Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rekindling the Romance

My car is back! I got the call that it was all fixed and washed and ready to be picked up so I took my little caped crusader (aka the Rental Avenger) down to the repair place to get my car. It looks so nice - shiny and clean and all in one undented piece!

On my drive home, I realized something. I have been taking my car for granted. Lately, Dan and I have thrown around the idea of replacing my car with something more grocery-getter appropriate. Cause my car? Can be easily defeated by a good Costco trip without even trying. (There's nothing like driving home with a 12-pack of toilet paper in the passenger seat.) So we had started talking about maybe thinking about possibly getting me a new car before this one is toast.

Driving home, I realized that it's a silly thought. The Avenger? That had a good trunk. And even a back seat that people with legs could sit in! It was very grocery-getter appropriate. But while it was nice, my car is fantastic. Sure, it doesn't have the auxiliary jack or the seat heater (or a large trunk or a roomy backseat). But getting in it is like tucking myself into a comfy leather cocoon (instead of rattling around in the plastic and dashboarded vastness that is the Avenger). And driving my car? Pure joy. It turns so nicely and feels solid, but not heavy or hard to control. (After some discussion with Dan, we figured the Avenger might have a bit too helpful power steering assist or something - it turns easily and responsively but turning the wheel is so light and easy, it kinda feels like it's not connected to anything.) Maybe it is because my car sits a good foot lower than the Avenger (gotta love that low center of gravity). Or maybe it is because my car is just awesome.

So yeah, it's 14 years old. And per the collision repair guy, it's probably going to turn dull pink some time in the future. (In '98 apparently Lexus didn't use a clear coat for the paint and since we never wax it, apparently that means it will fade and turn into one of those primer-looking cars, but in red (or pink).) And yeah, bits of the coating on the inside around the radio are flaking off in a few places. And there are a couple of holes in the leather (one due to high heels - oops). And okay, maybe the Top Gear guys think driving a Lexus is like sitting in a bucket of warm wallpaper paste. Well, apparently I like warm wallpaper paste, cause the drive home today reminded me how much I love my car.

I'm sure one day, my car and I will go our separate ways. Someday it will go to that big parking lot in the sky and I'll have to find a fun-driving replacement. But until then, I'm going to do my best to drive the wheels off.

And maybe wax it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Need A Cape

Another quick (and picture-less) update about the semi bumper cars. My car is currently in the shop getting fixed. Mixed news on the cost of the repairs: the damage was surprisingly low, which is good but it is bad because it means no one won the showcase - everyone guessed too high! (The total was $2,385 and change... Dan was the closest at $2,500 but even then, you don't win the showcase if you go over.)

Right now I'm in a rental car, a Dodge Avenger. Aside from having a silly little name that makes me want to read comic books, it's not a bad little car. Sure, the road noise is very loud (almost as loud as Dan's Rav and that's uncomfortably loud) and there are a few bits on it that feel cheap (like the mirror covers on the visors and, you know, the fact that the dash is plastic), but it does have some nice features too. I'm particularly fond of the seat heaters. Very enjoyable. The AUX jack for my iPod is nice, too. And happily, it drives nicely - tight turns, responsive steering and just a surprisingly good ride. I, however, will never buy a Dodge so the chance to really play around with one isn't a great benefit or anything. First off, Dan and I tend to go for the Japanese-made cars. But even if we were to consider Dodge, I think this car is made for someone at least a foot taller than I am. You have to reach way way back to open the center console and I have to about turn around in my seat to look in it. Even the cup holders are placed in a location that makes reaching back for them slightly awkward. So yeah, not at all my thing but for a week and a half, it's not bad! (Though I'd really like to be able to keep the seat heaters for longer.)

Other than that, still going to the chiro. I'm feeling a lot better than I thought - I'm not really sore much in my back/shoulders anymore. The main issue is just a tense neck which is causing lots of headaches. That's not been fun. Since I've been corn-free the number of headaches (and migraines) I've had has drastically dropped so I'm not used to running this almost constant level of pain. My headache tolerance has really dropped!

Anyway, that's the update! Not too exciting but there you go!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Medical Menagerie

Just a little update. I'm still sore as all get out from the semi incident. It pretty much sucks - super-sore mid-back and a sore neck combine to basically give me a constant headache. Fortunately, it seems like the muscle spasms in my left shoulder have stopped after this weekend, so that's cool. The rest of it is still very much unfun and it makes me whiny.

I've been drafting Dan to help me regularly apply the Badger to my back. Additionally, when I was at the chiro on Friday, she gave me some Tiger Balm. I gotta tell you, I'm loving that stuff. It's like a cross between Vicks Vapor-Rub and Icy Hot. The Badger is nice - it has a gingery warmth that isn't overly strong but kind of cuddly - but I'm kind of partial to the Tiger's more in-your-face mentholated tingle. I'm also doing regular chiropractic appointments and getting adjusted, some electrotherapy and delightful acupuncture.

I really like acupuncture, by the way. When I first had it months ago, I figured eh, why not, it's not like it is making things worse so sure. But I had to skip acupuncture one appointment and I could really tell a difference. Post-poking, there is a nice looseness and lightness in the area that was punctured. It isn't a permanent thing - more like an extended release pain pill - but I really like how it feels. And if it is doing that, I can't help but think that there may be some longer term help that it provides that isn't as noticeable. So I definitely wanted to do it for this current issue, if we could. And we can, so I did! Dan got to witness it and said he thinks it's a bunch of voodoo. Hehe. While my prior shoulder issue got me six needles per session, looks like this one gets me something slightly closer to twenty. (I forgot to count and Dan just said between ten and twenty, but I'm pretty sure I had 10 just on the shoulders alone and she also did my upper spine and neck.)

In more related news, Dan and I are taking my car in this evening to get a damage estimate. (We have a Price Is Right style betting pool on that currently. Feel free to offer your own guesstimate!) Of course, our appointment is in an hour or so and it is raining cats and dogs outside (thankfully not literally). And my trunk doesn't seal anymore. And my CD player is in my trunk. Sigh. No good can come of this.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Semis Suck

Apparently, some drivers don't think the evening commute is exciting enough. And when that is the case, apparently these drivers decide to add their own brand of excitement to stop-and-go traffic by turning it into a game of bumper cars. And apparently they do this by picking a car and then ramming into them not once, not twice, but three separate times, each time bumping that car down the highway for a bit before stopping, resting, then doing it all again.

Which really sucks. But it sucks even more when you are the car they pick to do this to.

Dent and Crunch

And it sucks even more when that driver aching for bumper car commuting excitement is in a semi.

Semis Suck

Yes. I got rear ended (a lot) by a freakin' semi. Fortunately, the not-so-accident happened at a very low rate of speed (probably about two miles per hour) so the damage to my car (and me) is not near as bad as it could have been given that I was, you know, rear ended repeatedly by a semi.

But the back of my car is dented and heavily scratched up (from metal on metal, as the nice officer kindly pointed out), the trunk latches but no longer seals, my taillights are both broken and the bumper is no longer aligned. And I'm not sure what (if anything) happens to the inner workings of one's car when a semi shoves it about 200 feet down the highway while the brakes are fully engaged, but I can't imagine it's anything positive. And let me tell you, after being shove-shove-shoved multiple times down the highway by a semi? I'm not feeling too hot either. (My chiro doesn't normally work on Fridays but I've already called her and she's going to see me tomorrow morning for some adjustment, therapy and acupuncture. I've dosed up with Excedrin and am icing my neck/back currently, too.)

Ironically, I had just been to the grocery store and picked up some herbal muscle rub.

Badger to the Rescue?

I mostly picked it up because, hello, badger! How fun! But I thought it might help with my post-yoga shoulder soreness (I'm trying to get some more upper body strength). Now, however, we get to see how it works on post-bumper-carred-by-a-semi soreness.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Just taking a moment to vent.

I'm working on a new knitting project, trying to learn how to do colorwork, specifically colorwork with one color yarn in my right hand, one in my left. I knit English style (carrying the working yarn in my right hand) and I want to learn how to knit Continental (yarn in the left) to see if it was any faster/better for me so I figured that this project was a great chance to learn how to do that.

It's not working well. I just can't keep even tension on my yarn that is in my left hand. Which is ironic, since when I crochet, I carry the working yarn in my left hand and have to maintain even tension on it. Yet the way I hold yarn for crocheting won't work for me while knitting. It's rather frustrating trying to knit smoothly using my left hand.

But that's just issue one. First off, look at this yarn.

Mini Mochi Intense Rainbow

Isn't it pretty? Should be fun to work with something so pretty, yes?

No. OMG. Horror. It splits like mad and is so hard to catch the whole strand when knitting into a stitch. Very annoying. And, even worse, the plied cream wool I'm using does the same thing. Not quite to the same extent, but still enough so that it is difficult to knit into.

On the positive side, the pattern is nice. At least I'm not dealing with issues there (other than the fact that I tend to skim instead of read the chart, which means I have to backtrack a bit... but really, that's my own fault). Of course, the wonky tension issues I'm having are kind of screwing up the pattern in that the contrasting color stitches are being pulled too tight so they don't pop as much as the natural yarn color. Which means the pattern doesn't show up as nicely as it could.

21 Jan Progress

I'm hoping that that issue will resolve a little when I wet block the finished product. Maybe the colorful yarn will bloom a little, puffing up a little to be more visible. Fingers crossed.

Sigh. I'm about ⅓ of the way through the project. I really hope I get the left hand tension thing straight. Because I have a pattern for a colorwork hat that features alpacas and I really want to not hate colorwork so I can make me an alpaca hat.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Beer Updates

Last weekend, Dan started brewing his third beer. This one is going to be a pumpkin one, too, but sorghum-based and it will be gluten-free.

Roasting the Pumpkin

He's not all that huge on the gluten-free beers that are commercially available, but then, he's not big on the "typical" commercially available beers either and I'm pretty sure that's what the gluten-free ones are trying to recreate. So hopefully, his version of a gluten-free will be more in line with his fancier commercial beer tastes.

Adding the Pumpkin

He does love the pumpkin beers, though so it's really no surprise that he's making a second one. His first one turned out very nice though I think he wants a little more pie flavor, which this one should have.


Of course, even if this one goes the way of other unimpressive gluten-free beers, he'll have himself the pretty fun challenge of making a good gluten-free beer that he (and my mom) like.

In the Fridge

It's always nice to have goals.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Healing, But...

Okay, officially, I'm still sick. But I'm starting to feel a little better. Not good, just better. But now I'm at that dangerous point in my healing that I feel cruddy enough that I can't really do anything but I feel non-miserable enough that I get bored. For instance, I tried ironing some of Dan's work shirts (because I really don't want him to have to go to work naked) but I had to stop after the fourth shirt when I noticed I was ironing wrinkles into the shirt. Oops.

But I got some goodies in the mail today, and that's occupied me for a good while now. Because I took pictures and now I'm blogging. See, occupied! (And occupied without wrinkling!) So what goodies did I get in the mail today?


Mmm, Lupicia

I got some flavored black teas from Lupicia that I ordered earlier this week. I have tried one of them (the Chocolate Strawberry Pu-erh) but the Budoh and Grapefruit I've only had as a green tea, not as a black. But I really liked the flavoring in the green so I thought I'd like them in a black tea (which I tend to prefer when it comes to flavored teas). We shall see!

But that's the normal tea that I got in today. I also got another, slightly more special tea (if only because it is a limited edition).

Andrews & Dunham's Thirsty Elf

I actually ordered this tea when I was posting this blog entry, so yay for speedy shipping! Honestly, reviews on Steepster haven't been overwhelmingly outstanding (though they've been in the low 80s (out of 100)) but I can't find it within myself to care because the tin is just too cool. Andrews & Dunham's Damn Fine Tea Series 6Last year's Christmas blend tin was pretty nifty (see right) but I think the Thirsty Elf tin is just super awesome. I'm definitely going to be keeping both tins intact and use them to store... something. Most tins I take the labels off and reuse for more tea, but these are too fun to do that to. Hopefully, the Thirsty Elf will taste at least as good as last year's Damn Fine Holiday Blend, because I did enjoy that and only have about one or two cup's worth of leaves left.

So yay for (slowish but still present) healing and fun tea!

Next up due to boredom: an overdue Dan beer update. (Though that might wait until tomorrow.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Y'all, Not Cool

Sigh. I had a dentist appointment this afternoon that I just had to cancel. Why? Cause I'm pretty sure I'm sick. Again. Yeah, I'm thinking I'm at the start of another cold, given the sneezing, sore throat and runny nose.


But I always get mad at those people that go out into the public world while sick. Because if I come in contact with someone sick, chances are very high that I will get sick. So I refuse to be one of those people, out in public, attempting to infect the world.

I have a chiropractor and massage appointment tomorrow. I will wait to cancel them. Maybe I will have a miraculous recovery. Though at this point, I think running out of tissues is more likely.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Well, Happy 2012, y'all! I can't believe it got here so fast. I still have to think about whether I should write 2010 or 2011. Adding 2012 into the mix has me totally stumped.

Last year's goal was to read more "real" books. I failed at 19 of 24 books. It was a totally achievable goal so it was my own fault for not meeting it. I just kind of lost my motivation around September and picked a bad book to try to get re-motivated. (I'm still trying to read that book, by the way. It's going to be Book One of 2012 come hell or high water.) So this year, I'm going to do it again. But this time, I'm actually going to get my full 24 books in.

I have a secondary goal, too. This one isn't as structured as the "real" book goal. This one is tea related. I want to try out new tea vendors.

This is something I need help with because I'm kind of stuck on a handful of vendors (Chicago Tea Garden, Lupicia, Adagio, Andrews & Dunham's Damn Fine Tea (Ack! I just noticed they have a new tea out! Must order now!), O-cha) and I don't really deviate from them. In 2011, I did order from a couple of other vendors (TeaCuppa and SerendipiTea) which weren't exactly new to me but I hadn't ordered from them in a couple of years and one new vendor (Yuuki-cha), which I will totally have to add into my regular rotation because they've got some really neat offerings (Japanese black and oolong teas!).

But really, one new vendor and two neglected vendors? Not good enough. Especially since, after all this time, I have yet to order something from TeaSpring. It's supposed to be one of the best places around for Chinese teas and I've been lucky enough to get to try some of their teas through swaps with a friend so I know that their Tan Yang Te Ji is a sample of divinity in a teacup. I need to order that tea.

Which leads me to my secondary goal for 2012: try new tea vendors. Specifically TeaSpring but also Sugimoto and American Tea Room. Nothing too ambitious, just three new vendors spread over twelve months. (Of course, if I can fit Ito-en and Ippodo in there, it wouldn't upset me in the slightest.)

So there we go, my goals. Read 24 "real" books in 12 months and buy tea from some specific new-to-me vendors. I can totally do that!