As the survivor of a hate crime, I urge you all to call your US Representative TODAY and urge them to vot in favor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. (202) 224-3121.

That's Funny...

I was reading my book at lunch today when my sandwich arrived. I put my book down on the table upside down so that the back cover was facing up. I eat some of my sandwich and then something on the back of the book catches my eye...

"...son of Prince Charles's wife Camila..."

I immediately reach over and turn the book over, and I think to myself... Funny, he doesn't look like he is the son of a horse!?!

But yes the author of "A Year of Eating Dangerously," Tom Parker Bowles is the son of Camila Parker Bowles!

The Animals and the House

So it is a georgeous day here in Washington DC and we are keeping it pretty low key, we went to brunch this morning around 11, and then my friend from Boston who is playing down here this weekend (DJR) came over for a bit. We BBQ'd a late lunch and now we are just enjoying the evening out on the front patio. See like I said nothing too exciting. Oh yeah, and then we cleaned this morning.

So I wanted to post today for a few reasons, one... there is not much better to do other than read and blog on our front patio when it is 80 degrees, two... the Doctor is washing the car and I don't want to participate, and three... because I had the camera out today and we took some cute pictures of the animals and the house.

First off, the animals, as I am sure many of you know we have a lot of animals in the house, even without Tipsy (miss you fat girl) we still have 3 cats and one dog. The Doctor had two cats before we moved in together, I had two, and he had the dog. Now we have a combined family of four animals. We have Val, (full name Valentine) the white Cat who is the ruler of the roost much to Bob's chagrin as he truly enjoyed being the Alpha cat. When it was just him and Tipsy he could boss her around and do whatever he wanted. Now, he has a couple other cats he has to contend with (not to mention Annie). Then there is the Doctor's other cat Indiana. Indiana is the resident fat cat who loves to lay around the house all day and lounge in the sun without moving. And then there is my buddy Bob. Bob has been a little grumpier since his sister died and since he was forced into a home with three other animals. He is definitely the step child who has trouble adjusting. However, for the most part all three cats can live calmly in the house with very few disturbances.

And then there is Annie. Annie is a beagle mix who is adorable to look at but she is a bit hard to live with. She is a very hyper dog, who barks non-stop at anything moving, and in my opinion she is bipolar. She loves me and then she hates me. She will cuddle with me when she is happy and she has learned to weaponize her urine so she can pee on me from a distance when she is mad at me. But she is so darn cute to look at. We obviously love out animals here in the lovely house that I am about to talk about...

So the main focus of the house since the weather has started to get warm is the front patio. We just bought the grill, and the bistro set, and the Doctor wanted a water feature so we bought the fountain. We spend many evenings out in the front, enjoying the weather grilling, and having a glass or two of wine.

Inside the house we have a huge kitchen, and living room area. The house came with three TV's the one in the living room which is a 55" Sony TV, is amazing, especially since the house is wired with surround sound in all of the rooms. The other TV's we will get to in a second. The center focal area, where we are always entertaining is the kitchen island, which also came with the house, and it glows a soft blue hue in the dark. And yes, the Doctor forgot to put the shoes away when he took one of the pictures.

We have two bathrooms, which is very convenient because we have one for the cat food, and litter and another one for the humans. Our bathroom (the human one) is done up in blue and chocolate brown and is a very relaxing room. And here are where the other TV's come into play... each of the bathrooms has a flat screen TV that is hooked up to the cable and the surround sound. Crazy I know but we could never go back to not having one because it is a great way to get the news in the morning (yes I am serous).

One of the two bedrooms in the house belongs to the roomie, so we respected his privacy and didn't take any pictures, and the other one is our room. It is a very comfortable room, especially since the Doctor loves his pillows and there are about 300 on the bed. And of course another TV for me to all asleep to every night!

So that is our home, with our 4 animals and 3 people in two bedrooms, but it works and we love it!

Revenge: Practical Joke Style

Last week I was off on Friday, when I returned to work the following Monday my office had been redone. I was expecting it to be actually redone judging from the email I had received, but I was mistaken.

When I walked in my desk was surrounded, floor to ceiling, with cardboard framing success boxes that had a "gnome sized" door for me to get into my office. The boxes were beautifully decorated and I even had a welcome mat outside my front door. They had finally gotten me, since I am the one usually responsible for practical jokes, like when KE told me she was going to be late because she forgot her pants her entire office was full of pants she could have worn, like pink plaid pajama pants. Or moving JN's desk across the office, throwing her for a complete and total loop. It was funny to watch. I have had many others here and at other stores and many times they have gotten me. All in good fun, my favorite is when I returned from vacation at one of my stores and my desk was shrink wrapped and a large cutout of a crap was wearing one of my extra shirts and nametag hanging from the ceiling.

Anyway back to the point, everybody had been involved in this prank which meant that everybody was going to pay! Now a true practical joker knows when to strike, and I wanted to strike early so they think it has passed and in a few weeks I will get other participants when they least expect it!

So Tuesday night phase one of the strike began, I had 15 minutes in the office by myself, and my boss had already left. The time was right so I walked into her office, closed her door, and began flipping all of her furniture upside down, except for the chairs and then placing everything back on the upside down furniture exactly as it was. This created maximum impact with very little effort. It was actually funny as all you know what!

I left Tuesday night and couldn't wait to return on Wednesday morning for the reaction. Some people would not take it well but my boss loved it and knew she was in for it. She did mention that it was too soon, and that I should have waited!

Oh, I know I should have waited, and I am. I have plans! They may involve shrink wrap, duct tape, or even new springs for some of the doors!

Yes, I know I am evil!

People All Over

I have mentioned this before but I think it is really cool that people from all over the world read all of the silly things I have to say on a day to day basis. Sure I don't get a million hits a day like some of the big blogging folk, but I do have over 6000 hits (sad I know) and they have come from all over the map. Below are the places that people have clicked on my blog from...

United States (US) 1,521
United Kingdom (GB) 47
Canada (CA) 21
Australia (AU) 12
Czech Republic (CZ) 7
Germany (DE) 6
France (FR) 5
Netherlands (NL) 5
Mexico (MX) 4
China (CN) 4
Costa Rica (CR) 4- those are probably from when I was there
India (IN) 3
New Zealand (NZ) 3
Europe (EU) 2
Brazil (BR) 2
Portugal (PT) 2
Argentina (AR) 2
Finland (FI) 2
Poland (PL) 2
Denmark (DK) 2
Saudi Arabia (SA) 2
Slovenia (SI) 2
Greece (GR) 2
Sweden (SE) 2
Norway (NO) 1
Belgium (BE) 1
Ireland (IE) 1
Austria (AT) 1
Switzerland (CH) 1
Iran, Islamic Republic of (IR) 1
Netherlands Antilles (AN) 1
Taiwan (TW) 1
El Salvador (SV) 1
Colombia (CO) 1
Peru (PE) 1
Singapore (SG) 1
Kuwait (KW) 1
Egypt (EG) 1
Korea, Republic of (KR) 1
Turkey (TR) 1
Morocco (MA) 1
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (LY) 1
Jordan (JO) 1
Israel (IL) 1
Romania (RO) 1

Ok, so it may be a boring post, but I find it interesting, I wonder if I can find a way to double the clicks by next year. I already linked to my facebook page, I wonder what else I can do?

Cleaning the Grill Can Be Hazardous

We bought a grill a few weeks ago and since then we have become grilling fiends. Every night it seems rain or shine we are firing up the grill, and making dinner. Yesterday evening we were having a few people over and decided to make some meat and veggie skewers on the grill.

We uncover the grill, and being that it is the first time we have grilled in the daytime we notice that the grill is a little dirty. No worries, I will just light it up, leave it on high, and then scrape the grease off when it warms up. In the meantime I will go inside and help prepare the meal. (And by prepare I mean watch other people cook).

A little bit of time passes and I head out to the grill to start scraping, it is quite warm but there is still a bit of grease that needs to come off of the ceramic. I leave it on high and head back into the house. My next time out I look at the window and notice that there is a small crack at the bottom that I hadn't noticed before. By the time I walk around the corner four feet and outside the crack looks bigger. I quickly realized that the heat from the grill was the cause of the crack and damn the window was hot. The crack continued to spread all the way up the window and I can't cool it down fast enough.

I move the grill away but unfortunately the damage is done, the crack is getting bigger and there is no real way to glue glass back together. Lesson learned I guess, don't grill next to your window it can be hazardous to the window!

Love Spring Days Off

I am off today and for the next three days. I have to go back to work on Monday and it may be tough. My parents were supposed to come down today but my Dad had to work. So instead I am being lazy.

I started my day by driving the Doctor to work and then I came home, sat down, and watched the Today show. Now I am going to shower and then hit up the Diner with my book for some lunch. I may even bring Annie. Then I am going to do not much of anything. I do love my random Friday's off.

Tomorrow it looks like we may do another wine tour since the weather is going to be over 70.

Woohoo Spring!

The Angel's Game

Last week I finished reading The Angel's Game from one of my favorite authors and master storyteller Carlos Zafon. Zafon is the renowned author of The Shadow of the Wind. The The Angel�s Game is touted as "a dazzling new page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature and in love." I was so excited about this book that I called the publisher and requested the advanced readers copy. As soon as it arrived I jumped right into this amazing story.

The description provided by the publisher starts with the following quote from the books, a pure example as to why Zafon is such a beautiful and descriptive writer...

"The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that, when I opened those windows, its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets I could capture on paper and narrate to whomever cared to listen . . ."

The story begins with the protagonist as a young man, and progresses on. He starts out writing for a newspaper, then his own books. He buys a deserted mansion in center of Barcelona and in that house he struggles to write in the evenings deal with a love that can never happen. Then one day he gets a mysterious and lucrative offer.

David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed. He is to create a religion, the power of his words should be able to change hearts and minds. In return, he receives more than enough money to live off of, but as he begins to work on his "religion" he begins noticing connections between his book and the life he is living. There are "ghosts" surrounding him and haunting his life. In true Zafon fashion a tangled web of stories, characters and passions begin to come together. Zafon even weaves a web that contains elements of the Shadow of the Wind. At times you are not sure what will happen, and how these character will affect others. You are amazed at how certain characters meet there end, and how others trigger additional chaos.

And then you come to the end of the book, and it all comes together. I put it down and knew that I would need time to recover. A truly amazing story, heartbreaking, romantic, surreal, tragic, secrets, lies, murder and mayhem. Yet it is still a cleanly written and amazingly descriptive novel.

Zafon is a master, and the power of books is evident once again in The Angel's Game. Run out and buy in as soon as it comes out on June 16!

Mobile Post

I can apparently post things to my blog from my BlackBerry. How cool is that?!?

Beware, Hazards Ahead

This is a warning to anybody in the DC area, Never go to Giant Foods to go grocery shopping... especially if you are used to the upscale feel of the Harris Teeter.

Let me explain, it was Saturday evening and I had just returned from work. The Doctor and I needed to rent a carpet steamer because having 3 cats and a dog makes the light beige carpeting in the house very dirty. The only place that rented the carpet steamer was the Giant Foods in Columbia Heights. At first glance this looks like a fairly nice supermarket, and there isn't much wrong with the facilities per say, it is mainly the fact that it is too small for the onslaught of customers on a Saturday evening and the customers were all screaming, yelling, and crazy!

It was overwhelming with kids screaming and running all over the place and hurling produce at their parents. We knew from the moment we pulled up that we would be in and out as quickly as possible. We literally ran through the store and grabbed the items we needed while avoiding the other patrons. The Doctor ran ahead and got some stuff for brunch while I ran up to grab myself a beer, and Mr. NG went to buy the bacon for Easter brunch, I met up with NG while the Doctor went to get the carpet cleaner, we reviewed the list and realized that we still needed to buy OJ.

We head up the aisle that has the juices, I am walking straight ahead with my eyes scanning for my Tropicana (which is harder to recognize) and I spot it ahead of me. I turn to talk to NG and suddenly a five year old girl is sprinting down the aisle with her pink stroller ahead of her. She is about four feet ahead of me and I jump up to avoid her and end up in a freezer case, of course making a scene. The mother turns to me and looks at me like i am the one causing a problem. She completely ignores her child who running customers over ten feet down the aisle. I remove myself from the freezer case and go grab the orange juice, I put it in the carriage and we head towards checkout as quickly as possible.

We check out, still managing to spend $180, and run out the front door. We have never shopped that quickly, yet we were never quite as exhausted from shopping. I will never go to the Giant again, and I will always be scared of bright pink strollers!

"the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I ever had"

Okay, no I am not suicidal, that is a line from the song that Adam Lambert sang today on American Idol.

It is a sad and haunting song... I had never even heard it before but Adam killed it, he did an amazing job and I felt like I was watching a star being born, that was the moment of the season like Fantasia's "Summertime" that makes the American Idol.

All I have to say is Simon never gives a standing ovation... and he stood up... go Adam!

And The Vineyard Trips Resume

A favorite weekend activity of ours (the old married couple as S referred to us today) is to go to local vineyards and enjoy their wine tastings. This weekend the Doctor and I decided to do Northern Virgina's Wine Tour #3 in Leesburg VA. This tour consisted of four small local vineyards that ranged in the type of wine and style made.

The first Vineyard was our favorite, as it offered a wide variety of red wines, and dessert wines including a Black Raspberry Port which was amazing, and we bought despite it being $32.00 a bottle. This vineyard had a really nice setup, with individual tasting areas, very well educated hosts who knew a lot about the wine and a very comfortable feel. Many vineyards have a tasting room that consists of a shoulder high booth and a swarm of employees babbling. This vineyard was calm peaceful and enjoyable, and they had 7 cats so we didn't feel bad admitting we have 3.

While we are at this vineyard, which I picked from the group because I liked their labels the best, we picked up a map of the other vineyards and decided on a path to follow since there were 4 places located within the 6 mile radius on the one we had just visited. All three of these vineyards had different setups and different wines.

The second vineyard was our least favorite because it seemed very disorganized and we both felt that the wines were very light and almost lacking flavor. Vineyard three was fun because of the people that worked there. They came over had a conversation with us and knew quite a bit about wine, as a matter of fact that liked us so much they gave us a 25% discount on the wine we bought.

Vineyard four was voted the best vineyard/winery in Northern Virginia. We were holding out great hopes for this vineyard, the grounds were beautiful as we walked in, and the tasting room was very nice as well. We approach the counter and ask for two tastings and we were charged $21.00! Most tastings are about $3, $10.50 is a little excessive. Overall, the wines were okay here, especially if you like a dry red wine. But it was not worth the price.

After this vineyard, we snacked on some cheese and crackers and then made our way home to relax for an evening. I am looking forward to a few more trips like this over the summer, they always are a good time.