Friday, December 22, 2006

Two Skyrtle Doves

What's a skyrtle dove? Hellifiknow.

Just over 45 hours to go.

A sister and brother came into the store today. She was beautiful, he was extreeeemely handsome, and they both had great senses of humor. Of course, I fell in lust with the guy immediately and found a new best friend in the girl. I'm lying, of course, but they were neat-o-rific people, and I really enjoyed talking with them for the brief minute or two that we all shared. It was most excellent. It's been a long long time since I've met what Anne of Green Gables calls 'kindred spirits' in person. I've met several online (you know who you are). I need to get out more.

But alas...

After 10 hours of walking around on hard tile floor, orchestrating all the people and activity in the store, I'm just too darn tarred to go do any social thing lately.

Not much else going on right now.

I may not post tomorrow (Saturday) night. I get off work at 12:30am and go back at 10am Sunday.

My dogs are barking, but my calf muscles rock right now.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Three French Zens

I need some zen right about now.

Three more days of work 'til Christmas. I didn't post yesterday because I worked a closing shift (til 12:30am) then went right back to work at 7am this morning. Four hours of sleep doesn't kill me, but it does make me hurt.

The CEO visited today. It went fine. I was able to give him the demographics, sales percentages, comp numbers, and strategy informatioin he was asking for. I always study my numbers before a visit like that.

As he was leaving, along with my boss and her boss, a window sign fell down right next to the front doors. I laughed my ass off.

I received some yummy nummy cookies today at work...thanks CatBoy! I also received the photography books I had created on my computer. They look pretty amazing. If I had any energy I'd post a picture of them.

Also, Squeaky the Bookshelf Elf delivered his presents to my store staff this afternoon. Squeaky had to work especially hard on his lunch break to get all the goodies in the stockings, but it all worked out in the end.

My feet hurt. I need to do a load of laundry. But what I really want to do is put on some chili and watch Stargate.

Oh, I found the creamy coconut flavor of Dreyer's Fruit Bars, so I bought those the other day.

Life is pretty darn good, ya know?

In 73 hours and 3 minutes I get to lock up my store and start my Christmas.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Five Bolden Wings

Um, Yeah....whatever that means...

Five more days and five more days of work until Christmas.

My sister and nephew visited me again today at work. One of my employees asked my nephew if he still had his Rhino Nose Virus. The answer was yes.

I helped a man today who, I can only suppose, had an extreeeeeeemely severe case of jaundice. I don't know that I've ever seen anyone with jaundice, really, but I think this guy had it bad. The 'whites' of his eyes were, indeed, yellow. But not just yellow...bright yellow, especially around the irises and also near the fleshy inside of the eyelid. It was freaky. I tried not to notice, but I'm sure he knew that I was noticing. Now I'll have to go look up pictures of jaundice on the internet to see if that's really what it was. It seemed too vivid a color to be real. I helped him find a Mayo Clinic Guide to Alternative Medicine, so he certainly had some medical ailment. Poor guy.

I bought Stargate Atlantis Season 1 today with my 40% off coupon.

I made chili tonight...mmmmm. That should last me through until Christmas. I can get a good 5 days of eating off of one big pot o' chili.

My photography book that I created with my computer has now been shipped (hooray!). The tracking program said it was picked up by FedEx at 6:30something tonight. I should receive it on Thursday. Double Yay!

Wentworth Miller was in my store again today. Dominic Purcell was in last week. I don't know what the shooting schedule for a tv show is, but you'd think they'd get a couple weeks off at Christmas to go be with their families.

Catboy, did you really mail me some of your baked goods? I haven't received a Christmas card yet. Geezus, man, get with it!

It's been muggy and verrrry humid here for the past several days. And then at about 11am today, a deep fog rolled in. We don't get deep fogs around here much, and never in the daytime. Supercreepy. But it caused all the people to freak out, put on their winter coats, and come buy stuff at my store, so I'm not complaining.

Things are still going well. I'm trying to load up my staff with food and candy in the breakroom, and I'll be assembling their individual stockings tomorrow with even more food, so I hope that'll be enough to get them through the next 5 days.

My red clawed crab is so cute, even if he keeps hiding from me. He's a chicken crab. heh.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Six More Days

I typed 'Sex More' at first while I was typing the title. Obviously, I corrected myself.

I just finished a dinner of Cheerios and a Dreyer's Fruit Bar--strawberry. Those fruit bars are most excellent. I've had the lime and the strawberry, and I notice from their website that they have myriad flavors. Unfortunately, the grocery stores nearby only carry those two flavors. I must expand my search to a larger concentric circle.

Btw, Catboy, the correct use of myriad is attributed to you. You done did learn me somethin'.

Yes, there are six more days until Christmas. But more importantly, there are six more days until I can have a day off. I had a day off yesterday, but it didn't feel like a day off. I'm working a 7-day stretch right now, which isn't too bad, really. I'm thankful I have a good job.

Some hot items this Christmas:

Annie Leibovitz's Photo Book
Echo Maker (publisher is out)
Yale Book of Quotations (publisher is out)
Bird Songs
U2 by U2
Schott's Almanac 2007
I Like You by Amy Sedaris
The Secret
and of course all the ones you'd expect by Grisham, Hiaasen, Crichton, et al ad nauseum

Holiday Music by James Taylor, Il Divo, Bette Midler, TransSiberian Orchestra, Sara McLaughlin

Saturday Night Live, Season 1 (distributors are out)
Band of Brothers
House (both seasons)
Dozens of other TV show seasons

Dubya Doublespeak
Far Side box
any Dog calendar

Robert Sabuda pop up books
Puzzles and kits

So, if you're trying to be original in your gift giving, avoid all the things mentioned above, as everyone in the country thinks they are the perfect gift and have already bought them. That doesn't mean these things aren't most excellent, as most of them are, but the likelihood of a duplicate gift increases if you select from that list.

Be bold, buy something no one else is buying. Be brave, read something no one else is reading.

One book that I've had to reorder several times is a new photography book by David LaChappelle (not the guy with the TV show). It's called Heaven to Hell, and it's visually amazing. His style of photography is not for those easily offended by some nudity or those who don't like to challenge the social norm. His work IS a visual feast of color and composition. It's a perfect, non mainstream book that is doing really well here.

I am eagerly awaiting the book I created on my computer. The status still says it is 'printing', so I kind of doubt I'll get it before Christmas. I just wasn't willing to pony up those extra $$$ to pay for express shipping.

I just received word today that the CEO is going to be in town visiting stores on Thursday. I hate it when they do this at Christmas time. I really like to meet all these people each time, but I'm not going to pull myself away from helping customers to meet and greet.

Also, we're the only bookstore in town that is selling the Sony Reader. Let me just say how wicked cool this little machine is. People don't seem to care that it's $350.

That's all I got for now.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Rhino Nose Virus

Warning to Emma: This post contains more talk of boogers.

In the normal ways of little boys, my nephew today was battling one nostril full of snot, and one bleeding nostril. He has a cold he can't seem to shake. I taunt him and call him 'little booger boy'. He told me to stop saying that, and that he has boogers because he has a Rhino Nose Virus. I told him it's a good thing he doesn't have a Hippo Ear Virus, as those are quite nasty.

I finished wrapping the family gifts at 2:21 am this morning, and thusly took them all to my parents' house today. Gracie woke me up around 8am, so I'm quite tired. My nephew can read now (he's in kindergarten), so I made up a code to put on the packages that were for him that I didn't want him to shake. He went through all the rest and made sure he knew for whom they were intended. I had to explain that when the package read "To: Mom; From: Jenny", that it didn't mean the package was for his mom, it was meant for Grand (what he calls my mother). There were also things for him from some of Santa's reindeer. He really enjoyed digging through all of them and seeing which ones were his.

There was almost a big scene before lunch when my older sister told my mom that they would not be able to attend Christmas until the evening of Christmas Day, as my nephew's other set of grandparents and other aunt could only attend a Christmas meal during the day. They don't get to see my nephew very often, and my mother gets to see him every week, so it seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to tell mom that they would be quite late for our Christmas Day lunch.

In the end, we're just going to push back our meal to dinnertime instead of lunch, which is ok with everyone else. I feel badly that my sister had to have such an uncomfortable conversation with my mother, and of course my mother overreacted and placed blame and played the martyr. However, I've had an absolute ton of experience with awkward/uncomfortable situations like these, and I did notice some opportunity for my sister in the way the conversation was phrased, where it was held, etc.

Anyway, I'm sure my sister was very stressed leading up to and going into that conversation and is most likely feeling much better now that it is done.

I'm looking forward to a fast-paced 7 days leading up to Christmas. This is the fun time of year.

Da Holidayze

This is my list of 'stuff' yet to be done before Christmas Day:

1. Buy a bottle of wine for my boss
2. Buy a gift for a friend (even though we said we wouldn't exchange gifts, I know she'll get me something so I'll have to get her something.)
3. Wrap remaining gifts for family
4. Take these gifts to parents' house tomorrow
5. Work every day Dec. 18-23
6. Put staff names on stockings
7. Take stockings to store and fill with stuff I bought a couple weeks ago that's been sitting in my car
8. Convince Gracie not to eat any more red ribbon (she pooped out a short one yesterday...bad kitty)
9. Load a few hundred more CDs onto my new external hard drive.
10 . Try to spot my red clawed crab a few more times
11. Play with my kitty
12. Do normal household/chore/life stuff

I'd better get cracking. I must finish wrapping stuff tonight, and it's already 1am.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I Created My Own Book

You may or may not remember that I purchased a new computer, a Mac desktop, in June. You also may or may not remember that at the end of June/beginning of July I took a trip to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks with a good friend of mine.

I've been trying to think of a nice yet inexpensive gift for my friend for Christmas, so I decided to see if I could compile all the best photos into a book to give to her. With iPhoto I was able to choose a style, layout, easily drag and position the photos, write an introduction, and place descriptions of each photo.

I selected a hardcover (black linen) book that measures 8 1/2 x 11 inches. I ordered 2 copies, one for me and one for her. They were only $29.95 each. I did this all last night in about 2 hours, and the result is glorious. I can't wait to get the final product, to hold it and see how it lives in my hands.

I'm so excited that I was able to create this through the wonders of digital cameras, computers, and a DSL modem. My friend is absolutely going to love this. I hope the books arrive before Christmas.

In the future I'll have to check out the calendars, cards, and other formats of books I can make with iPhoto.

Above is the photo I used for the cover of the book. It is my most favorite of any photo I've ever taken.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Am the Peacemaker

Today I had to physically place myself between two grown men (customers) at work who were bickering/arguing with each other. This is what I was told happened after everything was said and done:

Guy A was reading a magazine while Guy B kept bothering him. Apparently Guy B wanted to look at the magazine as well, to see if he wanted to buy it. Guy A told Guy B that he would give the magazine to Guy B as soon as he was finished looking through it. Guy B had problems with this and kept badgering and pseudo-threatening Guy A.

Anyway...all I knew stepping into this situation was that one of my cashiers asked me for help (we have walkies with headsets which are very handy for things like this). I came to the register queue where these two guys were exchanging words, and Guy B was trying to buy a different magazine. Guy A told me that Guy B was bothering him, and then they started to argue again.

Here's what I told them: "Guy B, you're going to stay over there to my left and buy your magazine; Guy A, you're going to stand to my right and buy yours. I'm going to stand in the middle, and you two are not going to talk to each other."

Guy B asked me if I wanted to hear his side of the story. I told him no. They were both to buy their magazines and leave.

I mean I their momma? Am I their kindergarten teacher? Are they both not adult enough to handle a small problem of sharing or not sharing?

Hey, if either Guy A or B had a problem because one of my staff was rude or threatening or whatever to them, fine. That is something that is my responsibility. But I shouldn't have to stand between to adult men and tell them both to be quiet just because they can't handle that situation themselves.

The next customer in line was a nice lady who said she caught the end of the whole thing and thought I handled it very well. Superthanks, nice lady.

I am the Peacemaker.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Drive-Bys, Click-Bys, and Stand-Bys

Busy busy busy has my life been lately. It's all due to work right now. 'Tis the season to make or break a retail establishment, and I aim to 'make' it. Today is my one day off this week, as has been the case for the past couple of weeks. This closing at midnight nonsense, though I've been doing it for years at the holidays, is still for the birds.
Yesterday I learned that the father and brother of one of my employees were shot in a drive-by while attending a Christmas party at a friend's house. Five others were injured, and no one was killed. A person goes to a celebration, is enjoying the time with their family and friends, and is shot. What the fuck is happening to this country? For further insight on this, I recommend watching the film Grand Canyon.
I'm almost finished with my holiday shopping. I was having a heckuva time finding enough inexpensive plain red and white felt stockings for work. I finally found some at an online wholesaler. In years past I've just bought them at Target, but the ones they had this year were really skimpy and thin in the white part at the top. Plus, they didn't have the several dozen that I need for my staff. You see, every year I make stockings for each member of my staff. I write their name in gold fabric paint on the white part, and stuff them full of gum, snacks, candy, bubbles, and whatever else I can get in bulk for cheap. Crap, I haven't gotten my boss anything yet. I think I'll just get her a nice bottle of wine and not worry with trying to be creative. Double crap...I have 2 friends I have to get things for. Everyone else is done...I think.
When I bought this computer in June, I got some sort of card that CompUSA had. They discontinued their card, and sent me a certificate for $107 in credit. Today I bought a 250GB external hard drive and a piano/keyboard bench for a total of $14.53 after I get my rebate on the hard drive. Not bad. Now I can put my hundreds of CDs and photos and downloaded TV shows onto the external drive and not worry about filling up my computer.
I need to get back to doing laundry....toodles.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I've recently been watching season 1 of House on DVD. I now have a ginormous crush on Hugh Laurie, or maybe it's a crush on the character of House, or maybe it's a crush on Hugh Laurie as House.


It snowed here last Thursday. Actually, it alternated between sleeting and snowing, then it finally decided on snow. Because of the sleet, some of the roads were icy, and we didn't really get much accumulation of snow. It's very refreshing to have colder weather. I haven't yet turned on my heat. I have plenty of clothes, blankets, and a cat to keep me warm.


Yesterday my nephew asked me how Gracie's cold was. I thought this was very thoughtful of a 5 1/2 year old kid to ask. I told him Gracie was almost all better, and I asked him how his own cold was. He told me he wasn't quite over it yet and he still had some boogers in his nose. I then asked him if he had blown his nose really hard using lots of tissue. He responded that he had blown his nose hard when he was 4, and a lot of stuff came out. I suppose he thought he was done for life.


I need some advice on something. I am a snacker while I watch DVDs. I need to find something to occupy my hands and/or mouth so that I can still enjoy my entertainment without all those pesky calories. Any suggestions? Lewd suggestions will also be considered.


Starting Thursday, we stay open until midnight. I hate that.


My car now has 15,000 miles on it. I have owned it 10 months and 15 days, but it was in the shop for 30 of those days. Next year I plan on taking it to Michigan again (for a work conference in April), and to Denver (for a work meeting in late March), plus some sort of road trip vacation during the summer.


I want to visit the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA. I want to go alone. How freakish is that?


I enjoy movies a lot more now than when I was a film major in college. I miss playing the French horn, though now I have been not playing for as many years as I did play before I stopped.


Something's missing and I need to find it. I'm not sure if I lost something or if I never had it. Hmm...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Quick Turn Around

I closed tonight, and I have to be back at 8am, so this'll be short.

It's raining right now, and the temperature is supposed to drop below freezing with sleet and snow predicted. This'll be the first freeze of the year (that I know of). The temps have been in the 70s here for the past week, so colder weather will be refreshing.

I'm supposed to just work a half day, but we'll see what happens with that.

I watched Field of Dreams on DVD last night. I'll post more about it later if I feel compelled. It's a great film.

Off to bed with me now...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Trim the Sick Cat with Rent

Such a feeble attempt to create a title out of the main points I'll be posting about. Um, I'll just begin then.

Trimming the Tree

I just finished decorating my cute little 2 ft white tree. It still needs some color, so I'm waiting til I acquire more stuff for it to post a pic.

Sick Kitty

My poor Gracie picked up a nasty virus when I boarded her at the vet's during my vacation. It took her two weeks to get over it, and her poor widdle nosie is still a bit scabby. I didn't sleep much for about 10 days, worried to death that she wouldn't be able to breathe. She was completely congested and sneezed constantly, with little projectile droplets of kitty nose blood and kitty snot being sprayed all over my walls and sheets and various bed comforters. She was 17 pounds at her last checkup a month ago, and I bet she has dropped about 15-20% of her body weight during her illness. Poor kitty. Now she is pretty much back to normal and is lounging on the carpet by my right foot. Sweet kitty.



I bought the movie of RENT a few days ago, as it was mega-on-sale at my store, and I love it. I bought the original cast recording many years ago, but wasn't all that impressed, and therefore have never seen any touring production of it.

I'm happy to say my opinion has changed. Six of the original 8 main cast members were in the film. I can completely see why teens and young adults love this musical. It speaks to a lot of the ideals a young person has (love, downfall, redemption, friendship, rage against the machine, death, etc.), but has enough timely social commentary to appeal to pretty much anyone who doesn't live in ignorance of reality.

I had to dig a bit to find the original cast recording, but I'm listening to it now. I like the newer arrangements of the film music, and the cast sounds better to me, as they now have 10 years more life and singing experience, but the fresh sound of the OCR is also enjoyable.

Anyway, try to Netflix this one. Even if you don't think you'll like it, just give it a chance.

That's all for now. I'm going to try to post more regularly. I just haven't been motivated for a while. I also think a lot of what I write is really mundane, but I suppose mundane is better than nothing.

I'll leave you with a quote from the Mark character in RENT: "The opposite of war isn't's creation."


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Falling Trees of the Camping-Minded Sneezy Kitties

It's been very windy here for the past 24 hours. Very. Windy. So windy that while I was watching an episode of Stargate-SG1 on DVD this morning, a tree fell over into the parking lot. I heard it fall. It sounded like the roof was being torn off the building, and indeed there were some asphalt shingles on the ground as well.

The tree luckily didn't hit any cars (well, it might have grazed one car, I'm not exactly sure). I called the apartment complex office and left a message for them to send someone out immediately because the tree was block the entire drive way through the parking lot. Poor tree.

I live on the 3rd floor, which I hate btw, so I had a pretty decent line of sight to the poor guy who had to use a handsaw to break down the tree into removable pieces.

I was on vacation last week. I went camping for a couple of nights, and it was the first time for me to take my new Honda Element with me. The tent affixed to the car most excellently. Only a handful of people were at the campground, but all of them stopped by to ask me questions about the 'car with the tent on it'.

I didn't leave my campsite except to go to the restroom/shower house. If I wasn't sleeping in my car, I was lounging in my hammock or relaxing by my fire. The only thing I don't like about camping is the unavoidable 4am trip to the potty in 40 degree weather.

I think perhaps being a guy would be beneficial at times like those.

When I was camping, I boarded my kitty at the vet like I always do. On Sunday she began to sneeze, which at the time sounded like coughing to me. She was feeling very puny, poor kitty.

I scrambled and got her to the vet on Tuesday. Everyone knows me at this place. I'm in there several times a year to board Gracie, and I'm in there at least once a month to pick up her insulin and syringes.

Gracie has either a cold or a virus, and she got a shot to help with the fever, and I have to give her Amoxil in liquid dropper form twice a day. It's bright pink and very pretty. The vet thinks that an asymptomatic sick kitty was at the clinic at the same time that Gracie was there, and that's how she got sick.

So...he didn't charge me for the vet visit ($48), or the shot ($20-ish), so it just cost me $19 (the cost of the Amoxil). Gracie feels much better, though she's still sneezing a lot.

I was very worried about my precious kitty, so I'm glad she's on the mend.

Later on I'll write about all the cool stuff I bought for less than $3.00 on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Miller Genuine Draft

What are the odds? Two famous Miller men visiting my place of work in the same 7-day span.

Larry Miller, of Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, Necessary Roughness, and I think Pretty Woman, notariety, dropped by the store late last week to do a stock signing of his book. I can't remember the title of it right now. He was gracious, humorous, polite, and thrilled my staff. I let him use the intercom system to talk about the book, and he was a hoot! He personalized the books, took pictures with my staff, and was an all-around pleasure to encounter.

and...this one's for Schell...

Wentworth Miller. Yes, I finally know what he looks like in person. Now that I've seen him in his pale green fishing hat, I realize that I've seen him before, I just didn't actually look closely enough to notice who he was. I don't look closely at anyone, really. I don't know why, I just don't. He was gracious and polite and very soft spoken. So Schell, you know him now through 2 degrees of separation. Go you.

In other news:

I've been working...a lot. And I mean a lot. Since field training was put on hold for Q2, it all got dumped into Q3 (which just ended), and the beginning of this quarter. This week is our biggest merchandising changeout of the entire year, and that is also a ton of work. But oh my god, the signage and images are phenomenal. We got Robert Sabuda to create our visual theme again this year. We have pop-up Nutcracker soldiers all over the store. It really pops. Go check out a store near you to see all the cool stuff.

And I'm very excited about a couple of books recently. DK publishing has a book called Rainforest and another called Ocean. DK is my favorite publisher, as they use tons of photographs and a great layout design in all their books. I certainly don't need any more books, but I'd like to get those two anyway.

This is the best publishing holiday season in the past decade, so I'm looking forward to excited people and a lot of happy gift buyers.

My job is freaking awesome.

In other news, I'm taking a vacation next week. I made reservations for a couple nights at my favorite campground again. I hope there's no burn ban this time. I'll need to call ahead to be sure. I do so love a wood fire at night, and a burn ban nixes that option. This'll be the first time I will use the tent on my new car, so I'm eager to try that out. The nights are getting chilly here now, so it'll be nice to have a bit more insulation from the great outdoors. I plan on eating a lot, reading a lot, and sleeping in my hammock a lot.

Now I have to go to sleep.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Van Gogh in My Soup

I am stalling. I have a 3-day regional conference that begins tomorrow, and I need to be ironing, cleaning, and packing, but I'm not. The fact that I'm updating this blog when I'm not really compelled to do so is telling enough of my procrastination station.

The conference is 'in town', but we're still expected to stay at the hotel a mere 20 miles away. In a way this is convenient for me, as I like to heavily imbibe in the evenings of such occassions, and don't want to worry about having to drive home afterward or get up extra early the next day. In another way this is yucky for me because I have to go through the trouble of boarding my cat.

I spent money I didn't need to spend on some new work clothes. I got another pair of black slacks, a pair of really cute dark gray with white pin stripes slacks, and 4 blouses. One of the blouses is white and has those super poofy pirate cuffs at the wrists, which is TOTALLY out of character for me, so I figured I'd wear that one day and let everyone make fun of me. I would. Actually, I also picked up a couple of cute lace-bordered tanks in black and pale blue to try out that cute tank over blouse look that is adorable and yet still quite professional. If you've not seen it, it's difficult to explain, but it sure does look fashionable to me. And trust me, I need alllll the help I can get to look fashionable.

I need to wash and/or iron all those items tonight.

For those of you who are jealous when I get free stuff....neener neener neener, because I'm going to get a lot more free stuff tomorrow night.

There is also a new GM in position, and I already told him he's going to be the 'gopher/fetcher' for the district, so I'll get to sit back and enjoy my multiple drinks while he gets them for me. He's a good guy with a strong sense of humor, so I think he'll be ok.

A couple of weeks ago I made some egg drop soup from a package. Not great tasting, but inexpensive. As I was stirring the beaten egg into the boiling soup I noticed the concoction looked like the swirling sky of a Van Gogh painting. Van Gogh in my soup. I wonder no one else has ever noticed this.

"Excuse me, sir, but you dropped your crack pipe." A guy dropped his crack pipe on the tile at the front of my store last week. It is now a running joke. He apparently tried to come in the store again a couple days ago. He must be smoking crack to think that we're going to let him back in.

The gas station closest to here has a huge problem with beggars. I was vacuuming my car today, keeping an eye out for one, and sure enough, some old guy came up behind me and started to ask for money. I hate that. I don't ever let them get past 'excuse me'. I have a two handed, very firm crossing of the arms 'no' gesture accompanied with a verbal 'go away'. If I see them walking towards me at the pumps, I strike pre-emptively and tell them 'don't even ask me.' At intersections I don't avert my eyes, that is weak and wimpish. I look them straight in the eyes and shake my head and mouth 'no' to them. So there.

Several more Wentworth Miller sightings, and also the guy now on Prison Break who used to be on Invasion last year. The FedEx Express guy saw WM, but I have yet to see him, which I really think is remarkable considering I'm in my store over 50 hours a week. Could everyone be pulling my leg?

I think that's all I got. Oh wait, I'm in the middle of season 6 of Stargate: SG-1. I loves me some Stargate. And that now reminds me that Vaughan Williams, one of my fishies at work, died a couple weeks ago. It was very sad. I emailed an obituary to all my peers and boss. Several folks emailed back condolences. I had a small funeral for him in the handicapped stall of the women's restroom, then I went to Petsmart to get a plecostomous and a new fish--a black oramond goldfish. I am letting my staff name the new fish.

When I came home last night, my favorite fish at home had died. She was a balloon bellied molly, and was extremely cute. All the other fish in the tank were crying. Poor poor dead fishies.

Gracie kitty is faring well.


Ok, now I got nothing.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Saying Good Morning to the Paper Guy

Yes, I've been busy. Many people say "I've been busy" in their blogs as a reason for not writing a new posting. Many people aren't me. I actually have been busy...working.

You see, it is 3rd quarter, and if you've ever worked retail, you know what that means. If you haven't ever worked retail, you cannot possibly have any frame of reference, so don't worry about it in that case.

This week I trained 4 new Managers for the district, which is always fun, though totally draining.

On Thursday I started work at 8am and worked straight through until 3am Friday morning. As my managers and I were leaving, the Paper Guy was delivering our newspapers. Good morning, Paper Guy.

So I came home, went to bed and finally got up about 2pm today. Then I was sleepy again and took a nap from about 5:30-8pm. It is now almost 10pm, and I have a lovely cornish game hen with rice, cream of mushroom soup, topped with dried soup mix baking in the oven. It should be done in another hour or so. MMmmmmm.

That's about all I can muster for now. I need to spend some time with my kitty, and I desperately need to clean my kitchen and spot vacuum my apartment along with doing some laundry. I close tomorrow, so I can get some of that done before work.

FYI--there are an absolute TON of new books, CDs, and DVDs that are released in the autumn, so be sure to stop by your local bookstore every week to check them out. Most of the laydowns occur on Tuesdays, by the way. Exciting stuff.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lotsa Lotsa

Yes, it has been a while. Get over yourself. You know you came here everyday hoping for an update. Finally, here is your reward.

Two Fridays Ago:

Two Fridays ago I attended a local publisher expo that some company folks put together. I got lots of nice promos and discovered a large assortment of Texana books to order.

Luke Wilson and Terrell Owens:

I am told that T.O. was in my store Friday night shopping in the bargain books area. Doesn't this guy make millions? Why was he buying bargain books? Oh wait, he broke one of his fingers and will be on the bench for the next few weeks. Maybe he's learning how to read to pass the time. Luke Wilson was in my cafe today. He looked very thin and had an odd haircut. Perhaps he's going to play a crack junkie in an upcoming film.


We had a book signing on Thursday with Maddox. It was a huge hit. This guy apparently has a website with an enormous following. It appeals to teenage and 20-something males, as evidenced by the turnout for the event. Maddox was friendly and a bit cute in person, which is not how he presents himself online or in reference to his book, so I'm told.

Birthday Party:

A friend had a birthday party yesterday. His house is 40 miles from here, near the Texas Motor Speedway. I asked his wife how the traffic situation is in their area on race day. Remind me never to move to a place near a major sports stadium.

I was asked several times to join in a game of poker, but I am a nitwit at poker. I've played once, and I had to have the guys tell me what to bet every time it was my turn. I think they like doing that, but I don't like not knowing what the heck I'm doing. I think I should learn Texas Hold 'Em soon.

New Plasma:

Yes, I'm very much enjoying my new plasma screen. I watched LOST-SSN02, Grey's Anatomy-SSN02, and am currently watching more Stargate DVDs on it.

The Weather:

The weather has been mostly lovely here lately. The temps have drastically dropped to the 80s or 90s during the day, and the 60s overnight. Tonight is supposed to drop to 58, which hasn't happened since March or April. I will try to get my windows open to let in some fresh cool breezes a bit later.


I need to clean my apartment. I always need to clean my apartment. Go figure.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I Give You Leave to Envy Me

Why, you ask?

Because I now have in my apartment a 41 inch big screen plasma monitor that I got for free. Yes, free. And I currently have the first Lord of the Rings movie playing on it.

How did I get it for free, you ask?

My company recently decided to remove the plasma screens that were in my store, and we were told we could give the screens to employees. I'm going to hold a series of contests to see who wins each of the other 8 screens. And, of course, I took one home.

It doesn't have a receiver or any kind of feet or stand, so I had to lean it up against the wall on my regular tv stand/furniture. I was able to hook it up to my DVD player and my old old old stereo speakers, and it looks/sounds great. I don't watch broadcast tv anyway, so the fact that it doesn't have a receiver does not matter to me right now. I don't have any control over the volume, and I need to figure out how to get that, but the volume right now seems to be ok. I haven't tried using my DVD remote for that yet...

It was a bitch getting it up to my third floor apartment, but it worked out ok in the end.

So, I'm going to spend a long time tonight watching Season 2 of LOST, which was released today, on my new plasma screen.

Free stuff rocks.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Grayson, Carpets, Ice Cream


Yesterday afternoon I read a semi-short book called "Grayson" by Lynne Cox. Cox also has written "Swimming to Antarctica" which I have not read. I don't know how to get a picture of the cover here, so you'll just have to imagine a compact tome with great cover art -- a drawing of a smiling gray whale with his tail flipped and water spouting from the top of his body.

The story is true, and describes the author's experience with a baby gray whale that had become separated from its mother for a few hours one morning off the California coast.

It is interesting that one of the scenes described involves a huge colony of stingrays; the author tells how stingrays are normally docile unless stepped on or placed in danger. So I was surprised when, upon going to work this morning, I was told that Steve Irwin had died due to a stingray 'attack'. I suppose, however, that anything piercing your heart would most likely kill you, regardless of how safe/unsafe it is under normal circumstances.

I really enjoyed the book. Check it out if you get the chance. It'll only take 1-2 hours to read, depending on your speed.


I went in to work last night, on my day off, to be there while the carpet was being cleaned. They started at 10pm when the store closed, and they didn't finish until 3 in the fucking morning. Holy shit. They did a nice job, but it was just 2 guys, and one of them left at about 1 am. I spent the time doing merchandising change-outs and filling up tables and displays. Normally I wouldn't care about the 3am thing, but I had to be back at the store at 8am this morning. So I got about 3.5 hours of sleep, which is not enough. I'm exhausted and will go to bed very early tonight. But hey, the carpets are sans coffee stains, chai stains, chewing gum, food spills, and everything else that gets dropped on them.

Ice Cream

I am currently enjoying a new ice cream concoction I created. Buy a bag of frozen mixed berries, add 1/3 cup sugar and a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Toss and let seep for 30 minutes or so. Add the juice of the berries to a basic vanilla ice cream recipe and put in the ice cream maker. When it's done, scoop some in a bowl and top off with the now-chilled/not-frozen berries. Deeeeee-licious!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Laborious Day Weekend

...which reminds me...when is Boss's Day? And shouldn't I be receiving some cards for that from my peeps?

but back to nothing...

On Thursday I decided to scratch all prior made plans and do nothing all day long. Nothing consisted of: not taking a shower (my cat doesn't seem to mind), not doing chores, watching Stargate DVDs all day, snacking, taking a nap, playing with my kitty, and watching my fish play. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

On Friday I had visitors scheduled to come to my store for what we call a store visit. Technical term, isn't it? I know rather well the people who came, so that always makes it nice. It was my boss, my boss's boss, my boss's boss's boss, and another person. They gave feedback on my store and staff, challenged me on a few things, and complimented my store on others. It was a good visit.

Switching I was busy not doing anything on Thursday, I was thinking how I found the drive to the new homes site aggravating on Wednesday. I probably find it so because my current residence is about a mile from work. You just can't top a 5 minute commute. So I probably won't purse it any further. I'm probably just afraid of commitment, but don't throw that old pop-psych at me, please.

Random thought...I like how the leftover milk tastes in a bowl of Golden Grahams.

When I watch a tv series through Netflix, I get obsessed with it for a short period of time. I'm currently obsessed with Stargate, as you might be able to tell. I had an idea last night of something I want to do with my fishtank at work. I would love to find a model of the stargate itself and place it in my tank along with several action figures of the characters. That way my fish could 'travel to distant planets' every time they swam through the gate. If you'll remember, the middle of the stargate looks like a puddle of rippling water when it's activated, so the fish/water theme would go well. I haven't had any luck finding a gate thus far. If anyone wants to look for me, the tank at work is a 20 gallon standard size. I don't know the dimensions, though.

Another random thought...tonight I thought how I sometimes miss playing in a band or orchestra. I haven't made music in 12 years now. It used to be such an enormous part of my life. Funny how I drop one thing, only to pick up another and continue on.

Last question is....who is Kit?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Taxes, Vets, and Houses


I received a letter from the IRS telling me I owed them $1,900 from 2004. Hell no, said I. Today I went to an H&R Block office to see how they could help me. I had completed my 2004 tax return online. I exercised a lot of stock options that year and felt that my reporting of that piece on my tax return was most likely where I had messed up the numbers.

I received a call a while later from the tax lady during which I was told that I did owe the IRS a little bit...about $75 plus interest. The tax lady completed the amended return for me as well as took care of whatever else there is to take care of. I have an appointment next Wednesday to pick up everything, pay H&R Block for the service, and mail in all the new information to the IRS.

I'm very relieved I won't have to send such a significant sum to the IRS.


After I went to the tax office, I picked up Gracie's insulin and syringes at the vet. There are a couple of vet techs there who really think my car is they should.


I found online a new little housing community built by KB Homes that has small homes starting at $80,000. I quickly drove through the area this afternoon. I'm going to go back tomorrow, on my day off, and peruse the model homes. The community is about 13 miles from here, and it took me about 20 minutes with no traffic. It's in an older part of town that is kind of run down, but not nasty. House hunting is still just that right now...hunting.

That's pretty much all. Kinda boring this time. I did get three more Stargate SG-1 discs tonight in my mailbox from Netflix, so I'll enjoy watching them all tomorrow.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rain, Hair, and Whatever Else


It is raining right now. Yes, right now as I type this, liquid is falling from the sky. The liquid began falling as I was driving home this afternoon from Ft. Worth. For about a minute the rain was so heavy that I had to slow to 20mph on the highway because I couldn't see. I loved it.

In case you've been in a coma, out of the country, or are just plain stupid, you know we've had around 40+ days with 100+ degree heat so far this summer. The earth is dry and cracked, and we're on water conservation/rationing systems. It doesn't really affect me because I live in an apartment, but house owners are finding that their foundations are cracking and their trees are dying. Bad news.

Anyway, I suppose it's rained about 45 minutes, a real thunderstorm, which hopefully is enough to get water to all the living things that need it.


My nephew has always liked to hold hair. He usually likes to hold his mom's hair, but lately he prefers my hair or my younger sister's hair. He likes to climb all over me, then play with my hair. After a while, I get tired of it. He whines when I ask him to stop. He says, "I want to hold your hair. It's soft. Whine whine whine whine." What's up with this kid? Isn't that just a tad unusual?

Whatever Else

I've been watching Stargate SG-1 on DVD through Netflix. I am really enjoying it. I was looking online the other night for Sci-Fi conventions. I've never been to one and thought it might be kind of fun. I couldn't find one anywhere around here, though, and I don't particularly want to spend vacation time traveling to attend one. Maybe something will come up in the future.

Wow, this post was exceptionally boring. I can't believe you read it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Time---and---A Physics Question


I read something online a few weeks ago that mentioned the word 'time' is the most often used word in the English language. I don't agree with that. I would think the word 'the' or 'I' would win out over 'time'. Maybe it is the most often used noun or concept.

A person told me today that she doesn't like clocks and dislikes the concept of time. She said it is a manmade concept and makes her feel stressed and unsettled. She also said that she owns only one clock, and that is her alarm clock. She does not own or wear a watch. She doesn't have a bedtime, but rather goes to sleep when she's tired, and she doesn't eat at certain times of the day, but rather eats when she's hungry. On her days off or her vacations, she goes an entire day or many days at a stretch without knowing what time it is. I am fascinated by this.

I am obsessed with time. I must have my watch on me at all times. Sometimes I'll even sleep with it on and shower with it on, though the latter is because I'll wash it while I'm in the shower. At work, shift locations and assignments are made in one-hour increments, and I must know where each person is each hour of the day in order to ensure we've got all the right balls in the air at all the right times. I must know the time in order to do this. If I had to guess, I'd say I look at a clock, watch, or some other timekeeping device or time display over 100 times a day, maybe more.

I heard a story some time back about a college professor who couldn't wear wristwatches. I can't remember if it had something to do with a pacemaker or maybe it was that the man couldn't wear anything constricting for health reasons. Whatever the reason, this man had fine tuned his internal clock and always knew within 5 minutes what the time was.

When I was in drum corps, some of the rehearsal days, which were commonly 14 hours long, would pass by extremely slowly. I commented on this one time, and one of my peers told me she had stopped wearing her watch and noticed the time passed by more quickly. I followed suit and found she was right.

I can't go without my watch at work, or my work will suffer, but I can try an experiment at home regarding time. I haven't yet determined the scope or the rules of the experiment. I'll keep you posted.

A Physics Question

Imagine the sun is shining through a window and creating a small light spot on the wall or floor. Imagine I take a ball point pen and begin waving it back and forth between the window and the floor so that a small fraction of the light spot is in shadow at any one moment in time. If I were able to wave the pen back and forth at a speed faster than the oscillating speed of the light wave--in essence, faster than light--would the light spot stay in shadow and basically not be seen?

I wonder such things.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Two unrelated subjects today.

First, Christmas:

I saw a little Christmas basket yesterday, and I got into a discussion with another person about Holiday music, and how much I enjoy it. There is was, 104 degrees outside AGAIN for the umpteenth consecutive day, and we were talking about which holiday songs we liked, and which artists had good holiday albums. Other Person said that Mariah Carey's album was quite good, and I tossed out my most favorite one by Amy Grant...her 2nd one--can't remember the name of it right now. I mentioned how disappointed I was with Vanessa Williams' Silver and Gold that came out a couple of years ago. Other Person mentioned that O Holy Night was her favorite holiday song. She called the religious songs 'Jesus Songs'. I guess they are. I like both Jesusy and non-Jesusy holiday music.

Later on I remembered the 2-foot tree and ornaments that I bought at 75% off after Christmas last year and began to get excited about the thought of decorating my first-ever own personal Christmas tree. I know it's a few months away, and I'm silly to be excited about it, but there you go. Maybe I'll invite some friends over to help me trim the midget tree and serve them apple cider and Christmas cookies. The absurdity of it would be hysterically funny to me.

Second, Men:

Usually I am very composed in public situations. I don't want to embarrass myself face-to-face (though it doesn't seem to bother me online). Today I was in very grave danger of making a fool of myself. Over a month ago, I had ordered a tiny part for my Honda. It is a little piece of plastic that covers the nut that holds the rear windshield wiper to the window. I lost the original part somewhere on my vacation. Well, I certainly was NOT going to drive 25 miles to the dealer in that crappy Chevy Cobalt to pick it up, so I just waited until I got my car back. This afternoon I had the time to pick up the part. I am so guilty of having car-pride now. I admit it. I love driving my car. I especially love driving my car to the Honda dealer. It's bright, it's hot, it's tangerine. It's a color that you either hate or love, but you just HAVE to know who is driving it.

I love seeing the expressions on the people when I bring it in for an oil change. Everyone else is there in their fuddy duddy silver or white cars...boring. (No offense intended to you silver and white car drivers, it's just my personal preference.) There's almost always at least 2 salesmen standing outside the doors to the dealership, and they always ask me about the car. Yep, I like that, I really do. must have been a very slow sales day, because I had 4, yes 4 men try to open the two doors for me. I'm sure they do that for everyone coming through the front doors, but it was nice.

Then I went to the parts area and 4 men asked me if they could help me. Ahhhhhh...yesssss. Again, I was the only customer there and they were just doing their jobs, but I still liked it.

And then when I was ready to leave, 2 men opened the doors for me again while another 4 were flanking them, sort of like some strange honor guard. I said to them, "You mean I have to run the gauntlet? You guys are scaring me." They didn't understand what I meant, so I just said, "Thanks guys," as I walked out the doors. I should have kept my stupid mouth shut and just said thanks.

But I liked it. I liked it a lot. I put the part on my windshield wiper and left. Two other men stared at my car and smiled at me as I drove out of the dealership.

To them it was just good customer service, but to me, a person who never gets looked at twice by a man unless he needs me to help him find a book, it was bliss.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And on the Thirtieth Day...

Today, indeed, yes it's afternoon in fact...I GOT MY CAR BACK!!!

It looks great, like the hailstorm never happened. It was strange to get re-adjusted to it. And I noticed it still smells like new car.

In total, the repairs were over $2,800 (my deductible is $250, thank goodness), and the rental car was $750. I had to pay a bit over $19 on the rental because my insurance just covers up to $25/day.

It's crazy. I haven't even owned the car 7 months, and I didn't have it in my possession for 1 of those months.

The downside is that the hood and roof no longer have the paint sealant that the original finish had because the hood is new and the roof was repainted. If bird poo gets on it, I am supposed to get it off immediately. I may call my Honda dealer and see how much it will be to get both of those parts sealed -- probably way too much.

Netflix--I have gotten very good turn-around time on my last two cycles of DVDs. Sometimes it takes 4 or 5 days to get the next discs, but the past two times it has just taken 2 days. I hope this continues.

I received an LL Bean Fall 2006 clothing catalog in the mail. The lady on the front is wearing a turtleneck sweater with a wool blazer and blue jeans. How did LL Bean know that I was just itching to look at a catalog full of high-necked, thickly layered clothing while it's 104 degrees outside. I flipped through the catalog, started sweating (not really, I just added that for impact) and threw it in the trash.

I don't remember if all 5 of you who post comments here have to enter letters in that annoying verification box to post. What's with those letters, anyway? I never type so many x's, q's and z's as I do when trying to comment on these blogs. The verificationer thingy really favors those letters. Somebody should do something about that.

If you haven't already, you should try playing Animal Ark Mah Jong at It is quite addicting.

In other news...we had some U.S. Senator come into the store today. He wanted to sign copies of his new book. I was at lunch, but I remember his last name begins with a 'D'.

In who-the-hell-cares Captain Underpants temporary tattoo is coming off of my left hand. I should have taken a picture of it while it was still fresh. Oh well.

That's all I have for now.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

No Car, Ice Cream, and Nasty People Thoughts

I still don't have my car. I called on Thursday to ask them if the work was done. It was not. I called them Friday to ask if the work was done. It was not. I was told it would be ready late Monday. I'm deciding to not believe that, in which case it will come true. At that point my car will have been in the shop for 28 days. It better look damn good.

Recipe for Dr. Pepper Ice Cream

Stir one cup sugar into one cup milk and 2 cups half n half.
Add 2 teaspoons vanilla (or more if you want)
Add a couple tablespoons of Dr. Pepper syrup from the Dr. Pepper bottling plant in Dublin, TX (available online)

Pour into 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker and let it run for 25 minutes.


Because of the recent happenings regarding terrorists and the airlines, I was reminded of a couple things that happened the day after 9/11.

Many many people wanted the 9/12 newspaper, especially the New York Times. We received a few copies, like always. We had received numerous phone calls before we opened, and all of our copies had been placed on reserve for those folks. When we opened I remember there was one man who was absolutely livid. I mean yelling, red in the face, teeth snarling irate because we didn't have any NYT papers left for him to purchase. I remember being incredulous at his behavior. Thousands of people had just lost their lives, and this guy was yelling at me because he didn't get a newspaper.

That was one of those situations where all I could do was apologize. What I wanted to tell him is that we had a store in the WTC. It was demolished when the towers fell, though it was in one of the other tower complex buildings. We hadn't yet received word of the safety of the people who worked there, as they all scattered quickly, much like when one of our stores was hit by Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to tell the man that there were more important things than getting a newspaper to keep as a collector's item. But I didn't.

It was within the next couple of days that we learned all of the store staff were ok. They had gotten out well before the towers actually fell.

In the days that followed, as I learned more about what was going on I became increasingly proud and felt privileged to be working in the industry that I do. A large bookstore like mine wouldn't be permitted in many countries, at least not with any kind of diverse selection. I felt good about being able to walk through my store (and that was my 1st store; I'm now on my 4th) and see books on all topics and know that I live in a country where I can read whatever I want. I don't have to sneak around like the ladies in "Reading Lolita in Tehran".

I'm not really building up to any one huge point here. The recent events have just had me reflecting on the past a little bit. Reflection can be good sometimes.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Where, Oh Where, Has My Tangerine Honda Element Gone

Still no car today. I'm going to carry my cell phone with me tomorrow all day, even though I don't permit cell phones on the salesfloor at work. The car had better be done tomorrow!

Today is my only day off this week. I'm quite tarred because of the heat and inventory. When it's over 100 degrees for a few weeks in a row, it really takes a toll on the body. So, I am staying inside allllll day today. I did some chores and need to shred stuff later.

Tonight I'm going to make a pizza. It's kinda pricey to make a pizza this way, but it tastes far better than anything you can buy.

Homemade Pizza

On a Boboli bread shell, spread a can of Italian-seasoned tomato paste.
Sprinkle with more seasonings if desired. I use Penzey's Pizza Seasoning.
Place your toppings on it. Tonight I'm going to make a Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza. Sometimes I top it with pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, onion, and bell pepper.
Top with mozzarella or pizza blend shredded cheese.
Sprinkle some parmesan on top if desired.
Bake in 450 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

It's fast and it's easy to make if you have kids. I make it because it's tasty and I'm lazy. The key is the tomato paste. You get a nice sauce without all the drippiness of a packaged pizza sauce. It also reheats like a gem.

I'm hooked on Stargate-SG1. I have watched the first season through Netflix and am really enjoying it. It is currently in its 10th season, and Stargate: Atlantis is in its 3rd season. All those episodes should keep me busy for a few months.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

No Pictures This Time

Today is day 22 without my Honda. The hail damage was quite extensive and is requiring several techniques to fix. The latest news is that I'll have my car back Thursday or Friday.

Car Pride karma has officially kicked me in the ass. I've had to drive around town in this nasty little Chevy Cobalt for 22 days. I want my car back!!!!!!

In other news...

We had inventory on Sunday night. Inventory is a once-a-year event during which an outside service comes into the store and scans every single piece of merchandise in the entire store.

Inventory is not all that bad. I've been through 12 or 13 of them. But every item in the store gets pulled out, scanned, and shoved back. Imagine someone going through your house and touching/moving everything in it. It can look a bit rough when they're done.

On Sunday night customers kept coming to the front door, asking if we were open. It probably looked like we were open because we had people everywhere and all the lights were still on. About an hour into the process a man came to the door, and I sent one of my managers to go explain the situation to him. The manager came back after speaking with the man for a minute and said, "That was Owen Wilson, by the way."


Speaking of celebrities...

There's a show on Fox -- I think it's Fox -- but remember, I don't watch TV, so I've never seen this show. Anyway, the show is called Prison Break, and apparently it's pretty hot right now. The show is filmed somewhere in Dallas and stars a guy named Wentworth Miller.

I know...poor guy...must be a family name.

This guy apparently comes in my store a few times a week, much to the delight of my staff.


I have a hankering to go to Washington, D.C. on vacation in the next couple of years. I also want to go to Acadia National Park in Maine. I also want to do a white water raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I'd also like to go scuba diving in the Caribbean or Mexico. I'd also like to go to Prince Edward Island.

Where would you like to go?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part VII

Seven parts sounds like a good place to end. These pictures are worth ten million words.

Wild Geese Island

Logan Pass

A Glacier

Flathead Valley/Flathead River

The Garden Wall

Creek Running to Lake McDonald

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part VI

July 5, continued...

This morning I got up at 7am, got ready, then walked 100 feet to a little diner owned by a Blackfeet Indian family. I had biscuits with sausage gravy, hashbrowns, sausage, and a vanilla latte. The breakfast tasted off, probably because the sausage gravy on the biscuits had onions and mushrooms in it. Huh? It didn't taste very good.

After breakfast I returned to the motel to grab my backpack for the 8 hour circle tour red bus ride. I packed my camera, lots of bottled water, and some other things I thought I might need. I then drove over to the lodge where we all eventually got on bus 102 with our tour guide Heather Holly.

From this point on I'll let the pictures do most of the work of illustrating what the tour was like.

The red buses seat 17 people plus the driver. Ours was mostly empty when we left Glacier Park Lodge, as we were going to pick up a large number of people at Sir Isaak Walton Inn, which is located along US Hwy 2. From the lodge we ventured down the highway, stopped at a monument commemorating the man who found the pass through the mountains (named Marias pass). The monument is not at all striking, so I didn't take a picture.

From there we picked up a couple at an RV park along the highway, then traveled to Sir Isaak Walton Inn, where some of the cabins outside the inn are in old cabooses.

We picked up two families at the Inn and made a couple of stops on the way to Lake McDonald Lodge. Here we broke for lunch, and I had a good amount of time to investigate old tree stumps, snow melt runoff streams, rocks on the beach, and other things. The view of the mountains was a bit misty, but the lake water was a brilliant azure/turquoise/aquamarine color that our guide has dubbed 'turazmarine'.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part V

Wednesday, July 5, 8pm

Yesterday morning I slept in, well I laid in. When I got up and at 'em I drove to West Glacier along US Hwy 2. The drive takes a little over an hour, depending on how many vehicles are in front of yours. I learned today that US Hwy 2 runs for 4,060 miles from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon and beyond -- all the way to Seattle. It even goes into Canada at one point. It is also called Theodore Roosevelt International Highway. The drive is mountainous, twisty curvy, and absolutely beautiful. The road follows the path of the Great Northern Railway line, and I saw a couple of trains going along.

Upon arriving at West Glacier, there is a little cluster of shops. These shops all sell pretty much the same things. I was able to find an appropriate T-shirt for my nephew. There is no sales tax in Montana, which is refreshing, so a $9.95 shirt costs just that - $9.95.

I then went down the road through the west entrance to the park to the town of Apgar which is situated on Lake McDonald. There is a souvenir shop located in the old Apgar one-room school house that was built in 1915. I regret I didn't take a picture of it. I should also pause to make a note that many of the buildings in and around the park are so old that the floors slant and very little appears plumb or level. This is especially true of the structures in East Glacier which is actually located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and may or may not be subject to state and federal building codes. I looked in a couple more shops then grabbed a quick lunch at the only restaurant in Apgar. Afterwards I had huckleberry ice cream in a waffle cone. Huckleberry is BIG around here. All the shops sell a ton of different huckleberry products from salad vinaigrette to hand lotion.

I then walked down to the edge of Lake McDonald, took a few pictures, then walked back to my super dented car. It was very evident yesterday morning that the hail did some real damage to my hood and roof.

I needed to get back to East Glacier to get to my horseback ride by 3. My friend wanted to go back to a shop called The Spiral Spoon at which she had purchased 3 gorgeous hand carved spoons. These spoons were works of art - truly, so I dropped her off there, parked at the Lodge, and walked to the horseback riding concession place.

I've ridden numerous times in my life, everywhere from the mountains in Breckenridge, Co, to the desert in Phoenix, AZ, and of course the crappy nose/tail rides as a kid at camp. This ride was wonderful. We had three guides. One's name was Freddie. Freddie is a Sioux Indian who has been in several movies as a stunt man - Dances with Wolves and Hidalgo are the two I remember his saying. Another guide was Mouse, a Blackfeet Indian who won the national rodeo in 1977, I think. The third was a younger kid from the area named Brandon. The ride was a serious climb for the horses, and mine was definitely up to the task. His name was Gigi, which I think is a girl's name, but I don't think the horse cares. There was a guy in the group who was from somewhere in Florida. He was a talker...a geek talker. He was always just on the cusp of annoying me so much that I might have reigned my horse around and punched the geek talker in the face. I learned a great deal about the land during that ride, and even got to trot several times which is way more fun than just walking along.

After the ride I went to eat dinner at a little Mexican restaurant behind the motel called Serrano's. The food wasn't terrible, but it did reinforce the idea that while traveling you should only eat food native to the area. Mexican food in Montana doesn't work out too well. Elk or bison or trout at the lodge would have been a better choice. After dinner I returned to the motel, played numerous games of cards, then listened to and watched people across the street set off fireworks. The sound of fireworks continued well after I went to bed, but I had no trouble falling asleep.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part IV

Monday, July 3 10:50pm-ish

I just finished playing card games -- gin, go fish, and war. War took forever for me to finally lose.

This evening we experienced a hailstorm. It lasted a good 30 minutes or so, maybe less. I took several pictures of the highway, which is right below the hotel, and my car, which suffered some minor dents on the hood (about which I am really unhappy). I also took a short video of the hailstorm with my digital camera. I'll see if the dents are anything my car dealer can take out when I take the car in for its 10k mile service at the next opportunity. It's not serious enough to call my insurance agent about, but I do want it fixed if at all possible. ****Note about the hail damage: I didn't realize when I was writing this in the motel room exactly how extensive the hail damage was to my Element. See a couple of posts below for more details and the claim amount.**** I'm glad none of the glass was broken. I'm sure it would have been impossible to find replacements for the skylight glass, as I don't think there is a Honda dealer in the entire state of Montana.

The bus tour was quite enjoyable. We rode along US Highway 2 to the Continental Divide at Marias Pass. Then we returned near the starting point where we rolled the top back. Up to Double Eagle Falls we went, and we hiked from the parking lot up to the falls and back...again. Then we continued on to Two Medicine Lake, where the other 5 passengers decided to take the boat tour on the lake.

That meant we had the entire bus to ourselves. The driver then took us along Looking Glass Road which I had driven yesterday. It was nice to be able to watch the scenery instead of the road. The sun was bright and the wind was whipping. We finally returned to the lodge and decided to book a place on the 8-hour Circle Tour for Wednesday. The Circle Tour goes from East Glacier to West Glacier then crosses the park on Going-to-the-Sun Road to St. Mary before returning to Glacier Park Lodge. Our driver (Steve from Gainesville, Florida) today told us it is a beautiful drive, and the best way to see the park. He also assured me that the bus makes numerous stops where we get out and hike to little places along the way, so it's not as though you're sitting on a bus for 8 hours. The tour is $70.

My lithium camera batteries are really performing well. I hope they last for the entire journey on Wednesday.

I drove over to the horseback riding outfitters place again this afternoon. They had a spot open at 3pm tomorrow for a 2-hour ride, so I made a reservation. The rafting option isn't going to happen, as there isn't enough time between the end of the rafting and the beginning of horseback riding to get from West Glacier to East Glacier. Oh well.

So that leaves me with some leisure time tomorrow morning. I'll probably get up early again and then drive to the West Entrance to take a look around and search for souvenirs for my nephew.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part III

Day 2

We were up at 6am and on the road at 7am. We continued on US Highways through the skinny panhandle of Oklahoma and up into Kansas. We took a Kansas state highway for a little while to jog us more westerly. Our goal for the second day was to make it as near to Yellowstone as possible and still be able to find a motel room.

Another US Hwy continued us through Kansas, into Colorado, inside the very edge of Nebraska, and finally into Wyoming. I learned on this trip that most towns along US and State Highways have no motels and maybe one gas station if you're lucky. And the 'cities' on the map in Wyoming are really just small towns with few hotel rooms available. At dark, after about 15 hours of driving, listening to Harry Potter 6 along the way, we arrived at Thermopolis, Wyoming, where fortune smiled on us and we found a room at a mom and pop placed called the Rainbow Motel.

Day 3, July 1st (Saturday)

I began realizing that the sun was coming up earlier and setting later as we traveled north. Obvious, I know, but I hadn't thought about it much until then. The sun was up in Thermopolis before 6am. We were on the road and at Yellowstone's east entrance by 9am. I decided to get the one-year national park pass for $50 instead of paying the $25 for Yellowstone plus paying again at Glacier.

Driving around Yellowstone takes hours, literally hours and hours. This is Yellowstone Lodge, which is right next to Old Faithful.

We stopped at Old Faithful, and I took many great pictures of the various hot pools as well as the eruption of Old Faithful. This is a boiling hot spring. The stench of sulphur is very strong in the air in this area. Not at all pleasant.

We eventually made our way to the north entrance at Mammoth, where I was tickled at a sign that read "Mammoth Restroom" as though it were a very large bathroom. I bought a t-shirt and cup for my nephew.

After this we hurried to Helena, eager to find a hotel room before dark. Helena, Montana was all booked up--for a baseball game was in town. Um...ok. When we asked the lady at the Holiday Inn Express if she knew how long it took to drive to Great Falls, she answered, "I don't know where that is." Hmmm, you have just a handful of towns in the state that are actually in bold on the map, and you don't know where they are? Good grief. So we got back in the car and drove toward Great Falls, keeping our fingers crossed that there would be a hotel room somewhere.

I pulled into the first hotel we saw -- another Holiday Inn, and they had one room left. It was right next to their 'convention' area where a wedding party was going on rather loudly. I didn't care about the noise, and we got a really good rate plus my AAA discount. I had just spent another long day driving, and I knew I'd be able to get to sleep just fine.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hail Damage Estimate

I went to the State Farm claims office today to have my car hail damage estimated.

The total: $2,336.98

I'll basically have a brand new outside-of-my-car when it's all fixed, as the hood, roof, all the doors, and the back will need to be replaced. The fenders are plastic and can be fixed using a method called PDR.

There are several body shops around here that I can take it to. I'll take it tomorrow on my day off and also get a rental car.

Such fun is mine.

But...thank goodness for insurance.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part II

July 3 11:15am

I went to go horseback riding this morning, but therewereno openings. I'll stop by again this afternoon to reserve a time for Wednesday. I just had a spot of lunch and will probably grab a snack before headingover to Glacier Park Lodge for the red jammer bus tour that sets out at 1pm.

This morning I walked the length of Main Street in East Glacier,which is about a couple hundred yards long, and looked in the 2 shops thatwere open. I found a bottle of local beer for my boss, huckleberry coffeefor my family, and some postcards. The post office is at the opposite endof town, so I walked there to buy 3 postcard stamps and to mail the postcards.I didn't write messages on the ones I sent to my store and family. Postcardmessages always sound so contrived. I just wrote the address.

It'srather cloudy right now which will help keep things cool on the bus trip.I saw a Mexican restaurant on a side street here in town. The sign saidit is open 5-10pm. This ain't the big city, cowgirl.

I think I'll now back up and tell the events from the very beginning of the trip. --

Day1 was Thursday, June 29. I took Gracie to the vet first thing then returnedhome to pack the final few freshly laundered items, loaded all the preparedfood and bottles of frozen water into the ice chest, made sure the fish hadtheir feeding block in place, and left to pick up my friend.

We got on the road exactly when I planned which is a minor miracle when you have more than one person involved.

Iwould rather have taken this trip by myself, as I enjoy being alone on mylong drives and vacations, but it made much more economical sense to be ableto split the cost of gas and lodging. We have a third friend who wants togo on a trip with us sometime, but I don't know about that. Three peoplein my Element would be fine, but 3 people in a motel room that only has 2beds wouldn't be the height of comfort. My friends are dear people, butI'm not sharing a bed with them as though we were kids at a sleepover.

Thehusband of one of my friend's friends was a truck driver for many years,sohe gave us a few route options. I usually travel interstates as much aspossible, as they are the most efficient routes, but we were in no hurryto get up to Glacier, so we took a lot of U.S. Highways and State Highwaysinstead.

From Dallas we took I-35 north to Denton where we took380 west to US Hwy 287 north. At Childress, TX we took US Hwy 83 north. Afteran unusual detour which we happened to make because we were talking too muchand didn't see the left turnoff to continue on 83, we stopped in the verynorthern part of the Texas panhandle at dark.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Yellowstone/Glacier National Park, Part I

I took a 9-day trip to Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park from June 29, 2006 to July 7, 2006. I kept a journal of most of the days' happenings. I didn't have time every day to write in it, especially on the travel days, as I was driving 14-17 hours on those days and didn't do anything else. In all I covered over 4,000 miles, traveled through 7 states, and saw enough beautiful landscape to last me a long while.

I'll probably jump around quite a bit in the re-telling of my journeys, as I sometimes backtracked in the journal to describe events of previous days. And I'll have to remember the last day and the 2-day journey home as best as I can since I didn't write anything at all about them yet. I traveled with one of my good friends, but I noticed that sometimes I say 'we' and sometimes I say 'I' when referring to things I/we did while on the trip. I'm not going to worry about editing all of that.

I will also place photos and mini-movies throughout the posts when they are relevant. ...and we're off...

July 2, 2006 1:30 mountain daylight time (is that MDT?)

Well here we are finally at Glacier. After 3 days of traveling, a couple of rain showers, and a side trip through Yellowstone, we have arrived.
Our motel, the Circle R Motel, is right across the street from the Amtrak station where a train is currently passing by. The funny thing is that I can't even hear the train...well, barely can hear it.

We're unpacking now, then we'll rest a bit before returning to the car to drive into the park. We've already been to Glacier Park Lodge and had lunch and looked at the gift shop. The lodge is beautiful -- everything made of wood, with brilliant architecture. I had a bison burger for lunch. It was overcooked.

Same Day

It is now about 3:15 pm. I had laid down to rest a bit and drifted off to a short nap. We listened to the 6th Harry Potter book on audio on the drive up here, only just finishing this morning. Jim Dale is a brilliant narrator. There is one guy on the platform over at the train station. I've only seen a multitude of freight trains pass by, not yet a passenger train.

Earlier we made reservations for the 1pm red 'jammer' 3-hour bus tour for tomorrow. That should be lots of fun. We're also looking at the rafting pamphlets, the boat tours, and I'm looking at the horseback riding information. I can't decide between a 2-hour ride and a 3-hour ride. I'll probably end up doing the longer one...perhaps tomorrow morning. I'm going now to check exactly where to go for the rides.

Same Day 10pm

It is still light outside. I love it. A couple of days ago in Thermopolis, Wyoming, it was light at 5:30am. I wonder what time the sun rises around here, even further north.

I've decided to take a 2 hour horseback ride that starts at 9:30am tomorrow. That'll give me enough time to get all situated for the 1pm red 'jammer' bus tour. I really only have 3 full days in Glacier, and I want to be sure that I get to do everything I want to.

The Empire Builder train pulled into the station a few hours ago. Empire Builder is an Amtrak train that has been servicing East Glacier since Louis Hill, then president of the Great Northern Railway, had the Glacier Park Lodge built in the early part of the last century. I took a couple of pictures of the train.