May. 4th, 2011

mellymell: (Default)
There were clues over the past couple of months, but nothing definitive to tell me that we were not going to Boston to a tech conference over Easter and the weekend before my 30th birthday. I suppose the audacity of my husband booking a tech conference for that particular reason should have been all the definitive proof I needed, but it wasn't. I could have completely spoiled it by simply looking at Chris' email on the tablet, but I wasn't going to do that. When my suspicions grew, I resigned to be surprised. I was still afraid that if I said anything, I would find out it was all in my head--wishful thinking--and that in fact, we were headed to Boston.

On the way to the airport, I was driving separately from Chris and Jonah as we were dropping my car off to have the timing belt replaced while we were out of town. Chris said Jonah suddenly piped up with, "mommy knows about Brandy." At which Chris' heart jumped into his throat as he asked, "what does mommy know about Brandy?" "That she's the tickle monster." I'm sure there was an audible sigh of relief. Jonah went on to say, "we should go visit Brandy some time." Chris said, "can you keep a secret, Jonah? We're actually going to see Brandy right now as a surprise to mommy." *in a verge-of-tears tone* "But I want to go to Boston! We can visit Brandy tomorrow." Poor kid, but he was easily persuaded to get on board with the plan.

When we arrived at the airport and checked in, my suspicions were confirmed as the lady checking our bags said, "going to San Francisco?" in confirmation of our travel plans. Chris shot me a side eye and said, "happy birthday" and I answered with a quiet "I knew it."

The trip out was mostly uneventful, except for a 45 minute delay on the runway in Chicago. I swear, every single time I fly through Chicago, the weather is freaking awful! We finally got into SFO at about 1:15am Pacific time (meaning that Jonah was now up past 4am Central time by the time we got him in bed that night/morning, although he did sleep most of the second leg of the flight). We chatted with Brandy and Michael for a bit, then everyone was unable to keep their eyes open much longer and we all turned in for the night.

We got up late and had lunch at Gracie's Family Barbecue. Then we took Jonah to a neat park with a huge slide and peacocks roaming the grounds. He had lots of fun, even when some teenagers parked themselves at the top of the slide and tried to scare all the younger ones. Jonah just said they were silly and went anyway. Way to go, fearless. We fed him some pizza for dinner and took him over to some friends of Brandy who had a little girl a bit older than Jonah for him to play with for the evening while we went to Japantown to get some sushi and then to the Filmore to a Yonder Mountain String Band show where I stood enjoying the music (though feeling spoiled by the number of truly fantastic sound techs in Nashville and weirded out by the fact that the last time I saw YMSB was on a tiny stage in a dive bar in Nashville and here they were at the Filmore with Intellibeam lights and stuff) and contemplating life, the universe and everything. Good times. :)

Sunday was an awesome lazy Easter. We got up and Brandy made a yummy breakfast of biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs. We colored Easter eggs and hid some for Jonah, then made deviled eggs out of them for dinner. Also for dinner, she made an awesome pork tenderloin with a peppercorn crust and an soy sauce/sesame oil marinade which she then turned into sort of a gravy, horseradish potatoes au gratin and steamed broccoli, then from scratch banana pudding for dessert. Another of her friends with a little girl came over for dinner, but Jonah wasn't as nice this time while playing. He chased her and pulled her hair. Honestly, I think he was flirting and that's the first time we've had to deal with that. When I questioned him about why he was being mean, he said because he liked her. Awwww... but NO! He learned the importance of an apology that night even if I had to force it out of him.

Monday, Brandy woke up sick. Boo-urns! For her especially. :/ Eventually, Chris and I decided that perhaps getting out of the house so she could rest and feel better and not feel guilty about us being there was probably the best option. We borrowed their rental car and went up to Santa Rosa to Russian River Brewery, but only after stopping off at an In & Out Burger on the way. We'd never been to one, but we did our research on the unlisted menu and ordered what we thought would be good. It was okay. Definitely no Fat Mo's. Maybe not even a Five Guys. But I'm glad I tried it! It's just something you have to do. Next I guess I have to ride a streetcar. Then we proceeded on to Santa Rosa and spent way too much money on beer, coming home with a full case to attempt to check in a wine shipper on the return flight the next day (which worked beautifully, by the way. Thank you Southwest for the 2 free checked bags!)

Tuesday, my 30th birthday, we got up early and rode in with Brandy on her morning commute to work on the ferry. She accompanied us to the BART and went on her way to work as we headed to SFO to head home. Luckily, nothing got delayed. We watched the weather with great anxiety and sure enough, we flew straight through that storm that turned into devastation for the Southeast when it was probably around Arkansas, if I had to guess. When we landed, we had a couple of hours before the first thunderstorms would hit Nashville. On the flight to LAX from SFO, apparently Owen Wilson's brother was aboard, according to the flight attendants who were fawning over him. I have no idea who he is or what he looks like though, even though I looked straight at him when I took Jonah to the bathroom as he was back there talking to them. *shrug*

We had a lot of fun and it was beyond fantastic to spend Easter and my birthday weekend with Brandy instead of stuck in a city I've never really thought about visiting while Chris was at a tech conference. :) Not that I wouldn't have found awesome things to do in Boston, but it just wasn't exactly my first choice of how to spend my 30th birthday. Also, having to buy Jonah a seat is totally worth having a row of seats to ourselves.

I'm still not considering my birthday done. I mean, it is, but there are still some things I want to do in celebration. For one, I want to finish the tattoo that I started when I was 18 (it's been an outline for 12 years). Two, I'd like to go skydiving (random, I know, but there it is). Three, I still want to do my Mad Tea Party, but I might wait until next year. Spring seems like the time to do it, really and this spring might as well be spent. I could totally pull a Disney and celebrate my birthday all year. ;)
mellymell: (Default)
We had a day of reprieve from the time that we got back from our trip to the time that Chris' parents called saying they had no power in Huntsville and wanted to come stay with us until they could get power again. Six days later, they went home (yesterday) to find they finally had power again. As far as I know, no one I know personally has lost their homes or worse in this round of storms. I think everyone has checked in at this point and I feel very lucky to not have lost anyone down there.

From 12:30pm yesterday when they left to right now, I have not turned the TV on at all. If I ever hear the voice of another news anchor, it'll be too soon. There were times the first day or so when my mother-in-law was watching the royal wedding coverage and my father-in-law had tornado coverage cranked up so loud on his laptop that I'm certain his speakers were blown, I would retreat into my bedroom with my nook and shut out the world.

The wedding was lovely, even though I'm really not into the celebrity of it all. I could have watched just the wedding without commentary or analysis and been perfectly content. Kate's dress was simply stunning! And the huge trees in the abbey were gorgeous. The departure in an Aston Martin a fun touch. They seem truly happy together. But all the gossip and speculation and such was too much for me to handle. So irritating! There was a point that evening when a story about Syria came on and then they were about to play a statement from Gaddafi in Lybia after his son and grandchildren were killed in a NATO airstrike and I really wanted to hear it. But she changed it to wedding coverage that she had already seen earlier in the day. At that point, I got up and left the room to busy myself elsewhere.

And on the 5th day of their stay, came the news of Osama bin Laden's death, which they also didn't watch much of, favoring more storm coverage instead. I get that completely. They were trying to figure out when they could go home and what sort of things they could expect when they got back and got power again. It's locally important news that affects their immediate area. I totally get that. But not even a mention of it really? This is a hugely symbolic thing that's happened, even if it doesn't change much in the war on terror, and not even much more than a "oh, this happened" nod of acknowledgement? That, I don't get. Don't get me wrong, I love my in-laws, I really do. But a 6 day stay with nearly anyone is a bit much, especially when you're coming off a trip and not exactly prepared for house guests.

My initial reaction to the the news as I lay in bed Sunday night when it broke was something like "ding dong the witch is dead." But then I saw people taking to the streets, getting drunk and chanting "U-S-A" like we just won the World Cup or something. Yeah, not our country's proudest moment in my opinion. That feeling of relief quickly became a feeling of anxiety that the hundreds of radical followers he left behind will watch this and become empowered with renewed hatred against us. I'm not saying a more solemn response wouldn't have empowered their rage either. For their own reasons, they hate us and our reaction to killing their leader isn't going to change that. I'm also not saying people don't have a right to celebrate if that's how they feel about it. By all means, this is a process of grief and everyone handles it differently and everyone NEEDS that freedom to express their grief and their closure however they need to. So I'm not going to go around shaming anyone for joining in with those celebrations. But I will sit here and feel my anxiety. That's mine and I'll own it, just like anyone out there celebrating will own that. For me, I had some moments of quiet reflection (as quiet as I could get in a crowded house) on the massive loss our country suffered nearly 10 years ago and sent hope out into the world that the victims and their families could find some peace now that justice had been done upon their attacker.

And I do feel this was justice. He needed to die. That's the way of it. I feel no tinge of guilt for being glad that he's gone, out of this world, never to hurt another. Will 10 more rise in his place over time? Of course. This solves nothing and stops no wars on terrorism. But he is gone, shot in the head for what he did to thousands of people and never able to hurt another. Some have said they wished it could have gone differently so that he wasn't viewed a martyr. Shot down like a rat hiding in his nest doesn't seem very martyr-like to me, but his followers would likely spin any demise in that direction, so I don't think it matters how he met his end. Capture would have only spelled exponentially more trouble for all involved. He needed to die and he needed to die quickly. And fantastic call on not bombing the compound there, Obama! I'm so glad our forces pulled the triggers that took him down. Not a drone, not a bomb, but our people. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all our service men and women who have and continue to sacrifice for our safety and freedom.

And that's the end of that chapter. *tosses end of scarf over shoulder*
mellymell: (Default)
Chris and I have been rocking out the outdoor projects for the past couple of months. We built a short fence out of cedar (which smells just like pencil shavings) around our A/C units with a gate so we could access the water faucet back there but also dampen some of the noise from the machines. It seems to work on both counts and gives us a little hidden storage and a nice clean look there. It also makes our patio seem a little more enclosed and private and so we've been contemplating not building a deck on top of it but rather tiling over the concrete (because I've seen it done and it looks super easy) and maybe later installing French doors in place of the dining room windows and building a covered deck over there. Regardless, we have got to rebuild our back steps ASAP. They're rotting and falling apart and they were a hazard even when they were brand new because of the odd angle at which they were built, so that needs to be fixed.

In building that little fence (by the way, we feel like total experts on fence construction now), we had to move the ornamental grasses that were there in front of the A/C units before and after much contemplation and consideration, I decided to create a new garden there that would envelope the little Japanese maple we had planted out from there before. I rearranged the grasses so they curved around creating a backdrop for the maple and I really like how it turned out. It needs more plants, but for now, it looks great! We finished it off with some mulch this past weekend while Chris' parents were here to keep Jonah entertained. I have a strong desire to plant some hardy ornamental banana trees there.

Also, on Saturday, we mulched and weeded the garden that's under the dining room windows and now borders the new A/C fence and this new garden. I need to get some summer annuals in there pronto, but it looks good for now, as the gladioli and cannas have risen and are thriving in all this rain (as is everything else). Just before dusk, we managed to get two flats of veggies and herbs planted into our now six 4'x4' plots for such. We went to Flowers Nursery out Briley this time (they've supplied All Seasons with their heirloom tomato plants in years past). They sell all their stuff in 4 packs of plants, so we wound up with 8 types of tomatoes, 8 types of peppers (though we missed a habanero and will need to remedy that), 2 types of eggplant, 1 each of zucchini, straight neck yellow squash and cucumbers. We planted the 4 packs little clusters that we'll sort of grow as one plant. I've never tried anything like this before, so we'll see how they do. It sure was much cheaper!

We picked up basil, tarragon and dill to put in our herb bed along side the peppermint, chocolate mint, thyme, oregano, parsley and sage we had there last year. Last year's basil plants turned into a huge shrub that crowded out our blueberry bushes. We'll see if these do as well.

Apart from all that, about a month ago I planted seeds in rows for 4 types of lettuces (a romaine, a bibb, and two types of leaf lettuce), a mix of 3 types of baby cabbages (red, green and savoy), a baby bok choy, cilantro (yes, a whole row of it) and green onions. I'm going to try to do successive plantings of those until it gets too hot for them to thrive.

We didn't get around to moving our raspberries, so I'm just going to have to be vigilant about keeping them contained. They really need their own space. They triple in size every year. I'd also like to start an asparagus bed.

Also, have I mentioned how much I absolutely love our garden shed!? We picked it up the weekend Chris bought his truck and got it all set up and stocked and I just totally love having it there. Again, it's really provided great storage in a tidy package, just like the fence around the A/C units. I sure hope I have before pictures of our yard when we bought this house somewhere. There was seriously no landscaping done when we first bought the place. We now have 7 gardens and we've planted 6 trees, 6 crepe myrtles and 15 shrubs, not counting the ones we've lost or the blueberries and raspberries.

I absolutely love this time of year. All the leaves are in, the growth is exponential with each rain and everything is still lush and new before the summer heat and drought comes.


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