Thursday, May 31, 2007

Money Money Money

Yippeee! I've mentioned our upcoming cruise (30 days to go!), and in preparation, I've been checking a message board for our specific trip. One lady on there has been on many cruises, and she mentioned that we should check the Royal Caribbean site to see if the prices have dropped. Her and her husband got over $600 in a refund. So I checked the site yesterday, and it looked promising, so I talked to Patrick, our fabulous American Express travel agent, and HE checked into it, and there is nothing but good news: we're saving $260 per person, a total of $1,040!!! I could not believe it, and I'm even more excited, because that means more casino money. Ha! Nah, we've got everything budgeted, we'll just put that money back into our vacation fund...perhaps for a short trip to Vegas late in the year. [Disclaimer: We do not gamble on every trip we take. Only the funnest ones.]

The kids are getting excited, too. We took them clothes-shopping last weekend, to get a few dressier things for the cruise. Who doesn't love getting some new clothes and look forward to wearing them, especially on a fun thing like a cruise? I started shopping last year (gotta get the sale stuff, y'know), and most of the things I haven't worn yet. I just set it aside to take on the cruise. I've got some cute new wedge sandals, some cute capris, some cute halter tops, some cute's all cute! Oh, and some cute skirts, some cute dressy stuff!

To me, a cruise is one of those vacations where you can get away from your normal life and behavior. Be whoever you want to be. I don't mean LIE and set up this entire alternate persona, I just mean do things a little out of the ordinary for you. If I want to sit by the pool and drink something with rum in it all day (and I do), I can do that. If I want to hike through the jungle to see Mayan ruins (I do), I can do that, too. It's all good! It's also a chance to get a little duded up and pretend we're sophisticated. Ha! Actually, we clean up pretty good, as my Mom would say, but most of the time, we're very casual.

<sigh> A month to wait. I think it will go fast, though.


Monday, May 28, 2007

A little biology humor

Thank you, Gary Larson, for giving us biology geeks a laugh. Not quite the "Bacteria Bunch," but still a good one:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Garage sale blues

Aww, not really blues--it ended up being okay, but it just isn't fun sitting in the garage waiting for people to come and buy things. I got caught up on all my magazines, and we got rid of a lot of large items, and then we took the rest to Goodwill. I'm so glad it's all gone!

The worst thing during the weekend was a lady pulling into our yard and backing into one of our little walnut trees. We yelled at her to stop, and I guess we scared her, because she took off, dragging the wire that was around the tree behind her car.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Holiday Weekend!

And many thoughts of those who have left us. You're still loved and missed.

Urgh, the past couple of days at work really dragged. After two wonderful days off, I just did NOT want to be there. I did manage to get lots done on my days off, though, and the garage sale is ready to go. I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I'll be happy to get rid of a lot of this stuff. That reminds me of when my Mom would have a garage sale when Shane and I were in school. We'd ride home on the school bus, and we'd feel that extra-special embarrassment that only high school kids can feel. All the kids on the bus would be looking at the house and all the cars, and the stuff in the garage...oh, it was terrible! Shane and I still laugh about it. I look back at it now and wonder what the big deal was, but I guess pretty much everything was embarrassing back in high school. I think I managed to channel that a little bit tonight when I drove around the block and put up the signs for the sale. I felt oddly weird and shy about putting them up, although I even asked the guy at the gas station on the corner if it was okay. Oh God, I need therapy! I have garagesaleophobia! Ha!

No Sopranos this week. We get a week off for the holiday. I think I'll survive.

It's kind of fun to enter the rerun season, because we get a chance to watch movies and DVD's we haven't watched while regular shows are on. In the past week, we've watched the first disc of the first season of our "Star Trek" DVD set. Did I mention that I'm a geek--er, I mean, that I love "Star Trek"? Especially the original series. It's such a hoot to watch it now. We have as much fun with the cheesy effects as anything, but I tell you what--they're still some great stories, and I still totally love watching it. How many times have I seen all these episodes? Hard telling, but I'm often able to quote lines from them. And yes, I've seen the movie "Trekkies," which I thought was great, and no, I'm not quite that obsessive. I honestly just love the show, even though my closet is lacking a Starfleet uniform. We do own a tribble, though, which we got at The Star Trek Experience at the Hilton in Vegas. Which was totally awesome, I must say. The kids had never seen the tribble episode, so we watched it last time they were here. I brought out the tribble for the occasion! I had to draw the line at tossing the tribble, though.

One more thing. I've been reading about the whole confrontation between Rosie O'Donnell and Elizabeth Hasselbeck on "The View." God knows why, because I have never watched that show, and unless I'm captured and tortured, I don't believe I ever will. Apparently Rosie made the comment that people don't like her because she's "a fat lesbian." No, that has nothing to do with it. For me, it's because she's incredibly irritating, she's spews her opinions like they're sent to her from On High, and she is just so damn argumentative. She asked Elizabeth why she (E.) didn't defend her (R.) after some of her (R.'s) comments, and called her (E.) a coward. Are you following this? Hey, defend your own comments. Since when is it okay to say whatever you want and then expect someone else to defend you? Take responsibility for your comments, and know that there may be people who call you to task on them. Are you going to sit there and ask all your friends why they aren't defending you, or are you going to be able to back up your comments and defend what you have said? If not, then think before you speak, and consider keeping your mouth SHUT. Wow, what a concept. Oh, and apparently after the on-air fight, Rosie's assistant was drawing mustaches on all of Elizabeth's pictures in the building. Classy.

Remember when Rosie was funny in "A League of their Own"? What happened? Looks like someone got clobbered with the Bitter Stick.

I think I'm just a little fed up with celebrities thinking that they're so much smarter and more in tune with the world than the rest of us riff-raff. They have been fortunate and blessed enough to have a public forum, and perhaps that gift would be better used if the shrillness were to go away. I'm thinking about people who are taking the time and making the effort to have a genuine discussion about problems, and doing research, and then doing something about it: Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Bono, Don Cheadle, for a few examples. They aren't just funneling money into what often ends up being black holes of charity; they're funding research and raising awareness on issues that will make a true difference in the lives of millions. To me, that speaks much more to a lasting contribution to society and the world than merely having an argument with someone.

<climbing down off my soapbox>

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New addition to the Nutwood family

Ken saw him on Saturday, and I got to see him on Sunday. Say hi to Spot:

Is he adorable or what?! We've had fawns before, including twins, but this is the youngest we've ever seen. We saw Pregnant Deer about a week ago, so Spot can't be much more than a week old. He's still all gangly and barely walking, and just the cutest little thing. Be safe, little Spot, and welcome to our home!

On to a darker subject. The Sopranos, of course! Wow, only two left, and something bad is brewing. I don't know what's going to happen between Phil and Tony, but I think it's going to be nasty. A few of my favorite things from this episode were...

Tony picking a tooth out of his pants cuff while at the psychologist with A.J. after beating the crap out of Coco for trying to mess with Meadow. As Tony put it while pistol-whipping Coco, "My f***ing daughter, huh?!" Yeah, you just don't mess with a guy's little girl. Coco got what he deserved.

A.J. trying to off himself in the pool. It started out kind of funny, but ended up sad...but I don't think I've ever seen such an annoying kid as A.J. Soprano. I do feel bad for him that he's suffering from depression, but he's always been a whiny little jerk. I liked how he was telling the psychologist that it's all his parents' fault, like the time Carmella made him wear that raincoat in the second grade. Jeez, let it go, ya whinin' little puke.

And my personal favorite was Tony going into the BadaBing, and seeing Silvio sitting there reading a book. The name of the book? How to Clean Practically Anything. I don't know why that struck me so funny, but I'm still laughing about it. I've always liked Silvio. He's always seemed like kind of a nice guy, stays cool and calm, a guy you think, "Gee, I could probably be friends with him." But then you remember that he's the guy who picked up Adriana and said he'd take her to Christopher, and she trustedSilvio. Then he drove her into the woods and shot her in the head. This is the appeal of the show to me. In so many ways, this family (real and Mob) seems like normal, decent folks, with normal problems and faults, but they aren't normal at all. They're crooks and they kill people. Yet you still like them. How do they do that?

Enough for now. Bear in mind that I will be stuck in Sopranoland for the next few weeks, then I'll calm down.

A lovely day here at Nutwood, hot and humid and sunny. Too hot for a lot of people, but I like it like this. I love being able to open all the windows and get a nice breeze going through the house. I'll keep busy today and tomorrow, because we're getting ready for a garage sale this weekend, and I need to get all the items tagged. Seeing all the stuff we've accumulated makes me realize that I need to get very choosy about what I buy. Do I really need it? Do I have to have it? Probably not. What good is a bargain if you're not going to use it? Right? Right.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


The next presidential election is shaping up to be an exciting one, with much interest from a nation ready for a change. We're already seeing the debates and minor scandals, and with many months to go, we'll see much more.

After quite a bit of reading and research, as well as a fair amount of soul-searching, I believe I have found my candidate. I believe my candidate has wide appeal, and will be embraced by a populace hungry for someone who doesn't just talk the game, but actually knows how to satisfy. See who gets my vote here. And may God bless America.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Nutwood City Limits

My buddy Greg at work read my post about the orioles, grosbeaks, and Piney Squirrel. He said he liked it that we gave Piney Squirrel a name. What I haven't mentioned is that we give most of our critters names. I'll list them all, and I think you'll see how creative and innovative we are when it comes to naming our varmints.

The bat family: Boris, Natasha, and their child, Batty

The groundhog: Groundy

The groundhog's children: Moe, Larry, and Curly

The hummingbirds: Hummy and Mrs. Hummy

The raccoon: Rocky

The oriole: Oreo

The hairy woodpecker: Harry

The downy woodpecker: Downy

The red squirrel: Big Fat Squirrel

The piney squirrel: Piney Squirrel

The cardinal: Richelieu (If that seems a little off our formula, that's because it was suggested by our friend Steve. I thought it was brilliant. I was thinking of "Red.")

About the only things we haven't named are the deer and the turkeys, because there are really too many to keep 'em all straight. Although for the moment, we do have Pregnant Deer. Maybe she'll have twins! I haven't come up with a name for the Rosebreasted Grosbeaks, either. I need to, because they're really hanging around a lot.

So kind of a bummer last night that Melinda didn't make it through to the finals on "American Idol." We were really pulling for her, because she has a MASSIVE voice. She'll do just fine, though, even though she won't win. We're going with Blake now, because while we like Jordin, too (another great voice), Blake is fun and different.

Oh, speaking of music, another buddy at work, Aubrey (hi Aubrey!), brought in a CD for me today: Anastacia! (Maybe it's spelled Anastasia, I don't know.) You know, the chick who butchered "You Shook Me All Night Long" with Celine Dion. At least her voice is a little more suited to a rockin' song,but that whole mess still sucked. The CD Aubrey brought in...not awful, but nothing I would buy. I could take it in small doses, but by the end of the CD, I was ready for it to be done.

With the warmer weather (not today, though...we might get a frost tonight), it puts me in the mood for dance music. I love dance music from the nineties, and it's perfect summer car music. It always makes me think of Will Farrell and Chris Kattan on "Saturday Night Live" as the guys in the dance club. Sometimes I do that head bob when I'm driving along. It makes me laugh!


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Meet the new blog, same as the old blog

It's not really new, it just has a new name. I believe I've mentioned that we call our place Nutwood Junction, because back in the late 1800's and early 1900's, there was a little unincorporated town here called Nutwood, and the abandoned railroad bed is part of our property--the railroad depot was across the street. And that's how our place got its name. Nutwood doesn't really appear on maps, unless it's an old railroad map from around 1896 (found it at The Library of Congress website), so I had quite a surprise last night when watching the severe weather alerts (more on that in a moment). The meteorologist was clicking on the various storm systems, and he clicked on one and the towns in its path showed up. He said, "This storm is expected to hit Nutwood at 5:12." I felt a little bit of glee. Hey, that's our place on TV! Then I remembered why Nutwood was on TV--that pesky tornado warning--and grabbed the cat and headed for the basement. Since our little Nutwood is a media darling now, I thought it was time for a name change. Here's the map from Library of Congress. See Nutwood towards the bottom?

As for the weather lately--yikes! Some of it has been good. We got some nice warm days, and that's why it's been over a week since I've updated this--when the weather first gets nice, all I want to do is sit on the deck, read, watch the birds, and soak up the warmth. I feel like I've gotten very little done, but I should settle down soon and get back into my usual mode. With the heat and humidity come summer storms, and in northern Indiana, that can mean tornadoes. Last evening popped some big storms, and while no tornadoes have been confirmed, even just the straight-line winds were over 60 mph in some areas. We didn't get it too bad here, but we were under a tornado warning and the sirens went off, and when they said it would hit Nutwood at 5:12, that's when I decided the basement was the place to be. (Besides, it screwed up the satellite, so we lost the TV picture right then. I turned on the TV in the basement.) Thank God for basements! Things have settled down today, but the storms blew in a cold front, so I might actually get some things done today! No sitting on the deck for me today.

So did you catch The Sopranos this week? Holy moley. I was pretty sure Christopher was going to get killed off, but I had no idea it would happen the way it did. I think anyone who watches it will have watched it by now, so I'll go ahead and say that Tony killed him. A car accident was Tony's chance to suffocate Christopher. It was horrible. Christopher looking up at Tony, and the flat look in Tony's eyes...that was the look of a sociopath. <shudder> But what's so great about this show is that you still like Tony. How can that be? He's a pig, he's a philanderer, he's a killer...but you somehow still like the guy. James Gandolfini, man...give the guy his Emmy now! Only three episodes left...arggh! We've got all the seasons on DVD now, though, so I'm excited to watch it from the beginning.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Equal time

THIS is how it's done.

Don't mess with the best.

Summer birds make me feel fine

Yahoo! Not only are our hummingbirds back, I'm also seeing a ton of orioles and rosebreasted grosbeaks. Here's one of our orioles:

Isn't he pretty? It cracks me up how they steady the orange with one foot. I've seen 2 males and two females. I've seen them in previous years, but only one couple. Nice to see our population growing, because I really do like these guys, and they have a very pretty song. How is it that they love oranges and they're the exact color of an orange? That's always puzzled me.

Here's a rosebreasted grosbeak:

As Ken said, "Man, that's a gross beak!" Hardy har. Actually, it comes from the German "gross," which means big, because they really do have quite a large beak. I think they're very striking, with the black back and white belly, and what looks like a red bib. Or it looks like they just tore the throat out of something...but no, grosbeaks are pleasant little birds, and they are not raptors. Like the orioles, in the past I've only seen one female and one male grosbeak here. This year I've seen at least 4 males and 2 females, so their population is up, too, at least here at Nutwood.

They're all hungry, too. They must be getting ready to nest, or else they're just hungry after their migration. They're on the feeder constantly, and the orioles have gone through 2 oranges in about 4 days. Little sections of orange are flying everywhere!

I love this time of year!

Later that day...

Apparently the orioles aren't as voracious as I thought.

So that's what goes on around here when we're at work! I do and do and do for you critters and this is the thanks I get. <sigh> I looked out the window, and Piney Squirrel had the orange half in his mouth, dragging it along the deck. He's awfully cute, though, isn't he?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

I'm still stunned

My friend Greg at work told me about this. After his description, I had to see it for myself, and it's every bit as mind-boggling as he said. You can see it here. [Warning: This is not for the squeamish.]

For those of you that chose not to watch, it is some kind of "Divas In Vegas" show, specifically a clip of Celine Dion and some chick named Anastacia (??) doing their version of "You Shook Me All Night Long." That's right, the classic AC/DC song, and it IS a true rock and roll classic. For some inexplicable reason, these broads felt the need to sing it. It is astounding in its badness, from Celine playing air guitar and doing the Chuck Berry/Angus Young duckwalk in stilettoes to both of them high-fiving each other and screaming, "C'mon, girlfriend!" My oh my. It is honestly one of the most awful things I've ever seen.

Because it was so awful, and because Cousin Shane is my partner in crime when it comes to music, I had to share it with him. I think what he wrote back sums it up very well:

well, i don't know what to say about that.  i was chuckling to myself as i saw her playing air guitar.  i have to admit that she did that song a lot better than i ever thought she would (not that i ever imagined her singing it), but that doesn't mean it's a good version.  her voice is totally not suited for a balls-to-the-wall rocker like that.  i'm sitting here in the "afterglow" of watching it, not sure whether to laugh, cry, or be pissed off.  truly one of the most bizarre artist/song matchups i've EVER seen.
Well said, my friend, well said.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My favorite sculptor

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find a story on AOL about Dan Edwards. He's usually referred to as "the controversial sculptor Daniel Edwards." Seems he has a new item on exhibit in NYC called "Paris Hilton Autopsy." Check it out:

That's only a partial view--the rest of it is a tad graphic. I find it quite amusing. Not only is Tinkerbell included, they are both wearing tiaras! Apparently Dan even sculpted her organs, and patrons are encouraged to wear gloves and participate in the "autopsy."

Why do I love this guy? I worked with his wife when I lived in Indianapolis, and they are just the nicest couple. Dan may be a little out there with his ideas, but I think he's amazing. A while back, I saw a story about the "controversial sculptor Daniel Edwards" and his rendition of Britney Spears giving birth. He's also responsible for Suri Cruise's bronzed baby poop, the head of Ted Williams, and a bust of Hillary Clinton. I got back in touch with his wife and we exchanged nice letters, and they're quite happy with where life has taken them. She said Dan has really struck a chord with these sculptures, because to a celebrity, there's really no such thing as bad publicity. (She also told me to watch for something about Fidel Castro. I can hardly wait!) When I saw Dan's latest, I had this mental image of Paris Hilton seeing it and going, "Wow, I look hot." Ha! I wouldn't be one bit surprised. I read some criticism about how his work is exploiting celebrities. To that I say, "Pshaw." Celebrities exploit themselves. Dan is just taking it to the next logical step, and I think it's quite clever of him. He's very talented. I should've asked his wife how it feels to be married to the "controversial sculptor Daniel Edwards." I'm sure she would have found that amusing.

One evening when his wife and I were working together, he followed me around and did a little wax head of me. He thought I had unique and interesting bone structure. Cool!