Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Another Pause

Hey there!  It's been quite some time since I've written anything here, so I figured I should probably go ahead and make my blog break official. 

When will I be back?  Hmm.  Not sure about that one.  My focus has been elsewhere these days.  Elsewhere meaning I'm back in the job market, trying to get settled here, attempting to get all our ducks in a row with the new home we purchased, (and ever present problems that seem to keep popping up with what we've now fondly nicknamed the money pit).

We actually watched The Money Pit a few weeks ago just for perspective and laughs.  What a riot that one is!  I guess we should be thankful no one's wrapped in a a rug, stuck in a hole in the floor.

So, we'll be around...and I'll be back plinking away at the keyboard soon enough.  Perhaps in time for some harvest or holiday craftiness.  Cheety will miss you.  Be back soon.

Ta ta for now.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Snapshot Moments

Ever given this idea any thought?  I bet like most people, you have your share of remarkable memories from over the years.

But, I'm not just talking about good memories. I'm talking about those unforgettable moments from over the course of your life that for one reason or another, tattooed the occasion in your mind and forever marked it as exceptional. Those are your "Snapshot moments."

Now, I'm not talking about heartbreaking moments or tragedy.  Of course, we all have those, too.  I mean the moments that can make you smile just thinking back on them.  And they don't even need to be grand, outrageous memories. Sometimes they're anything but!

They're indelible simply because they captured an instant of joy.  Or humor.  Or anticipation.  Or maybe just pure wonder.

I had this conversation with one of my oldest friends recently, and it got me thinking. 

As I let the idea marinate in my mind for a few weeks, a few of my snapshot moments started to climb their way out of my  dusty memories. I'll share two with you.

The Big Four-Oh Snapshot
This one will be forever seared in my mind!  Because of the location, because of the breathtaking scenery, the vibrancy, the milestone birthday...I could go on and on. 

It was my 40th birthday & the hubby and I were on vacation in Italy, and it was our first night in Florence. On a whim, we decided to check out the rooftop restaurant in our hotel for dinner that night. We wandered up the dim, steep stairs to the roof anticipating a lovely dinner, with absolutely no concept of the scene about to greet us at the top of the staircase.  As we strolled up to the host to request a table, I casually glanced over the balcony.  And...Good Lord. 

Imagine a postcard brought to life right in front of your eyes.  It was quite literally Florence at its best:  Bathed in that perfectly warm sunset light that highlighted all the shades of amber, auburn and orange from every rooftop.  It was stunning.  I'll never forget how awe-inspiring that sunset was...and I've seen my share of sunsets. Che magnifico, to say the least!

The Grease Snapshot
This one makes me laugh when I think about it.  It was during the short lived time when two of my sisters and I all lived in Florida together.  Here's the scene: Two young women pull up to a neighborhood Italian restaurant and park in an available spot.  Right as they park, the song "Summer Nights'" from the movie Grease comes on the radio.  (This is when you realize I'm talking about me and my sister, by the way.)

Photo credit:  A. Currell via Flickr
Without consulting each other, they both immediately start duetting.  The radio is blasting on volume 10, practically vibrating the windows through the little Toyota...and two egregiously off-key, but enthusiastic singers are belting it out at the top of their lungs.

Windows cracked just enough that anyone unlucky enough to be strolling nearby would be...ahem...regaled with our mostly tone def rendition of the classic ditty.

I'm pretty sure I sang the part of Danny. Once the song finished, there was a second or two where neither one of us acknowledged the ridiculous, spontaneous duet we just collectively massacred.

Then we looked at each other and busted out laughing.  Gotta love sisters.

Now it's your turn.  Dig deep...what are some of your snapshots?

♪ ♫ "...Summer lovin', had me a blast..." ♫ ♪

Ta-ta for now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tales from Kansas

♫ ♪  "Aaaa-OOOH...werewolves of London..."  ♪ ♫

Do you know that one from Warren Zevon?  Well, that would be an appropriate theme song for one of our camping overnights on our road trip from the west coast to the east coast about 8 weeks ago.

Our "Werewolves of London" camp out was one of my favorites from the trip.  Which is a little surprising, considering it was Kansas.

Nothing against the sunflower state, but come on - what's Kansas known for? The Wizard of Oz.  And...tornadoes.  Not exactly a top destination for R&R.

But Wilson Lake?  Beautiful!  We scored a prime spot right on the lake, and it was by far our best camp location on this road trip.

You couldn't beat the view, and the breeze off the water was perfect.  Actually, it turned out to be super windy overnight, but it was so fresh and kept the bugs down.

I loved the landscape and our view, but that quickly took a back seat once the sun went down.  I only wish it was because someone was playing Warren Zevon too loud.

Alas, it was more mundane than that.  The short answer?  Rednecks.

We're talking an impressive barrage of cursing, fighting, yelling, and literal howling at the moon by our remarkably inebriated camping neighbors.

Yes...actual howling.  It was sumthin' alright.  I wasn't bothered as much by all the commotion because I had earplugs to block out the nonsense.

The hubby wasn't so lucky.  He got the full brunt of all the angry hollering and f-bombs.  Till about 3 or 4 in the morning.  Nice, right?

But, did I mention the beautiful view?  Ha.

We were ranking our campsites as we traveled, and despite the evening's yokel-tastic entertainment, we decided when all was said and done that Wilson Lake was the winner on this road trip. 

A lovely campsite, a welcome break from the road, and another step closer to our new home on the east coast.

Rowdy rednecks be damned.

♪ ♫ "I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand..."  ♪ ♫

Ta-ta for now.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Sh!@# Sandwich

Photo credit: Steven Groves from Denver, CO, via Wikimedia Commons

You know how "they" (whoever they are) say bad things happen in threes?  Well, I must be an over achiever, because it seems the sh!@# has hit the fan across the board lately.

I'm going to try not to sound like a whiner - I'm striving for straight up documenting the crap reality that's happening at the moment.  Which I've come to fondly refer to as the sh!@# sandwich.

I was joking with a friend the other day about how our sh!@# sandwich has 3 different kinds of cheese, fancy bread, 4 different kinds of meat, etc.

Not only have we moved from one side of the country to the other, (which alone comes with its share of stress) we've managed to check off way too many other boxes.  Now, for my unnecessary visual aid:

Our new home, the dog's health, my health, the seemed to keep piling on.

The abbreviated version is that we bought a new home and immediately discovered a persistent, mysterious, musty smelling odor.  We thought a new dehumidifier in the basement would do the trick.  No such luck.

The dehumidifier was our first attempt at mitigation, and we quickly racked up a laundry list of further attempts at solving the problem:
  1. A commercial grade ozone air purifier similar to what's used to clean the air after  severe smoke damage
  2. Strategically deploying pouches of activated charcoal (an odor absorber)
  3. Having the pipes professionally hydro-jetted to blast out any built up mold and funk (a drain snake with a pressure washer attached the the end)
  4. Dumping live powdered enzymes that eat organic waste like mold, grease, hair, food particles, paper, cotton & sewage down all the drains 
Everything we've done to get a handle on the odor has helped enormously, but there's still a faint smell in the air.

We're giving it a little more time for the enzymes to eat their way through any residual funk and hopefully fully take effect, so here's hoping.  It's been exhausting.  And stinky.  No one wants to live in a musty house!

While dealing with the house smell, we found a lump on Cheety's tail that turned out to be a malignant mast cell tumor.  Cue the hysteria here.

He had surgery to get it removed - along with 4 vertebrae in his tail - the poor thing.  He still has his signature curly tail, but it's significantly shorter.

He's high as a kite and more than a little freaked out about it in this picture

Then the Jeep crapped out, and the cherry on the cake was breaking out in hives from below my neck to my knees.  That was stupendous.

But as these things go, we're back on the upswing.  Pathology came back on the pup and he's all clear.  Low grade tumor, completely removed, little chance of future spreading. Can I get a hallelujah?!

Hives are long gone and I'm no longer trying to itch my skin off. Wouldn't wish that one on anyone.

Jeep was fixed without a heart attack inducing price tag.  Well done my trusty, 14 year old bag of a car!

The lovely house odor is getting better, but I'm calling that one still pending!

So all in all, things are starting to look up.  Dare I say we might be over the hump?  Good Lord, I hope so.  We already have enough fancy cheese on our sandwich!

Ta-ta for now.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Loneliest Road in America

Final mileage count
We're on the other side of our fifth Coast Guard move...hallelujah!  It wasn't nearly as long as some of our other massive, cross country road trip moves over the years, but it was still quite a haul.

We made a slew of stops along the way to visit family, took out a bird and a snake in the road kill tally, and ogled at this massive, geographically diverse country we call home.

We started our journey on the aptly named  "Loneliest Road in America."  Also known as US-50.  That nickname was news to me, but after traveling on it, I can't argue.

These road signs were dotted periodically all along the way through Nevada & Utah

As we trucked along, the word that continually went through my mind was isolated.  There isn't a damn thing anywhere around you on the loneliest road except the sage grass and distant mountains.  Think High Plains Drifter scenery.  Minus Clint Eastwood.

Not a whole lot out here!

It was a little less lonely with these characters, I have to say.

The landscape in Nevada and Utah was a departure from most of the other incredible scenery we've seen during our time traveling and moving around the country - and just as awe inspiring as the green mountains of Kodiak and stunning blue mangrove shallows of Key West.

The take-away?  We live in a beautiful world!  Cliché, sure.  But, that doesn't make it any less true.

On this trip, we alternated between camping in the Cricket, spending the night in hotels, and plopping down with family along the way - which was from Sacramento, CA to Arlington, VA for those who may not know. 

Our first stop was in Eureka, NV.  That one was...unique.  It was a strangely dead town.

And I don't mean that it didn't have entertainment.  I mean it was literally like an old west, abandoned town.

The main drag was deserted, forgotten storefronts, neglected buildings, and an eerie sense of a place that's been cast aside.  The kind of main street where tumbleweeds blowing down the road wouldn't seem out of place.

We managed to find one spot open for dinner called The Owl Club.  First time in a long time I'd seen a place that still allows smoking inside.  I forgot how gross that can be.  Guess it jives with the whole wild west vibe they had going on.

So naturally, we got take-out and brought it back to our room. Plus, we had the boy and I don't think The Owl Club would take kindly to Pugbulls at dinner.  Despite the fact that they have excellent table manners.

Along with the deserted old west feel, there were some beautifully restored and historic buildings.  Talk about dichotomy.  I think this one was a courthouse, or town hall - some kind of government building.  It was striking amidst the dilapidation surrounding it.

On our way out of town the next morning, we found a cute little coffee & breakfast joint right at the edge of town.  We had a few surprisingly good egg sandwiches at their picnic table before hitting the road again for day two.

Not a bad start to our trip.  And now I have to share the Nevada-tastic roadside art we saw.  Yes...that's an Elk, a Bighorn Sheep, and a bench all sculpted from horse shoes.  It was pretty cool!

After our first overnight in Eureka, it was back to the loneliest road toward Utah.  Whoever gave US-50 that nickname was was spot on.  I think Clint Eastwood would agree.

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

One Last Cali Thing

We had to have our 'one last Cali thing' before our cross country road trip and move back to the east coast, and we pulled it off a few weeks ago. 

It was a life list trip for me and it was excellent to finally get to cross it off!

What was this life list trip of mine?  Trees.  Really, really big trees.  Also known as the giant Sequoias. And man, were they giant.

How 'bout this muthah?!

Full disclosure, though - we didn't even get to see the truly massive trees because the road was closed to The Trail of 100 Giants, which was where we had hoped to go.

It was a bummer, but we were still able to hike around and see some legitimately BIG Sequoias.

We wandered around the forest saying. "Ooo, there's a big one" over and over.

We stayed in an Airbnb mountain cabin I found just outside Springville, CA, and it was nothing short of peaceful, quiet, solitude.

I didn't expect us to be able to have a fire, but the altitude was high enough that it was chilly at night, so we cranked it up.

This trip was the perfect unwind before chaos.  Our timing was less than stellar, considering the movers were scheduled to come and pack us up right after our weekend away.

Bad timing, but great unwinding!

The Pugbull enjoyed the mountain views, too.  Ha.

During the days, we drove further up into the mountains on winding, picturesque roads to get to the Sequoias and did lots of hiking through the National Forest. I definitely got winded more quickly at the higher altitudes!  (Somewhere around 7k feet up)

At night, we cooked up some comfort food like grilled steak with sweet potato and veggies and spaghetti & meatballs, listened to music, and enjoyed some of the wine we picked up during our Sonoma trips over the last year.

One of the things I loved about the location was that we could hear the cascade of the waterfalls just below the cabin while we were out on the deck.

And when we opened the window at night - it was like nature's sleep machine.  And the stars?  Good Lord, the stars!  The nights were beautifully clear.

The cabin truly was off-the-grid with no TV, just a selection of DVD's. Somehow we ended up watching Fantastic Mr. Fox on repeat all weekend.  (The hubby has a thing for Wes Anderson.)

Which inevitably resulted in us singing   ♪ ♪ "Boggis, Bunce, and Bean..." ♪ ♪ all weekend.  Those of you who've watched Fantastic Mr. Fox more than once might know what the hell I'm talking about.  The rest of ya?  Moving on...

The deck had a lovely view overlooking the mountains

So I have to say, it was a pretty excellent 'one last trip' in California for us.  And now?  East coast bound, baby!

Ta-ta for now.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fourth Blog-a-versary

It completely slipped my mind that my fourth blog-a-versary was imminent.  Slipped my mind so much so that it came & went!

I started blogging on May 4, 2013, right before we were on the verge of moving from Key West, FL to Kodiak, AK.

And now we're on the verge again.  This time, it's Sacramento, CA to Arlington, VA.  So that's my excuse for forgetting about my blog-a-versary.

Considering we just bid farewell to this round of movers and all of our worldly possessions, and were holed up in a hotel for a week before starting another cross-country road trip and move...I'm gonna go ahead and give myself a pass on this one!

Always nice to have all our crap in the driveway for all the world to see

Someone's not a fan of the chaos

I'm not surprised I feel the same way that I do every year when this time rolls around...which is it's hard to believe I'm still blogging.  I didn't really think about longevity when I started or where I thought I'd go with my little project.

I certainly didn't think years would pass and I'd still be at it.  Yet another example of my penchant for routines, I guess.

Cause here I am, 4 years later - still cranking out my two cents to whoever wants to tune in.

I won't pretend I hadn't hoped regularly blogging might lead somewhere, writing-wise.  But I'm okay with it just being my little hobby and writing routine kick in the butt.  Because I still believe, "hey, who knows where it might lead?"

So here we are, about to head into another overhaul of the familiar.  What can I say?  Here we go again.

Happy 4th blog-a-versary to me.

Ta-ta for now.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Bike Dog

You really can't beat philanthropy and beer.  Ammaright??

We've made a valiant attempt at checking out the giant variety of craft breweries in the Sacramento area since we've been here, and not too long ago we took a ride over to Bike Dog Brewery in West Sacramento.

The day we went, Bike Dog was having a fund raiser for one of the local dog shelters.  A dollar for every beer sold went to PBSOC - which is the Pitbull Socialization and Obedience crew.

It's a section of the Bradshaw Shelter that focuses on making the Pitbull breeds available for adoption as appealing as possible for potential adopters.

Because the reality is that many of the "Pitbull" type dogs are overlooked in the adoption process.  They have an inaccurate reputation for aggression and often sit on the adoption floor for longer than other breeds.  Kind of like black cats.

As an owner of a Pittie mixed breed, I can say with authority that they are one of the sweetest, snuggliest pups out there.  So checking out a brewery we haven't seen yet while also supporting PBSOC was a win-win.

Of course, we brought the boy with us.  Because we could.  Bike Dog was pretty standard as far as breweries go.  An industrial vibe, friendly atmosphere, and an unexpectedly excellent band called The Sasha and Jimmy Show.

We sampled the local brews, and to be honest I can't even remember what I had...but if I had to wager a guess, I'm sure I ordered a wheat, a pilsner, or perhaps a Kolsch.  But I know for sure we enjoyed the afternoon, the music, the sunshine, and the beers!

Vintage-cool Sasha and Jimmy Show

 The boy did his job helping to dispel the myth that Pitbull breeds are somehow meaner than other only he can.

Apparently it was Converse Day at the brewery.  ;)

I had to snap a photo of the bumper sticker I spotted on one of the musician's guitar cases because it made me chuckle. 

Mostly because "Janky."

I need more scenarios where I can relevantly use that word.

Bike Dog was a fun day out and one of the last Sacramento breweries we managed to check off our list. I bet we'll make a dent in the DC craft brewery scene when we relocate! 

Hopefully they're not too janky.  Too soon?  Yeah. Too soon.

Ta-ta for now.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Top of the Slide

Man, I'm starting to sound like a broken record.  Why?  Because here I am spouting the same shpiel about being on the verge of moving.  Again.  Tough to believe we're staring down that barrel.  Again.

This time is slightly different, though.  We haven't even lived here in Sacramento for a full year, and we're already prepping to leave.  Sacramento has been many things, but mostly...fleeting.   

A normal Coast Guard tour is usually 4 years, but since the hubby advanced to a new rank, this tour was cut significantly short.  So here we are the top of the slide.

Just a little more time and we'll be pushing off, gliding down to another cross-country road trip, another life overhaul. I'm hoping that easygoing playground vibe follows us on our trip down the slide!

The prospect of doing it all again - only 10 months or so after our last move - is slightly daunting.  But I will say that my love of list making has helped me get a handle on it.

Between my pre-move checklist, my post-move check list, my master PCS packing list, and my road trip itinerary spread sheet...I've got this shit down.  Let's hear it for fastidiousness.

So now it's just a matter of pushing off the slide.  Wish us luck!

Ta-ta for now.

I'm sure this exceptionally cute travel companion will boost our morale!