Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

1. I love this time of year. The Girl Scout Cookies were delivered last week (I am hopelessly addicted to the Thin Mints). I have been informed by the moms of two girls that I am their daughers' best customer.
2. Arizona just added a 7th digit to its license plates. I don't know why I find this interesting, but I do.
3. Last week, I applied for graduation. In the spring, I will have my CCL in Home Furnishings and Materials. I will have my AAS in Interior Design in another year or so.
4. One of the courses I'm taking this semester is Home Upholstery. We use air-powered staple guns for attaching the fabric to our furniture. I am morbidly afraid of all air powered tools. The first time the teacher demonstrated that thing, I hit the deck. Everyone laughed.
5. I've managed to force myself to use the stapler, but I'm still frightened of it. I'm afraid it's going to come to life and shoot up the room...just like in a horror movie.
6. The only thing I don't like about the upholstery class is having to haul all my stuff to and from the classroom every week. I have to carry my project chair and pull a wheeled suitcase full of fabric and tools through campus to the technology building. It's cumbersome, at best. Luckily, the class starts late enough in the evening where I can park in the staff lot.
7. Lucas likes sitting close and watching me type blog posts. He's currently making fun of items 4 and 5.
8. Last week, Lucas couldn't find his favorite jacket. So I gave him one of Kyle's old ones to wear. He wasn't happy, but he wore it anyway. On his way out the door, Lucas turned to me and asserted: "Mom...I blame you for all my mistakes."
9. We eventually found Lucas' jacket. He had left it in the back seat of Q's car...and Q had left for work when we were looking for it.
10. I wish The Adam Carolla Show would return to Phoenix radio. Listening on the Internet is OK, but it's hardly convenient.
11. Weatherwise, late February through mid March is the best time to be living in Phoenix.
12. The daytime highs have been in the upper 70s all week. Q was very nice to let me take the Mustang to school today.
13. Q is taking the day off tomorrow. So while the rest of the world is at work and school, we will be enjoying a leisurely lunch in a nice restaurant and going to the Arizona's House Beautiful Desert Living Show. I just hope this time I don't get food poisoning. Last time we went to a home and garden show, I got food poisoning.
Bonus 14. I haven't eaten a fish taco in 9 years (see above).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Big Shipping Mess

Several months ago, our grocery store stopped carrying two of my favorite hair care products: Aura Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner. So I started buying it at Sally Beauty Supply. That ended when I came across one of their store coupons. The coupon was a buy-1, get-one-free for Aura haircare products. It sounded good until I read the fine print: "excludes Rosemary Mint". This company obviously doesn't want my money.

So I decided to give a shot. They were offering free shipping for purchases over $25. So in addition to the hair stuff, I padded my order with a bottle of Phisoderm body wash, a box of Dove exfoliating pads, and a pack of Feline Greenies.

I placed my order last week, and it arrived yesterday. Here's what I saw when I opened the package:

The body wash bottle had leaked all over the inside of the box. When I removed the contents, this sticky gel began oozing all over the counter and dripping on the floor. This stuff was a bitch to clean up, too. After, there were 20+ showers worth of it was lathering up all around the kitchen.

The receipt was ruined...

...and the body wash bottle is more than half empty. Oh, and look...the cap isn't even snapped shut!
I inspected the rest of the merchandise. The shampoo and conditioner were intact. The outsides of the bottles just needed a good rinsing. The Greenies--which were in a sealed foil pack--may have been OK, too. But I'm not about to risk Jango's health in order to find out. The body wash had also penetrated the thin foil cover on the exfoliating pads.
I pulled up my order on the computer (remember, the receipt is illedgible) and called their 800 number. The customer service agent I talked to was very nice. She apologized for the inconvenience, and agreed to replace the body wash, cat treats, and facial pads. She also upgraded me to 3 day shipping at no charge. That's awfully big of the company, I guess. I just hope the bottle is sealed up this time.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Backyard Makeover: Before

In recent years, I have fallen out of love with our back yard. It's dirty, the gravel is bare in some spots, and is in dire need of a good cleaning and updating. And, since my birthday is next month, I informed Q that this is what I'd like for a present: a spruced up, more functional backyard.

He happily agreed. Partly because this yard is his turf, and he wants it to look nice probably more than I do. Also, it means he can buy me presents that the whole family can enjoy, and do so without having to set foot in the mall.

Instead of planting a winter lawn, we allowed the grass to go dormant. It should start greening up in about a month or so. The chairs under the trees belong on the patio, but Luke climbs on them when we send him out to pick limes. Consequently, both chairs are covered in bird poop. In fact, we had discussed the possibility of putting a bench or water feature in the area between the two trees, but Q reminded me that anything we put there will become a birdie potty.

I want to use this half of the patio to create an outdoor living room, of sorts. I have my eye on a patio love seat at Target, and we'll hang a bamboo roller shade to block out the eastern sun. We have relocated Q's barbecue grill to the other side of the pool fence, and the white PVC chairs--which are older than the dirt that covers them--will go onto the next charity truck that comes by. Kyle was not happy when we informed him that he'll have to park his bike elsewhere.

We spent lots of time Sunday trying to clean up the side yard. We did the best we could, but since much of the crap is neither recycleable nor giveawayable (i.e. broken), we'll have to hold on to it until Hippie Christmas. That usually occurs in April or May.

There's nothing wrong with this table and chair set, except that they're dirty, and the flimsy replacement cushions never fit good. New cushions have already been bought. In fact, this was a purchase I was so desperate to make that I didn't even bother to wait until they went on sale.

The other problem I have with this area is that nobody ever puts their $#!t away. It is littered with old toys, pool supplies (including chemicals), and tools. The culprit seems to be lack of storage...with a touch of laziness thrown in. I'm hoping to alleviate that situation with one of those nifty storage benches. I'm just trying to find a nice, affordable one that's not made out of that gray Rubbermaid plastic. And yes, here's more of those white PVC chairs that aren't long for this life.

We'd had these chaise lounges since the pool was built 8 years ago. Last summer one of them broke. We were going to buy new ones, but Q managed to disconnect, repair, and reassemble the broken one. So far, that seems to have helped. We did buy new cushions, however.

We spent a part of Saturday removing a dead palm tree. Not an easy feat since it's so close to the pool. Q almost fell in the water a few times. He also broke his shovel while trying to disconnect the trunk from the root ball.

April showers may bring May flowers in the rest of the world. But in Arizona, winter showers bring weeds. Lots and lots and LOTS of weeds. I spent a fair amount of the day with a bottle of Roundup.

Around the pool, I have several clay pots full of dead or near dead cacti. The succulent picture above is the only potted plant I have managed to not kill. I will be buying more of those when and if I get back to the cactus nursery at which I had originally bought this one.
Pictures of the finished product will be posted when the job is complete. To avoid rampant credit card abuse, the job is being done in stages.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday 13: The Useless Edition

Below is a list of 13 things that I would be willing to erase from my life.

1. Weeds.
2. Leg hair

3. Beer and wine (I tried to acquire a taste, but can't stand either of 'em. In fact, both drinks make me sick. For this reason--among others--I think I'm adopted.)

4. Telemarketers
5. The Fox News Channel

6. Acne
7. Flyers

8. Hiccups

9. Dust Bunnies

10. Receipts that are printed in faded ink

11. Freezer burn
12. Pencils without erasers
13. SPAM (the e-mail AND the food)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Captain Tip?

We have made Valentine's Day a family affair. It's a tradition we started several years ago. The boys are very well behaved in restaurants, and Chinese food is one of their favorites. Besides, all the good babysitters are booked up weeks in advance.

Tonight we went out to a small local restaurant in our neighborhood. We have eaten there many times before. In fact, we usually order the same meal--won ton soup, a raw tuna appetizer, and walnut shrimp and orange chicken entrees to share. And tonight was no exception
Except for the bill. When it arrived, we noticed TWO lines for the tip: the regular tip and the "captain tip".

WTF is a captain tip? I'm sure it's a legitimate entity, but only in the fanciest of restaurants. And this place isn't fancy. It's a very nice, but hardly upscale! They don't even have a toothpick dispenser.
Anyway, this restaurant shares real estate with a tanning salon, a veternarian, and a grocery store. There's also an oil change place and Mickey D's at the other end of the parking lot. This is hardly the high rent district. They're building a WalMart Neighborhood Market across the street.

Q just left one tip. And it was a pretty decent one considering that the waiter didn't bring us plates for our appetizers. We ended up using the saucers from our soup bowls. The place was busy, sure, but our waiter was somewhat scarce. They were even slow bringing the check. We had to ask for it.

And when we finally got the check, there were NO fortune cookies! I know they were trying to turn our table as quickly as possible, but no fortune cookies? NO fortune cookies!?!?!? You can't have a Chinese dinner without fortune cookies!!!!!

Anyway, this whole idea of the captain tip has me perplexed, if not offended. To me, this is just someone's brazen attempt to fatten up the tip pool.

Or maybe they want to take the tip jar to a new level. Oh yeah...the tip jar. This place has one of those too. The lady who rings up your takeout order and hands you the food bag has to get in the racket as well!

In any case, I find the captain tip to be a farce since there seems to be no captain involved. So I will be leaving that line blank...unless my dinner is served by Kirk, Picard, Hook, Ahab, Steubing, or Rogers. Even Captain Underpants will get a buck or two if he keeps the water glasses full.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

First Illness

As part of his treatment for Cushing's Syndrome, Q had his left adrenal gland removed. Since his left gland was producing too much cortisol, the right gland had shut down. A better explaination can be found here.

That was two years ago, and Q still had no natural cortisol production today. Everything he gets is in pill form.

If you're not familiar with cortisol, it is known as 'the stress hormone'. When your body is under stress--physical stress, in particular...such as during an illness or injury--extra cortisol is produced to help the body fight off infection. More information about stress and cortisol can be found here.

Anyway, during his initial recovery, Q was told that if he was somehow injured or started to feel ill, he is to increase his cortisone intake. Failure to do so could result in the worsening of symptoms, which could lead to hospitalization.

On a normal day, he takes 20mg. When sick, he has to double, or even triple that amount. In fact, Q wears has a medical alert bracelet that identifies him as cortisone dependant.

And we hadn't had to worry about that until now. But on Saturday, our cortisol balancing skills were put to the test. Q felt a sore throat coming on. He immediately doubled his dosage. He didn't feel better, but his symptoms weren't any worse than those of a common cold. He spent the weekend at resting and worked from home on Monday.

By Tuesday, Q felt well enough to go back to work. He even continued to double his cortisone intake. By Wednesday, he still felt some residual cold symptoms, but the doubling stopped.

Big mistake.

Early this morning, Q woke up with a fever. I urged him to take a triple dose of cortisone, which he did. He also tripled his midday and late afternoon doses.

So, now we'll see what happens. Hopefully the worst is past. In the meantime, I'm not feeling so hot myself.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Lucky Wheels!

Yes, as a matter of fact I do find $#!T like this interesting. If that makes me the biggest geek in life, then so be it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


We had a winter storm pass through the area yesterday. Snow in the mountains, and rain in the valleys. And it was cold EVERYWHERE. I took this picture from the campus of Scottsdale Community College. This is a rare sight so close to town.

Monday, February 04, 2008

An Open Message

To the good people at

Sometimes, the items we buy from you are meant to be given as gifts.

And sometimes, the gift recipient lives at the same address as the buyer.

And yes...sometimes said recipient answers the door when the UPS guy comes knocking.

The use of generic, unmarked shipping boxes would be well advised.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lunch With The Captain

Triggered by a post on Craig's blog, I'm sharing a story about the time Q and I happened upon a Star Trek/medieval gamers convention.

About eight years ago, a small family weekend was planned in Monterey, CA. We flew into San Jose and drove the hour and a half to Monterey and back.

Since Q and I don't share the same interests as my mom and some of the others, we decided to rent our own car. My grandparents had expressed an interest in riding along with us. This was a good thing. We were happy to have help with the rental car fees. They were thrilled not to have to do any long distance driving. Q even rented a Buick so everyone would be comfortable.

We ended spending almost the entire weekend with my granparents. Grandma and I hit all the shops, while Q and Grandpa talked about baseball. We stayed at a historic B&B, ate in little out-of-the way bistros, went to the beach, and took a scenic drive to Carmel. The four of us definitely bonded.

On Monday (Memorial Day), we drove back to San Jose to catch our flight home. We got into town around lunchtime. And since nobody wanted to eat crappy, overpriced airport food, the search was on for a non-fast food restaurant.

We drove by a few diners and sandwich shops, but all were closed for the holiday. Then Q remembered that we'd past a Doubletree Hotel. He was sure that place would at least have a coffee shop that was open. That sounded good so we headed back there.

When we got to the hotel, we apparently walked into some sort of costume party. The place was quite crowded, and the diversity was oozing out of every doorway. We saw a knight in shining armour, a woman whose entire body was festooned in vines (complete with potting soil), and an overweight court jester. There were damsels, princesses, vikings, aliens, serfs, someone in a Chewbaca suit, and Starfleet uniforms. There were lots and LOTS of Starfleet uniforms. One woman in a Captain Picard uniform had even shaved her head.

The funny part was my grandparents' reactions to the spectacle. Other than the hotel workers, we were the only normal-dressed people in the place. Grandma thought the serfs were homeless people. Every few minutes, she would whisper "Oh my, would you look at that one." Grandpa was unhappy when the overweight jester woman cut in line in front of us as we waited for a table in the coffee shop.

We asked the hostess what was going on there. She explained that it was some sort of "sci-fi/medieval/fantasy gamers convention". Hmmm...a little something for everyone. Too bad I left my purple velvet gown and golden scepter in my luggage.

The restaurant was open to the rest of the lobby and nearby conference room. This set-up--as well as the convention attendees--brought people watching to a whole new level. I don't even remember what I ate for lunch that day.

When we got to the airport, the rest of the family was finishing up their greasy McDonald's lunch. Sure, they made better time getting there, but I doubt their meal was as exciting as ours.

Years later, whenever one of us (usually me or Grandma) brings up the Monterey trip, nobody really mentions the B&B, the restaurants, or the beaches. Instead, we talk about our lunch at the San Jose Doubletree.

OK, Craig...your turn.