Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Go nuts!

Christmas was excellent.  I mean, I'm exhausted - I may be coming down with something, but... it was a great time with the various and sundry family.

We had Matt's family party the weekend of the 18th, and while we were there, we found out that the Alaska cousins were coming down for a bit and were encouraged to come back.

So, we went up to Cleveland to spend Christmas with my sister, her husband and son, and Mom and Jorg.

It was great.  Henry got some excellent toys, Matt and I got plenty of stuff for the house and for fun.

And we took this picture:

If that doesn't warm the cockles of your heart, what will?

We flew home late on the 26th and on the 27th, we drove to Dalton to see the family and visiting cousins.  We found out on the way down that Matt's aunt's sister died on the 26th.  So, it was a short and hectic visit, but I'm glad we went.

And I'm glad we're home because now, it's time to hang out with Piper, Matt and a few gallons of paint in our kitchen.

Merry, merry!


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Where Have You Been?

It's time to put out my annual list of where I've traveled. 

The highlight this year was adding Iowa to my list of states visited.  That said, Iowa was roughly what you'd expect.  Flat and lovely, pretty quiet.

So, I don't know whether this year was more travel than other, but I do know it was tiring.

Here's the list:
McHenry, IL
Portsmouth, OH
Fort Worth, TX (x2)
Tom's River, NJ
McPherson, KS
Monterrey, CA
Houston, TX
San Antonio, TX
Akron, OH
Davenport, IA
Fresno, CA
Puyallup, WA
Sheboygan, WI
Jump Rock, NC
Tampa, FL
Toledo, OH
Houston, TX
Cleveland, OH
Irvine, CA
Columbus, OH (x2)
Decatur, IL
Anaheim, CA
Greenville, NC

Lots of Ohio.  Lots of Texas.  Some California, North Carolina and Illinois...

Usually, I do some best and worst awards... I don't really have much to say though.

Best State for a Good Meal - Texas!  Tacos, barbeque, Kolaches... you can't lose.

Best Rental Car - the Kia Soul I got in Greenville, NC - it was wasabi green, low mileage.  Comfortable, and XM Radio.

Best Sandwich - The Horseshoe at D'Arcy's Pint in Springfield, IL.

Best Airport - Detroit (but only if you're not flying Southwest)

Most Improved Airport - Houston Hobby - the Chick Fil A makes a difference.

Worst Airport Massage - Miami.  They basically tweaked something in my back bad enough that I ended up hobbling for the rest of the day.

Best Airport for Shopping -  tie:  Miami and Detroit.

Best Chain for Dinner on the Road - Cracker Barrel.  The food is always the same, they never try to seat you at the bar or sigh if you want a table for one.  Plus, the gift shop is interesting.

Best Field Trip - Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.  I got to see where Don Knotts, Truman Capote, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Natalie Wood, Marilyn Monroe, Karl Malden and many, many others were buried.  Like this guy:

 And as much fun as I had with the famous folks, the best epitaph of the trip belongs to an average citizen:

Godspeed, Frances.

Best Hotel:  The Roosevelt Waldorf Astoria - New Orleans, LA.  Ok, this was a pleasure trip, but that hotel is all kinds of gorgeous.

Best Meal:  Wurstkuche - Anaheim, CA.   Sausage.  Belgian-style frites.  Hells to the yeah!

And cheap.  This was $10.  In California.

Worst Meal:  Gondola Spaghetti - Decatur, IL.  Never order from a place that sells pasta by the gallon, to-go.  In theory, it was a great idea.  In practice, it was a mess.  The garlic bread was extremely sweet.  

Worst Airport:  LAX.  This may be the one thing I agree with Donald Trump on.  I'll pick any of the other area options over LAX.  I even go so far as to avoid a layover there.

Best Airport for a Layover: DTW or MSP for Non Southwest flights.  LAS or PHX for Southwest.

Second Best Thing About Travel:  Hotel, Car and Airline Points.

Best Thing:  Coming home.


Monday, December 19, 2016

First Aid Kit

The holidays have, for most of my adult life, come with a fair amount of stress and anxiety.  There's either a scarcity of time, money or, in some cases, both.  This year, time seems to be the missing commodity.

It doesn't help that I am sleep deprived.  I have had exhausting, busy, frantic dreams two nights in a row.  The kind that wake me up gasping for air.

I also need to take a look at some new pillows at lunch - ours are in need of a refresh.

But the other night, I dreamt that someone had let a bunch of dogs into my house where they had all crapped and vomited on everything.  So I was alternately trying to reunite dogs with owners, figure out who had done this to me (and why), and cleaning up huge piles of bodily fluids (and solids). 

I still haven't recovered from that. 

Last night, I was playing a mini-golf course that incorporated a roller coaster made of golf carts.  I was attempting to assist various family members and colleagues on this endeavor.  Sounds fun. It wasn't. For some reason.

I also made the mistake of eating pizza yesterday.  I always think I want it but it gives me horrendous indigestion.  See also Italian, Mexican. So I woke up from the roller golf experience and took some Tums. And went back to sleep on my lumpy pillow.

So, here we are.  Christmas is in a few days.  I have more to do than I can list here, but it's a lot.  And I apparently need new pillows.  Ours are cursed.

While I'm at it, I'll pick up something tasty for dinner.  And bland.  Very, very bland.

That said, ironically, for lunch?  I want Taco Bell.

Just saying.

Merry, merry, y'all.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Seeking Clarity/Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

So, I'm on my last trip of the year, and I'm feeling kind of melancholy.  I miss Dad.  I've been in pretty good shape on that front, but I'm having a day where I feel sort of "less than". Marginalized, if you will.  You get it, Santa.  You're the go-to man for millions - doesn't it bother you sometimes you give out more than you get back?

Dad was always a good barometer for me on those days.  Whether or not he knew it.  Whether or not I ever thanked him.  I hope so. 

Anyway.  I'm sitting in my hotel room miserable from overeating.  Basically, what happened is I overslept (because I had mis-set my alarm).  So I skipped breakfast.  And I had a decent lunch, but by dinner I was extremely dehydrated and overhungry, so I inhaled my food (and a ton of bread) and drank a ton of unsweet tea.  By the time I got to my room, I felt like I was one of those foie gras geese. 

I didn't sleep well last night.  Which contributed to the oversleeping. 

Can I level with you?  I want to go home*.

I'm ready to spend a few weeks in Nashville with my husband, my puppy, my new kitchen.

I keep looking up Monty, the dog I'm convinced it Piper's long lost brother.  I keep hoping you'll bring me a lottery ticket,  one that would let me quit my job, buy a great place with a little land, go pick up Monty (contingent on Piper approval) and write.  Let Matt take pictures.  Become artists, of a sort.  Maybe I'd get a little gig planning parties and events.

I don't know... first, I need to get the lottery ticket, or comparable.

So, Santa - can you bring me some cold, hard jingle?  I promise you I will use my new largesse to make the world a better place.  And make some puppy dogs very, very happy.


PS - I know you're not in the supernatural business, but I would accept, in lieu of cash, a 30 minute phone call with my father.  Just so he could set me right again.  Yeah, yeah... lottery ticket it is.

*And to an extent, Santa, I'd like to go home circa 1990 - but Home v2016 would be dandy.


Sunday, December 11, 2016


Man, what a weekend!

I went to a Christmas concert Friday night.  We have some neighbors who are in a gospel group, and we enjoy their music.  It was a LONG concert with lots of special guests, but I'm glad I had the chance to go, and the proceeds went to three families in our community.  So, win/win.

Saturday, my friend Jim and I went to Porter Flea.  It's a local art market that runs for a weekend shortly before the holidays.  I bought a handful of local things for Christmas gifts.  It's at a different location each year, and it's always mobbed.  But Jim and I have gone for a few years running, and we end up getting a few presents for our families.  Then we get lunch.  Yesterday was Sushi Train - it's a restaurant that serves sushi from a covered, refrigerated conveyor belt that winds its way through the place.  You can do lunch for $9 - all you can eat .  There are a few plates that cost more, base on the color of the rim, but realistically, for $25, the two of us ate more sushi than anyone should.

I got home and needed a nap.  Of course.  But then Matt and I ran some errands to get a few things to organize the kitchen.  So, one trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, one to  The Container Store.  I dropped Matt off to watch hockey and then went out to pick up dinner (and another Christmas present).

This morning, I took an early morning trip to Trader Joe's, picked up eight jars of this antipasto mix that Matt wanted (and it's seasonal, so we're hoarding).  I grabbed a few odds and ends, then went to the Kroger that is one block up from there.  It's not my Kroger.  My Kroger is two miles from my house, and it's kind of poorly stocked, cluttered and understaffed.  I try to give it business because it's still 100% better than it was when I moved here.  But today, I needed some specific things that I knew the fancy store would have.  And they did.  All of it.

So, I came home, unloaded the car and took a nap.

Here's the thing.  Last night, I had a lengthy, exhausting dream that involved elevators that moved up and down and sideways, navigating my college town, trying to find my ride in the carpool pick up, getting caught in a reunion, witnessing a parade, watching several buses flip over, and having to wrap myself up in butcher paper to avoid exposing myself to students going through sorority rush. 

If reading that paragraph wears you out... imagine how I felt this morning. 

So, after the nap, I finally - and I do mean FINALLY made my pepper jelly for the year.

Or at least, batch one.

It was easier than years past, because I have gotten better at it, and we have the new Cuisinart, and we have counterspace, and a hotter cooktop. 

And though I'd been dreading it for MONTHS, it's done.

And it appears to be setting.

Tomorrow, I leave for my final work trip for 2016.  I think it will be a piece of cake.

Mmm.  Cake.

That's that, friends.

I'm about to go to bed, and I'm hoping for something a little easier in Dream Land.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016


My boss' boss and I don't agree on much.  There's one thing we do agree on, and that's that we really like the movie Bull Durham.

For me, it's about young, nearly naked Tim Robbins.

And it's damn funny.  I like it because it's a character study disguised as a baseball movie. 

I suspect my boss' boss likes it because it's a baseball movie. Whether he has an opinion on nearly naked Nuke?  That's none of my business.

Anyway, there's a Kevin Costner monologue in the movie where he tells Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins what he believes:

Kevin Costner has often said he hates his delivery of this speech, but frankly, it's a highlight in a movie full of great stuff.

Anyway, I here are some things I believe:

I believe that kid-sized grocery carts and the ones with giant fake cars attached to them are irritating and should be burned in a large bonfire.

I believe that you should turn your damn headlights on when it's raining, and that you should be smart and considerate enough that I shouldn't have to remind you.

I believe that Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies are the best, and Oatmeal Raisin are evil, and that ones where you can't tell the difference until you've committed are diabolical.

I believe that dogs are typically good judges of character, but even the best dog blows it from time to time.

I believe that the ability to write and mail a handwritten note is a dying art, and it needs to be revived.  But, I also think that if you need to write a long letter, typed and mailed is acceptable.

I believe that pantyhose should only be worn for weddings, funerals, interviews, and possibly Halloween.

I believe that soup is the perfect food for when you are sad, as it helps you replenish tears.

I believe that pedicures are worth the expense.

I believe that you should never pay full retail at a department store, unless what you want is so perfect that you would be destroyed if you missed out on it.  Trust me, I worked at a department store - nothing stays full price for more than 2 weeks.

I believe that Mallomars are worth every penny, and that their generic knock-offs are a complete waste of space in the cookie aisle.

To that end, I believe that Pepperidge Farm Milanos are over rated and they've made way too many flavors.  The superior cookie is the Brussels.

I believe that hockey is the perfect sport because your beer never gets hot.

I believe that men and women can both be funny.  See: John Mulaney and Nastasha Leggero, for example.  Men and women can also be unfunny:  See: Rob Schneider and Paula Poundstone as examples.

I believe that there will come a time that people are so conversation phobic that nearly 99% of all communication will be text based.

I believe that it would be better not to eat meat, but it's just delicious.  And vegan?  F that.   I don't want to live in a world without cheese.

I believe that in a country as fat and wealthy as the US, it is unconscionable that anyone goes to bed hungry (unless they're "doing a cleanse", in which case, fuck them).

I believe it's fine if you want to hawk Advocare or Rodan & Fields or Pampered Chef, but it's also fine if you don't post incessantly about it on Facebook.

I believe that parallel parking is a pain in the ass, but if you need to learn how to do it, you will.

I believe that no woman wants a shirt with pockets over the breasts.

I believe that there is more good in the world than bad.  We just need to be open to it.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Nada, Que Pasa?

Folks, I'm feeling, as we say in this household, a little puny.  Not necessarily sick, just a little run down.

I blame jet lag.  Mostly.  I may have some little bug, and the quick changes in weather may contribute, too.

I am almost done with Christmas shopping - a haphazard affair where I did like Dad used to and just threw some money at it.

Although, I got some pretty neat things, so I'm happy.

It's hard to believe it's December.  Of 2016.  Tempus fugit, y'all.  Fugit!

I have one work trip standing between me and the end of the year.

My trip last week was to California - the LA area.  We were there to see a customer who makes an energy drink - we'll call them Scarlet Bovine - and their office was super cool - open, exposed beams and ducts, nice chairs, free snacks (and energy drinks), and a pinball machine.  I was not cool enough to be there.  Oh well.  At night, we ate well.  We ate sausage from a place called Wurst Kuche.  We also had a hot dog (the Marlon Brando) at Pink's.  And we went to a cemetery where I saw the graves of Billy Wilder, Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemon - among others, but that's the Some Like it Hot trifecta.

I was surprised at how many more celebs I spotted than my colleague. No doubt because I'm super smart.  But really, how can you NOT know who Karl Malden is?  Or Doris Roberts (Flo Flotsky? Marie Barone? No?).

Anyway - there was Red Bull  Scarlet Bovine, Wurst and Dead People - it was a great week.

The final trip will be a lot less star studded - it's in rural North Carolina.  But we do what we do.

That's it from here.  I may go make a sandwich.