Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ticket Nazis

If you recall, I was all excited about the Police reunion tour. My excitement and enthusiasm soon took a couple of major setbacks.

First, when I started checking tour dates, everything close by (Chicago, St. Louis) was during our summer vacation. So I thought I'd check alternatives. Vegas seemed like a good bet (HA! That was accidental!), because we could fly in quick for a weekend. When I started checking prices for all the venues, I couldn't believe my eyes. The cheapest ticket in Chicago and St. Louis was $275. The cheapest in Vegas was $630. No joke. (The highest in Vegas was upwards of six grand. Unreal.)

It looks like they're adding additional shows, but the dates haven't been decided yet. There's still hope, and I DO hope we get to see them. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for possibilities.

The ticket prices just boggled my mind. I have to wonder: where did these inflated prices come from? Did the band set the prices? (If so, shame on you, Police, for making this inaccessible to so many of your fans.) Do the venues set the prices? Is it ticket brokers? What happened to the cheap seats? (Although in this case, cheap is relative--it looks like the cheapest seats are around $50, but I saw none of those for sale anywhere.) Yeah, we could probably spring for some of these higher-priced tickets, as well as fly somewhere to see them. But you know what? It becomes a matter of principle. Is entertainment so important that you'd blow a thousand or so finding it? My answer is no. I love the band, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

If a reincarnated Elvis were playing a gig somewhere, THEN we'd talk.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Caribbean Dreamin'

It's a nasty day here in the Midwest. I had to work this morning, so I drove to work in a soupy mix of ice, water, and snow. (It could have been worse and been all ice.) I've never driven in anything quite like it before. No problems, just took it easy. On the way home, it was 33° and raining. Now it has gotten cold enough so that it has turned to snow. When will we be done with this?! Argh!

So today I started daydreaming about something fun coming up this summer, and created my little ticker:

(Seems it only works as you refresh the page. I'll have to see if I can work on that so it actually counts down.)

Yippee! That's right, this summer we're spending a week at our timeshare in New Smyrna Beach, Florida (love it--it's Daytona Beach without the craziness), then we're spending a week on a Western Caribbean cruise. I've already started planning what to pack, etc., but then I'm a little obsessive about list-making. I bought some nice summer clothes on sale at the end of last season, so I'm ready to set sail! After today's weather, I'm even more ready.

We're taking the kids, and I know they'll enjoy it, too. We'll be stopping in Jamaica, Haiti (a private beach), Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We've booked some neat activities, like snorkeling with stingrays, but my personal favorite is taking a hike to see the Mayan ruins near Cozumel. At the moment, all I can think of is how warm it's going to be, and how good it will feel. It can't come quick enough for me, although as my Mom said the other day, it seems a shame to wish your life away, but she can hardly wait for spring to get here!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Speaking of cooking....

Tonight we're having a rare treat. We have tickets to a comedy show (Friends of the Bob & Tom Show), and that should be a lot of fun. Five or six comedians (all funny) in one show. We're looking forward to it!

But that's not our rare treat. Before the show, we're going out to eat. This probably sounds bizarre to many people. Why is that a rare treat?'s a rarity that we go out to eat, so that makes it a treat! Simple enough. I'm not sure where it happened, but somewhere along the line, I started to like to cook. Believe me, in my younger days, I didn't have much interest in it. Who wants to spend time in the kitchen? But then I started to make some things, and realized that I really enjoyed creating in the kitchen. (I think I come by it naturally--my Mom is a wonderful cook, all her sisters are great cooks, HER Mom was a great cook, and on and on. I'm certainly not on their level, but I enjoy trying.) I have to give Emeril some credit, too, because he has so much fun in the kitchen, and made me want to have fun. How much fun is it to add spices to your dish and yell, "BAM!" I still love to do that!

When Ken and I got married, we found it was much easier on our budget to eat at home. Not to mention that it allowed us to save money to take vacations and eat out in some really great food cities, like New Orleans and San Francisco. I've read somewhere that if you eat out one less time per week, you can save a few hundred a year. I'm not sure how often families are eating out, but I would guess 3 or 4 times a week. That is an almost alien concept to me, but then I grew up in a family that looked at eating out as a treat, and it's carried over to me. People wonder how we can afford to take as many vacations as we do. This is part of it.

It helps having a pantry, because you can stock up on things (on sale, of course) to use as you need them. I'm almost obsessive about it, and I think we could eat for six months off what we have in our freezer and pantry. It also helps having a garden, because I'm tellin' ya, there's nothing quite like picking stuff that you've grown (and we don't use pesticides) and using it to make dinner. But it takes a bit of a commitment, too, because you have to think ahead, have a recipe in mind and make sure you have what you need. And then you have to take the time to make it. I understand it's not for everyone, but I know I really enjoy it. In fact, on the days I don't need to make anything--like if we're having leftovers--I feel a little disappointed. I do most of the cooking, because Ken works longer hours than I do, but he usually cooks for me on the weekends I work, and he enjoys it, too. (He made a killer beef stew a few weekends ago, including making beef stock from scratch. He rocks!) When we cook together, it's fun, too.

There are so many different spices (Ken's Mom introduced me to cumin a few years ago, and I would have a hard time giving that one up!) and combinations, and so many different things to try! I love being adventurous and trying something new. Ken doesn't always love that so much--ha! But he's a good sport and willing to try things, and I know better than to load up a recipe with things like green peppers or eggplant (I love them, but he doesn't--Eggplant Parmigiana is what I make when he goes on a business trip). I wish I could encourage everyone to make the time to make things. It's surprisingly rewarding and fun, and sitting down as a family is something that we seem to have lost. I think that's a shame.

That being said, I will thoroughly enjoy my dinner out tonight. The best part? No dishes to clean!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy day!

Happy Mardi Gras, y'all! Hope everyone gets lots of beads, like this tuckered-out guy:

In honor of the day, dinner tonight will be Cajun Chicken and Shrimp, with chicken thighs, shrimp, and andouille sausage. Mmm-mmM! I might whip up some cornbread, too. Good eats!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Got it!


My new camera came Thursday evening. I was tracking its progress, and was excited to see that it had arrived in our city at 5 AM, and was "out for delivery" at 6 AM. Around 6 PM, I had given up hope that I'd get it that day, but at 6:45, there was the UPS guy! I think the snowy roads must have put them a little behind, but wow, good job, UPS! Considering that I ordered it on Monday and received it Thursday night, I must say I'm impressed.

So I've had a little time to play around with it. I still have much to learn, but one of my favorite things so far is the feature that lets you highlight one color while the rest are in black and white. I had some drooping roses and took this picture:

Kinda neat, huh? I think I'll like this camera very much.

More neat news! This weekend, I did the Great Backyard Bird Count, a nationwide thing that Cornell University does. Regular folks do a bird count, whether it's just looking out their window or taking a walk in the woods, and enter the information on the website. It's a way to track bird populations and migratory patterns. I've been doing it for a few years now, and I look forward to it every year (being the geek that I am).

I saw the usual suspects for this time of year, with a few surprises. I saw them a few days ago, so I knew they were in our area, but they're supposed to be wintering in the south. I counted 8 robins, and 2 bluebirds. Last week, I saw six bluebirds at our heated birdbath. I love seeing bluebirds here in the winter--they're so pretty!

The most exciting thing was that I saw a bird that I had not seen before. I thought I'd seen pretty much everything Nutwood had to offer, but I saw a brand new bird--at least to Nutwood!--today! How cool that I saw a new bird while doing the GBBC! It was a yellow-bellied sapsucker, and I got such a good look at him, there was no mistaking it. At first I thought it was a downy woodpecker, but then I thought, "Hey, he has a red throat. And he looks kind of yellow. Wait a minute....!" I got out my book, and sure enough, he was a yellow-bellied sapsucker. Came right up to the suet feeder, too, then spent quite a while hanging out on the walnut tree.

Ahh, it was a good day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My new toy

There it is! After much reading of reviews and features on Amazon, this is what I chose: the Canon A710, with 7.1 megapixels and a 6x zoom. I did check out quite a few others, including Kodaks and Pentaxes, but I kept coming back to Canon, where I also checked out other models like the Elphs--but I kept coming back to this particular model. It got very good customer reviews (a nice feature on Amazon), with only minor complaints such as battery life (thus, I ordered the rechargable batteries with charger). I can hardly wait to get it and start playing with it. Another nice thing on Amazon is the ability to track your of about 5:30 this morning, my camera was in Nashville. Godspeed, little friend.

Nasty weather the past couple of days--several inches of snow, but the real problem was blowing and drifting. I got stuck in our driveway, about 3 feet from getting into the garage. Ken cleared off the driveway last night, but it was all drifted over this morning, and we're rural enough that our road is not high on the priority list for plowing. It's nice and sunny out now, so the plows should have us taken care of!

By the way,

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope you and your honey are comfy and cozy, and happy as can be.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Reunited, and it feels so good

So did you see the Police on the Grammys last night? WOW! They were my favorite band back in the day, and nice to know they can still kick it. Even nicer is hearing that a reunion tour looks likely. I told Ken, "We're there." Whatever it takes, I'll be there.

Speaking of reunited, I had such a fun chat this morning with my buddy Jim! We hadn't talked for ages, but it was like we picked up right where we left off. Very cool.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A day off!

Actually, I had to work today, so my day off isn't until tomorrow. However, my day off starts when I leave work, so from 3 PM on, it was official! I'm looking forward to tomorrow, because not only am I not working, I'm going to be talking to my buddy Jim in Indy. We worked together several years ago, and although we never really lost touch, we haven't talked in a long time. We've been emailing about the Colts, and agreed it would be fun to have a phone chat! Yay!

At the moment, I'm a little obsessed with researching a new digital camera. Mine is a genuine dinosaur, one I've had for a good 7 years or so. It's a Sony Mavica, and to give you an idea, it uses floppy discs! I read an article in the paper today that PC World is actually going to stop making floppys. And when we got a new computer a few months ago, it didn't come with a floppy drive, so we had to get a stand-alone. This tells me it's time to get a new camera, although the Mavica was so convenient to use, and floppys are so cheap. (And by the way, I had a digital camera before everyone and their brother had one!) It will be nice to have one that is much smaller and easier to cart around, so I'm looking forward to a new one. Right now I'm leaning towards a Canon.

Yes, it is still cold here. I'm about sick of this, and I'm getting a touch of cabin fever. I'm actually quite content to be inside, and I always find things to do, but now I'm starting to think of how much I enjoy putting on my gardening clothes and straw cowboy hat and heading out to the garden. The warmth of the sun, the peace and quiet (just the sound of birds), planting seeds and knowing we'll get some wonderful veggies soon...sigh. Yep, I'm ready for spring.

It could be worse, though. Poor upstate New York--I can't even imagine dealing with that much snow!

Thursday, February 8, 2007


I can't believe the football season is over. What will I do Sunday afternoons?! I don't think I've ever missed it quite this much, probably because it was so much fun watching my team all season and seeing them win the whole thing. I know, I know...I need to let it go and move on with my life. I will, but I'll look forward to this fall!

I got my Super Bowl champions gear today, and managed to limit myself to three items (all on sale, too!): a T-shirt (like the one they wore in the locker room after the game), a long sleeve T-shirt, and a sweatshirt. I'll probably pick up more stuff later on, but that's good for now.

On to other things (sigh). I came across this the other day, the Silly Tasting Note Generator. For anyone who has ever gone to a winery and done a tasting, it's especially funny. Last year, we visited our friends Steve and Kim in central California. While Napa is world-renowned for its wines, and a fun place to go, the central valley is just starting to get into the wine business. We visited some nice wineries, tasted some good wine, had lunch at a neat little place, and we all got a kick out of the way different wines are described. Our favorite was the wine that was described as having a "hint of leather." Huh? Well, we found out when we tasted it. We agreed that the hint of leather must have come from nasty old sweat-stained shoes, because the wine tasted so nasty none of us finished our taste. We didn't go so far as to spit in the waste jug, but we definitely didn't finish! I think the tasting note generator is fun, and you can toggle between silly and extra-silly.

So is it spring yet? Punxsutawney Phil says we'll have an early spring this year, and I sure hope so, because I'm ready to be done with winter. The snow is very pretty in our back yard and in our woods, but Ken and I agree that we don't like it so much on the roads. Besides, I feel bad for the deer and want them to have more to eat. We had a group of 11-12 in our back yard the other night, and the pond they drink from is frozen now. I know I shouldn't feel too bad, because they all looked quite fat and sassy, but I wonder what they do when the temperatures get so cold? Do they all huddle together? It's probably not as cold out in the woods, where they're a little more sheltered from the wind. I honestly don't know what I'm worrying about, because there certainly isn't a problem with the deer population around here. Here's a picture of the deer from last winter--aren't they cute?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Now I can relax

Congratulations to Coach Dungy and the Colts, and to Peyton. Yay Colts! Also a big congrats to the Bears--it was a fun Super Bowl! What fun to finally see my team in it, and to actually WIN the thing! As you can see below, Ken and I were psyched for the game:

Ken is not happy about the outcome, but he was a great sport and said yay for Peyton. I feel kind of bad, because I feel bad for Ken, but I'm still happy my team won. I know Ken would feel the same way if things were reversed. It's hard when you each have a favorite team in the big game! But I think we handled it well and kept our cool.

Okay, so football is over for 7 months or so. ACK! Withdrawal!

The Big Day

Whew, it's finally here! Two weeks of waiting, and only five and a half hours to go. I'm trying to limit my pregame viewing--you can only watch so much, y'know?

I came across this in my file the other day, and it made me chuckle. After seeing the video of Peyton dancing the tango as a youngster (which seems to be everywhere today), it reminded me of it.

Cute, huh?

There was an article in Time the other day about how people either love or hate Manning. I couldn't understand how anyone could hate the guy, but after reading the article, I guess I understood it a little bit. He really does do a lot of commercials (which I think are funny), and I suppose an opponent might get sick of seeing his face. The author of the article ended by saying that he's cheering against Peyton, because he doesn't think it's fair for the guy to "have it all." Good looks, money, one of the best ever in the NFL (and of course, the laser rocket arm)...yeah, I guess it makes sense to NOT want the guy to succeed. On second thought, I don't understand it one little bit, and I think the author is a mean-spirited jerk. So there.

Besides, Manning is an occasional guest on The Bob and Tom Show, and he's quite funny and personable; Bob and Tom say he's one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet. So I make no apologies for my love of Peyton. I think he's one of the best, and I truly hope he and the team get their rings today.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Double Brrrrr!

Wow, it is unbelievably cold here. It hasn't been this cold for a good 3-4 years. Right now, our weather clock (with the outside sensor) is saying 8°, and the wind is blowing with gusts of 30 or so mph. As my Dad said earlier tonight, "It's just MEAN out there!"

We went up to Michigan this morning to pick up a quarter of beef (mmm...beef), and ran into a whiteout situation for about a mile. It really is a good weekend to stay indoors (and probably a dangerous one to be outdoors for any length of time). We've already played a game of Scrabble, and Yahtzee is up next. I have a meatloaf in the oven, and we're doing our best to stay warm and cozy. Hope everyone is staying toasty!

Less than 24 hours to the big game. Yahooooo!

Friday, February 2, 2007


Wow, we've got a nasty ol' cold front coming through this weekend, with lows below zero and windchills 30 to 40 below. Yuck! However, this means it will be an excellent weekend to stay inside and watch....

OUR BRAND NEW TV! Bill, show them what they've won!

I must say, it really is awesome. It actually takes some getting used to, because it's so much bigger than the old one. And the ambilight thing is really cool. Love it!

All the better to watch the game, my dear. That's right, only about 48 hours away from kickoff. I'm not sure how this is playing around the rest of the country (although the Super Bowl is always huge), but around here it's absolutely NUTS. Lots of Bears fans in the area, but lots of Colts fans, too, and as you get a little further south, it's mostly Colts fans. It's all very exciting, and I know it will be a fun game to watch. I got an email from my pal Jim in Indy, and he had this to say:

"yes we were at the game and it was awesome!!! the noise was really up there and the excitement was in the air. i saw grown men crying after they won. makes you wonder what would've happened if they had lost. i guess we would've needed prozac or something to help us survive."

Ha! How cool, though, that he and his wife got to go to the AFC championship game. I thought it was funny about seeing "grown men cry." Well, let me tell ya, it's been a long time coming for the Colts, so I'm ready to see what they can do now that they've made it to the Big One. I'm pullin' for 'em all the way!

Go Colts!