Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This family comes in a close second. The Cookies:
Monday, December 29, 2008
This year was a banner year for movies for me! I doubled my usual movie intake by October. I saw Juno in January when we had a rare free night. When my mom and sister came to visit in the spring, we saw Smart People because I liked that Ellen Page so much in Juno. In September we saw Burn After Reading on our anniversary. Then in October I went with a group of my agility friends to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua. (It's okay - I am laughing at me, too.)
Last weekend when Pat took Craig to the play, I went to see Four Christmases with Jamie. And it was then that I decided that since I was already way ahead of my usual movie tally, I would try to crush the record. So on Saturday night I went with my boys to see Seven Pounds. Then on Sunday, Pat and I had a date night and went to see Slumdog Millionaire. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was the movie we saw with my parents while I was home. Count 'em up! That's EIGHT movies in one year! And four movies in one week!
And because I've become such a movie aficionado, I feel compelled to rank the movies from best to worst.
- Juno - that Ellen Page is so cute and the movie was hilarious
- Slumdog Millionaire - very interesting, very visually stimulating, good soundtrack. The scene during the credits was awesome and caused this movie to steal the #2 spot.
- Burn After Reading - I really enjoy the Coen brothers' sense of humor
- Curious Case of Benjamin Button - interesting, but kind of long. Bonus credit for best use of lightning.
- Four Christmases - cute and funny. It would have ranked #4 if the ending didn't ruin the whole movie.
- Beverly Hills Chihuahua - Yes, it was stupid but I liked it. I'm not ashamed to admit it.
- Seven Pounds - great story but sooooo slow. And for some reason Will Smith wasn't in it but Barak Obama was.
- Smart People - horrible
Hmmm...I have no plans tomorrow night...maybe I'll go for NINE!
(Post-posting note: I did not go see another movie that night. We finished watching No Country For Old Men instead. And yep - still 2 thumbs up. So, my movie record holds at eight. We'll see how 2009 goes.)
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Anyway... my high school friends and I have an almost-annual tradition of meeting for breakfast while we are all home for Christmas. Some years Laura goes to Florida or Elizabeth goes to Aruba or whatever. But this year all my girls were here, despite the record snowfall in Portland trying to keep Elizabeth stuck there. Here we are:
Now let's add the spouses.
Yep - still feeling like the underachiever here. John is an author. This year he was able to quit his "real" job and is an author all day instead. Ergh. He's living my dream. What I wouldn't give for an imagination. Chris is a bike racer and as part of his bike store job, he also fits big-wig bikers for biking shoes. Next month he's going to Portugal to fit new shoes for the Tour de France champion. Wow!
I think my only real talent is to surround myself with the best and brightest people around.
Friday, December 26, 2008
A Lot of Diamonds:
Yeah, we aren't really as normal as that picture would make you think. This is more like what you really get at our house:
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I hope your day is as lovely and festive as mine is going to be. (It's early. The 18 million kids haven't yet descended upon my mom's house with the fury of a hurricane so I'm still feeling incredibly optimistic and Christmas spirit-y. Check me again this afternoon.)
Bundle up and enjoy!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Poor Mo was terrified and disoriented after her surgery. She growled at the adoptions guy when he went to get her out of her hospital kennel. He came back and asked me to go with him to get her. Once she saw me, she calmed right down and cheered right up and they were able to inject her microchip with no problem. She hasn't left my side since.
Here is her very special Woo Woo Howl. I love her howl! She offers this when she sees me first thing in the mornings and again at feeding time. You can tell that this is feeding time by Frankie's frenzied anticipation.
And, as pleased as I am for Mo's happily-ever-after, I need to apologize to all the sick and injured dogs I passed in the shelter hospital. To the little pit bull puppy with the one eye, the rottweiler with the big bandage on his side, the golden retriever with the goopy eyes, the little poodle mix cowering in the back of his cage - I am sorry that I cannot give you the temporary home you need to heal your injuries and the time you need to recuperate from the bad things that have happened in your lives up to this point. My heart breaks for you. And to all of you reading this post, if you have space and time in your life, even just a little bit, I encourage you to contact your nearest animal shelter and volunteer to foster. It will change your life for the better, I promise.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Pat spends a lot of time with Craig. They go to the English pub and talk about bikes. I'm used to it. But things have now been taken to a whole new level. On Friday night, Pat took Craig to see a play. A Christmas play. And Craig wore a pink shirt. I think you can officially call what they have "a relationship." Don't they look cute together?
Is this something I should be worried about? Jealous, even?
Absolutely not! I am not losing Craig. He likes me just as much as he likes Pat! After the play, he came over and we partied like rock stars til 3:30 in the morning! And when I refer to rock stars, I mean the very aged kind of rock stars who live in nursing homes and prefer puzzles to cocaine and hookers.
These big smiles were caused by two things. 1) It was just past 3:30 in the morning and we were a little loopy. 2) This was the first of many puzzles that we have completed recently where there was not EVEN ONE missing piece! WOO HOO! (It's the little things in life that are worth celebrating). We've been debating on whether the missing pieces are a direct result of getting what you pay for when you buy the cheapest puzzles on the market or a result of a combination of our carelessness, the cat's tendency to bat things onto the floor and the dogs' tendency to eat anything that falls off the table. Looks like it's the latter.
You may think that doing a puzzle would be a dull way to spend five hours that could be better spent sleeping, but that's only because you've never done a puzzle with Craig. Conversations with Craig tend to be quite interesting. If you ever get the opportunity to partake in a philosophical discussion with him, I suggest you take it. This particular evening we covered, among other things, suicide, tragic vs. non-tragic death, love, relationships and pop music. It was a lot like listening to the Smiths.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Me: whine, whine, wallow...ad nauseam
Friend: Would it kill you to quit your frickin' whining and just be a good friend?
Huh. Think about someone other than myself? Um.....
So with renewed perspective and with a little help from the sun actually coming out to play today, I am back to my usual chipper self.
Plus, it 's hard to be grumpy when this is playing:
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
- All three of my Sunday soccer teams made it to the championships for the season. And on Sunday, all three of my teams won their championship games! Woo Hoo!!! My soccer drawer overfloweth with t-shirts.
- I am keeping Mo. I've still got to finalize the adoption with the Humane Society, but then I'll be the official owner of THREE dogs. Oh, god, what am I getting myself into? Lots of years of the Woo Woo Howl of Impatient Joy, I hope! Pat wasn't thrilled about the idea and so I waited to tell him until after he had a few beers with Craig and then took a large dose of cold medicine and was already halfway asleep. By the time he was coherent, it was too late to protest.
- It's almost Christmas. Usually I LOVE Christmas, but this year the spirit just hasn't gotten a hold of me yet. I didn't even participate in tree-buying this year. Poor Pat had to take Craig with him instead. The poor tree has been standing naked in our living room for the past two weeks. I finally decorated it last night in preparation for the co-ed book club Christmas party I'm having tonight. I resolve to listen to Christmas music exclusively for the next few days to see if I can get myself back on track - because I need a little Christmas, right this very minute, I need a little Christmas now.
- Facebook made me happy today. I just reconnected with an old friend that my NFBFs and I used to work with when we lived in Grand Rapids. And, I got a message from ex-boyfriend Mikey that Dolby (the border collie mentioned two posts down) "is still going strong, although mostly deaf and a little cloudy-eyed. He's happy just to get his butt scratched, but still obsesses over the squirrels." YAY!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Reel Around the Fountain
"15 minutes with you, well, I wouldn't say no..."
A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours
"There's too much caffeine in your blood stream and a lack of real spice in your life..."
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
"And if a ten-ton truck kills the both of us - to die by your side, well, the pleasure - the privilege is mine"
I've Started Something I Couldn't Finish
"Typical me, typical me, typical me"
It's not the Smiths, but it's very fitting.
Like the Weather
Monday, December 15, 2008
Since Wes got Jeff and Darryl in the break-up, I had to get a new dog. I went to the Sangamon County Animal Shelter and debated between a chow-mix puppy and a year old Samoyed. I have a thing for white dogs, so I was definitely leaning towards the Samoyed. However, the Samoyed needed an immediate bath, which would not be possible since I was visiting my parents who don't allow dogs in the house. It was the chow-mix puppy's lucky day. I initially named him Mitch, but didn't like it and changed it to Joe. Joe was the all time best dog, my Forever Dog, the dog that sets the bar for all dogs. He was everything to me. Not even two weeks after I got him, he came down with parvo or distemper, I never really knew which. It cost me over $1000 in vet bills, but he pulled through and proved to me every day that he was worth it. Joe broke my heart and died of congestive heart failure at 10 years old.
Henry joined our family a few months after I got Joe. Henry was a good dog, a little bit noisy, but a good dog. He wasn't necessarily barky, just talky.
He was very intelligent, which was a good thing because he certainly wasn't pretty. He had a tendency to get fat until Christy started taking him running. Henry was 8 when he died of blood cancer. He showed no symptoms and then one day he just collapsed when trying to stand up. It was already too late and we had to put him down that day.
Then came Bridget. I was volunteering walking dogs at the shelter in Grand Rapids and there was a Borzoi puppy there. A stray purebred Borzoi puppy! WTF? Who loses a Borzoi and then doesn't go look for them at the pound? After her waiting period, I snatched her up and brought her home. This was how tiny she was when I got her:This is how big she was within the year: I loved Bridget, but she was a dog-aggressive, stubborn pain in the ass and, accordingly, she lived forever.
During the Joe-Henry-Bridget years, I dated a boy named Mikey. Mikey wanted a border collie, did some research and got Dolby. Dolby was the smartest dog ever. He taught himself to stay out of the street, he could sneeze on command, he could hang his frisbee up on a nail after playing. If only there had been agility in Champaign, Illinois at that time, Dolby would have been a super star. Mikey and I eventually broke up and I don't know what happened to Dolby. I hope he lived a long, happy life.Here are a couple shots from the four-dog phase of my life. Aw, Dolby was such a cute little puppy.This was taken when we were moving from Michigan to Arizona:
I don't know why I had Darryl in the winter this year, but I did. I think this was the visit he chewed a big hole in my Harriet Wheeler autographed Sundays t-shirt. Naughty dog!!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
THE JEFF-DARRYL YEARS
This is Jeff. Jeff was my first dog ever, my first pet ever, actually. Wes, my boyfriend at the time, found some crappy backyard breeder of (super-huge) Shelties and we bought this guy for $150. Wes may have been bad for me in many ways, but introducing me to dogs and teaching me about how to be a good dog owner (excepting the backyard breeder thing) were two ways in which he was very good for me.Jeff immediately became the love of my life and turned me wholeheartedly into a dog person. I was like a new mom who can only talk about her baby - I must have been very annoying! A couple months later, this little guy followed Wes home from work. We named him Darryl. Jeff and Darryl were great buddies. Here they are with my sister Amy.Wes got Jeff and Darryl in the break-up by using the irrefutable argument that I had friends and he had no one, so he should get the dogs. Very shortly after that, sadly (horribly, depressingly, devastatingly, break-my-heart-really-wanted-to-die-ingly) Jeff died of pancreatitis when he was only a year and a half. Darryl and Wes then moved to Alaska. For many years, Darryl spent summers with me in Arizona while Wes traveled. Summers in Arizona and winters in Alaska?? Poor dog. Eventually Wes and I lost contact. I heard from mutual friends that Darryl lived to be 14 or so.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
...Me in kindergarten. I am so cute that it makes me almost like children! Oh, ok, no kid is cute enough for that kind of crazy talk. And I happen to know that this particular cute kid was the whiniest, most annoying child ever and I'm still shocked that my parents didn't cull the litter.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I've had about 15-20 foster dogs and have only considered keeping two others. Kaiser, the Standard Poodle, was so great with Frankie and Georgie, very playful, very fun and I LOVE a Standard Poodle. It was somewhat disconcerting that he liked Frankie more than he liked me, but did I mention that I love Standard Poodles? And he was soooo smart! Alas, fate stepped in and put me in touch with a lady who does therapy dog work at Phoenix Children's hospital and who was looking for another Standard. She adopted Kaiser and now he's a therapy dog. The other was Ella, a three-legged black terrier mix. She was the only foster who actually learned to behave from watching Frankie and Georgie. They have to down, stay at the door before I let them in and they do the same thing before they are fed. Within days, Ella was doing the same thing without me even asking her to. She was also super-affectionate. I could whisper her name from across the yard and she would come running at me as fast as her three little legs would carry her and then launch herself up into my lap. I still regret not keeping her! I stalked her at the shelter when she went up for adoption and watched all the people who played with her. I gave her one day there and if she didn't get adopted that very day I was going to take her back. But she did get adopted and the people who were taking her looked like decent folks. I hope they appreciate that little girl. She was AWESOME! I get sad just looking at her photo - I really should have kept her.
And now there is Mo. Slo-Mo who took almost a month to warm up to us is now dancing with happiness when she sees us. In the mornings she gives me the "Woo Woo Howl of Impatient Joy" when she's ready to be let back in the house. I love a dog that howls and her howl is so pretty!! She follows me everywhere. This makes me feel pretty crappy when she's all settled in and I just have to leave the room to grab my phone or something - such an ordeal for her to get those 3 legs going and then we return to the same room almost immediately. She's still not in love with the Frankie and Georgie, but she tolerates them just fine. She'll really put up with almost anything if it means getting to be near me. She has absolutely decided that I am her person.The best dog I ever had, my Forever Dog, was Joe. I miss him every day. Mo reminds me of Joe in so many ways. This definitely makes me want to keep her. Even Pat commented, without any prompting from me, that she is like Joe. Right after I got Joe, I really wanted a white, fluffy dog, one that was tall enough for me to pet its head while on a walk. Mo is the exact dog I was looking for 13 years ago. Now that I finally have my dream dog, it only makes sense to keep her. And did I mention that she loves me best? This definitely makes me want to keep her. And really, the poor dog has already been through so much, I'm afraid that throwing her into a state of upheaval will really be scary for her now that she has finally gotten settled again. I'm almost at 100% that yes, I want to keep her.
But then I think of all those injured and sick dogs at the shelter who need to get out of the Second Chance hospital and into a foster home. If I keep Mo, I won't have time or space to keep fostering...and that breaks my heart.
So, Slo-Mo...should she stay or should she go?
Monday, December 8, 2008
3... 17.... 7 1/2... 0
That is a team of 3 (Irene and I let her husband, Brian, join Storming the Castle) going 17 miles, for 7 1/2 straight hours of racing all on 0 hours of sleep. Damn, I'm tired. Perhaps I shouldn't have gone out dancing the night before? Though I went home early from the club, I could not sleep at all. Finally I got out of bed around 2:00 am and just waited for it to be 4:30 so I could go meet Brian and Irene.
The race started at 7:00 am. We were a little late arriving, so our race started with going through the start line and then parking the truck and boat trailer, going potty and then finally actually racing. It was still dark when the race started so we had to plot the course by means of a flashlight. It was also freezing cold!!
The first phase of the race included three checkpoints - one trekking, one biking and one paddling. We started with the trekking, mostly because the idea of getting on the lake when it was so cold out was completely appalling. We did great on the first checkpoint, though jumping down this little cliff might not have been the best route to take, but so far, so good.
Then we paddled this canoe for the second checkpoint. Most of the other, experienced teams had kayaks, but we couldn't find a 3-man kayak to rent, so we went with the very slow, very heavy, very tippy canoe option. It was a fiasco. We were literally going in circles for a time. At one point we almost dumped ourselves into the lake. We rolled so far to the side that we almost had water over the gunwale (I took rowing once so I know fancy terms like this. I quit because I sucked at it...should have thought of that before this race). Of course, we overcorrected and almost tipped the other direction. However, the fates smiled on us and kept us dry and alive. Finally, we figured out the best way to maintain course, but wow, was it slow-going! We rowed that frickin' canoe for 2 miles. It was horrible.
I was so relieved to be out of the boat that I was almost looking forward to the biking portion. Some people have a fear of heights or a fear of spiders and snakes...my greatest fear is this:Which is why much of the time I "ride" like this:
The biking portion was a 3 mile ride up a mountain. Two parts of the trail were so steep that even real mountain bikers had to walk their bikes up. If you click on the below picture to enlarge it, you can see the trail we rode up and the elevation gain. We started at the lake. It was brutal. During most of the ride I was re-thinking my decision to not ride a bike at all since the last race in September.
This was the final segment of the bike leg. Everyone (not just wussies like me!) left their bikes at the bottom of this and hiked up to the summit.
I was very happy to reach the biking checkpoint!
Then it was 3 miles back to the transition area. I rode the majority of those 3 miles, but had to walk the bike down the really steep parts. The whole thing was terrifying. Brian rocked the bike portion - too bad he had to waste so much time waiting for me and Irene to catch up.
The next task of the race was remote orienteering. One person (Irene) received a map with checkpoints. The other people (Brian and I) got a map with no checkpoints. Irene was sequestered at the beach and had to direct us to the three checkpoints via radio only. She is a great communicator so we had no problem with mapping the checkpoints. We did have some difficulty finding one of them, but Irene talked us to the right spot. Yay for Irene!
Then we had to paddle again. AGAIN!? Good god. On the plus side, by this time it was warm out and I was no longer quite as scared to dump the canoe. But, again, we sucked on the way to the checkpoint. Going in circles was really embarrassing while all the cool-kid kayakers zoomed right past us! Ergh.
The last portion of the race was a zinger of a hike. The checkpoint was at the top of a mountain. A mountain covered in these, that is:All three of us at one point during the race were attacked by a cactus. Both Brian and Irene were done in by these jumping chollas. I don't know the names of the cacti (that's right...plural) that got me. I got one on my shin that wasn't too bad, though there are still bits of it embedded under my skin. Later I was squatting down so that Irene could use me as a step to get over a barbed wire fence and when she stepped off I lost my balance and smacked my hand down into a pile of cacti. Yeah, that hurt! A LOT.
The hike to the last checkpoint was about 2 miles out. We started this last task at 1:00 pm and since about half of it could be done via a road, we hoped to finish by 2:00. Yeah... not so much. We overshot our target by a good 15 minutes and had to backtrack, which led to some bickering among my other teammates and a lagging of spirits. Then we had to climb a really steep incline while dealing with the aforementioned chollas. The race was advertised to take 3-6 hours. We were already almost at hour 7. Did I think about quitting? Oh, yeah... But we stuck it out, finally found the final checkpoint and booked it back to the finish line. At 2:30 pm we checked in as the 5th place finishers. 5th place - woo hoo!, right? Well, there were only 7 teams who did the short-course. But 5th out of 7 means that we were not last! So, WOO HOO for mediocrity! And did I mention that I had no sleep the night before?
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Angela, a friend of mine from co-ed book club, wanted to go dancing for her birthday and since she's not part of my swing crowd, I knew she meant club dancing. And while the term "Slut Night" meant nothing to any of the people going (other than Pat) I figured I should do my swing friends proud by maintaining the tradition and dressing appropriately. I haven't been club dancing for years so I had to go buy new clothes to look appropriate. The goal was to look like the average 22-year-old club ho. How did I do?
The book club:
The boys with the ubiquitous crotch-point. This was David's first time...how cute.
Laura slutted it up with me - knee boots and fishnets.
Robyn and her husband Joe joined us since we were in their 'hood.
We even got Pat on the floor for one or two songs. Well, Laura did, anyway.Alas, I'm not a 22-year-old club ho. I'm an old lady who had to be up at 4:00 am for a race, so I left the club at 10:30. Craig and Pat are old men who didn't have any racing to do, but weren't enjoying the club scene so much, so they went home early, too.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Alternate Post Title: Q: Why is Jamie Not Wearing Underwear? A: Because Pat's Are Dirty.
I am pleased to say that I was able to use this blog title before Craig did. That's what he gets for beating me in Scrabble on the drive home from Vegas.
So, Blog, would you like an explanation on the underwear thing? I'll give you one, but it will prove that the adage, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" is (mostly) a lie.
I went on a road trip to Las Vegas with my boys - Patrick, Jamie and Craig. It was a very, um, interesting trip. I have never discussed underwear so often in a three day time span. It started with Patrick forgetting to pack underwear. His proposed solution was to go to Target and buy some. Jamie's proposed solution was a show of solidarity amongst the boys where they would all boycott underwear for the whole trip. Jamie's show of solidarity ended up being an act of individualism, as 1) Craig wore his underwear the entire trip (I know this both because he said so and because of visual proof on more than one occasion) and 2) Pat did take us all to Target to buy his new underwear. I would like to note, for the record, that I did not get any visual proof of Jamie's claim to be underwearless. Thankfully, Jamie displayed more modesty than Craig and Pat.
Don't worry, Blog, there was more to the trip than underwear, or lack thereof. There was also the Smashing Pumpkins concert, which was the impetus for the whole trip. Jamie is a fan and since he did the Cure with me, I agreed to do the Pumpkins with him. Pat and Craig went to see a comedian while Jamie and I were at the concert. The concert was awesome! I had a great time - I was completely mesmerized for the entire show.
There also was the meeting of Gordie Howe - Mr. Hockey. Jamie has an autograph collection that was missing Gordie, so we went and visited him at Field of Dreams, where old pros get paid to meet their fans and talk about being old. Pete Rose was there, too, but he didn't play hockey so who cares?
Blog, I can tell you that there was some serious partying going on while we were in Sin City. Ok, maybe not serious partying, but there was some Scrabble playing. I won this game by a scant 4 points on the last play - MERL and ELL. Craig challenged, but merl is, in fact, a word. Blog, I know you are looking at the board below and saying that FISTY surely is not a word. Well, you're right - I was just too scared to challenge.As mentioned earlier, Craig beat me at the rematch on the drive home by about a zillion points. I tried to play TROUTING which was not a word and was an incredibly stupid play since I could have used TUTORING instead. Dumb.
There was also the wonderful strangeness of having a lot of special treatment aimed at this little Diamond. I had my own entrance to a buffet and my own check-in lobby. Vegas knows I'm a super-star!!
There was also some happy heel clicking - which may or may not have broken Jamie's foot. And, Blog, in case you are wondering, no, Craig cannot click twice in one jump despite some very valiant efforts.
And you may have noticed, Blog, there was definitely LOTS of crotch-pointing. This is a Jamie specialty which Pat and Craig tried to emulate to varying degrees of success.Yeah, Craig is definitely not succeeding there, huh?
Blog, did I just hear you say that perhaps Jamie has some maturing to do? This was a much debated topic on our trip and the unanimous decision was no, we like him the way he is.