O(nly in) Canada!

Yes, what you see there are snacks available at a convenience store in Montreal - Smoky BBQ and DILL PICKLE flavored sunflower seeds! I'm surprised there are no ketchup flavored ones (*shudder*).


Happy Turkey Day!

I am thankful for (aside from the obvious):
  • the improvement in my career path in the light of the recent economy
  • the excellent doctors who have helped/healed our respective families
  • a year of many visits and reconnection with old friends
  • the prospect of going home for the holidays for the first time in too many years
  • Chipotle (yes.. you were saying?)
There's plenty more, but I gotta go pick up some guacamole at Malibu. Thank you Malibu!


Happy... Let's Just Say, I'm Glad You Were Born

To all you lovely people who didn't get a birthday card this year - Happy Birthday! Yes - I missed virtually every birthday on my calendar this year. Even my parents' birthdays were late. I'm sorry.

This is really embarrassing, but I still haven't quite adjusted to working Monday to Friday, 9-5. The rhythm of it just hasn't become natural yet. I just don't understand how everyone else manages to get stuff done after business hours or on the weekend! I have spent my entire adult life working the weirdest, off-balance schedules and just taking care of Life between the hours of 10am and 3pm. Usually on Tuesday and Thursday. Who knew Salvation Army is closed on Sunday?!

I'm not entirely sure why this has so affected my ability to remember birthdays, except perhaps that one thing that I actually have gotten used to (aside from dinner at home with the Mister AT DINNERTIME) is using the Outlook Calendar to remind me when to do everything but blink. No excuse, but a viable explanation at any rate.

I need to get iPhone to remind me of upcoming birthdays 10 days in advance, and then go buy the card. And the stamps. There must be an app for that...


Zen Mastery

This particular moment is kinda itchy.


Happy Howl-oween!

Left to right: Jeremy, Beth, Hannah, Kelly, David & Adam

We had a most excellent Novo Collegiate Halloween! JC and Beth (and Hannah) came and camped with us, and David drove up from Ithaca for the afternoon. David was a student of Adam's folks back in the day - blast from the past and a genuine legend! He had only just returned from the Charter Class Reunion in Sarasota, and we got an update on the current inhabitants of the Ivory Tower. From all accounts it sounds like they are keeping the spirit alive and doing their best to make us all proud. Warms the heart...

It was a little chilly right on the water, but the guys got a toasty fire going and we had some cheap red wine to help keep us warm. The s'mores helped too. Then came the howling. For real y'all... we decided it was coyotes, and Hannah was ready to party with her people! JC brought out a super cool Jack-o-Lantern, but the photos didn't do it justice so you'll just have to use your imagination.

I've only ever camped once, when I was about 10. All I remember is rocks and spiders and wanting to go home. I never really cared to repeat the experience, but this was actually quite fun! Of course we had a proper cabin, with a space heater and a double bed. And since we only stayed one night, I didn't have to use the public shower... so not really camping. Whatever it was, was fun.


Stop and smell the... umm... leaf mold?

This a very pretty part of the world, at virtually any time of year. Winter snowscapes, spring and summer flowers (we are known as the Flower City, don't ya know). But this really is the most stunningly beautiful time of year in this area. And my absolute worst allergy season. Ah well.

This is a lovely, huge park that I have the good fortune to drive through a few times a week on my way to or from work. It is home to geese and ducks, squirrels and chipmunks aplenty, woodchucks (otherwise known as Fat Fuzzy Brown Things) and rabbits and foxes. There are probably even deer, though I haven't seen them IN the park, there are certainly enough of them on the adjacent highway! There is another park, maybe 15 minutes from this one, where I regularly see a flock of wild turkeys. Every time I see them, I wonder where on earth they go when it snows...

Anyways, take a moment to stop and savor the beauty around you today. It may not be as obvious as this, but I promise you it is there.


One Step Closer

The carpet went in Saturday morning. It really changed the space dramatically, more than I expected. Even the cats noticed! Nori really digs it, but Filbert is still a little unsure.

Adam rewired all the outlets today. Next step is staining and installing baseboards and trim, then choosing lighting. Oh yeah, and doors for the closets. Still debating the pros & cons of new windows...


I would like you to applaud my restraint

I just had one of those moments where a stranger's offhanded afterthought/comment brings on a sudden, strong emotion that just grabs you by the back of the neck and clouds all thought. Whoa, there!

I'm planning a Halloween get-together for New College alums in this region, and spent this morning building an invitation. As you see, the top line reads, "New College Alumni Halloween Gathering". I sent this off to the Alumni Office to be posted and emailed out, asking if it looked OK. The very nice guy I've been working with replied that it looked "awesome" and would start going out this week, blah blah blah, signed off and then

"P.S. My only recommendation would be changing the word "alumni" to "alumnae/i" in coordination with the New College Alumnae/i Association's use of a gender-neutral alum designation, but that's really a minor point, and most entities on campus still use "alumni." One day!"

An admirable sentiment. Offhand, and clearly not critical. And it immediately got my back up. 

I wrote back explaining that while I am well aware of the issues surrounding women's rights and gender equality and that generations of women who came before me fought strenuously for (among many more important things) the recognition and inclusion of those two letters. Those women basically enabled a world in which I do not feel disempowered as a result of my sex, and ultimately paved the way for my right to rather vehemently not give a rat's... (ahem) about that "ae".

My gut reaction was that words only wield whatever power you grant them, and that "i" has no impact on me. It's just a word, it can't hurt you if you don't let it. Sticks and stones and so on. Then I thought, just suck up and be helpful - making that change is really not difficult and there are other people who DO care. So I settled my fur and convinced myself to be reasonable and made the change. And it looked like... well, I'm not going to use that sort of language here, but I didn't like it. A lot. It really did make a surprising change in the overall aesthetic. It stopped being casual and started looking like it was "trying just a little too hard" if you know what I mean, and that makes a statement of its own. One that is at odds with my personality. I am not THAT girl, I just don't care that much.

I got to the end of my e-rant, and realized that I still hadn't made up my mind whether or not to add the "ae" and that I really didn't want to. Partly because of the aesthetics and partly just to make a point. I also realized that this poor guy who doesn't know me at all was about to get blasted by my emotional non-compliance over two letters in a post script comment. I'm quite certain he didn't deserve it. So I deleted the whole email and instead sent the following:

"I made the change as suggested, but I don't like how it looks. If it's all the same, can we leave it as is?"

My restraint, it is admirable. Right up until I posted the whole thing here. Ah well.


Ummm... yeah. Where did that month go?

Sorry about that. On a day-to-day basis, there doesn't seem to be much worth relaying recently.

I'm still working, so is the Mr.

Attic progress has slowed somewhat due to contractor schedules, but should recommence soon.

Weather has been kinda dry, and just warm enough to encourage the bees. So I've been avoiding the garden, much to its detriment.

We had Company a couple of weeks ago. Miss Jill came for a visit with Chris and baby Ada, who looks just like her pretty Mama. It's such a gift to spend time with an old friend (sheesh, I sound like I'm 93). But it really made me think a lot about friendships. How maudlin! I have a handful of friends, who no matter how much time passes between email or conversations or visits, the moment we meet again it's like the sun comes out and the years fall away and I'd swear it was only a couple of days since we last met. Jill is one of those people (I'm lucky to have a few such). A lovely present for me.

It's funny, I don't think of myself as shy, but I've never really been a social butterfly. When I was a kid I never liked going on sleep-overs, and I'd call my Mom to pick me up as soon as the other kids started off to sleep. If we had one at my house, I made all the other kids sleep in the den and I slept in my room by myself. I hate crowds and particularly large parties. I never know what to say to strangers, so it's a wonder I manage to make any friends at all! It is NO wonder at all that I find myself surrounded by people who will carry a conversation for me in situations like these. That sounds so mercenary... I think I just fit best with friends who don't need me to be just like them in order for them to like me. Wrap your head around that one. Which is all to say I'm extremely fortunate in my friends. They are open-minded, generous and sincere.

Last week was my thirty-seventh birthday. I think. I mean, I'm sure it was my birthday, and I'm pretty sure it was my thirty-seventh. I can't say I still feel like a teenager, but I certainly don't feel my age. We spent the evening with Bethany (one of those lovely friends who understands about what parties do to me) and her boys, riding go-carts and playing putt-putt. Take THAT thirty-seven!


Attic Update

More progress in the attic!

Everything is primed, and the ceiling and walls are painted. It's hard to see in this light, but the color is actually a very pale taupe. A few little touch-ups and a nice accent color on the half wall at the stairwell and the painting will be done! We're now debating carpet colors and the possibility of new windows.


Wow. Just Had to Share.

So my Dad took me to dinner at Red Hot & Blue before I left Dallas. I ordered iced tea to drink. This is what they gave me - a pitcher with a straw. In spite of the super spicy BBQ sauce I poured all over my delicious plate of brisket, I was unable to finish my beverage.

I guess it's the heat, but I'd forgotten how much liquid people seem to consume here.


I Know You're Envious, But Try to Restrain Yourself

Those of you who've never been to Braum's won't understand, but BEHOLD! The Cherry Limeade. See how it glows in the light of the setting sun... taste the glory of real lime juice. Can't go to Dallas and not stop at Braum's. Yes, back in Dallas just for a few days to see my Mom.


Oh, Yes We Did...

AT LAST! Chipotle has come to town!

We went on the actual first day of business, and the line wrapped all around the building. The parking lot was gridlocked, as it is still under construction and there were just way too many people looking for burritos. People were walking over from other parking lots and several were sitting on their cars to eat. So we kept driving.

We went back on the second day of business and actually got a parking place and stood in line (see photo). Yes. We stood in that line for tacos. The line was even longer when we left.

It was totally worth it.


How many days until...?

Gratuitous cat shot!

It takes so little really. New Miss Marple series out on DVD next week and Chipotle is coming to Rochester next Friday. BBC and barbacoa... this is way harder than waiting for my birthday!


Four days and Flyin'

These guys mean business! It's really looking like a proper room - so exciting. We're debating paint schemes now...


It Can't be Summer Because I'm Not Sweating

So, yeah... it's been awhile. Sorry about that. We'll just call this a quick update before I head off to a BBQ at a friend's house (woo-hoo BBQ!).

My Dad stayed for about a week and even bought himself a new Old Car before he left. I believe "Daisy" has now made it safely to Texas where she is acclimating to the heat. A few days after my Dad's departure, my Mom & Adam's Mom (henceforth to be referred to as the gardeners-in-law) met up at our house for a few days worth of gardening. And there was much gratitude in the air. I haven't been out there since, but it is still massively improved! They got out almost every sprout of fennel (can I get an A-men?) and did a truly heroic amount of weeding and pruning. We got the weeping [read: falling over] cypress tied upright again, and eliminated a couple of renegade rosebushes that had popped up in the middle of other shrubs. Four - count 'em FOUR - 4.5 foot deep wheelie bins full of weeds and trimmings. *whew*

The bat exclusion people finished setting up, so now we just wait a couple of months and then they come back, take off the valves and seal up the holes. Yay - no more bats! For those who are unaware, they identify the major bat entrances/exits and place one-way valves over them so the bats can get out but not back in. They seal up all other potential entrances and wait. The bats leave to get food and are trapped outside the house. No chemicals, no dead animals, no guilt. I'm sure there's another house somewhere in the neighborhood they can get into...

Adam narrowly escaped having to make a short notice trip to Nigeria. The company he does most of his contracting with wanted him there for almost a month! Lucky for me, the logistics just didn't work out. I have filed my request for him to please not go to Nigeria again. I think my odds are fairly good on that one.

Last week, I went to lovely Chapel Hill, NC, for my first business conference - ABSAP, the Association of Business School Alumni Professionals. I wasn't sure what to expect, as the only conference I've been to before was NCECA. It was certainly different (50 people instead of 2000 - membership is limited to top tier schools), but it was actually quite fun and gratifyingly educational. The group has an amazing spirit of sharing and camaraderie that was somewhat unexpected. I guess it makes sense though, as we all do the same work, face the same challenges, share the same goals for our institutions and yet are not in any real competition. We are all trying to better engage our own alums, for the improvement of our school communities. If I haven't mentioned it before now, I absolutely LOVE being able to feel good about what I do.

Now it's back to work, but with the addition of drywallers coming to finish our attic so Adam can have better space for his office! Yay - office! We planned to do this when we bought the house three years ago, and it's only just now becoming a reality. The previous owner had started the drywalling and Adam has done a ton of work up there in preparation for this point, so once the rest of the drywall is done, it's just woodwork, paint and carpet. The picture above is the "now", and I'll post some during and after shots as we move forward.

The driveway has already been given fair warning that it is next on my list.


Bikers Give Big

My Dad and I spent the afternoon volunteering at a fundraiser for the Wilmot Cancer Center. It's an annual ride featuring a Cenzi Custom bike giveaway, a Poker Run, bike show and lots of prizes. It's a great day and this year there were about 500 bikes (and about 1,000 people in attendance)! The photo above includes some Cenzi bikes, one of which won best of show.

We followed that up with a little backyard burger grilling, and I'm working on an ice-cream outing. Wish me luck!


Veg. It's What's for Dinner!

We're trying to get back to cooking at home more often. Saves money and it's generally healthier all round.

I'm calling it Texpacho. With saffron rice and roasted sweet corn. Lovely summer dinner. The book recommends Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier, but we're fresh out. Next time!

4 medium sized tomatoes (seeded)
juice retained from seeded tomatoes
1 cucumber (peeled & seeded)
1 poblano pepper (seeded)
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
1/2 large red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4C lime juice (1 large lime)
1/4C olive oil
1/4C original V8 juice
2T red wine vinegar
1tsp toasted coriander seed
salt & pepper

Chop tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and onion, and run through the food processor in small batches. Do not over process. Serve chilled.


My New Favorite Blog

Meet Maru...


Ostrama... Llamu...

If you had been a fly on the wall (or perhaps a cat under the table) of our dining room yesterday evening, you could have witnessed the following exchange. Though you might have had difficulty deciphering the words through the snickering. Which eventually dissolved into hysterical, breathless laughter on my part.

A: Ooh, I've got goosebumps... or perhaps emu bumps.

K: Or ostrich bumps?

A: Yes, ostrich bumps.

K: Or maybe even llama bumps?

A: Llama bumps...? Llamas aren't birds!

K: Well, yeah. Little known fact that the llama is actually a distant cousin of the emu and ostrich. Think about it... great big feathery backside...

A: Llamas don't have feathers!

K: ... great long neck, tiny little head, pointy nose and bulging eyes...

A: ... bilaterally symmetrical...

K: OK, now you're just being... [insert hysterical laughter here] ... silly!


*Whew* What a week... or so!

The last couple of weeks have been super crazy at work! We just put on our major advisory board meeting for the Spring, and it's such a relief to have pulled it off with no hiccups. And smack in the middle of the lead-up to the meeting, I took a couple of days off to go to a wedding. Boy did I need it! I realized last week that I hadn't had more than two days off in a row since our wedding last July. Too long. WAY too long.

We spent three lovely days in Florida, loaded with sunshine and ocean, friends and pancakes. I even got me a new hat. Why is it that you can't get a decent hat in Rochester? I have searched for hats here on many occasions, and the options are frankly dismal. We also discovered Rasta Sauce at Tijuana Flats. I almost cried when they told me they didn't have any inventory for sale. Even the website is out of stock. Bummer.

When we got home, we discovered the most amazing thing had happened while we were out of town... Spring is fully sprung. It's past time for the first mowing and the trees are flowering, the flower beds are filling up and it's already time to do some weeding! GAAHHR! WEEDING!

And finally, many congratulations to Jill and Chris for the safe arrival of little Miss Ada, the teensiest gnome in Seattle!


Overheard On a College Campus Near Here...

According to the slightly furry young man who just passed me in the hallway, "London has some museums, and Buckingham Palace..."

I'm hoping he's not planning a career in the tourism and hospitality industry.



Spent the weekend in the Keys with Heidi and the girls. Driving down that 2-lane highway in the brilliant sunshine, blue skies, turquoise water and mad tropical flora and fauna... it's been more than ten years, and yet it felt oddly like coming home again.


The Sun is Shining, the Snow is Melted, the Early Bulbs are Blooming

I believe I have mentioned (on more than one occasion) that every time the Mr. leaves town, Mother Nature takes a whack at me. Well, I'm pretty sure she's off the hook this time...

It's a small thing, really, and I'll admit I've been waiting for this to happen for a few months now. But, still. Some little rat-bag has stolen one of the super-cool, day-glo orange snowplow guide poles from our driveway. Like I said, a small thing, but WHY??? What could they possibly need it for in this beautiful weather? Is it wrong to hope that they trip and poke themselves in the gut with it?


Just Had to Share

Today is March 12. Tomorrow is trash day. On my way home today, I spotted one of my neighbors putting their "live" Christmas tree out by the curb for pick-up.

That is impressive indeed.


Thanksgiving in March

I have a roof over my head, at a price I can afford.

I have a good job.

I am married to my favorite person in the whole wide world.

He loves me, too.

I have some truly wonderful friends & family.

I have seen enough of the world to appreciate where I am now.

I have kitties in my life.

I can still fit into some of my clothes from high school.

I don't need to retire any time soon.

I have all my teeth :)


Spring Is... hmph. Still a Long Way Off.

Kitty pic! Just because.

It seems like there just isn't much to report these days. I saw the sun last week. And some of my spring bulbs tried to come up. Unfortunately, after a brief run of days in the 50 degree range, we are back to brrr. My nose is cold. My feet are cold. My fingers are cold. And in an effort to save money, my employer has turned the thermostat down to 68 degrees. They won't allow space heaters, but I wonder if they'd let me stash a cat under my desk...

The Mr. has been very industrious in the attic of late. He tore out and rebuilt from scratch a built-in bookcase along the front wall. I wonder if he'll rent me some shelf space for my overflow? Why can I never find enough shelves for my books?

And, we've discovered a couple of new favorite BBC series. Midsomer Murder and the Last Detective. Both have sufficient humor and cozy quality to offset the contemporary crime drama curse.

That's me for now. Slow news day.


Nose to the Grindstone

Thanks so much for all of your kind wishes and congratulations!

Everyone keeps asking, "How's the new job?" and after only two weeks, I'm not entirely sure how to respond. It's been a novel experience to say the least. I hesitate to say "I love it!", but there's really nothing to complain about. It's neither glamorous nor particularly thrilling, but how many people can honestly say those things about their 9-5?

I'm learning new stuff every day and THAT makes me happy. I can see paths of personal advancement branching out from where I stand, and THAT is reassuring. The small things I do on a daily basis help bring funds to the school, which improves the educational opportunities for our students, which ultimately improves their lives (and, one hopes, the lives they touch).

Idealistic, I know, and that the halo effect will probably wear off. But for the first time in my memory, I don't find myself wishing I didn't have to go to work. Like I said, novel.


Recommended Reading

You are already reading the Twilight series, right? When you finish those...

Here are my favorites (generally listed in the order in which they should be read):

Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Lamb - Christopher Moore
Snowcrash - Neal Stephenson
Burning Chrome - William Gibson

MORE Terry Pratchett:
Wee Free Men, Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith
Discworld Series, Witches sub-series
ALSO - rent the movies Hogfather & Color of Magic

MORE Christopher Moore:
Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, Dirty Job
Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Stupidest Angel

MORE Neil Gaiman:
the Graveyard Book (recent Newbery winner)
Anansi Boys

Extraordinary & Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle (1st in series) - Webb


Mysterious Benedict Society - Stewart
Mysterious Benedict Society & the Perilous Journey - Stewart
Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
Castle in the Air - Diana Wynne Jones
Percy Jackson & the Olympians (series begins with the Lightning Thief) - Riordan
Frog Princess - E.D. Baker (first in a series)

MORE Diana Wynne Jones:
Chrestomanci series
Dalemark Quartet

IF YOU LIKE MYSTERIES (be sure to read in order):
Amelia Peabody series - Elizabeth Peters
Lord Peter Wimsey series - Dorothy Sayers
Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave - Stephanie Barron (Jane Austen mysteries)

Name of the Rose (be sure to invest in the companion as well, it's a HUGE help) - Umberto Eco
Possession - A.S. Byatt (forget the movie)

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - Maguire
Handmaid's Tale - Atwood
Elegance - Tessaro



New Word for the Dictionary

Wreckerater: individual responsible for the creation of a real wreck of a cake.

I just stumbled across this blog in my usual stream-of-consciousness, no-idea-how-I-got-here manner of net surfing. But HOLY CATS would you look at some of these cakes! I am so glad our wedding was as fabulous as it was... once you've seen that post, check out the more current ones.


He Calls Me His Little Yellow Jackette

Well - I've had so many requests for info on my new job, so here goes.

I am the new Program Assistant for the Office of Advancement at a local Graduate School of Business which shall remain nameless. I have an office of my own, with a door and all. The people I work for are very friendly, and seem to laugh a lot. I've apparently been very fortunate in my assignment of parking lots.

I started Monday and Tuesday with general University Orientation, followed by time in my very own office. Our group is putting on a recruitment event in NYC for Thursday (I don't have to go, but everyone else will), so they were in prep mode. Today, I spent the majority of my time putting together nametags from the registration database. Doesn't sound so complicated, I know, but I'm using a computer I only just met, with an operating system I haven't seen recently, with software updates I haven't had a chance to get friendly with yet. I don't like Windows, it's not intuitive and it's doing a very good job of making me feel like a total idiot. It's something like the first day of high school. In a strange place, not entirely certain what's going on, and surrounded by unfamiliar faces who know a LOT more about what you're supposed to be doing than YOU do. It's exhausting.

As glad as I am to be learning, I hate feeling so ignorant. And now I'm having paranoid fantasies about having left a sheet of nametags out when I packed them up for my boss. I'm pretty sure I did not do that.


Happy New Year!

Well, sorry about the long silence, but things have been a bit hectic with getting back in gear after the holidays. If you don't work in retail, you probably don't realize that the weeks immediately AFTER Christmas are almost as exhausting as the weeks immediately BEFORE. Except that the volume of returns means that profits are lagging and payroll has to be reduced accordingly. And then there are all those people who are so angry that you actually expect them to read the return policy on the receipt, or even expect them to have a receipt at all. What can we be thinking??? Boy - I won't miss that bit...

Which leads me to the main reason I've been so quiet, and the "Happy" part of the year to date... I've just accepted a position in the Office of Advancement at our major local University! No, not the one I attended. THAT would be sheer torture. The other one. So raise your glass and three cheers and all that! I've been job-hunting for nearly two years, and this is exactly the thing I've been hoping to get into. I haven't mentioned much about this process, because it hasn't been a pleasurable one. Downright daunting if I'm honest. Our local economy wasn't booming to begin with, and the slide in the economy at large hasn't been helping. Perhaps not the best time to make a career transition. But this week, I can heave a great sigh of relief. What a load off!