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First Dates and Consequences

4 Sep


First, let me say that renewing your tabs is hard.  I admire all of you who get it done.  Sometimes I get my tabs renewed, but then putting them on the car is hard.  This was not my first tab-related run-in with the law.  I believe it was my fourth.

When the nice man pulled me over, he said, “Ma’am [cringe], I pulled you over because your tabs are expired.”  I almost said: “I know!  Did you notice how I was trying to stay BEHIND you?”  The clever fella had pulled off the road, let me pass him, then pulled back on and pulled me over.  Sneaky…  What I actually said, though, was, “I know, I just noticed that,” which was a total lie, and “I changed my name and moved last year, so never received a notice in the mail.  I didn’t know they wouldn’t find me like all my bills did.”  That part was true.  And I didn’t notice for a few months, but it should’ve been done by now.

Because we were on the highway, he was talking to me through my passenger window.  When he went back to his car to make sure I’m not a felon or whatever, I noticed that we’d been chatting over an open container of gin on the floor.  In my defense, I don’t have a trunk and the seats are down in my SUV, so that was the least chaotic place to stash it on my drive home.  While he was away, I quickly covered it with my bag and fluffed my hair up a little for good measure.  He came back with a warning for the tabs and a “ticket” for my expired proof of insurance (another thing that is hard), and sent me on my way.  He was pretty nice, but not very observant.

I bet you’re wondering what a nice girl like me is doing driving around with an open container of gin.  Well, it was left over from a first date I had last night.  My lovely friend over at Riot and Frolic was nice enough to have me for dinner, drinks, and blog-strategy.  We’ve been FBBFFs (that’s facebook-best-friends-forever…s) for a while now, but decided it was time to take things to the next level.  It was lovely and charming and full of fresh produce and fancy tonic water in small bottles.  I had brought the drink ingredients, and was just on my way home with my little open container.  No big.

I feel lucky to have so many great friends, but new ones are so great and it’s definitely harder to make them once you’re out of dorm life.  Even turning a coworker into a friend isn’t as easy as you get older.  At least it’s not as hard for me as it is for the menfolk, but I couldn’t help my amusement at how we were both nervous that it might not “work out.”  But it did, and I’ll probably wait 3 days and then call her.  Look out, this could be the beginning of some great writing material…

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Very Busy and Important

24 Aug


Me.  I am very busy and important.  Okay, maybe just busy…  This week goes down in history (I’m probably forgetting some weeks in history) as the Busiest Week Ever.  It’s kind of a funny story…

Normally, I work Tuesday-Saturday, as I mentioned in my last post.  This week, however, we were going to be closed on Saturday due to a work function in Chicago that did not involve me.  So I opted to work Monday-Friday for a free three-day weekend!  Plus, I’d have been home alone, so I was going to have a party in my basement.  At least one person said they’d come.  Then, however, I was asked to join on this Chicago thing.  Oh, and I need you to still work Monday.  Fiiiine.  Plans: canceled.  Fun: over.  It turns out that having a one-day weekend makes me a little, shall we say, testy.  So in my testy state, I did some quick math and figured I’m working 99 hours this week.  Including commute time… it sounds more pitiful.

Once I finished feeling sorry for myself, I started to panic.  First, I do need to sleep.  So, working around that and my 14-hour days, I need to get the basic things accomplished, and get my business-suited self off to Chicago for a long day and a black-tie evening.  *deep breaths start… NOW*

I’ve got some systems in place to get me through my busy weeks, but this week my systems are failing me.  Part of my week-prep involves making an egg bake for breakfast all week.  It’s the greatest thing, because you can change the ingredients around to suit your mood.  The base is a loaf of crusty bread, like a baguette, an egg mixture, and cheese.  But you can use goat cheese, or cheddar cheese, or swiss cheese, and so on.  You get the idea, right?  Sometimes a little goat cheese with spinach and bacon is nice.  Sometimes I like to use the Mexican cheddar and throw in some olives and chorizo and have myself some huevos for the week.  Life on the edge.  One of these days I’ll teach you all how to make it.  For now, though, I’ll just wish I had some.  One-day weekend system fail.

Another system failure: I set up the coffee pot each night… okay, I’m lying.  He sets the coffee up.  He also puts a mug of it on my bedside table in the morning, and that has become my alarm clock.  I know, spoiled.

Okay, he doesn’t put a picked flower with it, but I am NOT complaining.  (Even if the occasional flower would be nice…)
This coffee thing is a double time-saver, though.  First, I get coffee in my system ASAP so that I can function to get out the door ever.  I won’t say it happens quickly, because it doesn’t.  I am my mother.  I also take a mug of it with me, saving me a stop on the way to work.  I didn’t say these were innovations, just systems.  And this one won’t happen all week because I simply can’t drink a whole pot (i.e., I like to go to Caribou).
And did I say I was my mother?  Not quite.  I’ve got my own spin on it… She has to leave the house 6 times before she leaves the house, each door slam louder than the last.  I just cover all those trips in and out before I walk out the door.  Same amount of time, less obvious malfunction.  Always improving on the previous generation.

I’m working on a system to get the dishes and laundry done so that I don’t come home to a disaster zone, but I’m not sure where exactly that fits in.  I’m starting to wonder how other people get things done.

Sure…

Weekbeginning

22 Aug


I have a strange “weekend” setup.  Usually it starts around 5 on Saturday, and ends with work on Tuesday morning.  The Saturday night bit feels like a weekend, but the rest of it feels like a weekbeginning, filled with preparations for my upcoming workweek.  Sometimes that means cooking, sometimes it means cleaning, and it always means laundry.  Usually I try to squeeze in a new recipe or thing I haven’t tried before, like learning to crochet or fixing something.

This weekend/beginning is different.  My normal schedule has been condensed into 1.3 days, which has a strange effect on me.  Something like… I have nothing to do!  I guess I didn’t completely slack off.  First, I discovered that I’m pretty great at grilling big juicy steaks.  A friend told me about a rub he makes that gave me a much simpler idea… on one of my steaks, I did a pretty good seasoning of salt and pepper, and then sprinkled some granulated sugar and a little cayenne pepper.  Amazing hot caramely sweet crust.

Next was the final shift of our amazing garage sale.  I got off to a Very Early Start this morning, even though our first customer didn’t show up for a few hours.

I popped my weekly breakfast egg bake into the oven when I got there, had some coffee, and the day began.  After all was said and done, the gang brought in over $500!  An episode worth repeating, I think.  We saw some interesting characters, got rid of almost enough junk, and made a little cash.  The only downer?  The lady who walked away with some of my junk without paying for it.  Wouldn’t have bothered me so much if it hadn’t been set aside with some things that another customer wanted to actually PAY for.

After I got home with my compact carload of ugly Christmas plates and mugs (had two carloads at the beginning!), I threw in some laundry and decided my time would be best spent lying in the grass and making a little progress on The Help.

I thought our glasses looked like they were on an adventure.
I nearly got to take a nap in the sun, but Someone decided he was hungry.  We thought we could treat ourselves a little as we’d made a killing selling our junk to people who collect junk, and got rid of lots of junk in the process.  Plus, the great part about a 1.3 day weekend is that you don’t have much time to accidentally spend money you don’t need to spend.  We thought we’d walk to a “nearby” establishment for some supper, promising each other we would aim towards the cheaper items on the menu.  I say “nearby” because when you live as far from civilization as we do, every establishment you walk past is an entire block.  Home Depot, Best Buy, etc.  We walked just under 3 miles to a seafood restaurant (in MN) where we discovered that it was a little overpriced, but also industry night, and they counted us among the working folk.  Also, everything had a bit of a southern/bayou twist, so we got to douse it all in hot sauce and Cajun seasoning!  So our $32 bill became $16 and we left stuffed.  Score!

I didn’t have much time for culinary adventures or creativity, and I’m not really optimistic about finding time for that in the next several days.  But I’m beginning this week with clean laundry and a little cash in my pocket.  I can’t move my legs right now because of my 6-mile trek to dinner, but we can’t have everything, can we.

The Opposite of Shopping

18 Aug


We’re having a garage sale.  No, not a two-for-one on garages, but a smorgasbord of discards.  There will be treasures ranging from absolute junk to stuff I just don’t need or use anymore.  Or ever.  It gets better… it’s not just my junk, but the junk of 3 other households as well!  The next few days will determine whether this is the best or the worst idea ever born of this group of ladies.  And it’s got competition in both directions, so it’s going to be a close race.

Donation is the way we usually get rid of stuff around here, but did you know that Goodwill won’t accept Christmas items in the summer?  When on earth do you think I go through my Christmas stuff??  So it’s important that these items sell this weekend.  It is not important that I take home a great profit (except on my vintage historical stereo with detachable speakers and double tape deck), it’s important that I NOT take home any Christmas stuff.  So, garage sale it is!

This forces me to look at my stuff and ask myself if I want to move it again.  There’s no telling how far the next move might be, so it’s an important question.  That cookie sheet?  Definitely not.  Not moving that guy again, he doesn’t pull his weight.  Cookies and frozen pizzas just stick, and stick, and stick.  But the stereo with detachable speakers – yes, detachable speakers! – that I bought in 9th grade?  With my own money, mind you.  VERY industrious at 14.  I flamed out early.  I’ll put that stereo in the sale pile.  But I’m definitely pricing it out of range so that I can continue to move it from house to house.  This way, though, he thinks I tried my best to get rid of it and it just wouldn’t sell.  It’s vintage!  A piece of history!  I’m sure you understand.

The trick will be to resist taking my fistful of cash (or pennies) and reinvesting it.  Garage sales are their own circle of life.  You buy something at a garage sale, and ultimately end up selling it at a garage sale.  You take the money handed to you in exchange for that item, and rush out to “reinvest” it in someone else’s vintage electronics.  Or whatever your thing is.  My most recent treasure?  A vintage ash tray.  I don’t smoke.

Isn’t she lovely?

With my recent vow of thriftiness, the idea here is to take my profits and invest them in an actual bank.  No shopping.  I’m pretty sure I can do it unless I run across new lampshades for my kitchen chandelier or a sewing machine that I just cannot pass up.  I’m sure you understand.  To help me stick to it, I’m counting this as a “revenue stream.”  Someone told me once that a household should have several revenue streams – ideally, 7 of them.  Did you know that?  Me either.  It’s interesting to think about, though, and I think it can’t be bad to shoot for.  We each have a job: check, check.  I think investments count: check…?  Once or twice a year, I sell some junk or some craftiness: check.  Still need three more streams, but I’m not sure I can be bothered about that just yet.  Someday, friends, enough people will read these ramblings that this very page could be a revenue stream… okay, maybe not.

When you’re cruising the sidewalks this weekend, snapping up other peoples’ junk (it’s probably an antique!  they don’t even know its value!), bid persistently.  Don’t let those ladies emotionally overprice their items out of purchaseland.  That’s their revenue stream and it’s our responsibility to make sure they end the day with cash, not a failed trip to Goodwill.  Go forth and garage sale!

The Gang’s All Here

8 Aug


Another success!  We had a great mix of folks over to our house yesterday for some amazing food and all around good times.  At times like these, it really pays to be friends with so many foodies/pastry chefs.

Aside from the opportunity to do something nice for people we love, the best reason to have a party is so that the house gets “cleaned.”  By “cleaned,” I mean the area of the house intended to be seen.  So, for those of you who went upstairs or downstairs for any reason, I apologize for whatever you may have seen or stepped in.

Saturday night involved a little stopover at a friend’s BBQ, some tacos, and a final trip to the store.  Then came home to whip up my famous (according to me) caramelized onion dip and a salsa that sounded good in my head: pineapples, cilantro, habanero, etc.  I had been warned about the habanero part, so I decided to save it for last.  I gave the onions a rough chop in the food processor, then went to work on the pineapple.

I tried doing the pineapple in the food processor, also, but it came out… frothy?  Like a pina colada.  Which made me wish I had some rum, not some tortilla chips.  So I decided to chop the rest up with a knife.  Enter some cilantro and red bell pepper and I was ready to approch Mr. H.  Here he is, double-bagged, and then being severed by a masked bandit.
I didn’t have any gloves, and I read something about how the oils on these suckers can burn your skin.  Forget rubbing your eyes!  So I thought I just wouldn’t take any chances and popped some Ziploc baggies on my mits.  And yes, that is my husbands Miller High Life t-shirt.  No, you can’t have it.  Some taste testing was necessary once it was done, and Husband thought it needed jalapeno Tabasco, so we tossed some of that in there, squeezed a little lime, and let it fridge overnight.  It tasted even better the next day, and got pretty good reviews!  Another recipe: invented.  We’re changing lives, people.

The highlights were the cheesecake with blueberry sauce, the blueberry pie still warm from the oven (I know), the guacamole, and the chocolate muffins with peanut butter frosting and sugared bacon.  Frisbees were caught in trees, marshmallows were intended for projectile use only, and a good time was had by me.

The evidence has all been hidden, and since the vacuum is still out of the closet, I may even make today THE DAY that the other floors of the house are introduced to it.  But no promises.  And lastly, may I recommend to you all, if you want to have a Sunday bash, don’t work on Monday.  It’s my new favorite day of the week.

 

Don’t Tell Me That’s The Bridge…

3 Aug


I’m not always so outdoorsy…

We went Up North this weekend.  For those of you not from around here, that’s what Minnesotans do on the weekend in the summer.  We spend 9 months shuffling as quickly as possible in our vertical sleeping bags from car to door and back again, so when it hits 51 degrees, all sleeves and pant legs come off and we park our butts outside.  We endure some crazy heat waves, vicious flies, and monster mosquitoes just because we know it’s better than being cold.  As I type this, I’m fighting the urge to scratch my left shoulder completely off.

We made our way up the shore to my favorite spot, Cove Point Lodge.  We had some time to kill before check-in, so we ate (naturally), and crawled around at Palisade Head.  There are blueberries everywhere!  It had been an hour or so since my last pizza, so I had a nice little antioxidant-rich snack.  When we got back to the lodge and got settled, we drank a deeeelishus French white wine in some Adirondack chairs on the shore of Lake Superior.  I couldn’t help but notice the wineless young lady who watched us while she chased her small child around.  I gave her a little pity smile…

We found some decent-tasting, overpriced food for supper…. smoked caribou, anyone?  And that was pretty much the end of the first day.  We got up the next morning and had a bizarre Scandinavian breakfast of pickled fish, pickled cucumbers (why are these not just called pickles?), hard boiled eggs, cheese, and dinner rolls.  And coffee.  We didn’t really have a plan for the day until he flipped open one of the magazines in the room and noticed that one of the state’s “best hiking trails” was about 3 miles away.  He was possibly getting in over his head with this idea, but whatever…

We found the trail and since it was an 11-mile loop, we figured we’d walk for a little bit and then turn back.  I may be a professional dancer, but I’m not exactly graceful.  I only actually fell down one time, but that’s mostly because I’m really, really careful about where I place each step.  Read: slow.  There was only one thunderstorm, which was nice, so we kept a pretty good pace.  We saw pretty flowers…

And took some bad pictures of ourselves… you don’t really need to see those.

We put in 4 or 5 miles on this trail, and pointed the car towards home.  We stopped for some calories we had sort of earned, and thought we’d stop at Split Rock.  Apparently they charge for that now, and we’re on a budget.  So we headed for Two Harbors (destination: Betty’s Pies), but then he pulls over emergency-style at the Split Rock wayside.  “Want to go for a walk?”  I only sort of have to pee at this point, so I figure why not?  We head down the trail, and after a few minutes we get to the first loop.  Again, we’ll just go a little way up and then turn around.  Right?  Nope.  This turned into “we HAVE to be getting close to the turnaround point.”  We were looking for a bridge that went across the Split Rock River.  My dismay was felt for miles when, after 4 days in the wilderness, we came across this…

At this point, it’s personal, and you can’t turn back.  We finally found the Real Bridge, which was leaning strongly to the left, and not so confidence-inspiring…

Much whining was heard up to and beyond this point.  I thought we were just going to “walk a little” and I “had to pee.”  From this point, though, the constant uphill seemed to level off a little.  The views were pretty amazing, and even though I was stuck in the place between feeling every nerve in your body and being completely numb, it felt good to climb hills like an 8 year old.  Apparently, though, it’s unusual to get very low to the ground for some of the steeper trips downhill.  Learn something new everyday, I guess.

Eventually, if we squinted really hard, we could even SEE where we were parked.

See that little inlet?  That’s where our car is.  This is well into Hour Three…

Obviously, we made it out of the Hundred Acre Wood, as I am alive to type this.  We finally made it to Betty’s Pies, and pigged out on some broasted chicken (I don’t know what it is, but it’s amazing) and two kinds of pie.  And coffee.  Cheers!

Crazy Nines

20 Jul

I’m obsessed with the Enneagram.  I know that on some level, all of the personality typing systems are the same.  Do you like people or do you hate them?  [Depends on the day.]  Do your emotions overflow or do you bottle them?  [Bottle.]  Do you eat your feelings?  [Yes.  Definitely yes.]  But I can never resist a little reinvention.  Like, sometimes I have my gin with an olive, and sometimes with a twist.  Sometimes I want a meat-lover’s pizza, and sometimes I’m feeling a little more omnivorous.  I like having new language and systems for these personality types.  Plus, it’s always fun to have new people to discuss them with.  We got on the topic at the most recent book club meeting, and the more I think about it, the more I’m pretty sure I’ll recommend an Enneagram book the next time it’s my turn to choose.

I think I’m a 9.  Abraham Lincoln was a 9, so it can’t be so bad.  It says I’m a “peacemaker,” which I’m not sure is true, but that I have a basic fear of loss or separation.  I have a vivid memory of following a pair of legs around at the harbor in my hometown, and being VERY startled that they did not attach to my dad’s head.  Via torso, of course.  I also remember the guy who looked down at me seeming very amused, which I took as vicious mocking.  So yeah, we’re on the right track here.  My basic desire, as a 9, is to have something they call “inner stability,” or “peace of mind.”  I’ve heard of these things, but never found them.  I think that might be what I’m attempting with this here outlet.  There’s also a bit in the description of the 9 that suggests I may have several different personae.  While I’m sorry about that, I fear it may be true.

Of course, I immediately want to know what everyone else’s type is.  I’ve moved past “sanguine” and “phlegmatic” (really?  phlegm?) and all that INTJ stuff they made us do in school, and I want you all to give it to me in code.  Numeric code.  I think that a large part of what appeals to me about this particular system (aside from it being another opportunity for me to study ME) is that it seems like a secret language.
Here’s a recap of a recent conversation I had…
J: “I’m a 3.  All of my siblings are 3s.  That’s very unusual.”
Me: “I think I’m a 9.  Or a 4.  Or a 9.”
J: “Ooh, my mom is a 9.  They’re constantly mistyped.”
Me:  “They sound crazy, maybe I’m a 4.”
J: “My dad is an 8.”
Me: “Of course he is.  What else could he be?”

And so on, until we noticed that the rest of our friends were staring at us, totally perplexed.    Once they were filled in, the discussion naturally turned to how to dupe the menfolk into taking the quiz.  It didn’t seem to occur to us that they’d do it willingly, and maybe there’s something to that.  But it seemed to go without saying that it’d be even MORE fun to discuss them if we could apply our Secret Number Code.  Maybe we’ll even give them Spy Names, to add to the secrecy.  “Agent Cargoshorts is totally a 6.”

You want in, don’t you.  You can take a free test here or the full monty ($10) here.  I might disagree with your findings, as I’m pretty sure that one of my multiple personalities makes immutable decisions about other people.  Thanks for being my friend, though.