Tuesday, January 24, 2012

BCIS: Bathroom Criminal Investigation Service

A year ago, today to be exact, I wrote about Shoes, the woman running around our office not changing the toilet paper roll.  See January 24, 2011.  I don't recall if I ever mentioned this before, but she's no longer with us.  And by that I just mean she found a different job.  But the TP issues remain. 

Last spring, I bought myself a "Crime Scene Do Not Cross" scarf (I know, but I have a point) and at the same time, I got some "Crime Scene" toilet paper (see, I told you.)  Our thoughts were that we were going to write, film and produce an Oscar-worthy short movie co-starring Michael Weatherly from NCIS outlining the pitfalls that go along with not changing the TP roll.  Ah, well, life intervened and spoiled our plans for fame.  Shawna got pregnant and now uses her two kids as excuses for not bringing baked goods into the office.  I had my surgeries.  And, of course, Michael Weatherly never returned our calls.

Well, yesterday, Shawna comes out of the ladies room on the 2nd floor running for her tape, phone (for the camera) and the crime scene TP.  Fun was afoot!

Shawna posted this pic on Facebook and, in addition to being wholeheartedly "Liked", an ex-Kahn also posted the following comic in our honor:

We somehow forgot to go in and take the TP down, though, and.. (and here's the best part!) the cleaning lady saw it and didn't clean the ladies room!  Like, she couldn't tell that it was Crime Scene TOILET PAPER?! 

Well, Shawna has sworn to catch the offender, so if you happen to have to go when  you're at our office, be sure to change the roll if you empty the TP.

December - Part Two or Goodbye 2011

The second half of December was just as busy as the first.  We had our firm support staff Christmas lunch where we bring in food, have fun, then give our Christmas gifts to the person whose name we drew and reveal ourselves as their Secret Santa.  Hopefully, not to their disappointment! 

Now, I have been told that I’m fun to buy for.  Along with putting our name into the pot, we’re supposed to give gift ideas/suggestions or likes and dislikes.  Of course in years past, in addition to my likes of funky socks, cats, knitting, cheese, and cat-safe Christmas decorations, my Secret Santa also could rely on the old stand-by: Chocolate.  Yeah, this year, my person didn’t have that luxury.  As shame really, I do so enjoy chocolate.  But did well anyway.  First, by giving me some fuzzy penguin socks that had Oh! Oh! Oh! (instead of Ho! Ho! Ho!) on them.  I thought they were rather unique, but turns out it was just a typo.  After Christmas, she told me that she’d gone back to make sure she wasn’t crazy, and she said that some of them were correct and some of them had the typo.  I don’t care.  I like penguins and fuzzy socks.  The “quantity, not quality” gifts were the best… she got me a snowman keychain that, if you touch the metal things on the bottom of it, make the thing light up and change colors for about a minute or so!  Very cool

I was going to make and bring cake balls to the lunch, but the one time that Duncan helped me make them to take to the church cookie exchange, I discovered that in addition to being easy to make, they are very messy and I ruined not one, but two batches of chocolate in the process.  So I chose to take something else.  But in case you’re interested in the cake balls (Duncan got the recipe from some girl in his speech class last semester when she did it for her demonstrative speech), here goes:

You bake a cake (whatever flavor you want, I chose strawberry) according to the directions.  After it’s cooled, you crumble it up with a fork.  Then you take a tub of store-bought icing (again whatever flavor you want, as long as it goes with the cake flavor.  I chose cream cheese frosting over the strawberry because I figured it would be too much strawberry, and I love cream cheese frosting… like I was going to eat any of this!)  Where was I?  Oh, you take the tub of icing and mix it into the cake crumbs… here’s where the mess begins.  I got some plastic gloves (like the kind doctors use, not the kind for doing dishes) and did it with my hands.  Then you spoon the mess into balls.  At this point, the mixture had been handled enough, so we felt it wise to refrigerate them for a little bit to help them keep their shape before proceeding.  Meanwhile, we heated up some chocolate.  Here’s where I went wrong.  I thought I was being decadent in using Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.  What I should have been was smart and used baking chocolate.  Anyway, mom used the “ruined” chocolate to make herself some fudge.  No chocolate goes to waste in our house!  You dip the balls into the melted chocolate and refrigerate.  Be warned that after a couple of crumbly balls, the chocolate gets crummy (so to speak) and it gets more difficult to make attractive chocolate dipped things.  Just all around disappointing, but they did taste good, even if they didn’t look all that good.  Sigh..

The Thursday and Friday before Christmas, I took off and Mom and I went to Indy.  I had my 8 month appointment with the surgeon up there and after making 7 trips to Indy and back in 2011, I was going to go up for the appointment, then go back up for Christmas! 

My appointment went well.  I don’t recall where I was on their scales by that time, but per my scales, I’d lost 124 pounds.  I’ve STILL only lost 124 pounds, but I try to look on the positive side of that.  Both the nutritionist and the doctor were pleased with my progress AND I got a t-shirt for having lost 100 pounds!  Of course the t-shirt makes no mention of having lost 100 pounds, so I don’t see the point, but a free t-shirt is a free t-shirt.

Christmas with the sibs and their families went well.  As usual, my gifts rocked!  I’m pretty well known for giving great gifts.  As for my favorites, it would be a tie between the bacon scarf I got for Duncan and the monster movie motif purse I got Brynn for her birthday.  Yup, I’m good.  J

Mom and I came back home Saturday, Christmas Eve, afternoon and spent Christmas with the kids.  Gizmo had already commandeered the purple cat bed I got for them, before I could wrap it.  And I got them some Angry Birds cat toys.  And I got them a couple of Hairballs… hairy little toys with googlely eyes and Santa hats.  I’m thinking it was the cat nip, but they went over very well.  I got mom a map of Scotland with the various clans marked on it, so she could see where our clan came from in Scotland.  It’s currently hanging over the dining room table.  I’m told that the mailman was very impressed when it arrived from Scotland in the mail.  Especially since in the same week, I received a package from India!

As for Rose’s loot.  There were a few quantity, not quality items (pickles, Teddy Grahams, and .. let me think.. uh... string cheese), but the quality item was my iPad!  After ascertaining that my Christmas bonus was NOT going to be a membership to the Jelly of the Month Club, I ordered my iPad from Best Buy, and between the bonus and Christmas money from Mom, all I had to cover was the sales tax!  Boo-ya!!  And topping it all off, were the gift cards to iTunes from my Secret Santa, my boss Carrie, and the sibs!  So I could get tons of apps!  Needless to say, there has been a lot of raising frogs and merciless slaughter of zombies via my ‘pad since I got it!  And we recently played with the video conferencing between ‘pads.  Holly has one, and so does Aunt Chris.  We’ll have to “call” Chris someday and surprise her!  (Of course, since she’ll probably read this before we actually get around to it, it won’t be that big of a surprise… hmm..)

Christmas Day, mom and I went to church and then did what I think should become a Barger family tradition, we went to Yen Chings (fa-ra-ra-ra-ra!) for their Sunday buffet (not sure if they would have had the buffet if Christmas hadn’t been on a Sunday, but that’s neither here or there) and then took in a movie and popcorn.  We saw the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and again, I assumed I’d get around to giving it its own review a la me, but it’s not gonna happen, so I’ll just say it was FANTASTIC!  Very violent, graphic.  Yes, there’s a rape scene.  And yes, I wouldn’t take my child to go see it.  But, especially if you’ve read the books, the movie was GREAT!  I saw the “original” Swedish movie of the book.  It was good.  I can’t put my finger on it, but I liked this movie better.  It may be as simple as the combo of Daniel Craig and not having to read subtitles (Hey, I’m shallow, remember?), but I highly recommend this movie!  Especialy if you’ve read the books.

Ok, now that I’ve referred to both of my favorite Christmas movies, I think we can bring December to a close.  I worked the week between Christmas and New Years.  Steve didn’t.  So I got a goodly amount of stuff done. 

I was not unhappy to see 2011 go.  As you know, it had been eventful and everything turned out good, but the medical crap alone had me bumming’.  Here’s to 2012 being a better year!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

December – Part One

Last summer sometime, my friend Amy called and invited me and Mom to go along with her and her mom to go see Straight No Chaser at the Centre in December.  Well, back in the summer, that sounded good.  When December rolled around and it was the night of the show, I would have done anything up to, and possibly including, selling my soul, to just stay at home in my warm fuzzy new pjs under a blankie and a cat.  Sigh.  But I had committed, so we went.  First we met Amy, her mom, and my formerly foreign fan Heather at Applebee's for dinner.  A fine time was had by all, including Rose – I never said that I wouldn't enjoy myself, I just like to stay at home under a blankie and a cat after I work all day.  I really think I missed my calling because I could be a good hermit.
The show was very good.  We had great seats near the front of the upper tier and had a very good view.  And best yet, we were in the middle, so we didn't have all these pesky people having to traipse past us to get to their seats.  WE were those pesky people!  I, of course, had heard the group's rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas on the radio, but that was really my only exposure to them.  I knew they were an accapella group from IU, but not much more.  I expected only Christmas music, as this was their "Christmas" show, but no.  They performed Madonna and Lady Gaga as well.  And they were funny.  If you have a chance to see them, go for it.  Several thumbs up…  let's see, there were 5 of us, and most all of us have 2 thumbs.. 10 thumbs!
The next week, the Tran-Siberian Orchestra was going to perform at the new Ford Center in Evansville.  I have to take a moment to remind my regular viewers that a little over a year or so ago, I was upgraded to what I lovingly refer to as the "big boy" parking lot and I love parking there despite the fact that I'm in the "bird poop" spot, mostly because I do not have to walk across the street to get to my car.  Not that across the street is bad, but keep in mind that I used to weigh over 300 pounds, and plus, when there was snow and (more importantly) ice, it was downed-right treacherous to walk to my car because during the winter months, the sun NEVER shines on the alley beside the parking garage and even the relatively safe snow turns quickly to ice overnight.  I'm a klutz – having fallen and twisted both ankles multiple times in my misspent youth, and I even walked into a Stop sign once while at DePauw, and I hadn't even been drinking!  I guess my point is that both laziness-wise and safety-wise, the big boy lot was a good move for Rose.
So what does this have to do with the Tran-Siberian Orchestra?  I'm glad you asked.  About the same time I graduated to the big boy lot, the PTB (powers that be) in Evansville decided to build the new stadium in Evansville directly across the street from our parking lot.  So Rose has great parking for any of the shows which come to the new Ford Center.  I mean.  I am probably literally less than 100 feet from the door.  And if my seat happens to be in a section close to that particular door, even better!  People will be trudging through snow, rain, heat, past our parking lot while I'm in my car driving off already!  The landlord does have some poor soul out there charging $5 for people to park there, but since I'm already there, as long as I don't leave, I park for free!
Anyway, back to TSO.  I got tickets for Mom and me to celebrate her birthday which was the following week.  In order not to risk me losing my parking spot, Duncan dropped mom off at my office before going to his class that evening.   It was a very cold evening and we had a couple of hours to kill before the show.  We had dinner at the Main Gate, a sports bar across the street from my office and the Ford Center.  Mom thoroughly enjoyed her food.  I got a grilled chicken breast sandwich, hold the sandwich.  And frankly my boob was overdone.  But I got a lot of pickles, which helped make up for it, they were my veggie for that particular meal.  I've been back there since and had very good food, so I'm not holding my tough old boob against them.  Hahahahaha!
The performance was fabulous!!  I asked mom afterwards what she thought of it and her response was that it was "LOUD."  But then the next day, after her ears returned to normal, she said she enjoyed it a lot and felt the vocalists were great.  Actually, we have the CD of the "story" they performed and I listened to it the next day and frankly, thought the vocalists at the show were better than the ones on the CD!  Although I'm also not 100% that my soon to be 11 year old CD player/speakers in my car may not be getting old.  (I apologize if there are double negatives in there, I'm too tired to reread that sentence.)
I didn't really know what to expect, although I had heard on the radio about how last spring, when they came to town to perform in a much smaller venue, they came in 5 semi trucks and for the December performance at the arena they would come in 35 semi trucks!
The month of December went pretty quickly.  One Saturday, Aunt Marilee and Uncle Doug, and Aunt Chris and her hubs were to come to the 'do for a Christmas lunch/get together.  Chris's hubs couldn't come, so she brought her son and grand-daughter instead.  Pardon me, Chris, for saying that I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of having a 4 year old terrorizing my cats for the afternoon, but she was a very good girl and didn't torture anyone!  Although Sophie did choose to spend the entire afternoon under the couch, but it wasn't because she had any real reason to do so.
Another Saturday, Mom's Sunday School class had a Christmas brunch at the church.  I made my world famous sausage gravy and biscuits for them and attended as the official photographer.  I used to go to that class, so I know pretty much everyone who is in it, so my natural reticence to being social with strangers never really came into play.
One Sunday, MY Sunday school class served a lasagna dinner to the college students before they went home after finals.  (Note that we didn't have a party for ourselves, NO we had a party for other people!!)  We miscalculated and ran out of everything (AND we didn't even get any food at out of it!), but at least all of the kids got one serving.  We just had to turn their sad faces away when they came back for seconds (Mwa-ha-ha-ha!)  While I was in the kitchen helping with things, Ronda, my SS teacher's wife and general pal, somehow talked me into going to the Christmas party/December meeting of the Harvest Women's Missionary group the following Monday evening.  Not that I have a problem with any of the people in the group, or the purpose of the group.  I'm just not a joiner and, as I mentioned previously, after working all day, I just want to go home and get in my pjs and climb under a blankie and a cat.
But despite having a really rough day that Monday, almost killed the boss man that day, I did go.  Mostly because Amy offered to pick me up and take me.  I had directions to get there, but I can't say that I might not have conveniently gotten lost if left to my own devices.  I'm glad I went.  (Note a trend… I NEVER want to go to things, but generally ALWAYS have a good time… the story of my life… remember, I should have been a hermit.)
Well, that's that for about the first half of December.  I'll stop here and leave you wanting more.  J

Friday, January 20, 2012

2011 Round-up - Part One

Ok, I have been remiss, as demonstrated by not only regular reader Becky, but also my former foreign friend (formerly foreign, not former friend) Heather, both of whom have impressed upon me my delinquency by quoting, word for word, the opening sentence of my last posting. 
I'm not sure if I'm honored or a little creeped out.  I'll choose to go with honored.
It's been a busy two months, but I will endeavor to hit the highlights and to bring you up to date on Rose.  Spoiler alert:  this may have to be a series of entries.  You know I tend to run on.  But as my much acclaimed series on the trip to the UK this summer proved, my readers will read anything.  Which is ironic, isn't it, Becky?.

You will recall, especially Becky and Heather, that in our last episode, I had an eventful weekend, going to the ER because I knew I was dying of a heart attack and totally bummed that it was happening AFTER my bariatric surgery and privately bemoaning all of the yummy food I could have shoveled in the previous 7 months if I'd only waited to have the surgery in December.  I, of course, was fine and since I have resumed taking my Prilosec like a good little girl, have had no issues whatsoever.  Not even that weekend that I made REALLY spicy chili – so spicy that Duncan told me that if I'd entered it in our firm's chili cook-off, I'd have won the spicy category hands down - and then proceeded to eat it for several meals a day after that until it was gone.
Thanksgiving – well, the sibs had plans that didn't include me and Mom so it was just the two of us.  The week before, however, mom had the brilliant idea that maybe some of the little old ladies in the church might not have plans and we could invite a few of them over to join us.  I wasn't going to be eating much, so at least mom would have someone to cook for.  Not that she had to cook for me.  I'd have been ok with the same-ol' same-ol'.  So I left for work thinking that Mom was going to call a few and fill the seats at our table.  That evening, when I got home, I asked who we were having Thanksgiving dinner with, and she said that she remembered that my college roommate came home with me once for Thanksgiving because she couldn't go home for a 4-day weekend, so she thought maybe there might be some college kids in the church who'd like to join us.  A slightly less preferable option, in my book, because I probably would have known the old ladies, whereas I don't know many of the college-aged kids.  As it turns out, though, we didn't have any college-aged kids join us either.  Either they'd all had someplace to go, or we'd left it too late and they were thumbing their way up the highway.
So Thanksgiving arrives.  I told mom that there wasn't much point in her cooking the turkey boob she got for just the two of us when we could just go out to Bob Evans or someplace and get a perfectly good meal.  She was game.  That morning, as per my usual, I got the newspaper with all the Black Friday ads, and as I'm skimming them, looking for what/where I might want to get/go the next day, mom is reading the actual paper.  Silly rabbit, news is not for kids.  It turns out to be a good thing, though.  While reading, she noticed an ad for a restaurant on the (far enough that mom almost packed a bag) east side of town that was serving turkey and all the trimmings.  We decided that we'd head out, and if we saw something that flipped our wigs before we got there, then fine, but otherwise, we'd go to the Carousel Restaurant.  As we drove down the Expressway near the 'do, there were two options: Burger King and Denny's.  Closer into town, we passed the Cross-eyed Cricket, but we were in the wrong lane to make a left-turn to get there, so we ended up at the Carousel.  It was fab.  Turkey, dressing, veggies, a roll, a drink and pumpkin pie for… well, it's been a while… I'm thinking $9.99.  The place was packed! 

After filling our tums (mine is filled much quicker and there was quite a doggie bag for me), we headed a wee bit north (so for those of you keeping track, now we're even farther away from the 'do… making mom REALLY wish she'd packed that overnight bag) and went to go see the new Muppet Movie.  At the time, I intended to give you my impressions of the movie in a blog entry, but, yeah, that obviously didn't happen.  I enjoyed it.  It was very entertaining, and I adore Animal.  But.. I'm thinking that the unthinkable may have happened and I may have outgrown the Muppets.  I'll have to ponder that and get back to you.

Apr├Ęs movie, I took mom back home and then I went to Michaels.  Yes, this was Thanksgiving afternoon, but they were open and there was a coupon with everything 40% more off!  Mom and I generally take a couple of names from the Angel Tree at church – each angel has the name of a kid who has a parent in jail/prison and age/gift suggestions/sizes for the child.  The gifts are delivered from a member of the church along with a tiny Bible and the kid has a present "from" the incarcerated parent.  Well, one of the names we picked wanted art supplies and so not only were the art supplies that I got him on sale, but I got an additional 40% off, so for the $20 I spent on him, he got $40 of loot!  I do try to get as much bang for my buck for these kids, since they may not get much more.  In addition to getting the Angel kid's art stuff, I was able to get some quantity/not quality gifts for my secret pal at work, and for the nieces and nephews… and, let's face it, some stuff for me, too!
Friday, mom and I had been invited down to Eddyville, Illinois, to have a "real" Thanksgiving meal with my Aunt Linda's family.  We had a very nice time.  They hadn't seen me in person since my surgery in April, just pics on Facebook which is not the same thing, so there were ooh's and aah's which, although not necessary and certainly not required, sure did make me feel nice. 

Before we left for Eddyville, though, I was able to hit Kohl's and get myself a new coat, since the one I had was big enough for three of me (when I bought it, I accidentally bought the wrong size, so it was huge on me even when I was bigger), and some sweaters, and the other Angel kid's gift – clothes at really cheap, so he got $40 worth of stuff for my $20, too!  Very successful!
We finished up the Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping weekend by going to Burlington's on Saturday to get Mom a new coat because the coat she had been wearing was the one she bought in Indy when she went up for either Hollian, Natalie, or Brynn's birth.  So at a minimum it's 21 years old.  A good quality coat, but ready to be put out to pasture.  Mom doesn't like shopping, AND Burlington also qualifies for her needing to pack a bag to go there, so I got her home as soon as possible and we burrowed into our condo for the remainder of the weekend.
By Monday, I was rested and relaxed and, other than just not wanting to get up at 6:30 and go to work, I was ready to go back to work.