Around the World With a Vagabond

Exotic Vegetables are Not Funny February 28, 2011

Filed under: Exotic Vegetables Are Not Funny,February Doesn't Suck — christynichols @ 11:05 am
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This summer my roommates decided to grow a vegetable patch in the backyard. I think they are growing quite an assortment of veggies, but I never go back there unless I am fetching my iPod.


I don’t know what superman vitamins are in the soil, but the vegetables seem to be doing quite well.  The zucchini in particular, are considerably well-endowed.  They are shaming the corn. It’s almost embarrassing.  But size doesn’t matter . . . . . .  Right?


Every few days, one of my roommates wanders to the garden, the skipping dogs at his heels, and carries back armfuls of homegrown rhubarb, spinach, and zucchini, and this is what happens to our kitchen table:


The zucchini are huge.  So enormous, that we can’t possibly put even a whole zucchini in a single dish.  They look more like sculptures, and I keep forgetting that they are food for eating, and not table centerpieces or kitchen knick-knacks. You know, like those dumb little ceramic chickens in some people’s kitchens?


Anyway, I forget that I can eat the zucchini, because they are just too big.  They are even too big for the vegetable drawer in the fridge.  When I cook, I take out the veg from this drawer.  Empty veg drawer = no veg. So tonight, even though these gigantic zucchini are stacked right on my table, I still ate my cous cous dinner without any veg, and I could have chunked it up with giant zucchini parts.


There is a reason I don’t consider the zucchini to be food. The one use I have of these rather impressive zucchinis is to put them on display in somewhat obscene positions after my roommates have gone to bed.  This way, when they get up at stupid-o’clock in the morning, they can have a little chuckle over coffee.

Who doesn’t like to start their mornings by having a chuckle at vegetables that look like genitals?


Immature? Yes. Funny? Yes.


I know this is juvenile, I know! I should be embarrassed, but I’m not, and I’ve done the same thing in public when fruits and vegetables are left out unattended:

The first night that the boyfriend and I arranged the green giants on the table, tomatoes and onions suggestively placed, we snickered and took photos.  We couldn’t wait to get scolded by our teacher-housemates.


But the next morning –  nothing! Not one word was said.  When I woke up, I discovered the erotic zucchini art had been dismantled. I was confused why nothing had happened! No note. No comments. No nothing.  How disappointing.


So. . . the next night the boyfriend and I arranged the zucchini again. This time using a few pornographic lemons:


Again, nothing.


We were absolutely determined to arrange the vegetables as obscenely as we could. If only there were cantaloupes in the house.  We were bound to offend. We desperately wanted our dirty vegetable joke to be appreciated! Or at least we wanted to get in some kind of trouble!


Every night, every night for 10 days, we put the zucchini on shameful display, and not once were we rewarded with reprimands. Not once.


Then one night, before we could come up with more creative and more obvious  ways to offend our gardener roommates, the zucchini was baked. Sliced, cut up and baked.  We were so disappointed that our roommates never caught on to our immature zucchini penis jokes.


Oh well. Perhaps our jokes will be got when the pumpkins are picked.




Spanish Guitar and a Rainbow of Books February 27, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,Spanish Guitar and a Rainbow of Books — christynichols @ 3:04 am


When I finally move my bookshelf to Melbourne, I am going to train it to do this:



If only organizing everything was as much fun as Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp ( and Sean Ohlenkamp ( have made it seem, then chores would be a party.


Most Unpersuasive Advertisement . . Ever February 26, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,Most Unpersuasive Advertisement Ever — christynichols @ 12:16 am
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Usually, when I see posters for movies or museum events on billboards or in train stations, I am suckered right in.  Doesn’t matter what film is coming, what broadway show, or exhibition, it looks amazing to me.  I am every marketer’s dream target.


Except for this exhibition poster on the tram through downtown Melbourne:


Everything about this advertisement screams: DON’T GO!


I could carry on with my lists of why this advertisement is completely ineffective, but I think it speaks for itself.


Don’t go.  And don’t take your children.




A Success Story February 24, 2011

Filed under: A Success Story,February Doesn't Suck — christynichols @ 12:03 pm
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Today I accomplished the laundry.  This is a huge feat for me. There are so many steps! I end up losing interest half-way through the process and then don’t finish the laundry for days.


Last week, in another botched attempt at good house keeping, I washed the bed sheets.  The sheets were hung out to dry in the warm wind for a while, and then I tumbled them up and threw them in our room to land wherever they might fall. That’s as far as I was willing to go to finish the laundry.


Later, Chris began to finish the cleaning that I had abandoned. He opened up the bundle of clean sheets and as he did, about two shovels-full of twigs and sticks and leaves and dirt drifted off the sheets and onto our carpet.  Parts of the twigs and dirt still clung to the bed sheet. One twig was almost an entire flowering branch.


“What’s happened?” he asked me.


Blank-faced, I looked at the dirt and twigs on our bedroom floor and the plant stuck to the bed sheet.


“I cleaned them for you.”


I like to think the look he gave me as one of amusement, but it was probably more a mix of confusion and disapproval with my explanation.


“There’s plants and a bush near where I hung them to dry. The wind probably blew the sheets into them.”


He looked at me. In his head were probably thoughts of frustration, but Chris is very good about keeping these kinds of thoughts quiet.


“What?” I say. He can’t understand how I didn’t notice that I had grabbed parts of the outside lawn and brought them in with our clean laundry.  I guess he has a valid point.


Chris proceeded to take the twiggy bed sheets outside and give them a good shaking. Then he came back in and folded all of the sheets neatly and put them away. Then he got out the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed up all the dirt from the carpet, and then put the vacuum away.  He then made the bed, hung some lights, and cleaned up the dresser.


How did I help? I laughed with my housemate about the dirt on the bed sheets, and then had some coffee.


He probably wonders all the time why I can’t manage to finish simple tasks.  Or to not muck up the simple things.


But today, I did the laundry. I did every step and I didn’t get distracted by 8 different things along the way, even though the sun was out and the dogs were playful.  And I didn’t bring in dirt and plant-parts with the clean clothes, either!


Yep.  Today, laundry day, was a success!


. . . . . . . . I know. My life is sad.


Bittersweet Victory February 23, 2011



My nephew is nearly 9 months old.  He has been wiggling around and trying to crawl for weeks.  The other day, he managed to hold on to the coffee table on his own and lift into a standing position. He was so proud of his little self.

In the last week, this little boy has had an enormous breakthrough in his infant months, and has managed to pull his plump baby body up the staircase all on his own!  My sister was so proud of him! She emailed me a video of this victory, my little nephew, all baby smiles and cheery drool.


His parents didn’t revel in his accomplishment for long, however.  The picture I was sent today was not of Logan propped up on the couch, and not of him holding himself up against the coffee table, or achieving a long-distance crawl.


In this photo, my sweet little nephew had been jailed in a playpen.  His face and hands are mashed against the sides in playful protest, as the sides are far too high for him to crawl up and over to freedom.


He looks happy enough, sitting there with all his toys, but I feel for the poor kid.


He’s achieved one mammoth challenge, only to be presented with another, almost immediately.


Such is life, kid.  Such is life.



Kia Kaha, Kiwis February 22, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,Kia Kaha Kiwis — christynichols @ 12:47 pm
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I know this category of posts is meant to be themed with reasons why February doesn’t suck. However, I spent much of the day in front of the TV, watching as the horrific events in Christchurch unfolded. For many of my friends, this doesn’t make for a very positive and uplifting February.


The surreal footage wobbled as the camera swung from one crumbled building to the next, capturing images of people crying, shouting, and shaking in shock and fright.


I’ve never been to New Zealand, but in the past few years I have met some pretty stellar Kiwis.


It’s heartbreaking to witness a peaceful nation uprooted by Mother Nature into what looks like a war zone.  Streets are flooded; loved ones are trapped in fallen buildings.  There is no electricity, and the city sits in bleak darkness tonight.


In response to the earthquake, a friend of mine posted “Kia Kaha” as her Facebook status.  When I wiki’d it, I found it to be a phrase taken from New Zealand’s indigenous Maori language, and intended as a comfort and solace. It means forever strong.


And they will be.  When you meet a Kiwi, there is no denying their spirit, their toughness, their resilience, and their natural instinct to come together as a community and help, rescue, and rebuild.


While what happened today is indeed tragic, there is still some good to be found.


In Christchurch, there just happened to be a medical conference in session, with numbers of doctors from Melbourne, and probably other places in the world, in attendance.  The fact that the New Zealand city coincidentally had extra doctors on hand today is one good thing that “doesn’t suck”.


There also just happened to be a military training in progress in Christchurch, so having trained soldiers instantly available and in action is another thing about this day that “doesn’t suck.”


Keeping up with the headlines and breaking news, there are stories of heroism emerging from the devastation, and images of people of varying class and status working together to lift the same stretcher, heave building blocks, or carry out the wounded. There hasn’t been a case of looting, or blame, or fleeing chaos.  In fact, any images of fleeing are of groups of people, strangers, holding out their hands and fleeing together, most to return to their shaken homes and families.


There was only one arrest today in Christchurch of a man whose crime was that he was too insistent to help, so much that he was endangering himself and other emergency workers.  He was arrested because he was crazed with the urge to dig through the rubble and save someone.  Probably someone he knew.  Who can blame him?


Hearts and prayers and thoughts are going out to you, Kiwi friends.


“Kia Kaha.” Stay strong.



The Coffee Posture February 21, 2011

Filed under: February Doesn't Suck,The Coffee Posture — christynichols @ 11:58 am
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If making hot coffee was a yoga posture, I’d be in better health. Like my step-dogs.


When I was working in Savannah, Georgia, I came across an advertisement for Doggy Yoga hosted by the Save-A-Life animal welfare organization every Sunday. Strange, but it’s popular, and my dogs seem pretty bendy.


The first time I ever tried yoga, I was immediately put off.  We took an hour to do 5 postures that, in trying, I discovered I couldn’t do and left in a huff of frustration.  I think it was the tree frog position that broke me. I didn’t go back for years.


When I did, I learned to love it, so much that I took up hot yoga, then challenged myself to do hot yoga for 60 days straight.  I managed it for about 45, but this was in England and I had to unexpectedly fly back to California, and so my streak was broken.


45 days isn’t bad though. I really got into yoga. For a while back in California, I even taught Power Yoga.  To people who are hesitant or intimidated a little by the seemingly physical demands of yoga, Power Yoga was terrifying.  I should have called it Empowering Yoga.  The lexis of language is so important.


Anyway, since December, I have let my yoga practice fly out the window, and with it has flown my posture, my flexibility, and an over all feeling of good health.


There is a Hot Yoga studio not far from where I live, and I think I might just throw down the big bucks in exchange for a sweaty towel and healthy pores. Lord knows I need it.


Every morning when my dogs wake up they make me feel guilty.  Crawford, who does the Upward-Facing Dog straight after waking from his sleep, and looks at me for his breakfast. Sewell surpasses him (and me) when she wakes by beginning with a Downward-Facing Dog, then stretches, pauses, and flows smoothly and beautifully into her Upward-Facing Dog.


Yeah, yeah,” I think as I move into my post-sleep routine and make a cup of coffee.

My dogs do this better.