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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Photo Ops

So I've been playing with my new scanner (fun, fun, fun!) and decided to scan some of my photos from my trip to Ireland in '01. I need to travel more. (And I need to somehow become independently wealthy...)

Above is a cathedral in Galway. I don't remember the name of this one (if I ever knew), but it was pretty from my viewpoint across the river, so I took this picture. Above is a Waterford Crystal Irish Harp on display at the Waterford factory. The tour was pretty awesome, and there was some amazing crystal work on display. This was just one.

Above is a shot of the view across the gardens of Saint Patrick's Cathedral. I don't remember what the building across the street there is (and although it looks like the gardens belong to this grand edifice, they are actually fenced off and across a street - you can see a tour bus in the mid-frame on the right side). The cathedral was about 2 blocks behind the hotel where my friend (Kerri) and I were staying while in Dublin. It was a great location (also walking distance to Guinness, Dublin Castle and a nice fish&chips shop around the corner).

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry Christmas! (okay, it's a little late)

I hope everyone had a happy Christmas. Mine was good. I spent Saturday with a few friends visiting from out of town, which was fun, but I think we all wished we had more time. Saturday night it was back to my mother's house. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with Mom and the stepfamily, and got to meet my little brother's new girlfriend. (She seemed very nice - and good news - she crochets and knits!)

After the gift unwrapping frenzy, and dinner with the family, it was time to head on over to Dad's house for Christmas evening. My two brothers also came and Tony brought the new girlfriend over to meet Dad and my step-mother. She seemed to warm up to them quickly, if I read her right. And my big Christmas surprise - my parents and step-parents all went in together and bought me a new computer! I was not expecting that at all. But I'm definitely happy about it.

So, when I got home Tuesday night, I puttered around making numerous trips from the car to the apartment, bringing everything in. I'm still fighting this cold, which is sapping my energy, but decided I'd set up the new computer that night anyway. Easy peasy. I set up the printer today (so nice to have a working printer again! And now I can scan some of my older photos too). Late last night, after connecting all of the computer components, I hopped online and ordered DSL. That's right, now that I have a machine that will support DSL, I am booting out the dial up! I should be connected with high speed by next Tuesday. Welcome to the 21st Century.

And, because my vacation is now over, and I must head off to bed...I will leave you all with photos of 3 of the crocheted scarves I powered out this winter for Christmas gifts. I've discovered ArtYarns Supermerino, and I am addicted!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas to me....

So today at lunch I decide to go to the gas station for a necessary fill-up. I swipe my debit card, and the little machine thingy tells me to see the cashier inside. Weird. And it won't let me cancel the transaction either. Hmm... So I go inside and the cashier tries the card again, and it is denied. And then again... I pay with my credit card instead and high-tail it over to the bank to see what's going on, since I know I have the funds in my account, plus overdraft protection.

My credit union has great tellers (just have to say that). The teller checked out my account and said there was some questionable activity and that I would need to call their fraud services department and verify if the charges were authorized. In the meantime, the debit card is useless, but I can still use my checks. I deposit the check that was sitting in my purse waiting for me to take care of it, and get some cash back since the card is on hold. I was figuring that they were questioning the numerous retail charges I racked up last Thursday when I did the bulk of my Christmas shopping.

Nope! After talking to the fraud services representative, it seems that someone is using my debit card info for a Wal-Mart shopping spree in Louisiana. I don't even think I've ever been to Louisiana! She told me to go back to the bank and fill out the necessary paperwork. My boss graciously allowed me to head back out to take care of it (have I mentioned that my department at work handles fraud detection and investigations, among other default issues?).

Again at the bank (they'll all know me by name soon), I spoke to the same teller I had spoken to earlier. When she checked my account again to print out documentation of the disputed charges, she saw another pending charge (again at a Wal-Mart in Louisiana), so I got a new form and added that amount to the dispute. So...someone who should be receiving large quantities of coal (but more likey will get a Playstation obtained through dastardly deeds) in their stocking has taken $1,130 of my hard earned money! Yes, I am rather indignant about it.

But, since I found out so quickly and filled out the dispute form and affidavit of forgery (fraudulent use of a credit card, debit card, or ATM Card), the stolen money should be refunded to my account. The debit card has been cancelled, and I will be issued a new one, so there shouldn't be any additional fraudulent charges.

Then I came back to the office to call the coppers - I want to file a report ASAP, just to keep my bases covered. The local cops here told me I need to file with the local department (by my residence). So, after weighing in tonight at ww to see how badly I've done all week, I'm heading back home and will be making a special stop at the local police department to file a report. (I called already, just to find out if I could file by phone or not. I need to show up in person, which makes more sense anyway. But they are open 24/7, so I don't have to take any more time off of work.)

So, what's with the scammers last Sunday in the Target parking lot, and the stolen debit card now? What a crazy dichotomy (did I use that correctly?)- half the nation is out celebrating the season of giving and charity, and the other half is scheming and stealing. Don't people know right from wrong anymore?? No wonder I am such a cynic!!

I'm just wondering how someone got a hold of my info. One of the bank tellers was guessing that it was skimmed (where they insert a device into an ATM machine or other scanning device and copy the account numbers of the magnetic strip when the card is swiped). If that is the case, whoever did it is probably working on a large scale to make it worth their while, and who knows how many other people were affected too. I have no idea where this could have happened, since all the ATMs, and as far as I know, all of the POS sites, that I use are pretty heavily guarded security-wise.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hectic Holidaze

Well, the frenzy continues.

The cookie baking was fun. My friend Judy from high school came with her 2 kids, sister and mother. We did a lot of catching up and also made 3 batches of cookies (sugar cookies, gingerbread cutouts and buckeye balls). It's a paltry amount by my father's standards…but a much more relaxed atmosphere than when my Dad and I get together to bake Christmas cookies (sorry Dad, but it's true!). It was good to see Judy again - I hadn't seen her since last Christmas when we got together to bake! There were a few e-mails back and forth over the year, but I have not been good at keeping in touch (with anyone, really) in 2006. That needs to change.

Sunday I got up early and went to mass with Mom (and family). Afterwards, we were looking at the giving tree (or whatever they call that - where you pick a name off of the tree and bring in a gift for a needy child/adult/social service organization) and noticed that there were an awful lot of names still on the tree. And that was the last day to bring in the gifts…So, Mom and I decided we would get generous and picked about 7 or 8 of the tags off the tree, with a plan to shop and bring the gifts back to the church before the 5:30pm mass let out.

I was lucky enough to get a nap in on Sunday, which is a rarity. We got home from church at about 8am, which is earlier than I usually can drag myself out of bed. So, a nap was welcome. After getting up and grabbing a quick little lunch, Mom and I decorated the gingerbread cookies. They came out cute. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera with me to her house, so I don't have any pictures.

After that we went on a shopping spree, with some $$ kicked in by my stepfather and stepbrother for the giving tree presents. We picked up quite a few things and then packaged them up out in the parking lot. It got pretty cold out there after the sun went down, and I had left my jacket in my car, because I hadn't needed it earlier. So, instead of running across the parking lot to my car to get my coat, I shivered at the open back of mother's Jeep and taped tags onto the individual gifts. (Mom was running back to the church to drop them off, and I was heading home directly from there.) I wonder if that had anything to do with this cold I seem to be getting.

While Mom and I were sorting and packaging the items, a car pulled up behind us with 2 young women in it. The driver caught our attention and told us she and her sister were away from their home in Modesto and her sister is a sugar diabetic (her words) and didn't bring any food with her, and they had no money. I was torn. On the one hand, my charitable self wants to offer them some food. On the other hand, my cynical side thinks it sounds like a scam, and that if her sister is a diabetic, she should always be prepared (and don't they have a debit card or a checkbook?). So, I wimped out and let my mother handle it. She told them to turn around and go back into Target (which was directly behind us) because they are known to help people out in that type of situation (I hadn't been aware of that, if it's true, but it never hurts to ask them). Then the car drives away and leaves the shopping center completely, confirming my cynical view of their speil as a scam. I hate that people do that. I would prefer to be surprised by people's sincerity…

Now, back to wrapping and writing (Christmas cards, that is).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Festive Frenzy

I can't write much tonight, but thought maybe I'd check in for a few. I've been crazy busy at work this week, staying late each night except for tonight. I realized a few days ago, thanks in part to my friend Caitlin's new blog (I'd link, but I haven't gotten her permission yet and I don't want to make assumptions), that Christmas is the weekend after next. How did it creep up so fast? I haven't wrapped a single gift (other than the one that went to my secret pal) or sent a single card! I feel like such a slacker.

But, today was the company Christmas party, when they treat us all to a catered late lunch and entertainment by the cheesiest dj on Earth. After the party, we all get to go home. So, I got out around 3pm, and was finally able to do some real Christmas shopping. I had a lot done already from before and immediately after Thanksgiving, but still had some people on my list to take care of. I think I finally made some good progress today. I think the only one I have nothing for is my youngest step-brother. And I had to stop myself from buying more for Gino (so easy! But I did pick up a plush Star-Bellied Sneetch for him at Kohl's - how could I pass it up for only $5? Too bad they didn't have the reindeer dog from the Grinch though.)

So, how come I work late, get home at 8pm and have no energy or motivation to do anything? But, I work half a day, overeat over-rated free food, socialize with co-workers, and I can go home, shop for three hours and get home at the same time as usual with motivation to write up some Christmas cards? (I didn't get far on that score though - had to jump online and pay some bills. Then I got distracted.) Go figure.

Well, I'd better go now. I'm headed to my mother's this weekend to bake cookies with her and some family friends. We did it last year too. It's fun - and fattening - all at the same time!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Girl in the Bubble?

I really think I'm too cynical for this one to be correct... I just might have to take it again. (To take this one, click on the link in the pink section, and from the website that comes up, click on "extras" and then the quiz link.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Shameless Plug

This weekend I'm driving back up to my Dad's house to go to the open house where he works. My father and stepmother have rather unconventional jobs. They are basically elephant-keepers. Yep, no fooling. But they don't work in zoo or circus...much much different!

They both work for PAWS - That's Performing Animal Welfare Society. It's an animal sanctuary where "abandoned or abused performing animals and victims of the exotic animal trade can live in peace and contentment." I'm sure I can't do it justice with any description I could muster up, so I lifted the following from their site.
"Founded by former Hollywood animal trainer and author, Pat Derby, and partner, Ed Stewart, PAWS maintains 3 sanctuaries for captive wildlife -- 30 acres in Galt, CA, the 100-acre Amanda Blake Wildlife Refuge in Herald, California and ARK2000, 2300 acres of beautiful natural habitat in San Andreas, CA.PAWS is internationally recognized as a leader in animal welfare -- dedicated to the rescue of performing and exotic animals from cruel confinement and performances of pain. Among our greatest concerns are the treatment of animals in traveling shows, animal acts, television and movies, as well as the problem of captive breeding, inadequate standards for captive wildlife and the exotic animal trade."

Dad and my stepmother work at ARK2000, with the elephants, and both of my brothers have worked there previously. There is also a tiger facility at that location, with another staff. Anyway, I haven't ever been up there when the elephants were up by the barns (which are massively huge!), so the open house should be fun. My friend Kristin is coming up too, and this will be the first time that she has seen my baby brother.

Another plan for tomorrow - secret santa exchange at work, then the holiday luncheon for our department. The boss is letting us go home early afterwards. It's not going to be a very productive day. (I'm okay with that.) And since I'm getting out early, I am going to be having an exciting afternoon. Yep, I'm going to sit at the Chevy dealership and wait for a tow-truck to show up to tow the dead car over to my step-father's shop. I have to be there when the tow truck comes. At least I've got a book to read - who knows how long I'll have to wait for a truck to show up? And after that, I'm heading straight to my Dad's. I'm hoping I still miss rush hour...(I hope for a lot, don't I?)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

'Tis the Season

I ran to Target today at lunch to shop for the gift exchange and pick up some other things (including a cheap watch, since mine died and I'm too lazy to get the battery replaced). I am looking for a crossword puzzle book or something like that at the checkstands, since there weren't any over in the book section (a ton of So Duko books though, one of which I did snag for the secret santa recipient). Since I couldn't find any, I ambled up to the nearest checkstand, not paying much attention, since all of the lines seemed to have about the same number of people in them, around 2 ahead of me. Not too bad, right?

This woman comes up behind me and knocks her shopping basket into my elbow, as she says to her 2 kids, "'tis the season for rude shoppers," in a very sarcastic tone. I'm standing there wondering if she's referring to herself, as she just whacked me in the arm and didn't even apologize. Then she proceeds to say, "I guess it doesn't matter who sees the line first, just if you get there faster." Also sarcastically muttered. One of her kids whispered, "Mom, she heard you. She heard and looked at you." The mother replied, "Good. People like that need to know they've been noticed."

I couldn't believe my ears. And you know that kid had to have been mortified by her mother's muttering rant. I would have been. And I kind of wanted to turn around and smack her...I mean...tell her that, yeah, it pretty much is whoever gets there first. I didn't see the whole scenario happen (and part of me was insecure, thinking that maybe I did it unintentionally while I hopped on line without paying attention), but really, I doubt the other woman was standing there waiting to see which line this obnoxious woman was looking at so that she could rush to beat her to it. There weren't that many people waiting in the first place!

By now the line had moved up a person, so I placed my basket on the conveyor belt. Psycho mom behind me tells her daughter to stop standing in front of her (not in a nice manner) and accuses the daughter of being the reason that people cut in front of them in line. Now, the girl wasn't really in front of her mother at all. She was slightly ahead, but to the side, and the woman could easily have placed her purchases on the counter. Talk about finding a scapegoat. While I'm paying for my goods, the woman proceeds to berate her son for placing an item on top of something she had put down already. I guess he wanted to buy something and she said no, and he was begging her to take it out of his allowance, but hadn't checked to see how much it was (this part I can see any mom putting their foot down for, but she was just so snippy/snotty about it).

Now, it may sound like the woman was being pretty awful, which I thought she was, but I have seen worse. I don't want to blow it out of proportion or anything - I wouldn't call it abusive. Just nasty. And all I could think as I left the store was that those poor kids are going to have the worst self-esteem if their mother treats them like such crap all the time, and in public!. (And again, I don't know how she normally treats her kids…but in this instance, they really hadn't done anything, and she was mad at someone else for something petty, which annoyed me.)

'Tis the Season indeed!

So, after that I headed to Starbucks for some much needed caffeination. The woman whose drinks were up before mine must have been doing a coffee run for the office, because she had about 7 drinks with 2 drink trays. And no pockets. She was fumbling to hold them both, plus her wallet and keys, so I offered to go across the store and get the door for her. She was grateful, and I felt good about myself. Think that was enough to counteract the nastiness of the woman in Target? It boosted my mood, anyway.

'Tis the Season, after all.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Secret Santa

Yay! I got pictures to upload - above is the tree I decorated yesterday. Luckily, it was still standing when I got home from work today (yay Gracie!).

A week or so ago, I was debating whether or not to approach my boss about maybe doing a gift exchange at work. I decided not to, because I knew that if I brought it up, it would end up being my sole responsibility, and I already have a ton of work piled up to do. Well...last Friday, after our department tree trimming party, I got an email from a couple of other co-workers asking if I thought people would be interested in a secret santa exchange. I said I thought so, and let it go...hoping that one of them would then send an e-mail out about it or something...

Well, about a half an hour later, one of the co-workers approached me and asked if I'd send the email out about it, because no one else wanted to. And since I am way to nice (doormat alert!!), I grudgingly agreed to do it. And not surprisingly, it has become my little project. Since the big boss was out sick today (which means she works from home and sends 400 more e-mails than usual), I spent way too much time convincing her that we should exchange gifts on this Friday (as she had suggested last week) and not next week (as she suggested via e-mail today) because 2 of the participants are on vacation starting next Monday. Honestly, this kind of thing should not be so difficult! Her suggestion to do the exchange came today AFTER all of the participants had picked names, so if we'd decided to do the exchange next week, at least 2 people would be out of the game.

And also, since I ended up spearheading this whole thing, I let everyone pick their names, and then chose for all the absentees who were participating, as well as for myself. So naturally, after picking names for all the absentees, I picked my own name for myself. So even if I put myself back in and re-chose for the others, I would have ended up e-mailing someone to tell them that they had to send me a gift (in secret). I ended up explaining that to Christyn, and she put the co-worker she had chosen back in the bag and took me so I wouldn't have to tell someone to buy me stuff...But, now I know who's buying for me. (Actually, I'm pretty sure Christyn will do a fine job getting something for me, since we hang out pretty often - I just hope people don't think it was fixed, since we always go to lunch together!) I somehow draw difficulty to myself?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Deck the Halls

I went to my first (non-work) Christmas party of the year last night. It was out in Discovery Bay in an area that makes me feel decidedly poor. My friends and I got there kind of early and helped the host set up (he looked absolutely frazzled when he opened the door, and when he saw who it was he let out a big sigh and said, "Oh thank God." Then he put us to work. But we were happy to do it, and I prefer having a purpose at something like that where I barely know anyone.)

Today, I cleaned out the little corner where my tree always goes, and got all the Christmas boxes out of storage. The tree is up (it's fake), the lights are on, and now I'm waiting for the cat to get curious. She did reach up and bat at a low hanging ornament (mostly there aren't any - this lower one is unbreakable), but I shooed her away and she hasn't gone near it since. We'll see how long that lasts.

I'm remember past damage done to trees by the family cats...our old cat Merlyn once climbed the tree and knocked the whole thing down. We lost a lot of ornaments that year!

I wanted to post a photo of my tree this year, but don't have the photo upload option at the, maybe later.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas Spirit

I'm am now fully immersed in the Christmas spirit. :) I can indulge myself now that Thanksgiving is over, too. Unfortunately, I was completely unable to find any of my Christmas CDs for the past 4 days (granted, I was away from home for 3 of those days). I went down to the storage unit and pulled out the Christmas decorations. The first thing I did (after searching the boxes for my elusive CDs) was hang the wreath I got on sale a year or so ago. I love this thing...

And, after calling my mother and asking her if she had moved my cds when she was up here cleaning last February, I found a bag of CDs that I'd removed from my old car a few months ago, and promptly forgotten about. So, tomorrow I will have my music! Hehe...

Speaking of Christmas music, I was suggesting some good albums to my mother tonight on the phone. It went something like this:

Me: I really like the Bare Naked Ladies Christmas album, but I'm not sure you would.

Mom: (laughter) I'm not sure I should have that case lying around the house.

Me: (laughter) It's not perverse or anything. They aren't naked on the cover. It's just some dangling balls or something.

Total Silence followed by laughing...

Me: That sounded really bad. Did I just say that to my mother?

Mom: Yes it did sound bad.

And there was more, but I've already forgotten it. Good thing my mother has a good sense of humor! (And yes, I already told her I was blogging this! We were both laughing about the whole thing.)

Now, on a completely different topic - I took this adorable picture of my little brother this weekend. Doesn't he look innocent? Ha! He's such a camera ham! 2 seconds before I took this picture, he was hurling rocks and chunks of dirt against the metal barn wall, making what had to be horrible reverberating noises for my dad and brother who were inside putting up the center roof.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Happy Late Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a happy holiday, and a few good days away from work. I was busy driving around to see Mom and then Dad. And, since I didn't have anyone to feed the cat while I was gone for 4 days, I brought the cat with me. (Mom's idea...)

So, here's what I learned about my sweet little kitty:

1) She does NOT like travelling... to the point where if she stopped yowling for more than 4 seconds, I started to wonder if she was still breathing. (Seriously - the entire way in the car.)

2) She does not get carsick or relieve herself in the carrier. (Yay! My old cat Blackie used to vomit at least once during every car trip - even short ones.)

3) Gracie does not like being closed into a small bedroom with her food and litter box. (She was fine at Mom's, where she had a good sized bedroom and access to the jack and jill bathroom. When she was alone in the bedroom at Dad's for 2 hours, she clawed a naked strip into the carpet under the door...I feel bad about that, as now Dad's carpet is pretty much ruined. And I closed her in the room because she's afraid of the dogs. Poor kitty - I think she was terrorized when she was still a stray. She's fine with people, even my 2 year old brother who is obsessed with cats, and repeatedly yells "kitty" up close to her head. But, she's terrified of other animals. Otherwise, she'd have had free reign in both houses.)

4) My sweet little kitty is morbidly obese! I guess I must overfeed her...When I got her, she was underweight, and slowly gained. I guess she didn't stop gaining...and I see her daily so I didn't really notice. I think I will cut her wet food consumption down to half a can a day instead of a full one. Dad suggested I get her weight loss formula food too. Maybe I will do a search on cat nutrition and figure out what she should be getting daily. I "free feed" her, so she always has dry food. Am I a bad cat mom?

Well, back to work tomorrow. So, that being said, I should already be in bed! (It appears that Gracie is happy to be home, messy as it is...she is sprinting across the living room and into and out of the bedrooms.)

I also changed to the Google Blogger, so I hope it doesn't screw up anything about my page.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Road Trip

I realize that I have not been posting very regularly lately. Life has been rather hectic with the car issues, the court anxiety (which is now over, and it's so good to be able to breathe again!), work and family stuff. I'm pretty sure you can all relate.

I left for my father's house last Friday night, directly after work. They were celebrating Thanksgiving early with my stepmother's family, and rolling my Dad's birthday celebration into it as well. (Dad is hitting a landmark this year. Now, Dad's birthday isn't actually until the 27th, so I'm heading out there again this weekend, and taking Monday off to be there.) Okay, so, not totally directly after work. I stopped to get gas for the car, and caffeine for the body…And I managed to finish my Grande Peppermint Mocha (with half the peppermint to cut down the sweet factor) about a half hour into my usual 2 1/2 hour drive. Unfortunately, I am afraid that my actions that night may have caused an accident… I had gone about 44.1 miles (the car has a trip meter - gotta love it!) when I saw the tail lights ahead of me. They weren't moving…and neither were the row of lights in front of them. So, I stopped safely behind the row of cars, assuming that the drawbridge was up, causing the back-up, and happy that I didn't have to go to the bathroom yet, after all that coffee.

0 miles and 20 minutes later, the mocha wanted out. And around this time I knew we'd be there for a while, as the medevac (how do you spell that?) helicopter had whizzed overhead and landed somewhere up the road. Countless cop cars had passed on the shoulder, and an emergency response vehicle or two. I said a little prayer for the accident victims, figuring it must have been pretty bad, with all the response vehicles passing by.

0 miles and 45 minutes later, I seriously considered hitting the hazards and making friends with the grasses along the side of the highway. I was having thoughts that it might be okay, since it's pitch black out there past the headlight ranges…then the other side of that thought hit - if they can't see me, I can't see anyone else who might be out there. Plus the conviction that as soon as I'm out the car door and hidden in the dark recesses of the side of the road, the accident will suddenly be clear and traffic will be flowing again…with mine being the car causing the backup problem now… Then the thought that trumped them all - I can't squat - I've never been able to do that successfully, so why would it be any different now? So…0 mi, 1hr 15 minutes later, I'm still in the car, starting to feel ill because I have to go so bad, and the 2nd FM band of my new car radio has been set with all the stations worth listening to in this no-man's land stretch of highway 12 on which I am apparently going to live out my days. My days being highly numbered, as my bladder will surely explode before we start moving again… And the guilt that this whole accident, which in reality I know I had absolutely nothing to do with, probably wouldn't have happened if I hadn't downed 16 oz of deliciously caffeinated beverage before hitting the road that night… (I'm a freak, I know.)

0.1 mile and an hour later, the medevac copter took off and flew away, leaving me to figure that if the victims are off scene, maybe the vehicles will be off to the side of the road by now and we'll start moving. My imminent fear of bladder explosion fades a tad and I start to relax a little (not too much of course - I'm still dealing with a pressing situation after all). And hey, I've gone a whole 0.1 mile in the last hour - things are looking up!

0.2 miles and an hour and 15 minutes later, the semi in front of me (which has had its hazards on for the last 20 minutes, to the point where I wasn't sure the driver was still in the vehicle anymore) started to move ahead. I put my car back into drive and have never been so happy to be moving at the breakneck speed of 10mph. Passing the tow trucks that were still blocking traffic in the other direction, I couldn't help but wonder about the condition of the victims - the one car was smashed up like an accordian, and the other one wasn't looking so great either. And I am no rubbernecker - I am always afraid that I will see something I don't want to see. Plus, the ruined cars and wreckage makes me think about my sister's accident (which of course I did not actually see), and brings back a lot of pain and sadness. I didn't check out the news later either, because I wasn't sure I wanted to know what happened. (I'm a coward.)

Anyway, I drove about 5 miles before coming to a KFC/Taco Bell, next to an ARCO, figuring one of them had to have a bathroom. Well the KFC had a sign at the door stating the lobby area (that's what they call the inside of the place?) was closed at 9pm. Of course it was 9:04…so I walked over to the ARCO, which displayed a big old sign stating there were no public restrooms. I swear I was ready to cry as I trudged back to my car. Then I saw someone walk into the KFC…the door was unlocked so I was going in! Thank God! And I have a feeling that a lot of other people that had been in that traffic jam ended up there as well, since there was no one there when I arrived, but there was a line when I left…and the restaurant wasn't even open.

After that, the rest of the ride was a breeze. Unfortunately for my father, I had left my cell phone charging on my kitchen counter at home…which I had told him earlier that day. And when I rolled into his driveway at 10:30 pm (4hrs after I left Novato), my stepmother was saying how worried he had been. I would have called if I'd had my phone… (Another cause of the accident? Yeah, yeah, I know…I am not the Earth's Axis.)

The weekend itself was good though. And the ride home was the usual 2 1/2 hours, with no problems.

Hopefully, all will be smooth sailing this weekend.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Accent on Speech

Okay, those of you who have heard me speak realize that although I've lived in CA for over half of my life, I never really lost my Buffalo, NY accent. (I don't always hear it myself, but that's okay, my co-workers and friends like to remind me.) I was thinking about this the other day when I had to take the car in and get a rental. The clerk behind the Enterprise counter looked at me and said, "You're not from here, are you? What's that accent?" He must be pretty sensitive to accents, because I really don't think mine is that strong... so we ended up chatting a bit about regional differences. Like me sounding midwestern even though I'm from NY, when people expect that all New Yorkers should sound like they're from Brooklyn. (And by the come so few people on Ugly Betty sound like they're from NYC? I can understand the people in the magazine office...but what about Betty's family?)

Anyway, all this accent related thinking led me to the following quiz. I've taken an accent quiz before, that said I spoke general American English. I think this one is more accurate.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
North Central
The South
The West
What American accent do you have?
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Thank God it's Over.

Today was my court date for the speeding ticket fiasco of 2006. I arrived at the courthouse a full half hour early. For all of you who know me at all, you know this is highly unusual! I was just so worried that I'd sleep through my alarm and miss the my body decided it would wake up an hour before the alarm was set to go off and not let me go back to sleep.

So then I had to wait outside the closed doors to the courtroom for 1/2 hour before they unlocked the room. During the wait, I met a young girl who seemed very nice and was waiting there with her mother. I figured she was contesting a speeding ticket or something...but, once the judge (who was 20 minutes late due to an accident on I-80) got in and started calling up the criminal arraignments, this sweet looking girl was up there for violation of parole! DUI charges with jail time, of which she had only served 4 days of the 6 required. I guess you really can't judge a book by it's cover!

Anyway, I was the first traffic case called, so I stepped up to the podium and calmly stated my tale of woe...The judge looked in my file and stated that she believed that I was never notified of the actual appearance date, as it was crossed out in red marker with a later date written in. I pled no contest to the speeding ticket itself (as I was attempting to pay it and attend traffic school in the first place). So, the judge lowered my total fine for the ticket to $60, dropping the collection fees as well. And I can take traffic school to get it off my record. Phew!!

Now, I can breathe again!

And after paying my fine (after the court fee, admin fee and traffic school fee, it was $119 - still saved me $379 smackers!), I walked out of the building and was met with a shocking and horrifying sight... The woman walking a few paces ahead of me was wearing what at first glance looked like a normal outfit - white cotton jacket/shirt, cropped jeans...keep it comes...FLAMINGO PINK patent leather (maybe pleather - I certainly didn't touch them!) stilleto heeled boots!! Why??? Was that why she was in court? Was she pulled in by the fashion police? (And judging by most of the other attendees in court this morning, there truly is no such thing...)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cars & Chaos

Well, here's where I recap the weekend (and apologize for not posting in a week). I'll try to keep this rather short (because I'm tired, need to hit the sack, and it's been a long weekend).

I ended up taking Friday off so that I could go car shopping with my father (he works on the weekends, but had Friday off). We met up in Folsom - he and my stepmother and baby brother were up in the area to take their boxer to a clinic (side note - the poor dog is not doing well, and he's going on chemo).

My ride up to Folsom in the Neon was bumpy and by the time I got to the restaurant where we were meeting for lunch, I did not feel well. I couldn't tell if I was carsick from the uneven ride or if I was nervous about looking at and hopefully buying a car. So, I picked at my caesar salad and made faces at Gino to get him to laugh. I did feel a lot better by the time we finished though. Dad had convinced me to look at the Hyundai dealership, since Consumer reports had good things to say about their newer stuff, and the deals were pretty excellent. I was pretty set against that idea when I first heard it, since Hyundai's have had a pretty bad rap in the past. But, I did a little research and found some reassuring materials online about quality and safety. I was still pretty convinced that we'd get there and I'd hate the cars, and we'd move on.

I was pleasantly surprised though, and really did like the Elantras, did some test drives, and ended up settling on the 2006 Elantra GT. I was the most comfortable in it, and it provides a nice smooth ride. I only hope I didn't buy too impulsively, but I would be worried about that with anything I settled on. (Believe me...I know how I am.) And the warranties are excellent. So, I hope that I'm still happy with it in a week, month, year. :)

Saturday, I was still able to meet up with Kristy, Lori and Marissa to start assembling afghan squares into actual afghans for the GrandmotherPurl Project. They were all very nice, and I'd say we had a pretty good time. (At least I enjoyed it, and was satisfied that they weren't all going to end up murdering me and stashing my body under a pile of handknits - well, I should know no knitter would do it. The handknits would get ruined!) We started by measuring and sorting the squares (piles of 8" square, piles of smaller than 8", and larger than 8"). This will make a few blankets...LOTS of squares. We narrowed it down to which ones would go in the first blanket and how they'd be arranged, and then we got to stitchin'. Here's a peek.

This is what the squares looked like (for the most part) laid out for the whole first afghan. I took this after we'd started stitching though.

There was no way we would finish, but we knew that. So, when it came time to pack it up and go our separate ways, we thought we should take some progress photos. Here's Marissa (left) and Kristy (right) trying on their handiwork. (If my sucky camera had taken the photo when I wanted it to, that afghan piece would have still been draped over Kristy's head).And here's the final shot with all of us and our completed pieces. (I counted all the squares in each of our pieces, and yes, I'm the slowest seamer! :( I was afraid of that.)

There's still a lot more to be done, so if you are involved (or wanted to be), you can still send your squares to Kristy (address on the main site for the knit-a-long) for a bit longer. I know she wants it all done before Thanksgiving though, so don't wait too long!

Saturday, after we finished with the afghan stuff, I ran by the car dealership where my lost Lumina is resting in peace for the moment and collected my personal belongings from inside. Now most of the stuff from that car is hidden in the hatchback of my new car. :) I also left a message for the technician to fax me an itemized estimate for the damage. My stepfather was wondering if he could fix it himself (or someone he knows - he has Chevy connections) and let my step-brother, who is 17, drive it. It needs a lot of work before it would be safe for a new driver... (the driver's side mirror is not functional...nor is it currently adjustable...or even truly attached really). But that technician is out until Tuesday, so I won't get it quite yet.

Then, I ran home (okay, I took the car) and grabbed the books I needed to return to the library - perused the stacks for some good reads, and headed to church afterwards. And, in case you are wondering, I did not have any zipper dilemmas this time.

Today, I headed out for lunch with some friends at Sweet Tomatoes, where we ended up sitting and chatting for almost 4 hours. It had been a little while since we'd all gotten together. Then I hung out with Kristin and her husband for a while before heading home. And then I ended up here...

Now...the weekend ends...and I can go back to work tomorrow and relax. (Yeah, relax...what is that again?) I have to go to court on Tuesday morning about that speeding ticket I got way way back in April. I'm bizarrely calm right now, but have a feeling I'll start freaking out again somewhere tomorrow afternoon...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Eulogy for a Friend

When I dropped her off this morning, I never imagined it would be our last ride together. I knew she wasn't feeling like herself over the last week, but I didn't think it would be this bad. And then I got the came late this afternoon and the news wasn't good. Tears sprang to my eyes, as the initial panic rose and I wondered where to go from here. How do you move on quickly? You have no choice in the matter. You either move on or stay stagnant and unmoving... Rooted forever in one place.

But it's hard to take the necessary steps when you have just lost a good friend. After all, she was there for me over the years, every time I needed her. True, I manipulated her as best as I could, but what can I say? I'm only human, and can be rather selfish when it comes down to it. But I tried to do what I could for her when she needed TLC. And for the most part, she treated me with the utmost in kindness and comfort. She always offered a warm respite from the cold, a dry haven in the rain, or a spot for a quick nap. She offered to give rides to my friends on late nights and accompanied us all through quite a few adventures.

Not to say we didn't have our differences here and there. Like the time earlier this year when I was trying to be responsible, but she didn't want to stop. It took an intervention, but after about a week I convinced her to get some help and the healing had begun. Then later this year, she left me stranded without a ride home in the parking lot. Granted, it was the parking lot of my apartment complex, and only a 5 minute walk for me to get home. Of course, I had to call in an expert to help us communicate the next day. But after I gave her a little extra attention, she came around.

I guess those were all warning signs, and I should have seen this coming. Especially this past week, when she kept getting hot under the collar. I was just waiting for her to blow her top. I just thought it might be prevented. I tried to give her space and time to cool off. But I have to realize that when it's time, it's time. And she and I had a good run, there's no denying that. At least I get to see her at least one more time to say goodbye...I need to pick up her personal effects, and let me tell you, that girl travelled with a lot of baggage... But all that said, I will miss her and will keep her in my memory.

In Memorium
Chevy Lumina
You shall be missed
Donations will be accepted for those generous enough to give in order to honor her memory...(j/k - okay, not really - I'm poor! Need money...okay, that's not helping.)
Does anyone have any tips for buying a car? I need all the help I can get. I don't even know where to start! (And the car overheated this morning, so I dropped it off at the dealership. Word from them is that repairs are in the neighborhood of $4,000...which is probably more than the car is worth at this point.) Makes, models? Anything...I'm desperate...(don't tell the salespeople that though)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ruff, Ruff, Meow...

You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat

You are a nice blend of cat and dog.
You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.
And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Do you see the resemblance?

I've seen this on a few blogs, and was curious enough to try it out myself...What do you think? Do you see any shared features? I see a bit of chin here, bone structure there...but some of these women are just gorgeous...and then there's me... (Why am I so down on my looks all the time?) Oh, and I had to shrink the image down a bit, so I hope it isn't distorted. Speaking of distortion, that photo of me is about 2 years old, with my hair the shortest it's ever been!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

In case anyone is interested, here's a shot of the costume I wore to work today. I was a dark angel (or, when being judged within the department theme, I was a dead borrower. Our theme was reasons that people default on mortgages).

Let me just say that I love these wings. I was eyeing them in the party store last Halloween, couldn't justify the purchase. This year I could! And everyone kept asking me if I made them myself (I probably could have, but no...I did not. I can just imagine the frenzy that would have whipped my cat into - me attempting to glue a bunch of feathers to wing forms? She would have totally been on the prowl, and I'd have been scooping feather bits out of her litter box for days.)

And here's a picture of the back (more black than the deep red on the backs of the wings). As cool as I thought the wings were, they just weren't made for an office, once the rounds of the other departments were made, they (and the cheap-y halo that fell apart quickly) came off pretty quickly.
I was happily impressed by the office's participation this year. It was pretty dead (ha!) last year, with very few departments decorating or dressing up. I guess that the market changes that have cause my particular department to be so swamped have allowed for a little extra time in other areas of the business. (While great for job security for me and my co-workers, this tends to lead to layoffs on the production side.) Anyway, one of the departments across the hall did up their area as Snakes on a Plane. Flight attendants, air traffic controllers, dust masks hanging from the ceilings and floor lighting. It was pretty creative. They also scattered plastic snakes down the hallway leading to their main door (not so great for the woman down the hall with a deathly fear of snakes! Even fake ones creep her out. I think she barricaded herself in her office all day). Let's see, we also had Pirates of the Caribbean (only they were led by Captain Mortgage) - they set up pirate themed games and were playing Pirates of the Caribbean on the projector screen in the background. I think those were the most notable two.

I got word from my father that my baby brother had a ball trick or treating tonight, and didn't get scared at anything either. He sent cute pictures of Gino in his alligator costume (only Gino was calling it a dinosaur), but they're in a weird format, so I couldn't figure out how to save them as jpegs, or I'd have posted one.

I have to say that my biggest scare of the day; however, was when I saw the Christmas themed commercial for Sears. It's not even November yet!! But then again, I've already got most of Tony's Christmas gifts already...(believe me - that is NOT normal for me.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Weekend Wrap-Up

So, in my last post I mentioned that I was going to Sacramento this weekend to attend a silent auction benefit for breast cancer... My little brother submitted 6 prints to the auction, with "metamorphosis" as the theme. (The theme was chosen by the coordinator of the event.) Tony worked really hard on this and produced some pretty awesome photos.

I wish that the "coordinator" had been a more effective planner. Hardly anyone showed up. Mostly family and friends of the coordinator and artists. (And actually, it was mostly my family and Tony's friends. I don't know that anyone from the other artist's circle came.) I think part of the problem may have been the location. It was in a back room of a church, though you couldn't tell from the address given that it was being held in a church. Once you got there, there were no signs to direct you to the correct room. (If Tony and his friends hadn't been standing outside when I got there, I wouldn't have had a clue where to go.)

So...we gather inside, and the coordinator (who had to be in her very early 20s), launched a presentation on breast cancer. It was like sitting through a health class presentation in college (or high school, as Kerri was thinking). I'll just say it involved an outdated video and posterboards with magazine cutouts propped up against the back wall (and not even used as a visual aid during the presentation). It just didn't seem very professional at all. The 2 speakers (breast cancer survivors) were fine. In fact, that was probably all that was really needed in the way of presentations. During the question & answer period, my mother, the RN and lactation consultant, was in her element, and was able to provide much better information on the issues. (I was thinking she could have run the thing herself with no problems!)

When she introduced the 2 artists, she went into this spiel about how she couldn't get a hold of the one photographer until a few weeks ago, so he had to throw his work together at the last minute and work really hard. I was kind of annoyed by that statement, as I thought it inadvertently belittled my brother's contribution, which he did put a lot of time into. Of course...and there's only a wee bit of bias here, you could really tell that Tony put a lot of himself into his work. In my opinion, he had a much better grasp of the theme (metamorphosis) and tied it into his work. He also did a much better presentation of his work as it related to the theme and breast cancer, when he introduced his work.

Unfortunately, there was only one bid on any of the artwork, and that was my mother's opening bid on one of Tony's photos. At the end of the "auction," the coordinator said she was going to put the pieces on Ebay to see if they'd bring in any money for the cause. I haven't heard anything else about that yet though, or I'd post a link. (She seemed rather flaky to me...)

Anyway, I feel kind of bad for Tony, since the auction didn't go better. Hopefully, one of these days he'll get a break!

(On a different note - Happy Halloween!)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Quick Post

This weekend I'm off to Sactown. My little brother has 6 of his photographic prints in a silent auction to benefit breast cancer research. The auction is tomorrow. I'm proud of the little guy (and if he hears me say that, he'd be annoyed that I referred to him as such...he's 25 and bigger than me). Anyway, I have high hopes for his success.

And speaking of pride, I'll leave you with this:

Your Pride Quotient: 41%

You have your proud moments, but you're also likely to be a little ashamed of them.
Don't be too hard on yourself. It's normal to want to make a stellar impression.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Comfort Food!

Today at work, as my boss was craving Taco Bell, we all got to talking about cheese. More specifically, about how we Americans seem to have an extra-special affinity for all things cheesy.

So, since that time, I had been craving some cheese myself. So I decided to make myself a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. Now, this really is newsworthy in my book, because I actually came home and turned on my stove for once... (I don't do a whole lot of cooking anymore, and I'm not totally sure this even qualifies.)

So, my dinner was 2 slices whole grain white bread (thank you Sara Lee), 2 2% milk cheese singles, some shredded Parmesan/Romano/Reggiano blend and freshly ground Italian seasonings. Pretty darned good grilled cheese if I do say so myself. (And yes, I didn't have the best guage on the heat you can tell from the photo - but it wasn't burnt.)

I also finally busted out the Trader Joe's Roasted Corn and Pepper Soup, which I bought a while ago, and hadn't tried yet. It was good, but a bit spicy. I wasn't expecting the kick. You can really taste the roasted corn though.

Anyway, that was the excitement of my day... And aren't you all just burning with jealousy over my matching china? (I do have a matching set of the pfaltzgraff dishes, and matching glasses...but I felt a little more eclectic today.)

Wait! I lied! That wasn't the full extent of today's excitement. I actually ordered my first Christmas gift of the season today. What is wrong with me??!! It's only October! (I'll tell you what's wrong with me - I can't pass up a good sale - especially not on the perfect gift for my hard-to-shop-for-zombie-obsessed brother!) of the e-mail newsletters that I subscribe to finally paid off. I should receive the items sometime next week. The hard part will be remembering that I have them once Christmas is closer. It was weird when I completed the transaction, because right now I can't even picture Christmas yet.

(And if anyone is interested, I bought the gift from this site, and have been trying to get this shirt for him for over a year! It's been sold out in his size every other time I've tried. (And I'm not too worried about him reading this blog - he never has before...) I also got him another one, but won't say which one, just on the off chance that he does pop in over here for a visit. He already knows about Zombie Donkey...I've been telling him about it for a while, and asked him for his size. The other zombie shirt on there that I liked was sold out already too.

Okay, now I'm really done here for the night. Um...Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Holy Dork-a-roo!

Yep, that's me... (Though Caitlin will argue that she's Dorkaroo, and I'm that right?) Anyway...I am afraid I may have totally embarassed myself without realizing it (until too late) this weekend. And yes, I know. It wouldn't be the first time.

So here goes... Earlier this week I got a phone message from my local library stating I had books that are overdue and must be returned. Now, I could have sworn I had taken back all of the overdue books, as I tend to be pretty conscious about that kind of thing (and if I'm late, I already know it). In fact, it had already been part of my weekend plan to take back some books and DVDs that I had due on the 21st. I checked my account status online (LOVE that feature!), and saw which book was still out. I could have sworn that I had returned that one when I took back The Maltese Falcon. I had a pretty clear visual of the 2 items on my passenger seat from the last time I'd taken items back. But, since my first instinct is to always think I am at fault (what is that about anyway?), I searched the apartment to no avail, and called my mother's house wondering if I'd left it there. But, that visual memory was so strong, I just KNEW I'd already returned it...

I headed out of the house Saturday afternoon to hit the library, returning the stuff that was due, as planned. I figured I may as well check the shelves, just in case that other book wasn't logged back into their system when I returned it (as I had thought I had done...). Lo and behold, there it was, staring up at me from the New Arrivals section. So, I took it back to the desk and told the librarian the tale. Now, realize how jaded I am from working on defaulted and fraudulent loans every day. I am always prepared for the worst, and was just waiting to be accused of lying to get out of paying the late fee. I was pleasantly surprised when the librarian looked embarassed and was all apologies, clearing my account and removing the legitimate late fee that I was offering to pay (all of $0.20, but still). I'm sure it wasn't her fault either, because I hadn't seen her there before. But, my faith in people was restored a bit, and I realized that I do worry too much about things (it's connected in mind, believe me).

So, yeah, I know, nothing to embarass me yet. Keep reading, if you're not bored to tears yet.

I go to 5:30pm mass at my church, thinking about how I've been jaded in my job, and the world isn't as cynical and negative as I tend to think. I listen to the readings, sing along with gusto (church is one of the few places I can sing in front of others without feeling self-conscious. Yep, church and the car.), shake hands during the sign of the peace. I get up and take communion, kneel in my pew to pray, and stand up for the closing hymn. Gee, that's funny, these pants feel awfully loose...OH MY GOD!!! MY ZIPPER IS COMPLETELY UNDONE!! How long has it been this way? Was I running around the library in a state of undress?? Is that why the librarian looked embarassed? Was it down all through mass, while I shook hands with strangers, meeting their eyes with mine? Am I the crazy lady who exposes herself IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD?? Yes, all those thoughts went careening around my mind while I tried to inconspicuously zip up... Luckily, my shirt hem reached to about the starting point of the zipper, but I still don't know if underclothes were visible.

I am so ashamed...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

UCLA Alums Should Know Better

So…I was even later to work today than usual…and now I must rant. (I meant to write and post this earlier in the day, but it just didn't happen.)

I woke up on time this morning, and proceded to hit the snooze button until later than my usual panic and get out of bed time. So, I missed my window of low-traffic opportunity. I knew I was going to be late, but was hoping that by some fluke, today would be different and there wouldn't be any slow-downs on Highway 37. All was fine until right before the 2 lanes merged into one, where it is usually a bit slow, because people can't seem to grasp the zipper fashion concept. (It's a miracle they can dress themselves, let alone operate heavy machinery!)

So, we're slow, but moving for a bit…then we all stop completely…for absolutely no reason whatsoever. There's no accident, there's no one stopped on the side of the road. The only different thing about this morning was that there was a colorful hot-air balloon hovering above highway 120. There was no reason that this should have had any effect on traffic, and yet it's the only explanation I can find.

At least I had something interesting to glance at while waiting for traffic to move. Not the guy in front of me though, driving the giant white Oldsmobile with the UCLA alumni sticker on it (I'll bet THEY'RE proud!), who whipped out his newspaper and proceeded to settle back and read behind the wheel…and continued to do so AFTER WE STARTED MOVING AGAIN! Crazy, I tell you. I watched the avid news hound weave from the center of the single lane over to the rumble strip, only to quickly correct the wheel and drift back into place - this happened several times before he seemed to have stopped reading. Now, if any of you have ever driven on Highway 37, you know that there is only about 2 feet of pavement (or so) after that rumble strip dividing you and your car from some nasty marsh-land goo off the side of the road. Seriously, I was just waiting for this guy to go over the side - he was close a few times.

Now, this was really irritating me to begin with, as in my opinion, this man should have his license revoked for being an irresponsible, unsafe driver. What was also killing me was that if I hit this guy, I'D end up at fault, as the one doing the rear-ending. Even though he was not paying attention to the road. I was quite tense, preparing to slam my brakes down if need be. It was irritating enough that I had to mention him to my boss when I called in telling her I was stuck on the highway.

Okay…I think I'm done ranting now…(I know I've had more heated rants…but I've been sitting on this one all day and am not as fired up about it as I was earlier.)

Time to go home and hope that I do not end up behind that same guy again. Ever.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Raise the Roof

This past weekend, I went out to San Andreas to help my father build a barn. Yep, you read that right, to build a barn.

The shot on the left is about halfway through Saturday's progress (after we'd realized that the panels were upside down and had to take half of the structure apart and reconfigure...).

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not exactly a fan of exercise, let alone hard labor. But, my father asked for my help, so being the dutiful daughter that I am (translation : doormat), I agreed to come out and work. So, this weekend was spent hauling these giant steel panels around (admittedly, my Dad and brothers did do the bulk of the heavy lifting, but I did help haul a few around) and fastening them together. Still more strenuous activity than I am used to.

My father's goal was to get the whole steel structure up and together this weekend. The hardest part was the roof - which Dad finally decided to try hoisting up over the base using the tractor. It worked like a charm! (Beats having to have 3 people support the panel while walking up ladders, all the while jockeying it into position and trying not to fall to their deaths...)

Above are two shots of the structure after we finished up on Sunday. And after all my worries (or expectations, rather) of injuring myself somehow on the construction do you suppose I hurt myself this weekend? Well...let me tell you a little story... Saturday night, after we finished up as much as we could before dark, we returned to my father's house where I blissfuly showered (don't think I've ever been so dirty before in my life!). We started watching Coach Carter in the living room, and I filled my dinner plate and headed back in there. My fork dropped off of the plate on my way, so I put down my food and removed the fork from the dog's mouth (okay, she was only licking it - it wasn't in her mouth), and walked into the kitchen to get a clean one. I then slipped on the tiled floor, my foot flying out from under me, and fell hard on my derriere, right on the bone at an angle...also smacking my elbow against the corner of the cabinet, before smacking it on the tile too, along with my outer wrist... I sat there stunned for a minute (or less), and then the pain hit. It hurt so bad that I almost couldn't breathe. But, as far as I know, nothing is broken. But, I do have a slowly emerging bruise on my elbow and tushie. It's just like me to put up a barn without hurting myself, only to cause injury at home. So, although my upper back/shoulders and arms are sore from the heavy lifting and from ratcheting the nuts and bolts tightly, I'm surprised that my lower back isn't acting up. (I'm not complaining about that part. And my left wrist and butt hurt from the fall. I'm a klutz!)

And it's weird for me to think that as nice as the weather was in San Andreas (sunny and slightly cool - perfect for working outside), my Aunt was housebound in Buffalo without power since late Thursday. I finally talked to her today, and she said she's been bundled up in at least 3 layers, and has put up blankets in the doorways to the dining room and hallway, living only in the kitchen and family room where it's slightly warmer. All of the lit candles help heat it up a bit, and she's been out in the yard and neighborhood picking up fallen branches and running the snowblower. She can see her breath in the other rooms of the house, when she's in them. Her street still is out of power today, though most of her friends have their electricity back (she did go over to a friend's house to do a load of laundry). (Sunday!! That's a long time without power, but she says she's getting used to it. She does have a generator that she borrowed.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I had a really busy weekend, helping my father put up a barn (really), so I'm pretty wiped out...and because of that, I'm posting this quiz. (More on the barn raising later.)

I liked these results.

You Are Fall!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Just Another Random Wednesday

It's been a long week. Yes, I know it's only Wednesday. The stress level at work continues at a steady high, with vast amounts of work to do and ever shrinking amounts of time in which to do it. There seems to be a lot more data entry lately...which makes me feel like I'm not getting to the meat of my job, as I'm not reviewing as many loans... And there are plenty waiting for my prying eyes. At these times (mega-busy, too much to do) I really relish every tiny non-work-related e-mail that comes in. My life is so full (ha!). (That was a thinly veiled hint for all my friends who read this - keep the idle prattle coming! It keeps me sane-ish! Heck, I'll even take your forwards, as long as they don't suck.)

Sadly, I'm sure anyone who looks at me twice (or even once) can tell I've been stressed. I have totally broken out over my whole forehead, and my cheeks/chin. I feel like I look like a 15 year old. And the scary part is, when I was 15, I never had terrible breakouts, though I did breakout here and there. In any case, it's annoying. But, I know acne doesn't necessarily go away after puberty. I remember about 10 years (or more) ago, my mother complaining that she had thought she'd stop getting zits before she hit 40. (Okay, I'm paraphrasing there.)

Anyway, speaking of being 15, I have been thinking lately about how much I've grown and changed since high school (and jr. high, and elementary school). Yet, with all that change, sometimes I still feel like that insecure little girl. I don't think I radiate insecurity anymore, like I have a feeling I did back in my younger days, when I was quiet and subdued and pretty much convinced that no one knew who I was (my current friends can't believe I was like that, but I was. Ask my mom!). And, I do a lot more positive self-talk now than I used to. But, even now, when I feel like I've been left out of something, I go right back to that withdrawn teen who thinks she's not liked or wanted. And as much as I tell myself not to take things personally, it's difficult to do. I'm not sure I really have a point there, except that it's funny how our personas change over time, but our core is pretty constant.

And obviously, I'm going on and on again, and should really get myself off to bed. I'm already bound to be late tomorrow. It's inevitable, since I left my cell phone plugged in under my desk at work again. So, I'd better do my best to be on time, because Murphy's Law is definitely against me. (Darn you Murphy! And your stinkin' law, too!!)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Flight of Fancy

You are Superman.

You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Your Results:

Superman - 75%

Spider-Man - 65%

Robin - 65%

Supergirl - 55%

Wonder Woman - 55%

The Flash - 50%

Green Lantern - 45%

Iron Man - 45%

Batman - 40%

Catwoman - 35%

Hulk - 30%

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cakes and Crafts

Thursday night I did something that I don't have much time to do anymore - I baked! Friday was my friend Christyn's birthday, and I had volunteered to bring a cake in to work. So, I whipped this little puppy up for her (side note - I do not condone the whipping of puppies). It's a taffy apple cake, with a bit of caramel sauce drizzled over the top. I actually got the recipe online (follow link above) about 6 years ago, when I made it for a potluck at my last job. I remembered it being a nice dense sweet cake.

It got a lot of compliments on Friday when gathered to publicly embarass Christyn in the company cafe. (Christyn - the singing was NOT my idea!!!) And apparently, people were impressed by the bundt pan shape. Someone in the hall whispered that it looked like a temple as we passed by, according to one of my coworkers.

Anyway, I actually thought it was a bit too sweet. I don't remember it being that sweet, so I wonder if this means that I've been watching my diet for so long that my tastes are changing. (Though I have by no means stopped eating sweets!) I do think it could use a few more apples in it - it called for 1 1/2 C chopped apple, and it makes enough batter to fill a 10" Bundt pan to the top edge (and yes, it raises way over the top of the pan as it bakes), so I don't know how you could add apples without having to use additional pans...

Because I wasn't too impressed with the cake this time, I wondered it everyone was just saying they liked it to be nice. Why do I always doubt myself?

I also made a scarf for Christyn using a simple mesh pattern in a bulky yarn. I can't remember the yarn type now (threw the labels out when I finished), but I think it was a Patons yarn. I know that it was an acrylic/alpaca/polyester blend. And very silky to the touch. I really like how this one turned out. (Yes, I'm patting myself on the back, just a little. Someone's got to do it!)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Good Old Days

My mother's comment to my last post had me reminiscing about my childhood Halloween Memories. Here's part of what she had to say, for those of you who didn't catch it:

"And what happened to ghost and pirate costumes??? (the first Halloween costume I remember having was a nurse...) I like Halloween because I like to see all the little kids dressed up and trying to say "trick or treat",and the parents trying to get them to be polite and say thank you. As a child we used to go out two days in a row with different costumes on, and get homemade popcorn balls from our land lady - such fond memories. Every one would be excited and that is probably why I think Halloween is just plain fun!"

Well, that got me thinking that my Halloweens must not have been a whole lot different from those of my mother. (Except I don't think I ever dressed up as a nurse.) When we all still lived in NY, my family would all drive out to Grandma's house (my mother's parents lived about 15 minutes away from us) in West Seneca, where they trick-or-treated on the night before Halloween. They called it Beggar's Night. My youngest aunt would be recruited to take us 4 kids around the neighborhood (she was in her early 20's and was also always a fan of the holiday anyway).

Grandma's neighbor had a popcorn machine in her garage and gave out little baggies to all the kids. She would dress her dog up in costumes (before everyone was doing it, a la Paris Hilton), and no one was ever worried about possible popcorn contamination. My own grandmother would stretch fake spiderwebs across the front doorway and scatter those orange and black fake spider rings in it. She'd also toss a few in her blond hair, and I remember the neighborhood kids referring to her as "the spider lady." (Only at Halloween, of course.) I don't remember Grandpa being too involved in the Halloween celebration. I think he was probably in the living room watching baseball...Mom?

Then, on Halloween night, we'd dress up all over again and trick-or-treat around our own neighborhood. Now, I do remember trick-or-treating in the rain, and wearing our costumes over heavy coats and boots. I think it even snowed one year, but I'll let my mother confirm/deny that one. I do think we always had fun though.

Each night, after coming in with our full bags of candy (we usually just used paper grocery bags that we had decorated), we kids would sit in a circle on the family room floor and dump out our stashes, trading with each other (I always hated Charleston Chews and Bit-O-Honey and would trade them for anything). I remember always saving my favorites for last, snacking on the just okay stuff here and there until inevitably, sometime around Easter, I'd find a paper sack of my favorites in my hiding spot (had to keep the candy safe - my sister was not above snagging others' treats), where I'd forgotten about it completely.

Back then, mid '80s, the hot costume was to dress like a punk. I remember at least one year when my aunt and sister both did just that. Not sure if there's any photographic evidence though... I was a witch (nothing like the photo in the last post though) a few times, simply because I think I could never make up my mind about what to be. That, and we always had a good supply of black graduation robes in the closet, which always made for good costume garb. There were some other creative costumes in the family too - my father created a Ghostbusters costume for my sister (vacuum hoses, cardboard box, hardhat, and lots of silver spraypaint), my mom made a lion costume (I know there's a blackmail-worthy photo of my brother Joe in that one) and a Todd (from Fox & the Hound) costume.

Of course, now you don't hear much about parent's making costumes for the kids, or even letting them out in the neighborhood to go door-to-door. I wonder if it's as much fun for kids now as it was for us. Trick-or-treating in the mall, though safer, just doesn't sound as much fun to me.

Now...Mom? Any photos you need to share? (Dagny is demanding them. Yeah, I'll blame it on her!)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy October!

Now that it's finally October, it is starting to feel rather fall-like out here in California. (Or as close to fall as it tends to get here.) It's been chilly and overcast for the past few days, and I actually broke down and pulled out the cozy flannel pj's. (Part of why I love winter! Best jammy weather!)

Anyway, Halloween is just around the corner, and I don't have any plans yet. We haven't figured out what (if anything) our department is doing at work this year (we've done some pretty good interactive themes over the last few years). So, to help me with ideas (but mostly to waste time online), I took the following quiz

What Should Your Halloween Costume Be?

Your costume is a witch cosume!
Take this quiz!


Make A Quiz More Quizzes Grab Code

Okay, so I sort of cheated...I didn't like the first 3 answers I got for this (all of which were the same - slutty skank with batwing gloves...not me at all), so I changed my answers to alternates until I got something else slightly more me. Yeah, I can be a little dark and twisted...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What's Your Story Morning Glory?

Remember that morning glory I replanted back in July? At the time, it was 2 straggly looking vines. For good measure (and because I was afraid I'd probably ripped out too much of the existing root system of the original vines), I had added some additional seeds from the original packet (remember, this was a $1 Target grow kit).

Well, when I replanted, I had used some leftover Schultz Potting Soil Plus that had been sitting outside on my balcony for probably 2 years (since my last failed attempt at growing something). The top of the bag wasn't fully sealed anymore, so I figured that any fertilizer had probably leached out from the rain over the years. Apparently not. The additional seeds I added sprouted up amazingly fast and were thriving better than the 2 vines I'd replanted in the first place. I was impressed.

Anyway, I have still managed, in typical Tami fashion, to conveniently "forget" the plant existed here and there...even though it has a hard to miss spot on my kitchen table and I pass it at least twice every day. Due to this (or my total lack of growing skills), there are some dry dead looking bits that I didn't want to photograph for posting. I have inspected the plant, and was going to remove the twiggy bits, but it looks like the thriving vines are attached to it. (How can that be?)

Anyway, the thriving bits are suddenly budding all over the place. I'm excited by this (it doesn't take much, does it?) The shot above is a picture of a few buds taken Friday night (when I actually remembered to water the plant, and noticed the darling buds of...September).

The next picture is the larger bud as of this afternoon. It's a really deep fuschia color, and looks like it's going to be really pretty. I didn't think morning glories came in that color. I thought they were all blue with white in the centers. But, what do I know? (Oh, and I couldn't get any good shots of the purpley part.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quizzes Post Quickly

I snagged this one from Dagny's site. It was fun...I'm curious to see how other people score (I'm so nosy...must be that 36%)

You Are 64% Grown Up, 36% Kid

Congratulations, you are definitely quite emotionally mature.
Although you have your moments of moodiness, you're usually stable and level headed.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Weekend Worker

This was a busy weekend. Some fun...some stress...

Due to the really heavy workload we've had recently at work, I decided to go in for a few hours on Saturday. Yes Christyn, I know. I am certifiably insane. But, I did get some pressing tasks finished. A bit less for me to stress about when I got in this morning. (Don't worry, there was still plenty to stress over.)

After finishing up at work, I drove up to Christyn's and we headed out to dinner. I love The Olive Garden, but don't they always have the longest wait time? After that, we rented a few movies, and had our co-worker and her sister come by. We ended up watching Date Movie, which had some good laughs, but was really pretty mindless.

Sunday was laundry day. I swear that the next place I live will have a washer/dryer in it!! I walked down to the mailboxes to get the mail I had been neglecting for the past 3 days. And guess what was waiting for me there...

Go ahead...


NOPE! You're wrong. It was a notice from the collection agency stating that my failure to respond to their previous notice (as ranted about here) had resulted in a judgment being placed against me. Even though I really had responded within the required timeframe. In person. At the court. Within the 10 day period. So, I immediately called the collection agency, though I fully expected to get a recording telling me to call back during office hours. Surprisingly enough, they have people manning the 800 number on the weekends. They were not much help though. All she said was that she'd make a notation of what I said. Which to me sounded rather patronizing. And after getting off the phone with her I was really upset and called my Mom to vent. Apparently it was really bad timing, and I actually got in a fight with my mother and hung up on her (which I think I've only ever done once before). It's okay now though, she called back, I had my say, and we are good again. She was really stressing out too and felt helpless when I called. I told her I just needed her to listen, not to actually solve anything. See - bad day...

And I called the collection agency again today (and asked specificallly for the person the court had referred me to originally, last month), to make sure they did have a record of my court date, and the fact that I responded with the specified timeframe. She was actually helpful. She said the system does show that I responded by showing up in person and setting a court date. The person that input that information had not updated the account status correctly (seems like a trend there, doesn't it?). So, while I was on the phone with her, she updated the account to put a stop to the collection process until after the court decision. And this time I took notes on our conversation, and marked the date and time of the call. I hung up and felt immediately better.

In other news, I've been getting a lot of crochet done lately. Here's a cupcake pincushion I attempted. (Didn't have any fiberfill, so used old pantyhose, cut up into small pieces, for stuffing.) My gauge was a little large, so it's slightly bigger than it should be. But, since I'm not putting it into a muffin tin or anything, I figured it didn't matter. (Oh, and I need to give props to Gloria, who's blog I found these on to begin with. Hers came out cuter though.)

Below is the 2nd square I finished for the Grandmother Purl knitalong, in the blocking process.
And, here are both squares ready for mailing. They went out Saturday, and hopefully Kristy will have them soon.
You know, I kind of like making little projects I can finish in a day. Instant gratification definitely has its benefits!