Monthly Archives: January 2010

Love & Loathe — 01/28/10

Loathe:

* The way the house smells like ashes when it rains. Downdraft in the chimney, I guess, don’t like it.

* The wet dog smell in the garage when it rains. It’s been nearly 5 years and the previous owner’s legacy lives on in the garage for some reason.

* I found some notes I had written when in high school and I realized that typing has caused me to lose my lovely penmanship, because now I’m apparently used to “writing” at high speeds. Slowing down and actually penning things with a real pen might be a good thing to do sometimes.

Love:

* McDonald’s hot fudge sundaes. It’s the simple things, My People, and they must use fake milk or something, because I have nooooo problem digesting them.

* My warm rice bag thing that I heat up in the microwave. Good for all ailments, from lady problems to muscle strains, it’s an all-around wonderful thing.

* My scanner. I have two of them, actually, and have primarily been using my HP for the last year. But I recently installed the software for my Canon LiDE 600F flatbed scanner on my Toshiba laptop (remember my other laptop went bad a few months back). I had forgotten how well put together this flatbed scanner is and, while not the fastest thing out there, it’s got some really nice, well thought-out features.

* The six baby guppies born yesterday morning. They’re so cute, swimming around with their itty-bitty eyes looking at things, eating microscopic food and pooping microscopic poop.

* This plant… I can’t remember its name and I always forget that it’s a winter bloomer, but it doesn’t forget. January comes around and it spills over the fence with profuse flowers, in shades of blue, periwinkle and lavender. It makes me happy to look at it.

* Can’t wait to go to Disneyland tonight and back up to the mountains tomorrow. Maybe a McDonald’s sundae on the way to both of those places. Mmmm.

One Last Thing:

** Click to continue reading (password protected as it’s career related).

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Filed under Love/Loathe, Money Hump Building

Determination vs. Mountain.

After I took my mom to the airport on Friday, I decided to take that pesky tire of mine into my tire place… since I was driving by it, you know. In fact, I was so confident it was going to be a waste of time, I nearly got back in my car and left. But I persevered. Turns out, the water test showed nothing, so they took the wheel apart and found a small hole on the inner part of the tire, and a staple inside. The puncture, they said, was sealing against the wheel in certain positions, so it wasn’t a constant leak but a persistent one, when it did leak.

A relief, really, because that means I didn’t tick anyone off to the degree of anger it would take to spend time deflating a tire. So there you have it, tire deflation mystery solved.

Friday night we headed up to the local mountains, only to be turned away, along with hundreds of other people, by CHP and CalTrans. Something about an avalanche up the front way and the power company needing the road to restore power on the back way. We tried both ways a couple of times Friday night and finally drove back home and slept.

Since we had no plans for the weekend other than going to the mountains, we decided to try again the next morning. So we drove back up… checked the front way, then the back way… both were still closed. So we headed to the back-back way (and final way, except for aircraft) and waited in line with 5 miles of other people from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM, which is when the road opened (they had to clear an accident).

It then took us an hour and a half to drive 9.5 miles because really, people, listen to the cop who had to drive up and down the line of cars — DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD to adjust or install your snow chains, PULL OFF TO THE SIDE.

Seriously, when did common sense become such a priceless commodity?

BUT, we made it up to the cabin, shoveled out the driveway, spent the night, saw incredible amounts of snow, had the best breakfast ever, helped a friend shovel out her car, played with our friend’s dogs, including an adorable puppy (puppy!!!), closed up and winterized the cabin, and came back home.

Tony shoveling, before I got out and helped… and I DID help.

Best breakfast ever…

Look, I found a car under there…

Puppy love!

It was truly a grand adventure and I can’t wait to do it again next weekend!

More pictures can be found here: Link Oh, go on, click it, you know you want to…

Happy Birthday to my friend, Tamara, today (you lurker, you!!) and to my bestest-est friend, Grace, tomorrow. I love you both. *muwah*

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Filed under Best Husband, I ♥ My Miata, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

Love & Loathe — 01/21/10

Loathe:

* Somehow one of my rear tires on my car dropped to only 10 pounds PSI. I thought it was maybe a slow leak, but it hasn’t lost any pressure since I refilled it to the 26 PSI that it’s supposed to be at this morning. Not sure what that means…

* Of course, I discovered it this morning at 1 AM, when my intuition told me to go check my tire pressure. Which I did and then worried about it until 5 AM when Tony got up and I made him double-check my tire pressure taking skills.

* The reason I was worried was because I needed to drive (or row) my mom to the airport for a domestic trip. I’m glad I checked it, because I ended up driving roundtrip to the airport two times. Once to drop off my mom and once to pick her up when Southwest Airlines canceled all their flights out due to weather.

Love:

* Homemade waffles.

* Honey baked ham.

* Another evening with my mom… an unexpected gift, although there was a certain amount of stress involved and wasted time at the airport.

* It’s snowing in the local mountains. Like, a LOT of snow. That means we’re going up tomorrow. So, here’s to safe travels for everyone in the house.

* My mom and I have been going to the gym together, including the aquatic exercise classes, and they’ve been letting her in on our membership. I’m not sure if they’re supposed to do that, but I love them for it. In fact, it almost makes up for all the pool issues they have there.

One Last Thing:

Here’s something weird… when I have insomnia due to worry, I ponder really weird things that are unrelated to the worry at hand. For example, my “worry” last night was that my tire wouldn’t hold air and I wouldn’t be able to get my mom to the airport in time because I’d have to spend MONEY on a new tire, and how was I going to do that AND get her to airport? Turns out that the tire held air and her flight was canceled… so there.

Yet, one of the things I was thinking about last night, totally unrelated to the real worry, was whether people who wear hats cause themselves to have a thinning hairline or whether they wear hats to cover up a thinning hairline. Similar thought about glasses… if your eyesight starts to get bad, and you do start to wear glasses, does that cause your eyes to get lazy and then you need thicker glasses, and then your vision gets worse, and then you need even thicker glasses?

I think I should go to bed tonight. Oh, and I’m moving my Love & Loathe list to Thursday… even though you were too polite to say anything about it, I know you missed it on Tuesday. *muwah*

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, Love/Loathe, Sometimes Thinking Exhausts Me

Going Places.

Since you last saw me, I’ve been to northern California and back. Monterey/Salinas area to be precise. The handful of times I’ve been there was with my ex-husband and while I loved that area, he had a tendency to cast a pallor of gloom over everything. A little advice right here? If you have a suspicion that you’ll love some place, don’t let someone who’s a weenie take you there. Or just avoid weenies.

Anyway…

One of my friends from high school, Bridgett, lives up there and so it worked out that we were able to hang out with her quite a bit of the time, which was thoroughly enjoyable. The last time I saw her was in 2001 and we determined that nine years is far too long of a time between visits. She and her roommates were incredibly hospitable, generous and welcoming to us. In fact, I’d never met her roommates before in my life, but felt as if I’d known them for years. I love people like that.

Bridgett is a starving artist, or we can call her a cartoonist at large! She’s had creative artistic talent for as long as I can remember and I think high school art class is actually how we met. She did something with it, though, as far as college and schooling and education, and her comic strip recently made it into the local paper. I’m so proud of her. You should be, too, because I said so and also, because she was really tolerant and humble when I embarrassed her by making her autograph everything she gave me. A copy of her cartoon on the front page of the Monterey Herald’s Sunday funnies? Please autograph. A piece of paper with directions? Please autograph. HAA!

Bridgett’s strip, Squid Row, on the front page of her local newspaper… autographed

You can find her stuff here: LINK

Besides visiting with her and touring her studio, or rather, her Cartoonery, other highlights while visiting the area included driving the 17 Mile Drive and ogling the breathtaking scenery, which included enormous waves colliding with immense power upon boulders and sheer cliffs, Bird Rock covered with so many sea lions that it looked as if, from a distance, it was covered with brown, wiggling worms, but we could hear them noisily expressing their opinions from shore, and in contrast, deer quietly standing alongside the road with green beards of grass dangling from their mouths as they quietly observed us taking their picture, and, of course, the Lone Cypress secured to the rock upon which it stands with cables, a stark silhouette against a gray sky, reminiscent of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree when compared to the lush cypress trees nearby.

Bird Rock with sea lions…

The Lone Cypress

Deer with beards…

When we picked Tony up from the San Jose airport on Saturday, we visited the Winchester House. Truly, a spectacular experience. I took a ton of pictures, many of which were highly illegal (you know me and my pictures!). We did both the Mansion Tour and the Behind the Scenes Tour and they were equally entertaining, fascinating and informative.

One thing, though, if you have kids who are under 5 years old, I would not recommend taking them on any tours of the mansion. Kids love stairs and, yes, there’s a whole lotta stairs. The problem occurs when you pull the child away from the stairs to stay with the tour, and you combine that with a tour time when your child would normally be napping. Can you say “meltdown?” One child with a non-stop, hour long, shrieking meltdown equals 25 unhappy tour guests. Ugh. The tour guide offered them a credit if they wanted to “take a tour at a later time” and suggested that they could “leave and join the tour at any time”… but the parents resolved to stay with the tour, for what purpose I have no idea. It’s not like they (or anyone else) could HEAR anything the guide was saying over the 100 decibel siren that was squirming in their arms. Common sense, people, common sense.

We also went to the Steinbeck Center, which was a really educational and interactive experience. Since Salinas is a valley whose main history is rooted in agriculture and farming, and the cycle of same, and Steinbeck’s life was influenced by that, there was also a section in the museum showing the stages of crops and how they get from the fields to our kitchens. Another section in the museum was dedicated to the fine arts and local artists, however, we didn’t visit that part since Bridgett wasn’t featured in it! We could have spent much longer there, but we needed to head off to the airport… two hours is enough time to get a good feel for the place.

Oh but that all crossword puzzles could be solved just by pushing a button!

In the agriculture museum, I got to be a trucker!

We had dinner out a couple of times, once in Salinas at a wonderful Italian restaurant and once at a restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. Both restaurants were suggested, and dinner was generously gifted to us, by Bridgett and her roommates. I truly am blessed to have good friends.

Sadly, we didn’t have time to go to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium (they have an octopus!!) because we departed Sunday afternoon, just before The Big Storm of California, January 2010, swept through the area. I’m currently listening to it beat down on the roof of my home and I’m so glad to be here and not out there in it traveling in a tin can through the sky.

Soooo, what have you done since last Thursday?

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Filed under Best Husband, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile, I Stimulate the Economy, I'm Never too Old to Learn

Love & Loathe — 01/12/10

Loathe:

* My car is getting older and coming up on some of those major maintenance mile markers. Such as needing a new timing belt and a 90,000 mile tune-up. Seriously, I really cannot believe I’ve had this car for 8 years in March. It blows my mind.

* December bills… property taxes and auto insurance are hefty bills that make my money hump scream in pain this time of year. Also brings home the reality of needing a job.

* Coughing. Especially the dry, unproductive, tickle cough that goes on and on. Then I try to stop it and I feel like I’m choking, but NEWSFLASH TO THROAT, THERE’S NOTHING IN THERE TO GET OUT! So annoying.

Love:

* Naps. I had a glorious nap on Saturday and felt so relaxed afterward. I love naps like that. Usually naps make me feel all tongue-furry and foggy-brained, but not that one.

* Sea World. I went yesterday with my mom and I just love that place. I shouldn’t be surprised by that, considering how much I love my fish, but I am. Plus, Sea World has a freshwater aquarium building and I spent about 20 minutes staring at their cichlid tank. Because the water’s cleaner in someone else’s side of the tank (or grass is greener on the other side of the fence?). Something like that. Plus, my mom totally enabled and encouraged me, she wanted to see them, too. No, really. She even said so.

* Ummm, I just mentioned Sea World, right? Of course, that means chocolate funnel cake. Yep, I love that, too.

* People who truly care about me… that whole “unconditional love” thing. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I really, really am surrounded by those type of people in my life. That it’s a blessing not to be taken for granted.

* My Topsy Turvy. California weather is confusing the maters out of my tomato plants. I have ripening tomatoes hanging out of my Topsy Turvy. Why does that sound a little bit naughty?

One Last Thing:

One of those things that never gets old. Driving down the freeway and shouting, “HEY!”

Everyone in the car, “What?”

Then, “NO, REALLY, HAY!”

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Love & Loathe – 01/05/10

Loathe:

* Being sick. Yes, still. This is one hell of a doozy of a cold. My refrigerator could take lessons from my sinuses on replenishing. Amazing, it truly is. It’s a shame scientists haven’t found a use for all this phlegm that people cough up during cold season… maybe that’s the solution to the gasoline crisis? Phlegm cars?

* There are absolutely no jobs at this time in my area of expertise for which to apply. Not that I could’ve interviewed, anyway, what with having no voice. I’m assuming that this is due to companies FYE and holidays that just passed. I’m also hoping and praying that this will change soon, as it’s somewhat disheartening for me.

* Being asked by well-meaning people the status of my unemployment. It’s kind of a sore spot.

* Dealing with incompetent people who are employed (waves at Best Buy). Really, it’s like rubbing salt in the wound of my unemployment and drastically reduces my patience, which was low anyway, for their idiocy.

Love:

* Souplantation. Especially if it means I get to see my friend, Grace.

* Prescription cough syrup. Promethazine and codeine, how I love thee!

* I think we got the fish situation under control. Strange thing that. In the midst of all the tetras dying, and the male guppy dying, the female guppy we bought from the fish store gave birth. So there, in the midst of death, with anti-ick medication swirling in the water, we have new life and me freaking out trying to SAVE THE BABY FISH! And WHERE ARE THE OTHER BABY GUPPIES? We only found one baby guppy (odd, indeed), but so far, baby guppy is alive, swimming, eating, pooping and growing. Which is pretty much what baby fish are supposed to do.

* The mommy visit is going well. At least I think so. Neither of us have physically harmed each other yet. This is good, yes?

One Last Thing:

On a rainy day last week, I thought it might be interesting to go out to the Richard Nixon library. I’ve wanted to for a couple years now, because for the holidays they have a couple special displays… one of which was trains. Lego trains, toy trains, remote control trains, videos of trains… it’s really quite spectacular, even if you’re not all that into trains. The other is a display called “Christmas Trees of the World.” There were numerous Christmas trees, each decorated with ornaments specific to the country it represented… of course, the German tree had the hidden pickle.

It really was an interesting thing to do on a rainy day with my mom. While it was interesting and there were a lot of interesting things there, I found myself thinking, “Of course they had to open a library. Every President would have to. What else would former Presidents do with all the interesting crap they accumulated during their Presidency?”

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

2010 Rose Parade Recap.

It all started sometime in November, when Big Brothers of Orange County contacted Tony and asked if he and his Little, Michael, wanted to ride on a float in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

They attended a publicity photo shoot at the Rose Parade Mansion in November, which is also when they first met representatives from Honda America, as well as the other float riders, and saw the float model. Then they were given t-shirts with the Big Brothers’ logo, then the realization that it would be cold the morning of the 1st, so they were also given logo jackets. Then, a couple days before the parade, they were informed that the fire marshall was requiring all the riders to wear hats, because there were fireworks and other pyrotechnics on the float. So they were given hats with logos, too. Almost a full wardrobe of things with the Big Brothers’ logo!

Michael & Tony & the Honda float model.

On 12/27, we attended the “VIP float decorating event,” where we viewed the Honda float from a catwalk, and then decorated pieces of the float that were laid out on tables. We noted on judging day (12/31) that, in actuality, the only pieces we decorated that showed up on the float were the Honda side pieces, and they were re-covered with flower petals.

My mom putting seeds on the Honda logo

The Honda float, sails down and being decorated. Visible is the rear of the float and the “fireworks boat”

On the 31st, they required the riders be present for the float judging ceremony, so we headed up to Pasadena bright and early (around noon). Seeing the float fully decorated and fully functional was an awesome sight indeed. To see my husband on the float made it spectacular!

In front of the Honda float

One thing I’ve learned in life is, if you walk or drive like you know where you’re going and act like you’re supposed to be there, more often than not you’ll get to go there whether you’re “supposed” to be there or not. That served me well several times through this event. Particularly since I have a case of laryngitis, thanks to this nasty cold I’m battling.

I’ve also learned that laryngitis sucks.

New Year’s Eve … blue moon

New Year’s eve found us staying in a 4 star hotel, courtesy of the Big Brothers organization. Unfortunately, all four of us were in various stages of battling colds… imagine, if you will, trying to cough, snort, hawuck, sniffle, etc., all quietly because you don’t want to wake the others in the room who are trying to sleep, while worrying about the 3 AM wake-up time looming over your head. I ask you to imagine that because that’s what everyone was doing in our hotel room on New Year’s eve.

At midnight a text message on Tony’s phone blared. Michael sat straight up in bed and exclaimed, “What?? It can’t be 3 AM yet, I haven’t gotten to sleep yet!!” It was the ice breaker that allowed us to give up the pretense of sleep. We opened the drapes just in time to see the last bit of fireworks off in the distance… well, I did. We laughed, chatted (some chatting was more annoying than others) and rearranged ourselves. When it all sorted out, we all ended up getting about 2 hours of sleep and mine happened on the floor of the closet in a 4 star hotel. That’s right. I stayed in a 4 star hotel and slept in the closet!

My closet bed

Beyond seeing my husband on a float in the Rose Parade, a couple highlights for me included meeting Captain Sully on the 31st. Yep, the Hudson River flight navigator himself! He said to me, “Hello! How are you doing?” I gave my standard answer that I give to all strangers who put me on the spot, a quiet “Hi!” and a big grin. This particular “hi” had the bonus of being a bit froggish, given the status of my laryngitis. I did manage to take his picture, though.

Grand Marshall for the 2010 Rose Parade, Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger

Another highlight involved coffee and donuts! The morning of the 1st, I desperately needed something hot to drink. One of the white suited fellows directing people said he had visited the VIP/media area for his coffee. He said I could probably get in there if I smiled at them like I was smiling at him, and that worked great the first time. On my way down for a refill, I offered to get him a refill, too. He was so surprised that someone had thought of his needs! Sadly, the pretty smile didn’t work, so I explained my intentions (getting the white suited guy a refill) and as it turned out, my good intentions were my VIP pass the second time.

Me and my “boyfriend”, the Farmer Insurance Group’s “Salute to the Bands” float. We stared at each other for a good 2 hours the morning of the 1st. I was glad he left me when the parade started.

And my final highlight was that I somehow managed to avoid all vehicular traffic. I kept thinking I was lost or on the wrong road, because I made it to all my destinations with zero traffic. I think my drive to Pasadena was just early enough (I got there before my parking lot was even open) and when leaving the parade, I took lightly traveled streets which paralleled the main thoroughfare, which was terribly congested. Whatever the trick, I was glad for it, because I hate driving in traffic at events. Everyone drives like they forgot their brains at home, and that annoys the crap out of me.

The Rose Parade was spectacular. When I was a teenager, I went up 2 or 3 times with family friends and watched the parade toward the end of the parade route. This year, Honda gave the families of the float riders complimentary grandstand seating just before the media/VIP area. Our grandstand got extra time with each float and band because they paused for several seconds in front of us to wait for their turn in front of the media. Being at the start vs. the end of the parade makes a difference — the floats are up, and everyone is fresh and perky, including the flowers. At the end of the parade route, everyone is tired, hardly anyone is waving or smiling and the floats are down (from having gone under the bridge) and many of the floats are being towed. Also, being there in person is a far better experience than watching it on TV. This year was really a special experience.

Honda’s “Ship of Dreams,” with Michael and Tony on the rear balcony

Michael and Tony

When we finally got home the afternoon of the 1st, I took a shower and crashed. I slept from 3:30 PM through to 9:30 AM on the 2nd. I think it’s safe to say we were all exhausted.

I’ll let pictures and video tell the rest of the story. Happy New Year, everyone!

Float Decorating VIP party pictures: Link to pictures

Photo album of the 2010 Rose Parade: Link to pictures

2010 Float Judging Ceremony, the Honda float was awarded the “Tournament Special Trophy”: Link to video

ABC’s coverage of the Honda float (about 2 minutes): Link to video

Welcome to 2010!

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Filed under Best Husband, Entertainment can be Cheap, I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile