Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: HOLY CITY EDITION



September 20, 2016

Steve's alarm clock went off so early this morning. So very early. I'm convinced that his alarm clock was put together in a sweat shop in hell. 

Since I was up (ahem) I decided to plan my day. I'm not very good at planning things, because I tend to just go along with whatever everyone else is doing, but I was going to be by myself so I had to do something! Armed with Google Maps, some brochures, and a trolley map, I decided that today would be an educational day!  Well, educational-ish. 

SO MANY MAPS!

I decided to forgo the trolley and walk across town.  First off, Charleston is really heckin' humid.  Like...bad humid. It wasn't even that hot, and it was cloudy, but by the time I was almost to my destination, my face and hair were wet. Yuck.  The walk wasn't even that far, or difficult, but still...bleh.  At any rate, I went on and finally made it to the South Carolina Aquarium!


There were otters there. Otters are my favorite.

You guys know how I love looking at fish things, so don't judge! This was the first time that I've ever been to an aquarium where I wasn't being rushed through, so that was nice. Unfortunately the place was relatively small, so I managed to go all the way through in about an hour. That was fine, though, because that meant I could be on the next ferry out to Fort Sumter.

I only had the most basic idea of what Fort Sumter was all about, so I learned a lot today! We had a 30 minute ride out to the island, and the ferry had a recorded voice telling us about all the things we were seeing. It was kind of surreal, because I swear that same voice does announcements for things at Disney World, only instead of telling you to stand clear of the doors, it was telling us about Indian massacres and war stuff. He was way too cheerful about it.  Oh! There were also dolphins that swam just ahead of the boat, so that was fun!

Ft. Sumpter gonna Sumpt.
I really enjoyed looking around the fort!  I went mostly because it was an important historical place and it felt like I should go see it, but I was surprised how interesting it all was.  We got to spend an hour out there, and I think I touched everything and read all of the signs. I even stood in the powder magazine and inspected the walls made of oyster shells and lime. There was a tour that told more about the place, and I kind of wish that I'd taken it to learn more about the place, but I was too busy looking around on my own.  The sun actually came out while we were there, and it stayed out until we got back. I bet you know what that means! My lily whiteness is now all red and hurty. Eh, whatever, I enjoyed myself.

I was starving by the time I got back, so I found a place called Saffron Deli & Bakery, thinking I'd grab something light and quick, but I was served an alarmingly huge plate of tuna and chicken salad, which was delicious, but way more than I could eat. It was a nice place, though, so I'd totally recommend it.  I didn't have a whole lot of time to do things before I had to head back to the hotel, so my last stop was at The Charleston Museum, which is the country's first museum! How cool is that? I wasn't able to see everything (I wanted to be back before Steve so that he wouldn't have to wait around on me) but I got to see a lot. It was really fascinating. There is an exhibit that covers the area of Charleston from pre-history onward, and it was very cool. I only made it to the Revolutionary War section before I realized I'd have to skip some stuff if I wanted to see the temporary exhibit they had. It was called Killer Fashion and it was, kind of hilariously, an exhibit about clothes and fashion accessories that people make from things they have to kill, or that can kill the people who make the stuff. That may not make much sense, so let me 'splain. There were things like Coral jewelry, because you have to farm the coral which kills it, and ivory, which of course comes from poached elephants. They also had corsets (which can do lots of internal damage) and things dyed with poisonous dyes, which can kill both the wearer and the manufacturer. I think it got a little preachy, though, only because it went so far as to talk about killing silkworms to make cloth, and killing the cochineal beetle to make red dye. Granted, you still have to kill something, but they're bugs for heaven's sake. They aren't exactly endangered.  Anyway, it was still a very good exhibit that I enjoyed looking at! I'm kind of thinking about going back later on so I can see the rest of the regular exhibits, but I'll have to wait and see if I have time.

By the time I was done there, it was time to head back to the hotel. I was so hot and tired by the time I got back, y'all. To give you an example of how hot and humid it had gotten, I sweated so much that the color from my clothes bled off onto my skin.  I'm not talking about brand new clothes, either. I'm talking about things that have been washed a lot before now! Gross! I had to take a bath.  This town will be a two shower a day place, I can already tell.

Steve got back about 10 minutes after I did and he was hungry because apparently the people he's working with out here don't believe in lunch breaks. We looked through Google Maps and found a restaurant called "Coast" which was a seafood place not far from where we are staying. After getting cleaned up, we walked over and had to go down an alley before we found it, but it was a great restaurant. It was housed in an old warehouse, and had super tall ceilings and exposed brick. The food was really delicious, too.  I had kale, on purpose, and it was good.

Now we are back in the room and Steve has fallen asleep, and my sunburn is itchy and my legs hurt, but it was still a really fun day!

Monday, September 26, 2016

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: HOLY CITY EDITION


September 19, 2016

Have I mentioned that Steve has been traveling a lot lately? Well, Steve has been traveling a lot lately. Since mid August, he's been gone almost every week except for coming home for 16 hours (just long enough to wash his clothes and repack) and he'd head back out again. His new company is cool in the fact that they don't mind if I tag along sometimes, but I haven't wanted to go to any of the places he's been sent thus far.  I mean, I'm sure that Ft. Bliss, in the very armpit of the summer, is lovely and all that, but no thank you. 

This week Steve has been sent to Charleston, South Carolina, which is a place I've been wanting to visit for a very long time! I love historic cities and have heard great things about the place for years!  He was cool with me coming with him, so he got me a plane ticket and we headed off on our adventure!

Ok, full disclosure, today wasn't exactly adventurous. It was a travel day and it started oddly late. We got up, did a few last things around the house, and left for our flight out of Huntsville.  We almost made it through security without incident, but my left ankle set off the full body scan thingie.  No idea why!  So the nice TSA agent started frisking my ankle, which made me giggle, which then made her giggle.  Good times.  Once they decided I wasn't strapped with a weapon, we got to go!  

We flew from Huntsville to Atlanta around noon on a very full plane. I managed to get wedged in between Steve and a large guy who looked like the love child of Grumpy Cat and Meatloaf!  It was a short, uneventful flight, thank goodness, and we were even lucky enough to be relatively close to our departure gate for the next flight when we landed. We had about an hour layover and then got on our flight to Charleston, which was another very quick trip. Even so, we didn't get into Charleston until about 6:00 PM. That meant it was really to late to do anything tonight. Boo! 

We had a small snafu with the car rental agency. They ended up giving us a Nissan Versa, which is not a big car. Steve, on the other hand, is a big guy, so he looks so funny getting in and out of the car! We've named it the Blueberry a la "Psych" and it will be our tiny clown car for the week!

We are staying at the historic Francis Marion hotel which is very lovely. The first thing that happened on the way up the elevator, was a guy who told us that he and his wife whined to the front desk because the rooms were too small, so they were given a two room suite.  Huh.  I wasn't sure if we were supposed to be impressed or what.  I don't know about you, but I tend to do a bit of research before going to a new place, and if I don't like what I see, I change my plans.  But you know what?  You do you, whiny guy. Congratulations, I guess. 

Personally, I liked what we got. The rooms aren't huge, but we don't really need a huge room so it doesn't matter. There are two doors just inside of the room door.  One leads to a really big (for a hotel at least) closet, and the other leads to the smallest bathroom I've ever seen in a hotel.  Like...for those of you who have seen the front bathroom at our house, it could fit comfortably inside that with about 1/3 of the room left over!  I don't mind the small bathroom, but wow.

After we got settled, we decided to go downstairs to the Swamp Fox restaurant and have dinner. It was probably for the best we didn't try and go out anywhere, because a fairly bad thunderstorm blew in around that time.  The food was all very good, and by the time we were done eating, Steve and I were exhausted. It's strange how just sitting around can be so tiring.

I will be on my own during the day for the next three days while Steve is working and I've gotten a lot of good advice about seeing the city, so I'm excited about exploring! Steve and I are staying an extra day to spend a little time together, so that should be fun too!  There is a lot to see and I want to have lots of fun!   

So let's get on with it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

RANDOM ACTS OF BLOGGING

1) The other night I was home alone and watching something scary on TV when the power went off.  Sudden, unexpected darkness is always the darkest darkness, don't you think?  In the first few completely blind moments of panic, while trying to figure out what happened, I lay on the floor like a slug (it was my only defense.)

I managed to find some lights, thank goodness, but not until after I ran around my house for a minute and grabbed a  flashlight that wouldn't light up.  I texted a couple of people, you know, so if I was found dead then there would be a timeline in place and then I sat in the dark like a cave person.

I think it should be illegal for the lights to go off while you're watching or reading something scary, don't you?  I don't know how the electric company would keep up with that sort of thing, but I think hefty fines should be in place for such events.

As it turns out, it was just a transformer issue and the lights came back on about thirty minutes later, but I learned a couple of things about myself.  A) I will never remember that my cell phone can be used as a flashlight until I've tried and failed to turn on several actual flashlights. I'm just a simple cave person. Technology confuses me. B) When panicked, I can run through my house in the pitch black without tripping over anything or knocking anything over, which is something I am unable to do while not panicked and with bright lighting. C) I can come up with a quick plan to murder intruders and find the will to carry out that plan while sitting in the dark of my living room.

So if the power goes off and any of you need to come to my house for any reason, I expect you to know and use the Kelly-Isn't-Tall-Enough-To-See-Through-The-Window hand signal that I recognize or you might get creatively mauled in a "Home Alone" type scenario.  If you don't know the hand signal, call me and find out before you knock on my door or you'll be sorry.

2)  I saw my new doctor. who did a bunch of blood tests, and all of them back normal! Whatever happened to put me in the hospital is now officially a glitch.  I'm not complaining or anything, trust me.  I don't want anything to be wrong with me and I don't want to have to ever go to the emergency room again.  Ever.  If I'm ever in the hospital I want it to be something planned well in advance and agreed to by myself while in full control of my faculties.

So there you go.  The Case of the Palpitating Heart will remain a mystery.

My doctor did proscribe me a medicine because apparently I'm too acidic.  Whatever that means.  I think it is the polar opposite of being a basic bitch. Who knows? Maybe I should call Beyonce, because I'm not sure what the PH scale of bitches is.

3) I completely zoned out while getting gas this morning.  I don't even know where my mind was, but the automatic feed shut off and I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing and I put my finger back on the trigger and gas spewed everywhere.  I had to pay for gas that didn't even go to my tank. :(  Stellar way to start the day.  I need to quit daydreaming.

4) I tried, and failed, to make peach jam over the weekend.  It was a spectacular failure, too, even though it didn't cause a fire or anything!  I had a surplus of peaches from our farmer's market trip that were rapidly getting ripe, so I cut up a few and thought I'd make a small batch of jam to keep them from having to be thrown away. 

I cut up the fruit, put it in the pot, and then realized that I didn't have any proper sugar.  I thought I had sugar, but instead of buying sugar, I had bought flour.  Shut up, they come in similar packages and I didn't read it!  So instead of doing the smart thing and finding a no sugar recipe, I found a package of coconut sugar I'd bought from Trader Joe's a year and a half ago.  Coconut sugar is a lot like brown sugar without the molasses taste, but it still has a caramel-esque flavor.  I thought it would be alright.  The next thing I thought I didn't have (but as it turned out, I did have it and just forgot) was lemon juice.  You have to add lemon juice so that the peaches don't turn brown. I substituted straight up citric acid, since I had that on hand, but what I didn't know at the time was that those things aren't a 1:1 sort of thing.  Straight citric acid is MUCH more acidic than lemon juice, but I put in two tablespoons of it because that's how much lemon juice you're supposed to add.  So, I had peaches, coconut sugar, citric acid and water in my pot and started cooking.  A recipe for disaster, indeed.

As it cooked, I would occasionally taste it and it was so dang sour.  So sour that I couldn't taste the peaches. It was like sucking on a War Head instead of any kind of jam I'd ever had.  I added more sugar, but it didn't help.  I added strawberries to help balance it out, but that didn't help either.  By the time the stuff was done cooking, the (entire bag of) coconut sugar had caramelized, so not only was the jam sour, it was BLACK.  I still canned it and proofed it, because I didn't want it to go to waste, so I just crossed my fingers that the acidity would mellow out as it cooled down. 

Last night I took the container of jam that I'd put in the fridge and dipped my finger into it to taste and see if it had mellowed out, but it had not.  Not even a little bit.  In fact, I don't know how how citric acid works, but I think that letting it cool down only made it mad.  I had less than an 8th of a t-spoon of that jam, barely enough to even swallow and it burned me.  It burned my mouth and all the way down into my stomach. I had to go brush my teeth and my tongue to get the burning to stop!  I ended up going to to the kitchen and unsealing every jar of that jam and dumping it, just in case it fell into some innocent person's hands.

I know I'm not such a good cook, and I've had a lot of kitchen disasters, but I think that's the first time I've ever made anything that might have been dangerous.  I managed to weaponize jam.  That's a new one, even for me!


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

AN UPDATE

Just to let you all know, because you love me and you care (awwww), I went back to the cardiologist this past Monday and everything is fine with my heart!  Woot!

I don't exactly know what the doctor said, because he has the thickest Indian accent I've ever encountered, but I was able to pick out enough to hear "Your heart is good" and that I don't have any problems with my heart that they can find!  Yay!

As for what caused the heart thing, I have no idea, but I do have some suspicions. I'm going to my new GP tomorrow and if she's as easy to talk to as I've been lead to believe, I will hopefully get myself back into fighting shape very soon.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, because as I've mentioned, I'm quite tired of not feeling well and I'd like to feel better soon please!

But my heart is good, so I don't have to worry about getting a transplant from a recently executed serial killer and then waking up from my surgery with a bloodthirsty urge to kill.

What?  It's a valid worry!  ; )

Monday, August 15, 2016

7 THINGS I KINDA HATE RIGHT NOW

I'm feeling misanthropic today.  Sorry.

1) I hate when people complain about how slow the internet is when it's their own fault that it's slow.  If you are trying to stream radio, video, and browse the internet all at the same time, whilst other people are also using the internet, when the service is not stellar in the first place, you are going to slow it down.  You can call the internet provider and yell at them all you want, but the fact that the internet comes back in full, or faster, when you are not there speaks volumes. BANDWIDTH! DO YOU SPEAK IT?

2) I hate that I don't feel good inside my body right now!  I'm having to go to doctors and I'm tired of it. I don't want to feel like I'm falling apart this early in my life! I just want to feel fine and not have worries that something is on the verge of malfunctioning. It is boring and I wish I didn't have to do any of it since I have many other things I'd rather do instead.

3) I hate the way Steve says "potato cakes."  That is a weird one. Potato cakes are a side item at a fast food restaurant and Steve used to order them all the time, but the way he said the words made my teeth stand on edge.  I don't know why!  It isn't the words that bother me, but just the way he says them. I really can't explain it.  Now that he knows how I feel, he just says it to vex me. 

4) I hate that when someone dies, people say "He/she has gone to be with Jesus."  That's kind of the same as the potato cakes thing.  I can't explain it at all.  It isn't the meaning of it I dislike, because I think it's a very nice sentiment, but I hate the phrase. As someone who works in a Baptist church, it is very unfortunate that I don't like that saying.

5) I hate that you have to be careful when you're buying cut up fruit at the market, because the produce folks just assume you want disgusting melon pieces in with otherwise acceptable food. Melons are gross and I don't want to be faced with them!

6) I hate that quinoa is not spelled like it sounds!

7) I hate that it is so hot that all of the roaches and palmetto bugs are trying to gain sanctuary inside my church and that I had to set off a bug bomb that laid waste to every bug in and around the lobby, and instead of anyone taking the initiative to help clean up the bugs, I had to personally sweep up a pile of dead insects that was seriously alarming.  People were just stepping around them instead.  It was gross.

Maybe since I couldn't think of more than 7 things I hate right now, I'm not too misanthropic. 

If you're a guy and you're feeling grumpy, does that mean you are misteranthropic?

I still like chocolate and puppies just fine.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

RANDOM ACTS OF BLOGGING

1) My car has been returned, the things that were once broken have now been repaired, and all is right in the universe!  Well, I'm still going to need to get a new car at some point, but at least I have air conditioning again and my "Check Engine" light isn't blinking at me anymore!

As it turns out, the problem with the car started last winter but I didn't know it.  You might remember me talking about how my heater had stopped working last year.  That isn't usually a big deal, but my hands get so cold that it is painful, so those few months were not fun. It never stays cold here for long so I didn't bother having it looked at.  Apparently that was just a symptom of my car's thermostat starting to fail.  The smoke coming out from under the hood was also a symptom of the thermostat not working and the housing being cracked, but it was just more dramatic!  We had to replace the thermostat and we also found out my back brakes were worn through and the front brakes were close to being the same.  So yay, lots of expensive repairs on a car I'm planning to get rid of, but at least I'll be safe for a while longer.  Also, it'll give me more time to save for the new car, so I'm not going to complain about that!

2) I had my holter test done last week, and that was a pain in the butt.  OK, that's not exactly fair.  As far as a test goes, it was fairly straightforward and painless, but having to lug around the holter was both embarrassing and annoying. 

If you are unfamiliar with this kind of test, basically you go into your friendly neighborhood cardiologist's office and a nurse will tell you to lift up your shirt. He/she will proceed to stick five lead connectors on various parts of your chestial and stomachial (those are the scientific terms, BTW) areas and snap on lead wires onto each sticker. 

This is the only one I could show you without adding a "Are You 18 or Older" tag on this entry.

Then you hang the lanyard around your neck and wear a recorder that is roughly the size and shape of a closed flip phone.

 
 Like so.

You can put the holter in your pocket, but you constantly have to worry that you're pressing buttons that ought not to be pressed, so I kept the holter around my neck unless I was going to be going into a place where I didn't want to be stared at, and trust me, people stare at you when you walk into a store looking like a small time suicide bomber.  I ended up skipping Wednesday night choir practice because I didn't want to have to answer questions about it.  That probably sounds rude, because all of the people I know are very well meaning and concerned, but I just wasn't in the mood to talk about it. :)

One of the things you have to do while wearing the holter is keep a diary of times when things feel weird.  Actually, the diary (actually a pamphlet with spaces to write) says to keep an all day dairy, but the nurse told me to only record when my heart felt weird.  I thought I was going to get away without writing anything in it, but I had to make a few entries.  Some were totally explainable, such as when I got startled at work and when I helped to move a mattress out of the house.  There were a couple of times I didn't know what was going on, but my heart would just pound really hard for no reason at all. 

 One thing that I thought was funny about the little pamphlet was the "Activity" part of the directions:


Look, I'm all about gettin' while the gettin' is good, if you know what I mean, but I can't imagine anyone who might be wearing one of these electronic heart octopuses feeling sexy enough to get up to shenanigans.  Maybe that's just me, though.  Good on anyone who feels differently, but that made me laugh!  

I had to wear the holter for 24 hours, and I couldn't take a shower while I was wearing it, so I had to wait until the 24 hours were up before I could unhook myself and take the thing back to the doctor.  Medical grade adhesive is no joke, either.  I had to pull the leads off, and now, almost a week later, I still have sticker hickeys on my body!  I'm just glad it is over, and I hope they don't find anything!  I'm tired of doctor stuff.  I don't want to go back for anything more than a cold or a checkup for a while, if you don't mind.

3)  Speaking of mattresses (which I did. Go back up and find the reference) Steve and I finally got a new one!  We've been sleeping on the old, Big Lots mattress for years and years, and as it was cheap, it was never particularly comfortable.  Steve bought a Casper mattress and it was delivered to our house in a fairly small box.  It was stupid heavy, though. I know this because I had to bring it in off of the walkway by myself because it was raining.  Thanks, delivery guy!  When we opened the box, I had the knee-jerk reaction that we had gotten cheated.  It was all rolled up, and looked nothing like a mattress.  In fact, it looked like a rolled up duvet, and I thought I was about to go get indignant with one of the operators who were standing by.  We pulled the roll out of the box and saw that it was wrapped in a Tyvek compression sleeve (Tyvek being the virtually unbreakable pressed fiber material that concert bracelets are made of).  It also came with a letter opener thing to cut the Tyvek sleeve off of the roll.  We struggled with that for a minute or so before the sleeve and plastic came off and the mattress started...weirdly...swelling up.  You've seen those emergency rafts that inflate themselves? It was doing that in slow motion.  Sorry for being crude, but I was so surprised that I yelled "OH MY GOODNESS IT'S GETTING BIGGER!!" which was loud enough for the neighbors, who's driveway and basketball goal is right outside of our bedroom window, to hear.  Oy.

Anyway, it sort of swelled up until it was a real mattress sized thing!  It was weird, but I can deal with weird! :)  It's miles away more comfortable than our old mattress and it stays cooler than our old one.  It's a bit firmer than I'm used to, but I can sleep on it and that is the important thing.  I'm not necessarily saying you should buy one, but you should totally buy one, even if it's just to watch it expand!

4) I accidentally stabbed myself in the stomach with a dull box cutter.  Just a little stab, so nothing major.  I didn't even bleed that much, so except for maybe bruising my pancreas, I'm ok.  I was wrapping a wedding gift and had to cut down a box to make it more size appropriate.  I made a rookie mistake of cutting towards myself and the blade skipped and hit me in the stomach!  I was scared at first, because it hurt, but it wasn't bad.  The really odd thing was that I had on a shirt and a camisole, and somehow neither of them were cut, but my stomach got cut!  I even went back later to make sure I was right about that, and I was.  How does that even happen?

I really do hurt myself a lot, don't I?