Monday, August 30, 2010

Starry Night

I'm a hurricane tracker!!

Not officially, I don't have my own little farty plane that flies into the eye of the storm (which would be AWESOME), but I'm very interested in the weather.

It's true! I'm really nerdy about it. My mum thought I was a little weirdo, because most kids watched the Flintstones while they were eating their breakfast, getting ready for school.

I lay on the couch watching the Weather Channel till the last possible second I had to get dressed and walk the 5 minutes to school.

When you look at the Atlantic map on the National Hurricane Center Website, it's very artsy and swirly. Like the brushstrokes of a Van Gogh painting.

Chuck thinks I'm tempting fate and a hurricane will crash down on us and wipe us out by even looking at that website. When I give him a tropical storm update, he looks like he has the urge to go put on hip-waders.

Chuck's been through a few crazy hurricanes. I sometimes wonder why he bothered to stay in Coastal NC if he's so freaked out by them.

When Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, I had just come back to Canada from visiting Chuck. My grandpa was dying of lung cancer, so my brother Kurt and I trekked up to Northern Saskatchewan from Edmonton to hold vigil with my mum and the rest of my extended family.

I remember sitting in my grandma's living room, my grandpa there in a hospital-type bed...watching all the horrific events unfolding on the news because all we could do was wait and watch TV. It was like a movie, but it was real. Surreal. I don't mean at all to make light of the damage hurricanes can do, I'm just very interested in how they work.

In Edmonton, the worst things we had to worry about weather-wise were tornadoes and blizzards.

Tornadoes didn't happen very often in the city. The worst one on record was July 31, 1987...I didn't have to even look that date up because it was so infamous in Edmonton history. I was six, being the flower-girl in my uncle's out of town wedding at the time. My dad and my two older brothers were home though, and watched the whole thing from the outskirts of Edmonton. Luckily it didn't harm them.

Snowstorms were par for the course, they were bad every year. You kind of just got used to digging yourself out of your driveway so that you could get to work.

Did you know that a hurricane is unlikely to affect land west of Bermuda if it forms east of 35 degrees longitude?? No?? Well, there you are, you just learned something.

Danielle passed us by, but we may or may not get affected by the edges of Hurricane Earl. Wind? Rain? Nothing? Tomorrow we'll get a better picture of where it'll hit exactly.

Weather is fascinating. And meterologists on the news are always the weirdest people on the program. Perfect fit for me!!

*sigh* ...Just a bookseller with a dream. A crazy weather dream.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't You Mind People Grinnin' In Your Face

A few days ago I was in the drugstore, buying saline solution and insoles for my shoes.

I'm a contact lens wearer, and I like my feet to be comfy and odor-free. As any reasonable person would be.

I had just had some lunch, and I was enjoying my morning off before yet another grueling night at work.

I walked up to the counter to pay for my items, and there was an older man up there ringing up purchases. I was wearing a shirt that said 'Old Navy' on it, and he mumbled some comment about it. I couldn't really understand what he was saying, but I supposed he was trying to be friendly, so I nodded and smiled as he rung up my purchase.

He then intelligably said, 'You must be a Marine wife.'

Understandable mistake, almost every woman in this town is a Marine wife or Marine daughter. I smiled and told him no, my husband was not a Marine. Even though I had no idea what that had to do with my t-shirt.

He said with a voice full of pity, 'Oh, that's too bad.'

WTF is that supposed to mean, right?

Since you don't live in this area, I'll tell you exactly what it means. The old man looked at me, and saw a relatively young woman and assumed I was married to a relatively young man.

When I said my husband wasn't a Marine, he assumed my husband was a relatively young man that should stop being a pussy and join the service to fight for his country. I know that he was inferring this because I'd had a similar conversation before with another retired Marine.

In that conversation (which started in the same way), I had to explain that my husband is 48 and has already voluntarily done his time in the Marines, oh, in the late 70's to early 80's. That he's now too old to even be drafted. Not to mention he only has a-lung-and-a-stump. That always gets me a bulging eye stare and another question as to how old I am.

I feel like I shouldn't have to explain this every time!

Instant day ruiner. I'll be minding my own business, going about my day. And someone will say something stupid that just makes me want to bitch slap them.

Should stupid things that people say ruin my day? Probably not. I let this one go, and let the old man think what he thinks. Because I just get tired of explaining. At least it gives me something to talk about at the dinner table, and on this blog.

Stupidity doesn't just extend to other people. I've been guilty of saying something that I didn't think about first. Usually it's just some innuendo in the wrong company.

Or the one time I said the *cough*c-word*cough* too loudly in conversation with Chuck and another guy at a party. There just happened to be a lull in the loud background noise. All the women in the room turned to glare at me with angry-laser-eyes (by c-word I don't mean 'cancer' or 'courgettes'...or 'cough' for that matter).

Hey, the only people I hung out with before that were fresh-off-the-boat, Gaelic Football playing Irish guys. They ubiquitously used the c-word as 'hello,' 'goodbye,' and 'I love you, man'. I became immune.

Why don't we as humans just shut up before we put our collective feet in our collective mouths? My friend Bub has written a couple of blog posts about that very topic, most recently this one.

This last Christmas season, I was very busy helping customers check out. The next person in line had their back turned, talking to his girlfriend/wife. They had their infant child with them in a stroller. I caught a snippet of their conversation with the people behind them, in which they were discussing the age of their new baby.

'Sir? I can help you now, ' I said.

He turned around, and I saw that he was a she. I think it was an understandable mistake. This person was stout, wearing man's clothes, man's rings, a very short haircut and had a passibly mannish voice. All of which didn't quite cover up the fact that she was a woman. Of course I didn't think, and just started talking.

'Oh, I'm so sorry!' said I.

'Oh, no, don't worry about it! I'm completely not offended,' said she.

What I said next should have been this:

'Oh, ok, I'm glad. Did you find everything you were looking for today?'

Instead of that, I just kept on saying stupid shit. I think my feet taste pretty damn good. Pour some ketchup over those bitches.

I replied,'You know, my husband has long hair, and people will sometimes mistake him for a woman if they're not looking too closely and call him ma'am. He hates that!' *laughing a little too loudly and wildly*

She was really very nice, and said again not to worry about it. Her girlfriend/wife was looking at me like I was an idiot.

And I felt like one, because then I thought...what if she's not just a lesbian, but really trying to live as a man? I felt terrible that I didn't just mistake her as a man! That's a long, tough process to go through. I don't want to set anyone back or hurt anyone's feelings!!

Yes, this is the way my brain works.

Because I've had my feelings hurt a few times by well-meaning people. The worst is when people feel the need to congratulate me on the upcoming birth of my baby.

What's that, Dear Readers? You didn't know I was pregnant?

Exactly. This actually happens to me frequently, more frequently than I'd like. I know I'm a bit chunky, but I don't feel like I look pregnant fat!

Usually it will be a man that makes this mistake, and I try to be understanding and not take it to heart. The last time this happened, it was a woman.

When I told her I wasn't pregnant, she said 'Oh, well don't worry. I love to eat too!'

I wanted to cry and hit her at the same time.

Kyna's Public Service Announcement For The Year #2:

Unless you have your head between a woman's legs in the delivery room, getting ready to catch a kid...scissors in one hand, celebratory cigar in the other... DO NOT congratulate a woman on her pregnancy before she mentions it herself. It might get you a knuckle sandwich. And after she's done hitting you, she'll go eat a sandwich. A big one. Because you've just ruined her self-esteem. And you should feel really bad about it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Are You Listening To? Wednesday

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are one of my new favourite bands.

I came across this CD when it was an in-store play earlier this year. It has the reputation of being one of the most hated CD's we've ever had playing at Barnes & Noble (the most hated being the 'Mamma Mia' soundtrack). I would actually have my co-workers calling me up and asking me to change it ASAP.

I, on the other hand, LOVE it. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea. I won't be offended if you tell me you hate it, by all means do. I bet 90% of you will.

But listen to the woman sing! She has a beautiful, powerful voice...she can sing her ASS off. Like, her ass actually falls off, gets on a stool next to her, picks up a banjo, and starts playing.

'Hit 'Em Up Style' really caught my attention. The lyrics are awesome. Look at that chick go on the violin!

If you don't like bluegrass, I don't think you'll like 'Cornbread and Butterbeans' at all. But I'm going to include it anyway just in case you do.

Notice how they switch instruments. The three musicians play about 4 or five instruments each. They call come from very musical backgrounds. The beat-boxing dude's mother was an opera singer and a cellist, and his sister plays the piano.

This video is a six minute mini-documentary about how the three young black musicians all met and came to play this kind of music together. Cool to hear where their influences came from, what their backgrounds are like. They're very interesting people.

I'm passionate about this versatile band. This partcular CD has bluegrass, celtic, folk, jazz, and blues tunes on it. I've hand-sold a lot of them at the store.

They're playing in Durham in Septemeber, at Duke University. I'd really love to attend, and I'm hoping Chuck and I will make a last minute decision and just go. Depends on work. Damn work. ;)

Monday, August 23, 2010

If You Got A Gal Bring 'Er, And We'll All Have A Humdinger

Not feeling particularly cheerful today. So I'm going to take a short commercial break before I get back to your regularly scheduled hilarity.

Took some photos a few nights ago just before some major thunderstorms hit.

It got very dark, very quickly. Clouds were way more ominous looking than I could capture with my camera. And most of the photos looked hazy, because the lens fogged up as soon as I brought the camera out of the house.

I was kind of irritated about that, but on my way back in the house, I noticed increased hummingbird activity at the nectar feeder. If I stood really still, they seemed to not care that I was standing right there.

I'd never taken a hummingbird photo before, because I could never get close enough and be fast enough to capture it with the camera that I have. So if you're wondering, 'Why is she taking pictures in the dark??' it's because I was excited. And I don't think they turned out too badly. The lens had gotten used to the temperature in time.

These are my favourites:

Can see the bright red throat shining!

I think they're cute when they just perch there.

Then I had to go inside because it started pouring. It's been raining a lot this week, which is good because we need it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wet T-Shirt Contest!

I don't know if it's from the humidity or what, but all of the houses in southeastern NC have this ugly, gray-green gunge all over their north sides.

It's a bitch.

It doesn't come off with any old garden hose spray. You have to pressure-wash that crap off.

Last weekend, I had 4 days off. And one of those days I was feeling particularly ambitious. Chuck had just finished mowing the lawn, and I had prettied up my gardens (as best I could, anyway). We were admiring our work, and I got to thinking about how bad the north side looked.

'Let's pressure wash!' said I.

We actually own one of those babies. Because this operation has to be done once a year at least. Although if you drive through our rural neighbourhood, you can see that most people don't. Which looks terrible. I guess if you have a toilet sitting on your front lawn, no one's going to notice your siding mold.

Here comes the hot wet t-shirt action!!

Are you ready??

Shameless, isn't he? Wearing a white shirt that he knows is going to become transparent!!

I, on the other hand...

...was foresighted enough to wear a black t-shirt. I didn't want to get the whole neighbourhood in an uproar.

Not only did I get all the back spray, but there's also a small leak where the hose connects to the gun. Chuck said the seal's cracked. Which means a steady stream of water running down my arms, through my bra, down my shorts, and eventually working it's way down to puddle in my shoes.

But it was hot as a bastard outside, so it felt kinda good :) And now my house is clean!

We did see this cute little thing sitting on my sad, sad looking hydrangea.

Power-washing makes me feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Except I'm not Republican.

My accent is cuter.

And I don't grope people.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

'What Are You Listening To?' Wednesday

Not only is music my business, but it's also my pleasure.

Met Chuck on a Led Zeppelin message board. Many of my friends are so super-knowledgeable about music that they put me to Shame (with a capital S) x 1000.

Anyway, on Wednesday (well some Wednesdays, it may not happen every week if I'm feeling particularly lazy) I'll feature what I'm listening to. Just because I like it and want to show it to you.

I'd also be tickled (please don't really tickle me, I hate that) if you'd tell me what you're listening to these days. Unless you're into stony silence and in that case I feel kind of bad for you.

Or you can just listen to two seconds of what I've posted and feck off to do something more important because you were hoping I'd have posted pictures of petunias and on top of that you don't like my taste in music.

Which is ok! I forgive you!

I've never been good with Wordless Wednesdays. I just can't shut the hell up. This is a better way to go for me.

So this week it's...Mumford & Sons!

One of my friends posted this video on Facebook a few months ago, and then I rediscovered them when their CD was an in-store play in my music department. Barnes & Noble likes to promote new artists.

Mumford & Sons was formed in London in 2007. 'Little Lion Man' got left off our promo CD unfortunately, and you'll see why.

Great song. Great band. Most clever use of the word 'fuck' worked into lyrics without sounding gratuitious or trashy.

I'd really love to see them play live. Apparently they really rock it out in concert.

Anyway, check 'em out :)

What are you listening to?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Someone Told Me There's a Girl Out There, With Love in Her Eyes and Flowers in Her Hair..."

My 'Muskogee' crepe myrtle is shedding.

Yay for exfoliating bark!

I'm glad something's going right with it. It doesn't seem to want to bloom for me. Last year I thought it wouldn't bloom at all, and it finally coughed out two panicles in August. This year, I don't even think it has a sniffle.

I have bloom envy! All I get is sparse flowering and everyone else's tree is loaded with blooms. I guess that's what a balding man feels like.

Speaking of bald...

I started losing my hair once. It was not too long after I moved down to North Carolina.

It was making me really sad and self-conscious. It was all thin around my temples, and on the top...

Luckily my hair was short-ish at the time, so I could cover it up better than if it was long.

No, not with a comb-over!


Coincidentally...this was around the same time that Chuck was going through intense rounds of chemo. He had to go 4 times, once every 3 weeks or so. They'd hook him up for 5 hours at a time.

Each time he'd feel all right that day (and snarf down dinner at the Kentucky Fried Chicken near the hospital), then wake up in the morning in terrible pain (which was not the fault of the KFC). He didn't start feeling nauseous until near the last chemo treatment, but his joint pain was colossal throughout the whole thing.

I'd never seen someone in so much pain before dealing with this cancer shit. It was horrible. And I couldn't do anything for him. The person I loved more than anything. Look up 'helpless' in the dictionary. It grew me up in a hurry.

After 3 or so days of his joints feeling like ground glass, Chuck would start to feel a bit better. After a week or two, he'd feel almost normal again. Then it would begin all over again with the next treatment.

His hair started falling out a couple of weeks after the first treatment. I shaved his head in the garage when we knew that it was time to do so. That was surreal, let me tell you.

Chuck had pretty long hair when he went into all this. I think the chemo nurses were a little sad to see it go. I told ya, Chuck's a charmer! :)

We took this after he got his staples out, before his hair started going.

And this was taken a few minutes after I shaved his head. His younger daughter was over for a visit, and I think she was really freaked out. I was freaked out.

Now, I have a lot of common sense. It's one of the things I take pride in. Why would I not put two and two together in why I was losing my own hair?

During Chuck's chemo treatments.

Oncologist never warned us. Guess she underestimated his level of friskiness. He was a 44-year-old man who'd just had his lung removed a month earlier, undergoing intense chemo whilst worrying about whether he was going to live or not.

Chuckles was also a sexually healthy 44-year-old man who hadn't been with his [*cough*gorgeous*cough*] 24-year-old Canadian girlfriend in 3 months. And then had his lung out, like I add on another month.

Hey, even I underestimated his level of friskiness.

Interesting, huh? You can 'catch' chemo. Which makes sense, because after all, chemo is poison and doesn't discriminate.

Here's my public service announcement for the year:

Sex with a chemo patient will cause hair loss. Use protection. Oh, and don't smoke. You'll lose a lung.

Did I really start this conversation off with crepe myrtles?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Blog Feature Friday~ I'd Like To Hold a Tarantula

Look at me. I actually have a meme!

I think.

Once in awhile when I get into doing something new on the internet, I'll see words thrown around that I've got to look up to make sure I'm understanding properly. Meme is one of those.

I used to write Lord of the Rings fanfiction, and when I first got into it, I had to look up slash fiction. I was in for a whole world of delicious.

Yep, I was into gay Hobbit porn.

I've been a fan of Tolkien since I was a kid. Some girls have a 'tramp stamp' tattoo on their lower backs. I have a 'nerd stamp':

I designed it myself, which I'm kind of proud of. When I tell people I have an Elvish tattoo, they always give me incredulous looks.

"You have an Elvis tattoo on your back???" O_O

I'm not good with this meme thing, so I'm proud that this is my third Blog Feature Friday in a row!

You MUST check out Bub @ I'd Like To Hold a Tarantula.

She hails from England, and has a very cool point of view on life and the people that move through hers.

She's up front about everything, and has a sense of humour that floats my goat.

Her husband died of cancer recently, and much of her blog is centered around dealing with it. Her post "15 Things Not To Say" is very informative. If you've ever felt the urge to say any of these things to a bereaved person, get that foot out of your mouth right now and take these to heart.

Bub makes an every day event into an adventure. She juggles fending off the advances of the annoyingly persistant Widower...

...with the horrors of cleaning up her grown daughter's room, which she affectionately dubs The Pit.

There is even a post offering warning to anyone thinking of joining the Mile High Club.

She's an excellent storyteller. She candidly takes us through her life with hilarity, sadness, anger and not a little incredulity and profanity. Her blog is honest, and I respect that in a writer.

I started at the beginning and read all of her posts on one of my days off, but if you don't have the time right this moment, at least read the first few before you move on to the newer ones.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guess Who Found The "Fireworks" Function On Her Camera?

You get one guess.

And if you say "Yer Mom", you get a shot to the kidneys.

Reminds me of those 'electricity globes', where if you put your fingers to the surface of the globe, the 'lightning' follows your fingers.

These were taken after a Kinston Indians baseball game. I feel like I've been mentioning them a lot in my last few blog posts.

Which is funny, because I wouldn't say I'm hugely into baseball. It's not really ingrained into Canadian society like it is in the States (if you're a Canadian that IS into baseball, my apologies, please don't hit me with your flaming bat).

But I always have a great time at these games. Stadium food that's deliciously bad for you, cheap tickets, and some REALLY fun people watching. There's always something happening, even when there's nothing going in on the field.


A waitress dropped full tray of open soft drinks in the stands during this game...felt bad for her, but it was exciting nonetheless. I knew it was going to happen...the arm that was holding up the heavy tray was quivering like the heaving bosom of a romance novel heroine.

This was before she climbed up the 15 or so steps.

Aaaand..... *SPLOOSH!*

An old lady at the bottom's purse got totally soaked. You should have seen the disgusted look on her face. Sort of a Queen Victoria "We are NOT amused" face.

Gave us something to talk about in between pitches.

Even better, we were there with about 20 of Chuck's friends. One of which was trying to hit on the attractive local TV news anchorwoman, who was also attending the game. She was very nice, very cordial, she was there with her man and a few friends (and anchorpeople) from work.

Chuck (who I think has a tiny crush on her) got to speak to her whilst he was making a trip to the bathroom in between beers. When he came back 40 minutes later he had some 'splainin' to do. ;)

At the end of the game, as the attractive news anchorwoman was walking away to her car with her friends, Chuck's very hammered friend (who I think would have hit on a coat-stand at this point in the evening), leaned backwards and upside-down off a lamp post, his legs clamped around the pole stripper-style, and yelled, "Ditch the zero, and get with a hero!!"

Awesome. I live for moments like that.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sex In A Loaf Pan

I'm really weird about my bananas (not that weird, get yer minds outta the gutter).

I like them really really unripened, they've gotta be a little green at the very least.

Which means I only buy 3 bananas at a time, because I can never eat them fast enough. After a couple of days I can't bear to eat them.

Overripe bananas = gack!!!

I know, I know, very wasteful. And I feel so horrible about it. There's all those starving teenagers in Hawaii.

Or was that Malawi? I get my 'wi's mixed up.

Here's the recipe I found for Sex Bread, er Banana Bread, which saved me from throwing out yet more banana casualties. One of my Facebook buddies asked for it, and I thought I'd share it with the masses.

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 tbsp room temperature butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup toasted chopped walnut (optional)

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess. Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl to aerate and break up any lumps. Set aside.

Place sugar, eggs, oil, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Add bananas, sour cream and walnuts. Mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

Turn batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, the top is golden brown, and the bread is pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the perimeter of the pan, invert to release the bread, and cool completely on the wire rack before serving.

This banana bread was a lot heavier than some others I've eaten, but it was friggin' delicious.

I hope it looks that way to you. One of my friends saw that pic on FB and asked if it was meatloaf lol.