Meandering Mango

If you're looking to feed your intellect just might starve. If you're here because you want to hear about my wacky life...well, you've come to the right place.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Meander on Over to Word Press I've finally decided, after much insisting by Troy over at Growing Sense, that the time has come for Meandering Mango to stop being bullied by Blogger and settle into a cozy new home at Word Press. First it was "Beta Blogger," then it was "New Blogger," but any way that you cut it, if I was going to be forced to switch...well, then I was really going to switch.

Don't fret! You can still keep up with my meanderings...just be sure to change your links and bookmarks to Meandering Mango's new abode at

Can't wait to see you there--and by the way, there's already a new little treat waiting for your arrival!

Au'revoir, Blogger...Bonjour, Word Press!

*I will keep this account, however, no new posts will be made to this site. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Say What? it's been a LOOOONG time since I've posted, and I'm feeling like a big slacker. But, truth be told, I'm having a bit of writer's block. Enter this post--a collection of totally random happenings from my life lately that make up a giant hodge podge. Here goes, a collection of mini-posts to get me jump started...

(1) Alphabet Soup: Marc has become increasingly interested and involved in ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) during his MSW studies. Therefore, I (by default) have also had a great deal of exposure lately to this paradigm [that buzzword was for you, Troy]. Last week, Marc and I attended a conference in Schaumburg, Illinois at the invitation of a fellow church member. The focus was Communities of Shalom--a program through the United Methodist Church that focuses on uniting communities and least that's what I gathered. We attended three break-out sessions--two of which were led by Luther Snow, an ABCD consultant. It was uplifting to realize through our contact with Luther's ideas and teaching that much of what we are doing at Broadway UMC [that which seems very intrinsic and second-nature to us] is actually quite progressive. Not only did we walk away with an appreciation for those things that Broadway is doing to truly celebrate its community, but we also brought home some pretty awesome furniture from IKEA!

(2) Goodbye #3: Many people who know me at all know that I am a complete dentophobe. I'm not sure if it was a bad experience as a child or the fact that I brush constantly and still have multiple cavities, but the dentist really freaks me out. So I ended up putting off (for years) having work done on tooth #3--your first molar on the upper right for those who don't know. Finally, after an abscess at the beginning of '06, there was no getting around it. Tooth #3 won the battle, and I was heading to the endodontist for a root canal. The only problem was that the tooth was still going to have its way and continued to give me problems. At the beginning of December, I finally broke down and called the oral surgeon. By 3:00pm on January 5th, Tooth #3 was merely a memory.

I was so nervous about getting my tooth yanked [or extracted, as the dental-type say], that I actually called Marc crying on my way home BEFORE the appointment. Thankfully, the procedure only took a couple of minutes--I think it took longer to get the shots to numb me up--and I was headed out the door, gauze in mouth, only a short time later. Marc's mom graciously escorted me to my appointment and let me crash at their house afterwards. Later that evening, Marc showed up with pudding and Jello...just what I needed to get me back on the road to recovery!

(3) Doin' the 'Do: Last Friday, I visited our friend Wayde at his and his partner David's hair salon, Common Tribe. My mom, dad and little sister all chipped in to get me gift certificates to the salon for my birthday in December, and I finally decided to make good on a new haircut. I've been growing my hair out for awhile and love how long it's getting, but it was definitely time for a little sprucing up. So I fought off all of the crazy northside traffic after work and made my way to the super cozy salon for my new 'do.

Wayde took great care to make sure that he knew exactly what kind of cut I wanted before he got started and then went on to work his magic. I jokingly told him afterwards that he should think about cutting hair for a living. Note to anyone looking for an extra-fabulous haircut...go see Wayde!

(4) Get out of my Fac(ial): If you remember back to my post in September, my mom, sisters and I play in a golf tournament every fall. This year, my mom and I both won gift certificates for manicures, pedicures, facials, and a shampoo/style at Kokomo's mecca of high fashion, Rudae's Beauty School. Knowing that the certificates expired soon, we made appointments for Saturday, and I headed to Kokomo for our Day of Beauty. We were well aware of the fact that we would be tended to by students, but who knew that our experience might bring to mind a certain song from the movie Grease? At the end of the afternoon, my facial left me feeling a bit icky, and my mom's manicurist actually asked her if she wanted to have her nails polished...this after not filing them or even trimming her cuticles. I know, I would be wrong to think that we would walk away having experienced the high-quality pampering of a professional salon, but I also didn't think that I would feel the need to wash my face after the facial. I think my mom would agree that the best part of our "spa day" was the hour we spent at the ice cream shop afterwards laughing about our time at Rudae's.

(5) That's How I Roll: When Duane mentioned that his sister had a spot on Indy's newest sports team, The Naptown Rollergirls, Troy decided that he wanted to celebrate his birthday at the bout on January 13th. So we packed up the crew and headed to the Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the inaugural "Cherry Stomp"...crude, I know. Marc and I were amazed by how the athletics really did outweigh the theatrics, although there was plenty of that, too! I could elaborate on the night's events, but I'll just point you to the website and let you use your own imagination.

Well...there it is. A few little clips to catch you up on my whirlwind life of the last few weeks. More to come--I promise.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Back in Action

Marc and I knew our Christmas vacation was finally over when we stopped by the Downtown Vet yesterday after work to pick up our wacky fur-baby, Barkley, from "camp." The system is that you go in the front door to pay and then you go back outside to the side "kennel door" to pick up the beast. We've got it down. So we went outside, carefully arranged the blanket in the back seat to protect it from the impending dog slobber, and waited patiently for the kennel door to open. Suddenly, the door flew open and there appeared Barkley, straining against his leash like a wild boar (if wild boars wore leashes, that is) and nearly dragging the technician behind him. This is how it usually goes with Barkley. He's not the most refined dog, and he has a little trouble containing his excitement...the only problem being that, well, just about everything excites Barkley. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to go through life with such enthusiasm, but even thinking about it makes me tired.

Anyone who meets Barkley typically says, "He's a great looking dog." And he is. But what I've come to learn is that it's a little like the times when a friend tried to set you up on a date and can say only about the prospect that he or she "has a good personality." Barkley is not a gentleman; in fact, he is the bull in the proverbial China Shop that is our home. In the world of manual transmissions, Barkley would be stuck in fifth gear...on an Indy car. But I don't want to give him a bad reputation, at least not one that he hasn't already earned by jumping on our friends' children or eating Marc's Burberry scarf a couple of years ago. Truly, it is Marc and me who are to blame--because when it comes down to it, Barkley really is a smart dog. He has selective hearing and chooses to acknowledge only his favorites words, like "treats," "goodies," or "go do business [aka go potty]." He even drops what he's doing to check the front and back doors when you ask him if Daddy's home. Commands such as, "No!," "Down!," and "Drop It!" fall on deaf ears.

Marc and I thought that we would give training a try. We even enrolled Barkley in the Humane Society's "Puppy Kindergarten." After four weeks (one day a week), Barkley graduated, only to eat his diploma in the car on the way home. We should have known then that Barkley was a renegade...a dog not bound by the conventions of dog training. The James Dean of the canine world. But he was cute, and we loved him, and after all...he was part of the family.

Barkley Baby

In my mind, I've often revisited the telltale signs that might have quietly whispered, "Turn back now..." We purchased Barkley from Tornado Kennels in Galva, Illinois (about a four hour trek from Indianapolis). When we were literally five minutes from the kennel, I made Marc stop the car at a gas station, because I was so nervous that my stomach actually felt sick [sign #1]. After we arrived, Lisa and Mark--the puppies' human parents--asked if we wanted to see Barkley's dad, Taos. We complied and headed out to the fenced in area just outside of the individual dog runs. The area was divided into two sections: one with all of the bitc...excuse me, Girl Dogs, and the other where the studs could strut their stuff. When they opened Taos' run, he bolted across the yard and up to the fence where all of the "ladies" were oogling him with ga-ga eyes and wagging tails. He put on quite a show for awhile until he turned, and as if guided by some crazy cosmic dog spirit, locked eyes with us. If you've seen footage of the Running of the Bulls in Spain, then you might be able to grasp what came next as Taos took off mad-hell towards us with a full thirty yards or so to build up speed. I saw my life pass before my eyes as all 105-pounds of this massive dog came bearing down on us. I might have even closed my eyes, half expecting to be pummeled. At the last minute, he playfully broke to the if he knew exactly what he was doing the whole time [sign #2]. While we were there, Barkley made another dog cry [sign #3], peed on the floor [sign #4], and refused to get in his crate [sign #5]. Once in the van, he barked the whole way home [sign #6], and then repudiated our attempts to get him to go potty at the rest stops [sign #7].

With all of that said, though, the last three years with Barkley have been fun. Sure, there are moments when he entirely lives up to the Tornado part of his heritage...days when he sneaks upstairs and raids the kitty box, or takes it upon himself to make sure the garbage is up to code. But he also has his moments, like the times he rests his head on the the arm rest between the two car seats and raises his eyebrows in a certain way...or when he jumps up onto the window seat in the dining room to "get lovin's." I'll be the first to admit that Barkley is not a dog for the faint hearted; you cannot be stuffy with a dog like him. But if you're looking for Bluto Blutarsky from Animal House...he's your boy.

Tornado Barkley (3 Years) #1

Friday, December 15, 2006

Spit Happens

Okay...forgive the dorky title, but it seems to appropriately sum up a disturbing trend in which I've recently noticed a huge increase--public spitting. I'm not sure why this gags me out so much, but it does. It seems that everywhere I go anymore, there are dots of spit [and that is politely speaking] mucking up the sidewalks, parking lots, etc. And it's a disgusting habit that crosses all demographics. In fact, when Marc and I were at the Starbucks on the Circle the other day, I looked out just in time to see a businessman clad in a classy suit walk by and hock a big one right onto the sidewalk. Don't these people know better? I mean, I'm certain that my mother would be quite mortified if she saw me pull something like that. But it doesn't seem to stop anyone.

One time, Marc was minding his own business walking back to his office after lunch. As he passed a woman on the sidewalk, she decided to spit on the ground and missed--instead it landed on Marc's arm. I can't remember what she said to him, but I do remember that it wasn't, "I'm sorry." Due to complete mortification, I don't think that he gave much of a response, which makes him a much better person than I. I'm not sure how the law is written in Indiana, but in most states, spitting on someone is actually considered assault or battery. In Terre Haute, Indiana, it is illegal to spit on the sidewalk. Maybe I'll start lobbying for that here.

If you are a sidewalk spitter, I apologize if I've offended you--but it's gross, so stop it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Scream Machine

Growing up, my family always had pets. The first one I remember was Socks, a white and buff Cocker Spaniel that came home in a Christmas stocking. Then I somehow bargained for a white, long-haired kitten from the pet shop by my elementary school. My mom used to pick me up from school now and again to go out to lunch, and we would always make a couple of side trips after we ate--one to buy candy and the second to the pet shop. One day I fell for the little guy, and as I recall, the deal went something like "place in the top three at your gymnastics meet this weekend, and the kitty is yours." Well, I placed fourth (or maybe 6th...7th?)...who knows, it's irrelevant. Let's just say, I was crushed and probably cried the whole way home. Now, I'm not a parent, but I can imagine that dissappointment like that is hard to watch. And it must have been for my mom, because the kitty came home with us anyway--despite my failed attempt at gold, silver, or bronze. I named him Snowball, but many years later, he became George (a name my dad felt was much more appropriate). I got him when I was in third grade...he didn't cross the rainbow bridge until after I graduated from college.

When my younger sister, Kimmy, was at the begging-for-pets age (about 4th Grade), we ended up with a Golden Retriever named Goldie--by far one of the world's best pets. I remember Kimmy lugging the poor puppy around under one arm, feet dangling below...without complaint from the dog. We used to create a trail of popcorn throughout the entire house and then watch her, nose to the ground, follow the path until the last bit of popcorn was snarfed up. Ashamedly, we even used to put the area rug at the bottom of the stairs, cart the dog to the top of the stairs, and then throw a toy down the steps just to watch her slide across the hard wood floor when she hit the rug at the bottom. Goldie loved to be loved and was always such a good girl. She had a favorite step (#4 I think) on my parents' stairwell where she would spend most of her time lounging. Mutter a polite "excuse me" on your way up or down the steps, and she would move just long enough to let you by. Now my folks have Barnum & Bailey, two Maltese pups, who are basically little people dressed in white fur coats.

So, when it came time for me to be out on my own, the need for a pet ran deeply. I couldn't imagine not having one, and since I was finally beyond the restrictions of college dorm/sorority house/rental house living, the possibility of taking on a new furry friend became reality. I went to the Humane Society and picked a four-year old Black Lab mix named Ilsa. My roommate, already hesitant about adding a new live-in, insisted the dog go back after she shredded the carpet and the front door...all within the first two days in her new abode. I was devastated and embarrassed that I had taken on more than I could handle and spent the whole weekend looking for a rescue facility to take her in. One finally called me back--the afternoon after I reluctantly returned her to the shelter.

From the beginning, the plan had always been that I would take Snowball/George in as soon as I had my own place. My mother always feigned hatred for the cat, yet when the time came for me to take him in, she protested with reason after reason why he should stay at her house instead of making the move. And although I teased her about it, I knew that she was right. Snowball had spent almost his entire life in the same place...there was no need to uproot him now. So my mom took me to the Humane Society in Kokomo, and we picked out a perfect little kitten for me to call my own. I named him (I forget now what it was) and brought him back to Indianapolis to start his new life in the big city. Two days later, he died in my closet on top of a pile of my shoes. After poking him with a hanger to confirm his demise, I called my parents in hysterics. Thankfully, they were in Indy for a play and offered to come retrieve said dead animal from the closet and return him to the shelter. That was it...the pet thing was out of my system.

Then came Thanksgiving of 2000. I came home the day before, dirty laundry in tow, and started to head to the garage to unload my basket. I stopped as everyone jumped from their chairs like a bunch of hooligans screaming, "DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR!" When I gave them a much-deserved "you're crazy" look, my mom came over and opened the door to the garage--revealing a relatively scrawny little tiger kitty. My step-nephews had rescued the poor little guy and wanted to keep him, but their household had already reached it's domesticated animal limit. So they dismissively told me, "If you don't want him, we can put him back out in the cold." Admittedly, I was a little skeptical about taking on a new pet with my track record thus far. But he was especially cute and had the greenest eyes I've ever seen on a cat. I decided to take him in but refused to name him until after he had been checked out by the vet and made it through his neutering. Finally, sometime after the new year, he began going by Kelso.

Kelso has come a long way since his paltry days as a half-dead stray. For starters, he made up for those days without food or shelter by packing on the pounds--at his heaviest he weighed a whopping 16.5 pounds--before slimming down to a svelte 12 pounds on his vet-recommended, low-cal kitty diet. He has loved, and lost, his best and dearest friend Lizard* to the massive and indiscriminate jaws of our Labrador Retriever. Then there are the four relocations he survived, though he's down to eight lives after one of the moves. And now, he basically runs the household. One behavior, in particular, has grown a bit cumbersome. It's a little trick he does, which I've dubbed The Scream Machine. Going on his highly tuned and mysterious inner clock alone, Kelso sneaks up to the ears of unsuspecting sleepers [Marc & me] and lets out the loudest meow he can muster. This generally sounds something like a banshee crying out in the night and takes place anywhere from 3:00 - 5:00 AM. It's a big ol' giant MRRWAAAAH that resonates through the dark room like the remnants of the cymbal whacked on The Gong Show. The only difference is that it is repetitive....over and over he MRWAHs at a tone and pitch that is guaranteed to grate even nerves of steel. Every morning, Marc grudgingly drags himself from the warmth of the covers, scoops up the offender, takes him to our spare bedroom [which has come to be known as Kelso's bedroom], and closes the door.

We realize that Kelso's war cry is in fact his way of informing us that he is ready for breakfast, despite the fact that it's much too early. But Marc has his theories. He explains to me that cats have brains the size of a golf ball and that if they use the same percentage of their brains as humans do, well then...the usable part of a cat's brain is about the size of a pencil eraser. Marc is convinced that it's the only way to account for why our finicky feline is so persistent even when his belligerent behavior produces the same results each morning. Personally, I would like to think that it's just his small, albeit misguided, attempt to say, "Thanks, you guys...what a life!"

*Note: No animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Lizard was a rubber, suction-cup clad toy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

C is for Cookie

One of the things I admire most about our friends John and Troy is their ability to throw a good get-together. And one of the best parts is that there is often some underlying theme or mission for the gathering. Take, for example, “Fry Day,” which, incidentally, takes place on a Saturday during the summer. Fry Day is a celebration of all things fried, be it sweet, savory, or otherwise. Then there is Booze & Cookies, and, yes, the title just about sums it up. Last year, I was sick on the big day, so I didn’t get the chance to join in on the festivities; but, this year, I was ready to go. So we put on our baking shoes, called up our friend Joe, and headed to Chateau Smythe-Moore for the infamous cookie bake.

Although I wasn't quite sure what to do when we got there, I was ready to jump in wherever needed. My first task involved unwrapping Hershey's Kisses for the Cherry Chocolate Kiss cookies. Marc and I were completely surprised when Joe showed up at our house with supplies in hand to make his favorite cookies. The Chocolate Cherry Kiss cookies, which quickly and fondly became known as "Joe Cookies," were definitely a crowd favorite. Imagine a cookie that tastes just like a cherry cordial, and you've got a Joe Cookie.

It was amazing to watch the show run so smoothly when I considered the kind of output that was going on around me. The best was when John
would yell out, "Hot Cookies...Coming Through...Get the Door!" Everyone seemed to fall perfectly into their specific roles...John's friend from work, Jennifer, and her husband Denny took over on spatula patrol, scooping cookies from the sheets onto the grocery bag-lined table.

Dave, Kathy, Eric and Duane fought off hypothermia while taking one for Team Kiefle.

Marc and Joe kept tabs on the Colts' Game in order to keep the crowd apprised of the score [even though the home team ultimately bit the big one after a 60-yard field goal].

Todd helped Mari and Daniel make cool magnetic toy cars. And even Claire played her part by supervising the general goings on of the day. She looked especially cute in her ever-so-appropriate holiday sweater!

One of my favorite photos from B&C is this one of the countertop filled with all the supplies necessary for a real humdinger of a cookie bake. I was completely impressed by Connor's knack for whipping up a variety of delicious cookie doughs. Be it Cowboy Cookies or some of the best ginger cookies I've ever eaten, he was on the ball. That boy truly knows his way around a stand mixer!

By the end of the afternoon, I told Marc that I was in desperate need of some protein, so we packed it in and headed out for a sandwich. We've slowly been weaning ourselves off of the cookies by having one or two per day over the last couple of evenings to avoid going through cookie withdrawal. Hats off to John and Troy for yet another fun gathering!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Giving the Gift of Community

If you get a chance, check out the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center's December 2006 Newsletter. It features an article on an organization called The Zawadi Exchange, which was started by none other than my dear hubby, Marc, and his comrade, De'Amon Harges. I'm glad that they are starting to get some press, because they're doing great and innovative work. Way to go guys!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Deck the Halls with Random Factoids

Because I have been slacking lately on my blogging duties, I'm using this Holiday "Get-to-know-you" List to get back in the saddle. You can check-out responses from fellow bloggers Troy (Growing Sense) and Jennie (Trim and Fashionable) by clicking to the right.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? -- Definitely hot chocolate...and when I'm feeling really crazy, I take a spoon, load it up with marshmallow cream, and dunk it right in. Better than regular marshmallows, in my opinion, which is saying a lot, because I LOVE marshmallows!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? -- Oh, Santa is a wrapping machine! I love to wrap presents, so my mom would tape the boxes shut and let me help with the gift wrapping. Even the oddly shaped packages get wrapped in something. I don't know that we've ever had unwrapped gifts under the tree.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? --I choose white for my tree/decorations at home; growing up, our family tree always had colored lights.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?--No, but my grandma always hung mistletoe in the archway between her living and dining rooms. It had little windchime-type thing that hung down, and the kids would always try to jump up to ring it.

5. When do you put your decorations up?--My goal is to get them up by the end of the weekend just after Thanksgiving. I do a pretty good job most of the time.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?--I love, love, love my mom's greenbean casserole and her deviled eggs. My sisters and I fight over them! Another favorite was always my grandmother's chicken and noodles. They always looked so perfectly yellow and yummy...I'll never forget the look on my sister's face when she found out that my grandma put yellow food coloring in them!

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?--Going to my Grandma and Grandpa's house for Christmas Eve.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?--What truth?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?--When I was little, we spent Christmas Eve evening at my grandparents' house. We would exchange and open gifts from our extended family that night. Everything else was "Do Not Open 'til December 25th!" In fact, it wasn't until about two or three years ago that my mom stopped waiting until after we went to sleep to put the gifts under the tree. Now that Marc and I are married, we usually spend Christmas Eve day/evening with his family and do our gift exchanging then. Late on Christmas Eve night, we drive up to my parents house to stay over for Christmas morning. Before bed, each of us "kids" [although we are adults now] gets to open one box, which contains our matching Christmas pajamas...that's right, we match, and we like it!

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?--My picky side comes out when the tree goes up, so I'm pretty particular about how the ornaments go on. Usually, I have a color scheme, but there are a few special pieces that go up whether they match or the two little felt elves that used to go on my Grandma's tree. They look so cute, like they're sitting on the branches watching over the living room while we're out.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?--The way I see it, snow should fall on Christmas Eve and melt the day after Christmas. So I guess I would say I dread it.

12. Can you ice skate?--Yes, but not very well at all. Marc used to play hockey, so he skates circles around me...literally. I haven't gone for a long time, but I would probably end up in a body cast if I tried.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?--One of my favorite gifts was a huge [about 3 1/2 feet tall], white stuffed bear that I named Bozwell. I circled it in the JC Penney catalog but never thought that I would get it. But then there he was on Christmas morning...thanks Santa!!

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?--Hanging out with our families.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
--Chocolate fudge with walnuts.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?--Perhaps it's picking on my little sister, Kimmy, about opening the last gift. She always wants to have the honor of opening the last present of the day, so one year we even went so far as to hide one of our own gifts to steal her thunder. I don't feel bad telling you all about it, because I know she thinks it's funny, too! (Right, Kimmy?)

17. What tops your tree?--Right now, nothing. We bought a great tree-topper a few years ago when we had a real Christmas tree. Now that we've switched over to the evil world of artificial trees, the darn thing is too heavy. I know that there's a way that I can rig it up, but I just haven't found it yet. Some of the girls at work used to joke that I could "MacGyver" anything...hmm...I'm thinking maybe a couple of chopsticks and some twisty-ties just might do the trick.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
--Now what will that say about me if I tell you I prefer receiving?!? But truthfully, I really do like giving gifts, as well. Actually, my favorite part is taking extra care to wrap the presents in a way that makes them look special. I'm a wrapping fanatic, so I always have to have the perfect paper and the bows just right.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
--O Holy contest.

20. Candy canes! Yuck or yum?
--I must confess. I'm not really a fan of candy canes (or Brach's Starlight Mints for that matter). Usually, I only make it about an eighth of the way through before I throw it away. Strange...because I do like pepermint flavor.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Twenty-first Floor -- Men's Wear

This post's title comes from the movie Liar Liar with Jim Carey. I'm not sure why I think the movie is so hilarious, but I used to watch it over and over again in college. There's a scene where the elevator dings, the door opens, and Fletcher [Carey's character] says, "Twenty-first Floor--Men's Wear." I guess the funny part is that he is in his office building...not in a department store. It is sometimes amusing to say this on an elevator when the door opens...some people get it, others don't.


A little situation I encountered in the lobby at work today brought the Liar Liar quote into my head. Not because anything particularly funny happened, but rather just something elevator related. A lady entered the elevator as I was about halfway through the lobby. At first she stared at the floor (you know how it is..."if I don't make eye contact, I don't have to hold the elevator"). Then at the last second, perhaps out of guilt, she pressed the "Door Open" button to wait for me. Or at least I thought that was the plan, until she let up on the button just as I was passing through the doors. The doors came together and nearly smooshed me as I stepped into the lift. I mildly commented something like, "Ooh, that's a little dangerous," hoping that maybe she would get the point that one usually depresses the "Door Open" button until after a person has made it entirely onto the elevator. Instead, she coolly said, "Yeah, most of the time the doors don't disengage so quickly." What?!?...she's done this before? Does this woman make it a habit of nearly incapacitating folks by luring them near to the elevator and then mischievously letting go of the button just in time to smoosh them?

It got me thinking about how there are definitely rules for proper elevator behavior, and I would like to explore some of those here:

Rules for How to Behave on an Elevator:

(1.) My ears are on fire: Refrain from discussing topics that may make others uncomfortable. One of Marc's favorite things to do is start completely bizarre, fictional conversations with me on crowded elevators. After work one day, as we rode up to our level of the parking garage, he blurted out, "Hey, I don't know if you remembered, but I won't be home until about seven tonight." When I asked him why, he informed me that he had his gymnastics lesson that evening and proceeded to talk about how the instructor really wanted him to work on his "limberness exercises." The best example of this comes from our friend Joe. He is about 6' 2" and was standing in the far back corner of an elevator filled with about twenty mall patrons on New Year's Eve, while Marc and I were in the opposite front corner. Suddenly, Joe yelled out, "Hey Marc, did you remember to bring that ointment for your rash?" Marc said, "Oh crap, I left it in the car." I probably turned five shades of red as our fellow elevator travelers snickered.

(2.) Yakkity Yak, I'll call back: Hang up that phone. If you receive a cell phone call on the elevator, politely tell the caller that you are on an elevator and will call them back. We really don't want to hear all about your doctor appointment (see Rule #1) or about how you can't believe that so-and-so did something-or-rather. If you do choose to break this rule, please refrain from acting surprised when your call breaks up or you lose your signal. This rule may be countermanded only in the event that the elevator becomes stuck and you must call for emergency personnel to retrieve you from said car.

(3.) Eliminate unnecessary eliminations: No gas passing. This should go without saying; but from the smell that Marc and I encountered in the elevator at the hospital a few weeks ago, I think some people may need the reminder. Please do not think that you will be tricky and do this just before you exit the elevator. It is just cruel to leave that kind of "surprise" for the next person who gets on, especially since they will be inevitably blamed when someone gets on with them at the next floor. Elevator + toot = rude.

(4.) Hold that door, please! It's amazing how many people won't hold the door when they see someone approaching. Admittedly, I have been guilty of punching the "Door Close" button when I'm in a hurry...yes, I'm embarrassed to divulge that. One of my favorite stories about the "Door Close" button comes from our friend Eric, who lives in Manhattan. He used to work in an office building where there were so many floors that letting extra people on could really make the difference in whether you were late or not. As the elevator filled up, he would intentionally refrain from pressing the "Door Close" button when he got on the elevator and always made it a point to stand right at the keypad so that no one else could press it either. He said that people would get so irate and impatient that they would try to reach around him to press "Close," but he would physically block them out. Eventually, the doors do close on their own, but I guess we've just been programmed to want to go faster, faster, faster!

(5.) Major commitments: Choosing the right floor on the first try. With so many pretty, light-up buttons to choose from, this one can be tough. But think of those around you and punch with certainty. If you do press the wrong floor button and must depress a second button, apologize to anyone else riding in the elevator, but do not do any of the following, (a) comment that it is Monday; (b) inform others that you haven't had your coffee yet; or (c) laugh or chuckle nervously. These reactions may cause resentment among fellow riders that might only be dispelled by providing them with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

(6.) Clowns in a Volkswagen: Waiting for the next lift. Sardines are nasty, and there's no need to emulate them. If the doors open and it seems as though your cramming yourself into the elevator is going to make things a bit too intimate for everyone, wait for the next elevator. Chances are, it won't take long. And most of the folks in your building probably don't want to know you that well. Just think, you'll also be so much better off in the event that someone on that crowded elevator chooses to violate Rules #3 or #5!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lazy Jane

I love Shel Silverstein, especially his poem "Lazy Jane." For those of you who don't know how it goes, let me enlighten you:

In a nutshell, that was my weekend. It seems like Marc and I have been going 100 miles per hour lately, and this was the first weekend in a long time where we didn't have anything formally planned (except dinner at a friend's house on Sunday...and I wasn't cooking, so that didn't really count). On Friday night, we hit the Thai Cafe for dinner and then headed home to watch Network, the 1976 film featuring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall. Even if you haven't seen it, you know of's the film that includes the famous line, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Now that we've "fallen back" with Daylight Savings Time, it seems like it's much later than it really is. When we were driving home from dinner, I told Marc that I felt like it was 10:00 even though it was really seven. By the time the DVD ended at 10:00, it felt like it was midnight (which is, ashamedly, past my bedtime). So we turned in for the night.

On Saturday, we hit the road for a visit to Kokomo to see my family. It was chilly day and kind of gloomy...perfect for sacking out on the couch , which was exactly what we did at my parents' house for the entire day. It was nice, though, to just sit around and catch up since we hadn't been up for a visit since September! (Shame on I said, we have been extra busy.) I baked a pan of brownies to satisfy my chocolate craving. And when dinner time rolled around, I offered to make the sweet potato soup that I love so much. Nevermind that I've made this soup several times...I somehow managed to completely forget the first four or five steps of the recipe, leaving us with 3 1/2 pounds of boiled sweet potatoes and nothing to do with them. My mom said she might freeze them and make a casserole later. I felt so bad! They joked that if I didn't really want to cook, I should have just said something. We ended up ordering pizza, and after about three pieces, I had miraculously forgotten all about the bisque incident.

I brought a bag of dog clothes that Judy's dog, Cooper, willed down to my parents' new puppy, Barnum. He gladly put on a little fashion show for us, displaying how chic he looked in his new sherpa-lined corduroy overcoat. Bailey, my parents' first-born and dearest dog son, was less obliging when it came to trying on the new duds. When we strapped him into the Isaac Mizrahi doggy trenchcoat, he pouted in the middle of the room and refused to pose for pictures. I always love to spend time at my folks' house, and it was a really great visit.

Sunday, we managed to arrive at church just as it was starting. Marc's mom and dad were joining us that day, and they called to see where we were. Marc said he was surprised that they beat us there, but I reminded him [as we stood in our kitchen] that church was starting in approximately two minutes. I've come to realize that living so close to the church can be both good and bad. Bad, because we tend to let ourselves sleep in too late; and good, because it only takes half of a second to get there. After church, we had lunch with Marc's parents and then headed home to watch the Colts almost get spanked by the Buffalo Bills. I think I lasted until the third quarter before I drifted off to nap-land. Later that evening, it was off to the dinner party and the absolutely wonderful Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie that Jack made for dessert. It was quite a way to cap off a weekend.

So I guess that for two people who had nothing planned, Marc and I still ended up with plenty to do!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rock the Vote '06

It's's yucky...there's a water main break on 73rd & Meridian. Don't let this stop you! Get out there and vote! Not sure where to go? Check out the poll locator on You can type in your birthday, as well, to double-check that you're registered to vote at that location. Also, be sure to bring your Indiana or Federal government issued photo I.D. You have to show it, and you're not gettin' in without it.

It's your right and your responsibility, so do it...or else.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sterno Inferno

Marc and I hosted a dessert and coffee party at our house last night. It was the ultimate result of an idea I had late this past summer, and I was glad that we actually pulled it off. Usually, we say, "Wouldn't it be nice to do [insert any variety of social gatherings]?" but it never comes to fruition. In typcial Marc and Karen fashion, however, we were busting our butts at the last second to get everything in order...literally. Marc was still out buying ice and cups when our friends, Molly & Kendrick, arrived with their unbelievably cute son, Carter.

Thankfully, our friends are gracious! No one really seemed to mind when they walked through the door that I had dish towels wadded up on the countertop and a saucepan soaking off its layers of chocolate in the sink. I know that I'm always harder on myself than I should be about having the house in tip-top shape, but it doesn't seem to stop me from stressing out before our friends arrive...just ask Marc, who spent the better part of his weekend cleaning instead of studying. There is definitely a corner saved in heaven for him after all of that furniture vacuuming; which, by the way, he claimed to be one of his least favorite things to do in life! I have the loveliest husband...

I'm not sure what planted the seed for our shindig. Maybe the fact that I love baking (especially for friends). Or maybe that we love getting folks together and don't do it often enough. But my guess is that it was probably the union of the two. So out went the invitations, in came the friends and neighbors, and we had ourselves a party. It seems that as stressful as planning a get-together can be, there's something so delightful about having your house filled with people laughing, chatting, meeting, and enjoying each other's company. I wish that I would have taken pictures, but I was too darn busy to try to find the camera.

Speaking to the true procrastination Marc and I embrace in our lives, we raced out to Bed Bath & Beyond at about 2:00 (the party started at 6:00) for mini-Sterno gel-flame canisters. Mind you, I've never used one of these contraptions. But I was dying to make Chocolate Coconut Cream fondue, and nothing, not even a tiny metal flaming can of gel-fire was going to stop me. I made the chocolate dip without much ado, sneaking a few tastes and letting Marc lick the spoon afterwards. Then I set aside the liquidy-Mounds-bar-tasting goodness while I worked on the cobbler. When the time came, I carefully poured the chocolate into the fondue pot, relinquished the matches to Marc, and went about ironing out the finer details of the dessert spread. At one point, I noticed that the flame had gone out, so I scurried over to grab another canister. I loaded it up, lit the gel, and nearly died one minute later when Kathy said, "Ooh, it's really bubbling," followed by, "Oh, no it's burnt!" Ahhh! One and a half pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate down the drain...or more truthfully into the garbage. It was a sad night. The fondue wasn't going down without a fight, though, as Barkley (our 75 pound black lab) decided to resurrect the chocolate from the garbage can...a feat that left Marc calling the emergency vet service at about 10pm to make sure Barkley wasn't going to kick the bucket. The technician reassured us that it would take much more cocoa than what he ate to "take down a dog that size."

The "Biggest Hit of the Evening" Award went hands-down to the Turtle Cookies, followed closely by the Blackberry-Peach Cobbler. I also made a Pecan Pumpkin Spice cake that is actually shaped like a pumpkin. The real recipe calls for a stem and leaves made out of marzipan...too bad the marzipan box actually points you to a website for instructions on how to use it. I'm not sure what that is all about [marketing, probably], but there was no way that I was going to find time to get online for the how-to's. So I just stacked some extra cake scraps into the middle of the cake top, and voila! Makeshift pumpkin stem!

Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I'm sure that most of the folks had a major sugar crash just in time for bed. Unfortunately for Janeen and De'Amon, our friend Troy realized a bit too late that it isn't always a good idea to feed extra cookies to a four year old just before bedtime. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have thought about it either, but maybe that's because I've never had to try to get a little one to bed on five pounds of sugar. Maybe next time I'll use Splenda!

Oh-so-Yummy Turtle Cookie Recipe

2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (may omit if using salted butter)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened (I prefer to use butter flavor Crisco sticks)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. half-and-half
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
8 oz. Mini-Rolo Popables (or regular Rolos cut in half)
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2-1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Combine flour, soda and salt; set aside.
2. Beat together butter and both sugars, until well blended.
3. Mix in egg, half and half and vanilla.
4. Blend in flour mixture until smooth.
5. Stir in, by hand, rolo candies,pecans and chocolate chips.
6. Drop dough by tablespoon onto parchment lined baking sheets (you must use parchment or the caramel will stick like cement to your cookie sheets).
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes until edges are golden brown and center is still slightly soft.
8. Cool on wire rack for a few minutes to allow caramel to set. Enjoy!