Category Archives: I'm Never too Old to Learn

XBox Monster

Yesterday, I walked in the house with William from a morning out at Tony’s parent’s house. A thunking noise greeted us. Concerned that a cat had somehow managed to finangle himself into the kitchen cabinets, despite the child proofing that we’ve done, I went in the kitchen to check. Because that’s what it sounded like.

But there were no cabinet doors rattling, or opening and closing in an agitated manner of failing to open fully. I called out one of our cats’ names and the thunking stopped. Huh. So I waited a minute and the thunking started again. William shared his take on it, with a scared sounding, “It’s a monster, mommy! Please, keep me safe!” Great, just great. And where the heck did he learn about monsters, anyway?

“No, William, there are no monsters. It’s just a cat. Can you help me find the cat who’s stuck somewhere?” I’ve learned, even if I don’t know for sure, to state such things with confidence and boldness. It’s easier to retract something than to leave it open for interpretation. He wandered off looking for the cat… I was pretty sure there was a monster in the house.

After much intermittent thunking, I finally isolated the sound to the locked area where Tony’s XBox is kept. I unlocked the cabinet cover and looked inside. Thankfully no frightened cat came out of there. No defecation or urine smells greeted me, either. (That’s really important in our house, because it seem as if we close any door that they think should be open, they poop in front of it, YAY CAT POOP!) In fact, there really wasn’t any room for anything alive to fit in there and the thunking sound had stopped again. While I was still fairly well mystified by this, since the sound had stopped and all the cats were accounted for, I decided we would just go on with our merry day.

Later, Tony came home and mentioned something about the XBox disc tray was opening and closing on its own for some weird reason, which was thunking on the cabinet door, which sounded like a monster… or a cat stuck in a cabinet.

But I still don’t know how William knows about monsters.

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Filed under I'm Never too Old to Learn, Our Kid is Cute

Petrified Things.

We found this sad little bird outside, clutched to a plant in our front yard. Hummingbirds are beautiful and I love them, but they sure are strange. I mean, what other creature’s heart beats as fast as a hummingbird’s? Or flies upwards like a helicopter? And how does a hummingbird just die, clutching a plant for dear life? From what, do you suppose? A heart attack? So many questions!

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That odd discovery was followed by this strange story. For dinner last week we had grilled hamburgers. There was one leftover and so it was put into a plastic bag. I decided to move things around in the fridge and it fell back behind the shelf. I heard it “plunk” and figured it had hit the shelf below. Upon investigating that shelf, it was nowhere to be seen. I looked up, I looked down, I stuck my hand behind and up. Nowhere.

I thought for a few seconds that I might actually have imagined the whole thing. Maybe there really hadn’t been leftovers. and then this rolled out of the shelf.
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I investigated further and discovered that the light of the fridge had a cover over it. A cover that curved so it misrepresented by its shape that something would hit it and roll down. But, no. Things hit it and land on it and live on it and die on it. Apparently. Unless encouraged to move along.

So the hamburger had hit the top of the shelf, dislodging the petrified tomato. How long had that tomato been there? Two years? Could that have possibly been the mystery smell we had a couple years ago?

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Filed under Blogabilities, I'm Never too Old to Learn

The Music Class.

I was surprised and tickled to find out that William’s music class, Music Together, was being held this week.  His class is held in our city’s civic center, so I fully expected it to be postponed since President’s Day is a holiday observed by the government and its branches.  Apparently, though, one lady in the entire building came by to unlock the doors for the class.

The class starts at 4:30pm on Mondays, so I normally get there around 5:00pm and am able to observe the last 15-20 minutes of the class. So the fact that he had class on a holiday meant that I got to take him, and participate with him in the class from the beginning.  I was even happier to be able to sit right next to the teacher.  William apparently liked that, too, because he didn’t roam at all (like he normally does).  Instead, he chose to either sit on my lap, or sit in front of me on the floor.  He watched the teacher intently and danced to the music.

There was a new student this week that I’ve not seen before.   A little boy with shaggy hair.  He was probably closer to 2, given how nimble he was on his feet.  He was roughly William’s size, although a little slimmer in the face.  He was wearing jeans and a blue plaid shirt.  Both his mom and dad were there, they had arrived about 10 minutes late.

The little boy was disruptive, running through the middle of the circle, out to the other side.  He was pulling at the plastic containers that held the various instruments and grabbing at people’s bags.  When his parents corrected him, he yelled in anger. When the instruments were made available to the kids, he would grab them from the others and scream and throw a tantrum if told to give the item back or if it were taken from him to be put away at the end of each song.

I felt bad for his parents…  was he a handful because that’s who he is?  Perhaps it’s just his age?  Maybe he didn’t get a nap?  I don’t know.  Everyone mostly tried to ignore him and his antics, including me.  I was really trying to enjoy the class.

And then, he decided that he wanted the shaker that William had, not even caring that there were a dozen other shakers just like it on the floor in front of William.  I was 3-4 feet behind them, not close enough to intervene quickly and I watched in horror as the kid ran up behind William and grabbed his hair. Twice.

William is too young to defend himself, and so I reached to shield William’s head, at the same time as the kid’s mom yelled her son’s name… but we were both too late. I rubbed William’s head and waited to see William’s reaction.  William simply turned and looked at him.  The kid grabbed the shaker William was holding and ran away.  William furrowed his brow, looked at his empty hand, looked at the kid and then… chose another instrument.

I was relieved but less relaxed. As the class continued, the kid became obsessed with whatever William was doing.  Maybe because William was about his size?  When it was instrument freestyle time, the teacher was even “dancing” with a hand protectively over William’s head, because that kid was circling William with a lollipop drum.  When the song ended, his parents took the instrument he was holding and put it back in the box.  The child spotted that William still had his shaker, and so he grabbed it from him. Since all the other instruments had been put away, William started to get upset.  I took the shaker back from the child and gave it back to William, just as his mom reprimanded him.  At this point, I was pretty stressed and just wanted to tell his parents to, “Please!  Hold onto your kid already!”

It finally came time for the ending song.  The teacher got her book and the kid ran up to her and grabbed her book.  She gently tried to pry it out of his hands, he started screaming.  She smiled and  “sang” to him, while looking at his parents for help, “I need my book. The song is new.  I don’t have it memorized yet…”  The parents rocked back and forth next to each other, smiling, from across the room.  So the teacher was on her own, with an unruly child who was verging on a tantrum, and a book that was scrunched up in his hands as they battled for possession.  I wondered how she was going to handle the situation.

She continued to smile, as she gently enfolded the little boy in a hug.  She hugged him tight and close as she sang, and the book emerged in her hand, victorious.  The little boy snuggled for a second, and then wiggled free and ran back to his parents.

Of course.  Love.  Gentleness.  A hug.  The teacher is a beautiful soul.  She just reminded me, through her actions, that kindness and love is sometimes the best recourse against frustration and tantrums.

It’s a good lesson, but I will also say, that kid better not pull my kid’s hair again.

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Filed under I did something Special, I'm Never too Old to Learn, Our Kid is Cute

Endangered Camera.

Several years ago, I invested in a waterproof camera.  It was state of the art, at the time, and I really enjoyed (and still do) snorkeling and water sports in general.  So the investment made sense, and the camera could be used above water, too.  It had the cool feature of changing picture sizes — meaning, I could get more fish in the picture just by rotating the dial.  The camera uses APS film, which used to cost about $8 for 3 rolls of 25 pictures on each roll.

I discovered a couple weeks ago that there was film still in the camera, so I figured I should finish the roll and get it developed.  And then we discovered, through Tony driving all over town, that photo labs no longer develop APS film.  Walmart, nope. Target, nope.  Costco thought they did, but then when I went to pick up the developed pictures, the employee handed me the roll of film and sadly told me that she didn’t realize it was APS film and they don’t develop it.  I searched Google and found out that CVS develops it.  I called first (a stroke of genius on my part), and learned that the ONLY CVS that develops APS film is way the heck over there in another city.

After picking up the pictures, the photo guy commiserated with me and told me I’d probably not be using the camera much longer because film for it is hard to come by.  Imagine my shock when I checked online and, horrors, the film is now upwards of $32 for three rolls of 25 pictures each.  Good grief!

I found one more package of the film in my desk drawer.  I’ll be using that up and then investing in a digital waterproof camera, I guess.

I’ve never felt so old.

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Filed under I Stimulate the Economy, I'm Never too Old to Learn

Something Special.

Yesterday, a Saturday, my alarm went off at 4:45am. It was no mistake, I had set my alarm for that time. On a Saturday. I rolled out of bed and put my swimsuit on, drove up the hill to the “upper pool.” As I slipped into the water, chilly at first as always, I swam my first lap and finished it with a backstroke. The moon was off to my left and a flash shot through the sky directly overhead.

A shooting star.

Instead of wishing upon the star, I used it as a reminder to pray for those who I know are struggling right now. There are so many. Wishes are hopeful, but prayer is action.

Forty minutes later I finished my swim and started my stretching routine, something that has become almost as important to me as the swim in the last couple of years. I carry my tension in my neck and shoulders, so if someone were watching me stretch, I probably look very strange to them at that point in time. I finished my neck and shoulders and moved on to stretch my hamstrings and calves. I looked up to the trees above the restrooms and saw a hummingbird dart into the open arms and waiting cloak of leaves of a tree that is at least 50 feet tall. Seconds later, a swarm of hummingbirds, at least 20, maybe 30, followed the first one in. I blinked, tilted my head. I’ve never seen that many hummingbirds in one grouping and I know they’re territorial, but there is no doubt — indeed, they were what they were. Three or four stragglers darted to join the party a minute later. I smiled.

That was, hands down, one of the best stretching sessions I’ve ever had. What a way to start the day!

Not long after that, we were on the road to Disneyland for the “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” tour of Disneyland. I didn’t even know such a tour existed until recently, and given our love for Disneyland, decided it might be a nice anniversary gift to ourselves.

But first! We rode in a horse drawn streetcart down Main Street — pulled by a Clydesdale named Danny! I even took a video of it, if you want to watch. You can be thankful that I turned the video off seconds before Danny pooped. The reason you can be thankful for that is because we were in the first bench seat and had an awesome view of the whole occurrence. (Click to see video.)

Now, back to the “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” tour.

One of the most comprehensive reviews I found about the tour is here (link). On our tour, our guide was really good about finding shade and places for us to sit while she shared her narrative of the various places — it was one of the hottest days so far this summer. So hot, in fact, that around 11:15 am she obtained permission from her supervisor to remove her hat (kind of a big deal in Disneyland)! She was also personable and sweet. I kept thinking she reminded me of someone, with her proper posture and enunciation, and I finally placed it when one of the characters walked by: Mary Poppins! She didn’t LOOK like Mary Poppins, but she had that kind of demeanor. It was kind of cool.

One of the highlights of the tour for us was hanging out in the side path alongside the castle for shade (it’s kind of a short tunnel) heading into Fantasyland and, who knew, but a ton of the characters and Disney Band pass through that tunnel at 11:30 am for a show in front of the Castle — and we were right there!

We left Disneyland around 1:30pm (after they served us lunch and gave us a commemorative pin) and we felt as if we learned several new things about Disneyland, saw a couple behind-the-scenes places we hadn’t seen before AND had fun. If you want something the “normal” guest doesn’t do, and want to learn a lot of stuff about Walt Disney and Disneyland’s history, it’s definitely a tour I would recommend. Great value for the money spent.

The takeaway impression I was left with, through many of the stories that were weaved throughout the tour about Walt Disney was, that no matter how weird or strange or crazy your goal or vision might be, or the amount of time or even the amount of money it may take to get you there, or how complicated or badly things may appear to be going, or how many setbacks or judgments you face, if you focus on that goal and never give up — realizing that you may have to get creative about how you go about it — you will ultimately find a way a way to make your dream come true.
(Click to view larger size…)

Because some goals and dreams are simply *that good* that they shouldn’t ever be given up.

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Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, I Stimulate the Economy, I'm Never too Old to Learn

Right Direction.

Tony had a coupon from Chick-Fil-A, a restaurant that we’ve come to really like for their healthier chicken food than other places. The coupon for tonight was to buy an adult meal and get a kid’s chicken nugget meal free. Since I’m a small eater, the coupon was perfect for our needs — he gets the adult meal, I got yummy chicken nuggets. Real chicken, too, not that processed crap that other places serve.

In my kid’s meal a toy was included. Tony asked what toy I got. Holding up the as of yet unwrapped plastic-encased plastic toy, I replied, “I don’t know… looks kind of like handcuffs to me.” He raised an eyebrow, I grinned. I knew just how incongruous that sounded. Turns out the “handcuffs” were actually a compass, although they kind of look like Mickey Mouse ears all unfolded like that.

We played with the wobbly kid compass for awhile and I learned that, all this time, I thought north and south were this way and that way based on the way the major freeway runs past these parts. Apparently “true” north is a smidge further this way and “true” south is a smidge further that way… which makes perfect smidgey sense given the direction the sun comes up and sets every day.

Which then reminded me that I recently discovered a freeway on ramp where, if I want to go northbound on one freeway (which I always do), I have to get on a southbound freeway for just a bit to get to the northbound freeway. Which just seems so counter-intuitive to me. Who goes south to go north?

I’m learning that’s kind of how life is these days. Counter-intuitive. To go the right way, you have to go a completely different direction than you originally intended.

Flowers from my back yard.

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Filed under I'm Never too Old to Learn, Sometimes Thinking Exhausts Me

Long Weekend Ahead?

I’ve walked around all day today thinking that it’s Wednesday. Freaking out when someone asked me to schedule something for Thursday morning and thinking it’s TOMORROW. Yikes.

My car got two new shoes this morning. I was getting tired of testing my driving skills on slick pavement when it rained. The two that needed replacement were on the rear on a rear wheel drive car. Can you say “fishtailing”? Me neither, but I sure was driving that way.

While waiting for my car, I discovered a Starbucks gift card in my purse and, wouldn’t you know, there was a Starbucks across the parking lot!

I waited for my coffee, just people watching. The gal running the cash register and the two people making the drinks had a great system, and even though the line was long, it moved really quickly.

A fellow who was also waiting started to sit down in the chair sharing my table, and then realized that I was there already. He paused in an awkward half sitting, half standing position, so I laughed and said, “Go ahead and have a seat!” He grinned and shared that he’d called ahead for two gallons of coffee, but they had forgotten to make them. I said, “Uh ohhh…” He said, “Yeah. That’s OK, life’s too short to get upset over something like this.”

I replied that was very true. My mind flashed back to an experience I’d had a few months ago when someone got really upset because she wasn’t first in line to the newly opened cash register. The guy in front of us ushered her to the front of the line and told her, “You know, ma’am, life’s just way too short to be so upset over something so meaningless.”

Today’s person apologized and said, “Maybe that sounds too philosophical…” I replied, “That’s OK, there comes a point in people’s lives when I think it’s appropriate to be philosophical and realize that you have to prioritize everything, even the things you choose to get upset over… and it’s important to realize it IS a choice.”

And all this before my cup of coffee, mind you.

Is it no wonder I felt like it was already Wednesday?

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Filed under I ♥ My Miata, I Stimulate the Economy, I'm Never too Old to Learn, 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

Different Muscles.

I attended the aquatic class at the gym tonight. It’s free with our membership and it’s something I’ve kind of wanted to do for awhile, but haven’t because, “I’m working.” I have a list, sort of, of things like that.

So, hear ye, hear ye, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at our gym, there is an hour long aquatic exercise class. I know about these classes because when I swim laps at the gym, we lap swimmers aren’t allowed in the pool at that time. The reason I was interested in trying the class is because the few times I showed up before the class was over, I waited beside the pool watching them, and I was impressed by the stretching exercises the instructor was presenting.

Stretching before and after swimming is something I really need to be more diligent about doing.

Ummm, here’s the thing. I thought I was in shape. I mean, I know I’m in shape. I can swim laps, with different stroke types, for over an hour and barely even get winded. My arms are defined, lung capacity expanded, blah blah blah.

But tonight? Tonight, I am sore. Not “I just hiked Half Dome in a day!” kind of sore, that is the holy grail of being sore for me, but I’m sore enough to notice. Huh. *shakes head*

I know, from overheard conversations, that a few of the attendees have had surgery or are recovering from injuries and are there are doctor’s orders. But, really, why they all don’t have the physique of Greek gods or goddesses is beyond me.

Anyway, my sore muscles hereby promise that we will never diss that class again. Ever.

In fact, I might go back.

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I'm Never too Old to Learn, Mermaid Envy

Desk Projects.

We had a crazy night last week (or was it the week before last? Time, it’s a blur…) when the cat access door to the garage was accidentally left blocked overnight. The significance of that is, that’s where they go to take care of their “delicate” necessities. Since their access was blocked, clean-up was a necessity in the house the next morning and our losses included the kitchen rug and the batting from their purple pillow. The batting replacement required a trip to the crafty-land of Michael’s.

Michael’s is a place I like to wander through and “ooohhhh” and “awwwww” over things. Much like fireworks. I think they’re beautiful and well arranged, but have no idea nor desire (usually) to figure out how to do what I’m supposed to do with the stuff.

But this time I had a mission. I had to conquer something.

I needed to replace the batting in their pillow, which I found for $3.27 on the back wall of the store. Then I remembered that I needed a coaster for my desk. I searched and found the picture coasters that Noonie suggested in the comments of this post, but they were sold in a package of four for $12. Even with my 40% off coupon, that was enough to make me feel non-committal about them. So, I carried them around for awhile, like they were a very expensive doll that I wanted but couldn’t afford. I thought and thought while carrying them.

I happened to wander over to the bare frame and wood pieces section and thought to myself, “Cork board. I wonder if they have cork board?” Why, yes, they did. Four 6×6″ squares for $6, minus 40%, equals a reasonable price. Yay!

When I got home, I got to work.

First I grabbed the biggest cup I will be using, and used the base as a guide for how big around the coaster should be.

Then I grabbed my mouse pad for the pattern.

And photocopied it on the reduction setting. Then I cut out the outer parts on half of the pattern to use as a stencil.

I put my stencil on the cork board, grabbed my permanent marker and blackened the “outer” sections I’d cut out and then used my mad art skillz to draw in the “inner” details. Tony says there’s a scary face in that drawing, but I shrug his fears off because I’m not a scared little ninny like he is.

The other project I did was install a notebook arm inside my rolltop desk. This required that I make the cord hole a bit larger so the clamp of the arm would have something to clamp onto. That involved drills and saws and measurements, only to realize after I was all done with my hole making, that the clamp part of it easily disassembled and the hole didn’t need to be all THAT big, so the project really shouldn’t have been as complicated and manly as I made it out to be.

Oh! And check out the cubby hole area that I previously opened up (off to the right side of the picture). Remember how I pulled the frame off to give myself some working room? Well, turned out the sides of the cubby were unfinished, since they weren’t ever expected to be seen by the light of day. Since I didn’t want to go to all the trouble to finish it, I came up with the idea to glue a large scroll pattern over the unfinished area. I think it looks great!

And to wrap it all up, replacing the batting was really no big deal and the kitties love their clean, puffy, purple pillow with the new batting in it.

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Filed under I Stimulate the Economy, I'm Never too Old to Learn, Time Consumers