Saturday, March 29, 2008

My van is back...almost

My van is home, physically out there in the driveway looking just wonderful. It ended up getting a new bumper and grill, of course. It also ended up getting a new hood and one of the headlights had to be replaced. They said "Wednesday or Thursday" and I ended up picking it up Friday. That okay.

What's not okay is how it is handling. On the way home the steering felt tight and a little jerky, but not terrible. Later on we all ended up going to the movies and the Man drove it. When we first headed out it was "Yeah, it does feel weird". By the time we got home it was, "No one is driving this again until it is headed back to the shop".

There was nothing wrong with the performance of my car after the accident. It only looked ugly, but it ran perfectly. Actually, it was a bit of fun to ride around all mangled up. I would shout things like "Hey! You think I won't hit you! Look at my car, man! I've got nothing to lose!" Things like that. Getting my van back now, only to have it actually worse than before the accident is really upsetting. Knowing that it's going to be going away again for who knows how long is even more upsetting. Now I'm going to miss some days of work for this as well. The cherry on top is that this Friday, I need those wheels to get a whole bunch of Girl Scouts to Kalahari for a day water park mania. So whatever those fellows did to it while they were making it pretty, it better be a quick and easy thing fix!

Oh, and the car place won't be open until Monday, 8 AM. As far as I know, they probably haven't even heard my very upset voice mail about this yet. *sigh*

The tiny annoyance of today was the stupid remote for the cable went belly up. This morning it was working; this afternoon, nothing. I hoped it just was dead batteries, but no, it's a dead remote for no reason at all. A quick pop up to the cable company will get us a new one without a bat of an eye from the worker behind the bulletproof glass. But, the cable office isn't open until Monday, 9 AM.

Luckily, the cable office and the car place are only a block away from each other!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Grind

While I was busy composing the last article about abundant family bonding over food and hot wax, we had a noisy visitor.

The Boy came running into my sanctuary. "There's two big trucks out front and a little thing that's remote controlled!"

I blinked.

Ah! Now that is worth going to see. Indeed it was two big trucks and one little thing that was remote controlled. Now the rest of this post is all the details of our stump being removed. Leave now if: A) You think that stump removal machines are boring or B) You already witnessed a stump being removed once in your life.

Here's the little remote control thing. It's got this spinning blade that you would not want to to mess around with. Some horror film will undoubtably use one of these for a character's grim end.

Here's the dude with the remote control. Neither of these guys seem very impressed with me taking pictures of them. I'm certain that controling this machine by remote is more fun and decidedly safer than say riding on top of it. That blade spins super fast and the arm swings back and forth slicing out more of the stump with every pass.

It's almost through the whole thing now. After they got through shredding the stump itself, they went after some of the more giant and prominent roots, like that big bastard that made mowing the curb lawn such a pain! But look at that mess! What are they going to do about that? I hope not just rake it into the hole and call it a day.

Nope, there was a plan. The remote control guy put the little thing away and pulled out a leaf blower and put all the mess into a big pile. Meanwhile, the guy who up to this point did nothing, brought up the really big truck. And that truck had an arm with a scoop.

It took four scoopfuls to get all of it up.

It all got dumped in the truck, but not from this height, I'm sorry to say. That would have been cool. No, he opened the scoop way down in the truck where we couldn't see.

So here's what left. Nothing. All ready for a new tree to start the process from the top!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Perogie Day

For the past few years we have taken one day to make and eat large numbers of perogies. It's a potato and noodle frenzy. Recall back that the very first picture I ever posted on this blog was of the Sister on perogie day. Looking at that picture now, I see that we had dough that was too sticky and WAY too many potatoes.

I make the dough and the Sister brings the potatoes. Every year we mess up the dough to potato ratio, but this year (after I made a second batch of dough), we came out exactly right. So for next year people, it's 10 cups of flour in the dough to one pound of mashed potatoes. That's what it takes.

Here's the assembly line crew, (except the Boy who must have ducked under the counter), putting it all together. The Brother and the Girl deal with dough and run it through my most specific piece of kitchen equipment, my pasta machine. The Boy and the Mother would then pile in the potatoes, bacon and cheese in just the right amounts.
The Sister has the most important job. She pinches the whole thing together. I can report that this year not one perogie opened up in the boiling water! They were all perfect. These guys here don't seem to have any bacon. Must have been when we ran out. Oh, the tragedy of it all

My job is to scoop the floating perogies out of the water and put them into the frying pan with the butter and the onions. By the time I was done, the whole house was filled with smoke from scorched butter, but we all had happy, happy bellies. We also had plenty of perogies left over to freeze so everyone had some to take home. Perogies are a lot of work, so don't recommend making them unless you have lots of people on hand and several bottles of wine.

The Boy really was there. He created this tiny masterpiece complete with bacon feet, chives for hair and cheese arms! I'm so proud.

Perogie Day this year also celebrated the Mother's birthday for which we made brownie sundaes. Also, since it was the day before Easter, after we cleared away the substantial perogie mess, we colored eggs. The Sister has hardcore egg decorating talent. The one she is holding here is speckled. She also painted the shamrock one.

Finally, it wouldn't be a party unless the Mother brought her paraffin wax heater along. Everyone dipped hands or feet into the warm lavender scented goodness! This is the Girl's sweet little foot going in. She also ended up doing her elbows, which seemed strange but they were very soft afterwards.

Yesterday we took the van in to get it's face put back together the from the accident. The woman at the desk said it would be done on Wednesday or Thursday. On the way out the Man commented that she didn't necessarily say THIS Wednesday or Thursday. Oh, dear. Being without a car is such a drag. The Man's truck is only built for two people, so were a bit stuck. Today we all walked downtown to the super yummy Chinese restaurant for lunch and stopped by the library as well. It was a little windy (Okay, a lot windy), but an enjoyable walk just the same.

Coming home yesterday morning, driving down Broad Street, we saw two men come running out of a storefront door. When I looked back the second man had tackled the first and had him pinned on the sidewalk! The Man raced us back around the block and parked us right where we could see all the action. The second man, a really big guy, was sitting on the first guy's chest, yelling at him. This is like 11 in the morning, not midnight like when you expect things like this to happen. Seems that the second guy caught the first guy going through an office, intent of theft by the sounds of it. There was lots of yelling and bad words, I can tell you that! It was like watching an episode of "Cops" without the bleeping. A girl came out of the bus station to say that the police were on there way. She was even angrier than the big guy; I thought for sure she was going to kick the pinned guy in the head, but she didn't. She stomped down the sidewalk, back to the door where everything started. This incident wasn't in the papers this morning, but I'll keep my eyes on the police blotters for the story. I was a crazy thing to see.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Traditional Easter

For a second year we bundled off to the IX Indoor Amusement Park for a day of Easter thrills, spills and overpriced snacks. But I think that cat is out of the bag on this one because today was much more crowded than last year. Still nothing like your average Friday or Saturday out there, which I swore I would never do again. I even spit on it.

We rode the famed Crazy Mouse a couple of times. We drank too much pop, ate french fries and funnel cakes. There was a petting zoo, a dog show and many, many spinning and noisy rides to keep us happy and busy for an entire afternoon.

There is this one game there that the Man probably would sit at all day if we let him. It doesn't have a name and I've never seen it anywhere else, so you'll have to bear with this description. It's pretty simple actually: You get a bag of tokens and there's this little arm that you roll the tokens down one at a time. They land in a bin that has a wall that moves back and forth pushing the tokens to the front. Once the pile of token builds up enough, then the ones nearest the front fall off the edge, slide out the chute and that's what you win. Seems like a lot of trouble for little payoff, but there is also riding on top of the tokens little prizes that occasionally fall off the edge as well. That's the fun part. The extra tokens just keep you playing longer; it's the prizes you are after. The best prize that the man won today was a little bowling pin key chain that actually ended up being a pen that that the end lit up when you wrote with it. Doesn't seem possible that some much fun could be shoved in such a small thing!

A new thing at the Park today was an oxygen bar. Just like it sounds, you sit at bar stools with a medical-like tube going up your nose letting you breathe in 95% pure oxygen that you can "flavor" with fruit scents that you can almost taste. I didn't do it, but the Boy and the Man did. Neither of them had a high opinion of the situation, so if you ever see this, just keep going. It's not going to put you in a better mood or make colors seem brighter. Getting to keep the tubing seems like the best part for them.

We went by one vendor who was selling Italian charms. This little jewelry fad is SO over. It made me sad this whole booth with table after table of little pieces of metal that absolutely no one would want to buy.... or would they? Right there, no lie, was a charm that had the Girl's name on it. Well, not exactly her name, but her nickname AND spelled the right way. So we bought it. We'll put it on her bracelet and it will go right back in her jewelry box never to be worn again. But being that this was the first time we've ever seen anything with even close to her name on it, well, we just couldn't pass it up. And it's not like I was buying her five minutes of flavored air to breathe!

Yesterday was perogie day. A full day of making and eating homemade perogies. I have lots of good pictures and stories that I'll post tomorrow.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What a Weekend

First of all...It's over! It's over! It's over! We sold every single box of cookies we had plus 43 boxes that we took in from another troop at the last moment. A grand total of 1243 boxes of cookies sold this year. Our last two booth sales Friday and Saturday night completely wiped us out. This has never happened before, not even close! What a relief! We could go to the mall lock-in and celebrate.

And that's what happened next. Saturday night, out at Southpark Mall, Fearless Co-Leader and I took all the girls to one very long night locked in a mall. We shopped, ate, danced, played mini-golf, saw "Horton Hears A Who", went down giant inflatable slides and slept. Yes, slept! Here's proof...

Sleeping has never been part of the lock-in before, they usually stay up talking and giggling, but this year they all passed out. So did I. I fell asleep at the movie too! Cool part of this year was the pillow making craft that everyone (except leaders!) got to do. That's what they are all sleeping on.
The Man and his dad are back from Florida safe and sound. They bought a camera while they were there, so someday I'll have pictures up and lots of details from the trip. It sounds like they had a really terrific time. I'm really excited about seeing the pictures from Kennedy Space Center.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Worth Watching

The Man and his dad are in Florida right now enjoying Cleveland Indians spring training. They had a pretty tough time between getting their luggage and finally getting to bed yesterday, but today went much better. Neither of them took a camera, but they will stop and pick one up sometime soon I've been told. I asked the Man if we would be interested in guest writing on the blog about what they see and do in Florida. Nope, not interested. So, in place of that enjoy this wonderfully amazing video. It's Chinese gymnasts doing ballet. Stick through it because it just keeps getting better and better!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Enough with lion already!

On Friday, I was zombie-sitting in a school full of frantic teachers. The news was grim about the impending winter storm and these teachers were getting themselves all wound up. Ho-humm, I thought. Act like you've never seen snow before! While pondering why all my students smelled like pee, it occurred to me that we might not have any sour cream for dinner. A call home confirmed that we had half a container "that looked suspicious". A quick stop to the grocery on the way home from school was in order.

At the grocery store, it looked like the day before Thanksgiving. Tons of people crammed the aisles with their carts piled to overflowing. Man, I thought, what's up with this? Sensing their panic, I also stocked up on some supplies to get us through the entire next day. I bought:

  • a bottle of wine

  • 2 packages of Reese's peanut butter eggs

  • a tube of cinnamon rolls

  • a bag of barbecue chips

  • a 2 liter of Pepsi

  • a head of lettuce

  • sour cream (Yay! I remembered!)

Bring on the blizzard!

And the snow did come. It started snowing and it didn't stop for the next 30 hours. (I wish that were an exaggeration!) Everything was cancelled, including the Mall Lock-in, which were planning on attending. The Lock-in is only postponed until next weekend. This is excellent timing since the Girl is feeling a tad bit under the weather. Staying up in a mall for an entire night would not have been a responsible thing to do with her coughing like a maniac, so I'm okay with the postponement. But check out the optimism of the other girls in my troop: Not one, not two, but three of my girls ignored messages sent to them and called me to ask to make sure the Lock-in was still on and WHEN WAS I PICKING THEM UP! Got to love those girls!

There was an unofficial driving ban in effect yesterday, but that didn't matter to us since it would have been plum impossible to get off our street anyway. Our street is the third to last plowed in this city. Look it up, I'm sure it's typed on a memo somewhere. After they plow our street, then they go the Man's parent's street. Finally, the last street in the city to get plowed would be my parent's. That's the order it happens. But in truth, none of us will ever see a plow even once for an entire winter because they won't get to the bottom of that list until April.

Here's some die hard souls stuck in front of my house. It was a big team effort to get them free. All I could think was, what could be so damn important that you HAD to go out in this weather and why did you choose my street to drive on?

What did we do on our big one day of being snowed in? We went through books, lots and lots of books. All of the kid's books live in the Boy's closet since he has the perfect space for them. Most of the books in their library are way too young for them, but they are all favorites that we can't part with. Those bookshelves have been a complete wreck for some time now, so with monumental effort we took everything out of the closet. We sorted though all the books spending lots of time stopping to read. When I talked to Grammy on the phone and told her what we were doing, she said it was like finding old friends. That's exactly what it was. We made a fair sized pile of books to say good-bye to. (Desiree, more books coming your way!) We sorted the rest into fiction and non-fiction. We toyed with the idea of alphabetizing by author, but it was getting late and no one was actually down with that idea. Organizing the non-fiction into the Dewey Decimal System also went down in flames. Bummer.

While all that book love was going on, we also trudged through tons of laundry, ate junk food, watched three episodes of Farscape and wasted huge chunks of time playing with Google Earth. Have you ever played with Google Earth? Giant fun. Giant. I'll say no more. That will have to be an entire post on its own.

So today is all about digging out. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, icicles are dripping. The air rings with the music of scrapping shovels and snow blowers. Our neighbor did our front sidewalk yesterday with his snow blower, while the snow was still falling like mad. What a guy! This after he WALKED to the gas station and back to get gas to run the snow blower. I'm making him some cookies!

We're all dug out now and I've moved the van into the sun, so now it's time for fun. Here's the boy deciding to jump off the porch. He does stuff like this. So do I at times, but not when a camera is around. It was a good jump, he got out in the yard a long way.

I have a more pictures I could post, but this is long enough. I need to get the grocery store anyway. I'll probably have the place to myself!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

This is an emergency!

Last night was the season finale of Project Runway and I was all kicked back ready to find out who would be the winner. I felt like the show tipped it's hand a bit with letting Christian show his designs last; seemed to me like they were showing a teeny bit of favoritism there. Anyway, Jillian's collection was very pretty. Rami's was typical and a little dull except for his use of offensive colors: Bright turquoise and electric pink! Nina said that Rami has trouble with color choices. That's putting it mildly! Christian's, of course, had everyone applauding madly with every new outfit. Way too much black for me and I'm not into mongo sized hats, but that last number with all the feathers was pretty fabulous.

But that's not what this is about. Ten minutes were left in the show, the three designers were on the runway getting an ear full about how much they rock and suck at the same time, then suddenly an emergency broadcasting alert cut in! Thankfully it wasn't a test or I would have totally lost it. It was an actual emergency letting the folks out in the boonies know that their water was contaminated and they should boil it. I should feel grateful that they didn't wait five more minutes to make the announcement. If I had missed the moment when Christian was named the winner, it would have been too much. All we missed was the part where they critiqued Rami and I would have loved to hear that, because some of those outfits were WAY off the mark. I'll have to catch then end of the show at another time. Hopefully, the local water system will have pulled its act together by then.

So another season of Project Runway is done and gone. Another long wait until next season begins!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

They Should Rename Bumpers!

I've put this off long enough I guess, but I really haven't been in the mood to bring it up.

Back on March 1st, the day of the triumphant 208 boxes of cookie sale, I rear-ended another car on the way home. I was coming up to a red light with a long line of traffic in front of me. Everyone stopped short, very quickly, but I couldn't stop fast enough. I'm certain that if anyone had been behind me, I would have been rear-ended as well, but I was the last one in line.

I was coming to a stop, not moving very fast at all and look what happened to my baby!

It's all completely smooshed! I'm so annoyed. If bumpers actually were bumpers, a la pinball machines and the little cars at the amusement park, this accident would have been a big nothing. Instead his bumper got wrenched down and mine is cracked and the damn grill fell off! I might have been going 10 MPH, maybe, and decelerating. This much damage for something like that is just wrong!

Anyway, I was a complete wreck when this happened. Close to basket case status. And it's not like I've never been in an accident before. Back in 1990, the Sister and I were in a doozy of an accident when some nurse misunderstood traffic laws and pulled out right in front of me. We came very close to hitting a house! About two years after that, up at college, I was pulling into a parking space when I got blinded by the glare of the sun and grazed into the side of the next car and the driver was still sitting in it! But that's it. So it's been awhile since I was in an accident. Maybe that's part of the reason I didn't handle it so well.

Luckily the guy I hit was so insanely nice. He was really worried about me and asked after The Girl over and over again. And the cop was really sweet too. Everyone was treating the situation like it was a little fender bender and no big deal. Except me. I was shaking and crying and the Man had to come to the scene because I was falling apart in a pretty quick fashion. When it was all over and we were back home, I had another break down over it all. That night I couldn't sleep because I kept playing it over and over in my head.

In my defense, I did just have a pretty tough four hours previous to the accident being out in the freezing cold and wind for the whole time. I was tired and numb, not in the best shape to deal with any kind of problem, especially one like this.

Now returning to my opening statement- If bumpers aren't going to allow you to actually bump anything without being destroyed, then I really think they should be renamed "Breakers". I think I makes more sense as a title. It's the part of your car that breaks first, so the rest of your car gets a softer blow. What do you think? I have a suspicion that the automobile industry is not going to go with this one, but I'm starting the revolution now. So, my car needs a new breaker, please. And put the grill back on while you're at it, that looks terrible!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

It was the best of times...

In the freezing, windy, wintry weather outside of Walmart yesterday, Fearless Co-Leader and I along with four hardy girls sold a grand total of 208 boxes of cookies in four hours. We were so cold we couldn't make change or open bags. The cookies were blowing over. Our poster wouldn't stay taped to the table. Most than once we had to chase wayward bills across the parking lot. The ink froze in our pens. That's cold! But it was the most cookies, by far, that we've ever sold at the booth. The runner-up would be last year, at the same Walmart, when we sold 167 boxes. This sale exceeded all of our expectations.

This morning, Fearless C0-Leader and I joined by three sleepy girls sold a whooping 34 boxes during four hours of sitting in a warm and cozy Drug Mart. It was the dullest and worst booth we've ever run. What a weekend!