Milestone--Time for another ASK KATE P!

The previous post was my 400th. WOO HOO!

I do believe it's time for another edition of "Ask Kate P (Nearly) Anything."

Here are the usual rules. Previous editions for reference here, here, and here.

You have until 9 p.m. Wednesday night (11/04/2009), and feel free to submit more than one question. Five answers will appear in next week's Friday Five.

I can't wait to hear your questions!

The Friday Five: Brush after Reading

While I did not find my orange shirt to wear with my black cardigan today for (school) Halloween, I did find my pumpkin earrings. (Which one of the art teachers noticed and appreciated.) Some of the students dressed up--a lot of really creative stuff. Santa Claus did make an appearance (it probably was a Jewish student!).

One girl wore an Elizabethan dress that her mom had made for her. Just because she really loves the Elizabethan period. It was beautiful--all greens and golds, and structured the way an Elizabethan dress is. I am kicking myself for not having run to the A/V room for a camera, but hopefully another teacher snapped a picture of it.

Of course, much candy today in school. Not that I was eating any, but I certainly did see plenty consumed by many a student in the library. (They're not supposed to eat in the library, but this is one day we have to let it slide. Although it ticks me off when they leave wrappers lying everywhere. I can't tell if they're enviromentally-conscious hypocrites or lazy kids, or both.)

Anyway, since there will be an abundance of it everywhere you turn this weekend, let's talk about CANDY! I'm not exactly a major fan of sweets, and you'll probably be able to tell that the longer you read, but here are my five favorite kinds of candy:

1. Bottlecaps. I have loved these from childhood. Cola and orange flavors especially.

2. Peanut chews. The regular ones don't contain milk, and they remind me of good old times when they used to be "Goldenberg's," and of my late great-aunt who loved to eat them.

3. Zagnut. Well, I'm not sure I've ever eaten one. I just think the name's hilarious. (But peanut butter & coconut? People probably either love it or hate it!)

4. Sunspire Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. I know, not exactly candy, but they make great homemade dairy-free hot cocoa. A handful of those, some vanilla almond milk and soy creamer, a bit of cocoa, a dab of brown rice syrup. Sounds bizarre, but YUM.

5. Candy canes. Oh, come on--you've been seeing Christmas decorations since October 1. How could I not include them? I will NEVER turn down a candy cane. Unless it's crushed. And even then, I might use crushed ones to make peppermint fudge.

Wishing you a sweet weekend!


Video Store Withdrawal

I went to return some movies at the video store today after school, and as I drew near to the store windows, I saw tons of signs:

Everything must go! Used movies $9.99 or less! Store closing!


So I walk in, drop my movies in the return slot, and approach the counter where my favorite semi-goth salesclerk is standing.

Me: So. . . you're closing?

Her: Yeah, January.

Me: But you're not still renting anything now?

Her: No. Actually, Sunday was our last rental day.

Me: Hmm. Nobody mentioned that last week when I was in. [That was last Tuesday.] Well, I'm sorry you're closing.

Her: Yeah, our store was too big.

Me: Are they relocating you to another store?

Her: Yes, but I don't know which one yet.

Me: Well, at least I work near [another location].

Her: They're closing that one, too. They're closing all the big ones.

Me: Man. . . I used to do leasing for that shopping center. [My old work is probably not happy--they lost a huge office supply store from the same shopping center last year, and to date I don't think they've leased it again.]

I wished her the best of luck--and I was glad it seemed she was keeping her job.

This is a bummer. The only locations "near" me remaining are one suburban store and two just over the Philly border. They're all about 15-20 minutes away. I'm not really interested in Netflix, my local library branch is closing for renovations at the end of November. . . Rats.

This Gives New Meaning. . .

. . . to "sitting around and scratching" on Game Day.


When "Mad Men" Converges with My Mom-Mom's Advice

(Warning: spoiler for anyone who hasn't see last night's episode yet!)

I never actually heard my late grandmother say this, but my mom often quotes her as having quipped, "Hit 'im over the head with a frying pan!" as the solution to anyone who gives you grief (but in particular an irritating spouse). To this day, we still say it when one of us starts complaining to the other about someone annoying, or even when we see our favorite character on TV start to get bugged by someone. It's a handy phrase.

That expression came to mind after something unexpected happened during Mad Men last night.


Because It Is Sunday Night. . .

. . . you might need The Footnotes of Mad Men to go with your TV viewing.

(Apologies to anyone who saw a prior post with nothing in it. Stupid ENTER key. And then a second apology for writing "MONDAY" in the title instead of "SUNDAY." Sheesh.)


The Friday Five: In Stereo

In my stereo, that is. I don't think I've talked about music in a while, and I want to. I had dinner with a former co-worker from the library (sounds like the usual fun there; she had kind words about what I had done for the teens during my stint) and really enjoyed the ambient music in the restaurant--good selections. Things I hadn't heard recently. Phantom Limb by The Shins, for one, and another I couldn't put my finger on, but was really thrilled to hear above the din of diners.

A similar thing happened yesterday morning while I was on my way to school. I had the somewhat alternative rock station on and DCFC's Where Soul Meets Body came on--great sound and melody, if somewhat nihilistic sentiments (but then again, that's the essence of the band). It was delightful to crank the radio and sing along at 70 m.p.h. at 6:55 in the morning as the sun comes up over the highway. So, tonight, I'm a bit focused on music. In fact, I had to call this manufacturer after hearing about a CD changer, just to find out if it shuffles. I am old school and I love shuffling several of my CDs while I work/write/clean/watch the cat stare out the window. (The answer is that the less expensive one shuffles within a single CD, while the more expensive one can shuffle among all the CDs. Man, I could use several hundred bucks right now.)

My thoughts turned to what I have right now in terms of CD players. And I have enough to play FIVE CDs in my home! Here's what's in them right now:

1. Living Room stereo, #1 in carousel: Plans, featuring the aforementioned driving song.

2. Living Room stereo, #2 in carousel: musicforthemorningafter--I'm pretty sure I heard "Just Another" in the restaurant. Great debut--a lot of the tracks ended up everywhere on TV and movies.

3. Living Room stereo, #3 in carousel: Australia. Really not sure what possessed me to pull this out of my collection tonight. I have "Ghost" on at least one other CD--again, another artist whose songs end up everywhere.

4. Bedroom clock/radio/CD: True Love Waits. My go-to CD if I can't fall asleep. It's really an amazing piece of classical piano translation from modern rock. Somebody I worked with at the bookstore told me he saw O'Riley play live in Philly and at one point the musician rolled out miles of sheet music for just one song, just to show how complex the composition was. As if you couldn't tell from listening to it.

5. Bedroom boombox (what? I needed a tape deck!): Once. I think I needed to hear "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixed Sucker Guy" for a laugh last week.

Hope your weekend is filled with both music and laughter.


By an Overwhelming Vote of 3-1

I had no choice but to open the e-mail from El Slackerino. (One of these days, Amy G., I'll be mature enough to take your advice.)

So the e-mail said, "Congratulations. . . Way to go. I hope everything is going well for you."

My real life response: Delete.

My imagined response: Um, whatever. You haven't given a thought to me in a year and jumped at the chance to look busy as you type away and fish for information. It's pretty obvious everything is going well for me. I don't work with you anymore--and hey, I won the pool for the week, didn't I?

O.K., all kidding and sarcasm aside, that actually was a back-handed way to inspire me at my current job. There are still a lot of challenges for me, and the looming "what if this is the only year I get to work here" question has been making its presence known lately.

When it comes down to it, I'd still rather be sitting in the high school library at my very public desk (where one silly senior keeps trying to sneak up behind me and make me jump!), dealing with the occasional technology failure or ranting teen than be seething in my little office about things like #4 & #5 here.

Most of the time, anyway.


A Little Bit of Filler

Because I wanted to get a post in before bedtime, but the poll (at right) is not closed yet, a quick update. . .

Birthday good! Full of chicken cacciatore and a
new TV* from my parents (OMG!!!1!1!!!!111!!!!)

. . . and sharing something pretty funny I saw last night (inappropriate office behavior, in line with the poll):

*Full disclosure: My parents cut a deal with the electronics store when they bought one for themselves as well. Which is why I spent part of my birthday helping them assemble a new TV stand. Not to mention acting as the buffer to prevent divorce.


The Friday Five: Focusing on the Happy

It has been a really long week--one that definitely tried my patience and attempted to make me question everything on a few occasions. But you know what? That kind of thing is exactly the signal to put on the brakes (and I don't mean the ones I shelled out almost 200 bucks for last week's car maintenance) and think about some good things. So here are five things that are making me happy this week:

1. Naps. And, man, have I needed them badly.

2. Little side opportunities to make some spending money. ('Cuz basically the first paycheck of the month goes to rent and utilities, and the other goes to the rest of the bills.) There was the football pool last week, and tomorrow I'm proctoring an exam (free coffee and breakfast! most importantly free coffee!!!), and next week I'm singing for a wedding.

3. An invitation to dinner at a little Italian eatery with my cousin (aunt of the bride) for her birthday, courtesy of my parents. We got extra dish on the wedding, and I also got to talk shoes. (Stop me before I shop again!) On top of that, we had the same waitress we had at my dad's birthday, and she was her usual hilarious chatty self. She likes to tease my dad about his indecisiveness.

4. A lovely note from a blogfriend and his family. Signed by everybody--what a thrill to read!

5. Season One of Chuck. I have no idea what made me pick up the first disc at the video store, but sooooo enjoyable. Probably because it was created/produced by the same people who did The O.C. (which I loved until they went one season too long and silly). It was just in a bad time slot so I never watched it on TV. The Halloween episode is a parody of the New Year's Eve episode from The O.C.--same music, race against the clock, and everything--but instead of a romantic reunion between the main couple, it's Chuck and his best (guy) friend. And something about a costume related to Dune. Hilarious.

Heading to bed so I can get up on time for my free coffee!!! Have a great weekend! And it's my birthday this weekend, so I'm going to try to as well!

UPDATE 10/17/2009: I forgot to mention--I got carded at Happy Hour last night!!! Happy birthday to meeeeee!!!!!


A Prize, and a Surprise

My half of the winner's pot from the football pool is $65. I guess there are fewer people in the pool this year than last season. I think that does allow me to get that manicure Amy G. suggested, as well as the upgraded catnip suggested by Mr. Bingley. I have enough to get several catnip toys, and I think that keeping my parents' four cats occupied would make my dad very happy.

Sidebar: Did I ever explain that my parents are NOT weirdo cat-collectors? I don't think so.

Cat #1: Age 17. (Older than my parents in human years, according to this chart.) Was adopted at age 4 by my mom for my great-aunt who lived alone. They had an awesome companionship right up until my great-aunt's death in '99. My parents took in the cat and she is basically in love with my dad.

Cat #2: Age 12. Was adopted unofficially by my sister and officially by me. My sister spotted her at a weekend adoption event at the mall, but had to go back to college. I worked next door to the SPCA and rescued her from the brink of death. As the result of kennel cough, I mean. Still a very spunky kitty and ignores everyone else when my sister comes home to this day.

Cat #3: Age 11? Vet's best estimate. He showed up crying in my parents' backyard one summer, and they fed him all the way through the winter. Even dug a path in the snow for him. Spring came, he brought around a girlfriend who had two kittens. Got him fixed, released him. He got in a fight, and my parents decided to fix him up and keep him in. He's obsessed with my mom.

Cat #4: Age 9. The survivor of the aforementioned litter. Like his mom, he was afraid of people, and when my parents caught him and the mom and got them fixed, the mom abandoned him. He would sneak onto the porch to eat, but after awhile he got sick, so my parents caught him, took him to the vet, and reunited him with his dad indoors. He went from a tiny grey ball of fluff to a 16 pound wolf cub. He's huge but rather deficient when it comes to knowing how to be a cat. We call him "special."

See? My parents aren't crazy. They're just very hospitable.

If you're still with me after all that catblogging--here's the surprise part. The football pool's administrator sent out the e-mail announcement of the winners for the week. My name's in there, along with the other winner's. Yippee.

But right above that message in my in-box, there's a response e-mail from a former co-worker previously referred to on this blog as El Slackerino. My last "meaningful" (telling, I should say) exchange with him was reported here, and I have not heard from or spoken to him since I left my corporate job last year. Seeing his e-mail address made me shudder.

Do I really want to open that e-mail from him?

I'll let you decide! Vote in the poll at right. Discuss in the combox below. Or share thoughts about cats.

As a Libra, I'm all about giving my readers choices. Especially when it comes to helping me decide something!


The LOLCats Dialogue Continues

This afternoon, I discovered a new LOL-speak post-it stuck to my kittens calendar:

I can haz reconz?

I had to think about what that meant for a minute.

Oh! Reconsider.

My response:


Why? Because someone felt the need to mess with the only table of six, recently instituted by my desk, by removing two of the four bolts holding the one wobbly leg to the tabletop.

It may be your library, kids, but we library people hesitate to give you the things you ask after we see the things already given you, devalued.

Anticipation and Imagination

I am 99% certain I won this week's (just for entertainment and conversation, especially with single guys) football pool. Co-won, I should say. Can't believe someone else with the same amount of wins picked the Dolphins like me and exactly the same points.

Because the pool administrator is a nurse who started a shift at 8 p.m. last night, and I am not sure that it was just one shift, I'm kinda sitting here in splitting-the-prize limbo.

Wondering what I can do with about $75.

I think I owe my dad a little something, as he was the one who convinced me to go back and change one of my picks to the Cowgirls. (That's right, I said Cowgirls. I'm sorry to offend some of my readers who like that team, but it goes with the territory around here. I almost got in trouble with my friends for cheering said team on in the sports bar on Sunday.)

$75 doesn't seem to go as far as I'd like it to. No trip to Barcelona. Might get me to D.C., but the Metro would be extra.

No fancy dinner out. Unless I ate alone.

No new stereo (which is probably what I would've bought had I won the entire prize). But that is a heckuva lotta songs from iTunes.

All I know is, it's "found money" and I intend to treat it as such.

Any and all ideas for $75 of found money entertained in the combox.


Entertaining Advice

I've heard that it's always good to have a quick appetizer recipe filed away in your mind for when unexpected guests show up. But who knew being a cat owner would give one that extra edge?

Via my mom, who got it from one of the many blogs she reads, I'm sure.


The Sunday Six, Pinch-hitting for the Friday Five

I'm sharing a few pictures of how I've been spending my time outside of school recently.

1. Last weekend was my cousin's wedding. I sang during part of the ceremony, upstairs with a microphone. My view from the choir loft before the wedding took an amusing turn when I saw the bride's older brother hold down the too-short aisle runner to tape it to the floor.

Bless his heart, he's way tall and has back problems.

2. After the lovely ceremony (where we learned "the three f-words about marriage" (that's faithful, fruitful, and forever, in case you were wondering), we went to a very nice reception hall, part of a former farm--the building had a silo, interestingly enough.

Not to mention a chocolate fountain as part of the dessert offerings! I know the picture is a bit out of focus. . . pineapples at right, marshmallows in the middle, and a "s'more" that was a marshmallow coated in chocolate and rolled in crushed graham crackers. (Had to allow myself one slight allergy indulgence; it helped soak up the festive spirits.)

3. So we partook of the chocolate fountain, danced and screamed over the music of the too-loud band--basically, we partied our, uh, hats off:

4. This weekend, the weather took a colder turn, and I think there might be an outside creature wanting in, for warmth. . .

"Be vewwy, vewwy quiet; I'm hunting mousies!"

5. The cat's interest in hunting this evening was a marked improvement from earlier in the week, where she was a bit out of sorts after a visit to the vet for a check-up and shots. She forgave me fairly early in the evening, but when I accidentally patted the spot on her shoulder where she'd gotten a booster, she ran for the safety of her cardboard box.

"sulking like Achilles in his tent."

Which brings me to the bonus (#6--video): Same classical reference in an episode of the animated version of "The Tick."--around the 1:15 mark (and again at 5:39). Hilarious--uh, if you're a literary geek like me, that is.

Wishing you a great week.


Coming Attractions

(AKA I'm still alive.)

Sorry for skipping the Friday Five--I wound up putting myself to bed right after dinner, as I wasn't feeling too hot. In fact, I slept about a good nine hours.

So, to make it up to my (small but loyal) readership, new post will be up late in the day tomorrow. I'm thinking it'll be the Sunday Six. Kinda like Friday with a bonus. In the meantime, you can have fun checking Ruff Ruffman's voicemail. His grandma sounds a little like Joan Rivers. And his uncle might be the kind of person Seraphic might hear when she goes home!


Of Kittens and High Schoolers

I have been trying to personalize my desk space a bit, and I hung up a kittens calendar--a former co-worker always gives me a cat calendar every year, but I hadn't had an office (or a wall) to speak of at work yet to hang up the one she gave me this past Christmas.

As a bit of background for the next segment of the story: There are a few ground rules in the library. One of them is that students are limited to sitting just four at a table. They always try to bend that rule and drag extra chairs over, or stand there, or whatever. It just gets to be too loud and disruptive when they are supposed to be studying. So both the other librarian and I spend a lot of time reminding students it's "four to a table" and encouraging them to take a seat somewhere else and, you know, study. I can't tell you how many times we say four to a table in one day.

I had gotten wrapped up in a few things before getting to my computer this morning, and the other librarian and I needed to look at something on my screen together. When we got over to my desk, I saw a post-it note stuck to the kitten currently up for October:

"I can haz five at a taybul?"

I cracked up. The poor kitten had gotten the LOLcats treatment.

It was clever, but two can play at that game.

I stuck a second post-it note underneath the first that said,

"No moar than 4! K thx bai!"

I haven't heard any comments about it yet. It's funny--I had been thinking about making up LOLcats signs reinterpreting the library rules in a funny way. This little occurrence probably is confirmation that such signs might speak to them!

(I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to tell a funny story about today. Outside of that, the day was pretty difficult. Got bad news yesterday afternoon--the kind where I'm just not that close with my new co-workers to talk about it. . . heck, the people it's happening with don't even seem to want to talk about it. . . I can't do anything about it but pray. I think it just weighed on my mind, and getting attitude from some students today was pushing me to the point where I finally just walked away and sat down in the workroom. Tomorrow should be better.)


Bride of the Friday Five

Well, here it is, Friday. . . and the eve of my cousin's wedding. I am looking forward to letting my hair down and having some fun with my family. (Before that, however, I've got a primping routine to get through--right now I have trial makeup on and my hair pinned back in anticipation of washing all the makeup off and applying a beauty mask.)

The last wedding I went to was about this time last year, but I wasn't invited to the reception. So I'm pretty sure the last wedding + reception I attended was my brother's, three years ago. Three years without a wedding? Heinous! I've been to two funerals in the last year and a half alone.

In any event, having been up since about five this morning and now starting to feel the one glass of wine I've permitted myself kick in, I'll get this post underway so I can go wash my face.

This wedding is actually one that most of my immediate family is looking forward to and dreading simultaneously. I think everyone can relate to at least one of five enjoyable/dreadable aspects of weddings:

1. Dancing. Even though I am a bit shy and introverted, I like to dance, so I am hoping that they will play some good music at the reception. Music that doesn't necessarily require a dance partner. But I'd be perfectly all right with skipping the "Electric Slide."

2. Getting dressed up. Yes, I like getting dressed up. But after awhile, the stockings get irritating, and the shoes uncomfortable, and generally I'm ready for my PJ's.

3. Seeing family. Most of them, I love. The one relative that told me I looked so much more like my sister since I'd lost weight, not so much.

4. Getting away from it all for a day. I need the break--to celebrate something good--but the chores I didn't get to say otherwise.

5. Wedding cake. Yes, it's pretty. (Well, um, if it's posted here it's not pretty.) Yes, the sugar aroma wafting across the room is nice. But why does it never taste as good as it looks? (Furthermore, in my case, why is it never milk free?) And aren't you usually sorry you ate it afterwards?

Have a nice weekend, everyone!