Monthly Archives: November 2008

A Sampling of a Sunday

I don’t have much for you today, folks, but what DO I have, I freely give.  I’m good like that.

I went to my Sunday yoga class this morning for the first time in nearly a month.  It was nice to be back, and I’m still trying to suck all the centered out of yoga that I can.  I’m feeling better than I was a few days ago, but I’m still not quite there yet.

After class, Mr. Chili met me with the girls at the Home Depot (or, as we call it, the Home Despot) to forage for painting supplies and humidifiers.  The humidifiers were to replace the two that had effectively corroded in the basement since last winter, and the paining supplies are because we’re going to chip away one more bit of the home improvement project (you know; the one that started three years ago?) by re-doing the downstairs bedroom.  Once the girls moved into the upstairs room, the one downstairs has been largely neglected.  Roofers are (hopefully) coming tomorrow to replace the old portion of the roof, and they’re bringing a dumpster with them.  We’ll rip the carpet out of the room, repaint, then Mr. Chili will put down new wood flooring.  Bruder will be pleased to spend Christmas week in a nice, newly refreshed room.

I have to stroll Beanie to the neighbors’ house for a play date in a few minutes, then I’ll come back and put together a couple of loaves of bread.  I’ve got a turkey breast for dinner (I was craving more Thanksgiving dinner), and I have a couple of papers to read before classes start again tomorrow morning.  I promised myself that I’d go into the last few weeks of class ENTIRELY prepared, and that means entering into my computer a bunch of grades I’ve got in a notebook, assessing all the paper revisions that students have turned in, and having the rest of the semester – all two weeks of it – planned out.  Oh, and it means re-reading A Christmas Carol for my TCC lit. class; I’m looking forward to that.  All this along with the 4:00 Patriots’ game and the choice of Hancock or Casino Royale for a movie before bed.

So, that’s all I’ve got for you.  How are YOU spending YOUR Sunday?


Filed under Home and Family, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life

It Seems That I’m Really a Teenaged Girl


I took Punkin’ Pie to see this movie this afternoon*.


I went in with pretty low expectations.  All of the reviews I’d heard had been kind of lukewarm and, really, while I found the books engaging, I wasn’t sucked in the way a lot of other people have claimed to be (and I certainly wouldn’t put them in the same league as the Outlander books).

I was pleasantly surprised.  While there were certainly a lot of places where the film could have been stronger in its story-telling, the plot moved along, the characters were pretty true to their counterparts in the novels (Holy COW, but Jacob looked exactly like I pictured him!  I think I gasped), and the whole thing was entirely satisfying.  It was left wide open for a sequel, and I’m already looking forward to it.

Punkin’ and I both left the theatre with the understanding that this would be an addition to our DVD collection when it’s released for sale.  The film filled a craving for romance and suspense, and was entirely appropriate for both Punkin’, who’s 11, and me, who’s fast approaching 40.  I agree with the general consensus that one would get far more out of the film if one’s read the novel, but even that isn’t required to enjoy the story for what it is.  Really, if you’re in to this sort of thing, go see it.  It was fun.

*Daddy and Beanie went to another theatre in the complex and saw Madagascar II.  Daddy’s review was something along the lines of “films like this make people bow to the altar of Pixar.”  I think I got the better end of the afternoon’s deal.


Filed under admiration, books, fun, movies, Parenting, reading


Today’s post is a “Faintly Frustrated, Family by the Fireside, Fucking Floral Friday.”  I can’t add “frosty” to that, because we’re expected to see mid-forties today.

First, the Faintly Frustrated part (let’s get that out of the way first, shall we?).  There have been a LOT of things going on lately that have conspired to throw me a little off my center, and I’m finding that’s affecting more than I expected.  I’m going to be mindful, for the next little while, of keeping things in perspective and trying to recognize what’s really important, but it’s going to take me a bit, I think, to really feel like myself again.

Take yesterday, for example.  I knew – KNEW – that there would be kitchen drama; I even mentioned it in yesterday’s post.  There ALWAYS is, and I knew that yesterday would be no exception.  I was unpleasantly surprised, though, by how much it got to me.

MIL is the kind of cook who thinks that high heat is the only way to go, but she’s also highly distractable.  The end result is that she burns stuff – a LOT and often – but fails to see the correlation between cranking her burners up to 10 then wandering off to play a few songs on the piano and the smoke that comes from her kitchen.  Anyway, I was puttering around in the kitchen, turning shit down and making sure that everything was heating gently and well (and, not for nothing, also timed so that it would all be the right temperature by the time we were ready to eat).  Satisfied that everything was well, I came out to the living room to do a little socializing.  At some point unbeknownst to me, Mother went back into the kitchen and turned everything – the burners under the veggies and the gravy AND the oven – right the fuck back up.  The onions on top of the green beans were essentially charcoal, there was a lovely crust of burned gravy at the bottom of the pan (which I managed to save by NOT letting her scrape it all up and mix it in) and the rolls were inedible.

My placecard at the table?  It had my maiden name on it.  I’ve been married to Mr. Chili for nearly 13 years, and this pissed me right off (though we discovered, shortly after, that Mother had, many years ago and in good, frugal, Yankee fashion, flipped the old card over and put my married name on the inside; she’d just put the card down wrong on the table).

Both of these things bothered me a LOT more than they should have, and I know that’s because I’m just not right right now.  I’m glad I’m going to teach a yoga class this morning; an hour of only being where I am right now might be helpful.

Moving on…

Here’s the Family by the Fireside portion of today’s post.  It’s kind of a lousy picture – I took it with the iPhone – but the girls really love the fireplace at Grandmom and Grandad’s and it was just the perfect shot.  Mr. Chili kept the thing going at just the right intensity, and even though it’d be entirely impractical for us to have a fireplace, sitting in front of this fire made me wish that we had one, too.


And finally, here are the fucking flowers.  Auntie L works as a florist, and told us that the trend lately has been that people are cutting WAAAY back on things like centerpieces.  The shop where she works has seen a significant reduction in orders – and in the total price of orders that DO get made – and she sees that as a direct result of the gasping economy.  I think she’s right, but being the cheapskate Yankee that I am, I could never see spending 85 bucks on a centerpiece, anyway; a bowl of fruit and a couple of pine cones is pretty, too, don’t you think?  Anyway, Mother had a small, cute little centerpiece this year; it was just about perfect.


My day will be thus; part of the morning will be spent at the aforementioned yoga class, trying to regain some of my center…Ommmm.  Then I’ll come home to my family, likely have turkey dinner sandwiches for lunch, and then the Wayfarer Clan – all or parts – will come to Chez Chili to visit.  I WILL NOT be partaking in the retail madness, though I may stop at the video store and rent a couple of movies for the weekend; there are a bunch that have recently come to DVD that I wanted to see in the theatres.

Happy Friday, Everyone!


Filed under celebration, concerns, cooking, doing my duty, dumbassery, F-F-Friday, frustrations, General Bitching, Home and Family, kid cuteness, Little Bits of Nothingness, movies, My husband rocks!, strange but true, technical difficulties, weirdness

The Thanksgiving Meme

Boosted, with gratitude, from Tense Teacher.

Which do you like better: Cooking at your house, or going elsewhere?
I much prefer to host Christmas, so I never gripe about going to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving.  In fact, Thanksgiving has NEVER been held at Chez Chili.

Do you buy a fresh or frozen bird?
Chili turkeys are always frozen – MIL buys a frozen bird for Thanksgiving and I buy another one for Christmas (though I’m considering a prime rib roast this year…)

What kind of stuffing?
Depends. My MIL does both homemade and Pepperidge Farms, depending on how on the ball she is. I kind of prefer the PF stuffing; there’s far more consistency, and it can be made better with a little tinkering of the recipe. When I make it, I use PF with the appropriate tinkering, and cook it OUTSIDE the bird

Sweet potato or pumpkin pie?
I make sweet potatoes as a side dish (roasted with just a little bit of butter and maple syrup). My MIL makes pumpkin pie, but I don’t eat it. I’m not a “spicy” sweet kind of girl; I prefer chocolate.

Do you believe that turkey leftovers are a curse, or the point of the whole thing?
I believe that I’ve already CLEARLY established my love of turkey dinner sandwiches.

Which side dish would provoke a riot if it was left off the menu?
Several folks have gotten pretty fond of my creamed onions (I know, I know – don’t knock ’em till you’ve tried ’em). Frankly, if there’s no canned cranberry sauce, I would pitch a fit.

Do you save the carcass to make soup or stock?
No. I did one year – made stock, that is – and ended up throwing the whole lot of it out about six months later in a freezer purge.

What do you wish you had that would make preparing Thanksgiving dinner easier?
More patience. My MIL is a bit of a forgetful cook, but then she can get cranky when Mr. Chili and I commandeer the kitchen.

Do you get up at the crack of dawn to have dinner ready in the early afternoon, or do you eat at your normal dinner hour?
MIL gets up pretty early to put the bird in, but we usually end up eating right around “late lunch” time. This year will be a little later, I think, but not by much.

If you go to somebody else’s house, what’s your favorite dish to bring?
I’m always tasked with bringing the aforementioned onions and a gallon of apple cider. This year, I’m also bringing some alternative dessert – pumpkin pie and plum pudding (shudder!) don’t appeal to me.

What do you wish one of your guests wouldn’t bring to your house?
Plum pudding. (shudder!)

Does your usual mix of guests result in drama, or is it a group you’re happy to see?
Oh, there’s always drama, but we’re good, stoic New Englanders, so we pretend not to notice.

What’s your absolute favorite thing on the menu?
Mmmm. Gravy and cranberry sauce (but NOT together!)

What are you thankful for this year?
Gratitude is a way of life for me.

Share one family tradition –
I don’t know if this qualifies, but there always has to be SOME consternation surrounding the television.

How many Thanksgivings do you attend?
One. We go to visit my people after dinner.

Where do you attend Thanksgiving(s)?
Mother Chili’s this year. Probably Auntie L’s next year.

Do you have turkey, ham, or both?

Name your fave thing about Thanksgiving.
That after-dinner triptophan buzz

Do you use brown gravy or turkey gravy?
I make turkey gravy from scratch. I’ve been doing it since the second year I was with Mr. Chili (they didn’t make me cook the first year), and now it’s kind of a tradition.

Do you help clean up after Thanksgiving?
Usually. When we’re at Auntie L’s, though, she makes a fuss about it, so we try to help in stealthy, sneaky ways.

What is your least favorite dish at Thanksgiving?
Plum pudding (shudder!)

Out of everything you eat at Thanksgiving, what can YOU cook the best?
I am a goddess in the kitchen. Nothing is beyond my magic.

Do you kill your own turkey?
What?!  Who does that?!

What do you drink with your Thanksgiving feast?
We start with daiquiris (the REAL kind, with lime juice – not the frozen frou-frou drinks), then move on to wine. Just keep it coming, please!

Has there ever been a feud during your Thanksgiving?
Like I said… stoic New Englanders. We seethe on the inside

What kind of veggies do you have with Thanksgiving?
Green bean casserole, sometimes there’s peas, we always have the creamed onions (I KNOW, already!) and potatoes of several different varieties. Oh! One year I made glazed carrots. I might do that again… they were yummy, as I recall…

Do you have appetizers before you Thanksgiving meal?
There are usually crackers and cheese and veggies, but nothing more than that. Don’t want to spoil dinner.

How many people attend your Thanksgiving(s)?
Only 8 this year, and I think that MIL is a bit put out by that. Oh, well!

Have you ever missed a Thanksgiving?
Not yet.

Do you eat Thanksgiving leftovers?

What kind of pie/cake/dessert do you eat for dessert?
I can tell you what I DON’T eat (shudder)!

Do you ever play games at Thanksgiving?
Oh, GOD, no! It’s polite, stoic, New England conversation over coffee and pie.

What time do you eat Thanksgiving?
Usually “late lunch” time – somewhere between two and three o’clock.

Is there anyone who has normally attended Thanksgiving who will not be there this year? Who?
Yes, and that’s what has MIL so put out. Auntie L’s two children and their spouses will not be in attendance this year, though I think Mother Chili suspects that, were dinner held at Auntie L’s, they would be. I also hate that my sister doesn’t join us, but I TOTALLY get why she chooses to eat her dinner elsewhere.

Which person eats the MOST?
Uncle T.

Which person eats the LEAST?

Briefly describe what the women typically do on Thanksgiving.
Which women?  I usually cook and try to engage my father-in-law in conversation.  Oh, I drink, too – does that count?

Briefly describe what the men typically do on Thanksgiving.
Talk and eat (though Mr. Chili also cooks with me… oh, and he drinks with me, too; he’s good like that).

Do any animals attend Thanksgiving dinner?
Not any more. Auntie L used to have a dog, but he died a while back. Mother and Father Chili don’t keep cats anymore.

If so, do they get Thanksgiving scraps?
Doesn’t apply.

Who carves the turkey?
Usually Father Chili, though my husband has taken the task on occasion

Have you ever had to make Thanksgiving all on YOUR OWN?
Not yet. I’ve made most of Christmas dinner all on my own, though; it’s no big deal.

Do you get along with the people you have Thanksgiving with?
Usually, yes!

Baked turkey or fried turkey?
Roasted. (Baked?! You BAKE a cake; you roast a turkey. Sheesh!)

Do you eat gizzards?
EEEEEWWWW! Mother Chili sets out two gravy boats, and the ickies go in one of them. I don’t take from that one. Blech!

Do you like whipped cream on your pumpkin pie?
If I ate pumpkin pie, I’d say yes. I don’t, so no.

Is your Thanksgiving formal, or do you just do whatever?
It’s pretty formal, actually. We dress up; there are candles and cloth napkins and centerpieces. No one puts elbows on the table and the T.V. never gets turned on.

Is your Christmas tree set up before or after Thanksgiving?
AFTER. We usually wait until about the second weekend in December.

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you LOVE Thanksgiving?
I’d give it about an 8.


Filed under celebration, cooking, doing my duty, general kid stuff, Home and Family, Little Bits of Nothingness, meme, My husband rocks!, my oh-so-exciting life, strange but true, television, weirdness

A Seething Caldron

I was driving home from my chiropractor’s appointment this morning, trying to decide what to post about today.

~ I thought I could do a “Nearly Wordless Wednesday,” but I don’t want this space to get bogged down with themes and memes; I do not want to end up with the same features every week.  BOR-RING!

~ I thought about perhaps composing a short story for publication here, but all of my short story ideas are still in their most rudimentary stages. (I’m working on a story about a woman whose husband tells her she’s “too nice to people” and how she simultaneously resents his saying that and believes he’s right.  I’m also kicking around the idea of what happens when two people who haven’t even thought of each other in 20 years reconnect on Facebook.  Neither of these things is ready for any kind of life outside my head yet.)

~ Mr. Chili informed me this morning that the people who predict such things are saying that there’s going to be a perfect convergence of weather around Monday that has the potential to bring “a significant snow event” to New England.


Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 60%
Lo 29°F

The folks I go to for my weather information are only predicting as far as Saturday night, but you can bet your bootie that I’ll be watching the forecasts from here on out.  Parking at Local U. sucks to begin with; adding snow to the mix can only bring more parking hell.  I was really, really hoping to escape the semester without having to deal with snow, but from the sounds of it, I might not get my wish.

~ I thought about throwing up a treatise about how I feel about the nature of discourse, and about why I sometimes come off in ways that surprise people who think they know me.

~ I thought about bitching about how my left arm is sore in ways that I can’t adequately describe to my chiropractor, and about how very hopeful I am that the adjustment I got this morning will help.

~ I thought about writing a review of The Brief History of the Dead, which I read in less than two days and heartily enjoyed.

~ NPR is doing the National Day of Listening Project, and I thought about maybe doing an interview with one of my readers who I don’t know in real life.

I’m a seething cauldron of ideas, is what I’m sayin’ here, People, but none of them feels quite right for today.


So, what would you like to see here?  Do any of the above interest you?  Anything else you might want to read?


Filed under books, frustrations, General Bitching, ideas and opinions, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, Questions, randomness, ruminating, technical difficulties, weather, weirdness

Ten Things Tuesday

In honor of the approaching holiday, here are ten things I’m thankful for:


1.  My family, of course.  These are people who are related to me by blood, law, and love – and, in some cases, a combination of these things – and each one of them brings me to a fuller expression of my own being.

2.  My brain and my willingness to use it.  Attendant to that, I’m grateful for the people who continually challenge my thinking and encourage me to keep thinking.

3.  I am thankful that I have a comfortable, healthy, and productive life.  A lot of how we experience this existence is based on little more than luck, and I am grateful that I’ve been lucky enough to have been given love, an education, and wealth enough to be able to focus on such things.  So many of us are forced to live only for the life; I get to live for much more than the day-to-day survival, and I try to never forget that.

4.  I’m grateful for the little things that, when taken together, don’t seem all that small.  My life is filled with smart and funny and caring people.  The girls draw pictures and plaster them all over the refrigerator.  My car works when I turn the key.  I have hot water on demand.  Sometimes, I get great parking spaces or I hit every light green.  Something doesn’t have to be grand to be meaningful.

5.  I’m thankful for the visceral pleasures that life affords me.  Really good, melt-in-my-mouth, practically orgasmic chocolate.  Orgasms.  Laughter; the kind that makes my belly tight and brings tears to my eyes.  The smell of my pillow or baking bread or my husband’s neck.  The feel of warm kitty fur over the vibration of a contented purr.  Warm chocolate chip cookies and really cold milk.  The warmth of sunlight on my face.  You get the idea.

6.  I know I’ve said it before, and you’re probably all sick of me by now (but it’s my blog, so deal with it!), but I’m infinitely grateful for having met my husband.  Life, in my experience, is so much better and rich and joyful when it’s shared with a like spirit.  Having someone who “fits” makes all the difference.

7.  I’m constantly grateful for my love of reading, and for the people who put out pieces that thrill, challenge, and delight me.  I’m not sure that I’ll ever write any novels, but I will, until the end of my life, be a steady consumer of them.

8.  I am absolutely in love with my job.  I consider teaching a calling – it’s not something I do for money, but something that I do because it makes me feel vibratingly alive.  My dearest wish is that I will always, in one capacity or another, be a teacher.  Along with this comes my deep and abiding appreciation for my colleagues and mentors – people who support me and my continued growth in my calling, and who make me a better teacher and a better person for their presence.

9.  I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made as a result of keeping a blog.  There are so many of you who fill up my world with kindness and support.  You share your lives with me, you offer your opinions and suggestions, you make me laugh, and you call me on my shit.  Thank you – no really; YOU – for being here, and for all that you give to me.

10.  Finally, I’m thankful that I’m aware.  I’m grateful that I can see when I’ve got it good and that I can be mindful enough to recognize that there’s probably more to the “bad” stuff than meets the eye.  I am living my life actively – I’m not just reacting to what happens to me – and I realize that not everyone can say that.

image credit


Filed under admiration, Blogroll, books, compassion and connection, cooking, Dark and Stormy Book Club, Friends, fun, health, Home and Family, ideas and opinions, kid cuteness, Little Bits of Nothingness, love notes, My husband rocks!, my oh-so-exciting life, Parenting, pets, randomness, ruminating, teaching, ten things Tuesday, the jobs

And Thus it Begins

Poor Punkin’ Pie LOST HER SHIT on Saturday night.


Our daughter was having trouble all day – she was edgy and cranky and we couldn’t really figure out why.  She didn’t want to talk about it, so we gave her her space and subconsciously chalked it up to hormones (and no, that is not a dismissive or callous thing to say; she’s begun her decent into the hell of puberty and really is suffering a bit of sporadic, hormonally-induced brain damage).

Saturday night, though, she had a full-on, red-alert meltdown.  She dissolved into tears (for reasons I could not quite discern) and screamed at me that she was “immature.”  When I asked her what in the world made her think that (I, personally, think she’s exactly where an 11-year-old should be on the maturity continuum), she tearfully exclaimed that all her peers “are on Ebay and have pierced ears and wear Hollister shirts and watch t.v.” and that she doesn’t “get to do ANY of that!”

I don’t know if all of her peers have/do these things, but I CAN attest to the fact that Punkin’ doesn’t.

Here’s the thing; I REMEMBER – because I promised myself that I WOULD remember – how awful it was to feel like the ONLY kid in school who didn’t have the cool clothes (in my day, it was designer jeans and white leather Nike low-tops with the red swoosh on the side).  Now, Punkin’ isn’t exactly wearing clothes that identify her as an outlier in the group; her outfits are cute and current, but they don’t have the American Eagle logo on the chest or have “HOLLISTER” emblazoned across the front.  I DO have a hard time paying 20 bucks for a shirt from a “cool” store, but I’m willing to take the kid shopping to see if we can find something that both meets our attire rules (no rips, no stains, no words, but logos are okay) and makes her feel more like part of the group.

On the other hand, I don’t really want to play into the idea that what someone wears (or owns, or drives, or lives in) matters enough to go out and make a big deal over.  I think that Punkin’ gets that – when I asked her if she wanted to be liked just because she wears a certain brand of clothing, she did say “no” – but I still feel conflicted about going out to get her these clothes.  I KNOW that, at least in middle school, it DOES matter, but I don’t want to go creating a monster by buying her a couple of shirts with logos on them and essentially condoning the behavior.

I could take her out to get her ears pierced, but I laid down the conditions for ear-piercing a few years ago and, by Goddess, I’m sticking to them.  I told the girls that when they prove to me that they can be responsible about taking care of their own bodies – when I don’t have to remind them to brush their teeth or take showers or comb their hair or wear clean clothes – I’ll happily take them to get their ears pierced.  I’ve explained that poking holes in one’s ears requires that one care for those holes until they’re properly healed, and that I’m not willing to take on the extra responsibility of nightly alcohol swabbing and earring-twisting if they can’t be bothered to even brush their own teeth on a consistent basis.  So far, Punkin’ has not been able to consistently do those things that will earn her pierced ears, and she admitted as much on Saturday night.  She conceded that what I require of her is neither unreasonable nor overly difficult, so I pointed out that if she really wants her ears pierced that much, she’ll find a way to live up to the responsibility that the act requires.  She wasn’t happy about that – she claims that none of her “friends” had to meet criteria for ear-piercing – butI think she recognizes that, being reasonable and attainable, my requirements aren’t budging.

Sigh.  This mindful parenting shit is hard.


Filed under concerns, doing my duty, frustrations, Parenting