Ci a bachgen

We’re learning Welsh!  Ci a bachgen are the first words John and I learned .  We’re using Rosetta Stone (it was his Christmas present from me).  Means dog and boy.  I think.   🙂  Could be dog with boy.  It’s hard to tell with just pictures.  We’ll probably buy a dictionary (if we can find one) this weekend.

I checked in an online Welsh-English dictionary.  A means and.  When it has an accent thingy on it, it means with.  So I wasn’t far off.

I checked off the last item on my to-do list (it kept getting bigger), and I still have at least an hour and a half before any people arrive.  And I just thought of one other thing I need, so I’ll come back to this.

I’m back.  I had to go to Hair Cuttery to pick up my hair spray.  They complimented my hair.  🙂  Yes, I know they’re paid to do that.  I think I’ll probably just go to them when it’s haircut time again, though.  I went to the new salon that opened right next to our neighborhood Bloom on Tuesday.  I had a 1pm appointment.  I got there about ten ’til, and Theresa, the woman I made the appointment with, told me that she was short a girl for some reason or another, and they had another one o’clock.  I wasn’t in a rush, and I had my book, so I let the other woman go first.  Really not a big deal.  They were playing spa music, and I very much enjoyed my hour of reading.  ‘Cause it was an hour.  Theresa popped by a couple of times to apologize.  Then it was my turn (and the woman’s haircut (the one who went before me) was really cute).  Theresa and I were chatting while she shampooed my hair, and I had just asked her if she lived close by and for how long.  She answered after she turned the water back on, so I have no idea what she said.  Things like that kept happening.  She did the same thing with the hair dryer.  Does she not realize that water and hair dryers make noise?  On top of that minor annoyance, she talked about God.  A lot.  God blessed me, God blessed her, God blessed me again, things’ll be fine as long as I’m communicating with God, etc.  Too much God!  And it’s awkward to ask someone to stop.  I mean, I could have, sure, but then she would have been uncomfortable (yes, I know I’m the customer), and I’d feel weird about going back.  I don’t feel weird about going back, but there were just enough annoying things to make me think I probably won’t.  But I like my haircut!

Review #2: Animal Au Paws.  They’re a local pet-sitting service, and I love them.  I love our sitter, at least.  She was assigned to us and came over before we left to meet the dogs.  And us.  She came over three times a day while we were gone and stayed half an hour each time.  She walked the dogs, played in the snow with them, and gave Riley lots of attention.  You know how I know all this?  She left notes!  There’s a note for every visit.  We read them in order when we got home and it was like reading a journal.  (Or a blog!  Duh.)  Very cool.  And they’re very reasonably priced.  The dogs seemed to do very well.  It’s nice to have an alternative to the kennel.

Okay, half an hour (assuming no traffic) before Jess, Chuck, and Cody get here.  Happy almost New Year!

Hooked and feeling good about myself

I left the house today to go to the Ann Taylor at Reston Town Center, and as I passed my reflection in the windows of the other stores on the way, I was pretty happy with how I looked.  I was wearing my black boots with jeans, my black peacoat with my big green scarf, my new cute earrings (bought in Easton with Jess last week), and my fabulous new haircut, and I felt fantastic.  That lasted until I got home and ate brie and crackers AFTER my lunch of sushi and gyoza.  The brie and crackers were totally unnecessary.  But my earrings and haircut are still fabulous.  🙂

Hooked.  Overall, it was good.  We got there and mentioned to the hostess, while asking her to take a picture of us, that it was our anniversary.  So she seated us, and our waitress showed up a minute later, breathless and apologetic because she was afraid we’d been sitting there for several minutes before she noticed.  It had only been about one minute or so, so we let her off the hook.  🙂  1st good thing: bottles of wine are half off on Mondays.  It was a Monday.  2nd and 3rd good things: we each ordered a cup of soup.  Lobster bisque = fantastic.  She-crab bisque = really good.  John ordered scallops over pasta.  I think he really liked them.  The bite I had was very good.  Sadly, my mussels were just okay.  John tried a couple and got some bad ones.  (He’s fine.)  Mine were all fine, but the sauce they were in didn’t do much for me.  We decided to skip dessert and take the rest of the wine home (screw top), and when our waitress came back with the check, she had a bag that said “Happy 9th Anniversary” on it.  The bag had our bottle of wine and a free chocolate torte!  So she got a big tip.  🙂  And we had dessert when we got home.  Very good torte.  So those were good things 5 and 6 (4 was John’s entree).  We’d go there again.

I love gift cards

I know there are people out there who think gift cards are the cop-out gift, the gift that says, “I didn’t put any thought into what to buy you for this occasion”, but I’m not one of those people.  I suppose a gift card could say that, if you received one for something you have no interest in, but I’m talking about the ones that say, “I know you really like books, but I have no idea what you have already or what you might want, so here.  Go shopping.”  Or, “You said you need clothes, and you want clothes, but I’ll just mess up the sizes or the colors or the style, so here.  Go shopping.”  I LOVE those.  And my family tends to come through for me, as evidenced by the years of Amazon and Ann Taylor gift cards.  They’re perfect.  I don’t mean to say that I don’t appreciate the sweater or the DVD, ’cause I do, and I like them very much, and I’m thrilled that you know me well enough to pick out the right sweater and DVD.  But it’s so much FUN to actually do the shopping and the picking out that I feel like I got TWO gifts.

My point is that today was my big shopping day.  By 11am, I’d been to three stores: 1) Kohl’s, so I could exchange pants for John, 2) Target, ’cause John needs cushion-y socks for his work shoes, and 3) the Ann Taylor Factory Store in the outlet mall so I could spend my fabulous gift cards on fabulous work clothes for my new job (that starts next week!  Yikes!).  From there I went to the mall mall to look for a headband at Lord & Taylor (which I did not find – maybe it’s supposed to be at Ann Taylor Loft?) and to use my Banana Republic gift card.  I could have used it at the Banana Republic in the outlet mall, but I cruised quickly through that store and didn’t see anything I liked.  At the one in the mall mall, however, I found that sweater I was drooling over with Mom in the mall in KY in the perfect GREEN shade I like so much, and I bought it for $34.99!  (It was $59.99 two weeks ago.  Yay for sales.)  And I got a cream cami (with satin-ish trim) to go under it AND they gave me an extra 10% off just for using my gift card.  Yay for retail desperation.

Here is a badly aimed (and blurry) picture of the two of us outside the restaurant before dinner last night:

Blurry as it is, this picture is far better than our other attempts.  We asked the hostess to take one before we were seated, but it’s too far away and overexposed.  The ones we took after we got home have strange expressions and double chins.  (The photos themselves, not us.)  Not okay for internet viewing.

Home again, home again, something something

And also, happy anniversary to us!  John and I were married nine years ago today, which makes me feel old, and at the same time, makes me think, “HOLY CHICKEN MARSHMALLOW BALLS (tm Dooce) we were so young when we got married!”  That might not have been the exact wording of that thought, but you get the idea.  And I like that phrase.  🙂

I just came back from my first pedicure in….well, more than two months for sure.  I don’t remember exactly when I last pampered my feet.  It was definitely before we became, ahem, monetarily challenged.  My new job starts in exactly one week, and I need nice-looking feet.  Well, I don’t need them, but they sure make me feel more prepared.  I’m putting my manicure off until this weekend (I really do need nice-looking hands) because a whole week would give me way too many opportunities to screw up my nails.  No one at work will actually see my feet until summer when I can wear sandals.

I have a very busy (and short) week.  I need to buy clothes (yay for after-Christmas sales!), get a haircut, fill out paperwork for my new job, prepare for New Year’s Eve (clean and shop), and get as much filing done as possible.

Anyway, so today is our anniversary.  Maybe I’ll remember my camera and manage to take a picture of the two of us at dinner.  ‘Cause we’re going out to dinner.  We’re going to Hooked, a seafood place I’ve been dying to try ever since our buddy Jeff first told us about it.  It’s been at least two years since he told us about it, and there’s no good reason why we haven’t made it there in that ridiculously large amount of time, but – look, we’re going there tonight, so back off, okay?  🙂  They have mussels.  I love mussels.  I’m having mussels for dinner.  Yay!

Asleep on my feet

Here’s my thinking: I know I should write something, but I’m so tired.  We just watched Julie and Julia, which I watched last week with Mom and Dad and liked very much, and three of the four people in the room who hadn’t seen it already slept through the second half.  Not a good response.  But I love watching movies here.  The basement is set up like a theater, with a big screen and great recliners (SIX recliners!) (and I keep trying to spell it “reclinders”), and with the lights out, it’s really cool.

Exhaustion is setting in, though, and I’m ready to go home.  We’ve had lots of fun and lots of late nights in a row, and I just can’t keep that up for this many days in a row.  And I miss the dogs.  And my bed.  And the dogs.  Sometime tomorrow we’ll hit the road.  I hope the traffic won’t be too bad.

Christmas Eve, Take Two

So our plans changed.  Instead of the mall and a movie, we drove to Long Island this afternoon to see John’s grandmother, Rose.  We hit some major traffic in NY (going over the bridge and beyond), but that was mostly rush hour.  Instead of three hours, it took us about four and a half.  But I had Molly and Emily in the car with me (John went with his parents), so we had a good time.  (Big sing-along.)  We had a good visit (2 to 3 hours) and ate a ton of Chinese food, and then we headed back home (after a stop at Dunkin Donuts).  This time I had Pat and Molly (Emily went with her dad, and Tom and John drove together – we picked up Tom at Rose’s place), so after we sang the entire Bing Crosby Christmas album, we sang the whole soundtrack to The Sound of Music.  The trip flew by and all of a sudden, we were home and it was midnight.  So Merry Christmas.  I’m going to bed.

My first white Christmas

Assuming, of course, that the snow doesn’t melt away today.  It’s Christmas Eve morning, and John and I are sitting at the kitchen counter in his parents’ house in PA.  John’s dad is sitting at the desk in the kitchen, and the three of us are ignoring each other in favor of our laptops.  John is working (let this be a lesson to you all: work sucks), and I just applied for two jobs (required for unemployment).  Emily and I went for a jog with Mabel this morning, John went for a jog by himself, Molly slept in, and Pat went to work at an absurdly early hour.  I was awake then, too, because I blocked her in last night and she had to wake us up so we could move the car.  She’s on her way home now.

We decided to use a pet-sitting service instead of the kennel this year.  We’re a little nervous about leaving the dogs loose in the house for so many days, but the sitters have five different ways of getting in touch with us, so we should find out pretty quickly if disaster strikes.

I’m just babbling now.  The plan for the day (since no one has any emergency shopping to do – a first!) is to go to the mall (outdoor mall) to soak up the Christmas ambience and then maybe go to a movie.  After breakfast, I hope, ’cause I’m getting hungry!

Shoveling is hard

Shoveling is made harder when there are 19 inches of snow and only one snow shovel.  I was using the regular shovel.  Not as efficient.  It took us more than two hours to clear the driveway, the cars, and the sidewalk.  Then John cleared the deck.

Also, our shopping is basically done.  Yay!

Now, pictures.

Here’s the bench on the deck after the snow stopped last night:

View of the deck before shoveling this morning (through the sliding glass doors):

The deck after John shoveled:

Some pictures of the yard:

And some pictures of Roxy in the snow:

This isn’t supposed to happen here!

It’s 3:40pm, we have over a foot of snow (judging by the undisturbed pile on top of the table on the deck), and it’s still coming down.  This is nuts.  We could probably leave the house if we really needed to, in the Tucson with 4-wheel drive on, but the roads haven’t been plowed (not in the neighborhood, at least) and we have everything we need here.  I got home last night right about 5pm, let the dogs out, unloaded the car, and went back right back out to Wegman’s.  We have plenty of food.  Good stuff, too.

The snow started before we went to bed last night, and we had 4-6 inches when we woke up.  John went out front to shovel (we figured it would be easier to shovel at the end if we made a dent in the beginning), and I played in the back with the dogs.  We shoveled the deck, too, but that was three and a half hours ago and it’s like we were never outside, front or back.  I just let the dogs out again, and Riley didn’t even bother to leave the deck at first.  He just peed on a pile of snow.  ON the deck.  I can’t blame him.  It doesn’t really matter.  But they love the snow.  Riley more than Roxy.

We didn’t eat breakfast until about noon (since we shoveled and played first).  We have a fire, we’re watching TV, John is doing some programming stuff, and I’ve been reading during the commercials.  We’ll probably switch to movies (other than those that happen to be on right now) soon, like White Christmas.  Seems appropriate.  🙂  We were watching Keeping the Faith earlier.  I love that movie.  It was on TBS or USA or something, so it was edited a bit, but I love it anyway.

And here are the pictures.

View of the deck table around 9:30am:

View of the bench around 9:30am:

View of the deck table after we let the dogs out:

View of the deck table about 5 hours later:

View of the bench around 3:30pm:

Sister Mary Riley:

Obi-wan Riley:

A good (normal) picture of Riley:

And Riley’s warning look: “Back off, buddy, I’d had about enough of you and that camera.”

Cold in Kentucky

Well, the weather outside is chilly (not very frightful), but inside is nice and toasty, made more so by the Yuletide Fire DVD Mom got.

I had a very weird few moments at the Canadian Brass concert (where they played only a couple of Christmas songs) Saturday night.  They played Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which I know from their Greatest Hits album.  I listened to that album on repeat while reading The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through, by Stephen R. Donaldson, years and years ago, and ever since then, whenever I hear that album, I’m returned to that story.  That’s never happened to me with a live performance before, but it did Saturday night.  For the length of the song, scenes from the books were shuffling through my memory.  Strange.  But cool.

Then Jess and I stayed up to watch Love Actually and drink champagne.  🙂  Until 2am.

I wimped out on my run this morning.  I took Howdy with me, but I left my ear muffs and gloves behind.  We only made it three blocks before I decided I was too cold.  That was dumb, ’cause it’s going to be even colder tomorrow.  I won’t forget my ear muffs and gloves again, but I don’t know how much that’ll help.


I don’t feel like I did enough today, and I think it’s because I didn’t run.  I got out and ran some errands (bought a new thermostat, got the oil changed in my car, had copies made of the house keys for the new pet sitter (who we’re meeting tomorrow)), so I was at least, you know, active, but I feel like a slob.

Dinner, while delicious and healthy (kimchi, rice, lettuce wraps), was painful.  I have a cut on my thumb, just under the nail, and the rice vinegar and soy sauce in the kimchi hurt a lot as it ran over my hands.  Which happened with every bite.  John eventually gave up on the lettuce wraps and just ate rice and kimchi with a fork.  Next time I’ll make sure we have chopsticks.  This is the second time I’ve made kimchi (using Mark’s recipe – good recipe, Mark!), and it turned out pretty well.  John has already eaten most of the non-spicy batch I made for him.

Tomorrow Jess is coming over, and we’re going to see the Canadian Brass Christmas concert at George Mason.  John surprised me with tickets for this concert last year at the Kennedy Center.  He’s pretty good with surprises.  And the concert was great, so I’m very excited.  And Jess is coming over!

Couldn’t do it

I tried to run this morning.  Really, I did.  I got up before John left for work, put on my running clothes, and then checked the temperature.  About 24 degrees, with a wind chill of 17.  I decided to wait.  Around 10:30, the temperature was about 30, with a wind chill of 20.  I added layers to my running clothes and headed out.  I got to the bottom of the hill, turned the corner, and was blasted back by FRIGID air.  SO cold.  I made it around the block and went home.  I can handle cold (to a point), and I can handle windy (to a point), but the combination is killer.  I thought maybe I could wait until it warms up a little today, but 1) it’s not going to warm up much more, and 2) as the air temperature rises (all of maybe 5 more degrees), the wind speed will rise today, too.  So the wind chill isn’t going to get any better, and I’m a little afraid of the wind chill.

Appliances shouldn’t tell lies

Today was a good day.  I ran 5 miles (in the windy, chilly, sunny morning), made kimchi, filed a little, and then went to the holiday party for my new job.  The new job I haven’t started yet.  It was fun, and I’m really glad I went.  I met most of the team for the project I’ll be working on.  My new boss (I think) was assigned to keep me company, so she introduced me to people and stuck by me.  She’s really nice, and she filled me on what I’ll be doing and who I’ll be working with.  Everyone was really friendly.  I’m sure I’ll be nervous as my first day approaches, but after this afternoon, I think I’ll be able to keep those nerves to a minimum.

In other news, I’m cold.  I think the thermostat is lying.  It says it’s 68 degrees in the house (or at least in the dining room), but I don’t believe it.  Appliances shouldn’t tell lies.  (Is a thermostat an appliance?  Maybe it’s a gadget.)  Looking for a replacement is on my list of things to do tomorrow, along with making copies of my house keys and getting an oil change.  And going to the library.

Not enough time

I still have over three full weeks before I rejoin the working world, but I feel like I don’t have enough time.  (I know, stop whining (for any number of reasons).)  I’m just amazed at how quickly all this time filled up.  I’ll be visiting Mom and Dad all of next week, and then we’ll go to PA for Christmas sometime the week after that.  In between, I plan to spend a day or so with Jess in MD.  We’ll be back from PA for our anniversary (I think), and then New Year’s will be on top of us.  And I start the Monday after New Year’s.  So I have somewhere between 10 and 12 whole days with nothing planned in them.  Maybe 9 to 11.  And now that I’ve counted them out like that, it sounds like more free time than before.  It’s just when I look at it week by week that it looks super busy.  I certainly don’t want to NOT do any of the things I have planned.  And I’ll probably feel better about it when we know how many and which days John will have off from work.

So much paper!

I am amazed at how many boxes of paper (bills, letters, investment information, etc) we have.  I started organizing and filing them this afternoon, but before I could do that, I had to dig them out of the basement.  Eight boxes plus things I’d stashed in other places around the house.  This is going to take me forever.  But the dining room is as done as it can be without new furniture.  Well, that’s not really true.  The replacement outlet plates I bought aren’t big enough, and I don’t have new window treatments.  And I need John’s help to fix the trim going into the living room before I can paint that part.  So really, I’m just done with the painting.  But that’s close enough for me.

Roxy’s Big Getaway

Roxy made a break for it this morning as John was leaving for work.  He was cleaning ice from his windshield, and I was just closing the door when she slipped out and headed across the yard.  John dropped everything to chase her, and I grabbed my shoes and her leash and followed.  I got outside and found John standing at the top of the hill, looking down the cross street.  When I got there, Roxy was looking at us from most of the way down the block, wagging her tail slowly.  I called her and she started to come to me, but got distracted by who knows what.  I jingled the leash, her ears perked up, and she took off towards me, sliding on the ice on the sidewalk.  I met her halfway, got the leash on her, and took her home.  Apparently, the joys of a walk trump freedom.  Or she’s stupid.  You decide.

She was so happy to be on the leash that I went home, got Riley, and took them both for a walk.  After I put socks on.  Walking in snow and ice in old mesh running shoes without socks is not so much fun.  Why wasn’t I wearing socks?  Well, I was in a hurry and my shoes were on the steps.  Who knows how far away Roxy would have been if I’d taken the time to go upstairs and get socks, too.  Every second counts, people!

Party on, Wayne.

I’m tired of painting.  The second coat is on, so tomorrow I’ll do the trim.  Or at least part of it.  I think I’ll need John’s help with a couple of things.

I should feel more tired than I do.  It was after 1:30 when we got home last night from the holiday party.  I’m sure it’ll catch up with me tonight.  The party was fun, though.  Lots of food, open bar, a live band and music when the band needed a break.  We went to find Joe so we could say goodbye on our way out, but Joe was on the dance floor, so saying goodbye turned into an hour of dancing.  I like to dance.  🙂

So you know how John is usually the tallest person in the room?  He’s got a coworker who’s 6’6″.  We spent a lot of time talking to him last night, and I just couldn’t get over how he dwarfs John.  It was totally weird.

And now I’m off to shovel the sidewalk and the driveway.  Here’s a cute picture of Roxy (I didn’t want her to feel left out).

Dining Room Makeover, Part IV

First coat is on!  Second coat tomorrow, then trim, then…furniture?  We haven’t talked about exactly when we’re getting the new dining room table.

This first picture shows the contrast between the primer and the new color.  It kinda looks like my walls are bleeding color.  It’s creeping in all on its own.  Run away!

Here’s the same corner with the first coat.

And here’s another view of the dining room, with different lighting.  It doesn’t actually look this dark in person, but I don’t feel like messing with my camera to fix it.  (You may wonder why I’m showing you this picture in that case.  Don’t worry about it, okay?)

And now for the other important announcement:

It’s snowing!  Like, a lot.  2 to 4 inches by the end of the evening.  See?

And because you’ve been so patient, here’s another adorable picture of Riley.

Now, I have to get in the shower and remove all the paint from my hands and arms (I think I kept it out of my hair.  Go me!) so I can look presentable at the party tonight.  If only paint removal was enough to make me look presentable…