Friday, December 19, 2008

Froehliche Weinachten!

For whatever reason, I felt like throwing out that little morsel from my days as a German minor in college (it means Merry Christmas, fyi - or more accurately Happy Holy Night!). I am actually at work right now, finishing up a bunch of odds and ends, because THIS IS MY LAST DAY FOR 2008!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you, Jesus!! I'm still not quite completely caught up with Xmas-prep work at home, but nevertheless I'll be hitting the road in the ol'Honda one-horse open sleigh tomorrow morning to head home to the Pittsburgh area for vacation. Tonight I have one last happy hour with friends, and then its home to pack up! At some point I have to convince Bailey and Pepper that they really WANT to get into their portable prisons, er, um, carriers for the 5 hour trip north, but I'm hoping that will go smoothly this year...

Until 2009, then - have a wonderful holiday season everyone!!

Monday, December 15, 2008


The holiday stress finally hit me today. I decided weeks ago to take today off to "finish up" wrapping presents and sending cards. I'm leaving this coming Saturday for my Christmas vacation, so I pretty much planned to have everything done this week. Well, that plan went a bit awry, shall we say. I didn't "finish up" anything! I didn't even have anything to the point that I could attempt to finish it! I had taken a prolonged hiatus from all of my handmade gift-making over the last week or so, so I HAD to get those things done today. I also needed to get on-line and order the few non-handmade gifts I'm giving (first I had to come up with some vague idea of what I wanted to buy). Oh yeah, and I had to actually BUY the cards to send out, not to mention write and address them! Yeah, it suddenly occurred to me about 3:30 this afternoon that I am WAY BEHIND!!! The fact that my sewing machine broke this afternoon - and its key to the crafting process - did not help. So, this post is just a short breather in the long night of crafting I have ahead of me.

I'm trying to take deep breaths...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Kitsch

After 3 consecutive nights of trying, I finally have my Christmas tree up and decorated. This is my second year having a real tree that I chose myself from a tree lot. Even though my teeny, tiny house is almost too small to move around in comfortably, it is at ground level, which makes it much easier for a single gal to haul a tree in from the car. In past years when I inhabited 3rd and 4th floor walk-ups, I had my Grandmother's old fake tree (apparently, this is a common tradition - see Miss Bess's post regarding the phenomenon) and it really did have a charming, Charlie Brown-esque quality! But, I must say I LOVE having the real tree. I love the smell when I open the door after work, I love the way it glows softly in the corner in the evening. Oddly, my cats pay absolutely no attention to it whatsoever. They both like to oversee the watering of the tree every night before I go to bed - they both have their noses in the tree stand and have a little sip for themselves. But otherwise, they don't even seem to notice it. Hmmm.

My other Christmas decorations consist of a hodge-podge of knick-knacks that I've collected since my college days, and of course my collection of Colonial Williamsburg caroling dolls. I know, I know - its bordering on creepy! Some people really hate these things, but my mother started givng me one every Christmas several years ago, and I've grown rather attached to them. I mean, come on, they're dolls for adults! Anyway, this year I put fresh pine all around them. I think they look pretty spiffy.

So, I hope you enjoy the photos of my holiday decorations. I am an appallingly bad photographer, as my friends know, so I swear my tree really looks better than it does here!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

Well, I've done my good deed for this holiday season! Last night, G, E, L, S and I (otherwise known as Gretchen, Elizabeth, Laura, Sarah and myself) descended on our local Target armed with an Angel Tree tag bearing the name of little 8 year-old girl named Anissa, who's only Christmas wish is for a stuffed puppy dog. Well, she definitely got the stuffed puppy dog - along with a pile of other stuff! I admit, we might have gotten a bit carried away. We spent quite a bit of time in the children's clothing section squealing at the adorableness of various outfits (we also ended up buying her a pink winter coat with matching gloves). And then - AND THEN - we made our way to the toy department. Oh, the toy department! I haven't had so much fun in the toy department since I was an 8 year-old myself! Did you know Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears are back in vogue now?!?! I nearly had a child-size fit over the new Barbie TV Food Chef play set that G discovered (oh yeah, we bought it) and E was pretty much obsessed with an automated puppy that fits in its own little purse. It was good fun.

Today at lunch time I took the haul of presents over to the Salvation Army headquarters, and I was happy to see a long line of people dropping off their donations at the same time. Inside, I handed the goods over to an employee, and I made her swear that Anissa and only Anissa would get these presents - we've gotten a little attached to our Angel Tree kid, and I didn't want Anissa's wealth getting spread around. I left feeling very satisfied that at least one kid is going to have a very merry Christmas!

On another note, I watched the annual showing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the other night, and as always it made me cry. When I was a very little kid my dad thought it would be great to start the tradition of watching that clay-mation classic every year, so one evening while my mom was out he and I sat on the living room floor and watched it. About halfway through I got so upset that I started bawling and begging him to turn it off. I think I've been traumatized ever since. However, I still watch it every year - Cornelius Yukon, Kirby the Elf who wants to be a dentist, Clarisse, Skinny Santa - its just great stuff...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Everyone's an Angel to Someone

So, I'm back from Thanksgiving at home with my parents and the rest of our crazy fam, and I am 100% ready to tackle this whole Christmas thing (well, as soon as I take a few more naps to sleep off the turkey coma that still seems to be lingering!). I think I've mentioned the fact that I plan to make all of my Christmas presents this year, and so far its going pretty well. I haven't had any meltdowns over crafty-project directions that just DO NOT work the way they're supposed to, and both of my finished items look good. I should totally start an Etsy store (well, let's not get carried away)!

Anyway, I have made the decision to deviate from my handmade Christmas plan just a bit, and for good reason. This morning, I read an article in my local newspaper about the incredibly tough time the Salvation Army and other charities are having this year in getting people to "adopt" children, the elderly and underprivileged families through their gift-giving programs. For years, I've been trying to participate in the Salvation Army Angel Tree program, but usually by the time I get my act together all the tags on the trees are long gone. This year, with our failing economy, things are different - and there are a lot of people out there who need help. So, this year, I'm not going to fail these kids - I'm going to give someone a happy Christmas morning, and I'm SO EXCITED about it! Several friends including G are lending a hand - thanks ladies! So, to any of you out there who I haven't already roped into this, PLEASE consider checking out the charities in your area. Here's a link for the Salvation Army program.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sick Day

Well, I officially have my first cold of the winter. And yes, I realize its not actually winter yet - but its certainly cold enough outside to qualify! I woke up with that tell-tale sore throat on Friday morning and felt progressively worse as the day went on (not that it stopped me from attending weekly happy hour with G and the girls - hope I didn't pass the bug along ladies!). I then proceeded to lay on my couch for the ENTIRE weekend - I watched all 5 Rocky movies (AMC was having a marathon), the entire un-edited version of JFK, the 1980's classic Overboard starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell and a bunch of other mindless movies. I've eaten about 4 gallons of chicken noodle soup (sadly not homemade! I need to make some and stockpile for the next cold), drank equal parts OJ, tea and ginger ale and gone through 2 super-size boxes of Kleenex with lotion added (that was such a great invention). Unfortunately, I was not feeling much better this morning, so I called in sick. So far today, I've watched Good Morning America, The View, and Obama's press conference where he announced his economic team. I'm currently waiting for my next bowl of soup to heat up on the stove. I'm hoping this afternoon that I will have the energy to work on crafty Christmas gifts (I've got one done already, and I must say it looks pretty darn good!). I wish I had somehting better to report, but staring at my living room walls for the last 3 days hasn't given me much inspiration!

Anyway, I HAVE to feel better by the time I go home for Thanksgiving on Wednesday. 1) a stuffy nose will get in the way of my tastebuds enjoying my mother's annual feast, and 2) my dear best friend Miss B is turning the big 3-0 next weekend, and I cannot miss it! Don't worry B - I'm there, even if I have a rudolph nose and a dry cough (bet you're rethinking that invite, now, huh?).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Joy of Daniel Craig

So, this past weekend, I went with several friends to see the new 007 movie, starring the absolutely gorgeous Daniel Craig. It did not disappoint. He wore a tux. He drove the Astin Martin. He stared with smoldering eyes at various people throughout the film. Oh yeah, and there was lots of spy-stuff, if you're into that. I have always been a big fan of Sean Connery and his version of James Bond, and while Daniel Craig's Bond is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE CONNERY'S I'm okay with it. I'm not really going to watch the 007 movies for the Bond character anyway. I'm going to see Daniel Craig. Really, if Hollywood was smart, they would put him in WAY more movies.

In other news, apparently its Christmas time. I mean the calendar says its November 18th, and Thanksgiving isn't until next week, but apparently its Christmas. So, I'm starting to think about gift-giving, and how I can accomplish it without spending any money. I'm going to try an ambitious plan of for homemade gifts this year (and those of you who read my posts about the blueberry sheets are probably chuckling right now). Unfortunately, I can't really talk about them on this blog until after the holidays, because most of the people I'll be giving them to read it. Suffice it say, though, I have my work cut out for me!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ain't That America

Its very rare that you actually recognize that you are witnessing a defining moment in history. We all witnessed one last night, and we all know it. As an historian, I can't even begin to put into words what that feels like.

Good job America!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Close Encounters with Palin Phreaks

Its FREEZING outside today! Well, not quite freezing, as in less than 32 degrees, but really, truly cold! Truth be told it was pretty chilly yesterday, too, and there was rain. The weather caused a funny moment at the museum yesterday. The very small city park located one block behind the museum was the site of a rally for John McCain, starring everyone's favorite Tina Fey impersonator - Sarah Palin!! My assumption is that the McCain/Palin camp knew they wouldn't be able to fill a huge stadium or any of the larger municipal parks in this town, so they chose a small patch of grass that would make the crowd that did show up look a bit bigger than it was. So all morning, we were subjected to blaring music (if I hear Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 one more time I might scream) being blasted from house-sized speakers, and a whole swarm of red-clothed rally-goers who wanted to use our bathroom. Then at almost the precise moment that Palin took the stage, the heavens opened up, and rain poured down, accompanied by gusting wind and those frigid temperatures. It was great! It felt like divine retribution. A few minutes later, the front door of the museum swung open and in walked a middle-aged woman wearing a red cowboy hat, red leather boots, and a T-shirt loudly proclaiming that she was a "Palin Phreak". Myself and the rest of my staff were all standing in the hallway chatting, as we had no other visitors. Our newly arrived Palin Phreak looked at us and said, "Well can I get a tour or what?" to which one of my more liberal tour guides immediately replied, "Absolutely ma'am, come right this way." Now, I knew right away this was a bad combination, but I let it go - maybe I was feeling a little devilish. Half an hour later, the visitor and my guide were heard arguing rather heatedly in one of the back exhibit galleries, and a minute later the cowboy hat came marching back into the hallway, its owner practically shouting about her pasionate devotion to McCain and Palin and all things Republican. My tour guide was close on her heels, and she asked the woman, "Then what are you doing in here - the rally's across the street!" The woman gave the guide a look like she had antenna growing out of her head or something and responded, "To hell with that - its raining out there!". So much for the dedication of Republicans to their candidate.

Thank God there are only 7 days left...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And the Winner is...

Not Miss M!! Not Miss B! But rather Miss G!!!! Yes, it was over a week ago now, but in case you haven't heard Kenley DID NOT win Project Runway. Nor did Korto. So neither B or I guessed correctly. G, however, made the point that Leighann's clothing has a very sleek, modern, architectural look that is very appealing. In the end, G proved once again that she does have fabulous taste! And I have to admit, after seeing the final 3's Fashion Week collections go by on the season finale, I was somewhat disappointed in Kenley's. She strayed from her vintage roots, and it just wasn't so wow. So, that's that. Will we ever get to enjoy another season of Project Runway ridiculousness again? Well, as Bravo and Lifetime are currently duking it out over the rights to the show, its future is a little uncertain... Here's hoping cooler, fabulous heads prevail1

In other TV news (can you tell what's been dominating my time lately?) the new Christian Slater show is now in week 2. Christian Slater looks hot. Really, really hot. But otherwise, I still spend most of the show thoroughly confused about what's going on. Christian Slater plays two characters - Henry, who's a suburban dad, and Edward who's a CIA-type operative. Henry is really adorable and sweet. Edward is, well, kinda scary. There's torture. There's bombs and stuff. I don't know - I'll stay in it for seeing Christian Slater at least!

Also last week, the show "Crusoe" premiered, and I have to say that I really liked it! I have hopes that this one will stick around for a while...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Home Ec Smack-Down!

So Miss B doesn't agree with my Project Runway pick. Hmmm. This could be the biggest smack-down we've had since the famous Michael Jackson watch blow-out of '86, or perhaps the Renee vs. Grenee throw down of '87ish. Or not. Like I said I'm a little eh on Project Runway this season. However, I have to defend Kenley. Yes, she is, um, abrasive, but if this is really a competition about fashion design then she has to be the winner. Korto (is that really how you spell it?? if it is, someone needs to tell Heidi she's saying wrong!) does make interesting stuff, but I just don't get it sometimes! I mean that wedding dress - what was going on there? I would understand if she just went with the African-inspired theme, but very rarely does any of her stuff actually turn out that way. She always says it does, but really? And I'm the first to admit that I might be siding with Kenley because no one else on the show is. My UnderDog complex always kicks in when I see someone being ganged up upon (okay, grammar? or sentence structure? I have no idea how to phrase what I just said there). Jerrell, Leighann and Korto totally ganged up on Kenley, and she got defensive. I also think that incident with Tim Gunn was edited to increase the drama.

So, Miss B, we'll see who's cuisine reigns supreme after tomorrow night (that's the tag line from Iron Chef America - I thought I'd try to mix up my reality TV.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall 2008 Television Round-up

Well, its hard to believe, but the fall TV season officially got underway 5 weeks ago! While I don't think we're quite at the mid-season point yet (that's when all the networks summarily yank a bunch of shows that you've been cultivating an interest in and replace them with a whole bunch of crap that wasn't good enough to make it into the first round of TV premieres) I feel the need to summarize the season thus far - perhaps more for my benefit than anyone else's interest. I find that I have a hard time keeping track of all my shows, especially since somehow this year almost all of my shows are on Monday nights in a 2-hour time range. Not having a working VCR, a DVR or Tivo, this presents problem. Anyway, here's what I think about my admittedly odd assortment of TV shows:

Prison Break: The ex-cons are still a good-looking bunch of guys, and the (finally!) budding romance between Michael and Sarah is great. But in all seriousness, why can't these guys just be done with breaking into and out of things?? I'm afraid the story lines are getting a bit predictable and boring. Although, I think when you initially create a new TV show and name it Prison Break, you might be creating a self-limiting story line. On the other hand, Michael's nose bleed thing intrigues me, especially in light of Lincoln's recent statement that when Michael had nosebleeds as a 13 year old, they were an indicator of some serious health issue. Hmmm. Maybe this condition will require the guys to break into a hospital...

The Sarah Connor Chronicles: This one is the show I would have guessed I'd be least into - I was NOT fan of the Terminator movies (in fact I've never seen them) and a lot of stuff blows up and quite a few people die pretty horribly. However, I am a sucker for stories that have a background story and a mystery, and each week you get another part of the puzzle. So this whole John Connor/time travel/world-wide apocalypse/Brain Austin Greene thing has hooked me. I really do look forward to this show every week.

Heroes: When this show first premiered a couple of years ago I LOVED it! Again, its not something I would have normally gotten into (its based a comic book. yeah, exactly.) but again the overarching mystery has me hooked. Last season got completely trashed by the writers' strike - it didn't make any sense and it was all smooshed together. This year I'm still pretty much confused by it all, but I'm enjoying the confusion. The best part is that at the end of last week, Hiro and Ando dug up Adam Monroe, which I assume means that that character will be returning to the show. Adam Monroe is played by David Anders. David Anders played the gorgeous but evil Sark on Alias, and I have never quite gotten over the fact that Alias was cancelled. To this day, I believe that had the show gone on for another season, it would have been revealed that Sark and Sydney were syblings. But anyway, Sark is on Heroes and that makes me incredibly happy!

Dancing With the Stars: Dear God, Cloris Leachman is still on the show. Really, what else is there to say??

Project Runway: Actually, this show is almost over for the year. The finale is coming up on Wednesday. I'm kinda eh about it. I like Kenley's clothes. I hope she wins, but if she doesn't I don't really care. I might not be the target audience for this show, though. My favorite part of every season is when they have to make an outfit out of produce. Its great just for laughs. However, they didn't have to do that this year, so it just wasn't the same for me.

Survivor, Gabon: There is something really wrong with that kid who's name might be Charlie, and is currently in an alliance with another guy who's name might be Marcus. I never know anyone's names at this point in the season. Anyway Charlie seems to have developed a serious stalker-esque crush on Marcus. That can only turn into serious reality drama before too long! Otherwise, I'm rooting for Bob. He was way too emaciated when the game started. and now he's literally a walking skeleton. Plus he's old. No one old ever does well on Survivor and so far he's doing really, really well!

Life on Mars: I've only seen one episode of this so far, and it was good. Not great, but good. I'm going to continue giving it a chance for a few more weeks.

Desperate Housewives: Neal McDonnough always plays the crazy guy. Anytime you see his name on a cast list, its like "Oh, this show must have a crazy person in it". And this season of DH is no different. Neal plays Dave, Edie's new husband. And apparently he's just been released from a mental institution. Well, that's not going to go well. Also, this fast-forward 5 years into the future was a little disconcerting at first, but now its hardly an issue at all. Except for the continuity questions, like if they moved forward 5 years in the story, is it now 2012 on DH, or were they in 2003 last season and have now fast forwarded to the present? In the end, it doesn't matter, but it kinda bothers me.

Brothers and Sisters: I love this show! I love everyone on it, and even though the stories tend to be a little repetitive, I just love the Walker family too much to not watch it! Kevin and Scotty are adorable together, and even though Justin and Rebecca kind of grossed me out initially, I think they're pretty funny too. This is another one that I really do look forward to each week.

I feel like I might be missing a couple, but in general that's my take on 2008 TV. Tonight (and of course its Monday) the Christian Slater show premiers, so I'll have to check that out. Stay tuned for a review of it next time...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


So, for about a week I've been hobbling around like a little old lady because I totally threw my back out last week during the brutal fight to get my cats in their carriers prior to the Cricket Massacre. I kept telling myself that it would get better on its own. I've hurt my back several times over the years (its genetic - my dad has back issues, too) and its ALWAYS gotten better on its own after a few days. Well, not this time. It just wasn't getting any better and I was looking more and more pathetic. That's when it hit me: Oh my God, I'm getting old! My muscles and bones aren't springing back like they used to, I need actual medical help to get better!


Yep, its true. So, I sucked it up and went to the doctor for the first time in 2 years and got some serious pain killers and muscle relaxants. I took my first dose this morning, and let me tell you I was completely loopy for the rest of the day! I think my interns thought I'd lost it. We were doing some object handling in the storage room for a while, and I kept referring to this 200 year old teacup as a plate. Then I asked one of them 4 times in the course of about 10 minutes where I had put my notebook, and it was sitting on the desk in front of me. Once the drugs wore off, I decided against a second dose. Clearly, I'm not ready for narcotic painkillers.

Anyway, the point of this ramble (which might have been affected by some residual drugs) is that my 30's are looming on the horizon, and I'm not so sure I like it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


After my last post that was basically one long whine-fest, I've decided to discuss something a little lighter this evening. I noticed today at the museum that at one point I had 3 separate to-do lists going, and at the time I noticed I was in the process of writing a 4th one. Huh. In fact, once I stopped to think about it, I had several to-do lists from past days stuffed in the pockets of my work purse, a couple magnetted (new word) to my fridge at home, and at least a few dozen other types of lists cataloging everything from "stuff I need to purchase for the Fall '08 wardrobe" to "home improvement projects I would do if I owned a house". I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the way I've become a LIST-MAKER.

Now, my dear childhood friend BD will tell you that I was most definitely NOT a list-writer as a kid. BD was the list person back then - whenever we disagreed over what to do for fun on a Saturday afternoon, she would magically produce paper and pens and make everyone in attendance list, in descending order, the things they would like to do. Then everyone would read their's out loud and we would vote. At the time, I hated this list-making excercise, but in all honesty it usually worked. In hearing everyone's lists and rationale for their choices, we came up with some pretty cool stuff to occupy our time (how many of you out there can say that you actually played in the local dump?) Perhaps BD's childhood wisdom made an impression, because I am now most definitely a follower of the listing philosophy.

Sadly, I can't say that all of my various lists have made me any more organized or any more efficient in my daily life. I know what I need to get done, I just very rarely actually accomplish it. Still, the act of checking something off a list is pure satisfaction - especially when its something you've been putting off forever and ever. So, tonight I'm going to sign off and pay bills. That's been on my list for way, way too long...

P.S. Congrats on your anniversary BD! The house looks great...

Monday, September 29, 2008


So, yet another week+ has slipped by without any posts from me, but this time I have all kinds of great excuses - each of which would make wonderful posts in and of themselves. The last week or so has been packed with all kinds of whackadoodle happenings! For instance, the story of how I missed my train to Philadelphia last Monday is a good one (many thanks to G for the rescue!). It still makes me pretty furious, so I'm not actually going to recount the whole thing at the moment, but suffice it to say that I now officially hate Amtrak. Whatever happened to anti-monopoly laws in this country?!?! You know why Amtrak can offer such crappy service and still have plenty of customers?? Because WE HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE!!!! Okay, I'm going to leave it at that before I get my blood pressure up again. Let's see, what else, what else - oh yeah, the upcoming renovation project at my museum was delayed AGAIN. Instead of starting in January, it is now set to start at the end of March. This will be the 5th potential start date we've been given over the last 2 years. Yeah, 2 years. So, the end of last week at the museum was filled with lots of contentious meetings with lots of shouting and accusations and finger-pointing. It was great.

But, I think the coup de gras for this past week actually took place today. I can't remember if I've mentioned the cricket issue I have in my current rental house, but in case I haven't let me just say that for the last few months there have been WAY more crickets appearing in my house than there should be. And they're not little crickets. They're big huge things, with multiple joints - they can literally jump 5 feet in the air. Its so not cool. So, my landlord agreed to have an exterminator come and do something about it. Fine. Great. No problem. Well, unfortunately, BIG PROBLEM. Apparently the way you get rid of crickets is to have your house "fogged". Basically, dangerous chemical pesticides are released in your home, and they kill everything that breathes them in. So, I spent most of this morning "fog-proofing" my house - i.e. sealing kitchen cabinets with duct tape, covering bedding with plastic sheeting, putting my clothes in large sealable plastic bags, etc. Then at 2:00, both myself and Bailey and Pepper had to vacate the premises for 4 hours while the chemicals were sprayed. Now, my cats HATE to be put in their carriers, and we have had some epic battles over the years. Today's cat-wrangling was quite possibly the worst episode we've ever had. 2 hours. It took me 2 hours to get them into their carriers. During that 2 hours, I moved furniture, I pulled all of the storage boxes out from under my bed, I un-did much of the plastic sheeting I had laid down earlier, I chased, I cursed, I swore, I bled. It was awful. But, in the end, I did win. Now, as I'm writing this, I am sitting in my little office at the museum, with the door closed, and both Bailey and Pepper are wandering around my feet, happy as clams. We'll be here another hour or so. I can only pray that when I gleefully announce that its time to go home, they'll both zip right into their carriers. If not, I guess we're staying here tonight.

My biggest hope (well, other than that there aren't 4,000 cricket carcasses littering my floor when I get home tonight) is that the Steelers can defeat the Ravens in their nationally televised game tonight.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Return to the 21st Century

Well, its been a few days since I returned from my weekend trip to Williamsburg, and I think I've finally gotten back into the 21st century swing of things. The trip was fun - I think my parents really enjoyed themselves. But, I have to say that it was incredibly HOT! I mean, I know its Williamsburg, and its known for being hot, but geez!!! I thought by mid-September it would at least be slightly cooler, or at least less humid. Nope - we managed to go to Williamsburg on a record-breaking weather weekend. Saturday it was about 89 degrees, and a bagillion percent humidity. Sunday was worse. But we persevered. My father kept saying that we were getting a true 18th century experience - feeling what it was like to live without air conditioning. Truth be told, though, we mostly just ran from one air conditioned building to another - we didn't really soak up the atmosphere too much! Sadly, perhaps because it was so hot, I didn't think to pull out my camera all that often, so alas no pictures! Maybe my parents will figure out how to send pictures from their camera via email. I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you, though.

My return to the office offered a rude reminder of the 21st century. For some reason, my boss has taken to calling me on the phone when he has a question or needs something from me this week. You're probably thinking, "What's wrong with that? That's how lots of people communicate in the office environment." Well, my office environment at the museum is very, very SMALL. So small, in fact, that my boss's office is exactly 4 steps from my office. Its so close that I can hear him working his way through his post-lunch indigestion every day. For nearly 4 years he has simply shouted to me when he needs something. Now, all of the sudden, my phone rings every 5 minutes and its him asking me things - and I can hear his voice echoing in from the hallway, too. Super annoying. I don't understand it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ye Olde Burg of William

This weekend I will be taking my parents on a fun-filled adventure to Colonial Williamsburg. My Dad's birthday is on Monday, and this is what he wanted to do to celebrate. I enjoy Williamsburg quite a bit, too - being a museum person, I think its almost a requirement - so I'm looking forward to it. Although temperatures in that part of Virginia probably won't have reached the crispness of fall yet, I'm hoping for a nice, humidity-free trip with maybe a few colorful leaves floating on the air. We'll see.

We'll be arriving in time on Saturday to see the fifes and drums march down Duke of Gloucester Street, we have reservations at the King's Arms Tavern, and we're going to be doing a lantern-lit walking tour that will feature some of Williamsburg's scariest residents.

A full report - hopefully with photos - when I return!

Monday, September 8, 2008


After the cruel disappointment I suffered yesterday, network television is redeeming itself today. Finally, FINALLY the fall television season has arrived!! Its been 4 1/2 months since last year's season should have ended, but techinically its been almost 10 months since we've had any decent TV, due to that horrid writers' strike. I can't even remember what was going on in most of my shows! And we had to endure a summer that didn't even have re-runs to fall back on - no, we had deal with sludge like "World's Best Dog", "Wipeout" and my personal favorite, "I Want to be on a Japanese Game Show" (or something like that). I'd almost lost faith in TV. But tonight, two of my favorites are returning BACK TO BACK!! Prison Break - starring the beautiful Pittsburgh native Wentworth Miller - and The Sarah Connor Chronicles - both on FOX. YIPPPEEE!!!

Now, my taste in television runs an ecelectic gamut. I was a huge Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars fan, but I have equal love for Lost and Heroes. For something racy, I like The Tudors. I watch Battlestar Galactica and 24, but only on DVD because commercial breaks during those fast-paced TV shows are nerve killers. Last week, I attended a viewing party for the premiere of the new 90210, which I loved. This year, I'm anticipating the new offerings of My Own Worst Enemy (Christian Slater plays two characters - how can that go wrong??) and Crusoe, which you may have guessed is based on the book Robinson Crusoe. Girly, action-packed - it makes no difference to me! I love shows with a story, a history, and an end-game.

I have to go now - I only have 30 minutes to due some chores and then pop some corn before the Terminator spin-off starts!

Do I need to get a life?

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Today should have been a great day. Its opening weekend for the NFL, and the Steelers are playing the Houston Texans IN PITTSBURGH as we speak. Why, you might ask, am I blogging instead of watching my beloved Steelers in their home opener??? I'm kinda confused, too. Up until at least 6:00 last night, both of the local CBS affiliates showed on their web-site that they would be broadcasting the Steelers game at 1:00 today. So, I got up early this morning, went out to do my laundry and run errands, etc, etc. so that I could make it back in time to see the game. I ran in the door at 12:57, and grabbed the remote. And what did I find?? The New York Jets/Miami Dolphins game!!!!! WHAT?!?! Why would not just one CBS station, but both of them, suddenly change their broadcast to a game that has no geographical connection whatsoever to this part of the country??? Why would they do that???? Two words: Brett Favre. There was this big kerfuffle earlier in the summer about him coming out of retirement, but his old team didn't want him so the Jets took him, so apparently CBS thinks that EVERYONE is just dying to see how he does on his first day back in the NFL. I, for one, could care less. And I am absolutely certain that none of the other Steelers fans around here care either. So now I'm just mad. And I have a long afternoon with no plans ahead of me, because I had set aside my afternoon to devote to my team. Hmph.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weathering the Storm

A detail shot of the blueberries - kinda pretty!

An overview of the entire pillowcase - not as charming!

Today I am battening the hatches, hunkering down and generally weathering the storm that is Hurricane Hanna (although, technically she became a Tropical Storm before hitting land). Yesterday, people around here went a little nutty and started stocking up like the apocalypse was on its way, and I admit that I got somewhat caught up in it. At the museum, I moved objects away from windows and put everything in the basement up on pallets. After work, I bought a case of water. Hey - that's more than I did when Hurricane Isabelle hit a few years back - and that actually was a hurricane! The dire predictions of heavy winds and severe flooding have not come true so far today, though. I mean, yes it is raining really hard, and I suppose it is a bit windier than normal, but the view from my bedroom window isn't that bad. So far, so good! I'll go knock on some wood here in a minute, so as not to jinx myself and bring on a sudden deluge that will cause the nearby canal to overflow its banks and sweep my little house downriver.

I have been very productive with my time today, since I was convinced that I shouldn't leave my house for fear of blowing away. I cleaned my bathroom thoroughly. I wrote a letter to my aunt. And now I'm blogging (which I haven't done in over a week - sorry!). Next I'm going to tackle a second try at those blueberry sheets. The picture above is of the first attempt.

If I get flooded out or suffer a massive power outage, I'll do my next post via the "message in a bottle" method...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


So I finally was able to get started on my blueberry-embellished bed linens project. I did actually start it on the last day of Olympic competition, so technically I got around to it in a timely fashion! Unfortunately, its not going as expected thus far. I decided to start off with a pillowcase, as it would be a lot cheaper to replace a pillowcase if things went horribly wrong. Well, the actual blueberries turned out pretty well - the cork stamps work. But, I definitely overdid (is that a word?) the number of blueberries. From just a few feet away, the pillow case just looks like it has random blue polka dots allover it. I think I'm going to try again, and only use a few strategically placed blueberries. Anyway, the effort continues!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

All Good Things...

Where has the time gone? 16 days flew by and now the Olympics are over. The Closing Ceremonies are already over in China, although we here on the East coast won't see them until this evening. I'm hoping NBC will do some sort of video montage set to inspirational music of all the great '08 moments. I love montages. When I feel a montage coming on I grab the Kleenex. The montage that we will no doubt see this evening will have lots to pack in. There's Michael Phelps, of course, and the American women gymnasts, beach volleyball, both U.S. basketball teams, all the Chinese athletes who's very lives depend on how they do in their respective sports - it'll be a definite tear-jerker of a montage.

Anyway, I always hate to see things come to an end, and the Olympics are no different. For the next few days, there will be a definite gap in my daily routine, and I'll have to find something to fill it in with. There will be a sense of loss. On the up side, the fall TV season will be starting in just a few weeks (YIPPEE!!!!) so I can start obsessing over that. And, with the arrival of September comes the start of football season, and I LOVE THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS!! Being born and raised in the Pittsburgh area requires that I devote my existence between September and early February to the black and gold. Soon, the Olympics will be a faint, happy memory.

So long Beijing - thanks for the memories!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The End of Summer...Sort of

I walked with GG to the Farmer's Market this morning, and while it was a beautiful morning with lots of sun and blue sky, there was that unmistakable ever-so-slight tinge of fall in the air. Next weekend is Labor Day, and since that's the traditional end of summer, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. We've already had a few days that were cooler than average, and the dreaded humidity has been dropping a bit lately. But still, summer completely passed me by this year! I don't feel like I really did anything this summer. I mean, I did the usual family vacation to the beach, but otherwise it was just business as usual. That means I need to make the most of the approaching fall season. I need to go to apple festivals and visit flea markets, and maybe make some road trips to quirky places. -0ppppppppppppppppppprrrrrrrrrrwpolg43Who's with Me??

(Okay, you see that section of gibberish letters above? That's Pepper's contribution to today's post. She just walked across my keyboard...)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gracie and Earl

The subject of this post is a pair of doves that have taken up residence in my landlord's backyard. I have become rather fascinated by their lives, and therefore like any slightly whacky animal-lover, I have named them - Gracie and Earl. I don't know exactly how to describe Gracie and Earl other than to equate them (in a very un-PC way - sorry) with an old Jewish couple. They even kind of sound like it, too. Doves, as I have learned, tend to be rather large for backyard birds. They also don't actually fly that much. This is certainly true of Gracie and Earl. My landlord just loves backyard birds, and has several birdfeeders which he is constantly replenishing. The little birds - finches, cardinals, etc. - all flock to the feeders in a state of perpetual fluttering. I don't think they really ever land. Gracie and Earl, on the other hand, just hang out under the feeder and peck at whatever the other birds drop on the ground. Occasionally, Earl gets on Gracie's nerves (in all honesty, I can't tell them apart, so maybe its Gracie getting on Earl's nerves, but I imagine it the other way around) and she sqwaks at and bites him. Then Earl slowly plods off to another area. When Gracie decides that its time to leave, she gives Earl another sqwak, and the two of them slowly waddle down the garden path and out across the parking lot behind the yard. That's usually where I see them in the evening - slowly waddling into the sunset across the parking lot, making bird-bickering noises as they go.

Now, while my landlord loves birds, he HATES squirrels. I mean, he really hates them - in a crazed, irrational sort of way. He's convinced that they are slowly dismantling his roof. And not to mention that they steal a lot of seed from the birds. So, he has embarked upon a project to slowly remove his enemies from his yard, one squirrel at a time. He has a "humane" trap that he puts out to snare the little guys. It breaks my heart, and I'll admit that I have started letting the squirrels go under the cover of darkness. Well, apparently my efforts kind of backfired. Confused as to why he hasn't been catching any squirrels when clearly they are climbing allover the freaking trap, my landlord decided to get more aggressive, and he plunked the trap down right under one of the birdfeeders. The squirrels actually hang out down there with Gracie and Earl (I imagine its kind of like the neighborhood bar - "Hey, Earl! How's goin' buddy?" "Eh, the wife's on me about my weight lately - its hell."). Well, the trap did not catch any squirrels in its new location. It did however catch Earl. Or Gracie. One of them. It wasn't pretty. I woke up one morning and noticed some commotion outside my kitchen window. There was one dove sitting on top of the trap flapping and sqwaking wildly, while the other one was doing the same inside the trap.

So, I got really mad. Clearly, this was irresponsible use of a trap on the part of my landlord! So, I went marching across the yard and knocked on his back door. When he answered, I pointed to the trap and said I thought he'd caught the wrong thing. He swore loudly (he does love his birds afterall) and ran out to free Earl. Or Gracie. The next day the trap was gone. I have a feeling he's using it somewhere else - somewhere that I can't see it. He may have figured out that I was behind his low squirrel totals.

Anyway, Gracie and Earl are safe once again. And for the record, the picture above is one of them, but I'm not sure which. For some reason, as soon as I produced a camera, they suddenly acted like they'd never seen eachother before.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Crafting Should be an Olympic Event

My Olympic craze continues. You may have noticed that my posts were a bit few and far between last week. This is mostly due to the Olympics. I got so caught up in trying to see the difference between synchronized dives and uneven bar routines in the evenings, that I couldn't take my eyes off the screen to type. I stayed up so late on Monday night - men's gymnastics team all-around finals - that I had to take a few hours off of work the next morning to catch up on my sleep! Yes, I am obsessive, but I will also admit that I'm starting to get a wee bit bored, too. I very rarely just sit and watch TV - I'm usually doing something else while the TV is on. So, I decided that since most of the events which require my full and complete attention are now over, I'm going to start a few crafting projects that I can work on while watching the Olympics. I know, the two don't seem to go together - I should be inspired to do sit-ups or jog around the block. But, at least my fingers will get a work out!

My first project is one that I saw in a magazine recently - it may have been Martha Stewart Living, but I'm not really sure. Anyway, it involved using round wine bottle corks and blue paint to embellish fabric with little blueberry stamps. If I recall correctly, the magazine project was to embellish a lampshade or something. I don't need a lampshade, but I do need new bed linens, so I think I'm going to buy a cheapie set at Target or something and stamp blueberries allover them. Cute, right? Blueberries might just reach the status of strawberries and cherries in my decorating love affair with fruit. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tagging is Hard!

So, apparently I've been tagged. GG, who tagged me, tells me its kinda like a chain letter, only in the blogging world. And now I have to come up with 6 unspectacular yet quirky things about myself. Hmmm. Ummm. Well...uh, there's, uh...hmmmm. That's pretty much what I've been doing, while sitting here in front of my laptop for the last 15 minutes. Well let's see what I've come up with...

Link the person who tagged you.
Mention the rules on your blog.
Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they've been tagged.

1. My favorite food in whole wide world is rice. But, while most rice brands advertise fluffy, non-mushy products, I really prefer my rice to be wet and sticky - very mushy. The only brand of rice that I've found that achieves this consistency is River Brand, and I've never found it outside of the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

2. I have at some point in my life had every sleep disturbance known to mankind. I sleep-walk, I talk in my sleep, I have had night terrors, and I'm waiting for the day that I start "sleep-eating" which I hear is the newest disorder. Luckily, I had good roommates in college who did not mind all this weirdness.

3. I love trivia. Especially movie and television-related trivia, but really, any kind will do. I rock at Trivial Pursuit.

4. I know how to play a steel drum. My high school had a steel drum band, that was actually very good - award-winning in fact. Now, I certainly was not among the top level of musicians in the group, but I could still bang out a few tunes today if I had to!

5. I'm terrified of flying. I didn't used to be, but I am now. I blame 9/11, and I'm pretty furious with myself for letting it affect me that way. I realize I'm going to have to deal with it some day, but I'm waiting until its really, really necessary!

6. I am total sucker for cutesie stuff with strawberries or cherries on them. Dish towels, flower pots, curtains - you name it. Again, I realize I'm going to have to deal with this issue some day, but just not quite yet...

Okay, that's 6 completely random, rather ordinary yet quirky things about me. I now tag BD - because she's the only other person with a blog that I know who hasn't been tagged yet (as far as I know, anyway - sorry B if you already have!).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics Daze...

Well, as prophesied, I spent nearly the entire day yesterday watching the Olympics. I did take a break to do some light cleaning, and I did make a quick run to Target - although, there were TV sets at Target broadcasting the games, so I actually didn't miss too much. By 12:30 this morning, I had seen preliminary qualifying heats for double sculls in rowing, mens qualifying gymnastics, bicycling, a lot of beach volleyball, and several swimming events. Apparently, while I was sleeping between Friday and Saturday, the American women's fencing team swept the medals in their events - and I missed it!! Clearly, I'm going to have to quite sleeping. I did however get to see Michael Phelps win the first of what could be a record 8 gold medals, and Dara Torres swim in her first Olympic event in 8 years at the age of 41. That was cool. Bailey and Pepper got in on the action and attempted to catch the rowers on TV by pawing at the screen. It was hysterical. It must have been something about the way the rowing sculls moved or something - maybe they looked like bugs to the cats. If only I had a camera...

Today, I decided I needed to get some laundry done (which I have to pack up and carry off-site, to a place with no TV, sadly), so I allowed myself several hours of non-Olympic activity. When I got back, I watched the finale of a men's water polo match between the USA and China. I have to admit, I've never really watched water polo much, and I've always thought those little tie-on caps they wear are kinda dorky, but holy Mary Mother of God are those guys in good shape! Did you know they have to tread water for the entire match?? Its like hours of treading water! Anyway, I didn't really understand much of what was going on, but in the end the USA won, and I was duly impressed. Now, the never ending coverage of bicycling and beach volleyball is about to begin. I'm actually thinking I can do without that today.

Tonight - diving begins!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beijing 2008

I love the Olympics. I love them!! I'm completely in to the whole Olympic spirit, world peace, understanding through sport, spirit of competition, higher faster stronger thing. It may be naively idealistic of me, but I love the idea of 16 days when everyone in the world is focussed on the same thing - there's no conflict, there's no hate, there's just friendly competition. I admit, I have some issues with the games being held in China this year. I don't think Beijing should have been chosen in the first place, but what's done is done, and I've decided to be happy for the Chinese people, not their government. And as such, I must say that the Opening Ceremonies last night were FANTASTIC!! I was really impressed. I had friends GG and LL over for Chinese food, and we watched the whole darn thing. We enjoyed all the native costumes from around the world (although, seriously, Egypt - plain gray suits?? Its the Olympics - do something thematic! Like Bermuda, in their Bermuda shorts!) and we balled our eyes out over the little boy who marched in with the Chinese flag bearer - he was a survivor of the Chinese earthquake a few months ago. It was a great evening, and it got me psyched for the coming weeks!


Monday, August 4, 2008

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Well, my week of vacation has come to and end, and today I was back at work at the museum. I'm hoping to have lots of pictures to post soon from my time at the beach, but in the meantime here's a run-down on Vacation '08:

The rental house: have you ever seen that mid-80's movie starring John Candy called Summer Rental? Well, if you have, you pretty much know what our vacation house was like. And I'm not talking about the palatial paradise house that John Candy and family mistakenly arrive at in the beginning of the film! This house was ROUGHING IT. There was no AC, TV, phone, dishwasher, etc. The beds were all basically camp cots, and there was an ant issue in the kitchen. However, there was running water.

The surf and sand: FABULOUS!! The house might have been, um, lacking, but its major perk was that it is literally right on the beach. You open the front door and there's the ocean. So, even though it was a sweltering hot week with no AC, we could run down to the water and take a dip anytime we wanted to. My nephew and I spent a lot of time building very elaborate sand castles - a passion we both share. So, the beach part was terrific. Really, really nice perk!

The sites and sounds: Atlantic Beach is definitely not a touristy kind of town. Other than the beach, there isn't much to go and see, which was fine with us. We did check out the afore-mentioned aquarium, which I must say was really, really nicely done. We also visited Fort Macon state park, where they've restored the 19th century military fort. Although all of the exhibits at this fort referred to the Civil War as the "War Between the States", I didn't see much else to suggest a strong Confederate bias, and again I was really impressed with how well it was done. Lastly, we stopped in the cute little town of Beaufort and visited the maritime museum there. Very small, but crammed full of cool stuff, including artifacts from Blackbeard's ship "The Queen Anne's Revenge", which wrecked off the coast of Beaufort in the 1700's (I think). One afternoon we just couldn't take the heat anymore and went to see the movie Wall-e at the theater. I cried.

The level of relaxation: Pretty good. I mean, any time you spend lots and lots of quality time with your entire family you'll start to get a little tense, but otherwise I'm feeling pretty rejuvenated!

Thus endeth Vacation '08. I don't know if we'll be returning to Atlantic Beach next year or not, but it served us well.

Now, back to shaking the sand out of everything I own...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

T-Minus 96 hours...

Yes that's right - only 96 hours to go before I leave for the beach! Yay! Unfortunately, I'm now getting to the stressful part of vacation prep. I have a million things to do, both at work and at home. This evening, I have to make cookies (my contributions to vacation food), pay all the bills that will be due while I'm gone (that oughta be interesting, since I don't have much moolah in my checking account right now!), start cleaning out my refrigerator, take out my recycling, etc. etc. So naturally, I'm procrastinating on my blog! I also procrastinated at work today, and spent most of my time looking for fun things to do in Atlantic Beach. I discovered the North Carolina Aquarium, in Pine Sholls, which has everything from a 360,000 gallon fish tank to surfing lessons for kids. Awesome. Anyway, I need to get to those cookies! I'll try to remember to post the recipe tomorrow - its a recipe my Aunt Hope gave me, and its perfect for people who can't really bake, like me. In the end you get chocolate chip cookies, but you start out with a yellow cake mix. Awesome.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blah Sunday...

Perhaps its because I always save my weekend chores for Sundays (laundry, cleaning, etc.), or perhaps its because I know I have to head back to work the next day, but Sunday afternoons are always a little blah for me. Today is no exception, unfortunately. I did my usual Sunday morning routine, which actually I like very much - coffee and a "real" homemade breakfast while watching CBS Sunday Morning on TV. My grandmother watched Sunday Morning every week without fail when I was growing up, and when we would pick her up afterwards to go to church, she would recount every segment of the show in great detail to us during the drive. This used to drive me crazy, and as a kid I always thought of Sunday Morning as an old geezer show. I'm not sure what, but something changed after I started living on my own. Maybe it was just nice to know I was watching something at the same moment as my grandmother, even though she was far away. Whatever it was, Sunday Morning has become part of my weekly ritual, and I really do enjoy it!

Unfortunately, my relaxing morning was followed up by the bleaching of Bailey and Pepper's litter box, which is done in the bathtub, so that lead to me cleaning the whole bathroom, and I couldn't very well put a squeaky clean litter box back on a dirty floor, so I then cleaned the entire kitchen as well. Now, I'm pretty much exhausted. I had planned on working on one of my many home improvement projects today, but that's looking less and less likely! Oh well, at least my house (and the litter box) will be clean while I'm on vacation. GG has very kindly agreed to come in and take care of the cats while I'm gone (she's a saint!), and it will decrease my embarrassment greatly if I know things are neat and tidy when she visits!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Countdown Begins!

Exactly one week from tomorrow, I will be leaving for my long-awaited Summer Vacation. I capitalize it because its important. Almost every summer, my parents, my sister and her family and occasionally a few other family members pack up and drive a really long way to the beach, where we usually rent a house for a week. For most of my life, our summer getaway destination of choice was the idyllic seaside resort of Cape May, New Jersey. Over the last few years, though, the perfect Victorian gingerbread-encrusted paradise of my childhood has been getting more and more crowded with tourists (my family does not consider itself "tourists" - we're practically locals, seeing as we've vacationed there for nearly 30 years) and more importantly, it has been getting more and more expensive. So, despite my family's innate fear of change, we've made the decision to spend our vacation week in an entirely new place - Atlantic Beach, NC. We've rented a big, completely stripped-down house that's literally right on the beach - no air conditioning, no dishwasher, and no tourists. I can't wait!

In my family, the build-up to going on vacation is almost as important as the actual vacation. Most of the places we've rented over the years were pretty strip-down places, which required that you bring your own sheets, towels, dishes, pots and pans, food, etc. So, about a month beforehand, my mother would haul these huge cardboard packing boxes out of the attic and set them up in various rooms of the house. Over those next weeks, they would slowly fill up with tons and tons of stuff, until they were just on the verge of being too heavy to carry. Then, late in the night before we were to leave for vacation, my dad would drive the family vehicle (sometimes a massive station wagon with wood-grain trim, sometimes an aqua-colored minivan) into the back yard, and we'd spend several hours loading the packing boxes and nearly everything else we owned into it. Looking back on it, I'm not really sure why we had to do this after dark, but that's the way it was every year. Then on the morning of departure my mom would wake me up at 4:00am, we would all stumble blindly into the Vacation Mobile, which was still sitting in the backyard and only by the grace of God had not sunk into the ground during the night, and we'd be on the road - still under the cover of darkness. BD remembers the early morning departure well, I'm sure - she came with the fam on several vacations, God bless her!

Anyway, with Summer Vacation '08 looming on the horizon, its time for me to start the preparations. Sadly, I will not be at my parents' house to witness the packing box set-up or the midnight car-packing, but I plan to start a few vacation-prep traditions of my own. This week is going to be awesome!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Today at the Museum

Collections inventory continued today at work, and as usual it was both horribly tedious and at times so ridiculous my intern and I were crying because we were laughing so hard. We didn't find any more explosives, sadly, but we did come across a few conundrums. Here's a few of my favorites:

1) Object ID # 1997.041, Object Name: Unknown, Object Description: Blank, Location: ?
However, whatever 1997.041 is, it was appraised in 2001 at a value of $250. Figure that one out!

2) Object ID # 1976.351, Object Name: Reel to reel film, Object Description: Blank, Location: ?
We searched and searched and searched for like an hour for this reel of film, and finally found a plastic bag containing a cardboard box on which someone had written "1976.351". "Finally!" my intern exclaimed, and we carried our find over to the computer in order to fill in the catalog record a bit more fully. When we opened the box - you guessed it - it was empty.

3) Archival Document # 1979.031, Letter dated 1824
This item actually had a location listed for it, but when we opened the appointed folder, there was a note inside saying that the document had been moved to another folder in 1984. So, we located that folder. Inside it was a note saying the document had been moved to the previous folder in 1984.

Thus endeth another day of inventory. My intern might quit in protest soon, so as a reward I'm taking her on a field trip this Thursday. I'm looking forward to it, too!

P.S. Can someone please explain to me how to change the time on my posts to this blog? I just ntoiced that the times of my posts are way off...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Moving On

Well, after my rude awakening to the realities of homebuying last week, I've decided that the best thing to do is to accept that I'll be living in my teeny-tiny little house for a while longer and make the best of it. I've been kind of living in "temporary" mode ever since I moved in here - "No, I'm not going to hang those pictures on the wall since I'm probably just going to be moving out soon." or "I'll leave the walls white since I don't want to re-paint them again in a few months." I'm going to put an end to that now, and really focus on settling into this place. I really like making things and being creative, so I'm starting a list of projects for my little rental. First on the list is to finish making curtains for the windows. I have a sewing machine, and I actually did make one curtain when I moved in (it actually hides the alcove where Pepper and Bailey's litter box is located), so there's no reason why I can't do some nice window treatments in all the rooms. Also, I'm thinking I need to address storage issues. I have A LOT of stuff sitting in cardboard boxes, which are not really attractive, so I need to come up with a more decorative approach. And I might just paint. I'm not completely sure that I'll do that, but I really don't like white walls. Anyway, the list is growing!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

That's That...

So, I had the appointment with the FHA lender on Friday afternoon. There's good news and there's bad news (and the bad news wasn't so bad that it ruined the rest of my weekend). First the good news: the super-nice mortgage consultant that I spoke with crunched the numbers, and it turns out that I do absolutely qualify for an FHA loan!! Yay - the federal government likes me!! Then there's the bad news: I have a not-so-great "debt to income ratio". What is a debt to income ratio? Well, apparently the way the government decides how much money they can safely loan you is that they add up all the debt payments you make per month and divide it by your monthly income. If the resulting number is too high (or low - I'm not actually sure which) they classify you as being high-risk, and the amount of money they can lend you drops. In my case, I make monthly payments on a car, student loans and a credit card. Now while I have an excellent credit score and I handle these payments without any problem, the government thinks that a house would be too much for me to handle. Well, at least a decent house. I do qualify for about $165,000 in loan money, but in my area of the country that will basically get me a "unique fixer-upper" in a really, really bad neighborhood! So, that as they say is that. I'll do some further checking and see if there are any other possibilities for someone in my situation, but its doubtful. Unless a not-too-dilapidated house in a safe neighborhood for under $165,000 shows up on the market in the near future, it looks like I'm going to renting for a while longer. Bummer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dreams and Reality

So, I made my apointment with the FHA lender. Its scheduled for Friday afternoon. I'm hoping that wasn't a dumb move - I don't want a bad experience to ruin my whole weekend! Oh well. Buddy BD, who owns her own house and therefore will be the expert I call on constantly throughout this process, assures me that the lender won't laugh at me. Still, I'm a teensy bit nervous...

Also as BD predicted, I'm already starting to live in a bit of a homeowner's dream world. Last night I drew floorplans for furniture arrangement for a house I saw for sale on line. Cart before the horse much?? I can't help myself though. To have my own space that I can do what I want with, whenever I want, and to know that I'll never have to paint the walls white again before I leave - that will be a beautiful thing. I just have to get through these minor financial considerations first...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Here's a funny story...

Ah, its that time of year again in the museum world! That time when curators everywhere spend hour upon tedious hour conducting that all important Collections Management procedure - a comprehensive collections inventory. Now, if you're not a museum curator, this phrase probably means nothing to you, and furthermore it doesn't sound like it would produce a funny story. Ah, but there you would be wrong - especially when it comes to my museum and its whackadoodle existence. A collections inventory (which in all honesty is not performed every year - maybe every 5 years or so, if you're lucky) is when the staff of a museum visually accounts for every single item in its historical collection. Every plate, every chair, every painting, every fragment of something that might have once been attached to something more important - if its been accessioned into the collection, we (and by "we", I mean "I") have to track it down, verify that its where we thought it was, and make note of the confirmation in a computer database of some sort. If a museum has been professionally run for a number of years, this process isn't too bad - you generally know where your stuff is. When you work at my museum you have a different situation. Since the early 20th century, my museum has collected stuff - lots and lots of stuff. Most of it was squirreled away in drawers and closets and put in boxes without labels. An entire generation of professional curators has spent the last 2 decades trying to rectify the situation, and I swear I'm so close to finally getting the place ship-shape! Then comprehensive collections inventory comes along and totally bursts that bubble. Just to give you a taste of what inventory season is like at my museum, here's a story from my last inventory project in 2005:

My interns and I were climbing around in a small cave-like storage room in the basement of the museum building. When I say "climbing around" I literally mean climbing over huge mountains of wooden crates, and hanging perilously from the edge of old steel shelving units. If I remember correctly, we were looking for a Revolutionary War-era button, which we believed might be in a box labeled "Miscellaneous" (that's a whole other story). One of the interns found a box that was about the size of a shoe box, which looked like a good candidate. We opened it and found a plastic bag containing a large quantity of a powdery substance and several fragments of what looked like old waxed paper. Clearly not a button. However, this new find presented a problem. Not being a historical munitions expert, I couldn't be sure, but the substance in the bag sure looked like gunpowder, and the waxed paper bits sure looked like the remnants of old gun cartridges. The question then arose, how does one responsibly deal with or dispose of old explosives? My interns and I just looked at eachother for a while - this was a new one, even for my museum. So, thinking that the stuff in the bag surely wasn't dangerous anymore (it was obviously old, and it would have exploded by now if it was going to, right?) I tossed the onto my desk, where it sat for several days until I had a chance to make some calls to the local fire department. Apparently my phone calls put the fear of God into the firemen. "You did what with it?!?!?!" they exclaimed, "Its sitting on your desk?!?!?! Get it outside NOW!!!!" Okay, so I ran that baby out the door, down the stairs and into our historic rose garden as fast as I could. Within minutes a fireman showed up and put the bag in a bucket and covered it with sand, then strung up caution tape all around it. Next, in rolls the bomb squad - THE FREAKIN' BOMB SQUAD!! And they're wearing all that gear you see on TV, too! I have to admit it was kinda cool. Anyway, the bomb squad people put the "ordnance" in an iron box, which they would then take to a firing range and blow up. Luckily, it made it out of the museum without blowing up prematurely.

Needless to say, that was one of my more memorable days on the job. And it was all because of the collections inventory. Can't wait to see what I find this year!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


The connections between my real life and Hollywood movies continue. Over the weekend, I happened to watch the movie Wimbledon with some friends. For those of you who don't know, it stars Paul Bettany (pretty much my ideal man and perfect in all ways, except for his current marital status) and Kirsten Dunst, and is predictably about Wimbledon. Today, although I spent nearly 4 hours doing laundry and thought I had missed it, I was able to catch the real Wimbledon Men's Finals between Raphael Nadal and Roger Federer (sorry, G - you were right, Federer was still in) and what a match it was. I don't really know much about tennis, other than what I learned in one summer's worth of ill-fated tennis lessons in the 5th grade, and every time I watch it on TV, it takes me about halfway through the match to remember how the scoring works. And occasionally the crowd will suddenly start cheering and John McEnroe's voice will say "Did you see that?!?! Unbelievable!!!" and I have no idea why, but I still enjoy and appreciate a good match when I see one. Honestly, I think today's Wimbledon championship was even better than what Hollywood concocted for Paul Bettany - either Federer would win his 6th straight Wimbledon title and enter the history books, or Nadal would win his first Wimbledon after losing a heartbreaker to Federer last year. It ended up being the second longest (I think) Wimbledon match ever played, there were 3 rain delays, and it went later into the night than any other Wimbledon match (9:18pm, London time). It took 6 hours to decide the winner. In the end, it was Nadal. And here's the best part: after he won, he climbed up into the stands to hug his parents - just like in the movie!!! Awesome...

So, in other news, I've been doing some more work on the home-buying front. After investigating the FHA programs for first-time homebuyers, I think I qualify income-wise. So, I tracked down an FHA lender in my area and tomorrow I'll be calling her to set up an appointment. I'm figuring this could go one of two ways. Either I'll walk in to this appointment with the lender and find out that absolutely I qualify, and I'll wonder why I took so long to do this, or the lender will laugh her butt off at me and ask what on Earth makes me think I could possibly afford to buy a house? I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Patriotic Spirit

Yesterday, in honor of the 4th of July I went with some friends to take in all the sights and sounds of small-town America on a day when small-town America always shines. There was a 5K race, a parade, an impressive street festival, and some really good fireworks. But, my absolute favorite event of the day was a local tradition - a silly raft race. Groups of people who were moved by the patriotic spirit constructed a variety of floating displays, and then got them from the far end of town, down the river, and finished (if they were lucky) at the city dock. We stood on a bridge over the river at about the halfway point of the race, and we had an excellent view of all the crazy stuff that floated by. The picture above is of my favorite feat of nautical engineering, with a sort of Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn twist. It did not come in first - or even close to first - but you have to admire their pluck. Clearly, this is a bunch of dads who were determined that their kids were going to have a good time. Gotta love dads! Other "rafts" were quite elaborate, featuring foot-powered paddle wheels, sails, and in one case a sound system that amplified the singing talents of a girl who belted out a patriotic medley that was pretty good. It was a great day on the river!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I found this photo in a box last night while I was trying to organize the piles and piles of stuff I've saved over the last few years to put in scrapbooks. Its of my aforementioned cat, Bailey, trying to squeeze himself into a colander that he likes to sleep in. He fit perfectly in it when he was about 8 weeks old. Its been a challenge ever since. Anyway, the picture made me laugh, so I thought I'd use it as my first attempt to post an image. Ta-Da!

Before I forget, Happy Birthday United States of America! Tomorrow is the 4th, and to get in the right patriotic spirit, I've been watching the HBO series John Adams on Netflix. I swear I didn't plan it this way, but I will be watching the episode where the Continental Congress signs the Declaration of Independence tonight - on the eve of its 232nd anniversary. I'm such a history geek that I'm all excited about that!

I made potato salad this evening for a get-together I'm going to tomorrow, and I tried a Martha Stewart recipe (I know, whoa). It turned out pretty well, but it didn't make nearly as much as I thought it would. Hmmm. Hopefully, no one will be very hungry!

Off to watch JA and his awesome wife Abby...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Great Olive Oil Debacle of '08

So, friend GG wanted to know why I was slacking on my blog postings - I did not post anything for June 30th - and I began to tell her about my adventure last night that prevented me from posting. Both GG and friend MC felt the story would make a great blog posting, so since I did not a) get around to finalizing my financial plan, or b) have a particularly exciting day at work, I will oblige and tell the true and honest events of last evening...

I was making pesto pasta for dinner last night. As I think I've already mentioned, I am not much of a cook, but pesto pasta is something I can whip up fairly quickly and it always tastes good. I had decided to add low-fat feta to the mix last night, so I was feeling rather good about my kitchen skills. Briefly. Have you ever had a run of days when you swear you're more clumsy than usual? Well, I have been a total clutz for the last few days, and it culminated in my kitchen last night, just after the addition of the feta. I had left a bottle of olive oil open on the counter while I was putting things back in my fridge. As I was reaching across the counter for something, I elbowed the bottle and it spilled. Normally, not a huge deal. But the way in which the bottle spilled made it an absolute disaster. Half of the spill flowed onto my stove top. I have a gas stove, which means open burners, so the oil flowed INTO the burners. It also ran like a waterfall down the front of the stove and onto the floor. In addition to being very tiny, my house also kinda tilts to the left a bit, and so upon hitting the floor the oil slick flowed UNDER the stove. If my stove were movable, again this would not be terrible. But being a gas stove, it is permanently in place. I swear, it really was like watching a disaster unfold in slow motion. Within the blink of an eye, the ENTIRE contents of the bottle was on the loose. So, I immediately dove to the floor with wads of paper towels and laid on my stomach and tried to scoop the oil out from underneath. This attempt succeeded only in using up EVERY PAPER TOWEL in the house, and coated my entire front in oil. I moved on to regular towels, which I used to soak up what had spilled into the burners. I sacrificed some really, really cute kitchen towels - I started to cry a little. At this point, in what I believe was an attempt to make me feel better, both my cats (Pepper you know - Bailey is her brother) entered the fray and began walking through the oil that was still on the floor. They soon had oil all over themselves, too, and started jumping up on the countertops to get away from the ooze. I lost my temper and swore pretty loudly, and both the cats went running from the room - tracking pretty little paw-prints in oil down the hallway. I did apologize to them later on, as I tried to wipe the oil from their fur (eventually gave up on that - they'll lick it off, right?). Anyway, what seemed like many hours later, the situation was under control. Every surface in the kitchen had been swabbed down with soap and water, and the stove doesn't seem to be a fire hazard. Casualties included a favorite old, broken-in T-shirt, a pair of shorts, 4 kitchen towels and most of the trees in the Amazon rain forest. And because I'm trying to be more optimistic, I must say that the floor around the stove does have a nice sheen to it now.

So that's why I didn't post anything last night...

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I need to get my finances in order. If I am indeed going to try to buy a house any time in the near future, I have to prove to myself that I'm capable of living on a pretty severely restricted budget every month. So, this morning, I got out a handy-dandy day-planner that I haven't really used much, and decided to chart out all of my required expenses for the next month, and figure out how much cash I can allow myself to spend. Well, my math skills are sad to say the least (remember I work in a museum - we don't do math in museums), so perhaps I did something wrong, but it appears that I should be making a $20 bill last for about 3 weeks every month. That can't be right, can it? Surely not. Anyway, I got so depressed that I gave up and put the day-planner away. I'll try it again when I'm in a happier state of mind.

Happily, this gloomy financial forecast didn't dampen the whole weekend. My friend GG called last evening and invited me over for an impromptu cocktail hour and dinner of stuff she'd bought at the farmer's market. It was a pleasant evening and the food was very tasty. I am always impressed by people who can whip up great meals out of basic, simple ingredients. I am not one of those people.

Also, I watched the movie In Bruges (starring Colin Farrel) last night. I was excited about it, because the previews for it looked pretty funny. And actually the first hour or so of it was pretty funny. Then all of the sudden it took this super-violent, very dark turn somewhere in the middle. It did not end well. So, I'm not sure I can really reccomend it. However, it was excellent Colin Farrel-viewing though!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Welcome to my world...

Well here I am finally - posting to my very own blog. I've been thinking about doing this for quite a while now. I work as a museum curator, and over the last few years several of my interns have been on me to start a blog called "What not to do in Museums", in which I would rant about all the proper museum methodology that I try to impart to them every day. While I would find such a blog amusing, and probably several of my friends in the profession would too, it might get old after a while. So, instead, I plan to post about not only the whacky stuff that happens to me at work, but also about my life in general - therefore it will be a true collection.

At the moment, I live in an extremely tiny rental. It is, technically, a house, but it is smaller than most of the apartments I've lived in thus far. While I'm pretty good at maximizing my space and making due with what I've got, there are days when my lack of elbow-room threatens to drive me over the edge. Today is such a day. I spent most of the day cleaning (yay! I found some motivation!), and then I got down to the business of connecting my new printer to my new laptop. Because my cable internet connection requires a cable outlet and my ethernet cord is unreasonably short, my laptop and printer have to be incredibly close to the only empty electrical outlet in my teeny-tiny house, which just happens to be behind some of the living room furniture. Therefore, I had to move the furniture, which was not easy, and then I had to sit on the floor behind the furniture, with what seemed like 30 cables and wires going every which-way. And my cat Pepper wanted to help too. She walked back and forth across the keyboard several times turning various programs on and off. Oh, and did I mention its like 105 degrees today, and my AC is, um, not quite up to the challenge? Anyway, everything's connected now, and the furniture is back in place, but this minor incident in my day has reinforced what I've been telling myself for a while now - I need to buy a house!

So, stay tuned for adventures in first-time home buying, as well as news from the museum world...