Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sliding to the library

We managed a trip to the library today, in spite of rain and freezing rain. El Burrito slipped twice on our sidewalk, but didn't land hard, and I successfully made it across the library parking lot on my feet. No one else was slipping, so I think my new walking shoes must just be lousy on wet pavement.

We only returned 2 DVDs, and didn't check anything out today. We did return quite a few things last week, when we made it to the library on better-weather days, so I'm down to only 35 items out, 12 on hold, and one that the library can't find. I had the new Pern novel (Dragonheart) on hold, and got a notification that it was in for me to pick up. However, when I got to the library, they couldn't find it on the shelf. That was last Friday, and as of today it was still missing. :(

Anyway, we spent $6 at the sale carts on some goodies, including some DVDs and CDs. Then we came home very carefully, because the rain was starting to freeze. Crappy weather.

Another good Photo blog

The Boston Globe has a photo section called The Big Picture. Great photos, a new topic every week.

For December, they're doing a special Advent calendar, with a new Hubble space photo every day. Photos 1 and 4 are amazing, but I think 10 and 18 are my favorites. The Eagle Nebula is one of my favorites (along with the Horsehead Nebula). If I ever have unlimited wall space (and money), a gigantic print of the Eagle and/or Horsehead may end up on the wall.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gotta be wrong

The "height predictor" at Babycenter.com predicts that El Burrito will be 5 foot 4 when he's 18. I'm betting it's because I guessed at his current height & weight. I hope he's taller than me in 16 years, even though he's on the lower half of the height chart right now.

In other news, El Burrito got to really play in the snow for the first time ever today. I was hoping to build a snowman, but the snow's too dry. It'll be gone tomorrow anyway - prediction is for temps slightly above freezing, with rain/sleet/freezing rain during the day. Bleah.

Pictures to come, I've gotta download them from the cameras, but first I'll need to shift enough stuff from C drive over to D drive. C is getting full, as the PC keeps telling me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter is here

No library trip today, thanks to the weather. We got some sleet and rain on Sunday night, and then an inch of snow overnight last night, plus another inch or so today. No school yet this week. I'm not sure how the roads are, but it's below freezing and breezy, so El Burrito and I stayed home today. I planned a bit ahead, though, and we made a quick library run on Sunday to return a few things.

El Burrito is in a mischievous mood lately. He's discovered the joy of light switches, so he's been turning lights off and on for a few days. And he's also decided that it's fun to put things where they shouldn't be. Toy dragons in the toaster oven, for example.

He scared me a bit yesterday, though. He was napping and I took the opportunity to grab a shower. I had to wait a bit, so the water heater could recover from the last load of laundry. I was almost done when I heard crying over the baby monitor. I rushed to rinse the shampoo out of my hair, but before I could manage it, I heard Burrito feet running down the hallway. And there's a sobbing Burrito standing in the doorway. He managed to fall, climb, fly, or levitate out of the crib. Didn't hurt himself, but I was hoping we'd be in a new house before he discovered that he could get out of the crib on his own. I'm not sure why he woke up, either, since he had a good hour or so of his usual nap-time left to go.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Worst Instruction Manual Ever

I've found my nomination for the worst instruction-manual writing in the world. Seriously, this thing should win a medal. (Or a good thwap to the head, because there's no reason to encourage this crap.)

It's the instruction "manual" - actually just a 4-sheet fold-out thing that desperately needed to be sliced and stapled - for our new programmable thermostat. It's amazingly, irritatingly bad, especially since it seems to be well-written at first glance. No clues that it was translated from English to French to Swahili to Klingon and back to English before it was printed. But it took two adults, both with Master's degrees and good reading comprehension, over an hour to figure out how to program the bloody thermostat last night. And I'm still not certain that we got it right.

Here's the first and most frustrating example. I got the manual last night and found the sheet with the "Programming the Thermostat" section. Start with setting the time, which is less than 1/8 of a page. Easy peasy, I thought. Yeah, right. Step 1: Press "Menu" then "Time" button once. Hmmm. Menu, check. Time. Time, time, where's the time button? There is no time button. Six buttons, none marked "Time" anywhere. (Actually, the buttons aren't marked at all on the thermostat, just on the LCD screen and on the diagram in the manual.)

After some muttering, half an hour, and DH's involvement, we figured out the problem. To get to the point where one of the buttons functions as a "Time" button, you have to go through the insane mess on page 4, where you use the Menu button to choose one of 14 (yes, Fourteen) Menu Configurations. All with cryptic descriptions, and I still can't read the list and tell you which one to use when you need to set the time. So that Step 1 is more like Step 5 (or 6, if you add "Threaten to yank the thing off the wall and hook the old programmable thermostat up again" in there).

Then there's the whole craziness of the "hold" option that you can use to override the program. The screen has "Hold" in two places, both of which seem to indicate that the program is, indeed, on hold, if you read what passes for a manual. But, in practice, one "Hold" means it's on hold. The other "Hold" just means that the button kinda-sorta next to the "Hold" icon is the button you push to put it on hold.

I think, anyway. I was fighting with that part at 1:30 a.m., when I accidentally hit the Hold button and couldn't figure out how to un-Hold the stupid thermostat. We didn't freeze or roast in the night, though, so I think DH's interpretation is right.

Anyway, the results are:
  1. I'm very glad we kept the old thermostat
  2. I won't go out of my way to take the new one with us when we leave.
  3. I know what company to never buy a thermostat from.
  4. I may write a short note to our HVAC company and tell them to consider using a different company's product.
  5. I'd better write a few notes on the "manual" because we'll forget half of this by the time the batteries run down and the settings get wiped.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More crazy Burrito stories

So, what has El Burrito been up to?

He's been telling me - and other people - that he's Clifford the Big Red Dog. A little girl asked him his name at the library last week. He usually answers this one with "I'm 2 years old" for some reason, but he told her he was Clifford. Most of the time, I'm Cleo and DH is T-Bone (from the Clifford television series), but one night DH was Cleo.

He asked for, and ate, "trees" (steamed broccoli) at the condo lunch today. He didn't eat it all, but about a third of it. The rest of it got lined up on his mat, and probably would have been loaded into the toy truck he had with him. He also mooched a few bites of my pork tenderloin, which was a first for him.

He wore his Santa hat at the lunch today, by his own request. He found it in the box of decorations, and wanted to wear it the other day.

He had a great time playing with my hair on Sunday. I was combing it out after I washed it (it air-dries), and he decided that my hair was wind chimes and he was going to make the wind chimes go "bing bing bing" by waving his hands through my hair. He did that for probably 5 minutes, if not longer. On Monday or Tuesday, he did the same thing with the bead garland I was sorting out for the Christmas tree.

He's not an angel all the time though (no matter what my mother thinks). Lately, he's poured a soda on my lap, harassed my houseplants unmercifully, tossed things into the toilet, started a no-stroller rebellion, and been more than a little hard to live with sometimes. He fell in love with a pedal tractor at the farm store last weekend, and was a bit upset that he didn't get to ride it around the store.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday again

Another (cold, rainy-sleety) Tuesday, another visit to the library.

I love my library. When I was a kid, we didn't have a public library in town. We had a regional library, an hour away, and they sent a bookmobile out every 10 days (Wednesdays and Saturdays). It was okay, but there wasn't any good way to search their catalog, for example, and find out what they had. You were limited, more or less, to what was on the bookmobile. Online catalogs and weekly visits are so much nicer.

Anyway. Today's numbers: 39 items out, 9 on hold. Plus one book is overdue (I've got one chapter left) and someone else has the Doctor Who DVDs on hold, so I need to watch them this week.

Returned:
  • The Irish Tenors Christmas CD
  • You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (remastered version, which I didn't get to compare to our original version)
  • Mr. Monk goes to Germany
  • the National Geographic Photography Field Guide (very little on digital cameras, but good theory and practice)

We returned a DVD, a CD, and two books, and checked out three books. Then we spent $6 on the sale cart (CDs and books, one VHS, but no Pooh Bear books that El Burrito was requesting insistently). Apparently the library is getting out of the VHS game and going totally to DVD. I noticed a week ago that their video/DVD section was down to half a row of VHS, and 3 rows or so of DVDs. It used to be the other way around. I can't say I blame them, DVDs hold up much better (unless some twit lets their dog chew on it, which I swear I've seen evidence of) and they take up less shelf space. But there are still some odds and ends that aren't out on VHS yet, and I hope they're keeping that in mind.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Burrito update

El Burrito spent quite a bit of the last few days trying to drive me nuts. He went nap-less for 3 days straight, figured out he's tall enough to reach the light switches now, and proved pretty solidly that shopping without a cart is a big, giant, humongous, screaming mistake. One that I shouldn't try to repeat again, because it doesn't work.

It also puts a great big crimp in my sans-DH holiday shopping, because he's also started not wanting to ride in the stroller, and because the stroller isn't really practical in a few mall stores (the ones that like to cram as much as possible into their available space). I put back a couple of things at the local Tuesday Morning because they were out of carts and have decided to put the breakable stuff near the cash-wrap. So long, jigsaw puzzle of the Space Shuttle. (Oh well, it's not like I have the time or space to do a jigsaw with more than 6 pieces these days.)

He's also been getting into all sorts of mischief and making some unbelievable messes. My poor houseplants may not survive, especially my purple shamrocks. In short, he can be a little pain sometimes. Of course, if I try to tell my Mom this, she doesn't believe her little angel could do anything wrong. I got no sympathy on the napping; I just got told that I didn't take a nap until kindergarten. I can believe I didn't nap as a toddler, but really, even when I was tiny, there must have been naps.

Enough ranting. Chuck is coming on soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I love my library

(And I will be very sad if we end up moving out of the county, because then we'd have a different library. Unless I committed subterfuge as far as our mailing address, or used the in-laws' mailing address and started getting my library notices by email. Anyway.)

Today's library trip: We returned 2 books and 2 CDs, and came home with a bag of library stuff and another bag of book-sale books. It was a good day. We now have 42 items checked out, which is the highest it's been for a while, and 8 books on hold. Gotta get caught up.

Returned:
  • The Complete Peanuts, 1957-58
  • Bloom County: Toons for Our Times
  • a Charlotte Church CD
  • an Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole CD
We came home with a stack of library materials, including the complete 4th series of Doctor Who on DVD, and a couple of holiday CDs. Total: 7 DVDs, 2 CDs, and 2 books.

From the book sale, I scored three Bloom County collections, although it turns out I already have one copy of Bloom County Babylon (darn), and some picture books that I may share with El Burrito. He'll probably like Paddle-to-the-Sea best (written by Holling Clancy Holling, and I wonder what the parents were thinking with that name). We also found the Sesame Street Cookbook (apparently a steal at $6), and El Burrito picked out a couple for himself, including a Charlie Brown Christmas collection. He didn't ride in his stroller today, which I went along with because it's the big monthly sale in the Friends room at the library. The other sales are in the lobby, and it's too easy for El Burrito to make a run for it, especially with the automatic doors. The Friends room is a little more contained, if he decided to try a jail-break. He did pretty well at sticking close to me, and not rearranging too many books. He also got to say hi to his buddy the volunteer, and give her a picture that he drew for her. (All right, I suggested it, and pushed him to do it, but whatever. I wish I'd remembered a Christmas card for her, since she's given him at least a dozen books so far. All used, but still. She's a nice lady.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Schulz

Today would have been Charles Schulz's 86th birthday. Happy Birthday, sir, and thanks for all the fond memories.

I've been reading the Complete Peanuts lately, thanks to the library. I finished the strips from 1959 today, and I've got the next 2 volumes (4 years' worth) from the library this week. It's interesting to see how things evolved over the years, and how many little things turned up later in the television specials. There are some pretty good biographical essays and interviews in the books, too.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is, in my opinion, the gold standard for the Peanuts specials and for most animated holiday specials. It's the closest to perfect that I can think of right now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another day at the library

Today's library numbers: 34 items out, 11 on hold.

Returned a book and a CD today, came home with 7 books and 2 CDs. We checked out two Clifford books, a couple of National Geographic photography books, and the next two volumes of the Complete Peanuts.

Returned:
  • The Ship Avenged - the last hold-over from my McCaffrey Quest trivia contest reading
  • a jazz CD with Vince Guaraldi as the pianist (it was a quartet, don't remember the name)
Then we spent $4.50 at the sale carts, because 50 cents for books-on-CD is a good deal. I even spent 50 cents on To Kill a Mockingbird, although it's missing one of the 7 CDs.

Lousy Customer Service

Okay, I've got to rant about this somewhere. I just had one of the lousiest customer service experiences ever.

We've got both a smoke alarm and a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm. The smoke/CO alarm is from First Alert. It's kind of interesting - it doesn't just beep, it talks to you. Including telling you that the battery is low (and where the alarm is located), so you don't have to search the house for an invisible cricket that won't shut up. You get to hear "Warning! Smoke has been detected! Evacuate! Evacuate!" (It sounds a bit like a Dalek.)

We re-installed the combo alarm last month, after the new furnace was installed. We hadn't been using it for a while, but I forget what beyond-annoying thing it was doing. I made a special trip to the store last month for fresh batteries, since we weren't sure how stale the batteries around the house were. Last night, at some unholy hour, we heard "Battery is low in the hallway." Stupid thing never talks during the day, it's always when we're sound asleep.

All right. Those batteries are less than a month old, and I was a little cranky about the wake-up call, so I went Googling this morning. First Alert had a recall on some of their models for a similar problem, but ours wasn't one of them. They don't believe in email or contact forms, so I called them today in spite of the non-recall. I figured it couldn't hurt, and someone might at least say "Sorry about that." or something.

Yeah, right. I was told, after waiting on hold for 7 minutes, that they recommend only Energizer batteries, and if I was using anything else, they can't predict how long the batteries will last. Otherwise, tough toenails. Not even a "thanks for calling" or anything.

All right. It's not mentioned on the back of the alarm (contrary to what the CSR said) and I can't find the manual right now, but it is mentioned in tiny, camouflaged white-on-white raised type inside the battery compartment. But still. I bought Duracells, not some $1-a-dozen generic crap that's been sitting in a warehouse for a decade. Duracells with a freshness date of March 2015. Duracells that still send the battery-tester arm waaaay over to the upper side of "Good" after only 3 weeks. I'll put some fresh-ish Energizers in the stupid thing, but if this happens again, I'm returning the alarm and finding another company.

Makes me even happier that the smoke alarm is hardwired and we don't have to mess with this kind of insanity so often.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Library Visits

Why is the library busy on Tuesday mornings? No clue, I just know that we had to park in the overflow lot again. At least it wasn't raining. :) And I get a bit aggravated at people who do the parking-lot vulture routine. Someone today was sitting in their car, blocking traffic flow, waiting for a family to back out. They weren't even in the car yet, so it wasn't a short wait.

Anyway, on to today's library score card: 31 items out, 10 on hold.

We returned 7 books and 2 DVDs last Thursday, and 3 more books today.

Today we returned:
  • Living the Not So Big Life - never finished it, it was too deep for me right now
  • The 4400: The Vesuvius Prophecy
  • don't remember the third one
Then we picked up some books on hold (3 books, 1 CD), spent $6 at the sale carts on some goodies for El Burrito, and came home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why I hate shopping for shoes

I tried to buy a new pair of shoes this weekend (New Balance walking/whatever "tennis" shoes), and realized why I hate it so much.

Our first mistake: no stroller. So DH was riding herd on El Burrito at JCPenney while I tried on half a dozen pairs of shoes. Just three models, but various sizes. My current shoes are a 9 medium, the ones that I think will fit are a 9.5 wide in that model. Other models, a different size fits best. Go figure. Same brand.

After an hour, I finally get tired of trying to keep an eye on DH, El Burrito, my purse, and everything else. I decide on one model, and ask if they have my size in the back. Nope, sorry. No worries, I think, I'll check online and order them there. On the way out of the mall, I stop in at one of the shoe-only stores. They don't have a 9.5 either. In fact, they've only got a dozen pairs total of that model in stock.

That should have been a Giant Freaking Clue, people.

I checked the JCP.com website when we got home. 9.5 D is not even an available option. Joy. I Googled everywhere. No joy, unless I wear a size 6.5 narrow or a 13 medium. Then I checked New Balance's website. The model I want, 643, doesn't even appear there. I've emailed NB's customer service, but it seems like it's been discontinued. The most irritating thing is that they seem to change models so often, and I really wish they'd have some sort of conversion chart. Just tell me, is a 643 roughly equivalent to a 645? And where does the 603 fit in, because it looks similar to the 643 in the pictures at JCP.com, but it's an online-only item, shipping ain't cheap, and I'd rather not have to burn money ordering and returning things that don't fit, just because I can't try them on in the store.

So, after spending an hour trying on shoes, I'm no better off than when I started. I'll get to do the whole thing over at some point, and who the @#^^ knows when that will be - shopping with El Burrito and without DH is impossible, when it comes to clothes.

And that's why I was so frustrated last night that I was in a truly filthy mood, managed to teach El Burrito a few words he shouldn't know, and didn't fall asleep until 3 a.m. I still haven't heard back from New Balance, either. I'd settle for some explanation of their numbering system - do they number by purpose (running shoes are 5xx, walking is 6xx, etc), are sequential numbers similar shoes, or is it all random and I'm totally out of luck? (My current NBs are 552 and 608, but they're both a few years old and the new 608s look nothing like mine.)

In short, I hate shopping for shoes. And I don't have a choice - my current NBs are losing the sole, and my casual/dress shoes are too small now. Always have been, actually, I was just not in the mood to replace them.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today's lesson

Today's lesson:

Always, always, ALWAYS thaw meat in a container - plate, bowl, baking pan, whatever. Do not fool yourself into thinking that the repurposed Walmart shopping bag will keep a thawed roast from bleeding all over the refridgerator.

Ask me how I know this. Go on. Ask.

It's because we tossed a roast in the fridge to thaw a few days ago. DH popped it into a plastic shopping bag first, to contain the leaks. I watched him do it, and thought at the time that it might not be enough, but I planned to cook Mr. Roast the next day (before it was fully thawed) and got distracted before I put a plate under it.

Skip forward a couple of days. Early this morning, my tired self reached in to get Mr. Roast ready for the crock pot, and found a nice bloody mess. Joy. At least it was on the bottom shelf this time. I only had to clean up one glass shelf and the crisper drawer (which, in our house, is full of chocolate in various forms, and two boxes of butter/margarine). Last time, we put the ham on the top shelf. Ham juice all over the fridge, top to bottom. I spent all morning cleaning it up, and the whole place smelled like ham.

This time, the only casualties were some out-of-date cheese sticks that should have been tossed months ago. The margarine seems to have been sealed enough to keep the blood out. And luckily, the foil on a giant-size Caramello bar is sealed around the edges now. I spent an hour or so scrubbing bloody juice off the glass shelf, washing the apples (even though they were in a produce bag), and cleaning up the chocolate chip bags.

The fridge is cleaner now. That's progress.

And now I'm off to read the Shuttle launch blog, since I don't get NASA TV and the news channels don't think a launch is worthy of air time anymore. (I gotta find a full-size copy of that image with Endeavour in the moonlight from the first link. It's probably amazing in a bigger size.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday at the library

As of today: 39 items out, 8 on hold.

We returned today:
Came home with 2 library books and spent $2.50 at the sale.

Then this afternoon I finished Shopping for God and am working through Paradox of Choice and volume IV of the Grantville Gazette. We'll have more to return Tuesday, now that the McCaffrey Quest is over. I just couldn't carry all of them today and still wrangle El Burrito.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Random question

Is it odd that I can tell the difference between Coke & Pepsi, and between diet and regular soda? I've had people tell me that diet soda tastes exactly the same, and many people quote studies saying that in a taste test, people can't tell one from the other. All the same, I would bet money (and I'm a tightwad!) that I can tell Coke from Pepsi (although I don't care for either as diet), and that most diet sodas are obviously different from the regular version.

That aside, Diet Sunkist is so far the best tasting diet orange soda we've found. The other diet oranges were just blah. Still looking for a good diet grape, and if Welch's would make one, I would gladly hand them money on a regular basis. So far, Diet Rite White Grape diet is the closest we've gotten, but it's still not as grape-y as a good Welch's. Sigh.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Found!

Found!!

A certain Burrito boy got very lucky today. He just doesn't know it yet (he's napping).

We stopped at Michaels today to check the parking lot, on the off chance that our lost car might still be in the parking lot, belly-up and blending in. No luck. (Also no luck on the witch-hat cookie cutter that I passed up yesterday. Sigh.) Then we stopped at Target to see if they might have stocked up on Cars (tm) in preparation for the holidays. No luck there, either. Home we came.

So, after he was napping soundly, I went back outside and started wandering around the lawn, hoping to spot a little blue car in the grass. I made it about 80% of the way around the building, found some piles of dog poop (which are supposed to be cleaned up when deposited), talked to one neighbor who asked if I was hunting for night crawlers, and was about to call it a lost cause. Then I decided to check the grass along the east sidewalk, even though I would swear up and down that we didn't even walk up that way as we came in yesterday.

And Bingo! There was a slightly damp Miss Sally, belly up in some grass. She's on the kitchen counter now, and I'm going to have to decide whether to give El Burrito the good news right away, or let him suffer a bit so he'll maybe stop tossing things down the hill when he gets mad.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Missing: One Car

Lost: one small blue Porsche car.
Missing some paint on the corners. Has some taco cheese in the wheel-wells. Answers to Miss Sally or "Mommy's Car." Lost somewhere between the checkouts at Michaels and the car in the parking lot. Or, possibly, hiding in my car well enough that two searches haven't found it yet.

* * *

El Burrito managed to lose Miss Sally twice today. The first time, he was lucky - a cashier at Michaels found her in the cart after we left, figured it might belong to Mr. Charming, and had it waiting at the checkout when we came back in to look for the missing car. I noticed El Burrito's missing car as I was buckling him into his seat, so we just got back out of the car and went toy-hunting inside.

However. Somehow, between the checkout lane and getting out of the car at home, Miss Sally disappeared again. I don't know if he tossed her into a display bin outside the store, dropped her in the parking lot, hid her in my car, or possibly flung her into the grass here at home. I've been all over my car, inside and out, twice, with no luck. I even looked under the hood, since a Certain Someone has found a really neat new hiding place for his cars - he perches them on the grill of the car while I'm trying to wrestle everything into the back seat.

I've even called Michaels, in spite of how embarrassing it would be to have lost the darn car not two minutes after finding it the first time. The sales associate who answered the phone offered to look in the parking lot, but didn't find her, and took our phone number in case she turns up somewhere. DH is stopping on his way home, too, to check the lot. If she landed upside down, the black undercarriage would blend in with the asphalt.

Otherwise, either we'll be going to Target tomorrow hoping for a replacement, or El Burrito will find out early that sometimes things get lost forever.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's done

El Burrito and I went to our new polling place on the way home from the library, and got that done. We have the option of an electronic ballot, but I prefer the paper ballot and filling in the ovals, especially with a squirmy Burrito along for the ride. (Plus, I think the Scantron type ballots are probably both the easiest to use, and the least likely to have issues - most everyone's been filling in ovals since grade school, no hanging chads or other weirdness to worry about, no possibility of computer glitches.)

I'm not sure who will end up winning anything, local or national, other than the uncontested local races. I'm cynical enough to think that in some cases, neither candidate was a clear "best" or "better" choice. Sometimes, it feels like flipping a coin will be just as valid a way to pick who to vote for, especially when candidates spend more time slinging mud and accusations than they do convincing me why I should vote for them.

I occasionally wish that we had a "none of the above" option - a way to confirm that I didn't skip that race accidentally, and it's not that I couldn't decide who to vote for, it's just that I believe that neither clown was worthy of my vote. (Not talking about specific clowns here, just in general.) Sure, you don't have to vote in a race, but there's no way to tell if a non-vote was an accident, a moment of severe indecisiveness, or a "pox on you both" sort of thing.

Now it's just a waiting game. While I hope (really hard) that we don't have the long drawn-out agony of the 2000 election, I also kind of hope that it's not a landslide victory in some cases. Somehow, I think a closer count might help remind the winner to work with everyone, not just the people on the "winning" side. And God, I'm so sick of the divisiveness going on, the idea that if you don't vote a certain way, you're un-American, that you're either A or B, with no room for any other options.

I'm not sure where all this garbage is coming from. I don't remember elections being this crazy when I was in high school. Maybe it's just an unfortunate by-product of 24-hour news channels, Internet information overload, and the fight for ratings. When I was in high school, most people didn't have satellite or cable (rural area, folks - 3 broadcast channels, 4 if the weather was right), and I don't think the big news channels had hit their stride yet. Or maybe I've just been suffering through too much Fox News.

(Fox is usually DH's news channel of choice, being a Republican/conservative. He says his family conservative, I say Republican, based on the opinions I've heard. They won't touch a Dem with a 10-foot pole, no matter who's running against them. Personally, I'm registered as "independent" and tend to vote both sides. I'm more liberal on the environment and related things, but financially conservative, and mostly believe that the government should keep their noses out of a lot of things. I've rarely seen any governmental entity that could work within a budget. I'd probably be more Libertarian, if there were any to vote for around here.)

And thus ends my political ramble of the day.

Library Day!

So, it's Tuesday again. Also Election Day, but that's a whole nother story.

Today's library numbers: Returned 1 book, checked out 6. 38 items out, only 8 on hold. (Apparently there's a time limit on how long you can be on the hold list. I've had a crochet book on hold since May or thereabouts; it's not on my list anymore. I guess they've figured out that it's lost. So now I guess I'll get it via ILL.)

Returned: One Last Little Peek - a Bloom County/Outland collection.
Checked out: 5 Anne McCaffrey books, to prep for McCaffrey Quest 2008. I'd like to beat my score from last year. Considering I did my Quest mostly on the drive from MO to GA, it should be do-able. However, once again I'm stuck with using books from the library, since 80% of my books are packed away in storage, and most of the other 20% are in the "I know it's here somewhere" category. Google is also helpful, although last year I was getting an awful lot of hits that were passages from various McCaffrey novels mixed in with chunks of spam and p()rn.

And we spent $3.50 at the sale.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Welcome, Great Pumpkin!

The Halloween Report:

The costume was finished in time (although the ears could use some tweaking - they fall forward too easily). The only thing I didn't manage to do was come up with a clover and Who-speck. El Burrito had a visit from my parents during the day, which led to a late and short nap, and also meant I didn't have time to paint a cotton ball for the clover.

(Photo: El Burrito with his jack-o-lanterns from last year (left) and this year.)

For Halloween, we went trick-or-treating at Hyvee again, and then out to DH's parents' house for some treats. Horton got some nice compliments about the costume, and we were the only elephant there at the time. (There was one other Horton at Hyvee, apparently - they took pics of all the Treaters and had them posted on a wall so you could pick up your kid's picture. Other Horton had a different costume, it might have been a generic elephant. It may have even been the elephant costume that Old Navy had a year or so ago - it looked a lot like our ON mouse, but with different ears.)

After we got home, the Great Pumpkin came to visit. We piled all of our pumpkins into the chair (we had one real pumpkin and a bunch of craft pumpkins) and covered them with a blanket. Then El Burrito closed his eyes and said "Where are you, Great Pumpkin" or something like that, while I stuffed his Great Pumpkin gifts under the blanket.

(Photo: El Burrito and his Pile O' Pumpkins)

The Great Pumpkin didn't bring the blue vacuum cleaner that El Burrito kept mentioning. He did bring a Webkinz beagle (promptly named Suzie Puppy after my brother's dog), a K'Nex Cookie Monster (half-price grand opening coupon from Michaels), a book called Pumpkin Pumpkin, and a handful of Safari animals (also from Michaels).


The gifts were a hit, so we'll probably be doing another Great Pumpkin visit next year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In other news

Random bits of news that caught my eye:

Busy week

Well, the new furnace, AC and water heater are here.

Somehow, even with a week's notice, we managed to be without heat on the coldest day (and night) of the month. Of course. (It must be connected to my keen ability to always move into and out of the dorms on the hottest day of the month.) It was down into the 20s on Monday night, and only in the 60s on Tuesday. We meant to get up and turn the furnace on for half an hour or so before the install guys got here, but they knocked on the door early. We've been keeping the house at about 73 during the day, but with no heat, 68 was the best we could do. El Burrito and I went to the library and got warm in the car. And, since we couldn't get into the kitchen to cook, we had takeout from the grocery store cafeteria.

Anyway. It was fairly uneventful day. They found a leak in the gas line outside (loose connection on the main line) and had to call the gas company. Also had some issues getting the water heater to drain well. No surprise there, it had 23 years of sediment gunking it up, and I'm surprised it hadn't died already. Finally got it to drain with some air pressure. So we're now the proud owners of a shiny new furnace, AC, and water heater. The water heater is much quieter, the furnace is noticeably quieter but still audible. We ran the furnace with the doors open for half an hour - the heat exchanger is coated with oil at the factory, and it made a lovely stink as it burned off.

DH is a little worried that someone will be bothered that our AC unit outside is a few inches taller than all the others. I told him that I'd be glad to tell any complainers to go find something better to worry about. It's a condo thing - buildings all the same color, we all have to have doorknobs of a specific size and color, et cetera. If someone wants to gripe about the AC not matching the others, I'll tell them they're free to buy us a matching unit. Otherwise, go away.

El Burrito was very clingy all day, I guess because there were strangers running around with power tools and large bits of HVAC stuff. He napped on DH's lap, and spent most of the day with me on the couch while I worked on his elephant ears. He wasn't very clingy today - the same kid who doesn't want me more than six inches away sometimes was gladly scampering around out of sight-range at the library today. Fickle child. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween

El Burrito is pretty certain that the Great Pumpkin should bring him a blue vacuum cleaner for a Halloween present. Given that he still turns into a Cling-on when I get the vacuum out of the closet, and really didn't care for the toy vacuum at Toys R Us, I think maybe he's confused somewhere.

So far, The Great Pumpkin will be bringing a book that we found a the book sale(Pumpkin, Pumpkin), a stuffed animal (either a Webkinz beagle or the Bath & Body Works free lambie), and possibly a handful of toy animals from Michaels.

I'm still working on the costume. Got a bit done yesterday while the furnace guys were here. The ears are sewed together (two layers of felt) and stuffed, the tail is attached, and I un-stuffed the eyes and stitched them down. I still have to do the trunk and sew the ears to the head. The trunk should be fairly easy. DH was playing around with the fleece, and found that if you roll it up, it looks amazingly trunk-like. It'll just need to be seamed and cut to the right length. I may sew some felt toenails to the feet, and I need to find something pink for the clover and speck. DH found the tub with the Halloween decorations, and there are a couple of green pipecleaners that will be a great clover stem. With an hour or so of focused work tonight, I should make some good progress.

Speaking of the decorations tub, I'm pretty sure there's another Halloween tub somewhere. I know I got some mini jack-o-lanterns that light up, and a set of candles from Hallmark (cat, ghost, and skull, I think). But we found the jack-o-lantern lights and a few other things, so we're doing good. Now if El Burrito will just forget that he learned how to plug in the light-up jack-o-lantern. He was very impressed with himself for figuring it out while I wasn't looking, but I'd prefer that he didn't fiddle with electricity for another few years.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday at the library

Tuesday's library numbers: We returned 2 DVDs and 4 books, came home with 2 books and 2 DVDs (new Charlie Brown episodes to watch, yay!). We now have 31 items checked out and 12 on hold.

We returned:
  • the Easy Pilates DVD that didn't get watched
  • the Horton Hears a Who (animated version) DVD
  • Mr Monk and the Two Assistants
  • a Skippyjon Jones book
  • Touch and Feel Farm Tractors
  • a Caterpillar (tm) farm-equipment counting book
Then we spent $7 at the sale carts (El Burrito insisted on having a book of his own), stopped for take-out at the grocery store cafeteria, and came back home to our heatless home.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall is here

And it hit fast.

We went from days in the 60s to a freeze warning last night - 31 degrees. All the houseplants are inside now, taking up a good chunk of the living room, and now I have to find a way to keep El Burrito from digging in the dirt again. I'll have to rig something up to keep the Christmas cactus cool and dark; they're starting to bloom right now, but they don't like a lot of heat.

Luckily, the new furnace will be installed tomorrow (along with a new water heater and AC). Just in time, since we weren't comfortable with leaving the old one on overnight, even with the talking CO2 detector. (Seriously - instead of beeping, the thing talks to you.) We've been turning the heat on for 20 minutes or so at a time, but leaving it off most of the time. We're an upper unit, though, so we get a lot of bleedover heat from the downstairs and next-door neighbors.

Turns out we probably won't get a lot of efficiency improvement in the furnace. The new one will basically be a 23-year-newer version of the old one, because it has to fit into this tiny utility closet, and there aren't many models that will fit into the available (tiny) footprint. If we had two more inches of space, we could get a big improvement, but it's just not workable. On the other hand, there will be about a 30% improvement in the AC unit. Not sure about the water heater, but I'm guessing that our 30-gallon model is probably down to 15 gallons by now - hard water, and as far as I know, it's never had any of the periodic draining that you're supposed to do.

(Oh, and gas has dropped again. $2.35 now. I doubt it lasts, though. Won't surprise me if it shoots right back up in about a week.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Politics and Toddlers

The background information: DH watches a lot of news. Mostly FoxNews, being from a family of serious Republicans (who apparently believe anything and everything that's said about Obama in chain-letter emails, but I digress. And I'm not a Republican. More Libertarian/Independent these days.).

Which means that El Burrito has been exposed to some news. And that DH wasn't too impressed when El B was walking around saying "Marak Omama" for a while. What can I say, it's a name with some rhythm to it. Then we found out that El B. can sort of recognize both McCain and Obama (although he called a random grey-haired guy "John McCain" in the parking lot one day). Last week, TVGuide Channel was showing clips of Sarah Palin on SNL, and the kid pipes up "Sallah Palin" or something close to that. Yep, he can recognize her too. Not sure about Biden, he doesn't get as much air time.

That's when I told DH that a) we watch way too much news and b) I can't freaking wait until this rotten election is over. Seriously, it seems like it's been dragging on forever. I wish we could limit campaigning to the six or nine months before the election.

But wait, it gets better. Apparently last weekend, while I was at the book sale, DH and El Burrito had some sort of discussion about politics, socialism, and general philosophy. I didn't know about this until Wednesday.

Wednesday afternoon, out of the blue, El Burrito walks over to me with an armful of toy cars and says "I don't want Marak Omama to take away the rest of my cars."

I swear to you, that's exactly what he said. I had to make him repeat it a couple of times to figure it all out, because he's still a little mumbly (takes after his father's side of the family on that). I told DH about it when he got home, which is when I found out about the political discussion that I missed on Saturday. Apparently he was trying to explain socialism and politics to a 2 year old, and toy cars was the best way he could find.

Yeah, we watch too much of what the news channels pass off as "news" these days. And I really can't wait for the election to be over. I've got a week and a half to finalize my voting choices and find something to do on Tuesday night other than listen to Fox/CNN/MSNBC all freaking night.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little note: gas prices

I keep doing a double-take every time I drive past a gas station. I filled up last weekend, for something like $2.79. Gas today (standard, not premium) is $2.49. It's been a dime lower every time I go out lately. Freaky. I could have saved about $3 if I'd waited a few days to get gas.

Yeah, our IRA statements are going to be decidedly unpleasant, but gas is getting cheaper. All told, I'd rather it be the other way around. (And either way, I'm insanely glad that I gave up my 160 mile-per-day commute. I was driving a car that got 34 MPG routinely, and still had to buy gas every third day.)

Time warp

All right, I'm stumped.

On book-sale day at the library, El Burrito and I can be at the library by noon, stop for a romp at Shelter Garden on the way home, and be home before 1:30. On Storytime day, we're at the library at 10:30, romp in the Garden, possibly stop at one store on the way home, and can't seem to get in the door before 1:45 at the earliest. Even accounting for an hour of errands and shopping, we're losing time somewhere.

At any rate, we're going to the Garden at least twice a week lately. It's about the best place I've found so far to let El B run around and have some fun, and we're quickly running out of decent weather for the year. I'm not sure what we'll do when it gets cold and nasty in six weeks or so. They close the Garden when there's snow, but other than that, I guess we'll just bundle up and go romp anyway. Now, if I can just get him to stop chasing the squirrels before he finds one that chases him. It could happen - there are twits who like to feed the squirrels out of their hands, and a few of the critters are getting a little bold. It's only a matter of time before they get pushy and obnoxious.

(Two of DH's co-workers were walking one day; one of them was 9 months pregnant and was trying to hand-feed a squirrel. The other co-worker had to tell her that maybe it wasn't such a good idea. And last week, I saw a woman prompting her kid, maybe 7 years old, to do the same thing. Twits! They can crack a walnut with those teeth, a little skin won't stop them if they get grabby or can't tell food from a finger.)

The Garden isn't as interesting this time of year. The waterfall is shut off, the ponds are drained, the koi are vacationing somewhere indoors, and all the annuals are gone. Empty flowerbeds aren't that picturesque. Even some of the perennials go inside for the winter - they've got some pretty large banana plants and elephant ears. I imagine they'll be cutting the roses back soon; they pruned some of them already this week, and cut down a mostly-dead Japanese maple that I thought would be on the short list. Their Japanese maples got smacked around hard by the ice storms and weird freezes last winter, poor things.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Costume update

The costume is underway. Pictures to come later.

  • I took the mittens off the mouse costume, and re-hemmed the cuffs.
  • The tail is loose. Just have to decide whether to cut it off, or try to take it out of the seam. I'm leaning toward cutting it off as close to the seam as I can get. The lining makes it hard to get at the seam from the inside, so re-sewing the seam would be tricky.
  • I braided a new tail out of grey yarn.
  • I've got an outline for the ears that I need to cut out of felt. Traced around the ears on the store costume for a basic start.
Here's the odd part. I fought with Meijer's website, trying to get to the returns screen. No go. Something to do with not having an account when I placed the order, I suppose. So I called their handy toll-free number. No wait time, and a helpful CSR. Here's the weird part - I don't have to return it for a credit. I'm supposed to destroy it, apparently. Still waiting for the email confirmation, but that's what she told me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday at the library

So, library day (twice, actually).

We returned one book, didn't check any out, and spent $7 at the sale cart. El Burrito got a couple of goodies, and I found a Lord of the Rings fold-out map and Thomas Cahill's Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea (to get a Classical Civ fix), among other things.

Boring day, right?

For reading material, since I keep forgetting to update the List - I read Thin is the New Happy last weekend, and am working through a biography of Roger Tory Peterson right now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Goings-On

Recent (and upcoming events):

Fall is almost here. Frost warnings for later in the week. Which means the houseplants are about to end their little summer visit to the porch. And I'll have to rearrange the living room to make space for them. (I swore we'd be in a house by now, and I'd have room for the plants.)

The HVAC guy is coming to do an estimate for the new furnace and AC tomorrow. So tonight will be spent getting the place presentable. It's not "call the Health Department" messy at the worst of times, but it is, well, embarrassingly cluttered and messy. Toward the slightly-humiliating end of the spectrum, even though I figure these guys have seen worse, if they're doing furnace checks for any length of time.

We took El Burrito to a corn maze over the weekend. Pictures to come.

The library's Friends group had their annual children's book sale, and I scored some amazing stuff. Three C. W. Anderson books, two that I'd never heard of, all in decent shape. The first book in Shirley Rousseau Murphy's Dragonbards trilogy, which I've wanted for years, but never bought online. Most of the 12-book "Sesame Street Library" set for El Burrito, plus a tractor book and a stack of Sesame Street Little Golden Books. Nine Serendipity books. Two Lynn Hall books, including Tin Can Tucker. Another copy of Little Britches, since I read the covers off the first two. Oh, and the second day, everything was half-price. Hardbacks for a quarter, paperbacks for 12.5 cents. Heaven for a book fiend.

And then there's some lovely stuff going on with DH's family, but more on that later.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Changes!

El Burrito and I did some shopping on the way home from storytime yesterday.

(Side note: Stopping at 2 stores should NOT turn a storytime at the library trip into a 3.5 hour ordeal!)

When Michael's sent me that email yesterday about a Grand Opening? They weren't kidding, folks. I'd noticed that the sign had changed from a red logo to a black logo. I'd seen the industrial-size dumpster out back, and the semi-trailer parked in the side lot for weeks. I knew something was going on.

Yeah. They've practically gutted and rearranged the whole store. I had to do three laps of the store before I found the felt we need for the Horton costume. Yarn is where the classroom used to be (it's totally gone). Frames are where the yarn was. Scrapbooking stuff is where Floral was, and I don't really know where the Floral Department ended up. I never did see it. The scrapbooking section is now knee-deep in bead stuff, including loose bins of individual beads. The crafty-type stuff (felt, foam, sequins, etc.) is now in a bunch of little shelf units scattered around, and sorted by age group, so it takes forever to look for something.

The yarn section seems to be the same size, but the needlework section has been decimated. Floss and needles now, some basic Aida cloth, but no kits at all. :( Hobby Lobby just got more of my browsing time. Honestly, though, I've sworn off cross-stitch purchases for a while. I've got half-a-dozen kits, and those would keep me busy for more than a year. One kit would, actually - it's a gorgeous tall-ship on a map background, but it's something like 22x28 inches. Freaking huge, people. If I'm lucky, it'll be done before El Burrito gets married.

Anyway, we came home with some craft pumpkins for El Burrito's Great Pumpkin fix, some strings of beads for suncatchers (hardest thing to find Ever), and the rest of the fixings for a Horton costume. Grey felt, grey paint for accenting, and grey thread to sew it all together. (They've added a tiny sewing notions section, which is a good idea.)

Household fun

It's been a kind of expensive year, as far as upkeep on Casa de Dragon. We seem to have hit the 20-year wall, where everything starts to sputter out in concert.

First it was the microwave that spontaneously quit, although without combusting or shooting sparks across the room. That led to replacing the dishwasher and stove along with the microwave. The stove had two iffy burners, and it was all 20-year-old original equipment, so we just had everything replaced at once. Now we've got matching appliances, a slightly quieter dishwasher, and a stove that still has a funny smell when we use it. But at least all the burners work.

Today we had the second HVAC check-up of the year. We pay a subscription fee, and the company sends a guy out twice a year - once to check the AC, once for the furnace. They clean the filter, which is a metal jobbie way way back in the guts of the furnace, and make sure everything's looking right. Back in May, the AC was a touch low on Freon, for the second year in a row. Today, joy of joys, it looks like the furnace is leaking a tiny bit of carbon monoxide. Very low, not enough to have to shut down ASAP and get a hotel room until it's fixed, but (as the furnace guy said) it's not going to fix itself. The furnace was built in 1985, according to the date stamped inside it. The AC was likely installed at the same time, since they're interconnected. Furnace Guy says 10-15 years is a good lifespan for a unit, so we've gotten an extra 10 years out of ours, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a top-of-the-line model to begin with (judging from other little shortcuts taken when these units were built).

So, it seems that we've got some more fun to look forward to. DH's opinion is to go ahead and replace the geriatric water heater while we're at it. They're all shoehorned into the same utility closet, and we may as well take care of everything while we've got the gas shut off and the washer & dryer pulled out of the closet.

Luckily, we've got money in the bank, so it won't be a big financial burden. (Reading the IRA statements from Vanguard is depressing, though.) And, with a 20-year upgrade in efficiency, our utility bills may go down a bit. Not enough to recoup the cost right away, of course, but it'll be interesting to see what happens with the gas & electric bills. We won't (hopefully) be around long enough to see the difference in the AC's electric use, but we're getting into heating season now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bah, Humbug

What does it say about your life, when the only birthday card you get in the mail (during the whole week of your birthday) is from your insurance agent? And the only birthday emails are from automated programs at companies like Pampers and Michael's Crafts?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Yes, DH will have a card for me tonight, and Mom sent me 3 about a week and a half ago (one "from" El burrito). But it still sucks when the actual day is basically ignored by everyone other than DH.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Halloween fun, part 2

Looks like we're going with plan C.

Sis didn't find anything Horton-y or elephant-ish in Detroit, but she did see a mouse costume at Old Navy. We stopped there after dinner tonight, and for $15 got the base of an elephant costume.

I'll have to take off the mittens and tail (if I can - it's sewn on from end to end, not dangly), and possibly the head if it won't fit Mr 95th Percentile Hat Size here. But it's the right color, warm enough to wear without another layer underneath, and seems to be pretty well-made. It's even got feet. Tomorrow we're off to Michael's and/or Hobby Lobby in search of grey felt. A couple of socks for a trunk (thanks Jan!), a yarn tail and topknot, and some felt ears, and we're in business.

I can trace around either our plush Horton or the hood from the other costume and get the ears about right. I've even got an idea for using two layers of felt and some stuffing to make them 3-d. Then all we'll need is the clover. I wish there were some red clover growing around here, that would be perfect. (El Burrito picked me a bouquet of red clover two weeks ago at Grandma's, but we didn't bring it home with us and I don't think it would mail well.)

(Would you believe, the costume was $15 at the store, $7.99 online. Plus $7 shipping, of course, so it's a wash.)

Halloween fun

It looks like I may be taking my first shot at a home-grown Halloween costume this year. Fun! (Sarcasm, there.)

El Burrito is on an elephant kick, so we asked if he'd like to be Horton for Halloween. "Yes" he said (although he'll say yes to almost anything). So, DH and I went hunting around town for a Horton costume, had no luck at six stores, and ordered one over the weekend from Meijers.com, since they were having a sale. Well, we ordered the non-Deluxe version and it was delivered today. And, quite honestly, I'm glad I got it cheap, because if I'd paid $30+ for it, I'd be even less thrilled with it.

It's blue. Pale, baby blue. Meh. It's made of the flimsiest, practically see-through fabric I've ever seen. And while it opens all the way down the back, there's just one tiny piece of Velcro to hold it closed. Oh, and to top it off, it's not the right size. I'm pretty sure El Burrito doesn't need a "5-7 yrs" sized suit. Now, the only part of that that Meijers is responsible for is the size, because their website was pretty murky on whether the costume was using the Baby, Toddler, or Child size chart. Should have emailed, I guess. Other than that, it's the fault of whatever company tossed this thing together. I paid $30 for a Cookie Monster costume last year, and it was better quality than this one. He'd still be wearing it around, if he could fit into it anymore. Horton, as is, wouldn't last a week.

So. There's a Deluxe version out there, but it's running about $50, plus shipping. ($36 if I get it at Meijers) Or, we can go the DIY route. Which is how El Burrito and I ended up at Walmart this morning, searching for grey pants and shirts in his size. Garanimals fit the bill, although the 3T pants may be kind of big. $7 for pants and shirt, $2 for a skein of grey yarn. Now we just have to hunt down some grey-ish felt and see if my very dusty Home Ec skills can produce a pair of ears, tail, and a trunk. As a backup plan, my sis in Detroit is going to her local Halloween store to see if they might have the Horton hat or ears at a semi-decent price, although a little boy in a headband might look odd.

Did I mention that I have no sewing machine handy? And that my Home Ec classes resulted in two trips to the doctor? Oh, and two nice scars (three, technically, since one scar spreads over two fingers). At least I've got a thimble now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another library trip

Tuesday's brief report: Returned 3 books, I think, came home with three books and a DVD. Currently have 30 items checked out. Spent $7 at the sale cart.

And returned the lovely $100 ILL book that was incorrectly overdue.

The short version: I requested a book (either Confessions of an Organized Housewife, or Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofeld, - one seems to be an updated version of the other) via Interlibrary Loan (aka ILL), which costs me 50 cents, to see if I wanted to spend $6 or so on a used copy. Somehow, it was mis-coded in the circulation computer; it was due back to the library on 10/21, but the computer was told 9/21. Since I didn't check it out until 9/25, you can see the problem. I got a bill for it over the weekend, which blocked my account to any more renewals or check-outs. It also gave me a shock, because they were going to charge me $100 if I'd lost this book. The cover price was $10.95, and while I realize that it's out of print, I also know that there are 82 copies on Amazon, starting at the low price of $0.01 plus shipping.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This pretty much nails it

Check this cartoon out. (It's today's Non Sequitur.)

My sentiments exactly. I'm so tired of the news and political crap right now, and I can't wait for the election to be over. Not that things will improve, but at least I won't be hit with political ads every time I blink. The news channels are hashing and rehashing two topics, politics and the economic mess, and they're doing more fear-mongering than anything useful. It's insanely depressing, both to hear what's going on, and to see what our news media is down to these days.

And to top it off, Opus is retiring next month.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday in the Rain

So, another library trip to put on record.

Today's stats (after the trip): 35 items checked out, 5 on hold. We returned 2 CDs and 3 books, and came home with 2 DVDs and 3 books. El Burrito specifically requested the garbage trucks "CD" (DVD, actually) that we had checked out, oh, about six months ago. We didn't find it, but we did find one about buses and planes. It's part of the same series, which unfortunately means a slightly irritating host, but I'll survive. There have actually been two hosts for the series, both named Dave. They're both a little too goofy for my liking, but kids seem to go for it. They need to work on their facts, though - I know definitely that a seed drill doesn't have a third bin for dirt to scatter over the seed and fertilizer. That's what the little wire finger-things are for.

We returned:
  • Chant
  • Chant Noel
  • The Whistling Season (this year's OneRead book, which I never finished)
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Astronomy
  • Hollywood Science
We also went to the book sale; this was the first sale of the month, so it's the bigger sale that El Burrito's buddy's usually working at. She was there, and glad to see El Burrito as usual. She'd forgotten the book she had for him, so she let him (or me) pick a book out for him and she paid for it. She's a really nice lady, and I plan to have El Burrito draw a picture for her. We'll take it next month and give it to her.

We found some good books today, and spent $26.50. Part of that was for my books - the big finds were two Will James books and a nice copy of Frog, the Horse that Knew no Master, from the Famous Horse Stories series. I paid $8 for it, but it's gone for more on eBay, and the cheapest copy on Amazon right now is $14, so it was a good deal. I'd like to have the whole set, but that'll take a while to collect. Otherwise, El Burrito found some Pooh and Clifford books, among other things. And there's an autographed Marguerite Henry book in the silent auction that I drooled over briefly.

Then we stopped at Office Depot and the dry cleaners, and made it home at 2:00 for a very late lunch.

Friday, October 3, 2008

An inauspicious start

It may not be a good Friday today.

As of noon, I've been thrown-up on twice, and El Burrito and I are both on our third set of clothes for the day. In retrospect, waiting an hour before I started that load of vomity laundry would have been a good idea.

Oh, and the house has a faint odor of sour milk and banana now (El B's breakfast).

(El Burrito's not a vomity kid so far. He was the king of spitting up when he was on a bottle; even after we switched to soy, he'd sometimes spit up an insane amount of formula, for no reason at all. But since then, he's only thrown up twice, I think. Once was my fault, when I tried to get him to eat his first gummy vitamin.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Library again

Today's library numbers: 34 items out, 7 on hold. We returned 4 books and checked out 3. And there are 2 CDs to return next time, after I read the liner notes.
  • Mr. Monk goes to the Firehouse
  • Without a Map
  • Better basics for the Home
  • The complete book of activities, games, stories, props, recipes, and dances for young children - Not quite what I was expecting; it's geared for teachers, and I just want some new songs to sing. "Itsy Bitsy Spider" is getting old.
I'm still waiting for Donna Kooler's encyclopedia of crochet; I've had it on hold for months now, since May at least. There's a scarf pattern in it that I'd like to see, according to Ravelry. I'm thinking their copy is lost somewhere.

We spent $3.50 at the book sale, El Burrito scored some good finds today. (We missed the copy of Corduroy somehow - I was the first one at the kid's cart, and didn't see it. But then I missed Horton on my first browse, and we've got a paperback copy of Corduroy. I'm putting a hardcover copy on El Burrito's Christmas list, though, since he reads it a lot.) We found a nice copy of Horton Hears a Who, plus a Richard Scarry book and a couple others, and a VHS for me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Renaissance Festival 2008

Warning: Lots of pictures ahead.

Our RenFest trip in pictures, 2008.

We left at a decent hour (8:30) and were in the Festival grounds by 11:30. (We were delayed by a pit stop at Feldman's Farm & Home, which I like to call "the last indoor plumbing for 500 years" - although there are flush privies at the Festival.



We started off with a music performance by Tullamore, a Celtic band from Kansas City. We've managed to see at least one of their shows every year that they've been at RenFest.


We spectated a while at the elephant and camel rides, since El Burrito is on a bit of an elephant kick.

He saw the elephant eat a whole watermelon!



We saw an awesome water feature for sale; only $7900.00, but someone put a lot of work into it.


Elephant sitting in one corner.
Very large dragon in the other corner. Didn't get a pic of the smaller dragon.


And a wicked-cool lion fish in the fourth corner.


El Burrito got to run around in the petting zoo area. He wasn't interested in much petting, but he liked the running around part. It was fenced, and not much poop to worry about, luckily. Mostly sheep, a goat, 2 pigs, and a pair of llamas. It's a hoot to hear El B. try to say "mama llama."


Then we watched the bird display, presented by the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis.


This is a Harris hawk, native to the southwest.




A lovely juvenile female peregrine falcon, so new to the sanctuary that she didn't have a name yet and didn't get to swoop over the audience.


A barn owl, who did get to do some flying, but I wasn't fast enough to get pictures of it.



The bataleur eagle, native to sub-Saharan Africa.


The hooded vulture, also from Africa.


He also got to do some flying maneuvers.


And last, but not least, Twig the screech owl. I somehow didn't prep any pics of the raven for the blog. Can't remember his name, but he would take the donations and stick them in the donation box. Talented.

There was a stage show before the birds, and El Burrito still remembers the dragon. I forgot to take a picture of that, though.

And El Burrito fell asleep while we made our last privy stop before heading out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Again (again)

Today's library stats: 27 items out, 9 on hold. We returned 4 DVDs and 5 books, and came home with 2 DVDs, 2 CDs, and a handful of books. (If we move out of the county when we get a house, I will seriously miss this library. And may claim to live with my in-laws just to keep my library fix, if they don't have some sort of arrangement for out-of-county people.)

Returned:
  • 3 Doctor Who DVDs (series 2 and 3) that I didn't get to watch (El Burrito and DH seem to control the TV lately)
  • a Caillou DVD that El Burrito didn't care for, which is odd since he likes the PBS show. He wasn't crazy about the mechanimated cat and turtle/frog (?)
  • The Diamond of Darkhold - 4th and last in the Books of Ember series. I'm waiting for the movie; we'll see how many "changes" are made
  • Peg Bracken's Window over the Kitchen Sink - a memoir, more interesting because she grew up in Missouri
  • Mayhem in Miniature - a "cozy" mystery; the sleuth in question does miniature dollhouses as a hobby
  • 2 tractor books that El Burrito picked out
And we spent $2.50 at the book sale.

We tried the library without a stroller again today, since the stroller was in DH's car and he was at lunch somewhere. Luckily we found a good parking space, and it didn't go too badly. Well, except for a certain Someone making two laughing escape attempts while I was trying to shove our books into the tote bag and juggle my purse at the same time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ren'sahnse Bestibuhll

A.K.A. the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, which is where El Burrito spent his Saturday.

Pictures coming later. I think he had a good time, although he didn't really care for riding in his stroller so much. He did love the petting zoo, mostly because it was a fenced area where he could run around a bit (we didn't pay for pellets to feed the critters, because I didn't want him to get mugged by a pushy sheep and freak out). He saw a dragon, elephant, camels, sheep, two llamas, lots of raptors, and a poodle trimmed to look like a dragon.

Next year, we'll watch the jousting.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This boy of mine

Whatever else I say about El Burrito, he's a polite kid. We've been working on "please" and "thank you" since he was born (being a good example, you know) and he's started saying both without being prompted.

Lunchtime yesterday:

"Thank you, mommy"
"Thank you for what?"
"Thank you for putting the chicken in [the toaster oven]." (Roughly paraphrased, I know I got a word or two wrong, but I was a little astounded at the time.)

Later, I got thanked for helping pick up his crayons, and for rolling out his play rug - although he was the one who rolled it out on the floor, I just stood there.

Yes, he irritates me sometimes, and I'm working on that (on me being irritated, specifically). The not-taking-a-nap thing on Monday really griped me no end. But he's polite, darn it, and darned cute when he's being polite.

Now, if he'd just not grow up quite so fast. Honestly, it makes me sad. Every time I think we've got things figured out, he grows up, hits another milestone, and I'm back to Square 1 (or 2). Starting the baby food, switching to "real" food, crawling, walking, you name it. Now we're thinking of potty-training, plus he's talking more and better than ever. Which means I've gotta watch what I say more than ever (not just the swearing, but other stuff too).

I'm here with him, alone, all day every day, and I still feel like I'm missing out on his growing up. Like I'm not paying attention to him or something, even though it's not like I ignore him. I read to him, talk to him, color with him, you name it. It just feels like I don't remember any of it. Maybe it's just my crappy memory, because I swear sometimes, if I don't write it down or take a picture, it might not have happened. I don't seem to have those vivid memories people talk about. I can't remember what El Burrito's first word was, or when he took his first steps. I remember very little of his birth. Sure, the drugs may be involved there, but I tend to sort of block out really stressful things. The weekend I found out my horse had died is mostly a blank; ditto for the first really bad boyfriend-breakup week.