Sunday, December 31, 2006

We're Baaack!

Yes, we are home- pulled in about 7:00 pm tonight, after 26 hours traveling & only an hour later then scheduled. Because the weather threw a wrench in the travel plans of many people, there were several delays & a rather packed train coming back.
Sorry I wasn't able to check in the past few days. The "Storm of the Decade" hit Albuquerque Thursday evening; in 48 hours, more than 2 feet of snow fell, pretty much shutting down the city. While we had power, the cable went out (therefore, no internet) & the roads were pretty messy. I actually didn't think it was too bad- we were able to get around town without any problems- but I'm a veteran of 10 Kansas winters.
Anyway, the rest of our visit went really well. Wednesday, after Dad headed south to scout out some property (he is considering moving back to NM), Chris, Sam & I drove up to Bandelier National Monument. It is about 2 hours northwest of Albuquerque & is the site of extensive cliff dwellings & remnants of an ancient pueblo. We spent about 4 hours exploring Frijoles Canyon, hiking the trail & climbing up in some of the caves- the guys climbed up a set of ladders that went up more than 140 feet to the Ceremonial Cave, while I stayed at the bottom, taking pictures. We stopped off at Mimi’s Café for soup, salad, & bread to warm up after our long walk & made it an early night.
The rest of the week was spent in Albuquerque, since the weather turned on us. Thursday, we went to the Museum of Natural History, probably the best museum I’ve ever been; it was very well designed, with a great natural flow, & the exhibits are very engaging for all ages. Later, we met up with Dad for a pizza lunch, before he started back to Kansas to try to beat the storm, & then went to the movies. Appropriately, we chose Night at the Museum - very cute- & had the theater to ourselves.
Friday, we went to do some shopping. First we hit the local yarn store, Village Wools, where I spent only 1 1/2 hours & $28.00, & received a very nice compliment on how “my men were so well behaved”! We went to one of the malls to walk around & have lunch at Fuddruckers, then drove over to the University campus to walk around in the snow & take some pictures. The evening was spent at Crystal & Dustin’s home- we made lasagna, drank some wine, shared pictures, & talked until nearly 11:00 pm. We finally got to meet Dustin’s daughter, Marissa, & extracted a promise to come visit us in 2007.
Saturday morning, we checked out of the hotel & went back to Old Town to pick up some souvenirs & a felt hat that Chris had been coveting (I must say, it does look good on him). Crystal & Dustin met us at the car rental place after we returned it, then we all went for lunch before heading to the train station. They waited with us for a while, and then headed on home as the storm finally petered out. Our departure was delayed nearly 2 hours, so I had a last opportunity to get some pictures of the sunset.
It is so nice to be home; the girls are being very clingy, following on my heels, making sure I’m not leaving without them again. Sam went to a friend’s house for an impromptu Welcome Home/New Year’s Eve party & Chris has crawled into bed, since he didn’t sleep very well on the train. I’ve taken a long, hot shower, started doing the laundry, sorted the mail, & cooked myself something to eat- I’m truly tired of restaurant food. Once I finish my half-glass of wine & post the pictures, I will toddle off to bed as well- and wake to a brand new year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Just checking in... let you know what we're up to; I didn't realize how much I missed going by to visit everyone, but there just isn't the time to blog walk, since this a computer in the lobby of the hotel.
We spent Christmas day with my Dad, driving out to the Petroglyph Monuments. The visitor center was closed, of course, but we were able to go hiking around the rocks & caves a bit- which is Sam favorite thing to do. We also went out to the Volcano site & even hiked up to the top! I was rather proud of myself- I made it up to the top just slightly behind the others (you have to factor in the change in altitude- we live at 75 ft above sea level, & we are staying at 5000 ft).
Christmas evening, we had dinner with Bil, Evan, Crystal & Dustin at Sandia Casino & Resort, one of the few places open. We had a lovely meal at the Counselman Steak House, & gave everyone their brooms, which were a big hit.
Yesterday, we drove up to Santa Fe & spent the day exploring the Old Town Plaza- we had the best fajitas at a little corner stand on the square. We spent hours poking around the shops, went to see the Loretto Chapel, & had ice cream at Cold Stone. Dad took us up to Museum Hill & we went thru 3 of the museums, while Sam crashed for a needed nap.
We spent the evening at the home of my nephew Evan & his mom Rae, where we observed the first night of Kwanzaa. Bil gave a brief outline of the celebration, which is very individualized to each family & community. The theme for the day was Unity, which Rae pointed out was quite appropriate for our family. They lit the black candle for unity, we each had a drink from the communal cup, & gave honor to our ancestors, then we had dinner & watch a movie, "Meteor Man".

Dad has headed off to Las Cruces & will be heading back to Kansas tomorrow, so we're off to do some exploring while the weather holds. It has been beautiful & clear until today, & is supposed to start snowing tonight. You all have a great day, & I'll check in later!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Christmas

Greetings, dearest friends & guests! Hope this finds you among family & friends, enjoying the glow of love, and celebrating the birth of the Savior.
We arrived safely Saturday at noon & were met by my Dad, brother Bil, his son Evan, & my sister Crystal. After picking up our car & checking into the hotel, we spent the evening in Old Town Albuquerque, wandering the shops & having dinner at La Placita, the oldest building in old town. After dark, the luminarias that line every street, roof & path were lit, & carols were sung in the square. It was a lovely, albeit cold, evening, so we drove around a bit to see the different neighborhood lights, then turned in early.
Since there is a connection here at the hotel, I drop an update every so often. Hope you all had a Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lighten up!

Hi, kids! Thank you for all the kind wishes & supportive comments on my previous, emotional semi-meltdown. It is often hard for me to admit that I don't have everything under control (can we all say "latent perfectionist"?), but as I said, I want to be honest & up front about my life. Too many of us spend too much time hiding behind our masks, presenting a life devoid of trial & struggle, which I think is a disservice to people we encounter. How often have you met someone who seems to have everything together, & walked away feeling diminished & inadequate about your own life? Yes, I thought so- I know it happens to me all the time & I don't want to cause that kind of unhappiness to the people who are kind enough to frequent my world & consider me a friend.

All that being said, it's time to lighten the mood. We had our Secret Santa gift exchange Wednesday morning after our staff meeting, so my desk is loaded with treats & goodies from my co-workers. I finished my shopping this weekend, mailed off the last of the gifts on Monday, & have packed up for our trip. I even bought some new luggage to replace our rather dated, tired suitcases that were a wedding gift. The brooms are securely packed up to take with us- here is the picture I promised. We head off on the train Saturday morning, & Chris' best friend is going to drop us off & will keep our cars at his house while we're gone. It has taken some time, but the holiday spirit has finally creeped up on me, so I would like to share these fun & cheesy blog quizzes, which I blatantly stole from VENTL8R's space.

You Are a Bow

You don't think of it as the holiday season - you think of it as the present season!

What Christmas Ornament Are You?

Too true!

You Are a Minimal Christmas Tree

You're not a total Scrooge, but you feel no need to go overboard at Christmas.
Less is more, and your Christmas reflects refined quality.

What Christmas Tree Are You?

If it weren't for Chris, we would have no decorations at all!
Your Christmas is Most Like: The Muppet Christmas Carol

You tend to reflect on Christmas past, present, and future...
And you also do a little singing.

What Movie Is Your Christmas Most Like?

Again, too true- for me, it's all about the music & I love to sing
Your Holiday Personality is Caring

You like to reach out to people all year long, but you're especially giving during the holidays.
Make those you love homemade presents (like cookies or scarves). Call someone who might be feeling a little down. Give to your favorite charity.

How Should You Spend the Holidays?

Giving, yes- but I'm also pretty stingy
For the twelve days of Christmas, your true love will send you:

Twelve punk rockers drumming
Eleven snowmen a-melting
Ten gymnasts a-leaping
Nine ladies yodeling
Eight alpacas a-milking
Seven gingerbread men a-crumbling
Six iPods a-playing
Five golden toe rings
Four calling bill collectors
Three French berets
Two bottles of whiskey
And a fairy in a olive tree

What Will You Get for the 12 Days of Christmas?

This just plain cracked me up! I have not one, but three garage bands in my neighborhood; I've been obsessed with alpaca yarn; I love gingerbread houses, but can't build one that stands up; Sam has been asking for an iPod; I wear two toe rings; Whiskey is my drink of choice (single malt, good stuff) after wine; & the last one is just hyserical!

You all have a Happy Christmas & a blessed, safe New Year!

Cat Haiku

I want to be close
to you. Can I fit my head
inside your armpit?

Cat 13

Author Unknown

Now, for something completely different...

To my friends & regular visitors, a small warning: This will not be one of my typical posts- chatty & fun, talking about our adventures, or sarcastic & gripey, but essentially good-natured. I decided early on in this blogging adventure that I would be as real & transparent as decency & privacy allowed. This is one of those times.
My brother called me this morning to firm up our schedule & plans for our trip to New Mexico next week. We chatted for about 30 minutes, exchanged cell phone numbers, & agreed to both call our sister to see what she has planned for our visit. I got off the phone feeling excited, nervous, & even a little weepy. Why? It all sounds very normal, but in reality was a major event in my life. You see, this is only the second time I’ve talked directly to Bil in the past six years. I haven’t talked to Crystal in close to 9 years. Generally, news is passed through our Dad, whom each of us usually talks to every 3 or 4 months. No, we don’t have a family feud going on; it’s much sadder than that. We don’t know one another. We are disconnected, polite strangers, who share a parent & a family history, but have little or no relationship with each other. It’s the same with my other siblings- my mother’s children by her second marriage, who I shared a home with until I was 16 years old- we live within sixty miles of each other (except for Holly, who lives in Kauai), but only see each other maybe once a year, & never talk on the phone or write.
How did this happen? If you have read me for any length of time, you know how important family is to me, how much I work at building connection & memories with my children. But, in my first close relationships, I’ve let this gap form & cement itself, until it seems normal. As the “mother” of all the siblings, the link between both families, I feel like it is my responsibility to keep us connected. But since the others never say anything, don’t make any effort to be a part of our lives, maybe they don’t think it’s a problem. Could I have stopped this? Maybe. Is this my fault? Not completely. But that doesn’t keep me from feeling like it is my job to fix it. The main blame- if blame must be assigned- has to be laid on divorce, distance, & disparity in ages.
As I wrote in my “101”, my parents divorced when I was very young- under 2 years old. Mother & I moved to California, while Dad & Bil went to New Mexico. They both remarried & eventually had other children. My parents are decent, well-intentioned people, & did their best to limit the effects of the divorce on us. Never, in the 40+ years they have been apart, have I heard either one say anything negative about the other, never placed blame for the failure of their marriage on anyone but themselves, & arranged for us to spend time with the other parent. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize or understand that the short, casual visits every other summer or so, was not enough for us to develop meaningful relationships with each other. The cost & logistics of shipping children back & forth must have seemed too overwhelming, or maybe they felt that shuffling us around would be disruptive or confusing to us. Whatever the reasons, our relationships with our parents & siblings became surface only.
There was also the factor of age; there is a spread of eighteen years between the oldest, Bil, & the youngest, Ben. I suppose I was more of a parent figure to the younger ones, as I am 5, 8, & 14 years older; I spent a lot of time babysitting them, having to be the one in charge. Then I moved away to live with my Dad, so I became another distant relative. Visits back to California were few & far between; from 1979 to 1988, I only came to visit 4 times. Even after I moved back, I was married with children of my own, & they were teenagers & young adults- we just didn’t relate to one another.
As for my Dad’s other daughter, Crystal, I never was around her- Dad was divorced from her mom & would go down to visit her instead of bringing her to stay with us. I was just a voice on the phone or a face in a photograph. The last time I saw her was at her wedding 10 years ago; I wasn’t really invited, but felt I needed to be there, so I drove to Las Vegas, with my children in tow. Since then, I’ve spoken to her once on the phone & emailed her a couple of times, but she hasn’t ever gotten around to replying. I suppose, like me, she is glad to hear from me, but then gets involved in the minutia of her own life & forgets about contacting me. I understand it, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Despite the fact that I’m a 43-year-old woman, with grown children, a successful marriage, & a full meaningful life, inside I’m still that serious, insecure little girl with the tender heart, who was always trying to belong. Since I couldn’t have that close, loving family I craved as a child, I made my own & have insolated myself in it from being hurt. Why is it I have to be the one to make all the efforts? There is that part of me that says, unconsciously, that if they won’t make the first move, then why should I? (I never said it was the reasonable part of me!) But then I have to face the fact that this is my need, not necessarily the needs of the others; if I want to connect, I have to reach out & accept the possibility of being ignored again. My mind knows that it is not a great risk, but that doesn’t quiet that fearful little voice inside. But I do have the comfort of knowing I have my own family to shelter & love me, where I am important & needed.
So, here I am, ready to venture forth again. That is what this trip is about; I’m feeling like I’m running out of time to heal these breeches, so I’m dragging my husband & son across country, to spend Christmas with virtual strangers. Thank God, they love me & think I know what I’m doing. If nothing else, it will be an adventure in a new part of the country for us. But deep down, I’m praying that it’s not too late to be a real sister to my brother & sister; that they want the same thing as I do- to be a family. My brother’s call today really gave me hope- he sounds so excited about our visit & is planning several things for us to do together. He said they are all planning on meeting us at the train station, even our Dad, who will be arriving the day before we do. I’m getting weepy just thinking about spending Christmas Eve with my family, meeting my nephew for the first time, getting to know my brother-in-law & maybe his daughter as well. Therefore, dear friends, please hold us up in prayer, for traveling mercies, decent weather, calmed fears, & open hearts.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Because I said I would...

Here is the photo I promised- I'm not crazy about it, but it was the best one!

Today's Cat Haiku

Small brave carnivores
Kill pine cones and mosquitoes,
Fear vacuum cleaner

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let them know you care...

While blogwalking today, I found two references to something awesome that Xerox is doing. Go to the site listed below & you can send a e-postcard to someone stationed far from home this holiday season. Remember, because they serve, you are able to celebrate how you choose in freedom.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Victory is sweet

I won, I won- he caved first! Hahahaha!!! Er, um, I mean…Chris finally said something about the bed. He actually told someone else, but in my presence, so he had to ‘fess up that he knew. We were having dinner at my company Holiday party on Saturday night, & the conversation turned inevitably to gift shopping. I had said that I was nearly done, but I hadn’t bought anything for Chris yet; my friend Lorri, who was sitting next to Chris, said to him “She must be saving the best for last, since she has bought your gift yet”, and he replied, “Oh, yes she did- she bought us a new bed & hasn’t told me about it yet!” The entire table busted out laughing & talking, asking how long he had known, saying how strange we are & even a few exchanges of cash- I guess there had been a pool going on. I think he was relieved- now he could play with the settings on the bed, without worrying that I would catch him at it.
The party was quite nice. It was held at Bartoni’s, a small Italian restaurant located in our downtown area. The owner is a member of my church, & he had reserved the whole place for us. Friday, I had celebrated my ninth anniversary with the company, & I was pleased to see that, for the first time in all those years, every employee attended the party. That may have had something to do with the fact that the CEO was handing out bonus checks that evening, & if you weren’t there, you wouldn’t receive yours until next payday. After appetizers & a buffet dinner, the boss called up people, said something about his or her contribution to the organization & handed them their envelope, along with a hug or handshake. The comment he made about me, after congratulating me on my anniversary (I’m the senior non-management employee by at least 5 years), was that I’m the “invisible woman”, that you never know where I will be from one day to the next, & that I was the one most grateful for all the new employees, so I could actually work at my own desk. I understood he was referring to the fact that I will cover anyone, any department, & any branch at short notice, while still completing my workload. But Chris got a little annoyed, because the CEO wasn’t expressing his specific appreciation for all the work I do (particularly since we had spent an hour that morning at the branch, going over it with the police, because the alarm had gone off & I’m the closest employee on the call list.) Chris is my biggest & most enthusiastic cheerleader, as well as my chief sounding board when I’m frustrated about my job, so he expects other people to think I’m as great as he thinks I am. Ah, isn’t love wonderful?
After dinner & dessert (an excellent cheesecake with raspberry sauce), we had dancing until 11:00 pm, with a fairly decent selection of music. I got a lot of compliments on my outfit, which was a last minute purchase; I went over to Dress Barn to look for a scarf or necklace to go with the dress I was planning on wearing, I saw a beautiful Asian style top, dark green with black trim, on the clearance rack. Worn over black slacks, with a pair of green dangly earrings & a couple chunky gold tone bracelets, I must say I looked pretty snazzy. Lots of pictures were taken, so I promise, if there are any decent shots, I will post a photo of Chris & I in our finery. Along with good company, an open bar & a $1000 bonus check, I would have to say it was a successful evening all around.
Sunday was spent at home, doing the housekeeping stuff that got put off all week. Sam spent most of the afternoon writing his last book report & studying for finals that start tomorrow. (BTW, he didn’t pass his belt exam, but will be re-testing in a month- his sensei said he was really ready, but made some errors in the beginning & got flustered. He has committed to working out a lot harder this month- he’ll be teaching at every beginner class, except when we’re on vacation, which will help him review his earlier katas.) Chris spent most of the day working on Jessica’s car; it broke down just outside of town last Saturday, while she was on her way to EMT training in Manteca (a town about 15 miles from here), & she had it towed to our house. We lent her Chris’ old car to use, while he tried to figure out what was wrong with hers. After 8 hours of work & conferences with a couple of mechanic friends & our neighbor who has the same car, the general consensus is the car is toast. I’ll be trying to get a hold of her in the next couple of days to give her the bad news; I’m just glad we decided to hold on to the old car (with the plan of Sam eventually using it) so she’s not having to miss her training sessions or going to work in the rain. I have to convince her the best thing to do is let me take her to one of the local used car dealers, find her an inexpensive but reliable car, & get a loan for it. She’ll holler she can’t afford it, but she really can’t afford not to do it- she has a lot of trainings & exams that need to be done before she can get her EMT certification, & she can’t have our car forever, since there is a slight possibility we would need it.
A former co-worker, who is also a cat lover, sent me a list of “Cat Haiku”, author(s) unknown, which I would like to share over the next few posts.

You must scratch me there!
Yes, above my tail!
Behold, elevator butt.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What's on your stocking?

During the holiday season, nearly every party I attend has a gift exchange- something small, usually with a $10-$20 limit. Now, I don’t know if it is a California trend or actually reflects the larcenous nature of my friends, but we normally play “Steal the Gift” at these parties. If you don’t know this game, here is the premise:
Each person brings a wrapped gift, places it under the tree, & then numbers are drawn for each participant. The first person chooses a gift & opens it; the second person can either choose a gift or take the gift the first person received. If the gift is stolen, the first person may choose another gift. The third person (& so on) can either choose a new gift or take one from the others. The rules are that
1) A single gift can only be stolen 3 times- it is considered locked & can’t be taken again; &
2) If a gift is stolen from you, you can’t steal it right back- you can only chose a new gift or take someone else’s.
After the last person has chosen, you go around the group one more time & each person has the opportunity to steal or exchange for another gift (unless it is locked) or keep what they got; this gives the earlier numbers an opportunity to have a chance at later gifts.
We always have a lot of fun with this game, whether the gifts are “white elephants” or clever & heartfelt. It’s also a great place to see some great idea for stocking stuffers, so here is my list for Thirteen Thursday

Thirteen Gifts to Stuff Stockings
1. Mini Book light- this is not only great for reading, but I keep one in my knitting bag so I can work during evening car rides
2. Disposable camera- never know when you’ll need one
3. Travel sewing kit- thread, needles, safety pins, 5/8” buttons
4. Folding umbrella
5. A Slinky toy- I was given a plastic one & keep it at my desk; everyone picks it up, smiles, & plays with it
6. Lint brush roller with refills- this was the most popular gift at this party
7. Travel-sized games- checkers, Uno, Sorry- there are hundreds of them; great for car trips
8. Funny or Scenic postcards- Kids love to mail them (& receive them)
9. A book of stamps- I’m always running out of these when I most need them
10. Gift cards- I like to give them for coffee, ice cream, a local bookstore or the movies
11. Wild & crazy socks- the girls particularly like these (but so does Chris)
12. Travel mugs- the come in all sizes & designs, just make sure they have sealing lids!
13. Small scrapbook album- can be autograph book & photo album all in one

We are now on night #7 & Chris still has not said anything about the new bed. The gift bag is still on the bedside table unopened- I even turned on his lamp, so the light would shine on the bag- he just reached passed it & turned the light off. I bought a new blanket last night at Costco - micro fiber fleece, light green & very soft; it’s laying on his side of the bed in the package, so hopefully he’ll take the initiative & put it on the bed tonight while I’m at choir. My idea is that he will see & feel how much thicker the mattress is & finally clue in, but who knows?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The game is on...

I know it’s hard to believe, but Chris still has not noticed we have a new bed. You would think that just the height difference would be a give-away- I mean, this bed is a full 2 inches taller, what with the pillow top & the new mattress covers. Well, to be honest, he has detected that something is different, but won’t say anything- he must think I’ll make fun of him (who, me?) or that he’s just losing his mind. I’m not going to say anything, because he’s been known comment on how unobservant I am (it is true, but that’s not the point) & I reply that the pot shouldn’t call the kettle black, which of course he denies…anyway, it’s become a challenge- who will crack first?

Night #1: Chris climbs into bed, stretches down to touch his toes, sighs, groans, & then lays down; he gets real still, says “Hmm”, then turns over on his side & goes to sleep.
Night #2: He pulls back the blankets to get in bed, looks down at the mattress (which has a diamond-quilted pillow top- very different from our old bed) rubs his hand across it, then climbs in & goes to sleep.
Night #3: Tonight, I begin to change the settings. Start at 100- the firmest: no reaction. Gets up at 12:30 am, change setting to 45: no reaction. Gets up at 5:30 am, change setting to 100: grunts, no comment. Gets up at 7:30, change setting to 25: gets in bed, looks at mattress, pushes it twice with hand, goes to sleep.
Night #4: Decide to go a little more obvious- I put the remote in a brightly colored gift bag, approx 6 X 8 inches, place it on his bedside table, next to the lamp, in plain site. Chris gets into bed, sets his alarm clock (also on beside table), & goes to sleep without noticing the bag.

I was lying in bed during each of these events, reading my book & waiting for him to make any sort of comment or question. Nothing. Frankly, I’m beginning to worry about him; I know reaction time slows with age, but really, 5 days? Anyway, I’ll keep you posted.

It was another lovely, but chilly, weekend here in the Valley. Saturday afternoon, Sam had testing for his next Karate belt level (1st class brown) & was facing a rather formidable board of 3 Grand Masters (6th degree Black Belt & above) for judging. It was mutually agreed that I wouldn’t be present for this testing- I get very nervous & that doesn’t bode well for a flow of positive chi, so Chris & I took off for the foothills. We spent the day in Amador City, a “blink & you will miss it” town of 500 that has some great shops featuring unique handcrafted items. One of my favorite places is the “Victorian Closet” which sells vintage clothing & textiles (like house linens, hankies, quilts, lace) & the most wonderful handmade brooms. They are fantastical creations of twisted, polished wood- some with carving, but most just natural- from whiskbroom to full sized, some even with two heads. A man back east produces them (I’m thinking Kentucky or Tennessee), growing the broomcorn on his farm & searching out the handles among groves of trees that have honeysuckle vines twining up them. We own two & bought three more to take as gifts on our trip to New Mexico later this month. We wandered over to Sutter Creek & poked thru the shops, then ate dinner & watched the Posada parade wind down the main street, the children joining in with lighted candles to follow the Christ child to the church. I’m looking forward to seeing this again in Santa Fe, as we will be arriving on Christmas Eve, & my brother plans on taking us to participate.
Sunday afternoon, the Stockton Choral performed Handel’s Messiah at our church. We attended with our home fellowship group, then had a potluck dinner & gift exchange at one of the houses. We had a rather large turn out, including our Pastor & his wife, so there was lots of good food & laughter. We played the “Steal the Gift” game again & we ended up with a book light (mine!) & cute kitchen towel set (Sam’s) We ended the evening singing carols by guitar- half our group is in the choir or band, so we always seem to have music at our gatherings.
We are down to crunch time this week- besides getting ready to leave on vacation in two weeks, we have to close the books by Friday so we can pay out bonus checks at our Christmas party on Saturday, and so I may not be around much this week. I will check in whenever possible & hopefully post a Thirteen Thursday if I get it finished (why is it I always get stuck at #11?)

Friday, December 01, 2006

I got tag-teamed!

Okay- I know I have a few friends out there in Blogland, but this is kind of silly! There are 2 fun tags going on & I got triple tagged for each of them!

The Book Tag
The rules are:
-Grab the book closest to you
-Open to page 123
-Scroll down to the 5th sentence
-Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog
-Name of the book and the author
-Tag 3 people

From A Damsel in Distress by P.G. Wodehouse
Albert was becoming impatient. He was in the position of a great general who thinks out some wonderful piece of stategy and can't get his army to carry it out. Many boys, seeing Plummer enter the room below and listening at the keyhole and realizing the George must have hidden somewhere and deducing that he must be out on the balcony, would have been baffled as to how to proceed.

Six Weird Things About Me
According to the rules...
Each player of this game starts with the
"6 Weird Things about You".
People who get tagged
need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things
as well as state this rule clearly.
In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names.
Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you are tagged" in their
comments and tell them to read your blog!

1. I can sing in public, with a microphone & 100's of people listening, but I can't sing in front of my family- I get embarrassed!
2. I have a lip balm obsession; I have them everywhere- every drawer in the house & office, every coat pocket, knitting bag, purse, backpack, binder, glovebox, even in the shower stall.
3. As a child, I collected rubberbands & paperclips; I even formed a club with my best friend & our "dues" were spent on more supplies (I still love to browse the office supplies aisle)
4. I have a freckle between my toes & a bird-shaped birthmark on my scalp.
5. I pluck the hair that grows on my toes (maybe that is more gross that weird)
6. I like to snack on pickled garlic, cold asparagus dipped in mayo, or 1/2 an apple filled with peanut butter.

I won't tag anyone, since just about everyone on my list has either tagged me or already done these; but please feel free to do them on your own & leave me a comment to look at your list (I'm nosy & want to check out your idiosyncrasies *kiss, kiss*)

BTW: Chris has not noticed we have a new bed yet, even after sleeping on it last night! I think I'll mess with him a bit- drastically change the settings each time he gets up during the night- before I tell him tomorrow night

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It looked so simple on TV!

I have passed on all the congratulations to Sam, & yes, I do know how fortunate I am to have a son like him (even if he does occasionally drive me to drink Glenfiddich straight from the bottle!) Plus, I’ve learned that the proverbial apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: this morning, Chris had to do a road call to Modesto first thing, so he didn’t have to leave as early; while I was in the shower, he made breakfast for all of us- bacon, maple sausage, blueberry muffins, & cranberry compote (the 2nd batch I made- we love the stuff)
We got the headboard finished Monday night & I have to tell you, it turned into a typical family circus event. As I’ve mentioned, there are three hairless felines & three furry people in our house, so anything as important as a change in the main sleeping abode warrants full participation from every member. The board is 6 X 4 foot, with rounded corners on top, which was to be swathed in two layers of batting, topped by a fabric cover with some simple trim. Because the weather has turned cold, instead of working in the garage, we decided to assemble the headboard sandwich on the dining room table.
Once all the supplies were accumulated, the inspection commenced- each cat had to look in each box, crawl into every bag, lounge-test the fabric, sniff the tools, & naturally, drag the trim all over the living room.
After we re-assembled the supplies, the first step was to spray adhesive on the board so the batting would stay in place whilst I stretched & pulled the fabric into place. Have I ever mentioned that the cats have a strong aversion to any kind of spraying devise? I didn’t think it was possible, but 3 animals went in 7 different directions in the matter of seconds. Since this stuff was rather odorous, I opened the doors & windows, so we had to bundle up in coats while we worked; Sam stood with a piece of cardboard against the edges of the board while Chris sprayed the glue- so, of course, every exposed area of skin (ie, hands, face, hair) is being lightly coated with sticky adhesive. Once the spraying stopped, our curious little Dahlia was right back in the middle of everything- literally. Before anyone could grab her, she leaped on to the glue coated board, realized she didn’t like the feel of this stuff, & tried to walk away, but her paws were tacky; she looked like she was walking thru snow or wet grass- step, lift paw, shake- with all fours. As soon as I quit giggling, I took Dahlia into the kitchen to wash off her paws, accompanied by pitiful wailings from her & sympathetic mutterings from Poppy, who hates to see anyone in distress.
So now we are ready to attach the fabric. We measure,
spread again,
then finally begin to staple. Chris lies under the table, on his back, with the staple gun; along side him is Daisy, in her basket. She is an old lady- about 13 years- rather arthritic & weighting in at 16 pounds; she doesn’t move around much & spends most of her days in her basket. It was obvious to her that she wasn’t going to move (though she did flinch every time he shot the staple gun) so Chris just scooted around her; but every time he moved too close to the basket, she would “Mew!” & either pop him on the head or lick his hair. Meanwhile, while I am pulling, folding, & holding the fabric in place for Chris to attach (narrowly missing my fingers) Sam is alternately plucking Poppy off of the headboard, where she is trying to settle in for a nap & nursing session, & moving Dahlia off Chris’ chest, where she is supervising his work, grabbing at stray threads, & tickling his face with her tail.
Amazingly, we manage to finish without any trips to the emergency room or the liquor cabinet. Sam went up stairs to wash off all the spray adhesive, bits of thread, batting, & staples that had attached themselves to his skin. All that is left is to glue on the trim… which I find is a full 36 inches too short. Okay- not a problem- that part of the board will be behind the bed, so no one will ever see the trim anyway. Except, I will know it’s not completed. Have I mentioned I’m an anal accounting geek & seriously don’t like shortcuts? It is 7:45 pm & I’m considering a run to Walmart to see if I can find another trim that would match (since we don’t have a fabric store in town & the Michael’s is closed due to a fire last week). Cooler heads prevailed (Chris said “You are not going anywhere!)- I fought my nature & glued the trim from the top down, securing it with pins to dry. Ten minutes later, as I sat in the living room with a glass of wine & two Oreo Double Stuff cookies to placate me, Dahlia strolled in… with the trim in her mouth & draped across her back. The trim covered with glue. Which is now drying. My first mistake was to yell, “Turbo- you stupid cat!”; the second was to start chasing her. It took all three of us to find her, catch her, & the cut the trim out of her fur.
When all was said & done, we have a passably attractive headboard, & Dahlia is sporting an interesting haircut. The last little bit was taking the headboard upstairs last night. We maneuvered it up the stairs, around 3 sharp corners & into place against the wall, where fastened it with brackets to the foot moldings. It was then I realized that the solid headboard would be blocking the only outlet on that wall (which we never use). The outlet that will be needed for the pump on our new bed. Our new bed that Chris doesn’t know about yet. CRAP! So now I have to convince him that we have to remove the headboard & cut a hole in it to free up the outlet, all with out spilling the beans- it came down to me insisting on doing things correctly. With a great deal of muttering about stubborn women, the boys took the headboard back down to the garage, cut the hole, re-attached the fabric neatly around the opening, haul it back upstairs & screwed it back to the wall.
Ah, the things we do for love!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holiday Musings

Hi, Kids! Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, with lots of food, family & friend. Ours was necessarily low keyed- I’ve been knocked down by a bad cold & have been home, mostly in bed, since Monday night. This is how bad it’s been: I haven’t picked up a book all week!
Now, to the part everyone is itching to hear. As you may know, Sam, my 15 year old son, asked to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the family this year. While he has taken his turn in the kitchen for a couple of years & is taking Home Ec this year, this was his first major culinary undertaking. He made turkey, apple/sage dressing, sweet potato casserole, broccoli with cheese sauce, cheddar biscuits, & pumpkin pie. The verdict……excellent! He spread out the cooking over two days & timed everything just right for dinner at 3:00 pm. Our daughter decided to come over before going to my brother’s house in Oakland, so we had the family together for the first time since May. Oh, and I did get Sam’s hat done by Wednesday night, so he wore it all day.
Friday found us all sleeping in until 9:00- a rare treat! Actually, I woke up at 4:30 with a coughing fit & couldn’t go back to sleep; I sat up watching TV & briefly considered hitting Best Buy for a MP3 player for Sam, but reason prevailed & I headed back to bed for a while. Once we all got moving & fed, Chris & I went over to OSH for some painting supplies & the boys finished painting our bedroom! We had already covered the walls with a pale spring green several months ago; I wanted one wall, behind our bed, a few shades darker, so that is what the boys did. It came out a little darker then I wanted originally, but it turned out nicely- once the headboard goes in & we hang a tapestry on the wall, it will highlight the area well. We looked around for years for a headboard we liked, but could never find one that we agreed on or afford. So, last spring, after 11 years of no headboard, I bought a large sheet of ½ inch plywood, had Chris round off the corners, with the intention of covering it with batting & fabric. While the boys painted, I sewed the fabric cover & glued the batting on the board. Unfortunately, Chris had taken his staple gun to work, so I couldn’t get it finished this weekend, but it will be done by Thursday (when the bed is suppose to arrive)
The weather has been beautiful, clear, & cool, so Chris & I spent Saturday together, driving up to Placerville, in the Sierra foothills. We drove around Apple Hill, stopping at a couple of orchards & tree farms, then went into town to have lunch. We stopped at this little bakery, Sweetie Pie Pantry, where I had quiche & Chris had homemade clam chowder. We strolled around the historic downtown, poking around shops, & watching the stagecoach take kids on rides up & down the street. I found a lined hooded fleece jacket for Sam in the Army surplus store, & a watercolor print for me. We drove home around 5:30, watching the sun set into the clouds to the west & listening to “The Thistle & Shamrock” & “A Prairie Home Companion” on PBS radio- very sweet & relaxing.
Today was my Sunday to lead worship, so I headed out early, sang both services, then went back home to bed- I guess I’m not quite well yet. The boys went off to the mall this afternoon to buy shoes & to go to the new James Bond movie, so I’ve had the house to myself. I think I’ll go fix a turkey & cranberry sandwich, have some Glögg & wine, & do a little knitting- my hands are much better, thank you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What I am Thankful for

Thanksgiving Thirteen Thursday

1. The gift of salvation given freely by my loving, heavenly Father
2. My husband- devoted, patient, hardworking, silly, affectionate, he is the other part of me
3. That my Robb has become such an awesome man
4. That my Jessica is back in school & starting to find her way
5. That my Sam is still willing to kiss me in public
6. For the companionship & unconditional love of our feline children
7. A place to call home- a retreat & shelter from the harshness of the world
8. That both of us are able to work, to provide the needs & a few of the wants
9. Having a job, close to home, where I am needed & valued
10. Having my health restored, after so many months of pain
11. The freedom to express my creativity, in whatever form the Spirit strikes
12. Our church family, who holds us up in every way
13. My new blog friends, who lift me, challenge me, & give me a safe place to be myself, warts & all

Here is my prayer for each of you to have a blessed Thanksgiving, filled with contentment, affection, & gratitude.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Didn't think it would happen

It’s official- I’ve done too much knitting.
I’ve been working on a Santa hat for Sam for the past 2 weeks. He bought one of those $3.00 cheapies at Wal-Mart last year; he wore it constantly from Thanksgiving until Christmas- he even slept with it on. He wore it so much that he had a pink-tinted ring around his blond hair. So, this year, he asked me to make him a nice hat- soft, warm, & preferably color-fast. I found a free pattern, brought some lovely dark red Cotton Chenille & ivory Splash eyelash yarn, & a pair of size 6 circular needles. This is a fairly dense yarn, being worked on smallish needles in the round- it is taking awhile. It’s the only thing I’ve been working on, since I wanted it ready for Thanksgiving, & my hands are tired. Very tired. My thumbs ache & my index fingers are sore from pushing the needle points. I need a break, but the deadline is looming- I’d like him to have it by Thursday, since he is doing all this work for Thanksgiving- so I keep plugging along.
Sam & I had a date night on Friday. We went to the high school football game- West won their league title last week, & were playing the first round of playoffs at home. We had a great time- we dressed in team colors, brought our clappers, had hot dogs & hot chocolate, & sat near the 50 yard line with the Boosters. What a great game! There was a great turn out on both sides & the teams were very well matched- it was a tight, tense game & every point was hard earned, but…We won 28-12! We yelled so much, I had a sore throat all weekend, & I know that’s when my hands started acting up, because when things were close & tense, I was knitting away on the hat.
Chris returns home tomorrow night from Orlando. He never did get together with Robb, since neither of them had off on the same days, & he didn’t do any exploring on his own, the turkey! I suggested (twice) that he should go up to St Augustine- it is such a wonderful town to wander around- but he just stayed at the lot. Oh, well- I guess he got plenty of rest, & we’ll just have to plan a family vacation to see the sites. I decided not to tell him about the new bed yet (since it won’t be here for 10 more days). I’m going to suggest that we finish up some things we wanted to do in the bedroom- paint one of the walls, complete & put in the headboard we started last spring- since we all have a long weekend (actually, Chris & Sam have Wednesday off as well) Then, when the bed is finally delivered, we’ll have a new, fresh room to go with it!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Time for a little clean up

What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are very passionate and quite temperamental. While you can be moody, you always crave comfort.

You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but you're head is in the clouds.

You believe that people see you as a bit small and insignificant. People pay more attention to you than you think.

Your near future is a lot like the present, and as far as you're concerned, that's a very good thing.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

Interesting little quiz- surprisingly accurate, except maybe the small & insignificant part! I found on Kiki’s space- a new friend who is having some real challenges right now- please drop by to encourage her & add her to your prayers.
Speaking of challenges & prayers, thank you all for holding up Leny this past week. She is back to work today, still sore but feeling much better; the pathology report came back on Monday & the lump is benign, Praise God! The lump was discovered during her very first annual mammogram, illustrating the importance of having these tests done, regardless of the discomfort. If you haven’t had your boobies squished this year, go get it done now- I love you all & want you around for a long time!
The rain started in earnest this past weekend, so Sam & I were hard pressed to find something to do. For some reason only known to my brain function a month ago, I had an 8:00 am hair appointment, then stopped by Starbucks for coffee & scones for us both. We ended up going to Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton & wandered around all afternoon, looking at the Christmas decorations (yes, they were up & Santa was in residence, taking pictures with the kiddies) & exploring the shops at leisure. He has let me know what he wants for Christmas & his *sigh* 16th birthday in February (an MP3 player &/or a digital camera), & I dropped a couple of hints myself (DVD version of A&E’s Pride and Prejudice & gift certificate to Bare Escentuals) For a lark, we went into the Select Comfort store to see if they are really comfortable; Chris & I are in desperate need of a new bed, as ours is over 10 years old & he has a bad back, so I’ve been pricing & testing for a couple of months. Well, after 45 minutes & (gulp) $2800, I am the proud owner of a Select Comfort 5000 California King! I was hoping it would be delivered & set up by the time Chris gets home Monday evening, but with the 12 month free financing special they ran this weekend, it doesn’t look like it will be here until after Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, my dear son, Sam, has volunteered (in reality, he begged) to cook dinner this year- the works: turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes & pumpkin pie! He’s taking Home Economics this year, & this quarter’s unit is cooking; last fall, he asked if his high school had Home Ec & when I said “Yes- why?”, he said he wanted to sign up since- and I quote-
“Because every good husband should know how to cook!”
Is he an awesome kid or what? Actually, he had a great example in Chris; I went back to college at 28, when Sam was 6 months old, so for most of the past 15 years, Chris has done the majority of the cooking at night. Anyway, we have our assignments for dinner: I’m to make my Cranberry/Peach conserves & dinner rolls (I have a great bread maker recipe), & Chris will make mulled cider & decorate the table. Before he left for Orlando, Chris got the chairs assembled, stained, & sealed- they look really nice at the table, especially with the red cushions. I’m thinking of putting just some simple greenery & ribbon swags on the back of each chair for the holidays- that is, if I can keep Poppy & Dahlia from destroying them!
~ Poppy says: We do not destroy things, we just taste test them! ~

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cat got your mouse?

Dahlia here; the staff has left this fun, blinking thing on & are occupied cleaning our commodes, so I’ve decided to let the world know what really goes on here in “meg’s garden” You know, life here is pretty good, even though I’m the youngest & have to be submissive to Princess Poppy (butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but I know for a fact she was the one who unwound the entire roll of paper towels last week) & the Queen Mum Daisy (I think she really likes me- she sniffed my butt yesterday & didn’t hit me at all) The staff is accommodating to our needs, besides the teeth brushing & nail clipping part, but the Mom Boss (you know, the short one with dark hair & the high voice) will be insubordinate, removing me from the kitchen counter & not letting me have first lick on the contents of her bowl.. The other two hairless ones are easily trained: I just open my eyes real wide, cock my head to the side, & give them one of my patented pathetic “meeuw?” & they do whatever I want- Boss Mom doesn’t buy it & squirts me with water!
Well, this week was just the limit! The Young One brought out my favorite toy- the box thing with the handle. I played in it happily all day, but when Boss Mom got home, I got the impression she wanted me to go into the box & stay there, so I high-tailed it upstairs to one of my many hiding spots. You should have heard the shocking language she used, while trying to find my current location- she even threatened to tie my tail in a knot if I didn’t show myself immediately! Unfortunately, my pretty little bell gave me away- she found me curled up inside the garment bag, under the skirt of her red ball gown- & I was un-ceremonially dumped into the box & taken out to the car. I hate the car. I let Boss Mom know I was displeased by yowling, but with the way my voice sounds, an indignant “Yowr!” comes out as “Aww?” & she just says “Aww?” back (for all their size, tools, & language, humans are not very bright!) She carried me into this building, which had a bunch of odd smells, loud voices, & strange cats wondering around, then took me into a room, & dumped me out of the box onto a metal table (will you make up your mind, please!) A woman I had never seen starts man-handling me, looking in my ears & mouth, mussing my fur & lifting my tail- & all this time, Boss Mom is just standing there, telling this woman how much I eat, where I sleep, even how much I poop (is nothing private?) Next thing I know, they are holding me down & the strange woman pokes both my hind legs with needles, then uses this air-popping thing on my thigh- scared me half to death- but I didn’t make a sound! She did say how brave & pretty I am, so I didn’t bite or hiss at her, but I was ready to get the heck out of Dodge, so back into the box I went. I was feeling a little woozy, so I didn’t say too much on the ride back to the house- when I climbed out of the box (again!) Poppy was there to give me sympathy & a good bath. You know, what ever that stuff was just put me off my stride for a full day- I didn’t shred any tissue paper, didn’t climb on top of the bird cage, didn’t even go digging into the treat drawer. I just wanted to sleep, but Boss Mom or the Big Man kept picking me up & asking if I was okay- like I said, they are not too bright.

I see Dahlia has been reading too much Rita Mae & Sneaky Pie Brown- thinks she is going to take over my blog! She was really a good girl at the vet, but she was behaving so out of character- quiet & stationary- I was a bit worried & kept waking her up to make sure she wasn’t in a coma. Twenty-four hours & regular doses of kitty treats saw her back to her normal Turbo self.
Wednesday evening was the Garden Club holiday party & I got the tote bag done just in time. Spouses were invited & we took rolls, butter, & chocolate chip cookies for the potluck dinner. After we ate, the ladies did the “Steal the Gift” exchange- my gift was wrapped plainly in a white box, so was almost the last one picked. I do have to say, it was very popular & was “stolen” several times, along with several other cool things. I ended up with a great set of chicken-themed gifts, including a timer that crows! Our hostess was disappointed when I stole it back from her, but the lady who brought it told me she had found it at a gift shop in Sutter Creek, so I’ll have to pick another one up for Jenn when we take our annual day trip up there in December.
Well, I have to go console Dahlia- her favorite person, Chris, left for Orlando for ten days & she is sitting in the front window, staring at his car, waiting for him to come inside. This trip came up suddenly- management asked him on Tuesday evening & he left Friday afternoon- but the overtime will definitely come in handy just before the holidays & our trip to New Mexico. Of course, with Chris gone I can get some serious holiday knitting done, but I need to put another blanket on the bed since he is my human space heater, & the weather has turned rather chilly.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Where are my tunes?

This one-person office I’m holding down today has only a portable AM/FM radio- the kind with rabbit years, no CD or cassette player, & four stations: news-talk, Mexican polka, Bible reading, & dance/rap music. This has become a bit of a difficulty, because I always have music going when I work & I’m finding myself getting sleepy. Since the powers-that-be frown on my napping while we are open, I brought in all the CD’s I have in my car to play on the computer.
If someone were to look at this stack of music, they would think 4 or 5 different old people work here! So, since I didn’t post one last week, here is the current installment of my version of “Thirteen Thursday”

Thirteen Compact Disks on My Desk
1. Handel’s Largos: Various Artists
2. It’s Time: Michael Bublé
3. Nickel Creek: Nickel Creek
4. Ready for the Storm: Browne Sisters & George Cavanaugh
5. David Russell Plays Bach: David Russell
6. Bella Tuscany: Various Artists
7. Nights of Fire: Benise
8. Local Ground: Altan
9. Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Volume Two: Alastair Fraser, Natalie Hass, Muriel Johnstone
10. The Best of Narada: Flamenco Guitar: Various Artists
11. Celtic Woman: Various Artists
12. Tchaikovsky at Tea Time: Various Artists
13. One More Day: Diamond Rio

What are you listening to today?

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Bullet Monday

Odds & ends of the past few days:
Ø I start my “temporary” assignment tomorrow, & I’m frankly a bit torn. I will enjoy being in an office by myself & not having the stream of people coming by my desk, asking questions that I’ve already answered twice or needing this invoice/statement/phone number right away. On the other hand, since I will working in one office M/W, & the other T/TH/F, & will still be responsible for doing my regular job, I will be hauling a butt-load of stuff back & forth everyday. I’m thinking of using one of those foldable shopping carts instead trying to carry all the bags, boxes & trays individually. But the image of myself, in my long skirts, sensible shoes & requisite cardigan (our offices are terminally cold) pulling a loaded cart around town is just too “bag lady” for me to contemplate.
Ø Sam has had a tough week- it seems to be his quarterly “I’ve lost my mind & my mother is really ticked”. In the past seven days, he has:
~Lost his wallet, with school id (can’t be on campus without it), medical card, library card, & a week’s allowance
~Borrowed his Dad’s bike, rode 1 mile with a flat tire so it fell off the rim, & instead of taking it back home (he was in a rush to get to the Homecoming Parade), he stashed it in some bushes by the middle school; of course, when he went back for it- yep- gone
~Left the front door, back door & garage unlocked (same day as bike fiasco)
~Showed up home 1-½ hours late from school, having left a message on my voicemail “Still at school, be home later” & no phone number- his cell phone has to stay home, since they aren’t allowed at school. [One of the few strict rules around our house- you are home from school by 3:20, unless previously approved (like for club meeting or tutoring) & call me; if you want to go somewhere, you have to ask me personally & only if homework is done]
~Returned home with 7 friends (same day as previous) unannounced- when asked what’s going on, said they were all going over to M’s house to hang out & then go trick or treating. 1st problem- you didn’t ask me first & it’s a school night; 2nd problem- you are too old to go trick or treating (they are all sophs & juniors); 3rd problem- when I pointed out #1 & #2, got an argument & attitude from Sam & his buddies. Result: You are not going anywhere tonight.
~I was given a really fancy caramel/candied apple at work; when Sam mentioned he saw it in the fridge, he was told to keep out of it until I got home- I would share it with both him & Dad. When I got home, found only ½ the apple left in the fridge
It was at this last point that I blew my top, ranted about selfishness & lack of self-control, grounded him for 2 weeks, & sent him to his room for the evening. I walked by his room a couple of hours later & heard him on the phone with his best friend- that little turkey told him that I grounded him because… “I ate my Mom’s caramel apple”!
Ø Chris & I went to the football game on Friday night- Sam declined, saying he didn’t feel good (either that, or he was pouting over being grounded)- & had a great time. It was the last home game for the season & the weather, which had been windy & drizzly all day, cleared up around 3:00, so everyone was dry & reasonably warm (around 55-60 degrees) We got to sit in the Boosters’ section at the 50 yard line & had a great view of West’s 34-8 victory over #2 ranked Tokay, clinching a playoff berth! It was actually a better game then the score shows- they are pretty evenly matched & slugged it out in the middle of the field for most of the night- but West got a couple of lucky breaks & made the most of them. I doubt we’ll go to any of the play-off games, unless they play here, but we’ll be able to watch on community access channel & will be cheering them on.
Ø Saturday, we attend the wedding of two friends who met at our church. C grew up in our church & was our assistant choir director after college & very involved in youth ministry. When she decided to go south to graduate school, J started coming to our church. He was a family friend of music director & joined our band, playing bass. When the music director moved a few months later, J took over as choir director, in addition to being in the band & youth ministry. Six months later, C returned to the area, having transferred to be closer to home. Since J had so much on his plate, C was asked to step in again as assistant director. The rest, they say, is history! It was so wonderful to watch God’s plan unfold in the lives of these two young people, & it was an honor to witness their vows, set in the beautiful Morris Chapel at UOP (the pictures don’t do it justice), surrounded by family, friends, & music praising God & their union. The reception was quite nice, held at a private club nearby, & we sat with several of J’s co-workers; they had never been to such a “religious” wedding & had lots of questions. Chris is naturally outgoing & friendly, & had everyone laughing & sharing stories about the couple. We even got to do some dancing, but I have to say- it was funny to watch all these Pentecostal kids try to dance to old school rock & disco; they just don’t know how to “shake their groove thing”, so of course the parent-types had to show them how it’s done!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


The Questionnaire:
What are your favorite colors?
I like all shades of green, dark rose, golden yellow, brick red
Are you a new mitt knitter?
Yes- this will be the 1st time
How long have you been knitting mittens?
Never tried it- but I've done socks
Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn?
Solid or heathered yarns
What fibers do you prefer in mitten yarn?
Soft & non-itchy- alpaca, cotton blend
Where do you usually knit mittens?
I suppose any where, like I do with socks
How do you usually carry/store small projects?
In a draw-string tote
What are your favorite mitten patterns?
I haven't really looked at them much, but I like the ones with fuzzy cuffs
What are your favorite mitten knitting techniques?
I'm willing to try most anything
What new techniques would you like to try?
Cables, intrasia
What are your favorite needles for knitting mittens?
Don't really know, but I'm a little leery of double points- afraid they'll slip out
What are some of your favorite yarns?
Katmandu, Cascade 220 (for felting), Cotton Chenille, Alpaca
What yarn do you totally covet?
Karabella Supercashmere ($53 a skein- gaak!)
Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object?
I'd like to try a sweater from The Celtic Collection in merino/silk/cashmere blend
Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)?
I like using wooden needles, mostly circular, since they can be folded up
If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be?
Debbie Bliss Alapaca Silk
Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack?
Dark Chocolate, candied ginger, cashews
What’s your favorite animal?
Cats- I currently have four!
Would you prefer super warm mittens or something more like fingerless mitts?
If you were a color what color would you be?
Emerald green or Chocolate brown
What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature?
I love the look of English cottage gardens, with riots of colors & flowers; I've lately been drawn to sunflowers.
Do you have a wishlist?
No, but I could come up with one real easy :)
Anything else you’d like to share with the group today?
I've been knitting for 2 1/2 yrs & consider myself an adv beginner/intermediate knitter. This is my first try at a swap- I've been reading about other bloggers doing them & think it would be a great way to connect with some new people.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Thrill of Victory...

Homecoming was such fun! Sam walked in the parade with both the Anime Club & Christian Club (I only got pictures of him with the first) & the Sophomore float won 2nd place (Juniors took 1st & Seniors got skunked!) It took longer to clean out the fridge than I thought, so we got home with just enough time to change clothes, grab our stadium gear, & pick up Sam’s best friend, Gino before heading to the game. We found seats next to our pastor & his wife (their daughter is on the dance team & was performing at halftime) & the boys went to get us all hot dogs & drinks, before wandering off to find their friends.
I can’t say the game was very interesting- West whomped McNair 61-0! It was rather embarrassing & I felt so bad for those kids; their own cheerleaders left at halftime & it got to the point that we were rooting for them to get at least one touchdown. But, in all, it was a successful evening- we got to see our team win, Chris & Pastor got to talk football, the ladies visited & admired the halftime show, the boys made the rounds & were “seen” (I have to say- those two are awfully cute for geeky sophomores) & we only spent $35.00 for the whole evening! We will definitely do it again- possibly this Friday, since it’s another home game- against a top ranked team, so it should be more exciting.
I really wanted to go back up to Apple Hill on Saturday, since the weather has been so nice- the leaves have finally changed & I wanted to wander around the pumpkin patches; besides, Wonder Wife has an awesome Apple Crisp recipe I want to try, & I need more apples & pears. Unfortunately, Chris had already committed himself & Sam to help on a house repair project being done by the Men’s Ministry department, so we decided to postpone it for a couple of weeks. Being footloose & free for the day, I headed off to a new-to-me yarn shop in Elk Grove, about an hour north of here, to look for some yarn to make Chris a scarf, since the other one is just coming out too fine & delicate-looking for a manly man like him. My requirements were simple: soft, non-itchy, chunky, cheap & butch. I found a great alpaca/angora blend, in a light grey color, that will work really well (& it was only $5.25 a skein- score!) & picked up some more Fixation, variegated in orange to peach, which will become socks for a friend.
Since I was almost to Sacramento, I decided to go over to Ikea to wander around. I truly love that store! I enjoy just walking around, looking at the room displays & checking out all the gadgets. I usually end up walking out with odds & ends, like candles, kitchen utensils, hand towels & some of the unique food (Chris’ heritage is Swedish & I like to surprise him with traditional treats.) This time, I saw some dining room chairs I really liked- straight backed unfinished pine, almost Shaker style- that were only $20 each. I bought 4 chairs & four red-striped cushions- I’m so excited, because my current chairs (of which I only have 3 left) are on their last legs, so to speak. We’ve been talking about replacing them for several years, but always talk ourselves of it- there is always somewhere more important to spend the money. I can hardly wait until Chris finishes putting them together & staining them; it will give the dining area a real lift before the holidays.
Sunday was a stay home day; after church, we considered going to the nursery or doing some shopping for a winter coat for Sam, but neither option really appealed. So we started the quarterly turnout of the house- Fall Cleaning- since we’ll be shutting up the house to run the heater before long. The kitchen & bathrooms got scrubbed down, the patio furniture washed & treated with Armorall, throw rugs & pet bedding washed, and everything dusted & vacuumed. The boys always sigh when I say it’s time to clean, but they enjoy everything being fresh & organized as much as I do; besides, when the Queen decrees, they know it’s fruitless to argue! Next weekend, we’ll finish up with the windows, curtains, people beds & bedding, laundry room, & sort thru the closets, to see what clothes can be passed on & what is needed for the winter. Only then can I feel justified in going clothes shopping for everyone: besides a coat, Sam needs jeans & shoes; Chris needs heavy t-shirts, water-proof boots for work & some dress shirts; I am in rather desperate need of slacks, long sleeve blouses, & a bra. *Sigh* this will be an expensive month- I’ll have to hit the savings account pretty hard, especially since our vacation is coming up. Oh, well, that’s why we work- to provide the needs & some of the wants of our family. I’m just thankful that God provided the overtime Chris did this summer, knowing that it would be needed later- He is always looking out for our welfare!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Go Wolf Pack~ HUH!

As is normal for our family, the past week has been pleasantly (for the most part) eventful, with our usual round of activities, commitments, & a bit of adventure.

~ Knitting wise, the past month has been productive: I finished all three projects that were pending- the baby sweater, Sam’s clogs, & my cotton socks- & sent them on to be enjoyed. Of course, this meant I needed something new to work on, & naturally, I can’t just work on one thing at a time (I might get bored or something), so I again have three projects on the needle! First project is another pair of clogs- these for Chris- out of the Paton Classic Wool/SMS Soy Wool I bought a couple of weeks ago; I test felted a swatch & it shrank up so tight, I went up 2 needle sizes so they don’t end up too small (Totally random aside- Dahlia has fallen in love with this test swatch; she carries it around in her mouth, plays with it like a catnip mouse, & sleeps with it on the end of our bed) The second item is a tote bag for the Garden Club gift exchange next month- it is 75% completed & will be felted. The third project is a cabled scarf, made of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk- it is reportedly for Chris, but I think it may end up with someone else. I was also gifted with a new, large knitting bag on Wed evening at the LYS- I mentioned I was looking at a particular one at Michael’s & one of the ladies said I could have the one she bought. I offered to pay her for it, but she declined, saying she just wanted it out of the house (she thinks it smells funny- well, heck, I can stuff it with all the dried lavender I harvested this year!)
~ We had lovely, cool weather over the weekend. I worked at my office for 4 hours on Sat (re: yesterday’s post), while the boys raked & mowed the front yard, then we all took naps- each of us has been sick over the past couple of weeks, so resting was needed! We stayed home, watched movies, & ate junk food that evening- I know, terrible for the diet, but good for the morale. After church on Sunday, Chris crawled into bed with a migraine, so Sam & I vacated the premises & headed to the cornfield maze in Livermore. We had a good time, even though we both thought the maze was too easy- I think we are just accustomed to wandering it in the dark with flashlights; in the daytime, you can see between the rows & use the sun as a reference. We wandered around the pumpkin patch, barn & petting zoo areas, and then sat down for some hot dogs & roasted corn-on-the-cob dipped in butter & garlic!
~Report cards came out on Monday. While Sam’s grades weren’t too bad for a kid with ADD & dyslexia (1 A, 1 B, 3 C & 1 D), he knows he could have done better. The D was in World History, which he likes- he is just very disorganized & missed out on points for not having his stuff all together, in order, & turned in on time.
~ Tuesday night, we had an informational/organizational meeting for the new quilting group at church. There were only four of us at the initial meeting, but several others had already expressed interest & couldn’t come that evening. We talked about the leaders’ vision for the ministry- to provide lap quilts for the elderly & baby quilts for the crisis pregnancy center, & to create a large quilt to raffle off each year, providing money for ladies to attend the annual Women’s Retreat. As we will only be meeting once a month & sharing the work of building quilts, I think it will work into my schedule without too much pressure.
~ Today was my turn to provide breakfast for the staff (we only have 17 people in our office), so last night after choir practice, I put together a couple pans of Egg & Potato Bake, one with sausage & the other without. I baked them before going to bed (oh, my, the house smelled good) & reheated this morning, then popped in a couple rolls of biscuits to go along. I bought enough stuff to make another pan for us tomorrow, since I doubt there will be any left over.
1 dozen eggs
1 cup milk or cream
1 pkg of Frozen Hash Browns
8 oz shredded cheese
10-12 links of skinless pork sausage, cooked & chopped
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp parsley (I use fresh flat leaf)
½ tsp salt
Lightly grease a 9x12 baking pan; layer potatoes, cheese, sausage pieces & seasoning in pan, then lightly toss to mix; whisk together eggs & milk in a large bowl, then pour over mixture in baking pan- gently stir & lift to allow eggs to cover & combine with other ingredients; bake in a 375° oven for 40 minutes; allow to set for 15-20 minutes before serving, to complete cooking

~ Tonight is West High Homecoming- the parade is starting in about an hour & literally goes past my office door. Sam is in 3 floats/groups again this year: Anime Club, Christian Club & the Sophomore float; the parade route is only 3 blocks long, so he goes past my office (so I can take pictures) hops off & runs back to the next group. Afterwards, he’s going to help me clean out the fridge in the break room, and then we are going home early. We’ll come back downtown when Chris gets home to have supper & head over to the game. I’m ashamed to admit it, but we have lived here for nearly 12 years & have had 2 children in the high school, yet have never attended a football game. The last game I went to was when I was a junior in high school- 26 years ago! I think it will be a lot of fun, though I’m fairly certain Sam will ditch us early on to hang out with his friends. That’s okay- Chris & I can snuggle to keep warm, drink hot chocolate from the thermos, & have a great time without Sam.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Back in Blogland

Hey, everyone! My report is done & the pressure is off finally, so I have some time to breathe, reflect & catch up with the doings around here. But first off-

A Public Service Announcement
As you may or may not know, I work in the accounting department of a financial institution. One of my least favorite duties is to remit money from dormant or abandoned accounts to the state. This has been my big deadline project this past 2 weeks, as we are required by law to submit the fund on or before November 1st. This year, I had to close 96 accounts & remit over $10,000 to 4 different states, because we were unable to make contact with the owners of the accounts at the address of record. In one case, the owner was 98 years old, living in another state, & all mail was returned- I had to send over $5000 to the state of record. This person could be in a nursing home & in need of the funds, or more probably is deceased & the estate is unaware of the assets.

So, here is my informed advice & good deed for the month:
1. If you move, make sure you file a change of address with your bank/credit union- the forwarding notice that you fill out at the post office will not automatically change your address- most financial institutions need a signature from you to do that
2. Open all your mail (especially from a financial institution), even if it looks like marketing stuff- to paraphrase the old axiom, you can’t judge the contents by the envelope- you may be throwing away your money
3. Make sure you have a list of all your account somewhere & list a beneficiary (somebody that gets the money if you should die)- even the little ones, like Christmas club- it will be a kindness to your family if they have to suddenly deal with your financial affairs

If you have ever lived or worked in any state in the Union, you may have an account that you either forgotten or maybe didn’t even know about. I once worked one semester as a lunchtime yard duty at my daughter’s school- unknown to me, a portion of my pay was put in a state employees pension fund. About 3 years later, after we had moved to another city, I received a check for $50 from the fund, since I was no longer employed at the school & eligible to be on the pension fund.
I strongly recommend that everyone go online to their state’s website, go to the unclaimed property division, & see if they have any money that has been escheated- this is your money & the state will return it to you. Or you can go to
NAUPA website, which will give you contact information or direct you to each state’s UCP site.

Okay, now I feel better- it really distresses me to see people losing out because they are uninformed. I’ll have to come back later to tell you all about the other things going on in the garden, because I need to catch up on some “regular” work that got put off this week.

Monday, October 23, 2006

At the tone, please leave a message

Deadline looming + boss is back from vacation with "some wonderful ideas"+ need batteries in camera to download promised pictures + really have to take a nap at lunch, since I'm seeing double & hearing things = meg can't come to the blog right now, but she will return at her ealiest convenience. Thank You for dropping by "meg's garden" & have a nice day!

I finally got the pictures of the 2nd pair of clogs & the Fixation socks posted in my "Knitting Projects" album- at least I got one thing I wanted to do today!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cruel & Unususal, or Justice?

When visitors come to my (MSN)Space for the first time, they will almost invariably mention the same thing: after complimenting me on my sparkling wit, stunning beauty, & brilliant writing ability, they will comment on the “Ways I Embarrass My Children” list. This list was created as an obvious ploy to grab the attention of browsers, so they would hopefully stick around long enough to read some of my ponderings & possibly return to see if I come up with anything else interesting.
I feel it is time make a few points clear. First: not every item on the list is done with the express intention of embarrassing my children- that is just a lovely perk- some of the things are just how I express myself. Second: each of my children, particularly my sons, has a well-developed sense of humor, & they have become accustomed to their mother’s unique personality. Third: what might be considered my callous disregard for the dignity & tender self-esteem of said children is, in reality, a defense mechanism on my part to keep from being arrested for “teenicide” or being hauled off to the loony bin- if I can laugh at them, I’m more likely to take pity & let them live.

Thirteen Ways My Children Drive Me Crazy
1. Leaving damp towels on the floor in their room
2. Using my (brush, pen, tape measure, etc) & not returning it where they got it
3. Lying to me about anything
4. Using the last of something & telling me we are out when I return from the store
5. Changing the pre-sets on my car radio
6. Placing dirty dishes in the sink, when the dishwasher is 18 inches away
7. Making last minute plans & expecting me to drive them somewhere
8. Remembering all the words to a song they heard once, but forgetting that the garbage needs to go out to the curb every Wednesday
9. Playing their music on my CD player & leaving the volume on HIGH
10. Visible underwear- nuff said!
11. Muttering, mumbling & carrying on a conversation with me while they walk away or are in another room- being mildly hearing impaired most of my life (& all of theirs) the rule is “If I can’t see your face, I can’t hear you!”
12. “Remembering” they haven’t finished their homework at 10:00 pm Sunday, after spending the weekend complaining that there is nothing to do.
13. The gratuitous use of profanity; they know better than to use foul language with me, because I will snatch them bald-headed. What bothers me is the constant stream of profanity when they are talking to their friends or IM’ing online- there are so many other words to use, which will convey the same message with intelligence & respect.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On the mend

Thank you, dear friends, for your concern & kind sympathies. Yes, I am feeling better- although I’m still stuffed up, the fever is gone & I’m not so tired. I’m back at work & everyone has kindly stayed away from my desk all day. I believe this has less to do with concern for my delicate state of health or the amount of work I have to do, than the desire to avoid catching my cold. Then again, it could be because my ears are stuffed up & I can’t hear the phone ringing or anyone asking me questions, so they think I’m ignoring everyone!
I have to share a funny story from my second nap yesterday. Yes, I took two naps yesterday- I went to sleep after my first dosage of cookie therapy & was awakened by Sam at 2:00 pm, reminding me that I needed to pick up his prescription at Target & that he needed to go the Barnes & Noble for a new book. When we got back home, I had another dose of chocolate chips & Nyquil, & snuggled back under the covers for a little rest. I was dreaming of working in my yard, using a squeaky wheelbarrow; as I slowly awoke, I realized the squeaking sound was real- very faint, but coming from nearby. I lay very still, trying to locate the sound; but it had stopped, so I went back to sleep. Just as I was drifting off, I heard the faint noise again- I sat up in bed, looking around for the source, but of course it was gone again. I got out of bed & went to the window, thinking maybe it was the breeze, whistling thru a crack in the sash. I secured the window & crawled back into bed, determined to get 10 more winks before Chris got home. I listened intently for a bit, then slowly began to relax- & I heard it again. Coming from the bed. Coming from me. Yes, it was the dreaded “Nose Whistle”! I started giggling, then laughing- the cats left in a huff, & Sam poked his head in to make sure I was okay. I told him what had happened & we both got a case of the helpless giggles- this is how Chris found us & why I got little sympathy for the rest of the evening- he thinks we are certifiable.