Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WTF Wednesday - It Puts The Lotion In The Basket

Thanks to everyone who supported me through my trauma yesterday...

I'm feeling much better today! And the dryer is still working, so you know, WIN.

My buddy Nova thinks it might have been all the Sudafed I downed over the weekend, combined with the thyroid meds I take daily.

Whatever it was, I'm glad it's gone!

So Easter is this Sunday, and we have some plans to celebrate with The Kid's Colorado grampa et al. There will be ham! Egg decorating! Wizard of Oz on Blu-ray!

And lamb cake, courtesy of me.

"What's a lamb cake?" those of you not from Chicago are asking.

It's truly one of the things that sticks out most as a difference between Chicago and Smalltownsville, Colorado (besides the lack of bakeries in general that don't involve grocery stores).

Nobody knows what a lamb cake is!

It makes sense I suppose, I don't even know if they're all that popular in southern Chicagoland, since they're really an eastern European tradition, and most of the Polish/Russian population in Chicago lives on the north side.

A lamb cake is exactly what it sounds like, a cake in the shape of a lamb, only it's sitting up and decorated in coconut and jelly beans and such.


Isn't it cute?

And my mother bought me a lamb cake mold. I am SO making one.

Whether or not it will look like the example above remains to be seen, of course.

But take a look again. See the shape?

Much like peeps and chocolate bunnies, the best part of this is the order in which you eat it.


You can totally throw in Highlander references and everything!

Awhile back, in trying to explain the lamb cake and subsequent joy of carving up said beastie, TR's brother had some really great ideas involving fake blood, plastic tubing and hidden pumping mechanisms. I thought it might be a little more subtle (and gross) to work some kind of twizzlers and those crispy straw-shaped cookies into the neck area, or at least some raspberry jam. Or both.

Maybe next year!

This year I'll keep it a little more PG and quietly fell the poor creature away from the eyes of the little ones who will be present.

Tonight is The Kid's first volunteer session at the Humane Society; while she's there I'll be shopping for Easter basket goodies at Cost Plus (where all the good candy lives).

She may be 14, but she still loves the tradition. I hide the basket and everything, and she always shares, so everybody wins!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday: The Universe Is Telling Me Something

I have had a horrific morning, which in light of Moscow bomb attacks and the general malaise plaguing our political system is NOT all that horrible, but which caused me to collapse into a puddle of woe at 7:30 AM.

So I'm folding laundry, being all productive, and because I have too much laundry stacked on the dryer, I manage to knock two shirts over the back.

Fair enough, I'll get them out with some sort of chimpanzee ant-grabbing stick-like device (read: metal coat hanger).

In attempting this, while crouched attractively on top of the dryer trying not to a) bang my head on the bottom of the cabinets or b) dent the top of said laundry machine, I managed to pop the dryer vent off the back of the dryer.

Have you seen my laundry room? There is no room to move. At all.

It's over there on the left, and it's like a clown car back there.

This meant carefully manhandling the dryer away from the wall far enough that I could somehow get back there and reattach the dryer vent (which Sears should have screwed in - they're getting a phone call). Re-attached successfully, I managed to move the dryer back in place (and in the process tore the vinyl flooring - I managed to bend the flap back down and move the dryer over it - don't ask how).

I looked behind the dryer and guess what?

It popped off again.

Then the tears started.

I managed to pull myself together and figured out that what I needed to do was move the *washer* (rather than further ruin the flooring), which had longer cords.

At least this time I smartened up. I unplugged the washer, trapped the cord between the lid and the body of the machine (otherwise you *know* it would have fallen somewhere unattainable), turned off the water supply, and sloooooowly pulled it out enough so that I could, using a chair for leverage, heave myself up and over the top of the washer, carefully weave my way around various hoses, and reattach the dryer vent.

Then it was back up over the washer to plug it back in, turn on the water, move everything back, swear some more, curse Sears mightily, check the dryer again (thankfully still attached) and do what I had intended in the first place.

Put the wash in the dryer.

Having verified that everything was running smoothly, I loaded up a new batch of washing and grabbed the laundry soap.

Twisting the top caused the entire pour spout to spontaneously detach and drop irrevocably into the liquid soap.

I stared at that for about 5 minutes before deciding that the universe was trying to tell me something.

So I'm staying home today. It was bad enough that I'm still allergic to myself and have a cold at the same time (I'm guessing - who knows), but this is a clear message from the universe that I need to stay home today.

I'm going to sit in the corner and not touch anything.

In fact I really shouldn't be touching the computer...

I'm just asking for it!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Special Update: Talk About Pollinated!!

Okay so I just had to pop in and give a HUGE, tear-filled congratulations to my buddy Dawn, aka the Formerly Almost Mrs. Ms. Dandy.

Readers of her blog will know that she went through heavy-duty chemo for the breast cancer she developed at an exceedingly early age.

She muscled through with a smile on her face, sticky-rolling her head (I still love that, even though of course I wish it hadn't been necessary) and getting through it with lots of help from her friends and loved ones and her B.

After all that and all the fear that it would keep her from having kids, I am thrilled to share that she is PREGNANT!

Dawn, I'm so excited for you. I meant what I said too, although I didn't put the whole swear in my reply since, ya know, your parents read that stuff I bet.

But I can do it here, in cross stitch.

And now to start trolling for quilt patterns.

Weekend Catchup: Pollinated

No Friday post, my apologies, as I was awash in sniffles and napping.

If those were the names of, like, pug dogs or kitten breeds, it would have been WAY cooler, but in fact I was suffering mightily with what is either a mad case of allergies or a bitch of a cold.

Thankfully TR was there to distract me, what with all the music on the portable hard drive he brought, along with some lovely lemony Happy Cakes.

He rocks mightily!

I also made a fantastic pot roast, and reaffirmed my vow to never buy meat at a grocery store again. It is entirely worth it to spend an extra 5 dollars on a roast if it will taste like THAT!

Not much else happened all weekend, in fact, although I did get to see my...



That about sums it up.

She was in town to visit with her mom awhile, so we go to have dinner and she saw The Kid for the first time in years. It was a nice visit.

The rest of the weekend really consisted of me playing with my Macbook and blowing my nose.


We did find out some exciting news though...

The Kid's group for the upcoming Washington DC/New York trip gets to go to the White House! They had applied to do so, but groups never find out until a couple of weeks before.

Alas, Michelle will be out of town, but we're hoping Barack's around. Wouldn't that just RULE!? I told The Kid to be sure to give him a hug from me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thrilling Thursday: Guest Speaker

It's been a long week.

Thankfully, today was my Friday, since the University thoughtfully gives the staff the last day of Spring Break off.

It's also the third week of the month, which means it's been all Expense System all the time, and between that and my raging allergies (ah, Spring), I'm soooo ready for a 3 day weekend.

I'm also, I must admit, quite brainless this evening... what to write for Thrilling Thursday?!

I could write about the Healthcare Reform bill being signed into law, because that's pretty frickin' thrilling (even though it's really only a start... when we catch up with, ya know, the rest of the civilized world when it comes to caring for our citizens, then I'll be happy), but unless you're living in a cave then you're probably well versed on the issue.

So what to do? Well, thankfully I have lovely fast internet at home now (I may have mentioned this) and so I was able to bring in a guest blogger.

Ladies & Gentleman, I give you...


So kid, what's thrilling you today?

"We're eating pot roast for dinner. But I'm *not* thrilled that we had 3 CSAP tests today!"

What were they?

"Writing (session 5), Math (session 3), and Reading (session 6). Reading and writing are in the same book, they alternate."

Mom note: good word!

So which test was easiest?

"Both writing and math, but mostly math. I'm really good at math, and I flew through it. We have 65 minutes for it but I finished with a half an hour left! And writing was easy because it was just correcting and stuff."

What did you do with the rest of your time in Math?

"Read my Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark book... it is just FULL of scary stories, let me tell ya."

And what was for lunch today?

"Some weird boneless rib... okay you know those things they sell at McDonalds, McRib or something, where it's boneless but all connected? We had that but on a hamburger bun. I had water, I'm not drinking the milk there anymore."

Mom note - I told her a little about why I now buy organic milk this morning, thoroughly grossing her out. Just as well, she should drink more water anyway.

So what else happened today?

"Since we did really good on our last test, which was session 6 reading, we didn't have to do the 6 sessions of 'The Growth of the Human Body' in health, and instead we watched an old Donald Duck cartoon."

Awesome! Which one?

"He was trying to go to bed, but first his alarm clock was bothering him and he couldn't go to sleep, so he slammed it into the wall with bungee cords or something, then his face was in the Mona Lisa, and then he was in bed but it was starting to fold in half and stuff, and he was fighting with it for awhile, and he finally got it taken down and stuff, and then he laid down and was just about to go to sleep, and the alarm clock was coming back together and the alarm went off, and then it was over. Weird cartoon."

Hm. And what's on deck for tomorrow?

"Tomorrow's a half day, it's the Rattler Cup! The 8th graders are trying to win our 3rd in a row; our class won in 6th grade, and last year in 7th, and we're trying to do it again! In the morning I have session 3 Science for CSAPs for 65 minutes, and then we have to play our Rattler Cup events. Four-square volleyball, that kind of thing."

What are you playing?

"Air hockey."


"We have to do that to earn Rattler points. Right now we're in 3rd place but not by much! After that I'm walking home to Maddie's and sleeping over there."

What are you going to do?

"We're going to share our weird dreams, play truth or dare, watch horror movies, stay up late, pig out. You know, the usual!"

Sounds like a blast!

Well, there ya have it folks. I left out all the "ums" and "likes" but that's pretty much my kid.

Cool, isn't she!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WTF Wednesday: Snow Day!

I'll start with my WTF of the day... why, when it's Spring Break at the University, meaning classes and such aren't affected, did they choose to do a "delayed start" today instead of just taking the day off?

All the school districts are closed due to "treacherous conditions".

So what the hell?!


Look at my new bag!

I'll post some betterish pics later, but check out the palm trees on the liner!

So cute. And very functional.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend Catchup: 18 Again, Only Less Sucky


Just, wow.

I had such an awesome weekend I'm almost hesitant to tell you about it, because it might seem like I'm bragging...

But I'm gonna anyway!

So Friday night after getting The Kid, we headed home for a nice quiet evening of hangin' in the crib. I finished (almost) the Birthday Bag for Elise (I can tell you that now, because she's got it at last!) and finally got started on the Folklore Bag I meant to make in February but never quite got around to doing.

It's going to be SO CUTE... especially the palm tree liner fabric!

Waiting for me at home was my birthday box from my mom. This year, she sent me an amazing sweater that she made with her very own hands, from a pattern on Interweave I was drooling over awhile back. It's gorgeous, and the cables are amazing (and go in different directions depending on which side they're on!), and the buttons! So cool - they're big and kind of Polynesian.

It's totally cozy and soft... thanks Mom!

She also sent some gorgeous earrings from the gem show she went to awhile back, including these very Arts & Crafts style dragonflies (which I'm wearing even as I type) and a pair of unusual carnelian ones that match a bracelet she sent a couple of years ago, plus a beautiful card which is suitable for framing! (I think I'll do just that... I think it would look awesome in my bathroom, which sounds weird, but I mean it in the best way!)

Saturday morning I got up and we had some breakfast (The Kid made blueberry muffins, isn't she sweet?), and I got the lining almost done on the Birthday Bag. I had a date with a pedicure up in Loveland with Nova, but I knew we'd be coming back to the house before heading out to Denver for dinner, and that I'd have time to finish up. I tacked the lining in place with approximately 1000000 (or so) straight pins, called it good, and (after The Kid got picked up by her grampa) headed down to have my heels buffed.

GROSS. But necessary!

The pedicures at this place are just so awesome; they hot wax your feet, there are massage chairs...

It's bliss!

After our fabulous pedis, Nova & I went for some lunch at a hibachi place with a lunch special, which was awesome. I did try to pay for lunch (I went to some extremem measures - a Hail Mary pass was called for), but she beat me to it!

Back at home, I FINALLY finished the bag while Nova got ready for our dinner in Denver (her husband was heading down to meet us). Et voila!

Can also double as General Ackbar's favorite hat

Thankfully she liked it (or at least didn't hate it on sight haha), so yay! Craft success! The link for the original is here, but please note the photoshopped handles because there's no way they got them that perfect. I changed the colors and the top pattern since I didn't like the flower, and I didn't take a picture of the lining, but it worked out great!

We had dinner at Racine's with TR, Nova's husband Kelly, and TR's brother George and the afore-mentioned Elise, which was lots of fun and...

Um, I shouldn't drink rum in public.

Not that I was running naked in the streets, but I do seem to get rather loud.

Also, when did I get to be such a lightweight?! One mojito and suddenly it was story time!

Oh well!

After dinner, the gang went to their respective corners, and TR & I headed for some hot tub loveliness, and can I just stress it was a HOT TUB. I swear it was hotter than the hot springs! I had to keep getting out, but it made the pool feel absolutely lovely.

And then...

TR gave me my birthday present.

Holy shit!

I told The Kid that she can use it, under supervision, if her hands are clean and there are no liquids in the vicinity.

There may be a hazmat suit. We'll see!

And let me say again...


He totally surprised me, which is not easy to do! I have an intuitive streak that often means I know exactly what's coming... I try to shut it off but inevitably I ruin it for myself.

But this?

Complete shock.

It was a delightful surprise, and I am enjoying it thoroughly! It's so pretty.

So white and pretty.

And clean.

On order: one hardshell protective case. I know myself well. I'm also going to make a soft padded case for it, because I'm a crafting nerd.

Sunday morning we had a late breakfast at a place which immediately charmed me, but stole my heart entirely as soon as my 4.95 steak and eggs arrived (with rye toast, mind you)...

How can you not love a place with a horse on the roof?! (Click the picture for a little local history.)

Now you might fear a 5 dollar steak breakfast, but let me assure you that everything was fresh and delicious; no powdered eggs or frozen potatoes at this place.

My favorite part was the original Formica table top with the boomerang design, which you could tell was the original due to the center of the pattern having been almost entirely wiped away after 50 years of use. I imagine when the smoking ban wasn't in place that it was kind of gross in there, but now?

Absolutely delightful.

After breakfast I headed home, although I had meant to stick around awhile and help if I could with a local campaign that's going on (click it and help if you can!); between the super-hot hot tub melting my muscles and a super-squishy bed that induced near-coma, I kind of yanked my back out of line, but a few Advils and a heating pad did a lot to fix that. (Today I'm not feeling too bad, but I'm definitely taking it easy!)

After languishing at home awhile, I headed to get The Kid from her grampas and have dinner with them (gluten free tempura - it was fantastic!). Her grampa and his fiancee gave me a very funny card, and a gift certificate for Bed Bath & Beyond... I see new sheets in my future! Maybe a comforter set. We'll see.

Tonight, I'll be finishing my new bag (I got the lining and exterior done last night - definitely the hardest parts!) and enjoying my new toy.

It was a delightful birthday weekend, full of balloons and surprises; I was made to feel very special, and really what more can I ask?

Especially at my advanced age.

Last but not least, congratulations to... um, us! There will be some bumps, and there's still a lot to do, but it's finally DONE.

Thank goodness.

Now maybe we can move on to some more stuff that needs doing!

Friday, March 19, 2010

F-Word Friday: Flattered

I really love Colorado.

Yesterday: 68 degrees and sunny.
Today: 27 degrees and snowy.

And NOBODY is surprised.

Well, here it is, my birthday weekend again.

I'm 36 this year, and I don't feel it. I'm not sure what 36 is supposed to feel like exactly, but I do remember that when *my* mom was this age, she seemed...

I don't know, like a grownup I guess!

I don't feel like a grownup... I'll just say I've been 18 twice and go with that.

The weekend should be nice!

I'm determined to finish the Birthday Bag tonight, after finally having found a decent way to do the handle. The one that was on the original pattern SUCKED - seriously it looked terrible. I don't know how they managed to get it to work on the model bag, but I suspect Photoshop. Instead, I'm using a pattern from another bag I've made a few times, which means one longer handle instead of two shorter, thinner ones. I think it works, and hopefully the Birthday Girl will like it! I'm going to include a hand-done coupon for a less ugly bag of her choosing, just in case she hates it. Although I know that's mostly the judgment-fearing part of my brain talking (I've mentioned how hard it is to give handmade gifts), it really is one of those patterns one will either love or hate; I love it but...

Tomorrow I'll be heading up to Loveland in the morning to meet Nova for pedicures (the *good* ones where they really go at my heels which are scary and you didn't need to hear that - sorry!), and then she & I will go back to Longmont to knock around awhile. (The Kid is going to her grampas for the day and overnight.)

Saturday night, Nova & I will head down to Denver to have dinner with her husband and TR, which will be lovely! I have a hard time making plans for others - I'm just not one of those "ok we're going HERE, so show up" kinds of people, especially when it involves long drives and spending money - so I was a bit nervous about making the suggestion, but Nova had a good point...

People that care about me want to celebrate my birthday with me. They don't *have* to, they *want* to.

So I should just get right the hell over it.

Also, I will apparently have balloons. Possibly tied to my beltloop. I suggested including one of those backpacks with the leash on it, you know so I don't run into traffic?


She loves birthdays; I'm slightly indifferent to them (mainly because I hate to have a fuss made over me - I prefer to do the fussing), but I'm starting to enjoy the thought of this one.

Especially since there's a homemade cake in my future (my daughter's favorite thing to do for me, and my very favorite - white cake with chocolate frosting), a yummy drink at Racine's (I'm not much of a drinker, but I think I can have a mojito on my bday weekend), and did I mention the pedicure?

Happy Friday!


Oh, Craig. *headdesk*

It's okay, you're still my second favorite Scotsman.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

WTF Wednesday - Póg Mo Thóin!

St. Patrick's Day...

I'm so glad when it's not on a weekend. It's bad enough when the drinkers observe the day on the weekend, but when it's the actual *day*? Twice as bad!

I don't celebrate it for the St. Patrick aspect, nor for the drinking, not being much of a drinker myself (side note... tradition says that back before the 1600s it was a one-day break from Lent in Ireland).

Instead, I celebrate my Irish & Scottish heritage, because although Ireland is the one getting all the press, it really is a holiday for all us Celts (please note the pipes and drums and kilts in the parades... that's not Irish!). They have very different cultures, of course, but both Ireland & Scotland (and Wales as well) have in their time been oppressed by the English to the point where their cultures and even their native language were in danger of disappearing... and would have entirely if not for a brave few who held on, and the bunch here in America (where the first parade was held in the late 1700s) who went out and flew their freak flags high.

Plus, it's fun to wear green!

Lastly, but not leastly...

I miss Chicago. The green river, the Green River...

Click it! It's pretty.

Those folks know how to throw a parade!

Whatever you do, if you do anything at all, have a lovely St. Patrick's Day. I'm going to take The Kid to Mike O'Shay's for dinner (not the most Irish of places, but close enough), then having a little soda bread for dessert while I watch my yearly favorite, The Quiet Man.

I'd go see my favorite locals, but they're playing down in Denver at Fadó and it'll be a madhouse.

Oh and PS... I filed this under WTF because a bunch of you will wonder WTF póg mo thóin means. I'll leave it to you to look up. ;)

Éirinn go brách!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday: Keep On Travelin'

So I woke up this morning at about 5AM.

I had beaten my alarm clock by a good hour or so, and was pretty awake so I figured I'd get a little more work done on the Possibly Not Going To Be Given Because It's Ugly Birthday Bag (either way it's getting done).

TR's Rick Steves Extravaganza of Travel DVDs is still living my house (mainly because I keep forgetting to give it back and no that's not in air quotes, smartass), so I figured I'd watch an episode or two.

The discs I'm on references "Benelux", so I keep hoping for an episode on Luxembourg (from whence many ancestors harken), but no luck so far.

One of the episodes that *does* appear, however, is all about the joys of Germany, in particular the Black Forest and Baden-Baden, which has lots of spas, one of which was featured on the show.

Three facts I learned this morning:

1. Rick went to the spa.

2. Rick got nekkid (there was no crack or anything, but it was IMPLIED) at the spa, took a shower, then got a thorough scrubbing and a good swat on the ass from a stern German masseuse, and filmed it all for us to enjoy.

3. My eye bleach is missing.

Now, I love me some Rick Steves, and really I'm not a prude. He's delightfully dorky and really inspiring in the way he'll just get right in there and do whatever.

But I don't want to see him naked.


Well, ever again.

But I did... just so I could tell you which part to which you should fast forward for all your Hot Rick Steves Action. (If I could make that blink on and off in neon, I so would.)

(Pssst... it's 1:14.)

It might have skeeved me out, but you know what?

Good for him.

That spank will still haunt my nightmares, though. Just saying.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekend Catchup: The Mood Struck

I'm so grateful that I can repeatedly report good weekends. I just want to say that loud and clear.

Friday afternoon I took off a little early to take The Kid to her Feline Friends training for the Longmont Humane Society volunteering she's doing soon.

I didn't have to do anything with it, in fact parents are told to skedaddle (it's the kids - oh excuse me, YOUNG ADULTS - who have to do the work, after all), but since we live across town I decided to bum around awhile on that end of Longmont.

After visiting (from behind glass, naturally) with the many adoptable critters (there are too many, and in particular lots of puppies - when will people learn to fix their pets!), I headed to Hobby Lobby to pick up liner fabric for the Birthday Bag, which is ALMOST DONE. I usually don't buy fabric there, as their selection tends to be kind of limited in scope, but for some stuff it's great and I just needed a solid-color cotton.

Back in the Humane Society parking lot, I got to work reading Book 1 of the Harry Potter series; I'm re-reading the whole thing (if at all possible) to bone up on enough knowledge to kick some butt at the Geeks Who Drink Quiz-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in April. If I know the GWD folks, it will contain your basic "name the actors" and "what's a Nargle" questions that anyone who's watched the movies can probably answer, but it will also probably have trickier, points-grubbing questions like "how many knuts in a galleon" (answer - 29) and "what's the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow" (oh sorry, wrong movie, but in case you're wondering... African or European?).

I'm playing to WIN, but it's also a great excuse to re-read these fantastic books. It's a testament to JK Rowling's writing that, despite having seen the movie many times and knowing the story inside and out, reading the story makes me laugh and want to read parts out loud to The Kid.

Really, if you've never read them, give them a go! They're delightful, especially the first 4. After that they do tend to get a bit heavier, as the characters are older and it's less about the ZOMG IT'S MAGIC! experience than it is about growing up and having to deal with life and adversity, so it makes sense that those later books are longer and more involved. So goes life, ya know?

After the volunteer training, it was back home for leftovers (we killed the rest of the Chicken Enchilada casserole) and some serious Birthday Bag work.

Saturday morning, despite my vow to sleep in, I suddenly found myself motivated to reorganizing my entire craft/office/Room of Requirement space.

Well, when the mood strikes...

I didn't actually mean to use up 4 whole hours of time on this, it just kind of happened!

After getting The Kid ready for her sleepover Saturday night (which, since she's a YOUNG ADULT now, consists mainly of me asking if she's done packing, and does she really need 15 movies for a 12 hour visit - "We need *options*, Mom" she says), I dropped her off and headed down to Denver.

After looking at a few really cool houses online (TR's house-hunting and loves the late-60's style of architecture - think Brady Bunch with less bell bottoms - and he had some awesome listings to ooh and ahh over) we headed out for some dinner at a Syrian place called Ya Hala.

The hummus was fantastic, the falafel divine, the Chicken Shawarma...


It wasn't bad, it had a taste very similar to chorizo sausage in fact, but it definitely had to be tempered with the lovely rice that accompanied it.

Alas, it didn't agree with me... I spent a couple of very unhappy hours wanting to die at about 2:30 AM thanks to some serious heartburn-type stuff. YUCK.

I'd definitely go back for the hummus, but I think next time I'll stick with something I can count on to be a little milder, like veggies or a kabob.

Getting old blows.

Anyway, Sunday was lovely. We slept in a bit and then headed to an honest-to-goodness diner called Breakfast King. After my nasty GERD pain earlier in the morning, I really just wanted some tea and toast and maybe some eggs... I was hungry, but not interested in tempting fate! I got exactly that, with some potatoes which were perfectly grilled, and it was exactly what I wanted.

And TR got green pancakes. Nice!

It was a gloomy, somnolent morning, so we curled up with the cats and took a nice snooze. Definitely one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday.

Back at home, The Kid having been dropped off by her sleepover buddy's mom, we had some pasta for dinner and watched a documentary on The Endurance Expedition, which made me really glad to not have been part of it. The unbelievable hardship and struggle these men had to deal with makes you wonder how any of them made it out alive, much less how they all managed to survive. Imagine, trapped in the ice for months, only to watch the ice basically eat your ship while you're forced to take what you can and hoof it to...


You're in the middle of the Antarctic! Where are you going to go?!

Apparently to a rocky, deserted beach where you watch your captain take off in a lifeboat through some of the most dangerous ocean in the world, through which he will travel 800 miles or so to another rocky beach where hopefully he might find somebody and a ship to come and get you. It'll only take what, 4 or 5 months? Good luck...

It's really an amazing story, though a bit sobering. It left me wondering what they were thinking, but admiring their bravery and determination.

I could never have done what they did.


Friday, March 12, 2010

F-Word Friday: Fifth of Something

I had an eventful Thursday evening! (Well, eventful for me. I'm old.)

The Kid got a ride home with her buddy, and I took off a bit early from work. After hitting the fabric store (Jo-Ann is having Coupon! Madness! Week! and I saved a bunch on some palm tree fabric and some cool wooden buttons for a purse project) I headed down to Denver for dinner with TR at the fabled Furr's Cafeteria.

Have you been to one of these?? Apparently they've been around awhile. From their website:

"Founded by brothers Roy and Key Furr, the first Furr's restaurant opened in 1946, in Hobbs, NM, and the second in Odessa, TX, in 1947."

It caught on, I guess... they now have 50 locations (most of which are in New Mexico and Texas).

I counted.

It's an honest-to-goodness cafeteria, complete with plastic trays and paper-wrapped silverware and folks standing behind sneeze guards offering you dishes of this and that. It's definitely comfort food (like dinner rolls and super mashy and delish mac-and-cheese and Salisbury Steak), and it smells like all the very best school cafeteria experiences you've ever had all rolled into one.

What was your favorite cafeteria meal? Mine was always the Salisbury Steak and the Chicken-A-La-King. It might not have been gourmet, but it beat warm PB&J with a side of mealy apple. I don't care which one wins the Nutritional Smackdown, I'm going to go with hot food every time.

Except if it's a cold turkey sandwich.

But I digress.

After dinner I headed to Arvada to do trivia again with Chris & Robyn & a couple of their friends, and we...

Well, we came in 5th.

But that's okay because we had FUN! It was just one of those nights when all the categories are pretty well matched, and I think we only trailed by 5 points or so. So it was a respectable 5th!

And I won the email clue prize!!!

It was a pair of Groucho Marx disguise glasses. They smelled funny, but I WON THEM, so they are awesome despite the stench.

PS... Courtesy of my mom and Bob.

Apparently the Hard Rock Cafe menu in Las Vegas is not what you'd call varied.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thrilling Thursday: Ballsy

Some of you know this, but lots may not...

I always wanted to fly planes.

I'll admit (because I can't hear you laughing) that it started with Top Gun, as cheesy as that sounds - my favorite parts weren't the volleyball scene or the locker room scene or that whole "Take My Breath Away" montage...

It was the flying, and I decided right then that I was going to join the Air Force when I finished high school just so I could fly an F-14.

My dreams were dashed, though, when (while flipping through the many patches to be had) I lamely struck up a conversation with somebody vaguely military-recruitery (is that a word? IT IS IN MY WORLD) about how someday I wanted to join up. He informed me that, due to my - well, my assets - I'd never fly a plane in the Air Force. (Even at 12 I was sporting more than your average cup size... and I looked older than I was, so it was only vaguely creepy that he took note of my boobs rather than out and out pervy.)

I was pretty embarrassed, and never thought of joining up again. I had gotten the distinct impression that women weren't exactly encouraged to join that particular branch of the military, which seemed horribly unfair but (being 12) didn't seem like something I could fix.

So I was pretty thrilled the other day when I heard that the surviving members of the WWII Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were finally being honored!

Here's the Morning Edition bit... you'll love it. Give it a listen!

I really loved the coverage given to it, in particular all the photos!

I wish I'd known about these amazing women back then...

I would have fought harder.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

WTF Wednesday: 7 Days To Live?

I had the creepiest thing happen Monday night!

I took The Kid to the library, where the orientation for teen volunteering at the Longmont Humane Society was taking place, and as we were coming up to the door the pay phone outside the doors started ringing.

Because it was outside the library, and nobody seemed to be around and waiting for a call, and really who calls a pay phone anymore, I figured I’d answer and just say “Hello, this is a payphone” and that would be that. I'd save the person who dialed wrong some trouble and additional phone calls, or at least let them know that their drug dealer couldn’t make the pre-arranged phone call time.

So after letting the caller know this, as I'm going to hang up, a voice on the other end whispers, WHISPERS, mind you…

“I’m not even real.”

Super creepy, right?! And of course it kicked up all kinds of horrible horror movie scenarios.

So yeah, if I’m dead in a week, it’s been nice knowin’ ya, give my regards to Broadway and all that...

EEEEEEEEK! Where's the Ghostbusters crew when you need them!?

I had the biggest crush on Bill Murray

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tome Tuesday #7 - Ruined: A Ghost Story

Wooooo, look at me all reading and stuff!

I picked up Ruined: A Ghost Story, by Paula Morris, while working the Scholastic Book Fair in February. I bought it for The Kid, but being a fan of ghost stories myself, I gave it a whirl while she works on another book.

This was the Scholastic Book Fair, of course, so it's Young Adult Fiction or some such thing, but then so is Twilight and it doesn't seem to stop 40 year old women from wearing "Team Jacob" shirts, now does it!


Ruined is the story of Rebecca Brown, a 15 year old New Yorker who is unceremoniously shipped off to post-Katrina New Orleans to live with her adopted aunt while her widowed father heads off for a business trip in China.

Her aunt, a fortune teller said to be descended from a Voodoo queen, lives in a small and cluttered house across the street from Lafayette Cemetery. On that same street are some of the richest and most powerful families in New Orleans.

Rebecca has a tough time making friends with the rich kids, since they have a Roman-style hierarchy that is acknowledged and followed by everyone including adults and the authorities, but the handsome and powerful Anton Grey takes to her (despite his friends disapproval), and she does make one friend while exploring the cemetery one night... Lisette, the ghost of a young girl murdered 150 years before.

Rebecca gets drawn into Lisette's story and the mystery surrounding her death. In one particularly sad and creepy sequence, Rebecca takes Lisette's hand (which makes her able to see other ghosts, but not be seen by the living) and walks with her on her yearly 4-mile journey to her mother's house in one of the most flood-ravaged parts of the city. The city is full of the ghosts of people who haven't been able to move on because of an unsolved crime, or in some cases because they don't appear to know they're dead (one woman repeatedly asks if anyone has seen her baby). Though they can't really hurt anyone, they can be really terrifying because they still bear the sometimes gruesome wounds that killed tham and because, as Lisette puts it, if they were mean or crazy in life, they're still mean and crazy in death.

The story was well thought-out, although there seemed to be some quick jumps between sequences, and the ending was surprisingly abrupt (I wondered if her editor wanted to keep the page count to a maximum Young Adult Fiction standard of some sort), but the pace was still slow enough to draw out the admittedly teen-friendly suspense - I only say that because anyone who's read any kind of Gothic novel will guess the general way of things about halfway through, though it doesn't diminish the surprises that do pop up.

I really enjoyed the story in most part because of the imagery Morris puts into everything. As Publisher's Weekly put it in their reveiw, it's a "love letter to New Orleans". She describes Lafayette Cemetery in detail, the Garden District so completely that you can almost smell the bougainvillea, and a November afternoon in such detail that you can almost imagine the exact grey of the sky before the rain kicks in. She also put in a lot of detail about the behind-the-scenes workings of Mardi Gras, including how the "krewes" work, which I found really interesting; Mardi Gras is apparently an all-encompassing thing there, not unlike the week of the Tucson Rodeo where schools are closed and everyone gets into the act.

I also really liked, given the intended readers age group, that she included a lot of social commentary about race and class disputes in the area that still go on in nearly the same way they did nearly 200 years ago. She details the rich kids in the private school that have no interest in doing anything to help the Katrina-ravaged areas of the city (they'd rather they just disappear), as well as the history of the different black, white and mixed-race populations like Quadroons and the Free People of Color, and what their social situations were like. She offers the history in an engaging way, and it's enough information that I can see kids being interested enough to learn more, but she does it without being heavy-handed. It is a ghost story for young teens, after all, and meant to be entertaining.

If you've got a 12 year old or so who enjoys spooky stories, pick this one up for them...

Just don't do it at Amazon, because they're a bunch of jerks!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend Catchup: Quiet... Too Quiet

Well hi!

Now you'd think with all my new-fangled interwebs at home, I'd be making weekend posts.

You'd think that, but you'd be thinking that based on the idea that I have a cooperative computer which, when photos are uploaded onto it, wouldn't freeze up and have to be jolted back to life through clever use of the CTRL-ALT-DEL trick.

(I'm not complaining... it does what we need it too, the rest is just extras we can live without!)

The weekend was our first without TV, and it was very quiet.

It's not so much that I loved just having it on (I can't stand the jarring noise of the commercials), but it kind of...

Well, I'll be honest. It filled the void.

Breaking my addiction to TV As A Daily Standard will take a little time to do. While The Kid is content to sit on Facebook and Pogo (she loves those games), I find that when working out my Kraft Krazy, I like to have something to listen to or watch! I also like to, I'll admit, veg out on the couch and watch something stupid now and again.

The solution?

Our Local Library!

The have DVDs. Lots of them. For FREE! Plus books (SHOCKING) of which we procured several. I don't know why, but I always forget they're there. It's not a bad library, either, considering we're kind of a small town.

We watched my very favorite movie of all time (if I had to pick one), Auntie Mame (the one with Rosalind Russell), I introduced The Kid to Baron Von Munchausen (she loved it), we decided once and for all that we really should visit Oregon and Washington State more often (but that we can do without the fish-throwing at Pike Market - it just seems so unsanitary), and we learned all about how Orcas are complete assholes, pretty much all the time, if you're a Sperm Whale.

It's a crutch, of course... there are actual, real-life things to do out there in the world, and not having TV to fill the space makes one consider what those things might be.

Did we do any of them this weekend? Not really. But we were inspired, and did manage to get a few things done.

I made the chicken enchilada dish I was planning on. The Kid had a LOT of this, and she's kind of picky, so it was definitely a success! (She has very sensitive taste-buds - a foodie in training.) I thought it might be too oily, because you have to kind of quick-fry the tortillas in canolla oil first to soften them up (makes sense), but it all cooked up nicely!

I also made these. Come over! I'll make them for you!

I got super-far on the Birthday Bag, because I suddenly realized that the Birthday is fast approaching. I work better under pressure. It's very African and modern and I hope it's not ugly.

I think it's cute but it might be ugly.

We'll see!

Friday, March 5, 2010

F-Word Friday: I've Got The Fever

So I'm home today.

Home sick, home with my internet... home with my cats, one of whom is currently crammed in the crevasse between my back and the chair. Purring.

It's amusing *now*, but you know eventually she's going to want to move. And then there will be claws.


Anyway, so I'm not dying of The Fever or anything, but I was feeling pretty gross yesterday, and still not fabulous today, and I'm pretty caught up at work, and... and...

I've only just gotten back home because although I'm not feeling great (I've got that voice that can pull off Leonard Cohen today, and sniffles that just won't quit), I would feel too sluggy if I didn't do *anything*.

It's this thing I have.

So I went to the grocery store (got the stuff for these chicken enchiladas which sound awesome), went to the butcher (who I love... they even partitioned out my chicken for me so I wouldn't have to drag out my beloved but decidedly unwieldy Foodsaver today), swept my garage and weeded for half an hour.

I got more done this morning than I probably would have all day at work.

I've also discovered that I have a very noisy keyboard. It woke the *other* cat up, who had been peacefully sleeping. It doesn't help, of course, that I type 2000 words per minute (give or take)...


Okay yeah, I mentioned the fever yes? It's only mild but apparently enough to make me oddly motivated and inclined to type things like "rat-a-tat-tat-tat" about my typing.

I'm going to quit while I'm ahead.

Have a wonderful weekend... I'll be working like a fiend on a birthday bag (how the time does fly!), probably going to see the new Alice In Wonderland with the Kid, and wishing the best to TR as he gets in up to his elbows, armed with specialized equipment and a sense of enduring hope.

Sounds like an episode of Star Wars, no?

(PS - I had a couple of people ask me what the picture was in Monday's post... it was a mold spore! Cool, huh?)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thrilling Thursday: Underground Kansas

So there's this place called the Kansas Underground Salt Museum.

No wait, don't leave yet! It gets better, I promise.

TR told me about it, and really it's pretty thrilling! There's the science-nerd attraction of being someplace that contains bacteria that are alive and older than dinosaurs, and the thrill-seeker joy of going someplace deep underground, but there's also the conspiracy-theorist thrill of knowing that there could be *anything* stashed down there. Because of its constant temperature and low humidity, a company called Underground Vaults and Storage has been keeping things down there since the 1940s. You can't see what's in there but they have a small exhibit you can tour. There are thousands of original prints of movies down there, apparently, including Gone With the Wind and The Wizard Of Oz, but what goes into the mine has to stay in the mine if it's for any extended length of time... if it was brought back up top, it would instantly corrode.

Scary! But cool! I want to go.


But wait, there's more! Also out there in middle of nowhere is the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. No mere scattering of moon landing and solar system models, this museum has some amazing pieces of Space Age artifact. Gus Grissom's capsule, lost at sea for 38 years and restored by the museum folks, the Apollo 13 command capsule, and the full-size lunar lander that was used as a TV backup while the 1969 landing was going on (for when the feed got too fuzzy) are all on display.

There's even a full-size Space Shuttle model! Awesome.


Who knew Hutchinson, Kansas was such a vacation spot?! It's definitely on the list now.

PS... I have to share this with you. You know my brain takes weird paths, right? Like I'll start thinking about, oh I don't know, that I need a new pair of jeans. This will end up a minute or so later with me thinking about my first date, and the jeans I wore which were so very stylish (for 1989) with their pegged legs and awesome pre-ripped-and-patched holes. My date brought a friend, we went to a metal club (the old Exit in Chicago), and I ended up sitting in the back while he moshed with said friend, watching Evil Dead with a really sweet biker guy. I don't even know how we got in, it must have been all ages night. All I really remember is feeling WAY out of place with my carefully french-braided hair, white collared shirt, and trendy jeans.

See? My mind wanders.

So when I typed the title of today's post, it might amuse to know that I immediately thought of this song by Digital Underground which was super popular in my Freshman year of high school. Scary to think that my Kid is about to start high school herself (well, in several months, but it seems so IMMINENT), and that the songs they love now are just as vaguely naughty (okay, well, sometimes right out loud dirty) as the ones we listened to then were.

It makes it hard to frown at her music tastes, especially when I realize today that if *I* wasn't really paying attention to the lyrics to those Salt-n-Pepa and Def Leppard songs (or if I was, I wasn't being influenced by them - I didn't run right out and push anything, nor did I attempt to pour sugar on anyone), then The Kid probably isn't either.

It doesn't mean I have to like that Ke$ha though. She's just whorey.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WTF Wednesday - Ripoff Artists


It's a good thing I'm ornery, that's all I have to say, otherwise I'd get taken advantage of a lot more.

So I called DISH NETWORK (I'm capitalizing in the hopes that some poor soul Googling them will find my blog first) to cancel my TV service, and at first, naturally, they did everything in their power to keep me as a "valued customer".

"It's the best package we offer!" they exclaimed.

"What can we do to keep you?!" they begged.

After assuring them that no, I just really wasn't interested in the service anymore, things got decidedly more chilly.

You'd have thought I'd given them interesting suggestions on things they could *do* with their DISH NETWORK service, but in fact I'd been polite and conversational the whole time.

DISH NETWORK GUY: "Well, you know there will be a FEE for sending the equipment back, and if you don't send it back with our $15 dollar-per-box labels, you will be charged for the equipment."

I politely inquired as to whether there was an office location at which I could simply return the equipment (at least Comcast offers *that* convenience), the response to which was:

DNG: "No."

Alright then, fair enough I guess.

How about a refund on my unused portion?

ME: "The bills are for one month in advance, and I just paid up through April 5th, so clearly I am due a refund, correct?"

DNG: "No, ma'am. There is a no-refund policy in regards to paying for programming."

Excuse me? (Insert WTF face here.)

ME: "Wait, I paid in advance and I can't get the amount I didn't use returned to me?!"

DNG: "There's no way to get your money back. That's what "no-refund" means."


ME: "Yes, thank you I understand what "no refund" means, but don't all cable companies prorate the balance of the paid-in-advance amount if you cancel before hand?"

DNG: "Oh, well yes I *suppose* we can process a refund of 50.00 or so."

ME: "So can I get some kind of email verifying this?"

DNG: "No ma'am. If you don't see a credit, you can just call back."

What. The. Frig.

If I was at all apprehensive before about whether or not to ditch pay TV...

It's gone now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday: You're Gonna Love My Nuts!

Okay this is just the coolest.

This guy, Mr. X-Stitch, has some truly funny stuff to offer (check out the Renaissance Lolcats), but my favorite is this one:


You know how I love me some subversive cross stitch. Combine that with my favorite (living) online huckster (creepy though he may be) and you have something I must have.

Or I must, at least, make for someone else.

Any takers?

You will, my dear readers, be glad to know I'm feeling much perkier today. Thanks to some venting (thanks TR) and some sunshine, things are looking a lot brighter.

One day at a time, right?

And now you have that song in your head.

My work here is done.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Weekend Catchup: Free Gift With Purchase

Happy Monday! Time for another lengthy rundown of everything in my head!

Pardon me in advance, I seem to be having an issue. (I'll spare you the details.)

The weekend was lovely though; extra-lovely since we stayed in a hotel! I love hotels, they're just so clean and neat, and this one was fabulous.

Why a hotel, you ask?

TR has this vast collection of awesome 1:18 scale planes. He got a whole slew of them at once (at a ridiculously good sale - imagine your favorite purse brand putting all their stuff on a $10 rack - you'd buy EVERYTHING) and they've been living happily, stacked in neat towers in the corner until he gets himself a rec room, at which point he'll be able to display them in all their glory.

Well, one of them got sick. This was discovered while TR was attempting to relocate some of the planes into storage. It was one in the back on the bottom of a stack (naturally - also I'm a poet and didn't know it!) and had apparently been growing its science project with no interruptions for quite some time.

Items in photo are not representative of actual wall art

The thinking is it was probably already living in or on a box, and then in the heat of summer/damp of humidifiers, a star was born. I think the most evocative description I can give you is the one TR gave me...

When the hydrogen peroxide (the solution he found online) was applied, there was hissing.


Understandably, there was fleeing from the premises.

As luck would have it, he needed to earn a couple more points on his Marriott Rewards thinger (that's a technical term, I'll have you know), so there ya go... unexpected hotel stay!

I like silver linings.

Friday night we ate at J. Alexanders since a) poor TR had been battling mutant spores all afternoon and b) my job is eating my soul. We needed comfort food. The carrot cake was forgone this time in favor of fresh, hot sourdough bread which was absolutely awesome.

Then it was off to walk a few calories off by going to the Biggest Target In The Land (well, almost - the biggest is in Hoover, Alabama and yes I looked it up), an extremely cavernous PetSmart, and The Container Store, which oh my goodness.

I love that store.

I have mentioned the teeny tiny bit of OCD I have, right? Have you *been* to one of these places? If you have, you'll understand the drooling that was going on. Figuratively speaking of course. I have *some* manners.

Saturday, after some breakfast at Le Peep, we headed back to Sporeville to check on the kitties (they couldn't get to the new inhabitants, so they were safe) and move some of the non-contaminated boxes down to storage. His storage area is creepy, and that's all I'm gonna say about that.

We had dinner with TR's brother et al at a place called Red Tango. It bills as a "Latin American Bistro", and was absolutely fantastic! We ate ceviche and empanadas and fresh bread like they were going out of style, and I had this pile of vegetable joy whose name I forget, but it had goat cheese and pesto and balsamic-vinegar soaked grilled zucchini.


After dinner we went to TR's brother's for cake that had made its way all the way from Lafayette, Louisiana (if you're ever in town apparently they also have awesome burgers), and his brother's girlfriend and I had a long, long talk about stuff in general. I like her a lot, she's funny and smart and brought me a gorgeous goodie from Disney, although that has nothing to do with the price of sand in Albuquerque... just a point of note. It was very sweet of her!**

Our talk stirred up a bit of stuff for me (we have similar pasts), and I had a long and upsetting dream which resulted in me crying all over TR in the morning. Poor guy... it must be a bit shocking to see me go over all weepy like that! It happens but rarely.

The rest of the day was filled with much less crying, and a lot more yelling at the TV... we watched the AMAZING USA vs. Canada Olympic hockey match. The US may have taken Silver, but they have *nothing* to be ashamed of! They totally kicked ass. I've never been much of a hockey fan, but even I was totally into it! Very exciting.

I also may or may not have gotten shoe ick all over the carpeted stairs of TR's friend's house. I haven't asked yet, as it was dark down there and I didn't notice until we were going up the stairs after the game (it was dark when we arrived - yay for projectors!), and I hadn't thought to take off my shoes (hardwood floors). I meant to ask at the time but forgot.

If it was me, I'll make it right... I'm wicked with a steam-cleaner.

I was still a bit bummed out on the way home Sunday (when my brain gets to whirlin' it takes awhile to stop), and I hadn't seen my Kid all weekend (she was touring the Front Range with her Colorado grandparents) so she & I had dinner out at one of our local faves. It probably would have been more fun if I hadn't been all mopey. It didn't help that it was super gloomy outside...

You'd think I'd never been a Junior Goth Girl! I used to *wish* for that kind of gloom! There are times when I still enjoy it, but I don't seem to go for the wallowing anymore.

Probably a good thing, huh.

** I just realized, typing that part up, that I never thanked Mrs. Dandy for the AMAZING pendant she sent me, at least not in this 'ere blog! Thank you for thinking of me while you were in New Zealand, the blue is so uplifting and calming! You rock.

Well, have a happy day... best wishes to the folks in Chile. What a mess. What's next?!