Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last post of 2008

I felt like I had to just write something down for the last day of 2008. We aren't doing anything terribly exciting. We're in the middle of 2 weeks off from work (yay!), and every year during this time we usually do a LOT of cleaning and organizing in the house. We make a list of each room and what we want to do, and slowly make our way through, hoping that one year we'll actually finish every task. Every time my mom calls, she asks what J is doing and I say, "cleaning and organizing". She says, "That's what he was doing yesterday!" Yep, it's a long list. But we've finished up a few rooms already, and it's so nice to walk in and feel good about what we've accomplished. That kitchen wall (the one where I bought paint for it 2 years ago) is finally painted. The bathroom cabinets are organized. Dumb stuff, but it feels so good.

I'm feeling a little under the weather today, and it's cold, windy, and snowy outside, so we're staying put for NYE. I plan to knit into the new year, since it's a good comfort activity and I have a ton of projects I feel the need to either start or finish.

Work on Monday is going to stink after this...

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2009. Be safe tonight and have fun, whatever you do to ring in the new year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas at our house

Since my family lives far away and because we're so spread out, we pick names for Christmas. Gifts had been flying back and forth across the country, so we thought it would be best to unwrap everything after we got back from visiting J's family and raided the mailbox one more time.


A pile of presents for my husband!


I finally get a picture of my nephews! Thanks little bro!


J checks out the corn griller he got from my mom (his Secret Santa)



I participated in an online Secret Santa with some girlfriends. Don't you just love the paper my SS picked out? And her gifts were so thoughtful.



Hobbes checks out the shredded paper that came with one of J's gifts.

Christmas in pictures


The tree at J's grandmother's house


All the great grandsons got Nerf guns from Maw.


Chaos ensued


My husband makes potatoes for Christmas dinner


My mother in law, pretending to be excited about a box of rechargeable batteries. It's OK--they went with the digital camera we got in the big box on the left.

Ice ice baby



Ah yes, these are the reasons we were late for Christmas Eve celebrations!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas finally stopped at our house

Since we had a snow day, we finally had time to put up and decorate the Christmas tree.



The baby tree in the entry, which is decorated with Winnie the Pooh characters that J has had since forever.

The big tree. I've never had to assemble an artificial tree before, so it took a few tries to get the branches in their assigned spots. But now that it's all together, it looks great.
We're the lame people who seem to do nothing for Christmas. Before today, we had a candle in 2 windows and that was our only nod to the holiday. Now we have a big ribbon on the door, and you can see our tree in the window.
This was the first time J and I have been able to spend a lot of time on a tree and put on the ornaments together. I LOVED it!



Snow day

Yes, we were part of the seeming majority of the country that got snow today. We knew it was coming for days--my boss even showed up in my office yesterday morning and said, "Stay home." I had a conference call this afternoon, and he wanted me near a phone, not on the road fighting ice, sleet, snow, and other drivers. Hey, what can I say? He had a point.
The weather folks were predicting the snow to start between 6 and 9 am. They were only off by a half hour--the flurries first came in our area around 9:30. They didn't stay flurries for long.



For whatever reason, I always use the evergreen in our yard as a snow indicator. This was late morning.
video
And a nice video of the snowfall. It was SO quiet...
This was about 2pm, before the plows had arrived.
I love these shots. I accidentally left the flash on, so it caught the snow falling. GIANT flakes!
By noon J was home as well. Hobbes had been chomping at the bit to at least look outside. Must be the Siberian in him. We decided to give him a shot at the great outdoors.
Still thinking about whether this snow thing is a good idea.
Scurrying back into the house after eating some greens and prancing in the snow.
An action shot with the snow on his head.
It was a good day :)
The snow had ended, and J even hit the driveway with the snowblower. All is well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hallelujah

Very few songs really touch me, but Jeff Buckley's cover of Hallelujah" is one of them. Check out my blog link to Whispers in the Loggia (it's over there -->) and look for his entry on "Hallelujah x 2". You'll be treated to a live video of the song. Go ahead, I dare ya.

Better yet, check it out here:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pssst...wanna buy a house?






After 2 months of cleaning and prepping, our now former rental is on the market in the lovely town of Trappe, PA. Here are some pix:
The lovely view of the front
The sparkling kitchen

The living room, complete with fireplace

It's beauuuuuuuuuuutiful! Almost makes me want to move into it myself ;)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On a clear day, you can see forever

I swear, the dumbest things make me happy...

I have an old car with a lot of miles on it. It still had the original windshield, despite 2 jobs that required hour-long commutes on highways with tons of debris. Especially I-80, my lovely commute to New Jersey. Believe me, New Jersey has its charms. It gave me a job that I like, and the western half of it is gorgeous. But man, it has a lot of junk on the road.

Last year I got a particularly lovely divot in that windshield, courtesy of one of the semis I share the road with. And it held up through 2 inspections. But last week we had a hard freeze, and the divot turned into a crack. At either end, it was trying to decide how much space it was going to take up on the glass. It was time.

So while I was on travel last week, I got a new windshield. A brand-spanking, no-divot, clear-as-a-bell windshield. I am in heaven.

Until that next pebble heads my way...

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

While we had a relaxing vacation with the parents, I did do a little work while we were there. My parents' house is on a tour of homes over the Christmas season, and Mom wanted to get a jump on her 4 (yes, 4) decorated Christmas trees. Behold...


The "standard" tree, complete with ornaments we've collected as a family over the years.


The candy tree (my mom is so clever), including real candy as ornaments

And then there's the gold tree, in their bedroom. Mom has an array of gold ornaments, including her favorite, the bell ringing Santa. I personally like the gold and glass reindeer.





She's been singing Christmas songs since Wednesday ;)

Say, Dr. L, what's Thanksgiving like in sunny CA?

Well, it's not terribly cold, if my dad's herb garden is any indication.



The roses seem pretty happy, too.


Especially the giant John F Kennedy roses


And what rose garden would be complete without a gorgeous red rose?


Thanks Mom and Dad for a lovely, relaxing stay for Thanksgiving. We can't wait to see you again and return the favor.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

You know how I needed a trip to California?

Well, I got one. Visited my brother, SIL, and nephew in LA, and T treated us to a fruit plate to die for. Persimmons, pineapple guava, pears, apples, and pomegranate. I only wish I had a picture. Take that, PA checkout girl!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!



Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving, whether with friends or family.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tybee Island


I tell ya, nothing beats an off-season visit to an east coast beach town. You can gear up in hat and gloves and have the beach to yourself.




We visited the pier...



And watched the waves hit the shore.





And a good time was had by all...

And they called it a "Civil" War

While we were in Savannah, my friend Michelle rented a car so we could visit Tybee Island. We figured we'd hit a couple of Civil War forts onthe way and see what there was to see.

The first was Old Fort Jackson. It was originally built as an earthen fortress during the Revolutionary War, then underwent improvements during the War of 1812, and was used by the state of Georgia during the Civil War. It isn't a large fort by any stretch of the imagination, but it held a certain charm for me. The static displays were informative of what everyday life at the fort must have been like, and I just got a good feeling from the place. Here are a few snippets.


The storeroom for rations. I loved the "essence of peaches".



The moat. I'm trying to imagine August here, with heat, humidity, and mosquitoes. Yuck.

After our visit to Old Fort Jackson, we headed to Fort Pulaski. While it was under Confederate control early in the Civil War, by 1862 it had been taken over by Union troops, and remained so throughout the rest of the war.


The moat, complete with alligators. This was taken from the upper level, where all the cannon were arrayed to defend the fort.


Methinks this cannon has seen better days. But note the wheels on the back and the track it was on, so it could be positioned as needed.


For a time Fort Pulaski was used as a POW camp, and the Confederate soldiers were ill treated in retaliation for whatever was going on in Andersonville and beyond. There's a small cemetery that's part of the entrance to the fort to remind us of the horrors of war.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Georgia on my mind

For the last several years, I've wanted to visit Savannah. I attempted a girls' trip here with my mom in April, but--things happened, and plans fell through. My wonderful husband said it would make a great 40th birthday present for me. My college girlfriends agreed, and all 4 of us met up for a weekend together.

The picture above is from Forsyth Park, one of the many parks and squares in Savannah. We took a long walk through the area this weekend, including the riverfront. We even got into an open house for a historical home for sale along the park. Anyone have a spare $1.5 million?

The architecture in Savannah is gorgeous, as evidenced by these shots from St. John the Baptist Cathedral. I could have spent half the day in there looking at the stained glass and the frescoes painted on the walls.



A visit to lowcountry wouldn't be complete without pictures of Spanish moss. My mom told me that she and her mom used to dye it different colors for Christmas decorations when she was growing up.


And then there's the food. We got a package deal at the Marshall House, which gave us a discount at one of 5 fabulous restaurants in Savannah. We decided on The Olde Pink House, and we weren't disappointed. We each got a different appetizer to share with the table, and did the same with our entrees. We were a little stingier with dessert ;) I got the praline basket filled with fruit. Yum!



The husband and I definitely want to return to Savannah. There are a few more shops and squares we didn't get to see, and I know they're just waiting for us...












Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I need a trip to California

We went grocery shopping on Sunday, and I bought a beautiful artichoke. The gal at the register looked at J and said, "What is this?" He had to tell her what she was holding.

I need to visit CA soon. I need some fresh produce with a lot of variety, where you don't get cashiers who have never seen an artichoke before.

BTW, I had it the night after we bought it, and it was perfect.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!

Once upon a time, there was a smart, handsome man who joined the Navy ROTC so he could be the first man in his family to graduate from college. After receiving his commission, he learned to fly jets and went off to fight an unpopular war in a far away land. Over the years he endured long separations from his family and enjoyed the times he could have shore duty and be reunited with his growing clan. He married a wonderful woman who became a fantastic Navy wife, and had 3 kids who adjusted to the ups and downs of being military brats. He served near (San Diego) and far (Diego Garcia). After 23 years of faithful service, he retired from the military, but remained close to its community. To this day he still counsels those who are transitioning from military service to life in the civilian world, sometimes not an easy task.

Happy Veterans Day Dad. Thanks for your dedication as a member of our armed forces. And thanks to all the men and women who have served or continue to serve.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dear Dr. Office

A vent, by Dr. L:

I had an 8:30 am dr. appt. today. I informed work I would be late, I got up early, and I arrived 10 minutes before my appt., like a good patient. As soon as the receptionist opened her window, I knew there would be trouble. My dr. had an emergency at the hospital and wasn't there. I asked what happened next, and no one had an answer for me. After a call to the back office, I was told to wait and "someone will come talk to you".

Mind you, this office has seen some serious turnover in the last couple of years, they have a high patient volume, and they're notorious for having to handle emergencies at the hospital. I thought they had put some sort of plan in place for such an occasion. I was wrong.

After 40 minutes, I was still waiting. Reading a 3-month-old Newsweek (did you know John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his VP running mate?). No one had even glanced at me, much less talked to me. I had enough.

I went back to the front desk, told the receptionist I had to leave, and that I'd call to reschedule later. She said OK. No apology, no offer to figure something out, nothing. Just another blank stare and a shift back to her paperwork.

The kicker? If I had been the one to not show up, I would be charged $25. But I doubt it works the other way around if the dr. doesn't show up.

Maybe I should try and bill them $25...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Advantage to "falling back"

OK, so after Daylight Saving Time is over, I have to drive home in the dark. And that's a PITA. But I found one advantage: no sun glare!

Usually at mile 2 of my 50+ mile commute, all forward movement stops. This happens to coincide with the first curve we hit where the setting sun hits dozens of car windshields. Then we sit around waiting for people to adjust to the sun. My commute turns into about a 90-minute adventure from there on out.

I am happy to report that today I had an hour commute, and no slowdown at mile 2. Just smooth sailing, even though it was raining.

Hurray!

Thank goodness it's over

I'm a very apolitical person. I hate politics in general, mostly because I seem to hear a bunch of people who make promises they can't/won't keep, and when people stop listening to that, the candidates attack the other guy (or gal) running against them. I also come from a "mixed marriage" of a Southern Democrat married to a moderate Republican, and I was raised to not discuss politics or religion in polite conversation. I live in a little town where all politics is local, and I'm much more interested in who's running as my tax auditor than who's running for president.

I do pay attention, though, especially this year. I had a tough time with who I would choose for President, since neither candidate was perfect (admit it), and each was against certain issues that I support. And neither of them talked about those issues much, if at all.

I also live in a swing state. So the husband and I were bombarded with phone calls and mail this election. McCain was going to take away my right to an abortion. Obama was going to take away my money and give it to the rest of America. And so on.

I came home from a business trip last night to find 12 voicemails on my answering machine. All but one were campaign-related. We had calls from Obama, McCain, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and a bunch of random folks representing both sides of the issues. I didn't listen to a single one of them, especially since I had already voted. The husband threatened to answer the phone all day and night and tell people he was voting for Ron Paul.

So now it's over. We have a new president-elect, and no matter what party you support, you have to admit it's amazing that the US of A has elected an African-American president.

I'm looking forward to a quiet house without the phone ringing off the hook, TV with commercials touting ED drugs instead of bashing political candidates, and junk mail promising me a great refinancing interest rate.

Happy post-Election Day, everyone.