Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm Ready to Take on the World

Do you ever have those times when you tackle something awesome and then feel like you can do anything after that? Even if it's just something minor? I'm in that mood now.  Some of it is also from a feeling that life is short (and passing me by) and I don't want to keep wasting time - putting off things I've wanted but never got around to letting myself have (or do), shying away from things because they are "scary" or because I'm afraid I won't be good at them. But if I never try something, I've already failed, right? So what's the point of not trying?  I'm hoping that I can keep this motivated mood going and accomplish some things that I've been too scared to try or things that I used to enjoy but never do anymore.  I've already given driving a motorcycle a try, and I really want to keep learning.  It may seem like a small thing to many people, but for me being able to drive a motorcycle (and not just ride on the back) would be a huge deal.

First on my list is seeing a doctor for a consultation on LASIK. I've been wanting to get my eyes lasered for YEARS but kept putting it off.  First it was because it was too expensive, then because I was worried that something freaky would happen and I'd end up blind or with worse vision than before, then it was because I didn't want to have to go two whole weeks without being able to wear my contacts before they do the measurements for the surgery.  For the past fews years I've mentioned it to my eye doctor at every annual checkup and he's assured me that I'm a perfect candidate and he recommended a local eye surgeon.  And still I kept putting it off.  But now I'm ready! I've schedule my consultation and hopefully things will go well and soon I'll have an appointment for the actual surgery.  I can't imagine how awesome it will feel to not have to rely on contacts and glasses anymore, especially since they seem to bother me more and more lately. Whee!

Another thing on my list is backpacking.  I used to go backpacking with my family every year when I was a kid.  It was always pretty grueling and I complained a lot at the time.  But it was still kind of fun.  And now that they have all this fancy technical equipment that weighs next to nothing I'm sure it's a much more fun activity.  Unfortunately I have back problems and just the thought of carrying all that weight makes it hurt. My husband goes on a short backpacking trip (one or two nights only) every Spring Break with a coworker friend of his and my dad.  And this year I want to go too!  I just got back from a vacation in Maui where we did some light hiking and I realize how much I enjoy it and miss being able to do it. My husband prefers backpacking instead of camping and doing day hikes, so I never get the chance to just hike.  But if my choices are backpacking or not hiking at all, I'm going to at least give backpacking another try.  His trips are much shorter than the ones I went on as a kid, and since I've been seeing a chiropractor regularly for my back it may not even be as big a deal as I've been letting myself imagine.  Who knows, maybe it will be the most fun I've had in a while and I'll look forward to doing it more and more. And if I have a great time and my husband enjoys having me there, maybe we'll even go more often.

So what else should I put on my list of things to accomplish? Should I give surfing another try? Maybe see if I can tackle SCUBA? That one would be a long shot, but it feels less scary now than it used to when I thought about it before. Maybe that means I'm ready to try it!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow in Myrtle Beach? AGAIN?!

I can't believe this weather we're having.  This snowed a bit last night as I noticed when getting up to let the girls out.  It didn't really stick except in a few thin areas, and by the time I woke up it was all gone and was no longer snowing.  Then earlier this afternoon I decided to go for a walk.  I got all bundled up and then as I was putting the last touches on my please-don't-let-me-freeze outfit, I looked outside and saw it was snowing again!  Quite a bit actually.  I went for my walk and it snowed the entire hour I was outside.  It is in fact still snowing.  It's still not sticking anywhere.  It's kind of weird to see all this snow just pouring down and having it disappear as soon as it hits the ground. The puddles aren't even iced over.

Another bit of strange is that this is the SECOND time this year that it has snowed!  It snowed already this February.  Except that time it actually stuck. 


I can't remember it ever snowing two years in a row, much less twice in the same year.  I hope this isn't going to be the new normal.  I'm ready to go back to the milder winters.  I hate being cold.  Give me spring and early summer weather all year round, please.  This is all especially hard to take since I just got back from a vacation to Maui, where it was beautifully warm and perfect. *sigh* 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Little Jar of Heaven

My brother and sister-in-law have a huge plot of land out in the country.  They grow all kinds of things in their garden, and also have fruit trees and bushes.  Needless to say, they get to do a lot of canning every year.  I was visiting them recently and was able to snag a few jars of their homemade jelly.  I got Wild Cherry and Elderberry Apple.  So far I've only tasted the Wild Cherry, but it is so incredibly yummy.  I've eaten half a jar in less than a week.  !!  I can't help it, it's just so tasty!

When I was a kid, there used to be a lot of wild elderberry bushes growing on the side of the road in the neighborhood where I lived.  I remember picking large sacks of those dark purple berries to my grandma and my parents could make elderberry jelly.  We rarely had store bought jelly when I was little.  We always had so much of the homemade stuff we never needed to pay for any. 

I can't wait to dig into that Elderberry Apple jelly my brother and sister-in-law made.  I know it's going to be good.  I'm only sorry I didn't smuggle out a jar of the Raspberry Dark Chocolate jelly they had!  We had some with breakfast before I left and it was amazing.  Looks like I might have to find a reason to be in the neighborhood again real soon so I can get my hands on some.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Motorcycle Mayhem

I love motorcycles.  It's a lot of fun riding around on one, especially when the weather is particularly nice.  I have several friends that ride, my husband rides, and both my parents ride.  And I ride too.  On the back.  Deep down inside, the Wild Child in me wants to be brave and ride too, but the real me is just such a chicken.  It's not like learning to ride a motorcycle is something you can take in baby steps.  You have to learn how to balance, how to turn by leaning and not actually turning the handlebars, and then there is the whole clutch/gears thing going on too.  Oh, and of course remembering not to sear the skin off your leg by accidentally touching the pipes.

I was nervous even when learning how to drive a car.  I would barely creep along the road and was still an anxious wreck, knowing that at any minute some other car, person, animal or thing was going to jump out in front of me and I wouldn't be able to stop.  Or I'd lose control of the car while racing down the road at a blistering 10 MPH and crash into a building/ditch/tree and we'd all die in a massive, flaming ball of death.

Thankfully once I got comfortable in the car that phase didn't last long.  But even knowing that, the thought of trying to learn to ride (drive?) a motorcycle still freaks me out.  At least in the car I didn't have to worry about whether or not I'd fall over and crush my legs under the weight of the bike, or that I'd skid out when trying to make that tricky right hand turn.  I have enough trouble with balance while standing on my own two feet, or with walking around a corner and not hitting my arm or shoulder on the door frame.  (Stupid things keep moving on me, I swear it!)

But this week, the day before Thanksgiving, my husband decided I was going to learn.  Or at least try to learn.  So when we got to my parents' house we borrowed my mom's bike and my husband attempted to teach me how to ride a motorcycle.  I have to admit I did better than I thought I would, but it was still pretty terrifying despite the fact that I never went over 12 MPH and would not turn.  When we got to the end of my parents' street my husband would take over and turn the bike back around so I could try again on the straight section.  He's not nearly as timid as I am of course, so after a few runs with me not falling over or causing anything to burst into flames he decided I was ready to try a turn.

I'm sure you've already guessed by now that this didn't go well.  For one thing, I wasn't comfortable enough yet to get up to a high enough speed to turn efficiently.  And while I know you are supposed to lean to turn, I'm so scared of falling over that my body just automatically leans the opposite direction out of pure self-preservation.  So here we are creeping down the road and the closer we get to the turn, the more panicked I get.  So much so that when I decide to abort (if I could have abandoned ship entirely without killing myself or my mom's bike, I probably would have), my brain function had shut down enough that I could barely remember how to stop.  Thank goodness the clutch slows down the bike significantly - otherwise my mom's bike would probably be decorating the neighbor's living room right about now.  It slowed the bike down sufficiently that I could calm down enough to remember how to brake. At this point I was so overwhelmed by everything that I started to cry.  No one will ever accuse me of being brave or courageous.  Daredevil, I am not.

But despite the dramatics, it really was fun, and I was pretty proud of myself for the part I WAS able to do!  I'm certainly willing to keep trying.  By this time next year, I may even be the proud owner of a Motorcycle Driver's License! Anything can happen, right?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Eaten by Zombies

Hi everyone!  I think it's a pretty good sign that I've been a total slacker with blogging when a blog-buddy posts a comment about my absence.  And then my mom reads that comment and suddenly worries that something is wrong with me and maybe she'd better check up on me to make sure I'm still alive.  True story. 

I'm happy to report that I am still alive.  My brain was not eaten by zombies this Halloween, although I'm pretty sure some little idea-stealing demon may have been amongst the kids begging for treats this year.  Because I've pretty much got nothing. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Photohunt: Orange

Some bright orange and yellow Canna lilies from my garden.

Orange and pink Hibiscus flower in Maui.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Job Hunting Is Depressing

I've been out of work for over a year now, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel so far.  I swear the available jobs are getting fewer and farther between.  I keep hearing that new jobs are being created, but I'm just not seeing any of them.  I wonder where they are going, and what kind of jobs they are.  Any of you others out there who have been out of work having any luck?  I'd had plans to try to get into teaching art and had been accepted to start my Masters in Education to go with my Art degree, but then I couldn't get the financial aid I needed.  I couldn't justify taking out $18K in students loans when there is no guarantee that there would even be any art teacher positions available, much less that I would actually get chosen for one.  Having $18K in debt and still not having a job?  No thanks.  If anything does happen to come up for an art teacher position, I can still apply and if I'm hired I can have a temporary certification through the PACE program, so it's not completely off the table.  My PRAXIS scores are supposed to be good for 10 years I think before I have to retake them.

It's very discouraging to apply to job after job after job and not even hear anything back from most of them.  I'm overqualified for so much of the work that's posted, and not nearly qualified enough for the rest of it, it seems.  I obviously can't get a job in medicine, and it's surprising how many of those types of positions are open in this area! A vast majority of the job postings I see are medical, sales (over my dead body), military recruitment, or "business opportunities".  Ugh.   This sucks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Backyard Friend

I had some towels drying in the sun earlier this summer, and a huge dragonfly stopped by for a visit.  I couldn't believe how close it let me get without flying away. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Garbage Disposal of Death

I really hate it when the little plastic caps from soda bottles fall into the garbage disposal.  I usually don't even know they're in  there until I turn it on and hear the familiar sound of plastic bouncing around in the blades.  It sounds particularly unnerving when the blades actually happen to snag the sides of the cap and attempt to chew it up.

Every time I have to stick my poor, soft, easily-mangled hand in there to pull the offending cap out, I can feel the skin on the back of my neck start prickling. Visions of The Amityville Horror flash into my head as I remember the scene where something gets dropped into the garbage disposal (an engagement ring probably).  They dutifully use duct tape to secure the garbage disposal switch into the off position - Safety First! - and then the guy heroically shoves his hand in there to retrieve the ring.  And then I watch in horror as the switch powers through the duct tape and into the on position and said guy is now sporting a massive trauma from his stump of a wrist.  Blurgh!

Do I really need to get that cap out of there?  Maybe if I ignore it, it will just go away.  It's not really that noisy is it?  Maybe no one will notice.  I can always just turn up the volume on the TV, right?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Exercise is Dangerous to My Health

A few weeks ago I started back up with an exercise routine. I'd been way too lazy for way too long and it was really working out nicely this time. Instead of doing everything on my own and getting bored or in a rut, I started going to a friend's house. He and several of his friends had already been working out regularly in the evenings and I joined in with the group.

Sam is in great shape and really loves working out. He really ought to be a personal trainer. He leads our group and we never know what to expect when we show up in his garage. We do it all: weight-lifting, circuit training, sports drills, kickball, yoga, running, etc. I'm usually lucky if I can move the next day. But I love not having to decide myself what to do, I love having such a large variety of activities, and I love that I know Sam won't ever let me slack off. The time just seems to fly by, no matter how badly I'm pouring sweat and huffing and puffing!

But sadly, today turned out to be a not-so-good day. Today was "game day" which meant we played a game of some sort. I voted for Frisbee, which I love with a passion. It ended up being Frisbee Football, which I totally suck at. Somewhere between the transition from plain old Frisbee to Frisbee Football, I managed to pull a muscle in my right thigh. At least that's what it feels like. I don't even have any awesome story to go with the injury. It's just a sad little statement of fact. It happened during a sort of running duck walk attempt to snag the Frisbee as it hit the ground a few feet in front of me. How lame! But I did manage to get a touchdown with said injury, although after that it went from a fairly mild "maybe I can just stretch it out" boo-boo to a "holy crap, that hurts!" boo-boo.

I'm now reduced to hobbling around the house. Although "hobbling" implies a level of mobility I'm not quite in possession of at the moment. I'm hoping ibuprofen, BioFreeze, and an ice pack will have me back to normal by tomorrow's evening workout. Renee's got Turbo Jam DVDs and I want to play too!

Anybody got any miracle remedies?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Hint of Fall

After a long, hot summer I'm really glad to have a few nights where the temperatures drop below roasting.  Every chance I get I turn the AC off and open the windows so I can finally have some fresh air in the house and enjoy the cooler temperatures.  It's a shame they don't hang around any longer than they do.  This is the time of year that I get to enjoy these teasing hints of fall and long for autumn when I enjoy the weather all day long, and not just from midnight to dawn.  It won't be long before those days are here. And they'll last about an instant before it starts getting TOO cold and I whine about that instead of whining about the heat.

I love the idea of having four seasons each year - a complete fall, winter, spring and summer.  Down here it seems we skip spring and fall and just have a quick transition from summer to winter.  I'd love to live in a small town somewhere that has a nice crisp fall, with changing leaves and fall festivals complete with hay rides, bonfires, pumpkin patches and all that fun stuff.  But that same magic place would probably have horribly long, cold, snowy winters.  Yuck!  Snow is okay once in a blue moon so long as it doesn't last more than a day or two and doesn't happen every year.  But every winter, all winter?  No thanks!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gettin' With the Times

So I've finally moved into the current times (just a little bit) and gotten on Facebook.  It's amazing how fast that thing sucks you in.  At first I was only going to register so I could look at the pictures my family member was posting.  Facebook kept sending me email invites from him, so I broke down and joined. I didn't plan to post any personal information or a picture or anything.  Then I realized there were several of my family members on FB; family I haven't seen in ages and haven't kept in touch with.  So I decided I'd go ahead and add them as friends and then I could at least keep tabs on what's going on with my family.  I added a photo but just one of a scenic view from a trip to Hawaii. 

It snowballed from there until I pretty much had a high-school reunion on my laptop. It's so much fun to see how people are doing now and what they are up to.  And what they look like!  So many of them look exactly the same.  Others look completely different and I can barely recognize them, while others are easily recognizable but have really blossomed and are really beautiful/handsome now. I fall in the category of looking just the same, although several pounds heavier.  I'm about the only one out of the marrieds who doesn't have kids.  It's kind of shocking to see that some of them have kids that aren't just babies, but in elementary school and beyond.  I guess I'm older than I realized.

And I even posted some pictures of myself, although the most recent one is from summer of 2008.  I never realized how few pictures I have of myself.  I'm going to have to remedy that by getting in FRONT of the camera for once.  Let's just hope I can get some flattering ones.  And if not, there's always Photoshop, right?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday: Giant Hibiscus Flower in Maui

When my DH and I stayed at the Royal Lahaina Resort in Maui several years ago, there were hibiscus plants on the grounds that grew flowers as big as my face!  They were absolutely enormous and so beautiful.  Here's a nice yellow one for Mellow Yellow Monday.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Chocolate Named Eternity

I got sucked into an impulse buy while standing in line at Walmart this week after doing my grocery shopping.  There was a pretty little display of gourmet-style chocolate bars.  They caught my eye with their simple but elegant packaging, and the words "dark chocolate" and "cherry".  The chocolate lover in me squealed in delight. 
73% cocoa and cherry flavoring?  Sounded like a winning combination to me!  The little squares of chocolate were vaguely leaf-shaped, and even had veining just like real leaves do.  Such attention to detail was a good sign that this would be some darn good chocolate.  Did I mention this was Belgian chocolate?  It even had a name.  This flavor was called "Eternity".  Sounds promising, doesn't it?

Search for NewTree Chocolate

So today I finally get around to trying this chocolate bar.  I settle down in my chair and I'm so prepared to be an adult and savor my fancy new chocolate.  The wrapper is made from premium paper - not even a hint of a tear as I unfold it.  I break off a row of chocolate and then one single square. 

I bite into my fancy new chocolate and prepare to swoon over the yumminess that is cherry-flavored Belgian chocolate. 

My first response is confusion.  Is that a taste of anise seed??  Surely some vengeful chocolate maker hasn't ruined my chocolate bar with something that tastes like licorice.  I take another bite and realize that no, there isn't really any anise flavoring.  Whew!  But as I continue to taste the chocolate, paying close attention to every nuance of flavor and any aftertastes, I realize something strange.  I don't like this fancy, gourmet, cherry-flavored dark chocolate.  It doesn't taste like cherry.  It doesn't even taste like chocolate!  What is going on?  Did someone secretly swap my NewTree chocolate for a piece of an actual tree?  Like bark maybe? 

Maybe it's just because it's new.  Perhaps I need to just take a few more small bites to get used to the flavor in order to truly appreciate it.  I bravely attempt another nibble and let the chocolate melt on my tongue.  Nope.  Still gross. 

I'm awash in chocolate despair.  I can forgive a let-down driven by the absense of cherry essence.  But a chocolate bar should taste like chocolate!  I love dark chocolate.  I love cherries.  This chocolate bar should have been a slam dunk.  Is it the extra 3% of cocoa that ruins it for me?  I've never had any chocolate over 70% cocoa before.  I'm heartbroken to think that maybe it IS possible for something to be "too chocolatey".  I guess I'll just have to stick to my Super Chocolate Hot Cocoa and dark chocolate bars with 70% or less cocoa content. 

Have you ever tried any of the NewTree chocolate bars?  Did you like it?  Have you ever been supremely disappointed with a candy purchase you thought you were going to love?

Image found here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fly Away Little Bird

Every year the rafters of my back porch become home to small birds.  They build their little nests and settle in, singing merrily and flitting about.  This year, as I was enjoying a beautiful spring morning and sitting quietly while reading in the sun, I heard the faint chorus of tiny little "cheeps".  At first I wasn't sure what I was hearing or where it was coming from, but then I realized that the birds that nest under the roof of my porch must have hatched a few eggs.  I loved coming outside and hearing their birdsong.  If I made too much noise they would go quiet, so I had to sit patiently for them to start up again.  I pulled out our ladder and climbed up to get a peek of the baby birds and take some pictures.  They were all soft, fluffy feathers, sharp beaks, and beady little eyes.  They looked quite cozy in their nest. 

After a few days, I heard through our open doors and windows the chirping and cheeping again.  It had a different sound to it this time, and seemed to be coming from everywhere at once.  I went outside to investigate, and saw that the momma bird was teaching her chicks to fly!  The little puffballs were perched all over the porch and were trying their hardest to follow momma.  Unfortunately, they had found their way into the mostly-screened porch and were having trouble getting back out.  This problem has occurred often since my husband and I bought the house, and most of the screens have been cut away so that birds, butterflies, and dragonflies can find their way to freedom.  As I grabbed my camera and tried to get pictures of these adorable fluffy fliers, momma bird was determined to come flying back, shrieking at me to stay away from her babies!  It was difficult to get any good pictures of the chicks since they were so high.  I zoomed as far as I could, but it makes the picture blurry.  After I took my pictures, I tried to stay in the house so as not to disturb the chicks any more than necessary as they worked their way out of the porch.  Eventually they were all free, and I saw one hopping along the grass in the back yard, while another one scuttled around on the roof!  By the time I grabbed my camera again, they had disappeared with momma bird - all flying away and on their way to being all grown up. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cereals I Miss

Don't you hate it when a product you love is discontinued?  And you wish you'd known it was going to happen so you could prepare for the product apocalypse by visiting every store you can think of and buying them out of every last one of those items?  It is always my fervent wish that these items would make a comeback and suddenly reappear on store shelves. 

The two cereals I remember and miss the most were Smurfberry Crunch and Dunkin' Donuts cereal.  The Dunkin' Donuts cereal box was divided in half with chocolate on one side and glazed on the other.  They were shaped like mini donuts (or Cheerios, whatever). 


But even more than Dunkin' Donuts Cereal, I loved the Smurfberry Crunch cereal.  They were dark blue and red roundish star-shaped pieces (supposed to look like Smurf Berries of course!) that tasted a lot like the berries in Cap'N Crunch.  But way better!  I was devastated when they stopped making this cereal.  I would buy the Crunch Berries cereal (the one with nothing but berries) hoping it would fill the void, but alas, I was destined to bear the sorrow of breakfast cereal despair. 

Maybe since they are making a new Smurfs movie they'll get around to bringing back the cereal! 

Dunkin' Donuts Cereal images found here.
Smurfberry Crunch image found here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal. And So Do the Weeds.

When visiting my parents' house recently, I noticed they had a little something extra on their door mat.  They have one of those coconut coir mats, with the really rough, porous material.  Sometime this year a little seed found its way into the weave of their doormat and made itself a home!  This little baby is growing right in the doormat, and seems to be doing quite well.  It's kind of cute, isn't it?  I mean, you know, for a weed and all.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tiny Backyard Visitor

Yesterday morning I mowed the back lawn, and afterwards I let the dogs out so they could play.  As I opened the back door, Pixie charged out and almost immediately stopped to sniff something fascinating on the door mat.  I shooed her away when I realized it was a teeny, tiny little frog.  Or toad, I guess I should say.  I couldn't believe how small it was.  It was the cutest thing I'd ever seen!  It instantly reduced me to mental baby-talk. "Awww, awen't you just the cutest wittle toady-woady?"  I ran inside to grab my camera and I shot several pictures of it.  It didn't move a muscle, even when I had it on my macro setting and had the camera right on top of it.  If it wasn't for his little sides moving in and out as it breathed, I might have wondered it if were still alive.  I guess it didn't find me very intimidating. Must have been the baby talk.  There is a small chance I had one of those "Did I say that out loud?" moments. 

Anyway! Moving on.

I wanted to get a shot that would give a sense of scale, so I went back inside to get a dime to place next to it.  The little toad was still there when I got back, although it did eventually make one huge hop as I fussed with the right placement of the dime.  But then it sumbitted to my photo shoot again.  Don't you love it when nature is so accommodating? 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

World's Smallest Cheese Grater!

I was visiting my parents recently when I found this itty bitty little grater in their kitchen.  I couldn't get over how tiny it was.  For some reason it just really tickled me how small it was.  It looked so useless!  I kept calling it the Barbie Cheese Grater.  After taking pictures of it next to two quarters my mom had lying on her desk, I finally asked Dad why they had such a miniscule grater.  He informed me that it's for spices and garlic and stuff like that. Which of course makes much more sense, but it's just not as fun that way.  We decided that I could always use it to grate those individually packaged snack sticks of cheese - like string cheese!  But of course the best part of eating string cheese is being able to "play" with it.  I love pulling off all those dainty threads of cheese! So if I want one of these adorable graters for my own, I guess I'll just have to start using whole nutmeg like Rachel Ray.  Apple pie, anyone?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Smarter than Your Average Can of Beans

Earlier this year, back when it was still cold and the thought of a nice hot bowl of chili sounded really appetizing, I came upon a can of Ninja Beans.  Actually, the beans weren't ninja - it was the can.  They slyly sat on my shelf looking all innocent and harmless.  The truth didn't come out until it was time to make the chili.  The can - the perfectly round, undented, unflawed can - had a secret.  Someone had been teaching this can how to master the art of unopenability.  It meditated daily and practiced its newfound skills.  If it could master these skills in time, it would be able to withstand even the sharpest and strongest of can openers!
Luckily for me, the can had not yet reached the master level, although it did give me a run for my money.  (About $0.88.)  I caught the can off guard with my trusty manual can opener.  No fancy machines needed here!  But soon the can called on its training and began to fight back.  Suddenly the blade on my can opener was having no effect on the formerly weak metal.  I squeezed the handles harder, and I cranked and cranked the can opener, all to no avail.  Yet I was not about to give up!  I tried to pry up the edge of the lid enough to pour out the beans, but too much of the lid was still holding firm.  I needed to find a way to cut away more of the can.  I was determined.  I wanted my freaking chili, darn it!  So I took my can opener and manhandled that can to the best of my abilities.  I banged, and I twisted.  I worked the sharp edge at a different angle against the can.  By now the can was all kinds of warped and it was getting harder and harder to even reach the can anymore. 
At this point, my mind had started to go fuzzy with frustration.  There is a distinct possibility that I may have contemplated using my teeth.  I might have considered throwing the can on the ground and stomping on it if I could have done so without the juice making a sloppy mess on my kitchen floor.  Thankfully my perseverance paid off, and I was eventually able to to get enough of the lid loose so that I could pry it open and get the beans out of the can.  So take THAT, you evil can of beans!  I am victorious!

PS - The chili was awesome, and I didn't even starve to death before I could eat it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Well, at Least I've Been Writing SOMETHING!

I haven't been writing much on my blog, despite a few decent ideas tumbling around in my head.  But I have been writing some lenses (articles) on Squidoo!  I actually churned out about 5 of them in the past week or so.  I wrote 3 of them on local places here in the Myrtle Beach area that I enjoy - Huntington Beach State Park, Atalaya, and Brookgreen Gardens. There's nothing like writing one of these lenses and telling others about how awesome you think they are to make you want to go out and visit again!  My park pass just expired at the end of last month though, so I'll have to pay admission to see Atalaya and Huntington Beach or break down and buy a new annual pass.  I haven't been to Brookgreen in way too long.  I really should get back there.  It's a shame that I drive by so often and never stop in to enjoy it. 

I also wrote a lens on Swan Lake Iris Gardens, which is in the town where I was born and raised.  I never really realized how awesome it was to have something like that in my own backyard until I moved away and saw that every city didn't have one like it.  When I was researching the lens I found out that you can't feed the swans and ducks anymore.  That's so sad!  We used to go all the time, and we'd always take a loaf of bread to feed them with.  It was a great way to enjoy the birds up close.  But this is much healthier for the birds - they stick to their specialized diet and don't ruin their supper with white bread and cereal! 

The last lens I wrote was on barcode art.  Have you ever seen this?  There are a few ways it's used.  Some people distort the barcode into different shapes (that still scan!), or use individual barcodes to make portraits.  Others cut barcodes from packages and make collages with them.  I particularly like the graphic design businesses that create pictures with the barcodes to use on packaging.  They're just so fun! 

So anyway, that's what I've been up to.  I'd love it if you would check out the lenses and let me know what you think of them!  I'm not much of a writer, so I know there is plenty of room to improve. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

PhotoHunt: Purple

This is a close-up of my butterfly bush.  I love these tiny little purple flowers and all the butterflies and hummingbirds they attract! I'd love to get a rainbow butterfly bush one day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monsters in the Storage Shed (Not for the Squeamish!)

I'm lucky to be alive today.  Last night I was accosted in our storage shed by an enormous spider.  And by accosted I mean it sat there quietly and looked creepy and scary.  But being the brave blogger that I am, my first thought was not of myself or my safety.  Nay, dear readers, it was about YOU!  And how at least one of you might actually want to see this sucker.  My first words upon spying this giant arachnid were "Holy crap, look at the size of that spider!"  Then as I was running back into the house to get my camera I told my husband, "I've got to get a picture of that thing!" 

I'm not up on my spider family trees, but I'm going to say this is a Wolf Spider.  Because #1, it could actually be a Wolf Spider.  And #2, the name Wolf Spider sounds awesome.

Perhaps you are noticing that this little lady has quite the badonkadonk.  That's because being a huge spider wasn't creepy enough, so she's carrying around about a bajillion baby spiders on her back. You could see them moving around on her.  Talk about making your skin crawl!  It's both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. 

I was all up in this spider's grill to get these pictures, too.  I tried keeping my distance and just zooming in, but either the flash was too bright and kept washing it out, or it was too fuzzy.  (I'm not the best photographer, for sure.)  So that picture above was taken on my macro setting.  YES!  I was close enough for one of those baby spiders to reach out and touch me almost.  *shudder*  Now I have to admit, while spiders don't really bother me all that much, so long as they aren't in my house, crawling on me, or lunging toward me, I'd still rather keep a safe distance.  For some reason, whoever put the light switch in our storage shed was an idiot and put it halfway down the wall so that you have to walk at least 2 feet into the room to reach the switch.  And after I took my spider pictures, I wasn't about to step over that thing, turn off the light, and then step back over it IN THE DARK!  Sure, it was all docile and unthreatening-looking while I was taking pictures, but I know as soon as I turned off that light it would have attacked.  I can't help but remember that awful alien spider-thing from John Carpenter's The Thing.  So I grabbed the broom and used the handle to reach down the wall and turn off the switch, all the while hoping that spider didn't pounce before I could get the door closed.

Here's a different picture that might help give a bit of scale so you can see how big this thing really is.

I'd also like to point out that while most bugs don't bother me in any abnormal way, I have a huge hate for cockroaches.  They turn me into a screaming, yelping, climbing-onto-the-furniture, "Holy crap, it's coming to get me!" sissy little girl.  I would not have stopped to take pictures. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dog Dials 911

I've heard plenty of stories of animals that have saved their owners' lives - warning them of fire, too-high carbon monoxide levels, gas leaks, you name it.  But this is the first time I've heard of a beloved pet actually using the phone to do so!  Suddenly my own furbabies seem a little unambitious...

I first read this story in the Healthy Pet magazine my vet subscribes me to.  The dog, a German Shepherd named Buddy, was trained by his owner to bring him the phone whenever he started to have seizure symptoms.  If he couldn't make the call himself, the dog was trained to use his teeth to press programmed buttons that dialed 911.  He has to hold the button (any button) down for 3 seconds to trigger the call.  How awesome is that?  According to this news story, Buddy has done this 3 or 4 times now.  Buddy whimpers and whines into the phone once the call is answered.  The magazine says that the dispatcher recognized Mr. Stalnaker's name on the Caller ID as someone who was well known to be susceptible to seizures.  Mr. Stalnaker has been training Buddy, who was 18 months at the time of the story, since the dog was 8 weeks old.  I couldn't do more than get my dogs potty-trained.  I can't even imagine how much time and effort it must have taken to train Buddy!  I know German Shepherds make great work dogs and service dogs because they are so smart, but I still say it takes LOADS of effort on both the trainer's and the dog's parts to make it work. 

I love all kinds of warm-fuzzy pet stories, but the ones where the pets save people's lives are somehow extra special. And don't forget pet therapy animals!  It would be a sad world indeed without the love of an animal or two. 

Photo of Buddy and Joe Stalnaker found here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When the Census Comes Calling

Unless you've been living under a rock, all you USA-ers out there know about the 2010 Census.  Back in March I received a notice that I would be receiving a Census form.  Then I received my actual Census form to be filled out and returned.  And then I received a notice reminding me that I had received the Census and please don't forget to fill it out and return it!  All of this before April 1st, the date referred to in all the questions. Couldn't they have waited until closer to the reference date before sending these things out?  If you mail them out 3 weeks before they can fill them out and send them back in, it's no wonder so many people never do it!  They probably lose them or completely forget about them.  Even the last reminder is sent out before April 1st.  

If anyone doesn't send in their Census form, they're going to send someone to your house to try to get you to answer the questions on the spot.  I'm sure most of you already know all of this and have probably already experienced it.

BUT - Did you know that if your neighbor doesn't fill out his form, and doesn't answer his door when they come knocking, that they will knock on YOUR door to see if YOU can help them fill it out?  That's right.  Someone came to my door the other week and when I saw the Census Worker ID badge and the Census form in his hands, I was about to open my mouth to exclaim that I had already sent in my form when he started asking questions about my neighbor across the street.  Just how accurate do they expect that information to be, anyway?  The only reason I even know this neighbor's name is because my friend is his landlord.  But I only know his first name and I certainly don't know his birthday! 

After that, about a week later they sent around a Quality Control person to ask me the same questions again.  And guess what?  I still didn't know his last name or his birthday!  Gee, I'm so glad I can do my part to help my country. 

Image found here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Heat Won

So today I finally broke down and turned on the AC.  I might be the only one in Myrtle Beach who waits until June to turn it on every year, but I love the fresh air that comes from leaving the windows open.  My DH and I like to be warm, so we try to last as long as we can before we give in.  Basically when the nights start getting warmer it's time to turn on the air conditioning.  This year I'm actually early!  Normally we don't turn it on until we almost can't sleep at night for the heat and humidity.  It hasn't quite gotten that bad yet (thanks to ceiling fans) but based on this week's upcoming forecast it wouldn't have been long! 
Now I just need a swimming pool.  I miss having a pool so badly.  I was actually severely tempted to buy one of those inflatable kiddie pools.  They have one that's ten feet long!  Of course it's less than 2 feet deep, but at least I can lay down in it and swish my arms around some.  As the summer gets hotter I may actually get it.  My neighbors down the block just got a fancy inground pool.  I'm so jealous.  Do you think it would be too obvious if I all of a sudden decided to be neighborly and introduce myself and find reasons to come over?  I mean, DH and I have only lived here for 6 years.  It's never too late to make a new friend, right? 

When I was a kid we didn't have air conditioning until I was in 7th grade.  And even then it was just one single window unit for the whole house.  How in the world did I survive those summers without sweating to death?  Oh wait, I remember.  We had a pool! 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

PhotoHunt: Memorial

We have a nice memorial in the park next to the Surfside Library.  I thought it was perfect to use for this week's PhotoHunt and as a tribute for all those who have served their country!  It was a pretty windless day for the most part, but I was lucky enough to have a breeze come along just in time to unfurl the flags enough for me to get a picture! There is even a nice fountain in the middle of it all, and a seating wall so you can sit and soak it all in.