Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Saga of the Hallinglag: Den Første

Many many apologies to you all!  I fully intended to bring you the exciting play-by-play of my weekend in Fargo, but it appears that I have failed miserably.  I know that excuses are not really acceptable, but perhaps once I complete my recap for you all, you may feel a bit more forgiving.

The last time I updated was Thursday night, and I believe I was in a fairly genial state of mind, so I will start from that point.

Let me start by giving you a few more details about the hotel.  First of all, due to some bizarre design focus, it was apparently deemed well and good that there be no outside facing windows in any of the rooms.  That's right.  Technically, there was one window, but it was located by the front door and looked out at the wall of the hallway outside.  Not exactly scenic.

Next, I will share that the ventilation system in the hotel was somewhat, shall we say, outdated?  There were no control knobs on the actual vent as would have been expected.  One had to look a bit harder to find temperature controls on the opposite end of the room immediately outside the door to the adjoining room.  As a side note, I did NOT have the room adjoining my grandfather and uncle.  At first I was a little miffed about this, but in retrospect, I realize it was probably a blessing (of sorts).

Being the great investigator that I am, I managed to find the temperature controls.  Unfortunately, moving the knobs and switches on the ancient device proved to have absolutely no effect.  Thankfully the system happened to be set on a cooler mode thus avoiding the horrible possibility that the heater would start.  If there is anything that ruins a good night sleep for me, it is excessive heat.  Or so I thought.

You see, the Hallinglag of America was not the only group descending upon Fargo, ND this past weekend.  Apparently there was a huge golf tournament, some youth soccer tournaments and perhaps also a youth hockey tournament.  Oh, and of course, there were several other "Lags" meeting in town.  That's right, folks.  You didn't honestly think that the Hallinglag was the only such group around, did you?  Heck no!

Translation to this situation:  the hotel was completely booked with not only the elderly, but with children as well.  Children who apparently did not have any parental oversight or normal bedtime requirements.  Do you see where I am heading?  Here is the equation:  Crappy ventilation system = zero fan noise.  Zero fan noise = absolute silence.  Unsupervised children = loud hallway ruckus at very late hours.  Therefore, crappy ventilation system + unsupervised children = terrible sleeping conditions for Megan. 

That was just for the first night.  On the second night, add in my father sleeping in the next bed, probably about as lightly as I was.  Unfortunately for my father (and me), the result of light sleep generally equals loud snoring.  You can probably imagine how this improved the sleeping situation.

Enough about that.  Oh, wait.  One more thing about the hotel room.  Apparently, when my father went to use the shower on Saturday morning, he discovered (and killed) three Silverfish in the shower room.  He chose not to tell me about this until after breakfast when he knew that I was not only done eating but would not need to use the shower again during our stay.  If you don't know what a Silverfish looks like, check this out.

OK.  Back to the Hallinglag.

Let us start with Friday morning.  In anticipation of the fact that old people tend to be early risers, I set my alarm to be ready for breakfast by 8 a.m.  I figured that my grandfather would be up well before that and that my uncle would likely be up as well.  At 7:15 a.m. I hopped out of bed and spent the next 45 minutes preparing myself to meet the day.

Just as I was finishing, I opted to send my uncle a quick text to let him know I was ready, just in case they had already gone down to the dining room.  I received no response.  I found this unusual as my uncle pays quite close attention to his cell phone; much like a teenager, he is fond of texting and updating his Facebook page on-the-go. 

Once I was completely ready, I knocked on the door to their room and immediately did not receive a response.  I waited.  About a minute later, my uncle appeared at the door, clearly groggy with sleep and with the room dark behind him.  Apparently, they were not up yet.  I informed them that I was going to eat and that I would check in with them later.

Clearly, I would have preferred NOT to go to breakfast alone, but I figured that the serving style would be like other hotels I had stayed in before:  self-serve.  Once again, the Vista Inn defied expectations.  Breakfast was served in the same cramped space as the "Meet and Mingle" of the previous night, and when I arrived it was clear that space would again be a problem.  While there were several tables without occupants, they were all covered in dirty dishes that had yet to be cleared. 

A quick scan of the situation revealed that the serving setup was seat yourself and wait to be served by the ONE waitress running frantically back and forth to and from the kitchen.  She apologized profusely for the mess and I smiled and sat down alone at one of the messy tables to wait my turn.  I did consider trying to make myself useful in the kitchen until I saw a clearly posted sign that "Only Staff Allowed in Kitchen."

So.  I sat in the crowded room full of hotel occupants all alone and tried to look confident.  That's when a group of friendly fellow Hallings noticed my plight and asked me to join their table of three.  So I sat with them and introduced myself while enjoying breakfast with my new friends.  One of them turned out to be from Willmar, so we had a nice little chat about my hometown.  Turns out her granddaughter was in the same grade as my brother.  Who knew?

It was also during this conversation that I realized that I may be a bit of a person of interest, and not just because of my age.  Apparently, I am a bit of a "Super Halling."  Why is this, you ask?  Well.

You see, obviously, my grandfather is a Halling.  Why else would he be at the Hallinglag?  At the age of 84, he is a bit of a legend in the group, although I was not able to definitively determine whether that was good or bad.  As he is my father's father, we share the same last name, thus making our connection all the more obvious as we were all wearing nametags. 

So I've got that going for me, right?  But that's not all.  You see, my grandpa isn't my only Halling connection.  Oh no.  My grandmother (his wife) also was a Halling.  While she has been deceased for more than 40 years and never likely attended a Hallinglag in her life, her siblings have been very involved over the years.  In fact, both her brother and sister have been officers at different points in time.

When I introduced myself, therefore, I would tell people that I was Eugene's granddaughter and ALSO that I am Dorothy's great-niece.  They were usually initially quite confused.  No one knew that Eugene was married to the sister of such prominent people, you see.  The look of surprised admiration in their eyes upon this revelation was quite humorous to behold, to be honest.

So there you have it - I must be the chosen one to lead the Hallings into the next century.  Maybe.  If I feel like it.

Good grief, I just took a very ridiculous sidetrack, didn't I?  Back to the story. 

By the time I finished eating breakfast, my grandfather and uncle had appeared in the dining room.  I excused myself from my table of new friends and greeted my relatives.  I then decided to pick up our registration materials.  Armed with our nametags and event tickets, I returned to the dining room to distribute. 

Unfortunately, by this time, breakfast was winding down.  My grandfather and uncle had yet to be served, and my grandfather was clearly getting anxious.  His irritation only increased when he noted that some other people who arrived after him had already received food and drink.  He felt that he was being ignored, and he wasn't going to stand for it. 

So he instructed my uncle to go back to the kitchen.  When Dean failed to comply, he turned to me.  I carefully pointed out the sign that forbid guests in the kitchen.  I then suggested that he march his cute little grandpa self up there and try to charm the waitstaff as they would likely respond better to the dissemblings of a charming old man than a pushy girl.  Ever the passive-agressive, he chose to do nothing.  Except complain.  All weekend.

By the time that our breakfast shenanigans were over (and the men received their food), the genealogy presentations were well under way already.  We snuck in towards the end, just in time to catch some random statements about the Hallinglag and the notice that they were breaking for coffee and treats. 

We all adjourned to the "courtyard" for the break, but not without many complaints over the set up and line that resulted.  I am not sure who thought it would be a good idea to make a bunch of elderly people wait in line for long periods of time, but take note:  it is a bad idea.  After retrieving a prized fattigman cookie for myself and one for my father, I waited patiently for the next event.

Apparently, there is some sort of horn-type instrument called a lur that is used to call the Hallinglag to order.  If you check out the link in the previous sentence, you can find some pretty awesome pictures of lurs.  Rest assured, none of our lur players stood shirtless on cliffs.  Thank goodness.

After the call of the lur, the meeting began.  At this point, my father arrived.  Just in time for the singing of the national anthems.  Oh yes, not only do we sing the U.S. National Anthem, we also sing Norway's and Canada's.  Not crazy, I guess, but my only request would be that they choose a lower key register next time around.  No one in the group could comfortably sing that high any more.

From that point, there really wasn't much to note.  Except for a very bizarre attempt to perform Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First?" routine along with a "modern" version using computer lingo.  The performers stressed several times that they had only practiced once.  Honestly.  I have NO idea what this had to do with the Hallinglag, Norway or anything else for that matter.  And they wonder why the younger generations aren't interested?  Hm.

Once the insanity ceased, the crowd again formed a ridiculously long line to eat their luncheon.  At this point, we abandoned my grandfather to his people and my uncle, father and I went to a Mexican restaurant.  Although my uncle had some issue with getting a bean burrito when he ordered a beef burrito, the rest of the experience was good.  For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed a lovely margarita.  Don't judge - I just had one.  And I needed it, as I was soon to discover.

You know what?  I think that I am going to pause to publish at this point.  This entry is getting long and I still have more information to cover.  So you will just have to sit on the edge of your seats until I bring you the exciting conclusion of the Saga of the Hallinglag!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kan du snakke norsk?

Even though we are only a short way into the raging blowout party that is the Hallinglag, I feel I should update on the adventure.

My travels were relatively smooth.  I left work early and departed up the great U.S. Interstate Highway 94 towards Fargo, ND.  My first (and only) stop was in scenic Sauk Centre, MN to retrieve my uncle and grandfather.  Once we got moving again, we didn't stop again until we crossed the state lines.

Rather than just check in, we opted for the more adventurous route and drove to my great-aunt's apartment in downtown Fargo.  If there is one thing that I can say about this is that the lady has a collection of items that could never be replicated anywhere.  She has lived and traveled all over the world and her apartment is living proof of this fact.

After some bathroom breaks and a little movement after the confines of the car, we went to the Fargo landmark:  The Fryn' Pan Restaurant.  I distinctly remember coming to this place with my friends in college when we came up to see Jill at Concordia.  If I recall correctly, the caramel rolls are awesome.  Today I opted for a more conservative option of a chicken sandwich and Diet Coke.  Not as great, but maybe I can talk my dad into going back.  These are his old college stomping grounds, after all.

Once we had our fill of family restaurant delectables, I left the men at the apartment and took on the task of checking us all in to the hotel.  I have to admit, I had my doubts about the place based on the websites, but it really is pretty decent.  Staying here will definitely not be a problem.

After completing my bellhop duties, I checked out the wi-fi situation.  As you can see, I am updating my blog, so they get another thumbs-up in that category.  Once the rest of the crew caught up with me here, we gussied up a bit and headed to the informal reception.  Unfortunately, the Hallinglag planning crew opted for a more cramped room for the first night "Meet and Mingle" event, so we didn't stay long.

I should qualify that a bit.  We did not stay in the reception room long.  Our attempt to return to our rooms was postponed by some introductions that we made in the hotel lobby.  This really wasn't a problem.  In fact, I discovered that my grandfather is a bit of a well-known celebrity.  One woman actually said that she had heard a lot about him from her parents over the years.  I can only assume that she heard good things, but one never knows.

Sadly, I managed to forget to grab my camera despite the fact that I mentally reminded myself several times to grab it before leaving the house.  Fortunately, my uncle has been taking pictures and tomorrow my father arrives with another camera.  Other than my grandfather and his antics, there hasn't been much to gather photographically today, although I really wish that I had a tape recorder sometimes.

So at the very least, you can expect to hear more tomorrow once I have officially "registered" and events really begin to get moving.  At least I hope they move.  Based on the relative difference in age between myself and the rest of the group, I'm not sure.  On the plus side, being 31 years old in this setting makes me feel young for a change.  Ha det bra!!!!

Wish me luck...

In the interest of preserving my sanity and documenting momentous events, I am doing a very un-Megan like thing by toting my laptop along with me this weekend to the Hallinglag.  Combined with the camera that I will hopefully remember to pick up today, I should be able to offer up some points of interest for the next couple of days.  Plus I will be able to work on my homework while on the road.  Bonus.

Since I am sure you're all interested, the "final" plan is apparently for me to pick up both my grandfather and uncle this afternoon for our trip to Fargo.  Thankfully, my mother offered her slightly larger vehicle for this purpose, so we will not be uncomfortable. 

Unfortunately, due to the fact that my grandfather will be in the car, we will be limited in our music choices.  You see, although my grandfather likes music (generally), he has some kind of odd fixation with the belief that drums and other percussive sounds are "unnecessary."  Why?  Oh, no reason.  So, unless I am willing to listen to hours of choral or classical music, we will rely on our conversation skills to get us ready. 

Actually, I think it could be considered a near certainty that my grandfather will try to get us to sing some songs in Norwegian.  The difficulty of this is that only he really knows the words or the tunes to these songs.  He is well aware of this, but for some reason he chooses to insist that we sing along.  If we're lucky, he will again instruct me that I need to take up the "fiddle."  More likely than not, he will have a story about one of his cousins as well, which will certainly lead into a long and convoluted story about some obscure former resident of North Fork Township who had 25 children, ate nothing but beets and brushed their teeth with dandelion wine. 

As a side note, this is my first time away from my dog overnight since I adopted her in February.  I know she is in a place where she feels safe and is comfortable, but I hope she isn't too traumatized to sleep with someone else for two nights.  Honestly, I do not even know how sleeping will go for me without my little Lean Bean next to me.  (Sniff)

Anyway, as a final gesture of goodwill, here are a few more "old" drawings to remember me by, just in case my brain ceases to function (or the advertised wi-fi connection in the hotel does not work). 

Now appearing at El Rodeo in Maple Grove!

"Laser Baby"

Oh, you know, just a partially completed groundhog.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pardon my laziness

It really is a little bit ridiculous how excited I am getting about my upcoming adventure into No Man's Land, aka Fargo, ND.  True, I may be one of the youngest people in attendance, but I have always been able to get along with the elderly.  Maybe it was all those years playing piano for the nursing home church services.

Right on schedule, my seasonal allergies have decided to show up.  So this morning, I took my first dose of Claritin.  Ah, lovely drugs. 

Because I feel a little bit bad about not writing for a few days, I would really like to do a big funny write-up, but my brain just done 'bout dried up!  But I will see what I can do.

How do you feel about some more archived drawings?  Good?  Fantastic.  Enjoy.

Emergency preparedness.

We come in Peace.

Put THIS on your t-shirt!

Wouldn't you like to be a Pooper too?
I hope you enjoyed my lightly captioned and barely explained drawing archive remnants.  Have a nice day. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Artist's Renderings

There was a time that I was quite prolific with my artwork.  Perhaps I will experience such creativity again, but before I can do that I feel that I should publish some of the works that I did not release previously.


Bow before me!
This drawing was inspired by an online article written by one of my favorite cartoon bloggers, Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half.  Here I am, taking Allie's advice and dominating in the workplace.

Celebrate good times.  Come on!
Every year, we must come up with appropriate holiday greetings in the workplace.  This one did not make the cut as most people could not appreciate we were referencing the landing of Columbus in his ships. 

Finding my style
 Sometimes it is fun to draw like a child.  Except when you are not trying to draw like a child.  Then it is worrisome.

Happy Valentine's Day
 Someone brought a whole bag of Lindor truffles into work and it was very difficult to avoid.  I decided to make it my creative muse for a potential greeting card pitch.  I am pretty sure it didn't work largely due to my awful choice of background color.  Was I thinking that it looked like grass?  Who knows?

Don't try this at home.
This must have been drawn around the time of the potluck.  Sometimes, when I feel nice, I will make a dessert called "Death By Chocolate."  It really is decadent, but I never have leftovers so people must rationalize their consumption pretty strongly.

So there are more pictures to come in the future, but I thought that I would leave you with these for now.  I don't want to overload your brains with my artistic genius.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

If I only had the [insert skill here].

There are many things in life that I wish that I had the talent, willpower or memory to do. 

This may come as a surprise, but I am not that coordinated.  In fact, I think that there may have been some mention of this in my preschool screening evaluation.  Honestly, I am not sure why my parents did not embark on a regimen of balance and motor skill improvement exercises while I was still under the age of five.

Actually, they did put me in tumbling classes.  Oh, and my dad actually coached me in little kid soccer.  They may have even let me take ballet lessons.  As it turns out, the problem may be more mental than physical. 

If I recall correctly, the problem with tumbling was that I lacked the confidence to hurl myself head first at the mat to perform a cartwheel. 

The problem with soccer was that while I understood the basic rules, I was irritated with the ridiculous obsession with avoiding hand/arm contact with the ball.  Seriously, why not just tie our hands behind our backs?

Ballet was a bit simpler than the rest - they gave me a blue skirt.  I had grown up using my mom's old dance costumes as Halloween costumes and for general dress up.  These were no simple costumes - they were legitimate tutus.  I had big dreams of leaping across stages in pointy toe shoes and flouncy tutus. 

The reality for me was far less glamorous.  We wore our own leotards and only got floppy flat ballet shoes.  But the worst indignity?  They gave us gauzy skirts to wear over our leotards.  These skirts came in two colors:  pink and blue.  We were not given our choice of color.  Can you guess what Megan was given?  Blue.  The color of boy things.  It did not sit well with me.  My friends and I quit ballet shortly after this, but my skirt received a second life as a prop for dressing up my youngest brother.

Moving on from childhood memories, I find that I am severely lacking when it comes to creativity in home decorating.  Oh, I have pictures on the wall and my furniture matches.  Unfortunately, when it comes to paint and accessories, I have no idea what I am doing. 

To illustrate this, let me share that although I have lived in my house for almost seven years, the walls are all still white.  Every time I think about choosing color and coordinating the active painting portion of things, I balk.  It's so much easier to just let it be.  I rationalize that if and when I do ever prepare to sell my house, I will most certainly paint.  My additional rationalization is that this way I can avoid any potential damage that may occur if I live with the new paint color.  As I have already stated, I am not coordinated.  My walls bear witness to the times that I have run into them with pieces of furniture, luggage or shoes. 

For my final example, I will bring up knitting.  Yes, I can do a basic knit stitch which in turn leads to the only item I can create with said stitch:  a scarf.  I would love to know how to purl and then to create other items such as hats, mittens, sweaters, slippers, etc.  Actually, I have been shown how to purl and do have access to people with the necessary skills to show me how to move beyond scarfage.  Unfortunately, I lack the memory and talent to remember how to do this when on my own.  It is hard enough for me to remember how to cast on.

I hope that now that I have shared some of my shortcomings with the world that my readers will be kind and considerate of my diminished capacities.  I promise that there are things that I can do well.  Foosball is one.  Typing is another.  My ability to alphabetize is also quite impressive.  Let me know if you need demonstrations of any of these skills.  You know where to find me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Under Pressure: A Conversation

Please do not remind me, I am well aware of the fact that I am posting twice in one day.  It is just that I feel that my last post was a bit inferior.  Of course, feelings are subjective and it could be that I am under the influence of dreary weather combined with complimentary coffee that my friend refers to as "cat piss," but who knows.  I do not really know what cat urine smells like, so I will take her word for it.  This is why I should always stop at Caribou before work.

One thing that I have noticed in several of my favorite blogs is that people really like to write out past conversations.  I am always amazed at their ability to recall phrases, but maybe I am giving them too much credit.  Perhaps they are mere remembering the gist of things more than actual word placement.  With that in mind, I shall now endeavor to do some of the same.

To give you a background (What?  You were expecting immediate dialog?  Please.  You should know me better than that by now.), my brother has been dating a lovely girl named Heidi for almost three years.  They are both in their late 20's (or on the cusp of 30 if you want to round up).  They have been living together for a year.  It is pretty clear that this is a serious relationship and I believe that my brother intends for it to be permanent.  He just doesn't appear aware of how to do so.

Enter my mother.  Like all good mothers, she wants her children to be happy.  She also has needs of her own; specifically, she wants grandchildren.  My brother, the constant procrastinator, also has a penchant for deliberately trying to annoy my mother.  He doesn't need me to tell him that this is playing with fire, but apparently he likes to take the risk.

Anyway, last weekend, my brother came home for the wedding.  Although the topic came up more than once, I believe it was at the wedding reception that the clearest and most direct inquiry was made.  My brother and I were seated with my parents at a table in my aunt's backyard enjoying some food and beverages, when the spirit of weddings took hold of my mother.

Mom:  So Mikey, do you think you and Heidi will get married?

Mikey:  (Silence)

Mom:  Do you ever talk about marriage?

Mikey:  Yeah...

Mom:  (Changing tactics)  So where do you think you'd get married?

Mikey:  Ummmm... probably Vermont?  [Heidi's home state]  Most of her family lives there.

Me:  (Deciding to help out)  Sweet!  I have always wanted to go there!  Just remember, don't make me stay in a tent.  If I am going to be photographed in wedding photos, I do not want to deal with the mess that ensues when I sleep in a tent.  Right?  (Because it's all about me, isn't it?)

Mikey:  (Laughs.  Coughs.  Hopes that the subject will soon be changed.)

Mom:  But really, don't you worry that she will get sick of waiting for you to take action?

Mikey:  (Silence)

(Clearly this was going nowhere, so I again jumped in.)

Me:  Ummm... wait.  Michael, I was just wondering.  If you were to decide to propose or to come up with a plan, would you even tell us?  Or would you prefer to surprise everyone?

Mikey:  Oh yeah, I would surprise you all. 

Mom:  Hmph. 

Please keep in mind that this is just one example of what we do to Mikey when we have him alone.  My dad usually stays silent for the interrogation, but I know he feels the same as us.  It is definitely an eye opener of what guys must go through when they face their families and have not yet proposed to their long term girlfriends.  Or who are currently highly educated and unemployed.  I can only imagine what would happen if he didn't live four hours away.

Charge to Action

If my last entry left some of you on the edge of your seats wondering if I survived my Monday, worry no more.  Here I am.  Barely.

OK, that is an exaggeration.  I am totally here. 

Yesterday I had a bit of a brain explosion due to the fact that I realized that my next two weeks are going to be a bit busier than I had anticipated.  With visitors rolling in from out of town to my epic trek up to Fargo for the Hallinglag where I will be hanging out with a bunch of old Norwegians, it is sure to be exciting. 

The factor which really complicates everything is school.  No, the course work is not overwhelming and I am certain that I will be able to complete it in a satisfactory manner.  It's just that having class twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays really messes with my attempts to spend time at both my parents' house and my own place.  So maybe Lena complicates things a bit as well, but in a good way.

Grrr.  I just spent some time outlining the intricacies of my upcoming schedule before I realized that it was incredibly boring.  Instead, I will keep it brief.  There are going to be a TON of people passing through my parents' house in the next couple of weeks.  From relatives to friends to dogs, it is sure to be a bit chaotic.  But fun, always fun.

I think that I may need to utilize this blog space to ask you readers once again to be my Accountabilibuddies.  This weekend is looking to be a pretty quiet one for me.  The calm before the storm, if you will.  I would really like for the weather to be decent.  Not just because it is nice to have sunshine and not rain, but because I think it is time to use my new bike.  It is sitting in the garage, looking all pretty and awesome, but it really needs to be taken out on a big journey. 

No, not across the state or anything.  Just maybe up to Lake Harriet.  Or Lake Calhoun.  I am always a bit torn about it because it means that my dog cannot accompany me.  I did find some really funny dog trailer carriers at the bike shop, but I struggle with the purpose of such a device.  Essentially it is like one of those kid carrier trailers, but smaller. 

While it could be useful for someone traveling with their dog, I cannot see the point of encasing a wildly energetic terrier mix in one for what would surely be a frustrating and frightening ride around the neighborhood.  It certainly wouldn't give her any exercise which in turn really doesn't soothe my concern over the fact that a bikeride excludes her participation.

So I guess that the solution is to do both a walk and a ride.  Take Lena out for a stroll and then go off on my own to give my bike some exercise.  I guess that is a double benefit for me.  I just hope my motivation holds, which brings me back to you, dear readers.  Now that I have told you my intentions, I have more determination to actually follow through for fear of disappointing you.  Right?  Right.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Three Days in One

Have you ever had one of those days that felt like it was actually three days wrapped into one?  If not, I don't know that I would recommend it, but it certainly is a bit surreal.

Yesterday I awoke at a nontraditional Saturday time of 7 a.m. to bring my car to the dealership for its big appointment.  Since I bought the car during a torrential downpour, they recommended that I wait to have my complimentary detailing done.  Also, my license plates and side molding were in, so I now have real plates on the car.  I find that this is usually a good thing.  It just so happens that the letter portion of the plate is the same goofy word that is on my parents' new car:  GUT.  I'm not sure what acronym we will come up with to attach to this strange assortment, but it will probably be awesome.

After dropping off my car, my father picked me up.  We then embarked on a quick round of errands that started with a Target run.  Normally I would not mention this, but we arrived prior to the 8 a.m. opening of the store and were able to witness the gathering of the eager early morning Target shoppers.  It was an interesting anthropological experience.

Our other errands were less interesting - picking up coffee for my mom and myself to really get the day started.  After returning home, we started in on the major cleaning project.  Once everyone else was up, we took a family trip to the Fulton Street Farmers Market.  It's a small affair in south Minneapolis, but it was really fun.  We picked up some awesome baked goods, flowers and I found a fun food truck that I have vowed to try at some point this summer.

My mother left us at this point to have her hair done, so my dad, brother and I returned home to continue the good fight against dust and dog hair in the house.  I have to say that we were quite successful.  Finally, the dealership called so Mikey and I went to retrieve my car.  My mom still wasn't home when we returned, but we kept cleaning anyway.  Eventually I had to start cleaning myself because the female contingent of the bridal party was coming over in the afternoon to prepare themselves for the festivities.

Sure enough, no sooner had we all finished our self-prettying process than the girls showed up with their SUV full of wedding excitement.  They were quite efficient in their preparations; within an hour they were off to the park to start group photos.

From that point on, things start to blur.  As family members of the bride, we were included in family photos, so we spent much of our afternoon in the park as well.  And those heels I was so excited about?  I wore them.  Let me just say that they would have worked out great if all I needed to wear them for was the wedding and maybe about an hour or so of walking for pictures.  Sadly, it was more like 3 hours of walking and pictures.  Or more.

After the wedding ceremony, my mother and I jetted back to the house not only to release the hounds for a bathroom break but to switch up my shoes before the reception.  Again, the reception was lovely (as was the ceremony) in my aunt's beautiful backyard in scenic Belle Plaine, MN.  There were tacos, a chocolate fountain, music, candles, twinkle lights and coolers full of lovely beverages.  We stayed until the mosquitoes showed up in force.

Weddings are always nice, but they're always better when it is for a couple that you know well and who are clearly crazy about each other.  This is my aunt's second marriage, but it was to her high school sweetheart.  He has been so good for her and her four kids, and I am so happy that they have finally made it "legal."  Talk about having to wait a long time to be with the right person.

By the time we arrived home last night, it was after 11 and we were all exhausted.  My brother returns home this afternoon, but he will be back with his girlfriend this week as they are going away for her brother's wedding and we are watching her dog.  This afternoon my mom and I are hosting a baby shower, and I am pretty sure that I will soon be frantically running around to prepare for that event as well.  Tonight I plan to finish up my homework for tomorrow and get to bed at a very decent hour.

All in all, the weekend has gone quickly, but I still feel like the amount of activity made it seem like it took place over several days.  The true test will come tomorrow when I return to work and sit in class for three hours.  If I survive, you will surely hear about it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Good news and TMI

Oh, Minnesota, you fickle girl.  One day you decide to roast your inhabitants and the next day you stick them back in the fridge.  While I hardly know why you seem determined to treat us like leftover pizza, I only ask that your next step is not to give us a quick reheat in the microwave.  Thank you.

Good news, people.  My brother is coming home for a visit and arrives TODAY!  My mother craftily made him a dentist appointment this afternoon so that he would feel motivated to get himself on the road from Madison before mid-afternoon and this means that he will be at the house when Lena and I arrive tonight.  He is not coming alone either - Kady the Pooper Dog is coming as well.  Sadly, Kady's mama, my brother's lovely ladyfriend Heidi cannot come, but we will miss her.  Not just Kady.

More good news:  my ant problem seems to be abating.  Not only that, but a wee spider seems to have taken advantage of the ant-zone and has set up shop.  Normally I might find this disturbing, but as long as it doesn't turn into a wee spider infestation, I'm cool with it. 

If you can believe it, I have even more good news.  OK, so this is only quasi-good news as there really isn't a reason to celebrate or anything, but still.  While casually browsing a nonprofit job board the other day, I happened upon a job posting at a local law library, so I checked it out.  As luck would have it, the position is at a level for which I could possibly qualify, AND it just so happens that I know someone who already works there.  How is THAT for networking?  To think that just recently I had been privately chastising myself for not getting "out there" in the world of professional associations and that the benefit of knowing the right people would forever elude me.

To be fair, I have only just applied for the job.  In fact, I probably won't have any kind of response for a good week or so.  But I did contact my peep over at the library and she encouraged me to go for it and even volunteered to be one of my references.  So even if I don't end up getting the job, at least I am now getting an opportunity to make a pretty good shot at it (and hopefully get through an interview process). 

This is also funny because I had just been thinking to myself that unless some really good postings came up there was a strong chance that I would not fulfill my goal of finding a new job by the end of summer.  Again, I'm not going to get ahead of myself to the point of getting all nostalgic about my tenure at my current company.  True, there have been good times.  In fact, there have been AWESOME times at this place.  My reasons for leaving are not that this has been a bad place to spend the last decade; I am ready for a new challenge.  It is a process that started when I made the decision to go to grad school two years ago.  It is just a little hard to imagine that my decision is really going to affect my life in such a profound way.

Enough of that sentimental rambling crap.  Does anyone have any fun plans for the summer?  Seriously, although my summer is somewhat busy, it is thus far completely without lake access.  I believe I have whined about this in previous entries, but this is because my usual cabin funtime outlet is either being cancelled (at worst) or delayed (at best) due to the impending birth of my friend's first child.  There have been hints that we could perhaps attempt a late summer/early fall voyage, but the end of July is really the best lake time.  We certainly could hang out and relax at the cabin any time, but naked swim day may be off the agenda.  That's right, you heard me and that's ALL I'm going to say about it.

Nice, right?  Well, if you know me in person, you probably already know about the tradition.  As much as I would like to say that what happens in Ely stays in Ely, the four of us have told far too many outsiders to be modest about it any more.  I will only say that the details cannot be divulged in writing.  It's that sacred.

So then.  Well.  I hope you all have a lovely day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mighty Thor

Good news folks:  today the temperature is supposed to be a bit more "normal."  Allergies seem to be coming into full bloom for many, which means that mine cannot be far off.  For now, I'm good and avoiding the need to medicate, but it can always change quickly.

Yesterday was not terribly exciting for many reasons.  That is, until Thor decided to kick it up a notch.  For the new readers, Thor is my parents' two year old Jack Russell Terrier.  He is about the sweetest little guy you could ever meet and goes by many nicknames:  T-Hor, Tius von Bius, Spicy T, T-Bag, T-Money Nice, Buddy Munch etc.  You get the picture. 

By nature, Thor is a lover and not a fighter, although he does give off a pretty scary "fierce purr" when you try to disturb him in the evening when he is tired.  However, he does have one strange neurotic fixation with flowing water, especially when it is in his backyard.  This typically manifests itself when my mom is using the garden hose.  He will BITE at the water as it flows from the nozzle, usually resulting in one drenched dog and mildly amused humans. 

I don't think that this is completely unusual for a dog as I have heard others tell similar stories.  He has also been known to pursue sprinkler streams, but usually our in ground system goes off too early in the morning for him to do this. 

With all of the hot weather, my mother has become concerned that the grass is getting dry.  For this reason, she asked my father to turn on the sprinklers yesterday evening to supplement the normally scheduled run.  He complied with her request and the watering began.

It didn't take long for us to realize that this could pose a problem for the canine contingency of the household as it was still daylight and these dogs perform their bathroom functions in the yard at this time.  Like fools, we reasoned that they would be fine and let them out.  Indeed, Pippi and Lena simply went out and did their business, carefully avoiding the spraying water from the three active sprinkler heads.  Thor did not.

Rather than take care of business, Thor began to slowly circle the yard, clearly assessing the situation.  Then he attacked.  Seriously, he ATTACKED.  For the next ten minutes, Thor was a sprinkler hunting machine and was entirely soaked.  After the first two minutes, I still thought it was funny.  Then I decided to get him inside to dry off and realized that there was a problem.  All of the usual temptations (treats, food, visitors) were not enough to break his focus. 

Before long, both of my parents joined me in the yard.  My mom brought a towel to receive the wet and now shivering dog, but he was not interested.  Finally, I bit the bullet and went out into the cold and muddy fray.  Unfortunately, when I approached Thor at the first sprinkler head, he expertly dodged my advance and retreated to one of the other spray sources.  This game went back and forth until my mother joined us.  She stood by the "favorite" sprinkler while I blocked him from the other two.

Meanwhile, my father went after the problem at the source:  he shut off the sprinkler system.  Just before the water spray ceased, Thor finally acquiesed to reality and accepted his fate by slowly approaching me.  I scooped him up and promptly handed the soaking pooch off to my mom and her towels.  It turned out to be a two towel situation and the poor boy was shivering for quite a while.

Eventually he dried off and we thought that was the end of it.  We turned the sprinklers back on and kept the dogs inside.  Unfortunately we had forgotten that in his madcap psychotic sprinkler pursuit, Thor swallowed a LOT of water.  Sure enough, for the next hour, Thor kept signalling that he needed to go out.  We assumed he wanted to resume his antics and ignored it.  Until he proceeded to urinate about a gallon of pee all over the tiled back entry area.  Poor guy.

If only that was the conclusion.  Oh no.  After the entire household had retired to bed, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard the creak of footsteps in the hallway.  As I was nearly asleep, I ignored it. 

This morning I was informed of the reason for the disturbance.  I am not certain if it was his stomach or nervous system (the little dude always gets carsick), but whatever the cause, he vomited shortly after bedtime.  As my father had the dogs in bed with him, he was responsible for the aftermath and cleaning. 

The moral of this story is that while watching the dog try to kill a shooting stream of water can be wildly entertaining, it is likely not worth the messy fluid dispersal that follows.  I am certain that my veterinarian brother would have some harsh words for us on the subject and he may relay it to us upon his arrival this weekend.  Maybe we just won't tell him.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One, two, buckle my.... road?

Here we are on Day 2 of record breaking high temperatures for June in MN.  Fortunately, I am blessed to work, drive and live in environments that are air conditioned.  God bless modern technology - I really don't think I could have survived in a time without it.

I have to say that one of the big disappointments that come with working all day and attending school at night is that there is not much room for interesting or entertaining stories to share.  At least for me personally.

Generally speaking, I do have an interesting story or fact to tell you.  Yesterday after work, after picking up my requisite five shot iced espresso, I took off on a major freeway to make the trek from work to school.  It isn't really too harrowing of a journey, but any time one attempts to drive through a major metropolitan downtown area during summer rush hour, there is always the possibility for frustration.

Happily, for traffic going in my direction last night, things were normal, A-OK, totally cool.  Typically I do not pay much mind to the traffic going in the opposite direction, probably because it is usually moving along at a reasonable pace and therefore does not attract special attention.  However, yesterday afternoon it was shockingly different.

As I approached the north side of Minneapolis, a scene closely resembling a tightly packed parking lot arose before me.  Readers, it was BAD.  Given the sweltering heat and that it was still only 4:30 p.m., it looked like utter misery.  I could not tell what was causing the backup, but it was extensive.  I did happen to notice a group of city work trucks located at the start of the stoppage, but it was unclear what they were doing.  As there were no emergency vehicles on the scene, I surmised that it was not an accident, but because my direction of the freeway was moving quickly, I could not stop to examine.

The only thing I did notice was that there seemed to be some odd sections of ripped up and rocky pavement as I drove along.  This is a freeway that I take every week to class, and I had not noticed it before, nor were there any signs indicating that road construction was taking place in the area.

It was not until I arrived home last night to watch part of the nightly local news that I learned what had really happened.  Are you ready?  Due to the extremely high temperatures, the roads were literally buckling beneath traffic.  That's right.  Pavement hates high temperatures even more than I do.  Our roads are used to the havoc that snow, ice, salt and gravel wreak during our bleak and freezing months, but submit them to 97 degrees in June and they say NO WAY! 

Today is supposed to be more of the same, but I do not have school so I will not be back to reassess the conditions of Interstate 94 in northern Minneapolis.  Hopefully no more roads will be buckling on my usual routes, but I wouldn't blame them if they did.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How to avoid melting

Well, it is Monday.  To get my griping and complaining out of the way quickly, I just want to say that it doesn't make a Monday any easier to hear that we are in an excessive heat advisory until Wednesday.  Gross.  For all you people who complained about the "long winter," if you come near me and say anything about preferring this kind of hellish madness, I will not spare you my fury.

Moving on... the only way to start off a Monday such as this is with a good strong dose of espresso.  My new favorite drink comes courtesy of one of my favorite Caribou baristas, Amy.  Her creativity has rendered a lovely drink that not only satisfies my caffeine/coffee cravings (four shots of espresso), but it is refreshing (iced) and tasty (white chocolate).  Mmmm....

I would now like to tell you about my Sunday adventure.  As my mother and I are hosting a baby shower next weekend, I decided it was high time to pick up our gift.  For most other people I would not have considered spending as much money as I did yesterday, but this particular friend and I go back to the cradle ourselves, so I consider it well worth the expense. 

Here is the catch:  she is registered at Babies R Us.  (Yes, I realize that the "R" is actually supposed to be backwards.  If you know how to create this effect, please, by all means, share with the group.)  I have only ventured into this baby-themed vortex once before and barely emerged alive.  This time I was not so lucky.

So my mission was to pick up the ever-popular and greatly desired "Pack 'N Play."  Essentially, this is a collapsible playpen/bassinet/changing table/nuclear warhead/multipurpose contraption.  I can certainly see the utility.  It should hardly be surprising that this object is heavy and the box to hold it is reasonably large.  Hence, I utilized a shopping cart.  The fact that this store offers grocery-store sized shopping carts should also tell you something about the range of items to be found within.

It should have been a simple mission.  Pick up the playpen and the matching sheets and get OUT.  But those crafty store designers had other plans.  Like evil geniuses, they placed the clothing section in the middle of the store and all other items on the outer walls.  This means that to get to the check-out lines, one must pass through the forest of sale priced and totally adorable baby and kid wear. 

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with this concept.  I have already purchased a few outfits for the soon-to-be-born baby girl who shall frolic in the newly purchased Pack 'N Play.  But once I started "just looking" at different things, it soon snowballed nearly out of control.  I was literally contemplating buying the unborn child a peace sign purse.  Yes, a PURSE.  What in the world an infant would need with a cute handbag is beyond me.  Don't worry, I ultimately resisted the purse.  Of couse, if it had been in my size...

So when I arrived home with my loot, my mother and I pulled out all of our baby purchases to compare our additions to the much anticipated baby girl's wardrobe.  It is a bit insane.  It is only going to get worse once she arrives, I assure you.  Pair this with the possibility that my mother may be providing child care for her when Mommy goes back to work AND the fact that my mother and her charge will be in close proximity to two major shopping centers and you can start to get a picture of what will happen. 

After leaving with whatever shred of dignity I could muster and without spending my entire life savings, I remembered my foray into baby fashion designing.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall these episodes, but if not, check out this and this.

Now that it is summer, I felt that I should break out the creative part of my brain and make a few new designs.  Again, if anyone has the crafting urge and wants to turn these drawings into reality, please do so.  Just be sure to credit me for your inspiration. 

Nothing says "summer" like rhubarb.  Mmmmm...

Emblazoning everything with peace symbols is too easy.  It's time for an all-out "Hippie Baby."

Last but not least, S'more Baby.  You have to teach them young about proper nutrition.  How else will they survive in the wilderness?
 I hope these pictures inspire you to look forward to the days of summer when you can be outside without choking on the air around you.  Have a happy day and thank God for air conditioning!!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Off on a Caribou Dash

I have given some serious thought to the possibility of writing an entry for every day this month.  It could be possible, except that I am not sure how I will do it while at the Hallinglag at month end.  Perhaps the high class Fargo motel we are staying in has wi-fi?  We shall see.

Today's entry should be a little more brief as I am hoping to get over to Caribou to visit my mom before her shift ends in 45 minutes.

Last night's covert operation went well.  It was nice to sit with people in a casual setting and just enjoy being outside.  It is always so hard to find free time in summer for impromptu grilling parties, that when it works, it is awesome.  Plus, my friend brought over some really yummy cucumber sandwiches and my mother made my great-aunt's recipe for rhubarb dessert.  Normally I am not a cucumber fan, by the way, but these sandwiches were addictive!

I am looking forward to a quiet and lazy day today, with the exception of the readings I have to do for tomorrow's class.  It is going to be a hard adjustment to having a Monday night class as it is not something I have ever experienced before.  My grad school traditionally does not schedule Monday night courses during the regular school year as they like to reserve the evening for department-wide lectures, meetings and gatherings.  As I don't really like to make an extra post-work trip to St. Paul, I have never attended.

There is just something about Mondays that make it seem so unnatural to add in yet another obligation.  Here's hoping that it goes well.  There is always the positive angle to take that having Monday and Wednesday classes get the dirty work over early in the week thus allowing me to enjoy my weekend more fully.  Right?

Next weekend is going to be a bit of a doozy, I think.  I am hoping to get my new car detailing and body work done on Saturday morning.  I must then return home to help my mother prepare for a baby shower we are hosting on Sunday.  Why the early prep work?  My mother's stepsister is getting remarried next Saturday night and my parents' house is going to be the central dressing/prep space for the ladies of the group.  Oh, and my mom and I are in charge of manning the chocolate fountain out at their reception later in the evening.  It really should be fun, especially since my brother is coming home for the occasion.

I must now dash to ready myself for the quick Caribou run.  I really really REALLY feel the need for an iced espresso drink this morning.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Disconnected Weekend Morning Musings

Here I am on a Saturday morning!  Barely morning I guess as it is about 25 minutes until high noon, but I will grasp at it while I can.  I am writing from the comfort of my own couch which is a bit of a novelty these days.  Here is the bonus info for today - my lovely dog let me sleep in until 10 a.m.!  I should clarify that we did awaken a few times prior to 10, but every time she just laid back down and snoozed some more.  It was heavenly.

Lena is now waiting patiently for me to finish up my writing so that we can go for a walk.  The dishwasher is running and I am also doing laundry.  Both of these things may seem simple, but for someone who is barely around enough to bring the the mail on a regular basis, it is very impressive.

My cross-stitch project is also sitting in front of me and I am pleased to say that it is coming along nicely.  Although there will be at least one flaw in it due to the fact that the original that I am using as a template contains a few flaws made by my aunt.  Fortunately, I was able to spot most of these, but one slipped past me unnoticed until it was too late.  Oh well, the beauty is in the flaws, right?

One of the great things about spending time at home is that I get to pull back from reality for a little bit.  I do not have cable TV and the digital converter box creates more problems than I am willing to address, so the only thing I use my television for is watching DVD's.  Now that my computer connection is tied to a mobile hotspot device, I am no longer able or willing to watch streaming video online either.  In fact, I find that I am only on the internet for limited periods of time if at all.

I just wasted about 10 minutes trying to import a photograph that I took of Lena watching me type as she patiently waits for her walk.  Due to some sort of issue with jpg files, I was unable to import the photos.  Go figure.  Someday it will all make sense to me, I'm sure.

There is something I feel that I should share.  Yesterday, I took Lena out for an evening stroll despite the 90 degree temperature with high humidity levels.  It was pretty gross, but a girl's gotta walk, right?  Anyway, along the walk I made some very interesting and slightly chilling discoveries.

No, it was not the kind of discoveries that I make when walking during the winter when I realize that none of my neighbors want to take responsibility for their dog's poopies.

It was that there seem to be a LOT of ants living in this neck of the woods.  Ant hills EVERYWHERE along the sidewalks.  HUGE ants crawling across walkways.  There was one section in the opposite end of my neighborhood where the edge of the sidewalk was literally SWARMING with ants.  It was very creepy.

This discovery has led me to ponder my own ant situation.  If we are experiencing an increase in ant population in the neighborhood as a whole, it seems possible that the number of ants I have experienced may somehow be related.  Sure, I realize that a few ants here and there are to be expected, especially when one leaves uneaten dog food in a dish for a day or two.  But if you had seen the number of ants that came out to my bait traps in the past couple of days, you would have been astounded as well.

I am happy to report that it seems that the bait traps are having an effect.  For the first day or so, there were tons of visitors, but the numbers have slowly tapered off.  I hope that this is due to the fact that the scavengers were returning to their homes with the poison to share with their housemates.  Normally I would not delight in a mass poisoning, but in this case, I cannot cohabit.

Well, it appears that the hour is now noon.  I should probably wrap this up and get my poochie out for a while.  As a concluding note, I just realized that I have written an entry every day so far this month.  This is not a feat I intend to continue, but it is interesting.  To me, at least.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Flashes of lightening and covert operations

Of all the weird ways to start a Friday... thunder and lightening?  Not to mention that fact that when I awoke this morning I had a very hard time remembering what day it was.  This can probably be easily explained by the fact that I have spent nearly every single Friday morning this year at my parents' house.  Except for today.  Yes, today I arose for the day chez moi. 

For an update on my ant situation (if you care):  I am working on it.  It is a bit tricky to place bait traps when one has a very curious dog, but she is pretty obedient when I am watching and I have not left her unattended near the apparent ant metropolis.  My guess is that there may be a crack in the foundation or an opening in the wall right by the entrance from my living room to the kitchen because they are coming out in droves for the bait.  Yuck.  What is the next step?  Should I go to Lowe's and check out the Raid sprays?  I think it may be time to go heavy duty.  Don't worry, I've done this before with much more dangerous critters.

Yet another strange occurrence this morning was the fact that my dog did not want her food.  She was not behaving unusually in any other way, so I can only assume that the strange weather patterns may have affected her appetite.  Either that or she is making a subtle statement that she prefers the food that my mom has over what I have.  This is odd because I intentionally bought the same food as my mom serves her dogs, so who knows.  She was more than willing to eat the treats that I give her for going willingly into her kennel before I left, so I know that she won't starve, but we'll have to see how she does with her evening meal.

Aside from animal and insect concerns, my main mental preoccupation of late has been over my future career.  Professionally, I am a bit of a crossroads.  I am more than emotionally and mentally ready to move on to a new venture, but unfortunately I will not be in full possession of the degree that will allow me to really do this until December.  Initially, this fact was OK with me.  I was willing to wait out the time patiently in my current position and start the new job pursuit when I had the full qualifications in hand.

Unfortunately, I have started to grow impatient.  I want a challenge.  Knowing that I only have three more courses to complete until I have my Master's Degree has made me extremely eager to move into the field of libraries, archives and other such places.  Ultimately, my first preference would be to remain in Minnesota, specifically in the Twin Cities metro, thus allowing me to remain in my house and near my family.

Although I am concentrating my search in this area, I have not totally ruled out other locations.  Current economic conditions combined with the relatively high level of competition for the type of job I want in this area make the possibility that I may need to relocate something that I cannot ignore.

So the inevitable consideration is:  where should I live?

Up to now, I have really only considered places that are in the northern part of the country.  This is mainly based on my (completely rational) dislike for the kind of poisonous insects and other creatures that live in warmer climates.  However, the news that Brown Recluse Spiders may soon be extending their habitat into MN has me very concerned.  I had not previously considered Canada to be an option, but I am seriously rethinking this.

I guess you could say that I am now open to suggestion.  If anyone has any great ideas, please let me know.  I am fortunate enough to have friends and connections in other areas of the U.S. such as Portland (OR), Anchorage and Chicago.  There are also the "close to home" options in Madison (WI) and even South Dakota.  Then again, there are also the overseas options.  How cool would it be to work for the British Museum?  Not that there is much chance of this happening, but it would be dreamy.

Hopefully I will not have as much trouble remembering where I am and what day it is tomorrow when I awaken.  Hopefully Lena will be kind and allow me some extra sleep as well.  Tomorrow night I have a grill-out event to attend that is actually a covert matchmaking operation to introduce a couple of lovely young people.  Even if this is not a successful endeavor, at least I will get some good food and company out of it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stylish Shoes and Foxy Conclusions

In case anyone has been waiting anxiously to find an update on the Edina coyote situation, I have some news.  It is actually cause for relief, which is good, but I am not quite ready to let my guard down totally on the subject.

This morning I was having my breakfast in my parents' kitchen by myself.  My mother had already left for work and my father was upstairs getting dressed.  The thug posse was happily occupied with Dingos in the living room.

All of a sudden, I heard my father shouting my name.  When one's parents start to have physical issues, this sort of shouting can be cause for alarm.  My dad recently had knee surgery, and although his recovery has been just peachy, you never know what can happen. 

After shouting my name, my dad yelled for me to come up there "right away."  Shoot.  I stopped eating and dashed up the stairs to his room to discover him standing in his closet, halfway dressed and looking out the window towards our neighbor's yard.  (Yes, their closet has windows.  Two of them.  Posh, right?)

I peered out the window and squinted (I was not yet wearing my glasses) towards the tree my father indicated.  Sure enough, a small reddish creature emerged into the yard:  clearly a FOX.  But that's not all.  My father instructed me to keep watching, and lo and behold a second fox came out and the two trotted off together. 

To clarify, as the Animal Control Officer explained to my mother, coyotes kill foxes.  If there was indeed a coyote in our neighborhood, there would not be any foxes out parading around like pigeons in an Italian piazza.  Therefore, my father has now surmised that there may be a den of foxes living in our neighborhood. 

This is not nearly as distressing to me for many reasons.  First, foxes are not known to be predators of Jack Russell Terriers and Rat Terrier/Papillon mixes.  (Yay!)  Second, foxes are kind of cute.  Third, it sort of reminds me of the Disney version of Robin Hood.  You know, with the foxes playing Robin Hood and Maid Marian?  The bear who plays Little John and sings the "Oodelally" song?  That takes me back.  My good friend Kellee used to sing it all the time in her lovely and unique tenor voice.  Ah, memories.

So now that I am on a stream of consciousness type of rant, I have realized that one of my current favorite songs also features foxes.  At least in name.  "Helplessness Blues" by Fleet Foxes has been in heavy circulation for me for a few months now.  My favorite thing about it is the first stanza (verse).  I am not going to quote or even paraphrase it here, so if you are really curious, check it out.  It is dreamy.

To bring it all back down to earth, my first Zappos.com purchase arrived today!  I have casually perused this site for a long time, but never really had cause to order anything.  However, with the number of formal occasions on the docket for me this summer, I decided to take some action and get some "fun" formal shoes. 

Normally I stick to black heels, mainly because most of what I wear for formal events is black.  I toyed with the idea of getting a pair of really awesome sky-high patent leather red heels, but a friend of mine kindly reminded me that that might be a bit too much for me.  Maybe if I kicked my normal look up a notch and started wearing some more dramatic makeup and hairstyles and went for some less conservative hem and necklines on my clothing.  But these red shoes were borderline hooker-shoes, complete with corset-type lacing up the back.  I think my friend was right to push me in another direction.  Baby steps, people.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spicy Summer School Time!

OMG, you guys.  I wrote 20 blog entries last month!  Who would have guessed that I would be so prolific in the month where I had to finish two major papers and presentations, got a new car and bike, watched the dogs, hunted coyotes and went bowling?  Not that I'm bragging because I realize that quality is generally better than quantity and I am not sure I can attest to the meaningfulness of my recent musings.

To state the obvious, it is June.  Well, I hope it is obvious.  I suppose if you are one of those people who never looks at a calendar, does not own a watch and sits home all day watching talk shows, you may not note the passing of time. 

For me it is impossible not to notice that a new month has arrived.  There is the fact that I work in an environment that is time and date important, meaning that I have constant reminders all around me to make sure I do not forget the time, date or planet in which I reside.

The other big ticket item on the agenda for today is that tonight is my first night of summer school.  From now until July 20 I will have class on Mondays and Wednesdays in the glorious and adrenaline-filled field of government documents.  I am only partially kidding when I call it glorious.  This is due to the fact that I acknowledge that talking and learning about the millions of documents produced by the government and various agencies can seem overwhelming and perhaps a trifle dry.

Perhaps it is my Political Science minor coming back into play, but I really like learning about government functions.  Where some people are completely turned off by bureaucracy, I find it fascinating.  This is the real and legitimate documentation of what really happens in the governing of our country, and I have always been a fan of seeking out the real source as opposed to taking the word of the news media which always tends to sensationalize. 

I will now step off of my soapbox and apologize for going off on my little patriotic nerd tangent. 

You cannot see it, but I just deleted several paragraphs worth of my explaining the boring details of how my plans to spend at least a few weekends at my house this summer are being actively derailed.  At first I thought it might be entertaining or even a tiny bit interesting, but after reading it again I realized that it was not.  As you all know I am nothing if not cognizant of your entertainment needs, so I trust that you will appreciate my omission. 

In closing, I give you a little fun fact.  If you are looking for a way to jazz up your boring microwaved personal-size low calorie pizza, sriracha sauce is an excellent resource.  In fact, sriracha has many more uses than just pizza.  Like macaroni and cheese.  Or popcorn.  Just be careful not to let your love for this condiment drive you to think that you are a spicy food ninja master and purchase a jar of Mrs. Renfro's Habanero Salsa.  Oh, I finished it off (eventually), but I paid dearly for it.  Stick with what works.  Know your limits.  That is all.