Tuesday, March 28, 2006

At least you know we're clean

You've heard about my obsession with a particular brand of conditioner. Which, by the way, I have still been unable to locate. The new conditioner has proven to be adequate, so I am not quite so worried about it right now. I will still buy a cart-full when I find the old brand.

I'm not the only one with a toiletry fixation in the family, however. That's right, G is a little crazy, too. Only his obsession comes in the form of soap. He loves a new bar of soap. Of
course, it can't be any soap. The rule is that the soap must be a color - and white is not a color.

The color issue is sometimes difficult to overcome since soap is typically not sold in
transparent packaging. However, recently, his favorite soap has been Coast, which is definitely not white. You can tell just by the scent. There is no way a bar of soap that you can smell in the next county could possibly be just plain white. Of course, it also helps that the package actually has the word "blue" on it.

The last time we were at Publix together, G got some new soap. This is not where we usu
ally buy soap. As I was picking out my conditioner (and agonizing over the decision), he was perusing the soap on the other side of the aisle. I put my conditioner in the basket, and he deposited his Safeguard.

Safeguard? What's the attraction? I'm not sure, but he was really excited about it. He couldn't wait to use it. He replaced his remaining sliver of Coast with Safeguard as soon as we got home.

Are you ready for the kicker? G's new favorite soap is white!

I don't even want to think about all the times I came home with great-smelling new soap only to be denied because it turned out to be white. And now he buys a soap that he knows is white on purpose. I just don't get it.

Oh well, I guess no one really understands insanity.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Putters and pancakes

So,the downside of blogging at work (and not having computer/internet at home) is that when I'm really busy at work, I don't get to blog. But here I am, so don't lose hope. I have a deadline coming up, and after that, the posts should pick back up.

Last weekend G and I went to Myrtle Beach, SC, for a conference (for G's work). The upside was that I got to just hang out while G was attending sessions and schmoozing. The downside was that the weather was very unpleasant. We watched a beautiful sunrise over the ocean from our room on Monday morning. By the time I got out of the shower, the sun had been swallowed up by clouds, and we didn't see the sun again until we got to Georgia.

The actual conference was a little bit north of Myrtle Beach, so while G was busy, I drove down to Myrtle Beach proper to check it out. It was very touristy (as I had expected), and not somewhere that I would like to vacation in the future. Although, I bet it would have looked like more fun if it was warm and sunny.

It seemed like there were only maybe five or six people that owned restaurants. This isn't to say that there weren't many restaurants - there were tons. But they were all the same ones. And not national chains. I must have seen six Calabash seafood restaurants in six miles.

However, it seems that the most popular businesses in Myrtle Beach are miniature golf and pancake houses. I didn't try to count them, but if I had, I'm sure I would have lost track. So many.

Miniature golf is understandable. Tourists like mini-golf. And each course has it's own theme, which encourages more mini-golf playing, I'm sure. I saw a Captain Hook course (it had a cave in the shape of a skull - you walked in the mouth), a course that was inside a giant pyramid, and my personal favorite, Minotaur Golf. The name of this last one is very clever, but I think they missed the boat a little. You might expect the course's theme to revolve around Greek mythology, but no, it was more dinosaur-ish. That's okay. I would go just for the name anyway. Plus, I really like dinosaurs.

What about the pancake houses? How many pancakes do tourists eat? Is that what tired families want? Pancakes? The only pancake house I'm familiar with is IHOP, and you might expect to see one of those in this pancake haven. But no, I didn't see any IHOPs. Hmmm. I almost wanted to eat at one to see what the hype was all about (there wasn't really any hype), but I don't really like pancakes all that much. They're just too light and fluffy. I like my pancakes dense, and that's not popular, I don't think.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Creatures of habit

Yesterday, I used up the last of the conditioner in the shower. Maybe this doesn't seem like a big deal to you. Maybe you don't have curly hair.

Actually, I wasn't worried either. I've been using the same conditioner for I can't even remember how many years. At least since high school, maybe even before that. I used to use the name brand expensive kind, but then Suave started making a rip-off that was just as good for a small fraction of the cost. So that's been my brand. Since I'm somewhat (totally) dependent on this product for my morning sanity, I usually have one or two extra bottles in the cabinet.

So no problem. Except there wasn't any in the cabinet. No conditioner anywhere!

G was planning to go to Target yesterday, so I showed him the empty bottle and asked him to get some for me. He went to Target, but they didn't have it. (To illustrate how important conditioner is in my curly life, and how much he knows it, I'll tell you that G not only emailed this fact to me, but he also called to make sure I got the message.)

We have been living in a house without groceries for several days (blame that on too much work), so last night we went to the store for groceries and for conditioner, not necessarily in order of importance.

G drove us to Publix, but not before getting in the turn lane for Home Depot, which is on the way. I asked him what we needed (notice that I was sure we needed to go, I just didn't know why). He then realized he was just navigating on auto-pilot, which evidently always ends up at Home Depot. (By the way, we started working on the house last weekend - we demo'ed the closet that will become our half bathroom and put up drywall.)

But guess what? Publix didn't have my conditioner either! I bought another Suave product. I used it this morning, and it seemed to go okay. I'm not loving my hair, but I think that has more to do with needing a haircut than with the conditioner switch.

I'll keep looking for my old conditioner. And when I find it, I'll buy the whole inventory. G will have to build a new cabinet for my stockpile. Add that to the list of home renovations.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Trivia night

I've been neglectful with the posting lately, huh? It sucks when work gets in the way of blogging. What's up with that?

We didn't have volleyball this week. So instead, two of my teammates and I went to trivia night at a local restaurant. In case you're unfamiliar with this activity, I'll give a brief explanation (I don't know if all trivia nights are just like this one, but I bet they're all pretty similar). There are six rounds of three questions each. Within each round, you assign a point value to each question (1, 3, or 5 points for the first three rounds and 2, 4, or 6 points for the last three rounds). The catch is that you can only use each point value once per round. Then there are . . . OK, wait.

I'm feel like I'm kind of babbling and maybe you don't care about all these details. Bottom line - some guy asks a bunch of questions and teams of people turn in answers. Whoever gets the most points wins.

So our team of three was the smallest team, and we were also the youngest by about 20 years or so. Obviously, our team size was a disadvantage - not as many brains to pick. Not so obviously, our age was also a disadvantage - because the questions were skewed toward what is probably the usual average age at this particular establishment (i.e. - What year did "Unchained Melody" hit the charts?).

Despite our disadvantages, the first half went well - we were up in the top few out of eleven teams. We were feeling pretty good.

Then the second half . . .
We missed all the round 4 questions. Rounds 5 and 6 were a little better, but we weren't feeling so confident anymore.

Then came the last question. This question had four parts and you had to get all four correct to get the points. And you could wager up to 16 points. Well, we weren't looking so hot at this point, so we decided we needed to wager all 16 points (and get it right) to be in the running.

So we wagered 16 points, we didn't get it right, and we ended up finishing in last place. It was a little demoralizing.

The good news is that I now know that the Shenandoah River empties into the Potomac River at Harper's Ferry.

Friday, March 10, 2006

First mate

G is in charge of all things boat in our family. He loads it up, launches it, drives it, unlaunches it, and cleans it. That's not to say that I don't help. But he's the captain, and I'm the first mate.

One afternoon during our vacation, G went to get ice for our cooler while I launched the boat. I successfully backed the boat down the ramp, got the boat off the trailer, tied the boat to the dock, pulled the trailer out of the water, and parked the truck all by my lonesome! You're impressed, aren't you? I was too.

We went out snorkeling and cruising, and when we got back to the marina, I went to get the truck while G straightened the boat up a little. A man had been admiring our boat as we pulled up (we get that a lot - it's a little aluminum boat with an old Evinrude motor - classic). I backed the trailer into the water and stepped out of the truck. The man looked at me and said, "You backed that trailer in that straight?" (It was perfectly straight, if I do say so myself.)

"Yes, I did," I replied as I walked to the trailer. G drove the boat onto the trailer, and I attached the cable that holds the boat on. As I was cranking the boat the rest of the way up, the man turned to his wife and said, "Why can't you do that?" (Likely because their boat is much larger than ours. Our boat is so small that if it's on the trailer crooked, I can just pull on the back to adjust it.)

Now I just need to work up to starting the motor on my own, and I'm in business. I think I need to lift some weights.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Tracking cats

As promised, the story of the elusive feral cat.

Toward the end of the program, the topic veered from the ranger's childhood in Cuba to her experiences working at Bahia Honda State Park. She discussed the joys of being on call 24 hours a day - fixing water leaks, helping people who can't follow directions open the gate to the park, and repairing electrical connections. You'll recall that The Man No One Agrees With used this last topic to bring up hurricane damage in the park.

That led to the ranger commenting that the animals in the park weathered the hurricane very well - including butterflies (amazing!) and feral cats. The ranger said these cats are very smart - they will approach people to procure handouts of food, but they won't visit a trap. She joked that they must have learned to read.

One woman in the audience indicated that she might have seen evidence of one of these cats. She was in the campground and saw some tracks. She initially thought they were fox tracks because they were side-by-side instead of in a line. (Or the other way around, I can't remember. I tried to educate myself about the orientation of canine prints vs. feline prints, but the internet wouldn't tell me. I found lots of information about the difference in the shapes of the prints, but not whether they were side-by-side or in a line. It leads me to think that's not a reliable identifier, but what do I know?)

So she thinks she's following fox tracks. "Then I saw a tiny, tiny paw print." This part of the story was puzzling to me. What was she following before if this tiny paw print is the first she's seen? And the tiny, tiny brings to mind a story I liked as a kid.

Anyway, this tiny paw print somehow convinced this woman that it was a cat, not a fox. And now with this additional information from the ranger, this woman has realized that it wasn't just an ordinary cat, but a feral cat. She was quite impressed with herself and her tracking abilities.

G and I were quite amused because we, too, were convinced that there were feral cats in the park. Just that very night we had heard meowing from the bushes. And last time we camped there, we had actually shared our campsite with a cat.

A feral cat.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Crazy Camper #1

G and I camped at Bahia Honda State Park on our trip to the Keys. It's one of our favorite places to stay. It has great beaches, a convenient boat ramp, good snorkeling grounds, and, because it's a State Park, it's dirt cheap. The one problem is that it's sometimes hard to get a site (maybe more on that another day).

So anyway, G and I went to a ranger program on Friday night. They have programs every Friday on various topics. This one was given by a ranger who grew up in Cuba. She talked about what it was like and showed pictures of her family and where she lived. It was quite entertaining.

There were about 15 people at the program. Since it took place after the park had closed, only people camping at the park could attend. As the ranger's presentation came to an end, the questions began ranging in topic. G and I kind of assume that fellow campers have some degree of general knowledge and appreciation for the outdoors. I mean, you're camping. But evidently, we were wrong.

Exhibit A: The Man No One Agrees With
This man had already asked several borderline-odd questions about Cuba during the presentation. So we had our eye on him. He handily steered the conversation from midnight electrical repairs to Hurricane Wilma with the clever segue, "Speaking of electricity . . ."

He was shocked that there had been damage to Bahia Honda from Hurricane Wilma. Evidently, no one (and by this, he meant the news) had told him. He was very concerned about several downed trees he'd seen in the park.

Despite the fact that there was very little damage to buildings here, he seemed to be much more concerned about the damage in Bahia Honda than in New Orleans. "I don't think New Orleans really got hit that bad. It was the levees that did it."

Really? And Hurricane Katrina didn't have anything to do with that?

As a side note, he also postulated that exotic plants might be overtaking the native species due to "the lack of soil here." He didn't elaborate much on his reasoning. Or maybe he did. We just didn't hear him because we left.

Tomorrow - the elusive feral cat.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


G and I went down to the Keys over the weekend. For many years, we made an annual pilgrimage to soak up some pre-summer warmth, enjoy the tropical surroundings, and most importantly (at least according to G), catch some lobsters. Last year our Keys trip was replaced by a trip to Costa Rica (a nice trade, by the way). So we were ready for our Keys (or lobster-hunting) fix.

We had a great time. The weather was nice, and the water was the clearest we've ever seen it. We saw lots of great underwater life - corals, tropical fish, stingrays, lobsters - and also lots of birds, including two bald eagles.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the crazy people we encountered at a Bahia Honda State Park evening program.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The midnight opossum

Last night G and I didn't sleep very well. I'm not sure if I wasn't sleeping well or not, but since G wasn't, I wasn't either. He got up for a while in the middle of the night and watched TV (I missed a funny Conan O'Brien, by the way).

Shortly after he came back to bed, he alerted me to the fact that there was a possum (an opposum?) outside gathering stuff for its nest. He asked me if I wanted to see it. I try to be very honest, so I said no thank you.

Then it came out that the opossum was picking up palm fronds and dragging them away with its tail. Now that was something worth seeing.

So I opened my eyes, saw the palm frond-dragging opossum, and then rolled over and went back to sleep.

P.S. - My posts have been very sporadic lately. They will continue to be that way at least until next week. Don't send mean thoughts at me, Georgia Aunt P.