Thursday, July 31, 2008


I don't think that last one is really Italian, and, if by chance it is, I'm sure I didn't use it correctly. But. You are missing the point! My bedroom is a bedroom again, with four walls, no holes, and no unplanned sprinkler system. Maybe you remember me mentioning Operation Get Rid of the Hole in My Bedroom? Well, last night, I finally finished.

If you want to read more about the details, start here in my photostream on Flickr.

After my mom came to visit, and they fixed the leak (if you can call a pipe cut clean in half a leak), we just lived with a hole in our wall. Then I decided to just fix it. After looking up "how to dry wall" on Google, I came up with a plan. Grant doubted my plan, but it was my plan, I knew it could work. When dad came to help with the tree limbs, he helped with the hole dilemma, too, and improved on my original plan. The problem with drywall is that you have to have something on which to attach the sheet rock. (How many sentences on the internet do you think have both "drywall" and "on which" in them? Not only can I mud and tape, I can do it grammatically.)

Our hole was too big for just a mesh covering, so we made the hole bigger. Dad then cut a piece of new sheet rock to fit, and he left me to tape, mud and sand it. I did, and I'm proud to say that you can barely tell where the hole was. I'm available for hire.

Then, to make something happy come from this, I painted that wall green.

See? Where's the hole?

And this is how it looks now.

Operation Get Rid of the Hole in My Bedroom? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Best of Simple Motivation

Today is Primary Day in Oklahoma (Q: Do only political nerds say "Happy Primary Day!" to fellow politicos in text messages? A: Yes.), and I am proudly displaying my participation.

I live for these stickers on Election Day, because I like the written sticky proof that I am involved in our democracy. Just another incentive to vote, because I have PROOF that I did so.

I thought about the stickers this morning, and I think more entities should use them. Maybe it's another form of the gold star system from Kindergarten, but I would like to see these stickers available to me.

From the gym: "I worked out!"
From my house: "I made my bed today!"
From my bank: "My account is not overdrawn!"
From my credit cards: "I paid my bill on time!"
From my job: "I'm a hard worker!"

I would be so much more responsible if there were stickers involved.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Best of Finally Dealing with the Ice Storm

How did you spend your Sunday? Relaxing in the air conditioning with an icy drink?


Sunday morning, I joined my Dad in sporting a hardhat, and we worked in my front yard in the scorching Oklahoma sun. I have the nicest Dad ever, since he decided to spend one of his weekend days helping me. Ever since the ice storm, we have had dead limbs in the big tree in the front, just hanging there ready to live up to their "widow-maker" names. They've been there for a long time, and every time it storms, a smaller one falls. I began to realize I was pressing my luck, and my Dad came to the rescue.

Grant had to miss out on the action because he had to work, so Dad climbed the tree while I was on the ground crew. Dad threw a little sandbag attached to twine over the highest limb he could reach, used the twine to pull a rope over that limb, put on his harness (also known as his "butt belt"), and climbed up the tree.

Before he began the ascent, he taught me two knots so I could be helpful on the ground. One, a bowline, and I don't even remember the name of the second knot, much less how to tie it. I'm a great assistant. Anyway, in my defense, it is really fucking hard for a girl who doesn't know her left from right to remember how to tie a knot. I do remember that the bowline involves going out a hole, around a tree, and back in a hole.

While Dad was in the tree (scaring the shit out of our squirrel, Sammy), he pulled dead branches down, I gave him the all-clear, he dropped them, and I, being the Brush Crew Team Captain (and only member), made them into a pile in our front yard. I also gave car warnings, so I think that made up for the lack of knot-tying knowledge. I had to send up his chain saw on the rope, and my made-up knot worked great. I'm going to call that knot The Court, and you have my permission to use that label on any knot you make up to sound like a knot professional.

Only one limb came close to getting me, and that's because it bounced.

Then Dad's chainsaw stopped working, but that's okay because "we" already got all the dead limbs out of the tree. It was also okay because he had plans to make the bigger limbs into firewood (and I would assist), so those plans fell through, and we got to go inside. To air conditioning, with a lunch of shrimp salad sandwiches and fresh tomatoes. And lots and lots of iced water and tea.

Then we began our second project - Operation Get Rid of the Hole in My Bedroom - but I'm saving that for later, because I want to be able to post a picture of the final result (the happy ending, if you will) and we're not at that place yet. Almost, though. Almost.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Best of Signs

There's going to be a new restaurant on Brookside! In the exact spot where a new restaurant on Brookside failed! For the new new restaurant's sake, I hope the cooking is better than the spelling.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Best of Doing It Anyway

I. HATE. SPEAKING IN FRONT OF GROUPS. I do not enjoy giving a speech to a crowd. I think I do whatever the opposite of enjoying it is - my stomach gets tied up in knots, I get nervous as all hell, and sometimes I have to shotgun a beer or drink a screwdriver (nicely packaged in an innocent orange juice bottle) right before I get on stage. I know it's not a big deal for some people, but I hate it. See my first sentence. I think it ties back to my perfectionism, and being afraid I'm going to both make a mistake and that people will judge me for it.

HOWEVER, I do it anyway. Someone asks me to speak, and I agree to it, and then I dread it until the day comes. Then the dread turns into terror, and maybe I have a drink to calm those nerves, and I get through it. Sometimes with a shaky voice, and once memorably when I fell flat on my face on the stage, but I do it.

Today was one of those days. I had to speak to a group of young Latin American leaders about what I do in politics, and I was hoping something would happen (maybe a fender bender?) so I would have to cancel. I worried, fretted, and griped about it all morning, trying to stay in bed. Grant made me get up.

I got dressed, bitching the whole time, threw myself out of my house, and got in my car. I read over the materials about the group again, and realized they were being sponsored by the Secretary of State. That made it cooler and also freaked me the fuck out all the more. When I got to the venue, I was the only car in the parking lot. I tried the door: locked. I thought, "THANK GOD. I can get in my car, drive away, and tell the host organization that I TRIED to make it, but no one was there." I almost drove away.

But I stayed. And I spoke. And I did a good job. And I did it without the edge-taking-off effects of a drink. And I think it is one of the coolest things I've ever done.

Best of Birthdays

The Thompson boy named Gavin has a birthday today, and I like him so much I'd bake a cake for him. (And I HATE cake.) Instead, I'm going to D-FEST with his Irish twin tonight, where I will drink lots of beer in his honor. He was invited, but he already had better plans with his new girlfriend in Kansas City. I'm betting they share a hotel room, but I live in sin, so who can judge?

Happy 30th!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Best of Reuniting

Last weekend, I spent 6 hours in the car to get to Granbury, Texas, for a family reunion. It's a massive group of people on my Dad's side - my grandmother's first cousins and their progeny. I'm on the third-cousin (fourth generation) level, and we have five generations that attend. Here's my level:

When I was little, Garrett and Grant would come to Grand Lake for one week every summer. It was a constant. Sometimes their other cousins or my other cousins would be there, but the three of us always showed up. The first day, we weren't quite sure of each other, but by the last of the week we were inseparable. We played a lot of Monopoly until the middle of the night, slept in our swimsuits, and once Garrett drove my Uncle Kenny's Jet Ski (the stand up kind) into the shore of our cove. I basically worshiped Garrett, even though he is one month to-the-day YOUNGER than me. He is still cooler.

Everyone is so grown up now. I think the fact that I just wrote that makes me old, but I still feel behind. My cousin Corey, who is just a year or two older than me, is married and 8 months pregnant with her SECOND child. Garrett is married and his wife is very pregnant with their first child. That's what I learned this weekend. That I should have a ring on my finger and be knocked up. I'll get back to you on the progress of that. I sure WANT a baby, but I know I don't need one right now. I'm barely grown up enough to take care of me. Give me a few years to get it together, I guess.

The other thing about a weekend reunion is that I didn't have very much time to talk to the people I really wanted to catch up with, and it still felt like the first day syndrome with my cousins I hadn't seen in 8 years. If we would have had a few more days, you would have seen people in their twenties spend five hours playing a very intense and competitive real estate game. Instead, I still felt slightly insecure like I am the gray sheep of the family - not pretty enough, not successful enough, not married enough? One of my second cousins once removed (that's right, I understand that shit) told me I was pretty now. Now?

I think reunions are good for second-guessing life choices, but at least this is preparing me for my 10-year high school reunion next May. Maybe I'll Romy and Michele it - I use post-it notes enough to make it work.

AND there is talk to reunite the parts of the family that consistently came to the originals at Grand Lake, and to spend a little bit more time, and I think that would be loads more fun. Without all the distractions (Can you refer to some members of your family like that? I can.) we'd get to talk, laugh, play games, drink, swim - everything important about the family and summer combination. Also, when I'm a grandmother, and I organize this stuff, I'm going to tell my kids and grandkids that they don't get to bring friends. If I would have brought friends during my summer reunions growing up, I would have never bonded with Garrett and Grant*.

To the fun stuff:
1) We got in one round of spades - Oklahoma (Marla and me) vs. Texas (Lori and Garrett). I won't tell you who won, but let's just say BOOMER SOONER! Which is good, because I hate losing.

2) I got to hang out with Audrey Grace SO MUCH! We decided we are Best Friend Cousins (BFCs) for life.

We went shopping together (where I bought a dress she said LOOKED SO GOOD on me), we swam together (where she broke out into Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" - pretty impressive for an almost 11 year old), and we screamed on the Sea Doo together. When I was getting tips from her on working out (she's a gymnast and works out 17 hours a week), and I told her I wanted to lose some more weight, and she said, "YOU'RE NOT FAT!" See, you love her, too.

*The fact that I have a Grant and Garrett in my family, and that I'm dating a different Grant who has a brother Garet isn't confusing AT ALL. When I was at the reunion, and I was telling someone that Grant (my boyfriend) couldn't make it because he had to work, someone overheard and told me that Grant was on his way. Too much explaining.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Best of Welcomes

This was waiting for me when I got home from work today, and it was badly needed. Red wine, flowers, post-its - can it get any better? Grant's a keeper.

Best of Rain

A good friend of mine once told me that rain is good for the soul, because it washes away everything old and bad, allowing a clean start.

I must be needing a new beginning. Rain is showing up in unexpected places.

For about a year now, whenever it rains outside, it also rains in my car. I think it is getting in the back window since I have an old soft-top convertible, and it collects where the top folds down. If it rains too much, that overflows, and somehow my back floorboards get wet (but the seats and the front are fine). This is annoying, but I can live with it. I don't put my briefcase on the backseat floor (and I yell at car visitors who try to do so with theirs), I put beach towels in the back window and pull them out sopping wet, and I have gotten semi-used to the smell of mildew.

What I can't live with?

Rain in my BEDROOM. That's right. About a week and a half ago, I was still in bed with Henry while Grant was in the shower, and suddenly I was getting sprinkled. I thought Henry was peeing on me - MAN WAS HE GOING TO GET IN TROUBLE - but then I realized that he also looked confused. And the entire bed was getting wet. And so was the dresser. And so were the walls and the floor. What. The. Hell? I jumped out of bed, ran to the bathroom, and yelled at Grant to turn off the water. He couldn't hear me, so I tried the door... locked. I yell at him even louder TO TURN OFF THE WATER. He thinks I'm yelling at him to turn off the water so he can hear me - not because Noah could build an ark in our bedroom - so he yells back that he is still soapy, and he'll be out in a minute. I don't want to think what the down comforter would look like in a minute. I yell at my loudest (you're welcome, neighbors!) that it is raining in our room, and that a pipe must have burst. He turns off the water.

I start mopping up, with Henry at my heels, saying a few choice words. Grant dries himself off, and much to my shock, gets dressed before coming to help. In his defense, he thought there was just water on the floor, not covering everything -- including me -- in the room.

After a small hole in the wall, then a bigger hole, then covering it with a picture for my mom's visit, not showering for a few days (but baths were fine), then having a plumber come out, cutting out an even bigger hole - we found out that the soft pipe for the shower had been cut clean in half. It must have happened when the contractors put up new sheet rock before we moved in, and ever since then, when someone took a shower, the water sprayed inside the wall, eroding it away, little by little. This makes me think of the escape in the Shawshank Redemption.

Then, because the universe loves me, it succeeded in making a hole and creating a sprinkler system in my bedroom the day my mom arrives for a visit.

We had just rearranged the room, and I loved being in there, but now I'm back to hating it. My dresser is in the other bedroom. There is a big hole on my wall. When we wanted to watch TV, we put it on the ironing board until that bent the metal.

How depressing is this image? That's my bedroom, folks. I'm waiting for the clean start part.

(Also, George Bush is letting us know that the economy isn't so bad. At a 10:20am news conference, shocking scheduled at the same time as the Fed Chairman is telling Congress that the economy is pretty bad and not gonna get better anytime soon. That's even more depressing.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Best of a Happier Ending

This is Gallagher:

Gallagher has the strongest personality for such a short little dog. He does not realize he is small, so he'll jump right on your belly when you are resting on the couch. He acts tough, but he takes care of everyone. When our calf, Noel, was born on Christmas day, Kenneth had to take care of her and bottle feed her milk. Gallagher stood by and would lick her face clean when she was finished. He loved my lab Daisy, and you may remember that he took her bed after she passed away. After that, though, he started chewing up both dog beds, even after mom safety-pinned the covers down, which earned him a trip to the vet. It also pissed off our boxer, Chester, so he took the big bed back since Gallagher ruined his. But... that's okay. Gallagher just snuggles up to him in the middle of the night on the same bed. He's so big and heavy and stubborn; when he decides to do something, you can't really convince him otherwise. When he stayed with us earlier this year, Whitters was having a rough night, and while she cried in her room, he put his paws on her back and just comforted her for an hour.

On Sunday night, after my mom returned to Kingfisher from hanging out for the weekend with us in Tulsa, he was hit by a car in front of our house. He made it up to the house, and Mom got him inside and realized something was really wrong. She stayed up with him all night, petting him and giving him water, while he was in shock, and they both waited until she could take him to the vet early in the morning. He has a broken hip, and might need surgery, but he is going to make it. As the vet put it, he's a "tough pup." That he is. He's a lover and a fighter. Thank goodness he is a stubborn little motherfucker, and I know he will fight to survive this and live on to take care of my family. Your thoughts and prayers would sure help, though.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Best of the IRS

Like everyone else, I was excited about my own stimulus check (yay $600 free dollars!) even though I don't think it will be very stimulating to the economy. Here's an example of my bad luck. They send them out based on the last two digits of your social security number. What's yours? Mine is "99." Seriously. I get mine in the last batch. Gah, this should be like getting in line in elementary school, when sometimes your teacher would let you line up in reverse alphabetical order. This Ruark finally got to be towards the front! So, IRS, if we do this stimulus again (hopefully Obama will win, and we won't), make sure you do reverse numerical order. Thanks.

I was supposed to get my check around this time in July. On Saturday, I got an envelope in my mailbox from the IRS that said "Stimulus Information - IMPORTANT - Do NOT Throw Away." Would you think that was a check? I did. I opened it, and no check. They sent me a LETTER to let me know that my check should come in the next week. But not to call or write for 6 weeks if I don't get it. What?

Our brilliant government just spent millions of dollars mailing pre-letters to all tax-payers. That's so dumb. I'd rather them forgo my "hey, you think this is a check, but really it is a letter to tell you what you already know about your check" correspondence, and just add $0.42 to my payment. I promise I'd spend it better.

I was going to use mine to pay down on debt (not what I'm supposed to do, but it's mine, so I will not be stimulating anything with it, so suck it), but then, did you hear? I have a crazy expensive medical bill that it will be going towards ("towards," because it won't completely cover it). There's irony there. I'm getting money from the government to cover something that I think the government should cover for me anyway. Stimulate that.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Best of Restraint

One week ago today, I started a "cleanse" for my body. Yeah, yeah, it sounds new-age-y, and it kind of is, but I thought it would be good for me. I heard about it here, and since I love Dooce and think she's the coolest, I thought - why not? I went to Borders with Whitters to get the book Quantum Wellness, and started reading to get to the cleanse instructions. It also had recipes* with obscure ingredients that met the restraints. Here's what The Cleanse entailed - for 21 days I could not consume the following:

Animal products (no milk, eggs or CHEESE)

If you read that, and think "what the hell is left?" well, then, you're right. I could eat:


Try it for ONE day. It sucks. SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS. But I stuck to it. It is impossible to find foods that are easy to make that do not have either eggs or gluten (found in wheat) in them. I'm lucky I'm not a lactose intolerant with Celiac's disease, but man, at least then I could eat sugar. And drink coffee. And drink wine until I forgot about everything I couldn't have.

Regardless, I stayed on my journey. My lack-of-caffeine headache went away, but I felt hungry at all times. I also started to not feel so great, and got front headaches, but I thought it was my body "detoxing." WRONG. On my day four, I read this. Oh, cool, I just shocked my system so my immune system is shutting down. To retaliate, Grant and I went out to eat and I had CHICKEN. Tasty, tasty meat. With mashed potatoes that had better had some animal product mixed in them.

I'm still trying to keep part of it up. I haven't had coffee or alcohol in 8 days. I try to follow the cleanse guidelines for breakfast and lunch, and then I have a regular meal with Grant, but we're cutting down on meat (for health and cost reasons). I made some great discoveries of foods I would have NEVER tried otherwise. For breakfast, I found this hot cereal, Rice & Shine, made from brown rice, and it is so so good with some soy milk, agave nectar and blackberries or blueberries from the farmer's market. I also had some really great toaster waffles that were both gluten and dairy-free, that I covered with agave nectar and fresh fruit. Instead of coffee, I drank orange juice and water. For lunch, I had steamed veggies and cold peanut sesame noodles. For dinner, I made a great black bean, tomato, rice and avocado meal with cilantro that I will eat again and again. Grant grilled me veggies and mushrooms. It was possible, just not enjoyable.

Trust me on this - never try gluten-free and dairy-free bread made from brown rice. The entire loaf went directly in the trash can once I tried one bite (and made Grant try it to validate me). Bread should always be made from wheat and eggs. ALWAYS.

I have eaten almost everything we bought at the farmer's market. In 13 days, I fully plan on having a glass of red wine with a fabulous dinner. I drank a whole lot more water because I was not drinking coffee, and because food was so restricted. I still am, and I can see a difference in my complexion and skin. So that's cool. And, you know, probably a good thing since we're about to lose some Starbucks. Now I just have to figure out where I can still get my Sunday NY Times...

*It was only after I quit the cleanse (or at least Kathy's version) that I realized she had included IN HER BOOK recipes and meal plans that included ingredients with sugar and gluten. I spent two hours at Whole Foods trying to find items that I could eat - like veggie burgers (have diary) and soy sausage (has gluten). Do some research. Gah.