Thursday, June 30, 2005

Reporters & Toy Shopping

Yesterday, I took lunch to J early. She was hungry for a tuna sandwich, so I picked up a couple from Current Cuisine and ate with her in her office. When I got home, there was a phone message from an intern with the local paper. It's a pretty conservative paper, but she wanted to do an article on what it's like to be gay in this county, as part of gay pride month. I can't imagine how she got the article approved, but she wanted to interview me for it. It turned out that she couldn't get anyone else to interview on such short notice, so the whole article is about me & J & our family. I picked up a paper today & the article is on the front page, starting above the crease continuing to page 2, with my photo prominently featured. It will be interesting to follow the letters to the editor & hear what folks at church have to say. I expect the paper will get some backlash.

After the interview, I took the boys to Toys R Us & gave them each $15 to spend as they pleased. Pie tried to get Boot to chip in his money for a video game. Boot didn't want to, especially since I wouldn't allow them to get a rated-T game. Finally, I told Boot that he was free to walk out of the game section & choose whatever real toy he was interested in to spend his $15 on, that he didn't have to go along with Pie. Pie left with us, pouty because he wasn't getting a video game. I pointed out to him that Boot bought him a brand-new video game FOUR days ago. He said, "You guys can just spend my money on whatever you want", using his martyr voice. No dice on that, buddy! Boot decided to use his $15 plus his allowance to get a Disney Trivial Pursuit game. I find that to be a delightful choice. Pie finally came to his senses & chose a 3D Star Wars puzzle he's been wanting. I got a Barbie for J (I wish they still had the Grandma one...or that I'd gotten her when she was out) & a dragonfly teething ring for little Robert.

Then, we stopped in the pet store for crickets. One of the workers had her monitor lizard there & got him out for us to pet. He was really neat. We visited the cats waiting to be adopted. I wish we could take each & every one of them home, but 4 cats is more than enough for this household. I always pray that they will find good forever homes very soon. We ran into the older sister of the boys' former babysitter & had a nice chat with her.

When we were done with our shopping, I stopped at the frozen custard stand on the way home. We sat in the sun & ate our treats. Boot got a butterfinger blizzard-like thing, Pie got the same in cookie dough flavor, & I got a hot fudge & caramel sundae. Decadent stop, but we had fun, which is what summer vacation is all about.

Once home, I had a chat with Rosemary. Robert, at 6 weeks, is already reaching out & grabbing for toys. He is so cool. He should love his new teether/rattle. I want to have them over for dinner soon. I need to have Keith & Evvi & Garnet over, too. Maybe when we come back from vacation, we can host a dinner party for our baby-bedecked friends. It's so much fun being an auntie.

I had the boys call their dad, then Boot & I played Disney TP for hours, having a ball. He is such a delight. Pie declined to join us...he is in loner mode this month. Poor Boot, it really hurts his feelings. He doesn't remember that he went through a similar thing when he was this age. J worked very late last night. I fed the kids dinner (garlic lime pork chops, new potatoes, & steamed green beans) & put them to bed. Then, I poked through the Gourmet cookbook until midnight when my exhausted wife came home. We had dinner, then went right to bed. And I wonder why I'm not losing weight faster!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Current Soundtrack of My Life

The Bride & Prejudice soundtrack

Ricky Martin's Vuelve

Big Lizard in my Backyard
by The Dead Milkmen

Love & Liberty by The Gipsy Kings

Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood soundtrack

Reading, Clothes, and Rude Customers

I spent a great deal of time yesterday reading. I finished The Language of Baklava & started The Divine Circle of Ladies Making Mischief. I also ran errands, picking up prescriptions, dropping off mail, exchanging camera batteries, buying groceries. I ended up buying some clothes at Target, too. My current purse has an ailing strap (plus J thinks it's too ugly), so I picked up a cute new Isaac Mizrahi one on sale. I also found a pair of silky white pjs with tiny black dots on them, a soft white tank top, & a wonderfully light lime-colored buttondown that reminds me of the colors & materials in Bride & Prejudice. I also picked up some bright green capris & a tan skirt with pink vintage-y flowers for J. She loves them both. I restrained myself from buying scads of underthings, sleep clothes, & jewelry. There is so much vintage-style stuff out these days. Drool!

When J got home, we all went out to Los Mariachis for dinner. One of the bus boys brought a dish of queso fundido to our table. We hadn't ordered it & said so. The people in the next booth started saying, really loudly & really rudely, "Hello! Hello! Over here!" & treated the guy like he was an idiot. I was furious!!! So, I commented really loudly about how rude that was to J & the boys. The people didn't even seem abashed at all. Stupid Americans with their vile sense of entitlement. I mean, not all Americans are like that, of course. But, that's how this country gets its bad reputation. Oh, my god, was I angry! But, our dinner was good & our waiter was kind.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

AC News

Well, not really yet, but we did have someone out for a second opinion yesterday. He thinks the first guy was just not interested in the job, so he made it sound like it was our fault. This guy says that the heat pump is simply old, that their usual life span is about 12 years. Ours is almost 30 years old. So, he is going to bat for us with the warranty company & with any luck, we will have air conditioning before long. It is hot & sticky here! Fingers & toes crossed on that one!

I spent much of the day doing nothing of consequence, although I did talk to Rachael & wish her a very happy birthday. She was on her way to a glam dinner out with a male friend. She sounds much happier than I've heard her sound in ages, and more at peace with herself. I think 50 is going to agree with her. She also announced that she will be staying in the DC area when her now-ex retires & moves away. I am sorry she won't be living closer, but I think if she can really get into the swing of life there, she'll be happy & it will be a great place for her to be. I also spent some time talking to Andy. He's having knee surgery tomorrow for a long-term problem. I am so glad he's finally getting something done about it. I did some writing, too.

For dinner, J grilled some sirloin burgers on the Jenn-Air. I had brie on mine, the boys chose American cheese (oh, I taught Boot how to make a grilled cheese sandwich yesterday at lunch), & J had colby-jack. With those, we had corn on the cob & broccoli. Simple & terrific food. I love summer. We had some great nectarines, too. J's dad gave each boy a bag of candy & fruit on Sunday. They each got nectarines, grapes, & apples along with the full-size candy bars. He sure loves his grandbabies.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Uppity Butterflies & Camp Pick-Up

Friday night, the Uppity Book Women came over for a discussion of In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. It's a wonderful book, set in the Dominican Republic, about sisters who were part of the resistance movement against Trujillo. J was very late getting home from work, so the food was very late getting ready (I was missing my fry cook!), but everyone was laughing & talking & it was just fine anyway. I made masitas (Cuban fried pork chunks), pastelitos, maduros, black beans & rice, and bread stuffed with avocado & prosciutto. I picked up some exotic drinks like mango juice & coconut water, as well as making lemonade & mojitos. It was Luanne's birthday, so I got a chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing for her & we all sang happy birthday. Beth was very upset by the book. She felt frustrated that those women fought & sacrificed for nothing more than the children & grandchildren having fancy houses in the mountains. Not all of us felt like that, though. I think she gets a whole lot of negative energy working at the base like she does. It must be really hard. To me, it seems as though they actually won a great victory. Sure, life in the DR isn't perfect now, but where is it? I would never say that Dr. King's sacrifice was for nothing. Also in attendance were Laura, Kat, & Lilith. Laura & Brendan are in vacation in Canada as of yesterday, staying at a b&b that provides a massage every day & sea kayaking lessons. I am so jealous! Lilith's birthday is Wednesday & she is planning a party for next weekend, so we're looking forward to that.

Saturday morning, we arose bright & early to pick the boys up from camp. Pie managed to get a bad case of poison ivy because he wasn't willing to listen to the counselors when they told him to wear long pants on a particular hike. Ah, well, lots of oatmeal baths & anti-itch gel will keep him sane until it's run its course. He was a little pouty because he got picked on by some mean kids during the week. He is so quiet & so much like me a lot of the time that this doesn't surprise me. I wish that kind of crap would get bred out of kids, though. I felt bad for him because I have been there. But, I also know that I did have enough fun at camp that I wanted to go back. So did he, thank god. He loved swimming & archery the best. Oh, and cage ball. So did Boot. Both of them did arts & crafts, too. They painted plaster masks & made gourd birdhouses. Boot has decided that when he is older, he wants to be part of the summer staff, be a lifeguard & teach archery there. I am so happy that he feels that way.

The kids just wanted to flop. J tried to talk them into swimming or going to the Batman movie or even renting videos, but they simply wanted to head home. We did stop for a mediocre lunch at O'Charley's, but then we did flop at home. J dozed on the couch while I read & worked on Rachael's birthday gift. I hope she'll like it. Her birthday is today & I need to call her. We ordered pizza & subs for dinner, so it was truly a lazy, laid-back day. J wanted to talk the kids into going to Coldstone Creamery, but had no luck at all. Imagine, kids refusing offers like that!

Sunday, we went to Sunday school & church. In Sunday school, we talked about the difference in the liberal/conservative spectrum between clergy & congregations (congregations tending to be more conservative). The sermon was about Abraham & Isaac on the mountain. After church, Pie informed us that he thinks that God put the ram in the bush for Abraham to sacrifice. He is so sweet. He also drew a picture about everyone being at peace & having no more war, illness, or pain. It was lovely & he even drew in an alien as part of the everyone. Beth was missing an usher, so I filled in. We had a very quick coffee hour so that we could get down to Cincinnati & back. My grands told me they're leaving for Vermont on Wednesday morning. I had planned on making them dinner on Thursday, but I guess we'll have to wait until after their trip. They haven't decided when they're coming back yet. I hope they have a wonderful time & uneventful travel.

We stopped at Uno's for pizza on the way down to visit J's mom. Her aunt Joy was there & her dad came over when we called him. He & I ended up arguing politics. He thinks my liberal views are just dumb. I am not willing to just keep my mouth shut, although that would probably be the prudent thing to do. He told me that I'd probably be happy if Mao Tse Tung was resurrected, then I could have my ideal. But, I am aware that he is a sad, ill old man & I feel more sorry for him than anything. And, frankly, his opinion on Howard Dean doesn't challenge me a bit. although Dean is probably a bit conservative for my taste. I like Kucinich, of all the 2004 candidates, the best.

After our visit, we went to the first movie night at church. J & I took a blanket & pillows to relax on. I think getting the LCD projector was such a good idea (yay, Brendan!) & the turn-out for the first movie night was good, especially considering it's summer. We showed The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe & about 25 people showed up. Success, sweet success! We hung around afterward to help clean up, then came home & had picadillo scrambled eggs for dinner before heading to bed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Getting Things Accomplished

That is the theme of this week. I am currently typing at a new desk that I put together all by myself. Monday, I spent time polishing my review, finishing the collage for the church directory, and doing some housecleaning. J wanted me to wait to go to the grocery until she go home from work, always more spendy but also much more fun! We had a grand time picking things out.

Once we got home, we fixed dinner together. We had pecan-crusted catfish with squash (both zucchini & yellow summer squash) and peppers (red & orange), citrus-clad asparagus (which was too cayenne-spiked for J), and rosemary biscuits. I have the hardest time making my dough unsticky enough to cut the biscuits out, so I always end up making drop biscuits. They aren't as pretty, but they sure do taste good.

Yesterday, the A/C guy called early in the morning. He came at just the time of my WW meeting, so I missed that. He is also of the opinion that our unit is not salvageable & that we may as well buy a new one. I had him send a letter to the home warranty people because he didn't think maintenance had anything to do with its demise. So, with any luck, they'll cover it. That would certainly be less stressful. The good news is that this place will work with us on a payment program so we don't have to cough all that up at once if the warranty place won't pay.

I took lunch to J at work. We sat in her office & ate whole wheat baguette with smoked salmon & herbed cream cheese. We also had some Vermont extra-sharp cheddar & pluots. They were sweet & very juicy, so much so that we both got juice on our shirts. The whole lunch, people were in & out of the office. One of these days, I am going to drag her out for lunch somewhere nice.

After our visit, I went to Target to check out the shelves & to get birthday gifts for Liz, who'll be 50 next week. I can't wait to hear what she thinks of them, but I won't post about them here in case she's reading this. They are all about celebrating her fabulousness. I hope she will. I know 50 might be a tough one for her...she didn't take 40 well & things in her life are a little topsy-turvy right now.

I picked up a book Boot had ordered for his friend (and a Frappuccino, which I promptly spilled on top of the plum juice), then went to get my desk. I also found a small bookshelf for only $13. Then, I made my way home & started to work on putting together the desk. I sweated & cussed & got it mostly together yesterday. Then, J got home from work & we went to dinner.

We chose C'est Tout to celebrate the first day of summer. I had invited Laura & Brendan to come along, but they are busy getting ready for vacation (going to Canada for 2 weeks...Brendan mentioned some kayaking on the lake). It was delicious! I had been a touch disappointed in my main course the previous visit, so I was happy this meal was so great. For my appetizer, I had a wonderful salad of julienned Belgian endive & beets, with roasted pear, walnuts, & roquefort cheese, all tossed with a vinaigrette. J had a crab cocktail, big hunks of meltingly tender crab with a slightly tangy sauce & little frills of garnish veggies. I chose the coq au vin for my main course & regretted it not one whit. J had steak with béarnaise sauce, served with hand-cut fries. For dessert, we split the trio of chocolate mousses. Then, we drove home, happy & full. J was astounded that the drive home took less than half an hour and commented that she needs to get out more, especially if it doesn't take that long to get places. I heartily agree. I can never figure out why she objects so strongly to going anywhere out of town on a work night. It's good for debriefing.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Family "Beach Vacation" in Sandusky

My aunt Jeanie is such a sweetie. She has been dying to have the family gather at the beach. The two of us think it would be glorious to rent a beach house somewhere fabulous (and warm, she insists, living in Vermont as she does) & all hang out for a week. But, our family has always just gotten together at my grands' or at Vivi's or at our place. So, there is no family travel tradition in place. Jeanie thinks that if we ease people into it, we'll someday be able to do Sanibel or something. So, she sent out a letter several months ago suggesting that we maybe meet in Sandusky & that the weekend of June 17th, 18th, & 19th would be the most convenient for her.

So, that was the weekend. After the boys' father picked them up (and grunted at J when she gave him, through a barely cracked window, all the info he had requested about their summer camp & meds needs while with him later this summer), we headed out to dinner with J's new boss. He had invited all the managers & their spouses out to dinner at Derr Road Inn, so we had to do that before heading up North. It was actually fairly fun, as we sat at the end of the table with David & Kerri, with whom we actually socialize on purpose. Kerri adored my new haircut & J's little green skirt & cami outfit. J says she needs to get more little skirt outfits. I am tempted to go to Banana Republic this week & get her that darling yellow silk outfit.

Kerri, looking at the menu, asked if it was bad to get the most expensive thing on the menu when the boss is paying. I said, "I have no idea, but if you order it, I will, too" since I was considering it as well. So, we both had steak. J had mahi mahi, which was good even if they did forget her fruit salsa. We were all seated at long tables outside, with a cover band doing a lot of Van Morrison, Santana, and beach songs. To our horror, they also did a number of things like "The Lady in Red". But, it was lovely being outside on a June evening. Being in the middle of cornfields like we were, I started flashing back to John & Nola's wedding reception. What fun that was! After dinner, we stopped to feed the deer. A young velvety-antlered buck ate from my hand. How tickly their tongues are! J got to touch his soft antlers & I am jealous! We also made plans to go up to Columbus for David & Kerri's 4th of July party on the 3rd.

On the way home, we called my grands' house to see if my mom had arrived. She had, but we all figured that it would be smart to get a good night's sleep before the road trip in the morning. So, we drove through Frisch's on the way home & got hot fudge cake. We ate it on the couch, then shuffled off to bed. I am sure my weigh in will not be a happy occasion tomorrow! But, it was good.

Saturday, J woke up feeling amorous, so we didn't even get out of bed until after 10, when we should have been on the road. Oh, well, it was worth it. Once dressed, we picked up my once-again-air-conditioned car & got breakfast. Brendan had been raving to me about how good The Original Pancake House is. He was not exaggerating. It was terrific (and worth the extra time not on the road). J had pecan waffles & scrambled eggs with cheese. I had eggs Michael(English muffins with sausage patties, over-medium eggs, and sherried mushroom sauce) with potato pancakes on the side. I couldn't finish it all, but it sure was tasty. Their orange juice is a wonderful shade of rich, deep orange, just squeezed that morning. Their whipped cream is real, as is their coffee cream. Our service was excellent (we, in fact, summoned the manager to compliment our server) & the atmosphere was pleasant, despite the Kandinsky prints.

Once we got underway, I expected the trip to go quickly. It did, in fact, until we hit a detour that took us about an hour out of our way. J swears we passed the same Amish folks selling the same baskets, bread, and honey several times. However, we did not. It was extremely frustrating, though. The highlight of the detour was when we stopped at a rest area & they had dug toilets with no doors between them & the main door. Interesting. Glad I'm not very modest.

Once we got to Sandusky, we talked to Jeanie & my oldest uncle, Victor, arranging to meet them at our hotel so that we could all caravan to dinner. We checked in to the hotel. I was somewhat appalled. It looked like a slum hotel, with all kinds of questionable people roaming the parking lot and shabby-looking buildings housing 30-something lanes of bowling, a sports bar, and off-track betting. Yee-haa! Why, oh why, did I cave & stay where my grands had decided to stay. Victor & Nyoko had also opted to stay there & Vic told me, "It's a two-star". Unfortunately, the price wasn't...I ended up haggling with the front desk supervisor over the price Sunday morning because they were trying to charge me $132 with the coupon when I'd been quoted $116, which was still too much. I'm sorry, but I don't pay that kind of money for a crappy Quality Inn. Aside from the overall feel of desperation there (and, really, throughout Sandusky), the hall reeked of mildew, there was mold in the tub, the room was small & ugly, the walls were dented & dinged, and the room my grands were first put in hadn't even been cleaned. Yuck! Had the other family members not been staying there, J & I would have checked out & gone to stay with Andrew & Anne in Cleveland for the duration.

Anyway, enough griping! We rode with Vic & Nyoko, my mom & grands following, to the Angry Trout for dinner. Andrew & Anne were already there waiting. Jeanie & the kids got very lost & ended up arriving much later. The restaurant was right on the water, just lovely. Anne was finishing off an order of crab cakes & Andrew some mussels when we arrived. J had preceded me inside, while I talked with the grands & my mom outside. As I sat down, a waiter brought me an amaretto sour. J & I ordered feta & olive bruschetta (not so great & the bread hadn't even been toasted beyond adding some grill marks) & salt & vinegar chips (with an amazing fresh garlic sauce) for the table, things my vegetarian mom can eat, thinking we were paying. J ordered steak & crab, still thinking we were paying. I ordered a fish & shrimp platter & a chocolate raspberry martini. Only at the end of the meal did we find that Andrew & Anne had already arranged to pick up the bill! Argh! It was a wonderful meal, with wonderful company. We are planning to send Andrew & Anne some kind of thank you gift for the dinner, maybe some fabulous picture frames for their front wall. My mom went to spend the night with them while the rest of us headed back to our hotels. Jeanie & the kids were staying at The Sandcastle Suites & I envisioned her in luxe accomodations & wished I had coughed up the $250 to stay there.

In the morning, we had the free "continental" breakfast (it was more than toast & doughnuts, though) in the sports bar with the grands, Jeanie, Vic, & Nyoko. I took some of my reviews for them to read over breakfast and gave Jeanie the books I'd been saving for her. After breakfast, we checked out. The car next to us & the one in front of that had each had 2 tires slashed in the night...glad it wasn't ours!

We all headed over to the Sandcastle for the day. I found out that it wasn't so luxe after all. The suite was horribly cramped & it wasn't all that great. I guess I'm a snob, but if I'm going to pay that much, I expect something really nice. If I'd thought about it, I would have booked us a room at Great Wolf Lodge. Oh, well. We had a fantastic time visiting by the pool. It was next to the lake, so we could watch the boats go by & the seagulls wheel overhead. Nyoko had brought some Japanese cooking/lifestyle magazines for us to see. They were really interesting. When my mom & Andrew arrived (Anne was cooking spaghetti for her dad), Jeanie, J, my mom, & I went up to the room to rouse teenagers from bed & to change. J loaned my mom her swimsuit so she could swim with us. It was too large, but at least she could come in. She loves swimming but never gets to go.

The teenagers were of quite good cheer for being roused before noon. Chance, Leah's friend, had been awake for awhile, so I think he was happy to have the slug-a-beds awakened. The pool was nice, if not the cleanest. Vic & Nyoko, Andrew, & my grands visited at the tables while we swam. Aaron even joined in...I think he is getting over his not-talking thing now that he's 18.

In the pool, we got to giggling about being the Sisterhood of the Traveling Swimsuit. My mom is now Sister Baggy Legholes, J is Sister No-Butt (her suit butts have a way of wearing out due to water slide excursions), Jeanie is Sister Suit with Great Big Flowers That Looks Like Someone's Grandma Owns It (long story connected to J's loss of suit butt at King's Island once), and I dubbed myself Sister Cuban Ass. We also got giggly about how dirty the sides of the pool were. I cannot imagine paying $250 a night for a hotel with dirty pool walls. I think I just don't like Sandusky's energy.

After some swimming, we got changed & all went to lunch at the hotel restaurant. Vic's comment to me afterward was that if he were reviewing it, he'd say it had nice architecture. Actually, the Caesar salad was terrific, but the service was abysmal (he was trying, but I think the size of the group was too much for him) & the food merely okay (J's & my black & bleu burgers had NO bleu cheese...harrumph). Vic & Nyoko picked up that tab, so The Giving War is officially started. I sound awfully complain-y about quality & service, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good weekend. We had a such a grand time visiting with everyone...and making plans for future visits...that the service/quality issues didn't even matter. I guess I should probably edit them out, but I'm not going to. Aaron is going to drive back to Ohio with the grands when they come home from a Vermont visit & stay until Jeanie & Leah come in August. We'll be spending my birthday week in West Virginia doing art camp with my mom. And we plan to have a long weekend in Cleveland maybe in August.

Too soon, the time to meet the boys arrived. Their father had deigned to meet us in Sandusky rather than driving to our place, saving him about 8 hours in the car. Was he grateful or even pleasant? Are you kidding??? Oh, well, his must be a sad little life.

We drove south & took the boys to camp, with a stop at McDonald's for dinner. Pie was so ecstatic at seeing his counselor & Jason (who is in his tent) that he ran off with them without even saying goodbye! I am sure he will have an absolute blast this week! Boot was a little less enthusiastic because Mark was sick & wouldn't arrive until today, but he, too, got swept into the activity of camp right off. I hope his week is wonderful, too. I think having friends there & a science track will make it more fun than it was last year. Having 4 tents of boys should help, too. Last year, there were only 7 boys altogether!

We drove home in the dark & made plans for our week...relaxing in the hammock is on the schedule for tonight. I'm going to make pecan-crusted catfish & we'll eat on the deck. For now, I need to clean house, work on a collage, & polish up my review.

Friday, June 17, 2005

An Offer & A/C Issues

Yesterday was mostly a getting-stuff-done-around-the-house day, and most especially a getting-the-kids-ready-for-camp day. I did a bunch of laundry & some micromanaging. LOL! Lunch was a fabulous sub at Ha Ha's, with some interesting people-watching. Then, it was back home to meet the air conditioning guy. It looks like we may have to get the whole system replaced, but we are seeking a second opinion because what the guy said didn't make sense to us at all. I certainly hope we can somehow find a way just to replace the compressor. Or something.

J & I met the buyer for our house yesterday evening, to accept his offer. It will be great to have this out of our hair. After that, we gathered the chicken I had marinated with a rosemary soy mixture, baked potatoes, and some veggies & dip (paprika & Worcestershire-based) to go feed my grands. We had a fun dinner with them & my grandmom made homemade strawberry shortcake with locally-grown strawberries. She loves it when they come into season here. Me, too! Soon, they'll be able to stop at the farm stand on the way home & get corn & tomatoes. When those are in season, it's about all they eat! It's on the way home, one of the ways to go, from my WW meeting, so I expect I'll be stopping often, as well.

This morning, after J went to work, I cleaned out the car & took it to the dealership for an oil change & A/C fixing. My grands were kind enough to meet me there & give me a ride home. They stopped in for coffee, then went on their way. I wish we could go over there tonight. My mom's coming to town & I'd love the extra time with her. However, we are being taken to dinner by the new plant manager, along with the other managers & their spouses. I need to figure out what to wear. I'm going to ride my bike up to the salon & get my hair cut & brows done in a few minutes.

I have spent the bulk of today doing laundry & making sure the bitties have everything they need for camp. Exciting, eh? But, they are so cute & so much fun to spend time with that it's all good. They have been immersed in working on a cat puzzle for the past couple of days. Every time I look in on them, they are even farther along. They really have a talent for puzzles. They want a two-sided Star Wars one next. Will have to find it for them while they're at camp.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Martinis & Jazz

Yesterday morning, I went to Bible study. I would have backed out when I saw that Brendan's car wasn't there, but my grands arrived at the same time as me. So, I went on in & submitted to a substitute leader. It turned out to be a very difficult passage for someone other than Brendan to be handling. It was about Abraham making Hagar & Ishmael leave. One fella, who used to go to the Assembly of God church & often shows it, asked why God would have created the two lines when He knew they would fight. My answer was that He must have hoped we humans wouldn't behave with our standard folly. People were wondering right & left if we were supposed to either convert or get rid of the Muslims. It drove me CRAZY. What is wrong with these people? Jesus taught us "love your neighbor" & I am sure that didn't mean "love your neighbor only if he believes as you do". Sure, we can live our lives as examples of what Christ's teaching means to us, but that doesn't mean condemning other folks for believing a different way. To me, Allah, Yahweh, Brahma, The Great Spirit, Goddess, all those names refer to the one god. Maybe God has different aspects, but I don't believe the Muslims are worshipping some different god. Besides, Yahweh said that he was also blessing Ishmael & the nation that would come from him. WHY do all these groups have to insist that their way is the only right way. How do they KNOW that? Very frustrating. When I told the UBW gals about it, Kat said, "Well, I'm married to a Buddhist". Just plain wrong to be so all-fired-sure that everyone else is going to hell. All of us are appalled at the ignorance. Laura said that Brendan came home from Bible study one time telling her about the debate over women in church leadership that day. He said, "One woman was avowing that women have no place in leadership roles & should be subservient to men while another was talking about Goddess theology". Laura said, "Well, I can guess who that was!" Although, I didn't really say "Goddess"...I used the more acceptable "The Feminine Divine".

I also take exception to the fact that Hagar was forced to be with Abraham & bear his child. Who knows if she even wanted to? It's not like she had a choice. Sarah OWNED her & gave her to Abraham as his "wife". Then, when Sarah got jealous, she had her kicked out. That's just wrong all around. And what is the definition of the adultery thou shalt not commit, anyway? Seems to me that Abraham should have gone straight to hell for having relations with Hagar. Of course, I'm looking at it from a modern perspective & marriage is a very different thing now. That kind of thinking could lead me right into a rant on the whole "sanctity of marriage" thing, but I am not going there today.

After Bible study, the grands took me & the boys out for Chinese. Vita & Maggie were there & I gave them some of our shrimp toast. It was nice to get to spend time with the grands, but the boys were kind of wild (no meds yet) and took a great deal of my attention. I spent the afternoon getting my financial aid squared away & looking at catalogs. My grandmom had wanted us to go through the Betty Crocker, so I obliged.

J & I went out last night for "martinis & jazz" night with some folks from church. Beth & Kat & Laura & Lauren were there. We had an uproariously good time, despite the fact that only Laura had a martini & the usual jazz singer wasn't there. With as delayed as J was getting home from work (she was getting chewed out by her boss, who has been on a big "women are so emotional & men take responsibility & get things done" rant this week...yesterday, she pissed him off by asking him if he was saying the supervisors suck, to which he responded that if she said "suck" again, they were "going to have a problem"), we got there just as the rest of them were getting ready to pay & leave. They stayed another couple hours with us, though, and we had a blast. Kat was telling us about the time she was in college & one of her vegetarian roommates said to another, "You can just smell a carnivore" in Kat's presence at the dinner table (after Kat had offered to cook her meat in entirely separate pans, use different dishes, & wash them with a different sponge). Beth's comment, "Well, you can smell an asshole, too", cracked us all up. We were, without a doubt, the rowdiest group there. And I have no doubt that we had the most fun, as well. J & I split the bruschetta & the spanakopita appetizers for our dinner. I indulged in a cosmo, too. I had on my tiara & everyone thought I needed a pink drink to go with it, although reading about vodka & lemonade on another blog yesterday made me want that!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Showing the House

Monday morning, I was up bright & early to show the house to two potential buyers. The first set was a couple with 2 daughters. They would like to buy it & fix it up, but aren't sure about financing. Since we want to sell it ASAP, we will most likely not be selling to them. I found it interesting that they were much more in-depth in terms of checking out the house than the investors have been. I guess if you're just going to fix it up & unload it as soon as you can, it doesn't really matter or something. The next guy, an investor, treated me like a serf & pissed me off. So, he is out of the running unless he offers at least $25,000 over what we're asking. I am fairly certain we'll sell it to the first guy who saw it. He had the bank going through for an appraisal today. He has agreed to pay us what we're asking plus the back rent the tenants didn't pay...hope that doesn't change after the appraisal. We're supposed to meet him tonight to sign the contract.

I was polishing my review when I saw a black truck driving through the yard. I was astonished until I saw my lawn furniture in the back & realized it was John bringing it over from our grandparents'. He & I had a nice visit before he had to leave to close on a house. I'm glad he & Nola are coming to the reunion this weekend.

After I finished my review, I wrote 4 chapters for the cookbook I have just started. I think it's really a neat concept & I hope a publishing company does, too. I should be able to get it finished over the summer & send it in.

We had Cuban fried chicken for dinner, along with fried potatoes & calabacitas. After dinner & getting the boys to bed, J & I went out & lay down in the yard. We watched the fireflies & listened to the crickets & admired the moon. How relaxing!

Yesterday was my WW day. I lost 3.8 pounds & I am very pleased with that. Still a long way to go, but I am moving in the right direction. Afterward, I took lunch to J (sandwiches from Current Cuisine) & picked up McDonald's for the bitties. Much of the rest of the day was spent supervising Pie's massive undertaking of cleaning his bedroom. Wow, what a mess! Luckily, his brother pitched in & they made huge progress. He is working on his closet now. Oy vey, the Lego sounds!

The boys went over to Jason & Mark's to play for the evening. J & I had Welsh Rarebit on English muffins, with lima beans & peaches on the side, for dinner. She'd never had Welsh rarebit & was skeptical of it, but ended up liking it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Winding Down the Weekend

Well, for J, Saturday was the weekend. But, for me, it included Sunday as well. I had fried chicken, a green salad, & my grandmom's fabulous potato salad (I think the trick is using mustard & celery seeds) for lunch out there. We watched squirrels, chipmunks, a groundhog, and all kinds of birds. There were some little woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, finches, and I even got to see my first indigo bunting. It was a stunningly gorgeous blue.

When I knew J was returning home from work, I headed home, too. We drove around some more looking for the bikes, then stopped in the local Mexican restaurant for a drink. Unfortunately, they have no Sunday license, so no daiquiri for me, no cerveza for J. We got Coke & iced tea, along with a snack that turned out to be dinner. We split a changa & a cheese quesadilla. Neither of us had ever had a changa, but it was delicious.

The kids took the news of their stolen bikes remarkably well, thank goodness. No tears or rage, just some laughter about how dumb the thieves were to risk stealing bikes from a garage with a car in it in the middle of the day. I sure hope they get caught, though.

Pie & J sprawled on the couch together to watch cartoons (Teen Titans & Juniper Lee) while Boot chose to watch in his room. I set up the laptop in the living room & did an outline for a cookbook I just got the idea for. I think it's going to be really good...and even has a decent chance of publication once I finish it. I am going to start today after I finish polishing my review.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

What a Crazy Month

This weekend has been full of oddities, swinging wildly from stress to relief to stress again. Friday night, since we are watching our budget, we had appetizers out, but not dinner. We stopped by Nick's for some fried cauliflower while we tried to decide what to do about dinner. Then, we went out to the house my cousin is renovating. He wasn't there, but we were able to peek in the windows & everything he said about how fabulous it is appeared to be true.

Since we were so close to my grandparents', we stopped in there to visit for awhile. My grandmom invited us to dinner. It smelled great (sausage & sweet potatoes), but we chose to head on home. We ate big bowls of cereal for dinner and watched Bar Girls, which is one of the very worst lesbian movies I have seen. I have seen plenty of unedifying dyke film dreck, but this is particularly dreadful...makes the gals on The L-Word look like positive mavens of moral scruples. J & I cannot for the life of us figure out why people don't just make lovely movies like How To Make an American Quilt or Sleepless in Seattle or Notting Hill where the love interests both happen to be female but don't happen to be amoral, drama-laden barflies. Ugh! It would be nice to see lesbian romance movies that are neither prurient nor specifically about lesbianism. Ah, well.

Saturday morning, we went to the rental & did a bit of cleaning before meeting with a potential buyer. I cannot say enough how unbelievably trashy our renters were. A neighbor came over & offered her & her fiancé's services for repairs and cleaning, as well as grass maintenance. She also offered to buy the pool & deal with the removal. She paid us what we asked & that's one less thing we have to worry about. The potential buyer is interested, so we need to see what kind of contract he draws up & then have our attorney look over it. We also will be checking him out with the BBB & the state attorney general's office before signing anything. He sounds like everything is aboveboard, but it's best to be sure. I would love to get it off our hands pronto, but I don't want to get ripped off.

After showing him through the house, we had lunch at The Blueberry Café, our first visit & certainly not our last. It is lovely inside & the food is wonderful. J had scrambled eggs with cheese, a pecan waffle, & bacon. I chose the chicken club quiche with a wedge of iceberg topped with blue cheese, bacon, & bleu cheese dressing. We each had a mimosa & I also got to try bubble tea for the first time. It's interesting & surprisingly good. I first heard about it from my cousin Leah, who an enthusiast of all things related to anime or Japanese pop culture. It turns out, at least in this rendition, to be somewhat tropical-tasting fizzy fruit juice/soda with a layer of large black tapioca pearls at the bottom. I quite liked it & would order it again. J was a little iffy about the tapioca, but liked it otherwise.

After lunch, we got to actually go through John's house. It is stunningly gorgeous, filled with light. If there were any way we could buy it, we would. We were both quite taken with it & have been fantasizing about winning the lottery ever since. It would help to actually play the lottery, of course.

We stopped by home briefly, then headed out to the Street Fair. It was a great deal of fun, although the heat & humidity were wilting. Great people-watching. Unfortunately, when we returned home, we discovered that someone had made off with the boys' bikes, as well as J's. They took them out the side garage door. Damn! We are relatively certain it was kids because they left some other stuff that might've been more enticing, like a 6-pack of beer. So, we spent the next several hours filing a report with the police (Aaron's dad was the officer who responded, so that was nice) & driving around town looking for the bikes. No luck, so we had dinner at Bob Evans, then came home to bed. We are seriously dreading telling the boys about their bikes. With any luck, the kids will be forced by their folks to return the bikes. But, I expect they are just gone. More cash outlay...yippee. May karma be swift. I know, I know, turn the other cheek. But, still I say, may karma be swift.

J went in to work this morning at 6 & I went to church & Sunday School. I was the lector & also the Program & Worship representative to recognize the graduates. I hung out with Beth & Kat at coffee hour, chit-chatting. Laura joined us & reiterated the invite to jazz & martini night this week. She & Brendan also told me about a new Thai place that sounds good. Now I'm hungry for Pad Thai. But, I am supposed to go to my grands' for lunch, so I should sign off.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Love Our Thursday Dinners

The daytime hours yesterday didn't bring much of interest. I spent much of the time trying to find a way to sell this house quickly. God, I hope we get some kind of bite soon...and not one that will rip us off. I also got groceries & read a little of Elizabeth Berg's The Year of Pleasures. She is such a great writer. I have the utmost respect for her work & I devour her books as soon as I can get ahold of them. I also spoke to Brendan again. He wants me to write the prayer of illumnation for Sunday, says I'm gonna have to do it anyway, so I might as well have practice. He gave me a couple of guidelines & apologized for not using a reading that doesn't have gender-specific language. I let him know that it doesn't bother me. I find it sweet that it matters to him, but I know that God knows who we're talking about no matter the gender. Just as I don't spell woman "womyn", I generally just go ahead & use the male pronoun for God when it turns up. I know in my heart that God has no gender...or is all it doesn't bug me.

Boot went to Aaron's birthday party yesterday afternoon. They all went to see the Star Wars movie again, then they were going to hang out at Aaron's & swim, with spending the night a possibility. He did end up spending the night. I hope he had a grand time! Summer is a wonderful time for boys. Pie delighted in being able to play video games all day. I tried to get him to cook with me, but summer vacation is summer vacation. I may wrench him away from the games one of these days, but in the very first week, I think kids should be able to make their own choices about what kinds of things they want to do. Me, I was at the pool all summer when I was a kid. I plan to drag them to the lake or pool next week. I have also promised Pie that we'll go to a different library each week. He's thrilled!

We had a wonderful dinner visit! I made a sausage & cheese quiche, some steamed broccoli, & a walnut-crumble pear tart, while my grandmom made a salad. Boy, did the sliced radishes in it taste good to me. I don't often buy radishes & I don't know why. I love to snack on them, ever since I discovered I liked them in that restaurant in Florida when I was a kid. The owner or chef found out I had eaten them & sent a large bag home with us. What a wonderful gift for a kid! What a kind restauranteur!

Dinner got interesting (well, more interesting) when the bee guy showed up. Because he needed dark & quiet, we couldn't leave until he was done. My granddad, at 86, was out there climbing around on the roof in the dark with him, or so my grandmom & I assumed. We never asked. Better not to know for sure. J went & napped on the couch, with Pie perched atop her watching cartoons & dozing. My grandmom & I had a great visit. She showed me the spoon collection that belonged to Grandma Sarah. I didn't even know about them, but they are lovely sterling pieces. There are some with her maiden name monogram & engraved '09 (my grandmom thinks they may have been a graduation gift), some that are souvenir spoons fancier than any I've ever seen (one from Coe College, one from Omaha, one from Texas, and one from Belgium), and some with elegant floral engravings. I find all those old serving pieces & linens & such so much more gracious than what we have today. There is a lot of nice stuff out there, but it's just not the same. Life has changed & while we have gained a great deal (like air conditioning & the vote for women), we have also lost an immense amount. I want to start collecting old china, linens, & silver...and using them! I love the few pieces I have.

When we got home, we found our raccoon perched atop the trash can, having a feast! I honked & it looked up at us with shiny, inquisitive eyes. I honked again & started to drive into the garage & it ran away. We found that it had eaten egg leavings, a little salad, and had started on the chocolate-covered cherries discarded by the boys. That raccoon has a sweet tooth! Pie was delighted with seeing it...he said, "I saw my first raccoon & my first hummingbird today!" We were delighted, too, although I made a note to myself to always close the garage door at night! We also saw 2 deer on the way home.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hot, Sticky Summer Is Here

Ugh! I finally gave in & turned on the air conditioning Tuesday night. It's cooler than outside, but still hotter than it should be. I am hoping I remember correctly that it usually takes it a few days, but I am worried that we'll have to have it serviced. More money going out...

I haven't gotten a lot accomplished over the past couple of days. Feeling overwhelmed always slows my wheels. Tuesday, J unexpectedly came home for lunch. The day was not going well & I guess she just needed a hit of real life. I fed her a ham sandwich & a Coke & let her know how much I love her. I guess that enabled her to make it through the rest of the day. She was still a bit teary when she got home, but Boot cheered her up by playing Scene It with her. I fed her a batch of good tricolor cheese tortellini mixed with chicken & garlic ravioli, with plenty of marinara sauce.

We had a fun after-dinner sighting of a big raccoon...same raccoon later got into the garage & ate some bubble gum after leaving little hand prints all over J's car. J plans not to wash the car & says she'll be sad when it rains. The little prints are adorable.

I have been talking on the phone a lot more than usual, actually talking to people I think about a lot. My mom called Tuesday night with her portion of the new dream list (and advice not to agree to stay with the rocks in our geode dream no matter how sweetly they ask). We had a great talk & I can't wait to see her next weekend. We probably won't get much of a visit with the whole family swarming around, but it's better than nothing & we have a week in July coming up.

Yesterday, my cousin John called me back about the house. He can't buy anything more until he sells the really nice house on our grandparents' road. He wants me to come look at it Friday. Corian countertops, bamboo hardwood floors, jacuzzi tub in the master suite. Man, do I want that house!!! It's got a little lake. But, we don't have the money to do that kind of thing, unless he's willing to rent to own. LOL! Last night, J said, "That's the kind of house I should be living in". Not that we don't love our's a wonderful place...but we don't have the cash to do those kinds of updates & they would be nice. Anyway, John said that he & Nola just work all the time. His crew is working on Charlie & Ann's bathroom redo the hell do my cousins get the money to do all this stuff? I know they're not drug dealers. John & Nola will be at the family reunion, but I doubt Charlie & Ann will.

Then, I called my aunt Jeanie, who was in the middle of filling out her son Aaron's college application. I don't really get why she's doing it & not him. Anyway, we had a good talk. Despite our political differences, it's always really good to talk to her. When she moves down here, I hope she'll be part of the book group. Jeanie will be done with her Master's in August. I'm really proud of her. Can't wait to see her & Aaron & Leah next weekend!

Other doings have mostly been errands & my usual Wednesday stuff. Bible study was a lot of fun. We talked about the announcement that Sarah will bear a child & about her laughing over the idea of having sexual pleasure when she was so old. Brendan was saying how very earthy the Hebrew is & had us read several different translations to see the way they all dance around the sexual reference. He pointed out how great it is that this passage is so earthy & funny & very human. We also talked a lot about how so many stories in Genesis are repeated, and differently. People seem to have a really hard time remembering that we are dealing with very old oral tradition here. I'm looking forward to my OT class next fall.

After Bible study, Brendan took us upstairs to see the new LCD projector. All kinds of possibilities with that! I hope he'll do his Tolkien lecture series next fall. Sounds like Laura has a lot of interesting adult ed ideas, too. Brendan also took me aside to give me some tips on what kinds of things to study in seminary to make myself more attractive to congregations when I get out. He told me that even if I'm not a fully ordained Minister of the Word & Sacrament, there is much I can do, from counseling to academia to chaplaincy to other church leadership positions like CE.

The grands & I had lunch at The Bob. The little boys didn't want to get dressed & go out, so I allowed them to stay, since we were not going far & not going to be gone long. Of course, they are old enough to stay home, but I am overprotective. My grands marvel at how strict John & I both are with kids, when we had very lax upbringings. J had a not at all lax upbringing & she is pretty strict, too...not so much as I am, but enough.

After lunch, I took the boys to the bookstore to get a gift for Boot's friend's birthday. Then, we went to the rental house to do a final inspection. Against my most fervent hopes, not only did they not repair anything at all, but they didn't even clean & left all kinds of crap everywhere. There was old food on the counter (which I should go toss out) & in pans, a dirty catbox, a broken recliner, a full waterbed...I can't believe the squalor in which those people lived. I am not cut out to be a landlord & I hope we can sell the house fast & easy. The boys were had once been their home, after all. They also can't believe how people could be so trashy. Good! I never want them to think that kind of thing is acceptable.

Brendan called me yesterday evening to berate me for not turning in receipts earlier & to let me know that everything I do at church is very much appreciated. He told me not to worry about the bulletin boards & said I worry too much. He also told me that studying at seminary is equally important work & I should never downplay it or feel like I'm not doing anything of worth. It was really good to talk to him, to the point where I just wanted to run over to the church & fling myself, sobbing, into his arms. He would make a good big brother.

I made steak for Pie's choice for dinner. I put Paula Deen's lemon butter on it (luscious) & made Pie's requested peas & sweet cooked carrots. J was rhapsodizing over the carrots, saying they were perfect. I didn't even try them...I think they're an abomination! But, the people who like such things really liked them.

Today, I am trying to keep myself in "Everything will be okay" mode. It's been decided that I probably shouldn't, for money's sake, go to California with J in a couple weeks. I don't think my mom will even be home while J is gone, so I can't go down & visit her. Sigh. Now, I need to get to work on getting rid of that monkey of a house that rests so heavily on our backs.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Garage Door Tribulations

I got up at 6:30 yesterday morning to see if I could release J's car from the bondage of the garage. After much climbing, rattling, wrenching, hammering, & cussing, I found I was unable to accomplish that task. So, we both climbed back into bed to await the door people's call. Once the guy arrived, he took one look and said, "Wow, that's a really old one" & informed me that they don't even work on those. However, he was willing to take a look. He plugged it back in & tried it & it worked. Argh! He said that it may or may not keep working, but kindly showed me the nondescript metal piece that is our ticket out should the opener jam again. He said there should be a cord on it & advised me to attach one. He lubricated the mechanisms & said he wouldn't charge us right away, giving us time to decide if we want just to put in a whole new system. It's cheaper than I expected, but more than we can spare right now, I think.

Once the door was open, J headed off to work & I hung out with the boys. That is, until they were invited over to Jason & Mark's for the day. I drove them over & they were greeted with much joy, as if the sets of boys hadn't seen each other in weeks! I spent the day writing. I got my review polished & sent in, then worked on some other projects. The boys arrived home about 6, having eaten dinner. I spent the evening cleaning house while they played & read. When J got home about 10, we heated up leftover hamburger gravy etc for our supper. I helped her with her presentation & then we went to bed. I stayed up way too late reading the Allende book.

What I'm Eating In June

Tentative, of course:
1: Ribs, loaded smashed potatoes, corn
2: Pizza, salad, caramelized brownies
3: Hamburger gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, biscuits
4: Heirloom tomato sandwiches, salad, fruit
5: Picnic dinner at amusement park
6: Leftovers
7: Lemon-herb pot roast, green beans, fruit, pecan-crumble pear tart
8: Steak w/lemon butter, cooked carrots, peas
9: Quiche, broccoli, salad, strawberry shortcake
10: J's choice
11: Pollo frito a la criolla, papas fritas, calabacitas, daiquiris
12: Welsh rarebit on toast, limas, peaches
13: Egyptian chicken, rice, salad
14: Black Forest sausage & sauerkraut, broccoli, salad
15: Brisket on buns, chips, corn on the cob, salad
16: Rosemary chicken, baked potatoes, veggies with tangy dip, lemon bread
17: Spaghetti carbonara, salad, garlic bread
18: Family reunion
19: J's choice
20: Pecan-crusted catfish with peppers & squash, citrus-clad asparagus, rosemary biscuits
21: Brie burgers, oven fries, salad
22: Italian fondue, bread, salad, fruit
23: Chicken paprikas, noodles, peas, chewy pecan cookies
24: Book Group-Dominican food
25: J's choice
26: BLT pizza, salad, fruit
27: Lime garlic pork chops, boiled potatoes, green beans, Russian pot cheese & dill bread
28: Country-fried steak, mashed potatoes & gravy, fried okra
29: Pizza, salad, fruit
30: Romantic dinner out

Monday, June 06, 2005

Of Lakes & Water Parks

Friday, being the first day of summer vacation, was an all-fun day. I had planned to take the boys & their buddies, Jason & Mark, to the beach at Caesar's Creek. Since J had some holiday time off coming to her for having worked Memorial Day, she came home from work early to accompany us. Yippee! We packed a big picnic lunch (sandwiches, chips, fruit, Oreos) & gathered the little boys.

Once there, they enthusiastically began sand castle building. They dug wide & deep & created a lake inside one of the castles. Fabulous! Jason kept bringing feathers to adorn the ramparts, while Pie carried water, Mark supplied engineering advice, & Boot directed everyone else at their tasks. Over the course of the day, Jason gathered 35 goose & seagull feathers. There was a flock of Canada geese hanging out right along with the gulls & bathers. It was fun to see them up so close. The beach was practically deserted as rain hovered nearby all day. It was kind of like having our own private beach & made me dream of having a lake house.

J & I spent much of the time lazing on the blanket, her dozing & me reading Saveur Magazine. We also played cards, laughed uproariously over the boys' very first attempt to play Chicken, and walked with our paws in the water. It was much warmer than it had been the previous Sunday. Jason joined us for several rounds of Rummy. The other boys had kind of ostracized him, so we let him shelter with us until they began to beg him to come back into the water.

The boys stayed to dinner. I made J's beloved hamburger gravy, with mashed potatoes & corn. She loves to mix it all together. Shudder! After dinner, we took the 2 boys home, stopping in to chat with Beth & Matt, their folks. Beth, who works for the government, invited us to go to King's Island with them on Sunday when it was closed to the general public. It would mean a savings of $60 + getting the obligatory annual trip out of the way early. I was torn between wanting to hang onto our money now & wanting to save $60. I ended up leaving it in J's hands & she decided to go.

Saturday morning, we had to go over & inspect our rental while our tenants were moving out. It is trashed...missing carpet, big holes in the walls, dog scratches, a broken window. They haven't paid rent since March & we have been letting it go because we felt sorry for them. Now, to find out that the house is that bad feels like a huge betrayal. The tenant said her son was going to do some drywall work & they were going to re-carpet the upstairs before leaving. But, where is their incentive? I sure hope they actually did it, though, because without those repairs, we will definitely have to get a loan to make repairs. I hope my cousin will buy it. I don't know when we'll ever recoup our money. It would be nice not to have to take them to court.

Saturday afternoon, after a lunch of soup & grilled cheese, we went to visit J's mom. Her dad was also there & we hung out with them while they ate dinner, then played cards with J's mom. Boot got really excited & wound-up, giggling & saying ridiculous nonsequiturs relentlessly. Pie was not amused, but the rest of us thought him fairly hilarious. Of course, the Baby Ruth bar his grandpa gave him didn't help matters much. The boys got to have pizza for dinner, while I made little parmesan puff pastry shells with herbed goat cheese & heirloom tomatoes for us. They were fabulous!

Sunday, we met Matt & Beth, Jennifer, Mark & Jason, & MacKenzie bright & early in our driveway. J had made a bacon & egg breakfast for us. On our way out of town, we were spotted by Buck from church. Busted! LOL! The drive down to King's Island went smoothly. We listened to Rita Mae Brown most of the way down & back. On the way into the park, I noticed that Jen has a bunch of safety pins in her ear hole. She is gauging it. I, personally, don't see the attraction, but I'm glad her folks haven't flipped a lid because she is a good kid. With her purple hair & all black outfit, she reminded me a bit of myself at her age. She's very good with her sibs.

We went to the water park first, where J & I lolled on beach chairs & hung out in the wave pool. The kids went on all the water rides (J did some with them) & Matt took them out to the main park to do some rides there, too. Then, their family went out to the car for lunch while we remained by the wave pool awhile longer. We ended up not finding them again, but had a great time anyway. Our picnic was much the same as what we had Friday at the beach (with the addition of leftover goat cheese sandwiches)...that is to say, much better than what King's Island sells. Delirium was closed for the day & I deemed Drop Zone's line too long, so my favorite rides of the day were The Viking Fury (I have little voice today after hollering on that) & Whitewater Canyon (on which we got drenched). The storms held off all day, but all the way home, eerie lightning flashed across the sky.

When we got home, the garage door opened with no problem using the remote & closed with no problem using the wall closer. However, J went out there a little later & found the light still on...and the door unwilling to budge for either device. Crap! I sent out some calls for help on finding the emergency release & called the home warranty people (not covered) & the garage door people (message left). I went down to try & find the emergency release again. When I turned on the dining room light, it popped & scared the bejeezes out of me! I decided not to bother anymore & instead immersed myself in Zorro until I started dozing off.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Holding Robert

Yesterday, I had lunch with the grands at Bob Evans (happy that the strawberries are back on their spinach salad), then ran out to get a graduation gift for our friend Luanne's daughter, who graduated from high school. I got her a copy of Jennifer Louden's The Woman's Comfort Book because I think it's such a wonderful resource. I galloped to the plant to deliver it to J, left it on her desk, & galloped home to greet the boys.

As soon as they got home, I whisked them off to the library, where Pie found some books on alchemy (his newest interest), Boot did his reading time, & I found a Rita Mae Brown on audio for J. I also picked up the new Anne Lamott book & the Kirstie Alley book, which had arrived for me.

On the way home from the library, we dropped by Rosemary's to meet the baby. He is TINY! Absolutely bitty...and adorable. Rosemary knows me well enough that she handed Robert to me almost as soon as we walked in the door, when I was dying to hold him. The boys were fascinated by him. Pie stroked his tiny fingernails & admired his little ears. Boot kept more of a distance, but was definitely interested. Those boys like babies a lot! I got to feed him. He's not latching on properly, so Rosemary has been pumping like mad. I was introduced to him as "Aunt Daria" & Boot said, "You get to be his aunt?" We had a good visit, then the boys & I went home.

I made ribs, mashed potatoes with cheese & bacon bits, and corn for dinner. It was Boot's night to choose & he picked the whole menu. Very all-American...and good! After dinner, J fell asleep in my lap so I watched a Barefoot Contessa episode, then roused her for bed.

This morning was the final awards ceremony for the school year...and Boot's last for elementary school. I have to admit that I got pretty teary for a minute there. I cannot believe he's going to be in middle school next year. He got several awards: A/B honor roll for the quarter (with only ONE B!), good attendance for the year, good behavior for the year, Math Club, Advanced Reading. I was pretty dang proud. Pie missed A/B for the quarter by one class, Music. He got an "N" in Music because he went through a spell of forgetting his recorder. He got perfect attendance for the quarter & good attendance for the year.

Since Boot was on A/B, I checked him out of school at the end of the ceremony. We had lunch at Burger King (his choice) & then picked up some chocolates for his teacher. We dropped them off along with gifts for Pie's teacher, the principal, & the secretary. It was time for dismissal, so I picked up Pie, too.

We went to see Madagascar for our annual last day of school movie. It was okay, certainly better than Garfield (which we saw last year), but nothing I'd pay to see on purpose. I found myself wishing we'd gone to see Robots at the cheap movies instead. I think Pie felt the same way & Boot said that, while it was funny, he thought it'd be funnier. I did find David Schwimmer's hypochondriac giraffe quite funny, though. When we came out of the theater, the day had gone chilly & grey. I hope it's warm & summy tomorrow for our lake trip.

Tonight, we'll have pizza at the grands'. They announced yesterday that they wanted to host & that they would like to order pizza, if that would be okay with us. They have invited Vivi, my "second grandma", to dinner, too. I love having family ties like this.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

10 1/2

I remembered just in time that Brendan is not going to be at Bible study this week, so I'm skipping it. J. B. will be leading & it's always dead boring when he does. He is a sweet man, but I am not in alignment with his version of Christianity & he is a less-than enthralling speaker. So, I will have lunch with the grands, but for now remain at home.

I went to WW yesterday & have gained .6 of a pound. Not bad, considering the indulgences of the weekend. On the way home, I saw a beautiful young deer, which I considered a good omen. I also saw a cat hunting in a field. I came home & puttered around most of the day. With the kids going over to Jason and Mark's after school, I had all kinds of spare time to do something like clean out the pantry, clean out the fridge, get the screened porch ready for summer. But, I was immersed in the life of Zorro instead. Shame on me! That dratted Isabel Allende foils me every time!

I did get to the grocery & by the time J got home, had dinner well underway. I made Paula Deen's caramelized brownies first. Then, I made sunny citrus vinaigrette (beautiful & tasty) from the MMMiami cookbook. I had just quartered the cabbage for Spanish cabbage from A Taste of Old Cuba (which is a great cookbook) when my darling wife came home, all lovey-dovey & cute.

We ran to the grocery for salad (Dole's Italian blend fit the bill nicely), then I finished dinner. When we sat down to eat, I presented J with camarones aj ajillo (which, to me, weren't as good as the ones you get in Miami, but she loved them), jasmine rice, Spanish cabbage, & salad with citrus vinaigrette. For dessert, we had the brownies with ice cream balls rolled in chopped nuts, all of it drizzled with caramel sauce (recipe for brownies & ice cream balls at J said, "That meal was a ten and a half!" I am so happy that I could make her a great meal. Her boss yelled at her right before she came home, so I hope the good food helped alleviate the sting from that. He yelled at her for her handwriting! He asked her to take notes during a meeting &, in front of her peers, he berated her over her handwriting & the fact that she didn't use an eraser on the whiteboard. That is over the top. I think she should document this stuff because you shouldn't belittle an employee in front of their peers.

Oh, yesterday while the boys were at Jason & Mark's, I called & made arrangements to take the 4 boys to the lake on Friday! I am so excited. What a perfect activity for the first day of summer vacation! If it rains, I don't know what we'll do...probably just hang out over here. But, if it doesn't rain, it will be a blast. J might leave work early to come with us & that would be even better! The boys want to join the local private pool. I called to find out what their family membership rate is & what their definition of a family is. If they don't consider us a family, they can forget our money. The boys aren't even here for most of the summer, so it may not be worth it to join, but if it's not very much, we long as they're not homophobic. Otherwise, we can do the lake & the public pool, which won't kill them.