Sunday, July 27, 2008


These days I'm constantly running to catch up, but better late than never. A couple of weeks ago my parents took the kids to Medora, ND. They went to museums, saw the Medora musical, did the Pitchfork Fondue, went through Theodore Roosevelt National Park and saw wild horses and buffalo, went horseback riding, swam, romped... and had a generally wonderful time.

I'm awaiting some pictures that my parents took, but I had to share these from the Alien's cell phone.

Like grandfather, like grandson. This is my dad and my son, MonkeyDude. They'd just each bought themselves a new hat and settled into a bench to wait for my mom and the Alien.

Beautiful country in western North Dakota. I would love to see it myself some day.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bat Chat and Chewin' the Fat

Yesterday was... pretty good.

The kids and I woke up late. We divied up the household chores... they got a start while I made homemade biscuits and scrambled eggs for bruch. 11:00am was too late to call it breakfast.

For the past week, I'd promised them a movie after the weekly house cleaning. What was it to be? There are so many movies we've missed this summer. Something silly like Get Smart? A family-friendly adventure like Journey to the Center of the Earth? A promising sequel like Hellboy II? The mishmash of 70's memorabilia that is Mamma Mia? Nope. We opted for the newest Batman offering, The Dark Knight.


MonkeyDude had already seen The Dark Knight at a midnight showing with his friends on Thursday and loved it. "This is the best movie of the year!" he exclaimed. "Heath Ledger redefines the Joker!"

My concern was that it would be too intense for the Alien. Let's face it. One of the things I love about the dark knight is that he's... well... dark. The Killing Joke is a masterpiece, but not for the kiddies. Of course, this girl's a big fan of relatively dark fandom material. And MonkeyDude was there to let me know if any particular part was particularly grim, so we decided it was okay.

I think she fared better than I did. I spent most of the film, instead of sitting back and just enjoying it, wondering if it was "too much." I have to admit, it really muted my enthusiasm for it. Not the film's fault. Mine. In this case, a rating of PG-13 was spot on.

Granted, I was already a bit skeptical walking in the door. I'd loved Michael Keaton's Batman in 1989 (but don't get me started on the leading lady). I've also never been that keen on Christian Bale or the last iteration, Batman Begins, depsite its inclusion of Michael Kane, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman in the supporting cast.

The Dark Knight brought back the stellar casting choices (and mercifully cast OUT Katie Holmes), while adding Heath Ledger to the mix. MonkeyDude was right. Ledger was absolutely mesmerizing as the Joker. He was psychotic and terrifying... so much so that I almost felt guilty laughing when he did something funny. How could I laugh at a gibbering sociopath? I couldn't help myself. Another brilliant young actor - gone before his time.

Aaron Eckhart also deserves props as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. His Dudley Do-Right turned to the the dark side was a heart-rending transformation. Screen veterans Michael Kane, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman, as usual, turned in wonderful, natural performances.

There was also a parade of B-list actors we recognized from television and movie favorites that surprised me: Keith Szarabajka (Angel, Star Trek, prolific voice actor), Nestor Carbonell (The Tick live action series), Eric Roberts (the kids rememberd him as the Master from the '96 Doctor Who movie with Paul McGann), and according to the credits, Anthony Michael Hall... although I can't remember seeing him in the movie. Huh.

I think I need to see this one again... sans the Alien. She and I will take in Mamma Mia next. I don't think Meryl Streep treats anyone to the disappearing pencil trick.


Later, at home, we turned on the latest, and last for two years, Doctor Who. The kids had seen it, but I hadn't. I know it was filled to the brim with fan-boy squee, but I loved it all the same. Yeah. I love the Doctor, and I'm not ashamed to say it.

After dinner, MonkeyDude was off to be with his friends. Kate and I putzed around the house until it was time to pick him up. Mostly here, the television stays off now. We got rid of all but the most basic cable, and TV is mostly shite. We've got enough around the house to keep us occupied.

We did do a bit of online shopping. Ordered personalized pencils for the Alien for the school year. They're Tardis blue, inscribed with - "Bad Wolf". I love my little nerd girl!


I love bargains. Today, our insurance company is treating us to a cheap day at the Minnesota Zoo. Discounted admission and chow. It's a helluva drive, but I've been looking forward to just strolling through the animules with the kidlins. I think the three of us need an outing together - especially with the work week looming on the horizon.

Suppose I'd better wake up the kidlins and get started on the day...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ramblings of a Mad Woman

Forgive this post in advance, if you please.

It will more than likely be rambling, introspective, negative and a little whiney. But I've been way out of the posting habit for more than a few months and need to get back on the bicycle... horse... wagon... whatever it was I fell off of.

My brain isn't in a place for flowing prose right now, so allow me to set my thoughts up in neat categories.

23 days ago, Avindair set out on a big adventure -- off to the DAVE School to change his career and our lives. He's doing amazing work, but the pace is almost overwhelming. The kids and I miss him, of course, but we're so proud of him and support him every step of the way. We count down the days until his first visit on our office whiteboard and calendar. One of his Block 1 images (made his second week of class) even made it to the DAVE School online gallery. Look for the Sideways Tanker image.

Doing remarkably well. They spent 1/3 of their summer spending as much time with Avindair as they could before he had to go. Then another week with the grandparents in North Dakota with a fun trip to Medora. Now they're back home, getting together with friends as much as possible and trying to get the most out of what's left of summer. MonkeyDude finished the classroom portion of driver's ed. Now I have to get him his permit and get him behind the wheel to practice. He's got a busy social life (and hopefullly a job soon, too), but with Minnesota's 3-stage process, he should have his license to drive alone sometime before he's 25. The Alien is just doing her best to be with friends and keep her room from having a "hazard" label put on it.

I love my new job. It's absolutely perfect for me. But even the best jobs have their rough patches. It's a long story, but the last few weeks have been more than challenging in the sleep department. As in "not getting much." Suffice it to say, due to many big projects due all at once, it's been less than rosie. Last week I logged 80 hours. Last night I pulled an extra 11 hours and was up until 545am. This craziness won't last forever, but my batteries are not recharging like they need to. Last Friday I was literally fit to be tied - completely burned out and exhausted. I'm happy to say that this week has been much better and I'm learning to put the needs of the schedule in perspective.

One HUGE plus in my job is the ability to work from home... pretty much any time I need to. That flexibility in my schedule is true blessing. I also have a fantastic boss and co-workers. And I love, love, love what I do.

Life in General
In some ways, Avindair's absence has been easier than I'd thought. Both of us are so busy - he with school, and me with work, kids and home - that we hardly have time to miss each other a lot. The missing is almost harder when we have down time. Weekends are the toughest.

I spent one week alone when the kids were away with my parents. Unfortunately, it was the one week where I worked an ungodly number of hours. I had hoped that I'd have been able to use that week as much-needed downtime, but no luck. On the other hand, with no one else in the house... just me and Houdini Poochini... the house stayed remarkably clean.

This weekend I'm forcing myself to NOT work (with the exception of about 2 hours of freelance stuff I promised to do). Tomorrow is yard work, a little housecleaning, some errands and a movie with the kids. Sunday we're going to the zoo. I need to spend time with my kids and not with my computer.

I'm off to hang out with the Alien. She wants to read me an article about Doctor Who (I STILL haven't watched the last episode!). Then later, it's off to pick up MonkeyDude from the theater. He went out to dinner and a movie with some pals. I'll have a brownie that just came out of the oven, pour a little glass of wine, and kick back.

Maybe I'll get around to watching that last Doctor Who...