Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Have I Done?

This meme is making the rounds ... I actually have been tagged by a few recently, so I owe a few bloggers, but this was actually the easiest - so the others will have to wait.

The rules are relatively simple: bold the items you’ve done; don’t bold items you haven’t done. I won't tag anyone for this, but if you're inclined to join in, please let me know.

1. Started your own blog. You’re reading it.

2. Slept under the stars.

3. Played in a band. Yes, big band geek here.

4. Visited Hawaii. Loved it.

5. Watched a meteor shower .

6. Given more than you can afford to charity. And it was worth it.

7. Been to Disney World / Land. Disneyland – my high school band played there my senior year, when I was Drum Major (see #3)

8. Climbed a mountain. Hiked in the mountains, but that’s it. And I only made it part way. Ask Scott – he has funny pictures.

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo. In chapel in college. ‘Nuf said.

11. Bungee jumped. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. *whew* That’s funny.

12. Visited Paris. I want to live on Ile Ste. Louis.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. From a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. Then woke up to water sloshing in through the porthole.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. I’d like to, though.

15. Adopted a child. Only furry ones.

16. Had food poisoning.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. I stopped there my first time in New York, but continued on to see Ellis Island.

18. Grown your own vegetables. We used to have vegetable gardens as a child.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. Yes, it’s tiny.

20. Slept on an overnight train. From Paris to Rome. And yes, someone came into our compartment and tried to rob us.

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitch hiked.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. Actually, a “mental health day”.

24. Built a snow fort. I grew up near Chicago.

25. Held a lamb.

26. Gone skinny dipping.

27. Run a Marathon. I was never a good distance runner, but I was a good sprinter.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. Both. I’d like to do that more often.

31. Hit a home run. In softball games at my cousin’s house.

32. Been on a cruise. The summer after high school – Greece, Egypt, Israel, and Turkey.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.

35. Been to Amish community. In Iowa and Indiana.

36. Taught yourself a new language. Again, something I want to do.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. For a short while.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing.

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke. “Love Shack” by the B-52’s (with a friend). It was horrid. But I got a date out of it.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. I love Yellowstone Park.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa. Egypt, overnight. Alexandria, Cairo, and Port Said.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. *knock on wood*

47. Had your portrait painted.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person. It was being repaired, but I saw it through the scaffolding.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Twice. Ask Scott about the second time.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Snorkeling, in lakes and briefly (very briefly) in Puerto Vallarta.

52. Kissed in the rain.

53. Played in the mud. We had a creek behind our house growing up.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater. An almost weekly occurrence during the summers in high school.

55. Been in a movie.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business.

58. Taken a martial arts class.

59. Visited Russia. I’d love to, though. I had a Social Science teacher in high school who showed us pictures of toilets from all over Russia.

60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.

62. Gone whale watching.

63. Gotten flowers for no reason. Scott’s a good guy.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. Not allowed to.

65. Gone sky diving. HUGE, paralyzing fear of heights and falling that gets worse the older I get.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check. Oops.

68. Flown in a helicopter. Unbelievably, yes. Three years ago along the Kona coast in Hawaii.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. It’s still at the house I grew up in, where my brother still lives, in the basement. Lots of them.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. I’d love to go back to D.C.

71. Eaten Caviar. No thanks.

72. Pieced a quilt.

73. Stood in Times Square.

74. Toured the Everglades.

75. Been fired from a job. It was mutual really, but still a blow to my ego.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

77. Broken a bone. *knock on wood again*

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. I’m scared of accidents, too.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Well, from a plane a few times. The first time, we were ahead of schedule, and the pilot made a go-around so everyone could see it.

80. Published a book.

81. Visited the Vatican.

82. Bought a brand new car. Joe Jetta.

83. Walked in Jerusalem. Very cool.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper. In high school, pictures of me as Drum Major from our Homecoming performance (see #3 and #7).

85. Read the entire Bible.

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Ick. I prefer meat that comes pre-packaged at the grocery store.

88. Had chickenpox. So I’m told, when I was about two years old.

89. Saved someone’s life. Not that I know of.

90. Sat on a jury. Served jury duty, but didn’t make it past voir dire. I think the public defendant knew I thought he was an asshole.

91. Met someone famous. Somehow I lost the Seagram’s 7 bottle that Joan Rivers signed after seeing Forbidden Broadway in New York. Oh, and ask Scott about Eartha Kitt.

92. Joined a book club.

93. Lost a loved one. Sadly.

94. Had a baby. Not that I know of …

95. Seen the Alamo in person. I hear it’s made of adobe and has no basement.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a lawsuit.

98. Owned a cell phone.

99. Been stung by a bee. Luckily not since I was in fourth grade.

Monday, January 26, 2009

MatterBulletPoints - Redux

I posted a version of this yesterday, and then Lewis left a comment that made me realize how whiny and depressing it was - so I took it down. Thanks to LSL, I thought about how the blogs I read are truly to see what's going on in other bloggers' lives whom I've become friends with - and if all I really have to write at the moment is a whiny-oh-woe-is-me post, then so be it. No one's feet are being held to the fire to read this, or to come back. So there.

So life these days ...
  • Work is work is stress. I have so many deadlines to meet this week and there's no way in hell I'm going to meet them all. I'm still trying to make a team work with one less person, and basically I'm absorbing the big projects that void leaves. Still, I don't feel like I'm getting anything accomplished to the extent that I can't be laid off ... ugh.
  • I mentioned that our stove broke down. Ends up it's the "motherboard" (I still don't know what to really call it) - which needs to be ordered - which will finally be fixed on February 5 about $480 later. It better make some damn good dinners after all that.
  • I've been fighting off a cold for over a week, which hit me on Saturday. I spent most of Sunday napping and feeling crappy, went to bed at 8:00 last night, and feel now that I'm home from work. My throat and right ear are killing me. I can't find the right drugs to feel better.
  • Good thing - Scott's computer as back in the land of the living, including a new free external hard drive and extra RAM from Dell because they, well, fucked up. Scott gave me an old external hard drive, and now we're both faithfully backing up our irreplaceables.
  • While cleaning out junk that had fallen behind my computer and filing cabinet to install the new hard drive, I found a watch (battery still working!), my beloved Human Rights Campaign cap, and the Eeyore PEZ dispenser Scott gave me for my last birthday. And the drawings an architect friend of ours did of our house's floorplan, to facilitate the remodel that we desperately want to do one of these days.

Thus endeth the whining.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh Happy Day

The 44th President of the United States of America

Barack Hussein Obama

Monday, January 19, 2009

We All Have A Dream

Prophetic, really, that tonight, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, is the eve before the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. There is a long way to go on some issues that are very near to me, but I will never forget this feeling, how joyous this is, how historic and significant this is.

And this powerful message has even more meaning today ...

(The famous end of Dr. King's speech):

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

14,000 Things To Be Happy About

Years ago, when I was in grad school, I visited a friend of mine from college who was living in Ohio. We went to this amazing bookstore, where she pointed out this book to me. I didn't buy it until years later, but sometimes I pull it out and read through it. It's really just a stream-of-consciousness list of things that made the author happy, and many of them really did make me feel happy and comforted. A few of my favorites:

Brand-new notebooks
The Eastern Seaboard
French Toast, butter, and powdered sugar
Eight hours of sleep
Building a model car
Snow outlining the elements of trees’ architecture
After-shower cologne
Glassed-in cupboards
A cardinal’s brilliance against the snow
The brisk dusk of a late October evening
The cool underside of a pillow
Yard sales
Street musicians
Someone laughing
“The Long And Winding Road” by The Beatles
Eating over at someone’s house
Having a picnic on the living room floor
The smell of the sea
Breakfast cooked over an outdoor fire
Having someone to come home to
Steel drums and street dancing
Handed-down Christmas ornaments
The book that made a difference
Sleepy dogs
White cotton t-shirts
Street food
The hazy Chicago skyline growing out of the horizon
Being glad you have each other
Mozart piano concertos
White Christmas lights
Art galleries
French bread
The Chicago Cubs
Hanging out and remembering why you like each other
People-watching from a park bench
Being motioned to come sit by someone
The smell of old school buildings
Watching a thunderstorm
The Atlantic Ocean
Afternoon naps
New Year’s Eve
The Art Institute of Chicago
Pizza and beer
Taking a shower
Getting a really good haircut
Driving to the beach with the windows open and the radio blaring
Warm, dry socks

As much as I tend to dwell on the bad things that are happening around me, this does make me feel a little better ...

Good News, Bad News

I always like to get the bad news out of the way first. I mentioned a while back that our microwave had died, and that we wanted to replace it with an over-the-stove version - but whoever remodeled the kitchen oh, twenty years ago, hung the cabinets too low. So, we've done without for now, and it hasn't seemed a huge deal.

Yesterday morning I started cleaning the kitchen, and put the oven on "self-clean". A couple of hours later I was back in the kitchen and suddenly heard this buzzing electrical sound. I looked over at the stove, and the was some black smoke coming from behind it, an orange glow, then a flash and a pop - and it was dead.

After it had cooled down, Scott pulled it out from the wall and unscrewed the back panel, and it looks like the "motherboard" (or whatever it's called on a stove) had fried. A call to Sears confirmed that the warranty had expired in October, and we can't get someone out to fix it until Thursday. So, we'll have to get creative with dinners. Last night we picked up teriyaki, but we can't afford to eat out every night. We do have a separate indoor electric grill which I'll use, and a crock pot. We don't have any propane for the outdoor grill, and I probably won't refill that just yet since it's (hopefully) only a couple of days. If there's one thing I've discovered, it's that I can get pretty creative about food when I have to.

Oh yeah, the good news - there's witch hazel blooming in the back yard:

And your weekend?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Matterdays We Can Believe In.

Yeah yeah yeah, this is all over everyone's blog. I never claimed to be original. Just cute.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12 of 12

Another month of the 12 of 12 phenomenon, brought to you by Chad. Best wishes to Chad for a speedy and full recovery!

These pictures were all taken on Monday, January 12, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.

7:41 a.m. Leaving for work. A wet, grey day. Must be January.

7:59 a.m. Paying for a day's worth of parking. $7.48 for 10 hours. Score.

8:00 a.m. Walking the four blocks to work.

5:09 p.m. Wow, it's actually still somewhat light out! Cloudy, but visible. This is Two Union Square, which we designed.

5:10 p.m. The Space Needle seems to have lost its head.

5:28 p.m. Our house. We took down the Christmas decorations this weekend - but Scott wanted to leave the blue lights up for now:

5:42 p.m. Surfing.

5:58 p.m. Marinating chicken breasts for burritos.

6:11 p.m. Fragrant paperwhites blooming in the living room.

6:46 p.m. Scott ripping someone a new one at Dell. His computer crashed and burned - and now everything on his hard drive may be lost, due to their advice. One does not want to be on the receiving end of this mood.

7:01 p.m. Love love love this hand lotion.

7:17 p.m. Stoli loves the view from Scott's arms. Who wouldn't?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Miss Rose and Her Rhythm Percolators

As usual, at the taping of Says You on New Year's Eve, there was a local, original musical group playing before the show, at intermission, and during the "time outs" on the show. We were treated, from the third row, to Miss Rose and Her Rhythm Percolators. Stunning, fun, and just not enough of them. They play 1920's-early 30's jazz, with period costumes, and are fun as heck. Miss Rose plays her vintage ukelele while singing old standards like "Button Up Your Overcoat" and "'Deed I Do", the trumpet and piano players are in fedoras and tie clips, and the bass player swings her hips in her flapper dress and bobbed 'do while plucking away. I swear I was thinking of "Some Like It Hot" and waiting for a flask to drop out of Miss Rose's garter. :)

She was, by the way, wearing seamed stockings and as we learned, a real live garter belt. That's the spirit, Miss Rose! We're going to follow them around like lemmings. Fun fun fun.


The week according to Matterdays:

  • Still have my job. There are a lot of layoffs planned for the next few weeks, mostly here in Seattle. One in our Accounting department, which is so hard to see happen. But my job still exists, for the moment.

  • This is probably because they realize I'm so neck-deep in work that I can't be laid off until I finish some huge projects. Of course, the daily emergencies make those deadlines look impossible. Maybe if I stretch them my job will be safe for a couple more months.

  • We took down the Christmas tree and decorations yesterday. It took quite a few hours. I was dreading doing it, but it's kinda nice now that it's done. Everything's ready for spring. I think next weekend I'll drag Scott to a nursery and start planning the spring gardens, or at least get a new house plant or two. (He doesn't need a lot of dragging). There are paperwhites blooming inside right now, which have me itching for spring.

  • We ordered out and had teriyaki last night. This makes us happy. The lady at the place we order from is undeniably the sweetest person in the entire world, and she always remembers us. She gives us extra sauce on the side and always takes about 5% off of our order for no reason.

  • With the decorations down, I could finally REALLY clean the house. After all the snow and rain lately, we had muddy puppy pawprints everywhere. The floors are mopped, the carpets are steam-cleaned, the laundry is chugging away. These are a few of my favorite things.

  • Scott's computer has gone tits-up. He had a Dell Geek out the other day, but he has to run a diagnostic that literally takes a few days. He's hoping to recover his hard drive, but it's up in the air right now. I need to get an additional hard drive and back up everything, and pronto. Scott's heartbroken to think that his music and pictures may be gone forever. Poor Scott. I hope we can find some of it.

  • Our neighbor E's dog Buster (a Wheaton Terrier) got out of their yard earlier this week and was hit by a car. A Good Samaritan called E and stayed with Buster until E could come and take him to the vet. They couldn't save him ... he died in E's arms 10 minutes later. While Buster and our dog Kitty have had their share of scrappy fights at our neighborhood camping trips, Buster was an adorable and sweet pup on his own. Out heart goes out to E, his wife K, and their daughters C and S. Heartbreaking.

    • And now - some MatterPics:

      Sunday, January 04, 2009

      Thanks for noticing me ...

      Eeyore has always been sort of a mentor for me, but lately I'm feeling more and more like him. I've been depressed and gloomy and pessimistic these days ... in part, I'm sure, to post-holiday blues (our Christmas decorations are still up - I didn't have the heart to take them down yet), in part due to stress at work both from my job and from the fear that's always lingering over my head of being laid off. I'm in a constant state of stress and worry and I want it to stop, please.

      Oh - and it's snowing again.

      Thursday, January 01, 2009

      New Year's Eve - Says Us!

      Yes, Scott and I are writing mirror posts today ...

      Being the big NPR geeks that we are, last night we went to a taping of the radio show Says You. This is the second time we've gone to a taping while they're in Seattle, and it's a ton of fun - more specifically, "a game of words and whimsy, bluff and bluster". We had a great time!

      The show was taped at Town Hall Seattle just outside of downtown:

      Sorry, no cameras inside the hall ... but walking back to the car, a pretty view of St. James Cathedral, in First Hill - just a few blocks from where I lived when I first moved to Seattle:

      We got home just before 11:00, to let the dogs in and make potstickers and turn on the local coverage of the countdown to blowing up the Space Needle:

      (Which, luckily, was slightly better than last year).

      I hope you all had a fun and safe New Year's Eve, and the best of everything to y'all in 2009!