Category Archives: Musings

Our Giant TV

Janet and I now own two TVs. I’m not really sure how this happened but we now have the spare TV in our bedroom. This is helpful when I want to watch Orphan Black and Janet hasn’t caught up with me yet because she attached herself to Apple while I jumped all in with Amazon.

Janet and I always talk big about these farfetched plans we have for ourselves. For instance, every time we rent a car we enjoy we talk like we are going to run out and buy one. We never do but you wouldn’t know that by listening to us talk. The only time we’ve ever talked the talk and actually walked the walk is with the giant TV we bought.

It was the smartTV part which pushed us over the edge from dreaming of a big obnoxious TV to bank account draining reality. I love the idea of being able to stream a movie or TV show on my time and not strapped to my couch on a certain day at a specific time. Mother Nature doesn’t help either: being sunny until 9pm or later (here in Seattle) doesn’t scream ‘Hey! Go inside and watch some TV!’ to me.

We started talking about buying a new smartTV a couple of years ago but never actually pulled the trigger. A few months ago, right before Superbowl Sunday, we got serious. We wanted to get rid of cable and decided buying a new TV would help. Our old TV would freeze up, when watching TV on an antenna, so we decided a TV built in this decade might help with this problem. It didn’t, we still have cable, but that’s another story.

Janet and I did the research, went to Costco repeatedly to test drive the TVs, and watched the ads every week for the right deal to come along. The TV which seemed to be the best of the lower end TVs, a 70” behemoth, was deemed too big for our little condo. We found the 60” version on sale at Fred Meyers (Freddy’s to locals) and went out to take a look.

Sixty inches sounded like a huge TV – our old one is 32” – but when we saw it in the store it looked pretty normal to us. In hindsight, our naiveté is adorable. A sixty inch TV on display in a warehouse amongst other, sometimes much bigger, TVs might give the impression of being small. It is not small, however, in a two story 1300 square foot condo.

We were so proud of ourselves when we made our purchase. We’re normally all bark and no bite but this time we sure took a bite out of our savings account! (Uh oh, I think I just heard Janet fainting again.) The helpful electronics worker, Todd, brought out our TV and it looked a little big but we decided the packaging added several inches to both sides.

When Todd called for two other employees to help get the TV to our car we were a little concerned, but decided it was a slow night and they needed something to do. I went and got the Prius and brought her up to the front door. When they wheeled the TV next to the Prius my first thought was, ‘hmmm…they’re the same size.’

The TV did fit in the car, a nice snug fit with the back seats down, and we were on our way home. We could even shut the hatchback without tying it down…see, it’s not so big! When we brought the TV into the condo, that’s when we realized the enormity of our purchase. I could hear Janet mutter, ‘I hope there’s a lot of packaging on this thing.’ We left the TV in the box overnight hoping it wouldn’t be as big as we feared. It was.

In the morning we opened the box and realized, no, not much packaging going on there. We hung it on the wall, not an easy feat I might add, and sat down to stare at the screen. We didn’t watch anything just sat there saying, ‘Did you know it would be this big?’ ‘Is this really only 60”?’ ‘I can’t believe you bought such a big TV, Jenn.’

Two months after our giant TV purchase Jesse said, ‘I think I’m getting used to the TV, Mom, it’s not as obnoxiously big as it used to be.” Good, that was the look I was going for, Jesse. Thanks for that. So, let this be a lesson to you. Everything in Costco looks small. 60” is five feet. That’s like hanging your medium sized kid on the wall. Or your mother-in-law. The picture looks much better, though.



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One Thousand Books

I like to think of myself as a likeable, well-read individual. Not true, but I sure do like to think of myself as such. Whenever I see Pride and Prejudice in the bookstore or on TV, I always point out that, hey, I’ve read that book! I just refrain from telling anyone I read it so I could then read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Nobody has to know that part.

I decided late last year I really need to read more older significant books (if I was going to tell people I’m a writer) so I searched for lists of the best books to read. I ended up copying the BBC list of the 1001 books you should read before you die. I wanted a more ‘worldly’ list and was afraid if I went with an American one I would miss out on some fine reading. As a proud American, I sometimes have a hard time seeing beyond my own borders.

The BBC broke their list down into seven categories: Comedy, Crime, Family and Self, Love, Science Fiction and Fantasy, State of the Nation, and War and Travel. I’m not thrilled with some of the categories (war and science fiction are glaring examples for me) but I figure I’ll read a few excellent books I normally wouldn’t touch with a stick.

I’ve only read four so far…this will be close…seeing if I can actually read them all before I die. I’ve enjoyed two: The Face of Another by Kobo Abe and Silver Stallion by Junghyo Ahn. The other two, not so much: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Money by Martin Amis.

I must say, the reason I didn’t enjoy the books by Achebe and Amis is because I’m a woman. I don’t like reading books where women are treated like property or treated poorly. Achebe’s world is much different from mine and Amis just doesn’t seem to like women.

I’m enjoying (mostly) reading from the list the BBC kindly created for the world. I’m currently reading Le Grand Meaulnes by Henri Alain-Fournier and am enjoying it immensely. Too bad he died so young, he has real talent! I’m sure I’ll love some and hate others but I’ll try and make it through them all before I cross the rainbow bridge. Maybe I can see if I can’t find Things Fall Apart and Zombies and Money and Zombies. Those might be a blast!


Ps – Happy Birthday, Sue Grafton!

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Seattle Seahawks

I can hardly believe the Seattle Seahawks are NFL champions. My beloved city of Seattle is in full party mode right now. On the day after the Seahawks win, on a Monday no less, I had not one but two people use the word glorious in their morning greeting. How often does that happen? Never here in Washington; I can’t remember the last time two people said any kind of greeting.

Janet told me we should feel good about our win in only 37 years. She grew up in New England and apparently those poor Red Sox went a very long time in between World Series wins. Something like eighty years. I can honestly say I will not be alive eighty years from now, in case this is the Seahawks only win, so I will bask in the glow of Seattle goodwill for as long as I can.

I vaguely remember when the Seattle Supersonics won the NBA championship back in 1979. Wow, that’s a long time ago (if I’m trying not to admit how old I am). Come to think of it, I must have only been a couple of weeks old. Tee-hee. It sounded very similar: lots of fireworks, shouting and loud celebrations and partying in the streets; all of the streets. (I do want to say our WNBA team, the Storm, won two championships, I believe, but I was living in Texas at the time and as you can imagine I couldn’t follow the games.)

The celebration parade for the Seahawks was held yesterday and the route went through Belltown and Downtown ending at Century Link Field. 700,000 people showed up, filling the stadium and the two mile parade route. I’m not sure where all those people parked but I’m glad I live in far south Seattle and didn’t venture out in my car yesterday. I’m not sure if you’ve heard but Seattle has, on a normal day, traffic issues and I can’t imagine what it was like yesterday.

I want to explain how we won the NFL championship. It’s simple really. Some might say it was our defense. Some might point to a particular player or drive. I’m here to tell you the real reason: I didn’t write one word about the Seahawks all season. Yup, I’m just beginning to realize the full depth of my powers. So, I’m wondering…should I write about the team next season? If they lose, will I be blamed? Have I jinxed them already?

This morning, I feel emotionally tired, drained really. The actual Superbowl was easy…who knew Denver could be dominated like they were? No, I’m drained because being happy, smiling and high fiving strangers, inquiring into other people’s lives and feelings, is really quite exhausting. Now I realize why I don’t do it on a regular basis. I swear, if I see one more wonderful picture of a smiling Russell Wilson, holding up the Lombardi trophy, my face will crack and I’ll look just like Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Luckily, I now have Sundays to rest up and get back to my normal introverted ways. What else do I have to do, now that football is over? I’m sure Janet has a list of things we should do, now that Sunday’s many viewing hours have opened up to us. She probably has visions of us being productive and actually getting things on our list done. Hey, wait…don’t the Olympics start today?


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Could You Turn the Heat Up, Please?

I had to turn on my electric blanket last night, I was so cold. That’s not the worst part. We’ve had the electric blanket on our bed since we moved into the condo in November. Our sheets, the electric blanket, and our down comforter…all summer long. Janet and I are a lot of things. Hardy is not one of them.

The four of us went over to Lopez Island to camp a couple of weekends ago and you’d think we were going to the actual tundra to camp, the way we packed. We brought hats and scarves and more layers than we could count. If we owned ski jackets we probably would have taken them along.

I grew up in Seattle but I think the last twenty years in Las Vegas/Texas ruined me for cold weather. How does everyone survive out here? I don’t remember any stories, last winter, about anyone freezing to death but it has to happen a few times a year, right? I’ll toughen up, I’m sure I will.

Janet swears she’ll feel better once she starts having hot flashes. I think she’s the only woman I know who is looking forward to menopause. She’ll finally be warm. Janet sent me an email about travel deals to Iceland and I wanted to send it back with this response: ARE YOU CRAZY? My fingers are experiencing frostbite just thinking about a place called Iceland.

My new job, as a groundskeeper for the condos, was a joy when the sun was shining. Now that it is officially Fall (on the calendar and outside) I’m getting a little nervous about working outside. What if Janet or Jessie come home and find a Jenn-popsicle over by the cabana? Would they fight over who gets my polar fleece jackets (which Jessie wears as a jacket and Janet wears as layer two of five)?

I told the condo HOA I would work until the end of the year, but that’s a lot of cold weather time from now. How many layers can I wear and still move around? Or will I be like Maggie from the Simpsons? Don’t worry about me, though, I have my polar fleece, a real fireplace, and my electric blanket. It’s 6pm: is it too early to go to bed?



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Portland and Our Slightly Wacky Clocks

I seem to surround myself with unique and interesting things and people. Some are downright wacky. I think that’s why I love Portland, Oregon so much. It’s a pretty wacky place. Austin needs a sticker to point out how weird it is (Keep Austin Weird)…Portland just is weird; a sticker would be redundant.

Janet is spending a few days working down the road in Portland and she decided Roxy and I should drive down and visit. Since I love to travel, and Roxy just wants to be with her pack, we said sure! Road trip! Roxy was a little nervous at first, when I was packing the car, but once she realized she was coming too she relaxed and snored the whole trip down (did I mention most Boston Terriers snore a little? Roxy, on the other hand, snores a lot).

I drive pretty close to the speed limit but we still made great time to Portland; seems like a lot of people do work during the week. Traffic was light and I made it to the halfway potty pit stop in about an hour. I wasn’t there very long because when I opened the back door for Roxy, she took one look at the cold, wet weather and said, ‘no, thanks, I’m good right here in bed tucked in with my own personal leopard printed blankie.’ Life is hard for little Roxy now.

When Roxy and I finally arrived at the Aloft (very pet friendly and an all around great place to stay), I went to check in and was informed my name wasn’t on the reservation. When the very nice lady at the front desk asked what my dog’s name was I said ‘Roxy’. The even friendlier guy said, ‘oh, Roxy’s name is on the reservation.’

Really? Janet made sure to mention Roxy and didn’t bother to put her human companion’s name in the computer?  (Insert by Janet: I did put Jenn’s name on the reservation; they must have lost it somehow.) Hmmm…that sounds a little wacky to me. Roxy has a free pass…I have to get my own room. Wait a minute…my own room.

After calling Janet to confirm I wasn’t a thief with an adorable dog in tow, I was allowed access to the room to drop off all my things. As you can imagine, since I drove, I brought just about everything with me. I brought enough books and magazines for a month because you just never know what you’ll be in the mood to read, I believe. My mood changes from moment to moment.

Yesterday, when I reminded Jessie about my upcoming trip to Portland she was upset she couldn’t go. I had to explain about the importance of school and responsibilities and she replied, “Mom, school is really holding me back. Imagine how much I could learn out in the real world.” To which I replied, “Be quiet and get ready for school. Don’t try tricking me with your logic.”

We went upstairs and Jessie said, “Mom, I thought you said it was 8:20.”

“It is 8:20.”

“Then why does our bathroom clock say 8:29?”

For the past few months, our ‘precise’ satellite clocks have occasionally malfunctioned a tiny bit. We have two: one downstairs above the fireplace, for all to see, and one in the upstairs shared bath for Jessie to watch in the mornings while she’s getting ready for that life stunting thing we call school.

They won’t be off by much, and it usually only lasts for a day, but it’s enough to throw you off if you’re not careful.  Take this morning, for example. It was running nine minutes fast and it insisted it was Sunday instead of Thursday. I’m glad Jessie didn’t notice it said Sunday! Instead of annoying me, I find it endearing and quirky.  I have days like that too, those days where I’m feeling not quite right but a good night sleep usually does the trick.

“Mom, are you having a conversation with yourself?”

“Oh! Sorry! What was your question?”

“Why is the clock off?”

“I don’t know. It’s just something it does now, every once in a while, so just know you have an extra ten minutes.”

“That’s weird.”

“Yes, it is.”

Jessie shook her head and focused her attention back to the mirror with ten more minutes to vogue. I turned to go and she said, “I guess the clock fits in with this family, right, Mom?”

“Yes. Yes it does.”


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Celebrating Our Anniversary in Dog Years

Janet and I will celebrate our fifth anniversary next month. That’s right; we’re a handful now. I can’t believe we’ve been together for that long. It seems like just yesterday I met her at Gueros, in Austin, for our first date. What a wild ride it’s been. We’re not even in the same state!

Janet does not work in Washington, she works out of state so she flies out at the buttcrack of dawn on Monday mornings and flies back home late on Thursday nights (in theory). She occasionally gets to work remote some weeks but normally we only see each other on the weekends.

So, I told Janet yesterday, really we’ve only been together a total of about a year, if you add up all the weekends. Exactly, Janet replied, I was just telling everyone at work we can only celebrate about every seven years. We celebrate our anniversary in dog years! Brilliant, Janet, brilliant!

Janet said, ‘celebrate’ but I heard, “let’s spend a lot of money going somewhere exotic and expensive. Don’t worry about the cost. You are worth every penny and credit card charge!” I’m so glad she told me this with two years to spare because now I have time to organize a doozy of a trip. I’m thinking Greece or New Zealand, personally. Maybe a week long train ride in Canada, eh?

We’ll probably postpone our trip until September or October when families stop traveling and are back at home. That way we can have all of Paris to ourselves! I’ve always wanted to see Machu Picchu and I’m not getting any younger. The world is my oyster. Hmmm…what was that noise? Was that Janet hitting the floor?

Anyhoo, since I enjoy working on our budget so much (retch) I’ll try and find some extra money to put aside for our dog year anniversary celebrations. I don’t have long to save, this time, because time sure does fly by, the older I get. The past five years have been wonderful: full of laughter, excitement and the normal roller coaster ride of a truly great relationship. I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.


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When Big Companies Do Good Things

I make a concerted effort to shop locally. I love the little yarn store located in far south Seattle and just up the road from me. (Jessie knits, I’m not that interesting.) I try and buy my greeting cards and various sick remedies at the local drug store here in town. I make it a point to try the various local restaurants on a semi-regular basis…when Budge is sleeping or not paying attention.

I try to shop locally…I try hard. Sometimes it’s a little too difficult to pass by a national company for a local place when the big guy is trying earnestly to do good things. I understand the need to keep as much money local as possible, I really do, but I like giving money to companies which are trying to do the right thing.

Panera Bread is a company I have enjoyed visiting (I love some of their bakery items, I know, shocking) and I’m starting to really respect them for what they are trying to do now. Panera started under the name Au Bon Pain and, through acquisitions, has grown to over 1600 restaurants/bakeries in 44 states and one foreign country; if you consider Canada a foreign country.

While living near Portland, Oregon last year, Janet and I went to one of their ‘Panera Cares Community Café Experiment’ because we had read about it in our little local paper. What a great idea: here was a restaurant where you could pay whatever you could afford. If you are short on funds, you don’t have to pay anything. If you have extra money, you can give more to help offset the free meals.

I loved it. What a great way for people to eat with dignity. I read, somewhere at some point, that sixty percent of patrons pay the suggested amount and the rest are split evenly between paying more and paying less for the food. This is something I want to see succeed: a company who understands the concept of making money but also wants to help in the fight against hunger. No one should go hungry, especially not here in the states.

We only went the one time, I’m sorry to say, because we seemed to be in a ‘Hey! Let’s move again!’ phase in our lives. Now we don’t live near a Panera Cares Café but I do want to go to a regular Panera just to give my support to a company I’m starting to admire. That and I really like their flower cookie.

I like them even more since I read a story about Panera Cafes in the St. Louis area. Instead of the whole restaurant being in the pay-what-you-can mode, these cafes introduced the ‘Meal of Shared Responsibilities Program’. The meal is a turkey chili bowl and you pay however much you would like for that meal.

I like the idea so much I’m willing to fly to St. Louis to show my support. Hmmm…what was that noise? It was either the budget crying or Janet laughing hysterically at me. They both do that a lot when I’m around. I would do it, though, just to show Panera how much I like what they are trying to do. I’ve never been to St. Louis either: two birds, Janet, just the one stone!

I also am starting to realize that not all big companies are horrible and to be avoided at all costs. They still provide jobs to locals, they pay taxes (I hope) to our community and, sometimes, they try and make our little world a much better place. I’m not saying Panera is perfect, I don’t know how they treat their employees, but I can say I like what Panera is trying to accomplish. I want to give money to companies who are trying to do good things.  I know exactly how they feel.


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