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Latesst Posts From My Garden Blog

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Back From The Southern Henterlands

Hi blog people. I just finished the week long work project I talked about in my previous post. My prediction of 10 hour days unfortunately turned out to be true. However, I did get my work done and was able to go to the HS reunion. Gong back to TN is always kinda weird and nice all at the same time. Here are some highlights (in fictionalized Twitter format):

9:15 AM Friday- Arrive at Nashville International Airport; see tourists taking pictures of themselves standing next to life sized photos of country music stars

9:45 AM- Get "upgraded" from a mid-size car to a full blown SUV by the rental car company. I hadn't planned on showing up to the reunion in a gas guzzler, but it does have XM satellite radio, which has the potential to be cool.

9:50 AM- Get on the road, headed to best friend J's house. The lack of aggressive driving and people in general as compared to Chicago is noticeable. Now that I've lived in Chicago for four years now, I really notice the open space "back home."

10:30 AM- We make a pit stop at the Shoe Carnival to look for some shoes to go with my dress. Despite my notoriously hard to find shoe size, I end up finding two pairs of shoes that are cute, comfy, and actually fit. Awesome! After paying for the shoes I experience what would turn out to be a pattern of me confusing cashiers by saying that I don't need a bag for my merchandise.

10:45 AM- Notice a Christian store in the same parking lot as Shoe Carnival. We don't have many of these in Chicago either. We think about going into the store and attempting to "buy some Christians."

12:00 noon- Finally arrive at Best Friend J's parents' house, which is even more beautiful than I remembered (a la 19th century plantation home, beautifully decorated, and with a totally awesome garden). The dogwoods are all in bloom in Middle Tennessee-- so so beautiful!

12:10 PM- Meet Best Friend J's BF; judge him to be made of awesome (especially after learning that he's a devotee of the Dish Network's "Chill" music channel). We have a lovely lunch with J and Awesome BF then head back to the house to get dressed for the evening's events.

4:00 PM- After getting all gussied up, we drive our SUV parade down to the lil' town where our school is located. We meet up with Best Friend H! yay! The three of us haven't been together in over 5 years. We promise not to wait as long for the next get together.

6:00 PM- Show up at Reunion fashionably late, but apparently not late enough seeing as we were the first people from our graduating class to show up. Yep. We're still the dorks.

8:00 PM- After pleasant greetings from old classmates and teachers, we settle in for a nice southern meal and the worst Comedian EVER! (Well, that's not really true. He was actually pretty funny, although he did insult "southern people" and "rich southern people" on multiple occasions, which didn't go over well with the predominantly rich southern people crowd. Also, who wants to shut up and have to listen to a comedian when they could be talking to people they haven't talked to in, lets say, TEN YEARS! At one point he asked "those people who want to continue the cocktail party to leave the tent." So, by the end of his set, about 80% of the audience had left. I really feel sorry for the guy, but there's no getting around the fact that it was a huge disaster all around).

10:00 PM- After surviving the comedian, we stick around long enough to get in the class photo. Out of a graduating class of 35 or so people, about 12 of us showed up. There were a lot of people who I would have loved to see who weren't there, unfortunately.

10:15 PM- Get accosted by an inebriated member of the graduating class of 95 or 96 who feels it necessary to repeatedly bring up an embarrassing aspect of my high school experience. It was a sensitive subject then and still is now. Thanks for making me relive that. At this point I retreat to the car and wonder why I bothered to show up.

11:00 PM- Am reminded that a meal of waffles and hash browns from the Waffle House, along with the company of Best Friends H and J, can cure any fowl mood.

11:30 PM- Spend about ten minutes driving around trying to find Best Friend J's parents' vacation house that they've so kindly lent us for the weekend. The numbers aren't clearly marked, so we end up looking in people's mailboxes for clues. Eventually we find the house completely by accident. YAY! We are so tired. We all stagger in and go to bed almost immediately.

Here ends Day 1 excitement!
Stay tuned (for more marginally entertaining details of my weekend). :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm Making It Short...

I've got tons of work to get finished before I can leave to go to my high school reunion this weekend (which I am very much looking forward to if for no other reason than I'll be able to hang with my best friends who I haven't seen in a few years) so this is going to be a quick blog.

  • After a weekend of gardening (check out the snappy garden blog for further details). I am SO freaking tired and not looking forward to 4 days of inevitably 10+ hour work days as I finish a project while my boss is on vacation in Florida (although she was here at the office all weekend so its not like I'm getting shafted with all the work and none of the play).
  • We had another quote on the patio project today. The preliminary estimate is a couple K higher than the estimate we got from the first guy, so it looks like this patio project is going to be more expensive than we had anticipated.
  • Did I mention that its finally spring here in Chi-tundra-landia? They say it was 8th longest / worst winter in history up here. All the plants are so late in emerging, our tulips are just now starting to bloom.
  • I've met a new internet friend who has become my partner in crime. We've got our minds set on starting a community garden in the FP. I'll let you know how things are going once anything actually happens. :)
Ok folks, that's it! Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bloglets (Little Blogs)

Hi blog people. Today I have stories / observations which I will present in bullet form, as none of them warrant an entire blog by themselves. Don't get too excited. There are half assed stories at best. Nevertheless, here goes:

  • Nick's been working tons of overtime lately, but fortunately today is the last day of late nights at work for him. To celebrate the end of his work project, he wore his kilt to work today. Given his general quirkiness and the fact that he's worn the kilt to work many times before, I doubt anyone will look twice. And... I think its kinda cute :). So yeah, I'm a fan of the kilt. But, sometimes you never know how other people who don't know Nick will react. So, we were standing in the kitchen this morning and Nick noticed that there was a police car in our alley. I sent him out to go check on what was going on. I have to admit that the recent cougar sightings around Chicago had me thinking that maybe there was a wild animal going through our trash. So, Nick goes out the be all manly and protect the homestead. When he gets back he tells me that the cop was just sitting in his cop car in the alley and that when Nick had opened the gate to see what was going on, the cop had looked at Nick and asked "Are you coming out?" Nick, confused, just sort of stood there and looked back at the cop. The cop looks at Nick and then shakes his head and asks again "Do you need to pull your car out?" ... ... Get it? Get it? Nick, standing there in his man-dress momentarily thought that the cop was asking him if he was coming out OF THE CLOSET! haha! ok. Next:
  • If the woman serving soup samples at Cosco maintains that the soup is indeed vegetarian, even after you've pointed out that the first ingredient on the can is chicken broth, an appropriate comeback might be "Well, I'm pretty sure they had to kill the chickens to get the broth. Its not like they can just drain the chicken hot tub at the chicken spa."
  • Because Nick has been working such long hours, and because we have so much fun going to the grocery store together (seriously, its true, we really get into grocery shopping), we haven't been to the store in a couple weeks and I've run out of stuff to take to work for lunch. So, I've been "forced" to go out and buy my lunch every day this week. Its been nice to get out of the office and enjoy the new spring weather, instead of eating at my desk, so I'm not complaining. I just have a couple of questions: 1) If you're a white dude and you're in Chipotle (national burrito chain restaurant), is it weird if you attempt to speak in Spanish to the coincidentally Hispanic woman behind the counter? 2) Should I be mad when I order potato salad at Corner Bakery and they bring me what is basically cold french fries? 3) Restaurants that have that weird self service / wait staff hybrid thing going on stress me out. If I order my food at the counter, but you bring me my food to my table after I've ordered, does that mean I'm supposed to tip you? Also, is it expected that I will leave my dirty dishes and trash on the table for you to clean up? I don't want to be the dumb person walking around with her plate looking for a place to deposit it when I was just supposed to leave it on the table. But, I also don't want to be the asshole customer who lives their crap on the table when I'm not supposed to. Just tell me what to do. Put out some signs or something.
  • I don't know if any of the etiquette /advice people have ever had to put this rule in writing, but I'd just like to assert my opinion that (except for a few vocations) wearing underwear to work should be required... especially if you're wearing a man-skirt! I usually don't like to tell Nick what to do, but I just had to put my foot down on this one. I don't care how traditional or untraditional it is, we live in the Windy City for freak sake!
  • If you're having a good day and feeling pretty good about yourself, I don't recommend going swimsuit shopping. I don't care if you did just lose 12 pounds, you're approaching 30 and apparently things are just... different, now. I suggest shopping at the Borders instead.
(that's what I say when I tell stories/jokes that aren't very good and sort of fall on their face)
Thanks for reading anyway. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Its the Principle of the Thing....

Earlier today I was looking through my bank account at my bank's online banking website when I noticed that I've been charged a $10 service charge since January on my savings account. WFT. I call the 1-800 number and talk to an insanely polite fellow who can't do anything but tell me that the reason for the service charge is because the balance on my account had dropped below the minimum requirement. For the record, this is an upgraded version of a regular free bank account. I realize that it is normal for most savings accounts to require a minimum balance, but I didn't know the minimum balance on this new account would different from the other not-so-super-duper first account. I signed up for this upgraded version last year after the banker at my local branch said to me, when I had come in just to make a deposit, "Oh, it looks like you're balance is large enough that you qualify for our Super Duper Free Savings, would you like to sign up?" After talking it over with him--the deal was, my interest rate earned would go up and there would be no monthly fee--and being assured that if my balance drops down below the original required balance that was needed to qualify for the account, NOTHING would happen/change--I switched to the new Super Duper account. So, what I'm saying is, a) switching to this new account was NOT even my idea and b) I was not told that the minimum balance required for this account is 10 times that required for the most basic account that I had before. And, to top it off, the "double your interest" promise, while technically true, is so small as to be inconsequential: a total interest rate of a whopping 0.5% APR... NOT 5%, but 0.5%. My total interest earned on this account year-to-date is like $8 bucks. So, I've been charged $10 bucks a month service charge since Jan just so I could rake in $8 bucks in a WHOLE YEAR? Why would anyone in their right mind, who had been given all the information, sign up for this account?

My argument is, no one would, including me. So, after talking to Mr. Polite on the phone I'm told that I have to go to the branch to get this sorted out. Over my lunch hour I go to the branch near my office and they tell me that I'll have to speak to the branch manager at the location where I started the account. They take my phone number. Someone from the other branch does indeed return my call about an hour later, but she's only the assistant manager and the actual manager will have to call me back tomorrow. I tell her, as I told the people at the other branch and Mr. Polite on the phone, that until this point I've been really happy with this bank. I've recommended them to many people. I told all the bank people I spoke to today that "I love you guys, and I'd like to continue to love you, but right now I feel like I've been misled."

So, we'll see what happens. I mean, I realize I'm not Bill Gates here, but I did say that what they needed to do to make me happy would be to refund the service charges since January. If they do that, I'll go back to loving and recommending them. If they don't, I'll take my not-so-much-like-Bill-Gates account somewhere else. But, I totally hope I don't have to do that. Beyond the obvious headache of changing all my automatic banking info will everyone who bills me for stuff on a monthly basis, I would like to also be able to continue to believe that not everyone and everything in the world is completely evil. Com'on, Bank, prove me wrong, please?

One lesson learned already: if it was the bank's idea, it probably isn't a good one.

Also, check out a new garden post at my garden blog.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Get Your Bloglines Button Ready

Hey blog people. This is a very short note to let you know that I have decided to create an additional blog where I will be posting all my gardening antics. Here it is. There are not posts as of right now, but I should get started on that shortly. Yay. Awesome! And happy Friday to everyone!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

2 Slightly Bitchy Letters (I really am a nice person, I swear)

Dear dogs and cats who live with me-- Ok... I dunno who started it or even who the participants were, but to whoever got the idea to start a pee-a-thon on the basement floor--STOP IT! There's only so much of going-downstairs-at-midnight-to-water-my-plants-before-going-to-bed-to-find-multiple-puddles-of-bodiyly fluids that I can take. Sure, I like my share of who-done-it mystery novels, but no, having to stick my finger in a puddle and then smell my finger in order to figure out if its pee or throw up isn't anything like Clue. I know that a rivalry seems to have developed between cats and dogs as to who gets to sit on our laps during nighttime TV watching time, but have things really gotten to the point where species dominance has to be proven through urine? Good thing for you that you're all so freak'n cute (and that you chose the easier-to-clean tile floor) for your showdown. I shall let you live, this time...

Dear people who work at the Dunkin' Donuts near my house- I know your job is probably not all that fun. I'm sure you don't get paid enough to sustain a household in the Chicago area. So, I'm sorry for having to be another pain in your ass, but, seriously people, HOW HARD IS IT TO GET MY ORDER RIGHT? I know you're not new to this job--I've seen the same crew of people there for the past like.. six months at least. I know I have to be all difficult and ask for my sandwich w/o the meat on it and then I also have to be all difficult and not need a beverage... Yes, no meat, no beverage, thanks. But, for the sake of all that is holy, how difficult is it to remember my order between the moment I say it and the moment your finger is hovering over the register to enter it in... and is it really that hard to believe that I don't want sausage AND that I made my own tea at home? I've already learned that going through the drive-thru is completely futile. Apparently it is necessary for me to stand in front of you so that we can have a whole conversation about my order (since you seem to need a whole conversation's worth of explanation in order to understand the concept of "without the meat") and so that I can stand there and correct you when in inevitably select the wrong item on the register (no, not the number 4, because I just want the sandwich, no drink). And , of course I must come inside so that I can stand in front of you and double check that what I orderd is what you've just given me in the bag before I actually leave. blah.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

List 'O Crap

Ok, VBGirl, I'll bite:

1. What is your occupation? urban planner, transit planning specifically

2. What color are your socks right now? black with yellow toes

3. What are you listening to right now? NPR

4. What is the last thing you ate? am currently right now at this very moment eating left over stir fry from last night.. not bad

5. Can you drive stick shift? can't drive at all

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? PURPLE

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? ummmm... my oldest friend from 2nd grade, H

8. What’s your favorite yoga pose? the one where I get the lay down at the end and go to sleep.... and Dancing Sheba (spl?)

9. How old are you today? 28 (holy crap)

10. Favorite drink? tea... all sorts.. hot cold caffene green herbal etc

11. What is your favorite sport to watch? ummmmmm ummmm ummmmm hmmmmmmm I guess Baseball

12. Have you ever dyed your hair? nope (mostly because I'd have to bleach it first cuz its so dark and I don't have the balls for that)

13. Pets? 2 cats 2 dogs and one freak'n huge fish

14. Favorite cake? OMG CAKE!!!!! Oh, how I love cake... mostly the sheet-birthday-cake variety.. any flavor is fine

15. Last movie you saw? ummm.. like, at the theater? U2 3D

16. Favorite day of the year? I'm not sure that I have a one favorite day, but I do like x-mas day quite a lot (yay food, gifts, and hanging with family)

17. How do you vent anger? talk about it, make grumpy sounds, pick my fingernails, CRY

18. What was your favorite toy as a child? I had a million stuffed animals and I think I was equally obsessed with all of them

19. Autumn or spring? I love them both, but its April right now so my answer today is Spring!

20. Hugs or kisses? mostly hugs

21. Cherry or blueberry? blueberries pretty much all the time, but dried cherries are also awesome

22. Living arrangements? I live in a modest house that I love with my hubby and our aforementioned beasts

23. Last time you cried? Um, I think a couple months ago with I got chewed out over the phone at work by someone I didn't even know

24. What is on the floor of your closet? Ummm... nothing is actually supposed to be there, but you probably would find animal hair and sometimes two sleeping kitties

25. Who is the friend you’ve had the longest? H

26. Favorite smell? ummmmmm Freedom? Yeah, I have no idea... baked goods is pretty nice though... and Chocolate... here is Chicago we have this weird phenomena where the streets smell like chocolate pretty regularly (despite the EPA)

27. Who or what inspires you? people who work to make a difference in the world (I'll agree with VBGirl here)

28. What are you afraid of? being a failure at my job and losing my loved ones

29. Hamburgers? VEGGIE BURGERS YAY!

30. Favorite car? public transit! haha... my feet? (I like to walk)... my bike? all of them! Ok... and our pickup truck is ok too. :)

31. Number of keys on your key ring? 6- 2 work related, 4 house related

32. How many years at your current job? almost two years (20 months)... but i'm not counting .... ok yes I am

33. Favorite day of the week? Saturday

34. How many countries have you lived in? just the US... well ok I did "live" in the UK while studying abroad for four months.. does that count?

35. Dream job? one where i can play outside, hang with my hubby and friends, and sleep LOL... can someone please arrange that?

Thanks for reading. :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring! OMG!

Finally, finally, FINALLY. Dare I speak to soon, but I must report that spring has FINALLY sprung here in Chi-town. We have bulbs coming up everywhere in the yard. Since this is the first spring that we've lived in the house, we don't know where the bulbs are planted or what they even are as they emerge from the soil. Its also been about two weeks since we've had any snow, which is awesome! In honor of the lovely weather we had over the weekend, Nick and I spent pretty much all weekend working in the yard. Some people might call it chores or yard work, but we call it a weekend of fun! We also discovered a really awesome (and cheap) authentic taco place near the house. They taste especially good after a day of working on the yard. We also cleaned up the sunroom, which involved cleaning out five months of mud and grime. Sitting in the sunroom with the windows open listening to the birds and the water fountain outside feels like being on vacation. Yep, a truly great weekend.

What's that you say? Its supposed to be like twenty degrees cooler next weekend? Booooo!!! Hissssss!!!! *sigh* Well, I guess I'll just have to deal.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Was It The Leg Hair?

So, you guys, I have a secret... well I guess its only a secret to my current employer. I had a job interview yesterday! Don't get too excited though. The exclamation point there is only to honor the amount of stress I felt about going to the interview and having to make up a story (I used the old "have a doctors appointment excuse)to tell my current job. So, yeah, I can't tell you that I have a new job about why I was leaving two hours early, but I can tell you that the interview was actually a lot of fun (despite having three people in there interviewing me--I've never had that happen before). The job is a market research position related to urban planning. I have a good foundation in research methods, but if they want an expert in market research, they probably wont pick me. So, yeah, I'd be surprised if I get an offer. I'll let you know when I know.... but don't hold your breath.

But yeah, funny story... So I'm sitting there in the lobby of the building (I arrived about half an hour early so that I could go into the public restroom on the first floor and change from my kinda icky cord pants into my suit skirt... I didn't want to show up at my current job dressed in my suit cuz that would have been hard to explain considering my usual slightly hobo-meets-business-casual look... Anyway, I change into my skirt and take off my dress socks and put on the beige-ish panty hose I brought from home. I had tried them on that morning to make sure there wasn't a run in them and everything seemed good. So, I get dressed... skirt, hose, high heels, brush my hair, eat an breath mint... am sitting in the lobby thinking about what I want to say during the interview and THAT's when I NOTICED that I had completely forgotten to shave my legs (ok: here's a confession: I don't shave my legs at all during the winter... ). Apparently my lack of shaving over the past few months had led me to completely forget that the concept of leg shaving even exists or that leg hair (at least, the big course dark kind I have) will show through panty hose. So, there I am, with my spiffy suit and shoes and ANKLE HAIR showing through my hose. ACK! What to do , what to do? I call Nick. Using the wonderful powers of google he tells me that there's a Walgreens three-ish blocks away. I could go there and buy something more opaque. But, I have like fifteen minutes until my interview and I don't think I can make it. Nick and I have a debate about how much leg hair would affect my chances of making a good impression/getting the job. We decide it could go either way. So, I compromise and decide to go to the 7 Eleven next door to see if they have some hose.. if they do then I'll get 'em and hope they're better than what I have currently, but if they don't, I'll just suck it up and try to forget about it. So, I go next door... all I see is food... doughnuts, sandwitches, coffee, sodas, and then finally at the very back of the store I see the little squat shelf that has toothpaste, deodorant, and (THANK YOU GOD!) two packages of panty hose--one black size "extra long" and one baige of size "regular". Having no indication of the thicknes sor opacity of the baige ones, I go for the black, even though the extra long size may not fit. I take the package up to the counter and the guy at the register says "do we sell these here?" Yes, yes you do... for $6 for a package of ONE pair of hose that probably wont last more than one wearing. Yep. Whatever, I gladly paid, went back to the building where my interview was, went into the bathroom again (I think the security desk people are going to get suspicious if I keep coming out of the bathroom in a different outfit), change into the black pair. YAY! They fit! AND do a much better job of hiding the hair. Yay! Now I could concentrate on the interview. Fwew! Thank you 7 Eleven!

Sidenote: I don't want you guys to think I'm a body hair natzi (well.. I guess the fact that I admitted not shaving at all during the winter probably precludes me from that). Shave or don't shave... its all cool. For those (women) who can embrace their natural hairiness, more power to you (although, if you're blond, you totally have an UNFAIR advantage! j/k). And for that person I know (and you know who you are) who is lucky enough to just naturally have like, nearly zero, armpit hair, you SUCK! j/k again.

Oh, yeah, I should probably also mention that the interview took place at a conference table, so none of my interviewers saw my legs, except for the 5 seconds it took me to come in the room and sit down. Much ado about nothing? Maybe.

Ok... thanks for reading.. sorry of this was TMI. :)