Hungry Like the Wolf, Mucus, and Tin Foil.

Look at the outside temperature on that thermometer!  It’s January 31st in Pennsylvania, for crying out loud!  It’s not supposed to be 61 degrees!

Why are you complaining about nice weather?  What’s your problem?!

My problem is that no one told me there would be nice weather today.  I wasted the whole day.  I could have sent the kids outside for recess at lunch and had a few blessed minutes of peace and quiet.  Or at least a few blessed minutes of tv.  Whatever…

Yeah, I could listen to the weather reports on the radio, but if your only options were the abysmal radio stations around here, you wouldn’t listen either.  You can choose from among 500 country stations, 1 pop station, 1 classic rock station (read: all bad 80’s), or fuzz.   If I have to hear “Hungry like the Wolf” one more time….

Since I can’t tolerate country music, and am forced to listen to pop at the skating rink, I resort to the classic rock station.  And they play weird stuff on that station.

For example, right in the middle of a normal lineup, without even the slightest hint of irony, they played “Ghostbusters.” Ghostbusters?  Really?  Out of all the music ever performed, they play Ghostbusters?

I’ve given up on music.  Soon I’ll be listening to Chinese classical music like Darling Husband.  Now there’s a man with some unusual taste in music.

Back to the weather:

Darling Husband has a special weather radio.  When there’s bad weather in our area, alarms will go off and a voice comes on telling us, “This weather advisory is to alert you that there is a horrible disaster coming your way.  Don’t you wish you’d taken it seriously when they told you to have 40 gallons of water per person on hand, along with your fully stocked pharmacy and fully loaded automatic weapons?  Too late for you, you lazy bum.”

Along with the dire advisories, I think the weather radio should give out fair weather advisories.

That way, when I gather up the boys and stuff them into their winter coats, only to walk outside to a balmy 61 degrees, I won’t have to rail at the heavens demanding my customary rain, sleet, or snow for grocery shopping day.  The day was taunting me with its warm sunniness.  It knew I wasted the whole day inside.

When I was in high school a classmate from China used to say, “Sixty degree, you wear short!”  I’m not trying to make fun of her accent, but whenever it’s in the 60s, I can still hear her voice, “Sixty degree, you wear short!”

In China they don’t add an s to pluralize words.  Our word for deer is like that.  One deer, 10 deer.  So, for her, one degree is the same as sixty degree.  I’m not sure why the musician 50 Cent calls himself 50 Cent, because it’s supposed to be 50 Cents.  And yes, it bothers me.  I take it personally.  I wonder if his agent ever tried to tell him that he’s saying it wrong, and how that conversation went down.

Today at Walmart, I learned that “the real problem isn’t always the mucus.”  It’s good information to have.  That’s why I’m passing it on to you.

I learned that little nugget from those tvs they have stationed around the store.  I resent those tvs.  I take them a little personally, too.  Especially when they tell me about mucus.

———————–

Watched while cooking/cleaning the kitchen:

The rest of “The Last Man on Earth.”  It followed the book almost exactly, but the book ending was slightly better than the movie ending.

Malcolm in the Middle.

Star Trek stats:

# of women in tin foil costumes: 1

# of shirtless men, including Kirk: 2

# of kissing scenes: 4.  The kids were appropriately disgusted.

————————–

Helpful hints (and not about mucus):

If your grapes are a little sour, dip them in cool whip.

If you get tired of standing around while the kids inspect every toy in the toy department, sit in one of these kiddie carts.  They’re way fun when the kids push you around in them.  As long as you don’t get caught.  Then it’s a little embarrassing…

Logic will get you Shrimp Fried Rice

Today I finally finished this series (in the front of the picture) that I began reading back in 2004.  Seven years ago.  That’s how long it took for the author to write the series.  When I finally got the last book, I had to re-read the first 3, just so I could remember what happened.

It’s the picture of the day because I’ve spent the last couple of weeks brushing my teeth and reading these books.

The books in the back of the picture are another series.  You can see five books in the picture.  I’ve only read the first four books.  Why?  Because the author took six years to write the fifth book.  Six years! 

The author says that he can complete the story in seven books.  But at one book every six years, he won’t be done for twelve more years!  He’s 63 years old!  In twelve years he’ll be 75!  He could die and no one will ever know how it ends!   Oh, the horror!

If he does finish all seven before he dies (in 12 years), I plan on reading the entire series all in one sitting.  The kids will be out of the house by then.  I’ll only get up to go to the bathroom and open the door for the Chinese takeout delivery guy.  In 12 years I’ll have been married for 32 years, so I’m sure Darling Husband will know to leave me alone for those couple of weeks.

(My reading was a source of much tension when we first got married.  Watch this video. It’s one of my favorite songs and it pretty much sums up our first year of marriage.*)

Speaking of Chinese takeout, I had shrimp fried rice for dinner tonight.  (Not Li’s.)

I called Darling Husband and said, “I’m not cooking dinner tonight.  I want shrimp fried rice.”

And he said, “Didn’t we just get Chinese food on Saturday?”

And I said, “I fail to see the correlation between a meal that I ate two days ago and my current craving.  How are these two events related?”  He couldn’t come up with a rebuttal and I got my shrimp fried rice.

I’m finding that raising an eyebrow, speaking in measured tones, and pretending to be a Vulcan is effective.  Especially on the children.  Now that I’ve made the kids watch Star Trek, they finally understand logic.

For example, sometimes my son will ask for something and I’m not sure if I want to say yes or no.  “Can I have that donut?”  I might answer, “Hmmm.  I don’t know.  We’ll be eating dinner in an hour.  You should probably wait.”  When he hears that, he will become whiny and generally unpleasant until I tell him to knock it off.  And then he gets mopey.

But this time when he got whiny and mopey and unpleasant, I said, “It is illogical for you to behave so emotionally.  It is a medical fact that eating a donut one hour before dinner will cause you not to be hungry enough to eat your dinner, resulting in a deficiency of necessary vitamins.  Furthermore, experience should tell you that behaving in this manner is ineffective.  A more logical course of action would be to state your case to determine whether we can come to a mutually beneficial understanding.”

He gave me a confused dog stare…and then stated his case.   He got to eat a few bites of donut and saved the rest for after his meal.   And no more whining!

*For those of you who wondered:

In the house by his window, he’s reading The Nanny Diaries.

Pulled over in the car is Marley and Me.

(I know because I recognized the covers.)

Dead cars, Uno Losers, Waterlogged Husbands, and Strawberry Tea.

What a day!  How can I choose just one picture?  Instead of choosing just one and talking ad nauseam about it (like normal) I’ll just post a bunch of pictures.

First—at 7:30, when it was only 28 degrees outside, my car died on the way to church.   There I am puttering along, and the engine just….stopped.

28 degrees is really cold on a Sunday morning!

The car has over 193,000 miles.  Might have to get a new one.  But I hope not, because we’re cheap and hate buying expensive things like cars.  Makes us cranky.

At 7:50, once Darling Husband rescued me, I took some quick portraits of B.  B lives overseas and works with orphans.  She’s also a gracious loser at Uno.

She asked me to take her picture for the prayer/business cards she gives out to people.  Gulp.  A little bit of pressure there, since she’ll be getting the portrait printed on hundreds of little cards to give out to hundreds of little people (and maybe some big ones, too).  But look at her—She’s a cutie and hard to make look bad no matter how amateur the photographer.

At 8:00, I taught the preschoolers about Jesus being baptized.  Here are images of Jesus being baptized.

Wait…why is Jesus wearing a Toys R Us employee t-shirt?  Oh.  That’s actually Darling Husband from 18 years ago.  Isn’t he dreamy?  (Is that a butterfly on his shoulder?)

Wow.  Look at all that water coming off his head.  I wonder where all that water’s gonna go….?

You have to click on that one.  Look at the poor pastor’s face.  All that water…and he was right in the line of fire.  We should have given him Hazard Pay in the next offering.

Poor guy.  He did have an awesome sense of humor though, so he wasn’t really upset.  He was also prone to crying at weddings, even when he was the officiant.

At 1:30, I went to Gettysburg to take pictures of things that look like letters so I can spell out my friend’s last name to give to her for a birthday present.

Note: The last letter looks bad small, but looks good if you click on it to see it regular size.

HALL

I was tickled to find the Eiffel Tower for the A.  She gets to go to Paris for work All The Time.  Lucky!

At 5:30, Mom invited us to go out to eat at….

Ruby Tuesdays!  What!? Is that allowed?  Their strawberry tea is aMAzing.

Watched no tv today.

The Glorious Powers of ADHD

This is a picture of Darling Husband (the grey one) and Rob at Li’s Buffet.  Every now and then Rob does stand-up comedy at wherever it is that people go to do stand-up comedy so you know we had a good time at lunch today.

Rob and family came to the house after lunch.  We had a blessedly quiet conversation because it was warm enough for the younglings to go outside and play.  It’s so nice that they’re finally old enough to go outside unsupervised and you’re not afraid that they’ll try to eat a rock.  Or a bug.  I guess it wouldn’t really matter if they ate a bug.  It’s not like there are poison dart frogs in the backyard.  It would just be really gross to see your kid eat a bug.

I’ve learned that the best way to keep a house clean is to invite people into it as much as possible.  It gives you motivation not to be too much of a slob.  My plan was to tidy up this morning while Darling Husband studied for the class he’s taking and planned for the class he’s teaching.

At 8:30, the alarm went off.  We both stumbled out of bed.  I made my way to my bathroom and brushed my teeth.  This takes longer for me that is does for you because I turn on the ceramic heater in the bathroom and stand in front of it reading a book while I brush my teeth.  I can thaw and get a good 10 or so pages read before the day even starts.

In that time, Darling Husband had brushed his teeth, made our bed, folded the blankets on the fold out couch where the kids sleep and put them away, folded up the fold out couch bed, put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, started the dishwasher, and was halfway done making chocolate chip pancakes for the kids.

That’s because he hadn’t taken his ADHD meds yet.  Unfettered ADHD can be a glorious thing in a grown man who has learned how to harness its powers.

I managed to shoo him away so that he could do the work he was supposed to be doing (the studying and planning.)

After he studied, he was supposed to go to the post office and mail the tax bill.  I asked him to help me move a table into the basement before he left so I could vacuum the rugs while he was gone.

Once the table was in the basement, Darling Husband bounded up the stairs, had the vacuum out, plugged in and was vacuuming before I even reached the top of the staircase.  I had to shoo him away and take over so he could head to the post office.

That man gets more done in one hour than I do all day.

Our friends got a little taste of it last night when Darling Husband shouted out in the middle of an Uno round, “Speed Uno!  GO!!” and made us play so fast we were in danger of getting carpal tunnel syndrome in our wrists from flicking out our cards so fast.

We had to stop Speed Uno after one round because the rest of us were exhausted.

Watched while cooking/cleaning in the kitchen:  The Last Man on Earth.  Which is the true version of I am Legend.  Not that phony Will Smith version with the sappy, watered down ending.

I lost at Uno AGAIN! Inconceivable!

(FYI:  you can click on any of the pictures to see them larger.)

THIS is why I love living here.  Why would I ever go back to the suburbs, when this is less than a minute from my house??!  Seriously.  I pulled the car over and snapped the picture.  There were no cars zooming by, it was silent, a bit windy…

…but lovely.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about editing photographs.
The above picture is just as it came out of the camera, except that I put my little watermark on it, and I resized it smaller.  If I don’t resize the pictures, they use up all my allotted space on WordPress.  I keep a copy of the original, a copy of the regularly edited picture, and a third copy with the watermark and resized.

Below is the picture again, as I would normally edit it.  If you look carefully, you’ll see that a white shed is missing, as is a green tank, and some powerlines, and a telephone pole.  The colors are more vibrant and just the fence post and wire fencing have been sharpened.  The field and barn/house/some of the tree line have been softened.

I did all that in my beloved Picnik (which will be gone in April.  I’m still in mourning.)

No, wait!  I take that back.  I used Photoshop Elements to get rid of the powerlines.  I could have used Picnik, but it was actually easier in Elements (for a change.)

All of those edits took about 4 minutes in Picnik.  And for the casual hobbyist, that’s exactly how long I want it to take.  Quick, editing done, don’t really care if it’s perfect.  Just want it to look good enough that I don’t embarrass myself.

Sorry, guys.  I’m still a bit whiny about losing Picnik soon.  I’m not looking forward to how long it’ll take me to play with my pictures in Elements.  And I’m not even sure how I’ll be able to sharpen tiny bits of the picture in Elements the way I can in Picnik.  Waa, waa, waa.

I almost never, ever use the canned editing that they offer in Picnik, because it usually looks super fake.
But not on this picture!  For fun, I tried one of the canned things, and it looked kinda good.  (See below.)  This one was a canned black and white, but I used a little eraser to remove the b&w from the sky.

And for fun, I clicked on the Cinemascope edit.  Wow!  That looks good, too!

And the one called Cross-Process (whatever that is.)  It looks great!  (below.)

And Gritty!  Even gritty looks good!  This picture is amazing!  No matter what you do to the picture, it looks good!

This canned editing thing is called Holga.  I don’t know who Holga was, but I’m thinking she was blonde, with braids, and wore a viking helmet.  And lived in Sweden.  (below)

Lomo looks good.  (below)

And so does Orton.

And even boring old Sepia looks dramatic.  Wonderful!

Below is another picture that I took today, and I’ll walk you through my editing process for that one as well.

This was taken during the Homeschool Co-Op we belong to.  Every other week, homeschoolers who belong to the co-op can take their kids to classes  with real live other children!  Wow!  Homeschoolers interacting with people!  Who knew?!  

While I was supposed to be getting my classroom ready (I teach an art class), I saw these shoes some kids had taken off.  I don’t know who they belong to, but I loved the way they looked juxtaposed together.  The delicate ballet slippers next to the earthy moccasins.   I didn’t have a lot of time to set up the shot, and this picture was the best that I got.  I wish that I’d captured more of the moccasins in the picture, but I ran out of time.

Below is the picture directly from the camera, except for the watermark and resizing.

Below is how I would normally edit it.  I removed the black blob from the upper left hand corner.  I don’t think I did a very good job removing it because that part of the carpet now seems extra blurry-ish, but (again) I’m not really interested in making my pictures look professional; just presentable.  This is supposed to be  fun.

I made the colors slightly more vibrant and got rid of a couple of little cracks in the white part of the ballet slipper.  I sharpened just the ballet slipper and the metal studs on the moccasin.

Here it is:

And to show you why I rarely use the canned edits, here is the same picture using the canned edit of Holga (below.)

And Lomo.

I’ll stop with that because none of them looked good.  Instead of enhancing the picture, they detract.  Don’t you think?

For fun, here’s what I did this evening:

In the above picture you can see that we’re playing Superman Uno.  In Superman Uno there is an extra card called the Battle card (you can see it in my hand.)  When you play this card you pick another player to battle and they have to draw from the deck until they can lay down a blue or green card.

We have the following Uno games (did I already write about this in another blog?  This seems familiar.)

Cars

Batman

Barbie

Elvis

Superman

Each of those different versions has their own extra card.

In the above picture, I got a shot of K drawing cards, because we were sure that’s how the evening would go, with K drawing card after card and losing soundly.

Didn’t happen.  As you can tell from the below picture, K won four rounds in a row and the rest of us were pretty neck in neck in our losing.  (neck in neck?  Is that the phrase?  That doesn’t sound right.)

I came in dead last.  Sigh.

It’s late.  Gotta sleep.  Night, y’all!

No time to exercise today (co-op), so no Star Trek.

Watched while cooking/cleaning in the kitchen: Malcolm in the Middle.

Puny Arms and OSHA violations

Grocery Shopping Day today.

It rains or sleets or snows every single time I go shopping.  Every single time.  The only exception to the rule is during heat waves when it is 280 degrees and the ice cream melts.

I long for the day when my sons are strong enough to help me carry the groceries into the house.  They’re getting close.  This year they’re finally tall enough to carry the lighter bags without dragging them on the ground.

I once played a question game that asked, “If you could invent something, what would it be?”  My invention would be a robot or conveyor belt or transporter device that would take the groceries from the car into the house.

It’s not the endless trips back and forth from car to house (even though it means that there’ll be mud on the carpet from the rain, sleet, or snow.)  It’s the weight.  The bags are too heavy for my scrawny arms.  I walk on the treadmill, I don’t lift weights.  I have puny, toothpick arms.

Some bags are worse than others.  Right now, as I type this, I have a minor crick in my back because Janet bagged my bags too heavy.  She even said, “This one’ll be heavy,” about three different bags as I was hauling them up and over into the cart, feeling my muscle fibers pull apart like a cotton ball.

Why does Janet have to do that?   This is the second time I’ve been in her line and she’s overstuffed my bags.

See, I bring my own cloth bags with me.  I don’t do that because I’m particularly green.  I do that because the handles on the bags don’t dig into my hands like on those horrible little plastic bags.  And the cloth bags are quieter than the plastic bags.  I don’t like noise.

In fact, I don’t like noise so much that when I was a teenager I used to go to the Magazine section of the Catonsville library just for the silence.

(Wow, it’s all coming out:  Hanging out in the library.  Thick glasses.  Bad haircuts.  When I tell people I was a nerd, I mean it.  I wasn’t a cool person pretending I was a nerd.  I really was a nerd.)

The magazine section was in its own room in the basement of the library and it was so silent you could hear your ears ringing.  You’d have to turn the pages of the magazines reeeeal slowly so that they wouldn’t crackle, or you’d get dirty looks from the other people reading their magazines.

And heaven forbid you wanted one of the magazines deeper in the racks.  The magazines were on a special rack.  The racks display the face of each current magazine, and each shelf can flip up, like a breadbox, to show the older editions inside.

You’d better hope that your shelf wouldn’t squeak when it flipped.  If it did, you had a decision: open it slowly, letting the squeak be slow and gentle and maybe no one would notice, or get it over with in a single banshee-shriek squeak.   Sort of like opening a candy wrapper in church.  I’m on the side of ripping open the candy as fast as you can, so the noise is over and done with.  But I’ve sat by women (it’s always women, isn’t it?) who will fumble with that candy wrapper for 10 minutes.  And never even share.

What were we talking about?

Oh yeah, bagging.

So, I bring the cloth bags and they’re roomier and sturdier than the plastic bags.   And Janet asks, “Do you want your milk in a bag?” and I say, “Yes, two in a bag, please.”  And Janet does that, but she also adds the pound of butter and the big yogurt container and the hotdogs and then gives me her surgeon general warning about the weight.  Today, she not only overstuffed the milk bag, but she put all of the canned goods in one bag and she put the 5 pound bag of flour, big size Bisquick, two boxes of cake mix, two bottles of spaghetti sauce, and both V8 bottles in a single bag.

I’m never going to Janet’s line again.

Like I don’t go to Nancy’s line anymore.

When I put my items on the conveyor belt, I sort them how I want them bagged.  I’m not OCD about it, but I generally want all the cold stuff together and the fruit together and the eggs and bread at the end.

But Nancy wouldn’t put stuff into the bags as it came through.  No, she would hold back the cans until the tomatoes were rung up, and then put the cans with the tomatoes and the bread.  Squished tomatoes and flat bread!  Or the milk with the roasted chicken.  Cold chicken!  Curdled milk!

No more going to Nancy’s line.

One benefit to shopping alone at night in the rain: treats.  I accidentally walked down the Valentine’s Day Candy aisle and I got myself a little $1 box of chocolates.  I ate them all in the car on the way home and didn’t even have to share.

(Is that rain next to the box of chocolates?  Or drool?)

Star Trek Episode of the day: The Trouble with Tribbles.

Watched on tv while cooking/cleaning the kitchen: episodes of Jericho

Valium and Lasers

Took The Boy to the doctor today for a lingering cough.

In order to take The Boy to the doctor, I had to dress up in my fake business clothes.   If you look like a stay at home mother they wonder why you stay at home.  Maybe you’re not smart enough to get a job.  You run the risk of being Talked Down To because you might not be smart enough to follow along.  Hence, the fake business clothes.  Business clothes make you look smarter.

So do glasses.

Before I had Lasik eye surgery I wore thick glasses.  Glasses make your eyes look beady and cunning.  People would take one look at those thick glasses and beady eyes and know how smart I was.  The bad haircuts helped, too.  Thick glasses, bad hair, and love of sci-fi.  Check, check, and check–she’s smart!

Incidentally, speaking of Lasik, I had the dubious honor of being known as the Worst Patient Ever when I had my Lasik surgery done.

Before the surgery, they give you a Valium.   Why?  First, because most people are pretty freaked out about lasers being shot into their eyes, and second, so that you can sleep after the surgery and rest your eyes.  From having lasers shot into them.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I had too much Valium.  (I was scrawny.)  My husband still talks with unrestrained glee about the loopy conversation we had before the surgery.

When it was time for the surgery…I got nervous.  And when I get nervous, I talk.

That’s it.  Just talk.

But for some reason it annoys the medical personnel.

For example there was the time when I was donating blood and they asked me to leave.  There I was, needle in arm, blood dripping into the bag, and I got a little nervous:

“Wow, the needle hurts.  Should it hurt?  Maybe it’s not in right and it’ll damage my veins and they’ll collapse.  What if I pass out and fall off the chair and the needle rips a long gash in my vein and blood is pouring out everywhere and you can’t stop the bleeding?  What if the bag pops open and blood is dribbling out and no one notices and you keep taking my blood until I’m bled dry.  What if…”

They removed the needle after 2 minutes of this, gave me a cookie and sent me away.

Honestly.  They took out the needle and sent me away before they had all the blood.

Same sort of thing happened with the Lasik.  I don’t remember what I said (remember the valium?) but after the surgery the doctor told my husband that I was his Worst Patient Ever and he almost cancelled the surgery.  I am not exaggerating.

The follow-up visit the next day was just as bad.  All I can assume is that coming down off my triple dose of Valium left me emotionally unstable.  There’s really no other explanation.  I’ve never felt as spacey and out of control as that day, before or since.

During the follow up visit, the doctor checked my eyes, didn’t say anything, and left the room.  Another doctor came in and checked my eyes, didn’t say anything, and turned to write something down.

Two doctors?  And they won’t speak to me?  In my unstable, un-Valiumed state, I was convinced I would be blind within the hour and they were trying to figure out how to gently break the news to me.  I couldn’t breathe and blacked out, right there in the chair.

I will never take valium again.

Star Trek Quotes of the Day:

Bones:  He’s dead, Jim.

Redshirt death toll:  None.

Movie watched while cleaning/cooking in the kitchen:  Vantage Point.