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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.

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.

We just had a lovely trip.

Background: I love Seattle.  I’d like to move there someday.  I also have dear friends in the area.  Jason had never been to Washington, so we decided to check it out together.  He now loves it, too, and I am so happy.  (Both because we’re in agreement and because I’ve gotten to spend an entire, uninterrupted week with my husband.)

It was a quick trip, and our friends put us up for a long weekend, acting as both hosts and tour guides.  It was great fun.  To the surprise of several people back home, we had great weather, with only one partial day of rain.  (Yes, Seattle does have days of blue skies and white, puffy clouds.  I’ve seen it and have proof on my SD card!)

Sitting at our friends’ son’s soccer game Friday evening, I looked down and saw this:

My companions laughed at me for taking a picture of dirt, but I couldn’t help myself.  I’ve never gotten over missing brown dirt.  The Georgia clay is just too hard and sticky.  I’ve actually hurt my wrist and arm trying to dig a hole for a bulb in it.  And I love the smell of rich, dark soil, so there you go.

I spotted the next bit of proof that we were no longer in Georgia the next day:

Hmmm…one point to Georgia.  Pepsi has nothing on Coke.  I’m a Classic Coke girl through and through.

A few minutes later, however, all thoughts of Cola Wars had fled my mind:

Lake Washington and Mt. Ranier.  Le sigh.  The idea of being able to see a view like this on a daily – or even weekly – basis?  OMG, pure heaven.

We did do a bit of letterboxing on the trip.  Just two boxes after one of the kids’ soccer games, but enough to say we’d boxed in the PNW.  Jason and I spent a full day and a half just cruising around in our rented, electric blue PT Cruiser with maps in hand.  (He drives, I navigate.  This is one of our very favorite activities in new-to-us cities.)  Of course, we had to get souvenirs.  Jason added to his collection of beer glasses at our tour of the Red Hook Brewery.  Good beer!  It was a funny tour, although maybe not so much a tour as a verbal history with lots of beer samples.  I repeat: lots of beer samples.  For $1.  A must-visit if you’re in the area and enjoy beer.  Heck, I’m not even really a beer drinker, and I quite enjoyed myself.

My souvenir happened as we were driving around on Saturday.  When I noticed a yarn shop, Jason offered to stop.  (All together now:  Awwwww!)  So, here’s my lovely bit of wool:

(Yes, I carried it around in my bag until I found the perfect “Seattle” photo opportunity.  I believe I embarassed my husband and my host, but I was more focused on the yarn and the sign, so I can’t be completely sure.)  It’s Peace Fleece (Worsted, Georgia Rose colorway), and although it’s not local to the Seattle area, I thought the “giving back” aspect of it simply screamed Seattle, so I took it.  I’ve already begun crocheting it into a special something just for me, but that’s another post.

At the market, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this for my mom.  It’s thanks to her that I’ve never tasted a Brussels Sprout.  (And since they’re basically baby cabbages, I can’t imagine why I’d want to, anyway.  Blech!)

I should’ve asked them where they keep their evil cauliflower.  To my everlasting disappointment, I’m often only witty in retrospect.

Like I said, an all-around fun, lovely weekend.  We flew home yesterday to our kiddoes, and I must thank Mom once more for taking care of them, getting them on the school bus, etc. while we were gone.

Oh, I have one last photo to leave you with, as a reward for reading (or skimming, I’m not picky) this whole, long entry.  I never expected a photo out of the window of the plane to turn out so well.  It was taken shortly after take-off, over the Cascades.

Last weekend, I visited my sister in Virginia. Heather’s in law school up there, and we see each other only once or twice a year, so we were due for a sisterly-type weekend. So, without further ado, a brief photo journal, entitled Sisters in Arlington:

Chapter One ~ Thursday evening

Our heroine arrives at the airport, where she is greeted by our heroine. The two make the brief drive to Our Heroine’s Home, along the tree-filled avenues bordering the mighty Potomac River.


After a brief respite, our heroines enjoy a dinner of Scrumptious Specialty Sandwiches at a local eatery benefiting homeless animals. Our heroines then decide to make the journey to the Olde Neighbourhood, where they seek out the abodes and schoolhouses of old. Following our heroine’s well-honed sense of direction, and relying upon no small amount of luck, our heroines find the second of their Childhood Homes in the area.

Our heroines finish the evening in grand, sisterly style, accompanying the local easy listening station on the car radio at the top of their lungs. Upon returning to our heroine’s home, they peruse the Wonders of Cable and enjoy a period film, featuring an actor from a musical film often watched in our heroines’ Girlhood Years.


Chapter Two ~ Friday

Our heroines spend Friday out and about in the sweltering heat, accomplishing Important Tasks and Necessary Errands.

Our heroine also receives a tour of our heroine’s Educational Facilities, and experiences the wonderful quaintness that is Old Town Alexandria. That evening, our heroines enjoy a gourmet delivery dinner of Chinese Cuisine while watching Ocean’s Thirteen, Monty Python, and That Mitchell and Webb Look. There was Much Rejoicing.

Our evening ends with a Birthday Celebration for our heroine’s dear friend, the Fairy Princess Laura, accompanied by libations and classic bluegrass entertainment.


Chapter Three ~ Saturday

Our heroines being the Renaissance women that they are, Saturday is a day of both woodsy, outdoorsy adventure, and air-conditioned musicality. The day begins with the Ancient Sporte of letterboxing. The first such hunt being a Disappointing Failure (including the losing and Heroic Retrieval of our heroine’s prescription sunglasses), our heroines regroup and reconsider their goals.


The weather being what it is, our heroines decide to make the attempt for easier letterboxes, succeeding in retrieving five.


The day’s success is celebrated by our heroines in the local theatre, where they enjoy a rousing musical film entitled Mamma Mia! The show receives mixed reviews from our heroines. Our heroine is moved to tears several times, while our heroine declares it “okay.” Both agree, however, that a Fun Time was had by all.

The evening is spend at the local tavern, an establishment populated by the finest wait staff and most talented chefs our heroine has yet encountered. Our heroine unwisely overestimates the amount of food and drink her stomach can accommodate and leaves feeling slightly ill, which is in no way a commentary on the quality of food available at the Fine Tavern. (In fact, our heroine cannot stop thinking about the rabbit gnocchi and somewhat incredible pork chop she encountered that evening.) It should be noted as well that our heroine is correct in her observation that, “Javi makes the best mojitos on the planet.” Javi (not Javy) is welcome at our heroine’s home at any time for company and said mojitos.

Chapter Four ~ Sunday

The following morning, our heroine uses the leftover steak and chop to create an Omelet of the Highest Degree, accompanied by peppercorn bacon and French pressed coffee. Our heroines spend the morning in Leisurely Pursuites.


In order that our heroine might not be late for her appointment with Snoop Dog that afternoon, she drives our heroine to the airport shortly after lunch.

Our heroines have enjoyed a fine weekend of Song, Food, and Sisterhood. (Thanks, Swis!)

(See Part I here.)

Saturday night was interesting, to say the least. We knew heavy storms would be coming through, and they were heavy, all right. Fredbird woke up to them shortly after 3am, even with the air conditioner, refrigerator, and dehumidifier running in the hotel room. He turned on the TV and woke us all up. Rotation was being picked up by the radar in our area, and “possible tornadic activity” was rampant. Those little lines that point out the paths of what they think might be tornadoes were running straight through the intersection where our hotel sat.

Tornados freak me out. Twister (the movie) didn’t help a whole lot, either. I held it together, though, and put a big blanket down in the tub, stashing all the extra pillows in the bathroom, too. We were ready to run in there at the first sign of a tornado in the immediate vicinity. After a while, though, the majority of the storms passed, and the boys and I went back to sleep. Fredbird stayed up most of the night, watching the reports and the radar, just to be safe. He’s a good guy. The boys, as usual, were up at 6:15, and I managed to keep them mostly quiet for a couple of hours, but finally gave up and told Fredbird it was hopeless. 🙂

We drove to Callaway Gardens, and wow, what a gorgeous spot. I’ve only been once before, about 15 years ago, and that was for their Christmas Light thingy at night, so it was a very different experience. The weather was beyond gorgeous, too. The storms had pushed out all the haze, leaving puffy white clouds and a great wind that rustled the treetops. The letterboxing on Sunday was much more successful than the day before, and we found our first box within a few minutes. (We left a hitchhiker there, which was picked up the same day!) On our way back to the car, we saw a snake basking in a pool by a waterfall. I pointed it out to the guys and quickly backed away (we were on some decking well above it). Little Turtle said, “But Mom, you’re afraid of snakes.” “Yes,” I replied, “that’s why I’m back here. Can we go now?” I have never seen a snake that close up without glass involved. Compared to snakes, tornadoes are like a nice spring day. I don’t do snakes.

Next was the wonderful birds of prey show, on the way to which we crossed over a bridge where people throw [appropriate] food down to the turtles and ducks. Aren’t they cute??? Now there’s a reptile I can love. We also checked out the butterfly habitat before going after a couple more boxes. One was an easy find on a lovely little trail. The other, however…not so much. It was hidden near a stump next to a heavily populated walkway. We were there well over 30 minutes, waiting for breaks in the “traffic” and digging like heck in the leaves. We never did find that darned thing, but I connected online later with another boxer who had found it that day. She said it was difficult, but it was there. Dangit, another bust!

Our last box at Callaway Gardens was on another great little trail near the restaurant. (Here are the boys waiting on the bench while Fredbird retrieves the box.) After finding that one, we drove back through LaGrange for some Starbucks (poor Fredbird was a bit wiped after his long night & needed caffeine for the upcoming drive) and headed toward home.

I had remembered reading clues for the Newnan area before our trip that mentioned being in some part of the Coweta County Fairgrounds. We figured this might be our best bet for a hiding place for the Coweta box, so Fredbird handed me his Blackberry, and I searched out the information. We ended up at the Nature Center at the fairgrounds, finding two more boxes, and planting one of our own.

Sorry if this has been a bit long-winded, and if you’ve made it this far, thanks for sharing our weekend with us! I can’t remember a Mother’s Day I’ve enjoyed more. We left plenty of boxes in the area untouched, too, so there’s plenty of fodder for a return trip!

You may remember that I asked for a weekend of letterboxing for Mother’s Day. My guys came through!

We left Friday morning, stopping on the way to pick up my mom and drop her off at the MARTA station. She’s visiting my sister in Virginia this week. Sis just finished her second year of law school – you go girl!!

In keeping with the series of boxes I’m carving to document where the names of Georgia counties originated, I mapped our path and learned that we would be traveling through Coweta County on the way to Callaway Gardens, and our hotel would be in Troup County. (Callaway Gardens itself is in Harris County, where The C Team were kind enough to plant a box for me four years ago.) We stopped in Newnan with a list and Google map of various parks in that city and quickly discovered why those parks haven’t previously been planted with letterboxes. The first small park was nothing more than a poorly-maintained ball field, and the second was a large complex of fields. Unlike similar parks in Gwinnett County, however, there was no walking trail surrounding the fields, and thus no place that would make a reasonably accessible – yet hidden – niche. The third (and last) try was a small park that reminded us a lot of Thrasher Park in Norcross. (See the “kids” playing on its great playground?) Unfortunately, like Thrasher Park, this one was so well manicured that it was obvious any box would be found immediately by maintenance workers. We decided to bag the box for the time being and brainstorm for a place to hide it on our way home Sunday. On the way out of Newnan, we pulled into a parking lot where the boys bought me a Webkinz at Hallmark. They’re quite excited that I’m on Webkinz now, and I am the proud owner of a Leopard Lizard named Henrietta.

Our next stop was in LaGrange, to see if we could check in early at the hotel. We did, and we were given a list of parks at the front desk, so we had lunch and hit the road in search of a hidey hole for Governor Troup. The only park that was listed as having “hiking” had campsites, fishing and a horse trail, but no hiking in sight. The folks manning the camp office had no idea what we were talking about when we asked about hiking trails. Bust. So we drove around a bit, following our noses, and found a perfect spot!

After a nap at the hotel, we headed to Roosevelt State Park to check on the Charles Harris box and try to find some other letterboxes in the area. The box (and a couple of others) are hidden near President Roosevelt’s favorite picnic spot, Dowdell’s Knob. We could certainly see why he loved it so much. (That’s us at Dowdell’s knob in the photo. Check out that view!)

We found the Harris box without problem but had to give up before finding the other box on this section of trail. Thunder started to roll, and since we were nearly a mile away from the car, we figured it might not be safe to stay out in the woods. Dangit! Back at Dowdell’s Knob, we waited around a while for people to clear out, and retrieved the box hidden there. We were dismayed to find that a geocacher had found the box and taken the hand-carved stamp. In its place was a nut like hundreds of others we’d seen on the ground that day. Whether the nut was left by the ‘cacher or by someone else we’ll never know, but it was so disappointing. I hated that I’d have to go home and write to the person who had been so proud of that stamp. (In the clues, she mentioned that she was particularly proud of it.)

By this time, the thunder had started up again, and we were all exhausted and a bit cranky about our lack of boxing success. We headed back to LaGrange for dinner, baths (grimy kids!), and our beds.

It occurred to me a couple of days ago that Mother’s Day is coming up, and for the first time in three years, I don’t have to work that day! (I’m on a leave of absence.) I began to think about what I’d really like to do for the day, and I decided I’d really like to spend it outdoors with my guys, preferably letterboxing.

So, it’s set! The day before MD (aka Mother’s Day, aka My Day), it looks like we’re going to drive down to Callaway Gardens. Fredbird’s employee discount will get us a great rate at a hotel in nearby Lagrange, and we’ll pass through two counties that I can do boxes for: Coweta and Troup. My Charles Harris box in Pine Mountain is apparently in need of a new logbook, which I’ll admit is a large part of the reason I chose to visit this part of the state. I’ve never seen the location of this box, as The C Team planted it for me years ago. Of course, Callaway has a few boxes of its own, and the Pine Mountain Trail has several, too. Looks like the makings of a great letterboxing weekend! (And I’ll figure out later how to make it up to my mother-in-law for not being around on Mother’s Day. My mom will be in Virginia with my sister that weekend.)

So, for the new boxes…these will be part of my Georgia Counties Series. Each box in this series is in honor of the namesake of the county it’s planted in. I’ve barely begun, with boxes planted for DeKalb, Gwinnett, and Harris Counties. Coweta County is named for the Coweta Tribe of the Creek Nation of Indians. Boy, is it hard to find information on the Coweta Tribe! The most prominent member of this tribe, according to written history, is a man by the name of MacIntosh, who was half Coweta Creek, half Scottish. He’s the one who signed away the Creek lands to Georgia and was later put to death by his tribe for that crime. Not someone I’m particularly in the mood to immortalize in a stamp. I’ve found a few other articles and websites about the Creeks, but nothing at all in reference to the Coweta Tribe. The few things I have found are going to be difficult to translate into stamps, but we’ll see what I can come up with.

The other un-planted (for me) county on our drive to Callaway is Troup, named for one of the governors of Georgia. There are several portraits of him to draw from, but I’m actually quite inspired by a photo I found of his tomb. It’s striking, and I’d love for this series to be more than just a portrait gallery of famous Georgians. (e.g., The Gwinnett stamp is a replica Button Gwinnett’s signature, as he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.) I don’t know, though…a tomb is kind of morbid. Regardless, I won’t make the final decision known here, so the stamp will be a surprise!

My boys

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