Saturday, October 11, 2008
Hi Tealeaf! Chicago is a big change from LA. If you are going to live or work downtown, you will be doing a lot more walking in a wider variety of weather. Protecting your shoes is a necessity.
I'm a little skeptical of leather shoes that say they are waterproof - it just seems odd to me. However, if they are, fantastic, but giving them a little extra help would still be a good idea. Protecting any shoes - leather, suede or fabric - will make them last longer and keep your feet dryer.
For my leather boots - the more rugged ones that help me hike through snow and the fancy knee-high variety - I use Penguin Himalaya Wax. I don't remember where I found it, but the brand isn't really important. It uses bees wax and silicone to keep leather supple and form a protective barrier to keep out snow and, most importantly, salt. Salt will ruin your shoes. It will break down the leather and then, when the snow melts and gets the shoes wet, you'll end up with a white, salty outline of where the shoes were wet. Not cute. Once you use a spray like this, you can just use a rag to wipe off any dirt or debris that your shoes collect.
Only use wax-based products on smooth leather. They will ruin suede or fabric. Also, it is a good idea to apply the spray outside, if possible, as it can get kind of fume-y. If you can't do it outside, spread some newspaper on the floor, and cover a good, wide area. This spray is obviously not good for carpets, and it will make hardwood floors super-slick. If your shoes look a little dull once the spray dries, just give them a quick buff with a soft, clean cloth.
For suede, you have to find a spray that says it is for leather and fabric shoes - for some reason, a lot of them don't specify that it is safe for suede. However, the ones that are NOT ok will say, in big, bold letters "NOT SAFE FOR SUEDE AND NUBUCK." I really liked the stuff that Aerosoles sells, and I've also used Kiwi Protect-all. Again, you spray it on, let it dry, and then when you run into salt or other dirt, you can just wipe it off when you get home.
Protect your shoes around now, before winter really gets going, and try to keep them clean. You want to keep an eye out to see if the spray is starting to wear off, but I usually just apply it in the fall. If it is a long winter, you might need to go again, depending on how often you wear your shoes. At the end of the season, really wipe them down to make sure there is no dirt hanging around. Stuff tall boots with newspaper to help them keep their shape while in storage. Next fall, start over again, reapply the protecting spray. You can easily extend the life of your shoes by protecting them at the start of the winter.
I hope this helps. Welcome to Chicago!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Lottery (and Other Stories), Shirley Jackson
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
White Teeth, Zadie Smith
The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion (Didion is an amazing writer. Before her, I never read non-fiction. Her prose is beautiful)
Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys (Read this in college, shortly after reading Jane Eyre. Our whole class was in love with Rochester, and did not want to hear Bertha's slander of him. All the same, this is a truly lovely book)
The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
Beloved, Toni Morrison (I actually think I've read this, but I'm not sure).
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Like Life, Lorrie Moore
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (Probably one of my all-time favorites. I have read it many times, and it still brings me to tears. Also one of the few successful film adaptions - the BBC/Colin Firth version, obviously)
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
The Delta of Venus, Anais Nin
A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories), Flannery O'Connor
The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston (Awesome. If you haven't read this, read it before any other on this list. Except Pride and Prejudice)
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
Earthly Paradise, Colette
Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt
Property, Valerie Martin
Middlemarch, George Eliot
Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid
The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir (I was a philosophy major in college. I read most of this, but not, technically, all of it. I was so pissed to find Borders had categorized this as Wellness>Women's Studies, and not with the other philosophy books. They still categorize it this way and, while I sort of get it, I also hate it)
Runaway, Alice Munro
The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
You Must Remember This, Joyce Carol Oates
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
The Liars' Club, Mary Karr
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith
And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (I love mysteries of any sort)
Bastard out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley
The Portable Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker (I wish I was as witty as Parker. She is my literary hero)
The Group, Mary McCarthy (McCarthy is under-appreciated)
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (Surprisingly, this book has one of the most accurate descriptions of the feelings of loss after a loved one dies that I have ever read)
Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag
In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
Three Junes, Julia Glass
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
Sophie's Choice, William Styron
Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (I read this in sixth grade, and can still remember finishing it, under the covers, around 3am, because I couldn't put it down. I had heard that line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." my whole life, and never would have thought it could possibly be as devastating as it was to actually read it)
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
The Face of War, Martha Gellhorn
My Antonia, Willa Cather
Love In The Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Harsh Voice, Rebecca West
Spending, Mary Gordon
The Lover, Marguerite Duras
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Tell Me a Riddle, Tillie Olsen
Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
Three Lives, Gertrude Stein
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
Possession, A.S. Byatt
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I have been using a phone that I got in 2003. I had briefly switched to a Razr that a friend unlocked for me, but it stopped getting software updates and was getting buggy. I switched back and am generally happy with the old phone, but the call quality is not as good as I would like it to be and I am eligible for an upgrade, so I started looking for new phones.
I finally found one I liked and went to order it online. That's when I discovered that T-Mobile has instituted an $18 upgrade fee. This is not new news, but it was new to me. T-Mobile support says that the fee is for shipping and handling, which they advertise as free, but that first link indicated that it is really to offset the cost of subsidized phones for new customers.
I like to get myself all worked up over things like this. I am a firm believer that customer service is more important than saving a few bucks. I have no idea if T-Mobile is the best carrier, has the best network, or the cheapest prices. They did have very reasonable prices when I signed up, but that was in 2001 and might not be true anymore. I stayed with them because of their customer service. Now, I'm annoyed. Here's my complaint:
I have been a loyal T-Mobile customer since 2001. In 2005, I convinced my husband to switch to T-Mobile. I have stayed with T-Mobile, and recommended you to others, because of your customer service.We'll see if I hear anything from them, but I doubt it.
I haven't upgraded my phone in at least two years, and was surprised when I went to checkout and saw the $18 upgrade fee.
Your website says the fee is for the administrative costs of an upgrade - shipping and handling. But choosing the express shipping, which is not “free,” doesn’t eliminate the charge. Shipping UPS ground from Albuquerque, NM to Des Plaines, IL (where I live) is $10.03. Since I'm ordering online, and not on the phone with a person whose salary you have to pay, it is clear this is not a handling charge.
After some searching, I see that the fee was established in November, 2007, and is generally assumed to offset the cost of subsidized phones for new customers. This is poor business planning on your part. I am willing to sign up for a new, two-year contract to get a new phone. My contract costs should cover the cost of the phone over time and, given my history of staying with one phone for much longer than my contract time and rarely using even half of my plan minutes, I think you are getting a pretty good deal with me as a customer. I pay my bills on time, use less of your services than I pay for, and rarely ask for new phones.
Since my contract has expired, there is no reason for me not to look for another carrier, where I won't have to pay an extra fee for a new phone. This fee shows disrespect for your customer and erases all of the goodwill my previous experiences have created. It is easy to charge the same fees your competitors are charging, but, by joining them, you’ve eliminated what distinguished T-Mobile from the others in the first place. I hope someone over there comes to their senses and eliminates this fee. Until then, I’ll stick with my old phone and start shopping around for another network.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
This morning, Barbra showed an excerpt from her interview with Carla Bruni, wife of the president of France. She mentioned that she had asked Bruni about being called an adulterer. Bruni said that she was never married, therefore, she was not an adulterer.
The ladies of The View seemed to have a different opinion. I would expect Elizabeth to blame the "other woman," but I was surprised that Joy Behar agreed with her. Thankfully, Whoopi Goldberg provided some rational input, which I agree with.
When you get married, you make a commitment to your partner. You promise many things, including - for most people, but not all - fidelity. It is your responsibility to uphold your word. You made a promise. The world did not promise to leave you alone because you now belong to someone else.
I'm sure if my husband cheated on me, I would not be a big fan of whoever he was cheating with. That's human nature, to dislike the person your partner has chosen to fool around with. However, the blame for that relationship, and the blame for failing to uphold our vows would fall squarely on his shoulders. She didn't promise to respect our marriage. He did.
I think this almost instinctual hatred for the other woman comes from our culture's patriarchal tendencies. Though we give a lot of lip service to be equals, men are still given free reign when it comes to certain things. One of those things is sex. Men want it, they need it, they can't control themselves. Women, sure they might enjoy it, but really it is something we are supposed to put up with to keep our husband happy and provide babies. A woman who likes sex because it is fun is going against the grain. There must be something wrong with her. That's why the other woman is so easy to hate: she is clearly a sexual deviant, wantonly using her evil, feminine wiles to seduce your poor, befuddled husband who, after all, can't help himself. He's just a man, for crying out loud.
I think this is also why there is such an irrational fear of pornography in our culture. Porn has to subjugate and abuse women, because there is no way those women want to be in porn. They must have been forced to do it. If they think they like it, it is only because they were abused as children and have a broken sense of what is good for them. Porn is demeaning to women, because only men like it. Because women don't like sex. Women who want sex, who want that kind of base, animal pleasure have something wrong with them. Women are saints, set on earth to be mothers. Men are base and animalistic.
It's stupid, and it hurts men as much as it does women. It teaches men that it is ok to want these things, to have these urges, and it is ok to act on them. But it also teaches them that if they find a woman who wants to do those things with him, there is something wrong with her.
Ok, my brain is about to explode. I'm going to go back to The View now.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
This has to be begging for a lawsuit. Wednesday, May 21st, Baskin Robins is celebrating "Bump Day" with a free 3oz soft-serve cone for expectant mothers with this coupon. Their site says it is for expectant mothers only.
Are they going to question any woman who tries to claim it without a readily-apparent "bump"?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
2. I have planted a ton of seeds this year. My miscalculation was that a) I might remember where I planted them, b) that I might remember what I planted and c) that I have the patience to wait for seeds to grow. Now I just want to go buy more flowers and plant them because waiting for seeds BLOWS.
3. This American Life is on-demand with WOW cable. Season 1 stops being available today. :(
4. WOW's DVR sucks ass. Way worse than Dish Network's. But I hated Dish Networks DVR so much, that it almost makes the craptastic WOW one ok. Like, if I can't have Tivo, I REALLY can't have it.
5. Our old Tivo died this weekend. :( RIP Barry. (I named my Tivo Barry. I don't know why. Possibly because we got the Tivo not long after we got Hank and Barry was one of the names I considered for Hank).
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
I am going to a black-tie gala on Friday. I didn't realize it was black tie until yesterday. I bought this dress from Macy's. I got really lucky. It was like 65% off plus yesterday was the last day of a friends and family event where any customer in the store qualified as friend & family and I got an extra 20% off.
It's not quite so neon, more of a kelly green, really.
My problem is shoes. And a purse. I was thinking I would wear the hot hot hot and so comfortable white patent leather pumps that I wore at my wedding. But, I also just ordered these from Zappos.com. I also have a white patent faux-leather clutch.
Here are the big questions:
1. Is white shoes with a white purse just too much?
2. Is a white patent clutch just no good to begin with? I love it, but sometimes, I am a little tacky.
3. It is supposed to rain on Friday. I have a black trench, but I know that, if it is raining, I will be cold. Is it ok to wear a bronz-ish wrap? It's a fake pashmina, but it isn't super-fancy. Sometimes I wear it with jeans. It is a for-serious black-tie deal - Mr is renting a tux. I don't want to look out of place.
4. What the heck do I do about accessories? Necklace? Earrings? Arg!
Dear readers, if you are out there, please help me. I'm a fashion moron when it comes to myself.ps - the shoes may be a moot point. I ordered from Zappos, but they've stopped advertising and guaranteeing free overnight shipping. They claim that most customers will still get it overnight, but they only promise 4-5 business days. This will be the topic of another post, soon.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Virtually every course had at least a section on women in that field, if not a specifically feminist bent (of course, this is probably less true for science, math, or business majors but as and English and Philosophy major, a LOT of my classes focused heavily on women writers and feminist works).
I'm very proud of my school and proud that I went there. After my wedding, I sent in my update about what alumnae were in and at the wedding. Last week, I got an email from someone at the Alumnae Relations office, saying that they had gotten a notice that I had married Jason, but their records said Mr. I corrected her.
Yesterday, I got a lovely little card from them congratulating us.
It was addressed to Mr & Mrs Husband Newlastname.
So, all that feminist education, all the messages that we are the leaders of tomorrow? You are still reduced to Mrs. Husband.
This seems off to me. It is really bothering me. I know that is the traditional way to do things, but we were taught that traditions are to be respected when they make sense, not just because they are traditions. Is it so hard to write Mr & Mrs Husband & Wife Newlastname?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I have decided not to actually spend money on the trashy novels I love and to clear out some of my shelves. So, I'm selling some of the books I've read and don't plan to read again, or have never gotten around to reading and using the proceeds to buy books I want to read.
I'm especially craving the Sew Everything Workshop, which looks awesome.
Special deal for my blog readers: if there is more than one book you want, and one of the books you want is priced under $1, I will give you the cheaper one free. Just buy one book for more than a dollar (or two books for less) and email me the one you want that is under a dollar, and I'll take that one out of inventory: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Next came Gene:
Who knew the second try would turn out so well? I got hooked. The following is my little monkey brood, all together for possibly the last time.
From left to right, in order of creation: Harry, Gene (gift for a friend having a baby), siblings Martha and Eddie (gift for a friend having twins), [Not pictured: Hanes, made from boy-sized socks. He's a white and silver sweatsock monkey, and mid-sized. Hanes was almost immediately adopted by the lovely wife of a friend of mine who saw Gene and felt a deep need for a monkey of her own) and the newest edition, little Pete.
Pete is pretty much the cutest thing ever. I stole - I mean, was inspired by an etsy shop of monkeys, which I didn't bookmark. I will find it and link to it. Anyway, I saw some monkeys on etsy with little felt half-moons for the eye area and the idea stuck with me. I would have kept to buttons except that Gene's adoptive family took me up on my offer to replace his button eyes with embroidered ones. Since I've never embroidered anything before, I decided to test it out on little Petey here. Pete was also a test to see if I could successfully handle baby socks.
Pete is, quite possibly, the most successful test of anything, ever, and I think I will keep him for myself for all time. He's got my first all-embroidered face, which I think turned out rather well. He's also got my first attempt at some new limb-attachment techniques, which I learned from a book I just got called Stupid Sock Creatures.
I haven't made any Stupid Creatures yet, but I plan on it soon. I'll be sure to keep you posted.
And, in case you're wondering, Gene's cosmetic surgery went off rather well. The button eyes give much more personality than my limited embroidery skills, so I had to add eyebrows to Gene. Please don't say anything about his scar, he's very sensitive about it.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Then, I decided to wash a blanket. The machine stopped right before the spin cycle. I went down and saw my blanket sitting in a lot of water, and soapy. I tried just starting the machine over again, and the same thing happened. So I tried it again.
Because I'm brilliant.
I figured I had broken the machine because our addition was finished, and the bathroom was finished, and we were thinking about maybe, someday, having some spare cash to buy a couch, so it would make sense that now I would do something stupid and break the machine and cost us basically another grand.
Because being a home owner has taught me to be an optimist.
Thankfully, I was wrong. The rigging for the lid switch had broken. This is what had been making my washing machine work:
A lid switch basically functions like this: There is a little tab on the washer lid that fits into a hole on the machine. When you close the lid, the tab hits a lever, which closes the circuit to the wiring in the machine, that tells it that it is ok to spin.
Of course, I did not know that it was a lid switch problem, or what a lid switch was, until I did some searching on the internet. The internet told me that it would cost about $15 to replace the part and that I (yes! Me!) could fix it myself. Getting a guy out to replace the $15 part would cost about $100 plus parts plus labor. That's more plus than I'm looking for, so I found directions for taking the washing machine apart and got to work fixing it my damn self.
First, obviously, I had to get a new lid switch. Thankfully, Sears Service Centers are conveniently located near you (or my husband's office). They had one lid switch for our model washing machine. It's more like $25, but still ok with me. Of course, Mr kept forgetting to go pick it up, so it was a week later (and now a desperate laundry situation) that I finally went my damn self.
Naturally, being a week later, they do not have the part. But lo! A new Sears has opened a mere two minutes from my house (as opposed to the 30 it took to drive to the first one) and it seems they have it in stock. I drove over there, and, naturally, they do not have it in stock. A snotty saleswoman informs me that they just recently moved to that location, so their inventory is "all messed up." She offers to order it for me, but I won't get it for three years. I decline, and order it myself at home, because Sears will feel my wrath and lose my $25 sale.
However, now we need clothes. I can't even just buy new ones because I prefer to wash my clothes before I wear them. So I soldier on, determined to fix it temporarily until I get the part.
First step: pry off the side caps. They look like they're permanent, and it feels like you're breaking your washing machine, but you aren't. Just get a screw driver (preferably a flat head) and wedge it under one of the corners of the end caps and pop it off.
Take off both end caps and unscrew the screws that they were hiding. Then, you just have to flip that control panel part up. Only it isn't just an easy flip. The next picture is a bit fuzzy. It is also on its side. The left-hand side is actually the top. See the little white thingy poking out of the black metal part? That is basically a hinge. Once you pop the end caps off, you have to work the whole control panel up until the white thingies on both sides move up that groove and into the top part, where they will have room to move.
Then it will just flip up:
Pretty cool, right?
Ok, next, you pop out those gold doo-dads, which connect the cover to the back and base. Again, just use the screw driver to pry them out. This takes a little bit of muscle, but isn't as nerve-wracking because those gold doo-dads clearly work on tension, so you don't have to worry about breaking them. They tend to really pop out though, so make sure you don't lose them when they go flying.
(Look how gross it gets under the console. Who knew?) The next part is a little scary, but also fun. If you go up to the picture with the control panel flipped back, you'll see a bundle of wires leading to a clear-ish white tab heading into the cover. You have to disconnect them by taking the screw driver again and prying the tab on the big tab up.
Then, you walk the cover off of your washing machine. Once the cover is no longer secured to the back, washing machines are really, really flimsy. In reality, a washing machine is a big barrel with a thin metal box around it. Without some reinforcements, they wiggle a lot.
To replace the lid switch, you have to basically get inside the washing machine cover.
In the next picture, you can see the switch. It's the gray plastic thingy. See the little white plastic post? That is supposed to be pushing down a little lever, which broke off, which is when the previous owners used a zip tie to hold down the broken tab, which eventually broke off.
It is connected by the screw on the right-hand side, which is also grounding the wires. Everything else is in clips that you can just pull out. It's surprisingly simple. If your machine is broken, I highly recommend the site I linked to above - they have pretty good instructions. Plus, it never occurred to me to take a picture of the new switch. Oops. Anyway, since I didn't have a new switch when I did the first fix, this is how I solved the problem:
Electrical tape is good, because it is stretchy, so you can really get a tight fit. Sadly, this worked for only a short time, but long enough to get a few loads of laundry done and carry us through until the replacement switch arrived.
Check it out:
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The guy in the banner is my first-ever sock monkey. I had a bunch of extra fabric from hemming some drapes, and I wanted to find a pattern to make a bear or something for a friend's baby shower. Instead of a bear pattern, I found a sock monkey pattern. The banner monkey was my test run and the much-improved second monkey was given to my friend. I'll add pictures soon.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
So, Mr sent me a link to some shoes on Zappos.com. I found their description rather odd:
- Make an alternative fashion choice in the Chukka-Kan.
- Leather upper.
- Lace-up, half boot style.
- Stitch detailing on the front and around the midsole.
- Rubber sole. Placed here due to endless situation.
Check out that last point again. Any idea what that might mean? It seems like someone in the description-writing cave was feeling a little blue that day. For what endless situation might a rubber sole come in handy?
Sunday, January 13, 2008
It is so good. Every single performance. And so sweet. Everyone should have a Bleeker. I can't possibly do it justice here. Just go see it.
Unless you are struggling with infertility. Then, maybe don't see it. Jennifer Garner is so good as a woman just desperate to be a mother. I could hardly stand it and I only know others who have been there. I can't imagine sitting through that and holding it together if I was there myself.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The center dress is the style, the left-hand one was the body of the dress and the right-hand one was the trim. There was a more flattering style that I was going to choose, but it was over $300 and that seemed a bit excessive.
Sometimes, I sort of wish I had that kind of elaborate "dream" or "vision" of what my wedding would be, just so that I could see how far my friends would go for me. Then, I think about my friends. One of the things I love about them is that almost all of them would take me aside and calmly tell me that I'm delusional if I thought they would put on a hoop skirt for me. Some of them might even slap me if they felt it was called for. They're feisty bitches, and I love them.