Shore 'Nuff

My mom was busy getting supper ready for a party the other night, and was evidently flustered because she said, rather authoritatively, "Grandma's watermelon may or may not be cut when she brings it."

Dad stared. "You're kidding!"

When grandma arrived, her watermelon either had been cut or hadn't (in this case had), and mom crowed, triumphantly, "See?"

"Sure enough," dad said.

And it was sure enough.

A Great Quote

"We may be earnestly desiring to be obedient and holy.

But we may be missing the fact that it is here,

where we happen to be at this moment

and not in another place and another time, that we may learn to love Him

here where it seems He is not at work, where His will seems obscure or frightening,

where He is not doing what we expected Him to do, where He is most absent.

Here and nowhere else is the appointed place.

If faith does not go to work here, it will not go to work at all."

~Elisabeth Elliot

F For Effort

This morning, when I was minding my own business, Mally came up to me and said, "Nicole: stink."
I won't dazzle you all with my deductive reasoning and logic skills, but let me just make it clear that I had no problems interpreting what Mally was trying to tell me: Whitney needed a diaper change.

I placidly walked Whitney to the back room, and then forgot about her, because Jay distracted me and made me laugh. (It was his fault. Honest, it was.)

When I finally remembered my somber errand, I called out, "WHITNEY!"
"Yeh." (More translations necessary, I know. Whitney says, "Yeh" to say, uh, "Yes.")
Turns out, she'd been amused by Jay, too.
She was hiding under his chair.

We reunited, I did what needed to be done, and while I was trying to wrap things up (quite literally) she kept squirming and laughing and creating a general brouhaha. It took me three or four tries to get her pants back on, but I finally plopped her down on the ground so she could run off and play, while I cheerfully went to dispose of the evidence. I noticed that, as I left, Whitney toppled and fell on her face.
"Be careful!" I admonished smartly.

While I was outside at the trashcan, I heard my mom laughing.
Let me clarify.
She wasn't laughing: she was LAUGHING.
When my mom laughs like that, I know something is reallyreallyreallyreally funny.

Well, turns out, it was. When I came back inside, she could barely talk she was laughing so hard.
"You get an F!" she said.
She was talking to ME.

She held up Whitney.
It seems that, somehow, I managed to put both of Whitney's legs into the same pant leg.

If you've ever read C.S. Lewis' book, "Voyage Of The Dawn Treader", picture Whitney appearing as the perfect likeness of a monopod.

It was embarrassing.
Even if mom did find it wildly amusing.

Sweet Dreams

We –meaning, the Public Works Department where I am employed—have quite a few people traveling—meaning, going to business-related trips—this week and through the end of the month.

Like, almost thirty people.


Thirty. People.


This is significant to me because I made all of the travel arrangements.

Think sixteen thousand calls to hotel reservation hotlines.

Well. Maybe not sixteen thousand.

But something awfully close to that.


This is also significant because I'm just so worried that they're going to get there and something's going to go wrong.

Sooooooooooo worried. (Is that enough "o's" to get the point across?)


I can just imagine the check-in disasters that could possibly happen:

NOTE TO ANYONE WITH AN ACTIVE HEART CONDITION: These are not actual situations. These are hypothetical situations.


·         The guys get down to San Diego, and the night clerk there smiles and tells them that there will be a seven hundred dollar surcharge for the San Diego Support The California Budget Deficit fund.


·         The confirmation numbers were all one digit off, and therefore our pre-paid check accidentally pays for a cute little couple from Singapore to have a stay free-of-charge.


·         The folks in Las Vegas claim that there was never a check sent to cover the costs. Check? What check?


·         The guys get collectively locked out of their hotel rooms (for the sake of this situational scene, let's pretend they all forgot them at the conference that day). Patrons see fifteen guys in a hallway and mistakenly assume it's a situation involving gang violence. Someone rings the fire alarm, thinking that it will be a reliable way to summon law enforcement personnel. Paranoia breaks out in Reno, NV. The city goes into lockdown. The City Attorney is contacted on his personal cell phone to negotiate terms for bail.


·         Between the time when I booked the hotel and when the guys showed up, the hotel is converted to a City Zoo.


·         The cute little couple from Singapore gets to their room and doesn't like the color of the carpet, so they tell the clerk thanks-but-no-thanks and head across the street to the Sheraton, so the taxpayer dollars from our City are completely wasted!



See? Aren't all those possibilities totally frightening?

Can you tell I'm nervous about all the travel happening this week?


Wake me up when September is over and everybody's home, please.

Anniversary "Surprise"

Monday morning was my parents' 23rd wedding anniversary. Well, Monday afternoon, technically, but who cares about technicalities?


I don't know what possessed us, but Emily and I decided to help them "celebrate" by getting up at 4:30 a.m. to make breakfast and surprise them.  My dad's alarm goes off at 4:40, so we wanted to at least have the process started by the time his alarm went off.

Now, if that doesn't make sense to you, let me explain it in simple English:

If dad woke up to smell food being cooked, maybe he would get the idea that it was a surprise, and, well….I guess the ultimate goal was for him to fall back asleep until we were done.  Doesn't sleeping in sound like a romantic thing to do on one's anniversary?


Well, about five minutes into the breakfast-preparation project, Emily turned to me and said, "What if I went and turned his alarm off?"

It was a brilliant idea.


Complication: Dad was not, and I repeat, NOT, expecting intruders in his room at that hour of the morning, so there was no telling what he would do if he woke up and saw a long-haired figure next to his bed messing with his alarm clock.


"Be safe," I said, feebly.


Note: Emily claims that when I said, "Be safe," I really meant, "If you wake dad up, I'm going to KILL you!"

 I plead the fifth.


"Okay," she said.

A few minutes later, she came back in the kitchen, with the whole matter sewn up nicely: "I turned the alarm clock off, shut the door, and now we can let the dog out so she doesn't make any noise." (I knew I kept that girl around for a reason.)


With that taken care of, we had a little bit more time to make breakfast. The menu was rather simple—breakfast burritos and coffee cake and apple slices and orange juice. (Who wants a huge breakfast at 4:30 in the morning anyway?!)


I know the question on everyone's minds right now: who made the coffee cake?


Well, even if that wasn't on your mind, I'll tell you. I made that coffee cake, thank you very much.

I know what you're thinking now, too: Wait. Making coffee cake is a domestic activity. You have terrible luck with things like that. Was it a disaster?  

Yes. It was a disaster, but, it's not fair to assume that everything I make in the kitchen is a catastrophe.  (You just think it is, because I never blog about the meal projects that work out. Other than, you know, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, or, Orangette, nobody likes to read about people's everyday meals. "And then I made applesauce, which turned out, and then I made cheese bread, which turned out, and then I made…." You get the point.)

To redeem myself, let me say, once-and-for-all: the coffee cake turned out.

Everybody liked it.

That's all that mattered.
I could blog about the disaster of the coffee cake, but, by now, you all could probably write the blog post for me, as almost everything that can possibly go wrong has, at some point, gone wrong for me at one time or another.

So, I won't blog about the coffee cake.

Suffice it to say that my nice dad saw how frustrated I was afterwards and tried to comfort me by saying, "Good morning, Betty Crocker!" for several long periods of time thereafter.



Back to the story.

We got breakfast finished by 4:50 and there was still no sign of any stirring in the parents' room. We woke the other kids up, and they quickly caught the vision.


With the possible exception of Jay, who is usually disoriented in the morning hours. Especially the pre-five-a.m. hours.


We took the plates of food down the hall, threw the door open, started singing, "Happy Anniversary To You" (think: "happy birthday", only….not) and switched the lights on.




Oh, they were surprised, all right.

It took them a good long time to wake up, and then they sat there staring at us for awhile.

"What time did you get up?" dad asked, fin-ally.

"Happy Anniversary!" we said.


After they were fully awake (took awhile, believe me) they thought it was a great idea and said they were some of the best breakfast burritos EVER.

Just guessing, but that probably has something to do with the fact that Emily made them, not me.


While we were all sitting around sharing good cheer at five o'clock in the morning, celebrating the twenty-three years of wedded bliss our parents have enjoyed, we looked over at Jay, who was quieter than usual.


He'd fallen back asleep.






We're moving.


Now, wait. Before you pull out the Kleenex and start spontaneously planning expensive goodbye parties (I flatter myself), don't freak.


By "we" I mean, myself and my coworkers. By "move", I mean we're moving our office to a new facility.


It sounds much, much scarier than it actually is. We're even moving closer to my house, so I'll have less than three miles to drive to work. And I'll have more office space. And I'll have very classy desk. And I'll have a huge, huge piece of glass in front of me. I'll have my very own panic button in case anything is, uh, panicking me.

Can you say, "win/win"?

I can.




But. For all the many benefits of moving, the downside of moving is this little seven-letter word that strikes terror in even the bravest hearts.

Yes, my friends. You guessed it.



Today, we're packing.

Unlike moving, packing is a lot, lot scarier than it sounds. Putting things in boxes is a fairly benign part of the process—the challenge is in getting all three clerical women here to agree on how and when and what to pack. I decided to be industrious today, and packed two shelves—apparently the only two shelves in the whole world that Nancy wanted to remain unpacked.

"Simple miscommunication," she said, which was an understatement.



Right now, we're taking a little break, since everyone is a little frazzled. Who knew that packing up office supplies could get people frazzled?


So, in the meantime, Nancy is starting to survey the contents of her own desk and decide what needs to be kept and what needs to be chucked. The most unusual item so far has been a very, very large, hideous orange fanny-pack with wide straps and bulging contents. It's an emergency fanny pack, designed to sustain life for one week in case of a worldwide flood, nuclear warfare, or the second big bang.


It includes nutrition. Think: a brick of calories, supposed to resemble energy bars.

It includes water. Think: Seven little pouches about the size of a Capri-Sun. Who knows -- maybe people aren't as thirsty after a nuclear blast.

It includes a small vial. Nancy thinks it's for any necessary, uh," urine samples" during the world turmoil. I think it's probably to use in drinking those little gulps of water.  


Anyway. As hideous and as bulky as it is, none of us can think of a good reason to give it away—except, possibly, that the panic button is just as good in an emergency as any old fanny pack.


Do you guys think I might be onto something?

September Quote Post

September Quote Post




Yep. It's time for another round of quotes.



Nancy (to Scott, carrying lots of building plans): Do you need help?

Scott: Yeah—do you have a match?


Mark: I don't know the difference between getting a fixed-wing and helicopter pilot's license.

J: Uh, cost.


Nancy: So did you enjoy your lunch?

Mark: Sure. Why?

Nancy: I see your shirt enjoyed it too.


Mark: If you would have given blood, you could have had a classy pink arm-band right now.


Mark: Those two are koo-koo as cocoa puffs.


Jeff: What did you do with your carpet?

Jeff O: Took it to Advance Disposal.

Jeff: Disposing of things properly, I see.


Nancy: This Outlook Reoccurrence feature is…..amazing. [A little while later, mumbles:] I feel like a new woman.


Nancy: They couldn't stand eachother except to have eighteen kids.


Nancy: Man, Scott, you're sneezing a lot! What's your favorite flower, just so I know when your heart stops? We can make sure we have some of those on hand for the funeral.


Nancy: You say 'no' in German by saying, 'nein'.

Wayne: Really? Well, I mean, yeah, I'm German.

Nancy: Me, too.

Wayne: Well, how much?

Nancy: Um…probably…half?

Wayne: Then I'm three-quarters.

Nancy: Well, Wayne, you didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, so it's not like you don't know about these things.

Wayne: Yeah, day before yesterday, actually.


Nancy: Are you ever afraid that you guys won't be able to get out of a hole fast enough, because he's so large?

Rick: That's why I always exit the hole first.

Nancy: Rick!

Rick: Well, you asked me a question, and I was going to answer you honestly.


Nancy: [That crow] was scrawny and ugly.

(Roland walks past at the last  half of sentence.)

Jeff: Nancy, I really don't think it's nice to talk that way about Roland.

Nancy: She always has a million and one reasons why it isn't her fault. Watch.

Nancy: Their company provides the porta-potties for CDF. Or, I guess it wouldn't be CDF—it would be Arizona-DF.


Nancy: Forgive me, Lord. And bless the pygmies in China—or wherever they are.


Nancy: This is stupid, but it just came to my mind—

Wayne: Isn't "it's stupid, but it just came to my mind" usual for you, Nancy?


Scott: Your wife was right. Take her to dinner.

Wayne: Wait, did I just hear you say that you're taking my wife to dinner?

Scott: No. You're taking her to dinner. And you're going to say, "Nice job, honey. You were right."


Jay: I thought there was a full pool when I left this morning. What happened?
Emily: He was playing water-polo with himself, and he got a little out-of-hand.

Acts Of God

This morning, while we were sitting at our "Bible Table," uh, reading the Bible, my dad apparently extended his legs too far and connected with foreign objects under the table.
"It's dirty under the table," he noted.
"You just messed up our hooooooooouse!" Mally said. Evidently the little kids had established somewhat of a domestic dwelling, using the table as a roof over their heads.
"Whoops!" Dad replied, "Didn't realize we had a village under the table. Sorry, guys."
"It's Hurricane Mike," my mom explained.
Our Bible Times are never dull.

Sweet Violets

Heard a perfectly old couple sing this on Sunday. Found it enchanting--mostly the nostagia, really--of seeing an old couple still in love.
They kissed at the end.
It was a good, good, time. Folk songs have that effect--usually.
(Chorus) Sweet violets, sweeter than the roses,
Covered all over from head to toe,
Covered all over with sweet violets.
There once was a farmer who took a young miss
In back of the barn where he gave her a.....
...Lecture on horses and chickens and eggs,
And told her that she had such beautiful...
...Manners that suited a girl of her charms,
A girl that he wanted to take in his...
...Washing and ironing and then, if she did,
They could get married and raise lots of...
(Chorus) Sweet violets, sweeter than the roses,
Covered all over from head to toe,
Covered all over with sweet violets.
The girl told the farmer that he'd better stop
And she called her father and he called a....
....Taxi and got there before very long,
'Cause someone was doing his little girl...
....Right for a change and so that's why he said,
"If you marry her, son, you're better off...
...Single because it has been my belief,
That marriage will bring a man nothing but....
(Chorus) Sweet violets, sweeter than the roses,
Covered all over from head to toe,
Covered all over with sweet violets.
The farmer decided he'd wed anyway,
And started in planning for his wedding....
....Suit, which he purchased for only one buck,
But then he found out he was just out of...
...Money and so he got left in the lurch,
Standing and waiting in front of the...
...End of this story which just goes to show,
All a girl wants from a man is his...
(Chorus) Sweet violets, sweeter than the roses,
Covered all over from head to toe,
Covered all over with sweet violets.

She--the woman--was dressed in a violet dress.
As she sang.
And holding violets.
It was awfully sweet.

What's In A Name?

So, my coworker Nancy and I were given a list that says:


Updated 3-25-08




What happened to the "a" at the end of "Hesperia", I don't know. But the list itself is a comprehensive reckoning of all streets within the City of Hesperia. It's twenty-two pages long, and—stop looking at me like that!—I know my blog is boring enough without posting all twenty-two pages. I won't do that.


I did, however, want to point out several streets that really-truly-honest-to-goodnessly exist in our city. Ready?


Askew. You'd constantly hear jokes about being off course.

Avacado. Somebody was hungry when they named that street.

Barnwood Avenue and Barnwood Court. What—one Barnwood wasn't enough?!

Cranesbill. Somebody was tired.

Debris Pile. Apparently somebody liked "Disposal Site" so much that they wanted a twin sister for it!

Disposal Site. No comment.

Drexel. Probably named after the Pennsylvania school?

Escobedo. Our guys pronounce it, "Es-Scoobie-Doo." No history on that nickname was available at the time of publication.

Goat Trail. Okay…?

Kamehameha. Good luck trying to teach your preschoolers to write their address!

Kims Folly. Wonder if that had anything to do with the goat trail or the debris pile!

Landover. Uh, is Landover  a word?

Lonesome Dove. Anybody got a peace pipe while we're at it?

McConnehy. Now, I know some people are fanatical about actors, but isn't that one just a little too obvious?

Michael. Now my dad probably likes that one!

Omelviny and Ojai. In a very practical sense, how should I pronounce those street names if I'm dispatching a street crew to the area?!

Pacesetters. Talk about high expectations for keeping up with the Joneses.

Pegleg. Poor street probably has block parties for "Talk Like A Pirate Day".

Sagamore. That's what you call a trilogy where the last book was never published.

Shanghaptian. Sounds like an Asian action flick.

So Pac. Uh…

Ukiah. Doesn't that sound so….biblical?


Yole. Your turn—what do you think of when you hear the street name, "Yole"?


Note: We Don't Get Out Much

I work in an office without windows. This is never a particularly unpleasant thing.

Except when it rains.

Like it's doing right now.

Well—actually. It's not really "raining"—there are a dozen or so drops within a hundred square-foot area of pavement.

If that.


But anyway. Back to exterior windows and rain.

When it rains, there is a big mass exodus to the Outside, to see and observe the rain.


Like just now.

It started when Nancy announced, "Someone just said something about rain. But I didn't hear where and I didn't hear how much."

Note: Any sentence containing the word "rain" is automatically a relevant sentence here, regardless of any other attributes of the sentence. Period.


The announcement was amended less than five minutes later, when mass audible hysterics reached my desk: it was really raining. Numerous employees spontaneously got up from their desks and headed outside.

Note: It wasn't considered neglecting our work, because there were all manner of supervisors participating.


Rolando was –prepare yourself for this because it's absolutely true—dancing a jig.

Note: Rolando was dancing in the rain and did not get at all wet. This should help you to understand the volume of the rain.


Mike asked, "When did you first see raindrops? How long ago? I have my camera."

Note: Mike did really have his camera.


Jeff said the raindrops in the back of our building were larger than the ones out front.

Note: Jeff was kidding.


Nancy said the raindrops in the front of the building were larger than the ones in the back.

Note: Nancy was not.


After our initial shock and wonder had assuaged, we began a systematic accountability procedure, which included asking every coworker within sight whether or not their windows were down, and whether or not they needed to go out there and roll them up.



It's raining. Well, it was raining—I don't know if it's still raining, because I don't have any exterior windows in my office.

And yes. We don't get out much.


Duly noted.


Marked Man (Or, "A Cockroach Story")

Today Mark Blair paid me a visit. Mark Blair is one of my coworkers, and he is very high-spirited. Mark is well-known for his affection for creepy seafood and once went to a perfectly casual lunch and nonchalantly ordered a seven-seafood soup that included squid, baby octopus, etc. (Better yet, he enjoyed it.) He's a great cook, but whenever a crockpot showcasing one of his culinary masterpieces shows up in the lunchroom, you have to carefully ask about the ingredients list before trying any. He's the one who checked out a city-owned bike and

Rode it




While honking the horn.

(He also took several others with him on an excursion using city bikes, once, but that's a story for another time.)

Mark dresses up as Josh, our city mascot, whenever the opportunity presents itself. One time Mark gave me a recipe for seafood-free Stromboli (it actually looked very good) and then called me later on that afternoon because he was at the store and he'd forgotten what ingredients he needed to make the Stromboli that night for dinner. Mark and his wife are very generous people, and our family really likes spending time with them. (Not to mention that Mark sometimes feeds me, bringing in a half a burrito after lunch, or a coupon for a free drink at Starbucks, if I do something that's particularly helpful to him).

Today, like I began, Mark Blair paid me a visit. Sat on the edge of my desk, opened a wrapper, and pulled out a large (3.5") cockroach-looking thing, and gave it to me.

"For you," he said, cheerfully, then pulled another one out of the pack, and bit into it himself.

"What….is it, Mark?"

He was too busy eating to tell me. I couldn't tell, by his facial expression, whether it was good or bad. He got up off my desk and made his way over to the nearest trashcan, which I didn't think was a particularly encouraging sign. He handed me the wrapper, and I read something about a cockroach-candy (the impression I got was that no real cockroaches were killed in the making of the product, just that they had tried their best to replicate one in candy form.)

"Is it good?" I tried, wondering why the grand honor of sharing his cockroaches had been given to me, still holding the uneaten "candy" in my hands.

"No," he said, casually, "See the eyeballs?"

I did, very much so, see the eyeballs. "I'm going to feed it to my brother tonight," I said, thinking quickly, "I'm going to dare him to eat the whole thing."

Apparently Mark thought that was an even more exciting prospect than watching me eat mine. "Really!"

"Yes, really!" (Why else did God invent little brothers?)

"Good," he said, "Tell me if he makes it." He finished his single bite and threw the rest of it in the trash.

Do I have any wagers as to whether or not Jay will finish the candy in its entirety? And—does anyone think they know what it will taste like?

(Not that I'll ever, ever know the answer to that question firsthand.)

The Sprinkler Disaster

For those of you who have faithfully read my blog and who have somehow managed to get the idea that I am some sort of domestic wonder, let me warn you right now that this post is going to disappoint you, probably profoundly. Of course, not that anyone would believe any such thing about me--after all, I was the one who, uh, went on the grey foods kick, ruined the gingersnaps, got scared of intruders when my brother and parents were away for less than three hours, and, most memorably, couldn't make it through a day of house-sitting for some friends. But, like I said, just in case any big-hearted people out there have clung to idyllic dreams regarding my domesticity, prepare yourselves for a real eye-opener.

I'll lead into the story gradually--wouldn't want to give anybody congestive heart failure or anything. So. (Deep breath.) Today I was "working" on my computer, getting ready to make cookies (ha. See, I'm not totally worthless!) and minding my own business when I heard the sprinklers turn on. (You shouldn't be concerned about where this story is going yet: the sprinklers at the Hearn House come on on a fairly innocent and frequent basis.) I looked out the screen door and noticed--no way!--some sprinkler part had come loose and was spraying a highly pressured stream of water.
Into my living room. (Okay. Go ahead and get concerned now.)
I ran outside and closed the screen door so that our (newish) carpet wouldn't be drowned to death, and then went over to the sprinkler in an attempt to redirect the floodgates. No luck. Now I was drenched, the porch was drenched, the house was drenched, and the carpet was drenched. I couldn't get it to turn off.
Just when it seemed like anything couldn't get any worse, it did.

Right now we have a bunch of these hanging in on our porch:

See, my dad has been, uh, "re-seeding" our lawn, and, involved in that process has been a considerable amount of "manure". (There is no other way to tactfully write that sentence.) This has made for an increased number of flies, and, let me tell you, those fly catchers are extremely effective.

I found that out when my hair got caught in one. If you're shuddering right now, trust me, it's much worse to actually go through it than to read about it. The worst thing of all was that, besides the sticky gunk all over the fly catchers, there were also--surprise, surprise--flies all over the fly catchers. FLIES!

I did the only logical thing I could think of: I hollered for Daniel. "Daniel! Daniel Hearn! Daniel William Hearn! Come out here!"
He didn't hear me, because, he was busy being a regular Cinderella and cleaning the bathroom at the far end of the house. I had to disentangle myself from the "Revenge" flytrap (the name seems ironic now) and go inside to call him, and, when he finally heard me, we went outside to tackle the project itself.

I have to give it to Daniel.
He really did try his best, and, if I would have had the initiative, I probably would have tried the same remedy he did. But, in any case, it didn't work out so swell. We ended up with another geyser when he accidentally unscrewed a valve that he wasn't supposed to.

By this time I was somewhat frantic, and, while Daniel heroically went to the garage to fiddle with the watering timer (a machine I've always been a little--hello, lot--intimidated by) I decided to be equally heroic in standing in front of the spray, under the conviction that it was better to get myself wet than to let the house and concrete get wet. We were at somewhat of an impasse for the next while, largely unsuccessful in our respective responsibilities. Finally we switched (with him acting as the barrier between the water and the house, and me trying my hand at manipulating the water timer). I did what I should have done in the beginning--called my mom on her cell phone to consult her regarding her advice in the situation. Mom didn't know the answer (probably one of the only things in the whole wide world she doesn't know the answer to) and therefore we mutually decided to ask Emily.

I've mentioned before that Emily is considerably more domestically capable than I am, and she did not disappoint. "Go look at the timer. The indicator will be straight up. Turn it counter-clockwise to the eleven-o'clock position." I was a little skeptical, and did what she said, turning the dial to the eleven o'clock ("system off") position (duh). I yelled, towards the backyard, "DANIEL! IS IT OFF YET?!?"

Of course, it did turn off, and things did calm down. It was extremely embarrassing to have to relate the story to my family, as I'm sure the instance just confirmed for them how terribly incapable I am. (Note to self: remind future husband to teach me how to operate watering timer before he ever leaves to go anywhere.)

At least the cookies turned out.