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Rules of Etiquette, Lesson Two

This series of posts was inspired by my discovery of Victorian rules of etiquette. The following is a rule concerning calling cards, and when to share them. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, they are similar to business cards, but are used by individuals. A husband and wife would have their own calling cards, and there were strict guidelines to be followed in their distribution to avoid a social faux pas.

Although we no longer use calling cards at social occasions, having hosted many parties through Evite, I found this one to be relevant to today’s world:

“Calls should be paid within a week after the receipt of invitations to a dinner party.”

In those days, your calling card would serve as your R.S.V.P., with a note explaining your acceptance or rejection of the event in the form of a courteous explanation. While I realize that current day logistics may prevent people from responding to Evites within a week, frequently having had a quarter or more of the invitees not respond ever is a bit of stress on the host and hostess. You have no idea if those people may show up and then expend funds to ensure there is enough to cover the largest pool of attendees possible. It is then double disappointing when they don’t come.

Family Friends Household No Whining Our Kids Soulful

Flooded And Contemplative

Because we’ll be going into a smaller home, I’ve been going through each box and doing a major purge. I’m finding things I haven’t seen since my kids were babies, and am also packing up things for my Ex as I come across them. I don’t believe there is much of that stuff left, since I’ve done searches in previous years. I keep finding myself teary eyed as I find a story or piece of art work from my sweet boys and am keeping the most special of those. I hope to scan them later, as some are really gorgeous.

I find myself puzzled with what to do with some of my memorabilia. I’ll be scanning newspaper clippings and the like, but some things, like my ballet costumes from elementary school days? My baptism gown and candle? The wedding dress, album and cards from my marriage to the father of my children? I’ve got all the jewelry put away for the boys in case they want it, but I don’t think they will EVER care about that other stuff. Photographs are scanned or being scanned as part of a project for my entire multi-thousand photo family archive, which I know will some day mean quite a lot to them. But it’s not like I have daughters, and there’s no guarantee that even girls would want to inherit my old tutu’s.

Looking at the ballet costumes, I wonder if that’s where my love of fairies and Italy came from, as my ballet class did performances representing both. Sadly, I no longer have my white jumpsuit from my tap and jazz performance of “Disco Duck.” I loved the dance classes, but gave them up because the ballet toe shoes intimidated me, and I wish I could go back and tell that little girl to balls up and give it a try. After seeing all the classes that friend Laura Burns is taking, I’ve added ballet classes to my wish list. We can’t afford them now, but … some day.

On Saturday afternoon, overwhelmed with another migraine and our house in complete disarray, we decided to skip the box-by-box purge for now. As I mentioned previously, it’s now about speed to market. I’m hoping to be moving furniture on Monday or Tuesday at the latest, with help from my son and nephew (I hope!).

It’s 1:30 in the morning, and I’m taking a break from packing. I’ve had a migraine most of the day, and it finally eased. Chooch and Naughty Bear are asleep as normal people should be, but I am playing catch-up for lost days due to the migraines (yesterday and today).

The break is not due to physical need, it’s because of emotional need. I’m surprised at how much difficulty I’m having as I pack up the little things: gifted fairies, figurines painted by our family, Serenity figurines, books and all the things that make this house our home. I knew it would be tough to pack away photos of loved ones, especially those no longer with us. I am keeping my digital photo frame, so I can turn it on when I’m missing the personality of the place and keep it off the rest of the time.

Part of it is seeing the mix of things from before we started podcasting and entered this amazing community, and things after we met some amazing people that now reside in our hearts. Adding to the shelves over the years was fun, be it books, figurines or memorabilia from conventions and gatherings. Seeing these items spread out is fascinating. It’s like finding the dividing line between layers of rock, there is a clear delineation of these times in our lives (like after a comet smashes into the Earth).

I look at some of the items that I’ve had on display for years with new eyes and wonder if it truly fits who we are today. Nothing will be gotten rid of yet, we’ll make those decisions as we unpack at the next place. It is interesting to see how much and adult can evolve in six years. Changing interests as my experiences changed and allowing more of my own personal style into the backdrop of our home where once I hid it away as being “too feminine” in a house full of males. Amazing what a supportive mate can bring out in you, as I look at some of these things and know that they represent events, people and experiences that would have never, and I do mean never, happened without his influence.


Edit: It’s now Tuesday evening, and the initial, main-level packing is done. The furniture has been moved and I do not like it. The time until we (hopefully) sell will feel like forever, as this is not the home we’ve built up over the last six years. I’m bummed about it right now, and shocked every time I move from room to room. I know that will fade, especially when we finish moving things around and add generic touches.

Still, I miss our silly belongings. They seem oh, so, silly, compared to the decor in friends houses. But we love our toys and our webcomic statues and prints. Having a signed box by the dev’s at Lord of the Rings Online? That resided in a place of honor on our bookshelf, right next to the “Cardboard Tube Samurai” and “Big Damn Hero – River” figurines. That shelf was directly above the one a half shelves of signed books, CD’s and DVD’s from podcast authors, signed authors, musicians and creatives. THAT was hard to pack away as well.

And I miss the faces of our friends and family with all the pictures down. Generic only, remember?  I’m updating the digital photo frame and will keep it on when I’m home so I don’t lose my place in the world.

Seeing Kaylee move around in our space and watching her try to make sense of the changes is strangely reassuring to me. Our little piece of the world has changed, and hopefully it will lead to better things. I don’t mean to be emo, just reflective of how silly it is that these material items being a couple miles away in boxes can throw me for such a loop. Gonna have to examine that, methinks. Lord knows, there are bigger things afoot in the world.


Household No Whining Soulful

Move Update, aka Progress

We have a realtor, and I’m so glad I asked for three to interview instead of the standard two. The first two had pros and cons and were very nearly exact opposites. The third one hit all our important issues, experience and personality that made us way more comfortable then we had been with the other two. We’ve made the Goldilocks comparison more than once.

We’ve signed the paperwork and our house is a wreck right now as I’m going through and depersonalizing and staging the house for listing. The point of depersonalizing  is to remove your presence (photos and “personality”) so potential buyers can imagine their own family in the home. For staging, the first step is to declutter, which follows the depersonalizing nicely. You remove excess furniture to show how much space is available.

My son and nephew were here for two days to help out, but I ran out of things for them to do until either the weather turns sunny or until I get more boxes purged. We’ve already made a big difference in the basement and have some things moved to storage, but there’s so much more to do it’s really overwhelming. With hubby’s work and band schedule, it doesn’t leave much time for him to help. And I don’t want him breaking his back every day of the week so we’re trying to build in a few hours of fun each weekend. Plus it will keep us sane. Hopefully.

We don’t have the budget to paint or re-carpet, so I’m not sure how this will go but financially, we really must downsize. There will be general fixes and LOTS of furniture moved. I’m hoping this doesn’t drag on all summer so we can enjoy LT’s visit as fully as possible, and more importantly avoid some less than pleasant financial situations.

I’ve been working for about two weeks straight, with a few breaks for sanity, and my body is showing some serious wear and tear. The fatigue is intense, and even with the sleep aid I’m not getting much rest. Because of this and a need to get the house on the market ASAP, we’ve just now decided to make the big furniture moves this week and save the box by box purge to do later, after the house is on the market. I’ll finish what I’ve started, which is the kids’ childhood memorabilia, and then just start moving un-purged boxes to storage, keeping them separate so I can work on them as I’m able while waiting for the house to sell.

Basement doom in my living room

Luckily, we have wonderful and supportive friends and family to buoy our spirits and lend helping hands. It’s another time where I’m overjoyed by the blessings in our lives.

I plan on doing a more detailed post very soon on house staging for sale. For now, I must get back to work. *tick*tock*tick*tock*

Definitions You Know No Whining Too Long For Twitter

Definitions You Know: Hypocrisy

As I mentioned with the start of the  Rules of Etiquette series, there is a second series that I want to start posting. It will simply gives definitions for unusual words. The impetus was my WordFeud obsession (pre-Words with Friends for the Droid market, and still my favorite of the two). There will be plenty of those, but not all will be word game useful because I decided to also share definitions of words that are commonly misused or misunderstood.

Like the Rules of Etiquette posts, I may or may not detail beyond the definition, depending on my mood.

For the first in the series, I’m choosing a word that nearly everyone I know, including myself, has been guilty of at one point or another in their life.

Photo by Susan Z. Click on the photo to go to her Flickr stream.


  1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
  2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.
  3. an act or instance of hypocrisy.

I think it’s possible that in this society, it’s necessary to build oneself up or conceal desires from others because many of us live our lives publicly, either in social media or in meat space interactions. And like most, I don’t always recognize when I’m doing it. When I do, I admit to myself and others when I discover I’m being hypocritical, and work hard to put an end to it.

At this point in my life, I’m struggling with putting aside others’ opinions of me and embracing who I am, so-called warts and all. I’m hoping to shed most, if not all hypocrisy in my life because it is such a waste of time and energy.

Anyone else willing to admit to an instance of their own hypocrisy? You don’t have to give details. Just admitting it is a huge step, in my book.

Family No Whining Soulful

Twitterpated Over Baby M

No, this is not about Twitter. It’s about that feeling described in Bambi:

Thumper: Why are they acting that way?
Friend Owl: Why, don’t you know? They’re twitterpated.
Flower, Bambi, Thumper: Twitterpated?
Friend Owl: Yes. Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: You’re walking along, minding your own business. You’re looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. Woo-woo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head’s in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you’re walking on air. And then you know what? You’re knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head!

That’s the way I’m feeling now, having laid my eyes on my sweet niece’s daughter. Many thanks to technology for that amazing feat.

This is my niece’s second child, and her sweet little family lives 2,000 miles away. My sweet, great-nephew, Baby J, will now be Big Brother J. Judging by the video of him dancing two days ago, he’s not really a baby anymore, so this is appropriate. He turns three in July, so my niece, who I nicknamed Lil’ Mama (LM) long ago, will have her hands full. A family friend is going up there to help out, and then they drive back together mid-April. It will be almost a year since we last saw them, and our first meeting of Baby M. It’s the longest any of us have been apart since we met LM and her sister almost twenty years ago when my brother started dating their mom. It’s been killing local family members to be so far away.


Friend Owl: Same thing every spring. “Tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet! Tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet!” Love’s sweet song. Hm! Pain in the pinfeathers, I call it!


Baby M and her mother are doing well, Praise Baby Jesus for the safe delivery via c-section. They are surrounded in love from all around the country, and I’m thrilled that LM’s sister is there to take pictures and keep us updated.


Baby M, shortly after arrival. I'm in LURVE!

Welcome to the family, Sweet One. You’ve been long awaited and will be utterly spoiled. Can’t wait to hold you in my arms next month. I’ll try my best not to get any tears of joy on you. No promises.

Consumer Info Convention Attendance Cool Links / Clicky Linky Friends

Useful Find for Travelers with Style

My husband and I have been overnight guests of friends quite a lot recently. At this point, the most time consuming part of packing is getting my usual grooming needs organized, partly because the big bottles take up so much space. I’ve gotten the cheap mini-bottles from Target before, but they aren’t labeled clearly enough to be useful or are cheap and fall apart quickly.

For a separate reason, I was wandering about in my dear friend’s nineteenOthree Etsy Store. She crafts beautiful boxes and travel cases, and I was hoping to have a peek at what she’s preparing for her booth at Balticon. While there, I discovered these bottles, and treated myself to them.

They are beautifully designed, but more importantly the full set of six manages all of my beauty product mischief. The labels are waterproof and clearly labeled, so even with soap in my eyes I should be able to tell the conditioner from the facial cleanser.

The photo below shows the set that I ordered, and they are perfectly sized for a long weekend away at a convention and even meet FAA requirements for liquid container size.  The care in packing and wrapping made it a treat to open, and although I’ve not yet used them, I’m already impressed with the quality of the product and recommend to any with such a need.

Click on the photo to go to Mia's Etsy Shop


I suggest you head over to nineteenOthree Etsy Store to peruse Mia’s beautiful inventory of cases, bottles and boxes, especially if steampunk or the Edwardian age call to your sense of style.

You will also find her selling her beautifully embellished wares at Balticon, Memorial Day Weekend. Bon voyage!


Friends Kids No Whining Soulful Too Long For Twitter

Bathroom Epiphany

Three days ago, I was at a Super Target helping a magnificent woman herd two young children as we shopped for my husband’s birthday party. The spins and brain fog had me in their grip and I was feeling more like a hindrance than a help. While taking a snack break during our wait for reinforcements of the fatherly persuasion in the store cafe, I made a break for a tinkle and a quiet moment. No matter how well behaved and beautiful children are, they just flat-out exhaust me in the most delightful way. (My jaws were sore from laughing and smiling so much at their antics!)

While making like Tinkle Bell, I noticed the style of shoes under the next stall. I wondered what the rest of her looked like, and imagined her to be someone that had an appearance that would make others turn away. Having been a gal that dressed… strangely… in my teens, I remembered the looks of disgust and eye rolling that would occur. People would assume I was a juvenile delinquent and possibly even a drug addict just because my blue black hair shot out in an unnatural way and my pale white skin, black painted eyes and bright red lips and streaked hair looked different from the way the 80’s pop culture dictated. Throw on vintage clothing and jewelry, rhinestone dog collars and my little sister’s toys strung as earrings and it was an interesting look.

In my small Texas town, my friends and I were definitely looked upon as if we weren’t normal, but rather some sort of mutant. We were gleeful, as it meant we didn’t fit in with the cowboy hat/giant beltbuckled or bleached/permed/tanned.  I’m hopeful that it’s more acceptable now, with stores like Hot Topic making it so much easier to attain the mass produced items, and people dressed in this way are certainly more prevalent.

But people may still be asking, as they did in when I was doing it, “Why would someone go to such lengths to make themselves look unattractive (by society’s standards)?” Speaking for myself, that’s a long story and would rely on introspection and speculation on someone that I no longer am, so I won’t bore you (or me) with that.

I will reveal that my friends and I laughed at the derision from those that worked extremely hard to make themselves attractive to everyone, thus turning into carbon copies of each other. As they did, we took great pride in how we looked, but still, hello hypocrisy! We were judging them for looking normal just as they were judging us for looking different.

Still in the stall, I grabbed my camera phone, made sure it was silent and took this photo to document that, no matter how someone dresses or how different or bad-ass they may appear, they are human. We’re all here, sharing this space and going about our lives. We do the best we can as we deal with emotional, physical, psychological and  biological needs.

So the next time you feel like mocking someone for dressing differently, being too tall, being too fat, or holding different beliefs or values than you, just remember there’s a real person in there. And probably a really magnificent one, if given half the chance. After all, everybody tinkles.

Edit: I actually took this photo a few weeks ago with my camera phone, but it sat forgotten until today. I giggled at my forgetfulness, because when I was in the environment that allowed the shot I was immediately struck by  a NEED to behave crassly and take the photo. Meeting at the sinks after our business was finished, she was a woman, and we discussed her love of Gir and Invader Zim, as evidenced by her t-shirt, hoodie and messenger bag. My kinda gal, to be sure.

Firsts No Whining Rules of Etiquette

Rules of Etiquette, Lesson One

I have two continuing series that I’ve been toying with, and this is the first I’ve decided to jump into. I don’t intend to post those I find to be sexist or bigoted, unless they are so ridiculous that they must be pointed out to (hopefully) show progress made.

Expect them to be brief, as I find little nuggets to share along my way. I may or may not have further comment beyond the quote, but I believe this one speaks for itself.

“Beware of meddlers and tale bearers.”


Chooch Consumer Info Household No Whining

Relocating Casa de Blender

We’ve been talking about moving for a long while now, but have been putting it off for a multitude of reasons. The biggest being our hopes that some treatment would actually work for me, that I’d be able to return to work, and our money problems would be eased. Since that hasn’t happened, and since I’m still seeking effective and/or consistent relief, we no longer have a choice. Our finances just can’t bear the situation we find ourselves in. No, you won’t find a chip-in donation site at the end of this, nor is this a plea for sympathy. I realize our situation is very similar to one that many find themselves in. I just wanted to update near and far friends on our situation since we’ve been tweeting about interviewing realtors and getting the house ready to sell.

I’ve found that since we plan on getting a house roughly half the size of our current home, we’ll very likely be able to live much closer to Chooch’s job. Besides a cheaper housing payment, it would save a substantial amount of money on gas (based on current and projected gas costs for this year and next), as well as wear and tear on the cars. Plus, the time he would recoup is astonishing. Not only will he be going from a 3 hour a day commute to less than an hour, he won’t have to miss a full day’s worth of work to take me to doctor appointments. Win!

Our bank/insurance company has a great program for buying/selling, so I contacted them and got referrals. I spoke with three realtors and spent Wednesday through Saturday morning purging junk and cleaning house. I was slowed by a few migraines and a dizzy spell, but still managed to make some decent progress. First steps anyway, we’ve still a ton to do.

We interviewed two realtors today, and have another scheduled tomorrow. After that, we select our realtor and begin the serious purge to empty out the house and get to staging it for showing. I’m a bit overwhelmed working on all this, but am rewarding myself with brief glimpses at potential properties closer to hubby’s work. I’m the type of mule that is very much motivated by a carrot at the end of a stick and seeing what’s out there in our lower price range is definitely helping. It won’t be huge or grand, but we’ll make it a home.

We’ll definitely be renting and not buying. You can’t feel trapped in a house the way we do (because of the current market) and immediately jump into another 30 year commitment. Plus, it will be nice to not have to pay for all the surprise repairs, such as the roof tiles and other stuff that cost us over $600 last month. And our happy surprise moments before Realtor 1 arrived? The dryer is not working now.

So if I seem extra cranky or tired, bear with me a bit. The reason we moved into our current home is five years gone, and this empty nest is too expensive to keep. For those in a similar situation, I wish you the best of luck. As we are now learning first hand just how nasty things are out there, we are also learning that there is hope. We’ve got our fingers, toes and eyes crossed on this one and we’re hoping for the best.

So that’s about it. I may detail our process in more detail, I may not. I’m not expecting it to be something I will ever want to read again, but if others can learn from us then I guess it would be worth it.

I’d love to be moved by the time LT gets here in June so we can maximize fun and minimize moving chaos during his time here, but I’m sure that’s just wishful thinking. A gal’s gotta hope, right?

Friends No Whining Soulful

Blast From the Past

So… Facebook. I have two accounts, like many in social media. One is for folks I meet through podcasting, Twitter, conventions and the like. The other is for family, and on extremely rare occasion, friends from waaaaaay back when.

I grew up in a small town in Texas, not Last Picture Show small, but not big either. Like many that run in my circles, I was somewhat of an outsider. Not completely, as I had friends in the different groups that ran the halls, but I kept my social circle pretty small. I’ve kept that tradition, unwittingly, by only allowing a few people into my FB page. My thought is that if we barely spoke back then, why on Earth do we need to know what is going on with each other now? Maybe that’s small-minded, but I just don’t feel the need to share my private world with everyone I ever walked past. I probably have less than 60 in the fam account, and I’d guess 95% to family.

I recently got a friend request from someone that was extremely important in my life, from 14 to 17-ish. We were the very best of friends and totally committed to each other. We joked about moving off to England together when we both graduated (he was a grade above me), because THAT was where the great music was being made and we were sick of the Bruce Springsteen/Whitney Houston crap. We also decided we didn’t want to grow old, so had a “pact” to kill each other when we turned 35. That was obviously made in jest, and it still amuses me now at the age of (almost) 42.

My family didn’t have a lot of money, and while he didn’t buy me stacks of gifts, he always somehow found a way to gift the most coveted items in my heart, nearly all import vinyls of my favorite artists. For those born in the CD-only era, the term “vinyls” denotes albums, either conventional release or EP’s – extended play versions of songs. My favorites were the multi-colored or transparent that added another level of magnificence to the experience of dropping the needle, ever so gently, on the record.

His parents were older than any of my other friends’ parents. Because of this, we pretty much got to do what we wanted and understandably spent a lot of time at his place. His father was extremely kind and always made sure to store my favorite soda (Pepsi or Grape) and snacks. Otherwise, he stayed to himself. His mother was extraordinary. She had been a teacher, and after retirement continued educating children in the church they attended. She was generous, loving, kind-hearted and always seemed to be on the go. Because she seemed so much older than my Mom, and because my last grandparent had died when I was 6, she had a special Grandmom-ish role in my life. I doubt that I ever told … let’s call him ‘Kick Ass’ … that for fear of insulting him over her age. But I loved her very much.

Over what in hindsight seems like an extremely short period of time, she had multiple strokes. At one point, she had lost the ability to read. It broke my heart, for this woman who taught countless children to read, to see her struggle with the newspaper. So I sat with her while she read the headlines, over and over. The headlines changed nearly every time she read it. But she was beyond re-learning, and I just re-assured her that she was doing a great job. She would smile and start over again. What else could I do? The woman that we loved was mostly vacant, child-like, sweet and loving. I couldn’t break her heart and tell her she couldn’t read. She finally succumbed shortly thereafter, and it was a devastating blow to all who knew her.

I’ve thought of her many times over the years, with both love and sadness. To know that an exuberant and brilliant woman could be brought down so quickly, in mere moments, absolutely haunted me. I think it contributed to my “worst case scenario” planning needs. More than a dozen times a month you can hear me say “Lookit, if I get hit by a truck tomorrow, you need to know where this paperwork is” or something along those lines. Yes, that tendency was exaggerated by LT’s sudden illness at six, and NB’s car accident at 12, and my Mom’s recurrence of breast cancer that stole her health, her mind, and finally her life.

Life is short, and I intend to waste as little of it as possible and hope that I leave things in good enough order that my family can move on with grieving rather than chasing down details. I’m watching a new friend go through that, and it has getting our will written as a huge priority.

Kick Ass and I had some stupid falling out, something about a Depeche Mode concert or some foolishness. I honestly don’t remember, but our friendship fizzled after that. We went our separate ways, and I eventually moved to Virginia. We had one phone call that I can remember, shortly before or right after I married my now ex-husband. It was a weird passage through time, but it was cool to catch up.

I’ve looked for him a few times, and then had a friend request from him. After I accepted it, I got this message:

“hey there Miss Kitten. Facebook has connected me with so many folks from the past (honestly, some i don’t even remember). but the first person i hunted for was YOU.

you and i had some brilliant times and discovered alot of fantastic music-inspired a mini-revolution of black clad mascaraed followers at (redacted). i still dearly love you, an…d when i stumble across pictures of us together, i suspect that i would not be the no-bullshit, take-no-prisoners, f*ck-right-off man i am today without you. if you ever need me-i will come for you.

XoXo, K.”

I was speechless. The thought that someone I hadn’t spoken to in 20 years could still feel that way about me really confused and flattered me.  In the emails back and forth, learning about each other and our lives as they now exist, it became clear he really felt that way. It’s brought back crazy memories from our fun and melodramatic high school days. You remember those, right? When every little thing was a huge drama? Looking back at what we’ve been through in the intervening years, it’s really hard not to giggle at those things we once thought were so big.

I feel blessed to have him back in my life, even if this was just a burst and we drop out of touch again. His message sort of removed the mist that surrounded my memory of myself. I used to be pretty bad ass, and not many people used to mess with me because I was quick to bring it right back to them. Motherhood has softened me, as well as maturity, certainly. I guess I’m a pretty easy target these days as I don’t typically fight back publicly. I still keep my friends in large number, but my besties in low number. How many times can you get hurt before you remember to wear your armor, after all? I keep my private business private, and try to find joy where I can.

Ironically, that seems to be where he’s at. And he’s still so balls-to-the-wall bold, knowing exactly what he wants and going for it, taking crap from no one. It seems I have more to learn from him, and I hope for more time with him. I don’t know how to make it happen as he lives quite far, but I feel a need to reach out and hug him and to see for myself that he’s okay.

We’ll be talking again soon. He warned me of a new video game arriving, and he expected to be spending every waking, non-working moment on it, so great is his excitement. The gamer in me adores that.

You know, when I was trying to think of a pseudonym to use for him (his initials being K.A.), Kick Ass immediately came to mind. I think if I’d spent hours reflecting on it, that’s exactly what I’d have settled on. <3