New Year’s Eve prep

I’m a list person.  I don’t keep them once I’m done and I certainly don’t organize them, but I do create them.  They’re usually on post-it notes or the backs of pages in my work notebook.  Sometimes I email myself lists and other times, if they’re short, I just repeat the items to myself over and over until I get to the store.  That’s not usually a successful method of remembering anything, though, so I do try to write stuff down as much as possible.  Today it’s a text file with a running list of everything I need to buy or do to be ready for tonight.  It’s open on my desktop so I can add to it as soon as I think of something, but the danger in the virtual list is the strong possibility that I will forget to print it before I leave for the store.  And yes, if I had a Blackberry or something similar, this wouldn’t be an issue.  I know.

My point, if I had one when I started today, might have been that even though I have a list of things that really should get done before anyone shows up at the house tonight, I am not worried about getting it all done.  I’ll be able to leave work early today (by virtue of having arrived much earlier than usual) and I will have plenty of time.  Besides, our friends are pretty forgiving.  🙂  Thanks, guys!

Spick and span

John and I just spent the evening cleaning the house.  It’s not sparkling, but it’s SO much better than normal.  We just need to make this the new normal.

I’m sitting at my (neater than usual) desk in the living room, with Amanda’s accounting book next to me and the Obama bobblehead that Erik and Margaret got me on top of it.  Our Christmas tree (the fake one our neighbor gave us) is over my left shoulder with lights on, and Roxy is on the little rug in front of the piano, gnawing on one of her chew toys.  I think I’ll buy her (and Riley) some new toys this weekend.

The dogs smell so good now!  They got baths at the kennel, so they smell clean and sweet, and they have the cutest bandannas around their necks.  Roxy’s is pink.  🙂

I’m looking at our tree again, and I think we need to put more thought into decorating it next year.  Or whenever we put one up again (since we haven’t been doing it every year).  We have a gold ribbon twining around, but it stops about halfway down.  The lights aren’t very even, but that’s an easy fix, since we’re planning on buying a new one with lights already in it.  Whatever.  It’s too late to put anything thought into it now.

I’m gonna go read my sad book and see if I cry again before I go to sleep.

One thing leads to the wrong thing

I am SO not in the mood for work today.  We packed up the car, dropped off the dogs….and went to work.  That’s not what’s supposed to happen next!  Packing the car is supposed to be followed by hitting the road!  Driving to your destination!  And your destination should never be work.  Work is NOT a destination.  A destination is someplace you want to be, someplace you’re looking forward to going.  Vacation.  Work is an end, a place, an objective (an objective I am not meeting at the moment), but never a destination.

So yes, I’m at work.  I still have an hour to go.  And contrary to my own expectations, I actually have done some work today.  I have also fielded calls from Mom and Erik and been to the bank and the deli.  All not work-related.  It evens out.

We stayed up a little later than planned last night.  Got a lot of presents wrapped, more peppermint bark made.  And this morning we just couldn’t get out the door.  We got up early to pack and load the car, but it was still almost 10 o’clock before we left the house!  So for the second day in a row, we were late.  Our boss was good-natured about it.  I’m a little tired, but I see a stop at Starbucks in my future, so I’m not worried about making it to PA.

Only a couple of pictures from Annapolis

Here’s me and Jess in a coffee shop/bookstore in Annapolis.  We’re annoyed by Zagat’s restaurant blurbs.  A handful of quotes do not a review make.  Also, I think we’re aware we’re being photographed.

We know when we're being watched...

We know when we're being watched.

Look!  The state house!

Look! The state house!

We have a very pronounced lack of holiday-themed pictures of Annapolis.  We enjoyed the decorations, but apparently not enough to take any pictures.  🙂  I can only blame myself, though, both for not bringing my own camera and for not asking John to take any pictures of Annapolis decked out for the holidays.  I’m sure we’ll muddle through without them.

I expected more from these movies

WARNING: If you haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain, don’t read that part of this post.  I give stuff away.

John and I watched two movies this weekend, fully expecting to really like them both.  Neither of them really did it for us, though.  We didn’t dislike either of them, but I guess we were expecting more.

We were really disappointed in Dan in Real Life.  We just kept coming up with different (maybe better, but definitely preferable) ways to handle the situations he found himself in.  It was still enjoyable, but it was a little frustrating to watch.  We decided to watch Dan in Real Life Saturday night because John wasn’t in the mood for gay cowboys.

We watched Brokeback Mountain Sunday night.  You know, I really did like that movie.  My only complaint (John’s, too) is that I didn’t see the point where their friendship turned into love.  I liked the friendship, I liked how it was developing, but then one night because it was cold they decided to have sex?  It didn’t feel like they developed those feelings.  The plot needed it, so it had to happen right then.  We had the same complaint about the short story.  And some of the early tenderness felt underdeveloped.  These are tough, taciturn cowboys.  It doesn’t feel right to have one of them reach out to stroke the other’s cheek right away.  Later, sure.  Not at first.  So the beginning of the relationship felt rushed, I guess is what I’m saying.  By the time they reunited after four years, I was invested in it and I didn’t have any more problems with the movie.  And I loved what they did with the shirts.  When Ennis takes the shirts from Jack’s parents’ house, his shirt is inside Jack’s.  When we see the shirts at the end, Jack’s shirt is on the inside.  It’s like all those years that Jack had the shirts, he was hugging Ennis, and now that Jack is gone, Ennis is hugging him.  LOVE it.  And apparently (’cause I read the trivia section at, switching the order of the shirts was Heath Ledger’s idea.  Man, he was really good.  I couldn’t always see Jack past Jake Gyllenhaal, but Heath Ledger completely disappeared.

Too tired to type

We watched Dan in Real Life last night.  It was okay, but we didn’t like it as much as we expected.  You know, I’d like to get into why (and talk about Brokeback Mountain), but it’s late and I’m tired.  So you’ll just have to wait.

We went shopping, too, and got everything else we need for Christmas.  We should be all set.  Yeah, I can’t type anymore.  Going to bed.  Sorry.

No news IS good news!

Mindy came home from the hospital today.  I talked to her this afternoon, and she’s doing okay.  Mom is taking care of her.  🙂

John and I went to Annapolis today to hang out with Jess and Chuck.  We had a little bit of a hard time getting started this morning, though.  Last night we went to Joe and Megan’s house for a few hours after work.  We weren’t able to leave work early at all, so we rushed home to let the dogs out and try to run them around for a few minutes before abandoning them again.  (We made sure we put everything edible or valuable as far out of their reach as possible, since it’s days like this when they get destructive.)  We made it to Joe’s house around 7:30 or so.  It was a little bit crazy there, but good crazy.  After the boys went to bed, we sat around in their living room with a fire and talked until about midnight.  I pulled John away with the reminder that we were getting up early the next day to go to Annapolis.  He and Joe have plans to have lunch soon (and hopefully Megan (and the boys) and I get to come along…).  Anyway, we got home and got to bed around 1am.  Got up at seven.  No, the alarm went off the first time at seven.  For a second I thought the clock was wrong – I was WAY too tired for seven am and it was so dark outside!  But we snoozed for about half an hour and then got up.  Snoozing helped.  And I was wide awake and ready to go by the time we hit the road.  Starbucks helped.  Their croissants are really good.  🙂

Jess told me where we should meet them when we got the Academy this morning, and she warned me that even with directions, it might be hard, since there ARE NO STREET SIGNS.  I figured that the only street signs that would be missing would be right at the very end, and I didn’t think it would be a big deal.  I was half-right.  We had street signs until the last two turns, and yes, the two that were missing were right at the end, right at the Academy.  But the Academy is a BIG place.  So we turned too soon, found ourselves across some body of water (not the Severn itself, but something attached to it), turned around at St. John’s College.  Got back on the road we were on, went a little further, didn’t turn on what would have been the right road (because it had no sign) and ended up across the Severn.  I was pretty sure that wasn’t right, so we turned around again.  This time I took that turn onto the right road, but went right by the hall we were supposed to park behind.  I got pointed in the right direction by the gate guard.  And Jess and Chuck showed up just as we were parking our car.  So our getting lost helped with the timing, but still.  Street signs are important!

We got an information-filled (and trivia-filled) tour of the Academy from Chuck.  It’s a very impressive-looking place.  I kinda wish we’d been able to see it filled with middies, but that’s my own fault for waiting until the holiday break to get out there.  We weren’t able to see the chapel (there was a wedding going on), but we wandered through parts of Dahlgren Hall and Bancroft Hall (which is HUGE!), and much of the grounds.  Some of the grounds.  Saw the mast from the USS Maine.  There’s all kinds of cool stuff just laying around.  John took some pictures, but I haven’t looked at them yet, so I don’t know what he got.  After our tour, we headed into downtown Annapolis for a little bit of wandering and some lunch.  I love that kind of historic downtown shopping district.  Fun to just window shop and people-watch.

After lunch, Jess and Chuck took us to the bookstore with the dragon in the children’s section.  I really like that kind of bookstore.  It’s basically in an old house, sort of shotgun style, with a step up to each room as you go further towards the back.  Not very big, but cozy and crammed full of books.  That’s basically what I want, although I think I want it on a slightly larger scale.

Oh!  On our way to lunch, we were walking by this hotel and Chuck muttered something about wanting us to go in and see their heating system.  We all looked at him like he was crazy.  We should know by now that he is, but he certainly steers us in the direction of some really interesting stuff.  This hotel apparently used to be heated by hypocaust (an underground heating system used by the Romans), but no one at the hotel knew it until they were doing some renovations.  So there’s a room off the lobby with a glass floor so visitors can look under their feet and see part of the ducts used to move the heated air around.  It was really cool.  But walking on the glass floor unnerved me and Jess a bit.

Anyway, we had a wonderful time with Jess and Chuck (as usual – thanks, guys!) and can’t wait to see them again.

We were home before 3:30 this afternoon, and we’ve done very little since.  Actually, that’s not true.  We put up the tree and decorated it, and we’ve talked to almost every member of John’s family and helped them all with gift ideas.  🙂  So now I’m waiting for the pizza we ordered to arrive, and then we’ll watch a movie (maybe Dan in Real Life, maybe Brokeback Mountain – I know, I know.  Very different movies.).  Tomorrow, we have to finish our Christmas shopping.  At least we know what we’re looking for.  Mostly.

Morning shift

It’s a yucky misty day.  Not so bad at work, but outside is unpleasant.  Work is actually kinda…not fun, but not aggravating.  I’m busy (still testing), but the end is in sight.  A lot of people aren’t here today (not on our team, but in the rest of the office), so things are pretty quiet.  We just had a short staff meeting (the best kind) and everyone was fairly pleasant.  We all still have our senses of humor.

I went back to that cake and candy supplies store so I can make more peppermint bark.  I also got some milk chocolate, toffee pieces, and malted pieces.  That should be delicious.  🙂  I will play on Sunday.  The woman at the counter this time was very pleasant, not like her surly counterpart from my first visit.  (“Surly” is a good word.  I should use it more often.)

We’re heading to Joe’s place tonight to hang out with him and Megan, but it’s looking more and more likely that we won’t get out of here as early as we were hoping.  I was planning on staying until 5 or 5:30 anyway because of today’s deadline, but John had planned on getting out around 4 (we came in at 8 this morning) so he could go home and take care of the dogs before coming back to get me and head to Joe’s.  Unfortunately, he had a rather busy morning, so he may not be able to leave that early.  We’ll see.

The rumor yesterday evening was that Mindy might get to go home from the hospital today.  I have no idea if that came to pass or if it’s likely to, since I haven’t heard a peep from anyone in my family today.  I can only assume nothing bad has happened and that she’s not any worse.  Everyone is pretty quick to get in touch if there’s something I should be worried about.  (NOT a criticism.)  I think, in this case, no news is good news.

It’s flour.

Tasted the cookies again today.  The weird taste of something that didn’t get mixed in all the way is flour.  I just have no idea how that happened.

The office holiday party was today.  I wore my new black boots.  That’s really the only noteworthy thing about it.  And of course, that’s only noteworthy to me.

I wrote most of my holiday cards tonight, so they can go in the mail tomorrow.  John wrote a few, too, and he wants to take responsibility for two of the ones on my list.

We have to be at work early tomorrow (and then I’ll have to stay a little late since we have a submission deadline), so I’m heading for bed.

This post does not flow at ALL.  Kinda sucks, actually.  Sorry about that.  🙂  If I have time at work tomorrow, I’ll do better.  Well, I won’t fix this post.  I’ll just aim higher for the next one.

Good night.

Last dentist appointment of the year

[Around noon.]

I feel like I got punched in the mouth.  Right side only.  The numbness has worn off and the ibuprofen has not yet kicked in.  Aside from that, it was another very pleasant trip to the dentist.  (Oxymoron, right?)  I think I will bake them cookies.  When I got there this morning, the front desk staff told me I was the Patient of the Month and gave me a bag full of goodies.  They gave me a travel mug, some Ghirardelli hot chocolate, some other chocolates, and some toothpaste.  🙂  If they hadn’t included the toothpaste, I would have thought they were just trying to give me cavities and make me come back.

I learned something today (while at the dentist).  They put adrenaline in the novocaine (or whatever they use now as the anesthetic).  Apparently, the numbing slows down your heartbeat, so they put a little adrenaline in there to keep that from happening.  Instead, your heart starts to race a little.  So I kept thinking I was reacting (belatedly) to my nervousness about getting that shot, but really it was just the adrenaline THEY added.  Totally weird.  Today I was so jittery I could feel my hands and arms shaking.  But only for a minute or two after the shot.  I do still dread the shot, but I don’t worry about the actual procedures anymore.  They’ve convinced me they’re not going to hurt me.

[At home this evening.]

My cookies failed.  I make darn good cookies, but something went awry tonight.  And I didn’t realize it until John came home and tried one.  I actually stayed out of the batter and away from the cooling cookies.  They’re not bad, but I can’t give them to people.  I have a cookie reputation to uphold.  They taste like something didn’t mix in very well.  Possibly the baking soda.  John says he’ll eat them.  🙂  So I’ll just have to try again sometime.  But this means I can’t bring cookies to the dentist office.  Is it bad form to bring them peppermint bark?  Hard, crunchy candy is supposed to be the worst thing for teeth, right?  I might do that anyway.  Because white chocolate and peppermint is hard to resist, even for dental hygienists.  🙂

Mom is on her way to Louisville to help Mark take care of Mindy.  Actually, she may have landed by now.  Mindy is still in the hospital, but hopefully not for too much longer.  Dad said he talked to her this afternoon and she sounded much better.

Still waiting, but NOT worrying

I have resolved to do no more worrying.  (About Mindy in the hospital, anyway.  I make no such promises about anything else.)  She’s in good hands, she has pain medication, Mark is with her, she’ll be okay.  She’s staying there tonight and at least until she sees the doctor tomorrow.  Then they’ll decide when she can go home.  I hope she’s feeling better, I hope she’s not worried anymore.  I don’t want her to be scared.  The hard part is over.  Easy for me to say, I know.

Details are very important.

Mindy’s surgery went fine.  She’s recovering.  But at third hand (Mark told Mom, Mom told me), she had a rough night.  What does that mean?  Probably pain.  I would expect some pain after surgery, but was this unexpected?  More pain than usual?  Different pain?  Is it related to the infection?  Mark hadn’t seen the doctor yet when Mom talked to him, so hopefully more information will be filtered down to me once that happens.  She’s still in the hospital, so whatever it is, she’s in the right place.  I just want to know if this is normal or not.  I want to know that the doctors know what it is and are working on it.

I don’t want her to be in pain, and I don’t want her to be scared.

Worrying won’t do me any good.

Nothing happened today.  I have to post something without the crutch of actually having an event to write about.

How about this?  I am super excited about our day in Annapolis this weekend.  Hmm.  That doesn’t sound like me.  I mean, yes, I’m excited, but I don’t usually say I’m “super excited” about anything.  🙂  “I’m very much looking forward to it” sounds stilted.  But the sentiment is the same.  I get to hang out with Jess and Chuck for a few hours, go on a tour of the Naval Academy, see Annapolis all decked out for Christmas, and have yummy fish and chips.  Oh, and I get to see this mysterious bookstore with a dragon in it.  What could be better?

I’m hoping to have all holiday shopping (what little we’re doing) done by then.  John and I will probably try to go to the mall Thursday after work.  We only have a couple of things left to get.  I ordered as many things as possible online so I could avoid going to the mall.  I don’t mind the crowds, but parking is a pain.  And it drives John crazy.  🙂  He hates circling for a parking spot.

Well.  Mom just called.  Mindy is in the ER for an emergency appendectomy.  I started to get upset, but this is not a life-threatening surgical procedure.  She’s been there for a few hours already this evening (for tests), so at least she was in the right place when the doctors determined this was necessary.  Mom says the doctors promised Mark they’d be able to tell him something in less than an hour.  I’m not sure what that means, exactly.  Does it mean they’ll be done that quickly?  Or that they’ll know about how long it will take by then?  Or that they’ll know how long she’ll have to be in the hospital recovering?  I have no idea.  But when Mark calls Mom, Mom will call me.  So I will try not to worry.

In other news, if you haven’t seen Keeping the Faith (and you like romantic comedies), you should see it.  It’s actually funny, which is something you can’t say about many romantic comedies.  Ed Norton, Ben Stiller, Jenna Elfman.  Good movie.  That’s one I always watch if it’s on TV (I just caught the end), and I never feel sullied (to steal Chuck’s term) afterward.  It’s just a good movie.

Yeah, I can’t keep babbling about random things right now.  Mindy in the hospital, Mindy in surgery trumps everything else I can think of.  So I’m going to post this and fret offline.

[On a side note, the spell-checker suggest Elvina as a replacement for Elfman.  How is that more of a word than Elfman?]


I’m not crazy about Sundays.  I spend too much time worrying about wasting the rest of my free time.  Take today, for instance.  We slept in, which was very nice, got up a little after 10 (I think), had breakfast around 11, watched some episodes of Mad About You, and went out around noon to get haircuts and buy holiday cards.  We’re back, it’s not yet 2 o’clock, and I feel like so much of the day is gone already.  It doesn’t help that the sun goes down before 5pm now.  I don’t really have anything else to do today, so I should just relax and enjoy it.  And I will.  Eventually.  I’m going to run (which should be interesting; it’s pretty windy today), and then shower, and then curl up on the couch and start on these holiday cards.  We got our first one yesterday.  I was going to check out the new Bloom’s that just opened in the neighborhood (I need contact solution) and maybe get something for dinner.  Maybe I should do that before I run so I don’t have to go out again.  Maybe I should run to the store.  🙂

(A couple of hours later…)

I did.  I ran to the store.  It’s not even a mile away (I think).  Getting there was easy.  And I wasn’t buying much.  So I just grabbed my wallet and put it in one of those cloth grocery bags, rolled it up, and carried it in one hand.  It was certainly chilly and windy, but I was warm enough while running.  And I was immediately overheated when I walked into the store.  I managed.  Anyway, I grabbed what I needed, checked out, and headed home.  It’s a LOT harder to run home with a bag full of stuff.  It wasn’t heavy (maybe 5 or 6 pounds), but hanging the bag from my shoulder meant it was bumping against my hip with every step.  I tried cradling it in my arms in front of me, but that was awkward, too.  So I ended up walking most of the way home.  I think next time I’ll try a backpack.

Now it’s about 5 o’clock.  We ensconced on the couch with our cheese and crackers.  John is trying to install a game on his laptop.  I will probably read.  Catch you later.


I finally saw the inside of our neighbor’s house.  Now that she’s moving, she’s suddenly friendly.  No, that’s not fair of me.  She was always friendly, but it was more of a talk-to-each-other-over-the-fence-in-the-backyard friendly, not so much invite-me-into-her-house-to-chat friendly.

This neighbor (let’s call her Stella) was the seller’s real estate agent when we bought our house.  She adopted two kids from Russia (a boy and a girl) who came home for the first time just a few days after we moved in.  They were 5 and 9 years old.  She already had a son (also adopted, I found out today, but from Ukraine, not Russia, and as a baby, not a walking, talking child) who was about 6 when the other two came home.  And I think she has an adult son (stepson maybe?).  I’ve met him several times, he works with her as a real estate agent, shares her last name, and sometimes lives with her.  Maybe he’s her much younger brother.  I never asked.  Anyway.

Stella put a for-sale sign up in her front yard less than a week ago.  I’ve wanted to ask her about it, but, like I said earlier, we’re not exactly the kind of neighbors who just knock on each others’ doors to chat, so I was waiting until I caught her outside.  Tonight I took the dogs for a run, and on our way back, we met her two dogs.  No leashes, no kids, no Stella in sight.  (She is also the neighbor whose dogs routinely get out of her house and yard and wander the neighborhood.  She doesn’t always notice.  Oh, and these are the dogs (Ginger and Bear) who bark.  And bark.  And bark.  And bark.)  They’re nice dogs, and I was pretty sure they’d follow me home, since I had Roxy and Riley with me to hold their interest.  I got them into Stella’s backyard (the gate was open), threw my dogs in the house, and went over to her door to let her know her dogs were back (in case she was worried (assuming she knew they were gone, of course)).

Stella greeted me at the door with an immediate, “Come in, come in!” – something she’s never done before.  So I went in.  She showed me the house from top to bottom (and it looks great), and we sat in the kitchen and chatted.  She said she decided to sell her house now because if she waits any longer, the price will go down below what she paid for it.  So she’s basically breaking even by selling now.  Depressing.

I’m not sure what my point is here.  Oh!  Well, this may not have been my point, but the house sold on the second day.  I didn’t think anyone was able to sell that quickly right now.  And her price was not THAT low.  She’s closing at the end of January and moving by the end of March.  I should have asked her what the buyers are like.  Didn’t think of that until I got back home.

When I woke up this morning, you were on my mi-i-i-i-ind

I woke up today with a much sunnier outlook.  It’s Friday (woo!), the sun is trying to come out, I’ve been watching what I’ve been eating for the past two days and as a result, I have lost two of those pounds I gained back, Mom and Dad are on their way back to the States, and it’s the weekend!  It’s worth mentioning twice because I have a lot to do and will have time to do it this weekend.  I will finish shopping this weekend.  I will also get my earrings fixed.  John bought me these beautiful emerald and diamond earrings for my birthday this year, but the first time I tried to wear them, I found that one of the clasps won’t latch.  There’s nothing to keep that earring from falling out of my ear.  I want to wear them on Thursday (office holiday luncheon), so I need to get them fixed.

Hey, in case any of you were in doubt, Mom gives good advice.  Especially when one is overly emotional.  Mindy jumped right on the emotional crazy train with me and told me exactly what I wanted to hear (which is great for validation – thanks, Min!), but Mom told me what I should do.  And she was right.  So that’s what I did.  And now that the crazy train has pulled into the station (had enough of this metaphor?), I’m glad I listened to her.  Well, that was yesterday (and yesterday’s gone).  Today everything is sunshine and light.  🙂  That may be going a bit far.

John’s sleeping in this morning, so I need to take care of the dogs and get my butt to work.

Too much TV

I have completely forgotten what I was going to write about tonight.  Work was okay today.  It was nice having John there for the afternoon, even though he wasn’t very happy about it.  Yes, he’s still sick.  He seems to be doing slightly better (he’s not as dead on his feet), but he says he feels a little worse than yesterday.  His project is due tomorrow, so he and Greg are trying to put the final touches on it.  Then he can collapse.  He can sleep in tomorrow and then come to work in the afternoon again.  And then I will force him to rest all weekend.  Hopefully, he’ll be  better next week.

Ooh, the “Festivus” episode of Seinfeld is on.  I’ve been watching a lot of TV this week.  I only have a handful of shows that I DVR and watch regularly, but I really will watch almost anything that’s on.  A handful?  Let’s see.  In no particular order, I watch True Blood, Fringe, 30 Rock, My Name is Earl, Heroes, The Mentalist, and Lost.  I think that’s it.  And Eureka.  So it’s a handful and a half.  Seven hours of TV a week, except that their seasons don’t all run at the same time.  So it’s never more than six hours a week.  John watches all of those shows with me except Fringe.  And we tend to watch them on weekends, never live.  So why have I been watching random TV every night this week?  What’s wrong with my book?

It’s been raining all day, and every time we let the dogs out, we have to convince Roxy to leave the deck.  She’ll stand in the middle of it, in the rain, but we can’t get her to go down the steps without going out there with her.  And this last time we let her out, we couldn’t get her to come back in.  When she finally decided she was ready, she was completely soaked.  I just don’t understand this dog.

Maybe something will happen tomorrow and I’ll have something to write about.  🙂  Or maybe I’ll just be more focused and able to write something that isn’t boring.  I’ll try harder.  Tomorrow.