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!  

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My New Best Friend

As a transplant to New England, I can still recall my amazement when introduced to a few of the items that are somewhat unique to this region. Ever heard of a frappe? How about candlepin bowling? And what about a tonic? I learned about those within months of moving to NH, but I had to wait until I became a homeowner to learn about my topic du jour - the snowblower.

You see, in places where snowfall is measured in feet, and where the snow doesn't entirely melt between storms, clearing your driveway with a shovel isn't really practical. Unless, of course, you have a really small driveway or are looking for a really great workout. Over, and over, and over..... So man invented the snowblower, which takes all that snow and blows it through the air into a big pile at the side of the driveway, hence the name snowblower. The basic snowblower looks a lot like a roto-tiller, the operator walks behind it and it blows the snow. It may or may not be self propelled.

We picked up a basic model when we moved in the house. About a year later I asked Kilowatt to show me how to use it, and quickly learned that this monster and I were incompatible (the snowblower and I, that is.) It was heavy, loud, and had such vibration that it made my arms go numb -- for a couple of days. So for ten years I was totally reliant on Kilowatt to clear the driveway. On the rare occasions where Kilowatt was not home for a storm, I fell back on the trusty snow shovel and All-Wheel Drive. In other words, just shovel enough to get the car in and out of the driveway.

Our New Year's present 2008 was a new snow blower. Since our lawn mower was kind enough to die the same year as the snow blower, we replaced both with a combination big lawn tractor that includes a snowblower attachment for the winter months. We justified it by the fact that I would be able to operate this one.

Fast forward to today.... Kilowatt is out of town for a few days, and Mother Nature gave us 8 inches of new snow as a New Year's gift. So I bundled up and off I went. It was a balmy 9 degrees this morning. Periodic wind gusts brought the wind chill well below 0. Did I mention I'm a wimp when it comes to cold?

The snow was light and fluffy. I started on our second driveway and it seemed no matter what direction I turned that little blower thingy, the snow was blowing right back into my face. The good news is that this little machine is fast, so it didn't take me too long to become totally encrusted in snow with a clear driveway. I shoveled the steps, and headed back indoors. As I approached the front door, I could see my reflection in the glass -- and now I know what the Abominable Snowperson looks like!

Okay Mother Nature, now I know how to work this thing -- could you wait a few days for the next storm? Kilowatt will be home this weekend!