July 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Pops!!

Happy Birthday, you ultimate of Baby Boomers, born in the year 1946. Wow! You're old. I sure am glad I don't have to be embarassed of you looking like this quite yet:

Let's hope your younger wife keeps you young too right? Wink wink.

I love you, Dad.

A Graphic Mistake...

The purpose of a garage sale is to sell items you don’t want or need anymore in exchange for money to buy the things to you do want or need. A materialistic endeavor when I describe it like that so let me try it another way. A garage sale is a way of getting rid of useless shit, freeing up space in your life and filling up space in your wallet with money that you didn’t have before. Yay for useless shit that makes me cash!

If you haven’t guessed, we had a garage sale. Actually, my father had a garage sale at his home (because we are unable to at our apartment) and The Boyfriend and I brought up our stuff to sell jointly with his. A bedroom set, some Christmas redundancy, hopelessly out of date VHS tapes and the like. And a few televisions. One of which I haven’t used in three years. Pay attention, this is where it gets interesting.

I had to work the 1st day of the sale on Friday and so my loving family sold my stuff for me in my absence. In order to demonstrate that my old television worked—my tiny college TV with the built-in VCR—my uncle pressed play and accidently played a tape that way accidently left inside for the last 3-4 years. That is the way in which my loving family—along with a few strangers—saw some very graphic loving on that very tiny screen along with the standard moaning and bowmp-chicka-bowmp-bowmp music. In other words, there were naked people doind some unwholesome things on the tape in my VCR.

Yes, I showed my family my forgotten adult video--not that I am necessarily the one who left it there. I don’t think I will ever live this one down but not in the way you think. On the contrary, I think my family is happily impressed that little, ole Gnomey is not quite as vanilla and boring as they all thought. My children and children's children will hear about this for years to come. The Boyfriend, on the other hand, is a bit freaked that my collection of graphic videos outnumbers his—me having one and him having never, ever come near one of those tapes willingly in his life.

Sorry dear. Did I mention that I haven’t used that TV in 3 or 4 years? That is may not have been and most likely wasn't me who viewed and left the tape there? Did I ever tell you that “You da man, man”? If not, baby, you da man and I threw the tape away—without hesitation or remorse.

July 19, 2006

It's Raining Books...

I just discovered yet another awesome thing about being a writer. No, not that it is self-fulfilling in a way no other profession could possibly be or that it is the realization of a life-long dream. No, not the cool reaction you get when you answer "I am a writer" when questioned about what you do for a living. Instead, it is because I found out that I can get free books.

That's right! Free books, which is also the realization of a life-long dream (though the collection weighs heavy on the bookshelves and is a pain in the ass on moving day). How? Well, I have been researching an article about hiking with children--how to, what to bring, where to go locally--and found a book published by a local author about the subject. I contacted the publisher in order to reach this author for interview and their publicity rep sent me a free copy of the book in question, all about hikes in Arizona which is, handily, where I live and therefore hike often. She also threw in a copy of Arizona Hikes for Dogs--trails ideal for pooches and the hikers who own them. Why? I guess she thinks I will use that info in another article. Good plan because, hey, I am definitely thinking about it.

I bitch--we all bitch--about certain aspects of our everyday lives. Sometimes, a tiny little gift falls out of the blue, giving you a tickle of joy. Someone remind me of my free books next time I rant off about how everything sucks, ok?

July 17, 2006

A falling dream...

I had a very strange dream today, one of such blatant symbolism that I feel I just must inflict the random images upon the world. I was travelling to a place I had never been, a place that seemed otherworldly or futuristic. All humans had retreated under the ground, building their cities below the crust of the Earth. The city we were driving around--we being I don't remember who, other than someone's grandparents were there, not mine but somebody's--was built on either side of a thin but deep crevice. There were roads going back and forth between different sections of this city along narrow, two-lane bridges with no railings. The world just dropped off into distant mist off the shoulder of the road. Think of Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, where he make the "leap of faith" over the bottomless valley and you will have an idea of what I mean. The gap, however, was slightly wider.

We had travelled back and forth along these bridges and we were on some kind of roadtrip. I know because I was reading a book like I often do on such trips, a thick paperback book. I am talking about an epic--the spine was 3 inches thick. For some strange reason, the car then was gone. I was/we were then on foot somewhere along the edge of this crevice, looking down upon the bridges spanning the bottomless depths and I felt very attached to this book. I couldn't lose it, I knew, though why, I didn't. Naturally, I began to fall and my heart was beating very fast.

Something caught me, though. I was holding onto something, somehow that was preventing my fall. I looked up to find it was the book. I was holding onto either cover and the open pages had caught on a cable or wire that crossed the chasm. Still not out of danger--I was dangling, unable to get back up to the ground I had been standing on--I held onto that book and looked down at my feet. I was wearing a plaid skirt.

Literature as my salvation. Literature as a delicate salvation--not a hard-cover but a flimsy novel that could tear, leaving me to tear off into the depths, my scream becoming softer and more frantic as I fall out of sight. But, I was caught nonetheless.

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas...

With a homemade tomatillo sauce and a filling of butternut squash, red repper, onion and potato, The Boyfriend declares this dish "an orgasm for the stomach." While that description may be a bit ribald, the taste will convince you of its truth. These enchiladas may just be the proof to all meat-eaters that there is a such a thing as a wonderful and satisfying meatless main course. Yum.

July 15, 2006

Shrimp Stuffed Bell Peppers...

Aren't they purdy?

Inspired by a meal we shared at my father's house some time ago--and I have been bugged to repeat by The wowed Boyfriend ever since--I created these shrimp stuffed bell peppers. I did not ask him for the recipe, however, because I knew he did not use one. He, like I, is a very freeform chef. The basic ingredients were the lightly cooked (halfway done) shrimp, onions and garlic in olive oil and a dash of Balsamic. Add pre-cooked rice, an Italian tomato sauce and whatever fresh herbs you have lying around the house--I believe I had some basil, parsley and tarragon. Stuff inside the peppers and baked for 45 minutes (30 of those mintues covered by foil). Next time, serve with extra sauce on the side.

July 12, 2006

Worked out of Work...

I have butted my head against a wall today, the wall of a moral dilemma. To work or not to work, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous laziness or take arms against a sea of employment and by opposing end it. I have been presented with a limited amount of work, which I tend to finish rather quickly—bad girl!—and thereby find myself with no tasks left to complete. I have worked myself out of work, in a manner of speaking.

My momma didn’t raise no fool. I think that if I am being paid to work and there is work to do, I shall do it and do it to the best of my ability. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played as many games of spider solitaire as the rest of them (between tasks, like a sorbet between courses to clear the mind, or on what should be my smoke/coffee break if I did either of those things—yummm… cigarettes). But I am penalizing myself in a way for being productive because, if I have no work, I either go home and don’t get paid or sit and pretend to be busy. As George in Seinfeld once advised—just look upset.

Maybe the sales book I completed yesterday has gone to my head but the situation just illustrates the implicit difficulties in the employer vs. employee relationship. If it is not your business and your profit to be made, you are more likely to raid the supply closet for extra pens, make long-distance phone calls on the company dime and (ahem) play spider solitaire while looking upset. In truth, I have no incentive to work quickly or efficiently if I am not reaping the reward of that speed. Producing 10 widgets an hour for minimum wage doesn’t do me any good if I can produce 8 and earn the same wage. Might as well put my feet up on the desk and surf the web.

Owning your own business or being an independent contractor is truly the way to function in the business world. That way, I get paid per job that I do. Hence, if I do the job quickly, I get paid quickly. And if I find myself in the situation I am currently in, I could either pick up another assignment or, if there were none to be had, take a day or two off.

I know that there are a lot of freelance writers out there. I am one of them to a certain degree, although I only take on a few projects a month in addition to my full-time, bill-paying job. From what I know personally and from research, it is a full-time job just to land enough jobs to work full-time. And how do we all compete with one another when so many hopeful authors take on projects for free to get a few bylines and build their portfolio?

No, no. I am honestly asking. Any ideas?

To end this post that began with Hamlet, let me “bring it down low” to wrap up with a thought on hard work from Mr. Brad and the tragically defunct, forever-stoned Sublime:

Daddy he once told me, “Son, you be a hard-working man.”

And Momma she once told me, “Son, you do the best you can.”

But then one day, I met a man who came to me and said,

“Hard work good and artwork fine but first take care of head.”

July 10, 2006

In Tribute to my Spoons...

When I was a little girl, my sister and I had a children's cookbook. I don't know where on earth we got it, whether it was a gift or what, but it was a spiral-bound bunch of colorful pages with a thicker, laminated cover. I think it was a picture of a bear on the front. Maybe it was a person. Either way they were wearing the quintessential chef's hat and a toothy smile. Holding up a wooden spoon with one hand as if in greeting.

In this cookbook, there were recipes simple enough for children to make with limited adult supervision. In fact, I particularly recall the repeated warnings to let the adult handle the knife whenever something had to be chopped (or peeled or the stove turned on or, well, everything but spreading peanut butter on celery). I know the book got a lot of use. It was coated with sticky things and flour fingerprints to prove it. My memory recalls only one recipe, however: chunky applesauce. A limited ingredient list and skins on the apples--still some of the best I have ever tasted in its utter simplicity and reverance for the apple (my juicy and crisp friend, you!). I still feel bad about one of my mother's beautful clay bowls. As far as I remember, it was thick, cool to the touch and mottled with a few earthy colors. We forgot (well, I guess at that time I didn't know) about pouring the hot apples into the bowl without tempering the bowl first. The heat was too much of a shock and the bowl split. I felt very bad about that bowl.

I had a few things that I made in the kitchen and, after I got the applesauce down pat, I made most of them without adult supervision. The Tollhouse chocolate-chip cookie recipe was so familiar to me that I knew it by heart--though I always added an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. More dangerously, I also made suckers/lollypops to sell for fundraisers by melting sugar to blistering temperatures and pouring it into molds.

It is that cookbook, though, that sticks in my memory and today I will say goodbye to a part of that childhood self. You see, that spiral-book book came with a set of plastic measuring spoons, white plastic with labels in primary colors. It is only today, at the age of 26, that I am finally saying goodbye to these well-worn, well-loved spoons. Their labels are long gone--I can identify these close friends without their nametags anymore. They have lived in the drawers of endless apartments and have survived falling to the bottom of the dishwasher (next to the heating element) on more than one occasion.

Now, it is time to say goodbye. I bought a new, stainless-steel set at Sur La Table yesterday. I wanted to buy out the whole damn store (I could spend hours, I tell you, hours!) but I came home with those shiny beauties. So, I bid the spoons of my youth adieu. You have served me well, ladies, and your loyal service will be remembered. While my new spoons are shiny and sleek, they do not have your history. They did not bring me from child to chef like you did. Thanks for the education, darlings, and best of luck to you. I hope you meet up with the big, happy chef-bear in the great beyond, or wherever old kitchen equipment goes after death. You have certainly earned your wings.

July 07, 2006


Being the liberal-leaning, moderately feminist girl that I am, how am I supposed to react when my boss calls a group of women "heifers?" Granted, this was in regards to a wedding photo shoot that he was considering in terms of advertising material. The attractive nature of the bride, groom and wedding party are intrinsic to the value of that advertising. I know that. I may resent it, but I know it.

Does that justify the reference?

I have known for quite some time that this gentleman had certain notions about attractiveness being an admirable quality. In fact, it has gone so far that certain photography subjects are deemed "wall candy," as in fit for display upon the walls of the studio. Again, I know this attitude is relevant in terms of advertising a photo service--image is everything and we are all drawn towards beautiful things.

It makes me wonder, however. How many other things rely upon appearance for this gentleman? Did mine effect whether or not I was hired? Was it discussed as I have heard such matters discuss (i.e. these brides) when I was not present?

Look, I don't know if that answer is yes or no. I am not in a position to judge whether it is right or wrong. I only know that it makes me view this man as slick, superficial and unprofessional. Might I even say, gasp, sleazy?

July 06, 2006

Random thoughts on the word “appropriate”…

What is it I have against this word? It is just an unassuming arrangement of letters, meant to cause no grief. And yet, grief it causes. Why? I think it is ultra-dangerous because the definition of the word is that the word will be defined by the one speaking it.

If one says, “Gnomey, it is not appropriate to go to the store in your pajamas,” they are defining appropriate as “ladylike and composed.” If I define appropriate as “suited to my mood,” then some plaid flannel pants are exactly appropriate.

If one says, “Gnomey, it would not be appropriate to make love to your partner in his parent’s house,” they are defining appropriate as “concerning yourself with the supposed, imagined feelings of others and comporting yourself accordingly.” If I define appropriate as “fitting for the moment,” then by golly, it sure is!
If one says, “Gnomey, I just want to make sure you are handling things in the appropriate manner,” they are defining appropriate as “the way I would do it.” Right? Am I right?

Strange, then, that another definition of “appropriate” is to “give or assign” and, even more forcefully, “to seize” (with the emphasis on a different syllable, of course). A person appropriates the word appropriate when they decide to lay it on someone else. I know, I know. It is my standard rebellion without a cause, I suppose. And, this reaction is also due the fact that I received this third comment today at work.

In the end, like many words, appropriate is relativistic. Who is to say what is fitting? Even in the physical world of clothing, we disagree about what constitutes a good fit—my mother used to claim my pants were far to low. As a wordsmith, I am intricately interested in the use of words and also (that rebellion thingy again) in how to misuse them to my own ends. Where is the interest in a language that is always printed in black and white?

To that end, enjoy Lewis Carroll and his thoughts on being appropriate in public:

Be what you would seem to be—or, if you'd like it put more simply, never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.

On a side note, check out the link Google gave me when I typed in the vague search term "inappropriate." This, of course, was a mild version of those results!

July 05, 2006

The Sweestest Thing...

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July with no hangovers or singed eyebrows. Nor both at the same time—they seem to go hand in hand, right? We had a great time at my Pop’s house playing water volleyball, making up the rules as we went along. Just in case you ever want to play, you will have to remember that the deep end team’s gets an extra player, double hitting is okay and to the right of the rock in the shallow end in out of bounds.

The food, which is always my favorite part, also turned out smashingly. Everybody loved the sweet potato french fries and I have been asked to provide the recipe. Though I considered being the kind of person to withhold the information, feeling powerful and laughing evilly with the knowledge of my own superiority, I would rather be a sweet, kindly gnome who gives out her secrets gracefully.

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Fries
2 lbs. sweet potatoes/yams, peeled and cut into ½ inch strips
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tb packed brown sugar
1 Tb chopped, fresh oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

Place cut potatoes in large Ziploc bag and pour in oil/spice mixture. Seal the bag well and shake, shake, shake your bootie until all the pieces of potato are coated with the mixture. Place on a greased cookie sheet or shallow baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir them up and return to the oven to broil at 400 degrees for a bit of crispness for a maximum of 10 additional minutes. You could also, of course, deep fry the potatoes or even cook them up on the grill.
No more holidays now until, let’s see… Geez. No holidays until Labor Day? That freaking sucks. Until then we shall just have to celebrate the everyday occasions which often pass unremarked and unnoticed. Personally, I would like to celebrate the enjoyment of Orange Pekoe tea on a rare, rainy morning in Phoenix as well as The Boyfriend, who brewed the pot of said tea for me. Oh, and the fact that I get to wear my new green raincoat. Yay.

July 03, 2006

I have been remiss...

I finally have a fully-functioning computer again instead of an over-sized, over-priced spider solitaire machine. Yay! After three maintenance visits, the Qwest people finally fixed our internet service and it is back to the state that it was before our fateful trip. I don't even know what to do with myself now! I have so many blogs to catch up on and research to complete. Wherever shall I begin?

Watch out internet, here I come.

Well, that is, I will after the Fourth of July celerations are over. This year, we have a guest list of more than 20 and I am bringing the sauteed mushrooms, sweet potato fries and (drum roll please) the chocolate rum cake for dessert. There will be pool volleyball and beer and poker. And, I get to spend time with my big sister and her little surprise (who is making her tummy so much bigger). Meet my little niece/nephew--Meet my niechew--(they don't want to know the sex)--that is due in early October.