 7 feet high at the top of our CD shelving-- several other sets slid off the top shelf and down onto my face.

it hurt! those things are heavy! with pointy corners!

one particularly ornery box landed right on my mouth. i think it was the johnny cash boxed set. the man in black punched me in the lip! i suffered a few drops of blood and increasingly uncomfortable swelling. talking was difficult for a while, in fact. i was sure to let my audience know the extent to which i was willing to endure injury for the sake of their musical enjoyment.

so, yeah, not as much drama today... but a little.

Posted by xta at 11:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 24, 2006

 right now i feel too old and tired to be someone's daughter

so, mom gets on a plane in el paso on tuesday evening. at her layover in houston, she calls me from her cell phone.

she's had a horrible flight. bad pressurization has caused a pain that feels like 10 inch spikes being driven into her sinuses. plus, she lost her glasses. she can only see if she wears her prescription sunglasses.

we scheme about how to quickly get her some replacement glasses when she lands in raleigh, and speculate about the location of the lost pair. she calls back a few minutes later. "you'll never guess who i ran into --LITERALLY RAN INTO-- while i was buying some motrin at a newsstand! frank bielec from trading spaces!!" she said she made her purchase and turned from the counter and ran smack into him. he was nice, she said, and clearly didn't want any attention drawn to him. mom told him, "i won't tell anyone it's you."

she also said that after that encounter she went to the bathroom but accidentally walked into the men's room. quick on her feet, she pointed to her sunglasses and said to the guy at the sink who was staring at her, "it's a good thing i'm blind!"

she arrives. we search her luggage for a last gasp hope that her glasses are stowed inside. no luck. almost as a lark, ray suggests she try one of his old pairs of glasses as a temporary fix. they work ok (better than nothing) but aren't quite her style.

first thing this morning i printed her a map to the lenscrafters at southpoint mall. i couldn't go with her; i had a doctor's appointment in chapel hill. i left mom and went merrily on my way in spacepod (leaving my CRX --which was actually once mom's car-- with her to drive). i parked in the hospital's garage, walked to the clinic, and on my way up the escalator started looking in my purse for my clinic account card... and couldn't find my wallet.

ack! this NEVER happens to me. NEVER.

i'm panicked. the receptionist is able to check me in, but with no wallet i can't pay my co-pay. this isn't really an immediate problem, so i move on to worrying about something else: how i'm going to get out of the parking garage? when the nurse takes my blood pressure it's a little higher than usual. not surprising, since i'm pretty much freaking out. must. find. wallet.

pap smear. 'nuff said. day's off to a lovely start.

traipse back to the parking garage. happen to pull up to the one cashier booth which contains a cute young man, tell him my tale of woe (no wallet! this NEVER happens to me!) and he's sympathetic. "do you have any spare change in your car?" it's not my car. i don't know. i start searching around. lisa, you cleaned him up too well... there's no spare change in that car at all. he looks at me and says, "well, it's only a dollar" and he raises the gate. i'm home free.

i call mom. she hasn't left for lenscrafters yet! but the fact that she's home means she can look for my wallet. she finds it, in the CRX. i haven't lost it. it just fell out of my purse. whew frickin' hoo.

this is turning into a long story, and by this time it's still only 10:30am.

we go to the mall together in the CRX. mom decides to have an eye exam. i go into the exam room with her. (watching this is surprisingly fun. when she's reading off the rows of letters, i giggle and smile when she gets them wrong. i think to myself, "THAT'S NOT A "Z"! IT'S AN "E"!") we take her updated prescription and start looking at frames.

this, by the way, is one of my favorite activities of all time. trying on glasses. in fact, i had a hard time focusing my attention on mom. i wanted to keep trying things on myself. we found a few cute things for her, but decided to walk over to specs to see what they had, too. specs had some good things, but in the end we went for a stylin' pair of PINK VERSACE glasses with SQUARE LENSES and NO BOTTOM RIM. woot! way to go mom!

we grab a quick salad at california pizza kitchen while we wait for the glasses to be made. mom's dieting. i find she's inadvertantly inspiring me to get back on the diet wagon, too. (i mean, not only did we both get salads, but we got SMALL salads. and SENT BACK THE BREAD they plunked on our table.)

so, we walk back to lenscrafters to retrieve the glasses. they're not quite ready yet. we walk some more, making a loop around the inside of the mall. i stop in origins to buy some makeup. we walk back to lenscrafters.

after her glasses are fitted, we decide to either 1) get a pedicure while we're at the mall or 2) see "the da vinci code" while we're at the mall. the movie wins (much to my toenails' chagrin). i'm the only person in the country who HASN'T read this book, so the movie makes my brain hurt a little. there are lots of loony conspiracies set forth, with too many secret societies for me to keep up with. i get the general gist of the film (i know who the good guys are), and surprisingly i see the ending coming from a mile away. am i that smart? i must be, 'cause i don't know nothin' about jesus.

anyway, we're starving when the movie is over (it's 7:15pm by now) so we rush home and whip up a couple of dieter's dinners. ray comes home from work around 8. i finish up the mix CD i've been working on, mom calls new mexico, and by 9:30 we're all yawning and want to go to bed.

i hope that the rest of mom's visit isn't quite as eventful as today was.

Posted by xta at 10:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

 it's all she ever does

thanks so much, you guys, for your fashion advice! you rock.

my mom is here, so i'll be otherwise occupied for a week. in the meantime, you can peruse photos of other recent shoe purchases. (two of these three came from that discount store online that i mentioed last week.)

these are a pair of hush puppies i've been ogling for a while. utterly comfy, kinda casual, sorta sexy. love 'em!

aerosoles! i can hardly ever find stylish aerosoles in wide widths, so this was particularly exciting.

some interesting espedrilles that i'm fond of. i can't quite figure out the best way to tie them, though.

Posted by xta at 12:19 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 21, 2006

 what (shoes) not to wear

i'm attending my step-sister's wedding in july. it's an outdoor ceremony at the party room and side yard of the groom's mother's condo in mid-town toronto. the space has a 48-person max limit, and i've been told that "it's a dressy-ish but no-fuss affair."

i've found a dress that i think will work, but now i'm searching for shoes. i've had approximately 183 pairs of wide blue sandals shipped to me from various online retailers over the last few weeks, and i think i've narrowed the choices down to two.

and here's where i need your help.

this is a photo of me in the dress, wearing one of each sandal.

here's a closeup of the sandals with the flowers on top.

and here's a closeup of the sandal with the strappiness.

i'm having a hard time deciding between the two. both have assets and weaknesses. style-wise, i think i like the strappy sandals. they look more dressy, i think, and have a higher heel (which makes my calves look amazing). the flowery ones, though, sort of tie in with the flowers on the dress. but are they too casual? they are more comfortable than the strappy sandals, though they don't make my legs look as good as the others do.

poor ray doesn't feel comfortable with this kind of thing, so he took these photos so that i could post them and grovel for your opinions (thereby relieving him of the burden of being asked for fashion advice).


Posted by xta at 06:37 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

 almost time for a dip!

so, after some hand-wringing and griping, ray and i decided to invest in a brand new pool to replace the torn one. i went to the home depot after work on friday and shelled out $199. (last year's pool was an end-of-season bargain at only $99.)

so, first thing saturday morning we opened the box:

seven hours (and 4,000 gallons of water) later we had this:

between those before & after shots we used our air compressor to fill the inflatable top ring (3.4 MB .mov), felt a certain amount of joy in filling the hole-free pool with water (5.5 MB .mov), used our toes to feel for wrinkles in the floor (1 MB .mov), and had a zen moment with a surprise hose-created waterfall (2.2 MB .mov). we also experienced the horror of finding a pinhole leak in the side of the pool (too traumatic to film) but with our recently-acquired experience in patching holes we fixed it rather quickly.

the backyard is shaping up for summer rather well, i think. (1.5 MB .mov) lisa b came over and gave me ideas for things to plant in my beds, and i'm rather jazzed about the idea of getting the whole landscape in shape.

so, anyway. the pool. though ray and i were both a bit agitated over spending the money on a brand new swimming pool (we were hoping that last year's purchase would have lasted more than one season), we did truly relish the ease of setting up a new one. considering the work we put into cleaning and storing the old one last fall, i am almost convinced that buying a new pool each year would be worth the expense.

oh! and the nicest surprise of the whole ordeal? closing up the pool last night with last year's pool cover, only to discover that it was too small! the new pool is one whole foot larger in diameter than the one we bought last year. sweet.

so, now... first thing in the morning i'm taking a water sample to a pool supply store and will begin treating the water with chlorine, etc. hopefully things will be in tip-top shape (and ready for guests) by memorial day weekend.

if you're interested in stopping by, let me know and i'll keep you posted about the state of the pool's readiness.

Posted by xta at 06:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 19, 2006

 why i haven't been posting

after much wrangling, it's been decided that sometime this summer i'll be moved to a new, higher-profile air shift at work. this bodes well for my sanity and makes me joyful. i'm excited.

i think i'm done with all of my tv shows but one. twice this week i experienced the terribleness of simultaneous season finales. that's four shows wrapping up on two nights... and not only that, but being forced to watch one live and while tivoing the other. evil television executives, holding me captive! damn you! i'm really quite glad this season's addictions are almost over... then i can focus on netflix for a while. those little red envelopes have been sitting on my coffee table for ages.

i knitted so ferociously last night that i think i strained my shoulder. it was either that or my attempt to hit a tennis ball against the wall on the handball court in the neighborhood park. or both.

that, and i borrowed a neighbor's pickup truck last weekend... i bought a load of mulch and shoveled it all, with ray's help, onto the driveway. work those muscles! work!

i'm still looking in people's recycling bins on friday mornings. which means i'm still walking regularly, and honestly... i've never felt better. except for the shoulder, i mean.

i have made an appointment with a lawyer to have some legal documents drawn up: a last will & testament, a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, and a living will. now that i'm confronting my mortality i feel very grown up.

i am purchasing a new pool tonight, and will set it up this weekend. my mom arrives for a week-long visit on tuesday; i hope she'll be willing to help me get the water chemistry in balance and then perhaps we can have people over to enjoy the pool over memorial day weekend. interested?

i need to make a mix CD for the "music club" i'm in. (within a group of friends, everyone is assigned one month in which to make a mix and distribute it amongst the club members.) i'm focusing on divaville-esque music (just 'cause all the other participants have focused on rock and and i want to be different. that and i don't really like rock and and am thinking i may make a mix of scat songs. maybe. we'll see. i have been bouncing to ella's "air mail special" every morning and it's soooo groovilicious.

my brother is going to korea this weekend for a business trip. i went to korea many years ago, and it's funny to think that now my little brother is going to be seeing the same things i did, more than 10 years later.

i am utterly addicted to the durham farmer's market. 99% of my produce now comes exlusively from local farmers. how hard does that rock? scat?

oh, and i got three new pairs of shoes, too (and now three old ones are in my goodwill pile). perhaps i'll get around to taking some photos soon.

Posted by xta at 02:50 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

 locopops' one year anniversary

Mark your calendars and save the date 'cuz we're havin' a party.

That's right - we wouldn't still be here if it weren't for ya'll, so we'd like to say thank you for a great 1st year. Here's the scoop:

Date: Memorial Day, May 29th
Time: 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Place: Locopops, 2600 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, NC 27705
(well, in the parking lot, really, which sounds like high school but is better than
behind the gym! Please note: the parking lot will be closed to traffic, so walk
if you can - more info on parking next week)

Good Stuff:

* free food & drinks (snacks with a bit of a Mexican flair, iced tea and lemonade - sorry, no kegger)

* pops for sale with all proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Durham.

* music by The Carolina Chocolate Drops (music starts at 6:00pm)

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a group of young African-American stringband musicians that have come to together to play the rich tradition of fiddle and banjo music in Carolinas’ piedmont. Although we have diverse musical backgrounds, we draw our musical heritage from the foothills of the North and South Carolina. We have been under the tutelage of Joe Thompson, said to be the last black traditional string band player, of Mebane, NC and we strive to carry on the long standing traditional music of the black and white communities. Joe’s musical heritage runs as deeply and fluidly as the many rivers and streams that traverse our landscape. We are proud to carry on the tradition of black musicians like Odell and Nate Thompson, Dink Roberts, John Snipes, Libba Cotten, Emp White, and countless others who have passed beyond memory and recognition.

Posted by xta at 02:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2006

 the boulevards of cypress trees, the masquerade of birds and bees

saturday night ray and i heard the north carolina symphony perform mahler's "resurrection" symphony. it is my favorite piece of music, and i haven't seen it performed live since 1998. (and that was with the chicago symphony orchestra and chorus, conducted by zubin mehta. man, i loved those student rush tickets when i was in college!)

last night's performance was great. it's an immense symphony, featuring a huge chorus. the orchestra is huge, too, with most of the winds being doubled in numbers. it's a fun symphony to watch... there is a lot of activity as brass and percussion leave at various times to perform off-stage.

the music is fantastic and bombastic. it's tender, too, and the finale is so moving that i burst into tears. i was sobbing, shoulders shaking, for the last 5 minutes of the work.

i love having deeply-felt musical experiences like that. i also consistenly cry when i hear saint-saens "organ" symphony. in fact, i've cried while playing it at work, and have had to go on-air with a quivering voice, trying hard to sound professional.

anyway, the music was magical last night. and as ray and i were driving home, what do we see in the traffic circle? something equally beautiful. i wish i could have gotten a good nighttime photo... it was hauntingly lovely in the dark. these photos were taken first thing this morning:


i love that there are so many birds!

for the longest time i couldn't figure out what they were made of. until i saw this one.

ray thought this one was a dodo.

some of the birds contained special messages!

one was scary.

there were also several birds overhead that moved beautifully with the breeze. (150k .mov)

all of this --the music, the birds-- was lovely enough to make me forget my worries over the pool for a while.

Posted by xta at 04:28 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

 pool pool d'oh

though it's not quite pool weather yet, i would like to have things up and running by the time my mom comes for a weeklong visit on the 23rd. given that it takes a while to get the water chemistry correct, we figured this weekend would be a good time to start setting things up.

here we've laid out the tarp and pool, making sure no mildew has grown on anything over the winter:

and here is ray after discovering two HUGE tears in the pool:

this was heartbreaking. we are attempting to patch the holes, being very careful to follow the directions to a tee. we're applying patches on both the inside and outside of the pool, covering all our bases.

i have no idea whether this will be successful or not, but i'm sure the rain that's pouring from the sky right now isn't helping the glue set up. (though the instructions say that this kit can be used to patch underwater leaks, so what the hell do i know...)

argh is all i can say at this point.

Posted by xta at 03:52 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 12, 2006

 all your cans are belong to us

friday is my favorite morning to go walking. friday is trash day.

i love looking in people's recycling bins. i may not know the people who live inside each house, but i can tell a little bit about them from what's in their bin. it's curious to me that the containers for yard waste and trash are closed --you'd really have to go poking around to learn anything that way-- but the contents of recycling bins are right out there in the open. anyone can look in and see what you've been up to. who needs the freedom of information act when you've got recycling bins?

this is the only bin i saw this morning that contained squashed cans. are we still supposed to squash our cans? i feel like that was a rule at one point, but maybe no longer? i don't squash my cans.
i really quite enjoy the variety of consumables in this bin. a well-rounded person!
i want to meet this person. on one hand, very organized and tidy. on the other, quite the beer-drinker. excellent.
but this person? wow. i'm sure he's a very fun individual, but i wonder if he has any hobbies other than booze? maybe he simply had a party. i don't know. but his bin makes me wonder.
while this isn't a recycling bin, it certainly embraces the spirit of recycling. i wanted that basketball, but wasn't sure if i had to take the desk, too. i didn't want the desk.
very minimalist. i want to see the inside of this person's house.
what style! it's almost like an art installation!
holy smokes. diet cokes!
this was an entertaining bin. i love me some taquitos, so that box caught my eye. but also, the girl scout cookie box had a taped-on note... those cookies were a gift. sweet.
i couldn't help but wonder whether the person who lives in this house wants to keep the contents of their recycling bin a secret from me.
these people really like juice. i don't drink much juice anymore. too many calories.
most people who have two or more recycling bins align them next to each other on the curb. these people bucked the trend and stacked them on top of each other. rebels!
and, ok... here's ours. ray must be throwing away our 2-liter bottles instead of recycling them... we go through several a week. (after we saw this episode of bullshit both ray & i started to really question the value of recycling.) also, i don't use many canned things, as you can see. some salmon last week, that was it. and we've started subscribing to the sunday paper, but we save a lot of it for gardening and fire-staring, so only the glossy pages end up in the recycling bin.

Posted by xta at 09:47 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

May 10, 2006



one of the best things about my job is that it's located on large tract of land. i don't know how many acres, but it's more than i've got at my house. way more. by, like, a factor of 100.

when i look out my office window i see a vast field rimmed by tall pine trees. there is a horse farm adjacent to the property; sometimes those horses get taken for a gallop across our field. i feel lucky to have that view. the woman in the office next to mine has a bird feeder outside her window; i often get bluebirds and juncos resting on my windowsill, keeping a watchful eye on the food.

the most abundant form of wildlife there is deer, of course. last night when i went down to our transmitter building to take some meter readings i snapped the photo above. there are 5 deer in that picture and --swear to god-- there were 20 more that were outside the scope of my lens. it was a breathtakingly gorgeous sight. i stood there in awe before i had the sense to grab the camera.

of course, my presence startled them and several took off running. (2.5 MB .mov) about 6 or 7 stayed behind, though, and they stood perfectly still, watching me for a full minute before they also ran off.

Posted by xta at 06:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Locopops (at 2600 Hillsborough Road) is now selling "pupsicles" for dogs -- frozen broth on a rawhide stick, and ALL of the proceeds go to Animal Protection Society which manages the Durham County Animal Shelter.

Posted by xta at 06:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 08, 2006

 oh my gosh my days are getting longer


the island got updated with a lawn chair and a house this weekend in honor of the historic home tour that was going on in old north durham.

again, apologies for the lack of substantive blogging. i'm just not feeling all that inspired lately, i guess. what i HAVE been is busy... i've been pulling some double-shifts on-air to help out a co-worker. i've also been busy shoe-shopping (check out this discount site i just discovered!), trying to find shoes to match a dress i'll be wearing to a wedding in july. i've also been knitting a gift for this wedding. and doing yard work... which, surprisingly enough, i'm enjoying. i've spent so much time loathing yard work that it's rather stunning to find myself enjoying it.

the trick is to do only as much as is interesting. in other words, i'm not knocking myself out to get any one project done. i'll go piddle around a bit, maybe lay a bag of mulch or two, then quit... and not feel guilty about it. because these short spurts are rather easy and pleasant, i find myself enjoying the sunshine and the birds chirping in the trees, and am actually seeing more progress than before, when i dreaded it all. back then, i would go out of my way to find reasons to not do yard work and consequently not get much done.

so, this weekend i uncovered even more brick border (as i did last year), and before that i spread newspaper and mulch over some really overgrown beds in the back yard. i really want to get to work on the landscaping in the front of the house, too, but i'm so ignorant about plants that i have no idea what to put in the ground. i want something that will soften the look of the house, but i don't really want shrubs. i'm going to have to start tivoing some gardening shows for ideas, i guess. (here's what the front of the house has looked like over the past year or so, if you have any suggestions. note that currently the landscaping is most like the bottom photo... cut-back, bare and dead. it's lovely.)

i also foolishly told the locopops lady that i would build her a website, and suddenly i'm feeling less than excited about that. i finally have the ambition to work in the yard and on the house, and the last thing i want to do is sit indoors and build a website. b'oh.

Posted by xta at 03:32 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 03, 2006



well, apparently the sprinkler did such a good job that the 'grass' now needs mowing.

very cute.

in the background of that photo you may have noticed the world's greatest mailman, charlie. as i was taking this photo, he walked up to me and said, smiling, "i saw you taking photos and for a second i thought you might be a realtor... this isn't one of your listings, is it?"


sorry to turn this into an almost exclusively traffic-circle blog, but hey... it's not like you want to hear about any more shoe purchases i may have made, right? i mean, going into the details of how i found these on sale at ann taylor for $30... that's not interesting blog fodder at all. i know that.

Posted by xta at 04:13 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack