Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm really tired of crummy food

I work nights, and as a result, most of my dinners are things that have to be nuked in the micro. I really dislike TV dinners, though the Kashi ones are tolerable. Often, I make my own food and then heat it up. It's never as good as it was fresh. What I really, really wish for is a cookbook of meals you can cook for microwave reheating later that really taste good and don't get soggy and overcooked. Or maybe a tiny little oven and stove next to my desk.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Remember how I was going to make a quilt for the first time? And how I thought I could just borrow a book from the library and figure it out? Well, I got scared. Of what, I really don't know. It's not like a quilt can up and bite me. But I just wasn't sure where to begin. I decided to sign up for the UNM Continuing Ed class I had wanted to take this fall. It's again on Thursday nights in the spring semester, which is perfect since I am off on Thursdays and Fridays. Homework involves sewing! I LOVE homework! It's a 10-week class, and for the price I think you really get your money's worth.


I really haven't been sewing at all lately. I've been so busy -- it may have been since mid-November that I haven't sewn. I took a bunch of fabric in my stash and cut it up to make "ditty bags" for foster kids. Basically, a little fabric bag for them to keep their stuff in as they are shuffled about. I cut a bunch of them out, but I haven't had a chance to sew them. To be honest, I'm not even sure I remember how I'd figured out I'd put them together. I eventually plan to get around to this project. Foster children are people I have a soft spot for. I kind of wish I could care for some, but my life is not set up for children right now. And, plus, I'm not sure what Mark would think of that.

I also never finished a skirt I was making and I still hope to enter some garment in the state fair next year. I wanted to design it myself, too. I meant to do it this year, but the fair snuck up on me.


Yesterday was Mark's birthday. Since it's so close to Christmas, we usually celebrate on his birthday itself, no matter what day of the week, so it doesn't get mixed in with the other holidays. But his family was visiting other family and got back last night, so we're doing it a day late. Unfortunately, it's also our Christmas celebration with his family, so he doesn't get a special day all to himself. On the plus side, I get presents! I think I'll bake the beer bread mix he got me.


It's been FREEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZINNNG here the last few days. I understand that even the high yesterday didn't get above the freezing mark. I still insisted on wearing my new leather jacket, and just piled on hats, gloves and a scarf. I don't believe I would have been warm in any jacket I put on, anyway. Mark thought I was nuts, but what's he doing giving me a red leather jacket in the middle of winter and thinking I won't wear it till the weather warms a little? Right!


I forgot to mention that my mom got me these adorable strawberry earrings from seller insanejellyfish for Christmas.

Strawberry earrings

She just happens to be a fellow Albuquerquean!


I plan to get back on the money-saving train now. I haven't been quite as good as I had wanted to be. (After all, I needed some black leather gloves to go with my new red leather jacket, right? Kohl's had them on sale for $17!) Also, it's time to lose a few pounds. Not many, just a few. We took the Total Gym out of the box, but I don't want to go on the treadmill or exercise bike in the garage because it's freezing and dreary in there. In the winter, I'm better off at the community center gym. I'm also continuing to prepare food at home, which takes a lot of planning. I need to go check out some recipes and do some grocery shopping tonight.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas! Have some raw turkey and gravy that looks like vomit!

Most Christmases are hectic for me. Some years I have to work. Even when I don't, I need to visit my dad, mom, grandma and mother-in-law. Trying to balance everything is exhausting. This year, my in-laws went to visit family in California, and I didn't have to work. I saw the opportunity to have my first-ever at-home Christmas as an adult. I decided to cook a turkey dinner, since that's what my mother-in-law always does and it's important to my husband. Also, we missed Thanksgiving this year because we were in Mexico.

I planned ahead and did the proper research about how long the turkey would need to thaw in the fridge. I researched how long to cook it, but this didn't help much because every single source gave me an entirely different answer. (I have, for the record, made several delicious and successful turkeys.)

My husband likes the giblets and his mom always uses them in the gravy. I find this disgusting, but I don't really eat gravy anyway except on fake mashed potatoes at fast-food restaurants. I found my cat trying to get the giblets in the bag in the sink, so I went ahead and dumped the bag into some water to boil them. Then I made my husband cut them up. But here, when they boiled over, was the first gross moment of my cooking adventure.

cooking, Christmas

Still with me? It stays bad.

The turkey was in for four hours and I did use a thermometer to check the temperature, but I must have not stuck it in the right place or deep enough. When we had everything else ready and cut into the turkey, it was very much uncooked. I couldn't accept it. I was so upset. "It can't be!" I wailed. I was about to cry. Everyone (my mom, grandma and husband) said, "it's OK." "IT'S NOT OK!!!!!" I said. It wasn't. I spent $25 on that turkey. I planned everything for a week. I got up extra early to put it in. All I wanted was a simple, relaxing Christmas. The final solution was to cut pieces off and microwave them so we could eat right away. I got past my tears and got to work on the gravy.

The gravy. I had made it before because my mother-in-law is bent on teaching me. I do want to learn, but I couldn't remember how. So I turned to my trusty friend Betty Crocker. I poured out the drippings, but there was something rather solid crusted onto the pan, and we weren't sure if we were supposed to use it in the gravy. I know my MIL uses all the crap in the bottom of the pan. I found out that my mom, a very good cook, actually never learned to make gravy. We were both gravy novices, and soon things became disastrous. First, I was to take two tablespoons of the fat off the drippings, and discard the rest of the fat. Only I couldn't tell any fat from any drippings. The whole thing ended up in the pan. We kept adding flour and water and trying to break up that stuff in the pan. My grandma came over and tried to salvage our mess but couldn't. We ended up with something you may accurately describe as "lumpy," I suppose. My husband noted that one could use a fork to eat it.


cooking, Christmas

So we didn't really have gravy, and the turkey was microwaved. We tested my oven temperature accuracy, and it's fine. I think that high altitude played a role, and perhaps the turkey was slightly frozen, too. I just have a fear of overcooked, dried out turkey, so it's a balancing act, I suppose.


For Christmas, my dear husband gave me a beautiful red leather jacket and a lovely watch. I also got a gift certificate to the local yarn store from my mom. Yay!

I have been fascinated by beer bread lately, and my husband found this. It's the mix, and you just add a beer or ginger ale:


I can't believe I don't have a black scarf, but I need one for my new red jacket. Unfortunately, my Liesel scarf is coming along very slowly. I barely have two feet. I may have to buy a cheapo one for now.

knitting, scarves

I also nearly completed one of the Bittersweet Teak Gauntlets from "Boutique Knits."

The completed piece looks like this:

gloves/mitts,knitting projects

Then you fold it and sew up the side, leaving a hole for the thumb. After that, it needs a seed stitch band around the wrist. Here it is folded, but not sewn.

gloves/mitts,knitting projects


I had set this tiny tree on the floor for a few minutes because it was in my way. My cat seemed to think it was just her size and sat very cutely by it for some time. Of course, as soon as I grabbed the camera, she started to book it, but I almost caught her looking up very adorably.



Today is the day after Christmas, and it's snowy and windy out. In Albuquerque, we are sort of scared of snow. But I really want to go out and do some shopping, and it's not sticking yet. Nothing fancy, and the Cottonwood area is right by my house. I also thought of stopping by Savers. I have discovered that if you are willing to hunt, you can find some great secondhand clothes. I recently got a really well-made Ann Taylor embroidered and pleated skirt for $5.99.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Back is blocked

I finally finished the back of my "Soldier Sweater" from "Runway Knits." I thought it would never end. It's not that big, but it's just lots of dull ribbing. I had to stretch it a lot when I blocked it, and the before and after is shown below. I know you can't read the rulers in the photos.

Soldier's Sweater
Soldier's Sweater

Eventual finished product:
knitting projects, sweater,Runway Knits

I'm on my way to the grocery store. I am still trying to focus on preparing food at home, though this week has been hectic and I have grabbed food on the go a few times when I was unprepared. I also oinked out on burger, fries, onion rings and a malt today, so I'm feeling awfully good about myself!

I'm all ready for Christmas. We kept gift-giving small and since my MIL and SIL will be out of town, we are just going to stay home -- for the first time! -- and prepare a turkey dinner, since we missed Thanksgiving.

Well, cat is vomiting as I speak, so I'm off to tend to that.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where bad art goes to die

I am not a person with an appreciation for fine art. Call me uncultured, I don't care. I jut don't know anything about it and don't really get into it.

Today, I was tearing away the pages of my Ripley's Believe It or Not! day-at-a-time calendar, which I don't seem to look at for months at a time, and found that yesterday's page had an entry about a museum of BAD art.


Naturally, I checked it out, and you can too by clicking here: MOBA, Art Too Bad To Be Ignored.

The art is bad, but the descriptions really make the site. I especially like the one where a man painted something and sent it to a friend, who sent it right back. He was sad, but didn't want it on his own wall, either. He found out about the Museum of Bad Art and knew he had found a home for this fine painting.

It's super-duper funny that much of the art is discovered in trash cans. And funnier yet that a lot of the rest is donated directly by the humbled artist himself.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On the needles

What? You're dying to know what works in progress I have going? Well let me share:

I am working on the Zigzag socks from "Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Sock Book." I like the solid ones in the photo, but I'm using yarn I had hand-painted. I don't know if it's just because I'm an inexperienced yarn dyer or if other yarns pool strangely, but I can already see it happening. The nice thing about a solid is that you can see the cables better. But that's OK, because I immediately screwed up the cables. I am not willing to start over, so I figure if I do it right from here on out, it won't be too noticeable. I'm not very motivated with this project, to tell the truth. So I'll do a little here and a little there. I knit and knit and it never gets any bigger.

socks, knitting projects, knittingsocks, knitting projects, knitting

As I said in a previous post or two, I'm really excited about these fingerless mitts from "Boutique Knits."
I finally got my yarn and needles (size 1 and 2, but sock needles are too short. They are knitted flat, so I ordered circulars). Then the cheap circulars I bought immediately splintered. I already complained about that, but basically I am waiting on the replacements. I'm only two rows in, hardly enough to bother with a photo.

gloves/mittsknitting needles

I'm still working on the Soldier Sweater from "Runway Knits." This is another one that I have trouble working on. It's sort of dull. I'm doing the back now and it's just 1x1 ribbing for inch after inch. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. At least it's a small sweater, so it won't go on for too long. After this, though, the next boring part will be the sleeves. I'll do those simultaneously on circulars to avoid SSS (second sleeve [or sock] syndrome). Mine is made from Cascade 220 (nice and economical wool!) in a deep burgundy.

knitting projects, sweater,Runway Knits
Runway Knits,yarn,knitting projects, sweater

My newest project is the Liesel scarf, a free pattern. I wanted a soft, cozy black scarf with some personality. Scarves can be so tedious to make, so I wanted something with a pattern to follow. I had previously made a shawl from Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk yarn in black. It was an ugly shawl and I never used it. So I ripped it out and am using the yarn for this.

knitting, scarvesknitting, scarves

Finally, I plan to make my first quilt, a baby one, which I mentioned earlier. Here is the fabric I'm using. All I have knowledge-wise to go on is this book from the library. I also am now the proud owner of a rotary cutter and mat, and a quilters ruler. Who needs a $155 class, right? Right? I hope...


Friday, December 5, 2008

Money-saving tips that don't suck

Who'd of thunk it that I would be able to offer financial advice? Me -- the one who racked up tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt in her 20s? Well, I recently finished paying off a $30,000 home equity consolidation loan and have now officially paid off my very-dragged-out bachelor's degree plus my 2001 car and some credit card debt.

With the state of the economy, not to mention the state of the newspaper business, my husband and I are buckling down.

Here are some ways I've been saving:

1. Why pay for a gym membership when the area community center has a free workout room with new equipment and a locker room? It's not a huge workout room, but it has all the basics. Your tax dollars pay for these community centers, and they have lots to offer, so take advantage.

2. Use the library. Yes, I forgot all about the library. I probably have enough novels stacked up to last me two years, but I've been borrowing craft-related books and saving money.

3. Shop thrift stores. I've always been turned off by used clothes, but I sifted through and picked up only nice brands. I got a beautiful, well-made Ann Taylor skirt for $5.99. I draw the line at used shoes, though.

4. Eat at home. This is a hard one for me. I like to grab lunch out on the way to work, although I usually get something really cheap like a 6" Subway sandwich. I've been grocery shopping and cooking. It takes a little advance planning, but it saves.

5. Pick a grocery store and take advantage of its frequent shopper program. I like Smith's. It's close and brand new. It also has a little organic section. I know some people will see the frequent shopper card as a bit "big brother," but it keeps track of what I like to buy and then sends me relevant coupons. It also sent me a $6 off coupon for my entire purchase.

6. Only buy what you need and NO JUNK! In other words, don't use coupons just to use coupons and end up buying stuff you didn't want in the first place. Don't spend money on cookies and junk food. It's hard to balance healthful eating and spending wisely, but it's better to skip the cookies and spend more on leaner ground beef.

7. Shop frequently. If you live close to a grocery store, you may want to shop more often and buy a little at a time. This works best for me because I mostly feed just myself. My husband and I rarely have meals together due to our schedules, so we just sort of fend for ourselves. We often prefer different foods, so if I buy too much, it might go bad. Likewise, my freezer is a disorganized pit, so I try to just buy fresh meats as I need them so I don't forget what's in there. It also means I'm buying just what I need and wasting less.

8. Cut out all the little extras. It's easy to see something for $6 or $7 and think it's no big deal, but those things all add up.

9. Rethink entertainment. Things like movies may be out. We pay for satellite TV and movie channels and will continue to do so, but that means I won't be spending money renting movies or using Netflicks. I'll just have to watch what's offered on HBO. Maybe some people would rather use Netflicks and eliminate cable.

10. Fix stuff. My dress boots were making a lot of noise recently. I looked at the heels and they were worn to metal nubs. The toes were also shot. In the past, I would have chucked them and bought new ones, but who has $100 or more bucks for new boots right now? I don't, so I took them to a shoe repair and got new heels and toes for $20. They look brand new. I used to be really wasteful and buy a new watch when my battery died, figuring I was tired of it anyway, but now I will be replacing the battery instead.

11. Ask your workplace (if you still have one) if there are any discounts available. If you don't have the option of a free workout area (see #1), many bigger companies have deals with gyms. I get a 17% discount on my monthly bill through Verizon thanks to work, and also discounts on accessories and phones.

12. Take advantage of rebates. And don't forget to mail them in. You can really get great deals, but they are betting that lots of people won't bother/remember to mail them in. Walgreens has a monthly rebate program. Grab a pamphlet when you walk in and see what's entirely free. Usually they will have 1-6 items that are completely free after rebate. Sometimes they aren't any good to me, like this month's bald-man head wipeys, but sometimes they're great. And FREE! If you live with somebody and dine with them frequently, and Entertainment Book can be a great value with all those buy 1, get 1 deals.

13. (adding as I think of things) Like to read? Use to trade books. You give away your old ones and request new ones. Recycles and saves money.

I must admit that younger generations are quite wasteful, but I'm changing my ways right now, and it doesn't really have to hurt!

Sniffly and sick

Ugh. A cold has finally caught up to me. I started fighting it before my trip to Cancun. I took Airborne like crazy. I have found that it only delays the cold, so I took it to get me through the trip. I felt it lingering there, waiting for its chance to pounce, so I was hoping to just get it over with before returning to work tomorrow. I had a few days off at home after the trip. Unfortunately, it took its time and I'm just now getting sick.


Here is my latest item. I made the Urchin hat out of Manos del Uruguay 100% wool. My gauge was off, so I cast on for the largest size. It's really tight around the band, but I can manage. It's a very quick knit, and perfect for thick/thin spun yarn.

hats,knitting projects

hats,knitting projects


I have been anxious to start the Bittersweet Teak Gauntlets from "Boutique Knits."

I bought the book just for this pattern, and ordered the exact yarn. Unfortunately a wrong ZIP code delayed the arrival. I was also a bit annoyed because they are knit flat, and the only tiny needles I had are very short DPNs (double pointed needles) that couldn't accommodate 75 stitches. So I ordered some inexpensive but beautiful Harmony wood circulars from Knit Picks. I figured I could use them when I get the nerve to do two-at-a-time magic loop socks. Well, I started making my mitts last night, and after knitting a swatch (size 2 needles too small, size 3 too big, so I guess I'll do 2s and cast on a few extra stitches) I started. By row 2, the tip of the needle had splintered and my yarn was catching. I called Knit Picks today and they quickly replaced them -- no charge and I don't have to send the old ones back. The customer service was so great, so I wanted to get that out there.

knitting needles


Next up for sewing projects is my first quilt. I have taken no classes, and I'm just winging it and using a book for reference. I'm starting with a baby quilt so that I don't invest too much. I also need to finish a skirt I started and was having trouble fitting. It's very simple, so I just need to put a few minutes of work into it, but I'm just not motivated.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I was an excellent reader at age 5

I wasn't going to do this one because at first I was afraid I wouldn't have read very many. Afraid they'd all be fancy-pants boring books that people read to sound educated, and I don't like those books. But on a quick review, I think I've read quite a few, so off we go! Bold means I've read 'em.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible ((not the whole thing))
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller ((I only got part way through. I thought it was quite humorous, and at the same time was going nowhere at all.))
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ((Tried, but couldn't get through it.))
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley ((Only book I've bothered to re-read! I love this book -- esp. that New Mexico (where I live) is the land of savages. Figures! We always get dissed like dat))
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (So hard to read, but truly wonderful.)
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73.The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams ((I read this as I started my current job. There are rabbits all over the campus, and I eyed them suspiciously for some time.))
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

OK, so now that I've done it, it appears I have not read as many as I thought. I can't believe "East of Eden" isn't on here! It's one of my top 2 favorites, the other being "Brave New World."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

No more balmy 80 degrees for a while

I'm back from Cancun! I didn't even tell you I was going! Mark was going to cover a basketball tourney there, and I went along for fun. We went to an all-inclusive resort called Moon Palace. This means that once we got there, we didn't have to pay for anything. Not food, not liquor, nothing. Not even tips, though we tipped anyway because the service is just outstanding. You'll never, ever see service like this in the U.S., even by waiters who expect tips. Even at the buffets, they carry your plates back to the table for you. And your drink will never be empty. Hungry but too lazy to leave your room? Room service is free, too.

We found most of the restaurants to be pretty mediocre -- most are buffets. But they have a few that require you to dress a little nicer, and those were incredibly good. You order whatever you want, plus they bring you extra stuff, and then you just walk out without paying! It's a trip, and hard to get used to. It rather reminded me of "Defending Your Life" where Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks are in Judgment City post-death and are eating at a similar restaurant. You eat whatever you want and never have to pay. The waiter says in an Italian accent, "You wanta nine pie? I bringa you NINE PIE!" and they say that they don't want nine pies, but he insists. Then he walks around the corner and instantly brings back nine packaged pies. It was like that -- the food you order materializes instantly, and it's free, and they keep giving you stuff you didn't even want. Plus, even booze is free! FREE!

On to the pictures. I once again successfully looked awful in every photo. Actually, I spent most of the trip sweaty and unshowered, wandering the beach or pool areas until it was time to get ready for dinner.

Our room, it had a hot tub/bath tub in the middle:

Notice the well-placed pillar. It's positioned just right so that when you wake up in the middle of the night and need the bathroom, you smack right into it. I swear there were faint blood stains on there. Mark had to set up pillows at the base in the hopes that would help stop him.


The grounds:

Doesn't this remind you of The Love Toilet on "Saturday Night Live"? The funny thing is that as I googled that to find a photo, I found a photo of this exact seat saying "Doesn't this remind you of the ..." (Also, I'm not sure why when I google "The Love Toilet" Saturday Night Live "Victoria Jackson" I get lots of photos of farm animals and equipment.)

Our back door was one of these, right on the beach:

Mark was working, after all. So I spent a lot of time watching him type. Thank God the guacamole was plentiful!

He was there to cover a basketball tournament, the Cancun Challenge, which was in a rather odd location, and had few spectators:

This sign at the hotel warned about crocodiles. I have a hard time believing there are really crocodiles right there in the middle of the hotel grounds, and this is what Mark thinks of the sign:

But an employee giving me a ride (it's a big place) said it's true, and then tauntingly asked, "What, are you scaaaarred of crocodiles?" Uh, hell yeah I'm scared of crocodiles. Freak.

You know how I was saying I got a ride because the place is big? Well, it's huge. And we walked over to this bar outside along the road where the golf course/spa is supposed to be. Well, we didn't realize that's the waiting area for the shuttles to the building that was at least a mile away. We just started walking, and wondered what we got ourselves into. I saw a sign with pictures and names of animals in the area. Then I slowly looked over and saw a whole herd of coatimundis coming our way! As an animal lover, this may have been my favorite part of the trip. They were not shy, and came meandering over to see if we had any treats. Mark only had a beverage, so he offered some ice. This did not please the coatimundis.


One night, we had dinner with a couple Mark knows who just happened to be out there. They were there with some friends.

Finally, these little birds were always looking for a snack. There were also birds that looked to me like crows but had a very funny sound like a guinea pig that's freaking out. They woke us up a lot.

New Mexico: Better than Old Mexico

Oh, all right. I'm just kidding. I just got back from Cancun, and it was fabulous. But I'm a bit pissed about one thing.

You see, Mexico has its problems. Such as the narcos running about chopping off people's heads. And, what, hundreds of women murdered in Juarez? Not to mention that everybody's poor (looks like we're joining the club over here) and that Americans are often abducted and are urged not to travel in many parts of the country. So, I guess I just don't get it when Mexico considers some nice lady and her knitting a threat to international security. You see, they confiscated my knitting needles. And not just any knitting needles, but my BRAND-NEW ADDI TURBOS!!!!!!!!! Addis are basically the Mercedes Benz of knitting needles, and I had just paid $17 for them right before the trip. Oh, and they didn't just confiscate them, they took scissors and cut the needles off. In front of me. Essentially ripping my still-beating heart from my chest.

Now, before you non-knitters go off and start agreeing with them, let me say a few things.
1. The TSA has approved knitting needles for taking on planes. I accept that the TSA is part of America and not Mexico. But I always take my knitting on board to keep me occupied, and it's never been an issue before. I was allowed to take it on the plane on the way to Mexico.

2. Please view the photo below and tell me how this apparatus is any more dangerous than a number of other things you can take on a plane. Say, a sharpened pencil. Or the permitted "Scissors - metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches" or "Screwdrivers (seven inches or less in length)." If you're worried I may take the cord and choke a pilot to death, I could probably do that better with the tie from my jacket, which was also with me.

Addi Turbos

Consider that if I wrapped my hand around my kntting needle in the manner you would have to in order to stab someone, I would have less than 2 inches left to dig into the person. I could do better damage with a full-length sharpened pencil, which I'm sure even Mexico allows onto planes.

Whether I'm in the wrong or the right, I was still filled with a rage I have never before known when that cabron yanked it from my hands and snip-snipped the cords -- and in the process let half my stitches fall off the cord.