melaniesuzanne: (Memphis - Hernando de Soto bridge)
I'm a-leavin' on a jet plane (puddle-jumper, actually) for the wilds of Alabama and Arkansas and not-so-wilds of Tennessee for an extended weekend visit to my hometown of Hughes, Arkansas. It seems that the student body of the school district is so small that the district is being consolidated with Forrest City -- a community about thirty miles away -- and some of the locals began plotting an All Years' Reunion for the alumni of Hughes High School before the closing of our alma mater. While I didn't graduate from HHS due to our move to Germantown, TN, I did attend the school from kindergarten through ninth grade. Add to that, my church is celebrating its centennial. The congregation decided that they would take advantage of the influx of former residents and host a special service and luncheon to commemorate the occasion.

Well. Besides my yearly trip to visit my father and his family who live an hour or so north of my hometown, the only other reasons for going to Hughes have been funerals. While it's sad that the school is being shut down, a reunion will be a fun event and the centennial celebration even more so. How could I resist?

The RSVP list was posted this week and I'm positively giddy about who will be attending! Old school chums, my sixth grade teacher (whom I adored), my algebra teacher (who was a terror, but we respected and learned SO MUCH from her; also? she was my father's, his brothers', and his sisters' algebra teacher as well), a whole mess of my besties, so many of my folks' besties, and my dad, uncle, and aunt. Not that I necessarily needed it, but this will be a lovely closure of my childhood.

Also? I get to spend several days with Mom and Pete at the lake house. Yay!
melaniesuzanne: (Me at SPWF2014 (by John T Riley))
November: After the frenetic pace of October, November seemed downright sedate. I wore my suffragist sash to my polling place on election day, but people were much more interested in my purple hair. Le sigh. My Aussie aunt came to town and I got spend about an hour visiting with her just before she headed down south to meet back up with Mom and Pete.

Things really picked up towards the end of the month, though. In one Saturday, I spent the afternoon playing DnD then raced over to Manassas to stroll through the Festival of Lights with [ profile] pirategirleee and then raced over to Springfield with the beau for a friend's birthday party at a trampoline place. That Festival of Lights stroll was called the Snowflake Stampede and was a fairly lovely way to spend an hour or so in the frigid air. PG and I didn't run -- which should be obvious with my repeated use of the word "stroll" -- and geeked about Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Adventure Time, and cosplay while taking in the gorgeous light display. The trampoline adventure, on the other hand, was quite the workout and I had the unfortunate discovery that I have an old lady bladder or something very close to it. Nearly every time I bounced, there was a little TMI. ) A good time was had by most until the beau turned his ankle when he landed badly on the trampoline basketball court. Poor dear.

I got tired of the upkeep of purple hair and went back to blonde with an unfortunate turn of green hair for a day or two. I'd accidentally grabbed a box of ash blonde color and all that greenish-blue base on top of the purple went mossy. UGH. I mean, it might work on some folks, but completely clashed with my coloring. A warm, golden blonde box brought my hair back to normalcy.

Thanksgiving was a quiet evening with the beau's folks and some family friends. Dinner was delicious and we capped off the evening with a rousing game of Ticket to Ride. I didn't mean to stomp everybody into the ground, but I got some lucky breaks with my railroad baron skills.

The weekend after Thanksgiving was the perfect time to get folks together for some physical activity and I chose LASER TAG. Oh my goodness! It was my first time playing and it was SO MUCH FUN. Actually, everybody had a blast, if you'll pardon me, and couldn't wait to do it again.

I closed out the month by decorating for Christmas because, in my world, one is allowed to pull out the Christmas stuff AFTER one has celebrated Thanksgiving.

Aunt Jan 11-2014

snowflake stampede


melaniesuzanne: (Me at SPWF2014 (by John T Riley))

April: IT FINALLY STOPPED SNOWING! Praise Jesus, God, Buddha, Allah, Steve the Galactic Fruitbat, and His Noodlyness combined.

Saw Lewis Black with the beau in D.C. We laughed until we cried and then took a moonlit stroll under the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin. Tres romantique. Was introduced to Bon Chon Chicken and OMG YUM. (And now I've given myself a craving for their soy garlic potstickers.)

I strolled with friends in pseudo-Victorian finery at the US Botantic Gardens and was accosted by a photo-seeking Harry Potter.
    victorian with HP
[ profile] pirategirleee and I attended AwesomeCon in DC and I debuted my very first cosplay: Fionna the Human. We had a blast wandering the vendor floor, seeing great cosplays, and meeting Maurice LaMarche (who signed my "Pinky and the Brain" DVD set) and Rob Paulsen (whose autograph line closed before I could get his signature). We saw Billie Piper and Cary Elwes from a LOOOONG way off and I walked by Sean Astin and PG saw Lou Ferrigno pass us. So many people wanted pictures with me, but my absolute favorite photo request was from a tiny Princess Bubblegum who tugged on my backpack to get my attention.

I because a fully-fledged divorcee on the 21st. Whoo hoo!
May: STEAMPUNK WORLD'S FAIR, y'all. OMG, that was so much fun. I devoted an an entire entry to that event.

Went to the beach with my best girls for Memorial Day Weekend. Our condo was in this bizarre wooden building covered with staircases and was five or six stories tall, but the condos were at all different levels, so you couldn't really tell. We called it Hogsmeade-upon-the-sea.
    hogsmeade on the beach
While on the Outer Banks, I ticked an entry off my post-weight loss bucket list: hang-gliding! That was EXHILARATING! I whooped and hollered and laughed my fool head off. Bonus: I stuck all my landings.

On the last weekend of May, the beau and I joined several thousand of our closest friends to ride around DC in the New Belgium Brewing Tour de Fat around Yards Park. After riding our bikes around the Navy Yard and Capitol Hill areas, we chilled with pizza and beer. The beau even rode some of the experimental bikes like the one with sneakers on spokes for wheels. A good time was had by all.
June: Local photographer friends held a Cosplay Photography day at their gorgeous Victorian-era home in early June. The beau and I donned our Victorian finery and our Adventure Time duds for lots of hijinks and shenanigans. This experience confirmed my suspicions that I have a face for comedy, not drama. Ah well, that's better than having a face for radio.     flower
I attended a Verizon Women in Leadership conference in New Jersey and had the most miserable business travel experience of my entire life. Yes, I could've driven (I would have needed a rental car per company policy due to the distance), but on paper it looked like flying would be easier. Ha ha. Due to terrible weather, my 8pm flight was delayed for over four hours and then I got lost during what should have been a half-hour drive from the airport to the hotel because my phone chose to crap out. I got about three hours of sleep before the conference. Thank goodness the trip back to Dulles was smooth.

I had a surprise waiting for me when I got back to work: a promotion and raise to reflect my increased workload and responsibilities. WHOO HOO!

The beau's dad and stepmother live on one of Reston's lakes and we spent a peaceful evening cruising about and grilling steaks on their pontoon. This was the most time I'd spent with his folks and they are truly wonderful people.


Jul. 22nd, 2014 05:25 pm
melaniesuzanne: (Banjolele mouse)
How are you? I'm good, really good. My summer has been pretty full with a couple of business trips, ten days of vacation in the deep south with my family and friends, and miscellaneous weekend shenanigans.

Mom and Pete have moved in to the lake house (it's on a river, actually) full time and the changes they've made to the place since last summer are simply breath-taking. It was so nice having an actual dock to use for getting into and out of the boat. And relaxing with a book on the top deck of the dock under an umbrella was nearly heaven on earth. It wasn't all sunshine and roses, though: Mom came down with a terrible stomach bug which laid her low the first night I arrived. Pete caught it the next day and Aunt Trish the day after. I came down with the ick that evening. Luckily, it appeared to be of the 24-hour variety and I was back to nearly 100% by the time I needed to drive up to Memphis to see best friend, best friend's beau, and my dad. I even sneaked over to the Memphis house (which is on the market) for one last peek at my teenage-years home.

I got to see all of my siblings at the lake and Mom's brother and his girlfriend stopped in for a couple of days as they journeyed from Vicksburg, MS to Putnam Valley, NY. I believe that at one point we had twelve adults, three children, four dogs, and a cat in the house.

The weather was absolutely glorious with comfortably cool air temps -- especially for July! -- yet warm water temperature. We tubed and skied (I actually got up and skied for a little bit for the first time in probably 15 years) and drove the jetski (first time I'd ridden or driven the thing) and climbed up a 20 foot cliff to jump off a rock back into the water. We have no idea who put the rope there, but it seemed sturdy enough!

The trip was just the right amount of family time, and I can't wait to see everybody again at my aunt's cabin for Thanksgiving.


Sep. 4th, 2013 11:44 am
melaniesuzanne: (Mucha: The Seasons Spring)
Scott had movers come to the house Friday to take the larger pieces of furniture and boxes of books, etc to his new domicile. When I had work to do or a concall on which to participate, it was fine. When I needed to actually talk with Scott, I fought to keep from choking up. It's still weird to see missing bits of furniture, artwork, and books but I've started coming up with ideas how to rearrange furniture to revamp the spaces into my own and not trigger memories.

I spent the holiday weekend at my folks' house on the Tennessee River in Cherokee, Alabama. Mom and I worked on a puzzle, fixed a wind-chime, saw "The Butler", and enjoyed lots of quiet time on the swing. She also took me to a local outlet store where we found a BUNCH of cute clothes for me that she got me as an early birthday gift. The visit was good for clearing my head and filling up my weekender bag.

This weekend there will be a steampunk-themed croquet and picnic in the semi-local area. Some friends who are VERY into this particular scene have invited me along and I am looking forward to meeting new people. I found a blouse and skirt at Dress Barn which will not only work for the office but also harken to a kind of Gibson Girl sort of aesthetic. I also picked up some adorable boots at Target which will be perfect for both real life and play. I just need to figure out the accessories because it's aaaaall about the accessories for me.
melaniesuzanne: (Fireworks)
Five more hours and I am OUT OF THE OFFICE FOR WEEK! Yeah, doggies. Tonight, I'm getting a pedicure and then throwing some dirty clothes in the laundry and then packing my suitcase and not succeeding in going to be early. Tomorrow, Hubbyfink and I rising at the crack of dawn and hitting the road for Germantown, TN. WHOO HOO!

Can't wait to see Mom and the rest of the family. Can't wait to see [ profile] zipmeister, his beau, and their new house. Looking forward to seeing Daddy. And can't wait to see Mom and Pete's Alabama lakehouse. They've made so much progress since we saw it last year that I probably won't recognize it!

Sadly, we are leaving the bikes behind has 1) neither of us wants to strap them to the back of the Beetle [and I can't drive Hubbyfink's manual Golf which has the trailer hitch and bike rack] and 2) we're going to be in Memphis for only three days and will spend the rest of the week in Alabama where there's a mile and a half [or maybe more] of gravel road between the lake house and the paved road. Yes, you have to "turn off the paved road" to get to Mom's vacation home. Sorry, Zippy.

I'm wrapping up my projects and/or giving my teammates updates on and the locations of my planning documents in case something pops up next week. I've slashed and burned my inbox from 260 to 79 so that the server won't bounce my messages. I've turned off call-forwarding and set up my out of office notice. I've got one more conference call to coast through and I'll spend the rest of the afternoon bouncing in my seat like a kid on the last day of school.

I'm not excited AT ALL in case you couldn't tell.


Jun. 7th, 2013 10:14 am
melaniesuzanne: (Rat)
**Hubbyfink is recovering amazingly well after his surgery. As of today, it's been a full month since the tennis ball-size rock was removed from his head. He still fatigues easily and the deafness in his left ear is going to be permanent, but he is otherwise back to himself. He'll be home for another week and I'm trying to convince him to go back for half days when he starts back at work. He'll have to check with HR to see if that's allowed.

**The Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association went SO MUCH better than I'd expected. [ profile] carthew and I started our route about 90 minutes prior to the official start time so as to beat the forecast blistering temperature. We rode fairly slowly -- somewhere in the 9 mph range -- and took lots of water and rest breaks. That was good for me in that it reined me in and kept me from pushing so hard that I couldn't finish the ride. We rested for 45 minutes or so at the turn-around point and then rode even more slowly with more breaks on the ride from Vienna to Reston because that route is mostly uphill. I was so jazzed when we got to the finish that I danced around like a crazed weasel, cheering on other riders as they cruised down the finish line chute.

A few photos. )

Our little team raised nearly $2,047 (thus blowing away our $1,500 goal) for the American Diabetes Association. GO, HULA BEARS! And thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who donated to our cause.

**I have begun shrinking out of my shoes as [ profile] hannnahkl promised. Ack! I also have a humongous pile of clothes for donation in the craft room. HU-MON-GOUS. They're mostly 18s and 20s and 2XLs. I need to throw some of winter coats on that pile as well. I can't think of any body local who would need those sizes, but if you're local and COULD use some of those sizes, give me a holler and we'll set up a time for you to dig through my clothes. I'm going to put out a call on Facebook as well. This weekend will be for inventorying the clothing in preparation for donation.

**Related to the shoe- and clothing-shrinkage, I have officially hit the two-teens. Eeeee! I haven't been in the two-teens since early 1997. Seriously. I remember living in Annandale with Tansey and going to Weight Watchers because I'd hit 215. I am beyond thrilled. BEE-YOND.

**Today is the 6th birthday of my twin nieces: Anne and Emily. It's hard to believe that they're SIX! They're going to have a surprise Merida-themed birthday party tomorrow. I can't wait to see their faces. :)

**Last, but certainly not least: HAPPY FRIDAY!
melaniesuzanne: (Merry Ratmas!)
We had a beautiful Christmas. Christmas Eve gave us a dusting of snow, half of a workday, and a viewing of "The Hobbit". Scott and I even drove around looking at Christmas lights for a bit.

I woke early, for me, on Christmas morning and we set to discovering what fun and unexpected gifts lay wrapped under the tree. Scott and I gave each other Lego sets: he received Lord of the Rings and I received The Hobbit. I also gave him the Lego Lord of the Rings video game. He spoiled me with a gift card to my favorite make-up store and a maid service. I love the former and am SO EXCITED about the latter. I think it was back in October that I told him the only thing I wanted for Christmas was a cleaning service because I HATE cleaning the bathroom and dusting. He really came through.

I baked our usual Christmas breakfast of gooey and drippy cinnamon rolls and we then Skyped with my family as they opened their gifts. It was complete pandemonium in Mom and Pete's living room and it was gorgeous. We then drove up to Annapolis for Christmas dinner with Scott's family. Sometimes that feels like an obligation, but yesterday's visit was a LOT of fun. Our nephew is seven and the twin nieces are five which, I think, are fun ages. I played with giant pipe cleaners and dolls with the girls and Scott geeked Star Wars with the nephew. Conversations with the adults were enjoyable as well and the time flew by.

This morning, I awoke to a snow-covered world. The weather guessers forecast freezing rain and sleet which meant I'd planned on working from home yet again. Now I get to enjoy the white death from the safety and comfort of my own sofa with two kitties for warmth. Plus, Scott just got home because it was a quiet day at work and the roads were getting dicey.
melaniesuzanne: (Default)
Two weeks ago, I was the Dallas suburb of Richardson attending Juniper routing protocol training and meeting the Texas-based part of my work organization. The class itself was poorly taught, but my team mates and I -- who took a similar course this summer in Columbus -- caught on to more of the hows and whys during the lab practicals. The best part of the trip, by far, was the ability to schmooze face-to-face with people who I've known for years via email and conference calls. Oh, and since my Columbus team mates and I shared not only a hotel but also a rental car, I got to know Dennis and Ryan a lot better. There were a LOT of late nights: the final night in town was the first time we returned to our rooms before 11pm. There was a lot of drinking and a LOT of eating. Everything truly is bigger in Texas. We even caught an IMAX showing of "Skyfall" and it was fantastic.

I got home late on the 16th and wound up missing Holiday Faire on the 17th because I slept most of Saturday. Sunday and Monday were spent catching up on laundry and getting the house back into some semblance of shape before heading off to the outskirts of Murphy, NC, on Tuesday for the yearly family Thanksgiving reunion.

Hubbyfink must've bent space while I napped Tuesday morning because we made EXCELLENT time to Trisha's cabin. Our 10 hour drive took only 9.5, and that was with a 30 minute lunch break! I kept the speedo under 80 (most of the time) through the Smokies, so Hubbyfink must've been HAULING through the Shenandoah. Not only did we arrive at the cabin before dark, we arrived a full thirty minutes before the rest of my side of the family.

The days were cool and sunny while the nights were cold and clear. We built a couple of bonfires; visited and shopped the picturesque main street of Blue Ridge, GA; played our typical cut-throat game of Scrabble; watched the Macy's parade; watched the Redskins trounce the Cowboys; played Legos (I contributed the turkey to the cause) and puzzles with the little ones; hiked Trisha's mountainous "neighborhood"; and set foot in exactly one chain store for groceries. Everyone loved my little car and I even let Mom drive it to and from Georgia.

We got home not-too late Saturday night and caught up on our DVR'd shows while the cats showered us with oh-thank-god-you're-home-we-missed-you-so-much affection.
melaniesuzanne: (Memphis - Hernando de Soto bridge)
Last Saturday we took off for a week of fun which was unlike any other vacation to my folks' house. For one, no one was home when we arrived. We expected this as Mom and Pete were down at their under construction lake house in NW Alabama and baby brother John was still in Knoxville to finish up summer school exams. With that knowledge, we took our time getting to the house and enjoyed a quiet evening and morning.

On Sunday morning we pulled out our bikes and explored the Wolf River Greenway which winds its way along Wolf River/Humphreys Boulevard only a few streets away from Mom's neighborhood. It was lovely under the cooling trees and we enjoyed ourselves immensely despite the 90F temps at 9:30am.

On Monday morning I got brave and rode further afield: all the way from Germantown to mid-town Memphis, as a matter of fact, via the Greater Memphis Greenline which encompasses the Wolf River Greenway and the Shelby Farms Greenline as well. The eastern end is absolutely gorgeous with scenic overlooks of the Wolf River and little "learning areas" about the aquifers, local flora and fauna, and history of the Wolf River. The section through Shelby Farms was also picturesque but that trail is in the open unlike the Wolf River's tunnel of trees. The Memphis Greenline proper picks up next to the prison (whee) and continues a straight, tree-lined path next to the north loop of I-240 for about six miles.

I set off at 9am when the temperature was a mere 80F. I took several breaks for shade/water/sunscreen break and made it to the end of the Greenline in mid-town at 11:30am. I'd ridden 17 miles at that point and there was no way I could make the round trip back to Mom's in the heat of the day. [ profile] zipmeister and John lived only a couple of miles away from the trail's end and John said I could crash at their place until Hubbyfink picked me up. After checking Googlemaps, I set off for their house and got to ride on some of the more frightening (because of high speed traffic) streets in mid-town.

The temperature had risen to near 100 degrees and I was in full sun at this point. I hadn't quite run out of water, but by the time I got to their neighborhood heat exhaustion was setting in. I got lost several times because I could no longer read the map correctly. Finally I realized that I should use the turn-by-turn directions and I made it to Scott & John's house, a mere two miles away from the trail's end, at noon. (They, of course, were starting to panic that something had happened to me since it shouldn't have taken 30 minutes to ride two miles.)

They plied me with water and I collapsed on their cool concrete floor. Hubbyfink brought me a change of clothes and I took a cool shower before we headed out for lunch and a bit of shopping with the guys. I made a full recovery and enjoyed my bragging rights to friends and family.

There are a few things I noticed during the two rides. Everybody was ~so~ friendly. Of the hundred or so bikers, joggers, and walkers I passed or overtook, all but a handful smiled, waved, or gave a verbal greeting. Welcome to the south. Also? It's ~so~ flat. That's great because there are few hills to climb and that sucks because there are few hills to coast down. I giggled when I saw warning signs for slippery switchbacks -- these signs are plentiful on the Mount Vernon Trail the farther south you go -- but the switchbacks on the Wolf River Greenway were gentle and mostly flat curves. Bless.

One of the more fun things to happen was meeting Cort of FIX MEMPHIS while shopping for a new saddle and lube for Scott's mountain bike at the Highland branch of Peddler Bike Shop. The clerk and I geeked about Memphis' burgeoning bicycle infrastructure and I mentioned I'd been keeping up with the growth via several blogs. He asked which ones I read and I rattled off several of the blogs in the "Memphis Area Blogs" sidebar. He put his hand out and introduced himself as one of the authors of the above blog. That was pretty damn cool.

More later...
melaniesuzanne: (Summer)
The honeysuckle along the W&OD is in bloom. Well, to be honest, it started blooming in late April due to the early summer, but today the flowers filled the air with their unmistakeable perfume. I do love that scent and the memories it stirs.

My paternal grandparents lived about three-quarters of a mile from our home when I was a child. My sister and I spent many a summer afternoon playing in their yard and lots of evenings in their screened-in back porch watching thunderstorms light up the sky. They had an old shed in the backyard which had a dog pen attached to it from the days that my grandfather had a dog to accompany him when he drove around his farms to check the crops. I don't remember when Jodie died, but there were no more dogs after her and the dog pen was eventually swallowed by honeysuckle vines. Mimi and I were terrified of the bees surrounding the shed, but we couldn't help being drawn to flowers. Our grandmother showed us the nectar at the base of the petals and we plucked as many flowers as we could and greedily lapped up the nectar.

I don't remember the nectar's taste, but the scent of honeysuckle transports me straight to my grandparents' yard in Heth, Arkansas.
melaniesuzanne: (Default)
I took an impromptu trip to Memphis for my great aunt's funeral which, despite the reason for the trip, was pretty enjoyable. [ profile] zipmeister retrieved me from the airport and spent most of Tuesday evening visiting with me, Mom, and Pete. Wednesday was Aunt Bernadine's memorial service in Arkansas and one couldn't ask for a more beautiful day in which to be in a cemetery. I saw a lot of family members whom I haven't seen since childhood and even met a few cousins who were born after we moved to Tennessee.

Family plot.
Family plot in Forrest City, AR.

The graveside service was brief and touching. The church dinner was filled with amazing food. As I posted to Facebook, there is nothing like a church dinner featuring fried chicken and fried okra made by good Christian women. Between the dinner and the celebration service, Mom, Mimi, and I drove around Hughes trying to remember who lived where and mourning the deterioration of the tiny farm community.

Papa and Gram
Papa and Gram's headstone.

The celebration of my great aunt's life was quite beautiful. We learned a lot about Aunt Bernie that even Mom didn't know. Family members shared amusing and touching anecdotes about her and most everyone left the service feeling peaceful.

Daddy B's window
My great-grandfather's (Daddy B) memorial window at Hughes United Methodist Church.

Mom suggested I ride home with Mimi so we'd have time to visit. I hardly ever get to spend much time with my sister and we both enjoyed the time together. Mom stopped to visit former coworkers when we reached downtown Memphis and Mimi and I continued on to her house in midtown where we held an impromptu happy hour on her front porch. After a couple glasses of wine (her) and a couple of wine coolers (me), I set to work doing a bit of maintenance on her bike while she and Mom strolled around the block with Bear on his tricycle.

Thursday was Mom's and my day to play and we shopped like we had money. She's lost a bit of weight and wanted some jeans and slacks that fit. She found the slacks (and I found some dresses and shirts) at Dress Barn and then she hit the jeans jackpot at Kohl's. Good gravy but my mom has legs that go all the way up. She strolled out the fitting room in a pair of jeans that took 35 years off; I swear that she looked like she did when I was a little kid. It took some cajoling and pushing until she finally saw in the mirror what I saw.

We got home in time to play a game of Scrabble -- I beat her like a baby seal -- before heading out to celebrate [ profile] beaznuts' birthday at his favorite sushi restaurant. My brother and I are seriously cheap drunks but we can, thankfully, hold our sushi.

The thunderstorms promised all week finally arrived Friday morning just in time for my departure. I'm normally a fairly calm flier, but while I donned my warpaint that morning, the Today show ran a story about the dangers of planes being struck by lightning. Fantastic. I phoned Hubbyfink to tell him I loved him, just in case, and sat back for the bumpy ride out. The plane made it safely to sunny Charlotte and arrived in drizzly Dulles on time.
melaniesuzanne: (Default)
I appear to have succumbed to the New Year plague which is going around. I suspect the VP with whom I nearly collided while cornering a cube passed his cold to me. He was out Wednesday and, I suspect, yesterday. I can't confirm yesterday since I spent Thursday passing in and out of consciousness on the Red Sofa of AWESOMENESS. Today I am back in the cube farm playing the role of Typhoid Mary and stuffing tissues up my left nostril.

I am the epitome of class.

And of course today is the most gorgeous and warm day of this week. I really, really, really wanted to bike commute, but in my heart of hearts I knew that would put too much of a strain on my compromised system. Hopefully I'll feel well enough to take advantage of the beautifully warm weather tomorrow. I'm also hopeful that I can bike down to Vienna for the BikeMeDC Winter Cycling seminar meet-up on Sunday. It looks like the previously-forecast rain will hold off until evening or completely pass to the south. Either is fine with me.

In a weird collision of fate, both my youngest brother and I mentioned immigrating to Melbourne (Australia, not Florida) to our mother last night. My plan is much more of a pipe dream -- if one can call studying the Australian immigration, customs, animal quarantine [only 30 days for healthy animals and not six months], and real estate web sites pipey -- than my brother's. Johnny has dual citizenship going for him and he doesn't have nearly the amount of stakes to pull up that Hubbyfink and I do. He's trying to figure out what to do after he graduates next(?) year and I've got a case of the wanderlusts again. On the upside for the 'fink and myself: both of our employers have offices located in Melbourne. In fact, one of the engineers with whom I regularly work is there...
melaniesuzanne: (Memphis - Hernando de Soto bridge)
We spent the past week with my family in Germantown, TN; Cherokee, AL; and Greers Ferry, AR. It felt like we were constantly on the road, probably because we were. Arrived at Mom's house on the 2nd, spent the day at their lake house -- actually, more time was spent in the lake rather than the house -- in Alabama on the 3rd, and watched my brother [ profile] beaznuts nearly set his neighborhood ablaze by shooting fireworks in his side yard on the 4th. On Tuesday, Mimi took me to one of the import warehouses where she she scores the bits and pieces she uses for her jewelry business. Afterwards, I followed Mom on what seemed like a "Policewomen of Memphis" tour to get a hitch installed on the Highlander. Mom and I walked along the Wolf River on the Wolf River Greenway Wednesday morning. I was completely turned around and directionless; thank goodness I had my phone and the MapMyRun app. Aside from feeling lost, I thought it was such a neat trail! I can't wait until next summer when Hubbyfink and I take our bikes on that trail.

After cooling down and cleaning up, Hubbyfink and I headed into deepest, darkest Arkansas to my father's lake house in Greers Ferry which is located in the Ozarks. We spent the evening being eaten alive by bugs on the deck and watching sheet lightning beyond the mountains. After a hearty breakfast on Thursday, Daddy took us out on his boat. I'd wanted him to take us up to the dam, but the water on that side of the lake was way too choppy. After the boat ride, Hubbyfink and I took off to explore Heber Springs and got a good view at the dam from the overlook. I spent the rest of the afternoon unconscious trying to sleep off the chest cold which had plagued me all week. It didn't work.

The 'fink and I were up early on Friday and drove the 3.5 hours back to Memphis to meet up with [ profile] zipmeister, his boyfriend John, and our friend Jim for sushi lunch at Sekisue. Nom nom nom. Hubbyfink dropped me off at Mom's house so he could see any new offerings at Outdoors, Inc. and so Mom and I could meet up with Mimi for mani/pedis. After getting pretty toes and fingers, Mom and I met the 'fink and stepdad at Genghis Grill for some Mongolian BBQ goodness.

Sadly, there was no BBQ meal at the Germantown Commissary, a full-contact Scrabble game, much pool time, much visit time with [ profile] zipmeister, or much rest during this vacation. There was lots of yummy homemade BBQ, sister time, lake time, and couple time during this vacation. There were also pulled muscles, a wonky eardrum (mine, not the 'fink's), and an unceasing cough. We were pretty beat when we got home Saturday night.

Pictures. )

Didn't get much in the way of photos, but those sum up the trip.

So. Happy.

Jun. 30th, 2011 12:22 pm
melaniesuzanne: (Default)
Today is the first day in the past ten where NOTHING hurts. My muscles? Fine. My teeth? Fine. My emotions? Fine. I am so freaking happy that I could burst. I'm sure that setting the alarm for later than usual and dozing while snuggling with my kitties for the few hours between when Hubbyfink left for work and when my alarm was supposed to go off helped my mood. Getting a call from my sister didn't hurt either. We talked for about 30 minutes while she was on the road to Little Rock, AR, and ended our call because the cell reception was getting spotty and I REALLY needed to shower and head for work.

In other super duper happy news, I decided to try on one of the shirt/skirt outfits I purchased four years ago. I bought two outfits after I lost 30 pounds during the winter of 2006-2007. I needed to lose another ten or so to fit into the outfits. These two outfits have been hanging on my closet door since I started Jenny last August. Today, I am finally small enough to wear the outfits and I am in the mauve top and olive skirt with multicolored ribbon trims at the hemline. I'm SO happy. I tried taking a full-length photo with my phone, but it didn't come out. Y'all will just have to see me in person before I shrink out of these clothes. :)

Work's still hellacious and the issues with broken databases and stubborn network elements hasn't cleared up. Those issues may not clear up before I go on holiday, but at this point I don't care. I am going to do what I can today and I am biking to work tomorrow and leaving early to make up for all the late nights and I am going to make Hubbyfink take me out for Mexican food where I can get my queso and drink on and start my vacation right.
melaniesuzanne: (Kermit on a bike)
I pulled my repaired bike and repaired self back out yesterday morning and ran the morning errands by bike with Hubbyfink. My bike and I performed very well, I am happy to report. After cleaning ourselves up, we ran a few more errands by car and then took off for Annapolis to celebrate our twin nieces' birthday. A grand time was had by all.

We pulled the bikes back out again this morning and headed towards Herndon along the W&OD. We took a break at Elden Street, the three mile mark, and swigged Gatorade while trying to decide whether we should continue on or turn around. I voted for continuing into the unknown. Okay, it's not entirely unknown, but it's been about ten years since I've ridden to Reston and I don't remember what things are like along the trail.

Things are tough along that part of the trail, that's what things are like. Lots of stops for lights and then lots of steep inclines for overpasses. Oof. I was literally panting for breath by the time we got to the top of the Town Center Parkway overpass in Reston. I was just about done and we had four-and-a-half, thankfully mostly downhill, miles to ride to get back home in the stinking heat. The breeze we caught while coasting downhill helped revive me, but the hills were getting harder and harder to climb. After one last break at a lone picnic table in a stand of pine trees between Herndon Parkway and Crestview, we pushed for home and rode up just as [ profile] psalite was walking to our house to spend the afternoon in the pool with me. Excellent timing!

Because I've been asked for pictures. )

I must give a shout out to [ profile] ornerie for recommending Buff Headbands. Mine arrived from yesterday and I was honestly surprised by how cool it kept my sweaty head under my helmet. I could actually feel the breeze through the vent holes as the fabric wicked away sweat. I am one super happy customer.

Five things

Apr. 5th, 2011 11:39 am
melaniesuzanne: (Blossoms by upsa_daisy)
If you thought the promos and hype for "Insidious" looked good, you were as fooled as I. Decent idea, poorly executed. PAINFUL dialogue. At several times, I thought about leaving the theatre because I was so bored. I should have waited to hear one of my horror podcasts review the movie first. Ah well.

Today I am dressed like a cherry blossom: pink/white/purple/black top, pinky-purple cardigan, and light grey slacks. I am also sporting pink lips, pink cheeks, and white & purple eyes. I don't like matching my makeup to my clothes, but browns and neutrals seemed so blah against the pink.

[ profile] zipmeister and boyfriend arrive Friday. Can't wait! There will be Legals Seafood, a Potomac cruise, a visit to the WWII memorial, a visit to the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space center, and sushi. I'm sure there will be other things as well, but these are Zippy and J's Must Dos.

It's yearly checkup time for the kittehs. I think I'm going to move Margie to Oreo's vet because 1) the office is closer and 2) the vet I really liked at Margie's practice left late last year. Gotta make appointments and figure out how to get Margie's records to the new doctor. I'm also very interested in seeing how much Oreo actually weighs. He's SO heavy.

Hubbyfink and I are going to see Cirque du Soliel's "Totem" in Baltimore for our anniversary. I know even less about this show than I knew about last year's "OVO".
melaniesuzanne: (Spring)
Mom visited our happy home for a long weekend. She got in Wednesday evening after a harrowing and much-too-adventurous flight from Memphis to Dulles via Chicago. Her trip included a late flight out of Memphis, sitting on the tarmac at O'hare and watching her Chi-DC flight take off, and waiting at O'hare as her new Chi-DC flight kept getting delayed further and further into the afternoon. Poor Mom. She was exhausted when I greeted her at bag claim and was VERY happy to get to my house. We spent the evening doing a house tour and acquainting her with His Floppy Fluffiness Oreo. She was charmed by both.

On Thursday morning we dined on bananas and water before heading out to walk my three mile neighborhood loop. Mom did a fairly good job of keeping up and I tried not to get too far ahead of her on the hills. It was so much fun walking with a buddy instead of my ipod. I could get used to that. After a proper breakfast and showers, we hit the stores and shopped like, well, like we usually do when we're together. We bought clothes and shoes and paint for the bathroom and a firepit for the backyard and toiletries. I took her to the campus so she could see my cube and meet a few coworkers. We continued shopping until Hubbyfink got home from work. We picked him up and headed out for our Mexican feast at Don Pablo's. Because we'd shopped through lunch and had fairly empty stomachs, I got pretty drunk off my one Slender-rita. Mom blamed my sucking up the margarita through a straw. She sipped hers and was juuuust fine.

On Friday morning we dressed in some grubby, paint-stained clothes and set to work painting the full bath. Mom said, "Oh! This will take no time at all!" She didn't factor in the spackling, sanding, and priming with Killz. Six hours later, the bathroom looked great with its fresh coat of "Renoir Bisque" (a goldeny-peachy wheat/sand color) on the walls and crisp white on the trim, door, and mirror. Something happened to the light switch, though, and Hubbyfink replaced the dimmer switch with a standard switch so I could put CFLs above the mirror. I am in love with the wall color and with having lights that don't put out so much heat that I feel like I'm roasting when I put on my makeup. We got cleaned up and met [ profile] psalite and [ profile] pirategirleee for dinner at Amphora. Much fun (and food!) was had.

Saturday was Mom's last full day in town. We took another walk: this time to the trail and up through Hannah's neighborhood. It was a little too long a walk for Mom, but she hung in there and wouldn't let me race ahead to get the car and pick her up. What a champ! We breakfasted, cleaned up, and headed out for a little more shopping before catching a matinee of "The Adjustment Bureau". What a lovely movie. I was expecting something like "The Matrix" and got that plus a sweet love story. A little more shopping and we were ready for an evening at home. I tortured Mom with "Lake Mungo", an Australian ghost movie I really like but she found dreadful and dull. We stayed up late watching "Say Yes to the Dress".

Mom was up before us chickens on Sunday and managed to get all of her new purchases in her already overfull suitcase and the rolling duffel I lent her. I got her to Dulles over an hour before her flight's departure and she just barely made it to the gate because security took FOREVER. She got delayed in Chicago again thanks to terrible weather and eventually made it safely back to Memphis. We're sending her through Atlanta next time.
melaniesuzanne: (cleaning frenzy by icon godd)
Mom's flying in Wednesday afternoon for a much-anticipated visit. I can't wait to see her and for her to meet Oreo and see the house. The last time she was up here was when the 'fink and I got hitched, nearly seven years ago. We last saw her, in person, in July. So, yeah, I'm happy my mommy's coming to visit.

In preparation for her visit, I have been cleaning house like a madwoman. Most of my friends think I keep a neat house, and I do... but it's not necessarily clean. This was full-on dusting anything that didn't move, wiping down baseboards and walls, vacuuming under furniture which couldn't be moved. I even planned on washing the windows, but energy got away from me. It's not like Mom is going to give my house the white glove treatment, but I want everything to be just so and comfortable.

Speaking of comfortable, Hubbyfink assembled our camp bed in the craft room and I set up the air mattress and featherbed so the latter could air out before I make the bed. Wow, that room looks so different as a bedroom and that bed is awfully comfy looking even without sheets or quilt. It amused me to realize that I would have been making up the camp bed in Mississippi at about the same time of day had we gone to Gulf Wars this year. Plus, the fresh air blowing through the windows and the scent of woodsmoke on the breeze furthered the illusion and memory of set-up day. I also realized that the craft room is just about the size of our pavilion. Heh.

I am now finished with the pre-visit cleaning. Tonight I'm going to relax and play with new makeup and brushes I've added to my collection. That sounds like a fun way to spend a Monday evening.


Feb. 9th, 2011 11:03 am
melaniesuzanne: (Default)
[ profile] zipmeister and boyfriend are coming to visit in April. I'm pushing them towards visiting in mid-April so we can attend Marching Through Time and they can see what the reenacting biz is like. I have also promised a trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center since 1) I've never been and it's only ten minutes away from my house and b) Zippy's last visit to UHC was nearly seven years ago when the menfolk in the family spent the day of my wedding touring the Center to stay out of the womenfolk's hair. (They got the better end of that deal, I guarantee.) There will also be sushi and Legal's Seafood and perhaps even a trip into DC proper. Zippy still hasn't forgiven me for that forced march of twenty or so blocks from the Einstein memorial to the Capitol building where we then climbed lots and lots of stairs. Anyway, I don't know how many days they'll be in town yet, so I'll hold off on concrete planning until closer to the visit itself.

My mommy is visiting in March. She hasn't been up here since the wedding, and has seen the house only in photos and Skype calls. She's coming up for a long weekend. I think maybe we'll take one of those cruises down to Mount Vernon or something like that. The first time she visited DC, she dragged me into the Holocaust museum. I'll steer her towards something more cheerful this time around.


melaniesuzanne: (Default)
Mary F'ing Sunshine

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