30 January, 2010

Bird Watching

It's what we do!

And why are Kilo and Milo so fascinated? They're watching our new friend Harley fishing on the edge of the pond.

Why the name Harley? Well, mostly because I'm bird-ignorant and have no clue what type of bird Harley is. Also, because the feathers on his head look like a tied bandanna. Harley, it seems, is a biker bird. He weathered the gray afternoon out here today, mostly hunkered down against the cold rain.

Harley stops by fairly often, and is one of my favorite birds to watch. I am beyond fascinated with the way his (her?) neck curves, and the long crest feathers on the head.

In other bird news, Scott and I watched a snake bird the other day catch and eat a fish that was at least three times the size of its head. Those things have a flip-top jaw and necks that stretch like one of those egg-swallowing snakes. It was neat, but I found myself swallowing really hard - sympathy swallowing I guess - for a while after.

Eventually I'll figure out what all these birds are. There's always something new stopping by for a drink or a fish.

25 January, 2010

Helping Out

This Haiti thing is almost too much to bear. For me (and I guess for lots of other people), it's just too hard to watch much coverage anymore. My brain is doing that Zoloft thing - too much sadness = immediate need for change of subject. That said, I'm aware that we're not that far away from the site of one of the worst natural disasters in history.

Scott and I had the opportunity on Friday night to volunteer on the phones during the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon. After 2 1/2 hours of answering calls and taking tons of money (our call center alone took 15,000 calls!), our throats were raw and we were exhausted, but in a good way. And all the way home, we told each other about the crazy calls we had gotten. And most people seemed to not even mind that I wasn't a celebrity. I took donations for $5-500, and most were in the $10-30 range. I spoke to kids (with a parent in the background), and grandparents donating on behalf of their grandkids. I talked to people from Florida to Canada to California. They all had trouble getting through on the phones, and yet they were still happy to give me their money. It was really awesome.

The parent company of The Restaurant offered us the opportunity to make a one-time payroll deduction to the Red Cross last week. It coincided with 8 hours of holiday pay for MLK day, so I decided to donate my holiday pay. Of course, Red Cross isn't my favorite charity, so I gave $25 out of my paycheck and will be donating the rest to Doctors Without Borders on Thursday when I get paid for last week.

I know that I haven't done or given everything I possibly could. But I know that I helped. And if everybody out there helps just a little bit, then maybe those people down there will have water and food and safe housing soon.

Who Hasn't Almost Killed Their Kid At Least Once?

I read an interesting story in the Sentinel yesterday. Here's the highlights:

An infant in Pasco County was scalded because his mother reportedly tried to spray a spider off him with hot water...

The sheriff's office reports that the 27-year-old mother saw a spider in the tub as she prepared to give her baby a bath. When she tried to wash it down the drain, it jumped on her son. She then grabbed the baby and put him under the running water to get the spider off.

The water was too hot, the baby got scalded, he was treated and released, and a Deputy came to the house to make sure the water heater was turned down.

When I relayed the story to Scott, and got to the part about them turning the water heater down, he asked "did they turn the stupid down too?" But really, I think this is the kind of thing that every parent has done at least once. Heck, I consider myself lucky to have made it to my third birthday! And actually, I think this mom and my mom have a lot in common. Obviously they're both afraid of bugs!

Scene: mother holding baby while standing on the patio next to their pool. A bee lands on the mother's arm, and her response is to flail her arm (dropping baby), and then run into the house and close the door behind her. The baby? She's still on the patio!

Another scene: parents washing the car decide to place baby's walker on a nice soft pile of sand in their front lawn (since the grass is so itchy). The baby is fussy pretty much from the moment they walk away. Parents discover a while later that the soft pile of sand was a fire ant mound and that the baby's legs are covered in bites.

See? All parents do stupid things. It's part of being a parent. And it gives their adult children something to blog about. C'mon...who else wants to share a "this is how my parents almost killed me" story?

(disclaimer: I'm only looking for funny stories)

22 January, 2010

My Hope for Late Night TV

I hope Conan makes a deal with Fox. I genuinely believe that the young viewers (you know - the ones advertisers covet) will flock to him and that Leno and Letterman will split the older viewers. But you know, I hope that enough people who were lukewarm on Leno before will be so annoyed with NBC that they watch Letterman instead.

Personally, I doubt I'll watch the Tonight Show any time soon. I know better than to say "never," but I don't intend to watch that show until Leno has properly retired and they've banned him from the building.

21 January, 2010

Warning Label

WARNING: This product may cause you to react violently. You should not drive or operate machinery until you know what it will do to you. You should probably avoid people, too. Just to be safe.

Coffee should have a warning label. Not one of those lame McDonalds "this product may be hot" labels, but one like they put on medications. The "you might lose your hair or bleed from your nipples" type of warning label.

After my one cup of coffee at Mimi's yesterday at breakfast (corned beef hash is good for the soul), the waitress offered me a cup to-go. And she brought out a cup slightly smaller than the large Chick-fil-A buckets-o-tea. So I added my 3 sugars and no cream and went on about my day. I nursed that cup of coffee for at least an hour, driving to the chiropractor's office, driving from there to run some other errands, and finally driving to work.

I know my brain was getting buzz-y about the time I called and left a really long voicemail for my mom. I was thinking, "woah...I talk FAST!"

By the time I sat down at work, I was in full-on jitters. It started out as "hahaha... caffeeeeeeeeeeeeine!" but shortly turned into (actual direct quote), "I CAN'T TYPE A CAPITAL F!" Literally. Every time I tried to type "F," my fingers were making "Gf." It took me 4 or 5 tries to get it right.

In school, they teach you that marijuana is a gateway drug. I wouldn't know about that. I can tell you for sure though that for someone who rarely drinks coffee, it's really fun to spend a few hours on an artificial high. I get the appeal. That's why I rarely drink it. And also why I rarely drink alcohol. It's fun to be a lightweight. That's why today I'm sticking with cran-apple juice. It's definitely more my speed!

18 January, 2010


Last night's dinner: chicken pot pie.
Dessert: banana tart.

What's the big deal? I freaking cooked all of it from scratch! Scott cooked the chicken and chopped the vegetables for me, but I cooked it! I sauteed, I boiled, I baked, and I made PIE CRUST! (yes, it was just an excuse to eat more pie crust, I admit it)

...and it was damn good. It wasn't perfect, but it was a great jumping off point. And I know every single ingredient that went into it.

The banana tart was sort of just leftovers - the pie crust scraps rolled out into an amoeba shape and filled with 2 will-be-rotten-tomorrow bananas tossed with some melted butter and brown sugar. It wasn't pretty, but I'm seriously trying to figure out why people don't eat banana pie!

Well, I should stop patting myself on the back so I can go unload the dishwasher. What gets cooked must be cleaned!

17 January, 2010

Making People Uncomfortable Since 1979

It's what I do!

Yesterday at work I had the same conversation with two completely separate groups of people: two acquaintances from the front desk, and two friends from The Restaurant. Basically, I was trying to rally other people to come and audition for a role in a show for a character who happens to be black. (Sorry, really don't know whether her lineage is from Africa) Of course, this is funny because none of us are black.

I pointed out to both groups (c'mon...when you have good material, don't you re-use it?) that I was just as likely to get this part as I was to get any Disney Princess role. And in my best squeaky little kid voice, I looked up and said, "Cinderella, you got FAT!"

This is one of those situations when, had I said "ugly" or "old," that I probably would have been met by a chorus of "no you're not..." But obviously I'm overweight. And though I thought it was funny (and Scott belly laughed when I recounted this story to him), apparently other people aren't willing to also acknowledge this fact. (true story - I just mistyped 'fact' as 'fat')

Anyway, I'm sorry I made anyone uncomfortable. I'll add Jokes About My Weight to the list of categories not to bring up in front of work people.

(I still think it was funny)

13 January, 2010

Team Conan

I doubt there's anything I could add to the Leno-Conan debate that hasn't been said elsewhere, but for what it's worth:

Jay Leno is pulling a Brett Favre. The difference is when Favre flip-flopped on his retirement plans, the Packers honored the commitment they had made to their replacement quarterback. That NBC is short-sighted enough to not understand that some day the young demographic that watches Conan will be the majority, and that people who can tolerate Jay Leno are dying off or just can't stay up that late anymore, boggles my mind. And even if they don't understand that, they should at least honor the agreement they made with Conan. And Leno should retire gracefully and go play with his cars.

Conan's statement yesterday exhibited what a class act he is. And it also reminded me that this is an incredibly smart (Harvard-educated) man who also happens to be funny. To tell the truth, I was surprised that he said he wouldn't do the 12:05 show that NBC was offering. I really thought that all of the players would just shift and make room at the table for Crazy Uncle Jay. I don't blame him though. When your boss makes promises he's not willing to keep, it shows you just who you're really working for. I don't think I'd want to work for NBC either, knowing the complete lack of character they are displaying right now.

If I actually watched any NBC shows, I'd consider boycotting. Moot point though - I pretty much stopped watching NBC when Friends ended.

12 January, 2010

Delicate Flour

I have 10 minutes until I have to leave the house, and I haven't yet packed dinner for tonight, so please pardon my brevity as I stop to pat myself on the back.

I made biscuits this morning - from scratch(!) - and in the process I started a new bag of all-purpose flour. Why is this noteworthy? Well you see, we brought a canister of AP flour when we moved that had been in the apartment longer than either of us could remember. It smelled a little off, so consider the shelf life of flour. I think it's maybe the second bag we've had since we got married. I finished off the old flour in my inaugural/experimental batch of sugar cookies back in the beginning of December.

And I finished off the new bag of flour this morning.

That's FIVE POUNDS of flour in just about a month!

That's eight or ten dozen sugar cookies for Christmas gifts and snacks, a few rounds of Amish friendship bread, two apple pies, and some other odds and ends.

Anyway, wow! Who knew a stand mixer and some counter space would completely change my cooking philosophy? I think the current five pound bag will last a little longer. But those biscuits this morning were awfully tasty...

11 January, 2010

Frost (Doesn't) Bite

On may way from my car to the office yesterday morning, I saw frost on the grass. And I couldn't believe what I was seeing. So I stepped on the grass. It crunched under my feet.

I almost cried.

It turns out for a (it's-not-my-home-anymore-but-I'm-still) homesick NJ transplant, frost can be every bit as wonderful as snow. It brought back a flood of memories I wasn't expecting. While snow reminds me of sledding and snowball fights and other fun things, frost brought me back to waiting for the school bus and other normal every day activities.

And now that I've seen the frost again (they say there might be some tomorrow morning because there's not going to be wind tonight), I'm ready for some nice moderate 60-degree weather.

10 January, 2010

Uncontrolled Laughter

Scott's car wouldn't start this morning, so I got an unexpected wake-up call at 4 am to drive him to work. It wasn't such a bad drive - no cars on the road, and I got to pick the tunes. On the way, we happened to go past the "Mile 10" sign for the Disney Marathon (hmm... that might explain the early shift...). There I was in the car wearing my running pants (the poor things - they're the least-utilized athletic pants ever), a zip-up sweatshirt, flip-flops (don't judge - we park in the garage and I wasn't going to be outside), and unbrushed hair and I got all excited. "Quick! I'm going to get out and you can take my picture in front of the sign. We'll have to crop out my feet though, because of the flip flops." Yeah, because the footwear would be the only unrealistic thing about that picture! Maybe it's because I'm amped up on Coke and adrenaline, but I thought that was the funniest thing I'd heard in at least 12 hours. I chuckled about it all the way home. Scott, on the other hand, was not amused. I understand though. He's worried about his baby. He'll laugh tomorrow.

My only regret is that I didn't get the photo.

Perhaps now you're wondering what could have been funnier than that yesterday. I worked day shift answering calls yesterday, and was slammed. It was a long and stressful day, and towards the end I was pretty much praying for a few minutes of down time between calls so that I could catch my breath. I was talking to a man and was annoyed while booking his reservation because there was a woman close to him speaking at what I can best describe as bad-cell-phone-volume. As it turns out, they were in the car and she was having her own phone conversation. We got to the point where I was explaining to him why I needed a credit card number and what we would be charging, and all of a sudden Loud Woman says, "Have you asked for an enema? You'll feel better."


I paused, mostly out of shock, and the guy snorted. And once I knew it was ok to laugh, I couldn't stop myself. It was Sudden Onset Laugh Syndrome, the kind that comes when you try to hold it in, and then all of a sudden your eyes are watering and you can't breathe and all you can do is laugh. Through my laughter, I did hear him explain that she was talking to someone in the hospital, and cracking up while he explained to his wife that he was on the phone with a business. I apologized for my complete and total lack of professionalism, and managed to pull it together long enough to finish booking the reservation before hanging up and explaining to the office full of people why I was laughing so hard. While still laughing.

I don't really know if either of those stories is even funny to someone who isn't me, but hey - this is one of those blog posts I'll find a few years from now and most likely laugh again. Sometimes that's what matters most. Now if you'll excuse me, it's 10 minutes until I have to wake up. I'm going to not go back to sleep.

08 January, 2010

Another Post About the Future of My Powder Room

Please try to contain your enthusiasm until the end of the post!

Back during NaBloPoMo (November edition), I shared a photo of some paint chips and some other design choices we were considering for the downstairs bathroom. What I didn't mention was that we were skewing the bathroom theme a little towards Japanese. Really, it's not supposed to be like a Zen garden or anything (not that that wouldn't be cool...) - just simple and elegant, and really dark purple. Basically, the only addition to the room (after the light fixture, which has cool pagoda lines) was going to be a single white orchid (fake, obviously) in a simple container on the back of the toilet.

Did you catch the "was?"

Yeah...this is why Scott and I shouldn't go to World Market:

I guess it's not that far from the original design idea. Instead of a single orchid, now it's a single cherry blossom branch. With a very yellow background. I loved it. And Scott says he loves it, though I'm never really sure whether or not he's placating me. The print itself was cheap. I imagine framing it will not be. Have you seen the shape of this thing?!?

And though you can't tell from the pictures above and below (because of the fact that my camera does not like CF light bulbs), that print is going to look un-be-freaking-lieveable on the dark purple wall. (also, no, it's not going to live on the sink - that's just where the paint chips are stuck)

I think it's almost time to buy the light fixture and the paint and get cracking on project #1!

05 January, 2010

Volunteer Spirit

If you love the Muppets as much as I do, I bet you'll enjoy spending time on the website for Disney's new volunteer-and-we'll-give-you-a-park-ticket campaign. Plus, if you go, you get a nifty video for your own website. (and if you're really lucky, it'll actually play the video!)

I was reading through volunteer opportunities in the area, and I'm trying to set up some time to do office-type stuff for Harbor House. I'll let you know how it goes if I hear back from them.