Monday, November 01, 2010

Random thoughts on something I overheard

I recently overheard a mom say to her kid(s), "OMG." My first thought is, do people -- people that aren't just trying to seem cool -- really actually say, "OMG"? And if they do, why? I sort of understand the use of OMG as textspeak to save time and a few characters, but in an actual conversation, you don't save anything. OMG = three syllables. Oh my god = three syllables.

Maybe she just doesn't like to use the word "god." I can respect that, but the G definitely implies "god." Besides that, she could have just as easily (and quickly) said, "Oh my gosh." That's still three syllables. (All of which makes me wonder if implied swear words are really that much better than actual swear words when it comes to what we're teaching kids. Is saying "fudge" or "effing" really a better alternative to dropping the F-bomb?)

I've never heard people use other textspeak in real conversations. I've never heard someone say, "WTF" or "LOL." (Although, the S.O. and I have taken to sometimes saying, "Why the face." We picked it up from an episode of "Modern Family." The dad is explaining textspeak: LOL is laugh out loud. OMG is oh my god, WTF is why the face.) So why would someone say OMG? I just didn't get it. I have to wonder if I'm that out of touch or if that mom is.

Then again, I didn't hear the entire conversation. Maybe she said it because someone asked her how to say oh my god in textspeak. IDK*

*That's "I don't know" for us non-textspeakers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We're free! ... of cable

In an attempt to save some money and try to be more productive, the S.O. and I canceled cable TV and returned the DVR yesterday. Of course, we still have our Netflix account and the Internet (we actually have to have Internet access because we both work from home most of the time) so there's still plenty of "television" for us to watch. But we're hoping that when we sit down to watch, we watch something worth watching and don't just spend two hours flipping channels through mindless drivel.

That's not to say we won't end up watching some mindless drivel. Netflix has plenty of (really bad) reality shows available -- many to watch instantly. I'm going to fight to keep the worst of them off my queue, though.

Considering the good track record Netflix has suggesting movies for me, I expect to be watching a lot of British television programs, foreign films (especially foreign horror films), claymation and anime.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Foxy!

Holy crap, you guys! A fox just jumped our 6-foot fence and strolled through the back yard. Right in the middle of the day. I didn't get a picture because I was too busy grabbing the dog and falling on the floor, trying to keep her from running out and picking a fight. I don't think she'd come out on top of that battle.

It looked just like this. Cute, right? But foxes "feed on rodents, rabbits, birds, and other small game." I'm pretty sure Ripley would look like a rodent to a hungry fox.

She can tear up a sunbeam though.

Friday, October 08, 2010

In case I didn't mention it

I'm trying the Mommy blogger thing over at 40-Something First Timer. I'm going to try to post periodically on both. But if you're interested in following my ups and downs in regards to being pregnant (sometimes I still don't believe it myself), you can head over there.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Check out my new blog

Now that I'm a mommy-to-be, I've started a new blog of that nature. I plan to still post here about random crap -- like always -- but will talk about my adventure to mommyhood over at 40-Something First Timer.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Joke's On Me or The Long Con

Hello Internet! Remember back in April when I said I thought the universe might be trying to pull a long con on me? Well, for those of you not already in on the joke, I was right. Just a few days after the S.O. and I had a conversation about how it's probably all for the best for us to not have a baby, I find out that I just might be after all.

That's right Internet, I am pregnant, in the family way, knocked up, preggers, expecting, have a bun in the oven. And no, we didn't plan it to happen this way. It just did. In fact, the so-called fertility specialists told us we had about a 1 percent chance of getting pregnant "the natural way." (Those specialists can kiss my ass, by the way).

It's all quite scary and exciting at the same time, like a really good zombie movie or a roller coaster. In fact, it's almost exactly like those things, I'm scared, but having a good time and completely nauseous most of the time.

Don't try to tell me all the things that can go wrong. And I don't want to hear anyone's horror stories. I've heard enough of them anyway -- from the scary one-in-a-million birth defects they feature on TLC to the former co-worker who told my pregnant friend that the air in Colorado could cause a miscarriage (sorry, I have to breathe!) to all the things that can happen to my body during and after pregnancy. At this point, I kind of figure the universe will have it's joke and I will have a baby at 43. Hey, if the celebrities can do it, I can do it.

With all that said, I promise to try to not talk about it all the time. But once the baby is born, expect plenty of photos and stories about the adorable (and maddening) things that happen around our house.

Here's the first of the photos. Although I'm pretty sure that's a panda.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What I watched: "American Zombie"

In case I haven't said this a hundred times already, I love the Netflix watch instantly feature. I have watched many movies and TV shows -- good and bad -- that I would have never rented or put on my queue. Case in point is the movie I watched last night. It's a "mockumentary" called "American Zombie."

From the film's media Web site:
Filmmakers Grace Lee (“The Grace Lee Project”) and John Solomon (“Nonsense Man”) team up to shoot a documentary about high-functioning zombies living in Los Angeles and their struggles to gain acceptance in human society.
Now, anyone who has read even a little of this blog is well aware of my love for all things zombie. And I know I'm not alone in my love. Vampires may be the hot new thing and sexy as hell, but zombies will always be the top monster in my book. The scariest thing about zombies is their complete lack of humanity. They have no regard for family or friends. They kill and eat indiscriminately.

In "American Zombie," those particular zombies are known as "feral zombies." They have lost all humanity. But there are two other types: zombies who have retained enough humanity to do manual labor and "high-functioning zombies" who seem to be just like any other human -- except for their decaying flesh, of course. And none of them seem to have a taste for human flesh -- or do they? (Cue ominous music.)

The film follows four high-functioning zombies through their day-t0-day lives. We see them at their jobs, interacting with girlfriends and co-workers and preparing to attend Live Dead (a kind of Burning Man festival for zombies only). The film makers finally get permission to attend -- despite being living humans -- and film Live Dead, resulting in dire consequences.

It's an interesting take on the zombie genre. Though it wasn't as funny as I'd hoped it would be, I still enjoyed watching the film. For a die-hard zombie fan, like myself, it was a good movie. For everyone else, I'd probably say give it a pass. It starts out slow and has a pretty predictable ending.

All in all, I'd give it a better rating than the 4.9 stars out of 10 IMDb users give it. But, as I said, I have a love for all things zombie, from the super cheesy to the classic.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's National Dog Day!

And Ripley is jumping for joy!

National Dog Day is celebrated August 26 annually and serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, and acknowledges family dogs and dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort.

Thanks to Mayzie for helping us remember the date!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Catching up on the classics

I spent most of the summer reading science fiction and fantasy. I read the entire Thursday Next series: "The Eyre Affair," "Thursday Next: First Among Sequels," "Lost in a Good Book," "The Well of Lost Plots" and "Something Rotten." (They're all available from the library.) They are literary-geek, time-travel-twisty, science-fictiony fun.

I also read (on my niece's recommendation) "The Hunger Games." It's a YA book, a quick read and a lot of fun. Then I read "Small Favors," a Dresden Files book (I do love my Harry Dresden). Which, in case you don't know, are kind of noir detective novels with a wizard as a private investigator -- more geeky fun.

So, after all that geekery, I figured I should build up my brain with some classics. Over the weekend I read "Animal Farm" and finished "Jane Eyre." I do hate to admit to never having read "Jane Eyre" before but I have a good excuse. I always mixed it up with Jane Austen and I really don't care for Austen. OK. Not a good excuse, but it's an excuse.

I also downloaded some classics for the Kindle app on my iPod touch (there are a lot of classics available for the Kindle free from Amazon): "The Age of Innocence," "The Wizard of Oz," "Howard's End" and "Middlemarch." What I really like about the Kindle app is I can just sort of keep those books laying around, but they don't take up much space, I can take them all wherever I go, and -- best of all -- they were free.

To cap off the weekend, I watched a couple episodes of "The Angry Beavers" on Netflix. That's a classic, right?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dee-sgust-ting

You know what really, really sucks? When you think your significant other has canceled your home milk delivery -- which comes Thursday mornings -- only to discover Sunday evening that he hadn't. Sunday evening -- after four near-90-degree days -- you find that not only does milk not keep in a non-iced cooler, it will actually turn to cheese and blow the top off the jug.


WARNING: If you are drinking milk or eating cheese right now, look away!

The orange juice wasn't disgusting, just an additional loss.

The whole thing smelled like feet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Because this deserves a post

I don't try to hide the fact that I have some geeky tendencies. In fact, just recently it occurred to me that I'm probably a bigger geek than my video-game-playing, computer-center-occupation-having S.O. I'm the one that recommend "Ender's Game" to him, after all.

However, he is the one who introduced me to "Stargate: SG1." And he is the reason I own all 10 seasons of that show and all five seasons of "Stargate: Atlantis."

Recently, an innocent visit to Michael's to find parts to repair necklace, inspired a trip to Etsy.com, where I came across the shop Take It to the Moon and promptly proceeded to buy this:
For the uninitiated that is the symbol for Earth in the Stargate world. And it's awesome!

And yes, I am also wearing a Captain America T-shirt. Shut up.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Shout outs

Now that I'm back to my as-normal-as-it-gets routine, I really need to get back to blogging more. I know you two or three that come here to read of my many and varied adventures and the random crap that occurs to me out of the blue have been missing my ramblings.

I haven't been writing here much but I have been writing at My Boot Camp Diary. And I have been reading others' blogs, even if I don't always comment. I'm pretty sure you all read each others' blogs already. But in case you don't, or if you're looking for something else to read, here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):

Mayzie's Dog Blog - the most glorious adventures of one brindle dog (I think Mayzie's owner actually does the typing, though.)

Grandma's Briefs - bits and bytes of life's second act (It's not just for grandma's.)

Jackodilloprincess - a mommy blog that doesn't make you want to choke a mommy (That's not her tag line, by the way!)

Won't You Be My Cubemate? - more ramblings from a freelance writer with a snarky attitude (Which is why we're friends.)

Local Dish - recipes and more from a foodie

A Motivated Notion - A fellow blogger I met through NaBloPoMo, who motivated me to run my first (and sadly, only) 5k.

Neil Gaiman's Journal - The author of some of my favorite book's and stories talks about his day-to-day life, his work, his pets. It's like I know him (but not in an internet stalker sort of way, I promise).

The Official Pearls Before Swine Blog - Snarky, irreverent, ridiculous (I'm in love!).

What are your favorite blogs? I'm always looking for something different to check out.

Monday, August 02, 2010

I didn't fall off the face of the earth

Although I might have come close.I spent the past three weeks entertaining my 14-year-old niece. We did a lot of fun stuff -- like driving to the top of Pikes Peak with the S.O., watching a professional soccer game in Denver and visiting the zoo.

Look out! It's coming right for us!

We also did some relaxing stuff, like painting ceramics at Puttin' on the Paint, shopping, watching movies and completing the "World's Smallest 1,000-Piece Puzzle."

It was really hard to send her home -- although I know she and her dad were ready to see each other again -- and I think even the dog misses her.

I sure hope she doesn't outgrow her aunt in the next year. I'd like to make her summer visits an annual thing.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Country music remembrances

In which part of an e-mail exchange poses as a blog post, and I show my age and nerdity.

Me: (in response to a link to "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy" by Chris LeDoux) Yeee haw!

He: Among my many musical oddities: I like country music that sounds like older country and western -- like that. Country song popular in the 1960s or 1970s? I probably know all the words.

Me: I grew up listening to (or being forced to listen to) the likes of Freddy Fender, Tom T. Hall, Conway Twitty and others. I can still listen to Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, but most of the new country just sounds like twangy pop to me. So I can understand your "musical oddities."

He: So you... you remember the year that Clayton Delaney died?? (/arcane test)

Me: No. But I do remember the night that the lights went out in Georgia. And that day Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

He: He jumped because ROBBY BENSON DIDN'T GET THE OSCAR FOR THAT ROLE!! Ahem. The preceding microrant was gayer than a sequined handbag full of rainbows.

Me: Robby Benson WAS dreamy.

My apologies to those of you too young and/or hip to get the references. And even more apologies to those of you old enough and/or nerdy enough to get the references -- your ear worm of the day.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

What a view

I went with the S.O. today on his flight lesson. It was very cool. Here I am pre-flight.

I took some cool pictures.

(Do you think aliens made the smiley face in the field?)

We flew over Garden of the Gods.

The S.O. performed a "touch and go" at the Colorado Springs, and we hit some turbulence.

Then I threw up.

Yes, it was awesome.

Friday, July 02, 2010

What I watched: "The Orphanage"

Let me say this first: What the hell took me so long to discover that Netflix had this "watch instantly" feature?!?

The S.O. and I use Blockbuster Online because he can get coupons for free games and we can return our movies to the store to exchange them for other movies. So we will probably keep that. But Netflix has already been worth the $10 I spend on it. I have watched the entire first season of "Better Off Ted" (If you haven't watched it, do. It's been canceled but it's hilarious.), a couple episodes of other series and several movies -- all instantly. (Plus a couple of DVDs.)

Last night, while the S.O. was at ground school, I watched "The Orphanage," a 2007 Spanish ghost story. It's dark and tense and doesn't rely on cheap tricks to scare you.

I sat alone in the dark, clutching my pillow, watching this suspenseful story of a mother's search for her child, never really sure if it was a ghost story or a story of her descent into madness. If you enjoy foreign films or movies like "The Others," I recommend "The Orphanage."

On the other hand, if you hate reading subtitles or find yourself constantly questioning why a character would go into that room alone, this might not be the film for you.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Yeah, I missed it

I was totally going to post something on my Fourth Anniversary of Blogging. But I missed it. I posted the two days after and mentioned nothing of the actual anniversary.
As I'm trying to be really productive today, I thought I would post something here -- something PROFOUND. But trying to be productive doesn't equal actually being productive. So, I give you:Monkey. This is the very first picture I posted on this blog. Monkey sits at the top of the Space Needle, and at one time, Monkey was going to travel the globe and post pictures of his *ramblings* (ala Flat Stanley). Unfortunately, Monkey got laid off from his full-time job and can't afford to travel. In fact, I'm pretty sure Monkey is living in a storage unit at the moment.

Gee, now I feel bad that Monkey didn't get to go to England with me, and he's never been skiing. I should probably figure out where the heck Monkey is. Or I could take Monkeey with me next time I travel. She's a bit more compact.Plus, she's waving and smiling, instead of sitting there with a dumb look on her face. I think it was the job Monkey had. I think it sucked the life out of him. I know it did me.

Here's to another four years of Rambling -- be it the kind of rambling I did here in this post or some actual rambling around the world. I hope you'll join me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Me = Happy

This person
(who is awesome, by the way)
is going to spend three weeks with me next month. Yay!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Worry Wart

A couple of weeks ago, my wonderful, talented friend Lisa of Grandma's Briefs asked, "What's one thing you used to worry about that you no longer do?"

My response (in the comments) was, "Does there really come a time when I can stop worrying about something? I look forward to that day. I'm a chronic worrier. I even worry that I worry too much."

Which brings us to this "Heart of the City" comic strip:
Click to enlarge

I'm beginning to think every aspect of my life can be related to one of three things: (1) comic strips, (2) reruns of "Friends" or (3) an episode of "The Simpsons."

And you know, it worries me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

But dammit he is so cute

Last month, I told you about Jason Lee's new television project, "Memphis Beat." I also told you I was intrigued, yet skeptical.

Today, one of those big ol' banner ads for the show displayed on a totally unrelated Web site (I was looking for an article about fruits and vegetables on wholeliving.com!).

I'm pretty sure it's a sign from the Television Gods, telling me to watch this program and maybe give Jason Lee another chance. After all, I don't have to personally watch those chipmunk travesties. And I did love him in "Chasing Amy," "Mallrats" and "My Name is Earl."

OK, sure, it could be that TNT is just really pushing this show, but I prefer to believe in the Television Gods theory. After all, who else has always been there for me, if not the warm, loving glow of TV.

And he is looking awfully damn cute, I must admit.

Don't you judge me.

I'm sure you have your obsessions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's time again for ...

Fun with Spam!

Starring: the 2010 Edition of Presidential Who's Who
Dear Pam,

You were recently chosen as a potential candidate to represent your professional community in the 2010 Edition of Presidential Who's Who.

We are pleased to inform you that your candidacy was formally approved June 3rd, 2010. Congratulations. The Publishing Committee selected you as a potential candidate based not only upon your current standing, but focusing as well on criteria from executive and professional directories, associations, and trade journals. Given your background, the Director believes your profile makes a fitting addition to our publication.
I'll stop there because you get the picture. I have been "formally approved" as a candidate for the 2010 Edition of Presidential Who's Who. Ooh. Prestigiousy. I, who work part-time and do freelance work, have a profile that makes "a fitting addition" their publication. And they're basing it on my "current standing" -- you know, my standing as a part-time employee, a failed writer and a sort-of student -- and on criteria "executive and professional" blah blah blah.

I've been getting different "Who's Who" e-mails delivered to my "work" address over the past few months. I mark each one spam and do not click the unsubscribe link. Which, by the way, has "moneymaker" in its address. Sheesh.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cheesy TV and me

I have a confession to make. Last night I spent nearly three hours watching "Ghost Whisperer" reruns on SyFy. I'm not sure how it happened. The remote was right next to me. I have a library of DVDs I can watch. I have both a Blockbuster Online and a Netflix subscription. I even have a bunch of (quality) movies recorded on the DVR.

Maybe it was the fact that I was working on a writing project at the same time (I will have to go re-read that to make sure it's coherent). Maybe I just needed some mindless entertainment in the background while I worked (I didn't seem to be getting much done sitting at my desk).

The most disturbing part was that I kinda, sorta liked it. I know! Don't judge me. It's not like I'll be seeking it out or anything. It's not as if I checked and found out that SyFy plays four-hour blocks of "Ghost Whisperer" every Monday. Or that it's on every weeknight on Ion Television (Comcast channel 26).

OK, so maybe I need a Cheesy TV intervention.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

From the in-case-I-didn't-mention-it file

The S.O. has decided to take flying lessons.

Which I fully support because he's excited about it. But look at that tiny little plane. Scary. The only downside is that the weather has been pretty uncooperative for him -- high winds, fog -- and he hasn't gotten as many hours logged as he'd like. Still, I like to think one day he'll get his pilot's license and jet us off to some exotic locale for a romantic getaway.

Shut up. A girl can dream.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Vaguey McVaguerson and her opinion

I know I have a really -- no, I mean, Really -- terrible track record when it comes to marriage and relationships, but it seems to me if you're hacking into your husband's e-mail to see who his contacts are, you may have trust issues. And your marital problems are bigger than you may realize.

I also know the person I'm talking about doesn't read my Blog, but just in case: I have my own shit to deal with, honey. I don't want your husband.

Thanks. I feel better now.

Monday, June 07, 2010

OK, Mother Nature, just stop it

You know, I hate to be one of those people who always bitches about the weather. But I can't help it. Seriously, it was snowing here just three weeks ago, and today, the weather forecasters are saying the temperature is going to be near 100 degrees.

Maybe I wouldn't complain if we had air conditioning. Wait. No. This is me we're talking about. Of course I'd complain. It's what I do. I'll just have to think cool thoughts today. Or find a nice WiFi spot with a/c.

In the meantime, check out this nest on our house. It's not a very good picture, because I had to zoom in from my office window. But it's the coolest looking thing. It's perfectly round. At first I thought it was some kind of light the S.O. put up. It's that symmetrical.The S.O. knocked it down from the eaves. No one was home in the nest, so he didn't get stung -- except by the deck chair that ripped the skin off his shin. Don't worry, no pics of that. But here's a closer look at the nest.
Not sure who it belonged to exactly. We have had paper wasps' nests, mud dauber nests and yellow jacket nests and none of them have looked quite like this.

Any ideas? Also, any ideas on how to keep all these critters from nesting in our eaves? Because these nests look really cool, but I really, really, really hate flying stinging things.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Am I the only person who thinks nouns should stay nouns?

Surely not. However, I came across this little gem today:

The Associated Press has just informed our editorial department that "unfriend" is officially a word.
So, not only is "unfriend" officially a word, it's OK to use it as a verb? I don't accept "friend" as a verb. I don't really like "text" used as a verb.

But then again, I'm a word nerd and a grammar Nazi. So maybe my opinion is that of an old curmudgeon.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What I made for dinner: Paprika Shrimp and Green Bean Saute

(From EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry)

Ingredients
  • 4 cups green beans, trimmed (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 2 16-ounce cans large butter beans, or cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, or red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation

1. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Put green beans in a steamer basket, place in the pan, cover and steam until tender-crisp, 4 to 6 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and paprika and cook, stirring constantly, until just fragrant but not browned, about 20 seconds. Add shrimp and cook until pink and opaque, about 2 minutes per side. Stir in beans, vinegar and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup parsley.
3. Divide the green beans among 4 plates. Top with the shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup parsley.

Makes 4 servings (but I cut it all in half for the S.O. and me).

This dish was super easy (I bought shrimp that was already de-veined!) and really delicious -- for those out there who like shrimp and green beans, of course.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Behind the red door

Or what I did with my three-day weekend

The S.O. and I have talked about moving out of our current house for a few years now. At one time, we thought we were moving to Oregon. When that didn't happen (for which I'm very glad now), we thought we'd still like to live in another part of town.

Slowly, we made upgrades and changes to the house -- things we thought would make it more marketable and at the same time, things we would be able to enjoy.

The front door was one of those things that wasn't a big deal, but something we thought would look nice if we fixed it up. Originally, the door was a plain wood door -- well "wood" might be more appropriate. But it was very faded and just kind of blah.

Now, it's red -- technically "borscht" -- and quite striking, if I do say so myself.

And it had better, because despite the fact that we spent the extra money to get the supposedly high-quality paint AND primer, it took three coats to get the coverage we wanted. So, what were we doing at 10 p.m. Sunday evening? We were waiting for paint to dry so we could rehang the door and go to bed ... just so we could take it back down Monday to add one more coat. All in all, it took us something like 15+ hours to paint one door. Ugh.

OK, sure we also attended a barbecue and watched UFC at a friend's house over the weekend. But the biggest part of the long weekend was spent watching paint dry. And it's just as exciting as it sounds.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Animal tales

My dear and talented friend Lisa over at Grandma's Briefs is sending her grandson a tortoise -- no not a real tortoise -- a very cute plastic tortoise. It's in honor of World Turtle Day and ... oh just go read her post (if you haven't already). Her post led her to ask: "Did you or anyone you know have a turtle when you were a kid?"

Which got me to thinking about the animals we did have as kids. Because with three boys in the house, it seemed someone was always bringing home some kind of orphaned animal (and by "someone" I mean "Joe.")

I have vague memories of baby rabbits and snapping turtles and squirrels, but the most memorable was JoJo the Raccoon. He was orphaned (don't ask me to tell you how he was "orphaned," please) at our friend's farm and came home with us. It was like something straight off Wild Kingdom. And he was the cutest damn thing. Look.

Yep. That's me -- cuddling a wild freaking animal. And before you think my parents were irresponsible, he was actually quite tame. We fed him grapes and scrambled eggs. And somewhere in my old photos, I have a picture of him inside my Barbie camper. (It was quite traumatic for Barbie and Ken. Ken lost an arm in the attack.)

Unfortunately, as raccoons reach sexual maturity, they become more and more aggressive. Knowing this, we took him to a local petting zoo well before that day came. Technically, it's a turn-of-the-century replica farm and it's still operating today. And technically, no one was actually allowed to pet JoJo or his buddy Ricky. But we were able to go and visit him a few more times before he was released into the wild.

Well, that's what I was told. And that's what I still choose to believe. If you have other theories about "released into the wild," I'd prefer you keep them to yourself.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mutant strawberry

I baked a cake last weekend for the S.O.'s birthday. It was a lemon cake with vanilla frosting, and I sliced fresh strawberries to put on top.

It was not a beautiful cake but it was quite tasty.

You can't tell from the picture of the cake, but there were a few strawberries in the batch that were huge. They weren't just kind of big; they were seriously, massively, monstrously giant.


Look:

Lest you think that's Photoshopped (which I don't have, by the way), here's another for perspective.

The strawberry on the left is still larger than average and it's dwarfed by the mutant strawberry.

That big old thing tasted just like any other strawberry though. And since consuming it, I have not developed any special powers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And yet, I know he'll just break my heart again

There is something oh-so-charming about Jason Lee in this promo.



Still, I don't know if I can ever fully forgive him for "Alvin and the F'ing Chipmunks."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hello, everybody!

Don't you just hate it when people don't update their blog? Yeah, me too.

So, to update:
  • I am studying away to become a personal trainer, as well as working out more so I can be a good example to clients.
  • I am still writing test drives but am feeling kind of burned out on them and am (still) seriously considering not doing any more after the summer. However, that means the only writing I'll be doing will be on blogs. But that counts, right?
  • The S.O. and I are trying to decide if we want to return to my home town in a couple weeks for my niece's 8th grade graduation. We don't want to stay at my dad's house -- for a variety of reasons -- but also don't feel like having to explain that to him. Any ideas?
  • Ripley is almost completely back to normal. Her hair has mostly grown back, and she's up to her old shenanigans.
  • Saturday marks the six-year anniversary of my first date with the S.O. Time is scary.
OK, I think that brings us up to date. When I can think of something more profound -- or at least funny -- to write about, I will. But at least I'm not a total blog slacker.

UPDATE: Oh, and I'm playing with the blogs layout because I was tired of the generic template. if you like it, let me know. If you hate it, you can shut the hell up. (Oh, I'm kidding. Let me know if you hate it. It's a work in progress.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fun with Spam!

Today in Fun with Spam, I share a "Privet!" e-mail I received (It was sent to me and two other people! Very "privet" indeed.):

Good day, my dear friend

Don't put your heart in someone's hands until you're sure that they know how to hold it… That is why I think, that two persons have to become friends first of all. I guess one letter isn't enough to know person well enough but I will try. I don't like noisy parties at the restaurants. I like to cook and do it not bad. I'm happy to meet good people. I like to dance, visit dance studio. I like flowers. I live in house with a small garden. There are many flowers in my garden and that is the place where I have a rest in spring and summer. In my sole I am a romantic person. I am also attractive woman and I do everything to be in a good form. Here (link redacted) I am looking for my second part for to share my life with.

While I am also happy to meet good people. I think I'll pass.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Volunteers Rock

Yesterday marked the end of our spring tutoring session (the cookies were a hit, once again). And as I thanked all of my volunteer tutors, I realized how much they do and how hard it is to really express a true thanks to them.

They give their time -- two (or more) hours a week, plus their travel time -- to work with a kid they don't know, simply out of the goodness of their heart. I tutored for a few months before taking on my paid position, and while it was fulfilling, it was also a lot of hard work. The kids don't always want to read. They don't always want to cooperate. But my volunteers were patient and worked hard to get the kids to pay attention. Some of them really struggled with kids who were hyper or distracted -- or distracting. But they persevered. And I saw big changes in a lot of the kids. And a bookmark and a thank-you note seem like such a small token for such a big job.

I know none of my volunteers read my blog (well, a former one does, and she definitely rocks!) but I still wanted to honor them here, because they do rock, as does anyone who gives their time to help others -- in whatever capacity.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

But they tasted good

The Boot Tracks turned out to be a big hit, and not one person said they looked like poo. And not one person knew they were made with whole-wheat pastry flour, raw sugar, organic cocoa powder and cage-free eggs.

Shhh. Don't tell anyone I've turned into such a hippy.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Baking cookies

Tonight and tomorrow night we celebrate the end of our spring tutoring session. I got it in my head to bake cookies for the little nippers because I hate all the processed crap out there and plan to force my healthier ways on the kids, whether they know it or not.

So, I headed over to EatingWell.com and found this recipe: Boot Tracks. Cute, right? Plus, they actually kind of fit, because the theme of our curriculum is Pikes Peak and hiking and climbing the mountain, etc. (This replaces my original idea of making sugar cookies shaped like the Cat in the Hat's hat. I couldn't find a hat cookie cutter and I know my limitations.)

However, being the bad planner that I am, I barely had enough sugar to make one batch, even though I'd planned to make at least two. And they are not dusted with confectioners' sugar, because the bag I had in the pantry had a "best by" date from more than a year ago. And I only have a Belgian waffle iron. Which the recipe specifically says not to use.

So, although my Boot Tracks cookies taste yummy. They look more like something you might scrape off your boot at the end of a hike than a boot track.

Bet you wish you could have one now, don't you?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

This is a horoscope I can get behind

Capricorn
Saturday, May 1st, 2010 -- You might want to escape for a while today and it's actually a good idea. You spend enough time handling business and being responsible in your day-to-day life. Now, if you dream about taking time for yourself or going off to play with friends, don't judge yourself harshly. All work and no play isn't a smart way to live; it's healthier to acknowledge your desires and give yourself permission to relax and unwind.

Friday, April 30, 2010

And Now for a Big Finish

It's the last day of April, and I managed to post an entry on my blog every single day this month. I wonder if I can keep up with it (try to suppress your derisive laughter, dear reader).

With April over (almost), summer must be right around the corner. Right? Well, we did have a big snowstorm last week, and the forecast for the weekend is showing highs around 50. So, Spring, maybe. But we are wrapping up our tutoring session for the Spring and my calendar looks a little more open. What will I do with my free time?

Study my 735-page Fitness text book and take quizzes. Try out some new healthy recipes. Squeeze in a few more workouts (I've been trying yoga). And just get my head together so I don't feel like I'm burned out by the work I've been doing the past few years. (I'm seriously considering not doing test drives after this year.)

This morning, I went to my Boot Camp Fitness workout, then zoomed home, had a quick protein smoothie, then zoomed to a park, where I did a mini workout with Kettle bells. We recorded a video that I should be able to post (or link to) soon. And I took a whole bunch of pictures of the instructor, Beth. She's the one on the left.
It was about 40 degrees and windy, but we managed to look like we were having a good time. I'm really looking forward to getting certified and starting to kick some butt into shape -- including my own.

I just have to figure out how I'm going to get my brain to remember all the Latin terms for the muscles. Ugh.

Thanks for tuning in for my NaBloPoMo this April. It's been fun.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two Big Days Left

I'm thisclose to finishing an entire month of posting every single day. I feel like tomorrow has to be the Big Finale. So today, you're getting a Big ... giggle (from "F Minus").

Well, it made me giggle anyway.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Biggest Loser and Big Bad Trends

I've noticed that one of the new fitness trends is for trainers to scream at and belittle their clients ala "The Biggest Loser." The lovely and talented Moardy over at A Motivated Notion has even seen this phenomenon in yoga classes. (Go read her account of this yoga experience. It's freaking scary.)

And maybe it works for some people. As Moardy says, "The class was packed and the studio continues to bring in new students with the promise of helping them lose weight."

But for me, not so much. If my trainer talked to me the way the trainers on "The Biggest Loser" talk to those people, he'd be drinking his Power Bars through a straw. And I'm not the only one in my workout group who would give him whatfor.

I don't find yelling motivating. If you're yelling how hot I look, OK, sure, that's motivating. But I don't want my Boot Camp fitness workout to feel and sound like a real Boot Camp. I've joked about my trainer being an "evil drill sergeant" but I wouldn't have stuck with this workout program for nearly a year if he ever made me feel bad about myself.

You know, I can belittle myself just fine without having to pay someone else to do it. I want my trainer (and especially my yoga instructor) to tell me I'm doing a great job and encourage me to push myself a little harder. Tell me I'm lazy or weak or that what I'm doing should hurt, and I'm out the door.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Big F-U from Our Government

I don't usually get political here at Rambling Pam. I just don't think this is the forum for it. But I felt compelled to share this little tidbit, especially because Earth Day was just last week.

The S.O., feeling politically and environmentally responsible, sent a letter to our local representative, expressing his support for pursuing alternative energy sources. Yesterday, he received a (form) letter from said representative. Below are parts of that letter.

Dear Mr. S.O.,
Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts regarding alternative and renewable energy development in the United States. I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter, and I share your interest in developing alternative and renewable energy for the future.
So far, so good.
I support domestic energy development legislation that will lower prices today, while producing alternative energy for tomorrow. I also would consider legislation that takes federal revenues from oil and gas leasing and puts it into research and development of alternative and renewable energy.
Hmmm. Why am I starting to suspect this is political doublespeak?
I am a strong supporter of increasing our own domestic energy production through drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States. Additionally, exploration and development of other rich oil and natural gas reserves can take place in our public lands.
Wait. What? Finding alternative places to drill for oil does NOT equal finding alternative energy sources.

He goes on to say that "drilling in this small reserve of land (in Alaska's Arctic Coastal Plain) can be both environmentally sound and provide Americans with 10.4 billion barrels of oil." I'm not so sure about the "environmentally sound" part. But I'm not a big ol' politician either. I'm also not a creature who lives on that coastal plain ... and neither is he.

I appreciate that this proposed idea would "provide unprecedented levels of funding for development of renewable energy at no cost to the taxpayer" but at what cost to future generations? The whole letter smacks of "Thanks for writing, but I'm going to do whatever the hell I want to do, regardless of you as a voter want."

Eh. Maybe I'm too much of a liberal because I don't mind paying for alternative and renewable energy research. I also wouldn't mind paying for street lights and garbage cans. But that's just me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Big Ben

A few years ago, the S.O. and I went to the U.K. We were only in London for three days so we crammed a ton of sight-seeing into that time. We hit all the big ones (although some we only saw from the outside): Big Ben and the houses of parliament, the London Eye, the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park. We spent a rainy day in the Albert and Victoria museum, where I got a guard to say to me, "Ohh! You sound just like Monica ... from Friends." This was in response to me saying, "I know!"

We even went to Westminster Abbey to see the burial place of such luminaries as Charles Darwin, George Frederic Handel, Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens (as a literature geek, the writers and poets were a really big deal to me).

From London, we visited Lincoln, where the S.O. had a friend and we saw leftover set pieces from "The DaVinci Code" in Lincoln Cathedral. If I remember the movie correctly -- and I wish I could forget it -- the scenes that supposedly took place in Westminster Abbey were actually film in Lincoln Cathedral. Kinda cool. Too bad I hated the movie (especially Tom Hanks' hair).

After a couple days in Lincoln, we took the train to Edinburgh, Scotland. We visited castles and museums and strolled along the beach of the Firth of Forth. We spent some time hanging out with the S.O. aunt and uncle, who was teaching at a college there. We strolled through a forest that called to mind fairies and robber barons and cutthroats. We didn't make it to the highlands on that trip, but I'd like to go back some day.

It's been a while since we took a really big vacation like this one. So maybe I'd just like to go somewhere.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Big Night Out

Thanks to my part-time gig, the S.O. and I got to go to a fancy schmancy fund-raiser event last night. We got dressed up and ate and drank too much. It was a lot of fun.

It was the American Culinary Federation Pikes Peak Chapter Presents Simply Colorado, and the menu looked like this:
Reception
Chef Mark Painter C.E.C., Pikes Peak Community College
Reception Platters
Artesian Rolls
Chef Pete Aiello C.E.C., C.E.P.C., Alpine Chef
Artesian Rolls with Sweet Cream Butter
Fish
Chef Gary Hino C.E.C., Pikes Peak Community College
Sea Bass and Asian Medley En Paupiette with Green Tea Beurreblanc
Soup
Chef Walter Lofton, Springs Rescue Mission
Five Onion Soup with Scallion and Gruyere Croutons
Salad
Chef Bill Poulin, Cheyenne Mountain Resort
Roasted Chili Apple Bouquet with Candied Pecans and Spiced Yogurt Dressing
Intermezzo
Chef Richard Carpenter C.E.P.C., Harvest Mountain Foods
Wild Strawberry Yuzu Sorbet
Fowl
Chef Eric Viedt, The Margarita at Pine Creek
Southwest Duck ala Orange
Meat
Chef Tyler Peoples, Briarhurst Manor
Split Rack of Lamb Crepinette with Smoked Lamb Belly Duxelle
Dessert
Megan Walter, Sweet Daphne
Lemon Chevre Cheese Strudel, Black Berry Port Syrup with Cardamom Cream
Coffee Service
Jewels Burdick, Colorado Coffee Merchants
Mignardise
Richard Carpenter C.E.P.C, Harvest Mountain Foods
French Cinnamon Macaroons
Matcha Green Tea Mousseline
Coconut and Guava Pata de Fruit
Single Origin Chocolate Truffles

And because I had no idea what "mignardise" meant, I looked it up. This Web site says:
Mignardise are the tiny, bite-sized desserts that often follow a meal at high-end restaurants. They frequently include tiny cookies or chocolates, as well as other edible delights.
It also tells me that the word translates from French to mean "delicate fondling." Gotta admire the French for their love of food.

And now back to my regularly scheduled diet that excludes eight-course meals and wine pairings.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Big Punch

That's for the woman with the big mouth. Don't I look like a big bad ass?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Big Pivotal Pics

I am borrowing an idea from my good friend Lisa over at Grandma's Briefs for this post. She wrote about 12 movies that had an impact on her life so far. At the end of her post she asks for our pivotal pics. Because I thought the subject deserved a bit of thought, I decided to post here rather than just comment there. (But please do visit Grandma's Briefs if you don't already.)

Without further ado, here are my:

10 Pivotal Pics

1. Grease (1978) -- I had no idea I could love a musical. Before this movie, I thought all musicals were in Technicolor with lots of old people dancing to songs that were oh-so boring.

2. and 3. Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) (but not the others in the franchise) -- These movies have a tough chick as the main character, thrust into a situation beyond her control, totally kicking ass. They inspire me to be tough.

4. The Breakfast Club (1985)
-- This movie helped me realize the "cool" kids don't have the answers either.

5. Say Anything (1989) -- Although pivotal, I'd have to say pivotal in a negative way. Why can't every man be Lloyd Dobler?

6. Chasing Amy (1997) -- This movie helped me get over a bad break up and made me fall in love with Jason Lee and help my friend write a song.

7. Dawn of the Dead (2004) -- In the past, movies about the undead gave me nightmares -- yes, even the silly ones. This movie kicked off a spree (for me) of zombie movies that helped me put that fear to rest.

8. Shaun of the Dead (2004) -- This one completely eliminated the fear and sealed my love for all things zombie.

9. Roman Holiday (1953) -- I'm embarrassed to say I saw this for the first time just a few short years ago. Suddenly, I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn. I wanted to be a princess in disguise flitting around Rome with Gregory Peck. The movie is fun and romantic and sad and really beautiful.

10. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) -- I saw this movie on PBS in 2002 or 2003. I didn't have cable so I watched what I could. This movie awoke my love for classic films. It's hilarious. Also, they don't make Hollywood movie stars like Cary Grant anymore.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Big Mouth - A Rant

I work with a woman who is an obnoxious know-it-all. The one good thing is I only have to see her about once a month, but in that hour or so, I really want to punch her in the face. Yes, I know how violent that sounds, but she is horrible -- and totally disrespectful.

Yesterday, during our monthly meeting, she interrupted people, put in her two-cents worth whether it was wanted or needed, rolled her eyes at other people's suggestions and told her bosses their idea was a waste of her time.

One of the things she loves to do is going to stop, and she is not happy about it. The funny thing is she somehow thinks this thing that's actually a totally separate thing and takes extra time is better than the new thing that will be integrated into our daily schedule. She actually said she doesn't have time to do anything extra, yet that's exactly what she's doing now. And I happen to know that the thing she's doing is totally stressful for the other people who have to do it.

Our bosses asked us to have some thank-you cards made for donors. It's a nice thing to do and shouldn't take more than a few minutes, and it's not even something she herself has to do. That was when she did the most appalling thing, she said to our boss, "When I saw that come through my e-mail, I said, 'Screw that. I don't have time for that.'"

My jaw almost hit the floor. You don't have time to ask someone to make a thank-you card for the people who essentially pay your salary? Holy crap! I seriously almost came out of my chair and I can't believe she wasn't asked to leave. She must be really good at her job otherwise. She sort of changed her tune when pretty much everyone there berated her for her attitude. Yet, even then I don't think she thought we were right.

Thank goodness I don't have to see her for another month. In the meantime, I know whose face I'll picture next time I take a boxing class.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kind of a Big Deal

So, my new guitar teacher told me he heard from my old guitar teacher, and my old guitar teacher is playing with a band that opened for Willie Nelson over the weekend. My six degrees of Willie Nelson just got smaller.

And even though I'm not really a big country fan, I do love Willie Nelson. So, just because I do, here's a video. Which has nothing at all to do with my old guitar teacher.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One More Big Brother

I have one more big brother to tell you about. Joe was the middle brother of the three. And I think he watched one too many episodes of the Brady Bunch and took that whole middle child thing to heart. He always thought he got the short end of the stick. But he was also the trouble maker.

"Santa" had to start wrapping the presents he left under the tree or Joe would wake up early and announce to everyone what they got. Joe would find everyone's Easter basket and tell us where they were hidden. Joe would pick fights with Jim who was bigger and wasn't allowed to fight back -- until Mom finally had enough and said go for it. Then Joe moved on to Mike, who fought like the Tasmanian Devil and could inflict damage. So it was on to me who was too small to fight back and just cried to Mom or yelled, "Quit it!" a million times.

But Joe was also the star, earning Athlete-of-the-Week honors from our local paper for his pitching skills. I remember hearing how his fast ball was on par with professionals. And he and his beautiful wife produced the first grandchild of the family. (And yes, I do love his wife. She's been in the family longer than not and probably deserves her own blog post. And I'm not just saying that to suck up in case she reads this. I mean it!)

This photo (taken many, many years ago) shows four generations of our family: My maternal grandmother, Mom, Joe and his daughter, Heather.

It's true we fought a lot. A lot. But I think I'm tough because of it. With three older brothers I learned not to take crap from anyone.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Nap

Irrefutable proof that I am not -- as originally believed -- queen of my castle.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Big Butts

Last summer, when my niece came to visit, we went to the zoo -- twice. As we looked through the photos, we found that many animals did not want their picture taken. So we ended up with a lot of pictures of critter rear ends. Then, it became our goal to photograph as many animal behinds as possible.

We got zebra butts:

















And elephant butts:


















And, of course, hippo butts:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Big-Ass Spider

I have been pretty good lately about cooking more. And for the most part, I cook healthy meals, with fresh, whole ingredients.

Tonight's dinner was Vietnamese-style beef and noodle broth. It's kind of like pho, traditional Vietnamese soup. I thought it tasted pretty good, but the S.O. thought it needed some tweaking. I think I can accommodate him and keep it fairly healthy.

But the real reason for this post isn't to share the recipe, it's to tell you about what I found in the basil. Because I don't have any kind of green-thumb whatsoever, I buy fresh herbs in these flat plastic packages. They're pretty convenient, and I don't usually waste too much that way. Tonight, I opened the package to pull out some basil for the soup and found a big-ass black spider.

I'm not usually terribly squeamish about spiders, but this one was sitting in my basil. And I freaked a bit. And by a bit, I mean I pretty much lost it, slamming the package closed and calling the S.O. to deal with it. (He washed it down the sink.)

I put the basil in a colander to rinse it and assure myself that Charlotte didn't leave any babies behind. I was thisclose to just throwing the entire package into the garbage -- the outdoor garbage. But I know that would have been really wasteful.

Still, I have to admit my skin is kind of still crawling.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Big Fraidy Cat

Yesterday's weather produced nothing more than a small cloud burst and lots of rumbling. Ripley doesn't like thunder.As you can probably tell.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hi ya, Big Boy

Yesterday, I went to my friend's house so she could cut my hair and make it look like a color that actually exists in nature (yes, they call in "Natural Instincts" but it doesn't look all that natural when you put it over pre-existing dyed blond hair, but that's probably a story for another entry). She recently had a baby boy, and this is the first time I got to see him -- other than a picture on Facebook, in which he looked oddly spray tanned. (He's not.)

During the course of the afternoon, I got to hold the boy a few times. He's quite cute and seems so tiny. I held him and walked around with him for a bit while my friend made us some lunch. During that time, he decided it would be a really good idea to pee and let some leak out the diaper -- just a couple of drops, but still it's pee. I have to wonder if I should be flattered.

It turns out that having a kid is kind of a big job. And my friend, who recently turned 40, isn't so sure she wants to try for a second one. I don't judge -- OK, yeah, I'm Judgey McJudgerson, but I don't judge my friends in regards to their parenting choices and styles -- but she did seem to be pretty darn tired and was obviously feeling like she was nothing more than a dairy for this little man.

Don't get me wrong, she's deliriously happy with this baby. She was just exhausted and realizing (as I'm sure all new parents do, no matter how prepared) that having a kid is way more work than they thought.

I have accepted the fact that the universe doesn't want me to have a baby. But there is a part of me that thinks the universe has a grand scheme to lull me into a false sense of security, then years from now, when I'm contentedly settled into my mid-40s -- BAM! -- pregnant. Is it wrong that I think the universe is trying to pull a long con on me?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another Big Brother

A couple days ago, I told you about the oldest of my three older brothers. Now, let me tell you a little about the youngest of my three older brothers.

My niece and brother, high above the zoo.

We're separated in age by almost four years but were close enough in age growing up to have gone to elementary school together for a bit, walking to school together. And close enough to actually play together some. He might not remember -- or might not like to admit -- that he helped me set up a doll house at the top of the stairwell so my "Sunshine Family" could live next to a waterfall.

Me and Mike at our aunt's wedding. I didn't get to be a flower girl, thus the pout.

We were also close enough in age to have fights and arguments, but I must be getting old because I don't remember them ever being that bad. (Not like some of the other fights in our house that involved hammers and broomsticks. But I digress.)

Mike was always the handy one. He built end tables and lamps and other wooden items that are still in use today -- and that didn't look like they were built by a "kid." I wouldn't have admitted then how much I admired his skill.

Today, I admire him for his incredible parenting skills. He has raised my niece and nephew on his own and done a damn fine job, too. They're both smart and well-adjusted kids and somehow tolerate their aunt and her silliness. Their visit last year was the highlight of the summer -- strike that -- it was the highlight of the year.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Big Red Nose

Allergies suck.

Apparently, the entire country is experiencing record high pollen counts. I guess I'm selfish because I don't really care about the rest of the country. I just care about my raw nose.

For me the worst part is that I never even had allergies until I was in my late 20s. Now I never know what might trigger them. Dust? Definitely. Animals? Some. A dog with any amount of Lab in its blood will set me off like nothing else. Even my own dog (who is certainly Lab free) will sometimes cause me to break out on my arms.

I never really thought pollen was my problem. And around these parts, it might not be pollen. With the high winds, it might just be dirt and dust blowing around. All I know -- and I don't need a doctor or some other expert to tell me this -- is allergies suck.

Big time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Big Movie Night

Over the weekend, the S.O. and I watched two movies out on DVD right now. We don't go to the theater very much any more, mostly because I'm a curmudgeon who doesn't like crowds or talking during movies or crying babies or sticky floors. And I like to make my own popcorn and watch movies in my jammies.

We'd heard a lot of good things about both the movies we watched (on DVD because we're not that high-tech yet) . They weren't super hyped up, which can be the downfall of a movie. But they got good press and even received some awards. And they both definitely lived up to my high expectations of them.

The first one was "The Blind Side." Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her role -- in case you missed that with all the news of her cheating husband -- and she, along with the rest of the cast really do turn in great performances.

It's heartwarming without being cloying, and kind of restores my faith in humans. And don't worry if you're not a huge football fan. Football plays second fiddle to the real story here.

The second movie we watched was "Fantastic Mr. Fox." I loved this movie for its unabashed playfulness.

Where "The Blind Side" was uplifting for it's rags-to-riches story and help-your-fellow-man message, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is funny, laugh-out-loud, release-your-inner-child pure fun. George Clooney voices Mr. Fox, bringing all his old Hollywood type of charm to the character. Meryl Streep voices his wife, and Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Michael Gambon (Dumbledore!), Willem Dafoe and other lend their talent.

Based on the book by Roald Dahl, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is fantastic, with talking wild animals (should I be bothered that all the mammals can talk, but the fowls are food?) who get themselves into crazy situations that are only partly due to their being wild animals.

These two movies, while wildly different, made a great double feature. Add in some homemade popcorn and the dog curled up on my lap and you really shouldn't wonder why I prefer my movie nights at home.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Big Brother

No, not the giant talking face from "1984," but my actual big brother -- the oldest of the three. We keep in touch through (extremely) sporadic phone calls, but mostly through Facebook. We exchange comments and chat sometimes. I often think Facebook is evil, but in this case it's been great.
Jim and me and our dog, Herkimer.

We're separated in age by nearly seven years, so we didn't always do kid things together, but I can remember him taking me to see "The Rescuers" at the movie theater. And he was the epitome of what a big brother should be to a baby sister. He was protective. He looked out for me. And while he sometimes teased me (and still does!), it was always good-natured teasing and he was never ever mean to me.

With him living in Michigan and me in Colorado, we don't see each other often enough, but I know he's always there for me. He's the first person I wanted to talk to after Mom died.

He's been feeling a bit under the weather lately, so I've been thinking about him a lot and hoping my happy thoughts reach him and make him feel a tiny bit -- or a whole helluva lot -- better.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big Video Saturday

One of my new favorite things is "The Rotten Tomatoes Show" on Current TV. The hosts, along with viewers like you and me, critique new movies and present some how-to videos of their own. Like this one.



Because it features a clip from the movie "Big," I think it fulfills my daily Big quota. It's also quite funny, and Brett Erlich is a cutie pie.

Friday, April 09, 2010

My Big Snow Day

We had big plans this week to ski Wednesday and Thursday. Alas, the universe had other plans. Thanks to a spring snowstorm Wednesday morning, the roads were a bit treacherous, so we decided to head out a little later than originally planned. Then, thanks to a truck driver who reportedly was just not paying attention to traffic, the interstate was backed up. It took us an hour to go just a couple miles. Finally, we got around the accident and hit the open road and got to Frisco by about 3:45 p.m. -- just in time to check in to the bed and breakfast.

We stayed at the Galena Street Mountain Inn, and I highly recommend it. It's quiet and comfortable, and the owners are great hosts. They set out wine and cheese in the evening and cook a delicious breakfast in the morning -- homemade granola, fresh fruit, eggs to order, as well as fresh-brewed coffee -- and it cost less than staying at one of the chain motels near the interstate. It also cost half the price of staying in Copper Mountain and was way nicer.

After our wonderful breakfast Thursday morning, we headed out to Copper Mountain (just a few minutes down the road) for our day of skiing. It was a perfect day for it. The temperature reached the low 40s. The sky was so blue it was almost purple. The snow was fresh and fluffy. And the crowds were nonexistent.I skied blue runs the whole day while the S.O. took on one black. I don't know what was different about the day but it was the best day of skiing I think I've ever had. I felt strong and confident and had a ton of fun. We'd like to get one more day in before the end of the season, but I can't imagine it'll beat yesterday.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Big Picture Show

What I watched: "Penelope"

Every once in a while I am left to my own devices with the television. When that happens, I usually watch something I know the S.O. would scoff at or just wouldn't care about. Sometimes, it's a foreign film, sometimes a golden oldie.

This week, it was "Penelope," a film from 2006 that must have had zero publicity (because I'd never heard of it) and that I really enjoyed. It stars Christina Ricci and James McAvoy and it's a sweet little twist on "Beauty and the Beast."

Peter Dinklage is also in it as a rabid reporter, looking for a big scoop. And if you haven't seen Dinklage in "The Station Agent," stop reading right now and go to Blockbuster or Netflix and add it to the top of your queue immediately. I'll wait.

(Files nails, whistles ... ) Oh! You're back. Hi.

Is "Penelope" a romantic comedy? Maybe. I'd call it a fairy tale that appealed to even my cynical nature. It's romantic and sweet and cute. And you can probably guess the end before it comes, but none of that stopped me from smiling. And none of that stopped me from loving the characters I was supposed to love and hating the characters I was supposed to hate.

If you're going to spend 90 minutes watching something that's supposed to be romantic, that's supposed to make you laugh, that's supposed to make you root for the leading lady and man, you may as well spend it watching Christina Ricci and James McAvoy in "Penelope."