Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Lily

Print this pic on letter size paper, fold twice, and you have an Easter card.

I know it's small on screen. The inside says, "It wouldn't be Easter without a Lily."

Spring in My Step

As I have mentioned in other posts, my relatives in St. Marys, PA, are all about celebrating holidays. I do not know why this area of the country should be so into holidays, but it is, and so am I.

In St. Marys, people will exhibit outdoor holiday decorations just about every month of the year, not just during the Christmas season. For example, when I was travelling through the area at the end of January 2009, I saw outdoor decorations for Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, the Steelers (who would go on to win the Super Bowl that weekend), and more than a few leftovers from Christmas. (Hey, it’s cold up there, and you can’t blame some people if they are reluctant to risk their lives against killer falling icicles just to take down their string lights.)

Now, anyone can put up a seasonal house or garden flag. But in St. Marys, we saw a house with a glowing red heart in every single window. My husband said, “Hmmm, things are starting to make sense.” Now he knows why I fret when Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year, and the Olympics occur on the same day. Now he has more sympathy for my earring crack habit.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Drink on Uncle Lushwell

I have the best aunts and uncles in the world. It’s just that I have so many of them that a few of them are bound to be noteworthy. My parents each had seven or eight siblings. One of my faves was my mom’s brother Bill, who used to tell us to call him “Uncle Lushwell.”

How to describe Uncle Bill? Kind of a lovable, hapless guy that you couldn’t help but like. Probably never hurt a flea in his life. Often had a unique way of looking at things and was always ready to tell you about it over a beer. At one point, he was governor of the local Moose Lodge. He was fond of such sayings as, “Gull-dang,” “squeeze the sponge,” and “Jeepers Cripes O Fridy!”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Your Nose Is Shiny

Once I was out of college for a couple of years, it kind of dawned on me that meeting people takes effort. This was before Internet dating (well, at least I personally didn’t have a computer at home); I’d already learned it was not such a good idea to date coworkers; and I didn’t think a church would be the place for me to meet like-minded people. So I thought maybe I’d take a class.

Naturally, the class that I decided to take - in order to meet people - was in Klingon...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

High School French Girls

After English and Pig Latin, the next language I attempted to master was French. I was probably in my third year of it when my friend Shawn started hanging out with the French girls in our high school. Shawn was a year younger than me, which meant she needed me to drive her around to the parties. Or in this case, she needed me to drive her and three French girls to a party.

In the car, whatever we said was in English, and Shawn did most of the talking. Even though I knew some French, I was not really confident in attempting to use it in real life, and plus I am an introvert. I think some of the French girls were kind of introverted, too, or maybe just not very confident with their English.

Well, we got to the typical high school house party in middle class suburbia, thrown by and/or mostly populated with some dumb high school boys.

Dumb drunk guys + French girls = blog post...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mug of Guinness

I make cards with images borrowed from the interwebs. Please don't sue me; it's not like I sell them. Not sure if this will work, but perhaps you can download and print the image onto 8.5 x 11 paper, fold twice, and voilà - you can print your own greeting card. As the image may be too small and upside-down for you to read, it says, "In honour of St. Patrick's Day...I thought you might enjoy a mug of Guinness!"

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ring of Fire

There we were on our honeymoon in a pub at an inn in Newtonmore, Scotland, enjoying a draught, soaking up our surroundings. It was a rather small pub, but things were picking up. It was a Friday night, and most of the patrons seemed to be happy to be able to relax and start their weekends. “Live” entertainment was provided, meaning there was a guy playing guitar and singing along to a karaoke machine. It was kind of weird.

My First Concert

My first concert was Adam Ant in January 1983. I was 13, and my 12-year old friend Shawn had won tickets from the radio station. It was at Raleigh’s Civic Center downtown, and I managed to get my 20-year-old brother Tom to drive us.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Survey This, Pentagon

Please enjoy this email exchange between the Pentagon and a disgruntled Army wife (namely, me, while my husband was deployed in Iraq).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Otto’s Headlights

I used to own a 1998 Volkswagen New Beetle. His name was Otto. Otto von Wolfsburg.

I loved Otto. He wanted to be a good car. He had sweet little quirks, like he’d start playing music unexpectedly, and it would always turn out to be something I needed to hear, like Mozart to soothe my nerves in traffic. Unfortunately, Otto’s manufacturers did not put him together right, and I was constantly having to take him to the hospital. One day I worked it out mathematically to prove to my friends I wasn’t exaggerating. I really did have to take him to the shop, whether for oil changes, malfunctioning windows, or an exploding battery, at least every 1.6 months.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


One lovely September morn, after I dropped off my husband at work, I decided my hunger was significant enough to hit a fast food drive-thru before reluctantly continuing on to my own job. I was driving across a mostly desolate (at that hour), vast parking lot of a nearby shopping center, when my morning-fogged brain registered two sensory inputs at the same time:

1) My phone was buzzing.
2) There was a corpse in the shrubbery.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Matt from Wine Class

Please enjoy this email exchange between myself and Matt from wine class. ...

Monday, March 8, 2010

He Slimed Me - Childhood Department Store-y #1

It was Christmastime in Raleigh and I was seven years old. I had three older brothers, all six and seven years older than me, and a no-nonsense mom who needed to get some Christmas shopping done. Sometime after supper, she announced she was headed to King’s Department Store.

“I wanna go!” we all pleaded, and despite her usual protestation of “I ain’t takin’ sixty-eight kids to the store with me!” (it was always "sixty-eight" with Mom, for some reason), we all climbed into the olive green 1971 Ford Torino and headed to King’s. ...


At the age of 27, I was working at an educational testing company, when the president offered me a new position. It had been determined that someone needed to be in charge of writing proposals full-time, so that we could win more government contracts. Prior to that, proposals were written by the president, vice presidents, or various project managers with some help from their administrative assistants. I heard that a particular VP, known for procrastinating, had screwed up and missed a deadline. Thus, a new position was created so that someone (me) would be responsible for gathering and maintaining information from various sources and ensuring that all proposal requirements would be addressed and submitted by their very strict deadlines.

Initially, I enjoyed this position a lot because it drew on my strengths in writing and editing, organizing, and making things look pretty on the page. Unfortunately, it also required herding cats. ...

Baton Rouge & Waitin fer a Plane

As a proposal writer, I was sometimes asked to represent my company at bidders’ conferences. These are often dreadfully boring affairs where you are introduced to officers of the state government department that issued the request for proposal, they present the RFP (which you already have a copy of), and you have the opportunity to ask questions (which you may later also submit in writing). So they are pretty much not very necessary events, although sometimes they are actually required if you want to submit a bid. So on occasion, if the higher-ups in my company had better things to do, they would send me.

One such event came up rather suddenly in Baton Rouge, and I was asked to attend. Due to the short notice, the only available seat on a plane that would get me there in time was in First Class. Oh, no, what a shame! ...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

That Witch We Call a Rose

After my mom died and my dad retired, he surprised the rest of the family by taking up amateur acting. One day, he saw an ad in the paper for a play at a local senior center and decided to audition.

He went up to the reception desk there, and the receptionist gave him some information and answered his questions. She obviously was used to working with senior citizens, as she enunciated very clearly and loudly for the hard-of-hearing.

"If you have any more questions," she said, as she leaned quite dramatically over to one side, "my name is I-LEAN."

"Well, thank you. It's very nice to meet you, Eileen," said my dad while nodding his head up and down emphatically. "My name is Bob."

The Republican at the Door

I never expected I’d marry a military man, but I did. Two and a half months after the ceremony, he deployed to Iraq for a year, leaving me on my own to decipher acronyms and navigate a labyrinth of websites that loop back onto one another while failing spectacularly to provide a shred of assistance to the new wife of an Army Reservist who doesn’t live near a military base. But already I am cursing the Army, and that’s a post for another day. This post is about cursing the party that got us into the war in the first place. …

Friday, March 5, 2010

Things My Boss Says (2008-2009)

I thought I was pretty good at speaking foreign languages, but my boss has so much to teach me. I've been keeping a list of his favorite clichés. I've had it in my tickle file to post for a while now, but I wasn't sure how high to lift the kilt on this. I finally decided to put some lipstick on it and get it out there. Going forward, I'll continue to keep my ear to the ground and touch base with you later with updates. Click "Read more" for the list from 2008-2009.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Cowlossus of Roads

Growing up, I used to take long family car trips almost every summer between North Carolina and Pennsylvania. My mom would keep a list of all the different state license plates we came across along the way. Sometimes, we'd play "Slug Bug!" (or I guess other people call it "Punch-buggy"). But I was in my early 20s when I learned a new travel game from a friend. ...

The Minor League Baseball Team

In a previous life (a few years ago), I was single. One Friday night, I got hold of my company’s tickets to the Durham Bulls minor league baseball game. I invited five friends to join me and left all their tickets at Will Call, because I really enjoy arriving early and relaxing and watching the field crew prep the field. (Plus I was hoping I might be approached before the game by the promotions staff; I’ve always wanted to put on one of those inflated suits and sumo-wrestle one of my friends.)

My company’s seats are a few rows up from the visiting team’s dugout, or as I always like to tell people, “behind the third baseman’s butt.” So I was sitting there enjoying the weather and decided to call my friend Jill, who lived in another state. As I was talking to her, I watched one of the visiting team’s players walking by on the field, and I said, “Jill, I think this guy is looking at me.”…

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Magic Wanda

This potion is based on a drink called the Magic Woman that I found while browsing a cocktail recipe website. It's very refreshing. And, of course, purple.

The Magic Wanda

1 oz light rum
1 oz gin
1 oz Marie Brizard Parfait Amour
1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2 oz Sprite

Serve on the rocks in a tall highball glass.

My Super Groundhog Weekend

Although I have lived most of my life in Raleigh, NC, I was born in a small town in the northwest/central part of Pennsylvania called St. Marys. (The lack of apostrophe bothers me, but they don’t seem to miss it there.)I moved away when I was three, but all of my mother’s family still lives there, although several aunts and uncles have passed away. Many of my father’s family live in Indiana, PA (childhood home of Jimmy Stewart), which is about 1½ to 2 hours away from St. Marys. In order to get from St. Marys to Indiana, you go through the town of Punxsutawney, home of the world famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.

Although I had passed through Punxsutawney several times on summertime road trips with my family, I had never been there for Groundhog Day....