Now I Know Why I Didn't Pay For LoJack On My Laptop

In my family, there is this darling little tradition where, at approximately five o'clock am, my dad opens all of the bedroom doors, turns on blaring music, and calls out this obnoxiously cheery greeting, "GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY! IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY!"

I've never been able to figure out how he knows that it's a beautiful day, seeing that it's PITCH BLACK outside.  Some things, dads, just know.

Anyway. If we aren't out of bed by the first two or three measures of whatever music he put on in the stereo, there are huge consequences. Actually, I don't know what they are, because I've never tried it—they're just rumored to be extensive. (Me? Sleep in? Why, I would NEVER do such a thing. No way! Stop looking at me like that!)

This morning, the music that played was Christmas music, and it was, um, very Christmas-y. It was a handbell choir. (Why, why, do they call it a handbell choir if nobody is singing?)

But I wasn't listening to the music.

All I heard was my dad saying, "It's snowing! It started raining at about 4:45 and now it's snowing."


In case you're wondering, no, I have no idea if that man ever sleeps.

Actually, I do know, and, no, he doesn't.

Well, I mean, he DOES, but, for the sake of the blog readership's valuable time, I used that statement generally, instead of writing out an entire epistle on the nocturnal habits of my father, and his quiet time in the early mornings, and that it's not weird for him to be up monitoring the weather at 4:45, and, you know, all that stuff.

So allow me to repeat: I have no idea if that man ever sleeps. Actually, I do know, and, no, he doesn't.


If you know me, there's hardly anything in the world that I admire more than snow.


I don't think admire was the best word to use there.

I was trying to be sophisticated and it didn't really work.

What I really mean is this: snow makes me happy. Very, very happy. And nine times out of ten (has it even snowed here ten times in my lifetime? I don't think so) it makes me very hyper.

So, predictably, I ran to the front window to catch a glimpse of the snow.



On the way to look out the window, my eyes caught sight of where my computer usually sits. It wasn't there. I panicked immediately.

Because if there's one thing that I "admire" more than snow, it's my computer.


Then I, of course, did the first thing any logical person would do: I went and found Jay as quickly as I could, and said, "JAY, WHERE IS MY COMPUTER!?"

There are two reasons for that.

First, he's the first one I would expect to sabotage my computer. He regularly tries to lure me away from what he calls my quote-unquote 15" widescreen alternate reality, into what he calls "the real world".

I've thought long and hard about what that might mean and nothing comes to mind.

Nope, nothing.

Not at all.

But onto reason number two: Jay is very compliant when he's sleepy.


Like the time that my grandmother's house alarm went off, and we sent him down the street to check on her.

With a baseball bat.


Thankfully, there were no intruders. That could have been really, really interesting.


So. Because Jay is so very sweet and compliant when he's sleepy, and because it was 5:00 a.m. and I know he was sleepy, I knew that he'd try to help me find my computer, EVEN IF he was the one who hid it in the first place.

Sure enough, a few seconds later as I was wandering around the house aimlessly, searching for it, he emerged zipping up a coat and heading outside.

"What are you DOING?!" I asked, forgetting about the snow.

"Checking the locks on the house," he said, sleepily, "Did you say your computer was stolen?"


Now, he doesn't  know it.

Because I can never think of how to phrase it, and I'm really bad at coming up with spontaneous compliments—even if I'm thinking them.

But….I really, really, really loved him right then. Not just because he would help me search for a computer he doesn't care about, but because he would get on a sweater and do at odd hours of the morning and venture into the SNOW to do it.

I, seriously, have the best brother EVER.


About the time I was thinking of forgetting about the computer and giving him a big hug, he sighed, turned, and started walking away.

"WHAT?!" I asked.

"Your computer is fine," he said.



"Jay! Jay! Stop! Where's my computer? Where did you see it?"

"It sitting right there where you left it when you went to bed last night, dear."

"No it's NOT!"

Another sigh. "Yes, it is."


He was unzipping his coat and halfway down the hall. "Follow the power cord."


And sure enough, it was right there on the table.

And sure enough, it was in perfect working condition.

And somehow I didn't realize the irony when I was so happy that I opened the computer and sent him an email to tell him thank you.


He emailed me--emailed me— back to say, "No problem about the computer….I'm glad I could help you find your way in life, er, your computer."


And on top of having the greatest brother ever, it's SNOWING.

Out my window at work I see Joshua Trees covered in white.

It's wonderful, all of it. Just wonderful.


Hi, I'm Nicole, and this blog post will probably ruin my chances of ever getting married. By the way, have you met my sister, Emily?

Most of you have probably noticed that I haven't posted on this blog in forever a few weeks. But if any of you are reading into that, stop right now, because I have only four words for you: calm before the storm. I admit it. I've been really busy lately. And the last thing I posted was a link to You-Tube, which obviously took TONS of effort and time. But, don't fear. I have three and a half hundreds of ideas for blog posts in the next few days, and, trust me, they're going to be good. They're going to be TERRIFIC. They're going to be…..nevermind. Let's get to the real subject of today's blog post, shall we?

As you all know, I usually blog about my domestic disasters. If you've been reading my blog any length of time, you know that I am really good at whipping up weird-colored foods (like the grey tacos. I'll never forget the grey tacos), breaking things (in fact, I will admit to you, in strict honesty, that there were TWO broken glasses in our household last week, although I maintain that it was not entirely my fault), and generally ruining whatever I touch.

Now. Whenever I post about my culinary catastrophes, I usually print off the post and go to the ironing board where my mom is doing something industrious, and I say, "Hey, mom, want to hear my new blog post?"
She, of course, being such a good mom, says, "Of course."
So I read her the blog post. And she laughs, and laughs, and laughs, and laughs. (Okay. Maybe not that much. But she does laugh. Honestly, she does.) But after I finish reading the post, she puts down the iron, looks at me rather sadly, and communicates to me nonverbally. Her look says, "Nicole, every time you post about one of your kitchen disasters, your chances of meeting a guy on the internet plummet." Now, she's never actually said it out loud. But there have been some less-than-subtle hints in that direction. And every time I get that look, I tell her, "I'm not trying to impress anybody, mom." Which is, mostly, true. I think meeting guys on the internet is a little weird.

However. If we process this logically, any guy who does like me "for reals" (like my little throwback-to-the-90's phrase?) is probably going to know how to use the internet, and, at some point, he's probably going to look me up online. And he's going to find my blog. And he's going to be so madly in love with me that he's going to go clicking through my archives for days at a time. And at some point in our relationship, he's probably going to broach the difficult question to my parents, "If I fall in love with your daughter, will it mean I have to cook my own dinners for the rest of my life?"

And, rightly so, my parents would sit that young man down in the living room and have a nice little chatty-chat with him and say the truth: "No. Nicole isn't a horrible cook. She's not even a bad cook. She's just less concerned about her reputation than she is concerned about having a funny blog." Which is true—I choose to blog about my disasters, because it's fun to blog about disasters, and because I like making people laugh. And because people like feeling better about themselves after realizing that the sister of a celebrity could actually be dumb enough to make a grey cake.

Now, don't think that this post is done just because I redeemed myself with all of those eligible guys flocking to my blog to check out my ability to put supper on the table in a reliable fashion. No. Oh, no.
See, I might be able to convince any suitors that I am not a horrible cook.
And I might actually be less catastrophic than I write about being.

But I have this sister. And…..well, compared to my sister, even my grandest efforts look really, really unimpressive.

See, my parents have this little tradition called "Date Night". Once a week, they eat dinner by themselves in another room, and we make a formal dessert and serve it to them and they sit and stare in eachother's eyes and mom gives dad a debriefing on the week, which, loosely translated, means: mom tells dad about what kids need "discipline" that night, and why. (Gotta keep it real here, folks.)

They've had this tradition for as long as I can remember, and I can remember all the way back to before the fourth grade. (No really. Scout's honor.) And, I think it's romantic enough for them to have their own special time and their own special dessert, and their own special selves.
But not Emily.
Um, in case I haven't introduced her before, Emily is my sister. You'll probably need to know that before you go on with this story. Emily is really pretty. She really does look like this all of the time:


That's her. And yes, she deleted the background that was there and put that nice background of a…..whatever.
So. With those little introductions taken care of, back to Emily and Date Night.

Emily takes Date Night seriously. For instance, it's not uncommon for me to come home and to find her swishing gracefully around the house, asking me how my day at work went and simultaneously doing cooking several gourmet dishes, making drinks in fancy goblets, tidying the house, and getting ready The Room for date night. And when I actually go in the room, to check out the arrangements, it looks like it's ready for some fancy European dignitary on his honeymoon. She'll have candles, and some delicious meal, and ROSE PETALS.

Yes. I just said, ROSE PETALS.
Seriously. Who, who, can compete with a sister like that?!?

If you don't believe me, here's a picture. This wasn't a "special Date Night". This was just a normal Date Night, one that happens once a week.


And if you still don't believe me, here's another picture.


And that….was all before the dinner came out. I just don't have pictures of that part.

Recently, Emily hosted a black-and-white party for Daniel's seventh birthday. I knew it was going to be good when she had a little photo shoot and made his invitations.

Actually, axe that. I knew it was going to be fun when she announced the idea of a black-and-white party. I would have never, never thought of a black-and-white party.


And when I got home from work on the day of the party, she had quite a spread going.


Candles. Black barbed-wire. I don't know what the barbed wire was for. But it looked good. Black and white cups. She made a black-and-white cake.


And she was hanging streamers.

Well, they were sort-of like streamers. There was this fuzzy black and white stuff, and when I came in, I stared at it and said, in disbelief, "What is THAT?!!?!?"

She gave me this look of exasperation and I expected her to say, "Nicole, that's a (fill in the blank with some fancy French decorating word)."

Instead, she said, "Um, Nicole, that's…..yarn."

Oh. YARN! I know what yarn is. Whoops! I don't remember exactly what the point of the black-and-white yarn was, but I know it had something to do with being draped across the refrigerator. It looked good, I remember that much.

And, to top it all off, her black-and-white cake was actually MARBLED. She made a black-and-white marbled cake. Not kidding, folks:


To be perfectly honest, we didn't get a very good picture of it, because everybody wanted to eat it as soon as it was cut.

It was a great, great party. But it wasn't a particularly special occasion. Emily does things like this all of the time. Most nights I know that when I come home from work, she'll have some spectacular dinner on the table. And, on the occasions that are really special, she hauls off with something like this, a lunch with my grandma earlier this year:


Isn't it pur-dy?

Oh. And check out this cake. Emily decided to make a cake for the county fair, and told us all that she would be pleased to place at all. Modest, of course. What ACTUALLY happened was that she took first place, Judge's Special, Best of Division and Best of Show.


By the way, in case you're curious like I am, and wondering WHAT exactly that lumpy green cake with the gold stripe is, off to the right, well, I don't remember. Emily would probably remember, but she's fast asleep right now and I'm trying to post this without, you know, waking her up to consult her in the middle of the night.

Speaking of consultations. Emily knows where EVERYTHING in our house is. Numerous times per week (I'm not going to put a number on it, because I would be embarrassing myself), I will be planning my outfit for the day, and I'll call out, "EMILY!!"

A faint yes will come from wherever she is, probably doing laundry, getting breakfast ready, and unloading the last night's dishes all at the same time.


She'll call back, "The one you got from Mrs. Miller after her mom and she went shopping in Palm Springs?"


She always responds the same way. "Hold on….."

And she drops whatever she's doing, comes back to my room, opens the closet, flips through the same clothes I just flipped through, and presents it cheerfully before going back out and doing other industrious things.

Emily is good at coordinating our clothes. Like this "sleepover" she had last year, for us, when I remember that she served homemade (!) jalapeno (!) poppers (!) and other stuff.


Emily is really good at cleaning the house.


Whoops. That's a picture of Jay's stuff during Fire Academy. Nevermind.

Emily is a really good photographer. I mean….our little kids are cute, but she makes them look like they belong in "Family Circle" magazine.


Or this one:


OOPS!!! How did that picture get in there? That's a picture of my Uncle Jim, last Thanksgiving.

And, why yes. I do believe he DOES have five pieces of pie on his plate. (There's a longstanding tradition of inexplicable origin, dictating that Uncle Jim is required to eat one regular-sized slice of every pie being served at Thanksgiving dinner.)

Back to our regularly scheduled program:







And, have you ever heard of Edible Arrangements? Well, we thought that would be really snazzy to have at Emily's birthday party. But since all of us were too cheap to actually buy it ourselves, guess what we did?

Yeah, you guessed it.

We made her make one.

For her own birthday.


For a potluck at church recently, she made up this delicious berries-and-cream trifle. The one you see below is actually not a picture of the one she made. It's a stock photo from Google Images. We forgot to take a picture didn't want to embarrass Martha Stewart too badly.


Emily is pretty much amazing. She's a great sister, she's a terrific friend, and, by the time any potential suitors finish this blog article, they're probably going to have forgotten all about me and be calling my dad about Emily.

Two reasons I have hope:

First, Emily is only fifteen. She's got a few years to go before, you know….

Plus. I've been asking my dad to pray about that whole, you know, "Rachel and Leah" passage in the Bible where Leah was older and her dad REQUIRED that she got married first. I'm thinking that there's some serious solid Biblical wisdom in that passage.

Second, Emily can teach me.

I know she can. Someday she's going to take me from being a passable cook and transform me into something great. She's going to make me spectacular. She's going to coach and drill and love and push me right into the world of gourmet chefdom.

Actually, nevermind that. What I REALLY mean to be saying is this: if, by some good fortune, I do actually manage to land a husband, Emily may just have an open invitation to permanently accompany us in case I lose my favorite red blouse, need to host any company, or need to take pictures of my kids.

She's that good.

By the way, for all of the guys who are currently using the "Contact The Blog Author" section on my blog, and who want to get in line for Emily, let me warn you: may not marry my sister unless you get past my brother and dad. Just so you know, Jay's approval is rumored to be conditional on a very strenuous trip that involves extensive sabotaging that Nobody Is Allowed To Talk About Until Afterwards. (Hafta test the guy's temperament, after all.)

Good luck.

And. For all of you multitudes of guys who really did like me before: I'm sorry. At least, if you married me, you'd never run out of reasons to laugh. That's got to count for something.

Psalm 50

For those of you who remember Matthew 7, you might be interested in what the little kids did last week!

Yole Good Poofy Goat Scarves

Remember my obsession with my site meter?

Remember how it led me to discover that I had a graveyard stalker?

Well, this time it’s contributing to a serious inferiority complex. (Kids, go ask your mom look that up on Wikipedia.)

But, like most of my stories, you’ll need a little bit of background to understand this phenomenon.


See, my site meter tells me, not just WHO visits my site, but HOW they got there.

If you think I’m kidding, think again, because I’m not.


My site meter tells me that some people reach my blog through predictable means.

Such, as, googling “Nicole Hearn”. Or, “Nicole Hearn Blogspot.”

Is that weird?

No, that isn’t weird.

That’s the kind of keyword I love.

People put my name in a search engine and find me.

Isn’t that just so….happy?

It’s the kind of thing that makes a person really want to just die and bequeath all of their money to Google.


But anyway.


People also reach my blog because they want to read about a song I posted.

Which is a little less thrilling. I mean, with all of the brilliance and wit on my blog, the people really come there just to read a post that had, like, THREE sentences (if that) of my own original writing? But it’s true. People search for the violet song I posted. The violet song that is basically one big long run-on, tongue-in-cheek sentence.

And, I do admit it. It’s a pretty cute song.

In fact, want to know how I got the words?

I googled them.


But, back to business: after that, the blog searches really take on brand-new dimensions.

Like this one:


“exuberates in a sentence example”


Or, how about this one?


“random quotes about weekends”




“good life name of goat”


Good life name of goat? Excuse me? Am I missing something?

I think I must be missing something. Please, let me be missing something.

What could that sentence (sentence?) mean?

No, really. Were they asking what  a good lifetime name for a goat was?

What other kind of names do you give goats?

Bad life names?

Half-life names?


Maybe my main question is this: did they find what they were looking for on my site? Did they satisfy their curiosity?

Did they visit again? (Nevermind. I know they didn’t visit again. Because my site meter tells me so.)


But enough time about the goats.

How about this one?


“name Yole”


Yole, ya’ll? Really? Remember, I was the one who didn’t know what Yole meant. Why is google sending poor people to my site for enlightenment, when I’ll only knock them further into despair? Is that fair? Is that really going to help global morale?


There are other keywords. But one of them really takes the cake.

No, really. Takes the cake.


“What are the real poofy scarf things called?”


And, uh, that search obviously led them here. To that picture that my mom said made me look like I outweighed an entire village of Asian sumo wrestlers. To the story about the kid named Grease who pulled his ipod out only long enough to claim prize after prize he won in a raffle. To the story about the fluffy white hat and the Leisure League singers.

Tell me: would you be traumatized if you were innocently searching for a poofy scarf, and if your search led you to that story?



I like keywords. I like figuring out from whence my blog readers have come.  It’s reasonably nice to know that Google knows I exist.  But remember how I started this post by saying that I was having a serious little inferiority issue?


Well, let me explain where that all comes in.

Pull up a chair and sit down, kids.

Pour yourself some tea. Nevermind. I don’t like tea.



Okay. Now that you’re nicely settled, let me explain this whole story in very Palin plain English:  among all of the keywords that lead people to my site, among all of the poofy scarves and the goat-naming parties and the name Yole and the weekend quotes, want to know the keyword that most frequently brings people from Google to


Oh. I see your ice-cream bowl is empty. That was fast.

Seconds? No? Are you sure? Then back to the story.


It’s two words.


Jay Hearn.

Jay Hearn.

Jay Hearn.


If you’re one of the five or so people left in North America who haven’t yet googled his name, Jay Hearn is my brother. And apparently he’s somewhat of a minor celebrity on the World Wide Web.


Now, you’ll indulge me if I have a few deep philosophical comments:

Isn’t it just a little bit unreasonable, that I should take the time to type the few blog posts I actually get around to posting  and then that he should swoop in and be responsible for half of my readership base? Is that really fair? I mean, I really do love Jay. And it’s not like I’ve never googled him. But still, people. One in every four times that someone types something in on google and lands on my blog, that “something” they typed was “Jay Hearn”.


Okay. I’m off my soapbox now.

And I’d like to finish up this blog post with a good deed. To the unlucky individual who thought that they would find out the perfect name for a goat by visiting my site, let me help make up for the disappointment you certainly experienced when you actually clicked on my link.

Tell me what you were feeling.

Tell me about how difficult it has been for your poor nameless goat. Tell me how embarrassed he’s been with this identity crisis.

Is it good to get that off your chest?

There, child. Have a good cry. It’s okay.

Let me make this problem go away for you.


Name your goat Yole.


You’re welcome.

Why, Yes, I Do Believe I Will Wear A Wig If It Doesn't Work Out

I’m getting a haircut.

Normally, I wouldn’t announce something like that on a public blog that could be read by, you know, the public and heads of state and stuff like that. (Note: HOWDY, PRESIDENT BUSH, IF YOU’RE READING THIS!)  Because haircuts are, you know….sort-of not a big deal.

And we wouldn’t want to take valuable time away from President Bush and the Iranian conflict or anything.

No way.

(P.S. If you’re asking, “What Iranian conflict?” right now, please stop torturing yourself. I don’t know what Iranian conflict. It just sounded good. So I wrote it. And I’m sure I’ll impress the President with my global savvy.)


But this isn’t “normally” and I am announcing the haircut on my blog.

For two reasons.


Reason Number One:


And I just had to get that off my chest.

It all started when I saw one of the ladies at my work, and I liked the style of her hair, so I asked her who did her haircuts. She named off some unpronounceable stylist at a salon in a nearby city.

“I’ve heard of that salon!” I told her, like it was some kind of coincidence, which, come to think of it, it was not.

At all.

She probably thought I was a dork.

But anyway. Back to the haircut: for several months I’ve been saying that I’m going to get a haircut done there. And I really have meant it. But it’s just never, you know, HAPPENED.

Which is somewhat important in the whole getting-a-haircut order of business.


But I began to convince myself that, the longer I waited, the longer I wouldn’t have a haircut.

(I know—that’s kind-of totally obvious. STILL, I bet the President was impressed. In fact, I bet he’s going to ask me onto his speechwriting staff. It would clearly be “seasonal” help, seeing that we vote NEXT WEEK, but, hey.)

If I get my hair cut now and it looks totally ugly, at least it will have time to grow out before Thanksgiving and my 21st birthday. And a lot of time to grow out before Family Photos For The Christmas Letter. And a super long time before Easter Dinner When I’ll Probably Take Pictures With The Easter Bunny. And by the time our next homeschooling conference rolls around, it will be completely back to where we started.

That, people, is what we call STRATEGY.

(Or, you know, lack of faith in the stylist procrastination. But let’s not go there.)


Speaking of procrastination, my mom kept bugging me about booking the appointment and when I didn’t, she finally just called and made me the appointment herself.

That’s when I got the email explaining Reason Number One.


Let me paste it. In full.

It’s from my mom:


Hi Nic,

Soonest (which I secured --that work with your schedule) is November 1 (Sat) at 10AM.



I didn't want to give you one at 11:30 or 12:00 am since the cut would take 1 hour - and I know you'd go over on time.



Oh, wait. Did I say I was going to paste it in full? Nevermind. I deleted one little thing called THE PRICE. But, trust me, it was a LOT. Which I guess you gathered when my very sophisticated mother decided to throw vocabulary and grammar to the wind and wrote “ug” as a full and complete sentence.



With the price that you didn’t see, let me add this: the haircut BETTER take an hour. It better take five or six or seven hours. It better take a week.


But I’m wasting too much of your time. I really must move on to Reason Number Two:


I know (kind-of) what I want. (For the haircut, silly.)

But if you had a say, how would you suggest that I cut my hair?

Instead of my infamous glasses-post where I gave YOU choices, I think it’s time for all of you to reinvest a little and give me photos of YOUR ideas.

Just write me a little note, or copy and paste a picture so my family and I can consider the possibilities. (Please note: Google images is really, really, really good for coming up with pictures of haircuts. I know this from experience.)



P.S. If your name is Sarah Palin and if you are reading over the President’s shoulder or something, I just want to let you know that I already picked glasses like yours and I would totally trade hair with you if I could.


Sorry, China

Remember that desk, on that boat from China?
The one I blogged about?
The one I said was prompting even agnostics to pray desperately?
Yeah, that one.

Well, guess what?
The prayers worked.
Actually, my various supervisors, bosses, and other persons of high importance decided that it was in the best interest of the City and Taxpayer Dollars to ditch the desk coming from China and get me another desk altogether.
A desk that happened to be in stock.
Today, when I got back from my lunch break, guess what was sitting there waiting for me?

That should have been the end of the story.
But it's not.
Because, guess what else?
The guy who delivered the desk forgot to give me the keys and, of course, before he forgot, he locked all the desk drawers.
Oh, yes, he did.
So I was sitting there perched in my brand-new ergonomically stable chair, staring at my beautiful new desk, with boxes stacked all around me, and I couldn't do a thing about it!
In case you're wondering, the color of the desk is "cognac".
Yes. That's actually a color.
And in case you want to know how to pronounce it, here: kɒnjæk.
Yes. I copied and pasted that from Wikipedia.

So anyway.
When the guy from the office supply store came back by later, I started marching down the hallway at fast speeds to tell him a thing or two.
Actually, just kidding. Halfway down the hallway I got distracted by someone with Very Urgent City Business That Needed My Immediate Attention. So I forgot all about telling the guy anything.
He ended up coming to me first, giving me the keys, and apologizing for forgetting him. I didn't hear everything he said, because I was already making a beeline for my desk.
You know, to check and see if he actually gave me the right keys.
(Hey, after the order of events so far, you never know.)
They were the right keys.
And there were four of them.

Of course, the story couldn't end there either.
It had to include our City's substantial "MIS" department being called in to set up my computer and get it ready for, uh, turning on and other stuff that you do with computers. (Note: When a computer screen is off, you technically can use it as a mirror if you stand at just the right angle. You're welcome for that handy tip.)
My coworker Nancy gave several very clear calls to the aforementioned MIS department, letting them know that we expected them to drop whatever they were doing (including lunch breaks) and get over to set up my computer before any further catastrophe ensued.

The calls apparently did no good because an hour later, they still weren't there. So Nancy called again, and this time talked to some sort of MIS director, who said that the MIS techs had left to come set up my computer an hour before, and had not been heard from since.
Not been heard of since!
Of course, neither of them had remembered to take their cell phones.

Eventually, they showed up.
But then we had to work through various quirks.
For instance: nobody had thought to bring a power strip so we could plug the computer in.
Now, I might be mistaken, but as far as I understand, a power strip is pretty important.
(Unless, of course, you're using the monitor strictly as a mirror.)

FINALLY I logged into my computer, and was going to start refamiliarizing myself with it after two weeks (absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know) when I glanced at the clock and realized it was time to leave work. I didn't even have time to open my inbox or Microsoft Word.

Cruel, cruel.

I'm sorry. Super sorry.

This post is going to be all about apologies.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry I haven't blogged lately.

I'm sorry I haven't told you about the move my office made last week.
Note: My desk still hasn't arrived.
It's still on the boat.
From China.
No, literally.
Last week, I overheard people from the office supply company talking about using GPS tracking to track the boat in the water.
I had two options: sit Indian-style on the floor with my computer tower in my lap, or, use a vacant office until my desk arrived.
I opted for the latter.
Even the non-Christians in my workplace are praying for strong, strong winds from China.

I'm sorry I haven't told you that I've been made the ersatz "pianist" at church for the time being.
Note: I'm terrified of playing in public.
But I had no choice.
My pastor broke his ankle and since he can't lead music, he asked my dad to.
And since my dad is leading music, I'm accompanying him.
Because my dad would rather lead music with me than the regular pianist.
Does that make sense? I don't think so, but it's supposed to.
Anyway. I'm stuck playing the piano.
It's still terrifying, even after I've done it three (3) consecutive weeks.
Especially after I accidentally started to play an extra chorus on "I'll Fly Away" this Sunday.
Jay said that the usual pianist was heard gasping audibly when I did so.
He also said, "Good save, Nic," when I managed to play some interesting chord and finish triumphantly (sans second chorus).
I am still trying to figure out why a pastor with a broken ankle can't lead congregational singing.
But we're not going there.

I'm sorry I haven't told you about the Christmas letter I'm writing for some friends.
Note: Yes, I am aware that it's weird to write a Christmas letter in October.
But there's nothing normal about these friends and the Christmas letters I write for them.
This years' letter includes a picture of their daughter holding a rat. Named Maggie.
And a picture of a sign they saw in an airport: "Attention Please: Will the owner of a white Ford expedition, blue in color, parked on the lower level, please return to your vehicle. Thank you."
Last year's letter included an update about their son, who popped the car tire on a curb.
And a note from their son, who said that he thought that food at college was lousy and that he thought it would be a very spiritual undertaking to send carepackages to college students abroad.
Writing a Christmas letter in October isn't all that weird, considering.

I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the funeral.
Note: My Auntie Deanie (that's one name, and should be hyphenated. Auntie-Deanie. We called her that all my life. Her real name was Nadine Huff, but if your name was Nadine Huff, wouldn't you go by Auntie Deanie? I thought so.)
The funeral was today. She had lived a full life, and we will miss her.
A female officiant of some kind, in a white robe and a necklace, came and threw "holy water" at the coffin from various angles.
Other than that, it was a nice service.
Well....other than the restroom trip, too. We (Hearn females and Daniel) decided to take a restroom stop, and we decided to walk instead of drive.
Why did we decide to walk? Nobody knows.
Why were they remodeling the restrooms after that long, long walk? Nobody knows.
Why did a good Samaritan stop and give us a lift on her golf cart so we could visit other restrooms? Why did Whitney stay perfectly calm and quite inside the mortuary, only to shout, "FISH!!" (or something like it) at the top of her lungs right when the officiant was taking a phone call from a grieving family member? Why did I decide to wear three-inch heels to go walking through grass? Why did I decide to wear a suit jacket on a day that was warm and humid? Why did the funeral home provide water (for everyone present) that was in little bottles that were impossible to drink from, and that had been treated with enough flouride to make you feel like you'd just been to the dentist for a teeth-whitening session?
Like I said, nobody knows.
We'll miss you, Auntie Deanie.

I'm really sorry I haven't shared some of the recent quotes that have been funny.
Note: I'll save most of them for a quote post.
But, just to whet your apetite, here are a few.
All by my grandma. Who is really the most hysterical grandma I know.

Grandma: That lady looks like she combed her hair with an egg-beater.

Grandma: That was her favorite restaurant, so maybe we should invite the family there after the funeral. But wait -- what does it matter if we're going to her favorite restaurant? She's dead; she can't come with us.

Grandma: I have email, but I don't use it very often. In fact, if you email me, make sure you call me and tell me, so I know to check it.

Grandma: Many years ago, I heard that they were quote-unquote "seeing eachother". But I don't know if that meant that they actually went somewhere, or just that they "saw" eachother in the front yard once.

I'm sorry.
For all those things.
Really, really sorry.

What are you sorry for today?

I'm it.

My good (bloggy and irl) friend Adrienne tagged me in a survey!!!!!!!!!

I shouldn't sound so excited.
But I am. So deal with it.

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? I was almost named after an implement of asian warfare—does that count? See, my parents were going to name me Matthew Robert (MattBob for short) since I was supposed to be, uh, a boy. After I was a girl, they looked at me and spontaneously decided to name me Samara (not the usual pronunciation; they were going to call me SAM-ruh.) At the very last possible second, my uncle said that it reminded him of a samurai sword, and his comments were a sufficient-enough deterrent to make them decide on Nicole. I'm glad they did.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? When my dad spanked me in fifth grade. Just kidding. I cried about something less than a month ago – I just don't remember what about.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? If I'm having a sub sandwich, I like Italian.

DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Well. In an ecumenical matter of speaking, we're all God's children, right? So they're all my children….wait. That doesn't work.

No. I don't have kids.

IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? That strongly depends. Which other person?

DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Is there a difference between trying to use sarcasm, and actually using it? If so, then no.

DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Keep your hands off my tonsils! Yes.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? All depends on the length of the bungee cord.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? I haven't eaten a regular bowl of cereal (you know, milk, bowl, spoon, etc.) in almost ten years. I like dry cereal, but I just can't stomach the whole drinking-milk thing. Isn't that weird? Anyway, when I do eat dry cereal, ALERT granola is really, really good. No seriously. If you've never had it, I have only two words for you: make it.

DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? My theory is this: when I'm putting my shoes on in the morning, I'm perky, energetic, and ready to go for the day (well, at least I'm energetic in direct proportion to my quality of sleep the night before, but let's not stray OT). When I take my shoes off at night, I'm tired.
Question answered?

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I can have a strong personality, but I strain to pick up a fifty-pound bag of dogfood at Costco.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Ice-cream, categorically, is my favorite. Thing. Ever.




WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My brother. I feel like I rarely see him anymore.

WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Cute little brown shoes that I wish I'd bought five pair of when they came out. They're professional enough to wear to work (heels, leather) and they're flip-flops. Flip-flops!

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Whatever it was, it was way too long ago. I'm starving. Actually, it was a burrito my mom made—and some chips. Actually, no. It was a breath-mint. Do breath-mints count?

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? A modern work environment. [HT: my formal job description]

IF YOU WHERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Probably the one that got chewed up so badly [by the dog then the baby] that nobody can tell what color it used to be.

FAVORITE SMELLS? Pear blossom body spray, roses, campfires, and autumn. Yes. Autumn is a smell. Well, sort-of.

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My sister. We talked for eight minutes and twenty-eight seconds. Yesterday.

FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Hockey! I love to watch people get their teeth busted out! Or not. I really don't watch sports, but I'm mildly fond of football, I suppose, if there is positively nothing else to watch.

HAIR COLOR? On a good day: brown. After a summer of swimming in high school, it was green. (Is that WTMI? Sorry. It really was green. Public pools and chlorine, I tell you…)


DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? I wish! But I can't even put eye drops in my own eyes.

FAVORITE FOOD? The stuff my mom makes. To be a little more specific, we have a fettucini alfredo recipe with romano and nutmeg that is really something else, I like to make orange chicken occasionally, and, best-till-last, I am currently on a corn-tortilla tacos kick. Every night when I come home from work I ask, "Mom, are we having tacos tonight?" No, really. I do.

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? I like suspenseful movies that end well. There.

LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? In the theater, Fireproof.

WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Brown with white cuffs and collar, three-quarter sleeve. Nancy told me that I look nice, so it must be true. ;-)

SUMMER OR WINTER? I'm gonna pull a Sarah Palin – autumn.

HUGS OR KISSES? I don't have much experience with the latter, so I'll have to say the former.

FAVORITE DESSERT? Ice-cream (duh). On birthdays and special occasions, I like cheesecake.

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? I'm on my umpteenth reading of, "To Kill A Mockingbird", and am dabbling, somewhat consecutively, in some Ted Dekker books, "The Silver Chair" by C.S. Lewis and the procedure manual at work.

WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Two words: Lap top. Wait. That's one word. Laptop.

WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? That question is obviously for people who have way too much time on their hands. I didn't watch anything.

FAVORITE SOUND? Music is beautiful. I like to hear the sounds in my backyard, too.

ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can't we all just get along? *lights bic lighter* All we are saying / is give peace a chance.


WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME??? Maine. With Adrienne (and her hubby and little girl!) It was amazing.

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I'm sure I do somewhere. I'll let you know when I find it.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Here in this valley. I had a dream the other night that my parents bought a house down the street, and I woke up under the impression that it had been a nightmare, since we haven't moved in twenty years. Well, nineteen. Which is basically twenty. Speaking of twenty, next month I'm going to finish being twenty. Isn't that amazing?!

Okay. The tagging selection:

Based on completely arbitrary lottery-of-the-mind, I choose:

Catherine Kinz

Gavrielle Houser

Josh LeMaster

Minch Minchin

None of those people have blogs.

So they'll have to post their answers in the comments.