Saturday, February 20, 2021

Every year...

Every year, I get the notification that the domain registration is due for this all-but-forgotten blog domain. 

Every year, I go through the same thought process: Should I even keep this? I haven't blogged anything in literally years, maybe it's time to just let it go

And then I go ahead and pay it, because I can't stop believing that eventually, I will get back to blogging again. 

OK. Y'all. I just wrote 68 words, and was interrupted five times. FIVE. People shouting to each other right outside my door. Coming into my office with announcements. Asking me if I bought the stuff from the place on the link that they sent me. Weaving complicated webs of who is going where and with whom and for how long

That settles it. I have to keep this Den of Chaos domain. It isn't just a cute little phrase, it is my entire life condensed into three little words. 

So. I suppose I should try to catch things up a bit... 

All but one of the Denizens are now legally adults, but are all still living here with us...which brings its own set of challenges as they appear to have stepped into Krazy Glue and have been unable to leave the nest. One of the most frustrating things about the COVID-19 fiasco has been that my daughters who had just discovered their wings got them clipped right as they were learning to love being able to soar on their own. 

"Go forth, my children, and enjoy your freed-...wait, no, come back and stay put..." 

I left my job with MegaBank almost two years ago due to a very long and complicated list of reasons, and have been volunteering full time with an animal rescue since shortly after I turned in my badge. 

Over the course of 2020, I was able to upgrade the technology for the rescue, redesign the website, digitize a decade worth of paperwork, facilitate over five hundred cat and kitten adoptions in 2020, fostered thirty-two kittens, and took over the role when our treasurer left us. 

I really wish that more people could have this kind of "gap period" experience, especially people like me who have "expensive" skills. The barrier to entry for most itty-bitty nonprofits isn't the price of the software or hosting, it's the salaries of people like me to set them up and maintain them that puts them out of reach. It's been an absolute delight to spend my days doing not only what I love to be doing, but for a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

Plus, I get to have kittens in the house almost all the time. #LiterallyBestPerksEver.

Volunteering also did wonders for my burnout, which had gotten really bad before I left MegaBank...but before you jump to conclusions, it wasn't my job that did it to me. It was the home front that had worn me down to the point where I just didn't have a drop of fuel left in the tank.

If I'm honest, I'm still smoldering a bit. It took a long time for my burnout to start mimicking depression, so I guess it is only reasonable to expect that it will take an equally long time for me to regain my energy and interest in doing things, but, well, patience has never exactly been my strong suit.

The garden is in ruins. The house isn't much better. I have a lot of work to do if I want to get things back to where they were back in 2016, before the burnout started eroding away both my physical ability and emotional interest in keeping on top of things. 

Guess it's time to roll up my sleeves and get going. I know what I want my life to look like, and I'm not going to get there by sitting here grousing about the steps not doing themselves.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

When all else fails, try killing everyone with toxic fumes!

Sooooooooooo…Tuesday morning, I tried to murder everyone in the house with poison gas.

True story.

SEE, what happened was, I had cleared out a bunch of way-too-old jars of food from the old pantry – you know, the home canned kind.

Which meant that I had a ton of those Tattler reusable jar lids and gaskets that needed to be cleaned. And the way I usually do that is to plop them into a saucepan of boiling water for 3-5 minutes.

So on my lunch break Tuesday, I dumped them into a saucepan and put them on the stove and carried on reloading the dishwasher. (You already see where this is going.)

I only had a somewhat tiny window on that deal, because frankly I have been not only in back to back meetings since about mid-September, but back to back intense meetings where I have had to be (ahem) rather vocal about what was being talked about, because there is a lot of Crazy going on lately, and the Mandates™ are coming from places that neither know nor care about how those Mandates™ are going to impact what we do, because what we do is very a-typical of what most applications in Wholesale do, and, well…we’re a round peg, we just don’t fit into square holes.

For bonus points, we’re one of those round pegs that support an awful lot of external structures. If we trip over our own shoelaces, we can potentially pull down nine other applications as we fall, and give literally tens of thousands of users across all those applications skinned knees and bloody noses.

Which, you know: Not on MY watch, dude.

Soooooo, yeah. I’m a bit protective of our little patch, and take a very dim view of people who have no idea what they’re doing tugging on the loom upon which our tangled web is woven all willy-nilly. And not skipping any of those meetings, because that’s always when they try to just casually slip something I’ve already flicked off the table back onto everybody’s plates.

But then as I was wildly shoving dirty plates in the general direction of the dishwasher, I got a text message from one of the kids saying she was ready to be picked up, and, knowing that my next meeting was starting too-shortly thereafter, I naturally immediately dropped everything, grabbed my keys and ran out the door.

Then came skidding back through the door two seconds before the next argument meeting was to start, and jumped straight into that and was fighting with someone within about three seconds flat and then I kinda-sorta completely forgot about the blasted canning lids and gaskets bubbling away on the stove…?

About 30-40 minutes of verbal sparring (“RULES!” “REALITY!” “RULES!” “REALITY!”) later, I hear the husband yelling “WHAT’S BURNING?!” from the other room, and then my brain went, “OH, that reminds me: You’ve got a bunch of plastic boiling on the stove, you might wanna go check on that.”


Friends…there are no words for just how bad the fumes those hard plastic canning lids put out when they are, you know, on fire.

I’m not just talking about the smell (which for the record was incredibly awful), I’m talking fumes that even in the furthest reaches of the house were setting eyes watering, throats burning, and lungs protesting.

Definitely “get the heck outta the house, now” levels of bad.

Naturally, I did not just immediately vacate the house. hahahahahaha, no, silly, THAT would have been the SENSIBLE thing to do!

Instead I grabbed the now-very-offensive (and also spewing white clouds of toxins) pot and ran it out to the backyard, then ran through the house flipping on all the fans and slamming open all the windows, and then I scuttled out of the house to join my shivering family on the driveway.

…my eyes were watery for hours

…but then again…it did get me out of meetings for a bit…


Yeah. At the end of all things?

…Worth it!…

(Not really. I’m still a bit mad at myself about it. But, nobody was actually hurt so I’m sure I’ll get over it. Just, geez, Me, of all the fool things to do, forgetting and letting the water boil away until the plastic was doing the boiling? Not your finest hour, honey…)

Monday, September 04, 2017

What I Want vs. What I Actually Buy

Our espresso machine is on the fritz. It can still be coaxed into producing that sweet, sweet elixir of life, but, the writing is definitely on the wall.

In neon.


This…is not OK, people.

SO NATURALLY, I am on Amazon this morning checking out new espresso makers. Because I am not about to allow civilization itself to utterly collapse around here.

…let the (mind) games…begin!

Hmmmm, this Saeco is awful sexy

…fully automatic, programmable, self-cleaning?!?!, oh, keep whispering those sweet nothings to me, baby…oh, but, also two THOUSAND dollars, ummmmmmm, yeah-OK, er, NEXT…!

Ah! KitchenAid makes an espresso maker?! A red one that looks like something out of a 50s pop-shop?!?! Tell me more, Oh Brand I (Mostly) Trust and Am VERY Fond Of!

….aaaaaaaaaaaand, $839 dollars. Ahem. Moving on

{repeat that basic scenario of going “ooooooooo! aaaaaaaaaah! wait, how much? er, um, what else do you have…” about three hundred times, until eventually…}

“…yeah, so, um…thanks for spending, like, two hours showing me every single thing you have, Amazon, and if you’d just, you know, toss one of these into a box and send it on over, that’d be greaaaaaaaat…”

…yeah, I’m going to end up buying exactly what I bought ten years ago, and for exactly the same reasons.

  • Gets the one (1) job we want it for done
  • Has a modest footprint on the counter
  • Doesn’t have a whole lot of fancy doohickeys to break / lose / not-get-snapped-back-in-place-just-so-resulting-in-a-huge-mess
  • Does not require a degree in physics and/or mathematics to figure out how to use it.


Still, I find these exercises in mental gymnastics a bit fascinating because honestly? Just like anybody else, I’m attracted to what is shiny and new. I am very interested in things that are “modern,” things that would make me feel like I was being pampered, things that would say, “Life is showering all the blessings upon me, for lo! I am its favorite child.”

And it always, always amuses me when I engage in these kinds of “wants all the super-fancy things => spends ridiculous amounts of time arguing with herself about allllllll the possibilities => ultimately settles on something much less expensive than originally desired that gets the core job done” exercises.

Left to itself, my basic nature would be much more on the hedonistic, instant-gratification side.

I am impulsive. I am also impatient. I want things now, and I want to put as little effort into getting what I want as humanly possible.

I am also more than a bit reckless, to be honest. Because in related news, I am also a hopeless optimist, so, in my mind? Things will always work out.

…they just…will…somehow or other…

In other words, my basic nature is a manufacturer’s dream. I am exactly the kind of person who is already screaming “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!” before they’ve even gotten to slide two of the sales pitch.

But, over the last twenty years, the core habits of the LBYM lifestyle have become engrained in me. I don’t even “have to” make myself stop and walk through the steps involved – it just happens.

It is literally just as automatic for me to start bumping up what I actually need and what I value the most against what I’m proposing to purchase in order to scratch that itch as it is for me to be captivated by the sales pitch in the first place.

And to start challenging myself whenever I try to insist that I neeeeeeeeeeeed some feature I do not currently have, and have not even thought about as a thing I needed before I saw the advertisement about it being A Thing.

AND asking myself whether or not I’d still be content with my choice if, say, the washer/dryer went out next month instead of “probably at some point between January and May of next year” like I expect them to – would I then resent the blasted coffee maker if having spent the money on it meant I couldn’t buy the new set I really wanted? (…ohhhhh, heck yes I would…I would despise that new coffee maker if it had taken cash I desperately needed two months later for a “really good” new washer/dryer…)

It still amazes me that I can be that way. That I, of ALL people, have the ability to stop myself when I see something shiny and pretty and awesome and approach the problem with, you know, cold, boring old LOGIC instead.

Which is why I still firmly believe that pretty much anybody can learn how to live below their means.

C’mon: If someone as reckless, impulsive and overly-optimistic as me can get to a point where that kind of “whoa up, there, cowgirl, let’s reexamine this here deal a bit, run it through the old sanity check right quick, because this has ‘I might regret this later’ written all over it” thing is as automatic as the “ooooooooooo, that is so cool and so shiny and I want it real bad!” impulse that triggers it?

Anybody can.

True story, y’all.

True story.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Knock-knock, Mocha-Fudger

OMG, YOU GUYS! I got a Knock-Knock Mocha-Fudger for Mother’s Day!!!! (<= fair warning, The Bloggess uses the actual-grownup words – if you’ve got a little one reading over your shoulder, might want to save that hysterical and oh-so-relatable read for nap-time).


I love him. He made me laugh so hard, and I want to put him somewhere that I can see from my office window, so that I can burst into hysterical giggles at random all day long – preferably during long, boring, ever-so-serious meetings.

I also got this last night from Boo Bug, who made it herself.

I just about fell out of my chair when she brought that in. I even saw the cookies being baked, but didn’t think they were for, you know, me! Let alone going to be turned into this!

Just, wow.

Mother’s Day is supposed to be all about gushing about how much we love our mothers, and how much they love us, and talking endlessly about everything they have and continue to do for us.

And IMHO it is very important to do that, because frankly an awful lot of What Moms Do is all about little everyday things that nobody ever thinks much about, or even notices get done on a regular basis – unless, of course, it doesn’t get done.

But you know what? For me at least, what I get from being a mom is a lot more than what I give.

For me, being a mom is a privilege. It makes me a part of the future. What I give to my kids will keep on going long after I’ve left this world; some of what I’ve taught my kids will be taught to theirs, and so on and so on down through generations to come.

Plus, I find that hanging out with my kids is better than all the anti-depressants in the world whenever I’m feeling kind of bleh – which I have to admit seems to have been happening an awful lot these last couples years.

I’m just…well…tired, I guess. My hormones are all whacked out, I seem to boomerang from not being able to sleep to oversleeping, and my mood keeps just whizzing all over the place, because, #HormonesSuck, #CanPerimenopauseBeDoneNowPlz, #GrowingOldAintForSissys.

But my kids, well, they keep me going. They give me a reason to keep on getting up and doing the old try, try again day after day – no matter how hard the Universe is slamming its hand down on the lever trying to flush my whole life right down the cosmic toilet.

They’re full of fun and cool ideas and a unique way of looking at the world. They motivate me. They give me new ideas to ponder, new projects to undertake, a new way of thinking about all the same old problems.

They make me laugh on days when all I want to do is scream, shake my fist at the world, mutter a few curse words and then hide under my desk until the day I die.

They can relight my inner fire whenever it goes out, far faster than I could do it all on my own – with well-placed witty remarks, really bad puns, and the occasional offhand remark that starts with, “Have you ever noticed that…” and ends with me going, “…whoamind…BLOWN, dude…

And occasionally…they even buy me metal roosters for my garden, and give me delicious bouquets made of love (and also cookies).


I am definitely the luckiest, most blessed mom in the world, and I wouldn’t trade a single hair on any of their heads for all the tea in China.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

OMG, I still know how to knit!

We took a vacation-as-such in June for the first time in a lot of years; a whole entire week with the whole entire family (plus three friends) down in Los Angeles, going to theme parks, eating way too much food, and just partying as though the world were ending tomorrow.

Naturally, the first thing I said to myself when I realized that I wasn’t going to be up to my eyebrows in working / cooking / cleaning / paying-bills / etc. was OHmyGOSH…I should TOTALLY bring along a knitting project!

And it goes without saying that instead of a nice pair of socks (well, OK, in addition to), I settled on an enormous fingering-weight lace shawl with multiple individual patterns, because what says ‘relaxing activity’ more than THAT?

{beats head on desk}

{why, Me, whyyyyyy do you insist on doing that to yourself?!}

I cast it on in the hotel on a day that poor Boo Bug had to sit out the theme parks due to an upset stomach, didn’t get a whole lot done on the trip because duh, ya think?!, and then finally finished it Thursday night => got it blocking on the bed this morning.

It is so huge that it takes up literally 2/3rds of a king-sized bed, y’all. 100 inches long by 50 inches deep once I had it stretched out and pinned – I had to turn it diagonally on the bed to get the edges spread out correctly, because as I just learned this morning, the mattress is “only” 80 x 76 inches.

I had to get up on a step ladder to take a picture of it, and still couldn’t get the whole thing in the frame. Daaaaaaaaamn.

This is the Spirit of the Southwest shawl, and like all of the Evelyn Clark patterns I’ve done it was a delight to knit up. The lace patterns were tricky enough to be interesting, but not so tricky that I either never finished it, or spent more time cussing than knitting.

I used the #6 needles the pattern suggested, and a yummy skein of Lisa Souza’s Lace in the ‘Mahogany’ colorway that I had been taking out, petting, and tenderly tucking back into its air-tight storage bag for years and years – Ravelry informs me that I bought it at Stitches back 2010.

The shawl ate up a little over half of that jumbo-sized skein, so I still have plenty of yarn left to make a second, smaller shawl in the future. Woot!

{happy sigh}

I have to admit, things like knitting, reading and writing have been badly victimized by my shift from commuting every day to working from home full-time.

Other things have benefited, of course, and the benefits way outweigh the losses, but…well…that was four hours or more, every weekday, that were basically set aside for Such Things.

I couldn’t be paying bills, or washing the kitchen floor, or doing any home-related things while I was on a train, for carp’s sake – about all I could do that felt even remotely productive was read, knit, or write.

But, I’m starting to work my way back to having a bit more balance that way; it’s hard going because I am an idiot with a very poor grasp of the concept that I only have so much energy and physical stamina to put into whatever-all I’m doing all day long, and thus tend to hit the ground running and then just run and run and run until I slam face-first into an invisible wall of exhaustion every evening and end up just kind of existing until bedtime finally rolls around.

But, it is getting better…so hopefully, my poor neglected stash will start feeling loved again, and I’ll be able to enjoy this feeling of having done something cool with my “free” time instead of feeling guilty about “wasting” endless hours watching videos and otherwise farting around on the Internet in those hours between “done working” and “bedtime.”

Here’s hoping, anyway.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Logical reasoning is not always my forte

I like to think of myself as a mostly logical person, who makes decisions based more on math/science than emotion. That I am not easily suckered by things that are clearly trying to play on my feelings to trick me into paying way more than I need to for something that isn’t actually All That Special.

Then something comes along that laughs at that notion and points out that I am not as scientific as I want to believe I am.

Like, say, salt.

We’re not fancy people with highly-refined palates around here, so for most of the things that come out of our kitchen it honestly makes zero difference if you use Plain Old Mass-Produced or Super Fancy Hand-Harvested salt – nobody will turn their nose up at the plain-stuff, or even notice if you switch to the fancy-stuff.

So scientifically speaking, it’s a better deal for me to pick up my salt in 5 or 10 pound bags from Costco than to buy anything “fancy” for us.

Then this happened: A while ago, our weekly veggie delivery folks offered to add a little bag of smoked salt to our basket for an extra $7.

At first I was (predictably) all, “Pfffft, seriously? Smoked. Salt. For seven dollars. Just, wow. You know what? I have a smoker – I could totally make my own damned ‘smoked salt.’ Pffffffft. Whatever, guys.”

But at the same time, I was…intrigued. Just how much flavor would they actually be able to get into salt? What would it be like? Plus of course the smoker is really the husband’s domain, and neither of having any idea what ‘smoked salt’ is supposed to taste like, we’d probably do it all wrong and think we hated it…

So eventually my curiosity got the best of me, and I paid the extra seven bucks to add it to the weekly basket.

It was…amazing. I was smitten with this stuff. At first I just sprinkled it on steaks and such, but then in a moment of wild abandon – and knowing full well that it is meant to be used as a ‘finishing’ salt on things rather than as an ingredient – I used it in some mashed potatoes I was making. #Rebel

Oh. MY. Gahd.

So good. So good. The flavor was not so intense that it made the smashed spuds “weird” on their own, but intense enough that suddenly I had a side dish that didn’t end up as a bland, tasteless side dish for my BBQ roast.

Man, it was on after that. I started using it for all kinds of things. Rubs for meats. Broths for soups. Sprinkled on green beans. Mixed into a ‘basic’ vinaigrette salad dressing.

Pretty soon the little bag was empty, and I was all, “Oh well. It was fun while it lasted…” – but somehow, I found myself circling around the Jacobsen website looking for more of the stuff. Because it is like CRACK, y’all.

Man oh man. They have an awful lot of tempty things. Habanero infused salt. Truffle infused salt. And yes, the cherrywood-smoked salt.

But the tempty nature of their goods wasn’t what got me to take out my credit card and place an order.

What did was watching a couple of their videos about how they go about making their salts.

Dear Scientific Reasoning: You lose.



I am a class A-1 sucker for things like this. You show me a guy using a hand tool to scrape the newly-formed salt out of the evaporation bed into a bin to finish drying, and I am hooked. Same thing with candies, if I’m watching somebody laboriously hand-fold the taffy, I’m immediately shoving money at them.

And also making myself sick by shoveling the taffy into my face as fast as I can.

Scientifically speaking, I know that “table salt” is just NaCl – sodium-chloride. Whether it comes from the sea or a mine, whether it is generated by the ounce or the ton, it’s still the same basic chemical compound – what makes one salt taste different from another is actually “impurities,” trace minerals that are hitching a ride with the basic NaCl combination.

So by and large, whether you harvest it by hand from the Pacific Ocean or use an enormous machinated set of pumps and pipes to mine it up from underground deposits, if what you’re making is “plain white salt,” it’s going to be scientifically the same.

And I also know that I could totally make my own “infused” salts. C’mon. Have you MET me? Have you SEEN my pantry, with row after row of Mason jars full of homemade flavored vinegars, vanillas and so forth?!

But emotionally, I am completely enthralled by someplace like Jacobsen, a tiny little company only five years old that goes about getting salt from the Pacific Ocean basically exactly like I did back when I lived a lot closer to it…and had a lot more free time on my hands.

It gets me because I really enjoy that kind of work. Few things are more pleasurable than the feeling of doing something like that for yourself – sure, it’s hard work that nobody seems willing to do anymore, but to me it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

It’s physical. It’s primal. It makes you feel grounded somehow, and super competent at this whole living thing. It makes me feel as though the modern age doesn’t really own me – that I am a part of the same earth my ancestors walked.

And in these days when you look at something in the grocery store and have no idea where it came from, or what’s really in it, being able to say I am 100% certain there is NOTHING SCARY in that, because I made it with these hands is a surprisingly deep comfort.

Everything else may be going to hell, but at least I know that THIS MARINADE was made with 100% Real Things…therefore obviously, EVERYTHING is going to be ooooookayyyy…

Somehow, the idea of my salt being made that slow, labor-intensive way makes me…happy.

Not quite as happy as it would make me to do it my damned self, but, close.

Which makes the higher price tag worth it, even though scientifically speaking, that’s absolute nonsense.

Oh well – I guess it just proves that I’m still, you know, human. That there are things I value more than math, or money…that I’m not in too much danger of becoming a heartless, soulless machine who always does the best-for-my-bottom-line thing even if it isn’t the best thing for the emotional well-being of myself and others.

So I guess I’m OK with my occasional outbursts of irrational, unscientific decision making.



Soooooooooooo…if Jacobsen could just get that comparatively-insanely-expensive jar of cherrywood-smoked salt here, like, now-ish, that’d be greaaaaaaaaaat…

(Seriously. It is like crack. But, you know, in a good way.)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father’s day, and EVERY day

It seems a bit unfair that these kinds of things only get posted once a year, because being an awesome dad is definitely one of those “every single day in every single way” kinds of things.

But at the same time, I suppose it would get a bit tiresome if I went on and on and on about how awesome a father the husband is all the time.

Because he is an awesome father, every day.

There’s all the usual “good father” stuff: When they were small, he would sing them awake in the morning with silly songs he made up on the fly; he would settle them down for the night with stories made up from words they would toss out to him.

And he faced even the nastiest of diapers with unflinching strength.

And we used CLOTH diapers for quite a while, gang. <= +500 Amazing Points for dealing with that added Nasty Factor.

He takes them for haircuts and dentist appointments.

He watches really lame movies with them.

Runs them to the mall when they want to meet up with friends and Mom is all, “Nope, no way, huh-uh, I have so damned much to do today plus you have no idea how tired I am because blah-blah-blah-40-minutes-of-whiny-lecturing…”

But that’s just, you know, the everyday-life stuff.

There’s so much more, the things that they don’t even realize he does for them…yet. But someday, they’re going to look back and realize just how much he did for them, and they’re going to realize just how much of their self-confidence and self-love come from these things.

Things like holding them accountable for their grades and behavior not in the “because it is all about me, and I don’t like it” way, but in the “because you are smart and capable, so, don’t act like you aren’t” way that reinforces the message that above all else, he believes in them.

Telling them they can too do or be something when they felt like they couldn’t.

Listening to them and giving them both his council, and his permission to disagree – so they never had to be afraid to tell him what they really-truly believe, or how they felt about something…because they instinctively knew that even if he didn’t agree with them, they wouldn’t lose his love and support.

He showed them what a good man – a good person – looks like. Loyal to his friends and family. Incredibly honest. Strong in all the right ways. Protecting and providing for his family without demanding constant worship for it.

He has taught them that being loving and respectful toward his wife does not mean trading in his man-card and becoming some kind of emasculated, subservient creature. That having an equal partnership can work, and work well.

And that no matter what they might see on TV or hear from their friends, it is not “just the way men are” for them to raise either their voice or their hand to their family, even when they are really upset about something.

I wish every kid could have a guy like him for their father; I truly believe the world would become a much better place if they could.

Happy Father’s day, honey. You really are a kick-ass dad, and the best husband a wife could have.