6.30.2010

The best advice I ever ignored

When I left college and moved into my first house, the seller gave me some parting advice: Start getting rid of stuff now.

He was heading to Florida after nearly 30 years and was overwhelmed at how much he'd accumulated. Even with garage sales and kids coming to town to take some of it, he still had more than he knew what to do with.

Of course, I was young (and stupid) and paid no heed. 14 years later, I am paying for my mistake.

As I pack up to move to a new home with Kurt, I am shocked at how much stuff I've acquired. When it's spread throughout the house, it doesn't seem like much, but consolidated into boxes, it reaches absurd proportions.

And I'm only one person! And not even a shopper! I can't image how much a family of four must have to deal with if they're ever crazy enough to move.

The problem isn't so much the boxing up and hauling off (although that's no fun), it's the deciding. Do I want to keep this? Is it worth moving? I know I haven't used this in five years, but someday it might be handy! Would Goodwill even take this?

Aaarrgggghhh!

The upshot of this experience is that the bar has been raised for me to buy something in the future. Stuff is clearly the enemy, and I want no more of it than I truly need.

Maybe someday I can tell this to a young person buying my home. No doubt they'll pay no attention.

Photo by mpopp

6.28.2010

Psychoanalysis in a cone

Who knew that ice cream could be so revealing? A couple recent trips out for dessert have been very telling about Kurt's and my personalities.

Our differences are first apparent when it comes time to choose a flavor. I take a glance, see something intriguing, and call it done. Kurt ... mulls. And mulls. And then mulls some more. Then he asks for a sample. And, you guessed it, mulls.

The upshot to all this mulling and sampling: he orders vanilla.

Haw! I think the fact that I find this charming bodes well (both for our relationship and my sanity).

I never order vanilla. I know what vanilla tastes like. I want Hawaiian tropic (which I had at Ono Gelato in Paia, HI - heaven!) or coffee toffee or cantaloupe. Something I've never tried before. And no sampling - the surprise is half the fun!

My Kurt wants a sure thing, something familiar and delicious that he knows he'll enjoy. He's all about life's simple pleasures. Thus, vanilla. (He does step out now and then and more often than not says, "I shoulda had vanilla.")

On our trip to Huddles last weekend, another difference emerged. Huddles offers 8 flavors of frozen yogurt in a self-serve fashion and a couple dozen toppings ranging from coconut to M&Ms to fresh raspberries.

Kurt added a few berries and called it good. Me? I raided the bar. Gummi bears, mochi, chocolate chips, berries. I'd have added more, but a line was forming.

Again, Kurt keeps it simple. Reliable. Alright .. and healthy. Me? I unleash my inner five year old.

While we may never be able to share a dish of ice cream, I think these differences are healthy. He's the responsible one who advises caution and makes sure things work out well for us. I lighten things up and make sure we have spontaneity and new experiences. He reminds me of the simple pleasures of daily life. I take us on great adventures. We're both better for the balance, I think.

Photo by roboppy

6.24.2010

Worth a look?

A sign caught out eye when we were in Hawaii last month: Coming soon ~ Braco and His Healing Gaze. There was a picture of a man with long hair, staring into the camera with a small, faintly creepy smile.

Reading on, I learned this was a Croatian healer named Braco, and for only $8, I could spend 6 minutes staring into his eyes in a hotel ballroom. Um ...

Sign me up!!!

Not that I believe that Braco can heal me, but what a wonderfully bizarre scam experience. What would the other gazees be like? Does Braco ever bust out laughing? Unfortunately, Kurt didn't think extending our time in Hawaii for my 6 minutes with Braco was a good plan. Husbands.

So I googled, hoping Braco might make his way to the midwest. What was I thinking? He'll be in Honolulu, Kona, and Maui. Braco is no fool.

Photo by katharina_z

6.22.2010

Maui must-do: Haleakala

The Haleakala volcano is the most beautiful pain in the butt you'll ever encounter (unless you run into Naomi Campbell on a bad day). You drive two hours up a winding road with occasional guard rails to 10k feet only to experience bitter cold, relentless winds, and unpredictable weather. The fact that you just left the glorious warmth of the Maui beaches makes the experience all the more harsh. In spite of the difficulty, I can wholeheartedly say that our trip to the summit of Haleakala was one of the highlights of our stay in Maui.

My tip to maximize the fun and minimize the pain?

Skip sunrise and take in the sunset! Everyone talks about sunrise on Haleakala. It's (in)famous, and tourists get up at 3am (!!!), drive up a mountain in the dark, fight through crowds, and don protective gear just to experience the first rays of light peeking over the caldera. While I have no doubt that sunrise is beautiful, sunset is also stunning and offers several advantages.

1) Sleep ~ Unless you've just arrived and are still on mainland time, a 3am wake-up on vacation is probably not your idea of a good time. By going at sunset you can have lunch, enjoy the afternoon in Kula, and still arrive in plenty of time.

2) Traffic ~ Since the crowds want to see the famous Haleakala sunrise, the two lane road is often backed up all the way down the mountain. Some people never make it to the top and get to enjoy the sunrise over the switchbacks in bumper to bumper traffic. Definitely not worth getting up early for.

3) Parking ~ Even if you make it to the summit in time for sunrise, you will need a place to put your car. The lots fill up early, especially at the prime lookout points. In contrast, on the day we visited at sunset, the main lot was less than half full.

4) Warmth ~ By no means is sunset on Haleakala warm, but standing outside during the last warmth of the day sure beats standing out during the coldest part of the night. By the time the temperature starts to drop, you will be back in the car with the heater cranked up, heading down to dinner. Regardless of when you go, plan to bring long pants, closed toed shoes, and a jacket, preferably with a hood. Some hotels have blankets they will loan you as well. This isn't paranoia. With temps 30 degrees below the beach communities and winds up to 40mph, you will need all the layers you can get.

5) Wind ~ The wind generally comes from the east at the summit. This means those wanting to view the sunrise must face into the wind, while those there for sunset have the wind at their back.

Good luck if you choose to go! I hope you are rewarded with conditions as wonderful as we enjoyed and a view as beautiful as this:
Haleakala sunset

6.21.2010

Breaking news: Snowball is a girl car

Snowball
Can't say I didn't see this coming. A recent study found that Honda CR-Vs (like my beloved Snowball) are more apt to be registered to women than to men. Other "girl cars" were the Volkswagen Beetle, Hyundai Tuscon, and Nissan Rogue.

While none of this was exactly news, a couple of the findings were surprising to me. First, where's the mini-van? Surely, the ultimate "mom car" would have more female registrations than male ones. I bet this is because only 36% of cars in the US are registered to women, meaning not all drivers are technically car owners. Perhaps families like to keep it simple by having all of the car registrations in one name? Maybe men are more apt to "take one for the team" and handle the unpleasantness of car buying for the family?

The second fact that surprised me was that the Bugatti (a sportscar - for those of you like myself who had never heard of one) was owned exclusively by men in the US. 100%. You don't see numbers like that very often. I wonder how long until a woman with $200k to spare changes that.

6.20.2010

Even vegetarians need a little love (and hot dogs!)

Veggie dogsVeggie dog #2
I've blogged before about my life list - my compilation of things I am intent on experiencing (not so much accomplishing, it's not that kind of list) before I go paws up. One item on the list is "have a hot dog at the ballpark". Given that I don't eat mammals, this one seemed unlikely. I thought I might stumble upon a turkey dog at the ballpark, but it never occurred to me that a veggie dog was an option.

Until my father-in-law mailed me PETA's list of the Top Ten Vegetarian Friendly Ballparks. Not only do parks serving veggie dogs exist, I could even get one on my annual visit to Comerica Park (#7) in Detroit. Wahoo! The past two years I made do with nachos or chicken gyros (good, but not exactly traditional) when the whole time there were veggie dogs waiting to be found.

Last weekend, I visited Comerica to watch the Tigers beat the Pirates and knock #92 off my life list. Before the game started, I headed to the Brushfire Grill along the third base line where the dogs were supposedly sold. I'll admit I was skeptical. The Detroit crowd just didn't seem like a veggie dog lovin' bunch (I still wonder how many they sell during a given game - I'm guessing single digits).

Not only did the Brushfire Grill have veggie dogs, they also had veggie burgers and vegetarian Italian sausage. I had found the promised land! I ordered a veggie dog basket (2 dogs, not-so-delicious cole slaw, and chips), loaded the dogs up with mustard and relish, and headed to my seat.

Other than a few flecks that you wouldn't find in a beef/pork/random parts dog, the veggie dogs were indistinguishable from the real thing (confirmed by my carnivorous husband who snagged a bite). They also felt more right than chicken gyros ever could.

6.19.2010

Handwriting fail

We had a power outage last night. 14 hours with no lights and no water (since we're on a well). While it was fun at first, around hour 12, we were no longer amused. To pass the time, I decided to write out a story that Kurt and I came up with in Hawaii. Not wanting to burn through my last hour of battery life, I chose to handwrite the tale and type it up later.

No one told me that handwriting falls into the 'use it or lose it' category of skills. About halfway through the first page, my hand was uncomfortable and legibility was fading fast. As I thought about it, I realized that other than signing my name (given the scrawl, it can only loosely be called "writing"), I hardly ever write anything by hand anymore.

This got me wondering if they even teach handwriting to kids these days. Obviously, you need to know how to write, but I don't see the value in spending hours perfecting one's cursive.

Of course, handwriting lessons were questionable even in my day. It only took one look at the teacher's signature page of our yearbook to see that teachers didn't write in the formal script they were teaching us.

In second grade I took this as license to write however I darn well pleased. My reward: a "C" in handwriting. Despite my valid reasoning that if you could read it, how "wrong" could it be, the fascist teacher wouldn't budge and my C stood. Instead of fighting the power, I sold out and jumped through her hoops (I was only 8!) and got As from then on. If she could only see me now.

Image by AndrewBuck

6.18.2010

Pointless loyalty

This afternoon, Kurt and I are heading to the Michigan State Campus. As always, we'll feed the ducks and then head to the Dairy Store for a cone.

In addition to several rotating flavors, the Dairy Store stocks a selection of flavors named after Big 10 (Big 13? 57?) teams, such as Buckeye Blitz, Nittany White, and Purdue Tracks.

Being an IU alumna, I feel compelled to order the Hoosier Strawberry. Not because strawberry is my favorite (it isn't), but out of some warped sense of loyalty to ol' IU.

Does it matter? No. Does anyone care? Clearly not.

Still, I can't quite pass up the chance to represent the alma mater, even in a completely meaningless way. Maybe they will run out, and I'll try something new. Anything but Purdue Tracks ...

Photo by kern.justin

6.17.2010

La-di-da-di-da

There are two ways to approach life. One involves planning and analyzing and taking control of situations. The other involves heading off blindly in pursuit of whatever catches your fancy, assuming things will work themselves out along the way. It goes without saying that my academic, detail-oriented husband favors the first method. Me? Not so much. While I obsessively stake out Things I Must Do (or Eat or See) on vacation, I forget details like operating hours and addresses and maps. Kurt calls it the "La-di-da-di-da method". To his chagrin, my system, which should absolutely not work, manages to work like a charm.

Case in point:

We were returning to Kailua-Kona for our last two nights on the Big Island. I had made reservations (See, I can plan!) at a cute little inn called the Hula Girl. As we arrived in town after dark, Kurt turned to me and asked, "What's the address?" Me: "Um ...." I scrambled through my bag with my plane reservations and lists of Things We Must Do, but there was no address to be found. In my defense, I did print out an email from the Hula Girl. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite the right email and contained no address or directions. Even when I try to be organized, my subconscious thwarts me.

At this point, we were tired from a long day of sightseeing and horseback riding and wanted nothing more than to get out of the car and settled in our room. We tried the number listed at the bottom of the email but got voicemail. While Kurt considered the situation (and looked chagrined), I said, "No worries! We'll just drive until we find it. How hard can it be?"

He stared at me.

"Seriously," I said, "It's yellow. Yellow! No problem. How many yellow houses can there be?"

He stared some more but finally started driving down the nearest major street. As we turned down a residential street, I could tell that he wasn't feeling my plan.

"Ok," I said, "Let's turn around and go to the internet cafe. We can get the address from the website there."

He instantly perked up and headed to the nearest point where he could turn around. As he was driving, he said (half joking, half exasperated), "It could be anywhere! I mean, it could be that house." He pointed at a nearby house.

Wait. That house was yellow. And three stories. And had shutters.

"Turn in!" I yelled. "I think that's it!"

He pulled into the drive, and we both gawked up at the house. Surely, it couldn't be .. and yet ....

A man approached, and I rolled down my window.

"Rebecca?" he asked, smiling. Kurt gaped.

Me? La-di-da-di-da.

Photo by incurable_hippie

6.16.2010

Is this thing on?

Wow! It's been a crazy 7 months - a wedding, a semester of commuting between two cities, house shopping and eventually buying, and a delayed-but-much-needed honeymoon. While things haven't exactly settled down (we need to find time to actually move into the new house and all), I do want to give the blog some attention. I started with a makeover using the fab new Blogger template designer and will follow up with ... wait for it ... actual content (gasp!). Stay tuned!