Wednesday, November 30, 2011

the last day of Movember

Do we all know how much i hate facial hair?
I despise it.
There are some ethnicities and cultures where facial hair looks good on a man, but pretty much anyone with European genetic stock should just not bother, in my opinion, unless he is actually a Viking. And i really, really hate it when a guy tries to grow facial hair to look older cause you know what, you look like a young guy trying to look older - stop it.
Which is why it might shock some to know that i supported both male members of my team growing 'staches for Movember. If you haven't heard of it, in Movember, men grow mustaches to raise money and awareness for men's health issues, like prostate cancer. How can i not support prostate cancer awareness, even if it makes me cringe when i look at them?
However, i am very glad that tomorrow is shaving day because not only did my two do it, but two other members of the Education Department grew mustaches along with them. shudder
For more information, to make a donation or simply to laugh at them, you can find TM Chris' team under TSP and Friends.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dole Plantation

[NOTE: these pics were taken in 2010]
When i was in Hawaii i had a few days to do non-work related things. A friend had been to Oahu a few years earlier and told me that one of her favorite places was the Dole Plantation so after the canoe surfing adventure i set out with my trusty map towards the North Shore.

it looks like botanical fire

As one might expect the grounds were breath-takingly beautiful, featuring this awesome pointy plant that i had never seen before,
and, of course, pineapples. In fact, there were so many fruit bearing plants that in the parking lot i chuckled to find this sign:
There are a number of things to explore at the plantation - store, restaurant, gardens, world's largest pineapple maze, train ride - but i arrived only two hours before they closed so i had to make a strategic plan to see as much as possible.
If you know me at all i bet that you can guess that my number one option was the train tour; i don't know what it is about little trains, but i LOVE them. 

The Pineapple Express took us on a narrated tour through the pineapple fields and grounds of the Plantation:

hello wooden cutout of a worker

hello lychee trees

hello gorgeous red soil

Did you know that pineapples grew on the ground?
Cause i thought that they grew on trees.

They grow on short ground plants that are individually hand seeded,

then hand picked and put on one of these conveyors to be transported to shipping.

The train did a turn around in a beautifully cultivated garden where various shrubs grew in the shape of pineapples.

Also, it took us by a lovely reservoir with mountains in the distance.

hello cool looking machine that i have no idea what you do

The train tracks went right in among the plants, sometimes so close that you could reach out and touch them.
There were lots of crops besides pineapples, like the lychee trees pictured earlier, macadamia nut trees and row after row of birds of paradise.

Right by the train station is the variety garden where you can see the different types of pineapples.
Heck, i didn't even know that there were different types of pineapples.

lordy, isn't it adorable

this pink guy is so big it fell over;
no, i have no idea what variety it is
I made a stop at the nearby pond where i encountered tourist fish:

These koi are so forceful about being fed by humans that they actually come out of the water.

I decided it was time to hit the store which was quite randomly surrounded by peacocks and peahens.
I don't really think peacock when i think Hawaii, but okay.
After some shopping and wandering i worked up the courage to try the house specialty, a type of soft-serve called Pineapple Whip even though i am no big fan of pineapple:

if only they had these dishes i definitely would have bought a set
It was surprisingly delicious.
Here i am enjoying my cone next to a perfect little pineapple.

i'm Pineapple Pete

and whatever the female version of Pineapple Pete is called

almost five thousand miles away from home

[look Rea: one of the fabled last five Hawaii posts]

Friday, November 25, 2011

mmmmmm... turkey

Since all of my relatives live in other states, i tend to borrow families for holidays. Here is the motley assortment of characters at Kate and Jason's yesterday:
 Babysitter Nicole (she didn't have time to go home for the holiday, plus it was her birthday so she hung out with us), J's mom Bebe, K's mom Cass, Jason, K's Aunt Felicia, J's stepdad Marty, grinning idiot, Dash - Kate is taking the picture.
I look like a hyena in the picture cause i was trying to get Dash to turn around to the camera.
silly monkey

He, however, had more important things on his mind, like how to get both tubes of food into his mouth at once.

I am so grateful to have another family when mine is so far away.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Despair not for what you lack,
Rejoice instead for what you've been given.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

is this a sign of the apocalypse?

Yes, that is a cat eating a Dorito.
I am housesitting tonight for fTM Erin and Bria stuck her head into the bag while i was snacking. I figured she might sniff one or maybe lick at the cheese powder, but she ate it.
Ate it.
That is not natural, people.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

an anniversary of sorts

A year ago i was in cascading endocrine crisis.
My own body was trying to kill me.
Did i mention that it was not a lot of fun?
But here we are with me healthy and happy and as sparkly/ornery as ever.
Thank God.
I met with a personal trainer last night for the first time to begin rebuilding my fitness routine. We were talking about how disheartening it could be to have to redo all of the hard work i already did a few years ago; to have to start over from scratch.
But i find myself less bothered by it than you might think. Results should be faster this time because i have prior knowledge, plus i don't have any other choice. This is where life has brought me and until someone figures out quantum dimensions, our time stream only flows in one direction.
This week's quote is from Garth Nix's Superior Saturday:
"In general, one cannot go back. But in going forward, you may achieve some of what you desired of the past. If you survive, anything may happen."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

drinking alone

You've been performing on a stage that was approximately the temperature of the surface if the Sun.
You're crazy dehydrated.
You've blown your voice.
Your vocal cords feel like they are on fire.
You need cold, refreshing liquid and you need it now.
There is no time for some namby-pamby glass.

Living alone means no one is gonna judge you for this.
Of course, it also means that there is no one to appreciate that you match your crazy straws to your beverage.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

south mountain creamery

If you ever happen to be out cruising around the back roads of Frederick County, MD and suddenly on every side of the road there are delivery trucks painted with cows and as cows, you've probably stumbled upon South Mountain Creamery.

This place is legend on the team because it is from here that TM Sam's family gets their milk, yogurt and ice cream delivered. Did you know that in this day and age you can still even get milk delivered to your house?
Sam and I were out driving during lunch one day when she said, Turn here; i think South Mountain is somewhere down there.
We drove and drove, the cow trucks telling us that we were getting close. Finally we spotted it and stopped for a little snack. The tiny store not only has their products, but other local goods as well. I bought some pickles and homemade pumpkin spice granola. And, of course, some ice cream.
The best part is that the store is right next to the milking barn so as you enjoy your Golden Roof (their version of Tin Roof) and Apple Pie ice creams you can sit and talk to the cows.
Thank you #316; your milk made delicious ice cream.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I've lost my voice.
Me without my voice is like moni cheese without any cheese.
Asking me not to talk is like asking me not to breathe.
I even talk to myself, for goodness sakes.
Obviously my job revolves around my voice (luckily i don't have any shows today), but so does my personality. I am the person who always says Hello, How are you?, Have a nice day, Thank you, etc. I think it is important to be polite, but also to be personable; it is the tiny interactions that we have with the people around us that build the foundations of relationships. I just heard someone sneeze on the other side of the room and started to call out Bless You automatically and only stopped because the first syllable hurt my throat.
This is ridiculous, people.
My voice is one of my defining characteristics; without it i feel lost and awkward.
Plus, there is a tiny irrational fear way in the back of my mind whispering, What if it never comes back? What if you are mute forever? What in the world would i do, people?
I have to be at work today because there is a ton of things on my desk so i came prepared:

Not only can i try to act like myself, i can let people know why i am acting so strangely. Plus it is important that no one tries to talk to me; i may not be able to not talk back. I'm gonna need all the help i can get to make it through the day in silence.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Some days are just a zombie apocalypse and a girl has to take herself out to lunch to keep from going insane.
On days like that i like to treat myself to trying new places.
I've driven by Dusenberg's in Catonsville a jillion times, but never eaten there,(mayhaps because until recently they only had breakfast and lunch hours) but on this particular day i decided that it was time to see what was what at this local eatery.
I knew i had made the right decision when i saw fresh, seasonal flowers on the table.
I really love that.

The scuttlebutt on this place is all about the sandwiches, so i went with a hot roast beef with melted havarti on rye and wasabi sauce. Keeping with the new feeling of the outing i opted to try their green bean fries.
Look at this ridiculous order:
Can you even believe the size of that thing?
I'm supposed to eat that how?
And how about this Smith Island cake for dessert?

Also ridiculous.
Ridiculous, but delicious.

Everything was tasty and the service was super friendly if a little slow (they were slamming busy).
I spent more on lunch than i normally would, but considering that i ate it for both lunch and dinner that was okay.
I'll be back the next time zombies are getting me down.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

the end of an era

I have had the same cell phone for five years.
That's right, i said five years.
Isn't that like 900 in technology-years?
I love my phone.
It was a gift from dear friends and it does what i need it to do.
At least it did until yesterday morning.
The alarm went off at 5am, no problem.
It went off again at 6am, no problem.
(i was playing the early-morning laundry game, you see)
When i looked at it at 6:45 it was off and wouldn't turn back on.
I can't complain because it lived well beyond what i assume would be its natural lifespan.
So i actually had to go get a new cell phone.
I doubt it will be as great as my old one, but i'm hopeful.

bye-bye my loyal little friend

Friday, November 11, 2011

guess what i found

Oh commonplace book, why did you roam?
I found you in a bag, under a chair.
How did you even get there?
I don't remember using that bag in the last month, much less putting you in there.
dang gremlins...
Anyhoo, since i am so joyful that you are found, i am putting up a happy quote from Nietzsche; yes, i acknowledge the craziness of the the phrase a happy quote from Nietzsche:
And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.
 Okay, perhaps it is not flat-out happy, but it is a joyful quote to me because i tend to dance and laugh everyday and believe with my whole heart that joy is the key to long life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

things you might see at work

Well, things you might see at my work, at least.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Has anyone seen my commonplace book?

Really, people, where is my commonplace book?
Have you seen it?
My quote hasn't changed this week because i haven't seen hide nor hair of my book.
Where can it be?
It looks like this, so let me know if you find it.

Oktoberfest at Blob's Park

fTM Felicia put together an excursion to a local biergarten for Oktoberfest. When she sent the original email it included the phrases can't quite shake the Moose Lodge feel... and attending the wedding reception of a relative you don't know... both of which made it imperative that i went. Let me tell you, she was not kidding, people. It was amazingly corny. There was paneling, grown men in lederhosen, people playing their own accordions; i wish i could truly convey how awesomely ridiculous the whole extravaganza was. I, of course, pinned up maiden braids across my head to get in a festive mood.
Here we are, Felicia's boyfriend Danny, Felicia, Abby, Lt Com. Laura, Laura's husband Kris, coworker Brian, former coworker and Jami's boyfriend Will, coworker Jami and me:
The food and service were terrible; i mean, horrifically bad. We never saw a waitress and they ran out of food. Perhaps it was just an off night, but if you go, be sure to eat ahead of time.
 However, the entertainment more than made up for it. Polka Family was the band that night and the lead singer made sure that we were fully aware that they had been nominated four times for a Grammy Award; i didn't know there was a Grammy for polka, but okay. They were really good and did a great job of mixing traditional polkas with oom-pahed versions of popular songs. Did i mention that they had groupies? White haired groupies who brought their own cow bells and washboards to play along? I couldn't make this stuff up.
In between sets, there was a local German dance group that shared traditional dances and a bit of cultural background.


It seems that the guys do a lot of the fancy footwork while the girls spin, and i mean they spin and spin and spin - i don't understand how they didn't fall down. It was mesmerizing.
The group's leader, in a fabulous thick accent, talked about the genesis of each dance, including this one The Blacksmith's Dance:

Wait, did you just ask if there was a Maypole at any point?
Oh, you bet your bippy they broke out a maypole:


 I had no idea that there are all sorts of intricate weavings, having only ever seen/done the traditional over/under steps. It was so cool to be watching the dancers and then see the patterns emerge in the ribbons.
Being out where people are dancing is one of the few times that i really mind being single; i love, love, love to dance. Anyone who has ever seen me dance can attest to the fact that i am, in fact, a horrendously bad dancer, but i do it with a lot of gusto. Well into the evening they were doing a second or third round of audience participation dances and i was vibrating a little in my seat when Kris shouted Let's GO! from the other end of the table. Lt. Com. Laura wanted absolutely nothing to do with dancing so i went out onto the floor with her husband.
We did this fun dance where you circle and switch partners. When i was with someone besides Kris i did a passable polka/fast waltz, but when Kris and I were partnered he said Go Crazy so we did. Here, because i can take the teasing, is a video of the resulting carnage - the laughter in the foreground is Laura and Jami:

Speaking of Jami, she had no idea how to polka or even waltz so i spent a goodly portion of the evening explaining and pointing out different steps. Finally, she and Will were feeling brave enough to go out and try it. The picture is a bit fuzzy, which is how Will described feeling after doing the polka; in fact, he had to sit down to keep from falling down. Amateurs. :-)

Finally, i'll leave you with this video. The dancers brought out cow and sheep bells to play songs. What? you say. I was just as puzzled, but it was fabulous; in fact, i apologize if i was singing along in the video. You gotta watch to the end to see the oldster throw his hat: