Wishing each and every one of you all good things in the new year.


She's outta here

Tonight, Prada's excellent adventure comes to an end as I return her to her daddy, and things get back to normal around here.

She has traveled the backs of sofas and launched herself from end tables. She's chewed on my shoe and peed (more than once) on my carpet. She has led me through rain and snow across Union Hill in search of a spot suitable for pooping. Her ball and Kong remain intact, while Alex's favorite toy is in shreds. And she has chased and chewed Alex from nose to tail. Just this morning she even goaded cranky old Jack into joining the rolling wrestling match that has dominated the last week here.

She's a pain in the ass, and completely delightful. Brett and I both look forward to next time.

Christmas night

After a relaxing Christmas day, and a late afternoon nap with the schnauzers, Brett and I headed out to a movie tonight. That's rare in itself as I'm not much of a moviegoer, much to Brett's dismay. We headed to the Tivoli to see Milk, going there because it's rarely crowded, and the crush of people is the thing I hate about movies.

You already know the basics of the story. Harvey Milk leaves New York for San Francisco, energizes the Castro, and after a number of failed attempts is finally elected Supervisor. He orchestrates the defeat of Proposition 6 and enacts a gay rights ordinance, only to be shot to death by Dan White (portrayed as an uptight, ego-driven boozehound by Josh Brolin). Still, the storytelling is really well done, and there's probably some things you'll learn while you watch. The Twinkie Defense? That came from Dan White's attorneys, which I did not know. I also didn't know that Dan White served 5 years and was released from prison. Five years for two deaths doesn't seem quite like justice, but he returned to San Francisco and evenually killed himself so in the end I suppose it doesn't matter.

There's also lots of old news footage of Anita Bryant. We Wiki'd her when we got home to see if she was still alive. Sadly she is, but I'm pleased to report that her divorce apparently ruined her in the eyes of her fundamentalist christian audience, and she's filed for bankruptcy twice. She now lives in Edmond, Oklahoma where she runs something called Anita Bryant Ministries. I've never heard of Anita Bryant Ministries, which is just as it should be.

Sean Penn is amazing as Harvey Milk. You start watching thinking "wow, Sean Penn just kissed a guy" but before long it's all Harvey and no Sean. The supporting cast is just as good. James Franco plays Milk's boyfriend Scott Smith, and couldn't be more adorable. Admittedly, I have a bit of a 70's fetish. The hair, the clothes, the mustaches...yeah baby. But even without all that the acting is great.

My verdict: well worth the price of a ticket. Go and enjoy.

Our holiday houseguest

We've got company for the next 10 days! Prada (owned by a cute 23 year old gay boy, thus the unfortunate name) is a year old schnauzer who's staying with us while her daddy goes home to Michigan for Christmas.

I picked her up today, and within an hour or so she and Alex were chasing each other around the house. Jack doesn't really want to play, but doesn't seem to want her playing with Alex either so he just sits and barks. They're on break now and she's sitting in my lap as I type, and Jack is taking a breather on the couch.

Her dad likes her shaggy rather than in a standard schnauzer cut, and while I like my boys trimmed up, I do think she's awfully cute all fuzzy. She got a bath and her teeth brushed for her stay, and she's just as sweet as can be. The boys know to avoid the laptop cords from our computers so once she figures that out we should be all good.

Cross your fingers for us. I don't really mind the mayhem so much, but I worry that Brett's head may explode!

Only slightly stronger than my vanity...

...is my love for the schnauzers. I nodded off on the couch this evening and Brett proceeded to take phone pics of us. Alex is good about sleeping on us. Jack prefers his pile of pillows, but isn't against wedging himself up against whichever of the daddies is close.

In other news, I'm horrified at how thin my hair has gotten on top.

Office party

Over the years at my firm the holiday gathering has gotten bigger and more involved. Until this year, when we had a holiday lunch at a hotel up the street from the office. It was a nice room, and because the hotel doesn't have food service it was catered by Grand Street, and really quite good. Except the mashed potatoes, which were magical.

I work in the Operations group, and have a few vacation days in a use-or-lose situation, so I took today off and put together a little gathering for my co-workers. I think 10 or so is the perfect number for things like this, and that was about what I had.

It was a nice opportunity to use the old white ironstone pieces I've been picking up lately, and I was pleased with how my table looked. The mix of patterns and styles, all in white, against a neutral linen cloth was nice. I wish I had taken a picture, but I was still pulling things together when the first person arrived. (Thank you again Dan for putting together my cheese platter!) My bronze altar candlesticks work with everything, and the bowl I brought back from France made a perfect centerpiece just filled with colorful retro Christmas ornaments.

Everyone came and seemed to enjoy themselves. We're having the most God-awful, freezing, wet weather, so I did some hot ham sandwiches with a mustard and butter spread, and a cheesy potato and corn chowder. For those that just wanted to snack there were cheeses and grapes, hummus, vegetables and dip, and nuts and wasabi peas. (are wasabi peas addictive for anyone besides me?)

Finally, props to the girls behind the deli counter at the Brookside Market. You recommended a ham, which you advised I should taste. When it was delicious and I ordered some, you first asked how I wanted it sliced and then laid it out neatly, making it easy to build sandwiches for a crowd. The other grocery store I sometimes shop at just grabs a fist full, weighs it, and tosses it in a bag.

All in all, a busy day, but a great evening. Here's hoping rush hour tomorrow morning isnt a total mess.

This post is brought to you by the number Eleven

Happy anniversary sweetheart!

All my love-

Bath day at Chez Malaise

When Jack was a puppy I gave him baths in the kitchen sink until it was time for his big boy haircut, then he went to the groomer in our vet's building. The last time he was there they scraped his neck and didn't tell me. I found out after returning home from dinner to find my baby all pink from bleeding and scratching. $170 later at the emergency vet he was bandaged up and much better. I cancelled his next grooming appointment and wondered where we'd go.

A woman I worked with gave me a business card for AJ's Zoom N Groom. Amanda and Jacquie came and showed me around their mobile grooming van. Extended in the back and on top it housed a full size tub, hydraulic grooming table, heating, cooling, and maybe most importantly, lots of dog treats. I got an appointment and hoped for the best.

I worked odd hours then, and was home for Jack's second appointment. We answered the door and when he saw who it was he ran to the kitchen, got one of his stuffed animals and brought it to them. That was all I needed to see.

When I sold the house and moved in with Brett, Kirby and Jack got groomed together. When prices went up we stopped, but before long we were back on the waiting list, and shortly after that back to regular grooming. When Kirb was gone Jacquie cared enough to send a card. When Alex arrived she was happy to add him to the appointment.

It's wonderful to see people who have their own business and a great product do well. The girls run two vans now, each working alone, because all of their routes were full and they were turning away so many customers. It's so convenient to just leave a check on the counter and know she'll take care of everything. More than that, it's worth the price (which isn't cheap) knowing that she'll be good to them like they were her own, and after an hour and a half or so they're back home safe and sound.

She comes once a month, usually on a Thursday, early in the morning. Brett's in charge of AM walks, and says they pull like hell when they see the van. We go off to work as she does her thing, and come home to the clean, handsome boys you see above.

Celebrity Blogrolls

How do you know when your blog is attracting serious attention? When Elle Decor wants to know what you're tired of.

Congratulations to Mrs. Blandings, Decorno, and ArchitectDesign! Here's wishing you all a less styled, less icon-laden, and taxidermy free new year!

Faux Fir

Who knew it would be so hard to shoot a Christmas tree?!

I got home from work, and after a quick walk and getting schnauzer dinner in the bowls, I grabbed the camera thinking I'd take a couple shots of my funky blue, orange, and silver tree. Daylight was not my friend. It seemed to make the tree look oddly flat, and you could see the light wires clear as day.

Once the sun was down I turned off all the lights, set my camera for night shots, and things got a little bit (a very little bit) better. The night setting seems to emphasize even the slightest hand movement, so you'll have to pardon a bit of blur.

Here's a detail shot taken mostly to show you the blue onion ornaments. I loved the shape and color, but because they're plastic I was really ambivalent. You can see the seams in places, and there were only two boxes in the entire place. But I went for it, and on the tree they really don't appear any different from the glass balls. I'm loving the orange glass balls too. I might have to venture back for a few more boxes of them for Christmas future.

About my balls

In an effort to smack ourselves into the holiday spirit we've put up the Christmas tree. As I've said in the past, I don't like a lot of holiday decor, but what I do decorate, I want to decorate well. Our tree began with clear lights, followed by pearl balls and more balls in three different shades of silver. I also threw in the 9 Pottery Barn mercury glass drops I bought on after-Christmas clearance a few years ago. (these are wonderful, I wish I'd tried to get more, eBay has none at the moment) It was sort of monochromatic (which I like) and simple (also good), but seemed to lack something. Brett said the something was color.

I'd taken the green balls and put them in a glass urn on our new cabinet in the entry. The red and blue ones went in a huge glass hurricane on the sideboard in a subtle Christmas nod to our alma mater. And the gold ones...they stayed in their boxes in the plastic tub. I have some gorgeous brown ones as well, but no real use for them this year. And my small collection of retro Radko Shiny-Brite are on the dining room table in the white ironstone bowl I brought back from Paris.

The point being, I have a thing about buying Christmas balls. In a few years we'll have a complete wardrobe of them in every color, because it seems I can only handle a limited pallette on our tree.

Our office closed at 4pm today because of the ice and snow. Frugal shopper (and 4-wheel driver) that I am, off I went to Hobby Lobby to find some half off bargains to pimp our tree.

You could burn about 80 percent of that store at no real loss, but there are a few things there I can put to work. I found a couple sets of onion-shaped ornaments in a really great blue. Think blueprint rather than navy or royal. I also picked up a box of 12 sort of swirling, ribbed, tulip-shaped things that were that blue over silver. They're plastic, and I thought they might be awful, but they've turned out to be just fine.

And then, there in the aisle of glass ornaments, was what I had in the back of my mind but never thought anyone would have: burnt orange Christmas balls. I bought three six packs. Finally, some blue plaid organza ribbon for garland finishes it nicely, without being overly visible. (Note to lower-price-point ribbon manufacturers: There is still a market for ribbon without wired edges. Please remember us going forward.)

So the tree trimming is complete. Not overly traditional, but not at all out-there, and we're way pleased with the result.

(my apologies to anyone offended by this post's title. I'm afraid I'm just the kind of boy who cant resist a good ball joke)

Craftsman Corner: Ed Gilliam

Not long after I started working at my company I joined a few of the ladies for a day of antique shopping and a craft show. It was there that my co-worker Judy introduced me to her brother-in-law, Ed Gilliam, and his carved wood Santas. I loved that they were clunky and imperfect, and often times sort of angry looking. Judy said for that reason they were all self-portraits, although Ed was always just as nice as he could be to me. I believe that Ed worked for the railroad until an injury put him on disabililty, and then he started carving.
Brett fell in love with them as well, as evidenced here. We've picked up a few each year, and while we have a couple of the Father Christmas figures, we like the Santas most, and they make up the bulk of the collection. Brett also bought his mother a few as gifts over the years as she liked them too.
Some of them have things in their hands, a gift or a flag, or a sack of toys. Some just stand. We have a couple cowboys and one in his union suit. There's one vaguely shaped like a top, one like an egg, and one shaped like a Christmas tree with Santa faces on three sides.

I love the ones that don't smile.

Although the ones that do smile are fun as well. The little one on the right above is probably my favorite of all.

Ed was getting up there when we met in the 2002, and now isn't able to work anymore, so these are it. He and his wife sold their place in Paradise, Missouri (north of Smithville) and got an apartment in Smithville to be closer to family.

While it's sad that he can't carve now, it's nice to think of how many of these he's left behind. He sold them all over the country and had a nice little following, so there are lots out there. I think that sort of legacy would be appreciated by anyone who makes things for a living.

First Impressions (and another old lamp)

Last month Brett and I went out to First Friday because Harriet Bigham, my high school art teacher, was showing at Barkley down in the Crossroads. I'd always liked her work (still do) and I'm so glad she's painting again.

It was cool enough to keep the crowd down (you'll never see me there in the summer when it's more beer garden than gallery walk), but not so awful that you hated to be out. After a few galleries we walked over to Pizzabella for dinner, and then down to see what was new at Black Bamboo.

I've long been a fan of old asian lacquered furniture, and you can always count on Black Bamboo to have some great pieces. Our entryway has needed attention for a while now, and Brett really liked some of the old lacquer cabinets. Still, I wasn't sure that red or black lacquer was exactly right for where we had in mind. There was a small piece in a gorgeous burnt orange, but on our two-tone brown marble floor, hmm, maybe not.

Last weekend we stopped in Kincaid's at 45th and State Line, across the street from Mrs. Blandings favorite, Christoper Filley. Kincaid's is exclusively asian casegoods, architectural, and ceramics. She's got some really wonderful things, including the Chinese cabinet pictured above which now lives in our entry, and totally jump started us to get that room in shape.

Tonight after dinner, completely on a whim, we painted the walls. We'd been planning to since we moved in, but with the cabinet and the print (relocated from the bedroom where it was never really visible), and some paint we had on hand (Sherwin Williams Restrained Gold), we got on it.

The white crackled ceramic lamp (yes, there's always a lamp) was a six buck estate sale buy that I had rewired and waiting for the perfect spot. The new small black barrel shade and silver greek key finial from The Light Shop give it more the scale of a buffet lamp. The lines, while not expressly asian, work great with the old lacquer cabinet. A small round raku box, a preserved boxwood wreath from Nell Hill's, a candle, and we're good. This will be great to come home to each evening.