Seeing It

Today I had a frozen Healthy Choice French Bread Pizza for lunch. (I eat them because first, they're tasty, second, they're a quick 2 minutes in the microwave to fix, and third, because I figure anything with Healthy in the name means that it cancels out the "badness" of eating this stash of girl scout cookies for desert). Anyway, the little pizza comes frozen, and before I put it in the microwave, I arrange all the little pepperoni pieces evenly and in nice straight little pepperoni rows so that each bite has equal amounts of pepperoni in it. Seems logical to me. Not so with the lady who was also in the kitchen waiting for her food to cook.

Nosy lady: Do you always do that?
Me: Do what?
Nosy lady: Arrange your pepperoni in lines like that.
Me: Well, yes. When I pull it out of the box, all the pepperonis are frozen together in a clump. I'm just spreading them out.
Nosy lady: Uh-huh. (Gives me the oh-my-gosh-I've-just-figured-out-you're-insane look).
Me: It makes it taste better.
Nosy lady who obviously thinks I'm crazy: How does putting the pepperoni in a line make it taste better?
Me: It...cooks more evenly. And you get a little pepperoni with every bite.
Nosy lady who obviously thinks I'm crazy and is now backing away slowly: Uh-huh.
Me (calling after her as she flees the room): Well it does!

So I like balance and uniformity. Sue me. It's not like I was measuring out exactly how far apart the pepperonis should be from each other (like I do with my tulip bulbs, come to think of it). And so what if I spent a couple of hours yesterday making sure that the flower beds around the trees in the front yard were exact circles? (They weren't by the way. I think the people who had the house before us just eyeballed it when they dumped the mulch down. Now, thanks to me, a tape measure, and a can of spray paint, they are exactly 140" from the tree on all sides).

At this point, you're either agreeing wholeheartedly with Nosy lady that I'm crazy, or you're nodding along. The way I figure it, you're either one of those people who see it, or you're one who doesn't. To find out which, take this highly scientific test that I just made up off the top of my head:

1) If you've ever walked in to a room and noticed a picture frame was crooked, you're probably one who sees it.

2) If you've ever tried to explain to your spouse that piling more ornaments on one side of the Christmas tree versus the other makes it "heavy", you can see it.

3) If you've ever measured the wall space around a shelf before hanging it up so that it's in the EXACT center, you see it.

4) If you've ever driven by my front yard and noticed (before yesterday, that is) that the round beds under the trees were a little more oval than circle, you see it.

5) If you carry a tape measure and/or level in your pocket, purse, or car because you never know when you'll need it, you can see it.

6) If, however, you are like Tony and don't care that the beds weren't exactly a circle, or that there are two pepperonis overlapping, then you are one who doesn't "see", and chances are you have no idea that people are sitting in your house being totally distracted by your obviously off-centered shelf. And we pity you, you poor pepperoni-clumped fool.

For Women Everywhere!

Today was Administrative Assistant Appreciation Day. (If you are old, you may remember that it used to be called Secretary's Day. Not so anymore. Now, they are Administrative Assistants. And calling them secretaries just proves how old you are). Anyway, my co-workers and I decided to celebrate our Administrative assistant the best way we know how. EAT! So we all brought in a food item for the Annual Administrative Assistant Appreciation Day Breakfast Buffet.

There is a strange phenomenon on my team that would probably shock the feminists more than even calling the Administrative Assistants Secretaries. No one has ever formally acknowledged it, but it's there, every time we have an eating party. The guys on the team will bring ready made items such as juice, or forks, or plates, or Richie Kreme doughnuts. And that is great, because you need all of that stuff. But the women on the team will bring elaborate homemade dishes, like sausage pinwheels, and hash brown casserole, and the best darn banana bread ever. And not only is all the stuff painstakingly homemade with real ingredients, but it shows up in matching pampered chef casserole dishes and covers and warmers and carriers. And it sits out on our buffet area in the Rachel Ray bowls, and Pyrex pans that probably cost more than the national debt. (I would like to claim that I'm kitchen savvy enough to recognize the good stuff, but I only know it because I peaked at its little casserole pan bottom, and in tiny print it said, "Put me down carefully, because I'm the good stuff, and I cost more than the national debt"). And I sigh, because obviously this matching set of Rachel Ray cook wear knows my little secret: I'm a total kitchen Neanderthal. The only reason I know who Rachel Ray is is because she's on that Ritz commercial where the cameramen were eating her crackers. Emeril could walk up and kick me in the kneecaps and I wouldn't be able to identify him. My baking pans are the ones that my grandmother found in a garage sale in 1942 (just old enough to be out of date...not old enough to be classic) and gave to me when I first moved out on my own. That was good in college...everybody had ratty grandma garage sale pans. But somewhere between then and now, everyone else bought good expensive pans and learned to cook. What was I doing during this time? Probably busy reading the microwave instructions on the back of the frozen lasagna. (Now THATs my kind of cook wear...the paper pan that comes with the lasagna already in it, doubles as a plate, and can be tossed away in the trashcan when you're washing required). I could be intimidated by all this homemade food in the fancy designer dishes, but I've decided not to be. Instead, I'm choosing to take a stand for women! (Patriotic music here). I'm getting out of the kitchen and fighting for feminism! I'm bringing ready made mini danishes from the Food City bakery...and not even taking them out of their plastic container!

In the Garden

Normally, I'd be hiking today with my hiking group, since this is Saturday and all, but Hikemaster Greg is currently learning to identify bear poop on one of UT's Outreach Program Hikes. That gives us all a free Saturday to do whatever, but we'll be back to hiking next week, so check back then.

Anyway, today I spent my wonderfully warm and sunny Saturday doing yard work. To many, this may seem like a trial...something you're forced to do, but quirky as I am, I really enjoy it. Of course, I didn't always like it. When I was growing up, my mother had extensive gardens in both the front and back yard, and since Mom obviously didn't believe in child labor laws, Stepher and I were expected to help her weed and plant and mulch them. Bright and early every summer, Mom would get us up and outside to work in the flowerbeds. It was hot, it was dirty, and if we strained our necks at just the right angle to see over the mountains of mulch that needed to be spread, we could just make out the other neighborhood kids playing on their slip-n-slide or riding their bikes or just leisurely whiling their summers away. Oh how we grumbled and fussed and complained and swore that when we had yards of our own, there wouldn't be a single flowerbed to be seen. "All grass", I'd say. "As far as the eye can see...just grass. No weeding, no mulching, no planting. Maybe not even grass...maybe I can get AstroTurf". And Steph would solemnly not her head and we would sigh and go back to weeding. We figured that Mom was just making us earn our keep. The going rate for enduring our births seemed to be 18 summers of free manual labor. But what I couldn't ever understand would be at the end of the day, when our backs were sore, and our faces covered with sweat and dirt, and Mom would stand up and survey everything the three of us had accomplished and say, "That was fun". And she meant it too, which just proved that Mom was indeed crazy.

Fast forward a decade and a half, and I have a yard of my own. And one day, I was lording over my own little plot of mortgaged earth when I thought to myself, "Some impatiens would really look nice here". Shocking? Yes. But suddenly I realized where Mom was heading with all of that mandatory family yard work. She probably could have just done the yard work herself, or hired a landscaper, but she wanted to teach us the joy of planting something and watching it grow. And somewhere along the way, through all the mulching and the weeding and the planting, I did start to enjoy watching the landscape come alive. So today, after hours of happily planting and mulching and weeding, and becoming completely filthy with sweat and dirt, I noticed that my first irises of the season had bloomed, and I thought to myself, "You're right Mom...That was fun".

Photos: My first two irises of the season. They're my favorite flowers, and also just happen to be the state flower of Tennessee.

Communication Breakdown

Most of my co-workers have children. I do not. Most of my co-worker's children are at roughly the same age. Mine are not. Most of my co-workers stand around swapping stories about all the things that their children do and say and think and aspire to be in life. I usually have nothing to contribute on these topics. (Parents, be mindful of your childless is very difficult for people who live in a household where no one has spelling tests, or gets grounded, or is too young for tee-ball, or needs assistance in using the bathroom to relate. We don't even know how to approach something like that).

Co-worker Mom #1: ...And then Sammy's fever spiked to 103, but his pediatrician said that sometimes those ear thermometers can't be as accurate at higher temperatures as the rectal thermometers, so we've been checking his temperature rectally every 3 hours.
Me: ...
Co-worker Mom #2 and #3 however, nod sympathetically.
Co-worker Mom #2: Well, I've been interviewing schools to see where we want Jack to start pre-pre-kindergarten next year. I really like this one school, but the teacher-to-child ratio is a little high, and the school only offers Medieval Renaissance music appreciation class twice a week, and nothing on Later Victorian Chamber Music.
Me: ...
Co-worker Mom #3: Have you seen the new Quick N Carry car seat? It's fabulous! It goes from a car seat to a stroller to a booster seat to a pull behind car trailer to a NASA approved space station!
Co-worker Mom #1 and #2: Oooooooh!
Me: ...

Then I had an epiphany! I have cats right? They're small, right? They eat and sleep and poop too, even though they do it by themselves and without calling for me to come wipe them. Sometimes I even carry Dixon. I say they count.

Co-worker Mom #1: My oldest was George Washington in his school play last night! He did such a good job! We worked on those lines for weeks!
Co-worker Mom #2 and #3: That's great!
Me: My cat ate a bee last night!
Co-worker Mom #1, #2 and #3: ...
Me: Don't worry, he was able to throw it up again after a couple of tries.
Co-worker Mom #1, #2 and #3: ...
Me: He was chasing it around the screened-in porch, and then before I could get to him, down it went!
Co-worker Mom #1, #2 and #3: ...
Me: Heh-heh. Well, kids right? What can you do?
Co-worker Mom #1, #2 and #3: ...

Maybe my story would have been better received with Late Victorian Era Chamber Music and a Quick N Carry car seat.

The Cost of Moolah

I never carry cash with me. I tried once to always keep an emergency $20 with me, but just knowing that I had it unleashed an uncontrollable urge to spend it, so 2 hours after I put it in there, it was gone. This desire to exchange petty cash for say, vending machine food, can usually be controlled by not carrying cash at all, and instead using my credit card for everything and then paying it off at the end of the month. This keeps me from 1) buying $1 impulse purchases, and 2) allows me to earn "points" at a rate of .000000000000000000000001 points per dollar on my credit card. As soon as I get 59,547,825 more points, I can get a free toaster!

Anyway, yesterday I needed cash. I was hungry, there was Wendy's, and I had no cash. (Yes, I know, Wendy's takes credit cards, but last time I used my credit card to buy a $1.09 Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, the cashier looked at me like I was insane. I just couldn't handle that kind of judgment again). So I went in search of my bank ATM. And I searched, and I searched, and I searched. And no bank. Oh sure, every other bank had a branch, but one of Tony's 10 commandments is "Thou shall not pay the fee for using another bank's ATM" so I drove up and down the street, looking in vain for my bank, but to no avail. Finally I gave in and went to a rival bank's ATM, and said ATM charged me $2.50 to withdraw $20 to buy a $1.09 junior bacon cheeseburger. So in essence, the ATM cost me the price of TWO Junior bacon cheeseburgers in order to get the cash to buy one. The irony was not lost on me. It especially would not lost on Tony, who also requests that anytime I do hit up the ATM, I bring the receipt back to him, so that he can balance the bank account or do whatever it is he does with his much beloved (and totally boring) Quicken. (Yes, he's a nerd, but he's my nerd, and it keeps me from having to balance the checkbook, so it works). So I brought the receipt from evil rival bank's ATM home, folded it in half about 50 times, and gave it to him. The unfolding gave me a few precious seconds to flee before..."AAAARRRRHHHHHH!" Oh the humanity! Betrayed by his beloved wife through the use of an unauthorized bank ATM! The weeping! The agony!
Generations from now, the neighborhood children will continue to relay the story of the eerie wailing sounds escaping into the night from when Tony discovered my surrender to the dark side via a $2.50 ATM charge.

A Must Read

I found a new blog. A good one. A funny one with lots of interesting posts about the mundane parts of everyday life. And judging by the Blogger's Choice Award Nomination for Best Blog of All Time icon (didn't even know that there was such a thing as a Blogger's Choice Award), everyone else has already found it and loves it too. But just in case you're like me and you missed it the first time around, go check out Antique Mommy. She's good...she's very good.

As seen on Quirky...

I've been doing a little template rearranging lately. I added this lovely little About Me section (please don't stalk me now) to give new visitors an idea of what they're getting into. I also added this neat little visitors map thingie from Clustrmaps to the side here. When you visit the blog, it will put a little red dot where you live! (See? Embrace your quirky side, and get your very own red dot ABSOLUTELY FREE! Valued at $29.99 plus s/h, we're giving away red dots FOR FREE during this very special limited time offer. Visit now, and you'll also receive these lovely link pages, AT NO COST TO YOU! Red dots AND favorite blog links, a $99 value, absolutely free! Visit now, operators are standing by).

Vending Machine Food

An unexpected bonus for a Friday the vending machine food! Seems that Ye Ol' ImagePoint is thinking about changing our vending machine vendors for our kitchen, so a bidding hopeful brought in a lot of their sample foods for us to try. As expected in a place where it takes three days to read one day's worth of incoming email, the "Free Food!" message went out with supersonic speed. They didn't even formally announce it. They just snuck in, spread the free food out on a table and invited the first lucky sap who wanted into the kitchen by accident to try what they wished. At that exact moment, super-sensitive FOOD radars went off all over the company. (Remember that commercial where everybody's head pops up over the cubicle in perfect prairie dog style as they all scent food? We put those guys to shame. By the time their first head pops up, we've already assembled a hungry hoard of co-workers, and are racing through the hallways to converge on the unsuspecting vendors like lions over a kill). Fire alarm goes off? It takes us 10 minutes to evacuate, even with the ominous smell of smoke drifting thought the air. Free Food? We had that place cleared out in 2 minutes flat.

I was lucky enough to grab a tray labeled "Angus Cheeseburger" and a tiny "Turkey Bacon Ranch Wrap", both from Outtakes Quick Cuisine. I was a little scared of the cheeseburger, because really, how good can a vending machine cheeseburger be? Plus, while the package instructed me to keep it refrigerated, it didn't say anything about how to microwave it, or even if it needed microwaving. In the end, it was the fact that the package contained pickles (I love pickles!) that convinced me to eat it, and I microwaved the meat patty for a minute just to warm it up. And OH MY GOSH THIS BURGER IS FABULOUS! It's juicy, it's Angus-y, it tastes just like an $8 restaurant burger, sans fries. I'm sure that it contains no real food whatsoever, but this doesn't bother me. Preservatives just make me last longer. So two thumbs up now for vending machine burgers, and if any other vending machine food vendors are out there, I just want to make it known that I'm entertaining new vendor foods and my vote can be swayed with free samples.


I saw the neatest thing today! I got to watch my own heart beat! I had my echo appointment today, which is basically just an ultrasound of my heart. There it was, beating away, complete with whooshing sounds that were remarkably similar to my fish tank pump. (I guess a pump is a pump). Anyway, it was pretty cool. (I asked the technician if I could have a picture of it, like what they do with pregnant women, but she said no, they didn't do that. Oh well. If I didn't already know what it was supposed to be, I would have guessed that it was a picture of a hurricane anyway). My doctor will officially interpret the results, but I'm guessing that the ol' ticker is behaving itself, since the technician didn't run from the room or anything. She did, however, have some trouble getting my heart rate slowed down enough to get a clear reading on it. Seems that today my resting heart beat was about 115. (Quirk #346: I have the heart rate of a hummingbird). She spent quite a few minutes making me take deep breaths to slow it down, and right as she got it to about 93, someone knocked on the door and it shot my heart rate back up again. (Quirk # 347: Apparently I have an as yet undiscovered fear of knocking). The lube has a distinctive playdoh-ish odor, even after I wiped it off, but all in all, I rather enjoyed myself. Echocardiograms: two thumbs up on the neat-o scale.


This morning I woke up mad at Easter. I was mad that it was 30 degrees out instead of 70, like it was supposed to be. I was mad that I had to wear the same thing I wore to Christmas mass instead of my springy little sundress and white sandals, like I had wanted. I was mad that Tony had a cold. I was mad that instead of having the traditional Easter lunch with ham and deviled eggs and way too many deserts at Mom and Dad's, we were going to a regular restaurant for lunch. I was really mad that all of my tulips that had come up so nicely as a colorful backdrop for Easter pictures had all drooped over from the frost. I was mad that there were no Easter pictures. Where was the tradition? Where was the history? Where was my Easter basket full of candy?

And so, with bulky sweater and a good dose of mad, I went to Easter Mass. I managed to hang on to my mad right up til the second Alleluia song. That's about the time God sent angles down to smack me upside the head. Easter is not about the temperature outside, or what shoes I'm wearing, or whether we have deviled eggs for lunch. It's about Christ rising from the dead. That is WAAAAY bigger than droopy tulips or Easter candy. Properly chastised, I sang my Alleluias with the best of them. I went to lunch with my family, and even though there were no deviled eggs, there weren't any dishes to do either. And, as an added bonus that I totally didn't deserve, (what with missing the point earlier and all), my droopy tulips had revived in the sunshine by the time I got back home, and were standing tall and celebrating Easter the only way tulips can.

Trillium Gap

Today was the first time I've ever woken up and wished that there wasn't a hike scheduled. Tony's got a nasty cold, and I believe that I'm getting the start of it. It's just that general lack of energy and ability to breathe that lets you know that there's a cold on the way and not a thing you can do about it. At times like these, conventional wisdom says to stay in bed, eat some soup and try to stay warm. Of course, I'm not conventionally wise, so I went hiking anyway. The hike was to Trillium Gap by way of Grotto Falls, and despite the fact that it was BEYOND COLD, there seemed to be a lot of traffic there. (I figure it was due to the old, "In-laws came in for Easter...what to do with them to keep them occupied and out of your hair? Take them hiking!"). Grotto Falls was one of the first hikes I ever did with the group, so that trail is a particular reminder of how winded and out of shape I was. This time, however, I felt...winded and out of shape. (I blame it on the cold and my cold, but it was totally embarrassing to be lagging further and further behind...again). My group did an excellent job of effortlessly leaving me in their dust, realizing it, and stopping to take extended breaks and photo opportunities until I caught up. The fact that it was no warmer than mid-30s and windy didn't help much. But other than my cold, and the cold, and my embarrassment of being out-distanced by children related to the above mentioned in-laws, it was a really good hike. The waterfall was fantastic (even if it was surrounded by ice) and the views were pretty impressive too. I'm glad I went, even if I will suffer for it tomorrow.

Ode to Tony

Today is mine and Tony's 4 year anniversary. It's amazing how time flies. It's also amazing that it feels like we got married only yesterday and at the same time have known each other forever. Some people have okay marriages. Some people have good marriages. Some people even have great marriages. But I think very few of them are as lucky as I am, because I have managed to not only find my soul mate, the person who compliments my personality in every way, but I have managed to snatch him up and marry him before all the other women on earth could figure out exactly how wonderful he is. Annnnnd, (and this part shocks me to no end) he married me EVEN WHILE KNOWING all my little "quirks". He knows that I refuse to do dishes. He knows that I leave my dirty clothes on the bathroom floor. He knows that he's responsible for total kitty care because I do not contain any maternal instincts whatsoever. He, on the flip side, takes care of the bills, says "excuse me" after belching, takes out the trash, puts the toilet seat down, mows the yard, makes dinner, checks the house for bad guys in the middle of the night, does dishes, cleans the showers, attends to the litter boxes, and is generally attentive and supportive of me. So he's sweet, and thoughtful, and responsible, and clean. And he's mine, all mine!

Eat your heart out girls!


Tony's sister ran in the Knoxville Marathon yesterday. (She does that. Run. I have no idea why). She came in third for the women, and only about 12 seconds later than the second place woman. It wasn't her best time, but was a good run all in all. I can be impressed because I don't stand in the rain, much less run in it. For 26.2 miles. Up and down hills. At 6am.

Congrats Jenny!

West Prong

Once again, we had awesome weather for our hike on Saturday. (We've been really lucky with the weather so far. Perfect weather every time!) We did the West Prong trail, which is a popular trail for overnight campers, since it has a campsite about halfway in. I've never been camping in a tent before and thought it sounded like fun, but Tony says that I probably wouldn't like it, what with not being able to lock the tent and all. (I have a thing about "intruders" coming in while I'm asleep. You have no idea how many times I make Tony get up and check the house at night because I heard a funny sound, which could have just been the cat, but come to think of it, it could also be a murderous-ax-welding-psychopath-who-has-just-gotten-into-the-house-and-is-at-this-very-moment-creeping-up-the-stairs-to-trap-us-in-the-bedroom-and-slice-us-into-tiny-bits! It always turns out to be the cat. Paranoia: another one of my wonderful quirks! But I digress). Anyway, the hike was shorter than our usual ones (5.4 miles), but with a much steeper elevation that had certain calf, thigh, and glut muscles really singing (and by singing, I mean threatening to revolt and leave my body altogether and hitchhike home without me). But the wild flowers are blooming, and the sun was shining, and the stream was gurgling, the cemetary was well kept, and we all made it to the top eventually. Check out Greg's site for some really fantastic pictures.


For anybody who remembers the post about scaring the health fair lady with my slightly unusual pulse, you'll be happy to know that I had my doctor's appointment with a very good cardiologist yesterday, and he said that I'm healthy as a horse. He explained that Orthostatic Hypotension is a condition, not a disease, and that I'm doing a very good job of not letting it rule my life. I know how to handle it, and as long as I can keep myself from passing out, I'm fine. He said that there's no damage to my heart from having a racing pulse, and to continue to drink lots of water and eat all the salt I want. (How many doctors tell you THAT?) The hiking and the elliptical sessions were very good. He did do some tests just as a baseline, and I have an echo scheduled in a few weeks, but they're mostly just to establish a history for me. I'll probably check in with him every 10 years or so just so he can give me the thumbs up on how I'm doing. The $30 co-pay is worth it for the peace of mind that I've still got miles to go before I sleep.