Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sick Days

I have always been happy to have sick days. Although I do prefer to take them on days when I'm not actually sick. But that's just between you and me.

Yesterday, I took a kind of hybrid of those.

I've been having a really crap week at work. An author who is probably clinically insane has had his books printed, and now has found that there is an error on his printed copies. Which were printed using the files which were also used to create the physical proof which he personally approved. And, of course, he's decided that it's our fault. After all, if he approved it and we sent the files based on his approval, and printed it to his specifications, it must be our fault, right?

(The appropriate response is... "Gee, no. It seems that it would be his fault at that point.")

But, for whatever reason, he has decided that the fault should be ours. Or, more precisely, mine.

Yes, that's right. He's decided that everything that went wrong - from having the wrong size template sent to him by our designers, to having the proof sent to the wrong address (an address which he gave us) by the author coordinator, and all the way back to a year or so ago when his galley copies came out with "Advanced Reader Copy" on them instead of "Advance Reader Copy" - is all my fault.

And, yesterday, when I was already not feeling well and was a bit rumbly in my tummy, I found an email in my inbox which started with: "Dear Robert, You've f*cked up. You need to admit it. ..."

Somewhere about an hour after that, probably half an hour after I had done my due diligence and replied and said that I apologized but I really hadn't made all of those errors he felt were mine. He sent another equally... vitriolic... email.

It was after that email that I decided it was time to exercise my right to half a sick day.

I only took about 2 actual hours off, but it was worth it.

Today was much better.

Or at least better.

Which is to say that the insane author didn't write again today. But I'll take that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Travel Taunt Tuesday

Why is it that every time I'm feeling trapped in my job my inbox is suddenly chock-a-block full of travel offers?

Today I deleted flight offers for trips to Baltimore and Montreal. I deleted an email all about free charter flights if you book a cruise. There was an email about flights to Europe and one about discounts to Walt Disney World.

And I was finding all of these in my email while I was at work. On a day where I spent the first half-hour of the day compiling email back-up information on why a threatened lawsuit is bunk, and then spent time trying to explain the day-to-day process of my job to my boss, I had all of this travel taunting me.

Luckily, I have plenty of imagination to keep me going.

At least I like to think I'm lucky. Perhaps some of my co-workers would disagree.

You see...

Late in the day, one of my co-workers jokingly said that she was having such a slow day that she felt she should be on suicide watch. When I checked on her, later, she said that she was glad I checked in because she had the gun ready to go. And I asked her why she was going to be so boring. She wasn't sure what I meant, so I explained that I thought she would have more imagination about her office-related suicide.

I explained that I imagined that her plans would have involved a trampoline, a rope, and a ham sandwich. Or maybe a goat. Or a trampoline, a rope, a teeter-totter, a goat, AND a ham sandwich.*

Perhaps I should have booked a trip online, instead.

*The goat and the person stand on opposite ends of a balanced teeter-totter, with the person holding the sandwich. The teeter-totter is on the trampoline, and the rope is tied in a noose around the person's neck (looped over the ductwork near the ceiling). The goat eats the ham sandwich out of the person's hand, causing the teeter-totter to tilt, and the goat to fall off, safely, onto the trampoline, while the person falls and... well.. tightens the noose. I believe Rube Goldberg would be proud of my imagination some days.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Non-Movie Monday

You all know how, when I go to movies, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, right? Well, with the advent of the new TV season, I've been trying to find some new comedies to watch. Christopher and I already have a whole bunch of hour-long things that we both enjoy, so I thought it would be nice to find something quick and easy that we could enjoy while having dinner and hanging out.

So I recorded a few things in the past week. And we watched the first few episodes last night. And we really couldn't stomach any of them.

It was sad, really. Two out of three of them had stars I usually like, but they were in just inane and annoying situations. The third one simply went for the lowest of the low-brow jokes, and we almost didn't make it to the end of the show.

Luckily, we've found a few fun half-hour shows to watch, even without those, though. We loved the summer series "Hot in Cleveland" (it has Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, and Jane Leeves). We're enjoying "Melissa and Joey" (with a grown-up Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence). And we've started recording all of Nigella Lawson's shows, because she's someone we both think it would be fun to cook with.

So I guess we'll be okay for a while. And, of course, there's always Netflix if we get really hard up...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

One Of Those Great Days

Christopher and I had one of those wonderful afternoons today that happen way too rarely.

We started out with brunch at a place called "Hot Plate" (where the walls are covered with paint-by-number art) (no, really), to celebrate with a friend of ours who starts a new job later this week.

After that, we went to run a few shopping errands. We hit Barnes&Noble, and Crate&Barrel, and even stopped in Williams-Sonoma (which has a hyphen, not an ampersand).

We drove around and enjoyed the gorgeous cool, crisp, fall day. We stopped in another kitchen store after looking for a new collar for our new dog. We also got sent home with a few sample treats for her (which we, apparently, could eat ourselves - if we felt like it).

And, on the way back to the car, Christopher put his hand on my back and commented that it had been a really nice day. I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Things You Never Expect To Say

"While scraping out the interior of the acorn squash, I think I may have burned my hand."

Yeah. I seriously never thought I'd hear myself saying that. But I did, tonight. I was emptying out four acorn squash to mash up with a little butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper (and just a dash of salt), and I may have just minorly burned both of my hands while doing it.

Luckily, the mashed squash turned out really well, even so.

Yeah. That's another thing I never really expected to say.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall, I Guess

A new season started last night, at the same time as a full moon, right at the same time as an Equinox.

But it's been cloudy and raining, here, for a while, so I haven't really noticed.

Today, in fact, it's been kind of warm and humid and rainy - a really unpleasant day, all 'round.

I don't over much enjoy fall most years. Don't get me wrong - I love the temperatures, and I think the leaves changing colors are spectacular. I just don't like that it means that winter will be starting up, soon. So I end up not really enjoying the actual fall.

I know, I know. I should live more in the moment and enjoy all of the actual gorgeous "fallness" of it, and not worry about what will be coming in a month or so. But that's hard to do.

It's even harder on a wet nasty day like today, when the leaves which have started to change color (yes, already), are getting plastered to the sidewalk by the rain.

Here's hoping for some sun in the immediate future. Or else, perhaps, I'll simply have to start disliking this fall on its own merits.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Travel Tuesday: The Block

For the past two weeks, the main travelling I've been doing is around our neighborhood.

It's amazing how, when you've got a dog, suddenly you spend a lot of time just walking around the block. We go for a walk every morning at about 8am before work, and about every other day we do the walk again at about 5:45pm (on other days Christopher beats me home and takes her out). And, depending on the amount of time we've got, it could be just one side of the block, all the way around the block, or the very exciting walk around a different block.

We've said hello to a bunch of neighbors. We've almost met some of the little kids on the block. And we've gotten barked at by a lot of neighborhood dogs. It's kind of amazing how many dogs are in the neighborhood, actually. There's a bunch of them we never see out walking, but we hear while we're passing their houses.

And while I'm not exactly looking forward to dealing with the walks this winter, I have to say that we've been having a very nice time this September. I guess, some times, travelling close to home is all you really need.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Going the Distance" to "Play With Fire"

In the past week I've actually seen two movies. One last week, and one this past weekend. Both were fairly highly anticipated. Both were decent. Both got me to the theater with good movie-going companions. That's where the comparisons end.

You see, about a month ago I was at a movie with a couple of friends and we all decided that "Going the Distance" looked like a fun movie. Drew Barrymore in a better-than-average romantic comedy about long-distance dating. It had potential. So the three of us actually planned a movie night way in advance. And we went last week.

You know, you really shouldn't plan to go to a movie so far out that your expectations get built up. Because at that point the movie really won't have any chance of meeting those expectations.

Sure, I laughed, winced, and tried to hide behind my hands at all the right times. And I felt for a lot of the characters. But I just didn't think that the movie really went the whole distance.

This weekend, on the other hand, Christopher and I went to see the 2nd of the "The Girl Who..." movies. It had taken me a very long time to see the first one, and I only went after there was truly overwhelming pressure from friends to go to it. For "The Girl Who Played With Fire," though, I have been waiting for a time that Christopher and I could go.

We wrangled that time, yesterday, and went to a late-afternoon matinee. And it was so worth it. I'd heard that the story wasn't as focused this time around, and that it was less intense because of that. And, you know, that wasn't probably a bad thing.

The movie picked up right where the first one ended, and it was another emotional roller coaster. Only this time the two "main" characters really never shared screen time. So as an audience member you keep overlaying all of the backstory onto the movie and you keep hoping for everything to turn out right in spite of it all. By the time it was over all I could think of was that I can't wait for the next one to come out.

Maybe that's the big difference between the two movies. In "Going the Distance" I kind of felt that they had played out all that they could do. But in "The Girl Who Played With Fire" I found myself looking forward to seeing where they go, next.

Overall scores: "Going the Distance" - C+ - so much potential, but the more I think about it the less I like it. "The Girl Who Played With Fire" - B+ - as a second-of-three movie it was fine, but I definitely feel like it was leading somewhere we haven't yet been.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Evening Ramble

I figured I should write something because I didn't, yesterday. But here's the thing: I don't have anything really to say about the past day or so.

It's been a good little while. Nice sunny late-summer (okay, early-fall) days. Time was spent with the new dog. Time was spent with Christopher. Time was spent with friends. And, at about 6 o'clock this evening, I turned to Christopher and said that the weekend was way too short. Which could be why I haven't blogged.

I'm really excited to say that I've had some great comments on my last Tiz List. I'll be responding to some of those in the next few days.

In the meantime, check out some of the other great posts from NajMania and TizAndAss and all of the other great folks you can find them in the left margin.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tiz List #4

As I was driving home from work today, I decided it was time to dig deep and write up a new Tiz List.

(If you don't know why it's called a "Tiz List," feel free to click on the tag in the side column that says "Tiz List" and go to the first one I wrote. The full explanation is there.)

Here we go...

1) I can't understand why I can't find some shows on my TiVo so that I can set it to record the coming season. But since Christopher looked into it and can't find a solution I figure I'll just wait until the first show rolls around and I'll record it by its time.

2) Technology things like that, which ought to work but don't, really annoy me.

3) I suspect that, way down deep inside, I've got a Luddite desperately trying to get out.

4) Some times I use words I like simply to use them. (see also #3)

5) Some times I use big words because it seems more polite to confuse people than to swear at people.

6) One of my very favorite splurges is having fresh flowers in the house.

7) I hate when the fresh flowers get old and have to be tossed out.

8) That may be why I like Christopher's orchids so much.

9) According to Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women, all people are either always children or parents. And those people are always going to be that way, no matter what stage of life they're in.

10) I have always been one of those people who is parental. Even when I was a kid, I always was one of the responsible ones.

11) I used to kind of hate being one of the always responsible ones, but I've learned to live with it. But, some days, I just feel very old, nonetheless.

12) I'm truly a cat person at heart.

13) I think Aoife might have a little bit of cat in her, because I rather like her.

14) If I had the money (and time) to do it, I'd travel to see my friends more often - and I'd try to make it to all of their special occasions (good and bad).

15) I love getting news from my friends.

16) I hate only getting news from my friends online. I'd prefer a letter. Or at least a phonecall. Or, heck, even a full-length email instead of a one-line greeting.

17) When my sinuses act up, my jaw hurts.

18) My sinuses act up when the weather changes.

19) Number 17 and Number 18 combined make me wonder why in the heck I live in the Twin Cities this time of year.

20) Cottage Pie suddenly sounds really good at the moment.

21) Cottage Pie is not actually a pie. Nor is it made with any cottages in it.

22) I think one of the Netflix I have at home has been here for more than a month.

23) I really don't enjoy William Shatner.

24) No. Really. I don't like watching William Shatner on TV, in movies, anywhere. Don't know why. I just don't.

25) I kinda want to own a kilt at some point in my life.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Have a Pulse

Yes, that's right. I found out today that I have a pulse. And really good blood pressure. And maybe just the start of an ulcer.

Obviously, the trip to the doctor's office this morning for my first physical in a really long time was before I went to work. Otherwise I'm sure that my blood pressure would have been much higher, and my ulcer probably would have been full blown.

Instead, I just got a Tetanus booster shot and a flu shot and gave them four vials of blood to check my cholesterol and various other things.

Assuming I don't go into a coma or develop massive flu in the next 48 hours, I think I should be good to go.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Cairo Time" on Movie Monday

Last week my movie-going took me on an absolutely amazing trip to Cairo with Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig in "Cairo Time."

Before I went to the movie, I described it as a movie about a woman who goes to Cairo to visit her husband, but who ends up having to wait for him because he has been detained. And, instead, spends her time with a local diplomat with whom she may or may not end up having an affair.

When we finished the movie, and were standing in the parking lot, we both realized that we had absolutely no idea how to describe it.

I'm still in that position of having no idea how to describe it.

But here are some things you should know: The movie is gorgeous. The scenery is amazing. Patricia Clarkson is beautiful - and the director even allows her to look her age, which makes her that much more beautiful.

Overall, it's a quiet, languid movie. The background music is moving, without ever getting in the way. Time passes at an unknown speed, using just as much as the movie needs - not a moment more or less. And, by the time the movie was over, I wanted to come home and book a ticket to Egypt.

My movie-going partner said that as she watched the movie she wanted to reach out and touch things. I wanted to look around all the corners to see what we were missing.

Here's another thing about the movie I'm sure of: if you miss this movie, you'll miss a lot.

Overall grade: A. (It was almost an A+, but a few characters we liked faded in and out of the movie that I'd have loved to have seen more of.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Post-9/11... 2010

I spent a lot of time, yesterday, thinking.

I saw people online posting the notices of where they were on September 11th, 2001. And I know exactly where I was all that day. And who I called to check on. And how overwhelming that all felt.

Yesterday, though, amid all of the reminiscences, I heard that a good friend's father passed away. Something in the immediacy of that news overshadowed all of the rest of the day.

Another friend of mine, yesterday, quoted some lines of lyrics from a song from the musical "Wicked," and I really don't know how else to sum this up, so I'm going to borrow those lyrics, here.

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

And so, on this day after the day of memories, I thank you all for being a part of my life - whether as readers or commenters or friends or family or people I've never met.

Tomorrow we'll talk about movies. Or the new dog. Or something. I promise.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Peanut Butter

I am, in fact, a rather large fan of peanut butter. I grew up on the stuff. We had Skippy Super Chunk most of the time when I was a kid, although we did try the "do-it-yourself" version when my mom got her first food processor. (It was nice, but not practical.)

These days, Christopher and I keep a jar of Creamy Jif in the cupboard at all times. (I put up a little bit of a fuss changing over from Skippy, but I've adjusted.) And most weeks I bring Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam sandwiches to work with me at least once or twice. After all, just because you had it as a kid doesn't mean you can't have it as an adult, right?

Well, with the new "kid" in the house, the importance of peanut butter has drastically changed this week. Suddenly, just having the jar visible is a point of stress. And opening it... well... that causes all sorts of angst from below the level of the counter.

This morning, as I was making my sandwich, I looked down to see two of the most soulful, sad, hopeful, and pathetic eyes staring up at me. Pleading. Hoping. But not quite begging.

I made my sandwich, wrapped it up, and put the jar away as quickly as I could. Feeling oddly guilty for packing my lunch instead of buying something when I got to work.

This could be a very expensive guilt-trip.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday... Slightly Distractedly

Saw a great movie last night - which of course I'm not going to talk about until next Monday - which is why I didn't post last night.

Well, that's part of why I didn't post last night. The other reason is because I came home from the movie to have Christopher say to me "So, we're getting her tomorrow."

Who is "she"? She is a six-year-old cocker spaniel. Christopher has been looking into becoming a foster home for dogs for a while, and then was looking into rescue dogs at a couple of local agencies. A week or two ago, he sent an email off to the cocker spaniel rescue, saying he might be interested in a dog. Then everything kicked into high gear.

We met the dog on Monday (yes, two days ago), and last night we got the call that we were going to be getting a new member of the household.

So... We now are the proud housemates of a black-and-tan cocker who loves to play with a tennis ball and is perfectly at home cuddling up to watch TV.

More news as we have it, of course! But, for tonight, it's time to settle in and just enjoy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

An Expendable Movie, with Charisma

As we started enjoying the 3-day weekend, Christopher and I went out with some friends on Saturday afternoon to see the "blow things up" movie "The Expendables."

For a big blow-em-up movie, with a kind of all-star cast, it seems to have flown mostly under the radar. And... well... that's not necessarily a bad thing. Basically, it's an action movie about a group of mercenaries who get hired to take out some bad guys in some random island nation.

The important thing is that the action heroes in it were - for the most part - in their primes 10 or 15 years ago. Sylvester Stallone is the lead. And there's Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke, and cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and even a couple of professional wrestlers, and "current" action guys Jason Statham and Jet Li. And, although they're really almost more expendable than the men, there are actually two women in it: Gabrielle Itie (as the action heroine) and Charisma Carpenter (as the beautiful damsel in distress).

(Not sure who Charisma Carpenter is, but think the name sounds familiar? She was Cordelia on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," played a "seer" on "Charmed," and has been in a bunch of TV movies since then. She usually plays smart, beautiful, but flawed characters. And, honestly, I think she ought to show up on screens more often.)

Does it sound like I'm stalling in talking about the movie, by instead talking about the cast? Well, you're probably right.

You see, although I only saw it two days ago, the only thing I really remember about it is gunfire and a couple of spectacular explosions. After we were done watching it, we were standing outside and talking about it. And, while we agreed we admire the guys who were in the movie for doing it, we couldn't come up with anything spectacular about the movie, itself.

Is it just me, or does that make it incredibly aptly named?

Overall rating: B. Basically, it was all that it promised to be, but it didn't fulfill the promise of what it could have been.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Friday Food - A Little Late

I had every intention of posting this blog yesterday, but then a friend of ours came over for dinner - and actually BROUGHT the entire dinner and cooked it, here - so I got a bit distracted.

But I didn't want to let my one and only homegrown BLT of the year pass by without some fanfare.

For those of you paying attention, yes, this was my one and only tomato for the year. I had another one very nicely ripening on the vine, but when I came home from work a couple of days ago it was gone. Just completely gone. The entire "branch" it was on is missing and there's a "scar" on the stem where it was pulled off. Methinks 'twas not a bunny rabbit, since a bunny would not have taken the entire branch... (grumble)

Even so, I am thrilled to present to you the following photos. First of all, the guest of honor at dinner (the little guy was barely 3 1/2 inches across):

Then, we have the guest of honor and his co-honorees, some thick-cut bacon, some crispy romaine, and some toasted white bread with a little butter on it (yes, I'm a purest about this):

And, finally, the culmination of the evening - and, well, of the past 3 months for that matter (okay, I admit that there are some dill pickle slices in there, as well as a little mayo -I'm a purest about those things, too):

It was an amazing sandwich. I was sitting next to Christopher while I ate it, and he kept having to deal with my "Mmmm..." sounds. But it truly was amazing. Something no winter tomatoes can ever hope to be. It may even have been a good thing for the second tomato to have gone missing. After all, I'm not sure it could have lived up to this one.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We're in Spike, Again!

And, in fact, it's a double spike. Which means we have a chance for all three orchids to be blooming at the same time.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that when an orchid is getting ready to bloom it's apparently called being "in spike" (because orchids send out a long spike, upon which the blooms appear)?

Orchids are a strange houseplant. Depending on what kind you get (we have two cymbidium orchids and one that we don't know the name of), they're actually fairly basic plants to have around. They just sit there and look green a lot. You water them once a week and wait. And wait. And wait. And then...

One day, you look at this mass of leaves, and there is a straight twig-looking thing growing out of it. And the twig gets longer every day. And you water and wait. And, eventually, you start to see it bud. And the buds grow. And you water and wait.

And then, finally, you get a bloom. Possibly a string of blooms. And the blooms. Well... If you're lucky, the blooms last for a month. Or two months. And you kind of get used to them being in bloom and forget what it's like to wait for them to do anything.

And, unfortunately, then the inevitable thing happens and the stems of the blooms start to yellow, and the flowers begin to sag one by one. So you trim off the pieces which have died and keep what you can. And one day you look and realize that even the spike is starting to wilt.

So you trim it back so that you are left with the green leaves, and you water. And wait.

But, for now, we have blooms on two of our orchids, and the promise of more on the third. (You can see the two spikes in the upper-right-hand section of the photo, below.)

We are in spike. And life is good.