Lani's household consists of Steve, the long-suffering coding genius and computer security guru; Jim, Lani's tall, red-headed and handsome son, currently finishing his second year of college; Hunter, Jasmine, Himari, Chenault, the miraculous Onyx and the even more miraculous Resk, undisputed feline rulers of the house; and Jesse, the man-hating green-cheeked conure.
Ann's household consists of Don, who is not just a computer genius but a pilot, a builder, and a damn good father; their son Steve, the marathon-running, college-bound, funniest teenager I know; and wonder dog Tater.
Other family members are Laurie, Lani's beautiful daughter who teaches at elementary levels; her handsome son Alex, aka Alexander the Great; Mary and Bo, a/k/a Mom and Dad, and Bud and Ann, Steve's patient and wonderful parents.
I'm so jealous! I hope you've had a fabulous fabulous time and that the weather cooperated a bit more for the remainder of your stay. My vacation time will be in April (and possibly in May, too ... the company is offering TOWOP in May as well, but we'll touch on that later). But the past week or so? Well. Let's start with the past DAY or so, and a bit of history.
When I moved up here (three years ago in September) this house had fabulous flower beds that were sadly neglected; the previous owner was a gardening fool, but as she grew older and less able to do the work required the beds fell into a sad state. I spent that first spring digging, and digging some more, and digging some more, and Steve's parents sent us some of their gorgeous daylilies which I planted, and I planted rudbeckia and daisies and all sorts of stuffies, and I ended up that year with reasonably presentable beds.
Sadly, last year I let gardening slide; I did a bit out front so as not to be embarrassed in front of the neighbors, and a bit in a few of the back beds so I had a pretty enough immediate view out the back windows, but nothing at all in other beds, and one of the things I didn't do anyplace *sigh* was weed enough. I also made a foolish, foolish decision to let the wild blackberry vine that had sprung up in one corner of one bed blossom and bear fruit; yes, the blackberry cobblers were yummy, but I'd forgotten something. What I'd forgotten is blackberries are kind of like mint, only not so easy to control, and they're thornier, and on top of their propensity to spread like wildfire the birds carry seeds everywhere too, and if you have one blackberry vine in a reasonable place this year you'll have 20 hozillion kajillion blackberry vines next year, in places you really DO NOT WANT blackberry vines like, say, in the middle of your yard where your bare feet can find them. Oi.
So guess what I did today? Now that the weather is beautiful, and Spring has definitely sprung? Yep -- I'm paying for last year's laziness. I spent all morning and into this afternoon out in the back yard raking and pulling up dead weeds and young upstart blackberry vines and then turning the soil in two of the not-quite-so-deathly-direly-bad beds, and then I gritted my teeth, put on my thickest leather gloves, and attacked the blackberry vines in the bed where they grew last year. They attacked back and a mighty struggle ensued, but I'm happy to report that the bed is now approximately 75% blackberry-vine-free, and I am approximately 100% scratched up but victorious. The other 25% of that bed, and the not-so-bad beds in back, and the one really horrendously horribly weed-and-blackberry-vine-and-mint-clogged bed, will all wait for tomorrow and next week. Trust me, they'll all be there.
The front yard? Not so bad, although there's some weeding and general maintenance needed there as well. My pansies are happy as little brightly-colored clams right now, although I know they'll be fading fast now that warmer weather is here. I'm going to replace them with petunias, I think; Virginia is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the settling of Jamestown and they've declared red white and blue as the color scheme of the year for gardens, so I figure why not? I'll do the red white and blue petunia thing in the sidewalk beds, and let my roses and rudbeckia and daylilies and dahlias add contrast in the side and under-window beds in front.
In the side yard my flowering peach is in full bloom, maybe I'll have peaches this year that survive the birds.
I love my flowering peach. Onyx loves it too, and he loves the daffodils that are blooming out front as well; Onyx loves flowers, period. (What? You thought this would be a cat-free post? HA.) He loves them in a somewhat different way than I love them, though. You may remember the picture on the left from last fall. The picture in the middle? Today. He's grown up, but not out of the flower-nibbling habit. And a gratuitous size comparison between Onyx and Hunter on the right; Onyx is almost a year old, but he's a smallish kitty. Hunter is almost six years old, and he's ... not smallish. At all.
In non-gardening news Laurie zipped up for a quick shopping trip to New York this week; we flew in, shopped, and flew out on the same day. Fun! We were actually only in the city for about 5 hours; she'd twisted her ankle the previous day at work but swore she'd be fine! Just fine! You know where THAT's going, right? Yeah. After a few hours of shopping, the ankle was swollen and hurting. So I called and changed our flights back, we went to Ollie's Noodle Shop for lunch (GOOD! This place goes on the New York lunch rotation for sure! I dunno who Ollie was, but he makes some kickass noodles and Sauteed Pea Stems with Garlic that are to die for.) and by 3pm we were on planes heading out. We'll definitely do it again, but I think next time we'll spend at least one night; New York food is just too good to only have one meal there.
And back to vacations; Steve and I had originally planned to go to New York for a long weekend for my birthday, and then I was going to go to Panama City for a few days. When that fell through, I'd thought I'd go to Europe and see you, and get down to Panama City for a visit. When THAT fell through, I thought I'd take a cruise or something equally fun with Beth for part of my time off, and yeah, Panama City. Well, suddenly this big breaking project Steve's working on requires a business trip -- to Denver. In the middle of the week of my birthday. And he was able to sweettalk and cajole and generally work things out so that we're heading to Denver on Sunday the 15th, we'll have Sunday and Monday free to wander and explore around Denver, Tuesday and Wednesday Steve has business meetings in the Boulder area and I'll wander, explore (and shop!) on my own; Wednesday night we're going to zip over and stay near the entrance to the Rocky Mountains National Park, spend all day Thursday in the park, spend the night there Thursday night, and head back here Friday. And I'll still have 10 more days off!! Panama City will take up several of those, the rest I'll probably do more gardening and resting and *gasp* maybe some knitting and crocheting.
But wait! There's more! The company is offering TOWOP (time off without pay) AGAIN in May! So now the question becomes ... how much unpaid time off can one girl take and still have enough money to do something fun with said time off? Stay tuned; I plan to figure that out.
We arrived in the middle of a downpour, and it rained from arrival Sunday afternoon until Tuesday evening. No diving Monday, it was storming so they canceled, but we dove in the rain on Tuesday.
Within 15 minutes on our first dive, we saw a shark, a huge lobster that I wanted to nab for dinner but we're in a preserve so no hunting, a sea turtle, manta ray, billions of fish, barracuda, grouper . . . and that's in about 15 minutes. When they say this is great diving, they aren't kidding!
No pictures yet. Above water is fine, but underwater is just phenomenal and I don't have a camera that works there. I will take some later and post them when we're home.
All is well - not too sunburnt, no injuries, just good diving and then lots of hanging out waiting for the next good diving opportunity. Just what we wanted!
The Weaver girls have always had a thing about shoes, and I have participated in that "thing" enthusiastically over the years. Don has enabled my obsession by building shoe racks and buying shoe boxes, and I must have between 50 and 75 pairs of shoes. It's been higher, but I've been culling lately.
So, on this girls weekend I went on, we were (of course) talking about shoes. I know men think we talk about them, but there's actually more action on the shoe front. I had just purchased the Gucci boots, so we started talking about how much we spend on shoes and how many pairs we have. So I gave out my numbers, which were toward the high end. One of the women said she only had thirty pairs so we decided we were going to take her shopping. She's led a deprived life, obviously.
Then we got to Kathy.
"So, how may pairs do you have, Kathy?" "Oh, around 250."
"250? For real?" "Yes, 250."
I was shaken. My standing was in jeapordy. Then she let the final blow fall.
"I just love shoes. When I get dressed in the morning, I decide which shoes I want to wear and then pick clothes to go with them."
I have been put in my place. I guess that Weaver shoe thing is really not so excessive after all.
We're leaving this evening for spring break vacation in the Turks & Caicos, which we thought about early on and then decided we couldn't do it, and came back to at the last minute and made it work. We'll be diving and beaching for a week, and I'll take pictures so you can see how it is.
So here's where I was on the crane project in February. It's a milestone - halfway through!
And here's where I am now.
In other news, Don is stuck in New Jersey with the storm coming through. The airlines have cancelled his flight, and have re-booked him on a flight that gets home at 10pm tomorrow. He's not a happy camper, and is thinking about getting a rental car and driving, but I'm worried about him driving in that weather. Sure hope you're not stuck in that too, Lani. This would be a good day to not be flying, and I'm glad that I'm at home!
No knitting this week, I'm letting my arm rest, and I'm trying to let me rest too. Last week has caught up with me, I'm really dragging. I'll be to bed early tonight and hope to get a full night's sleep for the first time in - well, I really can't remember the last time I slept until I woke up. It sounds like a good goal for the weekend. That along with putting my house back together after all the painting activity, finalizing the sofa fabric at Calico Corners, and cooking. Not too much - we really need a quiet weekend.
This is what happens when I save up posting waiting on my sister. (hint, hint) Brace yourself.
1) Sofas. It was quite an adventure picking them up, it snowed for a week solid which ruled out getting them in our pickup so we had to rent a U-Haul truck and drive downtown to get them. That was the better part of a Saturday, but they're here now and aren't they cute? I have fabric swatches that I'm trying to decide on, and trying to hurry since Calico Corners is having a fabric sale and I need to decide before it's over.
2) Knitting. The second of the purple socks is coming along. I love these socks, but I'm ready to be done. I have a knitting injury which is cramping my style, so I may need to switch to crochet, needlepoint, or crewel for a while to let it heal. It's a repetetive stress injury in my left elbow, and if I knit too long it's really bad. That is potentially a problem for the gift knitting I've been referring too. It may be a gift for another occasion than the birthday I originally envisioned!
3) Spring is really coming! because the redwing blackbirds are here. They are the first birds to arrive, and I await them eagerly. I even have the guys looking out for them (Don calls them stick birds because they perch on the reeds). Don spotted them this past weekend, so even though I didn't see any this morning I am ready to believe it. Also, I got the e-mail looking for volunteers to bring the boats down from winter storage and was the first to sign up. Love, love, love being the first to sail in the spring and the last in the fall, even though it isn't always great sailing and is always Really Cold.
4) Hilary. Our friend's daughter who tried out for DePaul got the call back. Out of 410 original applicants, they are down to 40 and she's in so far. There are 24 slots for the fall, so we're all keeping our fingers crossed. Here she is with our GeoMags, which were the hit for the weekend.
5) New housekeeper started, and she came back for the second week. Cross your fingers for me.
6) Travel. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and London this time around, and good meetings all places. I'm getting pretty good at navigating around and knowing where to take the train or the Tube. I got Steve a T-shirt that says "Mind the Gap" which is what the automated voice on the Tube says whenever you get to a stop. That's Brit-speak for "don't fall into the hole between the platform and the train". No pictures this time, I tried to get one of the sheep or the windmills out the train window but every time I tried I got a reflection, or distant black spots that were sheep, or something got in the way.
7) The girls weekend was good. I went to a friend's vacation home for the weekend with 5 women from work and had a blast. We drank, I cooked, we ate, I cooked more, we ate more, and we went to a spa where I had a pedicure and a massage. Then we went out to eat and have more to drink. Here is a picture to go with the theme.
8) Gucci. I fell in love, and I had to have them, even though they are the most expensive shoes I've ever purchased. I kept seeing the most awesome boots in Rotterdam and in London, which were great but didn't have really high heels, so I had to get a pair. Here is the full experience, starting with the shopping bag. I think I may need some new clothes to go with, and I'm fretting about matching the red though everyone is assuring me that red is neutral so I should just wear what I'm wearing, and let the boots speak for themselves.
9) Don is on the road for two weeks straight, and I saw him for two hours at the airport on Sunday before he headed off for New Jersey and I went home. I can't complain about missing him, since I went to girls' weekend instead of coming home, but I sure feel like whining. Maybe if I do it quietly he won't notice.
10) Steve is running again, and is happy about that. We're going to college night at the high school tonight to get some idea about how we should approach this whole thing. Wish me luck.
Yeah, it's been forever since I blogged ... sue me! I've been busy, and when I haven't been busy I've been lazy, and I've started a half dozen posts and never finished them. *sigh* indeed. Anyway. I went to Florida to help Laurie move mid-February ... it really wasn't much warmer than Virginia, sad to say. But a lot of packing went on there, not to mention a lot of laughing and a lot of just enjoying being with Laurie and Alex and Mom and Dad. Laurie's new apartment is much bigger than her old apartment, and much newer, and has an additional bathroom, and has hookups for her washer and dryer which of course is all well, and good, but she's giving up so much ... how can that be, you ask? Well, she's giving up this view: Yes, that is what she saw every day out her living room and bedroom windows. I don't know how she can let that go, space and bathrooms and convenient washing/drying of clothing notwithstanding. Her new view isn't BAD, mind you ... trees and all that ... but it sure isn't the bay.
Alex was so funny during the move. He watched us pack with some interest but no real involvement, until we reached his room. He was watching Dora the Explorer out in the living room when we started, and we'd gotten pretty far along when he wandered back in (we were moving at a good clip). He stopped at the door looking absolutely thunderstruck, and and said, "What are you doing with my STUFF?" "We're moving, Alex, remember?" Laurie said. "We're packing everything up so we can move it." Silence ... a tear ... a sob ... and then, "But ... but I LIKE my stuff!" As you can see, we weren't able to fully convince him that his "stuff" was going to reappear in the new house.
So, remember that trip I mentioned in my last post, way back when? The one where I was going all sorts of places including, well, Pittsburgh? Yeah. Me too. I spent a lot of time in Pittsburgh Valentine's week, actually, what with the freaking ICE STORM and the POWER OUTAGE AT THE HOTEL and the CANCELLED FLIGHTS and the STUCK IN PITTSBURGH and all that. *ahem* Anyway ... yeah. We got stuck in Pittsburgh. Fortunately my crew was great and despite being stuck in a hotel which, yes, had no power part of the time, we had a lot of laughs. We actually ended up getting home on time, despite losing an entire day of flying to the storm (I'm not going to mention all the cancelled flights, thankyouverymuch) (thank you, Dave and Tim, for getting us all home safely). Once I got home I spent a day unwinding and then whee, off again to Elmira, New York, where it was pretty damn cold (as in, wind chill of approx -20 when we left for the airport in the morning, brrr). That was about it for February's flying ... really a quiet month.
This month I've been trying to get my garden ready for spring, get my house ready for spring, and I've had one horrendously long three-day trip with overnights in Greensboro and Providence. One of my favorites ... such a pretty city, Providence is. Our day was destined to be long anyway, but it decided to snow in New York City on the last day of our trip -- and as I'm sure you're well aware, if a snowflake falls within 20 miles of LaGuardia, there are delays. We chalked up a 14-hour day, and when I arrived home I fell into bed and slept not only through the night but through most of the next day.
In other job news the company offered time off without pay during April, and I put in for 2 weeks and got it, so I'm going to be doing some traveling. Steve and I are hoping to spend a long weekend in New York for my birthday, I'm going to take another birthday trip towards the end of the month ... and you know, if I could find someone to zip over to somewhere in Europe with for a few days in there, just for the hell of it, I'd fit that in somehow as well ... hint, hint ...