Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas in Florida

Okay - now that the jig is up, I can talk about our Christmas vacation.

Over the weekend before Christmas, I finally blocked the shawl for Joe's mom. It turned out rather groovy.

Early Christmas morning we took an early flight down to Florida to see Joe's family. We were there by mid-afternoon, just in time for present-opening and dinner-eating. We had a blast, but it was so dang hot!

Joe with his family.

We tacked on a little road trip to Gainesville in order to visit the best yarn store ever. Many thanks go to Sharon, who helped us surprise the heck out of Lorena when we walked in the door to the shop.

This really is the best store ever. I wish we were closer so we could just drop by and knit like so many lucky Gainesvillians do.

Lorena posted an excellent recap here, and we have more shop pictures and family photos here.

And what did I get from Hanks, you ask...?

Lots of yummy sock yarn! Some Rocket Yarn, some Mind's Eye, and I couldn't resist the Cherry Tree Hill and Lorna's Laces.

Because we had surprised Lorena (who had just been to the post office mere hours before), the day after we returned, we were treated to this lovely package in the mail!!!

Her world-renowned Chex mix, some margarita mix, three of her beautiful (and useful!) soaps, and a lovely skein of her Holiday 2007 sock yarn. Could this week get any better?

Here's what we did on Saturday - Joe had finished up the floors, so now it's time to get the bathroom finished! We hauled this beast up the stairs (wood is heavy) and started putting stuff in it.

Today we brought up the sink vanity. The counter top is way too heavy for just the two of us, so we'll wait until the plumbers get here for the hookups. I honestly don't know what we'll do with all this storage space - we haven't stored anything (except maybe tools) in our bathroom in almost a year.

What a week of perfection. Now just two more business days of being off before we head back to the holiday-and-vacation desert that is The Beginning Of The Year. May you all have a lovely New Year's Eve - stay away from crazy people, and be careful on the roads!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Underpants Gnomes

Today was many things...

Shopping (which we normally loathe on 12/26), and shopping at Walmart (which we normally loathe, period), but it wasn't half bad. The day was filled with what I like to call karmic okayness. We tackled a lot of tasks that weren't half as bad as they were years ago, and we actually felt good about it. Family sometimes brings out the worst, but this year it's brought about a kind of enlightenment that has been rather pleasant.

And so tonight, we relax...with underpants gnomes. And booze.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Random Quotes...

- Nothing says Christmas like a lunch at Hardee's. Teeth optional.

- How many u-turns can Joe make in one square mile?

- We have a view of a Trailer Park!!!

- Walgreen's, why hast thou forsaken me?!?!?!?!?

- I am locking my door very quickly. Don't make eye contact with the crazy truck guy.

- Oh, please dear god, don't let those kids sit behind us.

- Uh, Beth...? The elevator is right in front of you.

- Is everything going to be okay? Yes. Is everything going to be okay? Yes. Is everything going to be okay? Yes.

- They have happy hour. With alcohol. Quick, take a bottle! Run! Run!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

At Long Last, the H-Ahhhhh-lidays...

Did you hear that?

That's the sound of my blood pressure dropping. The sound of knitting needles hard at work. The sound of cozy socks on a hardwood floor. The sound of a happy kitty sleeping on a lap. The sound of fresh-baked bread with just a smidge of butter for breakfast.

Ah, yes. The holidays are here, and I will savor every last morsel. Time to reboot the soul.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tagged Again!

I got tagged by Miss Lynda (yes, I need to change your link on the sidebar), so here goes...

  1. What was the best Christmas present you got as a kid? In high school I got some really kickass black cowboy boots.
  2. What was the best Christmas present you got as an adult? I have to go with this year's present - a new furnace and heating system that rocks.
  3. What’s your favorite Christmas carol? John Denver and Rowlf singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is my all-time favorite. I heart the Muppets and John Denver.
  4. How long can you stand to listen to Christmas music before you break? A remarkably long time. I have over 350 Christmas songs on my ipod and get new CDs each year. I'm a Christmas music whore. Everything from South Park's Merry F*&%in' Christmas to Bing Crosby's White Christmas, Lena Horne's What Are You Doing New Year's Eve to Pete Yorn's Do They Know It's Christmas - I love Christmas music, and I'm not too proud to admit it.
  5. How many Christmas albums do you own? About 20
  6. Did you ever go caroling as a kid? No - we lived in the boonies. We didn't even trick or treat.
  7. Would you willingly eat fruitcake? It's actually not bad toasted with butter, but I haven't had it in years.
  8. Do you own any Christmas sweaters? Nope.
  9. Do you own any Christmas jewelry? What? I used to have a Santa pin, but I'm a slob and can't find it anymore.
  10. Did your family have any Christmas traditions? Like what? Christmas Eve we'd have eggnog and read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and the Bible Christmas passage (Luke something-or-nother) with our parents in front of the fireplace. Very Norman Rockwellish, and I loved it (except the whole Bible part about being great with child - that always gave me the heeby-jeebies). On Christmas morning, we were allowed to open our stockings, but the tree and presents were shut off in another room. We had to wait for our tired parents to get up, finish our breakfast, and march into the living room youngest-to-oldest to see what Santa brought. And Santa never wrapped (with four kids, would you?), so we each had a section under the tree that was all ours. That was awesome.
  11. Do you buy Christmas presents for your pets? I made stockings for the cats, but we never put anything in them.
  12. What’s your favorite Christmas cookie? Yes.
  13. What’s your favorite Christmas candy? I do enjoy those peppermints that dissolve really quickly...not like candy canes, but kind of powdery...?
  14. What’s your stocking look like? My mom knitted this when I was a wee one. All the kids have them. It hold lots of stuff, and it has jingle bells near the top. Santa's beard used to have a kind of silky fluff to it, but that's faded over the years. I love this stocking.

  15. How do you feel about the “Steal from Your Neighbor” Christmas present game (the one where people pick gifts from a pile, but others get to steal it)? I'm not fond of any reindeer games.
  16. What is the oldest ornament on your tree? I have some from my grandmother - small porcelain elves and old-fashioned lights that are shaped as fruit. I don't really put them on the tree anymore, since I have cats.
  17. Real or artificial? Artificial is not an option. Sometimes we don't have a tree, though, like this year - just depends on how much we put into decorating.
  18. How do you feel about Christmas letters? They're a great way to keep in touch. I'm not fond of the "I lost my job, our dog died, and grandma has an incurable disease. Merry Christmas!" kind.
  19. Do you have Christmas decorations or lights outside your house? What are they? Pretty much just white lights on the house, wreaths and bows. As seen here. And we won a prize!
  20. How far would you drive to see Christmas lights? It's not a priority.
  21. Are you a fan of tasteful or tacky? I think they both balance out the universe.

23. Annie added this one: Do you have any Christmas collections? Certain ornaments...our favorite potter comes out with a new one each year, and my mom has given us one as a present every year since we got married. Also, a local business commissions a new ornament around an historic Montgomery building each year - so now, no matter where we end up, we can take our beloved village with us.

24. Do you travel to celebrate Christmas? Sometimes, since our family is all far away. But I prefer staying home.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Keepin' in Touch

Well, I'm winding down after a rough Monday and thought I'd babble a bit.

Thursday night, after The Storm, Joe and I found a surprise on the porch from my brother and sister-in-law: a gift pack from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco. So after being exhausted from white-knuckled driving and shoveling, we settled down with some brews and some yummy sandwiches on hot bread. Awesome. Thanks, Becky & Brantley!

Friday was an uneventful drive into work - our DPWs are pretty good about clearing the snow after it stops. I had a half day in the office, since Joe's company Christmas party was in CT that night. Last year...well, let's just say there were stories about me at the after-party trying to pet Joe's boss's bird that kept biting me. I still have scars. This year I promised myself not to be "that person."

It was once again at The Mill on the River, and we had a lovely time. When asked to go back to Joe's boss's house, we opted not to. He has a newborn, and he's also very liberal with the drinks. I didn't fancy a night on his floor. A bunch of folks from other offices were staying in the same hotel, so we decided to have a house party ourselves. After about four hours of drinking games that ended with another spouse taking off his pants, we decided it was time to go to our room and sleep it off.

Travel back was uneventful, although Joe wasn't feeling too great. At least he kept his pants on, though. We stocked up on snow food (pizza rolls, taquitos, beer) and prepared to weather another storm. Sunday was crappy, crappy weather. Snow turned to sleet turned to rain turned to snow. The vehicles were completely under a couple of inches of snow, topped off with another inch of ice. Joe put his snowblower to good use, and I finished some WIPs.

Joe, playing with his new toy. It would be fun if he weren't being pelted by painful specks of frozen rain.

An FO, being put in the mail to a deserving family member who doesn't read this blog. Much.

Another FO, blocking. Remind me never to knit lace-ish stuff again unless I have wires or something. Those pins suck.

So tonight I finished with a 2-hour meeting of the Master Plan Committee - we're rounding third and heading for home with a nice Comprehensive Plan for our Village. This place means a lot to me, and I intend to do what I can to take care of it. I grew up in the country, and I loved it. I went to school in a major metropolitan area, and I loved it. We now live in a small, urban area a thousand miles away from anything I've ever known. And it's exactly where I belong.

Oh - and we won First Place in the house decorating contest (for "Traditional"). We've had the same decorations on our house (more or less) for the last six Christmases. We've gotta go to the Village Board tomorrow night to claim our prize. We might be in the paper and everything. ;)

Sleep well!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Twelve Miles: Home Safe

Yeah, yeah...I know...I'm a total wuss. But the first big snow of the season always has me a little white-knuckled - mainly because so many stupid people forget how to drive in the stuff. Me and my kickass truck - we do just fine. Took about an hour, including scraping and brushing six inches of snow off the vehicle in the work parking lot. Yes, I'm that wacko in the four-wheel-drive who does about 25mph. Pass me if that bugs you. I'll wave to you in the ditch.

On to more pleasant topics, look at the pretty snow...

Don't get me wrong. I love snow. LOVE IT. I don't even mind shoveling it. What I *DO* mind is having to go to work in it. In my opinion, everyone should have a snow day every once in a while.

What's even funnier is that I'm usually the ONLY one in my department who makes it to work on time when it's snowing...and I'm from Georgia! Others come in hours later, due to "harsh road conditions."

If ever I wanted to play my "but I'm just a sweet, helpless Southern gal" card, this would be it. But I don't. Because I kick ass. Me and my truck.

Twelve Miles

That's my one-way commute to work. Just twelve miles. Thanks to the new airport interchange, it's now no longer curvy and narrow.

But twelve miles is still a long way in this crap.

The schools are closed, and the snow just started. I'm in for a lovely day and a wonderful drive home.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Oh. Mah. Gahd.

Indoor heat is the best thing evah.

I'm sure Joe will take you through the technical aspects, but here are the general highlights...

Our house now looks like a cruise ship. I'm half-expecting it to start moving down the block, a la the Crimson Permanent Assurance skit.

This is the steam being released from the boiler thingy. Technical term.

And here is our new boiler setup in the basement. Boiler on the left, water tank on the right, and air handler suspended in the rafters. Way cool.

If you'd ever been down in our basement before (icky, spidery, dirty, dark - one must assume a dead body is buried down there), you'd know that this was a vast improvement.

Our attic now looks like it's been invaded by the Planet Aluminum Foil.

Those are our new ducts. They used to be on the floor (trip hazards, the whole lot of them) and uninsulated (brrrrrrr).

Of course, there were some tiny concessions to be made for staying warm. We have some slight cosmetic work to do in the almost-done-new-bathroom. I can totally work with that, though.

That duct snaking above the master toilet now supplies the guest bathroom with warm air. Before, it had come from the basement, close to an exterior wall, then barely leaked out a lukewarm breeze by the time it made it to that bathroom. Makes for a cold toilet seat.

So, yes. We're loving life. All weekend long we've been startled by warm air coming out of vents all over the house. The cats are happy that we finally stopped torturing them with the cold air, and we're happy to be able to sit at the computer for more than ten minutes without our fingers turning blue.

And yes, Joe and I are nothing if not classy with a capital K. We toasted our first warm night with champagne. In beer glasses.

We had a lovely weekend of attending the grand opening of our new senior center, doing a bunch of local shopping, and watching Superbad. That movie seriously had me snarfing my beer out of my nose. I heart Seth Rogen.

I'm getting tired, my buzz is wearing off, and I have to get up early in the morning. And so now I leave you with happy snow pictures. Cuz now we're warm! :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

This is the Last...Freezing Evening...That We'll Have to Spend...

...and yes, I'm sure I just jinxed the whole thing.

We're on Day Four of Extreme Makeover: Furnace Edition, and all is looking well. Air handler and ducts in basement? Check. Air handler and ducts in attic? Check. New vents in all 2nd floor rooms and back hallway? Check. New boiler, hot water heater, and humidifier being installed today? Check. And you think we spent a lot on the bathroom makeover...yeesh...

I came home to check on the guys as they're finishing up for the day, and all I know is there's a lot of sawing and hammering going on between the outside and the inside (basement area).

Wish us luck tomorrow as we "flip the switch!"

Monday, December 03, 2007

Milo, 1993-2007

This morning, after a long weekend spent staying warm in front of the stove with his buddy Coz, Sweet Milo succumbed to whatever disease he had been secretly battling and passed away in the vet’s office.

During his last few months, while not in perfect health, he enjoyed many affectionate visitors who loved having him warm their laps.

In a household of three other cats, Milo certainly didn’t get a lot of attention, but he was never one to complain. He was forever looking forward to his best buddy Bill returning to scratch his neck once again.

Milo (along with Otis) was adopted by Joe and Eric while in college. Please give them both an extra hug today.

You were a good boy, Milo.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

28 Degrees Outside...

45 degrees inside.

Furnace replacement starts Monday.

Can't freakin' wait.