bunrab: (me)
We are visiting fairs this summer - it's a project. The first couple of fairs were in July - quite early as ag fairs go.

Week of July 26: the Cecil County fair, up in Elkton. Admission to this one is only $2 for seniors, and that's 60+ so that we both count as seniors, so we didn't bother aiming for Senior Day, though if we had, according to the schedule, there would have been several hours of senior-specific things going on. We went on Wednesday. This fair opens to the public at 9, but several of the shows aren't until afternoon, so we aimed for getting there at noon, as with last week. This is our longest drive, 75 miles to get there, and thanks to roadwork and random traffic, it took us nearly 2 hours, so we actually got there at 12:30. This was instantly, obviously, a better-run fair than Washington County; they had guys directing parking, and marked handicapped spaces, and an actual front gate with cheery young people staffing the admissions kiosks. We asked about food, and the young lady pointed us toward it. The midway wasn't open at this one either - according to the website http://www.cecilcountyfair.org/ it opens at 5. So no fair food here, either - the Lions Club has their own little permanent building and they were serving lunch, a limited menu but the fair special of "Chicken Fingers and Freedom Fries" was quite reasonably priced and lots of food, and despite the silly name, the french fries were good. They have a picnic table area in the shade.  The food area has wi-fi - of /course/ it does; there were several people with their laptops, who appeared to be exhibitors (you can sort of tell them - the uniform of shorts and well-worn tall boots tells you who's mucking out stalls.)

After lunch we started walking around - this is still a small fairgrounds, compared to some, but they have enough permanent buildings to put on a good show. We went through the commercial building first, which was pretty dead in the water except for a Tupperware lady and a Bible Association; all the other booths were unstaffed. There was an additional tent with more vendors out back of that, nothing I wanted to buy, and 2 whole booths taken up by a Baptist church - even though we didn't meet anybody's eye, they still started calling out to us. Anyway - Home Arts, small but larger than Washington County. Several quilts, some crocheted items, lots of sewing, and lots of canning - three multi-shelved stands full of jams and pickled veggies and corn relish and so on, very attractive. Lots of kids' art. Decent array of baked goods, though since the building isn't air conditioned some things were sagging. Lots of fans - the temperature was comfortable enough in the shade, and they did not stint on the fans anywhere. Next building over rabbits and pigs. A very few pigs - not a great swine turnout. There were probably as many rabbits as at Washington, but they were poorly caged and poorly labeled; I felt quite sorry for the poor buns; they didn't have enough space or enough ventilation, and a lot of them weren't even labelled by breed. Then on to Poultry, of which there was a decent assortment, a few turkeys and quite a few varieties of chickens. Not as wide a variety as Montgomery County (more later on that) but still a decent variety for a small show, including some of the really silly ones where it's difficult to tell that it's a bird, let alone what species of bird it might be. Onward: goats, and more goats. A few sheep, lots of goats. In fact, the goats took over one of the horse barns as well. Goats like Larry; we always have goats trying to stick their faces up into Larry's face. A couple of cow barns.

By then it was getting warmish; we didn't slog all the way over to the other horse barn, the big one, because it was set off from the
rest, and besides, it was almost time for the afternoon entertainment to start. That's right, real scheduled entertainment, during the day! (The night-time entertainment Wednesday night would be a rodeo; we weren't going to stay for it, but it's apparently a big deal there, and people come specifically for that.) First up, Skybound Canine Entertainment - trained dogs catching discs and jumping through hoops - well, sort of trained: these are all rescue dogs, and part of the point of the show is to show how much you can do in the way of training and playing with even an older dog. The fanciest part of the show was the dock-diving: they had several dogs doing dives into a large pool, and a mini-Australian-Shepherd name of Ray-Ray did a 21 foot dive into the pool. Ray-Ray truly loves his job. A few seconds watching the chainsaw-wood-carving guy (the carvings weren't for sale during the day, but were being auctioned and raffled off at night.) Then over to the Kachunga Alligator Show. Yes, real alligators. No, one can't teach an alligator to do tricks. It's mostly an educational thing; the guy sits on an 8-foot alligator and opens its mouth and explains the teeth, and the alligator's various water adaptations (did you know that alligators can hold their breath for up to an hour?) and then after dragging the alligator around by the tail, he let it go back in its shaded cubby, and brought out 2 baby alligators, and invited all the kids in the audience to come have their pictures taken holding a real live alligator. I found it educational; Larry hadn't though it would be real alligators, so he was surprised. Then, after a few minutes' break, a magic show - nice enough, though the fancy showgirls painted on the sidings were in reality one young man assistant dressed in black. The neatest trick, to me, was turning a white dove into a much larger white rabbit into a full-size white standard poodle. The magician did have each of them wave to us before turning them into something else. He asked for a child volunteer from the audience to help on one trick, but the 2-year-old who volunteered wasn't quite up to the task. Part of the problem was that we were all sitting in the upper bleachers in the shade, rather than the bleachers closer to the stage but out in the direct sunlight. That made it difficult to talk people into things. And it /was/ getting hotter. So, at that point the Young Farmers had opened up their ice cream booth, and we went over and had ice cream, and then headed home, having spent almost 3 and a half hours there.

Verdict? A bit of a long drive for us, but the cheap price of admission, plus the vast improvement in most things over the Washington County fair, made us feel that we did get our money's worth at the Cecil County fair. And if it wasn't so hot and Larry didn't have to work Thursday, staying for the rodeo (included in the price of admission!) might well have been fun.
bunrab: (me)

We are visiting fairs this summer - Larry's semi-retired, so we can travel in the middle of the week, when the crowds are reduced, though as it turns out later, that's not as important as we thought. What's more important is that he's over 65, so he gets senior admission rates every day (sometimes I qualify for them too) and we don't necessarily have to aim specifically for "Senior Day."

Week of July 19, we went to the Washington County Fair - in Boonesboro, in between Hagerstown and Antietam battlefield. About 60 miles, a very pleasant drive, since as interstate slabs go, I-70 is a scenic one. We went on Tuesday, which was Senior Day - free admission for 65+. So it cost us $7 for me to get in; Larry was free and parking was free. Now, the website http://agexpoandfair.org/ had told us that the fair didn't open to the public till noon - lots of 4-H stuff and judging in the mornings, but the public isn't let in for it. And the midway didn't open till 3 p.m. That seemed odd, but off we went. We got there about 11:30, and sure enough, no one at admission. So we spent half an hour in the Museum of Rural Heritage, which was nice. If we go back that way in September to visit Antietam, we might stop and look at a little more of that museum. They had some interesting types of looms, and lots of quilts, and a complete scale model of a farm, a set-up about 10 feet by 20 feet, in the years-long process of being built and improved by a local resident - a re-creation of his family's farm from the 30's. The ladies running the museum were very friendly.

Anyway, finally, at noon, a few guys appeared and opened up the booth in the parking lot that serves as admission, and we went on in. We were able to park right up near the fairground entrance because there was virtually no one there. Well, it being lunchtime, lunch was in order, and there was only ONE place to eat open - none of the midway food, and most of the tents for various organizations were closed up tight, too. The oyster sandwiches from JB Seafood were quite good, but we really would have liked a choice. Extra thumbs-up for JB's: they carried Gold Peak UNSWEETENED iced tea, which is drinkable and most places only carry the sweetened and diet stuff, so yay for unsweetened.

Well, the rest was a let-down; this is pretty much the teeniest fair I have ever been to. Really teeny. Home Arts was pitiful, not even a full table of jellies and canning, ONE quilt and a few beginners' crocheted things, really not much at all. There were some ladies demonstrating weaving; there's a strong heritage of weaving from the German original settlers of the area. The produce was also piffle, very few fruits and veggies. A few awards for decorated baskets of vegetable arrangements, but no decorated gourds or painted potatoes or weird mutant eggplants. The Rabbit and Poultry Barn - which was just a large put-up tent - was more rabbits than poultry, and most of the poultry that was there was plain white turkeys. There was a good assortment of rabbits, though, all nicely labeled; a few families of 4-Hers appear to specialize in them, and had dozens of entries apiece. Lots of Holland Lops and mini-Rexes, some meat rabbits. Anyway, that was the highlight of the livestock; there were a few goats and sheep; a few dairy calves, one cow barn, one small horse barn. One commercial building, and I have to say probably for me, the highlight of the fair was stopping and talking to the agent for Modern Woodmen - if you don't know what a fraternal insurance organization is, then you're in company - most people don't, but I of course do, having worked for the Texas Department of Insurance, and so I chatted with the guy for 15 minutes, and picked up some swag. I did get a tote bag from one of the county agencies that had a table, and a pen from an Allstate agent as well. No special activities or exhibits for seniors, even though it was senior day; they didn't have anybody from a county agency for the elderly or Social Security or Medicare or even anybody trying to sell Medicare Advantage health plans. Which is probably because they knew no one would be there; there were exactly TWO other seniors wandering around the whole fair. What, nobody over 65 in Hagerstown is looking for something free to do??? Anyway, in an hour and a half, we had done absolutely everything the fair had to offer, and didn't feel like waiting around another hour or so doing nothing until the opening of the midway. So we left, and drove over to the outlet mall in Hagerstown to shop for shoes. Overall? Not worth the price of admission. We were disappointed that a rural county such as Washington didn't have more to offer.

bunrab: (me)
I am pretty much through with my annual fall fit of the weepies - the one where every time I think "The leaves are so beautiful" a little voice in my head tacks on, "but Steve's not here." The little voice isn't quite as loud as last year, or as constant and frequent as the first couple years, but it's not gone completely, either, and I don't know that it'll ever go away completely. It doesn't hit me like a ton of bricks so that I double over trying to catch my breath; it just takes a little chunk of time to enjoy things away from me. That's what "getting better" consists of.

Long, whiny self-justification )

So - is that enough "moving on"? Do you think I should be feeling no grief at all anymore, just faint soft memories of the happy times? Bullshit. If everyone else is tired of hearing anything about Steve by now, say so, but don't tell me I shouldn't be thinking of him any more.

I was reading The Book of Woe, about the making of the DSM-5. One of the things they did was remove the "bereavement exclusion" from the definition of depression, so that anyone who acts depressed for more than a couple of weeks due to grief is now considered to have a medical condition that can be and should be fixed. This is pretty much ignoring all of recorded history about how humans handle loss and grieving. And the book - which disapproves strongly of the DSM-5 - includes a quote about that from a doctor and medical anthropologist who lost his wife: "I still feel sadness at times and harbour the sense that a part of me is gone forever... I am still caring for our memories. Is there anything wrong (or pathological) with that?"

I'll be visiting Austin next week. And going to the quilt show in Houston!
bunrab: (me)
I went to the US Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Workshop this past week - and discovered that I enjoy it for its own sake, not just for Steve's memory, and that other people look forward to seeing me there for my own sake, not just because I'm Steve's widow. That was an interesting discovery.

There are a lot of things to enjoy at such a conference, even if one isn't a tuba player. It's a whole bunch of music for free. Recitals by excellent professionals, evening concerts by the Army's professional groups - Army Blues, the concert band, etc. And some of the sessions that were lectures or recitals-with-talks were interesting for any musician. The morning warm-up for tuba players included suggestions about breathing and maintaining embouchure that were surprisingly relevant to a bari sax player. And the conversations in the lobby and the bowling alley dining room (the only place for civilians to eat on base most of the time) and at restaurant meals are with people that share a lot of interests in discussing music of all sorts, and griping about community band conductors, and building a music library, and lots of other stuff that isn't just for tubas.

I got to make lots of ophicleide jokes with people who understand ophicleide jokes and have more in turn. There were vendors who recognized me, and wanted to chat. And I bought a cleaning kit for the bass trumpet, and a swab of sorts meant for cleaning a euphonium that I think will do a much better job on the bari sax neck loops than what I'm currently using. And a couple of euphonium mouthpieces which will fit into the sax neck, which is part of the ophicleide jokes. And I am going to practice the bass trumpet more, and maybe even borrow a euphonium to bring to next year's workshop, to participate a bit.
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One of the things I don't like is the process of getting there. Even though Ft. Myer is less than 50 miles away from me, the routes that all the mapping services and GPS suggest are roads that I particularly hate. The BW Parkway is poorly maintained, especially when it crosses into the district and becomes DC-295. Here's one of the more disconcerting steps in the Mapquest directions: "Southwest Freeway/I-695 N becomes I-395 S." That was at least equaled, if not exceeded, in weirdness, by driving right under a sign on the way home that stated that the road that I was on was "I-295 S/ DC-295 N" - really, really disconcerting.The entrances and exits of DC-295 aren;t in the same spots NB as SB. Neither are the entrances and exits to the George Washington Parkway. And neither are the entrances and exits to US-50. All of which means that one can NOT reverse directions to get home.

Saturday night, driving in the dark, I decided on an entirely different route. Since the concert got out early enough that we could still get out by the Wright Gate (the north gate to the army base, which closes at 9 p.m.), I went straight up Ft. Myer Drive which ends directly being an entrance to GW Parkway going Northwest, straight to the west side of I-495, the Beltway. No need to read dimly lit local street signs, no need to watch for intersections or parking lots or pedestrians once I was on GW. That route winds up being some 20 miles longer, total, to get home - but being so much simpler, with so many fewer turns, and more time on higher-speed highways, that it takes no longer - and is MUCH less stressful. I think next year I'll use that route to go TO the fort, right off the bat. Yes, it sounds bizarre, yes, it uses up more gas, but so much easier on my sensibilities (avoiding US 50 altogether has a LOT to recommend it) that it'd be worth the extra $2 worth of gas.

In other news, I finished Rage is Back (see previous post) and also Albert of Adelaide, an adult fable about a platypus who escapes from the Adelaide Zoo to go looking for the Old Australia, where animals are all free and live naturally. Instead he meets up with an arsonist wombat, and they have adventures which unfortunately include a bunch of killing. I think the takeaway is supposed to be something about the power of friendship and mutual support, but the lesson I got out of it was more that the supposed good old days were actually violent, and lives were uncomfortable and short, with violent ends; modern "captivity" is actually a hell of a lot better quality of life. That's just me; you read it and see if you get more of that touching "buddy" feel out of it.
bunrab: (alien reading)
When last seen, other than a few short tweets,we were in Elko, Nevada, and I was complaining that there were great chunks of the North American continent that should never have been settled, and we *certainly* shouldn't be encouraging idiots like me & Steve to visit them by building an interstate highway to them. I-80 continued to enchant the next day, when we drove as far as Rock Springs, Wyoming, where tiredness, rain, darkness, altitude, whatnot, combined to say "We're stopping here instead of continuing to drive." The people in Rock Springs were very nice, both at the KOA and at the supermarket, where we bought too many desserts. Pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies!

The next day was, thank goodness, our last stretch of I-80 for the moment. From Rock Springs, we made it to Denver in time for supper, even with my stop at Cowgirl Yarn in Laramie. Delightful people in that yarn shop! They are currently at 115 Ivinson, but wanted to let everyone know that in June, they'll be moving -two doors down, so they'll be next to the coffee shop instead of the chocolate shop (don't worry, the chocolate shop will still be easily accessible). I got out of the yarn shop relatively cheaply - lower prices than Baltimore-area yarn stores! Not counting the gasoline it took to get there, of course.

Denver is where we had built in an extra day, good thing, too, because after driving through heavy rain and snow, we really needed a break from the road for a while. Sunday, Vince and Chas did the driving - as we went up Pike's Peak, where there was more snow! We were only able to go up to 12,000 or so feet, as the road above that was closed. Interesting stuff: though there is no official venue for such sports, there were quite a few people skiing and snowboarding down the mountain. Absolutely nuts. Crucial thing to know for anyone else considering a day at Pike's Peak: the gift shop at the Glen Cove point has only one unisex restroom, that is one toilet, and so you can expect quite a line, especially if everyone has been drinking lots of water as is recommended for the high altitude.

Speaking of high altitude, I have to admit it did leave me a bit dizzy. Although we had been rolling along the highway at 6000 feet or so for a couple of days, and adjusted to that altitude, 12,000 feet is something else. My heart and lungs were not 100% happy with me. I recovered fully after a really long night's rest, though.

On the way home from Pike's Peak, we ate at the Rockyard Brewery and Grill, in Castle Rock, and I can highly recommend it to anyone else touring the area. Lovely Mission decor, excellent sandwiches; I hear the beer is quite good though I wasn't up for alcohol after already experiencing low oxygen, but I did have the homemade root beer, and it is spectacular. And free refills!

Since I slept in today, I missed breakfast, but made it out of bed in time to head to the zoo - where we found that not only was every parking lot and every side street full, such that even some school buses were roaming around looking, but every spot of grass in the lots was occupied by groups of schoolchildren waiting to go into the zoo. So we went to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature instead. Cool stuff! We only saw part of it, the dinosaurs and early mammals - lots of dino fossils found in Colo., so a lot of the exhibits were of local items! There is a really nice lounge in the back of the Space Odyssey area, where people can relax in armchairs while looking out a glass wall at the City park, and behind the city, the mountains. Very relaxing.

And then we went to a bookstore... well, Tattered Covers is one of the most famous independent bookstores in the country. Yes, I was bad. I was rather thoughtless, in spending unlimited time there without even wondering where the rest of our party was and whether they had other things to do. Sorry! And I spent too much, too. But hey, bookstore. And back at the Museum, the only things I got at the gift shop were one refrigerator magnet, and a bookmark for Cindy - surely that restraint balances things out?

By the way, back at Pike's Peak I only got a magnet, too, though at the Garden of the Gods Park, which is sort of an introduction area to the peak, I did buy a t-shirt because I did not have enough layers of clothing on for the expected temperatures at the peak. It's a cute t-shirt: three squirrels in the classic "hear no, see no, speak no" poses, with stuffed cheeks, and a caption that says "Birdseed? What birdseed?"

One of the books I bought is a collection of all of Stephen Foster's songs, along with a few from several other songwriters of the same era. It's funny how much we think of as being folk music was actually written by Stephen Foster.

Well. Having been extremely well-fed by C&V, and having some of our remaining cookies from Rock Springs for dessert, I think we're up to date now. Tomorrow we are back on the road, but I-80 is much greener, and fewer occasions of having to climb up mountains, from here on in. So, Omaha next!
bunrab: (Default)
When last seen, we were headed toward San Diego. We drove down CA-78, through a great deal of sand, some of which seems to be used by a great many dune buggies out in the middle of nowhere. Sand, sand, and more sand. Glamis, CA, appears to consist entirely of an RV lot and a place to start one's dune buggy/ATV off into the sand from. Finally we got down to I-8, to zoom into San Diego. We arrived early enough in the day to get in a couple hours at the Reuben Fleet Science Museum, before checking into our RV park down in Chula Vista. That museum is one of the other places we had visited in San Diego on our previous trip. We ate supper at a really good Thai place in Chula Vista. The RV park was quite nice, and quite large. Good laundry facilities, extensive, well-stocked store. Then Monday morning, the point of going to San Deigo: the zoo! Got there a little after 11; on a weekday, had no trouble at all finding 2 parking spaces for the RV. My scooter worked just fine. Weather was perfect - sunny, but never quite hit 70 degrees F. So, we started with the 40-minute bus tour, just to get a quick overview of where things were and what looked best. Capybaras, giraffes, lions, the big stuff, were easily visible from the bus. When we got back to the beginning and retrieved the scooter, we had to decide which way to go. We didn't so much decide as drift, and we wound up at the meerkats fairly quickly. Although the bus tour had mentioned juvenile meerkats, they hadn't mentioned what we found most interesting: a mother meerkat carrying an infant by the scruff of his neck, finally putting him down in a spot where she and another meerkat - dad? - could sunbathe. Steve got several good pictures of the baby, and I'll get them posted when we get home. We probably spent half an hour with the meerkats; this is why we almost never get to see a whole zoo; we tend to keep watching the animals being themselves. Anyway, there were koalas, doing the absolutely nothing that koalas do so well. And there was young panda - 9 months old, not exactly a baby any more, but sort of a panda toddler. Eating carrots and apples and climbing into a hammock and nibbling on his toes. And then there were the warthogs. The baby warthogs were actually just nursing on mom and occasionally wiggling around. Dad warthog had the most peculiar hair/mane cut. But it was the juvenile warthogs that kept us amused for quite a while. They were climbing all over a large stack of tree trunks, much as you'd picture goats would do. The young warthogs are pretty sleek, a reddish color with white stripes and spots, like baby deer and baby tapirs (we had fun watching a very large tapir wade through a pool, too!). And the juveniles were endlessly playful, playing tag, dashing over to annoy mom and then dart out of her way, back around the entire compound in one zoom, back up the logs and then a leap off of them... it's a pity the gift shop didn't have much in the way of warthog gifts. I nonetheless managed to find stuff to buy; the younger Schoenlebers will find themselves stuck with panda souvenirs.

Tuesday was our drive up to Sunnyvale and Oakland. Somewhere along the way we passed a car dealership called Mossy Toyota; we managed to make more jokes about that than we should have. Cindy, you should be quite glad you're not with us; our conversation would drive you *completely* around the bend. The less said about I-5, the better. It's a giant reminder that most of CA is desert or mountains or both, and should never have been densely settled, and *certainly* we shouldn't have tried to irrigate all of it and then have the farmers get upset when the water starts running out. Because Los Angeles apparently always has traffic jams, no matter what, and because the RV isn't very good at reaching the speed limit when doing serious climbing uphill, we got to Sunnyvale very late, and had a nice but hurried visit with Kartik and Usha. Thank you for the cupcakes, Usha! And then we drove up to Oakland, managed to find Jeremy's in the dark, managed to park the RV on their winding street, staggered in, ate a banana, and went to sleep.

We spent Wednesday hanging out and eating food, and playing with Jeremy and Brenda's new dog, a totally sweet Papillon named Yukon, who DOES NOT YAP. Seriously, Not one single yap the whole time we were there. An adorable dog. Emily and Anika were adorable, too, of course. It was great to get the chance to relax and talk. Family stuff, not really anything the rest of y'all need me to post about. Thursday morning, B packed us a whole bunch of tamales and rice for the road, which we have just finished eating here at the RV park in Elko, NV.

Nevada should never have been settled by anybody for any reason. It is completely ridiculous that places like Elko are here. I was ready to do a whole rant about that, but it wore off some. Really, though, there is no point to humans attempting to settle the area between the Sierra Nevada and Salt Lake City, and the fact that these towns are here and have casinos is proof that humans do not have enough common sense to continue to support the species for very long.

Tomorrow: more I-80! Contain your glee!
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Saturday night when we landed in Blythe after some 550 miles of I-10, I was too tired to do a lot in the way of writing.

So where were we? Last time you saw us in any detail, we were in Van Horne. We had to turn on the heat overnight there - altitude sure makes a difference in temperature! We left Van Horn pretty much on time, stopped in El Paso for lunch - Luby's! I do miss Luby's cafeteria. And infinite refills of good unsweetened iced tea before one has to ask. And a huge bin of sliced limes for the iced tea... When we stopped for gas off of I-10 at Rt. TX-178, there were signs for the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. I-10 does run close to the border! We topped off again in Lordsburg, NM, in an attempt to not have to buy gas in AZ - you know I like lots of people who live in AZ, a Denizen or so here, a musician there, but I'm still really peeved at your state for the "Ihre Papieren, bitte!" law. Anyway, we also bought iced tea in Lordsburg, traded places in driving...

New Mexico at that latitude is not very wide, only 150 miles or so. We did note when we crossed the Continental Divide. Whee! (Look it up, people, look it up.) We weren't really going downhill much after that, though - it was still uphill, regardless of drainage basins. And that continuing uphill really started screwing with our gas mileage.

If I hadn't already mentioned this, once one is west of Fredericksburg, TX, the predominant color is tan. Sometimes it's a reddish tan, sometimes as pale as beige, sometimes distinctly taupe, but it's all shades of tan. It got steadily tanner as we went further west, too. More about that later.

Middle of nowhere: pecan orchard. A couple of *miles* of pecan orchard (we knew that was what kind of tree it was by the sign advertising "Pecans, walnuts, wine" at the side of the highway.) Desert, desert, desert, then all of a sudden this huge chunk of green trees in orderly rows. A few blocks of saplings, but quite a few blocks of trees that were a good height - not as mature as, say, Sam's trees, but probably somewhere between 10 and 20 years old, which means someone had successfully been irrigating a huge area for a long time. Then we happened to try the radio and up popped some Dixieland jazz - it turned out to be A Prairie Home Companion, from a station in Tucson, even though we were still more than an hour east of Tucson. That station stayed good reception for quite a ways west - we listened to all of PHC, then it went to classical music, and when that finally started getting fuzzy, we scanned and found a classical station in Phoenix that lasted us for another 100 miles. We also saw lots of saguaro from the highway. I <3 saguaro. (On our previous road trip almost 25 years ago, we had stopped in and taken a tour at Saguaro National Monument on our way back from San Diego to Austin.)

Some of how we amuse ourselves on long drives is making fun of signs. Certainly the signs in New Mexico warning us "Caution! Dust storms may exist." weren't terribly helpful. I mean, we already know dust storms exist; there's a lot of scientific evidence for them, almost as much as for gravity. It would be a lot more helpful to have signs that warned us where and when to expect to meet up with said storms, yes? Other signs we made fun of: AZ has something weird going on, as long after we were past any city, out in the middle of nowhere and its dog, were exits for "339th Ave" and then "411th Ave" - those numbers seem rather high for avenues, even if one were naming streets uniformly across a whole county never mind a city...

We did have to get a couple of gallons of gas in Tempe, AZ - we clearly weren't going to make it all the way across 400 miles of AZ on one tank, given the awful gas mileage we were getting due to heat and a terrific headwind. At the time, we noted that from Tempe to the CA border is about 150 miles, and then on the map, Blythe is a tiny fraction of an inch past that.

We pulled into the KOA in Blythe, CA around 10 pm Pacific, and the guy was still at the desk. Lots of oleander! We ate Connie's tamale pie for supper. Let us note that in fact, the KOA *is* a fraction of an inch past the border - one enters the CA stop-and-deny-having-fruit customs booth right on the border; the exit for the KOA is immediately past the inspection booths, and then the road curves under the highway - so that the campground itself is maybe a bit east of the customs booth, and north of it, hovering directly at the border. The GPS units - all our various phone thingies - all did not seem to sense that anything past the first few feet of Riviera Dr. existed; it took some effort to find that turn going under the highway and spot the sign for the campground!

More later about the last westward leg.
bunrab: (Default)
Van Horn is a little this side of El Paso - a little, meaning about 120 miles - so after today's 8 hours of driving down flat straight I-10, we will continue to drive down flat, straight I-10 to El Paso, through New mexico and Arizona, and as far as Blythe, CA. The way it works for where to stop, either today would have had to have been a 10.5 hour day and tomorrow an 8.5 hour one, or vice versa; we chose to make it tomorrow.

So, since yesterday afternoon:
We had supper with Fad & Rob, and Gwen. We hadn't actually meant to crowd total strangers to each other in like that but our time limitations and driving limitations seemed to work out that way. I got to give Fade our previous cheese grater, as we recently got an even spiffier rotary grater. Rotary cheese graters are truly wonderful things! If you have never tried one, you are missing out; freshly grated cheese on your spaghetti puts that stuff from the green plastic jars to complete shame, and as for having cheese melt nicely and evenly in mac-n-cheese, well!

When we got back to Connie's, she was still awake, so we got to chat a bit more. Connie has been wonderfully generous - not just her spare bedroom, but making sandwiches and other food for us to eat on the road today - and she gave me one of her wonderful needlepoint pillows! Y'all know I do little needlepoint thingies, but I never finish anything as big or detailed as the pillows Connie makes. This is really a one-of-a-kind. She keeps all her needlepoint yarn sorted by color in clear plastic storage boxes - and even has the same kind of rolling plastic storage cart I do. Definitely a fellow needlework soul.

We were supposed to eat Connie's sandwiches for lunch, but we wound up eating them for supper, because we realized that we were driving right through Fredericksburg at the beginning of lunch time, so we just had to stop and get German food from one of the many German restaurants in that town. (Yes, let's all hum "In the Chester Nimitz Oriental Garden, in Fredericksburg, Texas, we sat and ate breakfast...") We chose Auslander Biergarten, and enjoyed our lunch.

Shortly after F'burg, US-290 merges with I-10, and from there on, it's boring all the way. We made a point of stopping for gas whenever we saw it, on the theory that who knows how far the next one would be? When we stopped in Fort Stockton for gas, we took a break and sat down in a DQ for some ice cream, since Fort Stockton is an actual town with such establishments. Then it was my turn to drive again, and I got us the remaining 2 hours or so to Van Horn, here.

The campsite is rather desert-y, as one might expect. Nice breeze, though, and the higher altitude means it's cooler than Austin. Since we parked we've had the windows open, no air conditioning, and have been comfortable. We have a read a bit, computered a bit, talked to other people in the park a bit (RVers in general are a friendly bunch, and everyone wants to know about the features of everyone else's motorhome or trailer.) And finally we ate Connie's sandwiches, and she even packed dessert for us, fruit and minimuffins and candy. We'll eat the tamale pie tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow is our long day, so we're going to make at least some attempt to get to bed earlier so we can get moving in the morning.
bunrab: (Default)
Since connie doesn't have a computer, let alone wifi so we can use our notebooks, I couldn't post from her house. Thank goodness for coffee shops!

we had a great stay in Katy with Pam and Dan! As we were leaving Wednesday a.m., Pam gave us a HotShot water heater for our tea, and pillows! Which, you will recall, are one of the things we forgot to pack. So now we have pillows.

The drive to Austin was straightforward enough - we don't need GPS for that one. We stopped at Mikeska's in Columbus for a quick bite to eat (and enough of a dose of rural Texas to remind us why we wouldn't want to live there).

To a large extent, who we see during the short amount of time we're in Austin is determined by who is willing to come to far south Austin. The RV has a mileage charge, as well as paying for gas (it's been getting between 11 and 12 mpg), and also, although it is small for an RV, there are still many places we won't even try parking (condo complex parking lots, for example). And as usual I've overestimated how much energy I might have - after a few days of driving, I needed to sleep till 11 a.m. And we can't stay in Austin longer - one of our stops is in Oakland, CA to visit my brother, and he and his family leave the next day on vacation, so if any of the trip got pushed back, we'd miss them. So, this is a whole bunch of excuses to say, I'm sorry, we are not going to be able to see everyone in Austin. Our range is pretty much from Connie's in Oak hill to the parkking lot in Westgate Mall (at Ben White & S. Lamar). Thank you so much to the people who have been willing to drive down here to get together! We've given the short tour of the RV (well, there really isn't a long tour one can give of a 19-foot RV) to Jerry & Kathy, and Susan & Scott. We got to see Anita and Dana for a few minutes, as they live near Westgate Mall and dropped over here for a bit just before I started this post. (Yes, they are close enough that it wouldn't have been any trouble to drive there, but remember I mentioned our unwillingness to tackle crowdede condo complex parking lots? Case in point. We'd never have made it through there to their condo.)

Tomorrow morning, we leave Austin and plan to get as far as Van Horn. There's a KOA there, so I should have wireless, and since there's not much else to do there, I probably will sit around playing Farm games on FB. The 21st century is certainly weirder than I ever thought it would be. None of the science fiction writers got it right, that we would be doing everything with our cell phones (including camera) and looking at Lolcats online - the power of the World Wide Web, devoted to lolcats and trading imaginary farm animals.

I need to mail a few things - postcards, etc. Next post Friday night!
bunrab: (Default)
Here we are at Pam & Dan's house in Katy! We will sleep indoors tonight and use a real shower and brush our teeth with potable water! Seriously, the RV is great, but it'll be nice to have a break.

Let's see - yesterday! We left the suburbs of Birmingham, AL; ate lunch somewhere - nothing special - filled up with gas at the Medgar Evers Memorial Interchange in Mississippi, crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg - gambling boats! Then three hours of extrEMEly boring I-20 in EXTREMELY poor repair across Louisiana; we arrived at Gerald Savoie's Cajun Cooking in Shreveport, where we were meeting Mary, at 8:30. The food was great - oyster po'boy for me, shrimp po'boy for Steve, and bread pudding with hard sauce for each of us. (Hard refers to the fact that it has hard liquor in it, not to its texture.) Afterwards, we yakked away in the RV for hours. Mary gave me some great tea I've never had before, and I gave her tea and one of my "famous" knitted tea cozies - red, white and blue fuzzy yarn. And she gave me the loveliest beaded booksmarks she made. It was so great to meet her in person after what, 15 years? of internet and snail mail friendship, and to discover that we have even more interests in common than we knew. Toasted almonds! Crockpot recipes! What a great evening. We collapsed somewhere near 1 a.m., which is why no post last night, and I was a bit slow to wake up this morning, which is why we didn't get out of the RV park till 11 instead of 10. The RV park, by the way, is one I can recommend highly if you're in the area, Tall Pines RV on West 70th, pads in excellent condition, individual waste dump at every pad instead of one station at the edge; extensive store, good maps, easy hookups... very nice condition overall, and nice people running it, who are eager to give discounts.

Leaving Shreveport this morning, we ate lunch somewhere near Nacogdoches in a cafe called Country Kitchen, which was rather smoky - smoking still allowed indoors there. The buffet was inexpensive, but also nothing to write home about, though the mashed potatoes were tasty. The peach cobbler dessert that came with it was undistinguished.

We sort of left our printed instructions and GPS route to try to avoid some Houston traffic, so we used the Loop 8 tollway off of I-45, and didn't hit traffic till we got on I-10, where we hit plenty of traffic, as it was right at 5 p.m. Nonetheless we got to Pam's before 6. I took a nap - it's amazing how tiring wrestling that RV through stop and go traffic - and through toll booths! - is. Our EZ Pass did not work here, needless to say. Then Pam and Dan took us out to dinner, along with their kids, the kids' spouses, and the kids' kids - baby Jack and baby Scott, whom we had not met. I gave them their blankets, and both babies drooled quite appreciatively. We had a good supper - haven't had Tex-Mex in so long!

Anyway, tomorrow morning I am hoping to hit Yarntopia here in Katy on our way out toward Austin. We should be in Austin for late lunch/early afternoon. We'll be staying at Steve's cousin Connie's, I believe, out in Oak Hill. We'll see all you Austinites shortly!
bunrab: (Default)
We got started almost on time this morning, and finished the day almost exactly where we planned to be!

Driving south from Statesville, NC, we went of course through SC and then into Georgia, and then from a loop around Atlanta turned west onto I-20. Tomorrow's drive will be 100% I-20 except for getting in and out of RV Parks and visiting friend.

Some observations along the way: there sure are an awful lot of Jesus billboards in the southern states. I rather don't like having a highway billboard threatening me with hell, you know? There are also an awful lot of flea markets - the billboards for those outnumber even the religious ones.

One of the things we passed in SC was the BMW assembly plant in Spartanburg; we did not stop for the tour - no time!

When we crossed into Georgia, there was a big sign saying that "This highway project is part of the [long official name for stimulus bill]" and we said "Yay!" because the highway in SC had been in bad shape, as bumpy as if it were an old log road. The GA highway was nice and freshly repaved. Good use of stimulus funds. Apparently they also went to sign makers, as there were many, many traffic signs about every possible change in lanes, add'l road work, tourist sites, etc.

Entering into Alabama, the NASCAR presence becomes even larger - we are not far right now from Talladega SuperSpeedway. We drove through a small bit of Talladega National Forest, too. Earlier, we had driven past a sign for the Kings Mountain National Military Park, and I had wondered, what the heck is a military park? National historic battleground, it turns out. Not exactly a park. I think the National Monuments rather than National Parks would be where I'd put it - after all, Fort McHenry in Balto. is a National Monument. (And so is the Saguaro area in the Southwest. And there's a sailing ship in the harbor in San Francisco that is a National Park, complete with Park Rangers giving tours. I have no idea how they decide which category to put these things in!)

We had dinner in Oxford, AL with [livejournal.com profile] avanta7 and her husband. The last time we saw them was 5 years ago, when we were in an RV moving from Texas to Maryland. They must think we are like cicadas, emerging from our RV cocoons on a periodic basis. They were in Little Rock then, which was our first-night stop during the move; shortly thereafter, they moved to CA. Well, just a month or so ago they moved to Alabama, so voila! We were able to meet up. And she had a lovely afghan she made for me - it's exactly what I need, and it will make a decent pillow tonight, too. I haven't finished her bookmarks yet. I hope to finish them by the end of this trip - I brought my cross-stitch projects as well as knitting and crocheting with me.

Our RV park is owned and run by a couple of guys who are very talky - I had fair warning when I called ahead on the phone to see about making a reservation; his directions on how to reach the park included a lot of things that "used to be there" and a lot of the history of motels and RV parks in the region. When we got here, we chatted some more - we now have a great many tips on what to look for if we decide to buy instead of rent an RV, and we know more about US Route 78. Luckily, we finished chatting and getting the water and electric hooked up hjust in time. It started raining as we were closing the curtains. The sound of rain on the roof is nice.

Tomorrow: I-20 all the way to Shreveport!
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
We're at the KOA, where, as there was last time we were RVing, there is free wireless internet access.

This RV is fun! It wallows a bit, though not nearly as much as a 29-footer. The 19-foot compact RV is also narrower than standard RVs, so it's much easier to drive down narrow roads. Which we certainly did earlier! Our lunch stop was in Stanardsville, VA, to visit w/ my nephew Michael and his family. Mike and Erika live on an unimproved road off another unimproved road (unimproved is one step up from dirt road; an unimproved road hasn't been paved but it has been graded and had gravel spread on it) off a 1.5 lane paved road. Miles from anywhere. It's a nice house, though, with a lovely wooded setting. Their son Oliver, almost 3, continues to be delightful - I brought him a play blanket I had knitted (it's on Ravelry, where I'm also bunrab, for those of you who are crafters) and he said "Thank you!" immediately without any prompting, and then sat down and started playing on it right away - it's a knitted piece out of superbulky cheap acrylic, that has a stretch oif grey road with a double yellow stripe, a winding river, and a section of railroad tracks knitted into it. And Oliver just happens to have a ton of toy trains and cars to use on such a blanket. The Junebug - their daughter June - has grown a lot in 2 months; she's not quite 6 months old yet.

The drive was pretty uneventful. Some disagreements between one set of maps and another and one GPS and another were fairly easily resolved. No major traffic jams, didn't see any major accidents, or even many state troopers! We pretty much stuck to the speed limit - the posted limit on various roads seems to be a pretty good fit for what feels comfortable in the RV. As I said, it does wallow a bit.

Things we forgot to bring: my handicapped parking tag (no biggie, since the RV wouldn't fit in most handicapped parking spaces anyway), pillows - they don't come with the RV, one provides one's own pillows and linens; Steve's music folder so he can practice. He brought the euphonium, which fits under the table I am typing at right now, and I brought the soprano sax; my bari sax parts will sound odd practiced on the soprano but it works to keep my fingers and lip in shape.

Tomorrow we go as far as, roughly, Birmingham, AL, where we'll have a visit with [livejournal.com profile] avanta2, whom we last saw in Little Rock on our move from TX to MD in the rented RV then! She's going to think we automatically hatch out of an RV every day.

Fairly tired now. A few minutes of mindless knitting (I brought along enough knitting, crochet, and cross-stitch projects for 6 months, never mind 3.5 weeks when I'll be driving a good chunk of the time), and then we wrestle the sheets onto the cabover bed, somehow finesse the pillow lack by using a bag of yarn or something, and fall asleep.

"See you" tomorrow!
bunrab: (Default)
Friday, April 30: drive down to Manassas, VA, and pick up rental RV - it's a 19-footer, the very smallest size class C. Drive back to Baltimore and load the thing up. We're bringing our motorcycle helmets just in case someone wants to loan us a bike while we're visiting, and our smaller musical instruments to practice.
Saturday, May 1. Drive toward Texas, probably stop for night around Asheville, NC, just because we've never been there and it's reputed to be artsy and have good restaurants.
Sunday, May 2. Drive toward Texas. Probably stop for night near Birmingham, Ala., and have a visit with friends who have recently moved to that area.
Monday, May 3. Drive toward TX. Probably stop for night near Shreveport, LA, and have a visit with a longtime internet friend who lives near there.
Tuesday, May 4. Drive to Katy, arrive for late lunch. Visit with Pam, and Brad and Lauren, and their assorted children.
Wednesday, May 5. Drive to Austin, arrive for lunch. Stay through Thursday night and leave sometime Friday. Hope to park at Connie's. Visit with - oh, everybody?
Friday, May 7. Drive toward CA - probable overnight stop in Van Horn, TX.
Saturday, May 8. Drive toward CA - probable overnight in Mesa, AZ (unless we can find a legit campground further south than that, closer to I-10.)
Sunday, May 9. Drive to San Diego, arrive afternoon.
Monday, May 10. San Diego Zoo. Hey, you have your priorities, we have ours.
Tuesday, May 11. Drive to Oakland. Visit with Jeremy & Brenda. Stay through Wednesday.
Thursday, May 13. Drive toward Denver. Probable overnight in West Wendover, NV, right on UT border.
Friday, May 14. Drive toward Denver. Probable overnight in Laramie, WY.
Saturday, May 15. Arrive in Lakewood (Denver), CO. Arrive in time for lunch, since it's less than 3 hrs, theoretically, from Laramie to Lakewood. Visit with C&V.
Tuesday, May 18. Drive to Omaha. Visit Pohrens.
Wednesday, May 19. Drive to Chicago. Possible visit with assorted nieces living in the area.
Thursday, May 20. Drive to Akron, OH area. Visit with nephew near Cleveland along the way.Visit with Jim & Barbara.
Sunday, May 23. Drive to Phila/Bristol. Visit with sister/
Monday, May 24. Drive to New York/Long Island. Arrive in time for lunch. Rick, Sally, who knows who else.
Tuesday - visit various friends and relatives on Long Island and nearby.
Wednesday, May 26. Drive home to Baltimore.
Thursday, May 27. Return RV to Manassas, VA, getting us off the highways before the Memorial Day weekend.

Yes, the house will be occupied while we're gone - there's a sitter for all the pets, and assorted friends, neighbors, and maintenance people providing lots of coverage.
bunrab: (Default)
Not that I've been daily posting anyway, but just so you know. My friend Sallythehoarder was here visiting for 4 days, and while talking, I discovered that her place has filled up again, so I'm going to NY to help her throw out at least enough stuff that a new bed can be delivered. More details about that provided on request. Will have my cell phone with me, so if you know my phone # you can call or text me; if you don't know my # but need to reach me, DM me through my Twitter account, bunrab - well, of COURSE it's bunrab; what else would it be? My next check of email, LJ, and FB will be Saturday 8/29.

Hope everyone else is enjoying the last of summer!
bunrab: (alien reading)
All right, folks, here's my review of Gaslight Grimoire on Amazon.com - there are three others, so you'll have to scroll down to read mine. Any helpful Yes clicks always appreciated. The anthology includes some very funny Sherlock Holmes pastiches, as well as a story where Moriarty is the hero.

Graphic novel: The Five Fists of Science. Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla battle black magic and a yeti. Need I say more? Well, it is rather nice to read a graphic novel that involves neither teenage angst nor caped superheroes, and is an original story rather than a graphic version of an established classic. And anything with Mark Twain in it is going to have funny moments, yes.

Yesterday we went to the Eastern Trombone Workshop down at Fort Myer. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Trombone Ensemble was excellent - about 20 undergrad music majors, and the performance included a couple of original arrangements by some of them. The trombones of the Atlanta Symphony, with a guest tubist. Some good hints from them about playing as an ensemble and matching tones - things that even community band players, and even people who play other instruments, could try and benefit from. The big evening concert was the Army Orchestra, doing four pieces, each with a different soloist. Charlie Vernon, bass trombonist for the Chicago Symphony, looks exactly like what you imagine someone who's been playing low brass for a major symphony for forty years or more would look like. Saturday morning he's giving a solo recital, which we may or may not get there in time for.

Tonight we have tickets for the Baltimore Symphony - they're doing Dvorak 7 - and tomorrow we are going to Ft Myer again for more trombone concerts, but returning to Baltimore in the evening because we have tickets to see the *Canadian Brass* (yes, you may all let out little jealous-sounding "oooh" noises). Then Sunday we will be driving up to the Philadelphia suburbs to see my niece Hanna in another school play - as a freshthing, she is already getting parts they normally reserve for juniors and seniors. I am working on finishing a quilt for Gregory - Hanna is my sister Steph's oldest; Gregory is Steph's youngest, all of 4 weeks old at this point; I believe I've mentioned he's my 38th niece-or-nephew. I will take a picture of the quilt as soon as it's done - it's all basted, so if I can do hand-tying/embroidery-floss quilting in the car tomorrow day, then I can finish the binding after we get home tomorrow night, and bring it with us Sunday.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
We did xmas twice, first on Thursday with my sister S and her spouse and kids and our parents and some of her spouse's siblings, then again on Saturday, with my brother G and his spouse and kids and our parents and a niece and her new husband, who were briefly in MD visiting, before returning to grad school in Texas; most of us had not been able to get to her wedding, so we were pleased to meet the husband (and his younger brother, who was tagging along for the day). Sister is up Philadelphia way, which meant we got to see the mess that is billboards in Phila. again - they have more Hooters billboards per mile of highway than any other city I've seen. G lives about an hour south of us, near DC.

I made a set of placemats for S, who has been wanting new ones for a couple YEARS now; below is a picture of five out of the eight of them - the green things. The piecing is a faux-crazy quilt pattern, with a few bits of ribbon added, and then they are quilted using cotton batting.


The picture in the frame in the middle of the table is a photo of me and [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet, taken in Vienna, in a frame I painted to sort of match the dress I'm wearing in the photo. This was a gift for my dad and stepmom, who expressed a wish to have a respectable-looking photo of us to add to their table o' family pics - all their offspring, with assorted spouses and further descendents. So now they have one. Here's a slightly closer view of it:


One of the neatest presents we received from relatives was an afghan that sister S and her family made for Squirrel; knowing his love of his John Deere lawn tractor, they found John Deere fabric and a nice fleece backing, and fringed and knotted them to make a lap robe Squirrel can use while watching TV. Nephew Ian, almost-12, did most of the work; Ian loves making stuff, any stuff - car models and Lego helicopters and jigsaw puzzles, and sewing and needlework as well. Anyway, that is a gift beyond anything they could have bought Squirrel with just $$$.

Those red things in the center of the picture above were two dishcloths and two scrubbies (pot scrubbers) I crocheted for SIL Jen - she had requested red, and I made her those items, plus three red quilted potholders and a quilted oven mitt. The potholders and oven mitt are made using a batting which has a mylar reflective layer, so that they really do insulate/isolate the hot object from the hand. Here's a quick view of those:


I made teddy-bear-ear hats for 2 of G & Jen's kids - here's Luke in his, and Kyla in another one that was also supposed to be Luke's, but she appropriated it an preference to the kitty-ear hat I had made her. Oh well.


I made a lot of crocheted and knitted dishcloths, most of which I didn't bother to photograph before wrapping and/or mailing them, but here's one last photo, of the black lace dishcloths I made for Liz:


Things I got for xmas: a big chunk of my Amazon.com wish list, from Squirrel; Odysseus on the Rhine, mentioned in the previous post, is part of it. Also a couple of books from Cindythelibrarian; assorted CDs and a family photo or two, turtlenecks and socks. Funny thing about socks. Clothing is supposedly one of those presents you don't like to get. But socks were a big hit this year. I bought two of my nieces, Brenna and Brooke, socks from the Doorly Zoo, back when we were in Omaha in November, and gave the socks to them for xmas; they immediately put them on! After all, who can possibly resist LEMUR socks? And then, when S and her family were giving me and Squirrel our presents, mine had a pair of socks as part of the gift tag - and I immediately put them on, because the socks I had been wearing were way too warm for how mild the weather was, and the new socks were cotton - also had animals on them. So there was much running around the living room in animal socks for the rest of the day.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
So we went to the Winterthur on Saturday. They have really nice lunches in their cafeteria, including a fancy dessert table. I spent more time on the "Who's Your Daddy" exhibit than [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet or Cindythelibrarian did. We all enjoyed the "Feeding Desire" exhibit - if you're anywhere in the area, that's a great one to go see. Of course right now, the house tour includes Winterfest, which is always beautiful. And mid-afternoon, there was a concert by a Sa"ngerbund - I forget the name of the group, but it was a chorus of about 30 people. Mostly songs we did not know, many of them in German. When we crossed the driveway to the gift shop, we noticed the largest holly tree I have ever seen, somewhere over 30 feet and full of berries. I am used to holly trees being spindly 10 or 12 foot things, and in Texas holly is a shrub; this was most definitely a tree! We got a good deal of holiday present shopping done in the gift shop. On the way home we avoided the evil Delaware toll plaza - on the way up, we were so busy talking, we missed the exit for easiest toll avoidance.

Backing up a bit. I did not wind up making the corn pudding for Thanksgiving. It would have been the last thing to get started, and when I got to that point, I realized that I had every single inch of space in my oven and my toaster oven completely filled with stuff already, more stuff than 8 people could possibly eat. (So I used the corn to make corn chowder late at night for S & I for supper - so we didn't have to eat the leftovers the same day!) We had a nice Auslese Riesling and a lot of apple cider. The day went well. My 7-month-old nephew Luke seems to be attempting to bypass crawling altogether and trying to stand up by himself and learn to walk. We watched "Babe" after dinner, which was popular not only with almost-2 Kyla, but also with my dad. My stepmom gave us a housewarming present, a Tensor floor lamp with a daylight-spectrum bulb in it - and it's dimmable! That will be useful not only for all my needlework but also for S's fiddling with stereo pieces and with gadgets.

Currently reading: Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred - very funny SF graphic novel - and The Eight by Katharine Neville, a thriller about Charlemagne, chess, the French Revolution, and auditing. The number 8 has many meanings in the book, and one of them is the "Big Eight" accounting firms, back when there were still such. Our heroine works for one that is a roman-a-clef Peat Marwick, often known as KPMG; in the book, the names of the firm form an acronym of FCK-U, which pretty much describes the firm's attitude toward its clients, its employees, and everything else.

I love museum gift stores.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
First, here is the delightful and handsome red river hog:largish picture behind the cut )
That picture is from the side. Now here's a closer one of the head - this is actually a different one of the three hogs that were trotting around their plot of land:another largish pic )
Now don't you all agree that this is definitely an Elf Pig, and that this species should definitely have a role in some forthcoming fantasy?

Finished object of needlework: a quilted table runner for my cousin J, whose wedding we went to LAST October - finished a year after the wedding. There are also four placemats that match the runner. you know the drill by now )
Now I am partway through Cindythelibrarian's curtains, a quilted set for my niece V who got married in July, and I've just gotten started on a quilt for niece J whose wedding we just went to this past weekend. I'm also going to make placemats for my sister S for Xmas. Oh, and in there somewhere I'm attempting to finish a sweater for NaKniSweMo!
bunrab: (bunearsword)
We had brunch with family, then went to the zoo for the afternoon, then went back and had supper with family this evening. Twitters from the zoo will be showing up here at the usual hour. Pictures will show up tomorrow night when we get home.
bunrab: (Default)
We just walked back to our hotel from the wedding reception, which was only 2 blocks away. It's a bit chilly here, but we actually have adequate clothing for it. Anyway, the rock'n'roll was getting a bit louder, and much of the over-50 crowd decided to drift on out and leave it to the kids. I did talk to the band first, though, to discuss saxophone mouthpieces with their utility drummer/sax player.

The bride was beautiful, the groom was there, the family was noisy. Our family is ALWAYS noisy. Tomorrow morning we're having a family brunch. Expect more noise.

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