Sunday, March 30, 2008

My First Fun Monday!

Anyone with a blog can participate in a Fun Monday, so if you’re a blogger, please feel free to join the group. Each week a host blogger picks a topic, and all the participants post their response on Monday. This week’s Fun Monday is hosted by Robin @ Pensieve, and the topic is…

Quotable quotes and words that inspire

I love quotes. I can actually sit and read books of just quotes. Of course, I also *taught* myself French when I was eight years old by going through the dictionary and picking out all the words that were derived from that language. I think I made it through "D". Here are a few of my favorites:

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
Winston Churchill – I really want to email this every morning to most of the people I work with.

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”
Eleanor Roosevelt – A great writer with a delightful sense of humor

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.”
Eleanor Roosevelt again – Words to live by.

“Obviously I faced the possibility of not returning when first I considered going. Once faced and settled there really wasn't any good reason to refer to it.”
Amelia Earhart – First on my list of ten people to invite to dinner if I could invite anyone in history. I was pleased to find this quote from her because it is exactly how I feel every time I get on an airplane, which I have to do tomorrow.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
Douglas Adams– Nobody else puts it quite so well.

“Tuesday – Same &%^$ as Monday, without the reputation”
KJAQ FM - From my commute last week.

Now go and check out the rest of the Fun Monday entries from the following participants:

Janet, From the Planet of Janet
Swampwitch, Anecdotes, Antidotes & Anodes
Lisa, Lisa's Chaos
Jo, This is Jo Beaufoix...
Patience, Patience-Please
ChrisB, Ms Cellania
Ellen, The Happy Wonderer
Kaytabug, Lady K
Swampangel65, A Florida Journal
Mariposa, Mariposa's TalesAOJ & The Lurchers
Carrie, Carrie & the Koehmstedts
Lisa, The Food Snob
Janjanmom, All in a Day's Work
Jan, The Prytz Family
Karina, Candid Karina
Celeste, Ragracers
Sandy, Myanderings
Alison, RDH Mom
Jenn, Simply Jenn
Pamela, The Dust Will Wait
Alix, DC Days
Deb, Deb's Buzz (One Crazy Stitcher)
Molly, Return of the White Robin
Junebug, God Put a Smile on My Face
Kim, Rainy Day Diamonds
Peculiar, How Do We Get There From Here ** FIRST FUN MONDAY! :)
Jenn V., Jenn's Inklings
Joy T., A Spot of T
Nikki, My Husband Calls Me Weird
Rotten Correspondent, Confessions of a Rotten Correspondent
Sauntering Soul
Jientje, Heaven in Belgium
Tiggerlane, The Neophyte Blogger
Beth, The First of Six
Rose, Rose's Garden ** FIRST FUN MONDAY, new blogger & Karina's mom! :)
Hootin' Anni, Hootin' Anni's
Melanie, Our Happy Happenings
Sayre, SayreSmiles
Jenn, Jenn and the City (FIRST FUN MONDAY!!)
Nutso, House of the Purple Worms

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday, The Sequel

Movies I can’t watch because…

…bad things happen to a dog.

I can generally tolerate some violence in movies and literature, but Leave The Dogs alone.

Here I am holed up in the bedroom on my laptop because Nick and Rob are watching I Am Legend. And while I hold Will Smith right up there with John Cusack as a “must watch” actor, I knew something bad is going to happen to Sam, the German Shepherd after watching for about five minutes. Mind you, I'm NOT watching, so I Don't Know That For Sure. But I am sure. And I can’t stand it. Part of it is the curse of the Writer's Instinct. Because I KNOW that if I were writing that screenplay, I'd kill off the dog to create personal conflict. It sucks to not be able to watch movies or read books like a normal person.

To the topic at hand, I couldn’t read Sounder either. Never even cracked the pages of Where The Red Fern Grows. Wouldn’t even attempt to sit through Old Yeller.

The Butterfly Effect drove me nuts. I did kind of like reading The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be though. But I quit reading the Little House on the Prairie series for months when I was a kid when Jack the Brindle Bulldog died in By The Shores of Silver Lake. I think that was the one book in the series I didn’t own – I had the rest, but that one I visited in the school library.

Heck, I didn’t really like 101 Dalmatians – I worried about Cruella the whole way through. Don’t get me started on Turner and Hooch.

Am I too sensitive? Probably so. Would I change myself? Nope. This sort of sensitivity is part of the definition of Jenn. So I’m gonna watch Lady and the Tramp.

PS. Stay tuned for my FUN MONDAY debut…

Silly Saturday

I’m sitting on the couch with the Nike again. A Saturday morning with no particular agenda is rare for me. I’m supposed to be cleaning the spare room. I keep twitching my nose, like Samantha in Bewitched, but so far the room still looks like Dorothy’s house post-tornado.

To further avoid getting my fanny off the futon, I thought of a silly game to play with my two loyal readers (thanks Mom). Actually, from the emails I get, I suspect there are many more than that.

Board games are popular here. Last night we played Balderdash, which is a word game where you make up definitions. The game offers a lot of great words no one has heard of, and their real definitions. I’m going to pick a word each Saturday, and use it in a blog sometime during the week.

Here’s the game. The first person to post a comment after I use the word of the week in the blog gets a free trip to Hawaii.

Ha! Got your attention, didn’t I? I had my fingers crossed when I typed that so it doesn’t count. (Try typing with your fingers crossed, takes about an hour to get through the sentence).

Seriously, the first person to post a comment on the weekday blog containing Saturday’s word can give me the next days writing assignment. I’ll tackle whatever the heck you want me to. A N Y T H I N G. Okay, yes that’s scary. But let’s try it.

The word this week is….drum roll….pulling the card out of the box at random….

Woppitzer (waw-pit-zurr): Gambling term for a spectator who not only has bad breath and body odor but comments on the game.

Really. I can’t make that up. And how the &$%#@ am I going to figure out how to use that in a blog?

I think I’m going to go clean the spare room. It’ll be easier than this.

Friday, March 28, 2008

For The Nike

A conversation at my house ten years ago:

“I want to get a puppy”.

“I don’t want a puppy”.

“Tough, I’m getting a puppy anyway”.

That puppy represented my first insistence that I be allowed to be myself. That puppy became my best friend and joy at the bleakest hour of my life. That puppy is an old geezer now. He’s asleep beside me, under a fleecy blankie on the futon. His favorite spot. Beside me, not the futon. The old geezer would be happy in an igloo if he was beside me.

The last ten years have been hard on the Nike. I did not bring him into an easy world. The first five years he helped me mentally escape a life I did not love. The next five years he helped me physically and emotionally escape that life and with unwaivering loyalty he supported my lame attempts to start a new one. That puppy has lived in more locations than I like to count. I’ve made mistakes in his care that have nearly cost him his life more than once. And yet his favorite place in the world is right here, next to me, under his blankie. Actually, it’s my blankie, but I am privileged to share it with him.

A conversation at my house about ten weeks ago:

“I want to get a puppy”.

“A puppy”?

“Yes, Nike needs a friend and there’s one available in Minnesota. I can check her out at the National in April and bring her home then if I like her”.

“I like dogs. I suppose we’d better get the yard fenced then.”

It goes without saying that Tara will have a much better life than the Nike. But he’s laying here, twitching his toes in dreamland, and I think he is happy.

A conversation at my house this morning:

Rob - “By the way, we’re taking care of Taz (Pomeranian) for the weekend.”

Me – “Good to know”.

Our household environment is like that. Kids and dogs come and go. People are in and out. The cats stalk the fish. Stan stalks the Nike. Nike sleeps with Nick. He is learning that I am not the only person in the world that will take care of him. Others feed him, walk him, take him to the grocery store. He is never alone, there is always at least a cat for company. And soon, hopefully, there will be Tara to terrorize him.

We are happy here.

J

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blog, Interrupted

I had some great ideas for today’s blog. Really I did. But today finds me a little discombobulated on two counts.

Count One: I’m wearing BLUE socks. How does one get up and dress in olive-green corduroy pants, oatmeal sweater, and brown shoes and manage not to notice blue socks until one is on the train? ARRRGHHH. I hope this is not an omen for the day. The fashion police will be after me for sure. Good thing I don’t work for Nordstrom or I’d likely get sent home. My office will probably just nominate me for “What Not To Wear”. Come to think though, then I’d get $5 grand and a free trip to New York. Maybe I should wear blue socks more often!

Count Two: My hair smells funny. Funny probably is the wrong word. I just got it cut on Tuesday and Lisa gave me new hair “stuff” to put in it. Very expensive new hair “stuff”. Generally, I like the new hair “stuff”. And I think that most people would appreciate the fragrance. To me it smells like a nurse log. It took me all day yesterday to figure out why I was having flashbacks to my childhood, playing in the woods on our property. For those of you who didn’t grow up in Washington, or slept in your 8th grade ecology class, a nurse log is a fallen old growth timber or stump that has decayed to the point where it becomes a fertile base for ferns, moss, mushrooms, etc. They also make great forts and hiding spots if you’re ten years old, and you don’t mind sharing space with frogs, salamanders, and the occasional nesting bird or snake. Nurse logs distinctly smell of moisture, moss, dirt and usually cedar. It’s actually not an unattractive odor and I can see why someone at Aveda thought it would be an excellent scent for their Confixor Hair Gel.

However, for me, the smell makes me compulsively check my fingernails for dirt, and I can’t resist the urge to check and see if I have sticks caught in my hair. Those are minor annoyances though, compared to the overwhelming desire to shift my file cabinet and stack up reams of paper around my desk to make a fortress from which to attack my cubie neighbors.

At least they probably won’t notice my socks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

…Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

Picture this.

You’re a thief. You want some cash. You cast your mind about your neighborhood to find a likely source of ready moolah.

You settle on the corner muffler shop. Because everyone knows a muffler shop keeps more cash on hand then say, the liquor store, or AM/PM.

So, at 8am, right after opening time, you stroll in to the corner muffler shop. The employees are really impressed with your cool gun. However, no matter how nicely you ask, they won’t open the safe. They can’t, because only the manager has the combo. Like all good managers, the main muffler man hasn’t bothered to show up yet.

Because you are a creative problem-solver (hey, you figured out an easy way to get cash, didn’t you?), you apply your brain to this conundrum.

You could walk away and get a job.

You could go try AM/PM.

Or, you could leave your cell phone number with the employees and go home and get some breakfast. If you say “please” and “thank you”, they will surely call you when the manager arrives.

Yeah, that’ll work!

I sincerely hope that you look good in orange.

(My take on the morning news – Chicago, IL)

J

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stop!

One of the few driving obstacles in my daily commute is a rather busy four-way stop in South Lake Stevens. A common traffic phenomenon. However, at 6:50 a.m. the combination of under-caffeination and the mysterious desperation of most suburbanites to get to work on time give it Sudoku-like complexity. It is always YOUR turn to go, regardless of who you are and what order you happened to arrive at the intersection. Sometimes one can witness an entire peace treaty being negotiated between two drivers who just want to turn left. We need to send these folks to the Middle East.

Stop takes on a whole new meaning in the railroad world. The Sounder train routinely breezes past red lights on the tracks between Everett and Seattle. This doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for those of us accustomed to the automobile world. I felt a little better after noting that railroad-speaking navigators appear to make use of metal stop flags that are actually blue. The disturbing part about the blue stop flags is that their battered and mangled bodies litter the tracks like road kill. Clearly, “stop” is a relative term to a train.

Other phrases must also have different meanings along the tracks. One doesn’t like to admit to cultural ignorance, but some of the terms stenciled onto train cars leave me wondering. Do they just mean something different, or does this sub-section of society have a really twisted sense of humor? I’m talking about officially sanctioned notices, not graffiti. I understand the graffiti.

“SECURE ALL CHAINS”

Huh? With what? Don’t you use chains to secure things? What do you use to secure the chains? More chains? What do you secure those chains with? Rob says this train of thought is a “chain reaction”.

“DO NOT HAMMER ON CAR”

Do we really need to tell the railroad employees not to hammer on the cars? Do people habitually come round the trains with hammers and pound on the sides to see what will happen? Is anyone really stupid enough to pulverize the side of a train car that also clearly states “SODIUM HYDROCHLORIDE” or “LIQUID CARBON DIOXIDE”?

“DO NOT HUMP”

Right. I really want someone to explain this to me. Or maybe not.

“DO NOT APPLY VIBRATOR TO ANY PART OF BODY”

I am NOT making this up. Perhaps cultural ignorance is not a bad thing.

So, I’m pretty sure that the employees of Burlington Northern are not the right people to send to the Middle East for conflict resolution. On the other hand, they’re probably really good at Sudoku.

J

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Problem With A Good Hair Day

Happy Easter Monday!

If I was living my fantasy life in Tuscany, Easter Monday would be a holiday and I’d not be on the train going to work. Since the closest I’m getting to Italy these days is my Italian-themed kitchen, here I am on Sounder 1700, the 7:12 to King Street. Eminem is on my IPod, insisting that I can do anything I put my mind to.

So I’m putting my mind to writing something funny. But life has been pretty quiet, and I am content with the world. The problem with that is that conflict and adversity breed creativity. Being happy in a smoothly functioning universe does not make for interesting reading material. Writers are supposed to be tormented souls, caught up in the struggle to become themselves or plagued by circumstances beyond their control.

Me, not so much.

I can’t even complain about the weather this morning, it’s beautiful. Can I stress about the fact that I have nothing to stress about? I got up on time, found clothes without having to iron, managed to have a reasonably good hair day, and left the house on time. I remembered to pack breakfast, I beat the school buses on 20th Avenue, made it across the trestle at the speed limit, and hit green lights in Everett. Got to the train at 7:02. Nothing interesting happening there. My fellow commuters are all working or asleep. Boring.

I guess I could do cartwheels in the aisle. That’d wake everybody up, for sure. Except I’m wearing a skirt today. Not good. I could sing aloud to the IPod. That’s a good one. Let’s see what the residents of Car # 3 think of Cyndi Lauper.

All I get for that effort is polite disregard. My seatmate wakes up and raises an eyebrow at me.

Fine. Be that way. Apparently the key to Cyndi Lauper is to have an Easter Egg hair day. I’m going to go dye mine pink.

J

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dialog With A Daffodil

I forgot my coat today. It’s warm and happy on its padded pale blue hanger in my closet. My scarves are there too, in the scarf bag. Leaving my outerwear at home was probably not a good choice – it’s darn cold today, and the skies are ominous.

As usual, the Spring memo didn’t make it to Washington. For some reason, however, we who live here celebrate the equinox on schedule without regard for the actual weather conditions. The stores have brilliant displays of spring flowers, all of which will promptly commit suicide upon their arrival in your yard. Or at least they do in mine. Each year I hopefully experiment with a container garden of primroses, cyclamen, and unknown other “spring” plants, optimistic that they will have been given a strong enough dose of Prozac to get by. Probably I should just get them an electric blanket. Hope springs eternal.

As part of the Spring ritual, a number of individuals gathered on Seattle streets yesterday to hand out daffodils to passers-by. Never mind that they all had to wear gloves and longjohns to prevent frostbite. I still got a big smile and a “Happy Spring” when presented with a pair of cheerful flowers as I leaned into the wind on my way to the bus.

Huddled at the bus stop, I watched my fellow commuters shiver their way up Fourth Avenue. Most of them were also carrying daffodils, brilliant patches of yellow in an otherwise grey urban scene. For most, stopping for a spring flower on a cold miserable day doesn’t seem to have much impact. One woman though, approaches with an entire bouquet in her arms, chatting happily to the daffodils.

Having spent four months working downtown, I no longer find it odd when folks talk to inanimate objects. This woman was clearly getting the intended joy and inspiration from her gift. I contemplate my own daffodils. They are indeed beautiful, and they smell nice. What if I talked to them? Would they answer? Would they tell me to buck up and quit complaining about the weather and appreciate my life? Or would they just have a story about being brutally ripped from the soil and stored in a refrigerated truck until they ended up stuck in my commuter bag in the wind.

I didn’t find out. The next person approaching was a bedraggled and grubby fellow carrying an old backpack stuffed to the bursting point with his worldly possessions. He was carrying two daffodils, regarding them with confusion. As he got closer, he looked up and started to smile. Without a word he walked over and gave me a big smile, handed me his flowers, then continued on his way down the street.

Happy Spring! (But don’t forget your coat)

Amaze and Amuse

J

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Some Days Are Like That…

LJ is having one of THOSE days. I often envy the Nike and the cats. After all, what have they got to do? They sleep when they want, food gets served up twice a day on schedule, and as far as I know they don’t lay awake worrying about anything.

But today, LJ is having one of THOSE days. First, it wasn’t his fault that he was on the kitchen counter this morning at precisely 5:40 a.m. I’m sure he had a perfectly legitimate reason for being there. Clearly there was some sort of important cat business to be attended to. However, LJ failed to consider one important detail in his counter-surfing plan. At 5:40 a.m. my coffee pot roars to life. And it doesn’t just start to politely stream hot water through the filter. My coffee pot, a Christmas gift from Rob, has a built-in coffee bean grinder. Its first task is to pulverize the beans into fine powder.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a cat in the midst of a stealthy prowl in forbidden territory. I’m sure LJ was quite pleased with himself for pulling off a successful counter reconnoissance. Then, out of the darkness behind you, the horrific sound of a cat-eating monster, intent on chewing you up with whirling steel teeth.

I’m also sure that LJ didn’t intentionally knock over the bottle of olive oil. I’m sure that in the frantic moments when Lives # 1 through 8 were flashing before his eyes he just didn’t see the olive oil or the salt shaker or the pepper grinder. Nope, I’m sure he just started running and didn’t stop until he arrived safely under our bed.

I missed all this – I got out of the shower and went to get my coffee per normal. Fortunately for me, the kitchen chaos woke Rob, and he got the joy of clearing up after LJs attempt to imitate Rachael Ray.

One of the great things about the forced kitchen remodel is that we have a new fridge. It’s beautiful, stainless steel, side by side doors, and water and ice dispenser in the freezer door. We didn’t have any of that before. The new fridge arrived on Tuesday, and last night Rob plumbed the water and ice. In a previous life, I had one of these refrigerators, and a dog that learned how to dispense her own ice. The ice machine was her friend. Nike loves ice too, but hasn’t learned to get it himself. Nowadays, refrigerators come with a locking setting for the very purpose of stopping dogs and two-year olds from turning your kitchen floor into the North Atlantic in April.

So while I was getting my coffee, the cats ventured out looking for the aforementioned regularly scheduled breakfast. Unfortunately for LJ, he chose to wait in front of the refrigerator. And at that particular moment, a horrible grinding noise, another cat-eating monster, intent on chewing him up with whirling steel teeth. Because overnight the ice machine froze up its water store and so now it’s doing its thing – making ice. And dropping the cubes into an empty plastic storage tub in the freezer. LJ remembered he’d already used up a life this morning and high-tailed it for the bedroom again.

He may still be in there. I don’t know. He’s having one of THOSE days. I’m glad I’m not a cat. Besides, their food is nasty. I’m going to Starbucks and getting a scone.

Find amazing and amusing in your day!

J

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Psnyckers Psychology

Good Morning World – it’s me, Jennifer.

Today’s topic – vending machines. Very ordinary, everyday objects. Handy for a snack or beverage on the go. Not really a deep subject, you’d think.

Try sitting by one on a Washington State Ferry during rush hour.

First off, there’s a whole insight into mood and personality to be observed by watching someone’s reaction when the machine stubbornly refuses to yield the requested snack. You have the “shrug and walk away person”, who clearly wasn’t that hungry to begin with. Then there’s the poor soul with anger management issues who somehow believes that thumping, kicking, and/or shaking the machine will convince it to fork over lunch. Some people actually discuss their disappointment with the machine, as though it will listen to the voice of reason, “aw, c’mon, that was my last $1.25”. Then there those obsessed, compulsive sorts who attempt to out-wit the evil machine by simply shelling out for the same item a second time, figuring that the process will dislodge the original stuck bag of chips and also dispense a second bag. Congratulations! You’ve just spent $2.50 for two 12 oz bags of Chili Cheese Fritos!

Also entertaining is to play “Guess the Goodie”. The ferry vending machines are actually better stocked than most 7-11 convenience stores. Conveniently, labels display the health benefits of various selections. One might choose among “low-fat” (pretzels), “low-carb” (beef jerky), or “no sugar” (peanuts). Pop-tarts, gummy bears, a variety of cookies, you name it, it’s all there. The well-dressed business man (my guess - pretzels) elects a plain Hershey bar. No imagination whatsoever there. The young fellow with longish hair and a backpack (my guess - trail mix) goes for Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion chips. A young girl (Junior Mints) wants Garden Salsa Sun Chips, which promptly get stuck and refuse to fall. She chooses to buy another bag, which pushes out the first bag but doesn’t give her the second. Great. $2.50 for one bag of chips. She spends the rest of the ride trying to get that second bag. As we dock, she gives the machine a last thump and is finally rewarded as the machine reluctantly gives up the prize.

The vending machine at my work is no less evil. Periodically, and totally at random, it will ignore the fact that I’ve clearly keyed in selection “D-4” (trail mix), and it spits out something annoyingly full of fat and sugar, like a Snickers bar. The Snickers hits the glass and taunts me for a moment before gleefully sliding into the drawer. Fortunately, a universal truth about health insurance companies is that you can always find someone having an “I need chocolate” day.

Earlier this week I learned that Japanese vending machines dispense a variety of goods including beer, umbrellas, and dry ice. I fully grasp beer and umbrellas. Good ideas that I fully support. But dry ice? I had to look that one up. (howstuffworks.com) Apparently, dry ice is available to keep ones groceries cold on the commute home. Okay, I can see that, I guess. But how does one react when ones dry ice gets stuck in the vending machine? Does one kick it, reason with it, or just buy another dry ice? And then what do you do with the second dry ice? How much does dry ice cost in a Japanese vending machine? The mental image here is of a Japanese person with an umbrella and a grocery bag of fish, vegetables, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream, kicking a Tokyo vending machine.

On that note, the train has made it to Seattle, and I haven’t had breakfast yet. I think I’ll go get a Milky Way.

Remember to find something amazing in your day.

Jenn

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Have You Seen Me?

Hello Everyone!

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I have tons of really fabulous excuses though! Here are the top ten.

1. A nasty flu bug caught up with me and took me out for almost a week.
2. Remodeling a kitchen saps all your time and energy
3. The hard drive in my laptop flipped a chip.
4. I’m spending way too much time surfing Nordstrom.com
5. I cut out caffeine and refined sugar and I’m moving in ssslllooowww motion.
6. It’s too dang cold. I’m tired of winter, my fingers are freezing and I can’t type.
7. The cats stole my laptop mouse and lost the battery cover. Another great use for duct tape!
8. It’s a busy time at work and it’s exhausting. It’s fun and interesting, but I’m tired!
9. Nike ate my homework.
10. I’m afraid that I’ve set the bar too high for myself and I won’t be clever and funny enough if I write more, and I’ll be disappointed.

Hmm. As usual, excuses lose their significance when you write them down and take ownership of them. And, while Nike loves to eat, homework and writing projects have never been on his diet. Although, last night he opened the package of paint rollers and chased them around the living room. Maybe I should give him a canvas and some brushes. I could make a fortune selling whippet art.

Back to the topic at hand, I find that my fan club is complaining about the lack of blog updates. Oh the pressure!!!!

So before someone files a missing person report and I see my photo on the back of a milk carton, here’s the deal. I like to write. It’s kind of my thing. So I’m going to try to use my morning train time to update the blog. However, y’all have to have patience on my bad hair days when I don’t have anything charming and witty to convey.

Sound like a plan? I think tomorrow I may have something to say about vending machines. Stay tuned.

J
There was an error in this gadget

Jenn and the City

An Award

An Award
Thanks Patience!

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Map

Counter