Thursday, December 24, 2015

the orange room part 1

Matt and I moved into our house on December 5th, and because we are planners, we had a handwritten, detailed list of projects we wanted to complete, in order of priority.  And then on December 6th, I vacuumed the whole house and when I got to the spare bedroom with the old, orange shag carpet, I could not even bring myself to enter the room.

So I said to Matt, "You feel like pulling that rug up?"

He agreed and right then and there we veered from our carefully prepared list and ripped the rug right up.  When we were finished we looked at each other and Matt said, "Wow. I wasn't really ready to do that."

It was the right move though.  The carpet had been there for 48 years and I have to say it did not age well.

There were original hardwood floors hiding beneath the rug, so Matt and I began the tedious tasks of pulling the nails and staples out of the hardwoods.

After about ten minutes I transitioned myself to the role of supervisor and pointed out protruding nails and staples as I swept the floor and referred to us as Chip and Joanna.

I was really enjoying the position of job site supervisor and the power that came with it, and I said to Matt "Oh look, you missed a nail.  Right there under that bracket.  I'm just like Joanna now, casually throwing around technical hardware terms like bracket."

And Matt said, "Yeah.  Except that's not a bracket.  It's a door hinge."


The next night we went to Lowe's to buy some supplies for room, and when we got to the moulding aisle, Matt PULLED A TAPE MEASURE OFF OF HIS BELT.

I was so impressed that he thought to bring one, and also slightly intimidated, because my measuring habits would be put to the test since we were headed to the light bulb aisle next.  I needed a replacement bulb for my Scentsy, and I'd brought the old bulb with me so I'd know what wattage to buy.  However, I knew from online research that you couldn't buy an exact Scenty bulb replica in stores, and that I'd have to get a differently shaped bulb.  To make sure that I got a bulb that would fit in the Scentsy, I measured the warmer before we left.

And by "measured" I mean it was "from the base of my ring finger to the stripe of glitter in my nail polish" inches wide.

It might not be the most technical method, but it worked.

And I know Joanna would be proud.

Monday, December 14, 2015

tomorrow i hang the no solicitation sign

Well, something I wasn't prepared for with home ownership is door to door solicitation.

This morning a woman knocked on the door and gave an impassioned speech about the importance of conserving clean water and before I knew it I was signing my name on a petition that I'm not completely sure I agree with but what kind of barbarian says no to clean water?  Plus, it was raining and the woman was soaking wet and I felt bad for her.

Just as I handed the clipboard back to her she conveniently told me that "most of the neighbors are giving $25 today to cover them for the whole year."  I told her I didn't have any cash, which was true, but then she said she would take a check.  I told a little white lie and said my husband took the checkbook to work, but then she said if I had a smart phone and an internet connection she could show me how to do it online.

I could not stump her.

So I just told her I'd "put the check in the mail."

Later in the afternoon the doorbell rang again, and when I answered it the man standing there said, "Oh hi hun, can I talk to the homeowner?"

And I said, "Oh hi sir, I AM THE HOMEOWNER."

He seemed a little taken aback, but he introduced himself as Marvin, and apologized and told me I looked too young to own a home.

That might have been a sales tactic, but I still wasn't buying what Marvin was selling, which in actuality was an ADT home security system that miraculously went down in the monthly price every time he mentioned it.

"Twenty five dollars a month is a small price to pay for peace of mind!"

"When you come home at night and it's cold and windy and something in your house doesn't seem right, you'll be happy you signed up to pay twenty dollars a month for security!"

"If your husband has to go away overnight, you can both rest easy that you paid that ten dollars a month to keep you safe at home alone!"

I told Marvin I wanted to discuss it with Matt before I signed up for anything, and he said, "Okay.  But you're really going to have to sell him on it, because 99% of husbands say no."

You know what Matt doesn't say no to buying?

Tape measures.

It's a shame Marvin didn't have any of those to sell.

Friday, December 11, 2015

i've already picked paint colors

Well, as the old saying goes, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a split level in the suburbs and a thirty year mortgage.

That's right.

We're homeowners.

We officially settled on our house last Friday, and moved in on Saturday.  And by Sunday evening, the Christmas tree was up, the entire family room was decorated, and in a spontaneous act of renovation enthusiasm we pulled out an ugly orange shag rug in a spare bedroom at about 8:00 Sunday night.

We absolutely love the house, but it needs some updating.  The wall paper sampler below should give you an idea of the style.

We bought the house from an old man who had lived here since the house was built fifty five years ago.  When we were talking about putting in an offer, Matt and I did a little crackerjack detective work and and learned that the owner's son and daughter in law live next door, and his son was the realtor.  They were very easy to work with, and once we knew the house was ours, Matt and I drove by several times a week because we were so excited.

And also because it was during election season and Matt liked to check out what lawn signs the neighbors had displayed so he could try and gauge the political climate of the neighborhood.

One night as I drove by, the owner was walking out of the house with who I assume was his daughter.  He was walking with a cane and she was filling the trunk of the car with boxes.  And I'll admit that I teared up a little bit because there he was, leaving the house where he lived for fifty five years, brought his children home, raised his family, lost his wife, and grew old.

Fifty five Christmases.  Hundreds of birthdays.  Thousands of stories and decisions and memories.  And millions of the day to day things that make up a lifetime.

And Matt and I are moving in with years of life and a family and lots of Christmases still ahead of us.

At closing, when he slid us the keys, his son/our neighbor said to us, "Lots of life, love, and laughter in that house."

And then on Tuesday morning, the doorbell rang.  We had an appointment for someone to come and give us an estimate on cutting down a tree, so when I opened the door to see a man standing there with a giant wrapped gift I thought "THE LANDSCAPERS IN THIS TOWN ARE SO FRIENDLY. YOU HAVE MY BUSINESS SIR."

I stood there waiting for the main to give me the estimate on the tree, but he was just standing there like he was waiting for me to do something.  Finally he said, "Um, miss, I need you to sign for these flowers" and I realized he was holding out a clipboard, and that he was not in fact a tree trimmer, but a florist delivery man.

There were two beautiful poinsettias inside the package, and this card from the previous owner.

It's only been seven days so far, but there's been lots of happiness.

And lots of trips to Lowe's.

But let's focus on the happiness.

And the Christmas decorations.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

this week rocked

For the past month or so, I have been working from home four days a week.  I'm used to being in the office almost every day, so not only is being home lonely, but the work is....slow.

I thought being home would give me plenty of time to blog, but the problem is that there is nothing exciting happening in my life.  I'm not kidding.  When Matt came home one night last week, there was a FedEx slip on our building door saying that they tried to drop off a package but were unable to get a signature from the resident.

Well, I am here to tell you that they didn't try very hard because I was sitting here ALL DAY LONG and would've loved nothing more than to sign for a delivery.

I was already (still?) in my pajamas when Matt got home, but when he said he was going to drive over to FedEx to pick up the mysterious package, I flew off the couch and had my boots and coat on in record time.

I might have billed the errand as "an exciting adventure" as we headed out to the car together.  Good old Matt tried to play along and match my excitement.  I'd never been to the FedEx office, and as we turned off the main road, Matt said, "Okay, now this is where things get a little crazy."

Things didn't get crazy - we just drove down some windy roads in the rain to the distribution center, but it was still the highlight of my day.  I'd dreamed up all sorts of possibilities about what the package could be, including but not limited to a check for a significant sum of money, luxurious shoes I forgot I'd ordered, or early Christmas presents.  

Turns out it was Matt's diabetic insulin pump, which I guess is exciting in a necessary sort of way.

This past Monday I actually had some meetings scheduled, and I was looking forward to being out and about.  Unfortunately, as I pulled through the tollbooth and merged onto the turnpike, my car beeped and flashed the "low brake fluid" warning light.  I called Matt to see how dire the warning was, and he advised me to turn around and drive home.  "Chances are the sensor is malfunctioning or it's due to the cold weather, but you don't want to be driving with low brake fluid.  You should be fine to get home, but in case the brakes do go out, stay calm, shift into low gear, and pull slowly but firmly on the emergency brake."

Happy Monday.

I returned home with full brake capacity and a medium iced caramel coffee with cream because the Philadelphia Eagles won their game on Sunday which meant FREE DUNKIN DONUTS COFFEE and if I was going to lose brake functioning and get stranded on the side of the road, I would need coffee to keep me company.  

Matt did a full brake check when he got home.  The brake fluid reservoir was full, it didn't appear there was a leak, and the warning light didn't come on again so it appeared that all systems were go for future travel.    

Since I was working from home again on Tuesday, I decided to take Old Blue out for a few spins around the apartment complex parking lot to check the status of the brakes.

In the middle of my first lap, I heard an unusual clicking sound coming from one of the tires,  The frequency of the clicking increased as I increased my speed, so I decided to put my mechanical expertise to use and got out and investigated all four tires,  Eventually I located a giant rock lodged in the front passenger tire.  

Happy Tuesday.

I pulled the rock out because I live on the edge.  I then walked downstairs and looked at the tire every hour, drove a few quick errands yesterday, and drove to my rescheduled meetings today with no problem at all.

So the bottom line is that the rock did no permanent damage to the tire.

Which I know is the best outcome.  

But I was kind of hoping to take a trip to Pep Boys.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

i think the lab needs to take a page out of the post office's book

I had to get some blood work done last week, because WELCOME TO AGE 27.  I made a 9:15 appointment, and even arrived for my appointment with my kindle and my optimism ONE HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES EARLY.  I'm sorry to report that the whole saga took three hours.

The poor phlebotomist seemed very frazzled when she finally called me back at 10:35, and because I don't want someone who is about to poke me with a needle and draw blood to be in a bad mood, I expressed my sympathy at how busy she was.  She apologized profusely and explained that the corporate office has decided to have ONE PERSON working at a time in order to maximize efficiency.

Note to the corporate office: that is not in any way efficient.

I think before the execs made that decision, they should have had to sit for three hours in a small waiting room with seventeen people who haven't had anything to eat or drink in twelve hours.

As I sat in the waiting room reading my book, I drafted a blog post in my head about my predicament that started with "I think I've found the one place on earth more inefficient than my local branch of the United States Postal Service."

And then, since I am a glutton for punishment, I paid a visit to my local post office on Friday to mail a few letters because I am old fashioned and I also have a lot of time on my hands lately that I am using to pen correspondence like I'm Emily Dickinson or something.

Anyway, I walked into the post office and was immediately greeted by the friendliest postal worker I've ever met, and she handed me a water bottle and a soft pretzel in celebration of CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAY.

I could hardly believe my good luck.

I started to eat my soft pretzel right there in the (long, very long) line, and when she offered a pretzel to man behind me, he said, "No thank you, I just ate a sandwich."

"JUST ATE A SANDWICH?" she said.


She speaks the truth.

The soft pretzel was the kickoff to a delicious food weekend, and the next night Matt and I decided to order take out for dinner.  We both ordered cheese steaks and a side, or as I like to call them, accessories.  Because I am so health conscious, I selected a vegetable in the form of onion rings for my accessory, and Matt ordered loaded fries.

On the way to pick up dinner, I asked, "So, what exactly is on loaded fries?" and Matt said, with a smile and all of the enthusiasm in the world, "EVERYTHING IN THE BASEMENT!!"  

After a few clarifying questions, we determined that he meant, "everything but the kitchen sink."

I think he might need to spend some serious time reading my recent blog.

Maybe I'll make him an appointment for blood work.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

someone started celebrating halloween a day early

My mom and I went out on Friday afternoon and returned home to discover Rosie in the midst of an unauthorized candy binge.  It was hard to get mad at her because she looked so guilty, and also because I've been caught in the exact same situation.

I just can't resist a bag of sweet tarts and some Swedish Fish.

It must run in the family.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

the whole nature vs. nurture debate also annoyed me

Well, it's just another wild night around here.

And by wild I mean Matt and I just spent a considerable amount of time comparing our respective pronunciations of the word "Alabama."

I pronounce the third "a" as I would in flat or cat, but Matt pronounces it like spam or clam.  He tried to back up his argument for his pronunciation by saying that it's how Florida Georgia Line sings it in their songs, except he pronounced Florida as "Floor-i-duh" instead of "Flar-da" which is how I say it AND IT'S LIKE I DON'T EVEN KNOW HIM.

I think diction and pronunciation is endlessly fascinating.  In fact, my family has endured countless hours of listening to me pontificate on the belief that if we're going to pronounce train as "chrain," we either need to change the spelling or change the way we say it.

After Matt had burned out on the  topic, I broached the subject with Emily.  We discussed our pronunciations for bagel (beggle), syrup (seerup), and water (wooder).

And just when I thought we couldn't analyze those words any longer, Emily told me that when she uses the word water in a sentence, she says wooder.  But, when she says the word by itself, she says wah-ter.

She is so complex.

Speaking of being complex, or maybe the opposite, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts since I've been working from home so much.  I was in the market for some new ones, so this weekend I checked out the top rated podcasts of the week, and decided to subscribe to one called Limetown.

It.  Was.  Fascinating.

It's about the investigation surrounding three hundred people who disappeared ten years ago in Tennessee under very mysterious circumstances.  Since it was only ten years ago, I thought I'd be able to recall hearing about this case on the news, but I couldn't.  So yesterday I decided to do some serious Limetown research.

And right away, I found out why there was no news coverage.

Because it's fiction.

I'd been duped.

It reminded me of my freshman year of college when I had to take a psychology class.  As part of the class, we had to participate in three studies run by grad students.  I signed up for my first one, trekked all the way to the graduate studies building, signed in, and took a seat in the waiting room.

Another student who was waiting struck up a conversation, and we made small talk as we waited for our turn.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  I began to get frustrated because didn't they know my time was precious and I could be in my dorm painting my nails or taking a mid-afternoon siesta in the library studying?

When the grad student leading the study came out and called my name, I said goodbye to my waiting room friend and followed the grad student into the meeting room.

"Well, you can go!" he said.  "You're all done.  The student in the waiting room was part of the study.  We are observing how people react to strangers in various stressful situations."


I did what any angry eighteen year would do in that situation which was to march right out of that psych building and call my mother.  I was FURIOUS.  I felt betrayed.  I hated knowing that I was being judged on what I said and how I acted without being told ahead of time.

I bet that same grad student is the man behind the Limetown podcast.

And that's why I wasn't a psychology major.

But maybe I should've studied linguistics.

Monday, October 26, 2015

the week i joined the fixer upper bandwagon

I wasn't around much last week because I spent the week at my brother's babysitting my niece.
 I know what you're thinking.  It's a real shame that she isn't cute.

Annabelle and I spent five days together and I'm pretty sure this is how she felt about me leaving.

Since Annabelle is only three months old, she did a lot of sleeping, which means I did a lot of TV watching.  I got so caught up in a Fixer Upper binge that it almost made me want to go buy a house that needs a brand new kitchen and to be completely updated.

Oh wait.

I've done that.

I also watched countless episodes of The Pioneer Woman and it brought back memories of the days when Michelle and I discovered her show and watched it constantly.  At the time, we considered a microwaved Healthy Choice chicken margarita dinner to be the height of culinary sophistication, but the Pioneer Woman made cooking sound so easy and delicious, and really, what meal isn't delicious when there are multiple sticks of butter involved?

There was one occasion when Michelle got so caught up in a moment of culinary inspiration that she got up from the couch MID-EPISODE and went to the store to buy ingredients for a salsa recipe.  The recipe called for eight cloves of garlic, but Michelle used eight BULBS of garlic which significantly and unfortunately altered the taste.

It turns out that more butter is better, but not always more garlic.

Lesson learned.

I got home from my babysitting adventure on Friday afternoon and Matt had the day off since he had gone to our house inspection in the morning.  It was a beautiful day so we decided to head to the park for a walk.  And it was glorious, except for the part where Matt pointed out all the dead animals he saw.

My mom and I walk on the same trail pretty regularly and I've never noticed dead animals, but five minutes in and Matt spotted a dead mouse and feathers from a bird that he hypothesized was plucked out of the sky by a hawk.

I didn't know that hawks could grab hold of other birds while they were flying and Matt said, "Oh yeah.  One time I saw a hawk grab a blue jay with its talons."  

Just as I felt a tear in my eye thinking about the poor blue jay unable to escape such a terrible fate, Matt whispered, "It was pretty much the coolest thing ever."

Matt and his lack of sympathy for the animals at the bottom of the food chain was going pheasant hunting the next morning.  When we got home from our walk he started to get his gear together and the next thing I knew he appeared in the living room wearing an orange hat, orange vest, gloves, and his brush pants.

I thought he was so excited that he was going to sleep in his outfit, but it turns out he just wanted to make sure he had everything and that it all fit.

Basically he was a boy standing in front of a girl asking her if his brush pants looked okay.

They looked very rustic but unfortunately Matt didn't get any birds on his hunting trip.

If only he had a pet hawk.

Friday, October 23, 2015

it could be their way of saying happy friday

I received an email this morning from the management office of our apartment complex regarding the previously mentioned water situation in neighborhood.  While I was appreciative of the reminder so that I wouldn't make the mistake of drinking brown water again, what really made my day was the wording in the closing.

Behave.  Instead of behalf.

Maybe management is also trying to send us a reminder for the weekend.

Friday, October 16, 2015

home sweet old-fashioned home

Well, Matt and I found a house.

We made the offer last weekend and got the news on Wednesday night that as of December 4th, we will be homeowners.  I'm kind of shocked that we were able to decide on a house because we went to the grocery store last weekend and you should've seen us try to pick out a pineapple.

It took an embarrassingly long time to find one that looked perfect, and Matt, because he comes from a long line of men in the produce business, has some unusual rituals to determine whether or not fruit is ripe.

Let's just say I will never forget the first time I saw him enthusiastically slapping cantaloupes in the fruit aisle.

Due to the prickly nature of pineapples he smells them instead of slapping them (which I prefer), and his sniffer found a great one because we got home and raved for days about how it was THE BEST PINEAPPLE WE EVER TASTED.

Here's hoping we found the best house too.

Although there was no slapping or sniffing involved in that decision.

It does have one bedroom with orange shag carpet.  And there is so much wallpaper.  It is like stepping into a time capsule.

Pretty soon I will have to face the reality of packing up our apartment, and I predict that it will probably go the way packing always does for me.  I start out incredibly organized and by moving day I'm tossing completely unrelated items into the same box and then wondering why two weeks later I unpack a box containing snow boots, cinnamon scented decorative pine cones, and serving utensils.

We got the house news late on Wednesday night and then I couldn't fall asleep because all I could think about was Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter paint in the living room and dining room.  While I see gray as a calming neutral, Matt sees is as gloomy and suggested yellow for the main areas.

And I reacted with an impassioned speech about how I've been dreaming for a long, long time about how I want to decorate a house and I envision a house with COOL UNDERTONES NOT WARM UNDERTONES HOW DARE YOU EVEN SUGGEST SUCH A THING?

So bring on the paint chips.  And the rake for our shag carpet.

And the wine.

Monday, October 12, 2015

a story about water and unrelated photos

I found out in the middle of last week that I can't drive for work until the state budget is passed.  So, I have a lot of work from home days in my future.  Unfortunately, not only is there less for me to do at home than there is when I can go into the office, but I'm learning that being home all day by myself is not my favorite thing.  The FedEx man came Friday afternoon to deliver shoes I had ordered and I wanted to have a ten minute conversation with him because I HAD NOT SPOKEN ALL DAY.

So, after three days home last week, I woke up this morning ready to start my week at home on a positive note.  I filled up my water bottle, which happens to be black, with ice and water, and drank it as I ate my breakfast and checked my email.  And then I washed my hands in the white bathroom sink, and bubbling out of the faucet came disgusting brown water.

It was at that moment I remembered the flyer from our landlord telling us not to use the water this morning because they were doing pipe repairs.


And so I drove to my parents' house and drank clean, clear water to my heart's content.

And tomorrow morning I will pour my water into a clear glass.

Can't fool me twice.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

clever title here

It seems like everywhere I turn these days, people are talking about how much they love fall, and sharing pictures of colorful leaves and cozy sweaters and steaming coffee mugs with the Anne of Green Gables quote, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Well Anne, I have to disagree.  Admittedly, the weather this week hasn't been too bad, but after three straight days of cold rain, last Friday I looked at the attorney I share an office with and said, "Well, it's official.  I'm going to be in a bad mood until May."

On my way home from work I remembered that I didn't have a dinner plan, so I crossed my fingers that there was a frozen pizza in the freezer, or at least a few stray hot dogs in the back of the fridge.

When I got home, I immediately changed into my warmest clothes, and just as I was grumpily wrapping myself in a quilt, Matt walked in the door with two bags from the grocery store and told me not to come into the kitchen until dinner was finished.

Don't have to tell me twice.

And a little while later he served salmon with a honey dijon reduction, a salad, and fresh asparagus.  And then for dessert, homemade crab dip and Fritos.

Now that is my kind of dessert. I'm not a cake person, not even on my birthday.  Stick a candle in a bowl of Doritos and I'm a happy girl.

We did some (rainy) house hunting this weekend.  We still haven't picked one, but there are some prospects and I've been thinking about paint colors for weeks.  In fact, in a moment of unbridled home improvement enthusiasm tonight, I declared myself Captain of the Paint Patrol.

Listen.  No one was more shocked than I was when those words came out of my mouth.  I painted my bedroom a lovely shade of sea foam green when I was in ninth grade, but since then the only thing I've painted is my nails.

On a semi-weekly basis.

It's like I've been training for 13 years to paint a house.

On Monday I woke up to not only some sun, but also a notification from Facebook that Michelle and I had been Facebook friends for nine years.  

Nine years and just as humble as ever.  

My very first memory of Michelle is from freshman year of college.  I was in her dorm room and she was raving about this new calendar she got that was keeping her so organized and on track.  I was so inspired by her organizational breakthrough that I asked if I could see it.  She pulled it off the wall to show me, and there was only one thing written on that calendar, a standing appointment every Monday from 8-10.  It said, "The Bachelor."

Facebook put together a little collage of our friendship, and the pictures on my page were of both of us.  At my wedding.  Down the shore.  Riding posing on a bicycle built for two we found in the shed at Matt's family's beach house.

And then Michelle sent the pictures from her collage.  And aside from two pictures of our apartment, they are all pictures of me.  

Me at my wedding.  

Me holding Michelle's niece.  

Me putting the star on the Christmas tree.

It's like Michelle is my personal paparazzi.

I can only hope she's available when we buy a house to come and photograph me in my role as Captain of the Paint Patrol.  

I'll try to schedule the painting sessions around the Bachelor.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

call him special agent matt

Well, the rest of the Pope weekend was uneventful for those of us in the Philadelphia suburbs.  Saturday was the perfect fall day, so I went for a long walk, got a fancy coffee, wandered the thrift store, went to Trader Joe's and Target, and ended at Burlington Coat Factory in search of a new pair of jeans.

I've been hearing that boot cut jeans are back in style, which is something I've been waiting for since about 2002.  However, there have been a lot of styles I've totally bought into and then later regretted.  I'm looking at you bubble shirts and parachute pants.  So I decided to text my sister just to make sure boot cut jeans really and truly are popular again, because if there's one thing Emily knows how to do it's give an honest opinion.

So I sent her a text that said, "When I say boot cut jeans, you think ____."

Do you know what she said?


Thanks Em.

In the end she assured me they were in style again, so I bought a pair and I can't remember the last time I was so happy with a purchase.

Speaking of purchasing things, I wore my new jeans the next day as we went house hunting.  Matt and I have looked at houses with our realtor a few times now, and each time has been significantly better than the first when I cried before we even left our apartment because WHAT IF WE PICK THE WRONG HOUSE AND RUIN OUR LIVES AND OUR FUTURE AND THE FUTURES OF THE NEXT GENERATIONS?

And Matt said, "Laur, take a deep breath, we're not buying a house today."

He was right, and I haven't cried since.  I just bring my little list of very important priorities along (window over the kitchen sink, good view of the sunset, and a nice patio or deck) and throw out as many HGTV terms as I can.

We ultimately didn't end up finding a house this weekend.  Matt and I both worked from home on Monday, and I tried to look at some more online listings that morning, but my internet was acting funny.  And then I tried to print something for work and discovered my printer wasn't working either,

I was so happy my very own IT guy was sitting on the couch and could employ a method other than my tried and true strategy of unplugging the offending device three times and saying a Hail Mary.

"My printer isn't working," I told Matt, "Could you take a look at it?"

"Sure," Matt said, "Although it may just have something to do with our wireless profile.  I had to update some information."

Well yes, that would explain it.  Evidently the information that had to be updated was the name.  And it didn't occur to me that I should connect to the FBI surveillance van internet.

Our future neighbors are going to think we are nuts.

At least I'll look cute in my new jeans.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I can only hope they will permanently change the city's name

Well, hello.  I'm coming to you live from the Pope's home away from Rome.

I wish I could take credit for the catchy "home away from Rome" slogan but I have to give the credit to local government who has put it on their website and every billboard in the area.

However, I do have tons of other papal puns and no audience for them because I'm the only member of my family who stayed in the Pope's home away from Rome this weekend.  Work was closed for my parents and Matt on Friday, so they all fled to the Jersey shore to escape the projected chaos in Philadelphia, and I'm still here holding down the fort and watching my parents' dog and bird.

Just when you thought my life couldn't get more glamorous.

In the end, the projected chaos didn't come to pass.  I had a meeting scheduled for late Friday afternoon about 25 miles from here, and I considered just calling in because I was anticipating the highways to be a mess.

I was so wrong.  There was no one driving.  It was a (holy) ghost town.

Growing up, I went to Catholic elementary school.  We didn't have a cafeteria, so we ate at our desks, and moms would volunteer to watch us in our rooms during lunch.  When I was in second grade, we had a nun as our lunch monitor once a week.  Her name was Sister Madeline, and I have no idea how old she actually was, but to my seven year old self she seemed like she was at least a hundred and five.

She was a teeny tiny old lady with round glasses and white curly hair peeking out of her habit.

And she was strict.

Sister Madeline used to grade our journals while we ate, and I will never forget the time she called me over to her desk in the middle of lunch.  I was a big time rule follower in second grade, so I know I wasn't breaking any of Sister Madeline's major lunch-related rules like throwing out the crusts of my sandwich or eating my dessert first.

As my nerves and I approached her desk, I saw it.

My journal.  And a red pen.

"Laura," she said, "this sentence that you wrote says, 'Time to come in for dinner,' my mom yelled.'  Your mother doesn't yell.  She calls."


Sister Madeline was also big on manners, and might be part of the reason my New Year's resolution in my journal that year was to put my napkin on my lap.

I can remember her telling us that you should always use your best manners and keep things neat and tidy just in case the Pope comes to town.

"Don't chew with your mouth open, what if the Pope drops by?"  

"Throw away all your trash and make sure to wipe your desk off, what if the Pope comes to town?"

I don't know if Sister Madeline is still alive, because according to my calculations she would be about 132 years old by now, but I thought of her Friday as I drove to my meeting down a highway I've driven hundreds of times.  On Friday, for the first time ever, there was a crew of about 50 PennDOT workers picking up trash in the median.

"Wow" I thought, "Is the Pope coming to town or something?"

And I laughed and laughed because yes he is and those highway workers must have had Sister Madeline as their teacher too.

I'll just be over here with my napkin on my lap all weekend.

You never know when the Pope is going to drop in.