Monday, November 23, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust....

A second bra has broken right in the middle of the underwire. These were cheapy Lane Bryant bras I've been using as 'work' bras, so more for gardening and building work than go-to-work work. Unbelievable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just Between Us Girls...

Something happened to me recently that I feel the need to share because I think it is funny.

I've been needing some new bras for a while and I've been putting off ordering them because it is just such an ordeal. You see, I'm what is commonly referred to as a well-endowed lady. I think the politically correct term is 'bodacious ta-tas.'

It is a pain in the anatomy for me to buy new bras because I cannot walk into any store and just buy them off the rack, so to speak. I have found few styles in my size in the US and most of them look like they were designed by Nazi engineers: they're ugly.

I have found, however, that beautiful bras in my size are available by the truckload in England. So, I get my bras on Ebay UK AND have them shipped 'Royal Mail' for less than the Nazi bras in the US would be. And they're pretty and they do the work that is needed. But I usually don't order very often because it is still a chunk of money and I tend to have very specific style and color needs, and I like to order two from the same seller to save on shipping, so it sometimes takes a bit of work to find them.

So, this is what I've been putting off. I've been saying for months that I needed to do it, I've been then repeatedly NOT doing it. Repeat. Repeat.

So, I then got a kick in the pants to get moving on this when my husband did some laundry a couple weeks ago. One of the hooks got caught in the washing machine and pulled into a pointy metal death stick that would put someone's eye out at 20 paces. So, there's one bra down for the count.

I still put off ordering....until....

The day we poured concrete for the new garage, I sat down to eat some lunch....and the underwire in the left side snapped in half right in the middle. I'm lucky I didn't cut myself, but fortunately it didn't cut through the fabric.

So, now I'm down two bras....and I finally got online and ordered two replacements. There's something about getting lingerie in a package marked 'Royal Mail.'

Mysterious ways, indeed....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Introspectrus, Part 5

Fall is winding down and although we have a construction project winding up, Fall leading into Winter still is my time to slow down, take stock, decide on changes, refresh and recharge, all that stuff. I think many people feel this way about Winter, it is the time of rest.

One of the things I’m thinking about quite a bit is how the things and people that surround me affect my life and the way I live it and view it. Negativity has been rearing its ugly head again recently, and I’m taking another series of steps to remove it and rethink things.

For example, at work we’re having a ‘situation’ where one of my coworkers is not getting work done as quickly as the contract states it needs to be done. A meeting was scheduled today for The Powers That Be to 'discuss' it. I just got a very acidic phone call from a different coworker asking if the meeting had happened and if the ‘problem’ coworker had been fired yet. She said that she is a strong believer in revenge, and she just wants to see him get what he deserves. End quote.


And now I have a headache. Coincidence? Negativity breeds negativity, no? Need to find a way to pull the fangs here, or at least direct them elsewhere.

Negative, bitter people drain me and make me feel negative and bitter. I think we're all like sponges: happy people make me feel good. Negative people make me feel bad. This is not rocket science. To take a phrase from Seinfeld, I’ve decided the negative people are no longer sponge-worthy.

A few people in my life have just stopped where they are and refuse to move forward, and their ‘extra’ time and energy are turning destructive. I’ve decided to not let it destroy me as well. I need to find a way to get rid of it where possible and block it where not possible (like work). That’s going to be the hard part.

Another energy-drain had been television. We camped out in front of the TV and watched shows all evening like Family Guy, 2 1/2 Men, which are funny but usually at the expense of other people….so, more negativity.….until the TV went out (don’t ask). We decided not to sign up for another service. We did sign up for the cheapest Netflix option, and that has been working out beautifully for us. We’ve seen the first two seasons of Night Court and the first 4 of Are You Being Served? and a few great movies.

Then, recently dad told us he wanted to get us a DVD player that runs .avi files, so we could just download entire movies and seasons from the computer and watch them….and he was shocked when I said we weren’t interested. I mean, he was speechless. My father is either in front of the computer or in front of the TV, there is nothing else. OTOH, Matt and I have been doing other things, and talking! My god, talking! Eating dinner at the table! Wow.

One other ‘entertainment’ item to go is probably going to be Facebook. I don’t like it. I don’t really use it. I don’t talk to these people. I haven’t seen most of my HS classmates in 15 years, I don't want to get together with them anytime soon. Where do these people come from? Do any of them remember how mean they were to me then? I don’t share pictures there and I don’t want to. So, mostly negative feelings. I’ve gotten somewhat into a game there recently, but that interest will wane. Why keep it up? Seriously, why? So, probably the end of December will be my last with Facebook. And I actually am looking forward to that.

Finding pastimes that I enjoy is also a goal. Obviously I know several. I garden, but that’s kind of hard in winter. I can start planning next year’s gardens, though. Seed catalogs have already started arriving! I enjoy reading, jewelry making, some crafting. I’m thinking of setting up the sewing machine and getting a few projects to work on.

I’m also going to be working on getting some piles of stuff cleaned up, filed, sorted, put away. Some jewelry projects started and maybe finished, and the jewelry workspace cleaned up. I’ve realized that while I feel comfortable with clutter and piles, the fact that it makes my entire life more cluttered is not a good tradeoff. And it isn’t fair to Matt, either. So, this is another form of negativity that I’m working on.

I also plan on doing some cooking. I love to cook, and when I have time and no one underfoot I like to cook well. I’m thinking dreamily about a cranberry-orange tart, coffee crème brulees, and maybe a few batches of cookies and bourbon balls. I have a huge stack of recipes that I want to try, I’ll probably pull a few and do them, now that I have some time.

I’m also going to take Max a few places to run around, which is grand fun. One Thanksgiving week we took a walk through the trails on the Battlefield and saw a red fox. Another time, we went to campus and I let him run around a field for as long as he wanted. He’s good off-leash, and we can trust him to come back when we call him. This is almost miraculous for a terrier. He will stop chasing a bunny and come back when we call him. Amazing little guy.

So, replacing negative time with positive, negative people with positive, negative thoughts with positive.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Amazon Subscribe & Save

I’ve recently discovered the joys and wonders of Amazon Grocery’s Subscribe and Save program. Basically, you pick a product from their Grocery department, decide how often you’d like it delivered (1-, 2-, 3-, or 6-month options), and they ship it to you. When you sign up you get a 15% discount and free shipping.

How cool is that? Not all products are available with the Subscribe and Save option, though, be sure to look carefully. Most everything is a bulk item, so 3 bags of coffee or a 4-pack of Tums. A 10-pack of dog treats. You get the idea.

So, I started going through some of the things we buy on a semi-regular basis and found that quite a few of them are eligible and are good deal. Some are horrible deals, though. Here are some examples:

Tums – I use a lot of Tums. I priced some at the local grocery store against Amazon’s prices and found that the 4-pack of 150count bottles was a decent deal. For 4 bottles I got a savings of a whole $1.84 per order.

Degree women’s deodorant – Degree has some ‘fancy’ deodorants at the grocery store for $4.99. On Amazon they are sold as a 4-pack and it works out to $4.12/each, which is a savings of $3.48 per order. For the non fancy deodorants the savings is much the same, but those are in the $2 and change ballpark each.

Coffee – I’ve been trying some different varieties of coffee because they don’t offer the things I know we like (Starbucks Caffe Verona, Millstone Foglifter, 8 O’Clock Columbian) through the subscribe and save. So far, I’ve been getting things for $6.77 to as low as $5.93 per 12oz bag. Great, since some of the things we usually get are usually around $7.99. So, a savings of as much as $8.24/order.

Puppydog treats – I found my best deals here. Max likes the molasses and peanut butter Blue Dog Bakery treats and GoodBites by Pedigree. At the local store, both these are over $4.00. At Amazon, they are $3.74 and $3.19, respectively. So, using $4 as the compare-to price if I order both of these through Amazon I’m saving a grand total of $9.66.

Paper towels – Amazon should be ashamed of themselves for offering these at around $2.31/roll for Bounty select-a-size!

Tissues – Not quite as bad as paper towels at $1.03/box, but I can get them locally for $.79.

Toilet paper – because of our septic system we use Scott. On Amazon it works out to $.84/roll. Locally it runs $.68/roll to $.82/roll.

Hellman’s Mayo – This one was all over the place. Some sizes they offer at Amazon they don’t offer in the grocery stores. Go figure. Anyway, I found that the only size that was cheaper on Amazon was a whopping penny difference. So, may as well get them locally.

Dawn Foam dish soap - I really like the lime scent Dawn foam, which winds up to be about $.10-$.40 cheaper on Amazon in bulk than at WalMart, which is the only grocery around here that carries the lime.

Bounce dryer sheets –One box of 120ct at the store was $6.29. Amazon has them for $5.85, a difference of $1.32/order.

Good Seasons salad dressing packets – are $3.99 for a 4-pack. Amazon has them for $3.01/four-pack. So a savings of $.98/order.

Yorkie Bacon – we have a pill we have to give Max every night, and in order to make him take it we break it up and put it in a couple tsps of Hormel real bacon bits. We refer to it as his ‘bacon treatment.’ At the grocery store, it works out to $3.91/bag. Amazon has 6-packs that come out to $3.25/bag. This is NOT a subscribe and save product, either. This is a regular savings for ordering in bulk, a difference of $3.96/order.

So, say I ordered these every 6 months (except the coffee which would be more often). When I add it all up, it comes to approximately $54.26 saved every 6 months. So, $110/year. For shopping from the computer.

And you can bet I’m looking for more deals as I go.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Books I Love

I was on my way to Gettysburg to pick up my mum to walk around town, and I was thinking about my list of favorite novels. You know, the ones I would want with me if I were on a deserted island? That list. And I was trying to think about what attracted me to them, what was the common factor….

And I think, in part at least, I may have found the answer. Or answers, because there seems to be more than one common denominator. First, the list (in no particular order) with a synopsis (as seen by me) of the main stories:

Dune by Frank Herbert – I think this is one of maybe 3 books by which all other SciFi books are judged. Herbert created his Dune universe with such detail that other writers struggle to even come close and just cannot, can never compare.

Basically, Paul-Maud’ib Attreides must find his way within a new culture to become what he was born to be: their savior. It sounds so simple.

Dune is a series as well, but I just don’t like the rest of the books…

Ender’s Game (series of ?) by Orson Scott Card – First, I want to say that while I love the writing of Card, I do not hold by most of his very vocal opinions or politics. OK, now that that’s out of the way…One of my coworkers introduced me to Ender’s Game, and a few years later I introduced a new coworker to Ender’s Game. She told me that not only couldn’t she put it down, she said “I’m glad I met you if only for the fact that you introduced me to this book.” Yeah, it is that kind of book.

Card writes both children and conversation VERY well. Scary well. And just because it is a book ABOUT children does not mean it is a book FOR children, which a lot of public libraries fail to comprehend.

Ender’s Game is set in the future. Even though the law states only two children per family the government has allowed the Wiggin family to have Ender, the third child, because the two elder kids had such potential for Battle School. Ender was born to be the commander of our forces against the Buggers, an alien race bent on having our planet. We’ve fought them off twice, and the Battle School is the preparation for the third wave.

But you never really see the Buggers. The story focuses on 5yo Ender’s years in Battle School. This book is about him finding his way alone: through the school’s army groups, learning how to lead, manage people, beat the system, OWN the system and make it his, all the while not knowing that he is the one they’ve set their hopes on to save us all. The secondary story is how his older brother (the psychopath) and sister (compassion itself) are manipulating politics on earth.

This book is used to teach management psychology at Quantico. Seriously. Another book in the series, Ender’s Shadow, looks at the same events as Ender’s Game from the POV of another of the main characters at Battle School, and amazingly is just as good as the original.

The first chapter

First chapter of Ender’s Shadow

Jani Killian (series of 5) by Kristine Smith – Another SciFi series, the main character here is female, a woman who 18 years ago almost died in the Idomeni civil war. Jani was illegally pieced back together from human and idomeni DNA and has been alone and on the run from the military/authority ever since. Now she finds herself in the middle of human/alien politics and religion. Again. Oh, and she’s actively started to hybridize.

The characters here are incredibly well fleshed-out and believable. Very human, even the aliens. I love love the idomeni ambassador, who will occasionally escape his well-guarded embassy in Chicago and take joyrides through the countryside or go to the local playground to learn how to see-saw from some kids. Eventually they find him and drag him back.

I also adore one of the love interests/main characters who is a sociopath (cannot feel human emotions) and uses it soooo well. Jani accepts this and (this is the most interesting thing here) does not try to change him. Theirs is a most interesting relationship because of this, how many novels have you ever read where a male has a flaw and the woman does not try to ‘fix’ him or bring him around?

One of the things I enjoy about this series is that Jani forces a lot of the antagonistic characters to do what she wants them to do, and it is fun to watch them swallow the bitter medicine.

Alvin Maker (series of 6) by Orson Scott Card – Yes, another series by Card. I’m currently finishing rereading this series. This one is set in the early 1800s of the United States. It is a mix of fantasy and alternate history. This series is based on what could have been….if people really did have special abilities that would have marked them as ‘witches’ in Europe, and Europe had sent them to North America instead of hanging or burning them. Hm.

The story starts out with Alvin’s birth. He was born a Maker. There hasn’t been a Maker born in about 2000 years. You can do the math and figure out what that means.

Through the 6 books, you follow Alvin as he learns about himself and his gifts and tries to figure out what they are good for. He knows he’s supposed to build the Crystal City (aka, City of God), but he doesn’t know how or why. And there are forces at work to stop him at all costs.

There are also a lot of friends. Peggy, the torch, can see within everyone all their possible futures. Arthur Stuart, the child of a runaway slave, can mimic everyone in their own voice and can talk to birds. Card always does names so well in his writing, too. Alvin’s brothers are named Vigor, Measure, and the twins Wastenot and Wantnot. His brother-in-law is Armor-of-God Weaver.

He also meets a lot of people from our own history, but they are rewritten into different characters: Abe Lincoln, Daniel Webster, William Harrison, Tecumseh, and John Adams all make appearances. The story of how General George Washington was tried and put to death for treason is told in the first book. My favorite is William Blake, who is called ‘Taleswapper’ in this series.

This all sounds incredibly silly, and I’ve never really liked ‘fantasy’ because it always sounds so silly and childish and unbelievable. This is believable. Again, these aren’t kids books. There is a lot of humor in these books. A lot of humanity, an awful lot that makes you think about you and your place in the world, with other people, with religion, humanity as a whole. I cannot recommend this series enough.

First chapter of Seventh Son

First chapter of Heartfire.

Kate Shugak (series of ?) by Dana Stabenow – This is the only series here that isn’t SciFi or Fantasy. This is a mystery series based in Alaska with a female Alaskan-native protagonist. Over the course of the 15 or so books of this series, Kate goes from fingers-in-ears no-don’t-wanna-be-involved to tribal elder of her local Aleut tribal conference. She is tough, she is funny, she has a wolf. Ok, only half, but still.

One of my favorites (and a good place to start for a good ride, novel-wise) is Breakup. Breakup is the time in Alaska when everything starts to thaw out….snow….ice on the rivers….and people. By which I mean people coming out of a long winter and going a little stir-crazy….as well as murdered people actually thawing out. In this novel, a jet engine lands on her homestead, a shoot-out takes place (twice) at the roadhouse, a bear attacks a woman, the Snobs from Nob Hill visit their daughter, a bunch of hikers have a shot of Middle Finger, and several moose and elk run around, scared to death. Some people do, too.

Kate Abridged video on YouTube. I don’t think I’ve read the last 3-5 of these. Yet!

Author’s website

What do all these have in common? I’ve identified several things:

  • All the protagonists are alone, singular, solitary people.
  • All these novels have something to do with an exploration of religion and/or culture, and
  • All the protagonists are trying to find their way (job, mission, purpose) in life.
  • In a less serious vein, all the books have a wonderful witty and sharp humor to them. The kind I really enjoy. No puns. Just dry wit.
  • I’m sure there is another that I haven’t noticed yet.

And because I want to share them so much I’m going to do a giveaway. Rules are:

-Comment on THIS blog entry,

-I’ll pull a random number on Thanksgiving, or the next day if I forget, and

-If you win, you tell me which book from any of these series’ you are interested in and I’ll send the paperback to you.

Please pass it around, a random number between, say, 3 comments is no fun.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A 4-Day Weekend!!!

I had a wonderful 4-day weekend, much needed relaxation, rest, and getting some chores done that had been on hold while preparing for the big concrete pour Saturday morning.

Thursday, I started a new pendant commissioned by a coworker. I’ll post a picture of it when it’s done.

I also met Matt for lunch, got my hair cut, and picked up a $3 pair of sneakers to wear while doing concrete. They didn’t get too messed up, either, so I can save them for when we pour the two patios, too.

Thursday afternoon I spent planting some Dutch iris bulbs and some tulips with Max, and got finished just before the skies opened up.

Friday, I met mom and we walked around downtown Gettysburg, visiting the shops and scouting out some Christmas presents. I got my mom a Williamsburg Pottery vase, which she collects, and Matt a book on Masons. I also saw some things I want to price out and may go back and buy. I got Max a doggy jacket, with a detachable hood. He loves the jacket, but I’m not going to use the hood. Here's why:

Friday evening, we finished the final prep for concrete.

Concrete happened Saturday morning. It went well, I hope to post more on my garden blog Wednesday or Thursday. I also worked in the garden a bit.

We also took a nap. It was one of those much needed naps, but disconcerting. You know, when you fall asleep the sun is blazing through the window, when you wake up it is pitch dark. It just feels so strange when that happens, is it just me?

Sunday we went and stared at the concrete slab for a bit while we drank our coffee, smiling like fools. I also finished what I’d started on Saturday afternoon – the shallots and garlic are finally in the ground!!! Yay!!!

We also did a little laundry on Sunday evening, and I started playing the Roller Coaster game on Facebook, which I am now addicted to. Ahem. Just when I was thinking of quitting Facebook, too….

Monday, November 09, 2009

Happy German Reunification!!!

When the wall came down, I was in 9th grade and I was taking German 1 in school. We stopped all regular lessons so we could talk about history and everything that was going on.

One day a few weeks after the wall came down, our teacher told us about a project (pre-internet, by the way) that a German Language teachers group had decided to start. We, the American German Language students, could write letters to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl requesting German penpals. I think everyone in the class did this.

Weeks and months later, we found out that the Chancellor's office had been swamped with BAGS of letters from American students requesting penpals. The Chancellor had to hire staff just to handle the mail.
As a thank you, we all received posters of the people standing on and around the wall. I found the poster again recently, in the garage when we were cleaning it out. He also sent a letter in both English and German, saying that because of our initiative we were now part of the history that surrounded the events.

Months after that I got my penpal. Her name was Kirstin and she was from East Berlin. We corresponded for years. I still have her picture somewhere.

What is your German Reunification story?

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I went for a walk around campus yesterday and took my camera.

The maples on the main avenue, with sycamores behind. They all turn the most beautiful orange every year:
Three of the old sycamores:
The building I work in, with a blue arrow pointing to my window:
Some of the interesting, old stained glass windows in the chapel:
On the right side around the corner is a door to the tunnels that wander below campus. Seriously. The campus is a very old nunnery for the Daughters of Charity. When the sisters would come back for their retreats every year, they weren't allowed to be seen (this was a loooong time ago). They would go from building to building via the tunnels. I think the small door at the bottom was for some purpose dealing with those on retreat, but I'm not sure. Many of the tunnels are still in use today for steam lines and other utilities, but some have caved in:
I'd love to know the story behind these, aren't they beautiful:
The two ginkos on campus are in their full beauty right now:
And a bird nest:
Love the gnarly tree:
I think we have more emergency vehicles on campus sometimes than they do in some major cities:
I wandered over to the fallen firefigter memorial for the first time in years, I think. This is from the 9/11 list of names. Whenever I see the list, my eyes are always drawn to this pair, the Sr. and Jr.
The hazards of parking on campus (that is my car on the right):

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Lure Course Trials

Matt and I and our friend Angie met up for breakfast recently and then went to a nearby soggy field to watch the local Saluki club host its Sighthound Lure Trials. It is a very interesting thing to see, especially when the field is somewhat under water.

They hook up a rope to a motor, string it along the field, and attach 3 plastic bags to it. Those are the lures. Then they set lose, turn the dogs loose in heats of 1, 2, or 3, and the judges figure out scores. I have little idea on score, I don't believe it is a timed thing.

Above are some (I think) Ibizan hounds. Below are the two Afghans they had.And another view of the Afghans, waiting to be turned loose. Did I mention it was in the high 30s?

You can see how wet the field was here:I think this is a Borzoi or possibly a Saluki. I can't keep them straight. He/she is watching the races, intently:

This is a Rhodesian Ridgeback, also watching...very intently.
I think this is another Ibizan:
And some greyhounds:
I have another set of pictures, I'll post them later.

Monday, November 02, 2009


I often read the blog of one of my favorite writers, Kristine Smith. Recently she brought up NaNoWriMo, which is slang for the National Novel Writing Month. Basically, you commit to writing 5000 words/day for the whole month and tada! At the end of November you have a novel. She is considering signing up.

I am fascinated by this but I’m not going to sign up because I’m not a writer.

Then, another blog I read brought up NaBloPoMo, which is slang for National Blog Posting Month. The idea here is that you commit to posting on your blog every day of November.

This is one I’m going to sign up for. I’ve already missed a couple days, but hey. No one is perfect.

This is especially challenging because I have two blogs. Do I commit to post to both of them every day, or should I switch off? I’m going to choose to switch off. I don't consider this cheating.....yeah. This will also force me to be more creative in my posting, less I bore people.

Anyway, the challenge is here: sign up and I won’t call you a wimp. Hah.