Thursday, October 30, 2014

Columbia Mall

Photo history of the Columbia Mall by The Baltimore Sun. (Does anyone ever call it The Mall in Columbia??)

Some of my fondest memories growing up include Jade Palace, and birthday parties at the McDonalds where you could sit on the Trolley instead of at the "normal" booths, and running into my two-feet-taller-than-me friend who, so we could talk face-to-face, habitually knelt or else we found a bench. So in the middle of the mall we got to talking, and he knelt, and we kept talking... and we're both sure that passerby thought it was the strangest proposal ever.


Do Big Frog and I look like we're new-matched on eHarmony or some such?
I don't know if I'd necessarily recognize a first date if I saw one.
But I sure wouldn't look for one at the local diner or at the Mexican restaurant.

Why, then, have the last two times we've eaten out were we asked, "So is this on one check?" We've only been together 16 years at this point.

PS It belatedly occurs to me, maybe they think we're "just friends"!  What does that look like? Of course Big Frog is my best friend, but still... Curious...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kidlit quotes

Kidlit quotes

Evidently I need to read more Roald Dahl, but I recognize and resonate with all the rest.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

News & Notes 2014

Because of the really-public nature of the blog, I try to be circumspect about naming names.  But I also use this as a resource for me to be able to find things again, which FB certainly doesn't facilitate.  So with regards to News & Notes, last year I simply redacted the newsletter we sent out to everyone, which was really a series of bullet points.  This year that may be more difficult because I got really text-heavy.  So here's the pics... I'll work on getting the text redacted and into a .jpg format.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Slide rule

NPR article: The Slide Rule: A computing device that put a man on the moon

 I remember my dad, who is and always has been an engineer who thinks in engineer and speaks engineer, marveling that my eighth grade geometry class included trig tables.  We quickly moved to scientific calculators and then the exciting world of graphing calculators.  I remember one of my friends making 6-slide flip books on the graphing calculator in the middle of non-math class, and even "taking notes" on it.  (We knew, and the teacher knew, he was drawing.  But he actually had English notes in there too, so she couldn't call him on it that time.) 

One time I forgot my graphing calculator and borrowed dad's scientific calculator... it threw me for a loop because not only did it have a cord and an adapter, you had to enter your data using reverse polish notation (Instead of 3 + 4 - 5, you type in 3  4  +  5  - ).  When he bought it, for several hundred dollars, it was really top end high tech.  After all, the whole of NASA when we sent men to the moon had less computing power than a flip phone has nowadays. 

Messy or not, our house is open for visitors, effective now.

(TL;DR: Come to our Housewarming Party, details in the link.)
Go ahead and start by reading this to get an attitude of gratitude going.  We'll wait.

Did you read it? I mean it. Go read about "A Whole New & Necessary Way to See Your Messy House" now!
Incredibly thankful for those, and there were many, who helped me purge, and purge, and sort, and organize, and pack Selah up prior to the move. So many boxes! When everything was finally packed, I literally had to edge around the house in the sole pathway from my bed (camping mattress, at that point) to even the bathroom.


Then suddenly, everything was gone, on a van for a month of storage. W-e-i-r-d.

All that was left was me, a suitcase, the aforementioned camping mattress, and the dust rhinoceroses who have been lurking in untouched places, growing in the 12 1/2 years we lived in Selah.
(And all the sundry things keeping me from flying to NC & having the movers take Titan, my car. And all the random things I needed in the interim, like my tap sneaks and show pants. But without some important but packed things, like toothpaste. In an amusing twist, the same day I emptied Selah to "bare essentials", I made a Walmart run.)

We were blessed, incredibly blessed, beyond blessed, by a wonderful cleaning crew of NCF sisters who swooped through, cleaned every nook and cranny, and disappeared a mere two hours later. Left to my own devices, that could have taken weeks.
I drove to NC and, as previously blogged, met Big Frog at Credo, and serendipitously was able to go into the house because the previous owners were picking up some last items from the place.

We continued to indoors-camp even after closing on the house while waiting for flooring to be installed -- out with the tortoiseshell cat carpeting, in with the sleek "Oregon Walnut Fog" flooring. The trio of installers Costco sent us, amazingly were able to do the entire transformation in a single marathon day, which given that it was slated as a three day project, gave them a midweek weekend. And gave us a glorious expanse of empty floor (no furniture yet) in which to sock-skate, which is to say, dust by wearing fuzzy socks.

Furniture Friday saw our household goods, plus some planned items from my mom (and a few surprises), arriving in boxes and crates.

We also successfully surprised Big Frog with PA artwork autographed by many of our friends. Literally hundreds of our friends kept the secret from him and helped me coordinate it across a number of events, several held under his very nose even before he left PA.

And now most of the boxes are open and we need to fill this hospitality house with friends. One of Big Frog's questions, early in the househunting process, was, "I wonder who'll be first to stay over at Credo?" We certainly have grown as people since we bought Selah.

To that end, our Housewarming Party is on Sunday, November 9, 3-6p. Please come, and bring friends, and we'd appreciate if you brought a plate of your favorite cookies as well as its recipe. We're excited to be building our community here in the Triad.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Praying Wife

25 Verses to Pray over your Husband

May I also commend to you Stormie Omartian's The Power of a Praying Wife.

Virtual Elephants

They gave us crayons at the restaurant (Dame's Chicken & Waffles).  I drew either a very large flower, or a very small elephant, or perhaps both. 

Although I intended to bring them home with me, I am not a neat enough eater for that.

me: This is better.  I'm taking him home digitally.
Big Frog: And sharing him!
me: He could go anywhere in the world, virtually.
Big Frog: That's awesome.
me: To be a virtual elephant?
Big Frog: Yes!

ABC (the taste of Detroit)

Went to the *only* Chinese food place in town that's been recommended to us, and actually a few people have recommended it when we ask for "good Chinese food" locally.  

Was delighted to find mapo tofu on the "Cantonese" menu (there's a back page to the regular menu that evidently is a special insert).

Also found on the regular menu, Chicken Gai Ding.  Could it be?  The elusive ABC, almond boneless chicken, the Detroit staple not found in all of MD.  Could it possibly have surfaced in Kernersville NC?  (Kernersville: where the duck sauce and spicy mustard were, incongruously, not in the little plastic cups on wire racks, but instead in squeeze bottles on each table.)

Regrettably, it was an egg-based white-sauce chicken along the same lines as cashew chicken, but this time with almond slices.  Not the same.  THIS is real ABCI'm drooling here.

autumn leaves

Leaf project for soon... ours are definitely turning but aren't yet at full color.
Fall placemats in contact paper.
Yes, I realize it's a kid activity, but I'm doing it anyways!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It ain't NPR

So far I have one station programmed onto my car radio.

It's NPR pledge season now, and I recently heard one new supporter say that she changed the channel because it was all pledge breaks, but had back to NPR because she enjoyed even NPR pledge breaks more than the programming on other stations.

But in Big Frog's car he's got a lot of gospel stations programmed, and not a few bluegrass stations as well.

So we're driving around town and talking, and therefore not really listening to what's on the radio. Unexpectedly, both his and my ears do the auditory equivalent of a doubletake when the singer breaks into a chorus of,

"I'm breaking in a brand new pair of shoes
Don't look at me like you think I've got the blues
'Cause I'm walking 'round and around and I'm seeing most of the town
I'm just breaking in a brand new pair of shoes."

me: Wow.  Just... wow... Wow.
Big Frog, tongue firmly in cheek: Wonder what the inspiration was for that one!
me: Wow...  Wow.
Big Frog: Bluegrass.  Where songs come from life.

There's a lot to get used to, living in the South. Also, this.

On a brighter note, here's an alligator video by one of my favorite children's illustrators, Sandra Boynton:

It is from her awesome book-and-CD, Frog Trouble.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dick Cavett Show - The Muppets (1971)

I have never seen this piece before -- it's incredible!  It's a glimpse into Jim Henson's mind -- not only Muppets, and not only Sesame Street, but also filmmaking, and puppetry, and assembling Muppets, etc.  Plus, there are some truly retro 70's ads. 
(There are at least two points where the screen goes to black instead of going to station identification; just wait them out or roll the playbar a little ways forward until the show comes back.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I think I'm gonna like it here

Ok, maybe it's not quite like that.   But we found a great Asian market (technically Asian-slash-Latino), and pho,  and bubble tea, which makes me happy.
But we got there via main roads, & on the way back, the gps took us via "shortest route".
me: I like the main roads better.  I'm sure during the day this is perfectly fine... see, car sales, a church...
Big Frog: Body parts warehouse...
(Remember, we've just been to the asian market,  where they have pig uterus & hog maw (pig stomach) & tripe just as readily as they have chops & steaks.  Salt cod, anyone?)
Big Frog: I'm sure they mean car parts!
me: (laughing nervously) Sticking to the main roads!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Let there be light!

NPR article on LED technology

"People were spending about $38 billion a year on kerosene. The poorest people were spending the most for the worst. You and I complain when the cost of our flip-a-switch electricity goes up to 15 cents a kilowatt hour. The people using open-flame kerosene lighting are paying on the order of $80 a kilowatt hour. Again, these are the poorest people in the world."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

How bad do you want it?

"Do you know what I like about you?  Not your talent, because although you are gifted, so are we all.  Because you have the desire that makes the difference between success and failure.  Those who succeed are the ones who are willing to follow their talent into all of the unknown places it will take them."  ~Julian, dance pro in Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Lao Tzu

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."  ~Lao Tzu

found in Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sports superstitions

The Cow-lover and I were "watching" (We were on the phone. She had the game on mute, I had the computer providing online updates.) the O's in the ALCS for the first time since 1997. They were not doing well. But we realized that neither of us had really watched an entire game so far this season, so we switched tactics.

We turned off our feeds.

We focused on conversational catch-up.

And the O's started to come back. 

We occasionally peeked over at the scores, and every time we did, the O's were doing better.

So... we don't get to watch the game.  Because reasons. 

source: Pearls Before Swine, by Stephen Pastis, 1/2/2011

Go Bawlmer birds!

Let's Go O's!

Inaudible O's and some slow-mo rally towel action.
Vine video from the first ALCS game.

source: @kalanigordon, via The Baltimore Sun.

some random bits

  • I'm definitely in the south. Earlier today I saw a fast food lettered sign advertising fried bologna and Velveeta sandwiches.
  • My nails are purple, except for my ring fingernails are glitter orange. Without Brenda choosing purple and orange for her wedding (two kids ago), I never would have done this. But I've always drunk orange and purple Kool-Aid, and it's a pleasure to get to drink them both in October. Let's go Bawlmer Birds!
  • a quote from WBAL: "With the rain tonight, I hope the fans stick around." "They've been sticking around for 12 or 13 years. They'll stick a little longer."
  • Further proof of our God being a God of abundance: My first trip to Harris Teeter today, and I was going to pick up a 2L of Cheerwine (Addicted already. It's like an even better Dr Pepper.). Also unexpectedly found some Maine Blueberry Soda which reminded me of our trip to Thomas WV, and which I unsuccessfully to get Wegmans Mechanicsburg to carry. Charmed, I thought to myself, "God is so good! Wouldn't it be funny if there were Vernor's (a cream-soda-like ginger ale from Detroit) here too?" There was. When I got home, I asked Earl what he thought would be the most unexpected drinkable find in this area. He said Troegs. Whose Troegenator I remember seeing in the Octoberfest beer display, and which ostensibly is also in the year-round beer aisle as well.
  • Tangentially but more generally, I'm still thrown to walk around the corner at Target and see a wall of beer. Definitely not in PA anymore.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Yews gotta go!

(I've been informed we have junipers, not yews. Doesn't matter. They're enormous and not likely to shrink back to a workable size. They've gotta go.)

 Instructables on juniper stump removal
Here's one that's a bit more picturesque about the process.

Friday, October 3, 2014

I named my fish after you!

Big Frog got to Skype with his Collab  mentees the other day.  They greeted him with, "How's the afterlife?" and, "Welcome back from the dead!", which neither he nor I knew anything about.  Don't you think that we would know at least something?

Turns out, one of our wonderful relationship-minded Collab friends, who was on the call, had come in the other day, mournfully reporting, "Big Frog died," which shocked her teammates, who had no idea that anything was even wrong with my hubby.

Fortunately, we're all getting better at asking good questions to get to the bottom of the matter.  The team quickly learned how much this fabulous, hula-hooping individual appreciated & respected Big Frog.  (Completely in earnest, not teasing in the least.)  As she instantly realized what a galvanizing effect her words had on the team, she clarified, "I named my fish after you."

Welcome to homeownership! aka If I give you the key, it's your problem now.

Everyone worked to get this house to closing.  God bless the realtors, the paralegals, the hotel staffers who scanned & faxed stuff for us, the utilities customer service people who answered in writing every dumb question the out-of-state underwriters threw at us... Until 11:15am, we had not yet received confirmation that we were actually going to closing at noon.  (Or, you know, 10a.  Oh well.)  The fact that this went through at all today means we have a lot of thank-yous to send.  (And definitely two to neither write nor send.)

But in the midst of all else, God watched out for us, even as we were questioning God's ways and means.

For example, we planned to walk thru the house prior to closing as a final check.  Once again, the previous owner's family was on-site getting some last-last items donated to Habitat for Humanity.  They're good people, & you can meet them; we've invited them to EOPS already.  But after they left, & left us with a bundle of keys, I used the loo and discovered to my dismay that it wouldn't flush!  The sink ran at a trickle!  Uh-oh.  Hadn't I called and changed over the water to my name?

A quick call confirmed that I had, but that it was an "all-day window".  They just hadn't activated us yet.  We would definitely have water by CoB, & I didn't need to be there for them to turn it on.  Phew.  We hopped in the car & headed towards the lawyer's for closing. 

Not halfway there, I get an odd and unexpected call.  It's the water company.  I had already been activated, even before I called.  Thing is, Credo (that's our house's name) and therefore we are sewer customers of the company, but not water customers.  In this area, there is "community water", which is a mutual arrangement of deep wells, & "county water", which is what I'm used to as "public".  

So, fine.  Despite the appraiser's word & the aforementioned struggles to get everything documented on community water, evidently we have county water, & not turned on, as I'd called community for what I thought was both sewer & water.  We call county.

County says sure we can get water.  On Monday.  They don't do anything same-day via phone, anything at all.  (I will not on it in a house, I will not on it with a mouse.  I will not on it here or there, I will not on it anywhere.  Ahh, kidlit.)  But if we want to stop by the office in Winston, maybe they can expedite it.

All we can do is all we can do.  (But all we can do is enough!)  We spend the next 90min signing away our lives & promising to live there.  Then on to County.  And then lunch, by which time the stress-induced adrenaline rush is definitely gone and we are well on the way to an emotional crash. 

Finally,  back to the house.  Credo.  OUR house.  We park in the garage & a gentle rain begins falling.  We meet the kids next door.  We start opening windows to let the unused-house smell out.  We flush the unflushed-from-before and are glad to have water (huge sigh of relief).  Almost on cue, the sky opens up and starts dumping buckets.  We're extra-glad for the garage now, as we unload what we'd each brought down from PA. 

Then I decide to open up the walk-out basement doors to, again, facilitate airing out the place.  Ummm... was the tile always this shiny, hon?  Or is it just reflecting the water coming down thru the patio onto the lower level?  Or WHAT THE... WHY IS THERE A PUDDLE IN THE BASEMENT?  WHAT'S LEAKING?  IS THAT COMING IN FROM OUTSIDE?  WHAT HAVE WE GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO?!?!?

On the plus side, it wasn't the door leaking, nor a roof problem in the sunroom, nor a structural break, nor an immediate need for a sump pump.  And we virtually immediately found the source of the water when we looked up and saw the bulge in the popcorn ceiling.

On the down side, that source was the washer-dryer hookup on the floor above.  Evidently the water was switched off prior to the washer getting moved out, & the tap was left  turned on just a smidge. 

On the plus side, we were going to replace that popcorn ceiling anyways, and this just makes it sooner rather than later.

But we're most thankful that the water was off until just before we moved in, or that puddle could have been a lake.  God watches out for God's children.  Even when they just want to flush when they want to flush.

Welcome to homeownership.  God has a sense of humor 1.

1  I'm not even detailing how "frog protection 2" watched out for us when we tried to stock 3 1/2 bathrooms 3 with towels & bathmats & shower curtains, and our card was declined because $230 worth of "kitchen supplies" in another state was out of character for us.  Glad the card texted us immediately to make us aware of possible identity theft, even though in this case it really was us.

2 Frog protection

3 We are "wealthy" now, based on Saff's standard of "one bathroom per person & maybe a few left over".  By contrast,  his definition of poverty is a lot of people and just one bathroom.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cheer up!

Cheer up!
You're a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine
More loved than you ever dared hope.

~Jack Miller