Thursday, January 27, 2011

little known fact #2

Little Known Fact Background: I'm 98% certain that everyone who regularly reads this blog actually knows me.  But sometimes I like to dream of a time when I'm famous for these ramblings and folks will flock here and pore over the archives of my early days.  So I'm starting a new series (maybe) that will help those future fans (who truly are the imaginary readers I reference so often) get to know the real ellen--because you know, I've been doing such a first-rate job of not talking about myself up until now.  And perhaps, some of you who are actually acquainted with me will still learn something from these "little known facts."

LKF2:  I feel morally superior about most aspects of my driving.

Maybe you already know this about me, but I'm considering this a little known fact because I didn't know it about myself until today maybe.  I was sitting at a stop sign at River Market Avenue & 2nd Street lamenting, as I've done millions of times in the past fourteen years, that Arkansans don't understand the basic principles of the four-way stop, and I realized just how condescending I am about other drivers. 

Four-way stops are not rocket science, but through my years as an Arkansas transplant, I've been shown time and again that no one in Arkansas really wants to follow the rules.  Arkansas drivers love to wave people on ahead of them instead of taking their turns.  I guess they're trying to be nice, but it's just stupid.  I have watched cars try to out-wave each other to the point that the fourth car at the intersection will get fed up and take their turn.  This behavior also breeds the sort of driver that assumes you're going to wave him on so he'll pause briefly and then take his turn no matter who got there first.  Years of experiencing that has made me extra-careful, so I generally give my stop an extra second or two just to be sure that others are going to stop which leads to my absolute least favorite four-way stop driver:  the guy who gets there after me and still feels the need to wave me on--as though he's allowing me the opportunity to take the turn that was mine all along.  And because I do go ahead--because it was my turn--it seems as though I'm playing along with his little game.  And then I want to hit someone.  The rules of the four-way stop are logical and work for a reason.  They represent one of those instances in life that I love--when following the rules is simple and expedient and beneficial to all. So when I witness Arkansans behaving badly at four-way stops, I don't just think they're too stupid to figure it out, I think they're breaking the rules because they can't be bothered to see the logic and benefit behind it.  Essentially, I judge them all over the place.

My feelings of moral superiority don't stop at there.  I judge speeders, folks who cut recklessly across multiple lanes of traffic, people who pass on the right, drivers who brag about their drivings skills as though that gives them permission to disobey the rules of the road.  People who behave implicitly as though rules don't apply to them make me crazy in all situations, and since I follow the rules, clearly I'm a better person.  Right?  Aren't I? 

I never claim to be a good driver.  But I've always maintained that being aware that I'm not an excellent driver has made me more cautious, more attentive, more willing to submit to traffic laws, etc.  In essence, believing I'm not a good driver makes me a better driver.  So I get to experience another sense of superiority for acknowledging that I'm not in complete control of what happens out on the road and driving with that more realistic mindset.

Plus since I got the hybrid, I get to relish the fact that the choices I make while driving  result in a better fuel economy and probably preserve the earth for the children and grandchildren of all those gas-guzzling reckless drivers out there.  You're welcome, ingrates. 

*****Jerky blogger's note:  I had no idea I was going to use this series as a forum for so much complaining.  But I'm discovering that so much of my life is an open book that it's difficult to find little known facts that aren't about the secret ways that I hate everyone and everything.  Oh, well.  I'm still optimistic that someday I'll find an LFK  of which I can actually be proud.*****

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

i couldn't find my butt with both hands

The Southern sayin' backstory:
I know the overriding characteristic of my writing here is sophistication, so this may come as a surprise to friends of the blog, but I come from a rural background.  I grew up living eight miles outside of a town of roughly 1700 people.  We had one county school, and I graduated in a class of about fifty-two.  Not only is my hometown as podunk as they come, I come from an ancestry that is a mixture of Kentucky hill people and Tennessee dirt farmers.  Because education has been a fairly high priority in my family for two or three generations now, I can largely pass for a mostly normal, non-hick person.  Much of the time I'm even allowed to forget about this ridiculously country accent I have.  But every so often, I find myself in a situation that can only be summed up in the dialect of my youth; some quaint, down home saying comes out of my mouth, and I embrace my true self.  Today is one of those days:

I couldn't find my butt with both hands.

Perhaps, imaginary readers, you'll recall that I have from time to time used this forum to enumerate the many talents and virtues of my dear moma.  It's no secret that I'm a fan.  But today I've been forcibly reminded of one of her skills that has thus far gone unacknowledged here at the opinions.  My moma can find anything, anywhere.  She's the best finder I know.  It's impressive, but an unintended consequence of her mad locating skills (skillz?) is that I'm one of the worst finders ever, and it just so happens that there's a sayin' we have back home for just such an occasion.  I couldn't find my butt with both hands.  This means just what you think it means, friends.  The sayin' is used to desribe a person who is so poor at observing the world around him or her that he or she is literally incapable of locating his or her own backside even with the aid of both hands.

I lose things like it's my job, and for most of my formative years, I never made much effort to find them because my bloodhound of a moma could sniff out missing toys, shoes, and books in about a quarter of the time it would take me to wander around aimlessly "looking."

The most famous couldn't find my butt with both hands moment occurred when I was in college.  I used to carry my student ID and driver's license and cash (when I had it) in a holder that was attached to my keychain.  In my day, Harding girls didn't carry purses, so anything I deemed important got shoved into this holder and carried around with me.  It made for bulky keys, but it fit easily into the front pocket of my backpack and could also fit into a jacket or pants pocket as needed.  Unfortunately, I didn't like it in my pocket, so I usually took it out and set it on a table or my cafeteria tray or the songbook rack in the Benson, and as you might have imagined, I often left this important little bundle--my life on a keyring--in places all over campus.  On one such occasion, when I discovered my keys were missing, I retraced my steps all over the place, emptied out my backpack, and turned out the pockets of anything I'd worn for days.  Feeling sorry for myself and deeply embarrassed by my own stupidity, I called my moma to whine.  True to form, she began to suggest all the things I could do and places I could look.  I petulantly answered each of her suggestions.  (Of course, I looked in my backpack.  No, they weren't under the bed.  Yes, I'd retraced my steps.)  Then she suggested looking on the closet shelf.  That got my most contemptuous response yet.  (No, they weren't on the closet shelf.  Why would I put them there?  My keys are never on the closet shelf.)  She very patiently suggested I look anyway.  I flounced over to the closet confident that I'd get to be even more scathing in my reply once I'd looked there, and guess what was lying in plain sight on the closet shelf:  my stupid missing keys.  So it's not exaggeration when I say my moma can find anything.  She once found my keys from 300 miles away.  "Did you check the closet shelf?" has become an oft-repeated reminder in our family of just how good she is (and just how bad I am) at finding things.  [Insider's note:  it was "behind the rollers" before we had behind the rollers.]  So seeing as how I'm one of those folks who couldn't find their butt with both hands, I find myself on the horns of a dilemma.

I've been in denial about this for a few days, but it's time I face the truth.  My phone charger is missing.  The facts (with a bit of editorializing because I can't help myself) of the case are these:
  • I "know" I had it during our snow days two weeks ago.  I can "remember" being inconvenienced by the need to be plugged in (or maybe I'm remember that about my laptop but it feels like my phone), but I can't remember using it since.  
  • I definitely didn't take it to Kentucky for Pinkie's birthday because I realized I hadn't packed it and used my car charger instead.  
  • When I got home, I actively looked for it a couple times, but couldn't find it in any of the usual places--my work bag, plugged in to the outlet strip by my bed-side table, or lying in the floor near the couch outlet in the living room (yes, those are the places where my charger lives).  
  • I expanded my search to include unusual places because even though I can "remember" using it since Christmas, I can't shake the nagging feeling that I never unpacked it from my Christmas travels.  So I've fruitlessly looked in every bag/luggage/container that made that trip.
  • On Sunday when my phone was desperately low on battery, I convinced myself that I had taken it to work and left it plugged in there and once again used my car charger.  
  • On Monday thanks to a timely reminder from my favorite blogging brother, I remembered to look around for the charger at work.  No joy there.
  • Last night I double-checked all the places I think it could be at home, and it still hasn't turned up.
I'm at a loss.  Truthfully, I am better at finding things than I used to be, but the current disorganization of my house doesn't lend itself to ease in locating missing items.  And today I remembered the two sets of headphones that were stolen from my desk at work during the summer, and I'm concerned that the phone charger is just the latest casualty.  But there's hope!  My moma is coming into town this weekend (though be advised, potential burglars--she and the Popster will be leaving large, hungry, rabid dogs at their house so don't use that announcement as license to steal from them), so I'm sure she's going to be able to find it for me.  She knows I'm useless in situations like this, so I'll just stick to looking for my butt and wait on her.

Friday, January 21, 2011

happy birthday, pinkie

Six years ago today my first nephew was born, joining a trio of nieces.  It was a Friday and though he wasn't due for another couple of days (on his Aunt Michelle's birthday), the doctor scheduled an induction because he was kind of a big boy.  The nice thing about scheduled inductions is that people like aunts and uncles and nanas and popas have time to make the five or ten hour trip to be there to meet new babies.  It's handy.

The other handy thing about Pinkie's birthday is that often falls on or near MLK weekend, so I get a long weekend to make the ten hour trip to party.  So far in their little lives the Handful have had thirty-four birthdays, and I've been at every celebration.  Taking advantage of long weekends has kept the dream alive for me.  I know there will probably come a day when I'll have to miss one, but I do my best, and so far it's working out for me.

Last weekend we celebrated Pinkie's sixth a bit early.
(Let me interrupt myself here to say that those freckles, those dimples and that missing tooth are scrumptious.)

I took way too few photos of the party.  Before things got going, Pinkie put on his knight costume to get into the spirit of the festivities.  Thumb wanted to get in on the thematic fun as well, but baseball player dress-ups were the closest he could get.  Pinkie generously allowed Thumb to act as his squire.  Pinkie discarded his get-up before I took any photographic evidence, but you can still see the remnants of the squire costume below.  I also didn't get any shots of the super-cute and chocolatey castle cake.  Bad aunt.  It's a pretty standard tradition to get a shot of the birthday kiddo with all the gifts right before opening, and I would have managed that one if not for Pinkie's awkward attempt at smiling.  Usually it's not necessary to request a smile when faced with the prospect of diving into a pile of presents.  But Pinkie's expression was so priceless that I skipped the gifts and balloons and zoomed in on that funny face.
Someone reminded him that he should probably be happy, and this was what we got.  It looks more realistic, but I'm pretty sure it's fake too.
As a faithful squire should, Thumb carefully assisted with all the gift-opening and examining.
I think it's a testament to Pinkie's six-year-old maturity that he was so generous in sharing the paper-ripping experience.

******Bad photographer's apology:  Sorry about my moma's shoulder featuring so prominently in this photo, but I loved the excitement and the grabby hands too much to leave it out.  If this weren't Pinkie's post, I'd get side-tracked and tell you about how the sweater covering that shoulder was originially purchased for me as a Christmas gift, but my moma ended up liking it so much she kept it for herself.******

Another testament to six-year-old maturity:  immediately after this photo was taken, Pinkie hopped up and ran over to Ring on the couch to show her that because there was a girl character in the set, she could play with it too.  (Yes, those kids are big into gender identification.)  I sort of loved that one of his very first thoughts about this highly-prized gift concerned sharing.

Despite my lack of appropriate photographic documentation, it was a great party.  I'm a big fan of six-year-olds as it turns out.

And to prove it, here are my five favorite things about my favorite six-year-old:

5.  Pinkie is a giant ball of energy.  He's almost not capable of playing sit-down games if he can't run laps or stand on his head between turns.  He is perhaps the most kinesthetic learner I've ever encountered.  All of his emotions are expressed in movement, and though this particular trait occasionally manifests in inopportune moments, his energy and acrobatics and constant activity are so entertaining that I have to love him for it.

4.  Because Pinkie and Ring are fairly close in age, he's never seemed to be much of a little brother.  They play together and occasionally fuss together mostly as equals, and though they have some skirmishes that are reminiscent of their daddy and myself as children, I think they both do a pretty decent job of being friends.  Lately I've really taken note of Pinkie as a big brother though, and I think I like it.  Now that Thumb is very much un-babyish enough to hang with the big kids, there are these adorable moments when Pinkie advises and instructs and indulges his little brother. From giving him Wii-gaming pointers to dressing him as a squire and letting him assist in gift-opening, he takes care of Thumb--and seems to get the concept more than most of our family that Thumb is not a baby anymore.

Watching the two of them together and seeing Pinkie brother-up like he does is so special.  Reminds me of the happier moments with my own big brothers.

 3.  Pinkie is hilarious.  Sometimes it's a result of his high-energy physical comedy, but he's also a big tease.  He attempts all sorts of solemn, big-eyed trickery, but all too often his dimples give him away.  Those dimples and his wide-open mouthed laugh are all part of his comedic charm.  And if his own teasing and jokes don't provide enough of his laughter, he's the most squeally, ticklish little guy.  I must admit to taking shameless advantage of this knowledge regularly.

P.S.  When that tooth finally grows back in, I'm going to go into mourning.

2.  I've made reference before to the fact that the Handful often display characteristics of their parents, but there is something about Pinkie both physically and in personality that reminds me so forcibly of Joshua that it amazes me.  The energy, the big-brotherly moments, the hair that gets completely and adorably unruly if it gets even a speck too long, the giant blue eyes with eyelashes completely wasted on a boy, the love of sports, the stubbornness--everything except the dimples--are so obviously like his daddy that it's hard to see him without seeing Joshua as a little boy and a grown-up.  Sometimes it makes it feel as though I've been loving Pinkie for longer than his six years--and that's a lot of love to have for a person.

1.  And yet Pinkie is staunchly his own person.  And though his energy and love of action--and all the very boyish pursuits that go along with that--are at first glance his more prominent traits, he's always had this layer of sweetness and genuine kindness that is just precious to see.  He is tender-hearted and doesn't like to see people get hurt.  He loves babies and is so gentle with them.  He's demonstrative in his affection, and even though his current little-boy contrariness and that teasing nature I mentioned make him a bit more selective in the cuddling department than he used to be, the loving little soul behind it is still there.
So happy birthday, kiddo!  I love you despite the bribery it took to get you to pose for this picture.  Sending big, slobbery kisses your way.

some craftiness of late

Last week I had to come up with an after-school craft idea.  We'd just had a fairly substantial snow fall that some frigid temperatures kept around for much longer than we normally experience, so snow was on the brain.  A quick Google of snowflake paper crafts yielded a spectacularly lovely, deceptively simple project that was extremely well-received. 
Nice, huh?  I'm not going to show you the process, but if you want to make this stunning project, here's where I learned it.

The snowflakes became wildly popular around the library.  That happens here fairly often.  We get quite enamored of various crafty things from time to time.  A few weeks ago we got a new book in with loads of tubey crafts.  We've been making tubular crafts with empty toilet paper rolls for ages, but there were several fresh ideas in the book about which we were quite excited.  Then one day, Lisa realized that all of the columns throughout the library were giant tubeys waiting to happen, so we talked about how exciting it would be to do that.  Sometimes we hype ourselves up about things like that and then we don't have the time or inclination to make them happen, so I wasn't completely certain it would happen.  Pardon my skepticism.

Fast forward to today, imaginary readers, when we arrived at work just ahead of more forecasted snow.  Lisa declared it a snow day and decided that we were going to make that first giant tubey dream come true by building a snowman.  She put Susan to work making more of the 3D snowflakes, and we started planning our attack.  The column (which got painted this particularly violent shade of yellow this summer during our part of the remodel) started out like this:

After some measuring and wrapping we had our base up.
Next we added this:
And then this:
times seven or eight, which made this:
You're feeling it now, aren't ya?
Next came his scarf.  Yes, that is real fleece.  No flimsy, flappy paper scarf for our snowman.
The hat brim was my first true test.  After a fair amount of measuring and equations and fashioning a compass out of a pencil and yarn, I achieved moderate success.
The band and flower cover up some of the less attractive bits of construction and give him a jaunty flair.  Right?
Next came his arms . . .
 . . . and mittens . . .
. . . and buttons.  Because what self-respecting snowman doesn't have buttons?
And then he was complete--and precious I might add.
And then to make his winter wonderland complete, we added the snowflakes:
Couldn't you just die from the cuteness?

And this is what he looks like to the itty-bitties who'll come up and pat him and rip his arms and buttons off in the next few weeks.  It'll take a slightly taller kid to take care of the nose, but I feel fairly confident that it'll come off a few times too.  The good news is the dedicated craftsmanship that went into the project should insure that anything that is ripped off will not actually tear away the "snow" underneath.

For the record, it did snow for the middle part of the day, going from early mist/rain/sleet to great, fat, gorgeous flakes to dense flurries of tiny flakes.  But in the downtown area it just never stuck and my hopes of getting to close early (like the city offices and schools and everywhere else) melted along with all those snowflakes.  Such is life, I suppose. 

At least I have a long-lasting, all-weather snowman to show for it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

when you're not here

Imaginary readers, if the infrequency of my posts has you aimlessly wandering the interwebs like a sheep without a shepherd, your lives an empty shell bereft of purpose and meaning and entertainment desperate for even the merest shadow of my wit, humor, or charm, dry your tears on this bit of news.  My second best brother is now blogging

I can't promise that he'll be be as funny as me or that his words will fill the void in your soul created by my neglect.  But genetically, he's as close as you're going to get to me in the blogging world, so check him out.

Apparently, today I was pompous.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

if my blogger account were a twitter account

Lately it seems all I'm capable of stringing together are brief snippets more suitable to Twitter's 140 character limits rather than the robust and complex posts to which my faithful readers have become accustomed.  I had big plans for a specific Christmas post, but it was fairly time-consuming, and I ran out of Christmas season before I could devote the appropriate amount of time to its completion.  Maybe next year.

And my determination to complete that posting project coupled with a rather hectic holiday season derailed any good intention of taking one of those snippets and developing it into adequate blog fodder.  So since it's a new year and excuses are for losers, I'm going to roll with what I've got.  Today I present a post in tweet-sized chunks: thoughts to close the old year and kick off the new in 140 characters or less.

  • I have no idea how I managed to do twelve posts between December 9th and 24th in 2009.  I could barely spell my name  in December 2010.
  • Because I'm a shallow selfish girl, all I want to talk about are all the Christmas presents I got, but no one would enjoy that but me.
  • I have a twitter account but no inclination to ever tweet.  I blame my stubborn insistence on using my phone only as a phone.
  • If I tweeted, I'd retweet FHDM's plug for today's Resolution blog.  Worth the read.
  • Speaking of  FHDM, I got my Blue Like Jazz associate producer t-shirt in the mail last week.  First gift from my soulmate.  Score.
  • For the first time since 2005, I didn't place in the top two in my girls fantasy football league.  I came in fourth.  Lame.
  • My moma's preacher says no one cares about the fantasy teams of others.  People listen so they can talk about their own teams. He's right.
  • When I came home tonight, my freezer door was standing wide open.  No idea why.  I'm not blaming Jess.  Throwing away food is depressing.
  • I just found an unopened bag of chocolate-covered pretzels.  I'm considering eating only the recommended serving size.  Think I can do it?
  • I feel the need to brag about accomplishing mundane tasks that any normal person would be embarrassed to admit they'd left undone.
  • My Christmas tree is still up, but I've only been home a day and spent most of it sleeping and at work.  I once took my tree down at Easter.
  • I did not make anyone (including myself) cry at work today.  Some days it's the best outcome for which I can hope.
  • Michelle got a fancy new camera for Christmas from my brother-in-law.  She's a good sharer.  I like her.
  • If Jess reads this post, she will hate it.  She's anti-twitter.  Hey, she just walked by.  Hi, Jess.
  • I have a story about my landlord that lots of readers already know.  I can't tell it without being insensitive with these character limits.
  • At one point today I had approximately sixteen tabs open in my browser.  I have internet ADD.  Bad.
  • I almost wrote about how cold my feet are-then I realized that I was in the tweet trap: talking about what doesn't matter as though it does.
That's when I knew it was time to quit.  And if you were waiting to hear about the pretzel outcome--I did indeed eat only one serving (eight measly--but delicious--pretzels).  It's good to be back.