Friday, December 31, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I emailed them about my issue with my nook (almost typed "crack issue" and thought better of it) on December 16 and got an automated response that basically said I would receive a response from a Customer Service Representative within 24 to 48 hours. In my email, I specifically told them that I am hearing-impaired and it's complicated to navigate their 1-800 system via Relay.
I finally got a response today -- five days later. That's quite a few hours over their 24-48 hour window. Unfortunately, they aren't going to help me via email, and I need to either go to a brick-and-mortar store or call them. Here's what they said:
"Thank you for contacting us. Because of the many things that need to be verified and processed, unfortunately NOOK replacements can only be performed over the phone. If you know anyone who can assist you, or if you have a local Barnes andNoble store, they may be able to help. We ask that you call us at 1-800-THE-BOOK (1-800-843-2665) and select option 2 for Digital Support. We are available Monday through Friday from 8AM to 11PM EST, Saturdays and Sundays 9AM to 11PM EST. Customers outside of the United States may contact us at 201-559-3882. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused and we look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Kenneth Customer Service Representative - Digital Support Barnes & Noble"
I detest making phone calls via the Missouri Relay Service. They're just slow, and my blood pressure goes up when people on the other line hang up on me because they think the Relay operator is a telemarketer. So I'm either going to have to ask someone to make the call for me or risk life and limb and go into B&N during the pre- and post-Christmas insanity.
It is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but I'm just annoyed. Annoyed because I hate asking people to make phone calls for me. Annoyed because they waited five days to tell me that.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Let's face it: I'm not going to put money in the kettle every time I go to the store. And I already have other donation commitments -- donations that are year-round, not just during the holidays.
I added up the amount of money I've spent on postage and shipping so far this month for Solier's Angels packages and cards. It adds up fast! I'm sure December is going to be the month that costs the most, due to the increased number of cards I am sending for the holidays. But you know what? It's so worth it because of the smiles it puts on people's faces! I sent out some birthday cards today:
I have a surplus of cards, cardmaking supplies and patterned paper for cards, so it seemed like a logical thing to do to join the Soldiers Angels Cards Plus Team. It's fun -- birthday, thank-you and encouragement cards. Plus it's an excuse to buy more patterned paper! I found a bunch of patriotic paper at Hobby Lobby today:
I already have a pile of cards waiting to be stamped. Now all I need is a big, fat roll of stamps in my Christmast stocking!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Didn't go so well. He's not a huge fan of having "stuff" on his head. Or having his photo taken with something on his head:
After some coaxing and then some bullying, this is the best I can do:
Yep, that's a stink-eye if I ever saw one. He's since forgotten and forgiven me. It's a good thing I make my own Christmas cards and don't rely on a cool Christmas photo for cards, because this one wouldn't be too festive!
Monday, December 6, 2010
But when I get a cold/sore throat, I do tend to reach for the whiskey bottle. Not the whole bottle, mind you! Just a shot, mixed with some hot water, sugar or honey and lemon. Add a dash of clove, cinnamon or nutmeg and you should be good for a nap on the couch.
I've been nursing a cold since Saturday afternoon. "It" is going around and it's not much fun, and I don't think it's avoidable, no matter how sanitary you are or how much rest you get. It will get you right out of the blue. At least that's what i tell myself. It's almost as good as Nyquil.
I made the mistake of going to Rogers, Arkansas, to run a few errands and hit up the bookstore on a holiday weekend. I have no idea why I thought this was a good idea -- the traffic was nuts, lines were long. Now I remember why I prefer to do my shopping in the middle of the weekday. By the time i was on the way home with a caramel brulee latte, I started feeling kinda grungy. You know I'm sick when I miss watching the Vikings play!
On a brighter note: personalized Christmas gift No. 2 arrived today and I am beyond excited! I can't wait to give it to its new owner.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Ahhh, Christmas. Hard to believe it's only a few weeks away. I got one of the two personalized Christmas gifts I ordered today. Ummm. It didn't quite turn out the way I planned. Dangit. Errors in judgment seem to be the prevailing theme this week. Hopefully gift no. 2 will turn out better.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I'm (im)patiently waiting for the December anniversary issue to arrive at the Cassville newspaper office! The "Get Away for the Holidays in Style" and "Worth the Drive" teasers are for my articles.
In the meantime, I am also pushing my deadline to the limit. Tomorrow should be interesting as I try to get my articles done under the wire. I had a great restaurant visit/interview today and can't wait to share the restaurant with my readers.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Just like we shouldn't start anew only on New Year's, love only on Valentine's Day, thank a veteran only on Veteran's Day (you get the idea), we should be thankful for every day we're given, not just on Thanksgiving.
I'm thankful for (in no particular order):
- My great friends, some further away than others, and some I haven't seen in years.
- Facebook! I know it's perhaps silly to some, but it keeps me connected to friends near and far. (Plus it has a killer Scrabble app!)
- The work I get to do, often with a fresh cup of coffee and sometimes still in my pjs. While sometimes isolating, my freelance writing has developed into a rewarding career.
- A warm house to take shelter in, and the ability to pay the propane bill that is coming my way later this week.
- My family. Although it's scattered over three states these days, I somehow feel closer to them than ever before.
- My freedom. I've learned a lot over the past few months that's made me appreciate it even more -- so many people have sacrificed their own freedom to fight for ours.
- My new cochlear speech processor. Although all the sounds can be overwhelming at times, I'm truly enjoying its clarity, the help it is giving me with my lipreading & speech, and listening to music. (Stephanie, I hope you'll forgive me someday for buying that Kid Rock CD!)
All this and so much more. I'm grateful.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
You know you've lived in the country too long when someone picks on you for using the term "y'all" on Facebook.
You know you live in the country when the voting precinct's parking lot is mostly grass.
You know you live in the country when you look out your bedroom window and see THIS:
Watching the election results roll in -- I'm really only interested in how the Proposition B vote went here in Missouri. I'm also obsessing over the contest results over on pioneerwoman.com -- she was having a drawing for people to come and spend a weekend at THE Lodge. Please, please, please, please pick me!!!
I'm planning on getting back in the saddle tomorrow for the first time since losing Johnny. Gonna be bittersweet.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
That reminds me--I still need to move some plants off my patio before tonight's predicted frost! Nothing like procrastinating.
And I turned on the furnace this afternoon. 58 degrees was a little too chilly for me--my typing fingers got cold.
We're well on our way to winter. I'm disappointed by this every year. Time for some hot tea -- maybe with some peach schnapps in it for a little kick.
This morning on the way to town, there were some deer in the road. I tried to take a picture with the camera phone, but I wasn't fast enough. But I got this instead:
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The November issue of Connection magazine is hot off the press. Although I've seen a sneak preview on the computer, I can't wait to get my hands on it. December articles are progressing nicely and making me dream of Christmastime--even if I'd prefer to spend it in powdery white sand instead of frigid snow.
The neighbors down the road have a herd of longhorns I've been dying to take photos of. They occasionally graze in a picturesque field adjacent to Thomas Hollow, but I have not had time or true motivation to take the camera out there. Until yesterday. Of course, it was a cloudy, gray day so the vivid colors of the trees in the background didn't show through. The longhorns were not very appreciative of me intruding their territory--they were ready to bolt, even though I tried to stay quiet and on my side of the fence. I did get a few neat shots with the zoom lens, though!
Friday, October 8, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Believe it or not, I still have time to read. A girl's gotta have things to do that don't involve the computer. At least...my eyes do. My poor, tired, bloodshot eyes. These books are checked off on my "read" list.
Trust me, my "to-read" list is very long. I have "Little Bee" coming via GoodReads BookSwap and I'm looking forward to reading that one this weekend. Might pack it up with a picnic lunch and take a hike this weekend. I suppose I should wear blaze orange in honor of hunting season, though, even if I am going to hike on private property.
Baxter loves hiking. He is, however, a little weird. Witness this:
Yeah, seriously. He thought he was going to drag and carry this "stick" home -- or get me to throw it. Goober. We've been enjoying the fall weather and getting in a short hike here and there. Loving the fall weather!
Friday, October 1, 2010
Now that I'm home again (for now!), I have to buckle down and get to work. Magazine deadlines are staring me down. I got an unexpected new assignment from Demand Studios that will help my bottom line immensely. And my girl Brenda hooked me up with a sweet new gig writing for a soon-to-be-launched gardening website. That's not all--I have one more deal on deck that I am excited about, and it doesn't involve a computer or writing.
Now I better get to work on the writing that pays. Happy October!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
The actual art festival is all day Saturday & we are hoping for a bigger turnout this year. Connection magazine ran an article and photos with a preview of the festival. Listen for the banjoes. And watch for photos.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
My current favorite is the Zac Brown Band! I have their The Foundation CD and am wearing it out listening to it in the car. (I have no stereo or CD player at home or anything like that. hah.) Their lyrics are nice--I think the Sic 'em on a Chicken was written about Baxter. But I just like the music. I like Toes...but Chicken Fried and Where the Boat Leaves From are my faves.
The new ZBB CD, You Get What You Give, has been hyped up for weeks prior to today's release. Since I was in town, I stopped at my least-favorite store to treat myself to the CD.
(Isn't that font purty??)
No dice. You know you really live in the sticks when your local Walmart Supercenter doesn't even have the CD in stock! (No, it's not boycotted because they said "ass in the sand" in their freshman CD.) There was a clerk unhappily stocking the shelves nearby, and she said that it would "maybe be out later today." Huh. O-kay. Maybe better luck next time! I just wish I could go to Target or Starbucks and get it, but it's just too far. Yep, I live in the sticks.
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Vikings lost yesterday. To the Dolphins. It was terrible to watch! The team reverted to the Vikings I remember, making the 2009 season feel like a total dream. You know the Vikings of old, the one that keeps getting your hopes up only to dash them by not following through, fumbling or just not getting into the zone. How much are these guys making again? They certainly are not earning their salaries, nor did they look like they cared too much about the outcome (until they lost).
Ah, next week is another game. Against the also-winless Lions. I don't know if I will wear my Favre jersey, though. And the purple toenail polish I was so proud of yesterday looks a bit garish today.
A rather bright spot today -- it's almost time for the October issue of Connection magazine to hit the streets! Rumor is it will be out sometime this week--hopefully in time for this weekend's Art Celebration next door. And you know what this means...a sneak peek at the cover. I'm excited that I have another cover story!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The fall weather is fabulous! There was a birthday party in the Hollow Sunday afternoon (Grayson's 4th!) -- and we had perfect weather. We party in style out here -- there was fresh bread and pizza from the outdoor bread oven. Heaven.
I went hiking yesterday, much to Baxter's delight. As I type this, he is sitting at my feet (im)patiently waiting for us to go outside and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. I can't move an inch without him thinking we are going outside rightthisminutetoplayballandgoswimming. He's a goober.
I can't believe I've had the new implant speech processor for a month already today. I had to go back to the audiologist today for a "tune up." Since I went so long without using the speech processor, my brain/nerves are still getting used to all the sounds. The implant itself consists of 22 electrodes in the cochlea -- each one has a unique tone/pitch that can be individually programmed. Today's appointment involved going through each of the electrodes and adjusting them a little bit louder/higher (for lack of a better term).
I didn't go up very much, but the audiologist said that even just small changes make a big difference. And you know what? They did! I can tell a big difference in the sounds this afternoon -- things seem even more crisp. She also adjusted the program to filter out a little bit more of the background noise -- and now my kitchen fan isn't quite so clacking and irritating. I do still need to oil the hinge on my French door at the entryway, though. How come nobody bothered to tell me it SQUEAKS in protest every time the door is opened or closed??
I'm typing out this blog as I wait for the school bus to go by -- the Bax and I are heading out to mow the lawn once it finishes its daily trip past our house. And guess what?? I heard it coming down the road! Awesome.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I hope we win tonight's game. If the offense can stick it out and pull off just one more Favre touchdown, and the defense can keep Brees from scoring, we'll be golden. If we lose, well, I'm still gonna bleed purple!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
As much as I like summer, I'm looking forward to fall.
I'm still trying to pull myself out of the funk I've been in all week. Move forward. Focus on the positive. All that hoo-hah people try to tell you to help you "get over it," ya know?
So here's what I'm looking forward to for fall:
1. I head to Illinois for the Labor Day weekend flattrack races. (Planning to take some more cool shots with the (not-so-)new camera.
2. Pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. Need I say more?
3. Honeycrisp apples are coming!
4. Hot tea starts becoming my evening drink of choice. Hot toddies are nice, too!
5. I have a yen to get back to the crafting, especially with my Etsy shop inventory being low and the Art Celebration next door being only 22 days away.
6. I can put the lawnmower away for the season soon. I think there's only one or two more mowings left in the year, if I'm lucky!
7. The documentary "See What I'm Saying" is playing in Springfield (MO) next month. I have a ticket!
8. Tickets for the interpreted Hammons Hall performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" go on sale in two weeks. I'm going. Springfield seems to be on my travel list a lot this year.
9. It's almost time to plant bulbs! I have about 100 white and yellow tulip bulbs to plant this fall.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Johnny crashed last evening. He was doing so well. We were talking about keeping Monday's vet appointment to follow up on blood work and make sure the levels were back up to where they should be.
Then he stopped eating, got very lethargic and was having a hard time moving around. Another very long drive to Pea Ridge for a Friday night vet visit. Everything seemed to go downhill from there. Johnny was staggering around. His blood panel came back much worse than Wednesday, with two items very high and two others very low. And then he started displaying a few neurological signs of liver failure.
I confess: I spent some time online last night scaring myself by researching a few things.
I confess: There were many tears shed. I had to say goodbye to Johnny at the vet's, not knowing if he would make it through the night.
I confess: I truly thought he would be gone this morning.
The vet is stumped as to what is causing his symptoms. We're keeping him comfortable, he's on a dose of steroids. But I really don't know how long those will help him.
And so the waiting game goes on. Only, it's not a game.
Friday, August 27, 2010
We've finally had a break in the heat wave and Wednesday's forecast was for temperatures in the 80s, so I decided to tag along on a group ride out in Flag Springs. When I went to get my gelding from the pasture, he didn't seem at all excited or even happy to see me. Weird. This horse would crawl in your pocket if he was small enough (he's 16 hands but thinks he's a pup). Checking him out, he was lethargic and I thought his eyes looked funny. With a closer look, the whites were actually a deep yellow. His gums were yellow, too.
Jaundice. Not good. So instead of going on a relaxing trail ride on a beautiful day, we loaded Johnny up and headed to the vet's 45 minutes away. Of course, worst-case scenarios were going through my head.
The vet was great & very thorough. Other than the jaundice and depressed attitude, everything else checked out fine: heart, lungs, gut. The blood panel showed that two elements related to the liver were quite elevated. The vet settled on one of two scenarios: Johnny either ingested a toxin (ie, a weed in the pasture) or he had a stone blocking the bile duct. While both are serious, the latter would be more expensive and complicated to treat. We went ahead & treated Johnny as if he'd eaten something toxic: banamine for the inflammation, antibiotics, and a nasty batch of charcoal tubed into his stomach. The charcoal worked its way through his system and ((hopefully)) absorbed the toxins. Several hundred dollars and hours later, we were on our way home.
Today--almost 48 hours later--he seems to be doing better and perking up. He's happy to see me, is getting spoiled rotten with oats, treats and a hay buffet. I have everything crossed that he will recover.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
1. I have magazine deadlines coming up. No worries: interviews are mostly done and the writing is going well. I'm actually supposed to be writing right now, but you know how that goes; there's always "something else" that can get done! Like the workout I still have to do but am delaying by writing this blog. Procrastination, anyone?
2. It's almost Labor Day weekend -- which means the second of my two annual trips to Springfield, Illinois, is coming up for two AMA Flat Track Grand National Championship races. I can't wait!
I'll leave you with a sneak peek of the September issue of Connection magazine. I'm a lucky girl and have two articles in this one again -- including the cover story about Camp Barnabas.
Monday, August 23, 2010
See, when I am at my house, I do not have cell service. That's just one of the reasons I call it the "black hole." True story. Some people don't believe me -- until they come and visit me. The hollows around here are notorious for leaving civilization behind.
I can get cell service if I go to the top of one of the hills behind my house. If you stand in certain places and hold your breath (maybe say a little prayer), you can get a few bars on the cell phone.
Today marked almost a whole week without my Blackberry. And I was miserable without it. No Google Map. No mobile Facebook. No texts from certain people who bring a smile to my face.
My insurance covered a replacement Blackberry and advertised "2-3 day service." I could do that. Two days turned into three. Three turned to five, and suddenly it was Saturday, and the US Postal Service finally announced my replacement was in Philadelphia.
I checked the tracking Monday morning, thinking the package would be somewhere like St. Louis. Nope. Better! It was at my post office, scheduled to be delivered to my mailbox! Awesome.
I was so disappointed when I opened the mailbox and found...junk mail.
I checked with the post office on a planned trip to town, but no dice. The postmaster didn't have anything for me. WHERE the heck was my Blackberry, did the mailman inconveniently forget to put it in my box? I gave up...maybe better luck Tuesday.
Turns out the mailman delivered the package to the wrong mailbox. I finally retrieved the package and scooted to the high spot where I could get cell service. Not so simple! The phone still had to be activated. Which gets kind of complicated when a) you're deaf and can't just pick up the phone and call the 1-888 number and b) you don't HAVE cell service by a landline.
With my dad's patient help, I finally got it activated, so now I'm back in business! I owe a few people text messages, and I plan to get back to working the Crackberry full speed ahead tomorrow!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The horse show sounds were a bit overwhelming. The loudspeaker was very uncomfortable for me and I did end up turning the processor off a few times to give myself a break. My friends "caught" me reacting to some sounds, and I think I impressed them with my skills. (Or maybe not!) The advantage of being exposed to the loud (at least for me) environment meant that I am now up to Program 2 of 4 on the processor already. I think my audiologist will be happy.
Baxter makes a lot more noise than I realized. Slurping the water. Shaking himself makes his dog tag jingle. Scratching himself. And I've discovered that he "talks" to me when he is bored and I am busy working on the computer or the horseshoe art or whatever. I've succeeded in confusing the poor dog by reacting when he yips at me. The first time I looked at him when he "talked," he looked a little taken aback. The second time, he was confused. Then he thought he was in trouble. So funny.
I've also started working harder on training him to do the "service dog" thing. Now that I can hear things like the microwave or oven timer beep, the phone ring, or someone knocking at the door, it's easier to reinforce the training and make him react to sounds. It's good for him to have a job, and it might come in handy someday when I want to travel with him.
Enough about that dog.
During yesterday's drive to & from Tulsa, I played with the car radio! Awesome. I love the stations that "scroll" the musician and song titles while they play a song. So far, I've tagged Lady Antebellum and the Zac Brown Band as favorites. While I liked the lyrics to Carrie Underwood's "Undo It," I did NOT like her music when I heard it. I didn't like Keith Urban, either. It's kind of fun to be able to listen and decide what I do and don't like!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I haven't been to a horse show since the AQHA World Show in 2008. For a person who used to go to almost all the big shows to work, that's a very, very long time. I'm still doing the equine massage on a limited basis -- and only doing farm calls.
Kind of an interesting shift. I quit the copywriting world in July 2000 to do the equine massage. Now, 10 years later, I seem to have quit the AQHA world to do freelance writing. Funny how things seem to come full circle.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Yesterday was a fabulous day. I got my new cochlear implant speech processor -- the Nucleus Freedom. I had the implant surgery in 1990; however, my last speech processor broke down more than a year ago. The processors are pricey little things.
Anyways. Yesterday was THE day. When the audiologist finished programming my processor (yes, I am part robot -- each of the 22 electrodes in the cochlea is individually programmed) and turned it on, it was awesome! Everything was a little bit "loud" at first -- something of a shock to my nerves and brain. But the longer I wore it, the "smoother" everything seemed.
(Want the in-depth scoop? Google "cochlear implant" or "Nucleus Freedom cochlear implant." That will give you more than you ever wanted to know.)
Right now, I am marveling at the sound of my computer keys clicking and trying to figure out if there's a bird singing outside or something.
Suddenly, I'm hearing little things you probably take for granted, like the ding of an arriving elevator, the heartbeat of your car's turn signal, the sound coffee makes when you're pouring it into a mug.
Baxter makes a lot of noise slurping his water.
It's easier to scan your items at the WalMart self checkout when you can hear the scanner beep!
I can hear vehicles approaching on the road.
I took Baxter swimming in the creek yesterday evening, and was amazed at how much noise we made with the splashing, and how much noise HE made when he shook the water off himself.
I can't understand speech, but it does help my lipreading skills and my speech is probably going to get clearer as time goes on.
It's going to be a continual learning process. I currently have four levels of "programs" on my speech processor, each one progresses a little bit wider in the levels of things I can hear. Not necessarily "louder," but more like a threshold. It's hard to explain without getting too scientific. The more I have it turned on, the better I will get at using it.
So far, I LOVE it. I've only turned it off twice: once to go to bed last night and once this morning when I could not stand the roar of the vacuum cleaner. I'm sure there will be other times where I will cherish the silence. It's kind of a nice perk to be able to do both.
Right now, I have the windows open at my house, and it was pretty cool to hear a truck coming up the road -- and knowing what it was before it came into view!
I'm sure there will be several conversations in my future that go like this:
Me: "What's that noise?"
Hearing Person: "What? What noise?"
Me: "That noise."
And since I don't know what it is (or how to really mimic sounds), I can't really explain what I am trying to get the hearing person to identify. And since it's probably an everyday noise they've tuned out, well, you get the idea.
Call me bionic woman or whatever. But I'm certainly smiling!
Monday, August 2, 2010
We went to the Morton Arboretum on Sunday--it was a gorgeous day and we let Sophia burn off some of that famous two-year-old energy in the children's area. I got this awesome shot of her by pure luck of coaxing my point-and-shoot camera to time it perfectly: Now that I'm back in Iowa, I finished up some magazine articles for the September issue of Connection magazine. Can't wait to see them paired up in layouts with the photos. Which reminds me: I seriously need to get a move on with that online portfolio I keep talking about.
Friday, July 30, 2010
I wonder if the Lisle Starbucks folks will miss me? I've spent hours (and dollars) working there this week. It's nice to get out for a change of scenery sometimes. The writing life can get lonely when it's just you and the computer. The dogs always tend to lay around napping and aren't much for entertainment.
Yes, those are two BIG dogs snuggling -- Hooch the French mastiff and Sugar the pit bull.
Today's coffee goal is to find one of my beloved CARIBOU coffee shops. A standby in the midwest, they are nowhere to be found in the south.
I have two big articles in progress for the September issue of Connection magazine. One is almost done and the other is getting there. Once again, these are light on quotes -- but I am learning to embrace that as my trademark. Instead of letting quotes do the work (aka write the story for me), I let my writing shine. At least, that's what I tell myself. My editor and readers don't seem to mind.
I'm looking into some software I ran across yesterday that is basically speech-recognition software. For $99, I am not sure how reliable it would be, but it may be worth a look-see. It would sure take some major stress off my shoulders when it comes to interviewing people!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I tagged along to a yoga class with Brenda last night. It was awesome. And hot. And challenging! I loved it. I am in better shape than I thought -- I am walking fine today. heh. A little sore, but in a really good way.
Ninety minutes of yoga in a 90-degree room equals how many calories burned? We may have negated the calorie burn by going to Lou Malnati's for some incredible pizza. I apparently have no shame, since I am posting this picture (Brenda doesn't either -- she put the pic on Facebook for all the world to see. Or at least our 600+ combined friends.)
Monday, July 26, 2010
This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and
wonder, when the affections glow again and valor is reborn, when the shadows
deepen magically along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch
carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn.
- Bernard DeVoto "The Hour"
Ahh, Chicago! Technically, I'm in the Chicago suburbs as I write this, but whatever.
It's been a whirlwind. I arrived at Union Station at 4 on Saturday and negotiated a drive-by pickup with Brenda via text message. Success! And I didn't get lost, either. Did you know the Caribou Coffee adjacent to Union Station is closed on the weekends? I didn't, either.
Brenda and I headed for Wicker Park, a neat neighborhood north (I think!) of downtown for the evening. After waking up with some caffeine and chatting in velvet chairs at Starbucks, we headed out in search of the Violet Hour. One of Brenda's former co-workers recommended the place--there's apparently a sister bar in Minneapolis. We knew the address and walked down Damen Avenue. And kept on walking. The bar was so well-disguised we walked past it once!
And then we went in. This place was Awesome. They said it did not open until 6 p.m., and thinking we were losers for being there early, we slunk in at 6:10, hoping we weren't the first people there. We weren't--the bar seating was half full, and the seating area had several people settled in already.
Not that we could see. Once you enter the bar, you go through sets of curtains and it feels like you're in a dark abyss because it is so dim. We could not see where we were going, so I was super-careful NOT to knock over a candlelit table as I tried to stumble after the hostess. Both B and I had to "feel around" for our seats--which turned out to be really comfortable high-back, padded chairs.
Once our eyes adjusted, we could see each other and the drink menus just fine. The Violet Hour is a Prohibition-style place, place and they handcraft their own bitters and several house items. I had a Moscow Mule with Tito's vodka, lime and ginger syrup. Heavenly. And strong!
After mellowing out with our pre-dinner drinks, we cabbed it over to our dinner party destination. OMG, was the food good. Cold avocado soup, jumbo grilled shrimp, pork shoulder, and some other Cuban delicacies. And some fantastic company.
I could get used to evenings like this!
Next time: Why I was running through Brenda's neighborhood yelling "HOOCH!!!!!"
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Actually, these two brothers are growing up quite nicely. Sure, there was a time I was afraid it was never going to happen -- that maturation that comes "sometime" between age 2 and 4. Now, at about 2 1/2 years old, the boys are truly growing up.
But they have their moments:
Quite simply, they cannot leave each other alone!
Today I have both of them in the house and they are being pretty good guys. Of course, Baxter won't let Rowdy "bother" me. Or eat his food.
Going to take them swimming in a little bit so they can wear themselves out.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Vacation Bible School was great! I got to work with a super-nice group of people, and the kids were awesome. This year, the church rented the Gizmo Event Center for VBS. Let's just say the building was HOT when the kids sat down at 6 p.m. They hardly complained or fidgeted (I would not have blamed them!).
I helped out with taking photos -- the kids are going to be working on a cute project with the pictures today. I'm kind of bummed out about my 18-55mm lens. You know how you're "supposed" to put on a protective filter over the lens? So if it gets scratched you can just unscrew the filter and put on a new one? Well. The filter is STUCK on the lens. No amount of coaxing or praying is getting that thing off. Sigh. I guess it's better it's stuck on the "cheap" one instead of the new 55-200mm zoom lens.
Better get busy. I have six online articles to write and two magazine interviews to do by Wednesday night. Better refill that coffee cup.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
My writing got a mention in the Demand Studios blog:
Not bad! That reminds me: I really need to create my online portfolio as the writing is adding up fast. That's what happens when you apply a little discipline to your life.
Friday, July 16, 2010
McDonald's coffee with a magazine interview subject, a peek at the September issue of Connection magazine and photos at the Vacation Bible School kickoff in Wheaton are on today's agenda. I'm glad they have the VBS scheduled for the evenings, because it's going to be HOT. I have a feeling I will have to launder my fluorescent yellow staff t-shirt every night.
Bible school has come a long way since I was a kid. Not necessarily all in a good way. All the staff for Bible school had to have a background check, and we are required to wear our staff t-shirts and photo ID. Parents who want to be at the facility have to wear wristbands. There will be security at the gate checking everyone. While I understand the need for this, it is sad that it's necessary. I remember biking or walking to VBS in Litchfield and everyone was welcome, no questions asked. Things have changed so much since then, especially in this area of Missouri. Nobody is ever going to forget a case like Rowan Ford.
I got a lovely surprise in the mail yesterday. I love surprises. Especially when they make me laugh out loud like this one did. Thank you (you know who you are) -- it will be put to good use.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Things are finally starting to fall into place for the magazine interviews + travel plans. Whew. I like the freedom the freelance writing offers me, but this month has been a bear with scheduling conflicts. I blew through two or three story options before landing on one where the timing worked. I love the enthusiasm that everyone has for the Connection magazine -- from the great editor I work with to my interview subjects.
Getting ready to go "up north" again. Baxter and I will do the long drive to Waterloo. And -- bonus -- I will hop on a bus to Chicago to see my girl Brenda.
Watching the Today show while I type this (you know I am a multitasker). Mel Gibson is a psycho. Maybe there was lead in the Braveheart makeup, I don't know, but wow. I am not impressed. Sure, his ex-girlfriend/baby mama just might be a gold-digger, but if even half of her allegations are true, nobody deserves that kind of treatment.
WHO really cares about Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston. Maybe it was his Playgirl pose that made her want to "keep" him? I think he is just using her to keep the spotlight on himself.
Enough procrastinating -- now I have to get back to writing for money. It's almost Friday!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Oh, and my bed. How could I have forgotten that one. That's a whole other blog.
Anyways. I've always tried to keep an eye out for good, virtually indestructable toys for the Bax. Stuffed animals are a no-no. They get dismembered and de-squeaked in 60 seconds flat -- regardless if they are Baxter's toys or not.
I've found a few good toys, but the one item I've struggled with has been one of Baxter's obsessions. Balls. He fixates on tennis balls. I think there's even one on the bed -- you know, just in case I decide to get up in the middle of the night and throw it for him.
I've tried to find Bax a good ball to roll around outside and play with. He really, really, really wants to play with my big Swiss exercise ball in the house, but I know he would destroy it, so that one's off limits. I've tried a cheap large ball from the kids' toys department, wasted $5 on an extra-large tennis ball. Nope, both destroyed.
And then I found an egg-shaped plastic sphere at Tractor Supply. The "Jolly Egg." I'm embarassed to say what I paid for it! But it seems like it is going to hold up, both indoors and outdoors. (Although visitors complain about how much noise it makes when being herded across the hardwood floors and banged into walls.)
(I still can't believe what a good dog he is -- pausing from play to pose for this photo.)
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The Tulsa birthday celebration was great! I'm so lucky to have friends like Stephanie & Amanda. We hit up Drysdales, Chick-fil-A, the Imax, Cheesecake Factory and Super Target. Of course there were giggle moments!
Eclipse was a good movie--probably the best of the three so far. Sure, it's cheesy with the fang-less vampires, over-the-top eye colors and teenage drama. But Jacob and his muscles make up for it! However, it's not a kid movie. And someone should really tell that to the thirtysomething lady who sat in our row. She had a little girl with her who could not have been more than six. During the intense scene toward the end of the movie (how's that for not giving it away?), this kid was terrified -- she was doing the zombie stare at the screen and even had her hand over her mouth. As Stephanie said, that kid is going to have nightmares.
I had candles and matches in my purse when we went into Cheesecake Factory. No, not to burn the place down, but to stick in Stephanie's cheesecake. That plan went a little awry when Amanda informed me that I would be in big doo-doo if the CF staff sang to Stephanie. Oh, dear. Lucky for me, we decided to get the cheesecake "to go" and the plot changed. We did get to surprise Stephanie with candles in her cheesecake in the hotel room -- without setting the room on fire or turning on the fire alarm and sprinklers. Success!
Of course, no trip with the Butlers can be completed without some drama and/or pee-in-your-pants giggles. When we went back to the hotel after dinner, we got the drama, squared. First off is an old guy hooked up to an oxygen tank sitting outside the hotel entrance. Lighting up a cigarette. Classy.
Then (and this might have been oxygen tank dude's grandson, perhaps) there are some rowdy pre-teen boys horsing around in the lobby, while their parents sat watching them and not really caring. They fooled around with the elevator doors, and one kid somehow got his hand stuck inside the elevator door mechanism. (Don't ask me how, I am not about to find out.) He got it out and is whining about how it hurts to his parents. Amanda kindly let me know that the father said loudly, "You moron! Do you have to do this every time we go to a hotel!??!"
Yeah, that about sums it up.
Can't wait for the next Butler installment!
Thursday, July 8, 2010
To celebrate, we're heading to Tulsa. I hope the city is ready for us, because we tend to make a commotion wherever we go. Fortunately, we will have one-day-short-of-17 Amanda with us to chaperone (or embarass!). We're heading to see Eclipse at the IMAX and do some shopping. I hear there might be a visit to the Cheesecake Factory on deck as well.
And for the record, I'm Team Jacob!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Don't lose your wallet.
And, keeping with Murphy's Law: Keep a record of what you do have in your wallet. Because when you DO lose it, you're not going to remember some random thing in there, like your Starbucks card.
I didn't follow either pieces of this advice. What a mess!
In all the traveling I've done, I've never misplaced my wallet. There's a first time for everything. Blame it on being travel-weary or whatever; it was just one of those things. You know, "stuff" happens. Especially when you're blonde.
You know all those warnings--including the Oprah Pledge--about not texting while driving? Well, geez, it sure would have been nice to have read my text messages while I was driving. Then I could have turned around and drove Joyce's truck about 15 minutes back to the gas station. But no, that's not how the universe works.
We stopped in Terre Haute, Indiana, for the night. While Joyce went in to check into the hotel, I went straight for the Crackberry. I didn't have a clue I'd left my wallet on the other side of Indiana.
Long, convoluted story short: Cancelled cards, no cash, tons of text messages, hair pulling, stress, new cards, new PINS, a stop at the local sheriff's office.... My dad even stopped at the gas station to pick it up, as he was coincidentally going through the area. No dice.
Finally, on Saturday--11 days later--I had the long-awaited box in my mailbox!! While my Starbucks card was cleaned out of $18.44, there was still $40 in cash in there. Weird. But I'll take it.
Trust me, I'm keeping super-close tabs on my wallet from now on. And trying to remember my new six-digit PIN.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Here's the cover shot: I need to get busy creating my online portfolio of magazine articles & online content. The list continues to grow & I'm loving it! I have a handful of Demand Studio articles due this weekend, plus two articles coming out in the August issue of "Connections."