Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flat Stanley Spends Christmas in Delaware!

Happy Holidays from Delaware!

Boy, has it been a busy Christmas weekend here with Meg's family. More new people to meet and so many neat things to see! I barely know where to start, but I'm going to do my best.

On Christmas Eve, Meg went over to her brother's house to see family there, including her two nephews. I stayed home because I was still REALLY tired from the night before, and Meg said things can be a little crazy when her nephews start ripping open their piles of presents. But I got to meet them the next day, on Christmas, when everyone came to Meg's Mommy's house for something called brunch, which is between lunch and breakfast. I was just glad that Santa managed the trip and left everyone presents!

Meg's nephews are a lot of fun! The little one on the left is Michael, and he's six years old. The big one in all the Philadelphia Phillies gear is Will. He's 11 and Meg says he's a very good baseball player, which is why he likes the Phillies so much. Apparently Philadelphia, PA is not far from Delaware, so they are the closest baseball team to cheer for.

We had lots of food, opened presents, and then the boys went home to play with their new ping-pong table they got as a family gift for Christmas. I took a nap while Meg went over to play with them for a while. Those boys certainly know how to wear you out!

The next day, Meg and her Mommy took me to a place called Grotto Pizza, which is very famous in this part of Delaware. Grotto has been making pizza since Meg was a little kid, and that's a very long time!

Meg misses Grotto Pizza so much that she makes a trip there every time she comes back to Delaware. It looks like the Grotto people know what they're doing, because that sure is a good looking pizza!

Meg also said they make very good Philadelphia-style cheese steak sandwiches, so I got to try some of that too. That sandwich is almost as big as me!

By the end of dinner, we were so stuffed we took half the pizza home and had it for breakfast the next day. I never knew cold pizza could taste so good!

Before we left Delaware to fly back to California, Meg took me on a little tour of Rehoboth Beach, DE and we got to see the Atlantic Ocean!

Rehoboth Beach is where Meg and her friends spent a lot of time during the summer when they were growing up. There is a boardwalk that follows the line of the beach, so people can walk above the sand. It was hard getting pictures of the boardwalk, because parts of it are being replaced because of damage from storms the last few years. I mostly enjoyed looking at the water.

Meg also pointed out a very famous Rehoboth Beach and State of Delaware landmark, the Dolle's sign!

Dolle's sells salt water taffy, which is the souvenir most people take home from Rehoboth when they visit. Unfortunately I didn't get any to take back to Mary in Rhode Island because Dolle's is closed during the winter. I guess that means I'll have to find a way to come back!

And we missed Santa too!

He's probably on his own flight back to the North Pole.

It's been a whirlwind trip, but I'm really glad I came so I could meet some of Meg's family. And once the snow went away, Delaware is a pretty nice place to visit. But I really do want to come back another time, because salt water taffy sounds yummy, especially after more Grotto Pizza...

But first, we have a long trip back to Los Angeles. And the next time I get to write to you, it will be a new year! I can't wait to see what will happen in 2010!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Flat Stanley Hits the Road Again!

Hi everyone!

I'm so excited to be writing to you again because Meg and I are on another trip! That's right, we left Los Angeles today and took another airplane ride. Where were we headed? This time, we're going to a state called Delaware, which is where Meg grew up. We're going to visit her family for Christmas, and I can't wait to meet them! But boy, did we have a long journey getting there!

First of all, we were supposed to leave on Saturday, but there was a REALLY HUGE snowstorm back on the East Coast where Delaware is. They closed the airport we were supposed to fly into, so we got stuck in Los Angeles for several extra days. But Meg said that was OK, because it would be safer to travel after the roads were cleared off. We even went on the computer and saw pictures of Mary and her brothers standing in the snow in Rhode Island, getting their picture taken wearing bathing suits! I thought those were just for summer weather, but I could be wrong. I will have to remember to ask Mary about that when I'm back in Rhode Island.

We left for the airport at 8:30 this morning, even though our flight didn't leave until 1 PM. Meg said the lines would be very long because a lot of people would be going home to their families for the holidays too, so we had to have a lot of patience. Boy, was she right! We waited a long time just to give the airline people our suitcase, then we had to do that security thing and that was ANOTHER long line. Altogether it took about an hour. Meg said it was better to be safe and get there early than have to rush and forget something. Seems like she was right.

When we got to the airport, I was a little confused because the signs all said "Alaska."

I thought we were going to Delaware, and I don't think Alaska is on the East Coast! Were we in the wrong place? No, Meg explained. Alaska was the name of the airline that was taking us to Delaware, and when they started their business they mostly flew people to Alaska, but now they're much bigger and they go lots of other places. I still don't completely understand that, but I've learned that Meg knows what she's doing when it comes to traveling.

Even though the weather was supposed to be very bad when we landed, the sky on the way to Delaware sure was pretty.

When we finally arrived in Washington, DC it was already dark, and we had almost 3 more hours to drive until we finally got to Meg's Mommy's house in Lewes, DE. Meg wanted to get on the road as fast as possible so we didn't take any pictures at the airport, but that was OK with me. I've seen plenty of airports with her, and they pretty much look the same.

We did stop on the drive there in a town called Bridgeville, DE. They make something called "scrapple" in Bridgeville, and Meg laughed when she saw the Rapa Scrapple sign, so she just had to stop.

I asked her what scrapple is, and she said it's sort of like a meatloaf that you eat for breakfast. But Meg says she doesn't eat it, and when I asked why, all she said was that I really didn't want to know what was in scrapple because it's not very appealing. I think I'll take her word for it.

By the time we finally got to Lewes, it was past midnight...that means it's already Christmas Eve! I can't wait to see what Christmas in Delaware is like! Hopefully the weather doesn't keep Santa away...

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Story 2009: Part 2-Meg vs. The Mall

I hold a long-standing belief that if you're going to give someone a gift, you should expend the effort to make it special. I've never liked the idea of just buying something for someone, no matter who it is, that didn't have a story or some meaning behind it. I've been that way since I was a little girl. Every gift always started with the same thought - "This would be perfect for *insert name* because...." The stories are what make gift giving special.

My theory is part of the reason I hate THE MALL.

The whole idea of a shopping mall is that everything is so generic and accessible that you can find something agreeable to just about anyone. Granted, you may have a mall near you with some "specialty" shops, but they tend to be weird collections of stuff no one wants anyway. Or they cater to strange little boys that wear black eyeliner and nail polish and still play D&D. I've always wondered how those places manage to pay the rent every month.

Yet thanks to a series of hiccups in my master life plan this year, coupled with the latest whopper from mother nature, the mall is exactly where I headed today to finish my Christmas shopping. Since I won't arrive at my Mom's until 1 AM on Christmas Eve, my local Delaware shopping plan isn't happening, and I REFUSE to pay hundreds of dollars in expedited shipping to on-line companies to guarantee my gifts arrive in time. So I'm carting everything with me. And because we all know the airport people that search your unlocked bags are thieves this time of year, everything needs to fit in my carry-on. I am not a happy girl.

As if this wasn't challenge enough, I have other things to worry about in the Creative Gift Problem (CGP) department...

  • CGP #1 - 11 year old nephew who has too much of everything already.
  • CGP #2 - 6 year old nephew that wants what the 11 year old has.
  • CGP #3 - A brother who is a musician and just really wants very expensive guitars from Santa.
  • CGP #4 - Sister-in-Law who has so much jewelry from years of marriage to thoughtful brother that anything sparkly seems redundant.
  • CGP #5 - Mom. Enough said on that one. I think everyone can relate here.

Now a reasonable person would probably just throw up their hands and buy gift cards and assume the recipients would forgive them for their lack of creativity. If you've been paying attention so far, you know I'm NOT going out like that. Not having SOMETHING to open is completely unacceptable. There has to be a solution here, and I'm determined to try to find it...AT THE MALL.

So I after a little dose of happiness watching the Kings practice in El Segundo, I ventured out with no real plan in my head. This is another thing I NEVER do! Shopping without a plan is ill advised for two reasons: 1) I like to spend money and 2) I have no patience milling around with hundreds of other people that have no idea what they're trying to find. But since I was overloaded with CGP's, I figured the best strategy was just to walk around and search for some inspiration.

In the end, I came out with all but one gift purchased (and no, I'm not telling you what I bought!), exhausted but hopeful that I could still make this less-than-ideal gift giving scenario work. I will admit, I also chose to accept that this Christmas would be one where I didn't have the "perfect" gift for everyone, but everyone got something nice.

At least I can blame it on Mother Nature.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Christmas Story 2009: Part 1-Man vs. Nature

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, amid the vast pool of knowledge I accumulated at great cost to my parents, I learned about the elements of narrative conflict. And somehow they conveniently came together today to throw one huge monkey wrench into Christmas 2009. If you're not instantly recalling the elements of narrative conflict, you know how to use Google. Or you can simply read on and it will start to make sense.

For starters, I'm not going to lie. Traveling during the holidays is NOT my favorite thing to do. I always love going to visit my family, since I only manage to do it a couple of times a year. The PROCESS of doing it is another story. No matter how much patience you have, holiday travel will fry your nerves. You're surrounded by people that DON'T have your patience, DON'T know what they're doing most of the time, and DON'T have any respect for the other people they're irritating. I have a long standing theory that there should be roads built especially for long-haul trucks, since they don't mix well with cars. In my perfect universe, there would be separate airports for those people that meet all the DON'T criteria. When the world revolves around me one of these days, I'm gonna make it happen. Dealing with idiots during holiday travel is an example of the narrative conflict known as Man vs. Man.

I can see the light bulb going on over your head.

But lo and behold, before I even had a chance to confront the Man vs. Man beast, another type of conflict began yesterday at 6:51 am courtesy of an e-mail from my mother titled "FYI - SNOW." This would be an example of Man vs. Nature, just in case you were curious. As my luck would have it, the biggest snow storm in 25 years was predicted to hit Washington, DC the same day I planned to fly there on my way home. If I could get there, there were no guarantees I would be able to navigate the roads in my mid-size rental car.

As I watched the weather forecast deteriorate Friday evening, and endured a fitful night of sleep, I woke to yet another conflict - Man vs. Self. I started worrying about my ability to make the trip, what would happen if I got stuck, etc. I watched the sun rise on another temperate day in CA, and finished packing to leave for the airport. Just to be safe, I set text alerts with the airline in case the flight status changed.

So exactly how did all this dramatic conflict resolve? Mother Nature won. Washington got hammered with almost 2 feet of snow, the airport was closed, and my flight was canceled. I found out before I even had to leave for the airport thanks to the blessings of technology. So I called the airline, was EXTREMELY nice to the reservations person (knowing they must be having a bad day at work) and got re-booked on a flight....Wednesday. Four days from now.

At least the roads should be clear by then. But now I have a new conflict to deal with....Man vs. Christmas Gift List. You see, I had a great plan to do the rest of my shopping in sales tax -free Delaware. Time to unpack and get to work on Plan B....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Zinc Your Pups"

Right now I'm sitting at the dining table, listening to the Kings game on the radio and addressing Christmas cards. The Kings game is stress relief, while the Christmas cards are part of the stress sandwich that is my current to-do list. I love the holidays, but fighting a cold with this much to get done just sucks. With that in mind, here's a short list of some of the thoughts rattling around in my brain at the moment.

  • Envelope glue just tastes awful. Someone needs to come up with cherry flavored envelope glue. If they can add cherry flavor to make cough medicine taste better, why can't it work with envelope glue?

  • I can now confirm the Vicks-on-your-feet-with-socks trick works! Why, I have absolutely no idea, but I don't care. I'm breathing with more ease than I have in days, which is all that matters to me at this point. I was having a conversation with my girlfriend Denise about Vicks, which Mom always put on my nose when I was sick growing up. Denise has a term for it -"Zinc your sniffer." So I've decided putting Vicks on your feet should be referred to as "Zinc your pups." An old boss of mine always used to tell me her "Dogs are barking" when she was on her feet in high heels all day, but "Zinc your dogs" just doesn't have the same ring as "Zinc your pups."

  • I'm up to two Starbucks drinks a day. This is not good. The extra caffeine may have me thinking I've got more energy than I do. This is known as a dilemma, both because I love Starbucks and the extra energy. Or maybe I just need that sweet pepperminty flavor to stay in the holiday spirit...

  • I could ALMOST live on Progresso chicken noodle soup, Zone Perfect dark chocolate almond energy bars, and chamomile tea if my life depended on it. I like where it's putting me on the scale! Maybe I should write a diet book....

But my most disturbing thought is questioning if I am actually feeling better? Or is the adrenaline kicking in as I realize I still have a BOATLOAD of things to do before I get on a plane Saturday?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Back on the Sauce

Apparently I became delusional this week and mistakenly thought I was feeling better. So I stopped the drugs, tried to get back to a normal schedule, and then the beast came back and bit me in the ass. Or maybe it never really went away. For some reason, at least once a year I manage to get a cold that lingers so long I start referring to it as "The Crud." I'm functional and don't miss any work, but for at least a month everyone I talk to comments that I sound congested and not like myself. My frustration led to the following Facebook status update.

Meg Jarrell is back on the sauce...unless anyone has a better cough remedy than Robitussin....

As you all know, I LOVE social media activity in general, and Facebook in particular. I have a small group of people I regularly (as in every day) chat back and forth with, but a whole host of other friends that I hear from so seldom that I have no idea whether they even care about what I post. They may even find me annoying.

But the awesome thing about the social media world is you can always count on people to offer their opinion, even when it comes to matters of suffering and sickness. In fact, these are the times the best thoughts come out in people. So I was cheered and encouraged by some of the alternate cold remedy suggestions I got.

  • Bourbon. If you drink enough you won't care if you're coughing.

  • I know it sounds weird but tonight, put vicks vapor rub on the bottom of your feet and put socks on. It will take away the cough.

  • That Vicks thing works!!

  • The Vicks thing really does work. I like Delsym for coughs (12 hours to boot)

  • None of the cough syrups have enough active ingredient to help. Mucinex pills have mega doses of the same thing and really work.

  • Jagermeister.

  • Try Bigelow's Ginger Snappish tea with a spoonful of honey. Also get a vaporizer -- makes a HUGE difference!

  • 1 part bourbon, 1 part honey, 1/2 part lemon juice. Warm and serve.

OK then. I'm off the pharmacy AND the liquor store, and hopefully I can kick this thing once and for all. And although I'm scratching my head a bit on the Vicks-feet thing, I'm desperate enough to try anything at this point. Plus it's clearly winning in the cold remedy popularity contest.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Eight Rounds...and a Knockout!

My Kings have been playing some great hockey lately (except on Saturday afternoons), but nonetheless I felt a twinge of anxiety in the pit of my stomach on the walk to Staples Center tonight. We were about to face the Phoenix Coyotes, who have been playing their own good hockey so far this season, and they've always been a tough team to beat for us, especially here in LA.

We did have a couple of things working against us tonight. The first was a hard fought win last night against the Conference leading Sharks in San Jose. The game went to overtime before we put it away, and it was an emotional win for the entire team. Forwards Teddy Purcell, Anze Kopitar, and Dustin Brown finally ended their scoring droughts, and Drew had a simply AMAZING night with a goal, an assist and the honor of #1 Star of the Night. As incredible as it all was it took a lot of energy, and I had visions of our letdown after a superb win against the Pittsburgh Penguins back in November where we basically didn't show up at the next game. On top of that, the Coyotes are a division and conference rival, and have always given us a tough time no matter how good or bad they're playing as a team. Needless to say, there was a lot at stake tonight.

It certainly took a while, and the game was far from what I'd call solid, but the "right" Kings squad showed up tonight and we got the win. It took 8 rounds of shoot-out play, and Drew scored a beauty in round 7, then Justin Williams finished it off and we finally got to celebrate. In addition, the Kings became the first team in the Western Conference to reach 20 wins, and we're only 1 point away from both San Jose and Washington for most points in the NHL. Who would have thunk it! I LOVE THIS TEAM!

And because many good things in my hockey world tonight involved the number 8, my "Opposing Team Hottie of the Night" is the Coyotes #8 - Right Winger Scottie Upshall. Why is it all the hot NHL men wear #8? I don't know, but I love it!

Now it's time for the boys (and me) to rest up for our next game on Saturday night against the Dallas Stars. GO KINGS GO!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Decorating Gone Awry

When I moved this summer, I cleaned out a lot of junk, but also rediscovered some cool treasures I had hidden away for a time when I could actually use them. One of the things I "found" was a neat set of hand-painted plates with cocktail themes.

I bought them at this great little boutique in the Pearl District of downtown Portland, OR shopping with my friend Tanya a number of years ago. I always envisioned using them as the centerpiece of a kitchen decorating scheme since they have hip, contemporary colors. When I was unpacking, I left them on top of the fridge, thinking I would find some plate hangers and put them on the wall in my little kitchen to brighten it up a bit.

OK, so I moved in June and hadn't gotten around to this yet, but for some reason a weekend I spent sick as a dog, hopped up on cold meds seemed like the right time to take on this little project. Although the more I looked at the kitchen, the more I decided against hanging the plates there, because I wanted them to be more visible. The wall next to my dining set would be perfect, and I could organize them in a square of four. Genius!

With the plate hangers located, I grabbed my hammer and nails. To make sure everything was even, I did paper mock-ups the same size as the plates, measured the wall, figured out the exact center and correct formation, marked the wall where the nails would was perfection. Then I grabbed a nail and started hammering. And THIS HAPPENED....

I didn't think about the fact that this wall of my apartment is right next to the elevator shaft, and is therefore made of plaster over CONCRETE. Doh! That's not gonna work! So now I have to come up with another place to hang my plates, AND I have an ugly mark on my wall. Oh, the humanity!

For my alternate plate location, I decided on the entryway wall, and I'm pretty pleased with how they look.

As for the hole in the wall, I covered it temporarily with my John Mayer "Secret Show"poster. It looks kind of bland hanging there by itself, but I couldn't stand the ugly mark on the wall.

So, anyone have good decorating ideas that involve things you can only hang with tape? My wall needs your help...