Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't get a Garmin!

Before we left home, I kept telling Tom that we should buy a gps since we don't know where things are in California. He didn't, but when he picked us up at the airport two weeks ago, he'd rented one from Avis.

We rented a Prius, which averaged 46 mpg on a trip that included the Yosemite Valley and mountains and lots of climbing hills and mountains on our travels. Loved it.

But the Garmin--it has to be the cheapest model available. Alamo charges $10 a day for it, so in a month's time, they've paid for the thing and can still rent it to other unsuspecting gullible easily lost travelers and make a mint. So, anyway, it's a piece of shit crap and shouldn't be allowed to clutter a car.

The first day we tried to find a Target or WalMart, and it couldn't find one. In all of San Diego. It managed to lead us almost to Costco, but it told us to turn left after we'd gone through the intersection, so we had to find our own way. We asked for a KMart; it took us to Sears and triumphantly announced "arrive at destination".

That night, we tried again. We wanted seafood, chose a restaurant it listed, and drove and drove till it told us that we were arriving at destination on right. Uh, no. Empty lot. Tried again. Another empty lot. Third time didn't work either, so we turned it off and ended up at Denny's. Not my restaurant of choice, especially on vacation.

Next night, it happened again. We gave up after it circled us around SD for an hour and took us back to our hotel. Which did not have a restaurant.

It did lead us directly to Disneyland, though, and to our motel nearby. One of two triumphs for Garmin (the other was the Cheesecake Factory today, although I have to add that it took us to the mall, not to the actual restaurant).

Other than that, it took us far out of our way every time we used it (we stupidly naively kept giving it a try) and wasted hours of our time. It quickly got to the point that, when Tom said "ask the Ga--" I'd unplug it and stick it in the glove box.

So, when we turned the car in a few hours ago, Tom told the clerk at Alamo about our trials, and the dear man refunded the entire amount of the Garmin rental.

And they lived happily ever after. The end.

On the road again

Or rather, waiting to fly again. We got to the airport early; our flight will probably begin to board in about an hour.

Awwww, a longhaired mini dachsund just ran by. He looks so happy to be out of his crate.

We spent the day running around San Diego, walking through the cactus garden near the museums, went through the Natural History Museum, Old Town, and ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (I think I've regained the pounds I lost) and dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

Time to go home!

Last night in California

We've had such a wonderful time, but it's definitely time to go home. To take my little girl home (to a new home, at that; they've moved while we've been away!), to earn more money to pay for all we've spent, and to sleep. Ahhhh, to sleep! I'll have maybe two unencumbered days before I have to go back to work, so I'll have to sleep fast.

And there's so much to look forward to: a trip to visit my parents and sisters, then on to a Neil Diamond concert with my sisters, and then my new job, although I'm not anxious for that to start. Summer just got going well, and it's over for those of us who have to work in schools.

Oh well, it's certainly time to go home, no matter what! For a little girl who's never been away from mommy and daddy for more than one day, it's been a long two weeks, but she's never gotten homesick. Thank God for cell phones!

Elisa and Deedee, it was such a pleasure to meet you two. I'll write more when I have time; it's almost midnight and I have to go to bed.

Like I said earlier, jet lag is going to be a bitch, but with luck I'll get over it before school starts up again. A's lucky; she usually starts school two weeks before I do, but now that she's being homeschooled, that's no longer a problem.

And we're going home to new hardwood floors in the living room and hall. What a treat! The carpet was pristine till I moved an elderly Lhasa-terrier mix in, and in her final months, she pretty much destroyed the lovely berber. I'm so looking forward to new floors!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A meets the Pacific Ocean

It's a little colder than the 90 degree Gulf Coast of Florida beaches that she's used to. But I think she had fun.

The greatest ride on earth

California Screamin' at Disneyland's California Adventure. We rode it twice, and if we'd had the chance, we'd have ridden it more.


this old laptop will no longer be at my disposal. Sad, but-----

I have a new job!

I am now the copy secretary for my high school. I've been a Special Ed teacher assistant for 26 years, a job I've loved (some of the time, especially the last 4 or 5) and hated (a good bit of the time). It's fairly low paying, but I get good benefits and a retirement pension. A tiny one, but still. But after working for 26 years, I'm making more than I ever thought I would, considering that I didn't finish college and didn't work until my kids were both in school.

The secretary pay scale is higher and has more steps (I'm hoping that I'll go in the middle of the steps, as that will pay me what I earned as an assistant; actually, I'm hoping that I'll go in higher than that, but either way, there will be many more steps; as an assistant, I'm on the next to last step), and I won't have to deal with the constant changes that the government throws at Special Ed, or the constant paperwork, or the "oh my God this has to be done right NOW and figure out how to do it" that my previous job entailed.

The downside is that I won't be working (or rather, sharing an office, talking, joking, laughing, having fun, and being treated with real respect) with Mary, my boss for the last 7 or 8 years. She's wonderful, compassionate, understanding, and lots of fun. She's the one who's made sure that I had my own laptop for the last 6 years (two of them; she makes sure we have what we need, so every three years, we got new ones) and could take it anywhere I wanted to take it, even when the tech department bitched that I shouldn't remove it from the school. Hellooooo, laptop, moveable, work from any location??? There have been so many times when I took a day off or was sick and Mary needed a file I had. She's fed me, bought me gifts, and been a real friend, listening when needed and I've done the same for her. I feel so comfortable with her.

I think I'll love the new job; it'll be hectic at times, but I'll know what I'm doing day after day after day into eternity, and I need that at this point in my life. My mind is just plain shot. I can't remember anything, and Special Ed requires so much attention to detail. I just don't feel capable of that any more.

Since the new copiers do pretty much all of the work, all I have to do is learn how to tell them what I want from them. Maybe this will work out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I paid my $3

so I've been online for almost 6 hours. I think I'll just leave the computer on all night. So there, cheap-ass motel owners.

Eric and Peter

The show is great! What fun to be in California and hear a show from Alaska.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Online concert tonight

Well. Pay $100 for a room in a less-than-$100-per-room-quality motel, and you still have to pay $3 a day to use the internet. Color me pissed.

I stewed about it, but in the end I gave in. I had to check my email and stuff. I'm glad I did, because there's an email from Eric Brace (of Last Train Home) that he and Peter Cooper are live on Whole Wheat Radio (if you miss it, it'll be available as a podcast tomorrow) tonight at 11 EDT, which means 8 PDT our time (the jet lag, once I get home, will be a bitch). As I noted before, we missed last Friday's show at home, so this will help to make that up a bit.

Poor A is going to be so bored tonight.

Photo lifted from Whole Wheat Radio's website. Oh God, Peter, does this mean you cut that gorgeous hair???

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Buzz Lightyear Space Rangers

Yeah. She routinely beats me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How pathetic am I?

that while I was enjoying Disneyland's two parks with A, I was thinking that I was missing Last Train Home in Virginia, in the very town where I work??? They came to Harrisonburg to Clementine for the second time, and here we were 3000 miles away.


But I still enjoyed Disneyland.

About stalking Don Henley

From my sister Joan, who stalked with me:

Hey, I'm the sister who was with you, and WE DIDN'T STALK! We waited patiently (and frozenly) until he left the venue and got onto his bus. He was kind and generous with his time and autographs, and even followed the law (from what he said) and would not sign my dollar bills, because "it's a federal offense!" I still don't think you scared him. True, he didn't feel well, and he's not as tall as we are and didn't have on a big fluffy jacket like you did, but he was on his nice warm bus and didn't need one. And he stayed seated while we stood there (one of us on the bus at a time, I might add, which was truly a cool thing (okay, a security thing for him, cool for us), so no, you didn't scare him. Unless you saw fear in his eyes or he jumped up and ran to the back of the bus or he screamed and you never told me. Is that what happened? You can tell me.

Yes, there was fear in his eyes, or was it just exhaustion? And that nice, fluffy jacket was just plain old puffy, and it smelled like my poor old doggie Murphy who smelled like Fritos because of her skin condition. So, yeah, we sort of stalked him.

And yes, it was cool.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Near Yosemite

Hey, all! Today we spent about 4 hours driving through Yosemite Park and another two hours driving out of it. I swear, there's no way out.

We saw two mule deer, a male first, then a female. They weren't terribly happy that I dove out of the car to take photos, but they didn't try to kill me, either.

Tonight we're meeting Elise from Concateknit and I can hardly wait! A is looking forward to playing with her puppers, Zorro and Allie. There will be photo ops.

Tomorrow on to gold panning and meeting Deedee and her granddaughter, who is a year younger than A. More photo ops!

I am so tired. But it's a good tired.

**UPDATE** Yes, I messed up the links, or rather, blogger did. It always does that and I try to remember to check them. But I think they're okay now.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I stalked Don Henley

I did. With my sister.

But that was about 7 years ago, I think, and old news.

Just wanted to pass that on.

Hello from sunny California!

Let me tell you, Airtran's $99 business-class upgrade is worth every penny when you're traveling cross-country with an 8-year-old.

Not only did we get a lot of snacks and unlimited drinks, excellent service, and lots of leg room, we could enjoy ourselves. It was so nice to be able to reach out and not touch someone. I've never traveled anything but coach, so I didn't know that long flights could be comfortable and enjoyable. It wasn't a nonstop flight, but it was direct and we didn't have to get off the plane in Atlanta and run to another gate, usually all the way across the airport.

And my ankles didn't swell.

A and I took hundreds of photos today at the San Diego Zoo. She, Tom, and I spent 12 hours there today, from opening to closing. It was fun and exhausting-but-in-a-good-way.

The weather is so gorgeous, low 80s, low humidity, clear blue skies.

Excuse me now; I need to fall into bed. Tomorrow will be another big day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flash your stash

Brooke, of Brooke Knits, posted a challenge I couldn't resist, even though it means that it'll call attention to the size of my stash, something that is best left to the imagination.

Since I was leaving on vacation a few hours after I read her post, I didn't take photos of the rest of it, but trust me, there's more.

(Please ignore the condition of the carpet. We're having it replaced next week. That's why this much of my stash was in the living room instead of hiding where its size isn't so apparent; Tom moved things out of the guest room to make room for the stuff we had to move out of the living room......)

There's another blue tub of yarn for Yorkie knits; there's a plastic zip bag that sheets came in stuffed full of Claudia yarn; another huge plastic zip bag that the comforter came in stuffed with Claudia yarn; and there are a couple more blue tubs in the garage (at most, 3 more. Or maybe 4.)

Oh, and there's a plastic bag on a desk with some assorted yarns in it, along with a pile of eyelash yarns on the desk, and yes, that's a tub that cat litter came in that I keep my non-fuzzy novelty yarns in. And there's another one with fuzzies.

I have no doubts that this stash will outlive me. And it will grow. Oh yes, it will grow.

Beach photos

Fins to the left

Really. Look at this photo I took about an hour and a half ago.

I'll wait.

*elevator music plays*

It may be hard to see; I certainly didn't notice it when I took the photo. Just under the setting sun, a tiny bit to the left, there is a fin. I had to enlarge it to make sure of it, but it is.

I'm at St. Petersburg Beach (Florida) with my daughter and her family. We're staying in a hotel on the beach, so the kids and I went out after dinner to spend a few minutes frolicking. I've never been able to take a decent sunset photo, so I tried again.

I'm pretty happy with it.

I'm pretty sure that's a dolphin out there. I didn't hear any screams or see blood spreading over the surface of the water.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Good news, bad news

The bad news is that my daughter and her kids and husband all have bronchitis, although poor J has it the worst. They're all on antibiotics and inhalers, so I hope they'll be well soon.

The good news is that J saw her breast surgeon this morning (she only had to wait 6 stinking weeks for the appointment, then 1.5 hours this morning) and the doctor said that the mass is definitely cysts, not cancer, and she doesn't like to perform surgery on healthy breast tissue. She recommended an herbal supplement and said to come back in four months if it hasn't gone away.

Very good news. The best.

Orlando is hot, as usual, and it feels great. A/c also feels great. I love the Florida sunshine. I wish it could be transported to WV.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Yeah, I'm pretty sure she fired me.

I love Claudia (she of the Hand Painted Yarns fame).

She even fired me with class. It took me a while to realize it had happened.

Wow. I got fired.

It was my fault. When she hired me a year ago, it was with the understanding that I'd work full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year, just to keep in touch with what's going on there. Since I don't want to work full-time this summer, she let me go. I understand that.

She was very understanding about it, about wanting to vacation, visit family, have time at home when I don't have to work. She asked me if I'd be happier test-knitting for her, coming in any time to sit and knit, have a cup of tea and talk, doing things at my speed. I agreed whole-heartedly. She's got a good bunch working for her now, and they really don't need someone coming in at odd hours a couple of times a week.

And I'm okay with that.

It's a bear

*aside* Why is blogger being such a colossal pain tonight??? I have so much to say and so little time to avoid packing!


Somewhere in this dark, dark yard, there is a bear. A good-sized bear. He was on our porch snarfing down cat food. Again. Yeah, a bear. On our porch. For the third time.

On our freaking front porch. Just a couple of feet from where we sleep.

This is why we keep the doors shut at night even when it's eleventy-four degrees and the humidity is stifling.

If you click on the photo and look at the large image, see if you can find the darker spot between the two trees on the right, at the top of the grass. That is the bear. You'll have to take my word for it.

Last Train Home

While I'm avoiding packing, I'm going to show all y'all some photos of the Last Train Home show at Ashland Coffee and Tea back on June 21.

We also saw them in Roanoke the night before; I think I've already mentioned that. Maybe too many times. 202 is a fantastic restaurant in the Market area; the food was so pretty that I wanted to photograph it, but it's such an upscale-type place that I was too chicken to do so. Believe me, that's saying a lot. I'll photograph anything anywhere.

Fayssoux McLean opened for them. She's a very sweet lady who taught school until this June, when she retired after the release of her first album, Early. She's got a beautiful voice and has such a genuine presence on stage. She's still trying to take in that she has released a real live cd.

This isn't a good photo, but it's what I've got.

"Throw my ticket out the window......." They opened with one of my favorite LTH songs, Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You by Bob Dylan.

I wish I could remember the story that Tom Mason was telling. He's a sometimes-member of the band, and he's damn good. And fun.

While I'm waiting for the photo to upload, may I interject that I just saw another creepy big plastic head Burger King commercial? With a little Burger King? Please, just stop it, Burger King! Every time I think it's safe to go back (love their burgers, although I'm trying to stop eating burgers, so nevermind) to that damned place, another one of those creepy freaky commercials comes out. Good God.

I hate that damned creepy king.

Back to Last Train Home.

The cute kid playing steel guitar that weekend is Alex McCullough. I thought he was about 18; he's 33. He's the same age as my son.

And a good time was had by all.

By the way, LTH will be in Harrisonburg at Clementine on July 18, while WE are in California. Geez. Go if you're in the area; the cover charge is only $5, and they're worth far more than that. And the food at Clementine is some of the best you'll ever have.

The packing

Oh, the packing. I hate packing. I really hate trying to squish three weeks' worth of stuff into one little carryon with one personal item.

In order to get the laptop in, I'm going to have to take out some clothes. Not taking the laptop is not an option. Not. An. Option. I need it, like I need my knitting (and enough to keep me busy for 3 weeks) (and extra). I'm taking a giant leap of faith by leaving my Denise needles at home. Except the two that are in my current project, Tropical Tee. What if I finish that and don't have anything else to work on? Oh, yeah. I left some sock yarn at my daughter's house, so I can pick that up. I'll take out a bunch of books I'm taking to the kids, so that'll even out.

It's rained for four days, so the three tops that I'm trying to air-dry aren't air-drying. I guess they'll have to go in separate plastic bags so they don't mess up the other clothes in the suitcase. (Suitcase? It wouldn't hold a suit.)

Should I take out a bathing suit? I have two in there. But that would mean I'd have to try one on, and it's too humid to try to wrestle that thing over my hips.

I'm only *cringe* taking the sandals I'll wear and a pair of rougher shoes for the gold panning. Gotta have rougher shoes for that.

I haven't even put in a jacket yet. San Francisco was very cold when we were there 4 years ago (in June; that wind is wicked there) and we were wishing we'd taken jackets. It can get chilly at night in some parts of California (quit laughing, Californians. I hear it's been hot there this summer, what with all the fires and things, but I have to pack for every eventuality).

Books? I have the one I'm reading and one other. Never work. Two more should come in the mail next week; if they do, Tom can bring them with him.

I gave myself a hit-and-miss pedicure today; that should hold till I get back. I found this cool pen called Little White Lies that has white polish in it; it won't hold up to close scrutiny, but no one's going that close to my toes.

Taking medicines with me is a nightmare. I have to make sure I have enough for more than three weeks; I don't want to run out of xanax. I'm sure I'll need that. (How many times did Tom tell me to take one this weekend?)

I took everything out of my purse and scattered around my tote bag, my camera bag, and my knitting bag. I'll never find anything again. Now I have to gather the gels and liquids and put them in a quart-sized ziplock bag, if I can find one. Fortunately I bought philosophy bath and body products last time I was in Orlando and left them at J's house. When we get to California, one of the first things we'll have to do is stop somewhere and buy bath and body stuff to last while we're out there; I can't carry enough 3-ounce bottles to last two weeks! I need my Amazing Grace body-firming lotion! Crap, I can't buy that and then throw it away in an airport.

I've got to quit this rambling and get back to packing. I hate packing. Did I mention that?

I wuz tagged

By my dear friend, Deedee, I was tagged for this meme. I'm not going to tag anyone because I've got to hurry and finish packing/getting things ready (meaning my yarn and needles) to leave in the morning. Three weeks. I won't be home till the end of July.

The Rules: "The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs, leaving them a comment about being tagged, inviting them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answers."

What was I doing ten years ago? Can I even remember that far back? Maybe moving from one townhouse to another? I hate moving. No grandkids yet, not even thinking of any. I didn't know I wanted them till my daughter told me she was pregnant, which was 9 years ago in May. I don't think I'd started knitting yet. I read a lot and dealt with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, had 3 dogs (all of whom are gone today) who kept me going throughout my illness. Without them, I don't think I'd have gotten out of bed most days. I certainly didn't think I'd be married now!

What are five things on my to-do list for today? 1) finish packing for 3 weeks of vacation. One carryon, honest. With a tote bag for my book, camera, and several easy knitting projects. Almost finished with this one. Except the tote. That requires more thought.
2) Update my blog. 3) Take photos off this laptop and put onto backup drive. 4) Talk to my daughter when she's seen her breast surgeon. (turns out the appointment is on Wednesday.) 5) Download photos from camera. Oh well.

What are some snacks I enjoy? buttered popcorn, potato chips, m&ms, just about anything that's not good for me. I allow myself 15 m&ms each evening, don't eat potato chips, and can only have buttered popcorn on weekends. And today I tried on some pants that didn't fit me a month ago, and they fit!!! I haven't weighed in two weeks, but something must be working.

Oh, and wine. Red wine with anything.

What would I do if I was to become a billionaire? All of my family and Tom's would have everything they needed for the rest of their lives; I'd contribute a lot of it to animal rescues; travel travel travel; retire in Florida and California and maybe France and Germany for a while; give money to fight neuroblastoma (just a few million would really get it going well); fly anywhere we wanted on a moment's notice and not worry about how much it costs; never live in a cold place again. Ever. And I'd buy the books I loved as a child, and not worry that one of them costs $450.

And I'd pay Last Train Home to play at our house four times a year. What the heck, six times. And to fly up Steve Wedemeyer to play with them each time, along with Tom Mason, and both of the steel guitar players, and anyone else they wanted to bring with them.

Where are the places I have lived? Virginia and West Virginia.

What are the jobs I have had? Mommy, teaching assistant for 26 years, which I hope will turn into school secretary in August (and it looks good!!!), yarn technician. But I think I got fired from that one two weeks ago.

So! Back to laundry!


So much for that contest.

I have lots of photos to share and too many things to write about. Tomorrow I leave for Orlando and then California; for the next three weeks I'll be traveling. I'll try to write more today, but I don't know if I'll have time.

I finally found a boarding place for Zippy while my sister's on vacation; of course, I put if off to the last minute but got a place for him at my first choice. I hate to leave him in a cage like that, but this is a reputable place and I know a teacher who worked there for many years, so I feel confident that he'll be well cared for. Betty will keep him during the time that she's not away; this year our vacations crossed. I sometimes stay at her house to pet sit, and she takes in Zippy any time he needs a place to crash.

Speaking of which, I need to find a photo of her sweet doggie, Kipper. He went to the Rainbow Bridge two weeks ago. He was quite a dog. He and Zippy got along very well. Once Zippy figured out that Kipper wasn't going to romp with him, they coexisted and even shared their food. Betty cooked chicken and rice for Kip for many months, and Zippy loooooved the homemade food.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My desert island cd and a contest

I need to post photos and thoughts about the Last Train Home shows in Roanoke and Ashland two weeks ago, before I totally forget about it. New guys in the band for those shows, cool restaurant in Roanoke, lots of driving.

Remind me if I forget, okay? I want to have a contest of some kind to give away LTH's newest cd, Live at the IOTA, but I don't know what kind of contest. Okay, how about whoever comes up with the best idea for the contest--by Saturday night, July 5, midnight, gets the DVD Live at the IOTA? Then later I'll have the contest for the cd. I'm leaving for Florida on Tuesday morning, so I'll be doing well to pick the winner for the DVD on Sunday.

This cd is my desert island cd. For years I've tried to pick just one cd I'd want with me on a deserted island (like there'd be electricity for a stereo; maybe there'd be some kind of mp3 player that's solar-powered), but I never could come up with just one. This is it. I can listen to it over and over and over, and I will. Over and over and over.

Lazy days

Wow, I have been lazy, huh? Summer--what can I say? I'm enjoying my no-working days to the hilt, staying up late, sleeping late, enjoying the gorgeous weather.

There's so much I want to talk about before I actually go on vacation; maybe this weekend?

Love you guys!