Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Finally - Some Snow

I was out early yesterday, and as I was coming home a few bits of snow/sleet/teeny hail started to come down. In the < 2 mile drive, I saw it turn to rain, and then as I came closer to our house, it turned to big puffballs of snow. I quickly stopped the car, rolled down the window and took this shot. Yes, by the time I then drove another two blocks it had blown over. No more snow.


But then I went back out again. I felt as if I was driving through several climate zones as the stuff falling from the sky kept switching back and forth. By the time I was driving home a couple of hours later, real snow had fallen but my car had been warm enough that it all melted. The drive home was beautiful though. Clean roads since the temperature was still closer to the 40s but the sky and air was filled with snow.  There was no sign of this snow by the time I reached my own house, and later in the day every trace was gone and the sun was shining. That's just how it usually is in Maryland.  I'm glad I didn't sleep through it!

Monday, December 24, 2012

AAM Monday - Christmas Eve, Without Fish

Sadly, no one over here in VA, or in MD for that matter, is seriously Italian and inviting me to the Christmas eve La Viglia - the Feast of Seven Fishes.  I don't always enjoy cooking in someone else's kitchen either, and so I had Ledo pizza for lunch. It's Italian, isn't it???? and vegetarian for a day of abstinence.  Having a rather late lunch, I only had an avocado salad for dinner. A small salad while I watched more Lightroom tutorial videos.



All of that was part of my day's activity - enjoying some of the multi-ethnic bounty of Northern Virginia.

From Lebanese Taverna - Garlic spread, Avocado salad, and Taboulleh

From Heidelberg Bakery - a Dresden Stollen for tomorrow's breakfast

From Mama Lavash - a packet of sorely needed Zaatar

and finally

From Trader Jo's  - Belgian chocolate to go with the wonderful pears left for my by my daughter in law.


Life can be very delicious in Northern Virginia even without dinner invitations.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Silent Sunday

I have often thought about taking a silent retreat again. I did this about 13 years ago when I was out in New Mexico for a conference. A workmate and I visited Christ in the Desert Monastery afterwards but only I had the time to stay for a couple of days after she flew back east. It was a wonderful time being out in silence by myself, eventually. The sky was clear and the rare sound was a plane flying overhead. The first day was hard to start but I had brought a bag of Easter peanut M&Ms. No doubt sugar works as a way to numb unpleasant feelings! I got into the rhythm soon after that and felt the calm and the peace. I really didn't want to leave when it was time to fly home to my 'normal' life.


Periodically, I come to Virginia to dog-sit for my family. It's just me and an old, mainly silent dog. He is a faithful companion and does not ask for or need much. It's all about me time and how I want to use it. I've learned to bring less food, to bring fewer books to read, and to have fewer plans of things I want to do while on the this side of the Potomac. I've learned to take time, during these days, to just listen to the silence. At home, I can hear the rustle of traffic through the bamboo leaves and it sound like waves on the beach to me. Here in Virginia, I can  hear the traffic of a major road and the Metro cars but it becomes a rhythmic background sound. I don't have to get caught in the bustle of all that outside my yard unless I want to.

Friday, I needed to get a lens from my glasses put back in. My husband had fixed them once but used glue to secure the screw and sadly that eliminated the ability to put a new screw in. My clerk tried to find the same frame but couldn't. I sat and waited for about 30 minutes, restless at first while she had to deal with a serious paying customer, and then watching the drama of other peoples' lives as they picked frames, talked about this style or that and remained unsure for a long time about just which frame they really wanted. I let go of my need to have my glasses issue resolved and just enjoyed watching life. In the end, the same frame in a slightly different color was found and my old lenses went into a new frame.  My issue resolved in silence.

So will each day here be silent? probably not. A mixture of things I want to do - like watch some Lightroom videos to give myself a basis of understanding before I start to use it, reading a book or two, watching some Swedish Wallander films on Netflix and eventually buying one or two things that aren't available in MD such as the wonderful Lebanese garlic spread I love - but balanced with time set aside in silence to... just... be.  I love these weeks alone especially as I continue to learn how to use them wisely. Oh, I also think it's going to be a stay in the jammies day!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Flashback Friday: Baltimore, hon

Back in 2000, my husband-to-be and I looked at many house in Baltimore. We wanted a rental but we also wanted one we might be interested in living in...some day. On a beautiful December day, we looked and looked all over the Canton area. Nothing we wanted but there was the iconic Sip&Bite, still there...still feeding all sorts. So where did we have dinner that beautiful cold evening??? You got it, hon.

Sip&Bite
If you want diner food and diner atmosphere, this is the place for you. Some Greek touches, but still the basics since 1948.  24hrs a day, but just not Tuesday.

5 Fact Friday - December 21, 2012

This meme comes from



Well here we are again. Alive...still, and able to blog. So what are my facts? Rather limited since it's just me and an ancient dog who likes to spend his days sleeping.

1. I am spending a week dog sitting over in Virginia. With short days, and last minute Christmas shoppers out and about on the already overcrowded roads, I plan to vegetate for the most part. The dog is my role model.

2. One lens fell out of my glasses yesterday and I do not have my dh & his collection of eyeglass screws to fix the frame. Thus I may end up on those roads. Directions call for making a U-turn near the Pentagon! bwahahaha! As if I'd like to try this and live.

3. There is a live Christmas tree in this house which is something I don't have at home. It smells wonderful and the needles are not my responsibility. Woohoo!

4. This tree has a funnel in the branches for watering! Who knew? My son apparently knew.

5. I am repeatedly wearing out the battery life on the electronic iToys I brought with me. Use and charge; use and charge; repeat; repeat. I miss my iMac which is so a first world woe, isn't it...

That's all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend! and do check out the other bloggers on that link at the top of this post.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

You Have 24 hrs...Maybe

My husband warned me as I was packing to go to VA for my dog sitting week. He said "don't bother to take much..." I believe it was a NOOA/NASA friend who sent this to him. Now you too have been warned.



So... maybe a Merry Christmas ahead, maybe toast with the Zombies... If I'm not dead, I'll see you here tomorrow since no one told me where the safe houses are. The you-know-who is just up the road, so maybe I'll check with them!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Travel with Me Tuesday - Amsterdam Day

I changed the name of the Tuesday post to reflect what it really is, a post about my travel. It will also help me remember what happened when. Trust me I need that help! I used to have my other blog but it just didn't work out to blog while traveling. Other people manage but I never had a great net connection, so it's after the trip for me!

After a good night's sleep on the boat, we woke up to our greeting from Vantage.


Vantage

After our breakfast, we assembled out on the sidewalk to sort ourselves out by color. We would do this a LOT, and we were the orange group. Each bus was colored coded and I never really saw anyone get lost.

lots of riverboats ready to sail

The weather was uncertain so we started off with the standard advice of layers, layers, layers. Our bus drove through the city of Amsterdam but as it was a Sunday, very little was open. I was sorry not to be able to go here...

The Beehive

I had last been in The Beehive department store in ...1972. I don't plan to be alive 40 years hence so I imagine my shopping there is now history.

the flash of a cyclist
We drove over many a canal but it became a bit of a mental blur to me after a bit. We were headed to the Rijksmuseum. Again, I had first been there in 1972, but had gone back several times over the years. On my first visit, Rembrandt's Night Watch had a place of honor but it wasn't what "I" wanted to see. My great love is the Vermeers.

winterlandschap
After these gentlemen moved, I too stood and studied another of my favorites. We had a guide in the museum, but a lot of time was spent on paintings that really didn't interest me. I knew what I wanted to see and headed off on my own. Those layers of clothing were also making me feel as if I was in a hothouse. Finally we finished, and it was outside to wait for out bus.

intrepid travelers
The fresh air felt wonderful, and I only put all my layers back on so I didn't have to carry them! On to the bus which would take us to our canal boat.

still no real rain
The canal boat ride could have been very nice but with a boatload of breathing passengers, the windows immediately fogged up in the mild but drizzly weather. In any case, it was to be our last few hours in Amsterdam, and there would be no more time to explore anything here. Back to our river boat and a full lunch. It was one of the few days I was glad for a nap.

Finally we left Amsterdam, and started our cruise towards the Rhine. A chance to walk on the top deck and breath in the air ... Little did we know that our time on 'the top' would be hampered by the many many locks we were to go through.
Dutch fields
Goodbye Netherlands. The next day we would wake in Germany.



Monday, December 17, 2012

AAM Monday-Winding Down the Year

I have been surprised that I have not had much trouble keeping up with my 365/Project Life scrapbooking. Now that we are in the last few weeks, I have been thinking and wondering if I'll do this again next year. Do I want to? My feeling is actually pretty neutral about it. I enjoy it but it's a lot of expense for ...??? I'll have to ponder that over the next weeks as I have alone time while I'm dog sitting.

But here is week 50...a week spent doing things that weren't totally Christmasy but with family time, it felt like Christmas - finally.


I hope your spirit is feeling some joy and peace, despite the recent events that make us question our country and our humanity. I still feel hope and...joy. Do you?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sweet Sunday

I have been thinking about making this for a couple of years. Somehow, this is the year it happened. I had to get the man out of the house first, but then I made it. I made it as well as two meatloaves for him. He is one lucky man!


It helped a lot that I really really dislike peppermint. Thus, the cook was spared a lot of sampling. Yes, there is more dark chocolate than white chocolate. Those white chocolate bags weighed less. btw, didn't chocolate chips used to come in 16oz bags???

Friday, December 14, 2012

5 Fact Friday: December 14, 2012

This meme comes from



Fact 1. This year I am not doing a December Daily. Somehow, after the trip this fall, I really had no incentive to do it. I am enjoying looking at everyone else's, and may even get the 'gitupandgo' to do a few digital memory ones myself. The 'gitupandgo' means looking through old photo albums and scanning the photos. I suspect that may not happen.

December 14
back in 2010

Fact 2. I managed not to gain any weight on the trip despite the prodigious amounts of eating we did. I even had dessert twice a day usually! My doctor was pleased with me, and so was I.

Fact 3. While I love my new external hard drive that is working as my backup, the flashing white light when it's 'working' is really annoying. At least it's not a blue light.

Fact 4. My husband had a torn retina years ago. I called it his 'exploding eyeball'. Now a friend of mine also tore hers.  What I mean is that she had a torn retina, and the description of the surgery made me want to put my head under the covers and block the idea out.

Fact 5. I left one pair of black shoes on the ship because I was done with them, but I also left another black pair that was supposed to go in my carry on bag. I no longer have a good daily black pair and I really don't feel like fighting the Christmas crowds to get a new pair.  Thus I expect to wear tan Clarks until mid January.

wearing Christmas socks though!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Are We Still Here???

Ok, I wrote this blog post on the final day of life, of earth's existence or whatever it was supposed to be. If you're reading it, I guess we're still here. December 13th has arrived. I presume I, too, am still here...

But let me tell you about the fruit lately. What is going on with it?? Usually, come winter I can count on the great clementines and navel oranges. That's the fruit to me that says Winter! Even better are little satusumas but I can rarely find them any more. Or if I do, I have to consider ....Do I really want them at this price? The price that sends me over the edge is when a satsuma is priced individually. I mean I eat 3 or 4 of these babies at a time!

But so far, the citrus fruit I've bought this year has been ...meh. Already slightly dry and just...not...very good. Oh well, I only have two more little crates of clementines to go through. Sigh.

So the sad citrus saga takes me to the fruit many love but I think of as the vegetable of fruits. Apples. Yes, they can be great, and I grew up with ones that DID taste good but still...They have always been, for me, the fruits you eat because they're there. You need fruit and apples are there. Eat one. Ok, check that off the list for today. Apples are the filler between the wonderful peach season and the winter citrus season. Apples. Bleh.

This year, however, my dh bought some apples that really were good. I like them refrigerator chilled and I really enjoyed them. Then they were gone, and of course, he had 1. no idea what they were and 2. no idea where he bought them. Typical. Typical. Typical.  So after the citrus disappointment which is going on as long as I have those insipid little orange reminders of what-wasn't-to-be, I succombed t apples. A bag of beautiful red apples. Not Red Delicious which is no longer delicious but a variety whose name I have forgotten. (I've lived too long with The Man.)


Pretty apples? oh yes.
I have to say they look beautiful in the blue and white bowl, but somehow I feared that they were Beauties w/o Substance.

still hoping for a great taste

aaaargh

Dear God was I right! I cut one, and there was still promise. But then I saw the red color had bled into the white flesh!! Bled??? RED DYE 1? 2? 73? Ok, possible red dye be damned, what about the taste?? Arrgh, that wretched texture of slightly mealy. Not crisp, not tangy, just bland and mealy.

sadly not the answer

To endure such apples, I often resort to a dab of peanut butter on each slice.  Nope...it almost ruined the taste of the peanut butter.

And so...I have a bag of red beauties. Tasteless beauties.  Perhaps the Paris Hilton variety... Well, do I keep them as table decorations instead of flowers? or do I cook them into applesauce which I don't care for and don't eat? Will they even be good for adding to onions for pork? What is the answer! The big question is...how long is it til peach season???


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Travel - Arrival in Amsterdam

Once we landed at Heathrow, we had a bit of time before our flight on to Amsterdam. I always like both airports despite the bad reputation Heathrow has had. Terminal 5 is modern and has lots of wonderful distractions when you have some time to kill. Like a Harrods shop...

Harrods and other shops - easy way to pass the time

It was quite a bus ride from Terminal 5 onto our departure terminal for an intercity flight. Perhaps one day that will be improved. But Schipol is always welcoming.

love that spark of red

Amsterdam was overcast and grey but still there is that spark of humor under the surface. Our Vantage host were ready to meet us and escort us to our waiting bus.

Ivana, one of our Vantage guides
I had been to Amsterdam many times, but he had not. I was approaching the city of Amsterdam from the harbor location which was a totally different side for me.

nooduitgang - emergency exit



We arrive at our boat.

Onto our river cruise boat and some free time. As soon as we deposited our luggage in our cabin, we headed out for a walk. There were many places that looked very modern and many that looked very very old but with the threat of an impending downpour, we didn't walk too much.

bicycle parking lot

nightfall is coming


I check my camera, er phone..
we have a laugh at this shop
 
We would be having a tour of the city the next day, so after about an hour getting our legs moving again, we headed back to the boat. Time for dinner and the first of many many meals on this trip!

stairs we would climb a LOT

Monday, December 10, 2012

AAM Monday -Them Bones, Them Bones

Well this Monday is starting off with a visit to the Doctor. I go quarterly to have the results of my bloodwork read. I can't say my diet has been that good over the past four months, nor has there been any exercise. Once my torn Achilles tendon healed, I was able to deal with my knee pain. That turned out to be a torn meniscus (what the heck was that I wondered?). It turns out to be the gel like substance that is between the bones in the knee.

these are younger legs than mine

Well mine is not between the bones, rather it has pushed out to the side and is torn in addition. Oh joy...This means I have bone hitting bone and sometimes that sure ain't fun. Cortisone shots have helped but the next option is knee surgery. I'm not anxious to go there but at the same time, while I am no great lover of exercise, I have to acknowledge I do feel better when I do exercise. Mostly when I'm done but I had come to the point of almost...almost...looking forward to it the mornings I went to the gym. You know the bennies...increased energy, a feeling of accomplishment, a steadying of the scale numbers, fewer food cravings. Sigh. I once had those but then even walking much started to hurt.

Well, today my doctor and I will have our periodic chat. She is one to say...Well, Maureen...do you think you could try x, y or z??? in a kind, Quaker type of voice. I mentally roll my eyes, and mostly say yes. I don't know what today will bring but I'll try to say yes.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Guess Where I'm Going!

I'm going to Venice with Mary Ann Moss! Yes, she's the one over at Dispatch From LA. SHE's going to Venice and taking some of her friends along. Well, kinda, sorta....

Mary Ann is a wonderful travel spirit and she has a new class called Ticket to Venice. I just bought my ticket so that's why there is that little image over there -----> See that image of the Venice Campanile? Yes, there!


This is how Venice looked back in December 2008 when we were there. The skies were dark, it rained like hell some days, but it was still magic. I think Venice would be magic, unless perhaps you go in July or August when Venice truly is in danger of sinking from the influx of tourists. I'm seriously looking forward to this trip to Venice especially as I'll be home and dry as I travel with Mary Ann! 

Come join us!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

On a Cold December Morn

original by Kim Klassen




Listening to a lot of Christmas music lately, I have heard one carol that talks of ...on a cold December morn. That phrase has stuck with me and when Kim Klassen sent the basic photo of her Manitoba fields to us, I wanted to play with it. Several textures, a mask, text and a frame, and I'm happy with it.

I suspect it could have looked just the same way...long long ago.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Flashback Friday: Watch those Cookies!

With all the Christmas and holiday goodies about, beware...None of us wants to look like this little chublette.  I don't think the dress style would suit most of us either.

Graphic Fairy image

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Girl's got backup!

After the sudden death of my backup external hard drive, I'm back in business. That's a damn good feeling.
yes, happy me still in my jammies

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Travel with Me on Tuesday

With my photos resized to be small enough for Blogger, I'll be doing another idea for Tuesdays. I used to have another blog for travel, thinking I could blog as I travel and have my own record when I got home. The idea was great but the upload service abroad, and even in 4star hotels stateside, was not good enough. I had too many times when the service crashed mid upload. Sadly, I had to put the idea of blogging on the road aside.

I then turned to scrapping the images when I got home. Mostly ok if I did it soon enough and had enough documentation to remember what some of the photos meant.  Sometimes they didn't 'mean' anything; it was just a case of so many wonderful things to see.

So today, I'm starting my recent river cruise down the Rhine, Main and Danube. First, let me say, there were a hell of a lot of locks. Yes, marvels I'm sure, but I have seen enough to last several lifetimes, thank you very much. But I digress...

This trip was close to a last minute decision because he wanted to go somewhere. It was a good test of a river cruise also, letting us know if we liked that style of travel or not. So on November 1st we headed out to BWI for a British Air flight to Heathrow.


It was great flying out of this end of the airport, where it was quiet and peaceful. The BA counter attendants even gave out some leftover Halloween candy. The only other flight was going to Ramstein AFB. Sadly, I knew where the next stop would be after Germany for a lot of those troops.



The soldiers' flight departed and I said a prayer for them as they head off to a war zone. I wondered how many of them were going back for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time. It lent a bit of a somber note to the start of the trip for me.

But then we found ourselves amongst 40 teenage British girls going back home to Oxford. What a change of atmosphere! They were spending the last bits of US money and comparing purchases, reading magazines, and snacking. I noticed that their voices were not as high as so many American girls. We had to laugh at the two men, chaperoning? this flock. They really did look worn out.


The blond on the left reminded us so much of my granddaughter. The hair, the glasses...it was like seeing her about 5 years older!

And then out flight was called....

Monday, December 3, 2012

AAM Monday - Working With It

I am always hoping to get some nice photos from the AZ family of our grandchildren but they are sparse. Mostly our grandson looks like he is 'not quite stable' as we used to say, but once in a while there's a gem. I suspect he is rewarded with a lot of laughing when he pulls those weird faces. Even our little granddaughter usually has images that will not overjoy her in the future years.  But there was a challenge on line last night, and I figured I could make this one work. It had potential!




Saturday, December 1, 2012

Catching Up with Project Life

My dh and I are back to coughing and feeling a bit of a relapse of whatever it was/is we have. I think we both did too much too soon. That may be why some of my Christmas decorations are still downstairs waiting to go up ...or back to the attic for another year. Fortunately, there are only a few things about but enough to make the house look untidy.

Thus this page is sadly still appropriate.



I do hope you're feeling better than we are and that your December starts of with peace and calm. A month to celebrate all the joy in our lives.

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