happy happy kids...

merry christmas, all that good stuff. it was 80 degrees in LA yesterday, and my sister and i cruised through hollywood and gorged ourselves on pink's bacon-chili-cheese dogs and nacho-chili-cheese fries. totally disgusting but absolutely delicious. and we only do it once a year, so whatev! i am, however, overeating. i know that happens during the holidays but me being here with my mother makes it worse.

things with mom have been going fine. we're not best friends or anything, but i've been good about ignoring the nagging as best i can. we've spent a lot of time cooking in the kitchen (sugar cookies, baklava, spicy stew, saffron orzo, coffee cake, two batches of icing, a layer cake, salad, steak tips, gouda mashed potatoes, broccoli, yule trixies, pork loin, spinach artichoke dip, steamed veggies, more mashed potatoes, asparagus, and devilled eggs), which makes her happy. she just talks and talks and i just cook and cook and we're perfectly fine with that. and i'm enjoying spending time with my dad. yesterday i was laying on the diving board by the pool in my flannel pj's and was wicked hot - god i miss the sunshine.

i love it dearly, but i completely loathe this city...i miss the casa and the 'lope and the kate and the shayne. i can't wait to get home!


it ain't quite chestnuts roasting on an open fire

provisionsbut one of the things that i really like about the holiday season is doing some holiday baking. i like baking at any time, but this gives me a chance to really strut my stuff. add into that the fact that i am dirt poor this year (working at the crime lab barely keeps the cats in kibble), so its a nice gift for folks. this year, scoutie and i are doing a joint effort. we took all of these ingredients:

a little elbow greaseand we
added some
elbow grease...

and at the end of the day, we had a freezer full of spectacular cookies. lemon shortbread with dried cranberries, peanut butter blossoms, gingersnaps, and peppermint cookies with chocolate drizzle. this morning i woke up early and made some biscotti and some blondies.

peanut butter blossoms...?lemon shortbread with dried cranberriespeppermint cookies...

we have gone through two pounds of butter, five pounds of flour, two pounds of sugar, nine eggs, half a bottle of vanilla, a lemon, a bag of dried cranberries, a bag of almonds, five cups of coconut, 3/4 a cup of mashed potatoes (don't ask), and three bags of chocolate chips are about to meet their doom.

if that doesn't scream happy holidays, i don't know what does.


christmas comes to the crime lab...

so i figured it was only a matter of time, and i was right. christmas has come to the crime lab. i was initially fooled into believing they actually meant to strive for religious inclusiveness by advertising their "holiday party" instead of a christmas party, and advocating a "yankee gift swap" over a secret santa.

but today the kids who work for me went up into the attic and brought down the christmas tree, now proudly displayed in the reception area. one of the guys referred to is as a "holiday tree", and i had to put my foot down on that misnomer. if it's a tree (or a reasonable facsimile brought to you by international plastics) and it's bedecked with ornaments and tinsel, and if it is nestling gaily wrapped gifts underneath it (or empty cheerio boxes wrapped to resemble something that might actually be fun), and if there is a benevolent angel on top (or another special item from international plastics, but this time looking slightly melted and a little moldy) -- then it's a god damn fucking christmas tree. and just call is such.

apparently the commonwealth of massachusetts is christian.

and i had that awkward moment that all non-believers face... do i say something?

frankly, i am tired of having the conversation of whether or not xmas has become a secular holiday. peoples opinions on the matter are as entrenched and deeply believed as religion itself. and i am tired of being the wet blanket who douses everybody's holiday cheer. the kids were having a great time setting up the tree, and it probably made their day. everybody walks by and comments on how festive the reception area looks.

so, no. i didn't say anything. but it had nothing to do with endorsing good will toward men or seasonal holiday cheer. the fact of the matter is that i am only four months into my six month probationary period. and if the commonwealth is dumb enough to put a tree in a government building, then they are dumb enough to give me a bag of hell for a christmas present if i complain.

but next year they had better watch out.


some good news from chatsworth:

marilyn manson has gotten married!
i have to tell mom so she can drop off a card or some sort of gift basket - i know she will be thrilled!!


so here's what i learned today...

i learned that the way to get all my friends to the casa blog is to let a rumor start that i posted nekkid pics of my tenant. no such luck, kids.

but while you're here... i just had this conversation with a Mr. Burke from california

Mr. B: Hi. I'm calling on behalf of the ACLU.

Me: Hi.

Mr. B: You may not know this, but the ACLU is in the middle of a landmark case in California concerning your civil liberties.

Me: Which case?

Mr. B: It involves the right of the government to subpoena your medical and library records with practically no cause, reason, or judicial oversight.

Me: Oh. You mean the Patriot Act case.

Mr. B: Well... because of a Gag Rule we are not allowed to say.

Me: But you mean that case, right?

Mr. B: I can't even confirm that much.

Me: You can't say Patriot Act, can you?

Mr. B: I can't even confirm that much.

the whole thing was very Kafkaesque.

on an unrelated side note: the assessors office just came to evaluate my property. they downgraded my bathroom from modern to standard. i am not sure what that says about my house.


open invitation time!

i know that the casa has already extended an open invitation to the excellent spencer anderson, who is dreamy with his carpenter skills, good ideas, and glasses.

i am pleased to announce to joaquin phoenix (and any of 'his people' who might follow the casa blog) that he is also more than welcome to visit the casa at anytime. i mean, really...anytime. with his acting skills, handsome good looks, and really quite excellent singing voice, i would definitely cook him dinner.

also, if you haven't seen walk the line, you should. i really enjoyed it.


bah humbug! (or: here we go again...)

the holidays are fast approaching, and december is the most dread-filled month of the year for me. thanksgiving should be just fine: i'll make a nice dinner, we'll have people over for a post-t-day wind down at the casa, and everything will be low pressure super nice. i'll make an appropriate amount of food, the casa will smell good, i'll have fun entertaining...it'll be great. christina even got the night off work, so she'll be there for the whole thing!

then, there's christmas. i just got an email from dad, and the line "we'd like you to come home for a full five days" made my stomach drop. i love the idea of christmas, but i freaking hate it. and i feel this weird pressure to lose some weight before i go home, so that mom doesn't comment on it. i get to spend almost $500 to visit and get picked at, nagged, and bothered. for five whole days. my dad describes mom and i as being "on different sides of a brick wall, banging our heads". swell - i just can't wait to get home.

here's a little dialogue from last year. dad and i were sitting in the living room, quietly reading our respective books. then mom comes on the scene:

mom: are you cold? is it cold in here?

me: no, i'm fine.

now she looks at dad...

mom: honey, are you cold?

dad: no, i'm comfortable.

mom: are you sure?

dad and i: yes.

mom: kathryn, come over here and open the vent, i think you must be cold.

me: no, i'm not cold, i'm just fine.

mom: are you thirsty?

me: no

mom: how about some o.j.?

me: no, thank you, i'm not thirsty

mom: want something to eat? a sandwich? we have left-over ham!!

me: no, i'm not hungry, thanks.

mom: there's cookies!

me: mom, i'm not hungry.

mom reaches out and grabs my foot. please note: i hate people touching my feet. i retract my foot under a pillow to protect it.

mom: who did your pedicure? did you paint them yourself? etc. etc.

so this year: screw decking the halls. just keep my wine glass filled, thanks, and i'll try to avoid decking mom.



my office overlooks harvard square. currently, one of the (many) buskers is a troupe of south american gentlemen, theoretically in the garb of their native land. they are playing flutes, guitars and using synthesizers. it's the sort of music you might hear in "the nature store". i dislike this sort of music intensely. my boss is here, and she *loves* it, so the window is open and i can't turn on my music. so i'm just sitting, listening....and the tune they're playing is freakin' Unchained Melody - i am truly in hell.

and what a segue - from one pottery-related topic to another, namely: mine! here's the pottery i made over the summer, in my first pottery class ever. i know at least one person out there is
excited about this (hi G.O.D.P.!), so let's do it up:

here are the three i'm most proud of. i made a flower pot with a fluted edge for my sister (to replace one that the mysterious flower-pot vandals broke), as well as a small cup and a bowl. please notice how thick and clumsy the sides of the bowl are, and then compare to my (later) flower pot and cup, whose sides are slender and delicate. i am also a huge fan of bright colors, which i tried to incorporate. my teacher is a big 'cambridge-earth-tones' type, and she hated the colors and combos i chose. oh well! (edit: in the time i've put this blog entry on 'draft' - approx. 1 hr 15 minutes - they've looped back from playing the pink panther theme song to do a repeat of 'unchained melody' - are they on a freaking loop?!)

I also made a small pitcher. during our first class, we had to make cups. they were naturally awful, but my teacher had us keep them and "make them into something useful", so i took a sloppy cup and formed a wiggle into the spout, added a handle, and glazed it with a dip-glaze. there is a matching, also droopy sugar bowl but i don't have a picture of that one. anyhow - it is cute, in a child-like way.

and last but not least is my favorite bowl, because it came out well, and i love the colors i used. the finish is a little imperfect, but hey - people pay big bucks for handcrafted...right? there are also a couple of ashtrays - i only have a picture of one - but all of those were dipped, not painted. i wish the colors had come out a little better in the pictures, because it really is quite pretty. for bigger pictures of all of these (haha...) go to my flickr page.

overall, i had a pretty good time in class. if i had the money right now, i'd take another class, but in the meantime i'm keeping myself busy with other little projects.


as long as we're updating: the casa garden

i've just begun putting the casa garden to sleep for the long winter. there are a few small blooms still left on the Agastache 'Apache Sunset'. The common name is 'root beer hyssop' so named because when you brush the foliage, the slightly sweet, sticky smell of root beer is released. i spent much of a weekend digging up all the perennials and re-arranging them, as i now know how they look when more fleshed out than the tiny little plants i put in last spring.

i think it should be a good spring; i hope my favorites will come back up after the winter. the one and only plant that i am positively dying about, hoping they'll survive and bloom, are the Papaver orientalis. i saw some in a friend's garden in seattle two years ago, and fell in love - they have these huge, beautiful, rice-paper thin flowers. that's all i want: oriental poppies.

my columbines did pretty well this year, though, and i'm excited to see how much bigger they get. i've got several varieties planted: Aquliegia canadensis, Aquilegia skinnerii (Tequila Sunrise), and Aquilegia vulgaris (Black Barlow). i need to do a very thorough job cleaning up leaves and debris, though, because some have contracted leaf miners. in order to prevent their reappearance in the spring, all contaminated debris and leaves from the columbines must be removed. i've included a picture - they kind of look like intestines. gross.

other than that, there haven't really been any pest problems. though the local birds did snack quite extensively on the grass seed i put down a few weeks ago. no biggie - the grass hasn't really taken off, and i suspect i will just re-seed it in the spring. there are some precious little grasslings, though - kind of nice to think about new buds and growth even as things are slowing down and going into hibernation for the long, crappy winter. maybe i'll pull up those pictures in february to remind me of what's to come.

the garden's come a long way, though, and i'm proud of the results. the most recent task was to enlarge the perennial bed, and lay down a handsome bluestone border. we also took all the timbers from along the back fence, and made a raised bed at the far end of the garden near the big tree. i hope to put some interesting varieties of ferns and hellebores in that bed - plants that do well in shade. also, i love the unique color combinations and variations of hellebores. if i could afford to have a huge drift of them, i would - but toooooo expensive. maybe i can come up with some other ideas during the winter.

one of the benefits to being a card-carrying member of the somerville garden club is that i get a newsletter every month, with a handy list of tasks to do in the garden. it's nice to have such a climate/region-specific reference, as well as thoughtful articles on plants and horticultural goings-on in the area. you might initially think it a po-dunk operation, but the club has its shit together - the newsletter is well written and well designed, and i get emailed updates of club gatherings and projects. i'm bummed to have missed the november meeting (it was last night, i was hosting the volume vixens meeting here at the casa), but will be able to hit up the wilson square fall cleanup this weekend.

to document our progess, here are some pictures of the garden in the fall of 2004:
short weeds, tall weedshard at workhey fun! japanese knotweed!finally some progress october 2004

and in the fall of 2005, with some help from christina, kate and derek: (please be sure to note our posh bluestone edging, provided gratis by derek)
a view from the patioanother shot - slightly out of focus.

and the hopeful grass:

sleep tight, garden!
i'll be dreaming of you all winter.


an update from the upper half...

i realized that with the exception of my rant about the alderman at large race, i have been mostly quiet. been busy. here's a recap of what i've been up to:

* i got an apology from Rebekah and a statement that she would take me off her contact list immediately. i wrote her back thanking her, but explaining that might be difficult since i hadn't given her my address or phone number (oops). i rectified that. since then i have gotten no phone calls, and they have mostly stopped by only once a day, most times for the lower half. however, since they came by *twice* today and hung crap on my doorknob, i am still pissed.

* i did buy a car. i have a '98 honda civic EX coupe. it's green and looks a lot like scouties, only minus all the glitz. but it has a moonroof, so i think we will call it a draw. it passed inspection and gets 30+ miles to the gallon and in three years i will have it paid off. yikes.

* i have a new commitment to opening all my mail every day. new mail bin, new sorting files, and a new attitude. this might not seem like a big deal, but i have had a mail problem for years. it finally caught up to me in an evil way, when i missed a notice that they were canceling my homeowners insurance. i *will* open all my mail. really.

* trixie has the herp, and boo is getting wierder.

* i got to write a testimonial for my old boss, fred, at accent banner. the owner of the company is trying to block his collecting unemployment after he was fired (right after i left). fred asked if i would mind writing a statement about the hours that he worked. no problem. the owner of the flag store tried to get it tossed out of the court because it was hearsay, and i wasn't there to testify about it's validity or my own. the judge looked over my letter and said "she works for the state police. that's good enough for me. the letter is in." my current job has weird perks i never would have thought of.

* work is going okay. we've been busy taking over the running of our condemned building in agawam. i got a raise thanks to my union.

* and finally, mitt romney has actually done something right in my eyes -- Massachusetts has finally made a public statement about it's intentions to fully divest from Microsoft in the next year. we are moving to all open source software. this should be interesting. and i have been having a hard time at work explaining to people why this is a good thing. they are mostly computer illiterate, except they can use word, and maybe excell, and they can probably find porn on the internet. then again, these people also don't understand why there are constitutional challenges to the patriot act, and why the gays aren't happy with civil unions and keep trying for marriage rights. we just speak a different language.


an open letter to Rebekah Gewirtz...

Dear Rebecca, It was so nice to meet you on my porch. Thank you for talking with me about the campaign. I appreciate your thoughtful consideration for the race and i hope that I can count on you to LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE. Sincerely, -- kate

okay, here's my real open letter, actually sent to Ms. Gewirtz:

Dear Rebekah,

As a voting member of Ward Six in Somerville it has come to my attention that you are running for Alderman. It would be hard to miss. You have deluged my front porch with mail, and your partial smile glances up from me on the litter that surrounds my home, asking if you can count on my support. If for some reason I was visually impaired, it would still be apparent as your people call me daily, and sometimes twice daily, to ask if they can count on my support. My doorbell rings at all hours with your bright eyed helpers asking if you can count on my support.

Rebekah (and I feel like I know you well enough by now that we are old friends and I can call you by your first name), I got to tell you... Nope. You can't count on my support. In fact, with each incessant plea for my support, the chance that I would actually vote for you becomes more and more remote. With tonight's phone call, where your loyal telemarketer actually *cursed* at me, I have to say that it's just not going to happen. Now that we are square on that, please leave me alone. You are verging on harassment. I have asked your people not to come to my door, and the next time they will get bodily evicted. I have asked your telemarketers to put me on your do not call list (something which, by the way, they are required to do by law) and I get verbally attacked. I won't block your mail, so go ahead and feel free to kill dozens more trees. I won't read it, but it's a free country.

The saddest part of this is that I actually support some of your politics. I went to your website and I read your leaflets. But now I am just flat out pissed. So, perhaps a small lesson to you in campaigning: You want to push just enough to get your point across and be memorable, but not so much that the voters want to get a restraining order against you.

So, Rebekah, I hope that I can count on your support to respect my wishes and leave me in peace.


-- katherine


save the (2) trees

there are two beech trees outside the simmons cafeteria that they're tearing down in order to start work on the underground parking garage/school of management/grassy quad construction project. this has caused somewhat of an uproar in the simmons community. several students have been camping out in tents by the trees for the past few weeks. they attached ropes to the trees and their tents - if anyone tries to take those trees, they'll know about it! i'd like to say that i find this commitment to the save-the-tree cause inspiring, or at least sweet. but really it makes me angry. these kids don't have anything better to do than camp out by two trees? i'm all for being environmentally responsible, but protesting 2 trees being cut down isn't exactly 'save the rainforests'. this is a particularly ridiculous instance of middle-class college kids looking to protest something, anything. the administration's response to this tiny little protest is just as pathetic. here are some choice excerpts from dan cheever's email regarding the trees:

I am writing Simmons students, faculty and staff to invite everyone to
celebrate our wonderful beech trees outside the Fens Cafeteria. As you
know, sadly we have to remove the trees... I expect that this will be an
'in-the-moment' event where students, faculty, and staff will gather to
speak, read poetry, or simply reflect. Refreshments will be served on
the lower patio."

refreshments? student poetry?!? tree celebration!?! that sound positively *delightful*. count me in!

in other news i just discovered that some kid i went to elementary school with became a model. he used to walk me to my classroom in 2nd grade, until he asked me to be his girlfriend and i said no. it's clear from his glamour shots that i made the correct decision.


the hardest part

is that people's lives keep moving while you are stuck in their past.


R. I. P. Grannymobile.

well, i did the deed. i signed the DNR on the grannymobile. there will be no heroic last minute measures. no forced intake of fluids. no jolts with the zapping paddles. no life support. i brought her home and will let her die in peace in her sleep, the way she i believe she always wanted it.

i brought her in over the weekend, as she didn't sound too good. she had a little cough and sputter, and was having trouble getting around. they looked at her, found out that she had bled out internally, and used some fancy tracing dye to find the culprit. it was worse than we though -- multiple organ failure. problems with the intake manifold and the valve cover gaskets. i could save her, but frankly, the cost was too high, and i don't think she would want me to do it. she has lived a good life.

so now i am driving around in a dippy, rented, chevy aveo. i feel a little guilty enjoying it's cheap american pep. the fact that it starts. and it's defroster works. and it's ceiling isn't resting on my head. and it will, i am guessing, get more than 14 miles to the gallon.

i guess it's time for me to grow up a little, and get a grown up car.

so long grannymobile. thanks for everything along the way.


it would make it easier to call home

if i didn't catch so much hell for not calling more frequently.
it's my dad's birthday, and i just got an email from mom because i flaked on calling her saturday.
i have to call, because it's his birthday. i don't want to. i will probably have to hear it from mom. but i have to.
i made him brownies, my sister made him cookies, and we got them to him for his birthday.
and mom is clearly pissed because i didn't call her, and i don't want to deal with this.
ok. go-time.


settling in for the long winter

it's been a long week, and i'm exhausted. work was crappy but i got a ton done. i also made a massive almost horrid mistake, but managed to fix it at the last minute. it's nice that other assistants "get it". like...when i call andrew's assistant, she knows i'm holding on by the skin of my teeth, and i know she's having a helluva time scheduling all this. so we cut each other slack and don't rat each other out. i once heard about some club of (then-called) secretaries of the big dawgs in NYC in the 40s. these ladies had dinners and a little private club, just stuck together for support and strength and to watch each other's backs. i like that i have that unspoken sense with the other assistants i work with. it's really weird at work, though - i'm an assistant (travel plans, copies, etc.) but i also do initial screenings, make site visits, give speeches, and make decisions and recommendations. it's such a full spectrum job, but sometimes juggling all of everything floating in my head gets to be overwhelming. this morning was one of those moments. anyhow.

most of the time these days, friday night rolls around and i am ready to stay at home and relax. i used to just head straight out to the bars, but i just can't pull that off anymore. i'm definitely going out tomorrow - motherboar is playing the middle east, and it should be a fun show, and i'm excited to meet mr. grotto, my good friend joe's dad. he's almost mythical - i've been hearing about him for years, and finally: i will have met all the immediate grotto family members. and sunday, the boston massacre roller derby team has a bout with the rhode island riveters, so i'm gonna go watch darling malicen thunderland kick ass and take names. i just hope she doesn't get hurt. also, i'm laying a little low this weekend because i'm wicked broke. heh. truth comes out, eh?

perhaps it's time to start my winter-time knitting projects? i do need a new pair of legwarmers. i have a pretty cute pair i made two years ago, but they are a little too loose in the ankle area. i'd like snugger-fitting legwarmers so it doesn't look like i have cankles. i don't know what cankles exactly are, but i don't think they're a good thing. anyhow. ok, i have to do something or i'm going to rot in front of the lappy and tv. all i fucking need is a tv-dinner...ugh.

dear god, don't let me turn into that person.

and not to get everyone too excited, but i took some pictures of the pottery i made over the summer in my pottery class. let's just say most of my work is "special"...i'll post those soon. something for y'all to look forward to...

and i thought incontinent cats were gross...

a rat roughly the size of penelope ran across both my feet this evening.


i think i have to throw these shoes away now.



a note from kitty. p.

fucj yeah! metal and spencer moody (murder city devils, dead low tide). holy christ...i love spencer moody, who sings songs about how the world needs to have softer edges. i agree with him, and would like to offer him the option of having babies with me.

edit: ok, in a more sober light, the babies option is off the table. but still - really good show.



gun case full o' marblesso my ex-boyfriend is coming to town this weekend. which means it's time for my annual pilgrimage to one of the worlds oddest places -- the marble convention. ritchie is a punk rocker teacher who takes in stray animals and deals marbles on the side. he once stole my heart by meeting my bus with a bag of hamsters clutched in his hand. he had rescued them from drowning in a trash can. he's that kind of guy. and he buys, sells, and collects marbles.

and once a year, for almost a decade now, i go spend time at the convention in marlborough. it's funny the things you do for ex-boyfriends. while i might not actively pursue this hobby on my own, i have a tiny collection of marbles, and can speak knowledgeably about agates and handmades and christiansons and peltiers, and i can even spin the marble urban legend tale about The Golden Rebel. but i generally don't unless ritchie's in town.

when rich and i dated, a million years ago now, i spent my time watching his various hard core bands play in dirty clubs. i did the same when we were in college together. it's what you do when you're dating somebody -- you take on odd habits and quirks and loves of theirs. if you're lucky, it's stuff like favorite restaurants or music you listen to or a penchant for Aqua Teen Hunger Force. and maybe it you're unlucky you find yourself robbing houses.

but if you're really unlucky... they make you a red sox fan.

almost every guy i've ever dated has tried to make me a fan of the red sox, and for many years i could avoid it. then, about four or five years ago, it got under my skin. and i found myself watching games when there was nobody *making* me do it. i was finally a fan. i don't talk much about it. i live in fear that somebody will expect me to rattle off stats or, worse yet, ask me to join in their fantasy league, but it's there.

i used to think that these guys were just trying to bond and share a great love of theirs with me. ha! these guys... these guys... were freaking sadists. these guys wanted to teach me the pain and desperation that comes with being a red sox fan.

so the marble convention is coming to town, and once again the sox are in post season. and once again i am cursing every man i have ever dated.


nekkid pics!

naked kate my dad has been taking all of the boxes of old slides and converting them to disc. for me it is a treasure trove of photos of my childhood, my family, and my friends. places and people i had forgotten. proof that i was a mostly happy kid. and a cute kid. and often a very very weird kid. it also means that there are now nekkid pics of me on the internet. many thanks to banky for pointing that out. for folks who want to see more of these, check out my dads flickr photos.

kate and bear sneer tire swing

cape codder this might be my all-time favorite photo of the batch. my family is on vacation on cape cod. my mom says it looks so weird because it was our first attempt with the self-timer. i think it looks weird because my family was often uncomfortable with standing still, so to sit and stare at the camera was unnatural for us. i remember my childhood as constant motion. projects and plans and action. i am sure that we had our still moments. from the pics, i am pretty sure that i spent all of those moments asleep.


an update from kitty pancakes

so here's a little list of tidbits.

  • my dad likes the movie 'ever after' with drew barrymore. that is the cutest thing ever.
  • i am still coughing gross shit up, and having a hard time dealing with the rest of my life when i feel so crappy.
  • just bought tickets to chicago to visit lisa. SO excited. i'll be missing halloween with friends, but i never go anywhere, and this is exciting.
  • our couches are coming next week!
  • i need a new bike. my bottom bracket is shot, and so is my rear hub.
  • ky "touch warming body massage" commercials are fucking awful. am i the only one who is grossed out by being massaged all over with lube? ughhhhh.
  • i am not, however, opposed to backrubs. which i love.
  • penelope has been particularly snuggly lately, which has been nice as i've been sick.
  • i love 'ever after' too. tee-hee!


so, the lower half is home sick today.

holy jesus, i have been coughing up the grossest shit ever. i've gone through a half-box of kleenex (puffs with lotion to pamper my nostrils) in just 12 hours. it sounds like i have consumption or something. AND i left all this stuff half-done at work that's totally stressing me because i was supposed to have it done already. argh...


shayne has been a blog slacker.

i've been busy, too. but when it's 1:30am on a week night and you can't sleep, the night seems endless. so i thought i would use some of that godforsaken time to blog. here's a list of things i learned this week:
  • my computer science professor owes me approximately $240. she's cancelled three (of four!) class sessions this semester.
  • tom jones (the novel by henry fielding, not the well-endowed welshman) is extremely entertaining. 18th century brit lit=fun!
  • henry james once condescendingly called sarah orne jewett's country of the pointed firs a 'beautiful little quantum of achievement'. sarah orne jewett lives on the shelf next to henry james in the library. i hope ms. jewett's books beat the shit of mr. james' books every night.
  • i can still (almost) lose it when speaking words that really matter in front of other people. writing class is making me mental as well as contributing to an insomniac state.
  • i'm (really) stressed out. why am i always the last to figure this one out?
and finally, i learned not to blog when you're suffering from insomnia. it makes for some dreary stuff.


katherine has been a blog slacker.

so i've been a little busy, and i feel that i have been neglecting the blog a little. in honor of that, in true kathryn-style, here's a list of things i learned this week:

  • petey pees sitting down when there is somebody outside who might be listening.
  • the HVAC guys come out really quickly to fix the air conditioning when you say "i don't think you understand! it's 85 degrees in the Bombs & Arson department. do you realize how dangerous that is?!?"
  • i like my job a lot more when the boss is gone and i get to be in charge. i meet more people. have more fun. and feel more confident.
  • if you act like a kid, the *actual* kids will tell you all the things they don't want to tell the "grown ups". i now know what is written on the bathroom wall of the girls bathroom in Maynard.
  • Mitt Romney is trying to put together a proposition to have mandatory drug testing of all high school students in massachusetts. i hypothesize two things: we will see a huge influx of cash into our Drugs department, and Mitt Romney will never be president.
  • my good friends in New Orleans are safe and evacuated to Houston. i am still not sure about the rest of the people i know down there, but they are in my thoughts all the time.
  • the blogger spell check does not know the word "blog".
  • and finally, today is my friend Jonah's birthday. jonah once gave all of the money from his youth group treasury, which was supposed to go to buy food, to a bunch of cheerleaders who were doing a fundraising drive. happy birthday jonah. may your day be full of cheerleaders!


i'll spare you the loud, off-key, singing...

happy bday jessamyn today is my sisters birthday. happy birthday jessamyn! she's quite the little spitfire, and has been a huge influence on my life. jessamyn taught me how to shave my legs, and how to pierce my nose. we have traveled to Alaska together in the dead of winter, and on one of those trips she helped me set my broken thumb on xmas day. we have also been to the British Virgin Islands, Canada, Tijuana, Romania & Hungary, and an exciting trip cross country in a white Ford F150 with a quad cab that we dubbed "The Hooptymobile". when we were younger, she offered to give me a piggyback ride home after i had cracked my jaw falling out of a tree. and when we were older i a got to return the favor by tracking her down a mocha latte after she was in a bad car accident. we share a love of good cheddar cheese, esoteric non-fiction, and the color orange.cake donei can't imagine what life would be like without her. i admire her, i respect her, and she is one of the few people who can make me laugh so hard that i hyperventilate. thanks for being a great big sister, Jess. happy birthday.


kathryn has been a blog-slacker.

so, it occurs to me the lower half hasn't really posted anything lately. to update everyone on the excitement, here is a list of things to note:
  • i have taken up 3/4 of the black plastic in the backyard, and hope to roto-till and seed the lawn in the course of the next two weeks.
  • becky, pete, alex and i took a little trip camping in vermont. we got to go swimming!
  • most of the music i've been listening to is in minor chords. awesome.
  • i went to the gym on sunday, and am getting back into that.
  • i happened to purchase some white gym sneakers - i laugh when i wear them because i look like somebody that i'm not.
  • currently i'm attempting to re-make myself into something new and fabulous. i started by shaving my legs.
  • does anyone else think this is funny? a vibrator cleverly disguised as a razor with a nice round rubber 'handle'? i'm tempted just because it's an entertaining idea.
  • it has been gently pointed out to me by several people that, in fact, i'm not fat or unattractive, but have been dressing in an 'unflattering' manner for the last two-three months. today i've busted out a skirt and cute top, and the compliments / smiles seem to support their statements. point taken, yo.
  • this weekend mostly sucked, except for the part where i stayed home. i spent way too much money on thursday and friday nights, and had, at best, mediocre experiences
  • my fucking bike is messed up again, and i have to fiddle with it tonight.
  • on the upswing, awesome ricardo finished the pictures of me and bike together!!! and here is one because i am wicked glad i came out looking good.


alright... the squeamish win!

it appears as though most people were not enamored of the eyeball shots. so, in order to not alienate the loyal readers of the casa blog (yeah, all six of you!) i decided to change them to a click-through. who knew y'all were so delicate?

actually, it's probably me who is beyond the bell curve on this one. with the exception of bugs and the dentist, i am not particularly squeamish. i grew up in the country where i was constantly stepping on rusty nails, where my sister got attacked my a rooster, where the cat used to make daily presents of mouse innards, and where many of the old farmers still gave themselves stitches at home. i think it's one of the things that made me a good crisis counselor... this stuff (for the most part) doesn't bother me. and lets face it... you can't be the one-armed/one-eyed/nine-toed bandit without being just a little bit fascinated with your own injuries.

and in case you feel the urge to cross the street if you see me coming down the sidewalk... don't bother. i'll have you know that my eye looks much better now.


fair is fair.

i promised Kathryn that i would put up some new content this weekend to force the gory eye picture a little farther down the page. sorry to my squeamish friends. i am just finding this fascinating. i simply woke up with it one morning, and i have been watching it evolve ever since. what has been particularly interesting to me is other peoples reactions. for the first three days at work, when the entire white of my eye was red -- nobody said a word. they would stare at my eye, and lose their train of thoughts, and stare some more, and still not mention it. finally, our custodian looked at me and went running out of the room... he came back with a present of a tiny little bottle of visine and mime'd that i should put it in my eye. and get more sleep. his english is poor and my brazilian is non-existent, so i could think of no way to easily explain that it wouldn't help. i just thanked him. it was a very sweet gesture.

the governor came out to the crime lab this week for a ribbon cutting ceremony. you can read his press release about it here. i decided not to go. i didn't need to be there for any reason, and while the crime lab can use the good press, i didn't want to get on the news supporting the governor. romney, in his press release, takes personal credit for expanding the DNA staff from four chemists to 36. first of all, we don't actually *have* 36 DNA folks. that's projected for the end of the year, after two more training classes graduate. second on all, want to guess how many of those new DNA folks are temps? if you guessed "all of them" you win.

fair is fairso what i really wanted to do was go to the ribbon cutting ceremony and have all of the temp workers in the crime lab where gigantic buttons on them with a big scarlet T. There would be so many that any pictures the press wanted to take would include a couple. But i can't organize like that. while i am covered by a union, i can also make no political statements during work. i can't embarrass the governor. and heck, i don't need to. if i a give it enough time i am sure that he will embarrass himself.


photos finally

here she is, in all her garish glory!
driver's side
if you look closely, you can see down my shirt cute *and* safe!
if you look closely you can see down my shirt. heh.
baby got back

that's all i've done so far. it's only a bit more than before, but i've definitely attracted quite a bit more attention driving around. aiden and liam saw my car for the first time yesterday while i visited them in VT. liam gasped and exclaimed, 'whoa! there's a cooooool car parked in our driveway!' they both looked at me with awe and respect when i told them it was mine. that's when i realized that my car really *is* beautiful. it just took seeing it through 3- and 7-year old eyes for me to get it :)


posting deleted < handle deleted >

Okay, you click on these on your own risk...

Wanna see a
gross picture of my eye?

And for the truly fearless... wanna see a
really gross picture of my eye?


tales from the crime lab...

the crime lab is in the midst of undergoing some major expansion. we already have satellite sites around the state (mainly of crime scene services -- the folks who actually go out to crime scenes and collect evidence) and we just opened another site in north sudbury. like any company, expansion never goes smoothly. this week it was the water cooler bursting in north sudbury and somehow staining the carpet. and waiting for our shelving for the stock rooms, which is long overdue, which means the hallways are still full of boxes full of information and goods that needs to be under lock and key. and someone's water breaking in the chem lab. our site in agawam just got condemned. and in the main lab in sudbury, we moved all of the computers around since we added 12 more DNA analysts. and we managed to plug them all back in just in time to get hit with the latest evil virus.

i think perhaps i lost site of the fact that the state police, and the crime lab, is just another company -- albeit publicly held and subject to more rules and regulations than most companies. it suffers from the same problems any place would, and due to the aforementioned rules and regulations, it is slower and less able to fix them. and my job? i am right in the middle of all of this, and also unable to fix much. i got the water company to clean the carpet and considered it to be a major victory.

the governor comes this week with his press junket to show how supportive he is of the crime lab. and he is. he's the main reason that we *have* a place in north sudbury. so thanks, mitt. just for that i won't trip you when you come to visit.


art car update

i finally continued to embellish my car this afternoon. photos to follow soon. my car doesn't look classy or artistic, just sorta fun. it looks like what a kid would do if given some rhinestones and some silicone. like a pretend crown, a really gaudy one. i'm struggling with this knowledge. i want it to look classically beautiful, but it doesn't and it never will. i'm never going to make something perfect or perfectly beautiful. but for maybe the first time in my life since being a self-concious adolescent/adult, i'm not letting that knowledge stop me from doing something that makes me happy. it's strange how something as simple as gluing rhinestones onto a car is making me confront one of my most deeply held fears.

i think my mom would be proud of me.


i got a new brain bucket tonight

and to celebrate, took a spin into boston. i haven't been riding in the city a lot this summer because i didn't have a helmet and was nervous - the whole no-health-insurance thing makes me even nervouser. but with the arrival of my helmet, the city was mine! i covered about 11 miles, was only almost hit once, and had an awesome time. i sat by the reflecting pool for a bit, and also in the public garden[s]. because i'm a nerd, here is my route. not bad for a lovely summer evening!


finally, a real vacation

three weeks ago, i spent a weekend in maine with my parents and sister. it was really pretty, and i fell in love with penobscot bay. but i didn't really relax - being with family is incredibly stressful for me, and there wasn't any downtime.

i took two days off last week and had a real vacation: my friend krista's aunt has a house on watchic pond in maine, and she and joe were kind enough to invite me up for a few days.

it was awesome, and just what i needed. we drove the boat out into the lake, put the ladder down, and spent hours swimming, jumping off the boat, laying in the sun, talking and reading.

joe & kristame & kristakrista and i with life-jacketsthey let me drive the boat.

i've been a little nervous on boats since third grade, when my best friend and her mother (my girl scout troop leader) were killed by a drunken boat driver. he was speeding, had a girl in his lap, and driving his boat - plowed into their family boat, splitting it in two and killing laura and diane. this weekend i sort of got over it, and as you can see above, even drove the boat a little bit myself! also, it's a pontoon boat (slow and bulky-ish) so even though it is the 'sport' model, i think we could've outswum it.

we saw signs warning to be careful of the loons, and got lucky enough to see a loon and his loon lady-friend. they made their special loon-noises and generally behaved like good loons should: diving, swimming, diving, and some more swimming. overall, joe and i gave the experience two thumbs up.
a loon-couple!joe and i



yesterday was a relatively uneventful day. then i got home.
scoutie announced that she'd bought two bottles of wine, and that "We're getting drunk tonight!".
it was alllll over, and the girl wasn't kidding.
i have gotten one response to my personal ad - from a 57 year old man. ai yi yi.

edit: ok, i'm throwing in the towel on this personals thing. nobody looks interesting enough to compel me to put myself out there. and let's be honest - i just can't do this. people who would normally be right up my alley are un-interesting and cliche. to top it all off, these are the three responses i got:
  • previously mentioned 57 year old
  • a guy who wants someone who will watch football with him every sunday
  • my friend bob saying "hi" and that he's not having any luck either


hoooo doggie...

i just put my personal ad back up. this should be entertaining...
it should be noted that this evening casa highland spent time getting completely shit-housed on the porcj fuck yeah, red wine!!! sup bitches....


for the price of a cup of coffee...

so, as i explained, by working at the crime lab i am actually a civilian member of the state police. this has some benefits. i can go to headquarters in Framingham and use their swanky gym and olympic sized pool. i will have a fancy-schamncy email address that ends with pol.state.ma.us, which to all those in the know means state police. and i can get a tiny little triangular sticker that reads "state police". this sticker goes on the window of my car, and identifies me as a member of the brethren. it cost me $1.00.

now, somewhere in the 100+ pages of policies and procedures that i had to sign off on, i promised not to use my status to curry favors. it is against the law, for example, for me to get out of a speeding ticket because i work for the state police. and i wouldn't. in all honesty, the grannymobile gets a vicious shimmy at high speeds, so it's not like i am about to go zooming down the highway anyway.

but it begs the question, i suppose, of what the heck they *think* these stickers are used for?

personally, i am choosing to display it as a sign of civic pride!

and my guess is that it will turn out to be $1.00 well spent.

my parents have been visiting

and mom informs me that none other than marilyn manson has moved into our neighborhood in los angeles. he bought a house on top of a hill that nobody has seen in years - it's an isolated house in a very populous suburby-area.

i should note that my mom was practically beaming when she told me this. she is so freaking excited - you'd think that having hulk hogan in the neighborhood would be enough, but i guess marilyn has one-upped him. perhaps it's because hulk lives in the super-uber-ritzy winnetka estates, and marilyn lives in a non-gated area like the rest of us.
here is the conversation we had about it - i am completely entertained.

mom: what does he do again?

me: well, he's sort of into shock rock - he looks weird and sings about stuff most adults don't really care for.

mom: like what? is it about [lowers her voice so dad doesn't hear] having intercourse?

me: no, more like satan and rock and roll. he looks real weird, mom.

mom: like that terrible guy on the radio? shocking like that?

me: howard stern? [she nods] no, not a shock jock. more like shock rock. but it's not so shocking anymore. ed: at this point, we are having the dumbest conversation ever and i'm starting to get embarassed.

mom: i think that howard guy is disgusting. the way he talks about women, he's just obscene. how terrible.

me: yeah, he's a real piece of shit, huh mom?

you know i don't like it when you use that language. [disapproving look]

how freaking funny!! she's not really worried about satanic shock-rocker marilyn manson - banned from certain states and cities, feared by late 90's parents, blamed for school shootings - being in the 'hood, but would possibly physically harm howard stern. my mom drives me insane most of the time, but sometimes i find her hilarious and endearing. it should be noted that later in the conversation (yes, it continued), she asked if he was married or had kids. i don't know why, but i just loved that mom was asking about marilyn manson (who from first-hand accounts is just a normal dude) like he was just that: a new neighbor.

so: l'chaim to new neighbors! marilyn, if you ever need to borrow some sugar or someone to watch your pets while you're out of town, joanne is happy to help.


new job... week 1!

welcome to the crime labfor folks who are confused about what i am actually doing, here's an explanation of my job -- i am employed by the state police, who run the state crime lab, which is where i work. the crime lab is full of people, half of whom are sworn ranked state police personnel. those are the folks with the badges and the guns, and they run things like ballistics, arson, and crime scene investigations. the rest of the state crime lab is people like me. we are civilians who run everything else like administration, DNA, trace evidence, chemistry, biology, and fingerprinting. i am working in the administration department, trying to help keep the bills paid, the supplies stocked, the building running, and helping to navigate the twisty maze of passages all alike that is the state financial requirements. in other words, i help create and maintain red tape.

the crime lab is fascinating. i got to see a twelve inch blade used to kill somebody, the drug locker which reeked of crystal meth, the big tank of water they shoot the guns into, and the large machine they fume superglue in for prints. pretty much anything you have seen on an episode of CSI is in my building. except the dead bodies. we only do body parts and fetuses. all bodies go to the medical examiners office in boston.

in fact, here is a list in ways that the massachusetts crime lab is not like CSI:

on CSI, you will see the same character go from processing latent prints to doing a mass spectrometer analysis of a liquid to spinning out DNA
in the state crime lab, there is no such thing as a generalist. if you do DNA analysis, you only do DNA analysis. you do it all day long. chemistry and biology, for example, are totally different departments.

on CSI, you can get DNA run in about 10 minutes.
in the state crime lab, we have a DNA backlog that stretches back about three years. some current cases can take priority, but that just means it will be done in weeks instead of months.

on CSI, the people get to drive hummers to crime scenes.
in the state crime lab, our crime scene service personnel drive ford focuses.

on CSI, the crime lab is cutting edge with the latest technology in a huge beautiful building that is modern and spacious.
in the state crime lab, we are cramped into an old converted elementary school and have to beg borrow and steal to fund new equipment. until this week they were still using an old fish tank turned upside-down to fume superglue in. we have up to four people sharing a desk and not enough computers to go around. one of our satellite sites is in a building that just got condemned by the state.

So all in all, it ain't quite CSI, but it's still a cool and interesting place to work. once i get a phone and computer i will be able to talk more about what i actually do. right now what i do is read a lot of manuals and try to take it all in.


i have so much shit in my bag.

click on these for a detailed, self-indulgent annotation with the flickr 'notes' function:

what's in my bag today?more stuff in my bag


so long flag store, hello state police!

so i ended my temp. worker career with hugs from all the folks at the flag store. i think that's a good sign. i am going to miss those guys quite a bit. it was a weird job, that i never would have expected liking, but at the end it was the best temp job i've had.

when i got my degree i promised jessamyn that i wouldn't marry a cop, and i promised jade that i wouldn't become a cop. i still vouch for these thing, but lets face it... this new job is skating pretty close to breaking my word.

in the mean time, i am spending this weekend getting ready. i chopped off four inches of hair for a more professional look, ordered a refill for my day planner, got the oil changed in the grannymobile, and i bought a smaller courier bag to appease my doctor and my back... oh, and i am accomplishing all of this after having thrown out my back on friday. i can't bend over and i am sucking down advil like candy.

tomorrow should be interesting!


krispy kreme=casa highland??

today i saw a young boy poo on the floor at krispy kreme in medford. okay, i didn't exactly see him poo on the floor. i saw him standing above a pile of poo on the floor. and i don't mean a little turd. i mean a huge pile of poo. he looked really embarrassed. i must have poo-on-the-floor karma because it was just like being at home when trixie can't quite make it to the box. or like working at the sharegroup during the reign of the mad crapper.

oh poo. why must you plague me?


i hope to join the portuguese credit union

as you know, kate just scored a job with the state of massachusetts. along with her job, she gets to bank with a credit union. it occurred to me that maybe a credit union would be a better place to go than a bank. apparently you can get individually tailored financial management advice, and i really like the community aspect of credit unions. they are not out to make a buck off their customers - all profits are given back to the shareholders (the members), and they are dedicated to improving the financial state of their members. i have a hard time managing my finances: i see a big balance on pay day, and i'm out to dinner, buying drinks, and spending - i hope this can help me be a more conscious saver.

last week i met a realtor at a housewarming, and we were talking about the market. i have always thought you needed $30,000 to put a down payment on a house, but it turns out you can get by with as little as $8,000. she pointed out that at 26, if i start saving a little each month, it is entirely feasible to purchase a house in my early thirties. i had always thought i would have somebody to do this stuff with - like a partner. but watching kate own her own home, and with friends beginning to take charge of projects like home-buying, i think it's something i should start preparing for on my own. this is a goal that i have, and in pursuit of that goal, i need to get my ass into better financial shape. [my ass could also be in better shape in general, but that requires more trips to the gym - haha.]

so, in hopes of a membership at the cambridge portuguese credit union , i thought i would do a little research on the language itself.

turns out that in addition to being spoken in cape verde, brazil and portugal, it is also spoken in east timor, mozambique, angola, and other countries all over the world.

did you know that because brazil has such a large population, portuguese is actually the most spoken language in south america?! i had no idea, and i learned more about geography as well. i'm one of those horrid statistics who has a hard time with identifying other countries.

in honor of portuguese speaking people, and the casa's ties to the flag business, i thought i would post the flags of some of these countries:
portugalangolaeast timor
cape verdebrazil

i hope that i can join the CPCU. i can't do this $35 balance bullshit anymore; i'm 26 and it's time to start behaving like a semi-adult.

edit: i am still working on this. apparently i need a portuguese speaking friend to sign me in. hmmmm..... are you portuguese? email me!