Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009 Draws to a Close

Well, it was another wonderful Christmas, and I'm so thankful for the things we were able to give to our families as well as grateful for the thoughtful gifts we received from them. Among other things, we have a near-fully furnished kitchen thanks to John's family. I have all new pots and pans, a tea kettle, and a coffee pot from the Paula Deen collection! Finally, a totally non-stick cooking set! John got me a beautiful sweater, earrings, and a CD I've been craving. I got him some books, a movie, a calendar for work, and a flat screen monitor for his computer. From my family we got gift cards to restaurants, clothes, books and movies. Also, as an engagement gift from John's aunt and uncle we got a cake serving set to use at our wedding. : ) Hooray!

Hammy made out pretty darn good, too! We bought him a new feather fishing pole toy since his old one had like one feather left and it was just sad. He also got a pack of jingly balls and mice from John's sister, as well as two fishing pole toys, one with ribbons (which he is currently obsessed with!) and one with feathers that we'll probably use once he destroys his other feather game. This Thursday is his second birthday, too! I can't believe we've had him for over a year, and that he'll be two already. Oh that kitten. : )

The kitchen sets remain in their boxes, though, cuz I figure since we're moving next month (actually, in about three weeks--gulp!), I'll just unpack them then and get rid of the hand-me-downs we've been using for the last year-plus. Yes, folks we're moving! We'll still be in B-town, but in a new complex about a half mile down the road we're currently on. We'll have hardwood floors, two bedrooms, cheaper rent, and better utility access, namely laundry! It'll be great, and I we're very eager to get settled in there. I'm not really looking forward to packing everything up, but we'll also be getting a rather large storage unit in the basement there, so we can declutter the living space by having an actual home office as well as putting things unnecessary for daily life in the storage unit. Score! If anyone needs our new address, let me know and I'll get it to you.

So hopefully there are good things ahead in 2010 for the Riggi-Egan clan. I can't wait to watch Hammy explore our new home, and I'm hoping the fresh start will keep the good karma flowing.

Until next time, I hope the remainder of 2009 is kind to you. Cheers!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Great Blizzard of 2009!

Lots of coverage of Bordentown's big blizzard! I asked for it, and I sure got it! I love every inch of it. It's been a long time since we've had any sort of real snowstorm, and Saturday's totals were more than all of last winter combined for the area! Now that's what I call a good snow day.

John begins shoveling a path as the snow tapers off Saturday night.

Pretty streetlight with icicles and falling snow.

Giant mound from the snowplow's multiple sweeps of the parking lot!


We also introduced Hammy to the snow. Since I don't have a harness and leash for him yet, we brought some snow inside and let him explore.

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We finally ventured out this morning to begin excavations and see what total damage was wrought...

Snow-capped recycling bins.

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John: King of the Mountain!


Badass icicle that fell from the lamp post. I could stake an ice vampire with this!

Our backyard.

The snow packed around my car so tightly that my bumper and license plate got imprinted!


Happy!

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Hope you all had a safe, warm, and snowy weekend! Stay tuned for more as Christmas comes ever closer. Dare I say it may be a white one?!??!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Has Come to Bordentown

Some pictures from our holiday preparations:

What you see first upon coming in the door.

Yay! Little tree!
Dining room.


Dining room table centerpiece.

Kitten likes to remind us he's a gift every day. haha

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Give Thanks

This year, as always, I am aware of how much I have in my life for which to give thanks. Here is a short list of things I can rattle off:

1. I am thankful for my family, who are always the first people to rush to support me, who listen even if they don't have time, and who have always not only understood that I operate a little differently, but appreciated me for it.
2. I am thankful for John, who has felt like family pretty much from the get-go. I am thankful for all we've experienced together, and look forward to all the things ahead of us.
3. I am thankful for John's family, who have made me feel welcome since day 1. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of in-laws.
4. I am thankful for my amazing group of friends. Many smiles behind, many smiles still ahead.
5. I am thankful for my kitten. I'm pretty sure it was destiny that we found each other...he is exactly the kind of cat I dreamed of having.
6. I am thankful for laughter, and for things like this:



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. : )

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

W O W !


Saturday November 14: on our 4 year and 9 month anniversary, John got down on one knee in Central Park, and asked me to marry him. I obviously said yes. : ) Highlights of sharing the news:

1. Calling my mom and avoiding the topic until I was about to burst, and hearing her scream.

2. Telling John's younger sister, who had no idea. A brief recap:

Me: Hey, your brother did something silly today.

Her: Uh oh, what'd he do?

Me: Well, we went to Central Park, and he asked me to marry him.

Her: ::high-pitched scream::

Me: And then I did something silly, cuz I said yes.

Her: ::silence:: screaming, JOHN ASKED MAUREEN TO MARRY HIM! ::silence:: AND SHE SAID YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was absolutely my favorite moment.

3. Listening to John's aunt fumble as she tried to figure out how to put us on speakerphone. Eventually, she gave up and just turned the volume all the way up and made everyone gather around the phone.

In more good news, the artists' reception for the Medford Arts Council is this Thursday night. It'll come at a good time because today was a rough day as far as job hunting, so an evening of validation will be good.

Stay tuned for more pics.

Monday, November 9, 2009

In a Time of Professional Crisis, Personal Triumph

So this is about a week delayed, but better late than...well, you know.

Last week I went to the mailbox, a usually unexciting chore considering we usually get an assortment of mail for people who no longer live here, useless ads, and bills. We are seriously lacking in interesting correspondence. So imagine my surpirse when I opened the box last Wednesday and was greeted with only two items: a postcard solicitation from an insurance company for John, and an envelope from the Medford Arts Council addressed to me. I stared at it for a minute, and then ran upstairs to tear it open.

The envelope had two things in it: an invitation and a folded-up letter. First I looked at the invitation--it was shiny and pretty. It was for the artists' reception and reading from the poetry contest I had entered. In my excitement, I only half-read the invite, and judging by the front assumed the reading was going to be held at Braddock's in Medford, which looked rather swanky. After I calmed down a bit, though, I read that the reception was actually the Medford Arts building, and assumed the picture was one of the winning photographs from the contest run along with the poetry one. Once I opened the letter, I saw that I had won not only first place, but third as well! The poetry contest only awarded first, second, and third place, and it literally made me laugh out loud when I realized I dominated 2/3 of the prizes...I never expected to win let alone win twice. What impressed me even more was that 53 poets from Burlington County had entered, and between the 53 of us there were 135 entries...and I had won twice. Aside from excitement, what I felt was a classic Maureen-ism: discomfort.

I am really bad at accepting praise, and am even worse at believing I deserve that praise. I was mentioning this to Tara, who told me about an article she had read about how it's not uncommon for women to underestimate themselves, and then to make excuses for and to undersell their achievements. I can't say I know that to be true of other women, but it's definitely true of myself. When I succeed at something, I automatically assume it was because I was just the best pick based on what must have been sub-par competition. Call it the getting-picked-last-in-gym syndrome. But now that I think about it, I'm not only selling myself short when I make that ssumption, I really undermine the people with whom I am in competition. I don't know why it's so hard for me to value myself and my work, but I do know that the pieces I submitted were pieces I felt good about, I was proud of, and that I thought had a real shot at winning.

And this couldn't have happened at a better time, just when I was getting really frustrated with my job search and when I was getting depressed about being out of work. What I've told people about the poetry contest is that I feel validated as a human being. My job wasn't who I am, wasn't what makes me a passionate person. It was what I did to pay the bills. But writing is who I am. It's pretty much how I define myself, and how I want to be presented to the world. That I've been recognized for that just feels darn good.

So that's all for now. The job hunt continues, and there are a few things I've applied for that I feel I have a chance for, but that remains to be seen. Until next time, cheers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Next Chapter?

First things first. Fallout from the poo incident: Never got a call back from the landlady. Maintenance did come and apologize the next morning, which was nice. I still wrote a letter to the property management company cuz they need to know the whole thing was unacceptable. So this remains to be continued. Piggybacking on that, that was the final straw for me, and John and I are planning to high-tail it outta here as soon as humanly possible. We'll be staying in Btown, and already have a place picked out, just gotta get all of our ducks in a row.

In more...well, in other news...today, Tuesday, October 27 is day one of my unemployment. Navigant decided my performance wasn't good enough to make it worthwhile to keep me, so at 5:25 yesterday afternoon, the big department boss called me into the lovely conference room to give me the boot. He did tell me that everyone loves me, and that I was a really great person, but I was ultimately not doing as well as I should be. So I took a minute, I went back to my desk, sent a quick email to my closest friends telling them what happened, and then my wonderful little network of friends all converged on my desk and helped me pack my stuff into one of those dreaded Hammer Mill boxes (for which I have exciting plans of destruction) and carried it out to the car for me.

I have many, many, many thoughts and fears, with a few tiny glimmers of hope in there. Here are the clearest of my thoughts at present:

1. I have two paths here: I can roll over and die, or I can look at this as one of the defining moments in my life, and use it to make changes. My goal is achieve the latter. I am taking the philosophy that the world has opened up before me, and is mine for the taking. Now, I just have to find something that I want to take, something that will suit me and make me happy(er) than legal data entry. I was shriveling up in there...my creative mind needs somewhere it can spread out.

2. Jobs do something funny to us. They make us feel like what we do in the 9-5 defines us, that what our job is is what we are. And in the working world, all your employers care about is what you are 9-5. No one at Navigant (aside from my friends) cared that I am a poet, creative, that I graduated cum laude with a Litt degree, that I love design and photography, and that few things make me happier than kittens. What started to bother me a while ago was that I beginning to let my job define me. But I finally found a way to handle the "So, what do you do?" question. When someone asks this, they are almost always asking what you do for a job. But that's not how they phrase it. So when someone asks me, "Maureen, what do you do?" I respond, "Well, I do a lot. What would you like to hear about?" Mainly this catches people off guard, and puts me back in control. Then hey almost always then ask, "What do you do for work?" To which I'd quickly respond with the appropriate answer, and then add in a few of the things that really make me who I am. "I do A, B, and C, but I'm also a poet, I love singing, and I miss acting." Something like that, anyway.

3. Being unemployed is scary--I wish there was a job search engine like Match.com or eHarmony. Now, never having been on Match.com or eHarmony, I assume you answer those questions and you still get a gazillion responses. "You said you like tall, blonde men between 25 and 31, but here are a bunch of short redheads 45 and over who you might also like." Cuz I know when I get those emails from Monster that are supposed to be "tailored to my keywords" I find myself wondering where I typed in that I have a PhD in Psychology or that I have 5+ years' experience in teaching physics. ::shakes head::

So my immediate game plan is one of survival: today I am not doing too much job-hunting. I'm just working on being kind to myself, and letting it all sink in before I spring into action. I have two more paychecks coming from Navigant, then I'll shuffle over to the old bread line and file for unemployment benefits. Hopefully I won't need them for long. I like to think the perfect Maureen job is out there, sleepily opening its eyes, getting ready to come and find me...

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Most Recent Reason I'm Disturbed

I know, it doesn't take much. But this, friend, will shock and frighten you. And hopefully gross you out as much as I was...

So the last week or so, we've had the pleasure of having the company of what we assume is a squirrel or similar large rodent trapped in our wall. We hear it along the back of of the house, and then we won't for a night or two (when it's gone down to bother our neighbor). So today maintenance and the complex's pest control service came to set some traps in the attack. Which is all fine and well cuz I want that sucker gone. He makes Hammy go banana sandwiches all night and the sound itself makes my stomach churn. So what's the problem, you ask?

The attic access is through my closet, meaning when they opened the panel to get in there and take care of business, various samples of various rodents' poo and nests, as well as insulation and God knows what else had fallen all over the floor, the shelf in the closet, and most disgusting of all...it was covering my CLOTHES. Yes, there was poop in every fold of every fabric, every hood, and in pockets, shoes...you name it. It took me a good 15 minutes to shut my curious kitten in the bedroom, clear the closet, shake out the poo from my clothes and my shoes, and vacuum it all up. It will take far longer to clean this memory from my mind.

I mean, I know it's not their job to clean my apartment, but if you see that happen (I don't want to think about what happened if the guy's face was up by the panel), wouldn't you think to either A) clean up what you could, and/or B) at least leave that in the note! Like, When we accessed the attic, we made kind of a mess in your closet...we're sorry, and will make it up to you. I now have to wash half the clothes in my closet, and I really want to ask for compensation for all the extra laundry I now have to do to clean up the disgusting mess.

Please insert therapy and encouraging words in the comments section...it will be much appreciated. Follow-up to come once my landlady returns my call tomorrow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Driving

I am already an anxiety-ridden person. Driving to work is often not an issue; however, over the last two weeks, the morning trek has been particularly stressful and eventful (against my every will). I now present to you my newest phobia: the dump truck.

I was driving into work, and it was kinda trafficky for no apparent reason on 295N other than it was raining, so we were all going like 15 mph. I was stuck behind this big open dump truck with one of those tarps across the top, and it was spewing all these pebbles and stuff, and I was so annoyed and worried my windshield was gonna break. Then it started to rain a little harder, and I'm like, "Uhm...what's this brown water coming down my window? This truck is filthy!" So I'm behind this truck the whole 10 minutes I'm on 295, and when it finally got off the exit before mine, and I finally read the lettering on the side, I read the three most terrifying words you can read after your beloved vehicle has been peppered with pebbles:

SOLID MUNICIPAL WASTE.

It was a poop truck! And there was POOP all over my car...sadly and in the most literal sense.

After a car wash, and a slight case of PTSD, I am recovering well, and expect to be back to 100% soon.

In non-poo news, next weekend (!) is Jon and Marisa's wedding! Wow...I get a nice (UNpaid...thank you, non-converted status...10 months later...I'm not bitter!) 4-day weekend when John and I journey to upstate New York for the celebration. Hopefully the foliage will be in bloom, and the weather will be kind. On this end, we're working on getting all of our loose ends together, as the countdown is now in the single digits! My best friend is married, and now John's will be in a matter of days. So weird, this growing up business, huh? Be ready for a blog o' wonderful pictures!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quick Thoughts

1. I just applied for a writing/editing job that sounds like an exciting match to my personality and skills. It's close to where I'm currently working, meaning a still-awesome commute. It made me feel accomplished, strange enough, and reminded me that there are chances out there to be happy in work and to find things that are at least somewhat meaningful. I even went ahead and ordered business/calling cards from VistaPrint tonight in my zeal over job applications. I figure it can't hurt to keep a few on me in case I meet a great contact and on the off chance (though it'll never happen!) I have no pen or PostIts.

2. I am going to enter some poems in a county poetry contest. I'm not ready yet (maybe I am and I'm just too scared to try) to pursue publication, but reading about my friends' successes are making me excited about writing for the public again. Lately I've been working on lots of stuff, but, being disconnected from my former writing community, have largely kept it clutched closely to my chest, not sharing with anyone.

3. I got Tara a really super awesome bday gift and I can't wait to give it to her Sunday when she comes over to do a PartyLite show for me. I know it's early, but I'm really bad at not giving gifts as soon as I acquire them. haha I love watching people open them cuz I really only buy things I know they'll love. Shameless plug: do you like top-quality, highly-scented candles? Call Tara and book a show through her consultant website.

4. I had a good week this week, and I'm feeling really energetic and happy with life and its possibilities. And by that I mean I am able to see that there ARE possibilities. Lately I've been in such a fog of dread and feeling like this was it: this was as good as I can do and it was really starting to rot my from the inside out. It's good to gain perspective, even if it comes from unusual places.

That's all for now. More thoughts and ideas as they come.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm back!

I've been REALLY lax with posting, I know...but I bring you bounty!
Tara and I went to our second Longaberger Horizons of Hope Breast Cancer Fundraiser recently at Shannon's Catering in Atco. After losing everything at PartyLite Bingo (well, Tara did win a hand cream she wanted as a door prize), we were both ravenous for prizes and somewhat defeated as we entered the banquet room and surveyed the prizes we would assuredly watch go home with other people. We also made the grave Bingo-rookie mistake of juggling more than one card...oy. We were down to our last three games, and neither of us, nor anyone at our table, had anything to show for it. As we heard shouts of, "BINGO!" ringing from table after table that was not ours, we were all just about ready to throw in the towel. But then, something miraculous happened, and maybe it was the points I had stored up in the karma bank, but I noticed that I just needed one more number to score a diagonal Bingo. Number called; not mine. ::tension:: Number called..."BINGO! I WIN!" I actually won something, and got to yell Bingo! Tara was, understandably, a mixture of happiness and roiling hatred. Since I was so convinced I wasn't gonna win anything, I hadn't even been paying attention to what the prizes were. So now I was afraid I had won a basket of baby supplies or something equally useless. But it was actually a basket of school/office supplies! SWEET! Next game, no dice at our table. Final game, I won again! A quick recap:
Me: Oh, Tara, you're about to be mad as hell if I win again.
Tara: blank stare
Lady at table: What number do you need?
Me: B53.
Bingo caller: B53!
Me: BINGO! I WIN AGAIN!
This time it was a HUGE basket filled with Xmas decorating/party supplies...a cookie dish, napkins, potholders. Awesome! And so even though I got home at almost 11, I tore into those suckers to check out my loot. Hammy's favorite part, of course, was the cellophane that made the most amazing crinkling sounds ever.



School supplies!


Holiday goodies!


Hammy loves crinklies!

In other fun news, my friend, David, and I have discovered the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail that picks up behind one of the buildings in our corporate complex. We took a quick walk down there on Tuesday on a whim, and ate at our desks prior to our actual lunch break today so we could spend a whole hour exploring. It was soggy and really buggy, but rather freaking awesome. There's one more direction we'll be able to check out in our hour of freedom, and beyond that we'll just have to imagine. Here are some pics I took on today's adventure:










In one last story, I must relate my store-brand Lucky Charms fail...in an open letter to Shop Rite, I'd like to say: Thanks for my new box of Marshmallow Dreams. I had been craving some sugary cereal to break up my Cheerios routine. I woke up, excited for breakfast, grabbed the box, tore it open, poured it into my bowl and...HEY! WHERE ARE MY MARSHMALLOWS?! That's right...I certainly WAS having marshmallow dreams. I had every intention to take the box back and DEMAND that I be given either A) a lifetime supply of the cereal or B) receive a box filled with only marshmallows to mix with my box of, essentially, frosted Cheerios. But then John had a heaping bowl, and the box was about half gone, so John just finished it off. I attempted another box this week, with 100% success. ::wipes brow::


Until the next adventure, friends!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Another Wet Sunday

We had a mini-repeat of last Sunday's weather with less tornadic activity, but just as much rain. Since the thunder, lightning, and wind were not as bad as last week, I was actually able to get out and take some pictures of the flood.

Before I post them, though, I just want to reply to an earlier post where I was mad about the Harry Potter/IMAX thing. Our local theater, AMC 24, did indeed show HP6 in IMAX 3D, and John and I went to a showing on Friday night. A.Maz.Ing. Dream fulfilled, and it was everything expected. ::dreamy look::

Yesterday I went to a friend's bridal shower at Femmina's in Medford Lakes. I didn't know anyone there, really, except for the bride and a few other people, but it was really fun, and I sat with a great group o' gals. : ) The wedding is in 2 months and counting, and it's just getting to the point where it's really exciting to think about it. The groom is John's best friend from college, whom I've now known for as long as I've known John, and we've been friends with the bride for a little over a year now I guess. PLUS they live right around the corner from us, so we love having them close by. A great afternoon.

And now, without further adieu, Storm, Parte Deux:



Lake Parking Lot


Overflowing Storm Drain



Swirling vortex over another drain. Yes, that truck is still in the same exact spot as it was last week...just asking for trouble!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Aftermath of a Random, Very Severe Thunderstorm of Doom

Massive Thunder, incredible lightning, high winds, hail, and a flood. Welcome to my Sunday evening.

Around 7:45, a huge cell passed over ye Olde Bordentown, and hot dang was it a crazy hour...our power flickered once, then came right back on, then about 10 minutes later it went out again. And didn't come back on until 12 hours later. 12. Hours. Later. HUH?!?!?!?! Also, it rained so much that our storm drain backed up (likely with the help of the flooded nearby creek and our position in a valley amidst hills), and so we had a rather bad flood happening in our parking lot. It was so bad that the dumpsters that usually sit flush with the curb actually floated a foot or two away and toward our cars. The car parked closest to the drain would have been in serious danger of being mejorly submerged, but thankfully the water started to retreat on its own within about half an hour. The water flooded about half way up our lawn, and when idiot drivers decided to try their luck and drive through the madness, they actually created a pretty substantial wake!
A tree down the way from us looks like it split and broke almost in half. We saw a big group of people in the road down there but it was too dark to see what was going on until we went out this morning and saw branches and limbs all over the place.
In the end, nothing was ruined, no one was hurt, and the only casualties were a few items in the refrigerators that couldn't last 12 hours without coldness. So below, please enjoy the few photos I was able to snap when I got home from work today. Let's not repeat this kind of thing for a long, long while, huh?



Uhm...these wandered a little too far away for my comfort....


If you look closely, you can see the water line just under this guy's bumper. Thankfully my car and John's car were uphill far enough to escape this. The water reached barely halfway up our tires.


Debris lines from where leaves, etc. got washed up onto the lawn.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Exhausting but Fun Weekend, and Some Musings if I Have Energy

Last weekend was A) the opening of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (which I just saw for the second time today), and B) Rachel's Bday Campout. The movie is just freaking amazing, and even though I disagreed with some pf the license the director took, I trust him wholeheartedly with finishing out the series (David Yates directed 5 and 6, and will finish the two-part installment of the final book), so I just rolled with it in the hopes it'll all come together in the end.

And I have to say John and I didn't Camp for real, we "camped"--aka hung out until we missed flushing toilets, running water, and our own bed under the sweet cover of a solid roof. That said, we would like to give Camping a try, perhaps in the fall when it's cooler out and I'll feel less scuzzy having not showered. But we'll see. John's been bitten by the camping bug big time and is just about ready to go out and buy a tent, an air mattress, and an extra sleeping bag. I'm a little more reserved in my eagerness to make such investments, but we'll see how things pan out. I'm always up for new things, and I do want to push the boundaries of my comfort levels. I did canoe for the first time last weekend, which was really fun! We didn't wander very far because we had kids with us who were hungry, tired, and bored with un-plugged-in life, but hopefully we can have a big-people trip where we get in some good time on the water. : )

After baking in the sun at Atsion Lake and then nursing the bad bad bad sunburn that followed--let me just say my legs and feet are STILL red, but my back just looks toasty--John and I met my parents and brother for a Trenton Thunder game on Sunday. I've been to a lot of minor league games, but I've never actually gotten anything except for a free hat at the now-defunct AC Surf. At this game, though, it seemed like they gave everyone something every inning. It was hot as anything and sunny to boot, too, so the mascots were walking around with big water guns hosing us off to lessen the mass heat stroke I'm sure wasn't far away. Not to mention the players....I didn't want to MOVE let alone imagine playing 9 innings out there. No thanks.

In between the fun of last weekend and the fun of this weekend, I did a lot of soul searching and self-evaluating at work this week. I've been writing a lot, mostly in the afternoons when my mind starts to wander away from the databases, and I can't help but feel trapped. I mean, I take inventory of all things I'm good at (or think I'm good at), and I feel like I'll never be able to do any of them for a living barring a huge karmic pat on the back or act of divine intervention. I'm a planner, so I can't just be one of those people who quits her steady job to go Tahiti to paint for a year and the see where the wind blows her, but at the same time, part of me wishes very much that I was like that. That I could just walk out, go to wherever feels right and do all the creative things you can't on the canvas of corporate America. I mean, I can think of the careers I could have if I were ballsy enough to pursue them: full-time poet, photographer, interior decorator, professional organizer, party planner...boy what a useful bunch of talents I've drummed up. haha Not to say they are not lucrative, I'm just saying HGTV hasn't exactly knocked on my door with a sweet deal yet. But I guess as long as I can utilize these creative genes in some capacity, whether it's decorating friends' cubes at work with my poems and sketches, or changing up the apartment every now and then, it makes the 9-to-5 doldrums a little more bearable. Or maybe I just tell myself that to make it all seem wrothwhile. Who knows? I'm 23, and somwhere out there is the perfect opportunity for me. We just need to meet at the right time.

Anyway. Last night, John and I had a Christmas in July party, which was freaking fantastic...we have so much food and booze left we're set for quite a while. haha I made lasagna and lingonberry cookies, we bought a mushroom focaccia to heat up, Donna brought beer bread, Tara brough cranberry-orange muffins, Lisa brought brownies...boy it was a feast! A feast which will make delicious lunches this week. Nom nom nom. I even busted out some decorations to add to the festivities in addition to rotating classic holiday movies on the ol' DVD player. Good times. So who will host 4th of July in December? Anyone, anyone?




Lastly, our dining room table pretty much bit the sawdust after the party, but Mom and Dad gave us their old one, so we have that all assembled in the dining room and since it's a little smaller the space feels more open and has a little more comfortable flow to it. At least we can pull it away from the wall when we need and seat 4 people around it, which we couldn't do with the other one.


So till next time, friends...adios!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Grounds for Sculpture

Today John and I spent about 3 hours walking the 35 acres of Hamilton Twp.'s Grounds for Sculpture. For lack of a more sophisticated response, it was AWESOME.

We first watched a short movie in the visitor's center about the history and evolution of the Grounds, which has expanded on the original site of the NJ state Fairgrounds. They have a really diverse collection of permanent sculpture in the outdoors grounds, and two seasonal featured artsists in two of the buildings. What was most interesting to me, aside from the art obviously, was what pieces John was drawn to versus what I was drawn to.




John and some big rocks.











I love the framing of the tree in the middle of this huge rock wall.



























The lady on the hill. Reminds me of Mary Poppins.






























A running theme at the park was realistic sculptures of Victorian people who were equal parts eerie and intriguing.











Probably my favorite sculpture we saw all day. Not just because it's from Shakespeare--give you one guess--but because it is just absolutely beautiful and full of emotion. Love. It.





If you've got $10, really comfy sneakers, and a few hours, I definitely recommend this as a local staycation. There are three dining options, ranging from cheap noshes at The Gazebo, moderate lunches at the Peacock Cafe, and fine dining at Rat's.
Speaking of, why is it called Peacock Cafe? Well...
The place was busting with peacocks, including ths family. I had never seen a baby one before! So cute!

Till next time and the next adventure, ciao!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Half Blood Prince and IMAX as a Reminder Society Has Us by the Balls

Listen. Most of you know I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. Well, I was mad when Half Blood Prince was scheduled to be released in the fall, but then Warner Brothers pushed back the date to make it a summer blockbuster. Strike one, WB. So here we are, mere days before it will be released for REAL, and I finally live close to an IMAX theater...insert realization of a dream here: seeing Harry Potter, opening day, in IMAX. Insert here the realization that the only IMAX theaters showing it are in the big "real" cities like NY and basically the state of CA. Strike two, WB and strike one IMAX. ::sigh::

Also, I had some guy back into me last month (one of the stupidest things ever, too...one of those things where all you can do is watch cuz you have nowhere to run and no time to react even though it was happening in slow motion as far as I was concerned). So yes, there was no body damage and just a section of paint was peeled back where the guy's hitch hit me. So I finally took it to the dealer's body shop to see if they could just touch it up, which they could. A short conversation:

Dealer Guy: Okay, the paint's all touched up, and here's the bottle in case you ever need it.
Me: Thanks, it looks much better.
DG: And here's an estimate for getting it actually repaird.
Me: Wait...what's "actually repaird?"
DG: Well, we'd basically give you a new bumper.
Me: For a scratch in the paint? There's no body damage.

So I thanked him, took the estimate, and walked away planning to opt against the new bumper. Sheesh. Is that normal?

What else? I think that's all I'm angry about at the moment. Just needed to vent.

Pics and vids coming soon. I'm just too lazy to upload and post them.

Till next time...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Maureen and Tara: Hairbrained Idea #????

So firstly, John and I went to roller derby Saturday night with Donna to see the Penn Jersey She Devils' Dishonor Roll, and, as expected, we obviously want to join! haha Now accepting ideas for my own derby name/alter ego. I've got a few up my sleeve, not all of them family-friendly. It was fun, mildly violent, and entertaining. If you've got an evening, a few bucks, and are in the Marlton area, do check it out. : )

Today, I went to the 'Ville and spent the day with Tara. We went to Olive Garden for lunch and then spent like 10 hours wandering Target. But I must say the sole purpose of this particular post is share with you:

1. A shameful act
2. Laughter
3. The launch of Tara's and my new business endeavor with 0% of fail, and 100% chance of bringing us riches beyond our wildest dreams!

So, in the order outlined above, I present:

1. Tara...bought...a two-pack...of Shamwow!
2. So we had to try them out when we got back to her place. We did poor and giggly recreations of two of the tests you see in the infomercial:

video

video

3. Tara brilliantly observed that we should author a weblog performing consumer reviews. We find the latest wonder product, test it, post a video where we try some of the things in the ad, and then write a review of how the real deal compares to the hype.

In related news, WHAT THE CRAP WITH BILLY MAYES?!?!?! Did anyone see that coming? I'd like to say it's sad that I'm more shocked by his death than by Michael Jackson's (and yes, some of you will turn on me...), but it's just the truth.

That's all for now, I believe. Next softball game is tomorrow night, and it looks like my parents will be coming up to watch! Hopefully I'll have good news to report following the game. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hammy Recouperates

Well, it's been more than 24 hours now, and Hamlet seems to be bouncing back. We gave him dinner around 8:30 (we had to wait at least 2 hours after getting him home) and he SCARFED it. He hadn't eaten since dinner the night before, so I imagine his tummy was rather empty.

Just look at this face!




I think Tara's description of him as a drunken sailor was pretty accurate. Apparently he was all wet from the dental cleaning--like people, water and stuff sprays all over the place--and so his fur was sticking up like he had lots of cowlicks. He started to socialize a bit around 9:00 and let me brush him around 10, so at least he started looking a little less like Oliver Twist. haha

I must say that since he was still getting medicine out of his system, I slept VERY well since he was quiet and didn't start yelling at at 5:30 AM for his food like he usually does. Ah, sweet sleep.

So I came home today to a much better kitten. He's still bouncing back to his usual self but his personality is definitely coming back. I took the bandage off his back leg where the IV was and so now he's free as a bird. And for those of you wondering what his bald patches look like, please enjoy my still somewhat under-the-weather kitten:


Not enjoying the camera's flash one bit...



"MUH-OM! This is just embarassing! How undignified."

Like I said, the real show was yesterday but since they did an eye exam as part of the comprehensive, his pupils were still huge and I didn't dare use a flash around him. Plus, he looked so pathetic I couldn't publish that.

Well that's all for this installment. : )

Toodles.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The latest in the Saga of Pet Ownership

Now, maybe it's because after his declaw, Hammy was kept at the vet overnight so he was a little more coherent by the time we got him back. He still looked like my kitten, despite his mangled paws and his sleepy face. So I'm just saying that when he came home from a comprehensive physical exam and a dental cleaning and he looked like he was tossed out of a car and into a giant puddle...::sighs::

First of all, I knew he'd be a little out of it cuz they have to anesthetize (spelling, please?) him, but he looked like a bobble head--a funny description, I know, but it was unnerving--and what alarmed me most was the fact that his two front legs and one of his back legs were SHAVED. He looks like someone tried to make him into a poodle! I guess they needed to do that since they had him on IVs and even had to catheterize him...but oh my God he looks like such a mess. Not to mention he was terrified of anything that moves. So of course all I wanted to do was hug and squeeze and kiss him, but now I'm just happy that he's laying under the bed and resting. He wanders out every now and then to check up on us, and he's looked a little better each time. He even let me pet him and gave me some nuzzles.

He also hasn't mewed or spoken, so I'll feel better once he starts talking again. I just want my kitten back. : ( And obviously he's so traumatized at the moment that pictures are certainly a no-no, but maybe I'll snap a few in a day or so and let you judge what's been done to him.

Has anyone else had an experience like this? The only other time he's had a cleaning was when he was already under for his declaw surgery anyway. And so you know, all of this would have cost close to $1200, but because I have him on what is essentially an insurance policy through Banfield, it cost us $42. ::wipes brow:: That $21 month for the insurance feels worth it every time I look over the bills.

Okay, that's all for now. More to come later. Think healing thoughts for my kitty. I never thought it'd be ANYTHING like this just to get his darn teeth cleaned.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Pictorial Tour of Recent Days

Stop one, Winslow Twp. HS graduating class of 2009, of which my brother was a proud member.

What a handsome devil! And with a new haircut.

What a good-looking family. But wait, someone's missing!


There we go! Brother and sister. : )

Processional. After taking about 3 failed photos of guys I thought were Kevin, I finally had a WIN!

The ceremony was actually really nice. I was rather impressed with the student speakers, and they didn't drag anything out--I couldn't believe how fast it was over. Hey, anything had to be better than mine: thunder, lightning, and pouring rain anyone? And yes, we were out on the football field, near electrical equipment and on aluminum bleachers. Needless to say, it was unclassy, uncomfortable, and maybe a little too memorable. ha

Congrats, Class of 09!

Next stop, Dana and Megan's college graduation party, out in Sea Isle! It was rainy, but the weather did allow us some nice breaks, and even an opportunity to go down to the beach for a while. Perfection.


Best friends since 03. Great, great memories.

LOVE this pic. One of the rare great ones.


Yay.

COMING SOON: pics of my first oceanic fishing trip! My office is having a fluke fishing trip off Point Pleasant this Saturday, and I'm sure hilarity, fishiness, and perhaps some good eats will follow. Stay tuned! Oh yeh, we may also be going to roller derby with Donna Saturday night...yes, please! More stories, I'm sure.
Till next time...