Thursday, May 31, 2007
El Burrito has been running a fever (99 or 100) since yesterday, thanks to his vaccinations last week. Chicken pox, plus the first live vaccines that he's gotten. What fun. He's sleeping an hour at a time, and didn't really sleep at all last night. Joy joy.
I listed something on Ebay today, and it took over an hour because of El Burrito's Fussy Gus behavior. And this was something similar to an auction I had last month, so it was only a matter of relisting the other auction and changing four words.
I'm still undecided about the riding program, which starts in about 10 days. DH's opinion is that I'm afraid, but I'm not sure of what.
We went to Orscheln's Tuesday, planning to buy a helmet and possibly boots and a pair of jeans. No luck. They had 4 riding helmets in stock, 3 small, 1 large. The small? Imagine William Tell's kid with the apple perched on his head. The large felt too loose to me, but then I've never worn a helmet, so what do I know. Also, a farm & ranch supply store with no cowboy boots seems a bit insane to me. But there it is. Dozens of work boots, gum boots, hiking boots, and things that looked like cowboy boots but with heavy-tread soles.
So, tomorrow we're driving 75 freaking miles (one way!) to a Western-wear store. Because even though Boone County is probably the horsiest county in Missouri, and there are two colleges in town with equestrian programs, there's not a tack store in this town (population around 75,000) that I can find. It boggles my mind, really.
Blue moon tonight! If the clouds clear, I may take pictures.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
And now, as promised, our weekend doings:
Saturday - shopping day. As in, the errands and grocery shopping and such that, in the pre-Burrito days, I would do during the week. This week's stops were:
- Chevy's (lunch!)
- Moser's Grocery - cheap soda and chips
- Toys R Us - wipes for the Burrito, baby gifts for a friend (*)
- Westlake's Hardware - tools for the Astroturf project
- Michael's - yarn (with the 40% coupon) - they carry mega-skeins of Sugar n Cream
- Target - looking for a few baby things
- Walmart - looking for the baby things that Target and Toys R Us didn't have
- HyVee - grocery shopping
(*) Toys R Us was an interesting stop. As we were in line checking out, a woman came in and told the cashier that there was a syringe (with needle) and spoon in the parking lot. This store is not in a "bad" neighborhood, but apparently someone was shooting up in the parking lot. Unless you can think of a plausible innocent reason for those two things to be on the ground - my theory is innocent, but pretty implausible. We passed an employee as we went to the car; he'd gloved up before taking care of the stuff, but I think I would have added a pair of tongs to the equation.
Sunday - Birthday party #2. Oy. This one was at DH's parents' place, with most of the siblings (except for one, who never did return our call). I usually get along okay with them, but this time I think I was just in a bitchy mood. Somehow we got onto the topic of El Burrito's eating habits. Mother-in-law and my oldest brother-in-law's girlfriend (who is a grandmother) were shocked and incredulous that El Burrito so far has not eaten any of the following:
- those "dessert" baby foods like blueberry buckle
I was told that MIL and Girlfriend's kids had all had strawberries when they were pre-12 months, and chocolate, and peanut butter, and that one was getting cereal in the bottle at 2 weeks. And so on and so forth. Of course back then, babies slept on their stomachs and no one had a car seat or wore a seat belt, but hey. Since El Burrito is growing well, I don't think avoiding those foods has been in any way detrimental to his health. But they were pretty vocal, and it just got my hackles up. And they stayed up for about 24 hours.
Then we had dinner. El Burrito had most of what for him is a full bottle when we got there, since he was hungry. At dinner, he got to eat all sorts of things - baked beans, mac n cheese, some hash brown thing, jello (with the strawberries! sorted out). Which is fine with me, but I thought DH got a little carried away with quantities, since El Burrito had a mostly-full stomach and this was mostly stuff that he hadn't had before - he's just been eating dairy for two weeks. I had horror visions of him getting too full and things not sitting well.
It gets better, though. Mother-in-law does wedding cakes as a home-based job, and she makes nice cakes for all the grandkids' birthdays. They get an individual six-inch cake for their first birthday, and they can do whatever to it - eat it, stick their hands in it, throw it at the walls, whatever. Which is fine, if you don't make a habit of it. I wasn't crazy about it being a strawberry cake, given that list above, but he didn't eat much of it.
And one of his birthday presents? A half-pound package of those sugar wafer stick cookies. Which he won't be eating. And DH and I don't need them ourselves.
Monday - DH's day off (his company has no holidays from New Year's to Memorial Day). I ran a few errands in the morning while DH stayed with El Burrito. Returned the duplicate romper to Gymboree, got two hats and a flag shirt for the Burrito at Old Navy, a mega-skein of yarn and 3 kitchen tins (70% off) at Michael's, and some cheap soda at HyVee. We buy a lot of soda, all at $5 or less a case. 80% of it goes to work with DH, in his lunch cooler, because otherwise he'd be hitting the soda machines 4 or 5 times a day at $1.xx a pop. This way we save money and I know he's drinking diet instead of leaded soda. I need to work on encouraging more water, but it's a step in the right direction.
I also bought a few things at Gymboree, the store I need to avoid. It's all too cute to resist. Found some cute things on sale, plus an extra 20% off. Pictures coming soon. The hats at Old Navy weren't the success I hoped - the 2T-3T fits right now, and the 12-24 month is too small. So I'll have to go see what they have in larger sizes.
And on Monday afternoon, DH finished the Astroturf project - pictures coming soon - while I managed to feel busy but accomplish absolutely nothing inside. I don't know how I do it, really.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Gah. I want my brain back!!
It was a long weekend, although I don't feel like I got any thing done. Details tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be in a better mood.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Also, from SpaceWeather.com, I found a link to UNESCO's International Initiative in Defence of the Quality of the Night Sky as Mankind’s Scientific, Cultural and Environmental Right. I haven't read the PDF yet, but I'm assuming that the goal is somewhat similar to the International Dark Sky Association.
Progress was made today.
- I tagged and notified four people for the meme - because I can't come up with eight, sadly.
- I scrubbed up the big box of Peek-a-Blocks that I got on Ebay last month. Grand total - 54 blocks from Ebay, plus 12 for El Burrito's birthday, and 6 that we got previously.
- I also washed all of El Burrito's bottles, pacifiers, bowls, spoons, and a handful of toys.
- I weighed a package that may be going to Australia - 3 Roper (tm) shirts that Mom bought me on clearance many years ago. I'm nudging her slowly away from buying clothes for me. I've got more than enough right now, and sometimes our tastes aren't really aligned.
- I'm taking notes from a few books that the library really wants back - they're overdue enough that my account is blocked. No renewing, placing holds, or check-outs til those two go back.
- I won an auction on Ebay for something that I've been looking for for a while. Pictures to come as soon as it arrives.
I'm ambivalent about Lost, because if this show was a book, I would really be skimming paragraphs and skipping ahead a page at a time to see if anything important ever happens. It's an interesting story at times, but there are a few irritating characters (Juliet), one really really creepy one (Ben) and not enough answers to the big questions, like how did the pilot end up in that tree? And why is no one suggesting that Sayid be the leader? Because he may be from "the other side," being former Republican Army, but when it comes to a conflict with The Others, I'd much rather have ex-military Sayid in charge than a medical doctor with issues.
The majority of our TV viewing (which probably needs to be trimmed a bit) will be on the cable networks after this month. With the loss of Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, The Black Donnelleys, and a few others, I can take a few more of the network channels out of the remote control now. I see no reason to torture myself by watching the crap that CW and Fox are planning.
On the other hand, Sci Fi and USA are in charge of some pretty good stuff. Monk is good, and Psych is like an over-the-top Monk at times. Eureka will be back on Sci Fi, and hopefully Dresden Files also returns. Then we've got Deadliest Catch and Mythbusters, and The 4400 if it ever comes back around.
I just need to get over the loss of Stargate, which I've been watching for years, and the changes I've heard about with Stargate: Atlantis.
More random tidbits:
- Ebates is no longer giving their 6% rebate for Joann.com purchases. Hopefully it'll be back on the list before my next yarn order.
- My sister liked the spa washcloths I crocheted her (with some of the yarn from Joann.com).
- Earworm of the Day: Do Your Ears Hang Low? thanks to the Laugh N Learn Puppy that my brother & his girlfriend got El Burrito for his birthday. It's a nice change from Itsy Bitsy Spider.
I'm turning into my grandmother. She could never keep the names of her kids or grandkids straight, even before the dementia set in. Over the weekend, I was mixing El Burrito's name and my brother's name way too frequently, considering that they don't sound alike. DH has done this once, calling El Burrito by one of DH's nephew's names.
- Pam, aka PipneyJane
- Jen at Paso Que Lo Pase, from my horse e-list
- Amanda at Putting Out Fires, who has lovely England pics
The rules, again:
- Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
- Tagged people write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
- At the end of the post, tag 8 more people and include their names.
- Don't forget to leave them a comment and tell them they're tagged, and to read your blog.
Off to play tag now.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
First, the rules:
Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
- I have a Master's degree in Library Science, which I used for a whole 15 months before the micromanaging Boss from H@## managed to drive me away. Tip to the wise: don't get an MLS degree and then promptly settle down in the college town where you graduated. Library students will be a dime a dozen, and they work cheap.
- I wish I'd taken Latin in college. I took Spanish in high school and college, but I was also a Classical Civ junkie, and Latin would have been interesting. I've considered getting a book and teaching myself, but then I remember that I took the astronomy course at Barnes & Noble's University about 8 times and never managed to finish all the assignments.
- I dabble in photography, although I doubt I'll ever make any money at it. But I took some pretty good pictures on vacation in Ireland, and got Photo of the Day a couple of times at the photo sharing site I use. These days, it's mostly pictures of El Burrito, but that will change once we start getting out more. (Photography sample:
- I'd like to enter some of my crochet and photography in the county fair this year, if I can find out who to contact for the "Home Arts" division. I can find the contact for the 4-H entries, but nothing for us grownups. I've got a scarf, at least one hat, and could easily find some photos to enter. Cross-stitch is also a possibility, since there's one project that's almost done. Which I've been working on for 4.5 years now.
- I can spell really well (as long as I don't think about it), which I blame on all the reading I do. However, I occasionally confuse the American & British spellings, and it's all because I read too many James Herriott books growing up. I swear, read something I write, and I'll use "grey" and "gray" interchangeably the whole time.
- I stink at time management and organization, and I'm something of a procrastinator. Right now, I have 1,700 messages in my Yahoo inbox, and probably 4 dozen formerly-blank VHS tapes that aren't accurately labeled. I got wise years ago and stuck the labels on the minute I opened the tape, but whether anything is written on it is a whole 'nother story. El Burrito's feet are dangling over the end of the car seat now, and I haven't even started to look for a new seat.
- I'm a bibliophile and bookaholic. I don't know how many books we own, but I do know that the Big Honking Spreadsheet that lists most of them has at least 3,000 titles. I'll admit that there are duplicates, though - DH and I have similar taste, and there were some duplicates when we merged households. As soon as we move and start unpacking, we'll be preparing for the mother of all yard sales (or Ebay runs). Even in the pre-El Burrito era, I would go to the childrens' book sale at the library and buy some of the things I read when I was younger, and I still re-read many of them, like Walter Farley, Marguerite Henry, and so on.
- I'm a bit of a packrat with a clutter problem, which I seem to come by genetically - my grandparents' attics have always been interesting. I think it's connected to the procrastination and time-management issues. I haven't gone to health-code-violating extremes or anything, but there are a few things that I keep for no reason that I can explain or articulate. Like the cardboard tags from El Burrito's clothing, for some weird reason. Or any container with a lid - if it's a cute little box or jar, I want to keep it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I've read the FlyLady book, and used to watch Clean Sweep for a bit of motivation, but Clean Sweep seems to have disappeared. Hopefully when we move, we'll have some decent storage space, which is a big problem here. And of course, there's the Mother of All Yard Sales in my future.
Monday, May 21, 2007
And figure out the new postal rates for the 4 kinds of First Class mail (which seems a bit oxymoron-ish to me). I've got a lot of books listed on Half.com and Amazon.com, and some of them may get traded at the local used book store.
On to the weekend:
We had a busy weekend. We went down to my parents' on Friday, for my dad's retirement dinner (lunch, actually). He's retiring after 25 years as the bus mechanic & transportation director at the school district that I graduated from, and I think he's pretty happy to be leaving. The school does a catered lunch every year for the retirees, and family is invited, so we attended. The food was good, the superintendent said some mildly-nice things about Dad, and I got to see the few teachers that are still around who remember me (three, I think - my fifth-grade teacher is still teaching, my high school English/Spanish teacher retired this year, and my high school government/geography teacher is teaching part time).
Mom made a scrapbook for Dad, and she's been working on it for six months. She was sneaky, so it was a surprise, and Dad really liked it. So did everyone who got to see it at the retirement, too. She had paper school bus outlines that she sent to all his old bus drivers, former principals, and people like that, and they all wrote something on the bus and sent it back. He got a nice letter from one of the board members that hired him, one of the early superintendents, and a really complimentary letter from one of the Highway Patrol officers who is in charge of the annual bus inspections.
Dad'll be working for a while after his retirement - he can put in 550 hours without pension issues, and they haven't hired a replacement for him yet. They hired one guy, but he washed out - my sister called him "a complete and utter DORK" and she wasn't exaggerating. So, since Dad's the head, and only, mechanic, the school board needs to get in gear and get a replacement, or they'll be waaaaaay up a creek.
Anywho. We also had a birthday party for El Burrito while we were there. That would be Party #1; he's also having Party #2 at his other grandma's next weekend, and a little party with just us this week. He had a very good party. My grandparents (his only living great-grands) came, which surprised me a bit. They got his name very wrong on his card, though.(*) Two of my aunts and one uncle came, two other aunts sent gifts, and one of the neighbors came as well. El Burrito came home with a box full of gifts, six new outfits, and got to eat cake and ice cream (tiny amounts, because I'm trying not to encourage his sweet tooth). He was a paper-shredding fiend at Christmas, but he wasn't interested in paper yesterday. His first gift was a little toy car, and he was totally fascinated with it in spite of the opportunities to tear paper.
And it's sad, but I'm a teeny bit jealous of the kid, because no one's had a birthday party of any sort for me since the one in college. And that was probably not my best birthday party ever. DH takes me out for dinner, and there's usually a birthday dinner at his parents' one weekend, but it's not quite the same. His mom has a birthday dinner for everyone, kids or adults. Nothing big, no balloons or anything, just dinner and cake, and the birthday person chooses the food. But, my birthday is the same week as at least one other person, and mother-in-law sees him more often so he usually picks the food. And, sadly, my birthday has flown under the radar at least twice in the 7 years we've been dating/married.
(*) My grandparents have never spent a lot of time with us. They had six kids, and of those, my parents were at the bottom of their list, because they didn't get to choose who Mom married. (They apparently had a lot of input about some of my other uncles-in-law, although their choices weren't the best - one divorce, one almost-divorce, out of 6.) They were - and are - pretty blatant with the favoritism, although they deny it exists, and even though they only live 12 miles away, I think my brother was about ten before they came to our house. They've bought cars for a couple of my cousins, taken at least one of them to DisneyWorld/Land, and loaned/given more money to various cousins. They babysit (at age 80+, with health problems) for a few of my cousins' kids, because Grandma thought $90/week was too much to pay an every-day babysitter.
I was really shocked when they came to the hospital to see El Burrito, and even more shocked that they've been here to the house twice since then. They come to the hospital here pretty regularly, stop at the mall that's less than half a mile from here, and we never find out until much later. Except for the day that I ran into them at the mall, that is. I'm not shocked that they still can't spell my name, because they get close, and there are about 18 ways to spell it. The name on El Burrito's birthday card, though, was so far off that it wasn't funny.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Apparently the CW heads didn't bother to tell anyone in charge at Veronica Mars that the show was cancelled; they found out when someone from TV Guide contacted them to confirm what the CW President mentioned at the "upfront" (where next season's shows are showcased).
From Yahoo's news story:
You know it's bad when Univision, the Spanish-language channel, is doing better than a wannabe-major network. The CW's desired demographic is supposedly the 18-34 year old group, and yet their non-reality shows seem to be focusing on kids still too young to drive (Everyone Hates Chris, Gossip Girls, etc.) I'm at the top end of their desired 18-34 age bracket, and I'm not remotely interested in watching any of their shows. Heck, I'm more likely to watch Univision and brush up on my Spanish than I am to watch the CW now. There's another channel to program out of the remote control.
The CW had already faced major changes in its second year. The network created out of the ashes of the former WB and UPN had already ended the long-running family dramas "7th Heaven" and "Gilmore Girls." On Thursday the ax fell on "Veronica Mars," which starred Kristen Bell as a wisecracking teenage private eye.
The CW had already faced major changes in its second year. The network created out of the ashes of the former WB and UPN had already ended the long-running family dramas "7th Heaven" and "Gilmore Girls." On Thursday the ax fell on "Veronica Mars," which starred Kristen Bell as a wisecracking teenage private eye." type="hidden"> Corporate parents CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc. had hoped the CW could become a fifth major network by combining the best of its predecessors, but it has often slipped behind Univision in the ratings during a disappointing first year.The new drama "Reaper" features one of the CW's oldest new characters: a 21-year-old. His parents sold his soul to the devil and he's assigned to track down evil escapees from hell.
In midseason, the CW will bring on a reality show, "Farmer Wants a Wife," about a country guy choosing among 10 women fed up with big-city prospects.
Actually, I refuse to watch "reality" shows, because 99% of them have no connection to any reality I've ever heard of. I'll keep watching Deadliest Catch, because that's reality, folks. What the networks label "reality" seems to be some bizarre form of hyper-competitive, vote-each-other-off junk.
Darn it, I liked Veronica Mars. It was like watching Nancy Drew mysteries as written by Joss Whedon and the Gilmore Girls writers, and it was a real kick. (And it was better than the Nancy Drew movie looks to be. Jeez, people, read the books! The previews make Nancy look like a 12-year-old ditz, not the smart young woman that she was.)
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Prologue: AKA The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. So you know where I'm coming from, here's a brief history of "me and finales" in case I make odd references.
1. Good finales. These are the ones that don't leave me wanting to slap the writer. They manage to wrap up the major storylines of the show, without leaving a literal or figurative THE END on the last shot. It's the end of the series, but you go away with the feeling that life "there" is still going on as usual.
- Northern Exposure (if you can get past the Joel-less last season)
- Due South (sort of - the "what happens to X" parts were a bit strange)
- MacGyver - riding off into the sunset was a fitting way to end (or segue into the TV-movies)
2. Bad finales. The opposite of the good ones. They end the show. They may or may not wrap up all the storylines, but you get the feeling that things are over, and if you found your way "there," where ever it is, you'd find empty houses or a vacant lot.
- The Cosby Show - mostly because stepping off the sets sort of broke the illusion
3. The Ugly Finale. This is the one that leaves me in denial, usually because the show was cancelled unexpectedly and we-the-viewer were left dangling over a cliff the size of El Capitan. Finales with a high body count are in this category, as are finales that were so bizarre that I pretend they didn't happen.
- Angel - it was implied, not shown, but the body count was astronomical
- Forever Knight - go ahead, kill off 75% of the cast
- Enterprise - the finale was basically an episode of Next Gen, and I still refuse to watch it again
- Quantum Leap - finale was odd, but that last screen pushed me over the edge
- Earth2 - there's that cliff again
So, my thoughts on the finale. In short, it was okay, but probably could have been better.
There were a lot of good things, and overall I was left with a comfortable feeling after it ended, although I'm still sad, mad, and peeved that we didn't get more time to wrap things up, after wasting half the season on the mess with Christopher. Rory has a job, although it's a job I can see someone getting right out of college. If she'd been working for the Post or Times, it would have been pretty unrealistic. Lorelai and Luke are on the road to being back together. Friday Night Dinners will continue, and life in Stars Hollow will go on. But it felt a bit rushed, since the Lorelai/Christopher divorce wasn't really dealt with.
(And honestly, the Lorelai/Christopher stuff would have made more sense if it had happened during the Luke/Lorelai breakup that happened after Emily & Richard's vow renewal. They were really broken up then, and I'm not sure the bump after Lorelai's freak-out ultimatum would have ended with a break-up, had she not ran off immediately to sleep with Christopher.)
I can live with that. I just wish that life were continuing on the TV screen, Tuesday nights at 7:00.
So, the lists.
- We never saw Luke giving Lorelai the necklace.
- Would Christiane Amanpour really give her business card to a kid in her jammies?
- No mention of April
- No mention of TJ (I realize TJ is an acquired taste, but mentioning him would be nice.)
- Taylor's slightly-nauseating speech at Rory's party
- The Kiss wasn't the last scene. The CW has had a bad bad habit of using the last two minutes of the next show as the promo shown after this episode.
- Rory didn't get a magical job with C. Amanpour
- I think all the townfolk were seen, if not heard, including Gypsy and Morey. Not sure about Andrew or the Troubadour, though.
- Rory & Lorelai finally discussed their situations re: Luke & Logan
- More wisdom from Liz, who may be a flake, but she's not an idiot. Luke should listen to her more.
- Doula made an appearance (and yes, the name is silly, but it's Liz & TJ, so what do you expect?)
- Mutiny at a town meeting!! Yay!! And only six years too late, because someone should have told Taylor to stay home and comb his beard years ago. The fact that Luke has only flung one frying pan at Taylor is a testament to Luke's restraint, especially considering Taylor's role in the crashing of Luke's Diner last year.
- Richard and Emily came to the party, and Richard actually complimented Lorelai. Emily was still prickly, but then we find out that she wants to continue seeing Lorelai. Yes, some people may say it was out of character for Richard to say what he did, but I can live with it. It's about time this family started working on some of their relationship issues.
- Morey sandwich!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
- 16 pounds of recycling left the house yesterday
- The indoor/outdoor carpet project is progressing. We trimmed the excess last night, leaving 3 inches on each side for wiggle room. Now we just have to pull up the old carpet, and staple and stretch the new. Which won't get done tonight.
- I may have a buyer for three shirts I bought years ago (actually, Mom bought them for me, which is why I've been getting her away from the idea of buying clothes for me)
Okay, except for the fact that El Burrito apparently decided that today wasn't a good day for a nap. He fell asleep not too far from the usual time, and woke up 30 minutes later. Argh. Eventually, I decided it wasn't going to happen, and fed him some lunch. We made another try at the nap later on, and it still took most of an hour for him to fall asleep.
Plans for tonight: Tuesday means TV-juggling night. The ACM (Academy of Country Music) awards, Veronica Mars, Deadliest Catch, and the last-episode-ever of Gilmore Girls. I may cry. I need to find the tape with last week's episode of GG; my sister hasn't seen the last few, and I promised to loan her my copy.
Monday, May 14, 2007
El Burrito and DH took me out for lunch Saturday, instead of Sunday. This being Mother's Day as well as graduation weekend at Mizzou, going out to eat on Sunday would have been insane. We went to a little retro-50's sort of diner nearby, since we had a gift certificate to use there (thanks to the credit union annual shareholders meeting, where we get nice door prizes). Their food is affordable enough that we ordered dessert to use up the whole $25 gift certificate. I got a whopper of a 4-inch-square brownie for $1.99.
Also for Mother's Day, El Burrito picked out a card, I got flowers, and I hear there's a box from Amazon somewhere en route. El Burrito and DH correctly decided that I'd rather wait a few days than pay $8 or $9 for shipping.
We worked on a little home improvement project over the weekend. The indoor/outdoor "carpet" on the porch needs to be replaced. It's 20+ years old and looks every year of it. We priced it at Lowe's and Westlake's on Saturday (and Westlakes was almost double the price, unfortunately), measured the porch, and DH went back out to Lowes to buy a piece. He had some lovely luck, too. We need a piece approximately 8' x 20' (the porch is basically a rectangle with one corner lopped off), and Lowe's had a remnant that was 12' x 20' for $1 per linear foot. So, we spent $20 instead of the $80 it would have been if we'd bought straight off the roll.
We spent Sunday afternoon wrestling it around on the porch - we're on the upper level, so we can't spread it out on the ground or anything. It's a nice piece of fake-grass, with no flaws that we can find, so I don't know why it was considered a remnant, but I won't complain. Now we just have to rip up the old, cut the new to fit, and staple it down.
Had dinner with the in-laws Sunday for Mother's Day, as well. El Burrito got to see his cousins, we've got leftover chicken & dumplings for dinner tonight, and we borrowed some stapleguns from my father-in-law for the fake-grass carpet project.
And then I came home and cleaned the aquarium, and tested the water using the test kits I ordered last week. I've been lax in the water-testing department, figuring that the fish are still alive and breeding like rabbits, so they must be doing okay. iwas a bit wrong on that one. Apparently the nitrate and ammonia levels were high before I changed 30% of the water - I need to test again today and see if that helped. It's a 20-gallon tank, and is fairly lightly stocked right now, at least compared to this time last year. Right now I've got 6 zebra danios, 7 platies, and one very large plecostomus. Last year, the platy population was upwards of 30, because they breed like guppies.
Anyway, it's the plecostomus that's creating the overstocking problem. The general very rough rule of thumb is about 1 inch of fish per gallon. The platies and danios pretty well meet that. It's the gigantic 12-inch-long plecostomus that causes problems. And I'm stuck with him. The local pet store is a chain, so they don't do trade ins, and I have no fish-keeping friends who want a pan-sized fish. I need to think on it for a while. And in the meantime, I need to change the water and filter a little more often. Once a month isn't enough for the water quality, and it also helps the funky-smell problem.
There's an internet superstition about plecos. Most people online spell it pl*co, as the superstition is if you spell out the name, the fish will die. It doesn't work for me. I've had Squiggy for 8 years now, and he was not a young fish when I got him.
More on Squiggo later. I'm back to laundry duty and feeding El Burrito.
Friday, May 11, 2007
So we had lunch at our favorite BBQ place, and he & El Burrito stayed in the car while I ran into the library to drop off and pick up. And I left a big pile of coupons in the coupon swapping box at the library, too. That's a small step in keeping ahead of the clutter.
News flash - Gas prices just broke the $3/gallon mark here. $3.059 for non-premium gas right now. It may not be a shock for people on the west coast, but it's a noticeable thing here. Other than the day or two right after 9/11, I don't ever recall gas getting over $3. I'm sure the newspaper will have at least one letter to the editor in the next few days, ranting about gas prices. There's at least one person locally who will always swear that gas is cheaper in St. Louis or the next town up I-70, no matter what. This is directly contradicted by an article in the paper this week, saying that gas in St. Louis is higher because of emissions laws that require them to use a "boutique" blend of gas there. Go figure.
I'm just so so glad I don't work at my library job anymore. That was a lovely 120-mile per day commute. Even with my current car getting 30 mpg when I was commuting with it, or the 34 mpg that the previous car got, it was still a big chunk of money going out. I was stopping at the gas station every third day. I may have been racking up some serious points on my Waldenbooks credit card at the time, but it wasn't enough to offset the gas costs.
And I always thought it was a bit odd that a 1985 Tempo was getting better mileage per gallon than a 1999 Escort. Not a big difference, just 4 mpg better, but at the time the Tempo had passed the 100,000 mile mark. I kind of expected a car 14 years newer to at least match the mileage.
Back to work. Email to sort through, papers to shred, all sorts of fun.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I'm working on my sister's website a little more. It needs an update, and I'm working on the "look" of the background. She wanted blue, and the best color I could come up with then just doesn't do much for me. So I played with Paint Shop Pro this morning and came up with some other options for her.
I got the spacing wrong on 1 and 2, it's supposed to be a dark border down the left edge of the page, not a page that's dark halfway across. But I like the blue on 3 better than what's there now.
And now I'm getting offline, because it's starting to rain again and I hear thunder. We've got a surge protector, but it's a new PC and I'd rather not risk it, you know?
* * * *
And now I'm back online. Another thing I've managed to accomplish lately - I got $2.48 in refunds from Amazon this week when they dropped the price on things soon after I bought them. This is all thanks to a website called Refund Please, where you can enter the things you buy and they'll email you if the price goes down within 30 days. They just ask for your email address, the date, and the item ID number, so I'm not worried about fraud issues. And they've saved me about $5 so far. It would have been more, but I got a bit behind on asking for refunds.
And I think I've got a copy of the Stargate episodes we missed being mailed to us. Only 8 (I think) left until the end of Stargate. :( :(
- Spam email. Nuff said.
- Chain letter emails. I was getting some from a name I didn't recognize recently. Finally thought to do a search in my email program (Eudora) and found out they were from someone I'd purchased from on Ebay about 18 months ago. Sent a polite request to be taken off their list, and we'll see if it works.
- Chain letter emails, part 2. I got one this morning from a relative. She does email *me* as well, unlike some
friendswho only send out the impersonal forwarded junk. This one bugged me because of this:
Once you have been hit, you have to hit 15 pretty Moms.
If you get hit again, YOU will know you are REALLY pretty!
If you break the chain, you'll have ugliness for 10 years,
So hit 15 pretty moms on your friends list to let them know they are pretty (but you know you are beautiful no matter what, mama!)! "
Gee, thanks. So if I don't know anyone else bored enough to bounce this around with, I'm not pretty? Sorry folks, I don't think I know 15 other moms, pretty or otherwise.
She also sent this to my sister, who isn't a mother unless you count the dogs and cat. Which leads to the next thing that bugs me:
- The insane greeting-card industry. Take Mother's Day. I think, in my opinion, that on this day I should send a card to my mother, DH sends one to his mom, and DH buys one for El Burrito to give me. Hallmark, on the other hand, has Mother's Day cards for everyone - mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, nieces, and more. I saw a Mother's Day card from the dog. I don't get it. Okay, I do, it's all about the money. But sending a Mother's Day card to someone who isn't a) your mother or b) a mother at all, makes no sense to me. I don't send my husband a Mother's Day card. You don't send someone a birthday card if it isn't their birthday, or a holiday card when it isn't that holiday, right?
- Having to turn the AC on in early May. We broke down last week. At 10:00 that night, it was 67 degrees outside, but 82 inside. Even with both doors open and a fan parked out on the deck, supposedly blowing cool air in, this place wouldn't cool down. And there was a nice breeze, but not blowing in a direction we could take advantage of. We have a door on the west wall, and one on the north wall partially shielded by the next building, so the air circulation is not optimal (and that's an understatement).
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
And, since we didn't go to the library, we also didn't stop at the thrift store on the way home to see if they might have jeans in case I get the nerve to take those riding lessons. (Thanks for the idea, Jan. Don't know why it didn't occur to me. Duh.)
I also didn't make it to the monthly condo lunch today, and couldn't find my phone list to let the ringleader know.
The Not Getting My Act Together bit also means that instead of doing the shopping during the day (a la the pre-El Burrito days) means that it gets done on the weekends, and it somehow takes all Freaking day, which means no time to do the things we used to do on the weekends - like the bigger errands, house-hunting, and so on.
And we need to spend some time researching and shopping for a new car seat and stroller, since El Burrito is about to outgrow his first car seat. It snaps into a stroller frame, which is the only stroller we've got right now. And no, we don't get out much, or this setup wouldn't have worked this long. Stroller shopping is something I'm dreading, since there are so many insane options to choose from, and there are very very few places locally that carry strollers and actually let you test-drive them in the store. (Walmart, for example, has theirs on a 3-foot-high shelf, tied down, with the front wheels missing. Hard to try one out that way.) Maybe I've been lurking on the diaper-bag fanatics group too much, but when people start talking about buying their 8th or 9th stroller, and mentioning prices upwards of $400, I start to worry.
The car seat will be another pain. Right now we've got one of the seats with a handle, and a base for each car. That's not going to happen with the bigger seat. So, we have to decide: shell out the $$ for two seats, or get only one and swap it from car to car? Assuming we can find one that will fit both cars, since the Escort (aka my car) is smaller than the Taurus. DH takes the Taurus to work, so if I take El Burrito out we go in my car. But for longer trips or weekend errands, we take the Taurus - DH can't drive a stick shift yet.
In other news:
1. An old college roommate just had her first baby, a girl. A few weeks early for some reason involving unexplained low amniotic fluid, and she'll be in the NICU for a few weeks. I plan to send a card.
This bugs me a little too. When I found out I was pregnant, I emailed my friends to let them know the news, and actually sent letters/cards to my two closest friends. Of those two friends, I got a letter from one (with a gift card, which was unexpected). The other friend, who I roomed with for two years and see once a year? Not a peep. Yes, my feelings were (are) hurt.
The friend who just had a baby? Also not a peep, until I and 15 other people started getting regular impersonal announcements regarding her pregnancy. I did get invited to her baby shower, but I didn't get to go (it would have meant about a 4 hour round trip). I've sent periodic emails to her, asking how things are going with school and such, but at most I get an email with a 4 word reply.
(I am also still bugged that of DH's 5 siblings, only one (his sister & her husband) stopped by during my 5-day hospital stay. And her husband works in the hospital, so it's not like it was out of the way or anything. After we came home, same thing. One brother visited on Memorial Weekend, and it ended up costing us $100 because he parked in the neighbor's space, alcoholic neighbor had the truck towed, and brother was too broke to pay the tow bill. The other three brothers didn't even freaking call on the phone. Yes, I need to let it go. Give it another year and we'll see.)
2. My brother-in-law found out that his ankle bone is deteriorating and he'll have to have it replaced in the next year or two.
It's the result of an accident he had last fall. He got a small motorcycle (not one of the big Hondas or anything) to commute on. He went to visit a friend nearby, and while he was leaving to head home, in a residential-type area, some woman backed out of a driveway and hit him. She, of course, had little or no insurance despite driving a new SUV at the time. (Which must have been paid for, or the lender would have required more insurance.) He came thisclose to losing his foot, I guess, and they're still fighting with the insurance companies.
3. El Burrito is having two birthday parties, one at each grandparents' house. On two separate weekends. Which is why this weekend is our only "free" one this month. Because it would be too freaking simple for us to have, say, a house, and be able to have one party, you know. Not to mention, that would be the only way I'll ever get anyone to see my house. Right now, the UPS man spends more time delivering boxes here than our families do.
And now a young man is wanting some attention.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
I guess it's time to see what they go for on Ebay.
Monday, May 7, 2007
- I've got a stack of magazines that are leaving the premises, one way or another. Right now I've offered them on Freecycle. If there are no takers, they get recycled. The library doesn't want them and they aren't worth trying to Ebay them. DH calls it "giving them back to the trees" - it's an attempt to get past my resistance to throwing away anything that's still useful.
- We got the laundry sorted yesterday, and went through a couple of laundry baskets of "stuff" in the process. Now we can walk into the walk-in closet, and there's a basket of Stuff to Get Rid Of, and one of Things to Pack With (i.e. fabric and non-summer clothes that I can wrap my Breyers in as I pack them up).
- We got the shopping done on Saturday, mailed a few pics that Mom needed, and remembered to get Mothers Day cards as we walked past the Hallmark store at the mall.
- As part of the "eat healthier" idea, I finally sliced up the jicama I bought about two weeks ago, along with half a 5-pound bag of carrots that were starting to sprout roots (and grey spots). So I have 2 Ziploc tubs of sliced munchies in the fridge.
I'm still bummed about Gilmore Girls, and about Stargate, especially since my copy of the episodes I missed hasn't shown up yet.
Had some luck at Target this weekend, and found a camcorder case marked down to 75% off. It fits our camcorder perfectly.
We had some weather-related luck yesterday, and didn't get hit with the quarter- and golf ball-sized hail that was in the area. That's nice, because we don't have covered parking, and while it didn't bother me for the Lumina (our former car) to get dinged, the new-to-us Taurus still looks nice, and hail dings would have been a sad thing to see. We did get some heavy rain, and of course the storm hit just as we were ready to walk out the door on the way to a church anniversary celebration. We skipped the celebration and dinner, and watched our worthless local weather channel instead. It's a waste of a channel - it used to show the weather radar about 50% of the time, until they started running commercials and other such junk. Yesterday, with some nice storms coming at us from Kansas, they didn't show the radar until about 10 minutes before it hit here. Too bad for people west of town, I guess.
I've been looking at old digital cameras online. I'm thinking of getting an older Olympus FE series to use as a purse camera, hoping to escape the same Duh moment that led to the injury to the 3020. If I keep an eye out, I should be able to get one for $60 or so. And lately I've been thinking of dabbling in infrared photography for kicks, which would mean shopping for an even older Olympus, hopefully for $40 or so. I haven't been watching those long enough to get an idea on prices, but it's something to think about. Not that I need another hobby or anything.
And that's about it for my world at the moment. Off to do more laundry.
Friday, May 4, 2007
(Does anyone read this, or am I writing for the electrons' enjoyment?)
I got an email yesterday with this year's riding program information. It starts in about four weeks, so I need to do some thinking about whether to attempt it or not. I'm wondering how insane I am to even think about it. I'm out of shape, definitely overweight, and have been on a horse once in the past 11 years. I just put some numbers into one of the online BMI calculators, and it's not a happy thing. Last time I went riding, in Ireland, it took three tries before I could haul myself up into the saddle. I don't think anything has changed for the better in the meantime.
The lessons are two hours each, and depending on which session you take, the lessons are two, three, or five times a week. The prices are different, so it works out to about $16 per hour no matter what, which is nice. But 4 or 6 hours a week, when I haven't been on a horse in years, is a bit daunting. I was hoping to have been at least walking regularly, but it hasn't happened. (I also swore to do some work packing and decluttering this week. Also hasn't happened. It's Friday and I've done squat this week.)
If I'm even going to consider it, I'd need at the least, an approved helmet, boots, and probably some pants. I've only got two pairs of jeans that fit right now, and as much as I love Lee jeans, the inseam is nasty when you think about riding in them. I forgot to dig out my old boots last time I was home, but I doubt they'd fit after 11 years, so a new pair is probably the only option. And I'm not sure a month is enough time to break a pair in, assuming I could find a pair that fit around here. Having wide feet stinks. Finding a pair of New Balance shoes was a hassle, and finding Rockports that fit was a freaking miracle last time.
Plus there's the whole headache of scheduling things, since El Burrito isn't old enough yet to stay home alone. He's almost a year old and has never been left with anyone not-family yet, so we don't have a regular (or otherwise) babysitter or anything. Depending on the session time, DH might be able to vary his work hours a bit, but for a few sessions that wouldn't work.
Yes, I'm a pessimist. I need to spend the weekend thinking about this, and see if I can talk myself into it. Adding up the total costs, both money and the time spent finding boots & a helmet, could convince me to skip it again this year.
Feh. It's Friday, and two hours of Stargate usually cheers me up. But, since there are only 7 or 8 episodes of SG-1 left, I don't see a lot of cheery thoughts for the night.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
"Announcing the final season of 'Gilmore Girls' is truly a sad moment for everyone at The CW and Warner Bros. Television. This series helped define a network and created a fantastic, storybook world featuring some of television's most memorable, lovable characters. We thank Amy Sherman-Palladino, Dan Palladino, Dave Rosenthal, the amazing cast led by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel as well as the producers, writers and crew for giving us this delightful gem for the past seven years. We would also like to thank the critics and 'Gilmore' fans for their passionate support and promise to give this series the send off it deserves."
The former producers (and creators of the show - the Palladinos mentioned above) decided to write the show into a corner last year before they jumped ship, which left the new producer stuck trying to get things back to "normal" this year. Which is why we had to sit through 15 episodes of Luke & Lorelai being apart, plus the whole elopement scam, and enough Christopher to qualify as "cruel & unusual punishment." Ai ai ai. And now, just as things are finally looking up, WHOMP!! Right to the head.
Tell me, please, how they can "give this series the send off it deserves" if the last episode has already been filmed, probably weeks before this crappy news came out? Only two episodes left, and no way on heaven or earth can they manage to pull everything back to where it ought to be. Gah. There are no words to fully express my disgust with whoever decided they didn't want another year of entertainment.
But please, powers-that-be, please don't let it be the travesty that was the finale of Enterprise. Because I don't have enough post-Easter-sale chocolate to deal with something like that steaming pile again. Pity Scott Bakula - the only actor with not one, but two, series finales that I categorically refuse to ever watch again.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Side Note: How can I, a book nut, manage to have $50 worth of B&N cards sitting around for most of a year? How? It boggles the mind. I'll tell you how: I went to B&N today looking for two books, the aforementioned Spanish Dagger, and The Children of Hurin. I wasn't really planning on buying Hurin from B&N, since it's 45% off at Amazon, but I thought I'd look. Well, this is how I can have B&N cards hang around a while: I couldn't find the book there at all. Granted, it's a decent-size store, and their organization scheme escapes me most of the time, but still. It's a new book, pretty popular, and it's Tolkien for pete's sake. How was there not at least one copy in the 3x6 feet of shelf space devoted to various Tolkien books?
Anyhow. Back on track. This afternoon I'm catching up on bits and pieces, like finally registering the new camera on the company's website, getting the disputes of our credit reports taken care of, catching up on last week's email backlog, and generally dealing with bits of paper. Later, the decluttering will begin. I'm fed up with this place (again) - it started when I was looking for two pieces of paper that Mom needed. It took way too much hunting to find them.
We (okay, I) need to get back on track with the weight loss, too. DH has apparently lost 15 pounds recently, which I hadn't noticed at all. Yes, I feel like a heel about it. On the other hand, my weight hit an all-time (*) high Monday night. I can maybe write it off as water retention after 4 days in the car, but still. There's a mental block somewhere, since I can sit and read a diet book (last week was Denise Austin's Tone your Tummy Type) while munching Doritos with lunch. Go figure. Not sure what I think of the book's idea, either.
(*) Yes, I did weigh more during the last month or so of pregnancy. Right now, I'm 15 pounds lighter than I was when I came home. The real kick in the butt was that I weighed myself the morning I left for the hospital. That morning I weighed either 207 or 206. Five days later, I came home with an 8-pound baby and decided to get on the scale again. One freaking pound lighter. I know I was retaining a truly insane amount of $84/liter IV saline (no glucose added, I asked), but still. That's so not fair.
And honestly, I'm still a bit discouraged or mad or something over the last time we really tried to lose weight. Somewhere between the engagement and wedding, DH was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. We cut out non-diet sodas, joined a gym, spent at least 3 hours a week at the gym, and started eating salads with dinner. Not just a typical salad, either. Ours involved half a head of lettuce per person, and were served in a 3-lb butter tub. Lettuce, radishes, carrots, mushrooms, very few croutons, a sprinkle of bacon bits (imitation), and moderate amounts of fat-free dressing. DH lost 30 pounds in no time. People noticed. I lost maybe, maybe, 5 pounds. And that was on a good day, scale-wise. And that bit about "you're making muscle while you lose fat, so you may not have a net weight loss" doesn't explain it either. The only difference I noticed was that I gained just enough leg muscle that my only pair of shorts didn't fit anymore. Other than that, I couldn't tell a difference and neither could anyone else. It was very discouraging.
In other news :) Gilmore Girls last night was one of the better episodes this season. It's finally back on track after the insanity of the past season or so (I blame the former producers for writing their show into a corner that had no exit). Unfortunately, there are only two episodes left of this season, and no word yet on if there will be a "next" season or not, and what form it will have if there is another one. So, thanks to some lousy writing last season, a full year was wasted on stupidity and insanity, instead of a decent show. Sigh. I can only hope for another season, whatever form it takes. Rumors include: a half-season, a quarter-season (8 episodes), a full season without Rory since Alexis Bledel is hesitant, or no season at all. Personally, if Luke & Lorelai can get back on track, and Emily & Richard show up occasionally, I could probably handle a Roryless season. Heaven knows her storyline lately has been vague, and with that timid preschooler voice, I find it hard to take her seriously as a journalist anyway. Long-lost daughter ideas should be left to the soap operas. They have more episodes to devote to the drama.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Day 0.5 - Wednesday:
We left Wednesday evening, and drove down to my parents' house to drop off El Burrito for a weekend of fun with Grandma and Grandpa. We intended to leave here by 7:00 and be there by 9, but we left about 90 minutes later than expected. It didn't help that the weather was uncooperative. It was raining so hard at one point that we were only going about 15 mph. And since it was a small back road, pulling over wasn't an option - the shoulder on those roads is about 6 inches wide before you hit the ditch or the fencerow, so unless you find a driveway you can't get completely off the road. El Burrito proceeded to be a fussy-Gus until about 3 a.m., and would only sleep if DH was holding him. Not a good start, since we had a long drive to come.
Day 1 - Thursday
Left a bit later than planned, again, and drove in the rain until we were somewhere in Illinois. We ended up going up I-44 to St Louis, then out through Illinois, down through Kentucky, and into Nashville. Had lunch at a McDonalds in Mount Vernon IL, I think. I'm not crazy about McD's, but it was our best option. We had a bit of trouble twice with the Mapquest directions. Worst was in St Louis, when Mapquest gave us the right exit, but the wrong side, so we ended up going the wrong way. The other problem was getting to our hotel; the directions involved a u-turn, which was freakishly wrong. I think the problem there was that while the hotel's address was on one street, their entrance was on another street (which to my thinking, means their address should be on the entrance street). We got it on the second pass, though.
We ended up staying at the Best Western near the airport. There was a big marathon in Nashville last weekend, so everything downtown was booked, unless we wanted to pay $300 per night. Ha! The final price at Best Western was just over $50 per night. Now, granted, it's not the best hotel, but it worked. Their free breakfast was pretty sorry, and the light over the desk was pink and gave off about as much light as a firefly. And we forgot to ask for a non-smoking room, so you can imagine the odor. On the other hand, there were restaurants just across the street, and a Waffle House in the parking lot. And the route to the concert venue was impressively simple.
After we checked in, it was dinner time. There was a catfish restaurant just across the street that one of the guidebooks had talked up, saying it was local, good, and very popular. Well, not popular enough, I guess, because when we got there it was closed and out of business. We settled for the Cracker Barrel two doors down, so I still got to eat catfish, but I fail to see the point of driving 8 freaking hours across parts of 4 states, just to eat somewhere I could have eaten here.
Then it was time to figure out what to do the next day, and go to bed. This is where I had trouble. Too much to do, not enough time, and I am still in the habit of taking time estimates from guidebooks seriously. As if the mess in Ireland didn't show me the light there (because honestly, if Rick Steves can really accomplish everything on his sample itinerary in one day, he must drive like Earnhardt or have mastered time travel). We ended up planning to go to the Parthenon in the morning, the Hermitage in the afternoon, and probably Belle Meade in the morning as well since Frommers estimated 30 minutes for the Parthenon.
And after that little headache, we finally got to bed around 1 a.m.
Day 2 - Friday
After a weak breakfast thanks to the hotel freebie, we drove downtown to Nashville's Centennial Park to see the Parthenon. Frommers' 30 minute estimate was a joke. I think we spent at least 90 minutes there, and I took a lot of pictures. It's amazing. For the Tennessee Centennial in 1897, they built an exact life-size replica of the Parthenon, including replicating all the friezes for the facades outside. It was built mostly of plaster, so it was renovated with concrete in the 1920s. In the 1980's, they added a statue of Athena Parthenos. The original from Greece was lost in antiquity, so this one is based on the few descriptions that remain. It's 41 feet tall, and gilded with 8 pounds of gold leaf. "Wow" doesn't begin to cover it. There were a lot of schoolkids around that day, and the preschoolers were much better behaved than the junior-high kids.
After the Parthenon, we went to the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home. DH picked this one over Belle Meade. I'd rather see Belle Meade, as it's a horse-breeding estate and I'm not Jackson's biggest fan (the whole Trail of Tears idea lost him any points he might have gotten from me). We had a little trouble getting there, as we were going by the free map from the hotel. Given that this map had the hotel's street on the wrong side of one arm of the lake, we should have known. The cross street we were looking for did cross the road we were on, but they didn't connect - it went under the parkway we were driving on. We could see the estate, but we couldn't get to it.
We ate lunch at the Hermitage cafe, which is probably the best cafeteria-style food I've had in a while. More catfish, yum! The visitors center was also hosting an art exhibit called the Spirit of Nashville, with scenes done as old-style posters. The estate is picturesque and interesting, though. The tour of the actual home wasn't as informative as it could have been. The main theme of the day seemed to be the antique hand-painted wallpaper, which told the story of some Greek myth that I can't remember. It wasn't the original wallpaper, either. The original was "lost" somehow about 20 years ago - that's all the docent said, "we lost it" but no details other than it wasn't lost in the fire that they had. Anyway, this wallpaper had been found at a summer home in France, and they bought it. Identical to the original, though.
Other than the house, the tour is a do-it-yourself thing most of the time, unless you're in time for the 4-per-day seasonal theme tours. There is a horse-drawn wagon tour that focuses on the slavery aspects, but there was an extra $7 charge for that, on top of the $14 each entrance fee.
While we were there, I got a phone call from an online-friend who was also going to the concert. We had talked before we left, and planned to get together for dinner and ride in to the concert together. As it turned out, we were at the same hotel, too, which made things even easier. We ate dinner at a little Italian place across from the hotel, and drove downtown. We had a bit of a time finding a parking garage - we could see a couple of garages, but thanks to some one-way streets, we had to circle them a few times before we could get to the entrance. The first one we tried was mostly empty (yay!) and only cost $5 (Yay! again).
We ended up at the Ryman about 90 minutes early. We were there to see Loreena McKennitt, who is known mostly to non-fans for a radio-mix version of "The Mummers' Dance" about ten years ago. This is her first tour in 9 years, and the last tour was very short, with only 5 dates in the U.S. and 3 in Canada. So, when I heard that she was touring with her latest album, I said we were going, hell or high water. Thanks to a listserv of Loreena fans, I was able to get tickets during the pre-sale, and we ended up in the front row. (!!!). Okay, actually, there were about a dozen folding chairs in front of us, but we were in the first row of permanent seats. They were worth every bit of the 8 hour drive and Ticketmaster's lousy fees.
Anyhow. We were early, so we used the facilities, checked out the Ryman gift shop (I didn't buy anything), and got our tour souvenirs before the show started. We splurged and came home with the CD/DVD set of the PBS special, a t-shirt, and two posters. One was the standard tour poster, and the other was a special print done for the Ryman concert by Hatch Print, just around the corner. Then we found our seats. The seats at the Ryman, by the way, are church pews, since it was originally a church. Uncushioned pews. Oddly enough, I must have the right size seat for old pews, because I was more comfortable there than most folding chairs I've sat on. DH did not have such luck, though. :)
The show started promptly at 8:00, and was awesome. There aren't enough words to describe the performance. Loreena was amazing, her accompanying musicians were stellar, and the music was phenomenal. The acoustics at the Ryman were great, and I wonder if it's not partially due to the wood - the stage is wood, the seats are all wood, and the main floor, at least (I'm not sure about the balcony) was also wood. You could feel the music vibrating through your feet. We own her first live album and have seen the live performance at the Alhambra on PBS, but even those didn't compare to the full live experience.
The show was a full two hours, plus 30 minutes intermission, including 2 encores. And then our luck got better. Jeanne, my online pal, had also gone to the concert in Asheville NC the previous night. As luck had it, she met another fan there who was a former roadie, and knew where to wait outside in hopes of meeting up with the performers. That information held for the Nashville show, and after waiting outside near the buses for half an hour, we got to meet briefly with Loreena McKennitt herself, and the band. (Yeeeeee!!) I got my Hatch print signed, DH got his program signed, and we got to shake her hand. One lucky guy was having a birthday, and she actually sang "Happy Birthday" to him. She's a very nice lady, although she doesn't seem to seek out the spotlight like some artists do.
Day 3 - Saturday
Not much of a day. We got up, loaded the car, and had breakfast at the Waffle House next door. We took a different route back home this time; we skipped most of Illinois and crossed the Mississippi south of Cape Girardeau instead. We had lunch at the Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston, which was an experience. Their food is good, but they're always busy-busy-busy. We got in line at 1:10 on a Saturday afternoon, and had a 45-minute wait. The parking lot was full of tour buses and church vans, and while we were waiting, they took in a group of 35, and another group of 48. Oy. And that didn't make a dent in the crowd waiting outside, which was noisy enough to really get on my nerves. The piano playing over the loudspeaker didn't help. They do throw the rolls, by the way. We only got one, while we were waiting for our order. I'm not a great catcher, so I got one as the roll wagon went by and didn't try to get one tossed at me. After that delay, we finally got back to my parents' house at 7:00. No one was home, because El Burrito and the grandparents were off at an anniversary dinner for a friend of theirs.
Day 4 - Sunday
Breakfast with the grandparents and my brother (and his girlfriend). El Burrito got to see Toby and Missy, the bottle calves, again, and pet the dog just a bit. Then we drove home, unloaded the car, relaxed for an hour or so, and drove out to the in-laws' place for a birthday dinner. We got home for good about 10:30. We spent at least 24 hours driving over the four days, but it was worth it.
The bad news we discovered when we got home was that the VCR had mutinied. It's been acting up lately, denying that it has a tape in it and such. That's what it did while we were gone, and I didn't notice the flashing "timer" light before we left. So, thanks to the mutiny, we had no tape of Stargate and Atlantis to watch last night. I managed to borrow a copy from someone online, but I'm looking for a new VCR this week. I can not wait until we move and can dump cable, sign up for satellite service, and get a Tivo-like device. We'll still need a VCR for the old archive, but a Tivo-ish job with a big hard drive will make things a lot easier. (Because, see, I have this habit of not labeling video tapes. Which causes problems when looking for an hour or so of tape to reuse, or trying to find something I taped last week.)