Sunday, July 30

and the oscar goes to...

Brian and Jake spent the evening making a stop-motion film. You can view it here. It's 8MB in size, so don't bother if you have dial-up...

oh, what a feeling

I heard from the insurance company on Friday and they're going to be sending me my money this week, so we felt it was safe to go out and buy a new car. I got a Toyota Highlander. Silver inside and out. It's pretty nice. I was actually hoping for a different color (only because I've already had two silver cars followed by two white cars and I was in the mood for something different). But, like Mick Jagger says, you can't always get what you want.

We went to my parent's last night for a family reunion of sorts, so we both got to try the vehicle out. I have to say, it's a pretty nice ride. I think I'm going to like it. Since I didn't get leather seats, we bought one of those wire pet barrier things today so that the dogs can ride in the cargo area (and I do believe that action makes me an official card-carrying member of the crazy dog ladies club). At least the dog hair will be contained to one area and not be all over the seats. That's all I ask for, really. Well, that and an mp3 player. The factory stereo that came with the vehicle is a piece of crap, so I'll be ordering a new one this week. I sure am going to miss the 6 disk mp3 changer I had in my Scion, though.

Thursday, July 27

bullshit

Nothing ever turns out as easy as it should, so why should I be surprised that our auto accident is turning out any differently? I won't go into the gritty details, but basically the other party has changed their story (neverminding the laws of physics) and now it's going to be a while till the insurance companies decide just who is to blame. But, this only has an effect on the insurance rates, so I guess it doesn't really matter how long it takes just as long as my rates aren't the ones going up.

On the other hand, I should be getting my money fairly soon. My car is wherever it is that they take the demolished cars and someone from my insurance company is supposed to look at it this week. Here's to hoping I actually get the amount I think I should.

That said, I think we're going to buy a new car this weekend. While it would've been nice to have some of the insurance money as a down payment, they have some really good deals going on until the end of the month and I hate the thought of missing out on a good deal. I don't like the idea of having a big car payment, but after I get the insurance money, we'll only have the one car payment, so it won't be an issue (and if, for some reason, it takes a long time to get the insurance money, well, I still need a car, so...). I've already secured financing, so if things don't work out this weekend, there's always another day.

Monday, July 24

crash! boom! bang!

Here's the photographic evidence.
Photo 1
Photo 2

vacation photos

Enjoy.

Friday, July 21

just when you think things can't get any worse

So, we're on our way home from a funeral late this afternoon and some guy pulls out right in front of us. There was no time to react. I saw the guy. I thought to myself "we're going to hit this truck". I hit the brakes and we proceeded to smash right into the truck. In that split second, I was figuring that we'd be able to slow down a bit and have a minor accident. This was not quite the case.

The car hit the truck and immediately some guy was grabbing me and telling me to get out of the car. Apparently there were fluids leaking from the vehicle and they weren't sure if it was gasoline or what, so people were trying to get us away from the car. I went over and sat on the curb and some lady came over and said she was an EMT (off-duty) and she started checking me out first because the airbag smashing against my face gave me a nosebleed and the inside of my bottom lip was also cut by my teeth. Before I knew it, the ambulance and firetrucks arrived. They checked the three of us out in the ambulance, but we were all ok (shaken up, but ok) so we didn't want to go to the hospital. The other guy wasn't so lucky. I didn't get a look at him, but he did go to the hospital.

We were just seconds from Brian's parent's house, so naturally they looked down the street to see what was going on. They thought they saw a white car, so Brian's dad and our brother-in-law, Bill, came down to check things out. Needless to say, they were quite alarmed to find out that it was us. They took Jake back to the house then came back and stayed with us while we waited for the state police to arrive. The police officer filled out his report, the other driver is being cited, and both cars appear to be totaled. I don't know about the truck, but the front of my car looked like an accordion so I'm pretty sure 'totaled' applies to my vehicle, anyway.

I guess the important thing is that we are all ok. People keep telling us that we're going to feel like a pile of crap tomorrow and an even bigger pile of crap on Sunday, so we're already planning on taking sick days on Monday. If we do feel that bad, we'll go to the doctor's. If not, there will be plenty of other things to get straightened out that day. Brian already called the insurance company, but our local office was closed for the day, so we couldn't get any details from them today. Hopefully this will all get resolved quickly.

Incidentally, Jake is now adamantly refusing to ever ride in a motor vehicle again. I hope he changes his mind because we are out of groceries and I'm not walking to Richland tomorrow to buy them.

Wednesday, July 19

oh, canada

Due to the new passport requirements that are kicking in soon, we decided to go to Canada for our vacation this year. Niagara Falls and Toronto, to be specific. Brian and I went to Niagara Falls before (nine years ago) and hated it--it was way too touristy and everyone was rude. But we figure that since we live so close to one of the natural wonders of the world, we'd be doing an injustice by not taking Jake there.

Saturday:
Today started off with vacation preparations. I had to take the dogs to the kennel in the morning. I felt bad taking Alice there because we've only had her for a month. I didn't want her to think that I was returning her to the Humane Society. But, I'm sure she'll figure things out when I pick her up. We went to Brian's parent's that afternoon because his sister was in from NY for her birthday. After we got back from that, it was time to pack. As usual, I didn't get done packing until minutes before bedtime. I'm not sure why, but this always seems to happen. I should start packing earlier in the day, I guess. Brian's mother was aghast to hear that we weren't already packed. Apparently she likes to pack early.

Sunday:
We left home around 10am and arrived in Niagara Falls around 4pm. It was a pretty nice drive--we didn't run into any traffic or other issues. After getting here, we walked through the throng of people and went to check out the falls. Jake was enthralled by all of the kitschy tourist attractions along the way. At first he wanted to check out one of the haunted houses, but the one he really liked said there was "no turning back" once you entered, so that kind of freaked him out and that idea got nixed. I hung out at the hotel for a little bit while Jake and Brian went through the "Mystery Maze". We had supper at a place called Kelsey's Neighbourhood Bar and Grill. It was pretty good. It was very hot today, but I guess it's that way back home, too, so at least we're in air-conditioned comfort here. That night, we got to see the biweekly fireworks over the falls. They only lasted about 5 minutes, but they were spectacular.

Monday:
Today started off with a trip to the Butterfly Conservatory. It was really cool. We also checked out the grounds of the Botanical Gardens the conservatory was located on. We didn't go here the last time we were in Niagara, so it was a nice change of pace. After that, we checked out the Classic Iron Motorcycle Museum. They had quite a collection of bikes there, mostly Harleys. We then grabbed some pizza for lunch and intended to go back to the hotel room for a few hours and cool off. Unfortunately, housekeeping hadn't taken care of our room yet. So, Jake put on his trunks and we headed down to the pool. Brian and I read while Jake goofed off with some kid. The pool was only 3 feet deep on one end and 4 feet on the other, so it wasn't really worth going in if you were an adult. That night, we had supper at the Rainforest Cafe. It was OK, but one time there will probably be enough for me. The food was decent, but the ambience wasn't quite what I expected. After supper, Brian made us walk all the way over to the horseshoe falls. That was a haul, but the mist that was coming off of the falls cooled us down a bit (it was still very hot today). We hung out in the hotel for the rest of the evening. I am pleased to say that no one has been rude this time. I guess we'll have to chalk the previous rudeness up to the fact that the last time we were here it was Labor Day weekend and things were probably even busier than usual.

Tuesday:
We got up early today and headed out to the African Lion Safari. Brian and I went there the last time we were in Niagara, but thought it was worth visiting again. It wasn't quite as cool as the first time, but it was still fun. I was disappointed that no babboons crawled on our car this time--with my moon roof, we could've gotten some great shots. After the safari, we headed to Toronto. Till we got there, it was late afternoon, so we didn't do much but walk around the city. For such a large city, it is very nice--clean and easy to get around in. We took a long walk to the local Harley Davidson Dealership. Jake got a hat and a shirt and I got a shirt, but Brian couldn't find anything he liked in his size. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a pub and had dinner. I guess we'll spend the rest of the evening relaxing in the hotel room because we have an early day tomorrow.

Wednesday:
First thing today, we went to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Seeing all of the historical hockey stuff was pretty neat. After that, we walked to the Harbourfront and sat and watched the water for a little while. We also took a stroll through the St. Lawrence Market. While I've never been to the food market at Pittsburgh's Strip District, I have a feeling this is very similar. It was pretty cool. I only wish we had a place like that around here for food shopping. They had everything--meats, cheeses, fish, breads, etc. And it was all reasonably priced. I could go wild in a place like that. But, I guess I'll have to stick with Giant Eagle for now. Between all of the walking we did yesterday and today, I think we must've seen every major tourist attraction (if only from the outside) in the city of Toronto. Brian and I really enjoyed the city, so we may end up having to get passports after all so we can go back and experience everything it has to offer.

Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, we had to cut our trip short. We arrived home this evening rather than tomorrow afternoon. But, we didn't miss out on too much since we stayed through the afternoon--we just didn't plan enough time to begin with.

I'll be posting a link to some pictures in the next day or two. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 16

how not to kill a bug

I meant to post about this a few months ago when it happened, but never got around to it. I thought about it the other day and decided that I should post it for posterity's sake.

It must've been a weekend or a day off work because all three of us were home. Jake went upstairs to do something while Brian was working on his computer at the dining room table and I was sitting on the couch reading. Jake came downstairs and told us that he killed a bug. That was cool with us because that's generally what we do when we see a bug in the house.

So, I'm sitting there doing my thing and Brian's doing his when Brian said something to me. I looked his way and thought I saw a drop of water fall from the ceiling. So, I kept looking over that way and eventually saw another drop of water fall. I looked on the floor and a small puddle was forming. Alarmed, I told Brian about this and we ran upstairs to find out what was leaking. We were figuring it was the toilet upstairs because it had leaked before. It was not--everything in the bathroom seemed to be in order. Then we noticed a bunch of water on the floor in the corner outside the bathroom. Long story short, Jacob killed the bug by drowning it in a few cups of water. We didn't give him too much grief (mostly because we were relieved that it wasn't a plumbing disaster). But, Brian did give him some sage advice: don't use fire to kill bugs, either.

Saturday, July 15

bob & carol & ted & alice

Alice lives here. I don't know Ted. Carol and Bob stopped over last night for a visit. Honestly, I can't remember the last time we saw them, but I'm sure it had to be at least few years ago. Carol and I always keep in touch--via phone or email--but we never seem to manage to get together. We spent a nice evening catching up and reminiscing. Brian and I used to work with Carol at the place we met, so we've all known each other for a very long time.

Carol called to say they were running late, so I thought I'd take the dogs out for a quick walk before they got here. That turned out to be a mistake. It was raining a little bit when I left. By the time I got up the road a ways, it started to rain even more. So, I stood under a tree for a little while, hoping it would pass, and then it started to pour. Then I said to hell with it and ran home with the dogs. We were all drenched. Of course, I arrived home at the same time Carol and Bob pulled up. Not that it really mattered, I guess. But, it's probably best not to look like the girl who crawled out of the well in The Ring when you are having guests over.

Wednesday, July 12

nightmares & dreamscapes

TNT is running a bunch of stories based off of Stephen King's collection of short stories, Nightmares & Dreamscapes. The first one, "Battleground" is almost over. So far, I have to give it a thumb's up. Two stories each will be running for four consecutive Wednesdays. If you didn't tune in tonight, you can catch a replay tomorrow night on TNT. Here is the official website.

it's a july miracle

It's been so long since I've written about our bathroom project, that you probably thought it was done. But, it's not. There just hasn't been anything to talk about on my end until now. My bathroom vanity is finally complete! I spent 10 days finishing the drawers (2 coats of shellac, 9 coats of varnish) and Brian did the final assembly and added the hardware this evening. I don't quite have everything put away yet, but it'll be done soon enough. I was pleased to find out that there's enough room for everything I need to store in the bathroom.

Now all that's left is a new door, a little trim, and a new hamper. I've finally convinced Brian that there's not enough time to build everything for the house, so we're going to buy the door. He'll kick out the trim some weekend this summer. As for the hamper, it's still up in the air--if I can find one I like, I'll buy it.

Saturday, July 8

you have a young look to you

That's what he said.

So, I made my monthly trip to the liquor store today to stock up on essentials. Luckily, the girl from last month wasn't there so I didn't have to justify my purchases. There was an older gentleman working this evening and I got carded. After seeing my ID he said "That's what I thought, but you have a young look to you." I thanked him and we proceeded with the purchase.

Of course, I was wearing a "Cookie Monster" t-shirt. In my quest to be carded once for each year I'm on the planet--for as long as possible--some concessions have to be made. (Hell, in a few years, I might have to dye my hair once a year just so I can keep the numbers going.) At least I can cross "36" off the list. I got that one out of the way early. Back to my point...when I was younger, I found that the way you are dressed when you go to the liquor store determines whether or not you get carded. When I was around 22, if I would go to the liquor store all dressed up in my work clothes, I would never get carded, but throw on some cut-off shorts and an old t-shirt and that would all but guarantee and ID check.

Stay tuned for more from the "liquor store chronicles" next month...

Tuesday, July 4

the 4th

We didn't do anything exciting for the holiday. Unlike the rest of America, Brian and I both worked yesterday. Jake wasn't feeling well yesterday or today, so that put a cap on a few minor plans we did have.

So, we spent today like any other Saturday--working on the house. Tuesday has to be the worst day of the week to have off. I've taken a lot of days off in my time and I rarely pick a Tuesday for a single day off unless I am forced to. By the time Friday rolls around, it will have felt like I worked a full week. But, I digress. This afternoon, Brian did a project that has been on his "to do" list for a while--he fixed a plumbing leak in the basement. We've had a pipe that has been dripping (albeit very, very slowly) for a couple of years. I've been wanting to call a plumber. He hasn't. So, he finally fixed it today and now I can stop complaining about it. As far as plumbing jobs go, this went better than most--we were only without water for about 90 minutes.

Brian also worked on the window flower boxes that he's building for the shed. In other shed news, I planted some hostas around it and then mulched the whole area. It looks nice. And, I got to use up the extra mulch that's been sitting around since April.

The weather hasn't been good for much these past few weeks, but apparently it has been good for the garden. My garden has exploded in the past week or two. In fact, we ate from it for both lunch and supper today. We had some chicken salad for lunch (using lettuce from the garden) and a side of sugar snap peas with our kielbasa and hamburgers at supper.

Brian also spent a few hours on graphic design work and I made another batch of wine. It was a pretty productive day.

A bunch of other things went on, but that's all of the major stuff. I'm not sure why, but going to that concert on Friday night totally threw my weekend off. I spent Saturday and Sunday getting caught up on things, so it was kind of nice to have today off to do some of the things I've been wanting to do.

Saturday, July 1

nine inch nails

Last night, Brian and I, and another couple we're friends with (Lish and Brent), went to see Nine Inch Nails at the Post Gazette Pavilion (aka Star Lake Amphitheatre). And, what a show it was! It definitely ranks up there as one of the best shows I've seen. The singing was excellent, the band was tight, the light show was unique (the band often played behind this see-through screen that was part of the light show. I'm having trouble describing it, but that's because I've never seen anything like it before.), and the songs sounded even better live than on the cds (it's surprising to me that they'd be able to pull that off). All in all, some quality entertainment. They played a lot of older stuff, and not so much newer stuff, but that was ok with me because I think the older stuff is better anyway. I haven't listened to much NIN (besides the new album) in recent years, but I was pleased to find out I still remembered most of the lyrics (even if I couldn't tell you the name of the song or the album it was from).

Jake really likes Nine Inch Nails and we were thinking about taking him to the show (one of his favorite songs is "Head Like a Hole"). But, then we were unsure what kind of imagery they'd be showing on the screens and thought better of it. As it turns out, they didn't show anything (mostly the band was displayed, at other times, it was part of the light show), so it would've been a good show to take him to. That was the only disappointment of the night.