Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An Attack of Nerves

I am a bit of a nervous wreck right at the moment.

I'm not sure if it's because I haven't flown in close to six years and I have to get on a plane Thursday morning or if it's because I have to drive down to Philadelphia the night before I do it and there's all that New York traffic to deal with or if it's because it's time to go to bed and I have to work tomorrow before we leave and I'm still not done packing! Maybe it's a combination of all that? Maybe it's really that I'm not nervous so much as that I'm anxious? Maybe I'm just suffering from major league disorganization and disbelief that I'm actually flying back out to California? Hmm, I bet that's probably what it is!

The last time I left California in September of 2002 it was via Amtrak rather than a plane and, as the train pulled out of the station in Sacramento, I decided that I would most likely never return. I'd had my heart broken way too many times in the San Joaquin Valley (starting with the announcement by my first husband in 1981 that there were "too many single women available" for him to be a husband and father) and as much as I love Cyndi and Grandma Edith, it seemed like it was just too painful for me to ever be in Stockton again. Of course, as they say, time heals all wounds (or is that wounds all heels? I wonder how my first ex is doing?) and I've had close to six years to fall back, regroup, and rethink that decision.

Despite the memories of love gone wrong in Stockton, I lived there for quite some time and have many other happier memories that shouldn't be shut away behind a closed door that could never be opened again. Besides, I have the best friend in the world who has put up with my nonsense for over twenty years living there and a grandmother who loves me and still calls me her granddaughter long after the marriage to her grandson ended. If those aren't reasons enough to put the past behind me and get on a plane, then I don't know what are.

Add on the fact that this trip gives me the chance to meet some new friends that I have made through blogging and there is no reason at all for me to be nervous about getting on that plane Thursday morning no matter the fact that there are butterflies doing figure-eights in my stomach right now!

Of course, maybe the biggest problem here is that I haven't had a vacation in years and I've forgotten how to take one? I can tell you that I've sure forgotten how to pack for one (I'm afraid that either Amanda or I will forget our ipods or worse!) so I guess I'd best go finish that now and quit with the procrastinating. Talk to you later - from the West Coast!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Getting Trivial With Travis

Recently in an effort to stay out of the dungeon at Bloggingham Castle while thinking about the old Trivial Pursuit game that I'm sure so many of us have played, Travis @ Trav's Thoughts created a new meme that I just had to have a go at called -

Travis' rules are pretty simple:
  1. Choose a category from one of these: Television, Stage & Screen, Nightly News, Publishing, Lives & Times, Music
  2. Find 8 bits of trivia about your selected category
  3. Be sure to let me know when...ok, if...you decide to play along so I can see what you come up with. (You can do that just by clicking here!)
  4. You may tag, or simply offer the meme for borrowing or stealing as you like.
Travis did his first-ever-made-all-by-himself-and-really-cool-meme on the 8 Films In Which John Wayne's Character Dies so I thought maybe I'd select the movie category myself and do my meme on 8 things about one of my favorite movies, For Love of the Game which was released in 1999 and is one that I can watch over and over again and do!

  1. The movie is based on the book, For Love of the Game, written by Michael Shaara and published posthumously in 1991 following his death from a heart attack in 1988. Shaara won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for his novel The Killer Angels which was about the Battle of Gettysburg and the source for the screenplay for the 1993 movie Gettysburg, another of my very favorites.
  2. The story is about Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner), a 40-year old pitcher, who is forced to re-examine his priorities in life when he is confronted with unexpected circumstances—not only is he being traded after 20 years as the heart and soul of the Detroit Tigers, but Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston), the love of his life, is leaving him for a job in London. During the course of the movie, Billy flashes back on his last four years with Jane and his baseball career as he pitches a possible perfect game against the formidable New York Yankees in "The House That Ruth Built".
  3. The movie was shot in both New York and Los Angeles with a short stop in Aspen, Colorado for some off-season scenes. Most of the East Coast scenes were shot on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn along with five weeks at Yankee Stadium during one of the warmest Novembers in New York ever.
  4. The production used between 800 and 2000 extras for filming at the stadium along with cardboard characters and computer graphics to fill out empty seats in the stands to make it look like a typical packed-house game at Yankee Stadium.
  5. The shots of Billy Chapel's parents at the beginning of the movie are Kevin Costner's actual parents.
  6. Both the Tigers and Yankees management insisted that anyone who wore their uniforms had to be either a former or current member of their organization or an actor. Ultimately, every player cast was either a professional or an actor with at least some organized baseball experience. Even actual major league umpires Rick Reed, Jerry Crawford and Richie Garcia were cast in their real-life profession.
  7. The soundtrack features 15 songs and some of the best music from a movie ever featuring artists such as Lyle Lovett, Roy Orbison, Vince Gill, Steely Dan, and others. I suspect I've just about worn it down!
  8. My very favorite song from the movie does not appear on the soundtrack album - "It Don't Matter to the Sun" by Chris Gaines, a fictional alternative rock singer created as an alter ego for Garth Brooks. The song can be found on the CD Garth Brooks: In the Life of Chris Gaines or you can listen to it here!
So, there you have it, eight rather long trivial facts about one of my favorite movies. I know it's been out almost ten years now but if you like a good baseball movie and a good love story and haven't seen it may I suggest you rent a copy at some point and indulge yourself? Just to get you more interested, here's the trailer:

Thanks, Travis, for this great new meme! It was really a lot of fun and I hope you get lots of people playing along with it. I'm not going to tag anyone in particular but come on people, you know you want to do this!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

One Word Survey Meme

Even though I personally wasn't tagged for this One Word Survey meme by Mimi, Queen of Memes, I've seen it popping up around the Blogosphere so when I saw it earlier tonight at Jamie's Duward Discussion, I decided to snitch it as even I'm really tired and ought to just go to bed I figured I could knock this one out fairly quickly. HA! Me write anything fairly quickly? Surely you jest! Thankfully, there's only one rule...you only get one word but it's harder than it looks!

Yourself: Prolific
Your Partner: Nonexistent
Your Hair: Frustrating
Your Mother: Widowed
Your Father: Ashes
Your Favorite Item: Slippers
Your Dream Last Night: Interrupted
Your Favorite Drink: Midori
Your Dream Car: Mustang
Your Dream Home: Tahoe
The Room You Are In: Living
Your Fear: Loneliness
Where Do You Want To Be In 10 Years: Loved
Who You Hung Out With Last: Coworker
What You're Not: Solvent
Muffins: Corn
One of Your Wish List Items: Lottery
Time: Flying
Last Thing You Did: Planted
What Are You Wearing: Hoodie
Your Favorite Weather: Autumn
Your Favorite Book: Mushy
Last Thing You Ate: Frozen
Your Mood: Blah
Your Best Friends: Missed
What Are You Thinking About Right Now: Sleeping
Your Car: Mazda
Your Summer: Working
What's on your TV: Dust
What is Your Weather Like: Menopausal
When Is the Last Time You Laughed: Earlier
Your Relationship Status: Vacancy
I'm not going to tag anyone as I'm feeling too darned tired and lazy but if you're looking for something quick and easy to do (sort of!) then feel free to grab it!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Catching Up With Colin (Sort Of!)

Just for a little background noise, I had the TV on earlier when the trailer came on for The Daily Show on Comedy Central saying that Jon Stewart was going to have Colin Firth on as a guest. Now, as I've stated previously several times in this blog, I do adore Colin Firth so naturally my curiosity was piqued and I just had to watch.

Apparently he's making the rounds for his upcoming movie "Then She Found Me" which also stars Helen Hunt who, as a matter of fact, directed the film, too. With the movie coming out on May 1st, it naturally needs a bit of hyping so Mr. Firth gets to go on various and assorted talk shows to talk the movie up but most of the interview on The Daily Show seemed to center on a tourist taking a picture of Colin Firth's penis in a men's room while he was attending a show in New York City. Alright then ... that's not exactly what I was expecting but what the hey!

What I did find out about the movie though, as Colin put it, is that "You need to see it. Helen Hunt is fantastic, Matthew Broderick is fantastic, and it doesn't have Hugh Grant in it." The movie also has Bette Midler in it and, even though you won't see his penis in the movie, Colin Firth is most definitely in it! Oh my ... there goes my blog rating right on down the tubes!

Speaking of tubes, here's the trailer from YouTube - check it out!

My Version of Sky Watch Friday!

I got a new cellphone awhile back and it's got a much better camera on it than my previous one so when there were some rather cool clouds floating over Norwich a few days back I thought I'd try taking a picture or two of them. This would be from the window at dispatch so it's by no means perfect but I thought it was kind of cool ... sort of ... maybe ... okay, so maybe not but really, they were cool clouds - honest!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Getting the Right Fortune

Every other Thursday is the day that we all look forward to at work the most - payday! The money may not stay in my checking account long before it makes its way into someone else's coffers but for at least one day every other week, I have a little money which means I can splurge a bit and maybe order lunch out rather than eat whatever unappealing food stuffs I might have brought from home.

I wasn't the only one in that mindset today as out of the six of us in the room, four decided that Chinese food sounded pretty good for lunch. Renee had leftover barbecued ribs that she brought in from home that smelled divine so I can fully understand why she choose to pass on the Chinese; had I brought something more appetizing than a leftover piece of chicken and a stale pita pocket, I might have opted out also but the lure of the MSG was calling so I figured why not?

Along with our entrees, the take-out place had of course tossed in a handful of fortune cookies as what's Chinese food without a fortune cookie? The little pile of cookies sat between Wayne and myself on the counter at the dispatch console so when I finished my very tasty Moo Goo Gai Pan, I grabbed a fortune cookie out of the pile, cracked it open, and got a fortune that said this -

Well, how do you like that? It's true! I guess I grabbed the right cookie! This time next week I'll be out in California and probably groaning because I ate one too many chile rellenos but that's okay because I won't have to go to work in the morning like I do tomorrow and not having to go to work is definitely a vacation no matter how you look at it!

Of course, that's not until next week so for now, I'm going to bed a bit early as my day off tomorrow is not my day off tomorrow and it's back to work for me for a little extra overtime ... sigh ... I'll catch up to everyone a little later on - I promise!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Things My Mother Taught Me

I got this in an email today from my friend Andrew and it was just too good not to share! My mother taught all of these things to me and now, as a mother myself, I am teaching these same lessons to my children who I am sure will then pass them on to their own children.

My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE -
'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.'

My mother taught me RELIGION -
'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.'

My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL -
'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!'

My mother taught me LOGIC -
'Because I said so, that's why.'

My mother taught me MORE LOGIC -
'If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.'

My mother taught me FORESIGHT -
'Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident.'

My mother taught me IRONY -
'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'

My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS -
'Shut your mouth and eat your supper.'

My mother taught me about FLEXIBILITY -
'Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!'

My mother taught me about STAMINA -
'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.'

My mother taught me about WEATHER -
'This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.'

My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY -
'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!'

My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE -
'I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.'

My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION -
'Stop acting like your father!'

My mother taught me about ENVY -
'There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do.'

My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION -
'Just wait until we get home.'

My mother taught me about RECEIVING -
'You are going to get it when you get home!'

My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE -
'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.'

My mother taught me ESP -
'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?'

My mother taught me HUMOR -
'When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.'

My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT -
'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up.'

My mother taught me GENETICS -
'You're just like your father.'

My mother taught me about my ROOTS -
'Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?'

My mother taught me WISDOM -
'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'

And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE -
'One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.'

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mom! Look What I Brought Home!

Amanda came home from New Jersey with some new clothes, a coffin-shaped purse, a bunch of books, several bottles of hair product, and a full-blown sinus infection. Oh goodie!

She went to school yesterday after taking some Advil Cold & Sinus but wasn't feeling any too good so I told her that if she still felt lousy today I'd call the doctor this morning and make her an appointment to see if it was more than just a cold or allergies. She was still all stuffed up so I got her in to see the doctor this afternoon and - sure enough - Amanda's got a sinus infection that requires antibiotics.

While I was checking her in at the doc's, the receptionist noted that I was a 911 dispatcher and said "I bet you get some really strange calls, what was your worst?" Hum ... err ... well ... have I mentioned that I'm suffering from early on-set dementia and have taken to forgetting even the simplest things lately? After staring blankly into space for a few moments, I was finally able to recall the guy who had called for an ambulance because he was trying a new type of colon cleanse and managed to get the bottle stuck in a rather embarrassing place. And yes, that really was a 911 call and I'm not just making it up to get that link in there!

Hopefully Amanda will be feeling better in the next couple of days (she's taking the 3-day Z-pack) as she's heading back down to New Jersey in one quick week for the big concert event of the year (Bamboozle!) while I'm hoping I don't catch what she has as I really don't want to fly out to California feeling like the proverbial Death Eating a Cracker!

Death Eating a Cracker by Amanda

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The party's over.

In less than an hour I need to be at the train station to pick up Amanda who arrives home from New Jersey tonight. It's been one heck of a quick week and, even though I've missed her, I've rather enjoyed having time to myself and I think it's going to be take a little getting used to having someone else in the house again. I'm not so sure that I'd make a good hermit but I do rather like to have time alone so don't mind sharing company with just me, myself, and I from time to time. I hope that doesn't make me a bad mother!

Once I get back from the train station, I'm planning on making it an early night to bed as I stayed up way too late last night watching "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" simply because I have trouble turning off a movie with Colin Firth in it. Especially one with a happy ending as, incurable romantic that I am, I do love a happy ending. It was worth missing an hour or so of sleep to see Bridget and Mark resolve their problems! However, I now need to try to find that hour or so of missing sleep!

Speaking of resolving problems, I have a question to toss out to my readers that perhaps you can answer for me over the course of the next day or two. I will be working one of my long 16 -hour Monday shifts tomorrow so won't be getting back to the Blogosphere until probably sometime on Tuesday so there's plenty of time for people to weigh in with their thoughts and/or suggestions if they so choose. Here's my dilemma -

As regular readers know, I will be taking a mini-vacation of sorts to California in less than two weeks. I'll be going to the town where I used to live to see my best friend, my former grandmother-in-law, and to meet some new blogging buddies who live near the area all while eating copious amounts of Mexican food! I think it's going to be a wonderful time but there's one more thing that I'm just not sure whether I will get the chance to do or should do.

There is one other person I'd really like to see if at all possible but I'm just not sure if it is possible. This person is one of the ghosts from my past and I've not spoken to him in quite a long time though he is often in my heart and on my mind. Because I still care about him, and most certainly always will, I'd like to know how he's doing, whether life has been good to him, if he's happy, whether he accomplished any of the hopes and dreams he told me about the last time we spoke,and if by any chance he ever thinks about me at all. I don't want to intrude on his life but I really want to see him again. By the same token, I don't take rejection all that well and so am hesitant in getting in touch with him to see if he'd like to touch base while I'm all the way over on his side of the country. I fear being told that he would rather not have my face darken his visage ever again but I am also afraid that I may never get the chance to see him again if I don't do it while I'm there.

Between a rock and a hard place. That's where I am.

What do you think? Should I take the chance of being rejected or should I not take the risk and just come home knowing that I never had the courage to follow through with something that my heart really wants to do? What would you do if you were in my place? Would you be willing to take the risk?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Rising Cost of Gas

While heading out to the casino this past Wednesday night to meet my Mom and Aunt at Bingo, I passed by my local neighborhood gas station where I normally fill up. At that time gas was going for $3.46 a gallon which was probably the cheapest in town. I didn't need gas so drove right on by without giving it too much of a thought.

The next day I had to pass by the same gas station prior to going into work and gas had climbed up to $3.64 a gallon - overnight! Needless to say, I was a bit appalled and shocked to see that it gone up 18 cents for no good reason. Yesterday I passed by the same gas station where the sign declared gas to have gone up yet again to $3.66 a gallon! What on earth is going on? By the time I need to actually put gas in my car it will probably be $3.75 a gallon or worse.

At this rate, I'm beginning to think it might be a little cheaper to invest in a couple of horses and saddles as hay has got to be a lot less cheaper than gas is turning out to be lately. Of course, it's going to be hard to find a good place to put the CD changer!

So, how does gas look where you're at? I'm sure I'm not the only one suffering at the pumps.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Reflection From the Past

It's been a long day and I had managed to be semi-productive doing things around the house before it occurred to me that I had neglected to even turn the computer on and it was after 8:00! Wow - it's a miracle! I'm not sure if I'm going to get to the computer tomorrow either as I have some things planned for after work that I'm still trying to get done before Amanda gets home on Sunday. This week has certainly gone by fast!

Anyhow, I didn't want to not write something for three days in a row so I thought I'd go back into my old Live Journal archives and pull a post from there to post here today. Yeah, yeah, it's cheating but give an old woman a break, okay? Enjoy this blast from the past and I will try to get back on track here in the next couple of days - honest!
"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
- originally posted March 30th, 2006

"Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York." - William Shakespeare

More aptly, perhaps I should write "there goes our winter of discontent made glorious Spring by the sun shining on Norwich" but I rather doubt that's what The Bard had in mind when he penned Richard the III! However, the sun was indeed glorious today and for the first time in a long time I was able to go out and sit on my glider swing on the front porch like some over-sized turtle soaking up the sun! Ah, bliss!

There were any number of things that I meant to do today, especially considering it was my first day off in ten long days, but all of my good intentions pretty much faded away in the warmth of the sun. I did manage to rake around the roses a little bit and by the side of the house but this wasn't really a day for chores so much as it was a day to enjoy the return of Spring. There will be plenty of time for yard work (provided my back cooperates) and for housework which never seems to end but the opportunities to just sit and relax with a cup of tea and the sun shining on one's face just don't come often enough. Again - bliss!

Funny how as one gets older one finally appreciates life a little more and the opportunities to sit and do nothing for a little bit. George Bernard Shaw was right when he said that "youth is wasted on the young" as you just don't appreciate the little things in life when you're young. A good book - a good cup of coffee - a good friend - a warm Spring day - the sun on your face - and the occasional chance to just 'be'... those are just some of the things I'm finally learning to enjoy more and more.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Of Dispatch Conferences and Such

My internet connection has been doing some hinky things the last two days so as I'm writing this post I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that the connection will last until I can get through it. In speaking to the good folks at Tech Support at AT&T this morning we have come to the conclusion that my modem, which is four years old, is probably in need of replacement so I've got a new one ordered but it won't arrive until Monday. Until then, my DSL is going to be sort of like a magic act - now you have it, now you don't! So, if I don't get around to everyone's blogs (or catch up with the various games I have going on over at Facebook) it's not that I don't want to but that I cahn't get theyah from heeah as they say in Maine!

Now, technical issues and excuses aside, I first off want to thank everyone for the thanks and best wishes that they have left in comments in regards to this being National Telecommunicator Week. I was telling Mimi the other day that when I make mention of the fact that it is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week I almost feel like I'm throwing that out there so that people will say "Oh! Thank you for the job you do!" but that's not the case at all. I mention it because I want people to be aware that there are some truly fantastic people who play a major role behind the scenes (or behind the phone and radio lines) that are very rarely thought of, never mind thanked. I don't do it for me, I do it for every man or woman who has ever answered a phone with the words "911, what's the address of your emergency?" because - honest to God - we never know what that emergency is going to be and how it's going to affect us. And affect us it does. I have taken more calls home with me then I care to remember and there are those that haunt me to this day but this profession chose me (do you think anyone in their right mind would actually choose this profession themselves?!?) and it's what I do. There are times I like to think I do it well but then there are probably more times when I question my ability - as well as sanity! - in doing it.

Anyhow, to get off of my soap box now - this week has been wonderful. I was able to attend a great Telecommunicator Conference on Monday where I got to eat some darned fine prime rib and listen to one of the most dynamic speakers I've heard in a long time. Kevin Willetts, a dispatch supervisor from the Redwood City Police Department in California, is the kind of supervisor that every dispatcher would love to have and he was not only extremely funny but extremely inspiring. He makes me proud to be a dispatcher though there are times when I want to run screaming from the room and he could probably do a complete stand up comedy act on "You Might Be a Dispatcher If ..." (but unless the audience was made up entirely of dispatchers as it mostly was on Monday you probably wouldn't get it). I haven't laughed that much in a long time and I want to thank my company for sending me to the conference. It was more than worth the 100 mile round-trip drive.

Speaking of my company, they have been plying us with edible goodies this past week that have ranged from muffins and bagels to veggie platters to this fantastic fruit and cheese platter you see here to pizza and salads from one of my favorite pizza places (the one I mentioned in my last "I've Got a Question, You've Got an Answer" post). If there's one thing dispatchers appreciate it's food and we've been having some really good stuff this week! In addition to that, one of my favorite EMTs, who happens to be just too cute for words (I swear, they never made guys that looked like that when I was that age!), brought me up some cookies and chocolate covered pretzels yesterday along with a hug and a kiss. I shared the cookies, brought the pretzels home for myself, and cherished the hug and kiss. Seth - don't feel like you need to wait for a special week to do that again!

In the meantime, what else have I done while Amanda is away in New Jersey? Not as much as I'd like but I did go try my luck again at Bingo last night with my Mom and favorite aunt out at "the wonder of it all" - Foxwoods Casino. I snapped this picture with my cell phone so hence the lousy quality but it might give you a small idea of just how huge this place is. That's the Grand Peqout Tower Hotel in the background with the Great Cedar Hotel in the forefront. At least I think that's what it is! What you can't see from this picture is the enormous MGM Grand Tower that is going up behind it that opens in May.

Unfortunately, my lousy luck still holds as I wasn't able to break my 28-year losing streak but it was nice to spend some time with my Mom and she was nice enough to buy my Bingo cards as well as the specials so it didn't cost me a thing. I would have been more than happy to pay her back had I actually won but I don't think Mom was banking on that happening - which is a good thing!

I'm going in for the evening shift today rather than my usual day shift as one of the other dispatchers needed to switch shifts so prior to that I'm going to try to get a few things done here around the house. In addition to some random cleaning, one of the main things I need to do is get those small morning glory buds I put a picture of in my Manic Monday post into a flower pot. Remember how small they were just a couple short days ago? Well - look at them now! They've really shot up and I don't think keeping them in just those small peat pots is too healthy for them at this point. Good thing it's warmed up outside and it looks like Spring is finally here to stay as these guys look more than ready to start twining their way up the posts on the front porch! Guess I need to start thinking about what other plants I want to get into my window boxes out there, too. Perhaps that's a good project for tomorrow and my day off!

For those of you who suggested I get myself into some "fun trouble" while Amanda is away, I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you horribly in that respect but I can definitely say that I've been enjoying the peace and quiet of the house and not having to worry about the fact that "there's nothing good to eat" or "there's nothing to do"! Even though I miss her (a little bit!), this week has been going by way too fast and before I know it she'll be back and I'll have to go to the grocery store or I'll never hear the end of it! Sigh ...

Oh! One other thing just for the ladies before I forget! If you haven't had the chance to check out Mo's new blog Captured By Gravity yet then you just gotta go over and drool look at this post here! Normally I'm not a big one for just visual but for some reason my mouse keeps clicking on its own back to this picture ... gaaahhh ... oops, I'm drooling again. Mo, thanks! You sure know how to put a smile on someone's face!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lois' Morning Mug Meme

While making my blog rounds this morning I came across a new meme over at Lowdown from Lois that I thought might be kind of fun that Lois calls the Lois' Morning Mug Meme. Lois got to thinking while putting away dishes yesterday just what it was her mug might say about her - and that would be her coffee mug and not her "face" mug! From this bit of wondering she came up with her new meme that has extremely easy rules - as a matter of fact, there's just one rule and this is it ...
Lois' Morning Mug Meme Rules: Most folks drink some sort of a morning beverage, be it coffee or tea, and most likely from a mug. Please share a photo of your favorite mug(s) and tell a story about how it became your favorite. Include what you drink with this mug.
Seemed like a pretty simple meme so I promised myself that I could take part in it once I got my assigned morning chores done and could sit down for a second cup of coffee. What with Amanda being gone for the week, I figured I should live it up a bit and clean the bathroom from top to bottom. Yeah, baby, I know how to take advantage of an empty house! Just wait until I descend upon her room with vacuum cleaner and garbage bags in tow! Maaawaaahaaahaaa! She'll be wishing she stayed home rather than having gone to spend the week in New Jersey once I'm done in there let me tell you! Anyway, I digress ... back to Lois' Morning Mug Meme.

Even though this is a simple meme, I couldn't keep it simple as there isn't just one mug that I use for my morning brew - whether it be coffee or tea. Over the years my cousin Amy has given me quite a few mugs for birthdays or Christmases and they're all great mugs so I tend to rotate them around.

Take these two mugs here for example - the elephant one is HUGE and makes one really big cup of coffee which is sometimes definitely needed to jump start my tired behind in the mornings! The Jiminy Cricket mug not only helps to get me going with a large size cup of java but also makes me smile. Amy and I have a running joke with both elephants and Jiminy the Cricket (something about me needing a conscience or something like that!)

One of my other favorite mugs is, of course, my Death Eating a Cracker mug that was designed by my very own resident artist - Amanda! This cup is especially apporpriate on mornings when I feel like ... well, Death eating a cracker! While I'm on the subject, if you really like this mug you can get one of your own over at Amanda's shop on Cafe Press! Now what kind of Mom would I be to not promote my daughter's work??

This brown mug is one of what was originally a set of four that I bought at a bakery in Stockton, California way back in 1984. There are only three of them now as my clumsy ex-husband managed to break one (men!) but they remain at the top of my list of favorites. When I bought them I just really liked the teddy bear on the front plus the mugs "feel" good if that makes any sense!

Another gift from my cousin Amy was this Maxine mug that I use at least several times a week. "It's my body, I'll have pie if I want to" is just one of Maxine's many mottos that I just love. How can you not love Maxine? Come to think of it, pie sounds pretty good right about now, too, but alas - the house is devoid of pie or any other goodies. No wonder Amanda went to New Jersey!

Another elephant mug (again from Amy) is this cute little china mug that is only about 6 ounces but perfect for a quick cup of tea or coffee. It's also the ideal size for a packet of hot chocolate. I love the colors and the fineness of the china on this one. It's very light even when filled to the brim.

Last but certainly not least is a coffee mug that I like to use when I want to remind myself of where I work (like I could hardly forget that with being there at least 48 hours a week!). Believe it or not, I don't use one of these mugs at work when drinking coffee but have a completely different one hanging on the mug rack in the kitchenette! Go figure!

I have a lot of other mugs in the cupboard but these are my favorites out of them all. I actually took a whole big bagful over to the Goodwill just a week or two ago as every time we opened the cupboard door either Amanda or I were trying to catch one of the mugs that was in danger of falling out and smashing on the tile floor in the kitchen! I could probably weed out a few more but you just never know when you're going to have 25 people over for coffee!

If you'd like to participate in this meme, I'm sure that Lois would be tickled to pieces so please do so and don't forget to link back to her so that she can check out what your mug says about you! Oh, and I ended up having my second cup of coffee in my Jiminy mug not because there was anything wrong with my conscience but because I needed a big cup of coffee after all that work I did!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Manic Monday - "Bud"

For Manic Monday this week the magnificent Morgen sent us in search of "bud". I'm going to assume that he didn't mean the beer (beer - yech!) so instead I took my camera in hand and explored around the house for a few good buds ...
These are budding morning glory seeds that I'm going to be planting in various flowerpots on my front porch as soon as they get bigger and the weather gets better. There is a combination of red, white, and blue flowers in there, though you'd never know it now!
Some sort of budding plant in the front area of my house!
I have no earthly clue what kind of plant this is but whatever it is, it's budding nicely in the front yard and I'll be quite interested to see what exactly it is!
Daffodil buds on the side of the house - these bloom in a really pretty shade of peach.
More daffodil buds - these are your standard yellow daffs!
And, of course, this is my budding artist as she waits for the train to take her down to New Jersey!

To see what else might be budding in the blogosphere, be sure to check out my good buddy Morgen's Manic Monday post at It's a Blog Eat Blog World!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Left to My Own Devices

Amanda is on Spring Break from Norwich Free Academy this week but rather than spend it hanging around the house and being bored while I put in my standard 40+ hours at work, she boarded a southbound Amtrak train yesterday afternoon and is spending the week hanging out with her friend Darcy (aka "Toast") in New Jersey.

This is her second trip on Amtrak down to Philadelphia as she went down the first time over President's Day Weekend (Darcy's Mom has sent her tickets both times so who I am to deny her the chance to actually go do something fun?) so she's now a seasoned veteran when it comes to train travel. Her train left yesterday afternoon at 1:17 and we had some time to kill while waiting for it to arrive so took some pictures that I've put together in a little slideshow. Hopefully you can read the text I inserted with each picture!

Way back when I was much younger (not that much older than Amanda is now) and was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey I used to take the train back and forth to Connecticut myself so in some small way (very small way!), it's sort of like reliving a bit of my past. The neat thing now as opposed to way back when, though, is that Amanda can keep in touch with me via cell phone the whole way down and I don't have to worry about wondering how she is en route to her "week of fun". Sometimes there is a lot to be said for modern technology!

Anyway, it appears that I have an entire week to myself for a change and even though it's going to be pretty quiet around the old hacienda, I think I'm going to enjoy it - well, when I'm not at work that is!

Speaking of work, this week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week here in the good ole' US of A so if you get the chance - tell a dispatcher thank you! - it makes us feel so much better about the generally thankless job that we do! Celebrations at work this week will include some sort of edible treat every day, the chance to wear civilian clothes rather than my uniform, and tomorrow I'll be attending a Dispatch Conference in Cromwell with my Monday dispatch partner, Wayne. It's always great to get together with the other crazies in my chosen profession and compare horror stories notes! Plus it means I get a break from my usual 16-hour marathon shift - woohoo!

As a shout-out to one of my brothers and sisters with a headset, if you get the chance please pop over to The Life of a Father of Five and surprise him with a thank you - he's not only Dad to five but a 911 Police and Fire Dispatcher in Minnesota. I'm sure he'd be thrilled with a comment or two (I know I would be!).

Everyone have a great week - I'm going to go see what sort of trouble I can get into by myself!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Westward Bound

I haven't been on an airplane since one of my dispatch partners, Jen, and I flew down to Orlando two years ago to attend the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch Navigator Conference in Orlando, Florida. Prior to that I hadn't been on a plane since September of 2002 and, frankly, that's been okay by me. It's not that flying scares me or anything like that - even though the take-offs do tend to make my palms sweat a tiny bit but once we're past that I'm generally okay - it's more that it's gotten more and more uncomfortable over the years and, frankly, I miss airline food. There - I've said it - I actually liked the food that they used to serve in-flight and now you're darned lucky if you get a miniature packet of peanuts and a can of soda! Still, there are some occasions that call for actually sucking it up and getting on a plane as it would take too long to get there via automobile and with the rising cost of gas, it's probably just as cheap to fly these days anyway!

That said, it appears that I shall be boarding a plane in just a little less than three short weeks and winging my way to a place I honestly never thought I would go to again ... California. More specifically that would be Stockton, California - the second most miserable city in the country (according to the statistics I quoted in this post) that also just happens to be the hometown of my BFF Miz Cyn. As a matter of fact, it is my BFF MC who provided me the plane ticket to return to a place I thought I would never return to in this lifetime and when your BFF requests the honor of your presence and provides you with the means to get there, how can you say no?

For those not familiar with Stockton or the Barkleys of the Big Valley (you did know that the TV series The Big Valley was set in Stockton, right?) - it's the 13th largest city in California located approximately 80 miles east of San Francisco and 40 miles south of Sacramento in the Central Valley, which is a major agricultural region. I called Stockton home from 1981 until 1987 and took my first job as a 911 dispatcher with the Police Department there in 1984. I still have ties to the region in the form of not only my BFF MC but also with my former grandmother-in-law from my first marriage, who isn't getting any younger and if I hope to see her again on this side of life then it's probably a good idea I get out there to visit her now. Quite the compelling reason for getting on a plane and traveling roughly 3,000 miles.

There are, of course, other compelling reasons which were discussed at great length prior to my agreeing to this trip. Other than really wanting to see Cyndi, whom I have not seen since mid-2003 even though we have kept in constant contact via telephone over the years, I figure it's high time we had another picture taken together as the only one I have is this one from 1986 when we both worked at SPD.

No, no - this isn't an outtake from Charlie's Angels even though we have the hair for it - this was taken on the day our "dispatch team" worked it's last shift together before they scattered us to various schedules in the dispatch center thereby ruining a really good thing. For those who haven't seen this picture yet, Cyndi is the one in the sweater (she was pregnant with her third child, Daniel, at the time and didn't have to wear a uniform) and I'm the one in the middle with the really wavy almost-blonde hair. The others are Chris with her arm around me, Kathy to the right, and our shift supervisor, Dianne, who was kneeling in front of a cake. As much as I like this picture, it's over 20 years old and my hair will never look like that again so it's time for a new picture. Unless we want to do some fancy PhotoShop cutting and pasting, that is going to require Cyndi and I both being in the same place at the same time.

Which brings us to another compelling reason for me to go ... as much as Cyndi would love to hop on a plane and come back East for a visit so that we could take a picture here, her husband insists that it's my turn to go West as Cyndi made the last two trips. Jeff has a valid point but we're not looking at it exactly the same way that he is. By our sneaky calculations, we figure that if I fly out there now then the next visit is Cyndi's and she'll be able to justify a trip East to explore New York City and Gettysburg. Devious, aren't we?

The third compelling reason has to do with the fact that I've not been able to get decent Mexican food since my last visit to California. This may not seem like much of a compelling reason to a lot of you but - trust me - when you've experienced authentic Mexican food then the likes of Taco Bell just is not going to do it! I blame part of this reason squarely on my dispatch partner Jen, whom I mentioned above, as she loves to watch the Food Network and I have had to suffer through innumerable hours of watching Guy Fieri chow down on some fantastic looking Mexican food on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. A girl can only take so much and then something's gotta give! I'll admit it - I'm weak! - but ever since Cyndi and I started discussing a potential trip I've been able to practically taste the quesadilla and beef enchilada in the #12 combinaciĆ³n plato at the Cancun Mexican Restaurant that I've been jonesing for since I was last out that way! Some memories just die harder than others!

Then there is one more compelling reason for me to board a plane, sit in a cramped seat with a tiny bag of peanuts, and lose three hours due to the time zone changes in the process - if I am ever going to get Cyndi to start writing a blog, I need to try to convince her in person. I'm not sure I have the ability to do that on my own (Cyndi can be danged stubborn) so I'm planning on recruiting the likes of several other top-notch bloggers like Sandee of Comedy Plus who lives mere miles from Stockton, Katherine of Wading Through My Stream of Consciousness who could hop over the mountains from Santa Cruz to join in, and the ever Amazing Gracie of Echoes of Grace who lives the furthest but I think I can encourage to be there for this "round table discussion" . I figure that between the four of us, maybe we can make a dent in Cyndi's hard Irish skull and get her to use some of those writing talents she has languishing away. Resistance will be futile! At least that's my hope! Plus I get to meet some more totally cool bloggers in the process and that alone makes it worth the really, really long trip! Anyone else going to be close by that wants to join us?

Of course, even though there were many compelling reasons to say "yes" to this trip, there were several compelling hesitations also. What would I do with Amanda while I was gone for almost a week? Would I be able to get the time off from work? How would my back handle an 8-hour plane ride? Where would I stay when I got out there? As it turns out, during the time that I am going to be in California (May 1st to the 6th), Amanda will be staying with her friend Darcy outside of Philadelphia as that's the weekend of the big Bamboozle concert that she's been looking forward to for months. As a matter of fact, I will be driving down there and flying out of Philadelphia while leaving my car with Darcy's family so Amanda won't miss me in the least. As for getting the time off of work, my co-workers were more than willing to cover my shifts for me so that I could take some much needed time off (some of them are placing bets as to whether I'll actually be back or not but I can assure them this is a short trip only and I'm not going out for any job interviews!). My back has been doing better lately and with a change of planes in Denver, I think I can handle the flight as long as I get up and stretch occasionally while cruising high above the clouds (after being sure to tell the flight attendants why I'm getting up so much!) plus I've read some great tips from other back-pain sufferers that I'm going to try. I might be a bit stiff when I get off the plane in Sacramento but I think I'll be okay.

My biggest hesitation in finally saying "yes" to this trip was one of logistics as to where I would stay while I was out there. As much as I love Cyndi, her house is out of the question as she has way too many cats for my allergies to even allow me to walk into it for any length of time, never mind actually stay there. My former grandmother-in-law lives in a very small house so that was out of the question, too. That left me with finding decent accommodations that I could afford that also wouldn't put me in one of the more undesirable parts of the city. For that I turned to my old friend William Shatner and Price-Line where I negotiated a fantastic deal at the Courtyard Marriott for a fraction of the normal cost. I named my own price and they accepted it at a savings of almost 70%! To say that you couldn't beat that deal with a stick might be a bit of an understatement so how could I possibly say no? Well, I couldn't ... especially considering they required I enter a credit card number before they negotiated the price!

I was a little hesitant on the whole "name your own price" thing as I had no idea which hotel in the area I might end up with and I knew for sure that there were several in Stockton that I had no desire to stay at whatsoever but I thought it might be worth the chance if it could save me some money. I was especially afraid of finding out that my "winning bid" put me at the La Quinta Inn which, even though it's a decent enough hotel, is the one I stayed at the last time I was in Stockton and it had the worst mattress ever! Add on the fact that there are "ghosts" there and it was not high on my list of places I wanted to stay. I was quite delighted when I found out that my offer was accepted at the Courtyard Marriott as I have stayed there in the past also and found it to have absolutely wonderful accommodations plus there is the added benefit of free WiFi! Surely you didn't think I'd go to California for a week and not take my laptop so that I could blog did you?? Heck no! Have blog - will travel!

All in all, even though I'm a bit nervous about it, I'm quite looking forward to this trip. I haven' t had a vacation in years (taking the girls out to Kentucky in 2004 to live in their new home doesn't count in my book) and I really do need a break from work before I burn out completely. Granted, I've got the Beach House in September to look forward to but considering my stress levels lately, I think I need a little something-something a little sooner.

Good food plus good friends has got to equal good times even if it's in the second most miserable city in the country - right?? I mean, it's not like I'm going to Detroit which is the most miserable city in the country!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mom! The Computer Locked Up Again!

For some unknown reason, my desktop computer has been having some issues lately and I have yet to be able to figure out why. Sometimes it runs great and doesn't lock up at all and then other times, you can barely do anything on it and you have to shut it down in order to unlock it. I have run several different programs to see if there is some sort of virus but so far it checks out clean. I'm not sure if it's because it has a Vista operating system or whether there is some other program that perhaps Amanda downloaded that causes it to lock up sometimes.

Whatever it is, I hope it's not serious as I sure can't afford to buy another computer and I don't think that computer rental is even an option because that can get really expensive, too.

Anyone else have any problems with a computer running Windows Vista slowing down or locking up? I am beginning to think that if I had the disks to Windows XP I'd take off the Vista and put that on instead but alas, I don't have them. Figures!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer

wind chimes in the sunFirst off, it was a beautiful spring day here in Connecticut - yay! - but unfortunately it was just a tease as it's going to get cold and rainy yet again over the next couple of days - boo! - complete with the possibility of snow showers Monday night into Tuesday. It's enough to drive a person crazy but for now, I'll take whatever warm days we can get and run with 'em - or leisurely stroll more likely!

Amanda took the above picture of one of the wind chimes on our front porch earlier today while out enjoying the nice weather after she had discovered that there was a macro zoom on our digital camera (I find it hard to believe she just discovered this!) and asked me to post it so there 'tis! I thought it came out rather nice in an abstract sort of way.

Now - enough senseless babbling - on to the question! Every other Thursday is payday here at the House of Mouseski and occasionally it's nice to go out to eat rather than try to figure something out here at home so tonight that's what we did. Just down the road (I live on the side of two rather high hills so everything is down the road!) is a great little pizza place called Sunset Pizza that is run by Peter, a very friendly man, and his family. I love going there because he calls me "young lady" and because the food is phenomenal at a very reasonable price. Amanda asked if we could go there tonight for pizza which sounded like a plan to me so we did. Her choice was a bacon-mozzarella pizza which was - as always - very tasty.

After coming home and doing some blog-reading, while digesting said pizza, the thought popped into my head that there was most definitely a question there to be asked and hence this post and this question -

What is your favorite kind of pizza?
Even though Amanda got to order her favorite tonight, mine would be a pizza with sausage, pepperoni, black olives, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms - something that Amanda wouldn't even sit down at the same table with! Of course that means it would be mine, mine, all mine - maaawaaahaaahaaahaaahaaa!

Now how about you? What's yours?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Post From the Past

I'm feeling somewhat worn out tonight so rather than write something new I decided to resurrect a post from the past and put it out here for those of you who haven't been religiously reading my blog ever since I began writing it. I suspect this will be new to everyone!

On September 21st, 2006 I had a bit of a problem in getting a post of my own done for reasons that you can read about below so I recruited my good friend from California, Miz Cyn, to guest post for me. I thought she did a more than admirable job and would love to get her to either guest post more often or write her own #$&*'ing blog as she really does have a flare for words.

Perhaps I need to head out to California and have a little chat with her - eyeball to eyeball - over a #12 combination plate at my favorite Mexican food restaurant while I try to convince her of the benefits of blogging and such.

In the meantime, please read a post Cyndi titled -

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." ~ Albert Einstein
I'm annoyed by people who mangle the quotations of others in an effort to communicate their own ideas.

With the mea culpa tidily handled, I say: It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our sanity--or at least MY sanity.

O.K., you got me. Linda would never resort to such a cheesy lead-in. I confess, I am a guest; guest blogger, that is. I'm Cyndi, Linda's friend, alter-ego, former dispatch partner and part-time conscience, in no particular order. Linda is taking a well-deserved day off. She has kindly allowed me to achieve my 15 seconds of fame via today's post, and for good reason. It is, after all, my sanity that is challenged, but for a change it was not one of my own three kids who sent me plunging down the abyss.

Nope; this time it was Linda's dear Amanda who gave me the hearty shove.

Mind you, most of the time I adore Amanda. She's a great kid. We share certain traits; sensitivity, a love of various arts, a flair for multitasking, and California birth certificates (I had to throw that last bit in just for Amanda. Yo Cali-girl!).

Yep, Amanda's a great kid who somehow felt it perfectly reasonable to tap into my conversation with her mother this afternoon to let us both know that she absolutely had to have the telephone line cleared right away because she had to make a call of her own.

So far, no big deal, right? Sure, Linda and I live some 3,000 miles apart and converse only a couple of times a month, but we were barely in the midst of invoking world peace or ending the threat of global warming when said interruption occurred. Granted, my 14th birthday passed sometime around the time Cleopatra was batting her lashes at Marc Anthony; still, I can vaguely summon that feeling of urgency that drives adolescent talk fests. Finally, it hasn't been all that long ago that my own daughter passed through the age in which a five minute delay in making a phone call feels more like five years of agony.

Given all of this, I thought Linda's response was quite generous, mom-wise: She offered Amanda use of her cell phone to place her call. And Amanda said ... no. Nope. No thanks; only the landline phone would do, because she needed to place a three-way call, and apparently this was not possible on Linda's cell phone.

What I said at this point is ... well ... probably best not repeated here.

Mind you, Ms. Amanda already had possession of the family computer at this point, yet she wanted the PHONE too? For a conference call?

I hereby nominate Linda for Mother of the Year for ever so calmly suggesting that we hang up so she could call me back on her cell phone. Problem solved; so why does the whole thing still stick in my craw hours later?

Answering machines, Call Waiting, conference calls, email, IM's, blogs, Cell phone, texting, Blackberry/PDA, Pager (yup, some of us still carry those along with the rest of the stuff). My purse runneth over, but I don't feel any more in touch than I did before most of this stuff was available.

So I ask you, gentle readers: Am I the only one who thinks that the whole communication thing is getting out of hand? What would Einstein do?

Personally, I'm in favor of leaving the electronic gear in the hands of the teens(or the cats) and heading for a secluded beach; margarita in one hand and a good book in the other.

See y'all there!

Note from Linda: Thank you, Cyndi! I appreciate you filling in for me as I never would have gotten to the computer before 10:00 p.m. last night as Amanda had it tied up so she could work on her Naruto AMV while IM'ing her friends and still making that three-way call of hers. At least she has inherited my outstanding multi-tasking abilities! Oh, and thanks for the nomination for Mother of the Year though we both know I'd have a snowball's chance in a very warm place of actually winning it - were there such a thing!

Happy Birthday to Gerard Way!

Last year on April 9th, Amanda and I were baking a birthday cake for a guy that was never going to eat any of it simply because there was a snowball's chance in a very hot place that he was ever going to show up on the doorstep and spend his birthday with one of his fans; however Amanda said that didn't matter and we "just had to bake Gerard a birthday cake" - which we did. I wish I had a picture of it to post but the only one who has pictures is Amanda and she won't give one up saying that it "wasn't a very good cake". If memory serves, it was still quite tasty even though it never would have made the cover of American Cake Decorating Magazine!

For Gerard's birthday this year we actually didn't bake a cake which just goes to show how much more mature Amanda is now when it comes to the lead singers of her favorite bands (though I can't say for sure she won't want to bake a cake for Mindless Self Indulgence's front-man Jimmy when his birthday rolls around in September!). The past year brought a lot of opportunities that I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams when I wrote my very first post about My Chemical Romance and the band's lead singer, Gerard Way, and in looking back on it all, I still have to shake my head and think "wow"!

In the words of The Grateful Dead, "what a long strange trip it's been" but maybe that's all just part and parcel of having a teenager and the world really being a small place after all. If you would have told me last year that not only would I have gone to see MCR in concert in Worcester, Massachusetts in May but that I would have seen them again at the Projekt Revolution concert in Hartford in August I might have believed you. If you had told me that I would get the opportunity to meet Gerard Way backstage at that concert in August, I probably would have not believed you! Funny the little twists and turns that life takes ...

A year later it's once again Gerard's birthday and if he's like most people he's doing some reflecting back on the past year and the events that transpired during the 30th year of his life. I'm sure he's thinking "wow!" himself as I rather doubt that if someone would have told him that he was going to meet the most amazing woman ever on his summer concert tour and marry her before the summer was over he probably wouldn't have believed it anymore than I would have believed that I would have the opportunity to shake his hand as well as the hand of the amazing woman he married while Amanda showed them some of her artwork. Funny the little twists and turns that life takes ...

No cake for Gerard this year but Amanda did try her hand at doing a drawing of him based on a picture that Gerard had taken during a photo shoot by photographer Rob Bennett in September of last year just about the time that Gerard's latest venture, The Umbrella Academy comic book series, was being released.

Gerard Way drawn by AmandaGuaranteed that this looks a lot better than last year's cake did but I doubt the paper it's drawn on is as tasty!

Happy birthday, Gerard, wherever you may be and may this year bring you even more happiness and "wow's" than last year did!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Date With a Rake

Just a quick post before I head outside to enjoy some of the spring-like weather that has decided to grace New England today - and on my day off no less! To have nice weather is one thing, to have it fall on my day off is a miracle in and of itself! I've been waiting for a nice day to get outside and do a little bit of yard work so I dare not waste it just fooling around on the computer as I tend to usually do.

Before I head out, though, I just wanted to make mention of what I thought was an interesting little fact from my stat counters. I check them fairly regularly to see what it is that brings people to my blog - what people like to read, what they might be looking for, what makes a post interesting - so that maybe I can remember that for future posts. Naturally I get a lot of hits from people still looking for Rachel Lutzker (she's over at Fox 61, people!), the new traffic girl Theresa over at WFSB-3, news of Gerard and Lyn-Z (more on Gerard tomorrow), what it's like to be an emergency dispatcher, and - believe it or not - 5.11 gear from a post that I did on tactical socks a long time ago! Who knew that tactical socks were such a hot search item?? Certainly not I but apparently they are! Go figure ...

Anyhow, outside to the rake that awaits me (and don't I wish it was the type of rake you read about in historic romance novels - wink, wink!).

Be back later - everyone have a great day!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A "Creature Feature" Feature

Amanda has been dabbling more in a comic book style of art lately where she is drawing stories in panels. A lot of them make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever but then again, I'm old so that's to be expected! Some of her ideas she gets from whatever songs she happens to be listening to as is the case in the above video. The song that she is doing the drawing for and which is playing in the background is called "Aim For the Head" by Creature Feature, a band that is, in their own words, "an outlet for the imaginations of a couple of movie-mad fiends".

Creature FeatureHandsome gentlemen in a creepy kinda way, aren't they? The band which was formed on Halloween - of course! - has been described as "a band that forces you to remember why you used to sleep with the lights on" and is comprised of the Los Angeles duo of Curtis RX on guitars & vocals and Erik X on keyboards. As a band that specializes in "the macabre, the hidden, the whimsical, the concealed, the nightmarish, the unseen, the morbid, the unexplainable, the ghoulish, and the unfathomable" they are right up Amanda's alley and have become the inspiration for a lot of her recent artwork. After all, who doesn't enjoy a good scary story?

Their debut CD, which contains ten tracks of songs which really appeal to fans of Edward Gorey, Edgar Allan Poe, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman as well as classic horror and sci-fi movies, is titled The Greatest Show Unearthed. The CD has been touted as "a gleefully ghoulish set of goth-rock tunes that mix pop hooks with horror-movie atmospherics" complete with "the ultimate combination of slinky, carnival-esque keyboards and raw, sexy guitar riffs." I'm actually starting to kind of like it!

The Greatest Show Unearthed CDBecause Amanda tends to play the music over and over, especially while sketching out some new artwork and we live in a very small house where there's no escaping whatever music happens to be playing unless one or the other of us is wearing headphones, I've had the opportunity to listen to some of Creature Feature's music and there are several songs that definitely remind me of the soundtrack to Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas - especially the songs "A Gorey Demise" and "Such Horrible Things". The title track sounds somewhat like a dark and eerie carnival that would fit nicely in a small town in Maine in one of Stephen King's stories - scary things lurk around every corner and you fully expect the carnival barker to be nothing more than a demon with mayhem on his mind. I would suggest you stay away from the cotton candy and the games of chance!

The Darkest Show Around by Art MunkeyThe Darkest Show Around,July 2007, by Art Munkey
based on the song The Greatest Show Unearthed

Ah well, and to think that my parents shook their heads in despair when I listened to the music of Elton John or Led Zeppelin ... ha!
Anyhow, for those interested in seeing the first page of the comic of Amanda's efforts in the video above where she is working on the second and third panels on the second page, click on the picture below for a bigger view of the completed version and don't forget to watch out for flesh-eating monsters!

Comic based on Aim For the Head by Art MunkeyShould you like to listen to a little bit of Creature Feature, allow me to feature a video of their song, "Buried Alive", the only video released from The Greatest Show Unearthed. If you listen closely to the lyrics you'll definitely pick up on shades of Edgar Allan Poe in this song. Catchy, isn't it?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

It's Saturday Night ... Do You Know Where Your Social Life Is?

I must be stuck in the 70's this week as I'm pulling another song out of my past to post this evening. This one is by the Bay City Rollers, a Scottish pop/rock band that hit it big in the mid-70's and then faded away into obscurity in the early 80's. This particular song, "Saturday Night" was quite popular in 1976, the year American turned 200 years old and I graduated from high school. Yep - I am most definitely showing my age!

Ever since I can remember, Saturday nights have not exactly been the big thing for me that they are for a lot of people. It wasn't "date night" or "hit the town with my friends night" so much as it was "stay home and feel sorry for myself night" or a night where I could watch TV by myself while grimacing at every commercial for Sun-In spray-in hair lightener, Clearasil acne treatment, or Pearl Drops tooth whitener. Not that I needed any of those things per say but maybe they were all part and parcel of the reason I was sitting at home on Saturday night rather than going out and having a good time like every other teenager in America.

me in high schoolMyself, circa 1976
Even though I don't think I was particularly unattractive, I wasn't the type of girl that the boys gravitated to unless it was in the form of a friend. Story of my life pretty much when I stop and think about it. My cousin Diana had a boyfriend, my cousin Pat had a boyfriend, my best friend Diane had a boyfriend ... I had a lot of boy friends and that's pretty much where it ended. That's not to say that my entire four years of high school was nothing but an arid desert but for all that I went out, it might as well have been. Heck, I didn't even get invited to the senior prom (and don't think that still doesn't depress the hell out of me all these years later!).

So - flash forward 30+ years later and Saturday nights are pretty much what they were back in 1976 except that rather than sitting home all by myself every Saturday night bemoaning the fact that I'm sitting home all by myself on Saturday night I occasionally have Amanda for company as long as she isn't spending the night with Cate over at Jason & Amy's.

After all this time I've rather gotten used to having non-social Saturday nights but every once in awhile, I tire of it. Perhaps it's because the weather is finally warming up and it's as Alfred Lord Tennyson penned in his poem Locksley Hall, "In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." No doubt in the Spring a woman's fancy (even if she's no longer young) might also turn lightly to thoughts of love - or at least a little company once in awhile! Add on the fact that I haven't been on a date in longer than I can remember and it probably all makes sense!

Earlier this evening, while on my way back home from an exciting trip to get groceries, I was wondering if I'll ever actually go out on a date again or if the rest of my Saturday nights are going to be spent with my blog or an exciting game of Bejeweled on the XBox? If I had one of those Magic Eight Balls, chances are real good it would say -
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- so I won't. I'm afraid I'd turn bluer than the background of the text above but I guess if I could make a wish on one of my own "wishing stars" I might actually wish for a date with a handsome man with a great sense of humor who liked to slow dance. Now that would be a nice Saturday night for a change!

Oh well, time to end the pity party. I guess I'll see if Amanda is up for a little Rock Band on the XBox - no sense wasting the fact that she's actually home for a change tonight! It's not a date but at least I've got a teenager that doesn't mind spending time with her mother - sometimes!