Sunday, December 04, 2011

At the post office

You know how I know this house isn't really clean?  Because I can't find anything.  I know I have envelopes and stamps, for example.  I've seen them.  Recently.  As in, a-few-days-before-Thanksgiving recently. They're probably upstairs now, in one of the two messy catch-all rooms that will someday (soonish, I hope) actually be a craft room and guest room in more than name only. 

Just about everything portable is upstairs in those rooms, because I didn't have time to put it somewhere permanent in the getting-ready-for-guests rush.  Since Friday was the first of the month, I needed both envelopes (for my owner's association dues) and stamps (for the dues and the mortgage payment).  I took one look at those rooms Friday morning, said, "Yeah, right," and decided to go buy more somewhere.

"Somewhere" turned out to be on campus.  I got envelopes at the student book store and stamps at the on-campus branch of the post office.

Mike the Mailman is a fixture on campus.  He's been here since before I was a freshman, back in 1986.  He loves his job, loves the school, loves students.  The guy in front of me in line follows him on Facebook, which is how he knew it was Mike's birthday.  Mike joked that he looked pretty good for forty, huh?  I took up that part of the conversation when I got to the counter.

"So, Happy Birthday! Did I hear you say you were forty? Forty-and-holding?  Me too."

"Oh," he said confidentially, "I haven't seen forty in a very long time.  So what can I do for you?"

"I need stamps."

He scooped up and spread out a bunch of different books.

"They don't have to be pretty.  It's just for the mortgage."

"Okay," he laughed, and pulled out some more.

"Actually, you know what?  I think I'll go with Madonna and Child. Might as well be festive, huh?"

"Yeah, those are nice." He handed me back my change and wished me a good afternoon. I stood a little to the left to get the stamps on the envelopes, headed for the letter-box near the exit.

"Hey!" He called after me. He was holding up his hand-made "You're next!" sign to the next person in line. "Thanks for paying your mortgage!"

"Um. You're welcome?"

It wouldn't occur to me not to.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Done!

Woohoo! Made it to the end of November!

I know this whole NaBloPoMo thing is about quantity, not quality, and all I can say is that it's a very good thing the posts don't have to be both numerous and interesting.  I need to find some sort of middle ground between posting everyday about nothing in particular and posting maybe twice a month about...nothing in particular. Hmm.

I used to do more interesting things. I wonder what happened?

I know what happened.  I bought a house.  Unlike the dark, dank, moldy hole-in-the-wall where I used to reside, I actually like living here. This means I don't flee from home into the world to go do something, anything, so long as it keeps from that depressing little glorified dorm room.  Good for me, bad for the blog.

I guess I need to go do more stuff, huh?  I was thinking of taking an art class at the Arts Center on campus next semester, if I can find something interesting to do.  I'd like to learn to make mosaics, or maybe play around with stained glass.  I took a drawing class from them a while back and surprised myself when I found out that yes, I really can draw.  Remember this? I learned to do that at the Arts Center.  They don't offer the mosaics class very often, though.  I think the stained glass class shows up every semester.  I guess not many people are interested in tiles.  I'll have to see what next semester's course guide looks like.  They probably won't publish it until the end of December.

One thing I won't be doing is going back to the Embroiderer's Guild.  Those ladies are whack-a-doodle.  Well.  Not all of them.  Just the charter members.  The newer, younger ones are great.  But the older ones run things, and they're the people that give me agita (and call me fat. In a roundabout way. Ahem).

What I probably should do is take a look at my life list and start working on some things from it.

Actually, what I really should do is make a shopping list for Christmas and get my hindquarters in gear.  I have to send stuff to California and Virginia, and soon.

This year was supposed to be Handmade Christmas, but that fell apart somewhere around March, when I couldn't figure out what to make for everyone.  Perhaps while I'm making the shopping list for this year, I should make the project list for next year.

Well, whatever I'm gonna do, first I'm gonna hit the "Publish Post" button, and then I'm gonna get back to my embroidery.  Buh-bye, National Blog Posting Month 2011.  Don't let the door hit your bum on your way out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Decorating for Christmas

I wonder if this is the year I will finally break down and get a tree.  Every year I think about doing it, and every year I balance the expense of buying an artificial tree against the cost of the presents I want to buy, and the tree idea gets scrapped for another year.

This year, however, I got a little something back from the mortgage company--interest from the escrow account that I guess they're not allowed to hang on to.  It isn't much, a little over $70, but it might make a tree look not-that-expensive.

Hmm.

It'd be nice to finally have something upon which to hang all these ornaments I've amassed over the years.  It doesn't have to be some huge monster of a tree--maybe something about four or five feet tall?  I'll take a look when I go out shopping, see if I can find something that won't break the bank.

Of course, I could use that extra money on presents...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lazy Monday

When I scheduled this day off originally, it was with the intent of going Christmas shopping. I've decided to spend the day on the couch instead, embroidering and listening to the laptop read me The Fountainhead, which I am thoroughly enjoying.

Weird weather we're having for November. I'm pretty sure the landscaper our owner's association contracts with didn't expect to still be mowing the grass this close to December.  They're out there doing it right now, though.  And since I finally managed to clear out my flower beds, they can finally get at a bit of grass that needs cutting but has been blocked by my top-heavy, blown (or fallen) down cosmos.  The landscapers are very scrupulous about not touching something that looks like it was planted intentionally, which I appreciate.

I hear some child or other screaming in the distance. It's hard to tell whether that's anger, pain, or just over-excitement until you hear another child shout back. All three noises sound the same to me. But then, maybe if I were someone's mother I'd be able to tell the difference.

Well, back to the embroidery. Maybe I'll be able to finish it in time to frame it and give it away as a Christmas present.  If not this year, then next one for sure.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Nip

I found one of Delilah's old catnip toys and decided to see what would happen if I gave it to Sophie.  Lolly wasn't terribly active on 'nip.  She'd rub her face all over it, then go take a nap.  Sophie?  She  bats it across the room, rolls around on the floor with it, bites it, rabbit kicks it, grabs it with her paws and rubs her face all over it, then goes to take a nap.

Ah, drugging the cat. Wonderful Sunday pastime.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just me and the cat again

My sister and her dog Daisy just left here a little while ago.  My brother-in-law and his folks left yesterday morning after breakfast (which was had at Perkins, down the street from the hotel where they stayed). Mom, Ditter, and I went to a little yarn and quilting shop the next town over, ostensibly because Mom needed a particularly large size of double-pointed needle, but mainly to drool over, maul, and eventually buy yummy, fancy-schmancy yarn.  Mom and Dad and Pip left when we got back from that little trip.

Ditter and I hung out on the couch, she knitting, me petting the dog and/or the cat (whoever demanded attention at the time), watching movies (In Her Shoes, The Family Stone, 27 Dresses), and eventually ordering a pizza.  Yes.  All this food in the house, and we ordered in.  What?  She offered.  I couldn't remember the last time I'd had pizza.  Did you know that the big chains have online ordering?  All you need is a computer and a credit card and bam! Pizza.  This is probably news to no one but me.

I only made it partway through 27 Dresses before I succumbed to a wave of tired, tired, tired and went to bed.  It was maybe 9 o'clock.  Lame-o.  I spent most of yesterday in a dazed stupor, like someone had whacked me over the head.  Come to think of it, that may be why I leaped at the offer of a pizza.  I'm pretty sure if I'd tried to cook I would have set the house on fire.

Today?  Feeling much better.  That determination to keep the house clean(ish) is still with me.  Let's see if it lasts.  Time to start acting like a damn grown-up.  Right?  Right.  First order of business: dishes.  Dishwasher needs unloading and reloading.

I'm having trouble believing it's only Saturday.  It feels like Sunday.  And I have Monday off, which is the day I plan to start my Christmas shopping.

Well, anyway.  Time to go clean up.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Next year's target

Next year's goal: to have the place clean before my parents get here, so my mother doesn't have to help me clean before the rest of the guests arrive. I'm forty(mumble) years old.  Why do I still approach the idea of housework like a sullen thirteen-year-old?  I'm ashamed of myself.

Which is part of the problem, I think.  Part of the reason the house is usually so messy is because I am so messy.  Part is because I am lazy.  And part is because I'm comfortable living with disorder.  Then when Thanksgiving appears on the horizon, I see the place through other peoples' eyes and am horrified.  That's when I panic, but not the kind that makes one go "move! move! move!" It's the deer-in-the-headlights, stare at the problem and wonder what to do kind of panic.  I don't get spurred into action until a day or so before people turn up.  And, since my folks arrive first, that means Mom winds up helping me clean.

I can't let that happen again next year.  Her hands hurt her.  I forgot about that.  It's a relatively new problem, so I can maybe kinda sorta almost be forgiven for forgetting.  She wears these blue elastic (?) braces for support with some tasks.  She said she should wear them more often, but she doesn't want to call attention to herself.  

Anyway.  The cooking part of Thanksgiving went fine.  I just need to do better on the cleaning front.  A whole lot better.  Like, next year my folks will come in and not have to do anything but put their feet up, that kind of better.  That's the goal.

Also?  The public areas of the place look great, but there are two rooms that are complete chaos.  That's where I dumped all the stuff I didn't know what to do with.  I have no idea where anything is any more.  Christmas vacation (well, the bit between Christmas and New Year's Eve, I guess) is going to be spent unloading and sorting out the "craft room," aka lumber room #1.  Then I'll work on the little lilac room in the back (aka lumber room #2).  If I do that, then hopefully by next Thanksgiving everything will have a place to live.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I was up around 4 or so. The combination of that, the turkey, the wine...I'm tired, y'all. I'm headed to bed. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The parents are coming! The parents are coming!

Just got the call (that I asked for last night) telling me that my parents have left the house and headed my direction.  They expect to be here by 1 pm--they have to gas up the car, run some errands (like, "throw some books at the library," according to my mother.  I suggested she slow down and make sure they catch them all), and then they'll be on their southeastward.

What am I doing sitting here blogging? I have bathrooms to clean, a bedroom to tidy, a bed to make, all sorts of junk to clear, iced tea to brew (because I just realized that even though I bought stuff for lunch, the only thing I have to drink in the house is tap water.  I don't go in for other beverages much when I'm alone.  Except coffee in the morning, out of necessity), laundry to do, floors to sweep and some floors to wash!  Gaah!

Bye.

Oh, hey, one more thing.  At some point this week I hit 500 posts.  I'm not exactly sure when, because there are a couple of drafts lurking around, and Blogger counts every entry, not just the ones you post. Anyway, yay, 500!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Internal monologue at the grocery check-out

Oh, crap.  She's a chatty one.  She's taking forever with these people.  And of course they're chatting back.  Well, maybe they're the ones who initiated it.  They've spoken to me every time we passed each other in the aisles....and they just noticed I'm behind them in line.

"Ah, we meet again!"

[I nod and smile]

Yes indeed we do. And for the last time.

"Are people coming to you for Thanksgiving?"  Please don't talk to me.  Please just grab you stuff and go. Please?

"Yes.  Dinner for seven. And two dogs, but I don't know whether they'll get table scraps or dog food. Depends on their owners."

Why am I encouraging them?  Tick-tock, people.  I have a bus to catch. Oh, Hallelujah, they're leaving.

"Happy Thanksgiving!"

"You too." [I wave.]

Nope, it wasn't just them.  She's chatty.  And she keeps calling me "my dear." What is that about? Do I know her? I don't think I do. I just wish she'd stop asking so many questions of me: What am I doing with the rest of the day? Do I have people coming for Thanksgiving?

Look, I understand it's a boring job, and that standing there silently while things go "beep" maybe feels awkward.  But please, if you can't talk and move at the same time, don't try it.  Don't scan something, ask me a question, and then pause while I answer it.  No, please, don't open my egg carton to make sure they are all unbroken. Hello?  Do you think I'd put them in my cart without checking? I know you think this is customer service, but you're slowing me down, here.

Aaaand there goes the bus, right by the front window.  Dammit.

Sigh. All right, lady, talk to me.  I have a forty-minute wait in my immediate future, I might as well spend as little of it as possible in the rain.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Forging ahead

There's a woman at work whose family owns a farm.  Every year she takes orders for sausage and scrapple right before pig butchering time.  I keep thinking about buying some, and this year I finally remembered to do it.

Today was pick-up day--I had to go in to work to get it.  I now have 3 lbs of loose sausage and a 3 lb package of scrapple.  The sausage is getting used for a cornbread and sausage stuffing.  Which reminds me.  I need to take the turkey out of the freezer tomorrow and put it into the fridge.  It's a big 'un this year, so I think it needs more time to thaw.  I wonder if I should make the cornbread tomorrow, too, so that it's nice and old, ready to be made into stuffing on Thursday.

All right.  Off to bed.  More work tomorrow.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

No picture today

Well, this was supposed to be another snapshot Sunday, but I can find neither the data card nor the USB attachment that lets me download pics from the card to the laptop.  Tried to use the camera on my cell, but the battery has died.  And then the picture I was going to take (of the cat being all cute and wide-eyed, chasing something I can't see) fell apart, and another opportunity hasn't presented itself.

Ah, well.  Maybe there'll be a snapshot Monday instead.  Plugging in the phone now and going to bed.  It's been a semi-productive weekend.  I got a few things accomplished, but not as much as I intended.  Of course.  Have to do better tomorrow.

'Night y'all.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

All we need are a few tumbleweeds

Man, this town is empty.  I like it.  It's nice to be able to buy a trash can at Wal-Mart and schlepp it home on the bus without worrying that you're taking up too much room.

Took myself to lunch at Eat 'n Park, which I haven't been to in forever (apparently, because I didn't recognize a single thing on the menu), and there were only three tables in use.  Wow.  That place is normally hopping.

Today was "get supplies" day. Tomorrow we straighten.  The goal this year is to be done before my parents get here on Wednesday.  We'll see how that goes.  I tend to dither and procrastinate, and then I run around like a maniac cursing my propensity to dither and procrastinate.  It appears to need a deadline breathing down my neck to get stuff done.

Wish me luck! And now I'm going to bed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Out after dark.

The students have left town for Thanksgiving break.  This means that for the next 10 days or so the townsfolk will be able to go places they can't normally get into without long lines or waiting to be seated.  Taking advantage of this fact, a group of local folks with whom I have made friends over Twitter decided to gather at a downtown Mexican restaurant for happies at about 5:30 or so.

Things were in full swing when I got there.  Some people I already knew, some I'd only spoken to online, some I've never seen before in my life. One person I talked to is going to be running in a marathon in Philly on Sunday, in the freezing cold.  I finally got to meet face-to-face with the meteorologist I've been tweeting back and forth with for months.  He's the husband of someone else I follow, and together they own three cats and two rescued greyhounds.  Someone else showed me pictures from her trip to Rhinebeck with some other folks we both know, and recommended that if I want to go to a knitting convention, Maryland Sheep and Wool is more organized.  Rhinebeck is where all the celebrity knitters show up, though.

God bless Tim, our server.  Every time he came to the table (which was often) it was larger and composed of more people.  We kept co-opting other tables in the area.  He managed to keep us all straight in his head, and things were still going strong when I left around quarter to 8.  I sure hope everyone gave him a good tip.  I sure did.

There was talk of going to another bar and watching some local blues band perform, but I begged off.  I needed to come home and draw up my battle plan for the time I have left until Thanksgiving.

Never mind that when I did come home all I did was play Plants vs. Zombies.  I was strategizing as I was planting puffshrooms and spud mines (or whatever they're called).  Sure I was. Can't prove that I wasn't. I'll write it all out on paper tomorrow.

Hey, guess what! We're creeping up on my 500th post!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

They're still here

Well, it's been fairly quiet around here all week.  There are still news vans all over town, and little tents pitched for "on the scene" correspondents making their reports back to their stations.  What they're reporting on, I have no idea.

As far as I can tell nothing has happened of note since Saturday, when both football teams, their coaching staffs, and tons of alumni players gathered in the middle of the field to pray before the game.  Fans after the game were subdued, thank goodness.  Apparently our students are aware now that the world is watching and are behaving with a little more decorum. I'm sure the media are disappointed no one's acting up over here.

Is it wrong to wish that a scandal breaks somewhere else soon so that these vultures will go away?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not even close

Who's Susan? by JugglingScarves
Who's Susan?, a photo by JugglingScarves on Flickr.
I have an email account on AOL that I haven't used in forever. I check it from time to time because sometimes my family forgets my current email address and sends things to this one.  And it's also an address I've used to give to companies who won't let you do something like get a member card without giving them an email address (I'm looking at you Panera. You too, Eddie Bauer).  I should probably just close it. It does afford me some amusement sometimes, though.

For instance: whenever I check the account I make sure to look at the spam folder, in case a piece of "real" mail accidentally got filtered into it.  Somewhere along the line some spammy genius decided that a potential target might be tempted to open the message if their name was in the subject line. Problem: the name they're using to reel me in? Susan.  Not mine. It's like cold calling someone to sell them a newspaper subscription or solicit a donation and mangling their name beyond all recognition.

Who the heck is Susan?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not to mention the fridge still needs cleaning

So much for this evening.  I dozed off tonight in front of the TV and just woke up. Whoopsie! And, being sleepy, I really can't think of anything to write.  I have just enough energy left in me to drag myself upstairs to bed. See you tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One more thing checked off

Booked the room for my sister's in-laws to stay in when they visit for Thanksgiving.  I tried to make a reservation using the website for the place, but there was nowhere to request a particular type of room, so I wound up having to call them.  Mrs. S. needs a downstairs room.  She has trouble with stairs.

My sister has said something about staying behind an extra day after everyone left, just so we could spend some time together.  I wonder if she's still going to do that.  That would mean travelling in a separate car.  Unless she's taking a bus back, which I can't imagine she'd want to do.  I hope she doesn't change her mind.  We haven't seen each other since...geez.  Easter?

Tomorrow is National "Clean Out Your Refrigerator" Day.  Well, all right.  Something I need to do anyway.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thor

So I watched Thor this evening.

I really wanted to like it. I like the Ironman movies, and funnily enough, the only reason I watched the Ironman movies is that I wanted to know what was going on once I got to Thor (they all take place in the Marvel Comics universe).  I got interested in Thor because Kenneth Branagh was directing it, and I like him.

It was...meh.  Not bad. Visually very appealing, but just a little...thin?  I think that's the word I want.  I can't really pinpoint what was wrong with it, it just wasn't very interesting.  The one character I really liked, the only one who seemed to have any depth, was Loki.  And he was the bad guy.  Sort of.

Oh, well.  Maybe the second one will be better.  Because of course they're making a sequel.  All these superheroes are eventually going to meet up and work together in The Avengers.  Which reminds me, I still need to see Captain America.  He's part of the story too.

Even though I didn't really like the movie I originally wanted to see, I got drawn into the bigger story.  Now I need to see where it's going.  And that's mainly because of Ironman, and the reason I like those is probably mostly because of Robert Downey Jr and Jon Favreau.  I think if anyone else were directing it or being Tony Stark I wouldn't like it nearly as much.

You know, someday I should try reading the comic books these characters all come from.  Just to see what never made it to the screen.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Audible and kicking the TV habit

This past summer I joined audible.com, mainly because of a Hulu ad that would give me an extra credit for signing up. Since then I've been having my iPod, and later my laptop (when my iPod died) read to me while I embroider. It's much more satisfying than watching TV, because with the TV you have to stop and look up from time to time. Not with an audio book.

So far I've been read The Help (which, if I do say so myself, was an excellent choice. The story is told 1st person, from three different perspectives. They used three different actresses to record it.), Wicked, Pride and Prejudice (twice), Waiter Rant (most of it), and The Secret Language of Bees. Today I started The Fountainhead. I've never read anything by Ayn Rand, and all I really know about her is that our politics probably don't agree. Haven't gotten too far into the story, but so far I'm liking it. Though a little voice in the back of my head keeps saying, "That man has Asperger's Syndrome" when the main character is described as not reacting to things the way most people do. I know he doesn't. It wasn't even an acknowledged disease when this was written, and really, at this point the action's taking place more often with people who aren't Howard Roark. I haven't had much of an opportunity to see into his head.

I've been subscribing to Audible as part of an ongoing effort to get myself weaned off the TV. I pay way too much money to the cable company for something that I've noticed in recent years that I'm not using very much--except for when I catch a cold and camp out on the sofa, that is. Except for the aberration in usage last week, I've found that I get along just fine with a combination of Hulu, network webpages, and Netflix. Last month I dropped down to a lower tier on the cable subscription, eliminating the big movie channels (HBO, Showtime). The next step is to drop all the extended channels that I'm not watching, like BBC America, TV Food Network, and HGTV, along with all of the music channels I forget are there. The plan is to eventually work my way back down to basic cable. I'd get rid of that, too, but I want to keep my local channels. If I ever get an HD antenna or a new TV, I probably won't need the cable at all any more.

I've been resisting this next step. I don't watch them very much any more, but I like knowing that I could. The last, irrational reason I was using for hanging onto them was that the Rose Parade only gets broadcast on HGTV, but guess what! I found a Pasadena TV station that streams the parade, so there goes that excuse.

We'll see how it goes. I'm not going to drop it until after Thanksgiving. Probably not until the new year. See? There's that resistance. I started this post thinking, "end of November." Now? "How about February?" Pathetic.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Call your girlfriend

All right, I admit it.  I'm a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow.  I follow her on Twitter, even.  A couple days ago she tweeted a link to a YouTube video, saying it made her happy.  "I could use a little happy right now," I thought, so I clicked it.  And for the past few days, I've been going back and clicking it again. And again.



I'd never heard the original version of the song until Wednesday, when I went and Googled it.  It's some sort of heavily techno club song by a singer I've never heard of named Robyn.  I like this YouTube version so much better.  I hope these girls get a record deal out of this.  Their harmonies are so pure.  And I just love that their percussion instruments of choice are empty cottage cheese containers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two weeks and counting

Thanksgiving prep has started. I've bought an 18 1/2 lb bird, some mix for cornbread (for stuffing), and the makings for pumpkin pie. Tomorrow I'm ordering sausage and scrapple from someone at work--her family has a farm and they sell those things once a year in November. I've never bought anything from her, but a lot of folks at work have done and like it.

 This weekend I'm going to start straightening up this place. Considering how crowded and possibly rowdy it's going to be in town this weekend, it's probably a good idea not to go anywhere. I also need to mend a chair, but I'll need to go out Sunday and get the supplies for that.

I know I've tried to be a little coy about where I live, but I don't think I'm fooling anyone. I work for a university in "Central Pennsylvania" that has an incredibly popular football team? Yeah. You know where I live. We've been in the news all week. I really don't know what to say about the situation, aside from the anger and disgust I feel towards the "alleged" perpetrator. All the rest of it? I don't know what to think. Most of us are in a bit of a daze. And I don't care what you saw on TV about a riot, there were about 4000 (out of a possible 42000) that took to the streets last night, and most of them were peaceful. The group that got violent has embarrassed all the rest of them.

I am worried about Saturday, though. All those people crammed in one place, emotions running high, add a some alcohol and a whole lot of out-of-towners. Things could get bad. And? The bloody idiots of the Westboro Baptist Church are coming to town to picket something or other. Media whores. As if we don't have enough problems without them sticking their oar in.

 Oooh! Did I say that out loud?

 Good.

Edited to add:

Even though I haven't mentioned my employer outright, I should probably add the following disclaimer, just to keep myself from getting into hot water: These views are my own and do not represent those of my university.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The program needs to relax a tad

So when I logged in this morning and reported my weight to the Weight Watchers online site, the program threw a tiny little fit. It told me I'm losing weight too fast, offered to show me how to slow down, suggested that maybe I should consult my doctor. It was all worried about me losing muscle mass.

I really wish I could talk to it right now, so that I could tell it to chill the hell out already. I lost three pounds this week because all I could eat that I could trust to stay in my system was tea, saltines, toast, diet soda, and (when I was starting to feel better) some orange juice. I weighed myself on Monday, and I'd actually lost four pounds at that point, but then I started eating like a normal person again and found a pound.

Though it is coming off quickly right now. I've lost 10.8 in 4 weeks. I also bumped down to a different point target, so I have a few less points to worry about using.

Which reminds me. I need to go find something worth one point and shove it in my mouth. I bet a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese would do it.

So much for not turning this into a weight loss blog.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Quick one tonight

I spent the whole evening embroidering and watching "The Big Bang Theory" on TBS, and now I'm too sleepy to write a proper post. And my eyes won't focus correctly (too much close work, though my optician says they're fine. I think I need to go buy eye drops again). Better post tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, November 07, 2011

I promise this isn't turning into a weight loss blog

I've been sitting here staring at a blank screen for about 20 minutes now, watching the cursor flash. I've got nothin'.

I think this NaBloPoMo thing was a bad idea. I really just don't have anything to say anymore. I've been more than half tempted lately to just shut this blog down. There really isn't all that much going on with me that's too terribly interesting to read about. The only thing I've been really concentrating on lately has been losing weight. I don't want to turn this into a weight loss blog.

I suppose I could talk about Weight Watchers for one post, though, couldn't I? I've enrolled in the online program again, and I seem to be doing a lot better this time around. They've changed the program a bit--altered the formula for calculating points. They've added protein and carbohydrates into the mix, and they no longer figure the calories. Say what? I don't get that. Some of the foods have higher point values now but--and here's the part I really like--fruit no longer have any! Well, fresh fruit, I should say. Bananas used to be 2 points. Now they're 0. First time I entered a banana into the form and it told me "0 points" I was like, "Baby's gotta get some more bananas!"

Also, since they reconfigured the points and made things "cost" more, they give you more points to work with. And here's where I'm going to tick off all the thinner weight watchers. I'm a big girl. So, since they assign you points based on your weight range, I get a lot of points to use per day. And I'm having trouble using them up. I know, thinner weight watchers, I know. You now want to find me and kick me 'til I'm dead. Sorry. But I get to about 8:30 every evening, have 9 points left, and am more than a little frustrated because, aigh! I don't wanna eat anything else!

I know I should use them all up, because I don't want my body to go into starvation mode--if there's not enough stuff coming in, it'll slow down my metabolism and start converting whatever it gets into fat, because it's not sure when it's going to get food again. Oh, the fun stuff you learn about the way your body works when you join Weight Watchers.

The reason I'm doing this online instead of in person is because the leader I really liked retired. I used to attend the "At Work" program, and though I liked the leader who replaced her, it started getting difficult to attend. That was mainly a work problem. The crazy people I used to work for would make me feel guilty for leaving the building on my lunch break. They wouldn't openly criticize, they'd just let me know "something" happened, I couldn't be found, no one else knew what to do. I realize now that they probably manufactured the "crises" to force me to choose them over what I was doing. Oh, dysfunctional department, I do not miss you at all.

So anyway, I started going to the regular center. The only class that fit into my schedule was led by this skinny, bouncy, far-too-chirpy-for-me little thing who became a lifetime member after losing 20 pounds. I know that's an accomplishment, I really do. But? It's a drop in the bucket compared to what I need to lose. I couldn't relate to her. And the giggle/hair-flip thing she had going made me want to smack her with my shoe. Not exactly a morale boost, you know?

So, now I'm online. Taking it seriously this time around. It's only been a couple of weeks, but this feels different than the last time I tried it online. I guess maybe I wasn't ready yet. Or something.

Looks like I had more to talk about than I thought. All right, I'll keep the blog up a little longer. Must dash. I need to throw a glass of milk down my gullet before I go to bed. I'd better go do that now. 'Night everybody.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Snapshot Sunday

Berries by JugglingScarves
Berries, a photo by JugglingScarves on Flickr.

Proof that I actually made it out of the house today.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Maybe I'll get out of the house tomorrow.

Gentle readers, today's news is that even though I haven't left the house yet, I do believe I'm well enough to try sleeping in my own bed. Alert the media.

Dunno why I feel the need to camp on the couch when I'm sick. Maybe it's the TV? And being closer to the kitchen? Not that I've had much to eat that isn't toast, crackers, or tea.

When I'm feeling better, remind me to tell you about the time I got hit by lightning. Right now I'm going to bed.

Friday, November 04, 2011

And again I say, blurgh

Day Three in the nest on the couch. Drifting off to sleep with CSI on the TV (I know, strange way to lull myself to sleep, and I'll probably wake up because of disturbing dreams), I jolted awake when I realized I almost dropped out of NaBloPoMo on the 4th day.

So here's my post! It's more of a place-holder than anything. Still hopeful I'll be able to poke my nose out the door tomorrow to get my rump to Wegman's. Though it turns out tomorrow is the day they're broadcasting "Siegfried" live from the Met to the theater downtown, and I think I'm going to have to miss it. I don't want to risk the displeasure of the opera buffs around me, should I start coughing uncontrollably at some part of the performance. Ah, well. Maybe I can listen to it on the radio? Though on advantage of the live performance is that they flash the words at the bottom of the screen.

Anyway. Let me get this posted. More tomorrow.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Blurgh

Decided to spend the night on the couch, as that seemed to make sleeping sitting up more feasible. Woke up this morning with just enough voice to croak my name and the phrase "not coming in today" into the phone, then curled up under a blanket 'til about 9 AM.

I'm feeling better now, but not well. Sure hope this clears up by the weekend. The football team has no game this Saturday so the town? Is. Ours! Mwahahahaha! I'd hate to have to stay inside on a nice weekend when I'd be able to get to wherever I want to go with no traffic problems to worry about.

I'm planning on picking up the Thanksgiving turkey on Saturday. Wegman's has their turkey special again this year: buy $25 in other groceries and use your shopper's card and you'll only pay $.49 a pound for turkey. I guess I'd better start putting together a list of the things I need for Thanksgiving that I can buy ahead.

Provided I'm not hacking up a lung come Saturday.

Today's silver lining, though? While surfing channels last night (which I haven't done in a while because I'm trying to wean myself off of TV. But that's another post) I bumped into back episodes of The Big Bang Theory and fell in love with it. How did I miss this show? Apparently it's been around for years.

How are you guys doing?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Looks like tomorrow's gonna be a sick day

I think somebody with a cold breathed on me.

Pretty much the only time I haven't been coughing today is when I had a cough drop in my mouth. Seriously. I had about a 5-minute window of calm before I'd start up again, at which point there'd be a mad scramble to find the bag,unwrap another drop and toss it into my mouth.

The coughing itself is enough of an irritation, but here's the kicker: I've had bronchitis so often, any significant amount of coughing makes me toss my cookies. My cube is in the middle of a rat's maze with no clear path to the ladies' room. Hence the panicked race to stop it, stop it, stop it!

Yup. Pretty sure I'm staying home tomorrow.

Crap. Finished the drop in my mouth about 10 minutes ago and I thought the ginger ale was helping to keep that feeling away. Nope. Sleeping's going to be interesting. If I get any at all, it will have to be sitting up.

Stay well, you guys. Type atcha tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Once more with feeling

Aw, what the heck. Let's give this NaBloPoMo thing another whirl.

So now that I've gone and joined the blogroll for November, I can't think of anything to write about. The writing prompt for today was: what do you like best about writing?

Let me see. I think the thing I like best is when I write something and show it someone else and they point out things I didn't even notice--unintended symbolism, for example. That used to happen in fiction workshops. We weren't supposed to say anything when our pieces were up for review. We were to just listen to the feedback and judge for ourselves whether we got the results we were intending. I'd sometimes be surprised by what I heard, wondering if they'd read the right story. I kind of miss that. I'm also glad I don't have to do it any more.

I was thinking about that on the bus ride home from work today, watching the kids gear up for mid-terms. I am so glad I don't ever have to go back to school. Four and half years were plenty. I liked the "college experience," but classes? Not so much. I think I would have done better if my professors had just gave me a reading list and told me to come back and talk to them, one-on-one, after I'd finished reading.

And that's about it for today. Will try to write more tomorrow.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Little victories, little irritants

When I went to my O.D. earlier this month for my yearly allergy meds, he asked me what else was going on in my life. Well, of course he did. He's an O.D., not an M.D., so visiting him is more than just here-are-your-pills-here's-your-bill. And, because he's a disarming sort of guy, I chatted a little bit with him. Mentioned that as soon as I remembered to check to see what kind of batteries my scale takes, I'd be starting Weight Watcher's online.

Tippy-tappity-tap.

Crud, I thought. He typed that into his laptop. It's in my file. I guess I really have to do it now instead of just talk about it forever. Dammit.

Well, I did finally remember to get batteries for the blasted scale. I've been on program about 2 1/2 weeks, and as of last Wednesday lost 5.6 pounds. I've lost a little more since then, I think, because this morning? I put on the belt that I always wear with these pants and put the buckle through a notch one tighter than I've ever used before! And I didn't snap in half when I tried to sit down. Yaaaay!

In other news--the water-in-the-closet thing seems to have vanished. It slowed when the rain stopped, sped up when the rain came down pretty hard about a week ago, and then dried up altogether. The association manager is puzzled. As am I.

But now? There's a mouse in one of the walls. I think so, anyway. The cat has developed quite an interest in one corner of the living room. There are no holes in the wall (yet), but I'm pretty sure that soon I'll be finding out whether a declawed cat can catch a mouse. She's eager to try.

And hey! Tomorrow's November!

I don't think I'm going to try NaBloPoMo this year. I really didn't have much to say last year, I have even less to say this one, and Thanksgiving is bearing down on me like it's a train and I'm a silent-movie heroine tied to the tracks. Help!

Let's see if I can post more than 4 times in a month though, shall we?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Neighbor dodged a bullet too.

Well, it's not the neighbor's water heater. They've checked, their closet is completely dry. The last thing the manager can think of it that it might still be coming from mine, from some sort of release valve at the top. I've put a bucket under the valve to see if it catches any water. I'm thinking it won't, because right under that valve is pretty dry.

I wonder if there's a blockage farther down the line in the drainage pipe, and it's backing up from there?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bullet: dodged. I hope.

Around 4 o'clock the association manager came and looked at my situation. He's pretty sure that the water's not coming from a busted main, given where the mains are located (he checked the plans for our building) and where it looks like the water's coming from. Thank goodness. They would have had to tear things apart in here to get at it.

He then checked the little meter-reader thingie attached to my pipes (don't you love when I get all technical?), and it wasn't reading like there was any water running. To test it, I went and turned on the kitchen tap. Nope, there's no water running unless it's been requested. So it's not coming from any of my plumbing.

Then he wondered if it was coming from my water heater, because it was feeling a little wet on the floor around its base. He asked me for a clean, dry, old towel--what he was about to do was going to pretty much destroy it. I found a tea towel that I don't care if I never see again, and gave it to him to dry the floor around the water heater. If water started showing up again in a few minutes, that's where the problem is. Boy, howdy, did that thing come back filthy.

A few minutes later: no water around the water heater. So he thinks that the problem is next door. He thinks my neighbor's water heater is leaking, and that the slope we've been built on has the water running into my unit, using the drain in my closet. Unfortunately, my neighbors weren't home to confirm this, but he's left them a note. I hope they come home soon.

I've asked him to keep me posted, so that I know when I can stop worrying the problem is on my end. He said he would. Though I suppose if I don't hear from him again, that'll be an answer too. Of sorts.

And now back to straightening up the downstairs. Though I have a bunch of junk in the living room that used to be in the closet. I'm not going to put it back in there until I know that I won't have to drag it out again. And besides, it's wet in there.

I could do with things being a little less interesting

My parents are coming tomorrow morning to drop of Pippin, my Very Hairy Little Sister (aka their dog). They're visiting my aunt in Virginia this weekend, and they're pretty sure Pip would have a miserable time. Not that she would have all that much of a better one with me. She's bound to be depressed, pining for my Dad all weekend. But at least here she won't have to deal with my aunt's youngest grandchild, who is a bit on the rowdy side. Pip doesn't like children as a rule, and she likes active ones even less, I think. All that quick movement bothers her.

I took today off to clean. Not that the dog will care what things look like. Really, I should clean, though, and this is a good excuse. I'm off tomorrow through Monday to stay with the dog, just because she's a bit sensitive and probably won't like being alone. Yes. I am pet-owned, and not just by my own pets.

Turns out it's a good thing I'm taking the next few days off, because things at home just got more "interesting."

The night before last, I noticed a weird isolated wet spot on the carpet. My first thought was that the cat had done it, but no, there was no smell. And then I thought, well, maybe I put something really wet there? Couldn't remember doing that. I put a towel down to blot things, and went to bed.

It was still damp yesterday morning. I changed the towel, wondering what the heck it was. It was a little wet by the door as well, and my early-morning, not-much-coffee-in-me-yet logic thought maybe all the rain we've been having has caused the slab foundation to reach critical mass, and I was taking on water? I went to work, and didn't think about it again until last night, right before bedtime, when I finally figured out that the water wasn't coming from outside. It was wetter by the steps. Besides, this isn't like my old place, where the threshold was level with the pavement outside. There's a fairly decent step up into the house.

I checked the floor of the closet under the stairs, and it didn't feel wet. Worried and tired, I went to bed and lay there a bit wondering what was going on before eventually drifting off to sleep.

This morning I finally found my flashlight (I'd looked for it last night and couldn't find it. Today? It was in plain sight. I swear, someone plays swapsies with my stuff at night) and looked in the closet. Yep. There's a water stain down the middle of the floor, well away from where I felt it last night. I think the pipe broke in the foundation.

I looked around me at the state of the house. It's more of a mess than it was yesterday, because when I clean things get more messy before they get better. Then I did a mental list of all the things I need to do that use water. Dishes. Laundry. Cleaning the downstairs powder room. I desperately need a shower.

Then I wondered, who fixes this? According to the agreement with the owners' association, I'm responsible for everything from the studs inward. The association takes care of the other stuff. What if the problem is in the foundation? Is that my responsibility? Theirs? The water authority's? If it's mine, how much is this going to cost? I haven't received a pay raise in two years, and prices keep going up. It's chipped away at my savings "cushion" bit by bit, and there's not much left. Will homeowner's insurance cover this? Or is this part of that "act of God" thing? It's not a flood, but it does have to do with water.

I have been running around all morning trying to make the place presentable for the strangers I'm about to call in. I'm also doing all of the water-related stuff now, because I have no idea how long I'll be without it. I also don't know how they're going to get at this pipe without breaking up the foundation and/or knocking down a wall.

The first step is to call the fellow who administers the association and ask him whose responsibility this is. I am really, really hoping he says it's not mine.

And? The dog is coming. There's a crate coming with her, so I'm not worried about her getting underfoot. Hey, it'll make for an interesting weekend for her, right?

Off to take a shower. And to fill up a bunch of bottles with water. Wish me luck. More news as it happens

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another one in the eye

I've been having an eye problem since Thursday, and I told myself if it got no better by today I was calling my optometrist's office. It didn't, I did, and they'd like to see me pronto.

There's this weird shadow in my field of vision in my right eye. You know that after-image you get when someone takes a picture with flash? It's kind of like that. I don't notice it all the time, but it really shows up in bright light. It moves with my eye--I noticed that when I tried to focus on it and it shifted away.

The fellow I spoke to this morning (the optician/office manager, married to the optometrist) said it could be one of two things: a new eye floater, in which case there's not much they can do but at least it's not dangerous; or, my retina's detached itself a little bit. If it's that, they're going to want me to see a retinal specialist right away. Like, today. Like, call a cab, shove me in, and get me to the Eye Dude with the LASERs. Who will apply implements to the area and (hopefully) fix it.

I am remarkably calm at the moment. I think that's because I already suspected that these were the possible causes and outcomes. I am not the first person on the planet to get a detached retina, they already know how to fix 'em. It seems like a fairly common procedure.

It doesn't hurt at all, it's just a bit distracting. And? I keep taking off my glasses, wiping them, putting them back on, and saying, "Nope. That still didn't help."

I also have been using eye drops to moisturize things, and I don't know whether I'm imagining it or not, but it seems to be helping a little. But only a little. And so we go to the optometrist. Wish me luck.

Hey! Maybe I'll get an eye patch. I can be all, "Arrrrr, matey!" on the bus.

Edited to add:

Well, it's not a detached retina, just a great big honkin' floater. Apparently floaters like this are once-in-a-lifetime -- for each eye. So, look out, left eye, you're up next. The optometrist said that these kinds of floaters can cause retinal detachment, but that my eyes look fine -- no tears in the retina, no bleeding in the eye. The thing should break up eventually, and gravity should pull it out of my field of vision somewhere between 6 weeks and 3 months from now. In the mean time, I'm supposed to be on the look-out for it getting bigger, or if I start seeing flashes. I should call her then.

So no eye patch, but I am wandering around all squinty and semi-focused. She had to dilate my eyes to get a good look at what's going on back there, and for a while I needed to keep my sunglasses on indoors back at work. Because yes, even though I can't see, I thought I should go back to work. I'm hoping my typing skills are better than I imagine, and there aren't too many errors in this last bit of the post. Just going to have to take that one on faith, at least until I can see to proofread.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A rambling chatty bit of fluff

I just found this in my drafts.  Apparently I found it once before in my drafts, commented on its still being there, added some more, saved it, and forgot about it again.  I really need to check that drafts tab more often.

This part is from the beginning of August:

My Mom came down from the mountains on Friday.  We went out to dinner at a local, semi  fancy-schmancy restaurant.  She stayed overnight on my capacious pillow-back sofa (once you take all the cushions off the back of it, this sofa's as large as a twin bed, and it's ├╝ber comfortable), then the next morning we boxed up the cat and headed north to the wilds of Pennsylvania.  Sophie begged to be let out the whole way there.

It was a good vacation.  There was a slight bobble Sunday into Monday (I think.  I lost track of time there for a while) where the generator did something weird and it looked like we were going to have to last the week on 100 gallons of water in the holding tank.  That got sorted out, though.  I'm kinda disappointed that I didn't get to try the dry shampoo we found in Rite-Aid that we thought we were going to need.  But?  I'd rather use soap and water.

Anyway.

Kitty and I got brought back about a week later by Dad, Mom, and the dog.  You should have seen the dog when I put the cat in the carrier Sunday morning.  She (Pip, not Sophie) was outside on the porch with Dad.  It took Mom and me both to get Sophie into the carrier--she's a pretty good fighter, even without front claws.  We got her in, I shut the door, and turned around to see Pip staring at me through the screen door, astounded.  The look on her face quite clearly said, "But I thought you liked that cat!"  It was as if I'd suddenly sprouted horns or something.

I had taken Monday the 8th of August as vacation as well, because the original plan had called for Mom to drive me back Sunday afternoon, stay Sunday night, and go home Monday morning.  Did I mention Mom retired back in July?  No, I see that I didn't.  Yes, well, Mom retired back in July so now she has the time to do all the stuff she wants.  I'm trying very hard not to be envious.

---

And that's about where I saved this post, lo these many weeks ago.  I have no idea where I was going with that last paragraph.  I don't remember doing anything especially meaningful with the extra day that I had on Monday.  As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I spent it lounging around on the couch, reading and embroidering.
Couple of things I did want to mention:

Last year I crossed "grow a tomato" off of my life list.  Well, I decided I didn't do a very good job last year and I wanted to try again.  I bought a seedling from some Ag Department grad-student run produce stand that pops up on campus in May.  They had a bunch of different varieties available.  I chose one called "Muscovich," because it was described as cold-weather hardy, and not minding a lot of rain.  I don't know how it was where you were last spring, but over here it was extraordinarily wet in May.  I was this close to having moss growing on my upper lip.  I figured a plant that liked wet cold weather just might work in my patch.

Here's a picture I took of it last August.  [imagine there's a picture here] Bit of a monster, no?  It's gotten taller since.  When they dropped me off the Sunday of vacation, my parents took a walk 'round to the side of the house to take a gander at my wee garden.  Dad had to look up to see the top of the tomato. Dad is 6'6".  I think the plant is at least seven feet tall -- a far cry from the stunted little things I grew last year in pots.
I'd say I've gotten about 30 tomatoes from it so far, and the ones I ate instead of froze were pretty tasty.  

We had some pretty strong thunderstorms about a week later, it broke a off a couple of the branches of the vine.  There were a lot of little green tomatoes on those branches.  I turned them into a pretty tasty spice cake, using a recipe I found online.

And that's when I saved it the last time I tried working on this.  Well, they say three's the charm.  There's a picture I want to attach to this (that would be the tomato plant), and then I really, really need to hit publish.  Then I can talk about the rest of August (while I still remember it) and how I got bit by the Canning Bug.

I know. Canning. Squee.  But at least I'm trying to blog again.

Here's that tomato:

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Damp grump

I have to get this out before I bite someone.  There's a woman in another team who's currently driving me a little nutty.  Let's call her Wanda, shall we?

Wanda's retiring later on this month, but she's acting like she's left already.  She just kind of wanders around and gossips (she's doing it right now outside of my colleague's cubicle, next door to me).  Her team is consistently backed-up with work.  There is a ton of stuff on her desk that needs doing, and I'm willing to bet it'll be there after she leaves.  I so very much want to ask her to get to work but a) I'm not her boss b) I'm not even on her team and c) I don't feel like starting a fight today.  Well, c) isn't strictly true.  But she's a big woman, and she'd probably clean my clock.  So instead I'm just going to sit here and silently resent her.  Grrr, Wanda.  Just...grrrr.

The rain might just be affecting my mood a little.  Have you been watching the news?  For those who haven't, it is currently raining pitchforks and hammer handles (that's even harder than "cats and dogs") on the northeast coast of the United States.  A bunch of counties in Pennsylvania (mine included) have declared flood emergencies.  The Susquehanna river is dangerously high and isn't expected to crest until tomorrow.  It's getting a bit scary out there.

How are you-all today?  Staying dry and/or above water?

Friday, September 02, 2011

What it's like inside my head

First thought upon finding $10 in a pocket of jeans after I put them on: It's gonna be a good day.
Second thought: Pretty sure that's not what "money laundering" means.
Third thought: I should tweet that.
Fourth thought: And this is why I haven't blogged since April: stupid Twitter. Try thinking in more than 140 character bites, for a change.
Fifth thought: Damn, I'm judgmental.  Why don't I just back off? Geez.
Sixth thought: And now I'm having an argument with myself. I need to get out more.
Seventh thought: Why? So I can argue with myself in public? Do I really want to be That Lady on the bus? The one people are afraid to sit next to?
Eighth thought: What makes me think I'm not that already? And besides, what's wrong with having a seat to myself?

[shrug]
Fair enough.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fear and surprise

I am still here and I will write something soon.  But for now, watch this.  I rented Eddie Izzard's "Live from Madison Square Garden" a while back, and this bit was one of my favorites:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Auntie Em! Uncle Henry!

My co-worker just told me we're on tornado watch until ten PM.  Tornadoes?  In April?  In central Pennsylvania?  Is Mother Nature off her nut? 

In case of tornado, you're suppose to go somewhere low to the ground with no windows, aren't you?  I have no basement.  That leaves under the stairs with the water heater (and the spiders) or the downstairs powder room.  Luckily the cat likes to stick close by, so should the sky turn green, it looks like I'm gonna tuck her under my arm and head for the teeny tiny powder room just off of the kitchen.

Sheesh.  This morning they were calling for thunderstorms with hail. Now it's tornadoes.  What's next, poisonous toads?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Checking in

Let's see, what's going on around here?  Well, according to someone pitching to Blackbird, it's National Licorice Day.  Google says it's the 50th anniversary of space flight.

It's also National Library Worker's Day, and of course my library is making a fuss.  There are two parties scheduled so that no matter when your work day starts or ends you can make it to one of them.  I was stopped on my way in from lunch by the receptionist and told I should "hurry up and get some cake."  My response surprised even me: "It's just cake."  Did I say that?  And it appears I meant it, because I'm still on my lunch break (the tail end of it), sitting at my desk not eating cake.

Also?  Sophie has worms.  You know how cats are always sticking their bums in your face?  She did that this morning, and I saw a worm.  Uh-oh.   How the heck did she get worms?  She doesn't have fleas (I don't think she does.  I never see any), she doesn't go outside, I've never fed her raw or undercooked meat, and I have no other pets that she could have gotten them from.  I wonder if a flea hitched a ride into the house on my shoes or socks or something.

So tomorrow afternoon we go to the vet.  Huzzah.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Bats

A long time ago my great-uncle Bill told me a joke.  I enjoyed it.  A lot.  I enjoyed it so much that I started telling it to people, and much like Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant," the joke got a little longer and more involved with each retelling.  Between the first draft of this post and the second one it grew some more.  It's almost a short story now.  It involves bats.  And men (or women) of the cloth.

Once upon a time there was a little town.  In this town there were three churches: a Lutheran church, a Catholic church, and a Methodist church.  The pastors and the priest associated with these churches were friends and used to meet weekly in a booth at the local diner to drink coffee and talk shop.  One summer morning they found that they were all having a similar problem: bats.

"Honestly," said Father Mike, "this is getting out of hand.  One of the boys in the choir had a bat get tangled in his hair, and now they all flatly refuse to go near the loft.  They sing from the back of the nave." 

"Tell me about it," Pastor Owens commiserated.  "I was locking up after the United Methodist Women's group last Wednesday and noticed something fluttering around the lectern.  I thought it was a bird until it smacked into a window and started to climb up it."

"Ugh."  Pastor Larssen shuddered.  "Ours get disturbed when the pipe organ plays.  One blast of that thing, and they dart among the rafters in a frenzy.  I need to do something.  I really don't want to call an exterminator, though."

"No, me neither," said the priest. "They are God's creatures, after all."

"He can have 'em," Pastor Owens muttered into her coffee mug.

"Why don't we try getting rid of them ourselves?" suggested Pastor Larssen.  "How hard can this be? We are intelligent, resourceful people.  I'm sure we can figure it out."

The other two agreed.  They would each make independent attempts at bat-removal, with an eye toward reporting back to each other about successes and failures.  After draining their mugs all three stood up, grimly wished each other luck, and marched off, determined not to be bested by winged rodents.

A week later they were back in the diner. 

"I really thought noise would work," Pastor Larssen groaned, head in his hands.  "They hated the playing of the organ so much, I thought if I made a whole lot of clamor they'd decide to move to a quieter neighborhood.  But it didn't matter what I did -- organ, cymbals, air horn, none of it worked.  Finally, in frustration, I went up there with a shotgun; not to hurt them, mind you.  I just thought the explosion would scare them off."

"And?"  Asked Father Mike.

"Now I need an exterminator and a roofer.  And my wife thinks I'm an idiot."
 
"I decided to try trapping them," said Father Mike.  "Humane traps.  My sister's husband knew where to get them and how to use them.  He helped me set them up.  We even managed to catch them all!  Then I borrowed his truck, put the bats in the back, and scouted around for likely place for them to live.  I drove for about an hour, I'd say, until I found a spot that looked just perfect!  It was a meadow full of wildflowers, with trees round the edges of it.  I figured they could live in the trees, eat the bugs from the meadow.  Right?  So I let them loose."  He stopped to take a swig of coffee.  "Those bats made it back to the church before I did."

The Methodist minister sat quietly sipping her drink, and only looked up when she felt both pairs of eyes on her.

"Well?" asked the priest.  "How did you do?"

"Oh, I got rid of mine," said Pastor Owens.

"What!?!  Well don't just sit there, Susan, tell us what you did!"

She sighed.

"I thought this over for most of last week, wondering what on earth I could do to make them leave my church and not return.  This past Sunday was the day we graduated our most recent Confirmation class...I told you, didn't I, that my dad is a minister too?"

The two men nodded.

"Thought so.  Methodist ministers get moved around a lot, but my Dad was Episcopalian.  He's been serving the same flock for almost forty years.  Seen a lot of kids grow up in his church.  Anyway, as I was looking at these teenagers and listening to the rest of the members welcome them into the congregation, I heard Dad's voice in my head.  It's something he says when he's on one of his rants, lamenting the lack young people at church. Suddenly I knew exactly what to do.

"Monday morning, I went up into the rafters with a bucket of water and the United Methodist hymnal.  It's just like Dad's said: first I baptized them, then I confirmed them, and I haven't seen one of them since."

Cue: rim shot.

Okay, really it was more about church than bats.  

Okay! Bats it is. Watch this space.

And in the meantime, give a little listen to this:

Jake Shimabukuro - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Solo)

I'm know this guy's made the round on blogs and YouTube before, and it may have even been this song, but I just bumped into it yesterday on Coverville's "Top 40 of 2010" podcasts and was struck (maybe not for the first time. Can't remember what I heard him play the first time, it might have been this) by how talented this man is.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's next: you decide

Well hello there, readers! Miss me?  Do you still stop by in the vain hope that I might write something?  Sorry about that.  My well seems to have run a little bit dry lately.

But!  Now I have not just one but two, count 'em two ideas for posts, and I can't decide which one I want to write first.  And so I've decided to stage an informal poll.  Tell me in the comments section which you want to hear about first: bats or lightning. 

If it turns out I'm talking to myself (in other words, if no one answers me because they've all gone away to read the blogs of people who actually post on a regular basis, dammit), I'll probably just flip a coin.  Please don't make me go dig a coin out of my purse.

Friday, March 18, 2011

An exercise in restraint

I found coconut M&Ms at Target this week.  I bought a bag to bring with me when I go visit my parents at Easter.  Easter is four weeks away.  What's the likelihood that bag is gonna make it that long without getting opened?

Well, until I publish this, not very good.  As soon as I do, though, the chances of this bag making it into and Easter basket in upstate Pennsylvania will increase astronomically.  Here's why:
  1. My Mom and sister both read my blog, and I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing both of them in 4 weeks.  So they know these are coming.
  2. This is a holiday-specific flavor--like the mint ones that show up around Christmas--and they only make a limited amount of them.  I think they first made an appearance last Easter, and they went very fast.  I only heard a rumor of them but never found any.  Buying a second bag should the first on disappear down my gullet?  Probably not an option.
  3. I'm going to pack them into the bag I'm taking with me just as soon as I get home.  So I might forget I have them until it's time to pack for the trip (scoffs internally at one's naivete).  
I love playing mind games with myself.  I must.  I do it all the time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Public service announcement

We interrupt this blog for a public service announcement:



Why are they still using lead in paint?  Especially in things that go in the mouth, for pity's sake?  What surprised me is that it isn't all from China, either.

I  guess the cat is safer playing with my wool and alpaca yarn, which she seems to prefer anyway.

No noodle soup for me, thanks

When I leave for lunch I usually go down the center aisle and either into the break room or out the front door, depending upon whether I've brought my lunch or am eating out.  On my way I pass lots of people in their cubicles, in various stages of eating lunch. Yesterday as I was making my way to my yogurt and soup I was struck by a bizarre sense of despair right there in the middle of the aisle.  It only lasted a moment. It slowed me down for a second, but I didn't stop and evaluate.  It was over almost as soon as it started.  I think I would have forgotten about it if it hadn't happened again today in exactly the same spot. 

Back when I'd just graduated college and was trying to simultaneously keep body and soul together, pay rent, appease the student loan people (who wanted their money right! now! dammit!), and find full-time work, this stuff was a huge staple in my pantry.  And by that I mean it was practically the only thing in my pantry.  I lived on it.  It's easy to make, doesn't require much in the way of kitchen clean-up afterward, and (most importantly) it's dirt cheap.  I think I used to get them 4 for a dollar at the local grocery store. Some weeks they were all I could afford.

This almost two-year state of lack of money/constant fear of illness/job-hunting/keeping the loan folks off my back felt like a deep dark hole I was never going to get out of.  Some days it was all I could do not to throw back my head and howl with frustration, despair, and rage.

It's exactly how I felt when I walked past Hui's cubicle yesterday, and again today.  I figured it out though.  Guess what she was eating for lunch?

Yup. Ramen noodle cup-a-soup. Come to think of it, I've never bought one pack of those things in the almost 20 years it's been since I could afford other food. 

Talk about smell being a powerful memory aid.  Ugh.  I think that until the weather gets warmer and it's too hot for soup, I'm going down the side-aisle to get out of the work room.  Don't want to burst into tears in the middle of the room just because of ramen noodles.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Very glad to be here

I had my annual review meeting on Wednesday, and I just got the written results about an hour ago.

The phrases "great skill," "strong contributions," and "I am very pleased" figure strongly in the letter from my department head (my supervisor retired in December, so our head is doing these all by herself. I do not envy her). There's a lot of "very" in there, and "excellent" shows up at least half a dozen times. I'm over here blushing.

Yay!

To celebrate (even though I was gonna do it anyway, before she gave me my letter) I'm going to the $1 cinema tomorrow to finally see the latest Harry Potter movie. After that I'm buying myself a book at Barnes & Noble--The Langauge of Bees, by Laurie R. King. I was going to wait until the one after it was available in paperback and get them both at once, but I just decided I want it now.

I am constantly surprised by how easy it is to please my current boss(es). Points out to me (again) that the place I used to work, where they treated me alternately as an idiot or a very bright 8-year-old, was right smack in the middle of Crazytown.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Happy 1st day of spring!

Someone I follow on twitter is a meteorologist. I don't know if he works for Accu-Weather or is part of a university meteorology department, but today he wished us all a happy first day of meteorological spring. It seems that we don't have to wait the 20th or 21st for spring to start, it just did. Huzzah!

I'm starting to scheme about my garden. A woman at work is selling Easter candy and flower seeds/bulbs as a fundraiser for her daughter's elementary school, and I bought some. Flowers, I mean. I bought one of those seed mat things, where you cut it out to the shape you want and just lay it out in your garden, water it, and stuff grows. You know what I mean? I got the one for the butterfly garden. Going to plant it under the living room window, give Sophie something to look at all summer.

I also bought ranunculus bulbs. Really pretty. They look to me like a cabbage rose. Here, I went Googling and found some pictures. Here's what I mean. They're perennial, and they take sun and partial shade. And apparently they taste nasty, so the chipmunks (or whatever's been munching on my garden) will leave them alone. Sounds like a keeper to me, provided they'll grow for me.

I'm also thinking of planting pennyroyal in the bed, to keep beetles and ants away. I have no idea if it'll work.

I just went and looked up pennyroyal. Maybe I won't be planting that. It's a touch too poisonous. Don't want to accidentally kill a neighbor's dog.

Anyway, spring fever has set in over here. Looking forward to the day I can turn off the heat. How is everyone else?

Friday, February 11, 2011

365 project so far

Well, I'm still taking pictures every day. Some of them are good, some just so-so. I'm developing my eye, though. I also find that I'm looking at things more closely, trying to decide what would make a good photograph.

Here are some of my favorites so far:

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cover songs, classically done

I love cover songs.  Something about a person taking an established work and putting their own spin on it really attracts me.  I have a huge playlist on my iPod that is solely covers and remakes.  I'm always looking for more; the odder, the better.  That's why I started listening to the Coverville podcast two years ago--Brian Ibbott collects cover songs too, and twice a week he puts out a podcast--usually themed--that's 45 minutes of cover song heaven.

Coverville is how I found Janice Whaley's The Smiths Project (she's done, by the way, and now getting ready to release everything in a CD box set).  It's how I found Pomplamoose, that duet that was all over the TV this Christmas with Honda ads.  Cool thing about that?  The camera crew came to their house to film.  How'd you like to see your garage on national TV?

I love strings as well.  I played viola in third grade for a few months, until I couldn't stand the noise I was making any more.  I sounded like I was hurting the cat.  I gave it up and decided to sing instead, because at least I could control my voice.  What those few months did do for me was instill a love of the string section, probably because I know how difficult it is to do, and how much time and patience it must take to become an expert.

So when Coverville played Elton John's "Little Jeanie" by the Vitamin String Quartet, I immediately went looking for them. They're a group of session musicians in LA who remake popular music into string quartets in their "spare time."  They are very prolific, and they play anything from Elton John to Pink Floyd to Oingo Boingo to My Chemical Romance to Madonna, and all the spaces in between.  Here they are doing Lady Gaga's "Telephone:"


And this is their version of  "Grand Theft Autumn" by Fall Out Boy:


Good, no?

Here's one more string cover song.  This was tweeted to me by a friend.  It's dueling cellists performing "Smooth Criminal."



And there's your musical interlude for the morning.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Semi-Sophieversary

15-365

She showed up on a Thursday evening in mid-July.  There she sat in my flowerbed, meowing up at my living room window--lost, hungry, unarmed, afraid.  I let her in for what I thought would be a couple of days while I got her back to her home.

I told myself not to get attached.  She belonged to someone.  She had to.  She was declawed, after all, and spayed.  Those are alterations you make to a cat you're planning to keep, right?

I told myself it was too soon.  Delilah hadn't even been dead six months yet.  I wanted to wait at least a year before even thinking about getting another cat.

Then that Sunday I looked at her, and the name "Sophie" came unbidden to my lips.  And she answered to it.  And I realized that when her owner answered the ads I just put in the paper I would be really sorry to see her go.  It didn't occur to me at first that no one would answer.  She's a sweet-natured little thing, of course someone was worried and missing her.

Fast forward six months--she's still here, and here for good.  She has settled in.  I believe she thinks of this as her home.  We're past the getting-to-know-you phase, working on the this-is-our-routine phase.

She doesn't like:
  • Being alone for any length of time
  • The sound of tinfoil rattling
  • Water in her bowl that's over a couple hours old
  • Being carried around
  • Dogs (yet.  I have a sister with a cat-loving dog named Daisy. I'm sure Daisy would love to win over Sophie)
  • Sitting on my lap
  • Static shock (well, who does?  I'm sick of the snapcracklepop that goes on all winter too)
She does like:
  • Cardboard boxes (empty or full)
  • Having her face and/or belly rubbed
  • Yarn (if it's animal-based)
  • The round ends of knitting needles
  • Pretending to scratch the furniture
  • Mouse-shaped cat toys
  • Kneading me anywhere she can (arm, leg, chest...)
  • Sitting in a fleece bed by the sliding glass door to watch the world go by
  • Smacking little fuzzy balls under furniture for me to fish out and give back to her
  • Sleeping on my furry red bathrobe (provided it's folded and lying on the rocking chair)
  • Me.  
At bedtime she prefers to sleep next to me rather than on me, which at first hurt my feelings but now I find I like.  This way I don't have to worry about disturbing her if I change position.  Also?  She's not completely settled for the night until she has her face resting in my cupped hand.  All together now, "Awwwwww."  I know.  Precious.

She's talkative.  I think she may be even more talkative than Delilah was, if you can believe it.  She doesn't have the Siamese yowl, though.  When she meows, it's like she's asking a question: "Meowwwooo?  Meowwooowoo?"

Six months already.  Hard to believe.  Even harder to believe that someone abandoned her, discarded her like a toy that the novelty had worn off of.  I do not understand people who act like that.  As far as I'm concerned, when you take on a pet you are making them a promise that for as long as they live they can depend on you for protection, food, warmth, and love.  It's a long-term commitment, a contract.  It looks like these people (whoever they are) dumped her because she was no longer convenient to keep.  It makes my blood boil. 

Their loss is my gain.  Big time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Average Jane pointed out that it's Delurking Day.  If you do pop by today on the off-chance that I may have actually posted something, please do stop and leave a comment.

I am writing something that will hopefully go up before I get too much older. 

I was going to find a clip of Glinda the Good singing, "Come out, come out, wherever you are..." but I can't find it at the moment.  Hard to do when you're at work, pretending to do your job.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Plinky prompts

A while back I signed up for something called Plinky, a website designed to help people write more by giving them a new writing prompt every day.  I haven't used it much because most of their questions I don't really have answers for, or don't want to write about.  I've been noticing lately though that I don't have much to say over here.  My story-telling ability seemed to desert me right about the time I started NaBloPoMo this year.  Oy, what a slog that was.  I think I may be done with that for a while unless I can get some zing back into my writing.

So this morning I wandered on over to Plinky and looked at some of the recent prompts:

"Share a memorable job interview."  Um.  The jobs were memorable, but the interviews all seemed to blend together.  Though here's a question I have vowed to never ever ask: "What's your greatest strength?  And what's your greatest weakness?"  Oh, come on.  What does this tell you about the person you're hiring except that they're really good at BS?

"What are you looking forward to this year?"  I haven't really given it much thought.  It's only 6 days into January.  I don't have plans yet for anything special this year.  I'm kind of looking forward to next Christmas, provided I get all of my projects done.  I'll bet by November I'll be shaking my fist at the calendar, wondering why I ever thought giving everyone a handmade-by-me present was such a bloody fantastic idea.  I think my mother's going to teach me how to lay tile this year as she finishes their upstairs bathroom, I'm looking forward to that.  I'm already trying to plan the garden for this spring.  I'm sure as the year progresses there will be more planned things to look forward to, but at the moment the calendar is wide open.

"What does your home say about you?"  Bwahahaha!  My homes says that I'm scatterbrained, untidy, that instead of putting things away when I'm done with them I leave them right where I last used them, and that I'm not all that bothered about living from boxes.  I have some furniture, but not a lot.  I need shelves and cupboards and more comfortable chairs (for company.  We can't all sit on the sofa at once, you see).  I clean in spurts, so the place looks great for about a week and then slowly devolves into the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock before I wake up, look around in surprise, and have another mad cleaning frenzy.  It'd be easier if I just kept on top of it, doing a little at a time.  I've tried that and I can't make it work.  I'm not built that way.  Lucky for me I live alone.  I don't think a roommate or spouse would put up with this.

"Would you ever get an e-book reader?"  A few years ago I would have said, "no."  Now I'm not so sure.  I think if I did, I'd probably get a Nook, not a Kindle, and that's mainly because of the little trick Amazon played with, of all things, 1984.  They promised never to do it again, but still.  Sellers can't do that with a paper book.  Once you buy it, it's yours.  I don't understand why they thought it was different with an electronic version.

Nothing will replace the feel of a book in my hands, though.  And?  If you put a regular book down on a table in a restaurant and go up to pay your bill (which is what I do to signal to whomever was waiting on me that I haven't left without tipping them), you won't find it missing when you come back.   I wouldn't ever try that with an e-book reader.

Apparently there was more on Plinky that I wanted to answer than I thought.  I guess I'll keep subscribing.  It doesn't cost me anything, and it does occasionally give me something to write about.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Project 365

Thanks to Dana at Feast after Famine I just bumped into a website called Project 365, dedicated to these 365 photo projects.  I'm still going to put my photos on Flickr, but I've also started one on this site.  Go take a look if you'd like. 

While you're there (if you go), take a look at some other people's albums.  There are a lot of really good pictures.  I'm trying not to be intimidated by them.  I always thought my eye was pretty good, but yowza.  That site really points out (to me, at least) how much of an amateur I am.  I think this project will improve my photography quite a bit--partly from looking at everyone else's work and partly from the constant use the camera will be getting this year.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

So I found my camera charger...

And a good thing too, since I just (as in just 30 minutes ago) decided to do the 365 challenge: one picture a day for the whole year.  Let's see how long this lasts before I forget to do it.

Here's the first one:
1 of 365

Also, I went downtown yesterday and took some pictures of the ice sculptures they were making as part of the First Night activities last night.  Here's a good picture of the rooster in front of a local bar:

Rooster

There are more over on my Flickr page, if you'd like to look at them.  That's where the bulk of my 365 project will be too.  I may occasionally drop a photo from that into the blog, but I won't be putting them all on here.  That'd get old quick. 

Happy New Year, everybody!  I suppose by now some of you are working on 1/2/11, aren't you?