Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fridays are Fun...

...because weekends are amazing. Thanks for receiving the guest blogs so well. It's such a strange feeling to write for someone else's blog, almost like you're speaking your words with their voice. It's fun, though!

Jim's mother has finally come for a visit, just when we were planning to spend the weekend relaxing. And Dadumms has decided to have a small party for Momolla's birthday this weekend, as well. I'm not at all looking forward to the drive, Jim and I will have to go through Philadelphia, and the President is coming to the city this weekend, so several major highways will be shut down for a while. On top of that, there is a local football game on Sunday. Also, the local baseball team is playing at home in the World Series that day. Also also, there are going to be five or six various charitable events going on throughout the day and causing well-meant chaos. What this all translates into (other than a tedious lack of non-sports related conversation in the news and workplace) is a massive, scary amount of traffic. There are only a few ways in, out, or through the city, which makes traveling difficult. We're looking into different ways to get to Jersey from here. Cross your fingers for us, eh?

In other news, I start my shiny new job on Monday. I'm a little nervous, because my boss is going to a big industry even on Monday, and won't be back for the rest of the week. So, things will be interesting. Still, it will be blissfully quiet without a dozen phone lines ringing in my ears all day. I'll keep you guys posted as things progress.

Halloween is tomorrow, and I'm sort of looking forward to it. Unlike so many of my friends, I'm not going out to party (when did every holiday become an excuse to go out and get really stupidly drunk?), because I'm going to stay home and give candy out to the trick-or-treaters. I like to think of it as karma, since I spent so many happy years going out to get free sugar from the neighbors. Jim was determined that we would be the cool house that gives out full-sized candy bars this year, in a blatant attempt to lure more kids in. We're the only house on our block, really, so we never see more than a handful of kids come through (this makes perfect sense, really, because you want to cover as much ground as efficiently as possible in the time you're allowed). This makes me a little sad, because I love watching the kids troop by in their costumes. Halloween was one of my very favorite holidays for a very long time, and it makes me happy to see kids enjoying it now.

In review:
--Jim's mom finally made it up. Yay!
--I will probably spend most of Sunday sitting in gridlocked traffic. Boo! Hiss!
--I am incredibly tired of hearing about baseball. I could not care less about it under any circumstances, and at this point, I wouldn't start caring if all the players stripped naked and dipped themselves in cheese.
--We're the cool house with the good candy this year. Maybe we'll get real trick-or-treaters
--I burned myself twice tonight cooking dinner, which is pretty unusual and sucky for me.
--Weekend!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Guest Blog Number 2

Well that saves me the trouble of thinking of a nifty title. This is Jim, oft mentioned in Em's blog, and just as often made too much of. I've come to guest blog, and I have no clear cut objective to blog about. In addition to that I'm on a time limit of approximately 30 minutes as Em is making porkchops for dinner tonight and doesn't want me to be late for dinner.

The L key on my backlit keyboard no longer works 60 percent of the time. This annoys me to no end. I haven't upgraded my computer for about 2 years now, and thankfully i haven't had to. I'm one of those guys that when something breaks on his computer or car or really anywhere, he uses it as an excuse to upgrade said part.

F-bomb, i need to listen to my music more often, i love metal music! Can you drop F-bombs on blogs? i guess so but im censoring myself just in case.

I'm listening to Lamb of God right now. They're a death metal band that has an especially heavy/grungy/brutal sound, and that suits me just fine, check them out if you like, but be warned that they're not for the faint of heart. For the other end of the spectrum of my main music tastes, check out the band called Red. They're more of a regular rock band. My tastes for music run in this vein: if its not death metal, then it is speed metal with very intricate guitar playing at high speeds or hard rock like Metallica, or some other form of music that involves drums and electric guitars with heavy distortion. Kind of a contrast to Em, who prefers more melodic music for the most part, and light rock.

Emily got me new leaf springs for my Jeep Cherokee for my birthday, which pretty much just kicks ass! They're exactly what i wanted for my birthday (truck parts!) and will make the ride of the truck much more solid and less spongey on and off the road. I figure my dad and i will put them on in a few weeks when i'm sure i have all of the hardware that is needed to do the install. It's an involved process that you don't want to be stuck on halfway through. The springs are special in that they keep the truck lifted without using blocks between the stock leaf springs and the axles, which results in axle wrap and instability off road. I always joke that i like my vehicles the opposite of how i like my women: i like my vehicles to be big, brutal, ugly beasts, and they don't need to be real fast either. I lucked out because Em is directly opposite that: small, awesome, purdy, and smart as anything!

Speaking of my truck, work is going well for both of us. I'm sure that Emily has blogged about her new job, and I'm glad she is going to like it so much more than Pep Boys. That place was hell for both of us; nothing like being the main target for abuse day in and day out. I'm still waiting for that elusive job posting for a promotion that i can apply for, but i think something will come up soon. At least i hope so, i could use the extra money to pay off my credit card debt. I'm hoping to get some sort of promotion in relation to our sister site, americantrucks. This would be good as the trucks are more what i'm in to as opposed to the mustangs. I'm working on as many side projects as i can for americantrucks, trying to get it off the ground and into the aftermarket mainstream so that it really takes off. If this happens, i stand a better chance of promotion and more money.

We're going to get Left 4 Dead 2 in mid November! Our roommate Mike preordered it, and the whole house abused the original Left 4 Dead, so it will definitely kick some asses. We're all psyched for it! I sense a zombie killing party happening in Nov or Dec at some point. And maybe another Magic the Gathering party as well? That would be legit.

So the Phillies are in the World Series. Big whoop, i don't follow baseball. Football and Hockey on the other hand are two of my favorite sports. Em humors me and knits while i watch football some sundays, but she doesn't want anything to do with hockey. This puzzles me because hockey is so much more fast paced. Oh well, she's awesome even without liking sports or anything competitive.

What else can i throw up on here? If you couldnt tell i'm just letting my mind spew out whatever comes up onto the blog. Yup, no insights or epiphanies here, just good old mental vomit through my fingertips. Subtle and dainty? Nope, not my style.

I'm gonna shut this one down with a hearty "Thank You!" to all of Em's blog friends. You all seem like great people who i am very happy that she's gotten the chance to meet. You guys make her smile, and not a day goes by that she doesn't check your blogs. Add to that the fact that you're going to read this blog and tolerate my everyday shotgun style of thought processes, and that makes you freakin awesome.

P.S: Em and Mrs. Wood, i dedicate all the errors in grammar and non-capitalized i's to you both! :D

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Guest Post 1...

... brought to you today by none other than Momolla! You can find her at her blog here, where she has also been participating in Blogtoberfest.


So, what to say about my children? Of course they are the most beautiful, smart, funny young women on the face of this or any other planet. They are also ruthless. Don’t, I repeat DON’T make the mistake of becoming a zombie around them. They will double tap you in the head without a scintilla of remorse. I know this for a fact. They remind me frequently.

They are my Wood Women, much to their father’s chagrin. Pk and I were separated for two years when the girls were little. We were driving along and they were bemoaning the fact that we were “alone” and what would we do? I pulled the car over to the side of the road and said “We are Wood Women! We are strong, and we can do anything!” I held my fist in the air and they giggled. But it stuck. Now, when courage or strength are failing, all I have to do is say “remember, you are a Wood Woman” and they can find the last bit of umph. I am inordinately proud of them.

They are warm hearted and kind (along with the ruthless thing). They would give the shirt off their backs to someone in need. They have reached out over the years to extend a helping hand to folks in need.

Our definition of “family” is kinda loose. We have adopted many people who needed a safe haven over the years. Em reminds me of when I used to buy certain fruits that her friend Rachel liked because Rachel spent so much time at our house. It’s very different from the way I was raised. As the girls dated young men, we became attached and mourned their loss when the relationship ended. (I still miss Gio and Tony). They have entered into relationships that are enriching our family in more ways that I can count. Em’s significant other is such a good guy. He has a wicked sense of humor and seems to fit right in to the weird stew that is our family. Kate is in a young relationship and we’ll see but her young man is also a good one. El is unattached but I know one day she’ll find someone who appreciates her for her unique perspective on the world.

So, there is a snippet of the miracles that are my girls. Sometimes I have felt sorry for Pk because he is trapped in an estrogen filled world. He seems to handle it ok.

All things considered, I’m a lucky woman.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Awkward Conversations...

...sadly, they're a fact of life. And, as the department stores are already reminding me, The Holidays are coming up. What this means is that, between the work parties, the gatherings with family, and encounters with random strangers, your awkward conversation quotient will soon be steadily rising. So I thought I'd lend everyone a hand and list a couple of classy, appropriate ways to end an awkward conversation gracefully. That didn't work out so well, so instead, I'm posting a list of crude, rude, ridiculous ways to end a conversation. Feel free to try these out, but only at your own risk.

--Talk about turtles (you can insert any noun you are sufficiently interested in here), make everything the other person says, no matter how non-turtle-related, about turtles. Refuse to acknowledge any subject changes.
--Mention your testicles. This is especially effective if you're a woman.
--When asked about your relatives, even those standing in the room with you, say they are dead. Alternatively, you could say they are in prison/witness protection/have robbed a bank.
--Say you've converted to a religion. Make it up as you go, but make sure it's as crazed as possible. You can only eat green-colored foods on days that have less than three syllables, or you now worship pet rocks. The more bizarre, the better.
--Walk around carrying a ball of yarn, and refer to it as a bunny. Ask people to pet the bunny at every opportunity.
--Whenever an opinion is expressed, either agree sycophantically, or disagree as though the matter were so important, the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
--Make every reply into a question, especially in response to questions.
--Respond to every question as though it were an off-color joke or euphemism, and waggle your eyebrows knowingly. Alternatively, simply say, 'that's what he/she said!' every time someone says anything at all.
--Tell off-color jokes. Tell them poorly, and skip the euphemisms.
--Discuss the trials of personal hygiene, and mention that you've given up on it entirely.
--Constantly stare off into space over the other person's shoulder. Refuse to make eye contact, and try to look concerned. When asked what you are looking at, act as though the other person is crazy.
--Tell everyone that you're not normally like this, but the punch has gone to your head. This works only when you're having a soft drink (especially from a can), or the punch is non-alcoholic.
--Discuss the time you spent in prison, and how 'stalker' is such a mean, unfair word. Follow this up with a series of personal, inappropriate questions.
--Reminisce about the time you were kidnapped for four days by a band of roving ninjas, but singlehandedly fought them off, only to have to join forces with some pirate vampires to defeat a legion of aliens bent on destroying the world's supply of cheese.
--Any time you are asked a personal question, no matter what it's about, say 'well, I woke up one morning on a beach in Mexico hugging an inflatable sheep. It must have been the tequila, but I don't like to talk about it'.
--Ask a question, appear to listen intently, and then ask the same question again as soon as the person you're talking to has answered. See how many times you can get away with this.
--Have the person you are talking to come outside with you to check your vehicle for homing devices planted by the government. Say you had a local garage check, but that you think they're in on the conspiracy. (i swear, two different customers asked us to check their vehicles for illegal tracking devices).

And there you have it. When faced with awkwardness, the best solution is to add even more awkwardness!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beef Stew...

...does anybody have a particularly good recipe? I'm going to make it for Jim and Coll's birthday dinner, but I've never done anything other than wing it. I figure, if I'm going to be serving it to people, I ought to make sure it's decent.

In other news, I spun like a fiend tonight. The silk wasn't working with me very well, and I need some more patience and time before I start to work with it. So, I started working with the llamney. Gosh, it spins up quick! In half an hour of spinning, I had half a bobbin filled. I'm looking forward to finishing this and plying it, it will be so warm and fuzzy. It should only be a few more days before it's finished. It's nice to not be incredibly slow at something.

Sadly, that's all I have for you today. It was a busy, but uneventful day.

In review:
--Got a good beef stew recipe? I could use one
--I bought some sweet knee-high boots yesterday. They were on sale, it was totally necessary
--Tonight was speed spinning, it was pretty impressive

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How's This?

... much as I like the Courier font, I like you guys to be able to read the blog without squinting or doing that thing where you highlight all the text and read it that way. I switched up the background and font colors, too, because as Bells pointed out, light text on a dark background can be difficult on the eyes. Hopefully, this made it easier on y'all's eyes. Let me know what you think, eh?

You know those days over the weekend where you want so very much to sleep in, but your body is pretty much programmed to wake up at a certain time, so even though you stayed up insanely late the previous night, you still wake up like you're going to work (even though on the weekdays, it's a battle to wake up with the alarm)? Don't you just hate those? Yeah, me too.

The church across the street still has a functioning bell. They only ring it on Sundays when a mass lets out. It's such a beautiful, deep, resonant sound. Makes me think of all the books that mention churchbells tolling across an entire city, and how amazing that must be. Also, of the University clock in Ankh-Morpork that tolls silences instead of sound (terry pratchett is amazing. if you've never read one of his discworld books, you are missing out on something wonderful).

Today is going to be lovely and peaceful. The boys are all sleeping downstairs still. I think Jim mentioned going out to breakfast somewhere, which is okay by me. In fact, I might stay home and luxuriate in having the house to myself for a while. The quiet will be delicous. I know they'll head home later in the afternoon (what, doesn't everyone have parties that span whole days?), and I can clean up whatever wreckage is left behind and relax for a while. There's nothing pressing to do today, and nowhere I have to be. It's a beautiful feeling. I'll probably make some kind of soup for dinner, because it's a cool, blustery day. At least the sun is out, though!

In review:
--How does the newer and improveder font/color scheme work? Any easier to read?
--Churchbells are pretty nifty
--Yarn is going to be skeined and washed and thwacked (my favorite part) today
--The breadmaker will probably be pressed into service again. Mmmm!
--There are a few large, sleeping young men scattered over my living room floor

Renovations...

... here on the blog, that is. What do you guys think of the new-ish design? It's not very daring or different from the old settings, but I think I like this. I'm a little undecided on the font, though. I'm fond of Courier, but I can't help but think it can be a little difficult to read sometimes.

This was a good day, all things considered. Jim's mom wasn't able to make it up this weekend, but his dudes came up to hang out. It's 3 am an they're down there going strong. Me, I needed to hit the bed. I know this is technically Sunday, but it still feels like Saturday until I finally go to bed and eventually wake up. Weekends are a beautiful thing, and I can't tell you how much I cherish getting two whole days off in a row to sleep in and relax.

I stayed up this late because I was caught up in a spinning marathon. I finally finished and plied the blue merino I've been working on, and it will get skeined, washed, and thwacked tomorrow. It's going to be a scarf for Laura, and I can't wait to see how it knits up. Now that the merino is off the wheel, I can play with some of the llamney (llama and romney blended together) Momolla gave me, or the scarlet silk that I have. The llamney is soft and pretty, but somehow, the silk is calling to me. I'll let you know how my first foray into spinning silk goes, it's sure to be an adventure, with how steep my learning curve is. Jim's dudes are fascinated by the wheel for some reason, and one in particular asked dozens of questions. It's kind of difficult to break down the technical aspects of how spinning works, why you ply your singles, and what the washing and thwacking does for your yarn for someone who's not at all into fiber. Still, it's worth explaining, even if only so people don't look at you quite so oddly.

In review:
--I have a theory that men don't have inside voices. I think it's a genetic issue linked to the y chromosome or something
--Lots of spinning happened today. Lots and lots, as my knee can tell you
--I make a pretty kick-ass fried meatball
--Tomorrow will be lovely

Friday, October 23, 2009

Identity Crisis...

... in terms of the blog, I mean. Me, I know who I am... Most days, anyway. But the blog, well, I'm a little less sure of that. Some days it feels like a diary. Others, it feels like a soapbox. Every so often, it feels like a place to talk about my crafts. Once in a blue moon, it's a lovely place to talk about food.

There are bamillions of blogs out there, each one a little different, and dedicated to something else. There are craft blogs, where people show off their awesome stuff-making skills, food blogs where people show off their awesome cooking/baking skills or talk about awesome restaurants. Some people run blogs about books and literature, while others use their spaces to discuss religion. And then, there are the vanity blogs. These are the blogs that don't have much of a purpose, except to be about someone. Some of them are written with humor, wit, and insight. Many of them are coherent and interesting. And then, there are the crazed, jumbled blogs like this one.

It started out as a knitting blog, when I participated in my first Tour de France Knitalong (i have a terrible record with reaching my goals for those). I had good intentions of knitting and putting pictures up and making this an interesting, creative space. And then, I started talking about my life a little. The transition from sort-of knitblog to total vanity endeavor was complete. For a while, there was no knitting content (well, okay. for great huge whacks of this blog, there has been no knitting content) because there was no knitting. Once I started to read other blogs, and to look around the interwebs a little more, I realized that there's not a whole lot I can contribute to knitting blogs, or food blogs, or literature blogs, or any topic-specific blog, really. I'm not that eloquent, and my thoughts and contributions aren't that compelling.

Still, I wanted to keep up with the blog. I really do love writing, and I thought it might be nice to have a record for myself later on, even if nobody else ever read it. I still go back and read my old entries sometimes, as narcissistic as that is, because it's good to remember and they help me see how far I've come. This is especially true of the last year. The blog gave me a place to vent a little, and to work things through in my own way. Best of all, though, the blog gave me new friends. The internet is great for a lot of things, but the best part of it, as near as I can tell, is the way it brings people from all over together. I can claim friendship with some amazing people across the country, and across the world, who I would never have met without this little blog. For that, I am grateful. I love you guys, and I love having the chance to be part of your lives the way you're part of mine.

For a while, I was considering changing the blog format drastically. After I thought about it (read: agonized for ages), I decided to keep things the way they are. This is my space to be me, whoever and whatever that happens to be on any given day. When I knit, it will be a blog about knitting. When there's spinning, it will be a blog about spinning. And when crazy stuff happens, it'll be a blog about crazy stuff (and there's always plenty of that to go around). Basically, the blog is me, in written format. It's comfortable this way, and I don't get too much hate mail, so things will be staying as they are for the forseeable future.

In review:
--This is totally a vanity blog. I've dropped all pretense of it being anything else
--I'm happy with it that way, so the content will be consistent with what it is now (utterly random)
--Got the house cleaned last night. Roxie, you're right, I wouldn't have regretted it on my deathbed. But Jim's mom is sleeping on our couch this weekend, and since I invited her, I figured it was only fair that she get to sleep on a clean couch.
--Tonight, there will be spinning! I think...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Five Word Blog...

More chores, not enough sleep. :(

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Easy Tips for Improving Customer Service...

... Having spent all of my many working years in various forms of customer service, I feel that I'm pretty well qualified to offer a few pointers for making your many customer service encounters as smooth and easy as possible. Most of them are common sense, but it's easy to overlook the basics sometimes. I've been a consumer and a service provider, so I'm familiar with both sides of the coin and how things work. We all have to work with customer service folks from time to time, and we've all had some good and some terrible experiences. Hopefully, the advice here will help you have less of the terrible kind. One horrible interaction can ruin your whole day, and your whole experience with a company. So, here are my tips for making your experiences with customer servants as easy and friendly as possible.

--Be aware of the company's policies about shipping and returns before you make a purchase. Few things suck more than buying something expensive, discovering that it's not what you wanted, and not being able to return it.
--If you have to call with a question or an issue, have as much information as possible. If you can find it, have your order number and any information you used to order your products close to hand (if you're working with someone in a store face-to-face, a receipt always makes things about a million times easier, and means that you're more likely to get cash back, rather than store credit). It'll make things faster for you and easier for the person you're working with.
--Be as clear as possible when describing a defective product. If there seems to be shipping damage, mention that. The more descriptive, the better.
--If, for whatever reason, you are unspeakably angry about something (and we've all been there), wait until you can discuss the issue without screaming or throwing things to try to return it or resolve the issue.
--Customer servants are people, and as such, can be mean just because. If you end up with someone who's mean, rude, condescending, or just unpleasant, ask for a manager politely. If the person tells you no, request another customer servant. Be polite, but insistent.
--Remember, if you're working with someone over the phone, they more than likely have a system for logging notes about their interactions with you. They will keep tabs of when you call, what you ask, and how you treat the person you're working with. It's only fair that you should do the same, where necessary.
--Speaking as a customer servant, I can tell you firsthand, we work harder to help the nice people than the mean ones. Even if something is horribly wrong, if you're at least polite about it, we will be inclined to work that much harder to fix it for you.
--If you have a great experience, e-mail or call the company. Sometimes, they send you free stuff.
--Much as it pains me to admit it, if you travel far enough up the chain of command after having a claim denied or an issue ignored, the decision is usually reversed.
--Every so often, there comes a time when the only solution is to pitch a fit. It's not often, but sometimes, it's the only way to get what you need or want.

In review:
--The more information you have when working with someone, the better
--If the person you're working with is not pleasant, or at least civil, ask for a supervisor
--Rarely, the only way to get what you want is to be demanding. Politeness is still nice, but firmness is key
--Training today was pretty cool, I spent twenty or thirty minutes discussing a sentence with my new boss.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free Pass...

...I totally forgot about a blog last night. And the way the day went, nothing I wrote would have come out well. And so, I am giving myself a pass on that entry. Like most other Blogtoberfest bloggers, I am running out of things to say. No, really. I can only do so many 'today I did this and then went here and it was awesome' blogs in a given month before even I start to get sick of them.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with my new boss Jeff and the two owners of our company. I'm a little nervous, though the owners are only a couple of years older than me. It's a small company, but I haven't yet met either owner officially. The most contact I've had was to tease one guy for eating ramen at his desk (i told him he wasn't giving the rest of us much to aspire to. thankfully, he laughed). So, I'm a little anxious. We'll see how that goes.

Jim's birthday is this weekend, and it's always educational to see how differently he handles these things than I do. I start calling friends and family weeks in advance, and planning a menu and working on cleaning. Jim, on the other hand, calls a couple of guys a week or two before and whenever I mention food, shrugs and says that a couple of bags of chips will be fine. Now, I know that Jim is having his friends up, and it's not really my affair. But dammit, when there are people in my home for a party, they will be fed respectably. So I'm going to make sure there is some beer in the fridge (it'll be an all-night geekfest, so nobody is driving home 'til they've slept it off) and a crock pot full of meatballs and some other snacks to be had. I have this deep, dire compulsion to feed anyone who comes over. I think of it as harnessing my inner housewife.

I think that might be all I have to share with you all today, it's getting late and I'm pretty tired. Hopefully, I'll have something interesting to write for tomorrow.

In review:
--Man, I'm running out of things to talk about. Makes for lame blogging
--Meeting with the dudes who own our company tomorrow. Li'l nervous-making
--Jim sucks at birthdays. But he's cute, so I'll keep him
--I saw a mouse in the bedroom two nights ago (jim asked if i was sure it wasn't a bug. i pointed out that if there was a bug the size of a mouse in the bedroom, there would have been some screaming and flailing). It's game on, now...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shameless Navel Gazing...

...because what good is a vanity blog if you don't get to write whatever the hell you want when you want to (let's face it, this is a knitting blog the way the national enquirer is a newspaper. there are vague, sensationalist stories and lots of filler)? This was another good, relaxing day. We slept late, I made cream puffs (the easiest recipe ever, honestly) and we spent the day at Laura's hanging out with our Jersey friends and relaxing. Jim watched football, but I caught up with my Amy-girl, who I haven't seen in ages. All in all, it was a good day.

I got to spend some time catching up with my girls and relaxing. It was great to just bask in the glow, and to talk face to face for a few hours. I also got to spend some more time with Amy's Mike, who seems to be a good guy. He and Amy are a good fit, and it's nice to watch them together. I was reminded again that I know some pretty amazing young women. Talking to Amy and Laura, I was reminded that things are pretty good right now. We're all working at decent jobs and making ends meet. We're all living our lives on our own terms, independent of our families. And we're all in stable, happy relationships with our men. All in all, this is a pretty good time for us. We've got room to grow, ambitions to realize, and dreams to chase. We've built some nice, solid foundations to work from, and some soft places to land if we miss our goals.

I might be the only blogger on the internet who's never posted a recipe to share, so I think I'll leave you all with my cream puff recipe. The filling options are my own, but the shell recipe is from the Betty Crocker cookbook I inherited from Momolla.

Cream Puffs:

1/2 c water
1/4 c butter or margarine
2 eggs
1/2 c flour

Pre-heat oven to 400 F (about two oh five c). In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a rolling boil. Reduce to low heat and stir the flour in briskly until it forms a ball. Add both eggs and stir vigorously until the mixture is smooth. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet about three inches apart (they don't stick because of all the butter, so you don't really need to prep the sheet at all) and bake for about half an hour to forty-five minutes (the exact time will depend on the humidity and other science-y things), until the shells are golden brown. Cool them away from drafts, and cut the tops off. Scoop any unbaked dough out, being careful not to break the shells.

Fill them with either sweetened whipped cream (lemon and almond flavored were the two favorites that i've tried so far, but classic vanilla is always a hit) or a mixture of whipped cream and pudding (since i didn't have access to my own kitchen, i used instant pudding and whipped cream from a can. they disappeared, anyway.). If you're feeling fancy, you can drizzle them with some chocolate syrup or sprinkle confectioner's sugar over the top. They're pretty, and they taste fantastic. Also, for some reason totally unbeknownst to me, people will think you're a clever person who spend hours in the kitchen. Also, some people might declare their undying love for you, especially if you make your own whipped cream and let them lick the bowl.

In review:
--Today was awesome. Love the house, but I miss being closer to my Jersey girls
--Make cream puffs. They're the easiest dessert ever, though nobody ever believes that
--Why are weekends only two days long? It's just not enough time to properly goof off

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day Off...

it's been a nice one, so far. Kate and Patrick came up for an unexpected visit after their plans for the day changed. I took my camera to the electronics store to see if it could be repaired (we'll know soon), and I did some knitting and spinning. Colleen and I drank plum wine (delicious stuff, and kind of potent) and watched silly girl movies. And now I am back in my bed, eating chocolate and knitting while I listed to a book being read to me. All in all, it's been a pretty nice day.

I like the five word blog format, and I'm thinking I might implement it once a week, since it's kind of a challenge to get something interesting across in five words. Also, it's great for a night when I have something else going on, and blogging time is a little scarce. As for yesterday's post, Laura mentioned me in a paper she wrote about agents of socialization in her life, and how brave I was during the alien baby saga. I appreciate the sentiments, but I'm not sure brave is the right word. Steady, maybe, but not brave. I handled the situation as best I could, but there was still an awful lot of complaining and being afraid involved. I'm pretty sure that means I'm disqualified from being brave.

In other news, I got the forums liaison job I applied for. I'd pretty much given up hope, since it took so long to hear back from my new boss. I'm going to phase over into the new department slowly, starting towards the end of this week, and I should be doing the job full time by the first weekend of November. This will give the customer service department some time to hire a replacement for me, and to train the new person some before they throw them into active duty. I'm pretty excited about the new job, and I'm looking forward to not answering phones all day. I mostly don't mind working with our customers, and I do like helping people and correcting any issues they might have. There's just the occasional customer who is upset and takes it out on me. I know it's a hazard of customer service, and that it's just the way things are. But I surely won't miss it. I'll let you all know how the training goes, and how I like the new job. I feel a little bad leaving the department already, when I've only just been hired, but the department manager wished me well and seemed genuinely pleased for me.

That's really all I have for y'all at the moment. My day has been peaceful and a little boring, and I've loved it. Maybe there will be something more interesting to post tomorrow. If not, I have a few ideas brewing.

In review:
--Kate and Patrick came up for a visit. We had lunch, which was pretty nice.
--Jim's mom didn't come up this weekend, due to some complications. Maybe next weekend, though.
--This was not a good day to spin. Knitting will happen instead and we'll try again tomorrow.
--The weather is disgusting, which means I don't feel bad at all about sitting in bed knitting.
--I have just remembered, we're going to visit Laura tomorrow. Must make cream puffs in the morning.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Five Word Blog...

Laura thinks I'm brave. Weird.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

If I Won the Lottery...

...which is a game we all play sometimes, whether we admit it or not. It's nice to day dream. I've decided I would go back to school. I'd get a PhD in psychology and my master's in law and donate my time to people who needed help. I'd establish places for the 18-year-old 'adults' the foster system abandons to live. I would buy my parents a new house, or build a new one on the land they have now. I'd buy myself a house with enough rooms for Jim to have an office, me to have a library/craft/music room and a spectacular kitchen. I'd get my dad flying lessons, and send Kate and maybe El to Japan. I would hire a maid or a housekeeper. I would so take Momolla shopping with me. I would get a good haircut and pick up some jeans that finally fit, even if I had to pay more than $25 dollars a pair. I would buy shoes. Oh, the shoes.

If I ever won the lottery, I would travel the world and meet new people and visit old friends. I would still have a budget, though spending comes easily to me. I would find someone to give me lessons in whichever instrument struck my fancy at the time. I would host wonderful dinner parties. I would invest in a parking garage in the city to provide decent income. I would find a garage for Jim and buy him a couple of rusty old trucks to play with. I would con Jim into marrying me, and go somewhere exotic for our honeymoon. I would adopt a dog, or maybe two. Mostly, I would relax.

What about you? What would you do if you had no budgetary restrictions? Buy a desert island? Go on a shopping spree?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I believe...

--That perception is not reality, but that it sure has a hell of an impact on it
--That it doesn't matter who you love or how you love them, so long as they're a consenting adult
--There is nowhere near enough love in the world
--Instant meals are wonderful, but nowhere near as good as home-cooking
--You get back what you put out into the world
--Karma is a bitch
--That people change, sometimes for the better and sometimes not
--Everybody needs a bosom buddy to share secrets with
--We are all stronger, smarter, and more amazing than we give ourselves credit for
--There is magic left in the world, if you know where to look
--There are many gods, and they are all facets and aspects of one god
--We all walk our own paths, to our own destinations, and all these paths deserve respect
--Life needs the bitter to enhance the sweet
--That you should be nice to customer servants, always. They're people, too
--In tipping your waitperson well, they work crazy hard
--Chocolate can do a lot to make a crappy day better.
--Crying and laughter are both incredibly healing
--Some things happen for a reason, and some happen just because
--You can't always get what you want, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try
--Sometimes, all you can do is let go
--Moving outside your comfort zone is liberating and terrifying
--Failure makes you grow, if you do it right
--Success is relative
--Nice matters
--Women are crazy
--Men are also crazy
--Beauty is a state of mind

Good Intentions...

...but bad results. I was meaning to post again yesterday, but we had so many errands to run after work that I went home, ate some dinner, did some straightening up, and fell asleep. I am an old woman these days, and I'm okay with that. And so today, there will be two posts from work. On the one hand, it will give me something to do. And on the other, if I write both posts early, I can rest easy knowing that I'm caught up.

I woke up sore again this morning, ready to have a good grumble and spend the rest of the day being all crabby and grumpy. But then I realized that nine months ago, I was diagnosed with a giant tumor. Five months ago, I was operated on. And today, I can move and stretch and lift and carry things. And I feel like a normal person again, and the whole experience is being assimilated better. There are some days where I forget about the scar. There are several days where I hardly hurt at all. Sure, I'm still sore and the muscles are still recovering. But mostly, I'm back. I'm me again, just me. Living my life as best I can, healthy and whole and happy. So maybe it's time to change my outlook, and rather than whining about hurting, be grateful that I'm healthy. I'm lucky. And I'm happy.

So for today, I am going to concentrate on the happy and the good. It wouldn't have taken much for the past several months to turn out differently, and not nearly so well. What's not to be happy about?

I finished the handspun scarf for real last night; I finally wove the ends in. I'm debating washing and blocking it. It's easily the most beautiful thing I have ever made with my own two hands. I can hardly bear to put it away and let it sit til it's time to wrap it up. I also finished my handwarmers/fingerless mitts. They're made from the gorgeous Noro RoseRed sent me back in April, and they were an adventure. I've never worked with anything like this yarn before, it's a single-ply and the variations in color and texture kept what would have been a pretty boring knit pretty interesting. They're fraternal stripey twins, which makes it easy to distinguish between the right and left mitts. The left is just a little longer, to keep that hand a little warmer. I've got a few other projects I'm working on at the moment, and a sizeable list of things I'd like to accomplish in the next two months or so. It might not all get done, but it's good to have goals.

In review:
-Life is good. Not perfect, but plenty good.
-Knitting is fun, especially when you make yourself pretty things.
-Having a job where you can blog from work is pretty awesome
-I have gone way, way overboard in my list of knitting projects for the next two months. This should be interesting...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Belated Monday Post

Because I slipped and totally forgot to write an entry for yesterday. Go, me! I was a little wiped out yesterday, work was crazy. But then, when isn't it?

Tonight will be busy, too, and the rest of the week into the weekend. Jim's mom is coming up for a visit. I invited her, because she's in a really tough living situation right now and it seems like she could use a bit of a break. Our house may not be exciting, but it's restful. And after tonight, it'll be clean.

I must confess, my quest to keep the house cleaner has been going slightly better, but not as well as I'd hoped. I think a large part of the problem is the sheer amount of stuff we have, and the lack of organization to it. Also, we're all kind of lazy when it comes to cleaning. Still, the house looks better. The kitchen floor is still sticky, but the dishes are done and the counters are fairly clean. The bedroom is in pretty poor shape again, but that's because it's the room where all the stuff that doesn't have a place on the bottom floor goes. Oh, well. If given a choice between being happy and mentally stable and having a clean house, I will take the former every time.

In review:

-Slacking off is good for you. I have decided this is truth.
-Wish I brought a darning needle to work today. My mitts are pretty much done
-Next post today will be about the knitting. I swear I still know how to move sticks and string
-It's amazing what you can get done when you have a regular, normal schedule

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Second Sunday Post...

...and, despite my best intentions, I have nothing much else to report or to comment on. Today was my day to relax and unwind, and I took advantage of that time to listen to a book and knit. I didn't get dressed until four, and only then put on old, ragged sweats. Friends, it was liberating. We've been so busy lately, trying to keep up with all our loved ones and spend time with everyone whenever we had the time, that Jim and I were both pretty burned out. Not that we don't love our friends, but everybody needs a lazy day or two. So today, we just relaxed. I didn't fret about cleaning, I didn't worry about finishing the laundry or being productive. Jim managed to be more productive than I, he washed the dishes. He would also like me to point out that he 'did stuff outside, too.' (jim is helping me blog tonight. he says hello!)

Being lazy doesn't mean I was entirely unproductive. I managed to finish knitting a scarf that's meant to be given as a Christmas gift. It's made of some handspun, and I do believe I am in love. There's a striping effect, even though the yarn itself is a riot of colors, that I just love. I realize that it's early to be thinking of any holidays other than Halloween, but since I am what could charitably called excruciatingly slow at knitting, and there are a few other things I would like to make for gifts, getting a head start seems like a good idea. Ideally, I'd like to have something special for everybody in the house and for my family, but we'll see how well that works out.

Tomorrow is Monday, and that means work will be interesting, especially since many people have the day off for Columbus Day (i've always wondered how the native americans feel about us pale folk celebrating 'finding' their home). I'm bringing the handwarmers I'm making for myself because they're easy 1X1 ribbing and I can work on them while I answer easy questions. I've decided a pair is in order, though I'll likely only need the one unless I'm outside. A couple of the guys at work have noticed and petitioned me for a pair. We'll see how generous I'm feeling a little later in the year.

And now, darlings, it's time for me to rest my weary head after a long, hard day of sitting around. I hope that your week is easy and goes swiftly for you, and that you have plenty of opportunities to relax.

In review:
--I was horribly boring today, and I LOVED it!
--Makes for shady blogging, though
--I totally forgot to post a review section on my earlier entry. I am sooo good at this stuff
--Work tomorrow will be trying, but there should be some good knitting time in there. Gotta get my mitts done, the building maintenance crew insists on leaving the air conditioning on.

Feedback...

...is a good thing. I appreciate all the comments from the previous post. You've all got very good points. To answer the question Momolla asked me yesterday, Jim and I haven't had a fight, and I was pretty calm when I wrote that. The verse really is lovely, and I can appreciate the sentiments. But the kind of love it extols is perfect, and it reminds me very much of the Disney movies I watched as a child. What it shows you is perfect, and therefore, almost never real. I do believe that love is powerful, and that it can be a great motivator and a great inspiration. But love also spawns emotions that can make you petty and afraid. Love is wonderful, but it's never perfect, because the people that feel it never are.

Thanks to some issues with my internet connection that our service provider stoutly denies to be possible, I wasn't able to get online to post last night. There will be two posts today to make up for it. I'll try to make sure that the second is another real post. I'd like to save the fluff bits and padding for closer to the end of the month when I'm running out of ideas and stories to share.

Yesterday, my parents celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. My sisters and I spent it with them, wandering around Lancaster's Farmer's Market and a few other shops. Momolla and Dadums graciously bought me a ham for Christmas (a trip to s. clyde weaver's is always a requirement. they have the best bacon you have ever tasted), since we're hosting dinner again, and I expressed a fear of being presented with another canned ham. Kate was 'intrigued' by the fruit tarts. There was a lot of wandering and talking and catching up, since we haven't all been together as a family in rather a while. We had lunch together, and drove over to a shop called Labadie Looms, which has fibers for spinners, weavers, and knitters. The fiber fumes are heady stuff in there.

Since I am on a tight budget (jim's birthday is later this month, and i promised him truck parts), I ignored the honey-colored merino and silk blend. Well, okay. I picked it up and carried it with me for a few minutes, and then sense got the better of me and I put it back down and walked away to clear my head. I did splurge and pick up some gorgeous scarlet silk hankies to spin. I've never worked with silk, and the color called to me (it was less than twenty dollars, so it was an indulgence, but less than half the cost of the original object of me affections). There was no name or color information with it, so I've started to think of it as 'Desire' in the back of my mind. I'm thinking it's going to be a cowl or a broad scarf for me, since I so rarely keep my handspun, and since I'm going back to blonde in a few more weeks. The color won't clash with my hair, though it's so pretty, I would have worn it, anyway.

That's all I have for you all with this post, my darlings. I hope the last bit of your weekend is/was lovely.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Love is...

...many things, some of them wonderful, and some of them not. This is another post that's been stewing in my head lately, because we attended a really lovely wedding a few weeks ago. I don't know what it is about weddings that nobody can find a different Bible passage to read, but the one that always comes up is this one:

“Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.”


And many of these lines bother me. I mean no disrespect for the Bible, or to anyone who likes the verse. It's lovely, and in some lights, it's true. See, love is not always patient. Few things are less patient than the headlong rush into love. Love is certainly not always kind. It might be to the loved one, but to the lover rejected, it can be quite cruel. And said rejected lover certainly envies whoever the object of his or her affections chooses instead.

Love is boastful, and conceited, and quite rude. Who hasn't bragged about how wonderful their lover is? Who hasn't been proud to strut about with their lover on their arm, admiring the dashing figure they cut? And, well, love is tied very closely to lust in many cases, and lust is quite rude. Love is indeed selfish, because at the base, love is about how someone makes you feel and your response to that. Love takes offense more easily than most other emotions. It might forgive, eventually, but the offense is there. Love is touchy, and fragile.

As for there being nothing love cannot face, well, it doesn't tend to do very well with loss, betrayal, or separation. Love surely does have its limits to faith (ask the spouse who's been betrayed, or the child whose parent left) and to its endurance (love, like so many natural things, can't exist in a vacuum).

This is really a lovely verse, and I certainly have nothing against the sentiments. Love is a great and powerful thing. But, like all human emotions, it is different for every person. For some people, love is a great, empowering emotion that leads them to do powerful good in the lives of others. For certain people, love can turn you mean and small and angry with the fear of losing it. Love is something different to each of us, and there are dozens of kinds of love. Romantic love, familial love, platonic love, love of self, and on and on the list goes. Not all of those are grand, sweeping types of love, nor are all lovers grand, faithful, sweeping people.

In the end, I believe that love has as much strength and as much power as the person who feels it. It can bring out the very best, purest motives in a person, and some of the basest ones. And once in a very great while, it can change your whole perspective and make you do something entirely different, and maybe a little better, than you would have been able to manage before. Love can be a consolation, a comfort, and a refuge. But it can also be a knife in the heart. In each situation we deal with every day, love is something different. It's present, and it is great, and it is powerful. But like people, love is flawed, and messy, and real.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Five Word Blog

Quizzo after work is rockin!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sort-of Lazy Blogging...

...or, criticizing popular literature. I feel I should preface this entry by pointing out that fantasy is by far my favorite genre. I have read (and love, deeply) high fantasy, urban fantasy, stories about magic and elves and vampires and werewolves and bards and giants and all manner of things. So, I'm not hating on fantasy here. Much love to the fantasy writers who do a good job (hi, roxie and amy lane!). However, I have a few bones to pick with Stephenie Meyer.

I started listening to Twilight because I was sort of intrigued by the idea. It's hardly new, but well, see the above disclaimer. Fantasy is my genre, baby. However, Stephenie's fantasy really isn't. See, I can suspend disbelief to accept that vampires are real and walk among us. However, I can't make myself believe that they voluntarily put themselves through high school over and over and over again. Come on, high school really isn't the glory years. It's an angsty, confused, hormonal time. Why would a cosmopolitan, century or so old creature put itself through that again and again? That stretches my imagination muscles a little. However, the heroine stretches them to the point where they break.

See, the main vampire admits to the heroine that he's been breaking into her house and watching her sleep. He's been doing this for weeks, even though he seemed to pretty much hate her when they first met. And the heroine doesn't once bring up the words 'stalking' or 'restraining order' or even 'psychotic'. Nope, she tells him it's incredibly romantic and she hopes he'll do it more often. Sorry, nobody is that crazy. Nobody thinks that level of creepiness is okay in real life. Not even a besotted teenager. The vampire admits to his lady love that he could crush her if he loses his concentration for a single moment, and that there's a very, very good chance that he's going to end up killing her. Does she say, 'Well, huh. I think we're done here'? Nope. She says, 'I trust you!' and bats her eyelashes and leans in a little closer.

Also, said heroine must have harnessed the awesome power of pheremones or something, because she starts out the book without a lot of friends and having never had a date. However, three or four chapters in, at least four different young men have asked her out. She suddenly becomes catnip for males. It's just a little too high school wish-fulfillment for me.

And all that, I could have accepted, albeit with a little work. But Stephenie lost me the minute she disclosed one thing. In her magical world of improbable things, vampires are strong, virile, fast, and... they sparkle. I'm sorry, I can't accept a world where vampires choose not to go out in the day because they sparkle. That's just too much, even for me. And I believe in fairies. All in all, it's not a bad book, and I'll probably listen to the end, and move on to the rest of the series. Mainly, though, because I downloaded it for free.

In review:
--Real vampires don't sparkle
--Who gets turned on by skin that feels like marble/ice/stone? I understand a lot of kinky fetishes, but necrophilia just baffles me (the heroine is way into the cold skin thing. creepy!)
--Read something written by Amy Lane instead. There's actually sex and swearing
--Stephenie Meyer basically wrote a book about what she wished high school had been like
--This is not the book to use to illustrate healthy boundaries. Not even a little.

Totally Late

Because I no sooner mentioned my good health than I was struck by a charming stomach virus. What with all the wonderful visits to my enchanting bathroom, I didn't notice the time. I'd planned a real entry here, something mildly interesting. That will have to wait a little longer. I can't believe it's only day six and I've already stumbled and technically missed a blog.

In review:
--I, and my digestive system, are total, utter fail.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Totally Boring Health Update

Which, I have decided, is my favorite kind. Roxie asked me to post and let y'all know how I was doing, and how the healing process is coming along. So far as I can tell, things are coming along swimmingly. I hardly ever have pain in my chest, and when I do, it tends to be short-lived. I'm more comfortable, and I'm slowly getting the strength back in my chest muscles. The numbness is still there, though, which is pretty strange. I can feel pressure when something touches my side, but the skin has no sensation. I'm hoping that the feeling will come back, eventually. I'm thinking the odds are pretty good, since my body is bouncing back from this a million times better than I could have hoped. The weirdest side effect is that my right hand is always warm now, and my left hand is still frigid. I've always had cold hands, so it's a little weird to have a warm one. Maybe I should knit myself one glove or something...

The best, very coolest part about this stage of the recover is that sometimes, I can forget that I'm recovering. I can forget about the whole ordeal, because it's just become a part of me. Perhaps forget isn't the best word for it, you can't just forget this sort of thing. But it's more assimilated, it sticks out in my brain less. The scar doesn't bother me as much (most of the time) and it's a little less obvious (it helps that i don't dress like a tramp). This morning, I left something upstairs and we were running a few minutes late for work. So I hustled up the stairs, grabbed what I needed, and headed back down at speed. I was a little breathless, but considering that less than six months ago, it took me minutes rather than seconds to get up or down the stairs, I'm thinking a little breathless is pretty okay.

That's all the thrilling health news I have for you today, but I do have two exciting announcements. I have secured to special guest bloggers for a little later on in the month. Both have been tentatively assigned to write an essay about my supreme awesomeness, or whatever else catches their fancy. We'll see how that goes. Announcement the second: I'm bringing on a feature I used to use back when myspace was still cool enough for me to blog on. I'll be ending most of my blogs (those with real content, anyway) with a wrap-up, sort of a blog-lite, if you will. That way, should you be pressed for time, or should you just want the abbreviated version of the blog, you can enjoy it. I promise, though, there will never be a pop quiz... Or, will there?

In review:
--Healing is going well. I can do crazy stuff like walk and move and climb stairs.
--Special guests will be blogging later in the month. Woo, guest blogging!
--I sometimes cheat and put silly things in the review, like statements about rubber ducks, that don't show up in the actual blog.
--For instance, Jim has flatly refused to get me a pair of angora bunnies for Christmas

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Things That Make Me Happy

Because hey, it worked for Momolla, right? There are a lot of things that make me happy, and I'm sure I don't mention them as much as I should.

The way the house smells when I cook a real, balanced dinner makes me happy. I can't help but smile when I look at my handspun. The merino I'm working on now might just be too beautiful to part with, though I'm pretty sure it's going to be knitted into a gift.

The ridiculous height of the bed now that we have a good mattress makes me happy. Sure, I could break a rib if I fall off. But I have a real mattress. Mmmm, sleeping well. The way Jim tucks me in when he wakes up and gets out of bed before me makes me feel all warm and smooshy inside, especially when he thinks I'm still sleeping and does it, anyway. And the way he always kisses me goodbye before one of us goes somewhere is pretty neat, too.

Spending an hour on the phone with one of my Jersey Girls is a sure-fire way to lighten my mood. Calling Momolla to catch up is another way to make me grin. Talking to Dadumms is an extra bonus.

The stacks of books all over the house make me happy. Sure, they're clutter and they're in my way most of the time. But, well, they're books, and they are my true addiction. Likewise, the tote and basket full of yarn and fiber are pretty cool. Hand-knit socks make me happy like no other knitted good can, though the satisfaction of finishing a project with my own two little hands is a pretty great feeling.

Blogging, and all the friends I have made through the wonders of the internet, are also pretty damn cool. I get to see and share slices of all your lives, and without this awesome system of tubes and gnomes and magic, I'd never have met any of you.

And also, chocolate makes me happy. So does jogging up the stairs when I forget something, and only being a little winded (well, okay, kinda winded). Not waking up and feeling sore and tender is also pretty awesome. Being able to move and breathe and feel like me, well, that probably makes me happiest of all.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Social Butterfly

I wonder if there were always this many opportunities for me to go out or spend time with people, or if they've only started now that I have weekends off. Today's blog comes to you after a day trip to the PA Renaissance Faire and before going to a friend's house for a moon gazing party. Thankfully, there's nothing planned tomorrow, so I'll have time to relax and spin and read and clean and just be. As I keep telling Jim, having plans is a symptom of having friends, and that's a good thing. It's just been overwhelming this past month, and I am declaring the second weekend of October to be a free weekend. I will not go anywhere, I will not fulfill any obligations, social or otherwise. I will simply stay home and goof off. Everybody needs the occasional day to putz around the house, and I haven't had one of those in ages. Not that I at all mind spending time with my friends and loved ones. It just gets to be draining, especially after a full week of working. I still don't have a lot of stamina, and I get tuckered out pretty quickly.

So, the Renaissance Faire. If you've never been to one, the easiest way to describe it is to have someone imagine the nerdy kids in high school and their friends, parents, and grandparents all role-playing together. There's a huge estate that hosts this every year, and people come from, well, all over, to wander the faire and look at jugglers and jousts and fairies and pirates and, of course, the Queen. All the Faire employees are dressed in costume and speak in Olde English. It's a lot of fun, especially if you don't take yourself too seriously. There are activities for children and adults alike, and plenty of shows to see and places to shop and eat. You can get a whole turkey leg (tasty, but messy), some of the wine made at the estate (it happens to be a reputable winery, they have the best sangria wine i've ever had), a corset, trinkets and baubles of every type, armor, battle-ready weaponry (which has to be 'peace tied', or basically disabled while you're on the grounds), and all manner of period-appropriate costumes. It really is quite an experience, and the drive out to the estate is lovely, lots of trees and rolling fields.

I've been trying to be as frugal as possible, and not buy things that don't qualify as a need (thus, there was no wine purchased today, i was the model of restraint), but I did pick a Tree of Life neclace up for myself. It's just the right size and design, and it's lightweight. Hopefully, it's sterling silver. I'll find out the hard way if it isn't within the next day or so (the one time i had a belly ring that wasn't surgical steel or pure silver, i had a horrible reaction within twenty-four hours, it was not good times). I hope it is, because I'm lazy and I like to wear jewelry that's special to me every day, rather than changing out lots of different pieces.

And now, my dears, it is time for me to grab a bite and then head out to gaze at the moon. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend, and have some of the perfect weather we're finally getting to see around here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Eating Habits...

...it occurred to me tonight that if I lived alone, I would likely die of scurvy or malnutrition. While I love food in many ways for many reasons, I never really feel the need to cook just for myself. So instead, I end up grazing from whatever is available. For instance, I had crackers with some sort-of-bruschetta tonight, along with olives (green, straight from the jar), and frozen meatballs I defrosted in the microwave. I washed it all down with orange juice. Sitting here recounting it, I feel vaguely ashamed. And yet, I could have had all manner of things, or I could have gone to the store to get supplies, or something that qualifies as an actual meal. But somehow, I don't think I can be alone. How do you eat when nobody's around? Do you make a whole, balanced meal, working away in the kitchen to spoil yourself with tasty treats? Or do you graze from whatever catches your fancy, standing shamelessly in front of the fridge?

By the way, my interview for the forums liaison position went well. I'm getting ready to prepare some writing samples in response to actual forum postings involving my company. I realized today again how proud I am to work for American Muscle. Like any company, we make our share of gaffes, and people will mention that online. It's human nature on both ends. But our customer service is amazing, to the point where customers with nothing at stake will spring to our defense, always willing to tell a fellow Mustang lover that they should give us another chance. And, we work hard as a company to deserve that. I have never worked for a place, or even hear of one, that is so dedicated to doing the right thing and taking care of customers. It's a great feeling, to know I work for a good place that cares. Confusing to me, after all these years at huge corporations, but very good.

That's all for tonight, and I'm barely squeaking in under the wire. But tomorrow, the Ren Faire!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Laura...

...someone made the mistake of telling me she likes my profiles of my loved ones, and this has been rolling around in my head for a while now. Laura is one of my Jersey Girls, and might just be the only person on Earth I love more than Jim.

Laura is beautiful, and she's always put together. That's what strikes you first about her, and she plays right into that. She is crazy smart, but she won't let you in on that little secret until she determines if you deserve to know. Her intelligence is one of her best defenses, and her best weapons. She's had the hardest, most heartbreaking childhood of anybody I know, real or fictional. Her birth mother is one of the most horrible human beings I claim acquaintance with.

Laura's funny and sweet and one of the most compassionate people ever. She's silly and loves children and tanning and hides cookies where her health-nut (and short!) boyfriend won't find them. She's the kind of friend you can call at two am when you've just had a fight with your boyfriend and need someone to vent to who understands. And she's not afraid to return the favor and call you, she shares her vulnerabilities like she shares her strengths. Whether she'll tell you so or not, Laura wants to be loved. And she's willing to fight for love, and to take chances for it. Her bravery is astonishing, especially since she has some pretty tough anxiety issues that she's working through. I've said before that really old friends are like your favorite old sneakers, they just fit comfortably, no matter how long you go between wearing them. Well, Laura's like your favorite high heels; she's classy, comfortable to spend time with, makes you feel your best.

I do speak often of the strong women I'm surrounded by, Laura is one of the strongest I know. She's amazing, and closer to me than anyone else. She holds all the secrets of my little soul, and she's trusted me with many of hers. She's really more than a friend, she's a sister of the heart and I, like so many, would be lost without her.