Thursday, July 24, 2014

Just grab a friend and take a ride together upon the open road

Once I finished my Great and Final Purge of my old room, I had approximately seven boxes, one doll cradle, and one very large and heavy cedar chest. These things don't easily go on planes, which was the perfect excuse for Blake and I to take an epic road trip across the country. When we individually moved to DC, we both did it as quickly as we could. The quick way involves three days of driving stopping only for food, gas, and sleep and very little sightseeing. Since Brotherface accompanied me on my trip, he drove most of the time while I slept in the car. A lot. It was good quality time with my brother, but not the most interesting trip.

This time, Blake and I wanted to do it differently. Instead of three days, we took seven, giving us a lot more time to see and do more of the cool things there are in this beautiful country. We already love a good road trip and this is always going to be one of our favorites. We didn't even have time for a full week for our honeymoon (darn you, Christmas!), so this was divine.
Here we go!


Confession: The only time I drove was from the car rental office back to my parents' house. Blake drove the entire trip. I kept offering, but he really enjoys driving. And I like taking naps in cars. I also enjoy navigating, making sandwiches at 70 mph, and kicking my feet up on the dash.

It was during one of the aforementioned naps on our first day of driving that Blake woke me up and announced we were stopping. Driving a stretch of relatively unexciting Wyoming highway, Blake saw a sign for Martin's Cove, an important site in Mormon pioneer history. Sadly, hiking to the actual cove would have involved a 5 mile hike, which we didn't have time for, but we did tour the visitor's center. It's also where Devil's Gate is located, which any Oregon Trail player should recognize. And down the road about 15 minutes later? Independence Rock.

What a lot of Wyoming looks like

Devil's Gate

Reconstructed sites near Martin's Cove

Reconstructed sites near Martin's Cove


Independence Rock

Rock Paper Scissors in Gillette, WY

No idea what this is, but it's cool


Not a bad way to kick off our trip! More to come soon!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere

Officially, I moved out of my parents' home in September 2005. After 21 years, it was time to spread my wings and venture out into the wide world.

Okay, so I moved six miles down the road. Some friends I knew from the local theatre community had an opening in their townhouse, so I took it. I brought a lot of my personal belongings, but I'm sure I left a few boxes behind in my old room. I was home frequently (at least once a week for ER on Thursday nights) and at least had access to all my things.

Less than a year later, I moved across the country. I loaded up my 1999 VW Passat with as much as it would hold, had my mom mail my books, and moved into a tiny shoebox of a room in a townhouse in Virginia. I adopted the furniture left behind by the previous occupant and figured I'd get the rest of my stuff someday.

Eight years after that, I've expanded my belongings into that first townhome, a tiny efficiency of my own, and now a two bedroom walkup I share with my awesome husband. I've now been the proud owner of six hand-me-down couches in nine years. A milestone of my adult life will be buying my very own brand new couch that no one else has ever owned.

That day is not yet, but at least I finally have all of my stuff under one roof again. Since I finally have a little stability in my future, some space in my apartment (no more hallways turned into closets!), and a summer vacation, it was time to go back home and get the rest of my things. Blake's sister got married at the end of June, so we flew out to Utah, celebrated the nuptials, and while he went to Arizona to celebrate there, I spent a couple days going through all the boxes I'd stashed and closet shelves I'd never gone through and decided what was worth keeping after 9 years of not having it.

That was an adventure. Memory Lane is an emotional place to visit.

My trash/recycling and donation piles were much larger than my keep piles, thank goodness, but a lot of amusing things didn't make the cut.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Spray painted shoes from a 2004 production of Seussical

Glasses from Seussical and an umbrella hat

No comment

You were never this cool

Boot cast from my reconstructive surgeries

Maybe I should have kept these after all

My high school nickname was Bubbles, so Sisterpants made me a pillow out of a Halloween costume. Grandma took this for the great grandkids.

Yeah, I'm a little embarrassed by this too.

Inflatable chair!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How much is that doggy in the window?

This is Malcolm.


Malcolm is a 2 year old German Shepherd mix who was probably born in West Virginia and did who knows what and then transferred to a shelter in Virginia.


Until we took him home.


We actually met Mal two years to the day we met, on April 29, and one of the first things Blake and I ever bonded over was the TV series Firefly, so it's fitting we named him after Captain Malcolm Reynolds. (We also have a betta fish named Captain Jack after Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who/Torchwood. We may be sensing a theme.)


We've had him with us for a little over two months now and we've decided he's pretty awesome. He still has some behavioral issues to work on, but we'll figure it out and he's getting better all the time. We love that he's gotten both of us out for lots of walks and runs and other dog friendly outings. He's super great on the leash and we're working on his recall off of it. When we meet other dogs, he's almost always the most well-behaved.


We're all still getting to know each other, but it's going well and Blake and I are happy to have him. We hope he's happy to be here.


Things Mal Loves

His people


Eating

Chewing

Licking

Being outside in any weather

Kongs filled with anything (peanut butter, yogurt, cheese, etc.)

Papasan



Walks (with either of us)

Runs (with Blake)

Sticks


Things Mal Doesn't Love

Bedtime

Cratetime

Having things he shouldn't be eating forced from his mouth

Dogs ahead of us going the same direction as us, since we may not ever catch up and they'll never get to be best friends forever

Vacuum

Paper Shredder

Baths


And he has something to say about the golf carts our apartment complex's maintenance crew ride around in, but he can't tell what he's saying yet.

Welcome to the family, Malcolm!




Sunday, March 9, 2014

I've got no strings to hold me down

It's not like I planned to see a lot of puppets at two separate museums in two different cities on two consecutive Saturdays, but sometimes that's how life shakes out.

Last Saturday, I was wrapping up at the annual Music Library Association conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I was rooming with my former boss and longtime friend, Myrna, who is the mother of Nancy Heiss (and company), the same friends I knew in high school and visited in Egypt a few years ago. They live in Durham, NC, now while Andrew works on a PhD and decided it would be worth the drive to come pick up Myrna in Atlanta to visit them in North Carolina for a few days. I was fortunate to have a few hours to tag along and hang out with the whole crew while we hit a few touristy spots. Their account of our adventures can be found here.

I took puppetry in college, and am a huge fan of puppetry anyway, so I was thrilled that there was a puppet museum in Atlanta that the Heisses wanted to check out. We saw Kermit, Miss Piggy, Emmett Otter, some other Muppets, beautiful marionettes, gorgeous puppets from other countries, and even a Skeksis! Dark Crystal may be one creepy movie, but to see an actual Skeksis was pretty rad.

We finished off our day with a romp in the Centennial Olympic Park and dinner at Waffle House (hashbrowns covered in sausage gravy for less than five dollars? yes please!) before I was off to the airport.

This weekend, Blake started his spring break. He'll have to do some work over the week, but he decided to take off this whole weekend from homework and I decided to take him on a date. After we helped clean our church building, we headed into DC (the deal is that I drive in DC proper, he drives everywhere else) and did something I didn't even know was possible.

We found a parking spot right in front of the museum we were going to.

We checked all the nearby signs multiple times, thinking our luck was too good to be true, but nothing seemed amiss other than our good fortune, so we paid and were set for a few hours. Granted, the museum didn't open for another 45 minutes, but still! Parking! Right where we wanted it!

Because of the wait time, we reversed our plan and went to our second site first - the old Post Office Tower. It offers a panoramic view of the entire city for free, a sort of well kept DC secret. Neither one of us had done it before, so I'm glad we made it! It's not quite as good a view as the top of the Capitol dome, which we got to visit last summer, but it was still pretty great.

Our excellent timing and good fortune continued when we walked back to the American History Museum as they were opening the doors. We didn't even have to wait at the doors like the fifteen poor schmucks ahead of us, because they all got in by the time we got across the sidewalk.

The purpose of our visit was to see the temporary Puppetry in America exhibit, since we're both huge fans of the Muppets. We were not disappointed - Bert & Ernie, Oscar, Cookie Monster, Swedish Chef, Boober, and Red. They also had the California Raisins, the Howdy Doody puppets, the original Snap, Crackle, and Pop, and a few puppets from The Corpse Bride. We loved it!

It was a much smaller exhibit than we anticipated, basically just a window display in the main entrance hall, so we also stopped by the Star Bangled Banner (yes, THE actual one) and an exhibit on the American presidency (including several dresses of the First Ladies). Living nearby a free museum, it's quite nice to pick and choose an exhibit or two for an hour rather than try to pack the whole thing into one day.

For lunch, we took the metro over to Capitol Hill (totally got on the platform just before a train arrived, an excellent feat on a weekend with track work) and split a pizza at We, The Pizza, then wandered around Eastern Market and bought some vegetables. The rest of our day involved grocery shopping, a nap, a little house cleaning, more good food, reading, and a movie at home.

Weekends in DC with my best friend do not disappoint!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The pandas are coming! So hide under your beds!

video

I announced on this blog in November that I really like pandas. So when the Smithsonian National Zoo announced on their new Instagram page a contest for panda lovers to submit a 15 second video about why they should be chosen for the zoo's first ever Instameet and be one of 30 people to meet the new panda cub in a private gathering, of course I submitted a video. My entry is above.

The extent of panda collection surprised even me. I kept finding things to bring out or put on (even had to be reminded about some of it) and repeatedly thanked Blake for marrying the crazy panda lady. But I decided to let my panda freak flag fly.

Fly it did. Out of 585 entries, I was one of the chosen 30! Saturday morning, we met at the zoo nice and early, before the buildings opened to the public, and were treated to a private meeting of the adorable Bao Bao. We met some of the keepers and learned some interesting panda facts before getting to the see the star of the show. She wasn't as pleased to see us as we were to see her, so she kept escaping back into her den, but the few moments she did share with us were priceless. We saw a little bit of training with her keepers and a lot a bit of cuteness.  I will now share many pictures.

Tian Tian (dad)

Mei Xiang (mom)

Panda monitoring station

Ball o' panda



Training Bao Bao

Mei Xiang


Touching panda fur (handwarmers by AnneArchy)



I even made CBSnews.com's coverage of the event! And they didn't make me sound too much like a crazy person.
Sadly, because it was a private event, Blake didn't get to attend with me. Instead, he wandered around the mostly empty zoo, listened to the wolves howl, and made friends with the seals.
video
video

He introduced me to them once I was done.


It was a fantastic morning. Many thanks to the National Zoo for making it happen!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Once there was a snowman

The last time DC saw snow of much significance was February of 2010. Any snowfall since then has been less than two inches and while that has been enough to shut things down and cancel school here and there, it's only been for a day, not several.

Until this week.

We had a great three day weekend for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and were all set to go back to work and school on Tuesday when the forecast of 5-8 inches was enough to cancel school before we even went to bed on Monday. Blake's work wasn't closed until Tuesday morning, but it was followed by at least three inches of snow and neither one of us had to be anywhere again until late Wednesday afternoon when Blake's school finally reopened.

My own three day weekend has turned into a six day weekend because even though the accumulation hasn't been nearly as much as our last huge storm, it's even colder this time and road conditions is some of the more rural parts of the region are still treacherous. I did get out for a very bundled up walk with Blake this morning, which was quite nice, but otherwise I haven't left the apartment complex since Monday. Shortly after I post this, I'll finally need to put something other than pajamas on so that I can go to choir rehearsal. Tomorrow, Friday, may be my only day of work this week, though it's possible it will get canceled too, as some other local school districts have already done so. (I work for a private school, but we do what our county school district does for weather cancellations.)

As much as I like my job, all this extra time off has been very enjoyable. Blake was with me for most of it, which was a lot of fun. We decided it was terrible packing snow, but I did get to make a snow angel. There's been plenty of food, games, books, electricity, and supplies around and, since we recently got a Roku, plenty of tv and movies to stream directly to our television. There has also been no shortage of naps and warm snuggles. I've even managed to do few chores around here. It's also good that I'm getting paid this time.
View from our balcony

Frozen culvert

Hooray for snow days/weeks!