June 26, 2006

 juggler 2000


i got this letter in the mail last week, along with two issues of redbook.

my jaw dropped, actually, upon realizing that someone thinks i am in the redbook demographic. i mean, really... i'm still in my thirties, people!!! is it even possible that budget living subscribers also enjoy redbook? before receiving this letter i certainly would have never thought so. frankly, i couldn't believe i was holding redbook in my hands.

after the shock wore off i realized i was being judgmental, so i sat down to peruse the contents of redbook. maybe i was wrong. maybe the magazine had changed. maybe this wasn't my mother's redbook.

so, ok. deep breath. plunge in.

hmm. i don't know if my mother's redbook ever gave tips about this kind of thing. maybe not this type of advice, either.

reading further, it's clear that redbook is targeted to women my age, but not to me. redbook readers are married with children. redbook readers are stay at home moms.

even the advertisements make me feel like i'm spying into another world. a very foreign, very scary kind of world.

still, after only a few pages i'm developing an odd fascination with this magazine. it's a bit more modern than i expected, design-wise... cute sans serif fonts and punchy colors. it's trying to feel young, while simultaneously dishing out dated advice.

i then spot the beefcake. add to that the tame fashion spreads, some horoscopes and a section on readers' embarrassing moments and i begin to think that maybe redbook is really just "cosmo lite".

this is really not what i expected. i expected cooking tips and lists of things to do with doilies.

perhaps what surprised me most was the "red hot summer read" -- similar in concept to bust's "one handed read", but quite a bit more florid. what's more the whole section (3-4 pages) is printed on different stock than the rest of the magazine. these "special" pages are not on glossy paper. they're printed on something rougher... almost a card stock. why, i wonder? maybe to aid the reader in finding the sex more quickly?

after paging through both issues and trying to remain open-minded, i come to the conclusion that redbook is really not for me. there were a couple of product reviews and recipes that seem helpful, but it's certainly not a substitute for budget living (which, admittedly, wasn't perfect, but was MUCH closer to "me" than redbook). still, i don't think i'll write for a refund as the letter suggested. i found it kind of interesting to peek over the fence and spy on the lives of women my age who have chosen an entirely different path for their lives.

Posted by xta at 11:14 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

June 22, 2006

 y'are what y'eat

in an ideal world this wouldn't warrant an entire blog post.

inspired partly by jenny's month-long 'eat local challenge' i cooked just one completely local meal last night. (actually, the olive oil and seasonings --salt and pepper-- came from somewhere else, but that was the only exception.)

i purchased everything for the meal at the durham farmers market. pork chops from the chapel hill creamery were at the center of last night's menu. their pigs are whey-fed, which sounded appealing. i seasoned the chops with salt & pepper and cooked them on an indoor grill pan.

also on the menu: mashed yukon gold potatoes with garlic. i don't remember which vendor i bought the taters from, but the garlic was purchased from seeds. my GOD, fresh garlic is so moist and POTENT! total yumminess. that was probably the biggest surprise of the evening.

i had also scored some weird-looking patty pan squash at the market. i wasn't sure how to cook it, but finally ended up cutting it into wedges and putting it into a covered baking dish with some garlic, salt & pepper and a little chicken stock (oops! not local!). after 20 minutes or so it came out nice and fork-tender.

poo, i just remembered that i topped it with some shredded parmesean cheese that wasn't local, either. with a couple of different cheese-makers at the market, that wouldn't have been too hard to correct if i'd just planned ahead more.

for the last couple of months i've really enjoyed buying the bulk of my produce at the local farmers markets. there are things i adore which i just can't get, though... namely, bananas and pineapple. (which makes me want to move to the tropics. can you imagine *those* farmers markets??) and i find that the raleigh farmers market has *tons* more fruit than the durham market does. i suppose that's because the one in raleigh is a state-wide market and durham isn't necessarily. if i were going to buy exclusively local produce i think i'd have to go to both markets each weekend. that's a lot of driving.

ray & i weren't impressed enough with the pork chops to keep spending that kind of money on fresh pork. we might try beef or eggs next, though. for ray's birthday we had some rib-eyes from king's red and white that were mighty tasty. though i didn't ask where their beef comes from, most of their produce is locally-grown so i wouldn't be surprised if their meat was, too.

king's, by the way, is a really cool old grocery store. no scanners... everything has a price sticker. the meat counter is also staffed by ancient butchers who are beyond helpful. and though they carry non-local produce, they are very proud (with big signs!) to offer as many local fruits and veggies as possible.

ok, i'm hungry now. gotta go.

Posted by xta at 03:13 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006

 move it or lose it

i got pulled over on my way to work today.

i was rolling along in the right lane (doing the speed limit, i might add), when i noticed a sheriff's car on the right shoulder, lights flashing. there was no other car on the side of the road with the sheriff, though. just the cop car, alone, with flashing lights. a traffic stop must have just ended or something.

as soon as i passed, the flashing lights pulled up behind me. the cop told me i hadn't obeyed the "move over law".

have you heard of this?!? apparently if there's an emergency vehicle (of any sort) pulled over on the side of the road, you're supposed to 'move over' to the farthest possible lane as you pass by.

i had never heard of such a thing. it makes sense, i suppose... the officer is theoretically more safe if everyone shifts to a further lane. but a law?!? i had no idea.

"there wasn't anyone in the lane next to you, and you didn't move over," she said.

i wasn't even given a warning. i got a citation.


Posted by xta at 04:18 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

June 18, 2006

 birthday greetings bottle of wine


for his birthday, ray decided he wanted to go bowling.

i stupidly left my good camera at home, so all i had on me was my phone.

regardless, you can still see he's got great enthusiasm. (335k .mov)

Posted by xta at 11:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 16, 2006

 nothing is different but everything's changed

i need to tell you that for the last few days my exclusive soundtrack has been paul simon's new album, "surprise". i had heard good things, but sweet jezus i had no idea how soul-stirring this music would be for me. i listened to it for the first time a couple of days ago on my way to work and i actually got teary. i had to pull over. (i can't even say that about david byrne albums.)

"surprise" is produced by brian eno. i couldn't fathom what it would sound like. paul simon's high-pitched voice on top of ambient rumblings? but yes, it works. and works so well that i don't want to listen to anything else right now. you can hear some samples at paulsimon.com

so, with this constant soundtrack in mind, here is my day in pictures.

we've been taking care of the neighbor's kittens. they are totally adorable and full of energy. we let them out onto the tiny screened porch and they just want to take everything in. and, much to my amusement, anything is a toy to them, too. (2.5 MB .mov)

there's new "art" in the traffic circle, though it's merely a neighborhood reminder about this weekend's beaver queen pageant. (last year, an area of the neighborhood was inhabited by beavers who built a dam that flooded the yard of a low-lying house or two. a couple of fun-loving neighborhood lesbians took the presence of the beavers to heart and started a quirky little pageant.)

now that my workday has shifted (i'm working roughly noon-7pm) i run my errands in the morning. i had a lot of them to do. as i made my way down highway 70 i passed a church that always has good signs.

over the last few weeks i've been shopping for new glasses frames. it's been a blur. (335k .mov) i've got a zillion photos of me wearing a zillion different frames and i'm nowhere near making a decision.

ray's birthday is sunday, so i also did a little shopping for him. that's all i can say about that, though i can mention that i spied this restaurant, which --because i totally judge a book by its cover-- i feel compelled to eat at! as i took this photo i was practically salivating. while giggling.

by this point, i was only a mile or two from the wide shoe warehouse so -duh- i had to stop in. all the salespeople recognize me, which i'm both flattered by and worried about. over the years i've been shopping there, the stock has definitely become less old lady and more christa. they now have tons of colorful sandals and espadrilles. i walked out with these beauties.

since i now had photo-taking in the forefront of my brain, the missing "T" caught my eye. (the first word is "circus" --which makes the sign even funnier-- but i was stuck at a stoplight and couldn't maneuver to get a proper picture.)

and that is all. it occurred to me that i could've taken photos of a couple of radio stations and stuff, but eh... whatever. if i find the time i may post some photos of my top choices in glasses frames. my new work schedule leaves very little time for blogging, though, (or the reading of blogs). i miss it... i feel like i'm falling a little out of touch. but i'm not really complaining -- work is more fun and more challening than it has been in years and i couldn't be happier.

Posted by xta at 10:02 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

 home run

the other night i walked from the federal to joe and jo's. it's only a half-mile or so between the two joints, but i don't think i've ever walked it before.

which is a shame, because it's neat to walk among the old liggett myers tobacco warehouses.


kevin costner walked down these streets in "bull durham". i think about that each time i'm in the area.

when i moved to durham, these buildings still produced tobacco. at certain times in the afternoon the scent of fresh-cut tobacco would hang in the air. it was such a unique smell, and impossible to escape. it didn't take long to learn to love it, though.

these days, the tobacco industry has all but pulled out of durham. the old brick buildings have now been converted to condominiums, restaurants and offices. i'm happy for the revitalization of the area, certainly --it's a lot better than having big brick skeletons downtown-- and i'm equally happy that some of the old memories of what used to be are still so apparent.


Posted by xta at 10:38 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006


perhaps you remember me expressing my desperation to be called for jury duty.

well, I FINALLY GOT CALLED! july 13 is the magic date!

i'm so excited!

Posted by xta at 02:20 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

 recycling bins are easier to decipher

i went for a walk in my old neighborhood the other day and saw something weird.

i wish i understood it, but it's way beyond anything my puny brain can handle.

Posted by xta at 02:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

 the death of subtlety


Posted by xta at 08:43 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

June 07, 2006



it's been a while since i posted any photos of my niece, roxi.

so i felt i had to rectify that.

she turned 2 on monday.

and she is gorgeous.

Posted by xta at 01:24 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 06, 2006

 theme time

theme_time.gifi have a new addiction.

it's bob dylan's theme time radio hour.

this is a weekly, hour-long program on XM satellite radio, hosted by bob dylan himself. as the title suggests, he picks a theme for the week ("coffee", "mother", "baseball") and fills an hour with songs that reference that theme. you won't hear much 'modern' music -- a lot of it is of the divaville era, for instance. i've heard judy garland followed by jimi hendrix. buck owens followed by randy newman. (you can view the playlists here.)

even though dylan's voice has always kind of irritated me, his weird, raspy, singsong delivery makes for a rather haunting DJ. he adds interesting background information about some of the more obscure artists, and he quotes lyrics to emphasize his point. i don't think the music alone would be as compelling. he really adds quite a lot of presence to the show.

now, i don't have XM (and i bet you don't either). no matter: some kind soul has been posting MP3s of the programs on his website.

really, this is good stuff.

Posted by xta at 02:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006

 good lord, it never occurred to me to clean my baseboards before


payless has a "buy one, get one half-off" sale going on right now. i got these, mary got a pair of bronze slides, and we split the discount between us. these green beauties ended up costing around $13, and are -amazingly enough- the most comfortable pair of thin-heeled sandals i have ever tried on.

PLUS! payless listened. i have always gone in there and complained about the dearth of wide width shoes, and this time they had almost every style in medium and wide widths! i was ecstatic!

Posted by xta at 12:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 03, 2006

 i'm a very good driver

back in april i was in a very slight traffic accident. i was second in line at a stop sign. the car in front of me began to travel through the intersection. i looked both ways and started through the intersection myself, without realizing that the car in front me had come to a complete and sudden stop before making through the stop sign. i rear-ended that car, at the whopping speed of about 10mph.

no damage was done to either car, and no one was physically hurt. however, the woman who was driving the other car had just had neck surgery a few weeks prior and was worried that the "impact" was going to aggravate her recovery. she insisted on calling the police and filing an official report.

i've been driving for close to 20 years and have never gone through this process before. i've been in a couple of very minor collisions, but none have ever warranted a formal police report. so, i was a little irked and surprised that she insisted on calling the cops in this instance. with no damage to either car, i figured there was little chance there would be any physical injury, either. so, what's the point?

because the accident happened in a weird little unincorporated section of wake county we waited almost an hour and half for a cop to find us. in that span of time i made nicey-nicey with the woman, (look how sweet and funny i am! also please notice how poor i must been, as indicated by my crappy car!) hoping i could somehow convince her to be kind in return by not jacking my insurance rates up by filing a claim against me.

when the cop finally showed up he said he had to cite me (i think it was for "failure to reduce speed to avoid collision") since i was clearly at fault, though he also said that if i obtained an "insurance letter" from my insurance company that i could take that to traffic court and get the charges dismissed.

seeing as i was wholly unexperienced in dealing with this kind of thing, i took his word for it, called state farm and got the appropriate letter. (which consisted of two whole sentences, stating that i was covered should any insurance claims be filed against me.)

so anyway, today was my day in court. i was nervous. in my whole driving career i've gotten maybe two speeding tickets, only one of which required my presence in court. i'm inexperienced at this, and pretty ignorant of the whole process. i did a lot of research online, trying to figure out the ins and outs of the wake county court system.

first thing this morning i printed out my google maps, took a few deep breaths and set out for raleigh. i found the parking deck, located the courthouse (my unfamiliarity with downtown raleigh was admittedly a huge part of my anxiety), passed through the metal detectors (my cute new aerosoles set off the alarm) and followed the signs to the proper courtroom.

there was absolutely no line, and when i open the courtoom doors, looking lost and unsure, the assistant DA caught my eye and said "do you need to check in?"

"i guess so. i've never done this before." i tried to smile. he found my citation and i handed him my insurance letter, telling him that the officer who wrote the ticket told me that i could get the charges dropped by presenting it. the ADA looked the letter over, scrawled something on the envelope, and said, "ok, you're free to go."

and that was it. i said, "so, my record is clear?" and he replied, "yes, i just dismissed the case."

it was that easy?? a little stunned, i turned around, left the building and found my way back to my car. from the moment i entered the parking deck to the time i left was less than 15 minutes. i had stored up weeks of worry and anxiety over nothing.

i'm sure i will still agonize over whether or not the woman i hit will ever file a medical claim, though. so far she's opened a case but hasn't filed any medical expenses. my agent told me today that if she does, my insurance rates will go up based on the dollar value of her claim. over $1800 is 3 points (whatever "points" means), $1200-$1800 is 2 points, and less than a $1200 claim is one point.

what's so frustrating is that for each of the 20 years i've been with state farm i've gotten an "accident-free" discount on my insurance premiums. even though there was no physical injury (that i know of), no damage to either car, and now no legal record of the accident there's still a chance she could file a claim and totally screw up my insurance rates.


Posted by xta at 12:39 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 02, 2006

 dateline nbc

perhaps you remember that last fall i attended the murder trial of robert petrick. his wife, janine --the victim-- was an acquaintence of mine.

the trial got a lot of media attention, both locally and nationally. there was a reporter from NBC in the courtroom every day, in fact, gathering footage for a "dateline nbc" special.

the trial is long over, of course, but the dateline episode is finally airing this weekend.

here's the blurb from the dateline website:

Saturday, June 3, 8 p.m.
One cold winter night, a beloved member of a close-knit community goes missing. Was she abducted? Murdered? Did she run away? Troubling details of a double life and hidden secrets soon emerge, and a defendant makes a fateful, surprising decision. Hoda Kotb reports on an unusually riveting courtroom drama.
the reporter assured us that, despite the sensationalized previews that are airing right now, the episode itself will be more balanced. the producers say they took care to try to depict who janine was, what she was like, her love of music, etc.

janine's family and friends were consulted (to a degree) during the editing process and participated by submitting photos and video. her sons figured "NBC is going to do the story either way; we'd rather have some input and hope that it gets used well."

let's pray they were right.

Posted by xta at 12:01 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 01, 2006

 how do you do


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