Sunday, March 20, 2016

Weekends are everything...........

So, it was a pretty great weekend. And not because we did something spectacular, but because of a lot of little things that added up to......everything.

Jeff was gone all week to San Diego for a conference and to visit his mom, grandma and aunt, plus other family members. He also did some "honey-do" stuff around his mom's house, managed to get in a little surfing, and visited a friend. So, having him come home Saturday night was highly anticipated. Except his plane was delayed and he arrived three hours late. At midnight. But, that paled in comparison to having him home, snuggled up next to me in our bed with clean sheets, talking till 3 a.m. That was pretty cool.

Harrison and Arlie had their state thespian festival this weekend. We always go to watch their performances, so, in anticipation, I booked an Airbnb place a few months back. Hotel rooms are hard to come by with that many visitors in a small college town, so I was being proactive. But then Jeff's trip came up and so I figured I'd take Hannah with me. But then Hannah had movie plans with friends so I asked Hayley to come. And she and Megan decided to take the time off work and come with me. I messaged the Airbnb to make sure they could accommodate the extra person and was assured they could.

When we arrived, Harrison's one-act play was about to start so we went to that first (it was great!) and then drove by the Airbnb place. It didn't have great curb appeal and was on a street with unkempt homes and yards, but I figured it was an older neighborhood so no big deal. But later, when we went to check in, the home was cluttered, not very clean and the basement bedroom was a little creepy. The host didn't seem ready for us at all, stopping to move clutter on our way through the house, and telling us the towels were still in the dryer - it was 5:30 p.m. so it seemed she just wasn't very together on the whole thing. She also remarked a couple of times that she "hasn't done this" before so we wondered if it was the first time she'd rented out a room - except her reviews were glowing and it appeared she'd been in the business quite some time. It was very confusing and her demeanor was odd - her pants were unzipped, her shirt was gaping and her belly was showing, and she appeared confused. I could tell the girls were horrified and I didn't feel comfortable sleeping there. We didn't check in, claiming we were going out for a while, and I started thinking up excuses of why we couldn't stay there. I could tell her one of the kids got sick and we had to go home. But, in the end, I decided to be honest and just tell her the truth. She didn't make any excuses and quickly offered a refund. I'm still scratching my head about the whole experience but since we had nothing but great experiences in our past Airbnb stays, I decided to just chalk this one up as our first bad experience. I'm glad we live only an hour and a half away and were able to drive home for the night.

Since Hayley and Megan were planning to be away overnight, they decided to spend the night at my house. We arrived home, made food, and watched a movie with Rylie and Hannah. We laughed and had a great time, capping the evening by singing old John Lithgow tunes from a kids' tape the girls used to listen to all the time when they were little. I'm sure Rylie and Megan thought we were nuts, but it was hilarious and we laughed and laughed. That was pretty cool.

Saturday morning Hayley made breakfast after we all slept in a ridiculously long time. I spent some time de-cluttering, giving tons of stuff away and cleaning in anticipation of Jeff's arrival home. It was great to get rid of things and get all the laundry done, even if my back was killing me for some reason. It was just nice to be home and have time to get things done so that next week doesn't feel overwhelming. Pretty cool.

Sunday morning, we slept in a ridiculously long time again. Jeff puttered around the house doing projects while I went shopping, both for food for the week and Easter bunny stuff since I won't be around later in the week to do that. I think I left my car lights on because I came out of a store to a dead battery, but thanks to my husband, I had a portable starter with me and jump-started the car by myself in just a few minutes. Instead of being in a bad mood because of the inconvenience, I was just happy I had this important tool at the ready and I didn't have to call and bother anyone to rescue me! I managed to get everything ready for Easter, and Jeff is going to cook a nice meal. Arlie had a "date" that she invited over for dinner and we had a taco bar and watched a movie, capped off by homemade peanut butter/chocolate bars. While I was making the dessert, the kids were talking. laughing, braiding each other's hair and it was just.......nice. I love being home and hanging out with my family. The previous week was SO busy - I was gone till 10 p.m. or later nearly every night and with Jeff out of town as well, I had to call on the kids to take care of some things like dinner - Hannah "adulted" quite well and made a couple of nice dinners and even bought treats for St. Patrick's day.

So, yeah. I love weekends. I don't care if we do anything special or fun, I just love being home, even if it means doing some chores, or cooking, because it's not rushed. The rest of the week is a blur of activity and rushing, and the weekend is the exact opposite. It's pretty cool. Weekends are everything!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Good dog, Georgette!

The house is so quiet today. No tip-tapping of too-long toenails on the hardwood floors. No heavy thud of a too-old doggie body thumping on the floor in exhaustion from following me around all day. No barking - heh, just kidding. She never barked. My always-quiet, very stoic, sweetly loyal little shadow, my Georgette, is no longer with us.

Georgie came into our lives when she was just a puppy - a bundle of warm, black, furry, tumbling goodness. It was a perfect fit from the start - the kids were still little, I was ready for a puppy (or so I thought!), and she blended seamlessly into our busy lives, accompanying us on road trips, camping, everywhere.

Poor Georgie had a lot of...shall we say...mishaps, along the way. When she was newly-spayed, she got bored with her forced convalescence and followed her dad up the stairs and into the bedroom where he had carefully removed a window screen so he could go out and clean the gutters. Georgette took one leap onto a bin full of toys and another right out the window. Too late to save herself, she realized she was on the slanted slope of the roof and no amount of sharp dog claws was enough to save her eventual tumble to the ground. Shocked, we rushed out to check her welfare (letting out a string of expletives along the way) and found her to be cowering and bleeding slightly. Worried she'd split her belly open since it was shaved and held together with recent stitches, we rushed her to the emergency vet. The diagnosis? An abrasion on her chin. That's all. Superdog flew from the second story and lived to tell about it.

The injuries continued and included a torn ACL, injured hips, and even paralysis but the dog with nine lives continued to bounce back. Along the way, she was the most loyal, playful, happy dog ever. She loved to play outside with the kids, and never had to be restrained on a leash, because she was so good about staying close. She loved car rides and beaches, walks in the woods and apples. She was a great companion and never more than a few steps away at any time (ok, she was usually underfoot, but you get the picture!).

For years, she slept next to my side of the bed every night. I bought her many dog beds over the years but she never liked any of them and preferred the plain carpet and snuggling with her pink, fuzzy blanket. She would push and scrunch it around and most mornings I'd wake up to see her clutching it in her "arms" like a little kid. We went on a long trip last summer and when we returned she took to sleeping at the foot of our bed for some inexplicable reason. Two nights before she crossed the rainbow bridge, she slept next to my side of the bed again; a precious goodbye.











Even in her advanced age, she would suddenly burst into playfulness, crouching down and waiting to spring up and run in circles. She could jump like a basketball star until her old hips betrayed her. The kids would spend hours throwing snowballs or tennis balls into the air, watching her jump to catch them. Even water from the hose would make her leap into the air like a gazelle.

One of her best qualities is that she never barked. Sure, when the doorbell rang, she'd announce her presence (until she got too old to hear it), but, unlike other dogs (I'm looking at you, Shade), she never barked incessantly. The downside of that is she also never announced (loudly) her intention to relieve herself so potty training took a full three years (I shudder to think what the floor looks like under the carpet) and she had a lot of accidents in the house if we weren't on top of letting her out regularly. But she DID communicate - she would come up to whomever was sitting closest to the door and look at them pleadingly until they let her out. Unfortunately, this telepathic communication is lost on teenagers so only mom could read her signals. Hey, she tried.

She was a super snuggler, and was always up for a cuddle with whomever would join her on the floor. When she could, she jumped up on the couch for snuggles, but eventually she lost that ability, too. Her old eyes clouded but she could still see into your soul. Her ears lost much of their function but she could hear an apple slice drop on the floor from the other room. She was a vegetarian. Not kidding. What kind of dog is a vegetarian? Meat made her itch and she would bite her feet in frustration. Once we figured it out, the only commercially available (read: affordable) food was salmon-based so her breath was toxic. It could peel paint off the walls. It was a daily struggle to reconcile that sweet, always-a-puppy face with that dragon breath. But we managed.

Everyone's dog is a good dog, but Georgie was really one-of-a-kind. She was chill. She was the best hangout buddy, car ride companion, walking partner and counselor ever. She was there when no one else was, quietly offering what she could - quiet companionship. She was a part of our life for nearly 14 years and we already miss her every day. Good dog, Georgette! Rest in peace.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A bright light.......

Today the world lost a bright light in my sweet aunt, Laurie Patton Walton. Laurie is my mom's youngest sister - 20 years span the two sisters - and although she was the youngest child of my grandparents, Dr. Charles Franklin and Evelyn Patton, she became somewhat of a family matriarch after my grandma's passing at the young age of 68.

Laurie was everyone's favorite. She hosted huge gatherings at her gorgeous home. I always loved that house - it had the huge front porch, the acres of land, the expansive interior - that I always wanted in a house. Since we lived far away throughout all of my growing-up years (and still do) I only got to experience a few of those gatherings over the years. But through the magic of Facebook, I was able to share in the experiences through pictures, and I always longed for that family closeness and the abundance of aunts, uncles and cousins living close enough to gather frequently to celebrate.....everything!

My Aunt Laurie was only five years older than me, so she was more like a sibling than an aunt when the families convened. I remember her room upstairs in the huge old house she grew up in. She was a cheerleader and her room was adorned with all the trappings, plus every "cool" thing I could imagine a teenager could have. It was a rare treat to be invited in, and I reveled in the glory of being allowed into her world on one of our visits.

I remember her visiting us when we lived in Salt Lake City, UT. My parents didn't tell us she was coming. I was in the bathroom and someone knocked on the door. I yelled that I'd be out in a minute but the knocking persisted. I opened the door and took a minute to register that it was Laurie standing in front of me, laughing hysterically. Always laughing. Always smiling.

Just shy of four years ago, she and her sisters Mary and Leah (my namesakes) flew to Boise, ID to surprise my mom for her 70th birthday. I missed the reunion, but arrived a day later and what ensued was a weekend of hilarity, practical jokes, goofing around and talking for hours. It was SO much fun. I still cherish the video I took of Laurie jumping on the air mattress where my (very hungover) brother Doug was sleeping. Always joking around.

Not long after that visit, Laurie began experiencing symptoms of what would soon be diagnosed as ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. The disease affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It attacks randomly and the symptoms vary widely. For Laurie, it meant losing her voice, ability to swallow, and, eventually, the ability to walk. It's a horrible, wasting disease that robs a person of their livelihood while often preserving their brain function so that they are completely aware of the progression of the disease. Other times, dementia becomes a symptom. It's quick and brutal, and often strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70. The mean survival time is 3-5 years. It robs people in the prime of their lives and extinguishes their light way too soon.

For me, I will miss her infections smile and her fun spirit. I will miss her peanut butter fudge, and the way her family was totally devoted to her before, during and after the disease. I will miss that I was never a part of that huge, extended family that held so many celebrations and who have always been there for one another, supporting each other, going to games, celebrating milestones - and though I was unable to be there physically, I loved seeing it all on Facebook. And every time I visited, I was always made to feel welcome and included. When I took my young family to visit, I fondly remember a night we stayed up until the wee hours just talking - Laurie, her husband Dirk, and me, holding my toddler son, jostling him to sleep. The three of us talked and talked and passed around the sleeping baby and caught up on years' worth of lost time.

Another time we visited and stayed with Laurie, my husband was so sick. As it turned out, he had pneumonia and slept away most of our family reunion. Laurie was so sweet and made sure he was comfortable and had a quiet place to sleep. A little over a year ago, the family was having a celebration for Laurie's birthday. I told my husband I really needed to be there. He agreed and we both flew out for a week-long trip that turned out to be so wonderful. Although Laurie could no longer speak, she had no problem communicating and she and I looked through pictures together for a long time. She wrote down recipes for me. She got up and made spaghetti for Isaac, her pasta-loving son, who ate her special spaghetti every day. Saying goodbye was especially hard because I knew it would probably be the last time.

And even though you know it's coming, it's never easy when death happens. The shock is still there and the disbelief that such a beautiful spirit would no longer inhabit this Earth. I am blown away by how many lives she touched. How many people go out of this world having made an impact on literally hundreds of lives? I'm told her funeral will be held at the high school because the whole county will be attending. I wish I could be there to witness that kind of outpouring of love and support. The world won't know the name Laurie Patton Walton like they know a celebrity or public figure. But she was a celebrity nonetheless - just try to find a person in her community who's heart isn't broken today. She was a star - in the best and brightest sense.

Life is so unfair. ALS sucks so much. And Laurie will be so very, very missed.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

First time for everything.........

Today, for the first time ever, I ate in a restaurant for Thanksgiving. Mountain Man and I went to a local steakhouse where he ordered a steak with bleu cheese and bacon and I had pistachio-crusted salmon. Hey, at least I had garlic mashed potatoes! It was delicious and we topped it off with creme brulee and cheesecake with pumpkin drizzle. So, basically I bookended my day with pie, since our morning started off with a very early trip to the airport, followed by breakfast at Denny's nearby while we ensured our precious cargo actually made it airborne before we got all the way home (holiday travel is fickle). My pie at Denny's sucked so I only ate three bites. But, still, pie to start and end the day is never bad.

Except I'm on Weight Watchers so of course those indulgences are forbidden. But it's Thanksgiving so I'm giving myself a pass. Last night I was really hungry and wanted ice cream. As Jeff dug into the carton of coffee ice cream, I mentioned I'd really like a milkshake, but that I was out of points for the day. Licking the spoon, he yelled "Hold the line! Don't give up!" Can you tell he was watching "Gettysburg" just before his dessert? Needless to say, his Civil War motivation did little to quell my cravings, but I did not indulge and went to bed with my stomach growling.

Speaking of Civil War, since we just returned from our trip back East and having just visited Gettysburg, Antietam and other historic places, Jeff has been obsessed with watching movies and reading about these places. I guess we should have done our homework BEFORE the trip, but after is fine, too, since it's history, right? Still, he talks about it all the time. This morning, he was drawing imaginary fighting lines on the table at Denny's, explaining some strategy or other while I was busy texting Arlie at the airport. (I'm listening.......really...).

I remembered that I usually do some online shopping on Thanksgiving morning, but the crack-of-dawn trip to the airport kind of threw me off. Still, I logged on during the commute, and completed a few transactions. God bless smart phones!

When I got home I had a sudden urge to make this coffeecake I'd had once about 15 years ago. I have no idea what made me think of it again, but I picked up a can of cherry pie filling at the store just to make it so I looked for the ingredients. The first ingredient was Bisquick and I only had enough to make half the recipe, but that was fine since there were only four people in the house at the time. I was reminded that my box of Bisquick was from Costco, a place I have not ventured into for almost a year. I let my membership laspe, even! Gasp! But tomorrow I have to pick up my Christmas card that I ordered from Costco so I'm sure I'll have to renew my membership. If anything, I'll appreciate the ginormous packages of toilet paper because we go through that stuff like water.

I did some more online shopping today. What a cluster! It's so confusing to navigate all the black Friday specials (yes, it's Thursday, it just gets earlier and earlier each year) and it gives me a headache and anxiety trying to shop for four kids. Plus, one significant other and two extras we've acquired for the uncertain future. Yes, this year I have seven kids to shop for - all teens and young adults. I'm going to need a lot of Bailey's and Xanax to get through the season.

But today is about Thankfulness........and I'm truly thankful for everything in my life. I mean, I'm thankful every day - for my beautiful, but cluttered and often messy home, for my comfortable bed and the old electric blanket I found at grandpa's that still works great and keeps me so warm at night, for waking up with various kids under my roof, always happy to have them around for their goofiness, laughter and the way they amaze me every day with how smart they are. I'm thankful for food and flowers and my sweet old dog, and my lazy cats, and adventures with Mountain Man, and the fact that, even though not all Thanksgivings are full of family and friends and a turkey in the oven, a fruity adult beverage and the company of my husband are just as welcoming on a day we celebrate gratitude. I'm lucky.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Un-Thanksgiving......

It's Thanksgiving eve and something is amiss. I did not spend hours in a frenzied store. I have not spent the evening baking pies. I will not get up early to put a turkey in the oven. You see, the offspring will be spending Thanksgiving at their other parents' houses. For the first time, Mountain Man and I will be spending Thanksgiving alone, and it's not as terrible as it sounds.

For one thing, it was my idea. Arlie has not been to see her mom since April so I booked her a ticket earlier this month so she could spend the long weekend visiting her Spokane family. I had a mild panic this evening when I could not only NOT find the email confirmation of her reservations, but also no record of ever paying for it. I began to question whether I'd lost my fool mind and never booked the ticket at all. A long day of driving over the pass in snow loomed ahead. But, joy! I found the reservation and she's checked in. The only downside is she leaves at 8 a.m. so there will be a VERY early morning trip to the airport.

The other kids will go to their dad's new house to celebrate their first Thanksgiving there. And so, that leaves Jeff and I with no plans. We entertained the idea of going to a restaurant - letting someone else cook sounded like a pretty great idea! But we delayed making reservations and so now, I'm afraid, everything is booked. We were also invited to a dear friend's mom's house, but Mountain Man is still holding out for a restaurant. I guess we could always walk in somewhere.

The other caveat is that two of the kids have barfed multiple times in the past 24 hours so we're still on barf watch. As in, who's next? The distinct possibility that one or more of us will wake up tomorrow feeling decidedly NOT like partaking in Thanksgiving dinner is high. So, better to lay low and not spread our potential germs anywhere (except maybe a restaurant? Sorry.)

Additionally, we've unexpectedly had house guests with an uncertain future and no timeline for checking out, so we have been strategizing how to handle that.

And, honestly, I'm completely fine with not cooking a big dinner. Or even eating one. We did "Friendsgiving" last weekend and that was MY kind of Thanksgiving. Yeah, it was work - we cooked a turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, a veggie dish......but the guests all brought contributions, everyone had a good time and we got to visit with people we don't see as often as we'd like. I feel like I got my Thanksgiving fix so I kept forgetting that tomorrow is the actual holiday.

The only thing I'm truly bummed about is all the desserts I'll miss. Pumpkin pie, cookies, pecan pie...but those aren't on my diet plan anyway. But, let's be honest, if I had some, I'd eat it.

It feels weird to not have any plans at all; weirder still that I orchestrated it. There was a time,  not long ago, that I could not imagine not seeing my kids on a holiday. I do not enjoy sharing my kids. But life has a funny way of marching on, and they get older and busier and this will just be the first of many Thanksgivings that Mountain Man and I will be spending alone. Might as well get used to it! Heck, I'm falling asleep as I type this at 9 p.m. so a day full of peace, quiet and rest sounds pretty good to me. I'm officially old.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 19 So lazy............

Today is my Friday. I work M-Th and today at work, about a half hour before I was off, I got that "HELL, YEAH! IT'S FRIDAY!" feeling, only on a Thursday. And that, my friends, is a great feeling.

I arrived at work today on an empty gas tank - ok, not empty, I had four miles left - but it was clear I needed to acquire some gas before I went home, since I live ten miles from work. So, I headed down to the Safeway so I could use my gas points.

I hate pumping gas. And I really hate it when the stupid pump isn't working. It would not accept my Safeway card. So, I had to go INSIDE (I know!) and ask the lady to help me. She had me type in my phone number but nothing came up. I used my old phone number and my ex-husband's information came up. I should have just used his gas points, because he stole my Fred Meyer points for FOUR years after we divorced before I realized it. But, my halo was burnin' so I didn't. I did, however, finally have to succumb to pre-paying since even the station attendant couldn't make the pump work. I decided to be conservative and had her put $40 on the pump. It stopped at $37.31. So, I had to go BACK inside and get my change. SIGH. I really hate getting gas in my car. I wish my husband would just fill it up once a week so I didn't have to deal with it (adjusts pearls).

Anyway, the beautiful thing was, I didn't really have any other errands to do so I knew I could just go home and relax. What a feeling! I stopped by Starbucks, of course, so I could relax while enjoying a holiday beverage.

When I got home, I saw two kids' cars in the driveway. Oh. So much for my solitude, sipping my peppermint beverage and munching on a marshmallow krispy bar while checking my social media. I mean, I LOVE my kids but I was not expecting them to be home. One zipped out the door minutes after I arrived and the other one took off not 30 minutes later, so I actually DID have my solitude and my treats and my social media, even if it was slightly delayed.

And that's pretty much all I did the rest of the night. I sat on my ample ass and scrolled through Facebook, and did some online shopping, and checked my email.

You know what I got up for? To make food and video tape my husband flipping a plastic cup off his ass. Not kidding. I'm telling you, Thursday nights around here are riveting.

I'm so tired I could go to bed right now and it's 7:22 p.m. It's also freezing in my house and I actually got a heater and put it on the chair next to me. Which is only making me sleepy. Or sleepier.

Meanwhile, Mountain Man biked three miles home in the 45 degree weather, and immediately set to making things out of leather and sticks and stuff. He's been a busy bee all night, going back and forth to the garage. He gets shit DONE. And, yeah, I always manage to get done what needs to be done, but he makes me look like a sloth. I could be doing any number of things today instead of wasting my life on social media. Like: cleaning the house, baking for our Friendsgiving this weekend, organizing my office, making jewelry, scrapbooking, doing laundry, organizing cabinets, brushing the dog,

I think I thrive on crisis mode, because instead of doing a little bit every day to get ready to have people over, I just go bat-shit crazy the day of the event and get myself worked into a sweaty frenzy cleaning, prepping and shouting orders at the kids. I make mental notes of things needing to be done, details I want to attend to. You know what's been on my mind all week? The fact that I want to tie raffia around the decorative holiday tea towels in the bathroom and kitchen. I have a thousand things to do and the one detail my brain holds all week is tying raffia bows on towels. I'm sick, I tell ya. I need an intervention.

I think I'll beg the husband to make me a milkshake and go to bed early.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November 17 and the big windstorm...

Today we had a windstorm. We knew it was coming but of course, no one can predict how much damage, if any, will happen. We had a big storm in August that uprooted trees and left people without power for days.

Today's storm also knocked out power, blew trees down on major highways and cars, and carried a good amount of rain with it.

I really hate windstorms. Mainly because there is this REALLY tall tree right in my back yard. You see, my neighborhood was constructed 15 years ago by basically razing all the trees and leaving this patch of trees right in the middle which were not meant to be strong and firm. These trees were once protected by much stronger, bigger and more wind firm trees. These trees are spindly - long, skinny, with few branches at the bottom but top-heavy with foliage. Perfect for snapping off in bad weather. In fact, I've actually watched two trees fall right outside my window and it's a stunning sight. And also frightening when they hit neighbors' houses and fences.

So, most every time the wind picks up, I spend a fair amount of time checking on "the butter knife" as I've affectionately named my tall tree. I feel like one day, it's going to slice through my house like a knife through butter. We're right in the way, after all. It would make a clean cut through my bedroom, coming to rest in my kitchen and family room. I've actually seen first-hand what it looks like when a large tree cuts through a house and it's quite terrifying. So, this tree and I, we've had a long relationship.

Now, chances are, if the tree actually does fall, it will fall away from the house due to the direction of the wind. But I'm not taking any chances. I have leapt from my bed more than once when I've heard, in the wee hours of the night, the howl of the wind, the shake of the house, and the unmistakable snap, crackle and pop of a tree falling in the woods. I've run to the door to escape, only to be thwarted by a false alarm again and again. Still, I'm not taking any chances. I've even made all the kids sleep on the living room floor in what I deem to be the safest distance from any tree damage on particularly harsh weather nights.

Today, when I left work, I was startled by a loud sound - a tree branch had come down on top of my minivan as I exited the parking lot. Too stunned to even get out and check, I drove off, my mission to get home to my safe haven on the top of my mind. But what safe haven? The Butter Knife was waiting for me. Damn him.

I've read disconcerting accounts of accidents involving trees. Just today, another fatality was caused by a falling tree on the very road Mountain Man and I drove on just two weeks ago during a Sunday afternoon exploring adventure. What a terrible way to go! I'm so paranoid of a tree falling on me, I actually spend my time driving looking up more than at the road, thereby putting myself in even more danger. This is why I should stay home during windstorms.

Lucky for us, our power stayed on, despite flickering here and there. We had a warm dinner prepared on the gas stove, so even if the power had gone out, we could still have prepared food. It's a bit blustery out, still, but likely by morning the winds will have fizzled out and power will be restored to all. Crossing our fingers.

Still, this is our November in the Pacific Northwest. Windstorm after windstorm and rain upon rain. November is a drizzly, cold, miserable month in a lot of ways. But I'm not complaining. My evening obligations were canceled because of the storm, and I made a pot of homemade chili and a pan of cornbread. My son lit the candles, and my husband and I caught up on the tv show we missed last week when we were traveling. My daughter, thoughtful in her preparations, had gathered flashlights and candles in the event of a power outage. I had time to hang out with my college kid, listen to music (and to her singing, always a bonus!) and watch videos. And, as the house grew quiet, time for blogging.

So, as much as I hate windstorms, I appreciate an unexpectedly free evening, even if I do have to keep a sideways eye on the Butter Knife. One of these days..........


Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 15, not the highlight reel..........

So, I just returned from a wonderful vacation where I blogged daily, uploaded lovely pictures, and basically had a great time. And the whole experience reminded me how social networks show us the "highlight reel" of our lives. For instance, I'm not always frolicking in a national park, tossing fall leaves like I haven't a care in the world:


But, that's what makes the social networks, because who thinks to take pictures of the embarrassing things? 

Like that time in the Baltimore airport (last week) when I had to go to the bathroom and there were no seat covers and I didn't want to take time to cover the seat with toilet paper because I had to pee so bad. So, I squatted and I.......missed. Yes, I dribbled pee on the back of my jeans and underwear. It wasn't a lot but enough to make me think "Shit, how am I going to dry that out when I'm about to sit in a rental car for an hour?" So, I did the only thing I could - I grabbed a handful of paper towels, folded them, and shoved them down the back of my pants to absorb the dampness. And silently cursed the Baltimore airport for not having seat covers. (Fun fact: there were NO seat covers ANYWHERE on this trip - not a single public restroom had them - why?? Is that an East coast thing? Because, gross). Anyway, no picture of THAT! You're welcome. 

Also? Sometimes I wake up and my hair looks like this: 

Today, November 15, 2015. Not sorry. 

And today, since it was the day after returning from vacation, I had to go to the store and stock up since the kids ate food while I was gone (imagine!) and the cupboards were bare. Not really, we had plenty of food, but Cheez-Its were on sale 2 for $5 and who am I to pass up a sale? So, off to the store I went. On a Sunday. Just before the Seahawks game. GREAT timing. Several thousand of my closest friends were there so maneuvering the aisles was a challenge. In the produce section, right next to the (appallingly sparse) display of tomatoes, stood a woman, doing absolutely nothing. She was blocking the aisle, holding a small basket of groceries and staring into space. I think. She was wearing sunglasses so I really don't know where she was staring. The point is, she didn't MOVE when I came barreling through with my cart and instead of politely saying "Excuse me!" I tried to squeeze my cart between her and the sturdy post next to me. Calamity ensued. I brushed up against the fire extinguisher secured to the pole (clearly not very well-secured) and it sprang free from its holder and went clattering to the ground. I instinctively turned away because I was certain it was going to break and spray white foam everywhere but, thank goodness, it didn't spring a leak. However, imagine a full metal fire extinguisher hitting the concrete floor from a three-foot height and I was an instant (dubious) celebrity. Every head turned. I fumbled to replace it on the holder, but was unsuccessful. I scanned the area for an employee to help and said to the first name tag I saw "I knocked that off the wall" to which she replied "I know" with an eye roll. Well, excuse me! Clearly she had it under control so I gingerly placed it upright on the ground and walked away as it fell over again. 

See? No picture, but a video would have been awesome, right? 

Also, today at the store, I was innocently browsing the clearance racks when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was like a fly, only much bigger. I saw something move on the shoulder of a sweater hanging on a display. I seriously thought it was a mouse or a rat for a second and I thought, "Well, there goes the neighborhood" but I realized it was a BIRD! The bird puffed out his feathers and made a hissing sound. I shit you not. He HISSED. I was terrified but also intrigued. I wanted to snap a picture with my cell phone which was in my purse and out of my reach. So, I inched closer and the bird flew erratically to another display. Undaunted, I grabbed my cell phone and snapped away. Closer, closer.........I entertained thoughts of being beak-mauled by this puffy sparrow, but I soldiered on. Because, sometimes you DO get pictures of the not-so-awesome moments: 


He may look cute, but, believe me, he will CUT YOU. 

Finally, today I deep conditioned my hair. This involves glopping copious amounts of conditioner on my hair, putting on a shower cap, and then a towel wrap and letting it sit for twenty minutes (or an hour because I got distracted by the laundry). Anyway, when I was done, I just sort of quickly pulled my hair back in a clip and then decided to put on my new sparkly headband. Which, as you can see, perfectly matches my sparkly gray hair. Which I just colored two weeks ago. So, yeah, I get about nine days of coverage from one $7 bottle of hair color. Embrace the gray you say? I'm SO not ready for that. I also can't afford my awesome colorist's services every two weeks, so this is my life now:


Highlight reel? Most of the time. But this is me, keepin' it real. Hope you had a great Sunday! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November 13 and Mt. Vernon..........

Today we visited Mt. Vernon, George Washington's plantation/home. It was a beautiful day, which was perfect because much of the tour involves walking from place to place and it's a sprawling plantation!

Here we are with George, Martha and their grandkids! 

The house is amazing. 

It's a real, working plantation, with oxen! 

George and Martha are entombed here. 

This is the slave memorial. George freed his slaves upon the death of his wife, Martha. 

The Potomac river - and a big bird in the tree! 

The old tomb. 


Colonial folk

They have a real, working blacksmith on the plantation!

The plantation has flowers, fruits and vegetables. 

So much charm!

After Mt. Vernon, we went to explore Old Town, Alexandria. First, we stopped at Starbucks, which had a buy one, get one for a friend holiday drink promotion. Alex was his own best friend. 


Then, we did a little thrift shopping, where Alex somehow managed to channel both Macklemore and Adele at the same time. Hello. 


The buildings are just so artistic - old architecture, sometimes painted "new" colors. 



The famous fountain - I forgot to ask what it was called. 


Thanks, Alex, for capturing US in a picture! :) 

We drove through the National Mall at night and the Capitol building looked like a Lego structure with all the scaffolding surrounding it. 

The Supreme Court

A very blurry Washington memorial!

Jefferson Memorial

After our long day of walking, touring and shopping, we went to a Vietnamese restaurant for Pho. I had a vermicilli bowl and it was delicious! We stopped at Lena's afterward, a newly-opened restaurant, for drinks and dessert. The gelato was so good! Our last full day on vacation was packed full of adventures. It's been an educational week with all the history we've explored. Tomorrow, brunch with Alex and Tim, maybe a little more shopping, then off to Baltimore to return the rental car and board our plane to Seattle. 



November 12 and Alexandria, VA.........

Today, Jeff's conference was only for two hours so we checked out of hotel and went to Boalsburg. Just outside of State College, Boalsburg's claim to fame is that they started Memorial Day. So, thanks Boalsburg! As with all the small towns around here, Boalsburg has beautiful churches:



And beautiful homes:


We ate lunch at Duffy's Tavern, established in 1819! 


And on our way out of town, we stopped to fill up with gas and saw an Amish woman in a horse-drawn buggy, waiting for her husband in the convenience store. Since they clearly didn't need gas, we wondered what he was getting in the store. He came out with a fountain soda! The buggy had lantern-illuminated "turn signals" and a safety triangle on the back, since it was riding on the road with the cars. 



Love the contrast of the buggy with the gas station sign in the background!

And they're off! 

We started our drive to Alexandria, almost four hours away. The sun was fading fast, making most of our drive in the dark. 


We crossed the VERY wide Susquehanna river and saw this Statue of Liberty replica in the middle of the river! 


We finally arrived at our Airbnb in Alexandria. A sweet couple named Gina and Jemar run this one, and our room was in the basement. We were greeted by this cute sign, and their darling daughter, Sol, who kept us laughing the whole visit! She was a darling, spirited three year old. Our room was well-appointed with everything we needed, a private bathroom, and the charm of old Alexandria. 


My cousins Alex and Tim picked us up and we dined at an amazing BBQ place, followed by custard at The Dairy Godmother. I chose a boozy shake at the BBQ restaurant that was amazing! Afterward, we went to their condo nearby, met Alejandro the cat, and chatted until we were tired and Alex brought us home. It was another long, fun day.