Monthly Archives: October 2009

Happy Halloween!

… and since you’re here, you can go ahead and wish me an early Happy Birthday, too. My birthday is tomorrow (the 1st), All Saint’s Day, because I’m a saint. Yes, I am!

I am, too.

Don’t argue.

Since it’s my Birthday Weekend and what I love to do is swim, I swam an extra long time this morning and plan to swim an extra long time tomorrow, which is the last day my community’s pool will be heated this year. Which means it’s the last day I’ll get to swim outside this year.

Last night we watched Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin, and carved our pumpkins. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to carve, so I carved two sides of my pumpkin.

A scary skeleton hand (that was hard to do)…

And a tombstone…

Tony carved Yoda on his pumpkin. That was pretty challenging, too.

No Halloween would be complete without showing you the pet’s costumes*, now would it?

Here we have Bug, our female cat. She was taking a nice mid-morning nap before I hauled her out of her nap cave for the photo shoot. She wasn’t too thrilled, and when we were done and I put her back, a paw came swiping out at me to let me know her true feelings about the whole thing.

Next up, we have Ripper. He, too, was sleeping but was more frightened about the whole thing than he was ticked. I would be, too, I mean HELP, THERE’S A SPIDER ON HIS HEAD!!

And then Slasher, who was lounging on the couch taking a nap. He was kind of tough to get a picture of with his costume. Count Catula (like a feline version of Dracula?).

Ohhh, and then we have Tug. My little Pumpkin. Yes, that’s an adorable pose, but I think the move was more designed to rid himself of that annoying head piece than it was to be cute.

Snug is a pillow this year. HA HA! Look, twins!

Last, but certainly not least, I managed to capture our birdy, Yoda, in the act of saving the world! Never mind that her cape is made of toilet paper. She doesn’t know that!

She’s getting ready to take off and save the world! Go Super Birdy!

Happy Halloween everyone!**

*No animals were harmed in the making of this blog post, only interrupted naps… what were they doing last night, anyway?

**Happy Birthday to me (tomorrow)!!

16 Comments

Filed under I did something Special, I feel Amused, Kid Substitutes

Halloween Decorations!

In the last post, I showed you one of my inside decorations. I thought I’d also take a moment to share our outside decorations that Tony put up this year.

Here’s our Halloween flag. I know, we’re supposed fly our freak flag, but a Halloween flag with a cute black kitty on a pumpkin and “Happy Halloween” will have to suffice.

In our staircase window we have these light-up decorations… at the top, a spider & web, then a witch on a broomstick, then a pumpkin and at the bottom some scary RIP headstone thing.

In the evening, our blow up decorations come alive. We have two black kitties that puff up. Our neighbor’s kids love to come over and look at these, I think it’s part of their nightly ritual. I should get a picture of them one of these nights, it’s cute.

Here’s a view down the scary walkway to our front door. Last night I heard some solicitors go to our neighbor’s house. I was listening for them to come to my front door, but instead all I heard them say to each other was a low, “Ohhh, let’s keep going…”

Somebody’s grave is next to our house. Eep! Poor fellow, it gets moved every year. We should call him the traveling grave. Heh

View of our front door…

Plant with kitty, headstone and a huge spider protecting it all…

Another headstone that disguises the fog machine, which will gear up for Halloween night… wooooooo, spooky! We have black lights up above that illuminate it all in the evening.

In case you didn’t know…

Tug says “Hi.”

On our front door…

In our entry way…

There’s one other window with decorations and I still need to get a picture if it.

So that’s what our house looks like right now.

32 Comments

Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special

Love & Loathe — 10/27/09

Love:

* After lunch with my IT friends last Friday, we went to a little bakery and I bought some tiramisu. Is this not beautiful?

Pei Yun, who authors one of the blogs I read, writes a series of posts on mashed potatoes in Singapore. I love reading them, maybe I should do a series of posts on tiramisu in Orange County. What better excuse could I possibly have to eat tiramisu everywhere I go? It’s all for the blog!

* My printer finally ran out of ink. I thought the message it gave me was hilarious. Printer health?

* Black eyed pea salsa. I bought it on a whim at Big Lots and it was the best salsa I’ve ever had. Figures it was made in Texas, huh?

*Watching my male fish try to entice the ladies. He started by clearing this circle of rocks.

When that didn’t work, he cleared another circle and then another.

I think pretty soon he’ll have the entire bottom of the tank cleared. Poor boy just wants a little fishy nooky, and doesn’t realize that he’s the wrong color. I was suspicious this would be the case, but had to try. Even though the mating thing isn’t going anywhere, he’s really happy in there establishing his dominance. I’ve read that albino males aren’t sterile, but female cichilds aren’t cooperative in mating with male counterparts who aren’t blue. I guess with cichilds the saying is, “Once you go blue…”

* The little “blup, blup” noises my fish make when they eat. I love this view of them, it’s so sweet to me.

Loathe:

* When I’m on the pill, I get canker sores like clock work every month. Since I’ve been off the pill for 2 1/2 years, I can count the number of canker sores I’ve had on one hand. Anyway, I bought these things to try out way back when and didn’t like them, but I’d applied one when I was going out the door and in a hurry. When I tried to eat or drink something, my teeth would catch it and just ended up making the sore bloody and worse. It’s not recommended that you try to peel them off, but I was desperate. Anyway, I figured it was just user error and would try it again in the future, maybe as an overnight treatment, since it claims to dissolve after 8 hours.

I recently got a canker sore and since I have loads of time now, I took the time to apply it for an overnight treatment. The thing didn’t dissolve in 8 hours, it still caused problems with the sore and I still didn’t like them and don’t recommend them.

I’ve tried every “cure” over the years and as far as I can tell, there’s really nothing that cures them except time. Dratted hormones.

* The emotional ups and downs of job hunting. It’s hard. Although, I have to say, it’s really nice to have had an interview and another one scheduled for tomorrow (different company than last week). All three of the people who have called have complimented my resume as “outstanding.” So at least I know if they’re not calling, it’s not me, it’s “them.”

One Last Thing:

I stopped by Hallmark a couple weeks ago to see their Halloween items that are for sale. I love the little Hallmark store I go to, their buyer brings in the best stuff and the cashier is so sweet and friendly.

I bought this thing there a couple years ago… isn’t it fun? There are buttons you can push on the side, with three recordings for each place of business.

For the Curl up & Dye salon:

“*Sound of a chainsaw*”
*Creak* “Come on in for a hair raising experience. We’ll make you boo-tiful.”
“Our special color treatment is to die for… *laugh*”

For the Apothescary:
“*scary laugh*”
“We’ll fill your prescription cheap, it’ll only cost an arm and a leg!”
“We’ve got just the thing for your coffin.”

The I Scream Shoppe:
“Sludge Ripple, Sloppy Road, Leeches & Cream … and 13 bone chilling flavors!”
“Stop in for the chill of a lifetime!”
“If you’re looking for shakes, you’ve come to the right place!”

Anyway, this year they had this fun table top Halloween tree and these darling ornaments and little jars!

Aren’t these fun? I plan to go back on my birthday (the day after Halloween) and hope for some 1/2 off sale prices. I love after-Halloween sales, don’t you?

14 Comments

Filed under Love/Loathe

U2 Concert Review

You may have heard that U2 was in town this weekend. They were playing at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena — the 360° Tour (aka outdoor arenas).

Back when I was gainfully employed as a contributing member of society, I bought tickets the second they went on sale. Knowing that U2’s tickets usually sell out, and knowing the capacity of the Rose Bowl (92,000 seats), I figured it might be a good idea to accompany the ticket purchase with getting a room. Sometimes my genius ideas surprise even me. Getting a room is always a genius idea.

First off, let’s cover the bad — the idiots. Of course, there’s always the idiots in the world… like the people next to us in the parking area who were blaring non-U2 music so loudly that their stereo was distorted. *eye roll* Instead of hanging near their distorted world, I went up and sat on a grassy knoll under a tree and read my newspaper, while listening to Bono and Edge perform their sound checks. Far more enjoyable than distorted “canned” music. Or how about the group of people who walked by while Tony was sleeping before the concert in the back of the car (since he went to work this morning at 4:30 AM) and they saw him sleeping and YELLED at him about how he’d missed the great concert, thinking he’d wake up and be bummed. They really thought they were so funny and clever. I told them they were rude and was ready to take them on! Don’t mess with my husband! Then we had the dudes who were sitting next to us in the arena who were smoking cigars (I’m not a fan) and were surprised when the gal in front of them mentioned that some people might not enjoy the smell. I think I’m turning into a crotchety old lady!

Tony’s the huge U2 fan. Me, well, I know their music and unless you’ve had your head in a cave for over 20 years, you have too. The show was great — they set out to please their audience, and did they ever. They put everything they had into their show as musicians and kicked butt doing it. They were broadcast live on YouTube, which was pretty cool. (You can see the re-broadcast of it here: Link) They were very professional and started their show on time (with a disapproving nod toward Mariah Carey’s disastrous display of unprofessionalism at her concert in Anaheim).

The weekend went off like a well-synchronized assembly line. When we drove up there Saturday, we got every light green between our house to the freeway (not even kidding), had a leisurely dinner at Olive Garden (leftovers for concert day), spontaneously walking to the theater and learning the next showing of the movie we wanted to see started in 10 minutes. Sunday, we showed up with our general parking pass and were directed into a lot not too far from the gate we needed to enter. Better than that, we were directed to park under a tree! A great big shade tree!

I even had my very own MacGuyer moment! During the concert, a dude coming back to his seat stepped on the front of my flip-flop and the string between my toes broke! Imagining a flippy-floppy walk back to our car at midnight, I desperately looked around for ideas. I spotted a long string tied to a light cable. It wasn’t doing anything as far as I could tell, so I untied it, looped it through the plastic doo-dad, tied it over the “V” on the top of my shoe. The perfect temporary fix.

So I guess what I’m really admitting is, I stole a string from the Rose Bowl arena. When you’re watching the New Year’s football game, you can remember that and think of me. Here you thought you were gonna read a concert review…

Of course, we took pictures: Click to See

6 Comments

Filed under Entertainment can be Expensive, I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile, I Stimulate the Economy

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Filed under Money Hump Building, Protected, Who I am

Love & Loathe — 10/20/09

Love:

* Coupons for restaurants. We found a coupon for buy one, get one free at Denny’s. Hello date night dinner! Today, I got a coupon in the mail for buy one, get one free at Chipotle. Hello to next week’s date night dinner!

* Aquatic exercise class. Who knew? I mostly feel like a gangly, uncoordinated dork (kinda comes with the territory being 5’11” tall and all, there’s a reason gymnasts are all petite). Fortunately, most of the exercise is all underwater, so no one knows how goofy I feel but me and I’m learning some good stretches.

* This time of year. The first fire in the fireplace, cookies and hot chocolate is just so cozy. So is snuggling on the couch.

* My feetie jammies made their first appearance of the year last night. Ohhhh, I slept so good.

* The last time I purchased gas for my car was on 10/3/09.

* We have plans to spend time together this weekend, going to the sold-out U2 concert at the Rose Bowl. I bought the tickets the day they went on sale, months ago, for Tony’s birthday. The best part of this is how over-the-top excited he is about going. I really love that I gave him something to look forward to.

Loathe:

* Burning the skin on the roof of my mouth. The hot chocolate was definitely hot, though, in case you were wondering.

* Owners who are not conscious of “dense neighborhood” living etiquette and leave their dog outside in a 25′ x 8′ back yard all day. Oh, and it’s a lab. That’s kind of a small area for such a big dog. So the poor thing barks all day – great big WOOF-WOOFs — which is annoying, but when she starts whining, crying and snuffling at their back door like a forlorn puppy? She’s normally a good dog and that whimpering stuff breaks my heart. Here’s hoping that maybe they just sometimes forget to leave their dog door open…

One Last Thing:

I stood in line for 30 minutes today. Not for a Disneyland ride, but to pay $262 for my illegal ride in the bike lane.

I ignored the kids in front of me who talked non-stop about everything from Dancing with the Stars to the fact that they were certain there was no such thing as fresh water fish — all fish are salt water fish, they declared.

The people behind me were gonna go in front of the judge and tell him that they just couldn’t afford the ticket, so he was gonna have to reduce the fee and they still wanted to go to traffic school. Yeah, good luck with that.

I got up to the window and reached for my credit card only to discover it wasn’t in it’s pocket in my purse. (*insert scared look here*) Yikes, so I’d waited in that line for nothing? I looked at the end of the line and couldn’t see it, it was wound around through the line guides and out the door.

Coolly, I asked if they take AMEX. Nope. (Pfft, what kind of place IS this anyway?). I could go check my car, she said, and just come up to her window if I found it. On a whim, I pulled out my stack of membership cards. Oh, you know, the CVS, Hallmark, and grocery store cards? Thank God, my Mastercard was right there. Don’t’cha know, Disneyland and MC go hand-in-hand. Phew!

Soooo, now I have until February 18th, 2010, to go to traffic court online. Guess I’ll have to fit that in my busy schedule somewhere.

14 Comments

Filed under Love/Loathe

It Rings!

I told my mom yesterday that I’m pretty sure my phone’s ringer doesn’t work. No one is calling me. I get text messages just fine, but no calls.

Today, just 5 minutes ago, my phone rang and a number displayed I didn’t recognize. A company! Calling off my resume!!

I cleared my throat and in my best professional voice (trying to sound as if I’m not sitting here in my feetie snowman jammies), answered, “This is Jammie J.” A nice male voice said, “Oh, sorry, I think I have the wrong number.”

Two seconds later, it rings again, same number displayed, so I answered, “Hi, I think you still have the wrong number…” This time he argued with me, “No, I’m looking for Donna. Donna Legand? Perhaps she’s a co-worker or something?”

I looked at the cat on my lap named Tug, over at the cat snoozing contentedly in his cat bed named Snug. I responded to the man, “This is my cell phone and I have no co-worker named Donna. I’m pretty sure you have the wrong number…” I almost finished with, “But if you’re looking for a kick-ass executive assistant, I can be your girl for the right price!” But I didn’t. Hard sells to wrong number callers? Really not my thing. Although in this economy, maybe it should be.

At least I know my phone rings…

8 Comments

Filed under I feel Amused

Panties in a Twist.

OK, maybe I’m taking this the wrong way, having been recently terminated by a company where I *loved* my job and the company for whom I worked. Especially when I’m fairly certain that they reallocated my duties to 2 or 3 people, who they are paying less, who aren’t getting medical benefits, and who are working longer hours as a result.

I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, the program isn’t even available in my state (at least, I don’t think so), but in last Sunday’s Parade Magazine, I came across this article: Link

And here’s a link to the horse’s mouth, so to speak: Link

In a nutshell, in case you don’t feel like reading the stuff at those links, in response to the incredible amount of unemployment filings, Georgia has created a program that enables employers to get free labor for up to 6 weeks, the state of Georgia even picks up the tab for worker’s compensation insurance. At the end of those 6 weeks, it’s at the employer’s discretion if they want to hire the person who has basically, for all intents and purposes, been an “intern.” (My word, not theirs.)

The intern receives a stipend of up to $300 (total over that 6 week period) to defray expenses (in addition to unemployment benefits), a “foot in the door”, and on-the-job training.

The state benefits, because they claim 58% of the interns (program participants) are landing jobs at the companies at which they are interning, thereby reducing the amount of unemployment payments the state is doling out.

According to the article, other states are interested in replicating the program, and there is a concern that the unemployed working for free could become a mandatory stipulation of receiving unemployment benefits. Which I find somewhat ironic – the state and former employer financially carrying their former employee while they retrain at a new company? (Unemployment is a program funded by employers who pay taxes on wages paid to employees.)

Furthermore, I’m not seeing how it would benefit someone in my shoes. Someone who’s not trying to change careers, someone who has years of experience doing what they do, and someone who has advanced skills that are suitable for the position they’re seeking. Someone whose bills are based on the position at which they’ve honed their skills over the years. UI doesn’t pay my bills, not even close. Add a measly $300 stipend for a 6 week period? Nope, still not even close.

Back in August of 1999 (the irony of it being 10 years ago, exactly, is not lost on me), I lost my job due to company closure. My boss at the time made the grandiose offer of, “If you continue working here, if we get our funding, we’ll pay you then.” My response to that was, “Thanks, appreciate the offer, but I don’t work for free.” The company never received its funding, it closed its doors… so, if I had stayed, I would have been working for free. Basically the same risk the people who participate in this program take… at the end, you either get “funded” or you don’t.

At that time, there just wasn’t anything out there for my skill set. After a few months went by, you know what I did? I went back to college. Shocking, right? Here’s something else, I continued to receive UI and when the benefits ran out, I went to court, stood in front of a judge and made my case for my UI to be continued. The judge agreed with me and extended my benefits. Ironically, shortly after that, I landed a position as an executive assistant… my trusty old standby.

I don’t recall that I registered with any temp agencies at that time. If I didn’t, I don’t know why. But I think temp agencies are much more beneficial to a candidate than Georgia’s work program. If a temp employee maintains a certain number of hours per week for a period of time, they’re eligible for health benefits through the temp agency. In addition, the employer pays a fee to the temp agency, so the employer has an investment beyond “training”… in other words, they are truly looking to hire someone. In Georgia’s work program, it appears as if there’s a huge loophole for employers to abuse the system — to enroll, get free labor for 6 weeks and then just wave their hand and say, “Meah, not a good fit.”

Maybe I’ve totally misinterpreted this and I feel like there’s a couple points I forgot to make (it’s late, I’ve vented my spleen and I hereby forgive myself), but that’s how it appears to me and I’ve read the stuff, like, 6 times now.

What are your thoughts? If you don’t have any thoughts, just wave and say “Hi”. No offense will be taken. Well, maybe a little offense, but I’ll get over it.

18 Comments

Filed under I feel Irritated, Money Hump Building

When it Rains.

We bought Boney Barney on clearance three years ago after Halloween. We took him out of storage in 2007, but forgot to set him up with our Halloween decorations, and when we were putting stuff away, he kind of got missed. Happens to the best of us, decorations from holidays past get to sit out all year long. So he sat there in the dark garage off to the corner all by himself.

Then one night it was raining when I got home from work.

Normally I cover my car in the garage because, if I don’t, the cats use it as their personal ski area and hammock, any time of the day or night.

When it rains, I don’t want to get my car cover wet or damp, so I use a car squeegee. I have issues, I know. It’s OK, though, that’s why I’m a member of the Miata Club. I’m validated there. We all clean our cars before we go on runs, but it’s not an uncommon sight to find people giving little details of love to their cars while we wait for the run to start.

Anyway, back on topic. So, one night it had rained and there was my car, sitting there vulnerable to feline abuse. I happened to glance over and see Boney Barney sitting there in the dark. As surely as it happens in cartoons, a lightbulb lit up over my head.

For you see, Boney Barney is motion activated and when he gets activated, he says in a guttural voice the following things:

“Oh my achin’ bones, this after life isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. But I can drink all the antifreeze I want now. Hehehe.”

“Hey, what’d you wake me up for? I was just having the best nightmare. All the cats in the world were turned into zombies and they ate their own litter! *howl*”

“My favorite sounds are sloppin’ worms, mushy brains, blood & guts, squishy fish, squashing bugs, rats in traps, crackling bones and dyin’ cats. *howl*”

*howl* What can I say? I ain’t got much bite.”

“I like to eat bugs & maggots & dead rotting meat, and drink soiled water that tastes like feet, give me a scabby dead rat any day, served up better with stink & decay! *BELCH*”

“*howl* What’s for dinner? Stinky salmon, rancid roadkill, bug stew or my favorite, barfed up buzzard guts! Mmmmmm. *belch*”

boneybarney

We’ve tried the ScatMats, which I’ve had for years and years (my previous cat was kind of dumb), but these cats of ours have simply learned to stay off the spots the mat is placed, doing the perimeter dance with squinty eyes, leaving lovely tracks in the shape of the mat with their delicate paws. They’ve figured out that as long as they don’t touch ’em, they don’t get shocked.

And so it is that Boney Barney gets a stage for his talents whenever it rains, and lately most anytime. Pretty exciting for just a boney dog. At least he thinks so. The cats aren’t thrilled with it, in fact, they’re somewhat frightened of him. Truth be told, that’s kind of the idea, since they’re not supposed to be on my car anyway.

Earlier this month, Tony called me and with a note of despair in his voice said, “They changed Boney. The ones in the store this year say boring and PC things.” He was so sad, as am I. Because I was planning on buying two more when they went on clearance, one for the trunk of my car and one for the kitchen table.

Despite our disappointment, I still might.

10 Comments

Filed under I Stimulate the Economy, Kid Substitutes

Love & Loathe — 10/13/09

Love:

* Wearing my Halloween apparel. Fuzzy “Boo” socks, scary underwear and t-shirts make for a very happy Jammie J.!

* Poached eggs for breakfast.

* Swimming laps in the rain.

* Kisses from my nephews. Completely delectable. Num, num, num.

* I got dark chocolate covered rice cakes (brought back from Ireland) in the mail from my east coast sister-in-law and persimmons from my father-in-law (Tony says I’m clearly the favorite daughter-in-law because of that!).

Loathe:

* How Firefox delights in crashing every few websites I open. Hello, Firefox? How about we get the crashing bug fixed?? Can I help you in any way, because I’m available for employment!

* How people in this world have become so non-responsive, which I think is incredibly rude. Is it really so difficult just to send back a two word e-mail or text message, like “Not yet…” or “Not today…” or “thank you”. Yes, silence is it’s own answer, but how did we get this way and how did it become OK?

* Ants that transported in with the persimmons. Blech. A necessary evil, but still… blech.

One Last Thing:

How I freak my husband out when he comes home from his second job… just leave a certain bottle sitting in the middle of the bathroom counter, all loud and proud like this:

What I heard was, “Uhhhh, sweetie? What is this? This isn’t funny.”

Me, “Yes, it is. That’s ALWAYS funny!”

17 Comments

Filed under Best Husband, I feel Amused, Love/Loathe