Brush with death

I was nearly brained by a falling branch during my run the other day.  I don’t know what made me jump out of the way – maybe I saw the movement? – but SOMEthing warned me, which was good because this branch was LARGE.  It could have done serious damage if it had landed on my head, which I’m pretty sure is what would have happened.  (It just scratched my calf.)  A couple of people saw it and came over to check on me, but I was totally fine, still on my feet, aside from being a little shaken.  I have NO idea what made it fall, at all or just then.  It wasn’t terribly windy, there weren’t any animals or evil henchmen cackling up in that tree, and really, what else could have caused it if not angry squirrels or evil henchmen?

Chunks don’t make anything better. Unless they’re chocolate.

Today did not start out well.  I had a 9am meeting (that’s 6am for me), which is never a good start, even if the meeting goes fine (like this one did).  John went out for coffee, but he brought me back the wrong drink.  I’m sure he ordered the right thing, but what came back was dark, bitter, and thick like mud.  Blech.  So I made tea, and I discovered that the milk was bad when it poured chunks into my mug.  After I managed not to throw up on the counter, I tried again with the new jug of milk – thank goodness I went to the store on Sunday.  My third attempt at caffeine was successful.

Then work was weird – a couple of projects aren’t going well, and it’s unsettling.  On top of that, my work computer decided to break Outlook, so the last hour of my day was spent IMing with IT while handling conference calls on my phone with no computer support.  Not fun.

The day got better.  My riding lesson was GREAT.  Smooth sailing.  I had control of Tigger, and everything just felt easier.  Then I walked in the door to the aroma of the brisket I had so thoughtfully put in the oven several hours before.  It’s a rainy, slightly chilly evening – perfect for brisket.  All weather is perfect for brisket.

Definitely not real

I don’t believe in ghosts.  Ghost stories and scary movies scare me (The Sixth Sense freaked me the hell out), but I don’t actually believe in ghosts.  That didn’t stop my heart from leaping into my throat tonight when I saw a pale face lit by a ghostly light in the parking lot near my car.  Half a second later I realized it was a kid looking at a phone, sitting on the curb, wearing a black sweatshirt – his head was totally floating in the dark.  Adrenaline rush: check.  Ghost: nope.

What’s the opposite of “check”?  Do you say “no check”?  Do you say nothing and let the silence tell the person you’re reporting to that you cannot check that item off the list?  Do you get all formal and say “I cannot check this item off the list because it is not complete or does not apply”?  On TV, it’s usually silence, but is there an actual correct answer?  I don’t know how to google that.


I suspect I failed my Real Oregonian test today.  It started out well.  I decided to go for a run instead of to the gym because it was only raining a little and it seemed likely to stop.  And it was 60 degrees out, so running in a little rain would be practically pleasant.  I could pretend I was a serious runner – a little rain won’t hold me back.  Less than a mile in, it started to come down a little steadier.  I ducked under a kiosk for a few minutes, but it didn’t get better.  Runners and walkers and other hardy folk went by me, and I decided to suck it up and keep going.  Then, of course, it turned into real rain.  Still not a driving rain (that’s pretty unusual), but steady and soaking.  I ducked under a bridge to wait it out – surely that wouldn’t last.  Packs of runners went by with disdainful looks at the tourist (that I may have been imagining).  Dog walkers gave me a wide berth – my prissiness might be contagious.

The message was clear: Real Oregonians don’t hide from the rain under bridges.

I was watching the rain hit the canal, and after a few minutes where it actually really did come down hard, I couldn’t see drops in the water anymore, so I hit the path.  Yeah, I was wrong.  It was still raining, but now it was a heavy mist.  Too light to see it hit the ground, but plenty wet enough to soak through my clothes and get in my eyes and make it hard to see.  Sneaky rain.

By the time I got home, dripping water, it was time to turn around and go to yoga, where the studio was so warm ACTUAL STEAM was rising from my damp clothes.

The hot shower I took tonight seemed almost unnecessary.  No.  It was necessary.

Stop! Thief!

So….yesterday sucked, as I mentioned yesterday.  Because that’s when it sucked.  Yesterday.

Let’s just say it’s a darn good thing I check my gmail account EVERY SINGLE TIME I see an email come in.

  • At 10:34am yesterday, I got an email from my bank with the subject “Password Reset Confirmation”.
  • At 10:35am yesterday, I got an email from my bank with the subject “Credit Card PIN Change”.
  • At 10:36am yesterday, I got an email from my bank with the subject “TRAVEL NOTIFICATION CONFIRMATION”.

At 10:34, 10:35, and 10:36am yesterday, I was NOT logged in to my bank account, and I did NOT change my password, change my credit card PIN, or log a travel notification.  I did immediately call the bank, but I wasn’t quite fast enough.

Somehow, a thief in Fullerton, CA figured out my bank account password and then immediately used the cash advance feature on my credit card to steal $400.  That happened before I called the bank.  Once I called, the bank froze everything – the credit cards, the debit cards, the accounts, my access to online banking, bill pay – everything.  Like, it’s one thing when your credit card gets stolen, but this person LOGGED IN TO MY ACCOUNT.  They could see EVERYTHING WE’VE GOT.

We got lucky.  There were no withdrawals from any of our checking or savings accounts, and we had the bank close them all and open new ones with the transferred funds, so even if the thief got our account numbers, they’re useless now.  And of course my password and username are new.  And we’ll get the $400 back.

But UGH.  Hours on the phone with the bank, verifying transactions, checking balances, closing accounts.  And how on earth did the thief manage to log in?  I’m a little freaked out.  I’ve already changed most of our passwords, but in the meantime, we don’t have access to our money.  No active credit cards, no active debit cards or ATM cards.  It’s a good thing I went to the grocery store on Sunday because we’re living on the cash we have in the house, and you know what?  That’s not much.  New cards should arrive tomorrow, so this is short term, but I don’t like it.  We should probably have a credit card with another institution.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.  Right now I have to make sure all the doors and windows are locked.

Ten sentences, no substance

Hi.  Today sucked.  Story tomorrow.  Tonight: shower, then bed.  Possibly no stop for reading, even.  That’s how much I want to be sleeping.

(We’re both okay, everyone we know is okay.  Today’s suckiness is under control.  It’s just sucky and, well, inconvenient.  Took an okay day down the tubes.)

You’re gonna make it after all

I am a goddamn wizard.  CELEBRATE ME.

Today, I was driving home from my riding lesson in the rain, and the windshield wiper came loose.  Driver’s side, naturally.  The wiper was wiggling all over the place in the wind and the rain and NOT doing its job of keeping the windshield clear.  I pulled over, of course, stepped out into the rain, of course, and tried to figure out how on earth I could fix this.  I’ve never replaced a windshield wiper, but I know they’re replaceable.  At first glance, I thought there might be a piece missing, but I spent the next five minutes (in the rain) switching from one side of the car to the other, inspecting the working wiper and then fiddling with the broken one, and FINALLY I figured out how to snap it in place.


I got back in the car, turned the wipers on, and gazed on my handiwork.  Which appeared to be upside down.  Or at least bent in a weird direction.  But it worked!  It wiped rain away.

I got back on the road and got on the interstate to go home.  Not five minutes later, still on the highway, the wiper came loose again and wiggled and waggled all over the place.  I pulled over on the side of the highway, still in the rain, keeping my distance from the trucks hurtling toward me, and fiddled with it again.  I tried to put it on the other way, since it had looked upside down before, but I couldn’t figure out how to attach it that way.  Maybe it was just bent.  I managed to click it into place, still possibly upside down, but firmly attached, and got back on my way.


I roared with the intermittent wiper speed a little slower than I was comfortable with considering the amount of rain coming down, but I made it home without having to fix it again.

BECAUSE I FIXED IT.  Without a manual or Google or anything.  BOW DOWN TO ME, PEONS.  I humbly accept your adulation.

Don’t volunteer to navigate for a car full of loud talkers

I don’t even know how to start this.  Let’s see.  We’re in Maryland for Christmas this year instead of Pennsylvania because Emily and Sean had Graham in September, and they volunteered to host rather than make another trip to PA.  (Apparently, they’ve been up there every other weekend since the baby was born.)  As a treat for the whole family (and to use up some of their Marriott elite rewards), John’s parents (Pat and John) took us all to spend the night at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel, which is one of those crazy big fancy hotels with a giant atrium and beautiful facilities and a big ice-carving show.  We got our own rooms (a break from being on top of each other in Emily’s house), had dinner out, saw the ice-carving thing (they gave us parkas to wear OVER our coats because they keep the ice-carving exhibit at 9 degrees), and watched this garish, over-the-top, totally tacky and totally fun light and music show in the atrium.

Getting there, though, was a bit difficult.  We were in two cars – Emily, Sean, and the baby in their car, and me, Molly, and John in the backseat of his parents’ car.  The hotel is right off the beltway, in MD south of DC, first exit after the Woodrow Wilson bridge if you’re coming from VA.  John’s dad was driving, his mom had shotgun, and in the backseat, John was behind his dad, Molly was on the hump in the middle, and I was behind their mom.  I was in charge of directions, which was unfortunate yesterday.  Just as we were getting off the highway, when the directions were like “Keep left to stay on X” then “keep left to stay on X”, then “get on the ramp towards I-95S”, but don’t get on the highway, “keep left to stay on X” – so, repetitive and slightly confusing – Pat told John to call Emily to find out where she was.  She had parking questions, so John was talking to Emily and Pat, Pat was yelling advice to Emily (on John’s phone), Molly was in the middle fuming about how Emily should just unload already and park since we’re checking in and why is this conversation even happening?, and I was trying to provide John’s dad with the admittedly confusing directions across and on top of all this noise.

I was not successful.

We ended up back on the highway.  Then we took the exit again to get to the hotel, tried to follow similar (but slightly different) confusing directions, and ended up on the highway AGAIN, because all of the previous conversations were STILL going on and John’s dad couldn’t hear me AND I couldn’t see very well so I couldn’t direct effectively.  After we got on the highway a THIRD time, I had resigned myself to spending all night on 495, with the hotel in view but forever out of reach.

Thankfully, John VII hadn’t given up yet, and he was able to get everyone to shut the hell up long enough to make the correct turns and get us there.

Here was the view from our balcony (we had a balcony):


Not my day

I hit myself in the face with headphones today.  Not earbuds, no.  Big headphones that cover your ears and have a really hard plastic piece that goes over your head from ear to ear.  That kind of headphones.  How did I hit myself in the nose with them?  WHILE I was wearing them?  I really don’t know.  What I do know is that I have a bump with a small cut on it ON MY NOSE.  And it hurts.

I suppose I deserve being hit in the face because otherwise I had the perfect day OH WAIT NO I DIDN’T.  Work was stressful, and then – AND THEN – I locked my keys in the car.  I took my car key off my key ring and put in my pocket (because my key ring is bulky), and when I got back to the car, I pulled my HOUSE key out of my pocket because of course.  I couldn’t call John to come get me because we’re a single-car family now, and actually, I couldn’t call ANYONE because my phone was locked in the car with my keys.  I had to borrow a phone to call roadside assistance, and then I had to wait outside in the cold and the dark for 45 minutes until they came.  It could have been worse.  I spent part of the time saying hi to some horses who put their heads over a nearby fence and I played with a dog.  But it really was dark and cold.

I had to go to the grocery store after that (because of course again), and then I got home and baked banana bread (that helped) and had scrambled eggs and toast for dinner (that helped more), but then I hit myself in the face.

So now I’m going to bed.

Watch out – I’m about to become an expert in a bunch of sports I know nothing about.

NBC Olympic coverage is annoying.  I mean, of course there are a ton of commercials, I can understand that, but stop with the stories.  I don’t want the stories, I want the events.  SHOW MORE EVENTS.  Tomorrow, I’ll see how they handle it on the website.

I watched some swimming today, and whatever the long cycling race was today.  I saw the accident the Dutchwoman in the lead had – it was AWFUL.  I thought she’d broken her back, and there was NO coverage of it while the race was still going on.  Luckily, there’s Google (and it had happened a couple of hours before – turns out I wasn’t watching it live), so I found out she had a concussion and some minor fractures, but was NOT dead or lying on the side of the road with a broken neck.  It was really upsetting to watch.

Anyway, now we’re watching gymnastics and lots of uplifting stories about teenagers.  And that one 41-year-old.

Repairs are needed

John’s bike is pretty old.  He’s had it at least since 1998, when he used it to get to his summer job in Connecticut when we were in school, and he probably had had it for a while at that point.  (I’ve only had my bike since 2004, I think.)  Anyway, sometime last week, he noticed that one of his pedals was coming loose.  It was wobbly, and he couldn’t tighten it with any tools he has.  There’s a bike shop right by our gym, so we biked over there after work today, figuring we’d go to the gym once the pedal was fixed.  Of course, the pedal fell off about halfway there, and you just can’t ride a bike with only one pedal (John tried), so we walked the rest of the way (it wasn’t far).  Naturally, fixing it is not as simple as replacing the pedal, so John left the bike at the shop.  I think they have to order some parts – his bike is either old enough or non-standard enough that they just don’t have whatever it is he needs.  Still cheaper to repair than to buy a new bike, though.

This would be necessary if either of us were capable of running….grumble grumble grumble.

Well, yes it would.  We bike to get places around here.  Never mind.



John got up in the middle of the night last night, and while he was up, I noticed in my half-asleep haze that I could see flashing blue and red lights.  I got up to look out the window just as John peeked through the blinds and shouted.


That’s the house across the street from us ON FIRE.  Its whole second story was in flames.  The flashing lights we noticed were from the fire engines parked on our street, whose sirens we somehow slept through.  It was 1:30am.


We watched from our kitchen.  The neighbors watched from our sidewalk.


The fire was out by 2am, and we went back to bed.  This morning, the poor house looks so sad.



As far as we know, no one was hurt.  No one was even there.  A new addition was being added to the second floor, and no one is living there during the construction.  The news (very short article) says a heater may have caused the fire.

I don’t need this kind of excitement.

Good Samaritan (it wasn’t me)

Today was beautiful and warm and breezy.  We had the windows open and the fans going all day.  It was great, but it also means we hear EVERYTHING that goes on outside.  This evening, before sunset, we heard a horrendous screeching noise right outside the apartment.  We looked out the windows and saw a car stopped in the middle of road, blocking the northbound lane, with the drivers side door open.  There was another woman inspecting the red mini parked on the side of the road just in front of it.  I assumed we’d just heard a crash, that maybe the car had hit the mini or the mini backed into the car.  I stopped looking through the screen (opting for the clear part of the window), and I couldn’t see any damage, and then John noticed the tire leaning up against the mini.

Apparently, this car was driving up our street when the front left tire CAME OFF THE CAR and rolled into the street and hit the mini.  The horrendous screeching noise was the front left corner of the car, minus its tire, scratching up the pavement.  We stood at the windows watching the circus (the people in the car running around, getting the tire, staring at the car, the other drivers trying to go around the car to get out of town, the southbound lane stopping to let the northbound lane swerve into their lane to go), and then we heard someone shout something about needing a jack.

John: Should I help?  I have a jack.  I should help.  Should I help?

He decided to help.  By the time I went outside, there were 7 or 8 people clustered around the car (only three of whom were working).  Everyone else on the block was out on front porches and stoops (me and our housemates included), watching the fun (and occasionally yelling).  With the help of two of the guys who live next door, John jacked up their car and got the tire back on.  Sort of.  Turns out that out of the five bolts that usually hold a tire on, one was missing and one had been completely broken off.  Of the three that were left, only one was straight and able to be used.  The car owners (who didn’t help at all and barely said thank you) decided to risk driving back to DC rather than drive the car slowly to a shop.

We’re going to keep an eye on the news for the idiots who are surely going to lose the tire again going too fast on the highway back to DC tonight.

It was bound to happen

Over the years (and especially lately, I don’t know why), I’ve had many close calls.  There have been so very many times I have lost control of a hair band and almost dropped it in the toilet, or fumbled the cap to the toothpaste and nearly dropped it in the toilet, but I’ve always been lucky.  Until today.  Today, my comb, my wonderful, colorful wide-toothed* comb landed squarely (and splashily) in the toilet.  I was ready to toss it, but John is more sentimental than I am.  He pointed out that I’ve had that comb as long as he’s known me.  He’s right – this comb is older than our relationship.  I can’t let it go that easily, so I’m boiling it clean right now.

Hang on, little comb!  I won’t abandon you!

*Wide-tooth or wide-toothed?  Google results are inconclusive.

Gluten-free baking and other disasters

Saturday morning, I made about 4 dozen gluten-free chocolate cookies, and they came out great.  Not great-for-gluten-free cookies.  Straight-up great.  This was one of the new things I tried, and I’m pretty darn happy with the results.  (I’m also typing this without my contacts in, so all the text is blurry and I’m relying on the inline spellcheck to catch all the mistakes.  Might not be happy with the results of this post.)  No disasters occurred during the making of those cookies. The bit about the house burning down might have been a bit prescient, though.  John kept me updated throughout the afternoon about the fire at the Annapolis Yacht Club.  Here’s an article in the local newspaper.  It mentions dozens of pedestrians watching the firefighting activity – John was one of those dozens!  (Does that technically mean he was one dozen?  John contains multitudes.)

Anyway, I also mentioned dogs eating dough.  Gaby and I made regular chocolate chip cookies for dinner, and Ginger (one of Mel’s dogs – the counter-surfer) licked three of them.  I usually under-cook my cookies, but these were a little less cooked than usual, so I think it counts as dough.  Prescient again? Or self-fulfilling prophecy, somehow?

Kitchen issues, part 436

This week has not been a good one for me and cooking.  I had the issue with the pie (it still turned out pretty good).  I dropped the salad all over the floor.  My cookies all came out fine, but I realized when my oven started pouring out smoke that I bought waxed paper instead of parchment paper.  The kitchen was smoky and the cookie sheets ended up all waxy and gross and hard to clean.  I hate waxed paper.  I’m planning more baking for this weekend.  I’ve learned from my mistakes, but I just know I’ll find something new to destroy.

Possible disasters:

  • I’m trying two things I’ve never baked before.  They’ll be inedible.
  • There are two ovens.  I’ll preheat one oven and try to bake in the other one, wasting hours on cookies that aren’t cooking and ruining the empty oven.
  • There are four hungry dogs in the house.  They’ll eat the dough.
  • There are four curious dogs in the house.  One of them will end up in the oven.
  • I’ll get distracted quoting Martin and Lewis with Mel and the cookies will burn.
  • I’ll get distracted quoting Martin and Lewis with Mel and the house will burn down.

Yeah, those seem likely.  Who’s betting?

I can’t even

I made another pie on Monday.  One more pie.  That’s a crucial detail I missed when I started to put it all together.  I boiled sweet potatoes for only one pie.  I peeled them, put them in the mixing bowl.  Then I added the rest of the ingredients, according to my recipe.  Yes, according to my recipe WHICH IS WRITTEN FOR TWO PIES.  Started the mixer, noticed the resulting mixture was a bit runny….oh, shit.  Dropped head into hands.  I didn’t buy any more sweet potatoes, so I couldn’t just turn it into two pies.  Tasted the mixture – a bit sweeter than usual (because of DOUBLE the amount of sugar needed for ONE pie), but pretty good.  So at John’s suggestion, I added some flour to thicken it up, crossed my fingers, and cooked it.

I don’t know how it turned out.  It’s puffy, and it took longer to bake completely.  It was meant for my team at work – they’ll have to let me know.  I’ll just hide when they try it.  They’ve had it before!  They’ll know!

To make matters worse, also on Monday (after the pie made it into the oven), I dropped a plastic mixing bowl of caesar salad.  It landed right side up (small miracle), but half the salad bounced out of the bowl and landed on the floor.  I had to walk away.  Actually, I think I stomped away.  That’s also when I decided not to make cookies that night.  Too dangerous.

And you wonder why I don’t cook!  Maybe you don’t wonder.  THIS IS WHY.

I need a personal valet

You know what’s (maybe not so) surprisingly hard?  Trying to wash my hair without the use of my right index finger.  I sliced my finger up pretty good on a boot at the store yesterday (defective zipper), and it is really very irritating having to be this careful about the dominant finger on my dominant hand.  It’s not useless – I can type, so I can work – but the cuts sting like crazy when they get wet or when I curl my finger in too far (or too fast).  Washing hands?  Painful.  Washing dishes?  Sucky.  Washing hair?  Very difficult.  Pretty much anything to do with water.  And I have to bake tonight!  I like to mush the sweet potatoes when I add them to the mixer.  Guess I’ll be mushing one-handed.  And the cookies!  Oh, the cookies.

My life is hard.

I prefer to remember the times I spend alive and awake

I’ve been hearing lately that the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is the booziest night of the year.  That seemed really odd to me (isn’t New Year’s Eve the booziest?), and maybe it’s not empirically true (is that a thing you can say?), but apparently, it’s enough of a thing to have its own rather charming really off-putting name: Blackout Wednesday.

John and I are about to brave the wilds of downtown Annapolis to find dinner.  Wish us luck dodging the overeager drinkers!  (It’s early yet – we’re probably safe.)

Those who falter and those who fall

May I have your attention, please? Attention, please.  I have accomplished a great feat of laundry tonight.  And juggling.  I would appreciate it if you would hold your applause until the end.

After three months of living in this apartment, doing laundry in the dank smelly basement with a folding table (that I don’t use) that has a ring of dirt on it (from a potted plant, maybe) and a floor that I know has flooded at least twice since we’ve been here, I have FINALLY managed to do a complete load of laundry (complete meaning both washers followed by both dryers, since they are NOT full-size units) WITHOUT dropping a single article of clothing on the gross, icky floor.

Your applause would be welcome now.

I will admit that it was a close thing.  One pair of my underwear landed on my shoulder on its way from the dryer to the laundry bag.  My shoulder is infinitely more preferable than the floor, so I forgave it.

Usually, a sock lands on the floor and I start yelling (“EW!  Grossgrossgrossgrossgrossyuckewgrossugh”) as I swoop down to pick it up (hopefully not dropping anything else in the meantime) and shake it SO very forcefully.  The yelling helps de-grossify it, and the harder I can shake it, the more I’m convinced the grossness falls away.  I have not yet resorted to running anything through the wash again, but it’s only a matter of time.

It’s too soon to tell if I have crossed a threshold, but now that I’ve managed to set this record, I’ll work twice as hard to defend it.  No more clean clothing of ours will hit that disgusting floor.  This I swear.  This I swear by…the stars.