While I Am Hard At Work…

Since this Blog is, after all, supposed to be a depiction of the world through my eyes, I decided to share some images of stuff as I actually see it.

I work from my home office. It took a while for my “kids” to realize that when I am working, I am busy and can’t give them my undivided attention.

They all learned to cope eventually. While I am slaving away at my computer, they nap. The evidence is in this picture, which is a regular sight here.

Moses (old, female cat) is the black spot at left on the green dog bed. Above Moses and to the right is Meg (female dog) curled up on the cat bed. The gray spot on the green chair is Muffin (another female cat). CeCe (female dog) is in the foreground on the cream-colored dog bed. The brown critter to the right of and slightly below Moses is CeCe’s TOY beaver.

Lame-ass Blogger

That’s me! The lame-ass blogger that is. Almost a month ago I said I’d do better with posting, right? I have far too many interests and far too little time. So I have resigned myself to the fact that posts on here will be really irregular.

I am pretty sure no one reads this anyway. Except maybe Mike, my dear hubby, who doesn’t really care what I have to say about most things but does check every now and then to see what I have said about him. My mom would probably read it, too, out of sheer boredom, if she could figure out how to navigate here. She’s been using the Internet for awhile, but I am not sure she knows what a blog is. Anyway, I think you get the picture.

I was thinking about using a new template, but why bother if I can’t even manage regular posts? Instead, to add interest, I added a list of links to Other People’s Blogs I thought you might enjoy. Look to the right of the page and scroll down (that’s where the list is at the time of this writing).

Guess that’s it for today.

If you do actually read this, post a comment that at least says, “I read your page today.” Thanks a bunch.

Too Many Ens, The Break and Goodbye Don

I told myself last week I was going to do a better job posting here. I really want to, but the days just totally get away from me. So now I am playing catch-up.

Too Many Ens (would have been Thursday’s post)

If you read my previous posts, you know I work from home. I have a company-supplied computer and a personal computer, both notebooks, stashed ever-so-cleverly on my perpetually messy desk. My dear hubby rigged up a cool set-up with a switch, which allows me to use a full-size keyboard and monitor for both computers. So both notebooks are tucked out of the way and remain closed 95% of the time. (I would take a picture so you could see what I mean, but my desk is way too messy. I’d be embarrassed.)

Well, until a couple of weeks ago, I had a really crappy keyboard. It did all kinds of goofy stuff, but the thing that made me get rid of it was when the SHIFT+CONTROL and arrow keys wouldn’t work to highlight text for copying, cutting, pasting, formatting, etc. I am a writer. That’s an important function. After putting up with it for a few weeks, I bought a new keyboard. I remember a certain person always telling me, a keyboard is a keyboard. I don’t like ergonomic ones (they look like a wave and the keys are split in the middle) and didn’t really like the wireless one I tried. So I bought a plain, inexpensive keyboard. It cost $9.97…can you guess where I bought it?

It worked okay, except the number two in the top row of numbers and the minus sign didn’t always work. I use Excel a lot, too, so it was sort of a pain. I just had to remember to hit those keys really hard. I adapted. Then Thursday, after having my keyboard for only about a month, if that, I spilled coffee on it. I have NEVER done that before. Not much actually got into the keyboard, but it was enough to make my en key stop working. Well, having already adjusted to the number two and minus sign issue, I figured I could circumvent the en problem, too. I just copied an en and figured I’d paste it into words, as needed, instead of typing the letter. That lasted about five minutes. There are far too many ens in the English language. And I was in the middle of writing a proposal, too!

I had to dismantle my cool switch set-up and revert to using the individual notebook keyboards. Yuck!

The Break (would have been Friday’s post)

I decided not to go to West Virginia this weekend. I needed a break and there are some things around here I have been meaning to do. Making a Roman shade for our WV bedroom is just one of those things. Going to watch my granddaughter, Brianna, play lacrosse is the other thing.

Mike left for WV early, and I ended up working until about 6:30 PM. I guess it was around 8:00 when Amy called. She was at the ER with Brianna, who had fallen off a swing at daycare earlier in the day and broken her arm. It wasn’t a bad break, but it was bad enough to end her lacrosse season. So, no lacrosse game for me in the morning. Maybe I’ll get a chance to sleep in!

Goodbye Don

The dogs woke me up around 7:30 A.M. The bitches. So much for sleeping in!

After puttering around the house a bit, I headed to the store for the last bits of fabric needed for my shade project. While there, I bought a new keyboard! I avoided the really cheap piece of crap I’d bought previously and splurged on one that cost $12.97 instead. (So far, so good. All of the keys seem to be functioning.)

On the drive home, I was flipping through radio stations and came across a weird/wonderful/sad thing. The Don and Mike Show, a local radio talk show, which was also syndicated, that had been on the air since 1985 was ending for good. Apparently yesterday, Friday, April 11, was the last day. They we re-running the farewell broadcast.

I am not a huge fan of talk radio, but I did listen occasionally, back in the day when I commuted to and from work. I didn’t always “get” the humor (it could be sort of stupid, but everyone is different!), but they just seemed like good guys. They had the kind of rapport where you could sit and listen to them chat about stuff for hours. Like the Car Talk guys on NPR.

The farewell show consisted of Don, Mike and the other folks who had worked together over the years, chatting, reminiscing and saying goodbye. They left, one by one, over the course of the show until it was just Don and Mike in the studio, and then it was just Don.

It was the strangest thing. I couldn’t stop listening. I’ve been out of touch and not aware of the controversy or all the ups and downs that had surrounded the show (here’s the Wikipedia link again if you want to read more).

When I got home, I went straight into the house and tuned in to hear the rest of the show. They really were just sitting around talking about old times, past shows, how they’d all become really good friends, why Don was leaving, etc. It was so sad! It was like a funeral, with everyone saying goodbye, encouraging each other to move on, telling each other what they meant to one another, etc.

Like I said before, I wasn’t a huge fan. But I did listen to the show occasionally. I knew some of the history, like the tragic death of Don’s wife, Freda, in 2005. They’ve been on the air forever. Since I graduated from high school, and that was AGES ago! I found the show really touching. Of course, I was crying throughout ’cause I’m a sap like that.

Maybe that’s why the Roman shade project was so much harder than anticipated! I didn’t finish it. Perhaps I’ll get it done tomorrow. For now, its late, and I’m all caught up, so I am going to go to bed. I’ll have more to say tomorrow.

The Grandkids

I did get to visit with the grandkids tonight. But we didn’t get to spend much time together. I arrived 90 minutes late because traffic on Interstate 95 was screwed up. A trip that should have taken 30-40 minutes, took TWO HOURS! Amy had to drag all three kids to Brianna’s lacrosse practice, which she would have avoided had I arrived on time. After I found the field, and located Amy and the kids, I just took Gaige (4) and Joey (9 months) back to Amy’s house where we hung out with Klondike (my granddog) waiting for lacrosse practice to end.

Gaige spent about 15 minutes cleaning miniature M&Ms up off the kitchen floor after the ridiculously small container he was trying to open exploded. [That brought back memories of my son Eric, now 18, who did stuff like that periodically. One particularly memorable time was when he was about 11 and we were flying to South Dakota (I think). I bought him a bag of Skittles and he decided to open it on the plane without my assistance.] Gaige was a good sport about picking up the candies before Joey could get to them. I didn’t tell Amy about that incident. I thought she might yell at me for letting him have M&Ms so close to bedtime. Of course, um, he really had to twist my arm hard to get M&Ms.

While Gaige gathered up the candies, Joey and I wrestled. It wasn’t really wrestling. I was laying on my side in the living room trying to keep him penned in. He crawls very well and even stands on his own for several seconds at a time. Anyway, like the early American pioneers who realized the Cumberland Gap was the easiest northern route across the Appalachian Mountains, Joey found the easiest route across G… my head! He’s a smart guy and quickly realized that my head was lower than my shoulders and would thus be easier to climb over. So he spent most of his time trying to crawl over my head.

He was getting tired so I changed his diaper and got him into his PJs. I was exhausted when I was finished. He squirmed the entire time. I felt like I was trying to pin a World Wrestling Federation champion!

When Amy and Brianna got back from lacrosse, Brianna had just enough time to show me the PowerPoint presentation she had done for school. She is 7 and in first grade. I can’t imagine learning how to use PowerPoint in the first grade! It was all about penguins and was really quite good. Her teacher helped some, but still! I know quite a few adults who would not have a clue if told to make a set of PowerPoint slides. I’m not going to West Virginia this weekend and am hoping the rain holds off so I can go to Brianna’s lacrosse game on Saturday morning.

After the kids went to bed, Amy and I chatted for a couple of hours before I came home. Her hubby is off on an 8-month training assignment for the Army, so she really enjoys the adult interaction. And I enjoy visiting with her. TJ, her hubby, isn’t that far away and does get to come home on weekends, which is good for Amy and the kids. Amy in particular…three kids, wonderful and sweet as they are, are exhausting.

Next Wednesday, after I visit with Amy and the kids for a bit, I’m going to hang out with some friends I haven’t seen for quite a while. I’m excited. They live near Amy, which is about 40+ miles north of here. I’ll spend the night at Amy’s house and work from there the following day, which just happens to be April’s Thirsty Third Thursday. Earlier this year, or later last year, I can’t remember which, Shannon, my eldest daughter, Amy and I decided to start a monthly tradition. We meet for dinner and drinks on the third Thursday of every month. It is a great way for the three of us to catch up with each other.

With TJ away, we’re just going to hang out at Amy’s house so she doesn’t have to worry about a babysitter. Although Mike, my dear hubby, volunteered to watch the kids next month so we can actually go out. I have to remember to tell the girls that before next month gets here!

Other than work, that was the extent of my day. All in all, it was a good one. But now it is late and I need to get to bed!

Thanks for dropping in.


It has been THREE weeks already since I created this blog. At least once a day for the past 21 days, I have thought to myself, “What do I write about on my blog?” I mean, my life is pretty normal. There’s the WV Project — the one where Mike, my hubby, and I are building a house from scratch mostly by ourselves — but that is almost finished. I wish I’d thought of blogging in 2005 when we started the house. The Web updates would have been so much easier.

So, I still don’t know for sure what I should talk about. Or even if I should talk about anything. I mean, this isn’t like a diary where I can reveal my innermost secrets. The whole world could read it. You might read it and there’s a good chance I don’t know you. Or I do know you, and you know me, and you already know all the crap I’d chat about anyway. Sigh…

So, today is Tuesday, April 8. It was just another normal day. I got up a bit later than usual — 7:15, I think — but DID manage to shower before heading to work. In case you don’t know me, I am a regional employee for a Pennsylvania-based clinical research organization. “Regional” in this case means, I work from home. I had to skip my morning cup of coffee because I had to go get some blood drawn. They took like 8 tubes AND I had to pee in a cup, too. The unusual volume is because my primary care doc ordered some tests several weeks ago, which I had never had done, and last week my endocrinologist ordered her own sets of tests. Nothing is wrong, it is just annual check-up time. This morning, I finally bit the bullet and went. I wasn’t avoiding it intentionally. I’ve just either been busy with work or, still being half-asleep, started drinking my morning coffee before remembering I was supposed to be fasting before the blood test.

So, immediately after leaving the blood lab, I went to WaWa for some coffee. Then I came back home to the office and started working. I can’t tell you much about work because it is confidential stuff. It can be quite interesting, and very stressful. Today wasn’t too bad. At least the day passed at a pretty even intensity level, which was low by the way. The week should get more interesting as my Friday proposal deadline approaches.

I quit working around 6:00 and headed downstairs to cook dinner. My culinary creativity is nonexistent this week, so I whipped up something simple — some chicken and rice combo using Zatarain’s rice. It was tasty for a simple meal. After that, since it was Mike’s tun to clean up, I got to update my Web site with the pictures from this past weekend. (It was a crappy weekend by the way. The weather sucked, my luck sucked, I was in a foul mood, and I spent $300 on tires because of a poorly-designed curb at a bank parking lot in Grantsville, Maryland [the edge of nowhere].)

Then I sat down to answer some e-mails and watch American Idol, while simultaneously searching the Internet for some vacation rental property (the location is a secret).

American Idol was pretty lame tonight. This season’s contestants are all pretty good, but they were singing hokey, inspirational songs this week.

It ended and I continued to search for lodging. Then I remembered to call my friend, Carol, who I have known since I was like 8 or 10. We haven’t chatted for a few weeks and need to catch up. Now here it is almost 11:00 PM. My dogs are anxious to go to bed. I guess I am sort of sleepy.

So, now that I have wasted all this space saying not really much of anything, I’ll sign off. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be more inspired. Actually, I know I will be more inspired because I’m going to visit my grandkids. And my daughter, Amy, too. (-:

That was my day. I’m sorry if you read this far waiting to see if anything exciting happened. Better luck next time!

Why a Blog? Why Now?

The real reason I thought of this blog was to document our upcoming Alaska vacation so people back home can keep track of where we are while we are gone—if they care to—and for me to keep a running diary. It is going to be a long, eventful trip.

Before I started planning this trip, I knew Alaska was big. But I guess I didn’t realize how big. That size presents a problem. Two problems, actually. There’s the issue of time; we’re only going to be there for two weeks. There’s also the issue of money; nothing in Alaska is cheap. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Forest Service rents camping cabins all over the state for $40-$50 a night. Many are on lakes or rivers, very pristine locations where anyone in their right mind would LOVE to stay. Of course, there are no roads to get there. So you have to go by boat or plane. You also have to rent camping gear because it just wouldn’t make sense to pack it all in from home.

There are so many things in Alaska I’d love to see. Dutch Harbor, for example, where the fishing fleet featured in the Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch is based. You can fly there from Anchorage for about $900 round-trip. Or you can take the ferry, which takes FIVE days and costs about $350, one-way. And that doesn’t include a cabin. If you’d like a place to sleep for the five-day journey, that another $300 or so. Those rates are per person. Dutch Harbor is out for us. Katmai National Park and Kodiak Island, both spots where you are sure to see bears, especially late in the summer when the salmon are running, are out, too. They are both remote, which also means expensive.

Not only did I have to spend a lot of time planning the trip, I had to start early. Alaska’s summer is short. And the tourist destinations can get pretty crowded. Some of those can be avoided, but we can’t go to Alaska and not visit Denali. We also can’t skip Glacier Bay National Park. An Inside Passage cruise was tempting, but I felt it would be too limiting. We’d spend a lot of time on a boat, and all of our shore excursions would be with the throngs of other folks also cruising. So I decided to get creative and mix it up a bit.

Here’s a quick summary of our itinerary… fly from Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, to Sitka, Alaska, a town on the Pacific Ocean side of Baranof Island, which is on the outskirts of Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage. We’ll spend a day there exploring as we recover from our 14-hour journey across the country. Then we’ll take a ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway to Juneau, the state capitol. The trip on the “high speed” ferry ONLY takes five hours. But it is supposed to be a beautiful journey, which represents a small dose of cruising the Inside Passage.

From Juneau we’ll fly (ON A TINY PROP PLANE …yikes!) to Gustavus, which is the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. While there, we’ll enjoy another cruise, which is the only way to see the glaciers and marine mammals for which the park is famous. After a couple days there, it is back to Juneau, where we’ll have an afternoon and morning to explore before flying to Anchorage. In Anchorage, we’ll rent a car and drive south on the Seward Highway to Seward, which will be our base for a few days while we explore the Kenai Peninsula. Another boat trip to Kenai Fjords National Park is a must. From Seward, we’ll board a train on the Alaska Railroad back to Anchorage, where we’ll spend one night before renting a car for the drive north to Denali National Park. We’ll spend a few days in that region then drive back to Anchorage where we’ll spend a day and a half before flying home, through Baltimore-Washington International Airport. If you want to know more, you’ll have to wait until late-May/early June, which is when we’ll be there.

I started planning this trip in January, although by Fall of 2007 I already knew we’d be going. It is now mid-March. Our air transportation is mostly booked, except the puddle-jumper trip to Gustavus. Our rooms are reserved. We have tickets for the shuttle into Denali (cars can’t go more than about 15 miles into the park) and for the Sitka to Juneau ferry trip. Our rental cars are reserved. Now we just have to buy more rain gear, keep saving money, and figure out how we can pack as lightly as possible for this two-week trip, which should prove to be the trip of a lifetime for us.