Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I know, I know, it’s not patriotic to grumble. I’m an upstanding citizen, so you won’t actually hear me complain when I get to the airport. But, over the years, I worked hard to pare down my packing, which has been ruined by rules about 3 ounce bottles and quart-size baggies.
I realized the need to streamline during my first work-related international trip. We were heading to Kenya, Ethiopia and Madagascar and I was completely out of control. I had the basics down, like taking clothes that coordinate. (I think my color palette for that trip was black, white and red – as if you needed to know that essential information!) But I took way too much, ending up with this HUGE suitcase and another bag to check, PLUS a small rolling suitcase and my 35mm camera case. It was not pretty, especially when you take into consideration the trinkets I picked up along the way – and the fact that international carriers often have weight restrictions that are lighter than domestic airlines.
Anyway, when I got back I rid myself of the large suitcase and decided that if I couldn’t take what I needed in a more reasonable-sized checked bag – if I checked a bag at all – then I needed to find a way to make it fit, no matter how long the trip. I’ve taken a domestic-size carry-on suitcase and a backpack on a 3-week international trip (and many other shorter trips) and fared just fine…
But with the new restrictions on liquids, all of my paring down is in danger of disappearing. I’m all for making the airways a safer place to be, but that’s countered by a personal need to have my own shampoo and conditioner. Add in some hair product, a little makeup, toothpaste, contact lens cleaning solutions and it’s almost impossible to fit all those things – even if I’m using small bottles – into one quart-sized baggie, especially if you’re on a trip that is more than a week long.
Eventually, I reach a tipping point in packing where it’s more hassle to think about buying travel-sized EVERYTHING each time I take a trip - and to put my personal hygiene regimen on display in a clear plastic baggie - than it is to break down and check a bag, only to have to wait at baggage claim for my luggage. My need for Sebastian’s Potion 9 is apparently worth the wait. The thing is, if I check a bag I give up on paring down:
Scented lotion? Absolutely!
Almond-scented facial scrub? Too tempting to leave behind!
Small bottle of aromatherapy oil? Can’t live without it!
Extra book I will devour in 3 hours and then haul around for the rest of the trip? Why not!
Sweater I love but will probably not wear? Take me with you!
The essentials are overtaken by the frivolous – which is how I ended up at the airport this morning with a bag that weighed 48 pounds. And only 2 pairs of shoes in the suitcase. This all seems counter-intuitive in an era where the airlines are trying to impose tighter restrictions on the amount of baggage we with bring with us. But at least I had room for the cuticle crème…
Monday, October 22, 2007
And last, but not least, my sister has a small flock of 6 Shetland sheep:
So if you happen to call and hear a scream in the background, have no fear: I'm just sitting in the barn, waiting for dinner, being stalked by a 5 year-old mountain lion. :)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Well, I'm near McMinnville, Oregon, staying with my sister and her family. I went to college here my freshman year so this is familiar territory - but we won't talk about how many years ago that was. Fall has arrived and the colors are amazing - like the main street in McMinnville, a cute little downtown area with all kinds of fun shops:
Since this is the Northwest, there are coffee shops on every corner. One of my favorites in McMinnville is Cornerstone Coffee, where you can get a White Tiger Mocha:
White Tiger Mochas are divine...there was a period of time, when I worked in Nebraska, that my sister would buy a little bag of the white power mix and send it to me. I lived in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest town of any consequence being 30 miles away but, miraculously, there was a espresso place. (Remember the last century, before Starbucks had conquered North America? And did you know there's a Starbuck's inside the Forbidden City in Beijing??? I have photographic proof somewhere!) Anyway, there were a few odd looks the first few times I schlepped my plastic container into the store, but pretty soon I had them hooked, too. :)
McMinnville is also home to Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose (although he didn't like that name...) and the Evergreen Aviation Museum. My sis has a membership, so I've had a chance to wander through a couple times already:
And then there's just quality time with family, like the walk we took last Sabbath afternoon. My nephew decided, for reasons unknown, that he wanted to push his old stroller. On a 3 1/2 mile walk. A walk that was ALL uphill on the way there...
So, Wendy, I'm still alive and kicking - and that's what I've been up to! :)
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Anyway, I saw some lovely fall foliage on the way through Utah and Idaho, and stayed in Nampa the second night:And then it was on to Oregon!
Miles driven: 1,769
States my tires touched the ground in: Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon
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Monday, October 1, 2007
Anyway, back to the current road trip. After stopping overnight in Kentucky, I stayed in Calhoun, Georgia for a couple days and got a chance to visit with Carolyn, and friend and mentor. She had to give me crazy directions to her house, like "when you see the fencing, turn right," sort of an "over the river and through the woods"-like drive. We had a great time getting pedicures, getting lattes at a fun little coffee shop, and walking on the pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee river:I stopped in Jackson, Tennesee and had dinner with Ryan, a friend from academy days, and his lovely wife Tiffany:
They're expecting their first child next year - Congratulations!!!
Then it was on to Little Rock, Arkansas, where I stayed overnight with family before heading to Amarillo and a beautiful sunset at home...
Miles driven: 1,811
Length of this part of the trip: 5 days
Total miles driven: 3,513
States my tires touched the ground in: Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas
Weirdest sight: a Tennessee truck stop restroom that had a device on the wall that sprayed you with a knockoff perfume for a quarter. Very odd...
Worst roads: From the eastern border of Oklahoma, all the way to Oklahoma City. You'll need a front-end alightment (and maybe a massage!) after that bumpy ride...
Monday, September 24, 2007
On Friday, Lora took me to Stovers, a u-pick apple farm. And even though the mosquitos were large and abundant enough to suck half of your blood supply in a single sitting, we braved the elements and picked some delicious Honeycrisp apples. Apparently, there are apple snobs in the area who consider that variety a "tourist apple." I say they need to have their taste buds examined. :)
Next stop: Calhoun, Georgia! (With a little overnight stay in Kentucky...)
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I stayed with Mike, Heidi, Cora and Brianna. Didn't manage to get a family photo, but Heidi and Cora were reading a bedtime book one evening:
Cora is too funny - the first few days I was there, Heidi was working. So the girls left for Grandma's house with their dad before I came out in the morning. The second morning, I think Cora was pretty sure her parents were telling her a tall tale about their visitor. I heard her announce quite firmly, while standing outside my door, "I'm going in there." But dad said no. To which Cora replied, "But Daddy, if I don't go in there now, I'm never, EVER going to see Kristine!"
I flew back on Sunday night, and on Labor Day we all got together for dinner at Jeremy, Holly and Abigail's house:
Some things in Nebraska have stayed the same: if you buy a car, just make your own sign to let the authorities know you're driving legally:
Miles driven to Nebraska: 621
Miles driven while in Nebraska: 416
Miles traveled by air: 1,772
Length of trip: 11 days
Total miles driven: 1,037
States where my tires touched the ground: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, California
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Dad says: "It's not hot at all..." = medium
Dad says: "It's got a little kick to it..." = hot
Dad says: "It's hot..." = I don't touch it with a 10-foot pole!
Here's a selection of items from the fridge:
See the plastic container in the front? There's a church member that makes some kind of salsa for potluck every week, with extra for Dad to take home. And I think it's really a game called "Try to Make the Gringo Cry." Because this stuff is potent, people. A few weeks ago, I was going through line at potlock and saw some tabouleh. Now, I love tabouleh. So I put a couple spoonfuls on my plate...and then realized that the little specks I THOUGHT were bulgur wheat were actually jalepeno seeds. Which means there were a LOT of seeds in that pico de gallo!
So if your taste buds ever need a workout, you know where to go. :)
Last month I traveled to Albuquerque with my dad and two of his sisters. Just an overnight trip, but we packed a LOT in. My uncle has always enjoyed gardening, and my dad and his sister were picking apples, peppers, green beans, okra, cucumber, squash, and some of the best grapes I've ever had. (Believe me, if you've never had grapes ripened on the vine, you're missing out. They're delectable!) We chopped up the apples and canned a few jars, cooked up the beans and okra for supper, and brought home several boxes of fresh grapes. Woo hoo!
Monday night, my cousin and I took off to Santa Fe and I went to my first opera ever! It was a more modern staging of "Cose fan tutte" in a fantastic venue - the Santa Fe Opera is an open-air facility and they do multiple productions during a short summer season. In another life, I think I would have liked to be an opera singer. (And by other life, I mean one in which I had a trust fund to sustain me while I labored in obscurity in some European chorus for decades while waiting for my big break.) So, in real life I majored in business and sang for fun, attaining the heights of fame at Union College in the octet, Witness. Here we are, at the 3ABN studios in the spring of (gasp!) 1996:
But I digress....so, in closing a gratuitous nature shot: a New Mexican dragonfly with an inordinate amount of interest in the car antennae.
Miles traveled: approx. 782
Length of trip: 2 days
States where my tires touched the ground: Texas, New Mexico
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Friday, August 17, 2007
Chandler, my arch-nemesis from down the hall: (Ha! I win! I'm back in Texas!)Daryl and Johannie, who came all the way from England for the wedding:And lots of other people...
I had flown out of Dallas (which meant driving down from Amarillo, about five and half hours) so that my mom and I could go to a concert last Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, we went car shopping, but didn't find anything of serious interest:
Yes, I realize they're wrecked. This is how we do it in my family! :)
And if you're ever south of Clarendon, Texas, watch out for cows in the road - we came upon a Charolais-cross steer who was rather intent on seeing what was on the other side of the road. But they do have a really neat rest stop out that way:And the rest stop has free wi-fi, courtesy of the Texas Department of Transportation:Yep, my tax dollars at work. :) So that's my little adventure on the East Coast and in Dallas. Next stop: Albuquerque and Santa Fe!
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
But let's take a little walk down memory lane. I never thought I'd own a baby grand. New ones are prohibitively expensive. And old ones often come with their own set of problems. After I bought the piano, it wasn't long before I had thoughts of refinishing it. This may be sacrelidge to some, but I decided to forge ahead. Beneath the dark (almost black) crackled stain was a beautiful mahogany. So the old finish came off:
Eventually, the piano looked like this:
And I had almost 7 years of living the dream, baby! Yes, and when I moved to Maryland there was me, my piano, and all my other stuff in a 750 sq. foot apartment. This was not a dream for the "needs to have copious amounts of open space" or "wants more room for potted plants" kind of a person.
Like I said, I decided to sell it for various reasons. And maybe someday I'll buy a nice little upright. In the meantime, though, my fingers can still feel those ivory keys...