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.
Steve got his braces off, we went sailing, I went to California . . . (posted by Ann)
I don't know if you recall, but Steve has had to wear braces twice. Once in fifth and sixth grade, and then again in high school. He had really, really bad teeth, but no more! Finally, the ordeal is all over, and he's pretty happy about that, as you can see.
We also brought the boat down from storage. It was an interesting trip, because the weather wasn't great. Here's what we looked at the whole trip:
Yep. Totally fogged in. Now, I love sailing, but it's really nice to be able to see something other than the boat and a thin strip of water around it! This is what it looked like for 6 hours down the lake. You had to keep watch, because who knew when another boat might appear from the fog, but there was nothing to see. Nothing. We eventually took turns keeping watch and reading a book.
You will also notice that Don looks pretty bundled up - it was cold. Seriously damp and cold. I always bring ten extra layers of clothing, because I'm always cold, but Don didn't have another pair of socks so he struggled to sort of get into a pair of mine. Check out this fashion statement.
Old topsiders, my purple and yellow fleece socks, his white socks, jeans, and foul weather gear. Quite the man-about-town, isn't he?
I headed off to San Diego on Wednesday for a meeting, and stayed here. It was a gorgeous place to stay, and I did find 30 minutes one evening to walk on the sand and stick my toes in the water, which was very cold. I made the fateful decision to come home Saturday instead of taking a red eye after the dinner Friday night. My flight cancelled, so I got routed through San Francisco, and had to travel all day to get back.
That's been our week - I know we will be out your way soon to visit the school, we are deciding early this week the exact date. It will be in May, so that isn't too far away! I'm looking forward to seeing you and Steve, and hoping that my Steve likes the school near you so I can have family at least within the same time zone.
Next Saturday we bring the boat down from winter storage, which is an all day sail down the lake from Waukegan to downtown Chicago. I'm not sure whether I'm mostly excited, and a little worried about the weather - or mostly worried about the weather, and a little excited. After a long winter of not being on the boat, I think I'm probably mostly excited. We could get 70 degree weather, which is what is called for on Wednesday, or we could get snow and 30 degrees which is what we had yesterday. Keep us in mind, Don and I will either have a great day or we'll be half-frozen. You never know!
We also have a house guest next weekend. 3rd sister is coming to Chicago for a training class, so she'll arrive Saturday afternoon. Steve is going to the airport to pick her up (it's rather convenient having him drive!) and I'm taking Monday off to hang out with her. We may go to this on Monday, and perhaps this show on Tuesday night. I've been wanting to go, but museums and shows aren't high on the list for my guys. I can't wait to see her!
I have an entire Flickr slideshow on the rest of vacation. You can follow this link, but you should get a glass of wine first. There are a lot of pictures . . .
Our best dive was a night dive. We saw two octopus, and I have a new appreciation for the word slither. They were really awesome. Some of the things you see on the reef really make you scratch your head over how exactly there could be a life form that weird, but the octopus is top on that list. They changed colors to match their surroundings, and were very aware of us watching. They are supposed to be very smart, and when we got back I found this video clip that made me glad the ones we saw were little. I didn't take my camera on the night dive, and really regretted it.
My least favorite dive was a wreck dive. I didn't think that I liked wrecks, and when we went inside this one I figured out that I really don't like like being inside them. I really, really, really don't like it. No more wreck dives for me!
Remember all the cranes? I know I told you that I finished my goal of folding 1,000, and then I started trying to figure out what to do with them. Then I found this site, with the address of where to send the cranes, so I've been stringing them in strings of 100. Of course, I want them to look color coordinated, so here is the green string.
And now, last but not least, knitting. This is a sweater for a little girl that was born about a month ago, and she already has it. I'm also working on - let's see:
Fish sweater for a little boy, baby due early May, finished except for assembly
Aran sweater for a little boy, he arrived yesterday, finished front back and one sleeve
And I need two more sweaters, one for my assistant who's due any day now with a girl. I started one for her, and it just wasn't working out so I have to go back to the drawing board. Also, another one for a lady who works next to me, who had a little girl last week.
And I have two more in the works, but a few more months for those since I just found out they are expecting. That ought to keep me out of trouble!
Looks like we'll be headed your way to look at a school for Steve. Here's the link to the school - they like Steve, and he likes them, but I'm waiting for a conditional acceptance before we spring for a trip. I do want to get him out there while they are still in session, so that means April or May. So hopefully we'll see you soon!
Let me know what else is going on for you - glad you're seeing somewhat of a thaw, I know you are really ready for summer. Me too!
Laurie and Alex arrived to visit last Friday night, just in time for the weather to get cold again, and for a nice bit of snow on Saturday. Need I say that Alex loved the snow? He made snow angels. He climbed snow mountains. And he met Zena, my favorite neighborhood dog.
While Laurie was here, aside from the obligatory playing-in-the-snow, we shopped (of course); we ate out (favorite meal: rouladen at Westfalen Hof); we shopped for, bought, and put up multiple birdfeeders for my numerous feathery visitors and picked up furniture for the porch (more on birdfeeders and related subjects in a later post); we tended the sick (both Alex and Steve were sick for a couple of days, which savagely cut into our time to go to museums and do other fun stuff); we had a lovely afternoon tea at the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House; and most importantly, we had a nice little snow that dropped 7" on us and 10" of fresh powder on Eldora, the resort just up the road, so we zipped up there on Friday morning for lessons. Yup, Laurie took snowboarding, and Alex took skiing lessons. Me? Yeah, right. I took pictures. (I do plan to take cross-country ski lessons next winter, though).
Alex had a great instructor named Ali, who was endlessly patient with her four pupils. By the end of the lesson all four boys were skiing down their little hill and could stop and turn at will, and most importantly all four were loving it.
Laurie's snowboarding lessons were on a different hill so I didn't get pictures of those, but she had enough fun that she swears she's going to do it again when she comes back next winter. I can't wait.
Computer Problems Stink -- Fortunately, Dell Rocks. (posted by Lani)
First of all, let me apologize for being among the missing for so long here. Among other things my poor long-suffering laptop died a dreadful death. I worked on it; Steve worked on it; sadly, there were obviously major major problems and we resigned ourselves to having to replace it. We sat down and built a new desktop and placed the order, and I resigned myself to being pretty much offline for the several weeks it would take for that system to arrive.
Then, in a fit of despair, I called Dell. I was rather hopeless, expecting them to say the polite equivalent of "Too bad, so sad, nothing we can do for you" ... and let me tell you, I was very, very pleasantly surprised. Not only was I still under warranty, but their support personnel, although yes they were offshore and at times there was a bit of a language barrier, were wonderful. Our internet is still dreadfully slow and that had to be frustrating to them as they tried to have me download this diagnostic tool and that driver and attempted to run their remote software, but they were patient and seemed genuinely interested in fixing my problems.
Sadly, Steve and I had been right -- those problems were not to be fixed so easily. But you know what? Dell ordered me a new hard drive, a new video card, and a new LCD screen, and then dispatched a technician TO MY HOUSE to install same. The parts came in, the technician called me to tell me they were in, came to my house the same day (without even complaining about us living miles from civilization!), and rebuilt my computer in less than two hours. Kudos to Dell, seriously, for the kind of customer service you can usually only dream about.
In non-computer news, we almost had spring here for a few days. It warmed up to over 40 ... the snow started to melt and Pippin was in heaven, exploring parts of the yard she'd never seen before. Sadly our little heat wave only lasted a few days before the snow was back, but we enjoyed it.