Sunday, November 27, 2011

Things I've done since Carrie's post

Helped with a surprise party, been name Fairy Godmother to an awesome little one, applied for random jobs, gone to a pathetic state sponsored job fair, applied for grants for a project I'm doing on substance use in pregnancy, gone through a training and gotten a hospital i.d. for the project, worked on another research project, applied for more jobs, worked on a veterans habitat for humanity build, went to another fun birthday party, found the mediocre deli, got a little lost, helped a good friend get her house ready for renters while she's out of the country, practiced banjo, got expensive repairs done on my car, shoveled snow, finished winterizing the house, went to two Thanksgiving dinners, ate leftovers, worked on grants, applied for jobs, went to the rheumatologist, goofed off, did mysterious things, wrote and read emails, kept applying for my unemployment, wrote a very long run-on fragment sentence.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cool things about my job

Most days work is pretty routine, but the past 2 weeks I've got to do some pretty cool things...

On October 21st, I hung out with Katie Hnida (blonde in the middle), the first woman to play and score in a Division I football game.  She came to campus to talk about sexual assault.

On October 27th, my class helped out with a Halloween party for children from a local after school program.

On November 2nd, I went with another one of my classes to the Greater Boston Food Bank where we helped sort 6,198 pounds of food which will provide 4,760 meals.

Today, I went with my class to the Naval War College in Newport, RI to tour the USS Buckeley.

All in a days work!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

looking for jim

Well B&B fans, it seems Kristina's madcap travel adventures were not quite completed for 2011.   Currently I'm sitting in a swanky new Hilton Garden Inn in the fab suburb of Maple Grove MN.  My Uncle Jerry passed away on the 20th from Alzheimer's and so the bulk of the remaining Wolff clan gathered together these past few days to bid our farewell, reminisce, reconnect a wee bit and set aside short and long standing feuds and grudges.

The last three days have involved a trip to Boston which included an evening watching three lovely ladies get fancy new hairdoos at Che Itzak & Ned's, two semi-bumpy airplane rides to exotic places like Milwaukee, many restaurant meals and blowing out the lights in my first hotel room (turned out to be a busted computer cord after all and the hotel maintenance guy gave it a big tug to prove it was busted - ahem).  It's been harder to find a replacement cord than I expected but I'm working on it and the hotel has provided one for me for now.  

The ceremony for Jerry was short, small and sweet - complete with a thoughtful video with many pictures to tug at one's hearts and induce appropriate levels of happy thoughts and sadness.  After we (yes, once again - partially due to birth order - I was chosen to be a pall bearer) loaded Jerry into the hearse we had the appropriate roll/ham sandwich with church coffee snack and headed out to Ft. Snelling cemetery for Jerry's final trip.  Erika and I played some pretty great sad songs on the way but at one point she didn't switch the ipods quickly enough (we were sharing them) and a more dance-y song came on.  As Jerry liked to have a good time, we figured it was appropriate to enjoy the music.  My cousin Kelly didn't quite see the dance moves at that time but did see us boogieing another time and said it made her think of this: 

Yeah that's right, I've been driving around the suburbs in a Kia Soul (not by choice) - at least it's a pretty dark grey blue.

There are many awkward, tense and funny moments that have happened the last few days and as you may guess, quite a number of amazing quotes - many of which were fueled by multiple adult beverages but to capture the family a bit, I thought I'd mention one of the more memorable instances.

We were gathered at my Aunt Jean and Uncle Craig's house for dinner and as I was walking back into the dining / family room I heard my aunts (Jean, Connie & Mary who are the sisters of Jerry,  Jim and my Dad), uncles, cousin's and a family friend talk about whether or not they wished to be cremated or buried.  I learned important family facts like that our grandparents now have a monument instead of simple flat headstones, which was mentioned because a couple aunts did a 'cemetery tour' today.  They then were debating whether or not it was ok to break with Wolff family tradition of burial and go for cremation - people were talking about where they wanted their ashes distributed and in the midst of this one person noted they wanted to be in a sarcophagus.  Suddenly my Aunt Jean burst out - "I need to find Jim; I need to see if he's here."

Yesterday Jim's kids were talking about how he made his presence known to them after he died via flickering lights and messing with their tvs (just trust me on this one).  So I thought my aunt was going to turn on the tv.  Nope, she jumped up and went over to the fireplace and started shaking things - then she pulled down a vase and looked inside - "Nope, he's not in here."  Then we realized, she was looking for his ashes (she doesn't have all of them) which are kept in a small velvet bag.  She thought 'he' needed to be on the table, to join us in the conversation.  Suddenly Craig (her husband) jumped up to help her look for him - they were roaming all over the house - talking about where Jim was:  "Maybe he's upstairs,"  "I think we put him over here in the kitchen," "Jim, Jim Jim.."  "Oh wait, did we stick him in the junk drawer?"  All the while we were laughing and of course offering suggestions and noting that 'Jim' really wasn't there.  While Craig was running all over the house looking for Jim, Jean was poking around near us and then would have to stop momentarily to explain where she thought he was, why he was moved and what her plans were for 'Jim'. Apparently he is on his way up to their cabin on this tiny lake because she wanted to "spread his ashes across the lawn."  We didn't ask why he wasn't going to be scattered / dumped into the lake.

Soon she gave up looking and we started to move onto another subject when suddenly - a velvet bag was dropped onto the middle of the table.  "JIM!!" Jean yelled, as her hubbo stood there proudly having helped out his wife.  "Where was he?" she asked, "upstairs in our bedroom.. in the top drawer in the dresser" said Craig.  "Oh yeah," Jean said, "that's where we keep our treasures."  I noted I thought it was a little creepy to keep him in their room especially since you didn't know what part you had - "what if it was his big toe and backside?".  This promptly got Jean and my Aunt Connie to simultaneously go into detail as to how cremation worked - as I tried to stop them, Craig also jumped in to clarify things.  Of course I was finally able to tell them that I knew how it worked and that I was joking.  For the rest of the evening we all hung out with 'Jim'.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Things to Consider on Labor Day Weekend

Hello B&BS fans - here's a random list of 10 things that have crossed our minds this Labor Day Weekend.  These may or may not be inspired by actual events.

1.  You can never make too much jam and adding vanilla or cinnamon to jam makes it "infinitely better" but I guess only works if you like cinnamon or vanilla and are not allergic to either one or both.

2. Don't give your bank information to someone who is posing as someone from the Red Cross and tells you its' safer to give your information on paper than it is on-line because that's how they used to do it in the olden days.  This is especially true if you're at Downtown Crossing.

3.  When meeting a snake, remember it is impolite to look at its "package".  

4.  Wine is a drink.

5.  Beer tastes great after hauling and splitting wood all day. The jury is out on how it tastes after seeing certain snake parts.

6. One of us has a new understanding as to why people don't make tomato paste at home.

7. St. Anthony makes way more money at the end of the festival than the beginning; probably because the ending takes ten hours.

8.  The Food Network should not advertise Hamburger Helper.

9.  Hurricane's and tropical storms do strike people who live far away from the ocean and that doesn't make them bad people.

10. You can get your period after you make a baby - even if you make one at home in less than five hours. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Howdy B&B readers!  Some of you may have heard that if you get a tattoo that you'll catch the 'bug' and want to get many more.  Well we're here to tell you that the same is true for making jam - once you start, you may not want to stop {pop culture reference: or like Pringles, once you pop you can't stop}.

     sidenote: Carrie would like to note that she doesn't have any tattoos.

While Kristina was visiting Boston last week, she reminded Carrie that she knew of a particular backyard of a house that is for sale and doesn't have occupants in it that had some blackberries which needed to fulfill their destiny of becoming jam.  Once she added the "free laundry at my house" enticement, Carrie decided to come up for a visit even though it would mean that we had about a 50 hour break from one another which sometimes pushes the bff-ness a bit.  Example:  K says to C "you should really drink more water, that's why you get headaches all the time."  C replies: "I don't get headaches all the time, just when I'm around you".  [B-Zanga!!]
Carrie arrived on Friday evening and heard about Kristina's grand plans of finishing mowing the lawn, having friends over for dinner, finishing her porch windows, painting the rest of the porch and making jam - all between that evening and Monday morning.  Carrie made a great pitch to start with jam so Saturday morning after breakfast we checked out fruit opportunities at the local farmer's market (as there were no farms in the area that had what we were looking for and the result at the market was nil fyi unless we wanted the beautiful tomato fruit).  We then headed toward the free organic wild blackberries.  Here's our haul:

We picked roughly 12 pints of berries.  Feeling energized, we picked up a few more jars, lined them up and started to plan out what we were going to make.  I should have been concerned when Carrie pulled this out for consultation:

We decided to take stock of the jars we had to help us figure out what to make.  Here's what we had to fill:

Our first two batches were blackberrry jam.  We then branched out and using some leftover berries from last year made peach, blackberry, raspberry jam.  After that we decided to ease off on the blackberries and made peach pear ginger jam.  Finally, we thought we'd tackle the box of crabapples (which technically may or may not be considered wild.  If you saw the tree in my backyard you'd probably say "wild" or simply, "messed up").  Here's what we had to work with:

We thought that we'd need a whole bunch of crabapples but it turns out that we needed around five or six to make a crabapple blackberry jam / compote.  We're going to try and whip up a crabapple compote tomorrow before Carrie goes back to Boston but after two days / 12 hours of solid jam making, I think we aren't going to be making major batches (oh, there's also 2 cups of blackberries left too).  As of right now we have 74 jars of jam (a mix of 8 and 4 oz jars) and close to four dozen more jars to fill.  Here's a closing foto to see some of the end product - the crabapple blackberry is the one without the label.

FYI if someone tells you that your eyeglasses are dirty about five times and finally says "do you want me to clean those for you," it might be a good idea to clean them.  I'm thinking about how pear sage honey jam would taste (I have a lot of sage in my garden) and I think Carrie is just ready to get some sleep.  Yes, the kitchen is clean and ready to go and we're planning on having eggs, bacon [believe it or not pals, I'm actually eating and cooking this stuff once in a while even though the cooking smells turns my tum-tum a bit] and cheese biscuits to give us the energy to keep jamming tomorrow. 

ta-ta, toodle-oo, poopied-poo, jammiedy-jam-jam-in-your-jams to you! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lookin' for Gnomes in all the Wrong Places....

Searching for Hillary Clinton's Gnomes

Today the Banjos and Brastraps team took a trip to Lincoln, MA to take advantage of FREE summer weekdays at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.  Even though it was raining we walked the grounds outside to capture some of the art for the 2 of you who follow this blog.  Here's the link to the museum site if you feel like checking it out  One of the rules at the museum is as follows:

After learning this, we decided to make our first B&B videos for the blog -- here they are!

Here's our second attempt at providing you with some culture:

After we visited the museum we then literally went and checked out some new brastraps to add to our collections.  With the help of Marie the "bra fitting expert" the girls will be high and dry.

We then had a quick bite to eat at the PF Chang's bistro where KBW is certain that Max the waiter has never eaten anything spicy because his concern over the spiciness of her ginger beer and chang's chicken was unwarrented - let's just say she was adding lots of chili oil and paste to her dish while saying "this isn't spicy at all!".  Nice try Max!  We are going to try to recreate the ginger beer -- check back for that recipe.

Then for the highlight of the night we zoomed to Doyle's in JP for Tuesday Night Trivia.  With insightful answers like "Bull Run", "Bobby Fischer" and some comments from the team like "How many superbowls have we had?" and "Is Bangladesh a country or a city?" and a little bit of reenacting of a midnight oil video, the 9 person team of "Ineligible to win" came in 3rd place and beat our archrivals "trivia newton john".  With this win we now have two of the following trophies in our possession - sans beer:

We're off to be good citizens by donating some books, KBW is heading back to Maine today, CLC will be joining her soon for another Maine adventure -- until then:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

aug blog

The mighty Dr. Cokely and I have been randomly discussing various things we wish to post on the blog and then we get off the phone, she does mysterious things, I get distracted by something shiny and it remains nothing but an ever-changing memory [insert shout out to postmodernists here and random reference to an episode of Six Feet Under for a Ms. Megan Fearless Ferland].

So here's the random stuff that I've been doing (again Cokely is doing mysterious things so I cannot write for her except to drop another passing reference which will be: "Trivia Newton John" to see if it will bring her back to the blog - [You've been served! - ahem]).

1. A few last fotos of Oahu.  On my last day I drove along the Windward Coast as I had some time between leaving the condo and starting the long trek home.  All I'll say about the flight back is that it took three hours from arriving at the curb of the airport to get to my gate.  I first went to the Valley of the Temples to see the Byodo-In Temple.  It was wonderful.

I rang a peace bell before entering the temple and then just sat in front of this amazing Buddha statue.  It was very peaceful and the place was certainly (no joke here) one with its natural environment.  People were just hanging out, there was a little jazz concert for peace and it was just what I needed - calm, no expectations, beautiful, people hanging out with nature, swans, carp, all kinds of great things - sorta like living in Maine.  I couldn't resist - although I did wait for someone else to do this because I didn't want to break any rules - I took a picture of the Buddha.  I have no idea how big it is and it really was the only religious statue I've been in front of that was completely  calming and welcoming.  Here he is:

After that I drove the island,I actually ended up back in Haleiwa, had lunch and headed back toward Honolulu.  I saw really great things, a beautiful windmill 'farm', Coconut Island (I called my Mom from a park looking at the island - she's been there too - it was cool to look at this place and know that she and my Dad had been there before), and a bunch of other interesting sites including a shrimp truck that was pictured in the guidebook I had and the ranch where Lost was filmed.  

On my way back toward Honolulu and the airport I saw a sign for the Laie Temple [no offense to my pals who hold this place as sacred, although I recognize I'm testing our friendship a bit here].  I remembered reading about it but could not remember why it was important.  When I turned into the drive, everything changed - the landscape went from a very natural and at times a bit beat-up and rugged site to a very manicured and homogeneous landscape.  It was like going from rural Maine into a suburban subdivision.  As I drove in, I saw this very white, bleached looking, squared off building that made me think of old US government or military buildings from around WWII.  It was very impressive, controlled, and clean.  I pulled into the parking lot to check things out.  

I walked into a pretty building, although it was also a bit stuffy and stiff.  There's was a very nice man (in black pants, white shirt and black tie) and a pleasant woman in a blue, floral mumo who greeted me.  As I looked around I realized where I was - I was with the Mormons -  all the women were dressed in these very proper matching mumos and men in the same pant/shirt combo - it was as if the Stepford Wives and Brady's Go to Hawaii merged together.  As I was talking to the woman who greeted me, I looked over and saw this panoramic scene with a giant, alabaster, floating Jesus above a replica of a traditional Hawaiian village and all I could think of was colonization.  I stayed and talked with a very nice young woman who was fulfilling her mission year and also what she wanted to do with her life.  The fascinating part was differences between the Eastern and Western ideologies and most striking was the very stark physical contrasts in both actual human-made objects and the atmosphere / feel of the place.  My trip back to the mainland was uneventful and ended as I began but in reverse; I woke up looking at the Pacific and saw the day ending over the Atlantic.

2.  I arrived home with two of the eight trees the electric company said they were going to cut down in front of my house were indeed cut down.  Eventually the rest went too and as of right now, there are a few logs left in the yard.  My 'husband' Neil came to visit and we planted two little gardens in the yard - one adjacent to my house in the back between the basement door and back steps and then put enough plants around the roses to make it look like a flower garden.  The garden is doing quite well, in fact it really is doing what it wants even though I pretend to have some control. The foto above is about four weeks old (hey, that's a month!) - right now the squash and tomatoes are competing for complete domination.  I think the squash has more staying power.  I picked my first mini-gross of hot peppers today.  It may not look like it but there are three kinds here: jalapenos, anaheim and chili peppers.

3.  During the end of June / beginning of July, I did exciting things like mow the yard, weed the garden, as noted previously - plant things with Neil, cut things down, work on my refinishing my porch windows, go to fun social events, revise an article for publication (due in Sept or Oct if you need something to fall asleep to I'll send it to you once it's out), apply for jobs, sleep a bit, go kayaking, swimming and buy a ticket to Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in upstate NY.

4.  What's Falcon Ridge Folk Festival?  Well, it is this amazing event that officially last for three days (Fri-Sun) but unofficially runs for four and one-half days in Hillsdale NY.  My pal Ruth Hill went last year and simply described it as "rejuvenating".  Officially, the festival is in a ridge (Duh!) - there are four stages where people perform / hold workshops: the dance stage, family, workshop and main stage.  Music starts on Friday from 12 noon to 12 midnight but some days it starts at 10:30 (not main stage).  Starting at 7am, you can go to the amphitheater and lay down a blanket / tarp and chairs [seating is no chair / low-chair, high chair, and no rules - aka shelters and little tents] to mark your place.  If you aren't using your spot, someone else can.  Since I apparently don't sleep like most people, I ended up waking up around 7 (or before) on Fri and Sat and so found a couple of AWESOME places to set-up in front of the main stage.  It is very relaxed and non-confrontational.  You simply set-up camp and do whatever the hell you want.

My friend Ruth and I left on a Wed. with the belief that we would be able to buy a few supplies, drive the six hours to FRFF and set-up camp before dark.  Despite our best efforts we were unable to do so partially because the major camping stores we visited did not have the stuff I was looking for [just trust me here - too annoying to recap].  Plus it was during the muggy hot heat [redundant, I know] wave so we ended up staying in Great Barrington NY, near the MA and VT border at a humid Comfort Inn which, for free, provided us with a lovely smell of newly sealed tar and around 10ish at night I managed to set-off the car alarm.  You're welcome, FYI, to all those who stayed near us.

However, being the lucky gals we are we had an 'awesome' Thursday.  First, on our quest for breakfast, we stopped at K-mart where I got the chair, umbrella, tarp and a few other things I was looking for [take that fancy schmancy camping stores] and then we had a nice local breakfast at Martin's.  I realized while we were there that my standard Kristina uniform of black and navy tee-shirts might be uncomfortable in 100+ degrees or so, humid weather so I decided to splurge and purchase a tee-shirt. 

Picture this: there I was on Saturday, another hot day, trying to be practical - wearing a white shirt (which I think this is actually the second white tee-shirt I own), listening to the indescribably wonderful Mary Gauthier (who I think had a perfect or near perfect set), sing about dark things [my favorite] in this GD happy tee-shirt.

I wished for my Carolina Roller Girls skull shirt but alas, all I could do was try to downplay the ridiculously cute dorky shirt I now own.  As a jammie shirt it's pretty GD awesome I must say but not really what I wanted to wear seeing MG.  It's hard to describe FRFF.  It was the first I'd been camping since the mid-80s - I's like to note that the last time was camping in February (or maybe March) in Minnesota.  All I can say is: chilly.  I had a great time - really - even the porta potties were ok.  We set up camp on Thursday - arguably the most difficult day weather wise - two tents, a communal shelter and a joint shower.  This is the view from out site - the teeny white on the right side is where the main stage is.

Plus Ruth (who is most generous - no comment about me, ahem) helped our neighbor with her camp site.  I think we had one of the best places -  it was higher up on the ridge - we could hear all the music from the main stage really well and it was removed from the usual hubbub.  Most people just camp and go see music but there are quite a few that after the official music has ended at midnight, they go to a number of larger campsites (below us in other camping areas) where people perform in a lot of ways - primarily in song-circles or in mini-performances.  The music will last until 4 or 5 am.  On Thursday night there was a good size stage set-up in a camping area with musicians performing - some were part of FRFF, some had performed in previous years and others were new.  Ruth and I went to that - it was pretty interesting - I went back to the camp after it was done and she roamed around and performed in the other "informal" areas.  That's basically what we did for the whole time - listen to music, walk around, talk to people, listen to music, eat, pee+, listen to music (or jam if you're Ruth), sleep a bit, repeat as needed.  I saw some great established bands, newer / "unestablished" musicians and some who I was not impressed with both "known" and "unknown" but it was all well worth it.  A new band from VT - Split Tongue Crow - hung out with us and jammed with Ruth.  We also had neighbors from VT who hung out with us a bit.  We also found out from a FRFF regular that our camp was where Gillian Welch and her band stayed a few years ago which just added to the magic.  I  highly recommend it and hope I can return.

5.  During FRFF I noticed that I had a little bit of a reaction to poison ivy, which very easily and most like came from my very own yard.  Of course, I had thought about bringing medication and forgot.  The end result is that it spread to my arms and legs and after going through multiple tubes of ointment, I started on steroids (the dreaded predinose) last Monday.  The result?  Well the usual crying over ridiculous things (if you buy me a beer I'll tell you the parking space story), is not happening.  Instead, I feel hopped up so the end result is little sleep and lots of production.  I could provide the genealogy to the events but here's the major end result: porch windows are still waiting, dining / music room has been stripped of wallpaper, primed [the main house color is two coats of primer], painted w/a legit color, cleaned and previous and newer art/pics have been hung-up.  Also, the wall by the stairs has gone through a similar process, the stairs have been painted and the ugly, stained wallpaper above the stairs has been taken down.  There are pics on facebook but here are a few more:
Here's what the stairs used to look like (without the runner) and the new paint job (sorry can't quite get the two pics right next to one another):

Then with all my extra steroid driven energy, I also stripped the wallpaper, with multiple borders from the dining / music room.  Here's one picture of the final result:

Last but not least, as with any home reno project, once one begins there's a chance that more projects will get started then ended.  So that said, thanks to my friend John's initiative, here's what the top of the stairs now looks like.  The good thing is that the loose, in some places water stained, wallpaper is gone.  Even though its the traditional yuccky green color that the previous owners enjoyed, it is way better than what was up there a few days ago.

I think that is all.  Many other small, fun things have happened but the blog is long, I am tired and it is late so I shall end here.  Thanks for reading.  I'm sure there will be another post in August, which I guess could be good or bad depending on who you are and if you subscribe to a purely dualistic way of thinking about and seeing the world. : )  Until the next entry.....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

oahu food blog

We trudged up and down Diamond Head today and then watched people trying to surf at Waikiki.  Due to being a little worn down I'm just posting food pics tonight.  Mind you, we've eaten more than what's up here but we didn't take pics of everything - this is what we remembered to do.

Water, Pomegranate Iced Tea, Cesar Salad and Pineapple Iced Tea from the YWCA in 

Pulled Pork with fresh greens, garlic aioli and onion rings from the YWCA.

Seared Tuna with Bacon, some kind of special sauce, fresh greens and onion rings.  Like the other food, its all local and organic.  YWCA are rock stars!

Mai Tai's from Duke's Surfer bar (not the correct name) in Waikiki.

More from Duke's:

Sashimi (Ahi) w/pickled ginger.

Duke's Hot Wings &...

Duke's fries.

Lava flow?  Unsure of name and this was standing upright in the foto, don't know how to flip it properly for the blog.  

Missing food includes really cruddy Cesar salad and ok tasting but bad for the bod calimari and popcorn shrimp from a place in Hale'iwa.  Also a most awesome breakfast of coffee, grapefruit juice, sweetbread french bread and Huevos Rancheros with avacado from an awesome restaurant in Hale'iwa plus the little breakfasts and snacks we've had at the condo.

This is the pod containing the mysterious nut that may not be fit for human consumption but was tossed over the lanai railing before I could figure out what it was.

I found this on the beach and I suggested we try out our Iron Chef skills until Vickie noted that something else had already consumed whatever was inside.

Mahalo for reading; another blog to come soon.  


Sunday, June 19, 2011

aloha oahu (days one and two)

Aloha from Hale'wa Oahu B&BS readers - as promised (or warned depending on your perspective), I'm blogging from sunny Oahu Hawaii!  My friend Vickie and I are vacationing this week here on the North Shore.  So far things have been fairly uneventful but here's what's happened so far:

My bud Carrie drove me to the airport at the 'butt crack of dawn' (4:50am) on Friday June 17th.  She took the scenic route so I was able to see the sunrise over the Atlantic before I was trapped inside two different flying metal objects for roughly 13 hours.  The first flight took me from Boston to Phoenix.  The views were pretty amazing - as I'm sure some of you know, it's like flying over a topographical map that you mess around with in elementary school.  I'm not sure if I actually flew over Yucca Mountain but this foto (from google images which is where all the pics are coming from since my camera broke and I'm unable to download the sim card at this point in time), shows a bit of what I saw, well without words written on it.
Most of the people on my flights listened to ipods, watched movies, slept or read - very few were looking out their windows to see the sights.

I got to hang out at the Phoenix airport for a little over one hour. It was around 9am AZ time so I thought I'd grab an egg sandwich since all I'd eaten was a granola bar.  My choices were Burger King hamburgers, Pizza Hut pizza, some sort of deli with sandwiches or a 40,000 calorie cinnabun.  After walking around the airport for about 30 minutes (I needed to stretch anyway), I settled on peanut butter crackers and an almond/coconut snack thing.  All I can say about the food there is 'epic fail'.

I left Phoenix around 10 am and the continental US around noon I think - I wrote the time down but can't find it - I think its on my travel docs which I believe are in the car.  From there until 2:15pm HI time, all there was to see were clouds and blue sky.  

One of the interesting things about the HI airport is that in some of the gates, people can meet you there so the security isn't as tight as other airports I've been at.  If you want a Lei you have to purchase it and there's very little to do at the airport.  All the shops on the level we were at were closed and there were very few people around.  I made my way to the car rental place (via two shuttles) and then waited in line to get the car Vickie reserved. Needless to say, it's fun to drive especially with the top down.

Since I had about five hours to kill, I went driving up the Wai'anne (Leeward) coast - its the side of the island that Pearl Harbor is on.  I saw some beautiful scenery and went for a walk on the beach at Kea'au Park, stuck my feeties in the water and just sat for a few minutes.  It was beautiful and made me appreciate the space we have on the mainland as I started to feel a bit claustrophobic knowing that I was on an island and I believe closer to Fiji and Guam than California - for sure closer than Maine.  The pace here is certainly laid back.  

Sociology sidenote:  there's a lot of poverty here - I saw a number of homeless people and many houses that looked like they were barely standing; often near large highrises and fancier homes.  This became more apparent as I drove to a tip of the island, to Ka'ena Point State Park where there also happens to be an Army Satellite Tracking Station.  Of course there's military people and bases all over Oahu.  Close to the tracking station, there were a lot of people camping and also squatting on the beach.  I drove by an area close to the state park where people were walking up to cars and selling things.  I'm sure you can sort through my innuendo here.  Oh, I saw a ferret zip across the road here.  Here's a picture of the point: 

Around 6pm I realized that I should probably eat something - it was midnight EST and all I'd eaten was nutty stuff and needless to say I was very tired.  So I meandered back toward Honolulu and found a built up area that had food at Battle Point Harbor.  I ended up getting a yummy sandwich at a local fast food-type place called Aloha something - Aloha Eats maybe.  They had food that was grown locally and it was fresh so that was awesome.  I also managed to buy a hat, which looks ridiculous on me but it'll be good for hiking and boating and such in ME, not just laying on the beach in HI and then I found this exotic department like store 
where I got some waterbottles that are non-bpa (or whatever the bad plastic is) and has a thing in it that you can freeze to help keep your beverage cool.

Then I went and got Vickie at the airport.  We roamed around the streets of Honolulu looking for a 24 hr. Safeway so we could buy some food and then headed to Hale'wa on the North Shore.  We drove through the Dole Pineapple Plantation but could only smell the pineapples since it was dark out.  We ended up at our condo around 10 pm (4am EST).  We sorta saw the beach, had a little cocktail after I showered and then basically passed out.

The next morning, we woke up and realized that someone had put this in our front yard:
I'm not sure how we're going to be able to deal with this day in and day out!  Rumor has it turtles sleep on the beach at night, perhaps we'll go out tonight and look for them.  Yesterday we spent the day laying on the beach and swimming a little in the water.  Vickie and I have both finished our books - she was reading The Help and highly recommends it; I was reading The Partly Cloudy Patriot and liked it but not as much as Assassination Vacation (both by Sarah Vowell).  I'm about to start Vowell's new book Familiar Fishes which is about HI - hope Gretchen won't mind if I get some sand in it.  I should get to the water, Vickie's been out there for about 45 minutes without me.  

Here are some of the best quotes we've had so far: 

"When in doubt, when your camera doesn't work just smack it" [turns out it is a temporary fix].

"If your camera doesn't work, shut it off and wait five hours"  When I didn't do this Vickie said sternly "What did I say about five hours?"  [this didn't work either].

After I picked up a pod from the beach and started to dissect it Vickie said: "That's not an almond, smell it - it's something that birds it not people.  This is for wildlife not people" and then threw what was left of the pod over the railing and then said "sorry I pitched your nut".

"Real women have bellies".

When I was holding my camera to my ear to hear if it was trying to work Vickie said "That's a camera not a telephone".

"You can get cheap flowers like this in Seattle for like $5."
"You can get those in Maine too, you know like carnations and stuff".
"Why buy carnations when you can just go to a funeral and take them for free?"

Apparently it's Father's Day so I'll close with a foto of someone with their Dad at the Honolulu Airport.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Birthday visuals

Flowers from friends

Pretty baubles

Sweet treats

All add up to a great way to celebrate a birthday!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

mystic beantown

June has certainly proven to be a busy month so far for us WOA (women of action).  Early June began with marking the completion of Kristina's garden. I think it is now about 10 ft. by 30 ft. and notice there's a new little herb bed outside fence (yes there's a fence made out of chicken wire which is supported by the poles).  Carrie would like you all to know that  she did not help in the garden this year but my friends John (the hammer) Messier and Gretchen (tiller queen) Legler did help me out in significant ways.

My friend Ruth had another successful show at Slates in Hallowell ME.  It was her cd release party and the concert went quite well.  For those who are interested in her music you can check out her website and/or friend her on facebook (Ruth Hill Fan page).  I'm her sometimes roadie / email gal.  It was an awesome show and if you like folk / acoustic music you'd probably like her stuff, its pretty great.

Carrie, who is sitting next to me reading a magazine in her kitchen, wants everyone to know that "one piece suits are the best bet if you want to look slimmer in a swimsuit.  Tankinis are particularly unflattering" (ShopSmart ; ) July 2011: 30).  This was actually a recent topic of conversation with my friend Gaelyn and I as I had to purchase a new swimsuit.  The old one still fit except in the behinder area which was saggy and would probably create a few uncomfortable moments for me if I wore it in public.  Carrie does not need to purchase a new suit this year.

I have been in Boston since Friday afternoon - I came down to celebrate Carrie's birthday, hang out with her friends and our mutual friends Lucy (from NC), Neil (currently residing in Worcester MA) and Sarah (who lives right down the road from said Carrie).  We decided that before I headed back North that we'd update people on our recent happenings.  I just asked Carrie if she remembered any of the 'funny' things we said yesterday she replied, "like what?".  This could be quite the dull post but alas, we will trudge along in the hope that maybe someone is slightly amused.

Friday night:  we went to Sarah's house to watch the "B's" game and while we were there we walked up her street to see the filming of I hate my dad which is some kind of new Adam Sandler film.  We were quite star struck seeing the crew breakdown the set and seeing clothes from the show - not.  While we arrived too late to see anyone famous / semi-famous (unlike my most recent brush with fame which was having David Strathain sit next to me at a conference) we were pleased to know that Wollaston MA can easily be transformed into looking like a neighborhood in the 1980's.  Aside from having fun with Sarah and friends, the Bruins lost that game and that's really all we'd like to note about that night.

Carrie's birthday Saturday:  While Carrie worked at another thrilling Curry Orientation, I picked up the house a little and did some food prep for her birthday gathering.  She actually got up early to make cupcakes for the event.  In the afternoon I went and met our friend Lucy (who I worked with at Warren Wilson College in Asheville NC), for lunch in Boston.  She is in town taking a two-week education leadership seminar.  Lucy and I enjoyed seeing people who were all dressed up in their rainbow gear for GLBT Pride.  We also saw bands of roaming pirates around Faneuil Hall - seriously - there were tons of younger folks with pirate outfits on, we believe it was tied to a pub crawl connected to a fundraiser for a deadly disease but we have no supporting evidence.  Lucy and I returned to Wollaston where we helped Carrie prep a whole bunch of yummy food and then parteeeeeeeee into the early AM, well actually late night.  Rumor has it there was a dance competition when Neil and I were taking Lucy back to her hotel but again, there's no supporting evidence that this occurred.  [Note from Carrie: The evidence is the 14 people who witnessed it -- Kristina is jealous she missed it!]

Sunday - meeting Andy in Mystic: part one: unhappy worker goes back to orientation to make sure students fill out the CPI correctly.  This is a simple assessment tool for incoming students which consists of 100 questions.  Carrie's favorite story involves a student filling in the dots to 183 and then pretending she wasn't doing it.  Ah, higher ed.   Part two: we head down to Mystic CT to hang out with her pals Ned and Itzik.  Ned's family owns a house on Masons Island (which is part of Enders Island) and they rent it out to tourists so we went down to chill on the porch, gaze at the ocean, eat and help make beds for the first batch of tourists for the season.  Enders Island used to be owned by a Dr. Enders somebody and it now is a retreat run by the Catholic Church.  It has a beautiful chapel with really cool contemporary stained glass windows (done in an arts and crafts style to match he main house on the island and so you can see lots of ocean) and a mummified hand of St. Edmund, which looks nothing like this:

His hand & forearm have a faded red silk glove thing on it with fingers exposed and the ring finger has a loop of the glove around it.  My guess is so it doesn't fall off since there's no elbow to hold it on.  Its in a case with other religious artifacts - little medals and pins with pictures and jewels on them.  While we really went to see the arm, the island itself is very beautiful and it was a lovely walk to have before dinner and our partial viewing of the movie Seven which was not so lovely.  We missed the end because we had to eat dinner but no one seemed that disappointed once I told them what happened.

I do think though that one of the highlights of the trip was meeting Andy.  As we were walking to see St. Edmund's hand, Ned has us make a detour through some bushes in someone's yard (attached to a big fancy house of course).  In the bushes was a clearing and there laid Andy.  Don't be afraid, it wasn't a real person, although it did startle Carrie.  Andy is a concrete statue of a young man (naked!) that was made in 1963.  Ned talked about how the statue caught his eye when his parents bought their house; at that time, Andy was standing upright.  We then talked about how we would rescue Andy - he looked fairly heavy and that he may have broken his legs when he fell over.  If Ned gets the statue (he's going to contact the people in the big fancy house) then we'll let you know what happens to him.  We think he'll be moving to Jamaica Plain MA.  At that time, if appropriate, we'll send fotos.

Carrie also demonstrated her mad skillz as a saver when we went to BigY to buy TP for the Mystic house.  We needed to get a large amount since 10 ladies would be staying at the place in a week or so.  After roaming around the feminine hygiene and diaper aisle, we located the goods and kizang!  there was a sale going on if you had a BigY card.  So after minutes of debate, Carrie headed over to the customer service counter and signed up for a card.  Since they are excited to have new customers, she also received some gold and silver doubloons.  Apparently Itzik was pissed off the first time they went there as he thought they only gave change in doubloons.  We played with the coins, grabbed an 18 double-roll pkg of TP and then cashed out.  We were a bit miffed that we couldn't use the doubloons to pay as we were buying things that weren't on the magical pirate doubloon list but when we were leaving, I did note that we could have gotten a fee mylar baloon with one of our doubloons.  We saved $5.71 - Take that Extreme Couponing (and one new mama of twins in Cary NC).

We headed back yesterday with some fine boutique items we purchased in Mystic (including a birthday gift for a friend of KWs) and one gay man who endured the backseat of the Saab which blasts hot air instead of cool.  Carrie's planning to call Saab this week but isn't too concerned since she never rides back there or in the passenger seat.  Apparently the driver's seat has full AC.  Kristina is on her way back to ME to work on finalizing an article, mow the yard and pack for her return to beantown in two days as she flies out to Oahu on Friday at very early in the morning.  Carrie will be resting to prepare for taking KW to the airport at the "butt crack of dawn, when no human should be awake" (CC).  

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far, we're a bit concerned about your boredom level (jk!).

xoxox the employed WOA cc and unemployed WOA kw

go Bs!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

sister inspired movie

Another example of what happens when academics are on break and make phone calls:

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Don't mess with your eye, you can't get another one!"

This was the advice from KBW last night when I asked her whether or not it would be okay to put Vaseline on the corner of my eyelid since it was dry and hurting.  There were the reasons she cited for why it would be a bad idea:
1. it's a petroleum product (this worries her about many items regardless of whether or not I'm going to put them near my eye)
2. it's for external use only (although I know for a fact people put it on the inside of their noses)
3. it wasn't on a homepathic website as a solution
4. her eye doctor didn't recommend it - rather he said you should put warm compresses on your eyes in 5 minute intervals for 15 minutes
5. you don't want to mess with your eye, you can't get another one! (I must point out here that it does say on the jar of Vaseline that you can use it to remove eye make up)

So I tried the compresses -- after scalding my hand in the water -- KBW stressed that she said warm not hot water.  She asked if I felt better and I said that it hurt worse from pressing on my eyes and it makes all kinds of bright lights on your eyelids -- this freaked her out and she stressed that I was supposed to press gently and not try to get my eyes against the back of my head.

The result -- my eyelid is still dry and now it may very well be bruised from the compression.  KBW may be a PhD, but she's no eye doctor!

What do you think -- can you put Vaseline on the skin near your eye?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

So much for a quiet weekend....(notes added by kbw day after original post)

Kristina came to Boston this week for a little work assignment and stayed through the weekend for some retail therapy and a Wii Dance Off via Just Dance 2.

     FYI: Carie kicked my ass on the dance off.  Be happy you didn't have to witness this event, it wasn't pretty.

As we came home last night from our shopping adventure we heard dogs barking from the apartment across the hall. (two yip yip dogs) Since we haven't updated that situation in a while -- Bess moved out after getting in a fight with Muffy. Muffy appears to have a new room mate although she is rarely there.  Anyhow, since the barking was annoying I called the landlady and let her know that there were dogs over -- there's a policy in the lease that we are not allowed to have any pets. 

     I have to say that Carrie was quite determined.  She said "I am going to call the landlady right now" - went to a secret place, dug out the locked box of important items and before I could answer her question "is it too late to call" was dialing the number.  It was very impressive and yet seemed a bit out of character for my easy going mild mannered friend.

Two hours later the landlady called me back and said she called Muffy and there was no answer -- and that she left a message telling her to remove the dogs and would be over in the morning.

     Carrie corrected her and said "oh no, she's been there all night - I can hear her talking and laughing now."  The landlady said something to the effect of "really?  I knew she wasn't telling the truth - if she thinks she can play me...."

Muffy then went out for the evening, leaving the dogs to bark well past midnight when KBW and I put in our earplugs, retired for the evening and wondered what drama the morning might bring.

     Nothing like sleeping on a flip out futon with earplugs on a Saturday night.  For some weird reason I pictured Carrie and I in flannel, floor length nightgowns which buttoned up to our necks and had a ruffled collar.  We had on little lacy bonnets and if you looked closely, you could see little brightly colored ear plugs sticking out of our ears as we shuffled off to our respective beds.

At 8:45am there was a lot of knocking, doorbells ringing and dogs barking across the hall.  (Apparently I was exhausted and the ear plugs were working because I missed all of this).  When Muffy finally answered she was told to remove the dogs as they were not allowed.  (As Carrie told me, it was more like: Dogs are NOT allowed, you MUST removed them immediately as the older landlady kept yelling (with a Chinese accent) NO DOGS, NO DOGS!). She gave an award winning performance with tears and lots of drama about how the dogs were in town for a funeral (because we all know dogs regularly attend funerals) and they would be gone by the end of the day.  The landlady held firm and told her she was sorry but they had to be out and that the other tenants were complaining about the barking. (re: Carrie) In moving the dogs to her car, Muffy somehow let the dogs get loose and had to call and chase them about. (Oscar, OSCAR!! [screeching]) The landlady said she would be back to check later in the day. (Note lack of follow-through on the landlady's part here but dog toys and leash were tossed in the back hallway by Muffy as an indication of the dogs return back to where they belonged which took about 45 minutes so clearly they are Boston dogs).

Since then Muffy had been in and out of the apartment, slamming doors, yelling and carrying on, banging on the walls.  She left for a while, but is now back and up to the same antics.  Our favorite Muffy quotes in all of this are:

"This is why I didn't want to rent from someone who was Chinese, they have no respect for anyone."  [side note: I have one of the best landladys ever! who is very kind and respectful]

"My neighbor is such an a**hole!  I won't f@#*ing forget this!  EVER!"

Needless to say she's mad and I've taken pictures of my car while she was gone in case she decides to key it or something.  Welcome to Spring Break ....CRAZY!!

(I went back to Maine ASAP).

Monday, February 14, 2011

slightly less exciting than Cairo

Clearly Carrie and I have been lagging on our blog but incredible things have been happening to keep us WOA (women of action) occupied.  

1.  Being the very important WOA that Carrie is, she recently took a trip to hotlanta and SC to attend a conference and visit her cousins in SC.  Notice how happy they are to see her (well the kids were anyway - I hope this works, I lifted it from her FB page).....

She had a good time at the conference too - learned a lot, gave a kick-ass presentation about eportfolios to 70 or so people and was schmoozed by publishers.  Not bad for "First Year Lady".

2. I have been busy conducting a national study on Veterans for Peace which has so far resulted in over 400 surveys (10% of the paid membership) and 27 interviews with female members.  The interviews vary from 15 minutes to over two hours - some of these were conducted by my trusty student sidekicks Dovey and Nicole this summer but since fall I've been doing the interviews over the phone in my kitchen.  I have an inexpensive little headset that compels me to want to ask "do you want fries with that" which I have to refrain from saying or my participants will think I've lot my mind.  I have at least ten to twelve more people interested and will be happy if they actually follow through.  My next challenge is to figure out how to download the survey correctly so I don't lose all my data.
3. Carrie's reward for being my bff was to come up to Maine for the second time in two weeks to attend my first dance party of 2011.  Her first trip up at the end of January was for our friend Ruth Hill's concert - it was most excellent.  In addition to playing some new songs, Ruth had fiddler Ellie Buckland, bassist / guitarist Andy Buckland, vocalist Wendy Oakley and singer songwriter / guitarist / banjo player / mandolin player Jud Caswell performing with her.  She had about 170 people at the show here in Farmington - it was pretty awesome.

While Ruth was also one of the people who came to my dance party, there certainly were no where near 170 people at the event.  It was a smaller crowd than the last party of 2010 but all the cool kids were here and despite the mini-plague that was settling into my lungs, a good time was had by all.  You can tell my immune system had worn me down as I actually was ok with having my friend Kristen take a picture of me and my pal Tom (her hubbo also known as her baby daddy) dancing to a favorite 80s tune.

4. Of course Carrie's reward for coming to the dance party was to spend a couple hours helping to demolish Doug and Judy Rawlings sauna which burned after xmas and then she got to buy me cold medicine and 'bad for me' juices (hawaiian punch) to help me get better from the nasty cold / laryngitis I've been fighting for a week now.  Thus the blog - I've been housebound and mostly horizontal for two days now.  I am feeling better tho'. 

Certainly there are a lot of exciting things going on in the world - not just Obama's budget but all the stirrings in the Middle East and the resignation of both the leaders in Tunisia (I believe his title was President aka Dictator) and Egypt in fairly non-violent ways.  These protests are largely being organized by the youth in these countries which I think is quite powerful.  Hopefully all is well with you on this Feb. 14th - commercialism aside - keep loving people and maybe we can make some good changes in our country as well.  If all else fails, just throw a dance party it seems to make things better. - Kristina (and Carrie but she has no idea I've written this....).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the lucky seven

As with many of you, Carrie and I are hanging out at our respective homes enjoying a snow day.  I was actually going to go into work today for day two (out of four) of the academic suspension hearings and then Carrie said: "How can they ask you to come in during a storm when school is closed?  I wouldn't go in. That's not right."  So I followed her sage advice and stayed home.

Today's blog is going to focus on her adventures with her new neighbors and any other random things we come up with.  If you're lucky, we might say something clever.

Highlights of her new neighbors:

1.  Right now Carrie's town is under a winter storm warning; businesses and schools are closed and she just told me how her new neighbor "Muffy" just cleaned around her car - with a broom - and after getting stuck a few times drove away.  Apparently one of the neighbors was snow blowing and as he was putting his snow blower away, he looked at Muffy, shook his head and went inside.  She managed to leave and returned approximately seven minutes later.  Clearly she didn't know the entire city of Quincy was closed.  Muffy's roommate "Bess" is now cleaning off her car.

2.  One of the amazing things about Muffy and Bess is how loud Muffy is and Bess isn't.  Muffy is an interesting character.  For example one of the highlights of their moving in was drunk night where we could hear (I was visiting Carrie for New Year's) Bess mumble and Muffy talk about "I like Kevin but I don't love him and he's nice but I broke up with him and now I just don't know what to do and I'm really in love with (different name we couldn't hear) and miss him so much".  Later that night we heard "OH MY GOD I just farted!".  Of course we probably shouldn't be listening but its impossible not hear them and you know, we're sociologists, we watch and listen to people.

3.  Muffy has an interesting way with people.  One day she met the cable guy - who was so enraptured by her he not only gave her his phone number but also left his clipboard with important papers on it behind Carrie's car in her driveway.  When cable guy was leaving, we heard a lot of giggling and "Oh yes, I am definitely going to call you... thank you so much... you're really cute and I've been really sad lately so I'm going to call you."  I didn't realize that cable instillation came with a date.

4.  Apparently Muffy has religious super powers. Carrie found out why she was she was sad it was because a friend hers has cancer and she thought she was going to die.  Just a little reminder, this is all being heard clearly in Carrie's living room while Muffy is on the phone in her apartment across the hall.  Carrie and Muffy have never actually met.  Muffy was talking to someone and explained that her friend's cancer can be removed and that she felt that her friend was getting better all because of her.  She said that "she decided to pray for her friend.  She was lying in bed, looking at the ceiling and crying and kept looking at the ceiling."  She emphasized that "she doesn't normally keep her eyes open when praying, she usually keeps her eyes closed because that's how she was taught to pray.  But she was lying there with her eyes open and prayed Please God don't let her die.  You can't do this to me."  And lo and behold within a few days she got a phone call that said that her friend was going to be ok and it's all because of me, because I asked God".

5. Compare this to the fascinating things I've been hearing at the suspension hearings.  For example - "I didn't turn in my paper because on the day it was due the word processing program I was using ended because apparently it had only a three month trial period and the note I had of things that I had to do became corrupted on my computer so I couldn't open it and I didn't know what I had to do.  I realize that I'm a little disorganized so to get better I'm going to invest in a memory training kit and acquaint myself with getting a tutor and will meet with my professors about how I'm doing."  Of course he, like many other students we talked to, didn't realize that a lot of his problems could be solved by looking at this thing called a syllabus.

6. Cmte:  "what do you think is a good grade", multiple students:  "C or C-".

7. This is the worst one - picture a student with a blank face throughout this whole exchange: Cmte (to a third year student who has 40 something credits to go): "in order for you to earn a 2.0 overall GPA, you're going to have to take seven semesters of coursework with a 3.0 gpa each semester and you've never had a 3.0 gpa and you have to take 300 level and higher courses and have never gotten above a C- in any class over 200 level."  Student:  "I worked it out with my advisor that I only have to take six semesters of classes left to graduate."  Cmte:  "with the plan you have with your advisor you'd have to take eight semesters (four courses each semester) because you're retaking classes you didn't pass before and that still doesn't mean you'll earn a high enough gpa to have a 2.0 overall."  Student repeats what they just said.  Cmte: repeats what it just said (x a zillion times).  Eventually Mom pipes in:  "so you're saying hard work doesn't matter.  Why are we just finding this out now?  Why did you let this go so far?"  Cmte: "We had this same exact conversation a year ago with (insert name here) and there's been no improvement.  This is (insert name here) third time before the suspension committee and (insert name here) has been on probation most of their time at UMF and there's been no significant change in (insert name here) academics."  Needless to say, we upheld the suspension.

Clearly Carrie and I are living the dream.