Monday, July 20, 2009

Why can't I walk?

It seems these days I can't walk in a straight line without falling down. 3 weeks ago I missed a step and fell down 3 stairs. 2 weeks ago I was walking my dog and stepped on a rock or something, and fell again. This was worse because of course it was on the street with the neighbors watching. Both times I just got some bruising, nothing serious. Last week I was pulling up a ground sheet that was under mulch, it gave way suddenly and I went flying.Again, just bruises.

This past weekend I was walking the dog on a walking path, and stepped in a hidden pipe, and went straight down again. This time I bruised, pulled and hyper flexed my knee. been hobbling around for 3 days now. Getting tired of this!

When I was a kid I lived for a year up in Labrador Canada. Cold, snowy, lots of pine trees. It was a known fact that in the winter we had a hazard that got you when you least expected it. Snow snakes. They wrap around you feet and make you slip and fall. But they were white, so you couldn't see them in the snow.

Now I know it isn't snow snakes, but I think there is something purposely tripping me. Probably Fairies. You know, if you piss them off, it can get ugly fast. Maybe if I leave a saucer of milk out for them.
Hmmmm.. better Google what placates Fairies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When did I sign up for this?

How is it a woman, upon getting in a relationship with a man, immediately become his social secretary? Where is that rule written?

Granted, I can understand it if the event is her family, or something she is involved in and he isn't. Than it makes sense that she is the coordinator. But what about his friends, his family, his events? Why is she making the calls for events he wants to do? Even when she isn't going??

For example: I have a friend, a divorced father whose daughter and ours are good friends. All of us enjoy riding horses together. For years we would get together as a group and go on trails rides, an overnight trip to the beach, etc. Now suddenly he is dating someone, (granted, a friend of mine) and she is asking me, for him, if we want to ride this weekend. Understand, she can't go, this is for him, his daughter and us.

Are his fingers broken that he can't e-mail or call us? Has he suddenly forgotten our names or phone numbers?? Also, if she wasn't around, he would have his daughter text us.

He isn't the only one. Another friend we had shared an interest with us in science fiction shows, books, etc. We would get together as a group and watch our show and order take out. Then he dated and married another mutual friend. Suddenly he drops off the radar completely because she isn't interested in science fiction, so now he doesn't join us for anything. See his social secretary didn't set it up for him.

So this is not only lame, but causes you to miss out of a lot of fun. And really annoys your friends, just so you know.

I hearby quit as social secretary..

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ice Cream Odyssey

It's Friday, after a very long week of work, rain and stress. I was sitting at lunch with a friend, looking out at the sunshine (Yay!) and eating a very unsatisfying blah lunch when we realized we both had gift cards for Cold Stone Creamery. It took us all of 5 seconds to decide to cut out lunch short, and dash out to get ice cream, after all, we had gift cards, that means it's FREE!

Of course, neither of us knew where the nearest CSC was. but we figured it was close enough to dash out in our 1/2 hour left of lunch and get back. No one would even notice, right? We dashed back up to our desks, and I looked up CRC locations on the web. There was one only 3.8 miles away, and I knew exactly where it was. Since I knew the location, I drove, which meant we took my hulking truck with no air conditioning. Not really a problem, just a quick dash down the road, up two exits on the beltway and we were there.

We head out, chatting happily, when traffic slows to a crawl. Road work right at the entrance to the beltway. Well, ok, that only added an extra 5-6 minute to the trip, right? Meanwhile we had an enjoyable time commenting on the houses, cars and clubhouse we passed. Once on the beltway, we zipped along, took our exit, and found the shopping center with the CSC.

As we are creeping along trying to find a parking space, and dodging little expensive cars 1/3 the size of my truck, we realize from the store fronts we are in a lot more expensive rent district than we thought. There was a sidewalk sale going on, and from how the drivers and people walking were acting they were giving away gold somewhere on that sidewalk.

We parked and browsed the sales on our way to ice cream. Everything was 50% off, great bargains, but 50% off of a $187 sweater is still too much for a sweater to wear to the barn or work. We finally arrive at Cold Stone Creamery, Mecca for those who truly love freshly made ice cream with decadent toppings blended in..mmmmmmm. The world was a happy place.

We walk in and the place smells like freshly made waffle cones and happiness. I give my order (since I had decided what I wanted before even leaving work) and pull out my gift card. But at that moment we got unequivocal evidence the universe hates us, the person behind the counter tells me the credit card machine is broken, and they can only accept cash. But we have gift cards we say, waving our burgundy plastic in the air as evidence. They use the same machine as credit cards. We were devastated.. we didn't bring any cash, all we had was drivers license, keys and the gift cards. (no sense advertising to the whole office we were going somewhere by bringing purses) But, we protested, we drove all the way from work to here just for ice cream! The youngling behind the counter just looked at us.

We walked back to our now hot from being in the sun truck. How would we now make it through the rest of the day? We felt like a 5 year old who had been shown a back yard full of swimming pools and popsicles who was then sent back to a desk to do math homework. Then we had to fight traffic to get back to the beltway.

As we were driving along, bemoaning our lack of ice cream (and the total lack of joy in the world right then) my friend asked did I know where a neighboring road is. Yes, I said, then she said there was another CSC on that road. We looked at each other, and decided we were already out, and half way to that road, why not. Plus, it was for FREE ice cream!

Well, traffic wasn't as smooth in this area of town, and when we get to the road, we decide we need to go right, to find the ice cream. We creep along, stop light to stop light, roasting in the sun and my no air conditioner truck, peering in each shopping center to see if that was the one. Of course neither of us was really sure where it was. after several miles and about 580 stoplights, we realize we were going the wrong way. I finally get some common sense, and call 411 on my cell phone, and contact the store for directions.

Yep, we had gone the wrong way. Some kind person finally let us make a left U-turn and we went back though all the stoplights, creeping along with about 9 million other people in cars (why aren't these people at work instead of getting between us and FREE ice cream??) Until finally, we see on our right the glorious sign of ice cream nirvana. Not being in quite the same sort of neighborhood as the last one, not only was parking easy, but fellow ice cream seekers were polite, even friendly as we went in.

Out first question was 'Is the Credit card machine working?' Yes, they assured us it was. We then proceeded to explain our journey, with all it's trials and set backs. We also explained we were determined to have our ice cream, come hell or high water. Not a problem, not only did they prepare wondrous creamy goodness, but the owner came out, and when we explained our odyssey to ice cream nirvana, he gave us coupons for free goodies for the next trip.

Joy. I had a waffle cone with coffee ice cream, chocolate swirls, Heath bar and nuts. As I was getting back in the truck, I realized I had on a white shirt. Not good, but I was determined not to waste a drop anyway. I actually got half way back to the office before I dripped on the shirt. *sigh* But one drip isn't bad, and I do have my Clorox pen.

We get back to the office just as we finish. I decide to get a last drip out of the cone, and throw away the bottom (I was going through sugar/coffee overload by now anyway). I tilt the cone up, with it's little paper sleeve still on it, and about a gallon of melted coffee and chocolate poured down my face, neck and shirt. So much for my little white top with the embroidered daisys. Now I get to spend the rest of my (short) workday sticky, with my jacket buttoned up, and on a caffeine and sugar high.

It was so worth it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Food memories

I went down to lunch today, and was presented with this:

Now this may look innocent, but it brought back disturbing memories of my childhood. Fried chicken, yummy; Mac-n-cheese, yummy; collard greens, nooooooooo!

While I grew up mostly in the south, my mother is English. So I got to the 2nd grade before being presented with collard greens as a menu item. My father was in the Air Force, and we ended up in NC where I went to a small town elementary school.

Now remember, this was back in the 60's, when there was still paddling in schools. Teachers held the power of God over students and we obeyed them without question. Practically every lunch at that school included greens. They were cheap and easy to serve, but for someone whose only experience with slimy green things was walking through cow pastures, it wasn't appealing.

My teacher had a rule, you eat everything on your plate. Period. No arguing. So I would barter my desert to whomever would eat my greens for me. No amount of threats or cajoling would convince me to eat that. It was stressful, to say the least. We had to wait until she wasn't around, and I had to be sitting near an agreeable fellow student. A couple of times I had been caught with greens left on my plate, and had been paddled. It didn't work, I still wasn't going to eat them. I wasn't normally disobedient, or defiant, but I refused to be browbeaten.

Finally my teacher caught me trading desert for greens consumption, and she was furious. After a brief bout of shouting, she told me I would sit there, until I ate the greens. The rest of my class went back to the room, and I sat there. Bells rang for recess, and I sat there. The final bell rang, other students went and got on buses, and still I sat there. No one ever came back in the cafeteria to check on me. Everyone left and the school was locked up.

Hours later, I was sitting there quietly crying when the police and my mother arrived. When I wasn't on the bus, my mother had checked the entire route, all my cousins homes, and finally called the chief of police and got the school unlocked.

I wasn't there when my mother spoke to the school board about the teacher (this wan't the first incident with her) but my class had a new teacher the next week.

I still won't eat greens. (shudder)

And now for something completely different...

Ok, there is a crisis..and it's happening in homes and offices across America. This crisis is a severe lack of..Bathroom Etiquette.

It's not like there isn't information out there..
Women's Health Magazine Bathroom Etiquette Guide
Urban Etiquette Top 5 Rules
There is even a website dedicated to educate the world on courtesy in the bathroom
The International Center for Bathroom Etiquette
Goucher College even published a tongue in cheek version for college students.

There is a lot of humor out there, but that often has a grain of truth in it.
Male Bathroom Rules
Female Restroom Etiquette

A lot of the comments are the same, wash your hands, flush the toilet, etc etc. But I have a few especially annoying habits to address.

The Bathroom, even at work, should be a haven of peace and quiet. It should be clean, and smell faintly of Lysol or Clorox. Visitors to this realm should be courteous, patient, and neater than they are at home. There should always be sufficient paper products available. Since the majority of public restrooms are separated by sex, there should NEVER be surprises on the seat in a ladies restroom!

I realize this fantasy restroom doesn't exist, but I seriously don't understand why the seat in a ladies bathroom has urine spilled all over it. Are men sneaking in to the ladies restroom? Do we have a huge number of cross dressing guys out there? I can understand not wanting to sit on the seat of a grimy gas station bathroom, or worrying about mystery germs on the seat. But since there are seat liners and plenty of toilet paper available, I don't understand why women are squatting above the toilet high enough to splash (and therefore on themselves as well..ew!). Don't even get me started on the mystery puddles on the floor. Why would you leave that for someone to step in and track all over the workplace?

Teenagers in High School talk on their cell phones in the bathroom, actually they seem to have the cellphones permanently bonded to them. But there is a vast difference between 16-18 year old kids, and professional women in business suits yakking about their personal life (or worse, WORK!) while doing their business.

If the door is closed and locked, someone is in there. You don't need to knock, The door is locked! You can't get in until that person is done. Period. Really. It's not a hard concept to grasp. This is especially true at home. If the door is closed, stay out. Unless someone is laying on the floor bleeding, you don't need to talk to the person who is trying for a moment of privacy in the bathroom. You don't need to ask if they are ok, or what they are doing, or what the plans are for the rest of the day. Yes we are ok, what we are doing is private, and the rest can wait. Guys especially need to listen to this because you really don't what to know what we are doing, trust me on that.

Ok, can we recap those rules? They really go for men or women.
1. Don't pee on the seat.
2. Clean up whatever you spill.
3. Silence is golden.
4. If the door is closed (or you see shoes under the door) wait patiently and quietly at the far side of the room until that person exits.

That's only 4, but they cover a lot. Lets all have happy bathroom experiences from now on. Oh, and appologies to gas station bathrooms, that is a stereotype which is largely untrue these days. I have been in some pristine bathrooms at gas stations, kudos!

Here is a classic e-mail that made the rounds a few years back.
1999 Survival Guide

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wherefore art thou, America?

I have to wonder, where is America these days? I don't recognize the country I live in any more. I used to live in a country where you were proud to be an American. We said the pledge of allegiance, we respected the flag, we honored our soldiers, and we believed in our government. We lived in a Christian country, founded on Christian principles. We welcomed any religion, or no religion, and we fought for the right to choose.

We believed in human rights, that any person, anywhere, has the right to live free of oppression. We believed in the two party system of checks and balances, with respectful and fair discourse. We didn't feel the need to vilify the opposing argument or the person presenting it. It was a country where journalism was an honorable profession, dedicated to presenting the truth without garnishment or opinion.

What do we have now? We have a country where schools don't say the pledge, where courts are battling to remove 'In God We Trust' from money and official documents. Our laws and Constitution are based on the Ten Commandments, but they are not allowed to be displayed. The majority of American's are Christian, yet Atheism is rapidly becoming the state religion. Why?

We used to be proud of our children, when they chose military service. Flew our flags in support, spoke of opportunities and careers. Companies fought to hire our veterans. Now instead of being respected as the elite group of representatives they are, the military is dismissed as being the last resort for the troublemaker and high school dropout. Universities try to ban recruiting, parents are appalled when their child speaks of joining up. One thing is the same though, companies still fight to hire our veterans. When you are paying for skill and knowledge, you want the best. The military is a far cry from the 'point and shoot' the liberal media would paint them as. Today's military is made up of intelligent, skilled, and disciplined men and women, who are using the best technology in the world to accomplish their goals. They use high tech equipment, complex programs, and must be able to keep a multitude of scenarios and possibilities in their minds ready for action at all times. A far cry from those of us in the 'real world' who can't find their car keys this morning, or regularly crash their e-mail program.

Freedom isn't free. We give lip service to that, but no one wants to back it up with action. There is genocide, slavery and starvation all around us, but we don't want to get involved. We don't want to hear about it, so it doesn't make the news. Just like we didn't want to hear what was happening to the Jews in Europe during WWII. Just like we didn't want to hear what happened to the Cambodians after Vietnam. We didn't want to hear about Bosnia, Rwanda. We don't want to hear about Dafur. So we don't. Unless you search the internet for alternative news sources, you won't hear about the evils in the world.

When did it become ok to personally and visciously attack other Americans because they don't agree with you? When did political cartoons become not just no longer humerous, but outright nasty? What is the purpose of that? (and why is anyone buying those cartoons?) When did it become ok for an instructor to humiliate a child in class, because he had different views (or different news sources) than the instructor? We all have the right to express our opinion, but that freedom ends where the next person's freedom begins. Everyone has a right to not be harrassed, or oppressed because of their beliefs, whatever they are.

I remember taking education classes in college, and supervisior training in the workforce. Both emphasized always being neutral when discussing any subject. Politics, religion, race, gender, all have to be spoken of with respect, and no attempt on the part of the person in authority to coerce the other person to agree with them. Isn't this the basic principle for teaching? When did that stop?

I remember in college reading the Journalist's Creed by Walter Williams, founder of the Missouri School or Journalism.
"...I believe that the journalism which succeeds the best-and best deserves success-fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent; unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power; constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of the privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance, and as far as law, an honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship, is a journalism of humanity, of and for today's world."
How did we get from that ideal, to where we are today, with sensationlist newspapers rushing to print whatever rumor they hear, and writers spouting their opinions as facts? Where newspapers publish information on goverment agents, risking their lives just for a cover story?

When did is start to be so fashionable to hate America, to hate ourselves? Why does it make people feel smugly superior to degenerate their own country? Like it proves they are smart, or enlightened because they don't like America anymore. Have we gotten so shallow?

Suddenly I feel like I am back in grade school.

Friday, March 27, 2009

So much for the Squirrel....

For a urban area we have a surprising amount of wildlife in our back yard. Squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs, chipmunks, deer, and a wide variety of birds. I am always thrilled to see on of the red tailed hawks in our yard, not only because I think birds of prey are beautiful and endangered, but because those darn squirrels keep eating my flowers. I keep hoping the hawks will take down the population a bit, but they seem to only be after the water in my bird bath.

Imagine my delight to come home to this one evening! Yes, that is a bald eagle having a squirrel for dinner! He is sitting on our telephone post, and was just gorgeous! I hope he decided to stay in our neighborhood. We have a LOT of squirrels.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Geek Art...

OK, I found this on Slippery Brick, a great techno site. I want to make this, but I HAVE to make the Starship Enterprise one now.

Mario Kart sculpture made with office supplies

Posted in Nintendo by Conner Flynn on March 15th, 2009
Why be bored at work, when you can build your own version of Mario Kart? Made using bits and pieces that you have around your desk already. Donald Kenny created this awesome little Mario sculpture. It’s right up there with the Starship Enterprise built from office supplies.

It’s made using coins, binder clips, wire, and other found office supplies. Have your buddies build some others, like Bowser, Koopa and Toad. Plus create some small turtle shells and bananas and soon you will be racing in the break room.

Awesome work of geek art. I’m telling you, there needs to be a museum of “things created from office supplies”.


Friday, March 13, 2009

SUV etiquette

Even with fuel costs being what they are, it seems the number of SUV's on the roads is increasing. I don't really have a problem with that, esp if the owner has dirt roads to travel, unplowed snow to navigate, or trailers to pull. The original SUV was designed for the rural traveler to make it to town and back.
Now it seems the SUV is a suburbanite status symbol. Nary a dirt or unplowed road to be found, but still lots of them in my neighborhood. Still not an issue with me, but if you are going to buy it, learn how to drive it! This morning I was in my car, at a merge onto a 4 lane hwy. The merge is short and traffic heavy, so you pull out, watch traffic in your side mirror, and when you see an opening, floor it! I pulled into the really short merge lane, and look behind me to see a white suv and a line of cars. And that is all I could see. The SUV had pulled out so far, I couldn't see either of the two lanes of traffic coming. The SUV driver then laid into the horn, like I was holding her up from something important. If you are going to drive an SUV, realize the size of the vehicle you are driving and be courteous!
I'm not just ragging on SUV owners, I have teenagers and 6 horses, so I also have a Suburban. It's a beast, and I am well aware of how large it is. (esp hauling a horse trailer) I can't count the number of times I have held back at a merge, or at a light, because I know the person in that Toyota or VW can't see past the monster truck beside them. (and yes, a Surburban is actually a truck, built on a truck frame, not an SUV built on a car frame. It's an important difference).
So if you live in a city townhouse, but insist you have to own that Hummer or Jeep, fine with me. But learn how to drive it!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Snow Birds

No, not people who fly to Fla in winter, actual birds in snow. Specifially the birds who gather around my bird feeder. We get a wide variety, mostly finches, and other small birds. We get the occasional woodpecker, after the nuts in the mix I use, but the king of the feeder is a Cardinal who with his mate have joined the freeloaders.

I watched them this weekend. The ground was covered in snow, and the feeder was full. The male is very bold, flying up to the feeder and scattering the smaller birds, but his mate was more timid. She just couldn't bring herself to perch on the feeder. When she tried, another bird will fly near, and she will flee to the upper branches or a nearby bush. The male tried to entice her to the feeder, but she stopped even trying. She sat on the ground, under a bush. Then the male cardinal started pulling seed out of the feeder, and scattering it on the ground. The female hopped over and started eating. That became their system. He would take over the feeder, scatter seed for her, then she would eat on the ground, near the safety of the bushes.

It was amazing to me to watch this bird realize his mates fear, and figure out a way for her to eat in safety. All of which was immensely entertaining to our cat. The whole feeder set up is outside a bay window, where her bed is. It's like the cat version of tv.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Black Friday

I wore black today. So did the majority of my female co-workers. It reminded me of another group of co-workers years ago. We were all single moms, we all had lost hope of meeting 'Mr. Right,' and we all hated with a passion the silly, pink hearts, cards and flowers commercialism of a meaningless holiday.

So every Valentine's Day (or the last work day before) we all wore black. We also were fairly evil to any unfortunate male who crossed our paths that day. We figuratively shook our fists at the heavens and screamed "Lies! It's all lies! There is no cupid! There is no holiday which makes a man mired in his jerkdom suddenly turn into Prince Charming. If we get flowers or candy on the day, it does NOT make the relationship all better." We rejected the power of Hallmark. When you are alone or unhappy, Valentine's Day is the main holiday that seems to deliberately point out your misery.

Today, I still think it's a made up commercial extravaganza, but I not longer hate the holiday. I did finally meet my Prince Charming. I will admit there is a happily every after. I actually didn't deliberatly wear black today, and none of my co-workers seem to wear it with a purpose. I wore it because it matched, and it wasn't wrinkled.

I do still reject the power of Hallmark though.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Today my Grail is BACON!

(With a nod to The Junk Drawer Blog, Kathy, we know you will try this now)

Did you know that the restaurant Founding Farmers in DC has a cocktail that comes with a bacon stirrer? Truly! Check the lunch/dinner menu.

Here is the description: Bone ‐ Created by the author of Imbibe!, David Wondrich, this savory cocktail is shaken with Knob Creek bourbon, simple syrup and a few dashes of Tabasco. Served with a bacon lollipop.

I sooo want a bacon lollipop.

And was anyone watching Fox and Friends this morning? They featured a new Bar-B-Que sensation called a 'Bacon Explosion.' (see recipe here)
This is bacon, rolled up in sausage (and any other goodies you want to throw in, peppers, etc) them wrapped in a basket weave of, you guessed it, BACON!

They were out in the street, grilling several of them, and the usual 3 commentators were joined by a horde of men, who all quickly sampled the Bacon Explosion. As they talked, I kept seeing hands going to get another piece, and neither of the two females there so much as touched it. As soon as the main commentators stopped talking, I could see all the news guys crew scurrying over to sample it.

You could actually HEAR the arteries clogging up. I have to admit, it did look good.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Christmas trees...

A rather hilarious blog mentioned the joys of a live tree (Junk Drawer, check it out!)
Here is a photo of our tree, with most of 10,000 strands of tinsel on it. (some have already migrated to other places). You can't really appreciate the shiney-ness of that much tinsel except in person.

I am an artificial tree person, after one sneezing, allergy ridden Christmas years ago, I have always had artificial trees. BUT my hubby has always stalked and killed his own tree for Christmas. Sooo for the last 4 years we have had a real tree. AND he loves tinsel..lots of it. You think needles are forever? try getting tinsel out of carpet, off drapes, etc. It gets everywhere. My brother came over, and he called when he got home to tell me he found tinsel in his house. Some how it migrated without him even knowing it.

We will also have to pick every bit of tinsel off that tree when we take it down. Tinsel isn't biodegradable. What tinsel we don't capture then, will show up in various odd places, partly because that cat loves to play with it, and stashes it in corners, but also because nothing has static cling like thin sheets of aluminum foil. We will empty the dryer, and find it stuck to all the shirts. It will somehow get to every bit of carpet in the house and weave itself in to hide. It has a life and mind of it's own. Have you ever walked by a tree with tinsel? It will lift up as you go by and wave, don't be taken in! If you get close enough, it will leap onto you, and ride you as an escape pony to the outside world.

The first year we did this, I fought the tinsel! I swept, it tangled in the broom. I vacuumed, it broke the machine. It hid in closets, to leap out at me months later. Now after 4 years, I let it roam free and don't worry about it. Plus Hardwood floors help to keep it contained a bit. In any case it's hard to worry about tinsel so much when you have muddy barn boots and hay in your living room. (notice the boots next to the tree).

No doubt this weekend we will take the tree down, and send it off for recycling. Not as much fun as what my husband used to do in his old neighborhood. Everyone there had live trees, and saved them until a suitable sat night, when the air was clear, and beer was cold, and held a big Bonfire of The Christmas Trees. The whole neighborhood then stood around the fire, talked, ate and drank beer while kids ran around in the dark playing.

Can't do that here, but I wonder if we could, would more people want real trees?