Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kids these days

(I told G this story the other night, and he enjoyed it so much he suggested I put it in my blog.)

Part of my job involves working with kids. I lead a discussion with them at the beginning and the end of their day with us (if you don't know where I work or what my job is, I'm sure this doesn't make much sense). I ask a lot of questions of the kids and encourage their participation. They are usually very enthusiastic. The group this week made me laugh with their over-the-top enthusiasm.

I wanted to get a vote on which of the five stations they had visited during the day was their favorite.

OK. I'm going to ask you to think of something in your head and then raise your hand. (Hands go up) Not yet. I want you to think about which of the stations was your favor(Hands go up)ite. Not yet. Don't raise your hand until I ask you to. Does everyone have their favorite in their head? (Hands go up) Not yet. Don't raise your hand until I ask you to. OK. (Hands go up) Everyone put their hand down. Don't raise your hand until I ask you to. Now, I want you to raise your hand (Hands go up) IF (Hands back down) station 1 was your favorite. (Selective hands go up) blah, blah, blah.

They were just so ready to raise their hands they didn't care what it was for or if they knew the answer or anything. I should have told them they were volunteering for clean-up duty.

I really enjoy working with the kids, and I think I might be doing a good job because one of the kids from the enthusiastic class said to me, "You're good!" That's high praise from a fifth grader.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Better than a car wash

My windshield developed a crack in the upper left corner a couple of weeks ago. I noticed it right after G had driven it, so I naturally blamed it on him. The crack wasn't growing, so it wasn't at the top of my list of things to take care of.

I happened to be sitting in the passenger's seat last week and noticed that a second crack was developing in the upper right corner. Replacing the windshield moved up the list, but it still wasn't at the top.

I drove to lunch earlier this week, watching the right crack, which was slowly getting larger. I was gauging its progress in relation to a spot on the glass, and I realized it was growing by the minute. The next time I looked over (mere seconds later), it had jumped about 10 inches! Now, I was in panic mode. I had visions of the windshield breaking into pieces and falling into my lap as I was driving. Of course, the pieces would be sharp shards, not harmless rounded safety glass pieces. They would cut my face and hands and cause me to crash the car, and it would be terrible.

So when I returned to work, I called to set up an appointment for the replacement of my windshield. I asked about the mobile service they advertise in their ad, expecting it to be difficult to actually get that service. She said she could schedule mobile service for the next day (perfect so far), but I knew I'd catch her on the extra fee. But guess what? There is no fee for mobile service. Even though my car was about 30 minutes away from their shop. Great! I'll take it. In fact, why wouldn't everyone take it? Who are the suckers who go to the trouble to bring their car to them?

I now have a brand spanking new windshield, and the best part is that it's totally clean, inside and out. I also recently replaced by wiper blades, so I feel like I'm driving a new car. And for a fraction of the cost!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Georgia (Aunt Pat) on my mind

GAP and I had great fun staying in the lovely motel you've heard so much about. Our typical schedule was that I would go for a run while she showered, and while I was showering, she would watch the morning news, mainly to see what kind of weather we should expect.

As an aside, the weather was really irrelevant because we spent our days inside a building in which the temperature ranged from slightly cool (2-5 degrees below comfortable) to down right frigid (15-20 degrees below comfortable). We walked to the building in short sleeves and then wore jackets all day inside.

Anyway, one morning after my shower, GAP told me that Rod Stewart had been singing on one of the national morning news shows. She said he was really showing his age and he didn't even sound like himself. We agreed that sometimes that happened when people got old. I returned to the bathroom to dry my hair, and when I was finished, GAP tried to tell me something.

It took a while for her to get it out because she was laughing so hard, but it finally came out that the reason Rod Stewart didn't sound like himself was because he was actually Barry Manilow.

That explains it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The evidence

So back to the awful hotel business.

My aunt (Georgia Aunt P, or GAP) arrived first. I'm sure the facts that she was by herself, exhausted, and hungry upon arrival made the entire experience more traumatizing than amusing. By the time I arrived the next day, things were starting to be funny. What things? Well, for one, the contents of the drawers:

Drawer 1 -

Contents: two cans of Budweiser still attached to the 6-pack ring, and an empty 6-pack ring
Question: Why would you store your beer in a drawer when there's a refrigerator in the room?

Drawer 2 -
Contents: an article of clothing, perhaps a man's shirt?, and an item wrapped in foil
Question: What is the thing wrapped in foil? (We decided it was a joint, which left us wondering how we would explain it to the police when the next tenant in the room reported it and we were the last ones to stay there and why didn't we dispose of that stuff or tell the housekeeper to if it wasn't ours because clearly we were aware of it since our prints were all over the drawer.)

And there were other things.
The bathroom floor was dirty (GAP was trying to tell herself it was stained, but how do you stain tile evenly?), so it was necessary to wear shoes if you wanted to be anywhere other than the bed. The phone hadn't been plugged in when GAP arrived, and the man at the front desk had told her to just move the bed and plug it in. When she did so, she realized that there was no plug - just a hole in the wall where it should have been. I'm sure I'm forgetting other things, but you probably get the picture.

When my aunt and I returned to the room on my first night, she showed me the drawers, and it was still a little tragic and not entirely comical at this point. I was talking to G on the phone and settling into my bed when I found the thing that pushed it over the edge into comedy: my pillow.

Disgusting, right? It looked like old stains that hadn't come out in the wash, and that makes it a little better except that means that they washed it and decided it was okay to use. And that side of the pillow was facing up!

The pillow was the last straw, and GAP and I dissolved into school girl giggles. We put our jackets on over our pajamas and marched to the office, holding the pillow from the corner with two fingertips.

When we showed the pillow to the front desk attendant, she echoed our sentiments exactly: "That's disgusting!" She was kind enough to get me a whole new pillow instead of just replacing the pillowcase, and she promised to leave it where the management would see it.

While we were waiting for a new pillow, we struck up a conversation with a guest who appeared to just be chatting with the night staff. She was wearing a housecoat over what looked like pajamas (GAP and I felt right at home) and was drinking a beer. She asked us what room we were in and then exclaimed, "That's the best one! I just missed it by one day! I'm in 28. That's the one that flooded on us last time."

There were too many problems with this to even address. First, we have the best room? It's a (deleted to keep this polite, but it might rhyme with pitmole). Second, you're staying here again? Third, your room flooded last time? Repeat question number two.

We stayed there (GAP all the time, and me intermittently) for over two weeks. It got better. The next housekeeper appeared to actually clean (the bathroom floor wasn't stained in fact), but we never changed into our pajamas without checking our pillows first.

The beer and marijuana remained with us for the entire stay.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


When I was in college, I was apparently sleep-deprived much of the time. I would imagine most college students who went to class were. Because the only way to make sure you got enough sleep would be to sleep through class, right?

Anyway, I'd be in class, listening to the lecture attentively, and all of a sudden, I'd wake up. Not like I'd realize I was dreaming and I was still in bed*, but like I'd realize I had just fallen asleep in class and then woken up. I was a good student, so this was kind of embarassing. (Or would it have been more embarassing if I wasn't a good student? It would have explained my bad grades, I suppose.)

I would redouble my efforts to pay attention to the lecture, and then I'd wake up again. Mind you, I could never catch myself falling asleep. I only knew I had been sleeping when I woke up. I deemed myself narcoleptic.

The point of this story is that I have been a little blogoleptic recently. For a while I had bigger fish to fry, but lately I've just not realized I forgot to post until I'm driving away from the internet. This happened multiple times last week.

However, I have great pictures to post to illustrate the awful hotel, so I will try to post them tomorrow. I would do it now, but I don't want to shock you with too much information at once after such a long time without any.

* I have always been a good sleeper, and I feel so bad for my mom having to wake me up for school every day. Some days, after she came in to get me up, I would fall back asleep and dream I was getting ready. These were very realistic dreams in which I would put clothes on that I actually owned in real life, eat a normal breakfast, etc. When my mom would come back in to tell me to get up again, I would say, "I am." I'm sure she thought I was being obstinate, but I really did think I had already done all that.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

At least it's cheap

I know you've been concerned about the whole printer business. Have no fear. The day after I typed that entry, I happened to be nosing around in the supply closet, and guess what I found? A toner cartridge that just happens to fit my printer. I know! What luck. Now the new cartridge sits happily inside its box on top of my printer. Perhaps someday soon I will install it.

So I've been out of town, staying in a motel with Georgia Aunt P. And hoo boy, this motel. There are odd things in the drawers (pictures to follow). Our room overlooks a "lake" (which the hotel is named after, evidently) that contains approximately 14 gallons of water. Total. The housekeeping the first day was absolutely terrible - black splotches all over the bathroom floor, a pillowcase that defies decription (picture to follow), and an envelope in which to leave a tip.

The good news? We have the best room in the whole place. That's what they tell us, anyway. I'm headed back there tonight, and I can't wait to see if any new oddities have arisen in my absence.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The new workpace workout

I recently switched jobs, which means I switched offices. I brought my computer with me, but I am using the printer that came with the office. About a week ago, the printer started only printing on the edges of the paper, leaving the middle mostly blank. I don't print much, so I just sent my print jobs to the printer in my old office and walked down the hall to get my stuff.

I've finally decided that it might be nice to be able to use the printer that takes up a good portion of my desk, so I looked into getting a new toner cartridge. I don't do much ordering of office supplies, so I was quite surprised by the $100 price tag ($80 for reconditioned). Out of curiosity, I checked out how much a new printer would be. About $150. And it would probably work better than this one, which has to think for a while before printing.

So maybe I'll get a new printer. Or maybe I'll keep using the printer in my old office and call it exercise.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Setting a bad example

A couple of months ago our friend J (who witnessed this) emailed me to tell me that he started a blog. He had been reading mine for a while, and I had inspired him to try it himself. I think I remember him commenting that he wasn't sure he had anything to talk about. I guess reading my blog made him realize he didn't really need to have anything to talk about in order to have a blog.

Anyway, my recent blog hiatus had me thinking that I was being a really bad blog role model, and I was hoping that J was doing better than I was. Turns out, no. He hasn't updated since August 20th. I'm a bad influence.

On the other hand, I took a small group of Girl Scouts to a water park last weekend, and we had a total blast. Even though they're all teenagers. So I'm not all bad.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

We were glad that beef was the only thing we had to hide

When G and I go on vacation, we typically have mild adventures. This is probably mostly due to the fact that we almost never have reservations anywhere or anything more than a rough estimate of where we plan to end up. One of our little adventures on our most recent trip involved our border crossing from British Columbia back into the US.

We had spent several days in British Columbia. Since we had been camping, we had a cooler with some food in it. (We had a terrible time finding a grocery store on this trip. It seems every town has a Future Shop in it, which we thought might sell food but in fact sells electronics, but grocery stores are less evident. When we finally found food, it seems that many things are ridiculously expensive. Cream cheese? $4. Cheddar? $7. Produce? The same as here.)

But I digress. So we get to the border, and the guard gives us what I assume is the usual once-over - checking our passports, quizzing us on where we're from, etc. Then he asked if we had any beef. G had just bought a beef kabob at the Public Market in Vancouver (that's another entry entirely), so he told the guard about it. We were instructed to park and take a yellow piece of paper inside to talk to agriculture.

Inside, we were grilled again on our hometown and asked about various food items we may have brought with us from Canada. Then the agriculture man took our keys and searched our car. That's right - searched our car. While we had to wait inside, out of view of the car. It was kind of weird.

Bottom line, the beef kabob was confiscated, along with some roast beef and breakfast sausage we had forgotten about and the core of an asian pear. We were then allowed to cross the border, back to the land of $0.99 cream cheese.

Friday, September 29, 2006

There. I did it.

It's really hard to post something after not posting anything for a month. A month. There is no excuse for that, huh? I tried to post a couple of times, but it seemed like the post needed to be great because I'd been silent for so long. I've given up on that. I'm not sure any of my posts were that brilliant to begin with, so what's the big deal?

In my absence, I've started my new job, which is totally different from my old job in every way imaginable except that I work in the same building and use the same computer and have the same co-workers. Maybe it doesn't sound that different, but it is.

G and I also returned from our six year anniversary trip a couple of days ago. We went to the northwest - Washington and British Columbia. (I abbreviated northwest as NW in an email to a friend and he replied, "I can't think, for the life of me, what 'NW' is. I thought 'New World,' but that's here. Hmmmm."
) We had a great time, and perhaps if I can keep up this blogging thing for more than one day, I'll tell you some stories.

I really left you hanging on the story about our neighbors. I'm kind of over it now. The summary is that the house next to us is only occupied sometimes, so we asked the owners if we could park G's mom's car (G's parents live in their RV and are spending the summer in Wyoming) in their empty driveway. They agreed and we did so. The problem neighbors are on the other side of the vacation house. They recently had their dirt driveway concreted (is that a word?). While it was curing, they would park on the street or behind G's mom's car, which we thought was a little rude because what if we needed to use it? And then they just kept parking there. They refused to use their driveway. They would even park both cars behind G's mom's car in the borrowed driveway. We didn't really need to use the car, so it didn't actually affect us, but it was the principle of the whole thing. Every day I would come home and wonder aloud, "Why won't they use their brand new driveway?"

But they kind of stopped doing that for the most part, and I'm not so worried about it anymore.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pros and cons

There are good things and bad things about changing jobs within the same company. Good things include not losing cool co-workers and friends, not having to move, and not having to learn your way around a new building.

The bad thing I have discovered in the past couple of days: no time for blogging since I'm finishing up my old job and learning my new one all at the same time.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stay tuned

I just wrote a whole post and then deleted it because I decided that it wasn't very entertaining.

I've got nothing, evidently.

However, I think I can manage to rant about our neighbors tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I was at a gathering on Saturday night - people that I work with and their spouses. The only child there was about nine years old, and she did a pretty good job of entertaining herself most of the night. By about 11:00, though, she had tired of that and was looking for some socialization from the adults.

I asked her if she knew any jokes. I'm terrible at remembering jokes, but I enjoy them so much. She said she didn't really know any and then proceeded to regale us with non-jokes for at least 45 minutes. Here's an example: Why did the light bulb burn out? Because it doesn't have a brain!

Of course, we would have to guess answers before she would tell us the correct answer, which resulted in some actual jokes. (These responses were never "correct," by the way.)

Why is the skeleton red?
Because he's embarrassed that he's naked.

Why does the elephant walk so slow?
Because he has junk in his trunk.

And my two favorites because I made them up myself . . .

Why do spiders weave webs?
Because they can't knit.

Why do cows wear bells around their necks?
Because their horns don't work.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bon bons for breakfast

Our volleyball tournament was last night. It was single-elimination, which means once you lose, you're out. I may have mentioned that this year, they lumped all the teams into one league instead of two. So half the teams are really good and the other half aren't. That means that half the time we have fun, competitive games, and the rest of the time, we just try not to get hurt.

In the first round of the tournament, we played a really good team, and we didn't win. We also didn't get hurt, which was actually the main objective. Unfortunately, that meant we were out of the tournament. The rest of the tournament games were between the good teams (since they had knocked the mediocre teams out in the first round), so we hung around to watch how the game should be played.

I had been feeling pretty proud of myself all day because I had upped my mileage on Tuesday and Thursday to 2.4 miles. Woo hoo! That pride was quickly eliminated when the team sitting next to us on the bleachers started talking about running.

Evidently, several of them are training for a marathon and/or have run marathons in the past. They kept talking about the run they were planning for Saturday. 18 miles! You can see why my 2.4 was not so exciting anymore.

The worst part was that they wouldn't stop talking about it. I think they talked about running for at least 30 minutes. The whole time, I could only hear 18 miles, 18 miles, 18 miles, 18 miles . . . By the end of the night, I was feeling like I might as well eat bon bons in the mornings instead of bothering with my measly little runs.

I got over it though - 2 miles again today.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

As requested

Several months ago, a couple of our friends happened to be in town. We met up with them at their hotel and walked several blocks to a restaurant we thought they'd like. Well, the owners had decided (without asking us, by the way) it would be a good time for a vacation, so the place was closed. Instead of walking back the way we came, we decided to walk a few blocks farther to have drinks before dinner.

We went to a rooftop bar that had a live band. A LOUD live band. The atmosphere at this place is great except that they have a hard time getting the volume right. So the four of us yelled at each other over a pitcher of sangria.

At some point, the topic of movies came up, I guess, because I was yelling something about "The 40 Year Old Virgin," which we had seen recently. Unfortunately, the music stopped before I finished yelling. To the people within 20 feet of us, it sounded like this:

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah VIRGIN!

All the people at the neighboring tables (and perhaps in the entire city) put down their drinks to stare at me. If I was a teenager, that would have been the moment that I would have tried to convince my parents that we had to move across the country. I would have been absolutely mortified.

As it was, G, our friends, and I laughed at me and we moved on.

Or I thought we had moved on until one of the friends, J, asked why that story hadn't made the blog. Good question. So here it is.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do you want some cocktail sauce with your donuts?

I used to pass a biker bar on my way to work. They had a life-sized soldier mannequin that held a life-sized machine gun and was semi-crouched in a position that indicated he might charge. When they placed him near the road, he would often startle me as I drove past. They would also park a hearse outside that had the name of the establishment painted on its doors. I'm not sure what the message was supposed to be, but it didn't encourage me to eat anything there.

The biker bar closed a while back, and the new owners have been remodeling. They've painted the brick building coral, which is a bold choice, in my opinion. They recently put up the signs, and it turns out it will be a crab shack and bakery.

That's not a combination I would choose. Maybe it's just me, but I don't want to buy my baked goods from a crab shack. I'm interested to see if it lasts.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Moving on up

Where have I been? Good question. And the answer is . . . getting a new job!

I had applied for a different position at my current place of work a few weeks ago, and last Wednesday, the director offered it to me. After a couple of hours of feeling like G after a two-mile run (i.e., like I might throw up), I was able to get excited about it.

One of the best parts about my new position (other than the more important sounding title) is my new office. It's in a new building - so new it's not done yet - and it has a great view. I was touring the unfinished building with a colleague before the job and the office were officially mine, and she mentioned that some people work all their lives to get a window office.

I didn't say it out loud, but I was thinking, "Well, I have." I mean I may be young, but it's still my whole life.

If you know me in real life and didn't get an email telling you about my job, let me know, and I'll give you details.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


G and I are in the midst of painting the outside of the cottage*. We got estimates from several painters for doing both the house and the cottage, and although we easily justified the cost for the house (it's tall), it was more difficult to justify having the cottage painted (it's small).

We started last weekend with priming the areas where paint had peeled off. Monday and Tuesday we painted trim, and we had planned to start on the walls tonight.

I talked to G this afternoon:
me: It's raining here, so we might not have to paint tonight.
G: Interesting choice of words. Don't you mean "might not get to paint?"
me: No, I was right the first time.

* In case you're curious, because I would be, the house and cottage will be light yellow (Weston Flax) with white trim and turquoise (Turquoise Powder) doors. The porch ceiling will be light blue (Fountain Spout), and the porch floor will be a really nice shade of green that I can't remember the name of. (All paints from Bejamin Moore.)

Monday, August 07, 2006


I have wanted to learn to surf for many moons. G has tried to help me, but I was never qutie able to get it. A couple of weeks ago, we happened to be at the beach at the same time as our neighbors. I was out on a board the wife half of our neighbors had loaned me, but I wasn't doing much - mainly just floating around (which is very nice, I might add).

It came out that the husband half of our neighbors is a great teacher (he actually is a teacher, in fact), so he and I went out in the little waves close to shore, and he patiently coaxed me into standing up. It was super-fun, and I was really excited about it.

So yesterday G and I went out. I was anxious to try out my new skills on the shore break while G surfed the real waves on the outside. The shore break, however, was not friendly. I kept nose-diving the board in a foot of water, which means that I was scraping along the bottom with my arms protecting my head from the board which was flailing around somewhere above me. It was not fun.

Once G realized I wasn't having fun (because I paddled out and told him), he encouraged me to try the real waves out where he was. So I did, and I SURFED!!! I paddled for waves, caught them, and stood up. It was awesome!

I'm totally hooked. So if quit my job and buy a van, you'll know why.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I remain champion

We played volleyball last night (yet another of those sports that G can do better than me). We aren't very good at checking the schedule, so it was a shock to our team that we would be playing two matches (three games each) instead of just one.

We had a great time in the first match. Our skill level was very close to that of the other team, so the games were fun. They were also friendly, which makes a big difference. The second match was another story. We knew we'd struggle against the team because they are much better than us.

After two games against the second team, G and our teammate T walked off the court. T sat down on the sand exclaiming her exhaustion. I called out to G as he walked away to ask him where he was going.

"To the showers."
"We only played two games. We still have one left."

G and T simultaneously groaned their disbelief. We got back out there, though, and somehow distracted the other team enough with our flailing around that they lost track of the score. While they weren't paying attention, we managed to get some points, and we ended up winning. That was just icing, because we weren't expecting that at all.

As we left, I overheard a group of guys on the bleachers wonder if the court we had been using was open. I told them that we were finished and that it was open. One of the guys asked why we weren't staying to play with them. I replied simply, "We're done."

As I walked away, I heard him say, under his breath in a flirty tone, "You're done."

Nice comeback, Romeo. What does that even mean?

By the way, the volleyball double header wore G out so much that he opted out of running this morning. I think that 2 miles might kill him again next week.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The pigs have flown

Yesterday was a momentous day. A monumental day. An unexpectedly satisfying day.

I am more fit than my husband.

G is one of those athletic people. You know, the ones who seem to be good at every sport they try? I'm pretty coordinated myself, but he beats me at everything - tennis, raquetball, running, kite flying, surfing, ping pong, etc. . . And he beats me easily. But it's okay. He's a gracious winner - not too much smack-talking - and I've learned to live with it.

You might remember that I've been running. Well my fractions of miles have turned into miles plus fractions, which is a minor distinction, perhaps, but an oh so important one. I've been running every weekday morning, with G joining me on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Last week I ran 1.5 miles on the days G ran with me and 2 miles on Tuesday and Thursday.

This past Monday, we ran just a mile because we woke up too late to go farther. Tuesday I ran 1.5 and I told G he should join me so he could work up to 2 miles. He's a much stronger runner than I am, so his response was something along the lines of "I think I'll be able to do 2 miles without too much trouble."

That brings us to yesterday, our first 2 mile run together. It went well. I felt pretty strong for most of it (which is new for me), and as we walked back home after the run, I asked G how it was for him.

"I think I'm going to throw up."*

And that, my friends, is how I became more fit than my husband. We are so proud of me.

* G did not throw up, and he is looking forward to another 2 mile run tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


G and I went out for sushi over the weekend. We aren't crazy about any of the sushi places where we live, and our favorite restaurant is about 45 minutes away, so it's a treat when we go. We discovered this place when G lived close to it before we were married (the dark ages). The owner still recognizes us, and she hugs us when we come in.

We had an excellent meal, but the most memorable thing was the group sitting behind us. They were obnoxiously drunk and loud. Actually, we could really only hear one woman. Everyone may have been drunk, but she was the only loud one.

They (or at least she) were drinking sake (Japanese alcoholic beverage, pronounced sa-key). How do I know? Her frequent exclamations of "SAAAAAKEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" She couldn't stop saying this in her very smoked-three-packs-a-day-for-the-past-thirty-years voice.

She yelled at the waiter for not charging her enough. When she got up from the table, her bosom practically fell out of her shirt, and then she gave the waiter a big hug. He was smiling, but I'm not sure if that's because he liked her or because he was happy to see her go.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Just wait until it bites him

I have this weird itchy area right under my left collarbone. It appeared Wednesday morning and is showing no signs of going away yet. It itches just like a mosquito bite would (and I should know since they bite me all the time), but here's the weird part - it's not a circular itch. It's linear.

I was on the phone with my mom last night, and I was telling her about it.
It seems that G thought I was being a bit of a hypochondriac. He was all "whatever" about the whole thing. I had told him that it was swollen, but he told me that was my collarbone. Then he got out the tape measure for documentation purposes. As he comes in close to measure he exclaims, "Oh, it is swollen." Yes, that's why I said it was, silly. (And in case you were wondering: 1.5 inches long, 0.25 inches wide at one end, tapering to 0.125 inches wide at the other end, 0.0625 inches high).

We had various theories about what could have caused this itchy injury. I'm leaning toward caterpillar based on the shape (how a caterpillar could have gotten that close to my face without alerting me to its presence is a mystery). My mom did some googling, but she didn't come up with anything good.

Never fear, though, because G has the answer: "That looks like the bite of the blow-it-out-of-proportion bug."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Oh, really? Oh my!

I enjoy a bit of Antiques Roadshow every now and then. I'm not all that into antiques (perhaps that's because my budget doesn't allow much in the way of antiques at present), but I like seeing the people and hearing the stories about how they acquired their treasures. I often fantasize that some little garage sale whatnot that I bought for a dollar is actually worth hundreds.

The other night, I caught a little of the Roadshow, and I watched a really cute old lady have her Persian rug appraised. In case my granny is reading this, I don't want her to be offended by the term old lady. This woman was old - not like "over 40 old" or even "over 70 old," but actually old.

Anyway, this was a fairly big rug, and the woman and the appraiser were standing on either side of it. This meant that the woman was rather far away from the appraiser, and it appeared that she may have been having a hard time hearing him.

The appraiser was giving her lots of information about the rug - it was evidently a very nice specimen and in great condition. She was responding with only two comments: "Oh, really?" and "Oh my!"

"As you can see, your rug has many animals on it."
"Oh, really?"
"Earlier rugs often had men on horseback in addition to other animals."
"Oh my!"
And so on . . .

Then she deviated from those two comments:
"This rug is in excellent condition. I wasn't able to find any worn spots at all."
"It's made of wool?"
"...Well, yes..."

It turns out that her rug was worth $25,000, and the appraiser was able to tell her quite a bit about the rug. I hope that someone was able to write the information down for her, because I'm not sure she got it all, judging from her somewhat inappropriate responses.

Of course, maybe she really was surprised that earlier rugs had horsemen.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


G and I finally got together with my parents this weekend. We had such a nice visit. We went to a local historical locale, we ate a yummy dinner (with dessert even!), we went for a walk, and we told lots of stories.

I think the best part was playing games on Saturday night. G went to bed early with allergies (my parents have pets, which doesn't agree with G's sinuses), but my parents and I stayed up (until 10:30!) and played Chinese Checkers, Crazy 8's, and Rummy. I had a ball (and not just because I won a bunch, Mom and Dad)!

My mom kept trying to skip Dad's turn. After a dozen or so times, this became really funny. Then she dealt four hands instead of three ("Who else is playing, Mom?"). The highlight, though, was when we started playing Crazy 8's. My mom reminded my dad about how to play, and then it was her turn to go first. As she looked at her hand, she said, "Now what did I say? How do I play this?" We lost it.

It felt really good to be silly and laugh with my parents. It was a reminder that not only do I love them, but also, I really like them.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Our new stove

G and I are becoming more like adults all the time. First, we get jobs, then we buy a house, then we rip the house apart (that doesn't sound very adult-like, does it?), and now, we've bought an appliance.

We have a new renter in the cottage, and she let us know that the burner pans on the stove needed to be replaced. I bought new pans, but they turned out to be the wrong kind, and it was a little bit of an ordeal to find the right ones. We finally found them at Home Depot. But do you know what else Home Depot has? New stoves. With new burner pans included. And why spend $15 on burner pans when you could spend a few hundred on a whole new appliance?

Sounds a little rash, doesn't it? Our justification was that the cottage stove was pretty old and nasty and would need to be replaced at some point, probably soon. And to justify it further, we shopped around and ended up getting a great deal on the stove you see there (or one that looks just like it) at a scratch and dent place.

The scratch and dent appliance store is not in our home town, but I happened to need to go to that town (or near it anyway) last weekend. So I made a little detour to price stoves. Our idea was that we would only buy from the discount place if it was significantly cheaper than Home Depot since we like the convenience of easy returns if something goes wrong.

Turns out I got a great deal on a slightly beat up (but only on the sides, which will be hidden by cabinets) name brand stove. Woo hoo! The purchase was quite an experience. The salespeople at this store are like no salespeople I've ever seen. They don't dress nice (the uniform appears to be shorts, tennis shoes, and untucked t-shirts with "I love refrigerators" on the back), they aren't necessarily looking out for the best interest of the store (my salesman told me he regularly buys cheap appliances from the store and then resells them for a profit on ebay), and they aren't nice all the time (my salesman almost spit on me when I told him I didn't want his extended warranty).

But it worked out fine. We have a nice new stove that I can't operate properly yet. Oh, I think I forgot to tell you that this cheap stove is nicer than the one in our house, so we put our stove in the cottage, and we have the new stove. It works great, I just haven't figured out some of the details of the oven controls. I'm used to a dial and that's it. I'm sure I'll get it.

When I was standing outside the discount appliance place waiting for the stove to be loaded, I happened to glance at the exterior of the building. It is textured concrete blocks, but they've been painted. My guess is that it was a cheap paint job, because as I was aimlessly staring at the wall, I noticed a different texture in a couple of places. When my consciousness caught up, I realized it was gum. They had painted over gum.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The good ole days

One of my oldest friends, D (different than the D referenced here), was in town last week, so we got to have some catch-up time together. We had a really good time. We've known each other since before we can remember, so you can imagine that we have a lot of great memories of the silly things we used to do together as kids.

For example, at one point, we had a handheld tape recorder that we would make radio shows on. I remember making the tapes vividly, but I'm a little fuzzy on what we would actually say. I know we would use fake voices, and I think we may have sung. We also may have included a staple of ours from that time period - wimpy vs. hefty.

Hefty (as in garbage bags) used to have an advertising campaign that, at least in my memory, consisted solely of comparing their bags with a competitor's. The ads would show the competitor's bags breaking when filled with garbage, accompanied by a high-pitched voice saying, "wimpy, wimpy, wimpy." Then Hefty bags would be shown holding a large load of garbage with a deep voice saying, "HEFTY, HEFTY, HEFTY."

D and I (and our other friends?) thought it was hilarious to say the wimpy part in the hefty voice and the hefty part in the wimpy voice. We would go around saying, "WIMPY, WIMPY, WIMPY. hefty, hefty, hefty." This was our idea of great comedy, evidently.

Well, I don't know if you've seen it, but the wimpy/hefty ad campaign is back. I think they're using it for storage and freezer bags now, but it's the same concept. I saw one a couple of weeks ago, and it really took me back.

I'm not sure anyone would think I was funny anymore. Except maybe D.

Monday, July 10, 2006

One room closer

As you may recall, we had a problem with part of our countertop, and they took away the offending part to fix it. They brought it back a couple of weeks later to find that it still didn't fit properly. So they remeasured (with tools this time instead of eyeballing it) and took it away a second time.

Last week, they came to reinstall it yet again. I was lucky enough to be able to schedule the reinstallation on the same day another set of workers were going to be installing our new carpet upstairs. Luckier still, G worked from home that day, and we had a whole house full of people.

While the entire downstairs has hardwood floors under the brown shag carpet that was installed in the 70's, we presume, the upstairs was an after-market addition, and the brown shag only hides very pedestrian plywood. We picked a nice neutral carpet (which, oddly, is called morning glory), and decided to have it installed for us. Perhaps more importantly, we also paid for them to rip up the old carpet and dispose of it.

The countertop installers arrived first, with the carpet installers about 30 minutes behind them. When the carpet guys arrived, G and I were busy with the countertop people, so we just pointed the carpeters upstairs so they could get to work.

We were talking with the countertop guy when we started hearing all kinds of noises from upstairs - crashing noises, bangs, the sound of metal being hit with something. G and I looked at each other, and then the countertop guy, with a straight face, said, "Oh, that's totally normal with carpet installation. Don't worry about that. Just like you often hear breaking glass when we install granite. No problem."

Turns out the carpet installers had thrown the old carpet and pad out the window to the ground below. I guess the metal sound was either the carpet hitting the decrepit window on its way out, or the carpet hitting G's car before it hit the ground. I'm not sure.

Everything turned out great! We're happy with our countertop (finally!), and the new carpet really makes a difference upstairs. G installed a new fan up there this weekend, which means that the guest room is done! So come on over. Except that there's no furniture. You don't mind, do you?

Friday, July 07, 2006

The restaurant, part III - you say potato, I say no thank you

I already mentioned that the restaurant serves side dishes family style. They had a variety of choices in two categories - vegetables and potatoes. We opted for a potato side and were intrigued by the Steakhouse Potato Platter.

Our server described this as diced potatoes, broiled so they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with onions and spices, too. Sounded good to us, so we ordered it.

Our main dishes arrived first. G and T had an enormous Porterhouse, which the server dished up for them, drizzling melted butter over the top. My crab cakes looked a little too uniform to be gourmet - they actually looked like deep-fried frozen chicken patties. And while the menu led me to believe that the crab cakes would arrive on a bed of baby greens with vinaigrette dressing (because that's what it said), there were just a few sad pieces of naked lettuce on the side of the plate.

When the Steakhouse Potato Platter arrived, our disappointment continued. The potatoes were not crispy at all. And instead of tender, I would describe them as mushy. They tasted like Waffle House hashbrowns. (If you are actually familiar with the Waffle House menu, you'll know that their hashbrowns are shredded, not diced. The point is, we should have paid $1 for the Potato Platter instead of $9.) I would bet they were not broiled. My guess is deep-fried and then warmed for a hour or so under a lamp to achieve maximum mushiness.

So all in all, the restaurant experience was a total bomb, other than the fact that it makes a fun story. The lesson to be learned is that if you plan to open a fancy restaurant with crappy food, make sure your servers are excellent salespeople.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The restaurant, part II - one sauce fits all

When our server was telling us about the restaurant, the first thing she described was their signature sauce, which was on the table when we arrived. It was a red sauce, served in a small silver gravy boat.

"This is our Shebang Sauce. (Meanwhile, we're all thinking, "Shebang? That's the best you could come up with?") It's a tomato based sauce with horseradish root, honey, and assorted spices. It's great on everything. Try it on your dinner rolls. It's also great on salad, steak, and seafood."

We were a little skeptical that any sauce, much less one called Shebang, could be good on that many things, but we tried it. It tasted exactly like a mixture of cocktail sauce and barbecue sauce. Classy, huh? We didn't like it on the dinner rolls.

We each ordered a salad with our meal. I had a lettuce wedge, which is a wedge of iceberg lettuce (hence the name) with bleu cheese dressing on top. $9. G and T each had the tomato and onion salad. In my experience, this type of salad usually comes with a balsamic vinegar dressing. Not at this place. Evidently $6 only buys you three slices of tomato and one slice of onion. No dressing of any kind.

T asked if there was any sort of dressing on the salad, and our server cheerily replied, "No. Try the Shebang Sauce! You'll love it!"

G tried it, but, in fact, he didn't love it. It seems odd to eat a tomato-based sauce on a tomato. There's just something wrong about that.

At some point during the meal, the server came to check on us.
"Have you tried the Shebang Sauce?"
"Did you like it?"
Loooong pause. It appeared that no one was going to step up, so I finally squeaked out a tentative "yeah." G then mentioned that it tasted a lot like cocktail sauce. She apparently took this as a compliment.
"Yes, it does have a little tang to it."

Yes it does. Just like barbecue cocktail sauce.

*I just visited the restaurant's website, and it turns out I've been spelling the name of the sauce incorrectly. It's Shabang! Sauce. Or SHABANG Sauce. It has "attitude and flavor." But I'm sure you could tell that already by the exclamation point and the all caps. You can order it from the site - six 12 oz. bottles for $59.95. "Pour it on salad, steak, seafood or anything your lusty heart desires."

I can assure you that my lusty heart does not desire any Shabang! Sauce on anything. Except maybe shrimp cocktail.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The restaurant, part I - would you like some extra snobbery with that?

Last week I hinted that I would tell you a restaurant story. I think you've waited long enough, so here it comes.

So G and I were in Marco Island last week. The island is pretty upscale - the median home price, according to CNN Money is about $562,000. G and I agreed that if we were rich enough to live in Marco Island, we would take our money somewhere else. It wasn't our style.

The first night we were there, we ended up eating dinner at a little Italian place in a shopping center. The food was tasty and very fresh, but we thought the prices were a little high - $20-25 a plate.

The next night, one of G's coworkers (T) joined us. We drove around looking for a place, and we finally settled on a steak and lobster restaurant. Again, it was in a shopping center, right next to a urology clinic. When we walked in, the host asked us if we had reservations, and then when we told him we didn't, he gave us a snooty, "Let me see what I can do." He picked one of the ten or so empty tables for us.

When our server arrived and learned that we hadn't been to the restaurant before, she gave us the lowdown. They serve much of the food family style, and the portions are generous, so we could order a steak for two and have plenty for all three of us if we had salad and a side or two.

Since I wouldn't be having any steak, G and T decided to split the steak for one. If steak for two would feed three, then steak for one should feed two, right? Oh, I forgot to mention that the steak for one cost $47. A la carte. That's right. Steak. On a plate. With no side dishes. $47.

Our server was kind of uppity when she took our order. "Steak for one? Are you sure that's going to be enough food for the two of you?" You're the one who kept going on about the large portions. By the way, I ordered the crab cakes. $28.

I know you're dying to hear how the food tasted, but I don't want to ramble on too much. Next time . . . One sauce fits all.

By the way, remember what I said about being careful with your thumbs? I was skewering some shrimp yesterday and got a splinter. I pulled it out and went about my business. This morning, though, it hurt pretty bad, and I was a little concerned that maybe some raw shrimp juice got in there and was going to cause an infection. Then I looked more closely and saw there was another piece of skewer in there. I pulled it out, and it seems to be healing fine.

Monday, July 03, 2006

I didn't know they had tigers in Wyoming

The thumb injury gallery is growing, unfortunately. G's dad cut his thumb last week. I don't know the story, so I'm going to guess that he was bitten by a rabid tiger.

It's been four days since the accident, and he still can't play golf. Now that's what you call a rough life.

Be careful with your thumbs out there! I don't want any more additions.

Friday, June 30, 2006

I need a spa chaperone

G went to a conference in Marco Island this week, and I got to go, too. It was fun to stay in a fancy hotel on the beach instead of being at home by myself working like a sucker. However, I wouldn't recommend Marco Island as a vacation destination unless you like totally developed islands with lots of buildings, few trees, and really expensive restaurants (more about the restaurants next week - it's definitely worth the wait).

The hotel we stayed at had a spa associated with it, and it offered fitness classes. I was all excited about the resistance training and kickboxing classes they told me about over the phone, but when I arrived, a different woman told me it was just pilates that day. I think they were having some scheduling confusion.

So I went to pilates instead. I had a bag with me, so I asked where the locker room was. I was not prepared for the fanciness of this spa. The locker room had an attendant who greeted me when I entered and then started asking me questions.

"Do you need a locker?"
"Do you need sandals?"
I don't think so. (I wasn't even sure why I would need them. Shower? To walk to the sauna? For pilates?)

At this point, I think she saw my deer-in-the-headlights expression, and she asked if I had been there before. Since I hadn't, she gave me a tour of the locker room, which included such amenities as restrooms, showers, whirlpool, vanity room, waiting room, and sauna. Oh, and lockers, too, which each contained a towel and robe.

I was glad to have gotten the tour, but I still wasn't very sure of myself. I had access to the spa all day, which allowed me to use the sauna, pool, or whirlpool, and I had visions of lounging around the spa acting rich and perhaps even snooty. In real life, I did my pilates class (in which the woman next to me continually stared at me even though I was behind her - very odd and a little unsettling), collected my things, and retreated to a shady chair next to the pool.

The public pool. With kids and fat men and no attendants. Ahh, much better.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The fish dance

G and I took the boat out on Sunday evening. We mostly just rode around, but we did anchor the boat for a while so G could fish. When we finished catching all the fish in that area (there must not have been any since we didn't get any bites), we motored past another group of fishers on our way home.

As we approached, one of the guys picked a big redfish out of his bucket and held it up for us to see. We gave him thumbs-up signs as he performed a little dance with the fish.

G thinks maybe he was drunk, but either way, he sure was excited. I like to see enthusiasm.

Monday, June 26, 2006

We laugh in the face of danger

G and I have been trying to get together with my parents for several weeks. We had originally scheduled a visit for Father's Day weekend, but my dad got sick. So we rescheduled it for last weekend, but my mom caught what Dad had. They're running out of excuses. At some point they're just going to have to come clean and tell us they don't want to see us.

G and I had a nice weekend even though we didn't get to hang out with my folks. We finished up some projects on Saturday, and then had a mostly relaxing day yesterday. G mowed the yard, which was really needing it, and I cleaned up the avalanche in the laundry room.

Since the washing machine was accessible again, we did a mountain of laundry. The first time G headed into the laundry room, he asked if it was safe to walk barefoot in there (due to broken glass). I told him I thought it would be safe - I had swept thoroghly. He wisely replied, "I guess there's only one way to find out."

Turns out it wasn't safe, so he wiped the floor down with wet paper towels to get the little pieces of glass. It's still not completely safe - I stepped on a little chunk this morning - but it's within acceptable risk limits.

Much safer than our construction activities have been lately.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'm not sure if she can dance

Thumbo has a tiny, much less painful relative.

See that dark spot on the left side of my thumb? That's her. She was acquired in the same way as Thumbo - hammering a nail in and hammering the thumb instead.

She's a small blood blister that hurt at the time, but now she's more like a huge freckle - not painful at all.

Why do I keep referring to her as "she?" Because we call her Thumbelina.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

G admitted that maybe he made a small oversight

Before we began working on the laundry room last weekend, I was feeling like it was going to be a gargantuan task, mainly because I thought it meant we would need to move a lot of stuff first.

Since we don't have a garage, we have to be creative with storage. The laundry room contains our washer and dryer, laundry supplies, and chest freezer, which you might expect, as well as shelves full of other things like surplus paper goods, little drawers full of nuts and bolts, hiking backpacks, and golf clubs. Before we remodeled the kitchen, we also stored lots of food and small appliances in the laundry room.

Although we no longer use the laundry room as a pantry, there is still a lot of stuff in there, and it seemed overwhelming to have to move it all. When I expressed my concern to G, he replied that he didn't think we needed to move anything - it would be fine.

Famous last words.

As we hammered up new plywood from the outside, we could hear avalanches occurring inside. By the time we finished the construction, almost nothing remained on the shelves. Luckily, we had moved the little drawers of nuts and bolts to the floor before beginning, but it almost doesn't matter. The mess is unbelievable.

Yes, that is present tense. Cleaning the laundry room is the last of the "finishing up" we will do. We figure we should make sure we are done hammering before picking up all our stuff. This better happen soon. We're running out of clean clothes.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I guess we'll keep finishing up tonight

G and I worked on the house this weekend. And boy, did we work. Our plan was to replace the exterior walls of the laundry room and to build an addition on the back for storing fishing poles and tools. Saturday would be replacing the walls and sinking a couple of posts for the addition; Sunday we would "finish up."

We put in a good day's work on Saturday. The removal of the walls proved to be much more difficult than it looked. You might have thought it would be easy since they were rotting into Swiss cheese, but it took quite a bit of beating to get them down. Getting new walls up was much easier.

On Sunday morning, we watched the news as we ate breakfast. 10% chance of rain; some clouds, but partly cloudy at the most. That was the forecast for yesterday. Perfect weather for "finishing up."

Almost as soon as we started working, we began to doubt the weather woman. The total cloud cover seemed like more than partly cloudy. But the clouds kept it cooler, so we weren't complaining. We didn't even complain when it started sprinkling. The first several showers, anyway.

By about 7:00 last night, the rain was pretty constant, and we were soaked to the bone. The good news? It wasn't hot. The bad news? We were wet, dirty, and, as I described it, a little bit miserable. My hands would get muddy and I would want to brush them off, but there was nowhere on my body that was any cleaner. So frustrating. G was having a hard time because the water was washing dirt from his head down into his eyes so he couldn't see. We were a total mess.

When we stopped working at about 9:00 last night, we had only gotten about half the siding up. Turns out "finishing up" was a bigger job than we had planned.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Last weekend I took my Girl Scouts camping. It was really only camping in the sense that we slept in tents. A fire ban prevented us from making s'mores, and we didn't hang around camp much - we went to a movie and dinner instead. We saw Cars, which I thought was great. I really like all the Pixar films. Cute enough for kids, but clever enough for adults.

I got home on Sunday morning, and G and I got to work on the house. After a very productive day in which we accomplished all our goals, we were ready for some relaxation.

G asked me what I'd like to do that evening. I replied that I was a little worn out (the girls and I had watched the sunrise that morning while G was still sleeping), and I might just like to relax. To me, this meant taking a shower, eating some dinner, maybe renting a movie, and hanging out on the couch. I assumed G shared this understanding.

G said, "Oh, so do you want to take the boat out?"

I think he realized that we were on totally different pages when he saw the look on my face. Our boat is easy to launch and all, but that's not what I had in mind.

We had a good laugh.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Chess is a spectator sport

A couple of weeks ago, G and I went to a new bar in town. It's kind of upscale and trendy, which isn't necessarily our scene, but it also has comfortable chairs and a balcony from which you can watch passersby. People watching is our scene.

The balcony was full, so we settled into a couple of comfy chairs and chatted. There was a small table between us with a chess board, so we struck up a game, minus one piece (a horsey?).

G has known how to play chess since he was a kid, although he admits that his realization, and subsequent use, of strategy came much more recently. I am a newcomer to the game (you may remember my first win). This combination of skill (or lack thereof) made for a very long game with lots of chasing and many pieces captured.

As the game wore on, the audience grew. Yes, that's right. Audience. My back was to the room, so I missed a lot of it, but G couldn't stop chuckling at all the attention our dimwitted game was attracting.

At one point, a man nearby tried to give me some advice. "You should have moved your knight to A7."

The horsey? To where?

Turns out he was wrong anyway. Ultimately, I won the game (my second ever)! We were happy to be out of the limelight, and we turned the board over to the next couple in line. It seemed like the man was much more excited than his partner, which seemed to be the trend for most of the onlookers. The women had been looking forward to a nice night out, with talking, drinking, maybe some dancing. Instead, they got chess.

We're thinking we should open a chess hall. Poker is big right now, but I think chess is the next big thing. For nerds, anyway.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The return of dishpan hands

Thumbo update - G went to the doctor on Tuesday, where they poked a hole in his nail with a needle. That sounds bad enough, but then the doctor squeezed and squeezed to make blood come out of the hole. After squeezing his enormously swollen, sore digit for what G described as an eternity (G was starting to feel faint), the doctor announced, "There, that should feel a lot better." G felt little relief. They did an x-ray to make sure it wasn't broken, and it wasn't. Just more painful than the doctor gave it credit for, I guess.

In other news, you may recall that we redid our kitchen, including new granite countertops. There was a slight problem with the installation on one side of the sink, and we fought with the installation company for a few months before they just stopped calling us back. We recently took up the matter with Home Depot, where we had purchased the countertops. They have been very helpful in getting the installer to contact us again.

So earlier this week, men came and removed the problem part of the countertop. It takes us back to the days (many days) before we had the countertops installed. I think we've decided that the countertop is not just a convenience item.

But that's not the story I'm trying to tell you. Here it comes.

The dishwasher was full of clean dishes when they removed the countertop, so when I got home that evening, I began to unload it. I quickly remembered that without the countertop, the dishwasher is very front-heavy. When the door is opened, it becomes even more unbalanced, and the racks slide out.

So I was being very careful. I successfully unloaded the bottom rack and started on the top rack. I grabbed a couple of glasses, slid the rack back in, made sure the dishwasher was stable, and walked over to the cup cabinet. As I reached up to put the glasses away, I heard a huge crash.

You guessed it - the dishwasher had fallen on its face, still half full of dishes. G was in the laundry room, which is off the kitchen, and the fallen dishwasher somewhat impeded his rushing to the scene at the sound of the crash and my shriek.

We closed the dishwasher door, pushed it upright, and then inspected the damage. Miraculously, no dishes were broken.

Needless to say, I hand-washed the dirty dishes that night.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Visual evidence

Meet the newest addition to our family . . . Thumbo. This is G's left thumb. Let me add that G is a lean man. He doesn't have a lot of extra fat anywhere. His thumb is definitely not normally this size. Gross, huh?

In the ongoing saga of Thumbo, I received this email from G after his regularly scheduled dentist appointment this morning:
FYI - My dentist and hygenist said that I need to heat up a needle and push it through the nail to release the pressure (which is causing the pain). I got all excited and called you to let you know what the night didn't answer your phone, so it gave me a chance to think. The little [wife] on my shoulder said, "Why again won't you go to the doctor, they're only 3 blocks from your office, it will only cost $15, and they will probably numb it up before pushing a needle through the nail if that's even what you're supposed to do." You made a lot of sense, so I gave in and made an appointment for 4:30 today.

I can't tell you how glad I am that he figured this out on his own. I had visions of me trying to push a needle through the nail of a very swollen and extremely sore thumb while G screamed and writhed in pain. I'm sure that wouldn't have helped my already strained relationship with needles. Not to mention my relationship with G.

More news to follow, I'm sure.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The house fights back

I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but we're back to work on the house remodeling. We took an extended break after Christmas (as in a couple months or so), but we're back on.

As a short person, I am used to having to work a little harder sometimes to keep up with my foot-taller-than-me husband. We were doing some constructing on Saturday that involved lifting a heavy thing way up in the air. I was expecting to have to risk my life by climbing up onto a ladder while lifting this heavy thing over my head. But G was thinking. He installed handles for me that allowed me to stay safely on the ground. I still had to lift the heavy thing over my head, but I didn't have to break my ankle. That might be the sweetest thing ever.

Then things went awry. G was nailing this heavy thing in place when something else caught his attention. He looked away, and, you guessed it, smashed his thumb with the hammer. HARD! He's done this before, but never with this kind of power. It turned blue instantly. Later, it looked sort of green, and now it's settled into a deep smoky blue.

I became in charge of hammering for the rest of the day since his hand wouldn't stop quivering when the hammer got close. Needless to say, I was very careful.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I may need to change my phone number

I've been running in the mornings lately. I don't run fast, and I don't run far, but I run.

This morning, I was on the home stretch of my preplanned route when I saw a woman running toward me. As we got closer, I realized it was my neighbor. As we passed each other, we said hi, and then she said, "Oh, we'll have to go running together one morning."

In my head I was thinking, "Whatever. You probably like to run meaningful distances that can be measured in miles (I'm more of a tenths of a mile kind of runner at this point). And you probably like to run at a reasonable pace (my average is an 11.5 minute mile). I'm not seeing us running together being a fun idea for me."

Then I heard myself say (in my high-pitched sweet voice - you know you use that voice sometimes, too), "Yeah, that would be great."

I hope she doesn't call me on it. I was definitely bluffing.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Totally falsism

There are a couple of local businesses that post life lessons on their signs. These are usually cutesy little phrases with perhaps a hint of irony.

For example:
The best throw of the dice is to throw them away.

Most conflicts in everyday life are caused by the wrong tone of voice.

If dreams came true, we would be scared to sleep. (This one I didn't get - wouldn't we actually be afraid to wake up?)

Then last week, this one appeared:
Pleasure is seldom found where it it sought.

What? Is it just me, or is that a really depressing thought? Of course, I don't believe it for a minute. I couldn't go through life thinking that I have no idea where to find pleasure. And that when I seek it, I won't find it. How terrible.

What kind of lesson is that?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Our friend J is really smart

G, our friend J, and I went backpacking in Tennessee over the long weekend. There were a lot of high points - seeing a bear, getting a new tent, not sustaining any major injuries, enjoying the view of Watuaga Lake from the trail, not getting rained on (unlike last time). However, my favorite story has nothing to do with the hike at all.

We drove up on Thursday night and camped on the carport at G's brother K's place. We spent Friday with K and his family (you might remember our niece and nephew, M and D). It was such a nice day. We didn't have any plans, which was great. My sister-in-law* made delicious meals for us (including square bagels for breakfast), we toured all their home projects (and boy, can we relate), we played games (I can proudly say that I won my first game of chess ever against my seven year old niece), and we just hung out.

At one point, G and I were laying on the couch with M. Our friend J, who had not met this part of G's family before, walked into the room. He was going to look at the guidebook to learn more about our upcoming hike route. As he walked under the ceiling fan, he reached up and pulled the chain to turn on the light.

M looked over at us and said, in an awed tone, "J knows everything about fans."

G and I lost it. J hadn't heard what she said, and I almost couldn't repeat it because I was laughing so hard. It really gave me the giggles.

And that was the highlight of the trip.

*I don't typically use "in law" terminology because I feel like it's a little alienating or formal or something. However, sister-in-law is much easier than G's brother's wife, which just sounds weird, like maybe I've never met her.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Turned tables

A friend of a friend (I'll call him C) is getting ready to take the dental school entrance exam. We were out one night, and as often happens when you've had a beer or two, the conversation turned to math. And not just any math - nerdy math. As in, "So how would you define all odd numbers? Would it be 2x - 1? Why does it have to be 2x?" That was C; I got all excited by the mention of a variable and began explaining why multiplying x by 2 was necessary for a proper definition.

So, yeah, in case you didn't know, I'm a total math nerd. My dream job would be solving math problems all day.* It's better than Sudoku.

Anyway, he was impressed with my enthusiasm (at one point I actually drew out a diagram on a bar napkin) and asked if I would help him with the math section of the dental exam.

Our first session was last weekend, and he was a joy to teach. We were doing some practice problems he had a hard time with on his own. I was explaining the techniques I would use to solve them, and then we were solving them together. When we would get to the end of the problem, he would invariably give me some sort of positive feedback.

"Nice job!"
"Good one!"
"That was awesome!"

I'm usually the one giving the encouragement to students, not the other way around. It was very nice. I left feeling really smart. Maybe I should require that kind of feedback of my students.

I know what I need - a tip jar.

* If you know of a job like that, let me know. I'd really like to have it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Walkie - TALKIE

G and I went to Target last night. Before we began shopping, I used the restroom (not as a sort of ritual or anything - I just needed to go). I dried my hands and started to walk out, past a Target worker who was at the sink. As I walked past her she started giggling. I of course thought she was laughing at me since I was the only other person in the room. Do I have toilet paper trailing from my shoe?

I turned to look at her and she said, "Oh, I'm just laughing at what they're saying on the walkie."

She was wearing a headset that presumably was attached to an in-store communication system. I'm not sure if you call that a walkie-talkie, but I'm totally sure you don't call it a walkie.

I gave her a half smile to indicate that I understood. As I exited the restroom, she began giggling again and talking to herself under her breath.

Technology seems to give people a license to behave in ways that would cause them to be labelled "crazy" if they didn't have some device strapped to their head. Don't get me started on i-pods and cell phones. And now I have to add walkie to that list.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The answering machine in my office is one that talks to you between messages. The digital voice (male) tells you how many messages you have, whether the messages are new or old, and what time a particular message was left. It also gives instructions on how to erase messages.

To erase a message, you push the button marked "erase." Then the voice says, "To erase all messages press erase again." Right after you push "erase" the second time, the machine says, "No messages remaining."

The pause between no and messages is so long that the first couple (dozen) times I heard this, I thought the answering machine was telling me that I couldn't erase those messages. Like maybe it wasn't allowed.

Today I also heard it say, "No new messages." Again with the long pause. Someone should have ironed this out before this machine hit the market. Such a negative vibe.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Runners up

Well, we didn't win last night. We ended up with second place. Or as our trophy says, "Runner-up."

We beat the first team we played, and then we beat the second team we played. Unfortunately, since this was a double-elimination tournament, you had to lose twice to be knocked out. That second team we played hadn't lost yet (they're the team that put us in the loser's bracket), which meant that in order to win the tournament, we had to play them again.

We just didn't have it in us. We had beaten them easily in the first match, but while they were just warming up by the second match, we were shutting down.

It was disappointing, but we're looking forward to next season.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wish us luck!

Tonight is the last night of our volleyball tournament. We lost last week, which put us in the loser's bracket. That means that we have to win three matches (two out of three games each) in order to win the whole thing. We think we'll have to play all three of those matches tonight. We're going to be tired puppies.

We really want to win. It's just for fun, but it's so much more fun when we win.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Public speaking 101

We had a seminar at work today. The speaker gave a long (over an hour) unorganized talk on a variety of subjects that didn't necessarily fit into a neat package. His transitions weren't smooth, and it was unclear how the various stories related to each other, if at all.

The most notable thing about his, talk, however, was the fact that his laser pointer was always on. During the whole talk. He would look at the projected slide and use the laser for emphasis. If there was a picture, he might point to something on it. If it was just text, he would wiggle it around on the slide randomly. When his gaze would move back toward the audience, the laser would drift off the slide - to the walls, the ceiling, the audience.

Note to self: Use laser pointer for emphasis only. Do not blind audience members.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I mentioned that our campout last weekend was at a National Guard base. One of the activities the older girls got to do was rappelling (that definitely looks like it's spelled wrong, but I checked). In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, I saw it described as "essentially sliding down [a] rope in a controlled (!) manner."

The girls have rappelled every year for as long as I've been a leader, but I haven't gotten to try it before - the first few
years because my girls weren't old enough to do it, and more recently because I've been in charge of some other area of programming for the weekend.

But this year, I got to rappel!

We rappelled off a tall tower. There was a wall about 70 feet tall, with a platform above it. The picture to the right is actually the tower we were on. The wall we used is on the left side in that picture.

To rappel, the Army rappel master hooks a rope to your harness. You stand at the edge of the platform with your heels over the edge. You lean back, leading with your butt until the rope is tight and you are in an L-shape (like the guys in the picture - that's also the tower we were on). Then you start letting out rope and walking down the wall. You can also let out rope and jump off the wall.

Because I'm an adult, I was last in line. This weekend was about the girls, you know. I had watched many girls have a hard time with it. The hardest part is the leaning back. All the girls that got that far made it down the wall, although some did it in tears. Several girls didn't make it to the leaning back.

So as I said, I was last in line, and time was of the essence since the goal was to let everyone do it twice - once on the wall and once on the "skid" (you can see it on the left of the second picture - it's the bottom of a helicopter). While I expected to be nervous about it, I didn't really have time to be. I just got up there, got hooked in, put my heels of the edge, leaned back, and headed down the wall.

It was a lot of fun. I took a few steps down the wall, but then I jumped the rest of the way. That was the best part. The bad part is that it's over so fast. 70 feet flies by a lot faster than you'd think.

All of my girls tried it. Only one didn't make it down, and all but two did it twice. I was proud of them.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

No food in the barracks

I took five of my Girl Scouts camping this past weekend. The event was open to all troops in our county, and it took place at a nearby National Guard base. I used the term "camping" loosely. We were not roughing it very much. Our meals were prepared for us and served in the dining hall, which was right across the street from our air conditioned barracks.

There are many rules to follow when you are staying at a military facility. One of the most emphasized rules is "no food in the barracks." On Saturday afternoon, my girls forgot this rule, and started eating trail mix in their beds. I heard the crunching and immediately reminded them of the rule. They quickly complied.

Later, as my girls observed the troop sleeping next to us eating trail mix with reckless abandon, they asked me why they couldn't eat when everyone else was. Fair question. I explained that it was a rule, and we were going to follow it. They didn't argue with me (because they are awesome!).

We woke up Sunday morning and started packing our stuff up to leave. As the neighboring troop rolled out of bed, the reason for the no food rule became clear.

There were ants everywhere.

Evidently the girls had left bags of trail mix all over the place. The ants had found all of it. They were on the floor, in duffel bags, on beds, and in sleeping bags. The girls were freaking out!

I looked at my girls and we shared a knowing smile. I think the no food rule will be questioned no more.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Go fly a kite

G has wanted a kite for a while. Ever since he shot his out of the sky with a BB gun as a kid. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I bet it was fun, but it left him kiteless.

G and I have gotten into the pleasant habit of riding our bikes to yard sales on Saturday mornings. Saturday before last, we hit the jackpot kite-wise. They had not one, but two kites. At $3 each, we figured we could spring for both. Thus began the (insert our last name here) Kite Adventures.

Our first day out was a little challenging. We only took one of the kites (the one that was labelled "sport kite," of course, the other one being rather ordinary in comparison) to simplify things. It took us a few minutes to get it up in the air, but once we did, oh my goodness, the fun.

This kite is a blast. It has two strings and two handles, and you steer it by pulling on the handles. It goes very fast (I'm sure that depends on the wind speed), and you can make it swoop and dive and twist and turn and all kinds of cool stuff. It's very exciting.

That's G flying the kite our first time out.

The second time we took it out, tragedy struck. Evidently, the wind was just too strong, and one of the strings snapped. Luckily, the second string held, so we didn't lose the kite. We just had to stop kiting for the evening.

I stopped by our local kite store (yes, all they sell are kites) to buy replacement string. $17!!! That seems a little steep for two pieces of string, but at this point, we're hooked. The guy at the store said a kite like ours would sell for about $40, so we've still only paid half retail.

The third time out, the wind was the strongest yet, and when it was my turn, I left skid marks on the ground as the kite pulled me away. I was shrieking with a combination of surprise and alarm (your hands are attached to the strings, so you can't let go), and I'm sure G was laughing as he chased me down. Luckily, the kite soon took a nose-dive to the ground, which stopped both the kite and me.

We are having a ball with our new hobby. Good thing we found something to keep ourselves busy. You know us, always just laying around.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The sell-out

We have officially sold out to the Man. Today we got cable and internet service installed in our home. Next we'll be renting movies from Blockbuster instead of the library and buying furniture from a real store instead of acquiring it from friends and family. We're turning into a couple of suckers.

Actually, it's not as bad as all that. The lack of internet at home had become a bit of hardship for G. Since he drives about 45 minutes to work everyday, he sometimes likes to work at home. The library is close, but it is also filled with homeless people who don't always respect the library rules (bringing dogs in with them, eating potato chips loudly and crinkling the bag unnecessarily, and yelling at old women).

It turns out that we could get basic cable with our internet for only an additional $5 a month. And that's basic with a capital B. I think we just get the same channels we get with rabbit ears plus C-SPAN. But we thought it was worth $5 to be able to see the expressions on the faces of the people on TV and to read the fine print during infomercials.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about our new hobby (it's not surfing the internet from the comfort of our own home).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mr. Rogers wouldn't hate his tires

This morning I drove past the soon-to-be furniture store I dreamed I was constructing. There was a hand-made sign (spray paint on plywood) advertizing their need for workers. This is too good to be true. Maybe they need a plasterer.

Later in my drive, I was behind a very dirty car. That may sound judgemental, and I'd hate to throw stones and all that, but I was not living in a glass house this morning. I had just come from the car wash. Wild Wednesday, you know.

Anyway, someone (the owner of the car, presumably) had written several phrases in the thick layer of dust on the back of this car. The back window said "F*ck Tires," and some nonsense about "Crown B*tch" was written across the trunk (Google just taught me that Crown is a brand of speakers).

I didn't get why tires were so offensive until I pulled up next to them and saw that the car had a donut on the front. I guess tires were a sore spot.

The funny part is that this car also had a bumper sticker that said "What would Mr. Rogers do?" I don't know him personally, but I feel quite certain that he would not scrawl profanity across the back of his car. And he would go to the car wash.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Is it something I ate?

Two dream tidbits from the weekend -

I was taking a standardized test, like the SAT. This might seem weird since I haven't had to take one of those for years, but I do teach test prep courses, so it's not that strange.

I had arrived late to the test, so I was already a little stressed. I hadn't really missed anything, though, because everyone was filling out the name, address, etc. page. I sat down in my desk, searched frantically for my pencils (you must have two #2 pencils, you know), and started filling out my form.

The stress only increased when I realized I didn't know the answer to the first question. You really shouldn't have a problem with the questions on the personal information page. This wasn't looking good.

The question? Hat size.

Moose have toes. Not only do they have toes, they grow additional toes as they age. Moose are born with three toes on each foot, and they grow more (I think in groups of two or three) throughout their life, ending up with eleven on each foot as adults.

Now you know.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Creepy-crawly Friday

I was sitting at a computer today. This computer is for community-use, not mine. This will be important to you in a moment.

As I was clicking away, I saw something shoot across the desk toward me from the direction of the CPU. My reaction was to push my chair back quickly. Luckily, I was in a chair with wheels on a hard floor. If I had been sitting in a non-wheeled chair or if the floor had provided more friction, I would likely have ended up on my back with my feet in the air.

So what was it? A spider the size of a dinner plate. I may be exaggerating, but it was huge. The size of a post-it at least. (That comparison is for G. A couple of weeks ago we heard a local weather guy describe hail as being the size of a penny. We thought maybe he should compare it to something actually spherical rather than just round. So while the spider was round, I thought it would be helpful to compare it to something square. Also, I'm not familiar with any coin large enough for comparison.)

I'm not a fan of spider-killing. Isn't it bad luck or something? Well, I went in the other room to get a big cup and a piece of paper to relocate it outside, and when I came back, it was gone. I finally located it under the CPU and chased it around for a little while. Under the desk, behind the monitor, under the desk, on top of the desk, where'd it go?

I gave up and finished my work on the computer. Before I left, I looked under the CPU, and there it was again. Again, I chased it. Again, it eluded me. A coworker later told me the spider was gone. I don't think that means it was relocated.

My desk is messy, but at least it doesn't have spiders. Or if it does have spiders, at least they stick to themselves.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

In case this job doesn't work out

I'm still recovering from my cold. This is a really slow-moving illness. I haven't had any of the annoying body aches, but I'm ready to be done with all this nose-blowing.

The last dream I had before I woke up this morning (it was actually in the five minutes between the first and second alarm - my sleep skills are highly amazing) involved my work on a local construction project. The building in my dream is a real building in town. It will be a furniture store. (They heard how much we've been spending at Home Depot and thought we might want to be able to throw some money their way once we're ready for furniture. Good bet.) I pass this building every now and then, and evidently it has become embedded in my subconscious because there it was in my dream.

I was putting some plaster up on the walls in my dream. I'm not sure if I worked construction full time or if this was a sort-of freelance job. It seemed that I knew what I was doing. We (I was working with a large man who wore overalls) would reach down into one of the buckets or bowls of plaster at our feet. We would scoop up the plaster, which looked like dark grey pancake batter, with our bare hands and smear it on the carpet that had been applied to the walls. It was important to make sure the pattern of the carpet (red and black swirls, by the way) wasn't visible through the plaster. That's how you know the plaster is thick enough.

That's all there is to it. G will be so happy that I've learned another building skill.