Tuesday, May 21

weight pulling

Last week when I was volunteering at the shelter, the director, Jess, asked me if I'd be interested in taking Cinnamon to a 6 week weight pulling class in Latrobe, since I have a good rapport with the dog. Since it's my goal for 2019 to see her get adopted, I jumped at the opportunity.

It seems the shelter was part a pet expo recently as was the guy who teaches the class. He has been following Cinnamon's story and offered her a free spot in his upcoming class. He feels it might help her with some of her issues.

Today was the first class. Jess also attended which was a good thing as Cinnamon was a bit of a handful. Still, I thought things went pretty well and Cinnamon was tired at the end of the class. Mission accomplished.

You might be thinking, "what is weight pulling?" Well, it's a competitive sport where dogs pull carts of bricks. It's a bit controversial because some dog fighters use weight pulling to condition their dogs. And, others think that dogs should not be made to do the activity. But since we're not getting into this to be competitive, I don't really see the harm in it.

Cinnamon isn't the only one who will be sleeping soundly tonight. The class was only an hour, but I'm exhausted.

Sunday, May 12

goings on

A lot has been happening, not the least of which are my suspect Ancestry.com results. They're trying to tell me I'm 38% French. Can you believe it?!? I also got 36% Italian, 9% Eastern European/Russian, 5% German, and a bunch of other minor random stuff. Jake took his test before I did and got 17% French and we were blaming it on Brian's family until I got my results. The weird thing is that my Mom came back as 98% Italian and 2% French and my Dad doesn't have any French, so something is not right. They will occasionally go back and update the results, so I'll be interested to hear the final verdict on this situation.

Yesterday, my niece graduated from college. To celebrate, my in-laws took everyone to Asiago's for dinner. I don't like eating out all that much, but I do like that restaurant.

We had everyone over today for a Mother's Day/Jake's birthday celebration. So, I've been cooking all weekend. Things turned out nice, but I didn't have a firm headcount so there was a lot of extra food (because one thing I will never be accused of is not having enough food). But that's ok because I could use a break from cooking for a few days.

Tuesday, May 7

fall leaves

We have a couple of oak trees in our front yard that always drop their leaves super late so there's never an opportunity to rake them in the fall. I've been chipping away at them ever since the weather improved, and I'm happy to say that I was able to finish that task this evening. So, now I can move on to more pressing tasks such as the perpetual weeding that needs done all summer. Sigh.

On a positive note, I got a new weed whacker this week and boy is it making that task easier. The old one was electric and the guard was always falling off, so it was a bit of a pain to use. The new one runs on a rechargeable battery and made quick work of whacking weeds this evening.

Sunday, May 5

boy erased

This was a pretty good movie about parents (played by Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) who send their teenage son (played by up-and-comer Lucas Hedges) to a conversion therapy program (guess what? it didn't work). That's really all there was to it.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, April 29

brit floyd

Brit Floyd is on tour again and did their usual stop in Johnstown last night, so we went. Same as last time, the show was fantastic. They got a bit theatrical this time around by acting out certain songs, and that was a little weird, but overall it was a great experience.

Sunday, April 28

short lived victory

Not long after fixing the dishwasher last month, it started acting up again. This time, the problem was more difficult to diagnose. And, not wanting to spend even more money on it, we decided to get a new dishwasher, which was delivered last week. The good news is that we don't have to hand wash dishes anymore. The bad news is that our pocketbook is a bit lighter this week.

Monday, April 22

easter traditions

Every year, Jake gets an Easter basket of candy and we have an Easter egg hunt in the house. Every year before Easter, he expresses his interest in both and makes sure we are still planning on doing them. Unlike previous years, he had a helper this year--Esme rooted out a couple of eggs for him. It was so cute! Living with dogs all of these years, you'd think one would have helped him out earlier. Jake was concerned that the hunt was getting too easy since it takes place in our living room and dining room. However, much like previous years, it took him a while to find the last few. And, we did manage to find a few new hiding places this year. I wonder if he'll still expect this when he's 30?

Sunday, April 21

a star is born

Everyone already knows what this movie is about since it's the umpteenth telling of it. I will say, it was quite a good film. I especially liked how they did the vocals and music live (instead of lip syncing--that was one of the things The Dirt did horribly). And, while I'm not a fan of pop music and thus have not had much exposure to Lady Gaga, it's obvious that she is a very talented musician and actor (I also rather enjoyed her acting in American Horror Story). Kudos also to Bradley Cooper for learning how to play guitar and sing for this movie. They were totally robbed at the Oscars. And despite myself, I love the song Shallow. So sue me.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, April 18

seven

I got tattoo number seven this evening. It's an American traditional style anchor with a couple of flowers around it (I am now officially on an American traditional kick). Brian designed the tattoo for me. I like to think that it pays homage to my penchant for swearing. 

I went to Devin at Lemon Bomb again. She also volunteers at the shelter, so we always have lots to talk about (that is, dogs).

And, I have an appointment for my next tattoo, which she will be designing. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's going to be a knitting related skull thing. Trust me, it's going to be awesome.

Monday, April 15

the dirt

This was an entertaining movie about the history of Motley Crue. It didn't delve too deep, though (it just hit the high--or low--points that we've all heard about already). Stylistically speaking, I wasn't a fan, but it did make me long for the gold old days of hair metal.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, April 9

the killing hour

Not sure where this book came from, but it was in my pile, so I read it. It was about a killer who would take two women, kill one of them and leave the second woman somewhere remote. He would leave clues with the first woman as to the location. There were a lot of characters at the start, so it was a little confusing, but I figured things out as time went on and it ended up being fairly interesting.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, March 31

widows

This was a pretty good heist flick. It starts off with a group of four thieves getting killed during a robbery. They gave a little background on all of them to make us realize this was going to leave the wives in a financial lurch. So, the wives end up getting together to pull off the next heist. Not exactly a thought provoking film, but entertaining nonetheless.

My rating: 3.5/5

Friday, March 29

foster for a day

As mentioned in a recent post, I was recently accepted into the "Foster for a Day" program at the shelter. I had yesterday off, and since the weather was nice, I decided to give it a try. I took Cinnamon out for a couple of hours in the afternoon. We took a long walk at Sandyvale and then went to the office to meet everyone. After that, we hung out in the back yard of my house for a bit. I intended on doing some yard work, but that didn't really happen.

Since I like to be on a schedule, I'm going to shoot for doing this once a month. It's going to be largely weather-dependent because I can't bring a dog into the house with our critters (they would not be too happy about it. actually, it would be a disaster). Also, I don't want to take just any random dog out, so it will have to be one I've walked at least a few times. So, I guess I'll have to play it by ear a bit, but I did really enjoy today's outing and am looking forward to doing it again.

Thursday, March 28

better than the maytag man

Late last week, our dishwasher started making horrible noises during the wash cycle. It was still working, but was running at an unbelievably loud volume. After doing some research, I narrowed it down to two possible issues. One easy (and cheap) and the other more difficult (and not cheap). I looked into the easy option, and it, of course, was not it. So, I ended up purchasing a new circulation pump motor. Well, it arrived yesterday, so Brian left work a little early in order to install it before we needed to run the dishwasher again after supper.

Once he removed the old motor, we knew that we had the correct part--the old motor was all rusty (how the motor casing got wet in the first place is a problem I refuse to think about right now). Anyway, he got the new motor installed and the dishwasher is now running more quietly than ever. And, he didn't charge a service fee!

Saturday, March 23

kathleen madigan

Back in my late teens/early 20s, I used to watch a lot of stand-up comedy because who doesn't like to laugh? One of the comics I remember from back in the day was Kathleen Madigan. When I found out she was coming to The Palace Theatre, I knew we had to go. Jake and Brian love stand-up as well, so the three of us went to Greensburg last night to see her. And, it was a great show! I laughed for an hour straight. Brian and Jake really enjoyed it, too. I'm pretty sure that Jake was the youngest person there. It seems like every time we go, the place is filled with 40 and 50-year-olds. But, seeing how that is my demographic, I guess I should not comment negatively on it.

Monday, March 18

volunteering update

Time to take a break from all of the entertainment posts and actually post about something that is going on in my life...

So, as you might recall, I started volunteering at the Humane Society of Cambria County last September. It has been quite a fulfilling activity for me. I have kept true to my schedule of volunteering two hours per week. And, I mostly walk dogs while I'm there. And let me tell you, walking dogs for two hours straight is tiring (but, in a good way)!

Sadly, one of the dogs that was there when I started is still there. Her name is Cinnamon and she's a pitbull mix. Not sure why she hasn't been adopted as she doesn't seem like a bad dog. She had a lot of anxiety when she first arrived at the shelter (and this is her second time there), but seems to be doing better now. She always gets excited when she sees me and I always walk her first.

It is nice to see the dogs week after week and then find out that they got adopted. I know not every adoption works out (as evidenced by the occasional return after adoption), but I like to think that most of them are getting good homes.

Sometimes, when the weather is especially crappy I will do some laundry or play with some kittens between walking dogs. But, those have been the extent of my activities.

I just got word that I was approved for the "Foster for a Day" program! This means I can take a dog out for the day and do whatever with it (hiking, Petco, hang out at the house, whatever). With the weather getting nicer, I should be able to start doing this soon. We can't really hang out in the house due to all of the other pets that live here, but I can see some garden time in our future. And, Cinnamon is definitely on top of my list of dogs to take out for the day. I'm really looking forward to this--expect additional reports in the future!

Sunday, March 17

halloween

Saturday nights are for movies. In the DVD player was the 2018 version of the movie, but it wasn't a remake--just a continuation of the story. In it, Jamie Lee Curtis reprised her Laurie Strode role, but this time she was a senior citizen. Ha. I guess people get old in 40 years.

In this movie, the powers that be decided to move Michael Myers from one mental institute to another. Wisely, they chose Halloween for the day to do this. Of course, something happened and he got loose and went after Laurie and her daughter and granddaughter (and a bunch of other people as well). From what I'm remembering, this was more violent than the first Halloween movie. I recall that one being more suggestive of violence, rather than overtly violent. But, this version was definitely a slasher film. Not one of my favorite genres, for sure, but I just had to watch. It was good for what it was.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, March 11

mister b. gone

This is the first Clive Barker novel I have read in quite some time. It was a good reminder of what an imaginitive writer he is.

It tells the story of a demon who is trapped in the book (and who talks to you directly while telling his stories). You would think this would be hokey, but it worked.

Unlike some of his previous books, this was a pretty short one (around 250 pages).

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, March 10

bird box

Due to the tepid reviews, I wasn't sure if I should watch this movie or not. But, I decided to give it a go last night and I did enjoy it. Of course, it's one of my favorite genres (apocalyptic), so that helped turn the scales in its favor. The premise was that some nefarious presence has invaded earth and anyone who looks at it is driven to suicide. Pretty interesting.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, March 3

clothes shopping

A few years ago, I tried out Stitch Fix. It was fun getting new clothes in the mail, but the clothes weren't my style, so I canceled that subscription and tried Trunk Club. The Trunk Club stuff was a lot more to my liking. However, it came at a big price tag, so I decided to end the subscription last year.

But, I still need clothes, so Jake suggested that we go to TJ Maxx, as I had never been there (I'm not much of a brick and mortar shopper). We went there yesterday and I was pretty happy with the place. They had a lot of brand-name stuff and the prices were great. Jake got two pairs of pants and I got a pair of jeans, two button down shirts, a rain jacket, and a baseball hat. A pretty good haul. And, it left me with enough money left over to buy a couple of pairs of shoes and some t-shirts online (I could find neither at TJ Maxx). After shopping, we went to Panera for lunch. What a fun morning!

Sunday, February 24

a dog's purpose

This was a cute movie about, well, a dog's purpose. The story was told from the point of view of a single dog, through several reincarnations and owners. If you like dogs, you will probably enjoy this movie. I don't see how you wouldn't.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, February 19

orphan x

I was really hoping to be into this book by Gregg Hurwitz, as I've liked his other stuff. Plus, it's part of a series, so it would have given me some new books to read. But, alas, I found the writing to be excruciatingly detailed and it wasn't as enjoyable as I had hoped. I suppose this is in line with the character, who was an orphan and selected for a government program to basically be trained as an assassin. Not too far-fetched, eh? I could live with that because most fiction is, well, rather fictional. But, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, February 17

a simple favor

This movie was kind of a black comedy/thriller. I wasn't sure how the combination was going to work out, but I really enjoyed it. Plus, the hot guy from Crazy Rich Asians was in it.

In short, the movie was about a mom who befriended another mom. The 2nd mom went missing and was found dead. The movie was about unraveling that mystery.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, February 4

other weekend news

Every time Brian and I drive through Greensburg, we always comment about how we should go to Barnes & Noble sometime. We finally made this a reality yesterday. I haven't been in a bookstore in years and this one was quite nice. Brian bought a book on philosophy, but I didn't end up getting anything. I was hoping to pick up a book on knitting socks, but while they had a few, none of them were quite what I was looking for. And, since we're so overloaded on books, I've become a little more discerning on what I purchase, so I did just want to buy something to buy something. The place was surprisingly packed. All of Greensburg looked pretty hoppin' for that matter.

Today, we went to my parents' house to celebrate Brian's and my sister-in-law's birthday. This is the first of three birthday celebrations for Brian. My mom made a delicious turkey dinner and we spent the afternoon there. 

Sunday, February 3

dunkirk

Jake and I like war movies, so we checked this one out on Friday night. It was different than most war movies--it told the story of the massive evacuation of soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, which is in northern France. So, it wasn't the usual sort of war story. Jake really liked it. I thought it was pretty good, too. 

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, January 27

bad times at the el royale

This movie was ok, but a little too clever for my tastes. The beginning was a mass of confusion, but they thankfully (sort of) explained everything as the movie went on. But once they did that, nothing new really happened. And, it did drag on a bit longer than necessary.

My rating: 3/5 (mostly for Chris Hemsworth's abs)

Saturday, January 19

the chalk man

This was an enjoyable enough read, but I felt like it was trying to ride on the coattails of the It/Stranger Things success. The book wasn't really long enough (it was less than 300 pages) to fully develop the characters in the manner of  It. Ironically, I got the recommendation for this book from Stephen King's Twitter account. He really liked it, for what it's worth.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, January 16

remember when?

Last night, I found a flea on Esme. Remember when we didn't have to worry about fleas and ticks in the winter? Those were the days. Since Esme is outside so much, she pretty much uses flea and tick preventative all year round, but I try to give her a little break when the weather is super cold and the little pests are less active. Needless to say, she received a dose this morning.

Monday, January 14

the florida project

There certainly wasn't anything wrong with this movie, I just wasn't that into it. It was a story about the lives of people who live in motels outside of Disney World. The single mom, unemployable type. Mostly it followed the one woman's 6 year old daughter. It was definitely well-written and acted. But, like Brian said, every time he walked into the room there was some kind of annoying noise coming out of the speaker (mostly kids screeching). 

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, January 9

back to abnormal

Buster seems to be doing better. His appetite is back and the medicine did its job. And, he stopped trying to crawl into bed with us (just like a little kid, he likes to sleep with us when he's sick).

Saturday, January 5

dean's list

Jake made the dean's list for his first sememster! Yay!

it's always something

Sometime last weekend, Buster unknowingly got into a bunch of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I didn't know that it happened until he threw up some wrappers. After that, came the diarrhea. And more wrappers. Sigh. Things kept getting worse, so Brian took him to see the vet on Wednesday night. They gave him some medicine, and he's doing a little better, but he still has diarrhea. I hope this clears up soon.

Thursday, January 3

tattoo you

Maybe 10 years ago, I got a Jake tattoo on my wrist. It was kind of a novelty thing, as it read the same upside down as right side up. I was never really happy with the implementation of it and it got a little blurry over time as tattoos are wont to do. So, I've been wanting to cover it up for some time now. It took me quite a while to figure out what to get (I ended up going with a Jake-created design of an American Traditional-style heart with a couple of small flowers). My next hurdle was finding a tattoo artist whose style I liked. And, I found someone this year--Devin at Lemon Bomb (here in Johnstown).

Yesterday was the day. My appointment was supposed to be after work, but she contacted me to see if I could go in earlier, so I took a break from work and went in the afternoon. It took less than an hour, which was good because that was a rather painful place to be tattooed. And, it turned out great--I'm really happy with it!

Originally, I was going to get an anchor tattoo on my wrist, but we just couldn't figure out the placement of it in order to do the cover up. But, I really, really like the anchor Brian drew for me so I'm going to get that on my upper arm in a couple of months. In addition, I have a couple more tattoo ideas so I think 2019 is going to be the Year of the Tattoo for me.

Tuesday, January 1

elevation

I received this new Stephen King book for Christmas and finished reading it last night. Clocking in at just under 150 pages, that wasn't much of a feat. And since I finished it yesterday it doesn't count towards my 2019 quota of a book a month. I guess I better get on to the next book.

Anyway, it was a pretty good story, but being a short story there wasn't a lot of meat to it. Still, better than anything I've read recently.

My rating: 3/5