as what i consider to be an independent woman, i HATE when i can not do something. hate it hate it hate it. having a husband, i have been exempt from most things that require heavy lifting or physical prowess for some time now, but every once in a while i still want to do something like put a cabinet together or move some furniture just to prove to myself that i can--that somewhere in this doting wife lives the independent woman i was before i met bryan.

well, bryan works at a power station and every spring and every fall they take all the power producing units offline to do repairs, maintenance, what have you. this means that he has only had 3 days off since the beginning of march, and typically he leaves for work right around 7am and gets home around 8ish, even on weekends. it sucks.

during this time, of course, the grass has started to grow. and grow. and grow. and no one has cut it because my hands swell when i use the lawnmower (i know this from heredity--my mom has the same problem, and from the 5 minutes of my life that bryan let me push the lawnmower around once). in the past few days, though, i have felt increasingly guilty about the state of our yard, seeing all my neighbors out in theirs' planting flowers and cutting grass and weed eating... you know, the normal stuff homeowners do when spring comes.

this all came to a head yesterday, the most gorgeous day yet, when there was really no excuse for me NOT to be out there tending to the yard. yes, i had craploads of laundry to do and furniture delivery people coming, but still. so i decided that today i would just suck it up and mow the lawn. if my hands swelled, i'd stop, but i'd try to toughen up and push through and at least get the front portion of our yard looking presentable.

so i read the paper, drink my coffee, and finally decide it's time. i put on a t-shirt, jeans, hat, sneakers... out to the garage i go. i get the lawnmower out, read the directions on the handle.

check oil. check.
check gas. check.
push primer button 3 times. check.
hold down bar next to handle. check.
pull starter cord 1-3 times to start mower. check. -ish.

nothing happens. a little swirling around of the motor to mock me, sure. but no giant roar of a running lawnmower. so i'm frustrated, but comfort myself in the fact that this is the first time i've ever tried to start a lawnmower, so it might take a couple times to get it going. and luckily the directions tell me to repeat steps 3-5 if it doesn't start. so at least i'm not the only person in the world who has to try more than once.

so i try again.


and again.


and again.


at this point i'm pissed. i'm breathing hard and little beads of sweat are starting to break out on my forehead under my hat because i am pulling that damn cord with all my might! of course, it doesn't help that my right arm is totally useless from arthritis damage, so my pulls are weak, and i try a few times to hold the bar down with my right hand and pull the cord with my left, but every time i pull, the lawnmower just moves with the cord. ARG!!!

so i call bryan. what's the trick, i ask? pull it hard and fast. uh huh. i think i'm doing that but am getting the impression that lydia's "hard/fast pull" is not adequate for the requirements of this lawnmower's engine.

so he tells me it's alright and as i'm talking to him all i can think is, have i really become the girl who, were i not married, couldn't even cut her own grass?! so i get off the phone and am determined i'm going to start this freaking lawnmower.

because i am embarassed for my neighbors (who are of course out in their yards as well) to see that i am incapable of starting the lawnmower, i pull it inside the garage to have my little "me vs. mower" battle in private.

i try again.






and maybe 3 more times until finally, i admit defeat. and come inside to blog about it.

so that's where i stand now. me: 0, lawnmower: 9. my arm is tired and my confidence shot, and my grass waving at me in a "nanny nanny boo boo" sort of way.

all i can say is, it's a good thing i've got a husband, and where can i find some kid to cut my grass?


rendered numb.

the worst mass murder spree in u.s. history.
massacre at virginia tech.
33 dead, dozens wounded.

how does this happen?

what goes on in someone's life that he decides the answer is killing so many people? were the people who were supposed to love him absent, was he neglected? or was it a chemical misfire in his brain, a psychological disease that couldn't have been helped? how can someone so methodically murder two people, then two hours later head across campus and murder 30 more? just, point blank, kill as many people as he could.

it's evident from the tiny bit of information we've been given at this point, 7pm the day of, that he was in reasonably sound mind--he seems to have had the foresight to chain the doors shut to the building he entered to begin his rampage. and i'm baffled by this more than anything--isn't something supposed to click with us humans after we've murdered that, holy shit, that was horrible? not, alright, let me get my ammo together and go over here and see how many more people i can kill.

not that i've studied mass murders or anything, but it seems to me that typically when someone sets out to massacre multiple people, they go in, shoot as many people as they can, and then are either killed by police or kill themselves. there's no "down time." those two hours are terrifying. that he was getting ready for what was coming next. he entered each room and shot without saying anything. it doesn't sound like he was maniaically crazed--he was calm and purposeful.

of course, the media now wants us to blame virginia tech police/security. they should have locked the campus down after the first shooting. why weren't classes cancelled, why did so much time pass before students were notified. but i don't see them being culpable at all. they believed the first murders were a domestic issue. that he had a target, had murdered her and probably her poor RA who was trying to help, and that now they were just searching for the guilty man. why would anyone believe a man who wanted to kill his girlfriend was going to go and shoot up the rest of the school? and really, what more could they have done? had they brought in swat teams and search helicopters to find this guy before he achieved his massacre, the media would now be saying the school completely overreacted to a domestic incident.

the other thing that's popping up in the news tonight is gun control. some say this is a prime example of why there should be stricter regulations on gun ownership. some say this is precisely the reason people should be able to carry concealed weapons. i have watched these news broadcasts and read biting comments at the end of news articles, and i feel completely numb about it. all i can think is, so what. so what if we make owning a gun legally more difficult. there are always illegal guns to be had if one is so inclined. so what if kids had been allowed to carry guns with them to class. someone else would have been shot on campus by now. no one would have carried a gun to class even if they were allowed because, really, why do i need a gun in my german class at virginia tech?

i just find myself disconnected from violence like this. not disconnected in the sense of emotions--i've gotten teary eyed a few times today. but disconnected in the sense that i can't imagine what possible solution there could be for violence like this. better parenting? maybe. the golden rule? probably. no more guns? doubt it. eliminate violence in the media? who knows. i mean, look at our world. it's just getting worse. people just seem to be caring about each other less and less. and that makes me achingly sad.

what if this had been 10 years ago? that email that the administration sent would have been pointless. at that time, i was still using the computer labs to check my email once a day. as were many of my friends. i have absolutely no idea how anyone would have gotten word around grounds at uva had 2 people been shot in one of our dorms. yet newspeople are outraged that it took almost 2 hours for va tech admins to send out this email. perhaps they wanted to get all the facts of the incident before they caused mass hysteria?

again, i'm just so numb about all of this. this is a senseless act of extreme violence. this is not the fault of virginia tech. this is not something that warrants questions of blame. i hate that our media has resorted to this sort of storyline. yet i can't pull myself away from cnn, msnbc, foxnews... whichever doesn't have a commercial on at the moment.

rumor has it the shooter had no identification on him and shot himself in the face, giving police an incredibly difficult task in figuring out who he is. my guess is they probably have some ideas considering the assumption that he knew at least one of his first two victims. but again, he was very thorough. again, how does this happen.

my heart is in blacksburg tonight, and in towns all across america where families have lost loved ones. and to everyone else, hold each other tight, and let's all try to be a little more aware of the people in our lives who are unhappy and seem troubled... somehow we, as a nation, have got to find a way to prevent this sort of thing.


the tri-birthday throwdown

so, last weekend was not only easter weekend, but saturday was my grandma's, my mother-in-law's and my niece's birthday! since all of my in-laws (7 of 'em) were coming down for easter, i decided it would be fun to have a grammer/klinger celebration of the ladies--a tri-birthday throw down, as i like to call it.

all of our company arrived by late friday night, so saturday was our first real day to spend together. so that i didn't have to stay home all day cooking, i asked the grammer family to each bring a dish to the party. this gave me the freedom to at least try to entertain the klingers. i had a great idea that me and the ladies and kids could go to maymont for the easter festivities while the boys went and visited bryan at work for a tour of the power station.

so, got up early saturday and made waffles and sausage for everyone (now that i'm grown up and married i figured this is the good hostess thing to do), and peeked out the window to this:

the only snow we got that stuck ALL YEAR. in APRIL. the day i am trying to ENTERTAIN PEOPLE OUTSIDE. lovely.

oh well, it was pretty and memorable! we decided to go to maymont anyway. and when we got there, we were greeted with a sign informing us that the festivities were cancelled for the day. nice. like richmonders can't handle the cold?! okay, we can't. but still!

luckily the flowers had already bloomed...

and the animals were still around to entertain. joey seemed to like them and katrina and lisa even got in on the animal feeding action!

the baby lambs were super cute, especially this one who was doing some stunts up on the posts:

we walked around for about 45 minutes but it was freaking COLD and so we didn't dilly-dally much. we went and had lunch at liberty valance in richmond, where neener (my stepmom) used to work, and i must say it was not the liberty valance i remembered. oh well.

got home around 4 and it was time to get ready for the party! unfortunately i suck at remembering to take pictures, so i missed a lot of the action, but here are a few shots from the festivities:

we had lots of yummy food. my fabulous husband partook (along with everyone else).

each of the birthday girls, with their individual birthday cakes. after all, if you're gonna share your birthday, you shouldn't have to share your cake!

birthday cakes were courtesy of lois, my uncle bruce's gal. love them! (love to my aunt elaine and uncle jack, too, who brought tasty treats but who i did not snap a picture of!)

lucky for me everyone gets along really well in these two families. for example, my dad and my dad-in-law:

my mother-in-law and my stepmother:
and then my grandma and my mother-in-law, who kept demanding more and more wine throughout the evening... (yes, i made them drink it in solo cups.)

of course, whenever the grammer family celebrates, there must be jokes between shane and grandma. here, grandma with her birthday card from my cousin shane:

yes, that says "OLD BAG" on it. grandma and shane can't help but pick at each other, and shane is oh-so-proud of himself for this one:

as the party wore down, bryan decided it was time to get down to the business of some poker playing. he even went out and bought felt to cover the dining room table!

now, i wasn't totally with it, but i believe it was lisa that won. congrats!

i must admit to you that my glass was never empty at this party, and as the night wore on, it became apparent that jan (my mother-in-law) and i were the drunkest girls at the party. and because i am a good daughter-in-law, i will not post the evidence.

okay, screw that, it's good stuff!! :)

after everyone left, we were getting ready to head up to bed, but had to stop by the "bar" on the way. we celebrated jan's birthday and a fun party with a toast to the camera:

a swig or two from the bottle:

a couple of groans and not-so-pretty drunk faces (on me anyway):

and then it was time to bed. bryan carried me, gary pushed jan up the stairs. and that was about all i remember of that night. :-D

i wish i could say easter was as great a day as saturday, but unfortunately all of the food i bought to create a masterpiece easter dinner is still in my fridge, as i was massively hungover. all of my guests said it didn't matter, that they'd had a great time saturday evening, so i will just take their word for it! i know i had a great time, that's for sure!


bryan puts his foot down!

so yesterday bryan had his second day off in about 6 weeks. while it would have been nice to do nothing but relax, we've got company coming this weekend. we both were very busy, but to summarize the day, i think the best way is to recreate below the email bryan sent to his coworkers this morning:

bryan'sworkemail@hiswork.com said:

So i had a day off...

The GOOD: TV installed in the bathroom.

The BAD: The mess that needed to be cleaned up.

The UGLY: The spot in the ceiling that I put my foot through.

Always remember STAR.
STOP: I did. Thankfully I was still in the attic.
THINK: 'Damn!'
ACT: I got up, then went out the *other* access hole and down the ladder.
REVIEW: Summnabitch there is a huge hole in the ceiling that needs to be

lovely, isn't it? :) those OSHA saftey acronyms really come in handy....