Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Library day, or Wow, posting two days in a row!

Library day statistics: Returned 3 books and a DVD, came home with 4 books. Spent $8.35 at the sale cart, for which I had to write a check, since I had a whole $5 and DH was off playing with El Burrito.

Current totals: 44 items out, 4 on the wait list, and 2 that are overdue enough that I need to watch/read and return them this week.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reading for the year

So far, I've read 168 books in 2009, not counting the tons of books I read to El Burrito. I was kind of hoping to hit 200, or at least 175, but this is good enough.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas again

I probably said this last year, but I swear, I will not go through this again next year. We left the mall at 10:35 on the 23rd - in a drenching rain, I might add. And we still have three things to buy at the grocery store tomorrow before we're officially done with the Christmas shopping. That's right, once again we've put things off and are shopping on Christmas Eve. We had dinner at McDonald's, which is SOOOO not on my "Top 100 places to Eat" list. Meh.

Technically, we're not done, because DH and I aren't really done buying for each other. I gave up and told him I couldn't come up with anything good. He's getting 2 books, a video and his traditional Dilbert page-a-day calendar, even though last' years is still sitting in the box. We'll buy something for each other later. DH is mentioning a Blu-ray player, but I'm not in favor of the idea. No room for it on the TV stand, and we only have 3 Blu-ray discs (thanks to the new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack idea).

Lately I don't enjoy Christmas, I come close to hating the whole mess, and I think this is part of the reason. Spending Christmas week shopping means I don't have time to relax and actually appreciate the holiday. Plus there's travel issues. Christmas Eve at DH's family, plus midnight mass (technically 10:30 mass), means 2 hours of driving total, and we get home around 3:00 a.m. since they do gifts after mass. Then we haul out of bed Christmas morning and drive to my family, 2 hours one way. And I'm usually stressing because we're never early enough to suit my mom, and half the time they've opened all the other gifts before we get there.

So I'm putting a BIG note in my planner next Halloween, reminding me to start working on the holiday prep, or I'll have to kick my own butt.

On the up side (kind of), looks like we'll have a white christmas this year, even with the thunderstorm on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another trip to the library

Today's numbers: 45 items checked out (at least 15 of those are for El Burrito), 5 on hold. I've got 3 books ready to take back already.

El Burrito didn't have a lot of luck at the Friends sale. He tried to talk to two kids who were there. One pushed him away and skedaddled (twice!), the other (slightly older boy wearing a dinosaur shirt that got El B's attention) was too busy playing a Gameboy/PSP/whatever the "in" one is now, even after his mother told him to say hello. He's persistent though - wanted to follow the first kid and his Nemo backpack around until he talked, but I wouldn't let him. So he spent the rest of my sale time sulking under the tables. Poor kid.

Then, he didn't find any books on the childrens' cart, and his Buddy wasn't cashiering today. And after I talked him into drawing her a picture for Christmas. We left it with the other volunteer, who offered to mail it to his Buddy. At least he got to play the Clifford game he was waiting to play.

We stopped at Shelter Garden on the way home, since it was 60+ degrees and the weather forecast is calling for snow later this week. I thought we'd better take advantage of the sunshine while we could. El Burrito came home with a leaf, a rock, a fir cone, and what used to be a red flower. He also got to watch the groundskeepers raking leaves, and one woman let him have a couple of swipes with her leaf rake after she noticed him watching for a while.

Overall, he had a good day and wasn't too bothered by getting the cold shoulder from two boys. He saw 3 Volkswagens and a Mini, and got to say hi to our neighbor, the mailman, and the UPS guy. He even took a nap.

Oh, and how strange is our weather right now? November was within a degree or two of being as warm on average as October. Ninth warmest November on record, I think. My aunt's forsythia is blooming, the neighbor's daffodils are trying to sprout, and the Japanese cherry tree at the Garden had a couple of small limbs (twigs, actually) that were honestly in bloom.

It's supposed to get down into the 30s tonight, though, so everything will be reminded that Hey!, it's December! Fun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A rant

We went out for dinner tonight, and did some grocery shopping. At least one grocery and one hardware already have cut Christmas trees for sale. So here goes:

Attention Stores!

Thanksgiving is still a week away, which means that Christmas is at least 5 weeks out. It's too freaking early to be selling "fresh-cut" trees. Would you sell Valentine bouquets on New Years Day? Just because a tree quietly sheds needles instead of blatantly wilting doesn't mean it's okay. In four weeks, any tree sold now is more than likely going to be a dried out, brittle fire hazard, no matter how much you water it or how much fire-retardant spray it was treated with.* You were jumping the gun with the Christmas candy sitting in the aisles on Halloween night, and you're doing it again. Stop it!

Anyone who buys a cut tree before Turkey Day had better not complain about needles in the carpet, in my opinion. They were asking for it.

* I worked on a Christmas tree farm for a few years. Most trees are sprayed with a fire retardant mist. It also happens to be tinted green. Either way, if you leave the tree sitting around for 5+ weeks, all the spray in the world won't keep it from drying out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky Burrito

El Burrito is a lucky child, as he proved last week. I should buy a lotto ticket for him or something.

We went to the library, as usual, and went to the big monthly book sale. He had to say hello to his cashier buddy first thing, and as usual she had a little book for him (Where is Skipper's Bone, a cute pop-up sort of book), which he had to carry himself. Because he's That Age these days. Then we went book shopping, and found quite a few goodies. It was cookbook day, so I ended up with an armload. I was juggling El Burrito, my purse, the library tote, a bag of sale books, and an armful of heavy cookbooks (Taste of Home annuals, $2 each), and at some point he put his book down and left it. I was kind of distracted and didn't realize it until about midnight that night, and felt sick that I'd let it happen. (Guilt Trips R Us, self-induced, no waiting)

That night, I emailed the Friends group that does the sales, hoping that one of the volunteers might have found his book (and not sold it to someone else). I figured it was a lost cause. Finding one book in a library isn't even "needle in a haystack" territory, as I told my sister - it's more "one specific needle in a barrel of needles" or something. I figured that it was either picked up by another little kid and taken home, or that he put it down in the sale books and someone else bought it.

But the Burrito is a lucky boy. Next morning, I called the library, and lo & behold, there it was in the lost and found. It was a bit of a miracle, since he'd only had the book an hour tops, and I couldn't remember anything other than the plush puppy that was on the pop-up tab.

But wait, there's more. :) I bought one of the random tote bags from the Friends, since the cookbooks were more than my Acme bags could handle. It turned out to be more stained than I'd thought, but it was 50 cents, all cotton, and pretty sturdy. I washed it with everything I could think of - Spray & Wash, Clorox II, even Fels Naptha, and nothing got out the brown water-stain marks. I had a brainstorm yesterday, and hunted down the peroxide. After two sunny afternoons of being doused with peroxide and dried in the sun, the brown stains are gone. There are still a lot of black marks (tire or something), but it looks much better. I was considering an experiment in tea-dyeing, but I think it'll do for now as is.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lousy planning

I took El Burrito to the county health department for his H1N1 vax today. They were offering them to anyone under 4, no appointment needed, and his ped's office doesn't have any yet. He got his vax, but we'll count the ways I screwed up.

The vaccination clinic was from 1:00-5:00. We usually eat lunch around 1:30 or 2, but we had a late breakfast, and I honestly didn't think we'd be there a long time, so we didn't have lunch before we went. We got there at 12:45, the parking lot was packed, and we were #202 in line. Got home at 3:00. Yeah.

Didn't take any snacks or water. We did take a couple of toys. And El Burrito was very well behaved, even without snacks, a drink, or a stroller to sit in while we stood in line.

The biggie: I believed the news release and told El Burrito that he'd be getting the "flu juice" - aka the nasal FluMist. Turns out I was wrong; he was old enough for the mist, but since his seasonal-flu vax was the FluMist version and was only 2 weeks ago, he had to get the injection. He was NOT happy, and I apologized all the way home. The nurse was impressed by how well he took the news, and the shot, but he didn't get really crying until we hit the parking lot.

I was a little distracted while the nurse explained things, so I'm not sure if his second dose of H1N1 (also not mentioned in the Health Dept information) has to be an injection because dose #1 was, or if it can be the Mist. I'm hoping for the Mist. I'll have to call the pediatrician's office and see w hat the deal is, and if they will be getting any of the stuff, because I'd rather not deal with the lines at the Health department again.

Also, I really wish the Health Dept had lined up more than a measly four nurses to do the injections. Seriously. They had 200 people in line before the doors opened, and only 4 people giving the vax? It's a wonder we were only there for 2 hours.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reusable bag review #1 - Chico and Walker bags

So, follow-through. Here are my thoughts on two of the reusable bags that I've got running around (three kinds, if you count two types of Chico bags).

First up, Walker bags. I've got one of these, in green; it was one of the first reusable bags I bought. It's a fine-gauge mesh, so it's definitely squashable. With a little practice, you could probably fit it into a plastic Easter egg. Very washable, and dries super-fast. Size: 16x13x4 (per ReusableBags.com), rated up to 35 pounds. Has nice long straps, probably long enough to carry over a shoulder. However, the mesh is hard on book corners if that's what you're carrying, and the mesh straps are also very hard on your hands if you're carrying anything heavy. The straps tend to roll instead of laying flat, so the pressure is concentrated. Basically, it doesn't get used a lot. It's good for bulky, light-weight stuff, but not for anything heavy.

Next, Chico bags. I've got two of the original Chicos, and just got a Chico Vita.

Chico originals: I like these, but they don't hold up well for me. My first one started to loosen up at the bottom seam, even though it's rated for 20+ pounds and had never carried anything heaver than a gallon of milk (approx 8 pounds). I had it replaced under the company's guarantee, but the second one is having the same issue. Also, the handles are too short for my taste. However, I like the colors and the attached bag to stuff it into. I also think the material is a little flimsy; both of mine have developed dimples from corners of books and boxes, and at least one has a hole in it.

Chico Vita: Just got it. It's larger, and they changed the construction so that it doesn't have a seam at the bottom. It's got longer handles, which is also a plus for me, and the handles are on the sides of the bag rather than the ends (as the Chico originals are). However, the material feels even flimsier/cheaper than the original style of Chico. It crinkles almost like plastic, and the contrasting border feels and looks like the cheap plastic edging you'd find on a crappy makeup case from the dollar store or something. I may use it a couple times to make sure, but I think it's up for resale, return, or re-gifting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Email avalanche

You know, it stinks to have over 3,500 unread messages in your Inbox.

That's all I can come up with for today. El Burrito didn't nap, and my 85-year-old grandfather had a hip replacement today. Oh, and my niece-dog had a fatty growth removed from her back.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coming this week

This week (or month), I think I'll do a series of little reviews of all the reusable shopping bags we have running around. I've gotten quite a stash now - Chico, Chico Vita, Baggu, Acme Workhorse, Ecobags, and a couple others. Some are better than others.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's the Sun! ! !

The sun was visible here today, after a solid week of clouds, gloom, and rain. I almost didnt' recognize it.

In between laundry loads, El Burrito and I popped out to the post office to mail a book I sold online, and then went for a walk in Shelter Garden. They've taken out most of the flowerbed plantings, but the roses are still blooming. The herb/tactile garden is also still going strong; the lemon balm is planning a coup, and the Mexican flame vine has vined almost all the way around the center of the garden.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I was wrong

We did buy another First Alert CO detector, but it's not one that interacts with an infrared signal.

On the up side, I think it'll fit the base we already have installed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book sale goodies

This weekend was the fall children's book sale, so I hauled out of bed early. Spent $46.25, and got some goodies.
  • two Billy and Blaze books
  • The Golden Stallion's Victory
  • The Sorrel Stallion (although with a puffy sticker on the front)
  • some Serendipity books
  • coloring books for El Burrito
  • a Marguerite Henry book that I'd never seen before
  • a paperback copy of Dorothy Lyons' Golden Sovereign
  • quite a few Anne of Green Gables books
  • at least half of the Great Brain series
and some other stuff, of course.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Misquoting Scarlett

To mis-quote Scarlett O'Hara, as Cow (watch the Big Bang Theory!) is my witness, I'm never buying a First Alert talking carbon monoxide detector again. Ever.

First, the rotten thing can only use a certain brand of battery. Any "inferior" battery leads to monthly replacements, after being scared out of your wits at 3 freaking a.m. when it decides the battery's dead.

Occasionally, it talks in the middle of the night for no good reason. This leads to the whole family levitating in bed, then taking a while to get back to sleep.

One of the "features" is that you can use the infrared beam from a TV remote to do the weekly test and make sure it's working. Thanks to a lousy floor plan, the only place in our hallway for the detector to be mounted, is also more or less in the line-of-sight of our usual TV-watching spots. We'd learned to be careful where we aimed the DVD remote, but the TV remote didn't seem to be as bad. That changed last week when I put a new battery in that one. I've set the damn thing off half a dozen times this week alone. We put masking tape over the "test" button, theorizing that the pinhole in the button was the IR receiver. Not so much, as it turns out - I set it off this morning and woke El Burrito up early. He hates the test script, so of course, he didn't go back to sleep.

And just now, from the bathroom counter (where it's been exiled to), the detector's started talking again. I was too busy jumping out of my skin to notice, but I think it's wanting a fresh battery. So now it's face-down on the counter and wrapped in a towel. I may shut the bathroom door before I go to bed, too. That damn voice freaks me out every time it starts talking out of nowhere.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Long horse-related meme

Found this online and thought it would be a good post for today.

1. How old were you when you first started riding?
Around 3, I think. Possibly earlier, and may have been in diapers, but that was riding double with my Mom, not alone. Riding independently, maybe 8 or 9.

2. First horse ridden: Smoky, our saint of a gelding.

3. First horse trotted on: Smoky

4. First horse cantered on: Smoky, but not well. I looked like crap, and was bareback most of the time. Cantered 1 stride or so on DJ, accidentally. Intentionally and halfway-decent looking - Peyton, my riding lesson pal.

5. First Horse fallen off of: Smoky, but you had to work to do it.

6. Most recent horse fallen off of: DJ

7. Most terrifying fall: DJ, the day the little fiend blew up and bucked me off.

8. First horse jumped with: I've never jumped.

9. First horse who ran away with you: Smoky, a couple of times. All when I was riding with the saddle and couldn't feel him enough to head him off.

10. First horse that scared the crap out of you: DJ, for a lot of reasons.

11. First horse shown: Haven't shown.

12. First horse to win a class with: See #11

13. Do you/have you taken lessons: Yes, but only for three summers, 18 lessons total.

14. First horse you ever rode bareback: Smoky. Rode bareback 95% of the time, because Dad's stock saddle weighed as much as I did, and I wasn't tall enough at the time to get it on Smoky's back. NEVER rode DJ bareback - he was a bit crazy, and had withers like Pikes Peak or something.

15. First horse trail ridden with: Smoky

16. Current Barn name: None

17. Do you ride English or western?: Western saddle-wise, with a bit of English mishmash tossed in.

18. First Horse to place at a show with: See #11

19. Ever been to horse camp?: Nope

20. Ever been to a riding clinic? Nope

21. Ridden sidesaddle? Nope

22. First horse leased: None

23. Last Horse Leased: None

24. Highest ribbon in a show: See #11

25. Ever been to an 'A' rated show?: Nope

26. Ever competed in pony games/relay races?: Nope

27. Ever fallen off at a show: Nope

28. Do you ride Hunter/Jumpers?: Nope

29. Have you ever barrel raced? Nope

30. Ever done pole bending?: Nope

31. Favorite gait: A good motivated walk, although Peyton's slow jog was a close second.

32. Ever cantered bareback?: Yes, but it wasn't pretty.

33. Have you ever done dressage?: Nope

34. Have you ever evented?: Nope

35. Have you ever mucked a stall?: Not really; my horses at home always had a pasture and run-in shed, so technically there wasn't a stall or much in the way of bedding.

36. Ever been bucked off?: Once, by DJ (I'm not counting the "lost my balance and fell off" falls, or the time DJ spooked out from under me). He had his knickers in a knot about something the whole ride, and finally blew up and bucked me off. I stayed on for a couple jumps, bruised my knee on the horn, and landed sort-of on my feet (then sort of rolled backwards onto my butt and back).

37. Ever been on a horse that reared?: Not really, although DJ half-reared once, and would get light enough in front that I didn't think his feet were touching the ground.

38. Horses or ponies?: Either. I'm considering that my next equine might be something in the 14-hand region, technically a pony. I rode a short QH mare once in lessons, she was maybe 14.2, and I liked not needing a ladder to get on. (Unlike the 17hand giant I rode that same summer)

39. Do you wear a helmet?: I do since I started lessons. Didn't as a kid, but it was the 70s/80s.

40. What's the highest you've jumped: Don't jump.

41. Have you ever ridden at night?: Late dusk, but never really pitch-black dark.

42. Do you watch horsey television shows?: Yes. Gotta get my horse fix, but sometimes the errors make me cringe.

43. Have you ever been seriously hurt/injured from a fall?: Not yet. Got some bruises from DJ though.

44. Most falls in one lesson: None, yet.

45. Do you ride in an arena/ring?: Did for lessons, not as a kid.

46. Have you ever been trampled by a horse?: No.

47. Have you ever been bitten?: Yes, by that nitwit DJ. He was nippy for a long time and I usually had my hands full and couldn't fix it, until he caught some skin one day and I reflexively yelped and I think swatted him on the nose. Then I stood there and read him the riot act. It cured him, he wasn't nippy after that.

48. Ever had your foot stepped on by a horse?: Oh yes.

49: Favorite riding moment: To be answered later

50. Most fun horse you've ridden: Smoky, because I trusted him. Peyton, Libby, and Katie because they knew how to do stuff that I hadn't (and sometimes haven't) done.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Library day

Had another busy morning at the library. Storytime, computer time, and the book sale. Plus we filled our third punch card to enter the library's anniversary giveaway.

Currently: 47 items out (21 of those are El Burrito's) and 8 on hold. Their new system to let you put a book on your hold list, but delay it until a specific date, is useful. I can put books on hold before I forget them, but delay them a few weeks until I have time for them. I need to finish Physics for Future Presidents this week; it's overdue and needs to go back.

Ned the brachiosaurus went to the library with us, and was introduced to a few people. He also liked storytime, and was admired by the volunteer running the book sale today. I spent $3.50 on books; $1 for me and $2.50 for El Burrito, who got a hardback copy of How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? and a Pooh book, among others.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday

It's official; Weather.com says the recorded high temp on Saturday was 46. I really think it was colder than that most of the time we were at the Renaissance Festival.

El Burrito is starting to give up the binkies. He has two kinds, blue (harder silicone) and green (softer). Green is his favorite. He fell in Looovvvee with a toy brachiosaurus at Michaels today, and after some consultation with the Binky Fairie, he decided to swap his blue binkies for Ned the Brachiosaurus. He was a little weepy at bedtime, but still had green binky, so we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Questions

What's the deal with maternity portraits and plaster casts of pregnant stomachs? I love the Burrito, but I looked (I thought) like crap while I was pregnant. No way do I want to pay for a professional picture to prove it. I've got enough of our pics to do that, thanks. The plaster belly casts are even weirder to me, though. What do you do with it? Hang it on the wall like a shield, use it for a mega-sized chip bowl?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekend Fun

We made our annual trip to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival today. We've now been there for all the major possible weather conditions - heat advisories (aka the year I almost passed out), drenching rain (the year we had no umbrella or ponchos), and now some unseasonable cold weather. (The Fest ends in early October, so I don't think it'll ever get snowed on, but this is Missouri so I won't swear to it.)

The high today in Bonner Springs was maybe 40 or so. It didn't rain, which would have been utterly miserable. Luckily, we'd taken a blanket and extra clothes in case it did rain, and I'd packed a scarf and ear-warmers just in case. (I was remembering three weeks of being miserably cold in Ireland.) After about an hour, I went back to the car for the scarf and blanket, and managed, with some dexterity, to put my extra shirt on under my original shirt.

Other than the cold, we had a good time. El Burrito spent most of the day riding in his stroller, wearing a polar fleece jacket and his winter hat, with his Lightning McQueen blanket tucked around him. We saw a dragon show for kids, the raptor show from the World Bird Sanctuary, bits of music, and did some shopping. El Burrito's favorite bits were the "necklace" he got for donating to the bird sanctuary, and getting to see the elephant again. He wasn't fond of the dragon (a person in a costume) but he sat through the show anyway.

We visited Nene Thomas' booth as usual (still kicking myself for missing Petal before it sold out, didn't see Tullamore perform this year, and bought a nice copper dragonfly sculpture for our future garden. I still need to scare up a recipe for those cinnamon crunch almonds.

And I have to say: it was Pet Weekend at the Festival. Dogs everywhere, from Jack Russells to Great Danes, and I don't think I saw any dog poop laying around. Fairly remarkable; there are far fewer dogs in our neighborhood and that visit Shelter Garden, and I see abandoned piles at both places on a regular basis.

Weather-wise, it frosted last night, and there will probably be a hard frost or a freeze tonight. This is the earliest I can recall a frost; there was one year it froze around Halloween, and the Christmas tree farm down the road lost a lot of trees.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Semi-annual Moving of the Houseplants

Frost warnings are out for the weekend, so I brought all the houseplants (and not-so-houseplants, like the sunflowers) inside tonight. Had to do some rearranging first, which had to wait until DH got home (the vacuum was involved). It was cold enough outside that I could see my breath. My plan to spend an afternoon cleaning the dust off the leaves and such got canceled due to the weather.

Living room looks sort of like a forest now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rain!

It's a good thing we went on our picnic yesterday. The only picnickers today were the fish. It started raining sometime between midnight and 3 a.m. this morning, and it's still going. At just before midnight tonight, I emptied 5.5 inches out of my rain gauge. My feet got wet when I got the mail tonight, because our sidewalk was underwater.

Mizzou had a home game tonight, too. I bet it was more like mud wrestling.

And there's a potential for frost or freezing weather this weekend, so the houseplants all have to come in tomorrow. Fun.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Picnic!

We took advantage of the sunshine this morning and had a picnic at Shelter Garden today. El Burrito and I picked up Subway and KFC (El B. likes their mac 'n' cheese), and DH met us there. It was a bit on the cool side, but overall a nice day. Weather report says rain the rest of the week, so it's good that we went today.

Unfortunately, the fish are already on "vacation" until next spring; all the pools and waterfalls were drained and the koi were gone. Of course the water lilies were also gone, so my plans to take the big camera and get some decent pictures were thwarted. The little camera does okay, but the big one has more zoom.

Aaaauuugghhhh

Not sure how Charles Schulz spelled it, but I feel a bit like Charlie Brown right now, when he's sitting there yelling "Aaaauuugghhhh!"

My little sister is getting a divorce, after 14 years of marriage, and my parents are freaking out, to put it mildly. Sis is in Florida for a year-long residency in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and BIL is in Michigan (she chose the school when they lived in Georgia). Apparently things have been not-so-good with them for a few years now, and it's finally come to the surface.

She's always been a little more liberal/crunchy than the rest of the (conservative) family, and learning yoga, acupuncture, and traditional Chinese medicine have just emphasized that. My mother just emailed me to ask if I thought they were bad parents, like my sister does. Mom is apparently siding with my future-ex-brother-in-law, who is stirring the pot just a bit. Sis may change her name to something that isn't her maiden or married name, which I think will be an issue with dad. Heck, it's already an issue with Dad. Mom thinks she's being brainwashed, but I'm not sure by who or what.

Anyway, from the undertones in this little email conversation that she and Mom have been having, it wouldn't surprise me if Mom pushes so far that Sis cuts ties altogether. She's already said she'd never move back "home" or even to the same state. (Of course, we both swore long ago that we'd never live within shouting distance of any family. We grew up a half-mile from our grandmother, and it wasn't pretty.)

Oh, and my 85-year-old grandfather is having a hip replacement in two weeks. I'm just hoping he survives the surgery.

I am so not looking forward to our next weekend visit.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm drowning

. . . in email, that is. My Yahoo account is a losing battle at the moment. They changed something a month or so ago, and ever since then, it's been an exercise in frustration. Deleting a message means clicking the little "delete" button at least twice, usually four times, and waiting for 15 seconds or so. Right now, I've got 3,000 unread messages, and wwwaaaayyy more than that in the "need to take care of" category.

And this isn't even my primary account.

Which, actually, is easier to deal with. Thunderbird downloads it all and files it, and I can delete multiple emails at one shot. I can sort by date, sender, etc. without having to wait for the whole freaking page to reload. I love Thunderbird.

Yahoo, on the other hand, not so much. I've been unsubbing from newsletters and such that I don't want anymore, but even that takes a while. I'm not sure I'll ever catch up. DH suggests a mass-delete and starting over, but I don't know that that would work either.

Sigh.

Back to bailing out the boat with a teaspoon.

It's fall

Fall must be here. Harvest Moon was Saturday night, and it was dark when we left the grocery store at 7:30. Obviously, we need to start doing two things: getting started earlier on the weekends, and I need to start doing bits of the shopping/errands during the week. I did this before El Burrito came along, and then it was just too hard while he was little and I was trying to juggle a shopping cart and a stroller. Never figured that one out, but now he's old enough to ride in the cart, so we're more mobile (sometimes too mobile).

In other news, it was a beautiful day today, but a touch cool. Time to dig out the long sleeves and jackets. Soon it'll be time to break out the flannel sheets.

Yeah, I need to work on my blogging.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gardening

Did a little gardening today, if you can consider a bunch of houseplants a "garden."

Most of the succulents got repotted last week (everything except the Christmas cactus and the jade plant). I'm hoping fresh soil will give my old and very scruffy looking aloe plant a new will to live and grow. Poor thing has actually gotten smaller since I got it.

Today the avocado got some fresh soil, and I finally got the summer-clearance perennials in a big planter with some topsoil. Hopefully I didn't put that off too long, I'd like to manage to overwinter them for our future yard. The Chinese evergreens (aglaonema) also got repotted; one was moved to a smaller pot because it's not doing well, and a lot of dead leaves and failing stems got pruned. I'm actually a little worried; these things are tough, and mine are looking kind of bad. Benign neglect, I guess - I need to remember to water & fertilize more often.

The Christmas cactus also got moved outside. The cooler temperatures & darkness should trigger them to set buds and bloom around Christmas/New Years. If they don't get confused again - one of them got confused and bloomed in the summer not long ago. It was weird, since they usually won't bloom at all unless it's cool and they get about 12 hours of darkness. These were outside in the summer, so "cool" wasn't happening at all.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Neat stuff in the mail

Got my Star Trek exclusive flash drive from Kelloggs in yesterday's mail. It's not bad, 1 GB for $7.99, but the "exclusive content" is a little skimpy. It's a total of 11 MB of images - 5 promotional images, and a screensaver with another 5 images. At least they're different images. I was hoping for more, because I'm sure half an hour of Googling could find dozens of official promo images that I could download.

Still trying to get enough proofs of purchase for a Star Trek T-shirt, though.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bargain hunting at Walgreens

I'm not a "coupon queen" by any means, but I do have some good days. El Burrito and I trekked over to the "other Walgreens" (on the other side of town, out of our usual path) yesterday and did some shopping.

  • 2 packs of Halls' Refresh mints/cough drops - $1 each, minus 75c coupon and $1 Register Reward each - so we effectively made $1.50
  • 2 Chapstick Fresh Effects - $2.99 each, with a $3 RR each
  • Herbal Essence shampoo - $2.99, minus $1 coupon, with a $2 RR - essentially free
  • Nature Made calcium/magnesium/zinc and flax seed oil - $11.99 each - buy 1 get 1 free, minus a $7 coupon and a $1 coupon - so $4 total
  • Cars plate for El Burrito - $1 (I thought it was 50c like the other plates on the shelf)
  • Cars party favors, $2 on clearance
  • 3 Peanuts Halloween coloring books - $1
  • 3 Peanuts Halloween mini puzzles - $1
  • 4 12-packs of Sunkist - $10.92
  • Winnie the Pooh Halloween light-up decoration - $5.19 on clearance (before Halloween? go figure)
We used the $5 off a $25 purchase coupon, plus a handful of other coupons. Spent a total of $30.72 with tax. Total savings was $40 even, and we've got $10 in Register Rewards to spend in the next two weeks.

Not a bad trip. The south-side Walgreens is bigger, cleaner, and seems to be stocked better. They actually had everything in stock that I was looking for, although they were low on the Refresh drops.

It's NaBloWriMo again

Just found out that October is National Blog Post Writing Month or whatever the name is. Time to get back to blogging regularly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Funny stuff

Is it wrong that I got a kick out of watching the demo video for a contraption called "Twirl-A-Squirrel"? I think it was the shot of a dizzy squirrel rolling on the ground that did it.

Also, El Burrito is standing on the steps right now, singing the chorus to a Great Big Sea song called "River Driver" and I find it hilarious. Probably wrong of me, since there's a line about getting "sober by and by" but I don't think it's warped his brain too much.

And now to convince him that it is, indeed, nap time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coupons and stuff

Random notes:

The "Pack a Kraft Smile" coupon/calendar booklet that I got from Kraft arrived last week. Some of the coupons were good ones, but I was a little peeved that three of the coupons had already expired!

Gorton's was nice enough to send me a free-item coupon after I let them know about some pretty low-quality tilapia fillets I bought. Peter Pan cheaped out a bit with a 50-cent coupon after I complained about their container shrinkage (18-oz is now either 12 or 15). Sure, they're using less plastic, but the price didn't go down when the jar size did.

Coupons.com is a good site for coupons, but their printer is a little odd. I tried to print 3 coupons last night. The site printed those three, plus six that I didn't want and can't use. Strange.

Weird note, not that the person in question will ever read it.
Someone on a local listserv has been convinced that there will be mandatory flu shots for H1N1 this year (and related conspiracy theories). I don't see it happening, just because a) we don't have mandatory vax for anything else and b) the companies don't have the supply to vaccinate everyone. They're already publicizing the priority ranking for who should get the shots first.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Library day

So, another library day post. We returned 3 books and a DVD, and didn't check anything out. Spent $11 at the sale, but I think we were overcharged. Not that I'm going to fuss about it, it's a donation of sorts, and I've gotten enough great deals to make up for it.

Current numbers: 2 items on hold, 36 or so checked out. Can't be certain; their web catalog is being very slow right now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The suckage that is my mood

I'm in a shit mood right now. I'm home alone-with-a-preschooler all day, practically every day. Today's "alone time" was an hour that I spent at Target and the grocery store. I don't get to have a decent adult conversation, since DH and El Burrito go to bed at the same time. I have no friends, online, offline, or otherwise. There's no one for me to talk to, except for DH, and as I pointed out tonight, that doesn't really help when I need to bitch about him and let off a little steam. I think he finally admitted that other than him, I don't really have anyone to talk to. My mom isn't an option, ditto mom-in-law and my one decent sis-in-law. My sister might be in a pinch, but she's got grad school and her own issues. Plus, some things I'd rather not have making the rounds at family dinner when we're not there.

I've read the "how to get some you time" articles in the mommy mags, but they're not really useful sometimes. The big one seems to be to let dad take care of the kid after he gets home, while you have a girls night out. I have no "girls" and DH gets home around 7:00 or 7:30. Even if I skip dinner at home, there's not much for me to do in this town after 7:30. I'm not a bar person. The mall closes at 9, library closes at 5 0r 9, depending on the day. The public garden closes at dusk, so do the local parks. That leaves the 24-hour stores - Walgreens, Walmart, and the grocery stores.

Yeah. I think I'd rather stay home and hide in the closet.

And apparently the reason why we haven't done the wills or called a realtor or I haven't lost any weight is because I/we haven't "put any effort" into it. I'll admit it. I bitch about being overweight, then we go to Schnucks and buy five pounds of cookies. Lack of motivation. How to fix it? Who the hell knows. I don't, obviously.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Potty training and PC upgrades

Two things are frustrating me so badly right now that I could spit nails.

A. Potty training. As in, my mother thinks I'm not working on it enough with El Burrito or something, because the fact that he's 3 and wears a diaper is somehow all my fault. Sorry, Mom, if you think you can do a better job, have at it. I'm ready to drop him off at your house for a &%*$*#( month and turn the damn phone off. He's got a potty. He's got underwear. What we don't have is motivation on his part. Yeah, he was dying for a trike or a bike, which I could have used to encourage the potty thing. Until Mom went and got him one of each. Stickers and cookies don't do much.

Situation right now: We have a potty. We have underwear. El B was using the potty for peeing pretty easily, if we asked. He didn't ask on his own too much. He's got the bladder control, and he's usually dry in the morning. But for the past month or so, it's been no go. We ask and he says no. We push the issue, and there's a nice argument and fussing. He'll pee two drops and say he's done. Pooping isn't even on the radar. It's a control issue, I guess. Whatever. I'm ready to drop the whole stinking thing.

Mom says just put his unders on and he'll decide he doesn't like a wet butt. Yeah, and I don't care for having big puddles of pee on the carpet, especially since we're (supposedly) going to be house hunting soon. I don't think old-pee smell will be a selling point. So, she says, take him on the deck. Where, I point out, the pee will drain down onto our downstairs neighbor's deck. Not a good thing.



Then there's the PC upgrade. DH got me a 1 TB hard drive and some more RAM for an anniversary present. The hard drive is going to be a media drive, for music and photos. So we shift all the MP3s and music over. Which is when I realize that the ratings from Windows Media Player won't transfer over, unless I upgrade to WMP 10. Which wouldn't install on this PC, because it's supposedly not compatible with the version of Windows I've got. (BS. I've got XP, Service Pack 3, and WMP 10 requires XP, SP2. I'm not seeing the issue here.) So, after 6 hours of downloading, I end up with WMP 11. And a buttload of duplicate entries in the WMP library. Which should be solved by Microsoft's handy dandy instructions on cleaning up the library. EXCEPT that their info on the library database file's name and location are both not quite right. The only file I can find was last modified in 2006. Pretty sure that's not the one I need.

So I've got my music in three locations, eating up massive amounts of hard drive space. I've got WMP 11 giving me fits because I can't force it to a) rebuild the library or b) IGNORE the music on C:. And I've got about 20 tabs open in Firefox trying to figure out this crap. Because once, just once, I'd like to figure out something on my own, without needing DH to fix it for me. I've got a master's degree. I've been online for 10+ years. I'm not computer illiterate, or I didn't think so until lately.

Is that too much to ask????? Apparently so.

And that, folks, is why I am having a very very very VERY crappy day. And week - the WMP situation is on Day 4. Joy. I hate Microsoft sometimes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Library day and family

So, a quick library update. We didn't return anything today, but did return 5 or 6 on Saturday. Right now, we've got 44 books out and 4 on hold, and we spent $5 at the cart sale. We walked up to the second floor and read a Grover book in the reading area, and noticed all the circles in the r oom

And my family is driving me NUTS. More on that later.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another library day

Returned 5 books, checked out 5. Total 40 items out (16 are for El Burrito), 5 on hold.

We spent $6 at the cart sale, including 2 Lyle Crocodile books and a nice copy of The American Wilderness (essays by John Muir, with photographs by Ansel Adams).

Managed to download stuff for 20 minutes while reading Curious George to El Burrito, so we didn't get scolded for noise this week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Library day

Today was a long library day - storytime, then some playtime before the book-cart sale. We also turned in El Burrito's Summer Reading program sheet, and he got a free book. He picked Harry the Dirty Dog, a classic that I remember reading as a kid.

And, unfortunately, I just managed to put a pair of nasty, really visible creases in the covers. For some reason, that really makes me feel rotten, like this little sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. (Which is weird, considering the number of really-well-loved (i.e. tattered, torn, and missing covers) books that I keep around.) I mean, I'm not a "gotta keep everything pristine" person (trust me!) but in the hour or so since it happened, I've wondered how much it would cost to replace it with a "new" one. Must be guilt for messing up the kid's new book.

Storytime was fun, but crowded, so someone sat on my lap quite a bit. He had a good time, though, and has been singing one of the songs this afternoon.

I returned 5 books, and El Burrito found 2 books to check out, plus my DVD. So the numbers right now are 42 books out (16 of those are El Burrito's), 3 on hold.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Riding - last two rides

Okay, I'm behind again.

Friday night: Not a bad ride. No loping this year. :( They were planning to lunge Peyton a bit before we started; apparently he was a bit of a twit on Thursday, but we decided to see how things went. And they went pretty well. We started outside, and Mr Peyton was moving right along, like a dream. Then we went inside, and his trot disappeared until the "encouragement stick" came back. I don't even have to touch him with it, it just has to be there. Of course, he also sees it out the corner of his eye, and it makes it much harder to get his jog-trot back. Lots of trotting, and some patterns. We did okay, even managed the trot-through L. Peyton did spook a bit at the end of the arena, where he'd been twitty the night before - one of the turned-out horses outside stuck his/her head over the gate.

Our demonstration was moved to Saturday, which was of course hellishly hot. Only 87, but the humidity was insanely high, and we were all sweating buckets. It was hotter at 9 a.m. Saturday than it was at 8:00 Friday night (when it was still 80 degrees). And as usual, my face turned it's distractingly-bright shade of red after about five minutes outside. There was a breeze outside, but we moved to the indoor after warming up - it's larger, and there's shade (and ceiling fans). Peyton and I are apparently the Marlon Perkins & Jim of the area - in addition to the bat last week, we had to swerve off the rail to miss a stray box turtle that was puttering along the arena wall.

It was a short ride, 45 minutes instead of an hour, so we only got one trip through the pattern. Ours started out fine, with jogging around the end of the arena, swerving off the rail to go over three poles, and then back to the rail. However, our trip down the center line spun out, until I got the crop again. Circled back to the rail and started that part over, and it went fine. He gets very boingy over poles, and I wish we could have done more than three poles in a row, so I could get the feel for it. He was also, I thought, a little hard to halt at the end, but Sara said it looked nice, so it must have been my imagination. DH got a few pics and some shaky video (hard to handle a camera while wrangling a three-year-old) - I obviously need to lose some flab, and both my shoulders and legs are a little too forward. Peyton's trot is pretty easy to sit, though.

So that's it for the year. Except for this rash on one arm that turned up Thurs or Friday. It's the arm that had a lot of contact with sweaty saddle pads, so maybe it's just prickly heat or something. Or poison ivy, although Peyton is pretty much an indoor pony. Or a reaction to the meds he was getting for his leg scuff. Who knows.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reusable bag giveaway (on another blog)

The Frugal Girls! blog is giving away one Envirosax reusable shopping bag, with six ways to enter. I've used Envirosax, along with Chicos, Baggus, and Acme Workhorses. Envirosax are one of my favorites, they unpack easily and come in some nice designs.

Riding - Monday and Wednesday

First, Monday's ride: Peyton was a twit, so I carried a crop the whole time. Basically, he was fine at a walk, but a pill about trotting. Didn't have to touch him with the crop, just knowing it was there got him in gear. We did well enough our first time through the course that I tried the second run crop-less. Didn't work.

Tonight's ride: Peyton was a dream (except for one bit). No crop, and trotted right along, getting nice compliments. He got a bit fast when other horses passed us, but other than that, no problem. My pal Miss Katie (filling in for Billy Bob, who colicked a bit yesterday), a good slow-jogging WP horse, passed us twice at the trot. :) Unfortunately, we only had time for the indoor course once, and I missed the trot-through-the-pole-chute trot. But we had a nice working walk, and trotting him over poles is like riding a QH crossed with a kangaroo. Boingy! He did spook at something while I was getting a drink, so we both got sprinkled. Not sure what startled him, but no big deal, he's not a hyperactive spooker (unlike my last horse). Peyton got hosed off last, so Jordan could treat the scrape on his hind leg again (happened over the weekend).

Only two more rides. :(

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Riding on July 4th eve

We had a short lesson tonight, since some twits across the road from the stables started in with the firecrackers. Sara decided to err on the side of caution, since the lesson is mostly kids and a couple of the horses are a bit skittish about fireworks. Plus, a storm front was moving in, and they were a little "up" anyway. (Except for my pal Peyton.) So we knocked off 20 minutes early, and we'll make it up on Demonstration Day.

Peyton, the little twerp, was being a Pill. He started off with a nice walk, and we were doing some sort-of-serpentines along the rail, practicing the steering finesse. Then things got stuck. He would trot only under strenuous exertion (from me), start off with a power trot or a stride of loping, and then, when we tried to cut across the arena (instead of running down the kid in front of us), would sputter into a walk and wander to the right with me trying to get him back to a trot or turn him to the left. He almost wandered into Sara #2 (junior instructor) twice. I don't have the leg strength right now to encourage him enough, apparently. So Sara (#1, the boss) got on him for 5 or 10 minutes and they had a little Come to Jesus meeting. She had to work at it too, so I don't feel too bad.

But, after their little talk, I got back on, with a crop just in case, and he was much better. The other five students went into the indoor and I stayed in the outdoor with Sara. She showed me how to ask him for his smooth little "Really, I'm a Quarter Horse" shuffle-trot, and we did a couple of laps like that. Very nice. Then we went in with the others, saw half of an obstacle pattern, and had to go in to escape the pre-Fourth idiocy. (The stables are inside the city limits, where fireworks are hypothetically banned. But the cops can't be everywhere, so it happens.)

So, hopefully on Monday he'll still remember all this and so will I, and we can try getting down to business for our last 3 rides.

Things to remember: Toes up, heels down, legs back, back relaxed, shoulders back. The key to the WP trot is to hold the reins out to the sides a bit and just "tickle" his mouth, to ease him from the hunter trot down to a jog. Also, every horse in the barn knows what a carrot being snapped in half sounds like, and will start begging for one shamelessly. And, if/when I have another horse, the stirrups will be "poled" anytime it's on the rack. A broom handle through the stirrups will work wonders and make your ankles like you. My ankles aren't really happy right now. Too much torque. It's enough to make me consider an Aussie stock saddle.

Other notes: the Kleen Kanteen may be raved about, but it's not insulated, which I dock it a point or two for. I started out with half ice, and in 90 minutes it was luke-warm. :(

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More riding

Summer riding, night 2 (of six total). It was a lot cooler today - the high was only 82, and it was either 75 or 79 as I drove home (at 9:45).

I still can't remember how I had the boots laced last year, and they're still digging into my ankle. On Friday, I may try an extra layer of sock, just over the ankle. And it would probably help if I wore them around some more, because I doubt they're really broken in yet. Part of the problem may also be the fenders on the western saddles; if they're not set right, it can put some torque on your knees & ankles. (A broom handle through the stirrups while the saddle's on the rack will help this.)

Anyway. Lots of trotting tonight. Some issues with turning left, which I think was my fault for holding the rein out to the side too far. Which was weird, because as we were warming up at a walk, I had Peyton doing some nice serpentine-like lines down the sides of the arena, no problem. Maybe I was trying too hard later. Also some issues with getting a trot, but only in the indoor. I could get a trot at the end of the arena, and then it would sputter out halfway down the side, no matter how I kicked, squeezed, poked, or clucked. Jordan (assistant teacher) got a lunge whip, since there weren't any riding crops in the indoor, and after just showing it to Mr Peyton, he cocked an ear and decided to trot after all.

We did some nice patterns on the obstacle course, after Peyton was convinced to trot. He still hasn't done that nice little jog-trot from last year - I haven't asked for it yet, and he's wearing a snaffle this year, which may put him in a different mindset - but I love his walk. It's smooth and a walk with some purpose behind it, most of the time. Not the motivated but filling-loosening walk that my last horse had - it was fast, but if I was the least bit tense in my back, it felt like my teeth were being jarred loose.

Sara said the plan is to work on the basics this week, and then maybe some loping next week. If I can get our act together, I guess. I need to remember how I was asking for things last year, because I'd bet part of it is just that I'm not asking for things the right way. And the rest is probably that it's summer and Peyton's apparently one of those essentially lazy horses. So, I need to figure out the boot lacing, try to get the stirrups short enough to use but long enough not to kill my ankles (we do post, even in the Western class), and remember to use a steady squeeze, not an intermittent one.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Riding again!

Tonight was the first night of the Summer Riding program. (I missed the early session because of DH's business trip, so I'm stuck with the July hotter-that-Hades session.)

It went pretty good. Class is in the evening, it's almost dark by the time we get untacked and cleaned up. I got to ride my pal Payton again - he's a 14 year old Quarter Horse gelding, liver chestnut wiht Impressive bloodlines. A few difficulites, since I need to remember some of the finesse-type stuff, but it'll come back.

Now I just need to remember how I was lacing my boots, because one ankle is not so happy right now.

More tomorrow. I'm wiped out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today's free stuff in the mail

Nice trip to the mailbox today:



Aside from the phone bill, we got
  • the new issue of Missouri Conservationist (free to MO residents, extra if you live out of state)
  • two Pace coupons ($4 each) to replace two that had printing issues
  • two coupons for free KFC (one must still be en route)
  • my free desk calendar from Golden Age
  • recipes and coupons from Nakano - we get a free bottle of rice vinegar, and 50c off a bottle of cooking wine

Monday, June 22, 2009

My lousy timing

So, back in the spring, I got the info for Summer Riding this year. I missed the first session, thanks to DH's business trip and our 3-year inability to look for a babysitter. Instead, I signed up for the second session, which starts next Monday (assuming I didn't wait so long that the classes are all full).

There's a reason I prefer the first session; namely, Missouri summer heat. We just watched the forecast for this week, and it's uuuugly. Highs in the upper 90s every freaking day, with triple-digit heat index predictions. The coolest day predicted? 96 degrees. And with my luck, next week won't be any better. Sure, classes are in the evenings, but if today's any indication, that won't help much. It's still probably in the 80s outside (at midnight!) right now and sticky-humid.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Walgreens deals

We ventured out into 95-degree heat today for a trip to Walgreens and Old Navy.

This is the Walgreens loot. Total, around $10.

The Ginger Thins were 79c each with the Walgreens coupons. El Burrito loves them, and they're usually $1.99 per box. We'll be going back tomorrow for three more boxes. At that price, I'm stocking up. The purple zip-up reusable bag was 50c (regularly 2.99 or so), the large paper clips were 25c; mailing tubes 75c each (and I may get a few more for poster storage and future science projects). The Beanies were $2.50 each; they were unplanned, but El Burrito fell in Looooove with the Penguin. The other one's a Christmas Beaver; he's mine, because he reminds me of the animated parts of the Red Green Show. Unfortunately, the Penguin has lost his online game code. :(

Then we went to Old Navy to exchange some wrong-sized flag shirts. I lost $3 on the deal; I bought them at 30% off, and the exchange credited me with $3.50 per shirt, but charged me $5 for the correct sizes. The problem was that I exchanged 2, and bought 2 more. If I'd done just the exchange, I probably would have not been charged extra. But oh well. I got one of the new Flag shirts for $2.50, since mens sizes are half price right now. (Apparently the one I got last time was a mens size. Next trip, I got the same size, but in a womens, and it's waay to small. Too bad there's no easy way to tell mens from womens in the Flag shirts.)



We

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hilarity at the library

First, the numbers, since they haven't been updated in a while. I returned some books after my lovely quarterly visit to the dentist yesterday (a slight up-side to having crappy teeth - I'm stocked up on toothbrushes for the next decade), checked out a few yesterday and a few today. So the totals are:42 items out, 1 hold, and 1 very overdue DVD that has to go back before I can check anything else out. Or renew what I've already got, so there goes that plan.

El Burrito had a good time at the library today. We missed storytime (I was wrong about the existence of a Thursday storytime in the summer), but we found $8 worth of goodies on the sale carts. El B. took his stuffed Eeyore along again ("Eeyore loves the library" says El B.), and an older gentleman (okay, 50s or so) commented to El B. on it. El B (who needs a shorter nom de blog) told him that it was his Eeyore (so back off!), and he had feet, and Pooh Bear has hands and feet. The fellow told him that he had an Eeyore at home too, and he'd see El B at the Hundred Acre Wood.

And now, El Burrito is firmly convinced that we saw Christopher Robin at the library today. :)

He's also become a social butterfly. He'll walk up to complete strangers and say "Hi, my name's mumble mumble" - usually followed by "and this is Mommy, my giril" which always cracks me up. I think it's his version of "Hi, I'm Emily Elizabeth, and this is Clifford, my big red dog." He ad libs. He said hello to at least 20 people at the grocery store this weekend. If we passed them in the aisle, he said hello. We saw one woman twice, so she got a "Hello again" on the second pass.

He also walked up to the rockhound club's display case and said "Hi rocks, I'm back!" so he's not picky about who, or what, he'll talk to. :) And he noticed that they'd changed the display, and the green stone that had fallen over was gone. This month, it's geodes and a whacking big piece of iron pyrite that would have convinced me it was gold, at least at first.

At the library today, he walked up to a little girl in the kiddie section and said (honest!) "Hi, my name's El Burrito, and I've got boogers up my nose. Mommy has to get them out." Cracked me up. Later, he insisted on walking up two flights of stairs, where he's never been before. He tried to chin-up on the Periodicals desk to say hello to the staffer there, and got a kick out of looking over the railings to the lower floors (library has a big three-story opening in the center, with long dangly artwork). He liked the Reading Room on the third floor, too. And then we walked back down all those stairs, with a discussion about the right and wrong side of the road/stairs, and a stop to say Hello! to someone walking up the steps.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I've been assimilated

Like I need another hobby!

El Burrito and I went to Hobby Lobby the other day, for one thing: a skein of the cheapest natural-colored wool yarn we could find. Slim choices, but we found one (I Love This Wool in winter white, which is actually only 93% wool, as I just discovered). I've got a plan for some crocheted wool Kleen Kanteen covers, and some dabbling in Kool-Aid dye, which won't work on the Peaches & Creme cotton (found that out too late - so I'll try tea dying, or the plant dyes suggested for Easter eggs). If this all gets done in the next month, I'll enter them in the county fair Home Arts division.

So, I made the mistake of browsing the yarn section with El Burrito, and somehow we came home with two sets of knitting needles. Not sure how it happened, I'm still iffy on crocheting at times, especially counting stitches. But now I'm the owner of a set of Susan Bates 10 inch, 9mm Crystallites in orange ($1.07, or 80% off of $4.99) , and a set of SB 14 inch, 3.75mm metal needles ($1.43, 65% off of $3.99).

And it gets better! My sister scored a few hundred sets of bamboo knitting needles from Craigslist this week (for $20 total!). She and a friend are going to keep some and sell the rest, and I think she's giving me a few. It's like I'm being sucked in by a black hole of knitting!

Today's funny Burrito story

El Burrito took his little Schliech monkey in the bath tonight. Said it need a bath because it had hair on its arms, legs, etc. Started calling it a "water monkey" and floated it in the bathtub toy - the "beautiful pea green boat."

After the bath, he was asking the monkey if he had a good bath or something, and doing a little monkey voice "thank you for the bath." He did this on Tuesday with Eeyore, asking if Eeyore had a good time at the library. Eeyore loved the library, and got to see the ducklings at Summer Reading sign-up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gardening

I finally got around to starting some seeds (in almost-mid-freaking-June!).

My able assistant, a 3-year-old El Burrito, spent the whole time asking me what I was doing, proving he's hit preschooler-hood. And I found out, as I started, that the seed-starting soil mix is apparently do-not-touch: the bag warning recommended using gloves. Which I don't own. Fun.

So, I've got 2 larger pots with 4 sunflower seeds each, and 3 peat pots each of mint, marigolds, lemon balm, and 4-o'clocks. The marigolds and 4-o'clocks are going to be planted in the square of bare dirt between the "porches" downstairs. The dirt there is pretty lousy, but hopefully they'll be able to tough it out. And I'll add some potting soil and fertilizer when I transplant. It's my stab at "guerrilla gardening" for the year. I may also accidentally toss some mint and lemon balm seed into the ditch between our building and the next, along with some more marigold seed. The lawn guys never mow it or otherwise touch it, so it's bare dirt and weeds where the vinca hasn't managed to take hold. Not a lot of sun, but it gets run-off when it rains.

For the next round, I'm going to try to make some starter pots out of newspaper. Then I'll start catnip, zinnias, pansies, petunias, and whatever else I have running around. And the Christmas cacti need to be pruned back, so the cuttings are all going to meet some newspaper pots. Whatever I don't keep will be given away or Freecycled. (Or sold at a yard sale, but once again I haven't been invited to join the "family" yard sale that Least Favorite Sister-in-law is having.)

Yeah, if we manage to get a house, it'll be a pain in the rump to move it all. I'm hoping that this will be the mojo that gets us a house. It's the same principle as every move I made into or out of the dorms - every time I moved, it was the hottest day of the week and usually of the month. It's the corollary to a rainstorm hitting the day after you wash your car.

Family drama

Yes, the blog is quiet. It's proof of my lack of motivation.

I've got a weekend full of family drama to deal with. My sister is coming to visit from out of state, since her husband's dad had a bit of an ATV accident (broken clavicle, plate & screw, chipped vertebrae). She doesn't visit often, and doesn't like to spend a lot of time at Mom's house due to the clutter & mess. Plus the fact that when we visit, most of what we do is eat and watch TV - Mom cooks to feed 3 times the number of actual eaters.

So sis comes up with a feasible (I thought) plan to stay in a motel, visit us for a day in our town, and minimize the amount of annoyance. Which led to phone calls, crankiness, a lovely passive-aggressive guilt-tripping email, and a headache (mine).

Right now, I have no clue what's going on. I'm not sure if we'll have visitors this weekend or not. If we will, I need to do some cleaning in the "public" rooms. If not, I've got more urgent things to deal with. Either way, I'm going to get a lot of crap from someone, it's just a matter of who and how much.

This is why Sis moved out of state, into another whole time zone, and doesn't come home to visit often. Mom's always giving her stuff (gifts, our old childhood stuff, etc) and telling her not to give it away. And then griping when she gets rid of it anyway. You want to control what happens to something, then don't give it away. Sis went back to school for another degree (traditional Chinese medicine, plus acupuncture, to go with her yoga certifications). Our parents haven't really supported her on that. They spend all their time worrying about her lack of job, her DH's job security, how many times they've relocated, etc. And Mom's just overbearing on the subject of more grandkids.

Which is why I didn't go visit when DH was out of town last week. I didn't need the headache. (I got it anyway - daily phone calls to see if I was coming down for a day. Oy.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

More mistaken identity

I've managed to get the local retirement home and Humana to stop cluttering my mailbox, but DH's name is still on a mailing list targeting older folks. (This is because he & his dad have the same first name. Beware, if you plan on doing this to your kid.)

Over the weekend, DH got a nice mailing from the Neptune Society, about free pre-paid cremation, with veterans' benefits (his Dad was in the Army). Such a happy, youthful-feeling thing to get in the mail. (That's sarcasm, there.)

Not sure why I'm getting emails from AARP, but I'm blaming that on spam. And the random seminar mailings have thinned out lately.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A math problem

The gas company sends us 12 self-stick address labels per year (being too cheap to spring for envelopes). We use 12 address labels per year to pay the bill (keeping the PO in business).

So how, I wonder, did we end up with 27 labels sitting in the bill organizer? Aside from having an extra year+ worth, it doesn't add up. Using 7 more this year leaves 20, which isn't a multiple of 12. Either we lost 4 somewhere along the way, or we've gained 8 from spawning labels.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Library day (5-19-09)

So, the stats for today: Returned two books (mine). Checked out one book, one DVD (El Burrito). Talked El Burrito out of checking out a Suze Orman book (strange fascination of his) and Flotsametrics (which I have on my to-read list, but not quite yet - El B. was drawn to the rubber duckie on the front cover). Spent $2.50 at the sale cart. Missed out on another book because I had to chase a certain someone, and someone else picked up the book before I got back. It's on my library hold list now, too.

Right now I have 31 items out - 13 of those are for El Burrito - and 6 on hold.

And I've finished both volumes of Isaac Asimov's autobiography. Now it's on to the memoir, I, Asimov, which covers his whole life, including the last 15 years after his autobiography was written. These are big books, and daunting to look at. In Memory Yet Green (Volume I, 1920-1954) ran 732 pages, but In Joy Still Felt (Volume II, 1954-1978) was a whopping 828 pages. The memoir is around 450 or 500. But don't be scared away, because these books read pretty quickly. The man could write, for sure. The autobio. is written in scenes and snippets, so it's never a long dull plod (unlike some books I've read. Charles Dickens is a prime example.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Progress!

Cleaning/decluttering progress today. I hunted down all the random bags of packing peanuts last night, and DH consolidated them. Ended up with three big leaf-bags full. I was going to take all three to the UPS Store today, but could only fit two in the car and still have room for me and El Burrito. So I kept a bag for our use (was going to keep half a bag, but didn't tell DH that before he bagged everything, and didn't want to fool with it any more last night). The other two went to UPS Store today.

Also, I got out the bag of "clothes to donate" this morning, wrote down an inventory of it, and packed it into two shopping bags. After the UPS Store, we stopped in at a local charity thrift store and donated everything (except my good shopping bags, which got raves from two of the workers). Forgot to take the shoes I had marked to donate, but we can make another trip.

And only spent $2 at the store, on two jigsaw puzzles. One is for me, a 1500-piece illustration of North American marine life. The other is one that El Burrito latched on to, a 550-piece picture of some vintage toys. He's enamored of the fire truck in the photo, and seemed to think there's actually a truck in the box. He's been distracted this afternoon, but I'll have to explain it all to him later. And he's still a bit bothered by the loss of his favorite Hot Wheels two weeks ago.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Coupon day

Coupons, coupons.

I've been printing pages and pages of coupons from online sites (mostly $1 coupons, yay). Found some good ones for Kraft and Kelloggs (who are tempting me with their Star Trek promotions). And now I'm clipping and sorting the coupons from yesterday's paper, plus the coupon inserts I got from the library's coupon-swapping bin. Most of them will go right back to the swap bin, but I did find a $1 coupon for Smuckers.

I just wish the coupons printed faster. Don't know if it's the dial-up connection or the PC, but it's ssssssssllllooooooowwwwww going. Takes forever to spool to the printer, and Firefox has crashed three times so far.

I got the other coupons sorted over the weekend. Weeded out everything we won't use and left that pile in the swap bin, then sorted everything I kept into categories with paper clips. May move to an accordion folder (small one), because I don't think the clips are going to work out well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bits of progress

Little bits of progress today:

  • The recycling pile is growing
  • I found the $5 Walgreens coupon that expires tomorrow
  • I got our address off of a catalog mailing list
  • Called the nearest UPS Store and found out that they do accept packing peanuts to be reused. So I can get rid of at least two trash bags of peanuts (I'm keeping some to pack my fragile stuff when we move).
Now I just need my allergies to go away, and convince Coupons.com to print.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday again

Yeah, it's been a while. Did anyone notice?

Anyway. Another library trip today. I returned two very very very overdue books, and didn't check anything out. Which makes today's numbers 29 items out, five on hold.

Then I spent $10.50 at the book sale. It's the first Tuesday of the month, so it was a big sale. I missed the Ansel Adams calendars (El Burrito was being over-active), but I got one book of Frederic Remington prints that I almost bid on in an online auction a while back, and one of Charles Russell, plus some other assorted stuff. El Burrito found two tractor books, and was happy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

NaBloPoMo

Apparently April is/was NaBloPoMo month, and I didn't know.

Lovely weather. Redbuds are blooming, forsythia waning, looks like the lilacs escaped the freeze.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random notes

National Geographic doesn't do well when wet. Spilled tea = wrinkles and cracks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Redbook test

I accidentally subscribed to Redbook this month, while entering one of their contests. Since it was just $6.xx, and I've already gotten the first issue, I'm doing a test.

Will Redbook have enough coupons* to pay for the subscription?
* Coupons that we'll actually use; other stuff won't count.

Stay tuned.

Month 1: The April issue did have a coupon insert with the following:
  • $1.50 and $2.00 on Tena
  • 75c on French's French Fried Onions
  • $1 and $2.25 on Bounty paper towels, only good at Target (*)
  • $1 on Glade infusion sprays
  • 55c on Red Baron singles
  • $1 on various Ocean Spray drinks
  • $1 and $1 on Johnsonville sausage
  • $1 on Marzetti dressing
  • 75c on Shout
  • 65c on Domino sugar (*)
Plus a $2 Cetaphil coupon in an ad. (*)

Overall total: $16.42
Usable total: Maybe $3.65. Maybe not; it depends on when we need paper towels again. I'd love to stock up, but we don't have a lot of storage space for bulky stuff.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The amazing growing mending pile

My pile of "Stuff to Fix" is getting bigger and bigger. I may have to break out the sewing box tonight.

It started with a second belt for El Burrito, now that he's almost outgrown the first one; navy, since Hobby Lobby was out of the cotton web and JoAnn's Fabric only had navy, no khaki.

My purse has been having issues for a while - a zipper and the nearby seam coming unstitched. Things are getting worse, so that needs to be dealt with.

So I stop at Hobby Lobby for a curved needle, because the zipper job will be a frustrating piece of work. And HL had khaki cotton web, so I bought a yard, plus more D-rings.

Found out on a rainy day last week that the umbrella has two ribs torn loose from the fabric.

Last weekend, I noticed that one of our blue HyVee shopping bags has a loose seam in one corner. Checked the others, and there are a couple more seam issues. For a $1 bag, they're doing well, and the fix seems like it'll be easy enough. My first time sewing "non-woven polypropylene" - we'll see how it goes.

And today I noticed that my red Acme Workhorse bag has some loose stitching on one inside corner.

I may be sewing while I watch NCIS tonight. At least I've got a thimble now - that cotton web can be tough going.

Did I mention? - no sewing machine. This is all hand work. Something else for the When We Move list.

Library Day!

Another library trip.

Returned one book (Big Box Reuse - interesting read, especially with an empty Circuit City, Linens & Things, and Ethan Allen within shouting distance, plus a MegaMarket that's been abandoned for 5+ years). Checked out 5 books and 3 DVDs, I think (research for muffins & scones). Grand total: 37 items out, 9 on hold (3 of those unreleased - I'm #37! on the last Percy Jackson list).

We spent $6.50 at the sale, and could have scored some Calvin & Hobbes if I could remember what I already have. El Burrito's book-sale buddy wasn't there, so he was pretty disappointed. It got worse when he saw a penny on the floor at the checkout - he tried to pick it up and managed instead to push it under the edge of the counter, where it's apparently going to be for a while. I didn't think there was that much space, with the carpet, but there was. The circ desk assistant looked for it, after he started jumping up and down and asking for his "quarter" but it's a goner. I gave him a penny from my purse as a distraction.

Then we stopped at Shelter Garden on the way home. Things looked good, in spite of the possible hard freeze last night. Got some pictures, and El Burrito had too much fun. He splashed in a couple of the ponds (got close to falling in to one) and tried to snag some pennies out of one of the small ponds. He's a little perturbed that there's all these "pennies" laying around, and he can't pick them up.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Library Day!

A breezy day for a library trip.

We returned I think 4 books and a CD today (and a couple on Saturday), and checked out 4 books. Totals now are 33 items out and 7 on hold.

Then we spent $10 at the sale carts. Half of that was for El Burrito, who got a couple of Easter books, 3 Pooh books, and a book about Biscuit the puppy. The other half was books for me and for DH, mostly historical stuff, mainly sailing-related.

And El Burrito looked at the Biscuit book while I downloaded 350MB of podcasts on the library's amazingly fast Internet access. Wish they'd get some decent mice, though.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pictures

As promised, pictures:


"Building a word" at the library. (Complete with the "bloop bloop" sound effects.)


The waterfall at Shelter Garden is running again. No koi yet; still too cold.

Renovation of the Rose Garden: Two metal arches which I think will end up as rose arbors with benches underneath (there's a concrete slab under each arch, so no roses there). The hedge of Knock-out Roses along the sidewalk has been replaced with the triangular evergreens on the left.


New statue in the pond in the Japanese maples. Until last year, this pond had a fish standing on its tail, spouting water. This year the fish was replaced with this dragon. He doesn't spout water, but the pump outlet is in a slightly iffy place.

Crocus blooming in the Japanese maples.

DH fishing El Burrito's cars out of the water cascade in the Fern Garden.

New walkways in the Rock Garden.

More decluttering

There's a mild form of spring cleaning going on.

I cleaned one shelf of the fridge last night, and proved that we aren't the pickle-crazy fools we thought we were. (That, or just that we shouldn't shop with coupons when we're hungry.) I'm sad and slightly embarrassed to say that I tossed 5 and a half jars of pickles in the trash. The half-jar was dated 1999. The full jars were slightly fresher, but still a couple years past their prime. Luckily today was trash day, because the pickles were still pickle-scented.

The partial jar of Spanish olives is still in the fridge. Oddly, it has no date anywhere on the jar, lid, or label. We're also still the owners of 2 partial jars of dill relish and a jar of hamburger pickles.

This is why we keep a Sharpie in the kitchen now and put a date on anything food-like when we buy it.

After the fridge cleaning, I changed the filter in the furnace (kind of a pain to do, since you have to perch on the clothes dryer to reach the filter), and cleaned off the shelf over the washer & dryer. Nothing got tossed other than some dust bunnies, but the handful of laundry samples is dust-free and ready to be sampled. Today I used the Tide Cold Water sample, which seems to work pretty well.

I also tested another tip for getting rid of static electricity in the dryer - tossing in a fist-sized ball of aluminum foil. So far, it seems to be effective, although the higher ambient humidity could be affecting things. I think it also left some silver scuffs on the dryer barrel, but they'll go along with the blue-jean stains on the back of the dryer. I also use Downy sometimes (diluted to about 25% of the recommended usage) and half-sheets of Bounce, plus distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle. I don't care much for the Downy's scent, and we take long enough to use a bottle that it goes kind of sludgy at the end, in spite of being watered down and shaken up.

All of that is only used on clothes & blankets, though. The bath & kitchen towels only get vinegar, so they stay absorbent. Using softeners on them sort of defeats the purpose. Plus, a rough towel is good for exfoliating. :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring is close!

It's got to be almost spring. I've been on generic Claritin for 3 weeks, and switched over this week to generic Zyrtec. It seems to keep a better lid on the so-itchy-I-can't-stand-it eyes. Not as cheap as the loratadine, but I'll pay to not scratch my eyes out.

El Burrito skipped storytime yesterday. I was late going back to wake him up, and he wasn't in any hurry to get up anyway. He's been off his feed all week for some reason - allergies, cold, new molars, who knows. But definitely not his usual appetite. On Thursday, he had 3 bites of Cheerios for breakfast, 4 bites of cottage cheese and some goldfish for lunch, and 2 spoonfuls of applesauce and some teddy grahams for dinner. Plus a lot of milk.

So, since he was under the weather and we were already behind schedule, we skipped storytime. He didn't catch on until later, when he told me very bluntly to change my shirt, change my pants, and change my socks so we could go somewhere.

We did go over to Shelter Garden around lunchtime, since it was a nice day. They've filled up all the ponds and fountains, although the koi and goldfish aren't out yet. That'll be another few weeks, I'd say. Someone - I'm not naming names - tossed his toy car in one of the little waterfalls, and was a little put out that we wouldn't fish the pennies out for his bank.

Pictures later.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Library tripping in the rain

It was raining cats and dogs (and small rodents) for our library trip. And we don't have raincoats. <>

We returned 4 books and checked out two, so I've now got 36 items out and 5 on hold. I've finished all the Lois Meade mysteries that are out (written by Ann Purser) and started on The 39 Clues today.

Then we spent a whopping 50 cents at the sale cart - El Burrito got a Snoopy book.

And he managed to get soaked from the knees down on the way home - he stuck his foot under the water running off the carport. Thought it was fun. :) Yeah, and his Lightning McQueen shoes aren't waterproof. He was asking me to "wipe off my pants" when we got in the house.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Last Battlestar

Warning: if you haven't seen the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, and you don't want to know what's going to happen, then don't read this!

On to my brief and slightly disorganized notes on the last episode.

Overall, it wasn't the depressing, bloody, high-body-count finale I was expecting (along the lines of Forever Knight and Angel, where the survivors were outnumbered by the corpses). Of course, they'd killed off a substantial number of main and secondary (and tertiary) characters in the last four seasons, so it's not like everyone survived the whole series. (RIP Dualla, Billy, Cally, and too many others for me to list here.) Other than President (ex-President?) Roslin, the only other casualties were red-shirts and Cylons. The Big Battle ended with 45 minutes left before the end, and I sat through a commercial break wondering what they were going to do to fill the time. It actually ended on kind of a happy note, with finding another Earth, setting up settlements, and the idea that they survived to have descendants 150,000 years later.


Random notes, not in order:

  • Did NOT need the Adama drunken barfing scene - we were eating dinner at the time!
  • So their Earth 1 was not our Earth, but then Starbuck led them to our earth, 150,000 years ago. Meaning that the nuked "Earth" wasn't our Earth.
  • Surprised at Cavil's end. (Apparently that was Dean Stockwell's idea, according to an interview I read.)
  • Never found out about the 7s and their hypothetical connection with Starbuck and/or Daddy Starbuck.
  • Who is Lt/Adm Hoshi? I haven't watched Razor yet, which probably would fill in some gaps. May have to buy/rent/borrow the DVDs for the whole series, if we ever have time to watch them. Our library doesn't own any (yet), so I may have to suggest them.
  • Was Starbuck an angel or whatever, a la Head-6 and Head-Baltar? Cylon? Asgard with a transporter? I was really wanting to find out how Kara found her own corpse.
  • I'm glad that Galen took out the bitch that killed Cally. I know a lot of fans didn't like Cally, but I did.
  • Is Adama going to starve to death beside Laura's grave? He didn't seem to have packed any supplies before he flew off into the sunset with her.
  • Glossed over the whole getting the fleet to Starbucks random jump location.
  • What happened to Nicky & his bio-dad?
  • Lee's all alone now (Starbuck, Adm. Adama, Dee all dead/disappeared).
  • Did we really need a Ron Moore cameo at the end?
  • Awesome Cottle/Roslin scene.
  • Viva President Lampkin! Finally with a real live (presumably?) dog.
  • End robot footage too cheesey/obvious/unsubtle?
  • Really loved the theme from the Original BSG music when the Galactica was falling apart.
And that's about it for the first viewing. I recorded it and plan to watch again. I'd like to watch the last three hours at once, but that seems unlikely to happen these days.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Library Trips

We've been to the library twice this week, and sadly, I haven't managed to get any computer time yet this week.

Tuesday, we returned 2 books, checked out 3, I think, and spent $6 at the sale. El Burrito got lucky and found Little Lamb's Easter Surprise - it's one of a set of 4, and we have 2 of the others. I was hoping to pick up the next Lois Meade book by Ann Purser, but it's apparently been misplaced on the Hold shelf, since they couldn't find it today, either.

Today was Storytime day. Last week, El Burrito played with another little boy, and they actually shared and swapped toy cars for a while. Surprised me, because he hasn't played a lot with other kids (except for older cousins), and he was very good about letting the other boy play with Miss Sally, his favorite car.

When we stopped at the library on Sunday, he was asking where his little friend was. Had to disappoint him and tell him that the other boy wasn't going to be at the library every time we were there.

Today after Storytime, his buddy was there again. And they played happily, swapping cars, for about half an hour before we had to leave. Another car-crazy boy came over to play too, so it was pretty fun for them all, I guess. It was hilarious, though, when El Burrito was walking around calling his friend's name (after I reminded him what "That Boy"'s name was), and he was looking right at him. That's my boy - good with names, lousy with faces. But I'm glad he's found some kids he likes to play with, and seems to be okay with the sharing.

He's actually doing some unprompted sharing, too. He was sitting with me in Storytime, holding his two cars. Pushes his cars over toward the little girl sitting next to us, and says something along the lines of "Here, Little Girl. You play with them." He may have called her Baby, because he's been calling every little kid Baby instead of Girl or Boy. (There's also some gender confusion - everyone's a Boy lately.)

Plus, El Burrito found a nickel on the floor at the library. He's on a roll - found a penny at the library last week (and held it in his fist all the way home, even with a Post Office stop), and found a whopping 86 cents at the grocery store last week. Three quarters, a dime, and a penny, all by the floral department. I never find quarters. :(