Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Wintery Mix

First off, there is no way that I agree with the judges that Rami should go to Fashion Week. The blue coat was a effing nightmare that would have got anyone eliminated any other week. And that weird patterned dress that "any woman would love to have" was butt ugly. All they could say about him was "Good job for following directions and not coming out with another Grecian draped frock." I BET you that those three little numbers were the only ones that weren't draped. Prepared yourself for nine outfits that he didn't take any suggestions on! Chris was robbed! I loved his pieces. Loved them and what's more, for most of the show I was never a fan of his work. Human hair on clothes is a bit creepy, I'll admit that, but it was beautiful. If he had used goat, like Heidi guessed, would he be going to Fashion Week? Was it the hair that put them off?

If you need to talk to me from this moment until next Wednesday, you are going to have to email or leave a message because I am just not going to be picking up the phone anymore. Sorry. Our phone has been ringing off the damn hook for a week now and it's all just automated messages-- Hilary has called three times! Even worse are the live calls, talking a mile a minute. A very funny gentleman called yesterday and ask for $200 for the Democratic party. Yeah. Well. As much as I would like to see Democrats in the seats, I'm not willing to go that far just yet.

Blanca is on the Sunshine Diet. That's where you sit in the sun and the pounds just melt away. Unfortunately it only work for snowman and snowladies! I gave her a box of Girl Scout cookies, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, the most fattening cookie there is, but it didn't seem to help much. I think that perhaps tomorrow will be a better day for her. They are calling for more snow. Just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Chilly Welcome

Yesterday was a snow day for all the little zombies and their keepers. Snow day! Two small words are mean so much! We found out that it was a snow day through the fancy pants new automated telephone system the school system bought. Trouble was that the voice on the announcement was Val, the same woman who calls me every morning to give me a job. So even though it was good news, being that it was her really put me off!

To celebrate an unexpected day off, I decided to do something really fun: The taxes. The kids ran around in the snow, the man shoveled and I sat right here with TurboTax putting together the return. But it was a job that needed done and I was given a day from Mother Nature to do it.

Around three o'clock I went downstairs for a cup of tea when the front doorbell rang (I should say clicked, not rang. The previous owners of our house disabled our doorbell in some weird way and we've never been inclined to fix it.) When I went to the door, this is who I found.

I've named her Blanca. Christmas of 2006 I put together snowman kits as gifts. And of course kept one set for ourselves. I can report that this is the first time we've have enough "good" snow to make a decent snowman and use the kit, a year and two months later! Blanca is sporting all the pieces of it, except in slightly the wrong order. The buttons were for the front, the coal is for the eyes. I never came up with something for the mouth for the kit. That carrot nose is made of wood. There are golf tees superglued to the coal and buttons so they stick in the snow securely. Isn't she lovely!

I think she's asking me if I want to buy some Girl Scout cookies.

After the kids rearranged her parts, I asked them to turn her around and face the street.

It's been snowing steady all day. I just checked on Blanca and she is completely covered in snow. I'll go out in a bit and shake her off. She should be looking her best when the mailman comes. I guess I should clean the steps off again as well!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wi-Fi Baby!

I may be too entirely excited about this but I am writing this from up in my bedroom! The WiFi is finally here. No more waiting for the Man to clear out so I can check an email or find the Pythagorean formula for math homework. No more dodging in to check the bills or my EBay while the Man is thrashing away at Guitar Hero. I've got my own space now!

This past Saturday was World Friendship Day for Girl Scouts. Our troop did Ireland and by the time we were done planning, it was out of control. We had our display, Shrinky-Dink pins, tattoos, a coin toss game, mashed potatoes and music. We needed three tables. Everyone else only needed one. And it was all on minimal effort, really. We barely put any thought into the thing at all.

After the festival, my trusted co-leader and I along with four of our girls hefted cookies door-to-door. (In truth, they hefted, we adults stayed in the warm van and talked to them with walkie-talkies!) In a combination of poor planning with a dash of sabotage, we have been burdened with about 30 cases more than we need. It's a problem. We ordered enough to cover all our cookie booths ahead of time based on last years numbers. But some of the cookie booths fell through and the ones that we ended up with are stinko. So now we are out pounding the streets trying to sell, sell, sell. It also doesn't help that my girls just up and decided not to sell cookies on their own this year. Girls who in years past have sold close to 200 boxes, this year sold less than 20. It was a troop wide epidemic. I know it's their age, but I didn't think it would be this bad! Ah well. We'll be having cookies as the troop snack for the next year!

Yesterday on the radio I heard that They Might Be Giants would be coming in concert this Wednesday. We love TMBG so much, even the kids. A quick discussion between us parents and we decided that we would take the kids to the show and let them skip school on Thursday. What rebels, eh? Come to find out that this "All Ages Show", is actually "14+, No Exceptions". I am so bummed out. I would like to know if it was TMBG who has slapped on the age restriction or the Beachland Ballroom, that gem of an establishment. I hear you, "Just take them anyway. No one's going to ask you for their birth certificates at the door!" And I would, if they could actually pass for being 14, but they just don't have that look yet. It would end up being a giant ass hassle, I just know it; The Man will end up in little snarking match with some pompous club owner and in the end we would all end up escorted away by security. I asked the Magic 8 Ball what we should do and it said "Ask again later". Sounds like good advice.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Cookies Are Here!

What else is there to say? This morning my trusted co-leader and I went and picked up 85 cases of cookies from a giant warehouse where big burly guys loaded them directly into the vans. That was so much nicer than how we had to do it in past years. Back in the day (last year) we had to drive to a dark church gym, find our cookies and then load them box by box ourselves, slogging through the mud. No fun at all.
85 cases is 1,020 boxes of cookies, in case you were wondering. That's not how many are in this picture; my co-leader has the other half. If you need cookies, for certain, I'm the chick to talk to!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bye Bye Tree!

Remember my tree? Yesterday, the city gave us an early Valentine surprise. They finally took it down! Just in time I think too. Big sheaves of bark were just barely clinging to the limbs. Every gust of wind brought down a sizeable pile of branches, some of them pretty damn big.

It was quite a production from the looks of it. Three trucks and a crane. I was at work, but the man got these shots.

Now all we have left is this, which is pretty sad looking. The neighbors all say that the stump-grinding-out machine comes a few days after the tree guys. I hope so.

As happy as I am that the tree is gone, it still is strange and sad to have that big open space in front of the house. It's going to take some time to get used to the sight.

Waiting in the wings, literally, is the replacement tree. This two year old baby oak has been spared my clippers for just this situation. I told myself, if the city actually ever shows up and takes away the dead tree, I'm putting this guy out there to replace it. This little sapling's "Mommy" is my biggest and baddest tree out back. With that kind of lineage, this little one has got a pretty good shot out there. That is, if it survives the move. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jack Says Good Morning!

Here's my Valentine and what a cutie he is! It's hard to get anything done with a face like this following me around all the time. He also got this HUGE belly which is perfect for rubbing! It's too much!

Running Free and Clear

To head off anymore water problems in our basement, we were visited by a very friendly sewer cleaning man today. He whistled at the water marks on the walls. He puzzled over the sight of our big drain. He ran loud machines and lots of water. When it all said and done the report was this:

Sewer Guy: You had roots. Big roots. A lot of roots.

Me: Oh yeah?

Sewer Guy: Yeah. When was the last time you had this done?

The answer to this is about six years ago when our neighbors had a new line put in their yard. Their charming contractor, who had spent the majority of the summer using four letter words to critique his crew, had decided that it would be okay to disconnect our line when replacing our neighbors. It was a very bad scene. To make things worse, when we called him about it, he just about accused us of disconnecting it ourselves just so we could blame him. That's so like me though, isn't it? Digging up my neighbor's yard in order to fill my own basement with sewage. That guy saw right through me! But, back to today...

Me: Ummm. It's been awhile.

Sewer Guy: A LONG while! You've got to do this every year, you know!

Me: Yeah. Well, we will. From now on. Promise.

Sewer Guy: 'Cause you had bad roots. They'll be back!

Now isn't that a threat and a half! They'll be back! But for now the line is "running free and clear" in the words of the sewer man. And now the next time it rains, I'll be able to enjoy the sound on the roof instead of worrying myself into a tizzy about the basement. The joys of home owning never cease!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Survived on...Slop

I am not complaining in the least about the total lack of snow to "survive" on yesterday. It was a little cold, a little windy, it rained lightly for about 10 minutes and it stayed right around 40 degrees. It was lovely! But it was also muddy, deep and thick. It was that kind of mud that sucks at your shoes and threatens to keep them. If you weren't in mud, you were in completely saturated grass in which you sank, just slightly, with every step. But even that wasn't so bad, because it could have been so much worse. Everyone knew we had completely lucked out with the weather yesterday.

I took six girls along all in their screaming orange hats. I could spot them across Green Meadows and through trees. Other adults would point them out to me-- "There goes your girls!" Indeed, they made quite an impression. I'll have pictures of them soon.

There were nine stations that you had to travel to throughout the day: Lashing, knots, compass, land skies, fire building, flag ceremony, trivia, sawing and first aid. Awards were given out at the end of the day for patrols that performed well or did something that got the judges attention. When my girls got First Place for lashing, I couldn't believe it. I actually yelled "No Way!" right after they announced it in that big echo-y room and everyone turned to stare at me. My girls were not impressed with me but very much with themselves for this. They also got a "Cool Award" at the Flag Ceremony, the trivia game and the land skies. For being their first time ever trying something like this, they did incredible. They stayed in a good mood and had fun, which was pretty much all I was hoping for.

And what did I do all day? There were enough leaders there to make two adult patrols to do the stations. My patrol consisted of myself and four leaders from New London who all knew each other, but we hit it off right away. And we totally kicked total ass all day! We built our fire, cooked and ate our pancake in nine minutes. (A patrol of Senior Scouts beat us by doing it in seven!) We did the first aid challenge and my teammates carried me in blanket a fairly long distance and never dropped me. I'm very thankful for that! We got First Place at almost every station, completely stomping the other patrol of adults. (We found out around dinner that the other patrol of adults didn't even go to half of the stations and at the ones they did go to, mostly they sat around the fire, chatted it up with the judges and drank cocoa. So we got "First Place", but we were competing against nobody.) I'm very happy that I ended up with the leaders who felt like actually trying because I would have been miserable in that other patrol. By the fifth or sixth time that I had to go up at the awards ceremony to get my medallion, my girls said that weren't going to clap for me anymore because it was too boring.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Preparing for Survival on Snow

This little penguin is about to do a dumb thing in cold weather. Tomorrow, myself and six of my Scouts are also going to do something not-so-bright, (but probably not lethal) in equally cold weather. Tomorrow is Survival on Snow, the Girl Scout version of Klondike in Boy Scouts. It's an all day event where the girls travel from station to station and show off their skills. There will be knot tying, lashing, fire building, compass skills, first aid, flag ceremonies and who knows what else.

Are we ready? I hope so. I know I'm going to be dressed warm enough, that's for damn sure. I've tried to talk to the girls about what to wear and what gear to bring, but in the end it's up to them to dress and pack well. As for the skills, I'm not sure about that part. Luckily, they'll be judged mostly on their willingness to try, stay positive and work as a team. If they can't pull a skill off (that would be the fire building) or have no idea at all how to perform it (that would anything with a compass), then they'll still get credit for trying. They also have to show team spirit. For that they are all wearing these blindingly bright orange hats. If anything, they'll be memorable as that "Patrol of Girls in Orange Hats Who Giggle Too Much".

The scariest part of the day for me is that I'm not allowed to be with my girls. I can't go with them. I can't follow from a distance. I can't even be in the same part of the camp where they will be. I won't even see them until dinner, seven hours into the day. But I foresee lots of phone calls and texting during the day between us. I will be spending the day on my own team, a team of just leaders. My team will be out there kicking ass and taking names all day!. It should be a hoot! A cold hoot, but still. Send us warm thoughts!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Lessons from a Zombie Teacher

Here's a little piece of trivia that will surprise no one: Elementary school teachers have fairly poor skills in dealing with adults when they are in the thick of a zombie day. In the years that I have subjected myself to this line of work, I've been talked down to by countless of perfectly lovely teachers who have no idea that I'm a fully functioning adult with a completely developed brain. I don't take it personally when they explain to me what how to read a book to a group of kids or give a spelling test. These people spend all day repeating themselves to little zombies who drool and scream; the teachers can't help but talk in mono-syllabic sentences, use a visual aid and then repeat themselves. Like I said, I don't get insulted, I understand, but today really took the cake.

I was at a certain school here in town where the teachers are granted a half day planning period once a grading period in which they are supposed to analyze data in hopes to keep the wolves from their doors. Here's how it went down with the teacher I met with in the morning:

Overworked Zombie Teacher: So first make them do their "question of the day" in their folders.

Me: Okay.

OZT: The folders are over here. No, I'll move them right here so you can find them. But the kids know where they are. The kids will hand them out.

Me: Okay.

OZT: After that, they get their timed multiplication test. They get two minutes to study and then the test is for one minute.

Me: Okay.

OZT: The practice books are over there. Do you see them? In that box that says "Practice Books"?

Me: Yep.

OZT: You know what, I'm going to move that box to over here in the front.

Me: Okay.

OZT: So, it's two minutes of practice, then the test for one minute. Here's my timer. Do you know how to use one of these?

Me: Yep.

OZT: You know what? I'm just going to set this for two minutes now and all you'll have to do is push start. Do you see where it says start?

Me: Yep.

OZT: Okay, then that should be it. You have any questions?

Me: Nope.

OZT: Well, if anything comes up I'm just going to be in the room across the hall. Just shout if you need anything. Oh! Do you know how to use the SmartBoard?

Me: Yep.

OZT: Good. Okay, I've got to go.

I wish I was making all this up to be funny. I've subbed for this particular teacher many, many times in the past and she's always this way. When she writes out her plans, she sometimes gives me lines to say "because the kids are used to me saying it that way". No kidding. I love that she had to set the timer for me, but takes my word that I can handle the SmartBoard!

In the afternoon, I had to go a different room full of younger zombies. I'm not as familiar with this teacher, but this conversation was one for the books!

Little Zombie Teacher: Tomorrow the kids are starting state reports. I need you to make their research folders. You take these envelopes and cut them in half and then glue them in the folder.

Me: No problem. I've seen this before.

LZT: In here last year?

Me: No, in other schools?

LZT: Really?

Me: Yeah, lots of other schools.

LZT: Oh! So you know what I'm talking about?

Me: Yeah.

LZT: Okay, so you take an envelope and you seal it. Then cut it in half and glue it in the folder.

Me: Okay.

LZT: You've got to seal the envelope first. Like this. (She proceeds to show me how to lick an envelope and then close it.) Got it?

Me: Yep, I got it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Blogger Issues

The other day I wrote a nice long post about how the man has been hogging the computer and how the basement looks and how we are looking into getting WiFi. But Blogger seemed to seize up on me and wouldn't do a damn thing. That post is still sitting, waiting for to put out, but the spell check won't work on it or any of the functions to add pictures or links.

Okay, it's not working with this post either, after I just made a quick check. Blogger is really on my list right now! I'm not down with having a blogging host only half working, I'll tell you that right now. If things don't improve pdq then I might have to jump ship here!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Still Alive

Ack! I'll post it anyway. If there is anything spelled wrong you can just deal with it! I checked the "Blogger Issues" board and everyone is hopping mad, but there are promises that it will be fixed soon. Whatever.

Hello to my three loyal readers! Rest assured I did not perish from my illness. My blogging lapse has simply been an inability to get near the computer for any extended period of time. The Man has been busy, busy, busy writing emails and resumes and just kicking ass. We are still only online with this one computer, so the best I've been able to do is check emails, fire off a few responses and get shooed out again. But this isn't a complaint mind you; I'm proud of the Man. Graduating and not having homework assignments has not slowed him down. He writes as much as he did before, plus doing all this hussle.

But he's out tonight, so I have some time to sneak this in. We've almost fully recovered from our basement catastrophe. That's what the insurance company called it, a catastrophe. It's completely too strong a word for what happened in our opinion. We are actually better off for the following reasons:

We lost the washer and dryer which were both 14 years old. They were living on borrowed time.

We lost a dehumidifier which was not a big deal. A quick trip to Home Depot and the cats now have a new big box to play in.

We got rid of 14 years of crap that should never have been put in the basement to begin with, all in one fell swoop. Our basement has not looked this good since we bought the place. It is empty! We have one small mountain that is waiting for Hazardous Waste Day (It's just paint and stuff like that! Don't freak out!), but other than that, the joint looks great!

We got compensated for all these junky shelves that the previous owners built all over the place down there. That's the part that killed me. These shelves and cupboards were the worst homemade pieces of crap you ever saw, but every one of them was listed on claim, by the insurance man not us. I would have never even of thought of putting them down! Those shelves were a loss the day they were built! Tearing them out is what has really improved the situation down there. It's so open now. And if you don't have shelves, you can't pile stuff on them. Two problems solved! Anyway the insurance man thought they were worth something and that leads us to the last bit of good news.

After we pay for the washer, dryer, dehumidifier, a couple of Nerf guns and my new electronic scale (*GASP* You can imagine how upset I was when I saw that floating!), there's still a little green left over. So we've decided to get WiFi for the house! It's something that we've been wanting, but didn't have the pocket change to hand over for it. Once we get all Wifi-ed, no more excuses about posting blogs or keeping up with reading other peoples blogs, it will be a new day around here! Okay, that might be taking it a bit far, but it will be cool. How's that for taking lemons and making lemonade!