My Red Star Monday, Nov 3 2008 

My Red Star

2 November 2008

Most of my friends know I have an addiction. 

Actually, I suppose I have many . . . antiques, thrift stores, bargain shopping in general, shoes (that’s a big one—still working to claim control over it), and . . . eBay.  I began shopping on eBay way back in the year 2003, when I first got Kyle’s hand-me-down computer and we called it mine.  Kyle had been shopping (and even occasionally selling) on eBay for a couple of years, and I knew a bit about it.  But, I’d never really gotten involved.  Until I had my own machine, that is, and got a little braver with the internet.  It didn’t take long for me to learn what good deals I could find on (shoes) the cool stuff I collect . . . from all over the world!  No longer confined to my local area thrift stores to shop for (shoes) neat Mickey stuff, or items useable in costuming, I was off and running.

Now, many years later, I have the habit well under control.  I no longer spend hours at a time, or lose sleep searching for (shoes) items I really don’t need.  In fact, sometimes days or even weeks go by without me bothering with (shoes) it at all.  But, I do use it to find (shoes) things I need and/or can use in my business.  And, as such, it has become a very valuable source. 

Tonight, after a weekend at faire, I logged into my eBay account and realized I’d reached a noteworthy milestone:  I’ve earned my Red Star.  I have a “positive feedback” rating of 1000—and with zero negatives!  That means I’ve completed successful, happy transactions, either as seller or (more often) as buyer, with 1000 unique individual other eBayers.  (Multiple transactions with the same eBayer can earn you comments but not points.) 

My photo is rather blurry, ’cause I snapped the picture in the truck on the way home.  I know it’s a little bit goofy, but I’m proud.

And, I’m still working on the shoes thing.


Learning Saturday, Sep 20 2008 


20 September 2008

It is my goal to never stop learning.  Kyle and I enjoy trivia games and puzzles and the History Channel, and dozens of other things, mostly because we love to learn.  Today, we went book shopping so we can learn more about WordPress and how to program for it.  And, I vowed to learn more about this insane upcoming election on the fourth of November.

My picture above is of Kyle moving through the shelves of books at Fry’s, (after already trying at Border’s and buying instead, WordPress for Dummies) in search of a particular elusive title.  It turned out we’ll need to order it online, but we tried to keep our spending local, first. 

In my path of personal edification, this morning, I came across a short video I really think every American should see.  I know we have readers of all backgrounds and religions, and political persuasions, and I love that.  This is a totally non-partisan message regarding our right, our privilege . . . our duty to vote.  If I tried to convey the same message I wouldn’t be half as entertaining, so enjoy:

My big machine is finally moved back into my workshop, by the way.  I should be getting my act together this week, as planned . . . when I’m not reading my new WordPress for Dummies book! 😉


Retail Pilgrimage Sunday, Jun 22 2008 

Retail Pilgrimage

21 June 2008

Summer Solstice

It was wonderful to realize this morning, when I awoke for the first time, that the time was 4:58 a.m.—the same time at which thousands of people had gathered in various places worldwide to celebrate the rising of the sun on the Summer Solstice.  (Stonehenge reported over 30,000 revellers cheered as the sun rose, despite the chilly wetness the morning had to offer.)  As I layed in bed with my husband, and the crazy cat, I was thankful for the new day and the wheel of the year, and as the sky brightened, I snuggled back under the sheet for a little more sleep.

When Kyle and I finally got up, it was mostly because we wanted some time to enjoy our coffee before we headed out to his follow-up visit with the optometrist.  We stopped at the post office, and arrived right on time with Dr. Pham.  Kyle’s eyes got a clean bill of health and when we left there, he was wearing new contact lenses!  Next, came a banking errand, and then the big outing of the day . . . IKEA.

We’d been planning this trip.  It wasn’t even my idea.  Kyle wanted to buy a “Dave.”  That’s what IKEA calls this neat little computer desk/platform they sell.  It’s a one-legged podium-style stand with a tri-pod foot and an adjustable table top.  It’s made to slide right up to your chair or sofa (’cause the foot fits underneath)and allow you to use your laptop while you sit comfortably in your living room.  And, that’s exactly what Kyle is doing right now.  I think he needs the rest from the taxing day of retail adventuring.

Neither Kyle nor I had ever been to an IKEA store.  We’ve known about them for years.  We have friends who are devout followers. (Nicole used to drive fairly regularly from Arlington to Houston to shop at IKEA before we had a store in North Texas—we used to call it her pilgrimage.)  But we’d never really embraced it, ourselves.  Oh, we’ve seen the Book (catalogue), and we’ve pondered over it a few times . . . but that was it.  I think on some level, I was afraid.

I’d heard stories.  I knew it was a multi-faceted place—an idea place—not just a store.  I knew they had playgrounds and restaurants.  I knew they were fairly “green” in their methods.  I knew they had furniture and stuff for pretty much every room in the house.  And I knew I’d love it.

It’s not really my style . . . really.  I love antiques and golden oak and soft upholstery.  I love warm colours and rich fabrics and chotskies.  IKEA is Swedish in origin.  It’s all about clean lines and minimalism.  Why then, was I so intrigued?

When Kyle first told me he’d like to make the trip to the two-year-old Frisco location, I was excited, and we made plans to arrange our day around it.  The drive took us almost exactly an hour, and as we pulled into the carpark, right around 1 p.m., I reminded Kyle not to think about this huge place as a store, but more like a retail experience.  I likened it to a theme park, and I took his photo as we approached the giant mega-store.  The hundreds (probably thousands) of cars and people, coming and going, told me I wasn’t far off in my analogy.

Since most of our readers have probably been there, I will try not to get bogged down in descriptions.  But, the place is remarkable.  No one seemed much in a hurry.  We saw all ages, and all cultures and all types of folks.   It was like they were all on vacation.  Or on a pilgrimage.  We had lunch in their cafe (Swedish meatballs for Kyle and a delightful open face shrimp and egg sandwich for me), and then began our adventure.  We somehow managed to start where it seems most people end their tour of the upstairs showroom, so we spent the day “swimming upstream,” literally going against the flow of traffic (and the little blue arrows on the floor that we eventually noticed, but pretended not to!).  We dreamed a lot, and had a really good time.  We fell in love with a bed, decided what the next remodel of our living room will look like, and found the “Dave.”  We also found a number of other things we didn’t know we needed!  When all was said and done, we’d spent some money (although not too much—we did very well!), made some plans for the future, and we were four hours older!  In retrospect, the place really is part theme park, part museum, part cathedral!  And I’m sure this won’t be our last visit.

After all that, we stopped at Grapevine Mills for a quick product return, and a nearly perfect meal at another favourite eating spot—Cozymel’s.  Mmmm . . . tableside guacamole! 

We came home, tired (who knows how many miles we walked?!) but happy.  Another wonderful day together.  We’ve packed a lot of fun into these last couple of weekends.  But, that’s good, ’cause they have to provide me with the memories of contentment I’ll need to get through the summer. 




Eye and Glasses Sunday, Jun 15 2008 

14 June 2008
Yesterday was chock-full. I left the house early so as to not be in the way when MB had a customer come over, and watched the Spain v Sweden match at No Frills Grill. Spain won 2 minutes into stoppage time with a brilliant solo effort from David Villa who is quickly earning his €40 million valuation (ok, so nobody is really worth that, but this kid is on fire!). MB called soon after the game was over, so I went back home and picked her up because I had shopping to do, and she wanted to go with. So, Wal-Mart was where we headed because a) I knew they had what I needed and b) I knew they had it a decent price. From there we went to Target to purchase a new suitcase for me and a new MP3 player. The suitcase is SwissGear, a brand I trust and the MP3 player is a Creative Labs Zen. I refuse to plunk down the money for a locked-in proprietary system like the iPod (even though secretly I’d love one and would never turn one down if offered to me). By then, it was lunch time. We headed toward one Tex-Mex location only to discover it was closed; and while looking around, that seems to be what’s happening on South Cooper street. A lot of what used to be hot restaurants have abandoned their buildings leaving parts of South Cooper a ghost town. Reworking our plan, we drove further south on Cooper street to El Arroyo where we each had food & a margarita while watching Russia beat Greece. Greece is now out of the tournament which is a sad surprise since they are the current holders of the tournament title. An accident just outside the restaurant didn’t allow for a graceful exit when we were done, so we drove around the back part and emerged near Kohl’s where MB was insistent we went. I think she was in shopping mode and reluctant to let go. So, three new shirts for me later, we emerged. I should be well-dressed for my upcoming business trips. We left there bound for home, but something in Marita Beth registered and she said, “Hey, let’s take you to the optometrist, he’s just around the corner and they might be able to take a walk-in.” So, we went at 4:30 on a Saturday expecting, realistically, to make an appointment and leave. Instead, Dr. Quan Pham saw us (me). An hour later, and several hundred dollars, I left without my contacts and sporting a new pair of glasses. The reason? I have conjunctivitis in both eyes and an additional bout of carititis in my left eye. I have been prescribed steroid/anti-biotic eyedrops and been instructed to not wear my contacts for a week. Great, just as I was headed on business trips, suddenly, I am forced out of my comfort zone! Luckily, the glasses are sporty.
Eye & Glasses
See? Now, I just have to get used to wearing them all the time and not forgetting to put my drops in my eyes. If you look at the photo, you can see that my right eye is riddled with veins and a mite swollen. That’s the conjunctivitis (pink eye); it’s a communicable, bacteria-fed infection of the conjuctiva. Yeah. Sucks.

~KR (Written on 15 June 2008 )

Ratatouille on Starz

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.25 sec (1/4)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire