Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

Category: Random (page 1 of 8)

The Mayans Were Right After All….

The apocalypse is about to start, because I’m updating the blog twice IN THE SAME WEEK.  It’s madness out there, people.

I’m posting for two reasons, both of which are quite trivial.  Yay!  The first is that I feel the need to share that I am obsessively checking our Hulu queue to see when they post the latest episode of our Thursday night show.  I am doing this because last week said show ended on a cliffhanger (which it has never actually done before) and I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.  Of course, I didn’t get around to watching last week’s episode, or the week before that’s, until yesterday, which means my need to know what happens is fresh and immediate.  GAH!

Part of me wonders why we abandoned our dish subscription, since it’s clearly extremely inconvenient at times like this.  And then the part of my brain that remembered to put on its logic pants today says, “Well, for one thing, there was no way to get a permanent signal through the neighbor’s trees. And for another, $80 a month for TV service that you usually mostly recorded things to watch days or weeks later seemed pretty stupid when you could pay $8 a month to watch things days or weeks later, especially when all but one of the shows you follow are included in the $8 a month package, and that show can be purchased episode-by-episode if necessary and still maintain a significant savings.  That’s why you abandoned your dish subscription.”  And then the part of my brain without the logic pants says, “Oh, right!” and checks the Hulu queue again.

It’s that sort of day.

The second trivial item? Yesterday’s life sewing lesson:  If a project calls for sew-on Velcro (ahem, “hook-and-loop closure”), and despite your best efforts you come home with stick-on Velcro because the packaging is badly labelled, do not (I repeat, DO NOT) decide to stick the Velcro on and then sew around the edge to secure it more permanently.  The adhesive will gook up the needle, your thread will stick to itself in interesting ways you have never seen before, and you will feel that you came dangerously close to breaking the $900 sewing machine that your friend lent you while she’s out of town because yours is acting stupid and you need to finish this project, and that only the grace of God saved you from doing anything but needing a new needle.

On the up side, yesterday I finished making my own diaper changing pad, diaper-essentials clutch (for diapers, wipes, changing pad, etc., which will go in and out of the diaper bag proper depending on our needs) and *would have* completed a matching car seat canopy if not for the adhesive-Velcro fiasco.  Having visited Michael’s this morning to acquire the proper sew-on product, I will finish the latter today, and then perhaps I will post photos.  Yes, I have invested more time on making these myself and money on materials than I really had to spend if I wanted to grab something from a store.  But it’s really fun to know that I made these things with fabrics and patterns I picked for our family, and it’s satisfying to have accomplished these things in the midst of a lot of other busy-ness that normally would be contributing to my winter depressive slump, but is wonderfully counteracted by having finished (!) these cheery projects for my baby that are not only pretty but will be functional for us for a very long time.  Funny what the human brain can do, eh?

Oh, and for those who can’t stand that I didn’t name the TV show in question above, it’s the new “Beauty and the Beast” that just started this fall on CW.  I’m not saying it’s the best show evar in teh werld (what is, these days?), but it is entertaining and we like watching it so far, which is really the requirement.

That’ll be all, because the laundry needs to get done and Shiloh is really bad at sorting loads, so I have to deal with it.  Ciao!


I Broked It–But Then I Fixed It!

It’s possible that I just took the doorknob off the front storm door… less than two hours before the kids will be arriving en masse for Bible study. Oops. Good thing I’m smart and rigged a temporary solution.

(Yes, the dog is definitely wondering what in the world I am doing.)


Adventures in Parking

I got a parking ticket today.

It was tucked into the driver door of the 4Runner when I came out of the coffee shop, having spent a fruitful hour and a half sipping at a truly lovely iced cold-pressed-coffee with cream and sugar and all sorts of loveliness while I worked on organizing some of the genealogical research I’ve been perpetrating recently. But more on the genealogy later.

At any rate, I found the envelope containing my parking ticket (Anything that comes in a yellow envelope is never good, just like nothing written on a pink slip of paper is ever good) and I frowned, because I had checked thoroughly to be sure that my chosen parking spot was not included in any of the nearby signage indicating time limits for legal parking or handicapped requirements and suchlike.

So I pulled the little slip of paper from its ominous yellow envelope to see that I’d been cited for an expired license plate. Le sigh.

You see, the car’s registration is not, in fact, expired. It’s good all the way through December of this year. The trouble is that when we got the new stickers to put on the car, it was in the middle of a snowstorm, so we decided to wait until the entire world wasn’t covered in wet to try to stick something to our car. The stickers went INTO the car so that we would a) not forget to apply them and b) know where they were.

And now, four months later, the stickers are still not on the plates. Rather alarmingly, a cursory search of the car’s interior did not produce the stickers, although it did lead to the discovery that the little bottle of lotion we keep in the car has sprung a leak. I managed to hold it over the cup holders as it squirted orange-ginger goodness in distressing volume from its overheated (or over-pressurized? or simply faulty?) bottle. I also discovered that the napkins we usually keep in the center console have mysteriously disappeared, leaving me to try to mop up the lotion with a paper pastry bag that’s been in the passenger footwell for at least two months. It did not go well.

Giving up the Search for the Stickers, I returned my attention to the ticket. The municipality’s headquarters was located about two blocks from my parking spot (note to self: don’t park near a city building with expired tags, even if they’re not really expired) so I decided to go tell them that my vehicle is, in fact, legal to drive–or park!–and that I’d appreciate not having to pay the $50 ticket.

I tried to go in the wrong door to reach the Violations Bureau (Could they name it something that sounds worse? I don’t think so…), but it’s not my fault that they printed the office hours on the “Exit Only” door. And then my shoes kept setting off the metal detector from three feet away. This caused the lone security guard to wand me to be sure I wasn’t packing heat, even though I took my shoe off and waved it at the detector in proof that it was my shoes. But at least he was nice about it.

Upon reaching the appropriate window, I was informed that I would have to present a copy of my current registration to be photocopied and sent to Someone Or Other with my request that the ticket be discarded. Silly me had thought they would be able to pull up my DMV records on their little computers, but no. That would have made sense. So I trekked out past Mr. Security Guard, down two flights of stairs, two blocks back to my car, and wrestled the registration out of the glove box, which decided that its contents were suddenly so confidential that even I with my key could not be allowed access to the owners’ manuals and random pair of eyeglasses we found in the car about a year ago and have never gotten rid of.

Having vanquished the glove box, I reminded myself that it was a lovely day and I needed a bit of exercise, so I should not be disgruntled about the extra walking as I returned to the Violations Bureau.

Mr. Security Guard let me pass the second time without a wanding, which was lovely of him, and I presented my registration to be copied, took my duplicates of the petition to discard the ticket from the rather sour-faced Violations Bureau Lady (and wouldn’t you be sour-faced if you had to tell people you worked at the Violations Bureau?) and told Mr. Security Guard that with any luck I would NOT be seeing him again soon.

Now we just need to find the stickers, and probably I should clean the lotion out of the cup holders before tomorrow, or it will turn into a greasy mess that no one will ever want to deal with.

Not that I want to deal with it now, but there’s no sense in letting things escalate. On the other hand, it looks like it’s about to rain, and I don’t want to get wet. Probably the lotion clean-up can wait.


Random Thought

I was listening to the radio while driving today, and “Bye Bye” by JoDee Messina (sp?) came on–it’s one of those songs I love to sing along to, which makes it rather remarkable that I’ve never noticed that the line is “Got my left foot down on my accelerator…”

Because I don’t know about you, but I’ve never, ever stepped on the accelerator with my left foot. The clutch pedal? Yes. Accelerator? That’s my right foot, thanks.

Maybe she’s in Britain? Singing American country songs? The world may never know.


My Stupid Brain Won’t Let Me Sleep Until I Type This

Sometimes, when I go to bed, my brain keeps trying to think of things I should take care of. Some nights, I just tell it to shut up, and it does, and I go to sleep, and if it’s important I’ll remember it in the morning.

Tonight is not one of those nights. I have been trying to tell my brain to shut up for quite some time, and it is not obeying my demands. I got up and wrote down things I need to take care of tomorrow, including taking a payment to the dentists’ office (quicker to drop it off than mail it) and exchanging the jeans I wore once before the seams started pulling in a rather unfortunate location (no, I did not get the wrong size; there seems to be a fluke in manufacture).

Not even my clever going-to-sleep trick is working. I would tell you about said clever trick, but that’s beside the point and rather confusing to explain at any rate.

The point is that I have decided that I have a goal for August.

I’m sorry, but that’s all I can tell you. I have a goal, and I will complete it before the month of August ends. It’s demanding. If it wasn’t, I could tell you more about it. But this way, I retain the element of surprise AND the possibility of evading the acknowledgement of a crushing defeat if I don’t quite reach it. Which won’t happen, but it doesn’t do to be unprepared.

There will be smaller goals associated with this large, demanding, quite-honestly-rather-frightening-and-makes-me-want-to-cower-in-a-hole-rather-than-think-about-it goal, and those I will very likely talk about and, (*gasp!*) even ask for some accountability on, but the end goal? The thing I will announce that I have accomplished by September First in the Year of Our Lord’s Grace 2010?

That will remain a secret.

And now, I bid you all good night.


Deep Question

Why is it that, when I’ve set a timer to remind me to do something (anything from taking dinner out of the oven to checking the laundry), I have this crazy ESP and I check how much time I have left when there’s less than a minute on the timer, but if I haven’t set the timer, there’s no way I ever remember to go back to something?


I don’t get it. I’m not saying I’m going to change my system, because obviously it works, but it doesn’t make sense.


Flattered, But Baffled

I have a confession to make. I check this blog’s stats almost as often as a published author checks their Amazon ranking. I like numbers, I like seeing trends, and I really like bar graphs that make everything super-easy to see. And the last few days? I have had some record-breaking individual visitor stats–and I really don’t know why.

Are new Dyson vacuum cleaners and massive amount of popcorn so interesting? I really don’t know! But I’m flattered, and I hope I can keep doing whatever it is that’s drawing people in. Because, you know, it’s all about the blog stats. They are like internet popularity crack.

In random news, I’m preaching again this Sunday (Palm Sunday! It’s late on Thursday night and I haven’t actually written anything yet! Panic!) and I got my last two packages today!

This translates more or less to me squeeing with glee over all my new kitchen gadgets, and it also means that everyone who ordered things from my recent Pampered Chef party will be getting those things delivered soon–most likely on Sunday, since I actually think I’ll see everyone by then. Hmmmmm.

Tomorrow? Writing a sermon, lot of laundry, washing the new kitchen gadgets (and the kitchen they now belong to), and maybe a few other semi-top-secret things. Which mostly means I’m too lazy to go into details here, not that anything all that exciting is happening.

Also? I have been thoroughly enjoying Assassin’s Creed 2, and I sincerely hope to kill more people tomorrow. And loot more treasure chests. Really, people are begging to be robbed when they put chests full of money out in the garden or on their completely unguarded balconies. But hey, it works for me!

With any luck, I will still be sane by Sunday afternoon–which would be good, since Matt and I get to tell our life stories at small group that night.

Time for bed! Sweet dreams, all.


On The Benefits of Ordering Things

I didn’t particularly think about it a few days ago when I posted last, but last week I managed to spend money ordering several things.

You might ask, “What did you order, Betsy? Clothes?”

To which I would laugh and laugh and laugh, because I learned a long time ago that mail-ordered clothing rarely fits me well. I have rather freakishly long limbs, you see, at least compared to my other relevant dimensions, so it’s rather hit-and-miss… with more misses than hits.

So, if not clothes, then what? Okay, so it’s not much of a mystery to those of you who follow my twitter feed or are my facebook friends. Work with me, people!

At any rate, what does someone like me order online and then follow the tracking info incessantly??

1) A vacuum cleaner! Huzzah! Yes, I am excited about a household cleaning device. It has SUCTION, oh yes it does. It pulled dirt from our “clean” carpet–a lot of dirt. And it empties about a hundred times easier than our old one. Matt was walking around in his bare feet after I did the living room today and he said the floor actually felt cleaner under his toes. And he’s right! I’m not even making it up! It’s also accented with super-electric blue, which nobody can be sad about.

Yes indeed, we have a Dyson DC17 “Asthma and Allergy” model, which is apparently just the same as the “Animal” model except you get different attachments in the package and it costs $50 less. No, we didn’t pay the extra $150 for the roller-ball model. Yeah, I’m a little sad, too, but there are better places to spend that money. But really. You should come to my house and put in some time on this vacuum. It’s wonderful.

With such excitement to start out, what else could I possibly have ordered? What can stand up to the Dyson DC-17???

This Christmas one of the gifts I gave Matt was a multi-pack of gourmet popcorns. Three different varieties. One of them in particular was so good that we realized we’d be perfectly happy eating it all the time instead of the popcorn we get from the grocery store–and having looked it up on their website, we realized it wasn’t really more expensive than said generic kernels. We waffled a bit about the very real possibility that we are becoming popcorn snobs, but then we caved to the snobbery and decided to order.

Then life exploded and we forgot. Until last week. When we were out of popcorn. Well, out of good popcorn. So I hopped online to order more of our favorite variety. Matt, upon learning that the company had a number of types of popcorn that we hadn’t tried yet, asked me to see if there was a variety pack of some kind to try a few more. And since we already knew that we loved the one type, I also ordered the biggest container they offer of it–after all, if we’re mail ordering, I’d rather do it less often.

It wasn’t until I’d all but placed the order (deciding shipping options) that I realized that ordering 31 pounds of popcorn kernels might have been a bit much, but I wasn’t about to back down then!

So, along with the vacuum cleaner, our popcorn arrived today. What does 31 pounds of popcorn look like, you ask? Like this!

And just in case you’re shaky on how much that is, here’s a standard paperback (and one you all should read, fwiw) to give you perspective. Also, the lid of the 15lb. tub is open because that is a stinking LOT of popcorn.

So that’s what came on the UPS truck today. Later this week I’ll get three boxes from FedEx full of kitchen gadgets and gizmos for me and my friends. Maybe you’ll get to see pictures of those, too!

So there you have it. This week in the Whitt house: packages galore.


How My Dog Got Me A Paid Job For A Day

Once upon a time, there was a young couple who lived in Colorado. They adopted a puppy, and named her Shiloh, and the couple and their puppy often played in a big undeveloped field next to their apartment complex. There Shiloh discovered one of the Great Joys of Doggy Life: chasing geese. Actually, first she discovered the joys of eating goose poo, and her humans had to put a stop to that, but THEN Shiloh discovered the geese, and infinite satisfaction of making a whole flock of them take flight.

Alas, in time, the family moved away from the apartment and the big field full of geese to chase. Shiloh was sad about this lack in her life, but there were other good things going for the new apartment, like being able to see out the windows, so it pretty much evened out. And, on special occasions, Shiloh got to visit places where there were geese to chase. It was a good life.

(Okay, the third person narration is beginning to take its toll, so TA-DAA! We switch!)

A few weeks ago, I brought Shiloh to the seminary campus when I picked up Matt from class. With only one car, we often drop off and pick up, and sometimes it’s really easy to load Shiloh into the car and give her a bit of time to explore a less-familiar place, interact with a variety of people, go running to greet Matt when he comes out of the building, and sometimes, when there aren’t lots of people outside, I can let her off the leash to chase the geese while we wait for class to end.

I generally wait until there aren’t many people around for two reasons:

First, Shiloh can be very, very friendly and excited when she’s meeting new people–when she’s off the leash, this usually involves a very fast incoming approach. This often causes some concern because people aren’t sure whether she’ll jump on them (she won’t) and, regardless, she’s a pretty good-sized dog. People who aren’t comfortable around dogs are usually pretty freaked out by 60 pounds of canine barreling gleefully in their direction. Until we get that under a bit more control, I’m generally very aware of her exuberant tendencies.

Second, technically speaking the campus isn’t really geared toward dogs. There’s an outdoor patio where people sometimes bring smaller dogs on sunny days, but none of the buildings allow non-service animals and none of the on-campus housing allows pets. This is entirely understandable–many people who have dogs overestimate their dog’s good behavior (and lack of mess-making), or assume others will welcome an animal simply because the owner welcomes it. (See above for my awareness that not all people like dogs or are comfortable around them.) Granted, there’s absolutely nothing that even slightly indicates that dogs aren’t allowed on campus–many people love to see Shiloh and many students come play with her for a while, mentioning that they miss their own family dogs–but I still feel just a little bit like I should be extra-well-behaved when I bring Shiloh, especially when any of the seminary higher-ups are around.

At any rate, a few weeks ago I had Shiloh on campus. It was chilly, early evening, but the sun hadn’t set yet so in the light it was warmer. I know the Seminary grounds staff has been complaining about the geese, which are a significant problem. They don’t really migrate any more around here, so these geese have been in the campus area for several years, at least. The deterrents that the seminary uses don’t really work any more, but using new ones will require quite a bit of money invested, and that’s not really an option in this economic climate. Anyway, there weren’t many people around, but there were some geese, so I let Shiloh off the leash and told her to go get them.

With great joy, she sprinted toward the geese, making sure they all took off and were going to stay airborne, and then came back to me, immensely pleased with herself. I spotted another cluster of geese around the corner of a building, so we went and chased them off, too, then returned to the main courtyard area.

Who should be coming across the quad than the Head of Building and Grounds! I waved, since we know each other from the time I was employed there, and he headed toward me.

“Is that your dog?”

“Yep, she is.” Please, don’t be mad at me for letting her run around off-leash.

“I’d like to buy her.” He laughs, so I know he’s not really serious. “What I wouldn’t give for a couple of dogs on campus, trained to run those geese off. But we can’t, because of liability, long-term.”

I volunteered that Shiloh will be glad to help whenever she’s on campus, and Tom made it clear that we’re welcome any time. Yay!

Fast forward to Tuesday. Matt and I were flying back from New York, and when I turned on my phone after our last flight I had a voicemail waiting–it was Tom, asking me to give him a call.

Turns out the school is hosting a big dinner the night before the inauguration ceremony for the new president (who started back in July), and they want the campus to be as clean as possible. Shiloh and I have been contracted to arrive on campus at 9am and stay until a little after 5pm, and keep the geese out of the main areas of campus so the sidewalks will stay clean for the fancy visitors.

I think this is hilarious, but I’m glad to be able to help. Tom asked me to set an amount I’d like to be paid and he’ll get it approved. I have no idea what to ask for. If it’s a warm day, I intend to sit and read or write outside for most of the day, with occasional circuits to be sure the geese don’t get any crazy ideas into their heads about sneaking back. If it’s cold, it’ll be quite a bit more tedious.

But, for a while at least, Shiloh will be the Official Goose Chaser of Denver Seminary.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.


The Amazing Exploding Blog Post!

Those of you who are Facebook and/or Twitter friends already know about our flaming oven, but I thought it was worth more than a couple of 160-character update.

Once upon a time (read: Friday evening) a we were at home after a busy day of doing our various busy things. In fact, we were only home for a little while, as Matt was shortly expected at a friend’s house for poker night and I was expecting friends (mostly wives of those at poker) to arrive for a girls’ night in. He planned to eat while playing poker; I fell back on a perennial staple, chickie pa’ pah (read: chicken pot pie). I pre-heated the baking pan for a nice crispy bottom crust, wrapped tin foil around the edge to prevent burned edges, and set my handy-dandy kitchen timer for the requisite baking time.

About five minutes before the timer was supposed to go off, as I was reading on the couch, I heard a faint “pop pop pop-pop” from the kitchen. It sounded a lot like microwave popcorn, but quieter. Maybe something *else* exploding in the microwave?

So I asked, “Matt, are you cooking something in the microwave?” My tone was rather skeptical because, as you may remember, Matt was expecting to eat later and he’d already had a snack.

“No, but you have something in the oven,” he said, as if I were a rather slow four-year-old who would forget that my supper was cooking even though my stomach was trying to eat itself at that point. (I love you, sweetie.) I extremely reluctantly marked my spot in the book, got out from under my cozy blanket on the couch, and went to check on my pot pie, just in case something very odd had happened and it was boiling over.

I feel it necessary to mention that never in all my years of cooking Marie Callender’s most excellent individual chicken pot pies has one of them bubbled over, much less gotten past my tin foil rim AND the baking sheet to make ploppy sizzles on the oven floor that will bake on and set the fire alarm off in a week or so. But I stopped reading and went to check on it Just In Case, secretly hoping the popping noise (which had been going steadily for several minutes since I’d noticed it) was the result of something silly Matt had done and forgotten about. Because I did not want my pot pie to be ruined. I was hungry.

A quick glance through the oven window showed nothing amiss with the pot pit, but a bit of extra brightness down in the front corner of the oven. Maybe something else ran over and now caught fire?

I opened the oven door, and blinked several times.

Me: Um… Matt? The oven is on fire.

Matt (in the living room, unconcerned): That’s not good.

Me: No. The oven is on fire. The metal is flaming.

Matt scurried to my aid with satisfying speed, and by the time he got there I had turned off the oven and was staring in consternation at the heating element, which had actually broken. One end was black (and presumably cool, though we didn’t touch it) and the other end was glowing angry red and shooting off sparks at the end. And flaming, of course. Just a bit at the end, not the whole thing. Maybe a half-inch of the metal was actually flaming, and it wasn’t particularly a huge flame. Maybe an inch tall. But it was in our electric oven. In case you have never used an electric stove before, flames are really quite bad.

Anyway, the oven knob was now turned to “off”, which I expected to mean that the red-hot-ness and the yellow flaming-ness and the throwing off sparks-ness would dissipate. But they didn’t. There was more redness and a bit more flaming, though it did stop sparking as the white-hot area immediately inside the flame began to travel slowly away from the broken end and toward the power source. It was like a very slow magnesium burn.

It was also very alarming.

Matt tossed a cup of cold water on the heating element to cool it down.

Safety note: in retrospect this was a STUPID STUPID idea, but we really thought no power was running through it. Actually, we weren’t really thinking at all. As I mentioned, we were rather alarmed. I am very glad I was not there alone. Regardless, please don’t follow our example. The water did nothing anyway, except run down into all my cake pans in the bottom drawer and then onto the floor in a huge rusty puddle that I had to clean up later.

So the water (STUPID IDEA!) was ineffective, and the flame was still burning its way along the heating element and Matt realized this was all going to go south very fast and he started pulling the stove out from its little nook in the counter so I could reach back and unplug the whole thing.

Everything calmed down right away, and I called my Mommy to tell her we didn’t burn the down the building. Matt sent the landlord an email rather apologetically informing him that we need a new stove (which is supposed to be delivered sometime on Wednesday), and we proceeded with our evening as planned.

For those who are interested, my chicken pot pie was not fully cooked (evidence that perhaps there had been issues for some time before I noticed them) and when I put it in the toaster oven to finish cooking I was completely mistaken in my estimate of how much time it needed–and it ended up charred and mostly inedible anyway. I had ice cream, popcorn, and peanut m&ms for dinner.

Don’t judge me. My oven tried to blow up.

In other news, this week will effectively mark the end of my day job. It hasn’t been the job I signed on for since the middle of June or so, and it’s an entirely amicable parting–in fact, I suggested that it was time for them to stop employing me, given various circumstances. So we will have a test period of me being a Real Writer, complete with external accountability checkpoints because I am like a greased weasel if I try to keep myself on track. And if I, you know, finish things and send them out and sell them, I have permission not to get another day job in the foreseeable future. Woohoo!

Also, I am close to insanely jealous of Neil Gaiman’s library. Close.

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