Saturday, August 29, 2009

Library Lessons

Dudes, it's hot. It was 84° in the house when I woke up this morning. It's only going to get hotter and Scoob is out having menudo for lunch with a friend. I don't know which idea bothers me more; eating hot soup on a hot day, or eating menudo. We also have a sushi date for dinner tonight, which I'm looking forward to—cold fish in an air conditioned restaurant sounds so good right now. But coming back to this hot house afterward is going to be brutal. I wonder if they'll let us sleep in their restaurant?

In the meantime, I have nothing more strenuous than reading in mind, but boy do I have my work cut out for me. Since I work in publishing, I have to guard against bringing too many books home from work. But how many is too many, really? Since I've been with the travel publishing arm, this hasn't been as big an issue—I only have books for the places we go. But our distributor occupies the other half of our building and they not only distribute our books, but books for about 200 other publishers. There's never a shortage of reading material.

I used to peruse the distributor's catalog each season and flag what I wanted to read and since the distributor and my publisher are owned by the same company, we all get a 50% discount on almost any book that is handled by the distribution arm, regardless of who the actual publisher is. And about every 6 months we have a book purge party at work and anyone in the office can take home just about any bound book or galley for free so we can make room for the next season's books. Any book that hasn't found a home at the end of the party then gets donated—hardcovers go to the county library, they won't take the paperbacks; and the paperbacks go to the prison literacy program, they won't take the hardcovers because they make good weapons (the pen is mightier than the sword and all that, but in the wrong hands the binding will bash your head in).

Anyhow, it was a regular occurrence to come home with a box of books that would languish, unread, until the next box and the next box came home. Ultimately I found I had an unconscionable amount of books in a small living space that were either written/edited well and boring or interesting and written/edited poorly with precious few actually being all-around good reads, and I still had to figure out what to do with them after I'd read them, so I've been leaning a little more on my local library to support my ink habit.

Until recently I've just been popping into the library when convenient to browse the stacks (don't you just love the smell of a library?) but have been having a difficult time getting my hands on anything from my "Want to Read" list so I spent some time a few days ago poking around the library's website. I looked up all the titles on my list and added them to my cart. I browsed the new arrivals list and added several more to my cart. I didn't do anything else. I already had 3 books out so I didn't want to place a hold on anything until I was ready for more books.

About 2 days later a received a flurry of email from the library—I have 25 titles on hold to be picked up by Monday or I'll be charged $1.00/day/title for each book I do not pick up!! There was nothing on the website that said the "cart" was equivalent to requesting a hold, never mind that there is a separate button specifically for requesting a hold. I thought I was placing books on a wish list of sorts that I could quickly reference later. So that, my friends, is why I say I have my reading work cut out for me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where Did It Go?

So my trip to the doctor yesterday was pretty uneventful. We did a quick physical, ran through my prescriptions, and I got referrals for the eye doctor, a dermatologist, and physical therapy for my back. Oh, and dudes, I lost 5 pounds!

Well, I didn't exactly lose them. I mean it's not as if the 5 pounds were misplaced and I want them back. They're gone and good riddance, and that's all I really care about. Yeah, that little discovery pretty much made my day. Oh, and my blood pressure, after steadily rising for my previous 3 doctor appointments, dropped to 105/78. Pretty cool and I somehow resisted the urge to celebrate with chocolate.

I made this Asian Chicken and Water Chestnut Patty recipe over the weekend, though I'm still not clear what exactly makes it an Asian chicken because there's nothing especially Asian in the ingredients. I skipped the whole skewering thing because it just seemed so superfluous. I think the patties were probably much easier to handle unskewered, and if you really want to present them skewered, I'd recommend threading the patties on after they've cooked and are somewhat solid.

It was tasty, and considering how healthy it is, I think I'd be willing to bust out the food processor again for this one. I bet it would be good with some lemongrass and basil in place of the cilantro. Now that might actually make it Asian.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Better Late Than Never

While we were on our road trip vacation/reunion marathon we spent one day walking around downtown Portland taking pictures. I haven't been able to share the pictures before now because I moved all my pictures to an external drive and have only now hooked the drive to the new computer.

We spent late morning exploring the Portland Classical Chinese Garden in Historic Old Town. As luck would have it, we got there just as a docent-led tour was beginning and I tagged along for that while Scoob wandered off on his own. The tour was free with admission and very informative, if a little dry despite the docent's attempts to get people involved. The Chinese Garden covers an entire city block and it amazes me that Scoob and I were mesmerized and occupied for at least 2 hours, probably more, here.

We hoofed it west from the Chinese Gardens to Portland's Pearl District and just roamed the blocks seeing what there was to see. Unfortunately, we did our exploring on a Sunday and many of the shops and galleries were closed, but we still enjoyed the stroll. When I lived in the Portland area, this northwest section of the city was all industrial warehouses and rail yards. The transformation is amazing, though you can still see some of the area's history.

We stopped for a late lunch at BridgePort Brewpub at the northern edge of the Pearl District. I had a Blue Heron with my Mediterranean Plate ('cause you just shouldn't go to a brewpub without ordering a beer).

After lunch we started making our way back toward our hotel, detouring for Powell's Books (of course) and anything that caught our attention. We got some great shots as the sun was going down, but we didn't get out for any downtown nighttime photos. And I wrapped up my Sunday night with that whole bubble bath adventure.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day One Must Be Imminent

I woke up with a wet pillow this morning and realized I'd been crying in my sleep. I'd had a terrible dream that my Dad and step-Mom were preparing to die and while everything else appeared normal, the family was gathering around to say good-byes. Even though I know it was a dream, I can't seem to shake the sadness of it and I keep breaking down into tearful sobbing jags.

Scoob, being the observant man that he is, held me while I cried the first couple times then wisely decided to get out of the house. My back has been bothering me for weeks (months, years) and I'm always more irritable when I'm in pain. (Going to the doctor on Monday.) Add to that the apparent hormonal swing that won't let me pull my shit together and I can't blame him for trying to escape—I would too, if I could.

"Hey hormones, I'm going to head out. Call me when you're done wreaking havoc on the house that is my body. Don't make a mess of things. And put everything back where you found it. Oh, and scrub the toilets while you're at it."

If only.

This can only mean that Day One is imminent.

Afternoon Update: It's officially Day One, damn I'm good.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We Have a Visual

Scoob and I made our way over to the Best Buy in San Carlos yesterday to buy my new monitor. It was the only store in the Bay Area that had the monitor I want and Scoob had received a 12% off Best Buy coupon in the mail (unfortunately, we learned at checkout that the coupon doesn't apply to monitors).

We carefully balanced everything on my already crowded desk and ran a quick test to make sure the monitor was working and didn't have any dead pixels or other problems. The thing is freakin' huge! I have a dual monitor set up at work and was planning to replicate it at home, so the computer we bought has a graphics card out-of-the-box to support dualies. Scoob has been thinking about upgrading his monitor and giving the old one to me as my second, so I wanted to buy one the same make and size to pair with it.

Scoob's monitor is a 22" Samsung. Samsung doesn't really make the 22s anymore, so I ended up with a 23, not a huge difference. But when we plugged it in to test, the beast was sitting at the front of the desk. I kept trying to back the hell up so I could see what I was doing, but my arms weren't long enough to still reach the mouse and be a comfortable distance from the beast. I'm seriously starting to think I don't need two ginormous monitors. I can't fathom how I'm going to set them far enough back so I can actually work on one, let alone two.

Hopefully once I finish getting files off my laptop and get that off my desk we'll be able to set up a workable configuration. I know I eventually want to get a more functional desk, but Scoob wants to hang on to this one as a hobby table and we simply don't have room to store it in the house. The desk upgrade may need to wait until we move.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Hot Date with a Jetted-Tub

We stayed at the Paramount Hotel while we were in Portland last week. It's a far cry from the Super 8 both in price and comfort. The room itself was spacious with a king bed, desk, chair and ottoman, and probably the narrowest and deepest closet I've ever seen. But the bathroom. Oh, dudes, the bathroom—granite counter top (not what I'd choose for myself, but still, nice), huge glass shower stall, and a deep jetted-tub—there was a toilet in there somewhere too, but I was focused on the tub and I promised myself that before our 3 nights there were up, that tub and I were going to have us a go.

So Friday night I was out late and had had a couple-few glasses of wine at my high school reunion. I got in pretty late and was already tired, and what with the wine and all, I didn't want to fall asleep in the jetted-tub and drown. So I decided to wait.

Saturday, Scoob and I spent the day visiting and again got in pretty late. I figured anticipation only makes it better in the end, so JT (as I came to call it) and I decided to wait just one more night.

By Sunday, JT and I knew our amount of time together was limited. We'd have to make it happen that night or never. Scoob and I spent the day walking and taking pictures in downtown Portland, all the while, my mind was on JT and the long, hot, pulsating...*ahem*...soak...we'd have ourselves later.

And so ends my ever-so-brief foray into soft porn writing. I've been reading waaay too much Nora Roberts dudes. So, all that really happened, you know, but just not quite like that. There really was a jetted-tub, a reunion, walking, picture-taking, and much, much visiting--that part is true.

When we got back to the room Sunday evening I settled in for a nice bubble bath with a library book. It was a deep tub and I waited patiently for the water to fill above the jets so I could turn them on and relax. While I was waiting for it to fill, I noticed that the supposed "bubble bath" was not exactly getting bubbly. I got in and resigned myself to a bath sans bubbles (life's rough, eh?).

Once the jets were submerged, I poked the little on button and after that it all happened so fast. It's just a blur. The whole tub began to roar and tremble and suddenly water was shooting everywhere in the bathroom. Anything within 3 feet of the tub was getting drenched as I howled and dove to shield the library book.

So there I was, tuckus hoisted into the air, half-sprawled half-kneeling in the tub praying I hadn't woke Scoob so he wouldn't walk in and find me in this undignified position. 'Cause I'm so dignified (and classy, too), don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

My stifled scream faded into a giggle and I was soon laughing to split my side as I scanned the tub for a way to turn the the danged thing off. I finally deduced that the start button must also be the stop button (thank you, Microsoft, for that bit of learned reasoning). "So much for a relaxing bath," I thought as I continued laughing and surveyed the damage.

I let the tub fill as I grabbed a spare towel and began sopping up the mess. So it wouldn't be a bubble bath, and it wouldn't be a jetted-bath; but by golly I was having a bath.

After I finished cleaning up my mess, I climbed back in and turned off the water. I settled back to read a little and a few minutes later decided to try the jets again, hoping that the additional water would do the trick. I did learn enough from the previous attempt to shield the book first. But after a quick sputter, I was once again on for the jetted bath so I set the book aside and leaned back into the jets and just closed my eyes to enjoy it and relax.

I'm not really sure how long my eyes were closed, but when I opened them I found that my bubble-free bath had morphed and had a 2-foot column of frothy bubbles rising above the edge of the tub. I couldn't see my face, but I imagine my eyes went wide right before I started laughing again and tried to pat the bubbles back down into the water, which only sent them floating through the air to land all around the bathroom.

I figured that was enough for the jets, turned them off, and leaned back to enjoy the bubbles a little before I had to figure out what to do with them. As I lay there, I thought "this must be how they make those bubble baths in the movies" (I don't get out much) and I preceded to lift and dunk various appendages in the water and watch the bubbles cling like in some old Doris Day movie.

I ended up just leaving the bubbles in the tub and needed to rinse myself off in the shower post-bath to get rid of them. And so ends my hot date with a jetted tub. I'd love to do it again sometime, but I sure am glad I didn't have to clean the tub afterward. That was probably the most "clean" fun I've had in a tub since I was a kid and mom would play "Splish Splash" or "S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night" on the stereo while I pruned up.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Home Sweet, Filthy Home

Well, we're back from vacation y'all. It seems likes we've simultaneously been gone too long and not long enough. The kittehs were pleased as punch to see us when we rolled in around 10:00 last night.

We didn't do much when we got home. I checked out the litterbox area and cleaned that up and unpacked the suitcase to put it away so the cats could calm down and not get worked up about us leaving again.

It never fails, when we go away for a few days, the cats are just a bit more needy (ahem) attentive when we return. If we take very many more vacations I may need to get a Baby Björn for them.

Speaking of babies, we've got two new baby cousins in the family and neither one batted an eye while being passed around non stop.

Look at that head of hair!

The babies were outnumbered by puppies. I didn't get many pictures of them because they never hold still, but this one is grandma's new pup.

Anyhow, I had a great time visiting everyone and the driving, while there was a lot of it, went pretty well. Here's my favorite photo from the Columbia River Gorge.

We did stop in Eugene on the way home and bought my new computer, but they didn't have the monitor I want in stock, so for now, I'm still cruising on (and cursing) the old one. I also picked up that external drive I was talking about and am in the process of moving all my data over to that. So that and laundry should keep me busy for the rest of the weekend until it's time to go back to work on Monday.

There's nothing quite like having housekeeping service for a solid week to shame me into a house cleaning mood.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Good Scout Is Always Prepared

Guess what, I wasn't a scout. Or a Brownie. Or a Bluebird. Or a Campfire Girl (are they even still around?) Our trip to Oregon/Idaho is looming large and I'm feeling incredibly anxious about it. Not in any particular way that I can put my finger on, but anxious just the same. I feel like I've overlooked some major detail.

Anyhow, we're leaving Thursday morning, and I do mean morning. Scoob has a Falcon wants to take one of the support reps at Falcon Northwest in Medford out to lunch, so that means we need to leave here by 5:30 am. Yes, am. The last time we headed north together, we dropped off Scoob's computer for an upgrade since we were passing through Medford anyhow, and any time Scoob has had an issue with his Falcon, he's managed to get the same support rep (it's a small but well-respected outfit) and he's always taken care of the problem. So anyhow, we're leaving early Thursday and Scoob has offered to drive (I know!) for the first tank of gas so I can sleep. As long as we have a full tank when we set out, we should be able to make Medford without filling up. Scoob doesn't offer to drive very often, and I want to make the most of it!

I think the biggest part of my anxiety is a massive project at work that I need to finish before I leave. I've been working on putting content for the New England region online and it's my own dang fault the project is so massive. When my boss said we were covering all of New England, I took that to mean the entire book was going online. What I didn't understand was that he meant we would cover all of New England by not leaving any states out, but we would be selective with the chapters we published from each state. So instead of only having 7 or so chapters to get done I have 17 plus some background materials. I've been bringing my work home with me for the past couple weeks so I can get it done.

Anyhoodle, I feel like I'm scrambling (probably because I am), though I did manage to sneak out of work a little early tonight and treat myself to a mani/pedi. I realized I hadn't had one since at least April 2008 and as much as I tried to do them at home, it just doesn't compare. And I didn't feel at all guilty about leaving early since I knew I'd be putting in hours on my time later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fly Over

So, there I was, enjoying the mild summer evening, driving home from the library (I returned the 3 Nora Roberts books I checked out a week or so ago and picked up some more even though I said I wouldn't) with the sunroof open and some tunes on the radio, when I heard honking. I looked a round and saw nothing. Then I looked up.

There was a small flock of Canadian geese flying low overhead. At first I smiled and thought "What a beautiful ending to a nice evening." Then, I remembered my last avian encounter, and hastily closed the sunroof.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

It May not Be Pretty

As I was surfing the web today, in the back of my mind I've been thinking about how incredibly hot it's been lately in Oregon and Washington and the fact that we'll be in that neck of the woods shortly. The air conditioner in mom's car has been broken for, well, a long time (at least a couple years) and temperatures in her area have been hovering at or above 100° for the past week or so.

Since she's not working and we still have the dog days of summer to get through, I found this over at the There I Fixed It website. It seems like this might be a good DIY project for her (because she's very DIY).