Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dead Things in My Yard. For Real.

Buckley dog was doing that terse, unsure barking last night.  The kind that says, "I've got prey. I want to play with it, paw at it and such, but it's not moving."  Bark. Bark.  "MOVE, you stupid thing."

Our big Maglite is out of batteries, and missing.  I was in pajamas and barefoot so wasn't going to wander into the backyard to inspect what Buckley was hunched over.   I firmly yelled for him to come in immediately and to my surprise, he obliged.  I made a quick mental note to check the yard in the morning before letting him back out.

I forgot to check in the morning.  I wandered out on the back porch this evening with Hadley, then I saw it.  The prey.  Mouth agape, tiny teeth glowing, it's body rolled in red clay, and covered in flies.  I dared not touch the baby possum, and thankfully, Buckley was disinterested now that it was dead and unmoving.  With Hadley by my side I decided to return immediately inside and remove the carcass once she was in bed.  I should note here that Jeff is out of town all week, so I'm Weaver Animal Control this week. Dangit.

Tonight, as the light faded, I shoveled up the body.  Baked by the sun, eaten away and fly infested, the smell was putrid.  I quickly headed for the back of the yard, intending to hurl the little wretch into our neighbor's yard.  Yep. I'm that neighbor.  I mean, not usually, but in this case I felt my reasoning sound:   A. They're renters. B. the back corner of their yard is thickly overgrown and I'm sure no one goes back there since their children are older and they don't have pets.   C.  Since we have a clumsy dog who roams our yard looking for things, I shudder to think of the smell of his paws were he to accidentally step on the carcass, or God forbid, try to nuzzle it some more to try to bring it to life.

One flick of the shovel sent the little guy flying toward the neighboring underbrush.  But he hit a branch mid-flight and landed in thick ivy, on our side of the fence, in the very area where Buckley likes to roam around.  See, if Jeff would have been here, I would not have dealt with any of this.  As it was, my dead-possum juice covered shovel was making me gag already, and now I would have to go dig the thing out of the ivy for a second attempt.  Well the dang shovel kept snagging in the ivy, flinging the crumpled little beast here and there, spraying his stink around the edge of our yard.  Finally a clean pull, a furtive flick over the fence and the pest was gone.  But his odor lingered.

I sure hope Jeff is happy.  All his frolicking around Utah's canyons while I'm dealing with stinky dead things.  Blech.  I much prefer the sight of a dead zucchini plant to that grossness.

What would you have done with the dead possum?  Should I bring the neighbors cookies, just because?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Passive Aggressive Notes - Home Edition

This is a spray bottle of cleaner that I use around the house.  I mix it from a concentrate, but have marked the bottle so we know what it is. It has a lovely fresh lemon scent.
I have a habit of leave the bottle out on the counter instead of putting it away.  Most often this is because I intend to use it again somewhere, then forget or get distracted by another pressing issue, say, a toddler falling down the stairs or something.  Or its because I'm too lazy to pry the child lock off the under-sink cabinet.  My propensity for leaving out the Meyers spray frustrates Jeff.   I'm sure it's in an endearing way, like, "aww, that silly Katie always leaves the cleaning spray and aluminum foil out.  I'd sure miss that little quirk if she weren't around." Right? I'm sure it's endearing... 
One day I came home to find that Meyer's cleaner had a new label: 

Poor Spray, feels so abandoned on the counter, must have note instructing user what to do when user is finished.   I now refer to the Meyers as "Put Me Away Spray."  With this new moniker and new directive, I have gotten better about actually putting Spray away.  But clearly I've not been good enough.  My sickness must run deep, for I recently found this NEWER label written on the bottle:

Such high stakes now, with this new (passive?) aggressive note.  I like to think I put Spray away even more often now.  But my record is not peerless. Now, if Jeff sees "IfYouHateJeff" Spray out, he just lets out a beleaguered sigh. 

The bottle is running out of room for labels, but what note would you leave to get the Spray put away?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dead Things In My Yard

Call me what you will, "Brown Thumb," "Agent Orange," not in touch with my inner-Eve...er, I mean, can I even use that one now? Now that apparently she's not real anymore?  Regardless of the metaphor, the end result is that I don't do well with caring for the earth's bounty.  I wrote about my battle with the earth in more detail a few months ago, and THAT was when the weather was bearable.  So here I am, nearing the end of summer, still wanting to be an uber-spiritual, in-touch with the earth, steward of God's creation, but confessing that I just tend to kill things.

I have a friend who swears she has that effect on ministries.  Her heart is so big and willing to help people and affect changed, but, as she would tell it, things just tend to die when she comes on board.  She calls herself a "Ministry Albatross."  While I enjoy that metaphor, I try to assure her that it's not entirely true (though we can chuckle and list quite a few examples of her hypothesis).  However, there is no denying my fatal effect on plantlife (and probably some ministries).  Sad green and brown skeletons litter the grounds of my home.  And now some photographic evidence that though I love the earth, I'm not the best at caring for it.  Does God redeem our intentions?

Dead Basil. Probably could revive it with water. Maybe.

This used to be an English Laurel.  Where decorative plants have languished, weeds and pesky growth have flourished.

Foreground: Zucchini Plant. Yielded approximately 2 before it's untimely death. Background: Dead carrots, and other stuff.

Dying Boston Fern. Dying other plant.  (Remaining flowering plant is fake.)
Dead flat-leaf parsley.  I came to water it the other day and it was covered with caterpillars. This was the net result. 

Monday, August 15, 2011


Yesterday, the 2nd basemen with the awkwardly large upper body had his hit streak snapped at 33 games.  That player, of course, is Dan Uggla who plays for my home team Braves.  It's always nice to have a home-towner getting press from such a streak as his, but I honestly can't say I wanted him to break the great DiMaggio's streak.  I mean, Uggla went into it hitting under .200, his own streak of miserable hitting had earned him the name "StrUggla."   But he turned it around, and raised his average like 30 points and has helped the Braves win, but still be almost out of spittin' distance with the insanely winning Phillies.

Sports, and baseball in particular, is a stats-driven game.  What would it all be without the numbers to tell us who is good and who needs improvement?   How else would we compare athletes from one generation to the next?  For what other purpose would Fox use their over-the-top animation graphics?   Goalkeepers can have a shut-out streaks, a basketball player may make 25 straight free throws, a quarterback can have a streak of completed passes, what kind of streaks to I aim for in my non stats-driven world?   What is the measure of sucess on a day to day basis for Joe Everyman?   What could I do 33 days in a row that would be record-book worthy?

Hm....If I made home-cooked dinner for 33 days straight, that'd be impressive.  If I made a home-cooked, from scratch dinner for 3 days straight that would be a feat.  I'm thinking of the DiMaggios in this realm, the marathoners who feed their families multi-colored plates of goodness every night.  Now that's a streak.   Or what if I had a streak where I responded to all emails within 24 hours for 33 straight days.  It would be unbelievable, SportsCenter worthy, right? 

What would your streak be? What would be a feat for you to do for 33 straight days?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Oh, More Mr. Nice Guy?

Last night while watching the pre and post-game commentary and interviews surrounding the U.S. Men's National Team Friendly against Mexico, I was struck with how NICE Jurgen Klinsmann seems.  The recently hired head coach was utterly positive after a very lackluster first half performance by his new team.  He smiled comfortably, vowing that there was still time to play, saying he was pleased with how things had gone for the first 45.

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
(Womanly Aside)

But, oh, that smile.  Here's a little tidbit overheard in the Weaver living room last night before kick-off.  Me: "Ya know, I think I have a little crush on Jurgen Klinsmann."  Jeff:  "Yea, me too."

Hm, okay, well that was easy.  Like Jurgen is easy on the eyes I guess.  I don't know whether it's that aformentioned smile that exudes a coolness and nonplussed confidence, or whether its the physique that leads one to believe he could still keep up with the pros in a pick-up game.  Maybe it's the European tan, the steely eyes or the German accent, now heavily Americanized.

"He looks like my people," I said to Jeff last night.  And maybe that's it, strangely, that his German features are so very similar to my Uncle, Father, Grandfather and so on that they seem comfortable to me.  Not exotic, just ruggedly good looking like my Uncle was at his age.  Add to that his impressive soccer lineage, and my hopes for his impact on my home-country's national program and well, there's magnetism.

The only thing I find slightly worrisome about any of this discussion, however, is that my attractions are now turning from players to coaches.  Lord, am I getting that old?  I remember going to England in 1999 and seeing a post-card of Michael Owen in his England kit and having an instant crush on him.  I bought the postcard, hung it in my college apartment for several months after returning.  Sure, I still think he's great looking, but now I also pine after Klinsmann, Leonardo, Guardiola?  Yea, I'll admit it, I even think Mourinho is attractive.  You younguns can have your Jack Wilshere's and Chicharitos, I apparently am moving on to the old guys.  Sheesh.


Kinsmann's smiling and positivity before, during and after the game wasn't in pure opposition to his predecessor, it just had added notes of positivity. Perhaps because he had more inflection in his voice than a Speak N Spell, something which Bob Bradley usually lacked.  But my first thought upon hearind Klinsmann during his half-time interview was how much it reminded me of Pia Sundhage, another tanned European U.S. National Team coach.

Commentators seemed often bemused by Sundage's positivity during the Women's World Cup, even in the face of poor play, or frustrating calls.  But by the end of the tournament, we all expected it, and for me personally, quite liked it.  The the key result for Sundhage wasn't to ensure that critics and fans liked her glass-half-full approach, but to ensure that her team responded to it.  And they did, in a World Cup Final kind of way.

So does all this happy-clappy on the sidelines represent a turning-tide in sport from the rough-and-tumble venom-spewing macho-men inciting fear in their players?  Are we past the days of the Woody Hayes', Bear Bryants, by God, the Bo Schembechlers ?  Sure, maybe the gridiron is different, but maybe not. Perhaps even the tough-as-nails ranks of college and professional football are falling prey to the nice guy epidemic.  Are we in for more Tony Dungy mentor-types? More Mark Richt's. Sure, they might yell at you in the locker room, but then they pass you a note with an encouraging bible verse and ask about how your sick grandmother is doing. These guys are positive, kumbah-ya coaches and players like playing for them.

Shiny Happy Players

The Wall Street Journal featured a marginally scientific inquiry into the amount of body contact done by NBA playoff teams as it relate to their success.  Wouldn't you know it that the Dallas Mavericks, the most affectionately touchy team on the court went on to win the big trophy.  Those guys were always hugging, butt-patting, chest bumping and high-fiving.  Clearly, positivity pays.  (Interesting note that one of the ring-leaders in this hug-fest was German star Dirk Nowitski. Maybe we'd all be happier if we ate more brats and drank more beer. Hm.)

I've seen this happy trend on the Braves bench this year, too.  The team is transitioning from future hall-of-fame manager Bobby Cox, one of the planets most fantastically lovable, crotchety old guys to Fredi Gonzalez, a smiley, portly, low-key latino whose first name ends in "i" (seriously? Does he dot it with a heart? ).  And you know what I've noticed this year?  More hugging.  Sure, we loved Bobby's dirt-kicking, spitting, red-faced antics, but maybe Fredi's laid-back style is bringing a new sensibility to even the dirtiest, manliest place on earth - the baseball dugout. 

Wednesday night at the U.S. - Mexico game, there was an awful lot of hugging. Coach on coach hugging. Player on player, coach on player etc.  Klinsmann's first reaction in the post-game interview: "I really had fun." What coach says that? And after a tie no less.  But you could tell he meant every word of it.  That positivity seemed to trickle down to his players, even 11 days in.  I'm pretty sure I saw him tell sub Ricardo Clark (who plays in Germany) to "Mach SpaB" (that means "have fun" in German) as he ran onto the field.  Macht SpaB, eh? Naturlisch.

So, whether or not we are in a new Nice-guy era of sport, U.S. soccer is at least in a slightly upgraded version of that with Herr Kinsmann.  And I'd be happy and proud to find myself in the middle of that hug-fest.  Ja? Bitte?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

In Georgia Augusts, I Dream of Seattle

Nothing makes me long for the Pacific Northwest more than late summer in Atlanta.  By this time of year my patience is worn thin with sticky mornings and evenings, and unbearable afternoons littered with thunderstorms that seem to do nothing to break the humidity's stranglehold.  But yet, every third day or so by this time of year, you catch a fleeting breeze that cools, that doesn't carry the burden of 70% water.  It sneaks in, cools your face and sends a reminder of what summer in Seattle can feel like.

Three years ago, in an August much like this one, Jeff and I headed west to visit family, soak in nature, and cool our internal temperatures a few degrees.  We hiked, strolled, boated, ate and played frisbee in beautiful places.  We had sun, drizzle, downpours, fog, sometimes in the same day.  We loved it. 

While I toil to till the parched earth of our fledgling garden and rue the damage that critters have wrought on everything but the zucchini (it just died from lack of water.  Sorry old boy.), I think of my uncle's garden in Kent.  How plump and delicious the blueberries were as I picked hundreds of them, my mouth watering in anticipation of eating every one.  I think of how awestruck I was by the massive, "pesky" weed of a blackberry bush gone rampant across from Uncle Bernie and Aunt Karen's house.  I had to run back to the house for buckets, tupperware, whatever I could grab that would hold the bounty of those deep purple blackberries.  My Aunt and Uncle seemed indifferent to my collecting the sweet fruit, while I acted as if I'd never seen a bush nor tree bear anything but leaves in my life.   That is Seattle, bountiful in rain, thereby bountiful in beautiful flowers, summer fruits and vegetables and rich green grass.  The reward of the gloom I suppose.

So as I wallow in the heat of Georgia's August, I dream of Seattle, and Vancouver and the San Juans, and how one day I'll show Hadley these places because they are so stunningly beautiful.  

Points if you can name where each of the following was taken. (and if you guess "Katie's Uncle's back yard" on that last one, you're genius)


Monday, August 08, 2011

Stages of Conversion

I'm completely lifting this from someone who lifted this from someone who lifted this.  I'm not sure what the blogosphere / social networking term for all that is, but it may involve more hat tips than a debutante ball.

I picked it up from Pithless Thoughts, a very funny, honest blogger who I check in on once in a while.  He is an Orthodox Christian, and I believe perhaps the original poster is as well;  however, I'm sure that believers of all shapes and stripes have seen this process, at least a few stages through. I know I have, probably several times.  Have you?

(from Steve at Pithless Thoughts )

Stages of Conversion

I don't think I have ever lifted a complete blog post from someone else's blog (though I've quoted and recommended a few... very few).  Silouan posted this on Facebook and I read it. It is about the process of "converting", something many or most of us have done.  I'm posting it because I don't want to take the chance that you won't take time to click the link.

Wisdom, let us attend!
It doesn't seem to matter what version of the Christian faith you join, because this seems to be a near-universal process:

Phase 1: The Cage Phase
So you've found your new tradition, and you've finally discovered all the answers to life's problems encompassed within it. You've also read a few books that explain how every other Christian tradition (especially the one you just left) has absolutely ruined the piss out of the Christian faith as a whole. As God's apostle to the unconverted, it now falls upon you to save the world (especially your friends and family in the old tradition) by enlightening them as to just how perfect everything is about your new tradition and how stupid and wrong everything about their current tradition is. It is very important for you to have a blog during this time so that you can enlighten as many people as possible.

Phase 2: Addiction
After having ruined all your relationships from your past life, you are now disillusioned with the willful ignorance and impiety of all those outside your new church. Let the heretics stew in their heresy. It is now time to busy yourself with drinking as much religious Kool-Ade as you possibly can, preferably until your skin becomes the same color as Purplesaurus Rex and your body's pH levels are completely thrown off. You need to read every theological or devotional book you can, buy lots of the assorted trinkets associated with your tradition, and make lots of pilgrimages to either theology conferences or monasteries, depending on how your church rolls.

Phase 3: Apostle of Renewal
You've recently noticed that most of the other people in your church are not nearly as obsessed with it as you are. They aren't reading those books, and they aren't buying all that crap you've strewn your house with. They're more concerned with paying the bills than why those awful sectarians are wrong. They even have friends outside the church! Many of them are not aware just how right and perfect their church is, or how great their lives would be if they would just fling themselves with total abandon into the kind of obsession you yourself have. This is clearly a problem that must be fixed, for it threatens to destroy the purity of the faith. As God's chosen agent of change, you busy yourself with trying to whip up everyone in the congregation into the same frothing devotion you yourself exhibit.

Phase 4: Beaten by Reality
You've finally faced the harsh truth: The people in your new tradition are, at their core, a whole lot like all those people from your old tradition that you despised so much, with all the same foibles and failings. You give up on saving the world, on restoring your tradition to its purity, and have lost your confidence that God himself has appointed you to fix everything. You've discovered that your new church in fact has a lot of ugliness in its history, has a lot of jerks in its power structure, can't solve all of life's problems, and isn't always all that consistent or believable in what it teaches or what it does.

Phase 5, Option 1: The Rat Leaves the Ship
Clearly, you were had. You thought you had found the One True Perfect Tradition, but you were deceived. You know what you must do--find the tradition that really does get it all right, because it must be out there. Back to Phase 1 for you!

Phase 5, Option 2: Complete Disillusionment
You have realized, perhaps after going through this cycle several times, that you are perhaps the only sincere, thinking Christian in the world. Everyone else is a hypocrite or a dunce, and all these corrupt denominations and hierarchies have ever accomplished is completely screwing up everything. Completely embittered at the idea of organized religion, you isolate yourself in order to go be a true follower of Christ without all those awful other people screwing things up. If you meet some like-minded folk, you start meeting up with them in order to transcend organized religion by organizing a religion. It's very likely that you eventually realize that all religious people are deluded fools and become an atheist or agnostic.

Phase 5, Option 3: Partial Disillusionment and Accommodation
After facing the harsh reality in Phase 4, you've further realized that phases 1 through 3 ought to be renamed "Jackass," "Nutjob," and "Know-it-All," respectively, which suggests that you are, for the most part, much worse at being a decent human being than all those people too stupid and impious to realize how awesome your new religion is. While many of the reasons that you had for joining your current tradition remain, and thus so do you, you decide it's time to cut yourself, your church, everyone else's churches, and rest of the world some slack.