Wednesday, March 31, 2004

One of THOSE parents!

Uh, oh. I think I may be turning into one of "those" parents. I've spent the last three days driving around and surfing the net for do-dads for my daughter's fourth birthday party. I am beginning to wonder if I'm headed for "over the top". I, personally, like to chalk up some of these plans to creativity, but on certain occasions when I entertain, or get into a specific project, I can become hyperfocused and think of nothing else until I feel satisfied with the results.

Don't get me wrong, a few balloons, some cake, ice cream and presents would probably thrill her to death, but once she announced she wanted a Princess Party, I took the ball and ran with it. I just came up with all kinds of fun ideas for a Princess Wonderland birthday.

Now MY intentions are good. I just want my only child to have a wonderful birthday, but now I wonder if I'm "starting something". Even though we're NOT having pony rides and clowns (who DOES that to their kids!?) we are planning quite a bit more than what we did last year. I worry that I might be setting a precedent that may give competitive parents something to try to "live up to". I know none of my close friends buy into any of that business, but this is the first year we are inviting some of her preschool friends. Of course, there's always a chance it will rain cats & dogs (it IS April!) and the whole thing will be a massive bust. But if everything goes according to my Master Plan, it should at the very least be a nice party.

I guess when it's all said and done, I can't worry about what other people think...ESPECIALLY people I really don't know. I don't really make a great first impression anyway, so why kill myself to please people that I may never see again.

I know Her Highness will be happy with the gala, and when it comes right down to it...that's what it's all about, and she's the only one who needs to be impressed!

Monday, March 29, 2004

It's Pet Peeve time!

OK, I knew I'd have to do it sooner or later, so it might as well be sooner. I'd like to take a moment to discuss My Pet Peeves.

All time #1: Flaking.

This can take on various forms but they are fairly easy to differentiate. The most heinous one is: RSVPing to a function and not showing up OR calling...even the next day. RUDE, RUDE, RUDE! Were these people raised in a barn?!? A close second is friends not RSVPing at all, and not showing up. P.S., You're welcome for the invitation. Do they REALLY think making a 30 second phone call to say they're not coming is WORSE than just not showing up? I don't get it. I don't care if I've invited 1000 people over, because I invited each one for a reason. Sheer crowd numbers don't excuse an absence.

Another flaking offense is canceling close to the last minute without a truly valid excuse. Y'know, I KNOW emergencies happen, and a real emergency is naturally an exception. But hemming and hawing about some B.S. reason you can't "get around" is not acceptable.

I have the ability to be spontaneous and jump onto the band wagon at the last second, but when something is pulled away from me at the last minute, I feel a childlike sense of disappointment, like I've just been told the circus was cancelled. If you really don't want to go, or attend...just say no! Why string people along? I understand that some people have a hard time saying "no", but they must understand that not following through is MUCH worse in the long run! You'll hurt my feeling alot more by blowing me off rather than just saying "no thanks"!

Peeve #2: Sidebars

My husband may be the worst offender. I know that when you are on the phone, occasionally someone else on the other end tries to interrupt the person you are talking to. An occasional "hold on one second" is just fine. But starting a whole conversation with the interrupter, without a "please hold" while I am on the other end with my thumb up my butt is not acceptable! CALL ME BACK! If it just can't wait...fine! Again, urgent things and emergencies happen. CALL ME BACK! One minor exception is when talking to a friend at home with kids. More interruptions do happen here, and most people are gracious enough to either re-direct their kids or call you back when they get a quiet moment later. Thank you! But, PLEASE, do not just start talking to someone standing right next to you while the person you were talking to on the phone dangles mercilessly!

OK, I feel better having gotten those things off my chest. What it all boils down to is COMMON COURTESY, folks. Of course, I know I'm not perfect either. I do strive to avoid being blatantly rude to others, though. (Unless the situation warrants it!) The above offenders of my peeves need to realize that these things are no more than common courtesies that most people would extend to complete strangers. Friends and acquaintances are a great place to start practicing!

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Coulda been worse, I suppose...

I actually went to my sister's this weekend and painted and the results were.....well, not spectacular. I don't know what I was expecting. Perhaps the moment I wielded the magic brush artistic ability would mystically flow through it?

It didn't help I'd had 2 glasses of wine on an empty stomach before we even started. I think the more paint I added, the worse it got. I was more or less going for a blurry, landscape-y, abstactish thing. I don't know what I got, but it actually looked better to me with sober eyes in the light of day. The jury is still out as to whether or not I'll use it for the hall. Maybe I should peruse some art books & give it another shot before I decide.

One thing I DID manage to do was to fleck paint all over my sister's pleather sofa. Opps. We didn't discover that until we returned from the store in our wine-induced mad rush for Ben & Jerry's after we decided we could (should?) paint no more. My sister painted her catoon-y trademark dragon, which came out quite cute. Not one for the hallway, but maybe nice for a kid's room.

I do think I'll do a bit of research to get some ideas & some technique tips & try my hand at it again in the future. It may not win any prizes, but it sure was fun!

Friday, March 26, 2004

*Extra* Critter Update!

I found an ancient orange in my fridge the other day & cut it up into pieces and put them at the base of my racoon's tree.

That musta been one happy 'coon! Those orange peels were stripped bare when I went in the woods to check today. Since I often "forget" about fruit in the fridge I now have an alternative to the garbage disposal!

I told my next door neighbor about the racoon, and he said "Oh, yeah. He comes up onto my deck and eats out of the bird feeder, plus he teases the dogs through the glass door. I was thinking about poisoning him." I think my look of disapproval may have changed his mind. His dogs are (annoying, yippy) miniature dachsunds...not a big threat to the giant racoon.

But, at least we know he ain't dumb! My bird feeder, which is in the line of site of the racoon's house, is still for the birds.

What the...!?!

Remember me? One disorganized one? Well, I've taken it extremes this week by more or less running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Man, I would get SO much done if I had a plan and could STICK TO IT! I wander around like a crow spying shiny things out of the corner of my eye. But the shiny things are EVERYWHERE! Make it stop! Still no Palm Pilot, although my husband got a magazine offer that includes a free PDA with your subscription. I'm sure it's sucktacular, but, hey, it's FREE! Or, perhaps it's just a convenient excuse to not go buy one! Who knows?

Enough about THAT daily frustration. Anyway, YEAH! My sister & I actually managed to get our acts together enough to plan our painting get-together tonight. I need to make a Hobby Lobby run. Is it just the excess of shiny things, or is it extra-easy to get caught up in that store for, like, an hour when you just went in for one thing. Hey! I just had a revelation! THAT'S why it's SO hard to locate stuff in that store! It forces you to wander around and see ALL of the pretties! And I MUST have them! Wicked, those Hobby Lobby people....and they close on Sunday to observe the Sabbath *snort*.

I hate it when I recognize that I have fallen victim to a common marketing ploy. Having been in marketing and advertising for over 7 years, I like to pride myself on spotting that stuff a mile away. Sometimes those clever snake oil salesman still manage to pull one over on me. Argh.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

How 'bout a collective "Awwwww"?

Is this probably a bigger deal to me than the average joe, because I was brought up with a great appreciation for nature and wildlife. While I was putting my shoes on this morning, I was gazing into the woods and saw something relatively large moving in a tree right behind my fence. Since we have eleventy-billion squirrels, I could tell right off the bat that was not what we were dealing with here, but it was just far enough that I could not discern what I was looking at. I went downstairs & rummaged around in a drawer to find my field binoculars. Imagine my surprise to learn that we have a sizeable racoon living in a partially hollow tree right on our property!

I just get a kick out of spotting animals in their natural habitat...and this one I will be able to spy on all the time! I just hope the furry critter is smart enough to actually stay out of the backyard. Between the wolf and the Great Dane, that poor sucker won't stand a chance. It does, however, explain the incessant barking by my wolf mix. She has retained all of her ancestor's keen wolf senses and loves to act like a predator, although she is the most mild-tempered dog you'd ever meet.

She cannot tolerate any potential infringement into "her" yard, though. Now that I know what's causing the problem, well, that does nothing for me because there is no solution other than continuing to go onto the deck and yell at her until she momentarily shuts up. She can't stand to be in the house for more than 30 minutes, lest something wicked be frolicking in her yard. She MUST go check, just to be sure.

Well, this may be a no-no, but I think I'll leave a little treat of some sort of fruit at the base of the tree & maybe I'll be lucky enough to watch an afternoon snack take place. I'm sure it will piss off the dogs, but the good news is, they always get over it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

It's a Miracle!

Wow! Yesterday I actually DID stuff! We moved our office into a newly built nook in the basement and I actually sat patiently and went through stack after stack of papers. I discarded, I filed, I put away. Amazing! Probably sounds like no big deal to most, but as I have mentioned before, I have severe organizational issues. For me to have a paper-free desk is nothing short of astonishing. I sat and made file folders for every conceivable piece of work foo that might come my way. What? No more frantic rifling through stacks when I need a memo? Well, OK, I won't REALLY miss it. I have vowed to allow myself to stack for ONE WEEK. Then, that stack must be dealt with.

The "old" office upstairs is now a big playroom. The bigger kids get, the bigger the toys get & the whole house was starting to look like a daycare. Now we just have one big toy wonderland upstairs, and My Little Pony's brushes and crowns will no longer be ambushing my bare feet in the carpet.

Now the only question that remains hanging is whether or not we can extract enough dog urine from the playroom carpet to meet with our satisfaction. Before we moved the office downstairs, the cat box was in the office closet. Our Pomeranian, whom we adopted bad habits & all, decided that he should have every right to pee near the cat box too, namely on the book shelf nearby. Many a morning I would find a new spot and resist the urge to turn him inside out. I guess I can't really blame myself. I saved him from a shelter & lord only knows what happened to him before I got to him. He also pees on the floor if you bend down over him to pet or pick him up. He peed on the jeans of a friend's new girlfriend the other night when they were over for dinner. Uh....sorry 'bout that.

The last thing I want to do is replace the carpet. Even the cheap stuff ain't cheap! Perhaps a well-placed jug of Nature's Miracle before the carpet guy comes will do the trick. If not, I hear you can get some nice throw rugs. Maybe while I'm at Expo...

Monday, March 22, 2004

Far from home

OK, so this weekend we decided it would be SO much fun to go to the "Home Show". We used to go when we were kids and I remember it being SO much fun. What happened? It was totally lame, ESPECIALLY for a kid! My daughter dragged around as though she were being tortured, and frankly, I can't blame her! It was like a giant, expo-center sized infomercial! When I was a kid I seem to remember more fun give-aways and "attraction" type things.
The only cool thing they had was a brick-laying guild's demo, with several guys building mini brick walls. Or maybe I'm just easily amused...

Either way, I think I'll save my money next year and just go to the "Home Depot Expo Center" if I want home ideas. That place borders on evil. They have SO much cool stuff, that I may as well sign over the balance of my credit card upon entry. They have ridiculously neat stuff. I need to make a trip there now, actually. I am getting ready to go spend WAY too much money on lawn furniture for my soon-to-be backyard Paradise. I have a large, lovely backyard, except it is on a massive slope, rendering it useless for any kind of recreation. Plus, having 2 large dogs (and one tiny one) tears the crap out of it. SO....we are building a large deck smack dab in the center of the yard, buying a chimenea, putting a canvas-topped gazebo and lots of plants & nice furniture. I will now have a reason to go into the backyard! Yeah! I am really looking forward to this project. As we do entertain quite a bit, this will allow the ruckus to spill into the backyard much more effectively now!

I am hoping this will be our last "improvement" project for awhile. If not, we may have get in line for the poor house. Even do-it-yourself stuff costs a bleeding fortune. With no "project" I may have to rent my husband out to others. He seriously will not be able to sit still for very long with nothing to do. It's almost funny. Give ME two free hours on the weekend, and you'll most likely find me in bed reading. Give HIM two hours and he has completely refurbished all of the front flower beds. Crazy. Must be nice to have that kind of motivation. At least ONE of us has it!

Friday, March 19, 2004

Any day now!

Despite my best intentions, I still have not shopped for a Palm Pilot. Perhaps today. I really, really think it would help me out. What's my damn problem? I fear change. Maybe that's it. Note to self: quit being such a raging slacker and GIT 'ER DONE!

I was telling a friend today about a really nice picture I found at an antique store that would look good in my main upstairs hall, but I have been balking because they want $250 for it. While I am a good negotiator, I'm not even sure I could pay $175 for it. I am cheap. Period.

She suggested I paint a picture for that wall myself. Why this hadn't previously occured to me, I do not know. My sister actually has canvases and acrylic just waiting for us to play with, but we never have. I think the suggestion was a good one, and I am going to try my hand at it. I have not painted on canvas since, oh, I don't know...high school? I feel confident, though. My artistic ability is occasionally expressed with my home decor projects, namely a wide variety of faux finishing techinques that, thankfully, always come out with great results, even though I wing something different every time. I think I need to move to the next step and just start producing works of "art". I'll let ya know how it goes.

Up until now, my only artistic outlet has been the occasional trip the the ceramics store to make some worthless holiday foo. I went to a new place last time and when it was all said and done, I ended up spending, like, $55 bucks for something that would have cost me $20 already painted in the store. I had to make 3 or 4 visits to finish it as it was quite detailed. Then they globbed WAY too much glaze on it & more or less ruined it. Won't be back there any time soon. Time to move on to big girl art. Maybe I can go to my sister's to paint next week. Brushes ready!

Hola Amigos! (memories from last year's trip)

Back from paradise! Boy, there sure is a lot of mexican food in.....Mexico. We actually sought out a Pizza Hut on the last day. Fresh guacamole is GREAT...for the first 4 days!

Cozumel is a big party town. Cruise ships were docking right by our place, so there were floods of oldsters & Spring Breakers alike coming in daily. If you're looking for the flavor of Old Mexico, skip Cozumel, as it is one giant tourist trap. You can't walk 2 feet without getting hassled to buy something. Even the restaurants are trying to pull you in!

That said, the weather was phenomenal, the ocean a stunning azure & the diving was pretty good. We dove 7 times while we were there, with some of the highlights including a very cool cave-like swim-thru, GIANT warm water lobsters, a couple hawks-billed sea turtles, an ENORMOUS green moray eel ( 7 ft. long?), a nurse shark & very pretty, bright fish.

The diving highlight was when we decided to put anxiety aside & do a night-time dive. Everyone (there were 6 of us total) has a very powerful light & my husband & I each had a small flashing light attached to the backs of our tanks, so we could easily spot each other. Once under the water, the anxiety slipped away & it turned out to be a very calm, peaceful experience. There are nocturnal creatures you will never see during the day. We saw 3 octopus, some white sea snakes, a tiny sting ray (all of which we kind of hassled...) a cuttlefish & a GIANT pufferfish that the dive master managed to get a hold of & piss off, so it puffed up REALLY big....some jelly fish (one of which I accidentally put my hand into....not poison, though...whew!) more lobsters, some really evil-looking horseshoe-crab looking things,& a big spotted eel. There are also these big, fleshy looking squishy appendages that stick out from underneath rocks. They are aptly named "tiger-tails", but they are actually a giant, ancient type of blind worm also known as a hag fish. After a bit, we all settled on the bottom & turned our lights off. There are plankton in the water that glow green. Very neat.

The only bad thing that happened on our trip is that we are pretty sure we lost our camera, so no pictures of our trip. :(

The baby missed us & we're glad to be home.....back to the grind.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

God's Country?

Well, what can I say about Western Kansas? For starters, it's really flat. But I guess we knew that already. You can see a storm 100 miles away. I spent 3 days touring four small towns somewhere between Colorado & Oklahoma. They call it God's Country because only God knows why you'd want to be there. I wish I could tell you that I didn't drive by the "Barb Wire Museum" or the "Sod Museum"....but I'd be lying. I did, however, tour the Dodge City "Boot Hill" Museum during some downtime from work. In a nut shell, the original Dodge City was a cess pool filled with drunks, outlaws & hookers. Wyatt Earp was a "shoot first and ask questions later" kinda lawman. Probably a necessity.

Here's how these small towns were originally founded...one of the tired, dusty starving settlers that had spent weeks & months trudging though the nothingness finally said "Screw it...we're just going to stop here" Voila! Ulysses Kansas. I saw some real prairie dogs in their little prairie dog tunnel town. I wanted to go in for a closer look, but you never know if the Kansas PD's have been hobnobbing with the Monkey Pox PD's. Better safe than sorry.

Western Kansas Factoids:

-Dodge City slaughters 6000 cattle A DAY

-Dodge City is 60% Mexican. I didn't see that one coming! The main strip looks makes you feel like you're on the Boulevard. Taqueria anyone? (Migrant workers for the slaughter houses)

-Every part of a cow is used (Mmmm, hotdogs) except the blood, which they burn.

-There are slaughter houses in EVERY Western KS town with a population over 3500

-The entire corner of the state smells like cow crap. I'm not kidding.

-Being near an actual cattle pen is like being beaten up & left for dead by stink. *gag*

-You can drive for 50 miles on a strip of asphalt & not see a single sign of life; no houses, no animals, no other cars. Very post-apocalyptic. Creepy.

-Slaughter house bonus: each worker gets one cow a year. (I don't know if the cow being dead is a requirement).

-People from all over the country, nay, the WORLD come to Dodge City....ON PURPOSE! There were Brits staying at my B&B for God's sake!

Today as I was standing at the door of the Dodge City "airport" waiting for my "plane", I just couldn't resist. As soon as they announced that it was time to go, I actually got to say "I am ready to get the hell out of Dodge!" LITERALLY!

Run, Dorothy, run.

Monday, March 15, 2004

A curse or a blessing?

Well, another Monday comes...and goes. Heavy rain makes me want to spend the morning cleaning mud from underneath all the dog's toenails, and curling up with them all day inside. Heavy napping going on. Rain always makes for an "office day", so I can kick back with the "kids" with only a little guilt.

So many projects around the house and yet I find myself not doing a single one of them! I can, at least, catch up on my reading. There ya go! I guess I didn't do "nothing" after all!

My goal this week is to begin to investigate Palm Pilots. I have severe organizational deficiencies and have vowed to take steps to get my act together. It's no fun going around all the time wondering if you're supposed to be someplace else. And of course ACTUALLY missing appointments has a whole new twist. My sister uses one and makes it look easy. We'll see. If I buy one and don't lose it in the first week, that will be a triumph all in it's own!

I'm excited about the prospect of being able to put my entire life's information into one "easy-to-use" instrument that I can carry around.

Well, since I am typing this during one of my company's infamous and unneccesary conference calls, perhaps I'll get back to it.

Next time: Palm Pilots....a curse or a blessing?

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