28 September 2008
We had decided not to rent a car for the week because the people we were meeting with on Sunday had a car, and the conference provided transportation to and from the congress and from St. Paul to Mankato. We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel in Minneapolis with little to no issue other than the fact that he had to call the hotel to find out where they were because he couldn't find us with his GPS. ($16- more later)
Today we checked out of the hotel and walked two blocks to a place for a late breakfast then called for a taxi to take us to the University of Minnesota which is where our bus to the conference was leaving from. It was about 11:30 and the bus to Mankato left at 3:00. We hopped in the cab and right away the guy acted lost. He mumbled and fluffed during the whole fifteen minute cab ride to the U of M campus then said he didn't know where the street/building that we were looking for was. After driving around aimlessly watching the cab fare rack up, we just asked him to let us out and hoped that a student would point us in the right direction. $32 cab fare. After talking to a couple of students a couple informed us that the street we were looking for was at the St. Paul University of Minnesota campus. We were at the Minneapolis U of M campus. Great. But, they said, we could take the bus. So we went over to the bus stop hoping for a map. No map, but a phone number. So we called the bus info line and found that we had to walk a bit to the correct bus to take us to the St. Paul campus. So we did, and we waited. Hubby went off and got cash from an atm while I waited. Of course, we are carrying our bags- thank goodness I packed really light! So, we got on the bus confirming that we were on the right bus with the driver. He didn't know the road but he was going to the other campus. $5 bus fare since the bus doesn't make change. After another fifteen minute ride the bus driver stopped at the road we were asking for, but it was a short road and went away from where he said the campus was. Either way we got off the bus. We walked up the direction the bus driver pointed and ended up at a Lutheran Seminary campus. Not what we were looking for at all! We were getting frustrated at this point. We do not work well together on directions. We need each other to have our business and home run smoothly, but we are very unpleasant when we are trying to find someplace together. It was getting very snarky. So, just when Art was breaking out the cell phone to call another cab I decided to try the laptop. We were at a campus so I took the chance I could hijack a wireless signal to get on the internet and map out where we need to go. Thank you Lutherans! I had signal and mapped out a path. 1.2 miles- with bags. More sniping about how sure we were that this was the right way, the right road... finally, reached the campus! Tried a few shortcuts and found the intersection of Buford Circle, and Upper Buford. We were looking for Buford. Still didn't see the building we were looking for though... so, we kept walking, and walking. We finally found the building. The first entrance was locked, walked around to what I thought was the front of the building and found the back with no doors. More sniping then back around to the front. Found a door and walked around the building and up the stairs to finally get to our destination. With about twenty minutes to spare!
We are at an international bioenergy conference where many of the attendees are from Scandanavia and Europe. I am walking out with a man from Austria to go out to get on our bus to go to Mankato and he looks up and says (not in a good way), "That is quite a bus." I look up and see a bright red very large motorcoach/tour bus with a large American flag sweeping across the back part, an eagle holding a bright yellow banner across the side professing "God Bless America!" Garrish does not even come close to describing! Not much better inside, but it was a bus so I was asleep in no time :)>
We made it to the conference, survived the reception, dinner, and opening presentations, and finally at 8:30 were dropped off at our hotel.
This was in a country where we speak the language. We also travel a quite a bit. Why on earth would anyone do this willingly in another country is very much beyond me! I am also keeping track of how much money we spend on transportation (and time!). We could have rented a car for the week for $120. Already, for the time and money spent today, we would have covered the rental in my book!
The saga continues...
So we finished the conference, which was kind of like a cross between kindergarten (where they tell you where to go and when, feed you meals and snacks), college cram week before finals in advanced chemistry with all of the information and statistics, and church camp with the social and networking aspects. We made some valuable contacts and the information is always useful. We had Wil Steger do a presentation on his arctic travels and global warming, as well as many state officials, and European participation. It always amazes me how tall professional men are and how pretty the people were that were there... but back to travel-
Wednesday morning the congress shuttle was heading back to Minneapolis and touring a district heating plant to wrap up the session from there we could have caught a taxi to a hotel stayed the night and taken a shuttle to the airport. The only cost to us would have been a taxi ride and we could have played at the Museum of Science all afternoon for no charge since that is where the chip powered facility was...
We chose to go to Iowa to look at some equipment. I got up early and booked a car rental reservation with Enterprise for $70. It was early so I was routed to some central place, but I got the reservation number and was told to call the local place after 7:30 for details. We headed down for breakfast and came up with our plan. Just as we were getting ourselves together the local Enterprise called. They had NO cars. none... *&#!t
He gave us the number of a local yocal rental place instead. We called them and they only do local rentals so we could not rent here and return at the airport. (sigh) They rent for $35 a day, but after 100 miles it is an additional $0.15 a mile. Our round trip would be around 300 miles so add another $30.
The only other yocal place needed an insurance card to rent a car (who carries that with them!?!) and they also don't do one way rentals...
So, now we need a way to get to the airport tomorrow, too. They have a taxi service for $135 that will pick you up, or a shuttle with multiple stops for $54, but you have to get there (across town)- taxi...
So, we are looking at ~$75 to rent a car for the day, a taxi to the shuttle for ~$15-$20, and the shuttle for $54.
So total travel $$$ = $197 to $202 Not to mention the time we had to waste figuring out and navigating about....
Next time we are renting a car before we go for the whole trip. This has made the air travel look like a breeze!
26 September 2008
24 September 2008
Today, they flew the coop, made a chicken run... escaped! I went out to give them some scraps from lunch, Ody, and freezing veggies from the garden and this is where I found them...
Behind the greenhouse- OUTSIDE! Silly birds. At least they were in the trees. As soon as they saw me they started chattering away like they always do... then... my (rooster) Elliot gave me his FIRST CROW! I'm so proud (sniff) Cock-a-duddle-llle. Not too loud and not quite confident to get the whole crow out, but he was standing tall and doing his best! I congratulated him and the girls all flocked around so he fluffed up his feathers and did it again! Too cute!
Still- outside... so
...I sent out reinforcements to round them up. They are so afraid of Art- Chickens!
They ran to the East side of the greenhouse and hid in the weeds. Yeah, because we can't see you in there I tell them. Not the brightest.
Back inside the big man strutted around and cackled a bit and the girls seemed in awe. They even let him take a tomato bit for himself.
Everyone else got to feast on the snacks I had brought for them, too.
22 September 2008
I am not a good sleeper at night. I fall asleep at the chime of ten but I am frequently wide awake by one or two am. Especially if I eat poorly, or the kitties are clinging to us or being territorial with each other...
I sleep face down. No pillow, arms under me. Last night Lizzie kept walking on my back hoping that I would turn over so she could snuggle in my armpit and get rubs. Zoi kept coming up with her old cat breath tickling my nose with her whiskers giving little half meows to try to wake me so she might get some rubs... I think they missed us, or is it that they think they need to make up for lost time and petting??
I have been on a scenic rail ride up in the White Mountains, and another up through Denali in Alaska. I was able to walk around the Denali which helped, but the hypnotic motion of the train as it cruised on it's tracks, along with the soothing grumble of the engine lulled me away to dreamland.
The best part of being on an airplane is the complimentary drink and snack. Or so I am told. I wouldn't know firsthand. You see, I can't remember the last flight where I was still awake for wheels up much less getting my "complimentary" can of diet coke. When I traveled with my work I started sitting on the aisle anticipating that I might have an arm or a leg dangling in the aisle that might be hit by the trolley as it came barreling down the aisle. It rarely worked out that way. Luckily, I usually sleep through the whole flight so I don't notice how thirsty I am...
I am not a napper. Hubby loves to lay down for twenty to forty minutes in the afternoon for a little shut eye. I cannot. If I managed to fall asleep I would wake up in a haze and wander around like a useless zombie the rest of the day.
Put me on a cruise ship and try to keep me awake! Sitting on the top deck with the light breeze and warm sun on your face. The gentle swaying of the boat in the currents coupled with the soothing purr of the engines. Like a cradle being rocked. These eyes just have to shut for a moment... next thing you know you know an hour has passed.
When I was young I can remember going to a car race with my family. You know the kind where they strap jet engines onto long skinny cars so they can tear down the track at top speed (and sound). I pretty much missed the whole thing. So sleepy.
They say that all people dream at night, and if you remember them it likely means that you are just a lighter sleeper than those who can't recall. I can remember three to five dreams a night on average. Always weird. I was taking a chicken with me to the dentist, and then another to a place of business. Of course, they could talk to me and carry a conversation! I also found the secret book of a supplier. The first page I saw had a toy gold helicopter and the quote said something to the effect of "everyone needs one of these... President Eisenhower." Okie dokie, then. Must be time to wake up!
I enjoy cruises because our cell phones don't work, hubby is too cheap to pay for wi-fi, we have no phone, and people can't get ahold of us.
Our first stop was cancelled because the port was closed due to remnants of Ike. Frata rata rata frata... so I still have not seen the Bay of Fundy tides. We saw the mud flat when the tide was out in Nova Scotia last year, but the port of St. John in New Brunswick was closed. So we had a day at sea sipping the drink of the day and reading books instead :)
Halifax we have been to (last year) so we shot down to a great coffee place to watch the harbor. Helicopters, and a cool looking cruiser were among the highlights. Tons of sailboats as we were leaving. They looked like toy boats in the water compared to the beast we were on.
Mid-week Art got sick so we did not do much in Sydney, Nova Scotia. We took a little walk around and then headed back to the ship where he could rest. I watched a movie in the lounge and worked out until dinner time.Another day at sea relaxing, reading, and drinking... We did see whales off in the distance.
By Bar Harbour Art was feeling better. Though I have lived here over ten years we have yet to make it that fa'a No'th to Bah Ha'abah. It was a great little town. Kind of like a liberal Portsmouth... or maybe more like Boulder, CO on the water but beautiful nonetheless. We wandered around town, and had some calamari and Sam on the patio at a local restaurant, then looked through some of the shops and investigated a nearby sandbar- tide was coming in so we headed back.
Then we hopped on the tour bus (so cliche but when you only have eight hours...) up Cadillac Mountain. This is supposed to be the highest mountain on the Eastern Seaboard, but I swear I heard the same about another hill last month when we were in Ogunquit so I will take that with a grain of salt. Great ride up on a rare cloudless and clear day. You could see Mount Katadin in the distance, as well as all the little islands and hills in the harbor.
Then back to Bean Town.
We had to hurry off the boat because Sunday was the day of Harvest Festival in our quaint little town. The fire department does a roast chicken lunch as a fundraiser. Sold 110 chicken lunches. Boys outside cooking the chicks over an open fire (of course) and the auxiliary inside serving the chick with corn, cole slaw, potato salad, a roll, and a dessert (from our cookbook which was for sale too ;) Then outside to mingle, listen to the band, eat maple cotton candy, and drink fresh pressed apple cider. Think stereotype and you have it! Some folks even dress up in old time clothes (don't know why... don't wanna ask... in case they try to make me do it too!) Good week.
11 September 2008
When I was in high school I needed a summer job. I answered an ad in the paper for a babysitter. A pilot and nurse needed someone to watch their three boys of various ages, the oldest being around ten. I was not the best babysitter. I played with the younger ones and ate goober grape sandwiches (don't know why but I had never had them before or since and this is what I remember...) while the eldest generally went off with his friends. Not even two weeks in (may have been the first week come to think of it) the middle kid came in and told me that the eldest and his buddies had found a pot hole in the road and were digging up the asphault. I went down, scattered the boys, and took the eldest and put him in his room for the day. I never went back. Their choice- not mine. But I was not at all disappointed. I then got a job cleaning hotel rooms which was a MUCH better fit!
Yesterday I had a much more successful day babysitting. She didn't scream the whole time (at least not out loud!), and there was no troublemaking or funny business. I actually wouldn't have called it babysitting. My mother-in-law is the one who called it that.
When we were over visiting my in-laws this weekend we heard that my f-i-l's old work buddies, who get together every month at the same restaurant (and have for like twenty years!), were meeting this week. My f-i-l had not been in over two years! So while Art and his Dad were off at the market to get some things for dinner I suggested to Mom that I come over that day to be with her while Dad was at the lunch. She perked right up, and said that was a great idea! You see, Dad has been a big mother hen about Mom. He really won't leave her alone at all. While it is an incredible devotion and one can't fault him for his dedication they do still need some autonomy. I thought they may both feel more comfortable if I was there.
She called again Tuesday night to firm up plans. Dad was leaving at ten and she had her physical therapist coming in the afternoon. I said I would try to get there by ten thirty.
Of course, we had torrential rains on Tuesday with thunder and lightening and a power outage so I woke up late Tuesday and scrambled to get all the cats and birds taken care of, check e-mail really quick, do a few last minute biz odds and ends then head out the door! I didn't have time to make coffee so I stopped by Dunkin Donuts for some joe and I got to their house at 10:34 which is a close miss, but still counts.
Mom was just reading the paper. I came in and we talked, I made tea for her and a second round of coffee for me. We played some cribbage and then we had some delicious meatballs that her bil made for lunch. It was during lunch that I found out that Dad would NOT have gone to lunch if I was not going to be able to come over! Wow! No pressure there!
Just as we were finishing up the visiting nurse stopped by to get Mom's vitals, then her physical therapist showed up. After her 45 minute workout she was a little tuckered out so she rested for about an hour.
Dad got home during that time. He had a big smile on his face! He ran in and checked on Mom and told her about his lunch. Then they came out and we chatted for a while longer. It is really great that these guys still get together after all of these years! It is even better that my fil got to go catch up with them. Mom joked about and thanked me for babysitting her. My pleasure, and I hope I did well enough that they ask me back!
09 September 2008
Fifteen years later I do enjoy a good read. I am not much for stretching out in the middle of the day to read, but if we are on vacation, and each night before I go to sleep, I read.
I am not a fast reader. I FINALLY finished Atlas Shrugged after nearly three years. Granted I took about a five month break after the first 150 pages or so and it is a BIG book, but still... I finished. I have begun to tackle Sun Tzu's Art of War. I thought Atlas was heady! HA! In between, and definitely on trips, I enjoy more frivilous books. Two of my favorite authors are Nelson Demille and Clive Cussler. I just love Dirk Pitt. Dennis Lehane's early books were pretty good, too. My favorite book of all time is A Prayer for Owen Meany. I must have read it fifty times. The pages are separating from the binding and the cover is long gone, but I just love it!
Hubby has an even bigger love of books. He can devour a book in a week. He'd read two or more if he were able to take the time!
So we frequent the used book sections, and used book stores for updated reads. Airport bookstores are a frequent purchase point. This is a little pricey so we have been working on alternatives!
We tried to swap books among the family, but we have not been as consistent as we like. So, I was thrilled when I stumbled upon Harvest Lane's blog with the Paperback Swap! I signed up immediately and quickly found books to post that have been relinquished to the back of the bookshelf.
If you think this might be for you please visit http://www.paperbackswap.com/ to sign up. No cost! Yay! My e-mail addy is firstname.lastname@example.org for the referral if you would please :)
08 September 2008
Not funny about Tom Brady though. Lots of NE fans very blue today...
FOXBORO, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is out for the season.
The Patriots released a statement Monday afternoon that Brady's left knee will require surgery. He will be placed on injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the season.
Brady left Sunday's season opener against Kansas City midway through the first quarter with a knee injury. The two-time Super Bowl MVP, who has started 128 consecutive games for the Patriots was helped off the field after being hit by the Chiefs' Bernard Pollard.
"We feel badly for Tom about the injury," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said during a news conference Monday. "You hate to see anyone go down. No one has worked harder or done more for this team than Tom has."
Belichick denied reports that the team was already "working out" other veteran quarterbacks who could add depth at the position.
Brady has been a key part of the Patriots success over the past seven years. He led the team to its first Super Bowl title in the 2001-2002 season after he came in for an injured Drew Bledsoe.
Matt Cassell replaced Brady in Sunday's game after an uninspiring preseason. He helped the team to a win after driving 98 yards on their first possession with him behind the line, highlighted by a 51-yard strike to star receiver Randy Moss.
Patriots fan Brian Houle said he hopes Cassell can take a similar path to success, leading the team to victory after an injury to a star.
"Well, let's hope this is the next superstar coming out," Houle said. "After a few years, Brady's kind of become our boy."
Brady was coming off his best year as a pro, being named the 2007 Most Valuable Player and setting the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a regular season in which the Patriots went undefeated. The season ended on a disappointing note, though, with a loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Many fans said they were upset to hear the news about Brady, they said he's not the only star of the team, and they're still hopeful the Patriots can go all the way.
"Well, I'm pretty disappointed," said fan Adam Grau. "It was a shot to see him go down, and I hope the Patriots can recover from it."
Fan Ryan Williams said the Patriots have strong players throughout the team.
"They're still solid," he said. "Brady's obviously a superstar and probably one of the faces of the league."
Although there are other playmakers on the team, Brady was the one who got them the ball. Now, Cassell will get his chance.
"I'm a little worried about him," fan Matt Smith said. "I'm not sure if he has the experience because he was a backup in college, too. So, we'll have to see."
From WMUR http://www.wmur.com/sports/17421525/detail.html
07 September 2008
Shannon's leftover chili-Chilli is more of a method than a recipe since I use it to clear abandoned and leftover veggies and meat.
-1 package ground beef
-1 good size steak cut up really small (and marinated if a tougher meat)
5 hot dogs diced up.
- three cups tomatoes- diced
- one can tomato paste
- two chicken bouillion cubes
- 1 cup diced mushrooms
- 1/2 can black olives
- chili powder
- red pepper flakes
- 1 large garlic clove
- cayenne pepper
- 1 can green chili's
- 1 can sliced jalapenos
- 1 red onion
- 1 green pepper
(I will often use leftover salsa instead of the last ingredients...)
If using steak start by searing that in bottom of large pot. Deglaze with chicken bouillion in 1/2 cup water. Add tomatoes and simmer for ten- twenty minutes to cook and tenderize steak. Add red pepper flakes. In separate pan brown ground beef with garlic cloves and onion then add to pot. Let cook over medium heat for another five minutes. Add veggies, hot dogs, chili powder, and tomato paste. Cook another five to ten minutes until veggies are tender. Stir in spices and let incorporate. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and or jalapeno slices on top.
5 medium tomatoes- chopped
1 green pepper- minced
1/2 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic- pressed
1/2 tsp. oregano
4 small green chiles, chopped fine with stems and seeds removed
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. cilantro
Mix well and refrigerate for at least four hours before use.
Tomato and Cheese Appetizer
Small to medium tomatoes
fresh basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella cheese balls
Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices. Layer tomato, basil, mozzarella,
Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and serve!
Marinara Sauce (aka- Sailor Style Sauce)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. pressed or chopped garlic (saute until tender)
1 cup chopped onion
8 cups chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Oregano
2 Tbsp. Basil
1/2 cup parsely
2 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
In large 4 qt. pot add oil, onions, and garlic. Saute until tender. Add tomatoes (Peel tomatoes by dipping them briefly in a pan of boiling water until skin splits). Add tomato paste and spices. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 1/2 hour stirring frequently. This freezes well.
06 September 2008
Most of my work is done out of our house. I have a lovely office that we set up upstairs in the Bear Room. This is the most remote bedroom, and at the back of the house so also the quietest. Thanks to convective flow it is also the warmest room in the winter time, which suits my typing fingers well.
Despite this lovely office I tend to do about a third of my biz stuff, my blogging, e-mail, travel plans and almost all of our personal bills downstairs sitting on the little couch using my laptop (wifi). The problem is the coffee table in front of said little couch. It has become a toxic waste dump. Collecting mail, bills, to do lists, yesterday’s coffee mugs, junk mail, brochures, files… you get the idea. A secretary would help us organize and maybe pull a little double duty being a maid that will help to keep the coffee table clear. Where do you go to find one?? There were a couple of places I could think of, but I knew they may or may not have what we were looking for. We went to do a little investigating.
The first place we stopped at had one that was a little too wide. She just wouldn’t fit. I know looks aren't everything, but she was just too big! So we kept on looking. We found a homely little secretary but her spindly legs probably couldn’t hold all the paperwork, and books I would be burdening her with. We went to a place that had great offerings, but it was pricey! We found a secretary that was just right. She was a little older and had a familiar charm. She was the most expensive by almost double! So we considered very carefully. She had great organizational ability, and could be trusted with items that need to be kept safe. To be truthful she was a little darker than I would have liked- I wasn't sure she'd fit the mood, and she was missing part of her left arm. So, we agreed to look a little more the next day and if we didn’t find anything else she would be the one.
The next day we headed out again. I had three places that I wanted to check out. The first place we went to I had driven past for years but never gave a second thought to. We walked in and Art got a big smile on his face and pointed behind me. There she was! Just like that. She was beautiful. She exuded organizational expertise. She looked just like the one at the expensive place, but she had her arm intact. The best part was that she was less than half the price. She is a great fit for us.
I proudly present-
04 September 2008
And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.
For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words.
For a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds.
02 September 2008
We just hired a kid (nineteen) that was recommended by another employee. He is a very polite well spoken kid who is motivated and eager to learn and help. On his first day he was answering the phone without anyone asking him too kind of motivated.
But he had his mysteries. I even thought of doing a background check on him. The pieces didn't add up. He said his Mom was a nurse, and his dad a teacher- both retired. One would think that parents like that would want their recent high school graduate to go to college. He's a smart kid... Then he has no bank account?!? Told me he wasn't planning on getting one either. Weird. Then he has no car, but he lives one town further away from the store than we do (we're about 25 minutes). He said he was going to move closer, but then moved further away.
Today his ride to work fell through. Go figure, a nineteen year old kid's friend didn't come through with a ride... (Duh!) He called and left a message on the store's answering machine apologizing. Then he called Art about an hour after opening saying he tried really hard but couldn't get a ride and fell over himself apologizing and explaining. Art ended up going to get him. Partly because we needed the body to do what was on the schedule for today and partly to try to figure out his story and see if this was going to be the norm.
Meanwhile our crabbiest employee (kind of like Mikey- he hates everything and everyone) called and said that our next door neighbor was selling a car for a thousand bucks and we should help our newby kid buy it by loaning him the money. Then the employee who got him the job pulled us aside and asked us if we would finance the car for Newby. We asked him a bit about things like Newby's lack of bank account, etc. We found out his father has recently gotten very sick, and that changed newby's choices in life fast. He doesn't have much stability or support and needs help.
We have loaned an employee money once in our ten years. It was more financing of a stove actually and it was after he worked for us for three years. This kid has been with us two weeks. The employee who recommended him said he will co-sign on the loan and it is not a lot of money to us.
Still... I worry that all employees will assume they can use us for a bank. I worry that he won't be able to afford the insurance; Nineteen year old boy... I worry that he will crash it into a tree...
We have put ourselves out on a limb to help other young guys who needed help and the odds are not that great. They either didn't appreciate it, didn't follow through, and/or thought we were "out to get them".
But what if we did help. What if when no one else is consistent in his life we are? What if he needs someone to care that little bit extra? What if he can't do it any other way?
What to do???
01 September 2008
Art's (middle) sister and her SO have just finished major renovation in their home changing the entire downstairs layout, and removing a deck replacing it with a stamped concrete patio. The stamped concrete was amazing! We were thinking of that for our screened porch/patio project and I think seeing it sealed the deal. It looked very well thought out and flowed nicely.
We ate many yummy things, and sat by the pool in the hot CT sun. The pool was a big hit, and Uncle Arthur was an even bigger hit. Here was one of the bigger games of the day, I'll call it Dump Uncle Arthur.
Other kid games included being thrown by UA, and a complicated game of tag where the person who was IT would have to stand on the diving board with their back turned (so they couldn't see everyone) then turn, jump in the water and tag someone swimming in the water before they got to the other side. Kids in the water would hold on to the edge (which was safe), but once you let go you had to swim across. If the IT person turned around and no one was unsafe they would have to move a step away. You could be IT for a very long time... but they didn't seem to mind. They did make sure everyone had a turn being IT, too...
The adults mostly dipped their toes in to cool off, or waded out a little bit. Dale made watermelontinis for everyone and bbq'd burgers, dogs, chicken galore, and steak! Ten or so pounds of clams kicked off the snacking.
Life is Good!