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randomtuesday

  • Today, August 17, 2010 is the first anniversary of our move to Seattle.  At this time last year, our plane was just about to touch down, I believe.  A year!
  • We spent the weekend in Oregon.  It was a whirlwind trip, smiled upon by the angels.  Or, more likely, the god of getting into restaurants just before the long lines.  Which god is that, anyway?  Dionysus, maybe…
  • Seriously, we picked the right weekend, even with the 95-degree temps.  See, since it WAS going to be so hot, I spent time online looking for air-conditioned stuff to do.  Which led us to OMSI, which just happens to be hosting an Einstein exhibit right now.  And which just happened to be free this weekend.  Fa-ree.  Completely sponsored by Fred Meyer (local grocery store).  YES!  Cheap trip just got cheaper, baby.
  • Oh, and Einstein?  I never knew much about his life or political beliefs before Saturday, but I’m now a huge fan.  Totally cool old dead guy.
  • Speaking of travel, have you checked out Trazzler?  Fun!  I read about it on someone else’s blog recently, and I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember whose.  But thank you, mysterious blogger who I follow in RSS but apparently am too daft to recall!
  • It looks like the blackberries are ripe around these parts.  The boys and I must make a roadside stop.  I can’t imagine any better summer taste than fresh blackberries.  Unless it’s blackberry pie.  Or blackberry cobbler.

My bags are [almost] packed; I’m [almost] ready to go.

A short trip: a friend’s long-awaited and well-deserved graduation, Relay For Life, a slumber party, and a quick jaunt to Yosemite.

No, I’m not walking the Relay in those Aerosoles.  They’re not as comfy as you’d think, given the brand name.  Also, not wearing them to Yosemite.

Will you all be shocked and horrified when I tell you that’s my only pair of heels?  I promise, I’ll buy more when someone invents heels that are both comfortable and affordable.  I don’t do that whole “suffer for fashion” deal.

Which I suppose is pretty obvious to anyone who’s ever seen me.

Have a good weekend, all!

randomtuesday

  • What, Tuesday again?  Oh dear, that means I leave town in two days.  I have a lot to do.  Why am I on the computer?  Oh yeah, because I’m the Queen of Procrastination.  Or will be when I get around to buying myself a crown.  Someday.
  • I don’t have an actual bucket list, more of a vague bucket jumble in my head.  Things I want to do.  Make that things I really want to do.  Maybe I should write them down?  Anywho…  I found a new experience to add to the jumble/list this weekend while reading O Magazine.  Travel to a random foreign destination with no plans, asking people I meet there what they recommend.  What an outrageous, scary, exhilarating thought!  I tore the article out and added it to our travel file after informing Jason that we’re going to do that someday.  I tore several articles out of that issue, as a matter of fact.  I don’t often recommend specific magazine issues, but this one has some good stuff in it.
  • Holy cow.  Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas?  Count me in.  (Minus the peppers, because, you know, they’re peppers.  Ick.)  I think I’m the only one in the family who would eat them.  Even better.
  • Speaking of The Pioneer Woman, did anyone else do a double-take while watching Dancing With the Stars last night?  From the angle the camera shot them, the people in the audience applauding for Erin looked an awful lot like Ree and her daughter.  At least in the quick glance I got the first two times they were shown.  I knew it wasn’t them, because Ree was tweeting from the ranch all day.  Sure enough, when the camera went back to them later in the show, that was obvious.  Still, it had me questioning myself for a few moments.
  • That was a really oddly random thing to talk about, wasn’t it?  Oh wait, it’s Tuesday.  It’s supposed to be random.  I think I might be getting the hang of this.
  • It’s been a week of weird anniversaries, hasn’t it?  Twenty years ago, Jim Henson died.  That’s the first thing I remember happening in the “outside world” that truly affected my psyche.  Oh sure, I remember the Ollie North trial, and a couple of other major 80’s events, but hey, I was a kid.  A normal, American, self-centered kid.  Those things happened, but they didn’t happen to me.  Jim Henson?  Kermit Himself?  I felt that loss.
  • The other anniversary – today, thirty years ago.  Mt. St. Helens.  I don’t remember that one (I was five, people, not even in kindergarten yet), but now that I live in the PNW, I’m learning a lot about it, and obviously the anniversary is quite a big deal around here.  For good reason.  The thing is still active.  Wow.  I think we’re going to go visit it this summer.

Time for another installment of photos from our Spring Break trip to gorgeous Vancouver, British Columbia.  We didn’t choose the most beautiful week of the year to visit; it rained most of the days we were there, but hey, this is the Pacific Northwest, and we’ve had a whole seven months to get used to that.

We did head out and about the city whenever there was a break in the rain, and we discovered why everyone waxes rhapsodic about Vancouver’s beauty.

We visited Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver’s highest point.  I’m looking forward to visiting during a week that isn’t overcast, because I’ll bet the views of the mountains are spectacular.

We spent a good part of one day in Stanley Park.

Which has many stunning views of its own.

Including a little leftover Olympic spirit…

…and the Lions Gate Bridge.

We didn’t find a prettier place in Vancouver.

And now for the photos that made me glad I’d brought my tripod.

The view from our hotel room during the day…

…at dusk…

…and at night.

I’m learning to love slow shutter speeds.

I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for photos from our trip to Vancouver.  You know, the one we took a month ago?  Ahem.  Anywho…

We saw a lot of birds there.  Seagulls, especially.  We saw a lot of seagulls.  (No, we weren’t surprised.  Yes, we realized it is a port town.)

Seagulls at Granville Island

Seagulls at Canada Place

Seagulls with interesting coloring at Granville Island

We also saw several of these beautiful little fellows

Anyone know what he is?  (Ooh, a starling!  Thanks, Nic!)

We even saw a one-legged goose!

His wife and eggs were nestled close by.  He let me get pretty close for a couple of photos, and I returned the favor by leaving his family alone.

But my favorite birds of all?  My favorites – and I cannot believe I’m going to say this – my favorites were the pigeons on Granville Island.

Because of this

Um, Nicky?  Hey, kiddo…

Nicolas!  Could I get a pic of you, too?

Ah, there are those baby blues!

And that look on his face?  That look right there…it’s the look of a bird master, people.

Kalen wasn’t that interested.  Until Nicky showed such success.

Why aren’t they coming to me?

Let’s try it without the soda and with some birdseed, kiddo.

Whoa, that’s close.

Let’s try again.

Now, that’s more like it!

Look!  Look what I did!

That face?  That face is why I love the pigeons.

March 20, 2010

The guys’ first ferry ride

My hair + wind = photo opportunity

Picnic lunch at the park housing the first letterbox on our list

Tiny flower from a boy (tucked into my ring)

Hiking through the woods, on the way to letterbox #2

The beach at the end of the trail ~ lovely surprise!

Look at that view!

Ditto…

Playing around while waiting for Dad to find letterbox #3

Future heartbreakers

Races…great way to tire them out for the trip home.

randomtuesday

  • Hello!  We’re back from Spring Break in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada.  We spent all last week there, mostly just vegging in the hotel room because of the rain.  We had a couple of clear days, so I do have some photos to share when I get around to uploading them.
  • I had fully intended to write several posts ahead of time and schedule them to post while we were out of town.  Two reasons: to give you all something to read, and to hide the fact that we were out of town from any evil people who might be reading.  Big old fail there.  At least I managed a couple of posts from the hotel room.  There’s truly something to be said for a vacation with absolutely no planned activities.  Even besides time for blogging.
  • We love Tom Bergeron.  Seriously.  At least once per DWTS season, Jason and I look at each other and comment about what a fantastic host he is.  Probably our favorite non-talk show host ever.  He delivers his corny jokes so fluidly that you laugh before you realize they’re corny.  Plus, he’s always so at ease.
  • In photography news, this week I’ve set my camera on manual mode.  It’s not nearly so frightening as I thought it might be.  I’m having fun.  Now, if only the rain would let up, so I could go outside and play.
  • I’m on the hunt for some shoes.  This is always a process for me, because I’m (a) cheap and (b) extraordinarily picky about shoes.  (I refuse to wear uncomfortable shoes, my feet widened during my second pregnancy, and I need arch support.  These all seem like perfectly normal parameters, but it’s not as easy as you’d think to find shoes that take all three into account.)  The process is even more intense, because this time I need athletic shoes…something I can wear on the elliptical or for a walk around the neighborhood.  And here’s the kicker: I would like my little toes to NOT fall asleep while I’m on the elliptical, as they always do.  I’ve been told to go up a half size to combat this, but it feels so wrong to have shoes that big.  I told you I’m picky.
  • While we were out of town, Jason took the boys to the hotel swimming pool most afternoons.  Granted, I was usually cooking dinner (and one day, doing laundry, after which we discovered that I’m apparently allergic to Cheer laundry detergent.  I still itch all over, dangit.), but still.  It was nice to send them all off together, and have a bit of time to myself.  The nice thing about cooking in a hotel suite is that it’s the only chore you have to do all week.  Cook, clean up the dishes, and that’s it.  Someone else comes in mid-week to clean the bathroom.  The kids can put their own clothes in the dresser.  There’s not a whole messy house staring at you, making you feeling guilty for sitting in your PJ’s at 2pm, reading, playing Carcassone or cribbage, knitting, and/or watching an Ace of Cakes marathon.

Last year, when we began planning the trip up to D.C. for Heather’s graduation, the plan was to fly up Friday afternoon and stay a whole week, allowing the boys to miss their last three days of school.  (Yes, today was the last day of school – eep!!)  However, a Plan B became necessary when we realized that employment just might not happen in time to pay for four plane tickets up there.  Indeed, it was a good thing we came up with Plan B (thanks again for that shove in the right direction, Mom!), because employment has not yet come along.

So, per Plan B, Jason, Dad, the boys, and I all drove up last Thursday and returned Monday.  (Mom already had her plane ticket booked, the lucky girl!)  Our plans for a week’s explorations of our nation’s capital were squelched, and we instead devoted Sunday to seeing as much as we could without dropping from exhaustion.*

Of course, Saturday was graduation, and I’m sorry to say I have no pictures.  The event itself was spectacular, but I was just far enough away that my little point-and-shoot gave me horrible photos that weren’t worth the effort.  The evening before was the family reception…and boy, was that yummy!  I mean, fun.  It was fun.  The food was yummy.  On second thought, these kind of events are all about the food, so I’ll go back to my original statement.  The reception was yummy!

IMG_9198Left to Right: Me, Mom & the Graduate

So, Sunday, Jason and I took the boys downtown.  I lived in Northern Virginia as a child, but this was Jason and the boys’ first visit to the area.  I insisted that we begin with the Lincoln Memorial.  To me, this is the most moving of the monuments, or maybe it’s just the clearest in my memory and thus the most sentimental.

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We have decided that they really need to build a Metro station nearer this monument.  We hoofed it from the Foggy Bottom station, which isn’t bad at all, until you realize you have a looong day ahead of you, and there’s no Metro line between you and the Mall!

That’s okay, we determined; we’ll make it!  (Insert whiny children.)

I’m glad we walked it, though, because we got to see the Vietnam Memorial, and the new-to-me Vietnam Women’s Memorial, in addition to the new World War II Memorial.  Not much I can say about those, except how beautiful and moving they are.

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I promised myself that I’d keep this from being an image-heavy, detailed posting of our entire trip…so, just for you, the highlights of the rest of the day:

A walk to the Mall * A rest on a bench * Gawking in the Museum of Natural History, to include: * Whales * Fish * Dinosaurs * Mammals * Quartz, Minerals, & Gems * Meeting good friends at the Museum of American History, to include: * Really expensive pizza and hot dogs * Kermit * Science Experiments * Funny photos * Trains * Ruby Slippers * and a Metro Ride to end the day.

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Seeing Washington from a grown-up point of view was a different experience for me.  We’ve put it at the top of our list for a full week’s vacation as soon as we can manage it.

Of course, as we drove back on Monday, the highlight of the trip was Bench Monday.  Bench Monday makes me happy.

2009-May18-blogAt a Rest Stop Somewhere in North Carolina

*We did, in fact, drop from exhaustion, but we managed to belay it until getting back to Heather’s house that evening.

Two things have been missing from my blog lately: me and crochet.

Me?  That’s an easy one.

My brilliant, fabulous, incredible and now highly-educated little sister graduated from law school on Saturday.  I so want to call her a lawyer and send cute little notes with an “Esq.” on the end, but she says I’m not allowed until she passes the bar.  Details, details.  (I still inscribed the book I bought her with her name, Esq.  It’s fun, and I’m freaking proud of her.  So sue me.  I’ll have a good lawyer soon enough.)  So, we were up in Virginia for a long weekend celebrating, watching her speak (yes, she was elected speaker by her class!), and sight-seeing in D.C.  (Pictures of that to follow later…)

Crochet?  Ah, never assume that the absence of crochet from the blog equals an absence of crochet from my life!  I’ve been working for the past month solely on Heather’s graduation present…and since it was in her school colors, I exercised an awful lot of restraint and did NOT post the progress here.

However!  Graduation is past, and the gift has been given.

When I read about Laughing Purple Goldfish’s Event Plaid, I knew immediately that this is what I would make for Heather’s graduation gift.  After a few trips to Goodwill for sweaters to frog and a session with my Wilton’s and Kool-Aid dyes, I had three green yarns and a gold.  Perfect for a George Mason U. grad.  (This is the largest project I’ve made completely of reclaimed yarns.  Yay!)

(Note: The original pattern is out of print, but this blanket is made using the same technique.)

The whole idea of this blanket is to utilize the numbers from an important date to create the pattern.  Heather’s graduation was on May 16, 2009, or 5-16-09.  The numbers I would use to make the blanket, therefore, were 5-1-6-9.  I needed four yarns for this; the first would be used for five rows, the second for one row, etc.  Voila, a pattern!

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It was going well, until I got to the third yarn in my pattern, and I quickly realized that I would run out of my third and fourth yarns if I kept up that pattern.  I modified the numbers and ended up with a 5-1-3-6 pattern.  I’m not sure if anything important happened on May 13, 2006, but we’ll just assume it’s around the time Heather decided to move to Virginia for law school and call it done.

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I have to agree with Sharon’s assessment that this is an ugly, ugly pattern until the very last bit is done.  The pattern is worked in dc, ch1 spaces for row after row.  It’s not very attractive.  The magic happens after the crochet portion is done and the weaving begins.  Weaving is done in the same row patterns, obviously worked in the other direction.  Once the strands are woven through and the tassles tied, the plaid is obvious and incredible.  I can’t imagine a color combination that wouldn’t look great.

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I learned an important thing during this process.  This pattern takes forever.  I mean it.  It just goes on and on, especially when you want a blanket of some size, like I did.  I really wanted to give Heather something she could snuggle under on the couch.  I managed to watch several great miniseries on DVD with Mom and Dad while crocheting this thing.  The weaving took a lot longer than I expected, too.  Thank goodness for Mom.  She spent most of the day and evening last Wednesday working on the weaving, and it saved me a lot of anguish and scrambling.

It was worth it, though.  I finished the weaving on the road on Thursday and tied the tassles that night in the hotel room.  It’s one of my favorite pieces ever.

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Here’s an idea of the size…Heather says it will be perfect for her office someday.  She wants a chaise where she can curl up and read briefs and cases, and of course, she must have a blankie for the space.  This one has the added bonus of being very tartan-like, which speaks to our proud Scottish heritage.

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She looks pretty happy with it, don’t you think??  It even matches her eyes.

IMG_9186Cozy Girl, Esq.

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March isn’t very nice to girls
It steals their hats and blows their curls
It huffs and puffs with such a noise
I think that March was made for boys

I’m not particularly drawn to ceramics, especially porcelain figurines, but this little girl has been sitting on my dresser for as long as I can remember.  She holds a special place in my heart, and I often looked upon her with envy of her curls, full skirt and beautiful bonnet.  I usually imagine her standing on a low hilltop in England.  The verse comes from the booklet connected to her by the string around her waist, and it goes through my mind like a song every March, all month long.  It seems sadly inappropriate today, as the still, 80-degree day creeps over us, and as usual, I am vaguely annoyed at the implication that girls don’t enjoy a good, blustery day.

I called Mom to find out where the girl came from, and she confirmed that she was a gift for me when I was tiny.  Mom is pretty sure she was given to me by my Great-Grandmother, who was very much into collectibles.  I have to watch myself, because I inherited that love of collectibles (if not of the same types of items), and it would be all too easy to pick up all the trinkets I fall in love with, filling my home to the brim.  Instead, I buy none.  I do have my few Willow Tree figurines, given by family members who know I love them, but that’s almost it.  In fact, when it came time to stage the house, Mom had difficulty coming up with enough items to do it.  I suppose clutter has been my display of choice.  (A decorating technique I am determined not to let back into my life.)

[Edited to add (a few hours later): I discovered just how much that figurine means to me this afternoon.  I left it on the stairs to take back up to our bedroom after taking the above photo and forgot to put it away before the school bus arrived.  It was knocked down by a child who shall remain nameless, and who was so remorseful (having broken into sobs at the precise moment I did) that I cannot hold him responsible in the least.  It’s a clean break, right at the waist; I’ll glue her back together, of course, but I can’t help feeling she’ll never be quite the same again.]

Anyway, to March.  It certainly came in like a lion for us.  On March 1, Jason and I awoke in a hotel in East Memphis to find ice an inch thick covering the freeways and welcoming us on our journey across country.  Thankfully, that day was the worst of the weather we encountered in our six-day drive.  We hit thirteen states including our beginning and end points of Georgia and Washington, saw three sets of friends (in Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Washington), and stayed in hotels in Memphis, Denver, and Boise.  We encountered high winds, hundreds of giant, awe-inspiring windmills, and incredible vistas.  I spent my birthday embracing the altitude sickness that has now plagued me both times I’ve made rapid high altitude gains, but it was worth it, for I got new yarn (appropriately – for March – at a store called LampShoppe) and got to spend the evening with a friend of nine years, who I’ve never met in person before.

Driving across country is a pain, especially in winter, when concerns of passable mountain passes are paramount, and you have faulty heat in the car and no snow tires or chains.  But…it is fun.  It is an adventure.  The stark contrasts of land and vegetation from region to region are marvelous and could never be seen or appreciated from a jet plane.  The opportunity for good conversation with your driving partner is endless, and, if you’re the passenger, you get to crochet, read, or sleep to your heart’s content.

As you might have guessed, the purpose of the drive was to deposit Jason in Seattle, where he can focus locally on his job hunt.  It is going well, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him.  I’m back in Atlanta with the boys, and it looks like we’ll have a contract on the house soon.

In like a lion, out like a lamb.  Sounds good.

My boys

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