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.