Goal achieved

I got up this morning, trying not to think too hard about my actual age, and set ONE goal for the day.


Breakfast: I went to Allan Bros (the local coffee place about six blocks from the house with the view of the prison) and had a French Toast latte and a giant eclair.  I mean, this thing was enormous.  It was about 3/4 the length of my forearm.  I read my book, I messed around on my laptop, and I went home in time to gather up John and head for lunch.

Lunch: We went to Mom’s Pies and had a slice of pie each.  Me: berry medley (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries).  John: apple.  They were out of ice cream, which was a little disappointing, but the pies were really good.  We got there just in time – the owner is closing the store in a few weeks in favor of his wholesale business.  He said we can buy them frozen to bake at home from a couple of local grocery stores so we won’t be completely bereft.

Dinner: Cake.  John baked me a cake (yellow cake, chocolate frosting), and that’s what I ate for dinner.   With a glass of milk, of course.  It was delicious.

All sugar, all day.  Happy birthday to me!

I did it!

I finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry this morning, and I am ready to go to my new book club tomorrow evening.  It was a nice book, sweet, about nice people and a bookshop.  What’s not to like?  After I finished that, I finished Abaddon’s Gate (the book I kept putting aside, through no fault of its own – it was very good), and then I started Court of Fives.  I did all of that before noon today (while hanging out at a coffee shop I can walk to from the house), and then I went to the grocery store, read a bit more at home, ran outside for the first time in 5 weeks, and now I’m making a sweet potato pie to take to Wendy (riding instructor) like I promised I would back at the holiday party.

It has been a very productive day off.

Breaking habits

We went out for New Year’s Eve last night, back to that arcade bar we like.  The DJ played 20s music with techno beats (which was kind of awesome, actually), and more than half of the games (Mario Bros, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Tron, Asteroid, Pacman, Missile Command, some racing game, some of the pinball games, others I can’t remember) were set to free play, so we drank and played and danced until midnight and then walked ourselves home.

I can’t remember the last New Year’s Eve we were out.  Like, OUT, out.  In public, with people we don’t know.  That’s not how we do New Year’s Eve.  Last year, we rang the new year in at Emily and Sean’s house, with them and Molly.  The year before that, we were at home with Jess and Chuck, and the seven? eight? more? years before that, we were at home in Ashburn with most of our friends over.  That was before we became the total hermits we are now.  We used to have actual grown-up parties at our house with food and drinks and friends.  I used to throw Derby parties and New Year’s Eve parties, have the occasional cookout, host Friendsgiving (maybe that was only once…)…  Now, I think about all of that and wonder how I did it.  I’m not a natural hostess.  It feels like a completely different life.  Fun, but far from how I feel now, which is totally weird because it hasn’t been that long.

Eh, that’s enough navel-gazing for New Year’s Day.

In case there was any doubt about how I prefer to spend my time

End of the year musings?  Sure, let’s be like everyone else.

There are plenty of reasons to call 2016 the worst year in recent history (TRUMP and the untimely deaths of Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Anton Yelchin, and so on), but personally it wasn’t so bad.  It feels like forever ago, but we moved to OR in 2016, John got his rec pilot’s license, he’s in a band, I’m riding, Emily had a baby, Corey and Christine got engaged, and I got a new job (same company) that lowered my work stress by 50% at least.

I discovered Temeraire and Captain Laurence and time-traveling historians and the Others and a ton of other new books and series to love and…WOW.  Well, I have to declare 2016 a good year for me, despite the rest of the world, because I read nearly twice as many books this year as I did last year and four times as many as I read in 2013.  (There are advantages to keeping a book list.)  Yay for more reading time!

Still hoping for a miraculous recovery

Apparently I don’t get to feel better this trip.  My stomach has begun to make known its unhappiness with a steady diet of sinus meds and ibuprofen, but I can’t stop taking the meds or my head will explode.

I had coffee with Jess this morning (she drove up from Annapolis to say hi).  I was okay for most of that, but then I alarmed everyone at Panera when I caught my breath weirdly and raced for the bathroom so I could cough up my lung, which seemed to have put down roots in my right foot.  (There was some deep, loud, awful-sounding coughing is what I’m saying.  The walls in the bathroom shook.)  So then I came back out, all red-faced and puffy-eyed, and she took me back to the house.  Everyone was getting ready to go walk around downtown Frederick (which I’m sure looks lovely all decorated for the holidays), but I bowed out.  I’m inside, hanging out with the snoring dog, about to start snoring myself.  A nap may do me good.  (It did yesterday.  I don’t take enough naps.)

Don’t volunteer to navigate for a car full of loud talkers

I don’t even know how to start this.  Let’s see.  We’re in Maryland for Christmas this year instead of Pennsylvania because Emily and Sean had Graham in September, and they volunteered to host rather than make another trip to PA.  (Apparently, they’ve been up there every other weekend since the baby was born.)  As a treat for the whole family (and to use up some of their Marriott elite rewards), John’s parents (Pat and John) took us all to spend the night at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel, which is one of those crazy big fancy hotels with a giant atrium and beautiful facilities and a big ice-carving show.  We got our own rooms (a break from being on top of each other in Emily’s house), had dinner out, saw the ice-carving thing (they gave us parkas to wear OVER our coats because they keep the ice-carving exhibit at 9 degrees), and watched this garish, over-the-top, totally tacky and totally fun light and music show in the atrium.

Getting there, though, was a bit difficult.  We were in two cars – Emily, Sean, and the baby in their car, and me, Molly, and John in the backseat of his parents’ car.  The hotel is right off the beltway, in MD south of DC, first exit after the Woodrow Wilson bridge if you’re coming from VA.  John’s dad was driving, his mom had shotgun, and in the backseat, John was behind his dad, Molly was on the hump in the middle, and I was behind their mom.  I was in charge of directions, which was unfortunate yesterday.  Just as we were getting off the highway, when the directions were like “Keep left to stay on X” then “keep left to stay on X”, then “get on the ramp towards I-95S”, but don’t get on the highway, “keep left to stay on X” – so, repetitive and slightly confusing – Pat told John to call Emily to find out where she was.  She had parking questions, so John was talking to Emily and Pat, Pat was yelling advice to Emily (on John’s phone), Molly was in the middle fuming about how Emily should just unload already and park since we’re checking in and why is this conversation even happening?, and I was trying to provide John’s dad with the admittedly confusing directions across and on top of all this noise.

I was not successful.

We ended up back on the highway.  Then we took the exit again to get to the hotel, tried to follow similar (but slightly different) confusing directions, and ended up on the highway AGAIN, because all of the previous conversations were STILL going on and John’s dad couldn’t hear me AND I couldn’t see very well so I couldn’t direct effectively.  After we got on the highway a THIRD time, I had resigned myself to spending all night on 495, with the hotel in view but forever out of reach.

Thankfully, John VII hadn’t given up yet, and he was able to get everyone to shut the hell up long enough to make the correct turns and get us there.

Here was the view from our balcony (we had a balcony):


Can we postpone Christmas until I feel better?

You know what’s not cool?

  • Being sick
  • Being sick on vacation
  • Being sick on vacation in someone else’s house
  • Being sick on vacation in someone else’s house with the sneaking suspicion that the “surprise” planned for tonight involves a night out in a big shopping area with a big Christmas tree and a stay in a hotel

This isn’t even the first time I’ve been sick on Christmas at someone else’s house and thank GOODNESS I’m not as sick this time as I was the last time.  Last time, John and I spent the morning of Christmas Eve at Urgent Care.  This time, I’m hopefully (cross your fingers) over the hump, but I’m still congested and coughing and dealing with a sore throat and taking medicine every four hours.  I’m keeping my distance from the baby and drinking ALL the water (there won’t be any water left in Maryland by the time I leave – I’m working on draining the Chesapeake Bay) and trying to be more fun than I feel.

I’m hoping for a miracle.  ‘Tis the season!


My new book (Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal) is like Pride and Prejudice with a little of magic, and guys, that makes me SO VERY HAPPY.  I’m only 20 pages in, but that’s enough to hook me completely.

John and I are making too much food for two people this Thanksgiving.  Certainly too much food for two people who don’t own a microwave.  We’ll have to use the oven to reheat the leftovers, like savages.  Somehow we’ll manage.

Oh, also, we’re calling it Nerdsgiving (or I am – I don’t think John really cares).  We’re reading, watching Doctor Who, and then after dinner (and after Doctor Who), GAMES.  Probably Lords of Waterdeep, possibly followed by…hm.  Something else we can play with just two people.  Or more TV!  We’ve got comic book movies to watch (re-watch) or maybe Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  (We’re feeling British-y today, which is weird on Thanksgiving, I know, but not weird for nerds!)

Derby Day!

I tried the 14 Hands red blend today because they had a Kentucky Derby label, and since today was Derby Day, how could I resist?  It wasn’t half-bad, actually.  Not my favorite, but totally drinkable.


I picked Whitmore as my winner.  BAD choice, guys.  He came in LAST.  I would say second to last, but the actual last horse didn’t even finish, so technically, my guy was last.   I switched to Whitmore at the last minute because of the jockey (Victor Espinoza, who rode Triple Crown winner American Pharoah last year).  My original choice was Oscar Nominated, who only finished two ahead of Whitmore, so I wouldn’t have won anything no matter what.  Not a good day for the betting version of me.  Luckily, the betting version of me doesn’t see much action.  She’s not lucky.

St. Patrick’s Day festivities

Our St. Patrick’s Day festivities are days late and did not include drinking.  We’re not very good partial (or fake) Irish people.  I am wearing green, though.

Corned beef and cabbage for lunch, plus a good luck cake for our trip out west.


We’re completely stuffed from that, but I really want the tres leches cake I know is waiting in the fridge.  We’ll just skip dinner and eat cake.  Later.  Much later.

I ran out to the hardware store to make a copy of our storage unit key for Emily and Sean, and when I came back, I found two thirds of the family asleep in the living room.


We might not make it to the next round of cake.  That would probably be okay.  Except not.  It’s really good cake.

Small things

Small thing #1: It’s St. Patrick’s Day and EVERYONE is wearing green and when I went for a run at lunch (wearing green, of course), the weather was lovely and warm and EVERYONE was outside and EVERYONE was smiling at EVERYONE else.  It was pleasant.

Small thing #2: John’s flight test guy called this morning to reschedule John’s exam and check ride (which were supposed to be tomorrow) because he’s sick and can’t fly.  John is relieved (more time to prepare), annoyed (he was READY for tomorrow), and anxious because our deadline is approaching and he NEEDS to get this out of the way before we leave town.  The flight test guy is aware of the deadline, and he has penciled John in for three different days next week.  He’ll be well enough (and the weather will cooperate) for at least ONE of those days.

Presidents Day, Annapolis Edition

What have I done today?  A lot and not much, both of which are fine with me.  Made banana nut bread for breakfast, which also became lunch, watched a never-ending episode of Arrow (John is working today, so we kept pausing the episode for extended periods of time.  The show is not that good, so it didn’t really matter that we came back to it with little memory of the preceding dialogue.), and then I made my way through a handful of graphic novels.  Re-read volume 1 of Chew (which has a very interesting, totally disgusting premise), read volume 2 (which I enjoyed even more), re-read volume 1 of The Wicked + The Divine (still really good), and started volume 1 of the Federal Bureau of Physics.  After that, I only have two more new ones to check out, and then I can go all digital, all the time, plus library books, with a clear conscience.

The snow has stopped for the moment, but the sleet and the rain are supposed to be moving in.  I have no intention of leaving the apartment today.  We’re considering extending the breakfast theme into dinner and having eggs and toast instead of spaghetti.

We’ve had a really good weekend being out and about, but it’s nice to be able to stay inside, be anti-social, and not talk to anyone for the day.  Decompress.  This coming week will be both stressful and relaxing, possibly at the same time.  Today is necessary.

The beginning of the year

You’re supposed to start the new year the way you plan to continue it, right?  (Or something like that?)  Well, I noticed Athleta’s semi-annual sale AND extra 20% off all sale items, so I started this year by ordering five ridiculously-low-priced items from my favorite store for a ridiculously low total.

We did NOT stop at the grocery store on our way back from Emily and Sean’s house (even though we could have AND we talked about it), so we will not be cooking tonight.  Let that say whatever it says about how we’re handling cooking this year.  Miracles may happen somewhere, but probably not in my kitchen.

John is studying for his pilot exam, and I’m going to read (because despite what I said in one of my recent posts, I am capable of enjoying the books on my bookshelf).

Happy new year!

The end of the year

I think I’m ending 2015 just right.  I ran first thing this morning, went to the wine store to stock up for going to Emily’s tonight, got coffee from Starbucks and drank it on the city dock with Jess, all before 10:30.  Sometime this afternoon, we’ll head to Frederick to spend New Year’s Eve with Sean, Emily, and Molly.  It’s going to be a good day.

John flew this morning and is studying with his instructor to get ready for the exam.  I might use this time to play video games….

Found another good one

We went to Osteria 177 for our anniversary dinner.  It’s one of the fancier restaurants on Main Street, and this one was good (so that makes…four? five good ones?).  We went early (skipped lunch), and at 5:30, I think there was only one other table in use.  They sat us in the front window and gave us the waiter several Yelp reviewers raved about.  (They weren’t wrong – he was great.)  Dinner was wonderful, the wine was good, we split a yummy off-menu dessert, and we didn’t spend our entire savings account on it.

Figured I’d get some pictures of us first, and since I’m an Instagrammer now, I posted them there.  Sorry about the cross-pollination, those of you who follow me in both places.  I did NOT take any pictures of or at the restaurant. I may be on Instagram, and I may be guilty of posting the occasional food picture there, but I am not willing to be THAT GUY. Not in a fancy restaurant, anyway. We even dressed up!

Happy 15th anniversary to us!

A photo posted by @zannah42 on

I thought I was going to die

I have eaten so much food these last few days, it’s ridiculous.  After Christmas dinner (Beef Wellington), I thought I was going to burst, and then when Molly and I went for a run the next morning, I thought I was going to throw up.  I can barely think about that dinner.  I mean, it was delicious and wonderful, but it’s going to be a while before I can remember it without shuddering.

Gotta stop talking about it.  I may never eat again.  Until breakfast.

Ugly “sweaters”

This year’s festivities included an ugly sweater contest.   I was not inclined to participate (and John didn’t really care).  We don’t own Christmas sweaters, and I didn’t see much point in buying an ugly sweater just for this.  Seemed dumb.  So we arrived without, and Emily was disappointed in our lack of enthusiasm.  I caved to family pressure (a little) and bought two t-shirts and some fabric markers from Michael’s.

John wrote the end of Chevy Chase’s rant from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on his.  I found that fabric markers (red and silver) didn’t show up on my black t-shirt at all.  Luckily, Molly had some glitter paint markers left over from who knows what, so I painted a menorah on the front and wrote “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal” on the back.  (Thank you, Home Alone.)



It was a little harder to read when I actually wore the shirt.  Also, it was glitter paint, so it needed time to dry.  I put the shirt on hanger (with a swivel hook) and hung it in a doorway.  The paint ran, especially on the menorah.  It’s fine on the candles.  I can imagine that’s dripping wax.  But the menorah’s base was supposed to end at that horizontal line.  After the dripping, it kind of looks like a pitchfork.  Oh, well.

Now that I think about it, I don’t think we actually judged or ranked the clothes.

We’re not nice people

It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is here.  We’ve started drinking, we’re working on our ugly sweaters (or t-shirts, for some of us), and games (Munchkin, maybe, probably Taboo, almost certainly Bananagrams – we know how to party) and a contest are coming up.  We’re expecting a lovely Christmas Eve, at least partially because a certain someone has decided she’s not feeling well and has gone off to bed.  Poor thing.  Guess the rest of us will have to make merry without her.  We’ll manage somehow.

I’ve been banned from the basement for the time being.  I think Molly is wrapping my present.  The making of the Beef Wellington (by John and his mother) is imminent.  We’re very excited.  But if they’re busy in the kitchen, and I’m not allowed to hang out in the basement, I might have a few minutes’ quiet.  “Quiet”, I should say.  Christmas music is blasting, and there’s plenty of good-natured shouting (followed by shushing) going on.

Oops, I’ve been summoned to help Emily with something.  And I have to change the song – it’s that depressing Peanuts one.


It has begun

It’s a misty day in PA.  John’s parents live on top of a ridge, so the view out the back of the house is of treetops shrouded in fog.  Not very many treetops, though – visibility is so low we can’t see very far.

We’re about to head to Long Island for the afternoon and evening.  We’ll visit John’s grandmother and then go to a party to see some cousins no one has talked to in years and some other cousins we see all the time (where all the time = once a year).  Probably have another late night (got to bed about 1am Monday night), and then tomorrow everyone else is supposed to arrive.  Christmas is here.  I have proof.  Photographic evidence.

Tree 1:


Tree 2:IMG_20151222_125351

It doesn’t get much Christmasier than that.