Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Mishaps

I think everyone dreams of the perfect holiday, and yet somehow we end up with a holiday mishap or two that at least make for a good laugh -- often after the holiday is over.

This year has been particularly hectic as university classes ran late, and I just finished grading finals and taking finals last weekend. So I've been doing my shopping a little at a time - that is dangerous, because I tend to buy more than planned .... For example, tonight as I was wrapping gifts I came to the CD that my brother (who is in Chicago now hoping his flight out tomorrow takes off and therefore is unlikely to be reading this before Christmas) had asked for. Both copies of it. Whoops, guess I should do a better job keeping track of what I purchase.

Today at long last I completed addressing Christmas cards and stuffing envelopes. After licking (ick) about 45 of them, I realized I only had enough stamps for 1/2 of the cards. So I picked Diva up at school early so we could hit the post office and the mall before the crowds (yeah right). We walked into the post office and I set the two piles of cards on the counter by the automated stamp machine (so we wouldn't have to wait in line.) I told Diva to take the pile of stamped cards and put them in the mail slot that said "stamped and metered mail." I then turned my back for one minute to buy the stamps, turned back - and no cards! I asked her where the cards were - "I put them in the slot like you told me." So into the line we go, where the postal clerk was fortunately amused enough by our tale to look through the barrel and find 19 cards of the 22 I think I put in without stamps. Some of you won't be getting your cards in a timely manner this year. Diva says it is all my fault as she wanted to stay in the car while I went in.

Last stop - the mall. Just a couple of quick gifts and we are done. We sneak in the back entrance, find a parking place immediately. Looks like pulling her out of school early was a good strategy. We find the perfect gifts and then we're ready to roll. 45 minutes later we made it out of the parking lot. I could have walked home faster.

Tomorrow we're cooking - hopefully we've reached this year's mishap quota. Then again, maybe not!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Simple Physics

Yes, I am working on my PhD. No, I am not a science major. Nor am I a math major. But I can handle really simple physics. Like this physics problem that I stumbled across yesterday.

You may recall back in June we fostered a mama cat, and five kittens were born. Or maybe you recall my talking about how having kittens in the house is kind of like having toddlers. Well, those cute little kittens are now six months old, and almost as big as our adult cats. Unfortunately, one of them has developed the habit of jumping up on anything and everything. He especially likes stuffed animals, so everything in the house with stuffing (including my Pal Mickey) has had to move to the closet for awhile.

So what does this have to do with physics, you ask? Yesterday I heard a crash of falling plastic in my bathroom/laundry room. The room looks like this:

Note that up on top of the cabinet is the plastic insert for my dryer - you know, the one you put sneakers on if you want to dry them in the dryer. I've had the dryer for nine years now, and haven't used that gizmo once, but I still keep it handy in the laundry room! As you may have guessed, Pepper jumped up on the cabinet tops, hit the plastic, and down it came.

I looked on top of the cabinets, but no guilty cat eyes were staring back at me. No guilty kitten ran out of the bathroom. No kitten was hiding behind the dryer. What happened to that darn cat?

Look at the photo again - notice that if the plastic insert tips up the trajectory is straight into the shower stall. And when I moved the hamper in front of the shower door, and opened the shower door, there was a guilty looking, frightened, but thankfully unhurt kitten.

I don't think he'll try that again. Maybe I ought to put plastic launch pads on top of all of my cabinets!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Madness!

What is it that brings out the worst in my home at this time of year? No, I'm not talking about the people in the house - I'm talking about the THINGS in the house.

Last year, you may recall reading that our waterbed mattress required replacement, so we got two new mattresses (might as well replace them all while we were at it) for Christmas 2008.

This year we decided to treat ourself to a new camera - a digital SLR after many years of camera envy toward our SLR toting friends. We were just ready to hit the 'buy now' button when there was a loud 'pop!' followed by a thunka-thunka-thunka coming from the laundry room.

Kilowatt took my nine year old washer apart, and yelled to Diva, "do you know what catastrophic means?" Uh-oh, this doesn't sound like he's got my washer fixed. He brought a piece of the washer in to me to explain that it wouldn't be getting fixed.

Looks like I'll be getting a new washer for Christmas this year....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Already!

As you may have guessed from my long absence, things have been busy around here. I hadn't realized quite how busy until yesterday morning. As I grabbed a few minutes of peace and quiet in the shower, Diva yelled through the door - It's December 1 - hurray - I wonder what I got today?

There went my relaxing moment, replace by an "aw h*1l - forgot the advent calendar!" You may recall the masterpiece Kilowatt made from this post - our tradition has been that each day of December, Diva gets some small gift from 'Santa' in the calendar. Of course, that requires 'Santa' to remember to buy those little items, and then to remember that the calendar needs filling each night! (Note to new parents and parents to be: make your holiday traditions lower maintenance than this, you'll thank me.)

I hopped out of the shower, and quickly threw on a robe, wondering how to deal with this. Diva comes running up the stairs and proudly shows me her December 1 treasure - an LED votive (she's been begging for one, really). Whew - looks like Kilowatt wins the parental memory contest. Unfortunately, the only thing we had to put in for today (12/2) was another LED votive. Diva says this morning - "these come in 24 packs - am I going to get one of these every day?" And she wasn't happy about it.

So dutifully off to Target I go... stay tuned for info on the treasures I found!

It promises to be a busy month - we have a band concert, ice skating exhibition, dance holiday show, final exams, company coming, Kilowatt's birthday - ahh, December.

Is my tree up - no, are you kidding?

So until I get around to posting about those advent calendar treasures - here's a photo from last years' dance holiday show. As the tallest girl in her class, Diva often ends up center stage!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Can't Watch!

Today is a beautiful fall day in NH - so I decided to go out into my yard and snap a couple of pictures of things that you can only see for a few weeks each year.

First, the tree in my front yard (I have no idea what kind of tree it is) has these red things growing on it.

Next, we have lots and lots of these

Anyone who wants to come help with the raking is always welcome!

Then I rounded the corner of my house, and was immediately reminded why I needed to stay inside today:

Yikes! Yes, our garage needed a new roof, and after pricing just the shingles and other materials Kilowatt decided he was the man for the job. But it sure is a long way down, and on two sides the ground is asphalt and concrete.

When Kilowatt (KW) caught me snapping pictures, he said "wait a minute, and I'll climb down and lay on the ground and you can take a picture." Ha Ha, funny.

I remember back when Diva was about 3, KW cut down some trees. Like now, I hid in my office and occasionally looked out to make sure no emergency services were needed. Suddenly there was a 'boom' and the house shook, as the gutter ripped off. Diva yelled "Mommy, is Daddy flat now?" Or something like that.... After determining that the only thing crushed was our gutter, I could breathe again.

So for now, I'm holding my breath, saying an occasional prayer, and trying not to watch.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about that odd shaped garage - no, it will not accomodate either of our vehicles.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wanting what you got

I received three totally unrelated items in my mailbox this morning. Or are they? The first was a newsletter from the NH Food Bank. The front page article referenced the phrase "happiness is not getting what you want, it is wanting what you get." A nice phrase to start the day on a positive note.

The next item in my mailbox wasn't quite as uplifting. It was an invitation to join AARP. I'm celebrating #45 this month - isn't this invitation coming a bit early? I mean, in this economy I'm all for any discount I can get - except the AARP one. A lousy way to make me realize I'm not as young as I used to be.

The third item was a news magazine called American Profile that comes tucked inside my original hometown newspaper. That gets mailed out to me from Illinois, so it is often a few weeks late arriving. But the cover story, the link to which is provided above, was about working Centenarians. That's right, people who are 100 years old and still working! Now some days I might look at this as a pessimist and say 'great, I've got 55 more years of work ahead of me.' But not today, fresh off my AARP invitation. Nope, I had the optimistic viewpoint of 'I've made it this far and I've got the potential to still be productive 55 years from now!'

Okay, so I must admit in the back of my mind I did think "and it's a good thing, because my 401k still hasn't recovered so I'm going to need a good job at 100."

So how does this relate to wanting what you got - well I'm not totally sure, but somewhere in my mind I have to say that it has something to do with being grateful that I'm still here, and healthy, and doing something I love (most of the time). And that is the essence of wanting what you got, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You Can Hide, but You Can't Run

Last year, Diva chose the clarinet to play in band. I have to admit that I influenced her choice a bit. I remember back in my band days that I wanted to choose a unique instrument, and because all of my friends picked the flute, I picked the clarinet. Well, actually, I started with the Baritone, but the fact that the instrument was bigger than me led me to change my mind.

So when Diva came home wanting to play the flute, I pointed out all the advantages of the clarinet. And so she brought home a clarinet. As did half of her beginning band class. It seems the clarinet is the most popular instrument because in our band, you have to play clarinet before you can proceed to the saxophone.

Diva did well with the clarinet. However, the orthodontist and his device of torture have created a bit of a problem because she can't play as well with all the hardware. I spoke with the orthodontist and with her band director, and both assure me she will be able to play just fine with a little practice.

Fast forward to today - band practice. Early this morning, I hear the sound of running feet going down the stairs. Why on earth is Diva up so early? I slowly head down the stairs and brew my morning tea. Then I realize - the clarinet is not where we left it last night. That would explain the running feet.

After I found the clarinet (Diva isn't very good at lying, and let's hope it stays that way), I sent her off to school with the reminder that her band director has my email address, so I'll know if she skips today. I'm hoping that after she gets used to playing with the hardware, she'll enjoy band again. I'm hoping that once she is with her friends, she'll enjoy band again. I'm hoping that next Monday morning, I don't have to play hide and seek with a clarinet....

Friday, September 18, 2009


I have to admit, having kittens in the house is a lot like having twin toddlers. I can no longer work with my office door open, because there are just too many cords and other goodies in here that the babies can't keep their paws off.

And then you have to be really careful with appliances:

Yesterday, the little angels unrolled the toilet paper and emptied the tissue box in the upstairs bathroom. Can you believe this angel face did that?

You can't? Well maybe you can believe that this one did:

Monday, September 14, 2009

The "Eyes" Have it (or not)

When I decided to go back to school to work on my PhD, I worried about a lot of things that I anticipated would be difficult for me. Things like a 90 minute commute, the ability to master the material, the amount of study time required, did I burn too many brain cells in my 20's?

What I didn't imagine was that these were the least of my worries. No, the real challenge was going to school with the eyes of a 40-something. Perhaps nature ensures that we can't see anything close-up in our 40's since we really don't want to be able to see all those 'laugh lines' and 'age spots' that now take up valuable real estate on our faces. Or perhaps it is so it is harder to admire the fact that the hair on our heads is migrating to less desirable parts of our bodies. Whatever it is, trying to read small (or even normal print) with these eyes is a challenge.

My last visit to the eye doctor revealed that my eyes weren't quite bad enough for bifocals. So he suggested picking up a cheap pair of these:

Alas, my eyes aren't quite bad enough to need them, but aren't quite good enough to read without them. So I put them on, I take them off. I put them on, I take them off. I put them on.... you get the picture.

Kilowatt suggested a reading lamp. Because in our house we own a tool for everything, we of course had the perfect one available.
The light works great, but it is really hard to get it adjusted to the right level of magnification. So now I put the glasses on, I take them off. I pull the lamp to me, I push it back. I put my glasses on..... At least I'm getting an upper arm workout:)

This would have been so much easier ten years ago.....

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Intolerance: (n) intolerance (unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions or beliefs)

Wednesday was Diva's first day at school. (Cue Staples commercial "Most Wonderful Day of the Year") As part of first day activities, interested parents sit down to a Q&A session with the school administration. There are 400 students in grades 5-6, and about 25 or 30 parents showed up, myself included.

After the routine questions about H1N1 and cell phone use, one parent expressed concern about "President Obama's speech to schoolchildren." I had not heard anything about this, but I have to confess I was not overly concerned. I'm thinking that it is hard not to have some admiration for someone who rose from relative poverty and a racially mixed background to become president, even though I don't agree 100% with his political views. Isn't that supposed to be what the American dream is all about?

I guess I was wrong. Today I caught the headline over at Yahoo "Parents Angry About Obama Speech." So I decided maybe I should see what these lesson plans that are going to be used to brainwash Diva include. Wow - they want her to listen to a speech and take notes about it. They want kids to develop educational goals for themselves. Really radical stuff. And (gasp) they dare to ask "What does the president want me to do?" and "What would I speak about if I were president?"

Okay, I'll cut the sarcasm now. Will I be likely to agree with everything that is said in this speech? No. I'm sure I won't. Our educational system has lots of problems. I won't pretend to have the answers on how to fix them. I also won't pretend to agree with all the suggestions on how to fix these problems coming from the current president or from the past president, or from the people who would like to have some say in who is the next president.

But I do know that refusing to listen to anyone else's opinion on the issues, looking only for evidence that supports one point of view, and discouraging healthy debate isn't good. And that's what I'm striving to teach Diva. Listen, analyze, and make your own decisions. And part of that decision making process is the ability to understand what it is the person speaking to you wants you to do. You then have to consider what you are told, and decide if it is accurate. This may often involve talking to others with divergent beliefs to see the pros and cons of any point of view. And yes, your peers may often outnumber you in their opinion, and you may sometimes have to be different than your peers with a quiet and calm confidence (aren't we trying to teach our kids this when we want them to abstain from se#, drugs and alcohol?)

EVERY person making a speech is trying to 'sell' you on his or her ideas. We've been teaching Diva to evaluate what people are 'selling' since she was old enough to start asking for things she sees on TV commercials. So I'm not worried about her being brainwashed by this speech. If our school opts to show the speech, we'll talk about it at home. If they opt not to, we'll find it on YouTube, watch it, and talk about it at home. "Stay in school' and 'do your best' and 'aim high' are frequent discussion themes around our house anyway. The speech will provide a teachable moment and as parents we need to take advantage of every one of those moments that presents itself.

I see all this hoopla as a symptom of what is wrong overall with our current direction. Look at most polls about any policy topic in this country (I'm not including opinions about individuals or political parties or elected officials overall) and you'll often see no better than a 60/40 split rather than a hugely dominant majority. We are nearly evenly divided on many important issues. Somewhere there has to be a win/win compromise. Something that satisfies not just what is important to both sides, but also the overall goal to fix the underlying problem without creating new ones. We are a great country with many creative, hard-working people - we can find these solutions - but not if we are all unwilling to let go of our preconceived ideas and idealistic, politically motivated solutions.

Teaching our children NOT to listen to someone just because their political views differ from yours is not the right thing to do. I have no scientific evidence of this, but it seems those same children are more likely grow into adults who get thrown out of town hall meetings because they won't allow anyone else to talk.

I could go on and on, as this politicization and polarization of our country by its so-called leaders really annoys me. I'm not a political person, but I do consider it my civic duty to vote. I rarely speak up about my political views because politics and religion are two topics that are guaranteed to be controversial. But for some reason this situation pushed me over the edge and I just had to comment.

I saw a great bumper sticker the other day, it went something like this:
"when the power of love is greater than the love of power......"

Hmmmmmm.....maybe I'm more idealistic than I realize.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Delay Tactics


pro·cras·ti·nate (pr-krst-nt, pr-)
v. pro·cras·ti·nat·ed, pro·cras·ti·nat·ing, pro·cras·ti·nates
{v.intr.} To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.
{} To postpone or delay needlessly.

I believe that the fact that I am checking out my favorite blogs, updating my blog, and checking the weather forecast when I have papers to grade (and write) qualifies......

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Device of torture

About two years ago our dentist informed us that Diva had a bite problem - meaning she would eventually need braces. Eventually arrived this year.

After taking out a second mortgage on the house and selling everything we own (just kidding, but if we didn't have good insurance yikes!) the orthodontist proceeded to install one of the lovely contraptions - a Herbst Appliance - pictured here:

It started with just the stuff you see under the heavy bar. After that was installed, we had about five days of tears and complaints, and then all was well. I was so happy that it seemed Diva would have no problem with wearing braces.

Oh, but I was a bit premature in my happiness. Last Friday, the final part of the instrument of torture was installed. You know those things that hold up the hatchback in a car? This thing (the solid bar) looks eerily similar to those, just on a slightly smaller scale. Apparently it feels like having one of those in your mouth too. And according to Diva, like the hatchback ran over all your teeth.

I've purchased every possible pain remedy; none have worked. My sweet little girl now wakes me every morning with a growl, a slamming door, and 'this is all your fault.' Her diet consists of milkshakes and pancakes, with an occasional serving of white rice.

I've called the orthodontist several times to ask for advice and encouragement. I'm supposed to convince her to keep this thing on another week, and then all will be better. The alternative is headgear, and believe me I don't see my little angel wearing that for two years!

Oh well, it's off to make a milkshake!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Crazy Cat People

The foster kittens are 8 weeks old today, which means it is time to return them to the shelter so they can find forever homes. This is the fourth litter I've fostered (the first for Diva and Kilowatt) and I have to confess I'm more attached to these than my prior fosters. Maybe it is because Diva and Kilowatt are so attached. At any rate, it looks like two of these kittens are finding a forever home right here with us. If the rest of my family had their way, it would be all five plus Mama Cat.

Anyway, as though providing foster care for cats doesn't prove we are crazy cat people - I think these photos will show evidence of our insanity. About two weeks ago, the kittens outgrew the upstairs bathroom, so it was time to find larger quarters. Although the basement seemed ideal, it had a couple of strikes against it. First, our adult cats are accustomed to their litter boxes being in the basement, and have shown that they won't take kindly to a move. Second, it is dark and damp down there and that might make the kittens sad. So instead, we split our main floor in two parts.

First, a baby gate is in order - but requires some modification as the kittens can climb over it...
Next, we must make sure they won't fall between the posts on the stairs, should they get to that part of the house - amazing what Kilowatt can do with cardboard and cable ties:
Then we had to block the other, odd-sized entrance to the dining area (yep, the kittens ended up on the kitchen/dining room side of the house). After considering a few DIY options, we decided that extra sheetrock and our rolling wine rack made an excellent 'door.'

By now, if you aren't rolling your eyes, it is because you are animal lovers and understand what drives us to go to these extremes. And if you are rolling your eyes, I submit this picture to help you understand:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I'm Back!!!!!

So, did you miss me? I've been on vacation this time, not just too busy to blog. Okay, I was too busy to blog!

We started our adventure here:

We took that photo from here:

Right before we sailed under here:
The Captain told us there was 8 feet clearance under the bridge - I never realized how tiny 8 feet is.

While in transit to our island paradise, we got in a little ice skating. Skating on a moving ship on a postage stamp sized rink adds excitement. So do those funny rental skates. Diva was smart enough to bring her own.

We arrived at our destination with its famous pink sand beaches on a sunny day:

And visited the historic Fort St. Catherine:

Alas, all too soon we had to head back to our awaiting transit:
And now I'm back here in NH, wondering when I'll get to go again....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shopping madness

Kilowatt's computer quit working in a puff of smoke this week as the video card failed dramatically. It is covered under an extended warranty (I always buy, and use, the extended warranty on computers) so I had to run down to the really big mall to drop it off for repair.

The really big malls are only 40 minutes south, but they have different stores than we do. Generally more unique higher end stores like Godiva and my new favorite, Teavana. And that computer store I won't name, but it kind of follows with the food and beverage theme of the other stores.

I told Diva she could invite a friend to go along and they could do a little preliminary back to school shopping. First, taking two pre-teen females shopping probably wasn't my smartest move ever. Because together, that teen mentality of 'branding' takes over. They must have the 'hot' brands of clothing. I didn't realize how old I was until I stepped into the first store that they assured me was a requirement of preteen fashion.

The loud music and heavy perfume, coupled with pictures of half-naked people on the walls, made it clear that they aren't really selling clothes there. It's kind of the same way that Starbucks isn't really selling just coffee. It is the whole atmosphere thing. It gave me a headache. It also made it obvious this was not a preteen store despite attempts to convince me otherwise. I later found this particular store actually has two locations in the mall, the 2nd one is the preteen one - no half naked people, softer music, same clothes.

We went to the next store - a decided improvement as the loud music wasn't quite so bad (or maybe my hearing wasn't as good by then) and the pictures were of beaches instead of people. I was almost eager to get my gold card out after comparing this store to the prior one. And yes, I do realize they are both owned by the same company. But what's with this darkness thing - I felt like I needed to pull out my cell phone to light my way through the labyrinth that made up this store. And what's with all these separate rooms?

Then came test number 1 - Diva and friend wanted to try on some clothes. I left my trail of breadcrumbs so I could find my way back to the girls, and dutifully went in search of a worker. I searched, and I searched, and I searched. Other than the one behind the cash register, there were none to be found. Ah! Finally, a worker. Is she really old enough to work?

I asked about fitting rooms, and worker grimaces slightly and says "I have to unlock those." She then proceeds to unlock two, plus one for the couple (yes, a male/female couple) that want to go in one together. I really don't want to know.

I then ask about a certain type of sweater that Diva is looking for. Nice eye-roll from worker. Obviously customer service isn't what I'm paying for here either.

The girls make their selections and head to the counter. They have one of those automated credit card machines where you sign the screen. Someone decided to put a bunch of perfume bottles on display on the counter immediately in front of the screen, so that you have to be a tall contortionist to reach over and sign your charge. Anyone under 5' 9" isn't going to reach that keypad. And trying to swipe your own card is a guaranteed perfume spill. What were they thinking?

So let's just say that I understand why retailers are doing so poorly right now, and I'm not convinced it is totally the economy that is sinking them. But next time, I think we'll go virtual shopping. And then wait for UPS to deliver.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fun Monday - Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

School often gets in the way of fun, and I can't recall the last time I was able to participate in a Fun Monday. I just couldn't resist trying to join in the fun once again, and our hostess Jan has come up with a topic that doesn't require research and has easy to follow instructions (see comment on school above to understand why this is important to me). Her instructions to us:

Since the Lazy Hazy Days of summer are upon us now, tell us what activities you enjoy doing outside and how do you stay cool. Share some photos of both if you wish.

When we bought our house, it came with a pool. I have to admit that having an outdoor pool in Northern New England is kind of like having an outdoor ice skating rink in the Mid-South; there are years where it just doesn't get a lot of use. Like 2009. However, today the temp did hit 80, it hasn't rained (yet) and our pool is above 75 degrees, so things are looking up.

When we first saw our house, the first words out of my mouth were "gee, this looks like a great party house." So we like to have friends over in the summer to enjoy the pool and our toys.

It's hard to tell from the photo, but Diva's swing set is about 10 feet tall, and will easily accommodate two average sized adults along with a boatload of kids. I still love to swing! In the background is the famous treehouse, and one of our horseshoe pits. We also have a tetherball set up and a basketball goal. When company comes we add badminton and croquet, and sometimes volleyball to the mix. And of course we eat and drink around the patio table:

Finally, my new outdoor activity (other than drying the laundry on a clothesline to save energy, and I'm not showing you a picture of that) is attempting to do a little gardening.

Don't laugh at my puny lettuce and spinach! Remember, the growing season here is short; and this year promises to be shorter than usual.

So I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse into the life of my family in NH - now click on over and see what the other Fun Monday folks do to stay cool!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Indoor Sunshine

We may not have been having much bright and sunny weather in NH this summer, but one look at these eyes and the inside of my house seems to be filled with sunshine:

My foster care kittens are now 3 weeks old, and eager to explore the world outside of the 'queening box' that has been their home so far. They are shuffling along, unsteady as a toddler learning to walk, but with the added challenge of four feet, and in two cases, extra toes:

I don't think these gals and guys will have a hard time finding a home. Just look at this face:

I'm a bit more worried about Mama Cat, who is little more than a kitten herself. She has all of the kitten behaviors that are so endearing in an eight week old kitten, annoying in a fully grown cat. We've about got her broken of her play-biting habit, and she has learned when she sees the water pistol that she needs to jump down off of whatever she is climbing on that she's not supposed to be on (like the kitchen cabinets.) But she has now grown comfortable enough in our home to attempt to sneak out of it (she really does remind me of a wild teenager, not that I was ever one myself.) And a closed door is just a challenge to her - she'll lie in wait patiently until it opens and slip herself through faster than the eye can see.

She is a good Mother:

And yep, that big bruiser there is almost as big as she is. He's going to be one big cat, and he's got the extra toe thing going on too.

I'll hate to give these guys back when it's time for them to be adopted out...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Enough, already

I'm sure somewhere there is a website that will gladly tell me how many consecutive days of rain we've 'enjoyed' here in the Granite State. I don't need anyone to tell me, I know the answer: too #&^% many.

This seems a bit unreal when I talk to my friends down south, who complain about the heat and humidity. Our high today might hit 65 if we get lucky, and we are under a flood watch. Again.

Here's the view out my back door:

The observant among you will note that the solar cover on our pool is very high. That's because we haven't drained the pool today, yet. We have to drain an average of two inches out of the pool every other day to keep it from overflowing. The water temperature is up to a balmy 73 degrees now. Needless to say, Diva is the only one young enough to get in that water.

How about the view out my front door:
Here you see the small river running down each side of the street. You may also notice how green the grass is. Lucky for us, it occasionally stops raining long enough to run out and cut the lawn.

Q: How do you know someone is from NH?
A1: They have recent Googled "how do you build an ark?"
A2: They can tell you 10 different ways to remove mold from bark mulch (ickkk.)
A3: When the sun comes out, they run out the door regardless of state of dress.
A4: Misting is considered 'not raining.'
A5: They have seen at least five movies since school ended - a week ago.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Circle of Life...

Here in our house of cats (almost said cathouse, then realized the connotation that goes with that, oops) things continue to be interesting.

Our senior citizen appears to be eating well and gaining weight now that she is on her twice daily medication. But the drugs (or something else) has changed her personality. Normally a cat who spends the day sitting on my lap while I work, and the night trying to get under the cover with me in bed, Katie has become a solitary feline who hangs out in the downstairs bathroom next to the shower, only coming out to beg for food. Then when food is produced, she eats two bites and heads back into the bathroom. Repeat this scenario 10-15 times a day.

Katie's behavior has led to a lot of guessing what is meant by a particular version of 'meow.' Oh, that one sounds like she is in pain. Now she's hungry. Now she's jealous of the other cats. Now she's just downright mad about something. Twice she's been acting miserable enough that I've been ready to call the vet for the 'final vet appointment' and she has miraculously bounced back before I made the call. At almost 17, she is old, but some cats live into their 20's so she's not ancient.

Meanwhile, in my upstairs bathroom is our foster care cat. The shelter calls her Zulu, Diva wants to name her Alexis, and I call her Jaws since she decided my hand looked like a tasty kitty treat last week. Yesterday, she presented us with five new arrivals:

You may now ooh and ahh over how stinking cute these kittens are.

Two of the kittens look just like Katie did when she was a foster kitten. Diva is begging to keep them all - that would be 8 cats total in the house - a few too many for this family. So in about 8 weeks at least some of these incredibly cute kitties will be at the Manchester Animal Shelter looking for a new home....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Catching Up

You may be wondering where I've been the last six weeks or so?  Well, first there were final exams to get through at school, so no blog time.  Then there was a vacation to prepare for - we visited our family favorite - Disney World.  We visited the week that Florida got all that rain.  I think it was measured in feet.  Oh well, at least it wasn't frozen and I didn't have to snow blow it!

Now I am running my animal infirmary.  My almost 16 year old Katie has a hyperactive thyroid.  At the same time, I succumbed to Diva's pleas and we are fostering a pregnant cat for the local humane society, and she has a really bad respiratory infection.  So my days are filled with trips to the vet and dispensing kitty drugs.  And let me tell you, these cats are not cooperative patients!  

So one day soon I'll download a bunch of photos that I've been aiming to post from my camera, and get them on the computer.  But now.... I've got to go dispense some antibiotics.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How to tell it is spring in New Hampshire

  1. All but the last shaded pile of snow has melted.
  2. Dairy Queen has reopened.
  3. We drive with the sunroof open (and the heat on).
  4. The Coast Guard has to warn people that water temperatures are still dangerously cold.
  5. Skin (other than faces peaking out of a tiny hole) starts to appear.
  6. Flowers appear (my favorite!)
  7. Frost heaves disappear (and everyone gets their car realigned).
  8. April school vacation week (just when we stop having snow days)
  9. The NH state bird (the blackfly) stops by to annoy us all.  Males appear first, but only females bite.
  10. The sound of hammering, sawing, and occasional swearing as Kilowatt starts on this years outdoor projects....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April 16 - Do you know where your tax forms are?

Today is April 16, which means my taxes have been in the hands of the IRS for about 48 hours now.  Is there any exercise more frustrating than filing your taxes?  

Let's put this in perspective - I have an advanced degree in accounting.  I should be able to file a tax form with 100% confidence that I did everything right.  But every year I have some strange question that I need to get answered.  One year I tried reading all the instructions on the IRS website - won't make that mistake again.  The next I tried calling that toll free IRS helpline - but they've obviously been told not to give yes or no answers.  I hung up more confused than ever.  I've purchased tax books, watched videos on how to do taxes, and called up my CPA friends who specialize in income taxes.  Still, every year, I wonder if I'm doing this right.  

And every year when I hit that 'send' button on TurboTax, I pause to say a brief prayer.  "God, please let my form 1040 sail through the system, let my Schedules A, B, and C be correctly alphabetized, and let form 88-whatever be accurately reporting whatever the heck it is that I have to file it for."

I'm so concerned about accuracy that I pulled out a $150 deduction this year because the receipt I had lacked a taxpayer ID#.  I don't think most people are as paranoid as I, because TurboTax has this lovely feature that allows you to compare your return with national averages.  And every year, I discover that we pay far more than the national average in taxes.  This does not comfort me.  It makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong?

Ultimately, it isn't paying my taxes that bothers me.  I think I get a decent return (it could be better, but still it is decent) in terms of access to education, interstate transportation, and national defense.  I don't think I'll ever get any return from my contributions to healthcare or retirement.  But what really bothers me is this:  trying to do the right thing shouldn't be this difficult.  


Friday, March 27, 2009

I Cannot Possibly Be That/This Old

It started innocently enough, like most things do.  I showed up one Thursday night to teach my room full of future forensic accountants that pleasures of a good fraud story.  Timing  of the class was great, as Bernie Madoff gave us fresh fodder weekly and tales of such greed that they are hard to imagine.  

One of the earlier nights, I happened to make a name connection with a young woman in the class.  Her last name was a bit uncommon, so I asked "are you P & M's daughter by any chance?"  She looked a bit surprised and answered "yes."  That was the first step in my aging process. 

Since I waited a bit late in life to have Diva, I forget that people near my age have kids who are now in graduate school.  Yikes!  I worked with P from 1986-1989 when I first relocated to NH.  I had seen him once in the intervening years, but it has been awhile.  

A couple of weeks later in comes my student with a note from her father.  There is going to be a big retirement party at the place we worked together all those years ago.  Four people who were retiring, all of whom worked there many moons ago with me.  So I delightedly RSVP'd and counted the days until I could see all of my old friends and former coworkers.  

Last night was the party.  When I walked into the room, there were probably 70 people there.  I expected to know maybe the four retirees and six other people.  

Surprise #1 -- I knew roughly half the people there.  Many people, like me, had returned to wish these four well in their new adventure as retirees.  Good thing the shindig lasted four hours, because there was a lot of catching up to be done.

Surprise #2 -- when you have not seen someone for 20 years, you miss the gradual aging and instead all of a sudden "wow!  these people look a lot different!"  and "oh x*&^, do I look that old?

Surprise #3 -- lots of people recognized me - and remembered my name.  That's really embarrassing, because some of them I couldn't recall ever seeing before in my life.  Crap, there goes my memory along with other things....  now where was I?

Surprise #4 -- people I didn't consciously remember would walk up to me and say 'hi' and I would remember random things.  I could remember one man's name, but nothing else - not where he worked, what he did - nada.  I could remember another's face, but not the name that went with the face.  Then there was the one who I could clearly remember going on a business trip with, remembering we watched the Stanley Cup together in a bar in Bangor ME, but once again nothing else.  

Surprise #5 -- there were at least five people in the room who time passed by.  They had not changed a bit in 20 years.  I guess I should have asked for the name of their plastic surgeon:)

I took a lot of pictures last night, and I really need to download these photos off my camera.  But for a just a few more days, I think I'll look at the pictures from the 1988 bowling banquet and the golf tournament, and remember the way we were.....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Online Analysis

I subscribe to a number of daily newsletters, and today one of them came through with the following link to a site called Typealyzer.   What, you may ask, is it?  Well, it is a site that will analyze a given blog to attempt to determine the writer's Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  

I've been a big fan of the MBTI since I first took the test during the early days of my career, and have in fact taken it more than once.  One of the ideas behind the test is that it looks at your personality traits and from there you can determine what type of career you are best suited for.  
After reading about the Typealyzer, I immediately went to the site to try it out.  I have to admit to being a bit disappointed -- I was typed as an ESFP.  Why does this disappoint me?  Because every time I have taken the MBTI, the results have been that I am an INTP.  Granted, I have not shown a very strong preference for the I (introvert) over the E (extrovert).  Similarly, the T (thinking) versus F (feeling) has not a strong preference.  But.... for the N (intuition) versus S (sensing) I'm typically at the far end of the scale as a N.  

So, now I'm curious...and I finally have something blog about:)   If you are a fellow blogger who has taken the MBTI before as I have - do you see similar results?  

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The iPod Game

My dear friend Hula played a game posted by  Jason over at The Jason Show, where I love to lurk. It looks like so much fun I couldn't resist trying it out, particularly with the rule #3 variance.  After all, everyone who visits here knows about the one embarrassing song on my iPod, and surely it won't show up (I hope not, anyway) in the shuffle...

1. Put your iPod or other music player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
Unless you don't like it, then you can keep shuffling until you get to something you like!
(Jason added this variance to the game) .

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY? Defying Gravity - Wicked Original Broadway Cast (this after rejecting Hot Child in the City & Rock and Roll All Nite, maybe when I was younger....)
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE? Life in a Northern Town - Sugarland/Little Big Town
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? I'm a Believer - The Monkees
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU? Let's Get Loud - Jennifer Lopez
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? Dance the Night Away - Van Halen
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?  Hooked on a Feeling - Blue Swede
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY? Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?   I Wanna Do It All - Terri Clark
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU? There's a New Kid in Town - Kathy Mattea
WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST? Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley (oh how true this is)
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?  I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats
WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN? Let the Heartache Ride - Restless Heart
HOW WILL YOU DIE?  Your Good Girls Gonna Go Bad - Nathalie Cote (original version was Tammy Wynette)
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?  Only the Good Die Young - Billy Joel
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH? Every Time I Think of You  - The Babys
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY? Two Dozen Roses - Shenandoah
WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST? Bikini Season - Jeff Foxworthy
WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW? Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles
YOUR ULTIMATE FANTASTY? I Can Only Imagine - MercyMe 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Local Theatre

My Mother visited us this week to help watch Diva while I attended classes, given that it was NH school vacation week.  Our kids get the last week of February and the last week of April off as vacations every year.  That's part of the reason why they go to school until the end of June.  The other part of that reason (snow) will probably be tomorrow's post topic!

Last night we decided to head into the city (Manchester) to catch a play at the Palace Theatre.  The Palace is a 92 year old theatre, so it is a beautiful old building.  Our proximity to Boston and NYC gives us access to excellent productions.  Last night we saw Little Shop of Horrors.  None of us had seen or heard much about this, but I was assured there was nothing worse than PG-13 in it.  I have to concur - it was more PG than PG-13.  

Diva attends camps at the Palace, so we typically know at least one of the performers.  For this performance we knew both of the leads - the female lead is the director of the youth program, and the male lead was Diva's drama coach last spring.  They were both quite impressive in this performance.  

In a unique twist, the actresses who played Ronette and Chiffon were familiar faces too, they played in Hercules -the Muse-ical on the Disney Wonder when we sailed in 2005 and 2006.  

Diva is ready to go again.  Of course, she also wants to take ice skating lessons twice a week, go to Destination Imagination nationals, and make straight A's in school.  She's going to be one busy girl!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Birthday Party

Diva decided to have her 11th birthday party at the local ice skating rink.  After seven weeks of lessons, we have become quite expert, and are now both ready to progress to level 2 next session.  

We have mastered the two-foot glide, swizzles, and backward skating.  In my case, the backward skating not so much.  

I'm very proud of Diva, this year she asked all of her friends to bring a donation for the Manchester Animal Shelter instead of a present.  Today we took in $80, plus several bags of cat and dog food, wet wipes, dog brushes, canned food, and kitty litter to the shelter.  The folks at the shelter were great, treating Diva to a tour of the shelter and a personal thank you from the shelter assistant manager.  

After spending two hours on the ice, the girls had pizza and (what else) ice cream cake.  

Doesn't everyone put Warrior Cats Rule on their birthday cake?  

In case you aren't the parent of a tween, Warrior Cats are a series of books by Erin Hunter, and a particular favorite of Diva, who has all of them and has already pre-ordered the next two in the series.  

Ice Skating Party for 11 girls with pizza and soda = $165
Ice Cream Cake from Dairy Queen = $15
Mom not having to clean up the house, and not having sugared up kids in the house after cake = Priceless.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wanted: Hero

I succumbed to the flu bug and spent Monday at home, which gave me a couple of minutes to watch some of the Miracle on the Hudson coverage.  I was immediately struck by the humility shown by Captain Sullenberger.  Apparently, so were a lot of other people.  

Today I stumbled across this USNews blog entry titled:  What Sully Sullenberger can Teach CEO's.   It's well worth a quick read-through.  

One thing that struck me as missing in this entry - undoubtedly as a member of USAirways pilot's union, Sullenberger has over the past years been asked to give up some of his compensation to help the airline survive not one, but two trips through bankruptcy court.  And yet he didn't use this as an excuse to not continue to train, work, and behave as a professional.  

On the other hand, we have CEO's who decimate U.S. workforces, burn through their company's cash reserves, and make such poor risk management decisions that we the people must help their companies stay afloat - and yet they worry about a $500k salary cap - or even worse - their personal income taxes being raised.  

We need a hero - a real hero - who doesn't use drugs to enhance athletic ability, who doesn't think about me first and to h*12 with everyone else, who can find a win/win solution when none seems to exist.  

Thank you Captain Sullenberger - we need you more than you know.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Flu Season and Daytime TV

Yes, it's that time of year.  You know, when one kid at school gets sick, and then the rest of them take turns getting sick.  Finally, your number is up and its your kid who is sick.  

Until this year Diva has been the model of health, but she woke up yesterday with a mysterious fever, which just isn't going away.  Today was day 2 of home from school, and she was begging to go back to school.  Seems there isn't enough entertainment here at home.  She gets a bit clingy when she's ill, so I sat with her for a couple of hours this afternoon and we watched a few programs on TV.  I rarely watch TV, so I'd like to share a few observations:

~ the prime choice today was Travel Channel's "Extreme Retail Locations"  Did you know that there is a store that sells yodeling pickles?  And the world's largest underwear at a rate of 2000 pairs/year?  And all kinds of bacon themed items (like gummy bacon and bacon band-aids) for your vegetarian friends?  How did I live 40 something years without shopping here? 

~ Just when you think a program is safe to watch with the kids, they show the extreme Las Vegas store that sells books on learning to pole dance.  Remember Diva loves to dance - so guess what book she wants?  How does one explain pole dancing to a ten year old?  

~ This summer I'm heading for Sharon, PA.  Don't know exactly where it is, but they have the world's largest candy store, and that's enough for me.  While there, I'll explore the world's largest outlet store, because I'll need some bigger clothes after my visit to the candy store.

Any good shopping in your neighborhood?


Friday, January 30, 2009

Why I call her Diva...

Where:  Museum of Science, Boston
When: December 26, 2008

Me:  Stand over by the dinosaur bones and smile for the camera.  

Need I say more?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Clear as the nose on your face.....

So here it is, a month after Christmas.  You may recall that just last Monday I confessed to finally putting all the boxes of decorations away.  

I've often accused Diva (and Kilowatt) of selective hearing.  You know, missing those subtle sentences, usually the ones starting with the words "will you..."   Well, it appears I have selective vision.  Because after declaring the Christmas decorations down and put away, I stumbled across this:

I could think of some creative excuses, like we don't come into this part of the house often (lie: it is the kitchen/dining window - the one we look out the most often.)  

But truth is, only as I was staring out this window at the birds munching down while it snowed (which is something I do pretty much daily) did I realize that the little gel thingys on the window that I was playing with were decorations that shouldn't be there now.  

Guess that's a good reminder it is time for my annual eye exam.  I wonder if they make glasses for selective vision? ;)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Raking the Roof

Quite a few of you expressed interest in the roof rake - one of those tools that is unique to those of us living in a snow belt.  Well, tonight I was surprised when Kilowatt arrived home from work early.  I asked him why he was so early, and his reply 'because you are home tonight, and I have to go up and rake the roof.'

I hear these words about once a year, and they never cease to cause me extreme anxiety.  Our house is a Gambrel, meaning two stories in the front, but three in the back as we have a walk-out basement.  So there is no way to rake the back roof from the ground.  

Raking roofs is serious business.  Not only can you get the dreaded ice dams with accompanying leaks -- if you have a flat or low slope roof -- it can collapse from the weight of the snow.  Typically this is more common in commercial buildings, but it can happen to houses too.  So tonight while I'm praying and typing, I can hear the rake, as see the snow falling out my office window.  

Yesterday, my neighbor had a guy with a shovel on her roof - but her house is a ranch - 1 story.  Right now I'm wishing our house was only one story.  

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fun Monday - Front Porch Lookin' In

Our hostess this week, Julie over at Another Chance Ranch, apparently overheard me lamenting that I needed to clean my house and put away the Christmas decorations, because here's her assignment:
Instead of standing in your front door and taking a photo of what you see outside, let's turn around and take one of the inside. Maybe that will prompt some of us to pick up a tad (you know who you are). :)

So last night I diligently put away the boxes of Christmas decorations.  I even straightened up a bit.  Then today hit.  I thought of doing a quick deep cleaning, or taking the photo from a different door - but that just didn't seem right.  I figure anyone who is reading this wants to know what our life is really like, not see some great photo like you can get from buying a magazine of lovely houses that no one really lives in.  So here is the view, in all of its dirty glory.

Yes, I know the photo is a bit tilted, but sometimes so am I. If I'm not going to clean, then getting a straight photo probably isn't going to happen either.  Let me describe a bit of what you see when walking in.  

First, I don't have a garage, so this is our main entry to the house as well as our family room.  We use it to house our impressive collection of winter footwear, including the three pairs of ice skates (one still in the box) by the slider.  It also houses our collection of winter outwear.  You can see Diva's winter gear lying on the floor drying out after some tumbling in our latest 8 inches of snow -- and looking out the slider you can see some of that snow.  Lot's of it, actually.  A careful viewer can even glimpse the treehouse that came with our house.  

Next, notice the folded up treadmill.  I insisted we put the treadmill in this room so I might use it occasionally.  I knew if we put it in the basement I'd never step foot on it.  Need I tell you how well that strategy is working?

Then there's the Dell box.  Since Kilowatt is so handy, we periodically receive such parcels from friends and family with the message  - 'can you fix this?'

Finally, the boxes on the surround sound speaker that look like shoe boxes - those are train boxes.  Kilowatt picked out his birthday present yesterday.  And the surround sound doesn't go with the teeny tiny TV  you can see in the photo - there's more to this room than you can see from this photo. 

Finally, because I'm in rule breaking mood this week - here's a photo looking out. 

This photo is of Kilowatt using another one of those tools you just don't hear much about down south - the roof rake. Yes, when the snow gets too high on your roof, you have to clear it off just like your driveway and sidewalk, or risk something called ice dams.  

And the brown thing you see in the left - that's a snow shed.  If you want your bushes to look good in the summer, you've got to cover them in the winter to keep the snow from weighing them down.  Then you put fencing around them to keep the deer from snacking.  Hungry deer don't care that my front door is mere feet from their target.  

Well, I'm off to see what you see looking in at your house.  I hope someone else has a house as 'lived in' as mine!  

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's All About Me

My friend and blogging idol - Hulagirl - has helped me come up with something to blog about, as my mind is a frozen mush here in the arctic tundra that goes by the name of NH.   She has been  kind enough to interview me, asking my opinion on several topics of critical importance.  

BTW, it was -15 this morning when I took Diva to school.  So for my interview I'm wearing a turtleneck, covered by a sweatshirt, topped off with a fleece overlayer.  Oh yes, must not forget the flannel-lined jeans and wool socks.  And this is indoors, you should see me when I venture out.  Oops, that's right, you can't see me when I'm outside, I'm just a very rounded blob of clothing with Sorrel snow boots and tiny eyeballs barely visible between the neck gaiter and wool hat.  

Anyway, back to the interview:

1. When you take a week long vacation how many pairs of shoes do you take (just for you) and what kind are they?

Well dear reader(s), I must confess that I'm not a shoe person.  I think this comes from wearing a size 11, which basically means I go into a store and ask what they have in my size, and if they have something, that's what I buy.  And when you are close to 6 feet tall high heels just don't make sense.  Shoes in this size aren't cute or fun, they are just functional.  So I typically take 3 pairs - black sensible dress shoes (goes with everything), sneakers (in case I actually do decide to exercise someday, and Tevas (for my beach wanderings.) 

2. In Sartre’s play No Exit the three main characters are stuck in a room with no exit and don’t like each other. They eventually realize that hell is being stuck with each other forever. What person or persons would be hell for you to be stuck with in a room forever? If you don’t want to name names, just speak in generalities ie..the girl who relentlessly picked on you in third grade.

Yikes!  I don't even like to think about this one - it's too scary!  There are a couple of personality traits that drive me bonkers, so let's go with those:

1 - people who can't stop talking.  A little conversation is a good thing, but there comes a time when we all need the wonderful sound of silence.  I could probably list at least a dozen people I know who fall into this category.  You know, the ones who when they call you on the phone force you to lie and say - "gotta go, someone is at the door."

2- Extremists - yes, people who hold extreme views drive me absolutely crazy.  In all but a few very extreme situations (like murder) I can usually at least understand both sides of an argument.  I'm a very moderate person and I don't believe I have the answers to everything (but I do know a lot of the questions.)  I seem to bump into many people who think their point of view is the only valid one, and they have the right answer to everything.  Especially in politics.  

3. In honor of the inauguration: If you could ask any US President, living or dead, one question and he would have to answer it HONESTLY, which President would you pick, and what question would you ask?

This wanders into the political arena, which I usually try to avoid because it seems to bring out the worst in almost everyone.  But having a political figure forced to be HONEST is really an interesting concept.  I'd probably have to ask George W Bush "who convinced you that there were WMD's in Iraq, and how strong was your belief in what they said?"  Does that count as two questions?  

4. Our local newspaper does a weekly thing where they stop someone on the street, ask what the top ten songs are their iPod are and print them. What song in your entire music collection would you be most embarrassed to see in print next to your name?

So I'm not supposed to be embarrassed to see it in print on the relative anonymity of my blog, huh?  Okay, most of the embarrassing songs on my iPod are embarrassing because they are kid songs, or pop candy type stuff.  But there is one in particular that is embarrassing enough I can't even print the whole title: 
Jimmy Buffet - Why Don't We Get Drunk and S*&^%  (I just put the whole CD on my iPod, and this song was on it, really:)

5. Are you a “hat person”? If so, describe your hat or hats. If not, explain why.

I love hats!  I don't wear mine often, but I do have an impressive collection.  One of my favorites is this cowgirl hat, worn back in the days when line dancing was my favorite activity.  Another is my much loved black cashmere fashion hat that I got in Germany (there's a good story behind the hat, maybe a future blog topic.)  The photo is of me in younger days, on top of a mountain in Switzerland.   

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Last week I received the sad news that one of my favorite stores - a scrapbooking store - is going out of business.  They sent me a mailer and emails with really slick offers.  This store happens to carry some items that aren't available from the big crafting retailers, so I decided on New Years Day to make the 30 minute trek down to the store to stock up on these items at 25% off.  

When we pulled into the parking lot, there was no warning of what awaited us.  I got a lovely parking spot and Diva and I headed in.  I quickly selected the items I wanted, and got in the very long line to wait to check out.  And I waited, and waited.  At 30 minutes into the wait, I briefly considered leaving.  After all, I could order this stuff online later.  But no, I had already invested over an hour of my time, so I continued to wait.  For a total of 2 hours.  And forget saving any money, I had to take Diva out to dinner and buy her something to make up for the fact that we stood in line for 2 hours.  

So the net effect was - I spent $70 on stuff I don't need right now, but might need in the future.  It was on sale, so I probably saved $30 over what I could purchase it for in the future should I really need it.  For this, I invested almost 4 hours of my time (counting the drive there and back) and spent an additional $40 or so on dinner and a consolation prize for my ten year old.  What on earth was I thinking?

Well, I'm reading a really interesting book right now - Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, that addresses the 'what was I thinking.'   It seems I never had a chance at a rational decision because of the way our brains are wired.  And good marketers, including the really slick one running this going out of business sale, know this and exploit it.   

I'm hoping after I read this book, I can at least cut back on:
~ buying things I don't need
~ rushing out to get something 'free' that isn't really
~ accepting 'free' stuff that I really don't want
~ paying too much for something because it seems like a bargain

So, if you can relate to the above, head to your local library and check out this book.  At least you will know you are in good company!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fun Monday - What's on My Mind in 2009

Faye at Summit Musings is our hostess for the first Fun Monday of 2009. She has thrown the following thought provoking question at us:
"What's on your mind as we close out 2008 and begin 2009? Large and small. What are often your first thoughts the minute you wake up? When you're alone and unguarded? Working? Stuck in traffic? Playing with the children? Walking the dogs? When you can't sleep?"

This was a lot harder than I anticipated.  There are so many things that are always on my mind -- my family, parenting skills (and lack thereof), my dismal time management skills, passing my classes, making sure my students learn something, getting into better shape physically, and on and on.  But I decided to think a bit 'bigger' for this assignment, and here's what I came up with:

1.  Is courtesy contagious?  I'm going to try to be a bit more courteous to everyone I come into contact with, in the hopes that some of it rubs off.  Because basic courtesy seems to be a lost art.  From rude comments on message boards and online articles, to rude drivers, to rude parents, and even rude fellow customers in stores and restaurants -- maybe if someone shows them an alternate way to behave, some will follow....  Not all, but maybe a few.....  Maybe just one...  and they can show another one....  

2.  Do we have the right leadership?  Yes, but sometimes we need to look a little harder for our leaders instead of assuming they are just the elected officials we send to DC.  There are people who have vision, ability, and resources who are even now doing something that can provide long term solutions.  One of them is right here in NH - Dean Kamen - inventor of the Segway (among other things) and founder of the FIRST Robotics competition for high school students.  From today's NH Union Leader comes coverage of the 2009 FIRST kickoff, and his speech, which includes these quotes:
"You can't confuse the real invention of wealth with this superficial movement of money, this shell game that's been played by bankers and the Wall Street crowd," he said after his speech. "It's time to get back to basics and invest in serious projects that will create serious wealth."

"Why do we do FIRST? Because the world's a mess," Kamen said. "Read the news, look around you. ... Two-thirds of the people alive today, or 4 billion people, are living on less than $2 a day, and half of those are living on $1. You're the richest people in the world by far, and the world's a mess, and somebody's got to fix it."

He believes in our future, and he's doing something about it.  I too want to be part of the solution to the crises that seem to surround us from every angle.  I'm not a multimillionaire or a famous inventor, but even if I just do small things like volunteering and being a bit more friendly and courteous to those around me, maybe I'll influence someone.  Just one person... and they can influence one person... And so it goes.....  

Happy 2009 to all my Fun Monday friends!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I am an Ice Princess!

Under the heading "it is never too late to enjoy a happy childhood," today I started ice skating lessons. So did Diva. If it weren't for the rink's policy of separating adults and children, we would be in the same class -- beginner level 1.

I'll admit it - Diva was less than enthused about the idea of ice skating - she wanted to take skiing lessons again this year. But as my weight and age both keep climbing in proportion to each other, skiing is getting a bit tough on the body. Last year I didn't really enjoy skiing as much because I kept thinking of all my friends who have had knee surgery as a result of skiing injuries. I've always dreamed of gliding across the ice, spinning gracefully around, maybe landing a jump... Then again, I've also dreamed of skating well enough to not break any bones, which seems a reasonable goal.

I was a avid roller skater back in my younger years. That song about 19-80 Something "skating rinks and black TransAms" I can totally relate to. Of course, growing up in Southern IL there weren't a lot of ice skating rinks, it was all roller skates. I tried ice skating a couple of times, and found blades much more difficult to control than wheels.

Today I learned to stop (for some reason they consider this a critical part of the first lesson), Go, turn around, and go backwards. I also learned how to fall correctly (I'm hoping I won't need to use this knowledge) and how to get back up. Diva learned the same things. Thankfully she is now enthused about ice skating too. Its cheaper than skiing, and closer to home too!

Once I start gliding gracefully I'll have Kilowatt take pictures!