Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a very joyous holiday spent with the people whom they love and mean the most to them. I know I did!

Christmas Eve dad and Michael came over for a wonderful dinner of nibbles, some movies and gifts. All four dogs (Turtle, Mickey, Ginger and CeCe), two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree were there. It got a little crazy at times. Santa brought each dog a bone for Christmas though, so that helped keep them occupied. The humans kept occupied by watching Over the Hedge and Jet Li's Fearless. I think we all enjoyed Over the Hedge more. Our nibbles were different varieties of nuts, cavier, candy, champagne soaked mushrooms, almond stuffed olives direct from Spain, Italian bread with bruschetta, Michael's wonderful homemade biscuits with blackberry jelly, and croissants stuffed with chive cream cheese and bacon. We don't do traditional dinner - we like to nibble. Turtle discovered she liked Italian spiced bread. Every time we turned our back she would steal a piece from the table. Stinker dog.

I gave dad a new Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse, and 12 mini-pies. He loves my pies so I bake them, freeze them and vacuum seal them so he has a pie a month for the next year. Michael gave him some Knob Creek whiskey and is going to help install the keyboard and mouse. :) Despite my admonitions that we were not exchanging gifts, Michael brought me a hand crank radio/flashlight. There were two in the package, and dad and I were each took one. Michael seemed to think they would come in handy for us. Can't imagine why. Michael also brought Turtle three squeaky toys since he knows how much I LOVE hearing squeaky toys at all hours of the night. My main gift from everyone this year was my camera, but dad still brought me a few cool things. More tools, a wireless weather station, some appetizer forks, knives and picks, a pretty necklace and a wet mess cleaner-upper (aka something to pick up kitty hairballs and doggie grass goo). Unfortunately I've already had to use that.

We headed to grandma's for Christmas Day for our usual feast at her house, then opened gifts. I brought the dogs, much to Cousin Kristen's dismay, but they were very well behaved. They had their beds and bones to keep them busy. Mickey's always good, and once Turtle realized I wasn't going to leave her there she was fine too. They slept most of the day, lazy bums.
My main job was apparently camera mistress. My Great-Uncle Jiggs had gotten a camera very similar to mine and was still struggling to learn to use it. Aunt Jean has had hers about a year but doesn't use it very often, so she forgot a lot of the stuff I had taught her before. Luckily we all have Canons, so they are very similar in operation. For a while I was running back and forth between them as I heard "Karen, how do I..." from both sides of the room.

Since my camera was my gift, I didn't have much to open - which was perfect. Everything I did get I really liked. I even got a really nice table-top tripod for the camera from Cousin Kristen (after a strongly worded hint from me to her mother). We had a nice time visiting and catching up. One of Kristen's friends from LA was in as well, and stopped by to say hello. She is the #1 DJ in LA, and I can see why. She didn't stop talking long enough to take a breath the entire 30 minutes she was there! However, she was funny and very interesting to listen to, so I can see why she is so good at her job. I'd like to hear her on the air sometime.

Well, enough about me - how was your holiday? Drop me a line and let me know. In the meantime, check out my Kodak Gallery link for pictures...


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Dishwasher Debacle

I have a new dishwasher!! Sort of. It's not really new, and it's not quite working. My wonderful friend Jay works maintenance for some housing units and had a perfectly good dishwasher that was being replaced. (Your tax dollars at work - never repair what can be replaced.) He brought the dishwasher to my house Monday night and partially installed it.

I say partially because the dishwasher I previously had was so old it was "hard-plumbed" into the water line. New dishwashers don't hook up like that and I don't have spare dishwasher parts laying around, so he did what he could and explained what else I needed. He cut out all the old pipes, hooked up the electricity and anchored it to the cabinets. He even changed the door color to white to match the rest of my appliances. A free dishwasher, labor on the install and he hauled away my old one. My old one was solid metal and very, very heavy. Remind me to bake him some cookies.

So last night I ran to Home Depot to pick up the remaining stuff, and convinced a very sweet co-worker of mine, Steffan, to stop by and help me with the rest. Unfortunately, despite Jay's instructions, I bought the wrong size compression fitting. So Steffan hooked up the flexible hose to the dishwasher (no small feat) and balanced it all. He also explained exactly what I need, and showed me how to finish it once I get the right sized piece. I'm not very good at visualizing the abstract, so it really helped when he was able to show me using the wrong sized pieces. Suddenly it made much more sense.

Gotta luv a three day dishwasher installation. :)

Tonight - a candlelight Christmas concert at Powell Symphony Hall performed by the Bach Society.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Canned Happy Hour

I just got home from a Canned Happy Hour at Bar Louie in the Central West End. A friend of mine, Traci (on the left), helped organize the event. We brought a bag of canned goods or personal care products to re-stock the shelves of the Joint Neighborhood Ministry. They run a food pantry on the south side of the city. It was enjoyable. I even volunteered to help run the food pantry one Tuesday night a month.
I took my car in for an oil change today. $400 later... I think I want a new car. These $400 oil changes are killing me! Something about a bad gasket seal thingy leaking and a broken thermostat. My check engine light had come on last night and that's an automatic three figure cost. Maybe I should just take the bus.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's My Party

Yesterday was my 32nd birthday. I had no plans except to hang out and read. My friends thought that was scandelous. At their insistance we headed to a great restaurant in Chesterfield called Mimi's. The food and service was fabulous. Fried dill pickles, artichoke & sundried tomato dip for appetizers and chocolate chip pecan pie for dessert. I was so full after the appetizer (and I wanted dessert, darn it - it was my birthday!) that I didn't eat any of my entree. It's ok - I had 1/2 of it for lunch today. I had ordered a "French Quarter" burger - hamburger with swiss cheese, bacon and avocado. Hey - if you're going to blow your diet you might as well do it right!! I even had a "Hibiscus" to drink. It was champagne mixed with cranberry juice - very tasty.

Thank you to everyone who called on my birthday - it meant so much. Special thanks to Michelle, Eric, Rebecca and Michael for taking me to dinner. You guys are great.

Michael found a fun website www.famousbirthdays.com. You can look up your birthday and see who you share it with. Some of my fellow 12/12ers are Edvard Munch, Connie Frances, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Barker. It was fun to see all the different people who share birthdays.

Michael even brought me a gift. I was very surprised by this since we rarely talk anymore. He gave me a Dutch oven cookbook, a car adaptor for my iPod, and a gun cleaning kit. At least I won't have to worry about anyone calling me normal - h0w many women get gun cleaning kits for their birthday? (I actually wanted it - I'm getting my gun permit for MO) He also threw in some birthday treats for my furbabies.

Have some birthday cake and celebrate with me!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Weekend

It was a fairly quiet weekend, but I enjoyed it. Saturday dad came over to celebrate my birthday and fix my gate (finally!!) We've been working on replacing my gate since July. I'm so happy it works! I can use my garage again!! (You have to drive through the gate to reach the garage.)

For my birthday, dad brought me tons of candles (for my next power outage), a beautiful tablecloth, some turkey picker-upper-things, and a beautiful buffet server. I wasn't really expecting anything since the camera is all I wanted, but I should have known better. He's such a sweet dad. :)

Sunday I spent the day working from home on stuff for the office. I am so far behind I may never catch up. Oh well, I do like the overtime $$. I also hooked up my new printer and my new external back-up for my computer. I found a great deal on a printer (Trudy would be so proud) so I bought it. My other printer isn't working and the part to fix it cost almost as much as the new printer. I got the back-up drive in Dallas on Black Friday. It's a 60 gig drive that's about the size of an iPod. It plugs into the USB and backs up your whole system in minutes. It even has a timer that can be set to do the back-ups automatically.

Sunday night was our usually girls night. It was a small gathering, but we had a great time. Rebecca hosted for the first time. Her place was very nice - especially her three cats. :) They were a riot. The girls even brought me a birthday cake to celebrate my birthday. I have the greatest friends. :)

Tonight - the dentist. Ugh.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Powerless No More

Woohoo!! As of 3:00pm yesterday my power was FINALLY restored. I went home and turned on every light I own, cranked up the heat, did laundry and cleaned. Amazing how dirty the house got after just a week. Of course, I couldn't see the dirt in the dark so it didn't matter. :) I even cooked dinner. No more excuses to go to restaurants every night.

Welcome to 2006 where twice in five months I have been without power for six days. At least it happened at opposite ends of the spectrum - once in the heatwave of July and once in the fridgid cold of December. If you have to live in the dark ages it's nice to get the full spectrum. The people of 100 years ago have my undying respect.

Incredibly there are still 50,000 people without power today. Ameren is on the hot seat with the MO Public Works Commission. "Unprecedented" events don't happen twice in five months. Once is unprecedented, twice is unprepared.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Powerless - Day 6

I have officially tied my length of time without power from July. Today is day 6.

I went to dinner last night at the great little Mexican place at the end of my street, then came home and read Harry Potter for the 80th time. Desperation and boredom are setting in. It's hard to do anything when it's freezing outside and dark at 4:30 in the evening.

The picture shows everything six days later. Still frosty. Notice the orange extension cord? Bless my neighbors - they have been letting me mooch power from them since this started. They have allowed me to stay in my home by keeping my heater, fridge and freezer running. They are great neighbors anyway, but this seals it. :)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Powerless - Day 5

Still no power. I had high hopes that today would be the day, but no luck yet. By tomorrow I will have tied my time without power from July. At least the weather is warming up -it's about 45 here today. That's practically a heat wave!!
This picture was taken Friday morning (12/1). The storm hit overnight and this was the view that greeted me when I awoke. The white stuff on the ground is not snow, it's solid ice.

Maybe I'll work on Christmas cards tonight.