Thursday, August 31, 2006

Project Runway

Well, ole Angela's finally gone... I didn't like her when she and Vincent went head-to-head in an epic battle of wills, but she grew on me after she stood up to Jeffrey. I only don't like him because he doesn't treat people with respect, and that really aggravates me. He's not my favorite designer, but whatever... Angela's stuff never appealed to me. It was too busy and crazy.

We had our weekly PR party at Judy's last night. Heather brought Panera over (YUMMMMMMMMMM) and Joe bought a dark chocolate torte (YUMMMMMMMMMM)... We are now planning our own PR Finale party, complete with make your own PR design on your own model (we all have to go out and buy a Barbie, basically)... I definitely can't wait for that... We are all gathering supplies in anticipation...

PR is, without a doubt in my mind, the BEST reality show on television. It's smart, hilarious, packs in drama, and shows off the talent of truly talented people. This season has been the best one yet. I can't believe we're better than halfway through it!!!! And then we'll have to wait a while, sadly, until the next one comes along...

But I'm sure it'll be oh-so-worth it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Book and Movie Updates!

It's been a while since I've blogged about what I've been reading and watching, so I thought it was time for an update...

I've done a fair bit of reading, a lot of it with Michael, lately...

We just finished the latest Philip Gulley book, Almost Friends. In this particular book, Sam Gardner takes some time off to care for his ailing father, and becomes intensely jealous of the interim pastor, Krista. When Krista inadvertantly pisses off some of the church bigwigs (and most religious zealots), Sam must take action!

Almost Friends was a WONDERFUL book. It was full of the kind of hilarity, warmth, folksiness, family, and friendship I've come to expect of the Harmony series. I get so mad when we finish one, since they're all wonderful and we breeze through them so quickly. Each book is about 150 pages long, and you can read them in a day if you put your mind to it. Even reading it outloud, this particular book only took us 3 sittings to complete...

I love these books because they're not preachy, and some of the other books we've read have really turned me off with their preachiness. Since I consider myself a "sort-of Christian", I don't like all the stuff about praying and being saved and the gospels and the Bible being crammed down my throat nonstop. Why do I read Christian literature? Because if you skip all that stuff, you usually wind up with a darned good story... But I'm kind of getting off topic here. Read Philip Gulley's entire Harmony series, if you haven't already. You won't regret it.

We are about halfway through Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, which we are enjoying. Barbara took a year and traveled around the country, trying to survive on only minimum wage jobs. She worked as a waitress, cleaning hotels, and as a store clerk, and tried to sustain herself with an apartment, food, etc. She set up only minimal parameters (she allowed herself the privilege of a car and refused to live in a place that felt unsafe) and then tried to make do. I can't comment on the entire book, as we haven't finished it yet, but it has been a great deal more interesting than Bait and Switch.

Our last book club book was Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer, which I didn't particularly care for. I read the first 70 pages and felt like it was every other chick lit book I'd ever read. Fat girl is unhappy, skinny girl best friend is getting married and making her miserable, she gets revenge and the boy, lives happily ever after. Blah. Don't bother unless you're looking for pure fluff.

I've just started The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (I think??), which everyone is raving about this summer. I get a lot of book picks from the Diane Rehm show (, and the panel was raving about it a couple weeks ago, and I was excited to read it. I'm only about halfway through the first chapter, but so far it's quite compelling!! I will post a better review later.

Our current book club book is Wuthering Heights... Now this one will blend into the movie portion of this post... It was an interesting pick for the club, since we haven't read any classics before. I had an idea in my mind that Heathcliff was quite the sympathetic character, and quite frankly I think I had Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre all mixed up in my head.

Anyway, I started reading WH, and I was getting very confused indeed, so called my sister and asked her what on earth was going on with this book... She suggested I add it to my Netflix, so when I found a version featuring Ralph Fiennes (pant, pant, drool, drool), I did.

Ok, that freakin' movie literally gave me nightmares. I can't believe I've had such a strong reaction to a character, but I dreamed that I was young Catherine and Heathcliff was drowning me under his boot in a pond behind Wuthering Heights...

I plan to read the book, as I suspect there were many portions that might have been missed should I not read the book, but WOW, the movie was really something... It was deliciously creepy in a psychological kind of way... Ralph Fiennes was really quite something. Juliette Binoche was also excellent.

Other Netflix I've recently viewed...

I finally saw Capturing the Friedmans, which I'd been wanting to see for a while. It was a documentary about the Friedman family, which is torn apart when allegations of child sexual abuse circulate about the father and youngest son. Supposedly the two men molested young boys during the course of a computer class they were teaching in their home in Great Neck, Long Island, NY. The documentary included family film footage, as well as a lot of interviews with the police detectives, victims, family, friends, and others involved.

It was a fascinating look at the hysteria that begins to happen as allegations start to fly. It was kind of like the Salem Witch Trials, honestly... I can't say for sure what happened, I doubt anyone will ever know what happened, but I must say, based on this documentary, the evidence and the whole thing looks rather suspect. Just my opinion based on nothing but a documentary, people!

I also just watched Adaptation. I am not typically a Nicolas Cage fan, but I thought I would take a crack at it, since I've been on a bit of an Oscars kick lately. I have to say, I loved it! The story was great--the tale of a screenwriter trying to adapt a book into a movie, and his crazy twin brother is making his life difficult, as is his devotion to and vision of the story. Meryl Streep was great, Nicolas Cage was great, Chris Cooper was great. It was a little bit out there, but definitely a good film.

Before that, I got The Safety of Objects, in which four suburban families attempt to connect with each other over their disfunctional lives. I did not like this one at all... It took me two days to get through it, and I just keep thinking, "Why are you people torturing yourselves in these ridiculous ways?!" At the end when it all comes together and you see how all the people are related (I guess, actually, that starts happening about 1/2way through), it's kind of like, "Yeah, I already figured all that out. Thanks."

I also got Better Off Dead, in a fit of adding John Cusack to my queue. Frankly, I might have been better off dead than watching that stupid thing. I love him, but... A girl's got limits, John. I probably would have loved it back when I was 12.

So, you are all now up-to-date on what's been keeping me busy... I am also still addicted to Dog, the Bounty Hunter and Project Runway. I watched the two hour Dog wedding special, and I've been combing the web for PR updates and sneak previews. Judy, Heather, and I have a Wednesday night date with the TV at Judy's and then we re-hash until Monday of the following week when I start calling up the teasers and so forth and we discuss that. It's a sickness. But there are only 6 designers left. And they are pretty much insane. From Laura "I can't get emotionally attached to another baby" to Jeffrey "I hate your mother" to Vincent "Everything sparkly makes me giggle" I just can't get enough of that show... For tons of great info and links, visit and read to your heart's content! (I'm so crazy about it, 2 of this season's designers are on my MySpace friends list!)

Nighty night!

Birthday Party!

Saturday, we drove up to Judy's en route to Heather's to go to the Heros and Villains party... I had spent all evening Friday and all day Saturday getting supplies and gear to dress up as a fortune teller and to have Michael become The Plunger.

Well, come Saturday, I fell asleep all afternoon, and woke up around 4:15, freaking out that we would be late!!! I got up and rushed Michael out of the house, and we drove to Judy's. I announced we'd get changed up there, and in we went.

When I opened the door, there were my friends, all yelling "Surprise!" When it finally registered what was going on, I didn't know whether to walk back out the door or fall over.

Of course, my rat of a husband was in on the whole thing!

I went in and hugged everyone. Joe had custom designed personalized decorations, and pink cakes dangled from the ceiling. A beautiful table was set, and everyone had contributed to a luscious fondue extravaganza. We had 3 kinds of fondue for dinner--seafood, cheese, and pizza. It was incredibly delicious... For dessert we had 2 kinds of chocolate fondue, plus my beloved Carvel cake, which I LOVE! My grandma always got me a Carvel birthday cake (you know the kind, with those spectacular chocolate crunchies) and now I find it's not a birthday without one.

Since I had all my fortune teller stuff with me, we cracked open the tarot cards and I did readings for everyone. Joe got drunk and we played Charades--he took movie titles from all of us and acted them out for the better part of 2 hours. And he was damned good, too!!!

Michael bought me my long sought-after power staple/nail gun, and I got to staple things for a while!!! Joe got me a talking Napoleon Dynamite card... It's hilarious. Gift cards from Heather and Steve and Ambareen, and photos of the beach in New England from Nancy. And a great new book from Melissa about a book club!!! I'm totally looking forward to that one.

So I must thank Heather, Steve, Nancy, Trent, Melissa, Michael, Ambareen, Judy, and Joe for an amazing evening... The pictures are at if you want to see them. It made turning 31 a lot less painful!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

TomTom, that Rat!!

A couple of weeks ago, I went into the bunny room in the morning to find that TomTom had broken Rambo's cage, knocked the top off, and gone after him. Several days later, TomTom emerged with a black eye, assorted cuts and scrapes that I hadn't noticed, and was not a happy rabbit. I spent a week providing him with first aid, washing his wounds, applying ointments, cutting off the fur around his eye to get it out of his wounds, the whole nine yards. I can safely report that he HATES getting his face washed.

Two nights ago, I scooped him up and was cuddling with him. He LOVES to be flopped on his back and have his belly rubbed.

As soon as I did, I noted a discoloration in his fur. I figured maybe he'd had a potty accident, so I moved his fur to investigate, and out shot the most horrifying looking bulge of a tumor I'd ever seen. Well. Of course, I immediately freaked out. I told Michael that we had to get TomTom to a vet immediately in the morning and found the card for the Spotsylvania Animal Hospital, which caters to "exotics"... (How an animal that breeds like rabbits do can be considered exotic, I have no idea!)

We went down there yesterday morning. The nicest technician was working, and they saw us right away. She pulled TomTom out of his carrier and made us guess at his weight. We discussed his diet and what I was concerned about. I explained that our best guess was that either he had a tumor or a hernia or an unattended-to injury.

She brought him back to weigh him, and clipped his nails as a free service.

She returned and propped him up on the table on his hind feet.

"My God, it's worse than I thought," said the voice in my head, "they're multiplying." Indeed, there were now 2 of them.

I tried to remain stoic, but was on the verge of tears, and the General was doing his best to be calm and collected.

The dollar signs were adding up, TomTom was looking at me like, "Mom, what the hell is going on here?!" and the tech spoke again...

"Is this what you're worried about?"

I grimly nodded my head.

"These are his testicles. They frequently appear very suddenly in small animals. There won't be a charge."

To add insult to injury? I had gone the long way to the vet's office--it took us roughly 45 minutes to get there. To get home? 10 minutes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It Happened So Fast

By week's end, I'll be down 2 bunnies... and have but one baby left to find a home for.

I'm not quite sure what I'll be doing with all my spare time after that.

It seems just yesterday I was taking pictures of their newborn selves. And now, 4 months later, they're spreading their ears and flying away.

It was a beautiful process to watch the whole thing go down. Due to the sheer numbers of cats and dogs I've owned in my lifetime, I've seen plenty of kittens and even a litter of puppies come and go. But the bunnies have been something special.

To see Valley instinctively know what to do to prepare herself and her cage to give birth--and watch her follow generations of rabbit protocol and behave in a textbook manner instantly... Well, it was wild, truly. Unlike a domesticated pet. There was something far more animal about it.

And then to see the babies grow day to day, and grow from ugly little hairless rats to the gorgeous animals they are today...

It has been a journey I never want to repeat--TomTom and Valley will never get within 10 feet of each other without some kind of bars separating them. But it's also one I wouldn't have traded for the universe.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's Been A While...

I am blogging to you from a place I did not know existed in my own psyche--a stubborn, yet exhausted place that is refusing to allow me to sleep at the oddest times, allowing me to cry whenever I want, and just making life miserable in general.

One week ago yesterday, as Judy and I were driving home from book club, her cell phone rang, and our lives were changed forever.

It was Nancy, and she was calling to say that our beloved Tim had committed suicide.

I can't possibly begin to describe what an amazing person Tim was, and I don't think any of us knew all the amazing attributes he had until he was gone. He was a wonderful son, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend, but he was also a valued colleague and volunteer.

I first met Tim a year and a half ago at one of our game nights. As we got less and less involved in MyPC and my core group of friends evolved into what it is today, Tim stood out as the voice of calm and the staunchest supporter of us all. You could have any problem in the world, and you could drop Tim an email or call him up and he'd come help. Never was this more evident than last December when my sister got into a little dispute with her landlord and had to move out overnight--Tim showed up the first night to get everything out of the old place, and the second night to move everything around in the new place. He moved the sofa 3 or 4 times in 15 minutes, and just laughed the whole time as we changed our minds repeatedly about furniture placement.

I have some great memories of Tim... He was completely in love with the bunnies. He would come over to hold the babies or would go take care of Valley if Judy was away and Joe wasn't feeling like it. When I broke my leg, he came to stay with us one weekend while Judy was out of town, and spent a good part of the evening on the floor, cuddling TomTom in his arms, happy as a clam.

A couple of months ago, I got the call "We need to move furniture" from Joe, and Tim graciously volunteered to help. After leaving DuPont Circle, I had a futon strapped to my roof and told Tim to drive slowly, as my little Ion couldn't keep up with his speedier Saturn sedan, particularly when it had stuff strapped to it. We got to the circle near Arlington National Cemetery and lost him. We saw him on the far side of the circle, so started driving to catch up with him, but he was trying to catch up with us. We went around and around the circle 10 times, until he finally gave up trying to catch us--but none of us could stop laughing about it.

He was terrible with directions. During the Superman party, he tried to give us directions to the theater where we were seeing the movie--and he took us to an entirely different theater! On the way home after the movie, he got us lost going to his own apartment.

He also had a wonderful sense of humor. During the Pirates party, he showed up dressed as a Pittsburgh Pirate, and with a glint in his eye said, "Ooooh, you meant that kind of pirate!"

Last week, we all took time off work to drive to his hometown of Indiana, PA and attend his wake and funeral. The minute we walked into the funeral home, the cry went up, "The DC people are here!" and we were embraced by his entire family (he was one of 11!!), some of whom looked so much like Tim, it ripped my heart out. As I passed from sobbing sister to stoic parent to crazy nephew to devoted brother-in-law, I heard more stories of the Tim I hadn't known, the young Tim, the Uncle Tim, and I was pressed for details about the Tim I had.

And of course, the inevitable question on everyone's minds: "Did we know WHY?!"

I wish I did know why. I doubt any of us ever will. This sudden, horrible, desperate act came completely out of the blue and shocked each and every one of us who knew him. Tim was a loving and loved family member and friend and active and productive member of the community. We are all left with a gaping hole in our hearts and such feelings, such feelings as I have never experienced all at once. It's as if someone put rage, despair, great sorrow, guilt, anger, shock, denial, pain, and loss in a blender, mixed them together, and injected them straight into my heart.

I can only imagine what his family feels.

We've all been sending emails around to remind each other of how much we love each other, and how important each friend is to the next. The pain is not diminishing, but the value of our friendships are re-affirmed and we've drawn close. Perhaps in the end, this is the best thing we can do to honor a true friend, the unique and amazing Timothy Mark Shock.

Rest well, dear friend. I love and miss you.


Tim Sites

The Hill Newspaper:

Memorial Site:


Suicide Prevention



Monday, August 07, 2006

One Book

I've been tagged by Lesley to do this little book meme, and I've been thinking about it overnight before getting into it... This is a really nice little book meme, so I've enjoyed pondering it!

One book that changed your life.

I'm going to go with the Bible on this one. Not because I've actually read it, I surely haven't. But I think of any book, this one has probably had a profound effect on a vast number of people, due to the squabbling, inspiration, misuse, and good use it's been put to and inspired.

One book that you’ve read more than once.

I have read many books more than once. One that stands out for the sheer number of times that I've read it over the past 18 months is Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me. This is the fluffiest of all chick lit, and a romance novel to boot, but the book is just so darn much fun!! I have probably read it close to 20 times in the past year or so (it helped me keep my sanity while I was stuck in bed for 2 months). Every time I get bored and want to catch something quick, I pick it up. It never fails to make me laugh, and I can get through the whole thing in about 1 sitting of 90 minutes, which is great. The perfect beach book.

One book you’d want on a desert island.

This is a toughie. I think I'll go with The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook. This should entertain me as well as provide me with everything I'd need to know about getting through whatever hazards might be lying in wait while I hope for rescue.

One book that made you laugh.

I would say the first Harmony Book, Home to Harmony by Philip Gulley. When the men decide to spend the money from the Choctaw Indian Shoe Mission to go see Mark McGuire hit a home run and the town finds out about it...well, you know hilarity ensues. The whole book is chock full of fun little vignettes like that. I have never loved a series of books more (Sorry, Nancy Drew!)

One Two books that made you cry.

For this one, I'm going to list two, the first being the one that made me cry the hardest, the second being the one that made me cry the most. There are no rule police, right? :)

The book that made me cry the hardest was Elizabeth Berg's Talk Before Sleep. I had heard Elizabeth speak on NPR and a woman called in to say that she had read this book and had shared it with all her friends, who had all loved it. So I decided to check it out.

Wow. By way of a quick summary, the book revolves around a woman dying of breast cancer and her best women friends who are spending every minute they can with her before she dies. As I got closer to the end (and by that, I mean any page after the halfway point), I couldn't stop reading it. And the closer I got, the worse I was crying.

I finally wound up staying up till around 2:00AM to finish it. I was reading it at a time my great aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and we knew she would be leaving us. I cried so hard for her and for all the other women in my life who lost their battles with cancer, I woke the General up out of a sound sleep, and I couldn't even explain to him what was wrong. It was that moving.

The one that has made me cry the most, however, is Kris Radish's Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral, which had me crying by page 3 and didn't let up through the whole rest of the book. And I was not alone. Fellow Lit Chick Nicole had a similar problem.

One book that you wish had been written.

Back in high school, I started fleshing out an epic Western-Romance-Adventure novel. I got 60 pages into it, and the stupid disk corrupted (thanks Windows 3.x), and I lost the whole entire thing. The book is still in my head, and while I've had to change the plot for reasons that shall only ever be known to me and my friend Amy, the story itself was sound, and I've always felt like it could probably go somewhere. So I've been taking notes, and I might just take another crack at it.

One book that you wish had never been written.

Probably Scarlett, the sequel to Gone With the Wind. GWTW was an amazing classic and a stand alone book. It really didn't need a sequel. I didn't read Scarlett, but from what I gather it was not all that fantastic, not even close. And frankly, my dear, I'm not surprised. I'd rather use my imagination to figure out what Scarlett and Rhett and Ashley would all be up to after the original closed, than to have someone who is not Margaret Mitchell tell me.

One book you’re currently reading.

Michael and I are currently about halfway through Almost Friends, the latest installment in Philip Gulley's amazing Harmony series. The Harmony Books remain my favorite down home, folksy good time books, and are on the top of my favorite books ever. This new one is laugh-out-loud funny and a wonderful story of friendship, new beginnings, and life.

One book you’ve been meaning to read.

I have a whole stack of books I've been meaning to get to, and a list of books that I've been wanting to read for a long time. Probably the main one that comes to mind since Heather started the "Should Have Read It" book club is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was required reading for high school, yes, but somehow I decided it wasn't worthy of my time and didn't bother.

Now tag five people.

Who to tag...

Well, I dunno if they even read my blog, but I'll tap the 2 Lit Chicks I know who have blogs:



And 3 more folks...




Sunday, August 06, 2006

Well, I did it...

...I finally joined MySpace and become a MySpace community member...

I have to say, it is kind of an addicting little site. I went through and looked at my high school and found a bunch of old friends I went to school with, and then college, and rated my professors.

It's nicely laid out, and frankly, kind of addicting.

if you're on MySpace, check me out:


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I Have a New Obsession...

...and it's called "Project Runway". Damn you, Heidi Klum!

My sister got me watching it halfway through last season, and despite the odds of my being completely against me, I correctly predicted that Chloe would win.

Well, it started up a mere 3 weeks ago for season 3, and my favorite guy was Malan, who, as Joe put it, was the James Bond Villain of Fashion Designers. Devastated was I that he got booted out in favor of that skanky Angela, but I don't care in terms of the fact that this week, the big brouhaha is revealed! Tomorrow night we will finally learn who is the first designer to get kicked off the show.

Talk about being on pins and needles, as Heidi has intimated over and over in the ads. And will they bring someone back that they've already kicked off to fill in the void?

Only 38 1/2 hours till we find out!