Monday, July 31, 2006

Ice Cold Beverages

So I'm thinking Castle Patio Inn on Sheridan & Loucks for my post-TV beer drinking? Around 10 p.m.?

Mostly because I really like the cheese there. Also because I can't drink too much because of my sinuses, so I'd better stick with the cheese.

I think I'll plan a party for a little later in the summer when it's not so freakishly hot outside - maybe at the Ballance-Herschel House - and get y'all a keg for that, but I definitely want to drink with all you hoopy froods ASAP!

(Sorry I haven't been more on the ball about this. As any of you who have ever had them know, sinus infections make you STUPID.)

Note to Anybody E-mailing Me

Several people now have told me their e-mails came back as "bounced" ... but they're also coming through to me. I have no idea what's up with that. But if you're e-mailing to eyebrows_mcgee AT yahoo DOT com, it's probably coming through to me even if it's telling you it isn't.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Weekend Tidbits

My youngest brother is visiting next week (the one who just turned 17), and we've cleaned the bathrooms, which I guess means he's been elevated from family to "real house guest."

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I finally got antibiotics for this brutal, sucky summer sinus infection I've had for FOUR WEEKS now. I'm entirely in favor of modern Western medicine, except that tons of doctors refuse to take you seriously when you know your own body. That irritates me. I've had at least two sinus infections a year since I was 16, and I know when my brain is full of boogers and it's not getting better without antibiotic help. I also haven't run a fever since I was FOUR, and I get real tired of doctors acting like I'm some sort of moron for suggesting I don't run fevers. (I vividly recall barfing on the school nurse in grade school when they insisted I wasn't sick because I didn't have a fever.) My current doctor has actually written on the front of my chart "Does not run fevers" (lovely man) but the nurses all feel called to ignore it, as do any consulting doctors. (I'm honestly not sure my doctor believes it, either, but at least he humors me.)

Typically when I get antibiotics for my sinus infections, I get amoxicillan in powdered format in the pills the pharmacist puts together in gelcaps. About an hour after I take the pill, I feel like crap and my head hurts like crazy where the sinus infection is. While I know differently, I deeply believe those little powdery bits in the pill are each going and individually attacking my sinus infection (with teeny little swords). This time, they've given me pre-made pills, which are solid, so I'm having some trouble visualizing where my little antibiotic soldiers and their teeny little swords come from. Apparently they have to get all the way to my stomach and then get partially digested before they can turn into powder and draw their teeny little swords to attack my brain boogers. This seems inefficient.

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We are watching Under the Tuscan Sun, which is an excellent movie, and which always makes me inform Mr. McGee that I clearly can never take him to Italy. I draw a lot of attention in Italy solely by virtue of my red hair. I also know lots and lots of Italian obscenities (my Italian professor was Toscana, and they're an earthy people) to fend off random Italian men hitting on me (also to protest decisions of soccer officials), but somehow I think Mr. McGee would still be annoyed by all the men following me through the plaza and shouting "Rosa! Rosa! Bella americana rosa!"

You don't really have to be that bella. You just have to be rosa, and you can attract undue attention in many different countries around the world.

When I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of St. Joe County in South Bend, there were little girls there who had never seen red hair before, coming from African-American neighborhoods that were essentially ghettoized and ethnically restricted. They loved to braid my hair and the majority of my volunteer hours were spent sitting patiently while little girls attacked my hair.

It always made me a little sad that my hair attracted the same attention in inner-city South Bend as it did in countries where red hair was almost unheard of.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Eyebrows Is Bemused by Time

My youngest brother is turning 17 this weekend, which has me a little bemused because in my head, he's 4. (My older-younger brother is variantly 2 or 12, and my sister is 6. In my head. They're really 26 and 22.) I guess I'm getting to the part of life where time goes faster than you expect it to, which I guess means I now qualify as a full-grown adult. I expect to begin wheezing about the good old days shortly.

My forebrain knows that my siblings are 26, 22, and almost-17, but somewhere in my lizard brain, time has stopped and they're at these emblematic ages from my childhood. This frequently causes me to worry about them more than is strictly necessary: My older-younger brother is a Cook Country prosecutor and WHY ARE THEY LETTING 12-YEAR-OLDS PROSECUTE MURDERERS???? HE'S TOO IMPRESSIONABLE!!! SOMEONE GIVE HIM COOKIES, STAT!

It's not that I'm being like, "Oh my God, I can't believe he's 17!" about my brother's birthday. I can believe it; I watched most of it. I'm just a little bemused by it, because even more amazing than corn growing to 8 feet from a tiny kernel is that squally little red babies grow up to be people.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Some People Are REALLY. MEAN.

Today, just for a change of pace, my husband knocked 24 oz. of diet soda over on me right as we sat down for lunch at a local restaurant. (Typically I do the spilling.) Fortunately, the restaurant was close to home, so I went home and changed while he ordered. I was wet from the skin out, and I think my shoes are ruined -- I'm not sure the sticky will come off and they're not really "washable" (or even "spot cleanable"). My Gucci purse, fortunately, was spared.

So I'm inordinately upset, heading to the parking lot, UTTERLY SOAKED, and some JACKASSES in the parking lot opted to POINT AND LAUGH AT ME, as if being soaked to the skin wasn't enough humiliation. I don't know what their problem was, because they were full-grown adults. (If I was 9, I probably would have found it amusing, too, but adults should have some friggin' SYMPATHY.) It really ticked me off and hurt my feelings.

Mr. McGee offered to beat them up for me, but I didn't think that would end in my shoes being saved from destruction, which was really my main goal here, so I declined. But I'm still really ticked about those jerks laughing.

The whole thing has put a Cloud of Grump over my afternoon. I hope they all get boils on their asses or something equally painful and embarassing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Eyebrows Is Comin' Out -- on TV

Yes, it's true: If you saw BlogBites tonight, you know that I'm the guest on Tuesday, August 1 on the News@9 on My59 (or however that's properly punctuated) next week. Having reached the $1000 goal - thanks, bloggerinos! - I will be coming out on TV.

I'm currently trying to decide if I should proceed directly from the studio to having you all join me for a drink, or if the drink should occur a little later in the week, since I'll be at the studio in East Peoria until around 9:30.

I doubt I'll be as serious or deep as this week's interviewee, a contributor to the conservative Illinois Review group blog, but that's okay -- it'll be fun!

(And PS to CJ, yes, yes, you're very clever. :P)

The Most Exciting Thing I Have Ever Done Fully Clothed

I HAVE MADE CORN TO GROW FROM THE EARTH!

That's right, we had our first ripe sweet corn ears last night! Kernel development was fantastic! (I'll post pictures later.) And the corn tasted like SUNSHINE fresh off the stalk! And I just can't get over the fact that I MADE CORN FROM DIRT! Or the fact that that tiny little kernel I planted has all the genetic programming data to grow a super-gigantic stalk and make ears of corn!

I'm so delightedly boggled that I'm still grinning this morning.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Eyebrows McGee Challenge - WOOT!

I have to do a little bit of math, but I'm *pretty* sure that the Eyebrows McGee Challenge has hit its $1000 fundraising goal. Exciting news to follow about gourmet dinner parties AND the big coming out, as soon as I do all the math!

In the meantime, don't miss your chance to donate to the Peoria PlayHouse via the Eyebrows McGee Challenge! Get enough extra in there to make up for any math mistakes! Everybody's doing it -- all the cool kids, anyway.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dear Peoria,

Stop apologizing.

Ever since we moved here, Peorians keep apologizing to us for Peoria.

"Oh, you moved here? It's not that great a town," you all say.

Yes, Peoria, we moved here on purpose. We finished up at Duke Law and we had the world at our feet and WE PICKED PEORIA.

We knew we were coming back to the Midwest (well, back for me - new for him), and HE knew that he wanted a smaller city than Chicago. See, I grew up in the Chicago burbs, and always felt a little lonely outside the Midwest. He grew up in small-city Florida, and always felt lonely in big cities. So we compromised: I could come back to the Midwest, if he could have a smaller city. We looked around everywhere -- even Chicago -- for a city where we could settle down.

Much as I adore Chicago (and I frequently appall Europeans by insisting it's the best city in the world), it's friggin' expensive and the commutes are long. For a two bedroom, 1 bath, un-updated house smack up against the Chicago Northwestern Railroad Line with a 45 minute commute downtown, we would have paid $350,000. Plus neither of us was all that excited about 80-hour lawyer weeks.

But Peoria! Mr. McGee's commute downtown is 10 minutes long -- in traffic, with construction, when he hits all the lights wrong. Our house, which is nicer, cost 1/3 of what we would have paid for a smaller house in Chicago.

Okay, so Peoria's not an international center of culture. But dude, I grew up in Chicago. You don't go downtown that often because parking is a pain in the ass. I lived in London (which ROCKED). But the world is available on the internet these days, and vacations to international centers of culture are nicer when you get to go home to a place where everybody knows you and wants to see your vacation pictures.

And Peoria has culture - orchestra (most important to me), and ballet, and Rennaisance Faires - culture with parking that doesn't cost an arm, leg, and firstborn. Culture I can get home from in 20 minutes.

I know it's hard for a lot of you to imagine why someone who didn't a) grow up here or b) get transferred by Cat would move here on purpose. But I promise you, it's a lovely city. A big-city feel with small-town traffic. Enough to do to keep me busy, but always a place to park.

I teach some ACT prep classes, often outside Peoria in the "real" farming areas, and the kids think they must be dumb because they live on farms. I keep telling them, they have experiences and knowledge I never did when I was their age. Sure, I knew a lot about stock markets - I had friends whose fathers were traders at CBOT - but I had no idea what unions meant, and I was nowhere near as involved and interested in local politics and economics: will this factory close? Will that one open? They know things I never imagined knowing; half the class I taught at Princeville High School was on the volunteer fire squad and they all checked their beepers when the siren went off. I can't even imagine that. They know so much more than I did, but they keep saying, "Oh, we're just farm kids." Suburban high achievers are a dime a dozen. Rural kids on volunteer fire squads? That's something special.

So Peoria, stop apologizing to me for being Peoria. We LIKE it here. We like the people. We like the city. We moved here ON PURPOSE, and while I have a certain amount of shock about having a 309 area code on my phone number (WHY GOD? WHY?), we love it. We love it not because we grew up here and feel obligated to do so, but because WE LOVE PEORIA on its own merits. We CHOSE you. We LIKE you. We've lived in world-class cities, and we choose to live here.

With much love,
Eyebrows

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Compleat Garden



Above you see the complete McGee veggie garden (click to enlarge and see the letters), as viewed from my upstairs bathroom window, which is now stuck in the open position and I really need to get around to calling Andersen Windows because that's just irritating. Anyway, from left to right, front to back, a lettered tour of the garden:

Behind the row of boxwoods, which will grow in over time to provide a living hedge separating the more formal patio area from the veggie garden, starting on the left at A, you see our corn. Really tall. Has ears! I love it! I went out on Saturday and the corn just had silk. On Sunday it had SIX INCH EARS! Perhaps the most amazing thing about the corn is how quickly things happen when they do happen. In the next bed, B are bush beans (purple, white, and yellow ones) that are just now bearing. C is a crookneck squash plant. Between B and C are garlic chives, but they've been shadowed out a bit by the squash. At D are four different types of peppers, from sweet to super-hot. No bell peppers this year - I accidentally killed them all with clumsiness. On either end of the BCD bed are onions grown from sets.

Bed E is home to turnip greens and endives, that are both past their prime and too bitter, but they provide nice greenery and will make a good "green manure" for the bed when we turn it over. Between them are kohlrabi (kohlrabis?), the alien veggie, which are coming along nicely. (The kohlrabi is actually the lighter blue-green foilage the "E" is on top of.)

Back on the left, F are these freakishly huge tomato plants I didn't know were going to grow so big (Black from Tula, Early Pink Girl, and ... Early Boy? Or something?). In about a week we are going to have more tomatoes than we can possibly eat coming ripe all at once.

H are eggplants - I'm not sure if they'll have time to set fruit and ripen in this climate since I started them from seed - and G are melons which I only started a few weeks ago and are already spreading impressively. Bed I features more squash (trombocino and crookneck) and J is arugula and mustard greens, both bolted to seed, but pretty with their white and yellow flowers. More green manure.

K has nothing in it, being almost totally in the shade of L, my lilac bush, but when this brutal heat breaks I'm going to try a planting of summer lettuce and see if it's cool enough under there to grow true sativa in the summer. If not, I'll probably just plant some pretty annuals there in the future. (You can also see my black rolling composter back behind the lilac bush there.) M are two more tomato plants (grape tomato and Yellow something) and a chocolate pepper plant. N are sunflowers! Planted just a few weeks ago and very huge very fast. Behind them are really neat squiggly climbing posts for sugar snap peas and other climbers. We haven't had too much luck with them this year, but I'm looking forward to starting them earlier next year.

O is our lettuce bed with four kinds of lettuce, which are slowly bolting to seed and turning bitter in this heat. We've had a fairly steady supply of fresh, DELICIOUS lettuce. We'll probably turn this under in a couple weeks and then plant a crop of fall lettuce once the weather cools a bit.

P is the pretty fence my husband but in for me, from sectional pieces at Menard's - it was very inexpensive and I like it a lot. Q is a gate we got from A Rustic Garden in Mount Sterling, which my husband spray-painted black and cleverly mounted to the existing fence with U-bolts from the hardware store. I was impressed.

And R(&R) is where we rest in the shade of the neighbor's tree, in our hammock-for-two, with a pillow, after we've worn ourselves out!




Here you can see these cherry/grape tomatoes that bizarrely grew in a little grid of 16, each line of the grid a little riper than the one below. I wished I could flip it over and get a better picture, but I could neither turn it over nor get me and the camera under it without totally destroying the plant.



Finally, take a look at my clover and grass. We haven't watered either at all this summer. (We also haven't mowed in about four weeks now - you may be able to see a few weeds there happy about the lack of mowing, primarily morning glory and Queen Anne's Lace.) I initially planted the clover, you may recall, for several reasons: First, clovers are a nitrogen fixer, which enriches the soil. Second, nature loathes a monoculture (like grass), and grass isn't great for the midwestern environment anyway. Third, White Dutch Clover (aka New Zealand Short Clover, aka the common backyard clover) doesn't grow much taller than 4 inches, so you don't really have to mow it. Fourth, bees like clover, which is good for the other garden plants. If you're afraid of bees, or anyone in your house is allergic to bee stings, you can simply mow the clover with your mower on the highest setting every couple of weeks to prevent the flowers from opening. We have a good friend who goes into anaphylatic shock from bee stings, so we keep a close eye on how MANY bees are busy in our yard so we know not to let her come over when they're out in large numbers, and we really haven't had a problem - just one or two at a time, bumbling through. (The little cage on the clover is for the cats to sit out back - although not in this heat! - and Grey Cat likes to munch on the clover. It's a puppy crate from Farm & Fleet and is maybe the best $30 I have ever spent. Happiest. Cats. Ever.)

But here's the totally unexpected bonus: My clover is the greenest "grass" on the block, watered or unwatered, fertilized or unfertilized. You can see that our unwatered grass has basically turned to straw (it pokes and scratches if you walk barefoot on it!). Our unwatered, unfertilized, unmowed clover is BRIGHT GREEN with no care whatsoever. We have neighbors who are diligent about lawn-watering, and our clover is greener than their lawns. We're SO delighted with the absolute and total lack of care the clover has required AND how green it is even in this horrible heat and lack-of-rain that I'm seriously going to kill more spots of lawn on purpose to overseed them with clover!

The clover is also my favorite spot for resting in the "grass," and it's been remarkably resilient to any blankets, butts, books, and munching cats we put on it.

So yeah - plant clover and end lawn care as you know it!

Sitcom Plot #542

Last night I was talking to my husband about something - the funniest part is that I totally forget what, but that's because as soon as I download information to my husband's brain, I feel free to delete it from mine - and I said, "I think tomorrow I'm going to do X, what do you think? (long pause) You're not listening to me at all, are you? I could say anything and you'd have no idea. Wokka wokka wokka, WOKKA wokkawokkawokkawokka."

Pause.

Mr. McGee, finally looking up: "Wait, what did you say about X?"

And then he looked totally puzzled when I collapsed in laughter.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This Is What True Love Looks Like

Since my allergies are the limiting factor in our acquisition of a dog, I went in to get allergy tested today. As I've written before, needles freak me out, to the point where I had minor hysterics when I had to learn to give Orange Cat his shots. It's not the sharp poking of it or anything; it's the part where something is partway in your skin. That TOTALLY wigs me. I can't watch people get stitches very well, either (when Mr. McGee had to have a dozen stitches on a deep cut in his shoulder, the doctor threatened to make me leave because I looked so sick). When I was growing up it was a big thing to stick safety pins under the top layer of skin on your fingers, where you can't actually feel it, but just SEEING other people with that made me want to scream. Ditto IVs when I can see where they go under the skin.

Anyway, so I went to get allergy testing today, which involved FORTY-NINE NEEDLES making scratches on my back (47 allergens and 2 controls), which wasn't awful because I couldn't SEE them, but which hurt like a mofo when they do it right next to your spine.

This was followed up by TEN ACTUAL INJECTIONS in my arm, which I COULD see, and which almost sent me into hysterics. I managed to retain control, primarily by babbling to the nurse about how fear of the violation of bodily boundaries, such as skin, is one of the primary human fears, which is why it appears in virtually every holy book as a big clean/unclean issue ... I don't think she cared, but I managed not to completely freak out. She did suggest, however, when she left me alone for fifteen minutes to develop the itchy bumps, that if I passed out (apparently I was white as a ghost and still shaking), I try to fall loudly enough that she'd hear me and come rescue me.

This is what true love looks like, people: FIFTY-NINE NON-MANDATORY NEEDLES IN ONE DAY.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Eyebrows McGee Peoria PlayHouse Challenge Update

Hey blogerinos, it's time to get serious!

The Eyebrows McGee Peoria PlayHouse Challenge has raised about 1/4 of its goal, so it's time to kick it into high gear. We've gotten donations from as far away as England and as nearby as two houses down from Eyebrows; from everyone from total strangers to Eyebrows's godmother.

This blog now registers about 200 daily readers (more on days I'm funny), so that's only $5 each to reach the $1000 goal!

I'd also like to appeal to other local bloggers to give the Challenge a shoutout on their blogs, for the following excellent reasons:

CJ is looking for more positive things to post about; the PlayHouse is definitely a positive thing AND isn't even eating up any greenspace in Glen Oak Park since it's using a pre-existing building! (Also, CJ is going to be on TV Tuesday, so everyone should watch, as I intend to if a) channel 59 is coming in on my rabbit ears and b) I'm not too dopey to figure out how the TV works, since I'm having massive allergy testing done Tuesday morning.)

Billy's already done me a solid, but I think he owes me a second one, if only for making me call him Billy (which I am doing diligently), which causes me an uncomfortable level of cognitive dissonance because, well, I don't know any other grown-ups named Billy. I can't find any with a quick wikipedia search, although I have discovered there is a Bosnian rapper named Billy. Who knew?

Lolly has a grandkid (a superfantastically cute grandkid!) and she's gotta have things to do with the grandkid!

Polly seems to have abandoned us, but in case she's looking for post fodder to end her drought, she can give the Challenge a shout-out!

Chef Kevin (who hilariously suggests in the header for his new Culinary Hotline blog that if you have a culinary emergency, you call the fire department and "request they bring the big hose!!") has already done some stuff with the Junior League, involving liquor, I'm told, so hopefully he doesn't mind doing one more thing.

Common Sense Peoria Dude because, well, this museum is just common sense for Peoria, dude!

BJStone as karmic atonement for his almost-wreck; BJ Aberle because it's privately - not governmentally - funded, so it won't conflict with his conservative ideals.

O'Brien at the Briar Patch because it would be another Good Thing to Do. Also because I promise to tell him my story about the crazy Neil Young groupie. :)

And it'll give P-Snark a chance to help fix what's wrong with Peoria. Or at least to title a post "What's Right with Peoria."

Rally Peoria because she's enormously committed to the future of Peoria's children, and here's a chance to help do something good for them by giving me a shoutout!

I can't think of any really good reason why Dave Jordan over at the Peoria Transportation Blog should give the Challenge a shoutout except that I diligently read him even though I NEVER HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT and it makes my head spin, so I should get points (and a shoutout!) for trying.

Willy Nilly because it'd give him something to post about other than Aaron Schock. (Whom I admit kinda creeps me out, but probably because I once had this creepy dude who looked like him sort-of stalking me, even though he we called him the "Teutonic Imp," and even though he told me to my face that women should only get college educations to help their kids read better and got the predictable response, and even though he was an ultraconservative who said people should accept no help from anyone but be entirely self-made and then clammed up and got really offended when I asked him where his Porsche came from (the answer: daddy). He STILL wanted to date me. And he looked an awful lot like Schock so pictures of him always give me the willies. The Willy Nillys, even.)

Angie shares my dorky inclinations, so I know she's just dying to give the Challenge a shoutout!

And PeoriaIllinoisian is already the PlayHouse's biggest supporter with a Y chromosome. I probably don't even need to ask. :)

So there you go. I expect the shout-outs (and donations) to roll in! It's getting hot under my unabomber hood and glasses (in this horrific humid heat that WILL NOT BREAK) trying to hide my identity, so let's get this done so I can get out of this closet!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Word of God Is Not Compatible Across Platforms

Which would be why it took me a friggin' HOUR to transfer the Psalms from my Bible-on-mp3 to my iPod. GRRRRRR!

(Wait, is Scripture supposed to make me really annoyed?)

Now I have to figure out how to make my iPod NOT randomize the Psalms playlist. It's a little jarring.

(I got Max McLean, who does a lovely job reading Scripture in a meaningful but not theatrical way. If you're in the market. NIV is not my favorite translation, but totally serviceable.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Primitive Brain Likes Gardening

So I've been reading these books on neuropsychology -- Yes, for fun, and yes, I realize this is possibly why I'm not the funky hip-hop goddess I'd hoped. I was reading something else entirely, saw a reference to a particular book on neuropsychology, thought, "Hrm, that might be interesting," and ended up reading half a shelf full, one leading to the next like a daisychain of dorkdom.

Anyway, I've been reading these books on neuropsychology, and one theory that really caught my eye was that is that it's our omnivorous nature that helped drive the development of our very large brains. (In fact, it might have been Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma that kicked me on this binge, I forget.) I'm not a science person, so forgive me if this isn't retold quite right, but the theory basically says that if you're a panda, all you have to know how to do to feed yourself is basically recognize bamboo. That's it. Just bamboo. As long as you can do that, you're golden. But omnivores, like us, have the entire world of potentially edible objects to choose from. Some of them will be hugely nutritious; some of them will kill you. Some will sometimes be nutritious but other times kill you. It's a tricky world when you're an omnivore, and some brain people think that it was our need to be able to identify food that initially pushed our brain development, particularly pattern recognition (find little red berry amid green leaves), memory (recall if this plant tried to kill me last time I ate it), and transmitted learning (e.g., language) -- if I can learn from YOU what you ate that was good, and what you ate that left you vomiting for three days, I don't have to try the experiment myself.

As part of this, they say, our brains get REALLY EXCITED when we recognize edible things. We get happy chemicals all over the place. "Yes! THAT! Nutritious! Congratulations!" the brain chemicals say, giving us a little foodgasm so we'll be sure to remember to identify bananas again. And again. And again.

I think this is why that in the space of a few short months, I have turned from a perfectly normal person into a gardening evangelist, like all those weirdos who talk about cultivars and get seed catalogs and care about the pH of their soil. We've been homeowners for three summers now. Before this, I grew a few well-behaved herbs in pots because herbs are expensive and pots are easy. Our first summer here, I did nothing, and mowed. I loathed it, and I'm not a big fan of lawns (as I've written before), so my initial goal in gardening was to remove as much lawn as possible and replace it with local plants (and bulbs) that require basically no work, no watering, and are better for the environment. Some work upfront, of course, but as I am a person who loathes heat, hates dirt, and isn't a big fan of the outdoors when I have to be IN the outdoors (I'd rather look at it from inside and not be the mosquito buffet table), I was willing to put in the upfront work to never have to deal with that section of lawn again.

This summer, we put in the vegetable garden, and suddenly I can't WAIT to go play in the dirt, and plant crazy things that will require daily watering and soil pH checks, and prune and deadhead and hoe (oh my Lord, I love my Amish-made hoe!), and just look at my plants.

This started, I think, the first time I went out and picked lettuce and OH MY GOD, I MADE FOOD FROM SCRATCH. I couldn't get over it. That lettuce just CAME UP FROM THE DIRT. For FREE! And it tasted so GOOD! I was grinning every time I saw the lettuce bed.

But then the squash arrived. And it's not like squash is hard to find, because there's a lot of them, but you do have to dig down through the squash leaves to get to the bright yellow fruits, and the first time I did this - EVERY time I do this - I get ridiculously delighted that I JUST FOUND A SQUASH! I want to do a mad little dance of joy (probably not hip-hop). I don't even LIKE squash.

And oh, the tomatoes! Finding a bright red tomato among the mass of leaves ... I just want to bite into it right there. Pulling onions is like finding buried treasure. And the corn - watching the corn grow, I seriously feel like, "This is what GOD must feel like when God makes things!" I mean, I grew something seven feet tall from a tiny quarter-inch seed in less than three months! And it's going to be FOOD! I am constantly wavering between pride that this is my own personal great achievement, making corn grow, and utter awe that I basically didn't DO anything and there's a seven-foot plant with FOOD on it in my yard!

So all this gardening madness, this desire to wear ugly shoes and get dirt under my fingernails, and this burning compulsion to explain to everyone the glories of growing kohlrabi, it's really not my fault. It's evolution's fault. I'm just getting totally flooded with happy-happy-joy-joy brain chemicals every time I find food. I mean, seriously, FOOD! IN MY BACK YARD! It's like crack, I swear. My inner hunter-gatherer can't get enough of it.

So forgive me if I waste lots of bits and bytes on gardening. It's not my fault; it's evolution at work, making my big primate brain all happy that it found nutrition.

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Want your child to grow up as spectacularly dorky as Eyebrows? Donate to the Eyebrows McGee Peoria PlayHouse Challenge and help a little dork grow into a big dork who ponders the evolutionarily-driven neuropsychological rewards of picking squash.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hip-Hop Eyebrows. Or Not.

I got a hip-hop exercise video.

I have discovered that I am not funky.

Like, desperately unfunky. Twitchy hyperactive squirrel with motor control problems unfunky.

It's bad.

Busy

I'm crazy-busy with work right now, which is good because I like making money and I love paying off student loans. But it's distracted me more than a little from responsible, regular blogging. It's also making me not-funny because I spend all day sitting at my computer and I have no opportunities to trip and fall in amusing ways or meet the world's rudest people when I do nothing but stare at pixels. I'm not even getting my newspapers read until 8 p.m. I feel totally out of it! I haven't even seen Pirates yet. I love pirates generally - arrrrr! I'm trying to convince my friend Emmochka, who is marrying the Thor-the-Norwegian-guy, to have a pirate-themed wedding. I don't think it's working.

Anyway, that is all to say, better bloggage soon!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In Which Grey Cat Scares the Bejeezus out of Me

This actually happened a little bit ago but scared me so much it took me a while to calm down and blog about it.

So a little bit ago, I woke up in the middle of the night sweating from the heat. Our master bedroom is the very last stop on our 1950-installed duct-work, so the air conditioning doesn't really condition our master bedroom worth crap. I got out of bed and opened the two windows on the side wall, and one of the windows on the front wall, in the hopes of getting some ventilation, and went back to bed to sleep uncomfortably in the heat.

Around 5:30 a.m., when the sun was just up, I woke up to a cat distress cry. Now, whenever somebody's breathing pattern changes, or somebody rolls over, or sighs, I typically wake up, ensure no husbands or cats have actively expired, and roll over to go back to sleep. But this was an actual distress cry, so I threw off the sleep and groggily sat up in bed to look for the source.

It took me a minute to locate it because Grey Cat was OUT THE WINDOW, HANGING ON BY TWO TINY PAWS, AND CRYING FOR ALL HE WAS WORTH. (Orange Cat, totally unconcerned, started purring like crazy because I was awake and that might mean extra petting.) Apparently I had neglected to put the screens on the two front windows in the master bedroom (which we rarely open) but in my sleep-addled state, had opened them anyway, and Grey Cat went out to explore! I'm not sure if he was crawling on the roof and couldn't get back in, or if he got halfway out and realized he wanted back in, but he was doing a tiny kitty pull-up, hanging on to the window sill with two little paws and his chin. I'm just relieved he didn't fall two stories! What with the adrenaline rush as I raced over to pull him inside, I'm not sure I slept for the next WEEK!

I have never seen a cat happier to get back inside the house than Grey Cat was.

This was not, incidentally, his first upper-story-window adventure. When we were in a townhouse in North Carolina, Grey Cat leaned on the screen of a 3rd-floor window so hard that he popped it free and it was only due to Mr. McGee's super-fast reflexes that Grey Cat didn't take a header three stories onto the concrete.

I'm not sure I can cope with having actual children when Grey Cat does such vicious things to my heartrate.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's Me-High!

My corn is not KNEE-high by the Fourth of July but ME-high! (that'd be 5'2")

It's very exciting. I've got veritable corn porn in my backyard; the corn's boy parts are ready to flower, and the corn is growing girl parts as fast as it can.

Pictures soon of the McGee garden, as well as an update on the Eyebrows McGee Peoria PlayHouse Challenge (about 1/4 of the way to the goal!), but I've had a loooooooong week, which is annoying since it was only three days long!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My Newspaper Now Comes Annotated

Some helpful person, either someone at the JS press or my delivery driver, now feels the need to annotate my newspaper. I pulled my July 4 paper out of the sleeve, and found that the (admittedly appalling) subhead on the first page had been underlined in ballpoint ink for my convenience, to wit:



I'm just really not sure what to do with that ... I'm a little bemused.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Snuggle Tag

Not much to say over the Fourth of July holiday, except that now that my grandfather is reading my blog, I have to use EVEN FEWER swear words than when it was just my dad ....

Grey Cat has a new game, which I have dubbed Snuggle Tag. When Mr. McGee and I are sitting watching TV, Grey Cat goes from one to the other of us, sitting down for about 15 seconds to purr madly, then getting up to go to the other person's lap, purr madly for 15 seconds, and do it again. Then back and forth from one lap to the other, constantly, twice a minute. We're not real sure if he's trying to find the best lap for snuggling, or if he's trying to keep us in line. But this version of Snuggle Tag is fine.

The version that is NOT fine is the version he's started playing at 5 a.m. Twenty pounds of cat on your lap is one thing. Twenty pounds of cat on your chest/boobs/family jewels/stomach at FIVE IN THE MORNING is an entirely different thing! He's started crawling from one to the other of us (we're two inches apart!) at 5 a.m., curling up on each of us in turn and purring madly, then switching to the other one 15 seconds later. So twice a minute, every minute, from 5 a.m. onwards, we get 20 lbs of cat using our bodies as sidewalks.

Sometimes we knock him off the bed, but he just comes back two minutes later, full of EVEN MORE PURRING and more snuggling.

The ideal situation is when we're so close together that he can sit on both of us at once. Sometimes this stops him from playing tag, apparently because he's subdued us both at the same time.

I'm not sure if he's trying to, like, improve our marriage through ultra-close sleeping, or if he's just REALLY PERVERSE. All I know is that I have bruises all over my torso from a TWENTY-POUND CAT playing tag.