Thursday, May 21, 2009

Things Learned...

What do you know about that? You learn something new every day….

I think the funniest one is when Jeff Foxworthy says, “You learn a lot from your kids – like just a few days ago I learned you can get three boxes of raisins into the cassette player of a jeep. I didn’t know that! Last month we learned you can get goldfish out of an aquarium using a dustbuster…”

Here’s what I’ve learned over the last week or so…

• John R. Buchtel was the founder of Buchtel College (now the University of Akron). I had always heard the word 'Buchtel' kicked around while living in Northeast Ohio. Until now I had no idea what it referred to.

• what a banjolele is: According to Wikipedia:
The banjolele (brand name; sometimes banjo ukulele or banjo uke) is a four-stringed musical instrument with a small banjo-type body and a fretted ukulele neck. "Banjolele," sometimes also spelled "banjelele" or "banjulele" is a generic nickname given to the instrument, which was derived from the 'banjulele-banjo,' introduced by Alvin D. Keech in 1917.

• not to cover a pie too soon or it will get soggy (unfortunately we learned the hard way, but the pie was still quite tasty!

• that Jamie Lee Curtis is married to Christopher Guest (saw her in the audience of a recent concert featuring her husband).

• Ducks can have as many as 23 babies (5-8 is normal). The reason I know this is my co-worker recently showed me a newspaper clipping with a picture of the proud parents and their rather large gaggle. I assume all 23 were theirs as they were in an enclosed area safe from predators (other than nosy teenagers and adults). Incidentally, the ducks were in a courtyard at a school in rural Plain City, Ohio and the students aren’t allowed to use the courtyard as long as the ducks are residing there.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Necessities vs. Luxuries

It’s kind of a coincidence that today is the day we get our Tempur-pedic mattress delivered (somewhat of a luxury, but that too is debatable) and that on MSN there was a slide show debating Necessity vs. Luxury of several common household items. Here’s how I weigh in on each:

1) new car – I have yet to buy new, though my husband has a Toyota Prius that’s only a couple years old. I’m not too bothered to buy new if I can get more extras on a used car (like the sun roof on my Ford Focus).

2) dryer – we didn’t have one for the 6 years we lived in England, so I can definitely do without, and most of the time I didn’t miss it. However, when it comes to hanging up lots of socks and underwear, that’s when I definitely prefer a dryer! Also, for softness, you can’t beat the dryer. It’s night and day difference when it comes to things like wash cloths and socks.

3) air conditioning – nice to have on at night time, though a ceiling fan on high usually suffices (but you have to put up with the vibration noise).

4) microwave – a luxury, but something I would definitely miss if I didn’t have it. The only thing I have gone back to stove top cooking is hotdogs (they don’t tend to explode in hot water).

5) television/flat screen TV – a definite luxury. We bought one (a flat screen) last year which is high definition, pretty typical these days. As I don’t watch much TV, I was quite happy with our old one. The nicest thing is ease of moving (not something you do too often though).

6) cable/satellite TV – for how few channels we actually tune into, I wouldn’t miss it that much. Plus, quite a lot of things eventually come out on DVD, so we can always rent those later.

7) personal computer/ high speed internet access – As I use a computer all day at work, I don’t tend to use my laptop at home much, and almost never over the weekend. However, I would miss it if I didn’t have it. Also, a laptop/notebook computer is a luxury, but I much prefer it to a big old clunky PC.

It’s only in the last few years that we’ve switched to broadband and high speed access, and it’s a definite luxury. It’s nice to be able to access e-mail and upload things to the internet without having too much delay (though even that is inevitable).

8) dishwasher – it’s only in the last four or so years my husband and I have had one, and we definitely like it, though realize it’s a luxury. Obviously I can live without it, but would definitely miss it!

9) cell phone – I’ve only had one for about four or so years and only miss it if I don’t have it when I’m out shopping and need to call someone and ask their opinion about something (usually my husband, but sometimes my sister). It’s nice to have in case of an emergency, but I still hate how much people are so fixated on them. I would say they’re almost a necessity, but you don’t need all the bells and whistles they come with these days (like a camera and MP3 player).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pretty dresses

Pretty dresses, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

A little window shopping never hurt anyone...

Shopping Buzz

I suppose I am fairly typical as a woman in that I like to shop (but I actually have at least one friend who doesn’t shop). Sometimes it’s to fill a need (but inevitably I’ll have a look around at one or two “wants);” sometimes it’s out of boredom; other times it may just be a reward. On those few rare occasions that I either find something truly spectacular, or the planets are all properly aligned, I can get a real buzz from shopping.

One of my happiest memories is an afternoon shopping excursion on the day before Good Friday in 1999. I was living in Gloucester, UK and only had to do a half a day of work before I was allowed to have the afternoon off. This was one of those days where it was sunny and unseasonably warm for April; one of those days where you’re happy to be alive. Since my husband probably wouldn’t get the afternoon off, I thought I’d spend the afternoon doing a bit of “spring shopping.”

I don’t remember all the places I visited, though I’m sure I hit a bookstore or two, and probably a few shops that sold kitschy things. However, I do remember spending the bulk of my time in my favorite department store, Debenham’s. It was probably the most upmarket store in Gloucester, and was several stories tall. It was much like my favorite stores back home, the main difference being that the prices were listed in pounds instead of dollars.

Among other things, I remember picking out a new purse – a little tan nylon backpack that could be used on daytime excursions (but not big enough for all my everyday needs). I also chose a cream colored vest with lots of pockets that reminded me of something a professional photographer might wear. I also bought a white v-neck pullover sweatshirt that had “Sport” embroidered in white thread on the front of it. I don’t remember what else I bought, but I’m sure I probably picked out at least one pair of trousers. Out of all those items, I think the only thing I still have is that photographer’s vest. If nothing else, I am keeping it because of all the happy memories attached to it from that day.

I was definitely in a mood to splurge and rarely spent that much money at one time there. The receipt must have come to somewhere between £50 - £100. That was my last stop of the day since it was getting late and my bags were getting a bit cumbersome.

Another shopping “buzz” I remember is the time I was feeling a bit sorry for myself as I had been suffering from gastroenteritis for a week or so (which means you’re on a pretty limited diet until your digestive system can process food properly). It was lunchtime and I was wandering around town (in Bath) as I did most lunch hours. I was in my favorite store, Bloomsbury (known for all its interesting and cool items) and I saw the tiniest little camera. I had seen small cameras before, but those were antiques and in museums. This was an early digital camera (probably only about 1.3 megapixels if that) and I HAD to have it. I think it cost about £40, but I decided to put it on my credit card and hope my husband wouldn’t be too angry afterwards (he wasn’t).

That toy camera provided me with hours of fun and entertainment as I could discreetly slip it out, take a picture, and put it away undetected. I even bought a chain for it and sometimes wore it around my neck. The pictures are only thumbnail size at best, but fun to take, and I still have the camera (they cost about $10 or less today).

Sometimes you can get a buzz while shopping with other people, but never your husband unless he's in the mood to spend too, which is pretty rare! My mom took me shopping on Black Friday last year (the day after Thanksgiving), like she sometimes did when I was still living at home. She thought I could use some new work clothes. I spent best part of a couple hours picking out armfuls of shirts and blouses and styling them for my mom. It was nice to have some one on one time alone with my mom, which is pretty rare these days since I'm married now.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Emily on swing

Emily on swing, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Why it's Sometimes Better to be a Kid

Why I'd Sometimes Prefer to be a Child

10) If you’re lucky, your main concern should just be about getting good grades and not getting grounded.

9) You can maintain optimism about the future after you graduate because you haven’t yet had your soul crushed by a mind-numbing job.

8) After homework and a few usually minor chores, you have gobs and gobs of free time.

7) If you can afford it, you can have it (except for maybe motor vehicles or a pet).

6) You can usually get away with eating a lot more junk food than adults.

5) Someone else usually cooks your meals.

4) Free rent at mom and dad’s.

3) Great toys and gadgets.

2) Cute wardrobe.

1) Two words: SUMMER VACATION.