Thursday, December 21, 2006

Virgin birth

Check it out!
Virgin birth expected for Komodo dragon in UK zoo

Of course, we recall that "love can't replace a mother and a father."

But nature can. COOL!

And on that note, we are all heading off to do the family thing in California for the holiday. Sadly, Mom-Vicky has to be in Greece, having lost her Dad, Luther's Papou (grandfather), a few weeks ago. Our hearts are very much with her, and we promise not to trash her house while she's gone.

In January, I'll be traipsing up to Toronto and then St. John's to see the Canadian side of the family.

And then when I get home, Luther and I will be looking at exactly what crazy things we want to do for our 2007.

How hard can it be?

Happy holidays, all!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Slavery Controversy

One of the things we talked about at dinner with friends recently was the concept of the "Slave controversy."

To graduate with any degree from a Georgia state college or university, students must learn some Georgia history. Luther had his history from a California college, so he was given the option of taking a "test out," and had to read a study guide for Georgia history. The little book spoke often of the "slave controversy," as if there was any controversy. Slavery, bad. No controversy at all!

Meanwhile I have to admit that the "Tape controversy" continues. Here's the thing: 3M Scotch Gift Tape (Invisible) sucks! Holy smokes, I had no idea, but seriously, it don' stick so good!

I wound up practically begging for the shiny tape Luther originally purchased. And in some cases, I used a stapler.

Invisible tape my ass. If it is invisible by virtue of not being used, why buy it?

ily Luther. Thank you for the tape, and for helping me with the boxes. You rock.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Letter to a friend

My dear friend 4.0,

I'm sorry it has been so long since my last contact. I admit, my thoughts have been so full of other things, I have once again failed to give you the attention you deserve. And here you are again, the end of another long semester, propping me up when my own efforts should have been deemed insufficient at best. All I can say is, thank you.

Remember when I thought I'd lost you forever? I even gave your eulogy! I had so little faith, it seems, but you were stronger than I'd thought possible, and held on, and stayed with me.
The thing is -and I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but... it seems like the longer I have you in my life, the more pressure you put on me. I know you have high standards, and I know you mean well, but sometimes I try to avoid you so that I can relax, put my feet up, have a drink or three, and just get by, you know?

So if I don't seem as attentive as I should, I hope you'll understand. I know I will, when you finally leave me. Maybe... next semester.

Your friend,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Well, whattaya know?

Does anybody really know that they know stuff, that they can do stuff? Because it turns out that I typically just "can do" things, and I don't know that they're special skills until somebody goes wide-eyed and mentions that nobody else can do the same stuff. I mean, I sit there and say, "but... it's easy. It's not hard. Anybody could do it."

Is that normal? Or do most people actually know that they have talents? I wonder what that would be like.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Twenty Questions

Since I'm clearly not writing a novel anytime soon, and the screenplay is going nowhere fast, and the Simplicity comic is still just a bunch of sketches showing no sign whatsoever of developing into actual drawings... I have time for a survey! This one is courtesy of Bill Cameron, who got it from some other fine folks, and so on, and so on...

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
You know it's interesting, but I bought some egg nog recently, on my way home from gift-shopping, thinking that I'd have some nog while setting up the tree, and... it's just not all that great. I mean, I like the taste fine, but it's awfully thick and awfully sweet and in the end I'm wondering... wouldn't I rather have a beer?

That said, egg nog with Mount Gay is the way to go. Alternately, bittersweet hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and a dash of whipped cream. I guess the answer to this first question is, therefore: Both, and I'm clearly a drunk.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa doesn't exist, hello, but when the gift is for the whole household (including myself), it's a useful "from" name to use on the tag.

Presents are always wrapped. Even if you have to cover them with a Mexican blanket, there has to be some "unwrapping" going on, or there's almost no point!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Both on the tree! I like the white lights because they look like little twinkling stars, but I like the colors because they're so festive.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, it already grows on all the trees around here without my help or anything. Fancy that, eh? Mistletoe growing, like, for real and everything!

I get a lot of kisses. *wink*

5. When do you put up your decorations?
When the last of the homework is done, and especially when I'm itching to put some presents out. Have to have somewhere to put them! I put up the little plastic tree this year (just this past weekend), when normally I insist upon a real tree, because we're going to be in California for Christmas and the poor cat will be all alone in the house, and I figured a plastic tree with only the plastic ornaments was the way to go under such tempting circumstances. She's already been under it once, but to be honest I think she was more interested in the presents. I do love the little plastic ornaments...

We do have exterior lights, but man oh man are they a pain, so for the past few years they have just sat in the closet...

6 What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Fruit cake and Wensleydale cheese with port around the fire with Mom and Paul. And whatever they're serving for breakfast the next morning! YUM!

7. Favorite childhood Holiday memory?
This has to be when I bored everybody (Mom especially, I am sure) with a year-long campaign for an electric train set I was sure I could never actually have, and then Christmas came and the entire family got together to give me an N-scale train set. People just kept pulling little packages out of their pockets, and each one was an engine, or a car, or some plastic cows or something, and I got more and more and more excited, and then Dad and Paul went outside together and came back with a huge piece of plywood with a track nailed down to it, all ready to go! And then when we ran the train, a light came on inside the Pennsylvania line passenger car that my sister had given me, and you could see the tiny, tiny people inside, and it was almost like I was on a train trip with them.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
There has never been a Santa. "Santa" is a fun game that we play at Christmas. There are some movies and stuff that go along with the game. Miracle on 34th street was a particularly good little fantasy story.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
More and more often, yes, but I don't really like it. I miss the whole getting up early, all excited Christmas morning thing, and starting with the stockings, everybody in pajamas, and the sun just coming up, and the frost on the windows, and the shiny paper everywhere, and then breakfast and old movies on the television. But it gets harder and harder to find the old movies, and the presents are less and less likely to be toys that one plays with for the rest of the day, and one of us actually has to make the breakfast now, and I've gone and gotten mixed up with someone with a whole different set of traditions, to boot. So... the presents happen whenever, but usually early.

This year will be interesting because we'll be with Luther's brother and family. Sadly, Luther's Mom will be in Greece and not in California, because her father passed away last week. I don't know what Mike and Robin's traditions are, other than the upside-down tree. And what about our presents to each other? Do we open before leaving for California, or do we hold them until New Year's?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
First, the annoying untangling of lights. I wrap them up perfectly nicely when I put them away, but somehow they never come out of the box like that. Then the ornaments one by one. I try to make an event out of it. I like to think about where we got each ornament and what it represents. But this year, like I said, most of the ornaments stayed in the box for safe-keeping and anti-cat-ness. I did hang our souvenir from Greece, though, in Mom-Vicky's honor and in memory of meeting her Dad in Athens a few years ago. It is a simple little brass cut-out of a pomegranate.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it. Of course this is easier to do, now that I never get to see any. I miss shoveling, but I think I would probably die of a heart attack if I actually had to do any.

12. Can you ice skate?
Bill wrote, "Not really. I mean, I can scoot around on skates a bit, but I have a hard time stopping and usually crash into the side of the ice rink. But I think it's very fun, actually." And this is a pretty good description of my relationship with skating, too. I used to be able to get up to a good speed, but that only works if there aren't too many other people skating, because my direction control is a little sketchy...

13. Do you remember your favorite gift for Christmas?
My absolute favorites are two gifts I gave to others:

The first was a tree that my sister and I got for Mom and Paul, when they were in Australia for the holidays but then unexpectedly were coming home in time for Christmas. We found an enormous blue spruce, absolutely gorgeous, and took it to Mom and Paul's house and set it up with lights, and the box of ornaments sitting next to it, ready to be put on the tree, and some champagne and cookies, and a little gift tag with a cartoon of my sister and me hanging on the tree. We got out of there just in time! Mom and Paul got home within a half hour of my leaving, and saw the twinkly lights when they were just getting the door unlocked.

The second was by own Ikea stuffed bear, which I put in a box and sent to Luther, his first Christmas after his marriage broke up, alone in the new little apartment without his kids. Apparently it arrived Christmas Day, and the postman decided to go out and deliver a few last packages so people could have their presents, and so Luther had his bear to hug, and it makes me cry all over again to think of.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Getting a chance to remember what an amazing life I've led, with such an amazing family and wonderful adventures.

Also, the sappy movies.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
I do like pie, yes.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The ornaments on the tree, I think.

17. What tops your tree?
Two stars, when the tree is big enough. One is from my life in Toronto, and the other is from Luther and the aformentioned "new little apartment" and the tree he decorated for his children. But if you read the "love tree" post already, you know all this.

One time, someone (it may have been Luther) asked me about the star on the tree. If I don't believe in God and the whole Christmas story, why the star? I said, "I believe in stars."

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
Yeah, the giving! I love to go all out, I love love love to come up with creative ideas for "just the perfect present." Sadly, this is not always possible, and then I admit to getting a little down. It's just not... as much fun, if I couldn't make them go WOW!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
White Christmas. And lots and lots and lots of Frank.

20. Do you like Candy Canes?
Not really. I'm not a hard candy person. But they sure can be pretty!

Thanks, Bill. :)

Monday, December 11, 2006

No plot? No problem!

I finally got around to getting caught up on my Optimist Realist reading the other day, and was amused to read about James Koole's six-word memoir. Six words!

How the heck does one do this? Mine could be... "Grew. How hard could it be?"

James came across the memoir-writing contest at a site called NaNoWriMo, for National Novel Writing Month -which apparently was all of November. I didn't even know there was a National Novel Writing Month, and now I've gone and missed it!

Still, my novel-writing prospects are looking up: As many of you know, I am plot-challenged, so the idea of actually sitting down and writing a novel pretty much sends me running. NaNoWriMo apparently has a solution for me:

Sounds good. Amazon has it, even. And after all, plot or no plot...
...yeah, yeah. How hard can it be?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's beginning to feel a lot like... What the HELL?!

Luther bought some scotch tape recently, because we were almost out. He didn't actually say, "and it's the Christmas season, and we'll be wrapping presents," but that was definitely what my mind conjured up when he mentioned the fresh rolls of tape in the drawer.

Today, I wrapped a couple of presents, and OH MY FREAKIN' GOD.

He didn't buy invisible tape.

Who the hell buys anything but invisible tape? Come to think of it, why do the tape people still make the non-invisible tape?


I fail to understand. I'm just sitting here, looking at these shiny blue and silver presents with the shiny strips of tape on them and shaking my head. What has the world come to?!

Also, I am printing the cards. If you must have a card, please send me your mailing address. I'm thinking my blog readership is very close to nil (but not nil, thank you, Jason), but all the same, it's a way to get the word out. If I don't have your address, I can't possibly dis you by failing to send you one of our cards.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In the family way

Normally I really don't care to read what amounts to gossip about Mary Cheney, VP Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. But there wasn't any other interesting news, and I had to read something. This quote caught my eye, in an article on

"Love can't replace a mother and a father."

That's right. Because a committed, well-educated couple that will love and care for their child cannot ever, under any circumstances, be considered worthwhile unless it looks exactly like the ideal mommy-daddy family. It's the image that matters, not the child.

I don't get it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Forty Helens agree (but only one matters)

I have some really cool friends. Truth be told, a great many of them are people I rarely talk to, and this makes me sad, but at the same time honored. I know that part of why these are such great friendships is that if we go for a year or more without talking, we are still friends for life. One night at the Dip in Toronto with these people is enough to reaffirm something that will make me proud when I'm 90, and something that when shared with Luther, is enough to make the boy jealous... and thrilled at the same time. Thank you, my fine friends.

But I gotta take a moment to recognize the bizarre and horrific accident that is Helen Ferreira.

Helen was already working at Mag North when I started there years ago. I believe we first met in the tape room. Me, a late-twenties white chick with dreadlocks' she, a much younger Portuguese woman with hair out of a shampoo commercial.

It was only natural we should become friends.

Helen is caustic. That is the word. And uses a lot of syllables when she writes, but not so much when she talks. She can handle quite a few chocolate martinis, but sadly not quite as many as she drinks, upon occasion. And she is a gift queen.

Now understand, gifts are like... the meaning of life in my universe. Yup. To really show someone you care, you give a gift. To show you don't care, send a Hallmark card with nothing written in it.

Hallmark really wants you to believe the purchase is the gift, but here's the thing: It really is the thought that counts.

Once, Helen gave me some free plane tickets! Okay, so it was one of those timeshare things, but she'd tested it out and it wasn't going to be too annoying. Luther, me, and Luther's two boys went to Florida for more than a week. We went to Orlando and to Cocoa Beach. And of course we drove there, but our hotel? Paid for by Helen.

Today, we got a big box. Helen is living in London, England, and is working on her fantastic career in television and doing the crazy dating scene and being very far away... but Helen "couldn't resist" (her words) and sent us....


I mean, it is foul!

But it came accompanied by the most to-die-for gourmet cookies, that...

Let me explain it this way: I am not actually all that keen on chocolate. Okay, relax, sit down, of course I enjoy chocolate, but yeah, I'm one of those truly unusual persons, I don't actually think of it as all that special. But there are some fudge chocolate cookies in this set that Helen sent to us... and um...

HOLY CRAP these are good!


Helen Ferreira, ladies and gentlemen. She has the best hair in the whole world, is apparently an up-and-coming producer-type for Discover, and from London seems to be able to identify just the right gourmet bakery in Ohio, in order to send treats to Georgia.

I'm writing her number on all bathroom walls from this day forward.

That is all.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The electric squirrel effect

Here's something kinda cool: Right now, we are online courtesy of our minivan.

A few minutes ago there was a very loud BANG! and all our power went out. The whole neighborhood, in fact. Luther took it as an opportunity to test some equipment.

We get some big storms here, and we also have some really stupid squirrels. I don't really know why Toronto squirrels never blew up power sources at the same frequency as these Southern squirrels do, but there you have it. We are one squirrel down in Miller Hills, and the power is out, and there are bits of leg and a tail remaining on a cross bar at the top of a light pole out there.

Given the possibility of something larger than a squirrel taking out our power (you know, something like a hurricane), Luther a while back bought a little power converter, and today we are testing it out! The van is running, and the little box is hooked up. An extension cord leads from the van to a power strip in the den, where we've plugged in our cable modem and wireless router. Then another extension cord runs upstairs, where we've plugged in our laptops, though of course we could have done just fine with batteries for a little while.

And then *blink* look at that. Power is back.

But it's nice to know next time we have a hurricane, we can still recharge our laptop batteries. The cable would probably be out (something we didn't have to worry about today), so there'd be no highspeed internet. But we could get the homework done, at least.

Just another strange little snippet of life with Bekbek in the South. The electric squirrel effect. I'm thinking... BAND NAME!

Clotted cream

In case you really just haven't been listening, I have gained an enormous amount of weight since moving to the States. Now mind you, this is a period of almost seven years (wow!), so it's not like I came here and just ballooned overnight. And it must also be noted that I was not exactly svelte for most of my adult life in Toronto. But in the end (and the middle, quite a bit), I'm just outright fat now, and although I will acknowledge a good life that includes quite a bit of yummy beer, I blame the weight entirely on one thing: The automobile.

Last time I was in Toronto, I discovered that I was actually huffing and puffing a bit as I trekked around town. Of course I had reverted to my usual walking speed, which Luther says is much too fast. And of course I used transit and thoroughly enjoyed being back in my own element, where I know how to get from A to B and how to do so with a free stop (no extra token required) in order to pick up that bottle of wine on my way home. But on this last visit, it was clear that my body was no longer up to city life. It was shocking, to say the least.

More shocking still was a walk up some stairs the other day, when I was carrying my computer and my lunch pail, and I felt the stairs in my calves and my thighs, and got to the top a bit flushed and even light headed. What the hell?

All of a sudden I realized that on top of the walking that is normal in Toronto -because there is plenty of transit, but the bus doesn't pick you up at your door, and the subway is below the ground- there is the carrying to be considered. I never used a car (I didn't know how to drive, in fact), so not only did I walk a whole lot at a decent speed (because I wasn't walking to enjoy a walk, I was walking to get somewhere), but I carried everything I needed.

For those of you who drive daily, think for a moment about how much stuff you tend to have with you at any given time. Purse, maybe, if you're one of those girly types. Bag of books if you're a student. Mug full of coffee, or bottle of water, possibly a big bottle of water if you're spending the day out and about. Wallet, comb or hairbrush. Bottle of wine if you're on your way to that dinner party. Groceries you picked up on your way home. Four six-foot-long boards with which to build your brick-and-board bookcase in your new apartment. You get the picture.

I didn't just walk. I carried.

So here's the thing. In Toronto, I ate really well. It's hard not to eat well in a city so favored by fantastic restaurants and markets. I drank quite a bit, thank you. And I rarely exercised, if ever. I was not svelte, to be sure, but I was not a damn heffer either!

Next time I hear someone prattle on about improving their quality of life by getting out of the city, I'm going to give them quite a piece of my mind, I tell you. Yay, country life! Where you can become a very happy dumpling.

All of which came to mind sharply this morning as I was browsing some gift possibilities online, and came across a store that sells clotted cream. I was introduced to this delicacy at an impressionable age, and it remains the epitomy of fucking delicious in my mind to this day. A nice, fresh scone. A little dab of strawberry jam. And a generous dollop of clotted cream. The cream isn't sweetened. It's just cream, and it's rich, and incredible.

I won't be ordering any. Not until I have to once again walk to the store. At which point... I'll probably be somewhere that I can buy the cream in person.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Neither patience nor politics are possible for the sleep-deprived

This past week, I had a team project due in my Web Design class, worth a measely 35% of my final grade. Eh. How hard can it be?

Meanwhile I had an instructor's manual to proof and format. And my coworker at my day job was sick all week, so I was running two workstations. There was no time to sleep, and when I tried, I had a tendency to stay awake, fretting about this or that. Not least of the fret points was worry about Luther, worry about his having the support he needs to pursue his own studies, and frustration over Wil, who currently just doesn't do too much of value unless someone tells him point blank to do it and then continues to ask him about it if he is to continue doing it.

I'm not supposed to care. I told Luther I was done with caring. But it turns out, wishing doesn't make it so. Dammit.

Anyway, so the thing is, I've just been going on less and less sleep. Remember the good old days, when we got up after two hours of sleep and went to the dirty set, and shot some more until we felt like we were going to die, and then we did some more after that? Yeah. I'm not so much for that behavior now. I've gone all wimpy.

But truth be told, in those days, I didn't ever have to hold my tongue. That was not part of the deal, and it's a good thing because that's really stressful. And here in middle Georgia, I can't even wear jeans to work, so you know I can't say "fuck you" when I want to. Heck, I'm not even supposed to give my honest opinion most of the time.

And when I'm really tired, I kinda lose control of that aspect.

Two days ago, one of my coworkers was -yet again- mimicking an "Indian" customer service voice. You would not believe how often Americans bitch about this. They don't care about the fucking jobs, they just hate foreigners. Why should they have to put up with that "foreign" stuff? Ugh. So this guy I work with is doing a horrible job at putting on an Indian accent, and he says every other word was completely unintelligible.

To which I responded, "Oh yeah, I know what you mean! When I first came to Georgia, I could not understand a word these people were saying, good Lord, why don't they learn to speak English in Georgia?"

And I might add, it's true. I can't understand these people, even now. It's mostly okay in person, but I am truly grateful that Dell outsources its customer service overseas. If Dell hired Southerners for the job, Dell would go out of business within a week.

But that's the thing. Southerners don't actually pronounce English words as they were intended to be pronounced, but somehow that's okay, but the Indian guy on the phone, his inability to pronounce a few words is just inexcusable.


I proceeded to refer to my coworker as a foreigner. All you foreigners, I can't understand you. And that's when he really got offended. Up and down the hall he's exclaiming, Can you believe what Becky said? She called me a foreigner! Me!

You'd all be so proud of me. I came out of my office and walked past him saying, "Oh Bob, we're all foreigners in the Kingdom of Heaven."

So the next day, I've had even less sleep, right? And I was all by myself at work until one of my other coworkers came in for a little while, to check his email and so forth. And he likes to comment on Canadian news, usually in a pretty derogatory way, and what's surprising is that it took him this long to bring up the recent kerfuffle with Quebec and the Quebec nation and all that jazz, but yesterday he finally did it, and then proceeded to say that nobody likes Quebec, right?

I like Quebec. I'm quite fond of it. I'm very proud, in fact, to be from a country that has two languages, and quite ashamed that I don't speak the second one fluently. So I told him this, and he was suprised, and I said, "Well, I also like France," because I know how Americans love the French and all.

Off he goes, ranting about the arrogant French.

And I said, "I know! They think they're the center of the world or something, when we all know that's Americans."

He's no stranger to sarcasm, this coworker of mine, so he shifts gears and produces his "evidence" of how nasty the French are. He went there on a trip, and he actually tried to speak French, and he got sneered at.

Sneered at.

And I said something like, "I know! It's just like when some dumbass foreigner comes to the States and doesn't learn how to speak proper English! Gah! Learn to speak English, you dumbass! I mean, it's okay if you speak like a Southerner, because 'alls you know is you kin speak English better than them dirty Mayxicans,' because that's right'n'proper English, eh? But foreigners making their lame attempts at a second, third, fourth, or fifth language? I'd sneer at them too!"

He sort of backed down and then defended himself by saying he just didn't like how the French were "uppity." Uppity. That's right, those French people refuse to recognize their place. They keep acting like they actually have something to be proud of. Pfft. Nasty French people, not recognizing that Americans are the best.


I may actually lose my job shortly. But I finally got some sleep last night.

Life is good.