Did I mention that our vacation was beyond fantastic?

One week ago tonight (plus 5 hours), John and I were in the Royal Shakespeare Theater in Stratford-upon-Avon watching a Shakespeare play performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.  (That should probably be Royal Shakespeare Theatre…)  It was a last-minute decision.  Mom and Dad spent the day in the cottage and around the village.  John and I took the car to see the ruins of Hailes Abbey (beautiful), and when we realized it was a little too late (nearing 5pm) to see anything else, we decided to head to Stratford-upon-Avon.  We knew we’d get there too late to get into any of the touristy stuff, but we could still go see stuff.  And have tea.  I love having afternoon tea.  We got there right at 5pm (when the attractions were closing), so aside from a quick glance into a gift shop, we only got to see the outside of the birthplace of Shakespeare and that stuff.  We had our tea (a light cream tea – we planned to find dinner somewhere before we headed back to Chipping Campden and Mom and Dad), and we took a walk down Henley Street (with all its closed shops) and eventually found the Avon.  We dawdled there for a while and then noticed the Royal Shakespeare Theatre as we walked by.  The doors were open, we saw books on shelves, and all of a sudden we found ourselves in the gift shop.  Amazing how that works.  We browsed for 20 minutes or so and were on our way out when I suggested we check the box office.  What’s on tonight?  Who cares?  If there are seats available and they’re somewhat reasonably priced, we should stay, right?  Of course right.  So we asked.  Hey, it’s King John.  How much are the tickets?  Only £16 each?  Hey, it starts at 7:30.  What time is it now?  Oh, 7:06?  And we have to move the car?  We can get the car moved in time if we run.  So we ran.  Well, we walked really fast.  Turns out we didn’t have to move the car (just put more money in), so we rushed back, bought our tickets, and sat down just in time for the play to start.

It was really good.  Really good.  And interestingly staged, if that’s the word.  Shakespearean language, contemporary costumes and setting.  And music.  The wedding scene made my whole week.  (“I Say A Little Prayer For You” segued into “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” with the choreography from the end of Dirty Dancing.  SO.  MUCH.  FUN.)

One of many pictures of Hailes Abbey. Also, proof of the beautiful weather we had most of the week.

Hamlet says hello. Or, you know, "Alas, poor Yorick."

I didn't have the foresight to get a picture of the whole building...

...but I did get a shot of the books that lured us in.

Why did it have to end?

We’re home, and it was wonderful, and can I please please please go back?  The last couple of days at home were so peaceful and restful.  I avoided my work email and managed to wake up this morning still feeling somewhat serene and would you believe it?  A day at work with lots of catching up to do and one crisis (that I couldn’t get resolved today) did NOT get to me.  I still feel pretty good and not at all stressed.  Except for the headache.  It’ll go away.

Bicycles in Oxford - Everywhere I turned, there were people riding bikes. Some with robes flapping behind them, some in skirts, some in casual clothes. Then there was the one guy riding down the street on a unicycle, but I didn't get my camera out in time to catch him.

Here’s a video I took today of Roxy eating peanut butter. Because you’re worth it, and gosh darn it, I like you.

Chipping Campden – what a wonderful name

I’m not going to turn this into a full travel write-up (she says in the first sentence of what will probably turn into a travelogue), but I’ll hit the highlights:

Second day in London – totally awesome.  We had breakfast near the hotel and then walked all of 50 steps over to St. Paul’s Cathedral.  So very impressive.  (Sadly, there was no bird lady and there were only a few birds.  I didn’t do any singing there.)  We decided not to go in and do the whole cathedral, though.  £15 apiece seemed a little steep, and we knew we’d be seeing plenty of churches and cathedrals during the week.  From there, we walked across the Millenium Bridge (where I did do some singing – we saw a guy selling the world’s smallest kites, so I sang “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”) and over to the Globe Theatre.  Signed up for a tour, watched a Brazilian troupe rehearsing for a matinee of Romeo and Juliet (in Portuguese, and the play had been interpreted for Brazilian culture – lots of singing, some dancing, and a station wagon as part of the set.  It was crazy.).

From there, we crossed back over the Thames on the Tower Bridge, walked around the Tower of London (we visited during our honeymoon eleven and a half years ago – no time on Saturday), got some ice cream, and headed back to the hotel to pick up our stuff and head back to Heathrow to meet Mom and Dad.  We got there right on time and drove to Chipping Campden to settle in to our cottage for the rest of the week.

The cottage is adorable.  Two rooms on the main floor (sitting room with a fireplace, kitchen in the back), one bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, and another bedroom and bathroom on the second floor (where John and I are staying).  Very cozy.  So cozy, in fact, that we can hear every word spoken in the house from anywhere in the house.  We didn’t realize that until around midnight Saturday night, when John and I found we were listening to Mom talk to Corey on the phone.  We found out the next morning that she’d been on the ground floor, not the first floor, the whole time.  So we’ve instituted a whisper rule for bedtime (barring phone calls home, of course, because whispering on the phone is kind of stupid).  Actually, we have yet to try out this whisper rule, since this is only our second night and we haven’t gone to bed yet.  I’ve instituted it – it remains to be seen if anyone else has.  Best part about the cottage?  The internet.  It’s reliable.  Unbelievable.

This morning (Sunday for those keeping track) – no, it wasn’t morning.  We had a hard time getting moving today.  In the early afternoon, we went to Hidcote, which has a wonderfully long rambling garden.  It was chilly, so we came back to the cottage for lunch/afternoon tea, and then we went out to check out the church.  St. James’ Church is a real medieval church, and, since we have perfect timing, we stayed for the Evensong service this evening.  That was a) my first Church of England service, and b) a real church service in a medieval church.  The priest was charming and old (and spoke with a pronounced lisp), and the 10 other members of the congregation (we all sat in the choir – the church itself was empty) were all friendly.  The priest was thrilled to see new faces.  There was more singing than I expected during the service – I didn’t think the Anglicans did that much singing.

Tomorrow, John and I are planning a trip to Oxford.  It’s late (last night it was midnight (close to 1?  I don’t remember) before we went to bed, and it’s already after eleven now), and we’re getting up early.

One of the many different views at Hidcote

If only this being in the future thing could work out financially

Wanna know something crazy?  I’ve got TWO things for you:

  1. I’m still awake and coherent.  (Fine – you can be the judge of my coherence.)
  2. It’s still the middle of the afternoon for you guys.

Insane.  Yes, my mind is easily boggled by time zones.  Get your giggling out of the way, please.

Our flight left at 10pm last night, and since neither of us slept well the night before and we both struggled through a full workday, we weren’t too concerned about not sleeping on the plane.  I mean, we both knew we’d be exhausted and jet-lagged once we arrived regardless of how well-rested we were on the way over.  Since we flew economy (naturally – we drooled over the business and first class seats on our way to the back with the rest of the cattle), our seats were uncomfortable and they didn’t recline far enough.  As expected.  So, even though we both slept some, it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t good sleep.  Actually, I guess it was enough, because we have managed to power through the entire day.  We checked in to our hotel around noon or 12:30, dropped off our stuff, and went right back out for lunch (our first meal back in the UK was fish and chips, of course).  Then we walked all over central London, mostly drinking in the atmosphere and taking pictures.  We didn’t really do anything or see anything – we had vague ideas of visiting the National Gallery, but we kind of looped around Trafalgar Square instead of actually going.

Our wandering was pretty awesome, actually.  We haven’t been to London since our honeymoon 11 and a half years ago, but I remember that we didn’t make it to Covent Garden (for no particular reason – there are a lot of places we didn’t make it to).  Our wandering today took us straight there (somewhat accidentally), so we did a little shopping, watched a few street performers (including an opera singer – she made my whole day), and didn’t dive head first into the biggest fry-up of paella I have ever seen.

From there, we walked to Leicester Square, through Piccadilly Circus, and on to St. James’s Park.  It was too late in the day to go into Westminster Abbey, so we walked around it, took a couple of pictures of Big Ben and the Parliament buildings, and hopped on the tube to come back to the hotel and eat nearby.  We’ve been fighting exhausted for a couple of hours now, and I think it’s time to give in.  It’s been almost 36 hours since I got out of my own bed Thursday morning, and I think we’ve put in enough effort to beat the jet-lag problem.  We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

Some pictures:

Check out the guy in the bottom right corner for perspective. You could go swimming in this paella.

Mallards swimming in St. James's...pond? I don't know if it has a name, but it's in the middle of the park.

A tree-lined lanes (I love tree-line lanes) down one side of St. James's Park.

Big Ben! Hey, it's Big Ben! Look! Now wave hello!

Park.  It was too late in the day to go into Westminster Abbey, so we walked around it, took a couple of pictures of Big Ben and the Parliament buildings, and hopped on the tube to come back to the hotel and eat nearby.  We’ve been fighting exhausted for a couple of hours now, and I think it’s time to give in.  It’s been almost 36 hours since I got out of my own bed Thursday morning, and I think we’ve put in enough effort to beat the jet-lag problem.  We’ll see how tomorrow goes.
Some pictures:

Check out the guy in the bottom right corner for perspective. You could go swimming in this paella.

An assessment of my run this morning, in three parts

The good: I saw a rainbow!  And I immediately shouted, “Rainbow!” because I am a moron.

The bad: Near the end of my second mile (of three), my legs couldn’t tell the difference between uphill and downhill.  It was like dragging lead weights through water both ways.

The ugly: Right after I saw the rainbow, the skies opened, and I had to run the rest of the way home (the entire last mile) in the pouring rain.  It’s hard to see when rain is sheeting down in front of your face.  I don’t recommend it.

Have you seen Text From Dog?  Hilarious.  Some of my favorites:

All I remember about lunch in elementary school is the rectangular pizza

Lunch today: one peanut butter and jelly sandwich and one small container of applesauce.  It occurred to me that I was eating the lunch of a first-grader.  All I was missing was the little half-pint container of chocolate milk with a straw.  Except I keep hearing that kids aren’t allowed to bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school anymore, so maybe this is no longer a typical lunch.  I wouldn’t really know.

Yay John!

I’m not sure it’s possible to cram more things into one weekend.  They were all good things, all fun things, but – what happened to my weekend?  We got up Saturday morning and met Erik and Margaret (and Corinne) for brunch.  Totally fun and very good to see them.  We got home Saturday afternoon, cleaned up after the dogs, and mowed the lawn.  Then we went out to see The Avengers (SO much awesome) with Will and Christina, and then, since we hadn’t seen them in a while (we’ve seen Will pretty regularly, but I haven’t seen Christina in nearly two years), we stayed out with them until nearly 1am.  This morning, we got up at a reasonable hour and headed to the George Mason campus for John’s graduation (from Virginia Tech, not George Mason).  Finally, it’s official.  John has an M.S. in Computer Science.  (I failed big time in the photo department.  Too blurry, too dark, too late – missed him.)  We met John’s parents and sisters there (they drove down for the ceremony and dinner after), so we had a very pleasant afternoon and evening with them.  Now we’re home, thoroughly exhausted, with dogs that wonder where the hell we went all weekend.  I only wonder where the hell all these ants came from.  We leave town in four days.  It’s be nice to solve this ant problem before then.

In love with Indian food

I am sore all over.  Have been all day.  I don’t know what I did ’cause I’m pretty sure I didn’t do much yesterday to deserve this.  I think it’s a holdover from yoga Wednesday night.  I woke up all stiff and tried to do some of those yoga moves on my own this morning, but I could barely bend over, so I gave up.  Which is the opposite of what I should have done, since I’m sure if I’d kept at it I would have loosened up.  Anyway, my hamstrings are tight, and my back and shoulders are sore.  But then I ate Indian food for lunch (which is synonymous with eating too much Indian for lunch), so I went to the gym and spent an hour and 20 minutes on my favorite cardio-machine-that-is-not-an-elliptical.  To punish myself.  And also to pretend I didn’t eat that much.

I did it

Kind of.  I had a work conversation that will have consequences.  Might be good or bad.  Let’s hope for good.  I think.

I’ve spent the last couple of days catching up on Fringe.  I was away too long and I missed two episodes, and at this point in the season, missing two episodes is kind of a problem.  Sure, I have Television Without Pity to catch me up, but I’d rather watch them.  Sadly, Hulu only carries the most recent five episodes (and it’s not a Hulu+ show), and it turns out I was seven episodes behind.  I read somewhere that Hulu is about to become even more limited, but I don’t remember where I found the link, and Google isn’t helping me right now.  But that will suck.

You know what won’t suck?  The Bloggess is coming to the DC area on her book tour! But wait – there is something that will suck about that.  I.  Can’t.  Go.  I can’t go and shower her with support because I will be out of town, and as happy as I am (and will be) to be on vacation, I can’t help but wish her visit wasn’t happening right then.  So you know what you local people can do?  I bet you can guess.  Go.  Go see her in Gaithersburg next Saturday (5/19) or in Annapolis next Sunday (5/20). Listen to her speak.  Get something (anything) signed.  Most importantly, tell her she’s wonderful and she can move in next door to me anytime.

I just re-read that paragraph and did a double-take.  Did I just write “shower with her support”?  Oh, wait, no.  I didn’t.

I was hacked!

GoDaddy thoroughly freaked me out today.  Within 12 hours (starting around 3am this morning), I got 5 emails, all the same, shouting about how some malicious files had been uploaded to my site last December and that if I didn’t take (some unspecified) action by this coming Monday, my account would be suspended.  I wasn’t convinced this was legitimate, since 5 emails in 12 hours with a quick deadline (especially since this apparently happened last December) seems a little…unlikely?  Suspicious?  So I went straight to the GoDaddy website and looked up their number.  It matched the number on the emails I was getting. I called.  Short answer is yes, it was legitimate (although I don’t have an answer about why they went all crazy starting at 3am this morning).  They removed the files (I don’t know what files, so I don’t know if it’s something I uploaded) and needed me to email them back stating that I understand the terms of service (or something like that).  And that is that.  I hope.  Oh, I had to change my password.  The guy started to give me a hard time about my password, saying it has to be secure, and I was like, dude, my password was totally secure.  Not a real word, capital letters, numbers, special characters – this is not my first rodeo.  I may not have worded it that way at the time.  But I should have.

So, hey.  If anyone got any weird emails from me or noticed anything out of the ordinary on the site, I apologize.

Gotta close the windows

We can’t sleep with the windows open anymore.  Actually, we rarely leave the bedroom windows open because the early morning chirping bugs the hell out of John (as I may have mentioned before).  We usually just leave the downstairs windows open all night.  Not tonight.  Not happening.  Last night, on at least 4 (maybe 5) separate occasions, Riley scared us awake with crazy barking.  Maybe something scared him awake, but then he wouldn’t shut up.  He is not our favorite dog right now.

A brilliant (and probably not original) idea and some good news

While coming home from my disappointing pedicure yesterday, I found myself behind a car at a stoplight.  The light changed, but the guy didn’t go.  I waited a couple of seconds, he still didn’t go, so I lightly tapped my horn.  It didn’t come out so light.  I wasn’t irritated, I wasn’t in a hurry, it was no big deal, but to the guy in front of me, I must have sounded like “Hey!  Jerk in the car in front of me!  What are you, asleep?”  Not what I meant.  But I have a solution!  Every car should be installed with two horns.  One little one so you can politely nudge someone when it’s clear they just need a little help, and then the normal obnoxious one, still with the big button in the middle of the steering wheel, so you can find it easily in an emergency and pound on it when loud blaring blasts of your horn are called for (which is practically never, unless you live in New York, but that’s a whole different thing).  Problem solved.

Also this weekend, my most recent phone problem got fixed!  Yes, it still reboots when it overheats and I can’t always find the GPS satellite (so yes, I’ll still be shopping for a new phone soon), but last week, the button that lets me turn my screen on and off quit working.  WAY more annoying.  The only way I could do anything with my phone was to plug it in (or unplug it).  Then the screen would light up and I could make a call or check email or whatever.  Otherwise, nothing.  I took it to the Sprint store in the mall where the friendly technician took the whole phone apart and cleaned the button.  For free!  (Because I don’t have the protection plan and he can’t charge me for it and technically shouldn’t have been working on it at all.)  Yay!  And because I am a happy and grateful customer, I bought him a frappuchino.  And a cookie.  He also told me that I’m eligible for my upgrade in June, not August, and that technically, I’m eligible as of May 17th.  Double yay!

This would make my commute so much easier to handle.

I am not pleased

John had brunch with the band this morning (Rock stars do brunch, don’t they?  No?  Well, they should.  Brunch is awesome.), so I took my book (The Bloggess‘s hilarious Let’s Pretend This Never Happened) off to Starbucks with me.  I got my favorite drink (tall skim no-whip toffee nut white mocha – I mention it all the time because I assume you’re planning on memorizing it so you can order one for me next time we’re at Starbucks together without even having to check with me.  You’re planning to do that, right?) and sat at a table outside to sip and read.  Lovely half-hour or so, only slightly marred by the kid at the next table who stared every time I laughed at my book (which was about every 10 seconds).  He was just jealous.  Then Wegmans (Yes, I actually went to the grocery store this weekend.  Can you believe it?), home to unload, and back out to get my nails done.  I was desperately in need of both a manicure and a pedicure.  I went to my favorite place, but for the second time this weekend, I was turned away.  Terribly sad.  The first time was Friday evening.  My friend Chastity was in no hurry to face traffic on her way home, so we decided to get our nails done and went to this place.  Turns out this weekend was prom weekend, so they were fully booked.  Sad.  We gave up that night, but I assumed that by Sunday I’d be able to walk in.  I should have asked, since when I got there today, there was a sign on the door that said they were closed for a private party.  Disappointed, I went to my old favorite salon.  Unfortunately, they’re under new management, and I am not happy about it.  It wasn’t a terrible experience, but it wasn’t the relaxing afternoon I’d hoped for.  They didn’t stab me in the toe or anything, and my nails look okay, but they’re cut too short, and the lady was a bit rough with my cuticles.  So I have to find another back-up nail salon (or plan ahead).  My life is so hard.

Happy Derby Day!

I feel like a slacker when Derby Day comes up and I haven’t planned any sort of Derby party.  Oops.  But I’m watching (of course).

I had a very successful shoe-shopping day, and once the Derby is over and we’ve eaten, John and I are going to go to our local comic book store for Free Comic Book Day and then hit up the Haagen Dazs around the corner for a sundae.

It’s been a very nice Saturday.

Count to ten and breathe deeply

Statistics is over and John’s thesis has been turned in (his defense is Friday evening).  I should be able to relax a little now, right?  Why don’t I feel relaxed?  Relax, dammit!

Okay, yelling may not be the right approach.

Let’s blame it on work and leave it at that.  Actually, let’s blame it on getting up at 5 in the morning three days a week to get to work.  I can’t handle 5am.  6am is fine.  Maybe it’s a mental block, but it’s one I can’t (and don’t want to, to be perfectly frank) get past.

(I have one thing to say to all of you who are just itching to tell me what to do about it: I KNOW.  I will do something about it.  I have a plan.  You don’t have to tell me again.  So shush now and let me vent.  Thank you for your time.)

In other news, I got to hang out with a most adorable puppy (and Jess and Chuck, but let’s get our priorities straight here).  See?

His name is Rashi and he is the snuggliest puppy ever.

You want one, don’t you?  (I do.)