Monday, May 30

memorial day 2005

The day started off crappy enough--cold and rainy. We had some running around to do this morning--Home Depot to get some mulch and other things. Then we had to go buy some "product" for our respective vehicles (Brian's motorcycle and my car--we're actually going to try to keep both of these clean) at Advance Auto parts. Finally, we had to stop at Giant Eagle for some cough medicine for Lizzy. She seems to have acquired a mild case of kennel cough during our vacation. After that, we came home and had lunch.

The afternoon was a blur. It mostly involved cleaning various items (such as clothes, kitchen, and grill), napping, and riding motorcycles.

Luckily the weather cooperated this evening and not only were we able to have a cookout, we were also able to eat outside. What a treat! And speaking of treats, I tried a new method of grilling this evening called plank cooking. Basically, you soak a plank of wood (of which we have no shortage of around here) in some water, char it on the grill for a bit, and then cook your food on it over indirect heat. It was so good. We had oak-planked pork tenderloin with potatoes and some grilled corn on the cob. I'll definitely be trying that method of cooking again.

After supper, we spent the rest of the evening doing yard work (gardening included). We're hoping to get (mostly) caught up with that by the end of the week. There's always yard work to do if you're looking for it, but at least the bulk should get done by the weekend. The weather is supposed to be pretty nice all week and this week is the official kick-off of summer, so what better time to get the yard in shape?

Now, it's time to relax before returning to the old grind tomorrow.

Sunday, May 29

birthday week 2005

We don't just celebrate birthdays for one day per year around here--usually they're drawn out for at least a week...

Today we went to my parent's for the annual "birthday dinner". The dinner was for both my brother and me. His birthday is on May 18, so we always have the "birthday dinner" at some point between the two birthdays (mine's on June 5). Usually we end up doing this over Memorial Day weekend.

Today, we pretty much had a Thanksgiving feast--turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, etc. Everything was quite delicious. Oh, and my grandmother made a lemon meringue pie for dessert. Yum!

I got some cool gifts, too. I got a whole bunch of stamping supplies, some clothes, and a book about how dogs think (that should be interesting). All in all a good day. Except the getting older thing.

Saturday, May 28

scion tc

The loan check for my car arrived in the mail yesterday, so we set out to buy a new car. We went to Laurel Scion (which is at Laurel Toyota), grabbed a salesmen and quickly agreed on a price. The price on the Scions are not negotiable, so that part was easy. And, they gave us exactly what we wanted for our trade-in, so that didn't present a problem either. However, we were at the dealership for 3 1/2 hours! This leads me to believe that car salesmen are sadists--since they were not able to torture us with a price, they tortured us by making us waste our entire afternoon at the dealership.

I don't know what took so freaking long. I know it was a while until they inspected my RAV4. And then it was another long while until they cleaned the car, and then another 30 minutes were spent gassing up the vehicle. At this point, they realized that the car didn't have a stereo in it, so there goes another 30 minutes. I guess it all adds up. Brian and Jacob were getting antsy, but I guess that's because they weren't getting anything whereas I was getting new wheels.

The salesman must've realized that we were getting pissed by this point because he had them put in a 6-cd changer instead of the single cd player that they were supposed to install. Nice. I guess this is why this was my 3rd vehicle purchase in a row from Laurel.

Anyway, the car is great--it's loaded with every feature you could possibly want except 4 wheel drive and leather seats. Of course, there aren't any sports coupes with 4 wheel drive, but unfortunately leather seats are not an option for this car, so I guess I'll be stuck with dog hair all over the seats yet again.

Here is a good picture of the car. And here is a picture of Jacob demonstrating the proper usage of a sunroof.

This car certainly isn't practical for family use, but at least I got my mid-life crisis over with early.

playhouse picture

Here is a picture of the finished product.

deadwood

The season finale of Deadwood was last night. It's a show that takes place during the gold rush in the old west. Not normally my kind of show, but I really like it--it's probably because of all of the cussing. And sometimes they do it in such a unique manner that you really have to be paying attention. I like that. Unfortunately, I can't print any of the gems here because this is a family blog, but it's definitely a show worth checking out. And, Al Swearingen is my favorite character since Tony Soprano.

I did learn one thing last night. In the days before television, apparently people sat in their living rooms--just as we do now--and stared at the drapes instead of the TV. Interesting.

Normally I am sad when the season ends for one of my beloved HBO shows, but another favorite, Six Feet Under, is starting up in a week along with Entourage and a new one called The Comeback (starring Lisa Kudrow). So, it looks like I'll have something good to watch all summer. Thank you, HBO.

Friday, May 27

rehoboth beach, delaware

We took a vacation this past week (left on Sunday and came home Thursday) and went to Rehoboth Beach. The weather was crappy, but like Jake said, "Going to the beach is fun even when it is cold." Truer words have never been spoken. I like the beach, but don't like swimming in the ocean (or pools for that matter) and Brian doesn't even like the beach, so I guess the weather is irrelevant when we go there. Jake had a blast playing in the ankle-deep water (that's about the deepest you could go without having to worry about hypothermia). It was calling for rain all week, but it held off until Wednesday, thankfully.

This was our first time to Rehoboth. We stayed at a place called the Brighton Suites Hotel. It was pretty nice. I really like staying in suites. Having an extra room (and an extra TV) is ideal whenever you have a rugrat running around.

I think we're all caught up on our sleep (two naps a day definitely helps that cause). I don't understand how I go to bed early and get up early when I'm on vacation, yet there's no way I can do that when I have to go to work. Maybe it's because there isn't anything to do in the hotel late at night but sleep.

Besides the weather, the other bummer was that Brian lost his keys in the Atlantic Ocean. That really sucks, but I guess things could always be worse--at least I had my set of keys with us.

They have a bunch of shopping outlets down here. I'm not normally a shopper (that is, I don't physically like going shopping, but I do like to buy stuff on the internet), but I thought it would be fun to check them out. We bought a bunch of school clothes for Jacob and some other odds and ends, so it worked out pretty well.

We also went to a local brewpub and eatery, Dogfish Head twice (it was that good). They not only make beer there (which was pretty darned good according to Brian), but spirits as well. I had some of their vodka and it was so good that I couldn't finish my second drink because I spilled it all over the table. Highly recommended.

Anyway, that's our vacation for this year. Now it's time to start planning for next year...

Hopefully, you can view the pictures here.

Thursday, May 26

the thomas berryman number

This was the third installment in my James Patterson marathon. The book was another early effort from Patterson. It took me forever to read this one. Normally I read his books in about 5 days. This one was more like 5 weeks. It's the first of his books to not hold my interest. I found myself only reading it when I took Jake to karate. Finally, before our vacation (which I will be writing about soon), I had to sit down and finish the story so I could take something more interesting to read on our trip.

The storyline sounds interesting enough--it was a story about a guy who was a contract killer and was hired to kill a black Senator from the south. It took place in the 60s/70s. It kind of reminded me of a combination of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and JFK. It was told from the perspective of an investigative journalist who was writing a story about the assassination (definitely not Patterson's usual "formula"). That all sounds good, but it was a real chore to read it. Just not my kind of story, I guess.

Saturday, May 21

party time

This afternoon, Judy invited us to a party at her place. It was the first cookout of the year. We had a great time and boy am I stuffed! That's what eating for two hours straight will get you, I guess. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay long because we have some things to attend to this evening, but I was glad we could make it.

On the way home, I wanted to stop at the Toyota garage and look at the Corollas. Why is it that they put the cool cars next to the boring ones? Look, there's nothing wrong with a Corolla, but it's not exactly the most exciting car in the world. I happen to be a person who is into cars. Your standard sedan just doesn't do it for me. I know I should be happy that I can afford to buy a new car even if it is boring, but I'm not. Enter: Scion. Toyota has a new brand of cars out called Scion. They had some sporty little models parked right by the Corollas (much to my chagrin). However, a quick perusal of the invoice showed that they are in my price range. I suppose a two-door sports coupe doesn't exactly fill the "family car" roll very well. But damnit, I should get to buy a car I like. I don't know anything about these Scions, so I guess I have some research to do and then possibly a decision to make before next weekend.

Sports car vs. sedan. Maybe I'm having my mid-life crisis early.

burning the midnight oil

Well, not exactly, but my car's engine is burning oil. That is why it keeps running low. It's a problem too expensive to fix, so it looks like I have even more incentive to buy a new car. I secured a car loan yesterday (thank goodness for Capital One Auto Finance--with a resource like that I can't believe anyone goes to a bank for a loan anymore). So, I should have my check by the end of the week and then we can go car shopping. I hope to acquire a new car next weekend.

Yeah, I'm still getting a Toyota Corolla. Just because I actually have to buy a new car now doesn't mean I have any more money for the deed. I'd like to go to the Toyota dealership and check out their Corolla selection this afternoon after they close. According to their online inventory, they only have one manual transmission in a color I don't like (of course). But, I think I might have to go with that because I really don't want an automatic. I guess that will give me bargaining power. I suppose I could have them bring in a car from another dealership, but I don't know if I want to go through the hassle particularly since my car is on its way out (there goes my trade-in value).

Thursday, May 19

that's it

I've had it with my car. As you might recall I recently had trouble with my car. Given that, I thought it might be a good idea to check my oil today. When I put the dipstick in and removed it, no oil was showing. This was cause for alarm. So, I drove it over to the garage (they are thankfully close to the house) and they took a quick look at it. They didn't see any leaks (like last time), but it was 2 quarts low on oil. They said the engine might be burning it. I'm pretty sure that's not a good problem to have. Anyway, the garage was getting ready to close for the day so my car has to go there tomorrow. ka-ching!

I made an executive decision this afternoon and I've decided to get a new car. Financially speaking, I could probably find a better time to do this, but there's no reason that I should be driving around in a car that could break down any minute. It wouldn't be so bad if Brian worked in town--he's not exactly close by if anything bad happens. I'm leaning towards getting a Toyota Corolla because they're fairly inexpensive and I've had pretty good luck with Toyotas so far (at least ones that were under seven years old). I don't particularly want a Corolla (I was planning on getting another RAV4 for my next vehicle), but it does seem to fit the current bill:

1. the price is right
2. great gas mileage (guess what Brian's going to be driving to work?)
3. any problems with it for the next three years will be paid for by Toyota
4. that "new car smell"

I decided today that I'd much rather be driving around in a new car even if it's not exactly what I want versus my current car which might break down at any given moment.

Today's stress level=HIGH

Tuesday, May 17

qotsa & snl

Did anyone catch Queens of the Stone Age on Saturday Night Live last weekend? Brian passed out on the couch around 11 that night, but I wanted to catch their first set on SNL so I stayed up. It was well worth the wait. They played "Little Sister" from their latest album. This actually ended up being the funniest thing I saw on SNL that night (their skits have been absolutely horrible this year). A few years ago, they did a skit that was Blue Oyster Cult playing "Don't Fear the Reaper". Will Ferrell played the cowbell in that song. It was ridiculously funny. Well, "Little Sister" has (what I think is) a wood block throughout the song. But, while QOTSA was playing it, Will Ferrell (that night's host) was on stage playing a cowbell. Classic! Of course, the musical entertainment shouldn't be the funniest thing on the show...

Sunday, May 15

more of the same

Playhouses and gardens seem to rule my life these days. I wonder what I will do with my free time once all of the hard work is done? Once the playhouse is done, it's done. But, I guess the garden will take up most of my summer (but, that's kind of the idea...). My gardens have been subpar the past few years due to lack of time to attend to them. I hope to remedy that problem this year. No large projects are planned for this summer so that should give me plenty of time to putter around outside. And Jake does a pretty good job of keeping himself busy these days, so that should get me more time over previous years.

My grow lights were an interesting twist to this year's gardening plan. It, of course, is a lot more work to grow your plants from seed, but I find it a lot more satisfying as well. My first batch of plants didn't fare as well as I'd hoped, but I did manage to salvage a few plants from the bunch. I cranked up the lights for an additional two hours per day for the remaining batches and they are all doing well.

Last year, I put in a butterfly garden where my rose garden used to be. I was pleased to see how many plants survived the winter and how much bigger they are versus last year. Of course, many of the plants in a butterfly garden are closely related to the weed family, so it's no wonder they grow so well. But, I think it looks pretty nice and the fact that it's easy to maintain is a bonus.

I put in a new herb garden this year. I still don't have all of the plants for that yet. I also need to put some sort of a border around it. I think I'll use rocks. I'd like to replace a lot of the grass in the garden area with decorative rocks. Maybe someday... I doubt Brian will complain as he hates to mow the grass and mowing around all of the stuff in our back yard probably takes more time than when it was all grass back there.

That said, I need to get back to my garden!

Friday, May 13

happy birthday, jacob

Today was Jacob's 5th birthday. We gave him his present, the playhouse (in case you haven't been paying attention), yesterday evening. It's not quite done, but it's close enough that we were ok with giving it to him. Hopefully we can wrap it up this weekend. He really seemed to like it (he was grinning from ear to ear), but he couldn't reconcile the fact that it was his. He kept saying, "but, where are we going to keep the garbage cans?"

This evening, we had a party in his honor. Most of the family came over around supper time and we ordered pizza and wings and had the requisite cake and ice cream. Batman was the theme this year.

Jacob got a ton of great gifts (the kid always makes a haul). And best of all, most of them are for the outside, so we won't have to cram any more toys in his already overstuffed bedroom.

Thursday, May 12

qotsa & nin

Recently, we purchased the latest Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails cds. Both are great albums.

I can't say enough good things about Queens of the Stone Age's Lullabies to Paralyze. What an incredible album. I started getting interested in them after seeing their video for "Go With the Flow" (which was a really cool video done in vector art. listen to me--talking like a graphic artist!) from their last album. With their basic, drums-driven songs, it's no wonder Jacob likes their music. Best of all, there isn't a bad song on the album.

I've been anxiously awaiting the new Nine Inch Nails. I've liked them ever since Brian turned me on to Broken way back in '92. I was a little disappointed in their last album, The Fragile, but not disappointed enough that I wasn't looking forward to another album. Six years later, it finally arrived. With Teeth made its debut last week. I have to say, I really like this album. There are a few weak songs on it, but it's quite good otherwise--not as good as The Downward Spiral (one of my all-time favorites), but that's a hard one to top.

Sunday, May 8

mother's day 2005

We spent Mother's Day at my parent's house. We had a great dinner consisting of gnocchi, meatballs, beef short ribs, fried eggplant, broccoli, salad, bread and apple pie for dessert. Yum! I got a cool set of nesting glass mixing bowls and a hand-made (by Jacob) stepping stone that I'm going to put in my new herb garden.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there!

Saturday, May 7

another day in the salt mines

Living in our house isn't easy--just ask Brian. We accomplished more today than most people accomplish in a week. Today started earlier than I would've liked. For someone who is eternally tired, Brian sure gets up early enough on the weekends. Today, he got up early so that he could take his motorcycle out for a ride before the rest of the day started. He got back before I even planned on getting up and he and Jacob were talking so loudly that I couldn't sleep, so I got out of bed and ate the donut I asked him to pick up during his ride. I guess this "riding" stuff means that Brian now has one of those "useless" hobbies--like golf. At least a motorcycle is a relevant means of transportation...

Saturday is wash day. I sorted the clothes last night and was pleased to see that Brian started washing them before I got up. Five loads were washed today. Last night, we had to work on the playhouse, so we couldn't make our usual Friday grocery shopping trip. So, we went this morning after Brian finished assembling my mother's Mother's Day gift that he's been working on for the past week or so during breaks from the playhouse (it was a shelf for her closet. this was a request, of course. we don't normally go around making custom closet shelves for people for no apparent reason.)

After grocery shopping, Brian dropped Jacob off at his friend Jake's birthday party. We had lunch and then started working on the playhouse. Today was shingle day. I couldn't help much with the shingling because we only have one ladder and I don't like working up that high, but I did what I could and the job was finally finished this evening. Brian had to cancel practice so we could get the job done, but at least it's done. Mid-afternoon, I had to stop working for a bit and get my hair cut. After that, I picked up Jacob. He was tired from partying (the guest of honor got a trampoline for his birthday. apparently jumping up and down on a trampoline for 3 hours will make you tired.) and didn't interrupt us while we were working. Of course, it's hard to interrupt when you're passed out on the couch. Is he still up now at 11:18pm? Yes.

We broke for supper and completed the roofing job afterwards. After cleaning up, I planted some plants in my vegetable garden and some seeds in my butterfly garden. I am finally caught up with my gardening schedule until the 8th. Unfortunately, the 8th is tomorrow...

At this point, Brian took his bike out for another well-deserved ride. I made Jacob some popcorn and put the Scooby Doo movie on for him while I slapped two coats of shellac on my mother's Mother's Day gift.

Finally, at 10:30, I got to sit down--in the tub for my bath. Prior to this moment, I enjoyed a vodka and Squirt. I'm enjoying another one right now, for the record. Speaking of booze, Brian's new take on drinking is rather interesting. We both agreed that he wouldn't drink at all (not one drink!) before riding his motorcycle, so he's been abstaining so that he can ride his bike in the evenings. I'm anxious to see how long his current keg is going to last. I think it might end up being a world's record (in the Yuengling Book of World Records, that is). I guess we'll find out next month...

I think this playhouse might be killing me. Before we started on it, I had a cold. I've never quite gotten over it. I keep getting a sore throat every few days. So, if you see my obituary and the cause of death is "sore throat" you needn't be surprised. I think I just need to get some extra sleep and relax a bit. But, that's not going to happen until this playhouse is done. I don't imagine we will be totally finished by Jacob's birthday (May 13th), but I bet we're done by the end of next weekend.

Wednesday, May 4

so tired

I cannot wait until the playhouse is done. I really need to sit down and relax for a few minutes. Tonight, we stained half of the siding. The other half is planned for Friday. We ran out of time this evening, but it doesn't really matter because we would've run out of stain anyway. I guess a trip to the paint store is in order.

The only thing that's keeping me going is the fact that once this playhouse is done, we don't have anything else pending for the summer (that is, since we decided to contract out the one major job that was previously planned). Sure, there's a lot of little stuff to do, but I can handle that. It's the jobs that take four weeks that wear me down.

And I'm still behind on my gardening and I'm still blaming that on the weather. The weather is supposed to get nice starting tomorrow so maybe if I can find some spare time this weekend, I can get caught up on things.

All I can say is that the little bugger better like the playhouse!

Monday, May 2

rocky 92

It's a stupid name for a radio station, but I'll take it. They've apparently replaced "The Rock 92.1". Brian alerted me of the change this morning. I've been listening to them this morning, and I have to say, it's quite an improvement. They seem to focus on new stuff and metal from the 80's and 90's with a little bit of classic rock thrown in. I can live with a little bit. Check it out.

Sunday, May 1

playhouse update

Despite the weather, we've been working our butts off on the playhouse. We're not as far as I hoped we'd be at this point, but we still have a good shot of completing this before Jake's birthday. Even if it isn't complete, I suspect that only minor stuff--like trim--will be left. Close enough. At this point, the structure is built and the siding is up. Up next: some painting and staining. After that, we'll shingle the roof.

Jake still doesn't have a clue. He sure is gullible. :) I really think he'll like the playhouse. I mean, who wouldn't?