Wednesday, March 28, 2012

- When it Rains it Pours...and Hails!

Oh hi!  Were you expecting me to use my blog to keep you updated on my life?  Because I haven't been so into that lately...

You know what the problem is?  I need to build a desk.  Then I'll have a place to sit and write.  I always am more inspired to write when I have a designated place to do so.  I used to use my table, but right now my sewing machine is there and I'm kind of thinking of leaving it there to encourage myself to work on some projects I have floating around in my head.  But, if I built a desk I would have no excuses - which also means I could work on those manuscripts I need to publish from my dissertation.

Annnnnnnnnnywaaaaaaaaaaaaays.  Last weekend I took a much needed trip home to North Cackilackey.  Missing home is something that hits me like a ton of bricks.  I always think I'm doing fine and then I hit this point where I feel that if I don't head South, like yesterday, I'm going to lose any grip on sanity I thought I had.  So, I was totally looking forward to this trip, unfortunately it fought me a bit in the beginning.

The morning after St. Patrick's day I noticed my car was making a new noise.  It was like a roar on top of the usual engine revving.  Basically it just sounded all loud which was annoying because I was trying to jam out to my new sugar coated pop favorite Karmin.  Like all responsible car owners I decided the best course of action was no action.  After all, that sound could just magically go away...and sometimes it did.  I would start him up and he'd be fine and the noise wouldn't set in until later...or sometimes it would be there immediately, but then go away.  But for the most part it was still present.

Last Wednesday I decided I should probably do something about it.  Because I love Jeepy, and I want what's best for him.  Plus he needed an oil change.  When I called to make an appointment they didn't have any availability until this week so I made an appointment for Wednesday, as in today.

Thursday night I went to the premier of the Hunger Games.  Because this started a super not fun chain reaction, I now regret wasting the time and sleep to go.  Plus, the movie was uber disappointing.  Unless you haven't read the books, and then you probably thought it was awesome.  If you thought it was awesome and you have read the books then we are no longer friends because I don't get you.

On the drive home from the movie (at 2:45 AM, which I am almost too old to witness) I was surprised because Jeepy was being totally good and not making any noises.  Then, as I exited off the highway he started up with the worst noise yet which made me think "Hmmmm whatever was on the verge of breaking, has done gone ahead and broke".  I pulled into my undergound parking and turned him off.  I noticed there was something that had leaked out underneath, but it wasn't too much and appeared to have stopped leaking now that he was off.  I thought about popping the hood, but to be honest, the noise was pretty scary and I hadn't quite convinced myself that the whole engine wouldn't literally blow up in my face.

So, here it is nearly 3 AM and I have a flight at 7AM, meaning I was planning on heading to the airport around 5.  My plan had been to drive myself and park in one of the discount lots but I was doubtful as to whether Jeepy could make it or not.  I looked into trying to schedule a shuttle, but it was too late.  I came up with the plan to just go ahead and get ready and try to drive to the airport at 3:30 AM.  That way, if Jeepy didn't make it I would have time to tow it somewhere and still get there on time.  But when I started the car again I realized the noise was still pretty scary and I didn't feel comfortable driving.  Jeepy would have to be dealt with when I got home.  I called a cab and scheduled a pick up for 5:30 AM then laid down to try and sleep for about an hour.

At 4:45 my phone rings and it's the cab company saying that the driver can't find my place.  Since he is 45 min early I have a new place I would rather send him and it includes Lucifer and an eternal fire.  But, I drag myself out of bed - where I had intelligently slept in my clothes - and go outside to flag him down.  The advantage of being up at this time is that I can follow Twitter to see how the USA 7's rugby team is doing in Hong Kong.  The disadvantage is that they aren't winning.

The airport is great and I catch a few more Zzzz's waiting for the plane to Chicago, and then stumble onto the plane where I immediately pass out.  It might sound crazy, but I think I've trained myself (Pavlovian style) to fall asleep as a plane is taking off.  I can't remember the last time I stayed awake during the process of getting airborne.  In Chicago I have a long layover so I walk the airport a bit, and then pay a fortune for a bagel.  I ordered an egg and cheese which was supposed to be 4.80.  But I wanted it on an asiago bagel, which was extra.  I wanted tomato, and that was extra too.  That bagel was 6.50.  Only at an airport do ridiculous upcharges like that fly.  Pun intended.  

When I go to board my plane from Chicago to Greensboro I realize that there is no jetway.  My plane is parked out there on the tarmac and there's a LONG walk to get to it.  Oh and it's pouring rain.  And no one even offered me an umbrella.  Once I got on the plane I am soaking wet and I had to sit there and watch my luggage get...soaking wet.
photo 
In Greensboro I walk down to the rental car desks only to discover that the super awesome deal I got on a car for the weekend is at an Enterprise 10 miles from the airport.  Luckily the guy at the Alamo desk wants to be my friend, and he matches the rate they were going to give me.  I get my car and drive to Fuquay where I spend time following G-man around as he does some work in the garage, chews and spits out several potatoes, splish-splashes in the bath, knocks down every tower I build, watches me "hide" and runs around adorably as a half nakey baby.  I also get to do one of my relatively new favorite things which is sitting outside with Jaclyn and Matt drinking wine, chatting, and looking at the stars.  In one of the smartest moves I make all week, I buy a pair of extra Hunter Boots that Jaclyn has before taking off for Home.

I get home right before the storms hit and we sit on the porch watching the rain pour.  This is where I pick up no less than 20 bug bites, 10 of which are on my right foot.  I spend the afternoon watching rugby and lounging around the house.  Doing not much at all, but needing to do that at home in order to truly re-charge.

Sunday morning I meet Megan and "The Drew" downtown for brunch because as Fate would have it we are in the same place at the same time for the first time in over a year.  We sat there talking for hours and I could have easily gone on for days, but I had a rugby date with Fah-tar that I didn't want to be too late for.  I showed up right as the USA was playing Kenya.  As the final was being played between New Zealand and Fiji the weather took a turn for the worst and it started to hail.  When Fiji won the announcer said "All hail Fiji!" and I couldn't help but laugh because it was still hailing.  The hail was small, slightly bigger than pea size, but I started to worry about the fact that hail has been bouncing off my rental car for about 15 minutes.  We don't have a garage at home, so while I felt like I should do something, there weren't a lot of options.  Finally I decide it would be slightly better parked under our pine tree...unless a branch falls on it...but I say a little prayer to Jebus, slip on the Hunter boots and run out there.  Again, sans umbrella.  I am instantly soaked and freezing because here's a fun fact - hail is cold, being that it's frozen water and all.

Right as I'm parking the car under the tree I realize that the hail has gotten bigger.  I'm not quite sure I want to run back in, but this is showing no signs of stopping and sitting there listening the the beating that Ford Fusion was taking wasn't exactly fun either.  On the way back inside I got beaned in the head by no less than 10 pieces of hail.  I am completely soaked, except for my feet.  I dry off and realize that I have 3 knots on my head from where the hail hit me.  It seriously was no joke.

Trevor calls to say his truck has broken down and that he needs a tow.  Because my family is ridiculous we say "Well when it rains it pours...and hails".  Because it is STILL hailing.

In about an hour of storming we got 2.5 inches of rain and A LOT of hail.  And I got some fun pictures.
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The view from the front porch.  That's the red rental underneath the pine tree.  That's a pile of white hail.
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These are the plants in the planters to the left and the right of the porch in the above picture.  I had to dig them out.
photo (4)
While the rain was winding down the sun started to peek out.  I've heard this phenomenon referred to as "the devil beating his wife".  Also, you can see my parents extensive straw bale gardening operation.  If you want more details on that, check out my mom's facebook page.
photo (1)
The sunlight was kind of awesome in the way it streamed in.  Also those are Nina's footprints in the hail.
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The sky over the garage was pretty intense.
photo (2)
The boots.  Tags still on.  Literally worth their weight in (wait for it) gold.

On Monday I stopped in Raleigh for lunch and met up with Karen, Audrey, and Dan.  We went to the Village Draft House which is pretty much the only regular place I visit when I go back to NC.  I actually miss their burgers quite a bit, especially the Carolina Chili Burger, which is what I ordered.  The weather was finally on point and the sun was so amazing I got a little bit of a burn on my arms.  It's worse on my left arm due to driving the car back to Greensboro.  The trip back was uneventful at best, which is the way I like my travel.  Kayla was awesome for watching Emma over the weekend, and for picking me up when I got back to the Minnie since I was car-less.  Also, since it was 37 degrees back in Minnesota, I was again glad to have my new boots...since they are much warmer than the other shoes I packed: flip flops and Toms.

Emma and I pretty much immediately crawled into bed to catch up on as much cuddle time as possible.

Yesterday I drove Jeepy to the shop and upon our arrival it was blatantly obvious that my power steering pump had said "I quit this beotch".  Luckily it wasn't not too expensive or time consuming to fix so he'll be going home with me today.   

Despite the ridiculousness, it was an amazing trip Home, filled with people and places that I love dearly and miss regularly.  

Until next time...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

- Madness de March

Remember when I said I have the uncanny ability to get all up in a big sporting event?  Well, I am no stranger to coming down with March Madness but this year is definitely the worst I can remember in a long time.

There is probably a direct correlation to how well NC State has been playing this season.

Tuesday I was involved in my first ever sports related betting pool.  It's not bracket style (which is good since I have never in my life filled out a complete one) - instead 8 people draw numbers to determine draft order.  I got 6.  Picking sixth means I never in my life had a chance at grabbing a #1 seed.  Although I have no idea why people took UNC.  I wouldn't have taken UNC if it was the last team left.  My school rivalry has definitely gotten stronger with age.

So you pick 1, 2, 3 etc. and then when you get to 8, you double up and come back down 7, 6, 5...and so on.  It's like in the beginning of Settlers of Catan when you play with the expansion pack and you're picking resources.  Nerd alert!  Anyways, I grabbed Duke first, then Baylor.  I went with Duke because I have never had any ill will towards the Blue Devils or anyone else...except UNC.  Then I picked Baylor because they came highly recommended through RugbyWrapUp.com.  My picks are based on gut reaction and gut reaction only.  Sometimes gut reaction has a lot to do with names.  Sometimes I remember enjoying watching teams play in previous years.  Sometimes I've actually watched Sportscenter and caught up on some recent news/stats/clips.  There is no method to my madness.  See what I did there?  

I didn't get to pick for a really long time so when it was my turn we were already at 6 seeds, so I went with Murray St. and then Gonzaga.  Another long break and I was within close enough range that if I didn't grab NC State, I wasn't going to get it...and I just couldn't live with myself without having the Wolfpack on my "team".  I also picked up Virginia.  In the last round I went with a guaranteed win and grabbed one of the play in games and finally UNCA - because by the time you get to the 16 seeds, it doesn't really matter so you might as well pick a team you'd love to have as a Cinderella.

You get points for wins, and at the end points turn into money.  I don't really know how the math works, just that it was a $20 buy in.  I obviously picked up a win with the play in game last night (I'm not exactly sure which mid-west play in game I got, so I don't know if Vermont or South Florida is in my group right now) and then I picked up the first win of the tourney with Murray State.  UNCA put up a hell of a fight - no doubt spurred forward by Syracuse's loss of their main point scorer due to his torn acl, but at the end of the day I'm already a man down.  But rest assured, I'll be watching them.  From work, from home, following the app in the car while I'm driving to work, or home from work.  It's been two days and I am already ALL up in this.

If this catches you by surprise, don't worry...I don't even know who I am anymore either.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

- We're Done Here

Things changed must faster around this here blog than I anticipated.  For one thing, while I still bumble around in Gimp and have to google how to do nearly everything I would like to do, I have actually learned a few tricks over the nearly 2 years (SAY WHAT?!) I've been playing around in it.  So, the learning curve isn't quite so steep these days.

As far as design goes I've known for a long time that I've wanted some kind of chevron incorporated.  I just love it too much to quit it right now.  What I didn't expect is to be swayed by a somewhat 80's geometric theme (like this) which included a chevron variation.  Originally I had plans to use each and every pattern, but sometimes you have to edit yourself down.  Am I right Megan?  And let's be honest, it's still pretty busy which is representative of my aesthetic: when in doubt add another pattern.  The chevron is the same that I originally tried to tile in the background but due to the way it's designed it just doesn't lend itself to that kind of thing.  When I found the waves as a pre-designed background in the Blogger templates it just kind of fit.  Since I moved up here I really find myself identifying with the fact that I grew up on the coast a lot more than I think I ever did in Raleigh.  I use shells/nautical themed accessories more in decorating and due to the surprising lack of general geography knowledge most Americans have - when people ask me where I'm from I usually default to: "the beach of NC".  Sometimes I say the coast.

This is also the first time I've ever played with "brushes" which are the flower-esque designs.  They are essentially like using rubber stamps, except in your computer.  I had planned to weave some stems in to the design as well...but again, I kind of reached that point where it was like everything I thought I wanted to add all of the sudden felt unnecessary.  I kept my font, because I still love it.  All of the dimensions are the same, although I'm thinking I would really like to make the body wider, which is an easy enough fix...it just would involve completely re-doing the banner in different dimensions...so maybe that will happen on the next re-design.

The only other thing that I felt was really important to incorporate...was an oval.  Or, the most simplistic shape used to represent a rugby ball.  It might sound a little cray cray, but I just feel like rugby has become such an important facet of my life that there had to be some kind of homage paid to it in the design.  Even though you never would have known it was there if I hadn't told you because it isn't overtly obvious, but it's there.  It probably should be since I called my Dad today just to talk his ear off about all the recent rugby news.  Fahtar barely got a word in edgewise...which is ridiculous considering I really don't even know what I'm talking about.  I'm just well-read.  Truth be told, I don't "like" ovals.  I tend to gravitate towards squares and circles.  Just so Mams doesn't feel left out, I actually browsed papertray.com to see how they incorporated ovals into their paper crafting to see what struck me.

What I'm saying is...this design looks simplistic and easy to recreate, but there's a reason peeps go to school for graphic design.  And why I am obviously not one of them.

For those interested in blog design - I discovered tonight that there is a limit to the amount of space allowed for "free" photo uploads you get in Blogger...and I've reached it.  I'm going to start hosting my pictures at Flickr now, which I think is pretty standard...but if you think you'll be doing this for a while and incorporating a lot of pictures, it might be something to look into sooner rather than later. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

- Under Construction

I have spent the last 3 hours trying to create a seamless background tile out of a scrapbook paper I just purchased.

It's no es working.

However, I think I found a Blogger standard background that I almost like the idea of better.

What I'm trying to say is...I'm all up in a blog redesign right now.  Which is something I had planned on doing in time for a birthday unveiling, but then my apartment kind of got in the way of anything else happening in my life.  Then my MacDaddy stopped loading Safari which made surfing the internet for inspiration on the same machine that has my editing software sort of...improbable.

Today I made a Genius Bar appointment and then I came home and decided to try fixing it myself.  I used my work computer to google all kinds of things while simultaneously trying stuff on MacDaddy and wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am...he's back on track.  For now.  Tomorrow could be a completely different story.  Let's just say that I haven't cancelled that appointment yet.

This will probably take a few days.  Days that I should spend doing my taxes, but don't worry Mams - I'm getting to those soon.

So depending on when you check in things could look crazy.  Or they could look exactly the same as always...until they don't.