Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blog Hop: Collections

This is my first blog hop! I came from Bebeh Blog, run by the fabulously creative Suzanne.

I can't help but participate in this particular blog hop--it's about collections, and we all know that I have one weirdly obsessive collection: Snoopy memorabilia. I had to share.

My Snoopy obsession started before I was born, really. My brother loved the little paperback comic books and owned a ton of them. When I was small, I wanted to do everything Aaron did, so if he was watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas," well then, so was I. Some of my collection is stuff that belonged to Aaron and/or me way back then. The rest of it is stuff I've found in antique stores, on eBay, or that has been gifted to me.

My tastes have definitely changed and I no longer buy something just because it's got the Peanuts characters on it. I stick mostly to antique toys and items that are special or hard to find. It's been a while since I've added to my collection, and in fact, I've started thinning it out a bit over the last couple of years, selling things that aren't particularly meaningful (please, people, do NOT give me another Whitman's sampler with a plush Snoopy on it!).

I found the Life magazine on eBay, and the table decoration at an antique store.
The poster is from the Snoopy Gallery and Gift Shop in Santa Rosa, California. The air freshener was found in Paris. The two taper holders come from England, and Mom bought me the cookie jar one Christmas. The rainbow bank (found on eBay) is one of my favorite pieces.

Another favorite piece--Snoopy's World War I Flying Ace is my favorite of his many persona's.
Mom found this awesome Joe Cool phone. It used to dance when I pressed a button, but it broke in one of my many moves. : (  The bank was an eBay find.
Two large plush dolls sitting on the antique school desk that my mom gave me, between the paper shredder, the cat boxes, and my rubber stamp collection (most of those have been sold off, too).

A large chunk of my collection sits on these low bookcases or hangs on the wall.
I found this at Target a few years ago. It's perfect for carrying music, so it's my official Chorale bag. Inside are some Snoopy pencils for marking my music, my fancy-schmancy choral music folder, and a big bottle of water.
A close-up of one of the bookcase tops. There's a ton of Avon bottles from the 60s, found at antique stores and on eBay.
Yes, on the very top, that's a Snoopy Snow Cone Machine! OF COURSE I have a Snoopy Snow Cone Machine! There's also some antique jars and glasses. On the next shelf down are my McDonald's Camp Snoopy Glasses. Those are from my childhood--Aaron and I collected them. Behind them you'll see four small cardboard cutouts of scenes from the glasses--those were an amazing eBay find--they were sent to the various McDonald's stores to use in the display case for the glasses, and this set are unused. Below all that are some more modern things--I got the astronaut Snoopy at Hallmark, and kept him on my kitchen counter for a whole week last year when Stockton's own Jose Hernandez was on a Discovery Mission for NASA.
Most of these books go back to my childhood--the TV special books and the 'Cyclopedia set. The collectibles book is great for figuring out what my collection is worth.

My Flying Ace collection.
I would estimate that my Christmas tree is probably 90% Peanuts ornaments. Mom made the tree skirt for me a few years ago.
The teapot was a WONDERFUL eBay find--it's by Lennox. The plate is from 1981 (found in an antique shop). The scraggly Charlie Brown Christmas tree was found last year at Target--I HAD to have it.
Various plushies from Hallmark.
This is a set of toys that I found at Target.
I bought this with the teapot pictured above--a Lennox plate.
I found these at Sears last year and had to have them. Living in an apartment, it's hard to have an outside display for worry of things getting stolen. These have stakes for putting in the ground, but I found I could tape them to the inside of the window to prevent them getting stolen or ruined.
Most of these mugs were Aaron's. He graciously let me have them. (P.S. Have you noticed that my tiny second bedroom houses not only this massive collection but a piano, two litter boxes, a craft table, four bookcases, an antique desk, a DVD rack, a floor lamp, and drawers of stamping/scrapbooking stuff? No? Well, take my word for it.)
A close-up of the red shelf. Some of my favorite items are my Snoopy For President things--I wore that button (badge to my English readers) on Election Day 2008. I drove my kids crazy all day telling them I voted for Snoopy.

The best piece. I am not entirely sure this is actually Snoopy. All I know is that I've had him as long as I can remember, and my Grandma Bean used to always pretend he could talk to her. I've never packed him away, and he sits on my nightstand to this day. He went to England with me--in my carry-on, not my checked baggage--and while I don't cuddle with him, he is a great comfort. His nose and mouth are gone, he's a dirty brown-gray color, and I adore him.

Okay, so this is my first blog hop! I hope you enjoyed my collection.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Books Week, Book 5

Title: The Kite RunnerAuthor: Khaled Hosseini
Synopsis: A boy grows up in Kabul, Afghanistan, before the Soviet invasion of the late 1970s. The story has two parts--his life as a boy in Kabul, and his life as a man in the United States. The story centers around his friendship with the son of a family employee, betrayal, and redemption.
Challenges: In 2008, The Kite Runner made the American Library Association's top ten list for challenges that year. Parents who challenged the book complained of sexual content (a young boy is raped by older boys) and offensive language.
My Thoughts: The Kite Runner is an amazing piece of literature. It's not exactly for the faint-of-heart, but the overall story is of friendship, righting past wrongs, and coming to terms with the atrocities that occured in the main character's home country of Afghanistan. It's also an excellent look at the modern history of Afghanistan, and how Kabul went from being a somewhat cosmopolitan city to the warzone that it is today.

I wouldn't give this book to a freshman English class, but I see no reason that students with maturity can't read it on their own. It shouldn't be banned from a library outright (and one wonders if it's not banned simply out of Islamophobia in some cases).

If you haven't read this incredible book, do. Then watch the equally incredible movie and feel your mind open.

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday pictures are brought to you from my "Best Pictures" folder. If you're curious about the who/what/where of a picture, please comment!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Happiness is...

--Another great Chorale rehearsal--fast-paced, challenging, enlightening, and most importantly, fun.

--Seeing Paul and Lois, an older couple from the group in the parking lot. He was holding the car door for her. They are one of the sweetest couples I've ever seen.

--Listening to Keane in the car on the way home.

--Finding a parking spot near my apartment at this time at night (a rarity).

--Seeing a little ginger dude in the window as I walk up to the apartment.

--Having a cup of hot peppermint tea before bedtime.

--Being able to wear my hair in a ponytail at the nape of my neck and drape it over one shoulder (my hair is longer than it's been in years).

--Feeling amazing after two days in a row of intense workouts (even though I didn't sleep well last night and have allergies).

--Being told by two different people tonight that I "look great."

--Showing off pictures of The Peanuts Gang to my fellow crazy cat ladies in Chorale.

--Finding that a friend liked my cards on Etsy so much that she bought a bunch of them. : )

--Giving away my Christmas gift idea for Mom because she wanted to pay for my cards on Etsy...I had to tell her that my plan was to make her some for Christmas!

--FINALLY having a post-weight-loss bra that FITS, and is COMFORTABLE. And it has rearrangeable straps, so I can cross them in the back and the straps don't slide off my shoulders. I swear, no matter how tight I pull bra straps, they slide off my round little shoulders. Not anymore. Woohoo!

--Annie's Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies.

--Listening to the Annie Lennox and Indigo Girls tunes my friend Maayan sent me.

 --Re-reading the Harry Potter series (nearing the end of book 5, will finish tomorrow, if not tonight).

--The prospect of spending time making more cards tomorrow.

Banned Books Week: An Article

A friend posted this link on Facebook this morning, and I had to share it.
Mark Twain is oft-credited with saying, "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it." German poet Heinrich Heine more seriously addressed the matter in an 1821 play, warning, "Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people."
The article gives some examples of events that are happening all over the nation this week, including a bookstore in Yuma County, Arizona, where a mock jail cell has been set up and volunteers are serving thirty-minute sentences reading books that have been challenged and/or banned.

My little pink blog doesn't reach a lot of people, but I'm enjoying the feedback I'm getting in the comments on my Banned Books posts. More tomorrow, Thursday and Friday!

Banned Books Week, Book 4

Title: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Author: Maya Angelou
Synopsis: An autobiographical account of Maya Angelou's childhood and teenaged years. There are detailed passages about the rape she suffered as a child, her teenage pregnancy, and the harsh realities of her life as she and her brother shuttled back and forth between her mother and grandmother.
Challenges: Citizens For Literary Standards in Schools have this to say about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:
The crude language includes many references and comparisons to urine, pee, farting, and defecation, as well as general profanity and racial slurs such as Goddammit, shit, bitch, ass, titties, niggers, jigs, spooks, whore, hell, dykes, bulldaggers, pecker, peckerwood, and "give me some trim". Sometimes the words are used as part of the actual conversation of the characters, but often, the words are used as Maya's personal choice of descriptive writing. "...the plump brown face had been deflated and patted flat like a cow's ordurous dropping" or "the cotton truck spilled the pickers out and roared out of the yard with a sound like a giant's fart." or "I cried and hollered, passed gas and urine." or "I decided I wouldn't pee on her if her heart was on fire." (Source)
My Thoughts: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiographical work of the early years of a woman who has, since then, become the first African-American female cable car conductor in San Francisco, a successful writer, activist, poet, actress and many other things. She is truly a remarkable woman who has lived a remarkable life.

And she started from nothing. Her account of her childhood is as gritty and difficult to read as her childhood itself must have been.

I read this book in my senior year of high school. Would I recommend it to anyone under age sixteen? Probably not. It's got mature themes and mature language. But I wouldn't outright try to ban it from a school library or reading program. The overall theme of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is about overcoming adversity to become remarkable. To make a difference in the world. Frankly, I think kids these days need to read this kind of book.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I've been meaning to set up a shop on Etsy for ages, and even signed up an account months ago. Today, I finally started listing some cards I've made recently. They're not super-fancy, but I'm quite proud of them and hope to make a few bucks from them. My friend Maayan has invited me to New York, New York in the spring to visit (free place to stay!) and I want to raise money and get a cheap plane ticket if I can. We'll see what happens financially (and with employment). Between eBay and Etsy, I'd like to make some extra cash to put in savings.

Anyway, check out Meg's Fancies at Etsy. Take a look! Tell your friends!

Monday Music: Aerosmith

In the 90s, I "discovered" Aerosmith through a series of awesome videos they put out ("Crazy," "Amazing," "Cryin'") and decided it was just hard enough rock that I could handle it.

I've loved "Jaded" for ages, but had almost forgotten it until it came up on my iPod in the car a few weeks ago. I immediately started doing the "Ch-Aahhhhhh" part with Steven Tyler, and I remembered, "Damn, I love this song!"

The video's pretty awesome, too.

Banned Books Week, Book 3

Title: Fallen Angels

Author: Walter Dean Myers
Synopsis: Richie Perry, a young man from Harlem, enlists in the Army and is sent to Vietnam. The book follows his time there, his relationships with his fellow soldiers, and the grim reality that was the ground war in Vietnma.
Challenges: A group of parents in Fayetteville, Arkansas have listed Fallen Angels as a book they want banned from high school libraries, along with 34 other novels, because the "books below include vile, vulgar, obscene, graphic, explicit passage on sex, oral sex, anal sex, sadomasochism, multiple partners, three-way sex, gang rape, orgies, group sex, homosexual sex, lesbian sex, psychopathic sexual murders and pedophilia in a titillating manner" (Source).  The group calls itself Parents Protecting the Minds of Children.My Thoughts: My first exposure to Fallen Angels was at the Folsom Public Library. I was twelve years old, and I checked it out because it was about Vietnam. My dad served in the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict, so I found the subject matter interesting, and I recall thinking that Dad would be impressed that I was reading this book.

I remember showing it to my social studies teacher, Mrs. Paxton, thinking she'd be impressed that I was reading such a thought-provoking book. She made a comment about how it was a very mature book--intended for high school students, but she didn't seem to judge me for reading it, and probably figured I was mature enough to handle it. I probably even discussed it with my dad, because over the years, we've talked a lot about military history.

My point here is that I read this book, in its entirety, violence, f-words, n-words and all, at the tender age of twelve, and it did not scar me for life. My mind did not need protecting from this book. I understood that it was a portrait of a certain time in American history, told through the eyes of a young African-American man from Harlem. I knew that army guys facing a bloody war in a faraway country weren't going to speak "cleanly," and I knew that I was going to read gory parts. I didn't read this for titillation--I read it for knowledge, out of interest in U.S. History (an interest I still have, today), and I processed the book quite easily.

Would I recommend this book to other 12- and 13-year-olds? Only if they're emotionally mature enough. I was, other kids might have been, some weren't. But banning it entirely is outrageous, because above all else, the book is beautifully written, painfully honest, humorous, thought-provoking, and eye-opening. After that library copy was due back, I bought my own paperback copy of Fallen Angels--I still have it, twenty years later, along with the sequel, in which Richie Perry's nephew joins the army and goes to Iraq.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Full Circle

My kitten fostering experience has come full circle. On Friday, Charlie Brown and Snoopy were delivered to their forever home--together!!

According to Marian, they were adopted by a family with two kids, who are about 8 and 10. The kids cuddled with the kittens at PetCo last Thursday and apparently both Snoopy and Charlie Brown were purring and cuddling right back. It's a good match, a good home, and I'm glad this little pair went together.

So that's it. Linus and Sally are in their homes. Lucy is still at the foster home, waiting for her new mom to be ready to take her, but she is well taken care of and promised to someone. Charlie Brown and Snoopy will be loved by their new family.

My heart is full, and happy tears are in my eyes. Letting go of "my Peanuts" was hard, but seeing them get their happy endings is the best possible outcome. In July, four unwanted kittens were unceremoniously dumped at PetCo. Now, just as summer ends and fall begins, they all have homes. They will be loved.

And life goes on here, in their first true home. At the end of the week, Bella and Duchess will come for a three-week visit, while Mom and Dad go on a fabulous Asian cruise (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam...). Four cats, one human, 750 square feet. Bring on the madness.

Banned Books Week, Book 2

Title: The Harry Potter Series
Author: J.K. Rowling
Synopsis: The seven-book series follows the adventures of Harry Potter, and orphaned boy who finds out on his eleventh birthday that he is a wizard. Soon after, he leaves for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where, over the course of the next seven years, he makes friends, learns how to harness his magical powers, and fights against the growing threat of the darkest wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort.
Challenges: According to the Education World web site, the most frequent challenges to the Harry Potter series come from parents concerned with a child's ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. In particular, Christian groups have protested the series' focus on magic, automatically assuming that these books must have an anti-God bias.

Opponents of the Harry Potter series believe that anything that mentions a witch or a magic spell is equated with evil, West said. "They don't see it as fantasy," he said. "They see it as real. A small group of Americans can't accept fantasy that way. They really do care [about the book's impact], so they go against others' legal rights." (Source: Education World)

My Thoughts: I've mentioned in recent posts that I'm currently re-reading this series of books. It's at least the fourth, maybe fifth time I've read through them, and every time, I can't imagine how anyone could think these books are dangerous for children.

For one thing, it's silly to argue that children can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Children everywhere have very active imaginations--just look to their imaginary friends, the stories they make up while playing, and the way they treat special toys as though they are real babies, real puppies, real anything.

It reeks of laziness and ignorance to ban a fantasy series because you worry that your children will believe it's real. Children are savvy; they get it. And reading this series with them, rather than banning it outright and making it seem even more desirable as a result, gives the parent and opportunity to actually talk to their children about their beliefs, about imagination versus reality.

I suppose I'm assuming that all parents actually talk to their children openly and honestly.

Aside from underestimating the imagination and intelligence of the next generation, all of this Muggle ranting against "witchcraft" is missing one very big point: the Harry Potter series carries throughout a strong theme of good versus evil (guess which one wins?). Under that, themes like friendship, courage, and standing up for what is right, come in a close second. I can't find anything dangerous in that.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gut Feelings

I am not a "car person." I'm not mechanical. It has nothing to do with being a woman and everything to do with being a good-with-words, creative, musical, not-at-all-interested-in-how-stuff-works person. We all have our strengths, and understanding all the cables and components of my car's engine is just not one of mine.

That said, I am pretty good at knowing how to take care of my car. I've never changed it's oil, but I keep track of when it needs to be done and make sure to take it to the dealership every 3,000 miles or so. I can detect wear on my tires, I know how to check the oil level, and I "know" my car.

So in July, after a routine oil change, Rosie Pro was...different. I couldn't explain it, but she had a strange noise and she wasn't as responsive. The difference was noticeable to me--I've been driving this car for seven years, and while I couldn't find the intake hose if you hit me over the head with it, I can tell you how that car is supposed to go. Instead of zoom-zoom-zooming, my intrepid little Mazda was doing more of a grrr-grrr-grrr.

She also seemed the tiniest bit reluctant to accellerate. Okay, this car is no racecar--it has a four-cylinder engine (even I know that means "zero to sixty in 10 minutes") but she has pep. Normally when I ask her to go, she goes, and since July, well, she seemed a little tired.

I just had this gut feeling that something wasn't the same. And I've learned in life that you're supposed to go with your gut--only I didn't. Because she still drove, she still got me from point A to point B. And I drive less these days--I sometimes go two, even three days without driving because I walk to the gym, and I can walk to the grocery store if I'm not buying a lot of stuff.

Last Friday, as previously blogged, the battery started to fail. This wasn't cause for great concern, as the car has been running on the same battery since I rolled her off the lot in March 2003. Batteries die. So in addition to a previously scheduled oil change, we asked the kind people of Autowest Mazda to throw another battery in.

It turns out that the corrosion on the battery had leaked down into the wire harness. This wasn't something that needed to be fixed, as Heather, the absolutely marvelous lady who walked me through all of this (Dad and I have worked with her many times, and we trust her judgement completely) told me...but if not replaced, it would cause problems again at a later date. The best option for Rosie Pro was to get a new wire harness.

Of course, a wire harness is not a cheap replacement--it's a special order part, and it wraps around the engine compartment, making the installation a slightly more difficult process that changing out the battery. The bottom line, however, is that I need a reliable and safe vehicle.

There was other stuff going on--in the oil change, the service guy found that my intake hose was cracking. If it split open completely, my "check engine" light would come on, and it would cause bigger problems for the car. So it was decided that it was in my best interest to get a new intake hose (a cheaper and easier fix than the wire harness).

Finally, since August, the front passenger side door lock hasn't been working. During Friday's oil change, I had them diagnose that, and it turned out to be a broken actuator on the lock. It wasn't a critical fix--I simply had to manually lock that door and it made a really embarassing buzzing sound whenever I locked or unlocked my car. As Dad was helping me foot the repair bill (Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Pick A Good Rest Home For Us!), he said, "Eh, just get the lock fixed, too."

So I spent most of this week in Lincoln, waiting for Heather to call and let me know the wire harness was in so we could get Rosie into the shop. Dad and I took her there Thursday evening and first thing Friday morning, they got to work.

Of course, they found another issue--a loose ball bearing in the axel (after this, my ability to comprehend anything Heather told me was pretty foggy). Huge problem? Not right now. Car drivable? For now. Immediate danger to me? No...but it will need to be fixed eventually.

Dad said, "Just have them fix it."

We picked Rosie up at 5:00 yesterday. The dealership had washed her and I admit, I was rather happy to see her. It may be silly that I refer to my car as "she," "her," "Rosie," but honestly, this car represents freedom and independence to me. I live in an area with pitiful public transportation. Rosie is my trusty steed. I'm genuinely fond of this car.

As I pulled out of the dealership, I noticed something--Rosie was back to normal. The grr-grr-grr was gone, replace by that lovely Mazda "hummmm." The real test was out on the main road, when the speed limit got to 45. Rosie got her zoom-zoom back! It was an absolute joy to drive her home, and feeling--that gut feeling--that she was back to normal.

Anyway, the moral of this long ole post is to trust that gut instinct. I should have known that something was wrong, and I should have driven straight back to the dealership after that July oil change and asked them to see if something was wrong. I didn't--and honestly, I doubt it was anything that happened during that appointment that made Rosie lose her zoom-zoom. She's seven, she's nearing 90,000 miles, and things wear out.

Next time my gut tells me she's under the weather, I won't ignore it.

P.S. Mazda's Zoom-Zoom theme song has to be the best car commerical jingle ever. The commercial linked here is for the Tribute--my parents have one and it's a fabulous small SUV. I'm opposed to SUVs in general, but I make an exception for the Tribute (and would love to have a Tribute Hybrid someday, if Mazda never makes a hybrid sedan).

Banned Books Week, Book 1

Title: To Kill A Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Synopsis: Six-year-old Jean-Louise "Scout" Finch lives in Maycomb, Alabama with her father, Atticus, and her older brother, Jem. In the course of the story, Scout watches through her childish eyes the events that unfold in Maycomb--the trial of a black man, Tom Robinson, who has been accused (falsely, we learn) of raping a white woman. While the trial (Atticus Finch is Tom Robinson's defense attorney) is a main point in the story, also central to the plot is the mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley. Throughout the novel, Scout's perception of right and wrong, good and evil, and fairness in the world grow and change.
Challenges: The American Library Association has a long list of challenges that To Kill A Mockingbird has faced since its original publication. The most frequent objections brought up are the racist elements of the story--use of the word "nigger," the portrayal of the dividing lines between white people and black people in 1930s Alabama. The book was "removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, LA (1995) because the book's language and content were objectionable" (ALA List). This is just one of many examples, but it stood out because the book was removed entirely from a high school library.
My Thoughts: To Kill A Mockingbird is an eyes-wide-open look at racism and class divides in 1930s. It is not a pretty part of our history, racism. But it exists and I, for one, believe that in order to prevent intolerance and racially-motivated crimes, we must learn from what happened in the past.

Reading To Kill A Mockingbird is never an easy experience for me--the ultimate fate of Tom Robinson isn't a happy ending. But Scout's experiences, witnessing the trial, her father's humane treatment of others, and the community's reaction to the crimes committed against an innocent man, show part of the progression in thoughts and ideas that allowed the later civil rights movement of the 1960s to have the success it did.

I first read this book in high school. I have to agree that it might not be suitable for middle school and junior high, except, of course, for students who are intellectually and emotionally ready. I'd be wary of making it required reading for those age groups. But high school is a different story, and I don't see any reason American students shouldn't be exposed to this snapshot of American history.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Books Week

Tomorrow is the first day of Banned Books Week.

With the recent discussions about burning the Quran in protest on 9/11, this years Banned Books Week feels especially important.

I am a firm believer in our right as a free society to have access to information. While I find the action of burning the American flag to be deplorable, I recognize it as a form of free speech that must be protected--however, burning books, or banning them from a public library, is horrifying, because to me, it is deliberately withholding the power of knowledge and free-thinking from the people who use those libraries.

The American Library Association (ALA) " actively advocates in defense of the rights of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment.  A publicly supported library provides free and equal access to information for all people of that community.  We enjoy this basic right in our democratic society.  It is a core value of the library profession" (ALA Website--Intellectual Freedom). In this world, where hate and fear spread like wildfire through our endless sources of media, it is more important than ever that all citizens have access to information, to knowledge, and to opportunities to open their minds further to the world.

When I was teaching high school, our librarian promoted Banned Books Week heavily every year. Teachers (myself, included) wore large "bibs" with pictures of banned/challenged books around our necks to open up the conversation with our students. Most of my kids didn't pay much attention, but I like to think that somewhere, deep in their teenaged brains, something resonated.

In honor of this year's Banned Books Week, I will be featuring a book each day that has been banned and/or challenged (sticking, of course, to books I've actually read). I will start tomorrow with a novel that is one of my favorite books of all time. Stay tuned, and please, join in the discussion, whether here, in the comments section, or on your own forum.

Fan Girl Moment

I just got re-Tweeted by Richard of Keane. Again.

There's a whole post in what I think of the execution of Teresa Lewis, but right now, I just want to bask in the lovelies.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


It's been a slow week, as far as blogging goes. I haven't felt particularly inspired to post. The Monday Music and Wordless Wednesday posts were scheduled weeks ago. It's been a funny week--I've been at Mom and Dad's, mostly, waiting on the wire harness to arrive at the Mazda dealership so that I could get Rosie fixed up. I dropped her off tonight and will pick her up sometime tomorrow.

Aside from Tuesday night in Stockton (I have no desire to miss Chorale rehearsals--our new conductor is fabulous and the Mozart is so much fun to sing), I've been here in Lincoln, hanging out.

Today I had a little shopping spree at Kohl's. Mom and Dad bought a bunch of stuff there recently and were given $80 worth of "Kohl's Cash." Their friends gave them another $10 Kohl's Cash to give to me, so I had $90 to spend, and a serious need for fall/winter clothing. Since losing 60 pounds, I've gotten rid of a lot of clothes, so my closet has been set for summer with plenty of tank tops and t-shirts and ONE cardigan.

So today I bought a few sweaters and long-sleeved shirts, a couple of new bras (another ongoing need as the weight comes off and the chest and back tighten up), and one pair of ADORABLE high-heeled Mary Jane shoes.

In OMG EXCITING! news, I managed to find an inexpensive ticket to a concert in San Francisco next month. Two guys from Keane, Tim and Jesse, have a little side project going on right now, called Mt. Desolation. They're touring the US with the oh-so-excellent Mumford and Sons. A friend in Keane obsession, Annie, is flying out from New York to see them--she works for an airline, lucky thing--and she's never really seen San Francisco. So I'm going to show her around and then go to the concert with her. It should be great fun and I'm looking forward to showing off that lovely city, meeting a new friend, and seeing a great show. A trifecta of awesomeness!

In other great news, we suddenly find ourselves in Fall. God, I love Fall. I love the chilly evenings, sleeping with my window cracked open and the covers pulled up to my chin.

Now, if I could get my butt back to running longer distances (I have a hard time sticking to program at Mom and Dad's house because there are so many hills here--running uphill sucks), I'd be set.

Mom and Dad are going on a three-week trip to Asia (big ole cruise from China to Japan to Korea to Vietnam to...) next week, so I'll be babysitting Bella and Duchess. Four cats, 750 square feet. Crazy Cat Lady. Yes, there will be pictures, and you can count on the girls to write whiny blog posts to Mom from time to time. They're not seasoned travellers like Millie and Harley, but they're sweet and they do pretty well at my place.

And that's it. I've been watching back episodes of Grey's Anatomy in anticipation of tonight's season premiere, and making cards this week. I find I actually enjoy the quiet.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Adventures In France

Lisa of HubbleSpacePaws asked in the comments on today's Wordless Wednesday post if I'd share my story of being in France in the next post.

I've been a lazy blogger lately (Monday Music and Wordless Wednesday are all pre-posted weeks in advance), and I figured the easy way to share those adventures was to post the link to a previous blog post--over five years ago!!--about my trip to Paris and Normandy.

So, here you go, Lisa! It was a fun trip, taken while I was teaching in England for a year (the adventure that started this whole blog).

Meg's French Adventure

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday pictures are brought to you from my "Best Pictures" folder. If you're curious about the who/what/where of a picture, please comment!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Music: ABBA

The hair! The clothes! The bad teeth, the cheesy camera angles, the middle-school talent-show choreography!

I love ABBA. They're so excellent in their cheesiness.

Here's Mamma Mia! for your Monday enjoyment.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And Then There Were Two

Lucy is still in her foster home, waiting for the lady who has spoken for her to be ready to take her home. Sally and Linus, I'm happy to report, were both adopted yesterday (into separate homes). So now we've got Snoopy and Charlie Brown left at PetCo, waiting to find their love matches (dare I hope that one home takes both?).

I got to PetCo this morning to clean cages and found Linus and Sally gone. I thought that if this happened I'd be sad, but I wasn't. A big grin broke out on my face, because that's two sweet little cats who have found their forever homes. Now, if we can get my rambunctious little boys into homes soon, my happiness will be complete. My first foster experience will truly come to a close and I'll know that my sweet Peanuts are finally home where they belong.

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy (and Sally, too!) can I ever forget them?

A New Band to Adore

Don't worry, Keane are still #1. Numero Uno. The Big Cheese(s?).

But I've recently discovered the delightful British group Mumford and Sons. They have a country/bluegrass/folk sound and they are really, really good. My favorite song so far is this one:

Hey, any band that can make the banjo sexy is alright by me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable Pet Week

Lisa at The Adventures of Space Paws posted this morning about Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable Pet Week. It starts tomorrow, and intends to bring awareness to the injured, ill, abused and "less than perfect" perfect pets that need homes.

As I type this, three feet to my right, my healthy, never-abused, has-all-his-limbs ginger terror, Harley, is looking out the window, "chirping" at the birds. He and Millie have never known abuse or mistreatment. Millie's had some problems with illness (pancreatitis) but otherwise, I have two healthy, awesome felines. Every day brings new rewards with every cuddle, purr and meow.

The "less than perfect" cats can bring this joy, too. If you are considering adoption, won't you consider taking in a special needs cat or dog? Often, they are the ones with the most love, the most gratitude. They require extra work, and extra patience, but the rewards are endless.

If nothing else, promote this on Twitter, Facebook, your blogs. There are too many unwanted animals out there. Let's start finding solutions!

Friday, September 17, 2010


I'm at Mom and Dad's for the weekend. They're hosting this month's wine tasting party (yes, they're in a wine tasting group!) and Mom invited me. Because I was coming home, and my car was due a service, Dad offered to call the Mazda dealership for me and make an appointment. I said, "Sure." I'm all for keeping Rosie Pro safe and drivable.

Rosie is a 2003 Protege. I bought her new in March 2003, and together we've racked up a little over 85,000 miles. She's a good car, my trusty steed, and I like her. She's not flashy, she's not trendy. Much like me, she's simply cute and reliable.

And this morning, she had a hard time starting.

I was sitting in my parking lot of my apartment complex, with Millie and Harley loaded into their carriers in the back seat. I was dripping sweat after getting both of them out from under the bed and loading the car up. It was warm today, and I couldn't get the car to start so I could blast the air conditioning in my face.

I called Dad. He had me try a little trick (close the door, lock it, unlock it, try again). Rosie came to life. Thank goodness!

I stopped TWICE after this--once to check my mail, and once at 7-11 for a Slurpee (sometimes, you just need a blue raspberry Slurpee) and both times, Rosie started back up like, well, the Pro she is.

I was a little concerned while driving to Lincoln--after all, Rosie has always, always been very reliable. I've never felt like she might let me down, and I was worried, today, that she might not make it. But she did, and when it was time for Mom and I to leave to take her to the dealership, I hopped in thinking she'd start again.

She didn't.

We checked the battery, and sure enough, the corrosion was intense. We got her jump-started, and I made the 15-minute, white-knuckle ride to Roseville, terrified that Rosie might give out. But trusty steed that she is, she made it all the way to the dealership.

At this point, I knew I'd need a new battery, and that was fine.

Then, a few hours later, the call came in from Mazda. It wasn't great news.

The corrosion from the battery has traveled into the wire harness. The wire harness wraps around the whole engine compartment. It's impossible to adequately clean it out. While the car is drivable right now, the wire harness must be replaced or I'll continue to have battery issues.

Parts and labor? You can only imagine, because the dealership doesn't keep wire harnesses in stock.

And then there's the intake hose. It's cracking. Should it break completely, it will cause big-time engine issues. There's more cost.

Ay carrumba.

Oh, and my passenger side front door lock has been strange lately. The actuator on the loch mechanism is broken (this is a seven-year-old car, stuff will start to crumble). It's more cosmetic than anything else, but since Dad is helping me with the expense of this, he said, "Let's get it fixed, too."

I looked at him and said, "How will I ever pay you back for this?" He smirked and said, "I'll think of something..." But I know that for him, the most important thing is that I have a safe car, one that won't leave me stranded on the side of Interstate 5 or 80, or, God forbid, in downtown Stockton after a Chorale rehearsal.

So we fix Rosie Pro, because it's worth it, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying another car, or the repairs that would be necessary if we don't fix this stuff now.

My trusty steed will ride again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Falling For Fall

I've decided that this year, I'm going to enjoy all of the fall and winter holidays. With this in mind, I lovingly packed my London Shrine into a box, where it will stay until the new year. Then I got busy putting out my fall and Halloween stuff.

Between the 98-cent store, Target and Michael's, I've bought a few teensy, key pieces to add to Halloween stuff I already had (endless Snoopy stuff). Here's the result:

The witch hat is from the 98-cent store. The little witch with strings hanging down (far right) is from Michael's.
I got some inexpensive frames at Target--I'll switch out pics based on the holiday. This is from a Chico Halloween in 1999.
Michael's (everything was on big-time sale).
The glass dish and the eyeballs are from the 98-cent store. I won't eat the eyes (they're chocolate) because they're a nasty chocolate, and they're from the 98-cent store, which means they could be dodgy. But they look great with the potions bottles (from Michael's).
Some pics from my childhood. : )
The black roses were a buck each at Target. The little figurines I've had for ages.
I've had the "Boo!" for a while now. The little clip-on owl is from Michael's. The pic is of me in 1997 (at Chico, of course--all my Slut-o-ween costumess were at Chico).

The inevitible Snoopy stuff.
This is a little round table on the other side of the TV from the baker's rack that everything else is on. Mom and I made the little Snoopy "placemat." I found the haybales at my local grocery store last year.

I have a few more things to put out as I find the time and inspiration. After Halloween, the month of November will be devoted to just fall stuff. The day after Thanksgiving, game over. It's all about Christmas, then. : )  Once again, Santa and Charles Schulz will vomit all over my apartment.


Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

From "Hair"
Lyrics: James Rado and Gerome Ragni
Music: Galt MacDermot

For the great majority of my life, my hair has been on the longer end of the spectrum. Even when I "chopped it off" in junior high, it was a chin-length bob--no shorter. Since growing that back out, it's gone from just-brushing-my-shoulders to its current length, almost halfway down my back.

I like my hair long--not because it's some standard of feminine beauty, but because I like how it feels long. I like ponytails (and these days, wearing it in a bun). I like having it combed or brushed. Sure, long hair can be a pain, but I like it this way.

Imagine the stress I've been feeling in the last few months, every time I shower, as I see huge amounts of strands coming out whenever I wash and condition it.

I wash my hair pretty much daily--I know it's not necessarily recommended but I have pretty high oil production, I use good conditioner, and I work out almost daily, so it gets sweaty and gross enough that going without washing feels nasty. And I know that everyone loses something like 100 strands of hair a day as part of the natrual growth cycle. But in the last couple of months, it felt like I was losing more than that.

My recent stomach upset issues got me thinking and doing a little research. Several sites that come up on Google when you type in "Why am I losing my hair?!" reassured me of a few key things, so instead of blind panic and never washing my hair ever again--I mean EVER--I'm going to make a few key adjustments. Here's where I think my "hair loss" (I can't even call it that, really, as I have no big patches of missing hair and my part is still its usual width) is coming from:

1. My normal hair-growth cycle.

As I mentioned, I don't have any patches of missing hair and my part is normal, so I am definitely not losing too much hair (this was such a relief to read). One article even said that autumn is a natural time for hair to start shedding in earnest, and while it's been happening in late summer it's 1) been sort of fall-like, weather-wise, and 2) close enough for jazz, right?

Also, I have a theory that when I was dying my hair blonde, it was harder to see the hairs stuck to the wall of the shower.

2. My body no longer thinks it's pregnant.

I was on the Pill for a long time and I've recently gone off, as I lost my health insurance when I lost my job. I read on multiple sites yesterday that this can cause the body to shed a little extra hair for a few months after going off the pill--the hormonal shock, etc. It's the same thing that causes women to "lose their hair" after having a baby. Pregnancy hormones mess up the natural hair growth and shedding cycle, which is why pregnant women report having thicker, more lustrous hair.

Since my body sorta-kinda thought it was pregnant while I was taking the Pill (hence the whole no-ovulation thing that prevents pregnancy and controls hormones), it makes sense that now I've been off the Pill for a few months, it would react like it would if I'd just had a baby.

3. Not enough iron and/or some other vitamin deficiency.

I haven't been eating a lot of meat, choosing, instead, to get my protein from a supplemental powder I use in my morning smoothies and skim dairy products. This is not working for me. I need to eat more lean meats (chicken, turkey) and beans, as I think I might have a slight iron deficiency. I also bought more multi-vitamins recently so that I can get back into that crucial habit.

But apparently iron deficiency can cause hair loss.

4. Stress


I've been handling my stress soooo very well this year--let's face it, I've been downright Zen compared to Megan-a-few-years-ago. But the bottom line is, I lost my job, I've had a lot of uncertainty, the stress of job interviews and possible moves. Even with regular working out and mostly healthy eating, there is anxiety and stress.

I've learned to channel it very well into healthy activities--feeling stressed? Go for a walk instead of eating. Scrapbook. Watch a funny movie instead of crying. Get to the gym. But still, stress will take it's toll.

Not to mention stressing about my hair falling out.

5. Other stuff...

I don't heat-style my hair a lot these days--too lazy to blow-dry, but that can be a cause. However, I do wear my hair in a ponytail when I work out, and I've been twisting it into a bun a lot these days--on hot days, I don't want it flowing down my back, and a bun looks so cute. So that could be part of my problem, and as we go into cooler weather, I'll wear my hair down a lot more.

After reading all of this yesterday (here, here and here were the sites that gave me best info),  I feel a lot better and realize that as long as I'm not seeing great clumps of hair fall out (knock on wood!), this is normal and okay. I'll continue to take care of my hair and condition it every time I wash.

October 2008, right after getting it trimmed and highlighted.
This is what happens when I use curlers.
Going back to my roots, April 2010 (it's lightened a bit since then).
Ponytail (May 2010).
Bob--8th grade
When in Rome...I had several inches of length chopped off by a guy who spoke maybe seven words of English, and layers put it. EEK!!
The most recent pic of my hair--long, brown, ruler-straight and baby-fine.

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday pictures are brought to you from my "Best Pictures" folder. If you're curious about the who/what/where of a picture, please comment!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Music: Gary Jules and Michael Andrews

This is an interesting little song I discovered over the summer. Perhaps a bit depressing, but very fun to harmonize along with.

Anyway, it's called "Mad World."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Clothes

I looked in my closet a few weeks ago and realized I had three pairs of jeans (size 8, woohoo!; size 10 for when the 8s are dirty and size 12 for cleaning house, etc.), a pair of cropped khaki cargo pants, and a ton of t-shirts and tank tops.

It's been a casual summer.

We're going into fall soon (weather willing) and I will soon be doing some volunteer tutoring at a local school, so I figured a few fall pieces were in order. I had some money saved up and I went to Kohl's--home of cute clothes, good prices, and awesome sales.  I did pretty well, and it was so much fun trying stuff on because lo and behold, clothes fit!

Two pairs of pants, size 10! Woohoo!

Cute sweater and a t-shirt.

I love cardigans...

Mom bought this for me over Labor Day weekend. So. Cute.


I also bought a swimsuit at Sports Authority. My only suit isn't really great for swimming laps at the gym--it has a halter top, it's too big, and my bosoms hang out of it. So I got a nifty Speedo that actually supports where it should and has a racer back to keep the straps from falling off my shoulders. Hallelujah.

More Peanuts Pics

Today I went back to PetCo for my normal Sunday morning cage-cleaning duties. I normally spend between an hour and an hour-and-a-half, depending on how messy the cats have been and how much cuddling I do. Today, I spent two-and-a-half hours. I cuddled at the beginning, then I cleaned, then I cuddled some more.

Sally doesn't really know me, so she was pretty stand-offish. But Linus, her Sweet Babboo and cage-mate, was the same little sweetie he was when he stayed here in July. He purred, he cuddled, he started "making biscuits" with his paws. I was loving every minute of it.

"Oh, we're just having a cuddle. But you want to love me up? Okay!"
"I think I remember this red flashy-box thing."

After giving Linus some love (and Sally, much as she'd let me), I went to Snoopy and Charlie Brown's cage. They're in the one that I can kind of sit in, so I spent some time camped out there, cuddling. Snoopy, at first, was quite shy and nervous, but after a few minutes, he let me touch him, then pick him up and hold him on my lap (even at five weeks, Snoopy did not want to be held much) and finally, finally, I had him purring, making biscuits, and wool-sucking on his little donut bed.

Charlie Brown was as sweet and friendly as ever--it didn't take much to make him purr. He was always an affectionate little critter here, and one night I even got him to fall asleep in my arm, lying on his back.

"Now I'm back in your arms again..."
Charlie Brown, wool-sucking.
Snoopy, wool-sucking.
Charlie Brown, again.

After a while, I managed to tear myself away...I left the scene above--two sweet gray-and-white kittens, still on the small side, but nowhere near as tiny as they were in July, wool-sucking and rumbling away in their donut beds.

I might go visit tomorrow. And if you're in this area, they're at PetCo. Go meet the Peanuts Gang--you won't regret it!