Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Does Tornadoes have an 'e' in it?

We've had day after day of tornadoes around here for the past week+. It's getting old. Fortunately, most of them have hit to the west or south of DFW, touching down in small towns I've never heard of before because they have a population of 17 or so.

I still remember May of 2000 when a tornado ripped through downtown Ft. Worth and destroyed buildings and generally wreaked havoc. Fortunately, it was in the evening, after the work day was completed.

At least we've had a goodly amount of rain, after several months with no rain. I must mow my lawn tomorrow and buy another bottle of weed killer. I thought I had done did kilt all my weeds, but they are springing up all over the place because of all the rain. Oh, goody. I don't want to get a nastygram from my HOA, so I have to mow forthwith.

Today was my second day at my new job. Yesterday was a half day filled with paperwork and such, and today included 6 hours of watching videos, which were actually very well produced, along with certification, and a store visit with several executives. That was a good experience.

I get to learn to drive the forklift soon, which tickles me to no end! And I had such fun interacting with the pets and their parents today on the floor. Two thumbs up for this job so far. And I'm ecstatic that there is a strict dresscode. I will no longer have to spend tons of money every year on work clothes. And no more worrying about what I will wear every day. Perfection. I plan on donating many of my former work clothes to Goodwill. That will clean out my closet nicely.

I'm whooped. I got very lazy during my two months off, though I dare say I needed the rest and relaxation. I'm going to watch my DVR'd Survivor then get some sleep.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Gel, Hail, Spiders, and More

It's been one week since I got this gel-based polish manicure, and it still looks grrrreat. I've only had 3 manicures in my life, and the first 2 times the polish chipped after 24-48 hours and began looking so ghetto that I had to remove it. This polish still looks fantastic. It was $35 to get the gel-based French manicure, which is fantastic if it will stay put for 3-4 weeks. It also means my very bendable nails aren't splitting or tearing like they normally do. I think it is money well-spent.

I'm still waiting to hear back from my new boss about my official start day. The background check takes some time, he said, and with it being a holiday weekend this past weekend, it pushed it back even further. This is fine. I'm not in any hurry, and he needn't change around his entire schedule just to start me a couple days earlier than is convenient for him.

We've been experiencing some severe weather around here for the past couple of weeks. Fortunately, the rain has beaten down the wildfires, and they are mostly under control now from what I understand. Two nights ago the wind was so fierce it sounded like something was trying to push through my garage door. I lost power a couple of times, which isn't easy considering the electrical lines in the neighborhood are buried (but the ones out at the main road are above ground). I keep some supplies and my personal essentials in the closet at night in case I hear the sirens and need to run for cover (or roll out of bed as it were). It hailed last night about 3am, but I don't see any damage to windows or the roof, and my car is kept all snug and tidy in the garage.

My garden continues to grow. I should have some radishes of a decent size soon enough, and the bibb lettuce is taking off. I still don't have any strawberries, but there are blooms on one of the ten plants. There are also flowers on the zucchini, cucumber, both tomato plants, and some of the pepper plants. Maybe I should fertilize them. I haven't done that so far.

I've had a few wolf spiders in the house, and they surprise me, though I don't mind them so much. They are not poisonous to humans, and they are helping keep the insect population down. Still, they can be about 3 inches long, and that's not something I want to greet me without warning.

I have a question for you: I have a goodly number of framed certificates and awards from my former company that are sitting in boxes. I'm trying to get everything unpacked and in a good place. Should I hang those certificates and awards in my office, or should I pack them away now that I have moved on from that company?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Got the Job!

I received another call this afternoon from Company P's DM, asking me to meet him at 3:30 at the same store we met yesterday. I knew this was a good sign, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. The time came, I went to the store, and he offered me the position. The position is Store Manager in Training. I will be trained in all aspects of the store and then take over a store of my own when one becomes available. I am super jazzed.

I am going to love working with a company that is profitable and that is growing. I am exceptionally thrilled that what I do will have a positive effect on people, just like bookselling was. People love their pets, and it will be a joy to be a part of keeping pets healthy and happy.

All that is left is the drug test and the background check. I hustled on over to the drug testing place and got in just before closing time, so we'll be good to go.

I will be starting next week. Yay!

I will find out tomorrow (now today)

I had a nice time chatting with the DM and a store manager for company P. I really really really really really really really want to work for this company. I will find out tomorrow, which refers to Wednesday. Keep all body parts crossed for me.

I went directly from the interview to my friend Nancy's house. Our friend Martha had driven down from Tulsa because the two of them are going on a trip to Nancy's Aunt and Uncle's place in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The three of us had planned to meet up, drive into Dallas, and enjoy a huge feast of food at Royal China, our most fave Chinese restaurant. We were all so hungry and had been waiting almost a week for this. We ordered a variety of dumplings, some sort of pork buns which I hated, crispy spring rolls, and cold spicy noodles. Then we ordered our entrees which included shrimp and walnuts, salt and pepper chicken, szechuan beef, and green beans and pork. All of this and the tab was right at only $100 before tip. Amazing.

We then all drove back to Nancy's house in Plano and talked for hours. Their stores have completed their liquidation sale, and they are officially unemployed. They will be able to enjoy their vacation without having to worry about what is going on in their stores. They are going to have a great time! I left and drove the 50 minutes home and am now waiting for my sheets to dry so I can remake my bed and get some shut eye. I probably won't sleep well because I'll be anticipating the phone call. No worries.

I think that's all for now. I will post the results of the phone call tomorrow after I receive it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Interview #4 coming up

Tomorrow at 2:30 I have an in-person interview with Company P. Yay, finally a face-to-face with the District Manager! I got a haircut (it's been 5 or 6 months) and a manicure, and I've decided what I'm going to slacks with a black top and black shoes. I bought a new sterling silver (all sterling silver is 60% off at Kohl's) chain for my cheap $15 butterfly necklace. The old chain had tarnished beyond resurrection, and everyone comments on the butterfly because it looks so pretty. So I will wear that to jazz up the all black ensemble, and I will also wear a brightly colored scarf, either in pink tones or orange tones to add professionalism and pizzaz. If I can find socks that coordinate to the scarf, I shall wear those as well.

For the manicure I got the gel-based polish, which the manicurist told me would last 3-4 weeks instead of the regular polish which chips in a couple of days. My nails look great, so hopefully they will stay that way for a while.

I'm heading to an office supply store in a little bit to get some nice paper to use when printing out another copy of my resume and my references. I doubt he will need the resume, but it won't hurt to provide another copy and them my refs as well, since no one yet has asked me for them. Maybe they don't put a lot of stock in references, which I understand, because who is going to list a reference that is going to say anything but positive things about you? Or maybe they are waiting to get to their final final candidate. He does have 3 people to interview tomorrow.

There was a time about a year ago when my former company required 7 references to be checked...omg....and I started checking peoples' references even before I interviewed them in person. It can be so difficult to get some of these folks to call you back, that many times I had to get the candidate to take action to get their references to contact me.

Company W also called me today to tell me they filled their open store manager position with the person who was the interim store manager. I had a feeling that is what they would do, and it is wise to promote from within whenever you have a qualified candidate.

So, wish me luck tomorrow around 2:30 central time.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Gusts of up to 1 gobdillion miles per hour. Crazy.

I had a third phone interview with HR at Company P today. I think it went ok. They can't pay me what I need/want in base compensation, but the bonus structure is very strong, and most of their stores bonus....and it's a quarterly thing with 3 components. So, I think in the end, things will be even, or I'll be ahead. They also match 401(k), give annual performance-based raises, have an employee stock purchase program, and something else too, all of which my old company hasn't done for several years.

I find it odd that no one has asked me yet for references to check. I don't know how many other people are in the process. I may hear something back next week, or maybe the week after. I think it depends on how many others are in the interview process and where they are in the process.

This weekend will be so exciting for me! I am arranging 80s TV show theme songs for 2 mellophones, I'm going to another soccer game Saturday night, then on Sunday I have my birthday party with my family followed by rehearsal. Ha ha! It's not exciting, but I am thoroughly enjoying my time off.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Grill, the Interviews, the Bike

I'm enjoying my grill. I cooked a couple of hot dogs on it yesterday for lunch. Tonight I will cook some chicken that I need to get in the marinade in a little bit.

The phone interview lasted 2 hours yesterday, and today I took an online assessment for the company. It turns out that I really like this DM's style. He lets his store managers run their stores and isn't managing them on a day to day basis like I had to at my former company. Such a relief! He also holds optional training sessions for his team on leadership. The metrics are achievable, the business is profitable and growing.....I think I would really enjoy working for this company. Let's hope it all works out. The next step is to interview with a Store Manager to get their take on me. I am an excellent in-person interviewer/interviewee, because that is when my personality ca be observed and not just heard over the phone. That piece is not yet scheduled, but I was told the process could take another couple of weeks.

I am going to get a bicycle today. I want a cruising bike. I hate bikes where you have to lean all the way over to ride them (mountain bike and street bikes). Target has some Schwinn cruising bikes, so I'll go there after lunch and see what I see. I don't need a lot of gears, so a single gear or a 3 speed is just fine. I want it to have a nice wide cushiony comfy seat, and if it has basket, that will be supercute as well, though I don't require a basket.

The garden is growing like crazy. We finally had a really warm night a few nights ago, and all the plants took off! It's now been 3 1/2 weeks since I planted the seeds and small plants, and everything has sprouted and is spreading its wings. I need to thin out the radishes, carrots, and onions. It's so exciting to think that I'll start having some fresh organic veggies very soon!

Have a great day!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Interviewing and other Fun

I had a second phone interview with Company W today. I won't say its name yet. I had a phone screening a couple of weeks ago with their recruiter, and today I spoke to their HR person for the region/area/whatever they call it. It went really well, so I'm being passed on to the District Manager. There is some sort of meeting this week, so it will be next week before I meet with the DM.

I also had an in-person interview set up for tomorrow at Company P, but when I called the DM today like I was instructed, he told me to call back tomorrow for a phone interview with him. I already had a phone interview with another DM last week. The DM last week and the DM today told me that in their company they have 2 DMs do partial interviews, then trade notes. That is fine. But I don't like being told that I'd have an in-person interview and then the plan changes...and that I need to call the DM tomorrow. That's not the way it works. The company representative should contact the candidate at the time of the phone interview. And if he decides to take me to the next step after that, a Store Manager would interview me. Now, I am all in favor of developing the Store Managers' higher-level interviewing abilities, but as a District Manager if you can't screen out your candidates via phone and get to your top one or two to interview in person, there might be a problem there. I do realize that different companies have different processes for this. This one just seems odd and put offish. This is the company I really want to work for, so it is concerning. I will definitely want to meet the DM and see if it is someone I can work for. I am hopeful that some things just got in the way that the DM needs to attend to (goodness knows that I know how this can happen) and that all will be well. I am cautiously optimistic.
In completely other news.......I bought my grill this weekend, and a friend helped me assemble it yesterday. We cooked steaks and corn on it last night and had a lovely time. Then we played french horn duets on our mellophones for well over an hour.

On Saturday night I went to a soccer game. My younger sister and her husband are on an indoor soccer league team, and it was fun to see people of all shapes and sizes and ages trying their best on the field. My sister's team lost terribly, but she said she was enjoying herself and getting good exercise, which is what she wanted. I think she played well, and my brother in law is the goalie, and he also played well. My older sister's husband is supposed to be joining the league as well, so I will try to make as many games as I can.

On Saturday afternoon, and then again after I got home from the game, a friend and I spent probably 6 hours or so arranging Christina Perri's song Jar of Hearts for 4 Mellophones. It was much more difficult than we thought it was going to be. We were up til almost 2 in the morning, then finished it off Sunday morning before heading to rehearsal.

Our arranging process is funny. We find the video of the song on YouTube on his phone which is plugged into my receiver so that we can listen to it through the sound system speakers. I have a 20 year old synthesizer keyboard that we use, and we find the piano sheet music and chord progressions online if possible. Then we also have our two mellophones. I hand write all the music using pencil and staff paper because I don't want to spend $500 on music software right now. And then we listen to the song, a bar or two at a time, over and over and over until we get the notes and rhythms down for the melody for the entire song. Then we start again at the beginning and figure out the chord structure and write the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd parts simultaneously, creating our rhythms and embellishments within those chords. It's great fun, though mentally tiring. Our end product is really quite good, we just don't have 4 good players to play all the parts.

We are trying to think of other songs to arrange that audiences would enjoy listening to. Do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The cost of not having insurance

Wowsers, I got my Nasonex prescription refilled at Walgreen's tonight. It cost me $118 and change. My top-tier medical insurance through my former company only cost me about $182/month. When I had that good insurance, the Nasonex was $10. There is no generic for Nasonex at this time, and I have to be able to breathe on a daily basis during allergy season, so I guess I'll just grin and bear it. I make the bottle last far longer than its 30 days, so perhaps I'll have real insurance again before I have to refill it. The pharmacist did sign me up for a Walgreen's insurance program, which is just $20. And it saved me $23 off this one item, so I'm already $3 ahead and can use it for a year as well as get 10% put back onto the insurance card once I receive it.

I have an in-person interview on Tuesday with PetsMart, which is something I think I would enjoy and is a company that is making a profit and is expanding. I need a stable or growing company, so this would be a good move to run one of their stores. The phone screening went well, and now I'm interviewing with another person. I think I'm better in person than on the phone, so I plan on wowing him. I'll let you know how it goes.

In other news, everyone boo'd when Pia was voted off American Idol tonight. Yes, she is a fantastic singer and comes across as a lovely person, but the winner of AI is not always the most talented or most deserving. Stefano and Hailey grate on me, so I won't lose any sleep if they go. I don't care one way or the other about Paul, Jacob, or James. I adore Scotty, Lauren, and Casey. I believe I want Casey to win.

That is all for now.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Job Hunt Continues

I had 3 very successful phone screenings this week. The position I really wanted is actually being offered to another person this afternoon, so I missed the window on that one. Still, that person could decline.

There are not many multi-unit level positions open in this area, so I might have to go back to being a store manager for a while, which I don't really want to do. On one hand, it would be easy breezy, but on the other hand, it would be boring and I wouldn't necessarily get the days off I need to march drum corps. And I won't get anywhere near my last salary. But again on the up side, I probably wouldn't be working 7 days a week, 14 hours a day, so that is a big plus.

We'll see. I still have plenty of time to find the right position before I start to get nervous about money.

In other news, I took my Element in to the dealership yesterday for its 110,000 mile service, and they found that the power steering pump was leaking, so altogether that will be an $800 bill with the other $400 going to all the regular 110,000 mile service items. Now that the car is paid off and is over 5 years old, I don't mind spending some money each year to keep it running in tip top shape for another 5 years. They kept the car overnight to get the needed part and install it today, so they gave me a loaner car, which is a Civic hybrid. Aside from not liking a small car, I really hate how the engine shuts off every time you stop, and it's a jerky start when you press on the gas again. I understand this is the way it saves power, but it's freaking annoying, especially in stop and go traffic. The 50 mpg is a good selling point, so if they ever incorporate the technology into an Element, I will take a test drive and see what I think.

I'm busy cleaning house and need to stack up boxes in the 3rd bedroom because I have 2 house guests this weekend; both are mellophone players, and one is driving up from Austin. The 2nd bedroom has all the nice furniture, but the 3rd bedroom is my music room/dumping ground, so I am going to get a $149 sofa bed from IKEA on the way home from the dealer. I've been wanting to get one for that room, and now is as good a time as any.

I still have floors to vacuum and mop and boxes to stack before I go get my car, so have a great day!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Free Home Depot Gift Cards

I am so very excited! Last Thursday I went online and exchanged my Chase Visa card rewards points for Home Depot gift cards. The cards just arrived, and now I have $625 in Home Depot gift cards that I can go to town with !

I am going to get an electric lawnmower (still haven't decided if I want a corded one or a rechargeable battery one), an electric edger, and will be able to pay for part of a grill with all those cards.

This is why I put everything on my credit card and pay it off each month. I never have to pay interest, and I end up getting free things. If you have a card that isn't giving you rewards or benefits that you can and will use, please consider transferring that balance to one that will. You might as well beat the banks at their own game.
In other news, I just completed my first phone screening, and the recruiter really really liked me. The problem is that the compensation can't even come close to what I need, much less what I want. Compensation in retail is not only based on experience level, but on store sales volume, and the store that she wanted to place me in doesn't make enough money to warrant the salary I need. I knew it probably wouldn't, but this is a very strong company, so I wanted to pursue it.
I have another phone screening tomorrow, and then another on Friday. I hope those go as well as the first one.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Job Hunt, Updated

I received a call on Friday to set up a phone screening for noon on Tuesday.

Then today, while I was spending the entire day at a Winterguard competition in a small town near here, trying to recruit people for my drum corps, I received a phone call and an email from two more companies wanting to set up phone screenings for this coming week.

So, I am optimistic about this coming week!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Job Search

It is not going well. I have applied online to 12 different companies so far, and will continue to apply to several each day. Sometimes the process is quick-ish, just 30 minutes or less, and sometimes it is a couple of hours (Petco took longer than that).

I know what I need to make to cover all my bills and still have some money left over to do the things I want to do, but there aren't many openings right now. I did apply at the Limited Brands website today (Limited, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, etc.) and got a call from someone to set up a phone screening with one of their recruiters next Tuesday. So that's good. I am over-qualified to run a mall store, though, so I hope there are other opportunities in this market.

I completely re-tooled my resume, and it is hot hot hot, if I do say so myself. I'm surprised I haven't received more calls, even if it's just to network. I'm on LinkedIn, and am in the process of getting onto all the job search sites that I can find. I think it's just a matter of time, because I've really only been looking for about a week, and giving it partial effort.

I promised myself I'd take some time to relax, rest, get sleep, and work on the house. It is amazing how much sleep I am needing. I feel like I'm making up for 15 years of lost sleep. I'm also enjoying spending time reading, taking care of my nephew, seeing friends, watching TV, practicing my horn, taking trips to Home Depot, working on the house, and all sorts of other things. I'm really enjoying my time off, but I do want to have something lined up for April or early May.

Nothing else exciting is going on.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Landscaping & Gardening

Successful first attempts at landscaping and gardening, I think. My neighbors across the street have 'done up' their front yard in a similar way. My lot is really sloped toward the street, and I just didn't have it in me to dig down into the rocky soil to make the bricks level, but I think it still looks just fine. It took 89 of those concrete limestone bricks, which weigh 20 pounds each, I think.

I planted a pink rose bush and a white rose bush against the house in the back of the bed, and kept the 4 holly bushes. Then I added 5 more bushes. I don't know the names, but I kept the plastic tags, so I can find out if I need to. I took 4 trips to Home Depot between Thursday and Friday, and then a friend stayed over Friday night, and we got up early early to beat the crowds at Home Depot on Saturday. We got there at 7:20am to get a full pallet of topsoil. Topsoil is cheap, just $1.25/bag. Each bag is 40 pounds, and lifting/moving it gets very old very quickly. Between the front yard landscaping and the garden in the back, I used 3,200 pounds of topsoil. Crazy!

For the garden in the back, I copied what my younger sister and her husband had done: they bought a 4x8 foot garden kit. I thought it would be too small, but it seemed to fit everything I wanted to plant. And I can always buy more kits that interlock with it later if I want. My friend and I built it and dumped the dirt on Saturday, then I planted it Sunday afternoon. I have TEN strawberry plants, and I cannot wait for them to produce fruit!

My radish seed packet said they are ready in 22 days, which means i will have my first micro-harvest just a couple weeks into April. Some of those vegetable seeds were so tiny that I just tossed them into a furrow, so I'll need to go back and buy more seeds for future plantings, or move some of the sprouts to a different location if they are too close together.

I planted strawberries, pumpkin, watermelon, cantaloupe, jalapeno pepper (2 plants, I love jalapeno peppers and use them often), mucho nacho pepper, poblano pepper, beefsteak tomato, heirloom green tomato, sugar snap peas, cucumber, zucchini, carrots, white onion, yellow onion, bunch onion, celery, bibb lettuce, dill, basil, thyme, cilantro, radish, kentucky long beans, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, green bell pepper, okra, and I think that's all.

I'd like to plant potatoes, but I ran out of room. I plan on letting the cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkin vines spill over the sides and into the yard, thereby not taking up much room. in the garden itself, which really is quite small. We shall see what happens; I don't know what kind of pests to be on the lookout for or what kind of fertilizer to use, so I'll be investigating that. Right now, I just have that topsoil in the garden.

I'll do my best to post pics as the garden progresses. I figure some things will grow very well and some will be a complete bust, but I guess that's the way it is with anything in life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Future?

I found out last Wednesday morning that my position is being eliminated. As you almost certainly know, my company filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy last week, and we are closing about 200 stores. Such massive store closures means we can no longer support/justify having as many district managers as before. I was one of many to be laid off.

My last day officially is this Saturday, but I am pretty much already transitioned out. It is such an odd feeling. I haven't out and out bawled over it, but I teared up several times on a couple of days last week. I can't decide if I am sorry for myself, for my stores, for my company, or for no longer having a team of people to lead. Probably all of these things and more.

I think we all knew this day might come, and I have been in a state of high alert for almost 2 years now, so in a strange way it is a relief to finally have resolution. I loved/love my company and gave it 10 years and 7 months of my life. You all know as well as anyone that I was a strong supporter and advocate, and was very proud of my company. I worked hard and smart and was a loyal and dedicated employee for all those years.

I have been receiving emails from those who worked with me and for me throughout the years, and it is nice to know that I have impacted their lives and career in the ways they are telling me.

I have no doubts that I will find another job, and quickly. Now it is a matter of trying to determine what I want to do, what I will enjoy, and what will allow me the time I need to continue my drum corps hobby. I need that hobby to bring balance to my life.

I wish the best to all those I leave behind. I want my company to survive and strengthen and live a long, profitable life.

If you have any suggestions on career paths I should consider, please let me know. I am open to just about anything. I want to explore as many options as possible, though I don't want to go back to school. I have my Bachelor's and that's all I'm willing to do.


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Learning to Be a Homeowner

You will laugh at me for the things I'll write about, and I don't blame you one bit. Dad took care of most of the things around the house, though my sisters and I had a lot of daily and weekly chores. But setting the table and emptying the trashcans into the big trashcan in the garage is different.

One of the things I learned in my first week of home ownership is how to 'do' the trash. My pickup day is Monday. My city recycles, so I have a recycle bin and a garbage bin. They are both on wheels and are made of that heavy duty textured plastic. My bulk item pickup is the first Monday of every month. We cannot set the bins out until after 6pm the night before, which is not a problem. And we have to pull them back in by 6pm Monday evening. Three months ago, the bins were delivered, and I was preparing to set them out for the first time. I put all my recycling in one and all the trash in the other, and only then noticed that I put the wrong thing in each one. So I unpacked them and redid it. I laughed at myself. They are different sizes, and I assumed the larger one was for trash, and only noticed that it says "Fort Worth Recycles" on the side after I had filled it with garbage. No harm done, but I thought it was funny how I didn't know how to do the trash. So now, every Sunday evening, I roll my containers out to the curb, place them facing the correct direction, and forget about them until the next day.

I also had to learn how to water my lawn. Because my yard was sodded so late in the year, it didn't have a long time to get its roots down into the soil. Also, my lot is sloped, so I found that I was watering the street in addition to watering my back yard if I wasn't careful. I have a couple of sprinklers, several soaker hoses, and a couple of hand sprays, so I'm set, I think.

For the first time in my life, I have wood floors and ceramic tile. The great room is wood, the bathrooms, kitchen, and entryway are tile, and the bedrooms and office are carpet. I sealed all the tile before I moved in, and I vacuum frequently to keep the carpets looking new as long as possible. But the wood floors are crazy! Every little speck of paper or grass or dust is visible on it. So I swiffer sweep it several times a week so that it looks pretty. I don't mind, and it only takes a couple minutes. It's just shocking how much stuff is on the swiffer pad every time, and knowing that this is the same amount of stuff that would be in the carpet if I had carpet in that room. Crazy.

And this will sound really weird.....but I'm also having to learn how to be a neighbor. I never, in my 15 years of living in apartments, cared to know any of the people living there. Many of the people were loud, yelled at each other, and dinged my car doors in the parking lot. I still jump when my doorbell rings, because I would never ever answer a knock on my apartment door unless I knew someone was coming over, which rarely happened. Now, I live in a fabulous little neighborhood with sidewalks, new homes, and kids who can plan in the yards and in the street without fear of something horrible happening to them. So, when I'm driving, I wave to all the kids, all the people walking dogs, and all the people in their yards who look up at my orange Honda. The next door kids know they can help themselves to getting in my backyard if they accidentally kick the soccer ball over the fence, and they can ring my doorbell to ask to borrow my snow shovel to use to build their snowman.

I'm thinking of joining the Citizens Patrol for the neighborhood, if I can ever get to a meeting/training session. I figure the more people I help, the more who will help me keep an eye on my house when I'm not home. I have a security system, but nothing beats the watchful eyes of concerned neighbors.

Life is good. I hope it stays that way.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Series I've Read and Enjoyed

Emma mentioned the Hunger Games series on her blog, so I thought I'd post some of my favorite Young Adult series that are along the same lines. Sorta like, 'If you Like Hunger Games, Try....'. I love, love, love the post-apocalyptic sub-genre of books with that survival theme.

I will list the first book in the series but try and tell you how many books there are so far:

Gone by Grant Baker (total of 3 so far, I've read 2, so I don't yet know if the 3rd is the last) - set in and around a town on the California coast, in the blink of an eye all the adults are gone, and the teens and kids come to learn they are trapped inside a dome that encompasses several square miles. Some of the kids develop odd powers, and there are two factions (of course) fighting each other.

Life as We Knew It by Pfeffer (series is complete at 3 books) - an asteroid hits the moon and pushes its orbit closer to the earth causing climate changes, tsunamis, etc. First book is the best.

Maze Runner by Dashner (2 books so far, I have but have not yet read the 2nd book) - a teenage boy wakes up in a type of elevator that is taking him upwards to a garden acreage area where there are only teenagers. The land is surrounded by a maze that is deadly if you venture into it after dark. What is in the maze, and is there a way out?

The Uglies by Westerfeld (6 or 7 books in this series, I forget) - at the age of 16, everyone gets plastic surgery to become pretty, but a rogue group of people don't think that's right. They try to rebel against society and the government.

Shadow Children by Haddix (7 books, first one is Among the Hidden; series complete) - this one is shelved in Independent Reader, but is still very captivating. The government has passed a law stating that families may only have 2 children, but people break the law and subsequently must keep their 3rd child in hiding lest the authorities find out. The Shadow Children find each other and plan to overthrow the government.

The Limit (standalone) by Kristen Landon (might also be shelved in Independent Reader but really is more of a YA title) - the government has given every family a budget. If the family overspends, then they must send one or more of their children to work off the debt. The main character is super-smart and gets sent to a place where he and other kids are doing strange computer work and experiments.

Not post-apocalyptic but still fantastic:

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (3 books total) - set in a British boarding school in the 1800s, teenage Gemma learns she has the ability to cross over into another realm, and there are dangerous people who will kill to get access to that realm

Books I've have bought and am pretty certain I will like:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - a post-apocalyptic romance

Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling - in adult sci/fi; first in a series; recommended by one of my GMs

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Book One of Chaos Walking series) - Todd lives in a town where everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts; he stumbles across an area of complete silence and discovers that something terrible has been hidden; they must run, but their pursuers can hear their thoughts

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Found My Iron!!!!

I only had to look in 8 boxes and 5 large Rubbermaid containers before locating it. I try not to purchase clothing that has to be ironed, but I had a fashion-thought that if I layered this lavendar cami with this purplish striped shirt and topped it off with a cute purple/mauve ish argyle pullover, then I might just look stylish tomorrow at work!

So of course I had to starch and iron the shirt. I'm gonna look cool, and feel hot.

And on a completely different note:

If you find yourself in the middle of making a bad decision, stop and take a moment to really think about it. If you are in the presence of someone who is making a bad decision and acting on it, ask them about it. Good people make bad decisions sometimes, and we should help each other reduce the amount of times that happens.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Funniest Stuff in a Long, Long Time

If you have not yet checked out this website, please do so! It is hysterical. Especially the one called "When Moms Text".

My torso hurts from laughing over it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My New House

I closed on October 29 and moved in a week later. After that, I worked almost every damn day until New Year's weekend. And this week I've been on vacation. I'm loving the house, but I'm still not unpacked. Here are a lot of photos that I haven't posted yet.