Sunday, July 30, 2006

Urban dictionary

I have just rediscovered the wonders of Urban Dictionary, a place that no only can define "ear worm," but can provide several definitions of "muffin top," including one with photos!

I think I need to start checking this site daily and hitting the "random" button, just for fun.

Ear worm

There are times when I really wonder what kind of neurochemical bullshit goes on in my head to result in me having, for example, the "Lonely Goatherd" song from The Sound of Music stuck in my head all ... day ... long.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go bang my head repeatedly against something very hard until the damn yodelling stops. Wish me luck!

btw, here's a definition of ear worm, just in case you aren't familiar with the term:

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lazy Mama tip of the week

No matter how often I vacuum and/or mop the floors, our house still has a lingering sort of "a baby lives here" smell, a mixture of spilled milk, cheese goldfish crackers, and an occasional whiff of diaper. Sure, I could go buy some of that Febreze stuff, but that costs money and takes extra time. And burning scented candles is a no-no with the kid and the cats around.

So instead I've started to use good-smelling stuff I already own to perfume the air that comes out of my vacuum cleaner. Today I changed the bags in both vacuums and added about 1 tablespoon of some bath salts Jason bought for me three or four years ago (because baths? Who has time?) to the empty bags. I just vacuumed, and the place smells wonderful! I'm guessing this will work with other things, too, like dryer sheets (fresh or even used ones) or cut-up nubbins of old scented candles. And the best part - it's free, uses stuff I already have, and it takes zero extra effort to make the house smell good.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go sprinkle some of this stuff in the bottom of the Diaper Genie ...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thank you, Susie!!

This is a week or so late, but I'd like to send a public thank you to my mother-in-law Susie, who came to visit last weekend just after Jason returned from Jamaica. Not only did she babysit for us so Jason and I could go out together sans baby for the first time since November (oh, how I wish I was exaggerating), but she uncomplainingly came to my family reunion that Sunday. This whole experience probably sucked for her for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:
  • I baked two pies to take with us, and the whole house smelled like pies on Saturday, but I wouldn't let anyone have a piece until we got to the reunion. That alone is a hanging offense in some countries.
  • The reunion was at a location four hours away from our house, so Susie got to spend 8 hours in the backseat of our car. Susie is the same height as me, so backseats and her are not a good fit.
  • The reunion was in an unairconditioned building, on a day when it got to be 98F outside. There were some fans to move the air around, but all of us were picking out our outfits based on how badly they would show sweat stains.
  • Our family reunions are so big (66 people this time) that we all have to wear nametags, which we make so that people can tell who we're related to. So mine has my name on it, and my mother's, and my grandmother's. Susie had to somehow put on there that she was my mother-in-law, and not actually related to anyone. I told her she should just put her name and "I came for the food," but she wouldn't play along.

So Susie gets MAJOR points for going along, pretending not to mind, and not complaining about it even once. I totally owe her some more painting at her house next time we're visiting.

Oh, and did I mention she's an awesome photographer, and having her there allowed us to get all of my grandmother's descendants in one shot? Well, except for my cousin Jeff, his wife, and three of their kids (one made it; the rest were being carted to tennis camp that day). You can just imagine them in the sorta blank area at the right side of the shot. Here's the Bohl family, or at least my grandmother's branch of it:

Can Swan Lake be far behind?

I present to you our resident prima donna, Princess Poopypants!

Dolt that I am, I didn't even notice that this swimsuit looked like a ballet costume until today. I asked Jason the Usually Unobservant about it, and he said, "I thought that was why you bought it." Um, not so much, but now that I see it, she's totally wearing it with the rasta hat for Halloween. I'll make it work somehow, even if I have to write a Jamaican ballet myself.

Park princess

See this?

This is my daughter, playing on the playground equipment without me having to carry her up to the top of the slide.

True, she still tries to go down the slide face first, and she leads with her chin on the dismount, but we're making progress. If it weren't so darn hot, we'd have a chance to practice more often.

Liza, I'd like to officially apologize for giving you hair that sticks out on both sides of your head so freakishly, making you look like Farrah Fawcett after a particularly bad hair night. It's cute right now, honey, but you'll be wishing for a buzz cut by elementary school if it doesn't fix itself before then.

produce princess

Proof that living in Kentucky does, indeed, turn your baby into a shirtless, raw-corn-eating hillbilly:

Because obviously, she couldn't have inherited this habit from either of her parents. Right, Jason? Um, Jason?

It's Liza's fault, grandpa

Liza was busy pulling stuff off of my office shelves this morning, and she found one of my photo backup discs. It included the shots I took when I went to Holland on a business trip and my parents met me over there for a vacation afterward ... which is when I took this:

Photographic proof that my dad is the coolest dad EVAHHHH!

Farmers' markets

Saturday we visited the Lexington farmers' market, a lovely outside affair complete with Yuppies walking their tiny dogs and children. It is set up on a wide sidewalk on one of the downtown streets, and it's several blocks long. Like the West Side Market in Cleveland, it featured some sellers who obviously buy wholesale produce ... good quality produce, but it obviously wasn't from Kentucky. There were also plenty of local farms represented, too, included five or six places that specialized in flowers. One stall was nothing but huge oriental lilies ... you could smell it from half a block away. And a bunch of places had inexpensive bouquets made up out of garden flowers ... zinnias and glads and snapdragons, that sort of thing. They really reminded me of some of the arrangements my grandmother used to make when her garden was in full swing. Unfortunately, we had other errands to run after the farmers' market, and I didn't think the flowers would hold up well in the cooler we had for the veggies, so I left them behind. I didn't leave behind the Silver Queen corn one of the local farms was selling (heavenly!) or the heirloom tomatoes, or the golf-ball-sized blackberries from another stall, or the local freestone peaches. I've eaten more veggies and fruit in the past few days than I did in the two weeks before we went to the farmers' market, and I can't seem to wipe the tomato-and-corn-induced grin off my face.

Our town also has a farmers' market, which is held Tuesday and Saturday mornings at the parking lot at Lowe's. For the last two summers I have consistently forgotten to go there, resulting in me actually making it to the market maybe twice, and one of those times was when my neighbor pretty much dragged me out of bed to go buy tomatoes. Since I had such good luck at the one in Lexington, however, I have decided to make it a priority to go to the local one, and I reorganized my schedule so that I will be doing my grocery shopping on Tuesday mornings, just after I hit the farmers' market.

This morning we made our first pilgrimmage there, Liza and I, and boy, is it different from the one in Lexington. Lexington has mostly larger farms and orchards (like the place where I got the peaches for the reunion pies) and a smattering of ladies wearing cruelty-free shoes selling herbal soaps and honey. Some of the stalls were from farms from surrounding counties, places far enough away that I'm not entirely sure where they are in relation to us. Our local farmers' market, on the other hand, was staffed entirely by good old boys in pickup trucks who obviously just drove out of the holler to come sell corn and taters to the city folk. Teeth were optional, as were home-rolled cigarettes and big leather wallets attached to their pants with a long chain. All of them declared Liza the cutest child on the planet ("Look at that hair!"), and I doubt it was just because they wanted to make a sale.

The one thing I hate about farmers' markets is that most of the time, a lot of the stalls have the same produce. At the one here in town and the one in Lexington, all of the prices were similar for similar items, so you couldn't even make your purchasing decisions based on cost. So I have to decide - do I buy my corn from the guy with the fewest teeth, the most teeth, or the biggest pile of corn? Do I buy my heirloom tomatoes from the guy with the good selection, even though he keeps trying to sell me $8/lb homegrown woodear mushrooms to go along with them? Do I buy something from the people there with the weeks-old baby, just because I feel sorry for them? In the end, I picked out the shrewdest-looking old lady customers and followed them around, buying from the stalls they picked.

And, as always, I came home with waaaaay too much stuff. Today's haul included more Silver Queen corn (the kind my grandfather used to grow ... nothing else tastes right to me), four kinds of heirloom tomatoes, green peppers (4 for $1), tiny yellow crookneck squash (6 for $1), and a basketball-sized watermelon.

I had planned to write more, about how when picking heirloom tomatoes you want to find the most gnarly, deformed looking ones you can because they inevitably end up being the best tasting, and how our daughter keeps trying to eat corn on the cob without using her hands, but those blackberries aren't getting any younger, and I still have to figure out what to do with them. Peach/blackberry pie, anyone?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The strange, strange world of eBay

As you may know, I've been working on selling some of my grandmother's unneeded stuff on eBay, trying to see if we can make any more money for her there than we would at a yard sale. It's strange the stuff that sells (a pair of blue women's gloves) and the stuff that doesn't (a very nice long silver necklace).

For example, in the stuff that I just posted recently, I have more than a dozen people watching the auctions for vintage sequins that my great-aunt bought wayyyy too many of in the 70s and 80s. But the cookbooks I put up from my own stash - not much interest. I got a bid right away on this:

(a brochure from the Modess sanitary napkin company about the wonders of menstruation)

And more than 450 people have viewed this, but so far there are no bids:

(a catalog my grandparents received when they ran their Western Auto store)

Now, maybe it's just me, but while both of these items are cool to look through, I wouldn't pay anyone money for them. Maybe for the "tips for dealing with polio" card we've got for sale, or the "what to do in the case of an atomic attack" brochure ... you know, useful info like that : ) It will be interesting to see what ends up selling out of this batch ... only two days until the first of the sequin auctions expire, so I guess I'll know soon!

In the meantime, if you want to see the full list of what we've got for sale, check out the following link:

I'll be posting new stuff every day or two, so check back frequently if you want to contribute to my grandmother's savings account!

Statement my parents probably never expected to hear me say:

"I think I still have some goat stuck in my teeth from lunch yesterday."

Insanely productive day

Liza was kind enough to take nice, long naps today, so first I worked on a table runner as a gift for my cousin's daughter, who is getting married next month:

And then, since that was finished and I was chock full of inspiration, I decided to make two baby blankets for Jason's cousin's twin girls, born last month. Here's the first of them - it still needs to be bound, but the top and quilting are done:

Both of these projects need to be thrown in the wash to fluff up the raw edges - that's why I was able to finish them so fast, they're pieced and quilted at the same time. Anyway, I'm insanely proud of how the baby blanket is turning out, and I think the coordinating one will be every bit as precious as this one. Can I just say, GO, ME!

Friday, July 21, 2006

who you callin?

I don't know which is scarier - that the Berea Citizen newspaper would print this ad, or that the phone number listed shows up as the Demon Busters church in Berea when you google it. No, I haven't tried calling despite all the times Liza's head has spun around like a top while she throws food on the floor and screams for her daddy.

Thanks to my neighbor Rodney for bringing this to my attention earlier this summer.

Anybody want to buy us a present?

Here's a suggestion:

MLF - are you paying attention? Your kids NEEEEEED a set of these uber-geeky flashcards. What am I thinking ... y'all probably have made your own already, right? : )

Thursday, July 20, 2006


A little lopsided and cross-eyed, maybe, but at least he doesn't pose a hazard to my child anymore, and the huge gash on his forehead is barely noticeable. Tomorrow he gets a bath, and by this weekend, Monkey Do should be back in action!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

mutilated monkey mien*

When I was about three years old I received a monkey stuffed toy for Christmas. Here's a shot of me and "Monkey Do," as he later came to be named:

Over the last thirty years, Monkey Do has been my constant companion. He was always in the pile of stuffed toys in my room, eventually acquiring one of my old t-shirts and a pair of my old underwear for the sake of modesty. When I went to college, Monkey Do went with me, and there he acquired a black bucket hat with a giant sunflower pinned to the front. He managed to survive 30 years of rough handling with only one problem - his eyes fell off. They were the plastic kind that were somehow glued or attached on the inside of his head, and eventually they loosened up to the point where I could take them out entirely.

This was cool when I was a kid and in college, because I could adjust his eyes so that he was cross-eyed or looking over both shoulders at once. But now that I have a kid to whom I'd like to give Monkey Do, all I see when I look at those eyes is a choking hazard. The eyes had to go and be replaced with something that wasn't going to fall off, a task I've been putting off for years.

Yesterday I finally opened up Monkey Do's face so that I could fix his eyes. You have no idea how hard it was to take a seam ripper to his forehead - it was like how I imagine it is for medical students when they have to make the first incision to dissect their first human corpse. A few months ago there was a slight incident involving one of my old stuffed animals dissolving in the washing machine and ruining most of the rest of them, so Monkey Do is really the only one I have left that I care about. Sticking that sharp thing in between his eyes almost caused me physical pain, that's how hard it was. It didn't help any that when I was telling Jason about how hard it was, he commented that "it must have been hard to give him a vagina in the middle of his face." Insensitive as the comment might have been, he's got a point:

So now I have to spend the next few nights with my hand inside Monkey Do's head, embroidering new eyes on his face. Hopefully he'll look decent when I'm done, and hopefully I'll be able to sew his forehead back together and leave him looking less like Frankenstein's monster and more like his old self. If not, I guess he'll have to wear my old fencing mask or something.

*the title refers to a song we used to sing as kids, which went: "Great big globs of greasy, grimey gopher guts, mutilated monkey meat, little birdies' dirty feet. Ten gallon pails of all-purpose porpoise pus, hanging on the outhouse wall." Yes, we were sick, sick children.

When Jason is allowed to pick out souvenirs on business trips

... we end up with Rasta Baby:

Yes, that is indeed a skullcap in Africa pride colors, with attached dreadlocks. I'm thinking that if we find a tie-dyed shirt and some ripped jeans, and we've got her Halloween costume for this year taken care of. Don't mind me - I'm just jealous because all I got from Jamaica was a package of cassava pancake mix. I guess I'll just have to crochet my own rasta hat if I want to match her :)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I've become the sort of mother ...

who, when fishing around under the seats in her minivan, trying to find the dumb DVD to return to the library, instead finds three half-finished sippy cups of water.

At least now I know why we didn't have many cups left in the kitchen ...

Oh thank you god the whining stopped ...

... and it's only two and a half hours after I "put her to bed," including one extra session of books and singing, one long walk around the park, and one interminable "God Loves You" DVD from the local Mothers Of Preschoolers group. She made it through "six days" of the creation story told using cutesy vacation bible school songs and hand puppets made of velour gloves with eyes glued on (oh, how I wish I was kidding), and on the seventh day, I told her God went to sleep and so should she. I think somewhere about day four her brain shut down in self defense, so for now at least I'm safe from the whining.

I do think I know what triggered this, though. It's all Jason's fault. No, seriously - hear me out on this. He's been gone on a business trip - AGAIN - since Monday. Usually when he's gone, Liza will spend a little time each day saying "dadadadadadadadaaaaaaaaaaa" and I tell her that Daddy is on a trip and will be home soon. Well, this weekend, every time Jason left to run an errand, she would follow him to the front door, then stand there crying and banging on the screen door while he drove away without her. She was usually pretty easy to distract afterward, and Jason thought it was sort of cute.

When she started talking about him this morning, I told Liza that Daddy was on a trip, and would be home tonight. That was my mistake, because Daddy won't be home until long after Liza's supposed to be in bed. I guarantee you, that kid understood the gist of what I said, because she spent the whole time we were home occasionally saying "dadadaaaadaaaa" and whining aimlessly around the house. A couple of times when she did that, I told her no, Daddy wouldn't be home until tonight, after she was in bed. I swear, I think she understood that, too, and didn't want to go to bed because she would miss seeing him. The kid won't say 'Mama' if you pay her in chocolate and kittens, but Daddy goes to Jamaica and all hell breaks loose.

That's it. Next time, I'm going to the tropical island, and Jason can stay home with the whiny kid and get ready for his in-laws to visit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Reasons I am fairly certain I am residing the the 7 3/8ths circle of hell

  1. I stayed up way too late last night ... er, this morning, watching a really dumb movie, then trying to figure out the dumb movie, then making fun of the dumb movie. Then I couldn't get to sleep because I was still trying to figure out what the hell the blue box thing was supposed to represent. Stupid blue box. Stupid David Lynch.
  2. I got sniped on eBay, not once, but twice, by people who swooped in at the last second and outbid me for adorable little Hannah Andersson outfits for my daughter. Stupid snipers. In retaliation I spent most of Liza's morning nap finding more outfits and bidding on them in hopes that I avoid the sniping on at least one of them.
  3. My daughter has turned into a challenging eater. Not only does she not like the same thing two days in a row, she's prone to throwing her food - all of her food, even the stuff she likes - on the floor, on the wall, at the cat. She's been doing this for weeks, only now it's gotten to the point where her some total of food for today was: about 1 1/2 bites of waffle, about 3 cubes of tropical fruit, most of 2 cups of milk, about 1 bite of peanut butter sandwich, maybe 3 bites of yogurt, about half a dozen graham cookie sticks, three bites of peach and maybe one handful of pad thai. The rest of all of that ended up on the floor ... you know, the floor that I just swept because my mother-in-law is coming to visit tomorrow. I've tried varying her diet, I've tried giving her the things she used to love, and I've tried being nonchalant about the situation. She's barely eating, which I know is normal and won't kill her, but if she throws one more gloopy thing on the floor I may have to throttle her with my kitchen towel. Grrr.
  4. Liza has decided that playing with the cat food is really fun. Specifically, she likes shoveling the dry food into the cats' water dish, sopping up every last bit of water into nasty waterlogged pillowy pellets. This morning she got into the cat food, so I barred her from the room while I cleaned it up. Apparently my timing was bad, because when I got done there was a puddle of cat pee in the middle of the hallway. While I cleaned that up, Liza got back into the cat food and spread it all over again. I locked Liza in her room, cleaned up the cat food while she screamed like a death row inmate, and put a temporary barrier in front of the cat room (the cats can get over it, and Liza hasn't been given the chance to figure out how to go around it yet).
  5. Then I got to try to clean up the dried cat puke on the new rug in Liza's room. Anybody need two cats?
  6. Liza's morning nap made us miss story time at the library today, so not only did I miss out on talking to actual grownups, but I forgot to return the dumb movie, too, so now not only did I sit through two hours of crap, but I have to pay $1 for the privilege. Grr.
  7. After the food throwing and the cat food incident(s), I decided the only way to get through the day was to get out of the house, so we went to an orchard outside of Lexington to get some local peaches. Only I misjudged where the exit was on the ring road around the city, so we started on the exact opposite side of town from where we needed to be. And then it poured rain. And then we got to the orchard and they didn't have much selection. And then it poured rain again, so we sat on the porch at the orchard store and ate one of the peaches we had bought ... and decided that we prefer the Georgia peaches I bought yesterday at Kroger. So we spent like 2 hours of driving (during which she refused to go to sleep and whined almost constantly) to get so-so fruit.
  8. At this point I decided to invoke a little retail therapy, especially since I had to drive right past the exit for the mall on my way home from the orchard. Liza whined the whole way there, and the whole time we were in the mall, even when I gave her a piece of my Auntie Anne's pretzel. The good news: I found beach shoes for the baby, suitable for wearing in September when we go to New Jersey for a week, provided her feet don't grow enormously in the next two months. I also found ridiculously sale-priced pjs at Baby Gap - the long sleeved cotton knit ones for fall/winter/spring were on sale for $7, which is much preferable to the normal $19 I refuse to pay for pajamas that only use 1/3 of a yard of knit fabric.
  9. So then we headed home, and Liza cranked up the whine to full volume unless I was singing. Continuously. Just about the time I decided it would be better to head straight home instead of hitting the frozen custard store that I ALWAYS visit when I'm in the area, Liza fell asleep. That's right, it took her FOUR HOURS to finally fall asleep, given that I first put her in the car when it was about her nap time, anyway. And she fell asleep 15 minutes before we got back home, of course, not when I was doing the long drive earlier in the day and she could have had an hour nap. Oh, no, she had to watch the traffic then and save the nap for when she wouldn't have time to actually sleep.
  10. Did I mention the pad thai throwing? That's almost as bad as wasting a biscuit, as far as I'm concerned. Worse, maybe, because Thai food is more expensive. Ungrateful brat.
  11. And now, despite the fact that she's been mostly without a nap for like six hours, and spent most of dinner trying to grind pad thai noodles into her eye sockets, and has had the requisite number of books read and songs sung, she's up there in the crib, you guessed it, whining. She's not teething, she's got a dry diaper and a rash-free bum, she's got her blankie and her mobile, and she's tired. She may be hungry, but she certainly doesn't act like it, and I refuse to clean the kitchen floor one more time today.

I'm not sure I have enough chocolate or bourbon in the house to deal with this much longer. How long does this whole whiny toddler thing last? Like, a year? Oh, god.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I hate it when Jason's right about a movie

First, he willfully avoided "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," a film with which I proceeded to torture my parents on their last visit here. (see plot summary here, if you dare: ) Yes, Dad, I know that between this and the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" incident a few years ago, I now owe you big time, and cracks about your propensity toward bush-trimming and window-washing aren't helping things any. Have I mentioned recently how awesome my dad is? Dude, like SOOO awesome. Carves things, fixes things ... and, he does windows!

Homosexuality, trans-gender issues, unsuccessful sex change operations performed in Eastern Block countries ... Hedwig had it all, only not in a good way. "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" it was not. Oh, did I mention the hard-rockin' soundtrack that was the only highlight of the movie? If you don't listen to the lyrics, it was actually pretty good.

Now Jason dodged the "Mulholland Drive" bullet, missing out on a David Lynch film so twisted, even the experts' review/plot synopsis I just downloaded starts off basically as "What the fuck was that???" It makes "Memento" look like a walk in the park ... at least by the end of that movie, you know what the rest of it was about. With "Mulholland Drive," it starts off where you think you know what's going on, but by the end you have no clue. Strange creatures who frighten people with bad eyebrows to death in fast-food parking lots? Check. Mysterious cowboy dude who appears mystically to deliver sage pronouncements? Check. Hot girl-on-girl action? Check. Odd people doing odd things in surreal environments? Yup. More hot girl-on-girl action? Yawn.

If you haven't watched it, don't. And if you did, and still don't know what the hell happened, here's a pretty concise synopsis of it. It's seven pages long.

Someone make a note of the following pronouncement:

Monday, July 10, 2006

So now they tell me ...

If you've got babies, visit the link above to find out how swivel chairs can improve their brains. No, I'm not joking. I'm starting Liza's swivel routine today ... now, where's that Dramamine?
On another topic, when did my daughter become so contrary? She spends a week doing nothing but plotting how to get up the off-limits stairs, past the flimsy make-shift baby gate that we put up when she unexpectedly learned to do stairs. So I finally take the time to install the permanent gate, and, no joking, two days later she decides she's over stairs and won't climb them, no matter what good stuff is at the top. So now I have a lovingly installed baby gate at the bottom of my stairs, which I leave gaping wide open in hopes that Liza will change her mind and start doing stairs again. Apparently, I can't win.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Know what happens when you cut through the extension cord with a hedge trimmer?

Not much, unfortunately. I was expecting sparks, or pain, or cardiac arrest. Instead I got to push the "reset" button on the GFCI outlet and add "extension cord" to my shopping list for this weekend. How anti-climactic can you get?

And I think along with "Mistress of Death," one of my gardening nicknames should be "The Bush Butcher." What should be a quick trim turns into "oops, need to even that out a little over here, and whoops, now this side's off a little, and geez, now the whole thing is kaslonchwise." And you wonder why I take my daughter to a hair dresser rather than cutting it myself? Poor kid would look like a cueball by the time I was done, if the pathetic-looking bushes are any indication of my prowess. I think in the future I'll just have my father visit twice a year, once in the early summer and once in the fall. He likes power tools, gets the bushes trimmed evenly without scalping them, and has never been known to cut through the extension cord. So Dad, can I schedule you to come in October sometime? : )

Additional proof of the preciousness ...

Oh. My. God. Not only can she sing, she can wave!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

just when you think ...

... you've got the house childproofed, you find this:

Maybe "pulling out all the tissues" was one of the tips in the "Happiest Toddler on the Block" book she was apparently reading while I unloaded the dishwasher. Of course I forgave her - how could I not forgive a kid who looks like this?

I dare you to prove she's not the most precious pumpkin on the planet. Go ahead - try. You won't succeed.

Note to self - time to child proof the toilet paper, too.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Origins, part 2

Okay, first a definition: a gaming convention is a convention at which games of all types are played and sold. In this case, it's a five day event in Columbus, Ohio, sponsored by the Game Manufacturers' Association. It's been running every summer since 1975, attracting tens of thousands of people from across the country. It features everything from traditional board and card games (like the poker tournament Jason did on Thursday) to role-playing games (like the Tunnels and Trolls dungeon crawl Jason did on Sunday) to miniature strategy games (like reenactments of historical battles, complete with detailed troops and weapons and tanks and everything). It's a chance to play old favorites with new people, and a chance to try out new games relatively cheaply before buying them. AND there's a huge vendor area, where you can buy pretty much any game, accessory, snarky t-shirt, etc. that you can think of.

Like I said, Jason had a poker tournament Thursday night, and meanwhile Liza and I met Sybil and Penelope to play some Munchkin. Liza was a bit cranky from the four-hour car ride to get to the convention, but she perked right up when she saw the acres of carpeted floor and dozens of stairs she could attempt to climb. I spent half an hour playing my cards while watching her out of the corner of my eye as she took off at a fast crawl across the floor. She'd get 40 or 50 feet away before I went to get her, unless she was headed for the revolving doors or the escalators, in which case I had to intervene a little sooner. Here's a shot of her in action at the con:

We realized pretty quickly that although the convention center is vaccuumed pretty regularly, apparently they last shampooed their carpets in 1978, because Liza and Penelope were both getting grimy really fast. After only an hour or so of crawling and playing on the floor, Liza's hands, knees, and the tops of her feet were absolutely grey ... it was definitely necessary to wipe her down before she ate dinner, and every night was bath night to get that crud off of her.

Friday I had purposely left open on my schedule, since Jason had some games he wanted to play that wouldn't allow him to look after Liza at all. So Sybil and I let the girls sleep in late, then took them over to a park in downtown Columbus that features - get this - a topiary recreation of the Georges Seurat painting Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte. If you stand at a certain place in the park, all of the bushy people, boats and monkeys are in exactly the same locations as in the painting. It was every bit as thrilling as it sounds:

It was a nice park to stroll through, and you certainly couldn't beat the price. But I was a bit disappointed in the fact that the figures aren't complete - the tallest of the bunch are still topped by un-topiaried metal framework that will eventually support the yew bushes that make the figures (check out the umbrella the lady on the far right of the scene above is holding). I mean, they've been growing for almost 20 years now - you'd think it would be done already!

Later that day we participated in an Apples to Apples game that was somewhat ruined by an overly enthusiastic game master (the person running the game) who insisted on commenting on every single card that was played. Grr.

By far the best event that I played was called Clay-O-Rama where the participants make creatures out of Play-Doh and then battle them to the death. And I'm not just saying it was fun because I won (which I did), but because there are few things more fun than being able to fling blobs of clay across the table and pound the living crap out of my opponent's creature with my fist if I make the shot. Hoo-ahh!

One of the highlights of any gaming convention is the dealers' hall, where game manufacturers show off their newest products and companies of all types try to sell you stuff. Experienced convention attendees seem to have a sixth sense for which booths have the best "swag," that is, free stuff they give you for trying out their games. Matt and Sybil came home with two enormous boxes of Pokemon cards for their boys, just from sitting through the demo and playing one hand with one of the booth staff. Not a bad return on their investment of time, I'd say.

Since we still have most of the swag we picked up two years ago (unopened in a drawer somewhere, gathering dust), I avoided the free stuff and instead spent my time in the dealer room in search of several specific items: 1) a pair of fuzzy d-20 dice for Jason's rear view mirror, 2) a new game to take home that doesn't suck when played by only two players, and 3) at least one funny t-shirt.

The game I picked is called Blokus, and it's sort of like playing Tetris head-to-head with another person, only on a board instead of a computer. The best part is that it's designed for two people (at least the travel version I got is), so it doesn't suck when it's just me and Jason available to play it. Plus, I'm pretty good at it, especially when my opponent is either sleep deprived or partially inebriated :)

I ended up getting two shirts, partially because I couldn't decide between them, and partially because I felt bad for the lady who was selling them. One of them is a grey cami with this slogan:

And the other is a tan t-shirt that proclaims my new personal slogan:

I love the tagline: A kiss may be grand but it won't fix the plumbing ... It doesn't get much truer than that.

Okay, I've got more to post, but I've got some housework to do. Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday!

PS - Sorry, Michael, but K's Mom is right - I've already got the mandevilla started in a pot next to the patio railing (left side in the photo). It remains to be seen whether it will actually climb this year, as this same plant has been remarkably short in past years. If it doesn't climb this year I'll give up, throw it out, and try with a new plant next summer.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Origins, part 1

Jason, Liza and I just got back from Origins, a gaming convention in Columbus, Ohio. We met our former next-door neighbors and some other friends there for four days of gaming, bad convention food, and chasing babies around on filthy convention center carpets. I have plenty to talk about, but for now, here's all you're getting:

Hilarious (to gamers, at least) caricature courtesy of The Great Luke Ski.