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Category Archives: vacation

Jetlaggy celebratory goodness

Today is officially my third bloggiversary, says my calendar.

I know. In the past, I’ve been quite happily geeking out about such a thing, but mostly today I’m jet laggy and dealing with the all-too-sad truth that after a wonderful vacation (which I hope to have the energy to at least somewhat recap for you all soon) I have to SMASH BANG CRASH back into the real world and (sigh) WORK for a living now, rather than gallivant around with Andreas and his family looking at castles and eating a lot of cake.

Also, it doesn’t seem really fair to celebrate a third bloggiversary when over the last year I’ve published maybe 10 posts, or something. That’s kind of cheaty. But there you have it. The real world has gotten in the way of the blog world, for good or for ill.

So today, this little old place is three, and this little old lady with her (still!) sprained foot is heading back to work. Happy third bloggiversary to me as I try not to fall asleep because I seem to be still on Finnish time.

Oh, I will leave you with this:

It’s almost impossible to tell, but that is me, touching a lemur. TOUCHING A LEMUR. Because even though the signs said “probably don’t, they’re the most bitey,” I mean, how do you pass up a chance like that, I ask you?

Yep. Touched a lemur. Right on his taily-tail. Didn’t get bitten, either.

More soon. Happy third bloggiversary to me. Thanks for sticking around, folks, even though mostly you’re sticking around for nothing lately. You’re the tops, you are. *smooch*

 

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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.


Counting all the (southern-fried) chickens

So, remember how a bit ago, ’round these here parts we were all “there are chickens, and the chickens cannot yet be counted, but the chickens can be counted SOON, maybe, if all goes according to plan, but, you know how to make God laugh, and that’s make a plan, so SHUSH, no counting of those chickens?” Well, maybe it wasn’t phrased exactly like that, but close. Who can remember, that was like two weeks ago, or something.

WELL. It is a MOST prestigious day. We can TOTALLY count the chickens today, people.

SEVEN! (Wait, is this a trick question?)

SEVEN! (Wait, is this a trick question?)

For a while now, it has been in the planning stages to make a VERY exciting trip in a southerly direction to visit someone near and dear to our hearts. Well, MY heart, anyway. If this person isn’t near and dear to YOUR heart, poo. POO, I SAY, ON YOU!

But life got in the way, and other trips and such, and when you just started your job, you can’t be all “Imma take like all the time off, yo, too bad if you guys wanted that week,” like, ALL the time, because that’s like frowned upon, or whatever. Also, sorry, but I’m not heading anywhere southerly of here in the summer. It’s hot enough here as it is. The only place I’m heading in the summer is up up up. Because otherwise I will probably combust.

So. Now we’re in the autumn season. (Well, technically we’re not, but as soon as September 1 hits, I call autumn, and too bad, calendar. Also, someone needs to tell the weather it’s autumn. It’s been in the 80s and 90s here with insane humidity for three days, and I’m EXHAUSTED. I am SPENT. AND, TODAY, it rained like it was the end of the world, and I got so wet it was like I bathed in my clothes, and I had to work the second half of the day dripping onto the carpet. Don’t even ask “where was your umbrella.” I HAD ONE. THE RAIN CAME AROUND IT.)

I found this on the Book of Faces. This was taken a couple of blocks from where I was on my lunch break today. WHAT THE HELL. Do I live in a rainforest? NO I DO NOT.

I found this on the Book of Faces. This was taken a couple of blocks from where I was on my lunch break today. WHAT THE HELL. Do I live in a rainforest? NO I DO NOT.

Am I off on a tangent again? Seems that way.

SO. As it is now the autumn of my discontent, I am free to head southerly. Like a Canadian goose.

HEADIN' ON SOUTH, YO!

HEADIN’ ON SOUTH, YO!

I said, “dearest Boss, can I have three extra days off for Columbus Day?” and Boss said, “Yep” and I said “YOU ARE THE BEST, YO! THANK YOU!” because I am very professional in work emails and always use etiquette like not using all-caps or slang. Luckily, she likes me and is ok with me expressing myself expressively. (Can you imagine if I’d done that at the last place? I’m pretty sure I’d have been caned in the backyard. Not in a sexy funtimes way, either.)

So, with that in mind, I checked out my options.

Flights? No. SUPER-EXPENSIVE. Four-hour round-trip flight, $400. So $50 an hour. That’s a lot of money. And also, although it was the quickest option, planes aren’t my fave. Like, they’re fine, if you HAVE to take one. But otherwise, avoid them. Because a., I always catch the flu after being on a plane, and b., motherfucking snakes. (Also crashes and terrorists and I’m afraid of that show with the thing on the wing and also, you saw Lost, right? I’d never survive on that island, never.)

ZOMG THE PLANE IN TWO PLACES, YOU GUYS!

ZOMG THE PLANE IN TWO PLACES, YOU GUYS!

Driving? Well, the drive was 9 hours. And my car is OK, but 9 hours is a lot, and I really don’t want to put THAT many miles on it. Plus I get crabby driving home to visit my parents. And that’s 3.5 hours away. Also gas is EXPENSIVE, you guys. And if I don’t put the middle-grade gas in my car, lately the engine light’s been going on? It’s a weird thing, I don’t know. I think it’s messing with me. My car’s a smart-ass.

The bus? Ha. Who are we kidding, I didn’t even research that shit. The bus is dead to me ever since it lost my luggage in grad school.

So. Amtrak. Whatcha got for me? What’s that? $160 round-trip, only a brief layover in New York City (oh, twist my arm, make me stop in my favorite city of ALL TIME), then a straight shot to where I’m going? Free wifi? Comfy seats? I can blog/read/etc. while the engineer takes care of everything for me?

Amtrak for the win, you guys.

(Plus I always feel like a fancy lady when I’m on a train. Like an olden-days fancy lady.)

So I had to wait til I got paid because I did some egregious spending with my last paycheck like PAYING THE RENT and BUYING GROCERIES. I know most people have credit cards, shush, I do not have such things.

But. TODAY. (Well, yesterday for you, since I AM WRITING TO YOU FROM THE PAST.) Today, I went online and BAM. Prices went up (of course they did, dammit) but not THAT much.

So…without further ado…

…over Columbus Day weekend, when we celebrate the FOUNDING of MERKA except it was ALREADY FOUNDED…

…I will be going to…

VIRGINIA!

And, you may ask, who exactly will I be shackin’ up with while I’m in Virginia?

IT IS THE LOVELY SJ!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I will be making the trek to Virginia to visit sj and her family. They will be putting up with me for DAYS. I am very excited about this, because a., I like adventures, and b., I AM VERY GOOD AT MAKING KIDDOS GIGGLE because I have no shame and totally do foolish things in order to make them laugh.

We will also do adventurous things, like talk our faces off and eat foods and at one point? THIS is going to happen…

WE ARE GOING TO THE ZOO AND THERE WILL BE GIRAFFES!!!!

(There will also be otters and penguins and leopards and tigers and cheetahs and lemurs! And will I take photos of myself making animal-faces? YES OF COURSE I WILL!!!)

But that’s not even the best of it, yo. Want more? Sure you do.

Guess who’s making a trip over to hang out with us and we are meeting her for the FIRST TIME?

IT IS HEATHER!

Seriously, right? Could this BE any more awesome?

Yep, actually, it COULD, because we are also meeting up with…

LAURA!

I know. Think about THAT for a minute. The combined awesome, it is STAGGERING.

(I cannot promise I will not have a panic attack because of ALL THESE THINGS but sj has promised I can have some alone time to breathe in a paper bag if I need to so it’s nice to know that option’s available, you know?)

THIS IS VERY EXCITING.

In ADDITION to this exciting news, I also had an email from one of my oldest friends that he’ll be in town on Sunday, and did I want to have lunch? I haven’t seen him in years. And YES, I want to have lunch. Seriously, how much awesomeness can I cram into the next month or so? IT IS INSANE. I do not deserve all this, do I?

It is now time for bed, because Laura will be here TOMORROW and I still have much to do and prepare and get ready and I am SO EXCITED HOW WILL I EVEN SLEEP. I may be missing for the next couple of days because SO MANY THINGS but I’ll come back with all the stories, don’t you even worry. Happy weekends if I don’t see you, Do something bold and exciting and grand, ok? You deserve it. *SMOOCH*

LOOK AT ALL THESE CHICKENS I’M COUNTING THEM ALLLLLLLLLL!


And now, the end is near

As I get older, I muse a lot on the mutability of time. (And a lot of other things. Do you find your thoughts wander onto these epic large thoughts as you age? I mean, assuming you’re aging. Maybe you’re 18 or something. If you are 18, I think I can tell you with some certainty that as you get older, you will start thinking about these things, like time, and death, and aging, and love, with this almost disturbing depth and breadth.)

I have been on vacation since last Friday at 3:30pm. A little over 8 days ago. I leave for home tomorrow morning sometime between 8-10am, depending on how late I sleep in. (I’d like to get home sooner rather than later, so the earlier I get on the road, the earlier I can get home and start unpacking and preparing for my life to start back up on Monday morning.)

A normal 8 days goes by at a normal pace. It feels like 8 days. (Sometimes it feels like more, depending on how tough the week is or how exhausted I am or various other things. You know how those weeks are. Those weeks that seem to last a million years and you can’t wait til they’re done.)

A week on vacation, however, seems to last about three days. I feel like I just got here. I can barely remember the days I’ve been on vacation because they zipped by TOO QUICKLY. They squished into one mega-day, and now that mega-day is finished, and I have to go back to the real world.

And the real world is fine; I’m not complaining about my life. It’s a very good life. I like my job, I don’t hate my part-time job, I adore my reviewing job. I love where I live and I love my home and I have wonderful friends. All’s well.

But vacation’s just so NICE, you know? You can stay up as late as you want and read all the books and take naps and spend serious time on writing and email and thoughts. I live a very zip-zip-zip real life where I am going every minute until I crash out in bed. It has been SO NICE to just slow down.

The same amount of time in my real life has compressed and squished and feels like just a couple of days. I know this happens to a lot of people on vacation. It’s not just me. It just sucker-punches me every time it does.

I am feeling bittersweet and end-of-vacationy. Please forgive.

So, because I need to finish loading the car tonight:

Goodbye, Helper Mule!

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Goodbye, my favorite nephew!

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(Side note: on our way back from the movies, my brother ran into the store to grab something to drink and left me in the car with The Nephew. I said, “I’ll stay here with you, kiddo!” He hesitated for a minute, then said “You’ll stay here. With your favorite nephew!” I call him that almost every time I see him. I almost always say, “Look who it is! My favorite nephew!” AND HE REMEMBERED! I love this kid more than life.)

Goodbye, strange, creepy, borderline racist clown pottery thingy I found at camp behind a bunch of things, and Mom said, “Good grief, Amy, you could have at least dusted that before you post it on the internet!”

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Goodbye, Morris the Moose who hangs over our camp fireplace!

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Goodbye beautiful full moon and gigantic campfires!

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Goodbye golden lion balls of Vermont!

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And goodbye, my most beloved fishhole!

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I should be home tomorrow early-afternoonish, and then it’s back to the daily grind of work and more work and theater reviews and hanging with Dumbcat back in his normal environment and being able to use my laptop again and sneaking in emails whenever I get a spare moment.

I will miss you, camp. Next year, let’s do it again, ok? And in the meantime, let’s start planning another adventure. Where shall we go next, I wonder?


A long-awaited meeting

Mom will be here soon for our fancy evening of dinner and a play, but I have HUGE NEWS!

It was a day we have ALL been waiting for. For about a year and a half!

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It was HELPER MULE DAY!

Today I went home to do some home-things. Home is about 45 minutes from here. You have to come down from the mountains and drive through a little town and then through a lot of nothing and THEN you are at my parents’ house.

First I got to spend some Nephew-time. He was playing with some Lego-like bricks and some trains and explained to me that Cranky the Train was so-named because he CRANKED things, not because he was annoyed. I told him I was Cranky the Amy, and he said, “NO, Aunt Amy!”

Then he had to go back to his dad’s house so they could run errands and The Nephew was all “NO NO NO I WANT TO PLAY!” and I hugged him and tickled him and kissed his little fists of fury and made him smile and they left and then Dad and I searched through the whole house for some things I was looking for and were ultimately successful (but not before a humorous misunderstanding where he thought a stuffed bear was a cat and was tearing a room apart looking for something under a bear when I was like, “DAD, I said it was in this box with the cat on the side?” and he was like “THIS IS A CAT!” and I was like, “Or a bear, but they’re both mammals, I suppose” and he was all “grumble grumble.”

Then we went to visit my grandmother. Grandmothers get tinier every time you see them. That is a very sad thing. We talked for a while and then it was time to visit Dad’s garden to see if the varmints ate it. They did not! Yay for no varmints!

THEN IT WAS HELPER MULE TIME!

On the way to Rooster’s house, Dad said, “You’d better not call that thing a Helper Mule, I think it’s just a mule. I don’t want you to hurt his feelings.” So the whole way I was all, “Hi sir, thank you for letting me visit your mule.” Dad was all, “What are you doing?” And I said “Practicing so I don’t say ‘HELPER MULE!!!’ in front of him and EMBARRASS YOU!” and Dad rolled his eyes.

At Rooster’s house, there are many animals. First, there was a happy red coonhound. He was not very old, and he didn’t understand that you were not supposed to jump or bite. (Not bite HARD. Just kind of a puppy mouthy bite. But I said “You stop that, happy red dog!” and he totally did. Animals like me. And it is mutual.)

There was also a pen of clucky chickens. They went “buck buck buck!” and the happy red dog bashed gleefully into the wire at them but couldn’t get to them and they rolled their chickeny eyes at him.

Then there was a pen with two beagle puppies in it! Well, I think more beagle tweens. They were a little older than puppies. One was lighter and had amber eyes and one was traditional dark black/white/tan. I was madly in love with them and they went “haroooo!” because that’s what beagles do. I petted them for a very long time through the wire and they licked my fingers most happily and pounced on each other and went “haroo! Haroo!” and I laughed and laughed. (Beagles are my first favorite type of dog ever, closely followed by pit bulls. We raised beagles growing up and I have the best memories of beagles.)

THEN IT WAS TIME TO GO TO THE BARN!

Rooster and Mrs. Rooster and Rooster’s grandson and some girl I didn’t know and Dad and I all went to the barn.

First in the barn, there was…

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BABY PIGS! WEE PIGLETS!

Rooster’s grandson caught one and it said “WEE WEE WEEEEE” and did not like that but that meant I got to pet it. It was bristly and scratchy and had little clacky hooves and when he put it down it ran away super-fast.

Then…what was on the other side of the barn?

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HELPER MULE!

His name is Chief!

At first, he was shy. Mrs. Rooster could touch him, but he was scared of me. “I will Helper Mule whisper you!” I thought at him furiously. “JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE!”

Rooster’s grandson let me feed Chief some hay. He ate the hay, but then backed off again. Then Mrs. Rooster let me feed him some carrots. He ate those carrots more crunchily. Then he realized maybe this new lady might be a food source and wasn’t so scared of me. THEN I got to feed him OATS, and, well, that cemented our growing friendship.

Rooster and Mrs. Rooster and Dad were talking about many things, and while they were being social, I spent much time with Helper Mule.

I took many photos. There was one of me with him, but Dad took it, and it is highly unflattering. It will stay lost to the ages.

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Then it was time to go home, and Rooster said I could come back ANY TIME, and also offered to sell me Helper Mule for only $8,000, or for free if I gave him my family’s top-secret Michigan sauce recipe. I declined because I didn’t want to get excommunicated from my family. (But I did want to own Helper Mule. We had made fast friends. And when I was leaving, he walked out of the barn-area and watched me go with sad mule-eyes.)

Also, Helper Mule was quite tall, and furry, and dusty, and his nose was soft, and his eyes were kind.

Dad said everyone at Rooster’s house isn’t always that happy, and I said, “do you think my irrepressible charm got to them?” and he said, “Yes, actually, I do” and I liked that.

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When I got home, I had to wash my hands a lot. Dad was all, “DON’T YOU TOUCH ANYTHING! YOU ARE FILTHY WITH MULE!”

It was a very successful day. And I totally whispered him. “Be good and be nice and don’t get in trouble, most wonderful Helper Mule,” I said to my new friend. “Someday I will come back to see you and we will have the best of times.”

And he wisely nodded his helpful head.

When I was whispering him, he said to tell ALL the internettians hello.

So HELLO FROM THE HELPER MULE NAMED CHIEF!

Happy rest-of-your-days, people! I have to go get pretty and wash the rest of the mule off me for a night of thee-ay-tah. Back tomorrow with MORE adventures!


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