The Gift

In my last post I wrote a little bit about this figurine Ville gave me for Christmas back in (I think) 1988. Neither of us had much money in those days, nor were we into expensive gifts. I went to the Camarillo Pic 'n Save and found this piece for $2.89. Given our weird bond with Wolfgang and Nannerl Mozart, this seemed like the perfect gift.

Before Christmas, I went to her house in Oxnard, some 10 miles or so away, to exchange gifts with her. As we stood in her mom's living room, we handed each other our gifts and began opening them. That's when we busted up laughing. We'd gotten each other the same gift.

Her mom, who was standing there, said, "Well, I guess we all know where you two shopped!"

This little $2.89 figurine has only increased in value to me over the past 20 years; I wouldn't trade it for the most expensive gift in the world!


My Christmas Wish List

Throughout the day, Nettl and I have has discussed some of the items on the list I made in my last entry, 101 Gifts for Under $10, and I decided that I'd extract some of the things for my personal wish list. If the rest of my family would like to do the same, please do!

As I look around our home, I realize that most of my prized possessions are little things that cost next-to-nothing, or were handed down. There's the white figurine Ville bought for me at Pic 'n Save for Christmas 20-odd years ago, there's a dancing 18th century couple figurine that Joel got at a second-hand store, and there's the Buddha Micah gave me. There's a pair of hand-painted ceramic heart earrings my step-grandmother made, a silver box, a heart-shaped candle jar, a round, silk embroidered box from China, an wood inlay coaster from Spain, a table scarf from Norway, an old edition of The Lady of the Lake by Walter Scott. Not one of these things cost more than five dollars, and yet, they are the material possessions that I cherish most. So, here is my list:
  1. Christmas tree ornament from Hobby Lobby
  2. Vintage dish, vase, or pair of wine glasses from a thrift store (I LOVE thrift store stuff!)
  3. Old books from the used book store
  4. Picture frames with a meaningful photo
  5. Puzzles
  6. Cozy socks
  7. Coasters
  8. Small figurine from an antique or thrift store (did I mention that I love thrift stores?)
  9. Guitar picks, note pads
  10. Classic oldies CDs
  11. Sealing wax and seal
  12. On-sale gift books
  13. Table scarves
  14. Glass paperweights
  15. Candle holders
  16. Antique miss-matched silverware from a thrift store. Not an entire set, four teaspoons are nice.
Just some ideas! Oh, and I love thrift store stuff and old books...


101 Christmas Gifts under $10

Our family is really excited about our plans for this Christmas: time together playing board and card games, working a jigsaw puzzle, making music and, most importantly, taking the focus off of giving gifts no one can afford. We look at this not only as a way to remember what the holiday is really about, but as our way of making a statement about how empty and materialistic Americans have become. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the stories about Walmart employees who are trampled to death by Black Friday shoppers. Truly, this is the ugly side of American capitalism and I want no part of it. It only proves to me that our decision was a good one to make. This crap has to stop, so here are some suggestions for gifts under $10. Hope it illustrates that showing our loved ones we really care is not about how much money we spend on them, but that we remember them.
  1. Gourmet coffee with a personal coffee cup
  2. A "blank book" and pen
  3. Teacup with a bag of tea samples
  4. Deck of cards and book of card game rules
  5. Homemade cocoa mix in a homey jar (wrap the lid with gingham and tie with a ribbon)
  6. Collage of special photos
  7. Gel pens and stationary
  8. Bottle of sparkling cider
  9. Inexpensive bottle of wine
  10. Home baked bread, include recipe
  11. Basket of deli cheese and fruit
  12. Holiday serving bowl or platter
  13. Christmas tree ornament (paint 2008 on it, something like, 2008 - Friends for 10 years!)
  14. Scented candles
  15. Decorative napkins and napkin rings
  16. Funny bar napkins, swizzle sticks, or shot glasses
  17. Fancy chocolate bars tied with a ribbon
  18. Gardening gloves with a plant, or flower seeds
  19. Hand decorated photo album
  20. Herbal soups tied in lace and ribbon
  21. Makeup tote
  22. Homemade cookie mix with instructions for baking
  23. Special coffee cup filled with candy
  24. Vintage dish, vase, or pair of wine glasses from a favorite thrift store
  25. Vintage costume jewelry from the same thrift store
  26. Gourmet popcorn and flavored oil
  27. Locally made barbecue or steak sauce with basting brush
  28. Pancake or waffle mix and a bottle of real maple syrup
  29. Old book from a used book store. Classics and poetry are especially nice.
  30. Board games
  31. Jar of pure honey with biscuit mix
  32. Note cards
  33. Picture frame with a meaningful photo
  34. Glass jar filled with candy
  35. Muffin mixes with muffin pan
  36. Set of dish towels and dish cloths
  37. Nail polish kit
  38. Pretty night shirt
  39. Basket filled with kitchen gadgets from a dollar store
  40. Video rental gift certificate
  41. Pepper mill and fresh peppercorns
  42. Handwritten copies of your favorite recipes
  43. For the pets, gourmet dog biscuits or cat treats
  44. Small clock or radio
  45. Decorated shoebox for keepsakes
  46. Colorful Post-It notepads
  47. Address book
  48. Puzzles
  49. Sewing supplies
  50. Favorite quote embroidered on a nice handkerchief
  51. Makeup brush set
  52. Cozy socks
  53. Home baked cookies and/or fudge
  54. Sets of special chopsticks
  55. Basket of Christmas cookie cutters
  56. Holiday guest towels
  57. New calendar
  58. Coasters
  59. Incense and holder
  60. Small figurine from an antique store
  61. Aromatherapy essential oils
  62. Emergency cell phone charger
  63. Silly tie for Dad, with the purpose of being silly
  64. Hand cream
  65. Massage oil
  66. Fleece throw
  67. Slippers
  68. For musicians: guitar picks, sheet music, note pads
  69. Something geeky
  70. Tasteful fridge magnets
  71. Sample box of chocolates from a chocolatier
  72. Classic oldies CD
  73. Sealing wax and seal
  74. Pound of roasted cashews
  75. Scarf
  76. Mittens
  77. Sketch book
  78. On-sale gift book
  79. Nature gifts
  80. Bird feeder
  81. Table scarf
  82. House plant
  83. Glass paperweight
  84. Candle holder
  85. Trendy costume jewelry
  86. Decorative padded jewelry box
  87. Bubble bath or bath salts
  88. Small pail of electrical tools and tape
  89. Garage dads always need note pads and shop pencils
  90. Gag gifts
  91. Golf tees
  92. Mustache trimming kit
  93. Travel sewing kit
  94. Money clip
  95. Desktop calendar
  96. A homemade book of "naughty" coupons
  97. A homemade book of coupons for a massage, foot massage, hairbrushing, etc.
  98. Desk supplies
  99. Roll of pretty fabric. Buy remnants and tie with ribbon
  100. Wall decor that's on sale (check places like Hobby Lobby)
  101. Antique miss-matched silverware from a thrift store. Not an entire set, four teaspoons are nice
I know that most of these are traditional Stocking Stuffers, but think about it. Why do we love getting our stocking? Because it's full of small things that were picked out especially for us!

Happy shopping! And remember, there's no need to trample other people in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

Black Friday, But Not What You Think

Joel was ill all day yesterday and couldn't join us at the table for Thanksgiving. This morning he woke up feeling worse, so Nettl drove him to the ER. As soon as he calls, I'll go get him.

This is twice in the space of three months that he's been so sick; not easy for a mom to handle, regardless of a kid's age. You never stop being a parent, do you? My son's autism only exacerbates whatever he comes down with, and I worry...


Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah Palin very nearly ruined my Thanksgiving, but I refused to give her that much power. Have a great one!


Things I've Done - a Meme

I found this meme on Nettl's blog and it looked like fun. No tagging, just italicize or bold the things you've done.

1. Started your own blog (duh)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (I spent New Year's Eve 1994 on a party cruise boat in New York City. Does that count?)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (I bought a restaurant meal to give to a homeless veteran on my way home from work)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day
101. Seen more than 5 movies in one day
102. Spent a night in jail
103. Ridden a unicycle
104. Slept on the floor
105. Passed out drunk
106. Cheated a railway company
107. Lied about my age
108. Been South of the Equator
109. Been baptized
110. Been to Japan

Let the Holidays Begin!

We almost have everyone home for Thanksgiving. Lauren came in yesterday afternoon, but Nathan won't be here. Our friend Dr. Scott will be joining us, which is great because we've been inviting him for years. Now, if only our checks would get here so that we can buy the food! It's kind of crazy-making, wondering where mine is, has it been sent, will it get here in time...

Yesterday's bout with a flu bug had me in bed, but I still put in 11 hours for a client. Don't ever think that working at home as your own boss is easy, or that it means fewer hours. There's no calling in sick, and no one to pick up the slack if you're unable to carry your own weight. Billable hours are hours out of your day. But not to complain, I'm thankful to be working at something that I really enjoy. Hell, I'm thankful to be working at all, especially right now when so many people are out of work and will be sitting down to a Thanksgiving table in their homes from which they'll be expelled as soon as the holidays are over. (Isn't it nice of Fannie Mae to give these people a temporary stay of execution... pfeh!)

Anyway, we're doing an old-fashioned Thanksgiving, the kind we remember from our childhoods. No fancy recipes by Tyler Florence, just the standard, memory-inducing fare. I miss the family of my youth for some reason this year, but I keep reminding myself that we've created the family of our children's youth, and that's pretty darned cool. It's just hard to settle in on the fact that Nettl and I are "the folks" now. In my family, "the folks" were my grandparents.

I'm amazed! You know how every Christmas I gripe about the commercials about buying diamonds? I haven't seen one of those this year. In fact, the Buy! Buy! Buy! ads are conspicuous by their absence, and it's really nice. Maybe this season of tightening the belt is what our country needs to get us back to what the holidays are really about. I have seen a couple of commercials with the ridiculous message to buy someone a car, or two. Yeah, right. Not even giving that a second's breath this year.

I'm feeling much better today! Hell, I feel good enough to put in 16 hours!


Why I Love Ventura #1: Street Murals

This is a doorway in Figueroa Street that leads to a humble parking lot behind Main. This entire side of the street is covered by a mural that depicts the history of the city.

In the area that was torn down when the 101 freeway went in, an o-l-d area known as Tortilla Flats, other murals have been painted that include a portrait of Jerry Garcia. During the 1980s, the Grateful Dead were yearly visitors, giving weekend-long concerts at the fairgrounds. These concerts, and the people they drew, gave Ventura a certain bohemian quality that survives today.

See more pictures of Ventura's murals here...


Africa, You Rascal!

Ever since I saw Disney's Third Man on the Mountain at the Saturday afternoon matinee when I was eight years old, I've been fascinated by the Matterhorn. But you know what's really cool? the top "pyramid" is actually a piece of Africa! The mountain was formed by the African and European plates stacking up together, Africa being on top. I know. I'm turning more and more into a real nerd.


It Takes Time

I can be such a dough-head, and it's always the little things that reveal this side of my personality. Here I sit late at night, web surfing, futzing around online, and drinking wine. I yawn, and I yawn out loud. Not loudly, but just out loud. Then it occurs to me that I CAN yawn out loud. I mean, other people I've been with were like the bitchy lady in that "ListenUp" commercial (watch the ad here). The poor guy is sitting in bed enjoying a TV show and his wife snaps, "Would you turn that down, please!?"

Yeah, I've lived with her.

How can it take me nearly 10 years to realize that not only am I'm loved and that I can be me, but that I CAN be me? That I can freakin' yawn out loud? I think that if Nettl wanted to change me she would have started a long time ago.

When I think about it, that wasn't a yawn, it was just me exhaling.

Aiming For the Stars

It's my father's DNA that gave me my wanderlust, music, absolute pitch, humor, love of solitude, interest in space, curiosity about the paranormal, and my capacity and need for gemülichkeit.

He taught me so much when I was a kid. He was an inventor and he had me building my first crystal radio when I was 9 years old for a science project at school. Always patient, slow, and easy-going, he was fun to learn from, and I swear he knew absolutely everything...


The Armchair Circumnavigator: Île Amsterdam

Somewhere in me beats the heart of an adventurer. I love circumnavigating the planet using Google Earth. During these explorations I've discovered new (to me) territories, towns, islands, and distant shores. Another part of me is a hermit -- I'd love to visit some of these places for six months or so and just write about them. I mean, what kind of people live thousands of miles away from everywhere else?

Take my newest discovery, Île Amsterdam, a French island in the southern Indian Ocean between Africa and Australia. Make sure to click on the pictures to take full advantage.

Here's the geographical stuff:

The island is volcanic but it has been inactive since 1792. It has an area of 970 square miles, measuring 13 miles on its longest side, and reaching as high as 2,844 feet at the Mont de la Dives. It's part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, and together with neighboring Île Saint-Paul (53 miles to the South) forms one of the five districts of the territory. Its only inhabited base, Martin-de-Viviès, formerly called La Roche Gódon, is the capital of the territory.

Île Amsterdam has a mild, oceanic climate, with an average annual temperature of 55°F, rainfall of 43", persistent westerly winds and high humidity. It is home to the Amsterdam Albatross, which breeds only on the Plateau des Tourbières on the island, and other rare creatures, such as the Great Skua, the Antarctic Tern, the Gentoo penguin, the Subantarctic Fur Seal and the Elephant seal. The only existing herd of completely wild cattle also lives on the island.

The island was discovered by the Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano in 1522 during his first world circumnavigation. He failed to name it, however, which strikes me as kind of strange. A little more than a hundred years later, in 1633, a Dutch captain named Anthonie van Diemen named it Nieuw Amsterdam (Dutch for New Amsterdam) after his ship, also kind of strange.

Even later, in 1792, French captain François Péron was marooned for three years on the island having survived a shipwreck. I wonder what happened to his crew, and if he was there during the last volcanic eruption. He was rescued and taken to Australia in 1795. Peron's Memoires, in which he describes his survival alone on the island, were published in a limited edition and are now an expensive collectors' item. Wish I could read them! In 1924, the islands of Île Amsterdam and Île Saint-Paul were attached to Madagascar and became a French colony.

The first French base was built in 1949, and was originally called Camp Heurtin. The Global Atmosphere Watch still has a meteorological research station there. There are no permanent residents, but from what I have been able to find out, researchers go there for a year at a time to work, and must pass strident psychological tests to be hired.

Ships bring small groups of visitors, as well as supplies, every two months because the only access is by sea. There are a few amenities which make their existence tolerable: a gym, a running track, bicycles, and the occasional game of pétanque, a form of boules. Photography is a popular pastime, and taking long walks across the island has its rewards, particularly when encountering the indigenous wildlife. For reasons of personal safety, no one is permitted to wander off alone or without a VHF radio beyond the limits of the base, as the volcanic terrain can be hazardous. Summer tours range from €4,800 to €6,200. Yikes!

One visitor wrote that the island is really beautiful, and that the cottages are colorful with flowerbeds.

I could look at this for six months, maybe. As long as I had internet access and they have drinkables... Come on. They're French. You know they bring wine!

For other nomadic souls: 37°49'33"S, 77°33'17"E

More info...

I think I'll make this a "regular" feature. It was a lot of fun!

Yellow Wind

I've been paying more attention to this little tree since it began to change colors. It sits just outside the bay windows in which our kitchen table sits. The wind is particularly fierce today, and I like the way it makes the leaves flutter.


Ex Libris

Willow posted a great little book meme this morning that I just have to snag (she said we could... really!) Please feel free to pick up on it if you feel so inclined. It's really pretty simple. Just select 4 books:

1. Fiction
2. Autobiography
3. Non-fiction
4. A fourth book of your choice from any genre

Explain why the books are essential reads in no more than 30 words per book (this part might not be so easy). So here are mine...


Taking the Day Off

While I cannot (indeed, do not want to) take a day off from being a parent, partner, and provider, I've decided that today I'm taking a day off from the following:

Worrying, caring what people think, being the chores cop, knowing it all, playing Gandhi, putting out fires, answering my phone, handling details, multi-tasking, working it out, holding it in, sucking it up, planning ahead, solving problems, being a cheerleader, saying the right thing, being diplomatic, being Super-Everything, putting everyone else first, trying to be a saint, making the bed, remembering past failures, mentally and emotionally flogging myself, and worrying about other people's problems.

Today, I'm staying in my pajamas and taking a rest from all that. If I've learned anything at all in my life, it's that these things will always be waiting there until the next day. Sod it!


Depression is Depressing

Man, oh man, are all of my old man's tales of the Great Depression coming around to haunt me! The only consolation is that everyone else is in the same boat, but is that something to be thankful for?

I know why it's called a "depression". You work your ass off and there's nothing there to show for it; the money is swallowed up before it even gets a chance to draw its first breath, and juggling basic expenses is becoming a rare art form. One is not allowed a simple sense of accomplishment when the paycheck is deposited in the bank, because it's already spent...


Saturday Story Time: I Was a Lady of the Canyon, Reincarnated

The only reason I'm re-posting this entry from last August in an new incarnation is because I just finished readin a great book, Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Legendary Neighborhood, by Michael Walker. Not only has it filled in a few gaps, it has brought some memories to the surface that I thought were long forgotten. Also, I've gotten some new readers who might find this tale interesting. Hope so, anyway. It was an interesting time, not only in my life and not only in LA, but in rock history.

Instead of putting up the earlier post and then my updates as an addendum, I'll work the new points in to make a cohesive whole. Sorry, some of you will have to read it again to get the new stuff. I promise I won't do it again. I don't like repeating myself that much...


Top 10 Best Literary Insults

Sometimes my brain and my creativity go on vacation (especially when I've worked 18 hours of a 24-hour period of time), and regardless of how much I claim the Blogging Without Obligation creed, I still put myself through a certain amount of angst in the morning when I click onto my blog to see yesterday's post glaring at me. I refuse to write a post about not having something to write about, so today you get a great list that I found at Alternative Reel some time ago. It's a cop out, but that's what you get today, at least until I've had a pot of coffee.


This is the Future

I was just checking my Facebook account and found some pictures from a Halloween party that our Lauren attended. Lauren is at Oklahoma University, in the "reddest state" in the country. I came across this picture and once again, for the umpteenth time this week, I was moved to tears. This is the future, folks. As we grow older and our time here ends, we leave the world to these young people with the bright and excited faces. People to whom race already means little. Again, I'm filled with hope.

Scarborough Fair

To be sung to the tune of "Ring Around the Rosy":

Scarborough dropped the F-Bomb! Scarborough dropped the F-Bomb!

I'm busting up. Just remember, when Olbermann, Maddow, Stewart and Colbert are making their jokes, you heard about it here first.

After profuse apologies, Joe said, "I'm not worrying about losing my job, I'm worried about going home to my wife."

(Hope you heard it too, Earl.)

No More Qs!

Have you noticed that Blogger's captchas have started to resemble real words lately? Over the weekend I got some that read, "sesses", "tribil", "laterst", "unitng", and "parries", as well as a lot of others, and not one of them sported a "Q" or the usual mind-pretzeling crap. As someone with dyslexia, I'm really, really grateful. Thanks, Blogger!


Happy Birthday!

Today is the birthday of the younger of my two sons, Micah. I couldn't be prouder of him. He's a brilliant mind, a phenomenal composer and guitarist, and a steadfast, deeply spiritual, generous, and compassionate man who has a wicked sense of humor that has never failed to delight me.

He's had a tough year, with the death of both his grandfather and his father, but still, he found the courage and passion to compose, record, produce, and market his CD, Temple of Unmanifest Dreams. He constantly amazes me with his creativity, and dedication to his art...


A Saturday Meme

Willow was tagged with a meme last week that I snagged, thinking it would be an easy Saturday write. From what I gather, all I have to do is write something about myself in regard to certain subjects. Because tagging you guys has become a tricky thing, feel free to snag this yourself, if you feel so inclined...


Election Night: Pictures From Our House

Nettl checks the web for updates while Micah mugs in the background

"O for Obama!"

Obama wins!
Micah pops a cork while Nettl weeps

Micah, Nettl & Heather

Yours Truly steps in

Listening to Obama's speech

Me & my Stooge pants

Not as stirring as those taken in Chicago,
but we had a wonderful time!

Photo not taken: All of us dancing to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered". Damn. No one there to take the pic!


This Says it All

Congratulations Mr. President. Congratulations America!

His face shines with triumphant light, with faith and dreams and pride,
His heart beats with a fervent hope for all he feels inside.
He says that we are better than fear and hate and spite,
As he holds out hope for all of us to conquer might with right.

And he's going back to Birmingham to reclaim what he's lost,
He never minds the danger and he never counts the cost;
He carries on the torch of hope, although the flame's been tossed,
Yes, he's going back to Birmingham, the road already crossed.

Her son has never known the hate upon dark hearts ingrained,
She would not have him learn that now after all that she has gained;
A daughter of the storm's recess, her hope now swells unchained,
As she teaches him to fully live the freedom that's remained.

And she's going back to Birmingham to reclaim what she's lost,
She never minds the danger and she never counts the cost;
And she still dares to have the hope upon her heart embossed,
Yes, she's going back to Birmingham, the road already crossed.

Our voices rise in one accord, "Equality for all!"
We will not trip or stumble, we will not shun the call;
Marching on the Freedom Trail with hope that will not pall,
Believing that the path we forge will lead to peace for all.

And we're going back to Birmingham to reclaim what we've lost,
We'll never mind the danger and we'll never count the cost;
And we still dare to dream the dream whose flame will not be tossed,
Yes we're going back to Birmingham, the road already crossed.

Going Back to Birmingham © 2008 S.K. Waller

Comic Relief

Amid all the election hoopla, here are some pictures to make you smile.



Outside of about 12 hours dedicated (in increments) to a client's site, all I did was laugh this weekend. After almost 10 years together, Nettl and I still bust each other up over stupid things. This weekend was a laughing one; we even woke up in the middle of the night and laughed. We never get Trick-or-Treaters, so it was a quiet night, apart from the laughing.

On Friday night, we watched The Shining. Funny, it was so scary when it came out in 1980. Now, all I noticed was the bad acting, Shelly Duvall's incongruous Texas accent (she's supposed to be from Vermont), and the terrible dialogue...


Let Me Talk to You

Please note that I'm not writing this entry as I write, but as I speak. You're going to have to deal.

Although I tell you guys everything here on my blog, or pretty nearly everything, I've never shared with you what I'm about to. Blame it on the merlot, or the optimism I feel, or that I've finally passed through the end of a personal year and I've now begun my own New Year. (I was born under the sign of Libra and we've recently passed into Scorpio.)...


Clocking In & Out

I never quite know what to do with myself on Saturdays. As a web designer I really love my work, and it's hard for me to put my clients' sites on the back burner when the weekend arrives. Because Nettl's home, I feel more motivated to work and less inclined to futz around on the internet.

One of the first rules of owning your own business is to create work time and off time and never the twain shall meet, but because my work is of a creative nature I have a hard time thinking of it as work. One of the pluses is that I can create a work week that suits me. I've pretty much established mine as Tuesday through Saturday. Still, because I spent over 25 years in the Cubicle Jungle, I still can't establish strict working hours. As a result, I tend to put in 12+ hour days.

I work on the system of billable hours and keep a detailed and honest time sheet for each of my clients. On it I record the date, hours to-and-from, and a detailed description of the work I do. That way, there are no surprises and everything is transparent. I work, I get paid. I don't work, I don't get paid, rounded up or down to the nearest half-hour.

Today, I'm watching The West Wing on Bravo while working on a photo gallery for a client. But first, I need some lunch, then I'll clock in.