Sunday, April 30, 2017

the only scales i like are the scales of justice

Back in March I got something in the mail I'd been waiting for my entire life.

A summons for jury duty.

I know most people dread jury duty, but between working in the legal field and watching an impressive (or embarrassing) amount of Nancy Grace during my college years, I always thought jury duty would be the ideal experience.

(Except me.)

So last Monday I drove to the courthouse bright and early, went through security, and was shuffled into the jury marshaling room with 74 of my fellow citizens, not one of whom looked happy to be spending their Monday morning in the basement of the courthouse in a state of indefinite limbo.

After we were given the rules and info on when we could expect our whopping nine dollar check in the mail, we watched a short movie about general courtroom information and the constitutional right to due process.  As the credits rolled, the man sitting on my right leaned over and said to me, "I mean, aren't they all guilty?  Would we even be here if they weren't?"

I guess he missed the segment on innocent until proven guilty, and also that there was a 50/50 shot we would be assigned to a civil case.

The man on my left decided to take that opportunity to lighten the mood and started telling jokes.  First up was, "So, someone asked Santa why he always lets Donner and Blitzen stop for coffee. And Santa said, 'Because they're my star bucks!"

I laughed politely and that apparently encouraged him to continue on with the coffee theme.  Next joke in the repertoire was "I stopped for breakfast on my way here this morning, and I told the waitress that my coffee tasted like dirt! She told me of course it does!  It was ground this morning!"

Can someone put this guy on trial for corny jokes?

Speaking of corn, at that moment, they turned on the Food Network and I was saved by The Pioneer Woman.  In no time flat I was making a mental grocery list including but not limited to butter, heavy cream, cocoa, and the ingredients for fried chicken.

Just as Ree began to make some sort of fruit parfait with homemade whipped cream, the woman in charge called us all to attention.  She told us that our services wouldn't be needed, because the defendant had entered a guilty plea.  But, she said, if the trial had gone forward, we would have been there for seven days to deliberate on murder charges.

It took everything in my not to say, "Well, it sounds like we dodged a bullet," because it seemed like an inappropriate time to make a pun and I didn't know my audience.

Although I bet the guy on my left would have laughed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

did we accidentally drive all the way to texas?

Another week, another work trip, except this one is in the southwestern part of the state.  I drove out here with three colleagues, and as we passed mile after mile after mile of farms and barns and rolling green hills, one of them remarked, "James Carville was right when he said Pennsylvania is Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Alabama in between."

Or, as some other people call it, Pennsyltucky.

And then, we rounded the bend of a small, curvy country road and up ahead was a field filled with something I'd never seen before.

The elusive Pennsylvania longhorn.

We pulled over so we could take pictures, and as we all pulled out our phones, I'm pretty sure I saw the cows roll their eyes at us.

But Toto, we aren't in suburban Philadelphia anymore.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

maybe our neighbors also went to the shawnee trading post

Every summer growing up, we would spend two weeks at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland.  It was the highlight of the summer.  Our vacation always included a trip to the Shawnee Trading Post, a place where you can buy everything from a two ton mahogany elephant to a six foot tall metal alien.  Do yourself a favor and click on this link and take a look around.  You won't be sorry.

I looked through some old photos tonight to see if I could find any I'd taken at the Shawnee Trading Post, and I found two.  This one, of countless garden statues:

And this one, of Emily, a family friend, and an enormous lobster.

Anyway, after one our annual visits to the Shawnee Trading Post, my mom and I came up with an (incredibly ridiculous) idea to get a dinosaur statue and keep him in the front yard and name him Christopher.  We told the rest of the family we'd dress him for holidays and special events and thought we were hilarious as we talked about putting him in a Santa hat and bunny ears and a Penn State jersey on game day.

I remember that the discussion occurred on the patio of a lake house called Island View, and I remember that my dad laughed with us, my brother laughed at us, and my sister was completely unamused by the whole ridiculous conversation.

In fact, this photo was taken on that very patio and I do believe it might have been the same night because that is how I remember Emily's facial expression as she listened to us.

The thing about Emily is, she never, ever shows her emotion.  As you can see, it's completely impossible to tell what she's thinking in photos.

Take this one, probably from the same vacation.  I can't tell, but I bet she's thinking "I just love nature and all of this family time!  I hope this hike lasts forever!"

While I was looking through pics I came across one of my most memorable vacation photos.  One year Emily and I played "lady in waiting," and the first week she was royalty and I was her servant/lady in waiting, and the next week we switched.  We LOVED that game, and one night we all made royal capes out of beach towels and took a family photo.  Emily had this photo hanging in her bedroom when we got home, until one day she got mad at me and crossed me out of the family with a giant green X.

I wonder if that's ever happened to Kate Middleton.

Anyway, I was taking a walk last week and watched a woman around the corner take a mannequin out of her car and stand it up by the lamp post at the end of her driveway.  I figured she was just unloading it and the lamp post was a temporary location, but then a few nights later, the mannequin was still there.  And this time, wearing a dress and standing beside a small red stool.

I walked by earlier this week, and the mannequin, the dress, and the stool are all still residing on the front lawn.

I have so many questions about this.

Not the least of which is, does she know Christopher?

Monday, April 17, 2017

glad you're here, spring

Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again every April for the rest of my life.  I swear the grass has never been this green, the flowers have never been so bright, the sunsets have never been this vibrant, and the birds have never sung so beautifully.

Last night I told Matt I was going to sleep in the hammock, and were it not for the red flashing lights he installed around our yard to mimic the red eyes of a predator and scare the deer away from our garden, while simultaneously cementing our position as best neighbors on the block, I would have.



Thursday, April 13, 2017

an Easter ham(mock)

On Sunday, I made my final student loan payment.


And on Monday, I quit my job.


But wait until you hear what we did do on Monday.  For a long time we've had our eye on something, and finally decided to pull the trigger (or press the 'buy now' button) on the item this week after the last loan was paid off.  

The item?  A hammock.  I know, so fancy.

I had dreams of lying out in the yard on a warm afternoon with a book and a glass of iced tea and eating a tomato picked right off the vine, still warm from the sun, swinging away in my hammock.

We've actually discussed the hammock purchase since last summer, and at first we thought maybe we would put two concrete posts in the yard to hang the hammock from, since we don't have any conveniently spaced trees.  I can't tell you how many evenings Matt and I wandered around the backyard while he said, "So, where do you want me to put you?  I could you put you over there by the raspberry bushes so you can get some sun.  Or if you want part shade I'll put you over by the bird feeder."  I don't know why but that always cracked me up.

Anyway, the following morning I still riding high on the loan payoff and decided to treat myself to a celebratory Starbucks like I was a Rockefeller or something.  While I was in line, Matt texted me that the hammock had been delivered.

I was working from home, so I my iced cinnamon almondmilk macchiato and I drove home excitedly to see the hammock.  But, it wasn't there.  A search of the tracking number showed that it had been delivered and placed under the mailbox, but the only thing I could see under the mailbox was a hydrangea that I'm hoping will come back to life this year with a little hope and a lot of Miracle Gro.

I ended up calling the good old United States Postal Service, only to feel like I was about to incur more student debt because you practically need a Ph.D. to figure out how to speak to an actual person.

Finally, I just kept yelling "AGENT! AGENT! AGENT!" to all of the voice prompts until I got a human.  The woman I spoke with said, "Hmm.  I hope this is all just a big mistake.  But you should know that sometimes the postal carrier marks the item delivered before it is actually delivered."

Well, that makes complete sense.

She gave me an incident number and told me to call back in three days if the hammock hadn't shown up, so that was 43 minutes well spent.

Lo and behold, around 3:00, the hammock arrived.


I hoped for the best and summoned all my herculean strength and took that bad boy out to the yard and put it together.  I only got about 90% finished because I could not get the rope to stretch to the other side.

Matt stretched it when he got home, and I set to work tying on the cushion and pillow.

And then the tie for the pillow came right off.


Finally we got it all set up and I went for an inaugural swing.  Despite the rocky start, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

i wrote this whole post while on hold with the USPS

I have a lot of vacation time I have to use up by the end of June, so I took Friday off and went to visit my niece.  I picked her up from daycare before lunch and we spent the rest of the day together.  I know I’m biased but she is the cutest thing ever.  She talks a little bit, but what I really wish she could tell me is how she gets so much volume in her hair.

We did a LOT of reading, and I love this picture because the book is as big as she is and she’s holding it up with her feet.

One of my good friends got married on Saturday and the ceremony wasn’t until 5:30.  When we got the invitation I said, “Awesome, a 5:30 wedding means we can still be super productive and get a lot done that day before we have to leave.”

Do you know what I did before the wedding?

Laid around, read my book, laid around, painted my nails, laid around. 

So it wasn’t exactly productive, but it was relaxing.

The wedding was a blast.  We had a fun table and the food was amazing.  The bride is one of the most genuine, kind people I’ve ever known, and the groom is hilarious, and everyone was just so happy for them. 
All of my wedding dreams came true (aside from marrying Matt, obviously) when halfway through the night, the DJ said, “I didn’t know this until I walked around and his buddies told me, but the groom is a closet Meatloaf fan!” and then proceeded to play a Meatloaf medley.


The icing on the cake was when we were driving home and the radio DJ said “stay tuned, we will be giving away Zac Brown Band tickets in the upcoming future.”

The upcoming future.  

As opposed to what?  The past future?

It sounds something the Department of Redundancy Department would say, and it cracked me up.  If I ever start a band, I'm going to name it The Upcoming Future.

I felt like Cinderella because before the clock struck midnight I’d traded my fancy dress and makeup and pearls for sweatpants and my nighttime mouth guard and I woke up on Sunday morning with a slightly swollen and infected eye.

My eye has improved slightly, but I'm hoping it's completely healed sometime in the upcoming future.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

tomorrow, matt gets tasered voluntarily

I thought I'd give an update on our last few sessions of Citizen's Police Academy, now that we are halfway through.  I'll start with this.  At the end of the last class, the officer said, "Next week we're going to learn about tasers.  Anyone willing to volunteer to be tasered?  How about you, Matt?"

And Matt said, "Yea, sure, I'll do it."  

I whispered to him, "Are you crazy? Why would you want to be tasered?" and he said, "Think about it.  What other time in your life will you ever be shot with a taser?"

Well, my goal is hopefully never.

The topic last week was use of force, and our speaker was an officer who was shot in the line of duty in 2008 trying to protect a family during a domestic dispute.  He recovered from his injury, still works for our police department, and was promoted to detective a few years later, but the incident still affects him.  He shared the circumstances of that night and then played the dispatch recording, and his fellow officers suddenly shouting "Shots fired! Shots fired! Officer shot! Officer down! We need an ambulance!"  To listen to that recording while the officer who was shot was standing in front of all us still wearing that badge was sobering.

Two weeks ago, the class focused on the K-9 units.

 There are five K-9 units in the department, but the pair that came to class was the first female officer and first female canine.  Learning about the training and what it takes to become a K-9 unit was fascinating.  The dog was imported from the Netherlands as a puppy, has been by her handler's side every minute of every day since, runs 30 miles per hour, can locate the scent of 19 different drugs, explosive material, and just that week she had been taken out to a bank robbery and located a pair of headphones that the suspect had thrown a few blocks away from the bank.

We got to see exactly how strong the dog was when another officer came out wearing a thick sleeve on his arm and canine handler sent the dog after him.

She locked her jaw on his arm and did not let go, until her officer yelled BREAK.  As soon as she said it, the dog immediately released his arm and ran right back to her.  I spent the rest of the night wondering why any criminal would continue to put up a fight after hearing an officer say, "I'm sending in my dog!"

And then, star student Matt was selected to play tug of war with the dog.  He said that even on the tile floor, where she had no grip and was sliding around, she was incredibly strong.

The week before that was traffic safety which I found to be kind of a snoozer but Matt loved.  I was not at all surprised because as he drives around town he gives out hypothetical moving violations to fellow motorists.

"That Camry didn't signal their lane change."

"Not supposed to turn left across a double yellow, sir."

"Wipers on? Lights on."

What I did find incredibly terrifying was the number of trucks and tractor trailers JUST IN OUR TOWN that are taken off the road each year because their mechanical and/or structural deficiencies are so significant they are not safe to drive one more mile.

That was all I could think about as I drove to work the next morning, and I am here to tell you I spent all 12 miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike trying to get away from the trucks.

It meant a lot of lane changing, but don't worry, I signaled every time.