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Tag Archives: family

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!

 

 

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Why zoos aren’t usually open in the winter in the northeast

Last month, The Nephew, his mom and I went to the science museum in Schenectady to see butterflies and a planetarium show and also play with huge Lego blocks and train sets. It was very much enjoyed by all parties and the minute it was done, The Nephew’s mom and I started talking about our next adventure, but weren’t sure what it would be.

She sent me a message on Facebook not long after I’d gotten home saying that The Nephew had already planned our next adventure.

Your nephew wants our next adventure to be at the zoo! I told him it’s too cold for a zoo in the winter so we can go in the spring or summer. He said with his infinite wisdom “Mom, the animals don’t just disappear in the winter. Take me to wherever they put the zoo animals when it’s cold. Maybe Aunt Amy will know.” Impossible to argue with that!

Well, I have to agree. How can you argue with that? So I began to research local zoos.

At first, I thought of the Binghamton Zoo, which used to be open year-round when I was a student. I know this because friend R. and I used to go there, and once went the day after an ice storm and were the only ones in the zoo and it was just the best. The animals were all frolicking just for us, and I got a puma to come out of its home by saying “rrawr?” and it said, “RAWR” and came out and we had a happy talk through the wire. He seemed very engaged. He was probably lonely. Or wanted to eat my face. Debatable, I suppose.

But the Binghamton Zoo is no longer open year-round, and a lot of other zoos nearby are also closed for the winter, so I started to despair until I found…

THE UTICA ZOO!

Open year-round and a mere 90 minutes away. We would see our animals in the wintertime after all! AUNT AMY WINS!

So we packed ourselves into the car, and an hour and a half later, we arrived at…

The Utica Zoo!

Driving through Utica makes me sad. It was a grand town, once, and now it’s kind of falling apart, and the buildings have a lot of broken windows and are filled with lost grandeur. You can see how beautiful it must have been, once, though. The buildings are beautiful and stately in that old-fashioned way, and look like they’re waiting for the next act…but the next act isn’t coming, I don’t think. I think the show’s been cancelled. And things like that hurt me. I love history. I don’t like when things are thrown away like that.

On the drive there, mostly The Nephew played Angry Birds and said, “Aunt Amy! Play this level, it’s easy!” but they were never easy, and then he would sigh like I exhausted him and he would say, “Oh, just give it to ME” and then he’d solve it in a second. (I’m terrible at Angry Birds. Those pigs are WAY wily.) He also is fascinated with family relationships. “Aunt Amy, who is your mom?” he’ll ask me, and I’ll say, “Your grammy is my mom!” and he’ll laugh and say, “Oh!” and then he’ll say “Aunt Amy, who is your dad?” and I’ll say “My dad is your grampy!” and he’ll laugh and say “Oh!” and then finally he’ll say “Aunt Amy, did you know my daddy’s mom and dad are my grammy and grampy?” and I’ll say, “Yes, did you know your dad is my brother?” and he’ll say “OH!” and this always cracks him up and he laughs. To REALLY make him laugh, I call his dad my LITTLE brother. “No! He is a grown-up MAN!” he’ll say, then giggle and giggle. I enjoy that kids don’t understand that once, the GROWN-UPS were ALSO kids. This makes me smile, to think that in a child’s mind, we’ve always been this age.

So there were a few signs when you first entered the zoo saying “paths may be icy.” We were all, “pooh pooh! How icy can they be?”

The answer is…glare-icy.

Apparently, in order to stay open all winter, they had to cut back on grounds maintenance. None of the pathways had been cleared at all. There was ice and snow and SO MUCH ICE ZOMG, and of course The Nephew tramped along it merrily (and fell once, but picked himself right back up like he’s made of rubber and kept-on a’runnin’.) At one point, the path just STOPPED, and we had to tromp through the snow, and The Nephew was all “well, now we are lost in the WOODS!” and he was sort of right. But then the path started again, sort of. It got so bad I purposely walked through the snow instead of on the path because the path was slipperytown. Bad news, Utica Zoo! I realize salt wasn’t probably a good idea with all those animals. But sand? Maybe? Or don’t be open? Because you are COURTING DEATH with those paths, you guys.

Other than the DEATH-ICE, and how cold it was (we all had windburned faces and chilly legs and hands when we were done) and the fact that about half of the animals were gone (I don’t know where…I guess wherever animals go when it’s cold? Vacation? Florida, like retirees? Just inside in the groundskeeper’s buildings? Anyone know?) it was kind of an awesome zoo. You know how much I love zoos. It would take a lot more than a little ice to put me in a terrible mood.

What’s that?

You want to see photos of our day at the zoo?

Ha, it’s like you don’t even know me. I took a MILLION photos of the zoo. The whole time, I told The Nephew’s mom, “This is for a MOST IMPRESSIVE BLOG I will be writing about this adventure!” and she said, “Of course you will!” She totally knows about the bloggery. Most of my people do. It doesn’t even shock them anymore.

Let’s go to the zoo!

First we had to go to the bathrooms, and outside the bathrooms, randomly, was this loose peacock. The Nephew was all “LOOK AT THAT!” and wanted to I think either pet or ride the peacock, but the peacock was having none of that and booked it away from us. (Isn’t it pretty? I’ve never seen one up close!)

Here’s The Nephew chasing it as it walked away. He really wanted a pet peacock.

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It was all, “listen, dude, I am JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU” and The Nephew was all, “No, seriously, come back, I will play “In Your Eyes” to you on a boom box! YOU COMPLETE ME!”

Then we saw some goats. I know some people who like goats. I took a lot of photos of these fellas.

This one looked like a genetic abnormality. Therefore he was my favorite.

There were none of those little feeding stations at this zoo. I hear rumors that they all had to be removed because hooligans were breaking into the zoo to steal the money in them. This goat didn’t get the memo. He wanted me to feed him. I had no food. Only Tic Tacs. I don’t think the goat wanted Tic Tacs.

This goat looks like he knows a secret. Do you think it’s the secret of why they didn’t put any sand on the paths so we almost died like a hundred times?

This goat was chewing on a log. I don’t know why, either. But it made me laugh. He was SO FOCUSED on this. He didn’t even look up. Look at his funny pupils! This is why I love goats. They have curious eyes.

I think this is the genetic abnormality goat again. I was a fan of his.

ZOMG GOAT! Stop with the log, already, people are going to think you have a complex!

Next was a thing I loved, and I think I need to get it on a teeshirt.

I BITE! And there was NOTHING IN THE CAGE! So it was totally scary for no reason. I like that it’s in ALL-CAPS.

But then the bitey thing came out. What do you think it was? A cougar? A wolverine?

Nope.

This stork-thing. I would think he pecks and pinches more than bites. Just to be safe, though, in case his beak was hiding sharp teeth, we didn’t poke him.

This is his wanted poster. I BITE, DAMMIT!

Yes, I know. That’s a lot of snow. We’re really mired in this neverending winter up here.

Thought you’d like to see some adorableness. Here’s The Nephew taking a photo-op in front of the children’s zoo. He has many layers on. We were chilly, yo.

Yeah, I know. Worst photo ever. See, my nice camera totally died almost immediately and I had to use my phone for the rest of the day. This is a zebra. He was really far away and to get to him, you had to cross TREACHEROUS ICE. So I decided to zoom in as far in as I could and call it a day. HI, ZEBRA! (He totally finds me fascinating. Look at him checking me out.)

This is a camel I decided to call Spicoli. He seems to be stoned, and really laid-back. I think he would call you “dude” a lot and laugh inappropriately. Look, he totally has hay in his hair and he doesn’t even CARE. And he looks like he’s grinning at NOTHING. (Also, apparently in the winter, this kind of camel grows a lot of dreadlocks, and their humps droop randomly to one side or another. Just makes them look more like stoner-camels to me.)

This was some sort of peacock with a huge lacy tail. There was no sign on this exhibit so I can’t even tell you what kind. I liked how fancy it was. This peacock would ALWAYS get invited to the dance.

MERKA!

The Nephew didn’t see this eagle at first, then when he did, he was kind of tired, and said “That doesn’t even LOOK like an eagle” and I said, “No? What does it look like?” and he sighed and said, “A big bird with a yellow beak.” But later when we asked him what his favorite animal was, he said the eagle.

Oh, pretend there’s a photo of a sea lion here. They wouldn’t stay out of the water long enough for us to photograph them, but they were very cool. One popped up long enough to kind of clap his flippers at us, then disappeared again. I do so like sea lions.

Why does every zoo have Cotton-Topped Tamarins? These things freak me out, man. Where’s that stoner camel. He’d calm me down. I think he has something that’ll help me out with that.

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Snakes! This one’s pretty. I think it was a corn snake.

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I don’t remember what kind of snake this is, but the photo turned out well. Sometimes that happens.

These were gigantic pythons, and they would most definitely eat you and digest you. I even like snakes but I’m glad they were safely behind glass.

The website said there would be so many turtles and tortoises, and there was only this one. This is for Heather. She is my tortoise-friend and she said I would love this guy the most of all the turtles and tortoises. She was right, considering he was the only one. Sadly, this is not a very good photo. Good grief, why is it so RED? Sorry, Heather.

It is very hard to see, but up in the upper left-hand corner of this one is a beautiful owl. I love owls. I went “hoo! Hoo!” to him but he was all “I’m napping, lady, sheesh.”

This is not a helper mule, as much as I’d like it to be. This was just a donkey. He was pretty cute, though.

This was a HUGE Flemish rabbit. The sign says they can grow to 28 pounds. I was all “The Nephew! Come see this huge rabbit!” and he came over and said, “Aunt AMY, that rabbit isn’t that huge. He’s just really fat. I think he eats too much food” and that made me and The Nephew’s Mom giggle.

Look at this guy. He’s GORGEOUS. I sincerely want an owl. On the way home, we saw two hawks, too. It was a raptor-bird kind of day.

Look! He looked at us! He wanted to be our friend!

It’s hard to tell, because he’s very blending-into-the-landscapey, but this is a beautiful lynx. He watched us the whole time but not in a scary way. In a “bring me home!” way. The Nephew said I could bring him home, and he PROBABLY wouldn’t eat Dumbcat. I like them odds.

I saved the best for last. What do you think is best?

What’s that? You can’t see them very well? I CAN FIX THAT!

LIONS!

At first, The Nephew said, “I don’t think I want to see lions…” in a scared little voice, but then he realized they wouldn’t eat us and he was cool with the lions. This one was pacing the whole time we were standing by it. He wanted to eat our whole faces. I loved him.

I’m going to be obnoxious and show you a lot of photos of this lion. He was my best fella.

Isn’t he so PRETTY? I do love big cats.

And you know what you have to do when you’re around the lions.

You HAVE to make a lion face! (Those lions don’t even care.)

Then we discovered one of my favorite things at zoos…

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One of these “you are an animal” face-thingies! First The Nephew was a lion. You can also see Aunt Amy behind him holding him up so he didn’t fall on the little teeny-tiny piece of wood he was standing on in order to be a lion. I especially like the paws on this thing. Very realistic.

I am a scary lion! This is totally my Facebook cover photo right now, yo. This is like the best thing ever. RAWR I AM A SCARY LION (who is also holding a Utica Zoo sign, for some reason!)

Then we were cold and tired, so we hoofed it to the gift shop and The Nephew decided he wanted a scary lion thing that bit things and grabbed things but we convinced him that really he wanted a spelunker’s hat with a VERY cool flashlight built in (when I told him the word “spelunker” he repeated it and giggled – this kid LOVES learning, it is so good for my heart) and I got a NEW FRIEND!

His name is Trent. He is a very brave tortoise, and not at all afraid of Dumbcat. (Right after this photo was taken, Dumbcat randomly started purring and headbutted poor Trent right onto the floor. Oh, Dumbcat. That’s no way to treat your new housemate!) Don’t even mock my warm flannel PJs, yo. It’s going to be NINE DEGREES tonight. Where is my spring?!?!)

Then we all went to a diner and The Nephew had pancakes and french fries (which was an awesome combination, I thought) and I helped him clean up some spilled milk and I told him I was helping him because I loved him all the way to the moon and back, and he said “I love you TWO TIMES that!” and I kissed him on his little head because that made me have tears. Oh, do I love that child.

Then it was time to go home, and tonight I am ouchy from walking and ouchy from windburny but we had a lovely day. But I would recommend that you probably don’t go to a zoo in the winter that DOESN’T upkeep their paths, though. Total liability. Otherwise? Good times had at the zoo by all. Including the animals. They were probably so sad to see us go. We’re excellent zoo visitors. No one was as happy as we were. We won zooing!


The doing of all the things

Yo, people, s’up. I have been doing a million billion things, and have been attempting to put together a coherent post, but my brain’s not cooperating. So instead, I’ll give you a recap of what’s up around the old Lucy’s Football homestead, which might be interesting to…I don’t know, no one? Maybe no one. But it’s about all I can do, sadly; larger topics and/or themes seem beyond me at the moment.

I went on a my first internetty date. I am not going to go into detail, because that seems rude. Let’s just say that we weren’t a match, and that seeing one another will not be repeated. But, in more cheerful news: I now know I am capable of going on a date, like a normal human being, and carry on what is mostly a normal human conversation, and eat food without spilling it all over my top. All of this without dying of an anxiety attack. So, although it was far from a win romantically, it was a win personally. Will I be attempting this again? Um. Let’s just say that’s up in the air for the moment? There might be more craziness out there in the world than I’m prepared to take on at this particular moment. Or ever, actually. But we’ll see.

Do not like. Do. Not. Like.

Do not like. Do. Not. Like.

I saw the Book of Mormon. It was one of the best musicals I’ve ever experienced, and I can’t stop singing the music at inopportune times. Which is…well, most of the times, because if you know the songs, you know they’re kind of vulgar, in the most cheery way. It was an amazing musical, and had a great story, and the production was flawless (but of course it was, it was one of the touring companies coming through town, they don’t do shoddy work, and if I told you how much I paid for my ticket, you’d probably choke on whatever foodstuffs you’re currently consuming) and it made me smile so much my teeth dried out at one point. There was a rude asshat in front of me who insulted the nice retired teacher sitting next to him, and I wanted to punch him in the smug American-Psycho-lookalike face, but other than that, just a perfect evening. The show’s worth all the hype, but if you don’t like cussing, don’t go (or you’ll end up like the people at intermission I heard talking in the hallway, all “This is so VULGAR! Did you know it would be so VULGAR? It’s just so VULGAR!” Yes. Yes, it is. The South Park guys wrote it. Did you think it would be about rainbow kittens? Come on now.)

Here, this will make you happy. “I Believe” from the 2012 Tony Awards. (Don’t worry. This isn’t one of the naughty songs. Totally safe for both work and more easily-embarrassed ears.)

I got to see meet Christopher Durang. If you don’t know who this is, you’re probably 99% of the population, so don’t be upset. Christopher Durang is a playwright who was very popular in the late 80s/early 90s (although he is experiencing a resurgence and won the Tony for Best New Play this year) and I was in two of his shows in college (and did a scene from a third in acting class.) He’s absurd, and sarcastic, and hilarious, and intelligent, and remains one of my favorite playwrights to this day. He came to one of our local colleges to give a talk, and I got to see him talk, and then he did a book signing afterward – and I didn’t even freak out. Well, inside. Inside I was freaking out. But I was calm and charming outside, and that is a TOTAL win. That’s the first time I didn’t freak out and make one of my idols think I wanted to wear their skin as a suit. I’ll blog more about it on the book blog one of these days.

He totally looked just like a normal, ordinary guy. I like that when you meet a hero in real life they can masquerade as a typical human.

I went to a science museum with The Nephew. We saw a planetarium, where the presenter was asking questions none of the kids could answer, so she opened it up to the adults, and all the adults were afraid to answer, so I totally answered, because I like being a smartypants and I have no shame (and The Nephew was SO IMPRESSED with me – “you knew that!” he said. Yep, kiddo, I totally did. I am a nerd. We know all the things) and we saw many exhibits about how light and sound and waves and energy work, and a butterfly house (but The Nephew was not impressed because the butterflies weren’t landing on him, so he was like, “I’m done with this now!” and ran out) and gigantic Lego pieces so you could build a life-size house, and many train sets to play with, and one of those machines that makes your hair stand up if you touch it but it didn’t work on me because my hair was already a mess but it did make me all static electric so I was shocking people if I touched them. We had a day of adventure.

Me & my best little guy being beautiful butterflies. He LOVED this thing. Something about putting his face in a butterfly face entertained the heck out of him. He's a blogger's dream.

Me & my best little guy being beautiful butterflies. He LOVED this thing. Something about putting his face in a butterfly face entertained the heck out of him. He’s a blogger’s dream.

I am living through a winter apocalypse. This is the strangest winter ever. GIGANTIC SNOWFALLS! ICE STORMS! POLAR VORTEXES! (Vortices? I don’t ever remember the correct plural of that, and I’m too tired to hit the Googles at the moment.) Yesterday it was 45 degrees here. today it’s 20. It’s enough to give one whiplash. I’m so ready for spring. (And in funny news, I’m hearing from some of my friends who live in places that usually get a lot of snow that they DIDN’T get snow this year. I think we got all their snow. Awesome. Of course we did. Dumb snow. Dumb ice. I couldn’t even get in my car to go to work Thursday. It was iced shut. Took until about noon or one to even thaw enough to get in. SO ANNOYING.)

OK, it wasn't this bad...

OK, it wasn’t this bad…

For the first time in, eek, I don’t even know…almost ten years?…I submitted a piece for publication, and am working on others. I’m attempting to do some writing this year. If it works out, awesome. If not, I’ve written some things I’m proud of. I forgot how much fun it is to write things for potential publication. Fun and scary, all at once, actually. I’ve decided 2014 will be the year for trying things that are a little scary. So far, so good.

Dumbcat has been up to shenanigans – his latest thing is that he jumps on the bed at random hours like 2:21 am and 4:32 am and says “MEOW! MOM MOM MEOW!” and I say “oh, no no, Dumbcat, it is not time for this at all, Mom’s sleeping” and he said “meooooow” and I say “no no no” and he kind of sad-meows like “meoooooooow Mom you are the worst meoooooow” and then goes away for a little while and then comes back a couple hours later and we do it all over again. I’m not quite sure what this is all about. I think he just needs some attention, but it’s not so much fun when a person is attempting to sleep. Also, the other night my throw-rug in the living room was all rucked up and I went to straighten it and there was a dead mole under it. A dead mole! OK, a., how’d that mole get in my home? And b., why’d Dumbcat kill a mole and then hide it like a serial-killer trophy under a rug? (Also, moles are really kind of cool. They have velvety fur and you can’t see their eyes and they have little chubby paws and short tails. No, I didn’t touch it, but I had to pick it up with a paper towel to send it to its final resting place over the porch railing into the snow and so I took the chance to look at it, because how often does one get a chance to look at a mole?) So I’m somewhat impressed with his murdering prowess but also kind of sad about this poor little soft-looking mole who somehow got lost on his way to finding, I don’t know, grubs to eat, or whatever.

Clearly is wasn't THIS mole. This is a cheerful mole; my mole was a DEAD mole.

Clearly is wasn’t THIS mole. This is a cheerful mole; my mole was a DEAD mole.

I’m going to the zoo! After the science museum, The Nephew told his mom, “I want to go to a zoo with Aunt Amy next” and she said, “maybe in the spring, the zoos are closed now” and he said, “no, the animals aren’t gone for the winter. Call Aunt Amy. She can find us a zoo. I know she can” and you know, that kind of blind faith in me, that’s amazing stuff. So did I find a zoo? Bet your bottom dollar I did. We’re heading out of town to visit one next Sunday. There will be lions, and owls, and zebras, and sea lions, and ZOMG A HEDGEHOG!, and many tortoises, and SUGAR GLIDERS!, and teeny pygmy goats, and lemurs! The Nephew has never been to a zoo. So that means I got to take him to his first play AND get to take him to his first zoo. I’m pretty jazzed about this. Don’t worry, I’ve promised there will be many photos of us making animal-faces, and if I promise it, I’ll deliver. You know how much I love zoos and animal-faces.

Oh, I hope it's this one! This is a FANCY hedger! Look at her bling!

Oh, I hope it’s this one! This is a FANCY hedger! Look at her bling!

There have also been other things, like dinners with friends, and all the working, and various projects I’ve been working on, and this, that and other things. Busy, busy me. But it’s good-busy, for the most part, you know? Just busy. Happy-busy. And with all this busy-ness, the winter’s flying by…which means spring’s almost here, and you know what spring means. TRIP TO EUROPE! I’m only 69 days away from my trip now (from the time of me writing this, I mean.) That’s like nothing. Just a little over two months from now! I AM ALMOST THERE!

HERE I COME, MAGICAL FINNISH ISLANDS!!!

HERE I COME, MAGICAL FINNISH ISLANDS!!!

Happy week, you guys. Hope you’re all in the midst of grand adventures. The best kind of adventures at all. Hope to be back soon.


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.


Hippos eat hippo bread: Christmas recap, Nephew-style.

I am finally at rest, after a day of running around like a crazy and doing all the things. Dinner is in the oven and there will soon be delicious ham and vegetables and rolls and chocolate, all provided by Mom (thanks, Mom!) and then I will go into a food coma. I have been attempting not to nap for a while. I have to work tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure if I fall asleep and nap at 5pm, sleeping tonight is going to be nigh-on impossible.

I hope you all had lovely Christmases (or Wednesdays, if Christmas isn’t your thing; I’m perfectly ok with you having a wonderful Wednesday.) Today worked out very well here in Amy and Dumbcat-land; it was a very good Christmas. Very happy all around.

This morning I went to visit The Nephew – and yes, as predicted, not a single photo was taken. Too busy hanging with my best little guy. I always do that. He greeted me at the door with an epic case of four-year-old bedhead and wearing the happiest pair of Christmas pajamas you’ve ever seen, with Santa and the reindeer in rocketships. “AUNT AMY!” he said. “Hey, buddy, Merry Christmas! Did Santa visit you today?” “YES!” he said. “Do you want to see my presents?” “Yes, I do, but I have to take my boots off first, ok?” He sighed, a long-suffering sigh. “Oh-KAY,” he said, and waited none-too-patiently for me to take off my outer layers so I could look at all of his Christmas goodies.

He got LEGOS! And an ANT FARM! And a TRUCK! And a SPIDERMAN THAT CLIMBS THE WALL! (That one confused me; I had utterly no idea how that thing was staying on the wall, to be honest. It was loud like a vacuum. Maybe it was vacuuming itself to the wall? No clue. It was pretty neat, though)…

This is the Spiderman that sounds like a vacuum. He also does sweet donuts on the wall which make Nephews laugh and laugh.

This is the Spiderman that sounds like a vacuum. He also does sweet donuts on the wall which make Nephews laugh and laugh.

…and some games and books and cars and a game for his LeapPad where he got to be a pirate and “get DOUBLOONS, Aunt Amy!” He wanted to make things with his gigantic Lego set, but it was time for brunch and that was going to be a whole thing. So we lured him away from Legos with the promise of cinnamon rolls, which he called “monkey bread” and said was his favorite food of ALL TIME! and then we had a conversation called “what animals eat.” “Do you think monkeys eat monkey bread?” “Yes!” “What do you think rhinoceroses eat?” “RHINOCEROUS bread!” “What about hippos?” “Hippo bread!” “What about nephews?” “NEPHEW bread! But also monkey bread, because it’s my favorite!”

This is The Nephew's FAVORITE! (Also universally enjoyed by monkeys, apparently.)

This is The Nephew’s FAVORITE! (Also universally enjoyed by monkeys, apparently.)

Then we opened presents. I got him books, which he was ok with, but then he was like, “Aunt Amy, is there anything else for me, do you think?” and I said, “Yes, I think there might be” and then he opened his remote-control plane and he was MOST excited and ran around driving it here, there and everywhere and laughing when it ran into people and his mom said I won because that was the longest he’d played with ANY of his toys that day. I WIN! (I do so like to win Christmas.)

This was a pretty neat plane, if I do say so myself. You could control it with your body AND a button. Very high-tech and swanky!

This was a pretty neat plane, if I do say so myself. You could control it with your body AND a button. Very high-tech and swanky!

I also got lovely presents like the most beautiful jewelry! The Nephew’s mom is very good as shopping. She has excellent taste!

Then we played Superhero Chutes and Ladders. I got to be Iron Man. (I kept saying, “I AM IRON MAN” in my best Robert Downey Jr. voice, which made me totally happy.) He wanted to be Ice Man, who was really Silver Surfer but when The Nephew says “NO! IT IS ICE MAN!” you listen to him, yo. So we Chuted and we Laddered and when The Nephew realized he wasn’t going to win he was like “I think I don’t want to play anymore” and then cheered for his mom, but then I SNUCK IN FROM BEHIND AND WON! Much like Iron Man would, I think. And then The Nephew said, “I wanted you to win all along, Aunt Amy” which was a very politician-like thing to say. Well-played, The Nephew. Well-played.

Damn you, chutes! DAMN YOU!!!

Damn you, chutes! DAMN YOU!!!

Then it was time for me to go home, so The Nephew could go to his other grandparents’ house for ANOTHER Christmas (he gets lots of Christmases!) and so I could open MY presents. YAY FOR PRESENTS! The Nephew told me he loved me and Merry Christmas AND thank you and gave me a heroic little hug with his cuddly pajamas and poky-uppy sleepy hair and my Grinch heart grew three sizes that day.

Then it was home for me, and I totally put off opening presents for another hour while I emailed and generally futzed around on the internet because a., I wanted to tell my people Merry Christmas, and b., because the longer I could put off opening gifts, the longer Christmas would last. I’m no fool!

But then it was opening gifts time. And whoo, was there a lot of opening gifts all up in here! I got money and an ornament shaped like sparkly bacon and gloves that are specially formulated for using your smartphone while staying warm, and sparkly nailpolish, and honey to put in tea (because for some reason my grocery store is hiding it, and I really wanted that while I was sick and was SO SAD I couldn’t find it) and gift cards and warm socks and super-cuddly pajama pants and lots of soap and pampering-myself things because I am obsessed with them and these solar light things that look like little frogs that I can put on my porch, and a toy for Dumbcat that’s supposed to be a mouse that runs around in a circle but he’s just confused about it and walks away from it whenever I turn it on, and a cookbook of bacon-related recipes called Fifty Shades of Bacon (hee!) and salt and pepper shakers that look like kissing penguins and lip gloss that smells delicious and pins to put in my hair to make me look like a lady and delicious chocolatey treats and all the orange Tic Tacs because I am obsessed with them and MANY MORE THINGS that I probably should have documented but I’m not the best at such things. In summation: I got all the things for Christmas. No one else got any things, apprently, because I got them ALL! (Thanks, Mom and Dad and BFF and Nanny and The Nephew’s Mom!)

Crappy photo of gifts, post-opening. I'm not the best at documenting things.

Crappy photo of gifts, post-opening. I’m not the best at documenting things.

Then I made a delicious meal, thanks to my mother, who provided all the items FOR that meal, and now I am completely all’s-well-with-the-world and watching television and lazily thinking about going to bed so I can be prepared to go back to work tomorrow. Work’s going to be quiet this week. Most people took the rest of the week off. Which was probably smart, but I’m planning on saving as many of my vacation days as I can for next year…because BAM, I’m going to need 10 of them for late May/early June, yo. You need a couple of weeks if you’re flying off to Europe to visit some of your favorite folks, you see. IN LESS THAN FIVE MONTHS NOW! I mean. Not that I’m at all psychotically excited about it or anything. NO NO NOT ME.

So. It’s been a wonderful Christmas. It made up for last year’s terrible Christmas. MORE than made up for it. Also, were you aware that sometimes, the best gifts you get for Christmas aren’t even something you can wrap? I got a few gifts over the days leading up to Christmas that weren’t the kind you wrap, or the kind you put in a gift bag – and you know what? Those gifts won Christmas. They were the kind that you can’t put a price on, because they’re priceless. Actions and deeds and kind gestures. So as much as I like winning Christmas (and I do, I SO do) – don’t underestimate the weight of a simple action, or word, or deed, especially around the holidays. They sometimes mean just as much, or more, than a gift you spent months shopping for, and wrapped in the prettiest of paper tied with a bow.

Huh. Guess you were right about this one, Grinch, you nasty, wasty wump!

Huh. Guess you were right about this one, Grinch, you nasty, wasty wump!

Hope you all had the best of Christmases, or Wednesdays. One more week until 2014. Can you even imagine? Come on, new year, let’s do this thing!


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