Thursday, June 30, 2011

Purty Flawrs...

I love it when these wild flowers pop up unexpectedly in the yard. I believe they are rain lilies. Evidently, they grow from bulbs, but we've never planted any rain lily bulbs. I also see them here and there around the neighborhood in odd places. They seem to just spring up randomly in the middle of grassy areas.

 I just read on tha interwebz that you can actually order bulbs for them, and that they're relatively easy to grow. Hmmm... maybe we should consider getting some and spreading them around like a smile.

Monday, June 27, 2011


My better(?) half dragged me out bowling Friday night. While we were hanging out in the snack bar waiting for a lane, a guy comes in carrying what looked like a skateboard with a handle. Turns out it WAS a skateboard with not just a handle, but also a compartment that you can carry things in... like a skateboard briefcase. My husband walked over and chatted the guy up a bit, and found out he actually made it. It's such a cool idea.

Then I was watching the news Saturday morning, and lo and behold there's the guy with the cool skateboard briefcase featured in a story about USF leading the way in patents! Below is a link to the news story, and a link to the inventor's youtube channel that has a couple videos of the skatecase in use. Check it out. It's brilliant!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Growin' stuff...

Grape tomatoes
Having been raised in the south, I feel like it's mandatory that I grow tomatoes in the summer. Of course, where I live, you gotta get the plants in the ground in late February or early March. By the time summer officially rolls around, it's too dang hot for blossoms to set. Luckily, I planted on time this year, and have enjoyed the actual fruits of my labor.

This year I planted two grape tomato plants, one Roma tomato plant, one Beefsteak tomato plant, and one that is supposedly cherry tomatoes. We got a few Romas, but not many, and the plant didn't do well. It was behind the Beefsteak plant, which blocked a lot of the morning sun. I didn't expect the Beefsteak plant to grow so crazy big! Most of the Beefsteaks cracked on the vine, but we've had some delicious BLT's from them. The grape tomatoes never disappoint... they always produce with little trouble.

"Cherry" tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes
The cherry tomatoes though.... I THOUGHT I got the same variety that I have in the past, but I've never had cherry tomatoes grow so big! They're smaller than, say, a patio tomato, but bigger than regular cherry or grape tomatoes. They are damn good though, and make a fine fresh sauce for pasta.

I also planted two eggplant... uh... plants and one Gypsy pepper. One of the eggplants didn't make it. The other one has given us several delicious eggplants!

So... from all this deliciousness, there have been a couple nights that I was able to make bowtie pasta with a sauce of tomatoes, eggplant, pepper and basil straight from the garden. Yum!

Unfortunately, we've been having quite a spell of really hot weather, and it's taking it's toll on the plants. The tomato vines are getting really brown, and our basil is pretty shriveled. Happily, the pepper and eggplant are still putting out blossoms. Fingers crossed they'll set and produce more edible treasures!

Maybe it's just me, but truly fresh-picked produce always tastes WAY better than that commercial grocery store stuff.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

My dad was overseas in a combat zone when I was born. By the time he came home, I'm told I was a crying, colicky baby. Who enjoys crying colicky babies? So maybe we just got started on the wrong foot. There were also other issues that strained our father/daughter relationship during my childhood, and when my parents split, my dad moved practically half way around the world. Those were the days before tha interwebz and skype and e-mail... long distance communication was a lot harder then! I've only seen him in person two or three times since I was 10 years old, and the last time was over 20 years ago. So it was difficult to mend our fences, settle our differences and get to know each other.

We eventually buried the hatchet and presently have a friendly relationship, mostly via e-mail, but I still can't say that I know my dad REALLY well. I don't know what his favorite color is, or his favorite music, or his favorite meal, or what he'd do if he ever won a million bucks... all those little mundane things that close families know about each other.

But here's what I do know about him... he's got a genius-level IQ and photographic memory. He has perfect pitch, and can also play guitar really well. He's got a wicked sense of humor and a quick wit. That's not a bad gene pool for me to be swimming around in, and I'm fortunate to have inherited a little of his smarts and talent. I think the wavy curls in my hair came from him, too. Not sure about my stubbornness and fiery temper... there's a generous amount of those qualities on BOTH sides of my DNA!

I remember in second grade, he made a Kool-Aid cake for my birthday. And he used to bake cinnamon swirl bread sometimes (I still have the recipe). He made gorgeous stained glass terrariums in his spare time for a while. Once on a beach vacation, we kids had a blast when he'd toss us backwards into the waves.

So Dad, thanks for helping to make me the person I am today, even from afar. I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

WWJD? I think he'd laugh!

This was on a car parked next to me at the drug store yesterday... I had to take a picture. I know some people might be offended by it, but it's just about the funniest car bling I've ever seen!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One, Two, Cha Cha Cha

So do you guys watch those Dancing Kids (otherwise known as Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance")? The top 20 paired up and kicked off the competition for season 8 last night, and boy howdy are those kids talented! Every single one of them gave top notch performances, but when Melanie and Marko began the Travis Wall choreographed "Turn to Stone" number, it was clear we were all watching something truly special. It was stunning! Such a beautiful piece.

The official SYTYCD clip won't be on the show's official site until Sunday or Monday, but I found this youtube clip that someone posted if you want to check it out. (I'll try to remember to switch it to the official clip when it's available.) Absolutely breathtaking.

If you're a fan of the show, you already know that Travis Wall was a contestant and the runner-up on Season 2 of the show. It's great to see him grow into a world class choreographer. He is an amazing young talent!

What I love about So You Think You Can Dance is the range of styles it explores, introducing so many people to dance forms they may not otherwise ever be exposed to. It's so cool to watch a B-boy or hip-hop street dancer, who never had a formal lesson, learn to master classic ballroom styles, while contemporary and jazz dancers get their groove on learning to krump or pop. Every season it seems like the level of talent in these kids moves up a notch. (Unlike some other celebrity-studded dance themed shows that I can't stand to watch.)

The downside? Two of these fabulous dancing kids will be eliminated each week. The first elimination show will be tonight... I can hardly bear to watch! (But if I don't watch, I'll probably miss some amazing dancing!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And now, back to our program.

Has it really been a week since the last post? Hope my hiatus didn't disappoint you loyal readers. (All two or three of you! LOL!) I was somewhat incapacitated, and in no mood to blog.

Remember a few posts ago when I thought my neti pot had saved me from a sinus infection? No such luck. I've been battling the mother of all sinus infections for a couple weeks now. Finally gave up and headed to my ENT's office last week. The antibiotics he prescribed seem to be working, slowly but surely. I'm beginning to feel like a human again. This thing really kicked my ass!

I'll tell ya what though... I now realize that I never TRULY understood the real meaning of the word "putrid" until last week. Putrid is a near-perfect description of the toxic sludge that I was blowing from my nose. Vile, disgusting and foul are other appropriate words for it. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing the smell was similar to the trunk of Casey Anthony's car. (Eeeewwwww!) That was almost harder to bear than the rest of the symptoms! I was beginning to think my brain was actually dissolving and draining through my sinuses. Thankfully, that part of it has improved dramatically. Now I'm blowing out *mostly* normal gunk. (I know y'all were just dying to know that, right?)

Here's hoping the improvement continues... the upcoming posts will be MUCH more pleasant than today's topic! So check back soon, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

At least the glasses LOOK cool...

We recently went to the movies to see them thar pirates. It was okay... some light summer fluff. Nothing to write home (or blog) about but a fun romp nonetheless. However, I DO have a gripe about 3D.

Don't get me wrong... 3D can be fun to watch (How To Train Your Dragon and even Despicable Me benefited from 3D effects), but if the film is in 3D just for the sake being in 3D, it's just not worth it. Unfortunately, it seems almost every new release is in 3D these days, whether it actually adds to the film or not. Most of the really 3D bits in the new Pirates flick seemed gimmicky and trite. Oooh... a sword is pointed right you. Oooh... some rifles are pointed right at you. Stuff like that, which seemed almost like an afterthought. It's as if Hollywood mandates that there be some 3D content in all new movies or something, so the producers and directors oblige with some easy run-of-the-mill comin'-at-ya schlock. Not only that, but with the 3D glasses on, the images on the screen looked pretty murky, especially in the darker, shadowy scenes. I found myself frequently lifting the glasses up away from my eyes so I could see better. It was really kind of annoying. Wonder if they can come up with 3D glasses that aren't tinted... maybe that would help with the whole dark and murky thing.

We only opted to see it in 3D because the non-3D version had a later show time. We won't make that mistake again. Why pay an extra $4 or $5 for the 3D glasses when the effects are kinda cheesy and it makes the overall image quality so much worse? Kind of a rip-off if you ask me.

Sorry, Green Lantern... we'll be seeing in you in regular ol' 2D, thank you very much. Same goes for you, Harry Potter.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dealer's Choice

Is it just me, or does everyone go in for service at the car dealership prepared for a fight?

Yeah, yeah... I know... you're probably thinking "Why the hell would you take your 10-year-old car to the DEALER for an oil change? They charge so much more than other places!" Well, first of all, in the last few years I think dealerships have realized they need to get their service pricing in line if they want to keep that part of the business. For standard routine maintenance, my dealer's prices are about the same as most other places. Plus, when I bought my vehicle they had a "free tires for life" program, wherein they replace my tires when needed as long as I get all my scheduled service done there. (And yes, I have received a new set of tires... sweeet!) And lastly, I like knowing that all my service records are in one place, and that there's usually at least one service advisor on staff that I've worked with before. The downside is that is that I often feel like they're trying to sell me stuff I don't need... brake pads, A/C filter, blah blah blah. Then again I think ALL the places do that these days. Fortunately I do have a little common sense about car maintenance, so I'm not a COMPLETELY easy target. And at least I have history with my dealer, so they're not gonna want to piss me off TOO much because I'm sure they'd like me to purchase my next car there.

Now let me relate a little recent history. Last time I took my car in for service I ended up sitting in the customer service lounge for FOUR HOURS! Not because they were backed up, but because my check engine light was on. It's been on for over three years now... I'm fully aware of it, and I know what's causing it. It's a bad O2 sensor. I've already replaced two or three of the four O2 sensors... faulty O2 sensors are a known issue with my vehicle model. Since my engine is running fine and I've had no change in gas mileage the would indicate there really IS a problem with my fuel mix, I'm happy to continue to bask in the check engine light's amber glow. I certainly don't want to pay the dealer $80 to run the diagnostic on it when several auto parts stores will do it for free. I always tell the service this when I bring my car in... "I know the light is on, I know why it's on, no I don't want you to check it for me than you very much". But apparently, my service advisor (who was new) wasn't listening when I said this, and he evidently also didn't pay attention when I told him I'd be waiting in the customer lounge. He tried to call me at home to tell  me my check engine light was on, and left me a message asking if I want them to check it. Obviously, I wasn't home to get that message. When I finally tracked him down to find out what was taking so long, I was fuming. However, I kept myself in check and maintained a calm (though clearly furious) demeanor. I got sincere apologies and a card for a free car wash on my next visit. Oh joy.

Fast forward several months later to this past Saturday, when I had to take my car in for its 75,000 mile service. Just a simple oil change, tire rotation and courtesy inspection, just like last time. I had made an appointment for 9:15. When I got there, the place was jammed with customers. My service advisor said it would be at least two hours. Now, I was prepared to wait that long... it was a Saturday after all and they do get busy on Satrudays... but I asked him out of curiosity what the point is of making an appointment when it ends up first come, first served anyway? He was apologetic, said it could be even longer than two hours, and when he brought me into is his office to write up my work order, he authorized a one-day car rental for me. ***Wha???*** Then he said  they'd go ahead and check the check engine light for free. ***Wha? WHA??***

Hmmmm... sounded too good to be true, but with this lingering cold/sinus thing making me feel like crap, I really wanted that rental car to drive home in. I wondered aloud to the rental agent why the service department would write off a $30 rental fee and waive the $80 check engine light diagnostic fee for a simple oil change and tire rotation. I figured they'd surely end up telling me my car needed some type of expensive repair based on that diagnostic. But no... my advisor called me at about 3:30, and said the diagnostic showed it WAS the O2 sensor ($375 if I want to replace it), but other than that everything looked good. Only my battery tested low, and he said they'd match the average price if I wanted them to replace it for me. I agreed, since I couldn't remember the last time I replaced it and probably DID need a new one anyway.

So... why the great customer service this time? Was it because they were HOPING to find something expensive to fix with that "free" diagnostic? And why the free rental car? Was it because they knew I was unhappy with my last service experience and the current futility of making an appointment so they didn't want me talking about that with the other customers in the lounge? Or because this cold/sinus thing makes me sound like I'm carrying the plague and they felt sorry for me? Or was it because, after my last experience, they recognized a golden opportunity to go out of their way to restore my faith in their customer service? I may never know. But I will definitely be giving them high marks on their customer satisfaction survey this time around. And maybe next time I'm due for an oil change, I won't go in there with my hackles raised quite so high.

Footnote: The rental car they gave me was a candy apple red 2011 Ford Fusion. (Unusual for a Japanese auto-maker's dealership?) Not a bad ride! Handled really well and was very comfortable. If I had been feeling better, I might have driven it around town instead of just home!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ode to a Neti Pot

Oh salty stream of cleansing warmth,
Flow gently on your quest
To rid my head of detritus
So I might heal and rest.

Okay... so it ain't Shakespeare. But I am seriously grateful for my neti pot today. As you may have guessed, this cold or whatever bug I've got is still hanging on. Yesterday, my back teeth and jaw were THROBBING from the inflammation in my sinuses, probably because I neglected to use the neti pot for a day or so. (I'm not usually a daily user, but when I have a cold or my sinuses are suffering through a heavy pollen season, it's a godsend!) So when I got home, I immediately set about neti-potting myself.

Dude... you don't even wanna know the amount and kind of crud I was able to expel with the help of the warm, healing flow of the neti pot's saline solution! It was disgusting! I'll spare ya the details. But a second round before bed last night and another this morning has dramatically improved the comfort of my sinus situation, and probably prevented it from progressing into a full-blown sinus infection. (Maybe.)

If you've never used a neti pot, you should try it next time you're suffering from a cold or sinus issues. You can get one at most drug stores. My ENT actually recommended it to me a few years ago. I won't lie... when you use one, it kinda feels like you're drowning or you jumped off the high dive into the deep end of the pool feet first without holding your nose. And the copious amounts of "fluid" you'll be able to blow out afterward is pretty gross, but then that's the whole idea, isn't it? I will gladly tolerate a few minutes of discomfort if it will prevent days and days of sinus pain!

So I'll be good friends with my neti pot for the next little while, as long as it keeps providing the blessed relief that it has so far! (But I probably won't compose any more poetry about it. Aren't you glad?)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


So... I think the only thing worse than the time drag on the afternoon before a long holiday weekend may be surviving that time drag, and then falling under the weather for the entire long holiday weekend. I rarely get sick... just my luck it happens for the first time in two or three years over Memorial Day weekend. Sucks to be me sometimes.

It also occurred to me yesterday that as miserable as getting sick in the winter is, it's maybe 20 times worse having that thick-headed, fatigued, stuffy cough-y feeling when it's 95 freakin' degrees out. Just can't get comfortable. Or is it just me?

Ah well. Could be worse. And I'm already on the mend. Just a shame this cold or whatever it is had to spoil our enjoyment of the holiday weekend. No cookout, no s'mores, no beach, no movies... just mostly bed and cough syrup. There's always 4th of July, I guess. Summer is just gettin' started!