Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Now, more than ever, thankful

Tomorrow, three-quarters of my family will be together for Thanksgiving (that's just counting the nuclear family of two parents and two kids).

My parents and my brother work at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, and thus all three will be working on Thanksgiving, preparing for the retail nightmare that is Black Friday. Luckily, my parents don't have to be at work until 4 p.m., so Kyle and I are hosting our parents and his sister and nephew for a Thanksgiving lunch, noon-ish.

My brother, on the other hand, will be working 9 a.m.-7 p.m. -- he won't even make it to his in-laws Thanksgiving. I usually refrain my cursing in this blog, as it's supposed to be family-friendly, blog name notwithstanding, but I mean this deeply and sincerely: fuck you, Wal-Mart.

In the past, I've taken on the whole Thanksgiving meal myself; I have a Martha/martyr facet to my personality. This year, Kyle decided he wanted to fry the turkey, and anything that gets cooked outdoors is his territory (I happily concede this). That saves me a lot of time, effort and space in the refrigerator, as I usually brine my bird, a three-day process. I asked my parents to bring some wine, and Kyle asked his parents and sister to bring something simple, so I still get to do the rest.


Simple Green Salad
Deep-Fried Turkey
Savory Dressing with Sage, Cranberries and Pecans
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Mr. Sykes' Cranberry Relish
A selection of assorted olives and pickles
Brussel Sprouts with Cream and Peppered Bacon
Velvet Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Sauce or Gravy
Freshly-baked Yeast Rolls
Pumpkin Pie with real whipped cream

(I'm hoping someone makes a sweet potato casserole.)

We'll be offering a selection of beverages, including a fantastic white called Conundrum, Champagne, two reds my parents are bringing, Coke Zero, coffee, eggnog, Silk Pumpkin Spice, and milk. There's also a wide range of beers to choose from: Guinness, Blue Moon's Full Moon Winter Ale, various Sam Adams, and--let's not forget--Budweiser and Bud Light.

Mentally preparing for such a big meal makes me introspective. It's strange; my fortunes tend be out of step with that of the nation's. I can remember struggling in my first "job" after dropping out of graduate school, while the rest of the world was getting rich off the technology boom. And now that the country's mood has darkened, I find myself in an enviable place: a steady job that I really enjoy, likable and friendly colleagues, a home of my own and a man with whom I look forward to spending the rest of my life. Throw in my generally good health, some true friends, and family nearby and I've got a pretty damn sweet life!

I have so much to be thankful for, and it doesn't take a holiday to remind me; the news does a good enough job. More often than not, I wake up every day with the realization that I'm happier now than I've ever been. How many people can say that?

And while I'm well aware that everything in life changes, and times will get tough at some point, right now, this year, at this moment, I'm very thankful. I try to soak it up - really enjoy it for what it is now. I'm so blessed.

Thank you, my friends, my colleagues, the people who've randomly stumbled across this. Thank you for reading. I hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful as well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Busted Most Elegantly

I have a very lovely friend who just happens to a) have a sharp eye for editing, and b) be a master of English grammar. Oh, and c) be incredibly witty.

After reading my post from yesterday about Busch Gardens, she wrote to me. She wanted to point out a minor slip in grammar she found, twice, in the post.

I found it pretty damn funny (and, alas, spot-on). So funny that it would be a crime not to share it with others.

I'm sorry that you are distressed with regard to Busch Gardens. It is Sean's favorite park as well. We discovered that February is a great month to go there. Pick a Monday, and you will be certain to avoid all field trips and most tourists. It was dead there, and Sean got to re-ride almost every coaster without any waiting time.

Now I must confess to my own source of distress. My most articulate and well-written friend-- you--has fallen prey to the misuse of the world only. Examples from your recent blog:

"Busch family only has one seat on the board" and "like only purchasing fish"

Sigh. Has the Busch family had their fortune reduced to owning only a seat on the board? Have they lost their homes, cans of peas, and their personal underwear? Is everything lost? And, are they truly purchasing only fish for their parks? Have they stopped contributing to their employees benefit plans? Must visitors bring their own toilet paper? Is the park being run on generators powered by windmills and serviced by kind volunteers? I am now more distressed than you with regard to the misfortune of the Busch family. How sad for them -- much less for thirsty park-goers! Please keep me abreast of the status of the poor Busch family. I think I might just send them a can of peas and a roll of toilet paper.


We do what we can...

(I adore you. I simply could not resist pointing out your continued, yet unfortunate, misplacement of the word only. If you weren't so brilliant, I would not bother. Feel free to amuse yourself at my expense as well. I love you!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Busch Gardens for sale? That's bad news.

Busch Gardens rocks in part because the Busch family was personally involved, pouring millions back into the parks (they bought SeaWorld in the 90s).

Now that Anheuser-Busch is simply one more cog in the global machine that is InBev, the Busch family only has one seat on the board, and rumors are swirling that InBev is thinking about casting the parks aside; they need money to pay back the significant debt they took on in buying Anheuser-Busch in the first place.

Will new owners reinvest profit into the parks like the Busch family did? Or will they become just another business, more concerned about fattening the bank accounts of their investors than providing an exceptional experience to park goers?

A smaller, yet burning, question is this: will there still be free beer at Busch Gardens?

Goofing aside, this actually bums me out. I love Busch Gardens - it's my favorite amusement park and it has the best roller coasters. And you can get guys to go with you, due to the terrorizing SheiKra (now floorless!) and aforementioned free beer.

SeaWorld was on a slow dip into obscurity until Busch Entertainment Corporation bought it. They cleaned it back up and invested money, bringing on new attractions (and a new, related park, Aquatica). Not to mention - free beer.

And all of Busch Entertainment parks recently implemented some seriously green initiatives, like only purchasing fish (for animals and guests) from sustainable fisheries, switching to biodegradable plates, forks, knives and spoons, even removing recyclable materials from trash by hand. Not only green, but probably expensive - will the parks' new owners give a damn about the environment? Or the well-being of the animals?

As a beer enthusiast, I was already concerned about the InBev deal, and what it would mean for not only the beer, but the breweries located throughout the nation, including Jacksonville. As a park-goer, I'm seeing an even gloomier future.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More of "that bed" and the season's first fire!

Over the weekend, Kyle decided we should see what we could make out of the "bed" that's resting in three boxes in our garage. I have been uneasy with this. The company did refund my money, so in essence I do not own this bed anymore - I shouldn't make use of it. However, the prevailing argument (outside the fact that I'm being ridculous) is that the company did tell me to throw it away, so obviously they don't want it anymore - it's up for grabs!

The karma on this feels bad to me, but practicality eventually won. Kyle opens all the boxes, drags the headboard to the bedroom and then looks for the fasteners and assembly instructions.

Except there are none. Not one screw, not a single nail, nary a slip of paper with any sort of advice, direction or explanation to be had.

For Kyle, this was one more irritant in a day full of them (flat tire, malfunctioning pressure washer). For me, it was a relief.

On a positive note, we made our first fire in the fireplace last night!

I loved it. The fireplace is one more thing--along with goodies like the porch and the garage-- about the house that feels like a luxury to me. I have never had a fireplace before, and I love fires (not in a crazy way, just the crackle and the warmth).

And for the first time in my life, I have an actual mantle from which to hang our Christmas stockings! I'm so, so, excited. I love this time of year!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Halloween & Football: Inextricably Linked

For me, anyway.

See, the Florida-Georgia college football game is always held on the last weekend of October. And my die-hard Gator-loving man has to go to that game, must go. So every other year* my Halloween weekend is focused on football, not Halloween.

Which sucks, because I love Halloween! And no, it's not just the chance to dress sort of slutty - many of my past costumes have been pretty chaste (making them downright dowdy in horn-dog, twenty-something Gainesville). No, I love the turning of the year, I love the pagan association, the old myths, jack-o-lanterns, I love all that stuff.

That stuff has no place in tailgating. In fact, out of the little group that traveled to Jacksonville for the game, Kyle and I were the only ones who dressed up. No creativity, I'm telling you.

So Kyle and I went off the Lynch's Irish Pub in our costumes:

Kyle is Gator Man. His costume was quite the hit. Although his bizarre style of dancing probably brought as much attention as his outfit. He's actually had the mask (which sadly, did not make it back to Gainesville) for a while. Our friend Chris brought several back from San Antonio, so that all the boys could be creepy and weird together.

I am ... well, there's no getting around it - I'm dressed as a naughty schoolgirl. I can't really say "slutty," because I'm pretty well covered-up, save my legs, and I was wearing bloomers under the skirt. What can I say? I had everything laying around the house (well, almost: shout-outs to Kim for lending me the bloomers and Gail for the knee-highs!).

There were several highlights: Lynch's patrons usually dress up, they're quick with a Guinness and the band, Blaggards, was highly entertaining. But one image sticks with me:

The Teletubbies.

I was so tickled, so pleased with their arrival, I insisted Gator Man have his photo taken with them for posterity.

Yeah, it was a good night.

Oh, wait... there was a football game, too.

Florida beat the unhloly mess out of Georgia, 49-10, which the 'Dawgs deserved for being such sorry winners last year. It was fun, nice weather, football, blah blah, Gators, blah blah...

(*My alma mater, FSU, holds their homecoming on the last weekend of October every other year, alternating with the third weekend of November. I always go to homecoming, so I skip FL-GA every other year. To be honest, not too many people dress up in Tally at that time, either.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Response from the Bed Baddies

After a few back-and-forths with Home Decorators about returning the bashed bed, I receive this e-mail:

Dear Ms. McIntyre,

Thank you for your email.

I do apologize for the delay. Please discard the bed we are in the process of issuing a refund for the Mino Bed.Our records indicate that your credit card, ending in the last four digits of xxxx will be refunded a total of $722.99 within 7-10 business days for the Mino Bed.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns. Thank you for shopping with Home Decorators Collection. We appreciate your business.


Internet Representative

Uh, whaaaat? I'm supposed to throw the bed away? All 500 pounds of it? The general concensus around here is that it's too expensive to ship back, so they're just writing it off.

That was on the 24th, so I'm waiting until Nov. 7 to see if money magically appears on my HOme Depot Card before I hassle them again.