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...