The Demise of the Horn Monster

You’ll be happy to know that the horn monster has been (hopefully) eradicated. I took my car into the dealership and explained the problem. They told me that it would take about 40 minutes to fix, so I just sat in the little poorly-lit waiting room and tried to ignore the out of date copies of People Magazine and reruns of Judge Judy blasting from the TV bolted to the wall. The good news is that they couldn’t claim that there wasn’t anything wrong with my horn because even Her Honor’s bickering with the defendant over who agreed to pay for the plaintiff’s boob job last January couldn’t drown out the uninterrupted horn blaring from the service bay, At least the horn monster was making his presence known.

About thirty minutes AFTER the 40 minutes they promised me, a guy came in to tell me that I needed a new horn pad because “By durn! That other one was really stuck!” The problem, he went on to explain, was that they didn’t have any in stock, so they were sending someone out to get one from another dealership. Not to worry though. It shouldn’t be more than another 30-45 minutes. So I settled back in to wait, and gritted my teeth through a second episode of Judge Judy (for the love of all things holy, please please don’t let it be a Judge Judy marathon!) and the plaintiff whined on about her loser dead-beat boyfriend not paying rent like he promised.

An hour after the second promised 40 minutes had passed, my new part must have arrived, because the horn went off again. The other customers in the waiting room jumped and giggled nervously. Somebody murmured that he hoped that wasn’t his car out there, but I just smiled. It’s actually pretty funny when it isn’t you trying to get the bleeping horn to stop. I could hear several of the mechanics trying to yell over the noise. The horn monster wasn’t going down without a fight.

I was in the middle of ignoring some soap opera drama (at least we were free of Judge Judy and her minions of morons) when the mechanic staggered back into the waiting room. His hair was sticking up in tufts on his head and he was talking louder than necessary (I hope the hearing loss from the horn battle is just temporary) but he did manage to let me know that they had finally been able to defeat the horn monster and return my car to normal (and quiet) working order. He handed me my keys and almost pushed me out the door towards my car, as glad to be rid of me and my horn as I was to escape my little prison cell of daytime television.

Estimated time to fix horn: 40 minutes
Actual time to fix horn: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Number of times Judge Judy scowled and interrupted people to tell them that they were idiots: 42*
Number of decibels of my car horn: 110
Number of times that horn went off while being fixed: 8
Number of times that other people in the waiting room jumped when the horn went off: 8
Number of times that horn has gone off since it was fixed: 0

Let’s hope we’ve heard the last of the horn monster.

*an estimate…like I said, I was trying to tune her out

Christmas Miracles

Welcome back Internets! I trust that everyone has a wonderful Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza/Festivus? Tony and I traveled up to the Great White North to see his family for the holidays. Instead of a detailed play-by-play kind of thing however, I figured I would just touch on some of the good things about the trip. Little Christmas miracles.

Christmas Miracle #1: Sonic and Krystal are both open on Christmas Eve. I know this because none of the airport shops and restaurants were open (being Christmas Eve and all) and I was hungry. This normally wouldn’t have been a problem except that our flight from Knoxville to O’Hare that was supposed to leave at 7pm got delayed until about 10pm, which means that the dinner I was expecting to eat when we landed in Chicago didn’t materialize. And security was shutting down, so we couldn’t leave the airport to go get food and bring it back. But Mom and Dad totally played Santa for us by hopping in their sleigh and roaming the streets of K-town until they found some open fast food, and then delivered it to the airport in a sack full of Christmas cheer (in the form of hamburgers). So we sat in the mostly-deserted airport (there were 4 other people there with us) at 10:00 at night on Christmas Eve and ate cheeseburgers from Sonic and it was the best. Christmas. Dinner. Ever. And I may have even pulled a Tiny Tim and been all “God bless us every one!”

Christmas Miracle #2: The plane made it to Chicago. Tony was completely sure that they were going to cancel our flight since there were only 6 of us waiting on the plane, (and one was a pilot just hitching a ride) but we overheard some of the airline people talking about how they needed the plane back in Chicago first thing in the morning, so that’s why we were still going at all. (That’s customer service right there. Nothing says “we value our customers” like being all “well we were going to cancel your flight for no reason and leave you stranded in an airport on Christmas Eve, but we need the plane, so you guys can come along for the ride if you want”. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside).

Christmas Miracle #3: We weren’t mugged on the subway. There was some discussion about the wisdom of riding the subway in Chicago at 1:00 in the morning on Christmas Day, since the thought was that only the nut-jobs would be out then, but we soldiered on anyway. And I won’t lie to you, there was a nut-job, but apparently he was a rather harmless nut-job, so we arrived to the Seester’s apartment safely and in possession of all our possessions.

Christmas Miracle #4: Tony’s Grandma’s Christmas cookies. I look forward to them all year. They’re like little bits of world peace with frosting and sprinkles. Soooooo good!

Christmas Miracle #5: We didn’t get lost. Tony and I ran around Chicago by ourselves for three days, and we never got lost. We transferred lines on the subway, took cabs, rode the Amtrak trains, and walked all over the greater downtown Chicago, and managed to know where we were going at all times. Considering that I’m not exactly known for being observant to my surroundings (“Skyscraper? What skyscraper?”) and Tony has the spatial reasoning of a rock (and I mean that in the nicest way), I was pretty impressed with how well we were able to get around on our own.

Christmas Miracle # 6: It was warm! This really was a Christmas miracle ya’ll. You know how I hate cold. Hate it! Hate it! Hate it! Snow and ice and slush and freezing rain are not my friends. So imagine my surprise when Chicago in winter was…well, not exactly warm, but not freezing! I was shocked! Friday had a high of 52 F degrees! Saturday had a high of 61 F! 61! In Chicago! In December! I didn’t even wear a coat! Seriously, it made my whole trip. All of the fun, none of the frostbite. I heart global warming.

Christmas Miracle # 7: I exercised! Officially, I’d given myself the week off from the gym since we were traveling, but I’d eaten so many Christmas cookies by Friday that I had to do something. (Grandma’s Christmas cookies may be world peace with sprinkles, but each one has the calorie equivalent of a 5 tier wedding cake). So even though I didn’t HAVE to, I tossed on some workout clothes and hit the gym for an hour of intense (and heart-attack inducing) elliptical-ing. And according to the machine-o-suffering, I managed to burn off 600 calories, which is approximately two licks of a Christmas cookie. Hey, every little bit counts.

Christmas Miracle #8: I had enough books! I packed two paperbacks and two electronic books for three days, which sounds like a lot but really isn’t. When you consider all of the sitting in airports and on planes and on trains that goes on with holiday travel, you can go through books pretty quickly. The good news was that I received a book as a Christmas present also, so that added another 500 or so pages of literary goodness. Nothing worse than sitting in an airport without any books.

Christmas Miracle #9: We were able to get home again! Despite the entire country hearing news reports about the weather being lousy (flash flood warnings in December?) and Chicago airports basically shutting down and all the flights getting cancelled and bleary-eyed passengers complaining about how they’d been stuck at the airport for the past three days, we had no trouble at all with getting home. We were worried, of course. Flights were being cancelled at gates all around us, but other than a short delay while we waited for a crew member to get there, our flight was fine. It seems that not even flash flooding can keep us down.

So that was my holiday. All chock-full of tiny miracles. Little things that made the entire trip wonderful. Plus we were able to see not only Tony’s family, but my Seester too, which was nice. I think everyone had a good time, and I wouldn’t have minded staying longer. I feel like we just barely brushed the surface. Next time, perhaps we can add another day to the trip. And maybe some more Christmas cookies.

Just So You Know...

Warning: Just so you know, if your husband gets the Glade plug-in that smells like pine tree and puts it upstairs, and the Glade plug-in “Winter Night” downstairs, the two scents will mingle in the living room to the point that you will SWEAR that the cat that is sleeping on your stomach while you watch TV is wearing Old Spice cologne. And that will be very strange indeed, because no one in your house has any cologne, much less Old Spice. And it will cause much sniffing of the cat, who will be very confused at your bizarre behavior. And you will yell up the stairs, “Honey? Is that cat wearing Old Spice?” and your husband will yell “Is he wearing WHAT?!” back down, and now there will be even MORE confusion, because why would a cat be wearing cologne, even if he could somehow get a hold of some? (And why Old Spice specifically, which evokes memories of middle-aged used-car salesmen circa 1986, and not kitty cat, even if they both seem to have the same about of body hair). And it will only be after about 10 minutes of sniffing the cat, the couch, and the corners of the room that you will realize that the smell is not emanating from the cat directly, but really a bizarre combination of the air fresheners from the “Holiday” collection. And while you will feel great relief that the cat has not decided to enhance his toilet with men’s personal fragrance products, that relief will not stop the whole Old Spice whistle-jingle from circulating through your brain for the rest of the night because now your entire HOUSE smells like an Old Spice commercial.

Just so you know.

The Horn Monster Returneth

So I’m driving home from the gym last night, singing along to the radio at the top of my lungs (Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event, if you want to recreate the scene) when I hear this part of the song that I hadn’t noticed before. It’s this constant sound, half-way hidden under the drums and guitars, and it kind of goes “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNK”. And because I’m clueless, I think, “Huh. I wonder what instrument makes that sound”.

I’ll give you a hint. It’s a horn.

A CAR horn.

MY car horn.


“NOOOOO!” I yelled! (Actually, I yelled some other choice words too, but Nooooo! is the only one that I can reprint here). And even though the first time proved that beating the steering wheel is completely ineffective, I beat it anyway. Because there’s not much else you can do to unstick a car horn while driving down the middle of the interstate, and you have to try something.

And just so you know, the level of mortification does not decrease any with familiarity. It was the same, only this time anger and frustration were making their appearances also, because suddenly this wasn’t a freak one-time occurrence anymore. And I didn’t do anything to set it off. I was just driving along, minding my own business, not even touching it! As a matter of fact, ever since it happened the first time, I’ve been driving with only my fingertips touching the every edges of the wheel, careful not to so much as even breathe funny and anger the psycho spastic Horn Monster living inside my steering wheel.

But now I have no choice but to take it to the dealership so that they can force me to drive a rental for three days before calling me up to tell me that they can’t find anything wrong with my horn. And I’ll insist, and they’ll shrug and say something about checking it again while they make it clear that they’re just humoring the crazy lady.

Plus the car is still under warranty, which you think would be a good thing, but really just requires me to fill out a lot of paperwork for them to tell me that I’m imagining the horn, or that the horn is supposed to randomly blow like that, or that the horn blowing is a pre-existing condition caused by normal wear and tear and only covered on vehicles with less the 20,000 miles when the last new moon was in line with Pluto and therefore not covered under my warranty. (If it is the last case, then the horn will suddenly be a huge complicated problem requiring a whole new steering wheel and cost the equivalent of the national debt).

And I will grumble. But I will drive their stinky rental car, and pay their national debt bills, and endure their crazy lady shrugs because the random horn blowing? Not cool. Not the kind of attention that I’m looking for.

Once was a freak thing. Twice? This means war, Horn Monster.

Christmas Tour Of Homes


I'm so excited! Today is Boomama's annual Christmas tour of homes! Last year's tour was so much fun that we're doing it again! If it's your first time stopping in to Quirky is a Compliment, welcome, and come right in! Let me show you around.

Did you happen to catch all the blue icicle lights all along the roof of the house outside? These lights are probably my favorite decorations. There's just something nice about coming home in the evening and having the house trimmed out in lights. Completely worth the hours I spent inching along on my belly on the roof while Tony stood on the ground below and yelled helpful things like "If you fall, chances are it wouldn't kill'd just be in a full body cast". (Such an optimist, my hubby). Regardless, the lights are pretty and twinkly and blue, and I love them.

You may notice that I have a thing for the color blue when it comes to decorating. Blue lights on the roof...

Blue ornaments hanging from the trees in the front yard...

Blue lights in the...wait a minute! Those lights aren't blue! I know, I know. It just so happens that my dear hubby really enjoys those big retro Christmas lights. And even though they mess with my beautiful blue theme that I have going on here, I figure that Christmas is all about sharing, so I put his big retro lights in the Japanese Maple tree by the front door. Now he can enjoy coming home and seeing his lights all lit up too.

So that's the outside...why not come inside and warm up?

Do you like my wreath? I love the silver, even if it does get glitter everywhere!

Ah, here's more of my blue. These are just regular ornaments that I tied with silver ribbon and hung from the chandelier. I think it gives the kitchen a funky, festive touch, don't you?

Another thing we look forward to during Christmas is receiving Christmas cards. We display them on our snowman. Don't mind the cat, Mason...he's just really protective of his Christmas cards.

Here's our nativity scene. We keep it on top of the entertainment center. Experience teaches us that all nativity scenes must be displayed up high in order to discourage inquiring kitty paws from pilfering the occasional wiseman.

Back by popular demand from last year, it's the Christmas fish! I decorate the tank with those window clings in the shape of snowflakes. They also have their own little stocking.

"Merry Fish-mas!"
So there you go! That's the grand Christmas tour! Thanks for stopping by to visit, and feel free to come back anytime. We're a little quirky here, but we think that's a good thing.
And if you're new here, be sure to leave a comment and let me know where you're from so I can return the favor and come see your decorations also.


I know I don't normally do weekend posts, but I just wanted to pop on and let you know that I was hooded this weekend.

And no, that doesn't mean that I drove into a questionable section of town and got beat up by gang members. (Yet...the weekend is still young after all).

Actually, what it means is that approximately 6 months after I finished my higher ed-u-ma-cation classes, the university deemed it time to bestow upon me my little piece of paper declaring me graduated.

And also a hood, which was mucho awesome.

So I coerced my family into the car and we drove over to the main campus to sit through a three hour ceremony where lots of people gave inspiring speeches, and then they called out roughly a bazillion names, and we all fought to stay awake. AND THEN I walked across a stage where they gave me this: It is a hood, and it means that I am officially a master of business administration. Woot!

Because Just Saying "I Have A New Floor" Would Be Boring

Once upon a time there was a castle. And in the castle lived four little princes. And the little princes were very good at using their royal litter boxes. But one day, Prince Dixon was waylaid by an evil urinary tract infection, and it hurt very much to use the royal litter box. So Prince Dixon expressed his discomfort by tinkling on the royal carpet in the office. And the King and Queen were very upset. So they commanded the castle SpotBot to get on that, and they took Prince Dixon to the local healer for some medicine.

Only the evil urinary tract infection raged on, and Prince Dixon (unbeknownst to the rest of the royal family) continued to find new and varying places to wee-wee on the floor of the office. And the King and Queen were very upset because suddenly the entire office smelled like cat pee and they couldn’t figure out why. So after trying various carpet cleaning devices, they finally decided that it would just be better to rip all the royal carpet up out of the office and replace it with laminate flooring.

And so they moved all of the furniture out of the royal office, and then pulled up all the carpet, and the padding, and then got down on their hands and knees and pulled up tack strips and staples until their hands blistered and their backs cramped. The royal family was very sad, and darkness ruled over the land.

But still they soldiered on and put down the moisture barrier pad, which all the little princes enjoyed playing on.

And then they started laying floor, which was surprisingly easy due to the whole snapping and locking in place floating floor deal. The whole room only took a couple of hours. And THAT made the King and Queen very happy.

And so all the kingdom rejoiced because the castle smelled good again, and Prince Dixon got over his evil infection and quit tinkling on the floor, and all the other princes soon discovered that if they ran really really fast to the royal food bowls, they could slide all the way across the office floor, which they liked.

So the moral of the story is that if you have carpet that has seen better days, rip that stuff out and go with the interlocking laminate flooring. It’s fast, it’s easy, and the little princes won’t tinkle on it.

The end.

Christmas Cards

I’m a little later than usual this year, but Christmas cards are officially in the mail! We always do the photo cards with a picture of us and the cats on it, and this year we had so many cats that I needed a few photographers and cat-restraining assistants. (The boys do NOT appreciate formal sittings). You’d think they’d get used to it by now…we’ve done the same sitting every year for five years.

Sometimes I wonder if people get bored with the traditional “us with the cats” pose, but then I remember how much I enjoy getting photo cards of other people with their families for Christmas, so I’m hoping that they appreciate getting the card and forget that it’s the same pose as last year. (In our defense, we did add two more cats this year, so technically it is different).

Christmas cards seem to be a dying art. Each year we see less and less of them in our mailbox. (Although it suddenly occurs to me that maybe we’re just not very popular. Hmmm). Still, with the price of stamps and the cards and the photos and time it takes to address each one and write a little note, I can understand why people get busy with all the other holiday stuff and just ignore the cards. I think that I’ll always do it anyway though. I know how much I love getting a Christmas card in the mail, and I assume it’s the same with other people. We have a card stand that I display the cards on every year. I’ve even been known to keep them from previous years so that my card stand is full even when I first set it out. (Tony calls this cheating…I call it sentimental). But even more than getting cards, the best part for me is sending them out. My favorite is when all the cards are sitting in their little envelopes, addressed and stamped and ready to go into the mail. It’s nice to look at that pile and remember all the people who are important to us. Some of them we see every week. Some of them we haven’t seen in years. But I still send the cards because those little ties, no matter how infrequent, keep us together.

Animated Edibles

You will never guess what I did this Saturday morning. I stayed in bed and watched cartoons. It was a serious flashback to 20 years ago. Kind of.

I didn’t really set out specifically to watch cartoons. It just kind of happened by accident. It was one of those rare Saturday mornings where the planets aligned and Tony had to go to work, and the cats decided to let me sleep in, and I had nothing planned to do until later that day. Plus it was cold outside of my toasty electric blanket, so instead of dragging myself up, I snuggled down into the blankets and flipped on the TV. I guess we had been watching CBS last, because that was the channel that it was on when I hit the power button. And lo and behold, there were cartoons.

We do not have little people in our house, so cartoons have not really graced our television with any regularity. So I was not at all prepared for just how weird cartoons had become. In my day, we watched Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Rescue Rangers, and Duck Tales and The Adventures of My Little Pony, and that was good solid cartoon programming. Now? These cartoons are just bizarre. Completely and totally bizarre. And normally I would have hit the guide button and found a Landscaper’s Challenge or Design on A Dime, but the story lines were so odd that I couldn’t turn away. It was like a car crash.

The cartoon in question (which I would have shut off, but the absurdity of it stopped me dead in my tracks) was about (I kid you not) tiny crime-fighting bits of…sushi. Yes. Sushi. Crime-fighting specially prepared raw seafood. Which definitely proves that the cartoon creators were smoking something REALLY potent when they thought of this one.

Actually, I wouldn’t have guessed that they were supposed to be sushi at all if the name of the show hadn’t been The Sushi Pack. They looked more like different colored blobs if you ask me. There was a pink blob with ears like crab claws, and a blue blob that had several arms like an octopus or squid or something, and a green blob that was apparently supposed to be Wasabi sauce, but I have no idea what the other blobs were supposed to be. (They were introduced, but my eyes had glazed over and my brain was leaking out of my ears and onto the floor, so I didn’t catch them). Anyway, the story begins with the sushi blobs discussing doing some modifications on their crustacean-shaped helicopter. The pink blob wants to make it more Feng shui (do kids even know what this means? Can the average 4 year old now redecorate a room to channel my chi into a more positive climate?), the blue blob wants to do something else, and the green blob (for reasons never explained) wants to make the helicopter look like a giant flying bathtub.

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, a very large LARGE woman whose southern accent more than suggests that this is supposed to be an evil Paula Deen, is monologuing about how much she hates the Sushi Crew. (I can’t say that I’m a fan of raw fish either, but this woman really needs to get over it.) Alas, instead of doing something positive like making an appointment with her therapist to work out her food-related anger issues, she sets about creating an evil gang of fried foods to fight with the sushi crew. (I know. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse). She goes over to her deep fryer, and in the evil voice reserved specifically for bad guys, rants as she tosses a chicken nugget, a corn dog, a ball of mozzarella (hey! I think to myself, this is looking promising! I’m getting hungry!), some ketchup (fried ketchup?) and a dash of something very clearly labeled as “toxic poison” into the oil. The result is a huge explosion, and when the smoke clears, tiny brown blobs with legs and angry looking eyes. The bad guy fried foods all speak with distinct Southern accents, making me believe that there are some culturally disparaging undertones here. As expected, the rival food gangs meet up, and a “food fight” ensues, although not with any violence. The majority of the fight consisted of both food groups standing around, frowning aggressively at each other. (Remember the good old days when Jerry would drop a piano on Tom’s head? Those days are loooong gone). At the fight climax, some of the sushi gang threw yellow stuff (spicy mustard perhaps?) but it didn’t appear to do any damage…I’m guessing the Cartoon Violence Police are behind that one.

I’m assuming that the Sushi Pack eventually wins, but I’m not sure because I was able to snap myself out of the animated sushi-induced stupor and throw myself at the power button of the TV right as the sushi began an important lesson on compromising about the helicopter designs instead of focusing on their differences. I’m not sure how, but this in some way ties into the battle with the fried food.

Now, I am fully aware that I am not the target audience here, but seriously? Crime-fighting sushi? Have we really exhausted every other idea for a cartoon? On the one hand, I’m glad they tried to think of something more original than your standard suspiciously diverse group of kids with special secret powers to fly/shoot fire/talk to animals/cause earthquakes/turn into dragons/cars/dinosaurs/ninjas and are trying to save the world from your typical evil bad guys with legions of bad guy armies and complete with secret lair. On the other hand…it’s a show about two inch tall pieces of raw fish. I’m not sure whether to be in awe or deeply disturbed. Maybe it's just me and my antiquated notions on proper cartoon heroes, but despite the obvious moral lesson on teamwork and compromise, the sushi blobs scare me.

And I think I need some comfort in the form of fried foods.

The 25 Days Of Christmas Meme

Nicole did this Christmas-themed meme not too long ago, and I just had to bow to peer pressure. Here's everything you could ever want to know about my Christmas goings-on.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. And all the presents are wrapped in the same paper so that they don't clash and look nice and uniform. And the wrapping paper is always blue. It's my wrapping paper rule. If something is just a weird size and impossible to wrap I'll use a gift bag, but then the present has to be hidden in the back so it doesn't mess up my blue scheme. Christmas quirk number 324: Matching presents in blue.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real. I'd as soon do an artificial one in hopes that the cats wouldn't be so determined to eat the needles, but Tony insists that it isn't Christmas without a real tree. So we go to Lowes each year and pick out a Frazier fur (another Tony requirement...only the Frazier is a true tree; all other tree types are imposters). And every year we drag our tree home and set it up in the living room, and then I spend the next month trying to keep the cats from eating the branches and then barfing them back up in the hallway (cat Christmas quirk number 246: presents of pine tree barf on the carpet), and vacuuming up all the dropped needles, and trying to keep it in fresh water. But I do admit that there's something wonderful about the smell of pine in the house, and I do love the "realness" of a real tree, and I never have to spend time assembling and "fluffing" the branches or dragging it in and out of the attic.

3. When do you put up the tree? The first weekend in December. This is another Tony rule. Although I will (and have) already started decorating other parts of the house. We like to do the tree together, but the rest of the decorating falls under my jurisdiction, so I'll set something out whenever I have a free moment. It's not usual for him to come home and find a wreath up that wasn't there when he left that morning. But we always do the tree together, and always the first weekend of December.

4. When do you take the tree down? Usually the first week of January. We don't have a set time on this one, but usually by the time January rolls around, I've all Christmased out and am ready to have my living room floor space back. We take our tree out to the zoo for the animals to play with/eat on. Zoo animals love Christmas trees.

5. Do you like egg nog? Nope. It's a little too thick and egg-y for my tastes. Like drinking underdone scrambled eggs if you ask me.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hmmm. So many favorites. As a child, I'd like to say that the trampoline was pretty cool. And the year Mom and Dad gave us the gerbils with the gerbil play city and miles of connecting tubes. More recently, I'd have to say the birdhouse that Mom made me that looks just like my house, or the Roomba (of course!).

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. I put it on top of the entertainment center so you can see it from the stairs. And also because that's the safest place to keep it away from pilfering kitty paws.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Dad. Everything we give him goes directly into the closet and stays there. He probably has 20 years of presents hoarded on the shelves in there. My goal is to find something each year that he'll actually use instead of burying in the closet.

9. Easiest person to buy for? The Seester. She sends a list with exactly what she wants, and she's just as thrilled to get a gift card as anything else. No surprises there.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. Each year I make Tony and the cats sit down and take a Christmas card picture. Then we mail them out to friends and family who secretly mock us for doing the same pose each year surrounded by a hoard of cats. Merry Christmas from the crazy cat family.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? For some reason, people like to get me scented bath soaps. I'm not sure why. I think that I must be a difficult person to buy for, so they fall back on the Bath and Body funky smells collection. And I'm sure that that is a perfectly wonderful gift for lots of people, but I'm not really a Cinnamon Pear Mulberry Spice scented lotion kind of person. I have tons of that stuff, and no idea what to do with it.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? I'm going to let you in on a little secret here. You know those people who make it a tradition to watch White Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street? I'm not one of them. Just about the only Christmas movie that I'll actually sit down and watch is How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated version, not the remake).

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? As soon as I think of something that someone would like. Gift suggestion lists usually make their rounds in the beginning of November, and I like to have everything at least purchased by mid-November to allow for shipping.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes. I had the same aunt give us the same Christmas throw two years in a row. They were really nice, but I didn't really see the point of having two, so I gave the second one to someone else.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Chocolate turtles and Harry and Davis Moose Munch, which are sent to the office by our vendors every year and Christmas sugar cookies (especially the kind Tony's grandmother makes). Hmmm. Guess I'm not a very healthy Christmas eater.

16. Clear or colored Christmas lights? Colored on the tree. Blue on the outside of the house.
Tony likes the fat retro lights, which I broke down and bought for him at the end of last year, but I haven't decided where to put them yet. I'm afraid that they're a fire hazard inside, but I hate to have them mess up my blue theme outside.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Carol of the Bells, hands down. Followed closely by Little Drummer Boy and Greensleeves though.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home. I'd like to stay home, but we alternate back and forth between my family and Tony's family for Christmas. I like to see everybody, but I wish the air travel wasn't always such a hassle. We always seem to be destined to get delayed and spend six hours sitting in an airport somewhere.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeers? Yep. Although why useless information like that managed to stick while things like state capitals or the periodic table didn't...

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel. She's wearing a (wait for it) light blue dress. She's lovely. I bought her the first Christmas that I was on my own, even though she was almost taller than my little scrawny table-top tree. She's one of my favorite decorations. I have to be careful not to unpack her a second before the tree is ready though because Mason finds her feather-covered wings irresistible. I learned this the hard way one year when he snatched her from her ornament box and absconded with her through the house and under the bed. Luckily I got to her before he could start seriously chewing on her wings. He doesn't notice her when she's on top of the tree though.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning. How are you supposed to open presents before Santa can come on Christmas Eve?

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Hmmm. I'm going to go with the weather. I know the cold doesn't really have anything to do with Christmas specifically, but I dislike the cold in general. Christmassing in the Bahamas would take care of that though.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? You'd think that with the blue theme going on, I'd have blue ornaments on the tree also, but I don't. Our ornaments are a hodge-podge of ones that we've made/gotten over the years while we were growing up. We have baby's first Christmas ornaments, and clothespin reindeer ornaments, and plastic apple ornaments that we brought home from school in 1988, and first married ornaments, and first house ornaments, and everything in between. And sure, sometimes I look at all of the matching blue ornaments with the blue lights on the display trees in the stores, but I wouldn't change it. Our tree is a living history of who we are.

24. Favorite dinner for Christmas? I don't think we have any set Christmas dinner. Last time Tony's family did Italian beef sandwiches. My family usually does ham and deviled eggs and green beans and such. Either works for me.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? My Christmas list included gift cards, clothes, video games, an omelet pan, and the Checkmate 1.8 million volt stun gun for zapping potential bad guys that I may come across while walking to my car in the evenings. We'll see what actually shows up under the tree.

Honk If You Love Obnoxious Honking

So yesterday I was driving back to work from my little jaunt to the Minute Clinic when something rather bizarre happened. I was sitting behind another car at a red light, just minding my own business and congratulating myself for (wo)manning up and going to the doctor BEFORE I had to be admitted to the ER (which I think shows mucho personal growth, by the way) when the light changed.

Annnnd the guy in front of me just sat there.

Now, I'm not one to be all banging on the horn and waving my arms around, because who of us hasn't been distracted while trying to extract that french fry wedged between the seat and the console when the light turned green and we didn't notice? Exactly. So I sat there for a few seconds, patiently waiting, but the guy still didn't budge and I was beginning to get worried that we'd miss the entire light. So I very very gently and quickly tapped the horn. You know the one where you lightly hit your steering wheel a few times until you can get the quietest, quickest, least obnoxious horn noise possible? One that, instead of being all "GET OUT OF THE WAY, MORON!" it's more like, "Um, excuse me. I hate to be a bother because I know that at this very moment you almost have the wayward fry tweezer-ed between two of your fingers, but I just wanted to point out that the light is green." So I start tapping, but before I can get the polite horn tap out, the car that has pulled up behind me just LAYS on his horn. And holds it down, which is not only horn-speak for "Get out of the way you Moron!" but also insinuates things about your mother and calls your entire heritage into question. And I jump, and I'm sure french fry guy jumps, because he immediately notices that the light has changed and turns right. And I mentally commiserate with him about the rude jerk behind me who is STILL laying on the horn as I turn left and go my merry way.

And here's where the bizarre part happens, because fry guy turned right, and I turned left, and guy behind me turned right, so they're both heading in the opposite direction from me, but I STILL HEAR THE HORN.

And that's when I realize that it wasn't rude guy behind me laying on his's MY horn! And it's still blowing! Apparently when I tapped it something got stuck, because my horn has been blaring constantly for about 20 seconds now (which is a looooooong time when you are driving down the road with people getting out of your way or flipping you off or just generally wondering what is wrong with this insane person who will not stop with the horn already?!?) and I'm beating on the steering wheel, trying to unstick it, but that just seems to renew its vigor, and now I'm thinking things like "Do I just keep driving? Or do I pull over in the parking lot of one of these businesses? If I pull over, everyone in the business is going to think I'm in some sort of trouble and come running out to see what the problem is. If I just keep driving, people are going to think I have some serious road rage". Either way, blaring horn is mortally embarrassing.

So I just kept driving, and beating the steering wheel, and yelling "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!" at the horn, while mentally sending telepathic messages to all the people around me that I'm so sorry, and it's not them I'm honking at, and I really don't mean what it sounds like I'm saying about them and their heritage, and please don't shoot me or run me off the road or whatever it is that people do to the idiot who is driving down the street with the horn blasting.

And right around the time that I'm debating about just diving out of the car and pretending that I've never seen it before, it stops. Just like that. Deafening horn for 40 seconds, then nothing. Blessed, anonymous silence. It was the strangest thing.

Obviously, the car is either suffering from PMS or demonic possession. (Aside: Tony says he thought they were the same thing. Excuse me while I smack him). Of course, being a stickler for proper car care maintenance, I'm planning on handling it by a) pretending this entire embarrassing episode never happened, b) denying to anyone who may have witnessed the event that I was anywhere within a 10 mile radius, and c) never touching the horn again, ever. If that doesn't work, we'll move on to my surefire PMS cure: liberal doses of chocolate and a good cry over a Lifetime movie.

And then I'll figure out what to do about the car.

Minute Clinics

At the risk of sounding like a little old lady who shares all of her medical woes to everyone in great detail, I have a bladder infection. Again. I tell you this not to discuss bathroom frequency (please don’t) or the effectiveness of cranberry (very), but to pontificate on the absolute fabulous-ness of the CVS Minute Clinic. Has anyone else discovered these little medical gems?

I don’t know if you can tell it from here, or here, or here, but if you haven’t already guessed, I am not a fan of the doctor. And for better or worse, will put off going to said doctor until I’m pretty much dead, or have weakened to the point that Tony can overpower me and drag me in against my will. It’s not that I don’t like medical care, it’s just that (commencing whining in 3…2…1) they take forever, and I have to miss work to go, and they’re full of sick people, and you sit for hours in the waiting room, and then you sit for hours in the examining room, and then the doctor spends roughly 4.5 seconds talking to you, and then they charge you (or your insurance company) a bazillion dollars for it. And there’s always the possibility of random blood tests, which involve needles, and don’t even get me started on the needles. So to sum up: not a fan.

Oh! But these Minute Clinics! They are everything you could ever want in a doctor’s office! They are located inside the CVS, and they do not have a billion little forms to fill out in triplicate (they use kiosks! Enter name, address, date of birth and you’re done! Why haven’t traditional offices thought of this before?). Plus, there was not a soul waiting when I arrived, so the RN (who was not sequestered out of sight in a mysterious back room, probably playing solitaire while I sit in the exam room, seething) was right there, waiting for me to finish my kiosk information and immediately admit me. And get this! He actually listened to me! Asked me questions and filled in notes on his computer and talked to me for a full and undivided 20 minutes! He did the "lab work" right there in about 2 minutes instead of 2 days, and emailed the records of my visit to my regular doctor so that she could have a full history also. Then I stepped out of the exam room, walked 20 paces up to the front of the store, and had my prescription filled. I was very impressed. Finally! A doctor for lazy, busy, doctor-phobic people like me!

I understand that Walgreen's has a similar kind of thing going also. Maybe others do too...I don't know. But I think it's a fabulous idea. They don't treat everything...just easy stuff like colds and allergies and bladder infections (there's a list on the website) but they do seem to cover all the little things that are annoying but not really worth the hassles of trying to get in to see a regular doctor. And sure, at first it seems a little weird to be sitting in a room discussing the color of your urine while knowing there's a woman requesting one hour photo processing and a stock boy jostling a new case of lipstick on the other side of the door, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Plus, I am all about the one-stop shopping, and I needed some new lipstick anyway.

So, even though I am not the official CVS Minute Clinic spokesperson (yet...Hint hint CVS people. Loyalty for sale here!), nor in any way affiliated with them, I wanted to pass along something good that I discovered in case any of you are also lazy busy doctor-phobes. I highly recommend them (at least the one I went to on Kingston Pike anyway), and especially if you have a bladder infection and need some new lipstick.

Thanksgiving Update

Hello? Anybody here? (sound of lonely echoes). I know, I’ve left you Quirk-less for the entire week, and I completely understand if you’ve taken off for quirkier pastures. It’s just hard to write over a holiday when family is in and we’re eating and playing on the Wii and eating and dragging Christmas decorations out of the attic and eating. And you know how hard it is to type while clutching a fork in one hand and a turkey leg in the other. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even turn the computer on for the past four days. Nope, not even once. I take my dedication to Thanksgiving gluttony very seriously. And as much as I love all of you guys, turkey and gravy and broccoli casserole and mashed potatoes and stuffing and apple pie can pretty much block everything else out.

But now, having sworn that I am too stuffed to ever eat again, I am back. And hopefully, one or two or you are also.

To catch you up to everything that has happened the past few days without boring you to tears, I submit the following to you, in super-condensed format:

Seester and hubby. Apple pie. Brownies. Banana Bread. Stuffing. 18 place settings. Leaf decorations. Turkey. LED candle batteries. Mashed potatoes. Broccoli casserole. Blue Ornaments for $1. Hard to find yeast rolls. 3 bags of ice. Mom. Dad. Grandparents. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Relatives of Relatives. Their friends. More broccoli casserole. Mad Gab. UT Men’s basketball. Gravy. Gravy on biscuits. Gravy on stuffing. Gravy on turkey and mashed potatoes. No more gravy. Laughter. Christmas presents. Saved bows. New clothes. Silly pictures. 1.8 million volt stun gun. Throwing star. Whimsy. Gift cards. Brown boots. Wii games. All you can eat pizza buffet. Dance Dance Revolution. Laughter. Catnip toys. Christmas pictures. Cheese queso. Chips. Turkey pinwheels. Free curly fries. More apple pie. Wii hockey. Cracker barrel. Lima beans. Broccoli casserole leftovers. Measurement from your shoulder to my elbow. Hugs goodbye. Read a book. Take a nap. Last of the broccoli casserole. Already missing the gravy.

I doubt any of that made sense to anyone who wasn’t there, but you get the gist anyway (if nothing else than with my obsession with gravy). And assuming that you’re still out there and I’m not just talking to myself (which would be very lonely indeed), you’re now all caught up on what’s been happening while I was gone. We now return to your regularly scheduled quirky.