Sunday, August 24, 2008

On My Mind

Hello. Welcome to my world. The rambling side of it, anyway.

Less than a week left, and I’ll be on the road back to Omaha. In those few days, I have to figure out how to load all the stuff that I bought into a car that was already pretty well loaded down. Hmmm. I may have to ship some books back. And some yarn. What am I saying?!? I have to have my yarn with me!

Ring around the rosies, a box full of cozies. Mom is so excited that I have relaxed a little and am enjoying reading cozy mysteries that she sent me a boxful from her own library. A few of them were on my list for when I got back to the library, so bonus. I already have so many books on my list to read, and now I have even more physically on the “to read shelf.” I’m going to have to get a “to read” bookcase [she says with girlish glee].

The last couple of mornings, guys from the marine base were running on the beach while I was walking Cosette. That’s right. Starting the day with a little man candy. They would run, then stop and do sit ups or push ups or something else, then run a little further. Cosette wanted to sit and watch them run by, and being the over-indulgent owner that I am, I let her and kept her company.

I’ll miss the morning walks that we go to the park and are joined by Gracie and her owner Gail. Gracie is the cutest little beagle, and when she sees me, she runs up baying and barking so loudly that she sounds like she is in pain. It cracks me up every time.

I’m not sure how Cosette is going to adjust to not having her nightly walks on the beach. What started out as a run through the sand and water, turned into a hunt for crabs to eat, and is now a passion for digging for live crabs.

Which really wears her out

I’m ready to get home and back into what passes as normal for me. We’ve enjoyed it here and saw as much as we could. We got really lucky and the weather gods graced us with cooler weather. Everyone keeps telling me that this is not normal for this time of year. It was really hot and humid there for awhile, but it’s been gorgeous the last week or so. It’s as if the weather gods looked in on me and said, “Alright, if we give you some nice weather, will you get out and have some fun instead of staying in here feeling sorry yourself?” Yes, I will.

But it’s not like I wasn’t productive while I was pouting. Look at the cool market bag I made.

The handles are on the wrong side, but it still works

It was fairly easy, so I’m thinking of making them for Christmas gifts. Now that I’ve made one with the pattern, I can play around and change the size, stripes, colors, that kind of thing. This one is really tall, tall enough to hold boxes of cereal from the grocery store.

We went to another delightful town the other Saturday. Ever eat or hear of Smithfield Country Ham? Well, we went to the town where it started. It's a pretty little town that is very proud of its Victorian heritage and is trying to build its place in the tourist trade with a million-dollar restoration of Main street with lots of shop/cafes and creating a walking tour of houses. It's a nice day trip.

Christmas shop

A note about country ham--Calling something a "country ham" doesn't mean a good ol' Southern ham. Country ham is very very salty; you have to soak it in water, even pre-sliced out of a package, for at least 15 minutes, maybe more. It's cured in salt and if you buy a whole ham, you have to clean off the mold and salt before soaking then cooking. It also has a kind of moldy smell to it, and honestly, I can't get past the smell to enjoy it. Many people compare it to prosciutto, but it's not as mild and the taste isn't quite as clean. If you could slice it as thinly as prosciutto, that may help, but I'd rather spend the money on prosciutto.

While in Smithfield, I had another "duh" moment. While walking around the shops, I noticed there where lots of little pigs every where for sale. Pig Christmas ornaments, pig-shaped dishes, pig notepads, you get the idea. In the Smithfield Country Ham Shop, I actually thought and almost said, "What's with all the pigs?" Sometimes, it's amazing I make it through the day.

Saturday morning, we took our coffee out to the upstairs balcony and watched a sailboat regatta. I counted 50 sailboats.

Later that day, there were kite boarders. I think we're getting some residual effects of Fay, so the kite boarders had a good time.

And a couple of more pictures. The first one shows you a storm that came in very quickly. You probably can't see it, but there is a sailboat in the center about to get hit by that storm. The next picture is Cosette waiting for us to take her to the beach. I would say "waiting patiently" but I can't even type that without say, "pffft, yeah, patiently."

This is the time of year when I say that I’m ready for fall, because I am. I’m ready for pumpkin patches and apple picking. I’m ready to bake pies and shake out my sweaters. I’m ready to walk Cosette early in the mornings and listen to the drums of the high school band as it practices. I’m ready to drink beer at Octoberfest and plan our own pumpkin-carving party. I’m ready to walk up and down the aisles of every craft fair and partake of every free sample offered me. And I’m ready to start planning for Thanksgiving visitors. I’m just ready.

But I gotta get back home, first, which means I gotta get packing and making lists. And I’ll get right on that as soon as I knit a couple of rounds on this next market bag.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Whirlwind Tour

Hello out there. Thanks for stopping by.

So, I was just sitting around, knitting up a market bag that might be a Christmas present or I might just keep for myself because it’s so darn cute, when Al said something strange.

“My paper’s due next week then I’ll have my final. Can’t believe time has gone so quickly here.”

What did he mean “time has gone,” we still have lots of time left. Then I realized, Holy Crap we only have a few weeks left! Where did the time go? Why am I sitting here knitting when there are things still to see?!? It seems like just last week I was saying that we should be sure to start doing the touristy things before it gets too late. And it’s almost too late! We both knew we better get off our duffs.

You don’t have to twist Al’s arm to do anything, you just have to do the deciding, the planning, the plotting and the preparing. I think I should start freelancing as a tour planner. Here are some of the things we’ve done.

We took a cruise on the American Rover.

This 135-foot tall sails ship goes for daily cruises 3 times a day, plus special charters. They stay in the calm waters of Hampton Bay, which is a good thing if not a little dull. Most of the sights you see are the shipyards for navy boats being worked on. Did you know that when a ship is in for repairs, they pull a smaller boat up next to it that serves as housing (like a dormitory) for the sailors. That stinks—no escaping the boat.

Anyway, the Rover is comfortable and it’s fun to watch them unfurl those huge sails. The Captain announces that if anyone wants to help, they can. Help? I’m cruising baby, I’m not working. But it did make us think about taking sailing lessons. Well, it made Allen think about it. I thought about how much work it was and how the older I get the more of a weenie I become. Al did look up getting lessons at the base, but changed his mind when he saw how much it costs.

The Rover holds 149 people, but luckily, there weren’t that many people aboard on the day we went. It’s beautiful and breezy on the deck, with lots of chairs under a canopy or benches along the side. And if you get a little too hot, you can go down stairs to sit in pretty comfy seating in the air conditioning.

There’s a bar that they open for the sunset cruise and special charters, but this day a smaller snack bar was open. Being on a sail boat in the harbor, we of course got a tropical drink that oh-my-goodness was it good but went straight to my head. You know, you really shouldn’t chug something with a lot of schnapps, brandy and whatever else, even if it is mixed with fruit juices.

We also made it up to Colonial Williamsburg.

Originally, my plan was to leave Cosette in this great kennel I found and we were going to take our time seeing everything and spending the night. It didn’t quite work out that way, but we got up there and Cosette did fine in the condo by herself, so it’s all good. The only hitch in our gitalong was the traffic. What should have taken 45 minutes took over an hour and a half, going and coming home. I don’t know how the people who live here get used to this traffic. There aren’t enough Zen breathing exercises in the world to keep me calm. I told Al that if the traffic on the bridge was already backed up 7 miles when we head out, I’m just going to cry.

Al: Then we’ll just head to the bar and start drinking.
Me: OK. We’ll ask the bartender to pretend that the bar goes back to colonial times and that Thomas Jefferson once drank ale there.

Anyway, Colonial Williamsburg is a recreated Colonial town. The people are in historic costumes and as you tour the different buildings, there are people telling you how things were done in past.

A shuttle bus takes you to a drop-off spot and you walk into the town, like walking through a mirror, taking you to another time. Well, you hundreds of other people. Luckily, again, it wasn’t that crowded and it was gorgeous day. Virginia is having unseasonably cooler weather right now, so it was sunny and in the low 80s.

Every building offers something different, but not all the buildings were open. Unfortunately, the weaver was closed, but there were plenty of other cool places.

Such as the Bookbinder and Press

The Silversmith

The Millner

The Brickyard

The Cabinet Maker

By late afternoon we were exhausted, too exhausted to stop at the farm. And we didn’t watch any of the shows or reenactments but I’m sure they were great. We just had a finite time there and didn’t want to spend 2 hours of it standing in the sun watching a show.

I was also too tired to stop at the yarn shop on the way out of town. Now that’s tired! I don’t know, I just may have to make a trip over there during the week some day.

Al’s seminar group went to the MacArthur Memorial in downtown Norfolk.

I passed joining in on this field trip because I was beginning to feel a little weird being this hanger-on. Besides, it’s by the mall (MacArthur Mall), and you know I’ll be going to the mall while I’m here, so I can see it later. Al said it was really interesting and the museum had a lot of amazing things. MacArthur and his second wife are buried there, so it’s more than just a statue in the park.

So, I think that catches you up a little. I still owe you pictures of Yorktown, so I’ll try to get to that.

I'll leave you with a picture of Cosette. Always leave your posts on a happy note.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Ehm, Mememememe . . .

I've had a glass of wine, so maybe this would be a good time to do the "6 things I'm proud of" that I told Janet I would do. I just read my mom's and it was great. Let's see if I can follow in her footsteps.

1. I'm proud that people who come to my home describe it as "warm." Every place we've been, our house has been a "hang out" place. I always have something to throw together as a snack and of course, there's always something to drink if you care to indulge in a little Scottish warmth. And now Cosette is there to welcome you and lead you into the living room, where she will jump up on the couch with you, just to make sure everyone is comfy. Well, that and so she'll be within easy lovin' distance.

2. I'm proud that I took that stick out of my butt and have relaxed some. No really, I have! Oh sure, I'm still a little neurotic about somethings, but I don't freak out if things don't go the way I have them listed to happen. And that's huge. I sometimes wonder if I've gone way the other direction and have fallen into apathy, but I'm working on balance.

3. I'm proud of the things I have taught myself to do--the knitting, the quilting, the cooking. I've taken classes along the way, but I've done a lot of it on my own. I'm not very good at learning from my mistakes--if I'm not good at it immediately, I usually drop it--but with this stuff, I keep trying different things and repeating until I get it right.

4. I'm proud of where I came from. My mother worked hard to make a stable home for us in a very unstable time. My (paternal) grandmother did the same in her day. My (maternal) great-grandmother was the bravest of us all. I come from pretty good stock.

5. I'm proud of Al and his military brethren. I've had many people ask me how I would survive if he went to war and wouldn't I worry about him all the time. Well, of course I would worry, but I wouldn't be afraid because I see how hard they train, how much they care, and how good they are.

6. I'm proud that I'm part of a creative family. Mom has always been a writer, so when she started her blog, I wasn't surprised by how good it was. I've always known that Jay was hilarious and intelligent, and now others get to see that, too.

So, there we are. That wasn't so bad after all. I'm not going to tag anyone, but try it, you might like it!

And your Cosette fix:

We got home and caught her sleeping on her bed upstairs in the bedreoom:

Oops! She saw us!

Note: I didn't drink wine in the morning then write and post this. I tried to post last night but blogger wouldn't let me download the photos. Grrrr.