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.
and the living may be easy, but the gardening? Not so much. It's definitely feeling like summer is getting here, with our temps in the mid to high 80s (although the nights are still relatively cool). You know what temperatures like that do to pansies? Nothing good, I promise you, and in a way that's a good thing; I was able to work out all (ok, not all, but a lot) of my frustration about the loss of the Colorado property with hard physical labor. I got back from Colorado late Wednesday night, and on Thursday Chris and Susan, my super-gardeners, came up and we played in the dirt. (Shameless plug for Chris and Susan: If you're in the Tidewater area of Virginia and need garden help, these are the guys to call.)
Check out the difference a day makes! We ended up not going with the red white and blue color scheme we'd originally talked about, but I love this softer color scheme and even Steve is happy with it. This is just after putting it in, too; just wait til the petunias and dianthus take off.
Also please note that the big nasty straggly spruces are gone from over by the rose bed, hurray! I've got some lavender to put into that bed, and I'm still debating arbor/trellis/fence options for the back of it but I have time on that. And I've got bee balm and dahlias coming up in the bed under the windows, and the daylilies are going nuts in the door and in the round bed at the end of the house, tossing off flower spikes with reckless abandon. When those bloom the house will be totally spectacular.
You can't really tell in these pictures, but Chris pulled out some of the nasty plastic edging along the beds; we'll get the rest out within the next couple of weeks, once I pick up the metal edging I'm going to replace it with. You also can't tell that we installed a soaker-type irrigation system in the beds, and a multi-zone timer system for watering. Naturally hard work like this required careful supervision, and Onyx was happy to oblige: Yes, that's a leash; none of our cats are allowed outdoors unless they're wearing a harness and on a leash. And see all the grass and weeds that were (note: WERE) in that bed?? Oi.
On Friday I continued my epic battle against the blackberry vines in the back yard, and cross your fingers for me, but I appear to be winning. Of course for every big blackberry vine that I kill it seems like 20 little ones pop up, but overall it's MUCH better. I'll have pictures of the back yard after the weekend, if I don't collapse first. Seriously, though, this promises to be a good garden year.
Steve paid me back for all my hard work on Friday; a co-worker of his drove up to Maine on Thursday, and I was surprised with a cooler full of live lobsters! I had to cook them in batches, and the cats were fascinated by a cooler that made funny scrabbling noises. When I was down to the last lonely survivor, I left the cooler open; Hunter and Jasmine beat a hasty retreat, but Onyx has obviously never heard that whole "discretion is the better part of valor" thing. Good thing for him that lobster's claws were banded, because the lobster was MUCH less amused by the situation than Onyx was. So, we gorged on lobster last night (Seriously. I ate TWO WHOLE LOBSTERS all by myself. I should be oinking right about now.), and I still have two parboiled lobsters in the fridge for today; I'm thinking lobster rolls. I'm also remembering when Jim was a little boy, and used to beg me to cook "monster" for dinner. Too bad he couldn't have been here for the feast.
And I'm thinking of you, Annie, and Don and Steve, down in Panama City. Hope the weather there is as beautiful as it is here ... take pictures!
And none too soon. I do love it in Colorado, and Beth and I had a lot of fun, but I missed Steve, and the cats, and Pippin, and Jesse, and ... well, I was just ready to get home. Before I headed out I had another Trip From Hell; what is WITH this lately? Two trips in a row that ended with 14+ hour days due to weather delays. That's a long, long day, folks. Seriously long. Painfully long. I'm really hoping that trend comes to a screeching halt, because I Do Not Like This.
So, Colorado. Did I mention I love it? Because yeah, I do. Beth and I flew in on Friday and headed over to the Omni, which (I must brag on my leet Priceline skeelz!) I had gotten for a completely stupidly low price, lest you think I won the lottery while you weren't looking or something. Beth's online great-deal-getting skills being at least equal to mine, we were driving a cute blue Chrysler Pacifica. We stayed at the Omni for 3 nights, then switched over to the Millenium in Boulder for our last two nights (fabulous room, we liked it even better than the Omni). I kinda hadn't mentioned to poor Beth that we had to meet the realtor -- in Nederland, an hour away -- at 9:00 the next morning. ;)
We got up Saturday morning, staggered out of the hotel and over to Starbucks, and we were off. My list had I think 9 properties on it, and Nancy the Wonder Realtor had another 4 or 5 for us to look at. Honestly, I had figured we'd look around, see a lot of great stuff, and get an idea of what we'd be looking at when we really got serious. I didn't count on finding THE property -- but I did. 35 acres of pure beauty, with gorgeous views of both the foothills and the divide, natural building sites, a stream at the bottom, deer and elk wandering across the lower meadow ... and I mean, obviously this kind of incredible natural beauty alone isn't enough to make a knitter's heart go pitter patter, so let's toss in a really fabulously nice neighbor who breeds alpaca for sale and said (I kid you not, CROSS MY HEART) "Nah, we just throw away the fleece. (I almost fainted on the spot.) Oh, you knit? Your friend spins? Oh, well, you could just have all you wanted, we'd be glad to see you take it."). Seriously.
From there on, it was a rollercoaster ride. I called Steve. We talked. The property was at the tippy-tip-top of our price range, but ... it was so wonderful. So perfect. Everything we'd hoped for (plus alpaca!). So, we made an offer on Sunday -- at full price. On Monday we got the news; not one but TWO other offers, one of those also at full price. The sellers were going to counter the two of us. I started calling builders, and on Tuesday morning took one out to the site with me to go over details and make sure I wasn't missing everything; I wasn't, it was still the perfect site, and so we responded to the counter on Tuesday afternoon (the other people, we were told, had responded Tuesday morning). By Tuesday night we knew we had won, and the sellers would be signing the contract on Wednesday morning. HURRAY!
Well, unfortunately. You remember those words, right? Life had other things in store for us. At 10:30 Tuesday night someone else, an entirely new party, made an offer. Not just any offer, either; a cash offer at $20k over the asking price. No way we could compete with that, our counter had already taken us over budget. Stick a fork in us; we were done. The sellers (who are really very nice people) have offered us a backup contract, which of course we're taking; but it's a longshot, to say the least. So, pooh and other bad words. We're still looking, but the wind has been knocked out of our sails for now. I tell you, both the realtor and I almost cried. I keep telling myself that things happen for a reason, and I do believe that, but sometimes it's just hard to accept.
On a more cheerful note, Beth and I got quite a bit of shopping and sightseeing in between episodes of pretending we were mountain goats and climbing up 45 degree angles to building lots on the top of the world. We went up to The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (The Shining was filmed there), wandered around Estes Park a bit, drove through the mountains and ooohed and aahed. We visited a couple of neat yarn shops; we had planned to visit several more, but Posh and The Recycled Lamb were so fabulous, and we had bought so much fiber by the time we left those two, that we called it quits then and there. Do stop by either or both if you're ever in the Denver area. We also shopped for clothes, and shoes, and handbags, and jewelry, and goodies for my Knitters Tea Swap 3 pal -- let's just say we shopped, and leave it at that. Well, except to say that we actually had to ship stuff home, because there were these slight issues about suitcases actually closing. Not that either of us went buckwild crazy or anything, of course *cough*
And finally, on Wednesday it was over. Back to the airport, onto a plane, and then onto another plane, and we're both home now. I'll be going back out again at the end of June, or whenever Nancy finds more properties for us to look at -- and hopefully Beth can come with again. I'm pretty sure there's still some booze left in Boulder, and we need to take care of that!
I'm always noticing the birds and plants when I am travelling, and in Europe there are lots of magpies. I was remarking on them, and was given this children's rhyme. I think there is a tune, but the source of the poem refused to sing it for me.
One for sorrow, two for joy, Three for a girl, four for a boy, Five for silver, six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told.
Don is making great progress on the garage/airplane hanger. The interior is painted, has lights and electrical, and he put in the garage door this weekend. Here's the perfect ta-da moment when he showed off how easy the door is to open.
We went for the first sail of the season last night. It was a beautiful evening, with lots of wind and calm seas. One of the tall ships was out and I think it looks great silhouetted against the city. There was also a sliver of a moon with a star right beside it. I'm so pumped that sailing season has started! I'll be out again Thursday night with some people from work, and maybe even one other night this week.
This week Don is in Dallas and I'm in town all week. Shhh, don't tell anyone, or I'll have to go somewhere for sure. I'm still recovering from the cold I picked up in Europe. Don swears it's from France.
We leave Saturday morning for Panama City, and I'm looking forward to seeing Mom, Dad, Laurie and Alex. We will go down Econfina Creek one day, but don't expect any good pictures. I'm not taking my good camera in a canoe, so any pictures will be from a cheapie disposable.
The literal translation is "window-licking", and I think it's pretty self-explanatory. I did a fair bit of that over the weekend. Just look at what Pierre Cardin has in store for us this summer. I don't know about you, but I could miss that particular retrospective! We did some shopping on Saturday along with the window-licking. Ash got a beautiful Chanel purse for his wife, so I enjoyed the experience without having to spend a penny, and I got a few little things myself but nothing on that investment scale. Here I am mid-shopping, and enjoying the entire experience.
You know me, if there's a boat available I'm on it, so we booked a dinner cruise. Great food, good entertainment, and a nice seat by the window. Here's another shot of Paris just post sunset. Love that sky.
And then the Musee d'Orsay on Sunday. I even found things I didn't see last time, when I would have sworn I went through the whole place with a fine tooth comb. I need this for the next time I cook lobster, don't you think?
This just blew me away. I know it's hard to see because of the reflection, but note the close up of the lizard. The whole thing is just covered with relief figures of lizards, frogs, fish and bugs. It is totally over-the-top and I love it.
My favorite painting this time:
It's in a special exhibit, and I'm kicking myself because I didn't write down the painter's name and I can't remember it for the life of me. I even went on the web site for the museum to try to find it, and I can't. The painting is huge, and just exquisite. I stood in front of it gaping for about ten minutes.
After the museum, dinner and the Moulin Rouge. There was work done both Saturday and Sunday morning, and meetings all day today, so it wasn't all-fun-all-the-time but enough to make the weekend work. I'm headed home tomorrow, and I'm ready to stay in one place for a while. Now the trick will be to make that happen! Wish me luck.
This weekend is the much-anticipated first sail of the season. Pictures to follow.
Okay, okay, so now I have to confess. I didn't have time to go to the yarn shop, and if I had I'm sure I would have bought something. Anything. I did gaze longingly out the window of the cab as it whizzed us by the store, but didn't quite make it there.
Love your roses. About two years ago I got a trellis for one of my clematis that is really pretty, but when I went to the Smith & Hawken web site I don't see it anymore. They have smaller ones, but I think that rose would completely overtake it. When I get home my clematis should be in bloom and if I can find a camera angle that avoids all the weeds I'll post a picture.
I can't find it in my heart to be as nice as you are to the mice. I think I'd take more drastic measures, but we'll just leave it at that so you don't start referring to me as the bloodthirsty one. It does remind me that a few years ago my bird food store had the same problem you're having multiplied by . . . well, who knows, but it was really bad in there. Their solution? Two cats from the local animal shelter. I showed up innocently the day the cats arrived, and it was quite a show. The cats were wild-eyed, and the mice were on the move - one ran right in front of me, with a cat close behind. The score these days is cats 2, mice 0. Or so Dave, the owner, tells me.
Boulder? For real? That sounds great, and I don't know what your problem is with Stinky Gulch Road. Everyone would remember your address!
And now to explain the title. When I was in Madrid a few weeks ago, we had the most wonderful tapas. It was Spanish cured ham on little squares of rustic bread, toasted, with garlic and tomatoes, and like most really good things it was simple but wonderful. So, I decided to take a chance and buy some ham in the airport just in case I could get it home with me.
Then I decided to be truthful on the customs form. Next time you fill one out, look at it closely. There are two questions that I answered with "yes". One asks if you have "fruits, plants, food or insects", and the other asks "meats, animals, or animal/wildlife products". Well, ham is food, and ham is meat, right?
Then I get diverted to the "special room" where they x-ray everything you are carrying and poke through everything you have brought back, even though you've already said you have something. I get assigned a young and eager customs agent, and since it's not very busy, she's backed up with three other by-standers watching her every move lest I get through with an unauthorized pork product. Or something. She is looking, and looking, and even though I tell her exactly where the ham is she goes through everything. Finally, she locates the ham.
Then it gets weird. She looks at the form, and looks at the ham.
"What else do you have?" (confused) "Nothing" "But you said you have fruit, plants or insects" "No, I said I have food" "But you also said you have meat" (pause while I process) "Ham is food, and ham is meat" "But you already checked yes for meat. What else do you have?" "Nothing else. I checked yes for food because ham is food" (that last part slowly and deliberately, so as not to yell) "But you already checked yes for meat."
I'll let you use your imagination. I wasn't rude, but I did get more and more deliberate, until one of the other agents intervened. Needless to say, I didn't keep my ham, and it cost me at least 20 minutes.
So, lest you think our borders are safe from dangerous ham, I am making arrangements for it to be delivered. You can't order it directly into the US, but a little thing like that isn't going to stop me! I just hope that woman doesn't show up at my doorstep when it arrives.
I'm in Paris this weekend, and am planning on museums, Eiffel Tower, and other things. You'll have pictures after I've done it all.
Yours is obviously much stronger than mine. Seriously. I'm looking at those pictures and trying to zoom in and see what kind of yarn it is and there is absolutely no possible way I would have not at least walked down and looked at it. Of course we know that having looked I would have bought, but I blame that on the well-known fact that foreign yarn (or yarn discovered in unusual places, for that matter) has powers unknown to local, more domesticated yarn. What? You didn't know that? It's true, I swear.
And since we're talking about yarn I've picked up my needles, and my crochet hook as well, after a hiatus of a couple of months. I'm not fully back into the swing of things, but I attribute that to the sheer volume of other stuff going on right now. On the fiber front I'd started and am now again working on a sweater in some fabulous silk-blend yarn that I got from Beth last year; I actually picked Mom's afghan back up and am working on that again too; but mostly I've been doing quick swatches of various stash yarns and contemplating what small, easily portable project I should start to take along on trips. I have some ideas, but I haven't settled on any one thing as yet.
As to the "other stuff" referred to above, it ranges from the ordinary spring cleaning, to persuading the field mice who want to live in my garage to vacate since we really don't want to add mice to our menagerie. I've cleaned the garage out and removed mousie nests repeatedly, finally we bought a mouse mover since I can't bear the idea of traps or poisons, our cats *sigh* think the mice are great playmates, and having a nice chat with the mice wherein I politely ask them to move hasn't worked well so far -- cross your fingers that it works.
I've also spent some time weeding my flower beds (and none too soon I might add, I'd like to be able to see the roses through the weeds and that was getting to be an iffy proposition). I had to do some pretty severe pruning on a lot of the bushes last fall because of disease, but I'm happy to report that they're coming back well. I'm not sure why the previous owner planted that red climber where she did, with nothing to climb on; I'm contemplating transplanting it this fall, or else building it an arbor or trellis. Any suggestions? My white rose, the huge bush towards the left, is so covered with buds that once it's in full bloom you won't see anything but flowers. It's super fragrant, too ... I can't wait!
The rest of my front yard is doing pretty well. My daylilies are happy happy this year and starting to bud out nicely. Some of my daisies are in bloom and others are in bud, and the pansies haven't been heat-killed (or replaced by petunias) yet, so my front yard is looking pretty damned good if I say so myself (aside from the nasty plastic edging stuff along the beds which is by god getting replaced this year). Also, check out my ice plant! I have a planter under the front windows that stays dry as dust no matter what I do; I can water it until it's full of mud today and tomorrow it's a smaller but no less dry version of the Sahara desert. Late last year Chris and Susan, my hard-working and dearly beloved garden helpers, suggested we try ice plant as a last resort. We stuck a few little ice plants into the box, and I water them when I think about it which averages out to roughly once every other blue moon, and once again I owe Chris and Susan. The ice plants are loving it, and I'm loving them.
What else am I doing? Oh yeah ... planning a real-estate hunting trip to Colorado later this month. Yes, that's right. Real estate. Colorado. I'm a Florida girl at heart and I think I always will be, but it looks like I'm going to be, at least partially, a Colorado girl in the future. The plan is to look for a piece of property with an eye towards building on it in the future, whether that future be near or distant. So with that in mind I've roped Beth into going along as devil's advocate and my second set of eyes and ears, and we're heading out to look around in the mountains west (and southwest and northwest) of Boulder. I have a realtor lined up to show us around, and a nice little list of properties to take a look at, and it should be a lot of fun. I'm not sure what our perfect property may be, although I do have some ideas of what I want; but one thing I'm absolutely certain about. It won't be this one. I think you can see why.
Trying to share your problems? Thanks loads, Sis! Let's see if I can come up with 7 things that meet your same criteria . . .
1) Even though I love food and cooking, I'm really not a fan of the most high-end, avant garde restaurants. I do get taken to them from time to time, and my favorite example of why I don't like it is an appetizer I was once served that was "inspired by boullaibaisse", and when served was - well, it was fish jello. Ick.
2) Don and I are planning to "retire a little" at 55, and take two years off. We'll go back to work after that, but I want us to enjoy life for a little while. That's seven years, seven months, and eight days from today (not that I'm counting or anything).
3) The perfect job for me would be running a bed and breakfast somewhere fabulous. Lots of people, and if you don't like them they aren't staying forever!
4) I don't like to shop. I like to buy, but I'm over the shopping thing in about an hour.
5) My stash of UFO's is really, really bad. I love the handwork part, but getting it framed or making it into a pillow isn't any fun, so I just don't do it. I actually have a pillow top I embroidered in high school that is still not a pillow. 30 years was not long enough for me to finish it . . .
6) I don't like chocolate chip cookies.
7) It's Robert Redford for me.
And Lani, I have to add to your list. This one you may not even know about yourself - Steve tells me that you are a "really good" writer, and since he is one himself he should know. I guess that's maybe not a secret, since everyone who reads this can tell which of us has that gift and which doesn't.
And now on to the trivia. I bought this orchid in bloom about a year ago, and once it was done blooming put it in my bathroom and tried not to kill it. Look at the picture - it's really happy there, don't you think?
It has this on one of the bloom stalks, which I think is another little orchid. Anyone know if I could cut it off and pot it?
Don has made great progress lately on the garage/airplane hanger. It has wiring, insulation, drywall and paint, and he's working on light fixtures and fans.
It is still missing the garage door and a few other odds and ends, but it's getting close to being finished. We are planning a trip down to Sebastian, Florida this summer to look at a Velocity and do a test flight. It's getting serious now, and I think this year we'll have an airplane and a half, or however you count the kit he'll buy to build.
The lilacs and the crabapples are blooming, and the peonies are up with all their little buds.
This week, I leave Tuesday night for Copenhagen, then off to Dusseldorf after that, to Paris for the weekend and a meeting Monday, then home again next Tuesday. I hate that it covers a weekend, but that's how the schedule worked. I guess another trip to the Musee d'Orsay will be a nice diversion, and maybe I can spend a little more time in the Louvre. I am also determined to go up the Eiffel Tower, since I didn't do that last time I was there, and this time it must be done. Must. Be. Done. Regardless of the line.
So (thanks a lot, Beth!), I was tagged for a meme where you're supposed to list 7 things people don't know about you. I've discovered that it's much, much harder than you might think to come up with 7 things that (a) people might not know, and (b) somebody, anybody, might actually be interested in knowing, and (c) you don't mind making public, right here on the intarwebs, in front of God and your mom and everybody. Kinda seems like that last one precludes the first two, doesn't it? So, here are some boring but perhaps not overly known things about me.
1. I may be a flight attendant, but I'm terrified of heights. Seriously. I can't stand on a chair without getting the shakes and having my stomach get all ookie. Go figure.
2. I read obsessively, and I read fast (bad combination there budget-wise). I'll read anything from textbooks to cereal boxes, although I prefer fiction or history, and I can easily go through two or three books in a day if I get the chance.
3. Corollary to #2: When I find an author I really like, I have to get every single one of their books and read them. I'll go to great lengths to do it, even if it takes me years to get the ones that are long out of print (and sometimes it does). (Obviously I wasn't kidding about reading obsessively.)
4. My interests in hobbies run in spurts. I honestly envy people who've had the same hobby for years and never lost interest. Me? I go back and forth between several; I'll pick one up and be obsessed with it for a year or two, drop it for a few years in favor of another, then pick it back up. (I think I may actually be completely burned out on counted cross-stitch after finishing Laurie's samurai, though. Thanks a lot, Laur, hope you like him!)
5. I hate housecleaning (sorry Mom). However, I hate a dirty house too. It makes for interesting compromises sometimes.
6. I'm a computer-gaming geek; currently I play World of Warcraft, on a pvp (player vs. player) server. There's a lot to be said for giving a merciless beatdown to other players :D After a long day at work dealing with unhappy people when everything's going wrong, it's a great stress release.
7. I don't care how old he is, I still think Sean Connery is hot.
Ok, sis, your turn. I'm not tagging anyone but YOU for this!