30 April, 2010


Well, we went and spent our free money at Sports Authority, and only ended up spending $18 of our own money. That was pretty sweet! We bought:

  • a handlebar bag for me
  • 2 sweet water bottles (no BPA and dishwasher safe)
  • a bike lock with a cable long enough to secure both bikes
  • a bottle holder for Scott
  • a portable tire pump
  • ceiling hooks to hang the bikes (we think we're going to mount them under the neighbor's stairs where they will be easier to get down)
  • a padded seat for Scott (the one his bike came with was sort of...utilitarian)

I think that's it. Of course, Scott's got an OT shift tonight, and I have one next week. By the time we're both off, it'll be 95 degrees out! Even if that's the case, we'll just have to get up and go early in the morning when it's "only" 80.

And thus concludes this month's NaBloPoMo entries. I'm going to try to keep going next month, because writing every day is therapeutic in its own weird way. And I know I've never gone 2 months in a row before...

Wish me luck!

29 April, 2010

Shopping for Free

Scott and I are going back to Sports Authority tomorrow to spend our $100 "free money" we got for buying our bikes. I definitely want to get an air pump and locks. After that, I've got no clue what we should buy.

I'd so much rather have a $100 certificate for clothes or World Market, but beggars can't be choosers!

Anyone have any good ideas for purchases?

28 April, 2010


Lucky me! Snapfish came out with a promotion - 50% off collage posters - just in time for me to create my own bird-spotting guide! Here's what I came up with:

Before you judge my placement of the photos, know that I spent 45 minutes hitting 'shuffle photos' again and again trying to come up with something that didn't tweak my OCD. They let you pick out the pictures, and then they place them for you. As you can imagine, that was challenging!

While I wanted to include the otters and the alligator, I didn't want them to be focal points. And at one point (this may have been when Scott almost removed me from my seat), the bottom row of birds were all facing left except for one facing right. *twitch* At least the way this one is set up, they're in all different directions.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. The poster size is 16"x20", and hopefully we can find a frame for it and hang it downstairs right next to the sliding door. It's not much of a bird spotting guide, since there's no labels, but I'll probably print a small legend to hang next to it. We'll see.

Now I can't wait for it to come in the mail!

27 April, 2010


This is a pretty terrible picture, taken with my camera phone in the noontime bright sun.

It's a magnolia tree outside The Hotel, and it's absolutely covered in buds.

I hope they all bloom at the same time.

Won't that make a fabulous follow-up post?


I'm surrounded by cats right now. I've got Kilo on my lap sucking on his foot, Milo on the back of the couch, and Elphie was in front of Scott's couch, but now she has disappeared.

I guess that means I'm not actually surrounded...but still feeling smothered!

26 April, 2010

Yes, Please!

Scott and I made the decision a while ago - sometime between bringing Elphie home and moving - that we can't seriously consider getting any dog while Milo is still around. He adapts to change worse than any pet I've ever had, and when he's unhappy, we're unhappy. (or we're laughing at him for being a jerk...but mostly it's stressful for everyone)

If it were possible for me to bring home a dog today, it would definitely be a greyhound. I've wanted one ever since I was in high school and I met my Aunt Toni's dog. He was the sweetest thing ever. Plus, I'd never buy a dog from a pet store or breeder, so it's basically this or a shelter dog. Scott wants a little short dog, but this is what I want!

...and if I could bring one home today, it would be "Honey Bun." Not just for her name - she just looks like she'd be a good friend.

Here's the link to the local Greyhound Pets of America, in case you want to window shop for a fantasy dog of your own, or would like more information on why you really want one of these dogs!

25 April, 2010

Nature vs Nurture

One of the nicest things about living in a condo-type dwelling is that someone else takes care of our grass and flowerbeds. Scott and I discovered long ago that the only flowering plant we didn't kill was the basil, and that doesn't really count!

This flower to the left was planted outside our front door. I don't know what it is, but it seems to be in the daffodil/iris family. I bet that last sentence sounded really stupid to anyone who knows anything about flowers. Luckily for me, ignorance is bliss!

Amazingly enough, this isn't the only flower we have right now. It's the only type in the flowerbed, but we've also got two very different flowers blooming out in the pond...

Pardon me while I photo-geek out on the fact that you can see the spider web in the last picture!

I'm a huge fan of the wild flowers, but I'm glad we have the other ones too. And I appreciate the happy accident that lead to them all being coordinating colors!

24 April, 2010

Potato Salad Humor

For Easter, one of the husband-wife teams at The Restaurant made a buffet spread for the rest of us. There was a ham and a bunch of different sides, and it was the best Easter dinner I've ever had. (the ham was a Honey-Baked Ham, which Scott dislikes, but I'll find a way to have it again somehow...) The surprise favorite of almost everyone was the potato salad. It was the most delicious potato salad I've ever had. It was so light and fluffy you could've eaten a pound of it. And most of us tried!

So after dreaming of this potato salad for a while, I finally asked the guy who made it for the recipe. He said he found it in a Southern Living cookbook and picked it because he had the correct ingredients at home already. But since he had so many compliments, he's going to start telling people it's his secret family recipe. Luckily for me (and you), he was willing to share the recipe. I got it by e-mail yesterday...

Here's the super secret family recipe brought over from Ireland and passed down and tweaked by all of my southern ancestors with some suggestions made by General Sherman as he passed through on his way to Atlanta. The recipe was stolen by Jean Lafitte the pirate but was recovered in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong who returned it to my grandmother (I'd rather not say how they knew each other. Let's just say he liked her "cookin").

I've made notes as to what brand of ingredients I used but of course make it with whatever you like.

Southern-Style Potato Salad

You can substitute light mayonnaise and sour cream with good results.

Yield: Makes 8 servings

4 pounds potatoes (about 4 large) (I used Yukon Gold Potatoes)
3 hard-cooked eggs, grated
1 cup mayonnaise ( Used Dukes brand. Closest flavor to homemade mayo)
1/2 cup sour cream (Daisey's. All natural. lovely flavor)
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon mustard (Guldons Spicy Brown)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (Didn't use this time but I will next time. Who doesn't love bacon?)
Garnishes: chopped fresh parsley, grape tomatoes

Cook potatoes in boiling water to cover 40 minutes or until tender; drain and cool. Peel potatoes, and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Stir together potatoes and eggs.

Stir together mayonnaise and next 7 ingredients; gently stir into potato mixture. Cover and chill. Sprinkle with bacon just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

23 April, 2010


Neither of the B&B's that I really liked online were available, and I took that as a sign.

We talked about it this morning, and Scott and I decided to put off our big vacation to Moab until this time next year, when we're hopefully in much better shape than we are now. The idea of hiking the trails of Arches or Canyonlands in my current lack of shape... I just think we'll get more out of it later on.

Make no mistake though, I will get to Dead Horse Point State Park before I die. I need to see this in person!
(plus, there's a brewery that makes "Dead Horse Ale" - you know we need that pint glass for our collection!!)

Don't feel sad for us. We're still going to GTFOH, we're just not sure where yet! One of the online travel sites - I think Travelocity - does last-minute discount packages all over the country. So depending on what's cheap, we're probably going to aim for the mid-Atlantic - NYC, Philly, or DC - for a long weekend.

22 April, 2010

Biker Gang

Who wants to join my biker gang?

That's right baby - I got a bike! Scott got a bike too, but I can't find it on the internet. And we bought a car rack for them. We got them home in one piece, and then took them for a quick test-loop through the last undeveloped bit of our development. Everything seems to be in working order. I'm looking forward to getting out for a ride that lasts longer than 3 minutes.

I can't wait to get out on the West Orange Trail and maybe even Ft. Wilderness (combine an afternoon of bike riding with a buffet lunch of fried chicken and pulled evens out, right?).

We can't really get safely outside our development without loading the bikes onto the car because our closest major road is under construction and we don't want to die. So while I'd love to say we're going to bike to the store or some other Earth-conscious claim, right now it would be a big fat lie.

Our purchase entitled us to a $100 shopping card that's valid next week. At that point, we'll get locks and a pump and whatever else we can get for free. Maybe a backpack for our vacation.

Picture(s?) to come...probably tomorrow...

21 April, 2010

Death and Dismemberment

It's open hunting season here at Casa ParkHopper. As you can see, one of my little hunters is less into the swift and painless death than the Princess Bride "Pit of Despair" version.

Wait, no, that's the wrong Princess Bride reference:

Prince Humperdinck: First things first, to the death.
Westley: No. To the pain.
Prince Humperdinck: I don't think I'm quite familiar with that phrase.
Westley: I'll explain and I'll use small words so that you'll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon.
Prince Humperdinck: That may be the first time in my life a man has dared insult me.
Westley: It won't be the last. To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my tongue I suppose, I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight.
Westley: I wasn't finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my ears, I understand let's get on with it.
Westley: WRONG. Your ears you keep and I'll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, "Dear God! What is that thing," will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.

That just about sums it up. I've got a dismembered cricket - yes cricket, and don't anyone dare try to tell me otherwise - under my dining room table and I'm too grossed out to touch it. If only my little hunters killed for food instead of sport...

20 April, 2010

Not For Sale

Look! I made art!

This used to be a plain white tissue box holder sitting on my desk at work. And then I realized there was a Sharpie in my pencil cup. I intended to cover one side completely in my own weird filigree pattern, but stopped with just a partial border.

It looked so pretty that I did another side.

And then it looked so pretty... that I put the Sharpie back in the cup and vowed to not mess with it anymore.

...but I really want to mess with it some more!

While I was doing this, I thought how much fun it would be to do that on light switch covers. Just a little pop of design on an otherwise blank surface. Maybe I'll go to Lowe's and buy a plain one, paint it purple, and find a metallic silver pen to doodle with. That sounds like a pretty cheap arts & crafts project. And hey - if it works, even better! I'll stick it in the powder room.

19 April, 2010

Math and Money Monday

I'm not really good with interest rates, so I'm hoping someone can check my math here:

Scott and I have been bouncing around the idea of taking $4,000 of our new home buyer tax credit and dumping it straight back into our mortgage. Our interest rate is 5%. So 5% of 4,000 is 200. Now this is the part where I'm fuzzy. That's 5% annually, right? So $200 per year over 30 years is a savings of $6,000?

That's a lot of money!

A quick look at our most recent mortgage statement shows me that only $172 of our monthly mortgage payment actually goes to the principal, with 4x that much going to interest and the rest going into the tax/insurance escrow account. So $4,000 is like 23 months of principal payments. Right? Wow, that's insanity!

Plus, when we can afford to do so, I over-pay by $150-200 each month, and that goes to principal. So...if I do that every month, does that mean our 30-year mortgage would be paid off in 15? That can't be right!

I'm done geeking out with numbers. If I'm way off, will someone please let me know I shouldn't be so excited? Thanks!

Things That Make Me Go Stabby

Attention Parents: please stop screwing with libraries. Please don't ask the librarians to wade into the murky gray area of "inappropriate." (I love the smell of mixed metaphors in the morning!)

LEESBURG – A Leesburg mother who successfully challenged the young-adult book policy at the Leesburg Public Library is expanding her campaign, hoping to get warning labels placed on some books in libraries across the county.

Dixie Fechtel recently got the backing of Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal-advocacy group in Maitland. She's asking Lake County commissioners and library officials to label objectionable books aimed at middle- and high-school students.

Fechtel and another Leesburg mother, Diane Venetta, are targeting books that Fechtel says are "glorifying illegal behavior."

"What we're talking about here [are books] depicting a lifestyle that just doesn't work if they're going to be the leaders of our nation," she said. "It's a shame that we as a community are feeding [teens] this kind of garbage."

One of the books that started the mom on her quest was a "Gossip Girl" novel. Umm...hello? You didn't know that was going to be inappropriate (and crap) just by the title? Apparently she's already managed to somehow convince the Leesburg library to label some Young Adult books "high school" and put them on a special shelf in the YA section. The kicker? Kids aren't restricted from checking out any book in the section. So now you've just made it easier for the kids to find books about drugs and sex. Just go to the "high school" section!

Look, I was a precocious kid and a voracious reader when I was little. I was reading Sweet Valley High books when I was in the 4th grade. That's inappropriate subject material! You know what? It didn't turn me into anything bad.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom in Chicago, said labeling books would put a burden on libraries and force librarians to act as parents.

"The whole issue of rating content gets into the rat's nest of who decides what's too much, what's too little, what is banned and what is not," she said. "What it comes down to is: It's the parent's decision."

So why not simply ask the parents to be parents? Why not expect them to talk to their children and know what they are reading and watching on TV? Why not use the books with questionable themes as a learning opportunity? Oh yeah, because it's easy to ask the librarians (whose funds and staffing have been cut all over the country, but that's another story) to parent your children for you.

Maybe these moms got their ideas from a book that should be marked for its questionable content!

18 April, 2010

Window(s) Shopping

I recently discovered a site where I find myself alternating between "wow, I really need that!" and "wow, they really think someone is going to buy that?" It's Etsy. Etsy makes it really fun to window shop with their "pounce" function. It basically shuffles through the sellers, so even if you don't know what you want to look at, you'll figure it out.

Case in point: I need one of these. Scott agrees. Tell me you don't need one too!

I also just found out that there's a giveaway going on for one of those adorable aprons here. You know I'm entering that!!

17 April, 2010


The little dietitian who lives inside my brain has decided to kill herself, since it's obvious she's going to continue to be unheeded. Taco dip for lunch, Arby's for dinner, chocolate cake for breakfast... it's like I'm a walking billboard for poor life decisions!

In my defense, Scott and I spent most of this week eating the leftovers from our grill party last weekend. And to further my defense, we brought 2 (nearly) whole cakes to our respective workplaces, and neither of us ate a slice.

Right now, Scott is starting to grill/cook our meat for the week. If there's room in the fridge, I'm going to make a few less-bad-than-taco-dip sides, including okra-tash (it's like succotash, but just okra and corn) and couscous. My hope is that I manage to avoid ALL fast food for the next 7 days, and that I eat at least one green vegetable per day. And maybe start my day with a glass of juice. And maybe not eat when I get home at 10:30 pm.

...but let's not go crazy. For now, green vegetables and no fast food. My insides thank me in advance. And maybe I can get the little dietitian off of suicide watch!

16 April, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

(or the chalk-covered hands of little yellow boys...either way...)

Don't ask. Because I might be tempted to tell you. In an elevated voice. With many expletives.

15 April, 2010

Rookwood Red

I found out that Sherwin Williams has a fun little app on its website that allows you to upload a picture of a room and experiment with different paint colors. After 1/2 hour and every shade of the rainbow, Scott and I are still fond of the first color I clicked on.

The area under the microwave is left intentionally white, for an eventual white tile backsplash (yeah, boring, but not with a crazy-dark color on the walls).

So what do you think? I like it because it matches my stand mixer! (nope, you can't see the stand mixer past the other stuff on the counter. you'll have to take my word for it)


Let me start by just saying this: Google Ads, please stop looking at my cookies!

I was doing a little online research for a hypothetical vacation I'm planning to [the coolest place ever, OMG the pictures I'm going to come back with!] before work this morning. I was bouncing between Travelocity, Hotwire, and generic internet searches for hotels in the vicinity of [the coolest place ever, OMG the pictures I'm going to come back with!].

What a coincidence that, as I was going through various blogs this evening, I kept seeing the same ad for La Quinta popping up on sidebars. This happened to me once before that I was actually aware of, when I was window-shopping for faucets and then all of a sudden the same faucet I had clicked on on suddenly appeared in a banner ad, and then another banner ad, and another.

I suppose it's really smart marketing. In this case though, it's kind of ridiculous. I checked into it - the La Quinta Inn in [the coolest place ever, OMG the pictures I'm going to come back with!] is $199/night. I think I'd rather stick with a bed & breakfast for half that, even if it means Scott will have to grit his teeth and play nice with strangers.

As for [the coolest place ever, OMG the pictures I'm going to come back with!], I don't want to give it away quite yet. For now, I'll just tell you that it's somewhere in the map below:

By the way, it's not that I'm being coy. I mean, I guess I am. But right now this is one of those things that seems full of magic and adventure, and it's all mine and Scott's. Once I tell the rest of the world, then it's like we have to share with everyone else. And politely accept input. And pretend we care that {insert obscure relative here} once planned to go there, but {broke/ruptured/sprained} {his/her} {body part} and had to cancel the trip.

Plus, it's a pretty major trip that I'm basically hypothetically planning with a month-ish window. I may get overwhelmed and decide to just get a plane/hotel/car package deal to a major city - NY, DC, and Chicago top that "b" list.

Oh, and I can't share too much, lest we get robbed while we're on vacation like all those morons who advertise all sorts of personal crap on the internet. I could quite possibly be one of those morons. But I'm really trying hard not to be.

14 April, 2010

Pond Log III: Leaving the Pond

Guess who's sunbathing rightthisveryminute behind the house!!!

Those first two pictures were taken from the bedroom, through the screen. In order to get this next picture I had to run downstairs, open the blinds on the glass door, and stand on a chair!

Somehow, he seems less menacing lounging in the grass than he does lurking under water.

Anyway, I'm about to be late for work. TTFN!

New Toy

Elphie says hi. See?
Sure, this isn't a great photo. I'd argue that it isn't even a good photo. But I took it with the webcam built in to the new netbook.
The netbook, a.k.a. "vacation computer," is tiny. The keyboard is cramped, though positively enormous compared to attempting to type on my cell phone. The screen is big enough for casual web surfing or video watching, though I wouldn't want to have to actually work on it.
Anyway, you should be glad that all you have is a still picture of could've just as easily been a video of Scott and Milo asleep on the couch! Perhaps I should take one of them to bed now. G'night!

13 April, 2010

Houston, We Have a Problem

Cute little ducklings, right? Sadly, we may never know how cute, because the only photo editing software that came with this computer was PAINT!

It's not really a crisis. I mean, it's not a crisis at all. It just means either I'll have to throw myself on the mercy of online photo editing software or find the CDs that are probably in the closet in this very room. The printer came with a program that lets you do layers and all sorts of fun stuff. Not it's just a matter of finding it!
Anyway, thanks to Scott for taking this picture while I was trapped at work. He thinks, given their extremely small size, that the nest must be around our pond somewhere. If that's the case, I worry about their chances of survival, considering not just the alligator(s), but the hawks and eagles in the area as well. I count at least 6 of them up there... it'll be cool if they stick around and I get to watch them grow up. Plus, Scott really has an affinity for the ducks. They might be his favorite of all the pond birds.

12 April, 2010

Writer's Block

So...not only can I not think of anything to say today, I don't even have the luxury of pictures on the hard drive to fall back on. So here's a clip from last weekend's Saturday Night Live. Sure, this is definitely a cheaty-pants post, but you've got to admit it's hilarious!

11 April, 2010

Last Blog with Mary Jane

This will be my last blog on the old computer, thus the weird post title. And because I am incredibly tired this morning, but had to be awake for the FOUR HOUR 8-noon Geek Squad window (you'd think geeks would be better at scheduling!), here's some pictures of my cats:

Some more fun with perspective from Elphie and Kilo...only this time she does look smaller than she actually is. Also, yesterday someone said our stair rail looked like it came straight out of an Escher painting. I'm pretty sure she was referring to that part where Elphie is!

Milo contemplates the cranes. One of these guys came up 3 feet from me while I was taking pictures. Cool? Yes. Scary? Hell yes! Those things could peck my boobs out! (not quite tall enough to reach the eyes) I think Milo got enough of an up-close view of them to realize he was out-matched.

Also, now that I've gotten some good pictures of the sand hill cranes, I think I have a full collection of bird pictures and can now put together my own bird-spotting guide. But of course, part of me thinks I should wait until Fall so that I know I've seen the entire year's worth of birds.

10 April, 2010


I'm too scattered to sit down and write all about how exciting it was last night to stand at the screen door and watch a great blue heron.

Enthralling, right?

Well, long story short, the heron was walking way up away from the water, which spooked the cats. I've never seen them with their feet on dry land! So I watched it walk about 10 feet, ruffling its feathers and walking really strangely. The bird was spooked too! So we thought maybe the pond log was back. And we kept seeing something in the water. It just didn't seem alligator-like to us, but we weren't sure. And then the heron walked into the marsh and neither of us could bear to turn away, thinking the poor thing was about to be eaten by the dinosaur in the water.

So that's basically why we were watching. At some point, I tore myself away to grab my camera, since the heron was in a place with a near-perfect reflection of itself shining back. By the time I got the camera, I missed that picture, but came close with another one:
I dig symmetry! So about the time I took that picture, I had two simultaneous problems: the batteries in the camera were dying, and the memory card was full. So I stopped taking pictures. And then the heron lunged into the water - I really thought the gator got it - and came back up with a fish. I was standing there with my camera and couldn't take a picture!
And then, maybe 2 minutes later, a snake bird popped out the water with one of those big fat catfish, but the catfish got away.
So I changed the batteries and deleted some old pictures, but by that time the heron had moved on down the shore to another patch of marsh. And that's when the weird lump in the reeds popped back up.
Can you see it above? The reason we thought it was a turtle or a frog at first is because there was only one lump sticking out of the water. Usually with an alligator, you'll see the eyes and the nose sticking up. Keep in mind that picture above was taken with my camera on the highest zoom. It's much more visible than to the naked eye. And it wasn't until I did some photo cropping this morning that I saw the tiny nostrils, barely visible above the surface:
I'm still not sure whether this itty bitty alligator was hunting the heron or spooked by it, but either way it made for some excitement out back! And all of a sudden I'm dreading the idea that at some point I'm going to see one of my birds as the prey instead of the predator. I'm also secretly hoping that I can take pictures of it. Hopefully that doesn't make me a bad person!

Morning Rituals

In the morning, I always take a look out at the pond while I'm brushing my teeth just to see if there's anything cool out there. Yesterday, it was the Pond Log, swimming merrily along right below the surface. He disappeared after the lawn guy went by. Scott says they don't like the vibrations.

Really, he's only 3-4 feet long. Without any frame of reference in the photo, it looks like he could be twice that length. Except you can tell he's got a tiny little snout.

Also, Elphie inevitably stands guard outside the bedroom door, waiting for someone going out to let her in. It's because she's so cute we can't bear to say no. And she always jumps up on the bed for some petting from whomever is handy. First thing in the morning is NOT cuddle time. Pet her or prepare for the nagging meows to start. Still, she's adorable. We really can't resist!

...and though it looks like Scott is crushing her in this picture, you'll have to take my word that this is her " my belly!" time. It's her freakish non-cat-like habit. What other cat do you know who begs to have their belly rubbed (and the ones who lay on their backs daring you to pet their bellies don't count)?

These are the simple things in my day that make me smile.

09 April, 2010

Evolution of a Facebook Self-Portrait

We took the side roads up to the hairdresser this morning. On the way up, pre-haircut, I noticed we were driving past miles of orange trees in full blossom. I opened the window wide and stuck my face out so that I could drink as much of the smell in as possible. Yes, Scott was driving. You can't stick your head out when you're in the driver's seat!

On the way back home, we went the same way and I did the same thing. I noticed that while I had my face out the window, I was holding me feet up. It was like I was flying. Through orange blossom air. Ahhhh.... That's when I noticed my hair in the side mirror...

Sadly, I'm just not artistic enough to pull off the proper composition of the side mirror photo. So I held the phone with both hands and tried again, concentrating on not letting the phone fly out of my iron grip!

Crazy hair? CHECK! Smile or appropriate goofy face? Not so much. Third time's the charm, right?Yep, third time's the charm! The hair doesn't look quite as awesome as in the second picture, but the face is the perfect mixture of joy and insanity. I mentioned the other day on Twitter that I was high on orange blossoms. Obviously, I meant it!

Please ignore my face in this last picture. It's the best one so far of the new 'do. It was actually taken after the photos above, which has got to be the mark of a great haircut - survival! You can't really tell how short it is here, but trust me when I say I actually had to suppress a panic attack in the chair from about the halfway point of the cutting until the end of the blow drying.

I like it though, and I'm curious to see what it looks like tomorrow when I have to style it myself! I told Scott that it's like 'grown-up hair,' and I think that's the best description I can muster for right now.

Funny About Money

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may already know this story. I got notification of my raise this week. Also, I got notification that I am topped-out in my pay grade. Actually, I wasn't so much 'notified' as told that I was getting a six cent per hour raise. And when I questioned why, with a first-rate evaluation, I was only getting six cents, I was told I was topped out. Surprise!

For those of you doing the quick math, my raise will cover less than one gallon of gas per week. Slightly longer math reveals that I'll be making an extra $124.80 annually before taxes.

It certainly doesn't cover the rise in my health insurance premiums this year. It doesn't cover inflation. And in my book, it's a big fat insult.

To his credit, my boss is making a half-assed attempt to have my pay grade changed. Technically, right now I'm a clerk. If he can have me bumped up to coordinator, the pay will be slightly better. Realistically, if this decision is made by the same bean counters who refuse to adequately staff our location, I think it's unlikely that they're going to change my status.

Ironically enough, my past two jobs are both hiring this week. I got an email from a former co-worker (to be fair, he sent it to 5 other people too) pointing out that they were hiring and to PLEASE consider coming back. He also told me that the starting pay is nearly $1 more per hour than what I'm making now.

There are a lot of reasons why I left that location. Most of it had to do with negativity. A lot of the people there are miserable and just working for a paycheck. And a lot of my job was handling angry yelling people on the phone. But I was good at it. And even with zero seniority, I'd be a part of a team with multiple members and therefore able to actually take vacation or use sick pay without having to beg someone else to cover for me.

So...irony or fate? I have a week to decide, but right now I'm leaning towards applying. What's the worst that could happen?

08 April, 2010

Return of Pond Log

The other day, I was upstairs getting ready to shower when I did my standard look-for-interesting-birds-out-the-window peek. And then I ran to get the camera!

No birds today, and you can see why! Logic dictates that this is the same alligator that we saw swimming the other day, but this one really looks smaller to me. So who knows? Maybe we have a bunch swimming through the area. Anyway, obviously I wasn't getting a good picture from upstairs because of the screen. So I ran downstairs and took the next picture from inside the house, but with the screen door open.

Scott, helpful chap that he is, was in the living room at the time and offered to go get a better (closer) picture for me. If I gave him my pants. See, Scott was wearing boxers and unlike our neighbors, chooses to keep his bits hidden from view.

So I gave him my pants.

There he was, walking out of the house in my multi-color (but mostly pink) striped pajama bottoms. I would've gotten a picture, except he had the camera! Sadly, he got less than five feet from the back door when the gator slipped back into the water.

While bad news for future photos, it's good news for us. This thing is still as wild as they come, and it's not going to be sniffing around for burgers or cats. At least not this year. It's cool though, getting to be all nonchalant about an alligator just a few paces from the back door. It's certainly not anything I ever expected when I was growing up!

07 April, 2010

Forced Perspective?

No, no optical illusion here. The cat in the front really is that much bigger than the one in the back!

Actually, I took the picture because I thought it was rather freakish that these two were laying in nearly identical positions (aside from their tails). Meanwhile, Milo was laying on the back of the couch yelling at me for leaning over him to take the picture.

06 April, 2010

Tweet Little Movie Reviews

Since I’m not really great at movie reviews, but seem to be watching a fair number via HBO and HBO On Demand, I thought I’d take the chance to share a few mini-reviews with you. Each is Twitter-length (140 characters) or shorter, not including the movie title.

Marley and Me
OMG I can’t remember the last time I cried so hard. The trailer/commercials billed this as a comedy! Great, but BOO false advertising!

Get Smart
The movie was as enjoyable as the TV show! Complete with explosions, plenty of LOL moments, and The Rock, it’s a comedy I’d watch again.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
2 hours of my life I’ll never get back. Not funny despite some A-list cast. Michael Douglas should’ve retired after The American President!

Moulin Rouge
Saw it before, own the DVD, still love it. And I cry every time I watch it. And did I mention the music? A+

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
Cute family movie with colorful cast including Tucci, Breslin, and Joan Cusack. Watch it with a kid, not quite enough to bother adults with.

Temple Grandin
Just watched 'Temple Grandin.' If you don't have HBO, find a friend who does and borrow their living room for 2 hours. Totally worth it.

(I really did tweet that last one)

I saw this morning that Changeling popped in to the on demand listing, so I'm sure to watch that some time soon, despite the fact that it stars that husband-stealing baby-collecting Angelina Jolie. Has anyone else seen any movies recently worth a 140-character review?

05 April, 2010


Scene: Saturday afternoon, Jamie is on the couch watching TV while Scott is preparing to season his new grill (a process which requires burning a lot of charcoal for a long time, and which has no burgers at the end).

Scott goes outside to... do something involving the grill, and promptly comes right back in.

SCOTT: I draw the line at men sunbathing in the "back yard"

JAMIE: Is it Kirk? (our nickname for the guy who lives next door. the one with the pit bull, who sings 70s prom music at the top of his lungs, and slams his door all the time because he apparently doesn't understand physics)

SCOTT: (shaken) I don't know who it was.

JAMIE: Is he out on his chair?

SCOTT: He's on a lawn chair spread-eagle.

JAMIE: So? Go back out and finish what you are doing.

SCOTT: No way I'm going back out there! I saw testicle once, NEVER AGAIN!

JAMIE: You saw ball?!?!?

SCOTT: He's got his knees up, his legs spread, and his shorts are baggy!

A few minutes later, someone shirtless walks past our window having a conversation with someone we can't see. Scott peeks out and tells me the gator is back in the pond.

JAMIE: Take my camera and go get a picture!

SCOTT: No! There's still a half-naked man out there!

JAMIE: But I'm not wearing a bra. By the time I get decent, it'll be gone.

All that to say this photo would've been so much better had there not been a rogue testicle behind our house: ...and the sunbather wasn't Kirk. It was some guy we'd never seen before. Apparently there's renters on the other side of Kirk. I'm assuming that's who it was.

DISCLAIMER: this might not have been the exact conversation...but all the relevant bits (heh heh... 'bits!') are there.

04 April, 2010

Easter Pie

I still haven't mastered the art of the beautiful crust, but who cares?

This isn't really an Easter pie. I made it last month, but never published the picture. (the pie, of course, was eaten) Anyway, happy Easter. Have a Cadbury (caramel) Egg for me!

03 April, 2010

VISA: Secured

You know your credit card has good security features when you make a big-ticket purchase and they are calling you before you even leave the store to make sure your credit card is still in your possession!

Actually, we made two big-ticket purchases. We finally bought Scott's Man-Grill (when you see it, you'll understand the title). And we finally replaced our slow-beyond-comprehension PC.

The grill is assembled. (I won't tell you about the DRAMA of going into Lowe's to find it's out of stock, and then finding out it's in stock, and then finding out it's not really in stock, and then finding out it's in stock but not put away correctly, and then finally getting it and forgetting to use the $25 off coupon in my purse, and then finding out it wouldn't fit in Scott's trunk...or back seat, and then having to rent a pick-up truck for the 20 minutes it took to drive round-trip and unload the thing! That part is better left unspoken.)

But since I'm still in the painstaking process of saving old files to CDs and jump drives, the new PC is still in the box. But it's so new... and the flat-panel monitor is so pretty...

sigh, sometimes it's so hard being a grown-up!

I burned two final music CDs with random tunes taking up space on the hard drive (don't tell me that's what makes the computer slow. la la la, I can't hear you over my pretty new monitor), I burned two photo CDs, and after I save my 2010 (the year, not the number) photos onto the jump drive, I think the last step is to go through folders and look for things I want to rescue.

You know what I'm not going to be able to rescue and it breaks my heart? The 8 "I VOTED" stickers stuck around the edge of the monitor. That's 4 elections' worth! My Obama sticker... my Obama primary sticker... my John Kerry sticker... my John Edwards primary sticker... (hey - I'm 2 and 2 - it could be worse! and when you include Scott's stickers, our winning percentage is even higher!) There are 7 other stickers on the monitor, too. Each is a different Chiquita banana sticker. My favorite says "place sticker on forehead. smile." Words to live by, right?

So, enough of my sentimental journey through stickers. I've got an exciting new box of stuff to play with!

02 April, 2010

A Whole New Hair...

I got my hair cut two days after my birthday. I think I scared the stylist because I was trying to go basically from nearly shoulder-length bob to very short and very layered. I showed her three pictures, and she gave me a slightly longer version of the photo with the longest hair. She kept looking at me and saying "you sure?" I seriously had to promise her I wouldn't cry. So I left with not what I really wanted, but I was ok with a transition cut.

This picture was taken immediately after leaving the salon. Obviously, it wasn't worth advertising, "hey! new 'do!" And though I enjoy the look of it, the fact that even straight out of the salon I couldn't get a good picture leads me to believe it's not the best look for me. To me, this cut just looks like I'm in the awkward growing-out stage between short and long hair. So now I really think I want to go shorter.

Below are three looks I'm considering: porn star hair, Grey's hair, and lizard hair.

The porn star hair belongs to one of Tiger Woods' luvvahs. I saw the picture attached to this article and first wondered if it was a wig, and then wondered whether I could pull off that look. Obviously, my hair is WAY less thick than hers. I did a Bing search to see whether there were any other photos of her (clothed...) and found another angle, my guess is from the same day (again, because she's clothed) at the LA Times blogs. If you check out the last photo above the poll, it's sort of messy and sad...a look that I can definitely achieve. I'm just not sure I want to achieve it!

Up next: Grey's hair!

This is one of the new cast members on Grey's Anatomy this season. She's also sporting a shaggy pixie-ish cut similar to porn star hair. Since I watch Grey's every week, this image (or one similar) pops in my head every time I consider going shorter. This picture isn't that great. But hey - watch the show and you can see it in all its moving glory!

And finally, we wrap up with lizard hair.

This is Anna from ABC's remake of "V." I said something about her hair to Scott and his response was something like, "oh, you want to go that short?" I got the impression he was a little terrified of that particular prospect! And no, I am pretty sure I don't want hair that short. Just the same, I thought I'd include it here as an alternative to what I'm really considering.

Obviously, no haircut is going to give me a skinny face and a pointy chin. And I wasn't planning on going auburn again. But I really do think I'm going shorter, and most likely within 2 weeks. The current 'do is 4 weeks old now, and the bad part about layers is that they don't grow nicely at all!

So any opinions from anyone? You're not allowed to criticize when it's on my head, but you can do so now...

01 April, 2010

And Here We Go Again...

Once again, I find myself the victim(?) of peer pressure in the form of NaBloPoMo. So I thought I'd pick up in April where I left off in February - in the back yard!

Spring has brought a new batch of birds out back, and I'm hoping that my NaBlo partner in crime (or any of the rest of you) can help me with some identification.

First up, my newest fascinating bird. I think this guy is a little blue heron. Really, it's the only identification I can think of that makes any sense. I realize it's difficult to see in these pictures (taken at dusk some day last week), but he's inky black, with a blue sheen. He's not spotted here every day, but he's definitely a regular at the fishin' hole.

To the best of my vast bird knowledge (and ability to compare photos on the internet), this little guy is a black-necked stilt. Guess where he gets his name... c'mon... guess! The stilts tend to be out in pairs, and are often there at the same time as the guy above. I took some pictures of them together at sunrise last week, but alas, without the flash, they were just too gray and blurry to hold on to.

I left this last photo a little wider than normal to show off the lovely purple weed-flowers that the lawn guys choose to not to anything about. They're pretty, if slightly unruly.

In my pre-research mind, any bird that looks like this is a sandpiper. I know that they aren't the same, but my personal genuses seem to break down into egrets, ibises, herons, snake birds, ducks, and sandpipers. Oh, and all non-water birds. That's the craziest thing of all. I never see normal woods-dwelling birds around here. Scott's bird feeder has been summarily ignored. On the bright side, our little stilt friends are insect eaters. Of course, there are still more mosquitoes out back than you can shake a citronella candle at, but think how many more there would be otherwise!