Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday - The Christmas Version

I'm out of town all week for work, so a little late getting this done.  The theme this week is Christmas Songs. I love Christmas music, so it was a little hard to narrow it down to just 5 this week.

"Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Probably the hardest part of this week's selection process was picking just one song by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  I finally settled on this one because it just begs to be played loudly, and I love Carol of the Bells in general. If you don't have their albums in your Christmas music collection, run out and buy them now.  Better yet, if you live in one of the areas they haven't gotten to yet on their annual tour, run out and buy tickets, it will be one of the best shows you've ever seen!

"Ringing the Bells for Jim" - Johnny Cash

Just to let you know how old I am, I had this album on 8 track as a kid. I would play this song over and over and get teary eyed every single time.  

"The Little Drummer Boy" - Jars of Clay

The song is a classic, but this is one of my favorite versions of it. 

"Mr. Snow Miser/Mr. Heat Miser Song" - Dick Shawn/George S. Irving

Like many of my generation, Christmas memories include the Christmas cartoons that came on every year.  In a time when there were 4 channels and no DVRs these were highlights of the Christmas season.  The Year Without a Santa Claus is not shown much anymore, but I have always loved these songs. 

 "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" - Thurl Ravenscroft

No Christmas medley could be complete without the Grinch!  My favorite Dr. Seuss book, and favorite Christmas cartoon.  I try to watch it on TV every year even though I own it on DVD. Half the ornaments on my tree are Grinch ornaments.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 30

Today is November 30th, the last day of the month, and the last day of NaBloPoMo.  I have succeeded in blogging EVERY....SINGLE...DAY this month, yeah me!  I know it hasn't always been exciting, or even interesting I'm sure, but I've done it, and that's saying something.
I also found the yeahwrite community, and through that have found a lot of great new blogs to read.  I hope to keep blogging at least regularly, and maybe some day I'll write a post I feel is strong enough to submit to the challenge grid.
And I found Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday, which I plan to try to continue every week.  It's been a lot of fun wracking my brain for songs old and new to fit a theme.  And Jen's skewed view is great on days other than Tuesdays as well!

So I hope you found at least a day or two of interesting posts here, and that you'll check in again in the future.


Friday, November 29, 2013

What I've Been Up To

This is my new buddy Diesel.  He's an English Mastiff.  He belongs to the friends we  spent the day with yesterday and he's gigantic, and he's the sweetest, drooling, 170 pound teddy bear, and I love him. They also have another dog, Sasha.
But Diesel....
I love dogs, but I don't really want one right now.   We've had a couple over the years, and I miss having a dog when I'm at home.  What I don't miss is having to make arrangements to have them taken care of if we want to go out of town for a weekend, or even if we just want to do something after work without going home first.
Cats are much easier in that respect.  Just leave some food and water and they're good for a weekend.  If we're gone longer the neighbor comes in every couple of days to clean the litter box and make sure they haven't eaten all the food.  We'll probably have another dog someday though.

On a separate train of thought....I got a lot the the Christmas decorating done today.
The wreath is on the front deck, and the lights are up.  It's the first time I've put them up since we had the deck rebuilt a couple of years ago, so Rob had to go around and put in screws for me to use to hang them, but we got it all done.
I love the way it looks lit up, even if it does sort of make the house look like Saturn.  The tree is in the house and in the stand.  So far the kitten doesn't seem interested in anything other than the water in the stand, we'll see what happens when there are lights and ornaments all over it.

Tomorrow is college football with my family....Go Heels!...so that will take up most of the day. I hope to at least get the lights on the tree tomorrow night so I can put on ornaments Sunday and then the decorating will mostly be done.  Next weekend it will be time to tackle the Christmas cards.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Let the Holidays Begin!

Carolina Santas in the sun

The Carolina Santas are up, so that means the holiday season has begun!  At least in my home that's what it means.

Rob spent the morning hunting, so I started getting some of the Christmas decorations up.  My Carolina Santas are always one of the first things I put out because they make me smile.  So far, I've also got the wreath on the door, some bows on outside light fixtures and a Happy Holiday moose in the front flower bed.

But Rob's home (without a deer unfortunately) and it's time to get cleaned up, cook the green bean casserole, and head over to the home of some friends for some traditional Thanksgiving merriment.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  And if you needed any further proof that the holidays are here...my Christmas cactus bloomed this morning.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday - In Trouble

This week's Twisted Mix Tape Theme is songs about doing things that would get you in trouble if you did them in real life.

I don't know why it was so hard for me to come up with songs for this week.  I was just drawing a blank, and ended up having to resort to quizzing coworkers for suggestions, which finally kicked my brain in gear and I actually came up with 5 that weren't used by Jen to begin with.  Not my best list so far by any means, but it will work.

"Cocaine Blues" - Johnny Cash


Johnny Cash did a lot of shit in songs that would put you in prison.  Hell, half of his songs are about being in prison.  But I still love him.

"Life's Been Good" - The Eagles

"I live in hotels, tear out the walls..."  Let's face it, we'd get arrested for pulling that shit since we're not famous rock stars with accountants to pay for it all.

  "Life in the Fast Lane" - The Eagles

Yeah, this one's a bit of a reach, but there's "lines on the mirrors, lines on her face" so they're doing some cocaine in this song and that counts in my book.

 "Dead or Alive" - Journey 

A double secret agent paid to kill sounds like trouble to me.  But it doesn't sound so bad when Steve Perry sings about it does it?

"I Can't Drive 55" - Van Halen

 O.k., I admit it, I have a bit of a lead foot, so if any of these songs is true for me, this one is it. 

Thanks again to Jen for giving me something to write about today!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monotonous Monday

I've got nothing today.

It was a quiet day at work, a relaxing evening at home made even better by the fact that I had dinner in the crock pot so I didn't have to do much when I got home, and I've been trying to come up with something to write about for almost an hour now, with no luck.

The only interesting thing that has happened is the last 30 minutes when there was apparently a jester in my internet, because I could get to gmail and Facebook, but nothing else.  And no, it wasn't just cached pages I was accessing, I was able to actually post on Facebook, but Blogger, and several other random sites I tried wouldn't come up...."cannot find the server" said Firefox.

Rob and I discussed Christmas presents for various family members tonight.  It's the part of the holidays I like the least...deciding what to get for gifts.  Don't get me wrong, I love giving the gifts, it's the figuring out what to get someone that I hate, because I really want to get them something they will LOVE, and that's not always possible, especially when I have no clue what that is.  I personally love to get gift certificates to specific places, but I always feel like I'm copping out when I give them, like I didn't care enough to figure out something specific to purchase. 

That's my exciting day.  I'm not complaining, it was a pleasant day, just nothing to write about really, so that's what you get.

Here...I'll give you a picture...can you spot the cat?


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Adventures in Christmas Baking

In the interest of getting ahead for the holidays, I had two items on my list to get done in the kitchen today: 1) to get cheese biscuits made and in the freezer, and 2) to make up sausage balls and freeze them raw to be cooked closer to Christmas. The first one is done, but I'm not happy with the result, and I almost screwed the second one up too.  And the whole thing took at least 2 1/2 hours longer than it should have.

Unattractive Cheese Biscuits
I don't know what was up with the cheese biscuits, but I couldn't get the dough to be the right consistency.  I've made this things a gazillion times, but I've never had this problem.  The only thing I can imagine is that it's because I used real butter instead of margarine (although I could swear I've used real butter before).  The whole mess was just too soft and sticky. 
Gooey cheese biscuit makings

Balls of cheese biscuit dough
See those balls above?  See how they look all pointy and prickly, instead of smooth and round?  That's because they wouldn't stop sticking to my hands because it wasn't the right consistency.  I added a little extra flour, which helped a bit, but I was afraid to add too much and make them floury tasting.

I finally baked them all, and they're done, but I might break down and make another batch before Christmas actually rolls around.  I had counted on using some of these in gifts for the neighbors, but I'm embarrassed to send these out.

I got the ingredients for the sausage balls in the bowl and mixed up and started rolling the balls.  They didn't seem to be the right consistency either, and I was beginning to wonder if my attempts at holiday preparations were just going to be jinxed completely today.
Looks yummy right?
That's when it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't put in the bisquick.  There's not a lot in the recipe, but it's definitely needed to make everything stick together right.
Bisquick added
So I got the sausage ball mixture done and rolled lots of little balls and put them on cookie sheets.  The plan was to freeze them on the cookie sheets, then once they're good and frozen I put them in a ziploc bag and back in the freezer until I'm ready to cook them.

Yummy sausage balls in the freezer
 Did I mention we had to buy a new refrigerator this summer?  Yeah, well, we did, and the cookie sheet that used to fit on the top shelf of my old freezer still fit just fine, except the door wouldn't shut because of the way the ice maker takes up so much of the door on this fridge.
Grrrrr
Fortunately, a little rearranging fit that cookie sheet on a lower shelf and a smaller cookie sheet on the top shelf left enough room for the door to shut, or I would have lost it by that point.

I've exhausted my Christmas spirit for today.  I just hope this isn't a sign of the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where I Come From


We took a quick trip to my hometown today to pick up the fridge my parents were getting rid of so we can replace the even older one in our garage that we use for sodas, beer, and freezer overflow.  It's only an hour and a half away, so it only took a few hours, and my parents were at the crazy UNC football game that was going on today, so we just loaded it up and headed back down the road pretty quickly.

Reidsville is a small town in NC, just north of Greensboro, in the middle of nowhere, but 30 minutes from everywhere.  Growing up there, I couldn't wait to move to a bigger city, but as I got older I realized why my parents had made the decision to raise a family there.  There's just something about a small town.

The neighborhood I grew up in is a decent size, and there were plenty of kids, but when I think of my neighborhood, I really just think of Arbor Lane, the street I lived on, and Ridgewood Avenue, the street that made an "L" with my street.  On those two streets alone there were about 30 kids, most within a year or two of my age.

Of course that was also in the days when TV had 4 channels and there was no internet or video games so we spent hours at a time outside playing one thing or another.  We had bike trails in the woods, crawdads to catch in the creek, and piles of leaves to play in.  We had plenty of kids to make teams for baseball, basketball, or kickball and when it got too dark for that we played Ghost in the Graveyard or Kick the Can.

We had acorn fights that were vicious and neighborhood "wars" where no one really hated any one, but you chose a side, until it was time to choose another.  On the rare occasions it snowed in the winter we built snow forts and lobbed snowballs at each other, those had acorns in them too.

We never had "play dates" like kids do now.  There was no need.  If I wanted to play I walked outside and some one was always out there.  Hours could pass without our parents really having a clue as to where exactly we were or what we were doing.  Of course some parent on one of the streets always knew, so our parents didn't really have to worry.  When Mom wanted us to come home she rang the big dinner bell on the back porch and that was our signal.

Even as close as it is, I don't get there all that often.  There's always too much to do around my own home on weekends.  But every time I do, I think of growing up there, and as much as I may have wished to live somewhere else at the time, and I would probably never choose to live there again, I'm glad it's where I come from.

Who did you play with as a child?  Where do you come from?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Facebook Secret Peeping


I admit it, I'm a bit of a secret peeper on Facebook.  I have "friended" people that I knew years ago, solely for the purpose of seeing their pictures and finding out what they're lives are like now.  I don't really want to make them active friends in my real life, I'm just curious where they ended up. I'm not saying that all of my "friends" fit into that category, but some of them definitely do. 

I don't post a lot of Facebook, but I spend time there every day.  First, I have to play the game that I am ridiculously obsessed with (no it's not Candy Crush, although I play that a little too), but then I usually surf posts on my news feed looking at new pictures posted of some one's kids, vacation to the beach, or even their dinner.  I keep an eye on the "people you may know" list to see if someone I want to check out comes up.

Sometimes I don't even send a friend request.  A lot of people have their settings so that I can see their pictures and a lot of information without being "friends", and that's usually all I want to see.  Do they still look like I remember?  Are their kids cute?  Where do they live?

I have no desire to use this information in any way.  I don't even have anyone to gossip with about it, I'm just plain curious.  For instance, when the hell did all the heathens I went to high school with become so religious?  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against any one's Christian beliefs, it's just interesting to me how many people from my small high school class post daily Bible verses.

Then there are those people who will not cooperate with my desire to secret peep because they actually don't have a Facebook account.  For some reason I was thinking last night of a former friend who was a very good friend for a number of years.  For whatever reason, she stopped being my friend 10 years or so ago.  I say she stopped, because I tried to keep up the friendship for over a year, but she never seemed to reciprocate, so finally I just let it drop.  Last night I was just curious about what was going on in her life, but I can't find her or her husband (assuming they're still married) anywhere on Facebook.  I even did a basic Google search, but the only results were address, etc. that at least seem to indicate they still own the same house.

What struck me as most odd about this, is she is the one who first introduced me to the internet back in the days of dial-up.  I know that even in this time of technology everywhere, there are those who don't live their lives online, but even though I am very careful about what I post online, in one of those goose/gander moments, I find it very annoying when those people frustrate my desire to be a peeper.

Are you on Facebook?  How do you use Facebook?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Long Way of Saying Nothing

I've had a head cold most of the week, which is finally getting better, but after sitting in meetings most of the day my brain is not producing any brilliant ideas for a blog post.  I've been blog surfing for a bit trying to come up with an idea, and although I've read a few posts that have given me some ideas, those ideas all require more thought than I have the energy to expend at the moment.

That's the problem with trying to blog every day.  I don't think my life is quite exciting enough for daily blog posts.  Or maybe I'm just not skilled enough at seeing the little things in a day that can be expanded into a post.  That's one of the reasons I like to try NaBloPoMo every so often, because although I always end up with a couple of posts like this, it forces me to look for things in my every day life to write about.

That's also the reason I try to write in my personal journal every day or couple of days at least.  I find if I write every day I sometimes have very little to say, but if I wait a week or more to write in my journal, there is too much that's happened and I end up not wanting to spend the time to record it all.

So even though I've basically just explained why this post really says nothing at all, it counts as a post and day 21 is complete.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christmas is Coming

My pitiful fake tree from last year.
 It suddenly dawned on me tonight that Christmas is 5 weeks from today.  YIKES!

Yes, I've hauled all the decorations into the house, but I haven't begun decorating yet (mainly because it seems too early when Thanksgiving isn't even here yet).  Other than that, I've come up with very few gifts, and I'm starting to panic about finishing the one gift that I'm hand knitting this year.

Turns out our daughter and her fiance are coming home for Christmas, yeah!, so there will be people in the house.  We've invited my in-laws to come as well, still waiting to hear from them, and my parents will probably stop by sometime Christmas Day as well.

Time for me to get those lists finished and a plan together I guess.  I'm going to make a couple of goodies that freeze well this weekend to get ahead on the baking I want to do.  Also need to prod the kids again to send me gift ideas.

Thanksgiving weekend the decorating begins in earnest!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday - Cheaters Version

The theme this week for the Twisted Mix Tape is Cheating Songs.  There are so many to choose from, and as usual, country music offers a wide selection.  Unfortunately I used one of my favorites, "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood, last week, so here are the 5 I narrowed it down to for this week.

"The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" - Vicki Lawrence/Reba McEntire

Vicki Lawrence did this song first, but in a switch for me, I actually prefer the newer version done by Reba McEntire.  This could have easily fit in last week's category too.  Cheating wives better watch out for southern sisters!

"Ruby" - Kenny Rogers

 Loved me some Kenny Rogers when I was a kid, and I always thought Ruby was an uncaring bitch.


"The Thunder Rolls" - Garth Brooks

Another country song that speaks for itself.
 

 "Tempted" - Squeeze

I have to say, watching this video cracked me up.  This was the early, early days of music video.  I could have totally been one of those girls dancing (sort of) in the background! 

"Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" - Journey



 Saving the best for last, no mix is truly complete without my beloved Journey, and they don't disappoint with this song.  Another classic video that makes you wonder if men weren't always in pain in those tight pants.








Monday, November 18, 2013

More Math...A Bit of a Soapbox This Time



My kids think I'm a genius because I can do math in my head.   When they were kids looking to spend allowance money and I reminded them they would have to pay tax on an item, the question was always how much?  It always amazed them that I could calculate the tax amount in my head and add it to the purchase price to tell them how much the total would be.  I wasn't always right on the money, but I was usually within a couple of pennies of the actual amount.

 But I'm not really a genius.  I think most people my age can do something similar.  The difference between me and my kids is, I was taught how to do that, they weren't. 

When I do math in my head I do a combination of breaking down numbers and estimating.  Warning....math ahead....Say I need to figure out 6.5% tax on a $53.98 item.  I first round up to $54.00, because really, tax on .02 is nothing, then I break that down to $50 + $4 and I break the 6.5% down to 6% and 1/2%.  From that point there are a couple of ways to figure it out, but here's my most frequent one.  6% of $100 is 6.00, so 6% of $50 (1/2 of $100) is 1/2 of that = $3.00.  6% of $1.00 = .06 (6 cents), so 6 X 4 = 24 = .24 (24 cents), so 6% of $54 = $3.24.  Now that I've calculated that, to get the 1/2% I just have to say there are 12 1/2% to equal 6%, so 1/2% is 1/12 of the $3.24 I've already calculated, and $3.24 divided by 12 is 27, so add another .27 cents and the total tax is $3.51, add that to the original price of $53.98 and you have $57.49. (There's additional estimating I do mentally to add the numbers together, but I've probably bored you with enough math already).

That's a pretty convoluted example, but it gives you an idea what I'm talking about.  And while that took a bit of time to break down for explanation, it doesn't really take as long to do mentally because I don't have to explain it to my brain.

Most of you probably think I'm crazy about now, why not just use a calculator?  But you have to remember, my kids are grown, and phones didn't always have built in calculators.  And if you're over 40, you probably realize that even if you don't use this skill any more, you were probably taught to use the techniques I described above.

So here's my bit of a soapbox.....When did the old way become the bad way?  And why do they keep coming up with new ways to teach math, when it doesn't seem to be helping the kids learn how to do it any better?

My kids came home with math homework that made no sense to me because they seemed to be asking them to go around their ass to get to their brain to get the correct answer.  But heaven forbid they do it another way, because if the part where they "show their work" was different from the way they were trying to teach them it was wrong, even if the answer was correct and you could clearly see how it was achieved.

Now, NC has adopted this "Common Core", which apparently is totally different as well.  My oldest niece is in 4th grade and has done just fine in math until this year when they've apparently changed everything up on her and are telling her to do things differently.  There's some process with boxes and putting numbers in different boxes and I don't even begin to understand it.  Unfortunately, neither does my niece, and since it's totally new my brother and sister-in-law can't help her understand it either.

I admittedly do not not know anything about what "Common Core" involves, and I am not an educator, but no matter what you call it, I think if kids can learn how to do math in a way that comes out with the correct answer, let them do it that way rather than forcing them to learn a way that makes no sense to them.  Not every one's brain works the same. 

And don't even get me started on how early they introduce calculators these days.  I love some technology y'all, but I firmly believe kids need to learn how to do stuff without technology as well.  I mean seriously, what will they all do when the zombie apocalypse comes and all the technology is dead?  Then again, if that happens, maybe doing math will be the least of our worries.




Sunday, November 17, 2013

Do You See What I See?

What do you see?
What do you see in this picture?  Some sticks? Some leaves?

I spent the afternoon and evening babysitting my 3 nieces, ages 3, 7 & 9, and I was reminded again about the fabulous imagination of the young.

At what point do most of us lose the ability to look at the ordinary and see so much more?  When does it become important for everything we do and say to be believable?

My nieces can create a story with anything.  Barbie and Ken have wild adventures climbing Mount Bed Frame and the squeeze toy animals cavort  merrily at a party in the bathtub.

As a wannabe writer, I struggle to get even the words of a realistic story onto the page, but my nieces create stories out of sticks and leaves.  Maybe if I start looking at things a little more unrealistically it will free my imagination as well.

And that pile of sticks and leaves above...well it's a fairy house of course!  The purple leaves are the pillows on the beds, which are made of bark (that's hard to see in the picture).  The green leaf on top is the flag to show the fairies where it is, the rock is the door, and the green leaf in front is the doormat for them to wipe their feet before they enter.  All designs courtesy of a 3 year old, with a little help balancing sticks from Aunt Susan.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Numbers, Numbers, Everywhere


Since I told you yesterday about my built-in GPS system, today I thought I'd tell you about my weird ability to remember numbers.

First, let me way that I am NOT much of a math person beyond the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, division functions.  I'm not completely lost when it comes to math, but words are definitely more my thing.

That being said, I can't get rid of numbers in my head.  They stick there, without any effort from me.

  • The date I first met my husband
  • The phone numbers of my neighbors growing up
  • My first day of college in 1986
  • The date I graduated from law school
  • The addresses of not only my immediate family, but my aunts and uncles as well
  • How much I paid for dinner 2 weeks ago
These numbers all stay in my head.  Obviously the ones attached to more significant events or people stay longer, but if there's a number associated with something it will stay with me for at least some period of time.

Sometimes I wonder if all these numbers cluttering up my brain are the reason I can no longer remember names of people I've just met.


Friday, November 15, 2013

My Buit-in GPS


I was born with an innate sense of direction.  If I go somewhere once, I can get there again.  If I know approximately where something is, I can wind my way there and eventually arrive at my destination, I just seem to know which way to go.

If such a thing is genetic, I definitely inherited it from my father. When I was about 10 years old, my parents sold the trailer they had at Atlantic Beach, NC and bought a condo at North Myrtle Beach, SC.  The first 10 times we went to the new place, we never went the same way twice.  I can clearly remember Dad say "let's try this way!"  We always got there, and usually in about the same amount of time as any other route.

It always surprises me when people don't have any idea where they are, whether within a state, a city, or even a building.  I was at a meeting in another building yesterday, and they took us on a tour of the facilities afterward.  We wound down several halls and through several doors, and when it was time to leave one of the other attendees made a joke about the tour guide needing to lead us out of there.  But even though it was my first visit to that building, I knew exactly how to get back to the lobby, and even the quickest way without actually backtracking the way we had come.

I'm not above using the GPS on my phone.  I often do when I'm driving somewhere new.  But I tend to pull up the address on the GPS, see where it is, & then turn the GPS off again most of the time unless I'm in a completely unfamiliar area.  Rob, however, has no sense of direction.  The best gift I've ever given him is the Garmin GPS I gave him before cell phones all had them built in.  He would be lost (literally) without it.

We're always in a hurry these days to get where we're going, and a GPS can usually get us there the best and fastest way.  But there's something to be said for taking the long way, or the back road, that might take a little bit longer, and some days I just can't resist the urge to say "let's try this way!"


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Twisted Mix Tape Thursday

O.k., so it's really supposed to be Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday, but I'm a little behind in my blog reading so I just found out about it through My Story That I Like Best, who apparently found it through that cynking feeling who I also hadn't gotten to yet this week.



This week's theme is songs that tell a story, and boy did I have a time selecting only five.  Songs that tell a story are my favorite types of songs, but since I did have to narrow it down, here are some of my favorites, both new and old.  Not surprisingly, most of them are country songs.

"Don't Cry Joni" - Conway Twitty


My friend down the street had this record on a 45 and we must have played it a thousand times hanging out in her basement as kids.   I remember thinking how sad he must be that he realized he loved her too late.

"Teddy Bear" - Red Sovine


This song still brings tears to my eyes.  The thought of all those good-hearted truckers lining up to take him for a ride.  I thought CBs were the coolest thing as a kid and came up with all kinds of "handles" I'd use if I had one.

"I Hope They Get to Me in Time" - Darius Rucker


I love songs that not only have a story, but a message.  And Darius has one of the best voices I've ever heard.

"Before He Cheats" - Carrie Underwood


This is such a bad ass, take no shit, woman' song!  I would like to think I'd do this if I was ever in this situation, but in reality I would probably be too worried about getting arrested.

"Old City Bar" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra


I thought I'd throw a little Christmas in here since it's getting to be that time.  A lot of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's songs are story songs.  In fact, most of their albums are one big story.  If you have never seen them live, it's well worth the money.       

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cop Out Cat Photo

Darcy (left) and Gicho





I've been home from work today with a migraine, that's still hanging around.  Staying home tomorrow is not an option, so I'm counting this as a post and going to bed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Case of the Disappearing Order

Two weeks ago I ordered both a desktop computer and a tablet from Dell.  I ordered them online, at the same time, and in the SAME ORDER.  I quickly received an email confirming my order (so I thought) and showing what I had ordered, the price, tax, shipping, etc.

Fast forward to today, when I received an email that my "order" had shipped.  Except when I followed the link in the email I received conflicting messages.  It said my "complete order" had shipped, but the detailed listing on the shipment only showed the desktop, no tablet.

Now obviously, tablets are much smaller packages than desktops, so my first thought was that they had broken the order up into 2 orders for shipping purposes.  But I couldn't get Dell's website to show me any other part of my order and I wanted to be sure, so I called....which is when the fun began.

Several minutes on their website finally produced a phone number for ordering.  Of course the automated system that initially answered wanted to know what type of product I wanted to buy, but I finally came up with a series of words (i.e. just give me a live damn person) that got a response.  I politely explained to the first person somewhere in India that I just wanted to confirm an existing order, and was transferred to another person, also in India, to whom I explained the order I had placed, and the email regarding shipment I had received. 

After taking order number, customer number, name and address, and a promise to name my next dog after him, he finally informed me that he saw where I had ordered a desktop computer, but there was no tablet on my order.  What the ?!?!  So of course he transferred me to an "order specialist".

This next person (also in India) retook all my details and informed me again that I had not ordered a tablet.  Why then I asked, do I have an email that says I ordered both a desktop and a tablet? He asked for my order confirmation number...at which time I realized that the email I had received indicated that I would receive an order confirmation email within 24 hours.  Only problem was, I had never received an order confirmation email, therefore, no order confirmation number.  And therefore, as far as Dell is concerned, I never ordered a tablet.

So someone please explain to me how I ordered two items at the exact same time, in the exact same order, and received a NON-confirmation email indicating that I had ordered both items, but somehow I really only ordered one of those items?  I never received an email confirmation for the desktop computer, but they know that I ordered that.

So finally, I was transferred to yet another person (in the US this time) to re-order the tablet that I thought I had ordered two weeks ago.  I was admittedly fed up by this point and may or may not have been a little bitchy (who me?) to this guy when he first started talking.  I reordered the tablet, forwarded the guy the email I had received showing the price I was originally paying (because it was $40 cheaper than what he was quoting me today) and finally got it ordered, with a promise that it should ship tomorrow.  We'll see if I get a shipping notice tomorrow or not, but I damn sure got a confirmation email this time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

In Honor of Sacrifice

Today we honor those who serve and have served.  They have all sacrificed in some way to do so, whether it be giving up time with family, losing a limb, or death.

In honor of my husband, my father, my father-in-law, my son, my daughter-in-law, and countless other family and friends, I'm sharing a song that should remind us all of the respect they deserve.





Sunday, November 10, 2013

See the Turtle of Enormous Girth

It took several trips, but all of the Christmas decorations are now in the guest room.  Well, everything except the tree stand and the 5 foot wreath that goes on the front of the deck, I'll get those when it's time to use them.

While hauling all the boxes and containers out of the shed, I found this little guy. 

Given his state, I'm guessing he's been in there a while.  I imagine he snuck in there one of the times we left the shed open for a couple of days, and then got locked in.  We had some mouse poison in there too, so I'm not sure if he got into that or just died from lack of food and water.  I almost hope he got into the poison.

I've been listening to The Dark Tower series by Stephen King the last couple of weeks on my daily commute, so in a perfect example of the way my mind works....the first thing that popped into my head was that I'd killed the beam!

See the TURTLE of enormous girth!
On his shell he holds the earth.
His thought is slow but always kind;
He holds us all within his mind.
On his back all vows are made;
He sees the truth but mayn't aid.
He loves the land and loves the sea,
And even loves a child like me.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Silent Saturday









I expect to be away from a computer all day today, so I've scheduled this for your visual enjoyment.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Rockin' Robin



I've been playing with Twitter this week and trying to figure the whole thing out.  I created an account a couple of years ago in order to follow something that was going on at work, but I've never really used it.

I haven't actually tweeted (twitted?, twittered?) anything yet though.  I'm not sure I'm going to anytime soon either.  But it seems a lot of bloggers and some of my favorite writers tweet regularly, so I decided I should at least know how it all works.


But I can't seem to get this song out of my head....

Tweedle-lee-dee-dee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee, 
Tweedle-lee-dee-dee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee, 
Tweedle-lee-dee-dee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee, 
Tweet, Tweet, Tweet, Tweet

He rocks in the tree tops all day long
Hoppin' and a-boppin' and a-singing his song
All the little birds on Jaybird Street
Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

Rockin' robin, Tweet, Tweet, Tweet
 Rockin' robin,Tweet, tweedle-lee-dee
Go rockin' robin
'Cause we're really gonna rock tonight
Tweet, tweedle-lee-dee

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Christmas Planning


I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I've started thinking about Christmas. I spent the morning sitting in a meeting listening to presentations on IT funding, so in an effort to stay awake I started making lists and plans.  

Christmas hasn't felt quite like Christmas the past few years around my house.  For various reasons, we haven't had a real tree and I haven't done the decorating and baking I've always done before.  These are the things that make it "feel"  like Christmas to me, so I'm determined that this year will be different.

We had hoped our son and his family would be able to come home for Christmas this year, but it looks like the Army is not going to cooperate.  Although I'm sure we'll see them sometime around the holiday, our daughter and her fiance are still trying to figure out whether they're spending the actual holiday with us or his parents so it's possible that it will be just Rob and myself on Christmas Day.  I'm o.k. with that though, it's always been the lead up to and the preparation for the holiday that I enjoy. 

So I'm going ahead with my plan.  First on the list is to haul all the ornaments and decorations into the house from the shed, and start sorting.  I gave the kids most of their ornaments a couple of years ago, but I want to do another good sort through and get rid of some older ornaments that were fillers but have no sentimental value.  Hopefully I'll get them all brought in on Sunday, and can spend a little time each evening next week sorting through.

Second is to start baking.  Several of my traditional goodies can be made ahead, at least to a certain point if not completely, and frozen.  So in the two weekends before Thanksgiving I'm going to get a few of those done.  We're going to some friends' house for Thanksgiving dinner, so I don't have to do too much cooking for that.  

Putting up a tree Thanksgiving weekend has always felt a little early to me. But I'll be traveling for work the week after that and not home until Saturday, so it would probably be the weekend after that before I could really do it, and that's only a week and a half before Christmas.  I want to enjoy it longer than that, and Thanksgiving is late this year, so it will really only be up 3 weeks before, and that sounds just right to me. Rob isn't in to Christmas decorating so much, and is planning to hunt all Thanksgiving weekend, but hopefully I can get him to help me get a tree in the house on Friday after Thanksgiving and I can spend Saturday and Sunday decorating.

So that's the general plan, and now I just need to make a list of what I'm baking and Christmas gift ideas.   Maybe I'll do that in next week's meeting.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sometimes I Wonder


I know that there are obliviots in the world, but sometimes I just have to wonder what are people thinking (or not thinking I guess).

A couple of random events observed in the past few days.....
  • Cars parked in the traffic area at the grocery store, with engines running, and passengers sitting in the car, while the driver has gone inside.  What is so damned important that they couldn't park the car in a parking spot and walk an extra 100 feet?  They're not saving any time, and they're just creating a hassle for those of us actually trying to drive in the traffic area.  I may or may not have made this observation audibly as I walked past one of these cars on my way into the store. 
  • The man in the expensive suit in the lobby of my building this morning who was standing very, very, very close to the counter while he did something with his hands in the area of his zipper.  He was obviously trying to be discreet, and I couldn't tell exactly what he was doing, although I think he possibly was pulling his shirt tails down through the front of his pants as opposed to doing something lewd, but HELLO, there's a restroom 10 steps away where it's perfectly o.k. to unzip your pants and do whatever it is you need to do! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where I Create


One of the nice things about the kids growing up and moving out is all the space you get to reclaim.  My daughter's room is now the guest room, which allowed my husband to claim the former guest room in the basement as his wood storage and finishing room. 

My son's bedroom is now what I call my craft room, but it's really a library, my writing room, my calligraphy room, my yarn and fiber storage room, my spinning room, my blocking room, and room for any other craft I decide to take a stab at.

So using the BlogHer prompt for today, here's a little tour around my space.

This is my little writing space.  It's not usually this neat, but I did some organizing this weekend.  The bulletin board is a new addition, so I'm sure it will be filled up in no time!

It's actually a small sewing cabinet, but it works well for the space because it folds up and rolls away on wheels if needed. 
There's still a futon sofa in this room because it's a 2nd guest room if needed, which is why my desk needs to move easily.  This folds down into a double bed, that's actually quite comfortable.
The tall bookcase holds mostly knitting, crochet, spinning and tatting books, magazines, and patterns, plus some containers of tatting thread.  The smaller bookcase is calligraphy supplies, books and magazines about writing or to use as story fodder, and the extra notebooks that always seem to jump into my cart anytime I'm near office or school supplies.  The closet is where all the yarn and fiber is stored.  You just get a glimpse here, but there's plenty of it!  And finally, my spinning wheel sitting in the middle of the floor.
The library corner and also the vacuum cleaner storage at the moment until I figure out a better place to put them.We have other bookcases in the house, but we did a major book purge a couple of years ago and it's not nearly as bad as it used to be.

So that's my little space.  I dream of when we build our retirement home and I can design an ideal creative space, but this works for now.



Monday, November 4, 2013

My Reading Life


I just finished updating my 2013 Reading List to reflect the books I've read in the past month or so, and I've noticed a trend.  I've been reading a lot less this year and even more so in the past couple of months.

I've been pondering why that is, because I certainly haven't lost interest in reading and my "to be read' pile is taller than ever, and I'm o.k. with the answer.  It's because I've been spending more time with other interests as well, and that's a good thing.

I've mentioned before that I can become a bit obsessive about reading.  If you look back at my reading lists over the past couple of years (links in the sidebar) you'll see that most months I read a book every 2-3 days, and there were even some months that I read an entire book every single day.  While most of my reading is mystery/thriller, with some women's fiction thrown in, rather than meaty literary tomes that's still a lot of time spent reading. But there's only so much time in a day, and even though I only sleep 5-6 hours a night, I can only do so much in that time.

Of the free time I have, I've been knitting and I've now added spinning to my fiber arts.  I'm not very good at spinning yet, so I try to spend at least a little time on it most days. And I have so many knitting projects going at one time I often do a little on 2 or 3 different projects each day.  I'm also attending more fiber events with friends instead of sitting around reading every weekend.

I've also been writing more, and that's the best thing really.  I've been working on the first draft of the same novel for over 2 years now I think.  It's taking me so long because I haven't been writing consistently over those 2 years, but I finally seem to be making some regular progress, and I have high hopes that the first draft at least will be finished sometime in 2014.  I'm not even thinking beyond that point yet.

I have noticed that I tend to read more books in the months when my professional life is the busiest.  I think that's because reading is an escape of sorts, and a brain cleanse when I need to change tracks in my thinking.  It's also very portable, so I always have a book in my purse, and I can access more through the Kindle app on my phone.  So when work is crazy I will often read while I eat lunch at my desk, or even take 20 minutes after a day of non-stop meetings to read a bit of my book before tackling all the preparations for the next day's round of meetings.

So reading and books will always be a big part of my life.  I don't even count on my reading list the Audible.com books  I listen to daily on my hour long commute each morning and evening, so I will always have the stories.  But maybe my life is becoming a little more balanced, even as my TBR pile totters a little more from its growing height, and maybe one day someone will read one of my books.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Book Memories



This is the first "real" book I remember owning.  It was given to me by my first grade teacher, Miss Hooper, a rather corpulent lady who I loved dearly.  I don't remember much about first grade, but I remember that I thought Miss Hooper was the greatest person in the world, in part because she would let me read during nap time instead of actually trying to sleep, but mainly because she did her best to keep me entertained while the rest of the class learned to read.

I have no memory of learning to read.  Not of learning the alphabet or sounding out words like "dog" and "cat". I'm told that I was reading on my own by age three or so.  And reading has been a huge part of my life since that time.

My parents have been working on cleaning out years of saved items from mine and my siblings' childhood and my niece found this in a box of old books.  I'm sure that I owned other books before this, and I know I've owned thousands since, but this is the first one I remember loving.  I was so proud that Miss Hooper had given me such a wonderful gift, and I read it over and over again.

Periodically I try to go through my books and make some hard decisions about what to keep and what to pass on.  It's gut wrenching every time, because I would keep them all if space allowed.  But this is one that has earned a permanent place on my shelves.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Turning Leaves



I walked out my front door Thursday morning and overnight fall had arrived.  Well, the leaves had changed colors at least, the cooler temperatures are still up North somewhere I suppose.  Still, it looked like fall, even if it didn't quite feel like it.

Fall is probably my favorite time of year.  I love "football weather" when it's cold enough to wear a turtleneck and a sweater, but not really need a coat.  Maybe it's because I was born in October.  Maybe it's because I've always associated fall with football.  Maybe it's just because after a NC summer it's nice not to drip sweat the instant you walk outside.

Fall also gets me thinking about knitting something other than lace shawls.  Hat, glove, and even sweater patterns call my name and suddenly I'm convinced that I can knit them all in time to wear them before it gets warm again.

But this year, I know just what to do.  I bought the perfect skein of fall yarn last weekend and it's telling me it's time to wind it up and let it become a cowl.
Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Turning Leaves


Friday, November 1, 2013

NaBlo Blah, Blah, Blah




I've been seriously debating whether or not to do NaNoWriMo this year.  However, I'm finally making some progress on the novel I've been working on for the past couple of years, so I'm hesitant to stop that momentum and start something new.  I know some people fudge and just write 50,000 words on their current project for Nano, but that just takes some of the fun out of it for me.

So I've decided instead to sign up for NaBloPoMo for November.  Even though they do NaBloPoMo every month, November is sort of the "original" month.  Besides, coming up with something to write here everyday will keep me from obsessively reading the Nanowrimo forums and wishing I was participating.

I've also signed on to participate through Yeah Write and might be using some of their weekly challenge prompts and hopefully learning more about their community.

So if anyone is reading this...Beuller?...Beuller?...you'll have something from me every day this month.  How interesting or exciting it might be...well, that remains to be seen.