Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good Bye 2008

Sometimes, I look backwards with nostalgia, but never, ever with regret. All in all, it was a good year. Everybody in our little clan is healthy. We gained a wonderful daughter-in-law. And we also gained a multitude of pets. My new kitty is sitting here beside me as I write this post, and my goats are right out in the back yard playing some strange kind of goatie head-butting game. Also? I have the best husband in the world. We are both gainfully employed, the bills are paid, and we are safe, warm and happy. I have no complaints about 2008.

But....2009 is going to be even more fabulous. I just have that feeling. I get these hunches sometimes.

So, anyway, Greg, Lori and the girls are here to ring in the New Year. We are having a low-key celebration. I don't think we should drag the kids out bar hopping tonight...haha. I've got champagne chilling in the fridge and we will toast to the old year and for the new. Happy New Year to all of you. I hope you all have something wonderful just waiting around the corner for you in 2009.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Zoo

Everything here at the ZOO is going well. Dad and Barb left to go home this morning. We have another round of family coming on Tuesday for New Years. Vixen the new kitty has made herself completely at home. She is an awesome cat, really. She house trained to the litter box in no time at all. And this tiny little kitten runs around with no fear at all of all the dogs. In fact, she curled up with Shep, our biggest dog, for a nap this afternoon. They were both completely at peace, just sleeping like babies. Dad and Barb kind of wanted to take her home with them. They have 2 cats already, so she would probably fit right in. But as much as I was afraid that a cat would disrupt the doggy scene around here, now I don't want to let her go. I love her early morning rampages. She wakes up feisty and ready to play. I didn't even mind that she took off all the lower tree ornaments, and ripped off all the bows on the presents. At least she didn't open any of them.

And there are the goats now. They seem to be settling in quite well, too. They follow me around the yard for attention, and that makes me happy. The dogs still aren't completely happy about having goats out in their space, but they have stopped the constant barking, so its going to eventually be ok. I am still stunned that my husband bought me goats. Shock and Awe is an apt description. Oh, I got some other cool stuff....a really beautiful pearl necklace. Its a classic, hand-tied strand, but the pearls are shades of rose, lavender, and white. Its beautiful and I got a matching bracelet with it, too. Also, a set of cookware. Ok, so for those of you who know me, and know my hatred of cooking.....shut up. Hahaha! I needed new pots and pans. I have never really spent much money on decent ones. So I have been researching so I could get exactly what I wanted. That turned out to be Infinite Circulon. It has a non-stick interior that is supposed to be one of the toughest, longest lasting ones on the market. Plus, it is the ONLY set that has been engineered to be able to go into the dishwasher. The dishwasher, people!!! That gift surprised me because even though I had told hubby that I really wanted this set, he vetoed it as being a completely unreasonable expense. Given how much I don't cook. It floored me to open this up on Christmas morning. Its all washed up and put away, ready to use....but we cooked so much stuff over Christmas that we haven't actually had any need to cook anything else since I got it. I'm sure I will get to use it this week though.

Anyway, its been a good year. I have complete faith that 2009 will be every bit as good, possibly even better. I hope the same for all of you. And if you want things to be completely awesome, I suggest getting a GOAT!!! LOL.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All....

Santa brought Vixen the kitten early. But he wasn't quite done yet. Yesterday afternoon he stopped by one more time and brought me these:


I have been teasing my husband for several years about wanting a goat. Now I have 2!!!!!
They are little pygmy goats, and they are full grown.....standing about knee high. They are the cutest things EVER! The black and white one is "Poe", and the dark gray one is "Chaucer".
Clearly these are very literary goats. And I am in love. With the goats, and with the husband who had the wacky sense of humor to go to all the trouble to buy goats. I love you, hubby.

Also? Hubby had to work this morning, and the goats needed hay. I had to drive the big skeery pick up truck downtown to a FEED store and buy bales of hay. This was completely, totally out of my element. But I did it. And the goats seem to be quite happy. I have a full fledged nativity scene going on here tonight.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. We are having a blast around here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Santa came a little early around here.....


Meet Vixen. She's adorable. My husband found her, abandoned, starving, and meowing at the top of her lungs. Who could turn down that sweet little face....? Ok, I KNOW I just wrote a post about how I did NOT want any more pets. But whats that old saying? Something along the lines that whenever we make a plan, God laughs a little. Or a lot. He's having himself quite a chuckle over this one, I'm sure.

So, we've been a dog family for a long time. We are not used to having cats. I had cats when I was growing up, but I've forgotten a whole lot of stuff. For instance, cats are impervious to the baby gates that we use as dog barriers. Nothing is sacred or off limits. Its definitely different, but we are adjusting. She is so cute. She's smart, too. Vixen has already figured out the litter box thing. That was my main concern, but she learns quickly. So far, she has charmed everybody who has come over. Its fun to have a playful little kitten, and even the dogs don't seem to mind. Of course, my dogs are so old and so inactive they view everything with bored indifference.

Merry Christmas to me. Vixen has found herself a home. She has moved right on in, and become quite comfy....and I am actually ok with that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Festive

I'm through with the decorating, the presents are bought and wrapped, and this weekend is the BAKING! This is our tree. Notice the Santa hat-clad Mummy in the back corner.
Haha. I love him. Hannia came over and took a lot of pictures with her fancy new camera. I love how she was able to capture the glow of the tree in very low light. She was/is going to come try to capture the lighting outside after dark one evening, but seriously, its been raining and drizzling every single day for the past week or so. I'm sure she will have a chance though since I like to leave all my decorations up at least through New Years.

Anyway, Erica will be driving home this afternoon, which makes me happy. She has a list of baking that she wants to do, too. My daughter....she can bake. And make the most amazing ice creams. She claims not to be able to actually "cook", but that's just not the case. She prefers to make desserts. I have a feeling she could cook if she really wanted to. She mocks the fact that I make eggo frozen waffles. She, on the other hand, whips up homemade waffles from scratch with all kinds of delicious additions like chocolate chips. She is making homemade Gingerbread waffles for us for Christmas breakfast. She is also having to haul her waffle-maker here with her since I do not own such an animal. I think I used to. But it was never used. Like never even taken out of the box....so it ended up going to Goodwill. Pray for me that I don't gain a hundred pounds or so during this next week. I have every intention of enjoying myself this holiday. But after that? Oh, the healthy eating and the rigid gym schedule will commence. It is going to be mandatory, and I am going to be a total Nazi about it. My husband is already dreading it, even though he knows its good for him.

Speaking of eating and good food, we are all going over to Stephen and Hannia's tonight for dinner. Mexican. Yummy! I have no idea what Hannia is making, but I am sure its going to be good. She also loves to cook. See? With all of these cooks and bakers in the family, maybe its ok that I am only marginal when it comes to the culinary scene. Right? Also, I get to see their Christmas decorations for the first time. The Christmas branch! And I am looking forward to that. There will be pictures.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Retirement Plans.....

Today at worked sucked BIG TIME! On days like these, it helps to fantasize about retiring. I'm nowhere near that yet, but still....we talk about it a lot. We have a tentative plan that goes something like this: We sell off most of our worldly possessions except for the most cherished and necessary and we travel. Not continuously, because seriously I don't like living out of suitcases and being constantly on the move. But more like picking out places that we really enjoy and renting an apartment there for about a year or so. Its hard to get an actual feel for a place if you just visit briefly for a vacation. I would like to get to know these places....really KNOW them firsthand. Experience everything a place has to offer 24/7 for a decent length of time.

Of course, we like to sit back and list the places we would like to live. New York makes the list. Maybe it even makes the top of the list. I could totally live there for at least a while. I'm not sure we could see everything there is to see in a year. There is an energy about that place. A vibe. It feels like the center of the universe. And the shopping....Oh my Lord. The shopping! Thats all I have to say about that!

And then....lets spend a year or so on some beachfront property somewhere NOT in the continental US. Maybe the Virgin Islands. Or maybe Costa Rica or even Mexico. We went to Costa Maya a couple of years ago (on a cruise) and it was beyond beautiful. We went snorkeling at a place just like this:

After that, there just HAS to be a year in New Orleans. I'm not entirely sure my husband will go for that one, but the fact is that I love that place. Like "love" love it. I felt like I had come home the very first time I went there. I think it has something to do with the fact that its a lot like Charleston, SC where I spent a whole lot of time during my childhood. Like Charleston on steriods. I can sit and people watch in Jackson Square for hours on end. I saw the vampires stalking the steps of St. Louis Cathedral while the religious freak screamed about eternal damnation right beside them. Where else in the world can you see that? While having your fortune told by a purple-haired psychic at the same time??? Beautiful. There is a certain weirdness about that place that soothes me. I am weird by nature, myself. I feel perfectly at peace there.

And the list goes on and on. My husband would love to live somewhere out in the desert someplace. Maybe someplace near the Grand Canyon. Actually, if he could, he would probably live right on down in the middle of the Canyon. That one might be a hard sell for me. But if he would deal with the strangeness of New Orleans, I suppose I could deal with the isolation of the canyon. For a year. If we had internet access....haha.

Anyway, these are the thoughts that get me through a hell day at work. It keeps me going. But I don't know if any of these things will ever transpire. I mean, suppose we have grandchildren by retirement ...? Would I rather spend time with my grandkid or people-watch in Jackson Square? Thats a tough call. I have a feeling priorities change as time goes on. But whatever dreams get you through the day.....right?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dog Update

That dog that we found yesterday, (well, technically she found us), DID belong to the people who lived in the house where my husband left her. So it all worked out really well. Bruce ran by there this morning, and they were home so he got to talk to the man who lives there. He never even realized that his dog was missing. She was there when he left and there when he got back yesterday evening, so....he was clueless that she was out having a big adventure. And I am happy that the situation has been resolved in a way that did NOT leave me with yet another dog.
Yay!!!!

Also, we finally put up our Christmas inflatables today. First Bruce wanted to cut the yard one last time to mulch in the leaves. Then we had rain for an eternity, or it was really cold and windy. Have you ever tried to set up one of this 8 ft giant blow up characters in a swift wind? Its almost impossible. But we got around to it today. I had 2. A Grinch with his dog, and a Santa with his reindeer. And to my dismay the Santa was broken. Bruce took it inside and took the motor apart and it had broken off its mount in such a way that was impossible to fix. How sad. Poor Santa is dead. And it left me with only the Grinch, which didn't look right. My yard needs 2. One on either side of the front walk to look balanced. So, I have spent my afternoon running all around town again. In the Christmas crowds....again. And I was getting more and more discouraged because every place that I tried was ALL sold out. Most of the Christmas decorations are sadly picked over already. I ran into Lowe's in a last ditch effort, and there on the empty shelves sat this one last snowman. I really wanted a snowman anyway. And there he was, just waiting for me. So, he's mine now and he is already up in the front yard. So all's well that ends well. Stephen and Hannia just reported that they found the perfect Christmas branch, too.....so we all are having a happy ending for today.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Surprise...its a DOG!!!

I went to Yoga class this morning with Hannia. It was really good because our favorite instructor, Diana, was doing this class even though it said Allison on the schedule. We like Diana best because she is easier to follow. NOT easier on you as far as the routine goes, but she explains it all a little better, and she also explains exactly what body part each pose is working and what it will accomplish for you once you master it. Allison, on the other hand, is extremely sweet, but she is really soft spoken, and sometimes we have trouble hearing her, and she is just not as thorough with her explanations. Also? ...during the meditation at the end, Allison remains relatively quiet to allow us to focus while Diana prepares an actual life lesson to meditate on. I like that better. She reminds us to feel gratitude, to focus on the present, and today it was about setting goals and following intentions.
But anyway, this is not what I meant to write about like at ALL.

When I got home from Yoga there was a strange dog sitting on our porch. I walked into the house to ask my husband about it, but he had no idea it was out there even though he had been out doing stuff in the yard all morning. Apparently it had just decided to visit...? Anyway, I called the animal shelter (which was of course closed) but I left a message with the lost and found department. Then I headed out and around to all the closest houses to knock on doors and see if anybody was missing a little dog. Hardly anyone was home, it being a prime shopping day right before Christmas and all. So I came home and we made a huge sign and stuck it out in the front yard so that anybody looking for this dog could see it. The dog had a collar, but no tags, and let me tell you....we do NOT want to inherit another pet. Not now.

After all this I headed out to try and finish up my own Christmas shopping. Off topic, just let me say that everywhere in town was a bleeding, screaming NIGHTMARE. Traffic sucked, parking was non-existent, and the check out lines were lllloooooonnnnng!!! Ugh! I just got home a little while ago and my husband told me he had "taken care of" the dog. Um,....ok...??? He had put the dog on a leash and walked it around hoping it would recognize home and we could figure out where she belonged. She seemed to be really comfortable with the house just around the corner from us. I had knocked on their door earlier but noone was home. Noone was home then either, but my husband spotted an open dog pen, and a hook/chain like a dog had been there. The dog was eager to go into the pen and all, so it apparently recognized the place...????? We do NOT know for sure, but hopefully its their dog. They are going to find this little surprise present of a dog in their yard even if its not....HAHA. Bruce saw fresh water and food sitting out like they were waiting on a dog, so....? We are going to keep trying to get up with these people to be sure. We wouldn't want to leave that little dog there with no care, so I feel like we need to do that. Then again, if its NOT their dog, we don't want it back...hahaha. Maybe we can just sneak food and water over there to it and not have to actually ask them if its their's or not.

Hopefully they will be home soon and this whole situation will be resolved. The only thing that I am absolutely certain of is that I do NOT want another pet in this household right now. Hubby asked me a few minutes ago what I wanted for Christmas (he plans to go out and brave the crowds this evening), and I told him that all I wanted was for that dog to NOT live here at my house. Poor thing. It seemed like a really nice little dog, but seriously, these 4 hellhounds that we already have are all that I can even begin to handle.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Memories

Every family has their own Christmas traditions. When our kids were young we would head out after dinner on Christmas Eve to drive around and check out the local Christmas decorations. Afterward we would come back home where the children would be allowed to open the 1 gift under the tree from us, to make room for the hefty haul that Santa would be leaving for them later that night. But anyway, I have this one Christmas Eve that I will NEVER forget, and I am certain that my children remember it as much as I do.....

We cut the Christmas Ham that night since I was cooking a turkey on Christmas Day. And the kids wanted me to make up some macaroni and cheese for them (sound familiar to anybody? Chelsea maybe...HAHA. I have one niece who's diet revolves around mac and cheese, and come to think of it, my kids were right about her age when this fateful night occurred.) Anyway, the kids finished up with their dinner and ran off to go bundle up for our Christmas Eve ride. I was in the middle of putting the leftovers away, and turned my back for just a split second. My dog Scotty took full advantage of my inattention and leapt up on one of the kitchen chairs and swallowed a huge helping of the mac and cheese almost whole. Luckily he did not get the ham...he might have been held in grave disfavor if he had eaten all of the Christmas ham. So, I scolded the dog, shooed him down off of the chair, and finished cleaning up the kitchen.

For some reason, as we left the house somebody (I don't recall who it was, but it was most likely my husband) decided that of course the dogs would enjoy viewing some cheery holiday decorations to put them in the Christmas spirit....haha. So we threw Scotty and Scarlet into our mini-van alongside of the children and off we went. We made it maybe half a mile....possibly less....when Scotty got sick and vomited macaroni and cheese all over the place. The children were screaming, mac and cheese was everywhere, and the dogs were barking and scared. We never really saw the local decor that year. We immediately headed home, and hubby and I spent the better part of the rest of that Christmas Eve cleaning out the van. And if I haven't grossed you out enough yet, I also recall having to scrape up the worst of the mess with a spatula.....YUCK! That spatula went into the trash after that. Noone in the family could bring themselves to eat mac and cheese for a really really REALLY long time after that. The children were traumatized, we were traumatized, and the dogs were traumatized. That might actually have been the last year that we indulged in that little tradition. But even if we did go on our decoration spotting trips after that year, I am absolutely certain that we never took the dogs with us again....Ha!

Monday, December 8, 2008

ALL CLEAR!!!

I finally got the ALL CLEAR on the mammogram saga today. I've been multiple times over the past year and a half trying to determine if this one little spot that keeps showing up is anything to worry about. There was NO change today, so the Doc feels reasonably certain that its just a spot of scar tissue, and it will probably keep showing up, but it is nothing to worry about. I can go back to a regular schedule of mammograms now. And this makes me feel very relieved. Not that I was overly worried but getting good news is nice. Plus, not having to face this whole ordeal every few months is also especially nice. The radiology tech has been very...um....thorough in getting good pictures and I always leave that place feeling sore and bruised for a day or two. She is very nice about it, and she has this nice soothing voice to try to keep you calm and comfortable (???) while she jams every square inch of skin and body tissue from your neck to your waist in between those plates. Ah its such a joy to be a woman.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Alternative Christmas Trees

I've spent the majority of my day decorating the house for Christmas. The tree is trimmed, and the halls are decked, but there is still more to do. Hopefully I will finish up all the odds and ends tomorrow. Being in holiday mode, I've done some thinking about alternatives to the traditional Christmas decor. My son and daughter-in-law are planning to decorate a "Christmas Branch" this year. Its something her family has done before in the past, and apparently its common in Costa Rica and parts of South America....? I am not entirely sure of the details, but Stephen said he might research that particular tradition and write a blog about it. I am fascinated by holiday celebrations from other parts of the world so I am looking forward to seeing the actual Christmas Branch when it is finished.

I did a little online search of unusual Christmas trees and found a few to share:


-This was is made completely out of beer bottles. How festive....I wonder if they got a hang-over while creating this tree??



_ The Ladder Tree. Its really kind of a cute idea.




-S0me sort of modern odds 'n' ends kind of tree....Not my style at all.






-The Minimalist Book Lover's Tree.....




-And MY personal favorite....A tree comprised of over 22,000 actual diamonds and crystal beads. This one was decorated in China and is estimated to be worth well over a million dollars.
Yeah, I definitely like this one best!


And as for the weird blank rectangle in the middle of this post....??? I have no idea how it got there, or how to make it go away. HAHA.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I know...

I know I ought to write a post. Blogs are meant to be updated at least a couple of times a week, if not daily. But honestly? We have been so busy that I have not had the time. Between work, and trying to get a jumpstart on the whole Christmas season (we put our tree up, and I have been decorating it in fits and starts, whenever I have a spare moment or two)...Oh, and lots of time at the gym trying to undo a little of that Thanksgiving damage, we have barely had time to breathe much less attempt to string a coherent thought together in written form.

On Monday I have yet another mammogram (oh joy) to hopefully FINALLY determine whether or not this weird little spot that keeps showing up is just some random scar tissue or something to be more concerned about. I'm not worried, beyond the dread of the somewhat unpleasant sensation of having your breasts squeezed by pair of giant metal vice grips. But...IF everything is the same as it was 6 months ago, I will get the all clear to go back to a regular mammogram schedule instead of this twice a year crap. I just want to get it over with. I keep having the temptation to just cancel the appointment, but then I check in with my friend W. who is a breast cancer survivor. And she will give me a swift kick in the pants if I dare to do anything that stupid. She forces me to take this seriously, even when I don't want to. Thanks W. And congrats on another cancer-free scan this week, too!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Weekend...

It was a busy weekend, being at Dad and Barb's with the whole rest of the family. On Saturday there were 19 of us there all together. We did a whole series of family pictures with a professional photographer that afternoon. It was fun...a little overwhelming at times, but thats what the holidays were meant for. I have to say a HUGE thanks to Barb for having us. She cooked, and fed all of us all weekend long. Rumor has it that she cooked for 3 weeks in advance just to get ready for the herd to descend upon Danville. And she put up with us bringing our dog into the mix without blinking an eye (well, she might have blinked once or twice when he did a rather bad thing on the kitchen floor. I really do apologize for that). So....yeah, Barb is a saint. We have to say a big Thanks to Dad, too. He put up with us, and our loud/drunken game playing into the wee hours of the morning. He did seem to find reasons to go hide out downstairs in his office quite a bit, but he never threw us all out into the street. We are all grateful for that. Seriously.

And now Thanksgiving is over for another year. I had thought up a list of all of my favorite things that I am thankful for. I was going to write a post about that, but I never got the chance to sit down at the computer over Thanksgiving. Which is probably for the best, because it made a serious point. No matter how many things I love or enjoy, its really all about family and friends. I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to All


Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I know I'm early, but we are leaving town on Tuesday and tomorrow is going to be hectic as hell trying to get ourselves together and ready. I doubt I will have time to blog again before then, so I wanted to send my best wishes for the holiday to everybody. Eat, drink and be merry and give all your loved ones a hug. That's what its all about anyway.

Mild Disappointment

The concert yesterday, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra wasn't exactly what we all expected.
There was very little Christmas music...and the ONLY recognizable Christmas music at ALL was a few short snippets of my favorite "Carol of the Bells" done in a compilation of a whole bunch of other songs. It was really loud, and although I did enjoy the light show, there were moments that were seizure inducing. Dad and Barb left after the first half of the show and waited for us outside in the lobby area. Honestly we all thought it was over at intermission, but it turned out to be 3 whole hours long. I don't know....I wouldn't go back again, but how can you know that until you try it? It was interesting anyway. And we spent the afternoon with the family trying out something new, so I won't call it a total loss. I just expected a Christmas concert, and this was more like a hard rock concert. I did not buy the CD. Oh well. You live and you learn.

Dinner was not a disappointment, however. Dad had made reservations for 5:15 since we all had no idea the concert was going to last so incredibly long. We got to the restaurant at more like 6:15, but they had a table for us right away. This was at the BoneFish Grill. Dad and Barb had really enjoyed the one in Myrtle Beach. And the one in Cary was every bit as good. The food was excellent, and the service was really good, too. I had scallops and shrimp in lemon butter that would melt in your mouth. Bruce and Stephen had steaks that were apparently extremely delicious. Hannia proclaimed her salmon in a pan asian sauce to be the best salmon EVER. So....
the food made up for the lacking in the concert arena. My favorite part of the meal was a pomegranate-peach Mojito. Oh my lord, that thing was good. Like knock your socks off good, slurp the bottom of the glass rudely with your straw kind of good. If you ever go there (because apparently it IS a chain restaurant, we just don't have one here in Greenville which makes me sad now) be sure to try that. I think its one of their specialty house drinks. Skip the concert and go have drinks at Bonefish instead, and you will have a guaranteed good time....HAHA.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Setting the Mood for the Season


We are meeting Dad and Barb in Raleigh today for a concert of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
I LOVE their Christmas music (their version of Carol of the Bells is one of my all-time favorites).
I've never seen them live before. We tried to get tickets last year, but we heard about it too late and the concert sold out....which made me sad. This year, we got tickets as soon as the dates were announced. Anyway, I am excited as you can probably tell. I am hoping to get my hands on one of their CD's that has been a little hard to find: "The Christmas Trilogy". Maybe they will sell stuff at the show....most performer's do, so....?

Anyway, this is setting the mood for the coming season. I love Christmas anyway. I know its been a hard year for a lot of people in this country, but hard times make celebrations even more important to lift your spirits. I don't care about the gifts and the expensive trappings of a commercialized holiday....but I am going to feel thankful for family and friends, for health and all of the multitudes of blessings that are ours. And I am going to celebrate like mad because it makes me happy. I may burst into song at any moment now like a bad musical. And that....would definitely make YOU unhappy (I really can't carry a tune at all....haha).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Countdown to Turkey Day

We are going to Dad and Barb's for Thanksgiving. We are all looking forward to it, especially Stephen who missed last year's Thanksgiving with the family. Plus, we will have Hannia for the first time, too. And I think her younger brother Miguel is going to be joining us. By the way, its Miguel's birthday today. So Happy Birthday Miguel. I think he is 19. Oh, to be so young again.

Anyway, we have had some strange weather around here in Eastern NC lately. This weekend it was torrential rain, thunder, and wind (some places a bit west of here had some serious tornado action...yikes). And it was really warm and muggy. It got so sticky and uncomfortable that I finally turned the AC back on again. And then today? Today we had SNOW!!! Not any kind of accumulation at all, but we had scattered flurries, and at times, it snowed fairly hard for a few minutes, here and there. And it was pretty chilly. We had to turn off the AC and turn on the heat. Who knows what will be next??? But this is the earliest I have EVER seen snow here in this part of the state. I wonder if this is a foreshadowing of whats to come this winter. I LOVE snow, but I hate driving in it. So, I have mixed feelings about that.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My NEW favorite online store!!!


Its called Totally Goat!!! And just how cool is that????? For $700 I can even dress my husband as a goat. He is in so much trouble now......HAHAHAHA!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It had to Happen.....


Obama coins, for the "serious" collector. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Obama. I can't wait for him to Ba-ROCK the White House....(yeah, I said it. I had to.) But I don't think I will celebrate by buying up a bunch of cheesy Obama coins. They make coins to commemorate anything anymore.
I wrote a blog a long, long time ago about how horrified I was over the "Twin Towers" coins. Why would anybody want to "commemorate" such a traumatic and sad thing? Actually, I did hear, while in NY, a reason behind some of the commercialization of the 9/11 tragedy. Some of those kinds of things are sold for the purpose a 9/11 fund that goes to the families who lost loved ones there. I guess that makes sense....? It makes it a little less distasteful, although I don't think I would want the death of a loved one of MINE to be so ...I don't know...commercial, maybe?

Ok, I have to go completely off the subject right now to say something that has been in the back of my mind ever since the trip to NY. We had dinner with Jeb, one of my husband's high school friends that we haven't seen since high school graduation. Jeb lives in the area of the World Trade Center and was there during the whole 9/11 event. He told us a story that left me feeling chilled to the bone. He said as people learned exactly what was happening, even those folks in the other burroughs of the city who couldn't actually SEE the devastation, long lines of people started heading to the hospitals, particularly St. Vincent's (the one closest to the financial district) to give blood. Medical personnel flooded the hospitals to set up triage to take care of the wounded. Only noone showed up. The hospitals were eerily empty of victims, because you either got out completely fine and unscathed. Or you did not get out. Jeb said that was the part that he will always remember. The absence of the injured in area hospitals, even as the city mobilized in huge numbers to take care of them as the whole event unfolded.

But about those coins....Do people really buy these things? And what exactly do they do with them? Do they sit in a drawer, forgotten for years on end? Are they hot collectors items? Because honestly, I have NO idea what one would do with a bunch of coins marking specific events. I have read that some of these Obama coins, the ones that are actually colorized instead of just pressed metal, are considered "defaced" and therefore less valuable by serious coin collectors. I guess its a case of "buyer beware". I did find one coin that I am tempted to buy.
I won't. But I am tempted.....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Don't Recycle....FREEcycle!

I just happened to stumble on this website a few weeks ago:

Freecycle

Its divided up into areas, so you can join the one closest to where you live. Anyway, the idea is that you can post offers locally for stuff that you no longer want...the only rule is that it has to be FREE. For instance, we had this huge old buffet table in the study that Bruce was using for storage. But we cleaned out and reorganized things so that the table was no longer necessary. It was just taking up space. So I posted an offer on Freecycle yesterday afternoon, and got at least 30 or so emails in reply. I went with the first one (first come first serve, I guess...?) and wrote an email. And they came and picked it up this morning. How cool is that??? Not only did we not have to carry it or transport it, the guy admitted that he wanted to use it in his study for storage...haha. It should be good for that. It has had a lot of practice.

You can make "wanted" posts on there, too. I think the rules limit you to 1 want a day. But honestly, I just want to get rid of stuff, so I have no plans to make posts trying to accumulate MORE things. The system worked so efficiently though that now I am thinking about what I can offer next....I wouldn't go to the trouble for anything really small. Although I have seen a few posts listing some pretty odd things. One was for a partially used 32 oz bottle of prune juice. Apparently they only used a little and then ...? I don't think I want to know. Who wants an opened bottle of juice though? Even if it is FREE. You don't really know where that juice has been. I seriously would not offer used/opened food items. Also, I have seen some pretty big WANTS, as well. A few people were asking for laptops and tv's. washer and dryers, and even a dishwasher. Good luck with that. But it is a cool concept. I see a lot of offers for gently used children's clothing and sports equipment. As fast as kids grow, I think its really good to share those kinds of things that can be used again.

Sunday

Why do I have dogs again? Somebody remind me quick! It was my day off (I worked Saturday for a friend who had a wedding to attend), and I wanted to sleep in just a little. I'm not a late sleeper, really. For me, sleeping in means 8ish. I get up at 6:30 on work days, so 8 seems luxuriously late. But it just wasn't happening, not with my dogs. Shep started barking at 6:15, using his "hey woman I wanna go outside" voice. He was persistent and growing increasingly loud. So, I stumbled out of bed to let him and Scooter out. Not a big deal, since I stumbled right back into bed and was headed right back into blissful slumber. And then....just moments before I was fully asleep, Scarlet started barking. She was sleeping when I let Shep out, and never even looked in my direction. But now....she wanted out. So I got out of bed, again.....and when I opened the door to let HER out, Shep and Scooter pushed their way back inside, all excited and energetic, leaping and barking like crazy dogs. There was no mercy for me. I finally gave up and made doggy breakfast, because that's really all I COULD do and retain my sanity. For the record, hubby was sleeping through all of this. Soundly. Like even snoring lightly, so I couldn't even accuse him of faking being asleep.

Anyway, Bruce's brother Doug and niece Emily came up and we had lunch with them. Emily just signed with Duke University (she is 16...I think....a junior in high school), so they had been in Durham for a couple of days. Doug wanted to come up and see Aunt Grace. We didn't get to see them for very long. They had a long drive back to Atlanta (8 hours....blech), so there wasn't time to linger. We went to Parker's for those of you who are familiar with this area. Its a barbeque place that is locally "famous" for its eastern NC barbecue. Bruce and I rarely (never) go there by ourselves, but its the most requested place to eat when we have out of town guests so we get our fill of it then....haha. Its not that we don't like it. But when it comes down to a choice of barbecue, we prefer the sweeter, red sauced barbecue that you can get in the western part of the state to the more vinegary barbecue here in the east. Still, they have awesome corn sticks (fried corn bread, a true southern delicacy) and the best coleslaw. So I never mind going there. Doug was a little nostalgic, since he hasn't eaten there in years...a LOT of years. He said it hadn't changed at all.

So, I have today off to make up for working Saturday. We are going to spend it painting the front porch. The weather is perfect for it. Anybody who wants to run by and give us a hand.....we'll be right here and we might even take you to Parker's for lunch.....haha.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Congratulations Stephen

Stephen is officially in grad school now. What? You thought he was already in grad school? Well, he was, he is, and now its completely official. Let me explain: This past spring/summer was such a whirlwind of things going on what with his graduating from college, getting married, going to Europe, moving, and renovating a 3 bedroom apartment (whew, it makes my head hurt to think about cramming all of that into a couple of months) that there just wasn't time enough to get through all of the application requirements. Mainly it was scheduling/taking the GRE that was holding him up. So ECU gave him the opportunity to go ahead and enroll in classes this fall as a "non-degree seeking student", with the idea that he would be able to take the GRE and get accepted into Grad school officially.

Anyway, he got through the application process, got all of the required teacher recommendations, and took the GRE late this summer. And today? Today he got the notification that he was accepted OFFICIALLY to pursue his MA in English (linguistics, specifically). So we are all happy and feeling celebratory. I mean, this was the way the plan was supposed to work.
But you know that even the best laid plans can go awry, so it feels really good to know that things are on track and official. And all of his classes this semester should count towards his degree, so he didn't lose any time, which is also nice.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend. I won't be having as much fun as I did last weekend, in NY, but its good to be home again anyway. Even if we have planned to paint the front porch since the weather looks like its going to cooperate for the next few days...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bejarano-Kintz World Tour....


If you want to see more pictures of Stephen dressed as Blossom, the powerpuff girl at Halloween, you find them here:

http://bejkintztour.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations Mr. President

We've been glued to the news all evening long, and it looks like the election has been called. I can't help but feel really emotional about this, because we are witnessing something historic. Monumentally historic.
And I have a good feeling about this...intuition or whatever you want to call it. I'm glad about the way things have gone, and can go to bed happy now.

Also...this means that now I don't have to pack up all of my belongings and move to Canada. My husband was threatening to do that if things went the other way. So....whew....uprooting has been avoided.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Home Again....

We are back home again now. I spent the whole day doing laundry. Try not to be too jealous of that, seriously. We had a really good time, but its back to reality now. It really does feel kind of nice to be back, though, despite the laundry. Also? Vote tomorrow!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NY Adventure Part IX (Last Day)

We headed back to Central Park this morning (without the frog this time). We spent some time at the zoo (its really tiny, and we will head to the Bronx Zoo the next time we are here). But the weather was so nice, and the sea lions and the polar bears were out and active. That was fun. We had a quick lunch at the little zoo cafe called "The Leaping Frog"...the food was unremarkable, but I loved the name of the place. We prowled around the park for a while longer, taking in the sights of Bethesda Fountain, the Mall, and enjoying some excellent music from some of the street musicians.

After that we decided to check out China Town. It was packed with people (not as bad as that parade though), but we strolled around town for quite a while. There was so much to see....street vendors all over the place with all kinds of trinkets, and food. We saw some freaky fruits that we ended up having to come back and google (one was dragon fruit...I never heard of it before). There were tons of shops, and interesting things to check out. We stopped in at a Chinese bakery and had some kind of coffee mousse thingie that was delicious.

Then we browsed through Little Italy and parts of Soho. We ended up walking a whole lot of today. But these were places that I really wanted to see. I did decide one thing....if I ever lived here in the city, I would just have to be a Manhattan girl. These other burroughs are colorful and interesting, but not nearly as clean and as nice as Manhattan. Even the subways down in those parts of town are a little shabby. And the trains were a lot slower to arrive, too. We haven't experienced any kind of delay as far as the trains go up here in Midtown. But we waited for what seemed like an eternity down there. We stopped by Katz's deli in Soho....The scene of Meg Ryan's famously faked orgasm in "When Harry Met Sally". We thought about eating there, but had just had that coffee mousse and we just weren't hungry. We did run inside, and funny enough, they have a sign hanging down from the ceiling pointing out the exact spot where that was filmed. Bruce got a picture of that. I've heard that the food is excellent, but most of the food here has been.

Now its time to start packing up to come back home. I'm tired and a little bit ready to get back home again. I will miss this place though. We have had a really good time. And I will definitely make it a point to come back again. The high points for me have been:
1. Shopping
2. Broadway shows
3. The Museums
4. The food....oh the yummy wonderful food in this town!!!!

And I loved it all in that exact order....Ha!

NY Adventure Part VIII (Halloween Frightmare)

Halloween was beautiful here. The weather was warm and sunny. We had an excellent time touring through the Guggenheim Museum, and then spent the majority of the rest of the day at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. My only real regret about this whole trip has been not having quite enough time at The Met. I honestly did not realize just how HUGE this museum was. Or how absolutely fascinating. We strolled through so many galleries of things: Egyptian art, Asian art, Greek and Roman art......we got lost a couple of times. And we still didn't manage to see the whole thing. Next time I will skip the Museum of Natural History (it was interesting, but not as much as the Met), and probably would skip the Guggenheim and spend much more time at the Metropolitan. It was amazing.

On our way back to the apartment we saw lots of kids out in costume. Most of the shops and businesses seemed to be sponsoring trick-or-treating in the late afternoon. And that was fun to see. So many cute little kiddies, all dressed up and all excited about the candy...haha.

Things got a little sketchy after that. The village parade that I was so excited to see....well, we never made it. We TRIED to make it. We took a subway ride down to the village where we got stuck in a huge wave of people exiting the station out onto 6th Ave. And I mean stuck. Like seriously stuck. In a tiny, narrow corridor with dozens upon dozens of people still pushing their way off of the trains, and for some reason noone was exiting the station. We were being pushed and shoved and nobody could see why the crowd wasn't moving. The way the exit gates worked, noone could get back into the train area. We were locked in. I actually came close, like VERY close to having a full-blown panic attack. I'm claustrophobic anyway. And that was tight, and airless. Bruce admitted to feeling a little panic himself, so it wasn't just me. But finally things started moving and we made it back up to the street where I thought things would improve.....

There were just soooo many people down there for this parade. We walked for blocks trying to find just one area where we might could see at least part of the parade, but the crowd was too thick and too deep. There were a couple of spots where we got jammed in, almost as bad as the subway. And people were getting irritated and mean. There was some shoving and yelling, and Bruce and I decided to ditch our efforts before somebody went completely postal and got violent. I'm really not exaggerating. It was the only time I have felt unsafe here in this city.
And also....we were so paranoid after that subway incident, that we kind of wanted to get back to this area of Manhattan before the parade was over and everybody was trying to leave that area.
We came home and watched the parade on tv. A little sad, but true, and oh so much more satisfying than being stuck in those mobs of people. We did get to see a lot of characters all dressed up down there, though. NYC really parties for Halloween. Its just a lot rougher and wilder than we anticipated.

Friday, October 31, 2008

NY Adventure Part VII (A Slight Retraction....)

Right before we left for the show this evening, Bruce happened to see that the dreaded aforementioned Empire State Building was open until 2am, 7 days a week. So, on a whim, after the show, we took the subway on down to 34th St. just to see if the whole line procedure (fiasco) was any better at night. This was around 11pm. I'm happy to say that not only were we able to walk right in, with NO wait at all...the views up there at night were spectacular. I'm glad we decided to try it. It looked like the biggest Christmas display I have ever seen in my life, and it stretched on and on as far as the eye could see on all sides. Very worth it. Not worth the kind of wait during the day, but if you ever decide to go, go late. After 10, at least.

And about the show "Rock of Ages"...I was a little nervous about this one. First of all, it was off-Broadway, which doesn't really mean anything as far as quality goes. But given the fact that my husband has never been able to stand Constantine Maroulis, I was completely prepared for him to be miserable, rolling his eyes, being bored, or even sleeping (snoring) through the whole thing. But it was extremely good. Bruce had an excellent time. He decided that Constantine had a really good voice (I knew that all this time, so no surprises there for ME). And the abundance of extremely scantily clad dancers was just a huge bonus for him. He ended up enjoying it as much as I did. The show is a tongue in cheek kind of parody of those bands of the 80's (remember WhiteSnake....anybody???). But it was hilarious, the crowd got into it, and between that and our most excellent 2nd trip to The Empire State Building, I consider the day redeemed!!! And now its almost 1 am and I am exhausted, so I'm headed for bed!!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NY Adventure Part VI (What NOT to do in NY)

Somehow our plans changed this morning and we decided to go to the Empire State Building instead of The Met. Big mistake. HUGE mistake. If you are ever in NY avoid this tourist trap at ALL costs. Luckily we did shop a little and had some of the best pizza ever before we went, so the day wasn't a total loss. Which reminds me to put in a little plug here for "John's Pizzeria" on 44th, just off of Times Square. I saw a piece about it in a write up of some of NY's best authentic little hole in the wall kinds of restaurants. And it has spoiled me for life. I don't know how I will ever eat Pizza Hut again......and the building is a renovated church, complete with stained glass in the main seating area. Its worth a trip if you are in the area.

But back to things that are SO NOT worth it....We got to the Empire State Building with all of that yummy pizza in our bellies. We saw a long-ass line to get into the door, but hey...its NY, its to be expected, so we were unfazed (a little chilly, but unfazed still). We got inside to yet another long-ass line for something that we had no idea what it was. It turned out to be a security line. But we made it through to walk into yet another holding area with another long-ass line to buy tickets.

Here's where I started to get mad. We bought this NY Pass thing that was supposed to get us into quite a few attractions for the price of the pass. And we were supposed to be able to bypass ticket lines with these things. Well, we did get the tickets without charge, but we were still forced to wait in that line for an eternity. But we did it. And....we turned the corner and saw what most likely was the longest line of all. The line waiting to get into elevators to go up.

I kid you not, it was beyond ridiculous. Anyway, they advertised this spectacular skyride thing, that was a movie with seats that move to give you the sensation of flying over the city. And our passes also included that, so we ditched the long lines to the observatory and went to that first.
Where we....can you guess?....waited. And waited. And the maddening thing for that was that the line wasn't even very long. But the whole scene was completely disorganized. None of the employees seemed to have a clue what was going on, what line was for what....It was stupid. And that ride was stupid. And if I had paid for it, I might have asked for my money back. But the employee that ushered us in had promised that from the exit of the skyride, we would all be taken directly to the elevators, and given preference for going to this extra (stupid) thing. And he was stupid, too, cuz when we walked out, the line from the skyride to the observatory was just as bad as the other line. We took one look at it and walked the heck out of there. I was so tired of standing that I didn't even want to look at NY after all of that. I'm just glad we did it with our passes and didn't actually spend extra cash on that crap.

Also? The whole time you are standing in those infernal lines, people are walking all over you and hawking stuff. They try to get you to buy all kinds of extras like an $8.00 map of the city, so you will know what you are looking at when (IF) you ever make it to the top. Or you can rent these audio recorders to have a voice tell you the same stuff for some outrageous price. I don't know. I felt accosted by pimps the whole time we were there. And seriously....The view from the top of the Rockefeller Center was spectaculor....the wait to go up was short....the whole situation much better organized, and we were asked politely ONCE while buying our tickets if we wanted to buy an additional $3.00 map. Go there. Its much more interesting.

But hopefully our evening will be better. We have tickets to go see an Off Broadway show called "Rock of Ages". Constantine Maroulis, from American Idol is in it. And every time my husband hears Constantine's name, he makes a face. And not a good, happy kind of face either...haha.
He probably did not want to go see this show, but our morning was so disappointing that he is trying to redeem our day. I'm excited, anyway. Erica wanted us to go see Equus with Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), but hubby absolutely did NOT want to see Harry Potter naked. Like at ALL.

Tomorrow we are definitely going to see The Met.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NY Adventure Part V (Miracle on 34th St.)

This morning we went to Macy's. The Macy's on 34th St. And I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. We shopped, and I bought 2 of the most gorgeous pairs of boots. My husband was even cooperative, as far as the shopping went, because seriously, I tried on a LOT of boots trying to make up my mind. Actually, I probably only ended up with 2 pairs just because he wanted to leave...haha.

Then we headed over to TKTS at Times Square. You have to stand in line for a while (ok, for a long while), but if you are willing to brave the line, you can pick up Broadway tickets for that night's performance for half-price. We got tickets to Spamalot, you know, with Clay Aiken. We just got back from that, and it was hilarious. I am a fan of Monty Python anyway, but they glammed it up a bit for Broadway. We laughed the whole way through, and came away completely satisfied with the experience. The best part was that our seats were only 3 rows back from the stage. I could have reached out and touched Clay if I wanted to. Not that I would, because that would just be creepy, but I could have....I love seeing a local NC boy make it in live theater.

And if that wasn't enough fun for 1 day, Bruce managed to score tickets to the taping of the Dave Letterman show while we were waiting in the ticket line for Spamalot. He answered some kind of trivia question that I would have NEVER known..." Who is Rupert G.?". He got it right, and I still couldn't tell you the answer. But we were there for the afternoon taping of tonight's show.
We had a blast there, too. The show was funny, but what I did not know was that they tell you/force you to laugh loudly. We were instructed to laugh and applause no matter what. Even if we didn't think Dave was funny....haha. I took my job seriously, so I laughed. I figured what the heck? Tomorrow we are heading over to The Met. I'm looking forward to that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NY Adventure Part IV (Street Fashion)

Just a quick fashion observation while we wait on the rain to slack up this morning (its pouring, but should pass over in a while...we hope). I know that NY is one of the fashion capitols of the world. But I am not talking about those wild and extravagant runway ensembles that a normal woman wouldn't wear in public. From what I can tell as far as basic NY street fashion, the short ankle boot is IN. Especially with dresses and skirts. Which is not a combination that I would have ever put together, but its not bad. A little funky, and different. I might get some strange looks back home if I tried it, but then again, people back home would think nothing of pairing a beat up pair of running shoes with a skirt, so....? Also...tights. Not flesh colored panty-hose, but opaque tights in all colors and even prints. Again, this might look a bit odd back home, but its cool and fun here. I've seen tights in window displays in every color of the rainbow and in every print from cute little rainbows to skulls. I might break down and pick up a few pairs. Just because. If I get too freaked out by wearing them with a dress, I can always put them on under pants on a cold day, and at least get some use out of them....haha.

The 2 things that I really would love to purchase while I'm here: Jeans!! Super haute, designer jeans, unlike the Gap and Old Navy which is basically all I can buy back home without going out of town to shop (like Raleigh or Richmond....which my daughter and I do as often as time allows.
Which also means, not nearly enough.)

And boots!!! Not the ankle boots, although those would be cool. But some comfortable tall leather boots in black. Comfy being the key word here. We passed the Kenneth Cole NYC mother-store, and I saw exactly what I wanted in the window. Now all I need to do is to talk Bruce into 2 things:
1. Shopping (level of difficulty-hard)
2. Spending the cash on NY/designer prices (level of difficulty-Extremely hard)...haha!

Monday, October 27, 2008

NY Adventure Part III: (Bodies)


It was a beautiful day in NYC. The sun was shining, and it was relatively warm. We decided to make the most of the weather and take the ferry out to see Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. We didn't disembark, but the views were spectacular. But the crowds...Oh Sweet Lord, the number of people out there was just staggering. The first time we attempted it, the park attendant told us the line stretched all the way to Texas. Dallas, Texas, in fact. I was inclined to believe her. So we grabbed a cab and made our way over to see a really extraordinary exhibit at the Seaport Museum, called "Bodies...The Exhibition". It was really interesting, in a morbid and strange way. These are actual bodies of people who left their remains to science, and they are dissected, and displayed to give the most elaborate anatomy lesson you have ever experienced.
You get to see details that only medical professionals ever see. The one that really struck me as amazing was a complete circulatory system. It was in a person-sized plexiglass case, suspended in liquid, in human shape. But the details...just how intricate the spider-webbing of veins, arteries and capillaries was incredible. It was a little like a visit to a morgue, and people were all hushed out of respect for the dead. But I have never seen the inner-workings of the body like that before. It was worth the time to see it. The picture up top is one of the actual displays. You can walk around it and see the insides of the human body in cross-section.

After that, we went back to Battery Park and got the ferry without too much of a wait. We, meaning Bruce, have figured out the subway system fairly well. Its extremely efficient, and not the dirty, scary, underground cesspool of violence that I was afraid of. It is a little bit confusing, but once you get the hang of it, its not too bad. The one thing about NY that I can NOT for the life of me figure out is that the majority of locals run around the city in heavy winter coats, boots and scarves even when its a nice comfortable 65 degrees outside....? Whats up with that? I mean, occasionally it gets a bit windy, but not enough to warrant North Pole clothing. Also? They get on the subway like that, somehow without breaking a sweat. And that confounds me to no end, because the subway??? is hot, humid and steamy. Apparently all the time. The trains are hot, the tunnels are hot. Maybe these northerners have thin blood or something. The most I have needed is a light jacket, and that was on the top deck of the ferry today.

Anyway, tonight we are feeling our age (maybe more...?). We had a late lunch/early dinner at Grand Central Station today, just to see the place (it was beautiful), and then we came back here to the apartment around 5pm to rest up a bit and to decide what we wanted to do this evening.
I woke up at 8pm. Seriously! We have pounded the pavement, and run around this city so much over the past couple of days that we were both completely exhausted. And so, I'm sad to say, that here we are in this amazing city surrounded by all of this incredible stuff to do, and we have made a mutual decision to stay in and get some rest this evening. Maybe we will regain our momentum tomorrow. Its supposed to turn colder tonight, and there is a chance of snow...???
When we left home the Weather Channel's 10 day forecast for NYC called for mid-60's all week long. Hmmmm....sounds like a really good excuse to shop. I have seen some of the most gorgeous boots here ever!!!

p.s. The frog didn't come with us today, as he is phobic about dissected bodies. Apparently too many of his relatives ended up in biology class.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NY Adventure Part II (Frog in Central Park)

Enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful model sailing boats at The Conservatory Water.

Hanging out on a picturesque wooden foot bride.

Taking a bicycle cart tour on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Relaxing on a park bench after all the fun.

Completely exhausted, Jeremiah Frog takes a much needed rest back at the apartment. What a fun day!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NY Adventure: Part I (Amtrak)

We made it to NY. The trip on Amtrak was long (way too long, but then again you have to understand that I am the kind of person who detests being in travel mode for more than about 3 hours at a time. Which also means that I loathe car trips, too...so...), but other than the length it was quite pleasant. The station in Rocky Mount, NC is very old, but perfectly preserved. It was so pretty that we had to take a few pictures. I would share those right now, but the thought of unpacking the camera and transferring pictures right now makes me want to die (we are exhausted). But we found the train to be way more comfortable than flying for this distance trip.
The seats....oh my Lord, the seats are HUGE, and they have footrests, and recline fairly far back.
They are also equipped with an electrical outlet which means you could watch DVD's on the laptop, but we didn't bring any with us (we may buy some for the trip home though).

Anyway, it went smoothly, the train was on time, and we walked out of Penn Station to pouring rain (ugh), and the scariest cab ride EVER!!! Ok, it might have something to do with the fact that I am now completely paranoid that everytime I get into a car somebody is going to crash into me, but still....I just couldn't watch. I held my breath until we got to the apartment.
And so we made it one piece. We ran out to have dinner, ran by a little market right across the street for essentials (coffee!!!), and although we imagined that we would rush right out to soak up some NY nightlife, the pouring rain and our pure exhaustion has totally squelched those plans. Its not a big deal though. This front is supposed to blow over by morning, and it looks like we are going to have beautiful sunny days hovering around 60 degrees for the rest of the week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

You will NOT believe this...

I was on my way to work this morning, at a stop light less than half a mile from our house, when this woman slams into the back of my car. My car that I just bought 3 weeks ago to replace the OTHER car that got smashed back in mid-September. Do I have a target painted on my car that I am not seeing????

Anyway, I am fine. I feel a little bit sore, but that could be from nerves and tension. I am still really shaken up though. I am becoming positively phobic about driving, I swear. But the woman that hit me was really nice, and terribly apologetic. The left-turn light turned green, and she had a total brain fart, and assumed it was her time to go, so she floored it. Right into the back of me. My poor car has a completely smashed up back bumper, and the trunk is bowed up and not closing. But we have already dropped it off at a body shop. Luckily we know this man who owns a decent body shop here in town, and he has done work for us before. He is going to begin the work on it while we are out of town. After the insurance company gets the chance to check it out and ok everything. Because seriously? We ARE getting on that train bound for NY tomorrow. Thank God I wasn't injured. And if every cloud really does have a silver lining, the silver part for me is that I now have the rest of the day off to get packed and ready. I was geared up to do some speed packing tonight after work, and that always makes me feel like I am forgetting something important. How crazy. Also, I will be glad to take a break from driving in NY. We will use taxis and subways and I won't have to get behind the wheel for at least a week now. Is it possible to get disability due to a complete phobia of driving???? Cuz I feel like I might end up that way. There was no way to avoid this one. No way at all. And that is just scary.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Birthdays and other stuff....

We went to visit Bruce's great Aunt Grace this afternoon. She is 88 years old today, and I think that's quite an achievement. We brought her some pretty fall mums, and cupcakes. Because you just have to have cake on your birthday. Its like required or something. A quick note to Jeanne and Lori, she really loved getting cards from both of you. She was so proud of them that she had to show off the pictures of the girls that you had sent her. Aunt Grace was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, and right now she is confined to a nursing home. But she is still extremely alert, and able to carry on a serious conversation. Her hope is to be able to go home. She is very matter-of-fact about dying. She talks about it openly and easily. She knows her time is limited, but she would really prefer to do her dying at home, in her own space. I hope that happens for her. But our visit with her was surprisingly upbeat, and she is in good spirits. Both her daughters were there to share a birthday dinner with her, so we didn't stay too long.

Also....Jeanne gave me another goat today!!! It was an early Christmas present, and I am so excited. I almost have me a herd going on here. I talked to Stephen tonight, and he was thrilled to hear that the goat-giving seemed to be catching on. Well, my sister was so impressed by it that she is insisting that I give her a goat on her birthday now. Actually it also inspired us to do some research into other charitable ways to help out around the world in lieu of Christmas gifts. We have decided that we both have way too much "stuff". And instead of sending each other yet another sweater, or book, or...whatever, we are going to spend the money on some special charities that support causes that we care about.

Anyway, we leave for NY on Saturday. We will have internet access, and of course my laptop will be traveling with us, so I hope to blog some travel news while we are gone. Maybe post a few pictures along the way. We will also have cell phones, so we will be in touch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just VOTE already!!!

We voted today. It was surprisingly busy for an early voting place. We didn't have to really wait long, but there was a steady line going through. It makes me shudder to think what the lines will be like on November 4th. Some people that I have talked to have some qualms about whether or not the early votes will be counted properly, so they are waiting until the actual day. I never really thought of that. I guess it could potentially happen, but I seriously doubt it. Everything looked official, and there was a machine that you fed your ballot into at the end that kept a count of how many votes had been cast. My ballot made 4788. My son said it was around 4000 when he went in to vote this morning. It looks like they are averaging about 1,000 early votes a day.
And this is a relatively small town, so....?

Also, when I got home from work this afternoon my big pumpkin on our front porch had been stolen and there was a ransom note taped to my front door. HAHA!! It was Stephen and Hannia, and they want cold hard cash to bring my pumpkin back home safely. Hilarious!!! I got a HUGE kick out of that. But before you think my son and his wife are evil, I actually told Stephen this weekend to come by and get the pumpkin since I am not going to be home for Halloween. I just didn't expect a ransom note.

Other Halloween stuff: Erica is headed to Nashville with a group of friends to celebrate there.
The theme of their party is "80's videos". I really tried to get her to dress up as one of the Robert Palmer girls. You remember them? The short tight black dresses, pulled back hair, and red lipstick. It would be an easy costume to pull together. But she has opted instead to go for the Olivia Newton John look from "lets get physical" song. She has the tights, leg warmers and head band all ready to go. I know they will have a blast.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I HAVE A GOAT!!!!


No, really, seriously I actually got a goat!!! I have been wanting a goat for a long time, because I love animals, and the bottom line is that goats are just cool! But anyway, Stephen and Hannia bought me a goat via a donation program called IHF which can be found here:

http://www.ihfonline.org/

My goat... my real live actual goat has been taken to a needy family in the East Central Pokot region of Africa where she will provide milk, cheese, and potential breeding of other goats to help feed these hungry people. This was my birthday present, but apparently it takes quite a long time to transport the goat to the family, and have a volunteer go out and get a picture of my goat. My real live actual goat. I have a picture, and no, those lovely goats at the top of this post are not her. When (if) I ever figure out how to scan something with this new-fangled printer/scanner/fax device that we just got, I will definitely post a picture of MY goat. She is beautiful. And she is standing with a member of the family that is taking care of her, too. I say that with vagueness only because the person with my goat looks kind of like a man, but is also wearing a dress, so we aren't quite sure....?

But anyway, I own a goat and that makes me happy. And she doesn't live here where we would struggle with the problems of how to get somebody to take care of her whenever we travel, and THAT makes my husband happy. And she is usefully providing a family with milk and cheese, so I can only imagine that they are happy too. Its a happy situation all the way around. You just can't beat that!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ready for it to be over...

I am so ready for this election to be over. And no, I'm not going to start in more political stuff, I promise. But its all wearing thin and it will be nice when its all done with. We have decided to go do the early voting thing again this year. Really, its so nice. You walk right up, do your thing, and walk back out in mere minutes. The last presidential election that I voted on the actual election day, I kid you not, I waited in a long line that wound around the building for an eternity. Since then our county has made it easy to vote early, so we plan to take care of that this week.

Which brings me to what I really wanted to say....My son takes this stuff really seriously. And it makes me proud of him, that he cares about the process. His political views are very similar to ours (fairly liberal). But he took the time, and made the effort to do some research to figure out the political standings of pretty much every candidate that will be on our local ballot. I'm talking about city commissioners, judges, etc...The whole bunch of them. And while I actually do make the effort to know what I'm voting for in the major elections, I generally have NO real clue as to who the rest of the people are in these small local elections. I will this time around though. He is enlightening us as to who stands for/believes in/votes for what. In fact, he is coming over tomorrow evening to give us the scoop on his picks (and the whys) before we head over to the early voting polls on Wednesday. This makes me happy.

And while I am bragging about my beloved son, I need to tell you something else: My son and his wife are going to be Power Puff girls for Halloween....HAHAHAHA! And IF I can get my hands on some pictures of them in full costume, I WILL post them here. Of course, we are going to be out of town, but I am trusting Hannia to be sure to get some good shots.





I think Stephen is planning to be the orange-haired one, named Blossom.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Getting Excited


I am getting excited about our upcoming trip to NYC next weekend. In fact, I will be en route this time next Saturday. Yay! One of the things that I am most looking forward to is the Village Halloween Parade on Halloween night. Its supposed to be one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in the WORLD! How cool is that? I've looked through some of the photos from previous years, and its definitely NOT for kids. It looks like more of a Mardi Gras type of celebration. Some of the peeps were buck-naked with nothing but body paint on, and apparently in the parade, that is acceptable. HAHA! I read that if you show up in costume, you can join the parade. I think I would rather stay in one spot and watch. If you walk the parade route, you would miss too much. But you can pretty much guarantee that I will be there on the 31st.

I am also curious about how the Amtrak adventure is going to go. We decided to try out the train mode of travel just this once and see if its any less of a hassle than flying. I have heard good reviews, and some really bad ones about Amtrak, so we shall see. One thing I did read over and over is that the schedules are a reference point only. We are scheduled to arrive in NYC at 7:30 pm. I've been told that if we make it by 11:00 pm then we should consider ourselves lucky...haha. Oh well, we have left that first evening open, so at least I won't be panicking that we are going to miss something. If it takes that long, but I have the option to get up and walk around while we travel (like to the dining car, or whatever) then I would still consider it a bonus.
I HATE being stuck in an airplane seat for hours on end. Besides, when you figure in that we have to drive for 2 hours to Raleigh just to get to the airport....well, it really IS a hassle.

Anyway, we have tons of things that we want to see and do. I will take a lot of pictures to share, even at the risk of looking like a stupid tourist....LOL. I need to spend some time this week trying to figure out what to pack. Apparently the days are going to be nice, and the nights very chilly. Of course, with my hot flash temperament, I could easily wear a bikini in sub-zero climates and feel perfectly comfortable, so its probably not going to be as difficult to pack as I am imagining.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Marshmallows

Marshmallow is a strange word, isn't it? Its one of those words that I would love to know how it came to be used. Maybe I should get my son, the linguist, to research that one. And while my daughter, the biologist, probably doesn't know or care about the origin of the word, I have to tell you that she made us a huge pan of homemade marshmallows last night. Homemade, like from scratch!!! And I also feel compelled to tell you that if you think you know what marshmallows taste like, you don't. Not really. Not until you taste these homemade ones. Oh My Lord they are GOOD! When she first poured the batch into the pan to cool it was all thick, heavy and sticky. Kind of like marshmallow cream. I questioned her about that, but she told me to be patient and just wait and see. So we took off to go to the gym for a while, and when we came back, and she started cutting it up into pieces (that are then rolled in powdered sugar for even more extra yummy-ness). I got a chance to taste one. And she was right, they puffed right up all light and fluffy with the exact same texture as a marshmallow out of the bag. Only tastier. I never knew you could make these at home.

ETA: Ah ha, I looked it up on my own. Marshmallow is a plant that grows near salty marshes. The root of the marshmallow plant used to be used to make the puffy confection. Nowadays, people mostly use gelatin, but the name stuck. So, there you go.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

If I offended...

If I offended anyone by this post: "How can this be?", then I apologize. I didn't mean to call anyone who voted for Bush stupid. There are several members of our own family who probably voted for Bush, and none of them are stupid. What I meant to imply was that it is incredibly stupid, and incomprehensible to me that the woman I was referring to thought Obama was an "Arab". I still feel that way. I would defend my position that this woman is stupid, right to my death.

It is probably not a good idea to blog about heated subjects like politics (or religion) on a public forum. But this upcoming election is a huge and important event, and I guess it is weighing on a lot of people's minds. It is mine for sure. And I am grateful that we live in a place where people are entitled to make their own decisions, and cast their own vote. Its one of the things that make this a great country. What makes me angry, sad, and fearful for our fate as human beings on this planet is that people would base their choice on something as arbitrary as race. In today's world so many of us are bi-racial, or multi-racial (is that even a word??) that it baffles my brain and makes my head hurt to think that someone would vote based on that. You all certainly have the right to vote for whichever candidate you prefer. But please, please for all that is Holy base your preference on the issues at hand, the stance your candidate takes on current affairs, and NOT because you don't like the color of his skin, or whereabouts that his parents might come from.

And if you happen to think that Obama is tangled up in some twisted, far-reaching conspiracy to sneak a muslim into power so that the middle east can make a beeline for world domination, then please.....dear Lord, PLEASE go and get yourself some help. They make medications for that kind of thing now.

Yesterday

I had one of those fantabulous days yesterday. My daughter came home to visit right around lunchtime, and I invited my son and daughter-in-law over to eat with us. I made chicken quesadillas and flan. Authentically Mexican food. For a daughter-in-law who is authentically Latino. And who can cook. It was something I had never tried to make before, and if you know me at all, you know that I am VERY tentative in the kitchen. I know I complain about how much I HATE to cook. And I do, seriously, but its mainly because I never learned how other than by trial and error on my own (emphasis on the word "error" here). My mother was a NON-cooker for the most part. She, bless her heart, had the ability to burn and scorch even stuff out of a can. So I feel out of my element in the kitchen. Ill-at-ease, and always vigilent for the next disaster to strike (oh and they do...they always do). But yesterday, my attempts at Mexican food turned out pretty good. Well, there was the one failed flan on Sunday night, but I got up super early and rushed out to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to try again. Monday morning's flan turned out fine.

Anyway, everybody ate, and nobody died, although I always am suspicious that people just eat my cooking out of politeness. But then, last night, we all congregated again to chat and to play cards, and they asked me....ME....the non-cooking, fearful of the kitchen woman if they could heat up the left-overs and eat again!! And that made me happy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Stuff...

So, my multi-talented daughter-in-law got hired to do some freelance photography with our local newspaper here "The Daily Reflector". She really does take awesome pictures, and she was thrilled to have the chance to do this. We are thrilled for her, too. Anyway, I wanted to share the links for her first 2 assignments. So, enjoy:

http://www.reflector.com/scene-around/scene-around-the-tar-river-arthritis-walk-179631.html


http://www.reflector.com/scene-around/scene-around-the-historical-society-open-house-179596.html

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How can this be???

I keep seeing this news clip of a John McCain rally where an older woman says that she can't trust Obama because she believes he is "an Arab". WTF???? Does it scare the heck out of anyone else that people can be so stupid? How do people like that manage to get through life on a daily basis? At least....at the VERY least McCain made the effort to set stupid McHeifer woman straight. He tried to correct her wrong assumptions. But what he should have said is "Get the hell out of here because we don't need ignorant fools in this campaign." My guess, using all my psychic powers of discernation is that stupid McHeifer woman voted for Bush last election. I would stake my life on it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Grrrrrr......

Do you ever have one of those days when the planets align just right so that the entire universe conspires against you? I am having one of those days. Nothing serious or devastating, mercifully. But its been one aggravation and inconvenience after the other. ALL DAY LONG! For starters, I had a flat tire today. I knew that my husband was near-by, and I also know that my husband is one of those "Ready Freddie" kind of people. He has an arsenal of tools in a nice little bag in the trunk of his car that includes a tire pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter, and a cool little kit that can plug a hole and have you on your way in a matter of minutes. So I made the call for help, and he was there in record time, dragging out tools and mysterious devices, etc.

First up, the tire pump died. As in refused to work properly. So, he got my tire blown up with just enough air that I wouldn't ruin the rim if I drove on it, and told me to follow him up the road just a mile or so to a little store that would hopefully have one of those air machine thingies. He took off. I made it about 200 feet and the tire went completely flat again. I had to call him back and say that I couldn't make it to the store. Ok.......so......we proceed to plan B, which is to actually change the tire and put on that little doughnut spare just to get me home. Only after wrangling with the piece of crap jack that comes with my car, and burning his fingertips on the hot lug nuts, we discover that Plan B was shot all to hell because the spare is flat. Go figure. I was ready to scream. He ended up driving all the way home and getting another tire that we happened to have, luckily, and finally....finally I was on my way again. With a pounding frustration headache.

And now I was just online trying to purchase concert tickets for an event in November that we want to see. I got through the whole purchase process, take the option to print my own tickets to avoid these excessive shipping charges and wouldn't you know it? Our fancy new printer that we just installed (we meaning husband, because I don't install stuff) refused to print. Which involved a whole lot of husband having to try to figure out what the heck was wrong with my computer settings that wouldn't send the information to the printer. (we haven't figured it out yet). So I decided to turn on my husband's desktop to print the tickets from there. And of course, more issues come up that I have no idea about. Nothing would print. It wouldn't even open the file up so I could even SEE the tickets. It ended up being an issue with husband's not having installed Adobe reader (he just recently redid his computer and is still adding things). We got it done. Tickets are printed. But again, a minor little thing that should have taken less than 5 minutes, ended up taking more like 45. I have a headache now. And all I have done is feel frustrated. Hubby has been the one doing all of the manual labor to fix the onslaught of problems.

On a happier note, I just got a call from my daughter, who had taken off this morning to drive all the way from Virginia up to New York where a friend of her's was getting married. I am always uneasy when my kids are on the roads. But she made it, and she's fine and I hope she has a wonderful weekend with these college friends from Duke that she hasn't seen in a while.
She is coming home to visit with us on Monday, and I am looking forward to it. She always says, "But Mom, you just saw me on such and such a date", which honestly was back in July, I think. But even if it was just last week, its never enough for me....HaHa. She hasn't lived at home in like 6 years, but I still miss her. When she was in high school, we used to occasionally spend our Saturdays going out for lunch and then perusing some funky little thrift shops around town. Well, sometimes we shopped at the mall, but its the thrift shop shopping that I remember most.
Alot of times we came up empty-handed, but every now and again we would hit upon a piece of treasure. I still have the blue teapot with the bright yellow sun face on it that she spotted for me. Good times, I tell you. Good times.