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trinalin thinks things through
I am typing this in the coach while we head from Alnwick (pronounced ann-ick) toward York with a stop at Hadrian's Wall.

So, yesterday we got an extra half-hour of sleep again. And then we had Alan, a local expert, guide us around Edinburgh. First in the coach, and then around the castle. It was a chilly day, but lots of sun throughout the day. Once he was done with the tour we had the rest of the day to ourselves.

Heh heh, since I last wrote, I've had lunch in Heddon on the Wall, stood on Hadrian's Wall, and gotten wet while taking photos of the Angel of the North. Anyhoo, back to yesterday.

So, mom, Amy, and I started out by going to the Scotch Whisky Experience. Amy bought us tickets and we managed to get on the next tour. We took a "barrel ride" to see how scotch is made. Then our guide told us how to tell scotches apart by region. Then we each got a dram to try. Mom picked a Lowlands scotch, Amy a peaty Islay, and I got a Speyside scotch. I liked mine best and Amy's was so smokey it tended to overwhelm all other tastes. We ended the tour by viewing the largest scotch collection in the world. It was damned impressive.

Next we wandered down the Royal Mile, popping into shops and looking for lunch. I spotted a kebab, fish, and chips shop (the Clam Shell) and convinced the girls to get donner kebabs. We also got 2 orders of chips with salt & vinegar. The chips orders were HUGE! And the kebabs were as well. And very tasty, too. I was pleased since I'd been talking them up since before our trip. (To me, pork pies and kebabs are Britain.)

After a few more shops, we left the Royal Mile and wound up at the park. Although the wind was brisk, the sun was out and we spent some time just sitting & enjoying the first day of summer.

Next we popped into Jenner's department store since it is the Harrod's of Edinburgh. It's bigger than expected from the outside. But we returned to Old Town to continue our "Edinburgh Death March" that Amy was in charge of. In fact, she had forgotten she was supposed to be guiding our Death March and to make up for it, she added some stair climbing to the mix.

As it neared the time for meeting up with the coach, we popped into the woolen mill by the castle and got to see the giant looms they use. We got there after the workers were gone, but the shops were still open. Amy found a nice tweed bag that she got for 10% off due to a small stain on it.

We ended our time in Old Town at the Hub. I had a hot chocolate while the girls had coffee. The coach arrived and we were returned to the hotel.

After a short rest, the three of us put on our bathing suits and went to the spa in the hotel. First we sat in the hot tub & chatted with a local who is a member of the club in the hotel. She reminded me a little of Patricia Hayes in appearance. Next was time spent in the sauna, followed by a rest surrounded by small eucalyptus trees. Very relaxing!

For supper that night, we went to the hotel bar. I ordered a scotch-based drink which the waitress rightly topped off with lots of ice. We split baked Camembert & toast as starter. I then had a sandwich of mature cheddar with apple chutney. And I refrained from ordering dessert. I figured tonight's fairwell dinner will finish with a dessert.

Our evening finished with me working on homework after the girls got to bed. There's more to do, but it's not due till Wednesday.

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I'm once again writing this while the coach is on the road. We've just left St Andrews where Alf, our substitute driver (Carl has 2 days off) drove us onto the golf course to get a closer look.

More on our goings on today!Collapse )

We're back in the hotel thinking that maybe we shouldn't ever eat again. But we know that tomorrow we shall be hungry and there are many things to try in Edinburgh. :-)

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So that I can have more time to do course work this evening, I've decided to start typing up today's activities. We're still on the coach returning from Skye, but now we're closer to the resort than before.

This morning I decided to have porridge for breakfast. I added cream & honey to it and it was delightful. I supplemented it with bacon, fruit, tea, and toast with marmalade.

We left at 8am as usual, though it was lovely not needing our bags out for once. The theme for today was scenery (whereas yesterday was probably history). We stopped for pictures along the way, but our priority was the Isle of Skye.

One stop was at Loch Ness. I bought a gift and a mini Nessie thing while mom got me a hot chocolate & coffees for her & Amy. We took photos and were back on the coach in time.

We took the bridge across to the Isle of Skye and continued on to the Clan Donald center for more scenery and lunch. The lunch line was big at the start so we took a walk in the gardens. For all three of us, this was the highlight of the day. Beautiful, peaceful, moss, birdsong, wild onion scent - bliss. Our only regret is not having more time to enjoy it. When we returned for lunch, I ordered a mature cheddar toasty which I had with crisps, elderflower soda, and a brownie. Yummy!

Our group stayed 10 minutes more than the other two tour groups there (whom we'd been racing since the Nessie stop) and still got to the ferry on time. Well played, James! Well played.

Since then we've been on the road with a quick stop to view the Bonnie Prince Charlie memorial and the viaduct from the Harry Potter movies. Amy and I took the path up to the viewing area for photos.

The nicest thing about today is that the rain only really happens when we're in the coach. Amy tempted fate today at breakfast by mentioning our great weather for this trip, but figured we were more than half way through, so it didn't matter if the weather changes for the worst.

Tonight we're having supper at the resort again. I've ordered the goat cheese starter, the chicken entrée, and the mango mousse for dessert. Should be tasty!

[Time passes and I'm now in bed for the night.] Once we got to the hotel, mom and I did another Tescos run. She needed a shower poof (hers went asplody the other morning) and I wanted more sugar. So I bought 2 packages of jelly babies, another box of Tunnick's tea cakes, and a package of dark chocolate digestive biscuits. I will likely go into sugar overload if customs lets me take this all out! :-)

As I suspected, dinner was great. Before we went into the dining area, mom bought us drinks with money that dad had given her. I once again had a gin & tonic. The meal was superb, as usual. And the conversation was fun - we've managed to eat with different people each day which makes for interesting conversations. After dinner, we reitred to our room whereupon we packed for the next day and Amy posted more Facebook pictures. And now I'm going to try and get a lesson done before I sleep.

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Last night I wasn't able to write up an entry for our day. I am currently typing this while our bus is retuning from the Isle of Skye. I'm doing this with the virtual keyboard since my Bluetooth keyboard is in my luggage.

So, yesterday we left Glasgow to head north to the highlands. Poor Glasgow didn't leave as favorable an impression upon us as Liverpool or Cardiff. Perhaps it was the restaurant messing up supper. Perhaps it was the hotel spa closing as we arrived. Perhaps we just aren't Glasgow gals. Regardless, we were ready to meet the Highlands.

Our first stop in the Highlands was Loch Lomond. Though we skipped Windemere's boat ride, we opted for this one. It was a hazy, chilly, drizzly day, which just seemed perfect for a loch ride. When we were departing the boat, one of the crew admitted that this was the coldest start to summer that she could recall. She felt sorry for the kids starting their holidays this weekend.

For lunch, James took us off the beaten path to the Drover's Inn. He said the place reminded him of the Addams Family. Inside, even more so. Lunch was Scotch broth and assorted sandwiches - very tasty. Not even sure what all the sandwiches were other than having butter & mayonnaise. (One was egg, that I'm sure of.)

We then spent the early afternoon driving thru the valley of Glencoe. Despite the historical drama, the valley was peaceful and beautiful. Indeed, the trip was almost scenery overload.

When we arrived at our resort, those of us doing the optional excursion had 20 minutes to get ready. And then it was time to see the puppies!

When we were planning out extra excursions, Amy and I weren't sold on the sheepdog one. But it's James's favorite and he kept selling it. And we finally relented. I'm glad we did. It was fun watching the shepherd herd the sheep with his dogs using only voice commands and unique whistles. And afterwards we got to hold puppies. :-)

James wanted to apologize for rushing us out of supper the previous night and so bought us drinks before dinner. I had a gin & tonic with Bombay Sapphire. Supper was at the resort and I had leek & potato soup (needed salt), pork belly/back/rump/something & mash & veggies, and chocolate delice (aka chocolate mousse cake).

Mom, Amy and I took a walk around Aviemore and wound up buying junk food at Tescos. I hadn't brought money with me. But I had enough change in my pocket to get 2 packages of Penguins and a box of tea cakes. We eventually got ourselves situated for bed. I had intended to complete another lesson for my course but it wasn't to be. (Too busy posting photos of pupies on Facebook, I think). Maybe tonight?

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Scotland, I am in you! Woo! (We are now on the second week of our trip!)

The Lake DistrictCollapse )
Tomorrow, we head further north into the Highlands. Yay!

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Tonight we are sleeping in Liverpool! Birthplace of the Beatles!

But this morning, we awoke in Cardiff, birthplace of Dame Burley Chassie (AKA Dame Shirley Bassie). I was able to have my "normal" full English breakfast (even though I wasn't *in* England) since my stomach behaved. And it wasn't long before we were on the road again.

Details plus photo!Collapse )
My girls are both asleep now and I should join them. Another early start tomorrow as we wind our way north towards Glasgow! We'll be in Scotland tomorrow!

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Helo o Cymrw! (which might say "Hello from Wales" or it might not, depending on the accuracy of Google Translate.)

On this whirlwind trip through Great Britain, we have really only 1 day in Wales, and today was it. Tomorrow morning, we leave this country and head East and North (next hotel is in Liverpool). But Wales, and Cardiff in particular, has left an impact on us - my sister has declared Cardiff her new favorite city, and I can certainly understand why!

We started out in Exeter. Sadly, we had awakened so early that my stomach was still asleep, so no full English fry-up for me! (Considering the theme of today was FOOD, that might have been for the best.) Corn flakes and pain au chocolate plus tea was what my snoring stomach demanded. But we left the lovely town of Exeter (which would have been great to visit, rather than just have as a base for day-trips) and headed on to Glastonbury.

There's a ruined abbey in Glastonbury that we visited. A young lady pretending to be a pilgrim from the time of the original abbey (14th century, approx) guided us through the ruins. She was quite good and had a suitable amount of snark, especially about Arthur & Guinevere being buried there. And the young lady playing the part is decended from previous caretakers of the grounds and had a story to tell about two of the thorn trees planted on the grounds.

But that was all the time we had for Glastonbury, because we had a "Be our Guest" dinner at a farm called Blackmoor Farm. It's a new idea for a reality show (coming soon to TLC): 44 tourists, their tour guide and coach driver show up on your doorstep unannounced and you have to preare dinner for the whole group! (Well, that's what Amy thinks it should be. Heh. They knew we were coming.) The fellow who owns the farm showed us around the Great Hall and then a friend of his, who's an historian, continued the tour. Really neat history to the building. And I've forgotten most of the details, so I'll blaim tonight's wine. Heh. After the tour, we had lunch as prepared by the farm staff. Shepherd's pie (without actual shepherd on top), chicken/ham/leek pie, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower with & without a cheesy cream sauce - all very lovely. And scrumpy, rose cider, and white wine all available. I had the scrumpy. Most veggies I've had in one meal on this trip. heh.

We were then on our way to cardiff. We crossed the Severn bridge into Wales and then headed for Cardiff. Carl dropped everyone off at the castle. We had not opted for the castle and instead took a cab to Cardiff Bay to the Doctor Who Experience. Sadly, we arrived just 10 minutes after the last tour of the day - Boo! But we could still get tickets into the museum part of the place - Yay! And the tickets were cheaper - Big Yay! So we did just that and had a blast taking photos of costumes and props. there's a photo of mom with daleks that's hilarious and I'll have to post when I can get it off my phone. I was pleased that mom & Amy indulged me in my passion. :-) I also bought a few gift items - a cyberman pin, a pencil, several postcards (including Missy for the Death in Heaven "poster"), and a squishy toy thing that wound up being a weeping angel. Fun stuff!

We headed back toward our hotel using my GPS and some directions on google maps that I'd gotten earlier. The bay and Roald Dahl Plass is lovely. And it was nice seeing the venue we were going to for supper. We arrived at the hotel just minutes before the rest of the group. And then we had some time to rest before it was time to leave for our optional excursion of the Spirit of Wales.

Our group arrived early to the Millennium Center (after witnessing two people helping a guy so drunk he wound up passed out on the sidewalk and when the police started to investigate, the couple walked away as if they didn't know the fellow - ah, city life!) and were led into the bar by one of the singers who'd be entertaining us. They had small samples of Welsh mead (yummy) and Welsh rarebit (too small of a sample to judge) for us to try while we waited for the other tour groups. When everyone was there, we were brought into ffresh, the restaurant at the Millennium Center, and entertained & fed till we nearly burst. They had 4 singers (3 women, 1 man), their MC (who also was a singer), and a lady who played the harp and piano. They did a number of traditional Welsh songs (and not so traditional) in between courses. I had the goat cheese terrine with beetroot (amazingly good), lamb rump (rymp in Welsh) with veggies (also yummy), and the chocolate something or other that was also lovely. Amy and I wound up finishing off a bottle of Sirrah with a little help from the lady beside me, while mom and the man beside her polished off 1+ bottles of white wine.

As we left the Millennium Center, it was getting dark out (yes, it WAS late) and the whole plaza was lit up beautifully. Amy and I got some really nice photos, which I'll post at some point. Heh. (If you're on Twitter, I've posted a couple there already.)

So now it's late and I need to sleep so that I can have real food for breakfast. Cardiff, thank you for your hospitality! Maybe sometime I might get to stay longer than 1 day!

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It's not easy posting photos since I have to use my phone to upload them, but I prefer typing up my entry with the keyboard I have for my tablet. And the photos from my camera - well, I have to put its memory card into my phone (which means turning off my phone & removing the current card) yada yada. So not sure when I'll post photos again, but I will!

2 Days worth of Adventures!Collapse )And now everyone's asleep except me! good night!

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Decided to upload a few photos from the trip so far. Today we actually got onto the tour proper, going on our first coach ride to Stonehenge then Bath, and finally Exeter. But some of the photos are from our first two days.

Mom and Amy in Eye
Mum and Amy high above London!

Changing of the guard
The Changing of the Guard - my first time to watch it.

Great Cafe
Ate at this great cafe in Borough Market.

Me at Tussauds
I hung out with Dame Judy at Madame Tussauds' party. We are besties now.

Me at Madame Tussauds
I met some fellow physicists at Madame Tussauds' party.

Me at stonehenge
Guess where I am!

Selfie at Crescent
A Selfie of us at The Crescent in Bath.

Gardens in Bath
Gardens near the Crescent in Bath.

I enjoed Stonehenge so much I bought a mini-Stonehenge!

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Today was a practically perfect day, starting with the fact that I actually fell asleep last night! It felt so good wandering around London without being exhausted. Here's hoping I can keep up the good sleep tonight!

We woke up at 6:30am and got ready, then went to breakfast. The hotel has a full English fry up - as a buffet. I had baked beans, fried bread, fried tomato, sausage (more meat than cereal!), two eggs over easy, hash brown patty, banana, and a plum. It was all very yummy. Oh, and really, really weak tea with cream & sugar.

We met the other tour-goers in the lobby for our Regal London tour (part of the package). The coach wasn't on time, but once it arrived, Sarah (an ex-pat American) gave us an excellent tour. As Amy later remarked, it was nice that the traffic was so bad because we got more interesting facts from her than we probably would have due to the delays. The tour showed us more of London than our Deathmarch of the pervious night (though there was a little overlap). And then Sarah walked our tour over to see something I'd never bothered with on previous London visitis - the changing of the guard at Buckinham Palace. And since tomorrow is the Queen's "birthday," she was actally in reidence.

After the tour, mum and Amy and I returned to St. James Park for a reconnoiter to decide upon our next course of action. During the tour, we drove by Borough Market, which Sarah recommended to us claiming that it was one of the factors that convinced her to move from Rome to London. Mom had said that we should go there for lunch, so we did. We bought Oyster cards and took the Jubilee line from Wesminster to London Bridge, then went to Borough Market.

In addition to fresh produce and meat, they have freshly prepared meals as well. We walked through and all decided on what we wanted to eat. I chose a lamb bap from Maria's Market Cafe and a cider from another booth. It was a tasty sandwich, with rocket and mint jelly. Mom got scallops and Amy got a Cornish pastie. I wasn't enamored of the cider (their sweet is not as sweet as I like, but enjoyed everything else. We ate next to a Turkish deli and I decided to get some Turkish delights.

We hopped back on the tube to the Baker Street exit to get to Madame Tussauds. The wait to get in was a bit much, but probably no more than the other times I've waited. We also decided to pay the £3 extra for the Star Wars exhibit. We had lots of fun posing with celebs and I have posted a few of the images on my facebook if you have one of those. I will get them to LJ one of these days, too!

After Tussauds, we went to find the Sherlock Holmes museum nearby. On our way, we stopped into a couple of shops. One of them had tweed caps, one of which fit me and was only £25, so I bought it. I look cute. Amy got a photo as proof, which I'll also post when I'm able. We then went to The Volunteer for half pints and a sit down outside. I had Addlestone's Cloudy cider and mom got Aspall's cider (which I'd had the day before) and Amy got a London pale ale from a brewer she doesn't recall. We ate a few pieces of Turkish delight while we relaxed.

We decided to pop into the Sherlock Holmes store (where everything is overpriced according to the lady I bought my hat from. She sells deerstalkers for half the price of the museum store) but not the museum. And then we walked to Regent's Park for a short walk and a sit down. Then back to the Tube (Jubilee from Baker to Green park, then Victoria to Vauxhall).

One our walk back from Vauxhall last night, we noticed a few eateries and deicded to try one of those for supper. We went to Casa Madiera to their coffee shop side. I had a bacon melt panini and a decadent fruit danish, Amy got a huge avocado salad (with prawn salad, cole slaw, and lots of veggies), and mom got a chicken napoleon or something (chicken and mushroom melt). Supper was very yummy and fairly reasonable in cost.

We returned to our hotel whereupon we've been repacking, journaling, talking to dad on the phone, etc. It's just about time for bed, so I'll sign off now. Tomorrow we awake even earlier to get on the road proper. By the end of the day tomorrow, we'll be in Exeter!

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My mother, sister, and I have arrived in London safely for the first leg of our Great Britain Excursion. We're doing a Trafalgar tour through AAA cuz we wanted Easy but Fun. Yesterday, dad dropped us off at the airport and we flew to Charlotte and then on to Heathrow. The flight from Charlotte was delayed about an hour, so we wound up getting into London an hour later than intended. And the gentleman who picked us up for Trafalgar had even more issues with his morning than we did!

However, we got to the Riverside Park Plaza Hotel on the Albert Embankment and then headed off to the Coca Cola London Eye since it was such a beautiful day. I feel sorry for the folks who purchased Fast Passes today since we only waited 15 minutes to get into our carriage. And we were on the ferris wheel for about twice that length of time.

Our room wasn't going to be ready till 2pm, so we walked toward Trafalgar Square (no relation to the travel company) and wound up popping into The Clarence, a pub just south of the square. Lunch there was lovely. I had steak & ale pie with mashed potatoes and onion gravy. Amy had fish & chips and mushy peas. And mum had a cheeseburger and fries. Everything was yummy. I had cider, Amy an ale, and mum wine.

We returned to the hotel for a much needed rest. But we didn't want to nap for long or else we'd not be able to sleep tonight. So we just did so for an hour, then we headed off to Harrods. Or as mom wound up calling it, The London Deathmarch. (She said she would have been disappointed if I'd not gotten a London Deathmarch in this trip.) Yeah, so I had a few issues with the mini-map not having the smaller street details, underestimating how long the walk would be, and then having my GPS have kittens while trying to figure out where we were while walking. So it might have taken 2 hours to get to Harrods. But we did!

In previous trips, I'd fallen in love with the Chocolate Bar, a little place to buy hot chcolate and other yummy things. Well, Godiva now runs it, and it's a bigger place. But the chocolate stuff is still yummy. We split a tomato & mozzarella panini and each had one of their Chilled Chocolixirs (Amy and I opted for dark, mom got milk choc). Was very decadent and wound up filling us enough for supper.

Rather than suffer through another Deathmarch, we took the tube back. Vauxhall station is, I think, the nearest to the hotel. And the walk back from the station was very pleasant and an intreesting walk. I'm really not used to staying in high quality hotels in London.

Later tonight, we went down to the Chino Latino bar in the hotel. Amy recommended a Pimm's cup to me and we each ordered one, while mom got the bar's elderflower margarita. The drinks were tasty and they brought us some olives and some crunchy & spicy knurdles that were very tasty. Since we figured dad was out at a bar in Ohio while we were in a bar in Londond, we called him on the offchance that he had his cell phone with him. He did, so we chatted briefly and that just made the night even nicer.

Now Amy is writing in her journal and I am writing in mine and mom is already in her bed. Bed sounds good. Since I didn't sleep on the flight, I REALLY hope I can sleep tonight!

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Phew! I haven't had a real post in this journal since Jan 1 of this year. Ah well, guess journalling isn't my thing at the mo'. However, that may change a bit in the next couple of weeks since my mother, sister, and I will be going on a trip through Great Britain. I expect we'll have lots of fun. :-)

But summer has started for us (despite it still officially being spring) since school let out on May 22nd!!! I haven't gotten much biking or hiking in this season (only twice for each - eep!) but have been enjoying my time off quite a bit. And I've done my duty as a "responsible home owner" (yeah right) and had my tumbling down fence replaced.

So that's what this post will be about - Out with the Old, and In with the New!

Photos of Before and After.Collapse )


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Hey look, Trina's finally posted to her LJ!

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So years ago my dad was asked by a neighbor lady how old he was and he said that he was "four with the fumb down." (Or at least, the neighbor lady told him that he said this as he doesn't remember it himself.) So we've had the expression in our family vernacular for many years. And today, I turned forty four, with both fumbs down. :-)

Our Wonderful Christmastime has continued to be wonderful. On Monday, mom, Amy, and I went to AAA to talk with a travel agent about going on a tour of Britain. We met for an hour and a half and left with some homework to do. And we spent much of Monday afternoon researching and reading up and trying to decide which of the various package tours we wanted to do. We scheduled a second meeting for Wednesday whereupon we'd have our decision.

On Tuesday, Amy had an appointment with a couple of folks in Columbus to film for the BMC Oral History Project she's been working on for a few years now. Dad had volunteered to be her gaffer (and to provide the lighting equipment so she didn't have to bring her set up with her on the plane). Since it was going to take a couple of hours, I suggested that mom and I head off to Polaris Fashion Place to go shopping. So once we had Amy and Dad ensconced in the Columbus Mennonite Church, we headed north to the mall.

Mom and I have been fans of Chico's for a couple of years now. She had a pair of jeans which were a little baggy on her that she wanted to return, and when we got there, they were having a sale. I found a pair of jeans and a long jacket (think Bea Arthur long) on sale and she found two pairs of jeans. We then stopped into a shoe store where I found a VERY cute pair of shoes in my size. Decided they'd be my birthday present to me. Mom then found a jacket for herself at Christopher & Banks that she wound up getting for $15. We topped the successful excursion off with Auntie Anne's pretzels.

As we were leaving the mall, Amy texted to say they were done at the church. So we returned and Amy toured around Columbus reminiscing about her days of living in the "big city." (Columbus is huge for me, but small for someone who lives in Minneapolis. Heh.)

That night, we finally decided on which of the package tours to go on (it was basically a competition between the Scottish highlands and Ireland, Loch Ness vs Guinness brewery tour, Liverpool vs Waterford Crystal. Scotland et al won in the end). Wednesday's meeting then was getting the tour booked and then the flights figured out. We opted for trip insurance - not something we usually do, but with the total cost of the trip and the fact that we're not as young as we once were, it seemed like a good idea this time around.

For New Year's Eve, we met up with Deb & Ben, friends of my folks, for dinner at Trojan Horse. Then we adjourned to mom & dad's home for an evening of games and snacks and booze. We played Ticket to Ride where Ben managed to win instead of Amy (who's won every other time we've played). Then Amy and I took on mom and Deb with a game of pinochle. We won and then the ball dropped and 2015 arrived!

This morning I made us some baked French Toast (which I'd made shortly after midnight and let sit in the fridge overnight) and bacon. And lunch was our New Year's staple: pork, kraut, and mashed potatoes. We'd invited my cousin Patty around and the five of us had a wonderful lunch and spent most of the afternoon chatting and laughing. Then mom, Amy, and I returned to Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright and House of Cards (we managed to watch 16 episodes this week). In between episodes, we had a light supper and then I opened presents and we had cake & gelato/ice cream. Judi had gotten me a World of Warcraft game time card (surprise!) and Elsa a nifty sweatshirt with "All of the good chemistry jokes Argon" on it. :-) Mom & dad got me moolah to do a subscription to Big Finish. And Amy got me a 7th Doctor brolly! Whee!

So this has been a wonderful time with my sister and folks and other loved ones. Tomorrow we take Amy to the airport so she can be reunited with Curtis (her cat) and Charlotte (her godcat whose currently staying with her). Thanks all for a lovely birthday and Christmas and all that jazz. :-)

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Although I haven't been posting, I have been having a great end of the year. Amy arrived on Christmas and we had lunch at Waffle House* on our way back from the airport. That night was festivities with dad's side of the family, and next day was a party at our house with mom's side of the family. And that night I Skyped with judiang and elsaf which was fun. But yesterday, we actually got to have Christmas for ourselves, and once again, we won at Christmas**. :-)

We have Amy with us till the day after my birthday (so till Friday) and we intend to enjoy her company as much as we can. Yesterday, after presents, we took a walk downtown and wound up doing Happy Hour at the Caroline. Mom and Amy and I have been mainlining episodes of season 1 of House of Cards*** (the US version with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright) while dad hides in his den. (He's not into political maneuvering and shenanigans, and I'm beginning to see why. Heh.)

I'm hoping y'all are also having a nice end to 2014 and I hope that 2015 starts out wonderfully for you.

*Well, it was one of the few places open on Christmas day. Though we felt bad for the joint - busy as they were, their ATM, phone, and credit card machine all crapped out at the same time. Basically, the phone died and took everything with it. Thankfully we had cash as did other customers. Christmas is one of Waffle House's busiest days. We even had a 20 minute wait before we had a seat. I decided to have second breakfast and it was yummy.

**Lots of fun stuff from the folks and Amy and others. Some new outfits, sweatshirts, books, Doctor Who DVDs, and a couple of new appliances - egg hardboiler (cuz I was envious of mom's) and smoothie maker (cuz my blender just doesn't have the power). We all had stockings this year, which was fun to help fill. Mom made the stockings and they're lovely.

***Last time I had the DVD set from the library, I managed to get the first three episodes watched before my 1 week time was up. This time I have the set for 3 weeks and recommended to mom and Amy to catch up and we could watch together. Amy did her homework (she has Netflix) and mom got started on hers and finished up once Amy had arrived. We're all pretty captivated for now.

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Since The Doubleclicks put up a Kickstarter to make their first album, Dimetrodon, I've been a fan and supporter of theirs. (I think it was someone on twitter mentioning them that brought them to my attention in the first place.) The two ladies are geeks and thus write and sing wonderfully geeky songs.

Well, they recently sent a call out to their fans to help them with their latest "lyric video." They wanted photos of cats (or dogs or other pets) with or without their owners & a word from the song. I requested a word and they gave me "want." So I wrote "Want" in big print and then tried to get a shot with Linus and Lucy and the word all together. After several attempts (and a spat of photos I accidentally deleted from the camera before they'd been downloads - long story, bleh) I got one that I decided to send along. So now my kitties are online celebrities! They show up the last time that "want" shows up in the video, around 2 minutes and 30 seconds in. (But watch the whole video - lots of lovely cats & other pets and their loving owners.)

In case you couldn't tell which one was them, here's the photo that I sent along to the Doubleclicks for inclusion in the video:


And here are a couple of the good ones that didn't make the cut (it wasn't an easy decision!)



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I've been meaning to get a Round Tuit to posting photos that I (and a few others) took at the Halloween party that my folks and I attended that night. And as I wait in the queue to get onto World of Warcrack (they just released a new expansion), I found the Tuit and it was, indeed, Round. So first photo is one of me and the camera outfit that I used for most of the photos. The theme of the party was 1920s/Great Gatsby and many of the attendees drezzed for the occasion. (As I'm not a fan of wearing dresses, I opted more for Marlene Dietrich in drag. She looked FINE in a suit or tux. Me... well, I'm cute at least. See?)

Me and the camera that dad put together. He's clever. :-)

More photos under the cutCollapse )

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I've mentioned before that I enjoy biking when the weather is amenable. We're very fortunate in Miami County to have a great set of bike paths for people to walk and ride upon. However, till this (late) summer, there was no contiguous path from Troy to Piqua (our two biggest cities). There was a planned bridge to go over the Miami River, but it hadn't been built... yet.

Well, this summer, they finally got started on the project. The goal was to be done before August, but, well, they did get done before October, so that was something. :-) Mom and I have ridden across the bridge twice so far, with future trips across a certainty. And the last time we went across, there were quite a few people out enjoying the bridge (walker and bikers), so that was great to see.

Some day I'd like to start at the northern-most part of the path in Piqua and then go south for the whole length of the county and beyond. (I think you could actually go all the way to Cincinnati using the paths, but I've never gone farther south than Taylorsville Dam.) Perhaps next summer? :-)

Anyhoo, here are some before and after photos which I took throughout the summer (and early autumn). It's a really lovely bridge, I must say.

Photos behind the cut!Collapse )

The weather's turned a little chilly of late, but I'm hoping to get a few more bike rides in before winter turns its ugly head towards us!

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Once again, I have gone too far between LJ posts and mother has e-mailed me asking me when I will next update... I kept meaning to update - I wanted to tell about my lovely visit with Amy (my sis) and to go over the books which I read over break and even a post talking about The Bunny Hour. But I just couldn't get a round tuit for the job. Perhaps this will get some of my writing urges satisfied...

I should first explain the title of this post. As far as I'm concerned, summer ended on August 15th when I reported to work (well to UVMC hospital) for the new school year. As soon as summer break is over, IMO, summer itself is over. However, we've got till September 20th for the vernal equinox. So this is some weird purgatory of time between seasons for me. Hot & shitty (which it hasn't been since June, thankfully) and yet we're in school. Thanks Nature!

I can't complain though. I had a fabulous summer vacation. After my trip to Chicago, I headed out the following Saturday to Minneapolis to hang out with my sis. Let's see how much I can recall...

Saturday: Left the house at 4:30am or so (bloody early), flew to O'Hare and then onto Minneapolis/St Paul airport. I had an Egg McMuffin & hashbrown at O'Hare and Amy had breakfast before she picked me up. So we started our time together at IKEA (like you do). Hey, she had a huge rental vehicle, we were in the area, it was perfect. We stopped at a butcher's on the way back to her place and got brats & corn on the cob for supper. Home for a bit, then off to Anchor Fish & Chips for... I'll let you guess. Had a cider with it and it was yummy. We picked up some liquor essentials (and tasted wine & liquor) at Surdyk's. I think we did a chicken check (the rest of Amy's Coop Co-op was on a camping trip while I was invading). And Amy's boyfriend came around for supper, which we grilled and was lovely. Amy also roasted some root vegetables and cooked up some kale.

Sunday: Amy and I took a walk to a nearby park, had cereal for breakfast, and went to United Noodles, an Asian supermarket with a deli inside. It was quite a fun shopping experience, and the lunch was wonderful. I wound up buying a variety of candies/cookies (stuff like Pocky and some other things). I'm still eating 'em! We also had some shopping adventures, but now I can't recall which days had which trips. See, this is why I should type it up the day of, Trina! Sheesh. I do remember that we had leftover brats & corn Sunday night.

Monday: Rachel joined Amy and I for our walk. We also went to a nice breakfast place in St. Paul (the Buttered Tin) before Rachel had to head off to work. They were also a bakery and had some lovely cupcakes. So I got some for Amy and I to share, and one for Rachel to have when she had a break at work. Supper was more grilling - I mixed up the Miss Chick marinade (similar to what is used at the Poultry Days festival in Versailles) and Amy chopped the chicken (which was finally, nearly, thawed) earlier in the day. We grilled it that evening and Rachel joined us again. It was very yummy!

Tuesday: We had another morning walk which took us by a donut shop (but as none of us brought money, we bought no donuts) and a Cuban restaurant that sounded good. Amy made us egg sandwiches for breakfast. I later suggested the Cuban place (Victor's) for lunch, so we walked there. Amy got a cubano and I had the "love" Cuban pork sandwich. We split a tropical salad as appetizer and shared beans&rice and fried yuca. It was all wonderful, and Amy got some nice leftovers. Soon, however, it was time for me to go back to the airport. (First I had to ask Curtis, Amy's lovely cat, to get off of my suitcase. He thought it was the perfect cat bed.)

I was supposed to get back to Dayton by 11:30pm. But before I could leave MSP, I had to have a plane. And it was 3 hours late. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about missing my connecting flight out of O'Hare - same plane. My parents are the most wonderful parents - despite the lateness, they came and got me! 2:30am - bleh! (And this after getting up at o'dark thirty to take me in the first place!)

It was a great way to end my summer vacation. (Well, the next morning was a pool party at mom & dad's community pool, so that also helped with the end.) Then that Friday, I started back to work! And we just finished our first full week of school. I think this is going to be a great school year. So far, I'm actually caught up in grading - whee! And now a 3-day weekend!

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Current Mood: nostalgic nostalgic

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I've been having a lovely visit with judiang (and elsaf is also here). This is likely the last visit while she's living in the city. Indeed we were looking at condos in the 'burbs today. First time I've been to Downers Grove since I was wee. Didn't recognize a smidgen.

Anyhoo, on this visit we've had Indian buffet, dim sum, and pub grub at a microbrewery (Reuben, cheddar ale soup, hefeveisen). Elsa had pre-made all of the other meals we've had in order to keep the joint clean for viewings by potential buyers. Arroz con pollo, chicken salad & Gorgonzola roasted red pepper soup, meatloaf (with mashed taters and broccoli), and even individual servings of oatmeal or Special K for breakfast. She also baked pineapple upside-down cake and peach cobbler. Oh, and we just finished pot roast, taters, carrots & onion. Yum!

Entertainment-wise, we've been to see Avenue Q at the Mercury theater. Great show! Also great to see what hergrace had been going on about for years. Nifty that in the cast, the couple who marry are actually married in real life. We also went to see Guardians of the Galaxy yesterday at the Icon. Really fun flick. Tomorrow we intend to see Shakespeare in the park (with Patty). Much Ado About Nothing.

Patty (Judi's Pomeranian) joined us on our condo hunt today and will join us tomorrow because we needed her (and us) out of the flat for viewing (and open house tomorrow). She was very good today tho I missed out on seeing two of the condos in order to dog sit. So Patty and I took walks around the blocks. I suspect she'll sleep well tonight!

I've had a blast so far and figure the rest of the trip will be as well. :-)

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Last year, my folks and I visited friends up on Lake Erie, and we all decided to get together again this summer. This time, we went Thursday/Friday/Saturday and decided to arrive before lunchtime on Thursday in order to spend the day on Put-In-Bay island. After checking into our hotel, we headed for the ferry which was to carry us over to the island.

Details on our three days along Lake Erie.Collapse )

The rest of this entry will consist of photos from our lovely weekend at Erie.

Photos from Put-In-Bay and Mon Ami.Collapse )

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Like last summer, this summer is shaping up to be a good 'un. My main priorities are reading, biking, walking, enjoying the time off, etc. I'll start this post with a humourous photo that I took at the Urbana Antique Show & Flea Market that the parental units and I went to. I first was drawn to the olde fashioned-e bug sprayer, but then saw what was defiantly sitting on TOP of the bug sprayer. Heh heh. Now that takes guts.


One thing that I forgot to mention in my previous entry was that I finally bought myself a lawn mower. My lawn boy finally retired from the biz (he wanted to spend some quality time with his kids before they were grown - what's that about?!? Heh.) I first tried to hire my cousin to mow my lawn, but with her living in two different towns (divorced parents), it wasn't as easy to get ahold of her as you might think. So I tried to figure out what I hated so much about mowing the lawn. Apart from the heat (which I have little control over) it was probably the noise. So I looked into electric mowers and bought a Kobalt electric mower from Lowes. It does a great job and if I don't mow when it's too wet or too long, I can get the job completely done before both batteries die. :-) And I can listen to my MP3 player, too!

OK, since I think of the summer as beginning over Memorial Day Weekend, I will start my tally there for movies/books/bike rides.

Total movies watched so far: 20
Total books read so far: 17
Total bike rides so far: 11

As you'll see under the cut, most of the movies I've watched were DVDs borrowed from the library. (One day I picked up 7 - most of the videos I'd requested showed up at the same time!) Books are a mix of library and owned books, paper and digital, graphic novels and regular novels, but I'll cover them in another post.

More details on movies watched thus far.Collapse )

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Hello to you, longest day of the year! As I mentioned to one person today, "Welp, it's all downhill from here!" The lady I mentioned that to said that she always felt sad to think that days will be getting shorter from here on out, but I said "that only means it's closer to Christmas!" OK, so I'm one of those ANNOYING optimists. :-)

Anyhoo, I'm been on Summer Break since May 30th, but have only just gotten around to posting a journal entry. Mom has mentioned a couple of times that it's been awhile since I last posted something.

Since I last posted, I've been busy. Here are a few of the things I've been up to since May 3rd.

My (incomplete) list of accomplishments over summer break and before.Collapse )
With my summer break in full swing by the first day of summer (or by midsummer if you prefer), I'm good to go for the remainder. Teachers start back on August 15th, so I have to get all of my biking/reading/walking/swimming/movie watching done by then! :-)

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As promised, photos from today. We started out in the Conservatory at the Windmill Island and there were quite a few exotic (well, to me at least!) flowers present.

Flowers!Collapse )

The Windmill on Windmill Island is named De Zwaan (the swan) and is indeed graceful, if not really a bird.

De Zwaan

I took a photo from the observation deck. The day was still a bit dreary as the photo shows:

The ViewCollapse )

The tulips were reluctant to show themselves, but before we left Windmill Island, we had spotted a handful. Downtown Holland had quite a few more.
TulipsCollapse )

Tonight we went to Saugatuck Brewing Company for supper. I ordered a flight of beers, the cashews encrusted brie (appetizer) and fish & chips (with a side salad). Ate far too much, used up many of my weekly WW points, but it was worth it. Liked their cider, but the other five beers in the flight weren't for me. So, if you total up all of the beers I've tried so far in my life (which is a fair number now), I've discovered, um, 0 that I like. However, have found several hard ciders that I like.

Hello, I"m drinking a beer!Collapse )

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Current Location: Douglas, MI
Current Mood: full full

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Lillian (my new car, if you recall) and I have had our first Road Trip! One month after I bought her, I drove her to Holland, Michigan for the Tulip Time Festival.

Yesterday, after school, I loaded her up and drove north and west to Douglas, MI, where our hotel, the AmericInn was awaiting me. By "our" I mean mine and judiang and elsaf's hotel. I got there around 10pm and they hadn't been there long either. In fact, they were just about to head out for a late (late!) supper. Since I had the new car, they let me drive and we attempted the road house "next door" but they stopped serving food at 10pm. The waitress there described where to find a Burger King, which we figured would still be open.

They were, the girls got some food in 'em (I'd stopped at a McDonald's on my way up) and we returned to the hotel for bed. Whereupon none of us could sleep. Ah well!

This morning, we ate at the hotel and eventually got on the road to Holland. By following the signs to the Windmill Island, we eventually reached the place (using the concept of Limits to guide us to our destination. Let's hear it for calculus!) It was still fairly early and the temperature was a bit chilly. The tulip flowers didn't get the memo re: Tulip Time and most were no-shows. However, the highlight of the island was the windmill.

In 1964, the city of Holland bought a windmill from the Netherlands and installed it on what became called Windmill Island. It is a working flour mill and the miller is one of the few females in the biz. (Elsa and I walked past her while on our tour of the joint.) Though they didn't have the mill attached while we were there, they did have the sails turning, which was nifty.

I picked up a sack of flour, a postcard of the windmill WITH tulips in shot, and 3 tiny bars of chocolate from the Netherlands. It wasn't till after we'd left the island that I even saw any bloomed tulips. But downtown Holland fared better - they had some early risers in places. I suspect in another week or two, the place will be gorgeous.

We decided to try the Alpen Rose restaurant for lunch, and we chose well. Judi and I got the buffet and Elsa had a soup, sandwich, and potato salad. The food was all yummy (brat with kraut & mashed taters - very yummy kraut indeed) and the desserts were heavenly. Cream puffs & fruit tart for the win! We headed on to Centennial Park where the arts & crafts part of the festival was housed and wandered there for a bit. Now we're back at the hotel resting and recuperating.

Oh, while at the arts & crafts area, I so wanted to purchase a t-shirt that someone had made. It had a cute applique cat on it, was only $13, and had the caption "My outfits not complete unless covered in cat fur" or something. But I couldn't spend money on a t-shirt that didn't have proper grammar. "Outfit's" as in "my outfit is" not as plural to "outfit." I sadly walked away regretting their lack of proof-reader. (This paragraph probably has an ironically appropriate grammatical error in it, just 'cause.)

I'd add some photos to this post, but the wifi is slow here & my images & videos from today are taking their time getting onto my laptop. Guess I'll have to make a SECOND post for the images. Wow!

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Current Location: Douglas, MI
Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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