Sunday, July 31, 2005


What do you do with eighteen cups of blackberries? Make pie, of course!

Here's my not quite as beautiful as I'd like, but delicious nonetheless blackberry pie:

(No store bought crusts for me, that's why they're not perfectly pretty.)

Farm Living Is the Life for Me

Or at least farm visiting. I didn't realize that I had not yet taken Dennis on a grand tour of my Aunt & Uncle's farm near Prairietown, Illinois. I had been telling him about picking blackberries though, and we wanted to meet up with my Mom and Chris before they left for Indiana for a few days, so we decided to kill a few birds with one stone by heading over there for the evening.

First we stood around petting Commanche and Star for a while. Dennis is a little shy around horses, but he likes them. 'Manche is too sick to ride, so we just talked to them and smashed a few horse flies. Then we headed out to the cow pasture to get blackberries. I did not realize that Dennis has never ridden a four wheeler before, so I had to teach him and remember to not run off without him.

We picked about 300 yards of brambles along the back pasture fence. There were berries everywhere. These are the serious kind, with deadly thorns that reach out and grab your arms and legs, and sometimes swing around behind you and smack you across the back. I always thought that a little bit of blood makes the berries taste sweeter. We wound up with about eighteen cups (a gallon plus a little) worth of them. (I didn't measure how many they ate before they could get into the buckets.)

The next stop was the cow herd. They've taught the cows to come when they are called by feeding them day-old bread. We hollered the secret code word ("Dolly, Dolly, Dolly") and the whole herd came rambling over, headed by the new red Limousine bull. We were hand feeding them hamburger buns for about half an hour. You can even reach out and pet the bull on the nose after he scoops the bread out of your hand with his tongue. There were two babies that were just a few days old, and as cute as can be. We got on the same side of the fence as the herd, and walked among them. It was really cool. This is a new trick, the bull they had when I was in High School would have killed you if you tried this. He ran me up onto more than one hay bale in his time. I definately like the new bull a whole lot better.

We ended the night by eating at the Village Drive In in Bunker Hill. It is right next door to the apartment my Greatgrandma used to live in with her canaries, and right down the street from the Catholic church where we used to have all of our family reunionis. The food is very good, and very cheap. *yum*

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

C'mon little Squishy...

Today was my first day on the job at the Squishy Place. I am fairly certain that I can do my job. It is just going to be a matter of getting the jargon, pricing structure, and details into my brain. (And getting them to stay there!) I know exactly what the difficult part is going to be, and I know that the only thing that can get me through it is time and experience. I'm allowing myself mistakes. I know they are going to happen.

I don't know if I will ever be a superstar at this. I also don't really want the job that this position ultimately grows into. Maybe I can leap-frog it ;)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Home Sweet? Home

My ten year High School Reunion was last night. I did not go. I didn't feel like paying $34 to see people I just don't really care about. Sorry.

I did go to Litchfield though. I took Dennis to Party in the Park. We rode carnival rides, ate pork patties, and had the best lemon shake-ups in the whole wide world.

Friday, July 22, 2005


I've just finished Emile Zola's Nana. It is not really shocking now, but I certainly understand how shocking it would have been in 1880. The first thought I had was that Paris must have terrified respectable ladies everywhere in the 19th century. I immediately thought of Henry James's The Ambassadors and his depiction of Parisian excess. I believe that Henry James hated Emile Zola's naturalistic style. The pairing would have made for an excellent term paper, if I were an energetic English major.

Then I thought of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Her drive to excess and social ruin was paralleled nicely by Nana's. Two ruined women, and the incessant, moralizing social commentary of two "stodgy old men." Hrmph. Of course this made me think of Virginia Woolf's Orlando. Cross-dressing and lesbianism. Juicy! Orlando in counterpoint to the other novels. Fodder for another paper!

I was amused by the accidental placement of Moll Flanders and Nana in order on my reading list. Nana is an utterly disagreeable character in the end, devoid of any real human emotion. In stark contrast to my favorable impression of Moll Flanders. Both novels carry the question of proto-feminism with them. Is resorting to prostitution the only way for women to exhibit any power at all in a patricharcial society? Is the power of women only vested in their youth and good looks? Is it wrong for a woman to use her sexuality when it is the only card she has to play? Are the male authors wrong for refusing to give women any other power at all? Are they justified in highlighting the folly of men (society) in this way? What does it say about women? In my mind, these two are better off than the silly heroines of the Romantic period that fell squarely between the two works.

I was impressed with Zola's writing. I'm sure the novel is exceedingly beautiful in French, if I could read just it. I am interested in details like the inner workings of a Paris theater. I was enthralled by the description of the horse races. I like this style of writing because I am not distracted by the details. I think I prefer it to Henry James. I do like that it is more complex than Defoe. Of course I believe we've come around to another period of "naturalism" with our reality TV driven world.

Mom is the hardest job of all.

What children take from us, they give…We become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply, and love more deeply. -Sonia Taitz

Chris and I went to Six Flags to play at Hurricane Harbor for a while yesterday afternoon. It was our 'last day of summer' as he is gone today with his Dad (he left early this weekend for his Aunt Mary's wedding), we have plans to spend the day Monday shopping for school clothes and supplies, and I start my new job Tuesday. He's going to spend two weeks with my parents, then we are moving, then he's got a week of YMCA camp in St. Charles, then he's off to school. Already. Yesterday was the last real day of our summer off together.

Children might or might not be a blessing, but to create them and then fail them was surely damnation. -Lois McMaster Bujold

I was up so late last night in tears. Really sobbing. It was miserable. Frankly, I'm not in much better shape right now. I feel like I used to when Chris was a tiny baby, and I'd sit up with him in the middle of the night holding him and trying hard to cry silently as he nursed himself back to sleep. I knew those nights were precious and would be a distant memory all too soon. I'm immersed in a deep sense of loss. I don't just feel that yesterday was our last day of this summer. I feel the weight of the things we should have done, the weight of the days we didn't interact at all, the weight of the days we didn't set foot outside of the apartment. I don't know that I'll ever have another entire summer off to spend with my son. I don't know that he would appreciate it if I did. I hate to think that I've squandered the age of eight. I am not sure when boys make the turn into nasty adolescents, but I know it happened to me at twelve. God, what I wouldn't do to have another day, another week, a time warp - something! I wish our whole summer could have been spent in the same sense of discovery and family that we had during our camping trip.

The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears. -Ellen Goodman

This really is tough. I'm the mother of an only child, so he gets to bear all of my hopes and fears, all of my anxiety and joy, and of course, all of my maternal love.

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. -Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I took Chris to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this afternoon. I honestly did not expect anything other than a good movie from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. I enjoyed seeing another of Burton's frequent flyers, Helena Bonham Carter, as Mrs. Bucket. She carried a hint of Marla Singer with her, which just added to the general oddness of the movie. (Unlike in Big Fish, where she was completely transformed.) In the end, it is a movie based on a children's book.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It Pours. (When it Rains)

I got a callback for a second interview at the place that I was certain hated me. I am not supposed to hear back from them until Tuesday of next week, the day I am scheduled to start at the Squishy place. I am torn. I hope they call, but I also hope they don't call.

I think that the not-bombed interview place would ultimately be a better employer. I think that the Squishy place will not value and respect me nearly as much. But I also think that the not-bombed place may push just a little harder than I am really ready for. If they do call, I may duck out on the Squishy place. Especially if they call sooner than Tuesday. If I've already started and signed paperwork, I don't know if I will leave or not. The day-to-day details of the two jobs are relatively similar, but I will be processing payroll at the second place as well, which is absolutely a transferable skill that I am looking to put on my resume. The second place will most likely offer the dollar I talked myself out of asking for at the Squishy place. I do not have details of their benefits package yet, so I can't compare them. It is out of my hands right now anyway. I think it is a decision I will make on the spur of the moment based on what feels right. If they call, that is.

Friday, July 15, 2005

And I shall call him Squishy

Apparently the strife of the last few days over job-hunting, and my general employability, were the birthing pains of a new career. Yesterday, I was offered a job in an entirely different department that the one I had interviewed for. It sounded like a lot more work, and more difficult work at that, for about the same amount of money.

I felt low-balled. I felt uneasy. I think a lot of it is residual burn from my last situation. I slept on it.

I told Dennis I would not take it for less than X per hour. I had revised my figure down one whole dollar by this morning, and called them with my decision.

They fudged over the number. Still. After I'd come down a whole dollar.

I think $2000 per year means a lot more to the employee than it does to the employer.

Then they offered it to me for the price I was asking. I took it.

In actuality, I do need the money - yesterday. This is a whole dollar more than I made the last time I was working full time. With benefits. And there is a company match on the 401K. And I think I was hired into the department I would have been moving up into.

What is up with the title? My new employer shall be known as "The Squishy Place." Suffice it to say the main product is something specifically designed to be squished. It is a squishy business. I hope that the nature of the product will lend itself to an enjoyable environment. I think I may already have a friend in the receptionist.

Oh Snap!

Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue were just on Fox 2 News at Noon, which is actually on at 11:00.

Tommy Lee just called John Pertzborn an asshole live on air!

John: "One last question: who rocked harder in the 80s, Motley Crue or Poison?"

Nikki: "Who?!?!??"

Akward silence, John starts a crappy segway, is in the middle of thanking them...

Tommy: "What an asshole!"

Someone has to have a clip of this...

(This post has been hit all day today. Please leave a comment to let me know where you've found the link in. I usually don't do this much traffic on a single page in one day.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Am I unemployable?

Here's my latest bathroom mirror flash effect picture, taken while preparing for my interview today.

And here's my pity-party rant of the day:
I'm beginning to think that I am absolutely unable to secure meaningful employment for myself. I had a better go of it before I finished my degree. I had another interview that I think I bombed. The place that I was fairly confident would call hasn't. GAH! I, like an idiot, quit combing the want ads when I had a flurry of interviews. I have never had an experience where absolutely nothing panned out. It is starting to get to me. I am terrified that I am beyond the point of good judgement. I am ready to jump all over the first offer I get.



At this point, I think I am giving up on finding anything meaningful or career-oriented. I am down to the last minute, I must have some source of income soon, the move is approacing so quickly. I think I am going to explore retail and resturant opportunities in the greater St. Charles area tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Slightly Touched

There is a thin line between touching and touched. I think Dennis may be ever so slightly over that line sometimes. He asked Chris and I to accompany him while he buried his beloved pet Shelby. We made our way out into the Jefferson County woods in the middle of an all-day rain from the remnants of Hurricane Dennis. We carried with us two umbrellas, a shovel, and a small, makeshift coffin. It was, quite literally, a tropical rain forest on this particular evening. There was a gentle green haze hanging near the earth as we picked our way down to a flat-rock creek bed about half a mile into the wilderness. After navigating several healthy stands of poison ivy, we crossed the creek, and clambered up the sandstone bluff and bank on the opposite side. This was the spot Dennis had selected. This soil doesn't really facilitate actual digging per se, it is more accurate to call it "rock chopping" or "shovel destroying" - that is, of course, if you choose to classify it as soil at all. As we neared eight in the evening, the hole was finally large enough, and Shelby was laid to rest, finally. I couldn't help but wonder if the love of my life was completely freaking nuts while I stood deep in the woods in a the middle of a tropical depression watching him chip away at the hard ground completely uncovered with rainwater dripping down his face.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Moll Flanders

I've been working on the current entry on my reading list for the past five weeks. It has been slow because finding time to sit and read undisturbed has been almost impossible. I've been picking my way through my "summer reading list" for over a year now...

Moll Flanders, or "The Fortunes & Misfortunes of the famous Moll Flanders &c. Who was Born in Newgate, and during a Life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transport Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, and died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums..." by Daniel Defoe, was a good, simple early novel. Depsite the absolutely reprehensible life she lived, you can't help but like the title character.

There was nothing difficult about the reading that held me up. It flows easily, and once you adjust to the verbose (almost spoken-word) style, it runs right along. It is the story of an entire lifetime, so there are pleanty of details along the way, but it is nothing overwhelming. It was a very good summer read, because no matter how many times I had to put it down, I was always able to keep up with the story along the way.

Hurricane Dennis

It is always fun when a storm shares a name with a loved one. We've been cracking "Dennis" jokes all weekend.

Current visible satellite image:

Hurricane Dennis is currently downgraded to Tropical Depression Dennis. We are just moments away from getting the first rain band here in South County. I think the drought conditions here, and severe drought conditions to our south are going to contribute to flooding. Hard, dry ground doesn't sponge up water any better than saturated ground does, so this heavy rain is likely to cause washouts and erosion. It will be like dumping a five-gallon bucket of water on your tomato plants once in the middle of summer. It may help for a few days, if the force of it doesn't kill your plants, but it isn't going to help in the long run without some regular moisture afterwards. I'm still grateful for the rain. I think the St. Louis area is going to get the fringes, which will hopefully give us enough rain, but spare us from the five-gallon bucket effect.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Goodbye to a Dear Friend

We had to put our baby rat, Shelby, to sleep this evening. She never fully recovered from her surgery and bronchitis in May. She had been stuck on her left side, unable to eat or drink, since Thursday evening. We kept thinking that “it can’t be much longer now,” but she kept hanging on, and on, and on, and on. Dennis finally asked me this afternoon to see what we could do to ease her suffering. I did some research, and found that we could do it at home with Carbon Dioxide. She went peacefully in less than eight minutes from beginning to end. All three of us are teary-eyed and quiet tonight. We are going to give her a “proper burial” tomorrow evening.

Shelby was one of nine babies my rat Belle had on December 5, 2003. We hand-raised them from day one:

We could only keep one of the babies, and Dennis chose this spunky brown-hoodie with a tiny white stripe on top of her head. Here she is at about 25 days old:

Shelby was always a silly, active, cute, and sweet pet. She also had great taste in cars:

She grew into a beautiful, sleek, friendly adult:

Rest in peace, Shelby Jane Doza - 12/5/03 – 7/10/05.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I had to twist my brain

Lifted from the-only-person-from-High-School-that-I-still-speak-to’s journal:

List ten fictional characters you would have sex with, and then tag five friends.

(No particular order.)

1. Wade “Crybaby” Walker (Johnny Depp), Crybaby
2. Batman/Bruce Wayne
3. Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff), Garden State
4. The Man With No Name / Joe (Clint Eastwood), A Fistful of Dollars/A Few Dollars More/The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
5. Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) & Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
6. Doug Heffernan (Kevin James), The King of Queens
7. Beatrix Kiddo/The Bride/ Black Mamba (Uma Thurman), Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2
8. Aidan Shaw (John Corbett), Sex in the City
9. Bo Darville/”The Bandit” (Burt Reynolds), Smokey and the Bandit
10. Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


I've been trying to figure out how to decorate and arrange the furniture at the new apartment. I got tired of trial and error on paper, so I got out the Sims and tried that.

It isn't exact, but it is faster to just point and click than it is to erase and redraw. It isn't 3D Home Architect, but it is a whole lot cheaper. And you can play with the people after you're done arranging too.

The thing by the white couch is a computer armoire. I haven't found it yet, but I'm going to get one anyway. I have found a round glass-top table for the dining room. I'm not going for the blue formica, despite how good it looks in the Sim version.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Brisket and Fireworks

Mmmm, DJ barbecued a brisket yesterday. It was super yummy. Paul had Chris last night, so Dennis and I shot fireworks by ourselves. We still have leftovers. I can't believe how much we wound up with! (Brisket and fireworks...) We always seem to have a good time together on the 4th of July :-D

Last night the downstairs neighbors were shooting really large fireworks right over my car. They finally set off two car alarms in the parking lot, then packed everything away and snuck off. One of the alarms went off for about two hours straight until the owners got home from the downtown fireworks. Not everything about moving out of this apartment complex is bad...

We just lazed around for most of the day. It rained finally! (We actually had a fairly fierce severe storm blow through. There was an awesome wind shift in the middle of the storm. Very cool.) It has been cloudy and cooler since that blew through. I wanted to shop for new apartment things, but a lot of stores closed early for the Fourth. (Some of the same stores that were open on Thanksgiving???)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Can I get that in writing?


Finally, after all of that strife, he just sort of bent over and crumbled this morning and signed the Ammendment to the Joint Parenting Agreement, so Chris is officially, on paper, for real going to live with us this school year in our new apartment.

We had Chris with us last night, and went down to DJ & Cathy's to shoot fireworks. It was fun and tiring. I am worried about how dry everything is, so we've cut back on the rockets a whole bunch.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

We're Moving

Dennis put down a $300.00 deposit on the apartment in St. Charles today. We are supposed to move in on August 5th. We are going to have to pay double rent for all but four days of August. Hooray, this is going to be cheap...

Friday, July 01, 2005

There's no Cheese in our Pool

The sky is blue for once! It had been browinsh-white hazy gross for a long time. It is also tolerable outside. Yea!