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….

Limited choices


My bookshelf is getting shorter.  That’s both good and bad.  Good: I’m getting through the books I kept because I wanted to read them sooner rather than later (or never).  Bad: I have fewer books to choose from when it’s time to pick a new book.  Fewer books to choose from means more pressure to like the one I pick – wait, wait, no.

That’s ridiculous.  I don’t have to like every book I read (and I don’t – I’ve been through that before).  Just because I think I’ll like something doesn’t mean I have to.  And yes, I worry that if I pick up a book (because I feel like I have to) when I’m in the wrong mood, the circumstances will cause me to not like something I might love later on.  Is that a rational worry?  Maybe.  How can you tell if you would have liked something if only you’d read it at a different time in your life?  If I didn’t like it the first time, I’m very unlikely to pick up and try it again some other time.

This particular worry is affecting at least one book still on the shelf.  I’ve tried Kate Atkinson three times now.  The first time (a few years ago), I read Case Histories.  It was slow to start, but I really liked it once I got into it.  Then I read Behind the Scenes at the Museum.  It was okay.  Not really my thing, but I liked it fine.  Then I picked up Emotionally Weird and didn’t like it at all.  The very beginning was promising, but then it bogged down and never picked up a plot, and I ended up putting it down without finishing it.  The last Kate Atkinson book I have on my shelf is Started Early, Took My Dog.  I don’t know anything about it.  Should I try it?  The one people keep saying I’ll like is Life After Life (I’ll have to get it on Kindle, which I’m not allowing myself to do until I finish the physical books on this shelf).  If I’ll like Life After Life, shouldn’t I like her other books?  That’s usually how it works for me.  So I’m hesitant to pick up Started Early, Took My Dog.

Now that I’ve thought through all of that, though, I think the whole Kate Atkinson situation is different.  It’s not the same as the pressure to choose one of THESE books.  I have proven to myself (after three books) that I’m not sure I like her, so my reluctance to try again is well-founded and I don’t think it has ANYthing to do with the bookshelf pressure.  Except…the second and third ones of hers I tried were on my shelf.  I might not have read them at this point in my life except for the pressure to do it, and if I read them at some other point, might I have liked them?

I’m back where I started, and it’s still ridiculous because you know what?  I could say the same about any book I’ve read and liked or not hated.  This is dumb.  I’m not going to worry about this ANY MORE.  I have washed my hands of the whole affair.  (Really, I just did the hand-wiping/washing motion.  I’m committed.)

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 want to see it again

We saw the new Star Wars movie last night, and it was awesome.  I totally want to see it again in the theater.  I got misty a few times (including the crawl and the theme at the VERY beginning) but there was one part where I cried like a baby.  Good stuff.  I sang the theme the whole way home, and I woke up humming it.  Happy me.

In other news, today is our anniversary (15 years), and there’s a parade in Annapolis!  (Not for us.  I think.  Maybe it is.)  I want to see it, but we don’t have a good track record for that kind of thing.  A few weeks ago, I wanted to cheer on some runners during a half-marathon that was supposed to go right down our street, but we missed it (slept too late).  Fingers crossed we’ll make it to the parade on time!

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.

The house in the hole

Here’s the house I was talking about the other day.  It was still foggy Friday evening when I went for a run (with my phone), but nothing like that day.

IMG_20151225_164049 IMG_20151225_164044 IMG_20151225_164053

It got dark fast, and I found myself at the bottom of a steep hill, so I trudged up to the top and back to the house.  Not that house.  John’s parents’ house.  It wasn’t my greatest run, but boy, was it necessary.  The food, guys.  It’s nuts.

(Also, I’m ready to go home.  Every holiday has to come to an end.)

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.


Extended family

The other night, we went to a family party on Long Island, and I got to meet some relatives of John’s that I’ve only heard of and another dozen no one has ever mentioned to me.  Some of them were totally normal, some of them were a little nuts, and I only wanted to fight one of them.  She’s a Trump supporter (“Government should be run like a business, and he’s a brilliant businessman!”), and she turned a perfectly civil conversation into a contentious argument.  I bit my tongue and backed out.  I’m not going to have a political argument with one of my mother-in-law’s cousins, certainly not at a holiday party/family reunion.  I can’t be that in-law.  I did find unlikely allies in two of John’s uncles.  I knew there was a reason I liked them.

Watch out for fog bears

The mist has turned into straight-up fog today (and I think the rain is supposed to start soon and will go on all day).  I wish I’d thought to bring my phone with me when I ran.  The roads criss-cross the top of this ridge, and there’s this one section where the land falls away from the side of the road into a big depression.  There’s a house at the bottom of this bowl, and every time I run by it, I wonder why anyone would build a house in the bottom of a depression like that.  It seems like it would flood when it rains, fill up with snow in the winter.  What about landslides?  What’s the view from the windows?  It’s a pretty steep-sided bowl.  Was it always like this?  Is it a sinkhole?  (I’ve spent more time than you might think on this particular house.)

Anyway, the fog was so thick this morning that I couldn’t even see where the ground dropped off, much less the house.  What if it disappeared?  What if the Nothing gobbled it up?  I wish I’d brought my phone with me to get a picture.  Instead, here’s the view of the backyard right after my run.


It had started to recede a bit by the time I took the picture, but now (several hours later) it has come back.  Brighter, but thicker and closer to the house.  Looks like the world outside is disappearing…


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.

Every time

It’s the day we’re leaving for the holidays.  Time to panic!  Well, panic is a little strong, but I’ve got a deadline looming (we’re trying to leave in less than an hour), so I’m running around like a crazy chicken.  I’m trying to get the urgent work stuff done, trying to pack, trying to clean up a little, and hey – I’m hungry.  I forgot to eat lunch.

[Pause for actual packing]

And…now we’re leaving in 15 minutes.  Yeah.  Sure we are.  Eek!

Still hungry.

Update: In case you were wondering, we left around 4:45.  Close enough.

Star Wars confession time

I like Star Wars.  I like the story, I like the people who like Star Wars, I shared in everyone’s disappointment with the prequel trilogy, and I’m excited about the new movie (which we are planning to see with John’s family on Christmas Eve).

I don’t live and die Star Wars, and that’s okay.  I didn’t see any of the movies until high school (a big thank you to Randy for sitting me down and making me watch them), and I’ve only seen them a couple of times since then.  Maybe three.  Definitely the first one and Empire more.  I  borrowed the original trilogy from a coworker about a year ago, so I’ve seen all three recently.  We watched Return of the Jedi Saturday night, and it’s possible that that was only the second time I’ve seen it.  Third, at most.  I mean, it’s everywhere – I’ve seen videos, clips, parodies.  There’s nothing about this movie that is a surprise to me.  Well, except one thing.

Some of you should sit down.  Some of you won’t know what I’m talking about and won’t care.

We were watching Return of the Jedi, and Admiral Ackbar came on the screen for the first time.  I recognized him immediately, knew his name, could have picked him out of a line-up, BUT – I could not have told you he was a Star Wars character.  Every other character, human or alien, was familiar to me as part of the Star Wars universe, but not him.  I don’t know how that’s possible.  If pressed, I would have guessed he was a recurring Futurama character.

I’m atoning for this failure.  Please forgive me.

It was bound to happen

Over the years (and especially lately, I don’t know why), I’ve had many close calls.  There have been so very many times I have lost control of a hair band and almost dropped it in the toilet, or fumbled the cap to the toothpaste and nearly dropped it in the toilet, but I’ve always been lucky.  Until today.  Today, my comb, my wonderful, colorful wide-toothed* comb landed squarely (and splashily) in the toilet.  I was ready to toss it, but John is more sentimental than I am.  He pointed out that I’ve had that comb as long as he’s known me.  He’s right – this comb is older than our relationship.  I can’t let it go that easily, so I’m boiling it clean right now.

Hang on, little comb!  I won’t abandon you!

*Wide-tooth or wide-toothed?  Google results are inconclusive.

Worth the interruption

I was doing some tedious work this afternoon, so I decided to start the Christmas music.  All was going well for a while – I was working away and occasionally bopping along – until THE song came on my Pandora station.

My work came to an abrupt halt.  Who can work when there’s singing to be done?

I love the Mariah Carey version, too, possibly more, but this is the one that came on and made me realize I HAVEN’T WATCHED LOVE ACTUALLY YET THIS YEAR.

We’ve decided we’re going to Christmas it up in Annapolis before we head to PA for the holiday, so we’ll enjoy the lights and the stores and everything this weekend, but we may have to sneak in a viewing of Love Actually, too. After Return of the Jedi, of course. We have priorities.

Maybe we’ll bring Love Actually to PA…

You make me egg foo young

It’s a rainy day, we went to the gym, I had a bagel for lunch – do you know what that means?  It means Chinese food for dinner.  (It does.  My logic is impeccable.)  I always (99 times out of 100) regret it, but on a rainy night with no food in the house, I’m doomed to repeat my mistakes.

Question:  Is it better to eat cookies all day or eat lightly during the day (normal food, not cookies) and then over-indulge in Chinese food at night?

What do you mean by “better”?  More acceptable?  Nutritionally better/healthier?  

What do you care?  Since when did you become a health nut?  How many days has it been since you ate a vegetable?

You’d better back the hell off, Judgy McCritic, before I shove a vegetable where the sun don’t shine…

Flying solo, literally

John soloed today!  He’s back home, alive and well and super-excited.  He texted me a picture of his empty co-pilot’s seat right before his first solo take-off.  That’s the only notice I got.  (I mean, I knew it was possible today, wind-dependent, but that’s how he told me.)  I didn’t have much time to worry (which may have been the point), and I can truthfully say I didn’t worry much.  I’m confident in his (and his instructor’s) assessment of his skills.

He has a couple more boxes to check, a few more hours of practice (both solo and with his instructor), and then he should be licensed.  It’s in sight!  The weather has to cooperate, though.  Flying in winter might be tricky.

Hooray for John!

I thought she was only afraid of thunder

I got very little sleep Sunday night because of a certain scaredy-cat cocker spaniel who was spooked by the wind. It was certainly very windy all night, and the wind was howling past the open window and doing its best to knock things over, but it’s wind!  Not solid, not harmful.  Daisy spent the first half of the night half on my chest, panting in my direction (her breath is AWFUL), shivering uncontrollably, and making her piggy snort noises as a break from the panting once every couple of minutes.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried, but I have found that it is hard to sleep with a noisy vibrating dog lying on your chest.  I moved her to my side at some point (she resisted being that far from my face, but I couldn’t breathe), but that didn’t help much because she was still shaking and snorting.  Then, around 3am, the scary wind monster rattled everything in the room.  She stood up, practically blurry with vibrations, jumped off the bed, hid herself between the dresser and the wall, and then crawled UNDER the dresser.  I pulled her out and put her back on the bed with me, but she jumped right back off and went back under.  I left her there the rest of the night.  When I woke up around 7, she was sleeping under there with her nose sticking out.

It’s still windy today, so she’s been glued to my side, hanging out in the basement with me while I worked all morning.  Ridiculous dog.  It’s a good thing she’s cute.