Monday, November 12, 2007

Featherdale and the Blue Mountains

Saturday we went on 4 wheel drive tour of the mountains, a wildlife park, and Olympic Park. It was good fun and I got to mark a few things off of my Australia to-do list (i.e. pet a kangaroo - check, see a Tasmanian Devil - check). Every time I've tried to put the pictures in this blog, I've had issues with my Internet connection so I'm posting a link to them instead. See pictures here:

At Featherdale Wildlife Park the kangaroos roam free and it's a very hands-on experience. I was able to pet kangaroos and koalas, and I saw various sorts of other Australian animals that we do not have in the States, including the Tasmanian Devil, Saltwater Crocodile, the Dingo, the Wombat, and so many colorful birds that I lost count. A few words about the animals (because I'm a nerd and I love animals). The kangaroo is the national symbol and Australia is probably the only country that EATS their national symbol (they say it tastes like.......venison, not chicken). To give you a frame of reference, the kangaroos here are like deer at home. They roam free, they become roadkill, people hunt and eat them, and they have a huge population. There are only about 20 million people in the whole country of Australia; there are at least 40 million kangaroos. There are many, many species - no, they aren't all big red ones like you are picturing in your head. The female kangaroos have a very unusual ability: they can reserve an embryo for up to two years. It works like this: Mama Kangaroo usually has two babies at once, an older one that stays with her and a joey in the pouch (for up to six months), plus the reserved embryo. When the kangaroos are hunted by Dingos, the Dingo goes for the slowest - the mother, because she is weighted down by the joey. Mama Kangaroo sacrifices the joey and brings the reserved embryo out of hibernation (or something like that) to develop into a new baby. I don't know how she does it, but it's certainly something I didn't know before I came here. The kangaroos were my favorite because they are inquisitive, like cats or dogs. Some have very soft fur and some have very coarse fur. I thought they were really neat.

Koalas sleep 18 hours a day, so they are pretty boring most of the time. They also do NOT smell like cough drops, regardless of what you have been told. They smell like wild animals (think Zoo). Anyway, the fur is not very soft. It's thick and dense and has a texture similiar to low-pile carpet - this is to protect them from the hot sun while they sleep all day. Also, they are kind of mean, from what I gather. We asked the guy that was supervising the Koala we got to pet if it was smart to put our faces close to it (because the people before us did); he said, "I wouldn't get that close to this one." It was busy eating, but I was still cautious. They have BIG claws.

The saltwater crocodile in my pictures is only about 6 feet long. They get up to 20 feet in length. It is one of Australia's top three deadly animals. And it lives in the OCEAN. That just doesn't seem right. Sharks? Yes. Jellyfish? Yes. (Someone died yesterday from a jellyfish sting, they rank in the most deadliest, too.) Crocodiles? Umm, I think I'll just stay on the beach.

The Blue Mountains are part of the Great Dividing Range - which separates the coast from the desert. They are called Blue Mountains because the Blue Gum trees (also known as Blue Eucalyptus) emit a gas that causes a blue haze over the mountains. I don't know if you can see it in the pictures, but you can in person. The mountains smell like cough drops. It was amazing to see the different vegetation here. One of the coolest things about Australia is that the plant and animal life is so different than anything I've seen before (even more different than the thigh-sized aloe plants in Spain). They have trees still that date back to the Jurassic era. Isn't that cool?

Sunday, we took a ferry to Manly Beach. I did not take my camera there, so no pictures, sorry (though, I'm kicking myself). If I come back (and I probably will), I'll take pictures of it. It is on the Pacific Ocean and there are stretches of beach mixed with cliffs and rocks. It's very scenic and the water is beautiful. It isn't Carribean clear, but its a beautiful blue-green color. The sand, well, let's just say there's no place like the Gulf of Mexico for beach sand. Manly was much more my speed than Sydney. It's a very laid back beach town with a 30 minute commute by ferry to the city. If I had to live here, I think I'd want to live in Manly. Who wouldn't want to go to work by boat every morning?

What else? Oh! I finally had a decent steak last night at a place in Darling Harbour called The Meat and Wine Company. They had meat. And wine. It was wonderful and I wouldn't mind eating there for the rest of the trip. That's enough for now. I have work to do.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Tidbits

As weird as supper has been, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day here. There is a little cafe across the street from the hotel that has wonderful breakfast and coffee. The coffee here is better than coffee at home, and so is the bacon, and the eggs, for that matter. They are fresher, I think, because they remind me of fresh eggs straight out of the chicken's nest (you thought I would write "butt", didn't you? Or, to quote Miss Sipsy from "Fried Green Tomatoes": "They come straight out the chickens' ---!" Pardon my random movie quote; I digress.). Anyway, fresh eggs are a rarity for us unless you live on a farm.

We found a very good restaurant last night, and I ate shrimp linguine that tasted like something I would make at home. I was very satisfied with that and I can see us going back there.

What else? The birds are very tame. The walk along the sidewalks with you like they are people. One even wandered into and around the food court yesterday at lunch. It's a little gross, but still very amusing to see a bird walking around the food court. They also have bats the size of vultures that sound like fighting cats when they scream. I'll get to see those more up close and personal on Saturday when I take a tour that goes to an animal park. They are HUGE.

Lilies must be local and in season right now because there are arrangements of them in nearly every building. They are beautiful, but the smell starts to get to me after a while. The crosswalk signs (the ones that tell you when to walk - we don't have them in the 'ham but other big cities do) sound like they are shooting you with a laser tag gun when you push the button. Then they beep and beep until you can cross the street.

Yesterday was the Melbourne Cup, which is The Race that Stops the Country. Literally, I think we were the only ones working after lunch. It's a horse race that lasts approximately 6 minutes, followed by continous partying for the rest of the day and night. It's very comparable to the Kentucky Derby. It was interesting to experience it. The whole city was out partying last night. There were lines and lines of people waiting to get into bars and nightclubs.

I know there are other things I want to share, but they've escaped me right now. I'll post them later when I remember.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Some Pictures from Sydney

This is the Harbor Bridge. If you are crazy enough, you can pay $200 Australian dollars to be tied to a cable and walk across the very top of it. I am not that crazy.

This is the world-famous Sydney Opera House at night. I understand that on special occasions they light it up in different colors. It really is impressive. It sort of looks like it's just floating in the water.

This is the skyline from the harbor.

The Opera House from the ferry.

There will be plenty more later.

Beware the Fish of the Day

There is a heavy Asian influence in Sydney, which means lots and lots of Thai, Chinese, Korean, etc. restaurants. We ate at a place call Sailor's Thai tonight. Thai food here is not like Thai food at Surin in Birmingham, so I struggled to find something recognizable on the menu. I settled on the fish of the day - deep fried with a hot and sour sauce, thinking that was a pretty safe bet, especially when I learned the fish of the day was snapper.

Like me, I'm sure you are picturing nice golden fried, boneless fillets.

Imagine my surprise when the fish of the day was not only whole, but still had the head, eyeballs and teeth! And not only did it have a head, eyeballs and teeth, but it was POSED on the plate rather than lying flat out like one would imagine a plated fillet. An immediate silence fell upon our table as we looked at those fishes. It took a moment to comprehend that that was what I ordered. Then some sort of chaos erupted as I tried to regain my composure and a picture was taken of me and my supper.

Now, here's where my good raising comes into play. I ate the fish because that's what I ordered and my Daddy taught me how to eat fish. I have a vague recollection of eating fish with the head still on at some point in my life, but somehow this time was just more shocking. I turned it's toothy little face away from me so I wouldn't have to see it as I ate, and it was really good! It was a lot of work for not a lot of food (because of all the bones), so ironically, I am snacking on Gold Fish crackers while I type this. :)

We'll call it an Extreme Dining Experience. I have a feeling I am going to lose weight on this trip.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

14 Hours on a Plane is NOT My Favorite

First order of business, it is 7:54 p.m., Sunday, November 4th as I'm writing this entry. The time difference is now 17 hours instead of 15 because Australia sprang forward while we fell back for Daylight Savings Time. It's twisting my mind. I think Dave and I have finally coordinated when I can call him and when we can chat online.

I got here at 7:30 this morning (Sunday) after traveling 25 hours in the air, not including layovers. I tried to sleep on the plane, but it's almost impossible to sleep soundly in such a cramped and crowded space. I thought my legs were going to die before I got off that plane this morning. I think I went 41 hours without a shower, because I took one at 6:30 Eastern time Friday morning and then flew and flew and flew until Saturday afternoon (Central time). Needless to say, I felt disgusting. I do not like flying for that long.

The hotel is very nice and once I FINALLY got into my room (check in time was 2), I was not disappointed. The bathroom is fabulous, with a separate oversized tub and shower. Oh, and the toilet water does flow the wrong way here, for those who wanted to know. They also drive on the wrong side of the road, which is just really bizarre when you are riding in a taxi.

When we got here this morning, we went to breakfast and walked around the city. I've already seen the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Darling Harbor and various other things I cannot remember. The architecture here is really cool, a lot of old mixed with new. The city is just BEAUTIFUL. A friend of mine told me it was the most beautiful city in the world, and I think he may be right. I'll have pictures later because I'm cheating from a friend of mine since I didn't take my camera out with me today. For now, I'm going to bed. I don't know how much I slept on the plane, but it wasn't much and I have to get up in a few hours to chat with Dave.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Blue Friday

The point of this goofy picture is that I am wearing the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl ring. Indy is having "Blue Friday" because the Colts are playing the Patriots in town this weekend, and of course, they are both undefeated and this is supposed to be the biggest NFL game of the season so far, etc. Work was quickly degenerating into play as we left OneAmerica Tower at lunch time today.
OneAmerica is hosting a publicity event for the Colts and people were streaming in to register for prizes and get autographs from the cheerleaders. I got there before it got too crowded (because I needed to be on the way to the airport), so I got to wear the ring for a picture. I'm hoping this will make up for the fact that I didn't get a poster autographed by the cheerleaders for Dave - they weren't there yet when I left. The city is buzzing with excitement, and I imagine it will be one big tailgate party before the day is over.
Work went well here this week, and now it's time to fly to St. Louis, then to Los Angeles, and finally to Sydney. Let's all hope the trip is enjoyable and quick.
Oh, and Go Colts! (Someone will have to let me know who wins the game because I doubt I'll get to see the game from halfway around the world.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Aussie Trip Tips

These are some tips that my coworker who is already in Australia sent to me. I am sharing them here because they are amusing, and maybe interesting to some.

In response to my anxiety over how the whole visa process works:

"1. Fill out immigration form on plane.
2. Get off the plane.
3. Walk to immigration.
4. Show passport and smile.
5. Walk to baggage claim.
6. Get bags.
7. Walk to customs.
8. Show form to customs and smile.
9. Explain that you are smuggling in contraband and illegal substances… again smile.
10. Go through security.
11. Walk to exit.
12. Get in Taxi
13. Go to hotel
14. Check in, take shower, and begin feeling like a human again."

He is a smarty pants. :)

The formula for overcoming jet lag when I arrive:

"So, when you get on your way here you need to stay awake until about hour 3 of the flight to Sydney. You are not going to like it, you are going to be tired, but trust me stay awake. At hour 3 take some sleeping pills (if you have them) and sleep as long as you can. When you wake up there still will be about 2 hours of the flight left. Drink coffee with breakfast. When you land in Sydney it will be fairly early in the morning. Get to the hotel, unpack, shower but do not go to sleep. Get out of the hotel, take a walk to the harbor, do something to keep you busy until lunch. Have something to eat and go back to the hotel. Take a nap. Now this is very important: do not take a nap longer than about 2 hours otherwise you will have a hard time sleeping at night. Have an early dinner and stay awake until at least 8:30. If you can pull that off, then you should be fairly awake and ok on Monday."

Other general tips:

"-ATMs dispense Australian dollars, you won’t need to bring USD and change it to AUD
-Ride in the front of Taxis
-Australians don’t know how to form a line, they just form a mob.
-You don’t have to tip. If you do, only tip a small amount. If you pay with cash leave the “silver” change. On a CC, round up to the nearest $5 increment.
-Sydney is pretty formal, all the time.
-On the day you arrive, try to stay awake until 8:30 or 9 that night.
-I hope you like Asian/Thai/Sea food.
-Its summer here. For C to F temp conversion, double it and add 32. That should be about right.
-Lunch time is typically 1 PM. I recommend eating something for breakfast.
-Paper money is in $5 dollar increments. There are $1 and $2 coins, they are gold in color. Everything else is cents, although no pennies, everything rounds to the nearest 5 cents.
-They drive on the wrong side of the road, and the walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk.
-Power outlets must be turned on to work. Push the switch down.

Australian Language guide:
Fortnight = 2 weeks
Loo = Restroom
Lift = Elevator
Ta = Thank you
No worries = You’re welcome
Oh that’s alright = You’re welcome
Queue = Line
Cheers = Regards
Uni = Short for University or College
How you going? = How are you doing?
“and Bob’s your uncle” = “And that is that”.
“talked the leg off a horse” = done talking about that now
“give us a hoy” = call me
Mate = Buddy
Happy with that = I understand (can be a question, “Do you understand?”)
Dodgy = Shady, suspect, something isn’t quite right
The bill = (at a restaurant) the check
Angry Ben = $20 bill (they are red and have Ben Franklin on them)
Brekkie = Breakfast
Football = probably rugby, but can be Australian rules football or American football (see below)
Grid Iron = American football
Soccer = what everyone other than the US and Australia call football
The American Embassy = McDonald’s

Australian Coffee guide:
Short Black = Shot of Espresso
Tall Black = Shot of Espresso with water
Flat White = Shot of Espresso with milk
Latte = Shot of Espresso with steamed milk
Filtered Coffee = American black coffee"

So there you go, first hand travel tips in case you ever go to Australia. It should be fun. I'm sure they will love my accent as much as I will love theirs. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Preparing for a Trip Down Under

I hear/read that Australians don't really call their country "Down Under," but I have to wonder how true that is given the popularity of the phrase. I guess I'll find out for myself soon enough. :)

Among other things I'm struggling with about this trip, it's Spring time in Australia - just as it's starting to feel like Fall here. I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around that one, and truthfully, I'm tired of my warm weather clothes. :) To make this world adventure even more interesting, I have to fly to Indianapolis first, where it is quickly becoming Winter - by my Southern standards, anyway. My suitcase is going to be so confused.

I leave for Indy on the 30th, and then I leave Indy for Sydney on the 2nd of November. I won't be home again until November 16th - that's almost three full weeks. That's my biggest struggle. It's a LOOOONNGG way from home and a lot happens around my life in a month. Australia is 15 hours ahead of Birmingham, so the time difference is going to make communication interesting. There will be lots of email, I'm sure.

Everyone keeps telling me this is a "chance of a lifetime" because I will probably never get to go to Australia again (I might if my company has any say in it), and I DO get that. However, it would be a BETTER "chance of a lifetime" if Dave was going with me. He has a trial during that time, so he can't make the trip. Perhaps if I'd been married 20 years already, I might jump at the chance to spend three weeks away from my husband (I shudder at that thought, too, but that's a rant for another day), but right now I'm just sad about it. A night or two away is a good break when I need one, three weeks is a freaking long time, especially knowing I can't call him when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night because he will be sleeping or working or something. (By the way, I could never be in the military and be deployed for months or years at a time. Nothing doing there, and that's why I'm not.) And, how much will I miss my dog?!? She'll think I abandoned her. :(

All whining aside, I'll take this "chance of a lifetime" and enjoy it because I've always wanted to go to Australia. There are lots of things to see and do in Sydney, and I hear the shopping is good. That's a positive because since I'm losing the month of November to work, I'll need to do some Christmas shopping. I plan to blog from there, provided I'm not completely slammed with work and I don't forget my camera, so look for pictures in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jewel vs. The Lizard

As we pulled into the driveway after church on Sunday, Jewel was crossing the street from her other yard (the accross the street neighbors') with something in her mouth. This inspired a discussion of whether the thing was a mouse or a lizard and whether it was alive or dead. It was a lizard, and it was alive. I know this because she let it go and caught it again twice more before bringing it to the front porch for the final showdown.

I happened to be watching through the front door when I saw Jewel and the lizard squared off, face to face. That lizard was not going to go easily. It's mouth was open like it was hissing at her, and every time she moved it moved. The juked and jived for several minutes before she launched what I'm sure she expected to be the death blow. It was not. That lizard grabbed onto her toe and would not let go! She was slinging it around, biting it, and it was still hanging on. She finally gave a hard shake of the paw and the lizard released it's jaws and slammed into the glass door! It did not die. It slid to the ground and looked at her again. She walked off and started bathing like she meant for that to happen. When I left them, the lizard had mostly disappeared into a hole and she was diligently trying to pull it back out my the tail. I'm quite sure it died eventually due to internal injuries, but she didn't get the satisfaction of killing it.

Kitten Sittin'

Dave and I have a house guest for a couple of days - a calico kitten. Her name is Talim, but she goes by Kitty. She belongs to one of my coworkers, and we are keeping her because he's having some maintenance done in his apartment. Talim looks a lot like Jewel E. Cat; I think it's because of her stripes. Twice last night I saw her and thought she was Jewel.

My cats are wondering when we got a new cat, and the girls don't seem too thrilled with her - though they both enjoyed her food for breakfast. Gypsy spent the morning stalking and talking to the kitten, so I left her outside today. I felt that my Street Cat shouldn't be left unsupervised with an innocent. Jewel seemed a little shocked to see a new face in the house and decided to spend the day outside as well. Squirt (who is home for a visit - more about that later) doesn't seem to care, but Talim likes his tail. He lies with it hanging off the end table and it's just too much for her to resist. She was also intrigued to see other cats because she is an only cat at home. Squirt is keeping her company inside today.

Georgia is equally excited about and intimidated by the new kitten. She can only look at her from the corner of her eye for fear of the Evil Death Ray that is emitted when making eye contact with an unknown cat. Also, she is jealous and must sit on my feet and insist that I pet her instead of the kitten. However, she did feel compelled to pounce at said kitten this morning - which, as you can imagine, caused quite an uproar in my house.

The kitten is just young and fiesty enough to wander all over the house, transforming into a Halloween cat only when she hears a noise or sees movement. :) Dave is enjoying her kittenish ways - he played Dental Floss with her last night and loved it.

So, Squirt Black Cat - apparently he lives at my father's house now. Twice my brother has brought him home to our house because he was in their backyard, or better yet, he wandered into their house. He had been there before, but he's frequenting their yard more often now. My brother wants to keep him - I don't think he realizes that the choice isn't his. Squirt lives where he wants to live. He takes care of himself, too, since he comes home fatter than when he left. I think he's going to my dad's now because people and a dog moved into our old house. I'm hoping this means he'll start staying home, but I've been hoping that for 5 months now.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Tiny Taste of Paradise

Well, I guess the term "paradise" is relative, especially if you are a native of Mexico. At any rate, this is a picture of the waterfront in Progreso, Mexico. We stopped there for several hours while on our cruise. Progreso hasn't become a complete tourist trap yet, so I really liked it there. We visited the pink flamingo feeding area, the salt flats, and some Mayan ruins. There were thousands and thousands of pink flamingos there. They have a refuge for them, and if you kill one (by accident or otherwise) you go to jail. It was really cool to see them standing along the side of the road.

We had a wonderful time. I needed the week of thinking about nothing other than when and what I was going to eat again. And, Dave will tell you, I thought about that a lot. The food was fabulous and there was so much of it!

We also went to Cozumel, but we'd been there before. We just walked and shopped and ate some more. We did find an "Only a Dollar" store there, so I bought some wooden bracelets.

We are back to real life now and it will probably be another two months before I get to update this blog again. :(

Thursday, August 30, 2007

There has been so much happening lately, I'm feeling overwhelmed about updating this thing.

Animals first - Jewel E. Cat looks like someone socked her one. The left side of her face is swollen, and I don't know why. She's also being VERY sweet, and that's out of character. I looked for fang marks because I think she may have tangled with a snake, but I can't really tell if that's what bit her. Then again, it could have been a spider or a bee or ants. At any rate, she's locked in the house for observation. I've narrowed the time frame to between 6 and 7:30 tonight, so we'll see if she swells some more or acts seriously ill. She's an expensive cat.

Squirt is MIA. He refused to come inside Thursday a week ago and I haven't seen him since. Dave says he saw him at the old house on Sunday, but he certainly isn't coming when I whistle for him.

Gypsy the Street Cat has somehow turned into a spoiled house cat. She thinks that if I'm cooking or using the can opener, then she needs some of whatever it is. She ate cantelope the other day.

Aside from puking 5 gallons on my new carpet, Georgia's life has been relatively ordinary lately. Thank goodness.

The people - We are both working on a lot of church stuff. The pastor resigned, so we are looking for a new one, setting up new committees and teachers for the next church year (which starts tomorrow), and working on the parsonage. It's keeping us very busy. Dave has meetings a couple of nights a week, and I've been painting the parsonage. We started work on it last weekend without anyone knowing because it needs to be done and we didn't feel like thinking about setting a meeting to talk about making a list of things that need to be done to the parsonage. One of the things about the "sleepy little church" is that they like to talk a lot and not do much. We are slowly (well, Dave is mostly) getting things stirred up - and it's good. We didn't tell anyone about painting, but people found out and showed up and we bypassed the whole meeting junk. I'm excited about it. I've also agreed to teach the toddler Sunday school class for the year. This Sunday is the first time. I'm not too sure about teaching toddlers (19 months through 2 years), but we'll see how it goes. At the very least, it should be entertaining. :) I'm also still maintaining the church website, and I really enjoy it, but I wish I had more time to work on it.

Dave's parents are listing their house for sale (yes, the house they just moved into in January), and looking for a house down here. They've visited quite a bit lately. They looked at my Grandmama's house last weekend because she has moved to a nursing home now. That's pretty sad. It's very weird to see Daddy and the aunts and uncle cleaning out that house. It sucks, really, because she always lived there.

There is also a nasty rumor that a new residential development is going to be built right behind our back fence. Supposedly, it's 40 apartments and 69 townhouses. We'll see how it goes. I'm sure it will happen at some point, so I'm planning to plant rows of pine trees behind the fence so they can be growing in preparation for that day.

I can't wait for Labor Day weekend. I need three days in a row. Our cruise is 15 days away. I NEED it badly. We both do.

Oh by the way, I just re-read this and realized that I'm starting to talk/type like my boss, who natively speaks French. So, if something reads strangely, that's probably what's happened. Also, I spent several days this week with some German co-workers and I found myself picking up some of their sentence structure, too. :) It's funny how that happens. I really have to admire the people I work with because the majority of them don't natively speak English. I can't imagine moving to another country and learning the language fluently enough to communicate in a business setting. Amazing.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Critters by the Creek

Today was Montevallo's first annual Critters by the Creek event. It's like Doo Dah Day, but probably better because it's by the creek and you don't have to drive downtown. :) It's just another one of many "by the Creek" events we have here, because the creek runs through our city park. The Shelby County Humane Society was there with adoptable pets and they were running a micro-chip clinic. Furtastic Pets Grooming did the contest prizes and the free stuff, and the MHS band boosters sold refreshements. The Montevallo and Calera Police Departments and the Shelby County Sheriff's department were there with the K-9 units, inlcuding some Chocolate Lab puppies in training! There was a pretty big turn out; lots of different breeds of dogs, a miniature horse, a rabbit, and a parrot.
Georgia did the Hokey Pokey in the Talent Contest, and she won 2nd place! The picture above shows her loot. The gift basket had samples of her food, a bag of treats, some toys, and a gift certificate to the groomers. The 1st place winner was also a Chocolate Lab, named Petey. His owner is a fireman, and he taught Petey to stop, drop, and roll when he says, "You're on fire!" Then he says, "Crawl out of the fire!" and Petey crawls across the ground. It was a good trick. The parrot, whose name is Jimmy B (as in Buffet), was also in the talent contest. He plays dead and rolls over. :)
We let Georgia swim in the creek while we were there, and she had a blast retrieving a stick. Now, she's sleeping at my feet. All those dogs and people wore her out. All in all, I think the event was a success, and some money and supplies were raised for the Humane Society. I hope it will be even bigger next year.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Rant About Feeling Left Out

There is a saying that you get out of things what you put into them. I've found this to be true in every organization I've been involved in. It was true of the sorority, it was true of group work in grad school, and it's also true in church.

I have a real problem with people who get mad and whine that they have been excluded when they make no effort to be included. When they exclude themselves and expect others to bend over backward to try to include them. It drives me nuts. It drives me nuts because typically in an organization, 20% of the people do 80% of the work while asking for others to volunteer!! If there is an announcement presented on four different mediums for help that is needed, and you do not step up to help, then you deserve to feel left out. What else do you need? A personal phone call? Because you are so much more important than all the other people who respond to those announcements with willingness and excitement for the job at hand? Pardon my rant, but this is one thing that I can't stand. I work hard, and I work hard at being social when I absolutley am not a social person, so DON'T TELL ME YOU'VE BEEN EXCLUDED WHEN I NEVER SEE YOUR FACE AT A FUNCTION.

So, the next time you feel left out of something, take a minute to analyze your actions and determine if YOU made any effort. Did you volunteer for anything that anyone asked for help with in the last 6 months? Did you attend any special functions in the last 6 months? If not, then shut up about it, because I'm probably too busy doing 80% of the work to entertain your petty whining.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

By Reader Request

It's been so long and so busy since I've been here, that I've been putting off updating this thing. Let's see, the cats have quit bringing dead rodents into the house because they are locked in or out unless we are home. No more free access unless there is parental supervision. On one occasion, I happened to intercept a live mouse as Jewel brought it through the window, so I just tossed it right back outside. There was also a tail-less salamander that I rescued, but that's about it. Thank goodness.

Squirt moved back to the old house one more time after our vacation to the beach, and since then he's been staying home. I didn't take any pictures at the beach, and I've been a slacker about getting some to share. Oh well, there's no need to post bikini pictures anyway. :) There were some quite funny beach incidents involving my sister and the sea gulls. She HATES birds and Dave can think of nothing funnier than tormenting her by planting bits of bread around her chair on the beach to attract the birds. It was a relaxing four days of nothing but sand, sun, books, and good food. I can't wait until September when we go on our cruise.

We all survived the wedding (some of us just barely) and the party afterwards was a blast. It couldn't have gone any better - good music, good food, good fun. Dave and I danced and danced. Both the ceremony and the reception turned out beautifully. It rained ALL day long until right before picture time, then it started back as the reception ended - our prayers were answered. We so needed the thing to go according to plan. Since it's over, I've been completely worthless. :) Here are a few pictures.

The ceremony in Orr Park.

The wedding party.

The bridesmaids.

The reception.

I counted down the days until the release of the final book of the Harry Potter series, then ended up spending that weekend in Atlanta. It wasn't everything I hoped for and more, but some good came out of it. There was an ugly scene with our friend whom we were staying with, and the entire experience really made me appreciate the fact that Dave is my best friend. Another good thing, this was Georgia's first vacation with us and she did great! We took her and our friend's boxer to the lake to swim and ride on the boat. She had a blast, and now I want to find more places to take her for vacation. She's so good, and she just went with the flow and did great. I'm reading Harry Potter now, and it's killing me that I have to put it down to sleep at night. :) I had so planned to read it all the day it came out. Oh well.

Hmm, church. Our preacher resigned and took a job at another church, so we are without a preacher right now. It's very strange around there right now. I've taken over maintaining the website, as the preacher's wife did that job previously. I'm actually pretty excited about it, since I'm a nerd and all. I may be building a site for Dave's law practice soon, too. He just has to decide what he wants on it.

I guess that's enough for now. I'll try to do better about updating more often - and taking pictures. :)

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Death Toll Rises

Seriously, we’ve moved beyond rodent control. I’ve lost count of how many mice the cats have killed. They even graduated to bunnies last week. The bunny count is 3 dead, 2 rescued and alive the last time I saw them. That’s right, rescued. They’ve taken to bringing live animals into the house via the pet door, and then killing them. Over the weekend, I was cleaning the toilet in the basement, and happened to see a bit of fur on the floor on the opposite side of the toilet. I stopped and said a little prayer: “Lord, please let this one be whole.” (The 3 dead ones were less than whole when we found them.) It was whole, but I wasn’t sure if it was alive, so I poked it. And it moved. I had to rescue it and give it a fighting chance to live, so I blocked off the bathroom, caught it, and took it outside. I decided that my new policy is to rescue the live animals and let them go outside to give them another chance at survival. If they stay in the house, they are goners (although I did notice that Georgia left enough dog food bits around her kennel that a bunny might be able to live in the basement for a while).

An update on Squirt, we had to retrieve him from the old house again yesterday. I really think he had gotten confused and thought we had just abandoned him there, instead of coming back home to the new house. When I went over to get him, he cried and cried at me. I took him home and put him at the food bowl, and he chowed down - several times. Every two hours, all through the night last night, he came crying through the house and all he needed was some to know we were there. I finally just started calling him to me and petting him until he went away again. I think he just had to make sure his family was still in the house. He stayed really close this morning while I was getting ready for work. I could see him lying in the floor outside the bathroom. Which meant I could also see Jewel bring him something from outside: a bunny. She brought a live bunny right inside and dropped it in front of him as if to say, “See what we do here at the new house?” The chase was on. The bunny ran back to the kitchen with the cats close behind, and I was right behind the cats. The bunny tried to jump out of a window, but it was closed so it went under the kitchen table instead. The cats chased it out from under the table, and I was waiting. I scooped it right up and took it outside and across the street the neighbor’s yard. Jewel gave me the stink eye when I got back inside, but Squirt was up for the game, so I’m hoping he’ll investigate further bunny hunting possibilities outside the house and stay for a while.

Georgia was a ball obsessed fool all weekend long. We got her a new pool, because she dug holes in the old one, so we spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons chasing balls and swimming. What a life.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Black Cat Protest, Pet Door Lessons, and Rodent Control

We moved into our new house over Memorial Day weekend, and spent the first night there Sunday. Georgia has been with us through all of the painting, cleaning, etc. so she was already fairly well adjusted to the new house. I brought the kitties over for the first time after we had moved and unpacked most of our stuff on Sunday. The plan was to keep them inside until they adjusted to the new house and started acting normal, because most cats don’t handle change very well. At approximately 4:30 Monday morning, Squirt was losing his mind. He was crying at the top of his lungs, standing on the dresser in the bedroom, and scratching at the mirror. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I let him outside so I could sleep in peace.

When I woke up at a decent hour on Monday morning, he was nowhere to be found. I didn’t see him when I fed them breakfast, I didn’t seem him when we got back from our shopping trip several hours later, and I knew. He had moved back to the old house. I stopped by my dad’s to use the computer (being without Internet service temporarily myself), and he told me that Squirt had been hanging around at the old house. I went to clean the old house and I brought Squirt inside so I could keep up with him. While I vacuumed, he hid under the kitchen sink. I loaded him up in the cat kennel again, took him to the new house, showed him the all important food bowl, and let him go. He investigated the yard, the house, the neighbors’ yards, and he was still there after several hours. When he finally went inside and ate, I knew that he had officially moved to the new house – our protest was over.

Georgia LOVES that the guest room has a WHOLE bed just for her. I think that is her room now, and if we ever have a guest, I’m not sure where she will sleep. She sleeps on that bed with her head on the pillow like a person. Apparently, Dave is having more difficulty adjusting to Georgia in the new house than Georgia. He says he can hear her walking on the hardwoods during the night, but I don’t know what he’s talking about because I’m dead tired when I finally get to bed and I don’t hear anything.

Georgia seems a little confused about the location of her kennel right now, but we’ll work that out. We started with it in the laundry room, but moved it to the basement because the laundry room was too crowded, and really too hot to leave her in there all day. When it’s time to kennel up in the mornings, she looks at me like, “Where?” Oh well, it won’t take long to get her on program. One thing that she’s totally on program with is the new pet door we put in the door that leads from the laundry room to the kitchen. I think she would rather use it than wait for me to open the door when we are both going through together. She waits at the door to make sure I’m coming, and then goes through the hole before I open the door.

We put the pet door in because the laundry room isn’t climate controlled and the kitchen stays much cooler if that door is closed. However, I have all the animals’ food and water in the laundry room, plus there’s a window in there for the cats to come and go, so they need access to that area all the time. Since Georgia needs to fit through it, it’s a very large pet door. Dave dared me to go through it the night he put it in. I told him there was no way my shoulders would fit through. I was wrong. Yes, that means I actually tried to squeeze through the pet door. I got my shoulders in, but the hips weren’t going – no surprise there. Then, when I tried to get out, I thought I was stuck, but I survived. He was laughing at me and I asked what he would have done if I was really stuck. He said, in his best country boy accent, “Rescue 20, my wife is stuck in the dog door.” It was quite comical.

The kittens are not adjusting as well as the George to the pet door. Jewel E. Cat really has no problem with it, but she’s been covering so much hunting ground that we’ve barely seen her in days. She checks in for breakfast, and that’s it. I’ve spent time stuffing Gypsy and Squirt through the flap, and I think they’ve both used it in a pinch, but they would rather I open the door for them when they yell at the pet door. They are still a little anxious about going through the flap. If I lift it for them, they will go through without a problem. I think they’ll get used to it when they get ready to sleep on the couch and I refuse to let them in. Also, if Georgia’s big head wasn’t always waiting on the other side for them, they probably wouldn’t be so hesitant. Beast.

So, rodent control… well, we seem to have quite the mouse population at the new house – outside only, so far. No worries, my kittens love a mouse chase. I’ve been a little worried that the new neighbors might have a problem with the kittens (Social Jewel has already been across the street on the neighbor’s porch). In preparation of my defense for letting them run around outside, I decided I would spin the rodent control angle. I’ve already seen several dead mice around. The other night, I let Georgia out and the kittens were all congregated in the driveway. She busted up the party, like always, and to her pleasant surprise, found that they were playing with a mouse. She wanted to play with the mouse, too. She kept trying to sniff and snuffle it (like she does everything new she happens upon in the yard if it’s smaller than her), and that little mouse was running all around her feet – feet that are bigger than the mouse. She was hilarious because she kept hopping around, trying to keep up with the mouse and sniff it at the same time. Occasionally, it would get away from her and she’d pounce on it again – never stepping on it, though. The kittens were surrounding the area, lest the big beast let it get away. I finally got her inside, and they finished up with Mr. Mouse.
What have the people been up to? Besides squeezing in pet doors? Hanging curtains and pictures, unpacking, organizing, meeting the air conditioner man, etc etc etc. When we turned on the AC Sunday, it was not working well. We had someone out on Tuesday to fix it, and he gave us the wonderful news that we will need to replace the unit soon. Hopefully, what he did to it will last the summer. We LOVE our new house. It’s a neat place with a lot more space. Dave has his own room downstairs with his office and his recliner and TV. I may never see him. My new kitchen is WONDERFUL! I cooked in it Monday night, and I loved it. It’s so comfortable, a great working kitchen. Lots of work will happen in there tonight, because the bridal shower is tomorrow!! I can’t believe how fast time has gone. The wedding is only a month away. Good grief.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Reason # 1,256 Why I Love My Dog

At 3:45 yesterday morning, Georgia barked her “booger bark.” That’s the scary one that wakes me out of a dead sleep in the middle of the night because something is wrong. And something was wrong. There was a dog in our yard, and it was stalking my cats. Gypsy was peacefully sleeping on the back porch like the house cat that she is (her previous street cat life convinced her to stay close to home). Squirt and Jewel were nowhere to be found, but there was a wad of fur in the driveway. You can imagine that I freaked out a little. I ran the dog off and whistled and whistled for the cats. After about 15 minutes, I gave up and decided that they were probably too scared to come out of hiding. I went back inside and stopped in the bathroom on the way back to bed. I heard Squirt jump in the window (that’s where they go to yell for me to open the door). I let him in and he was stinking like a skank-nasty dog. I’m pretty sure he tangled up with the dog that was in the yard, and got away from it. I checked him over and couldn’t find any visible injuries. When I got back in bed, Jewel was still out. I worried over her for a while, but admitted to myself that it was just as likely that she has a second family she sleeps with at night (she’s very social). Before Dave left for work at 5:30, he dropped her on the bed with me. She had come in for breakfast, as always. I checked her over, too, and couldn’t find any injuries. It seems that they escaped the killing dogs once again.

This is the second time that Georgia has woken me up in the middle of the night because a dog was after the cats. The first time it happened, I was too late to save the neighbor kitty, but mine all survived. It’s the same pack of dogs, too. They are really scary and I honestly believe that it won’t be long before they start attacking children. Apparently, Animal Control caught the main one several months ago, but it broke out of the holding pen and it’s had another litter of puppies – and it’s teaching them to hunt.

When we move to the new house, we are going to try making the cats inside kitties once again. They were fine in our first house with the basement, and the new house has a basement, too. The new house just has more room in general, so I’m hoping they can all peacefully coexist in the bigger space. It makes me nervous to let them outside there because it is closer to the creek, which is where the killing dogs stay most of the time. Plus, I get the impression that our new neighbors won’t appreciate Jewel’s social personality. We’ll see.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Revelation About Me

Everyone who knows me knows that my animals are my children. They may annoy me sometimes when they do things they aren't supposed to do (like coughing up a hairball on the carpet, jumping on the kitchen sink to get a bug, rolling in the middle of the bed when I'm trying to make it, scratching my bare skin when I've just gotten out of the shower because street cats don't know how to keep their claws in, etc.), but even when they are annoying me, I find joy in them. As I scold Jewel when she's about to jump on the counter after that bug, I can see the expression on her face saying, "But, MOM, there's a bug in the window!" Then she sulks off and cleans her self, giving me the stink eye the whole time. They have such great personalities, even when they are sneaky little witches.

There have been a couple of temporary pets that have stolen my heart, too. Oscar was one of them. I told his story last summer, I believe. My brother Rob brought him to my house after finding him eating garbage on an old logging road. He was sick with infection from the horrible cut on his neck where he had apparently broken off a chain, and he was so stinky. Bathing him was WILD. He was just a puppy, about 5 -6 months old, I know because he was losing his puppy teeth. He stayed in my yard until he was well, and he got so big and rambunctious that I was afraid he would hurt Georgia. We couldn't keep him, so I tried to find a home for him, with no luck. Rob and Dave took him to the Humane Society, and I'm pretty sure that sweet puppy found a forever home. He was such a sweet dog, just too big and out of control for me to handle at that point in my life. I cried like a baby the night before they took him away because I let him down. I took him in, but I couldn't give him what he needed to be the pet I needed him to be.

Before Oscar, there was Taco. Taco was a husky mix with white-blue eyes. She was called Taco because she looked like a larger version of the Taco Bell dog. She had been hanging around the neighborhood of some people we went to church with at the time. They were tired of her, but they fed her because she had just had a litter of puppies and she appeared to be starving. Dave offered for the people to bring her to our house. He thought they would drop her off and she would just fend for herself. This was early in his understanding of me and animals. :) She was also a super sweet and very stinky dog. She stayed in our yard in Gardendale, and she played pretty well with Georgia. She slept on an old comforter on the porch. Her only drawback was that she roamed a lot, it was the Husky in her, I think. There was one very traumatic night when I had put her on a tie-out on the porch so she wouldn't roam and get hit by a car. When I got back from class, the dog and the tie out were gone. Dave was home, but he had not let her go - he thought she had just left. I went looking for her and found her in the backyard. She was so traumatize from being tied up that she wouldn't even move. I had to pick her up and carry her back to her blanket on the porch, and she wasn't a small dog. She had obviously been mistreated. We decided we would keep her in the house with Georgia. I brought her in and bathed her on a Friday night, and we were going to the vet for shots on Saturday. Saturday morning, she took Georgia off into the woods and we couldn't find her for a while. We decided then that unless we were ready to fence the yard (and we couldn't afford it), then we couldn't keep her. Georgia would stay in the yard on her own, but Taco took her off and we couldn't risk losing here. We took Taco to the Humane Society, and that was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I cried like a baby over her, too.

That experience is why I made sure that Rob went with Dave to take Oscar to the Humane Society. It's a hard thing to do, and if you are going to pick up strays, you need to be able to do it. The rule at my house now is, if you pick one up, it goes to the Humane Society immediately. If it comes to the house, it will be treated as one of our pets - shots, spay/neuter, flea meds, kennel trained, house trained - all of it. I'm too soft to get attached to them and then have to take them away again without knowing if they will find a family.

I wrote all this as background to help explain what I learned about myself. As an avid animal lover, it's always been hard for me to imagine not liking an animal, especially someone's pet. In the past week, I've learned that I don't love them all. We’ve been dog sitting my in-laws’ Dachshund for a week. He started and ended the week by chasing and attacking Gypsy. I’m not happy with him. He is mean, he bites, he screeches and whines, he doesn’t listen, he’s stubborn, and he constantly has to be ON me. I could deal with all of that stuff, except the cat chasing. Last night, I though he was going to kill her. Luckily, she got away from him and she wasn’t hurt. Everyone in my house was traumatized by the time we got him under control, including him. On top of that, he is not kennel trained. When he’s in the kennel, he screeches at the top of his lungs and sounds like he’s going to stroke out. As you can imagine, there hasn’t been much sleeping going on lately. We tried letting him sleep with us at night, but he keeps us awake and he chases the cats. It's hard for me to not like him. I want to like him, but we just don't mesh well.

Georgia has been looking quite frazzled and she was really clingy this morning. She doesn’t like it when he misbehaves, and she REALLY doesn’t like it when there is yelling. :) Two of the cats, Gypsy and Squirt, all but moved out for the week. I’ve barely had to fill the cat food bowl because no one has been inside to eat. I feel so bad for all of my animals; it isn’t fair to them, and I’m not sure I can do this again. He goes home today, and I am looking forward to a peaceful night of sleep. I’m hoping my animals quickly return to normal.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Blog

This is the link to the new remodeling blog: I'm going to try to keep them separate. :)

This is it!

This is the new house. I took pictures of the inside as well, but I can only post a limited number in the blog. I will be creating a separate blog for the ongoing remodeling project, so there will be plenty of pictures in it. I plan to show before, during, and after of each room we do.
Last night was Day 1, we ripped out the carpet in all rooms except the den. The hardwoods don't look too bad - not nearly as bad as I expected. Hopefully our friends can meet us this weekend to work on refinishing. They work for food. :) Tonight we will be pulling the staples out of the floor. The carpet pad was stapled down, and the staples don't come with it when you pull it up. :) We probably would have done more last night, but we ran out of daylight and the power was off.
Speaking of power, do you know that you now have to provide proof of residence before you can get your utilities turned on? What a load. We tried to line up power, water, and gas last week so that it would all be on on closing day, but we couldn't. We had to bring a copy of the deed to prove that the it's our house. So we worked by Big Light (we gave my dad a giant flashlight for Christmas) until it was just too dark to see. Hopefully there will be power tonight.
I'm ready to start painting. I'm anxious about getting everything done in time for the shower and I'm just ready to paint and make it mine.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Today is the the day.

We close on our new house today at 4:00. We had a little scare because apparently today is Confederate Memorial Day and the courthouse is closed. Our credit union is in the courthouse so we thought we weren't going to be able to get our certified check. Luckily, the main branch is open today, so all is well. Let's hope there are no surprises at the closing table.

I'll take pictures of the house the next time I am home in the daylight, which will probably later this week. We have decided to go ahead and refinish the hardwoods because we have some friends that are going to help us with it. I think we'll be pulling up the carpet later this week so we can start that project. After the hardwoods, I'll be painting. We walked through the house again this weekend and I realized that there is WALLPAPER in the bathrooms. I DESPISE wallpaper and it is a pain in the butt to remove, so the bathroom will be the last thing I paint. That wallpaper looks like it is on there good, too; it isn't even peeling in the corners. :(

The deal is, I want to refinish the hardwoods, paint, and move in by June 1. This is because I'm co-hosting a shower in the new house on June 2. Dave is willing to go along with this plan because I promised that the next thing on the list, after hardwoods and paint, can be the little out building that needs some serious help to make it a functional space. He has also been promised the basement as "his area" until we can build a bigger outbuilding for him. Eventually, I think we will make the basement a master bedroom suite, but for now it will belong to him. This will allow me to do basically whatever I want upstairs. Within reason, of course. :) Future plans for the house include new kitchen counters and floor and remodeling the bathrooms and the basement. I'm so excited! There is so much potential just waiting there.

Friday, April 13, 2007

New Things

If pets look like their owners, who does this remind you of? Rebecca? Good, because this is her new kitten. :) She got him for Vivi, because Vivi has been behaving badly - most likely due to loneliness during the day. His name was Shep to begin with (the name of Vivi's husband in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), but she changed it to Dean. Apparently, she likes that name. :) I took this picture of him right after she got him; she brought him to my house so I could see him, and he hissed at everything, including the camera. This picture just makes me laugh everytime I look at it. Georgia was so intrigued by him and the more excited she got, the bigger he hissed and spit. I don't think he appreciated her very much.

This is the new painting I did last night at Sips 'n Strokes class. I think it turned out pretty cute, and I plan to hang it and the other one in my new house. Rebecca and Kendall went with me, and we had good time. I never would have expected my sister to be so Type A about painting, though. I thought that all three of our paintings looked great.
That's good for now. I just wanted to share these pictures.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Not Guilty!!

The verdict came back this morning, and he WON!! He won, he won, he won!! I'm so excited for him. This is good stuff.

Some background on the craziness of this week: Dave has spent the last several weeks preparing for a robbery trial. When he got to court Wednesday morning, he learned that the robbery was dismissed, but he would be trying a theft case for the same man. That day. With one hour to prepare. You see, he spent all of his time preparing for the robbery because it was higher on the docket. The judge was testing him - because he likes him. :) He did the best he could, and apparently that was enough to create a reasonable doubt for the jury! He saved this man from a sentence of 20 to life. For the record, if he was guilty of anything, it was probably a misdemeanor - not deserving of life imprisonment. As Dave said last night, it's a hard job - harder than he ever imagined it would be.

A house update - we are supposed to close on the 23rd of this month. God willing, everything will work out fine and this will be our house. We walked through it again this week and found some things that need work. It looks like the shower in the master bathroom leaks, so we'll probably need to replace it . This means down with the pink tile! :) (What is with the trend of pink tile? Yuck.) We are going to try using it for a while first to see if it is actually still leaking, or if the water stains on the ceiling downstairs are old. On that note, we've decided not to refinish the hardwoods (the ones that are hiding under the carpet) because the shower is probably a more immediate need. We will be doing some painting, too, before we move.

That's enough for now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I forgot something.

I forgot something really big in my update yesterday. Dave's first trial is scheduled for next week, April 9th. I can't disclose any details because of attorney-wife privilege, but please keep him in your thoughts as he prepares to try this case. He is really stressed out right now, so please pray specifically for calm and peace of mind as he prepares. Also, pray that God gives him the words he needs during the trial, that justice is served, and that Dave has peace with the verdict.

He's not on the "good" side of the law (he's the defense counsel - but then, I guess "good" is relative), so we have to be careful about praying for a victory. I will say that Dave is pretty sure the defendant is innocent, so he's really hoping to win. Are you thinking to yourself, "What does a lawyer do when he knows the client is guilty?" The answer is: He hopes that the district attorney does his job well. The majority of Dave's work is appointed by the family court, and most of the people he represents are there because they NEED to be (i.e. the kids need to be taken away, the mom does have a drug habit, etc.) so his job is to get the best deal possible for his client and hope that the other side does a good job.

It would be wonderful if he won his first trial, but I just hope he does his best and that he is happy with his effort - regardless of the outcome. Anyone who knows him well knows that he will argue with a rock just for the sake of arguing. It's fun for him. He's been practicing on me for years. I've been thoroughly cross-examined a multitude of times, so let's all hope that he uses that experience in the courtroom next week. By the way, when I said this to him last week he told me that the difference between arguing with me and arguing in the courtroom is that I don't have a lawyer present. I told him that I thought I may need to get one. :) The Good Lord knows I can't win an argument with him on my own. With all due respect for myself, it IS virtually impossible to win an arguement with someone who argues just for the sake of arguing. How can you make a point if the person you are arguing against changes his position over and over again so that nothing you say is relevant to the next point? He's very good at getting your thoughts so twisted that you don't know what you believe anymore. Surely he can do that in the courtroom and create a reasonable doubt for the jury, right? I can't think of anyone who should have been a lawyer more than him.

On that note, please pray for my sanity, and my sense of humor. :) If we survive this one, we'll be okay through all the rest of the trials in his life - court trials, anyway.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Serial Contract Writers Strike Again!

Once again, we’ve put a contract on a house. Hopefully this will be the last one. This is the house that we heard a rumor about last week. There isn’t even a sign in the yard yet. We got to see it unofficially on Saturday (that means we walked up to the people in the yard and asked them if we could go inside) and then we saw it again officially on Sunday (with our agent). I love it. It reminds me of our house in Gardendale, which I still miss SO MUCH sometimes. It doesn’t look anything like it, but it feels right. And, it has the same old people smell that the Gardendale house had in the beginning. Luckily, I know how to get rid of that now. The yard is huge and beautiful, and fenced in. There is a nice brick patio in the back and a huge front porch. It’s 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, and it probably has hardwoods under all the carpets. The kitchen is very comfortable with giant window over the sink and lots of cabinets. There is a laundry room off the kitchen – big enough for a kennel and the animal feeding station. Maybe this will be home. God willing, the inspection will come back okay and we can finish this house search.

Speaking of God, this is the Christian Holy Week – the week between Palm Sunday (when Jesus returned to Jerusalem) and Easter (when He was resurrected after being crucified). I think this is my favorite holiday because it just astounds me that God sent His only Son to die for me. Isn’t that amazing? Jesus Christ came to this earth to set an example of how we should live our lives, and then He died to wash our sins away so that we can have eternal life in Heaven. Also at His death, the veil that shrouded the Holy of Holies was torn in half, giving us direct access to God so that we can have a personal relationship with Him. As with most relationships, I don’t always give that one enough attention, and I am a sinner by nature, but I cannot imagine how hopeless I would be without God. Amazing things happen when Christians pray. Read more about the real meaning of Easter in the Gospels: Matthew 27: 35-50, Mark 15:24-37, Luke 23: 22-46, and John 19: 18-30.

Finally, here are a few pictures we took over the weekend. Bunny ears have nothing to do with the Risen Christ, but they are awfully cute on a Brown Dog. The azaleas in our backyard are gorgeous, too!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is that a fuzzy caterpillar?

Nope! It's Gypsy and Squirt having a summer nap in the shade.

It's not really summer yet, but 88 degrees certainly starts feeling like summer. The kitties love this carpet roll that Dave and I have been carrying from house to house with us. We have a certain attachment to this roll of carpet. See, this is the carpet that we put into our house in Gardendale AFTER we moved out of it. It replaced some hideous tannish-gold carpet, and since we didn't get to live on the new carpet, we brought some with us. It stays on the carport because our house has carpet already, but we just couldn't bear to part with it.

Anyway, the kitties love to lounge on it, so I guess it's good for something.

This is a picture of the tablescape I created for our Ladies' Night Out a few weeks ago. It also had clear glasses with gold rims, but I bought them and put them out after taking this picture. A funny thing about those glasses and ladies, I had eight glasses because the table sat eight, but when the men were filling the glasses, one was missing. I could not figure out what happened to it - until the end of the evening when I happened to be following behind a seasoned lady who passed by my table to replace the glass she had taken from it earlier. Apparently, she did not want to drink out of the gold rimmed goblets that were on the table where she was sitting, so she borrowed a glass that would match from my table. Go figure. No big deal, except that one of the ladies at my table had to drink out of a plastic cup. Women. The favors were little candles in travel tins, and I had enough fruit to last two weeks once the thing was over.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's Wedding Season!!

Obviously, since we only attended one wedding last year, we are making up for it now! Presently, I am co-planning a reception, a bridal shower, and a baby shower, and buying gifts for all of those plus three more. I'm also the Wedding Liason at church, so I'm now coordinating an unexpected wedding that just popped up. It's the first wedding in the 7 months that I've had this position, and it had to happen now. At least it will be over in about two weeks (I'm glad I'm not planning that one!). My calendar is so full it makes me cringe when I open it. I'm also in charge of the Mother's Day Basket fundraiser at church, so I'm really wondering what else I can add to my agenda right now. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?

Anxiety aside, it will all be dramatic and fun (and funny when approached with a spirit of silliness), and I won't have to worry about being bored for a while. I'm so thankful that I have a beach trip planned in June.

I attempted to decorate a cute cake over the weekend and it was a DISASTER! The cake is very tasty, but the icing melted because it was too hot in my house, so it didn't turn out as cute as I had planned. It was my plan for the bridal shower I am co-planning, but that plan has been modified.

I stayed home from work yesterday because I hurt my back over the weekend and I needed a visit to the chiropractor. He told me that sitting in my chair all day will cause me to have this catch in my lower back. I guess that means I should retire. :) How am I supposed to NOT sit in my chair?! :) He did say that I need to get up and walk around more often, so I'm trying that today and it seems to be helping. Of course, had I not walked the 70 lb. dog last night, it would probably help more, but that was me being dumb because it felt better.

On the house front... we are at a loss. There is rumor that another one in our neighborhood will be on the market next week, so we are planning to go see it. We have until June to find one before our preapproval expires.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My So Called Life

Closet Kitten

Jewel frequently adopts a favorite spot for sleeping, and this seems to be the spot for those occasions when she's feeling a little anti-social. You can't tell from the picture, but she's in the top of my closet.

I know I say this every time I post, but life has been crazybusy lately! I cannot believe it is March already. For the record, I started this post about 2 weeks ago, but I was called onto a critical project, and then another one, and so it goes. Last week felt like two because I spent the first two days in Charlotte, NC on a client site. So, updates....

We withdrew our contract on the house we were looking at because there was just too much work to be done. It was a two bedroom with a full basement, and we were planning to buy it with the intention of finishing the basement. In order to finish the basement, we were going to have to dig up the yard with a backhoe, put in a drain, fill in the yard, re-landscape, and rebuild a front porch. That was just going to be too much to fit into my crazy life right now. We are looking at another one that we've been watching for quite some time, so we'll see what happens with that. It's not in our neighborhood, but I think we've about gotten over that requirement.

What else? Well, Dave and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary on February 21st. That's pretty freaking amazing. If the past two months have gone fast, the last three years have been traveling at the speed of light. :) I found a great lawyer briefcase for Dave that has a pocket for his laptop, so that was his present. He seems to really like it, and now he has a bag for his "things." Which is good, so maybe I won't have to carry his "things" in my purse now. He really outdid himself with my present. I got a new car! Well, new to me anyway, and for those of you who know what I drove, you'll know that a 98 model would have been new to me. :) Anyway, its a 2003 Camry, and it's the nicest thing I've ever owned. It's burgundy, which is wonderful because I told him I didn't want white or any kind of non-color (non-color = silver, champagne, etc.), those are all nice, but I really needed a color after driving a white car for 10 years. Yes, that's right, the car I was driving was my first car. I bought it when I was 16 and it was 2 years old then. You can see why I'm elated to finally have a new one. The best part is that I didn't have to do the shopping and haggling, and we got a pretty good deal on it. Yay! :)

Work - what can I say? It's just crazy. I have barely been eating lunch most days. I keep hoping it will slow down just a little, but things keep coming up. Dave has been very busy with work, too, which make us both happy.

He had a car accident recently (right before I got a new one), and we are waiting to see if he gets a new car, too. A lady rear-ended him on the off ramp of the Interstate. He was supposed to see the adjuster last week, but he had to reschedule because of the storms. Hopefully he'll get that taken care of this week. He wasn't hurt at all, just the car, thank goodness. I think the accident inspired him to start shopping for a new car for me. Yay. :)

There are lots of church things coming up. We have our annual Ladies' Night Out this weekend, and I'm decorating a table for it. I'm also in charge of the men who will be serving, so that should be fun. :) I'll try to remember to take pictures of my table to post.

On the wedding front, we have two to plan for now. Dave's niece is now getting married in May, and my cousin is getting married in July. I don't have much to plan for the niece - I just have to be there, but I'm in my cousin's wedding and helping with the decorations. I found some good flip-flops to wear with the dress over the weekend, so I'm happy about that. They have enough of a heel that I won't have to have it hemmed. The wedding is outside in the park, and the tallest girl has to wear flat shoes for her dress to fit, so we are all wearing flip flops. They won't show, don't worry. Anyway, they are brown, so I'll be able to wear them with everything.

I SO need a vacation, or three. I might actually get three this year, too, if I do it right. There should be two family beach trips (one per family - my families), plus Dave and I are going to try to take one by ourselves. We haven't had a big vacation since our honeymoon, and I'm ready for one. We really need time to pretend that the rest of the world doesn't exist. I'm thinking we will try to go on a cruise this fall.

Oh, yesterday marked the official start of Birthday Week 2007 for my sister. She is the only person I know who celebrates her birthday for a whole week. Me? I'd rather skip it, but that doesn't happen.

I guess that's all for now. Until next month, I guess...... :) (Hopefully it will be sooner than that.)

By the way, the date on this post says February 19th, but it's really March 5th. That's how long it took me to write it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sips 'n Strokes

I painted this at an art class called Sips 'n Strokes. There is a little art gallery on 280 that has paint classes several times a week; you bring a bottle of wine and $25 and the artist supplies the materials and teaches you how to paint the painting. I really enjoyed it and I plan to do it again. The art gallery is called Wendy LoVoy, and if you are interested in the class, you can see the calendar at

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's Only Been 21 Days, People!

I know, I’m way over due with this update, but life has been crazy since the New Year started!

People news first (because there’s actually more of it, for once):
The unbelievable has happened – Dave’s parents finally moved. I say it’s unbelievable because they have been talking about moving and listing their house for the majority of the time I’ve known them – about 7 years, now. They’ve looked and looked and looked for houses, but could never find a house big enough for their stuff, or a yard big enough, or a house that had a place to park the camper. It really seemed as if they just didn’t want to move, and I’ve been saying all along that I would believe they were moving when I saw it happen. It happened. The ended up buying a much smaller house about 10 miles from Dave’s brother; it does have a big yard and a place to park the camper, though. We moved them on the first weekend of the January. Even though they’ve been cleaning out and “downsizing,” we moved 20-something years worth of stuff. Really – twenty years worth of tax records. I, myself, moved the tax records onto the truck, and there was a box for every year since 1987. 1987 PEOPLE! She said she was going to burn them. (Are you asking yourself why she didn’t burn them before they moved? I did, and I asked her, too.)

Anyway, we moved most of the stuff (packed in OUR plastic tubs, mind you – what a great idea!) and they had a moving company move the furniture. I also received an assignment to re-caulk the bathtub, which I wholeheartedly agreed to do because I haven’t had a home improvement project in about a year. I didn’t know when I agreed that I would be doing it THAT day, but it worked out great since I hurt my back somewhere along the way and I really couldn’t lift anything. So, I caulked the bathtub and the boys moved the stuff. When I got home that night, I could not bend over. We had to make an emergency run to the Dollar General for Bengay so that I would be able to move and sleep. It was bad. I went to the chiropractor the following Tuesday and got that fixed.

It seems that caulking that bathtub got my home improvement juices flowing again. I walked around their new house planning all the things I would do to it. Since then, Dave and I have started looking for houses. We know we want one in our neighborhood, and we’d like to have one that needs some work (because those are the fun ones). Several have been put on the market, so we’ve been walking through them and weighing our options. Given the fact that Dave finally got his first paycheck from the state (insert a mini-celebration here!), we feel like we are in a decent position to buy a house and actually be able to make a house payment. We’ve been living for free in my grandparents’ house – courtesy of Jan and the uncles – for nearly a year now so that Dave could start his practice. I love our little house, but it’s just too little, so it’s time to buy our own. We’ve got our eyes on a 2/2 with a basement on a lot on the creek that seems to be in good condition. It needs updating and minor repairs, but we aren’t opposed to that. I really think I’m ready for another project. I’ve been project-less for nearly a year, and I woke up this morning planning what I would do to this house. We’ll see if it works out.

In addition to receiving his first paycheck, Dave also found an office to rent that is right across the street from the courthouse. He’s very excited because now he has a place to go every day, even when there isn’t anything happening in court. I’m very excited because it’s just an exciting time. I’m so proud of him! I suspect that having an office will increase business, and we all know that a busy Dave is a happy Dave. We shopped for and assembled some furniture, and moved him in the second weekend of January. He’s sharing the building with two established lawyers, so I think this could be really good for him. We also recently completed our quest for guest chairs, so his office furniture should be complete.

I spent last week in Indianapolis where the average temperature was COLD (seriously, lows of 12 and highs of 27 - with wind). I came home just before the Colts fans flooded the city (Go Colts!), but the air was pretty festive by Thursday. Business was good, and I have plenty to do between now and the end of February when I go back again. Indy is becoming like a second home to me – not that I would mind having that Hilton bed at my house. Work is busy, and I like it. I’ve also been cooking out of my new Rachel Ray cookbook (If you don’t know who Rachel Ray is, check your Nabisco products for her face. She’s my favorite Food Network personality). Rebecca gave me the cookbook for Christmas, and I’ve already gotten goo on the pages! That’s a sign of a good cookbook, you know. I’ve also been re-reading the Harry Potter books. Rumor has it that the last one comes out this summer, and I want to make sure I’m prepared for it. I’m up to book four, and enjoying them even more than I did the first (or second) time I read them.

Pet news:
We got a new arm chair for our living room, and when Daddy and Dave moved it in, they nearly had to carry Georgia in it. She jumped on it before it was on the floor. She’s trying to claim it as her own, but Dave is fighting her for it. She had her first raw egg to eat last night, and she slurped the insides up but wouldn’t eat the shell. (I’m not crazy, the shells are good for their teeth and bones, and most dogs will eat them.) We’ll try again soon and see if she eats the shell.

Jewel busted up her chin in a fight (I’m assuming), so we’ve been calling her Rocky. She had a big scab on her upper lip and chin, but it’s gone now and her chin just looks really pink.

Gypsy is her usual miniature self, albeit a little more snuggly since the weather has been cooler. She’s taken to sleeping between Dave and me with her head at the pillows, stretched out like a person. Dave hates it when he realizes it, but she’s so light, he hardly ever knows she’s there. She’s definitely my cat; she follows me around and talks to me during my routine every morning and night.

Squirt has been wearing out his feather balls he got for Christmas. When he finally comes inside in the evenings, he eats first (always), and then plays with the feather balls. We are usually settled down on the couch, and we here him banging and crashing around on the kitchen floor chasing that ball. He may have actually lost a little weight, though, so that’s good. The knot on his side is gone now, but his sore on his shoulder is still not cleared up. He really messed it up while I was in Indy, so we are working on getting it healed again. Dave barely remembers to feed them when I’m away, and since Squirt only surfaces at certain times of the day, I knew he’d never remember to doctor him. I’m about to give up, myself. I can tell that he just licks and licks it, but it really had started to grow hair again. Now we are back to square one. How many times have I said that about this sore? Three, I think. Neurotic cat.

Well, I think that’s enough for now. I’ll post some random, silly pictures I’ve collected soon; and if something serious happens with this house, I’ll post pictures of it, too.

Oh, and Chance the swimmer puppy that I posted about a while back is now up for adoption. His prognosis is good and they think he’s ready for a forever home! That’s so exciting, and it’s a good thing I don’t live closer to him or have a bigger house right now, because I think I might have to have him. I’m sure he’ll find a forever home in no time.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

And Happy New Year!

The boys: Nathan, Rob, and Dave.

The favors: martini glasses with the 007 logo.

The centerpiece.

The girls: Me, Rebecca, and Georgia.

A very tired Georgia.

Rebecca and I threw a small New Year's Eve party with a James Bond theme, since it IS 007 this year. The boys griped because we made them dress up, but what girl doesn't like to wear a pretty dress occasionally? Let's face it after highschool, and maybe college, there just aren't that many opportunities - so we created our own. Everyone looked great, and we had a great time.

Poor Georgia didn't make it all night. She did great, but the loud music and general rowdiness got to be too much for her as the night wore on. I ended up locking her in the bedroom with the cats (I knew they wouldn't appreciate a party). They all slept on the bed together until it was over. The next morning, she was just as tired as we were. :) One thing she likes about a party, the food. She stood guard over the buffet and looked at us with sad eyes whenever we came near it. I don't know what all she ate that night, but she was so well behaved.

I made it to bed about three, and that was WAY past my bedtime. Of course, my body didn't let me sleep past 8 a.m. on New Year's Day, so it was a lazy day. Fortunately, I'd planned ahead and done all my chores so I could be lazy. We had a great meal with all the things you are supposed to eat on New Year's: pork, greens (cabbage, thank goodness), and black-eyed peas.

Despite the good food and football, I really think New Year's Day has to be one of the most depressing days of the year. It's the official end to the holiday season, the last big break until you take a vacation (for most people), the return to normality, and just a general time of let-down after the busy holiday season. To sum up: it sucks. And, this year it was on a Monday, and you all know how I feel about Mondays. They suck. :)

So, here I am in my cube on the 2nd of January, and it's time to get on with it. Of course there were changes when I got to work this morning, that seems to be a regular occurrence these days. It's getting to a point where I'm not sure what "normal" is in my work environment right now. Anywho, there was some good news: as of the 8th, I will be a full-time employee!! That means I'm no longer a contractor, I will get paid vacation and sick time, a retirement plan, insurance, and a raise! Yay!! Best of all, I'll no longer have to work through a third party company. I'm very excited since this was one of my personal goals for 2007, and it means good things for my little family.

Oh, by the way, Go Broncos!! (Boise State Broncos, that is.) I was really struggling about pulling for Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, because I think their blue astro-turf is just ridiculous, but I'm a sucker for the under dog (I know, who would've guessed?). With a minute and thirty left on the clock, I rolled over and went to sleep because I knew the game was over and Oklahoma was going to win like everyone thought. I was wrong. As Zabransky said, there was "plenty of magic left" because the next thing I knew, Dave had woken up and was yelling: "They tied the game!" What?! I have to wake up and watch the rest of this?!? I'm glad I did because that was some of the best football I've seen in a long time. I may just have to forgive them for their blue field after all.

That's enough for now.

Oh wait, I forgot to add that I rode my bike up the freakin' Student Retreat hill and I'm very proud of myself! :)