Monday, December 31

new year's eve

The New Year's holiday is one we typically spend alone. This is by choice. Neither Brian nor I particularly enjoy going out on New Year's Eve, so that is off the table. Only family-friendly activities are considered, but we're not exactly looking hard for something to do. Jacob happens to be sick with a cold today and Brian has to work tomorrow so these things had to be taken into consideration when planning the evening's activities.

The city of Johnstown has been putting on this "Celebrate Johnstown" thing for a few years now. Last year, we checked out the fireworks. This year, we checked out the bands. By this evening, Jake was feeling well enough to go out, so we went downtown early and checked out a few bands (Brian knew the people who were playing). It was nice and I was surprised to see so many people there. I guess the fact that it's a family-friendly event doesn't hurt. I like to support Johnstown stuff whenever I can. It might be a dying city, but not on my watch.

After we got home and Jake played a few rounds of guitar hero, we played a rousing game of scrabble. Jake was pissed because he came in 3rd. I was happy because I won. Note to Jacob: you'll get no breaks around here. I'm competitive to the point of ridiculousness, but I rarely lose word games, so they're a safe bet for me. Don't even ask me to play Boggle--you will lose!

It's late. Everyone's in bed. The dogs are snoring. I'm going to stay up till midnight just because I'm not tired. Tomorrow we'll be doing our usual pork and sauerkraut thing for lunch. I need to get up early to get that in the oven. Never mind the fact that I have to go to bed early tomorrow because I have to go to work on Wednesday.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30

beer league

This is what happens when I let Brian pick the movie. Actually, the movie wasn't bad. But, it wasn't great, either. It was about a softball beer league. I don't think I need to go into specifics here. The movie was brought to you by Artie Lange, one of Howard Stern's sidekicks, so that should give you a good idea of the intelligence level of the film. Brian's always bitching about my movie selections (Babel, Dogville, and The Good Girl, just to name a few), so I have to throw him a bone every once in a while.

jacob doesn't live here anymore

In the past week, Jake spent 2 nights at my parent's house, 1 night at my in-law's, and, tonight, he's staying at his friend's house. Sheesh. I'm going to forget what he looks like before long. Thank goodness school is back in session in a few days and he'll have to sleep here again.

Friday, December 28

even more christmas

We had a bunch of people from Brian's family over this evening. Namely, our niece, his parents, his sister and her family, and his aunt and uncle. It was especially nice to see his sister and her crew--we don't get to see them very often.

The usual eating, drinking, and merriment occurred. The guys hung out in the bar and played pool most of the evening while the gals sat in the living room and talked.

The kids played Guitar Hero for a bit and put on a magic show (with Jake's new magic set) right before everyone left.

Alice was a perfect lady all evening. Lizzy, on the other hand, was in the crate. I've found it's easier to keep her in the crate when we have a lot of people over versus actually training her to not jump all over people. Hmpf.

Wednesday, December 26

more christmas

I had today off work, which was nice. But, now, I'm regretting not taking the whole week off. I guess 2 days of work won't kill me before my upcoming 4 day weekend...

We were supposed to visit Brian's grandmother this morning, but that got pushed back because we had a home inspection scheduled for the property we're trying to buy. It took way longer than expected, but I'm ok with that given what it cost. At least I feel like I got my money's worth out of it. Nothing we didn't already know about was found so our last hurdle is the zoning stuff. Stay tuned.

Till we got to Brian's grandmother's it was 3:00. We had a nice visit with her, then ate some ham sandwiches and soup and headed home just in time for my parents and brother to visit. Jake ended up going home with them and we won't see him till after work on Friday. At least this will give him something to do seeing that Brian and I both have to work the next two days. I'm sure he could've kept himself busy with his new toys, but this will likely be more fun for him.

It's the 26th, so I guess it's time to put away the gifts. I can't live like this for another day--the living room is in complete chaos. Better yet will be January 1st when I can put all of the decorations back in the attic and things will be back to normal.

Tuesday, December 25

christmas day

We went to my in-laws for supper today. They had a pretty big crowd as our niece was there with her whole crew. I've been feeling kind of crappy the past few days. Unfortunately today wasn't any different. Due to this, we arrived late, but just in time for dinner. I didn't eat much, but what I had was good. After dinner, it was time to open the presents. This year's gifts can be summed up as follows: cooking, grilling, and drinking. As it happens, those are three of my favorite things, so all of those gifts will be sure to get a workout.

We didn't get home till after 9. Jake couldn't wait to play guitar hero again, but he had some things to do when we got home, so I was nice and let him stay up till 11 (actually, I think he still might be awake). Brian's currently crashed out in the chair by the fireplace. And, I'm about to do one of my favorite Christmas pastimes--inventorying my loot.

christmas eve and morning

We celebrated Christmas Eve with my parents. My mom wanted to do the Feast of the 7 Fishes, but given that only a few people were going to be there, I managed to talk her down to 5. Dinner was great, though. And, we came home with some extra crab cakes that we're going to eat for lunch.

Shortly after dinner, we got to open presents. Among other things, we got a lot of new books to read--I can't wait to check those out. Jake got some legos, a really cool magic kit and a bunch of other stuff.

Shortly after we got home last night, we went to the 10:30 service at our church. The "new" pastor didn't get the memo that this service was only supposed to be 50 minutes long, so we didn't get home until almost midnight. Brian and I stayed up till Jake fell asleep and then put the presents under the tree. It was 1:00 or 1:30 till we got to bed.

Jake was up bright and early at 7AM. At first, he thought Santa brought him a dirt bike (which is the thing he covets the most). Then, he said it was too big, so it must be a motorcycle. After uncovering it, he discovered it was just a bicycle (a chopper bicycle, that is). But ever the positive boy, he said that was even better. And, it wasn't from Santa, either, by the way. So, he was wrong on all counts. He then opened the rest of his gifts. Other highlights were Guitar Hero II and a spy kit (that Santa really knows what the boy wants). After that, Brian and I went back to bed while Jake played with his toys and worked on one of the lego kits he got last night.

A few hours later, we finally got up. We don't have to be anywhere till later this afternoon, so I guess we'll just spend the day playing with our new toys.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22

done deal (sort of)

We made another offer on that Moxham property today. It was accepted this time! We still have the zoning hurdle to get past, but things are looking pretty good there. It will take a bit of time to get that straightened out, though.

Between that, changing Brian's business structure, Brian's work schedule, my job, and the holidays, my stress level is on red alert. Watch out!

the big bad city

I just finished reading this one last night while Jake and Brian were off gallivanting all over Johnstown. It was another one of Ed McBain's 87 Precinct novels. And, a good one at that. I do enjoy his writing style. As these novels typically go, there were a number of mysteries occurring in the 87th precinct. All were satisfactorily resolved. The end.

Tuesday, December 18

good news?

The property we didn't get (in Moxham) is back on the table. The other deal fell through, so our realtor called us to see if we're still interested in it. We are, so she's trying to get the zoning stuff figured out for us. If things fall into place, we still have a chance to get the property. But, we're not going to pursue it as aggressively this time around. We'll just kind of wait and see what happens. I'm trying to not get all excited about it because I was really disappointed last time. But, things are looking up.

Sunday, December 16

mission not accomplished

Well, I didn't quite finish all of my Christmas stuff this weekend as I still have a batch of cookies to bake (they are mixed up and ready to go, though). We were hit with a network issue today (yes, at home--just what kind of a dork have I turned in to?) and I ended up working on that for a few hours this evening, instead. Unfortunately, the network issue involved driving to Circuit City in the snowstorm to buy some new hardware. But, I think everything is working again, so that is good.

Friday, December 14

christmas stuff

My day off was a fairly productive one. I bought the last few presents on my list. All of the presents are wrapped. And, the tree is up and decorated. Actually, the presents I ordered from Brian's Rickety ol' Furniture Shoppe are still on backorder. I don't know why I keep ordering from that place. So, I guess I'm not quite done with my wrapping yet...

Jake and I had to run to Toys R Us this afternoon because he has a birthday party go to to tomorrow. I picked up a few other gifts while we were there so it was a successful shopping trip. I hate shopping in stores (I prefer the internet), but this went pretty smoothly.

Whenever I have a day off, I like to make something for supper that requires a little more effort than usual. So, today, I made my grandmother's Meatball Soup (aka Italian Wedding Soup):

*** stock ***
4 1/2 pounds chicken backs
3 stalks celery
2 pounds carrots
2 medium onions
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons salt
*** meatballs ***
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs -- beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2/3 cup Romano cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
black pepper -- to taste
*** remaining ingredient ***
20 ounces frozen chopped spinach -- thawed

Place chicken in a large stock pot. Cover chicken with water. Add celery, carrots, onions, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 4-5 hours. Skim off the foam.

Once broth is done, strain. Either use a fat separator to remove the fat from the broth or refrigerate and skim from the top, once cooled. Put cooked carrots aside. Discard everything else.

Mix meatball ingredients. Roll very small meatballs. Chop the carrots. Bring the strained broth to a boil, add the meatballs along with the carrots and spinach. Simmer. Add more salt if needed. Cook meatballs in soup for at least 1/2 hour. Serve hot. Freezes well.

Heck, I even had time to make some homemade bread. It was a good supper, with plenty of leftovers. I can hardly wait for lunch tomorrow.

still alive

Yes, I'm still here. Nothing post-worthy has been going on, hence the lack of posts. Today is really no different, but I feel obligated to post since so much time has passed since I last did. I'm off work today and plan to wrap up everything Christmas-related over the course of the weekend. Now, I'm off to wrap some gifts...

Sunday, December 9

whiskey and beer

Tonight we went to a whiskey and beer party at Doug's. Nothing much to report. I drank wine. We had fun. We always have fun there. Mostly people I used to work with go to these things and there was a nice showing of them tonight. It was good to catch up with everyone. I'm starting to sound like a broken record with these parties (there are so many, it's hard to come up with new material). But, I will say that we fully intended only staying 2 hours or so, and we ended up staying for 5, so that goes to show that we were having a great time.

Saturday, December 8

e.t.: the extra-terrestrial

We had another family movie night last night and watched the old classic, E.T. It's funny how the old movies are never how you remember them. They always seem to lose a bit of something over the years. Or, maybe it's just me. But, it was still fun to watch again and Jake really liked the movie, and that's kind of the point of the whole thing.

Thursday, December 6

Tuesday, December 4

so much for that idea

Well, our real estate deal fell through. The city couldn't/wouldn't do anything about the zoning, so the guy who was selling the property accepted someone else's bid. Just try getting someone from city hall to return your call. This whole scenario was very annoying and has us thinking about locating Brian's business elsewhere. I suppose this is good information for us to have because it's better than finding out how the city runs AFTER you've already moved the business there.

Oh well, we'll just have to keep on looking...

Saturday, December 1

exciting times

We started looking for a property for Brian's business recently. The time to expand is now. Brian was hoping to get something downtown (preferably in the tech park area), but nothing has caught our eye down there yet. There are surprisingly few commercial properties available at the moment.

We checked out a property in Moxham the other week and found it to our liking. But, although it was originally a commercial building, it's now zoned residential, so a business can't be run out of it. Brian went to the city hall to inquire about getting the zoning changed, but no one seemed to think it would be possible. Our realtor, on the other hand, has been talking to someone else down there and he seems to think it's a possibility. So, we're in limbo until someone makes a decision.

The building needs some work, but the price is definitely right. It's not in bad shape, but it will need some updating. Plus, it was converted into a "house" years ago, so we'll have to redo the kitchen and bathroom to make them suitable for an office.

We took another look at the property this morning and made an offer on it (contingent upon the zoning change, of course). Now all we can do is cross our fingers and hope it works out. Wish us luck!

'twas a hockey night in johnstown

Our friend Lish was able to snag some hockey tickets through work so she took the three of us, her boyfriend, Brent, and Brent's nephew to a game last night. The game started off pretty promising--there were quite a number of fights (that always makes it more interesting). Johnstown wasn't able to get many shots on goal, though, and the score remained 0 to 0 for quite a bit. The other team finally scored a goal so when it came down to the last minute or so, Johnstown pulled the goalie in a last ditch attempt to score. Unfortunately, the other team scored again. Even though the Chiefs lost, we still had a good time at the game.

Afterwards, Lish and Brent came over to our house to check out the bar. I whipped up a few snacks and we had some drinks. Brian and Brent played pool while Lish and I sat at the bar and talked. Before we knew it, it was 1AM! Brent had to go because he had to be at work at 7AM this morning. I was ready for bed at that point, anyway. It was definitely a fun evening and I'm starting to think our bar might be the hottest night spot in town.

Thursday, November 29

i'm a big girl now

I drove a coworker and myself to the Pittsburgh airport and back for our trip to Chicago. It went off without a hitch. This was my first time driving to/from Pittsburgh. It did help to have a navigator--it's tough for me to read directions while driving.

The trip was ok. We even made it to Chicago earlier than expected, but we took a shuttle to the RSNA and it took forever to get there, so we ended up there later than expected--we got there in time for lunch. Afterwards, our manager gave us the tour. And, I was able to find out from him why we were sent--they always send the new employees. So, I shouldn't have to do this again next year. We managed to run into a few of our former coworkers. It was nice to see them again. We were only at the conference for a few hours before it was time to head to the hotel. We got checked in, cleaned up, and then headed out to a Fuji-sponsored party at the Chicago House of Blues. Fuji brought in RPM as the entertainment. Musically, they were good, but their song selection was more suited to the 40 and over crowd. There was this one guy from Fuji that joined the band for a song in each of their sets and he was really, really good. I would've rather listened to him sing all night. He did R&B style music and was definitely the best singer there of the evening.

The next day, we didn't have to be at the conference till 10am, which was good because it gave us an opportunity to catch up on our sleep. We caught breakfast at Panera--yum. We could use one of these in Johnstown! We headed to the conference for another few hours. We walked around looking for swag for Jake (not much was to be found) and poorly created marketing materials for Brian's "potential client file" (there was plenty of that to go around from the smaller vendors). Before we knew it, it was time for lunch and also time to go back to the airport. The airplane ride home was a bit bumpy, but otherwise ok. Till I dropped my coworker off in Somerset and got home it was after 10pm. It was a tiring couple of days.

Unfortunately, due to the short nature of the trip, we didn't get to explore any of the city. I definitely would like to go back there some day (on vacation) and check things out. It looks like it would be a nice place to visit.

Monday, November 26

the mud bowl

Tonight's Steeler game should be interesting if it ever starts. Hopefully it will begin before I have to go to bed, which will be earlier than usual tonight since I'm leaving for the Pittsburgh Airport at 6am tomorrow morning. Just what I like to do--travel. Not. This time, I'm going to the RSNA in Chicago. My favorite city. Again, not. Actually I'm sure Chicago is a very nice city--it's O'Hare airport that I hate. Anyway, another developer and I have to go to the aforementioned trade show Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm not sure why, exactly (that is, we've not been assigned any duties), but you gotta do what you gotta do. I guess we'll walk around and look for ex-coworkers. There are going to be a bunch of them there, that much I know. But, we're only going to be there tomorrow afternoon and Wednesday morning, and then we're heading home. Seems like a lot of rigamarole if you ask me. On the other hand, I'd much rather go for the one night than the entire week.

It looks like the weather is supposed to clear up by late morning, so I guess there's not much of a chance my flight will be canceled. So barring any unforseen circumstances, I'll be on my way to Chicago in the morning. Otherwise, I'll be happily posting tomorrow evening.

Well, the game has finally started, so I better watch while I still can. The Steelers are off to another crappy start.

Sunday, November 25

harry potter and the deathly hallows

This was the final story in the Harry Potter series. It started off a bit slow, but once I got about half way through (no small feat considering that it weighs in at 759 pages) I found it to be pretty engrossing. It's always a good sign when I'm plotting time to read a book and I definitely did that with this one. It's kind of sad that the series has ended. I wonder what, if anything, we will see next from J.K. Rowling. One thing's for sure, she deserves kudos for getting kids interested in reading.

Saturday, November 24

inside man

This was a great movie...till the end. It was about a bank robbery and starred two of my favorites, Clive Owen (as the bad guy) and Denzel Washington (as the good guy). The movie had us on the edge of our seats until the very end. But, that's where things went downhill fast. I wasn't a big fan of the ending. Some of the plot elements were a bit contrived. Still, I did like the movie overall and would recommend it.

Friday, November 23

i like not working

I so much enjoyed being off work today. My paid time off being cut in half because of switching jobs this year really makes me appreciate the days I am off. I didn't even do anything exciting today. Actually, I did most of my Saturday work (laundry), so that pretty much frees up tomorrow. No naps today, unfortunately. I got plenty of sleep the past two nights. If I keep this up, I'll be up all night Sunday. I got to do some fun stuff too, like reading and playing pool. Brian had to work, but he's not adverse to a lunchtime game or three of pool. I also spent a bunch of money while shopping on the internet today (some of it was Christmas shopping), so it's not like I would be happily unemployed or anything. I just really need to win the powerball.

Thursday, November 22

thanksgiving 2007

Another holiday has come and gone. Things were pretty laid back this Thanksgiving. As previously mentioned, only my parents came over for dinner. I took a half day off work yesterday, but as it turned out, I didn't do much in preparation for the holiday. But I did get a few things done outside since the weather was so nice.

This morning, I got up at the crack of 8:30 and put on the turkey breasts (no one in my family likes dark meat). I had thought about doing the turkey breasts on the grill, but then I remembered the gravy. So much for that idea. I spent the rest of the morning in the kitchen since I didn't do any prep yesterday. Jake made some nice decorations and put name tags where everyone was to sit. He likes doing the seating arrangements for some reason. I think he just likes telling people what to do. I wonder where he gets that from?

My parents got here a little after noon. I recruited my mom to help with the last of the cooking while Brian carved the turkey. Dinner was good. We had your normal Thanksgiving fare--nothing fancy. My mom brought the pies. Good thing or I would've been prepping yesterday for sure. My mom and I sat around talking most of the afternoon. Brian, Jake, and my dad did manly things like playing pool and trying to determine why Brian's table saw is broken.

Jake went home with my parents and is staying there the next two nights. It's funny--he doesn't like it when I have to travel for work, but he sure doesn't have a problem leaving the house any opportunity he gets.

Anyway, it was a nice, relaxing day and I'm looking forward to a few more nice, relaxing days over the long weekend.

Monday, November 19

ahh, the holidays

I've been trying to keep up with things this year, but I feel like I'm falling behind already. In a step to remedy this, I completed my 4th (and final) batch of Christmas cards this evening. Addressed them, too. If nothing else, at least those are ready to go.

Thanksgiving is going to be weird this year as only my parents are coming over for dinner. I keep threatening to make turkey dogs if some more people don't show up. Any volunteers? At least the house is relatively in order thanks to our glut of entertaining the past two months.

As for Christmas, I'm not done with my shopping yet! Normally, I'm done before Thanksgiving. I'll just blame this year on Thanksgiving being earlier than usual. Actually, I don't have too much left to do. There are a few things that I know I need to get but just haven't gotten around to the purchases yet. And there are a few "hard to buy for" people on the list. Regarding them, I have no idea what to do.

And then there's the baking...my mom called the other day to tell me what she's baking for Christmas. This was the same day I finally sat down and made up the Thanksgiving menu (you know, turkey dogs, sauerkraut, hot dog buns). Needless to say, I haven't made up my baking list yet. The past few years, I've only been doing three batches of cookies. But, I've also been making five batches of dog treats. These numbers seem to work for me as long as I start in early December and freeze everything. I've found that the dogs appreciate the treats way more than the people appreciate the cookies. Plus, it's not like we do a ton of entertaining over the holidays, so I'm usually left with a bunch of cookies that I have to eat. Jake does his best to help, but even he can only eat so many.

Sunday, November 18

inland empire

This was the latest film from David Lynch. It appears to have had a pretty limited theater run so we had to wait for the DVD release for this movie.

Like most David Lynch movies, this was a jumbled mess of stuff that didn't make sense. It did make me think a lot of Mulholland Drive, though. Perhaps it was the Hollywood connection.

I won't even try to summarize the plot, because that is not possible, but the main character was played by Laura Dern, who oftentimes has this expression on her face. So, we invented a new drinking game--every time you see that expression, you take a drink. As you might have noticed, that picture was taken from one of her Jurassic Park movies, so this game can be played while watching other Laura Dern movies, if David Lynch isn't your cup of tea. Unfortunately for us, by playing the drinking game, it took us two weeks to watch the movie because we kept passing out from our alcohol intake. Not really. But, it did take 2 nights because the movie was 3 hours long. It probably would've been better to watch it in one sitting, but I've got things to do.

And like most David Lynch movies, I'll have to ruminate over this one for a bit (and maybe watch it again) before I form a real opinion on it.

Wednesday, November 14

poor alice

At some point after I returned from my business trip last week, I noticed that Alice had a bump on her back. I didn't think too much of it because she's pretty much covered in bumps. But, this one grew at an alarming rate over the course of the weekend. By Monday, it was pretty huge. We planned on taking her to the vets on Tuesday, but by Tuesday morning, the bump had burst open and most of the swelling went down. We thought we'd give it another day and see how it was. It was still oozing stuff this morning, so I called the vet and Brian took her in for an appointment.

The vet isn't positive what it is, but she thinks it might be a cyst that got infected. Alice was put on a two-week course of antibiotics. We need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't come back. You wouldn't know anything was wrong with her from the way she acts. Hopefully it will turn out to be nothing, but this brings back bad memories of two years ago when Ripley was sick right before Thanksgiving. Not that this episode has any similarities besides the time of year, but I could do without any doggy drama, for sure.

Sunday, November 11

steeler party

We had a few Steeler fans over to watch today's game. I guess you can call this our first real party in the bar (yes, we're now calling the family room "the bar". might as well call it what it is). Unlike my froufrou wine party last month, this party involved manly things such as beer, hot sausage, and football.

We asked everyone to bring a side dish, so this greatly decreased our workload. Even so the prep for the party was complicated by a number of cub scout-related activities yesterday. In the morning, Jake had to put door hangers on 10 houses on our street in preparation for next week's food drive. After that, Brian had to help unload the popcorn from the popcorn sale and this ended up taking longer than expected. At 4:00 Jake had a Veteran's Day parade. And, to complicate matters further, at 9pm Friday night, Jake got invited to a birthday party that was held yesterday at 2PM. As you can imagine, not much got done around the house yesterday morning or afternoon.

After the parade, my parents treated us to dinner at the Szechuan. After dinner we came home and got to work. Brian made some chili, I made some brownies, and we got everything else ready that we possibly could. After church today, we made the rest of the food and then waited for the guests to arrive.

The Steelers didn't look too hot for most of the game, but somehow they managed to pull off a win. It was a real nail biter. I thought for sure they were going to lose. People started trickling out after the game was over. By halftime of the 4:00 game, only one straggler was left and he ended up staying till halftime of the 8:00 game. I'll take that as a compliment.

I got in trouble (and I use that term loosely) for making too much food, but I don't know how Brian can say that when there were only 2 small containers of food left. At least we'll have something to eat for lunch the next 2 days. All of the food was great and I really appreciated everyone's efforts. The party could not have turned out better. Brian says it's the best one we've ever had, and in the end, I guess that's all that really matters.

Saturday, November 10

bottling nite

Actually, it was last night, but I didn't have time to post because I finally got the second disc from the second season of Weeds and couldn't wait to start watching it. We bottled our last two kits for the year, a Verdelho (never had that kind of wine before) and a Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. The Verdelho was good, but I think the Tempranillo/Cab blend might turn out to be really good--it had a nice, smoky flavor already. I can't wait to try it in a few months. Since I was a slacker with the wine this year (I really shouldn't be finishing up quite this late in the year), before you know it we'll be starting the whole process again. I found the 2008 kits on the internet last week and I think I've figured out what 4 of the 5 I will be ordering.

The wine racks are looking nice and full now. Brian's going to redo them at some point in the future (he's already created the design). The new racks will hold even more than the current ones, so I might have to make a few extra kits whenever that occurs so that they don't look bare. Nothing worse than bare wine racks. Now, when we're down to 150 bottles, it looks like there's nothing down there and, if you think about it, 150 bottles is kind of a lot of wine.

Wednesday, November 7

i said 7am

Yesterday, I was pretty tired. I spent the day at work and then came back to the hotel, ordered room service, and worked a few more hours. I probably should have gone to bed early, but I had to make some phone calls and I wanted to read a bit, so I got to bed at 11PM. My alarm was set for 6:50AM and my just-in-case wakeup call was at 7AM. I went to bed and fell right asleep. At 1AM, I was awoken by a racket--an alarm was sounding, I could hear some kind of announcement over the intercom. I looked out my window, which overlooks the interior courtyard and saw many other people doing the same thing. I also saw a bunch of people leaving the building.

I threw on some clothes and went into the hall (where the alarm was deafening). Once I got into the lobby area I could hear the announcement and it said something about an emergency and to exit the building. I stood outside for a while, but it was kind of chilly, so I went back into the lobby where a bunch of people were congregating and waited. A couple of firetrucks showed up and surrounded the building. After about 30 minutes of this, we were given the "all clear" to return to our rooms. They never actually told us what the problem was. All I heard was something about a "fire panel" needing reset.

I went back to the room and couldn't fall asleep, of course. At 2AM, I took one of my emergency benadryl that I bring along just in case I can't sleep (they always zonk me out), read a chapter from the latest Harry Potter book and finally fell asleep at 2:30.

This morning, I caught the hotel shuttle to the office and I mentioned last night to the driver. He said some drunk guy pulled a fire alarm. Nice.

So, thanks to the drunk asshat, I got to spend the day exhausted and it was quite a long day at that. I got to the office well before 8, worked all morning, then grabbed a sandwich and pretty much worked through lunch. The person I was traveling with this week (who, by the way wasn't woken up by the alarms. I don't understand how that could be possible) was unavailable for dinner both yesterday and today. When my manager found out about this, she offered to take me out for dinner tonight. The guy I report to (project lead) also came. We were supposed to go out at 5:30, but she got hung up in a call so we didn't leave the office till about 6:15, which didn't get me back here till 8:15. It was a nice dinner though and it was really nice of them to take me out.

That said, I'm still tired. I think I might try to go to bed a little earlier tonight. But, my day tomorrow shouldn't be too bad so it won't really matter if I'm tired or not--I'm coming home!

Tuesday, November 6

did you vote today?

If not, what's your excuse? I'm out of town and I even managed it--but just barely. As previously mentioned, I didn't know about this trip until two weeks before I had to make it. I was reading the newspaper one day that week and saw an article about the election, did the math, and figured out that I'd be out of town for it. I did a search online and found an absentee ballot application. Skirting the deadline, I mailed that in and received my absentee ballot a few days later.

It was actually a pretty cool way to vote because I could research the candidates online as I was making my decisions. Not that you can't research them before you go to your polling place, but this was a lot easier--no memorization! It was a pretty boring election, though. I can see why voters get apathetic. Never fear--next year will be much more interesting.

Monday, November 5

stamford. again.

Here I am in Stamford, CT again. This time for a design meeting for my next project. The one good thing I can say about this trip is that at least it's shorter than the last one. I came up here with another co-worker (we left at 11am this morning and made great time by the way--5.5 hours) and we should get out of here shortly after lunch on Thursday.

Jake took this trip particularly hard for some reason. I'm sure the fact that I've been bitching about it for two weeks (the point when I found out about it) probably doesn't help, so I'll have to keep that in mind for next time. I'm not sure why he was so upset--he goes to the grandparents' for days at a time and goes away on vacations with them as well and has no issues. I guess he doesn't like to have his world unbalanced. I can relate.

I hate to travel for work in case you haven't figured that out. I had my last job for 13 years and had to travel one time for it and I thought that was one time too many. I've had this job for a little over 6 months and this is my 3rd trip. And, I have another one planned for later this month (it's only one night, though). For a job that's supposed to have limited travel, I've definitely had my fill of it.

But, what can you do? It's a good job and I should probably shut up and be grateful that I have it.

Saturday, November 3

uncle buck

We had a "Family Movie Night" last night because why should Brian and I get to have all of the fun? We made some popcorn and the three of us watched Uncle Buck. It's been so long since I saw the movie that it was funny all over again. Brian supposedly has a whole list of movies like this up his sleeve so "Family Movie Night" is surely to become a Law family tradition.

Wednesday, October 31

halloween 2007

It's that time of the year again--when all of the little monsters put on their costumes and go trick or treating.

We were blessed with good weather this year. It was in the 60s and sunny all day. It got a little chilly after dark, but it is almost November. What do you expect?!? Given the nice weather, I was anticipating a good turnout. But, somehow, I always end up with too much candy. I only made up around 60 treat bags this year. From 6-7 we had a decent amount of kids here, but from 7-8, not so many. It was a pretty slow trickle. I always say I'm going to do less candy, but the one year I actually did that, I ran out. Go figure.

Jake went as a biker. I know--that's quite a stretch for him. The difference between how he looks today versus any other day is that today he wore a skull bandanna over his face. Oh, and he also decided to put some black face paint around his eyes. Other than that, it looks like Jake.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, October 28

ebay: you're my obsession

My latest obsession is ebay. Sure, I've bought a few things there in the past, but recently, I started selling some stuff and boy, is that fun! I have been wanting to do this for a while now, but only received the motivation to do so recently. The funny thing is I was researching prices on some wall switch plates when I discovered that old license plates are a hot commodity. Lo and behold, a bunch of old license plates came with the house (they were found above the walls of the dropped ceiling of the family room, which used to be the basement). I listed these first and got a good response. Unfortunately, I don't expect the same response to the rest of the things I plan on selling, but it's been a fun few weeks. It's hard to believe that people will pay money for something that I would've thrown away.

Saturday, October 27

300

I'd been wanting to see this movie ever since I laid eyes on the trailer. I was hoping to catch it in the theater, but the timing never worked out. It's not that I'm so busy I can't even see a movie, it's that I only frequent the Westwood Plaza Theatre and it was not playing there any weekend that we could go (that is, we didn't have something else going on and/or Jake was around). That said, I'm sure it was quite the spectacle on the big screen, but it still looked pretty darn good in 27". The story was not a complicated one--just a straight up war story. It was a fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae, as based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (the dude who brought us Sin City).

There was much CGI enhancement going on in this movie. I'm not sure if the muscles of the 300 soldiers were enhanced or not, but either way, it's fine by me. Sitting around watching 300 muscle-bound, scantily clad men for two hours isn't a bad way to spend some time. Add one margarita and some smoky black bean dip to the mix and you have yourself a perfect evening.

Monday, October 22

Saturday, October 20

australian wine tasting party

In order to christen our new bar, we held an Australian wine tasting party this evening. The party was also the impetus for actually building the bar. I'd been wanting to have a wine tasting party for months, but Brian kept saying, "wait till I build a bar", so I waited. And waited. Finally, I picked a date for the party and he got to building the bar.

I was fretting about the guest list all week because some people were definitely not going to make it and others were iffy, but it all worked out in the end. I should probably not waste the energy worrying about such things--I think I need to start doing yoga again so I can clear my mind of such nonsense. We ended up with 10 people (I was shooting for 12, so we'll call that close enough). We tried three white wines and three reds and amazingly, none of them were the same varietals. In fact, only two bottles were from the same vineyard.

I was worried that I made too much food, but it turns out that wasn't an issue--hardly any leftovers were to be found. I don't know if my internal food calculator needs to be recalibrated or if I just invited a bunch of "eaters" to the party, but either way, I'm happy with the results. There's nothing an Italian woman likes more than no leftovers, by the way.

The funny thing is that I'm not much of a socializer, but I totally love wine tasting parties--whether they are hosted at someone else's place or at mine. I really love wine and relish the opportunity to try numerous varieties. We got to try six new ones tonight. All were quite good. So, we'll call it a winner. And, it cemented the fact that I'll be hosting another one of these in the near future.

1408

While I don't know this will go down in history as a classic Stephen King movie, I do know that I liked it very much. It was a scary little story. It was about a guy who writes books about haunted places, but he doesn't believe in anything supernatural--until he visits room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 16

melancholy motorcycling

It was relatively nice yesterday and today after work, so Brian and I (and Jake, too!) took the bikes out. There were ulterior motives in place both days, but we did get a little riding in, too. Brian's been wanting to take a picture of us with the bikes by the stone arch on Menoher Boulevard. We did that yesterday and then took a short ride on the Somerset Pike. Today, Rite Aid was giving flu shots. We stopped there, but the line was too long so we left and went for a ride on 271 towards Ligonier. Riding made me a little sad, though. I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of it and now it's nearly time to put the bike away for the season.

I have a feeling it's going to be a long winter.

Saturday, October 13

28 weeks later

Zombies are scary! And, they were scarier than ever in this sequel to 28 Days Later. The basic premise is that a "rage virus" was leaked from a laboratory (in the first movie). Infection happens instantly after being in contact with a bodily fluid from an infectious person. This causes the person to go into a rage and try to kill/eat other people. By the end of the last movie things were under control--or were they? Given the carnage in this one, I'd say not. I did like the first movie better, but I enjoyed this one as well. Though I won't say how the movie ended, I will say that it's screaming for another sequel.

Thursday, October 11

pile o' rocks

So, I was reading this book on landscaping over the summer and I thought to myself, "hey, I think a fieldstone path in the back yard would be nice." Thoughts like these get me in trouble... As I was mulling over how and where to get the stones, I found out that Brian's parents were removing a small fieldstone path they had in their yard and they were also having a rock wall removed from their back yard. So, I signed us up for the rocks and Brian's been making frequent trips to Nanty Glo to pick up the loot. He probably has another trip or two to make, but here's what we have so far:

I started on my path, but am stopping here for the year. I'll finish it next spring when I get the rest of the rocks.

The path is going to lead to my future greenhouse. Jake's playhouse is currently holding that spot in the yard. I may add some more paths around the garden. Or, I may not. We'll just have to see how many rocks I have left.

To use up the rest of the rocks, I'd like to put in a pond. I've been wanting to do this, but it never seemed feasible till now. I want one just like the one described in the link. I think I can put the larger rocks to use in the pond. Of course, we need to check with the zoning in Upper Yoder to see if we're even allowed to put in a pond (zoning here is only slightly ridiculous). Given that the pond in the link is only 18 inches deep, I think it'll probably be ok. If not, I'm going to put a big pile of rocks in my yard. See how they like that.

Monday, October 8

not what they used to be

Since we were away all weekend, I scheduled today off work. But, my days off work are not what they used to be. I set my alarm for relatively early for a day off (8am). My intention was to pick up the dogs early and then hit the grocery store before lunch. But, Brian and I got to talking about Prime Design Solutions business stuff and I ended up leaving later than planned.

I didn't get home until 11 and was starving at this point. Since there was nothing to eat in the house (remember: I hadn't been to the grocery store yet), I suggested that we go to Pizza Man's in Westwood for pizza. We were already planning a bike ride for the afternoon, so we took the bikes there and had some lunch. After lunch, we did a little ride--it was a nice day for it. Perhaps the last of the season? I hope not.

Brian's business has been doing well, so we've had some discussions about buying a building and expanding things. Whether this comes to fruition or not, I can't say, but it's still pretty exciting that he's in the position where this sort of thing is an option. On the way home from our ride, we checked out a couple of buildings (from the outside) that we've had our eyes on. Just from our external inspection, we were able to rule out one of them, but the other one looks even better to us now.

After we returned home, I made up the grocery list and hit Giant Eagle in Richland. By the time I got home and put away the groceries, it was time to clean up the kitchen and make some dinner. When supper was over, we headed downtown so Jake could march in the Columbus Day parade with the scouts.

When we got home from the parade, I stained the top for the bar Brian has been working on (have I mentioned the bar before? I don't think so, but I'm too lazy to check...), then I vacuumed the house, and finally sat down for the evening. No naps for me today. Luckily I was pretty well rested from the weekend, but barring the bike ride, this wasn't necessarily the way I'd like to spend a day off work. But, it was still better than working.

Sunday, October 7

pittsburgh again

We had Steeler tickets for today's game, so we headed to Pittsburgh yesterday morning. I like going down the day before for two reasons. 1. we don't have such a long day on Sunday. 2. I don't like driving to Pittsburgh so this gives us an opportunity to do more than just go to the game while we're there.

I didn't make our reservations early enough, so the only place I could find that had an opening was The Priory. As it turns out, it was a really nice hotel--a little fancier than we're used to, but nice. It was a former monastery, so that was kind of neat. There was one drawback--they have a wedding hall there and a wedding took place yesterday. After the wedding was over (11pm) a bunch of revelers hung out in the courtyard until almost 3am and they were LOUD. Jake slept through the whole thing. I slept through most of it. But, it had Brian up for the last 2 hours of it. It didn't occur to him to call the front desk and complain (I guess we're not a bunch of complainers), but he did mention it when we checked out this morning. Needless to say, guests are not allowed in the courtyard at that time of the day, so the night manager is going to have their fingers rapped with a ruler the next time he or she shows up for work.

After checking into the hotel, we hoofed over to the Carnegie Science Center and let Jake play in the SportsWorks exhibit all afternoon. After bitching about walking all the way there (it was about 1.5 miles), what do you think his favorite thing was? The treadmill. I kid you not. We really, really wanted to see BODIES...The Exhibition, which is also set up in the SportsWorks building, but it is not open to the general public until the 8th, so I guess we'll be making another trip to Pittsburgh to see that.

We went back to the hotel for a few minutes, enjoyed a complimentary glass of wine in the courtyard, and then went looking for a place to eat supper. We ended up at Max's Allegheny Tavern, a German restaurant/bar. It was pretty good--they had quite a menu. There was a bit of a wait before we were seated because it is apparently hot spot before the Pens games, but other than that it was just fine.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and read books and watched TV. A few hours of that made us bored and sleepy so we were all in bed well before 11.

This morning, we grabbed a little bite to eat at the continental breakfast provided by the hotel and headed to the Jerome Bettis Grille 36 restaurant, where we were meeting Brian's parents and our niece at 10am. This restaurant was quite good as well--they had a nice variety on the menu and it made it hard to choose. We hung out here until game time and then went to the stadium. As soon as we sat down I knew we were going to be in for a long afternoon. It had to be 90 degrees outside. It was so hot that it made the game unpleasant to watch. I sat baking in the sun as long as I could and then Jake had to go to the bathroom, so I volunteered to take him just to get out of the sun. I sat and baked some more and then it was halftime. We all went to the concourse to get out of the sun. The kids and I stayed there for most of the 3rd quarter because none of us wanted to sit in the sun any longer. By the time we got back to our seats, Brian was talking about leaving early. We ended up leaving with about 5 minutes remaining. The game was all but wrapped up (the Steelers beat the Seahawks 21-0), so I was on board. We had to walk all the way back to the hotel to get the car and then we got the hell out of dodge. I don't know how we managed this, but we got out of the city very quickly and didn't really hit any traffic to speak of. At least the Steelers won today. I would have hated to sit through all of that for a loss. So, this was not one of the better games I've been to, but I'm sure I won't forget it.

Saturday, October 6

halloween

Last night, we did Margaritas and a movie (and popcorn, too!). We watched the original Halloween. I probably haven't seen this movie in 20 years. It didn't hold up as well as I thought it would. Perhaps it's because I know the plot inside and out (mainly because about 100 movies have copied it since then). I don't know. But, it was still a fun evening.

Wednesday, October 3

vacancy

We caught this movie last night. It was quite good--very intense. When it comes to "thriller" movies, I prefer the ones with the human monsters in them rather than plain-old monsters. This one had the human variety in it so it was right up my alley. The movie was rather short--another plus. It was a good movie for a weeknight.

Saturday, September 29

qotsa: live

Last night we headed to the Pittsburgh area to go to a concert. I learned an important lesson: never drive to Pittsburgh at sunset. The sun was a huge, glowing ball of fire in the sky and I thought my eyes were going to melt. I've never seen anything like that before and hope to never see anything like that again. I'm surprised I can see anything today.

Anyway, Jake got to attend his first rock concert last night. Queens of the Stone Age played at the Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead, which was a really cool venue. We normally arrive at concerts late, in order to skip the opening acts, but Dax Riggs was the first band of the night and we wanted to catch his set. Dax used to sing for an incredible metal band called Acid Bath. They broke up years ago. He's had a few other projects since then, but now he's performing as a solo artist. We don't like his solo stuff as much as Acid Bath, but it was still interesting to see him play. The second band, Howlin' Rain, is the reason we normally skip the opening acts. Not so good.

QOTSA definitely made it worth the trip, though. It was a perfect show. They are a great bunch of musicians and we couldn't have taken Jake to a better first concert. Our seats were in the balcony and we were probably 20 feet from the band. I've never had better seats than that at a show, that's for sure. It was a pretty tame crowd, too, so no problems there. Brian brought his camera along just in case the venue allowed it. He got lucky, so here are some pics from the concert. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27

zodiac

We watched this movie last night (and the night before--it was kind of long). It told the story of the Zodiac serial killer. It was pretty interesting, but more from a detective standpoint than from a "here's a bunch of people being murdered" standpoint. Oh, it was also directed by David Fincher (the guy who brought us Fight Club and Seven, two of my favorites), so you know it had to be good.

I was wondering how the film would end seeing that the Zodiac crimes went unsolved. They did a good job handling that in the movie, but I won't give the ending away. You'll just have to see it for yourself.

Saturday, September 22

steve

Our friend Steve came over for dinner this evening. As always, it was a pleasure. On the menu tonight was chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, oven-roasted ratatouille, white bean dip, baguette, antipasto, and marble cheesecake squares. I'm still full. Among many other things, we got to talk about some of my favorite subjects--gardening and dogs.

Brian had practice scheduled for 7pm, so Steve hung out with the "band" for a bit. I was upstairs with Jake, straightening up and playing the 20 questions game Steve brought for Jake. Boy, is that game addicting.

Anyway, I can't think of a better way to spend an evening--good food, good drink, good friends.

the exorcism of emily rose

I rented this movie to get us in the mood for Halloween. Unfortunately, it was more like watching a version of Law & Order: Exorcism Victims Unit. Ripped from the headlines, of course. The story had an interesting premise--the main focus was the trial of a priest who performed an exorcism on a woman. The woman died. The exorcism story was told in flashbacks during the trial.

Sounds interesting enough, but it wasn't.

Friday, September 21

close call

This evening we were on our way home from grocery shopping when I noticed that a police car was behind us and its lights were flashing. I pulled over at my earliest convenience, hoping that the policeman had urgent business elsewhere. But, no, he pulled right up behind me. Brian, having been pulled over numerous times in his life, grabbed the registration and insurance cards from the glove box and told me to put them, along with my license, on the dash.

Long story short, seeing that I don't even have a parking ticket to my name, I got off with a warning. Phew! But, I guess this means I will need to be extra careful for the foreseeable future. They don't give you two warnings, you know?

Watch those speed limits!

Tuesday, September 18

tastefully simple

My cousin Chris hosted a Tastefully Simple party this evening. I'm not one for attending these types of parties, but when there's food involved, I'll admit that has a certain allure for me. So, I went. It was nice to get out of the house for a change. The food was pretty good, too. Apparently I'm in the minority when it comes to cooking, though. As the saleslady was delivering her spiel, I was leafing through the catalog. She asked, "who here loves to cook?" and I dutifully raised my hand without looking up. She pointed out the fact that only one of us raised our hand and then asked, "who hates to cook?" and all of the other hands shot up. Oh well. I do love to cook, though. But, even more importantly, I love to spend money, so I got to do some of that this evening. I mostly bought stuff for dips. I plan on doing some fall entertaining, so those will come in handy.

Saturday, September 15

apt pupil

You can't change the ending! By doing just that, they missed the entire point of the story. But, that was hardly the worst thing about this movie--it was also dreadfully boring. Apt Pupil has always been one of my favorite Stephen King short stories. Coming from the same collection as The Body (aka Stand by Me) and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (aka The Shawshank Redemption), I expected a little more from this adaptation.

Thursday, September 13

winding down

I noticed that things are finally winding down around here. So it officially must be the end of summer. Sure, I still have some things growing in the garden, but mostly I'm on clean-up duty these days. My cucumber plants finally died, thank goodness, but I still have a few dozen cukes in the fridge. Note to self: don't plant as many cukes next year.

Don't get me wrong--I still have a lot to do, but none of it is pressing. This fall, I'd like to get started on the stone paths in the back yard. I think that will make a nice addition to my garden. And, as a bonus, Brian will have less grass to cut! That's always a good thing.

Even with the end of summer looming, our social schedule remains a little busy. Now that Jake's older, things seem to be in full swing again for us. I don't think we necessarily socialize as much as many people do, but, this year was pretty busy for us. Things started up in spring and haven't really let up yet. And with the holidays coming, it surely won't get any better.

If you don't think fall and winter are right around the corner, I suggest you take a motorcycle ride when the thermometer has dipped below 60 degrees. We did that last night and I thought I had frostbite, my hands were so cold (and I even wore gloves). I guess our motorcycle riding days are numbered. I'll have to be sure to take advantage of whatever days we have left.

Tuesday, September 11

the jester

Wow. I think I've had my fill of James Patterson for a while. This book was supposedly written by him and some guy called Andrew Gross. I've read at least one other of his "co-authored" books and it wasn't good, either. Here's my theory--the name James Patterson sells books. So, I think someone at Warner Books thought, hey, we can get this other guy to sort of write in the style of James Patterson and we'll say it's a collaboration. We'll sell millions of books and everyone will be rich and happy!

And, holy crap--I just wikipedia'ed the guy. Turns out I was right.

Saturday, September 8

ol' jake four eyes

dog run 2007

We did the dog run today with our new friends Dan and Dani. I wasn't feeling confident enough to ride my own bike (maybe next year) so I rode with Brian. We got to Windber around 11:30am so that gave us plenty of time to walk around and check out all of the bikes. As usual, the run was a lot of fun--it's a really nice route to take.

Afterwards, we eschewed the Dog Run party and went to Dan and Dani's for a cookout. They have three sons--one being a few years older than Jake, another one being a few years younger than Jake, and a toddler, so he had a great time playing with the two older boys. Jake claims to have drunk seven sodas. I guess we'll find out for sure in the morning if I have to change the sheets. I'm pretty sure Brian drank more beers, though. Luckily, he doesn't pee the bed anymore. It is unfortunate that Jake got my looks, but Brian's personality. We would've been better served had that been reversed, I'm sure.

Monday, September 3

chris and katie

Yesterday, we headed to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio for the wedding of Brian's cousin Chris and his now wife Katie. The trip out there wasn't bad, but we had to drop off the dogs at the Cozy Inn in Stahlstown so it took a little longer that it would have otherwise. We got there about an hour before we had to leave for the ceremony so we were able to relax a little bit before getting ready to go. The ceremony was nice. It was in a Methodist church, so there wasn't a lot of fooling around--those Methodists get to the point rather quickly.

The reception was conveniently located in the hotel we were staying in, so we went back to our room after the ceremony and relaxed before we had to go downstairs for the reception, which was very nice. I talked to Brian's dad most of the evening. Brian and I also made the rounds and talked to his other relatives that were in attendance. Brian's sister and her family were there, too, so it was good to see them.

This morning, there was a little coffee and donut breakfast for the wedding guests, so we caught something to eat down there before heading home. I guess I can take the rest of the day and do some things around the house, but not before I take a nap. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?) for Brian, he has so much work to do for his business that he has to work this afternoon. I took tomorrow off (I have to pick up the dogs in the morning) so between today and tomorrow, I should be in pretty good shape for the week.

Saturday, September 1

it's a festival

Last night, we went to the FolkFest and met up with Brian's new friend Dan and his kids. Dan's wife was working at the FolkFest so she was unable to hang out with us, but she did stop in to say 'hi'. They seem like really nice people. Anyway, we hung out for a bit and talked, but Dan's youngest kid was getting cranky because it was past his bedtime, so they headed home. We walked around for a little longer and ran into a few more people we knew, then headed home ourselves.

Today, we went to the Ethnic Festival in the West End. Brian actually had to meet one of the vendors there because he was interested in a website for his business, so Jake and I tagged along. While Brian was in his meeting, Jake and I walked around. After the meeting was over, we ate lunch at St. Mary's church and then called it a day. There wasn't much going on down there at that early hour.

Brian's friend Jennifer Drummey is playing at the FolkFest tomorrow. I would've liked to have caught her set, but we have other commitments tomorrow afternoon, unfortunately. Maybe next year...

Friday, August 31

sophia gets a boob job

Brian's motorcycle made a trip to the shop this week for the installation of some auxiliary lighting. New headlights, if you will. Brian says this is a safety feature--it will make him more visible in the day and allow him to see more at night. But, I think he did it just because it looks cool.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 29

back to school


It's that time of the year. Today marked Jake's first day in second grade. Brian got him on the bus this morning and it was all peace and quiet after that. He had a good day at school. This quite contrasted last year when he started complaining, in July, about having to go back to school. This evening, he and his buddies wreaked havoc on the neighborhood. I think they had more fun today than they did all summer. Perhaps it was school that made them realize that summer's almost over, so might as well make the most of it.

Monday, August 27

the simpsons movie

We took Jake to the Westwood Plaza Theatre this evening to see The Simpsons Movie. The movie was good--it was like watching a 90 minute version of the television show. If you like it, you will surely like the movie. We also had supper there--that's what I like about that place. Good stuff. I got my usual gyro, Jake had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and Brian had a burger. There were surprisingly few people watching the movie (less than 10). I thought it was going to be packed. Shows what I know. I guess this was Jake's last hurrah before going back to school on Wednesday.

Saturday, August 25

shilling popcorn

Jake's selling popcorn for the scouts. Apparently the popcorn sale is equivalent to the Girl Scout cookie sale. Though, I'd rather he sold cookies (yum!). I did have some of the popcorn last year and it was good, but it's rather expensive. Anyway, if anyone wants some--you know where to get it. No need to feel obligated as he's already sold the minimum amount between us and his grandparents. But, if you're jonesing for some overpriced popcorn, I can hook you up.

the exploding tomato trick

My garden fared pretty well this year. As usual, some things did better than others. My two experiments--broccoli rabe and celery--did not pan out. Most of the celery went to seed (though I guess there's still a chance I'll get something from it) and the broccoli rabe was devoured by insects. I'll probably try the broccoli rabe again, but I think I'll pass on the celery. My garlic took a hit this year. I don't know what happened with that. Probably 1/3 of it didn't germinate. But, I plant a lot, so I still got a lot. My tomatoes were doing so-so. I had a bunch that were ripe early this week, but I didn't get a chance to pick them until after all of the storms. When I went outside, I found most of them had burst on the vine (presumably from all of the water). I was not happy about this. The plum tomatoes came though relatively unscathed, so I froze a bunch of those this week. But, I was really hoping for more tomatoes this year.

Of the three years I planted potatoes, I had the best harvest this year, so I will continue with that practice. My peppers did great. I like to freeze my extras, so you can never have too many. And speaking of too much of a good thing, I had a bumper cucumber crop this year. The past few years, I haven't had much luck with them, so I planted twice as many as usual this year. Unfortunately for me, this year proved to be a good cucumber year so I had dozens and dozens and dozens of cukes to get rid of this summer. I also got a nice crop of carrots. Carrots are one of my favorite things to harvest because you never know what you're going to get until you pull them from the ground.

Everything else did fine. I'm trying an experiment for the fall--the other week, I planted some broccoli rabe, beets, carrots, and radishes. We'll see how that goes. It's too cold up here to have a 4 season garden, but if I can squeeze in a few extra months, that would make me happy.

Tuesday, August 21

dell sucks

My Dell laptop is less than 18 months old, yet out of warranty. The other week the +/= key broke off the keyboard--the clip that holds it on is the culprit. I found a source on Amazon that sells individual keys, so I ordered a new one (at a price). Additionally, my left mouse button on the built-in mouse has been acting screwy, so I took it apart today to find that there's a part broken on it, too. It is now totally out of commission and I'm not sure how to fix it (besides plugging a mouse into the USB port).

Up to this point, I've been pretty happy with the Dell products I've purchased. But, no more. Next time, I'm buying a Mac.

Saturday, August 18

italian wine party

Brian's parents hosted an Italian wine tasting party last night. The food was good, the drink was good. What more can you ask for? We got to try a lot of nice wines. I just love these parties! We're going to have to host one soon...

Tuesday, August 14

mini vacation

While Jake was away, Brian and I headed to York on his bike. That's right--I left mine at home. I'm not quite ready for prime time yet. We left at lunchtime on Sunday and arrived in York just before supper. We went out to eat with my friend Laura at a really nice restaurant called El Serrano. It was great to see her again as it had been a long time. After dinner and the chit-chatting was over, Brian and I hung out in the hotel room and read for a little bit. Then we went to a restaurant by the hotel and had a nightcap.

On Monday morning, we went to the Harley Davidson factory and signed up for the factory tour. While we were waiting for our turn, we checked out the little Harley museum they had. Among other things, they had all sorts of bikes you could sit on. It was pretty fun. I tried to get Brian to sit in a sidecar they had displayed, but he wouldn't go for it. He's a party pooper. In the meantime, he took pictures of me on every bike I sat on. Lucky for you, you'll be spared from all but one of them in our slide show. We didn't get a lot of pictures this trip, but that's because cameras were not permitted in our main focus, the factory tour. It is unfortunate they don't permit photography on the tour because it was really something to see, but I guess I can understand why they don't.

Today could hardly be called vacation, but we didn't work, so I guess it was a vacation for us. The day started off by picking the pups up from the Cozy Inn. Next up was a nice bike ride up 271, turning around at the Laurel Trail. This time, I did ride my own bike. We stopped for pizza at Pizza Man on our way home. A little later, we ran over to Sam's club to pick up some stuff. They had a coupon in last week's paper for a one day membership. I was there one other time, but I didn't have as much fun this time. Perhaps it was because we were in a hurry because Brian had a meeting set up for 4:00. Anyway, I think I'm good on Sam's Club for a while. I do wish we had a Costco around here, though. After supper we went outside and trimmed the hedges. That took the rest of the evening and here I am now. Do I really have to go to work tomorrow?

Saturday, August 11

another party

Doug had another one of his monthly booze parties tonight. This evening's theme was vodka, though everyone I saw was drinking beer (perhaps we didn't stay late enough). We had fun like we always do. Kids were invited to this one, so Jake had a blast playing with all of the kids that were there. We had to cut this party a little short, though, because we had to drop Jake off at my parent's this evening because they are all leaving for the beach in the morning.

As a bonus, one of my former co-workers now makes wine and she wanted to swap bottles with me. I came out on the better end of this deal--we were supposed to swap six bottles, but she brought me seven. I can't wait to try all of the new wines. I'm going to try to hold out a little bit because they were all bottled this year and could stand some aging. But, I'm guessing the first bottle won't make it till the end of the week before we try it.

Doug's parties always seem to be ridiculously fun after dark. Maybe it is all of the drunk people--I don't know. He already has plans for a September bash so I'll have to test my theory then and stay late for that one.

Friday, August 10

cookout tonight

There is this couple at our church that we've been friendly with since we've been going there. We're always talking about getting together, but before today, it never happened. So, we made the first move and invited them over for a cookout this evening. They have two young kids, a girl and a boy--2 and 4 respectively. They're a really nice family and it was a very enjoyable evening.

Two of the neighbor kids showed up at some point. You should have heard the racket! Five kids can make a lot of noise. It's hard to believe someone didn't call the cops.

The evening ended with a marshmallow roast in the chiminea and Jake has a bellyache to prove it.

Thursday, August 9

we're not in kansas anymore

Or are we? I was about ready to head for the storm cellar today. We got hit with two major thunderstorms--one this morning and one this afternoon. When this morning's storm rolled in, I thought it was the end of the world. It was that dark. I had to shut my work pc down for about 15 minutes because I didn't want it to get fried.

Then, this afternoon, another one rolled in. Brian and Jake were heading out for a bicycle ride and I checked the weather only to find that another storm was going to arrive in a few minutes. So I went to tell them and I returned to see all of the office pcs in various stages of reboot. I guess the power must've flickered when I was away. I called it a sign and called it a day--it was just about quitting time anyway.

The garden/yard is a little worse for the wear from these storms. Everything is tipping over. One of my tomato plants is broken in half. Our one (newer) tree in the front was just about uprooted--I need to take care of that tonight (somehow). I was planning on planting a fall crop in my garden this year. The beginning of August is the time to do that, but the weather just has not been cooperating, so the crop has not been planted.

We would've had one fatality from the storm had it not been for Brian's quick work. This morning I went downstairs to grab a snack and noticed there was a bird stuck in the bird feeder! The bird feeder has been empty for a few days so this bird must've crawled under the glass partition while looking for something to eat. Due to all of the rain we've been getting, the top of the bird feeder was stuck shut, so Brian had to break one of the parts in order to get it to open. I guess that's another item he can add to his "to do" list--fix the bird feeder. Though I think this little incident will probably work in the bird's favor--I bet Brian doesn't let the feeder get empty again.

Saturday, August 4

anniversary party

My godparents (who also happen to be relatives) were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary today with a party at their home. So, we headed out to Alexandria, PA (near Huntington) for the occasion. They have a really nice property on the Juniata river and a fantastic house. Anyway, the party was held outside and there were quite a few people there. We had a nice time and they seemed genuinely happy that we came, so I'm glad we were able to do so.

the last kiss

**Spoiler Alert** We didn't like this one. It was a story about a guy who cheated on his pregnant girlfriend. She takes him back for some reason I can't figure out. There were a bunch of other bad relationships showcased in the film as well. All in all, one unpleasant movie. After Zach Braff's wonderful Garden State, I was expecting a little more. Of course, unlike that movie, he neither directed nor wrote this one. Maybe he should think about doing that again in the next movie he stars in because otherwise, I'll probably pass on it.

Thursday, August 2

licensed to maim

I did it--I passed the riding test and got my motorcycle license today. I cut it pretty close, but there was a reason for that. On the last run of our last practice exercise, I dumped the bike. We were doing emergency stops and my front brake locked up on the wet pavement and down we went. The bike was ok. I was ok (except for my bruised ego and a few bruises that appeared on my legs after the adrenaline wore off). Life went on. I could've easily gone home at that point. I was so worried about passing the test that dropping the bike hadn't even occurred to me. Anyway, the test was next, and I figured I didn't have anything else to lose so I stuck it out. What's the worst that could happen? Drop the bike? Nope--already covered that.

Dropping the bike made me the pariah of the group. No one would look at me or talk to me after it happened (better safe than sorry--these sorts of things could be contagious). We had a little break while the instructors were setting up for the test. I went to my car to get a drink of water. When I returned to the group, someone finally summoned up the courage to speak to me and they asked me if I got hurt. I made some smart ass comment, everyone laughed, and that was the end of that. I do feel that I will be remembered well by this group of people, though it's not for anything I'd want to be remembered for.

So, the test was next. I didn't figure I had a chance in hell of passing. Prior to today, I thought I'd do ok on it. I knew I was going to flub the figure eight. Luckily, or unluckily, that was first. I wasn't even close to staying inside the box, but I didn't put my foot down or stall like some of the others did, so it wasn't a total loss. Next was the swerve test. I did fine on this. Then came the dreaded emergency stop. I messed it up somewhat, but that was to be expected given the circumstances. Last was the two curve test. I got dinged a few points on this one, but nothing major.

While I didn't do as well as I'd hoped, I blame that on my earlier indiscretion. The stress of the test did a number of most of the people, from what I noticed. A lot of them were messing things up that they did perfectly in the practice runs. I think everyone passed except one woman who had never ridden prior to this class. I don't feel I could've passed the class without some practice riding first so you can't take that away from her. She did perfect figure eights, though--go figure.

They say there are two kinds of bikers--those who drop their bikes and those who will. I was hoping to fall into the latter category, but, like my instructor said today "at least you got that out of your system."

Wednesday, August 1

the laws

If we were Simpsons.

Get yours here.

Monday, July 30

100%, baby

That's what I scored on my written motorcycle safety test I took this evening. Phew! I have to say, I wasn't all that worried about the written test. You just needed 40 out of 50 to pass. I probably could've done that before I even studied. A lot of the questions were common sense.

Now, if I just pass the riding test on Thursday, I'll be a happy camper.

Sunday, July 29

my i don't have to run day

Today was pretty busy for a Sunday. Before I get into that, I need to start with last weekend. Brian and I were going to go for a ride last Saturday when my bike stalled and wouldn't start again. This has been happening since I got it, so we decided to take the carburetor apart to see if there were any problems with it. I'll bet you didn't know we were mechanics! Well, we weren't until we bought this bike...Anyway, there was some gunk in it, but everything inside seemed to be in working order. So, we cleaned it up and put it back together. We had to order a new gasket for it so we couldn't put it back on the bike until this weekend. Brian did that yesterday, but we didn't have time to finish the job because we had to go to John's house for supper. So, we set our alarms for early this morning and got it put back together. Surprisingly, the bike still runs! Time will tell if there are still issues with it, though. It did seem to be running better for Brian when he tried it out.

The reason we got up early today is that Brian went to a motorcycle rally in Morgantown, WV this morning. One of the other cub scout dads is a "biker" and invited Brian to go with him and his family today. He invited Jake and I as well, but we had other plans so we were unable to go. Brian had a great time. The only downside was hitting a thunderstorm on the way home this evening.

While Brian was at the motorcycle event, Jake and I went to visit my parents. They were away much of last month on a trip out west and we hadn't seen them in about a month so we went over there for a visit today. My mom made a yummy lunch and we hung out for a bit. Then we went to see my cousin Chris's new house. Her husband pretty much built it himself over the course of the past year. It was very nice. And very big.

On our way home from my parent's, we had to pick up some groceries. Once we got home and got everything situated, I kicked back on the couch for 30 minutes and took a little snooze. After that, I started working on my "homework" for my motorcycle safety class. In the midst of that, Brian got home. After talking to him, I finished my homework and we met downstairs to work out. Our neighbors are having a fire this evening and we're all invited, so it's time for me to head over there as I will be the last one from our household to arrive.

Saturday, July 28

happy birthday, viola

We spent an enjoyable evening at John and Viola's. In case you couldn't figure out from the title of this post, we were there to celebrate Viola's birthday. Dinner was great--they did up these pork and veggie kebabs that were delicious. There were also a number of tasty side dishes. In fact, they had so much food that I didn't even get a chance to taste everything.

I could have just as easily titled this post "puppy fever" because they got a new puppy yesterday. It's a lab/rottweiler/doberman mix, but it looks just like a dobe. It is so cute! Jake had a lot of fun playing with it. So much, in fact, that he now wants a puppy. I mean, he really wants a puppy. I sometimes think I want a puppy, then I remember what a pain in the neck they are and I get over it.

man on fire

Where have all of the movie reviews gone, you might ask? Well, I cut our subscription back to two movies per month in the summer and we rented a couple episodes of The Wire since the last movie we saw, hence the lack of reviews.

This was the kind of movie we like. It was a movie about vengeance. And it starred my man Denzel Washington. How could it not be good? The start of the movie was a little slow, but that was necessary for the plot. The ending was so-so--Brian felt cheated, but I thought it was ok. I like a good action movie and this movie definitely fell in that category.

Thursday, July 26

half way there

I completed my 2nd riding class this evening. That's it for the week. We practiced the dreaded figure 8 tonight. Some people totally couldn't do it, others did well. I managed to do one properly. I'm sure that'll be the first and last time for that. It'll be on the test next Thursday, so hopefully I won't screw it up too much then. I'm glad to be half done with the class. I'll be even happier next week when I'm totally done with it.

Tuesday, July 24

motorcycle safety makes me tired

I started my motorcycle safety course last night. The class runs for two weeks. On Monday nights, there is a classroom class from 6-8:45 and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the class is taught on motorcycles, from 6-8:30. Last night's class wasn't particularly illuminating--I think this is because I've been reading about motorcycle safety ever since Brian started riding a few years ago. This is not a bad thing, though. And since I've been riding since last month, this evening's course was a little slow (the course assumes you've never ridden a motorcycle before). By the end of the evening, we did make it into 2nd gear, though. Once tonight's class was over, I realized I was exhausted--it makes me glad I didn't sign up for the weekend riding course. While there are only 2 riding classes for that, they are 5 hours a piece!

Anyway, there are definitely some things I need to keep in mind while I'm riding so that I don't develop any bad habits. The riding portion of the class will help me with that. I'm looking forward to having an evening off tomorrow, if only to rest. I even took a half day off work today so that I wouldn't get stressed out about my lack of "evening time" this week. I guess I should have spent some of those hours taking a nap.

Sunday, July 22

stupidity level=high

Yesterday afternoon, I let Lizzy outside to do her business. Soon after I let her out, she went into a barking/squealing frenzy because someone was walking their dog down our street. I reeled her in and put her in the living room with Alice, who was also barking excitedly. I waited for things to die down and then let Alice outside. She was only out there for a few minutes when Lizzy launched another barking/squealing frenzy. I looked outside and the same people were walking their dog down the street again. What the heck? Anyway, I went outside to get Alice who wasn't even barking. But, as soon as I let her in the house, she launched her barking routine (presumably because Lizzy was in a tizzy). Ridiculous.

Saturday, July 21

pj & lisa

Our friends PJ and Lisa came over last night. I think everyone had a really good time. I did up some BBQ and we ate and drank until it got dark. And then we huddled around the chiminea--it was rather chilly last night--and drank some more. As a side note: I really like how our back yard area is turning out--it's very nice for entertaining. The new table, chairs, and umbrella I purchased this year aren't hurting anything. I guess I'll just have to keep chipping away at it until it's exactly how I want it.

One thing I like about PJ and Lisa is that we can talk politics with them. I don't normally like talking politics because it is hard to find people who share your views. And, there's no use in talking to people who don't share your views unless you like a good debate. I, myself, do not, so I tend to keep my mouth shut when the subject comes up. It's just nice to be able to talk to someone other than Brian about politics, is what I'm trying to say.

But, we had plenty of other things to talk about, too, and that's what made it a fun evening. Well, that and the booze...

Tuesday, July 17

chili's

Brian's parents got us a Chili's gift certificate for our anniversary this year, so we went there for supper this evening. We even took Jake. We're nice like that. Luckily for us, Chili's sufficiently passed their health inspection such that I would eat there. It was our first time there. The food was pretty good, but not much appealed to me on their menu. Maybe it was because I went to their site to check out their menu beforehand and I came upon their 'nutritional info' sheet and found that most of their meals offer enough calories for an entire day. At any rate, both Brian and I ordered fajitas and had enough left over for tomorrow's lunch, so we'll call it a good deal and leave it at that.

Sunday, July 15

the weekend

Nothing much went on this weekend, but as a whole it turned out to be pretty productive. Friday and Saturday, the usual stuff happened--washing clothes, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and the like. Brian and I did manage to sneak in a quick motorcycle ride yesterday. That was fun, but entirely too short. Today, Brian installed the window trim in Jake's room. It turned out great. In between helping him with that, I did some work around the house and ran Jake across the street to St. Clement's annual car show/festival. We checked out the cars and Jake spent his money playing crappy games for crappy prizes, so he was happy.

After this evening's storm, we went outside and did some maintenance on my bike. Seeing that the bike is 20 years and the maintenance history is unknown, we're doing everything in the book. My plan is to complete all of the maintenance before we have to put the bike away for the winter. There's a lot to do and we're done with all of the easy stuff, so the rest will be a little more time-consuming.

Another weekend shot to hell. I can't believe I have to go to work tomorrow.

Thursday, July 12

before you eat out again

You might want to consult this list. You can look up any place in Pennsylvania that serves food and see how they fared with their health inspection. After looking at the list for Cambria and Somerset counties, I know there are some places that I won't be frequenting again. Blech. If only I would've had this list before I got food poisoning last fall...

Wednesday, July 11

dinner tonight

Judy graced us with her presence for dinner this evening. It had been a while since we'd hung out, so I invited her over tonight. As usual, we had a good time catching up on things. As I always say, we should really do this more often.

Tuesday, July 10

like a fish

Brian's parents were bound and determined to teach Jake to swim this year. He's been there a few times already this summer, but today was the day he finally swam. They used the old standby, bribery, in order to accomplish their task. Jake's big thing with swimming is that he doesn't like to put his head in the water. So, they told him they'd give him a pair of swimming goggles if he did just that. Last night, he did it. And today he was swimming. Apparently that was his last big hurdle. Jake even called us this afternoon to tell us how well he was doing in the pool--he couldn't wait for this evening so that he could show us. I could not believe how well he did. He was even swimming under water. It was pretty cool. I'm sure he'll get even better as the summer goes on.

Saturday, July 7

gewurz and shiraz

Last night we bottled two batches of wine. The gewurztraminer turned out great--it's probably the best white wine we've ever made. I was quite pleased with it. I can't wait to see what it tastes like once it's had a chance to age a little, not that it needs it. The shiraz was good, too. It had a nice, smoky taste. But, the red wines never taste that great at bottling time, so I'm sure it will benefit greatly from aging. My wine racks were looking a little bare, so this happened just in time. I have two more kits sitting downstairs. I guess I'll need to get on those soon.

Thursday, July 5

blaze

This is Stephen King's latest book. It was written under his Richard Bachman moniker way back before Carrie hit the pages. I have to say, it was a quick read. I guess you could say I, uh, blazed through it.

I love Stephen King's ability to create a 3 dimensional character and this book did that quite well. So many books I've read have 1 dimensional characters in them. Any time I read a book where the character is fleshed out, I normally enjoy it no matter what the genre. This book did not fall under the horror category, either. It was a story of a mentally challenged guy who kidnapped a baby in the hopes of collecting a large ransom. As you can imagine, the story ended badly for one of the characters, but I won't say who.

This book made me remember why I've always liked Stephen King so much. I only wish he was still writing stuff like this. Beyond the Dark Tower series, I haven't been enjoying his books as much as I used to. Still, a bad Stephen King book is better than most of the other stuff out there.

Wednesday, July 4

the 4th

We didn't have any plans for today and that's just how I like it. Brian had to work today (his boss is a real bastard), so Jake and I spent the day doing whatever it is we do. After supper, we took a ride on the motorcycles. I went out onto Goucher Street for the first time. We mostly rode around the side streets, though. Things went pretty well, but I'll feel a lot better about things once I have a bunch of experience under my belt. Jake's waiting for the fireworks to start. The guys are planning on watching them from the porch roof. I'll believe it when I see it.

Two more days till the weekend!

Sunday, July 1

the prestige

Zzzz. This movie wasn't terribly interesting. It wasn't terrible, either. Maybe I just don't find the lives of turn of the century magicians all that interesting. The twist at the end was rather unique (Brian missed it because he fell asleep), but I think they could have cut a lot from this movie and it would have made it better.

Saturday, June 30

cookout

We had the neighbors over for a cookout yesterday. It was a lot of fun. They have three kids that Jake plays with all of the time, so I thought it was time that the adults got together to talk while the kids played. Evidently the evening was a success, as they stayed until midnight. We just had the typical BBQ fare--hot dogs, burgers, and chicken. We have a ton of food left over. I'm not sure how that always happens.

Thursday, June 28

happy anniversary to us

Brian and I celebrated our 11th anniversary today. All three of us went to dinner at Numero Uno to celebrate. We all enjoyed our dinners. The portions were kind of small if you compare it to other restaurants, but I thought they were just right. I mean, just how much food do you really need to eat, anyway? The prices were quite reasonable as well. We'll definitely go there again.

As for anniversary gifts, I got Brian a piece of luggage for his bike (this will come in handy for the motorcycle trip we're taking in August) and he got me a pair of motorcycle boots (this will come in handy when I'm riding a motorcycle). So, for all of you who didn't know, the traditional 11th anniversary gift is motorcycle-related.

Wednesday, June 27

by the light of the moon

This was another Dean Koontz novel. I think I've had my fill of him for a while. The book was ok, but it took me over a month to read, so that tells me it wasn't that great. No matter how busy I am, if I'm reading a really good book, I'll finish it quickly. This book kind of fell back on his old formula--there was a guy who met a girl and they were both in trouble and they overcame some evil and everyone lived happily ever after. The end.

Sunday, June 24

rum party

We went to a rum party at Doug's last night. The food theme was New Orleans, so I made my famous muffuletta for the occasion. Apparently it was a hit because it didn't last long. I made an extra one for us, so we'll be enjoying that for the next few days. The party was fun and the food was good (I do love that Nawlins cooking).

After spending a few hours at the party, we decided to head back downtown and check out more motorcycles. Here's a slideshow of the pics Brian took on Friday. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 23

thunder in the valley 2007

It's that time of the year! Yesterday, Brian took the afternoon off and he and Jake spent the afternoon downtown gazing at motorcycles. Normally I would join them, but I can't quite take any time off in my new job, so I spent the afternoon in our home office, slaving away at the computer screen.

After supper, Brian, Jake, and I took a few spins around the block on our bikes (As an aside, I think I'm progressing pretty well with the bike riding, but I still can't imagine driving in traffic at this point. Of course, last week, I couldn't imagine driving on a road, and the week before that, I couldn't imagine driving with my feet on the footpegs.), then we got ready and headed back downtown to catch some Thunder. We wanted to catch the fireworks later that evening, so we parked near City View and took the inclined plane downtown.

Jake was hungry so we got him an order of fries. He learned an important lesson yesterday evening--just because someone gives you a giant order of fries doesn't mean you have to attempt to eat them all. So, he spent the rest of the night with a bellyache. We sat down for a few minutes to give him a break and he took the opportunity to check out this cool chopper. The owner saw him, came over, and told him to hop on. I think that really made Jake's night. Shortly after this, we went back up the inclined plane and waited for the fireworks to start. The Clarks concert ran a little late, so the fireworks were late in starting, but they were worth the wait. I think they ran for about 30 minutes, which is quite long for fireworks. A lot of people left before they ended. We almost did, but Brian ran into someone he knew, so we were stuck there till the end.

Anyway, it was a fun evening. We'd like to go down there again today, but we have a bunch of other things going on, so I'm not sure we'll make it.

Tuesday, June 19

just like the good old days

I signed up for home delivery of milk today (through Vale Wood Farms). So, the milkman's going to be coming to my house on Friday! Isn't that cool? I think so. When I was growing up, the same dairy delivered milk to my parent's house, but that is not the reason I signed up. Thanks to my friend Steve, I'm more concerned with the food I'm putting on my table these days. I've been making changes as I can and I thought this would be an easy one to make.

The only difference between now and the days of yore is that I have to put a cooler outside--no milk box will be provided. I'm sure I will be paying a little more for this "milk delivery" privilege, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Sunday, June 17

i need a day off

What happened to the weekend? Yesterday, I got up, washed some clothes, then headed to Connellsville for a bridal shower. No sooner did I get home and we had to head to my parents for my dad's Father's Day visit. We had dinner there and then headed home. Brian went to practice and I went outside to stain the shed. I did that for about an hour (Jake helped, too!) and then went inside to straighten up the house, finish putting away clothes and to finish the Father's Day gifts Brian made for our dads. After that, I sat down for a few minutes before I had to go to bed.

Today, we went to church and then Brian's dad came over for brunch. Later in the afternoon, I had another bike lesson (turning and 2nd gear were on today's schedule!). Brian went out for a little ride as I relaxed on the couch. When he got back, we had supper and then headed outside to stain the shed. We completed the shed, but still have three-quarters of the playhouse left. That's on the schedule for tomorrow evening.

Anyway, I need a day off.