Category Archives: travel

Leaving on a…well, quite a few…jet planes

I know.

I’ve utterly dropped off the face of the earth.

I could give you explanations – I have them, and they are legion – but I don’t think you want them.

I just wanted to say, hello. And I am alive. And show you this:

And this:

This is the bag of someone who’s leaving for the airport in a little over two hours.

And the face of someone who didn’t sleep much last night. Trust me, the lady’s excited. More so than she can say. Bouncing-off-the-walls so. That’s the face that, in less than 24 hours, Andreas will be seeing in Stockholm when I get off the plane before we make our grand trip to the land of the Finns.

I have every intention of blogging while I’m there – thank you, wifi and international data plan! – but can make you no promises. Might be too busy hugging Andreas and his family until they’re all “GET OFF ME YOU CRAZY MERKAN!”

Dad’s pretty sure I’ll come back a commie, and so I’ve taken to answering all his questions with “DA, KOMRADE!” and he does NOT like that at ALL, and I told him I promised that, every new person I meet, I’d ask to see their arms, to see if they had two, and then ask if they were a truck driver, and as long as they passed those tests, we’d know they weren’t one-armed truck drivers like he thinks everyone on the internet is, and he was SO UPSET by this and he said “do not. DO NOT DO THAT. Then they’ll know you’re onto them and they’ll throw you in the gulag! There are no cell phones or showers in the gulag!”

Dad apparently thinks I am going to Russia in the height of the Cold War, which is equal parts worrisome and amusing.

There will be many adventures, and many surprises, and I hope to have a minute to share them on here (I do have a nine-hour layover on the way home – don’t ask – so that might give me a little blogging time…) because I think you might like to see some of the most fabulous bloggers in all the land in the same place and time. I plan on taking a lot of photos. A LOT. My camera might explode.

16 days in Europe. Here we go, you guys. It’s only been in the planning stages for the last 14 months…and surprisingly, I can’t believe it’s already here.

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Adventures in Vermont, with extra goaty goodness!

Howdy, bloggonians! A while back, I geeked out over the news that randomly, I had been contacted by people in Vermont who wanted me to come stay overnight and write about my experience. Well! Two weekends ago was the weekend! Only I’ve been busy with this and that and have not been able to blog about it until now.

Things that have gotten in the way of me blogging about this over the past week:

  • I got a new job! Which I love, and I think is a very good fit (I know! How did I find a job in three weeks? I have no idea. I don’t want to question it too much, or it might disappear.) I get to be creative, I really like the people I’m working with, and there’s a lot of room for growth and advancement. And, in the best news, when I was offered the job, I explained I’d need to be off for two weeks at the end of May/beginning of June, for European jaunting, and they were cool with it! So, Europe, I am still coming to see you soon!
  • I injured myself quite injuriously! It is very dark outside of my laundry room, and I was in a hurry to do my laundry, and BAM! I totally fell in a pothole. I spent quite a bit of Friday in the doctor’s office and then later getting a billion x-rays to see if I’d broken anything. I didn’t, but I’ve quite seriously sprained and bruised my foot and ankle. It makes walking a little dodgy and unattractive. I’m supposed to keep off it, but since there’s work and all, that’s not possible, so I’m probably not going to heal as quickly as I could. Also, OUCH. (I am, equally attractively, covered in cuts and bruises, so I look like I’ve fallen off a motorcycle.)
  • I had a piece of writing published elsewhere! And I promised I’d tell you when that happened, so here you go: Bully For You. I’m quite proud of it, and it seems to have been fairly widely read and appreciated, so I’m glad for that. I’m still waiting to hear from some other submissions, so fingers crossed for more publications this year!

But! We are not here to hear about all of that. We are here to hear about Vermont adventures!

So Mom came with me on Vermont adventures. She was excited about a weekend away and she loves outdoorsy things. So Mom arrived on a Friday, and Saturday morning, we were off for Vermont!

It was a couple of hours to get there. We went through many small towns with many odd businesses (and also some very wonderful old buildings and churches. I do very much love old architecture.)

Finally, we arrived at the Amee Farm Lodge in Vermont!

Pretty, right? And oh-so-appropriately named for this most intrepid blogger!

(OK, it probably should have been AMY farm, but close enough.)

Amee Farm is kind of the most gorgeous. It’s quiet, and it’s CRAZY-scenic. Seriously, this is the view from their parking lot, looking across the road:

The prettiest of mountains! And it smelled fresh and clean and it was very beautiful.

So this was a blogger’s weekend; there were all sorts of bloggers there. I am not good in social situations. I was very quiet. Mom talked to all the people. Mom is very friendly. At one point, I asked her if she saw a van with no windows with “free candy” painted on the side, she would go up to it to get the free candy, and she very seriously replied, “No, but only because I don’t like candy.” Can you even imagine? Mom doesn’t think everyone’s a killer at first, then make them prove to her they’re not over a number of months. This seems like a suspicious way to live to me.

We met Tom and Erlin from Perfect Vermont, who organized the weekend, and then Jessica, the innkeeper at Amee Farm, who showed us to our rooms. Mom and I had the best little rooms next to each other and a little bathroom in the hallway and everything looked all old-fashioned and woodsy and the mattress was SO HARD. I am such a fan of a hard mattress. Sincerely. I can’t even tell you. I sat on it and said, “I will sleep like a dead vampire here!” and Mom sighed and called me morbid.

My pretty room! Look at that bed. I wish I still had that bed. I’m crazy in love with it.

I also have this strange obsession with wood floors and this place was ALL wood floors. And a billion stairs. I kept forgetting things in my room and then telling Mom, “Oh, well that’s dead to me now. I’m not going back up to get THAT” and she laughed and laughed.

There were events planned for us, but first, Mom had to go to church, so we missed one of the events. (I was down with this. The event involved a lot of hiking. No thank you, says Amy!)

So Mom and I, despite getting a map drawn for us, totally got lost and almost missed church, but (she says because of God, but I say because I actually read the sign correctly) we got there with three minutes to spare. I sat in the car. I don’t go into churches; I feel I would burst into flames. Also, I don’t like hypocrisy, which is what I believe me entering a church would be.

This is Mom’s church. Doesn’t this town look like something from The Twilight Zone where everyone seems TOO NORMAL and then are really cannibals? It wasn’t, but I kept telling Mom it probably was.

This is a terrible photo of a very old Mountain Dew can I found outside the church in the woods. I took this as proof for Mom we’d entered a time warp, but she was not convinced.

When we got back, there was a little downtime for me to lounge on the MOST COMFORTABLE BED EVER ZOMG, then it was time for a VERY FANCY DINNER. When you combine Amy and a very fancy dinner (like, with multiple forks you’re supposed to use in a certain order) you get danger.

You can click to make this bigger, if you are so inclined. There was deliciousness all around. Things I loved:

  • raw asparagus. Who knew this could be delicious? Not me! I should have known, though, because I love regular asparagus more than anything ever. YUM.
  • Polenta is the best thing ever. I could have eaten just the polenta for the main course without the pork or the fennel and been a happy woman. (Not that they weren’t good, but still. ZOMG THAT POLENTA.)
  • I had never had pavlova before, and I can’t even tell you how amazing that was. It was like a big meringue/marshmallow thing, and had fruit and fresh cream on top, and I could have eaten fourteen of these things. (Well, only after I picked off all the blueberries and gave them to Mom. I am not a fan of blueberries. When The Nephew was little, he used to call them “boobies” and that’s the only good thing about blueberries, in my opinion. “I want boobies!” he would say. Hee!)

I only spilled a LITTLE food on my top, but it was a patterned top. So no one was the wiser. Whew!

Then it was time for bed because all that traveling was EXHAUSTING. Also all that fresh air. I am a city mouse. I’m not used to all that fresh air.

This sign is what you see when you go upstairs and it made me have all the giggles.

No. No, I didn’t see the rooster. Unless they mean the one on the sign. I did see THAT rooster.

I watched a terrible horror movie on my laptop and then took a shower, only apparently I did it wrong and Mom was all “that wasn’t right” the next day. See, here’s the deal:

This isn’t a great photo, but it was a bathtub and the shower curtain didn’t go all the way around. So did you have the gap in the front, where the shower head was, or the end, where the water would hit, you know? I was perplexed for a long time. Other people’s showers are always so confusing. New valves and levers and curtains and such to learn.

I put the gap where the showerhead was, but Mom was all, “NO NO! You were supposed to put it at the END!” but then she decided it was ok because the bathroom floor wasn’t soaked. Ha ha! Little did she know, it WAS all soaked the night I took the shower, but by the time she took one in the morning, it had EVAPORATED!

A sad thing is that I could NOT sleep in the very comfortable bed because it was not my bed and I was not used to it, and I am like the princess and the pea and didn’t have my fan, and I was a little too hot but afraid to open the window because there was no screen and what if moths got in? MOTHS. So I tossed and turned and then finally fell asleep right before it was time to wake up. As one does.

(Mom had a fan in her room, but that’s a whole story for later. You’ll like it. Wait and see.)

Then it was time for breakfast, and we were going to go to yoga until we realized the two of us brought NO appropriate yoga clothing, so instead I made Mom take photos of my favorite thing, which was HER CLOSET.

So the night before, I was going to grab Mom’s fan out of her closet, until we realized it would be very loud and it was late, because the closet door was very small, and the fan was very large.

Mom said, “how did they get that in there?” and I said, “THEY BUILT THE FARM AROUND THE FAAAAAN” and then we had the giggles.

So then of course I had to get IN the very narrow closet and pop out like a creeper.

Who’s this?

IS THERE SOMEONE IN THE CLOSET?

IT IS ME! (Mom was all, “oh, don’t put these on your blog, you are so crazy, you aren’t going to make fun of our nice Vermont stay, are you?” and I assured her I was not. I actually really loved the wee narrow but deep closet. If I had this wee closet I would hide in it all of the time. It was the best of closets.)

Mom and I also went to visit the country store in town and it had all the best things like syrup and sweaters and beer and stuffed moose. I was delighted.

Next was the thing I was looking forward to the most. What could that be, you are wondering?

GOATS!

Next door is Sweet Georgia P’s, which is the best of organic farms. There is honey and syrup and chickens and all the veggies and ALL THE MOST WONDERFUL GOATS!

These goats are not for eating. They are for milking and having babies and for the making of cheese. And also for being amazing and friendly. They were really the best sort of goats.

We got to go on a farm tour and at the end of it, there was goat-hanging-out time, which I’d been looking forward to all weekend.

At first I was sad, because no goats wanted to hang out with me. Don’t they know I’m the Goat Whisperer? I mean, I’ve already been the Helper Mule Whisperer and at one point I was the Duck Whisperer because I fed this huge flock of ducks some crackers and then they followed me around like a goddess and quack quack quacked at me and were the best. I can’t imagine I’m not the Goat Whisperer. But this goat didn’t want to hang out with me. None of them did. SO SAD.

But THEN! The goats realized I was the best at Goat Whispering and came to see me!

This goat was the first goat who wanted all the petting. Then another goat came and headbutted me on the OTHER side for MORE petting! I was surrounded by goats!

This was the other goat. She decided the buttons on Mom’s coat were delicious and tried to eat them. Mom was all, “no no, goat!” (This is the only photo of Mom from the weekend. She did not want to be bloggity. That’s ok. I don’t mind.)

The goat in the middle was eating the girl in the middle’s hair. She decided he thought it was straw. That made me giggle.

Then it was time for us to go home! We were tired and had a very grand adventure.

The GPS took us a completely different way home, and although it took the same amount of time, we were fairly sure it was trying to kill us. It took us through smaller and smaller towns that we’d never heard of and we were all “GPS WHAT IS HAPPENING” but eventually we came through the back way of Troy and were very confused as to why the GPS thought that was a good idea but were glad to be home.

Thank you, Amee Farm Lodge and Perfect Vermont and Sweet Georgia P’s, for a great weekend adventure! I can most heartily recommend if you are ever out their way, you stop by and visit. It is beautiful and quiet and smells nice and THERE ARE GOATS! You can sleep in very nice beds and go biking and hiking and visit the country store and take a break from all the things.

Time for some rest for me! Off to my bed limpingly I go! Thanks for coming along with me on our Vermont adventure!

 

 


The wages of bloggery = ADVENTURE!

Howdy, blogosphere. Are we good? Good, good. Is it spring yet? No? Dammit.

I have a story! No, seriously, I totally do.

So sometimes, as a VERY IMPORTANT BLOGGER* (*not at all important) I get emails offering me things from companies who want me to blog about them. I’ve been offered sunglasses (which are useless to me, as I wear glasses); bumper stickers (I don’t care for bumper stickers, I feel they’re the lazy man’s way of shouting while driving); sex toys (I don’t even); and business cards (for a while there, people were giving business cards away to bloggers, and I just didn’t – and still don’t – understand who I would give those to, unless I went to a blogging convention of some sort.)

Problem is, other than the fact I didn’t really WANT any of these things (well, let’s be honest, I was curious about the sex toys, if only to make fun of them on the blog) is that in order to GET them, you had to SHILL them. You had to put an ad for them up on the sidebar of your blog, and you weren’t reviewing them, but advertising them. Totally against the terms of service of WordPress. We’re not here to be advertisers. (Try to tell that to all the spammy blogs out there that never get shut down, somehow…but technically, that’s a big old no-no.)

Now, we ARE allowed to accept things to fairly and honestly review them. Books, for example. You know how book bloggers write “I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review?” That’s totally allowed. Still not allowed to put an ad on your blog for them (at least, I don’t think you are…or maybe that’s just if you’re running WordAds, which I am, because I sure do like making pennies a month with those suckers…PENNIES a MONTH, baby!) but you’re totally not violating any rules by honestly reviewing something that was gifted to you.

Thing is, I’ve never been offered anything but books, so it was kind of a moot point, really.

UNTIL A FEW WEEKS AGO!

I got what I thought was possibly a spam email (I get a lot of those on here) offering me what seemed to be something TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. So I asked a billion questions, because I don’t like to be fooled. And come to find out…IT WAS A REAL THING!

Guess what I get to do in April?

GO ON A TRIP OUT OF STATE AND STAY IN THE MOUNTAINS FOR FREEEEEEE!

Probably won’t be staying here, but let me pretend I will be for a couple of months, ok?

Nope, totally not even spammy, you guys, I’m like a big deal or something!

OK, so the email offered me a stay in Vermont in a farmhouse so they could get more exposure for this new outdoorsy program they were running there (hiking, cross-country skiing, yoga, snowshoeing, etc.)

I immediately thought, “Oh, this is like the time Dad got roped into going to a timeshare presentation when I was a kid and we went to Florida, and we had to sit in this room and listen to this man talk at us for like four hours, and we were SO BORED, and Dad was SO ANGRY that he was tricked like that.”

So I asked this nice lady a billion questions, like, “Do I have to snowshoe, or can I just stay in the room, maybe?” and “Is this like the time I had to sit through a timeshare pitch? That would make me so mad” and “Wait, HOW in the mountains are you. You have, like, TVs and wifi and bathrooms that are indoors, right?” and “You do know I’m not, like, a SERIOUS blogger, right?” and “Is this a scam? Come on. You can tell me.”

Luckily, she did not think I was crazy, and she wrote back to me answering all my questions in a “you’re not at all crazy, blogger lady” manner, with links to the site, and where I would be staying, and an actual itinerary and dates I could stay and everything. And…even BETTER…I could bring a GUEST! Now, who do I know that loves outdoorsy things, doesn’t care if I act like a loon, and likes to have adventures?

You know I'M not going to do this. I had to find SOMEONE who might.

You know I’M not going to do this. I had to find SOMEONE who might.

You think no one, don’t you? Who do I know that likes the outdoors? And you’d be all, “NO ONE,” and you’d be CLOSE to right, but you’re overlooking ONE PERSON and that person is MOM!

Mom was VERY EXCITED when I invited her on a Vermont adventure and she only asked if we were going to be killed or asked to listen to a timeshare presentation about ten times. (Listen, we’ve all been quite scarred by this timeshare presentation situation. It was a very monumental point in our communal past as a family.) I told her she would have to do all the outdoorsy things (because the woman who emailed me was all, “um, we’d LIKE if you at least TRIED some outdoorsy things?”) and I could do the other things like eating and sleeping and maybe yoga and then Mom was all “I want to yoga!” so that’ll be a fun thing. Also there’s a masseuse, but Mom and I hate being touched, so we’re undecided about the masseuse. “Do you think I can leave all my clothes on for the masseuse, and ask him or her to please not touch my feet?” I asked Mom. “They’re going to kick us out of this place,” she laughed.

And and AND, guess what ELSE there is?

A FARM TOUR!

YOU CAN TOUCH GOATS!

Goats!!!!1!

Goats!!!!1!

Oh, you know I’m all over this goat thing. Goats are the best. Mom thinks they look like demons and make all the poop but I told her she had to be nice to the goats because goats are my buddies and she said FINE but she wasn’t going to TOUCH the goats and I was like “good, you can take pictures of me touching goats and also BEING a goat and making GOAT HORNS with my FINGERS” and she said she would.

I also told her we should put her photo on the blog and she was like NO NO NO but in a kind of curious way so I think we could work on her about this. “They don’t want to see ME!” she said and I was like, “Oh, sure they would” and it’s not like Dad and his “THAT’S HOW THEY GET YOU!” thing about having his photo on the interwebs so I think maybe we might be seeing Amy’s Mom! Won’t that be fun? Sure it will! (Amy’s Mom looks like Amy only thin. I’m completely serious about this. Genetics can be cruel.)

Dad was all, “WHY WOULD YOU BRING YOUR MOTHER” and I think he was jealous I didn’t ask him and I was like, “Old man, you hate hotels, and also outdoorsy forced cheer, and you would never do yoga and you would be all complainy. Mom and I are going to have an ADVENTURE” and he was like “GRUMP GRUMP GRUMBLE GRUMP.” Aw, Dad. Feelin’ all left out.

So! Yes! Mom and I are having an adventure in the spring, and we are MUCH EXCITED! So stay tuned, my little tater tots. Will I get eaten by a yeti? Will I get to pet all the goats, or just a few of them? Will I really hike, or just nap in the room? SO MANY QUESTIONS! SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!

You know I'll have an adventure here. Or maybe get up to shenanigans. Or both.

You know I’ll have an adventure here. Or maybe get up to shenanigans. Or both.


I’ll show YOU, Boreas!

Howdy! I hope you all had the best of Thanksgiving weekends. Well, those of you that do such things. Meaning, I suppose, MERKANS. The rest of you didn’t do Thanksgiving this weekend, right? Right.

Here we are back in the real world. Well, mostly that means a month of buying anything that isn’t tied down in order to wrap it in pretty paper and gift it to others. As one does in December. I am…oh, I don’t know, about 40% done with Christmas shopping? Maybe? I should be further along but sometimes you have to wait for paychecks to come in. However! Christmas cards are done, and as soon as I’m done writing this, Christmas DECORATING will be done. Baby steps, ladies and gentlemen, baby steps.

Let’s talk about bad decision-making!

Sometimes, you make poor decisions. No, not YOU, specifically, but yes, probably you. I mean, I don’t know too many people who haven’t made a poor decision now and then in their lives.

Me? I make those decisions on the regular. Hilariously, the good decisions I make are usually mistakes. The bad decisions are the ones I agonize over and finally decide “let’s do this” and then BAM! BAD DECISION HITS YOU UPSIDE THE HEAD YO!

I also have the added problem of decision-making while under the influence of stubbornness. I am a stubborn little thing. If someone tells me what to do, I immediately want to do the opposite. I don’t ALWAYS do the opposite – I can usually talk myself out of it – but sometimes my stubborn gene sets in and I’m all “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, ‘THE MAN!’” and then look out, world, I am not using any sort of common sense to navigate. Like, none. At all.

At the beginning of November, I told my mom, “Wouldn’t it be fun to come home for Thanksgiving and surprise Dad?” We decided it WOULD be fun. So we all secretly planned it all month. And then a week before Thanksgiving WINTER STORM BOREAS raised its evil head.

O NO BOREAS NOOOOO!

O NO BOREAS NOOOOO!

WINTER STORM BOREAS (because we name our winter storms now) was supposed to be like the WORST THING EVER and dump like 18″ of snow on my whole route home Wednesday night. And at first I was all, “eh, I’ll just not go.” But then my mom started telling me I COULDN’T go. “YOU WILL DIE!” said Mom. And Stubborn Amy kicked in. STUPID BOREAS! STUPID BEING TOLD I COULD NOT GO! STUPID RUINING OF THANKSGIVING! STUPID RUINING OF SURPRISING! DOWN! WITH! THE! MAN!

So when the weather reports started saying the storm wasn’t as bad as predicted, I was all, “I AM GOING SCREW THIS” and got in the car right after work and took off. People said things like “are you sure?” and “um…Boreas?” and “you will die, maybe?” and “maybe you should text me when you get there? IF you get there?” and I was all “I WILL BE FINE I AM PLATINUM!”

It was raining here. I could handle rain. Half an hour into the drive, traffic ground to a halt. We started seeing signs that said “right and middle lanes closed due to accident.” We all sloooowly merged over. Come to find out two tractor trailers had not only hit one another, they’d tipped over, spilling their contents all over the place. It was quite nervous-making.

But I sallied forth! I WAS SALLYING!

The night started to get colder. The winds picked up. This led to frozen roads and the car getting PUSHED to ONE SIDE. The winds were that bad. So I had to use BOTH hands on the wheel and pay super-close attention. I started thinking, “this might not have been the best idea.” But! Stubborn! Sallying, dammit, SO MUCH SALLYING!

I stopped at the rest stop I always stop at and did some deep breathing. Whew. At that rest stop, you have about an hour, an hour and fifteen minutes, until you reach my parents’ house. I could do this.

Went in. Rest-stopped. Came out. And it was snowing like hell. A woman was crying outside the door. “I DON’T WANT TO DRIVE IN THIS ANYMORE,” said the crying woman. A frat boy fell down in the parking lot because so icy.

Effffff.

So what does one do? Get back on the slippery windy highway and drive back to Albany where the weather was better, but drive through all that again? Or keep on a’truckin’ (or car-in’, I guess) and just deal with what was coming?

Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn.

I kept going.

The roads got worse as I drove. At least on the highway you could see the lines. Nothing seemed to have been plowed once you left the highway; the roads were all packed-down ice and snow and slick. Slick, slick, SLICK. And it was snowing hard enough that I couldn’t see.

I’d told Mom I’d be home by 8; that gave me an extra hour in case of traffic or weather.

8 came and went. I couldn’t call anyone; it was too slippery to not pay attention to the roads, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.

I almost went off the road, all-told, 4 times. I cussed (at the weather, at myself, at other drivers) too many times to count. My check engine light randomly came on. I couldn’t change my playlist so I listened to the same 20 songs over and over and OVER. (Luckily, I loved them, so I was ok with that. And now I know ALL THE WORDS.) I said, “THIS WAS A VERY STUPID DECISION!” repeatedly.

But I kept driving.

And I finally pulled into my parents’ driveway at 8:40pm. Five straight hours after I’d left. My mom came to the door and looked FRANTIC. My dad came, looking confused, saw me, got BIG HUGE SURPRISED EYES, and then opened the door. I thought he would yell out, “what are you doing here?” and it would be all a happy surprise but he ACTUALLY yelled “THIS IS NOT FUNNY! NOT FUNNY AT ALL!” and then SHUT THE DOOR ON ME! He did not even help me bring in my things in all the snow. So I went in with all my things and was all “OLD MAN I AM SURPRISING YOU FOR THANKSGIVING COME GIVE ME A HUG” and he stomped in all “BOREAS SO STUPID WHAT WERE YOU THINKING” and then gave me a hug and said “it is nice to see you” very quietly so I won Thanksgiving.

This is getting hellaciously long, so I will rush through the rest. We had a lovely Thanksgiving, including the following things:

  • napping
  • sleeping in
  • hanging with The Nephew
  • eating our weight in Thanksgiving foods
  • watching Kill Bill 2 with Dad and having to explain the plot to him and giggling
  • visiting my grandmother
  • helping my dad figure out how to turn his new cell phone onto vibrate
  • ordering things for Dad on Amazon (“what is this PRIME? No SHIPPING? This is AMAZING!”)
  • rolling my eyes until they almost ruptured at the constant stream of Fox News that happens in that house
  • looking at eleventy-billion photos of Mom’s trip to Rome (“AMY! The statues were NUDE! Can you IMAGINE?”)
ZOMG! COVER YOUR EYES!

ZOMG! COVER YOUR EYES!

Then on Friday morning, after my nephew cheerfully greeted my sleepy-eyed self with “Aunt Amy! You are awake! Do you want to race?” (I did not want to race, but I totally watched HIM race), I packed up leftovers and the car and Dad filled it with gas and wiper fluid and gave me many pretend-gruff hugs and off I went. And luckily the drive home was uneventful (except Dad didn’t close the hood all the way, and I didn’t realize that until a couple hours into the drive, so Dad was all, “YOU! COULD! HAVE! DIED!” but I didn’t die. Obviously.)

So: yep. Very, very stupid stubborn idea. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t. That was a terrible drive. I’m too old for that shit. But, overall: a very, very good Thanksgiving. Got to spend it with my family, for the first time in a decade; got to read with The Nephew; got to hang out with my dad; got to eat so much delicious food. NOM.

But if I try to do something ridiculous like that again, please slap me upside the head and tell my stupid, stubborn self that it’s better to be alone on the holiday and alive than dead on the side of the road trying to get some turkey and family hangtime. Good grief.

OK, not as stupid as this...which made me cackle like a moron...but still pretty stupid.

OK, not as stupid as this…which made me cackle like a moron…but still pretty stupid.


Virginia: No Lovers, But Much Love

I am officially home from my long weekend of adventure. I took Wednesday off so I could loaf. So far, I have not loafed; I’ve been doing a billion things like laundry and grocery shopping and library-visiting. (There was some sort of toddler story-hour happening when I was there and the cuteness quotient in the lobby was OFF THE DAMN CHARTS, yo. I can’t even tell you.)

Let’s see. When we left off, Heather had arrived, and we were awaiting the arrival of the lovely Laura. Heather and I decided to go pick up Laura while sj made dinner, and we were going to stop at the grocery store on the way home.

So we went to pick up Laura. On our way, we drove past an exit for “Powhite Parkway,” which made me laugh SO HARD. “There’s probably a lot of trash along Powhite Parkway,” Heather mused wisely.

Then we were at Laura’s house! And Laura lives in the most beautiful old apartment. The ceilings are the highest you’ve ever seen, and there are fireplaces and it’s decorated in this amazing kitschy way that is so amazing. And there was Laura, who is still adorable, whether she lives in New York OR Virginia! (Perhaps more adorable in Virginia, because she’s so happy that you can just see the glow in her eyes.)

Then it was time for grocery shopping! We totally had a list. We were IMPRESSIVE.

We also got up to shenanigans in the grocery store. Because, why not?

THE LOVELY LAURA!

I promised Heather I was only taking a photo of what we were shopping for. I lied. Sincerely, though, she is ADORABLE. How could I not take a photo of her?

Listen, the sign said screams started here. It’s like we HAD to do this photo, yo. WE DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE. (Side note: I think the people who worked at the Kroger may or may not have hated us. For good reason.)

Then back to sj’s we went, bearing Laura and groceries! (And coffee, because we stopped at Starbucks.)

We talked and ate and watched The Amazing Race (which is a LOT of fun when you can talk about it with real people in real time – usually sj and I text each other through it, but face-to-face is AWESOME) and then got kids to bed (and Heather to bed, because she had to leave the next day!) and sj and Laura and I watched The Walking Dead. This might have been the most fun I’ve ever had watching The Walking Dead, because listen, Laura is HYSTERICAL. She would come out with these things all matter-of-factly like “That little bitch is sick. What’s up with them sweat-feet?” and I’d laugh so hard I’d have trouble breathing. You have to imagine it in Laura’s southern accent, though. It’s better that way. More realistic.

Here's the sick little bitch now. SWEAT FEET.

Here’s the sick little bitch now. SWEAT FEET.

The next day, Laura and Heather left in the early afternoon after we sat around and talked as much as we could squeeze into the morning. It was sad to see them go. We had the best time, the four of us. Sincerely. Among other things (like the sheer fact that they’re three amazing women) it’s really nice to meet people who get you. Who get the internet references and the blogging stuff and who, when you mention someone by their Twitter handle, know what you’re talking about, and who, if you talk about the GoodReads controversy, don’t say, “What’s that? A website? Who cares?” It’s also amazing (and rare) to be around people you feel completely comfortable with. Because usually I’m awkward panda.

Some seriously gorgeous lady-action happening here, yo.

Some seriously gorgeous lady-action happening here, yo.

Then it was a napping-day. We were all very quiet and sleepy and many naps were taken. sj totally came to check on me at one point and I was all sacked out on the loveseat drooling and snoring. (SHUT IT. I am the least sexy sleeper in the history of the world. I own that shit. How can you even change something like that? I mean, it’s not like you can train yourself to be a sexy sleeper like in the soap operas. I work hard, I play hard, and I sleep hard. And UGLY. BAM, yo.)

At one point I watched some episodes of a show called Ni Hao, Kai-Lan with sj’s little girl. This is what I learned about this show: there is a monkey on this show who is such an asshole. I don’t know how anyone would be friends with this monkey. (You have to suspend your disbelief when watching this – all the animals talk, and are this girl Kai-Lan’s friends.) This monkey, Ho Ho, is constantly yelling at people, and kicking tigers, and refusing to play games unless HE can pick them, and will never try new foods. And he learns important lessons, whatever, like new things can be good, sometimes. But mostly what I learned is, if I was Kai-Lan, I would tell Ho Ho to take a hike-hike, because he is the WORST. I told sj’s daughter he was the worst and she was all, “NO.” (He totally is, though.)

This is Ho Ho, but usually he's more pouty and stompy than this. He's the worst.

This is Ho Ho, but usually he’s more pouty and stompy than this. He’s the worst.

But at the end of the night it was time for MORE ADVENTURE! sj’s husband COOKED for us. He is an amazing chef (like, the opposite of me, who just had a Lean Cuisine for lunch) and went all out. We totally had fajitas. But not JUST fajitas. He made fajitas AND salsa AND guacamole – all from SCRATCH – and I just want to say that it was, most likely, one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. EVER. And I don’t even like beef (much) OR peppers. But somehow, it was THE BEST THING EVER. (Also, somehow I’ve gone almost 40 years without ever having fajitas. And I love Mexican food. I don’t know, either. I’m weird about food. You all know that.) We were watching a movie while we ate them and I seriously didn’t even TALK while I was eating. I was in a good food FUGUE STATE. I utterly cannot imagine that I will ever eat fajitas that are that delicious again. (THANK YOU, JEFF!) PS, I totally meant to take a photo of the fajitas but I was too busy eating them ALL UP with my FACE. Didn’t even take a break for photography. SO SO GOOD.

Oh, and as a side-note, sj ALSO made delicious food for us, like split-pea soup (which is one of my favorite things EVER) and the best homemade pizza and macaroni and cheese (HOMEMADE mac and cheese, YUM) and Rice Krispie Treats which we totally went to TOWN on while they were still warm and gooey and DELICIOUS. I really need to start cooking more, don’t I? Lean Cuisines don’t count as cooking, do they? Huh.

Then the next day was going-home day. Long train ride ahead of me. Many hours trainbound. Also, how is it possible that, even though I’d given away a lot of things OUT of my luggage, and only had a few new things IN my luggage, it was virtually impossible to close my bags? I’m the worst packer. Sincerely.

Many goodbyes. Many hugs. Quick photos with some of the kiddos:

sj’s husband and the two aforementioned kiddos brought me to the train station and we watched the train come in and there were some tears from the kiddos which was so sweet and heartbreaking. More hugs and kisses on tops of little heads and off I went to the train.

I alternately slept and read and watched a movie on the way home. (What did we do before laptops and Kindles? They might be the best things ever.) I watched Les Miserables, finally. I liked it, but I think I like the stage show more. There were some changes made I wasn’t down with. (Doesn’t mean I didn’t get a little teary-eyed now and then, though.) I mostly had my seat to myself until a VERY OFFICIOUS ASSHAT sat with me from Maryland to New York City and took up more than his seat with all of this gear and his cell phone calls and his important gesticulations and that was annoying. Otherwise, all was well.

And when I got home, there was a VERY UPSET DUMBCAT who was all, “MOM MOM MOM I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD MOM MOM MOM” and has not left my side since I got here. Very vocal, my boy. He even meowed at me while he was eating cat treats. MEOW MOM MEOW! DON’T EVER LEAVE AGAIN MEOW! Poor guy. So lonely.

So there was my weekend of adventure, and bloggity meetups, and laughing and talking and television-watching and napping. It was a very grand adventure, and now it’s back to work and theater reviewing and such. But things are going to be a little quieter now – not so much going on at the moment – so I can relax a little, do some writing and reading and relaxing. Aaahh.

Thank you, sj, for hosting a weekend of adventure, and Heather and Laura, for making the trip, and I love your faces. Big hugs to you all for being amazing women and just as wonderful face-to-face as you are on the interwebs. All the love.

(For more posts on weekend goodness, visit sj here and here, and Heather here!)


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