Sunday, December 21, 2008

The snow is coming down on this quaint New England town

We were definitely snowed in today. In fact, it hasn't stopped snowing since Friday. We were supposed to go to some friends' holiday party today, but it just wasn't smart to get on the roads. We did venture out on a walk to the store to get some eggs. I also tried to sled down our driveway, but it was not successful because the snow is too soft still. Supposedly, the worst is coming tonight with high winds and more snow. Love it!!!

It was so cold, even the cat needed a scarf today.

Despite the weather, J's Breakfast with Santa and Gingerbread House Workshop went off without a hitch. There were still 150 people at the breakfast! There was one leftover gingerbread house, so I made it and donated it to the the town's Operation Christmas program for needy families.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another dose of holiday spirit

I'm getting there hopefully. But in the meantime, here's proof that I can still smile during the rough times. The Concord Monitor took this picture last Saturday when J and I were on our way to a holiday dance in Concord. They were doing a special on hats.

I feel semi-happy today because today we are supposed to get a big storm. And I LOVE SNOW. So bring it. Just don't let it cancel J's two big Christmas events Saturday ... take two. These were supposed to happen last week! Time is running out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A wee bit of holiday spirit ...

I'm still down in the dumps, but this gave me a chuckle! Guess our dance lessons are paying off.

Happy holidays everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Music Therapy

If you haven't noticed, I haven't been blogging lately. I've definitely had the blues and there's a lot of crap going on right now that I don't feel like broadcasting across the blogosphere. In fact, I think the past week was one of the worst weeks in my life (1).

But I will say, last night, I received some much-needed music therapy (see Kellie, I hear ya!). J got us sold-out tickets for a very intimate concert (150 people max) with Carbon Leaf, quite possibly my favorite band right now. They played some acoustic and a capella, plus told some stories. J and I even talked with the mandolin/guitar player for a bit after the show. I literally cried during the concert because I was so happy. If you haven't heard them, let me know and I will gladly burn you a CD.

On a funny side note, they are doing the music for Curious George 2!

So, I will try to dig deep and get back into blogging more regularly. And let's hope things start looking up!

(1) This week was right up there with the week in college when I found out I was being removed from my position of Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, but still had to spend the whole night putting together the issue and act happy for my staff. That same week, my computer crashed and I lost a 10-pg English paper. I'm sure there were other things going on that seem insignificant now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The dishes are done, dude

Crickets? Anyone else hear crickets around here? Sorry for my lack of blogging, but here's a delayed recap of Thanksgiving weekend. The visit from MamaFashion and SILMeow included:

Dare I say a delish meal??

Lots of Scrabble!

A road trip to Vermont to visit MamaFashion's old friends. Here we all are the Harpoon Brewery.

Look what we came across in some hodunk Vt town!!!
Another $4.99/lb lobster sale!!

A tour of J's town and a visit to Marklin Candles, which is the company that made the candle for the Papal Mass in April. J knows the owner and he was kind enough to give us a behind-the-scenes tour of the candle-making process.

Thanks guys for visiting us and for the good memories!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


My family always had a tradition to go around the table and say what we’re all thankful for. Figured I’d share with you all.
Yes, more gushing on him. He is truly my partner in crime and I’m amazed to have met someone who matches my personality so well. I can’t imagine life without him!
Both J and I have great families who are supportive of us. We may not be close in miles, but close in every other way. My family has lots of health issues this year, and while it has been tough, it’s reassuring to know we can be “there” for each other and stay strong.
It’s great having friends strewn across the country because usually no matter where we travel, there’s someone to visit. And I love catching up with my girlfriends at random times; it’s usually the time I need it the most.
We both enjoy our jobs on most days, but it’s just reassuring to have A job in this economy. Fingers crossed for the future.
Being a health care writer, I read about the most horrible diseases. And I’ve seen some of them first-hand with my own father. But, I am thankful that I am pretty healthy.

I know this isn’t the most invigorating post I’ve written, but I wanted to wish y’all a Happy Thanksgiving and tell you thank you for reading my blog!!!!

In the meantime, Mama Fashion and SILMeow will be arriving shortly for our Thanksgiving celebration ... let the eating begin.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

One more thing ...

I blog as a way to procrastinate my writing assignments. Can you tell?

So I just wanted to note some observations about the restaurants in N'awlins.
*There's far too much seafood on the menus.
*They always bring you bread in a bag.
*Three servers are assigned to each table--one for drinks (too bad I always order water), one for the meal and one for desserts. I'm not sure what it accomplishes, but I would hate to have to share my tips like that!

Okay, back to finish my last story from the conference.

It's time to go home

I've been in New Orleans too long ... someone on the street asked ME for directions when I was walking home from my afternoon session today. I was able to correctly give them the directions!

I miss this guy ...

Oh, and this guy ...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pop goes my ears

My ears tend to pop when I fly. Well, I feel like I've been flying everyday this week. Did I mention I'm back in the Bayou for business? Been here since Wednesday and leaving Sunday. Different hotel, different conference, different coworker. Anyways, I am staying on the 34th floor in this hotel and every time I go up and down, my ears are popping!


For my 100th post, I give you this ...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Town politics

I know I give my husband kudos for his job publicly often, but it is with good reason, so bear with me one more time.

I have to give a little background before getting into my little story, so here goes. J is the recreation director for a small town. He is his own boss, except for the fact that 5 Selectmen run the town. This is the form of government in most NH towns. They meet each Monday and essentially drive all the big decisions in town. J’s town is very nice. I would even go so far to call it upscale. The school system is just about the best in the state (the governor’s kids go there) and there are a just a lot of benefits to living there. Recreation is one of them. The department is fairly new (<6 years) and used to be run by volunteers, but then grew too big for just volunteers. It continues to grow under J’s direction. But lately, he’s been hitting some brick walls.

I mentioned that it is budget season, so J is fighting hard for his department. His proposed budget first went through Selectmen cuts. He walked away with a 2009 budget that is a 6 percent decrease from 2008. Now his budget goes to a budget committee, who will definitely make more suggested cuts. Once they make those decisions, it will go to town meeting in March for the people to decide. For the most part, the town supports recreation. The problem is not with the townspeople themselves, but with the chairman of the Selectmen.

The "problem child" selectman has been circulating emails trying to break down recreation support, among other town highpoints (like the free ambulance service!). He keeps claiming he is pushing for these actions only because he wants to lower property taxes, but the truth is, taxes are high everywhere in NH, not just this one town. And by cutting some of these perks to living there, he is essentially diminishing the quality of life. Really, his attempts just seem like a personal vendetta, for whatever reason, again recreation.

Monday night was another long and dreaded Selectmen meeting. J went to the meeting for something other than the vicious emails, but there were others there demanding some explanation from the big bad wolf. I think I realized why this “stress” never bothers J. It’s because other people get fired up enough for him. Monday’s meeting was a true display of the kind of support J has in the town. People stood up and sung his praises for the kind of recreation he provides. No, seriously, he got a standing ovation for the hard, underappreciated work he does. The tax clerk, who has been in the position for a gazillion years, called this man out on his lies and asked him to step down. Boy did that get a roar from the audience!

So while J still has to deal with the Selectmen, at least he can know of the support he has from the town. It’s really nice. We keep our fingers crossed that this continues for town meeting in March, should anything big come up for cutting.

Overall, J does love his job. But it is challenging, especially in an economy where “luxuries” like recreation are put on the back burner. We laugh that he is gaining incredible experience from working in a small town with this unique form of government. When he applies for his next job and they ask what his biggest challenge was, he can seriously say "take your pick …" Maybe it was that his senior center was burned by an arsonist while it was still being built. Or maybe it was that certain people were fighting to have his position eliminated. That ought to show his ability to work well under pressure!

Monday, November 17, 2008

An unexpected visit

SILmeow called us last week and said she would be in Boston on business Friday. We actually had nothing going on (wow.), so she extended her stay through Sunday! We met up with her in Salem, Mass., intending to tour the witching town. But, because our lazy butts couldn't get out of bed early enough Sat morning and because we hit a lot of traffic outside of Boston (big surprise), we only had enough time to watch the film in the visitor center and eat (and sample beers of course) at a local brewery.

So, the witches will be explored some other day.

J got wind of another lobster sale in our local grocer (it's been happening quite often lately), so we decided to cook some lobsters at home for dinner. The lobsters were ... wait for it ... $4.99/lb! We got 3 lobsters for $18.99. Most times in the restaurants you pay $24.99 for one 1-lb lobster! Woo woo!

Here are J and SILmeow doing the happy lobster dance:

And here we are sending the lil guys to their death. I look horrified, but really I was excited! Such is the nature of the food chain and they were extremely yummy in my tummy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A picture of health

Since I’m surrounded by cardiologists this week, I decided to get a blood workup health assessment. J and I were just talking about how we probably should get our cholesterol tested since we don’t watch what we eat in terms of low-fat products (mayo, butter).

Good news everyone. I passed with flying colors. My cholesterol, triglyceride, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels are all well above average. Which is good because I am very excited to eat some of the banana bread J made for my homecoming tomorrow!

And J got his blood pressure tested at his senior center the other day and was totally fine. Very surprising since it’s budget season for him and he spent 4.5 hours at a Selectmen meeting Monday night defending his severely cut budget. I would think that’s enough to negatively impact anyone’s BP, but not J’s!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Feeling a little nostalgic

This post is to pat myself on my own back.

I am covering the annual meeting for the American Heart Association this week. You may have seen some news coverage on the research presented here in the past few days because it is one of the biggest conferences around.

Anyways, it was, indeed, my very first conference coverage back in 2002. Imagine this. Sent to Chicago to cover the conference. Not only my first business travel trip (first time taking a taxi!), but new city for me at that time. The conference itself was just huge and overwhelming (and still is. Today, there were about 5,000 people in one of my sessions). Just 2 months into the job, I was still unfamiliar with any medical terms, let along the 100s of acronyms used in cardiology and the 100s of complicated drug names. Couple that with the fact that being this is one of the largest conferences around, people from all around the world come to it. This means lots of speakers with foreign accents. Not good for the lil girl who doesn’t even understand the basic terms in plain English. Big gulp.

So here I am 6 years later and I see how far I’ve come as a medical writer. I am still frantically writing notes when attending sessions, but I don’t have to hyperventilate (as much) when the speakers start spewing off acronyms like STEMI, TVR (not to be confused with DVR) or CABG. In case you’re interested, these stand for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, target-vessel revascularization, and coronary artery bypass graft, respectively. Oh, and when the speakers pronounce myocardial infarction without the “r,” I just smile and know what they are trying to say.

You go girl!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Catchy commercials

One of my many quirks is that I secretly love certain commercials. I mean, there are times when we're watching TV and will mute through all the commercials, but sometimes I can be mesmerized by a silly commercial! Catchy jingles, funny story lines, I eat it up. For example, I don't remember what phone company it was (see how effective advertising is on me), but I L.O.V.E. the commercials when the person's phone drops the call at a crucial point in the conversation. And the Apple commercials. Oh, and the Travelocity nome commercials crack me up. You get the point.

My latest love-hate relationship has been with the Toyota commercial with that song, "Saved by Zero" by The Fixx. At first, I was all, this song is cool. Now it just gets stuck in my head and is annoying. I also read an article that is has actually enraged others! Interesting.

Oh by the way, I'm in N'awlins for business. This is why I am procrastinating, I mean working very hard, on the computer on a Sunday night. But I do love the food here so it makes it all worth it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

10:30 in the PM

What will you be doing at 10:30pm tonight? Probably getting ready for bed, or in bed sleeping already ... Not us. Because the stupid people who make our soccer schedule have us playing a 52-minute game at 10:30pm!!! WTF?

Crossing fingers that our whole team shows up because that would be some fine dedication. Not to mention worth it for the rest of us who dragged our lazy butts out of the house in the rain for the game!

Damn we're going to be tired Friday ...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Celebrity Sighting

Raise your hand if you know who this is!
Friday night (Halloween), we were eating at Limoncello in the North End (Boston) with MamaFashion, who was there on business. In walks Frankie Avalon to sit at the table next to us! Even though I knew of the name Frankie Avalon, I couldn't really tell you what he sang, other than "Beauty School Dropout" from Grease. We were trying to encourage MamaFashion to flirt a little bit, but she only drooled. I did speak directly to him as I was walking out. He nodded and wished me a good night. How dreamy. I was pretty excited to have a celebrity sighting. I'm fairly certain it's my first . . . if I've had others, they didn't leave an impression on me!

Great food at Limoncello's, by the way. We actually had a great time in Beantown. Had dessert at a nice cafe while observing some very creative Halloween costumes on North Street. Then ate at a neat hole in the wall, The Daily Catch.

While I'm talking about the weekend, I'll just fill in the rest. Sunday we took our first trip to Mohegan Sun Casino in CT. It was a J-sponsored trip for "work." Cough.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloweenie!

Just wanted to share some pictures from J's Haunted House that his Rec Dept. hosted for the town last Sunday. This is one of his BIG events. When I say big, I mean planning starts in July. This year had an alien theme. It was a success and couldn't be complete without ...

A homemade spaceship

An alien and a victim

A crash analysis site where the government was investigating the pieces of the spaceship.

A toxic waste dump site where someone got too close and suffered ...

and the awesome volunteers!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We’ve hit the 2-year mark. We are no longer newlyweds!

The saying is true. Time flies when you're having fun!

So two years ago, we had not just one wedding, but two celebrations! The first and bigger one was in Jersey (Oct. 28) and included friends from so many walks of life. There was a little rain and chill, but lots of love in the air. It was a very fall-festive atmosphere. There was even butternut squash soup and a very, very creative cake! There was lots of drinking and celebrating until the wee hours of the morning. There was tons of dancing and good music. There were tears of joy. The memories are good. Enjoy my little mosaic I made to commemorate the main event!And now to celebrate us and bore you with more details, I decided to partake in one of those silly surveys.
How long have you been together? 6 years total
How long did you date? 4 years.
How old are you both? I just turned the big 3-0 and J just turned the big 3-2.
Who eats more? That’s hard to answer. I love to eat. He looks like he doesn’t eat, but can certainly pack it away. I definitely taught him about dessert. When I met him, he was all, “I don’t like sweets and don't eat desserts.” Now he’s all, “what are you having for snack tonight?”
Who said "I love you" first? Me. I think I scared him, but I was just so excited to fall in love with such a wonderful person. His feelings are all caught up now (I think?) …
Who sings better? Let’s just say neither of us should quit our day job.
Who is smarter? J has an additional degree than I do, but I can certainly outspell him.
Whose temper is worse? I get fired up easier, but neither of us have a fierce temper.
Who does the laundry? This is a 75-25 relationship. I absolutely abhor folding, so that’s when I call in J for assistance.
Who does the dishes? Definitely 50-50. Although J likes to perform this magic trick where he waves his hands over the sink in the morning and when he comes home, the dishes are done dude.
Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? No one … everyone just comes to my side of the bed to snuggle and try to push me off.
Who pays the bills? Me, although I shouldn’t be. I’m bad with numbers. More of a word girl.
Who is better at the computer? Here’s where J’s temper will fly. I definitely excel when it comes to computer knowledge, and that’s not saying much.
Who mows the lawn? Our landlord Short Shorts. And for the house in Danville, that would be our homeless friend James.
Who cooks dinner? We cook together usually. It’s one of our favorites things to do together.
Who drives when you are together? 50-50. Especially now that J has mastered the stick shift.
Who pays when you go out? The joint credit card.
Who is more stubborn? Me. I wear my hat proudly.
Who wears the pants in your family? We only wear skirts in this family. JK … we both wear them from time to time.
Whose parents do you see most? Definitely the Ks. That’s what happens when you move to a location that is within driving distance. Second up would be J’s dad.
Who kissed who first? J claims I went for the kiss first, but I swear it was mutual.
Who proposed? J did it while we were backpacking in Havasu Canyon.
Who has more friends? Probably equal
Who has more siblings? J has the 2 sistas, I just have 1.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let's hear it for the boys!!

Hallmark4Ever's baby finally decided to make HIS appearance. That's right, she had a boy (Shadow, you were dead on with your prediction).
Robert Thomas
Oct. 24 at 6:49pm (only 6 days past his due date!)
8 lbs 4 oz
21.5 inches
Can't wait to meet him!

So I realized, between J and I, we've had 9 friends have babies in 2008. No need to point out that we have a number of prolific friends. My main point is that so far, they've ALL been boys!!! So if you are pregnant and expecting in 2009 (and you know who you are), I'm going to venture to say it's going to be a girl! New year, new sex. It's gotta be.

Friday, October 24, 2008

You know you're a medical writer when

… your friends and family members start calling you for medical advice.

… someone gets a really confused look on their face when you tell them what you do for a living. Then politely walks away.

Just wanted to check in and say things are going well. I feel very at home with my fellow medical writers. Heading home late Saturday night! Yippee!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting Goth

J and I went to a Halloween Ball this weekend at our dance studio (yes, we are still taking some dance lessons). The theme was "goth." Can you tell? Our dance instructors told us we had way too much fun dressing up.

Okay, I'm off to the 'villes for work!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A message from the "mister" of the house

I have some crazy owners. One came home, the other left. I don't know what to make of it. They're always in and out! Well, out more than they're in, I suppose. All I know is my food and water bowl better be filled and my poop scooped. That's all I ask. My life is simple. Eat. Sleep. Poop.

Peace out homies,
Mr. McKinley

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Business Tripping

The next few weeks will be dotted with nothing but business trips for both J and I.

Tomorrow I head to the great city of Boston (that was meant to have some sarcasm) to cover a conference on pediatrics. I’m not happy that my trip to Beantown once again coincides with the baseball craziness, as my hotel is literally 2 blocks from Fenway. “That’s exciting,” you may say. Maybe so, but not the business traveler who is scrambling to find a restaurant with less than an hour wait so he/she can hurriedly try to gather food between sessions or before heading back to the hotel to spend the night writing.

**Cue violins playing in the background**

I return Monday evening with enough time to give J a high five as he heads out to Baltimore for his annual Rec Directors conference. What could they possibly do at their conference? You guessed it. They play wiffle ball during the day and drink beer in the evenings while complaining about their small budgets. I could be exaggerating, but I assure you his conferences are much more fun than mine!

He returns Saturday, and we may have a half weekend in there. Then I leave that Monday for a combined trip to Nashville and Louisville. Nashville will just involve a visit to my headquarter office to meet more new writers and editors. In fact, I will making a 4-hour drive up to Louisville with one of the new editors, who actually is sort of one of my bosses. I hear he is very friendly and well, I survived a Greyhound trip across the US with strangers, so it can’t be that bad. In Louisville, I will be taking more classes to receive my medical writing certification. Folks, it’s a long and costly process, so don’t get too excited for me yet. But I am really pumped for those classes and that conference because it will be all writers. Writers are fun to hang with. Didn’t you know that?

So hopefully I'll find blog material in between all of that. I’m sure I will!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

J has a protege

Oooh, that rhymed. Well anyways, J's childhood friend, theBuddha, had a baby yesterday. On J's bday (remember?). We're still in shock by this, but, his friend and girlfriend decided to carry on J's name since the little guy was born on the 6th. So I present to you Cody Justin, all 8 lbs, 9 oz of him. For the sake of the parents, I hope little J doesn't follow exactly in his master's footsteps. Wait, did I say that? I meant, let's hope little J DOES follow in his master's footsteps!
October is certainly a busy birthday month. Today is QuickQuestion's bday!!! The best birthday present of all for her ... three hours without Bones and CurlyLocks so she could clean up her desk area and art supply closet. That's just typical for my sista!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Someone is getting older ...

***total cheese warning. Stop reading if you don’t do mushy.***
Today is a big day. Today is J’s 32nd anniversary of his birthday. I can never really match his birthday planning awesomeness (e.g. my surprise 30th bday party), but I did try this weekend and will continue today. Everything tonight will be topped off with a night at the bar watching Monday night football.

Anyways, I just want to say some words about my wonderful husband. He makes me exquisitely happy. He is my perfect match. We agree on virtually everything and I almost think he knows me better than I know myself. The other day, I was adding music to my i-Pod and asked him for suggestions. He rattled off everything I would like and wouldn’t like. And he was right on. Anyone who knows J knows he is a big joker. Although he can be serious if he needs to be, there is always that relaxed and silly nature to him. He makes me not just laugh, but crack up, just about every day. He can snap me out of a mood at any moment. I still get those girly butterflies when he is coming home from work. I look forward to every moment we spend together (and we spend A LOT of time together). I really try to appreciate what we have and who he is. So thanks J for being you. And happy birfday buddy!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Leaf Peepin'

We became leaf peepers this weekend, the term New Englanders use for those who swarm to the Northeast during the fall. We hiked Mt. Tecumseh in Waterville Valley, the lowest of the 4,000-footers in the state. There are 48 on the official list to enter the higherpointer club in NH; this made 8 for us. We were the ONLY people on the trail, which was so great. Instead of coming back down the trail, we came down the ski slope, or rolled down I should say! And the leaves, yeah, they were extremely vibrant. I know why so many people come to New England to see the fall.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I don't talk politics with just anyone

My favorite question of last night's debate was when the moderator asked (paraphrased), "So, both of you are just a heartbeat away from the presidency. If that were to happen, how would your policies/ideas change?"

Oh, and one more thing. I love how they assume "we" do all our worrying about health care and money at our kitchen tables. I don't know about y'all, but we do ours in a fetal position in the corner.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I guess anything can count as a job released its list of the most unusual jobs in 2008. Here are some that made me go hmmm.

Cat nanny
Donkey trainer
Kitty litter box decorator
Nuclear electrician on a submarine
Parachute tester
Romance specialist
Scratcher (scratched backs for patients)
X-ray technician for zoo animals
Yawn counter at a sleep clinic

Monday, September 29, 2008

He was a neat and organized man, that much we knew

Surprise, surprise, no flight delays! I think that may be a first. We did hit some turbulence, and other flights were delayed, but Southwest got three stars from me. I rarely fly them, but I’m happy we did this time.

So this weekend was kind of weird. Like I said, we went down South pack up Uncle SlickG's deceased friend's (Paul) townhouse. It was very odd to go through this man's personal belongings. Here we were deciding what was important to keep and what wasn't. It just got to me. I am a saver (I do try not to be, but it's in my blood) and J is definitely a saver. Someday, someone is going to be going through our stuff and saying, now why the hell did she save this essay from 6th grade? Or why was J saving all these cassette tapes when he can't even play them anymore? Granted, Uncle SlickG could probably have hired a company to go through his stuff and discard/sell, but I almost think that's worse. We actually walked away still with a ton of stuff (I hesitate to say crap, because to him it was the most worldly possessions) that is in storage at our house in Danville and Uncle SlickG will someday have to go through as he figures out Paul's estate.

Besides those deep thoughts, this whole experience has pushed J and I a little further along in our will-making process. Not that we've run out and made one yet, but it is creeping up on our to-do list. Paul had a will and made Uncle SlickG the executor. Lots of responsibility, but Uncle SlickG is taking his role seriously. Minor problem, though, no one can find the will. Let me put it simply, no will, lots of roadblocks.

But still, here's to Paulie. The man who loved outdoor adventure and road trips, Civil War and computer books and saving things. Thank you for being so clean and organized. Now if you could just send us a sign where your will may be (I swear, we've checked everywhere).

On a lighter note, we spent all of 5 hours in Danville unloading, showering, scarfing down pizza with friends and realizing the house next to us was broken into AGAIN in the past month (but not ours! ADT is built to protect!). Moonshine and his wife Prom Queen drove us to the airport and had us laughing the whole time. Many of you have heard stories of our friend Moonshine. Now we have some more.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Off to Dville

Do you think we could have picked a better weekend to fly down to North Cackalacki? I mean, there's only two hurricanes/tropical storms going on along the Eastern seaboard right now. So who wants to take bets on how delayed we will be tonight when we fly out and how delayed we will be when we try to return Sunday night?

Long story, but we're not really going down there to check on the Dville house, although that is a bonus. Uncle SlickG's friend used to live in Raleigh and passed away very suddenly a few months ago (very sad). So we're going down there to help him move all of the friend's stuff out of his rented condo and to our big empty house in Dville so Uncle SlickG can stop paying the $1100 in rent while he figures out the will. It's the least we can do since Uncle SlickG helped us move last summer! Come to think of it, we actually owe many people a hand in moving with all our moves over the years ...

On a completely different note, my niece CurlyLocks had her tonsils removed last week. She's slowly recovering and is a trooper, but can I just say stitches in the throat ... gross. I write about medical stuff, but I can't stomach looking at it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Go farmers!

J is one my most faithful readers of the blog and he has been asking me to do my post on Farm Aid ever since we got home at 3am Sunday morning. So here goes.

Farmers are outstanding in their field. No really, people, they are. So support them. (PS SILAdventure, I got about 8 comments on your shirt and many more "aha" looks.)

We try to buy locally grown food because it's healthier and well, we have a thing for mom-and-pop businesses. But society makes it a little hard on the pocketbook sometimes. So we attended the Farm Aid concert on Saturday, an all-day event that has been going on for 20+ years around the country and raises lots of money for local family farms. That way we supported the farmers and got to hear some great tunes!

We thoroughly enjoyed the concert. We didn't tailgate a lot, but enough to watch some kids near us get busted for underage drinking (again, I feel old because we didn't get carded). Anyways, it was a great event with an incredible lineup. Here are just a few: Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Jerry Lee Lewis (man he can play piano like no other), Neil Young, moe., Nation Beat (a new band to us that I really liked) and many others. J and I liked Mellencamp the best. First time seeing him, which is amazing for J because he's seen just about everyone. The picture below, if you can see it, has all the artists on stage together at the end.

Sadly, our summer concert series is over (although J may have one other lined up in November). I know J can't wait to see who's up for next summer!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ethan Allen, Ben & Jerry, Beer

What do all these things have in common? Well, they all represent Vermont!!!

J and I took a 3-day trip to the Burlington area and of course, made the most of it. Here are highlights in no particular order:

Ethan Allen’s homestead – If you are like me, you might think Ethan Allen was (and still is) a famous furniture maker. But, um, he isn’t at all. Here’s a little history for ya! He was a Revolutionary War hero who was basically the reason Vermont became a state. You see, New Hampshire owned all of Vermont’s land back in the 1770s and New York was trying to claim some it. So Ethan Allen instituted the “Green Mountain Boys” and fought to make Vermont a state of its own!
Lake Champlain – the plan was to kayak on the lake one of the days we were there. BUT, the remnants of Ike curtailed those plans as the lake turned into an ocean and kayaking was just not a safe option.

Ben & Jerry’s – You can’t go to Vermont without visiting the original site where the infamous hippies, Ben & Jerry, sold their ice cream in the 1960s (the gas station is no longer standing). We toured the original manufacturing site and sampled some of the delicious cream of ice. Very cool (no pun intended) and informative.
Mayor – We met the mayor of Burlington. Okay, he really isn’t the mayor, but this is SILAdventure’s buddy from college and he could be the mayor. That guy knows everyone and everything in Bton. He is by far one of the most interesting people I’ve met with his stories and crazy innovative ideas.

Beer – Burlington has 5 different breweries (um, there are only about 40,000 people in town). We pub crawled to 4 of them and J drank probably 13+ beers as a result. I’m sure he found a favorite beer, but does he remember? I don’t think so.
Mt. Mansfield – Staying true to our goal of hiking the highest peak in each state, we hit our 5th one. It’s just about at 4,400’, so we didn’t have to negotiate weather too much, although apparently the summit is generally without a view because of Vermont’s fog. The hike was a bit more crowded than we like (with lots of people from up North … Hey!), but the trail was nice in that it kicked our butts. When we were hiking the ridge above treeline, we even encountered a porcupine!!!! Man, those spikes are ginormous!!!

Camping – We ended up camping IN the city of Burlington. Usually we like to be out in the wilderness, but we wanted to be accessible to the city for the nightlife. Well, the campground turned out to be really awesome. And we didn’t even know we were surrounded by civilization. The nights were adventurous—we got hit with torrential downpours and crazy winds. J even said at one point he thought we should go sleep in the car in case a tree fell on us … we hoped for the best and did just fine.

Church Street – Burlington has an incredible pedestrian walkway and there seemed to ALWAYS be something going on. For example, while we were waiting to go to 80s night at one of the bars, we got to watch Sex and the City (again) on a big screen outside!!! J was so elated. In fact it may have been his favorite part of the whole trip.

PS – I still have yet to see a moose in the New England area.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 years

I can't believe it's been 7 years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

I was living in Phoenix at the time and getting ready for work. SmokinHotRoommate came out of her room and said we needed to turn on the TV because a plane just hit a building in NYC. What? What a freakish accident, I thought. We sat there and watched as the second plane hit. Then I knew something was clearly wrong. It was surreal. We both left for work shortly after still without knowing what was going on. I called my dad's office in NE NJ when I got into work and asked his secretary what was going on in NY. "What? What do you mean? Nothing that we know of. I hit a little traffic going to work, but that's not unusual." Shortly after, my dad called me back after he found out information and we just sat speechless on the phone at the dreaded word that has become part of our everyday vocabulary ... terrorism.

There are so many devastating events that have touched our country throughout history. Some are even forgotten as time passes. But this is one that can't even be put into words. For me, it did touch home. Not in the way it did for those who lost loved ones, of course. The NYC skyline was an icon from my childhood. I was living on the West coast and wanted more than anything to be back in NJ with everyone at that moment. I called friends who I knew worked in the city and worried sick until I heard back from them. I knew our country and world would be changed.

So we remember today of the lives lost and the impact the attacks left. I know I will be saying some extra prayers today. I hope you will join me. Take a moment and remember. Feel free to share.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

No, they aren't paying me

I have to give kudos to the company, Hydrapak. Back before I was a gear addict, I bought a Hydrapak. In fact, it may have been my very first piece of gear. It was 2001 and my friend alerted me that he was buying a Hydrapak for $14.99 because it was on sale. What's a Hydrapak, I (and probably you right now) ask? It's a hydration system, duh. Really, it's just a huge water bottle (or bladder, as they call it) that you wear as a backpack. My sister loves to make fun of me when I wear it, but I assure her all the cool kids have one.

Anyways, getting back to 2001. My friend convinced me to buy one too, as I had my first backpacking trip to Havasu Canyon and I needed a good supply of water for the hike. Cool. I purchased it and loved it. Took it hiking, backpacking and running many, many times since 2001.

So now it's 2008 and I actually have two such packs--the other is a Camelbak brand that J got me. I still hold my Hydrapak near and dear to my heart, but I have to admit I use the Camelbak one more only because it is more of a day pack with other storage options beyond water.

Anyways, the point of this very long, nonsensical blog entry is that recently I used my Hydrapak and realized the bladder mouthpiece was broken. Remembering that Hydrapak had a lifetime warranty, I looked up their Web site and sure enough, they still stand by their brand. I popped the bladder in the mail and not 2 weeks later, received a brand-new one in the mail!!! The bladder they sent was definitely an upgrade from the one I had. Yippee!!!

Yes, I am that person who takes advantage of warranties. Knock it if you will, but it has saved me tons of dough! My favorite warranty story is when I bought a shredder on sale (for like $10) and it broke 2 weeks later. I called the company and they said don't bother sending it, but they will send me a new one. What arrived in the mail was the super shredder ... I mean the one that does the fancy criss-cross and like 20 pgs at a time. All it took was that simple phone call.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wastin' Away in Margaritaville

Thursday, J, theHoss (who was in town for a wedding) and I went to see Jimmy Buffet in concert! I was a Buffet virgin and J warned me that the tailgating was pretty insane. He wasn't kidding. Here was our setup.

But here's what other people had going on:

We had a good time drinking 'ritas and grilling up ...

But I must have drank too much because I needed a little break ...

I recovered in time for the concert, but some of us didn't ...