Monday, October 31, 2011

My only Halloween joke

Man, I've been waiting all year to use this one. Also, it's my only Halloween joke, so chances are you've heard it before. Sorry.

What do you call a sheep that dresses up as a car for Halloween?

A lamborghini!

I'll give you a minute to compose yourself.

Ok, back with me? Please don't throw bricks at my house or anything. I know it's a bad joke. But I made it all by myself and it's probably the only joke I've ever made in my life. So I have to treasure it.

It all started when I worked in the bakeshop at Jewel, which was probably my most glamorous job to date. I'm not sure what that means.

You know how around Easter, grocery stores have those cute little lamb cakes? They usually have the plastic lamb head and then the body is cake and it's frosted and whatnot. Through an ordering error, our store ended up with twice as many lamb cakes as we needed. The demand for lamb cakes goes down exponentially after Easter, so we were stuck with a bunch of them in the freezer.

We still had some around Halloween, so we started joking about dressing the cakes up in costumes and trying to sell a few that way. I'm sure you've noticed that bakeries do this with all of their fancy shaped cakes. A heart shaped cake for Valentine's day gets turned upside down and made into a "pumpkin" for Thanksgiving. Just for an example.

Somewhere along this costumed-sheep theme was were my joke was born. So yes, this joke is several years old and I still grin like a fool every time I tell it. And now you know it. So pass it on! Share it with your friends!

The lamb cakes will appreciate it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Not original but: Things I hate

Deceptive advertising.

I bought a box of rice the other day because it was on sale and I thought it would be nice to have rice in a box to make one evening. Tonight ended up being that evening.

As I was making this box of rice, I noticed something odd. The front of the box noted that the cooking time was only 5 minutes. That's funny, because when you read the actual instructions, you have to bring the rice to a boil and then let it cook for five minutes and then let it sit for five more minutes.

Also, I know that I only listed one thing, but the five minutes of sitting time is up and I'm hungry.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Running out of Time and Words

This week has been busy beyond my normal routine of existence, and I failed to blog yesterday. It hurts a little bit, but to be honest, that hole has been filled with pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate frosted chocolate cake, so I'm not too upset about anything right now.

You know how some people talk about living in the moment and enjoying life as it happens? I'm really bad at that.

Every decision I make is the result of a careful consideration of consequences and logical outcome. I am as spontaneous as a piece of cardboard, down to getting soggy and weird looking if you spill milk on me and let it sit without wiping up the counter; is it really that hard to go get a paper towel?

Um, anyhow.

So this week was busy because last Saturday and Sunday I was making costumes. Monday I was still sewing. Tuesday was raid night and also my dog got sick. Wednesday and Thursday saw the creation of some truly epic desserts for the Halloween party on Friday and now today I still have sewing to finish and routine chores as well. I'm not complaining; I am happy to keep busy. I'm just saying that these events do not lead to me sitting at my computer writing. That's what November is for.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Left Turns and Me

Now that I've had my drivers license for a touch over half a decade, I feel I am becoming more qualified to comment on driving.

Actually, who am I kidding? I would have commented the first time I drove if I had a nifty blog like this one to write in.

I'm just going to go ahead and say it - I could never be a NASCAR driver. Their lives consist of turning left and my life consists of being terrified of left turns.

You know that feeling that you get when an impatient driver is all up on your bumper behind you? A sort of "please don't let this guy be one of the crazy types who will crash into me just to prove a 'point'... please let this person be a reasonable driver who just happens to want to get to point B faster than I am letting him..." monologue that plays vaguely in the back of your head. This plays in my head constantly and no time more than when I need to make a left turn without the aid of a turning light.

Some people are able to just shrug it off and make left turns without a care in the world. I wish I was that person. I am not.

I actively avoid left turns to the point that I'm starting to think I should just give up and become a UPS driver.

Edit: If this seems familiar to you, it's because I wrote it a few days earlier and just realized I had accidentally published it then instead of waiting til today. But I'm still counting it as a post for today! Woo.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Insanity Level... below the charts.

We just took in Sophie to get fixed the other day and I can safely say that her insanity level that first night we brought her back was off the charts - in the negative direction. Never in my life have I seen her lay quietly in a chair all evening. She didn't even bark when a commercial with a doorbell played.

Well, actually, she did try to bark. I should give her points for effort. She kind of lifted her head up a centimeter and made a rather pathetic, half-hearted "arf." It was the quietest bark I have ever heard. Satisfied with her effort to warn me of the people maybe at my door, she slowly lowered her head and went back to sleep.

Smiley and I had debated whether or not to get a collar of shame for her; the vet had explained that Sophie had been being good about not chewing her stitches and that we could always grab one at a pet store if needed.

Thankfully, we did go ahead and get one right then, because although all night Sophie was a quiet, mild mannered pup, the moment we lay down to go to sleep, she turned into a comparable whirlwind of activity as she tried to go to town on her incision. This is, of course, compared to her spending all evening asleep. She made a few attempts to chew on her stomach area and, upon being unable to reach, satisfied her craving by chewing on her back paw for a few minutes, which was one of the only places she actually could reach.

We're supposed to keep her on restricted activity levels for the next 10 days, so looks like Sherlock will get to jog alone with me for a few days. Or, lately, it's been getting ridiculously warm in the afternoons, so maybe this is the excuse I need to not jog again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Canker sores make everything less funny

I really hate canker sores. For whatever reason, I tend to get a lot of them in my mouth a lot of the time that I exist. This has been a thing since as long as I can remember.

I finally went to a doctor when I had about five of them in my mouth at the time. If you've never had one of these things (and I know some weird people who claim they've never had one!), they hurt a lot. The pain is kind of a dull ache with a chance to suddenly stab anytime you move your mouth. So, you know, when you naturally swallow the saliva that builds up in your mouth, it hurts. Or when you try to talk, it hurts. Or when someone makes you smile and that hurts too which makes you frown and guess what? That hurts too! It's like winning the pain lottery.

So despite the fact that my ability to talk was roughly on par with someone in speech therapy for every sound, I managed to convey to the doctor that I was a) in a lot of pain, b) unable to eat solid foods and since swallowing hurt, I couldn't really drink anything either and c) really annoyed by these things.

She responded by grabbing a swabbing q tip and pressing it firmly into one of the sores while I held back all but a single tear.

Her response was, admittedly, what doctors do in these sort of situations, but still. Ouch. She explained that she was sending it to be tested for viral components. She also prescribed a paste to put over them but besides that, repeated what I already knew from the internet and dashed my hopes of being able to eat something that night.

Sadly, the tests all came back negative, so I still don't know why I get these sores. I know they typically appear if I bite my mouth, which happens more often than I care to admit. But I have heard from people who say that if they bite their mouths, it just heals up in a day or two.

Me? Well, I bit my cheek the other Tuesday during my first bite of dinner and resigned myself to my fate. A full week later, I still had a canker sore messing up my mouth.

I guess my point is that you should never tell someone that it doesn't hurt to smile because sometimes (based solely off of my own personal experience) it does hurt to smile.

Ouch. That just made me smile.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Moments when I realize I must be 20 years older than I am.

The other night, I couldn't wait until it was 10pm so I could go to sleep.

Sometimes, paying bills gives me a rush, presumably because I feel so responsible even though thanks to technology, all I need to do is click a few buttons. In the olden days, I heard tales about envelopes and stamps and going to this ancient formation called "a post office."

I would like to have a kid soon. (Ok, so maybe that doesn't make me 20 years older than I am, because that would put me solidly out of the "being able to even have a kid" category. But still, the gist of the statement applies.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Memories of Cold Times

Yesterday I was talking about the recent spat of cold weather that has been pushing through the air. I figured I didn't want to seem unable to handle the cold, so I wanted to take a moment to do another "picture me" exercise.

When I went to Northern Illinois University, I lived on campus for a grand total of one semester, and though I meet very nice people on my floor, I decided quickly that dorm living was not for me and got an apartment with a guildmate from my guild at the time in WoW. The walk to class was about a mile, which I was ok with. But sometimes, it got really cold in DeKalb.

For those of you unfamiliar with how cold weather and snow works, it basically goes like this. Areas near lakes and water tend to have slightly higher temperatures during the winter and tons more snow. Areas that are just flat, open areas tend to have ridiculously cold temperatures but less snow. I'm still not sure which of the two is the truly ideal circumstance. Maybe I'll make a list of pros and cons for each and then remember that I live in Florida now.

In any case, NIU is in DeKalb where basically it is a college town in the middle of acres and acres and acres of corn field. What I'm saying is that the land is flatter than that one time I made pancakes with old baking powder. And so it got pretty cold.

Did I mention I was going through one of my frequent "no pants" phases? Don't get too excited - I wore skirts and dress instead. Nothing inappropriate! So when the wind chills started pushing -40, you might think that I took a reprieve from this.

No, I know you know me better than that.

So when the weather channel gave me the news that morning, I thought long and hard about my options and then decided to dress like a stylish bag lady. I can still recount the layers. Would you like to recount with me? It's "picture me" time!

I wore a pair of long johns - the newer, thin style that just so comfortable, a pair of leggings over those, a pair of knee high wool socks over those, knee high boots, a long velvet skirt, a tank top, a long sleeved thin knit sweater, a hoodie, a scarf crossed in front of my chest under my jacket for an extra layer of wind protection, my jacket, another scarf on the outside to protect my neck, chin and face, two pairs of gloves and my hello kitty hat.

And then I walked to class and didn't lose even one toe. And it was uphill, both ways.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cold weather, can't you wait til winter?

Last time I checked, we are still solidly in the "fall" category of seasons, but for the past few days, I've been waking up to see temperatures in the upper 30's. For my out of country friends (hi!) that's just a bit over zero.

I refer to this temperature range as "double sweatshirt weather" - the range being from about 20-40 degrees. Double sweatshirt weather is exactly what it sounds like. Somehow in my impressionable teen years, I got into the habit of thinking that no matter how many layers, scarves or gloves I wore, as long as I didn't wear an actual jacket, I was cool.

I so wish I were kidding but I so am not kidding.

To draw you a picture of this in your mind, picture me. Then picture me wearing a hello kitty hat (from the kid's section at Target; I have a small head), a black scarf, gloves and a sweatshirt. The first sweatshirt is a thinner sweatshirt, one of those more form fitting zip up kinds that I probably got at a Hot Topic. Over it is a decidedly less gothic, more practical oversized pullover hoodie. Can you feel the cool-ness radiating from that picture within your mind? I can, and it's wonderful. It is what keeps me warm.

Now, in the later years I have taken to wearing a coat that my mom got me for my birthday because it is just so darn cute that I don't care if I'm not cool. But in the back of my mind, I always remember my double sweatshirt days.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I am so bad at running

Somehow, I think I might have volunteered to run a 5k with my sister-in-law on Thanksgiving. I'm not quite sure how this happened.

Actually I am sure of the events leading to this but I am unsure of the "why."

Actually the "why" might be that I am dumb.

So, the weather has been really great these past few days when I've gotten home from work. As I mentioned before, where I live in Florida, the warmest part of the day is not around noon; it is around 5 pm. Which is awful when I get home and it's in the 90's and the puppies want to be walked RIGHT NOW. But this week, despite chilly mornings and afternoon, by evening time, the weather is perfect for a pair of yoga pants and a t shirt.

My 5k problem starts with this weather. Wearing my yoga pants and t shirt, and with the perfect breeze at my back, I felt nearly compelled to start jogging along with the puppies. So I did. Tentatively, because I suck at running. But the puppies didn't judge me, they just ran alongside me and then stopped every so often to pee, which gave me a chance to catch my breath as I pretended to just be casually stopping to let my dogs do their business but in reality I was gasping for air.

The puppies really responded to this jogging thing, and by the time we got home from our walk/jog, they were even less spastic than they normally are after a walk. I made the second mistake of feeling somewhat proud of myself. I had no reason to run; it wasn't like anyone was chasing me - but I had done it any way, in spite of myself.

And so then I did it the next day. And the next. And I still wasn't getting any better at it, but the dogs were happy and it seems like everyone I know is always posting about their jogging 5 miles every day or whatever on their Facebooks and so I really need to try to keep up.

On Wednesday, I got back to the house with the puppies just as my sister in law was leaving to go on her jog, a respectable 2 mile run, unlike my ... uh, just over a mile jaunt. When she got back and started doing her cool down stretches in the living room while I worked on Smiley's costume, she said, "I should do a Turkey Trot. You know, one of those runs they do on Thanksgiving."

Amped up on several days of almost running over a mile, I nodded enthusiastically. "You totally should. And I will too. Let's do it together!" The words came out of my mouth without the slightest hesitation.

"That's awesome, Dani!" she said.

I don't know if I is going to happen for real. I didn't physically sign up for anything. And it's going to be colder. And other excuses. But just in case, I'm going to keep jogging with the puppies for a few more days here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall is in the air

Specifically in the rapidly decreasing in temperature air.

Yesterday, I woke up and walked the puppies before work. When I went to go to the bank on my lunch break, it was colder than that morning.

Weather, this is not how it works. Be reasonable. I understand that you enjoy the misery that comes from me wearing a light sweatshirt in weather that clearly demands a medium sweatshirt but we could talk about it. You could give me advance warning and then I'll keep an extra sweatshirt in my car so that the walk there is cold, but it's alright on the way back. Does that work for you?

Judging by the fact that it's even colder today, I'm gonna go with no.

I wanted to share a picture of the leaves changing color, but I don't have any of those. So instead, I'm going to pretend it's the spring, and warm, and leave you all with this:

I can feel the pollen assaulting my senses. Ahhhhh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Discuss: Orange Juice and Brownies?

I know I've talked about this before (although not on my blog, so it's fair game for here) - I love orange juice and brownies. You know how some people have their brownies or cookies or whatever with a tall, cold glass of milk? Yeah, that makes me feel the way most people seem to feel about chocolate and orange juice together.

This is a culmination of a few lasting childhood memories.

The first and most drastic event happened when I was fairly young - young enough to not really understand the concept of "use by" dates but old enough to know how to serve myself a cup of milk.

My family had just returned home from a trip to Michigan and though my mom usually gets all the perishables out of the house before we drive up there, this carton of milk had slipped through her grasp.

There wasn't much left in the container, but I was thirsty after the eight hour drive. (Even from a young age, I found it best to drink as little as possible during car trips to cut down on the "Mom I really, really have to go bathroom!" episodes). I poured myself a cup and drank up.

Well, started to anyhow. It didn't take long for my mouth and stomach to agree that something was up with this substance I was trying to quench my thirst with. Stomach and mouth had a quick discussion and decided the best thing to do was to get it back out of my body, and quickly. I gagged over a trash bag for several minutes that felt even longer because I was tired, car weary and worst of all, still thirsty.

After that, any good thoughts I had about milk were gone. For awhile, just seeing it was enough to make my stomach clench in a preparatory sort of motion. Slowly I was able to introduce milk back under the guise of chocolate milk. And it was ok in my cereal, as long as the cereal didn't pick up too much milk. Frosted mini wheats became an ordeal because I would have to scoop up each piece of cereal individually and smush it up against the side of the bowl so that the extra milk would drain off.

Ok, I still do that last part even to this day.

In any case, milk just doesn't do it for me. So now when I have a tasty baked good, or even a not as tasty but still pretty awesome baked good, I like to have orange juice. The, I don't know, acid or whatever of the orange juice cuts through the richness of the chocolate. I'm not a food reviewer; I don't know the terms. But I know what I like.

So that being said, is it weird that water is my go-to drink with ice cream? Surely that's a normal thing. Right?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Remember when Graffiti was the big thing on Facebook?

For reference, this is part of Silvermoon City from WoW.
My blog needed some pictures; I've been relying on words for too many days in a row here. But I haven't had time to draw anything, not even given how quickly I can draw badly.

I've always wondered if the fact that I draw on the computer with my mouse hinders me. As I am left handed, presumably my fine motor skills are better in my left hand. However, unlike my brothers who mouse exclusively with their left hands, I just took up to using my right hand for mousing.

Actually, I think that's why I can't stand higher mouse sensitivity. As a teenager, my parent's basement was pretty much the place to be. With between four and five computers linked to our network at any given time, it was easy to have a few friends over and to toss down in Quake III or Unreal Tournament, two of my favorite FPS games. But sometimes my friends would up the mouse sensitivity on the computer and later I would sit down and go crazy trying to maneuver the mouse around. What I felt were little movements would shoot the cursor halfway across the screen.

Of course, maybe I was just bad.

But, given the amount I won or at least held my own, I think it's safe to say I could have done even better had I taught myself to mouse left handed. On the other hand (ha!), at least now I don't annoy people by leaving my keyboard and mouse on the wrong sides of the computer like certain siblings I know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It has almost been one year!

One year since my husband and I bought our house, that is. You know, I've heard it said that time goes faster as you get older, but it's really amazing just how quickly that happens. We've gotten some paint up on the walls and had to completely redo our master bath so far - not because we wanted a new one but because the current one had floors ready to rot out underneath from a bad water leak - and had to deal with roosters in our neighbor's yard, but I'm still happy with it all.

I was trying to think of something to write about this evening; I was sitting in the living room with one puppy curled up on my lap and one at my feet and watching HGTV while in the other room, Smiley was working on his Warhammer 40k models. But even though I have a lot of ideas, nothing formed into a full idea tonight. I think I might have squandered all my creativity on my Halloween costume, which I have almost finished as of tonight. I just need to add the trim and buy a few accessories. But in any case, try as I might, a new post was not jumping onto the page from my brain.

Oh, I have ideas. I'd like to rant about people who put apostrophes in every word that they pluralize, even if the word is not a possessive. Especially if the word is not a possessive. Or people who don't understand how prepositions work. I might have to go back and have a stern word with whomever decided that teaching kids to always use "My friends and I" because now I have to put up with the BS of people thinking they are being so smart by saying "Yes, that happened to my friends and I" and me silently crying invisible tears as I fight back the urge to scream, "To me! To my friends and me! Take out the other noun and what would you say!?"

Actually, I was listening to Dio in the car and the track Sacred Heart came up (worth a listen). But for those not in the mood for some good music, allow me to sadly state some of the opening lyrics:

"Whenever we dream, that's when we fly / So here is a dream, for just you and I!"

Oh Dio, may your soul rest in peace, but was it worth it for a rhyme? I've dealt with it by pretending that the little synth noise after those lines is his way of acknowledging how weird that line sounds. But it's not easy.

So as I was saying; I have a lot of ideas of what to write about. But I think costume making is going to sap a lot of that for a few more days.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Halloween Costumes

At some point as I grew up, I took up sewing. I was never great at it; I can be impatient at times and that is a skill that does not go hand in hand with sewing. But it was fun and I made several cosplay costumes and a few Halloween outfits. (It counts as a Halloween costume if I don't have to spend the night explaining, "I'm this person from this video game and this outfit is from when....")

I'm 100% positive my inspiration came from my mom, who routinely would sew together 6 Halloween costumes each year; one for me, one for each of my siblings, and one for my dad. It was like magic. You could tell her what you wanted to be and then for Halloween, there would be a costume.

Only now, as I continue to work on my own costumes, do I ever sit down and wonder how the heck she did it. She must have had special days with extra hours, because just making mine and my husband's costumes is an exercise in angst for me.

For example, despite being very careful to cut the pattern pieces out slowly and evenly and to make all of the correct markings, I still managed to almost sew the pockets on a full two inches different from each other.

But I remember Halloweens from years past, where my mom just made things work. I'm not even kidding. One year, the "it" costume was to dress up as an M&M. Do you guys remember this year? I think I was in middle school and that the majority of my siblings were in elementary school and M&M costumes were just everywhere that year.

When inevitably asked to have M&M costumes, my mom scoffed at the idea of spending $50-some dollars on a Halloween costume and instead made them herself. I wish I had a picture to show, with my two brothers and youngest sister all in their matching costumes that were only about a hundred times cooler than the store bought ones. (I might be a little biased. But only by like fifty times. The other fifty are totally unbiased times).

I'm really hoping that by the time I have kids, this "just making it work like magic" thing will start working for me, because at this point, the only way I would react if my kids came up to me demanding to be M&Ms would be to start trying to persuade them that they really wanted to be ghosts with last year's old sheets instead. Right?

(Also, if anyone is curious - my goal from last week was to try to include art work with each post for the week. That failed miserably.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

One of those days

It's been one of those days.

I went to start making my Halloween costume and had everything set up in the dining room and kitchen when I opened the pattern and saw that I had bought the wrong size.

So I went to JoAnns and exchanged the pattern easily enough. I decided to go to McDonalds for breakfast since I was out of the house anyhow.

The McDonalds near our house usually has a quick drive through. You'll notice my careful placement of the word "usually." From the time I got into the drive through line, which was only 3 cars deep to the ordering part, to the time I got my food, 20 minutes drifted by.

Once at home again, time passed as I set to cutting out the new, right sized pattern pieces, and then I went to pin them to the fabric. Despite pinning exactly as directed by the pattern, the pieces did not all fit. I checked the back of the pattern and saw that despite buying the fabric while looking at the pattern that was too big for me, I still managed to get a half yard of fabric less than I actually needed.

The upside, I guess, is that I found a way to make it work. It's just a costume, so it doesn't REALLY matter if I don't pay attention to the little lines on the pattern that show which way to orient the piece to the salvage of the fabric. Right?

More time passed as I alternated between watching Cheaters and the huge line of "Crashers" shows that HGTV shows. Bath Crashers, House Crashers, Yard Crashers and Room Crashers. The word "crashers" doesn't even look right anymore.

Crashers. It's one of those words that just doesn't look like its meaning. It's a combination of a Carafe and cashews. Or cashiers I guess. And don't even get me started on the word "blue." I mean, look at it. The "u" and the "e" just make this awful "oooouee" sound and the beginning is a "blaugh". Blue. No, that doesn't look right either.

Right then, apparently I am going insane.

The husband got home from work and was in a buildy-type mood, so it was decided we'd go to the Harbor Freight store to buy stuff for his work bench and maybe stop at Olive Garden. I let myself start to crave their breadsticks, which was a mistake because the Olive Garden was literally crawling with people. They spilled out onto the front area, chatting and waiting patiently for the up to an hour wait that the location currently had.

We decided to skip Olive Garden. I wanted to stop by the Beauty Supply shop to grab some squirt bottles for my grenadine and sweet sour mix, but we stopped by Harbor Freight first, which was another mistake. By the time we were done there, it was three minutes after seven and the Beauty Supply shop had closed (I had mistakenly assumed it was open until eight).

Disappointed and hungry, I was unable to make a dinner choice, but I knew cooking something was not the answer. Chipotle was suggested and then I made the mistake of noting that we should go to the one that we were near instead of the one near our house because that one tended to get really crowded.

It was my mistake because even though I got the same thing I always get at Chipotle, which I get specifically because they are the mildest options - even though I had these safeguards in place, when I bit into my burrito, it felt as though my lips had suddenly been flash burned. My esophagus was burning and my stomach was deciding whether to keep it down because it was food or to reject it, because it was less food and more internal flame.

Those who know me might know that I have a slight aversion to spice, and this is why. What tasted like a normal level of spice to my husband had me in tears in the middle of a Chipotle. Chipotle. That's another word that just doesn't look right. What is the matter with "ch" words? I might have to institute a ban on them for awhile.

Uh. Anyhow.

Husband took pity on me and brought me to get a sushi roll while I complained the entire time that my lips felt sunburned and I couldn't believe how much pain a pepper could impart and he should be more sympathetic to how painful it was, because it was really painful and was he even listening?

Thankfully, I can say that it was the best sushi roll I have had in quite some time.

(Let's ignore the fact that it's the first sushi roll I have had in quite some time).

So maybe it was one of those days, but now it's not. I'm just going to go to bed while I'm ahead here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh Sebring, You Keep My Days So Interesting..

So one of my biggest fears about the Sebring is that it is going to basically fall apart underneath me while I am driving. This is not a baseless accusation; there is precedent.

A bit over a year ago, the husband and I were traveling North by car (we travel with our pets and disdain planes) when all of the sudden, the Sebring made a clunking sort of noise, as if it had shifted into top gear just a little clumsily.

As my husband made his way to the side of the road somewhere just inside the Indiana border, I was dumbfounded and more than a little glad I was not the one driving.

"What happened?" I asked him, trying to peer over to the gauges on the dash for a light or some sort of indication of the problem. The tachometer was low. Way too low.

"The engine stopped," he said almost casually, keeping much calmer in the situation than I would have, had I been the driver.

I kid you not, I was so surprised that this is what I asked next: "Oh wow. Is the car going to stop moving now?"

"Well yeah." He was kind enough to answer without being too sarcastic, "The engine stopped. We're just coasting at this point."

I sat in silence then, marveling at the stupid things I manage to say, and watched traffic swerve around us as we pulled over to the side of I-65, on a bridge overpass.

The reason the engine stopped was that a piece of the drive shaft (or something, don't hold it against me if my car terms are wrong here) had rusted off in the engine and fallen down into the transmission. I am now going to attempt a comparison between two topics I know very little about - cars and the human body. Whatever that piece did, it was like getting food stuck in your windpipe. The body knows it needs air to keep going, but when it can't get any more, you die. Same with a car. The car knows it needs gas to keep going, but when something gets all stuck in its pipe, it dies.

Or something.

We ended up having to stay the night in the town and most of the next day waiting for the car to be fixed. The mechanics terrified us by stating it would be over a thousand dollars to drop the transmission but thankfully, they decided to try removing the piece without dropping it first and the bill was more manageable.

So yes, there is precedent. There is also the fact that a piece of the car rusted and fell off just yesterday.

I was leaving the parking lot at work, so ready to be home. As I went over one of the speed bumps - and it's fair to note, I am not a speeder over speed bumps. I slow down for speed bumps - there was a noise.

This noise could accurately be described as "what a piece of metal sounds like when it has been ripped loose from the bottom of your car due to the fact that it is mostly rust at this point."

I thought about panicking, but the car seemed to still be moving forward, so I pulled into the next avaliable parking spot and walked back to the scene of the carnage.

A little piece of metal, edges completely rusted, lay on the ground, as if accusing me of abandoning it. I hadn't the slightest clue what it was and the part of my brain that has a minor knowledge of cars decided that it was probably part of my muffler. Or maybe my transition. Or my exhaust. Exhaust and mufflers are two different things right?

I put the piece of metal on the back seat and then decided to try looking under the car. If you've never had a Sebring, you might not know that they basically are flat on the ground. I couldn't see anything.

Tentatively, I got back into the car and turned it on. It turned on, so I decided I would be safe to drive the few miles home. I was.

Later, it was revealed by my all-knowing husband that what had fallen off of the Sebring was part of a heat shield, I guess. So now my car is less protected against heat, which seems unfortunate. He assured me that it is not a vital part of the car, but I'm still feeling nervous.

It truly is only a matter of time before the Sebring gives up on life and deposits its engine on the ground while I'm trying to go up a hill.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

500 pageviews... /party hat

That's right people - I am officially wearing a party hat today. Last night someone was my 500th page view on this blog.

Oh, I know that page views are a fairly meaningless stat; if someone refreshed the page 500 times, I'd be at 1000. But, since I have no other stats to celebrate yet, I'm going with this.

Well, I do have a pair of followers but that's not really a number people celebrate at, unless it is a birthday. Otherwise, two of anything typically seems less celebratory and more functional, like a pair of socks or a pair of shoes, a pair of glasses or a pair of pants.

What the heck - I'll celebrate them too! With a pair of party hats!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Before World of Warcraft, There was Everquest

Believe it or not, I've actually been playing video games for more than three-fourths of my life at this point.

I've also been trying to convince myself I can learn how to draw for a good majority of that time.

The conflation of those two hobbies resulted in some comics from my younger years, based on mine and my sister's Everquest characters. I won't apologize for the artwork (check out the way I cleverly avoid drawing feet or hands!); I will only hope it will help you laugh at the ridiculous punchlines I set up. (Click through for full size!)

The original Mystrana was a clothie, just like the Mystrana today!

Sadly, the premise behind "Fighting Those Angry Dwarfs..." didn't inspire me beyond those two masterpieces. Luckily, thanks to the magic powers of scanning, they continue to be displayed for posterity.

I look back on these every so often and am always reminded of the little things in EQ that would never fly in the world of WoW - and that, honestly, I am glad don't.

For example, it's not that I just drew Mystrana with her spellbook because it was an interesting visual point to the plot of the comic but because looking at your spellbook was an actual thing you had to do in order to regen mana at a reasonable rate.

I know I've said this before, but I haven't gotten it down on my blog before, so here goes: I never even got to the highest level in EQ. I got to level 27. Between needing to group up to quest and level (as an Enchanter class, I literally had no way of soloing) and limited time through school and responsible parents that didn't let me stay up too late, I could never push past in to the magical 30's. Leveling was no joke, and a death meant experience lost.

I do not regret those days but do not think that I miss them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writing about pets instead of ironing my shirt for work

Growing up, my dad had often said that any time an animal entered our household, their IQ points dropped a little. Sometimes a lot.

Of course, this isn't as fair when you take into consideration that some animals we got were born with brains the size of a peanut cluster, if that.

Throughout the years, my family accumulated pets, mostly fish when I was younger - after an exceptionally poor first start with a goldfish that I got from kindergarten (either my imagination is great, or kindergarten was a lot cooler when I went!) The poor goldfish didn't last through the night. In retrospect, carrying a fish home in its little baggie of water in my backpack probably was not the stress-free life a fish craves. I'm sorry. I was in kindergarten.

 After my dad educated us on the basics of fish care, all of us kids got our own goldfish. I'm happy to say my new goldfish lasted me for many years. Of course, as with all tiny pets, it eventually went belly up. I remember distinctly the day I looked into the tank to feed my fish and saw that it was kind of float-swimming, curled in nearly half. I don't think I stopped crying for at least a half hour.

My dad also kept a fish tank, and still does, with various tropical fish, but all I remember now are the tetras; they lived and keep living far beyond any other type of fish he had had.

Casey was our first puppy. I think I mentioned that a brief debate early in her life almost left her with the name "Tree." And if I didn't mention it before, I'm sure I'll mention it again. My youngest brother really wanted to call her tree, in part, I suspect, because she was brown.

We went on to have two more dogs, as you might recall.

Birds also became part of our household. The very first bird was a sparrow that had fallen out of its nest, which we later found out to be above one of the windows. Barely old enough to exist, we did the opposite of what you are supposed to do and took the bird in, made her a spot in a shoebox and looked up on the internet how to feed tiny baby birds.

In the feel good moment of the year, Cheep survived this harrowing intrusion on our part and became a trusted family pet. As in, trusted to fly around the house and only go bathroom on one set of curtains in the corner, anyhow. Cheep would fly onto my mom's shoulder. It's kind of like how little dogs think they are huge; Cheep probably thought she was some sort of massive parrot.

Cheep set the stage for other birds in the years to come. We had pretty parakeets and I got a lovebird from a friend. For a short period of time, I also had a dove. Out of all the birds, I have to say I loved the dove coos the best, but the parakeets were always the friendliest.

Did I mention we traveled with our pets?

Oh and hamsters. What started out as a Christmas and birthday present for my youngest sister soon turned into a veritable hamster stable when one of the two "females" turned out to have boy bits.

I think I might have mentioned them all. Oh. And the squirrels. My dad likes to feed the squirrels. They're not pets, exactly, but they do come onto our deck and chill.

I embodied this all in a Christmas present I gave my mom two years back:

So yes, that really was just a long winded story to show off "artwork" I did a few years ago. It might happen a few times more this week.

Now I gotta run and pick out a shirt that doesn't need ironing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Parking Issues

The picture doesn't really need a lot of explanation, but it looked so sad sitting in the post by itself and besides, not putting down words feels like a cop out to me anyhow. I thought briefly about putting in points for where my other family members park, but I couldn't make the picture big enough to show where my mom would park. My dad's "x" would be right next to the door because he always manages to score "rock star" parking.

Of course, a big part of my parking spot choice these days is based off of the slight inclines that parking lots have - inclines I never noticed until I started driving a manual car and now notice when I roll forward instead of going back despite being in reverse. So I pick spots that are either angled up for easy backing out or spots that are in the middle of nowhere so at least I won't hit any other cars while I ease my car out of the spot with all the grace of a slightly drunk duck.

Overall, parking far away is a sneaky way for me to force myself to walk some during at least two points of the day. It works great until it rains - I still have yet to transport my umbrella from by the door of my house to the car. I'm starting to think I will never remember, seeing as I went out in the rain this morning and forgot my umbrella.

I mean, it wasn't pouring I guess.

But still.

I can't think of a good ending to this, so happy Monday everyone. Woo.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Inspirational Moments

My grandpa ran the Chicago marathon today. He is 68 and it was his first marathon. I can't even contemplate running around the block I live on. To be fair, it's a really, really big block, but even so, it's only just over a mile and a half around.

Presumably, as I am his granddaughter, I should have some of whatever ability it takes to train for and run a marathon, but I am unsure as to how to tap into that. As I have sort of chronicled this week, I have a competitive spirit of sorts but it tends to be more in the moment rather than sustained training for a later pay off.

I also have documented evidence that I tend to shy away from challenges I don't think I can overcome - a good example of that would be that I chose to go to college for an English degree because the thought of going for Biology or Nursing seemed too overwhelming.

In any case, the Chicago Marathon website had a runner tracker page, where I could see throughout the day how my grandpa was doing. It was mind boggling to do so because every time I looked at the updated page, I thought about how much time had passed and how my grandpa had been running every minute of that time. While I was sitting at my computer or making breakfast or grocery shopping - he was running. And running consistent nine minute miles for a sizable portion of the race!

I wish I could say that this caused a movie-like, life-changing epiphany for me about how any thing is possible to accomplish with dedication, but it didn't.

It did, however, cause me to remind myself that what I think I am capable of might be holding me back. I need to be ok with aiming higher and reminding myself that it isn't a straight fall down if I fail, that I have friends and family for support and it's not just me.

That being said, I have made a secret goal for this second week of October. But I can't bring myself to share it just in case I fail.


I'll get there!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


This marks my eight post for the month of October and I have to say I'm already faltering (because I can hardly count yesterday!) Part of the issue is just that I don't realize how busy my days are until it's 8 in the evening and I'm wondering where every other hour in the day went until now.

My husband and I recently hung up some pictures in our dining room area in a somewhat decorative manner. You see, the previous owners of our house had basically left up all the nails and hooks from their decorative things and we had just sort of been putting things up in those spots, which had led to several of the walls looking quite awkward, so I was determined to act like we were grown ups who decorated properly and rehang our pictures.

Of course, this didn't address the fact that the things we are hanging up include a picture of a dragon from George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, a drawing a wonderful friend gave me of me playing DDR and a painting my husband did in high school of skeletons on a battlefield - things that we love but are decidedly not in the "grown up" category of art.

In any case, we got those hung up in a decorative way, but this left a huge section of wall undressed. We decided the space is perfect for two posters. However, I didn't want to move any of the posters we already have; since I spend a lot of time in my computer room, I want to have my favorite posters there and not in the dining room where I can only look at them a few times a day. So we are going to buy posters.

Now, I remember back in the day that I had gotten posters from Spencer's - you know, that store in the mall with all sorts of drug-referencing clothing and items and tons of joke gifts? Two of my favorite fairy posters were from that store and they're hanging up on the wall right next to my computer. I don't know whether it was the particular store or what, but I guess Spencer's has gone to drug reference only posters. I was kind of disappointed.

So for now we are making do with a huge poster-less space on our wall in the dining room. It's not so bad since, as mentioned, I'm only in there a few times a day. But it still makes me a little sad. I will be happy when we find something to put up there!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Running off of a confidence high... not really sure why!

Welcome to speed blogging. What is that you ask? I respond by saying it is when I write down something in the five minutes before the oven goes off, signaling that the freshly baking cookies are now ready to take out and eat. If speed blogging is something other than that, I don't know because there isn't even time to google it and find out.

I just spent about a minute there trying to think about what to write about. And now the oven's going off. But this totally counts as a blog post and who knows, maybe later I'll have time to make something better.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Geeky things just sort of happen to me


I had hoped so much that I had a better picture of this cake.

But I've searched through my picture archives and apparently I didn't think to start taking pictures until AFTER the cake was being cut.

Now, the story goes like this. During my college days, I worked for the bakeshop at the local Jewel. I didn't get to decorate cakes - I was more the person who baked the cookies and bread and pies and stuff and put them out on the shelves. I also got to frost brownies and cupcakes.

I did decorate a thing or two here and there. One of my first decorations was a dragon to celebrate, I don't know, a birthday or something. In any case, I think I drew Onyxia, but I can't say for certain. Also, I don't have a picture of that to back up any claims, so we'll move right along.

My brother Benny graduated from high school one year, as these things happen in the ever forward march of time. He was kind enough to ask me to decorate his cake instead of having an actual professional do it. I asked him what his specifications were, and he wrote me a list. And then I created this:

Just, uh... just take it all in.
In case you couldn't guess, the high school colors are blue and orange. The little dent in the top of the cake is from where there had been a paper diploma.

And yes, it does say Merry Graduation.

And yes, you do win geek points if you guess what year my brother graduated. The knife might have messed the number up slightly, but all of them are showing.

My favorite moment of the night was when not one - not two - but three of his friends whipped out their pocket calculators to check and make sure I got the number right. I mean, they just whipped out those calculators like it wasn't even odd to bring your calculator to a party.

That gets a thumbs up from me.

Just, uh - don't take in the messy bookcase behind me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gym Class

Continuing the competitive theme that I've been working to weave into my narrative this week, I figured I'd share some insightful tidbits from my high school gym classes.

I used to pride myself on being the fastest runner in my class, as long as you excluded anyone who was on a sports team, and especially anyone on the track team.

I was the girl who insisted on playing football and field hockey with the guy's team. (What, you never had a sexist gym teacher that insisted on separating the boys and the girls? I loved it because girls typically stand around in gym class trying to avoid mussing their hair). Oh, I wasn't good at sports, but it was much more fun with the guys. I might have cheated somewhat though. Being that I've always been a twig of a human being, I suspect the guys might have gone easy on me and avoided the body checks that hockey can lend itself to when you're fighting for control of the puck.

During one unit of swimming class, I had a gym teacher who insisted that every person start the class by jumping off the diving board. You might not know this, but I don't swim - or float - very well. Luckily, after a quick conversation with the teacher, I got to the root of this rule - he didn't want students trying to keep their hair dry all period - and I made a compromise whereby I would go to the shallow end of the pool and dunk my head under the water while everyone else showed off their amazing ability to float on the scary end of the pool.

My high school designated Tuesdays and Thursdays as cardio days. That meant that instead of having normal gym class, there were a bunch of different activities you could do for the period, such as running around the track, basketball, tennis when the weather was nice, rock climbing - really whatever sports they felt like setting up for that day. The basic premise was based on how many laps you ran during the official 12 minute run at the start of the semester - if you ran enough laps, you didn't have to do the cardio activity and could do another sport. If you didn't run enough laps, Tuesdays and Thursdays sucked.

I enjoyed running alright, even though I wasn't great at it, but through a series of events that, to be honest, I can't even remember how they got started, my friends and I campaigned to have DDR added as a cardio day event. The gym teacher coordinator even looked into getting some actual machines, but as you might guess, those were out for budgetary reasons. So he got some of the hard mats you can buy online and set up a time for a demonstration. Because I have such amazing DDR skillz, I got taken out of my 5th period class to go down to the gym and demonstrate DDR for faculty from both my school and others in the district.

It didn't make me nervous. This is what spending my weekends in the arcade had prepared me for - showing off for large groups of people who think I'm doing something awesome but don't actually know that there are so many people who are so much better than me.

But I enjoyed every moment of it. It was one of those rare times when I got  to show off a "skill" I had worked so hard on in a situation that I never thought would occur. I kept grinning like a happy maniac the entire time. Just relating that story puts a smile on my face - and a twitch into my feet.

Well, now I want to dance!

Just kidding. DDR is not dancing. But I'd still like to play a round.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Back to being unconfident

It's only taken me about two months, but I'm already feeling as though everything I type has been typed before somewhere else. So what the heck? I'm going to rehash a topic I've already talked about myself!

You might remember me talking about my undying need to prove myself via arbitrary rewards and I thought of another story in that same vein.

Maybe a few stories. Anyhow, I think this need is part of a larger picture - a blend of stubbornness and a ridiculous competitive streak.

For example, when I was in physics in high school, I had a pretty awesome teacher for half the year. This teacher balanced delicately between nerd and punk. Maybe mostly nerd and unintentional punk would be a better description. Regardless, his class was fun to go to and the experiments he had us do were always something amusing.

One day - I think it was around November because I was wearing this vivid pink sweater - I walked into the classroom for some first period physics and saw something that made my morning. There, in front of the lab section of the room was a large bed of nails on top of one of the lab tables. Without knowing it, my new goal in life (ok, for the morning anyhow) was to get to lie down on this uninviting surface.

It's like a TempurPedic except the exact opposite.

The chance came near the end of class. After a lecture that probably had something to do with why the nails wouldn't stab you if you were careful, the teacher called for any volunteers to give it a try.

I won't lie; my hand was in the air before he got his sentence out. No one else put their hand up. Some of the girls even looked apprehensive about the whole event.

"Danielle," my teacher said, looking at me - and my bright pink fluffy sweater, "I'd be afraid that your sweater would get caught."

My sweater was the least of my worries and I was very thankful that I had worn a t-shirt underneath because as he finished speaking, I called out, "No, I still want to try." I pulled off my sweater, ignored the way it messed up my ponytail and practically stood out of my seat. "Let me try!"

I knew that once someone went, more people would start volunteering and some part of my brain told me that if I didn't go first, other people might think that I was a copy cat.

The actual experience of lying down on a bed of nails is nothing very exciting. For boring reasons, there is not much chance of hurting yourself unless you sit up too fast or roll on your side or press your hand against a nail. It was almost like a bit of a massage.

It was awesome.

As predicted, many more people raised their hand and wanted to try it and I felt proud of myself for leading the way.

And now, looking back at it, I see the ridiculousness of it all.

But that didn't stop me several years ago when, in high school (of course) biology class, our project was breeding fruit flies with specific traits. If you've ever bred fruit flies or had fruit flies in class for whatever reason, you'll remember that they are typically kept in tubes with an oatmeal based food product (usually dyed a fantastic blue to provide a color contrast against which to easily view the flying bugs).

Pictured: Food-like substance. Kind of.

One day, after introducing new flies from one tube to new flies from another tube, we each had a fruit fly tube full of dead flies and fly food to clean out. The guys at the lab table behind me were daring one another to try the food.

"I'll give you twenty bucks," one said.

The other shook his head. "No way."

"I'll throw in five," said another.

This seemed to bring the pot to a number more suited to the one guy eating stale fly food and spurred my ridiculous competitive nature.

I turned to them and said, "Hey. Why waste your money on him? I'll do it for 10 bucks."

They looked at me like I was crazy and my lab partner looked at me like I was crazy. I shrugged. Ten dollars is ten dollars, I figured.

Sadly, the guys did not take me up on my offer. As far as I know, they did not end up paying the other guy to eat any either and this satisfied me; I felt as though I had accomplished a grand task.

Again, looking back, I'm not sure what the hell was ( wrong with me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blogging Through October

Well, the countdown to NaNoWriMo is officially out of the "month" category and into the "day" category, with a little over 28 days until I will be attempting to write a 50k word story about, well, I think vampires. So in order to get used to hitting the keyboard until words come out, I have promised myself that I will post every day this month.

I can't promise it will be pretty. Or coherent. And it might even be somewhat unrelevant. I might just write down words that have similar sounds like belligerent or intelligent or possibly malevolent and then try to figure out what connects those words. I feel like somehow, it will make me a better person.

Now I can't give away too much about my soon to be awesome novel that I will work on in November, except to say that it won't be a vampire romance - probably. My main character is going to be a biochemist though, I think, so I can almost guarantee the novel will be factually inaccurate. There will be time for fact checking later!

Also, I'm trying to think about the setting. I want it to be modern day so that biochemistry is a thing, but I feel like it might be cheating. So then I want to set it in a modern day style fantasy world but then I think that people would think that's cheating too. So it's a good thing I have at least 28 days to think about this, because I'm going to need them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bye bye weekend. It was good to know you!

The weekend is winding down and as I'm enjoying my evening watching Super Troopers, the voice at the back of my brain is reminding me that another work week is about to start up and that in less than 12 hours, I'll be back at my desk.

This annoys me. Not because I don't like my job - my job is decent and the people I work with are very nice. No, what annoys me is that my brain doesn't understand that I don't need to think about work at this moment. I could just enjoy the evening and the ridiculous movie and then go to sleep; I'd have a good evening and then a restful sleep and then go to work ready to kick butt - well, by kick butt I mean "do work appropriate and related activities" - and everything is perfect.

But no. My brain says "it is panic mode time. You have work in under 12 hours so you must start preparing from this minute forward. What will you wear this week? What will you bring for your lunches? Do you know where your cell phone charger is? Can you accurately predict everything that your manager will ask you to do tomorrow?"

This is probably why at least 75% of my Sunday night dreams involve me being late for work and desperately trying to get to work but being unable to get there.

Maybe that's a lie. It's probably closer to 90%.

This is probably also why when I worked part time, I preferred morning shifts to evening shifts - when I had an evening shift, the whole other part of my day was marred by knowing I had to go to work and worrying that I would be late and unprepared if I did anything like go to the mall or hang out with friends.

Originally this was supposed to be a rant about house buying shows where people are unsatisfied with kitchens because the appliances are black instead of stainless steel, but I guess that's going to be for another day, since all of my clocks are starting to look like kinda messed up and it's making it hard to concentrate and write.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

That one time I saw santa

About half a month ago, I had mentioned the wonderful upper peninsula of Michigan and how during my childhood, I had a lot of fond memories of snow and a lot of less fond memories about being sick and throwing more times than I care to count. Looking back on it now, I see that my parents were just doing the best they could to iron clad my immune system as a young child by exposing me to different strains of germs all year round. Thanks to them, I haven't thrown up in over six years because every time my body gets the flu or whatever, it laughs at how weak those germs are compared to the probably eight different flu strains I would fight off visiting my 25+ (at the time. This number has since gone up) cousins all those years back.

I paid for this superpower with somewhat less enjoyable Christmases my first half decade or so of life. I can say truthfully that I don't even remember most of those years, so it is totally a trade off I can agree with. Plus, one year I saw Santa and everything! Ok, no, that's a lie. I only saw Santa - not one single reindeer.

Before all of my siblings were born, my family used to go up to Michigan for Christmas a lot. This year, the year before my first brother was born, it was just me and my sister. We got up to Michigan a few days before Christmas, and I had a blast the first day, playing out in the snow outside until my mom deemed it necessary for me to come in and warm up my hands.

I was about three and I was tired from a long day of play, so I happily agreed to go inside. We were at my grandparent's house, which was a wonderfully old relic of the UP's copper mining days. The house wasn't big by any means - the first floor had a small kitchen, living room, sitting area and the only bathroom in the house (and did I mention that my mom grew up in this house with seven siblings? They knew the meaning of patience).

When you first entered the house, the entry way could lead straight through to the kitchen, you could turn right into the living room, or you could go up the steep, steep stairs that probably break some sort of building code these days. The first time I went up those stairs, I was so scared to go back down that my parents finally had to have me sit down and slide my way off each step to the next one.

That day, I went into the living room after shedding my snow-covered outerwear and sat down on the couch for a few minutes, thinking about what to do next. I heard my mom go down the short hallway to the kitchen.

And then The Feeling struck. You know? That awful feeling you get when your stomach decides that whatever it has inside it needs to come back up? The Feeling you get when your body lets you know that the next few moments are going to be less than pleasant for you.

I moved quickly. I went from the living room through the small sitting area to the other entrance of the kitchen, where my mom was sitting at the table with my grandma and dad, drinking hot chocolate.

"I don't feel good." I managed, and then threw up all over the linoleum.


That Christmas found me lying on the couch in the living room, wrapped up in my grandma's warm homemade blankets. I vaguely remembered that there was presents, and I tried to be excited for them, but I didn't have the strength to go to the tree and look. My mom brought me my present from under the tree, but even then, I found I didn't have the energy to open it, so she opened it for me and I kind of smiled at the toy but really I was just falling back asleep.

Several years later, when I found out that (spoiler alert) Santa is not real, I had this following conversation with my mom:

Me: Well I guess that makes sense, but there is an issue. I remember seeing Santa one year.

Mom: When was that?

Me: You know, when I was three or something and really sick, so I spent the night on the couch instead of upstairs. I kept waking up during the night and then one time, when I opened my eyes, I saw Santa putting presents under the tree. I remember the bright red outfit.

My mom looked confused and then laughed. She said, "You know how I own that red sweatshirt?"

I nodded. The "five star sweatshirt" was a favorite and my dad loved to say my mom wore it because she rated all five stars. The five star wife and mom.

"I had a pair of red sweatpants that I would wear too, and I was wearing those when we were up north that year. I hate to say it, but I think all you saw was me."

My mind worked to process this. Yes, it made sense that a fever-hazed brain would convert that image in such a way. It was a logical leap to be expecting Santa all in red and assuming anyone who wore red and put presents under the tree was therefore him. A little bit of magic seemed to silently drain away from the holiday, but it was quickly replaced by a realization.

"Does that mean that I can eat some of the cookies we leave out after everyone else goes to bed?!"

I have since inherited the red sweatshirt and though it is old and worn out, it's one of my favorite sweatshirts to wear during the holiday season.