Friday, March 26, 2010

If you read this really fast it might feel like one topic.

I am paranoid. We already know that. But do you ever wonder if there are moments where we are spared some sort of disaster? Are there "what ifs" that we don't even know about because we were spared?

Molly the dog is staying at our house while my parents are out of town. She sleeps next to my bed and I have never heard a peep out of her. Last night at 3:40am she was up and walking around the bedroom. She came back next to my side of the bed and sat staring at me until I got up. She raced down the stairs to the door. I let her out in the backyard and she spent 5 minutes in full reconnaissance mode. Molly circled the backyard with her nose to the ground and the hair on her back raised. I called her and she just kept going. I was thoroughly freaked out and woke up the husband who told me to stop worrying.

Molly finally came inside and laid back down on her bed. But it was a good 30 minutes before she actually put her head back down and went back to sleep. Needless to say it was at least that long before I went back to sleep too.

I don't know if there was a bird taunting her or some real creeper outside my yard, but I still want to thank Molly for saving my life.


Yesterday I had my annual "lady" appointment. After teaching sexuality to teenagers for four years I am generally not weirded out by this anymore. However yesterday in the room I was really bothered by one thought-- should I leave my socks on?


I am ever so grateful for the arrival of Friday. This week has been busy, busy, busy! Brandon and I will attack the forest of grass in the backyard (it is literally two feet tall), FINALLY hang up some curtains that haven't been up since we moved in, and I will attack the laundry pile that has been accumulating. I will do my taxes for a second time because I completely disagreed with the outcome the first time and hope that doing them by hand instead of using the fool proof TurboTax will result in something better for me. *sigh* Outlook not good.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What is the statute of limitations on overdue library charges?

Sometime around my senior year I was riding the bus home (yes, I still had to take the bus occasionally) with sophomore boys who were reading "The Catcher in the Rye." While I considered myself well-read in the classics, this was one book that I had never opened. After reading the first few paragraphs I decided that I would read the entire book and headed to the library.

I can't tell you why I went to the library. I don't do libraries. I buy books and I borrow books but I don't get them from the library. But sometime around my senior year I was riding the bus home when I decided that I should borrow "The Catcher in the Rye" from the library.

"The Catcher in the Rye" didn't do much for me. I remember thinking that it must be a book for adolescent boys.

Several months later I realized I hadn't returned the book the library. I put it in my car so I would remember. I went to college without returning it. The book got packed up with all my other books when I bought my condo. It didn't get returned.

This weekend when I was unpacking books into the bookshelf in our house, I found "The Catcher in the Rye."

Sometime around my senior year I was riding the bus home when I decided to borrow "The Catcher in the Rye" from the library and I never returned it. It is ten years overdue.

I remember seeing a story on the news once of someone returning books to a library some 50 years after they had been checked out. Looks like I better hold on the book a little longer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Erin go braugh!

Last August my family went to Ireland. Besides beginning in Dublin (and our trip to the Guinness factory), we stayed away from the really touristy places as we went in search of the places my grandfather’s parents were born. We had a fabulous driver/tour guide named Liam. I think he is part leprechaun. He helped us appreciate the culture, the food, the beer and the idioms. He pulled over every time I saw some sort of livestock I thought deserved to be photographed and he truly showed us the beauty of Ireland as we uncovered our family history and explored Ireland. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some Irish sayings and a few photos.

Yes, they have a school of falconry. One part boss + one part Hogwarts = AWESOME.

"An Irishman is slow to a bar and slow to leave it."

"Better five minutes late than 20 years early."

"You can boil an egg and fry another and he'll say you boiled the wrong one."

"Whatever pushes your boat out!"

This little guy wanted to be my friend. This is also an occasion where I literally made the driver stop the bus.

Ireland is covered in "famine fields." They are what is left of the potato fields from the famine times. Out of memory and superstition they go untouched.

"Willful waste makes woeful want." Pretty sure it means drink all your beer.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip:
After a day of talking to local people, we found the site of the home where my paternal great-grandfather was born:

This is the castle where Pierce Brosnan had his wedding. It seriously looks like a fake cut out. It is real. And we snuck in.

The Irish Wake was not made up. We stopped in a tiny little town for lunch and stumbled upon a group of men who just found out that one of their friends had passed away. It was noon and they were drinking. That's how I want to be celebrated!

I tried my best to embrace all things Irish. But I do not like to drink Jameson straight.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Beginning of Irish week

In honor of St. Patrick’s day I am dedicating the rest of this week to Ireland and all things Irish. I have many more serious things to reflect on which will come later in the week, but let us start off with something fun, delicious and stereotypical: GUINNESS.

Last year my family spent a week in Ireland. Most of our travels were off the beaten path. But we did start our trip with the most touristy thing we could think of. We arrived in Dublin at 8am. By 11am we were at the Guinness factory. The boys paid their respects.

Guinness was established in 1759. In case you didn’t pass junior high school history, that means Guinness has been around longer than the United States. They have a museum tour in Dublin which winds up at the top of an nine story building where you get an entire pint of Guinness. This was the first time I ever had Guinness... and I learned a little of what heaven is like. I was under the impression that Guinness was very heavy. It is actually much lighter than I thought it would be and learned that it is very low in calories! Needless to say I ended up drinking a lot of Guinness on this trip.
To give you an idea of how much the Irish respect their beer, check out this little van we found. It literally drives all over the country to ensure that quality Guinness is being poured in every little pub in Ireland. My sister gives that the thumbs up.

So this St. Patrick's Day join in a tradition older than the 4th of July and enjoy yourself a pint of Guinness.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The case of the lawnmower

Although I was tired of living so close to my neighbors, there were advantages to living in a condo. One of the best features was that ALL of the landscaping was taken care of. I was free to kill my potted plants as I wished, but the lawn, trees, shurubbery and flowers were all well manicured (and alive) because someone else was taking care of them. When we bought our house we knew that yard maintenance came with the deal, but really, how hard can it be?

We moved into our house in December when grass doesn’t grow. Which was convenient because we didn’t own a lawnmower and didn’t have extra money to buy one. But in the last couple of weeks the weather has changed daily, from spring rains to glorious sun, making my lawn believe it was time to grow. I looked around last week and realized we were becoming the trashy neighbors... everyone else had beautifully manicured lawn. We did not.

After weeks of procrastinating our purchase, we went to Sears yesterday afternoon to buy a lawnmower. Here is how the afternoon went:

1. We buy a lawnmower.
2. We assemble the lawnmower. Mostly I read Brandon the instructions, but that must be helping.
3. We look proudly at our accomplishment and Brandon tries to move it from driveway to lawn. Mower doesn’t move. Mower has a bum wheel.
4. Brandon’s blood pressure rises and I quickly escape into the house as I shout to call Sears. It is his lawnmower... he should have to call, right?
5. We load assembled lawn mower into car. I am terrified because there is gas in that sucker and I am convinced it will blow up. I have a general mistrust for engines.
6. We awkwardly exchange mower.
7. We assemble new mower. I am an expert now and help more.
8. Brandon starts mowing lawn and rolls ankle in the rock garden. He has hardly mowed 25% of the lawn.
9. I fear I will have to push the death machine to finish mowing the grass. Husband rallies and hobbles through.
10. I admire the lawn because it looks pretty.

I am happy not to be the trashy neighbors anymore.

Unless you walk around back and see that we still have not put up the fence that fell down in January and instead are using that bright orange security fence. Classy, I know.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Obsessions, Part 1: TV on DVD

Welcome to my new little feature “Obsessions” where you will learn about the things in my life that I cannot live without. First up: TV on DVD. It is one thing to watch a show religiously, but it is an entirely different level of sick that will drive a girl to do marathons on DVD. I reached a new low in my life when I lived for the red Netflix envelope in my mailbox.

Gilmore Girls. I have seen EVERY episode of the Gilmore Girls at least three times. At least. I watched every episode on the first run. I watched all the DVDs in college (well at least those that were released already) and then I went back and watched them all when the series ended. Again. I am obsessed with Lorelai. If could be any TV character I would be her. She is beautiful, witty and strong. She drives the kind of Jeep my dad would never let me have. She talks fast, has great taste in music and after two seasons of terrible wardrobe she finally got her act together to have some good clothes. I hated when Amy Sherman-Palladino left the show because the last two seasons got a little strange, but seriously, The Gilmore Girls is awesome. AND OOOOOOOOH, how can I forget that my favorite singer/songwriter Carole King did the theme song?! Amazing!

Sex and the City. I was a little late to the game on this show because I never had HBO. Like, I didn’t watch it until after the movie came out. In fact I saw the movie before I watched the show. Brandon mocked me mercilessly for it, but I love watching a life that I would/could never live. There is not one of those women that I idolize or care to be like, but yet there something I envy about them—their freedom, their power and their fabulous outfits.

Firefly. I have a thing for sci-fi, but really, cowboys in space? Brilliant! It is a shame that there was only season of this show.

The West Wing. This is another show that I have watched all the way through TWO times on DVD. TWO. I NEVER skip the credits because the genius music by W.G. Snuffy Walden (best name ever) makes me feel more patriotic than the Star Spangled Banner. The West Wing was awesome from the very first episode (“POTUS in a bike accident!"). I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with Rob Lowe. And let’s be honest, I learned more about the American government from the West Wing than in all my years of going to school.

LOST. This show may not be over yet, but Brandon and I prepared for the final season by watching the first five seasons on DVD. What I learned through this exercise is that my memory sucks. Which is okay in LOST because I am so damn confused anyway that it doesn’t really matter.

21 Jump Street. Johnny Depp. Did you miss that? Let me say it again. JOHNNY DEPP. Plus cops going undercover in high school never gets old. And then they all hang out in this really cool loft and wear awesome 80s outfits. One thing I never did understand—don’t you think the word would get out after awhile that there were undercover cops around? Do yourself a favor and watch this.

Sports Night. Brandon convinced me that my love of the West Wing would be transferrable to another Aaron Sorkin show. This show barely made it two seasons, but it was fantastic.

The Simpsons (not yet completed). My husband is a freak about The Simpsons. It turns out I also think the show is funny. I think we have watched seven of the seasons on DVD and I am sure that soon enough we will finish them all off. Homer and Hans Moleman are my favorite characters and there are so many quotable lines from that show.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My first marathon

Don't get all excited. I didn't run a marathon. But I did head to Napa to watch my husband in his first marathon. We headed to Napa on Friday night so we could have some time to relax. We ate at Cuvee where I had the best wedge salad of my life. Bacon that thick is sinful and I enjoyed every moment of it.

On Saturday we drove the marathon course toward Calistoga on the Silverado Trail. We stopped at ZD and a small winery called August Briggs. I was a little tired and so Brandon did most of the tasting. We drove back to Napa on Highway 29. Suddenly I was awake and joyous when I saw the sign for my happy place: CHANDON. Sparkling wine? Yes, please! Even though Brandon didn't plan on drinking at Chandon, they took pity on him and poured him some expensive Pinot that was seriously delicious. The funny guy at Chandon offered to take our picture:

The memorable moment from Chandon was definitely when I decided that elephants would be the best source of grape stomping. They have huge feet and could certainly crush more grapes than Lucy. Think about it.

Sunday was race day. I slept terribly as the worried wife. I dreamt at least twice that Brandon missed the bus to the starting line. I was convinced that something bad was going to happen. Brandon had to be in the hotel lobby at 5:15 am and we were both awake before the alarm went off. I was too tired to remember the camera so I took a picture of him with my iPhone and then I cried because I am a sap and because it was too damn early to be awake.

I knew Brandon's pace so we timed it perfectly to see him at mile 9. Here was my first glimpse of him. I was relieved that he survived the bus trip and was running a marathon and so I cried.

We had a quick glimpse of him from afar at about mile 11 or so. But at mile 16 I was ready with the camera and I was so happy to see him still smiling! He gave me the thumbs up and a fist pump. He was a couple of minutes ahead of his pace and I was so relieved to see him strong and smiling! I cried because he was doing so well. In fact, he finished 16 miles only eight minutes slower than he ran a half marathon last spring. That is what I call progress.

Brandon encountered some hamstring problems around mile 20 so worried wife returned when he was off his pace at mile 23 where I was waiting. I was cheering and clapping for runners like crazy up until the time when I knew he should have been there. Then I just stood pretty quietly until I finally saw him. And then I cried because he was okay and I had been so worried.

When Brandon crossed the finish line I was so excited. I ran around the building to go meet him and of course I started crying. I was so proud and exhausted from worrying and relieved that I didn't have to worry anymore. But mostly I was immensely proud of this man I married who didn't even like to run four years ago.

After showers and lunch we hit the road with my brother and drove 29/Silverado Trail again. It was a beautiful Napa day and we ended up at Sterling winery because it is awesome and has a gondola.

So marathon weekend was awesome from beginning to end. Good food, great wine, awesome first marathon for Brandon and his crazy wife.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Beer and blogging

Yesterday this showed up on my Facebook wall from Kim at Yep, they are all mine:

" you blogging anymore??? i've provided you with some prompts to get those creative juices flowin'.

1. what did you do for your birthday?
2. how awesome is your adopted family member kim and when are you going to see her again?
3. when's the next haley's comet?"

As a matter of fact I am blogging. Every day. In my head. Which is not useful to any of my readers. My problem lately is that I am full of ideas that inspire exactly two sentences. That is a status update, not a blog. As I was swimming this morning (which provides ample thinking time) I figured out the root of my problem.

Lack of beer.

I am serious. When Lent started I gave up daily drinking. Don't worry, I don't have a drinking problem. But I do enjoy having a beer every night. Well for Lent I decided to cut back on drinking during the week. This happens to be timed almost exactly with my last blog. Coincidence? I think not. The great thinker Homer Simpson is always right: "Beer is the cause of and the answer to all of life's problems." Well said, Homer.

So this morning I make my return to the blog and will make a daily effort to write (even in the absence of my beer). And now for Kim's prompts...

1. I didn't do anything super special for my birthday. I am saving up all the great partying for when I turn 30. We had dinner with my family in the bay area and I blew out a candle on the leftover cake from my great-uncle's funeral (classy? Yes.) On Sunday I met my sister for mimosas and we had pedicures. Mmmm... mimosas.

2. My adopted family member Kim is soooo awesome that I secretly stalk her when I visit my sister. By secretly I mean that I send her messages the next day saying that I did it. But then I discover I am bad at stalking because I don't even know what house it is. One thing is for sure, if you were angrily cursing some loud folk in the street at 2am last Saturday, that may have been me. Sorry. The reasons you are awesome are endless--(your writing is engaging, your sense of humor makes me laugh, you take great photos, you have awesome children...) but the most important are that you like sushi and drinking. How could you not be my friend? So to answer your second question and address my writing problem, clearly we should be meeting for a drink. Soon. Or else there will be no more blogging.

3. I hope the last question is a reference to "The Hangover." I am obsessed with that movie. I want to watch it all the time. Brandon won't let me. He always wants to watch something he got on Netflix that I have never heard of. But the answer is July 28, 2061. If we are alive we should have a beer and watch it.