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Halloween kitty

"Trick or treat!"
With the cat under one arm and candy in the other I said, "Here you go, what would you like?" Her little blonde head swiveled between the treats and the kitty and finally without taking her eyes off the cat she turned to her mom.
She whispered, "Can I have the kitty cat?" Her mom and I laughed.
"No honey, the kitty cat lives here. It can't come home with us."
"But Mom! I want it!" Trying to work every angle she finally looked up at me and pleaded, "But I would name her Spooky." After a few more "No, honey" lines clucked by her mom, she grabbed a snickers and walked away, head down, hoping for better luck at the next house.


The Artist's House at Argenteuil

A woman stopped me in the hallway, "Caley, right? Frank's daughter?"
"Yes," I said, "That's my dad, when I claim him." Interning at the same place my Dad had worked for 30 years forced me to have an answer ready for this inevitable question.
"We haven't met since you were a toddler, but I'm Julie. I remember when you were born." That one I hadn't heard before so I sputtered before answering.
"Oh, thank you. That's--" I searched for the right word, "--sweet." Walking in the same direction we got past the awkwardness and continued our conversation.
After a few hallway chats I started stopping by Julie's office to talk. In the middle of a divorce and as the primary caretaker of her terminally ill father, she had plenty to discuss. A few months later her youngest son moved out, leaving her living alone for the first time ever. I, too, was on my own and we shared stories of getting scared over suspicious noises that turned out to be the pipes knocking or the wind on a metal overhang.
At the end of my internship I wrote notes to the people who I had gotten to know during my year at the company and when it came time to write Julie's I got a little choked up. Telling her how impressed I was by her strength I tried to leave her with words of encouragement. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't thought of her in the six months that have passed since I started my new job but then I got an email from her with the subject, "The Monet card you gave me when you left."
Julie wrote that she has kept the card that I gave her tacked up in her cube. Since I left, her divorce became final and a few weeks later her father passed away after sharing one last dinner with her. Julie said that after the divorce she finds herself having to redecorate on a serious budget and was at a second hand store when she found resting on the ground a framed print of the same Monet painting on the card I had given her. As she looked at it a store worker stopped by and said, "Isn't that lovely? I just priced it and put it out about two minutes ago. It must be meant to be yours!"
She bought that print right up and dashed home to write to me saying, "I see God’s hand in my life everywhere blessing me, and somehow you are the conduit for this one."
When I wrote those notes half a year ago I just used a hodge podge of cards and didn't give much thought to who got which one. I had no idea that giving the one with "The artist’s house at Argenteuil" to Julie would later bring her a moment of knowing God's love, but I get the feeling Someone did.


Traffic tale

Driving down 94 in rush hour I noticed a stream of cars passing someone in the right lane. As I got closer I saw an old, classic 60's thunderbird in baby blue. As I pulled up next to it I looked over, fully expecting to see the original owner, probably a little old lady with a scarf tied around her set curls. Instead, I saw a 50 year old man with a scruffy beard, a camo hat, plaid flannel shirt and a Carhart jacket. I think he might have seen me laugh.


Winter hours

I don't understand how it works but somehow with winter hours I am always late. For summer hours I am supposed to start at 7:30 but I usually get here at 7:15. Winter hours have me starting later, at 8:00 but I always feel rushed and barely make it in on time. I blame the dark. Or maybe the cold (the four inches of skin that were exposed between my Uggs and my trench got so cold that my kneecaps almost fell off.) Either way, rushing around = less time for writing so if I am MIA here and there it is because it is winter hours.


First snow-slush

It snowed yesterday but not with the fat flakes that somehow look warm as they hug the grass. No, it was slushy snow, just like the kind that gets stuck in the cracks of boots and leaves grey streaks in every entryway. To recognize the first snowfall I had spaghetti for breakfast, stayed in my pjs until 4pm, took a nap on the couch, sofa chair, and in my bed, baked apple crisp and didn't leave the house until it was time for pork roast at the parents. It was perfect. Except for the part where it was freezing cold outside. And snow-slushing. In October.


Premio Daros Blog Award

My first ever blog award! Ms. Sharon Rose has awarded me the Premio Daros Blog Award, isn't she sweet? Here is the description of it:

This award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. (Loose translation)
Here it is in its original Portugese form: O conceito deste prémio passa por reconhecer valores culturais, éticos, literários e pessoais, transmitidos de forma criativa e original nos pedacinhos rabiscados por cada blogueiro que o receba.

The best part of blog awards is getting to pass them on so, here we go!
1.) Victoria of Agnes and Henry: the stories about her beautiful kitten cats always make me smile and her photography is so beautiful it makes me jealous
2) Mykala of Unicorndog: perhaps I'm a bit biased since I've know this lady for a while now and she is one of my favorite people in the world, but her writing rocks.
3) Hammie of Hammie's Blog: part of what I love about this sweet lady is that she can be as rambly as me but still makes perfect sense...she is full of wisdom and I feel lucky to get some of it!

Thank you, Sharon Rose, for making my heart go pitter patter on a cold, windy, rain filled day.



Not sure if I've mentioned this before but it turns out I'm just as much of a procrastinator in grad school as I was in undergrad. Last night I put off writing my Governance and Management of Non-profit Organizations paper by reading a magazine. For some odd reason, this quote stood out to me:

Procrastination is a way for us to be satisfied with second-rate results; we can always tell ourselves we'd have done a better job if only we'd had more time. If you're good at rationalizing you can keep yourself feeling rather satisfied this way, but it's a cheap happy. You're whittling your expectations of yourself down lower and lower. - Richard O'Connor, PhD in Happy At Last: The Thinking Person's Guide to Finding Joy

Did my professor plant this for me? Or maybe it was my mother. Or my therapist. Hmm, well, I got my paper done in plenty of time to email in before class (if a few hours counts as plenty of time) so I guess I'll start taking his advice into consideration next time I have a paper due. No harm in putting it off, right? ;)


Hello, FBI agents!

Hellooooooooooo FBI agents at my office.
Is there any way I could borrow one of your suits so I can be you for Halloween? The sunglasses would help, too.
I would give you credit and everything, "Costuming by Agent Smith." It'll be great for your resume.
Still no?
Well how about this, I'm sure you have more than one dark, ominous looking suit. I'll just wear one of your spares and we can go to the party together as the MIB. Ooo, and bring your dog, that'll make it even more realistic.
I cannot believe you aren't going for this. "Official business" does not count as an excuse in my book.
Oh another thing though, one of my co-workers said it is their dream to be tackled by the FBI. Do you think we could at least hook that up? I promised to take video of it on my cell phone and put it on youtube.
Fine, then I'll keep your face out of it if you'd like.
You're a tough one. I suppose I'll let you get back to sweeping the building.
Wait! Do you think Hil would let me borrow her suit for this years costume?
Of course "Senator Clinton" wouldn't mind that I call her Hil. She's cool like that. Unlike some people I know who are a little bit uptight...
Noooo, of course I wasn't referring to you.
Gotta go, Agent Smith. Have a great day!

Sidenote: This conversation did not actually happen. Well, it did, but only in my head as I watched safely from the 5th floor windows as the FBI agents swept the entrances for Hillary Clinton's appearance in my office building last night.


Sweet, sweet music

"I'm going to the mall this weekend. I need some retail therapy."
"Nice, I can't. I have to save my money. I'm buying a piano this weekend."
"What? I was thinking a cute top, not a musical instrument that doubles as a piece of furniture!"

For hours Saturday afternoon I visited old pieces of music that hadn't been played in years. The cat watched from the top of the corner built in cabinets, confused by the new sounds bouncing around the living room.
Sunday I told myself I couldn't play until all of the leaves were cleared from the yard. Fifteen trash bags later, which is an impressive number considering I don't actually have any trees in my yard, I started picking up my tools with one thing on my mind: the piano. With my fingers distracted by Pachelbel's cords I didn't even notice when they closed around the bee sunning itself on the roll of leftover bags. I did notice when the little bugger, excuse the pun, stung me right in the middle of my palm. I yelped, Ebbie came running, and the bee flopped death flops on the floor.
My first bee sting. Mom told me to use baking soda, Google said toothpaste, and John the paramedic swore by meat tenderizer. The only thing that worked was ice. Of course, my makeshift icepack, aka a plastic baggie with ice cubes in it, burst in the middle of the night and I woke up in a puddle. Yesterday was no better but today, today I think I might be able to practice again. I hope. Stupid bees.


Empty head

Not much going on in my head today, at least not much worth writing. I don't seem to have any words! Maybe Mykala cut out my thoughts when she gave me my haircute last night (sidenote: haircute is a term coined by Kala on her blog. Fitting, since she gives a darn good one herself!)
Here are a few articles written by people who did have words and used them quite nicely, too.
First an article by Ryan Reynolds about running the New York City Marathon in honor of his father who has parkinsons diseason.
And then, a funny one I read in Oprah's magazine (I know, I know but my mom subscribes and since I'm too cheap to pay for my own magazines I just read other peoples leftovers). It answers questions women often ask from a man's perspective and it made me laugh out loud and go "awww."

And here are two cop-out quotes! My friends are funny.

Me: Did you know that women blink almost twice as often as men?
Katie: Sorry, that made me blink.

Kelsey: I just read on msn that mpls-st. paul is rated 3rd in best cities for single people... YA right
Me: 3rd best in what...MN?!?
Kelsey: apparently in the us.... however, I beg to differ
Me: do they tell single people how to take advantage of that?
Kelsey: No, they don't tell us how. Apparently you have to go stand on a street corner naked
Me: That could work if you were holding a sign with your phone number on it
Kelsey: Well, I'm thinking that might it not be a bad option right now.

That's all I've got!

p.s. This morning for the first time since I got my un-haircute almost a month ago I actually smiled at my reflection. Thanks, Mykala, for loving me even though I "get a little sassy sometimes" and for making me feel pretty again.


Complimenting strangers

I firmly believe in complimenting strangers. People I know, too, but there is something special about telling the woman walking toward the parking garage that her red shoes are to die for, or the barista that her earrings are lovely. I thought the middle aged woman in the red shoes was going to hug me she got so excited and she launched into a story about shopping in Chicago with her daughter. The barista with the simple citron earrings told me she made them herself and has been crafting jewelry since she was a little girl. Granted, I really only compliment other women because I have this fear that guys will think I am hitting on them when really I just like their hat/jacket/shoes/etc. Regardless, I love the stories people share with me and even the occasional confused shying away when I tell them something they are wearing is beautiful. It's as if the anonymity makes it a little more true because I'm not a friend saying it "just because I have to." I'm just a stranger, noticing a bold pair of shoes or some graceful earrings.


tea talking

My tea talks to me. It says things like:

our intuition lies
in our innocence

~there is~
~~no love~~

There is nothing more precious than
the self.

I'm not sure that I agree with it, but those are some of the things it says to me every morning.


Recipe for disaster

Fall foods make me go MMMM. While I don't do a ton of cooking (it is hard to get motivated to do it for just one person), I do like to whip a yummy up every once in a while. Last week I decided to make baked apples like my grandma Maggie used to do when the weather started changing. Looking up a recipe online I found one and got started. It told me to core the apple using an apple corer but if I didn't have one I should simply use a paring knife, simply being the key word there. By the time I was finished trying to decoreify my lovely local apples, they looked like victims of the chainsaw massacre and my hands were not in much better shape. I had so many little cuts on my fingers I had to do the second half of the project with gloves on to keep it all sanitary. For some reason I didn't think to take a picture of them when they were done. Perhaps that is because they were brown, smooshed and disgusting looking. But let me tell you, they were DE-LISH-OUS.

This weekend I decided to be brave and try another fall favorite: butternut squash. Mom said it is pretty much the easiest thing in the world and I foolishly believed her. Cut the squash in half, put it in a pan with a little water in the bottom, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. What she failed to mention is that squash is not easy to cut in half. In fact, it is near impossible. Instead of two halves I ended up with a 1/3 and a 2/3. The edges almost looked like I had intentionally tried to make them scalloped but no, no that is just as close to a straight edge as I could get. After slamming the oven door shut with the squash inside I surveyed the damage. Little orange pieces were all over the kitchen, there were three dirty knives on the counter because I kept thinking, "Maybe this one will make it easier," and I was practically shaking from frustration.

I sent my mom this picture accompanied by a text that said, "I almost died trying to cut the squash in half. Easiest recipe ever? I think not." Her response was, "Save that photo for a cookbook." Thanks, Mom.


Winning the lottery

I got an email last night informing me I had been selected to win the British International Lottery! All I have to do to get my prize money of 500,000.00 pounds is send all of my personal information to Mr. Richard Moore at his very official hotmail email address. What a deal! Oh, and "For security reasons, we [sic]advice all winners to keep this information confidential from the public until your claim is processed and your prize released to you.This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted taking advantage of this programme by non-participant or unofficial personnel."
This is kind of like the time I got a letter personally signed by President Bush asking me to vote for him. Right. Not so much.
Sidenote: I have automatically disqualified myself by breaching the confidentiality policy. Oops. What a shame.


Family Musings, Part III

Dear Sissypants,
Every time I start writing about you I get stuck because there is so much I want to say. So, I decided it would be easier if I just wrote it like a letter addressed to you.
When I was little, my hero worship went beyond just wanting to be like you; I wanted to actually be you. You know how I used to say your hair looked like spun gold? I was right. I'm still jealous of it.

In kindergarten you were the 6th grade bus patrol which automatically made me one of the coolest girls during the walk from the classroom to the front of the school every day. You beat up the neighborhood bully to protect me and sometimes you even let me go with you on bike rides to the playground. Getting to sleep in the second bed of your beautiful white bedroom furniture set made me feel like I had gotten a key to a princess tower. When you trusted me enough to let me in on your plots to sneak boys in while Mom and Dad were gone and to sneak yourself out when they were home I guarded your secrets like I was Fort Knox.

Of course, things weren't always great between us. Remember the time you left me in the parking lot at Cub Foods because you didn't wanted to take me with you in the first place but Mom made you? Or how when I tattled on you, you would make me put my hands on the ceiling in the car until all the blood had drained out of them? I understand now how much I must have bugged you then. What 16 year old girl with a brand new license wants to have a 10 year old tagging along?
When high school came along you let me use your old prom dresses and once again, just by association with you, I felt like royalty. When someone asked where I had gotten it I puffed up like a robin and said, "It was my sisters." I even got to wear your old uniform sweater, the one with your name on it. Do you have any idea how cool that made me feel?

This summer when Grandpa died, my most precious moments were with you; when we got to stay overnight together with him at the hospital; when I got sick from hearing the news and you laid on the bathroom floor with me to make sure I was ok; when we escaped from the chaos and hid under a blanket in the middle of the living room laughing because there was nothing else we could do. That week made me realize that I wouldn't know how to navigate life without you.

I can't remember the last time a day went by when we didn't talk. While I have gotten over my desire to dye my hair blond and get blue contacts just to be more like you, I still have the remnants of a little hero worship. The way you carry yourself, always trying to make people happy and finding humor in the littlest things is something to be admired. Just the fact that you manage to cook delicious homemade meals almost every night has me completely in awe. What happened to the days of microwave popcorn and cream soda for dinner?
While I miss you, it feels like we are closer than ever even with half of the USA between us. I can't wait until the next time I visit so we can pop some popcorn, trade cream soda for wine, and stay up talking until we fall asleep like we used to in your princess tower of a room. I'm honored to still be your Fort Knox.

I love you,beautiful Sister! You are my bestest friend in the whole wide world.


G'mornin, frat row

As much as I dislike having dodge broken beer bottles every morning during my walk down frat row, it has its moments.


Perfect logic

A few of the things that made perfect sense (in my head) yesterday.

I just ate my lunch for breakfast. That means I must make pancakes for dinner.

They should give me an office with a door and a window (although the window isn't vital) so I can actualy listen to my music instead of having to bend my head down toward my speakers to hear cause that gives me a crick in my neck and no one likes a crick in their neck.

It is raining and cold and windy and icky. I love it, but I would love it much more if it automatically meant everyone could wear sweatpants to work. Or leggings.

Water in Minneapolis is the taste equivalent of the smell of skunk. Skunk water. Someone should do something to get rid of it.

I would almost rather be forced to eat ketchup than listen to hold music. ALMOST.

USPS package tracking told me the shoes I ordered were delivered to my house at 1:24. There should be a policy at work that makes this reason enough to leave early.

If your soda mug is so big a goldfish could comfortably live in it, you need to downsize.


Polka dot galoshes

Coming out of the restaurant's florescent halo, she stepped onto asphalt as black and slick as a dragon's tongue. Stopping suddenly, she tipped up onto the toes of her polka dot galoshes and waved her arms in circles to catch herself. Settling back on her heels she squinted and looked up and back down the street. "Today went away. The clouds are gone. The sun went down. The light left." Turning her face up to her dad she let her hand disappear into his and said, "Goodbye, today. See you tomorrow."


Published in stone

Alright, last time I'll write about the Everyday Sidwalk project! Here is the link to the pictures from the book release etc.
It was a perfect day, full of sunshine and praise. My parents couldn't have been prouder, I got to meet the other poets, and even the mayor of St. Paul was in attendance. Someone asked me if the experience has made me feel more legitimate as a writer. Without pausing to think I said, "No, not at all." I have been writing for as long as I can remember. In my closets are boxes stuffed full with old writing books, from the Secret Garden locked journal I got in second grade to the smooth, black moleskin notebooks I use now. Writing is how I process, observe, and remember everything, nothing, and the stuff inbetween. I will always write even if another word of mine is never published, so as good as it feels to have my silly little peanut butter poem acknowledged, it doesn't make me feel more like a writer. Writing does.


A little round-up

...of "Things I love right NOW." Amnesty Project This is an initiative by and Cancer Research UK to raise money during October (breast cancer awareness month) to beat cancer. Check out the site, wear pink, support the cause however you can.

Politics seem to be on the minds and lips of many right now which I think is wonderful, however, I grew up in a family where it was impolite to ask people about their political opinions. I still have a hard time articulating my views to others, even though they are very clear in my own head. So, here are a few cool political videos that give absolutely no hint as to which candidate will be getting my vote this fall!

This adorable post about heading off to school for the first time made me smile and say, "Awww...!"

A few songs have been stuck in my head all week so I put them together for you to have a little listen here.

And last but DEFINITELY not least...Ebony Fifi Manolo's new collar. Aint she purdy? (Sidenote: She wanted me to let you know its my fault, not hers, that the side view is hard to see because I was wearing black pants.)


Dreaming in ethics

They say if you start dreaming in a language you're studying that you're getting close to being fluent.
I had a dream entirely in vocabulary from the ethics readings for my non-profit management class. So that means I'm fluent in...?


Goodbye notes

Our CEO and president is retiring and there was a party celebrating him. We were all asked to give him some advice on how he should spend what he calls his new abundance of "discretonary time." I gave him the same advice I keep giving myself: notice everything and take notes.

Now that you have the time to notice things, slow down and take notes about what you see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Notice how fast a child grows. The moment fall leaves first start lining the streets. The way an entire afternoon can disappear when you’re reading a good book. How good a hot cup of coffee smells from your front step as the sun rises. Where your wife likes to sit as she reads the morning paper. What your kids’ voices sound like when they call to wish you a happy birthday. Notice what it feels like to have the time to notice all of these things and more. Wear out your senses with noticing! Breathe in the good times, the laughter, quiet moments, and know that while you will be missed here, we can’t wait to hear about all you notice.
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