Gotta love work!

I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to talking about not having any work to do. So, let me start complaining about something completely opposite - too much work! Seems my supervisor got a bit confused and put a dozen of us transcriptionists in on the wrong phone call. The people transitioning over to the new system immediately were to be paid an hourly rate for the work they were missing. Well, since I was sitting there 8 hours waiting to work and there wasn't any work to be done for almost half the day for several days in a row, it made sense I was included in this group. I wasn't even worrying about all that time I missed because I knew it'd be covered. An emergency mandatory phone call 2 days later cleared that right up for me. Seems some of us weren't included in that lucky group; we should have had enough work to do. One lady flew off the handle, saying she needed to be compensated for all that missed work (she had even less work than I did). The solution, of course, was to make up the work. Oh, great, you mean I get to work 7 extra hours in the next 3 days because that's when the pay period ends? That translates into, "Go ahead and work on your only 2 days off." Sucky, sucky, sucky. Had to do it, though. Now I'm exhausted. I'm going to take some of my precious time off and only work half a day Monday. To paraphrase an old McDonald's commercial, "I deserve a break today".


Destination Unknown

"Where shall I go, what shall I do?" Okay, I'm not Scarlett O'Hara, but we are still milling over quite a few honeymoon destinations. We've even got a list (of course). I guess for most of these places our biggest expense will be airline tickets. If I win one of the many vacation contests I enter online, looks like we're going to the Caribbean. To be safe, though, I guess we should make backup arrangements. Lots of those wedding planning sites have honeymoon ideas, complete with beautiful photos of pristine, empty beaches with only one attractive couple on them. It's safe to rule out mountains with skiing, camping and hiking because that's not my idea of fun. The only time I went camping was in Italy, and it was a total disaster. Granted, my dad is a total jerk who just didn't want to get a hotel room so rented a crappy tent even though it was freezing and we stayed on some outer corner of a military base with other like-minded cheapskates (most of the time saving money is good, but if you're making your family miserable, you should re-think your plans). If you needed to go potty, you'd better make the 500 yard dash to the community restroom before you know you have to go, because you'd be standing in line for a while. And don't forget the nasty group shower thing they had going on. Oh, privacy, where'd you go? I was 9 or 10, and that was the worst trip of my life. Not only the accommodations, mind you, but the entire trip. Our car, a Hornet station wagon, had a carbon monoxide leak, so even though it was cold we had to keep the windows cracked so we wouldn't die. I remember my sister being asleep in the very back of the wagon and my dad making one of the rare pit stops, opening the hatch and pulling her out and spanking her to wake her up. She was overcome by the poison, but she did wake up. It affected me, too, because I went to use the restroom and the next thing I knew I was propped up against a wall and my mom was banging on the door asking if I was okay. I had passed out and slid down the wall to a seated position. Not fun. Add on top of that a trip to Rome where late afternoon we made it to the coliseum but it was closed, so we had to stand outside and look in the doorway. We were starving but dad wouldn't stop for food, he just kept driving around and around the same circle in Rome (a la Chevy Chase in European Vacation, "Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament"). Finally he found an exit road and off we headed for the campground. Only by then it was very dark, we were exhausted and hungry and sick from the carbon monoxide, so he finally relented to my mom and found a little hotel. When the little old lady who owned it brought up broth for us to eat, it was the best food I'd ever eaten. So, not only do I not like camping, I also don't like Rome. It didn't even make it on the list. We'd love to go to London, though, or Paris. I think I'd like to do that for a trip other than a honeymoon, though. I don't know if I'm being silly or romantic, but I don't want to get a passport until I can get it in my new last name.


Letter Perfect

Work for me is going to be going rather slowly for the next several weeks. Unfortunately, several of the conglomerates that own bunches of hospitals have decided to save money and go with a company that does outsourcing overseas. They'll be back when their precious doctors complain about all the errors in their reports, but that could be a year since they've signed a contract. On top of that, we're changing computer systems because the one I use is just plain bad. That'll be good, it's just the training and learning all the new shortcuts that will be slowing me down for several weeks until I get the hang of it. Nothing like a bunch of stuff to slow me down and affect my pay right before the holidays. And don't worry, we've got another contract with another hospital system that's bigger than the one we're losing, but it doesn't begin for another month. At least this is temporary, and my kids are too big to believe in Santa anymore. And I don't have to sit at my computer for 10 hours trying to get in 8 hours of work. It's stressful but I'm trying to stay positive. With all this free time my mind can wander around in Weddingland a little longer. For some reason it went off on a tangent and I came up with a totally different idea for our save the date cards. I ran it by Jerry first, of course, and he loves it, too! I hope we can manage to get it to turn out as good as it looks in my head. The font I want to use is, of course, something that isn't standard in the fonts that came with my computer. Wish I collected fonts like Jerry's friend Aaron does. I have a feeling you can't browse flea markets for those things. Since I didn't have the font available, I've decided to take the few letters of it from the logo I like and just draw the rest of the alphabet in my Paint program and piece the words together bit by bit. Labor intensive, yes, but since I've got hardly any work to do right now, it'll keep me busy in between the long wait for jobs to come over my computer from work. What am I still sitting her blogging for, I've got a font to make!


It's a good thing?

Every day in my email there's always something waiting for me. One of Martha Stewart's upper level minions has the responsibility of coming up with a new idea every single day, even Saturday and Sunday. I figure she's an upper level minion because Martha lets her take credit for her idea. Her name is Darcy, and she gets to put her picture on her email as well. She must be super creative. I wonder if she's always loved weddings and is constantly inspired by every little thing she sees or if she took this job even though it had nothing to do with her degree because they had an opening and she needed health insurance. When I worked at a hospital folks found out I did portraits, so around Christmas time I'd get commissions and deliver them at work. Almost every time someone would see my drawing they'd ask me why I didn't open a shop and just do portraits. My answer was always the same, "It isn't steady income and doesn't come with health insurance." I'd rather use it as a secondary income so that it wasn't something I had to do every day - my hand would cramp up and fall off if I drew 8 hours a day 5 days a week. I also wonder if I'd get burn-out like so many nurses and air traffic controllers do. I also couldn't use my sad little joke when someone asks me what I do for a living, "Well, I have a BS in Studio Arts, so of course I'm a medical transcriptionist." Marilyn's got her mind set on getting a degree in biomedical engineering, so I'm guessing she'll eventually end up working for Martha Stewart.


Bon-Bon Apetit!

Went into town for a dentist visit, and what better way to wrap that up than with a trip to a little gourmet restaurant/shop? They were open until 6, so I figured they served sit-down food until then. Wrong! Lunch only there, the rest of the time you have to either order something from their catering service, select a pre-made refrigerated take-home container or get something from their bakery section. What's a trio of girls to do? This particular trio decided to get bon-bons! We did go with the intention of eating dinner there but since they weren't serving we wanted to get a little treat to hold us over until we could get somewhere else, decide what we wanted to eat and be served. That could take over 30 minutes and we were already hungry. When we walked in the little place the only clerk was on the phone, some other phone line was ringing and the fax machine was going off. She was obviously talking to someone who was planning a party, because she'd act like she was trying to get off the phone and they'd ask another question. This went on and on, long after we'd browsed their vast selection of pastries and chocolates and made our choices. About 10 minutes later this tall, freckled blond carrying an armload of bags blew through the door. Since she asked us, "Do y'all need help", I figured she worked there. I was thrown off by such a tiny voice coming out of someone that size. It really sounded put-on, like she was trying to imitate a cartoon lady-mouse. Surely she doesn't talk like that all the time. Maybe if you pretend you talk that way long enough it becomes habit and you don't even have to think about it. I started wondering if she was ever taken seriously. She was a little too old to still try to be working the cute angle. She was very nice, though. She even gave me a 2 for 1 on the milk chocolate praline truffle I selected for Jerry. Finally the first salesgirl was able to get off the phone and apologized. I told her she was only one person, could only do so much at once and not to worry about it. Both ladies were very nice and even though we didn't get to have a meal there, we'll stop in next time we're there during lunchtime, oh, and during the week because they aren't open on weekends. I'm beginning to think this shop is owned by someone who wanted a little business as a hobby. There are quite a few places like that around, actually. I'll see some cute shop in the middle of the day, walk up to the door only to see a closed sign hanging in the window. Really, 2 p.m. on a Tuesday and you're closed? Guess you don't need any business, then. Maybe it's something their rich spouse writes off as a tax loss. We got our box of truffles and went to meet Jerry at a restaurant that was actually serving food at 5:30 p.m. The girls pulled their dark chocolate raspberry truffles out of the box and went on and on about how delicious it was. I'm so glad they liked it. I took a big bite of mine and was a bit disappointed. I was expecting something wonderful and got mediocre. I even went by my "if it has a funny name it must be delicious" theory and selected the chocolate double love truffle. I didn't love it. Liked it, yes. I hoped Jerry's truffle was more on par with the girls' candy than mine. He bit into his and asked what the flavor was again. Poor baby didn't find any pecans in his, just the milk chocolate. Maybe that's why she gave me 2 for 1 - they forgot the nuts. She could have just renamed them and sold them at full price instead of disappointing my sweet Jerry. He said he liked it, but I could tell he was disappointed it wasn't the flavor he was expecting. Maybe I should start making truffles. I used to do it and they were pretty good, although my flavors didn't go past orange chocolate or raspberry chocolate. If they turned out well, maybe I could open a cute little shop as a hobby.


We're not all mad here.

I got the greatest compliment from a person who rarely doles them out yesterday. Erin tried on her complete Halloween costume for the first time, stepped out to show me and said, "This is way better than anybody else's I've seen on the internet." Yay! I was able to make what she envisioned a Cheshire cat a la Cosplay would look like into something suitable for a 12-year-old to wear and still think she looked cool. The makeup is going to be something else entirely, I have a feeling. I suppose I'll post a picture of the girls here on the official day of dressing up and collecting candy. I encourage my girls to trick-or-treat as long as they feel comfortable doing it. They put a lot of effort into their costume idea, and it's something fun and safe for them to do. Nothing bad, nothing sinister, just fun. And it seems there's just not as much of that to go around as there used to be. Last year I wore a black wig and little devil horns while I walked around the neighborhood with the girls and their friends. We crossed paths with a couple with a small kid in a stroller. The guy had the nerve to ask me, "Aren't you too old for dressing up?" I shot back, "Aren't you too young not to?" Reminded me of when I was 12 and my friend Laura (she of the fabulous fingernails) and I went trick-or-treating together. She dressed like an angel and I dressed like a devil (is there a theme here?). We went all over the neighborhood and were out for hours. One of the last places we went to the man who answered the door asked us if we weren't too old for trick-or-treating. We told him no, we were only 12. I'm sure we didn't look grown. I think grown ups should let kids be kids for as long as they like. He probably didn't think any more about that statement, but it stuck with me. That's probably why I'll let my girls continue to do it for as long as they like. That, and it makes me smile.


The Long and Short of It

I guess I was a nervous little kid, because I used to bite my fingernails. Disgusting, I know. I do remember being nervous quite a bit. I don't know where that comes from, but my grandmother used to bite her nails, too, up until adulthood. She was so proud when she quit, she showed me how long her nails had grown since she stopped. I broke myself of that habit when I was about 12 or so. Not that I stopped worrying, I just started worrying how ugly my fingers looked, so I guess that neurosis topped the other one. One of my 2 best friends, Laura, had awesome fingernails. She could have been a hand model. It seemed her nails never broke. The first day I met her she hopped off the bus and came over to me while I was sitting on this low wall waiting for school to start. She was carrying an apple and sat down next to me. Then she did the most incredible thing I'd ever seen. She took her long thumb nail and stuck it in the apple, turned the apple in a circle and pulled out a perfectly round core, which she then ate. That's what fingernails are for! I remember buying some press-on fingernails, hoping to hide my nails while they grew out. Instead, I had a smelly bottle of industrial strength "nail glue", which was really superglue in a cuter bottle, I had to carry around in my purse and that eventually leaked and glued its own lid shut. The nails popped off continually, so I had hands that were half wickedly long fingernails and the other half stubby, clumpy glue-covered nails. I eventually gave up and popped all the nails off. Then I discovered something even more horrible. Once you got the nails and the glue off the nails you had underneath became paper thin. So, I was in even worse shape than before. Since then I have been able to grow my nails out, but never for very long. They always seen to tear, break, bend, or snag when the start to show the least bit of promise. Not too long ago I bought some Sally Hansen product that is supposed to make nails stronger. It worked for a little while and my nails grew out a bit, but they soon went back to breaking off. I'd love to have lovely fingernails for the wedding, nothing fancy, just even and not broken. Maybe I'll read up on taking gelatin; I can't remember if that is supposed to help or if that's just an old wives tale. If anything works I'll be sure to post an update. If not, I guess I'll just keep my hands hidden with my bouquet because I'm certainly not gluing on any fake nails ever again.


Who are we, Bonnie and Clyde?

Yet another item has been added to the things I never thought about as part of a wedding - the getaway car. Did you know about this? Okay, I did know the newly married couple drove away afterwards but that's about as far as my thoughts went on this subject. Maybe my trouble was the name I hadn't heard before. "Getaway car" seems like you've just robbed a bank. What made me start thinking about it is, you guessed it, those damned wedding shows. Actually, just one in particular because none of the other shows covers that part of the ceremony. And now that I think about it, only one episode of that series showed the getaway cars, I guess because these girls went all out and rented some expensive automobiles. Yep, it was "4 Weddings" again. All of them oohed and aahed over the others' modes of transportation. What are they so impressed with, this person's taste in cars? Maybe their good credit on being able to rent such a vehicle? It's a mystery to me, but then again I've never been much of a car person. Jerry's not big into flashy cars, either. That doesn't mean we're going to rent a horse and carriage, though. No Cinderella fantasies here. If we decide on a honeymoon location within driving distance, maybe we'll rent a car and drive to our destination - a regular car, though, not a Ferrari. Besides, I doubt there's a place anywhere remotely near here that has those available to rent if we wanted one. I can just imagine us trying to get into that low, small car. It'd be like a couple of circus performers trying to get into their clown car, Jerry with his wonderful height and me with that voluminous dress. We'd have to be bent, folded, shoved and tucked into that sucker so we'd fit. At that point the only thing we'd be wanting to get away from would be the car.


I'd say I slept wrong...

except I hardly slept. Again. I don't want this to become a habit. Only slept once for a bit, I think, and then I had a bad dream. Now it seems my shoulder's out of whack. I can't imagine I did something strenuous. Maybe just all the work I've had to make up lately. Wonder how much a 3-hour massage would cost - probably more than I'll make with all that work I just did. Maybe I can rest it - oops, no, can't today. Got 1 more hour to make up from having to take Marilyn to the doctor Wednesday, and on top of that there's a mandatory conference call. Apparently we're losing some clients. That's nice, just in time for the holidays. Nothing like less work to do. We're apparently getting some new ones, though, so that's good. Probably not until after the slowdown left by the absence of these other facilities, though. I'll stop complaining now and talk about something wedding related. Since I couldn't sleep this morning I broke out the paper plate and my paints and painted my new artificial flowers, all 88 of them. Yes, I counted. I did that special math where you see how many flowers are on one plastic branch and multiplied it by the number of branches. They dry very quickly with the acrylic paint, so they're ready to be sewn on the dress. I'd hold the phone on my shoulder while I sew them on during the conference call if my shoulder wasn't hurting. Dang! My goal is to get them all on the dress today. I'm positive now it will be plenty of flowers to fill in the bodice completely. Once that's done my dress will be completed. Yay!


Had to do some running around yesterday.

Had to take Marilyn back to the doctor again, and this time they gave her medicine for her symptoms. Hopefully that will keep her functioning and able to not miss any more school. Since we were out and about and Jerry's schedule permitted, we all had a lovely lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Marilyn decided she needed something called "Taco Loco". That translates to mean "crazy taco". It's crazy alright - supersized! I bet it's the equivalent of 5 regular sized tacos. Jerry said, "It looks like they took one of those tortillas they use for a taco salad bowl and made that shell." He's so observant! She was able to polish off about half of it, which was pretty good considering earlier in the day she didn't feel like eating at all. Jerry got a trio of enchiladas and I got the "Speedy Gonzalez". It was just a combo plate. I've noticed in my long restaurant experience that if something has a crazy name, it usually tastes pretty good, maybe because if you're daring enough to say the name out loud you deserve to eat something delicious. Ran by Wal-Mart after that to drop off Marilyn's prescriptions. Two drugs, both generic, and this child with 2 insurances. My total was $60! I think I saved $6 because I had insurance. I'm going to start calling it medical coupons instead of insurance. I did pick up another branch of those little baby's breath flowers I'll need to paint while I was there. I couldn't believe it, but when I was out of work the last 2 mornings I spent time sewing more of the little flowers on my dress bodice. I figured I had plenty, possibly too many. This was not the case at all. Luckily, nobody else in town needed those particular artificial flowers so there were still several branches left. That's $2 more dollars added to the cost of my dress. My intentions are to have the dress finished this weekend. I'm considering posting a picture here, but then Jerry hasn't seen it with the embellishments and maybe he'd rather be surprised. Guess I'll have to ask. I'm getting better at this asking thing.


Wish I could sleep like a baby....

At this point I'd happily settle for short 2 hour bursts of sleeping following by being hungry when I wake up (although I can do without the accompanying wet diaper). I'm going to try to function on maybe 2 hours of sleep today. I don't know why, but I just didn't get any rest last night. I'd lie there awake, trying to count sheep. Didn't work. Then I tried what always works, I play Brahm's Lullaby in my head over and over until I nod off. No dice. Time just seemed to drag. What's going on? I was certainly tired when I went to bed. I don't feel any more stressed than usual. I'd like to go ahead and get my workday over with so I can maybe catch a nap, but it looks like there's no work available again this morning, which means I'll have to make up the missed work later in the day. Nothing like having a 12-hour long 8-hour work day. On the positive side, at least it's Wednesday, which means only 2 more work days until I'm off. In the middle of working I sure feel like I could easily drift off to sleep. Maybe tonight I'll lie in bed and pretend I'm working.


Calling All Crazy Engaged Women!

That should be the title for the contest that's being run by WE Television. They've decided to call it, "Search for the Next Bridezilla" instead. I guess that's pretty accurate. All you have to do is upload a video of yourself acting a fool, throwing a fit and you're in the running. I'll admit the thought flitted across my mind for a second. Not because I want to be on television, because I don't. Especially not if I'd be shown in a bad light. They love to freeze frame these girls in the most non-flattering poses. They are giving away $2500 for the winning video, though. So far the leader is a woman who has a list of folks who are not welcome at her wedding. At the top of the list are pregnant women, because she doesn't want them to go into labor and "steal her show". Also on her list are children, whom she doesn't want running around all over the place, cute girls who would detract from her beauty, and women with fake boobs. But she has a stipulation about the fake boobs. It's okay if you're married or have a boyfriend and have fake boobs, just don't come to the wedding all single with your fake boobs, waving them around at everybody. I think she was serious. Maybe it'd be funny to make a spoof tape and send it in, going way over the top. It sure seems like that's what all the women who make it onto that show are like already, though. Surely they aren't serious. Maybe they pay you more than the $2500 if you make it on the show. I really think, like most reality shows, that this only encourages bad, insane behavior. People have no shame anymore, so they don't care if they look like an idiot, or a harpy, or even a bitch. Were they just neglected as little girls, so they think any kind of attention is good? And what about the guys that see all of this insanity, fit throwing, and even are on the receiving end of verbal abuse? Why do they go ahead and marry these women? Is it because it's all an act, or are the too embarrassed to back out at such a late date? Sure, your fiancee acting evil isn't embarrassing, but dumping a crazy woman would be too much, so it's much better to just live a lifetime of suffering with this person. Imagine all the attention this woman must need on a daily basis. It boggles the mind, my mind at least. The prize money sure would come in handy for a nice honeymoon, but at what price? You go around acting like you're entitled to have people do whatever menial task you demand they do, then throw a tantrum when things don't go your way. Everyone around you will be miserable, and that makes for a horrible wedding. I think if you just try the best you can and remember a wedding is just one day things will turn out much better. And if something does go wrong, don't sweat it. Think if it as an opportunity to be on "America's Funniest Home Videos" as opposed to "Bridezillas".


Where's the funeral?

I just found out there's a new show on TV about weddings. Erin was watching it yesterday - I think it was a marathon because they just kept coming on, one after another. It was called "Four Weddings". Here's the premise. Take 4 brides that don't know each other. They all get to go to each others' weddings and then they rate them and the bride with the highest score gets a free fantastic honeymoon. They throw in some safety measures so that one bride isn't low-balling everyone else so she can win. These ladies have to judge on the dress, the venue, the food and the experience. So, is this what guests expect when they go to a wedding? Do they sit around and say things like, "Oh, that dress isn't what I'd wear at all, but it looks wonderful on her." Nothing quite like a backhanded compliment. All of these things are supposed to be a personal reflection of the couple, aren't they? Okay, except for the food - bad food is bad and there's no way around that, although one bride was Indian and so of course she served Indian food. One of the other brides just didn't like it because she said she was a carnivore and there was no meat. In my house we call that being a picky eater. I thought maybe there'd be some good ideas for wedding and reception planning, but it seemed for the most part all of these ladies had crazy budgets and were very over the top. I believe one woman spent $150,000 on her wedding. And, of course, she also won the contest so she got the free honeymoon. Does someone that frivolous deserve a free vacation? Not in my book. I think the least amount a couple spent on their wedding was $20,000. Do they save up forever or do they just go into debt? After watching several episodes I decided none of these brides would give me high scores for anything except the food. That's okay, though, because our wedding isn't about 3 strangers coming in and criticizing people they don't know. Their opinions don't matter. As long as Jerry and I are happy and our friends and family have a good time, we're the real winners. No contest.


Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I hear that all the time. In my case it's more of an impatience than a necessity, though. Couldn't find the little pink cherry blossoms I was looking for when I went to the craft store. They only had fall colors out now - there weren't even any in the clearance buggy in the front of the store. I pulled the sample flower I keep in my purse out and compared to everything that seemed remotely close. If they'd only had the hydrangeas in pink instead of just blue they would have worked. Guess I was still going to have to keep looking. Wonder what the odds would be that same exact flower would be back in the store next spring? Since they were 99 cents, I'm thinking pretty low. decided then I'd just check at, you guessed it, Wal-Mart, the next time I went. I strolled down their artificial flower aisle and didn't see too much pink. There were those same hydrangeas that Michael's had in blue. Doesn't anyone want pink anymore? There were some cherry blossoms. They were the right color but slightly bigger. I guess they'd work. I put the $5 branch in my basket. After pushing my squeaky cart around (and I wonder how they can get so squeaky so fast - they just replaced all their carts about a month ago) I decided to go back for one more look around the flower aisle. I spotted a large branch of baby's breath, but when I pulled out my sample flower, they were the same size. Only problem was these were white and mine were pink. I stood there thinking a minute and decided I could paint them. If they didn't look good enough, I could glue them on my shoes since they won't be seen anyway. And, as a bonus, these flowers were $2 compared to the $5 cherry blossoms. Next step is to head over to the checkout. I get in the shortest line. I notice the checkout lady's name; it's Precious. I try being friendly, because I know checkout people have crappy days sometimes and feel underappreciated. "I love your name," I lie. I think it's crazy and for some reason reminds me of "Lord of the Rings". She barely says thanks and gets on with her scanning. We're doing well until we get to the last item, my flowers. Oh, crap, there's no price tag on them. I tell her it's $2, hoping she'll just take my word for it like they sometimes do and just enter the price in by hand but she says she needs the section code on it. I expect her to call someone over to run and check on it for me, but no, Precious decides she needs to leave her register herself and go hunt down the price. The guy behind me says, "I hope she knows where she's going." Looking in his cart I see his case of beer and know, that even though it's 10 a.m. on a Friday morning, he's probably looking to crack one open as soon as he gets home if he can wait that long. I look behind him and see the line behind me growing with elderly folks. This must be their regular shopping time. Can't they see there's no cashier here, that the line has stopped moving? I try to wave them off to another line but they just think I'm being friendly and wave back. I decide that she was given her name to be used in a sentence like, "She'll waste a lot of your precious time." Precious comes back, rings up my flowers as the $2 I told her it was. I get home and go through my box of paints, pulling out a pale yellow, pale pink and darker pink and pour a dollop of each out onto a paper plate (this is what I use for my palette). I sat there and painted each and every little white flower until it was very close to my original flowers. Now all I have to do is sew them on the dress!


Is wedding fever contagious, like yawning or disco fever?

I'm starting to wonder about it. My sister's oldest and dearest friend in the world, Catina, sent me a FaceBook message asking if I'd ever thought about doing wedding photography. I half-jokingly told her I actually had thought of it before, but one viewing of "Bridezillas" and that idea got dropped fast. I can't imagine someone blaming me for ruining their special day. I thought maybe she was just asking me a general question because she knows how artistic I am, and how I can do just about anything, and has seen my wonderful photography, but no. Her little sister is getting married and she was looking for someone she knew and trusted to do it on the cheap. Not that I blame her - being thrifty is always a good idea. I told her to let me shoot some engagement pictures and see if her sister even liked what I did, that way there's no pressure (for her or me because frankly I don't know if I can or will do it). Catina even offered to let me use her camera, which suits me just fine as it'll save wear on my own. Apparently digital cameras can only take so many pictures before they fizzle out. After that conversation we kept messaging...has she set a date? What are her colors? I sent Catina over to, and she was thrilled! Then we started talking about flowers and I emailed her a picture of my button bouquet, which she also loved. And little entrepreneur Erin chimed in, "Tell her to look at those cake toppers. I can make her one if she wants." Unfortunately she wants a silver monogram and not a cute little Sculpey animal couple, so Erin lost out on that potential job. Always thinking, though, that kid. Catina just got married herself a little over 2 years ago, but now that her sister's engaged I think she's caught another round of wedding fever.


Something seems to be going around..

Everybody has some type of ailment or another. Jerry's on antibiotics and other medications, Erin can't breathe or swallow without hurting, Marilyn's chronic condition is acting up again, and me, well, my throat is starting to hurt and my eye makes that squishy sound when I press on the inner corner. Maybe I'll break out the neti pot and see if that won't help me a bit. Gotta give Oprah and Dr. Oz credit here; I'd never heard of a neti pot until I happened to be watching her show one day. He pulled a lady with sinus problems out of the audience and there on national TV convinced her to stick the spout of a small teapot up her nose, tilt her head to the side and let the water drain through her sinuses into a bowl in front of her. Apparently they've been doing this in some parts of the world for centuries. I've had sinus problems for years, so I looked into it. Wow, those neti pots are expensive! They seem to hover around the $20 mark. Now, I'm just telling you this because it worked for me. I found a small ceramic tea pot for $1 and thoroughly sterilized it. I don't see why the plastic ones that come in a little girl's tea service wouldn't work just as well. It's all the same concept - a pot that holds water and a spout to stick up your nose and pour it in. There are some tricks to it, though. You need to add a little salt to your water, making it saline. I just pour some from the shaker into the palm of my hand (I guess most people call that exact measurement a "pinch") and toss it in. Second, you'll want the water pretty warm. If it's too cold you'll feel like you're drowning. I also fill my pot up through the spout, warming that part up as well. Then you just hold your breath, stick the spout up your nose, try not to laugh at your image in the mirror, and tilt your head to the side, pouring the warm saline into your sinus. Just wait a bit and it should drain out the other nostril. There are tons of videos on YouTube if my description just isn't good enough. Be prepared with a towel to dry your face, and also have some tissues on hand to blow your nose. Of course, it takes more than just once to keep the germs at bay. I stepped away from typing to use my neti pot and my eye is no longer squeaking. Thank goodness! Hopefully this will keep whatever crud was trying to creep up on me at bay. I wish all my ill loved ones could get better just by pouring a little saline through their sinuses.


Going Green

I had to go to the craft store yesterday to pick up stuff Wal-Mart has decided it doesn't have to carry anymore. Guess there's not enough profit in glue sticks for hot glue guns anymore. I remembered Jerry mentioning he really loved the color lime green once while we were watching TV. Since I was already there, I decided to browse the ribbon section. Of course, that had to be the aisle where 2 rather large women decided to have a discussion about how this particular craft store never has what they want. I guess it made them feel better to stand there and talk about it amongst themselves as opposed to asking the manager if he would order the items they like and have a more enjoyable shopping experience. I found a dusky green and an emerald green immediately, but had to squeeze behind these ladies on my search for the lime green ribbon. I found it in grosgrain and decided to go with that. When I got home I couldn't wait to work on my flowers again, so I pulled the emptied Slim Jim can out. Yes, I have my bouquet standing in a Slim Jim can - it's the world's best hillbilly vase! I've discovered that the wires do tend to get tangled. I pulled out a ribbon flower and cut a piece of lime green ribbon, threading it up the wire and twisting it into place. Wow, that color looks great with the other colors! I'm not going to overdo it, just a shock of green here and there should be all I need. Once I got all the button flowers, and the felt flowers, and the ribbon flowers and the tissue paper and coffee filter flowers untangled, I decided to count them. I've made 99 individual flowers! I've got one more bag of wires, so I guess I'll make those into flowers, too, since I've still got ribbon and tissue. I even got some free tissue when I had to get Erin some silly things from a costume store for Homecoming week - they wrap their things in black tissue, so I just asked for some and the salesgirl put several sheets in my shopping bag. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.


I need a vacation!

Sometimes I just feel completely worn out and tired. Like a lot of people I hear about, I work too hard and go too long without any time off. That's not good for the body, much less the soul. I get 10 whole days of vacation time a year, so I try to hoard them like a miser. At least at this particular job they roll over into the next year. The last place I worked you had to use them before the end of the year or forfeit them. That was stupid, because they had a lot of people taking their mandatory vacation at the same time. Oh, well, I'm not in charge of that company so it doesn't matter. Besides, if I was I wouldn't have let such a hard worker like me go in favor of outsourcing the work to India. I didn't get fired, I quit when they cut my pay 30%. I told them if they could get my bills cut 30% I'd stay, otherwise I'd have to find work somewhere else. The line of work I'm in, as I've said before, you get paid by the line, so the more lines you type the more you get paid. I'm fast, so I do the amount of work of at least 2 regular people. I even explained to them how they should bump my pay back up to where it was - they should think about how when one person does the work of 2, they save on health insurance and other benefits they pay out. They just didn't care. I'm at a much better work place now. Funny thing is, now I get emails from the former employer asking me to come work for them. Guess that outsourcing didn't work out too well. I can't imagine someone who has English as a second language being able to understand what the hell some of these doctors I transcribe are half-attempting to say. They talk while eating a meal or rolling a piece of hard candy around in their mouth and clicking it against teeth with their tongues. They continue to talk while yawning or burping or coughing. They can't pronounce some of the medications their patients take and then they rush through dictation as fast as they possibly can because they aren't getting paid to sit down and dictate. So, with my personal experience I don't hold doctors up to the same god-like image that they do themselves sometimes. Back to needing time off. I actually broke down and took Thanksgiving Day off this year. I usually try and work the holidays (when you do medical type work, no day is a holiday) because the pay is good. Luckily this year both Christmas and New Year's Day fall on a day I'd be off anyway, so I'll be getting paid holiday time and not even working. Yay! I'm trying to save the rest of my vacation time for our honeymoon. We've been talking about lots of different places we'd like to go and haven't decided yet. I like the idea of San Francisco, where there's lots to see and do and you don't even need to rent a car. But then again, I like the idea of every other place we've talked about as well. We'll figure it out, and in the meantime I can just daydream and take a vacation in my head.


How To - Coffee Filter Flower

Going to try my hand at something new here - instructions! This is for a paper flower made from coffee filters. I'm pretty sure you can get about 200 filters for $1 or so, and a set of 24 wires costs $1 at Wal Mart (yes, they went up in price - when I first started making these flowers a few months ago they were only 77 cents - "Always a sneaky price increase - always"). With my math skills, I figure you can get 24 flowers out of that with a few filters left over for coffee. Yes, I know you could have actually gotten 25 flowers, but you only have 24 wires. Here are the simple steps to making your own flowers.

Step 1: Stack all 8 of the coffee filters together.

Step 2: Fold the filters in an accordion-like pattern (remember making paper fans as a kid? Just like that). The smaller your folds, the more petals you'll have.

Step 3: Find the middle of your wire and place it in the center of your folded filters. Twist tightly to hold the filters in place and then keep twisting until the wire is twisted all the way to the end.

Step 4: Shape the ends of the filters. A curved cut will give a soft look like a carnation, sharper cuts will make more of a dahlia look. On this particular flower I cut sharp edges and then cut down the center for a more interesting look.

Step 5: Open the folded filters back up.

Step 6: Separate the filter layers, pulling them apart to make the flower petals. A good thing about filters is they are much tougher than tissue paper, which you can use to make flowers in the same way, only cut squares instead of the circular filter shape to start out with.

Step 7: Fluff until you like the way the flower looks.


Drawing Conclusions

My brother-in-law Joe asked me to draw a picture of his father's old hardware store for a Christmas gift. Of course, I said yes because he gets a present to give to someone and I get money to use for Christmas. Sure do wish it was something other than a building. I've never gotten into architectural drawing. I much prefer the organic flow of natural things, like flowers or people's faces. I've even gotten away from drawing altogether lately in favor of painting. Maybe I've moved to another stage in my artistic life - much like Picasso's famous "blue period". Or rather, nothing at all like Picasso's "blue period", because I am not an abstract expressionist or a cubist or even someone just prone to painting two eyes on one side of a face. After I finish with Joe's first project he wants me to do a portrait of him, his son and his dad, 3 generations of military pilots. That'll take me about a week to do in my spare time. I just keep procrastinating on this building, hoping it will just draw itself. I'll eventually buckle down and make myself do it. Maybe I'll post it here when it's done, but definitely on my art website,, Jerry is so sweet enough to do for me.

While on the subject of creativity, yesterday I thought I was being so clever. I've taken photos for a how-to blog here on making a flower out of coffee filters. Clever up to the point of realizing the girls had taken my laptop out of town with them and I couldn't upload the pictures I had just taken. They'll be back today, so I will be able to work on it soon. Then I'll have to figure out how to post photos on this website without making them appear at the top of the text. One thing at a time. It's no wonder I feel like I'm overloaded with a bunch of half-finished projects lately. I'm ready to cross some things off my to-do list!


Fashion forward...or backwards, depending on your viewpoint

I feel like Edith Head or Irene Lentz! When I was a kid I had dreams of being the next big movie costume designer like these ladies. I don't know where that came from. I didn't even know how to sew at that point. Guess it kind of stayed in the back of my head. I make the girls' Halloween costumes, which requests seem to get more elaborate every year. I like the challenge, though. Since I had some free time today I decided to work on my dress a bit. Hard to believe that thing is at least 60 years old. It's held up well with no rips or tears. First thing I did was take it in on the sides. It won't fall down now, but breathing may be a little difficult. I think it'll be okay as long as I don't gain weight, and since I've weighed the same since I was 12, I don't really have too much to worry about. After that I started adding flowers to the bustline. Cute, tiny little pink cherry blossoms. Made it all around the top, the bottom, the sides, and the center. By then it was obvious I didn't have enough to fill the entire area as I envisioned, so I started scattering them. I sewed until I ran out of flowers, each one placed by hand. It looks good how it is; I like it already. Ideally, though, I would like to fill in the entire top. But, if I can't find the exact same flowers next time I go to Michael's, it'll be okay how it is. Then I did little things, like tack down the tag in the back. Much better! Okay, when are the next auditions for "Project Runway"?


Dearly Beloved....

We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. No, wait, that's a Prince song. Jerry and I've decided to ask someone we know to officiate our wedding - his friend Jerome. Yes, Jerome the Elvis tribute artist. I think it's a good idea. At least this way we know it won't be someone stuffy and over-formal. I guess our only problem is that he isn't an ordained minister, as the state in which we live requires a person officiating a wedding to be. Either that, or a judge. We soon solved that, though. It's way easier to get someone ordained than a judgeship, so that's the route we took. I did an internet search, read up on it and found the website They offer a free online ordainment. They even have a section that tells you if it's legal to use someone with their ordination to perform a wedding in your state. Apparently it's harder in a commonwealth, like Virginia, to have just anyone perform a wedding ceremony. Glad that's not where we live. I double-checked, though, and called the county in which we're getting married. The clerk told me they don't ask where the ordination comes from, but the minister does need to put his information on the paperwork. Then she gave me the number of the lady in control of processing all the marriage license paperwork through the state. Talking to the person at the top is always the best idea. She said they've had them come through before and it doesn't matter where they were licensed, as long as they were. Problem solved, unlike quite a few couples in Virginia who several decades ago thought they were "making it legal" with a preacher Jerry and Jerome know who wasn't "approved", only to find out more recently they've been living in sin this entire time. And think of their children - those poor bastards!


The Customer Isn't Always Right Anymore

I think I've been noticing the trend of people in customer service being burned out or just enjoying being an anonymous voice on the other end of a phone line so they can be rude without fear of someone climbing over a counter and grabbing them by the throat. Just yesterday my mom got a call saying her debit card information had been stolen and to please call this toll free number to confirm this strange account activity. Mom waso out of town, so I took the message. First thing I did was go online to check that phone number. About half the of the postings I read said it was a scam phone number, and the other half said it was a legitimate number for the bank. Great - typical internet help. I call the bank's official toll free number and get an automated system that doesn't let me select any button to talk to a human being. My next step was to call the local branch. I tell the girl what's going on and that I'd like to verify the toll free number the caller gave me. She said, "Well, it sounds like it might be one of our numbers." Way to check something out for me, lady. I asked if she had a list of number somewhere she could check. "Not here," she said. It was obvious she didn't want to get up out of her chair and look for one or ask anyone else, so I asked her if there was another number I could call. "You can call our main toll free number." Well, I had tried that and could not get a person on the line. When I told her about this, she insisted that I could get a person, I just had to listen to the entire recording. It took all I could not to call her a moron. Instead I kurtly said, "I did listen to the entire recording and there is no such prompt, but I will call it again and see if I can find a way to get in touch with someone who can help me." When I called the number and listened again, I still didn't get a prompt for speaking to a customer service representative, so I improvised and pretended I wanted to open an account. Once that friendly voice was on the line, she verified the phone number for me and I let my mom know what was going on. Mom's information did get stolen but the bank stopped the thieves from draining her account, thank goodness! So, all is well and all it cost me was some frustration. I wonder if you can sue someone for driving you to drink.


Chew on This

Have you ever been eating when suddenly, out of nowhere, your cheek makes a suicidal move and gets in between your teeth? That happened to me yesterday morning while I was chomping on some Cheerios. I was chewing so hard that when I bit my cheek I could hear the crunching sound. Now, of course, it's swollen and every time I eat I have to chew very carefully. Even considering that, yesterday was still better than the day before. I think taking a nap had something to do with it. Both the girls and I love taking naps. That's kind of funny because when they each turned 2, they gave up naps cold turkey. Guess they've finally realized what they've been missing all these years.

I've got a budget update and thought I'd break it down here. Last time I mentioned a total it was $22.77. I've been busy since then apparently. Spent $1.88 on pink tulle, a total of $35 on 2 sterling rings (I'll have to add in the engraving cost later), $21.86 for the 2 bridesmaids dresses, and $4 for the fabric rose petals. This brings the total up to $85.51. Still not to bad, as far as I'm concerned, especially since several of the items I've already purchased are big ticket items in most weddings (i.e. the dress and the rings). I'm almost positive we can keep this entire shindig under $1000 - I'm hoping way under, even though according to my list there's still a lot left to do. Guess I'll chew on that for a while.


The Dark Side

Boy, am I glad yesterday's finally over! I think it would be quicker to just name off the things that went right yesterday as opposed to listing all the bad things that happened. Going to try not to dwell on things and remember that today's a new day. It had better start picking up soon, though - there's no work again this morning. This weekend I went over to the dark side, but not like Darth Vader. I've changed my hair color. It still has plenty of red in it - I don't think there's a way to ever get rid of it all - it's just a dark brown now with lots of red undertones. I like it, but I think it will take some getting used to. Even Erin said she liked it, and I was really afraid she was going to say she didn't because I didn't look like Phoenix from X-Men anymore. I had Marilyn try on both bridesmaids dresses Saturday while Erin was at her school dance. I know they were a bigger size than the girls are, but they weren't nearly as large as I thought they would be. It won't take much altering at all, thank goodness. It was also a nice bonus that she said she still liked them when I pulled them out of the back of the closet. And we held the shoes up next to them and even though they are darker, they still match. At least Saturday went well.


Flowery Thoughts

The more I think about it, the more I think I'd love to have a flower girl. Some people refuse to have children in their wedding, I guess because they're control freaks and are afraid something will go "wrong". I don't think that way at all. It would be so sweet! I guess my only problem is I don't know any little girls. Erin at 12 going on 21 is past this job, although I know age discrimination is illegal. Jerry, however, does know a little girl. I hear she's just a doll and doesn't seem to be past the age limit. She's Coy's big sister, Kendall. Remember Coy? He's Jerry's little grand nephew, the one I'd like to be ring bearer, complete with superhero costume. I know that sounds like I'm joking, but I'm totally serious. Kendall won't need to dress in costume, though. I'd love to get her a cute little dress in one of our wedding colors. I understand her birthday is on the weekend we're planning the wedding. I think almost all little girls love weddings and parties, so I think she'd have a good time. I'd also have no problem getting her a little cake of her own and having a little time set aside for everyone to sing "Happy Birthday" to her. I guess the next step will be to run this brilliant idea by Kendall's parents and grandparents and see what they think. I'm hoping this would be a great opportunity for a nice family trip. The beach is only 1-1/2 hours away from where we're having the wedding if they'd like to extend their trip a little longer than just the wedding, and it would be a perfect way for our families to meet.