Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tinks I Don't Want To Hear

That's not really a typo. Read on.

There are several things I don't want to hear lately:

  • How many great parts Mickey Rourke turned down. He made bad career choices and should get over it.

  • Second graders. Period. I think I just complained about them in the last post!

  • Birmingham England is abolishing apostrophes from its street signs. What's wrong with correct punctuation? Have you read No Country for Old Men? Total lack of apostrophes. It drove me crazy.

  • The noises my bedroom heater is making all of a sudden. The handy husband said it was natural. Never mind that it never disturbed me before our vacation, but after we were home? Tink Tink Tink heating up. Then TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK TINK while cooling down. He's had it apart two or three times since I started complaining. I hope there really is a problem because I'm going to go psycho if the noise doesn't stop.

Maybe it's all those lost and lonely apostrophes trying to get out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Notes on the News

Family receives 445 credit card offers in one year.
I wish I'd counted ours. It wasn't quite that many. Frank's started to receive quite a few....mostly based on a frequent flyer account in his name. Don't they realize he has no (or a very small) income? Ernest also has a frequent flyer account -- where are his offers? Just wondering.

No link for this, but are your credit card companies reducing your limits?
Not here yet. I called one company to ask for an interest rate reduction...they grudgingly gave me a tiny reduction but were exceedingly quick to offer a credit limit increase. All my other credit cards have sent letters with checks for balance transfers, to make me charge more. So my experience is not normal, according to the news.

Are you doing your own taxes or hiring an accountant?
Let's see: massive stress and anxiety on my part, vs. writing a reasonably sized check to our accountant who takes care of the whole thing? We also have the rental of my mother's house, which requires weird depreciations that I am not willing to comprehend. And our accountant? I've know him since first grade. So yeah, we will keep the accountant. Forever.

Does your job challenge you enough?
Pshaw. (Used to indicate impatience, irritation, disapproval, or disbelief.) You know how impossible your own children can be? Imagine that times, whatever? 16? 32? 100? I had to stop a foursquare game today because the participants were too... Crazy? Unsportsmanlike? Mean? And this was only foursquare. ...This is why they've had no soccer for most of January.

Does Guitar Hero World Tour challenge you?
Ernest's been playing Rondo alla Turca on the piano for like, forever, but now there's a guitar version. "That Rondo was really REALLY hard, " he said, "in case you're writing about it." Yes, I am. "Blog THAT, mom." (Not quite stealing Cheri's title.)

Super Bowl:
Bruce? at halftime? I'll watch him.

Ernest and I are slightly past midway through a Lost marathon. He politely requested that I do not watch the 8:15 recap. (So I'm only linking, not embedding.)

I don't know how long I can keep that promise. Many of you may know that I like to read the ending of books before I finish them (I like to know where I am going). This is an ongoing battle between Ernest and me. I promised him I would not peek at the end of Harry Potter (AND I DIDN'T) but he didn't finish the book, either.

Will we have an issue over me watching the new season of Lost? I've lost a couple weeks already. I'm going to put my leopard-clad foot down next week and say YES, I'm watching, and he can just leave the room. Because we've had 4 years to watch the rest of it prior seasons and we DIDN'T and I want to watch it now. So there. Methinks I will finally prioritize my obsessions before the child's. Which leads me to...

The joys of not having a toddler.
Yes. You, the parent. Your wishes can occasionally come first for a change.

Mwa ha ha. If I could get that into a bigger font, I would.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dublin Nights

The Temple Bar, in Temple Bar.

Sip. That's what you do.

Yes, we hit a few pubs. I fear the HH's co-worker (from their Oxford sales office) thought we were a little dull because one or two pubs per night was our limit. With a pub on every corner, the choices were many.

Yes, there was lots of Guiness. Here's how to pull a perfect pint.

Pints in various stages of their 119.5 second wait...

At the Ginger Man, across the other side of our hotel, we discovered another delicious beer, Beamish Red.

We were sucked into the TV in the evening. On the slowest channel-flipping TV ever, we watched Irish TV and the BBC. The HH got to see hour-long versions of Top Gear, the coolest car show. And I got sucked into some goshawful channel called True Movies, which showed its best flicks on the weekends. Kinky Boots, anyone? The night before we left they were going to show something with a totally young and hawt Sean Bean but I couldn't stay up late enough for that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

18 Problems

David has a profound post (as always) about life's problems. Which puts my own minor complaints into perspective.

But I have no perspective on this: Eleven other jurors and I were faced with 18 problems this week. Not our own insignificant problems like juggling our schedules for the jury duty, but eighteen counts of rape, attempted rape, lewd and lascivious acts, and corporal punishment. Three minor victims, all of whom testified.

It's over. Guilty on all counts. I don't want to go there anymore.

I need to hear something good now. Please, tell me something good that happened to you this week.

UPDATE: Something that happened to you personally. Not the inauguration, because that good thing happened for all of us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Coffee coffee coffee?

I recently a week ago (but I am slow in finishing this post) read a news report:

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Middle-aged people who drink moderate amounts of coffee significantly reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a study by Finnish and Swedish researchers showed Thursday.

I don't know any Finnish or Swedish coffee drinkers, but I was raised by a bunch of Norwegiean coffee drinkers. Close enough?

I grew up in a family of Norwegian women. Coffee was vitally important to them, not just the two cups of morning coffee which I live for, but also afternoon coffee, which never interested me, and the after-dinner coffee, which would keep me awake forever.

I did drink coffee at an early age, albeit diluted by a lot of milk in my early double-digits. In my later teens I asserted my individuality by asking coffee. Oh, that shocked them almost as much as when I got me a boyfriend.

So...a recap of the Norwegian coffee drinkers I knew:

Eldest aunt: died at 96, no Alzheimer's. She was physically incapacitated due to arthritis, but hung in there until her husband passed away. After that...all she wanted was to join him in heaven.

Middle aunt: died at 92, had dementia but not from Alzheimer's. It was from Normal pressure hydrocephalus: "If normal pressure hydrocephalus is diagnosed early, the internal fluid pressure may be lowerable by putting in a shunt. This can stop the dementia, the gait problems, and the incontinence from getting worse." (All those links are from where I copied that from.) She chose not to have a shunt... (This is the birdwatching Aunt with All the A names.)

My mother, the youngest sister: died at 85. She had other physical problems, but she had her wits about her up until the end. Dammit, though, she should have had a few more years. She was the premature child of a tuburcular mother. Yes, lung problems did her in.

Well, that's my maternal family story of coffee vs. Alzheimer's. A moderate amount of anything won't hurt you. Who knows if it helps.

P.S. Paternal comments from my "Far" are welcome. I know you drink some coffee. But you keep your mental saw sharp in many other ways, by always reading, learning and doing new things. My father is quite amazing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Civic Duty

I know at least 84 people who did not get to watch the inauguration, because we appeared for jury duty today.

And yes, I am now on the jury. Doing my civic duty.

I guess I'll catch up on the festivities over the weekend. See you later.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dublin Days

Since the actual purpose of traveling to Dublin was my husband's business trip, he had to work for three days. Poor guy. So after a hearty Irish Breakfast, he set off to University College Dublin.

Meanwhile, I saw the sights,

either walking or hopping on and off the green bus. I must say, my favorite driver was Eamon, because of his twisted sense of humor.

Inside St. Patrick's

Dublin Castle, St. Patrick's Cathedral , Christ Church Cathedral, Dublinia (a visit to medieval Dublin), Kilmainham Gaol -- here's an old U2 video filmed there:

National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts and History I loved this place. I spent hours here. Coins, silver, furniture, scientific instruments, clothing, and even military history! And a room full of stuff, like the worlds greatest antique mall.

Irish Museum of Modern Art. I tried to go here, I really did. But they were unexpectedly closed due to NO HEAT and had no idea when they would reopen. So I went to...

Dublin Zoo. There was some discussion the night before over whether I would see any animals or if they would all be cowering from the cold inside their caves. Although there were only 20 visitors and I felt like I was in a zombie movie, the animals were present and lively. The more tropical animals had glass windows into their enclosures.
The rhinos were active. This bird was walking across the frozen lake. Yes it was cold!

The bus loop went past the Clarence Hotel, owned by Bono and the Edge. So I'll leave you with another video.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Bus to Guinness

A reasurrance to readers of the previous post: there's nothing yucky in THIS one!

Sunday was rainy, so we decided to take the hop-on-hop-off green bus tour around Dublin.

We rode one whole loop around town, and then decided to get off at...where else? The Guinness Storehouse. Now, they don't actually make it there anymore, but since Guinness has a 9,000 year lease (seriously! it's true!) on the property, they wisely made a tourist attraction of it.

We worked our way through the high tech exhibits of how they make the stuff, and made our way to the 7th floor Gravity Bar. A pint is included with the price of your ticket. Mmmmm, good.

And the view was good, too.

Here's a view of the bar from the other side of the River Liffey, which I took a few days later.

And isn't it funny how everything leads to the gift shop?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Walking in Dublin

We arrived in Dublin on Saturday morning. A friendly taxi driver pointed out the sights on the way to our hotel. Our hotel room seemed huge for a European hotel

After we dropped off our luggage, we headed out armed with a map. I am the official map reader and navigator. We walked around Grafton Street (a pededestrian shopping street), St. Stephen's Green, and went to the National Museum - Archeology. That was very interesting. They had bog bodies. Real bodies that were discovered preserved in peat bogs. After dinner at Hugo's, a cozy wine bar, we walked back through Grafton Street. The Christmas lights were still on, giving it a fairyland appearance.

This interesting shop was on the way back to the hotel. Sorry folks, the knobs and knockers it refers to are the ones that go on your front door.

That's me in the yellow jacket. Here's a sartorial tip for you: Do not wear your bright yellow Costco ski parka in Dublin. You will be the only one in yellow. Everone else will be wearing black or other dark colors. (I was so tempted to buy a black wool coat, but would I ever wear it at home? Nope. Because it was 80 degrees here yesterday.)

This pub was across from our hotel. Note the puddle of vomit on the sidewalk? I unknowingly stepped in it. Someone did a bit too much pub-hopping that night (not us!).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Hearty Breakfast

There are so many things from our trip that I want to share. But since it's morning, I think I'll start with breakfast.

The "Full Irish Breakfast" is an amazing and large plate of food. Our hotel, the O'Callaghan Davenport, offered a buffet. Clockwise from the left: beans, tomatoes, sausage, Irish bacon, mushrooms, sunnyside up eggs. I had already eaten the white and black puddings.

The eggs were small, with brightly colored yolks and were very tasty. The bacon was meaty, not fatty. Plus a whole tray of toast (the brown bread was delicious). Who could eat that much? We couldn't, not every day. One morning I just had porridge (granted, I had the stomach trouble the night before so porridge was a good thing).

We had a "vegetarian" version at the airport on our way home (no meat, but lots more veggies and potatoes too)...and as they dished up my plate, I turned to the Handy Husband and pleaded, "can't you share this with me? I can't eat all this." He did. He seemed to be satisfied with his larger half.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Delurking Day

So come on, leave me a comment! Pretty Please?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

We're Back!

Except for the plumbing problem 5 minutes before we left the house, the flight delays getting to San Francisco, and the food poisoning (beware of elderly tartar sauce), we had a fabulous time!

Dubin was fabulous. I've got tons of pictures and stories.

And best of all?


Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Pantry Light

When we moved into this house over 20 years ago, the bathrooms and pantry were covered with bright floral 60's wallpaper. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But in a small room like a pantry, it was dizzying. (I'll have to show you the bathrooms sometime.)

No wonder it was the first room the Handy Husband remodeled. He build bigger, nicer cupboards (a lot more of them) and lots of shelves. On a budget, he got some cheap florescent lights and made his own fixture. That was great, except the plastic cover kept falling out. And over many years the lights stopped working (not the tubes but we kept having to buy little thingies to go at the ends of the tubes. Don't ask me, I'm not the techie type.) Two days after I took this picture, the last light died.

So here's the Home Depot fixture he bought a couple weeks ago. It turns on really quickly -- we like that. But now we have to repaint the ceiling. It never ends, does it?
See those margarita glasses up there? I should really make some margs soon. Some of my favorite things are in the pantry: I love my happy hour plaque and the Sylvester clock.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Signs of Winter

I changed my seasonal artwork on schedule this time.

One of the Chinese paintings in the bathroom...

And a snow scene in the dining "nook."

I painted this sometime between ages 12 and 16.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

More Thoughts on Happily Ever After

I'd also like to comment on Step #4 from Yahoo's recent article on how to live happily ever after.

Step #4: Find a balance between time for two and time for you.

Yes, while it's important for you to do things as a couple without the kids, you also need time to yourself. You can't be joined at the hip all the time. For example, the Handy Husband is a car guy. I've gone to the drag races a couple times with him, but it's not my cup of tea. So most of the time, I tell him to go by himself and we're both much happier.

And on the other hand, I don't require him to sit through musicals and chick flicks.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happily Ever After

Yahoo recently had an article on how to live happily ever after. And since I've been married for 25 years (plus the 6 we were dating equals 31 -- egad!), I'd like to share my experience with one of their steps. (Some of them, like fighting the right way, I can't even comment on, because we don't fight right. I get mad and he doesn't. There's no satisfaction in that.)

Step #1: Find a shared dream for your life together.

Our first shared dream was always to own our own home. We bought our first house at age 25, a cute little cottage in a not-so cute but affordable neighborhood. One of the 2 10x10 bedrooms was given over to the Handy Husband's stereo.

Here, he first indulged his home improvement urges. He was in the middle of remodeling the kitchen on his own when we discovered our dream house. After much stress (this whole episode probably qualifies for step 6) we finished the kitchen (with the help of an amazing team of carpenters), found a buyer for the first house, and bought the dream house.

I did this post for our 20th anniversary in our current home. Our kids have never lived anywhere else. The dream of owning our own home has evolved over the years into the dream of making our home together with our family. Ernest says we can't ever get divorced and make him move, that HE is keeping the house. That boy's got a taproot, all right.

When the kids are gone, our dream will have to evolve again. But we're flexible. It doesn't matter where we will be, it will still be home.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Why I'm Wondering

I've been reading holiday flight horror stories and wonder why are we going anywhere? Answer: BUSINESS TRIP. And his half is paid for.

It'll be fun. We're prepared. I have a wad of Euros, long underwear, rainboots and an umbrella. And a cashmere sweater because I had an excuse to buy one from Land's End along with the practical things.

So we hope to drink some of this:

And see some of these:

And if I'm very brave (because I don't like things jumping out at me), we could visit this:

Or I visit the homes of some less frightening Irish authors. I had no idea there were so many from Dublin: James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde.

Cheers! See you soon! I have a few posts scheduled while I'm gone -- how unusually pro-active of me!