Grammar Police

Today I went to the mexican cart outside our building for lunch (we have many street vendors). I had to stand in line for a while, and the longer I stood there, the more annoyed I got. The cart is new, so for a while they just had a dry erase board with a hand-written menu. Well, since the last time I was there, they got a sign professionally made. And one of the items was TACO'S.

If you're not as crazed as I am about grammar*, you may not recognize that that apostrophe is totally WRONG**. You don't put in an apostrophe to make something plural. I know people make mistakes, so generally I just overlook this sort of thing, but this was on a SIGN. A PERMANENT SIGN.

So I peeled off the apostrophes--on both signs. I'll consider that my random act of kindness for the day.

Oh, they also had 12' tortillas for their burritos (that would be 12 FEET, not 12 INCHES, which would be 12"). I couldn't figure out any way to fix that though. And that will just be humorous to grammar/punctuation nazis like me***. Whereas the apostrophes were just plain offensive. :)

*Being crazed about grammar does NOT mean I never make grammatical errors. Because I do. Especially that whole "don't use a preposition at the end of a sentence thing." But I do that because I want to. ;-)

**If this is a new lesson to you, and you care to learn more about the proper use of an apostrophe, you can click here.

***Some of those people have a blog.


Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I had to chuckle this morning when I heard on NPR that China has spent over $10 billion trying to clean up all the pollution in Beijing before the Olympics, because I can relate. This weekend is my 30th birthday party at our house, and Bryan and I have certainly been doing the same thing China has--huge clean up projects before the guests show up!!

Thankfully the house is in pretty good shape inside, but over the weekend we decided that one of the things we needed to tend to before the party is the... hmm, what do I call them... not flower beds, not landscaped areas... uh... those places in front of the house that were supposed to be landscaped areas? :) With the bushes and stuff? Yeah, that part. Bryan bought our house in March 2003, and apart from a couple of feeble attempts on my part to plant flowers, no attention has ever been paid to these areas. The builder put in a couple of boxwoods and some other bush, most of which did nothing except sit there, hardly growing at all. And then I came along a couple months ago with the Round Up and killed a few of the smaller ones. Yeah. So, like I said, we had some work to do.

Sunday we went to the dump and got free mulch (smart move!), and set to work clearing out the crap and moving some stuff and REmoving some stuff. Mostly it was me standing there watching Bryan pull bushes out of the ground. And then the boy got all Farmer Brown on me and decided if we were doing this, we were doing it right. So we had to go to Lowe's to get a pick axe so that he could turn up the soil in the beds... because it's not soil. It's clay. And it does not budge when you try to shift it with a shovel. After a few hours of watching Bryan swing that pick axe like he was working on the railroad, we got the mulch down, but that left us with empty, mulched beds.

Last night we headed back to Lowe's (oh, THIS is how homeowners do it?!) and gathered up some plants and some top soil and some pretty mulch and headed home to complete the project. It took a lot longer than either of us thought it would, because we decided we'd go all out and put down that weed-prevention paper and plastic flower bed liner and all this bull crap that BETTER KEEP THE WEEDS OUT. So when it got dark, Bryan brought out the lights he uses when he works on the cars, and we kept on going until at least the front bed was done. Tonight we have to plant the azalea bush we bought for another spot, then put the pretty mulch on top of the free dump mulch, and we will be good to go.

I gotta say, it is rather satisfying work. Lord, what is happening to me? First basketball, now gardening?! Yes, this must be what your thirties look like... ;-)

I meant to take a picture with the real camera, but forgot it, so here's one I snapped with my cell phone on the way to work this morning... those are hostas and begonias if you're wondering... :)


White Girls Can't Jump

I must have been feeling feverish on Friday night, because Bryan and I were sitting on the couch and trying to decide what we were going to do to occupy our evening, and I said, "Do we have tennis rackets? No, we don't... how about basketball? Wanna go play basketball?"

If you know me, you know that those are just about the most uncharacteristic words I've ever spoken. I don't do sports. Hell, I don't do physical activity! And my husband does. And so that man's eyes lit up like he had just gotten a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. He practically ran into the garage and got the basketballs before I could change my mind, and I realized that as much as I had really just been talking out of my ass, I was kinda obligated to go along with this idea... which was mine to start with. Somehow.

So we headed to the neighborhood next to us, where we know (he knows) there are basketball courts. Unfortunately, there were about 20 teenage boys at one court, and there was no way in hell I was putting my poor, poor athletic abilities on display for those kids. We headed to the closest elementary school--the hoops were taken down for the summer. In a final desperate search for an open court, we headed to the local high school and hit the jackpot! A big open basketball court with 8 hoops and no one around to see me make a fool of myself.

We played for about an hour... if you can call it playing. Bryan shot hoops, I marveled at the fact that I could dribble and walk at the same time and that this was natural for me while walking and carrying a basketball, and then I got really fancy and ran and dribbled at the same time! It was at this point that the sky opened up and the angels sang.

It was actually a lot of fun, in spite of the fact that I probably attempted about 50 baskets and made perhaps 5 of those. :) Bryan really enjoyed himself, and, who knows, maybe we'll go again sometime... I can only improve from those stats!


Sunny Day in Seattle

Well, it appears that my sightseeing time in Seattle has ended. I am at the conference hotel now… it’s a nice enough hotel, a Doubletree… but it’s literally right next door to the airport, and when you’re coming from the swank W Hotel downtown, well… it’s quite a change. The cool thing, though, is I have a sweet view of a lake right out my window. If I look to the left, I can’t even see the trailer park on the other side! (For real! :))

This morning I got up and followed my nose straight to Le Panier for my pain au chocolat (or chocolate croissant for you non-Francophiles) and a giant baguette to tote around with me all day. It was another beautiful day, and I strolled down the waterfront to the ferry terminal, where I paid less than $7 for a roundtrip boat ride across the Puget Sound. Destination: a little place called Bainbridge Island. Like everything around here, it is a beautiful place, with lots of green trees and beautiful flowers EVERYWHERE. I was particularly entranced by the hydrangea there… to die for! I thought to myself that if I lived here, I might actually be able to plant something and keep it alive!

I wandered through the town and headed for a little restaurant on the marina called Doc’s, where I had the best fish & chips I think I’ve ever had. YUM. And the view! Check it out:

Before heading back to the ferry, I stopped by the Bainbridge Island Historical Society. I figured while I was there I should probably get in a little history. What did I learn? Well, the native Americans used to come there in the summer, then once this area began to be populated by whiteys, they did a lot of logging and creosote-making there, and also like many areas here there were lots of Japanese and Japanese-Americans there when the US government decided they were all terrorists back in 1941, and all were taken away. That part of the history here is quite sad… :( To think that happened so recently in our own back yard is a bit disgraceful, really…

But I digress. On the ferry ride back, I got my first views of Mount Ranier. It was hazy all weekend, but you can see the ghost of the mountain if you look real hard:

Once I was back in Seattle, I headed down to Pioneer Square for the Underground Tour. Did you know that after the Great Fire of 1889, they basically leveled out part of the city down to the Sound, essentially covering up one to two floors of the buildings closest to the water? Crazy stuff, no? I also went up to the observation deck of Smith Tower, which was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River until the mid-sixties. Pretty good views of the city…

And then I hopped in a cab and headed to the whole reason I’m here in the first place: business. I guess we will call this the “relaxation” portion of my trip, since there ain’t jack to do here!! :)

Except eat, which is what I am going to try to do now... except the bar that I encountered first is super smokey (ie, gross, disgusting, unappetizing), so I gotta wander and see if they have anywhere else to eat in this joint. If not, I'll just head back to my room and eat the rest of my baguette! :)


I'm in love with Pikes Place Market.

So, here I am in Seattle. And in spite of missing my husband dearly, I am having a great time.

It took a little while for me to get in the swing of this whole traveling alone thing. It's not the first time I've done it, but I don't do it often. Last night I was so proud of myself--I actually went and had dinner at a REAL restaurant all by myself! It was actually pretty cool, because they had a "tasting bar" that put you right in front of the chefs, so I plopped down there and chatted with the cooks and got to sample a few things besides my delicious crab cake. It wasn't the most comfortable thing ever, but I did it. :)

This morning I did a food tour of Pikes Place Market. And I am officially in love. Holy crap, that place is A. MA. ZING. It's full of all different kinds of food, including the famous fishmongers tossing giant fishies, the most vibrant and lucious produce EVER, and flowers... beautiful, beautiful, beautiful flowers. For DIRT CHEAP. I can not explain how it made my heart ache that I can't just gather up armfuls of those suckers (which would have cost me about $20) and take them home. I considered buying some to keep in my hotel room since I'm going to be here for a while, but decided against it. I'll hardly be in there to enjoy them. I spent hours there today... oh, how I wish there were markets like that in Richmond. (Note to self: Go to more farmer's markets, find some semblance of Pikes Place near home.)

I also went and checked out the Olympic Sculpture Garden, a lovely, peaceful park right on the harbor. I plopped down there and had an iced coffee drink and read my book for a while and refreshed a bit before making my second trip to Pikes Place. :)

After I brought my purchases back to my hotel, I popped into the Seattle Public Library, which is a block away from where I'm staying over the weekend. Surprisingly, the library is one of the big tourist stops here. The architecture is super cool (no, not a technical term to describe architecture). I was in the mood for something a little more low key for dinner tonight (after my love affair with the market lightened up my pocketbook a bit...), so I just went to a shopping center down the street and ate some cheap asian food.

Tomorrow, the plan is to hop on a ferry and go across the harbor to a little place called Bainbridge Island, then come back and do the underground Seattle tour. Oh, but FIRST! I'm headed back to the market to this little French bakery for a pain au chocolat... which makes me drool just thinking about it. :) Then I'll have to head out towards the airport to the hotel where my training is and actually take care of the business that brought me here in the first place. :)

Now, I'm sitting in the lobby of my hotel with my free wi-fi, sipping on a scrumptious apple martini and checking out the crowd... life is good.


Sleepless in Seattle.

Well, I'm off to Seattle this afternoon.

I have a training there next week, and, since I've never been and have no idea when I'll ever go again, I decided to go a couple days early and see the sights. Bryan has been before (he had a college friend who lived there for a while), so we're saving those several hundred bucks and he's staying home. I do wish he was coming with me, but I am determined to enjoy the city even on my own!

Tomorrow I'm signed up for a Savor Seattle food tour that I am very excited about... apart from that, who knows what I'll do! I'll have a computer with me, so I'll try to keep you updated!


Here's what I do on Tuesdays.

Last week I went and bought produce from the Chesterfield Berry Farm Farmer's Market. Not only is way cheaper than any grocery store around, it is super fresh and super yummy and I'm supporting local farmers. Everybody wins.

Anyway, one of the awesome deals I got was on peaches. Of course, the great price and beautiful fruit made me buy more than we could eat before they went bad, so last night I needed to use up what was left. So I decided to make a peach cobbler.

And GOOD LORD was it good.

Bryan and I totally gorged ourselves on peach cobbler and ice cream. To the point where there is only about 1/5 of the cobbler left for us to fight over--i mean eat--tonight. It could get ugly.

I think I know what my go-to dessert is going to be from now on. Like, YUM.

OMG, we wnt 2 KD!

My brother and sister came down at the end of last week to go to Kingsfest, a Christian concert series, at Kings Dominion with their church youth group. On Saturday, I decided to join them for the day at KD. We had a great time, although I didn't get to spend much time with Zech--he was too busy running around with his friend Chris. Victoria and I spent the day together, though, with a few glimpses of Zech and his curly haired sidekick, and we had a great time. It was fun to share stories of the bajillion times I've been to KD thanks to years of season passes when I was younger. And the best part was that the park was filled with tons of church youth groups, which seemed to outnumber the usual motley crew of rifraf you see at the park. I mean, I hardly even worried my bag was going to get stolen while I was on the rides!

I took my camera, but, in true lydia fashion, I hardly remembered to take pictures. I did take some of Zech and his pal on the Drop Zone, though, which are a perfect reflection of my little brother's personality:

"I am way too cool to smile for you to take a picture of me. Also, totally bored with this ride that takes me up 272 feet and then drops me at 72 miles an hour."

"Okay... here we go... she probably can't get a picture of me smiling from this far away... this actually is fun. I wonder how my hair looks."

"Holy crap, that was a rush... but not really... way too cool to care. Man, I bet my hair looks good after all that wind blowing through it!"

You know I love you, Zech! And your hair! ;-)

Every time I look at him I think about my mom's high school yearbook from the late seventies. Same hairstyle. And now that I think about it, my little brother reminds me a LOT of Jordan Catalano.

Come to think about it, Victoria and Zechariah could be characters on My So-Called Life. I will have to tell them to watch that show...


Ten bucks.

Ten bucks to anyone who can help me figure out where to buy this wig. I MUST have it. (Dooce is my hero. If I ever have a dog, I want it to be just like Chuck, seen above.)


Dream Big.

Have you seen this story? I love it.

The synopsis: A 48-year-old man from Oregon, Kent Couch, flew a lawn chair rigged with helium filled balloons 200 miles into Idaho, the next state over. He carried a Red Ryder BB gun with him to pop the balloons as needed to adjust his course and his altitude.

Here's what he had to say about his voyage:

"If I had the time and money and people, I'd do this every weekend," Couch said before getting into the chair. "Things just look different from up there. You've moving so slowly. The best thing is the peace, the serenity. Originally, I wanted to do it because of boyhood dreams. I don't know about girls, but I think most guys look up in the sky and wish they could ride on a cloud."

It wasn't his first attempt at getting out of the state. He had tried a time or two before, but he needed to tweak the process a bit..

To that end, he ordered more balloons. Dozens of volunteers wearing fluorescent green T-shirts that said "Dream Big" filled latex balloons 5 feet in diameter, attached them to strings and tied clusters of six balloons each to a tiny carabiner clip.

Although his wife called him crazy (can't blame her), I love that this guy pursued his boyhood dream and in the process made so many other people think about dreaming big. I know if I had seen a man floating over me in a lawn chair surrounded by a hundreds of huge, colorful balloons, I would certainly be taken back to my childhood wonderment. And seeing him land successfully? Well, it kind of makes you wonder which dreams of yours could be possible if you put in a little effort and perseverance.

And the fact that he used a Red Ryder BB gun of all things, well... that, my friends, is priceless.


Yay, America!

Well, I was starting to think this 4th of July was going to be a bit of a bust, but the R Braves Firework Crew proved me wrong.

Until Thursday morning, we had plans to head up to Pennsylvania. Many weeks and weekends of neglecting our house, though, made us reconsider, and we finally decided to stay home and do things around the house instead. Not the most fun holiday weekend, but PRODUCTIVE. And boy, do I like productive. In the past two days, I have basically done spring cleaning on the entire downstairs of our house, including hand scrubbing all of the linoleum. My hands hurt, but damn, those floors look good.

Last night, we decided to head down to Colonial Heights to watch the fireworks, because I do not do 4th of July with no fireworks. Wouldn't you know, they were canceled because of the weather. ARG!
To make up for missing them last night, we decided to go to the Richmond Braves game tonight. I have never been able to figure out where the best fireworks in Richmond are, and I think I got my answer tonight. It was an awesome show, complete with patriotic music and cheering fans. I love that experience, of celebrating the fact that we are all Americans and we're happy to live here and have the great lives we have. Granted, the majority of people watching fireworks probably aren't thinking stuff like that between their "oohs" and "ahhs," but I am. I even shed a couple of tears during the national anthem/finale, when everyone stood up and removed their hats. I might not seem like the most patriotic girl in the world, but the history of this country does not escape me, and I know that if I lived somewhere else or if things hadn't happened the way they had, I would not be leading the life I lead. And I really dig my life as it is, so... yay, America. :)

The Braves lost, unfortunately. Oh, and it rained for the last three innings of the game. But after that fireworks show, none of that really matters. :)


I am such a sap.

Just got back from seeing WALL-E. It's a love story. About two robots.

I cried. I'm such a sucker for romance. :)

Stationary Bicycle

Lately, I feel like my wheels are spinning but I'm not getting anywhere.

Part of the problem is that I haven't really focused on a destination. Or that I have so many destinations I'm headed for that I never seem to make any real headway towards any of them.

I want to be a good wife and partner for my husband (and I want him to be a good husband and partner for me--this ain't just my job! :) ). But in that goal, there are numerous destinations: quality time together, quality time apart, keeping the house clean, keeping food in our mouths (because I like to cook), planning for the future, organizing the present. We are super good at quality time together, which I have zero complaints about. The result of that, though, is that I often neglect housekeeping or grocery shopping or any of the other destinations I'm headed for. And then I get frustrated because the house is a mess, and then I get crabby, and then I am definitely just spinning tires in the pursuit of being a good partner.

I want to be a good daughter, friend, granddaughter, sister, etc. With that goal, there are so many people that I want to spend time with, and I find myself putting off spending time with each of them until I really have a nice, good, big chunk of time to spend with them, because I love them all so much that I want to be around them for a long time when I DO see them... but then I find that too many days pass without those big blocks of time presenting themselves, and I feel like I'm neglecting the most important relationships in my life. And then I get frustrated because I haven't seen or talked to most of the people I love in way too long, and then I can't decide who to see FIRST since I need to see EVERYONE.

I want to nurture myself and be the best ME I can be. I want to travel. I want to take classes. I want to exercise. I want to read. I want to watch TV. I want to take naps. I want to write. I want to browse the internet. I want to get organized. I want to print out all of my pictures and make albums. I want to join a book club. I want to cook more. I want to decorate my house. I want to make a budget. I want to figure out how to invest wisely and lucratively. I want to paint. I want to learn how to paint. I want to be a teacher. I want to be better at my job. I want to mentor a kid that needs it. I want to learn more about what's going on in the world. I want to grow a garden. I want to go to the beach.

I want to do it all, I think.

And really, when it comes down to it, I want to figure out not how to narrow that list down, but how to do all of those things. I've never considered myself an overachiever, but, looking at that list, I sort of feel like one. Maybe now that I have that list, though, I can get this bicycle off its stand and actually pedal it down the road...