Thursday, August 21, 2014

I went on vacation! to South Carolina!

There I was answering questions and not linking to blog memes and then Ba-bam! I disappeared. 

I went on vacation and forgot to tell you. I have a friend in South Carolina and I decided I needed to look at her in person because she is sick and I wanted to know how she was really doing. What's the best way to do that? Impose myself into her house and have her make coffee for me every morning. 

And then, when she drops me off at the airport, I imagine she sighed deeply to express her relief as she drives away. 

Then 30 minutes later she gets a text from me: "I need you to come back."

Well, super. The good news for me is that she turned around and came back to the airport and didn't make me sleep on a tile floor or dirty carpet at my gate. Those were my only choices otherwise, because as you know if a flight is cancelled due to weather, they do nothing for you. I remember saying something about not having a car and what am I supposed to do now and she said, "That really isn't my concern." 

You see, apparently United Airlines cannot fly in the rain. I imagine they have an algorithm somewhere that states: If it rains at (X) destination, then flights that are not full from any other destination shall be cancelled. Combine them the next day and save moolah.

Because she sweetly drove all the way back to the airport, I stayed another night, woke up both of them at 4:30am, climbed into the car and drove all the way to the airport again so I could rush to Chicago only to have my next flight cancelled. 

You'll never guess, so I will tell you right away: It was raining in Des Moines. 

I spent the entire day wandering around O'Hare airport sending tweets to @United telling them someone had crushed a cookie into the carpet, there was coffee spilled on the wall, the air conditioning wasn't working and so on. 

I saw the crazy shoes people wear when they travel

I carved out some private space inside a trio of pillars behind a recycling bin

And I found the most spacious bathroom stall in any airport anywhere. I've read that in Japan, apartments are the same size
No joke, it was huge and I could actually turn around. Since everyone travels with their bags now, I don't know how some people can even get into a stall these days. And of course the door comes inward. This bathroom was wonderful. 

I was all over Terminal I at O'Hare trying to help them. I figured if they could annoy me, I could annoy them. But as much as I tried to establish that relationship, they had no idea. Overall, as a hostess, I would give @United a 2 on a scale of 1-10. As a housekeeper, considering all the traffic at O'Hare, I would give @United a 7. I would rate their sense of humor at a 1, maybe a 0. 

Then again, they get a lot of tweets. If you ever wants to feel good about a minor irritation in your life, go to Twitter and look at @United. In April of this year, USA Today ranked the nation's airlines and United came in last.

USA Today's article began with, "As an industry, airlines received the fourth-worst score in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) rankings of customer satisfaction. Only pay TV, social media companies and Internet service providers rank lower. Even wireless carriers and car dealers rank higher. That may not be an indictment of the industry, but it does indicate a lot of room for improvement."

Monday, August 4, 2014

My stealth Toyota Camry

I still own my 2008 Camry although I would consider trading it to someone in exchange for a really good watermelon.

Yesterday I went to Dunkin Donuts because I had a coupon burning a hole in my pocket. It was mid-afternoon on a lazy day and I was sort of close by, so I drove in and decided to hit the drive-through.

There were cars parked over to the side of the lot the way most employees seem to park, but there weren't any cars out front. The only other time I have been to this place was last year at night and they only had one or two donuts left. Plus, and don't hate on me for this because the rest of the country seems to love their coffee, I don't love their coffee.

But the coupon was for iced coffee super cheap. So there I was.

I pulled up and I sat. Waited.

No one said a word. I thought perhaps they were closed, but the sign said that from 4-6pm, iced coffee was cheap. Super cheap, in fact. In fact, the 4-6pm price for iced coffee was the price of the coupon. But no one knew I was there and I decided I didn't need the calories, so I drove off sans iced coffee.

This morning I found myself near a McDonald's, which I know for certain was open because it was clearly open with people and cars and activity and McDonald's is always open.

I drove my top-secret stealth Camry up to one of the drive through speakers.

Her: "Hello, welcome to McDonald's. May I take your order?"

Me: "I'll take a large black coffee."


I waited quite a while and finally said, "Hello?" But there was no response.

Another car pulled up to the other speaker next to me and placed their order, so I left.

I should lease the car to the government for secret missions.

Apparently getting started again isn't easy

So here is another edition of answering someone else's questions.

1. When driving, are you more likely to listen to the radio, to CDs or an iPod, or nothing at all?
 I listen to the radio most of the time. The classical station isn't coming in anymore and that annoys me, especially in the morning because that's when I prefer classical. 

2. Do you prefer window or aisle?
I've decided that I don't care. They both have merits. One thing about a window seat is you don't have to get up for someone else to go to the bathroom. 

3. Do you fall asleep on your side, back, or stomach? What position are you in when you wake up?
Fall asleep on my right side, wake up on my back. 

4. When is the last time you attended a zoo, circus, carnival, county fair, or parade?
Last year's state fair. 

5. Do you have a favorite quote or inspirational saying?
I did, but I don't. I have gotten to the point of thinking that inspirational sayings are pointless (much like this blog post) because we tend to be drawn to the one's that support our way of thinking rather than challenge our thinking. It all started with Pinterest and I saw all these sayings about following your heart and you know what? Your heart very often leads you astray. OK, actually it all started when I saw sayings on a particular person's Facebook page (all of us probably has a person like this) that scream, "I'm really insecure!" and that put a bad taste in my mouth. THEN I started seeing (on the same person's wall - we aren't "friends" any more) sayings about how it is OK to be yourself and it is OK to be imperfect and it is OK to make mistakes and yet this same person is a real witch about other people being themselves, being imperfect and making mistakes. So I'm saying no to inspirational sayings. Just say no. That's my inspirational saying. 

As for quotes, I like a few. I constantly have to remind myself to keep my mouth shut, so that's the one I hear most often. But this is a favorite of mine:

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

There are so few people in the world who can hear what you have to say without judging. 

6. What's the best thing about summer?
The heat. I enjoy summer's heat. I like the sunshine and all the light. I like the produce as well. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In which I answer pointless questions

Hello again! 

It isn't that I have nothing to say. 
My phone is full of photos I took to share with you. 
But something got me down (the internet can be so depressing ) and I stopped wanting to share. 

In order to jump start my fingers on the keyboard and because I don't have the time or the inclination to download all those photos from my phone right now, I'm going to answer some questions from a meme-type thingumabob over at a different blog. 

So here is the first set of questions:

1. What’s something you've won and how did you win it?
I win stuff a lot. I think the first thing I can remember winning was a Foreigner album from the AFN radio station in Stuttgart, Germany. I called in to the station during a giveaway. See, we American kids were bummed when we got to Germany because the phone company charged gobs of money by the second to make phone calls, so one of the first lessons we learned was DON'T USE THE PHONE! But it was a contest and I knew my mom would understand, so I called. And won. 

We didn't have email or texting or Facebook back in the 79-82 period, so we resorted to radical steps like walking to our friends' houses and knocking on the door. Oh my gosh. Do kids do that anymore? I think typically we made most of our plans during the school day. We passed notes. Wasn't this question about winning and not about technology? 

2. Do you save old greeting cards and letters, or throw them all away? Why?
I keep some, I throw some away. I think mostly it's the person and how it hits me when I read it. I wish I had every letter my dad had ever written me. I wish I had kept all the letters my Grandma Betty had written me. But what do you know about that when you young and the most technical advancement in your apartment is a CD player? I have a cassette tape of my brother talking to me before he died as well as a cassette tape my dad made for me. That's right: cassette tape. Sigh. 

3. When you’re at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?
Shoes or slips. I shouldn't go barefoot due to the structure of my feet and the fact that I kept having injuries and my doctor pointed out that every foot injury story started with, "I was walking barefoot" and she said to keep my shoes or slippers on. She was correct. 

Outside, although you didn't ask about outside, I HATE being barefoot. I can't stand it and I have no idea why. Nor am I curious as to why. But I don't recall any time in my life when I enjoyed being barefoot outside unless I am not moving

4. Who’s the most famous person you have ever met? 
I've never been starstruck, so I'm not sure. Let me ponder. I've met the singers from the band Judas Priest as well as the guys from Ratt. I don't know if they count. Maybe in the middle of the night I will wake up and remember someone.  

5. What has been your best work of art?
As a kid, I drew a picture at Bible camp and won a ribbon. In high school, I made a wall hanging and that won a ribbon. I made candles and have poorly crocheted useless things. I paint and fiddle around with stuff. But my best? I'm not sure. Nothing comes to mind. My garden doesn't grow, either. I'm not sure. 

6.  What’s your strongest sense?
I assume you mean physical sense. But I don't know. I'm not a picky eater, so I don't think it's taste. I hear what you're saying, but "Where is the bunny?" often sounds like, "Can I have some money?" so I don't think it's my hearing. I had LASIK, so I'm positive it isn't my eyesight. I don't like to touch people and usually don't want to be touched, so maybe I'm super sensitive in the touch area, but I don't think of that as "strong" in a good way. Otherwise, my sense of empathy is off the chart. I'd have to claim that as my strongest sense. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Me and my hair

I don't know how to explain what she did when she cut my hair. She took small sections of it and cut each small section into steep layers so that there are small pieces of hair all over my head. Those smaller pieces support the longer pieces as they curl and keeps things from being weighed down. 

It doesn't look much different. 

And yet it is very different. I like it. The only thing I don't especially like is that it seems to me it is too frizzy. But I looked at older photos from here and it doesn't look more frizzy after all.

There is a lot less hair! Tons of hair hit the ground and I didn't care in a huge way.

I don't normally use a lot of products. I use a sulfate-free shampoo from Nature's Gate and occasionally I use a citrus rinse from Dr. Bronners. I comb it when it is wet and full of conditioner. I make my own leave-in conditioner in a spray bottle: distilled water + conditioner. I also will sometimes use Aveda's Be Curly, but it has alcohol in it, so I don't like to use it. I wrap the wet hair in a small towel that's super absorbent and after a few minutes, I take off the towel and shake my hair. Then I flip the towel so the drier edge is toward my face and let the towel soak up some more water.

I use a diffuser on my blow drier when I need to get it really curly and/or dry really fast.

With this new cut, I have been touching up with a small curling iron. I just curl a few pieces here and there and also touch up the ends.

The surprising thing I did was allow her to color it. I was deeply undecided up until the point I was sitting in her chair. She used foil as for highlighting, but she matched my hair color and didn't try to eliminate all the gray hair.

 This is new
This is old

I'm glad I did it and I'm also glad it isn't a huge difference.

Here it is straightened. You can see how the ends aren't full and that's because of all the hair she cut out of it. Doing this made me realize she cut more from the back, where I have a ton of hair, than she did on the sides and front, where there is a fraction of the hair.

This is after I brushed it. ACK!
 I didn't work on it until it was smooth because it has a lot of hairspray on it and I didn't want that baked in with the heat of the iron too much.

Here is where you can see that the ends aren't as full as before.

The old stained hair from a previous dye job is still there, but not so boldly obnoxious as before. She cut a lot of it off. It's much more subtle.

This is in sunshine and may give you an idea of how much less grey there is right now. As my hair grows and gets cut, I will see more realistically what my grey hair looks like. Then I will make a decision.

That's the saga. If you have read all this, you're a trooper!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Is it Thursday already?


I have so many things to talk about, I'm sure to leave something out.

Last weekend I ran a relay race that took us just over 12 hours to finish. Rather than jibber jabber about my running ability or lack of running ability, I will show you how this happened:

I have enough of these action shots I could put together a flip book of how she dances.

Frankly, I can't picture in my mind where I was when this shot was taken. I wasn't even tired at the time, but in the end, it was a bit foggy all up in my brain. I know things happened, but I can't recall them. 

After I finished running and before my team got to the finish line, I did this:


The teenagers
How can anyone resist that face? He was such a gentleman.

Then that night I put the tornado plan in place, which isn't easy with cats. Like the dollhouse? That's to keep Annabelle off the television equipment, which is warm and a good place to sleep. I haven't actually slept there, but she was sleeping there all daylong

So tomorrow I'll be posting about my hair cut. It's not very exciting, but it was a big deal for me. You have a sneak peak in the photos above.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Who's that in your garden, ma'am?

Why, it's a giant rooster!

There's a nursery here in town attached to a grocery store. I pulled into the driveway for some lunchtime errands and this is what I saw!

I want one of these roosters. The biggest one is the best, most colorful and most imposing.

 See how tall he is?


The little rooster got a little hug from Grande. No roosters were harmed in the taking of these photographs. 

Happy little rooster. 

Forlorn little rooster.

The peacock was looking for a place to hide in all that grass I want in my own backyard garden. Along with a giant peacock, of course.

Here is a very large perched peacock. Wouldn't that look imposing in my suburban backyard? 

I finally did something about my hair and will blog at you about that later. Tomorrow I'm going to a college visit and then Saturday I have an all-day relay race guaranteed to make me regret signing up for an all-day relay race this early in the season. I'm taking Tylenol with me. 

By the way to other bloggers: For some reason I can't comment on other blogspot blogs. I've visited and will come back to see if that glitch gets fixed. :(

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

More art and other photos

It's time for more photos! 

We went to see one of the local high schools put on 42nd Street, which I now believe to be an impressive feat! It's a huge cast of dancers and singers and about half the cast needs to know how to tap dance. 

They have to tap dance well because it's a big Broadway show, ya know! They didn't disappoint and it was very good. 

Our office should install one of these in the kitchen immediately.

Last night Aaron's relay team took first place for the 4x100 relay race! He is the one on the right. Look closely at his socks. We don't need the bright socks to spot him, but it's fun. I think he's worn them to every single meet this year.

Bryan leaves on a motorcycle tour in the months to come. That's fun stuff. Motorcycles scare me a bit. Not being on it so much as the terror of dying while I'm on it. 

I bought a cat tree as a surprise! 

Here is Henry enjoying the new cat tree. Enjoy my super-duper photography skills, won't you?

I was sick all weekend and Sunday evening, I got out my art supplies. Here is what I doodled:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Answer me this on Sunday

I made a deal with the universe. I woke up on Friday with what Jane Austen may have delicately described as a putrid sore throat and I took myself straight to the doctor's office. After waiting 90 minutes, I went in and she said for sure it was a bacterial infection and so I worked from home.

Then yesterday, after a little running around with one of the teenagers, I came home and stayed home. I watched old movies and episodes of Mad About You and interviews with Johnny Carson. So I did my part and stayed home with no exercising or shopping or housekeeping and the universe was supposed to let me off the leash today.

But I woke up with a cough and my headache is lingering and my appetite is gone and I'm not happy when the universe doesn't play along as I have directed it.

Here is another edition of Answer Me This from Kendra's blog and since the brain is a bit fogged, it's a great way to amuse myself without having to be too intelligent.

1. Are you becoming your mother?
I think she might agree when I say I'm a bit more like my grandmother. But my mom and I crack each other up and I think that's because we're on the same wavelength, so that's excellent stuff right there.

2. Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. I drink tons of it and I drink it black and mild. I like tea, but don't drink as much. I will drink tea with or without sugar, but I like it strong. Black tea is fine, but I prefer English or Irish Breakfast and I like Scottish tea as well. I use one teabag per cup and let it steep for a long time. Then I drink it with the teabag in the cup for extra toughness.

3. What foreign country would you like to visit?
I'd like to go to Ireland and Italy. I think Hungary would be nice as well.

4. Do you cry easily?
No, not really. When tears pop up at a bad time, I have a technique for stopping them.

5. Do you often wear heels?
Not since I trained for a marathon. That was in 2008. I will wear wedge heels and very small heels once in a while, but my days of high heels are over and my feet are happier for it.

6. Do you play an instrument?
No. I tried the flute, fiddled with a guitar now and then and wanted to learn the piano, but the cold, hard truth is that I just don't have the talent. I knew my notes and mostly learned to read easy music between school chorus sight reading and church, but reading music and moving my fingers and breathing all at once is more of a challenge than I'm up to.

Wrapping up, the birds are rapidly stripping cat fur from the shrub and I'm running out of cat fur. I saved it for a month and had a lot of it, but they really seem to love the magic cat fur tree for trimming their nests.

Birds need me? Craaazy!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Circle of life: Henry and the party-hat birds

I have been storing up cat hair for a month and putting a little bit at a time out on the shrub by the deck. This morning I noticed there were four gray and brown birds with black party hats (black-capped chickadees?) swarming the shrub and I watched them pulling the fur off the shrub and flying off with it in their beaks. Then they returned. 

I was so excited! 

I put more out and left to get some NyQuil (I have strep throat or some such nonsense) and when I came back, the second batch was gone!

I was so excited!

I put out more hair on the shrub and some on one of the pine trees in the back of the yard.

This is Henry, who pulls out his fur and has contributed 90% of the fur the birds are using.

I just saw another bird with a bunch of white fur in his beak. I can't get there to take a photo without scaring the birds. !!!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I've been missing in action

Nothing has been going on unless you count rampant laziness and unchecked inactivity.

By way of getting rolling again, it's time for photos! 

Here is she who manages my photo requests with ease and a happy attitude. We went out for sushi and wine and water on a rainy day last week after work.

Saturday night I went to a national convention of United Sixties Born of Grand Gedeh County (Liberia) in the Americas. That's a group whose Iowa president is pictured below and the woman who graciously calls me her children's mother. Oh, those Africans know how to extend family boundaries so much better than we do. They are so much better and I'm so much better off for it.

This is Liberian food, which is one way of saying, "this is spicy." Chicken, lamb and rice. I ate the spicy meat, but the rice was too hot for me mostly because it was about 11 o'clock at night when I ate this.

I didn't photograph dessert, but it was banana bread. The woman sitting next to me explained that it is rice with banana, baking soda and egg. She said it isn't regular rice, but something you find in the grocery store near Cream of Wheat. Aaron said you grind it all together. It was good and not at all sweet, which is typical. Besides candy, the boys don't really eat sweets much and complain when something is too sweet. No, they don't complain. They just don't eat it.

Except candy. Never too sweet, oddly enough.

The party officially began at 8, but that was getting business conducted with a little dancing. The majority of the crowd didn't start showing up until around 11:30. I'm sure the party lasted all night. If you want to see video, join me on Instagram at carondm95.

This is the lovely Norah, mother of my boys. As president of the Iowa chapter, the entire convention, which lasted all weekend, was arranged by her.

Speaking of my boys...Aaron is here holding up his 8-year-old cousin. I love the terrified look on his face. Mind you, they had to hold this pose while my camera loaded. This was Friday night after the Drake Relays. The older boys ran relay races and Prince got a personal best in the 4x400! 

This is Tessie. She's awfully snotty, but quite photogenic.

This is Maggie. Frightening when she's this close and full of attitude, which is most of the time.

This is the lovely St. Dymphna bracelet I won and received from Erica at I wear it a lot.

On Thursday and Friday of Easter week, I went to the cathedral and spent time with the local bishop, so to speak. I love the blue and red on the ceiling of this church.

I went shopping one day last week. I look ridiculous in big, fancy glasses, but they have POLKA DOTS!!!

And then this happened because we are super exciting gals who love a photo op. Plus, she hates to be left out.

As you can tell if you noticed I am wearing two jackets, it was cold. It is cold today, too. 
Ah, Midwestern April: A haiku is in order. 

Dreary sunny sky
Bright bursts of green and yellow
Cold morning warm day

 Notice the springtime sighting of an 18-wheeler?