Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Theme of This Trip

Every trip I take seems to end up with its own theme.  Like that one time I felt like I stepped in Taxi Repellent for the whole trip.  I have just discovered the theme of this trip.

But first -- the one thing I learned about Ottawa that is not in any of the tourist materials I've read:  Ottawa is the capital of Canada.  This part you know.  The part they keep secret is that every eighth grader in the entire Province of Ontario is required -- as part of the curriculum -- to come on a trip to Ottawa.  And they all come in May and June.  This may have explained the difficulty I had booking a room in this town.  I'm in the Holiday Inn tonight and -- tomorrow -- I'm meeting up with my friend Mary and we're moving to a snootier place.  (This was, in fact, planned from the start.)  I'm hoping the snootier place will be student-free.  When I got to my room at the Holiday Inn, there were kids screaming up and down the hallway.  I asked the lady at the desk if they had any "quieter" floors.  She laughed and said the kids are everywhere.  She also said that if I have any problems to report them at once and she'll handle it.  I think the kids have been warned (either that or they're still out) because it is quiet as a graveyard right now.

Ah, ok, so, theme of the trip:  Cancellations.

We began with Martin Short cancelling his show today because he got sick.

Got on the train.  I'd got a First Class ticket largely because a meal is involved.  By the time they got to me (back of the compartment), they were already out of two of the entrees.  (Ended up picking at some random pasta dish.)

I arrived in Ottawa, called the rafting place and found out that, yes, my rafting trip tomorrow is cancelled.

I decided to go for an evening stroll around the city (n.b. yes, they have gun control in Canada) and came upon a Ghost Walks booth.  They had a walk scheduled to depart at 9:00.  What luck!  It was 8:51!  Fifteen minutes later and I was the only one standing at the booth.  They cancelled the 9:00 walk.

Strolling back to the hotel, I came upon a quaint little restaurant -- a prime rib place in an old historic house.  Went in.  (Expected them to not be serving dinner anymore, but they were.)  Sat down.  Ordered prime rib.  Fries on the side.  Five minutes later the waiter comes back, terribly apologetic.  They're out of fries.  Of course they are.

Toronto to Ottawa

OK, the show I'm seeing today is a one-man show starring Martin Short.  (This will be important later in the story.)

Before checking out of the hotel, I ask the concierge if there's any way to store my bags at the train station before my train.  She confirms that there is not.  After discussing it with her, it seems that the best plan is to leave my bags at the hotel; take a subway to the show; take a taxi back to the hotel from the show; and haul my bags to the train station.

OK.  I check out of the hotel, leaving my bags with the bellman.  I give him $5.  I walk on over to the train station (which is also the subway station).  I turn my internet ticket into a ticket ticket to save time.  I ask the guy, "There's no way to store my bags before the train, right?"  He says, "Yes, you can store them for $2.50 a bag."  I blink at him a few times.  I go over to the baggage guy and confirm that, yes, I can store my bags before my train.  I walk back to the hotel.  I reclaim the bags I just gave to the guy 15 minutes and five bucks ago.  I trudge back to the train station carrying the bags.  (I take the Skyway -- an elevated path.  It's a smoother surface than the sidewalk, so the bags will carry better, but it is enclosed and not air conditioned.)  I return to the baggage counter and give HIM $5 to store the bags.

I am now sweating like a pig.  No, I AM a pig.  I'm perspiring like crazy and tripping over my pants (as I forgot to pack a belt).  I head off to the subway and stop at a leather goods shop on the way (small mall-like place underground at the subway entrance).  Now I have a belt.  Hoorah!  I aim toward the subway train.

I get on the train and off at my stop without incident.  The show starts in 50 minutes.  I walk by the theatre to make sure I know where it is, and then look around for lunch.  All I see is a Burger King.  Any port in a storm, right?  (Oooh, grilled chicken sandwich -- less than 7 grams of fat -- yay me.)  I have another fifteen minutes before the show starts, so I run across the street to a mall and poke around the "roots" store.  (Remember when roots clothes were all the rage after they designed those cute Olympic uniforms?)  Not much there, but now I can check "been to roots store" off the list.  I now go across the street to the theatre, ticket in hand.

Where I learn that Martin Short is sick and cancelled the show.  Expletive.  Expletive.  Expletive.  How am I going to kill three hours in Toronto?

I know!  Earlier train!  It's 1:54.  I think there's a train at 2:30.  If I get on the subway right away, I can make the 2:30.  I run like hell to the subway station (I'm on the wrong side, so must go down the stairs and back up the other stairs).  I'm already (re-)drenched in sweat when I hit the platform.  Back to Union Station.  Run over from the Subway part to the Train part (past the leather store).  Hit the counter at 2:10.  "Can I exchange my ticket for the 2:30 train?"  "You mean the 3:30 train?"  I look at the board.  Right.  3:30.  Yeah, that's the one.  Good thing I ran here.

So, despite all plans to be running like hell to catch the 5:30 train after the show, I found myself cooling my heels for an hour in the train station lounge.  Now I'm heading to Ottawa, and writing this entry through the magic of Wireless Internet On The Train.  (Oooo.)

Toronto, Eh?

Y'know that if you access your journal from Canada, you get Canadian banner ads?  No kidding.

A good part of yesterday was spent preparing for today.  First, the plan:  I plan to go rafting in Ottawa on Thursday.  So, today, I'm supposed to catch a train to Ottawa at around 5:30.  I'm going to the theatre at 2:30, which means things are going to be a little close.  I went by the train station yesterday morning to make sure I can leave my bags there before I go to the theatre.  I can't.  They have no luggage storage.  Thank you 9/11 terrorists.

I then walk over to the subway station and try to figure my way around the subway system.  It isn't as clearly marked as subway systems in some other cities (London, San Francisco, Washington, ... heck, even L.A.), but workable.  It is just impossible to find your way without looking like you don't know where you're going.  (I prefer subway systems that are so clearly marked, you can pretend you know what's going on.)

I take a streetcar (it departs from the subway station) out to the harbor, to investigate harbor cruises.  I have missed the Tall Ship cruise by a few days (damn) -- they're weekends only until next week.  But I could take a 45 minute narrated cruise around the harbor at pretty much any time.  Dude in the booth also points me toward the nearest streetcar stop (which isn't the one I got off at) so I can get back to the train station and my hotel.

Back at the ranch, I head over to the CN Tower for lunch.  Big tower.  Tallest building in the world, they say.  (Taller than Taipei 101, which we visited back in November.  They also put Sears Tower at taller than Taipei 101, which I hadn't thought Taipei 101 said.  Whatever.)  Damn thing is tall.  I had a reservation at the revolving restaurant ("highest restaurant in the world") which, among other things, got me in the priority line for the elevator, so I got right on up that thing.  (Security was weird -- they didn't paw through my stuff, they just had me stand in a little alcove and blew bursts of cold air at me -- apparently to discover particles of explosives.  Very high tech.)  Got up to the restaurant and had a lovely meal (my cola had a CN Tower-shaped stirrer in it; my dessert was a "chocolate tower with fresh seasonal fruits").  Afterward, I went down a level to the observation level -- they let you observe from outside, although there's a lot of wire safety netting around.  Back inside, they have a section of glass floor ("world's highest glass floor") that you can stand on and look straight down. I gave it a shot, and thereby gave anyone on the ground (with binoculars) an opportunity to look up my skirt.  :)

At the CN Tower, I also took a moment to call the rafting company in Ottawa.  They were expecting a thunderstorm on Thursday, so I wanted to know if the rafting was still on.  They said they'd go in the storm, but, um, nobody else had signed up for Thursday.  I can't go alone.  Could I call back tomorrow to see if anyone else had called yet?  I could.  I spend the rest of the afternoon calculating how much money it would cost me to stay in Toronto an extra day and go up to Ottawa Thursday rather than Wednesday.  It would save me the tight connection after the theatre -- but cost about $300.

Went back out to the harbor for a little harbor cruise, which was really pleasant.  Nice to get a little wind off the water (it was over 90 degrees outside) and it was just beautiful sailing around the Toronto Islands.  With nice photo ops of the city.  I didn't bring a camera, but took a few shots with the camera in my cell phone -- if I ever figure out how to email them to myself, I'll stick 'em in the journal.

Came back, and went off to "Lord of the Rings -- the Musical."  I know.  But when you take two things I like so much ("Lord of the Rings" and musicals) and put them together in a city I happen to be in -- well, that's a train wreck I just have to see.  Am happy to report it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared.  This isn't to say it was good, mind you.  All the hobbity folk songs weren't bad, and I could even stomach all the New Age songs the Elves sang, but, um, Aragorn just shouldn't sing.  That's wrong on so many levels.  You also can't compress the whole story into 3 1/2 hours without seriously compromising the narrative.  Hell, Peter Jackson put it all into, what? 10 or 11 hours of movie, and even he took flak for leaving stuff out.  But this was so compressed, it was funny.  Gimli:  I hate elves.  Next scene:  Wow, Galadriel is pretty.  I nearly got whiplash.

Came back to the hotel (stopped at Subway on the way for some dinner -- am extremely proud of myself that it was Subway rather than McDonald's), and went to bed.  Walking back, a father with a little daughter stopped me and asked if I know how to get to Union Station.  I responded, "Hey!  Wait!  That's one I know!" and gave them directions.  :)

This morning, I was up at 9 to call the rafting people.  They still don't have anyone else rafting with me on Thursday, but now the thunderstorm has moved from Thursday to Wednesday, so I'd really like to raft on Thursday.  Can I call back at 2:00 today?  I can.

This means I've got to pack everything up and check out of the hotel as planned -- hoping to make my tight connection to Ottawa -- and also hoping more people choose to raft on Thursday.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Red Sox Game?

So.  The other night, my sister and her husband went to a Red Sox game.  Today, I went to a Red Sox game.

In Toronto.

See... I was coming to Toronto after to wedding (I've got a little Canadian journey here, as long as I was on the East Coast anyway), and I didn't have anything to do tonight.  And my brother-in-law mentioned that the Red Sox were coming up here, which clearly meant that the Blue Jays were playing tonight.  And I didn't really have any plans for tonight in Toronto.

The one catch was that the game started at 7:07 and my flight was scheduled to get in at 5:45.  So it all depended on how long it would take me to get to my hotel from the airport, and to the stadium from my hotel.  For this, I needed to know where the heck the Sky Dome was (they call it "Rogers Centre" now -- damn corporate sponsors.)  Now, I have to make a very tight train connection on Wednesday, so it was important to book a hotel next to the train station.  And when I went to the Blue Jays website and looked for the stadium, imagine my surprise when I discovered it was right next to the train station.  About a block from my hotel.  This looked promising -- tight, but promising.

I was encouraged when I boarded my flight and they said it was due to arrive at 5:20, rather than 5:45.  I was further encouraged when I made it through Immigration in no time flat.  (No line.  NO freakin' LINE at the Immigration desk.  Is it that way ANYWHERE else in the world?)  Was even further encouraged when, when waiting at the baggage claim area, I realized that the guy who was covering the game for the Boston Globe had been on my plane.  So, like, HE thought he could make it.

Got out of the airport pushing a trolley with my bags on it.  (They charge $2 for the trolleys.  This surprised me as they tend to be complimentary at International terminals.  Hey, who am I to argue?  Maybe they use the cart revenue to fund all those extra agents at the Immigration desk.)  I leave the terminal through the door marked "Taxi" but I do not immediately see a taxi stand -- I just see lots and lots of people standing around.

And I also see a guy who says, "Want a taxi?  Where are you going?" I tell him my hotel.  He says he has another couple who want to go downtown, and he'll take us both.

I have three thoughts, nearly simultaneously:
1.  This guy is not one of those Airport Approved Taxis.
2.  This guy will get me into town without waiting for an Airport Approved Taxi.
3.  This guy will overcharge me, but that's about the extent of what I have to fear from him.

I'm still naturally cautious, but then he mentions (and this turns out to have been true) that Toronto Transit went on a wildcat strike today, so none of the subways and busses are running.  That does it.  I know I won't make the game if I have to wait for a taxi during a transit strike.  I go with the guy.  The other couple appears.  While we're going to the guy's car in the parking lot, I ask him how much he's charging.  He says it is a flat rate of $52.  I have previously researched this.  Taxis to downtown Toronto are a flat rate, but it depends on your destination.  My hotel is in a zone that's either $45 or $48.  So, yeah, he's overcharging us.  AND he's getting two fares for a single trip.  But he's also my only chance of making the game, so I continue going along with him.  The wife of the other couple asks me if I think he's taking advantage of us.  I tell her he's ripping us off for about $5, but that's about it.  She says she hopes he doesn't mug us.  I say "there's three of us and one of him."  I say a quick prayer to whatever god protects idiots who travel, wonder whether Canada has gun control, and get in the guy's Town Car.

And, yeah, it was pretty much what I thought it was -- a guy running a private cab service out of his car.  He had business cards and everything.  And he was fast as hell, taking side streets whenever the freeway was packed -- and I ended up at my hotel at about 6:45.

Checked in, dumped my stuff in my room, threw my sunscreen in my purse, and headed off to the Sky Dome.  I asked the concierge how to get there ("the first of what I'm certain will be several stupid questions over the next few days") and she politely aimed me in the right direction.  It involved walking about a half block, going upstairs, and taking an elevated walkway.  Bam -- I'm at the Sky Dome, and it's, like 7:10.  I'm bummed that I've missed the singing of both anthems, but, by the time I got to my seat, I'd only missed, like, the first three outs.

Very different experience seeing a Blue Jays game.  I'm from LA.  I go to Dodger games.  Dodger games are, as a rule, pretty damn well attended.  Or, putting it another way, even on their worst day, they are better attended than this Blue Jays game -- and I think this Blue Jays game was relatively well attended because there were lots of Red Sox fans there who probably don't go to any other games..  I mean, OK, look -- my sister saw the Red Sox at Fenway, and had to get tickets off eBay.  If I want to see a Dodger game and buy tickets about a week in advance, I'm probably sitting up in the third level, as that's all that's available.  I hit the ticket window for this Jays game as the game was starting, and I got a seat in the fifteenth row right behind home plate.  And this ticket cost me about $60.  (They had a more expensive ticket, for $205 dollars, in a section they called, "Part of the Game."  I wondered where that could possibly be.  Maybe they'll let you be a bat boy.  Or pitch.)

Civilized crowd.  Well, civilized group of people congregated in a small area of a big stadium.  (The attendance has apparently gone down steadily since the heady seasons of the early 90s.  Now there were things about it that felt oddly like Triple-A ball.  Like the fact that some fan wins a car if one of the Blue Jays hits a home run ball on a red bull's-eye target in center field.  And their second baseman with a .000 average, had apparently just been brought up from AAA ball TODAY.  By the end of the game he STILL had a .000 average, and had also managed to hit into a double play.  Not an auspicious beginning.) .About the nastiest it got in there was when the Red Sox fans got a "Let's Go Red Sox" chant going, and the Jays fans were obligated to yell "Let's Go Blue Jays" loud enough to drown them out.  And it was close, let me tell you.  I ended up rooting for the Jays.  I mean, I didn't really have any loyalty to either team, and since I was a visitor in Toronto, it seemed right to be all neighborly and cheer for them.  And they won, too, which made it more fun.  :)

Tomorrow is my one and only site-seeing opportunity in Toronto. Wonder what sites I can see.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Day 2 -- pre-wedding and wedding.

Slept in today, till around 11:00.  My folks and I went out to lunch, and then we had a few hours to kill before the wedding, so we went to a furniture store.

Yes, a furniture store.  I was a little concerned that "furniture store" was on the list of tourist attractions in this here part of Massachusetts, but I guess the pickings are a little slim a half-hour outside of Boston.

So we went to something called Jordan's Furniture. 

The inside of the store is set up like an outdoor street -- supposed to be like Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  (The whole street-inside-a-building thing was kinda like a Vegas casino.)  And then all the "shops" coming off the street had all the furniture for sale.  Also they had an IMAX theatre (yes, you can go to the furniture store and see Poseidon). 

And (the similarities to Vegas casinos don't end here) they had a corny little free Mardi Gras show running every hour.  Said show included life-size moving puppets (the quality wasn't good enough to actually be called audio-animatronic) of various musicians (Louis Armstrong, the Supremes, Elvis) ... all of which boogied around in a spotlight to a vocal track of "When the Saints Go Marching In."  Culimating in a big old Mardi Gras float being "flown" across the ceiling on tracks.  All the while, two employees of the furniture store stood there banging tambourines in time to the music (one of whom was really getting into it -- the other looked like she'd much rather sell you a sofa).  The whole thing was surreal -- and I was fairly certain it was one of those things that is really great fun if you're under 6.  Or stoned.

My cousin's wedding was later.  Held at the home of her new husband's parents -- this beautiful, old (1754 old) house on an absolutely gorgeous piece of land.  You know, where you can see a lake through the trees way over there.  The weather was more than cooperative -- after two weeks of rain, it was sunny and in the 80s -- so they're going to end up with some really lovely wedding pictures on this beautiful day.  Sweet service (the groom's sister got a Justice of the Peace license so she was able to actually declare them husband and wife), the two of them clearly love each other very much, and it looks like they got their marriage off to a great start.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Day One -- LA to Boston

I am reminded of the time one or two of you kind folks nominated me for an AOL Journal award for "Travel Journal."  Hadn't really thought of this as a travel journal, but since, for various reasons (mostly dealing with the fact that the things that have been occupying my thoughts since, say, January, have been the sort of thing that I wouldn't want to journal publicly about) ... ANYWAY, since it seems that I tend to bring out the computer whenever I hit the road, maybe you folks know a bit more about my journal than I do.

This morning started at 4:00 a.m.  This means I was taking a plane this morning, as I don't get up before the sun in the absence of a plane ticket or a court order.

I had gone to sleep around 11:30 the night before.  (See, I'd finished packing early, so I thought I'd go get my nails done.  And then, while my nails were drying, I thought maybe I'd catch a movie, and "X-Men" was sold out but if I waited another half hour I could catch "Over the Hedge," and next thing you know it's 10:30 and I haven't fed the cat yet, and ...)  So.  Alarm goes off after four and a half hours of interrupted sleep (cat) and I'm supposed to function well enough to get to the airport.

I have a vague recollection that the last time I did this, I locked my keys in my house.

I leave around 5:00 (very carefully checking my keys before closing the door).  And book on down to LAX.  Holiday Schmoliday -- Nobody is on the roads at five in the morning on a Saturday.  I drop off my car, head to the airport, check my bags, wait in the security line, get to the gate, stand there for a half hour--

-- yes, I stood there for a half hour.  I don't know what's up with the airlines these days, but there were WAY not sufficient chairs in the waiting area.  You'd think maybe they'd stagger flights at the nearby gates so that everyone could sit down, but noooo.  I only got a seat when the flight at the gate next to ours started boarding -- a whole ten minutes before my flight started boarding.

Got on plane, etc.  None of this was particularly remarkable except for how astonishingly tired I was.  I've done the four hours of sleep thing before, and it hasn't been a problem.  Here, it was insanely bad.  Only got through about 4 chapters of The Well of Lost Plots because my mind kept wandering.  I'd had the good sense to bring a couple DVDs, so I watched a movie on the computer, and I had to rewind it every once in awhile, because my mind had started wandering and I'd lost track of the plot.  And this was Jurassic Park, for cryin' out loud, so it isn't like I was trying to make sense of Mulholland Drive or something.

I have a theory for why this was.  Because airlines are, y'know, cheap, they didn't give us breakfast or lunch and instead sold me a food box.  The contents of my food box:  a small breakfast bar, some cheese spread and two crackers, a box of dried fruit (raisins, cherries and apples), and a piece of biscotti.  What's missing from this picture?  PROTEIN.  Breakfast bar had two grams.  That was IT.  So, by the time we land at Logan, I've been awake for 9 hours, after 4 hours of sleep, and I'm operating on 2 freakin' grams of protein.  It's a wonder I was still standing.  (Which I had to do for 40 minutes before they unloaded the bags from the plane.)

I am in the Boston area because a cousin of mine is getting married here tomorrow.  So tonight was the "out of towners" dinner with a whole bunch of relatives.  My cousins and I see each other once a year or so (at big family gatherings) and, whenever we do, we just take over a table and hang out.  I think the very first Cousins' Table was back in 1977, when we were all little.  Gosh -- we're pushing 30 years on the Cousins Table -- and, by now, it's just a given.  I'm sure there was some time when we all wanted to "graduate" to a grown-up table.  But, you wait long enough, and we're all grown-ups.  Hell, the cousin who is getting married tomorrow is my youngest cousin.  She wasn't even born when the Cousins Table started.  I guess I could wax all philosophical about how I've literally seen all these people grow up pretty much one year at a time -- and how the Cousins Table now is often more about reminiscing about prior times together than anything else -- but now I've been up over 18 hours and, hell, even a bra can't hold up that long.

Friday, May 26, 2006

This week's homework: Travel Books

Man, I'm liking me that "Blog about this entry" button.  Saves all that copying, pasting and linking.

Weekend Assignment #113: Travel Books : "Weekend Assignment #113: Someone you know is traveling. Suggest a book or two for them to read on their trip. If at all possible, pick a book from the last couple of years. Also, keep in mind that it's meant to be a recreational book; i.e., they're not really reading to change their life, here, just to have fun."

Boy, if that ain't an assignment just MADE for me.  I'm heading off on a trip tomorrow (home from work packing -- or procrastinating about packing -- right now).  And Amazon just sent me the two books that will be entertaining me while on planes, trains and buses for the next two weeks:

First, we have Ilium, by Dan Simmons.  It's a Hugo-nominated science fictiony thing that owes a lot to Homer's Iliad.  I hope it's as good as his Hyperion (which owed a ton to Keats, among others).  Science fiction that gets its smarts from literature rather than techno-geekery.  I like it.

And the other book (which, in a broad sense, is in the same general family) is The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde.  It's the next book in a series that began with The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book, featuring a "Literary Detective" in the Department of "Jurisfiction," who can pop in and out of books.  It's definitely "genre" fiction, but hard to pin down in any particular genre.  Sort of an alternate-universe-comic-detective-novel-with-a-literary-bent thing.

Now... to pack.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


After yesterday's post, guess what came in the mail today.

Go on, guess.

If you said, "An AOL disk," you're only half right.



Two AOL disks.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Oh please oh please

I am writing this entry from my laptop.  Hopefully, it will post, and we will all be astonishingly impressed.

Let me clarify -- I am writing the entry from within AOL on my laptop.  (As opposed to from the web.)  It is this part that gives the whole thing the potential for astonishing impressability.

See... OK, to tell this story right, we have to go back.  Way way back.  Years.  Before this laptop.  Back when I had an iBook.  I liked my iBook an awful lot.  It connected to the internet via an AirPort (an Apple wireless router).  There was a downside to this.  I had a first generation AirPort and it didn't have an ethernet passthrough and ... look, I don't want to get all techno-geeky (and, yes, for me, this is techno-geeky) on you, but the bottom line was, I had a wired router AND a wireless router just to make the set-up work, and that created all sorts of fascinating problems.

And one of the more aggravating problems it caused was that, after a couple years, AOL just flat-out gave up working on the iBook.  I did not know why this was.  Nor did the AOL people.  But although I had a perfectly good internet connection going on the iBook, AOL would crash and burn every time I signed on -- most of the time, it wouldn't make it past the Welcome screen.

I never solved this problem.  I ultimately made it go away when, about a year later, I bought a new laptop altogether.  It is WIndows-based.  And because my whole system was Windows-based, I ditched the AirPort and got myself a new wireless router.  Et Voila -- AOL on the laptop.

Fast forward a couple years to a couple months ago.  AOL craps out on the current laptop.  I am not making this up.  Same freakin' problem.  After a few phone calls to Tech Support failed to solve it, their ultimate solution was for me to delete all AOL files from the laptop and re-install it clean from a disk.  I guess the theory was my copy of AOL was somehow badly corrupted. 

I said this was a couple months ago because the fine folks at AOL never sent me the disk.  Honest.  They said it would take six weeks, and I waited more than six weeks, and still no disk.  I finally got my hands on a copy when I waswhining about this at lunch, and a friend offered to give me the latest AOL disk that had come unsolicited in her mail.  (We'll set aside the snarky comment at the irony there -- because all will be forgiven if this works.)

So, I install the disk, I crank up AOL and ... it freezes.  Again.  I try again; it freezes again.  My conclusion:  AOL is not the problem.  Well, not directly.  My real conclusion is that there's something in AOL that does not get along with my router -- and whatever it is, AOL Tech Support sure can't figure it out.  My router is about 3 years old.  New, faster ones are available for, like, $30.  I buy me one of them, figuring that, worst case scenario, my internet connection on the laptop will speed up, even if it doesn't save AOL.

Which brings us to right now.  I installed the router, cranked up AOL and ... I'm still here!  I haven't had an AOL connection on this computer for more than 30 seconds in months and now it appears that I might have just solved this thing.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I rule!

I hemmed a dress today!  It was lined and everything.  I had to make two separate passes with the sewing machine (conveniently loaned from a neighbor, who'd also helped me pin the skirt).  But I did it!

I have that same awesome feeling of power I got when I first lit a fire in the fireplace.  :::Grunt::: Make fire!  Hem dress! 

Funny the things you remember.  Neighbor had told me how to load up the thread in her sewing machine and then left me to it.  And the first thing I do, all automatic-like, is reach in back for that little metal lever you hit to make the little guide plate plop down.  I haven't used a sewing machine in probably 20 years (and if you'd asked me two hours ago what to do first I couldn't have told you), but when I'm face to face with the machine, my left hand remembers what the moves are.

I also remembered other things -- basic things, sure, but things I hadn't known I remembered.  (Things like, "You're gonna want to make sure the needle is IN the fabric before you turn it.")

The result is far from professional (I didn't really give a damn whether the lining was even) but it's surprisingly serviceable, if I do say so myself.  I'm feeling all domestic goddessy now.  Next up, maybe I'll bake something.

There's No Guilt Like Mom Guilt

No, I haven't given up on journalling.  It's just that I got out of the habit when I had no time (when I was off being a Producer) and it's hard to get back in. 

A few weeks ago, I went to Arizona for my Dad's 70th birthday party and I still haven't unpacked.  And since I'm crazy planning my next vacation, I decided that -- whatever I got done last night, I was going to unpack the damn suitcase, dammit.

So, I did.  During commercials on 24.  It took all of 3 minutes, if that.  Dump the dirty clothes in the hamper; put the clean clothes back in my dresser; and shove the suitcase back in my closet.  Done!  How did I possibly let that sit around for weeks?

A couple hours later, I'm getting ready for bed.  (I'd also promised myself that I'd be in bed by midnight -- because this up-to-2:00-a.m. thing isn't doing me any good.)  So, around midnight, I'm brushing my teeth...

... here's the thing.  One time, when I was brushing my teeth, I gave the cat a belly-rub with my foot.  One time.  Ever since, she's considered the sound of the electric toothbrush to be a clue that she's going to get a belly rub.  Turn on the toothbrush, and there's Jasmine, flopped on the floor, paws all spread out, in the universally-recognized position of "oh yeah, belly rub!"

Last night, no Jasmine.  I'm thinking maybe I've thrown her off schedule by brushing a whole two hours earlier than usual.  I perform the rest of my evening toilette and still nothing.  Weird, but not unprecedented.  I'm about to jump into bed but figure I ought to take a sweep around the house and just check on her.  She's probably asleep in the other room.  I tiptoe in and check in the dark (not wanting to wake her with the light).  It's hard to tell, but I do not see a kitten-shaped shadow on the chair.  Or on the stereo.

And then I hear it.  Meowing.  Soft, tiny, pitiful meowing.

I turn on the light.

No cat.

Still meowing.

Oh no.

I throw open the closet door.  The meowing gets much louder, as a very frightened pair of green eyes stare back at me. 

:::sob:::  I locked my cat in the closet!  I'm the worst kitten mommy ever!

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Most Considerate Cat on Earth

The bad news:  Jasmine threw up again....

The good news: her food dish.

Honest to goodness, she had the good sense to throw up in a small, easy-to-clean container!

Wuv my widdle fastidi-kitty.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Home Sweet I-Don't-Think-So

I own a condo.

Lately, I've been thinking about whether I should upgrade to a house.  A little more space, more mine, less having to deal with an association to get anything done, and no $430 monthly association fee.  Four hundred and thirty dollars.  Honest.  And it isn't like we have a pool or a clubhouse or anything.  That's $430 to keep the fountain from overflowing and ruining the courtyard again.

I haven't been real serious about the house-hunting, but yesterday some friends (who are also curious but not yet real serious) went to some Open Houses.  We had spotted a few in the newspaper we wanted to check out, but by the end, we were just following Open House signs in the street.

Which would explain the NINE bedroom FIVE bathroom house we looked at.  Which was about twice the price of some three-bedroom houses.  Of course, this is probably because the place had recently been used as an assisted-living home, so none of the bedrooms had doors on them, and they all opened up onto other living areas in two directions.  We needed a freakin' map to get out of that place.  And we did want to get out.  Especially after we went through the room someone had apparently been using for manicure practice, as it had a row of little fake fingers (with nicely painted nails) lined up all in a row on the desk.

And then there was the townhouse we looked at.  Now, I'm trying to get away from association fees and all, but this was a lovely townhouse with pretty much exactly what I'm looking for in a home, at a price I could afford, so we figured we'd take a look.  And it didn't disappoint. 

Until the agent showing the place pointed out "the one quirky thing about this unit."

Oh, what's that?

There's no place for a refrigerator in the kitchen.  The lady who used to live there wanted a desk in the kitchen.  So she had this gorgeous desk built in, with a tile surface (matching the rest of the kitchen) and lovely glass doors on the cabinetry.  It just happened to be where the fridge should be.  Instead, she replaced two of the lower cabinets (where normal people would keep pots and pans) with alittle half-fridge and a little half-freezer, and then covered the doors with false fronts so they looked just like the other cabinets.

The agent said the place had been on the market for two months, and we could probably get it for less than the asking price.

Ya think?