My life is "Pickles."

Last night, Bryan and I planned to have a date since he's about to start working the outage, aka: I will not see my husband in daylight for the next several weeks. We were going to go out to dinner and then come home and watch LOST.

We headed to Friday's. A million people outside. Bryan hates waiting to eat, so we decided to go to Mexican. Usually that's fast and there aren't as many people there. Well, I guess the warm weather had EVERYONE going out to dinner, because everywhere we thought we might go was packed.

Finally, my uber-romantic husband says, "I know! Why don't we go to Costco? We can get pizza and hot dogs, and then we can get some stuff that we need there! We can even get milk so we won't have to stop anywhere else!"

People, I won't lie. I was miffed. I had been planning on a nice evening out where I perused a menu, someone asked me what I wanted to eat, and then that person also brought me that food. Costco was NOT what I had in mind. But once Bryan got that idea in his head, I knew if we went somewhere and sat and waited 20 minutes for a table, he was going to be sitting next to me thinking, "We'd have eaten by now if we were at Costco... and we would be shopping now..."

So I gave in. And it was fine. To be fair, Bryan let me peruse the menu, asked me what I wanted, then brought it to me. :) And we had just been out to dinner (in the FAN at a NON-CHAIN restaurant, no less!) with our friends Rich and Kristy on Wednesday, and I'm going out to eat with some girlfriends today at a restaurant in Carytown... so I get my real restaurant fix elsewhere. :)

Anyway, this morning, I woke up and did my normal Saturday routine: coffee and the newspaper. When I finally got to the comic section, I about died. I have always said that the comic strip "Pickles" is my life (except we're much younger), but today... today was uncanny.

You can read more Pickles here.

If ever there was a question if we were an "old married couple," I believe it has been answered.


Stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!

Last night as Bryan and I watched the President address Congress (and us), we commented about how tiring it must be for all those people to keep standing up to clap, then sitting down for 2 minutes, then stand up again, then sit down... for, what, an hour and a half!?

Bryan suggested Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi needed to get big sticks and paste cardboard cutouts of their heads on the top of them, that way when it was time to stand up, they could just remain seated and lift their "heads" up to where they would be if they were standing. Not a bad idea, eh?

We liked the idea so much, in fact, that Bryan made us some prototypes to use for the rest of the speech...

Why, yes, yes we are big dorks... but we have a damn good time at my house. :)

**(I'm working on a post about our cruise... I've been sick and busy to boot... it'll come, I promise!)


We be cruisin'.

Over Valentine's Day weekend, we took a little trip. We returned from our mid-winter getaway on the Tuesday after V-Day. And boy did we come home to a rude awakening... no longer was a light jacket enough (or short sleeves, for that matter!), we had to break out the heavy winter gear!

We headed down to New Orleans the Thursday before to catch our cruise ship out of town. Our flight left super early, so we rolled out of the house at a little after 4am. We were actually pretty well prepared to leave the house on time, except for the fact that when I took the trash out, I discovered that the wind had blown our recycling all over our yard. And we are big recyclers. Of course we couldn't leave for a week and leave all that crap strewn everywhere, so we had to run around and pick all of that up before we could set out.

When we arrived in New Orleans, the plan was to hop a cab to the cruise terminal, drop off our bags, then maybe walk around for a bit. We collected our bags and headed outside, where I told the taxi dispatcher where we were headed. She radioed the cab, and he pulled up and loaded us in. And then the problems began. He asked where we were going, I said, "we're going to the cruise terminal." "What's the street address?" he said.

Uh, say wha? Is there more than one cruise terminal in this town?! I didn't bother to get the street address. I thought any taxi driver in New Orleans would know exactly where to take someone departing on a cruise. Apparently I was wrong.

Our driver did not speak English very well, so the next few minutes were a mess. I tried a few different ways of telling him where to go, but he just KEPT asking for the street address. Finally I called Sharon, a co-worker who I hoped would be at her desk, and asked her to look it up for me. And even on the effing Port of New Orleans website, there was no STREET ADDRESS. The place is on PORT OF NEW ORLEANS WAY for god's sake! I was pissed, and Bryan was in the seat next to me trying to get me to keep myself together and not go off on our little foreign cab driver. Sharon got on google maps and found the cross street, and he nodded his assent that he knew where Julia Street was. So I got off the phone with Sharon, and I'm like, dude, do you KNOW where we're going? And he says, "What is the hotel name?"

Holy hell.

Bryan stepped in at this point and said "Carnival Cruise, we're not going to a hotel." And the man said, "Well that's all you had to say, yes, Carnival Cruise. Okay."

I couldn't believe it. He doesn't know where to take us if we say "cruise terminal" but "Carnival cruise" works?! Oh. My. God.

Finally we arrived at the (only) cruise terminal. We handed over our bags and went wandering around until it was time to board. I was reminded how much I love New Orleans. Sure, there are parts that aren't so pretty, but the riverwalk is so nice...

We got on the ship and had some lunch, and then went to our room for the muster drill, where they make everyone get their life jackets and go to your muster station, where you would gather if the boat was sinking. Because it would certainly not be chaos if that was happening. Then it was time to set sail!

The next couple of days passed in a very similar fashion: wake up, eat breakfast, lay by pool, eat lunch, lay by pool/check out activities in main lounge, change for dinner, eat dinner, go to show/wander around. A completely relaxing vacation, where you don't have too many choices to make and everything is pretty much ready for you whenever you want it! :)

Our one port was Cozumel. We spent Valentine's Day there, and Bryan and I decided to do a mini jeep tour with snorkeling. Or "mini-yeeps" as our Mexican tour guides called them. :) The guides took us to the lot where all of the yeeps were parked, and we loaded in and headed for Punta Sur, a beautiful park with a road alongside the Cozumel coastline. It was a beautiful, warm day. We got to see a small Mayan ruin (damn, those Mayans were smart), some saltwater crocodiles and (I think) the oldest lighthouse on the island. We even stopped off for an authentic Mexican snack--chips and salsa! Yum!!

We were originally supposed to snorkel at Punta Sur, but the water wasn't clear there, so they took us to another spot for the snorkeling. We saw some cool stuff, and our guides fed the fish, which created an interesting frenzy. Lucky for me they were almost done eating before I realized that I was practically smack in the middle of a school of fish. I do not like fish touching me, I may have freaked a little had I realized sooner what was going on. Ha!

One of the most interesting things about Cozumel is how Carnival has basically built a whole new port there, complete with fancy-schmancy shopping and restaurants and such. When Bryan and I were on our honeymoon, we went to Cozumel for scuba diving on the ferry from the mainland. When we were there, the ferry dock was the same dock used for the cruise ships, and you walked off the boat into a very old part of Cozumel. Apparently that wasn't good enough for Carnival, so rather than helping to rebuild/revitalize that part of the island, they just popped up a new little town. Kinda crazy!

After our excursion it was back on the boat for more cruisin'... we pulled anchor and were headed back for New Orleans. We had one more day on the boat before they kicked us off and we had a couple of days in NOLA.

I had planned out exactly what we were going to eat in New Orleans. On our list: muffaletta (an awesome italian sandwich with this olive salad on it), gumbo, jambalaya, beignets at Cafe du Monde and po' boys. We had it all, and it was mmm, mmm, good. I love Cajun/Creole food. Let me know where I can get some in Richmond if you are aware of somewhere that does it right!

The day we arrived back in New Orleans, we decided to get in on a swamp tour. As if we hadn't spent enough time over the last four days on a boat... :) The tour bus picked us up after lunch and headed out to swampland. On the way we passed plenty of places that have *still* not been rebuilt since Katrina. It is really depressing and a bit surreal to see whole apartment complexes and department stores empty and rotting. New Orleans is in a period of rebirth, but they have definitely not recovered completely yet.

We met our tour guide Gerry and hopped on our boat. Gerry was awesome--the man knew everything. Not five minutes into the tour, we saw three or four wild boars in the swamp! I had no idea we even have those suckers in the US. The rest of the tour gave us looks at alligators, some big white birds whose name I forget, turtles... all kinds of stuff. In some ways it was disappointing to hear Gerry tell us that in 4-6 weeks we'd be seeing tons more rats and snakes and such, but when he described how we would have seen HUNDREDS of snakes hanging from the trees, I have to say I was glad we were there a little early in the year. :) He told us that he has had them FALL INTO THE BOAT. Holy God, I'd pass out right there. Or jump into the swamp, and subsequently be eaten by an alligator. Which might be better than hanging out with a snake. ;-)

After dinner Monday night, we headed to Harrah's for a little bit of poker, then made our way back to Bourbon Street, which was surprisingly dead. I guess the partiers weren't there yet, it wasn't quite Mardi Gras time. Bryan and I grabbed the requisite Hand Grenade drinks then made our way back down to see what was up at my favorite blues club. And would you believe that it was CLOSED? Talk about SAD!!! We were forced to check out a few other places, until Bryan's Hand Grenade got the best of him and he felt like he was going to keel over (he claims too much sours), and we headed back to our hotel (which was a block from Bourbon Street, awesome location!).

Tuesday we had most of the day to do a little more sightseeing before we had to catch our flight home, so we headed over to Mardi Gras World, where they create the floats for all of the parades. We figured if we weren't going to get to see an actual parade, we could at least go check out (some of) what we'd be missing. Mardi Gras World was pretty cool, although we were a bit miffed to find at the end that we could have just come in and wandered around for free--we had paid the $17/person for the "tour!" About the only thing we got out of that $17 that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise was the chance to try on some Mardi Gras gear and a movie about the dude that created Mardi Gras World... our tour guide was okay, but... not really worth that money!

After eating our muffaletta in the park at Jackson Square, it was time to head back to the hotel and catch a cab for the airport. We asked our driver about the wack-ass situation we had getting to the cruise terminal with our other driver, and he agreed with us that "cruise terminal" was enough for any cab driver in New Orleans. I was happy to be told I was right. :)

We got home late Tuesday night, and it was back to work on Wednesday. And because it wouldn't be a vacation if it didn't happen, I have been sick since a couple of days after we got back. Today I finally almost feel human again... but it was worth it. :) We had a great time!

You can check out all of the pictures from our trip here.


Sailing away.

Image courtesy www.cruiseweb.com

Well, we're off on another adventure tomorrow! Bryan and I decided to take advantage of the way low cruise prices these days and we're headed to Cozumel on a 4-day cruise. Bryan's never been on a cruise and I haven't been on one since I graduated from college, so I think it will be fun! I'm interested to see how Bryan likes it compared to just going somewhere and staying there for a while. Curious to see what I think after all these years, too!

The cruise leaves from New Orleans tomorrow and returns on Monday. I'd like to take a second to thank Air Tran for making it a couple hundred dollars more expensive to fly out on Monday, because that meant that it made more sense for us to stay Monday night in NOLA and leave Tuesday--and we LOVED the food in New Orleans when we were there last year and have been drooling over muffalettas and jambalaya and beignets since we booked the trip. Actually since before that--we talk about New Orleans' food regularly. Ha! So we're looking forward to getting to eat a few times in New Orleans, too. :)

Photos from our last trip to NOLA. :)

See you when we get back!


Nature's Prozac

"Spring at Giverny" by Claude Monet, image from the Kreeger Museum

Every year around the end of January, I start getting frustrated at the weather and really wanting snow. By this time my evenings are spent under a blanket (or two) on the couch, eating take-out food that I've convinced my husband to pick up on his way home and watching TV. I moan and whine about how cold I am and how annoying it is for it to be freezing outside and yet we have NO SNOW. Generally I become sort of a Crabby McCrabbypants. I don't feel like myself, and while there are things I could point to here or there that might account for my attitude, there's really nothing in particular I can pin down to blame.

And then comes a weekend like this past one, where the sun comes out and I don't have to wear a coat and a nice breeze blows. Suddenly, I feel wonderful and cheerful and even things that would otherwise send me into a royal funk don't succeed at totally bringing me down. Springtime weather in February is nature's Prozac. I accomplished more this past weekend than I have in months... and not just errands or chores, I'm talking shopping, cooking, exercising... heck, I even helped Bryan out in the garage (just a little bit).

So I don't really care about snow right now. I'm sure once it gets cold again (which it will), I'll go back to praying for a good blizzard that will at least give me a snow day, but I am so grateful for the reminder that sunny days aren't too terribly far off. I'll try to hang on to this warmth in my soul for a month or two longer until spring settles in. :)


Seat Sprinkler: CAUGHT!

Well, the mystery of the Sanger Hall 12th Floor Seat Sprinkler has been solved. I looked through my archives and can't believe that the only time I've mentioned her on this blog was when I was singing the praises of the first floor bathroom. Maybe I just feel like I've talked about it because Jynx'd talks about the signs in the bathroom so often on her blog. Regardless, let me give you a little background...

There are two bathrooms on this floor. One is just a few steps from my office. The other is at the other end of the building where the Anatomy department is, and it smells to high heaven down there... like rats and other caged animals. So needless to say, the only bathroom I typically use is the one right here. Well, I am not a squatter. I sit on the toilet. Which you might think is gross, but I don't care. It's only gross when you find your rear end wet in a few spots when you reach the seat. Or even worse, when your rear end is not just wet in a few spots, but ALL OVER because some VERY inconsiderate squatter rained pee all over the seat and didn't bother to mop up. (Not WIPE up, because that would imply just a swish here and there would clean up the mess. MOP up. As in, there's a big spill, better break out the heavy artillery.)

In case you haven't gotten the point yet, we have a seriously offensive Seat Sprinkler up here.

Others on our floor have taken to creating signs not unlike the one my grandma used to have in her bathroom: "If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie." You would think these signs would shame the seat sprinkler into cleaning up after herself, but no. They do not.

So we had already deduced that whoever the Seat Sprinkler is, she is rude and insensitive, or she can't read. And the one lady who has made the signs told me she knew who it was, but of course she wasn't going to tell me. So her identity has been a mystery for some time...

Until TODAY!

That's right, my co-worker Sharon happened to be in the potty next door to this woman while she was committing the offense, and through some detective work, she has identified the Seat Sprinkler! And I am not surprised at who it is. I am so tempted to take a picture of her Michael Phelps-style and put her on a Wanted poster... "WANTED: SEAT SPRINKLER. FOR BEING GROSS. AND DIRTY. AND DISGUSTING."

But I won't. Mainly because I'm scared she'd find out it was me who did it and beat me up. ;-)

(I found that picture at the top on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog through a google search... I don't know where they sell that TP, but maybe we could get some!)


Beware the Round Brush!

Isn't it funny how complimenting a friend's new do at her kids' birthday party, and the subsequent discussion, can remind you of one of the more traumatic moments in your childhood...?

When I was little, my mother was meticulous about my hair. Every night after bath time, she would blow dry my hair using a round brush so it had pretty curls, then for most of my childhood she'd slap a couple of pink foam curlers around the front so my bangs would look good. (Questionable looking at the pictures now if they looked good, but hey, it was the eighties!)

My luxurious locks did not go unnoticed by my classmates. One day in fourth grade, some of us girls were in the bathroom together, and Allison Varmer commented that she wished she could have curls like mine. Being the 1) helpful and 2) confident person that I am, I promptly dipped in to my acid wash jean purse and pulled out the round brush my mom sent to school with me every day. I remember it clearly: red handle, black bristles with red tips. I told Allison I was happy to do her hair the way my mom did mine. She was pleased and ready for her makeover.

I sidled up to Allison, selected a section of hair just like my Mama did each night, brushed down it with the round brush, then curled it right up. And by "up," I mean straight up to her scalp.

If you are a man, this might not sound any alarms for you. If you are a woman who has ever used a round brush, you probably know that this was a big ol' OOPSY DAISY! That brush was stuck. I mean S. T. U. C. K. The hair had wrapped itself Medusa-style all around that brush and it was not going anywhere. I was horrified. What had I done?! I was just trying to help enhance Allison's fourth grade coif!

The teacher was alerted. Then the principal. Then Allison Varmer's mother was called to come pick her up and take her home, because there was no way in hell she was going back to class with a big ass red round brush sticking off her head. And the worst part was that she didn't come back to school for a WHOLE WEEK! Oh God. I remember very clearly the feeling each morning of that week when her seat was empty, how awful I felt for being the cause of her absence. She didn't talk to me for a very long time after that, and I heard her mom had to use peanut butter to grease her hair up enough to get the brush out. Whether that was true or just a rumor started by 9-year-olds I'm not sure.

I never did get that brush back.

And now that I think about it, I hope I apologized once she came back to school, although I may have been too afraid she'd hit me to do so. So if I didn't, and you're out there somewhere: I'm sorry, Allison!