Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Rest of the Story(s)

Last year I was comfortably below my Mendoza line, that weight I never want to go over. Clothes were fitting well; life was good. Winter came and as usual, I struggled with keeping the annual hibernation weight off. Then it took a while to get the spring break in Europe weight off. Finally I got below the line, but not as far below as I was last year, but I was holding steady. Life was OK. Then I went to Vegas and came back many pounds over the line, and not just a smidge, either. It took me a month to get stay back below.

Monday morning: I'm way over again. Too much food at the cook-out I guess. I hate that. Even the watchband won't stay clipped, I'm up so much.

I'm still not sleeping well, I tossed and turned until after 1:00 last night, then I got up and roamed the house for a while. I vacuumed the carpet in the sewing room and laid out my triangle quilt on the floor and studied the borders, auditioning different possibilities. I realized I don't like the inner-most border, it's too wide. So much for using the Fibonacci number sequence for border widths. Blah. I'll start taking off the borders tonight or tomorrow and re-work them. Maybe this time it'll work for me better. Here are two possibilities, a thin cream border before the green stripe and a thin dark red strip in the middle of the green:

When Fern went away to camp a couple weeks ago, her roommate, whom she had last year too, gave her a Stonehenge tote bag. Two days later she took it to the Orioles game with her, in it was her book and camera and other odds and ends. The following two weeks the bag was lost, she couldn't find it anywhere. I kept offering to call Orioles' guest relations office to see if they found it and she kept telling me she read the book on the way back from the game and didn't leave the bag there. But yet, the bag was still MIA.

Then I remembered she went to the church that night to help with vacation bible school. Sure enough, the bag was left at church and it was recovered a couple days later.

My parents sent Fern a tote bag for her birthday. She took it with her on our trip over the weekend. In it was some movies she watched on the laptop and her book. Monday night we start to gather the movies to return to Blockbuster. She can't find them. Where are they? In the tote bag. Where is it? I don't know. Did you leave it at Michelle's? I didn't take it there. Did you leave it in Damascus at the cookout? Maybe.

I call our friends and they have the bag. Tonight after work I'll drive up to meet them half-way to retrieve the bag. Aye-yi-yi.

In the mean time, The Girl has left the family Nintendo DS with the Guitar Hero cartridge at a neighbor's house. When she went over to collect the DS she brought home yet another forgotten tote bag.

Kevin continues to have wacky sleep patterns. He was awake at 4:30 yesterday morning. I'm not sure if he'd been awake all night long or just woke up in the middle of the night. We managed to keep him awake until after 8:00 last night, but then he fell asleep in our bed. At 5'10" he's too big to move while he sleeps so I had to wake him. I pulled the blanket off him and he woke right up and tried to pull it back. I told him I was changing the sheets and he had to go to his room. It worked. I am a mean mommy.

Fern was slow in waking for skating camp on Monday and Tuesday this week so I told her she had to be in her room lights out at 11:00. At 11:00 I tapped on her door and told her to turn off the light. I moved away from the door so the floor creaked a bit and stood there quietly. Thirty seconds or so later the light came back on. She was genuinely surprised when I pushed the door open and told her to turn off the light. I am a very mean mommy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend Round-Up

I had a busy weekend.

I am still in need of a good night's sleep, it seems it's been ages since I slept through. Sheesh. One of these days I'll just be so tired I'll crash hard and sleep well. I hope it's soon.

Friday I took the kids to the summer teen theater production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I'd seen it before when I was in high school, but didn't remember enough to help. The production was great, the kids were great, but I could only understand about a quarter of the lyrics. Then I realized it's a Andrew Lloyd Webber show and that explained it. For some reason his shows and I don't get along. Sondheim I get, Rogers, Hammerstein, yes, not Webber. I had trouble with Phantom too. It's like I need to have the libretto in front of me so I can follow along.

Saturday morning I attempted to tackle the lawn. The last two times the lawn got mowed I did it with the tractor. In order to get the tractor out of the shed I have to move the push mower out of the way. So when Dan couldn't get the push mower started and said the engine was loose on the mower deck, he naturally blamed me since I was the last person to touch the push mower.

Saturday morning I pulled out the push mower and took a look at it. Yes, the engine was loose on the mower deck. No, it wasn't my fault. The bolts holding it together had vibrated loose over the years, only one bolt was there and it was hanging on by a thread. I took it out and drove over to the repair shop and asked for one to match it. The guy didn't charge me for the replacement (yay!) and I was on my way. When I got home and put the bolts in I realized I really need three, not two. Oh well. But it runs now.

But the lawn never got mowed because we wanted to get out of town. There was a reunion of bands playing at a festival in Charlottesville. These bands played the clubs there when Dan was in college at UVA. The crowd was largely middle-aged with gray pony tails. We took a blanket and hung out on the grassy area and enjoyed the music occasionally going down to stand close to the stage.

Sunday morning Dan took Fern on a walk around the grounds of UVA, "her college," while Kevin and I did our own unguided tour closer to the car. She wants to go to school there, so this is the year she really has to get into gear, develop good study habits and get good grades. Eighth-grade grades don't count towards college, but the study habits will help the high school grades.

Then we headed to Damascus. Dan's friends had a cook-out and had a couple families over. The plan was to eat and hang out, then go to their pool. But thunderstorms rolled in at pool time and we all drove home. One other family has daughters, one Fern's age and they love getting together. They were disappointed when it was time to go so I arranged it so Fern could go home with them and I'd pick her up later. Fern got to take off her "sulky teenager" hat for a while and have fun without her lame family.

When we got home everyone headed in their own direction. As I started assembling an exchange block for my neighbor L, she called to ask for my help to remove a large mirror from the wall. Her hubby is gone for a week and a half so she decided it would be a good week to strip the wallpaper in the master bath and paint. When I finished the quilt block I took it to her and helped with the mirror. Then I sucked into helping peel paper off the wall. It's very cathartic to do something mindless like that. It didn't matter how you did it, not like sewing, just pull the paper off the wall. Spray and peel, spray and peel. Let's see who can pull off the biggest piece! I suggested we have our Tuesday quilt bee meeting in there so everyone can help. (It's a very large bathroom: the size of the dining room on the floor below; we'd all fit.)

I worked on my triangle quilt more and got more border strips on. I had gotten to the I-am-so-disgusted-with-it-and-never-want-to-see-it-again point the other day because the border wasn't fitting right but last night I made some progress. Then I went to the mall to meet Michelle and the girls to pick up Fern. I was glad the mall was closed so I didn't have to go in and shop.

Tonight after work I go back to the dealership to get the floor mat clips installed. I hope they are ready for me this time. And maybe I'll get the lawn mowed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another New Photo in the Sequence

Back in September I posted this picture from the office window:

And in October it looked like this:

On December 6:

And, this is the current state of things:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Following Up on Stuff

Last month I complained to the Toyota dealership about the service on the corolla when they charged me towing saying the new issue wasn't related to the old repair and I said it was related and I got a check for the towing back in the mail.

Yesterday I spoke with both the service manager and my "service adviser" at the Honda dealership about the lousy service getting the floor mat clips installed. I was offered compensation for the trouble, how about a tank of gas and while that's a nice offer and I'd be happy with that, I shot for the moon: I asked for a cargo cover for the back of the car. We'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, the new guy, BJ, started in my office on Tuesday. He's my new direct supervisor, taking the spot I thought I wanted or should have. To be honest, I am happy being a worker-bee without the need to deal with the management aspects of a job. What I really want is more money, but that's not going to happen unless us Feds get good COLAs. BJ moved in to the cubicle across the aisle from me so I have a neighbor too, not just a boss. My old boss, Joe, sat elsewhere so I'm having to get used to a neighbor and a boss at the same time. So far so good.

Last night at my quilt guild meeting I laid out my triangle quilt and borders to get some opinions/feedback/assurance from my friends. I got lots of compliments, that felt nice, and some validation on my border choices. Yay.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ISO: Competency

For some reason when I bought my car, they forgot to install the clips that hold the floor mats in place so they don't scoot up under the pedals. And they didn't so they do. Anyway, I went to the dealership (trip #1) to get them installed and they didn't have any clips in stock so they ordered some for me. You think they'd be in the same package as the floor mats themselves, don't they kinda go together?

I get a postcard in the mail telling me my parts are in and to call for an appointment for installation. I do and the chick who needs to help me isn't available and I leave a message for her to call me. When she calls me I tell her the story and make the appointment for last night at 7:00.

So, last night at 7:00 I arrive at the dealership (trip #2) for my installation appointment. My service adviser chick is not there but someone else helps me. I've be told it's a very quick process, ten minutes, 15, tops. At 7:45 I start getting antsy and wondering where my car is. And hungry. Thinking it would only take 15 minutes, I left home without having eaten dinner. Silly me. The service adviser on duty tells me there are no service techs on duty who know how to install the clips and one guy has downloaded the instructions and is reading them. You're kidding me, right?

Why the heck did the chick give me an appointment for 7:00 if no one would be around to do the work efficiently? I finally got my car back at about 8:20. This particular dealership has a free car wash and vacuum for Honda owners to use. They had already washed the car for me so I wanted to vacuum it out. While I'm sucking out kid debris the first thing I notice is no clips were installed for the floor mat in the back seat. Second thing I notice is one of the front clips wasn't installed properly and comes out of the socket when I lifted the mat to vacuum under it. What is wrong with these people? Dinner was cold when I got home at 8:45. Sheesh.

I called the service manager this morning to complain but he was in a meeting and hasn't returned my call yet. Eventually I'll need to make trip #3 to get the rest of the clips installed. I should be compensated for this. Greatly.

Because I got home so late I really didn't get much more done on the quilt I wrote about yesterday. Argh!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In Progress

Here is the "triangle quilt" I've been working on. I had gotten all the pieces together last week and now I'm starting to work on the borders. I needed to know how big to make the quilt so I can plan the borders, right?

So I call my mom since the quilt is for her, "Do you want it for the wall or for a snuggle quilt for the couch?" I want it for my bed. "Which bed," I ask even though at this point I already know she wants it for her king-sized bed. A king bed is about 80" x 80". This top is 46" x 65". That means it has to grow a lot to be for a king bed. 15" in one direction and 34" in the other. Sheesh. But she tells me it's OK if it just sits on top and not drape down the sides.

For almost a week I struggle with how to put on the borders to make it big enough. I study pictures in quilting books of completed quilts to determine what is pleasing to me and to get ideas of possibilities. I wanted the borders to look good and not like I'd just stuck them on as an after thought. I considered the golden ratio for sizing my border widths as well as using Fibonacci numbers so I have a visually pleasing arrangement. I also considered making them wider on the short side and narrower on the longer side so it ends up more square.

I finally decided to make four borders of 1", 2", 3" and 5" for a total of 11" on each side making the finished quilt top 68" x 87". Not too bad, not square, but, hey, it's a gift, right? It'll drape over the sides a little and tuck under the pillows nicely.

Last night I sewed together the strips for the two inner-most borders then sewed it on the first side and making a major fatal mistake in the process. The triangles are stretchy and when I sewed the border strips on to fit they didn't lay flat. Not good. Not good at all. I took off the border and tried again, this time measuring it and not letting it stretch. This time it's not wavy. Yay. Tonight I'll add the strips to the other three sides and cut the strips for the third and fourth borders.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Even as an adult I struggle with my place in the world. Last week I was working through the difference between wanting to be included and wanting not to be excluded.

I've written before I work with a bunch of guys, which for the most part doesn't bother me. A lot of times I get along with guys better than women anyway. I took my current position six and a half years ago, was hired by the project manager to design surveys for various clients around the bureau. Since then a lot of people have come and gone, even the project manager retired and I'm still here; I have the most tenure. Currently there is a branch chief and six of us on staff, three guys having been here only several months. Oh, and another new guy is starting soon, too.

I don't mind the guys, their jokes, their chatter. But I've noticed recently four of them have been going out a lot together for lunches, and not just eating their sack lunches together somewhere on campus. They discuss, loudly I might add, whether to go here or there for lunch. I'm feeling very left out. I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I do. I don't want to be left out. I even tell myself I wouldn't enjoy hanging out with them and not to let it bother me, but I can't help feeling like the kid in school who is always forgotten.

Last Friday, they trot off to lunch and I feel excluded. Today I joke with Phil about where the new guy is going to sit and that Mo hasn't been here long enough to rate a window. And the guys pick on me right back. It was great.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Project School day

This week Kevin's been in this cycle of crashing as soon as he gets home from his day camp and sleeping until midnight or so, then playing for a couple hours before going back to bed then waking up tired. So last evening I took him to the pool for a couple hours to keep him awake. It worked: he was awake until midnight. I guess I'll need to take him to the pool again tonight after work so he'll stay awake then maybe, hopefully, he'll fall asleep earlier than eleven and he'll get into a more normal cycle and less teenager-like.

While we were at the pool we saw Kevin's classroom aide from the middle school. She came over to me to say hi and tell us her news. She just, like yesterday, got offered a job at the high school and she'll be in Kevin's class. She's very excited because she's wanted a high school placement for a while now and get out of the middle school. I'm excited because it'll be great for Kevin to have her there to ease his transition to a new school and program and she'll already knows him so she can help the classroom teacher learn about him and what's in his IEP.

For a lot of years Kevin got a new teacher every year and would flounder, even regress, until about Thanksgiving while he got use to the new teacher and routines. Kevin did much better at the beginning of the year when he had the same teacher two or more years in a row. Since he's going to high school I couldn't expect anything consistent to help the transition and had to hope for the best, but now he'll be in a new place with a familiar face. I'm very pleased.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Last night at my quilt bee I finished the "triangle quilt." The red one I'd been working on with 594 triangles. Well, I finished sewing all the triangles together into a top last night. I still need to decide upon and sew on borders, but I'm making progress. I know the picture shows it still in pieces, but I don't have one of it sewn together yet.

This morning I took the license plates of the dead and now donated van back to the MVA. When I walked in I thought I'd be there for ever because of the large crowd around the vehicle services kiosk. But the sign above the kiosk didn't list tag return as one of the services. Hmm. I scan the room and see a sign hanging from the ceiling way back in the corner for tag return. And no one is in line. It took about four minutes and I'll be getting a refund of $64 in the mail in a couple weeks for the remainder of the registration paid. No claim to file, it's automatic.

I called the insurance company and canceled the coverage on the van. I'm on a roll.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Looky Over There->

My dad (finally! after nine months of inactivity) posted new photos on his blog, take a look.

Visit my husband's blog too, he always has something interesting going on.

And finally, I've had that avatar for about a year now. What am I holding behind my back? Any guesses?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Absolutley Useless Information

Upon graduation from college I was given the family car. It was a ~1977 seafoam green Pontiac station wagon. It had replaced a brown/green station wagon of unknown/unremembered vintage which had replaced a dark red Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, also a station wagon, and it had cool windows above the middle row of seats.

Funny story about the Pontiac. Mom and I were driving somewhere, probably out to my grandparents' house. We were passed by a pretty Cadillac and Mom turned to look and commented about how she wanted a car that color. I told her she was in a car that color.

I traded the Pontiac in on May 30th, 1985 for a new light blue 5-speed Honda Civic. It had 9.6 miles on it. Gas was $1.169 and I got 30-45 mpg and once 79 mpg when I drafted a truck on a trip down I-95. For some reason I didn't write down how much I paid for the Civic.

Dan and I got married in 1990.

On June 11th, 1993 we bought a new maroon Plymoth Voyager for $15,767. It had 33 miles on it. (Dan gave/sold? his red Dodge Colt to his brother and we bought a used Dodge black/gray mini wagon and traded it in on the Voyager, that but I have no data about those cars.) Gas was about $1.139 and we got 20 mpg.

On July 31, 1999 the Honda had already gone 117,311 miles when it was backed into by an over-sized pickup whose driver just didn't see it behind him. We sold it to State Farm for $1500.

On August 10th, 1999 we bought a new dark red 5-speed Toyota Corolla for $15150. It had 171 miles on it. Gas was about $1.239 and it gets 30-38 mpg. We still have this car and it has over 141,000 miles. It is the one that had all the car trouble a while back where I thought the dealership blew me off when I thought they should have covered the towing because they didn't fix the starting problem for me the first time and they said the starter wasn't broken so I had to pay the towing. I did end up complaining and it paid off: I received a check for $110 from the dealership this week.

On October 31, 2001 we bought a new forest green Mazda MPV for $24,134.15 with 25 miles on it. We donated the Plymoth; it had 144,079 miles on it. Gas was about $.979 and we got 18-24 mpg.

The MPV flat-lined on June 11th, 2008 with 147,517 miles on it. It would have needed a new transmission to bring it back to life. On June 12th, we bought a new orange 5-speed Honda Fit for $17,403. At my first fill-up gas was $3.879 and I'm getting 32-38 mpg. The MPV was also donated to Mellwood on July 1st and I still need to turn in the plates then cancel the insurance for it.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's been a while...

I'm back.

Yesterday was my first day back to work in a week and a half. I had eleven-hundred-something unread mail messages in my mail reader. Eight hundred or so were immediately trash and several more were scan-and-delete. Hot items: I'm getting a new IP phone and users are entering cents in the dollar fields even though the ".00" follows the input box. Yeah, I didn't miss much.

Except for my usual blog reads. I missed those. I'll try to catch up soon.

We took The Girl to her camp in Williamsburg on Sunday and The Boy to his on Monday. He goes to Camp Greentop, a special needs camp up in the mountains about a half-mile from Camp David. Every year I have to wear my sunglasses to hide my eyes. I always tear-up even though I know the routine, what's going to happen. There's a staff person at the end of the drive who asks your camper's name and gives you the check-in procedure sheet. They radio ahead and say who is coming. By the time you turn the corner the staff have lined the parking lot and are cheering for your camper. Every single camper. Every single year. It's moving to see so many young people who care about working at a camp for special needs kids.

Then Dan and I flew to Las Vegas. I'd never been to Vegas before and I wasn't expecting it to be that big (or hot). On a map the strip looks like a couple blocks long but those couple blocks are three miles long in reality. The hotel properties are huge and take up a lot of space. Each seem to be designed to be self-contained so you never have to leave for your dining, drinking, shopping, spa, sleeping, swimming, gambling needs. They reminded me of over-grown cruise ships.

We got a deal for a air & hotel package and stayed at the Excalibur, which is a fine hotel, but certainly not luxurious or posh. Lots of kids. I guess because it's cheap inexpensive.

Tuesday we drove to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. The water level is, to me, astonishing low. I guess with global warming there isn't as much snow in the Rockies to melt as there used to be. We did the power plant tour and saw huge generators that supply juice to Southern California, Nevada and Arizona. Our tour guide was a squirrelly little guy with weird speech patterns. I think I heard most of what he was saying. We were told there are 4,360,000 cubic yards of concrete in the dam more than once.

We also stopped at the Lake Mead Recreation area and went swimming. I'm a beach girl, I didn't like the squooshy muddy lake floor, but I'm glad I went (it was hot).

I took $60 to the casino to play roulette and came back with $188.

Tuesday night we went to the Venetian to see The Blue Man Group. Way cool. We sat in the balcony and still managed to get pulled into the show. Well, Dan did, he was asked to throw candy into the mouth of a Blue Man, except in gestures, no words. Did I say it was way cool?

After the show we ate at Bouchon, also at the Venetian, to celebrate our anniversary. Very, very good food.

Wednesday we drove out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area with a stop at Jack-in-the-Box for tacos and the Red Rock Resort and Casino. (Lost $14 at the roulette table.)

Wednesday night we had dinner at the Cravings buffet at the Mirage and then went to Folies Bergere at the Tropicana. (Pronounced foe-LEE bare-zhair in case you've never had French lessons as I haven't.) Folies is a typical Vegas-style show girl show with lots of feathers and skin and is the "longest running show in the US," or so they tell us. I was surprised by two things: A-cup girls can still get work in Vegas (even I'm big enough to work in Vegas!), and how fit these women are. The only way you can tell the younger ones from the older ones is how deep their smile lines are, there are no other wrinkles anywhere else on their bodies. Anywhere. Oh my goodness, they give a whole new meaning to "taut." I'm not taut enough to work in Vegas.

Thursday we flew home and had a 3-hour layover in Denver. That's what we get for the cheap tickets, I guess. On the whole, the trip was great and I had a good time hanging out with Dan without the kids. I'd go to Vegas again, I suppose. But not in July. It was much too hot. You know that blast of heat you feel when you open the oven to put in a tray of cookies dinner? Vegas in July is like living in that blast all the time.

Friday we picked up Fern at camp then attended AM's perennial Fourth-of-July party which was rained out again and had a good time anyway and since we walked over, we had to stay until the rain let up.

Saturday I sewed like crazy on the Girl Scout vests, getting them ready for the girls' trip to Savannah. Sunday Dan, Fern and I went to an Orioles game and I sewed more. I worked on and finished about 25 vests for all the girls and I'm a bit tired of seeing little round badges everywhere and that hideous green color. I'm finally done, and now I'm going to cash my checks.

Monday we sent Fern off to day camp and drove up to get Kevin at camp. He got glowing reports from the counselors and really seemed to have a great time. And yesterday was my first day back to work and that's where this post started.

I'll post pictures when I find the sync cable for my camera.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Las Vegas Beauty Tip #1

Leave the blow dryer at home. Take your shower then step outside and the hot wind dries your hair in nothing flat. The wind also give you that certain lift hairspray can only dream of.

You might want to put clothes on first.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Down About a Hundred or so

The water level at Hoover Dam, that is, not my roulette bank roll.

We're here in Las Vegas. It's HOT. I saw one bank sign today: 116°, the car is set to metric and all it's telling us is 44°.

Yesterday was Hover Dam and today we drove through Red Rock Canyon, the scale of the rocks is going to be hard to tell from the photos, but I'll see when I get them down loaded.

More later.

Oh, I'm up over $100 at the roulette tables.