Monthly Archives: May 2008

Slow news week

Rather than trying to write something that doesn’t seem to be working, I will instead send you to the best things I found on the internet today.

Leah on friends nearly made me cry.

Dutch, with a new children’s book idea that made me laugh out loud.

Jive Turkey, on icky girls and the Catholic Church.

Read ’em and weep! Or laugh! Or both!

Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

Friday

Good: We decided to have a tasty beverage and a snack at a local dive bar when I got home from work.
Bad: The weather was crappy, so we almost didn’t go.
Good: We went anyway and sat inside and enjoyed our spicy garlic wings, frings, and beverages.
Bad: I ate wings and frings. BAD!
Good: We picked up Holla and The Lovely Katherine at the airport and drove north for the weekend.
Bad: Their plane was like an hour late because of the storms.
Good: So we had time to go to Target and buy the few things off that registry that we actually wanted (a set of sheets, Apples to Apples, and the AtoA expansion pack) with some wedding gift money.
Bad: We wanted the crockpot we registered for that was on clearance but that store didn’t have any in stock.
Good: Also, I had time to learn that I have two games on my cell phone.
Bad: It runs down the batteries, plus the game I played sucked.
Good: Dan’s parents were still awake when we finally arrived.
Good: They had pizza for us to eat.
Bad: I ate PIZZA and WINGS and FRINGS in the same day. Gross.

Saturday
Good: Sleeping in a room that gets morning sunlight.
Bad: Bad dreams all night long. What is up with that?
Good: I learned how to play Mastermind.
Good: Remembering the videocamera with our ceremony so Dan’s grandma could watch it.
Bad: Realizing that the camera is out of batteries and the cord has completely disappeared, and RadioShack, Target, and BestBuy were all useless. Apparently we have to order it from the manufacturer.
Good: Going out to lunch and having tasty beverages with H & K
Bad: My turkey burger didn’t have the option of a side salad. More fries (though I only ate a few)
Good: Sitting in the sun felt lovely
Bad: Until I overheated
Good: Everyone’s food and beers/cider (me) were terrific
Bad: The bill was not. Eek! No wonder we almost never go out.
Good: Finding a brewery at which to taste beer that was not super packed
Amusing: We were the oldest people at the Fort Collins Brewery by several years for the first 45 minutes or so we were there.
Good: The 3 of them got to taste 8 beers for like $4 a person
Bad: I tried all of them and found all but two thoroughly foul, and those two were just marginally less objectionable.
Good: Everyone had a good time
Bad: Nobody really liked any of the beers.
Good: Dinner with Dan’s whole family (aunt, uncle, cousin/husband, cousin, grandma, parents, bro & sil)
Bad: Last time that will happen in who knows how long.
Good: Played Apples to Apples, had a great time.

Sunday:
Good: Weather was gorgeous
Good: Everyone split up to do different things (golf, time with friend, movies/lunch)
Good: Dinner that evening in the great outdoors
Bad: Wind during dessert
Good: Hot tub
Good: Watching Harry Potter 3 on a huge screen with surround sound in cushy chairs, leading to
Amusing: All 4 of us fell asleep partway through the movie.

Monday:
Bad: Weather was pretty dismal and gloomy. This reflected our moods (at least, Dan’s and mine)
Good: One last breakfast together
Good: More Apples to Apples
Good: Lunch at Old Chicago (I had a lunch-sized veggie lasagne which turned out to be mighty tasty)
Bad: Having to say goodbye to H&K, because we don’t know when we’ll see them again (they ship out for Latvia at the end of June and sometime in July respectively)
Good: Going home, vegging on the couch with popcorn and a movie
Bad: Having a very sad husband

In brief

* I’m going to have to go on the record and say that tornadoes are probably the scariest natural phenomena to me. Luckily, I work in a basement so even if there were a tornado here I probably wouldn’t know about it. A whole bunch of tornados ripped through the northeast part of our fair state today, including some that went right through the area where Dan’s parents live and work (and my coworker lives/her husband works). Luckily, everyone I know up in that area is OK and presumably their dwellings are as well. Give me earthquakes any day; I know what to do in case of earthquake.

* I forgot to mention the best part of Saturday, which was that after we went to see Iron Man, we drove home and as we were driving through the alley to our parking spot we noticed a bicycle sprawled out in front of our car. This is unusual; people don’t just leave their bikes unattended out in the open here because that’s a good way to no longer have a bike. As we swerved around it, I noticed that there was a person lying in between two dumpsters next to the bike. We parked and took a closer look; the person was obviously breathing, but the bike’s handle was all mangled and it looked like he had maybe fallen off his bike and gotten knocked out. I tried to wake him up with my voice and by tapping his foot with mine, but he remained unconscious. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a bum, because what bum would decide sleeping in shorts and a t-shirt on a gravely, broken glass-y spot between two dumpsters while wearing a guitar on his back would be a good idea? So Dan called the police non-emergency line and told them the situation. Two minutes later, an ambulance, a fire truck, and two police cars showed up. I was inside, but Dan wanted to see how it all went down, and he reported that the guy was really unhappy to be awakened by paramedics (apparently, he was kind of rude about it, actually). We never found out if it was a bike accident (paramedic said “too much partying”) or whether the guy needed any sort of medical attention (drunk? high? both?) but it sure made things exciting on our block that Saturday night. And I guess the local emergency services didn’t have anything better to do.

* I have my second physical therapy appointment this afternoon. My leg’s feeling much better, and looking much better, though it’s still a bit painful when I rub it and when doing certain activities. And it gets tired easily. All I’ve done with it is walk a lot and ride the stationary bike, per PT’s orders, so I’m hoping that since I’m walking normally and seem to be doing better that he’ll OK more strenuous activity. It’s amazing how fast I start gaining weight when I’m not working out all the time or at least as much as I usually do. It really kind of sucks.

* This restaurant near my work that was closed for several months just reopened, and aforementioned coworker and I decided to try it out. The menu isn’t especially inspired, and their computers were down so they couldn’t charge our credit cards for our meal. So they told us it was on them. Score! Free lunch! Though I’ll probably go in there next week, cash in hand, and pay for it, because I feel bad. Also, I’ve heard told they serve gigantic slabs of cake. Just what I need when I can’t exercise very much. But they sounded Really Good.

The whole rest of the time, and I drink Satan’s anal leakage

So my cousin Scarlett came for a long visit, the first visitor we’ve ever had from my family other than my mom. It was awesome.

She flew in on Wednesday night and we picked her and her tiny bag up at the airport. Scarlett is both vegetarian and currently on a cleanse (avoiding alcohol and certain foods, eating others) so I’d found out ahead of time what was OK and what wasn’t, and Dan and I planned out several OK-for-the-cleanse dinners. When we got home on Wednesday night it was pretty late, so we had a tasty stir fry with tofu over soba noodles (made from buckwheat).

Thursday I went to work and Scarlett went to the library, working on both her job (she can work from anywhere with an internet connection) and her upcoming paper, due the day after she returned home. That night we hung out and played Fluxx. Friday Dan had his last final, and Scarlett and I both stayed in bed until pretty late, and only ate some toast from homemade bread for breakfast. When Dan got back, we got dressed and headed west to Boulder.

Because it was Friday, we decided to go to Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory because the Factory was in session, and we made it just in time for the beginning of the 1 PM tour. It was very cool to see the factory in production mode (I’ve been on the tour many times, but usually on weekend days when they don’t have the machinery going). It’s a really cool tour, it’s free, you get to see how they do stuff, and your sinuses get all cleared out in the mint room. What’s not to love?

After we spent some time browsing in the gift shop, I realized I really really needed to eat, so we drove over to the middle of town and went to lunch at the Dushanbe Tea House. This is an amazing tea house built in Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan that serves an international menu; something for everyone. We got some hummus with veggies and a tea salad as appetizers, since by that point I was completely starving, which took a really long time to come out. Dan and I shared a freshly-brewed iced chai, and I had an omelet with spinach, brie, carmelized pearl onions and walnuts. Dan had bangers and mash (the bangers made from pheasant). Scarlett had tofu and veggies over soba noodles in a tasty broth. After lunch, we strolled around the Pearl Street Mall, oohing over the gorgeous tulips, checking out the art at Art Mart, the kitchen equipment at Peppercorn, and toys at Into the Wind (three of our favorite stores). Then we went back to Denver and did a little grocery shopping. First, we stopped at Queen Soopers, where we procured some important things like fizzy water and Izze soda and ingredients for a few more meals. Then we went to Wild Oats. Except it isn’t Wild Oats anymore! It’s Whole Foods! When did that happen? Apparently, on Friday.

OK, so at the Tiniest Whole Foods Ever that is 3 blocks from our house, we bought some tasty things and tried some other tasty things (chips made from something that wasn’t potato, but still quite tasty), and Scarlett bought two flavors of kombucha (she’s big into beverages, apparently). She also bought two different non-dairy ice-cream like products, one a Rice Dream and one a Soy Delicious, I believe. Both turned out to be tasty.

Now, I’d forgotten the name of the product that Monkey wrote about in her post, but after I’d had a sip of the cranberry kombucha (I didn’t think it was that bad, but then I like really sour stuff; it reminded me of lambic-style beer) I wondered whether that was the stuff she’d written about. So I looked it up later, and it was. Anyhow, my cousin really likes it, and while I didn’t think it went super well with dinner (spanish tortilla, green beans) I thought it was still OK. I don’t think I’ll be buying it myself anytime soon at $3 a bottle (since I don’t really drink anything except water as I prefer to eat my calories) but I wouldn’t scream if it were made available again someday. Though later, I tried the guava flavor she bought, and I really didn’t like that one, so maybe it was just the fruit flavoring that made the difference.

I’ve already told you about Saturday and how wonderful it was. Saturday night, Scarlett wanted to rest and work on her paper, so Dan and I had a little date night at the movies. We drove to a theater rather than walking like we normally would (since he had just had a nail in his foot) and saw Iron Man. I liked it pretty well, for knowing absolutely nothing about the comic or its storyline. Though I was really disappointed by most of the previews. Do people still find Adam Sandler and Mike Myers to be that funny?

Sunday was another beautiful day, and Dan’s foot felt better, so we walked all over town. We walked to the Botanical Garden and took lots of excellent photographs (Dan started to show me how to use the new camera to take the kinds of shots I was interested in, which, sweet!). We walked over to the apothecary where I got a refill on my tasty tincture and Scarlett talked to the lady about a skin issue she was having and ended up getting some sort of cream that was supposed to help (and by the next day, it looked much better!) Then we walked allllll the way back over to the Tattered Cover. Dan and Scarlett browsed while I sat in the old orchestra pit and rested my leg, which at that point was very, very tired. And that’s when I noticed I’d gotten a sunburn on my shoulders and chest. Stupid, stupid. I hadn’t put on enough sunscreen or worn my hat. Usually I am really careful about such things, but that day was my first real skin-in-sun exposure since last fall and I just didn’t think about it. It still hurts.

So after they were finished, we walked home in the heat. A little while later, Scarlett and I walked to the new Whole Foods to pick up a few things for dinner (curried red lentils with whole wheat parathas). I made guacamole for an appetizer and Julie and Steve came over to have dinner with us. It was a lot of fun, but I felt bad; because of the events the day before, we’d forgotten to go to the liquor store, so we only had one bottle of wine and few other adult beverage choices. I guess it was OK; we don’t HAVE to have a lot of booze to entertain, but I still like people to have options.

Monday I worked a half day (and Scarlett worked on her paper), then we walked home together and Dan got home from his trip to campus and she packed up her stuff. We drove up to Lookout Mountain and visited Buffalo Bill’s grave, then explored the gift shop. Scarlett declared that, despite her cleanse, she had to have some Rowdy Root Beer and Dan and I shared a root beer float. We sat in some bizarre traffic on the way back east (turns out they’d closed our side of the freeway for a few minutes because of some escaped convict?) and then had smooth sailing all the way to the airport. We even got her there a little early. I discovered that sitting in the backseat of our car when it is warmer than 80F outside is Not Fun, because none of the vents are strong enough to get air back there, and I can’t hear a damn thing with the window down. So it was unpleasant. It’s good to know for future reference, too.

All in all, we had a great time. I was so glad to get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Scarlett and we loved having a visitor. Hint to everyone who knows us IRL: Come visit! We have an extra bedroom! With inflatable mattresses! We have cute kitties! We have a lot of tea and a plethora of mugs! And we love houseguests. Especially ones who treat us to an awesome lunch at the Dushanbe Tea House and are able to write it off as a business expense.

Runs in the Family; or, we really know how to show guests a good time

I’m going to write a big ol’ post about Scarlett’s visit, but first I want to tell you all about Saturday.

Saturday dawned sunny and gorgeous and warm, and after a late breakfast we prepared to drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park to show off some more of our fair state to our guest. All morning we watched as our idiot next door neighbor pulled down large chunks of his roof to land in a huge pile right outside our back door. Usually on such a glorious morning, I would have opened the back door to allow the kitties watch the kitty show, but there was debris and dust flying around from the aforementioned roof demolition, so we kept the house closed up. When we were ready to leave, we found that we had to climb over the pile in order to leave the house and get to the car. Which both Scarlett and I did with no problems. And then Dan, who had locked up the house, came after us, and he stepped on a great big old nail.

A great big rusty one. It went through his shoe and into his foot. He made a loud noise, as you do when you step on a great big nail and it goes through your shoe and into your foot.

He sat down on one of the chairs in our backyard, gave the nail a little tug, and realized that he would not be pulling it out himself. I tried the same thing. The loud noise he made then told me that I would not be pulling it out.

We drove to the hospital. Actually, the idiot neighbor drove us to the hospital because neither Scarlett nor I could drive our car. Yes, I know I need to get on that. You don’t need to remind me. The neighbor gave us his phone number and told us to call him when we were finished.

We went in through the regular entrance and borrowed a wheelchair from the information desk. I’d never pushed anyone in a wheelchair before (it’s not easy!) and steered him through the labyrinth of hallways over to the emergency department. It was seriously a rabbit warren. Dan was soon checked out by the triage nurse, and Scarlett stayed in the waiting room while I wheeled Dan back to the minor trauma area. He was given a bed (with a clean sheet, no less!) and then we waited a while.

Only a few minutes later, someone came in to assess the situation. I think it was the doctor. He had a paramedic student with him, who we found out later was from Montana and spending a few days working at Denver Health to experience big city life or something. The doctor told Dan he’d be pulling the nail out (no pain meds! No shoe being cut off his foot!) and instructed the paramedic student to irrigate the wound after he was finished. Then he disappeared, presumably to find some forceps or something.

Now, let me tell you something about the hospital where we ended up. Because Dan has the student health insurance through his school, he knew he’d be covered to some extent, but he didn’t know where his insurance card was because he doesn’t need it to get any sort of treatment on the campus health center. But this was Saturday and we needed a medical facility that would be open. This hospital is the closest one to campus, so we figured it would take his student insurance. This hospital is also notorious as the one where you go when you don’t have any health insurance at all, where you go when you are a drunk man in your fifties and you get into a fight with your roommate and he beats you in the head with a baseball bat and the police are called and they bring you to the emergency room on a stretcher. Yes, that sort of place. When Dan first got into his little curtained minor trauma bed, the guy in the bed next to him was handcuffed to his gurney and being watched over by two people in sheriff’s uniforms. And then a little while later, the aforementioned drunk man was brought in, and we got the story despite never actually seeing him because the police and hospital people were loudly trying to get the story out of him.

Never a dull moment at Large Denver Hospital. The nail was soon removed from Dan’s foot, and the student irrigated the hole, and then he waited and waited and waited for the other stuff that was supposed to happen (a tetanus shot, IV antibiotics, and an xray to make sure there weren’t metal fragments from the nail still in his foot). Eventually I started to feel bad for making Scarlett wait by herself in such a fabulous place, so I went out to the waiting room to spend some time with her. Unfortunately, in our rush to get a Dan in Much Pain to the hospital, she hadn’t thought about bringing her books or computer along, and she could have used the time to work on a paper that was due today. Instead she sat for a few hours surrounded by strangers and watched reruns of Scrubs on the Comedy channel. She went back to say hi to Dan, and came out a few minutes later to say he was being wheeled off to xray and had had the shot already.

I went back to visit after I figured enough time had passed, and he was back from xray and the IV antibiotics were done and he was ready to go. But then we waited for over an hour for someone to come and remove the IV from his hand, slap a bandaid on his foot, and hand him a prescription for CIPRO (which he did not fill, duh, because he didn’t have anthrax). Finally someone came and did these things and he was told he could leave. All in all we were there nearly four hours.

We went out in front where the idiot neighbor had dropped us off and called the number he gave us multiple times to no avail. Eventually we called a cab; normally we would have walked home (it’s only a few miles) but since Dan had just had a nail shoved into and then pulled out of his foot he wasn’t up for it. The idiot neighbor watched us pull up in the cab and asked, “Did you guys call?”

I wanted to strangle him.

We spent the rest of the day doing very little, despite how nice and gorgeous it was outside. Dan sat on the couch with his foot up, Scarlett worked on her paper, and I made sandwiches (we were starving) and read a book.

All in all, it could have been much worse. Our landlords have backed us up and we are going to ask the idiot neighbor to cover any of the hospital bill that Dan’s health insurance won’t pay for. He cleaned up most of the debris the next day. The nail went into a fleshy part of Dan’s foot, not through a toe or a bone. The hospital visit itself could have been far worse. We didn’t see anyone who had been stabbed or shot or was bleeding profusely. So I suppose that’s pretty good. And it was pretty funny that just as I’m getting over my torn calf muscle, Dan starts limping. It’s the same side, too. Maybe we should just call ourselves the Gimp Family.

Next time, I will tell you about all the good parts of Scarlett’s visit.

Herd the Gorilla Bear

I am very excited, because we have a visitor! My cousin Scarlett is visiting from the Bay Area for the next few days. Other than for a day back in February when my mom flew in for my shower (and so did Oldest Friend), we haven’t had any visitors in a really long time, so when Scarlett said she wanted to come hang with us for a while I said GREAT!

Scarlett is the big sister I never had, someone who I consider a blood relation even though we share no drops of blood between us. Her mother was my mother’s best friend in college, who ended up in a relationship with my mom’s half brother (they didn’t actually marry until they’d been together for like 15 years!) Scarlett was the flower girl for my parents’ wedding and she remembers the day I was born. Though I am the oldest of three sisters, in many ways I have always felt like Scarlett was my big sister who only came for visits sometimes. When we were kids, she would sometimes stay at our house for a few days during winter break, usually before Christmas. Because of that, we developed quite a few family holiday traditions – we would make up plays (one called The Death of Abigail Root, which took place in Salem, Mass.) and perform them for our families, we slept under the Christmas tree two nights before Christmas, and we saved up the change we made from selling tickets to our plays to buy treats: special cookies, pistachio nuts.

Sometimes we’d do make-believe type games, like pretending to be babies living in an orphanage in Boston, or pretending to be executives at an advertising agency and making up ad campaigns (including slogans and jingles) for various products and services. Once Scarlett started to tell me a story, all about a princess and a man in black; it wasn’t until I saw the movie a few years later (on video) that I realized she was telling me the story of The Princess Bride. I have fond memories of us doing things together like teaching my little sister, at approximately two years old, the banana boat song (you know, Day-O! Day-O! Daylight come and I want to go home).

Scarlett is nearly four years older than I am, so I always looked up to her. She was the one who introduced me to Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, to the Eurythmics, to Prince’s purple rain. I looked up to her, looked forward for weeks to her visits, and was disconsolate for days after she’d go home. As we both got older and she was in high school, she no longer came for long visits, but we still saw each other at family holiday gatherings. I missed her when she went away to the East Coast to go to college, and was thrilled when she moved to the Bay Area after graduation, living just across town and then a few blocks away from me while I was in school at Berkeley. We hung out pretty frequently until she moved to the city, and even then made time to spend together.

Scarlett has done some amazing things in her adulthood. She’s still every bit as creative as she was when we were kids, and puts her creativity to good use in her writing and other projects. She and a group of her friends read a different book each month and get together to discuss it, also bringing food associated with the culture in which the book takes place (they call it Iron Rainbow, which is Iron Chef meets Reading Rainbow). She saved up for a couple of years, quit her job, and traveled in England, China, and Mongolia for six months. I am so happy to know her as an adult and as a friend, not just my older half step cousin*, subject of my early hero worship, but as someone who I genuinely like, respect, and enjoy spending time with. I am so glad she came to visit and hope she enjoys the Mile High City.

*Dan pointed out to her sometime around the wedding festivities that they were now half step cousins-in-law. Hee!

Literary Monday: Why I’m glad I’m not royal

Picture it: You’re 15, you’ve been betrothed to a prince in another country whom you’ve never met since the age of four, you travel to said country, marry the guy, and he dies five months later.

Suck!

Then, you spend the next SEVEN YEARS waiting to marry his younger brother.

Double suck!

Yet this was the life of Katherine of Aragon, known most famously as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England, but less-well known as Catalina, the Infanta of Spain and the wife of Henry’s older brother, the man who was supposed to become king.

Last night I finished The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. It chronicles the early life of Katherine of Aragon, known as Catalina until after she married Henry VIII. I tried reading one of Gregory’s other books (The Virgin’s Lover, about the early reign of Elizabeth I) but got bogged down and bored. This one, however, was not at all boring. We learn about what it was like to grow up fighting the Moors, with a warrior queen for a mother, what it was like to know that you would marry young, grow old, and die the queen of another country, possibly never seeing your family or country again. What it was like to be the widow of a young prince and to be forced to stay in a strange country for years while your parents and deceased husband’s parents decided what should be done with you, a pawn in a political game far more important than your happiness or well-being. To tell a great lie and never admit the truth, regardless of how you feel about it, to marry your husband’s brother and attempt to mold him into a good ruler. To have stillbirths and miscarriages and dead babies, to have only one surviving child, to never have a physician allowed to lay hands on you during illness or pregnancy because you are untouchable as a queen.

Man. All I gotta say is, I’m glad I live in a time where commoners live decent lives and am also glad I’m not royal, fated to marry for political reasons rather than love. I’ve always been interested in the lives of the Tudors, particularly Elizabeth I, but never thought much about Henry VIII’s first wife, Mary’s mother, until I picked this book up. English history would have been very different had Henry’s brother Arthur lived, had Katherine been carrying a child when he died, had any of the children she had with Henry be male and live past infancy. There might never have been a Queen Elizabeth of England, an Elizabethan Era, and perhaps never have been a Church of England. Think of how different western culture might have been, all because of the death of a 15-year-old prince.