Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scared?

Ah… Halloween… that time of year when I lock the gate to my front porch, turn off all the lights, and sneak off to dinner at a nice restaurant where I can wile away the hours and not deal with the candy-seeking, costumed children. Is that mean? Nah… what would be mean would be to actually answer the door and drop one of those “why we don’t celebrate Halloween” pamphlets into the kids’ bags. I always hated it when people did that… just leave your lights off if you don’t want to give away candy. Don’t present the ILLUSION of a house with candy only to hand out a paper pamphlet that will immediately find its way into the garbage once the night is over…

Of course, I think the whole idea of Halloween is rather bizarre and confusing. I mean, 364 days a year, we tell kids NOT to take candy from strangers. A wise admonishment, I think. And then Halloween comes along, and all of a sudden we’re ENCOURAGING kids to take candy from strangers. Talk about mixed messages… :)

I can’t remember ever really being all that enthralled with Halloween, even when I was a kid. I seem to remember thinking it was quite strange to knock on people’s doors and expect them to simply give me candy when they didn’t even KNOW me. It was a bit embarrassing, really – why should I assume that anyone would want to give me Hershey bars and Tootsie Pops and candy corn when I haven’t so much as properly introduced myself? Wouldn’t that be rather presumptuous of me?

Anyway, it’s better to go out for dinner ONE night and skip all the candy-giving, instead of having bags of leftover candy lying around the house – which I would, no doubt, eat with absolutely no discretion whatsoever, leaving me with feelings of remorse and possibly an upset stomach. And I’ve been doing so well with eating right and exercising lately – best to not ruin a good thing. At least not until I go to Hawaii… and then I plan to ruin it all… :)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Weirdest piece of mail ever...

So we got the mail on our way back from lunch today, and in addition to this month’s issue of National Geographic and the usual bills and ads, there was a small, nondescript envelope in the box. The return address was some place called the “Neptune Society.” And on the front, in cheerful blue script, the envelope offered a “free pre-paid cremation!” (Um, I’m sorry – did you say free pre-paid cremation?) I had to read it a couple times to make sure I hadn’t misread. Like maybe it said something about a free pre-paid coffeemaker… or free ice cream? Crayons? Cranberries? Creamsicles? No… nope… it was definitely cremation…

So I opened the envelope and read about how cremation is becoming a more popular funeral choice for Americans, and this “Neptune Society” holds a drawing every month for a free cremation. Last month’s winner was some guy named Albert England (who may or may not continue to live among us on this mortal plane…). And apparently Rick (as it was addressed to Rick) could be this month’s winner! Hooray cremation! (The fact that “free pre-paid cremation!” ends with an exclamation point is somewhat disturbing to me…) I’m still trying to figure out why this organization is called the “Neptune Society.” Neptune is the Roman god of the sea… what does that have to do with funerals and cremation? Unless it’s an allusion to the fact that some people request their ashes be scattered at sea… scattered at sea with Neptune…

My favorite part of this bizarre little mailing is a bit of fine print at the end which reads, “please accept our apologies if this letter has reached you at a time of serious illness or death in your family.” Because I guess winning a free cremation is only fun when you don’t actually NEED it… :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cue the music...

I’m listening to a CD that Eric made for me last Christmas – a compilation of “Chicago” songs… songs that either mention Chicago, or were sung by people from Chicago. A little Frank Sinatra, a little Elvis, plus some Snow Patrol and The Fray and My Chemical Romance. Eric, like me, has this great eclectic musical taste – interests spanning the centuries. Depending on my mood, I can be listening to anything from Bach to Beethoven to Billy Joel to Barenaked Ladies to Beck to Beyonce – and it’s not unusual that I might listen to a song or two from each one, right after another, just to mix things up. Gotta keep it interesting, right?

When I think back on how many times music has been a presence in my life, I sometimes wish I could have my very own life soundtrack. I mean, all those people in movies and on TV get soundtracks – why shouldn’t we have them in real life? Some situations just seem to lend themselves to soundtracks – watching a sunset (something nice and soothing, or perhaps big and dramatic)… waiting in line at the DMV (a kooky, silly song would be just the thing to illustrate the absurdity of the DMV)… running into a good friend (cue the happy music)… or perhaps someone you wish you HADN’T run into (Simple Plan’s “Vacation” is coming to mind). Of course, everyone would have a different soundtrack, and all that music would just create one big mishmashed cacophony…

There are so many memories in my life that are linked to music. Like helping my mom make Christmas cookies in our first house on Pioneer Drive… although I’m not sure how much I “helped” when I was little. Maybe it was more like I watched my mom make Christmas cookies, and then “helped” her lick the batter off the spoon… and then soon afterward I would “help” her sample the frosting and then “help” her eat a few cookies to make sure they were just right. But there would always be Christmas music in the background – the Christmas cookie-making soundtrack consisted of Barbra Streisand’s Christmas record, and I believe a singer named “Evie” who appeared on her album cover with 70’s feathered blond hair. I can still remember Barbra’s extra-fast version of “Jingle Bells,” which I’d always try to sing when the record was playing. I haven’t heard that particular arrangement in a while, but any time I do hear it, it immediately takes me back to that kitchen on Pioneer Drive…

When I was a senior in high school, that B-52’s song “Love Shack” was really popular. And for some reason, when it got to the part about “juke-box money,” I would always hear “don’t forget to bring your juice box money.” I think maybe because kids used to play that song after school when they were hanging out in the cafeteria… don’t even ask me why kids were hanging out in the cafeteria after school… But it would be playing in the cafeteria, and I would think about that juice box I’d brought with my lunch that afternoon, and then there it was in the song – juice box money. And I still think of my school cafeteria when I hear that stupid song… and cran-apple juice boxes…

Some songs make great road-trip songs… I remember one time when I was riding in a car with Dave and Eric, and they both sang along to every word of Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” All seven and a half minutes of it. And as I sat quietly in the back of the car, I couldn’t help but wonder how many other times they’d sung along with that song… I mean, they had it down pat. Something told me they’d been practicing before I got there… I’ve always preferred to listen to music when I’m driving in a car, as opposed to, say, listening to talk radio. Talk radio just doesn’t provide the right road-trip soundtrack…

So what would be my blog-writing soundtrack? I suppose, like the rest of life, it would change on a daily basis. Today, it happens to be Frank Sinatra, Elvis and The Fray…

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More random thoughts...

This morning I had to toss poor little Piva into a cat carrier and haul her off to the vet to be spayed. She was NOT happy about that. Actually, at first she didn’t seem to care that I was stuffing her into a tiny little box… and even after the door was closed, she silently sniffed around for a few moments before realizing I wasn’t going to let her out. And THEN she got upset. I hate taking animals to the vet… our pets trust us and love us unconditionally – so it’s heartbreaking when you can’t explain to them what’s going on, or why you’ve suddenly seemed to turn into a bad guy. But the great thing about pets is that they forgive and forget very quickly… so hopefully tomorrow Piva and I can put this whole ugly incident behind us…

Well, I must say that I am very, very disappointed in the Cleveland Indians. I thought Cleveland was supposed to rock… I was obviously sorely mistaken. (By the way, mom – I hope you called Mr. May and let him know how bad his team is… :)) I am now (temporarily) a Colorado Rockies fan. Although I would’ve been rooting for the Rockies even if Cleveland had won… but now that Boston is in the series, I’m REALLY rooting for the Rockies. So here’s hoping the entire Red Sox team develops some disorienting altitude sickness symptoms… even when they’re playing in Boston… :)

I just saw the weirdest commercial – it was for some kind of new cheese that contains “live and active cultures.” Like yogurt… it’s supposed to be good for the digestive system. Okay, whatever, that’s fine… that’s not the weird part. The commercial shows people munching their cheese cubes in various places – someone is sitting on their porch having a snack… another is eating in the kitchen. And then in the final shot, someone picks up a beach tote with a package of cheese cubes poking out the top and strolls down the beach. Because obviously one of the first things that comes to mind when we think of the beach is “cheese.” I mean, I know I love to pack a bunch of cheese cubes to take with me when I’m going to be laying out in the hot sun for a couple hours – swimsuit? Check. Flip flops? Check. Beach towel? Check. Big ol’ bag of cheese? Check. (Do advertising agencies even THINK before they create these things? Who takes cheese to the beach?? Or does EVERYONE take cheese to the beach, and I’m totally missing out on something? Guess we should pack some cheese to take with us to Kauai…)

So I believe I’m coming down with a cold – probably the same one Rick just got over. My normally super-strong immune system has been rather lackluster lately. I just had a cold a few months ago. I rarely get more than one cold in a year, so this is strange. I believe Rick is trying to pay me back for that cold from a few months ago, which I contracted first and then quickly passed along to him… so now he’s returning the favor…

It’s actually been COOL here the last couple days… it’s only 56 degrees right now, and sunny with cloudless blue skies – this is the perfect kind of autumn day that we rarely see here in Austin. It actually FEELS like October for the first time all month. It makes drinking cups of hot chocolate and watching TV underneath a fuzzy blanket seem season-appropriate. (Otherwise, I have to turn the A/C way down and waste energy, and Rick hates that… :))

I guess that’s all for today… I need to go put my cheese in my suitcase… I don’t want to forget to pack it for Hawaii…

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday randomness...

It was 60 degrees when I got up this morning. 60 degrees! So I immediately threw on a long-sleeved shirt, knowing full well the thermometer would climb throughout most of the day – by the time I went out for coffee, it was already 71… and now it’s somewhere between 76 and 91, depending on which thermometer reading I want to believe. (How can there be such disparity between readings, you ask? Yes, I often wonder that myself… Well, “91” is what my thermometer out by the pool equipment is saying… I tend to think it's usually off in the early afternoons, because the sun is directly hitting it…) But I am hopeful that this morning was a sign of cooler weather to come…

So I was disappointed that the Cleveland Indians were not able to clinch a spot in the World Series last night. Ever since the Yankees got knocked out of the running, I’ve been hoping for a Rockies/Indians series. The Rockies because they’ve never been to a series, so they might as well have a chance… and the Indians because a) they beat the Yankees, and it’s always best to say you were defeated by a GOOD team; and b) because I certainly don’t want Boston in the series. But either way, whether Boston or Cleveland makes it, I hope the Rockies win it all…

I have decided that whoever first created birthday cake ice cream should be awarded a Nobel Prize. If Al Gore can have one, then the person who dreamed up the creamy, vanilla icing-flavor of birthday cake ice cream should definitely get one. It’s only fair…

Does anyone else find it really strange that decorating front yards for Halloween has suddenly become trendy? I can’t remember anyone really decorating for Halloween that much before the last few years. I mean, sure, people might’ve carved some pumpkins and tied a few cornstalks to their front porch, but that was about it. And now, all of a sudden, people throw giant light-up jack-o-lanterns on their lawns, stretch fake cobwebs over their trees, and cover their houses with twinkling orange lights. And I find this kind of excessive decorating for such an inconsequential “holiday” to be extremely annoying. What’s next? Will Wal-Mart start selling giant, blow-up lawn hearts for Valentine’s Day? Will we see big light-up beer mugs on St. Patrick’s Day? Personally, I think this sudden interest in Halloween decorating stems from an impatience to start decorating for Christmas… October is obviously too early for Christmas decorations, so people do the next best thing – decorate for the silly Halloween holiday. Just be patient… Christmas will be here before you know it…

Well, Joe Torre is no longer with the Yankees, which makes me a little bit sad. But at the same time, I’m interested to see who might replace him. Will it be Don Mattingly? Or Joe Girardi? Or someone completely different? I’m sort of hoping for Mattingly, but I think Girardi might be good, too. I just don’t want to see a Lou Piniella-type in the dugout… that was one thing you could always say for Torre – he almost always managed to keep his cool, no matter what was going on out on the field. Piniella, on the other hand, has always had a penchant for throwing monumental tantrums… tantrums from which many toddlers in candy aisles could take pointers (start taking notes, two-year-olds… okay, learn to write, and THEN take notes…).

I guess that’s it for this semi-seasonal Friday afternoon. I hope you all have a great weekend! :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A cat truce?

I think there may have been some progress made in the Allegro/Piva relations in the household today. They’ve been tolerating each other over the last few weeks, but Allegro has seemed to mostly just want to be left alone – if Piva gets too close, Allegro will hiss just to let her know who’s boss… but then she’ll slowly slink away and find a quiet place to curl up and sleep. Piva, on the other hand, is a bit of an instigator – she will purposely hide underneath the cabinet in the front hallway and wait until Allegro walks by, at which point she’ll pop out and take a swipe at the surprised (and by this time, fairly annoyed) Allegro. This behavior has resulted in a few vocal feline arguments, which generally end with Piva retreating back under the cabinet and Allegro stalking off with her head held high and an obvious air of “I am the QUEEN of this house.”

So I found it strange this morning as I was eating my bowl of double chocolate cookie crisp (yes, I sometimes like to revert back to childhood when I eat breakfast… actually, I don’t think I ever HAD cookie crisp when I was a kid, so it’s only fair I should eat it now…) that I was hearing the pitter-patter of little cat paws all over the house, but nary a hiss. And sure enough, when I went to investigate, there was a blur of gray as Allegro ran down one hallway, followed by a blur of white as Piva ran in pursuit… not a minute later, the white blur headed into the bedroom, and the gray blur followed. Soon they both ended up in the living room – Piva on one side of the couch and Allegro on the other – and to my amusement, Allegro was crouched behind the couch in “ready to pounce” mode. If I’m not mistaken, these two cats were actually PLAYING together… as opposed to annoying each other, which is more often the case. This gives me hope that they’re finally learning to make the most of their situation – surely Allegro will like the idea of having company when we leave for a week in Hawaii next month, right? Well, that’s what I’m hoping, anyway…

I was planning on writing a bit more today, but time got away from me and I need to go hop on the treadmill for a little while… actually, I’ll probably turn it on and walk on it. Hopping on it just gets boring after a while… :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Brrr... chilly... sort of...

Well, we’re halfway through October, and this morning it was finally cool enough for a long-sleeved shirt. Of course, I’m so used to throwing on a t-shirt in the morning that I just automatically dressed as usual… and then when I stepped outside to head over to Starbucks, I was slightly taken aback by the chilly temperature and the misty rainfall. Autumn is here! (Maybe… it’s never really a certainty in Austin… but I am tentatively saying that autumn is here…)

So in an effort to escape this endless dreary, cool weather (I mean, it’s been like this ALL MORNING) we have a trip to Hawaii planned for next month. We’re going to the island of Kauai, and I can’t wait – especially because we finally convinced Eric to come along with us. After years of making up excuses like, “I’m highly allergic to pineapple” and “beach sand gives me a rash” and “I’m afraid of those guys who twirl fire batons at luaus,” he is at last coming with us to our lovely 50th state. And in addition to Eric, Eric and Debbie will be joining us, as well. Which is great, because they have had an absolutely INSANE few months, and nobody deserves a few days of lying on a beach and not worrying about anything more than they do.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Kauai… I think there’s a perception that all the Hawaiian islands are pretty much the same, and once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But they’re actually all very different. Maui was the first island we visited – it’s popular, so it’s more “touristy,” and surprisingly crowded. Maui is interesting because the island is sort of divided by the Haleakala volcano – everything west of the volcano is desert, and everything east of the volcano is rain forest. And at the top of the volcano, it’s only about 40 degrees because of the high altitude – something Rick and I failed to account for the first time we visited. I think I have a picture somewhere of me at the top of Haleakala in a tank top and a pair of shorts, smiling painfully in a way that says, “just take the stupid picture so we can get back down to sea level where it’s warm…”

We visited the Big Island a couple years ago, and like its name implies, it’s the biggest of all the Hawaiian islands. It’s much less touristy than Maui, so you get more of a sense of being out in the middle of nowhere. The island is the youngest of all the islands, so much of the volcanic lava that formed it (and is still forming it) hasn’t yet turned into soil of any kind. There are huge fields of black lava, and when you’re driving around on the island, you get the sense of being on another planet at times. It’s like you’ve landed on Mars and Mars happens to have some great resorts and an ocean – who knew?

And last year we went to Oahu, which I think has been the least “Hawaiian” of the three islands we’ve visited. It’s the most populated island, of course, with Honolulu right in its midst… so you don’t always feel like you’re out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean thousands of miles away from the mainland. In fact, the traffic in Honolulu is HORRIBLE, and if you have to drive through it, it feels more like plodding your way home through rush hour traffic than a drive to an island resort. And Honolulu is just like any other city in the country – except they have Hula Pie (which, as I mentioned in my posts when we were on Oahu last year, is a dessert created in the heavens by the fire goddess Pete herself…)

And what I’ve heard about Kauai is that it’s much more “Hawaiian” than some of the other islands. It offers much of what people think of when they think of Hawaii – more lush greenery, and flowers, and waterfalls… and fewer deserts, and traffic jams, and moonscape lava. So it should be interesting to see a new island. I mean, it’s tough to visit all these Hawaiian islands and report back on their unique qualities, but if someone has to do it, I guess I can… :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's fluffy pink carnage...

This scratching post had a fuzzy, springy ball on top of it, presumably so cats could bat it around playfully and entertain themselves. Well, Piva decided the fuzzy ball should be eradicated from the household, and took the measures necessary to make that happen. This little cat can be totally insane sometimes… (she also just jumped up on my keyboard and typed “y6rf”… I’m sure there’s a message in there somewhere…)

So this morning I check the news and see that Al Gore was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work and for raising awareness of global warming. Um, what??? Who makes these decisions? You gave a Nobel Prize to Al Gore? Seriously? I mean, I thought it was bad enough when his pseudoscience-fueled, inaccurate bit of documentary claptrap, “An Inconvenient ‘Truth’” (a word he apparently uses quite loosely…) won an Academy Award. Don’t even try to tell me there wasn’t a better documentary out there that deserved the award. Why is it that even the entertainment industry is ruled by politics? And now apparently, so are Nobel Prizes.

First of all, what in the world does global warming have to do with peace? Al Gore has done NOTHING to further the cause of peace on this planet – if anything, all of his pontificating has been DIVISIVE and the cause of much more arguing and conflict. And second, I’m really starting to get annoyed by all the global warming talk. And don’t get me wrong, I am 100 percent FOR finding cleaner energy, and more efficient energy, and conserving water, and recycling, etc, etc. I mean, it just makes sense to want the air and the water to be clean, and to be as efficient as possible when using energy, and to reuse things that can be reused. However, I just don’t understand using the “stop global warming” tagline in an attempt to persuade people to be more environmentally conscious…

But then, I usually try to look at it logically – we know, without a doubt, that our planet has already been through cycles of warming and cooling. We KNOW this. It’s a scientific fact. We also know that when these changes were taking place, the earth was either devoid or mostly devoid of human life. Therefore, we can safely conclude that the roads weren’t clogged with SUVs, no one was using hairspray, plastic jugs weren’t piled up in landfills, and no one left the lights on when they exited a room. We can also safely conclude that whatever caused the planet to warm up and cool down was a NATURAL phenomenon. One that could not be stopped or changed. Whatever was to happen, was to happen.

So here’s the problem I have now – now the planet is covered with human beings, many of whom seem to think said planet revolves around them. They also seem to forget that the planet has been evolving and changing for eons, long before any of us humans existed – we had absolutely nothing to do with the weather patterns, or the sea levels, or the size of the glaciers. And yet what happened to those weather patterns? And the sea levels? And the glaciers? They CHANGED. They evolved. In fact, they’ve probably been continually changing and evolving for as long as this world has been circling the sun. But NOW, there are humans who seem to believe that THIS particular climate configuration is the ONLY one that should ever exist, from now until the end of time. That unless we do something, other generations of humans may have to contend with a DIFFERENT climate. That unless we do something, we might actually have to CHANGE our maps to reflect differences in land masses and bodies of water. That unless we do something, the world is going to change and evolve again… Well, duh. Honestly, what did you THINK would happen? The world’s climate would hit a certain point, and then, for the first time since the dawn of creation, it would settle into a holding pattern?

And I’m not saying that we humans don’t have any impact on the climate, or that we aren’t possibly accelerating change – I'm sure our very existence has an impact on the world. I just think that it’s rather na├»ve to assume that we are the ONLY reason for climate change, and that we can bring it to a screeching halt if we all just hold hands and drive hybrid cars. Yes, there are definitely reasons to find cleaner energy and to preserve our resources – but if you think it’ll stop the climate from changing or prevent the need for updated maps in the future, you’ll be very disappointed some day.

I just think someone should come up with a more logical argument for why we need to take care of the environment – you know, start with something like, “drinking clean water is good for you” and go from there…

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's only a game (right, dad?)...

Sigh… once again, my baseball team, my real-life heroes, my Yankees, have let me down and broken my heart, leaving me with the empty, disappointed feeling of a long looming winter with no baseball. Not to mention the question of whether Joe Torre will be manager next year. Personally, I don’t think Torre should be punished for mistakes that Brian Cashman has made. For years he’s done nothing but shell out millions of dollars for players who don’t play up to their hyped standards. And then finally, this year, we start to see some NEW talent from the Yankee farm – like Shelley Duncan and Joba Chamberlain – and what happens? We come back from 14 games behind Boston to win the Wild Card spot. Perhaps we should’ve been looking for those new guys all along? Hmmm… about time Cashman figured that out (and I’ve always thought it was interesting that his name is CASH man)…

And Torre didn’t do a bad job in the postseason games – he was pulling pitchers quickly, before too much damage had been done, and making some good lineup decisions. But the one thing Torre can’t do is go out there and SWING THE BATS for these guys. Your pitching can be stellar, but if the offense isn’t there, what’s the point? But even yesterday, when we had 12 hits and three home runs, it just wasn’t enough. (It would’ve helped, of course, if someone had a hit a home run one of the gazillion times we had runners in scoring position…) No, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be this year…

And somewhere in the midst of my Yankee mourning, I figured something out – sure, a World Series win this year would’ve been great, but wouldn’t a win NEXT year be even better? Next year is the final year the Yankees will be playing in the old stadium… the stadium where I saw my very first baseball game… where I used to sit in the stands right behind Dave Winfield and listen to the sounds of the rowdy fans in the bleachers below… the stadium where I used to eat knishes and giant pretzels… where I was certain I was the Yankees’ clandestine good luck charm… where Bob Sheppard was the announcer and somehow still is… where I watched a tattered American flag from the 9/11 rubble wave tenaciously over the outfield and felt the concrete floors shake from the force of fifty-five thousand loyal fans cheering their team come hell or high water or anything else you can throw at New York… Yeah, a win would’ve been great this year. But a win next year would be phenomenal

On another topic entirely… Rick and I thought our house was about to be hit with a quickly-falling plane last night. We were hanging out in the house – me in the family room and Rick in his study – and I heard a roaring noise somewhere off in the distance. At first I thought perhaps it was the TV, but as it got louder and louder, I realized it was coming from outside. And not only that, but the roaring began to sound not unlike the sound of the crashing plane on Lost – engines revving erratically, air wooshing past a fuselage… I seriously thought the thing was going down. So I jumped up from the couch and ran to the back porch door, almost afraid to look outside – but by the time I’d opened it and taken a peek, the plane had passed overhead and kept on going. I never even SAW it – so who’s to say it was actually a plane, anyway? UFO, perhaps? Little green men from Roswell, New Mexico? I mean, it went from sounding like a plane crash waiting to happen to sounding like nothing but crickets chirping so fast it seemed really strange. Rick ran outside as I was standing on the porch in bewilderment, looking for the plane that no longer seemed to exist, and asked if I’d heard the plane that was about to crash. We both stood in the backyard for a couple minutes, waiting to hear a distant “boom” and flash of light, but it never happened. We even searched the local news websites a little bit later, quite certain we’d be reading about a downed plane somewhere in the county. Or at least about a spaceship full of little green men…

Guess we’ll never know what it was that flew overhead last night… but I suppose just because something seems like it’s about to crash and burn doesn’t mean it can’t land safely and climb into the skies at another time. Which is exactly what the Yankees will do next year… :)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A few random thoughts...

So it’s October 4th, we’re well into the “autumn” season, and we have yet to see a day where the temperature hasn’t hit 90 degrees here in Austin. This is one of those times when I really miss the northeast – where, even when the afternoon temperatures would climb, at least the evenings would be cool… at least there was a HINT of the cooler weather to come. At least you could begin to haul out the long-sleeved t-shirts and jackets, knowing sweaters and wool coats weren’t far behind. But here, I’m still wearing flip flops for goodness sake. Give me a reason to put socks on… c’mon… just one pair of cozy socks…

My mom and I decided to trek over to another Seattle’s Best coffee shop this morning – a bit of a drive compared to our old standby, but we figured we might be able to discover some of the reasons behind the demise of our favorite shop. We ran into the girl who used to manage our Seattle’s Best, and now she’s the manager of this other shop. Apparently, our beloved Seattle’s Best had been losing money for quite a while, and they were struggling to keep the place open for the benefit of its loyal patrons. And then another Starbucks opened a few stoplights down the street (a Starbucks with a drive-through, no less… much more convenient for morning rush-hour commuters…) and our new toll roads opened (meaning people are now taking completely new routes to get to wherever they’re going) and the poor little Seattle’s Best was unable to withstand the lack of business. Such is the world of competitive, designer coffee, I suppose…

Anyway… so last night I was watching CSI: NY… let’s see… there are now three CSI shows, right? One in Las Vegas, one in New York, and one in Miami. When are they gonna create a CSI that takes place in some totally random town? Like CSI: Duluth. Or CSI: Boise. I can’t be the only one who’s curious about the crime rate in Boise. How DO they keep all those potatoes safe? But I digress… so I was watching CSI: NY, and for the hundredth time since I started watching all these CSI shows I wondered – do you suppose REAL crime scene investigators constantly state the obvious when they’re working together? Like last night, two CSIs were analyzing the contents of a syringe, and they discovered it contained cortisone. So one of them immediately says, “cortisone? An anti-inflammatory?” and the other one says, “Yeah, for arthritis and things like that…” And I couldn’t help but think, okay, you guys are supposed to be experienced professionals… you KNOW what cortisone is, you KNOW what an anti-inflammatory is, you KNOW what people with arthritis might take to help their condition – are you REALLY going to bounce the obvious off each other? No, of course not – they write this ridiculous dialogue into the show for the benefit of those of us in the viewing audience who’ve never heard of that mysterious stuff called “cortisone.”

Well, I don’t have very much of interest to say today, so in closing I’ll just say this: GO YANKEES!!!!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Where oh where has my coffee shop gone?

Well, regular season baseball has come to an end. I’m rather sad about that… I am now stuck with a mere handful of football games to keep track of – mainly UT and Rutgers (who both performed quite poorly this weekend). I AM, however, excited about the post season, and hoping the Yankees can keep some momentum going. Too bad the Mets were knocked out of the running yesterday – I was looking forward to the possibility of another Subway Series. Oh well. :)

And I must say congratulations to Ed and Greg, who came in second and third place in the fantasy baseball league, and will, therefore, share in the monetary winnings. Congrats, you guys! Someone came in first place, too, but I can’t remember who… all I know is that his team name is something like, “I am the King of Universe, Bow to Me You Minion Peons.” Eh, it was probably no one too important…

So this is when the stress starts – every game the Yankees play from here on out will be filled with tension and nail biting. And possibly jumping rope. I mean, THEY won’t be jumping rope… but I might. Jumping rope is a great way to expend nervous energy when watching a playoff game. Too… much… stress…

Another sad thing happened this past week – our Seattle’s Best closed down without warning. One day it was business as usual, and the next, it was “no more caramel lattes for YOU!!” The shop was cleared out, the doors were locked, and that was it. No explanation was given for why my morning caffeine rush would apparently now be forever denied. And it’s interesting that the shop should close down just as another Chicago possibility opens up. We’re STILL waiting to find out whether or not we’ll be living here in Austin in a couple months, or whether we’ll be shopping for sweaters and hats and gloves and relocating to Chicago in the middle of winter.

And the reason it’s interesting that the Seattle’s Best closed down is that it originally OPENED just a few weeks before we moved back to Austin from New Jersey several years ago. Rick moved back here before I did – I stayed up in Jersey a few months longer, packing and waiting for the house to sell. Rick would call me every day, or send emails – and, invariably, he would tell me how great it was going to be to live just a couple miles from Seattle’s Best. When I finally joined him back in Austin (in a temporary apartment while our house was being built) the Seattle’s Best became a daily haunt – the people in the shop already knew Rick, and would have iced caramel lattes ready for us when we walked in. When we moved into the new house, I’m fairly certain I had a cup of Seattle’s Best coffee to energize me as I lugged boxes and furniture from the apartment. When friends and family would come visit from out-of-town, we’d head over to the Seattle’s Best and hang out around a wooden table, reading newspapers and talking and sipping mochas and cappuccinos. We knew the names of every person who worked in that shop, and grew to consider many of them friends. It was “our” coffee shop.

So in the wake of its abrupt closing, I have to wonder if it’s not a sign of some sort – the Seattle’s Best opened up just as we were moving back to Austin… so what does it mean that it’s closed now? Hmmm… I guess, just as we’ve been doing for so long, we’ll just have to wait and see…