Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yet another truth.

From I Can Haz Cheeseburger.

And yes, I am guilty.

Beverage: Irish Breakfast Tea


Doesn't this just inspire confidence?

At this safety meeting, we learned that hard hats have a life span of roughly 4 years. That is, perhaps, if you use your hard hat daily. Mine gets used about a month total out of a year. Most of the time, it's in the back of the Jeep, along with my safety vest. It just makes sense to keep it in the car.

Rodney had to get a new hard hat because his old one had paint on it and that's not allowed by OSHA. So, he happily trotted off to the store. After purchasing a nice hat, he turned it over to insert the liner and saw the above inspection sticker.

Someone has a sense of humor.

Beverage: Irish Breakfast tea


Topless no more.

We are supposed to get rain tonight. That means I have to put the top up.

I have been driving around for 10 days with the top down. It's been wonderful. Even though I don't drive long distances, just the drive to the office and home with the top down has been wonderful.

It's "rained" twice in those 10 days. They were mere showers; over and done in 5 minutes. Last week, I kept a towel by the back door because the dew was pretty heavy and I had to towel off the inside and the front window.

On these days when the temperature is perfect and the sky is clear, I think about hopping into the Jeep and driving in no particular direction. In the past, I might have done that. Picked a direction, say north, and just drove for 3 hours. My neighbor does that on his motorcycle. He takes off about noon and doesn't come back until 6. The only thing you'd really stop for is water and gas.

It's the gas part that stops this idea cold. I really don't have the funds to be out wandering about. While a drive to the Mississippi River or to downstate Springfield or into Indiana or Michigan or up to Milwaukee is easily done, it takes money for the gas, money I don't have. I have to be frugal and only drive topless when I need to. Right now, anyway, my Sunday drive trips are non-existent.

Still, can't beat the pleasure of coming back from a job with the top down, the sun at my back and the wind in my hair. I've never ridden in my Jeep with the top down. I'm always the driver. Wonder if it's just as much fun for a passenger as it is for me?

Beverage: Irish Breakfast Tea



Yesterday, Rodney and I had to be at a client's offices by 7 a.m. for safety training. In theory, we will not be on their job site other than to assist in installation and removal of lock boxes. But, it has become standard practice for us now to ask about site-specific safety training.

When I started working for this company, 10.5 years ago, safety, while important, wasn't given the priority it is now. I never went through a safety training class. Now, even though we tend to come in at the beginning of a project, before anything is really done on a job, we still go through training. If you think about it, it does make good business sense. Accidents cost money, both in the health care costs, lost wages and lost time because it takes longer to get a job done. Making sure everyone is trained to do the job safely means less down time for everyone.

Given the location of the client, I had to get up at 5 and be on the road by 5:30 a.m. At this time of year, the sun isn't up. It was a gorgeous morning with the temperature hovering around 68. I've been kind of blue lately and being able to drive down a relatively empty highway at that hour with the top down was magical.

Sunrise is a magical time as the earth awakens for the day. The cats were confused about my activity at that hour and I was a bit tired, but watching the sun come up was worth it.

Beverage: Irish Breakfast tea


A total surprise

Last week, Jon and I had to go to a meeting with a client. Given the distance and the fact that they asked us to come at lunch time, we could expense lunch. Jon wanted to stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I generally don't eat there. It hasn't been an appealing place for me, lately. But, on this day, sure, why not.

Jon got a meal and I got the popcorn chicken. For those who don't go to KFC, "popcorn" chicken is small chunks of chicken, battered and deep-fried. They come out roughly the size of popcorn, hence the name. They were okay.

A lot of people go to KFC for the biscuits. I actually bought a couple to go with the meal because they are so good. I could get a side and nothing really said "Pick me". I went with the beans because it was the least objectionable. They wound up being really good.

I think I detected a hint of bacon, but the flavor was brown sugar and molasses. I was quite surprised at how good they were.

This reminded me of the time when my ex and I decided to compare what we'd pay for food from the grocery with a week's worth of eating supper out every night. For one week, every night on the way home from work, he stopped at a different fast food restaurant and bought supper. We then compared the cost between the two weeks. If I remember right, the costs were pretty close, which we found rather surprising. The problem is that you don't always pick good good from the fast food menu. I cooked meat and vegetables or fruit. We'd have milk or fruit juice, not soda. Portions were smaller than a third of a pound of beef, char broiled with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Grease was almost non-existent. It was an interesting experiment.

I wouldn't do that today. I can make smarter choices off a menu but I don't hit up the fast food places as I used to. Subway is probably now my place of choice and I've read where that isn't all it's cracked up to be with the high-fructose corn syrup making its way into their breads. The best thing is to cook to have enough left-overs. I have chicken and rice with peas for lunch today, leftover from Sunday.

Still, I think about those baked beans and I'm going to have to go to Dominicks this weekend and get a can. Cook that up with a nice smoked sausage...perfect for the last holiday of summer.

Beverage: Irish Breakfast Tea


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Completely depressing.

Jon and I had to get those small VHS tapes for the office palm-size video recorder in order to video tape a street adjacent to a client's job site. We went to Target. Nothing. OfficeMax. Nothing, although I did pick up some things we needed for the office. Jewel/Osco. Nothing.

Then we went into KMart and they had them. So we bought 6 tapes. That was fortuitious, because a later meeting with the client determined we hadn't video taped everything he wants done. Plus, if we use up these 6, we'll know where to go.

As we were walking out of the store, the cart guy says, "Only 4 months to Christmas! Get your shopping done now! Four months, to the day, until Christmas."

It's a gorgeous day today with highs around 80 and a nice breeze. I drove to the meeting and we rode topless. You could not ask for better weather for convertible driving. It was downright depressing to contemplate that in 2 months, we could have snow. I need to figure out how to get the wipers fixed.

Talk about a cold glass of water on a beautiful day. We are busier than we were last year at this time so perhaps this will bode well for the season of giving. Jingle bells? Ho-ho-ho? Nah, not now. Bah humbug!

Beverage: Water


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blessing or Luck?

Things were sparse in the Luck Journal yesterday. Unlike Friday when I filled nearly a whole page, I had to really think about what kind of "lucky" things I could put on the page.

Life is like that.

One of the highlights of Friday was going to get a polish and fries from Flips down the road. Although I left around 11:30, it seemed as if many people had the same idea and many people felt Flips was the place to go. The line snaked back into the eating area.

Flips owner takes pride in fast service. He likes people to wait no more than 3 minutes for their food. It might take longer if you have a large order, but individual orders shouldn't involve lengthy waiting. It's reasonably good food too, standard for a fast food joint.

In front on me, on this day, were three members of Glen Ellyn's Fire Department. They were well-known to the owner of Flips who called them by name. Two of them and me ordered a polish. They got their sausage with stuff on it. I just want mustard. There was some confusion about the orders and I had to wait while another polish was cooked for me. It seems one of the firemen got mine. Oh well. So I have to wait. I knew it wouldn't be long and I knew it would be good food when I did get it.

The owner of Flips apologized profusely for the delay which amounted to a whole 8.5 minutes. "Free dessert. Free chips. What would you like? And here," he said, going to the cash register. "Two dollars off your meal for having to wait."

I said it wasn't necessary, that the food was worth waiting for, but he insisted. So I took a chocolate chip cookie. He turned to a guy and said, "Cookie, both!" and turned back to me, "I'll give you chocolate chip and oatmeal. I'm so sorry." What a way to make a day!

It was the little things all day that just make it a luck filled day. My online friend, Jonathan, and I were teasing each other about whether it's luck or blessings. He prefers to call what I'm keeping my "Blessings" journal. I have fallen back into "Luck" journal all because I'm not sure I believe these are blessings in a religious sense.

Whatever they are, they are serendipitous. It's easy to fall into a pothole and feel I can't get up. That book was right in one respect. When I find the luck/blessings, actively look for them, I find many more, even on days when it feels as if there isn't any luck.

Beverage: water


Define "funny".

On the 11th, I tossed a load of wash in the machine, turned it on and let it go. When it got to the spin cycle, the most horrible noise came from the basement. I dashed down there and the machine was "walking" around its corner of the basement, rubbing up against the wash tubs. If you've never seen a washing machine move about, it's not a pleasant sight.

I recognized that the load was unbalanced so I opened the top and immediately got the very annoying beeping with the "unbalanced" light. Yes, I know it's unbalanced. I'm going to fix it. Yes, I said this. Out loud. To the washing machine.

It was just darks with several pair of pants, nothing really heavy that could, to my mind, cause an "unbalanced" reading. But, physics being what it is, I rearranged everything, closed the top and waited. The machine went into "walk mode" after about 10 seconds. There was a "clunk" this time, too. I grabbed the front of the machine and put all my weight on it. That kept the vibrations to a minimum until the spin cycle was complete. I mashed my left hand's index finger between the washer and the laundry tubs which resulted in a nice bruise.

Now, I was rather scared by this. I do not, in any way, shape or form, have the means to purchase a new washer. And removing the old one will be problematic as that means a cleaning of the section of basement where the machine sits, not that I shouldn't do that anyway, but that's beside the point. What will I do if the machine, which is, admittedly 10 years old, dies. Hand washing is something I do know how to do.

I let the washer sit until the weekend and then I moved it around and shoved it back into the corner where it belongs. I put in a small load. It was fine. I have since worked my way up to medium-size loads. This bothers me because I'm using the same amount of energy to do a medium load as a full load but I tell myself that I need to be certain it's okay. No funny noise. No walking, just clean clothes. I do a load a day but maybe that's better on my older washer than a gigantic load once a week.

This episode and the evening with Pilchard and Mija chasing a mouse got me thinking about our use of language. I thought about talking to some of my online friends about the washer. Maybe it was the belt. How would I describe what was going on? Easy. "It's making a 'funny' noise," I'd start with.

What an interesting choice of word, 'funny'. We use this to describe the car, the washer, the copier at work, the toilet, the cats when they have a mouse, you name it. But when we use 'funny' in this manner it's not definition #1 - affording light mirth and laughter; seeking or intending to amuse. There's really nothing 'funny' about the 'funny' noise you're hearing.

And yet, what would we do without such a descriptor. When I say, "The washing machine was making a 'funny' noise," we instantly know what I'm saying. I think it's even more descriptive than, "The washing machine was making a horrid noise." We all have, in our heads, an idea of what constitutes a 'funny' washing machine noise. It's generally not of the "it's gonna blow" variety. A "horrid" noise, however, instantly causes you to think the machine is in its death throes.

But back to my household. The Jeep isn't making any funny noises, nor is the washing machine, nor have the cats, knock on wood. I would like, for the foreseeable future, for my noises to be of the "ha ha" variety and not the "oh dear, that doesn't sound good".

Beverage: Dr Pepper


Friday, August 20, 2010

I like this.

Last Thursday, Jessie and I got together for dinner. We hadn't seen each other all summer so we wandered over to Stratford Square Mall and ate dinner at Red Robin. After this, we walked around the mall winding up at JC Penney where I looked at new purses.

You have seen a similar photo before. But this is what the tear has grown into. It's become rather bad. I suppose I could have taken it to a repair shop, it is a leather purse and would last longer. But my wallet has also been falling apart.

The section where my driver's license and other things go is torn.

The zipper on the coin pocket doesn't close anymore. I've had this wallet for a long, long time, but I was tired of fishing coins out of the bottom of the purse or pulling out the wallet, flopping it open and spraying coinage all over the counter. And then trying to get my driver's license out of the pocket with the tear and having it tear worse. Yeah, it's time to just get a new purse and wallet.

Every satchel was on sale, every one. I'm picky, really picky when it comes to something like this. That should be somewhat obvious because I have a purse I've had for years and I carry it everywhere. I used to change purses for the seasons and then said, "Why?" You guys have no concept. One wallet and that's got your life in it and you carry it around until, when you pull it from your pocket, only a quarter of it comes out. Then you duct tape it and use it some more. I only want one purse, one utilitarian purse, in which to put all my stuff, but it's got to be useful.

Now comes the time to empty the old and organize the new.

Yup, this is the contents of that purse. I don't carry a lot. I didn't realize how many business cards I actually had in the purse and I don't need to carry them. That blue container at the bottom middle holds my business cards and my work credit card. I don't give out that many business cards that I need to carry 200 in my purse. So, those have come to the office.

Jessie was kind of concerned that the new wallet wouldn't fit into the purse. It all fits and fits nicely. I didn't realize that there is a pocket on each side for my cell phone. As I was heading to LaCrosse on Monday afternoon, I wanted to know the time and reached for my phone. It wasn't in the pocket where I thought it was. I had a fleeting moment of panic. "How can I travel without my phone?" But I realized that I'd taken thousands of trips without a cell phone. Yes, it is a huge convenience but I used to get on just fine without that instant communication. I can do it now.

I stopped for a drink and gas. When I picked up my purse, there was the phone in the other side pocket. Eventually, I'll keep the phone on one side, but it will take a bit of getting used to where I put everything.

The purse was $14.40 and the wallet was $20. Excellent deals. I'm happy with them and I know they will give me long life. Now people can stop teasing me about the antiquated style of my purse.

Beverage: Irish Breakfast Tea


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just doing it.

I'm such a procrastinator. It's terrible really. I have such high hopes when I start something. Then I get sidetracked as one invariably does, and it languishes.

Several years ago, Carole and I created this crescent wreath with silk lilacs. It's one of my favorite door decorations. I don't remember where I saw the original suggestion but it didn't cost much to make.

Over the years, some of the flowers and leaves have broken or fallen off. I would collect these with the idea to just glue them back onto the wreath. The pile has grown rather large of late. I would say a quarter of the flowers have fallen off. There were holes in the decoration. I thought about just tossing the whole thing, but all it needs is hot glue.

Finally, I made myself go get the hot glue and take the time to fix the wreath. It took a half hour. Now it's all fixed and hanging in the basement ready for next year. It wasn't so hard, but sitting down to do it was the kicker.

Now, I'm looking at some of my other craft projects which are in various stages of completion. One of my resolutions was to finish something. Fixing the wreath doesn't qualify as finishing something.

I have this bright idea that I will make my Christmas cards this year. I used to do that and it's comparable in price to buying cards. Plus, you can say exactly what you want to say inside. In order to do this, I'm going to have to clean to find the items I need to make the cards. This is a step in the right direction because I keep meaning to clean in some spots and I never do it. Making cards, like making gifts, like fixing the wreath, is good for me to do.

I'm confident I will find stuff I forgot I had and then wonder why I still have it. Whittling down the piles. This is a very good thing to do.

Beverage: China Black Tea


It's a box, part 2.

I thought, as I was cleaning the house over the weekend, it was time to get rid of that box. Pilchard hadn't been in it for several weeks and it's taking up space.

I was cleaning the bathroom and heard a 'whump'. I go into the living room and, well, I guess the box is staying.

Beverage: China Black Tea


It's a box, part 1.

This is 100% accurate.

Beverage: China Black tea


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We missed you!

For the first time in months, a post will not have a photo. This is for reasons which will become apparent as you read on.

I just got back from a mini-business trip to LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I needed to do a home inspection in Rushford, Minnesota and stayed in LaCrosse over night. Pam fed the girls while I was gone, although "fed" isn't quite the right term. They didn't eat much of anything, probably the whole, "Is mom coming back?" feeling, if you'll allow me to anthropomorphise here.

They were very happy to see me when I walked in the door yesterday. I gathered the mail and took my bag to the bedroom to unpack and there it was, lying on the bed. A dead mouse.

Sunday evening, as my gaming was winding down, I heard a lot of activity in the living room. It seemed someone was playing. As it was close to 11 p.m., it's not that unusual, but the amount of activity seemed more than the usual "11 p.m. crazies" that every cat owner knows. I walked into the living room and Pilchard had a mouse, a very, very live mouse.

Next ensues the "not in the house, sweetie" chase. She let go of it and it scooted across the living room floor right by Mija who promptly snatched at it and took it to the bedroom. She played with it on the floor and then jumped up onto the bed with it. She dropped it and it scurried under the covers. I was able to scoop it up when it dashed under my pjs. I took it outside and dropped it in the bushes.

Was the one on the bed the same mouse? I have no idea but the point is this is the third mouse I have seen this summer. I cannot find where they are living. This bothers me. You would think that the presence of cats would deter any mouse from living in my house, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

I guess I'm going to have to invest in traps. I grew up with the classic spring-loaded mouse traps. I'm going to opt for the humane ones simply because I cleaned way too many spring-loaded ones.

It was kind of funny to watch Pilchard and Mija chasing this mouse. They did enjoy themselves. If I could track Pilchard when she goes downstairs, then that would be a help in ridding my home. But there's something about a black cat in the basement at night that doesn't lend itself to finding her. And we cat owners know, if a cat doesn't want to be found, you can't find it.

Beverage: China Black tea


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oooh lookie!

Jessie and I were headed out the door to go to dinner and something caught my eye amongst the overgrown vegetation in the front of the house. On further examination, I saw these caterpillars going to town on this milkweed plant.

Milkweeds can be considered weeds. You know of the sticky white sap the plant produces when damaged. If you've ever been dared to taste it, it's quite bitter. It's a usual dare of a farm kid. But once you do it, you'll NEVER do it again.

And, I don't know of a farm kid who doesn't, in October, run around pulling the pods off the milkweed plants, opening them up and letting them head off into a stiff breeze.
There is a waltz, a grace to the flight of the seed pods. Walt Disney used this in the original Fantasia.

I keep milkweed plants, encourage their growth, in my yard. They are the primary food source for monarch butterflies and who doesn't like those? I have seen a few flitting about the yard, not as many this year as in years past, however. The insecticide used to kill mosquitos can be deadly to monarchs, but, until recently, mosquitos haven't been a problem. My neighbors probably aren't enamored with the milkweeds but they are with the butterflies and you can't have one without the other.

Here are the seed pods on one of the plants next to the front door. I think the flowers of the milkweed are rather distinctive. You probably have never noticed. They do have a scent.

But the caterpillars at top are not monarch caterpillars. I had no idea what kind these were. It has taken a full hour of poking around on the Internet to find the answer. These caterpillars are Euchaetes egle, the Milkweed Tussock Moth. I've never heard of this moth.

In researching this, I've discovered there are four butterflies that love milkweeds. Two of them don't range this far north. Interestingly, they all look similar and I don't think, unless I really studied butterflies, I could tell them apart. A moth, however, I know what that is.

I have not seen the caterpillars since Thursday evening. I don't know where they went. I would love to see them pupate into the moths. Moths are attracted to light sources so perhaps, in a few weeks, I'll have these in the house in the evening. I usually catch them and toss them outside as they aren't a threat so killing them is silly. My girls, on the other hand, enjoy having moths to stalk. It's actually quite comical to watch.

I take this discovery as a testament to a natural landscape. I'm not going to call it overgrown, as my neighbors probably do. Harboring something I've never seen before makes me smile.

Beverage: Cranberry Grape Juice


Yup, that's long.

It's been awhile since I've posted a hair photo. Jessie and I went to dinner on Thursday and I had her take my picture. That's how long the hair currently is. At the ends, there is still the remnants of the last dye job done in February 2009. I have received compliments on the length and the look and the color. "It fits you," I've been told.

Thank you all, but I don't care for it long. It takes too much time to wash and dry and I have to pull it back to keep it out of my face when I drive with the top off or windows down.

Yet, I don't have $40+ for a hair cut. Plus, I'm not sure what style I want if I did get it cut. It seems, unless I'm willing to pay $80 or so, when I walk into a salon, the first thing out of the stylist's mouth is, "So, how do you want this cut?" I suppose that's how they are trained, to never presuppose a client doesn't know. Still, I would love to find an inexpensive salon where I can say, "You know, I don't know how I want it cut. Do you have a suggestion?" and the stylist would say, "Oh sure, I saw this cut. Tell me what you think." He or she would have a magazine of styles and would suggest something. Plus, it wouldn't cost me upwards of $100 for the cut. I used to have a stylist like that but she left the business when she became pregnant. I cut my bangs but the rest, no.

It's not been this long in 13 years and will stay this long until I get the resources to change it. As long hair is a very, very minor irritation in life, that's going to be awhile.

Beverage: Cranberry Grape Juice


Friday, August 13, 2010

Not me.

I realized, about 10 a.m. this morning, that today is a Friday the 13th. I don't suffer from triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13. In fact, I would happily stay on the 13th floor in the 13th room if it were offered. I actually embrace the number simply because people seem to shun it. I don't believe I've suffered ill because of it.

As an example, the bank problems, arguably, my absolute worst luck in the past 10 years, did not happen on the 13th. I made the deposit on the 7th and didn't discover the problem until late October. While November had a Friday the 13th last year, nothing happened to me then. In fact, I didn't even post on Friday, November 13th.

I discovered, when searching for photos of the number 13, that my Iowa Hawkeyes are ranked #13 in pre-season football polls. We are getting down to the wire here for the start of the Big 10 football season. I take that #13 ranking as a good omen.

It's been quiet in the office today. I am all caught up. I've done a lot of reading and, dare I say it, a fair bit of playing of a game, making strides in "solving" levels. I think I shall be lucky in that I'll be able to leave early, assuming the phone doesn't ring for the next 75 minutes, just as it hasn't rung for the last 75 minutes.

Although I discounted one of the tenets in that book on luck, I've come to see that it is rather true. I am "lucky" and it is about making luck where you find it. Perhaps that's also Zen, being in the moment and making the moment as good as you can. Since resuming my luck journal, I'm finding all sorts of ways that I am lucky throughout the day. It can be something as simple as being able to make a left turn out of the parking lot to onto busy Roosevelt Road and then getting into the right lane to make a right turn to go home. It can be as large as a special someone sending me a Target gift certificate. Luck really is where I find it. I just have to remind myself of that.

Superstitious? Yeah, I am. But, let's face it, I live with a black cat. She crossed my path at least 5 times in 75 minutes before work this morning. One of those times was on purpose because I had to comb her ruff to get a couple of small mats out of it. I consider myself extremely lucky to have her living with me.

Fear of the number 13? Not me. Heights however...

Beverage: Water


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why does it have to be in the middle of the week?

The Persaid Meteor Shower is going on right now. It culminates tonight.

They always come August 10th to 12th. Depending upon the orientation of the earth through the comet's tail determines whether there are a lot or a few. This is a great page on meteor showers.

As August 12th occurs this year on a Thursday and peak viewing time is after midnight, that combo doesn't lend itself for regular people watching. I have to work the next day and fractured sleep, as in sleeping from 8-12, getting up, watching meteors from 12-2, going back to bed and sleeping from 2-6, is not a good thing.

I remember one hot muggy weekend summer night, driving west to get away from the lights of the city, Carole, her dad and I wound up at a small graveyard out in the boondocks. We weren't the only people with the idea to use the graveyard as a viewpoint. There were two other cars there. We spread a blanket on the hood of the car, coated ourselves with bug spray, lay back against the windshield and just watched. We had been told it would not be the best viewing that particular year. I remember seeing 4 or 5 in the time we were there. Although it wasn't much, it was still spectacular.

If this was a Friday or Saturday night, I'd log off the game and head west to find a dark spot. There are a number of places I know where I could go and just watch. But, no. Nature has to have the shower during the week. Oh well. Next year, the 12th is on a Friday. What do you want to bet...

it rains?

Beverage: Scottish Blend tea


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Surely you've seen this by now...

It's all over the web and I've had no less than 5 friends send me a link. This company will be famous for this gaffe, which has been corrected, according to news reports.

Still, how do you mess this up? "Skool" I could perhaps see. That's phonetic. But "shcool"? It takes a team to paint these letters. No one was watching? Yes, I know the answer is, "Obviously not".

The photo is being used as an indictment of the American education system whereby non spellers are allowed to pass through unchallenged. That's not what this says to me. It says that there was no oversight as this was done. Perhaps there was a person on the team who had difficulty spelling. Dyslexics are among us. There are people who cannot write what they read without extreme difficulty. I know several people who fall into this category. They write phonetically, or at least, how it sounds to them. They are brilliant people but they can't write.

Perhaps there was a member of this painting crew with that problem. Where was the rest of the crew? The joke would be, asleep in the truck, if it's anything like a regular road crew. One guy does the work and the rest "supervise". I just think we're not getting the full extent of the story here. There is fault, to be sure, but I don't think it lies with an "unconscious" misspelling.

This book was just released. NPR had an excellent interview with the authors. (The book is going on my Christmas list.) Some of what they experienced can be traced to a failure of the education system to teach language. Some of it is laziness and "I don't care". Some of it can be attributed to our convoluted language itself. There is a rhyme about that. I can't find it but it talks about how difficult it is for a non-English speaker to learn this language. Paraphrased, the rhyme is:
The plural of house is houses but the plural of mouse is not mouses.
The plural of goose is geese but the plural of moose is not meese.
I remember, when my ex and I lived in Bloomington, Indiana while he studied for his MBA, we befriended a couple from Taiwan. He spoke very good English. She spoke little to no English. He practically begged me to take his wife around and speak the English words to her so she would learn what they were.

She was a very quick study. I hit upon the idea of spending an afternoon at the local Waldenbooks in the kids' section. We sat down on the floor and we paged through all the "ABC" books. We purchased three of them and went back to the apartment. While he cooked a phenomenal Chinese feast, she and I played Scrabble, or a modified version of Scrabble. All the tiles were turned up, I taped paper over the names of the items in the books and then made words from selected images. She was to match the name to the picture. It was somewhat frustrating at first because some of the images, she didn't know. She didn't know "apron" or that the image of a Mallard was a duck. Ducks are white where she was from. After a full afternoon and evening of laughter and conversation and great food, she thanked me profusely for helping her get started.

The month after graduation, they were gone back to Taiwan. By this time, she had learned quite a bit from watching TV and being involved in the Taiwanese student group. But she always said she was so grateful to me for taking time to teach her basic language. And to try to answer her questions so she got it without making her feel stupid.

The above photo reflects very poorly on the painting company, period. If it really is a case of someone who cannot spell, that person either needs remedial help or to not be in charge of anything other than straight lines or painting AFTER someone else who can spell has laid out the words. I still lean toward bad supervision.

I leave you with this, the best commercial about typos.

Beverage: Water


Probably going to need help.

So, long about October, maybe sooner, but October for sure, my friend Jessie is moving. She's getting rid of her mattress and box springs. They are about 4 years old.

As my mattress and box springs are, well, older than hers, when she asked if I knew anyone who would take them, I said I would. Buying new falls somewhere above repaving the driveway and below cleaning the basement in importance.

The problem is going to be transporting these from her apartment to my house.

First of all, I will need to move the old to the street and slap garbage stickers on them. I'll have to call the refuse company and see how many stickers you should put on a mattress and box springs. Then, I'll need to clean the floor thoroughly where the old sat. After that, I can go get the mattress and box springs, bring them in and set them up.

All along this, I'm going to need help in moving out, transporting and moving in. A mattress can sort of fold up, like a taco. The box springs, however...

I have considered just renting a U-Haul truck and hoping some of Jessie's friends are available to help move the pieces. If I have to do it solo, it's going to take a long time to get both pieces into the house. If I have to do it solo, you might want to show up with a camcorder to get some comical film footage.

So, if you are inclined to assist in the great mattress move, please let me know. Maybe I can afford pizza and beer for your time.

Beverage: Water


So much for being outdoors.

This was the headline on the front of the newspaper yesterday. (Yes, it's still coming but that's ending soon.) You don't have to tell anyone there are a lot of mosquitoes. All you have to do is go outside. They swarm. And it doesn't seem to matter what time of day it is, they are just everywhere.

So, I walked around the house yesterday looking for standing water. I have a pseudo birdbath on the deck. This spring, the birds were using the top of a garbage can as a bird bath. I thought that was a neat idea so I moved it to the deck, lifted it off the deck a bit so it wouldn't rot or mold under it and filled it with water. I haven't had to refill it as we have had ample rain, 16.3 inches which is double our usual rainfall.

Birds haven't used it much. A female cardinal stood beside it and chirped noisily but never got into it. Last Saturday, however, I heard a lot of splashing and saw a robin in the water. That was heartening. That means others could be enticed to use it.

The problem is that it's also attractive to mosquitoes. When I tipped it over, I noticed a lot of mosquito larvae in the water. I'm tempted to clean out the lid and refill it because I like providing water for the birds. I have not seen the detritus of raccoons in the water this year nor have they appeared to be on the deck. That means the water would stay cleaner. And all the rain is much better than tap water. But I don't like providing mosquito breeding grounds.

There was a saucer from the bottom of a pot with standing water. I tipped that over and there were millions of ants living under it. AHA! They were of the same size as the ones I have battled all summer. The thing with ants is, if you disturb their nest, they will move. I have no idea where they went, but they aren't in that location.

The other thing that has to be done is clean out my gutters. I haven't done that in 3 or 4 years and I know that's got standing water. The last time it was done, Matt and Niles came over and I paid them to help. They were college students and were grateful for the cash. As I don't have the cash, it's going to come down to me, summoning all my nerve and climbing the ladder to clear them. That's most definitely an October job, when the bugs are minimal and the leaves have fallen off the tree to the NW of the house.

But I'm debating what to do about the bird bath. I remember, eons ago, reading that a few drops of cooking oil on the top of water would keep out the mosquitoes. But that can't be good for the birds. Everything I could find simply says tip the bird bath over once a week and replace the water. I'll do that this weekend and see if I have lost any attention by not having it out and available. It takes a few months for birds to get over their normal shyness and try something. They need to know that the cat faces they might see in the window or even my face, for that matter, won't attack them.

It's about providing habitat. I noticed a woodpecker on the dead tree in the back yard. This is good.

Beverage: Chocolate Hazelnut tea


Saturday, August 7, 2010

This vexes me #7.

If you're paying attention, I have two number 2 vexes. Rather than go back and correct them, I'm just going to start with the correct number on this one.

I needed vanilla yogurt today to make the dressing for a salad. I wasn't exactly sure how much I needed but it seemed like two 6 ounce containers wasn't enough. It turned out they were plenty so I had one container of vanilla yogurt to eat for lunch today. I like that.

But you know the foil seal that you have to pry off to actually get at the yogurt? You know it kind of 'burps', for lack of a better description? Is anyone else irritated that no matter how carefully you work on prying it off, it always spits two or three small drops of yogurt onto whatever shirt you're wearing? And forget about turning the container around and opening it pointing away from you. That's an exercise in futility, at least it is for me.

I just plan that I don't eat yogurt on days when I have to go some place later, but this vexes me.

Beverage: Dr Pepper


Found 'em!

Headed off to Target and there they were. Of course I'm going to get a bag. I did not get the "large" size. I have to check these out to see if I like them. I also got a large bag of my favorite, M&M's with peanut.

So far, they are okay. I have only eaten a handful because I've been busy baking chocolate chip cookies and a blueberry cake in anticipation of Carole's friends coming over. But, as it's now 7:30, that doesn't look likely. Oh well. I can freeze the cake and the cookies in individual servings for my lunch. And yes, an "individual" serving of homemade chocolate chip cookies is, in fact, 8 of them.

I got a real kick out of this label posted on the back of the bag.
I think I have blogged about this in the past. I know that, by law, they have to list calories but come on. If you are buying a bag of M&M's with pretzel insides, you aren't really interested in what the serving size it. Plus, a "serving" is a handful of M&M's. Who eats a handful of M&M's and that's it?

At least I found them and I had a coupon for a $1.00 off the bag. That's a good way to try these.

Beverage: Dr Pepper


Merci. Danke. Grazie, Dank u. Gracias. Thank you.

In any language, I am overwhelmed.

It started earlier in the week when I received a card from Patt. She sent the gift card shown to the right. I've never met her; I really should rectify that; but we've known each other 25 years. We "met" when she wrote an article for a railroad historical publication I was editing at the time. The town where she lived preserved their railroad depot after the trains pulled up and left and this effort was definitely of interest to the readers of the magazine. She enclosed a note that she wished we could have lunch together when I used the card. My sentiments exactly.

There is a Subway near the house. They opened in what used to me a neighborhood pharmacy. They sent, this week, the flyer advertising their one-year anniversary. Carole is in town for Pete's wedding today. LUNCH! We both got foot longs and a beverage and the total cost was $9.49. I never order a foot long for lunch because I can't eat the whole thing and it seems to get soggy by the end of the day. As we were eating lunch around 2, a foot long seemed appropriate. I wasn't hungry again until around 9, when I made popcorn.

Carole took her car to my mechanic for an oil change. They were busy but they fit her in. She used to go there when she lived here so they wanted to hear about her travels. I had one of their frequent oil change cards which gets you $25 off the price. That usually means their full service oil change is $6. Gee, I just had my oil change a week ago which filled up my card. The owner said, "No charge. You just dropped close to $700 on repairs. An oil change is nothing." They found a very small leak in something in the front but it's nothing that can't be addressed when she gets back to Connecticut.

We go home after she stopped at the office and there is a letter. I thought the handwriting on the front might look familiar, but not really. I open it and here is a Target gift card. My mysterious benefactor has outdone him or herself this time. In purple ink on the back it says, "From someone who has been there".

I don't know who you are and I understand that's probably for the best. I would be seeking ways to repay your kindness in kind and I can't, at least right now. The best I can do is be wise in the use of what you have given me. I am, however, going to get M&M's with part of this. I'm told the new pretzel ones are incredible and I must try them.

Oh! Target sells beer! Rational side of me says, "Beer is NOT a necessity right now. Sheesh."

So there are three wonderful entries in my luck journal. I think about some way to pay this forward, to share this with my friends who are down on their luck. Life is good and fun and I'm content with what I have. Plus, "I get by with a little help from my friends."

Oh yeah.

Beverage: Scottish Blend tea


Friday, August 6, 2010

Darn. Missed it!

I have this ritual at night before bed. I log off the game, clean out my email and make one last swing through ICanHazCheeseburger to get my fix of ridiculously captioned cat photos.

Last night, there was a post which announced it was National Beer Day. How could I have missed this? It was probably good, however, as I only have one beer and we weren't raiding and there weren't very many people on. I'll save my beer for the weekend.

It was also National Underwear Day but I am not posting any graphics about that.

Beverage: English Breakfast tea


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Helps the writing process.

It's very, very quiet in the office today. I have taken, at 11:00 a.m., exactly three phone calls and the second one was a wrong number. There is no one else here and it's going to be quiet for the next 3 days.

It's perfect for writing.

I worked yesterday on the ending to the World of Warcraft story I've been working on for almost a full year, with 6 months in the middle when it didn't seem very important. I'm up to Chapter 14 but the ending called to me and I finished the final battle chapter last night and the last chapter of the novel this morning. Now, I just need to connect Chapter 14 with these two.

I realized yesterday, that I tend to work much better if I have something to munch on. It needs to be of the "finger food" variety. I always have tea or juice or water or soda, but I kept looking yesterday for something to nibble and I don't have anything in my office desk. There are plusses to that as I don't spend my days idly nibbling on M&Ms.

Back over Memorial Day, the last time I did a huge swing through the grocery, I chanced upon these Jelly Bellies. The idea of soda flavored beans was appealing so I bought a bag. It lay unopened on the kitchen table for a month and a half and then I decided to try them. I had difficulty opening the top and when I did, the bag popped, sending a shower of jelly bellies everywhere. It wasn't the whole bag. I scooped up what fell on the table and tossed what went elsewhere.

The cats thought the jellies on the floor were great fun to chase around. I still find the occasional one that someone batted into the living room. For the last few weeks, however, I've been finding them here. I'll scoop cat food out of the container, pour it into the bowl and, oh look, jelly belly. In this case, I missed one and the girls simply ate around it.

Today, I decided my lunch would be cut strawberries, pea pods with dressing in which to dip them, yogurt and 2 peanut butter sandwiches. Unfortunately, my bread is all moldy so there are no sandwiches. I knew I was going to work on the story, so, seeing the bag of jelly bellies on the table, I added it to the lunch bag.

Do they help with the writing process? Sort of. When I get in the writing zone, I can forget to eat and drink. I'll crank out words, 15,000 in the past two days, grab a sip and couple of beans, and dive back in. Do they taste like the sodas they supposedly represent? Kind of. They do last longer than a 12 ounce can of them, however. I won't eat this whole bag. It's way too sugary. It's just the whole mastication process seems to coincide with the thinking process.

Now that I have blogged for the day, it's back to the novel. Chapter 15 explains more of the story but I have to take a group of people to find the demon. Time to write another battle scene.

Beverage: Scottish Blend tea


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Next Read

I finished the ghost book last night. As it turned out, the end of the book was an unabashed advertisement for the religion of Spirituality. Instead of staying with ghosts and legends, it dived into Spirituality and mediums. Perhaps those can be aligned with ghosts but when it started touting mediums as a way to contact your dead ancestors or loved ones, the author's credibility in my eyes tumbled. Take out those 3 chapters and it would be a mildly entertaining read. I'll add it to my collection of Scottish literature to go on the table at Highland games.

What to pick after that? The stacks are tall, about 4 feet tall. There's everything from autobiography to science fiction in the stack. After looking at each book's spine, I chose this.

If you are keeping track, this is book number 4 for this year. It's hardly the pace I would have normally consumed books, but I did finish 5 magazines last month after only reading 3 in June, and I've finished one magazine already in August.

I remembered last week how, earlier in the year, I would come home, grab the paper or a magazine and sit down in the living room to read. Pilchard would jump into my lap and we'd have "us" time. I got away from that but resurrected it last week. She loves it and I do, too.

It really is the purr-fect way to end a day.

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Is it that time already?

One of the craft catalogues I get came yesterday and it was a whole catalogue of Christmas. Everything was on sale. I leafed through it looking at all the wonderful things thinking, "Oooh, Patt would like this. Sheila would like this. Terry would like this." I also knew that even if I had disposable income and could purchase those kits containing an item one of my friends would appreciate, the kit would go in a drawer and would sit. It's a nice idea but the reality is that, as a Sagittarius, I have started so many projects that lie unfinished in a drawer.

I do recall that one of my New Year's resolutions was to finish something, anything, that's been started. I haven't done that. I haven't even considered what I would finish.

There is a small twinge of guilt because crafting used to be relaxing and give me pleasure. With the lack of funds, if I'd actually sit down and finish something I would have Christmas gifts. I have hundreds of magazine accumulated over 30-odd years with thousands of ideas. I just need to decide that's what I'm going to do.

I noticed that Hobby Lobby was promoting their Christmas stuff already. I am not ready to think Christmas. There was more rain this morning. We've had a total of 7 inches so far, over 24 hours. Yes, there's water in the basement. I need to go to the hardware store and get a couple of bags of gravel as there's a couple of holes in the driveway that are nasty with all this rain. It's hard to think that Christmas is a little over 4 months away.

My first Christmas as a married person, we made all our gifts. I started in August and was done by mid-December. It was a delightful Christmas. I am not sure that anything was saved, but there was a sense of accomplishment. The fingers aren't as nimble and the eyes aren't as strong, but a small voice tells me that although the people I'd give something to has expanded, if I just sat down and worked on things, I'd get something for each one of them done. I have, pretty much, everything I need. There would be little to no investment of cash. Just time.

Hmmmm, I do need to take some time off just for me...

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Slightly Ironic

Over the last few days, I've found myself in the position of doling out personal advice. I've blogged about this before, just last week, in fact. I have friends, both that I can readily see and those of the computer game kind, who have come to me with problems. Generally, all they seek is an ear and, if there is one thing I can do, it's listen and listen well.

I have been the beneficiary of friends listening to my tales of woe. Of late, they seem to come fast and furious and I sometimes wonder if another tale of a pothole is one tale too many. Still, you come back to see what I'm up to and I'm eternally grateful for that. The least I can do is listen to others.

I've heard some heart-wrenching stuff of late. I have the friends who are unemployed, going on years, not months; good, honest, talented, smart people who cannot find a job. I've listened to the fears that this is their lot in life and they are, truly, scared. I've listened to friends or family of those unemployed; their fears that this trial before them will tear their family apart simply because of the stress associated with lack of income and forced togetherness.

I've listened to tales of familial distress. Some things we do to those in our family are amongst the cruelest, most hurtful things I've ever heard. I know I am hearing just one side of the story, still standing up at a Saturday evening barbecue and calling your sister a "whore" to her face in front of 15 other people is not designed to do anything but hurt and she was massively hurt. I know. The sister poured out her feelings to me two days later.

Lately, I've been hearing the stories about broken hearts. I find this rather ironic. I have long since swept up the remains of my shattered heart and moved on. The people talking to me know I'm divorced and have been for a long time. They also know that while I would love someone in my life, I haven't found that person. I hardly feel in a position to comment on someone else's love life, yet here I am, listening and then being asked to provide advice.

The tales I've heard, of dreams dashed and betrayal and lies and deceit, have caused me to reflect on my life. It's very little consolation to tell someone, "There are more fish in the sea" when they have just had their heart stomped on. "They weren't the right person for you," also isn't much consolation when you thought they were right when you were together.

I have decided to take the tact that none of the sayings anyone tosses your way when you're going through a break-up makes you feel any better. As I've learned with finances, it is what it is. I have recommended people spend time finding something each day that makes them happy. I have suggested they pick a time each day to go into the bathroom, close the door and just wallow in their grief, because it is grief. You are grieving what you thought would be a relationship. Set a timer and allow yourself that amount of time to wallow, wail, cry, carry-on. When the bell goes off, you're done for the day. Move on to something else.

I tell them, there is no harm in being alone. Alone-ness is not a scary spot to be in. In that alone-ness, you find out things about yourself you never knew. I didn't realize I was as resourceful as I am. Things aren't working out the way I had dreamed my life would, but I'm doing the best I can. Yes, it would be nice to share this journey, to come home and have someone there to chat with. But, as I tell those who have come to me seeking an ear, if the alternative is someone who will lie to your face or cheat on you behind your back, isn't alone-ness preferable?

So, my can that collects nickles is always out and, like Lucy, I just need to take my position behind the desk. I think I'm astute enough to say that you need more help than just my ear can provide. Sometimes, however, a stool in front of a friend is all you need.

That will be 5 cents, please.

Beverage: Dr Pepper


Down to my last bottle.

I don't consume that much alcohol. The days are long gone when being drunk was a part of life. It wasn't that I spent college in an alcohol-induced stupor, but I think getting drunk and dealing with a hang-over are part of the college experience. For some people, it's a way of life. How sad. But for others of us, we do it, have the experience, decide it's awful and never do it again. I fall into this latter category.

Now, that being said, I will drink for a buzz and a couple two or even three drinks when I know the farthest I have to go is down the hall or up the stairs or make it to the elevator and then to room 625. Getting drunk, however, not for me. As the aphorism says, "Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt."

I do, however, enjoy alcohol, particularly when it's the weekend and I'm raiding with my World of Warcraft guild, Spectacular Death. We have a camaraderie that lends itself, even over a virtual world where the only way I know these people is by the sound of their voice coming through my computer, to the cheer from a brew. Several like to imbibe more than (cough) a couple and the resulting hi jinx produced our guild's slogan, "Whoops!".

I have alcohol in the house but it's not the kind I'm wont to drink straight out of the bottle. I bought the stuff because I had a recipe that used 2 tablespoons of it, like the hazelnut basted fish, or, as with the hazelnut liqueur, I prefer it with cold 7Up, which I don't have. So, I drink a lot of tea on raiding nights or my current favorite is fruit juice with club soda. All the fizz with half the calories and sugar.

Back around Memorial Day, I had a wee bit of extra cash and I treated myself to some brews. Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale I have linked to before. These, below, are the other brews I purchased, stuck in the back of the fridge, behind the milk, and drank about every 2 or 3 weeks.

The one on the left is the last bottle in the fridge. I drank the Wee Heavy over the weekend. I really liked the Old Engine Oil, but I like my beers to be dark with a bite to them. If you notice, these are all Scottish beers. (Robert the Bruce is a "Scottish-style" ale brewed in Muncie, Indiana.) While Scotland is usually associated with whiskey, I'm not all that fond of that brew. I do like Scottish beers, however. They have character.

I'm on the fence about consuming the Dark Island. Perhaps I should save it but Carole comes for a visit this weekend and sharing a beer with my daughter would be lovely. Granted, a 12 ounce bottle isn't going to yield a huge amount of beer to be split, but it's about the sharing, not the quantity.

Once the Dark Island is gone, it will be awhile until I can replenish stocks. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I have ample tea supplies to last through the end of the year and tea keeps me sharp while playing the game.

But there is something nice about lifting a glass and asking, "So, what's everyone drinking tonight?" It's almost as if we're sitting around a table after dinner sharing food and friendship.

Wine is sunlight, held together by water. ~Galileo

Beverage: (since I'm at work) Dr Pepper


Monday, August 2, 2010

Whole lotta breakfast

I was out of some stuff so I made a grocery run on Friday after work. For the first time in awhile, I actually checked the ad from the Wednesday paper to see what was on sale. Surprise! There were many things on sale that I had on the list. Talk about luck.

A notation was made in my luck journal. I find grocery shopping mildly annoying. While I don't shop for jeans or bedding or even a new computer when things aren't on sale, I have to buy food and it's not always on sale what you would like to eat or need to have in the house.

If I bought $10 worth of groceries, I could get Special K on sale, with a coupon, for $1.99. That is a great deal. There was a limit of 4, so I got 4. I'll be eating this for awhile.

Chocolate for breakfast. Life is good.

Beverage: Irish Breakfast Tea


Cats are another form of liquid.

This isn't my saying. I purloined this from Carole's friend, Phillip. His family got an Abyssinian, Cleo, who was all legs and a tail when she was little. I don't think I had seen a more lithe cat. If she didn't want to be held, she seemed to pour herself out of your arms.

This is a perfectly Pilchard-sized box. Isn't she cute? I had a bunch of clan stuff in this box and have consolidated that down to a smaller box. Pilchard has taken to this box and, if I can't find her, I'm trying to remember to check this box. At night, when the lights are off in the living room, there is almost no way to tell she's in the box without reaching in.

In spite of her size, I watched her pour herself off the deck yesterday, much to my consternation. It was a wonderful day and I thought we could sit on the deck for a couple of hours. I'm almost through with the Scottish ghosts book so I would read and they would sun themselves. We'd all get some fresh air.

I put the kid gate across the steps leading off the deck and sat down in the shade of the house. Mija came out, sniffed around and decided she preferred to lie in the doorway inside the house. That's fine. Pilchard came out, sniffed around and stuck her head through the slats in the deck. Now these are, admittedly, I didn't measure them, roughly 3-4 inches apart. They are too small for a child to stick their head through and get caught. While Pilchard can get her head through, the rest of her is too wide to fit through the slats, or so I thought.

We hadn't been outside more than 4 pages in the book and she slid right through the slats and onto the ground. Fortunately, there were all these smells that needed to be smelled so she was preoccupied and didn't move. I scooped her up and inside the house we went. "Sorry. I can't trust you to stay on the deck. We can't be outside now," I said, not that she understood.

So, I shelved the book and set about cleaning. I changed the sheets on the bed, started washing the rugs from the living room and then brought clean clothes up from the basement. I discovered this.
This is a lump under the sheets. Shakespeare and Half-Pint used to do this, too. Mija has climbed up onto the bed via under the sheet. I don't have a blanket on the bed because it's too warm. It's folded at the foot but I'll often sleep without covers in the summer.

I just had to laugh. Typical cat behavior. I slowly picked up a corner and said, "Peek". She winked at me and batted at my fingers. We wrestled for a few seconds and then she jumped down. Ten minutes later, I found her curled up on top of the clean clothes I left on the bed to put away later.

In the way? Sometimes. Single-minded or bull-headed? Yes, occasionally. But, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Beverage: Irish Breakfast tea