Thursday, November 30, 2006

buy our motherf***ing house

So here's the latest: we have a contract signed on our dream house, contingent upon the sale of our current home. We have even had the "new" house inspected, to the tune of about $700. So now there's more than potential disappointment on the line--we're talking cash here!

We had somebody come look at our house last week. Apparently they've now narrowed their search down to 2 or 3 homes, of which ours is one. They are coming back to see it again this weekend. A very good sign. Someone new is also supposed to be coming to take a look at the place tomorrow. So we are poised for things to move forward. I just knew that burying that Ned Flanders figurine in the houseplant would be the solution! I never did say anything special when I buried it, so let me make a public attempt here and now:
Hi-diddly-ho there, prospective home buyers! This charming cape has much to offer. Newly refinished wood flooring, a cheerful color scheme, lots of natural lighting, and the back closet barely smells like dead mouse anymore. Just about every room in the house has been blessed via Bacchanalian ritual, and you'll enjoy sorting through all the crap that we plan on leaving in the basement. And just so you know, we've never had any problems from the neighbors or from the previous owner, who died in the driveway. You won't mind if we dig up a few of the plants before we leave, will you? Okely-dokely then, do we have a deal?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the midwestern indoctrination continues

This year J was lucky enough to get the week of Thanksgiving off from work, so we road-tripped it from the east coast all the way back to Illinois to spend the week with my family. J is a brave man. Now, I've taken him back to my homeland before, so he knows all about the flatness, and the corn, and did I mention the flatness? This time he was lucky enough to be able to spend some time in downtown Chicago, but there was still something missing from his midwestern experience: he had never eaten at Steak & Shake.

What better meal to have the night before Thanksgiving than a big old Steak & Shake Frisco melt (the platter, of course) and a giant sippable sundae shake? That's what we thought, too.

After ravenously devouring everything on our table, we sat back to reflect on the experience. J turned to me and said, patting his belly, "Ugh, I feel like an engorged tick!"

My mother's jaw dropped open, and she fixed her eyes on us. "WHAT did he just say?!"

"Tick, mom, with a 'T'! He said he feels like an engorged TICK."

(P.S. You may have noticed the new look of the blog, and the new title. This is because I switched over to Blogger beta where I can actually understand what I'm doing when I edit the blog. Hope you don't mind the changes, but I bore easily. It's a wonder I kept it the same for so long!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It's on its new Macbook Pro, that is! If pigs in shit are really as happy as we're made to think, then call me Porky and roll me in a cow pattie. I've used Macs in the past, but never for personal use, so I am beyond excited.

We have made an offer on a house (contigent upon the sale of our house, though luckily the sellers are being nice enough to give us plenty of time; that wouldn't stop them, however, from taking another offer if it came along). But anyway, we are signing the official contract on Thursday. It's a rockin' house, a 1978 contemporary on 13.5 wooded acres. We're very excited about it, but I'm maintaining a realistic perspective. The market for selling our house is terrible, and a major employer just announced it was leaving our town. So things aren't poised to improve anytime soon. In lieu of burying a statue of St. Joseph upside down in the yard, I plan to devise a similar ritual involving a small, plastic Ned Flanders figurine...

To Jennifer: You commented recently asking what we went to Belize for, and I tried to reply to your comment but Blogger was being screwy and it didn't take and I was too lazy to get around to it again. But what I wanted to say was that more stories and pictures from this Belize trip are forthcoming, pending the arrival of the Macbook, but that in the meantime, I thought you might be most interested in something we did there last year. We visited a cave called Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre). To enter the cave, you must swim about 100 ft, and you remain in water ranging from ankle- to chest-deep for about 80% of the tour. There are no guardrails, no installed lighting. When you get to the part with the artifacts (after climbing a large, near-vertical ladder and squiggling your way through some pretty small tunnel-like areas), you walk in your socks and are careful not to step on pottery fragments. Or areas of crystallized bone. Visitors won't be able to experience the cave like this for long. It was an amazing experience!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

my first time (you betta Belize it!)

When we visited Belize for the first time last year, I was aware of its stature as one of the world's top sites for scuba diving. But with all the time and expense involved with planning a wedding, I wasn't able to get dive certified in time for the trip (J has been certified for years). Turned out not to matter too much--we stayed on an island where good snorkeling could be had right off the beach, and J had a cold and wouldn't have been able to dive anyhow.

But when we decided to return to Belize earlier this year, I was determined to be able to dive there and see what all the fuss was about. I completed the first half of a PADI Open Water Diver course (classroom and pool sessions) in one weekend here in CT. While the rest of the suckers in my class would complete the open water portion of the certification in a Pennsylvania quarry, I headed down to the warm waters of Belize, referral in hand.

To complete my Open Water Diver certification, I would have to do 4 dives in 2 days. When we arrived on Caye Caulker, we stopped by the Belize Diving Service office to shore up our plans for the next day's dives. The weather had been overcast and rainy since we'd been in Belize, but we were told that they'd probably still be going out the next day, and to show up around 9 am.

The next morning, I was nervous. Diving sounded like a lot of fun, and I was excited to explore life under the sea, but it's an activity not without its very real dangers. On top of that, my anxiety was increased because of the fact that I had lied about one small item on my medical form, and had been advised not to dive by my neurologist but decided to take my chances (I'll save the details for another post, but in the meantime don't be's a migraine-related problem).

So anyway, having demonstrated that I knew how to assemble my gear, we (me, some other referral students, as well as a group of certified divers) got on the boat and headed off to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, about a 40 minute boat ride. The sky was still darkish, and there was intermittent rain. The water was choppy, and most everyone on the boat was keeping an eye on the horizon in an effort to ward off seasickness. Until recently, I have been immune to any kind of motion sickness. Maybe it's related to the onset of the migraine problem, but I've noticed that I'm a bit more sensitive to it these days. So needless to say, I was trying really hard to hold it together on the boat. I'd been assured that any seasickness would disappear once I got under the water, so I geared up and fell backwards over the side of the boat, ready for my first dive experience.

We descended slowly, but the abundance of the sea life was immediately apparent. Fish were everywhere, we didn't have to go very deep to see beautiful coral formations, and we even saw a group of nurse sharks. The problem was, I still felt pretty damned queasy. I had not been instructed on the finer points of retching underwater while trying to breathe from a tank, and I really didn't want to find out how well that would work. I breathed as calmly and steadily as possible, and tried to enjoy my first dive.

After about 35 minutes, we made our way to the surface, and within seconds of my head hitting air, the contents of my stomach were being gobbled up by a group of fish who had quickly found their way to my special floating buffet. J came up below me, so he got a nice view of this scene. A few more hurls in the rough water, and I got back into the boat. We had to wait an hour before diving again, an hour which I spent sitting silently, trying to calm my stomach. After one more fish-feeding session over the side of the boat, it was time to dive again. I felt better during the second dive than during the first, but once again, upon hitting the surface, the heaving began. This time, there wasn't much left...nothing the fish were particularly interested in, anyway.

We returned to the island around 3:30, and I didn't feel normal again until about 8 that night. Determined to finish my certification, I loaded up on Dramamine and showed up at the dive shop again the next morning. The other students were impressed at my tenacity and resilience, but no way was I going home with the damn thing half-finished (no quarry dives for me!).

The second day of diving was a completely different experience. We had better weather (and thus no choppy boat ride), and I think Dramamine is a miracle drug (I'd never tried it before). Unlike the end of the first day, by the end of the second I was already thinking about when I'd get to dive again.

Just call me Jacqueline Cousteau:

*Note: The whole crew at Belize Diving Service, including my instructor Ines, were awesome, and I would highly recommend them if you're ever on Caye Caulker and want to dive.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

you betta Belize it!

Returned late last night from a too-short return trip to Belize. I'll have stories and a few pictures to share over the next day or so, but first I wanted to share my excitement over a few pieces of news that broke just as we returned to the States:

1. Democrats take back the House, and may still yet gain control of the Senate, depending on the outcome in Virginia. We were glued to CNN at the Miami aiport last night, and again at home from about 2 to 4 am, and again upon waking this morning. I kind of missed being around for the full coverage, but I'm not sorry I missed the final week of campaign ads. (We'd already voted absentee weeks ago, no worries!) I hope the rest of the world can really see now that the American people are as fed up with this administration as they are. I just hope the election results amount to something, and that we can really see some big changes being made. Yes, we've got to change course in Iraq, but it's equally important that we fix healthcare and education here at home, and, yeah, raising the minimum wage would be nice too.

2. Britney files for divorce from K-Fed!! Here's where you can see that I'm a well-rounded person with a wide array of interests. I'm the first to admit that I enjoy some celeb gossip now and then, and I have to say I really had given up hope on Britney (not that I ever held her in especially high regard). But ever since she married that idiot, I just figured she was more comfortable reverting to her "country" (as she puts it) ways, popping out babies, eating Cheetos and putting up with all kinds of shit from a loser husband who was just milking her for everything he could get. But now she's actually leaving him, and now I can take solace in the fact that even the most seemingly hopeless cases can grow a spine and walk away from that kind of crap, maybe even with a little bit of dignity.

3. Back to the important stuff. Rumsfeld FINALLY resigned today, and it's about friggin' time. Seems to me they were waiting for the election results to make the final decision, because you know the Dems are going to launch some big bad investigations now, and Rummy doesn't want to be around to take the heat directly. If only we could get rid of Cheney and impeach Bush...but I'll take what I can get for now.