Working for a living

I tried to wash my windshield on my drive home this evening before the car had warmed up all the way.  The fluid wasn’t frozen or anything, but as soon as the wipers stopped, the moisture that was left crystallized, then melted away.  It was SO cool.  I did it a couple more times, just so I could watch the ice crystals.  No, I didn’t rear end anyone.

My first week is over, and, while I’d rather not be working at all, I think I like my new job.  You know, enough.  And I certainly like my new co-workers.  I spent the week learning this system (so I can teach it in a few weeks).  (That sounds like I learned it all this week.  I didn’t.)  I was the guinea pig for one of the other new trainers to practice on.  He’s young (22, I think) and kinda nervous about teaching, but he’s funny.  This afternoon, we needed clarification on a particular contract type for acquisitions.  We’re talking about government acquisitions, for government agencies, and the example he came up with to describe how we think it works is puppies.  As in, let’s say the government needs to buy puppies.  They cost $100 each.  We award a contract to buy 12 puppies.  Then we discover we need more puppies.  We (me and the more experienced trainer we were asking for help from) couldn’t listen with a straight face.  Puppies!  In bulk!  I would love to work for that agency.


Seriously, who can resist this?

Really, I think I’m glad to be back at work, in a job I know I can be really good at.  “Relieved” may be a better word than “glad”.  Starting a new job, dealing with new people, having to get up early again and figure out a whole new schedule is stressful, but earning again takes a lot of stress away that I didn’t realize I had.  Mm.  Not true.  I knew I was stressed about that.  But I feel better.  And I’ll feel even better than this when I get my first paycheck.  (And my second.  And my third…)

Enough of that.  It’s the weekend!


…my mind is blank.  Seriously.  Also, we’re kinda half-watching Sixteen Candles, and I think I’ve mentioned before how hard it is to write anything when I’m distracted by the TV.

So, um, yeah.  Half-assed post tonight.  Less than half.  Sorry.

The piano has a new home!

I just met the family who contacted me about the piano.  They want it!  Piano adoption is complete.  It will go to its new home over the weekend, probably, after they figure out whose trailer they can borrow.  I met the mom, the dad, and the little girl who’s taking lessons.  I think she’s about 8 or 9.  Definitely between 7 and 10.  They’re very nice people and very appreciative.  The little girl was thrilled.  Once her dad coaxed her to the keys, she played (mostly messing around (chopsticks and that other thing we used to play all the time (not “Heart and Soul” – the other thing)) and making noise, but it was fun piano noise) the whole rest of the time they were here.  They measured (it’ll fit), and I offered to let them go through my piano music when they come back and take what they want (with the exception of a few things I want to hold on to, of course).  Family, if there’s any music you want me to hold on to for you, tell me before Saturday.  The little girl (the parents don’t play) has been practicing on a keyboard (not full-size), so this is working out perfectly for them.  And for me.  The piano is going to a good home where it will be put to good use.  And of course, I told them all about its history (including the cracked harp and the messed up finish).  I told them I checked with you guys before making this decision, and the mom asked me to pass on her thanks.  So, thanks, family, for letting me give our piano to a new family to love.

Am I getting too maudlin?

No clever title

I was sitting in the office today, and out of nowhere I had the strongest memory of being on the hangar deck of the Truman.  Couldn’t figure out why for a minute, and then I realized I was wrinkling my nose and trying to breathe through my mouth.  Someone had opened the outside door (leading directly to the parking lot), and the scent of exhaust combined with paint had wafted in.  Scent memory is a funny thing.

Somebody wants the piano!  (Who needs segues, anyway?)  Our neighborhood has a message board, so I posted on it Sunday afternoon.  I described the condition of the piano and basically said I’d like it to go to a good home.  Otherwise, I’ll probably donate it.  I got an email today from a woman who said she’s interested.  Her daughter takes lessons and needs a piano to practice on, so I invited her to come over and see it.  I’m very excited.  🙂  Yay for community!

End of big day

My big day went fine.  Nothing particularly exciting, but that’s totally okay.  It was busy and full of new stuff, and I think my head is going to be stuffed with information that I need to retain and be able to explain to others, but how can that be bad?  Before it gets boring, I mean.  🙂

Oh, I lied.  Something exciting DID happen.  I got a Blackberry!  I have a brand new Blackberry Curve, and I don’t know how to use it.  🙂  It came with my email set up already, so I don’t have to worry about that, but I don’t even know what the number is OR where to find out.  I’m reading the manual and going through the tutorials.  I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.

I’m making salmon for dinner, and unwrapping the white paper packaging reminded me of how much I love the people who work behind the counters at Wegman’s.  Sunday, I had a funny conversation with the fish guy after he convinced me to buy this salmon instead of that salmon (better quality and cheaper, since it was priced by weight and not by piece) because my wearing a Boston College sweatshirt without ever going there reminded him of the time he wore a Sharks sweatshirt (not because he’s a fan, but because it was comfortable) in Pittsburgh and got snarled at by someone who was decidedly NOT a Sharks fan.  His joke in reply (“What are you, a Jet?”) went over the other guy’s head.  Anyway, he was a big guy, broad shoulders, big gray mustache, very loud.  A few weeks ago I got into a 15-minute conversation with the guy at the kosher counter.  I was buying kugel (potato and noodle) so I could check out their recipes (they make a delicious apple noodle kugel).  He talked about his mother’s kugel recipes, then latkes, then matzo balls, then about his grandkids, and how he’s a little annoyed (but in a good-natured way) that he’s expected to cook for everyone at home all the time when all he does all day at work is cook.  But his grandson asked him, so he did it.

I’m cooking and John’s home and I want to play with my new Blackberry.

Update: Roxy had another seizure just before 11pm.  I should have seen that one coming.  She’s had two seizures in one day that last couple of times, too.

A little nervous

Not a lot nervous, but it’ll be interesting to see how well I sleep tonight.  I had my nails done today and managed to screw two of them up before I even left the salon.  Good timing, actually, since it was easy for my manicurist to fix them.  And I love my manicurist.  She was nice, we were able to have an actual conversation, and it wasn’t a big deal when we weren’t chatting.  Comfortable silence.  I will definitely see her again.  Assuming I make manicures a regular thing, which is not a given.  But I really do like how my hands feel now.

Tacos for dinner, so gotta go cook.

I’m living with Sting!

On the advice of John’s grandmother’s live-in aide, Cheryl, we asked his new stylist, Jenny, to model his new haircut after Sting’s hair.  See exhibits A and B (we took these pictures with us):

Now, see John’s very cool, very Sting-like hair:

We’re discussing the possibility of a beard.  Short, a little scruffy, but neat.  And new glasses.  It’s almost like having a new husband!  Not that I was looking for one.  🙂  I like mine.

For Mom, pictures of my new haircut

Here you go, Mom.  John took a bunch of pictures so you (and everyone else) can see my new haircut, properly blow-dried and hair-sprayed, in advance of us going out for Mexican food tonight.  ‘Cause you just can’t go out for Mexican food unless your hair looks good.  Please ignore the face and just look at the hair.

Happy New Year!

So it’s 2010.  (I’ve decided to say “twenty-ten” and stop this “two thousand and ten” nonsense.)  The party (which was very fun) is over and everyone has gone home.  We cleaned a little (although the house really wasn’t a mess) and then decided to revisit the idea of rearranging the whole first floor.  I think we’re gonna do it.  Like, this weekend.  🙂  We have a three-day weekend, and once John’s semester starts, he won’t really have this kind of time.  The furniture moving really won’t be that hard.  The hardest part (or at least most complicated part, even though it’s not really hard.  According to John.  I think it’s hard.) is wiring the living room (which will become the family room) for the TV.  There’s no cable outlet there right now.  So we’re going to take the opportunity to run the TV cables behind the wall, hiding them from sight.  Means cutting holes in the wall (one behind where the TV will go and one near the floor) and running wires up from the basement.  A trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s is in our immediate future.

But right now, John is in the basement fixing the dryer.  The other dryer.  It’s the one we moved with, the one we bought when we moved to VA in 2003.  It started squealing shortly after we moved to this house, so we switched to the dryer the previous owners left behind.  Anyway, he’s fixing it, and once that’s done, we can move the extra washer and dryer to the garage and put them on craigslist.  I’m pretty sure none of our friends are in the market for a washer and dryer at the moment.  If you’re reading this and you need a free washer and dryer (they work great, we just don’t need two sets), let me know.

The fun part about rearranging the house will be discovering what new furniture we need and/or want.  Obviously, this will work great for our new dining room table (that we still haven’t bought yet).  I want a little bistro table and two chairs for the bay window in the dining room that is turning to the living room because I like having breakfast in that room.  It gets lots of sunlight.  I want a little armchair and a very small table and lamp so I can have a little reading nook in the dining room, next to the fireplace.  We’ll need a little loveseat and chair or something to go in the middle of the new living room (that used to be the dining room).  We’ll need to go find the entertainment center we’ve been discussing for years to go under the TV in the new family room, and, of course, we’ll need lots more bookshelves.  A big reason for doing this whole rearrangement thing is to free up wall space in the family room (new dining room) for bookshelves.  At least four big bookshelves will fit in the new living room, with room for some narrow shelves or a corner shelf in a couple of places.  The new family room will have at least two big bookshelves flanking the TV, and there should be room for three or four bookshelves (at LEAST) in the new dining room.  That’s at least three or four more big bookshelves than we have right now, plus the smaller ones.  And we desperately need them.  My poor books are doubling up on the shelves so you can’t even see half of them.  Poor, sad books.

Okay, change of plans.  We’re still going to rearrange the house, just not this weekend.  There are other things John wants to do, and I can use this last bit of extended free time to try to finish my filing project.  I’ve got six boxes, plus a few things in random plastic filing cabinets.  I want to knock out at least three of those boxes.  Hopefully more.

John fixed the dryer.  He’s very handy.  🙂  Now we just need to make sure it still, you know, dries.

Happy New Year!

Ci a bachgen

We’re learning Welsh!  Ci a bachgen are the first words John and I learned .  We’re using Rosetta Stone (it was his Christmas present from me).  Means dog and boy.  I think.   🙂  Could be dog with boy.  It’s hard to tell with just pictures.  We’ll probably buy a dictionary (if we can find one) this weekend.

I checked in an online Welsh-English dictionary.  A means and.  When it has an accent thingy on it, it means with.  So I wasn’t far off.

I checked off the last item on my to-do list (it kept getting bigger), and I still have at least an hour and a half before any people arrive.  And I just thought of one other thing I need, so I’ll come back to this.

I’m back.  I had to go to Hair Cuttery to pick up my hair spray.  They complimented my hair.  🙂  Yes, I know they’re paid to do that.  I think I’ll probably just go to them when it’s haircut time again, though.  I went to the new salon that opened right next to our neighborhood Bloom on Tuesday.  I had a 1pm appointment.  I got there about ten ’til, and Theresa, the woman I made the appointment with, told me that she was short a girl for some reason or another, and they had another one o’clock.  I wasn’t in a rush, and I had my book, so I let the other woman go first.  Really not a big deal.  They were playing spa music, and I very much enjoyed my hour of reading.  ‘Cause it was an hour.  Theresa popped by a couple of times to apologize.  Then it was my turn (and the woman’s haircut (the one who went before me) was really cute).  Theresa and I were chatting while she shampooed my hair, and I had just asked her if she lived close by and for how long.  She answered after she turned the water back on, so I have no idea what she said.  Things like that kept happening.  She did the same thing with the hair dryer.  Does she not realize that water and hair dryers make noise?  On top of that minor annoyance, she talked about God.  A lot.  God blessed me, God blessed her, God blessed me again, things’ll be fine as long as I’m communicating with God, etc.  Too much God!  And it’s awkward to ask someone to stop.  I mean, I could have, sure, but then she would have been uncomfortable (yes, I know I’m the customer), and I’d feel weird about going back.  I don’t feel weird about going back, but there were just enough annoying things to make me think I probably won’t.  But I like my haircut!

Review #2: Animal Au Paws.  They’re a local pet-sitting service, and I love them.  I love our sitter, at least.  She was assigned to us and came over before we left to meet the dogs.  And us.  She came over three times a day while we were gone and stayed half an hour each time.  She walked the dogs, played in the snow with them, and gave Riley lots of attention.  You know how I know all this?  She left notes!  There’s a note for every visit.  We read them in order when we got home and it was like reading a journal.  (Or a blog!  Duh.)  Very cool.  And they’re very reasonably priced.  The dogs seemed to do very well.  It’s nice to have an alternative to the kennel.

Okay, half an hour (assuming no traffic) before Jess, Chuck, and Cody get here.  Happy almost New Year!

Hooked and feeling good about myself

I left the house today to go to the Ann Taylor at Reston Town Center, and as I passed my reflection in the windows of the other stores on the way, I was pretty happy with how I looked.  I was wearing my black boots with jeans, my black peacoat with my big green scarf, my new cute earrings (bought in Easton with Jess last week), and my fabulous new haircut, and I felt fantastic.  That lasted until I got home and ate brie and crackers AFTER my lunch of sushi and gyoza.  The brie and crackers were totally unnecessary.  But my earrings and haircut are still fabulous.  🙂

Hooked.  Overall, it was good.  We got there and mentioned to the hostess, while asking her to take a picture of us, that it was our anniversary.  So she seated us, and our waitress showed up a minute later, breathless and apologetic because she was afraid we’d been sitting there for several minutes before she noticed.  It had only been about one minute or so, so we let her off the hook.  🙂  1st good thing: bottles of wine are half off on Mondays.  It was a Monday.  2nd and 3rd good things: we each ordered a cup of soup.  Lobster bisque = fantastic.  She-crab bisque = really good.  John ordered scallops over pasta.  I think he really liked them.  The bite I had was very good.  Sadly, my mussels were just okay.  John tried a couple and got some bad ones.  (He’s fine.)  Mine were all fine, but the sauce they were in didn’t do much for me.  We decided to skip dessert and take the rest of the wine home (screw top), and when our waitress came back with the check, she had a bag that said “Happy 9th Anniversary” on it.  The bag had our bottle of wine and a free chocolate torte!  So she got a big tip.  🙂  And we had dessert when we got home.  Very good torte.  So those were good things 5 and 6 (4 was John’s entree).  We’d go there again.

I love gift cards

I know there are people out there who think gift cards are the cop-out gift, the gift that says, “I didn’t put any thought into what to buy you for this occasion”, but I’m not one of those people.  I suppose a gift card could say that, if you received one for something you have no interest in, but I’m talking about the ones that say, “I know you really like books, but I have no idea what you have already or what you might want, so here.  Go shopping.”  Or, “You said you need clothes, and you want clothes, but I’ll just mess up the sizes or the colors or the style, so here.  Go shopping.”  I LOVE those.  And my family tends to come through for me, as evidenced by the years of Amazon and Ann Taylor gift cards.  They’re perfect.  I don’t mean to say that I don’t appreciate the sweater or the DVD, ’cause I do, and I like them very much, and I’m thrilled that you know me well enough to pick out the right sweater and DVD.  But it’s so much FUN to actually do the shopping and the picking out that I feel like I got TWO gifts.

My point is that today was my big shopping day.  By 11am, I’d been to three stores: 1) Kohl’s, so I could exchange pants for John, 2) Target, ’cause John needs cushion-y socks for his work shoes, and 3) the Ann Taylor Factory Store in the outlet mall so I could spend my fabulous gift cards on fabulous work clothes for my new job (that starts next week!  Yikes!).  From there I went to the mall mall to look for a headband at Lord & Taylor (which I did not find – maybe it’s supposed to be at Ann Taylor Loft?) and to use my Banana Republic gift card.  I could have used it at the Banana Republic in the outlet mall, but I cruised quickly through that store and didn’t see anything I liked.  At the one in the mall mall, however, I found that sweater I was drooling over with Mom in the mall in KY in the perfect GREEN shade I like so much, and I bought it for $34.99!  (It was $59.99 two weeks ago.  Yay for sales.)  And I got a cream cami (with satin-ish trim) to go under it AND they gave me an extra 10% off just for using my gift card.  Yay for retail desperation.

Here is a badly aimed (and blurry) picture of the two of us outside the restaurant before dinner last night:

Blurry as it is, this picture is far better than our other attempts.  We asked the hostess to take one before we were seated, but it’s too far away and overexposed.  The ones we took after we got home have strange expressions and double chins.  (The photos themselves, not us.)  Not okay for internet viewing.

Home again, home again, something something

And also, happy anniversary to us!  John and I were married nine years ago today, which makes me feel old, and at the same time, makes me think, “HOLY CHICKEN MARSHMALLOW BALLS (tm Dooce) we were so young when we got married!”  That might not have been the exact wording of that thought, but you get the idea.  And I like that phrase.  🙂

I just came back from my first pedicure in….well, more than two months for sure.  I don’t remember exactly when I last pampered my feet.  It was definitely before we became, ahem, monetarily challenged.  My new job starts in exactly one week, and I need nice-looking feet.  Well, I don’t need them, but they sure make me feel more prepared.  I’m putting my manicure off until this weekend (I really do need nice-looking hands) because a whole week would give me way too many opportunities to screw up my nails.  No one at work will actually see my feet until summer when I can wear sandals.

I have a very busy (and short) week.  I need to buy clothes (yay for after-Christmas sales!), get a haircut, fill out paperwork for my new job, prepare for New Year’s Eve (clean and shop), and get as much filing done as possible.

Anyway, so today is our anniversary.  Maybe I’ll remember my camera and manage to take a picture of the two of us at dinner.  ‘Cause we’re going out to dinner.  We’re going to Hooked, a seafood place I’ve been dying to try ever since our buddy Jeff first told us about it.  It’s been at least two years since he told us about it, and there’s no good reason why we haven’t made it there in that ridiculously large amount of time, but – look, we’re going there tonight, so back off, okay?  🙂  They have mussels.  I love mussels.  I’m having mussels for dinner.  Yay!

Asleep on my feet

Here’s my thinking: I know I should write something, but I’m so tired.  We just watched Julie and Julia, which I watched last week with Mom and Dad and liked very much, and three of the four people in the room who hadn’t seen it already slept through the second half.  Not a good response.  But I love watching movies here.  The basement is set up like a theater, with a big screen and great recliners (SIX recliners!) (and I keep trying to spell it “reclinders”), and with the lights out, it’s really cool.

Exhaustion is setting in, though, and I’m ready to go home.  We’ve had lots of fun and lots of late nights in a row, and I just can’t keep that up for this many days in a row.  And I miss the dogs.  And my bed.  And the dogs.  Sometime tomorrow we’ll hit the road.  I hope the traffic won’t be too bad.

Christmas Eve, Take Two

So our plans changed.  Instead of the mall and a movie, we drove to Long Island this afternoon to see John’s grandmother, Rose.  We hit some major traffic in NY (going over the bridge and beyond), but that was mostly rush hour.  Instead of three hours, it took us about four and a half.  But I had Molly and Emily in the car with me (John went with his parents), so we had a good time.  (Big sing-along.)  We had a good visit (2 to 3 hours) and ate a ton of Chinese food, and then we headed back home (after a stop at Dunkin Donuts).  This time I had Pat and Molly (Emily went with her dad, and Tom and John drove together – we picked up Tom at Rose’s place), so after we sang the entire Bing Crosby Christmas album, we sang the whole soundtrack to The Sound of Music.  The trip flew by and all of a sudden, we were home and it was midnight.  So Merry Christmas.  I’m going to bed.

My first white Christmas

Assuming, of course, that the snow doesn’t melt away today.  It’s Christmas Eve morning, and John and I are sitting at the kitchen counter in his parents’ house in PA.  John’s dad is sitting at the desk in the kitchen, and the three of us are ignoring each other in favor of our laptops.  John is working (let this be a lesson to you all: work sucks), and I just applied for two jobs (required for unemployment).  Emily and I went for a jog with Mabel this morning, John went for a jog by himself, Molly slept in, and Pat went to work at an absurdly early hour.  I was awake then, too, because I blocked her in last night and she had to wake us up so we could move the car.  She’s on her way home now.

We decided to use a pet-sitting service instead of the kennel this year.  We’re a little nervous about leaving the dogs loose in the house for so many days, but the sitters have five different ways of getting in touch with us, so we should find out pretty quickly if disaster strikes.

I’m just babbling now.  The plan for the day (since no one has any emergency shopping to do – a first!) is to go to the mall (outdoor mall) to soak up the Christmas ambience and then maybe go to a movie.  After breakfast, I hope, ’cause I’m getting hungry!

Shoveling is hard

Shoveling is made harder when there are 19 inches of snow and only one snow shovel.  I was using the regular shovel.  Not as efficient.  It took us more than two hours to clear the driveway, the cars, and the sidewalk.  Then John cleared the deck.

Also, our shopping is basically done.  Yay!

Now, pictures.

Here’s the bench on the deck after the snow stopped last night:

View of the deck before shoveling this morning (through the sliding glass doors):

The deck after John shoveled:

Some pictures of the yard:

And some pictures of Roxy in the snow:

This isn’t supposed to happen here!

It’s 3:40pm, we have over a foot of snow (judging by the undisturbed pile on top of the table on the deck), and it’s still coming down.  This is nuts.  We could probably leave the house if we really needed to, in the Tucson with 4-wheel drive on, but the roads haven’t been plowed (not in the neighborhood, at least) and we have everything we need here.  I got home last night right about 5pm, let the dogs out, unloaded the car, and went back right back out to Wegman’s.  We have plenty of food.  Good stuff, too.

The snow started before we went to bed last night, and we had 4-6 inches when we woke up.  John went out front to shovel (we figured it would be easier to shovel at the end if we made a dent in the beginning), and I played in the back with the dogs.  We shoveled the deck, too, but that was three and a half hours ago and it’s like we were never outside, front or back.  I just let the dogs out again, and Riley didn’t even bother to leave the deck at first.  He just peed on a pile of snow.  ON the deck.  I can’t blame him.  It doesn’t really matter.  But they love the snow.  Riley more than Roxy.

We didn’t eat breakfast until about noon (since we shoveled and played first).  We have a fire, we’re watching TV, John is doing some programming stuff, and I’ve been reading during the commercials.  We’ll probably switch to movies (other than those that happen to be on right now) soon, like White Christmas.  Seems appropriate.  🙂  We were watching Keeping the Faith earlier.  I love that movie.  It was on TBS or USA or something, so it was edited a bit, but I love it anyway.

And here are the pictures.

View of the deck table around 9:30am:

View of the bench around 9:30am:

View of the deck table after we let the dogs out:

View of the deck table about 5 hours later:

View of the bench around 3:30pm:

Sister Mary Riley:

Obi-wan Riley:

A good (normal) picture of Riley:

And Riley’s warning look: “Back off, buddy, I’d had about enough of you and that camera.”