Nothing Pink Can Stay

I’m loving the exotic hair color, but what I’m not loving is how fast it fades. Three weeks in, and the bright pink made it to a salmon-ish color, thanks to the pink fading and revealing the orange undertones of my bleached hair. I used the second half of the tube of magenta and left it on for a good two hours, so I’m freshly fluorescent again. I’m thinking once this pink fades, I’ll make my way to purple, then from there to blue. I figure as my dark roots grow out, I’ll want a darker color on top so it isn’t that drastic of a difference.

Before and after:

Faded salmon, then bright pink again.

Faded salmon, then bright pink again.

This should get me through to Arizona; then I’ll go purple after we move.

Speaking of the move, we’re packing and cleaning a little bit every day. Sometimes, we have helpers.

Cats. In Boxes. Surprising!

Cats. In Boxes. Surprising!

We have everything booked, from cat airfares (they’ll ride in the cabin, under the seats in front of us, as our carry-ons) to the moving cube for our stuff, to moving dudes on both ends. I feel as ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.

We’ve culled a lot of stuff out — a lot of clothes and kitchen stuff went to Goodwill, and we donated lots of books to the library. I still kept tons, of course. Here’s a peek at the paperbacks I’ve kept. You can tell some of them are older and crustier than others.

Beat-up paperback books.

Beat-up paperback books.

Some of them, the pages aren’t even stuck to the spine anymore. And yet I can’t get rid of them! Though they are a challenge to read.

We had a credit left at a place up in Winter Park called The Wine Room — they have hundreds of wines in the Enomatic wine dispenser machines. So we cruised up there and had ourselves a few tastes, and found a couple of new wines we really liked.

Enomatic wine machines.

Enomatic wine machines.

Although some of the descriptions didn’t sound all that appetizing:

Wine flavored with asphalt?

Wine flavored with asphalt?

Somehow, “crushed rock, loamy earth, and asphalt” aren’t the flavors I’m usually looking for in a wine. We decided to pass on sampling this one. I like my wines mild, and a little sweet. Found a couple of Rieslings to get a full bottle of, once we’ve moved. (There are a lot of things that are being put on hold right now, and added to the “once we’ve moved” list. The less stuff I have to pack and have transported, the better.)

We cruised out to IKEA locally here, to decide which bed frame we want to get once we land in Arizona. It’s pretty much going to be [1] get the apartment keys; [2] set up the cats in a closed-off area with litter box, food, and water; and [3] go to IKEA to get a bed. We’re getting the Sultan Hanestad mattress, which is the newer version of our old Sultan Huglo which I love.

While we were there, I saw these light fixtures. Does anyone out there like them? They look kind of like wadded up tissues to me.

IKEA crumpled tissues lights.

IKEA crumpled tissues lights.

Eh, maybe if you had the right other decor in your house. Though I can’t imagine what that decor would be.

Last but not least, I finally found a place that serves gluten-free fish and chips. And it was right in my backyard the entire time! A place called Cookes of Dublin, in Downtown Disney, makes all of their fried stuff (fish, shrimp, onion rings, even mozzarella sticks) fresh to order, so you can get it in the gluten-free batter and fried up in a separate dedicated gluten-free fryer.

Gluten-free fish and chips.

Gluten-free fish and chips.

I haven’t had fish and chips in years. And it was great!! Plus, they mix a little bit of chopped parsley in with the gluten-free batter, so you always know for sure that you got the right stuff. We’ll probably have to stop by one more time before we leave the area, because who knows when we’ll find GF fried fish again?

So, that’s where we’re at. Busting ass and stressing out, but soon we’ll be rid of Florida for good, and launched on a new and exciting adventure!

The end of the mouse is in sight.

I’m at the two-weeks-left point of my job, and boy howdy am I ready to be done. I really like the job, don’t get me wrong, but I’m holding off on doing so many things right now. One thing I’ll say, I don’t know if I’ll ever find a cooler job — I’ve listened to so much music that I broke my headphones.

Thank goodness for duct tape.

Thank goodness for duct tape. No point in getting a new pair, since I’ll only be there a short while longer.

One of the things I’m holding off on is coloring my hair. Disney has a set of appearance guidelines called “The Disney Look,” and one of the points is to have hair in a “natural” shade. I miss the crazy colors I used to be able to do! So the day after I no longer work there, I’ll be bleaching, then coloring my hair with this stuff:

MAGENTA!

I’m most likely also going to give myself an undercut, because, why not?

We have our move date set; on September 9th, we’ll be flying ourselves and the cats out to Arizona. Where they apparently don’t have things like this in the grocery stores:

A Wal-Mart in Florida.

I’m looking forward to a time when I find this kind of thing weird and cool again, instead of just looking at it and thinking, Eh, that’s totally normal.

In other news, there are a couple of new bouncing baby books in the Meyer household! Scott’s fourth book, Master of Formalities, came out on July 7th (on Kindle; the paper version and audio book will be released on July 28th). It’s completely different from his other three books, and the quickie descriptions is “Downton Abbey set in the Dune universe.” I loved it, but then again, I’m probably a biased reader.

Scott's books: 4 so far!

You can check out Master of Formalities over at Amazon: USA, UK, Canada. You can also see all of his books at his Amazon author pages on the USA and UK sites. (His Magic 2.0 books are all on sale right now for $2.00 each on the Kindle, so there’s that, too!)

But wait, there’s more! I also had a book come out this month: Unsung Villains, which is the sequel to my first book, We Could Be Villains. Now I have a matched pair! I have some thoughts about the third in the series, but right now I’m thinking about writing something else before I move on to book 3. And of course, all writing is going to wait until after we’ve moved across the country.

Valentine & Hart, Books 1 & 2

Note: These copies are test proofs, so the actual covers aren’t as dark. Pertinent links: Unsung Villains is available on Kindle and paper at Amazon USA, UK, and Canada.

And to celebrate, right now (through July 21st), my first book, We Could Be Villains, is on sale for 99¢ in the US Kindle store, and 99p in the UK Kindle store.

I hope to get back to this blog and write a lot more, once I don’t have a day job anymore. After we move I’ll be putting myself through online school for graphic design, and I’ll probably have a lot of fun projects and things to share. Plus, I’ll have much more available time, since I won’t be away from home for 9 hours every day.

One last snappie before I sign off:

SO CLOSE.

SO. DARNED. CLOSE.

Photodump: 2015 so far, and things to come

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Sorry, any of those who are following the minutiae of my life! Things have been very busy of late, and they’re only going to get busier very soon.

Back in February, we took a trip out to Phoenix, Arizona. We went for a couple of reasons: first, all of my immediate family has migrated there from Seattle, so we were able to visit my parents, as well as my brother and his family.

tiki gods and lemons

My parents have a thriving lemon tree in their backyard, with a few friends keeping it company. The bulk of the landscaping is pale gravel, which I really dig. Lawns are not my thing.

The other reason we went there was to scope the place out. We’ve been here in Florida for over 8 years now, and it still doesn’t feel like home. We have no urge whatsoever to buy a house here and settle down. As soon as we went back west, where the time zones run later and the TV stations all start with the letter K, it felt right again. We went into a Safeway grocery store, and I almost cried with joy.

SO, we’re moving to Phoenix in September. We’ll be able to find a place to live starting about 60 days out, and are currently planning other aspects of the move. (Current plan: ABF U-Pack ReloCube for our stuff, transport company to take the Fiat over, and we’ll fly out nonstop with the cats.)

We’ve started into doing things here for the last time. Scott’s brother came out to visit this month, so we went on our last trip to the Universal parks.

really, Universal?

I went as ready as I thought I could be. They always make you put your purse in a locker, so I wore shorts with deep pockets, put my phone, wallet and keys in those, and even brought safety pins to pin my pockets closed to keep my stuff safe. And YET! Now on a few rides, Universal doesn’t allow you to take any of that stuff on the rides — you have to go through metal detectors, and if you’re carrying any personal belongings, you STILL have to go put them in a locker.

That trip to Universal also taught me that my equilibrium has become so bad with age, I can’t really do the big roller coasters anymore. I’ll stick with Disney-grade rides from now on. (And when we’re in Phoenix, we’ll be a 5-hour drive to Disneyland. Which thrills me more than I can say. It’s still a way better park than any of the ones we have here in Florida.)

Brother-in-law brought my birthday card, which had been mailed a month before, but met with some peril on the way:

birthday card

Ouch. The machine did a near-perfect job of tearing off the name and address, while leaving the envelope sealed. It’s impressive, in a way. Though it looks like someone gave it an F grade.

After Universal, we went to the Magic Kingdom with brother-in-law. Everything there was much more my speed. One nice thing about both Universal and Disney is that they have some decent gluten-free options in the restaurants. At Universal, many of their burgers can be put on a gluten-free bun (they still haven’t quite perfected the texture, but they do the job of holding the fillings in just fine). At Disney, I got the GF chicken strips, which are not only good, but I think they’re better than the regular ones.

Disney gluten-free chicken strips

Let’s see, what else is going on? I’m currently working on the 4th draft of my next book (beta reader feedback is coming in these days, and I’m making edits based on their comments/suggestions/critiques).

The cats are lovely, as always:

Cheddar and Trouble and a box

We have a large cardboard box in our living room, because Cheddar just adores it. Sometimes she’s inside it, but most of the time she lays on top of it. Trouble isn’t as thrilled with the box, but then again, she’s a crotchety old 17-year-old. She’s seen it all, man.

Oh, and we had a great celebrity encounter recently, when our friends Jen and John from Cake Wrecks took us along to see the Mythbusters Live show, where we also got a backstage meet-and-greet with Jamie and Adam.

Mythbusters!

The show was a fascinating thing: a weird hybrid of comedy, science demonstrations, Q&As, and more.

So that’s what’s going on these days! If you’re wondering what I’ll be doing for a job, after we move I’ll be taking a few months to do a few things: I’m going to put myself through an online certificate program for graphic design, since my knowledge is mostly self-taught and mostly at least 5 years old at this point. I’m going to get Scott’s social media sites whipped into shape (we could do so much more with his Facebook and Twitter accounts). And by that point, my 2nd book should be out, and I’ll be able to start on my 3rd. Which I believe will be in a different universe completely.

July: One Heck of a Month

I’m very, very glad to be on the backside of July. Because man, was that one packed month.

Most of the busy came from work. I’d been working at one specific desk in my department, booking one specific kind of talent and writing contracts for them. Now I’m at a different desk, writing contracts for a completely different kind of talent. Which you’d think would be similar, but they’re done in completely different ways, and it’s surprisingly hard to get your head working in a different direction.

(Could I use the word “different” more? Probably.)

At any rate, I wasn’t able to dedicate all of my time learning the new job, since I still had to do the old job, so for a couple of weeks I’d hop over to the new desk for an hour or two at a time every day, and learn a small portion of the job, and scribble down notes. And of course, in a 20-step process, that means learning step 17 one day, then moving on to step 8 the next day, then learning both step 4 and step 11 the next. It’s only now that I’ve been doing the job for a week that I’m seeing all of the steps in order, and things are clicking.

Add in that during this fortnight, while learning the new desk, the other person who did my old job (several of the desks have two people splitting the load) was on vacation. So I spent two weeks covering two desks while learning a third. Then after that, I got to spend a week training someone to do my old desk, while still popping over to the new desk and learning more little tidbits there.

Yeesh, I’m tired just writing about it. But I made it through. I’m slow now, because I’m going over everything a thousand times, and I’m consulting my notes on every step. Time will bring up my speed.

Things are good in the homestead. Scott went off to San Diego Comic-Con, and had an enjoyable time. I considered going, for a short while, but eventually realized that the very thought of it was making me panic. Too many people, too small a space, unknown city … I would have been a crazy panic panda the entire time. Once Scott got there, he confirmed that me staying home was the absolute right choice.

(We are planning on going on JoCo Cruise Crazy next February. It’s like a very small con, centered around people I like very much, and with your hotel room right there, instead of a crowded 30-minute bus ride away. Centered around a tropical cruise vacation where you don’t have to worry about finding a place to eat or a quiet corner, since it’s ALL places to eat and quiet corners. It seems like the perfect kind of con for me.)

The cats are doing well, and remain the most beautiful cats in the world. With the kissiest little faces. Look at Commie’s little face! I think I’m going to go give him a smooch right now.

I’ve acquired a Miracle Fruit plant, because I’m crazy that way. If you haven’t heard of Miracle Fruit, it’s a small berry that you crush in your mouth and swish around, and then for a couple of hours afterward, sour things taste sweet. You could eat a whole lemon, and it would taste like amazingly sweet lemon candy. There’s a chemical (called “miraculin,” hilariously enough) in it that alters the receptors on your tongue.

No berries yet on this plant, and I don’t know how long it’ll take before some arrive. It’s a slow-growing plant. But since the berries themselves cost from two to five dollars apiece online, I figured I’d just try to grow my own. (You can also get tablets made from the fruit, which are cheaper than the fruits themselves, but apparently don’t last anywhere near as long.)

Finally, we’ve finally become people who put little family decals on the car window. These are the Star Wars family car decals from ThinkGeek. Which are, sadly, out of stock right now. They came in a set of 50, so we have Jawas and Vaders and Lukes and such galore. What to use them on … hmmm. These particular choices are based on How to Decide Which Star Wars Character You Are Most Like, in which Rick imagines us as we really are.

Photodump: A Quite Busy October

It’s been a busy little month at the House of Meyer. We took our first ever cruise near the beginning of the month, which was awesome. But then we also had visitors come to us!

Scott’s mom and younger brother came to town for a few days, so we showed them a good time. That good time included visiting Disney parks:

I took this with a HDR camera app for my phone. The results aren’t as good as real HDR work, but it still comes out pretty cool. The colors seem more vivid, and everything is super-sharp.

I was also able to take the four of us on a surprise voyage — a fireworks-watching cruise out on the lake in front of the Magic Kingdom. I, a person who never wins anything, won it! It’s part of the “magic backstage” program, which provides nice little thank-yous for cast members. We set sail from the Contemporary Resort.

The weather was a bit drizzly, and there were a lot of pesky bugs down at the Contemporary marina, so the pool wasn’t being used by any people. Good thing, because a dozen or so ducks made it their home base.

We headed out on the water, and we were given drinks and snacks.

Neither Scott nor his Mickey-shaped “crispy cereal bar” are actually that creepy.

The fireworks show wasn’t the usual Wishes, but a special Halloween presentation. Awesome as always.

Our little boat had the soundtrack piped in. It was a load of fun!

At one point in our Disney-goings, we went to a cast-specific store. It used to be just merchandise, but now they have a section where you can shop from a limited selection of groceries. The prices were great! I just don’t need a restaurant-sized can of marinara sauce. But I did get some produce, because the Granny Smiths looked excellent.

And indeed they were. Fresh and tart, as opposed to a lot of the cold-storage stuff the groceries have at this time of year.

You know what else is delicious?

IKEA chocolate. I’ve never been much of a dark chocolate person (really, the bulk of my experience has been the miniature Hershey’s Special Dark bars that come in the Xmas assortment), but I’ve heard that it’s good for you, so I tried out IKEA’s Choklad Mörk. And it’s surprisingly tasty!

Also apparently delicious: grass.

I planted a little patch of grass for the cats to enjoy, since their main outdoorsy time is on our 2nd floor deck. So far Commie is still scared to come out on the deck, but shy Trouble loves it. And she loves to eat her greens. It’s surprising how fast this Bermuda grass grows.

My lemon trees are doing well as well. The Eureka still hasn’t bloomed, but the Meyer went through a lovely bloom (and those flowers smelled fantastic). I’ve been warned to not expect lemons right off the bat, but it sure looks like I have almost a dozen little guys growing. They’re tiny so far, but making nice progress.

They’re just adorable!

Now that I’ve sidetracked like crazy, back to the visiting Meyers. We also went to Sea World! It was my first time, but everyone else had already been a couple of years ago. Still, we three young’uns got to ride Manta for the first time together.

I really loved that coaster. You kind of dangle downward on your belly, so there’s none of that bashing and smashing of my head like I get from a lot of looping coasters. Compared to Manta, the old Kraken coaster was painful and kind of boring.

Had a surprisingly good gluten-free meal (roasted chicken) there, and I was also impressed at the upkeep of the park. Everything was neatly maintained, freshly painted, and very clean. I went in with Unversal-level expectations, so Sea World kind of blew me away.

Except the penguin exhibit was kind of eerie. They just stood around in groups, staring at each other. (This is another picture from the HDR app.)

All in all, it’s been a great fun month!

I’ll leave you with this warning sign that appeared one day at a busy intersection in our neigborhood. Simple, but a message that motorcyclists would love more drivers to keep in mind.

Bahamas Cruise!

We just took our first ever cruise.

And it was awesome!

I put 84 pictures up on the Flickr, which is a few too many to put in a blog post. But let it be said, I ate a lot of:

And we did a lot of:

And even partook of some:

And it was totally and completely:

I stayed gluten-free the entire time, and despite stuffing my face with all sorts of deliciousness (and ice cream after almost every meal), I gained less than half a pound. It was only a 4-day cruise, and here it is the next day and I still feel like the world is gently rolling. Hey, vertigo! Cut that crap out! At least while on the boat itself, I didn’t have any problems with motion sickness.

Here’s a link to the Flickr gallery — most pictures by me, but a few by Scott and some by my dad. (You’ll see him and my mom in a few shots, but my mom hates her picture, so I went easy on her.)

Even though our last day’s excursion to Norwegian’s private island was cancelled due to heavy wind and waves, we still had a great time. I read three books, and got some much-needed relaxation done. And now that we know we can handle cruising and we like it, we’ll be keeping our eye out for future voyages. We’re also thinking about JoCo Cruise Crazy in 2013.

Long Time No Blog!

I see I’ve been remiss on blogging lately. But I’ve had a really good reason: we moved.

Yes, we just moved back in January. But here’s the thing — in mid-July, we got new neighbors downstairs. Those new neighbors had a loud party with massively bass-heavy music on their very first night. They then proceeded to play music that would make our walls and floor vibrate on a regular basis, often after midnight. The apartment complex encouraged us to call the police, which we did. Repeatedly. The apartment office sent them a series of letters, each more strongly-worded than the first, but the music continued. We were also treated to the occasional screaming fight — the one at 4am merited a call to 911, not the non-emergency number we’d used for the noise complaints.

The apartment complex is in the process of evicting these neighbors. But they warned us that the eviction process is a long one, and it might take months to work its way through the legal system. Seems like in an eviction, the people being evicted have more rights than anyone else involved. And as soon as that process started, the music was turned up to 11 on a nightly basis.

We asked about moving to another apartment, because we like the location, we like the apartments, and we like the management company. They had a “carriage house” apartment available and gave it to us at our current rent, even though it rents for a higher rate. The carriage house units sit above a garage, with no third floor above, and no shared walls with any other units. They also waived the transfer fees and deposit, and gave us a generous two weeks to move everything. So yes, it was a pain to pack up and move, but we’re now in a place with no neighbors above, below, or to the sides. It’s SO MUCH more quiet.

This new apartment has a very similar floor plan to the old one, but it’s not exactly the same. I have a little less kitchen space, but it’ll still be great. The carpets are new, and not the off-white of the old place — these are a really nice brown, kind of in a Commie-ish color pallette:

We got cat food in a color scheme that matches the carpets. That, combined with using our Bissell Little Green cleaner, is keeping our floors free of barf stains so far.

As you can see, we’re also getting more sunlight than before. The windows and deck of this unit face west, as opposed to the north-facing unit before. Since we get some hours of sunlight on the deck, I’ve acquired some new plants.

In the box planter, I have a jalapeno plant and a strawberry plant. I’ve grown peppers successfully before (in Seattle even), and that baby is already starting to put out some flowers. The strawberry is an experiment, since the only other time I’ve tried strawberries, Trouble ate all the leaves immediately and the plant died. This one is well out of her reach.

I also got the plant I’ve always wanted: LEMON!

In fact, I got two lemon trees. The far one is a Meyer lemon, which was the obvious choice. It’s a dwarf variety of lemon tree, well suited to growing in pots. The nearer one is a Eureka lemon, also a dwarf variety. Not only is it a much sexier plant (the Meyer lemon tree is a twisty, awkward thing), but apparently having more than one variety of lemon tree makes both produce more fruit.

After a little more than a week, the Meyer is already starting to bud. I’m guessing I’ll have blossoms in another week or so. I totally don’t expect to get actual lemons this season, but you never know.

We’re mostly settled in to the new place — only a few more things to hang on the walls, a couple of boxes left to unpack, and some light rearranging. My desk is now close to the couch in a way that makes it easy to get onto, which means I sometimes have company at the computer:

Commie’s eye is doing great, by the way. It’s occasionally a little winky and full of tears, but most days it’s delightfully normal.

We’re sleeping like the dead, which is awesome. This is the kind of apartment we could stay in for years. And hopefully that’s the case, because I don’t want to go through moving again for a long, long time.

Daytona Beeyotch

We took a wee road trip today. Recently we finished off our ginormous bottle of Red Robin’s seasoned salt, so I proposed a lunch voyage to RR. Not only is it a source of seasoning, but it’s also a chance to have a tastes-like-home meal. Since Red Robin is from Seattle. I also feel homey in Costco. But strangely, I don’t head off to Nordstrom that frequently. Hmm.

There are now six Red Robin locations in Florida. But the closest one to Orlando is around 55 miles away, in Port Orange, which is on the east coast out by Daytona Beach. So off we went.

There’s a new restaurant going in just down the way from Red Robin. At least I’m guessing it’ll be a restaurant. Bottom line, I think “sauce box” is our new insult.

I had the regular old Red Robin classic cheeseburger, with cheddar. And wrapped in lettuce leaves instead of a bun. I don’t know what it is about Red Robin, but there’s a very distinctive flavor to their burgers. You know you’re eating an RR burger when you’re eating an RR burger.

The lettuce wasn’t so much wrapped around the burger, as it was on top and bottom like a bun. Each side was 4 or 5 leaves of iceberg, which was a bit much lettuce. I stripped a leaf or two off each side, which made it easier to bite through. The last quarter or so of the burger, it was so messy and falling apart that I had to go in with the knife and fork. I have to say, I think Fuddrucker’s may win for presentation by just putting the patty on a plate.

The steak fries were fantastic, as always.

After lunch, we headed over to Daytona Beach. We’d never seen it, and since we were right there, why not? We took the main exit off the freeway, which put us on International Speedway Drive. We got to pass by the ginormous racetrack, which was busy as heck because of the “Gatorade Duel”, whatever that is. Anyhoo, it was cool to hear the sounds of the cars as we passed by, and we got to see a few really bitchin’ mullets.

We drove down International Speedway Drive until it ended at the beach.

Daytona Beach is, apparently, the world’s most famous beach. Is it? According to whom? What about Waikiki? Or Malibu? The sign didn’t give a source for the claim.

It’s a really unique beach, in that it’s incredibly easy to walk on. You can see the high tide line, and from the water to that line, the sand is packed hard and flat. You can stroll all the way down to the surf and not get any sand in your sandals! Of course, we had to check out the water temperature. The verdict: flippin’ cold!

Lots of seagulls everywhere, primarily hanging out in packs down near the waterline.

Lots of dead jellyfish everywhere, with all of their (arms? tendrils? stinging-bits?) broken off.

And lots of love for Beap.

Moving Weekend

What a way to start 2011 — moving the house. Or, well, the apartment. At any rate, we moved all of our stuff from one off-white box to another off-white box.

Our reasons for moving were manyfold, but the primary one was the fact that we were paying too much at the old apartment. The market is soft here in Orlando, and everyone everywhere was lowering their prices. Our complex, however, offered to generously keep our too-(damn)high rent the same for another year, so we generously decided to move elsewhere.

Here’s the new living room, pre-move. We hit IKEA first and got a new couch, since our old one was old and hurtin’. Guess that’s what you get for buying a $180 loveseat. Although we loved that loveseat, so we just replaced it with a fresh $180 loveseat. For the record, it’s the Klippan with a discontinued zebra-print cover. I’m glad we bought an extra cover when they were closing them out, because it’s all solids and one weird cross-stitchy pattern right now.

We moved a ton of stuff on Thursday, with help from our fantastic friend John. Between him and Scott, it was like having two powerful gorillas hauling most of our stuff. Of course, I mean “gorilla” in the nicest possible way. We’ve been really gung-ho about throwing out or Goodwill-donating as much as we possibly can, because we’re total packrats who live in a thrift store in a Russian submarine. We left even more stuff at the old place, which will be sorted through during next weekend’s cleaningfest.

The last step was bringing the cats. They mewed pitifully all the way, then found a dark place to hide immediately. I anticipated their yearning for a dark place, so I cracked open the door of the linen closet for them. The first night, they were pretty disruptive, what with the meowing and scratching at boxes and constantly hopping up and down on the bed, but last night they settled in pretty well.

Most of the living room is now set up, as well as our desks. IKEA again, here’s my Expedit desk. I’ll fill the cubbyholes with books and such as we unpack them, but I’m guessing someone will insist that I leave one cubby open for her. And yes, that’s a screenshot of Bioshock as my desktop background. Bloody splicers.

I’m still going strong with gluten free January, and even though we ate out for several meals, there was always a great option. Here’s what I had at the always-tasty Fuddrucker’s. The lettuce is hiding the truly embarassing number of pickles I piled on the plate. They have some really good pickles.

Our moving-mate John introduced us to a new place, Greens & Grille, and I’m seriously sorry that you probably don’t have one in your neighborhood. It’s like a salad place meets a Mongolian grill — you pick what salad veggies you want, from carrots to artichoke hearts and anything in between. Then they toss it, grill up some fresh meat of your choosing, and it’s totes delicious.

We’re headed back to work today, after a 3-day break, so it’ll be interesting figuring out our new routes to and from Disney. Already it looks like I have three exits to choose from when coming home, so there will be some experimenting.

A Sign from Above. 5 Feet Above.

It’s been an eventful December.

We’re packing to move house these days. We’re just going about 10 miles away from where we are now, and we’ll be paying less money for a little larger space. Win/win.

We’ve known that we would be moving with the expiration of our current lease, but it’s as if our apartment is telling us over and over again to get out. First it was the new neighbors across the hall, who moved in a few months ago and haven’t learned that you don’t need to slam the door every time. They also like to prop their front door open and have loud conversations. Then last month the apartment next door, which we thought was vacant but was actually being paid for but left unoccupied, finally got an occupant. He likes loud music, thumping on the walls, and jogging. Which involves grunting stretches outside his door. Lots of grunting stretches.

Then there’s been the December FireAlarmPalooza. Last week, just as we were going to take a load of stuff off to the thrift store, the fire alarm went off. We dilly-dallied in gathering ourselves together, because it’s never an actual fire. Except this time … it was an actual fire. Two apartments below, the occupants had some sort of kitchen grease fire, with billowing grey smoke pouring out their door. Fortunately, the sprinklers didn’t get triggered in our apartment. And it was kind of entertaining watching this really doddering old lady who also lives on the 1st floor asking everyone what was going on.

Then last night, the fire alarm went off again. No smoke from anywhere, just the shrilling (which got us out of bed). The same doddering old lady came out of her apartment on the phone to 911, shouting that the alarm was going off in her apartment, and she hadn’t done anything! Why was this happening? She didn’t touch anything!

The dozen-plus of us from this building stood around in the parking lot, waiting. Our roaming security guy came over, and the old lady dragged him down the hall into her apartment. Because the alarm was going off in there, and she didn’t touch anything! She came back out to the parking lot while the guy looked around to see if any of the alarm boxes had been pulled. She then looked out at all of us and said, “The alarm is going off in MY apartment! I didn’t do anything!”

I couldn’t take it any more. “It’s going off in ALL of our apartments.”

“Really?” She asked.

“Yes. That’s why we’re ALL STANDING OUT HERE, ma’am.”

“Oh!” She gasped.

I think I blew her mind with that one. And I honestly don’t think she realized that the entire building’s alarms were going off. I wonder why she thought we were all standing out there.

In other news, for those who want an update about Commie, his eye looks a little worse every day. The mass keeps growing, and you can’t see his eye in there anymore. But he still seems happy, purring and cuddling and eating and pooping and having little smackfights with Trouble, so that’s good. He sleeps a little more than usual, but that’s the only real sign (other than the eye) that anything’s wrong.

He’s also helping immensely with packing, by placing himself in, on, and around boxes as much as possible. He’s a huge fan of the lids to these office document boxes, the corner of one which you can barely see under his loafy form. He’s a good, good boy, and we tell him so many times a day.