Saturday, July 28, 2012


I am home.  Don't tell the Californian parents I sneaked into the bedroom for this blurry shot.  The youngest girl was asleep and I knew I'd be in big trouble if I woke her up by trying to get a clear shot of all of them...

Friday, July 27, 2012


I'm in Omaha.

The Californians are at my house.

This sucks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

So yes, it was 102 degrees outside of the plane when we landed in Omaha tonight.

But, it was a small plane which meant we got on and off quickly and in a stroke of something amazing, I got both seats on my row to myself.  Don't remember the last time that happened, right?

Eileen and I were unsuccessful at convincing the car rental kid to rent us that little new red Fiat.  We would have looked so good in it.  Although it may have been a personal vehicle, not really up for rental.

We did get a nice Impala and followed the directions exactly and arrived at our hotel in plenty of time for the evening reception, during which Eileen won a $20 gift card for Starbucks, and I successfully made the entertaining older male singer at the reception chuckle and smile during his rendition of American Pie by acting out the "I met a girl who sang the blues, I asked her for some happy news but she just smiled and turned away..."

Then we enjoyed a nice dinner--short ribs, grilled veggies, sweet potato puree for me, salad and grilled asparagus for Eileen...and since she's gone all vegan and no dessert on me, I got my dessert to go and ate an amazing piece of dark chocolate mousse-ish something with raspberry sauce in my room in my jammies...

So far, Omaha is ok.  Or perhaps it's Nebraska but still okay.

Monday, July 23, 2012

trip 2

This is a summer of going out of town for me. 

DC was a great start.

Tomorrow = Omaha.

I'll be honest, I'm not really sure what I'll do in Omaha in the after-paralegal-convention hours.  New Orleans a few years ago?  Not a problem finding stuff to do.  San Diego a few years later?  Again, lots of places to go and stuff to do.

The fun part of Omaha is I won't be there alone.  Eileen, my fellow paralegal at work, will be my travel partner.  And we have shown that we know how to entertain ourselves--**see our road trip with Jack to California over Thanksgiving weekend that was most excellent**

So, off to Omaha for us tomorrow afternoon.  Two things we are not excited about:

104, then 102, then high 90's with our favorite--high humidity--all week...
The Californians are coming to town on Thursday and we aren't outta Omaha until Saturday.

These are two boos.  But humidity makes my skin and hair sing out loud.  And while I can't think of a positive for missing two days of the Californians, we do have an outing planned to the Omaha zoo and I'm thinking OMAHA ZOO?  As in, Mutual of Omaha, Marlin Perkins?  It has to be a great zoo, right? 

So off we go.  I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

bffs gone awry

Let's just admit that living with five animals is insane.  Cats, dogs, males, females, it's all crazy times around here.

They are all so aware of each other.  It seems we have five children.  If one jumps on my lap, the others want to be there also.  If one is sleeping on my lap and I reach ever so slightly towards the ears of another to give a bit of a scratching to those ears, the sleeping one awakes and stretches to block my reaching hand.  If one gets a taste of food, the others all want a taste.  If one wakes up and jumps off the desk, another wakes from a deep sleep in another room and runs after the one that has suddenly joined him on the floor.  If I even say, "GusGus" to Weezie, she hisses.  Everybody getting into everything and tussling and chasing and licking and it goes on and on and on.

And there's the shedding.  Let's don't even talk about the shedding.  Or the eating, barfing, peeing, and pooping.  No we won't mention those.

I suddenly realized this post is starting to sound like so many other mommy blogs.  The kids did this, the kids did that, it is simply crazy around here.  And I suppose that like those mommies, I will just keep picking up after these kids of mine, I'll keep feeding them, scratching their ears and their bellies.  And I'll miss them when one day they grow old and leave and there's no one to sit on my lap or lay by my feet or lazily nap by my side.

Before then, it might be entertaining to try to get a group shot of all of them together.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

fast food opera

Did you know you can go to the theater--the movie theater--order a burger and fries, and enjoy your fast food while watching an opera?

Well, yes you can and Jr and I did just that tonight.  With one of his friends.

It felt kind of trashy and high brow all at the same time.

The food we had?  Cheeseburger, grilled cheese sandwich, and chicken tenders.  All with fries.  And fry sauce.  And an Otis Spelunker cookie for me for dessert.

The opera we watched?  A recording of Lucia di Lammermoor performed as part of The Met Summer Encore.  It's a tale of a woman who falls in love with a man but is forced by her brother to marry another man. 

There was lots of singing in Italian with subtitles.  Of course.  And lots of tragedy.  And blood.

And a really great mental breakdown.  I mean, it was incredible, she was incredible and so believable.

You know how it sometimes takes a couple of minutes to get into a movie?  This was no different.  It took a couple of minutes to settle in with our food, start watching the opera, start reading the subtitles.  (Not that we disturbed the other patrons.  There were only five of us in the theater, which is four more than the first time Jr went to the movie opera, and one more than last week when he and Jack went together.) 

The lovers in the movie were forced to part for a time (of course) and they sang the same words to each other perhaps three times or more (which was the moment when Jr leaned over and said, "this is like that thing that happens on the phone--no you hang up first, no you go first, no you...")

That boy cracks me up. 

The opera was quite enjoyable.  The food was pretty good for fast food, although you couldn't see what you were eating because the theater was dark.  The company was funny and fun.  I give it a thumbs up.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

a couple of things

Tonight I got this great idea.  I bought strawberries for little girls to eat with their dinner tonight, but then found out that sadly, they wouldn't be over for dinner.  So what to do with strawberries?  Of course, strawberry shortcake.  Around here, we eat our strawberry shortcake with white cake made from a Betty Crocker mix.  Gourmet?  No.  Satisfying?  Absolutely.

You'd think making a cake from a mix would be simple enough, right?  Only four ingredients:  cake mix, eggs, oil, water.  Uh, I forgot the oil.  The cake looks okay.  I figure that without oil it might be a bit dry, but since we'll be covering it with whipped cream and strawberries that have sopped up water and sugar, it should all be tasty enough, right?

The other thing?  I know I tend to boast a bit about how great my kids are.  But just think about this one:  Raise your hand if your 23-year-old son bought and lets you use his Conair Full-size Professional Steamer.  Yes, we will be doing no more ironing around here, we have a full-size professional steamer.  A Conair.  It is awesome.  As is that kid of mine, right?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

i'm back

Home.  That was a swell outing.  A week of learning and adventure and even resting.

I returned to a warm welcome, a clean house, a happy family.

During my absence, my gardens increased.  I left with only simple white daisies, purple coneflower, and blue sage in bloom but returned to find them joined by massive clumps of black-eyed susan, fully loaded rose of sharon, and brilliant bunches of flox.

I forgot to ask Jack and Jr to water my pots of petunias during my absence.  But those little annuals valiantly did their best to stay alive.  The lack of water gave me the opportunity today to justify cutting off the leggy blossoms in hopes that they'll recover soon.  They look perfect in the new squatty vase I found today while sailing with Sugar. 

Also, I expect Audrey will be delighted tomorrow when she comes to visit and discovers the unicorn costume I scored today for 50 cents, right?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

a couple of things

I'm still in DC but miracle! of technology! I got skyped by my favorite Californians.

Yep, I know, pretty adorable.

The other thing?  I have this friend who in addition to being kind and giving and brilliant in many ways, is also amazingly creative.  She has music in her and art of all sorts, and she is a writer.  Not just a writer, but a poet.  And she writes amazing things.  Things doesn't adequately describe what she puts down in words.  Her creations come in all forms--poems, essays, letters, and still more. 

Lucky for me, she made a resolution this year to blog everyday.  And she has kept that resolution.  If you think of the biggest thing you can imagine and then think of hundreds of that thing all together--hmmm, well that doesn't help...apparently I cannot express how much I look forward to clicking on her link each day.  But I know there will be something there that will amuse, touch, entertain, enlighten, teach me.  

A lovely blessing in my life is what she is.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

this capital of ours

This has been quite the work trip.  The class is interesting and entertaining, which says quite a bit considering it's a government contracts pricing class.

Yeh, I know.  I'm a dork.

The better part of the trip has been the emergence of my inner explorer. 

Whenever I travel alone, I make all of these plans in my head about the places I'll go and the things I'll see.

But I never go anyplace except to my classes and back to my hotel.  I usually eat in my room. 

Not this trip. 

Before I left home on Sunday, I was unable to locate one more two ounce empty bottle, so rather than try to sneak my big bottle of lotion onto the plane, I figured I'd just pick up some of my favorite lotion at a store someplace.  As soon as I settled into my hotel room, I headed back downstairs to ask the concierge where I could find a drug or grocery store.  She graciously marked out my path on a map and I set off on my own, in a strange town with a map and my new explorer personality.  And I walked and walked and walked and walked.  And walked.  The drug store was closed.  So I walked to the grocery store.  I had to walk in through the parking ramp to get into the store. 

Did I mention it was hot and humid that day?  102 degrees and at least 237% humidity.  I do not know why it wasn't raining.  It should have been raining big hot raindrops.

The parking garage was hotter still.  Maybe 140 degrees and more humid.  The inside of that Safeway was a cool, blessed relief.  I didn't want to leave.  So I wandered around, gathering up groceries.  Diet coke, lotion, double-stuff oreos, and advil.  Eventually, I forced myself to go through the check out and back outside. 

On the way back to the hotel, explorer me found a restaurant that served Mediterranean grilled delights, so I got mine to go and hauled it backed to the hotel with my groceries.  The inside of that restaurant was hotter than the parking garage.  Before I could eat, I had to drop all of my stuff, including clothes, so I could cool off in the shower.  Cool water never felt so good and grilled chicken in a pita with other stuff never tasted so filling as it did after my walk, shower, and adventure.

I headed out for class the next morning and afterwards, decided I was obviously capable of another adventure.  I donned my tevas and picked up another map from the concierge, this time one of the subway, and headed back out.  I got myself onto the subway and got myself off at the Smithsonian stop.  I then walked and walked and walked and walked and walked again.  I saw the Washington monument, then wandered around until I stumbled upon the Martin Luther King monument.  Next I found the Roosevelt monument, followed by the Jefferson monument.  Before too long, I was back at the Washington monument, but somewhere along the way, I came upon some puddles on the sidewalk, which seemed to call out for my overheated feet to splash in.  So splash I did.  My feet were happy.  I was happy. 

After the Washington, I moved along toward the WWII memorial.  At some point along through there, I realized that splashing in puddles is not a good idea when one is walking and walking and walking.  Blisters began to form on my feet.  My feet started to hurt all over, I couldn't even tell where the blisters were, but suspected I might be walking on two massive foot-sized blisters.  I gave up and took off my tevas and walked barefoot on the grass alongside the pathway until I got to the Lincoln memorial.  I thought for a bit that I might be able to calm down my feet if I could just get into that reflecting pool?  Not this trip.  There is a big fence around the pool while it undergoes renovation--which I think means there were so many people there over the 4th last week that they had to drain it to get rid of the e-coli.  So a part of me is grateful that the fence prevented me from soaking my blistered feet in that murky water.

In what I consider to be one of the most miraculous moments of this trip, a taxi appeared directly in front of me as I passed the Lincoln and headed to the roadway.  By this time, I had no idea where I needed to walk to find a subway entrance.  I only knew I wasn't going to be able to walk much further, and I looked up and to my relief, there was a cabbie who recognized my faint hand gesture as a call to him to take me home. 

Which he did.  And I gladly paid him $15 for the $8 fare.

I managed to find my way into the little store in the lobby of my hotel where as I hoped, I found packages of over-priced bandaids for sale.  Well, some may say overpriced.  I say not.  They are amazingly sticky luxuriously fluffy blessings on a toe on one foot and on the ball of the other foot.   Totally worth every penny and definitely the best bandaids I've ever purchased, thank you Mr. Marriott for only stocking the best.

As soon as I got back into the air conditioning of the hotel and purchased my bandaids, I decided to eat dinner in one of the restaurants in the hotel.  So I did.  I went in to the no-reservations required restaurant, sat down near another woman who was alone, struck up a conversation with her, enjoyed a fine meal, and then gingerly made my way to the elevator and back to my room, where a nice bath and soft bed comforted me and my bandaged feet to sleep.

I have to admit that yesterday I allowed my explorer to rest her tender feet while spending the evening in my room. 

Room service tip:  hotel meatloaf is nowhere near as good as my own home-cooked meatloaf nor is the apple tart as good as homemade.  Which was enough to encourage the explorer to head back out tonight.

After class, I took the subway to the federal triangle stop.  Did I mention that my new classmate friend and I went shopping today at the mall at lunch?  Bought me some new shoes.  Sandally, flipfloppity--two pairs, one pair metallic with an awesome blossom on top and the other pair in a nice mustardy shade with a wee bit of a flower on top.  Both perfect for walking. 

Which I did today.  Took the subway to visit the folks at the White House.  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that after exiting the subway, at every turn I walked the wrong direction.  I fell back into that thought process that says I can find stuff in unfamiliar towns without using a map.  That isn't a big deal if you're in a car (although you can go a lot further a lot faster in a car).  Walking the wrong way over and over and over (as in one block down, two blocks back over and over) can make one cranky, unless you happen to be an explorer who is wearing new sandals. 

So eventually I found the White House.  It looks a lot bigger on TV.  And there's a nice black wrought iron fence all the way around with locks on all of the gates.  Or at least on three sides.  I got tired of trying to find a way in, and it was getting close to dinner time and I didn't want to interrupt the family time inside. 

Me and my metallics were feeling pretty good still so we walked on over to the Washington monument again.  And on to the WWII.  Those sentences would imply that those places are all just a hop, skip, and jump apart, and that would be wrong and not true.  The metallics and I did a lot of walking and they started to get tired so we all sat down on a bench in the shade and changed into the mustards. 

That was inspiration, that's what that was.  The mustards had just enough oomph to get me to the Vietnam memorial.  Just before we turned on the path to it though, I noticed a large bronze statue of a woman holding a wounded soldier.  It was the women's vietnam memorial.  Did you know several hundred thousand women served in Vietnam?  Mostly nurses.  That statue was so completely overwhelmingly moving.

My shoes and I moved silently down the path to the Vietnam memorial wall.  Everytime I see that memorial, I am overcome by the hundreds and thousands of soldiers who died in that war.  Today, I also found myself wondering what we will do to honor the lives lost in the past ten years.

As I walked slowly back towards the road beyond Lincoln, once again, the miracle of the taxi occurred.  My slightly uplifted hand was enough to stop that sweet cabbie who delivered me safely back to my hotel.

Dinner tonight was a big fat bacon cheeseburger in the hotel restaurant, followed by a soothing bath and into jammies and bed for me.

This week so far has been incredible.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

stuff i do

It took three tries but I finally got a pedicure two days ago.  Something about scheduling ahead takes a little bit of the joy out of that for me so I don't schedule.  Sometimes that means I have to wait a little or go back another time.  But it is always worth it. 

Just wish I hadn't stubbed my toe and chipped my newly polished nail against the leg on one of the chairs on the deck today.  Poor little sore, chippy painted toe nail.

Last night Oscar was perched in his favorite looking outside place--the window of the office--while I sat surfing/wasting time in my rocker.  Out of nowhere, I heard something *doink* into the window.  I can see a blob of something there still.  Not sure if it was a bug hitting the window or some magical bird poop that dropped horizontally onto the glass.  It's still there and I should probably go out with the hose and wash it off, right?  Yes, well, maybe later.

Yard sailing this morning was a total score on the clothing and puppet fronts.  Clothing:  three excellent skirts, two awesome jackets for work, two sweaters and one top.  Puppet:  one skunk hand puppet.  Certainly cannot beat that.

I talked Sugar into going to the mall so I could pick up a couple of skirts from Banana Republic after we sailed.  I'd only picked up one of the skirts while sailing, having decided that the other two couldn't possibly fit, what with them being at least one size smaller than I thought I could squeeze into.  Even though they looked perfect, I left them for someone smaller than me to take home.  We went to the mall where I found two skirts in the style I like at a reasonable price.  That's when I realized that I'd made a huge mistake by not picking up those two smaller sized skirts while sailing.  So we got back in my car and headed off to try to find the house of the skirts, and amazingly, not only did I remember where the house was located, THE SKIRTS WERE STILL THERE!!  JUST WAITING FOR ME TO COME TAKE THEM HOME!!!  Suweet.  We are so happy about that whole thing.  I think I spent a total of $103 for the two new skirts, three gently used skirts, two jackets, two sweaters, and one top.  And that adorable stuffed animalish skunk puppet, which I think will be a total hit with the girls.

Next, I'll be doing some laundry and packing my bag for my adventure in DC.  Yep, headed to the nation's capital for a class all week.  Which means that after attending government contract pricing class each day, I'll be eating where I want, wandering around in the evenings checking out stuff, controlling the remote, and sleeping in my own king-size bed with the amazing Marriott sheets.  Sure, it's 100 degrees with 100% humidity outside.  But I'll be inside during the days.  And it's Washington with all of the monuments and free stuff to do DC.  And I'll be wearing my new skirts.  It'll be quite simply great.

Friday, July 6, 2012

now that i'm done with school


Yes, I know, not another one of those posts...

Wait.  Stay with me for a minute, unless this drags on and on and you can take no more...I'll include pictures...

Since I finished school, I have all of this extra time.  While there have been lots of adventures around here--for example, the freeing of 4,000 ladybugs into the gardens early last week and a big ole 4th of July celebration that stretched over two days and included lots of traditional stuff like following the drummer in a parade and a huge family get together that featured my latest favorite dinner of ribs, corn on the cob, and potato salad,

and then swimming in the pool

and splashing in the hot tub

and then a baseball game--see, lots of stuff going on--still, I find myself with so much extra time.

I've been out reading blogs on the internet.

Waste of time?  Perhaps.  But a learning experience just the same.

I think I can categorize the blogs I've been reading into these categories:

1. Too much information.
2. Boring.
3. Infrequently updated.

I've thought of my blog as a journal, a way to record my thoughts and the events in my life that I want to remember.  But then there's the part about how it's on the internet.  So there's a certain amount of censorship that goes on, and a certain amount of effort to make it, if not entertaining, then at least readable.  But there are problems with that. 

1. There are so many moments that are not recorded. 
2. So much of daily life might matter to me but be totally uninteresting to readers.
3. Numbers 1 and 2 above make me want to not update.

I'm throwing in this shot for Jessie who requested a picture of her cousin whose first baby is due in ten weeks.

Gah.  When did I become a typical blogger?