Monday, March 31, 2008

A Good Day Starts with Kona

I've once or twice mentioned my mother's cousin who lives in Hawai'i. Shortly after he moved there (which was years ago), he sent us a box full of stuff for Christmas. In it was a bowl made of koa wood, and a nifty box made of some other wood. Inside this box was a shell necklace and two bags of the best coffee ever. Even if you're not a coffee connoisseur (like I am not, but I can tell the difference between a good cuppa joe and a bad one), you can tell when you have Kona in your cup. Trader Joe's occasionally has Kona coffee available, but it's four times more expensive than the other coffee they carry (which is quite yummy). We did splurge on another Trader Joe's Hawaiian coffee that was about half the price of Kona, and is good in its own right. Target sells a Kona blend (some Kona blended with other coffee, probably a regular old Colombian, to make it cheaper) that is actually quite good, and satisfies that yearning for simply a good cup of coffee.

I would never bring the Trader Joe's Kona to share at work (I don't make that kind of money!) but a group of us are happy to share bags of Target's Kona blend. It's not the same as the true and good stuff, but it's far better than the crap that the office purchases. Days that start with Kona (even a little bit of Kona) are good days.

Yesterday started with Trader Joe's Hawaiian Peaberry (peaberry is a type of bean, not a variety of plant, that roasts and brews a little differently than regular, flat beans). Then Fox and Fae came over and together with mom and I, we headed into town on the Metro. It was quite cold for Sakura viewing, but that kept the crowd down (relatively speaking). We're in the peak bloom period right now (that's something we usually miss), even though there were still buds on the trees, they were not yet dropping petals. I never tire of looking at those flowering trees.

We also viewed the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, both of which I have never been to previously. I can't quite put words to what seeing them was like.

After a long hike to the Metro and a bit of crowding with baseball traffic, we were back in the area for dinner and bleeding.

Yes, I said bleeding! Think Geek has a DIY Blood Typing Kit and Fox decided it would be fun to test ours and see what we have. It's not exactly a reliable blood typing method (doesn't involve a laboratory to anything like that) but I think it delivers mostly accurate results. I wouldn't want to get a transfusion based on it, but it's nice to know your most-likely type. Fox bought three kits, and I had one, so we and Fae sat down to bleed on a card and see what we had. I was doing fine until it came time to prick my finger. Fox and Fae had done theirs (and they were barely bleeding), but I just couldn't do it. Fox had to do mine, which worked great, it didn't hurt, and I bled more than anyone; I was the only one who needed a bandage. Fae got enough to do the test, but poor Fox just wasn't bleeding. We tried a couple clean and disinfected needles, and that didn't work. Then we decided to scrap the thing and use the extra test. It's a good thing they had three!

At one point, Fae and I both exasperated that it would work if we could get enough blood out of him. I took over the lancet (since him doing mine worked so well for me). He still didn't bleed much, but it was enough this time. We discovered that I've been on the correct blood type diet for almost a year, and that Fox and I have the same A+ blood type (I guess that means I should keep him around). Fae is the coveted 0-, the same time as one of their close friends. It looks like it's a good thing to keep her around too, though I can't help her any.

This was a fun way to spend the evening. I've got a big bruise on my finger now, though. I should have chosen a different finger; I didn't realize how many important characters the left middle finger hits on a keyboard!

I just can't talk about yesterday's adventures without talking about that fabulous Nationals Home Opener that I wish I could have stayed up to watch. Nick Johnson was back on first, and he batted in a run and scored a run himself in the first inning. My dad was able to stay up for the game, and he was telling me all about it, and Ryan Zimmerman's game-winning home run in the ninth. What a great way to start off a new season in a new ballpark. I wish I could have stayed up for it.

And that was our Sunday!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Just Stupid

The loan guy keeps calling the house when no one is here and leaving messages asking if he's supposed to process my loan application. You know, the one that's $7,000 shy of the price of the house? That's the stupidest question I've ever been asked! Why would you process a loan that's not enough money? What they hell does he think I'm going to be able to do with not enough of a loan? I can't move in with it, that's not the price that the seller and I agreed on. Is he just an idiot?

I still haven't heard anything from Monty. While people normally say no news is good news, I think this means no news is no news: as in, he's having a hard time finding someone who will give me a loan too.

My mother and I took Miss Luna to the vet this morning. On the way, we passed a quaint house with a bright yellow sign in front that read "$500 moves you in." Mom wants me to check out that place. I'm not sure eager to do business with a company that doesn't give you any information online, though. Every single link on their website takes you to some other site. That leaves me to question the legitimacy of the realtor. But, we took down the number anyway, so I guess I can call tomorrow. I hate doing business by phone. Usually, if I can't do everything I need online, it's not worth it.

Get into the 21st century, people!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Holding On

I left three big black bags full of stuffed animals by the door for one of the many charities that come by regularly for donations. I feel like I kept quite a lot, but three bags of toys is still pretty good. The last time I did this, I gave away things I later regretted, and that's what turned me into a packrat. My toys are in collector's condition, most even still have the swing tags, so I have to believe that they're going to end up in some Purple Heart store and make a bunch of children happy. Sure, I could have taken the time and swallowed the cost to sell those things on e-Bay, but this is much better.

Among the toys were some things that Turtle gave me; she used to bring me something from every trip to Florida, one of them was even something I bought myself in Florida. A lot of those things were gifts from Sally. I know it was time to remove those remnants of her from my life.

Still, I've been missing Sally a lot lately. Rather, I've been missing someone who she never was. Maybe I think of her, or what she was to me even if that wasn't true, because I have no confidant. If I still had the Sally that I created, I'd have one in her.

It's odd that such delusions get created and it's near impossible to let them go. I have accepted that who Sally is now is not who I pretended she was. In fact, I don't know Sally now. Last night, as I sat in my bed contemplating the space where all those toys once were, I thought about Sally's bridal shower and how obvious it was that I did not know her. Then I thought about my sister-in-law's bridal shower, and how happy I was to realize that I knew more about my brother's (then future) wife than I did about someone who I had called my best friend for so many years. I felt quite good about that revelation, really.

I still have a lot to clean out, and it still doesn't look like much progress has been made. But, I have gotten rid of so much stuff, progress must be somewhere.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happiest of Happy Days

Happy Birthday, Willow!

I hope your day is full of rum and not much work!

It's A Small Crime

And it's only television.

But it's more than television. It was closer to reality than anything else that gets the praise of Nielsen Media Research. This is the appeal of post-apocalyptic drama.

The Jericho Rangers (that's the collective nickname for devoted fans) pulled some historical feats to even see the show get a second season. But, for all our passion, it was not enough to keep it going.

I hope the other Rangers will be kind, and join me in thanking the network for giving us at least those last seven episodes. I'm as sorry as all of them to see it go, but there is still possibility and some hope to hold on to.

Jericho was a show that could be real. Unlike all the crap that they call "reality TV," there was less fantasy here than even the popular cop dramas. That is why it rung so deep within us. If you watched the show with regularity, you know what I mean.

This week's final episode was rushed, no doubt about it, but still had us watching wide-eyed with smiles on our faces when Major Beck finally saw the truth, and Jake's pigheadedness paid off twice. It had us cheering when the Texas Air National Guard came to the rescue in the nick of time and when Mayor Anderson stared at the rolled up heap of the Allied States flag with the Gadsden flag flying high in its place.

We were gripped with emotion when Beck confronted Heather and later thanked her for her faith in him, and when Mimi had to ask for time to allow Stanley to bury his sister before being arrested, and then when Hawkins asks Jake (and all of us) "How does it feel, makin' history?" Leaving us with that hope that a good story, so hard to find these days, can still finish the way it was meant to.

I also want to thank the amazing cast, who came back for the second season because the fans wanted them. They made their characters people we cared about.

Now, the Rangers are left hoping that some other network will see this gem and bring it back. We may be small in number, and not counted by Nielsen, but we will follow Jericho wherever it may go. It's not for television, it's for the story.

"This is what fools people: a man is always a teller of tales, he lives surrounded by his stories and the stories of others, he sees everything that happens to him through them, and he tries to live his life as if he were telling a story."
~ Jean Paul Sartre

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Not At That Level

My first job was as a professional, certified football referee working for the Capital Area Soccer Referees Association. My brother and I played for the local Boys and Girls Club when we were little. My dad started refereeing then; he once told me it was to learn the game a little better and be involved in what we were doing in a different way. I think the truth is that he was recruited at one of our games because there are not too many people out there willing to do that job.

When my brother was old enough, he started refereeing too. When I hit that nearly-able-to-work age, I got in (I started a year before I could legally get a work permit. Shhh, don't tell anyone!). I don't remember how much we got paid as that was a long time ago, but I do remember that it would have calculated to quite a bit more than minimum wage, if you break down the per-game wage by the hour. Our assigner, Rae, loved that the three of us were all referees because he could send an already established three person team (standard for a football game) to a field for a day and have all the games covered. My dad's long-standing rapport with him is how I was able to start working so early.

Being a football referee wasn't exactly easy. You had to sit through an annual two day class and pass a test at 75% or better to get certified, and you had to work in a very physical job, sometimes in the rain, and remember all the laws that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association imposes. All laws of the game of football (you do know that what the US calls football has very little to do with actually playing the not-a-ball with feet, right?) are set forth and regulated by FIFA, even the referee's uniform. There's a company that makes the uniform and other important tools called Law Five, which is the number of said law. I thought that was quite clever. Actually, I just pulled my old uniform from my closet a couple weeks ago. It went in the give-away bag with a bunch of other clothes.

We never refereed outside the local youth club level, though it was rather entertaining for me to be in a position of authority around so many players who were often older than me by quite a bit. My dad and I were listening to the sports report on the way to work this morning, and there was something in there about a recent DC United game. I was only half-listening. Then dad said, in a kind of nostalgic way, "I never got to that level." Sure, none of us were FIFA-level, but we all could have been if we wanted to. All of us stopped refereeing years ago, my brother was the first one out and dad was the last and I stopped when I went to college, but we could have gone as far as we wanted.

I remember when our assigner passed away. His wife, Maggie, wore a pink suit and all of us ref's stood around talking shop, like we always did when we got together (break times during our training sessions went much the same way). It sure did not feel like a funeral and Maggie, who was not a ref herself, mingled with the rest of us wearing the bright smile she always had.
You can imagine there are not a lot of females in that vocation, and there were not many young people in either. Whenever we would get sent to a tournament where there were tons of teams and referees about, some of the refs would spend their breaks watching whatever game we (as in dad, bro, and I) were working. I was conscious that they were specifically watching me, because my very presence there was doubly unusual.

In my very last training session, and I remember there were a few young teen girls in it who gave me as much of their attention as they did the instructor, someone had asked a question and the instructor wanted the old refs (those of us who were there for re-certification, not first-certification) to answer it. I answered to the best of my ability, which was correct, and one of the other old refs piped in, "I just want to say, if you ever get a chance to see her [pointing to me] work, watch everything she does. She really knows the job." The instructor agreed and the other old refs nodded enthusiastically, the girls glowed in admiration, the new gents in the room looked a bit surprised though it was more about me actually being in that elite 'old ref' group, and my dad beamed his best beam. Strangely enough, I had no idea I was so well thought of, though I see it now looking back.

There is so much that fills my spare time now, but there are times when I do miss it. Mostly, I miss the fellowship. Get a bunch of refs in a room and you'll hear football stories like you've never heard before. Old refs will talk about tough calls, broken legs, neat plays, or the professional match that was on TV the night before. It's fun to watch a game with these guys too, because we all sit around and call it like it was our own. There was passion for the game that was unmatched by players, coaches, and even fans (and we all should know that football fans can get rather fanatic!). Even dad's stories, whenever we happen to get in the mood, are never boring, though I've heard them all many times and witnessed several of them myself.

I thought I was going to take today to tell you all my football stories. Then, I realized that I have a lot more than can fill one day's story-telling. You, gentle blog readers, will just have to endure more football stories at a later time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

That's For a Change of Pace

Today, someone in another department sent an e-mail about a problem to everyone in my department (that is not the right procedure for such a thing, but what can you do). The gent who sits on the other side of the cube wall from me jumped on the problem right away. He called the merchant and left a message and, as he hung up, I heard him say to himself, "that's just rambling." He was referring to the initial e-mail that would be an English teacher's nightmare (or an English student's failing grade, depending on how you look at it).

The gent then came over to candidly vent about how many people cannot accurately communicate the situation in writing. Even poor Pat has some terrible writing habits (putting periods in the middle of sentences, random line breaks, that kind of thing. He's asked me to help him on several occasions, but he's so set in his ways it's near impossible to correct). I understand concise writing is a skill few people possess, but they still know where sentences should end, right? Correcting horrendous writing skills is not why I decided to write about this today, however.

Towards the end of our conversation, my coworker said, "I talk to you because I know you understand. You're the smartest person in the room." Well, how about that! It makes you feel good when someone has a kind thing to say about you, doesn't it? Actually, both of the guys who flank my desk were rather generous with the elevating of me today. Yes, I said "thank you."

The other gent was talking about WAM and her amazing inability to admit when she is wrong. There is a certain procedure that we have to do, and it's a pain and a half, but that's what the bosses want. I'm not in the situation to need to do this very often, but when I am, I'm sure to do it. I listened as Adolf went to everyone in the two database groups and re-instructed them on this procedure. Most just said, "oh, I forgot" but WAM said she thought that's what she was supposed to do but wasn't sure (therefore she didn't do it at all, nor stop to ask). My co-worker told me he thinks I am very thorough and is amazed that WAM takes my attempts to help her as a personal challenge (pointing out that I didn't get to level 3 for doing nothing). I must say, I was the only one that Adolf did not have to come to about correcting that procedure. That felt pretty good too.

Among rampaging mammoths and working nearly four hours overtime yesterday (that was not planned), it's nice to hear these things every now an then. I guess not everyone thinks I have ridiculous opinions. I hope I can get to bed early today.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cloned Mammoth Runs Amok

Yesterday, I mentioned that we watched some of the Discovery Channel's Raising the Mammoth special. There was still some of the episode to go by the time we had to leave, but it was fascinating just the same. It's hard to even imagine how exciting such a find would be; just like the mummified hadrosaur found in North Dakota. News like this makes me wish I had been able to pursue my anthropology passion more (if you didn't know, archaeology is a branch of anthropology). So, from a scholarly standpoint, the show about the mammoth was captivating for me.

However, for reasons unknown, I spent the night enveloped in a chain of mammoth-related nightmares. In my dream, scientists had used the extremely well-preserved DNA of the frozen mammoth to clone it. They now had a living, breathing, extinct, ice-age animal to study. But the animal got out. Maybe it was the intense Maryland heat and his thick fur that made him do it, but he started rampaging. The more-massive-than-life creature went through buildings and brick walls, and stomped on cars and people. The dream-animal, of course, managed to stomp its way through the night to my dream-neighborhood in its frenzy.

I spent most of my dreams trying to keep tabs on the thing (it was big, but it was dark) and trying to keep people from running into its deadly path, having to check myself and get out of the way more than a few times. This caused me to wake up in a cold panic quite a lot when the dream got too intense, but then I'd go back to sleep and pick right up where it left off. The last segment of last night's extensive nightmare had me in my house watching the enraged animal approach.

I suppose it sounds a little funny when I retell it like this, but while it was happening, it was terrifying. I don't know what my brain could have possibly been thinking. It's not like archaeology, in general, is a foreign subject to me. I wonder what about that amazing discovery prompted my mind to make me spend the night running from it.

Well, hope with me, gentle blog readers, that those frightful dreams don't come back again in any form for a long while!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Unexpected Places

I've noticed some movies that I am 99.99% certain I bought that have gone missing from my collection. They are two DVDs and a tape, one was bought only a few months ago, and the other two I'd had for years. I am 100% certain about the tape; Kaliis and I used to watch it when she would visit. It's been missing for some time, but I've only been really searching for it for about six months.

The crazy thing about this tape is the fact that it's been missing. It is my only copy of Muppet Treasure Island, which I bought when it came out on video. What's crazy is that it is a tape (bigger and therefore harder to lose than a DVD) and it's in one of those really big plastic cases, like they used to release the Disney tapes in (so it is that much larger of an object to have gone missing). I love this movie, I can't seem to find it on DVD without ordering it online. I've wanted to watch it for months. I've searched every place I can think to look, I asked some friends if I might have loaned it to them, I even had my mother check my grandmother's place (as she sometimes brings movies for them to watch). No luck in any place.

We went to my grandmother's for Easter dinner, as usual. It was a yummy dinner of Whole Foods chicken, with potato salad, broccoli slaw, and lightly steamed asparagus. We took a nice break after dinner with a few interesting episodes of Escape to Chimp Eden on Animal Planet, before slicing a pineapple upside down cake for dessert. Then it was back to the TV where a neat special on the Discovery Channel: Raising the Mammoth. We were contemplating the language settings on my grandmother's TV (it looks like French to me, my grandmother thinks it's something Comcast is doing. It's impossible to explain that Comcast has nothing to do with what appears on the screen when you hit the mute button). We went searching for the TV's original remote so I can fix the language setting. Mom opened up the cabinet under the TV stand and there, plain as day, was my movie.

I shouted, "My movie!" No one knows who put it there, in that cabinet that no one ever goes into, but there it was. Happy day!

Mom and I just finished watching it. I don't care that I'm up late. I love that movie. I'll still search for it on DVD, but I'm so very happy to have it home.

Happy Easter.

This Moon Has Many Names

The names of the full moons that I have been giving you come from Native American traditions. I had a dear friend who is Comanche, who taught me the vast majority of the information I relay (even if it was not originally her tradition).

Some tribes called this the Full Sap Moon, a time when you could tap the maple tree for its sap. To others, this was the Crust Moon, referencing the hard shell-like surface of snow that melts during the day but freezes at night. In the north, it was often called the Crow Moon, as the birds returning from their winter roosts fill the air with their song. It was also commonly called the Worm Moon; worms emerge from the frozen ground where they are easily snatched by robins, the bird that most identifies the return of spring.

With all of my supplies still packed away, I was only able to do a simple candle ritual. Similar to what I had originally planned to do for the Esbat, only the purpose changed.

After casting my circle, I charged a white candle with thoughts of peace, calm, and patience. I then placed it in the north and lit the wick. As the flame burned, I surrendered thoughts of doubt, failure, and fear to be burned away by the flame. The candle took those doubts and destroyed them, and the patience and calm was released into my circle as the wax melted, thus filling it and me with those feelings.

My move that hasn't yet happened has been extremely frustrating to me. So, I took the opportunity to get rid of all of the negativity that I brought about in this temporary delay, and to replace that with the patience I need to get through this time and with knowledge that my much anticipated move will happen. It has to, I just have to wait a little longer.

I hope everyone had a marvelous Esbat.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I Simply Must Say It


I am not a basketball fan in the slightest bit, but I sure am proud UMBC's team.

Get 'em, guys. Show 'em what Retrievers can do!

Ostara, the Vernal Equinox

An equinox is so named because the time of daylight and darkness is in equal measure. This is the first equinox of the year, marking the beginning of spring for people in the northern hemisphere.

Despite the cold weather my area has been experiencing, the trees are starting to bloom, birds are returning to their summer nests, and fair weather insects and amphibians can be heard through the night.

I've been personally suffering an intense case of winter blues, and only last night realized that is what it was. The process of changing my residence has stalled for now, which hasn't helped my mood. I was certainly expecting to be moved in and settling by now. Because of this, all of my tools are safely packed up in move anticipation, leaving me to performing a very simple meditation ritual.

I placed a pink candle, pink to represent the flowering sakura trees I love so much, into a painted jar and cast my circle. I prepared myself by focusing on the candle and filling my head with thoughts of spring and what spring means: new beginnings, starting fresh, and certainly warmer days that can be spent out of doors. I then picked up an old Book of Shadows and a pencil and started writing.

This is a form of meditation called automatic writing. The only rule it to write whatever comes to mind, and not to stop. I wrote for thirty minutes and filled five pages. The candlelight was just enough so that I could see the lines on the page, but not what was being written. I did not exactly follow the lines on the page, but writing neatly is not the objective. It is an exercise of meditation and channeling. When done right, you don't have any conscious thought about what you are actually writing.

I read over my pages of scribble this morning and found a lot of thoughts about how I've been feeling lately, where it's really coming from, and why I want to hide those reasons, and what I've really been feeling, from the people who are important to me.
Just as spring is a time of beginnings, this exercise allowed for beginning; beginning to see the truth behind my actions and emotions, and maybe even beginning to move them in a different, more positive, direction.

Embrace your beginnings.

Even If I Had a Choice

I think of you often. I miss you more than I admit even to myself. I regret that we are not closer, that we don't have opportunity to visit more than two or three times a year. I wish there was more I could do to show you that I love you.

But I am so happy for the love you've found. And I am so proud of the life you've built. And I am joyous at the thought of your family growing some day.

Happy birthday, my brother. I love you.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I've Noticed

I was just reading today's Dear Prudence and the last entry made me think about the etiquette of the thank you letter. And then one thing in particular. (By the way, I applaud Ms Yoffe's prudent reply to letter #1. I had a hard time not being judgmental just reading it.)

Before I go further, I will admit that I'm terrible with thank you letters, though I wish I was better about it (no one is stopping me but me, I know). I still feel that a personal in-presence (or telephone) thank you is sufficient. And, I am content if I only receive an in-person or modern (e-mail, text, etc) thank you. These are acceptable to me for birthdays and holidays; weddings are the only times I really expect a hand-written note of thanks. Rules of etiquette say otherwise (take heed!) but that's not the point here.

One of the things about living with my parents is that I often get invited to go to certain functions with them (I've even been to weddings where some people invite my parents because I don't have a guest to bring). Well, since we're all invited together, the three of us tend to pool our finances to get one or two bigger gifts or a bunch of smaller gifts for our friends (and I use "our" for simplicity. It's usually their friends, or my friends, and only occasionally mutual friends).

What happens when we all come together to acknowledge the special event with a gift, and we all sign the card (or, my mother with the prettiest handwriting signs all of our names for us), is usually the thank you is addressed to my parents. My presence at the event is acknowledged (and, in the cases of several small gifts, maybe one or two of them are named from me), but rarely is my part in the gift understood. When multiple little gifts are involved and people try to guess who is responsible for what, they're always not completely correct.

It just seems to me that it would be most logical to thank everyone, wouldn't it? I mean, if we're all on the card and that card was accompanied by a gift, wouldn't it make more sense to thank everyone on the card? Really, who are you to judge what part I did or did not play in the gift process? We put everything together for a reason, after all. I wonder if this means they assume I get put on the card as an afterthought. It happens with everyone; whether it's my parents' friend(s) or my friend(s) or mutual friend(s). Really, I feel rather disparaged at this trend.

I can only think of one couple at the moment that did not fall into this faux pas: my neighbors' following their wedding last August.

It hasn't sensitized me to the point of not giving gifts at all (as some people who never seem to get thanked tend to do) because I really like getting and doing things for others. But, I'm also starting to really grasp the value of gracious acknowledgment.

What Am I Working Towards?

I'm working and saving and exhausting myself because I want to get out of my parents' house. Why? Because I'm saturated with them, I spend too much time with them, and the "special" times I should have with them are no different than any other day? Then what?

I once had big dreams. I had ways I thought my life would lead. They changed around a bit through the years, but for the most part, there were three things I've wanted, and I'd be willing to settle for two out of three of those. I always knew I'd never have them all. Recently, I was sure I'd never have any. I've failed so thoroughly and completely every time I've tried that I've stopped dreaming altogether. Anything I do now is more like going through the motions.

Everything is nothing.

If I have nothing to dream, what am I even doing here?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Think I Can Drive to Hell

Really! It's only about 600 miles by road. I could cover that in about ten hours. It's even closer than Daytona's 800+ mile, thirteen hour drive.

There's no easy way to fly to Hell, you see. I can't go direct from here to the airport in Flint, but I can go to Detroit. That one is just a little further away from Hell, though.

It's hard to stay in Hell, too. There are only hotels in nearby towns. If I were to fly, I'd need to rent a car as it is.

Yes, I think I could drive to Hell.

Thinking about road trips is one of the things that makes me sad that Turtle doesn't live nearby anymore. I have no one to road trip with me.

To be fair, I'm sure any of my married friends and their better halves would road trip with me. But really, I spend enough time in the company of married people. That kind of trip is definitely not the same thing!

It'd be hard to do this on my own, but my own is all I have.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Time for the Latest

I fell in love with everything about that house. I liked the color, the size, the layout, the location, and even the house number: 13-13. But the price is just not going to work out. I haven't yet heard from Monty, but it is beyond what I can do on my own. If he doesn't come through, I'm out of the 13-13 running.

Yes, I am very disappointed.

However, when I told the sales lady that my mother was not going to co-sign on that way-too-high loan, the first thing she said was "don't give up." There is a couple living in the park who has a son also living in the park. For reasons unknown, the son spends more time at his parents' place then he does at his own, and they approached the sales lady recently about what they need to do to sell it (because they're tired of paying the lot rent and all of that if he's never there).

Here's what I don't know about the place: the type of electricity, the condition of the interior (color schemes and the like), or the condition of the lot.

What I do know is that it is still a double-wide, and it still has two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a little(r) porch. It is not near any trees (other than what may or may not be on the lot) and is surrounded by other houses on all sides and across the street, unit 4-7. It's smaller than the first, but includes a little den area (probably what would serve as the breakfast area in the other house). It's also the same age as 13-13.

And it should cost about $15,000 to $17,000 less than the other house. That puts it in my ballpark, and possibly makes it doable without a parental co-signer.

We're back on the waiting game. There's still Monty's avenue, if Monty finds an avenue, and these people may decide not to sell at all. She said they seemed eager to move forward, and to give her a week or two to see where that is heading. I'm ok with more waiting, it means more overtime opportunity!

It's a compromise, to be sure, and one I admit I'm not gleeful about making. On the bright side, sales lady didn't take the opportunity to run off with my initial deposit. That must count for something.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stop and Smell the Guinness

They say the Irish are born with the gift of blarney; no one can spin a tale quite like them. I thought about sharing an old ghost story that I heard many years ago, but I think the story I didn't tell you on Saturday would be much more fun. It's too bright and sunny outside for Banshee stories.

Our neighbors have dogs. They've had several over the course of the years they've lived there. Right now, they have a little pointer-type dog named Caesar and a boxer whose name I have yet to hear. For my purpose, I'm going to call him Rex.

Rex is tall and lean, as boxers go, and barks at everything and nothing. When dad and I come home from work, Rex is usually in the neighbor's fenced back yard, sometimes with Caesar, barking at us like we're climbing his fence. And that dog can jump! It's a good thing he doesn't actually perceive us as a threat when we're getting things out of the car, or I'm sure he could clear that fence.

Last Thursday was a day like any other. Dad and I came home to the jarring sounds of Rex barking away as he always does. In fact, his barking is so regular that many days I barely take notice. Usually, by the time we get out of his sight, he stops barking.

But, on Thursday, he did not. Even after we were well inside and there was no sound or movement on the street, Rex kept barking. And barking. And barking. I looked out the back window to see if I could identify what had gotten Rex so worked up; honestly, I didn't notice if he was up at the fence barking at us when we got home. What I saw was a dog who was barking and carrying on at a specific spot in the grass near the fence between our yard and the neighbors'. It could mean anything, an unusual stick, a mouse or mole, a bird (I hope not!). Then, I saw a long black thing shoot forward. It might have connected and it might not have, but Rex backed away in sudden shock, and then went right back to that whatever it was in the grass. He never stopped barking. It took some twenty seconds or so for me to identify what was troubling the dog.

I let it go on for a bit, wondering to my parents if I should go next door and tell them Rex found a snake that was doing its best to get the dog to scram. I heard the neighbor yell at the dog, but otherwise take no notice of what was bugging him. Following that, Rex went back to barking, the snake went back to biting. Alright, I'll take care of this myself.

I went into the back yard and armed myself with a stick. Rex saw me coming and backed away, but didn't stop barking. Now, he had me, dad, and the intruder snake to bark at. Poor dog! I also understood his confusion; there was this colorfully-spotted black snake coiled up next to a pile of Rex-poo, looking much like a pile of poo himself. Except it moved, and bit. I'd be unnerved if a pile of my poo started moving about and biting me, wouldn't you? And who knows, Rex might have been very concerned that the moving, biting pile of poo actually came out of his butt. Who knows what dogs think sometimes.

Rex backed further away from us as dad armed himself with a stick of his own and we approached the fence. Rex was really more concerned with the snake than with us, and he kept barking. The snake was all coiled up, ready to strike again. He was very pretty, and one I have never seen before. My attempts to identify it have been inconclusive, but it most resembled a juvenile rainbow snake; listed as endangered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. We gently prodded the snake with our sticks and it gladly slithered away.

And, as the best anticlimactic ending that could possibly be to this story, the neighbor opened a window in the house and once more yelled at the dog to keep quiet. So, I yelled to her that he had found a snake that was biting him, which is why he was barking, and we shooed it away.

She said, "Oh, he had a snake?"

"Yes, we shooed it away." I repeated.

"Oh. Thank you."

Take the time to pay attention to your dog, lady, and you could have taken care of that yourself! But, I didn't say that.

With the snake safely hiding and the pile of poo the only (normal) pile of poo about, Rex was happy again. And quiet. Ahhhh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nothing to Report Today

It was too cold for ice cream, but we went to a Cold Stone Creamery for the first time anyway. Yummy!

I'll be working overtime this week, so we had our corned beef and cabbage dinner tonight. (I had a turkey hot dog, since beef, cabbage, and potatoes are on my do not eat list.)

That's it!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Had a Funny Story for Today

But, I'm actually a little too tired to repeat it in the funny way that I was able to do earlier today.

Instead of moving in, which is what was originally planned for this weekend, Fox and I took my bike to get some work (it was having some joint issues), had lunch, drove by the house, scouted out a kayak landing we have yet to try, and took the long way home for a little Jeff Dunham humor before calling it a day.

The evening was spent with some organizing of (an unbelievable amount of) pictures and putting (another unbelievable about of) my scarfs into a couple of those bags that can compress the contents by pushing all the air out. Then I had a long talk with Monty, who's going to apply his resources to get me out of the fix I'm in (in regards the the house) and following that, dad and I filed my taxes.

The issue with my house is that they're either going to give me not enough money at an incredibly high interest rate, or enough money still at that incredibly high interest rate. And what that incredibly high interest rate translates to is about $300 left a month to spend on my student loan, electricity, insurance on the home, insurance on the car, house phone, cell phone, gas, food, cat food and litter. I don't think that can be done on $300 a month, and that certainly leaves no room for cable TV or internet, vet bills, car maintenance, or any other sudden expense that might come up.

The real sucky part is that I'm not sure if I can get out of this with my down payment, or if that's gone for good. Truth is, I don't want to get out of it. I want a loan I can afford. Monty has promised to work on that. He's got the resources, it's part of his job. Whether any of it will actually work is something else. Best case scenario is that Monty can get me a loan and the sales lady will take it. The worst case is that it doesn't work out and I lose my deposit. If neither of those, that leaves one more possible outcome: I can't get the loan, but get my deposit back. Naturally, the first one is what I want. Here's hoping. This is my last option.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It Won't Work

But I'm still trying.

Even though I know it won't work.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Of Snags and Snares

Getting approval for that GBWC has proven to be more difficult than just finding a cosigner. Apparently, what dad brings to the table is not enough. I've been approved for that not-enough amount, but I don't have any more money to cough up the balance. If I can get yet another cosigner (aka, mom) then they won't have any problem giving me that GBWC.

I will get the loan I need (and be able to refinance with some other company down the road to get my parents off of this loan), but it just won't be in time for my settlement appointment on Friday. That gives me more time to do some cleaning and downsizing and to get more boxes and to work more overtime, so there is some good in delays.

It's still extraordinarily frustrating.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Wish for a Shroud

I feel like hiding. I feel like I have nothing in common with the people I always associate with. I don't want anyone around, and there are only a handful of people I want to still be there when I do want people around again. I need a hermitage and I've got nothing. It doesn't matter anyway. No matter how many friends I have, I'll always be alone.

Yesterday, someone told me that a lot of my opinions and ideas are farcical. A couple people this morning said the same thing, and no, it was not in jest. I think I'm better off just keeping them to myself. Who gives a damn about what I think anyway?

I got my graded mid-course ventriloquism exam and a nifty certificate of completion for the first half of the course yesterday. So many people can move their lips while nothing is coming out. Now I can say a whole lot of nothing without moving my lips. Go me. Well, really, go me. In the letter, the owner of Maher Studios mentioned that I got a 100% score and that doesn't happen very often. Really, go me! I was even named, along with other recent graduates, on the owner’s blog. I feel accomplished.

There's still no word on my loan. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to settle in three days without one.

I talked to Turtle yesterday. The first thing she said was "Because I haven't heard from you, I assume you didn't get the house." That's actually the second time she has said that to me. No, the reason I haven't talked to Turtle in a while is because she tends to assume no news is bad news, so by the time we do talk, she's all with the doom and gloom. Thanks for your confidence, Turtle. Monty wasn't much better. The last message I got from him was asking if he needed to change move date plans (because he's going to help me). Really, guys, if plans change, I will let all of you who are involved know as soon as I can. Right now, I'm still expecting to settle on Friday. I'm still expecting to take apart my bed and cram it into the CR-V, and probably get some food in the house. And I'm still expecting to take a truck over to my grandmother's with big strong men in tow to get her very old loveseat. If anything changes, I will let the people directly affected know about it. A little trust that I will do that would be nice too. Now that I think about it, only Fox, LDS, and TG haven't assumed the worst because I have no news yet. Thanks, guys! (I know I've never named LDS and TG before. I hope LDS will find my choice of name amusing. TG is my friend with whom I've been snowboarding.)

Actually, I'm expecting to hear from either the sales lady or the loan guy today. And then we'll find out if plans really need to change. I don't think they will.

Now that I've said all that, I'll keep my ludicrous ideas to myself and get back to work.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Intimidating Display

We feed the birds in our back yard. Most often around this time of year, we see a foraging flock of dark-eyed juncos, black-capped chickadees, and tufted titmouses (or is it titmice?), with a few common sparrows about. They are occasionally joined by mourning doves and cardinals and jays and woodpeckers, and sometimes chased away by squirrels.

Yesterday, we were watching our flock of juncos and chickadees and saw a bird we had never seen before. It was colored similar to a chickadee, in that it had a big black stripe on its head and a white underside, and similar to a titmouse, with a blue/gray-ish back and wings and an orangy-color under the wings, and about the size of a junco. This litty guy hung upside down on the suet cake and pecked away at it. I consulted the bird books and discovered that he was a white-breasted nuthatch.

Our little nuthatch was very possessive of the suet cake. He would hang, either from the cage or the small branch next to it, spread out his wings and move in a slow, circular motion. This was usually when a titmouse got too close to the suet. One little chickadee was not intimidated and simply ate from the other side of the suet cake.

When I went out to get some new sticks for my dragons, the nuthatch was the only guy brave enough to come near me, when there was therefore no other competition for the yummy suet. He did not seem the slightest bit worried that I was there.

It was quite fun to watch this little bird swing upside down while the titmouse looks on with what could only be described as a perplexed expression on his little bird face. Whether he was intimidated by the nuthatch or not remains to be seen, but he did stay away from the suet when the nuthatch was displaying his wings. It must have worked for something.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Much Like Yesterday

Working all day on packing up my life didn't work out here either. Mom had this great idea to go to breakfast and then to Trader Joe's, with a not-quick stop in a bookstore.

I admit, I could have gotten some work done after we got home, but I decided instead to finish organizing some DVDs in a DVD storage unit. I started this last week, and it is a little time consuming. It counts as getting my stuff together, really, but I would have liked to have done more.

I don't think I'll be working overtime this week (because it won't count as overtime because I'm off on Friday), so I should be able to get a lot of packing done in the evenings. I need to downsize some more clothes....

Do any of you, fair blog readers, watch Jericho (Tuesdays on CBS)? It comes on too late for my mother and I to watch it, so we have to employ the good ole VCR. We finally got to watch our tape on Thursday night, and I have yet to stop thinking about that episode. It was fabulous (even if it was stressful and heartbreaking); just one amazing forty-five minutes of quality TV. We recorded Lost over it, and we both regret doing so. I would purchase the entire series just to have that episode. If you haven't seen the show, you have no idea why!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

More Busy Than I Want to Be

My car is due for inspection soon. Mom and I decided not to have it done today, and to put it off for one of those days when I'll be off next week (Fox, that's what we're doing on Tuesday).

Instead, we did our weekly shopping and visited my grandmother. She showed me the things she had put aside that I can have. I then went over to my aunt's place, and she pointed out all the things that she can give me too.

All in all, I'm looking at a small loveseat (that looks like it's from the 60's, but what can you do?), a coffee table, a tv cart, a bunch of bookcases, some dishes and pots, and some lacy curtains. My family is wonderful.

The only regret I have for today is that I didn't have even a minute to do any cleaning or packing. I'll have to work double time tomorrow.

My dad surprised me. While he was gone on his business trip, he actually called us a couple times. We usually don't hear from him at all when he goes somewhere. It was very nice that he kept in touch.

Friday, March 07, 2008

On a Different Note

Happy Birthday, Glen!

You're probably working today, just don't cut off anything important!

How Interesting

Through my special powers, I've noticed that the number of those who visit my blog has diminished recently. Now, I know my little blog and website are not as popular as, say, Google; that only makes a little decrease in readers rather apparent. And, granted, I don't blog because I expect to become famous by doing so, but it still leaves me wondering what I did.

At least two of you were not repulsed by my meager attempt at humorous art. And I always thought I had a rather healthy, if reserved, way of venting about my job. What are you, those of you who don't visit me anymore, trying to tell me? Have I lost whatever I had that made me interesting? Are you really running far, far away by my lack of artistic skills? Did you finally realize that the CIA did not, in fact, hire me and you're no longer waiting for me to spout out some government secret? Or, maybe you're all trying to tell me that the amount of overtime I work is tantamount to how boring I am? And could it even be that the lot of you are just too busy in your lives to bother with my insignificant and asinine prose about my own?

I would just like to know. Yes, I'm fishing to find out if it's me or you. I certainly don't expect anyone to be hanging around all day waiting for me to put in an update about my chaffy existence. You know, when my staggering readership of seven or ten drops to two with an occasional three or four, it just makes me wonder. I know those of you who don't come by any more aren't going to come and tell me how I scared you away. So, I guess I'm sort of preaching to the choir (of two), but wouldn't you wonder too, Two? Of course, this wouldn't be the first time I kept writing a blog that no one reads. (Not to sound indifferent to any of you, gentle blog readers, because I really do love having you around, as evidenced by my wondering where you went!)

OK. Moment of whininess and don't-you-love-me-anymore's is over. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.

I'm still working as hard as I am able in an attempt to pack up my life in preparation for moving even though I still don't have a loan and am a week from settlement. I got a call from the sales lady, who said the loan place wants to have a look at last year's W2. I got a message from the guy at the loan place, who disconcertedly said "it looks like you're making more money in 2008!" Who wants to say "duh" with me? I get to call that guy later today.

Yesterday, I did a lot of reading about how other cat owners suggest moving with cats. I think my plan is pretty good and I'll probably change little about it (which means, Fox, Tuesday may not be the best day for lots of shuttling back and forth, but we'll see).

Part of my searching for tips on how to make my cats more comfortable was because WAM lost her kitty to lung cancer on Wednesday night. She had been telling me that her cat had asthma and I remember, when she was talking to me about what they were doing for this most recent flair up, I kept thinking that probably wasn't it and it might be something more severe. I hate being right like that. WAM's kitty was, if I recall, older than Callie by a year or two. I admire her for coming in to work yesterday. I'm sure some of it was to keep busy, and some of it was because she needs the extra money from overtime like I do. Still, even being faced with the mortality of someone else's beloved pet made me wish I was home with mine.

I also want to talk about some recent things I've been researching and learning (really, nothing that riveting), but I think I've prattled on enough for this early morning. Thank the powers that be for Friday's and pay days with overtime!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why Did I Not Know About This?!

I learned yesterday that there is a LEGO store in Tysons Corner Center. A LEGO STORE!! I admit that I never really have occasion to go to Tysons Corner Center (unless I've an appointment with my eye surgeon), but why didn't I know about it?! I've walked through there once or twice. I've been to the Teavanna on the same level. How could I miss a store that sells nothing but LEGO?!?!

I'm really tired. I'm blogging about LEGO because that's all I can muster. I'm sorry that overtime is just not that interesting!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Try Really Really Hard

I've learned how to deal with WAM in the most diplomatic way I can, that maintains the most harmonious co-worker relationship that we can possibly maintain. I gently offer my opinions, make it clear that I'm not trying to sway her decisions, and allow her to spout out whatever fantabulous story she wants. I got to talk with one of my other co-workers last night about WAM's unstable personality. It may sound funny, but we both agree that WAM has the potential to snap, and we're going to make sure we're on her good side if it happens. I'm happy to say that she made me very upset with her this morning and she didn't blow up about it.

Some years ago, she was talking about her stepmother who has Parkinson's disease and is close to the end of her life. I've never liked how WAM talks about her stepmother (back then, it was in terms of how many days off of work she could get when the day finally comes). She told me this morning that her father called to say her stepmother was going to a hospice. WAM was surprised at how calm he sounded; I figured he had come to grips with the inevitable. WAM said something to the effect of hoping it was sooner rather than later, and it wasn't because she was hoping her stepmother's suffering would be over. She told me that most of her family "wants the worst for her [stepmother]."

That's disgusting and she should be ashamed of herself and I told her so. No matter how you feel about a person, wishing them a slow and painful death is detestable. I told her she was wrong as a person to "want the worst" for anyone, and to not speak to me about it because I am offended by her lack of compassion. To my great surprise and relief, she walked away.

I am a lover of life. I believe life is sacred. From my parents to my cats to my drug-running neighbor to the crickets I feed to my carnivorous reptiles. I will not avoid squishing the ants that invade my kitchen, or stop eating chicken, but I respect their life just the same (and the doom they choose or the sacrifices they make).

When WAM's stepmother does pass on, she's going to come to me acting bereaved. And I'm going to tell her that I would say I'm sorry for her loss, but I know she didn't care about the person she lost. Gees, this is right up there with Adolf #1's story about the gerbil.

Here's some advice, gentle blog readers: never tell someone who loves life that you don't care for one. We won't understand it, we won't appreciate it, and we'll probably end up respecting you a little less for it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I Don't Think I Slept Well Last Night

I'm actually really wishing I wasn't going to stay to work overtime, but I know I really need the money. I guess I need some coffee, I'm struggling to stay awake.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

And Then There Was More Waiting

The wind was a little cold, but the walk to brunch was welcomed exercise. My mother and I are getting less and less fond of this place that we go every month. We're hoping maybe the group would welcome meeting somewhere else. I did need to run to the hardware store. Really, Annapolis has other things going for it that make it a good meeting place. If only there was a decent place to eat.

With little reminding, dad filled out the form. Thanks, dad! He's actually on his way to Chicago right now for business. But, he did take care of the paperwork, even before he packed, like I asked him to (and I did ask).

Mom and I went by the office and dropped it in the lock box, and then sat in the car in front of my house and marveled at all the stars we could see. Now, there's some more waiting. The sales lady is going on vacation on Tuesday, so the last bits for this loan need to be done tomorrow. I hope to get a call from her soon that all is well. Soon.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Shred Party

Part of my major move-prep efforts today involved shredding a box of documents that I don't need to keep but never threw away because of the information on them. I had credit card statements, bank statements, and pay stubs from as far back as 1998. I've never thrown away a single pay stub or bank statement. The really sad part of that is that neither of my parents have, either (for at least ten years, that is). There's still more to do, but it's a good start.

I discovered that, not only did Miss Luna destroy my closet by making a bed out of a straw wreath, she also amused herself with all the dangling toys just hanging around. While I do need to downsize my close considerably, I did want to keep some of those things. Like the ball room skirt, or the royal purple dress embossed with roses. That little kitty bastard. I got enough cleaned up and out that I could actually close the closet (and it hasn't been closed for at least as long as my oldest pay stub). Poor Miss Luna looked very forlorn as she inspected the barrier now preventing her from entering her favorite hiding, napping, and playing place. I have to protect my gowns! I never have occasion to wear them, but that's not the point.

Mom talked to dad this morning and she thinks she convinced him to agree to co-sign for me. I asked her what his reservations were, and she said it was simply a matter of him not caring about anyone but himself. Truth is, I've always known that about my dad. He'll put his desires before everyone else's needs. At least my mom knows I won't be that far away if she needs to get away for a while. Now, we just need to nag the hell out of him so he will fill out his part of the application before he leaves on a business trip tomorrow. Honestly, if we have to skip brunch to hang over him to do it (we don't know when he needs to leave), I'll do that. Yes, I did say nag. I understand that's usually not advisable to get someone to do something, but asking nice doesn't work either. We asked him three weeks ago to get started on my taxes, because I can use my return for down payment/moving expenses/first mortgage payment/whatever. Who wants to venture a guess as to when he got started on my taxes? You'd be right if you said "not yet."

I hate having to rely on my father for anything. But I do it every day of necessity. Sometimes, everything is ok (if you count all the times he starts to nod off when it's his day to drive as ok), other times, his procrastination turns into something I have to pay for in one way or another.

I really didn't come here to run down my dad. I love him. It would be nice to be able to rely on him too.