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There is a scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation where both sides of their family descend on their house at once. The doorbell rings and becomes a deep-booming bell tolling as if for a death or an execution. Everyone in the family stiffens in anticipation as the bell resounds through the house.

Bobby and I have been impersonating that bell all week because, in probably less than an hour, both sides of our family will arrive: two sets of parents, Amiah, and a Great Pyrenees, all added to the two people and two dogs that inhabit our single-wide trailer.

In reality, they won't be as bad as the Christmas Vacation family, and I'm looking forward to them being here, but I won't lie that I worry about myself as an introvert and how well I will handle a week of five extra people in the house with no room to escape to (because Bobby and I are sleeping on the couch so that our guests can have proper bedrooms).

In good news, this forced us to finish getting the house ready. We've been working about ten hours a day since my return from New York. That is why the video is not up yet! I'm sorry; if I can carve out some time while everyone is here, then it is a top priority. But ... the house is now ready. I am writing this from my study with like bookshelves and things and no skyscraper of boxes piled behind me. The house looks beautiful. I took a bunch of pictures of it but need to hook up Dropbox on my phone to my account so that the photos go automatically to my computer. And this should mean no more long days of manual labor. We'll have the fence to install once the materials are finished--the fencing is being made by a local logger with trees harvested right here in Vermont--but that's the only big job left.

It hasn't been all work (although it has been MOSTLY work). Last night, we took our kayak to the north beach at Willoughby and launched at sunset, paddled out just far enough that we were comfortably in the middle of the lake, then watched the nearly full moon rise over the mountains. A cabin on the western shore was shooting off fireworks, so we got an impromptu fireworks show over the water. It was actually chilly. Sorry, everyone to the south who is suffering under that "heat dome"! One of the differences between Maryland and Vermont is that you are allowed to use the natural spaces at night--in Maryland they close at dusk--because the assumption is that you are enjoying the natural spaces at night and not up to something nefarious like dealing drugs or burying a body.

They should be here in less than an hour! Wish me luck!
Several years ago, the Felagund family used to make an annual trek every December to New York City for the day. It was a nice day: time for a leisurely lunch, to wander around the city, capped off with the Radio City Rockettes' show, and followed by a walk back to the bus that involved an inevitable stop for sandwiches at Pret a Manger. Then, under the pretense of The EconomyTM, the bus company stopped running this trip. This year, they started it back up again (perhaps because The EconomyTM has supposedly improved).

Dad asked if we wanted to go, and the decision was instantaneous: Of course we did! To make matters even better, the trip was on a Thursday this year--it had always been on a Monday before, the one day of the week that the Met is closed--so I indulged a fantasy of meeting [personal profile] heartofoshun for lunch, taking the subway to mill about the Met for a couple of hours, and returning in plenty of time to see the show.

But then we got the itinerary. Read more... )
Bobby and I and my parents decided a few weeks ago that we wanted to go to Ocean City for the holiday weekend. It was a short trip--we left Friday around noon and came home today--but was very, very nice; I wish I was still there. Friday morning, Bobby left for Liberty Mountain to get first chair on their opening day of the season, which was--like last year--unusually early. (The Western resorts like Jackson Hole and Vale also opened this weekend.) He returned ecstatic, having spent the morning on snow that he said was more like January snow than November.

While he was gone, I rushed around getting things ready so that we could leave as soon as he came home. The Goldens knew that something was up as soon as the suitcase came out. As soon as their leashes and seatbelts followed, I had Alex on my heels for the rest of the morning. Despite having been thoroughly exhausted by the Thanksgiving festivities the day before, they managed to ratchet up some excitement for what they knew was an impending trip. Phil went to sleep in the car but Alex stayed awake for the whole three-hour ride.

We arrived in OC at around 3:30, only a couple minutes after my parents arrived. We were staying at the Fenwick Inn, which allows dogs in the wintertime. I took the Goldens to pee; they were both acting like wild animals and drove me crazy in just the short walk to the grassy spot where we take them and back to the hotel. We dropped them off in the room, knowing they were thoroughly exhausted enough to go right to sleep, and headed off to get a late lunch.

More and pictures below the cut! Including the tale of the old creaky hinge ... )

Atlantic City

Aug. 16th, 2014 03:59 pm
dawn_felagund: (beer wine beer)
Bobby and I went with my parents yesterday to Atlantic City. It is about two-and-a-half hours away, so we usually take a bus a couple of times per year for a day trip. The bus ticket costs $35, which includes a $25 casino voucher. I am not a fan of gambling; I don't find slot machines fun, and I have never won anything. (ANYTHING. Not even $20.) Bobby and I usually spend our combined $50 pretty quickly and spend the rest of the day on the beach, boardwalk, and pier. Bobby usually wins enough to pay for our lunch and the rest of our bus tickets, so we usually end up getting our trip for free.

We had beautiful weather: sunny and warm but not hot. We had our choice of three places to disembark; my parents prefer the Taj Mahal of the three available casinos (Showboat--closing at the end of the month!--and Bally's), which is at the north end of the boardwalk. We had lunch reservations at Carmine's in Tropicana at the south end of the boardwalk, so we played some of our vouchers (after waiting in an interminable line so that Bobby and I could get the vouchers put on cards, something the greeter used to do right on the bus but that now requires a slog across the casino, a long queue, and a much more drawn-out process). I broke my losing streak by winning a big $31.95 on a penny machine called Icarus while Bobby was off playing something called the Norse Warrior.

We took a taxi to the Tropicana; Carmine's was great, as always. Bobby and I were planning to make the 1.5-mile walk back up the boardwalk to Taj Mahal, and my parents decided they wanted to join us, so we started north, stopping into some of the shops along the way, and for breaks every few blocks for my dad, who is not much of a walker.

More & Pictures below the Cut )
I've been in Ocean City all this week (hence I'm quieter than usual, i.e., pretty much silent except for handling site-related stuff), home last night. It was a beautiful week for the beach and, all in all, pretty nondescript, which is sometimes exactly what a vacation needs to be.

My parents came down with us for the first half of the week. I woke up Sunday morning, post-beestung nose, with diffuse facial swelling that made me look rather like a non-cute Avatar character: non-cute because, unfortunately, the swelling didn't also come with large luminous eyes and blue skin; I just looked puffy and weird. We left on Sunday and got into town around 1:30 and had the traditional arrival lunch at Piezano's, then headed for the beach. The temperatures this week were in the low 80s (~27C), sunny, but with a breeze off the ocean that kept the beach cool. Actually, at times, it was almost chilly.

A breeze off the sea is not good for surfing, though, as it flattens the waves. Poor Bobby has had awful surfing all week. More and pictures below the cut! )
Welp, it's been a busy past few weekends, hence my relative silence here. Bobby and I have been spending most of our time outside, getting ready for planting season. Everything was crunched into April and the first few weeks of May (versus beginning in March) since we were under a blanket of snow for just about all of March. And last year, what with Bobby taking his Outdoor Emergency Care class for ski patrol and me physically unable to do much beyond moan and groan, we slacked off on things like weeding, so we have extra to do this year, since one thing weeds do very well is make more weeds and survive conditions that kills just about everything else living. (The latter attested by the number of plants we lost this winter: both blueberries, a holly bush, both rose trees, and the arborvitae, of course. We also have broadleaf evergreen shrub that is trying hard to live with some modest success after all the foliage on it dying this winter. But the dandelions are doing great! :)

Anyway, Mother's Day is the traditional planting day in central Maryland for tender plants, so true to tradition, we started to put our plants into the ground a week ago, which means that this week has been a lot of weeding, planting, fertilizing, mulching; weeding, planting, fertilizing, mulching; and so on. But everything is now in the ground and doing great.

I wish I could say the same for our bees. Bee-Talk Cut for Those Who Prefer to Avoid Bee-Talk :) )

We've also been busy socially, seeing friends on the weekend (sometimes accidentally! We went out for Indian on Friday, and I usually email our friends Tristan and Don to see if they want to meet us over there, but we decided to go so late that I didn't this time. But when we arrived, who had arrived only just shortly before us? So we got permission to combine our tables.) Last night, we hosted dinner for our parents as a belated Mother's Day dinner. We had a green salad, teriyaki chicken (asparagus quesadilla for me!), Bobby's incredible "island rice," grilled asparagus seasoned with that ubiquitous Maryland seasoning of Old Bay, and tres leche cake for dessert, topped with fresh strawberries and mango. Bobby made piña coladas and got the moms pretty soused. I was supposed to make strawberry ice cream, but every place we checked this weekend was sold out of local strawberries (Bobby had bought his for the cake earlier in the week), so I had to do vanilla instead.

We are dogsitting for our friend Dawn this weekend, so in addition to our two big dogs, we have her big black dog Duffy. And my inlaws, of course, brought their Great Pyrenees Bella, so the house was overrun with dogs. Big dogs.

More & Pictures below the Cut )
Bobby and I went to Ocean City again this weekend. We took the Goldens again and also met my parents this time. We had a great time. We took a half-day from work on Friday and made really good time getting there; the traffic over the Bay Bridge can be hell. We arrived 15 minutes after my parents and, after getting unpacked, headed to the beach. The shelling was really good again this time, and we found several sand dollars as well as a number of pretty shells.

Like last time, it was cold and windy when we arrived. Aside from the late-afternoon beach walk (which my parents skipped), we stuck indoors on Friday: went to dinner at Adolfo's, a lovely Italian restaurant on the Boardwalk, and went back to the hotel to hang around the pool. Saturday, though, the weather was gorgeous: 68F/20C, sunny, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Bobby and I took the Goldens down to the beach at about noon; within a few minutes, we had stripped down to summertime clothing and removed our shoes, the weather was so perfect. Not surprisingly, we were among the only people on the beach. I told Bobby that I thought it was fitting that we were probably among the first people of 2014 to sit on the OC beach in beach chairs! :D

We ended up staying for close to three hours and both of us ended up getting a little sun: not enough to hurt (and it's already faded, except for a very stark stripe across my right bicep) but enough to remind us that summer is coming. We went next to the Boardwalk. Poor Lance becomes frightened by too much excitement and noise, and this was the busiest we've ever had him on the Boardwalk. He is particularly frightened of people on skateboards, especially since, when we were there in February, there was a guy dressed in a blue Grateful Dead bear outfit that kept skateboarding past and terrified poor Lance. We had dinner reservations at 7 and so decided to have a snack while on the Boardwalk, so I held the Goldens on a bench, and Lance jumped up next to me and curled into a little ball as much behind my body as he could manage. People kept coming by, seeing Alex and exclaiming over him, followed immediately by, "Aww, there's another one!" when they saw Lance wedged in beside me.

Read more... )
About six months ago, Bobby and I decided we wanted to visit my sister and sister-in-law in England for the holidays. We haven't been able to make that happen in the eight-or-so years that Sharon has been here. So Tuesday night, we made the onerous overnight flight to London, then the short flight north to Newcastle. (Including a layover in Heathrow in which I fell soundly asleep in a chair and woke up after having drooled all down the front of my shirt.) We usually like to do a little excursion with Sharon and Kirsty during our visits to England, and this time, we decided to go to Lille, France, to visit the Christmas market there. (Lille is the third largest city in France and located in the north of the country, near the Belgian border.) So Thursday morning, having arrived in Newcastle the previous afternoon, we went back south by train, to London, and then onto Eurostar for our first trip to the Continent.

Onward for Pictures and Details ... )
Thanksgiving is one of Bobby's and my holidays, so this week has been a steady build-up toward the big day. We also have a Thanksgiving lunch at work, so Bobby made a turkey and I made three batches of ice cream for that. Then it was on to our own feast.

The menu included beer and cheese bread, pumpkin soup, "medieval" turkey (a Trader Joe's vegetarian turkey roll for me), stuffing*, mashed potatoes*, candied sweet potatoes*, maple squash medley, crispy green beans, sweet corn saute, garlic spinach, sesame broccoli, and sauerkraut with Polish sausage*. For dessert was pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll*, chocolate cream pie*, and vanilla bean ice cream. (Asterisks are on things Bobby and I didn't make.)

Bobby and I have done this enough times by now that everything was going seamlessly, and I even managed to keep up with the dishes in the kitchen so that, at the end of the night, all we'd have to wash were dinner plates, dessert plates, cups, and tableware. Lol. Famous last words. Everything was loaded onto the buffet table in the living room, everyone was starting to grab plates and go in, and ... CRASH. One end of the table had collapsed. Apparently, the table does not have locking legs. Suffice to say that table will not be used again for this purpose, and we will be obtaining one with locking legs for the future.

Thankfully, because only the one end collapsed, then everything just kind of slid down the table but remained mostly upright. Only the applesauce was completely upended. So, for the most part, everything could be picked up and carried into the kitchen and served from there. The plates were at the end of the table that didn't collapse, which would have been a potential disaster itself, as they are heavy and glass, and if even one of them broke in the food, that would have meant everything had to be thrown out. Thankfully, when my mom saw what was happening, she was at that end of the table and grabbed the plates before they could fall to the floor and break.

My parents were quick to remind me that, when I was a kid, one year at Thanksgiving, the kitchen table buckled and collapsed in the middle. Thankfully, dinner had already been served and no one was hurt. So it seems these near-disasters involving expensive meals and collapsing tables are somewhat of a family tradition. Probably because of the way my family cooks and eats.

Pictures beneath the Cut )
Yesterday was our annual Halloween party, much scaled back from prior years due to a number of reasons, not least of which was that Bobby and I didn't get ourselves organized till mid-month. There was only family in attendance, but we had a good time and served a good meal (always one of the major reasons why Bobby and I host parties!) We had potato-leek soup for the first course; barbecue chicken (with barbecue sauce made during Tropical Storm Irene last year), potatoes and green apples smothered in cheddar cheese, and spinach salads for the second course; and an assortment of desserts brought by the family for the final course. Dad made cookies and a delicious pumpkin cheesecake; my mother-in-law brought a "dirt cake." And, of course, we had hot buttered rum! Despite my abstaining from alcohol this week, I did have one cup. :^|

Pictures below the Cut )
We've been planning with my parents for a couple weeks now to take a day trip to Atlantic City. It's a little over two hours away, and a couple local bus companies have deals with the casinos where you get a certain amount of gambling money with the purchase of your ticket. Dad made the trip reservations for Friday, two days ago, for the four of us, my sis-in-law Erin and father-in-law, and a bunch of people my parents work with.

Early Friday morning, Bobby gets a call from my mom: They're not going to be able to go because she's taking my dad to the hospital. She's pretty sure he has appendicitis. :^|

Bobby and I get ready and get on the road; the bus is supposed to pick us up at the Park and Ride off of Cromwell Bridge Road, which is just under an hour away. (We live in the middle of nowhere, so that's actually a normal drive for us to get anywhere "civilized" that isn't Hanover or Westminster.) We get to the Park and Ride at 8:20, forty minutes before the bus is supposed to pick us up.

Read more... )
Edinburgh )
Departure and Arrival )

Holy Island and Berwick )

Whitby )
Bobby just got off the phone with my parents. During the conversation, my dad informed him that he'd been offered by his workplace ...

tickets to this past Sunday's playoff game
in the Skybox
on the 50-yard line.

And he turned them down.

He said to Bobby, "That wouldn't have interested you, would it?"

#*$#@&*$%!!!!!

No. No, Dad, no, that wouldn't have interested us at all!!!!

>:^(

Sorry, for the excessive exclamation points and general symbology but, as I just told Bobby, barring the chance that I become a famous author or one of us does something really awesome that makes us rich and famous, that might well have been the coolest game we would have ever attended.

New Years

Jan. 2nd, 2012 01:35 pm
dawn_felagund: Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. (little red riding hood)
New Years was low-key this year, i.e., no humorous familial intoxication. We went to my parents' house, per tradition; it was just us, plus sil Erin and Erin's friend Ashley. My mil stopped by for a while with Amiah, but Amiah gets really crazy if she stays up too late, so her bedtime was well before midnight.

Amiah brought over this Justin Bieber tour bus that she got for Christmas; I have to say that they didn't make toys like that when I was a kid! The amount of detail was pretty extraordinary, and you can plug an iPod into it to play (presumably Justin Bieber) music. And, okay, y'all can make fun of me ... but I watched the whole Justin Bieber movie with her too. >.< Hey, it gives my mil some much-needed grown-up time. That's my excuse.

I was never a fangirl of any boy singers or boy bands when I was younger. New Kids on the Block failed to romance me--although I remember dancing wildly with my sister to a tape our mom bought for us at the Price Club (she was probably trying to help us become cool, but that waren't happening!)--and by the time Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, et al came around, I was getting a little long in the tooth, although I did go with my very fangirly little sis-in-law Erin to see the Backstreet Boys in concert once. I remember telling a customer at The Piece that I was going, and she said, "Oh, how sweet of you to take your little sister--good luck putting up with the music!" and feeling embarrassed to tell her that Erin bought the tickets for me for my birthday! Ha! We definitely went more for Erin than for me, but we had fun and still talk about that concert.

After midnight, we watched Bridesmaids, since my mom makes anyone who drinks spend the night ... so yeah, we all had to spend the night.

Today is the last day of winter break. :( Tomorrow is back to the darlings. I have no idea what to expect from that; they were wild after Thanksgiving break, and this one was almost three times as long. I was thinking back to two years ago, when I took some time off around the holidays when I was still at the WAU, and I still remember the despair I felt at having to go back. It's nice to not have to despair about going back to work. I'm mostly not looking forward to having to get up early, and I was hoping to get a lot more planning done over winter break than I have.
Bobby and I celebrated Yule on the solstice. Last year, we started a new tradition of making each other a gift for Yule; this year, Bobby painted a landscape for me, and I wrote him a collection of poems related to the green man. I'll post them both later.

Christmas Eve, we drove up to El Rodeo for lunch, then Bobby made cookies while I prepared the various components of the German chocolate ice cream pie that I make every year for Christmas. Christmas is my parents' holiday, so we were going to their house. Bobby and I always have pizza for supper on Christmas Eve; this goes back to my childhood, when my dad always made a pizza, if not for supper, then later in the night. Bobby and I have continued observing that through the entirety of our marriage. We wrapped gifts, which is a bit more of an endeavor since, last year, we decided to do away with wrapping paper and now wrap our gifts in cloth that has to be stitched closed with yarn. It takes a bit more time at the wrapping stage than using paper, but it saves a lot of time in cleanup and, of course, quite a bit of waste. We always watch a holiday movie on Christmas Eve; this year's was A Christmas Story, but I fell asleep before the end due to the rum-spiked eggnog!

More--with Pictures!--below the Cut )
These past two weekends have been full-on Halloween for Bobby and me. Halloween is my favorite holiday and high-ranking for Bobby as well, but our busyness this year and the fact that our house is half-destroyed has meant that we've had to scale back big-time. We're cooking feast for our barony's TNT event next weekend, so even the annual Halloween party got cut; we couldn't have done it anyway. The basement is still under construction, and the rest of the house is piled high with stuff that belongs in the basement to the point that we can barely walk through the living room.

Last Saturday, we went up to the Haunted Mill in Spring Grove, PA, with friends from work. Read more... )
Our trip may have only lasted about 30 hours, but Dad still took some pictures ... lots of us eating in restaurants, for some reason. None of the beach. That's Dad for ya.

30 Hours Apparently Spent Mostly Eating )
We've Been Kicked out of Better Places! )

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