Category: Random Ridiculosity


I made it! 30 blogs in 30 days! It hasn’t been easy – some nights I didn’t get to bed until after midnight because I hadn’t blogged yet, and some days I had no idea what I’d write about until I sat down and actually started to write it – but it’s DONE! Just in the nick of time, too – I’m leaving on Saturday morning for a trip to North Carolina to visit family, so I’ll be too busy to blog for awhile. Hopefully, though, I’ll have some more interesting things to write about when I get back.

I started another mini “challenge” on Thanksgiving, too…run or walk at least 1 mile a day, every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. So far, I’ve kept that one up, too. Saturday should be interesting, though. I have to leave for the airport at 7am and don’t arrive in Raleigh until about 8:45pm, so I’ll need to get up extra early to get my mile in that day.

Dinah has come and plopped herself down on my chest as I try to type this, which I guess is her way of saying it’s time for bed. Hey, it’s not even 11pm yet for a change! Thanks for hanging in with me these last 30 days, folks. I’ll try not to go another 3 years between blogs!

Up until 3 years ago, I have always lived in the ‘burbs, somewhere partway between Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. No matter what you wanted, you could usually find it without driving more than 10 or 15 minutes in any given direction. The city I lived in had a population of over 15,000 and the county overall was over 300,000 people crammed into about 253 square miles. My how things have changed…

Here on the Oregon Coast, things are a lot fewer and farther between. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have Safeway, Fred Meyer, a movie theater (with 1 screen), and several restaurants all within 10 miles…but Target? Nope. No Walmart, either. And a shopping mall? Forget it. The closest of any of those is an hour and a half drive over the Coastal Range to the Portland metro area. The population of the town I’m in now? Around 400. The entire county has a population of a little over 25,000 people, spread over 1,333 square miles.

So, long story short, I live in a pretty small town, which is a new experience for me. I’ve gone from not knowing the first names of the people across the hall from me to knowing the first and last names of everyone in my neighborhood. (Of course, the fact that I manage the HOA has helped with that.) We have weekly dinners at the local watering hole where anyone that’s around is welcome to show up. Everybody knows everybody. Sometimes it’s a little annoying that everybody knows your business, but occasionally, it works in your favor.

We’ve got a flagpole outside my office that flies the US flag. Two or three months ago, I noticed that the edge of the flag seemed to be fraying a little, so I ordered a new flag. (Out in the boonies, you learn pretty quickly that Amazon Prime is your friend…so my flag was there in 2 or 3 days.) Once it arrived, I went out to remove the old flag, only to discover that it wouldn’t lower. One thing our town has in excess is wind, and at some point, the flag must have blown over the top of the pole so that the rope was wrapped around it. It would only lower as far as the crossbar, but no further.

I talked to one of the local contractors who does a lot of work in our neighborhood. He didn’t have a ladder that was tall enough that wouldn’t have to lean against the (not very sturdy) flag pole…but he could set up scaffolding. That seemed like an extreme option to me, to be used only as a last resort. I started to look for alternatives.

I called the local Fire Department to see if they could come out with their truck when they weren’t busy. The Fire Chief (reluctantly) agreed to send someone, but after a month, I figured they’d either forgotten about me or just didn’t want to do it. Next option.

I talked to one of the local electricians who came to my office to pick up someone’s house key. Their company has a bucket truck, and he promised to talk to the guy who runs it about coming by with it to help me out. I let him know that I was appreciative, and fully intended to pay him for his time. Another two or three weeks went by, and no one ever came out, so I thought they’d forgotten about me. Now what?

At this point, the slightly frayed edge of the flag was starting to resemble something Francis Scott Key may have seen flying over Fort McHenry after it was bombarded by the British. There was now a growing hole which tended to get caught on the gaff when the wind blew.

A conversation with our consulting Arborist revealed that one of the local tree service companies that did a lot of work for us had recently purchased a bucket truck. As a last resort, I sent him an email begging for help. He called me a few hours later and said that he would come by within the next few days when he was working nearby. That was a week ago.

This afternoon, I got a call from the electrician from a couple of weeks ago. Apparently he’d been out drinking recently with the tree guy, who’d mentioned that he was planning to come and help me out. Tree guy gave electrician guy grief for not coming out to do it 2 weeks ago. It then turned into a race between the two of them to see who would come out and do it first. Electrician guy won – he came out today and was able to get the flag down, and I successfully installed the new one.

I sent an email to the tree guy, thanking him for goading the other guy into coming out. Come to find out, the electrician is the tree guy’s brother-in-law. Who knew?

We’re coming into the home stretch in this month of daily blogging…which, of course, means that I really have to reach to come up with a topic at this point. Today, I found a list of 50 writing prompts, and decided to go with, “Write about the day you left home.”

In April of 1990, I was 20 years old. I was a full-time college student at the University of Maryland, College Park studying accounting, and worked full time at a women’s clothing store. I was also engaged to be married, and the date was set for June 30th. In addition to all of this, I was still living at home, at my mother’s request (insistence).

My fiance had recently gotten out of the Air Force and was living in the apartment that we would share after the wedding. Not having any furniture of his own yet, we moved my bedroom furniture into the apartment, leaving me to spend my last few single months sleeping on a cot. Does anyone see a problem here? I sure did!

I contributed towards the rent and bills. Whenever I wasn’t working or at school, I was at the apartment – at least until my 11pm curfew rolled around…then it was back home to my cot. This went on until Spring Break, when I got an idea.

My mom stopped me as I came up the stairs from my basement bedroom, packed duffel bag in hand.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Going on Spring Break,” was my reply.

“Where are you going?”

“To my apartment.”

Two or three weeks later, the phone rang at my apartment. It was mom.

“You’re not coming home, are you?”

Nope.

I decided to jump on the Alexa train a couple of months ago, mostly because I like the idea of telling my house what to do. I ordered 3 of the echo dots…one for the living room, one for my gym and one for my bedroom. My mother took one look at the living room dot and wrinkled up her nose. [She did the same thing 2 1/2 years ago when I presented her with her first smart phone. Now, I challenge you to catch her without it in her hand!]

I spent the next few days asking Alexa stupid questions and then cursing at her when she didn’t know the answer. I set her up to play my Pandora stations or my mother’s Amazon Prime music. I only accidentally ordered something on my mother’s Amazon account once before deciding that it would probably be a good idea for us to adjust our settings so that a 4 digit code was needed for voice ordering. Alexa helped me with my shopping and to-do lists, started serving as my morning wake-up alarm, and would remind me of things whenever asked. But still, I wanted more.

My mother went out of town for 2 weeks, and I took the opportunity to switch out the lightbulbs in the living room for smart bulbs. I also had a smart switch installed to control the porch lights. In my bedroom, another smart bulb went in one lamp, and smart plugs were installed for my nightstand lamp and my fan. It was a start.

Mom came back from her trip and promptly rolled her eyes at the smart bulbs. That night, I went to bed before she did. She told me the next morning that she’d had to turn the livingroom lights off at the switch, because when she said, “Ok Google, turn off the lights,” nothing happened. Well, it wouldn’t, if you insist on asking the competition. Alexa and Google are arch enemies.

Now, 2 weeks later, she’s pointing out other places in the house that need smart lights. I even heard her on the phone the other evening, admitting to her friend that she “thought it was stupid at first, but now I kinda like it.” Score one for me! I wonder what she’ll say when I bring home the smart thermostat and the outdoor security camera….

Have you ever misplaced something, and you know without a doubt that it *has* to be somewhere in your house, and yet, you can’t find it anywhere? That happened this weekend with Rollo’s collar. I know it was on the kitchen counter on Thursday afternoon before our Thanksgiving company arrived, but beyond that, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I’d done with it.

I searched all of the usual places, multiple times. The hall table drawer where I keep his leashes? No. The basket in the pantry that holds the dog treats (and other various doggie paraphernalia? Nope. Out in the garage where I’d dumped all of my wet stuff after returning from our rainy walk early Thursday afternoon? Not there, either. Nor was it in the laundry room, my bedroom, my office, or my bathroom. I know, because I checked…multiple times. It was just gone.

It got to the point where I wondered if one of our dinner guests had possibly picked it up…by mistake, of course…certainly not in a “serial killer taking a trophy” kind of way. At least, I hoped not.

This went on all weekend. I would periodically go through the house re-checking all of the places I’d already looked, hoping that it would magically appear, to no avail. Then, it happened. My bathroom epiphany.

Does anyone else do this? I’m sitting there on the throne, minding my own business. I’m not thinking of anything in particular, and certainly not thinking about that missing collar. Suddenly, I have this fleeting memory of driving to the convenience store on Friday afternoon to get myself a caffeinated beverage. I grabbed the thought by the tail and held on tight, before it could get away. Rollo – hating to be left behind – had gone along for the ride. Maybe he hadn’t been wearing his collar when he’d jumped into the back of the car, and I’d instinctively grabbed it and brought it along, just in case. I had no recollection of doing this, but it seemed plausible. I hurriedly finished what I was doing, so I could go check the car.

It was there!

It made me think about how often things like that happen. I’ll be doing something mundane like using the bathroom, taking a shower, or even driving a familiar route, and will suddenly remember where a lost item is, or have a flash of insight that solves a problem I’ve been having. I guess that when you’re performing a task that requires no real thought or concentration, your brain is free to run some higher level problem-solving processes in the background.

So, the next time you can’t find your car keys, try taking a dump, and see if that helps!

 

Yeah, I know….late again. Technically, it’s day 26, since it’s after midnight. Get over it. (It’s going to be a short one, too, so while you’re getting over things…)

I am a firm believer that you can learn pretty much *anything* on the internet. Whatever you need to know, Google will help you find the answers you seek. Here are just a few things that I learned from a Google search:

  • How to properly hard wire a digital thermostat when the wire colors in the wall didn’t match anything in the instruction booklet that came with the thermostat.
  • How to reprogram the garage door wireless keypad
  • How to disassemble the shower drain so that I could clean it out
  • How to get the display on my mother’s laptop to show right-side-up after she’d somehow managed to turn it sideways
  • How to get the duvet cover on my king-sized comforter in less than an hour and a half
  • How to put on a wig (it was a Halloween costume thing…)
  • How to slice an onion without crying (freeze it first, or submerge it in a pan of water when slicing)
  • How to properly cook Bratwurst
  • How to get the Chromecast to stop interfering with the house WiFi
  • Should I be concerned that my dog just ate a rock?
  • How the hell do you pronounce “carabiner”?
  • Just what is the familial relationship between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, anyway? (Spoiler alert, she’s his aunt. Eww.)
  • How on earth do you tie the drawstring in a pair of sweats when it’s all one continuous loop?
  • What are kippers?
  • Can I give my dog kennel cough if I pet another dog who has it and then pet him? (Yep)
  • Can I take mini liquor bottles on a plane? (YES!)
  • How do I view my Google search history (so I can write my Day 25 blog)?

Happy Thanksgiving, Internet peeps. I hope that you all had a great holiday, full of fun and food, family and friendship. Before I haul my overly-full, slightly tipsy ass upstairs to bed, I just wanted to share a few things that I learned today…

  • When it’s Human vs. 8 month old Newfoundland puppy, the puppy will win. Every time. (That’s gonna leave a mark!) Good thing we were on the beach when she knocked me on my butt.
  • You know how there’s always that one friend who has a little too much to drink and then runs around trying to hump everyone else’s leg at the party? That’s *my* dog when he gets together with other dogs on the beach.
  • Thanksgiving: that day when I finally hang every wall hanging and picture that I’ve bought over the last year, just in case one of the guests wants to see the house.
  • If someone is complaining about how awful the potato peeler is and you find not one but TWO other potato peelers in a drawer *after* they’ve already finished peeling 5 pounds of potatoes…just keep it to yourself. Trust me.
  • That electric wine bottle opener from Amazon.com is the best $22 I ever spent.
  • Don’t ever let your relatives use your account to browse Facebook…unless you want everyone on your friend’s list to see “Your Name Here likes the page PoleFreaks – a Pole Dance Community” pop up on their timeline.
  • The only reason it occasionally stops raining on the Oregon Coast is so that people can see how dusty their house has gotten since the last sunny day.

That’s all I got – goodnight everyone!

9 days left to go on this daily blogging challenge, and this is what it’s come to, folks. Real life photographs that illustrate some of my favorite tv shows and movies…

The Walking Dead

 

Outlander

 

Game of Thrones

 

50 Shades of Grey

 

Rocky

 

The White Princess

 

Lost

 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we’re having company over…I hope for all your sakes that someone does or says something funny!

My subscription to Ancestry.com also included an account on newspapers.com, which (DUH) is an archive of old newspapers from around the country. I haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of exploring just yet, but so far I’ve learned a few things:

  1. If you lived in a relatively small town, the local newspaper would print ALL OF YOUR BUSINESS for the world to see. I spent an hour or so browsing The Gettysburg Times, The Pittsburgh Daily Post, and a few other Pennsylvania newspapers. The community sections of each paper described who had parties that week and listed the names of the guests that attended, who was out of town visiting relatives (nowadays, that would just be an open invitation for someone to break in to your house) and who had company in from out of town, and even discussed who had been hospitalized and who had just been released.
  2. My grandfather got a speeding ticket in the 1950’s for exceeding the 25 mph limit on whatever road he was traveling. He had to pay a fine of $6.54.
  3. My great-grandfather was knocked down by a bull in 1954 and kicked by a cow in 1956.
  4. They just don’t write newspaper articles like they used to.

I came across an article published in the Pittsburgh Press on February 8, 1913. I love it so much, I can hardly stand it. The headline alone makes me grin like an idiot:

posse1

Isn’t that the best? I had to google “yeggs” to learn that a yegg is a safecracker,  but as far as headlines go, it’s wonderfully dramatic. It sucks you in and makes you want to read more. That same headline in today’s paper would be a much more mundane, “Thieves Elude Local Authorities,” or something equally dry. Gag. Who cares? I wanna know more about the hot fight with the posse!

posse2

After the subtitles, I’m that much more intrigued. What were the burglars looking for in the post office? Tell me more about this automobile dash! And WTF IS A SLEIGHING PARTY?

posse3

I’m pretty sure it’s English, but it’s like a whole other language. My favorite phrase here is “shot their way to liberty.”

posse4

So while the one cop in town is trying to pick off the bad guys with a .22, the women in this drama are sitting in the hotel bar fainting “with the regularity of the pins in a bowling game.” Sounds a little more sanitary than “dropping like flies” at least. And if this is all happening at 2am, why are they eating luncheon?

posse5

Basically, a woman heard an explosion at the post office across the street from her home. She called the only cop in town, who then proceeded to walk into a hotel bar at 2am to recruit some back-up. That’s where my family comes into the story. Ivan Odbert was my great-grandfather (around 20 years old at the time) and Francis was his younger brother (around 18). The cop comes in and says, “Hey, I have some guys trying to blow up a safe, and they’re probably armed. I could use some help…what do you say?” I can just picture it…a bunch of guys, half lit and ready to show off for their women, looking at each other, shrugging and saying, “Ok!”

posse6

Once again, I’m left with more questions than answers. What were all of those sleighing party guys – including my ancestors – doing while this poor bastard constable ran back and forth between the doors with his sad little .22? (and is anyone else imagining an episode of Keystone Cops here?) Why is the local doctor packing so much heat? Who the hell is William Stevens, and where did HE come from???

posse7

THANK GOD THEY DIDN’T GET THE BOOTY! But, I would like to know what the blankets were for….I like to imagine that the yeggs were going to have a moonlight picnic after they’d secured their booty, but maybe that’s just me…

Today is my mother’s birthday, so I figured I would tell you a little story about her, in her honor. (Plus, it’s getting late, and I can’t think of anything else to write about at the moment.) Happy Birthday, Mom!

I’ve told this story before, so forgive me if you’ve heard it.

Once upon a time, long, long ago – sometime in June 2000 – I went to my mom’s house for dinner. Meal concluded, my daughter and stepfather left the table, leaving my mother and I alone. Here’s how the conversation went:

Mom: Something’s going to happen on August 29th.

Me: What? To whom?

Mom: I don’t know.

Me: Something good or something bad?

Mom: I don’t know.

Me: Where is this something going to happen?

Mom: Don’t know that, either.

Me: (Ever the skeptic) Ok, so you’re telling me that on August 29th, something that might be good or might be bad is going to happen to someone somewhere? Way to go out on a limb there with your prediction.

Mom: (With that “mom” look in her eye that means, “Shut up now, if you want dessert.”) Look, I don’t know. I just feel like I’m supposed to tell you about it. That’s all I know.

Since I did want dessert, I shut up. The conversation turned to other subjects and mom’s “prediction” was all but forgotten.

Several weeks later, I arrived home from work after a long day at an out-of-town meeting. It was hellishly hot outside, and I’d had quite a long drive home through rush hour traffic, in a car without air conditioning. I wanted nothing more in life than a cool shower…and maybe a nap. But first, I stopped by my PC to check my email.

Glancing through my messages, one in particular caught my eye. I opened it up and began to read.

“Congratulations! You are the grand prize winner in the X-Files X-Props Summer Sweepstakes. As you may recall, the grand prize is a trip for 2 to Los Angeles, California to visit the set of the X-Files…”

Huh. This couldn’t possibly be real, could it? I mean, yes, I did vaguely remember entering the sweepstakes, but no one ever really wins those things, do they? I picked up the phone and dialed my mother. “Listen to this email I just got…”

After reading her the email, I asked, “What do you think? Is this for real, or is it just some kind of marketing ploy?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “But I hope for your sake it’s real. It sounds great!”

After a few minutes, we ended the call. I was in the middle of reading the email through for the 3rd or 4th time when my phone rang. Without preamble – and sounding VERY smug – my mother asked, “What’s today’s date?”

It was August 29th. And yes, I did win the grand prize.