Monday, May 29, 2006

Here's a tip for ya...

This is my beautiful niece taking Joycie's order last night at dinner.

Doesn't she look adorable in her apron?
Joyce, Sammy & I, along with my sister, Kathy, the mom of said waitress, all went into have dinner at the restaurant where Michelle is working. The service was excellent, and the food was darn good, too. It was fun to watch Michelle at work. Because we asked to sit in her section, she was overloaded there for a bit. She handled it real well. She stopped by and Joyce said something to her about being busy, and Michelle said she felt hot and sweaty... wish I could look half that cool and composed when I feel hot and sweaty, because I seriously could not tell. She looked perfect.

We left her a nice, healthy tip for her first time waiting on us.

The stories that Kathy was telling us, though... that big tip probably won't make up for all the piddly ones. People, as they always are, are amazing. Not always in a good way. One story was about a younger couple with 2 kids who wanted this and that and exactly so, substitute this, bring that, run, run, run. Michelle got everything they wanted right and ran her butt off, and they were there for a while. Their total bill, when they eventually finished, was about $40. They left my niece a $2 tip. Assholes.

Because she works in a restaurant that attracts a lot of senior citizens, many of her tips are precisely 15%. If 15% is $2.69, then that's exactly what they leave for her... $2.69. Not $2.50, not $3.00... $2.69. I guess when you're older, you have all the time in the world to find those 4 pennies.

Michelle said one of the waitresses told her, when she first started working there, that sometimes people will leave their whole tip in change. A $5.00 tip all in nickels and dimes. Truly has happened. Then they have to carry that change around in their apron for the rest of their shift.

I cannot imagine doing those things. I've always known I was a good tipper, I'm a minimum 20%er. Usually more, coz I always round up. After hearing some of Michelle's stories and of some she's heard... now I know I am an excellent tipper. I like me that way. My opinion is that if you can't afford to leave a nice tip for good service, then go to McDonalds. Heck, I've even tipped the kid at McDonalds.

I've also always known the world is full of assholes. Here's hoping they don't all sit in my niece's section.

Another bumper sticker

This is one I saw the other day while waiting in line at the Walgreens drive-thru pharmacy window. The car in front of me was a red Alero or something similar, and the bumper sticker was red with white writing... it took me a little while to realize it was a bumper sticker and then to figure it out...
Dyslexic Devil Worshippers
Sell Their Souls To Santa

my mind kept reading it as Satan, and I couldn't figure out what was so funny about that... ah... then I actually read it. Cracked me up. Imagine being in the car next to me watching me stare intently with a puzzled look on my face at the back of the car in front of me and then watch me start laughing. I suppose the expression on your face would look very similar to the older guy's who was sitting in the Buick next to me when I looked over at him and caught his eye... briefly, because he quickly looked away and didn't look over at me again.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Wild... life...

Yesterday evening, about a half hour before dusk started in, we saw a young doe out in the brush just off the back yard. We watched her for quite a while. I finally got my camera out and took some photos.
I got pretty close to her before she bounded away. She didn’t go far, though, just off into the thick stuff on the edge of the creek. So I walked a little closer, and she stamped at me and snorted. The snort is kind of like a sharp blowing sound. Deer usually do that to warn other deer of danger... but I think I had simply annoyed her, and she was chewing me out. I interrupted her dinner hour. She was a pretty small doe. When Joycie and I drove out this morning, we saw a very large doe on the side of our road. She did a slow jump over the ditch, and she did not look graceful as she went. I’ve seen her a couple of times recently. Yesterday, she was right down in the ditch standing in the water, and when we approached her in the car, she clambered up the bank of the ditch. I'm sure that she is big with a fawn, and looks like it won’t be too much longer before she gives birth. Could be twins, because her belly is huge.

We had all 4 of our bedroom windows open through the night. Yesterday was a hot day, and our house was stuffy with humid heat. (Thankfully, Kev got the air going today. It’s almost too cool in here now.) Last night the frog chorus was in fine fiddle. Holy cow, were they ever loud. I was pooped & went to bed before Kev... he & Sam were watching the Pistons lose. At one point, I hollered to the frogs to SHUT UP ALREADY. All that accomplished was to make Kev laugh out loud. I went to sleep with frog song ringing in my ears.

I woke up before 6:00am to birds singing and squawking. I heard some that were particularly loud, and more of a frenzied clucking and clatter. I laid in bed and thought to myself, what kind of bird is that... Kev, who I didn’t realize was even awake, said aloud, “turkeys.” Freaked me out. For a second I thought I had asked the question out loud, but I hadn’t. So now he’s reading my mind. Nice.

It was a hazy morning, but the more the sunshine came out, the louder the birds became. I heard geese honking as they flew over our house, that's when I decided to get up and make coffee.

Joycie and I got over to my folks about 10:00am and did a couple more hours of planting garden. We’re close to being done. Kevin tilled it up for us the other day with his tractor, and he did a great job. We're enjoying the gardening together. We’re planting a much smaller garden than last year. It really got away from us last year, and would have totally been a loss except for my mom’s help. And we didn’t use all the produce, a lot of it went to waste. A smaller garden will be so much easier to handle.

As I was typing this post, Joyce was in the kitchen and said, “There’s a heron at the pond again.” We’ve been having a great blue heron visit our pond lately, and the other day, Kev saw it get a fish. Really pissed him off. We stocked our pond with so many fish, and we have lost most of them to herons. It’s very frustrating. I told her, “shhh...”, grabbed my camera and went outside and snapped this photo in a hurry as the bird flew away. I wasn’t even sure if I captured the heron well at all (didn’t have my glasses on).

When I saw the photo, I called Kev over to see it...
his comment: “SON OF A BITCH!”

Saturday, May 27, 2006

School's out for summer

Friday was our school district's last day of school. This is the first time my kids have gotten out of school before Memorial Day, and it's great. Kev was on afternoons this past week, so he took Friday off (and he also took Thursday off for the Pistons game, and he doesn't have to be back to work until next Thursday midnights... Yay!). Yesterday morning, Sammy's school had Field Day, and so Kev and I drove him to school at 8:30am, then we went & had coffee and breakfast together and got back to the school for the start of Field Day at 9:30am. Each class goes through a series of field events, and the kids love it.

It had rained Thursday evening and into the wee morning hours Friday, so it was pretty wet out. The first event for Sam's class was a race, and the water was flying with every running step. For most of the kids, that only made it more fun. For the 2 girls who fell right off the bat... not very fun. Their butts were soaked. They looked like they had fell into a pool. The boys, of course, were falling on purpose. When the kids would get down to the end of race, it was like they were water skiing when they tried to stop. It was hilarious. It rained a little more, but it cooled things off. I thought it was better than previous year's when the weather on Field Day was sweltering hot and sunny. The rain was fun, but it did make a lot of mud. The backs of all the kids shirts were totally mud splattered. Most of the boys, of course, thought that was way cool. Sammy, not so much. He wore his DARE t-shirt and was getting all his friends, teachers and others to sign it. Good thing he got most of the signatures he wanted before Field Day started.

The Field Day events last until about 11am, and then the whole school has a picnic. The school grills hotdogs and folks bring dishes for a big smorgasboard. This year, Sammy asked if we could skip the picnic and go out to lunch to a Chinese buffet in town that he loves. Sure, we wouldn't mind at all skipping the half-hour wait in line to get a cold hot dog! So we went down to his old classroom for one last trip, & got the few papers he needed out of his desk. His teacher, who is so cool, had drawn cartoons of each of the kids on his board. They were really cute and so funny. Here's Sammy with his picture... note the braces!

As we were leaving, Sammy said, "bye, classroom, bye, 5th grade." ***sniff*** It seems so strange that we're done with that elementary school now. Sam's ready for 6th grade and middle school, though. Very ready. Me, too.

So we signed Sammy out for the last time and went into town to lunch. After lunch, we met up with his buddies, and he went to see a movie. Then Sammy stayed overnight at a friend's house. He had a super good last day of school. Great way to end his elementary school years.

I loves me a good storm

Joycie & 2 of her girlfriends, Allison & Kara, and my sister, JoAnne, & I all went to the Gaelic Storm concert at the old State Theatre in Bay City this past Thursday evening. I cannot explain well enough just how much fun that was... Gaelic Storm is 5 extremely talented people. We enjoy Irish folk music, but Gaelic Storm is so much more than that. If you ever have an opportunity to see them live, oh man, do it. If not, buy one of their CD's.

We all, like so many people, love their "Johnny Tarr" song... the girls made t-shirts (with some help from me).

On the back of their t-shirts is a large shamrock outline, with plenty of white... After the concert, all 3 girls got each member of the band to sign their shirts (on back shoulders). The band liked their shirts... one guy said, in his Irish accent, to the other guy, "did ya see these shirts?" And the other guy said, "yeah, they're fuckin' awesome." Cool!

They allowed cameras, and I took a ton of photos... since I still don't know how to use my Sony (and Kev & Sam had my Olympus), most of the photos didn't turn out that great. I got this one that shows all 5 band members.

Joycie and I will definitely be looking for the next time Gaelic Storm is playing anywhere near us. They have a new CD coming out in July, and Joycie has already wrote down the date so she can buy it. Definitely Big Fans of Gaelic Storm.

Sammy & Kev had my Olympus camera because they took it with them to the Pistons game at the Palace that night. On Wednesday afternoon, a woman I work with made a passing comment, when I just happened to be nearby, that if anyone wanted tickets to the Thursday Pistons game, her husband knows a guy selling 4 of them for a hundred bucks each. I yelled out, "I'll take 'em!" I think I startled her. But I wanted them! Well, I really only wanted 2 tickets, but we had to buy all 4. Thankfully, Sam's friend, Brett, and his dad, Craig, bought the other 2 tickets & went with them. The seats were pretty good, and a hundred dollars a seat was actually a good deal. I think the regular price would have been over $150 each. The guy we bought the tickets from is a season ticket holder, so he got a better deal on the tickets. Someone had backed out, so he let us buy the 4 tickets. Awesome. When I told Sammy he was going to the Pistons game, well... you can imagine the excitement. Kev has been talking about taking him to a Pistons game all this year, and they finally get to go... and it's a play-off game. Way too cool.

All 4 of the boys bought new Pistons jerseys. Sammy & Kev, of course, got the big number 3, coz Sam is a huge fan of Ben!

It was really crowded at the Palace. Their tickets were in the 2nd tier, row 4... it looked pretty far up, but Kev said they could everything and it was great.

And the best part was the Pistons won.

Thursday night was one helluva a good night.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wonderful wonders

I am so happy with my new digital camera! Kev, Joycie, Sammy & I all went into BestBuy on Sunday, and I ended up with a Sony Cyber-shot at a real nice price. The gift card from Kathy, Bob, Michelle & Michael for my birthday also helped. And I had five bucks from my BestBuy rewards... whoo hoo. I'm still learning all the in's and out's, but so far, so good. Nice, clear close-ups. Still have to try and action shot, but I'm sure it'll do well. I was very comfortable using my Olympus, but have been long frustrated with how it performs on action shots and close-ups. This is the first photo I took with my wonderful Mother's Day gift:

Our other wonderful news is that Joycie's violin arrived in the mail yesterday. She is beyond thrilled. It is not the Andrea violin outfit she had ordered, because they were out of stock on it. I talked with a guy at and he was so very nice. Turns out they had just acquired a number of used violins from the estate of a man who had collected violins for many years of his life. The guy (whose name I wish I could remember) suggested a 20-year-old Karl Meisel violin, and they gave us an excellent deal on it, including a new bow and case. Joycie was initially very disappointed about the Andrea, but once she played the Meisel, particularly after her violin teacher helped her tune it perfectly and told her what a wonderful instrument it was... well, she fell in love with it! It is a beautiful violin. And it sounds so beautiful, so full, so... Oh, I just can't explain it. I thought her playing on the rental she's been using was amazing. But now... after hearing her on this Meisel, I'm blown away.

After Joycie got home from her lesson, around 9:30pm last night, she played for Sam & I. We called Kevin at work and put the phone on speaker. Joycie played for all of us. I swear, I just cannot believe how beautifully she plays after only 2 months of lessons. She played an Irish song, Swallowtail Jig, and then Amazing Grace. Her playing made me cry. Seriously, water came out of my eyes, I tell ya. I was in awe. What a girl. She's been playing as I've been writing this post. I love this!

It was a beautiful day today. Wonderfully warm and breezy. Hot, really. And now the sky is clouding up and it's fixin' to rain... again. Our pond is full and slightly overflowing. We like it that way... it's... wonderful!

And last, but not least...
This is Sammy (watching his sister play last night) with his new ball from Wal-Mart. It's a cool ball... it's silver and it's translucent at the right angle. Weirdly captivating. Note Reilly's tongue... he was tired from trying to pop it already!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Falling apples & other old sayings

Our friends, John & Canice, who visited us last night have 4 children, ages 12, 10, 6 & 5. Two girls (oldest), then two boys. Molly, Mikayla, Jack and Noah, respectively. Noah was born while they lived in Hong Kong; they moved back to our area last year. We're glad they're back.

This morning, while getting his plate ready to put in the microwave, Kevin said, "those 4 kids are just about the best kids ever - they are all so well behaved and so nice to be around." You would think with 4 kids that close in age, that they would bicker a lot... I know when I was kid, the 5 of us sure did. And I'm sure they must have some of that at home, but last night at our house, they were all 4 just wonderful. So sweet and fun. They're all adorable, too. John and Canice sure made some beautiful babies, and are raising some great people. Big time kudos to John and Canice! But then, those 4 apples are falling real close to the tree... so kudos to John's parents and Canice's parents, too.

Last night, while the kids were playing with Sammy's most recent ball purchase and Reilly, which Reilly just loves to do, Reilly popped the ball. Mikayla seemed upset about it, and it was so cute... but it was totally Reilly, coz that dog has ball-popping down to an art form. The balls are cheap, and we've gone through several over the last few years with Reilly. We have had a lot of kids over at our house through the years, and ended up with things destroyed. Some where the kid who did the destroying never said anything about it... just left it for us to find. (Like the thumb piano we had bought for Sammy at the gift shop of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC... one of Sammy's friends totally wrecked it but never said a word, and it cost over $60. Boo hiss.) And there's Mikayla so upset about a plastic ball that cost about a buck & is so easily replaced. Such a sweetie. Great kids. They have a great dog, too... a Labordoodle named Abe. I had gotten my camera out to take photos last night and totally forgot to... darn that pinot grigio.


Yesterday morning after I dropped Sammy off at my folks (he gets on the school bus there), I remembered I had wanted to tell him something... so I called on my cell. Dad answered, and I asked him if Sammy was nearby. "Nope," he said, "he went out to poop and the pigs ate him."

Cracked me up.


My mom often used the old saying, "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride" while I was growing up. Kev read in the paper this morning that there is going to be a wild horses and wild burros auction coming to town. So would your wishes have to be wild wishes??? Hmmmm....

Swedish Meatballs

A Christmas dinner tradition in our family is Swedish Meatballs. I'm not sure what makes them "Swedish," but they're sooooo good. I think we got the recipe from an aunt, way back when I was a kid.

This past Christmas, my sister, Kathy, and her husband, Bob, had our family's Christmas dinner at their house. I brought the Swedish Meatballs. The recipe calls for ground ham and ground pork together, and since many meat markets won't grind both(some state regulations about not using the grinder for cured and for raw meat...), Kev and I used our meat grinder and did all the grinding. It was a LOT of work, primarily because we ground up way more meat than we needed. I made enough meatballs at Christmas for dinner and plenty of leftovers. Leftover Swedish Meatballs are an absolute MUST. Because after eating them, you wake up the next morning wanting them for breakfast. They're that good.

We had friends visit us last night, and I made Swedish Meatballs for dinner from the ham and pork we had leftover in the freezer from Christmas. (And once someone in my family reads this, they're gonna want some meatballs.) I had only enough dark brown sugar for half the meat, so today, we're picking up more sugar so I can finish up the ham & pork and make more meatballs! This is Kev's plate for breakfast... meatballs and leftover potato casserole. Mmmmm....

My recipe card for Swedish Meatballs is old and yellowed with stains all over it. I typed it up on an old manual typewriter my folks had when I was a kid. When I was in my early teens, I started making my own recipe box up with all the recipes my family loves... so this recipe card is about 30 years old.

1 lb ham, 1.5 lbs pork, ground together
2 eggs, beaten, add to meat, plus 1 cup milk
Mix in 1/2 box cornflakes, crushed
Mix all ingredients well, form into balls of desired size.
Put in baking pan.
Cover with sauce of:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Bake in 325 to 350 degree F. oven,
for about 1.5 hours or so, and
baste frequently with sauce.

Truthfully, I don't follow the recipe exactly, and I think I use the same amount of ham and pork, and cornflakes come in all different sizes of boxes... so I just wing it. Also, we don't just crush the cornflakes, we zap them through the grinder because it's way faster & easier. I always double up on the amount of sauce because that's the good part.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I didn't go into the office today because I've been feeling sick since Sunday night. I've been logged into our company network and working since about 7am, though. I took a break about 20 minutes ago, so I could walk out to our mailbox & leave some mail for the mailman to pick up today. Of course I took my camera with me... and Reilly, too.

He was very happy with the short excursion. It is a beautiful day out, and the breeze and little bit of sunshine felt good on my aching head. The birdsong is constant. I've been trying to identify the birds by the songs I hear, using my new "Birdsong IdentiFlyer" that Kev & the kiddos gave me for my birthday. I didn't realize how pretty the brown-headed cowbird's song is... I got this photo of one flying over the pond on my way back to the house.

I have always disliked cowbirds because they lay their eggs in other birds' nests, often resulting in that bird's eggs not hatching or the juvenile birds not living because the juvenile cowbird hogs all the food. But cowbirds can't help it, that's just what cowbirds do. I think they are a pretty bird, with their stout black beak, brown head and shiny black body... and they have a pretty song. Cowbirds, back on the dancecard for me.

We also have a lot of chipping sparrows, but they are so shy and quick, I can rarely get a good photo of them. I've tried often... this photo turned out ok. I love their tail feathers.

Before I went into the house, I headed over to check out my rock garden & herb garden (while Reilly went to say hey to Barney & Betty). My iris is blooming.

The spurge and ajuga in my rock garden are blooming profusely right now. The bumble bees love the purple flowers of the ajuga. Joycie has had to write some poetry for her publications class, and she showed me one of her poems this morning. Without her permission, I'm including it. Coz I love it.


Bumble, bumble, bumble bee
Going from flower to flower to tree
Working every day gathering food
Seeing them buzz puts me in a good mood

Bumble, bumble, bumble bee
They're everywhere, can't you see?
Living in a hive, making honey
Going outside only when it's sunny

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Love me, love my dust...

I had talked with a friend of mine a couple of times about helping her get her computer running more smoothly. Just some normal maintenance stuff, to see if it would quit freezing up on her. Last Friday afternoon at the DARE graduation, I suggested that Sammy & I stop by on our way home and I could work on it then. My friend, Gwen, said they didn't have plans that evening & her husband wouldn't be at home, Kevin was heading into work, and Joycie had plans with her friends, so it was an ideal opportunity.

Any of our friends who drop in on us without warning or who make last-minute plans to come over know they'll have to take things as they are... which means usually dust and clutter. It's a combination of busy lives and a reluctance for housework.

When Sammy & I got to Gwen's, her house was all clean and pretty and candles lit and smelling so nice... I could tell she had straightened up for us, and we joked about it. Her oldest son, Cody, is Sammy's friend, and he's been to our house often enough... Gwen said Cody told her they had to straighten up because our house was always super clean, I think she even used the word pristine or something like it. WHAT?!! Ever since, I think about Cody saying that and I chuckle to myself.

For example, as I typed that sentence, a dog hair just floated by in front of my face. (Well, ok, I was just petting Reilly, but still...)

Pristine or use of the word "super" in front of "clean" is so very not how I would describe our house. Livably clean. Normally pretty ok. For one thing, we are still using the wood burner, and our house gets very dusty. Since daily dusting ain't my nature, this is how my printer usually looks:

OK, I added the graffiti for effect. But it reinforces my oft quoted recommendation, "love me, love my dust."

Just now looking at that photo, I noticed something you might think strange... the sparkly Sponge Bob 5 of Clubs sticker... or... the claw...

What the heck is that???

It's Junior.

Kev shot him in Canada, had him stuffed there, and he's the perfect dining room decoration, no? (Junior is also dusty, except his nose, coz I like to pet it.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

My Day

Since Kev had to work the weekend, Joycie, Sammy & I went out to dinner yesterday without him. We went to a nearby town to this small restaurant that serves authentic Mexican food. Well, as authentic as you're gonna get in these parts...

It's great food, and we had a fun time. We got the waiter to take our picture.

I had tried taking Joycie's picture, but she wasn't being very cooperative.

Sammy & I enjoyed their authentic Mexican beverages...
This is Sammy with pineapple pop from Mexico...

and my luscious beverage...

And we enjoyed their authentic, "homemade" flan...

It's a real small place, and very homey. There weren't that many other diners in there, and no one minded that we were taking photos throughout our dinner. They didn't seem to mind all the noise we were making, either... we were laughing a lot.

There are always a lot of cheesy decorations in there, the kind of stuff you would find for sale to tourists on border towns, like blankets, paintings, cheap pottery, sun faces, that kind of stuff. Lots of beer advertising decorations. They still have the Corona "countdown to New Year's" thing up... though it's not counting down. Their TV is always set to a Spanish station, though the volume is usually too low to hear (not that I understand Spanish anyway). Sometimes whatever is on the TV is freaky weird. Sammy likes that. Sometimes it's Spanish music videos, which Sammy really likes. Joycie thinks they have the best soft tacos anywhere, and that's what she always orders. I guess we all pretty much order the same thing. Mostly, we fill up on their chips and salsa, both of which they make right there... the chips are usually warm still & the salsa is premo. Mmmm... We took to-go boxes home for Kev, along with his very own flan. He took it all in today for his lunch.

Yesterday, all 3 of us were in pretty good moods. Dinner was fun. Missed Kev, though. Anyway, we're doing our official family celebration of Mother's Day sometime this week, including shopping for my new camera.

We had planned to stop by to see my Momma on our way home from town, but Joycie didn't feel well, so we had to go straight home... so we'll celebrate Mother's Day with Mom this week sometime, too... it's the Extended Version of Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The story of my desk chair

Last year, when Nathan built my computer for me, I bought myself a new computer desk and chair. Nathan did such an excellent job on my computer, and I love it. Love it, love it. I found just the desk I wanted on sale at OfficeMax. I also found what I thought was the perfect chair.

I placed my computer desk at the end of our dining room, in front of the south-facing windows. Our dining room is part of a "great room" floor plan, and it's a rather long and narrow area. Having the computer where it sits is convenient and pleasant, I can work on the computer and am not separated from the rest of the family. I can work on the computer and talk to Kev while he's making coffee in the kitchen, that kind of thing.

I liked the chair on first sight because it was a two-tone gray and black, and I didn't want a solid black chair. I also didn't want a cloth chair, because they attract and hold dog hair so readily. I bought one of those plastic floor things for the chair to roll on, but I found it was in the way in our dining room, and I just plain didn't like it. It was clear plastic, but it was ugly. Too office-y. Rolling the chair on the carpeting wasn't very easy, but since once I'm in the chair, I don't roll around the room on it, I thought it'd be ok. I hadn't figured on Sammy. Within a couple of months, 4 of the 5 wheels were broken. The wheels were ok, just the plastic housing holding them in was broken. So the computer chair sat to the side for a bit, then eventually was moved into our bedroom... because that's one of the 2 places where the kids put stuff they don't know what to do with... (the other place being my craft room downstairs).

After sitting in our bedroom for a few months, Kev indicated it was time to do something about it. I think he said something like, "will you please get this damn chair out of here, just throw the damn thing away, will ya." My response, as it had been for months, was, "I'm going to fix it."

And one day, I did. I think it was late February or early March. Sam and Kev had went somewhere for the day, and I spent all day fixing this chair. I started with an old chair I had gotten free from the company where I work. It was one they were tossing. The 5-star base is metal (chromed) with heavy-duty wheels. That chair base alone weighed about 10 times what my new, pretty plastic chair weighed. With much effort, & many trips to the pole barn and back for tools and supplies, I finally removed the chair base from the ugly, stained, one-armed chair it had been on. I removed the cheap plastic base from my new chair. I then attached the older, heavy-duty base, again with much effort, and trial and error, to the bottom of my new chair. It looked beautiful.

Then I sat it in. And nearly fell back on my head to the cement floor of our garage. Thankfully, the freezer stopped my descent. Albeit, painfully, but I reasoned less pain than had the freezer not been there. I realized the unit to check the tilt of the chair was not in place, once I removed the base from the original chair top it had been on.

What to do... what to do.... Again, with much effort, and a great deal of trial and error this time, I finally settled on a solution. I cut a piece of wood to fit into the tilty-back-mechanism spot (well, I cut several pieces of wood before I got one to fit correctly), and I screwed the wood piece to the bottom of my new chair. Presto! No more tilt. A little bit of rocking, but that's ok. The chair is very comfortable. I was so proud of myself! And with those bigger, heavy-duty wheels, rolling it on the carpeting is pretty easy. And heavy-duty enough to be Sammy-proof.

So happy with myself and my new chair. Spent a lot of time, long stretches of time sitting in it. I mentioned that it's not cloth, it's vinyl. Sit in a vinyl chair for a couple of hours in a warm house, and you know what? Your ass sweats.

I took to grabbing a cotton throw out of the cedar box in the living room and throwing it over the chair so it would be more comfortable. But then the edges of the throw would occasionally get caught up in the wheels. And it looked like crap thrown on the chair in the dining room all the time.

One day recently while walking through Wal-Mart, we went by the automotive section. That's when I saw it. The Solution. I bought myself one of those cheesy wooden beaded car seat covers that old people tend to prefer. Beautiful, yet quite functional! And very comfortable. And best of all, no more sweaty butt cheeks. Yay!

And what I still can't stop thinking about...

I've mentioned the busy state highway we travel on daily. It runs between 2 towns, with 2 lanes heading east and 2 lanes heading west with a turn lane in the middle. Speed limit is 55mph. Lots of houses and businesses line it on both sides. Locally, it has a nickname like death alley or something. Though, all roads can be death alleys with the idiots out there.

Kev's days off where Thursday and Friday this past week, but he took an afternoon shift on Friday to cover for someone who wanted Friday night off. He didn't want to work it, but it's give and take there... sometime when he wants to take time off, someone else has to give up their free time and work Kev's shift. So he worked 3:30pm to 11:30pm, which would get him home at midnight (and then back into work by 7:30am the next morning to start his weekend day-12's).

Joyce had went out to a late movie with some girlfriends, and she got home a little bit before midnight. She had called me on her way home, and then she called and talked to her dad, who was in his truck and driving home.

Kev didn't show up at midnight, and finally called me close to 12:30am. He hit a guy with his truck. A person, a drunk person, walking in the middle of the 2 lanes heading west. It was a rainy night, overcast, no moonlight or starlight, and the guy was wearing all dark clothing, including a black or dark gray hoodie, with the hood up. Walking in the middle of the 2 lanes with his back to Kev. Somehow, Kev did not hit him full on, but clipped the guy's right elbow (from behind) with his driver's side mirror. Un-fucking-believable. (hey, this situation calls for the use of the F word)

Of course, Kev didn't know it was only the guy's elbow at first. Hours and hours later, Kev is still sick about it. He thought he had killed the guy.

Kev pulled off the road, expecting to have to protect some body in the middle of the road from oncoming traffic. Instead, the guy pops out from around the back of the pickup, saying something about hitchhiking for so long and Kev being the first one to stop for him. Scared the crap outta Kev. Kev told him, dude, I didn't stop to give you a ride, I stopped because I hit you with my truck. Holy crap. Amazingly, the guy didn't appear injured. He told Kev something like, yeah, you clipped my elbow... "don't hurt much though."

Kev called 9-1-1, then kept talking to the guy to try and calm him down (and keep him there). The guy told 3 different stories to Kev... 1) he said he was crossing the road, 2) he said he was off on the side of the road lighting a cigarette and couldn't believe Kev drove off the road to hit him, and 3) he said he was hitchhiking on the edge of the road. OMG.

The sheriff deputies finally showed up. One talked with Kev and got the story, and when Kev told him he couldn't believe that he hadn't killed the guy and couldn't believe the guy's elbow wasn't busted up... the deputy told Kev that the guy was so drunk he wasn't feeling anything.

They put handcuffs on the drunk and took him away, and then they let Kev continue on home.

I have one seriously tired husband. It was an awful experience for him, mostly, I'm sure, because he keeps reliving those seconds when he hit the guy and thought he had killed him.

Me, I'm pissed. I'm planning to take the drunk to small claims court to recoup what we'll have to spend to replace the mirror unit on our truck. I'd love to slap him, too.

The deputy got real close to Kev's face, shined his flashlight in Kev's eyes and wanted to know what Kev was doing out on the road after midnight. Kev explained he was coming home from work, and there on the passenger seat of Kev's truck sat his lunchbox, safety glasses, 2 gallons of milk & bread he bought on the way home... but can you imagine all the "what ifs"... Like what if it was just some neighborhood couple, coming home on a Friday night from their friends' where they had a couple of beers and played cards, heading home to let the babysitter go on home. Not drunk, but just those couple of beers would be enough to cause them a huge hassle by hitting some dumbass, piece of crap, deadbeat stupid drunk.

But mostly, what if Kev had gotten a couple of seconds to see that drunk and react... what if he had swerved and rolled the truck and died, or been crippled... That's what I can stop thinking about.

On this highway, there is one spot, not too far from a rather dumpy trailer park, where there are 2 bars, not directly across the road from each other, but real close. Dive bars. Drunks crossing the highway there has long been a problem. Stopped getting served at one bar, hey, wander across the road to the other one and see how much more drunk you can get.

One night, quite a few years ago, a woman from our neighborhood hit one of those drunks, and it killed him. It was an awful situation for her. I suppose for the drunk, too, and maybe his family. But I do not care about him. That woman is from a family I've known all my life, and she graduated with one of my sister's. She's a good person from a good family, and what she and her family went through because some stupid drunk decided to walk in front of her car was terrible.

Maybe that's heartless of me, maybe that drunk had horrid problems in his life, problems he couldn't cope with... maybe he was abused as a kid and never learned how to cope... whatever. That guy didn't have one bad night of drinking; he was a drunk and a regular at both of those dive bars. I have very little sympathy for drunks like that.

When I was about 7 years old, a drunk driver - a chronic drunk driver who had caused car accidents before due to his drinking - going about 80mph on the very same highway, slammed into the back of my uncle's car, killing 2 of my cousins that were in the back seat. Joey was 10 and Randy was 9.

Our violinist (aka fiddler)

Yesterday late afternoon and through evening until Kev got home from work, Joycie played her guitar and then her violin up in her bedroom. I was working on my computer and hers, doing some maintenance and clean up. Sammy was gone with a friend, so it was just Joycie & I at home.

While I was working on my computer, here in our dining room, Joycie came downstairs with her violin, set herself up in the living room and played for me. I cannot believe how beautifully she is playing after only 2 month's worth of lessons. I love listening to her play. If she is this good after 2 months, I cannot wait until this time next year.

She's currently using a rental violin from her teacher, and she's been anxious to get her own violin. After her first lesson, Joycie did quite a bit of research on the 'net on purchasing a violin. She found about 5 on line that she was interested in, printed off the details and showed her teacher. There was one she was more interested in than the others, and he said it looked to him to be a very good choice and a good deal. Joycie and I looked at all her selections, found a few more, did some reading... and I told her I had trouble spending that much money on an instrument that we couldn't see or touch first.

We decided to shop, but locally there is no selection. We decided to spend a day and travel to the larger cities to see what the big music stores had to offer. But I know my girl, and she had her heart set on that one particular violin she found online.

The site has a good reputation and offers a no-questions-asked money-back refund within 30 days of purchase. Also, no shipping or handling fees. It's a violin outfit, which means it includes not only the instrument itself, but also the bow and case.

Driving home from her NHS induction ceremony the other night, we were talking about the shopping expedition... and the violin outfit she truly wants. I decided it was nuts to spend all that time (and money) traveling the state shopping when this is what she wants. So we ordered it. Joycie is so anxious for it to arrive. Me, too. I can't wait to hear her play it.

I can wait for the Visa bill, however...

Reilly knows...

Kev is working day-12's this weekend (7:30am-7:30pm). Yesterday I made venison meatloaf and scalloped potatoes for dinner, ready when he got home at 8pm. The house smelled soooooo good last night. When my poor tired out Kev got home from work last night, I asked him if he was hungry... he said even if he wasn't, he would be now. Yum. Reilly agreed... the nose knows...

But this morning, last night's dinner smell was still lingering, and um... not so good in the morning. Currently have 4 candles burning and 3 windows open (and it's cold and rainy out).

And there is an Eastern Phoebe that keeps landing on the branches of the smoke bush right next to the dining room window in front of me, & he (or she) is singing in the rain. This has nothing to do with dinner smells, but it's pretty neat.


D, I won't do drugs
A, I won't have an attitude
R, I will respect myself
E, I will educate me... now

At our school system, all 5th grade students go through the DARE program. One of the Sheriff deputies comes into the classrooms and teaches the program to the kids. At the conclusion of the program, our elementary school then has a DARE graduation ceremony. All the kids seem to really enjoy the program & get excited about the graduation. Sammy's was on Friday afternoon.

At the graduation ceremony, the kids all sang the "DARE song", which I've been hearing Sammy sing for weeks now. They did a good job. Then 2 of the 5th grade students read their essays about the DARE program (all the kids write one, and the 2 5th grade teachers choose one student from their class to read theirs aloud at the ceremony). We then had guest speakers, which included Deputy Dan (the officer that taught the program at our school... the kids just love Deputy Dan, he is awesome), our county sheriff and one of our local judges. The judge came in his black robe, and he spoke for quite a while. He had some great stories for the kids. His message was excellent for our school's 5th grade class. He told how growing up (in this area), his family had no money. His dad had no education and couldn't read, and he was a janitor. The judge told how for his high school prom, he took his date to McDonald's for dinner and all he could afford was 1 burger and 2 milkshakes. Kids today have trouble understanding that level of no money, but I think our school's kids come closer to it than many in our area. We have a lot of poor families.

The judge talked about how he decided to be a lawyer, then a judge. It was a great story. Really great because he was telling the kids how you can come from a poor family, but you can accomplish your goals with hard work and dedication. He did get a little long-winded, and towards the end, the kids were getting antsy. But it was a very good speech, and it was nice that he took his time out of a Friday afternoon to talk at our DARE graduation. Pretty special.

The ceremony was wrapped up with a movie, another tradition, made up of photos of all the kids from various things they've done this school year. Our school's computer tech person creates it, and she does a super job on it. The kids help, too. It was so cool.

This is Sammy with Deputy Dan and his teacher, after the graduation (cake and punch time in the lobby area):

Tradition at our school is for the kids to have people sign the backs of their DARE t-shirts. Sammy decided not to do that after the ceremony because everyone was eating cake and it was a zoo... he had Deputy Dan sign and later, the sheriff, which was really cool. He's wearing his shirt on Monday and taking permanent markers in to have his teachers and friends sign then. He won't be the only one... it'll be shirt signing from now until the end of school... too fun!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Joycie has become a member of the National Honor Society, and the induction ceremony was this past week.

Joycie looks so solemn. The ceremony was nice... all the new inductees were called one at a time, handed a certificate and a lit candle. They then proceeded to the 3 rows of chairs on the stage set up for them. I admit I had a moment of fear due to the open flame... but all was fine. It was a pretty site. I took so many photos, but most of them turned out like this:

(I'm fed up with my old camera... I am totally getting a new one for my mother's day gift.)

We're proud of our family's NHS member... what a girl!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Like father, like...

This week especially I've noticed that Joyce is more like her dad, and Sammy is more like me. Though, they both show characteristics of both Kev and I, it's impossible not to notice that Joycie is more like Kev in several ways, while Sammy is more like me. That is... as far as being like one parent or the other... because they each certainly have more of their very own characteristics.

I suppose it is natural to try to compare the humans that came from us, as parents, to ourselves. It starts at delivery... most everyone will see your newborn baby and provide an opinion on who the little bundle of joy looks like. Then as your child grows, they will take on characteristics of their parents and other family members. For example, when Sammy was a toddler, I would see him stand just like his daddy stands sometimes. Exactly the same way. I have seen Joycie give me a look that so strongly resembles her Gramma, that I'm floored by it.

Joyce looks more like her dad.

There is some of me in her... she has my eyebrows & nose. But overall, she does look more like Kev than like me. And she has many similar personality traits like her dad. She has a very strong work ethic. She likes things her way. She has a more reserved way about her, especially around strangers. Once she knows you, she'll talk, sure... and though she can converse well with people she doesn't know, I don't think she finds it super easy. She is particular about her purchases, and will spend money on things she wants or feels are worthwhile, but she's not all that freely generous, particularly when it comes to money. She is more of a saver than a spender, at times. Not when it comes to sales at Kohl's or Old Navy, though. She is happy doing the things she likes to do alone, often. If she makes up her mind to do something, very little will change it. All of these traits and styles are so very similar to Kev. Also, though Sammy and I both enjoy music, a great deal in fact, Kevin and Joycie seem to have a deeper connection to music than Sam & I do. Kevin doesn't play any instrument; Joycie plays guitar, saxophone and is now taking violin lessons... but they both strongly seem to need music daily.

Now, Sammy... he looks more like me.

Not a very flattering picture of either one of us, but since I am usually the one taking photos, I find there aren't that many of me to choose from. Thankfully, Sammy is going to be tall (like Kev). He and I have the same round face... granted mine is rounder now in my advancing age... when I was young, though, I was thin. But my face has always been round. Sammy's tremendously long eyelashes, though, are all his own.

In some ways, he looks and acts like his daddy. But generally, he seems to have a few more of my characteristics. He can be quite the procrastinator, even tending toward lazy. He dislikes housework and will go out of his way to avoid it. He likes school work, and he likes to do well on it (as long as it doesn't totally interfere with fun). He's very competitive. He is also creative, and he likes to make things. He likes to write, to compose... stories, poems, journals. He's a talker, and can talk to just about anyone... kids his own age or old folks, doesn't matter. He's gregarious (which is more like me in my younger days, I find my desire to socialize lessening as I grow older). He is a major pack-rat. He is a natural leader, though comfortable in the role of follower. He is good at puzzles, all kinds. These are all things like me.

We have a big influence on our children, from providing their DNA to their idea of fun. And their idea of right and wrong. The past month has really hit me how easy it is to show your kids the wrong way to go about something, without really even thinking about it, thinking about the implications. Both my kids have heard me lie to people on the phone, like saying to the telemarketer that I'm just on my way out the door. Telling Kevin later, in front of the kids, something like, "could you believe she got that hair cut?" Then Sammy saying, but Mom, you told her it looked great on her. Telling someone how much I would love to help with the book fair, then bitching about it later... all in front of my young child. Imagine how confusing that is. I've always told my kids how important it is to me for them NOT to lie to me. Yet, I bet the lies they've heard come out of my mouth are probably too numerous to count. Somehow, Joycie got through those years and is savvy. That's another Kevin trait, he's savvy about some things like that, while I can be oblivious to social subtleties. I think I've confused my 11-year-old son, though. Explaining when a lie is right and when a lie is wrong is a hard thing to do.

I've settled on 2 main points, a) don't lie to make yourself look better, and b) don't lie to me (or your dad). And if you can only remember 1 point, remember not to lie to me.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Who has the power

We have overhead power lines. Every few years, the power company contracts out clearing of the trees and brush under the lines. Usually, this is a good thing. Homeowners out here don't want a tree cutting off their power anymore than the power company does.

One year, though, whoever did the clearing for the power company did an awful job. I never saw them or their equipment, but it was some kind of gigantic brush cutter. It cleared everything under the wires, but it left a terrible mess. Chewed up stumps of small & medium-sized trees and left gnarly brush everywhere. It was ugly.

This year, the outfit doing the clearing seems to be doing a great job. First they went through and marked every tree that needed trimming with a big blue dot & the trees to be cut with a blue X. They cut & trim the trees with a chainsaw and chip the stuff & haul it away. Very clean and thorough. They have big green trucks.

A big green truck showed up at our place Friday afternoon. One of the trucks has a bucket on a long arm that a guy stands in and trims the high branches. He is a very long way up in the air. Kinda made we wanna pee my pants just watching him...

Because I got home early on Friday, I arrived when they were still right at the front of our power line. From there, they would follow the line that runs about a half mile through the woods. They had their big truck at the beginning of one of our trails, so I drove my car around the pond and up the back way on that trail.

I did this because I wanted to see what they had marked and talk to them. One of our big oaks that sits near our small pond had received a big blue dot. Kev had painted over it in black because we don't want them to touch that old oak. That oak has been there forever, and there is no way it would ever interfere with the power line. We were amazed it had received a blue dot.

So I drove up and parked and went over to talk to the guys. There were 3 of them, and they were super nice. They agreed the oak didn't need a trim and said they wouldn't touch it.

Since Kev has been working on that trail, hauling sand in on it to build it up, the trail was really soft. I had completely forgot that, and my car was stuck in the soft sand. I felt like a dunce. And my car was blocking the trail. And Kev was (hopefully) sleeping, since he's on midnights, so I didn't want to wake him up. I asked the guys how soon they were planning to move their truck forward. They said in about 20 minutes. I said, um, well, here's the thing... my car is in the way and it's stuck in the sand.

Yep, they laughed. I could just hear them all thinking "woman driver." But I had to act all pretty and shit and ask them sweetly to please push me out. They were good guys, and so they did. Whew.

Kev had just been going to bed when the truck arrived shortly after noon. The bedroom windows were open, so he heard the trucks come in. The guys parked and the looked the situation over. Kev could hear them talking. They were saying stuff like, "man, look at this place" and "hey, look there, he's got one of those wood burners" and "look at the size of his pond" and "look at all the wood he's got stacked up out here" and "he's got a big pole barn". Really looked the place over good. Then they started talking about where to start their work and planning it out. Kev told me about it later, and he seemed pretty pleased with himself. As he should, yes... but what's all this "he" & "his" stuff??? that's what I want to know. Last I knew, my name's on the deed, too. Men.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sure, I'll take more time...

Yesterday, I ended up leaving work early... at about 2:30pm. I tried to stick it out, but it was either leave early or go to jail for assault. I've mentioned one of my pod-mates before, more than once... how he can be so annoying. At the same time, he is a helluva worker, super-duper smart on the computer. He's the go-to guy for system queries. So, though I admire him a great deal for his work ethic and skills, I was ready to give him a good smack yesterday.

He had some phone conversations a few times in the morning that sounded quite intense. (You cannot have any secret conversations in pod dwelling; it is impossible.) As the first phone conversation progressed, so did his agitation. He will frequently play with pens or other items that make noise. Over and over and over and over and over. The phone conversation really got him going. All morning it was click, click, click with a pen, or flap-smack, flap-smack, flap-smack with papers, or ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump with a water bottle... ALL MORNING. At one point, I don’t know how the person he was talking with on the phone could hear him because he was smacking papers repeatedly & so loudly.

I hadn't plan to leave for lunch, but I did just to get away from him. I've been working on something difficult, and he was making it impossible for me to concentrate.

Usually, I can ignore his regular continuous noise-making, but it was worse yesterday morning... I'm sure it must have been his phone conversations that upset him. He doesn't have an overly loud voice, but yesterday it was loud. It also didn’t help that he and I were the only ones in our pod not off on a vacation day.

I got back to the office with my lunch and ate it at my desk. I didn’t notice if he was there or not… but the phone calls and the noise-making started up again shortly afterwards. I tried and tried… so instead of losing it and screaming at him, I just packed up all my work and left.

My first stop was at a nearby money machine in a shopping plaza on the way home. There was a yellow and black jeep already at the machine, with a cute, young chicky driving it. She took quite a while. After she finally left, I drove up. The machine was beeping at me… beep, beep, beep (reminded me of someone….). The panel was asking, “Do you need more time?” Did I mention the girl was blonde? Anyway, after pressing the “no” button, out shot her card. I looked ahead and saw her turning the corner through the shopping plaza. With a sigh, I put the old LeSabre into drive and hurried after her. I blew my horn, but I don’t think I got her attention. I did get some dirty looks from shoppers who clearly felt I was driving too fast in front of K-Mart (I was, but not crazily so). Blowing my horn repeatedly, I finally caught up with her, got her attention and waved her card out my window at her. She pulled over and I pulled up next to her, putting my passenger window down. I held her card out and said, “you forgot something.”

In truth, that was kind of fun. She was happy & said thank you nicely, and it improved my mood a great deal.

Leaving the office worked out for me, too, because I got a helluva lot of work done at home later in the afternoon and early evening. Kev was sleeping because he had to go into work last night; midnights shift started.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lost has lost me...

Here I am posting during Lost. But for some reason tonight, I just can't get into it. Too much time between new episodes... think I'll just wait for the DVD to show up at Family Video. Or just forget all about it.

Been a very long day... working on something at work that's been cutting into my home time. It's frustrating and just plain hard to do. Brain strain. Headacheville. Mental fatigue is the pits.

But my Sammy came home today, and that's very good. His 5th grade class did a 3-day, 2-night trip to a place called the Hartley Outdoor Education Center. The kids all took their sleeping bags and dufflebags in with them Monday morning and got back to the school around noon today. Sammy had a blast.

Kev & I drove all the way there to have dinner with him (and all the kids) Monday evening. Parents were invited either Monday or Tuesday evening (and Joycie had a soccer game last night). Sammy was happy to see us there, but he was also very interested in having fun with his pals. No worries leaving him there, that's for sure. We missed him way more than he missed us! That's a good thing.

Joycie went to Hartley when she was in 5th grade, too... but she didn't really enjoy it. She's our little homebody, just like her mama. Sammy has always been able to handle overnights anywhere, as long as it meant having fun. Fun is pretty high on that boy's priority list. Nothing wrong with that. Joycie likes to have fun, too... just she and Sammy often have different ideas of just what fun is.

At Hartley, they did a lot of outdoor stuff, survival stuff, wildlife study, historical stuff. Sammy said they assembled a small log cabin, built their own shelter outside, made fire, dug for fossils, went to a coal mining museum, did obstacle courses, learned about pioneers, made their own candles, all kinds of stuff. They also made these things called funnel cakes. They mixed up the batter, put it into a funnel, then streamed out the batter into hot oil, like in round coils. Once the "cake" cooked, they put powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar on them. Kind of like the "elephant ears" you get at the fair, or beignets. I didn't realize what they were, so when Sammy asked to make a funnel cake this evening, because they made them at Hartley and they were so good... I said sure. Didn't realize it was going to be a 2-hour endeavor. But the funnel cakes turned out good, and Sammy was happy.

Sammy is so tired... he didn't get much sleep the past couple of nights. See how his one eyelid is a little more closed than the other in this photo? When he gets really tired, it does that... just like his daddy.