Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Like everyone else with any sense, Eyebrows is taking Christmas off. I've been busting my butt through December to get a bunch of work, volunteering, holiday, and other stuff done by various deadlines. I'm going to pretend like I'm back in college and basically sleep until New Year's, so unless the McGee family does something mind-blowingly funny (not just gut-busting, but mind-blowing), you won't see me for a week or so!

Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone, and I'll see you round about New Year's!

PS - my favorite high-heeled loafers have gone missing. It's very distressing. How do shoes go missing? It's not like you can leave the house with them on and come back barefoot!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's 1982 in Our House

We lost the remote control to our upstairs TV, which doesn't have TiVo, and we don't have cable anyway, so we're watching The O.C. with NO control over the volume, bad antenna reception, and NO ability to fastforward the commercials.

Commercials are really loud when you can't mute or fast forward them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

PlayHouse Update

I haven't written anything about the Peoria PlayHouse lately, which will open in the Glen Oak Park Pavilion in 2008 (helping to PRESERVE the historic park rather than building ugly 70s cinderblock palaces of love -- er, learning -- on our open space, but I digress).

I'm eyebrows-deep in putting together the Junior League's semi-annual magazine, so my inbox is full of news about the Peoria PlayHouse.

First off, the PlayHouse is doing a fundraiser with these really fairly neat Design-your-Day calendars. My law firm is one of the sponsors, but I really didn't appreciate how COOL they were until I got one. They feature drawings by local children as the calendar art, which is adorable. The CALENDAR part of the calendar actually takes up most of BOTH pages, giving you a ton of space to write in -- and it features an 8th column on the far left, where you can add up to six family members' names, or categories like "school, work, appointments," or just leave it blank (which we did) to scrawl in notes for the week and grocery store lists.

When I was growing up, my mom had this complicated calendrical system wherein we all had to use code letters to designate ourselves on the calendar and the letter had to be circled. Anything not on the calendar didn't exist. If only she'd had a PlayHouse calendar, she could have just had all six of our names printed on the left-hand side, obviating the need for code letters!

You can check it out and order one here.

And speaking of (or clicking on) the website, I'm told it's getting [10,000] a lot of* unique visitors every month. You can also print off coloring pages of the exhibits, which I did not know until just now.

(*I am corrected and told that the statistical reporting has a flaw or two and it's not clear the # of hits per month!)

Programming continues for the Peoria PlayHouse Junior, where the Junior League hosts little learning-and-playing events out at Grand Prairie. I'm actually going to be helping with one in the spring about -- ready for it? -- STRANGE VEGETABLES! That's right, Eyebrows is teachin' the munchkins about kohlrabi, the outer-space veggie. I already forgot what the date is, but I'll let you know when it's coming up. (Also, I better have a real kohlrabi prop or I shall be sorely disappointed.)

Finally, an easy (and free) way to help out is to go to the Hamburger Helper Hometown Helper website and urge Hamburger Helper to support our project by posting a comment.

Monday, December 18, 2006


In college I used to wake up disoriented a lot, not from liquor (silly people, it took law school to drive me to drink), but because I was constantly moving home/dorm/home/new dorm room/home/dorm/whatever, and I had the same bedding both at home and in my dorm. I'd wake up and take a few foggy minutes to figure out what day it was, if I was late for class, and which bed I was in because I didn't want to fall from the top bunk by rolling over the wrong way.

Back then, I worked on the college paper, as a managing editor my senior year, so my weeks started with Ed Board and paper production at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening, and ran through 4 a.m. on Friday morning when the Friday paper went to press. My bodily clock was never anything vaguely like regular during those years. Which probably didn't help with the disorientation.

So Sunday morning, yesterday, I woke up with that familiar feeling of disorientation, absolutely sure it was Sunday, but with a nagging feeling that I didn't have Ed Board. Had it been cancelled? Had I slept through it? Was it break week? While lying there trying to figure out whether or not I had Ed Board, my husband rolled over and I absolutely panicked:


And then it hit me: I'm a grown-up. I'm married. I sleep in a queen bed, not a twin, and certainly not a bunk bed. I haven't rolled the wrong way out of bed in years. I no longer have a job that keeps me out until 4 a.m.

Thus reassured that in fact I had no Ed Board meeting and that every newspaper in America was content to go to press without my help, I went back to sleep.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Stupid Tubes

I swear, ever since the Internet became a "series of tubes," there've been all kinds of problems. It used to be that just my COMPUTER could get viruses, but now that they widened all those wires and fiberoptics into TUBES, it seems that people-viruses fit through too. I, for example, seem to have caught Billy's cold through the tubes. I read his blog post about being sick, and bam, I'm down for the count too.

And of COURSE I have no voice and of COURSE it's the day I have to make 8 billion calls for the Junior League and of COURSE it's the night of my husband's office Christmas party, which is going to have really excellent steak and my tastebuds are not working, and all *I* want to do is crawl into a hole and doze intermittently between doses of cold medicine.

I blame Senator Stevens (R-Alaska). Stupid tubes.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chicago Lawyer Shooting

I've been thinking a lot about the disgruntled client who shot his ex-lawyer in Chicago, but I'm having difficulty formulating my thoughts into a coherent discussion.

What I can say is that probably every lawyer in the country has received a letter like this, accusing another lawyer of "screwing" the writer and ruining his life. The majority are from prisons, but as this shooting and the Lefkow shooting show, there are plenty of angry lunatics wandering the streets.

I recently had an angry client, for whom I actually WON the case, who shouted obscenities at me and hung up on me, primarily angry that lawsuits cost so much to file, which isn't something I have control over. And I've gotten plenty of calls from clients seeking a new attorney because "My lawyer is stealing my money. He's a liar. He stole the deed to my house." (Seriously. Heard that one.) Some of these people are talking about brilliant, morally upright lawyers I actually know personally and look up to as paragons of ethics! Which means the three possibilities are that half the lawyers in Peoria are living double lives and stealing from their clients, that these clients are lying, or that these clients have no grip on reality whatsoever either due to mental illness, substance abuse, or just plain wishful thinking.

So I guess the whole thing has me a little rattled by the level of crazy out there, and by how many folks blame their lawyers for their problems. I wish I had something more brilliant and coherent to say.

I sort-of get where some of these people are coming from. I get how frustrating dealing with the legal system is. I get how it's ridiculously expensive for a private citizen. I get how when you're dealing with something frustrating and upsetting that you don't understand very well, you can easily exaggerate the events in your head. But I find myself a little rattled and perturbed by how a run-of-the-mill crazy lawyer-hating letter escalated so easily into violence, when I talk to people with similar frustrations probably once a week.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Battle Royale, Nerd Edition

Mr. McGee and I got new bookcases not long ago, and moving around the books has thrown our entire household into disarray. We each entered the marriage with about four full-sized bookcases full of books and our attempts to integrate our libraries have so far failed, largely because we can not agree on organization.

First it's important to know that Mr. McGee is a linear thinker and I am a lateral thinker, and as a result, neither of us think the other's jokes are funny. We're like a Deborah Tannen book waiting to happen.

So Mr. McGee has his books arranged alphabetically by author within subject sections, like a library. I find this possibly the most inconvenient way to organize books in the history of the universe; its only redeeming value is that if you know exactly what book you want, what subject it's in, and who wrote it, you can find it relatively quickly and without help.

I, on the other hand, organize my books around ideas that interest me, with a strong secondary bias to "when I read it." So I have a whole bunch of books that relate to my intellectual interest in liturgy -- some of them liturgy books, but also books of essays, a handful of novels, and some seemingly unrelated books that made me think about something liturgical. In a "real" library, more than half of them would belong in another section. I have one section on evil, another one on Holocaust, and another on Jewish law, which all blend one into the next, generally in the chronological order one interest led to the next. It drives my husband crazy that I have "A History of the Modern World" in my "great theologians" section, but duh, I have to be able to look up what world events were happening when they were writing! He doesn't think Fromm belongs in political theory, but it spurred me to great thoughts on political ethics.

Admittedly this is a system that nobody else can decipher, but *I* can put my hands on whatever I need immediately, and the groupings serve as a sort of road map to my mental history. When they get mixed up from my personal loci of intellectual interest, I get very confused and disoriented. But I can see my husband's fingers practically twitching to rescue that Par Lagerkvist from political theory and put him in fiction where he belongs, or to sort my Holocaust studies into history and commentary, at the very least.

So we're in an uneasy book detente as I defend my illogical organization system to the death and he persists in explaining to me why my system is illogical. I totally agree it's illogical, I just don't think it inevitably follows that merely because it's illogical there's something wrong with it! He finds this exasperating. I think it's part of my charm.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Just $10 a Ticket for Eternal Salvation!

I was talking with some folks today about the commercialization of Christmas and what Jesus would think of a holiday-decorated mall.

It reminded me of when I was in college and some religious group took out a bunch of full-page ads in the campus newspaper. It was some sort of concert/fundraiser thingie, but the ad said, super-gigantic:


I was like, "HELLS NO!" because any Jesus charging you $10 for the privilege of meeting him is PROBABLY NOT JESUS. In fact, I think that would probably be the NUMBER ONE SIGN that your Jesus was actually the Antichrist.

The full-page ads cost about $1600 each, IIRC, and then ran them for a week or so. Attendance was not nearly good enough to make up in fundraising what they spent in advertising (at $10/head we're talking 1,120 heads just to break even before any funds are raised -- and I don't think the venue they were using could seat nearly that many). So not only were they a little unclear on how Jesus works, but they weren't so good with the math, either.

*Actually, it said "If Jesus came to the JACC" which stands for Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, but I figured only a handful of Domers would know what I meant if I said that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Zzzzzzzzzz ....

I got a flu shot yesterday. Flu and tetanus shots in particular always make me tired, but this is ridiculous. I was mostly asleep by 7:30 p.m. in front of the TV, out cold by 9 when my husband dragged me off the couch and up to bed, and slept until 10 o'clock this morning.

Now I'm sort-of longing for a nap!

It's good to be married because I drooled on myself while sleeping in front of the TV and he either didn't notice, or didn't say anything. I appreciate that.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Winning Snowmageddon Quote

I think Billy Dennis is correct: Neil Albert Johnson has won Snowmageddon with his excellent statement that

"Peoria is home to the largest manufacturer of Earth-moving equipment in the world. Yet we can’t get our streets plowed in a decent amount of time."

— Neil Albert Johnson, Sports Pundit

Indeed. Shades of Michael Bilandic.

Snowmageddon Pics

Just a few pics from the McGee Homestead of the big storm. (And my knee is much better today. Apparently it was just offended.) My husband took these shots. As always, click to enlarge individual pictures.

Here's how deep we dug out on our front steps. Getting the door open was a bit of an adventure, and as both our front and back doors have storm doors that open outwards, for a while I thought we were going to have to call the neighbor with an attached garage (and door that opens UP!) to come dig our door out enough that we could open it!

Here's the McGee garden, totally buried. You can see a picture of my garden in summer (from a different angle) here. My poor little boxwoods are completely buried, just in front of that line of chickenwire with the posts sticking up, about midway back in the picture. My mums and my burning bush are also totally snowed under. My patio furniture sorta looks like it's having a party, though.

These are a little hard to see, and I adjusted a lot of levels on this photo to try to make them more visible. Because the wind was blowing so hard, we got really interesting patterns and striations in the top of the snow. We had some really pretty ones on the driveway that Mr. McGee tried to capture here.

(Incidentally, you can see my neighbor's plastic basement window-well cover in that picture; one of their covers collapsed -- totally fell apart -- from the weight of the snow. Not that one, though.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Car Craziness and Feline Foibles, Snowmageddon Edition

We're still basically stuck in the house. I ventured out this morning for a doctor's appointment, well over an hour before I had to be there. In 20 minutes I made it six blocks (the doctor is about six MILES away), got stuck three times (once leaving my own driveway), and lost traction completely twice. Plus I had a near-death experience with another driver who lost control, and I fumed at some JERK who wouldn't let me friggin' off the road when I had my hazards on and was trying to bail on the entire experience.

The side roads actually weren't bad at all, although it's like riding down a rutted country road it's so bumpy. I crawled down the side streets leaving my neighborhood at a respectable 15 or 20 mph. It was once I got onto the main road (University, in this case) that it was a solid block of ice with all the nice traction-y snow cover gone. We were moving 5 mph, and it was okay as long as you could keep rolling, but if you stopped, there was no traction to start again. In my six blocks I saw three cars/trucks lose control and slide or spin, and two left completely abandoned in the road. I decided I do not actually want to see a doctor badly enough to end up in the emergency room and gave it up by pulling into the Walgreens parking lot, stocking up on perishables, then driving back home over the nice safe snowy back roads.

I capped off my HOUR-LONG morning of vehicular terror by slipping in the driveway 10 feet from my house and wrenching the CRAP out of my knee, which is now swollen and tender but still bending. So unless it actively falls off, I'm not leaving this house to see a doctor until the roads are better.

I am both amazed and appalled that so many of my fellow Central Illinoisians went to work today. It's seriously white-knuckle out there.

Meanwhile, the cats have grown in their winter coats, which means Orange Cat's fur sticks out a little more crazily, especially on his tail stump, but Grey Cat appears to have doubled in size he's so fluffy, and his winter coat is the softest thing I've ever felt, softer than mink or anything else. He may be a bit of an ugly brawler, but Grey Cat truly has the most beautiful fur in existence.

Grey Cat, as he does every year, became ABSOLUTELY DETERMINED to make friends with the snow and got really aggressive about trying to escape the house when we opened the door. So we finally let him out in it, and it took 15 seconds, as it does every year, for him to decide that snow is a punishment from God AND HE'S NEVER LEAVING THE HOUSE AGAIN, EVER.

However, he has achieved two of his major life-goals during this Snowmageddon weekend. He's been trying to crawl under the ledge of my desk ever since he was a kitten (when there was much more STUFF under there and no room for him; now he's just too big) and finally achieved his life's dream on Friday (more or less -- his butt didn't quite make it). He spent an hour under there with his eye all crazy and totally determined to stay there forever -- or at least until there was food to be had.

On Sunday we got out the Christmas decorations and started doing the indoor decor, and Grey Cat was pleased to become King of a Very Tiny Jungle. He's been napping in there ever since.

Orange Cat's life goals consist entirely of napping, eating, and purring, so Snowmageddon didn't interrupt him one way or the other.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Snowed In

Here in Central Illinois we're all snowed in, and it's really quite lovely. Now that the storm has stopped it's sunny and brisk outside, not bitter, and the entire neighborhood is out shoveling and chatting and wading down the unplowed, shin-high street to chat. Mr. McGee is ostensibly shovelling the driveway, but he and every teenager in the neighborhood are actually throwing snow at one another with shovels. The cats and I are prudently indoors by the fire.

My neighbors and I are considering pooling our liquor and drinking until we get warm when the shovelling is finished, but with a snow day right before the weekend, nobody's in any hurry to do anything but eat and drink and chat.

Our street is about 12" to 15" deep according to our yardstick; lots and lots of that is drifting. Parts of our yard are really low, but anywhere there's anything for the wind to blow against it's deep -- in some places two feet. The wind is still a little howly but by and large a lovely snow day!