Monday, December 31, 2007

Obligatory New Year's post

You all know how I feel about sharing my resolutions for the coming year, but I did promise to fess up to how I did on last year's resolutions (okay, two years ago...).

The fact is, not too shabbily. Last year I my resolve to two-fold: to continue my quest for serenity and to begin to eat more heathfully. We'll get to the first later in order to dispense with the more boring of the two, because actually I started out the year vowing that I was going to cook in such a way that I wouldn't be contributing to Dirtman gaining weight. I hope you appreciate how carefully-worded that was. At no point did I want to be the one responsible for Dirtman's weight loss because, frankly, that's none of my business. But I do recognize that, as the only one who can consistently conjure a meal around here, I can't ignore my role in his health. In the back of my mind was, of course, the thought that perhaps I might, myself, shed a few pounds.

And to get it out of the way: I did and I kept it off, though it was a meager 25 pounds. But it is still gone, through holidays and mood swings and everything else, it's gone.

But more importantly is the way I view food and eating and that whole issue of "losing weight." I refuse to buy into the hype anymore and refuse to compare myself to people who just happened to luck out on the metabolism spectrum. I'm not wasting another minute on that damn treadmill staring at the wall because it gives me a "calories burned" read out and a measurement of miles walked. I'm taking my dogs for a walk through the woods and if that, coupled with dragging three loads of laundry around the house and vacuuming 11 tons of dog hair, isn't enough exercise for a 50-year-old woman, then someone is skewing the stats for their own benefit, whatever that may be. I pay attention to nutrition and this past year made it a point to learn more about what my body doesn't need and what it does need. And that's it. If I'm lucky I've got maybe 30 years to live and I'm not spending it squirting lemon juice on lettuce and saying, "MMMM, I love this so much better than Starbuck's coffee ice cream."

Enough about that.

As for my ongoing quest for serenity, this year was a real challenge (like Randy Quaid in Independence Day, I picked a hell of a time to give up drinking -- which I also did for real this year because it started to mess with my blood sugar so much. I do still have a drink every now and then, but I always regret it and it doesn't happen very often.) Anyway, as previous posts have indicated, this year did not lend itself to calmness and peace. But the whole point in something becoming a lifestyle is that it is not drastically affected by other issues swirling about.

Still, I've managed to stay calm this year and not get stuck in panic mode. Panic makes you do dumb things, like listen to the wrong people, people who claim to be "helping" when, in fact, they have a whole other agenda, usually involving making themselves feel good or putting you "in your place." Whenever you hear between the lines of what someone is saying the phrase, "Who do you think you are?" this is probably the wrong person to listen to.

Which brings me to my big lesson learned this year, which is to listen to my gut (or, for the more sentimental among you, my heart). I'm more intuitive than I've given myself credit for and, if we'd acted on that, we'd be better for it. I don't mean to be so cryptic about situations. Honestly, every issue I'm referring to is just too stupid, boring and convoluted to go into in depth. Believe me, you're not missing out on something salacious.

All totaled, as a person I'm better off this year than last. That may sound contradictory with what's been going on around here lately, but its true. And that's all I can ask of a year.

So long, 2007. You were by far the fastest-moving year of my life. I have a feeling this is a trend.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

At this festive season of the year...

And now it's on to good news and no more whining until they cut off the internet connection and cart me away, which we all know won't be happening because the Universe will not allow the silencing of the Linguini.

So...Christmas. As despondent as we should have been, we somehow managed to put out own special Linguini deranged twist on this festive day. My sister-in-law Beth came up with the idea that instead of buying more clutter stuff, we instead draw names and buy "gag gifts."

Naturally, those of tender years received their visit from Santa, who is getting old and has drastically reduced the load he's willing dump under the tree. Nonetheless, the Heirs did not do too shabbily: Heir 1 has been wanting an acoustic (Thank God...) bass and Heir 2 earned his letter jacket last year so Santa was a year overdue (Who is this child who earns letters in both sports and academics? I'm convinced he's a changeling. Somewhere there is a geeky, clumsy 17-year-old 8th grader wondering what he's doing in a family of doctors, lawyers and Olympic medalists.)*

So anyway, on to the rest of the gifts:

Dark Garden was anxious that Progeny L begin opening his gift first.

But after two layers of wrapping, we decided to move on. We'll come back to Progeny L.

John Boy, who pulled Dark Garden's name, wins the prize for having traveled the farthest to buy his gift and for getting the...ahem...most for his dollar:

All from the exotic locale of Atlantic City and all purchased for under $7! Such a bargain!


Progeny L gets the award for Gift We're All Eternally Thankful For because he got it for Dirtman:

(You'll have to click on the picture if you want to read the tube. We'll leave it tiny for the faint of heart.)

And still:

There was a definite war of the alma mater, with Dirtman lowering himself to purchase a Rutgers t-shirt for John Boy and Heir 2 gifting Beth with a Virginia Tech banner that he'll be extremely hurt if she doesn't display at all her WVU games (like that's going to happen).

And off in a corner:

And Beth gave Heir 1 a t-shirt that probably speaks for us all:

I do wish Dirtman had managed a picture of Progeny T eating his gummy haggis and chewing his squirrel gum, because I am so indebted to T for my gift (we drew each other's names). See, Progeny T thought he was insulting me by making a comment on my short stature. But...he didn't so much give me a step stool as the gave me a yarn swift...

...and kitty tent.

We rounded out the holiday with rousing games of Balderdash; only, since there were only six markers we had to find other pieces to move around the board. Heir 1 decided on this, which he had been loaning out to the nativity scene to watch over baby Jesus:

So now everyone has gone home...oh, except for...

(I bring him toast now and then, just to keep his strength up.)

And, since this is already overloaded with annoying family photos, I give you Abby and Hokie:

*I'm perfectly aware that I surreptitiously inserted a motherly brag in there while pretending to be self-deprecating. Give me this crumb.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I knew this was going to happen

Ya know...

I held off saying anything about our situation until we were sure it's what we had to do. That way you aren't forced to say things that end up not coming true.

Well, wouldn't you know that immediately after we decided to "go public" with the news that we would have to move from the House of Never-ending Construction, our brains kicked into gear and suddenly options appeared to us. Or, rather, it turned out that ideas I had conjured and thought utterly ridiculous and beyond the comfort zone of all involved, ended up being first a possibility and then, ultimately, the solution.

So, yeah, things around here will be a-changin' (well, not here specifically, but around Casa Linguini), we are here and, if all works out as planned, always will be.

I can't tell you how this has changed the atmosphere and I wish we'd have thought of all this before we spent an absolutely dismal Christmas saying heart-wrenching things like: "We'll never see the crabapple tree get big;" or "What do we do if the new people won't feed the birds?"

We had demonized the people we figured would buy this house (opportunists who would offer us way under appraisal because they could smell the stench of fear, panic and despair on us; greedy money-grubbers who took one of those get rich courses they advertise on paid programming at 3:30 in the morning that tells people to hunt down poor slobs drowning in debt and weed them out of the financial gene pool by offering a ridiculous amount for their property). We were quite sure they not only wouldn't feed our birds, they'd shoot the mourning doves, put a foozeball table in the library and not house a single gnome.

Yes, there is much rejoicing right now, but the real work lies ahead. The House of Squalor must still be rejuvenated, though the five-acre parcel it sits on is the real value of the property. And our extra lot next door will go up for sale.

But the Hill is still of the Gnome and so it shall remain. And the crawdads will still roam free.

Say Hallelujah; say Amen.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A sad state of affairs...perhaps...

This may be the hardest post I’ve ever had to write. And, no, it’s not the end of Linguini on the Ceiling, just to get that out of the way. But there is no denying Linguini has suffered over the past year or so and this may give you an insight as to why.

K. Here goes.

The Linguinis are high-tailing it back to the House of Squalor and the House of Neverending Construction is up for sale.

There. I said it.

Those of you who have been with me for the past two years know the ramifications of this statement. You know of the anguish and waiting and disappointment we went through to get here and know what a kick in the stomach it is for all of us to have to give it up.

But we’ve had to circle the wagons this last year, so to speak; pull up the drawbridge and try to cut our losses. We really thought the housing industry would have at least leveled out by now. We knew the glory days were over and didn’t expect them to last forever. While the glory days were what built this house in the first place, we figured the usual income from the industry was all we needed once we dealt with the initial outlay.

We probably could have survived the total annihilation of the housing market if that was all we had to deal with. Dirtman had, in fact, begun to move into less market-dependent areas of the industry and that would have suited us fine. But we couldn’t absorb the onslaughts from other factors on top of housing going bust.

The one thing Dirtman and I agreed about when he decided to go into business for himself was that we were going to maintain our integrity. No exploitation of situations, no undermining the competition, no backstabbing – all pretty easy to do when the market is good and there is plenty of work for everyone; but not so easy when things start getting competitive. We were totally unprepared for (read: naive) the lengths our “friends” would go to and still be able to justify betrayal. Frankly, Dirtman is usually the trusting one, but even I was taken in and that really pisses me off.

Needless to say, the embarrassment factor is quite high right now. Dirtman wants to hide. I just want to get it over with and start a new chapter. I don’t like the role of “victim” and need to shed it as soon as possible. But we know there is an element among the people we know who have been salivating for something like this to happen and, while they will make all the right sympathetic noises, they will not be able to keep the tinge of smugness out of their voices: “Well, that shows them. I would never find myself in this position. Of course if they lived their lives just like me this wouldn’t have happened. That’s what they get for being so uppity.”

(As an aside: We all know people like this, of course; people who are quite sure there is only one way to live and it’s their way. But what I want to know is: when they make their snide remarks and digs, do they actually think they’re so glib that we can’t hear how rude they’re being? Do they actually think they are so intellectually superior that, just because we’re too polite to call them on it, we don’t realize? Just wondering.)

So we are quite unsettled right now and feeling just a little bruised. But okay, really. Because we made some decisions before things got desperate, we have choices and control over how this is done – in other words, this is not a foreclosure situation, but a decision that Dirtman and I made over other options like working our tails off seven days a week to maintain a house we’re never home long enough to enjoy (not the lifestyle for us).

So, with the help of Dark Garden, the Twin Progenies and the Heirs, we will be putting the House of Squalor to rights so that I can inhabit it without getting sick. We will be paring down significantly, which, to me, is almost a relief.

And, really, I wonder if this wasn’t what we intended for awhile now. When we moved here a year and a half ago, it was overwhelming. I can’t deny how wonderful it was to have heat and water that was reliable; to not have to climb up and down flights of stairs to do laundry in between high and low tide in the basement; to not have to share a bathroom with the Three Stooges.

That being said, I had begun to explore concepts of sustainability and getting closer to the things that I need to live and this house really is not conducive to any of that. There’s no denying that, for the most part, I’m heating or cooling three floors for four people, not to mention that I’d have to relocate an entire field in order to have a garden.

So, to me, this is the first step of a new life. Dirtman isn’t there yet, so tread softly around him.

This is my gift to the smug among you: go forth and gloat.

To the rest of you, my friends, thank you in advance for your support.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I like my coffee like I like my men...

Bitter and murky.

You are a Black Coffee

At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

I haven't disappeared, if any of you are still with me. I will explain in time and soon.

And I'm not cheap...I'm frugal. Look at all the cash I've saved on plastic drinking straws and plastic bags alone.