Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Here I am again and thanks for stopping by.

First things first, I was tagged by Janet (who has a wonderful blog and you should go there, by the way) to come up with 6 things I'm proud of. I will do this Janet, but it's gonna take some thinkin'. My therapist would love this. At our first session she assigned me homework--3 of my weaknesses and 3 of my strengths. Guess which one was easier for me. But I will post it soon.

Now onto the catching up. We've been pretty busy around here. Whew! Yep, busy, busy, busy. For example, it takes so much time out of my day to have to flip channels on a TV without a guide. I've never been much of a flipper; I just go to the channel I want or I pull up the guide on the TV and look through it rather than flipping. But flip I do, and I can never remember which channels are where. Oh sure, I could write them down somewhere, but it's such a nice little procrastination tool that I think I'll keep flipping around.

I've been taking Al into work so that I can have the car and taking Cosette to one of the city parks in the mornings. She loves running around in the grass and among the trees, hunting squirrels. She's going to pull my arm out of its socket one of these days.

I have a new phone. Yep, we caved and got iPhones. Wow is it cool! I mean, super-duper even I feel like a techie cool. Plus I downloaded a Mahjong game for free, which probably wasn't a great idea because it's a better procrastination tool than flipping channels. There is so much it can do that I had to take a class at the store to learn more about it. The best thing? The sound is so clear when I'm talking to others and my battery lasts long enough that I can have a conversation without saying "My battery is running low, so if I stop talking you'll know what happened." And that's just the phone part, which I don't use that often because you know how I hate talking on the phone. It's amazing to be in the car (as a passenger) and be able to pull up the internet to find an address then plot it on the Maps, choosing to show traffic (red line means there's a back up) because like I said before, traffic is a huge issue here.

My brain hasn't caught up with it all yet. It's also the first time I've had a camera on my phone, and that's pretty cool. Here are a couple of pictures of Cosette on the beach.

Cosette and a crab. This one she didn't eat.

I love this photo. It's dusk and there's a storm on the Eastern Islands. We didn't get anything, but we could see the storm across the bay.

I also caved and bought an iron skillet. I couldn't stand it any more. The "nonstick" stuff in the other pans was peeling off into our food. Ew. This little 10-inch pan does everything I need it to do. I'm making beans and cornbread for the weekend! Mmmmmm cornbread.

On the tourist front, we got the most amazing opportunity. We toured a submarine! How cool is that? Let me tell you, very cool. I wish I could show you pictures, but I don't think it's a good idea. We could only take photos in certain areas, so to play it safe, I'll just tell you about it. As you would imagine, it was very close quarters, with lots of narrow steps/ladder configurations. The crew members works 12 hours, then have 2 days off. Anyone can do any job, even the Commander can step in and do any job if there's a problem. Except one--the medic. There's only 1 (on a crew of around 140 for this sub) and he isn't a doctor. He has some medical training, and he handles all the medical issues that come up, from a cold to an appendectomy. If that was my job, I'd spend all my time in that little room praying "Please don't let anyone get sick. Please don't let anyone get sick." At one point the guy giving us the tour told us that we were so many feet under water on that level. I could have gone all day without hearing that. I had done pretty well with ignoring that little necessity in taking part in this tour. But it was really amazing and I have a renewed appreciation for what they do.

Let's see. Oh, I've continued reading the cozies. A friend of mine sent me Mary Kruger's knitting mysteries for good beach reading. I just finished Dyed in the Wool and will read the next one, but I think I'll stop there. The mysteries are pretty good and well plotted out, but her writing drives me crazy. It's very repetitive, stilted and her dialogue is horrible. I think she was trying to capture "real life" dialogue, but that never works because "real life" is repetitive and boring. But I do enjoy the whole knitting theme; it makes me want to put down the book and knit.

Lastly, who needs a Cosette update? I know, I so rarely talk about her. We had a horrible yet quick storm a few days ago. There was booming thunder, crackling lightening, and flash flooding, all while we were at the mall. I was concerned about Cosette because she gets really anxious during storms like that, so I was happy when we got back to the condo. We had to search for her; she had found a little hidey hole in the space between the couch and the wall.

Poor baby. But she was fine, so I was relieved that she at least found a place to go. I don't know why she didn't go into her kennel. She likes to sleep in there, but she walked right past it to sit between the wall and the couch. Hm.

Anyway, here are a few more pictures for ya.

Boy, that pizza sure does look good.

Just because the dishes are in the dishwasher doesn't mean they're off limits.


One last thing, just something to think about. I may post something serious about this some time, but right now I'm still just thinking about it. The NY Times ran an article, "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading" (you may have to register to read it). There's quite the hub bub about if reading forums, blogs, fan fiction, and other internet stuff is a good substitute for reading books for kids. I won't go into all of it right now, but I will quote the 16 year old who spends hours and hours on fan fiction:

Nadia said she wanted to major in English at college and someday hopes to be published. She does not see a problem with reading few books. “No one’s ever said you should read more books to get into college,” she said.

OK, let me be the first to say, "You should read more books to get into college."

Later y'all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Some Random Thoughts

Well, I have some photos of Yorktown Battlefield that I toured with Al and his class, but I haven't typed up any info yet. I've been staying really busy so I haven't had a chance; oh OK, so I haven't been exactly busy--I've been driving around looking for different shops and walking the dog in our favorite park. She has a little Beagle friend named Gracie, who is always as excited as Cosette to be there. Actually, Gracie and Cosette couldn't care less, but I'm enjoying having Gracie's mom to talk to.

We've also toured the naval museum and the Wisconsin battleship that is docked in Norfolk. I'll post about that, too, later. This tourist attraction is free! But if you want to see it, better do it soon because the Navy has told the city they are not going to keep putting money into the upkeep, so Norfolk is going to buy it. A good guess is that it will no longer be free when the city gets it.

I love museums, so we also went to the Ocean View (the neighborhood we're living in) Museum. It was a little sad because you wouldn't believe how much used to be here. It was called "The Atlantic City of the South" because of the roller coasters, the pier, the restaurants, the salt water taffy shops, the ice cream shops, and so many community activities. It's all gone now, except for the pier, where they, I kid you not, charge you a dollar to look around and $8 to fish off the pier. There is a bandstand and they have live music on Friday nights in July, which is cool, though.

It's wonderful renting a totally furnished condo to stay in so we didn't have to bring anything but our clothes. Hell, there's even a crockpot and a blender. But I wish I had brought my iron skillet. Is that a true Southerner, or what? I also like to think it's a true cook, because the cheap pots and pans are driving me crazy. They're usable, though, and I can work with it. I do, however, have to put aluminum foil in all the baking pans because they are so rusty. Ew. It's also been a long time since I've used a gas stove and I'm kind of afraid of that sucker. It won't turn on, it won't turn on, it won't turn on, just click click click, then Whoosh! We have flames!

Cosette had a trip to the groomer and they cut her pretty short. That's what I wanted, so it's OK. She's much easier to keep clean and to get those stickers off her. We left her head and tail fuzzy, so when she lifts her ears and cocks her head, she looks like one of those dinosaurs whose skin fans around it before it spits acid at you. I'll try to capture it in a photo.

Al has to play softball with his seminar group (there are 14 groups of 18 people in each seminar group). The military always feels obliged to have some kind of team sports requirement. He played volleyball when he first got in, then he played some version of flag football, then group runs and racquetball. Now softball. I was more than a little concerned because men his age are usually retired from these sports. He's played ultimate frisbee with people from work, and everyone has ended up injured--Al with a broken thumb, one guy with a broken nose, one with a broken arm, another with a pulled tendon, and one who almost broke his ankle. So, I went to the first softball game so that I could drive anyone to the emergency room. But I needn't worry. This is politically correct softball. A game lasts only an hour or 7 innings, whichever comes first. You get 3 pitches and someone from your team pitches to you while the opposing team is on the bases, in the field, and as catcher. There are 4 practice games, then everyone is in the tournament. Luckily, Al's group isn't gung ho and they really don't care--just having fun. Their first game was against the high ranking officers who are shooting for general and admiral, so they are even older than Al's group. One of the guys said to his team member, "What was that sound? Was that war cry or a did you pull a muscle?" So, they're having a good time with it.

I went to the first game, but I'm going to sit out the next one. Unfortunately, the heat has arrived. I can do anything up to the low 90s, then I have to be careful, and it's getting close to 100. So, I'll be enjoying the comforts of air conditioning. It's pretty weird and a little frustrating. I was outside at Yorktown all day and got pretty hot, but never really felt too bad--I mean MS bad. None of the MS symptoms bothered me. But today? Lordy. I was out walking Cosette and I had to get her back in so I could sit down. My left leg is tingling, the pain in my cheek is back, and there are muscle spasms in my left arm and leg, with spasticity (where the muscles tighten up to the point I'm afraid they are going to snap). It could be so much worse. I have a friend with MS who looses her ability to walk when she gets overheated. She has to be carried somewhere to cool off and rest. Once she cools off, she starts getting feeling in her legs again. So, I'm thankful that my little piddlin' tingles are all I have to get through.

My goodness but I've just rambled on and on. I sat down with nothing to say, then look what happened.

Oh, one more thing. We have a dog with gourmet taste. I made gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce, and as we were cleaning up the kitchen, Cosette licked the sauce off the plate. She likes smelly cheese. Who would've thunk it. Al and I weren't real wild about it.

Speaking of Cosette, she has her head near my lap and is whimpering in soft, high pitch. I'm not sure what she wants, but I'm going to close this and find out. I'll tell her "Show me!" and she'll lead me to what she wants, either to the kitchen for a treat or downstairs to go out. She's got me trained real well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

While I Was Away

I thought I'd take a break from the Virginia stuff to let you in on what I was doing all those months I wasn't blogging.

I attended WhiskyFest in Chicago. I really came into my own regarding the water of life. We had a wonderful time with a group from the Dundee Dell.

This is George Grant from Glenfarclas. We love Glenfarclas.

Worked with other women in my quilt group to make a Nebraska quilt for the coordinator of the group who is moving. The center pinwheel blades are in the shape of the state of Nebraska. We made it with scraps from other quilts we made as a group, plus from our stash. I love this quilt and am thinking of making one of my own.

Bought a new car--a '93 Honda Element. It was in excellent condition and had less than 60,ooo miles. I love this car.

Had a birthday.

Worked with the women in the quilt group to make a quilt for Habitat for Humanity.

Cleaned a lot of mud off the dog

Knitted a bag holder--one of those that you pull bags from the bottom.

Knitted a Log Cabin baby blanket for my new cousin.

I'm knitting while here in Virginia, too, and will get some pictures up later. I've made a Christmas stocking and am making a scarf for Al (black, plain, simple black so he can wear it with his uniform) and a market bag. I'm trying to decide between the stockings or market bags for Christmas gifts.

I also read a lot during my break, mostly cozies. I'm still reading the Hamish MacBeth mysteries by MC Beaton and I read a few of the China Bayles mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert, but I kind of lost interest in those. While I'm here in the condo, I'm still reading the cozies. Funny that I used to tease my mother about reading those because they are all the same, but it's all I have patience for right now, and they are pretty enjoyable. But there are a lot of great used bookstores here, and I think I'll get some other books.

Anyone got any suggestions? What are you reading?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Paradise Lost

A few weeks in Virginia and I’m still feeling a little limboesque (yes, I made that word up, but I couldn’t think of a real word that describes how I feel). It’s to be expected; I’m only a visitor here, after all. But it’s really odd. It’s like a vacation at home. I mean, sure, there’s a beautiful view outside the bedroom window and a beach to walk on, but there’s still groceries to buy, bills to pay, meals to cook, rooms to clean, a dog to walk, TV channels to flip through—and all in a different time zone. There’s no freedom from responsibility that you get when you’re on vacation, no release from the daily stuff, which is one of the things I really like about vacations. It’s a lot like real life, and that’s a little disappointing.

I know I sound ungrateful, but you’re just going to have to believe me when I tell you that this is not paradise. Paradise doesn’t include daily, 7-mile back ups on bridges and tunnels. Nor does paradise have to have it’s own 24-hour TV channel devoted to traffic. Granted, we are not living on the touristy side of the area, which can be a good thing. It’s kind of like having a private beach, which is very cool. I’ve been told this is because we are on the bay side, not the ocean side, like Virginia Beach is. Apparently it’s crazy over on their beaches and is always packed. So, the good news is, we aren’t overrun with people here; the bad news is that it’s not grown up with things like shops and restaurants that you can easily walk to, which is a big deal on the days when your husband takes the only car. Not that I mind hermitting in the condo, but I’m the kind of person who could easily hermit every day, so I have to make myself get out and get among people so that I stop talking to my dog as if she comprehends everything I say.

Also, it isn’t the greatest neighborhood. It’s kind of bizarre because there are some really, really nice places not only on the beach side, as you would expect, but also across the street, interspersed with places not so nice. So there will be a $450,000 house (for sale) next to a row of run-down places with “Beware of Dog” and “No Trespassing” signs on their gates. When I walk Cosette around there, I have to be diligent about where she walks because there is a lot of broken glass and trash she wants to investigate and hopefully find something to eat. There are a couple of parks in town that I take her to, but to keep things interesting, I try to take her to different places during the week, and walking around the neighborhood is something different. They do have a large area that is supposedly set to become a park because they condemned the housing that was there originally quite a few years ago. However, the city is dragging their heels because, apparently, they don’t want it to be a park, they want more expensive townhouses and single-unit homes to be built there. Everywhere I look there are large, empty houses with “For Sale—Reduced” signs in the front yard, with a new one going up next door. It’s crazy.

There are some nice areas, of course, and I specialize in finding little gems in a new town. So far, I’ve found a British store that carries my favorite crisps (Walker’s Cheese and Onion) and candy bar (Picnic), plus some other cool things, and I’ve found a pub that is a little piece of Scotland here in Virginia, complete with pub quizzes. We haven’t been for quiz night yet, but I’m hoping we can get in on that. I’ve also found the greatest consignment shop, where I bought a gorgeous handbag made with leather like butta for $54. I never spend that much on a handbag, but what the hell. Oh, and that reminds me. For someone with a tote bag/handbag/purse/backpack/whatever fetish, beach towns are very dangerous because every store has the cutest totes!

In all honesty, I admit to still be working on the whole depression and crankiness thing, and a lot of my frustration is self-inflicted, so someone else coming here for 10 weeks might very well find it to be paradise. I know that if this was in the mountains somewhere, I’d probably be happier because I’m just not a beach/hot weather kind of person. And I’m trying to follow Al’s lead and be positive and let things roll off me, which is really freaky because I used to be the one in that role and Al was the moody one. I don’t like my new role and would like to be recast, please.

I’ll leave you with some pictures of the area around our condo. It looks much nicer in pictures.

The area across from us that could be a park if the city follows through.

Cool gnarly tree

One of the nice houses

The house sits across from this park--this one really designated as a "park"

Another view of the park.

Closely packed in on the beach side. Our condo is on the far right.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Checking In Again

I did warn you these posts could be sporadic. Kind of like the way my brain works.

Thank you for the kind comments welcoming me back, especially those of you stopping by from Jay's blog. Nice to know he has such good blog friends. I still haven't made the rounds to all the blogs I want to, but even if I haven't commented, I have been by.

Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th. I spent most of it with an anxious dog who was pacing and panting. Poor thing. She finally jumped up in Al's lap, then jumped down, then jumped back up beside him and started to calm down. Gotta say I was a little jealous. Luckily, the fireworks aren't as bad here as they are at home in Omaha. Good Lord those people love their fireworks! Plus, a rainstorm came through. That kind of put a damper on things.

So, we're doing a lot of exploring here in Virginia. Mostly we've been to motorcycle shops (for Al), yarn shops (for me), coffee shops, liquor stores, and restaurants. You know, all the important stuff. Oh stop rolling your eyes at me, all that cultural/historical stuff will still be there in a couple of weeks. I'm gettin' to it.

We did go on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and I'm not in any hurry to do that again. It's a little bit of an anxiety attack waiting to happen--A bridge that goes into a tunnel, that comes up into a bridge again, just to go down into another tunnel, and back up onto a bridge into the nothingness of the Eastern Shore. Oh sure, there are cute little Cape villages with pretty marinas full of really nice boats, but if you're thirsty at 10:30 in the morning, all you can do is a get a large sweet tea at Hardee's.

Here are a some pics of the bridge and Cape Charles.

The gap is the tunnel. We're heading for it.

Looks like we're going into the ocean, doesn't it?

Our GPS display in the tunnel. One lone black line amongst the blue.


Ritzy neighborhood in Cape Charles

The marina

Pretty boats


Added to all those thrilling experiences is the almost $20 it costs to drive on that heart-palpitating bridge/tunnel/bridge/tunnel/bridge. We were so far out on the bay that there weren't even any pleasure boats. There were no boats at all.

In other news, I've only eaten fresh steamed seafood once, and I'm very disappointed in myself. My plan was to eat seafood every day. Now I'm behind schedule. But now I have a goal; I mean a goal besides knitting and reading mysteries.

More later. I take my camera where ever I go, but sometimes, the best pictures are right at home: