Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Night Delight

I was getting ready to go to bed about an hour ago when my phone rang.  On the other end was a friend of mine who had taken her dog for a late night walk downtown.  Her route took her along main street and right by a building that I'm responsible for cleaning.  This is the conversation.

Her: "Um, you know that place you clean?"
Me: "Uh-huh, what about it?"
Her: "I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you might want to come down here."
Me: "Why?  Please don't tell me that someone has broken in."
Her: "Noooooo, not that, it's just, um..."
Me: "Yes?"
Her: "Someone's puked all down the front door and it smells really bad."
Me: "Awesome, thanks, talk to you later."

So I got dressed, pulled on some shoes and drove down to clean it up.  Who doesn't love having to leave their house on a Sunday night to go and clean up half masticated french fries in congealed orangish pink goo that some delightful stranger left for them?  Luckily for me it wasn't quite as bad as she'd made it out to be, but let's face it, it's vomit and it was disgusting. 

Exhibit A
Side note, one of the many reason I have not had a child of my own yet is that I'm one of those horribly selfish people who have no desire to clean up someone else's vomit on a fairly regular basis.  It makes me want to vomit and that is an ugly cycle you don't want to engage in. 

The point of this little story is that I want to publicly thank this random citizen for making my Sunday evening so wonderful.  You seriously couldn't have dodged a couple feet in the other direction to vomit into the tree grate on the other side of the sidewalk, where it would have been watered into the ground below?  Or even to the gutter on the street where the street cleaning machine would take care of it?  Nope, you had to vomit right by this door and I had to clean it up.

Exhibit B
The bodily fluid deposited here had dried enough that it was stuck to the brick and pavement.  I didn't have access to a spigot and hose, so I had to spray clorox cleaner on to it to loosen it up, then use a watering can filled with hot water to flush it out far enough so that I could sweep it to the tree grate with an old push broom.

It's not bad enough that I already work 6 days a week at several different jobs to make ends meet, but you have to make me work on the seventh as well, and doing something foul to boot.  There was no apology and no attempt to clean it up, you're a real gem.  Do remind me to add you to my Christmas card list.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Haag

I've always enjoyed museums of all kinds, but art museums are my favorite lazy day indulgence.  It must be all those art history and photo history classes I took in college.  Many years ago I was wandering through the Utah Museum of Fine Art in Salt Lake City and I found myself entranced by a work of art by an artist that I had never heard of before.

The artist's name was Herman Hugo Haag and he was one of a group of artists called to go on an art mission for the LDS church (Mormons) to Paris, France to study painting in the 1890s.  Upon their return to Utah they used their newly honed skills to paint murals in the Salt Lake City temple and paintings for other religious buildings around the state, country, and up into Canada.  You can learn more about this unusual mission and the artists themselves, in this article.

His painting that caught my attention is entitled "Hospital Scene".  Normally I like to take my time in art museums, pausing in front of each painting for a minute or two.  With this painting I completely lost track of time and stood rooted to the spot, pouring over the details.  The light, the brush strokes, and the composition engaged me in a way that none of the other pieces in the museum had.

Hospital Scene by Herman H. Haag from the UMFA
This photographic reproduction doesn't do the original work of art justice.  The piece is a very large stretched canvas and Haag's technique exudes light and visual texture, hallmarks of the Impressionistic style he studied in Paris.  So much is going on in this composition that it's hard to know where to begin.

The deathly ill child in the hospital bed and the thin, worn looking man in the chair watching over him, stand in stark contrast to the tender embrace of the woman and child at the next bed.  The colors in this piece are mostly neutrals ranging from the somber dark clothing of the man to the polished wooden floor, to the clean, bright white bed linens that serve to underscore the pallor of the sick child's skin, making him look impossibly frail. 

But on the table next to the boy lies a peeled but uneaten orange.  This small oasis of color is, to me, another heartbreaking element.  Is it the boy's orange and he was too sick to eat it?  Is it the man's orange but he's too distracted, tired, or concerned to have any kind of appetite.  The orange presents another contrast.  Just as the joyful mother and child in the next bed emphasis the sadness and distance between the foreground subjects, the orange emphasized the ill health of the boy with its exuberant pop of color, it's enticing promise of sweetness and health is forgotten in its neglected status on the bedside table.

Are the foreground subjects family?  Father and child seems the most likely explanation, but the could be brothers or some other relation, the connection isn't clear.  The other subjects are children and women, with two of the women shown in close contact with the children, but the man is seated with his hands gripping his knees but leaning forward with his head tilted, as if wanting to hold the child but afraid of disturbing him.  All the man's attention is focused on the boy, like a compass needle pointing North.

There is a touching, eloquent, and utterly beautiful melancholy in this painting.  When I study it I'm transported to that late 19th century Parisian hospital room, I can hear the rustling of linens and the creaking of floorboards, feel the breeze coming through the tall windows at the end of the room, smell the battling scents of cleaning solutions, medicine, illness, and the neglected orange.

Ever since the first time I saw it, I knew that I had to have this image in my home. Obviously buying the painting was not an option.  Even if they were to offer it for sale, I would never be able to afford the original.  But I could afford a print or canvas reproduction.  Over the years I have periodically contacted the UMFA to request a print of this painting.   Each time I was told that copies were not available.  Then, a few months ago while perusing the museum's website, I found that they had added a comprehensive database with electronic images of every piece in their permanent collection.  Then I noticed that they had a section for Reproduction Requests.  I submitted my request and waited.  The museum staff contacted me and had me fill out some forms and submit a $30 fee, and then I was sent a large format digital file of the image.

The next step was ordering a canvas print of the image from an online printmaking gallery.  I used my mad math skills to figure out which size canvas was closest to the painting's original dimensions, found a website that offered that specific size and ordered my print.  I have never before so anxiously tracked a shipped package.  I was worried that the reproduction would live up to my memories of the painting, that the image might have had trouble transferring, or that the canvas might get damaged in shipping.  When it arrived I carefully opened the box and held my breath as I removed the packaging around the canvas.  All my worry was for naught, the image was perfect, and I finally had a copy of this painting in my home.

I've propped it up in almost every room of the house, trying to decide where it should go.  I'm currently trying it out in my computer room/library and I love the way the light from the North facing window illuminates the picture.

For me it's impossible to pick one favorite painting.  There are more than a few pieces, like this painting, that hold a special place in my heart.  What's your favorite work of art?  Or if you can't pick just one (like me), who's your favorite artist, or even what is your favorite style of art?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Have a Captain America kind of day

I had to drop some things off at my younger sister's house this morning before I went to work.  My little sister has 2 month old twins and told me that she was just going to leave the door unlocked so she didn't have to get up AGAIN, totally understandable.

When I got to her house I could see a light on inside.  When I looked through the front window her two older boys where playing in the living room, in their pajamas.  The 4 year old saw me and ran to greet me at the door.  Our conversation went like this.

T-man: *whispering and running up to me on tiptoe* "Aunt Suzanne, oh Caden it's Aunt Suzanne. Hi Aunt Suzanne."

Me: "Hi Nephew T-man, what's up?"

T-man: *still whispering* "What are you doing?"

Me: "Bringing some stuff for your mom."

T-man: *whispers even quieter* "Aunt Suzanne, what's the password?"

Me: "Gee, I don't know Nephew T-man.  Um, let me guess...Captain America?"

T-man: "Uh" *he pauses to think while looking up at the ceiling and tapping his chin with his free hand* "Yes. How did you know my secret password."

Me: "Just a lucky guess."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I am NOT an Optometrist

That being said, which one of these looks better...


Or This?


Or This?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Special Someone

Molly the Wonder Dog is my special someone.  Emphasis on special.  She's a great companion.  MWD is always happy to see me, she never talks back, she's cuddly in a hugely awkward and dorky yet very lovable kind of way, but she's a little derpy.

How derpy?

Well, I'm glad you asked.  A few days ago I woke up from a weird dream in the wee hours of the morning.  In the dream I thought someone was trying to break into the house and I could hear them jingling keys or a lock pick tool.  After waking up I realized it was just the sound of Molly's tags clicking on something metal, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Unusually I woke to the alarm instead of Molly when it was time to get up.  Usually she is wide awake and prancing by my side of the bed at 6am before my alarm goes off, begging to go outside for her morning walk.  That morning she was hiding on the other side of the bed and all I could see was the top of her head.  She saw me looking at her and she ducked her head down even farther.


That never bodes well in this house.

Me: "Molly, What.Did.You.Do??"

All I hear from her is a whine and an odd metallic thunk on the side of the bed.  I got up and walked around and this is what I found.

She had laid down over the heater vent in my room and gotten her tags stuck in the grate.  And being that I'm my mother's daughter, I first laughed, then I grabbed my camera to document this proud moment of Derpness.

She refused to make eye contact with me, or even look in my general direction.  She kept trying to lay down but the grate kept getting in the way.

This one is a little fuzzy because I was laughing and holding the grate up and trying to take a photo at the same time.  Compassion is my middle name.
I finally had mercy and untangled her collar.  She took off like a shot and hid behind the recliner in the living room and wouldn't come out at all until I got home from work on my lunch break.  Not even for food and a walk which are her two favorite things in the world.

Luckily the grates are made to be removed for cleaning, and nothing was damaged.  The only problem was it made me realize that I need to have my carpets cleaned again.  I think I'm just going to put the vent cover back and forget about that last part.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sheldon's Quest For World Domination - Uh Oh...

Guys, hey guys, I think we have a problem.  After all his wedding shenanigans last fall, Sheldon's disappeared.  He's been radio silent for a couple of months now and I'm getting worried about the little guy.  Especially since Pi Day is only about a month away and it just won't be the same without him here to celebrate with us.

OK, if I'm being completely honest about it, I'm sort of feeling guilty because I think I kind of might have sort of maybe partially responsible for him going missing. 

Maybe I didn't tell the whole truth about the wedding.  Maybe Sheldon got the teeniest bit tipsy.  Maybe I coerced him into taking a slightly incriminating photo in the photo booth.  And maybe that's why Sheldon's gone AWOL.  Well, here, take a look...but promise me you won't tell Amy Farrah Fowler, I wouldn't want to break up Sh-Amy.

Sheldon, buddy, if you're reading this, please check in and let us know you haven't done something crazy, like gone back to Bozeman or something.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Put a tiara on it

And by "it" I mean me.

Remember how New Year's Eve happened?  Yeah NYE is not my favorite holiday.  This year was no different.

I was planning on hanging out with my family at my parents house, playing games, eating fondue, and being loud (we have no volume control, sorry people who have to spend extended amounts of time with my family).  Like I do every year, that means it's a tradition, can't break tradition.  But a few of my acquaintances felt the need to encourage me to go to the over 30 singles dance being held on NYE at a church here in town.

Let me explain something.  These dances are for 30+ but they really should be advertised as 30+++, because most of the attendees are, how can I put this delicately, um, of an advanced age.  So the poster should say 2 30+ and 60 60+ people hanging out in a church gym.  Not.My.Scene.

So there were a couple people telling me to go to this dance.  The theme was "Royals" (ps - Dear dance planners if the Lorde song was the inspiration for this, you didn't listen to the song) and they asked that you dress like a royal to attend.  What I told everyone who encouraged me to go was "Sorry, I'm fresh out of tiaras, but maybe next year."  And I thought that would be the end of it.

Then a small package from Amazon showed up on my doorstep.  Inside was a tiara.  No note, no indication who it was from, and thus far none of my friends have admitted to sending it to me.

Now I have a totally awesome tiara and no place to go.  So I'm going to wear it around the house with my sweats, just to make my housework a little more glamorous.  That's Ms. Laundry Queen to you.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Best Internet Quiz

You know those internet quizzes?  Like, all of them?  You do one or two every once in a while, and then remember how lame they are, and then they kind of go away for a while then come back with a vengeance. 

It looks like facebook is going through a quiz resurgence at the moment.  Which Duck Dyansty family member are you, which Lord of The Rings character, which city you should live in, what type of food are you, etc, so and and so forth, ad nauseum.

I've mostly avoided the latest round of quizzes, but my friend Kassie posted this one and it sucked me in.  Try your hand and see which one you get.

My result was:
Your result: ONE.
You should only have one child. You're simply not cut out for more.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Where'd January Go?

I could have sworn it was here a minute ago.  But that's OK because February has decided to pretend like January and just snow non-stop for a couple days at a time.  So there's that.  How was your January?  Good, glad to to hear it.  Mine?  Not bad, not bad.  I got some more snowshoeing in, and I even talked my nephew W into joining me on one hike last month.

That same day I had gone out early in the morning to get some photographs in the morning fog caused by the winter inversion.  It was so bright I couldn't get a good look at the images on my display so it wasn't until I got home and uploaded them that I found out that most of them had a GIANT piece of lint (and quite a few smaller pieces of lint as well) in the photo, like so...

So the only decent photos I got were when I switched to a different lens, but even then it had a weird dark spot in one corner of most of the images...

But I REALLY wanted to try and get some more images of the frost and fog that the inversion causes (the only upshot to a winter inversion), so I cleaned my lenses and went out again the next morning and got these.

And some of the photos STILL have lint on them, but at least it's not as obvious.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


Today someone told me "Your spirit animal is Molly!  It's like you're soul mates."

I'm really not sure whether I should be offended...or Molly the Wonder Dog should be offended.

Monday, February 03, 2014


In case you missed the news yesterday, this happened, Phillip Seymour Hoffman died

This left a lot of people, both industry insiders and fans, scratching their heads and feeling shocked and saddened by the senseless loss.  There was another loss last week, one suffered by a good friend of mine.  Someone she loved very much was taken by his own demons and choices.  These losses have left me sad and angry.  They shouldn't happen, but they do on a daily basis.

I've read comments from people who can't understand how a seemingly happy, talented, successful, gracious, father and friend could succumb to something like heroin.  Other people are quick to point out sanctimoniously that he "chose" to shoot up.  Still others cast dispersions on the departed and talk about how they had a responsibility to be an example, or "they got what they deserved".  No one deserves the hell that is substance addiction.

I think Simon Pegg said it best when he tweeted this morning:
"The trouble with addiction is that you can park the car but you can never switch off the engine or stop yourself from hearing the revs."
Addiction is a very real and very ugly disease.  It is insidious and creeps up on you and robs you of your joy, health, and sanity in seemly innocent ways.  Addiction never goes away, NEVER.  It doesn't matter if you've been clean and sober 1 day or 40 years, it will always be there.  If you're an addict and you're lucky, you get clean and you stay clean.  But the sad truth is that most addicts relapse at some point in their lives, sometimes several times, because there is no "cure".

You may be sitting there reading this and thinking "I'm not an addict, this doesn't apply to me." and you're partially right.  You may not be an addict, but I guarantee you that at some point in your life you will know an addict, whether you're aware of their addiction or not.  At some point you may become an addict, in spite of your best intentions.  Start to understand what an addict feels by reading this article by Russell Brand.

Addicts aren't just nameless, faceless junkies living under freeway underpasses.  Addicts are friends, parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, nieces & nephews, cousins, siblings,co-workers, bosses, church goers, etc.  They look just like you and me.  The only difference is that something has a hold of them and they don't know how to escape.  It could be heroin or prescription drugs or alcohol or any number of destructive substances or behaviors (gambling/porn/etc).

Be prepared and know the signs of addiction for yourself or others:

Then, be prepared to do something about it:

Care enough to not enable.  Care enough to not judge.  Care enough to say something.  Care enough to just listen...because the last thing an addict wants to hear is your preaching or your attempt at trying to relate.  Unless you've been where they are now, sharing your life challenges/struggles and comparing them to what the addict is going through isn't really going to help, and it may make the situation worse.  It isn't easy but you don't want to have to live with the thought "I could have/should have said/done something."  When something goes horribly wrong with the addict in your life.

If you're struggling with addiction please ask for help!  Go to someone you trust and talk to them about what you're going through.  If you're clean but feeling like you might relapse, go to a meeting, or at the very least talk to someone about what your feeling.  These websites can help you get in touch with an AA or NA group in your areas: &

Please remember that you are not alone and that there are many people out there who understand your struggle.  There are so many people who are ready and willing to help you or your loved one fight addiction, but they can't help you if you don't seek them out.