Friday, May 27, 2016

michigan part 2

We drove our Nissan Rogue back to the hotel on Friday night.  Also, if we had a dollar for every time someone said, "You're driving a Nissan in GM country?"  we could have afforded to buy the nicest GM vehicle in Pinckney.

Matt and I woke up bright and early on Saturday because apparently when you turn 27 you can't sleep in anymore, and decided to go for a walk in the hopes of finding some picturesque Michigan scenery.

This was the best we could do.

However, we did find a Dunkin' Donuts where I ordered an iced caramel coffee, so all was not lost.

We got back to the hotel and prepared for the main event.  Let me just tell you, there was no humility in that hotel room.  Matt and I kept walking back and forth past the mirror and complimented ourselves every single time.  We did one last mirror check before we left and Matt sighed and said, "It's just a real bummer I couldn't dress like a Secret Service agent."

Yes, because that's an appropriate getup for a casual backyard wedding.

We arrived to the wedding a whopping 45 minutes early, but thanks to the google we were able to discover that in just 5 minutes, we could go to hell.

Hell, Michigan.

And so we did.

And now I can officially say I've been to hell and back.  And hell consists of a gift shop, a saloon, a a surly biker gang.

I'm not kidding.  We left the car running while we literally ran out and took this picture because those bikers didn't look thrilled to have a car full of out of towners descending on their space.

The wedding itself was lovely.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect and it was small and simple.  Once the sun went down we sat around the fire and had s'mores.

We headed home on Sunday, and everything was going swimmingly until the TSA agent flagged me because my driver's license had my maiden name, but my boarding pass had my married name.  I have the license update card that reflects my name change, but the agent said anyone can make a piece of paper with a different name and they had to verify my identify.

And let me tell you.  That process took every bit of 45 minutes and by the end of it I was questioning my own identity.  A supervisor came over and called some phone number and I had to answer crazy  questions about myself for the person on the other line.  I don't know who the heck was on the other end of that phone call but they sure had an awful lot of intel about me.

If it hadn't been a rather serious situation I would have asked if they'd called my mom.

After the phone call, I had to go through a private screening, got the major pat down, and then they went through every single item I had with a fine tooth comb.  They even turned every single page of the books I had with me.  My only regret is that I forgot Matt had thrown his diabetes supplies in my purse, because it doesn't exactly look good when you assure the TSA agent you don't have anything sharp in your purse and she pulls out a bag of needles.


I have to say that every TSA person that screened me and my belongings was super nice, but super not messing around.  Luckily I was finally cleared and we headed home to Philadelphia.

I just bet the whole screening process would've been a lot faster if only Matt had been wearing his secret service agent outfit.

Next time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

hello detroit

One of Matt's close college friends, Ron, got married in Michigan this weekend, and we made the trip out for the occasion.

We left bright and early on Friday morning, and were through security and eating breakfast  sandwiches and drinking Dunkin' iced coffee by 8:30.  We were traveling with two other friends, and our flight was on the prestigious and luxurious Spirit Airlines.  The seats were tight, but the plane was nice enough and I resisted the urge to ask the pilot the date of the last major engine inspection and if he was prepared to respond appropriately in the event of a bird strike.

I wouldn't say I hate the whole flying experience, because once we are at cruising altitude and the plane is level, I'm a happy camper.  But getting up there?  I cry REAL TEARS.  It is completely ridiculous but I cannot help my terrified self.

I've never liked roller coasters or amusement park rides for the very same reason.  The descent isn't the bad part, it's getting to the top that does me in.  The last time I rode the log flume I almost climbed out of my log halfway up.  I hate it.

Anyway, we survived the flight (no bird strikes!) and we landed in Detroit around 1:00.  We took a shuttle to the airport Enterprise location and as we pulled in, our shuttle bus driver proudly announced, "Welcome to Detroit! To thank you for coming to our wonderful city we are offering all Enterprise customers complimentary, one of a kind, Detroit hot dogs!" 

And she was right.  They were grilling right there in the parking lot.

I'm sure all that jet fuel and car exhaust gave the hot dogs some extra flavor, but we passed.

Instead we stopped at the CVS across from our hotel to pick up some snacks, but what to our wondering, Pennsylvania eyes should appear but liquor! And beer! And a whole aisle of wine ON SALE.

In Pennsylvania you can only buy alcohol at a state store, so seeing it in a CVS was like seeing a unicorn and obviously we indulged.

The bride and groom invited us to their house for pizza and wings on Friday night.  They have a beautiful piece of property in an itsy bitsy, teeny tiny town called Pinckney, Michigan.  It was about 40 minutes from the hotel, and for the first 35 minutes of our drive, we saw nothing.

Literally, nothing.

 No grocery store.  No gas station.  No police station.  No Target.

Just flat land and trees.

And the four of us pretty much talked about "Where does Ron buy food?  Where does Ron get gas? How does Ron get cold things home from the nearest grocery store?  What happens if Ron forgets a dinner ingredient? Do they even have police where Ron lives?"  By the time we got off the exit we were almost ready to stage an intervention and bring Ron back to civilization/suburban Philadelphia, but at that moment we drove past a Kroger, a gas station, a McDonald's, and a chiropractor, and what more could someone really need?

The wedding was happening AT THEIR HOUSE the next afternoon, so we ate our pizza and wings in the tent they had set up in the backyard.  I'll tell you what I wouldn't want to do at my house where I would be throwing my own wedding the next day.

Host a bunch of out-of-towners for pizza.

But the bride and groom were so laid back and we had so much fun and I mostly just laughed the whole time because there's not much funnier than a bunch of guys telling college stories.  I learned that Matt's buddies didn't believe that I existed at first.  They thought Matt made me up to impress them.  I also learned he scored a 42 on a Music Listening exam once and may or may not have illegally transported a construction barricade in the backseat of his 1996 Chevy Prism.

We left around 9 so we could navigate back through the Michigan wilderness to the hotel before it got too late.  We made it back safely even though the GPS was giving directions like, "In .2 miles, turn left on Plant Trucks."

Michigan is strange.

I'm going to continue this in a part 2, because evidently I have a lot to say about Michigan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

anyone have a good quiche recipe?

Well, tonight I'm coming to you live from Noah's Ark.

I am not kidding.  My laundry room is flooded and there are three chickens in my garage.

Let me back up.

From the beginning of time, Matt has been talking about how he wants to get some chickens to raise in the backyard for a hobby and eggs.  My long-standing counter argument was that we don't really eat eggs, but several months ago he launched a strong chicken campaign and started eating egg salad for lunch and making me eggs for breakfast on the weekends.  He has not let up on his egg consumption for MONTHS.  

In addition to eating eggs like crazy, he's been researching backyard chickens and even has a few books.  Last Saturday we went to a party at his aunt and uncle's house, and they just so happen to have some chickens.  

And on Wednesday I was driving to Moyer's Hatchery to pick up our very own chicks.  They are the prestigious (sarcasm) breed known as Brown Egg Layers and cost a whopping $2.70 a piece.  I know an elephant at any price isn't a bargain, but I'd say a Brown Egg Layer for two bucks MOST CERTAINLY IS.   

Since the chicks were only going to be one day old, I brought a nice basket, a towel, and some hand warmers to keep the delicate little things toasty warm on the drive home.  And then I walked into Moyer's Hatchery and was handed a brown paper bag with three chickens inside and sent on my way.


Either I'm high maintenance or this was going to be easier than I thought.

Once I got home I got the chickens all set up in their bed, or if you want to use the technical farm term, their "brooder." Which is actually a bright pink Rubbermaid container.  They settled right in and mostly cheep and eat and sleep, but they seem happy, as far as chickens go.  

We cleaned out their bed on Saturday and put them in a cardboard box temporarily.  I stayed in the garage with them and made sure they didn't fly away while Matt washed out their food and water dishes.
And then on Sunday evening I ran a load of laundry, and when I went to switch it to the dryer I walked into a pond of water on the laundry room floor.

Matt immediately jumped to the worst conclusion, and while he fiddled with hoses and pipes and started hypothetically comparing repair costs versus buying a new washer, I stood off to the side by the wash tub sharing positive sentiments like "It could be worse!  It doesn't seem to be leaking ALL the time!" and "Hey, at least I got that last load of undies done!"  

And it was then that I noticed that the drain of the wash tub was filled which pine shavings from the chickens' bed, and that the newspaper that was wrapped around the red maple tree sapling that has taken up residence in our washtub (don't ask) was completely soaked, leading me to believe that the pine shavings clogged the drain, causing the wash tub to fill up and overflow when the washing machine drained into it.

I ran my hypothesis past repairman Matt, and we did a little test run, and that's exactly what happened.        

Luckily it was an easy fix, and I've done two more loads since Sunday with no problems, but I'm here to tell you I won't be sad when the chickens graduate to their outdoor coop.

It was totally bizarre but he was famous on campus until he unfortunately received a disorderly conduct citation for bringing a farm animal into an academic building, and had to retire the Chicken Man persona.  

But now it's like I have my very own chicken man.

Or, Noah.

Now I just need an ark.

Friday, April 29, 2016

i'll never be able to hitch hike

Our big project this past weekend was getting the yard and patio in shape.

First up was our customary Saturday morning Hope Depot trip.  When we got home we power washed the patio, planted two rhododendron bushes and some raspberry plants, put together a patio set that my parents very generously got for us, and began to plant 120 flowers.

That's right.  One hundred and twenty flowers.  It's safe to say I grossly overestimated how many flowers it would take to fill our gardens.  Whoops.

We decided to quit around 5:00 on Sunday.  I had a vacation day on Monday, so I decided I'd finish the flowers then.  As we were putting away our tools, Matt said, "We can just leave the shovels in the garden center, since we'll use them again tomorrow."

I'm sorry, the garden center?

He was referring to the small fenced area on the side of the house where the previous owner kept his trashcan.  It made me laugh because my parents have a deck and an upper and a lower patio in their backyard, which they refer to as Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3.

We're just carrying on the outdoor area naming tradition.

Monday was 80 degrees and sunny and I was all hopped up on spring weather and decided to make a big pasta salad before I started gardening.  I threw in a bunch of veggies we had in the fridge, and decided at the last minute to toss in some red onion.  As I was cutting the onion, I thought to myself, "I should research how to cut an onion properly.  I always feel like I'm going to slice my thumb."

And two seconds later I SLICED MY THUMB.

To make matters worse, Matt had a bad run-in with a broken glass last weekend and had the band-aids with him in his work bag.  It was touch and go for a few minutes but I managed to stop the bleeding and get on with my gardening.

The thumb injury only hindered my progress a little bit.

I hope it heals.

And I hope it's green, because I have 120 flowers depending on that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

it's tough to pass up an AARP day bag

A few weeks ago my father in law came over to help fix a plumbing problem we were having, specifically replacing the broken outside spigot.  We bought The Pocket Hose, aka the hose that grows, and unfortunately one night we turned it on and then couldn't turn it off.

And that is not a hose problem you want to have.

Along with his plumbing tools, Matt's dad brought along a box of Matt's childhood belongings.  It's funny how when you buy your own house with storage aplenty, your parents expect you to get your stuff out of their basement.

(Mom and Dad, I'll be by for those last few boxes any day now...)

After dinner we went through the box, and found a lot of high school memorabilia, Matt's varsity letter, and an old piggy bank that counts your coins as you drop them in.  But the piece de resistance was Matt's coin collection.  Which we then organized AND vacuum sealed on a Saturday night because the excitement never ends.

A few days later, this showed up in the mail.

I think our house is bugged.

Also, tricky "free with payment" wording, AARP.  It's too bad we've just vacuum sealed all of our valuable coins or we might've taken you up on this tempting offer.

Friday, April 22, 2016

tomorrow we buy the oreos

Spring has officially sprung here and I am over the moon.  This past weekend was particularly beautiful and I walked around for 48 hours like I've never experienced spring before.

"Look at how BLUE that sky is!"

"Have you ever heard birds sing so melodiously?"

"The air smells like perfume from all of the blooming trees!"

I feel like a new person.

The warmer weather has also inspired me to prepare fresher, healthier meals, instead of meals whose main ingredient is cheese with a side of cheese.  I bought tons of fresh fruits and veggies this weekend and even made myself squash soup, which, looking back, may have been a little misguided. 

Tonight after dinner Matt said, "Do we have any snacks?" and all I could offer was a handful of roasted almonds or some tortilla chips made from only chickpeas and sesame seeds and some sort of magic.

"No thanks, I was hoping for something more...mainstream," he said.

In other news, we bought a chiminea last weekend, and we had our first fire Tuesday night.  Matt turned the Phillies game on the radio and I brought out my new book and we listened and read and talked and the whole thing was so relaxing.  We canceled our cable a few months ago, and the price we paid for the chiminea was what we'd pay for one month of cable.  In my opinion, we've already gotten a 100% return on investment.

It was nice to have such a lovely evening in the yard, because it had been the scene of a traumatic experience earlier this month.  

When we bought this house Matt proclaimed he needed a riding lawnmower because it would take him 3 hours to mow the yard with a push mower.

My counter-argument was that it takes me 3 hours to clean the house, so I need a maid.

We got the lawnmower.

I'm sure the maid will show up any day now.

We found the lawnmower on Craigslist and got a pretty good deal.  Matt fired that bad boy up last Friday.  He made his first lap up and back and was grinning from ear to ear.  Mowing his own yard.  It was the moment he'd been waiting 27 years for.

And then on lap 3, the lawnmower died.  Among other problems, the engine block was cracked, and in case you're not up to speed on the going rate for new lawnmower engine blocks, I can tell you they're about $800.   Which is more than we paid for the lawnmower to begin with.

Let's just say it was a bad night around here, because we were pretty convinced we were going to be out the money from the first lawnmower, which we couldn't sell to someone else since in the current condition, PLUS have to buy a second.  We ran some errands on Friday night but neither of us were in great moods, and when we got home Matt casually mentioned he was hungry and I casually mentioned that he better get used to that feeling because we're never going to be able to afford to eat again.

It wasn't one of my finer moments.

On Monday morning Matt decided to try to call the man we bought the lawnmower from to see if they could work things out.  And I'm here to tell you there are still good people in this world because the man felt terrible, apologized profusely, and gave us every cent of our money back.

So the good news is that we now have a new working lawnmower and our lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood in no time.

And the great news is that we will be able to afford to eat another day.

Maybe we can even splurge on some mainstream snacks.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

you lucky dog

My family had a dog named Sandy when I was very little, but she died when I was six so I don't remember very much about her.  After that, my brother and I made half-hearted requests for a new dog every now and then, but the requests never resulted in a new puppy because did I mention half-hearted?

And then Emily came along.


When Emily was in first grade, my mom sewed felt patches all over a white sweatsuit for Halloween, but Em wore that puppy costume long after October 31st.

And then Emily took things to a whole new level when she started barking and crawling on all fours to the door when the doorbell rang.

And in February 2003, we got Rosie.

There was some family discord about what to name our new puppy, but when we found out that she was born on December 27th, Emily's birthday, we all agreed that we had to name her Rosie, after Em's middle name, Rose.

Rosie was an English Springer Spaniel, and we quickly learned they weren't kidding about the "spring" part.  A few weeks after we got her, my dad made himself a big, juicy sandwich for lunch, put it on the table, and went out to get a soda from the garage fridge.  When he came back inside, the sandwich was gone, and Rosie had crumbs on her mouth.  Let's just say Dad was less than thrilled with her display of agility and speed eating.

My brother and I were talking about The Notorious Sandwich Incident of 2003 this weekend.  We both thought that after Rosie's brazen act she wouldn't make it 13 more days in our house, let alone 13 more years.

But she defied the odds.

That's not to say she stopped eating forbidden treats.

There was the time she ate 30 lollipops intended to be Emily's class Valentines.  She gave herself away because she emerged from her candy binge with lollipop wrappers stuck in her long, floppy ears.

One time she ate a platter of gourmet chocolate covered pretzels my mom got from her students.

And when she was definitely old enough to know better, she ate the two layer heart shaped cake I made for my parents' 25th anniversary.  I came home from work on my lunch hour to ice the cake, and it was gone.

Just this past October, my mom and I returned from an afternoon of shopping, and Rosie was standing in the hallway surrounded by empty Halloween candy wrappers.

They say chocolate isn't good for dogs, but it never bothered Rosie.

Rose loved to be outside and in the water.  She went with us on vacations to the lake and for hikes in the woods.  She loved to be in the backyard, drinking from the pond and chasing squirrels and laying in the sunshine.

But mostly, she loved to be with her people.

She usually laid in the middle of the hallway, where she could see the kitchen and the family room, and keep an eye on the front door.

At night she'd drag her bed out to the family room to be with everyone.  She'd get all settled in and fall asleep, but when she heard the television click off, she'd jump right up and trot into her crate for bed.  

You could always count on Rosie to hear the garage and be waiting for you at the door when you came inside.

And if she was outside alone for too long, she'd come looking for a friend.

She wasn't allowed upstairs, but when someone went up, she'd wait patiently on the landing for them to come back down.

She was a dog, but for thirteen years, she was part of our family.

And she was Emily's best friend.

I don't think any of us appreciated Rosie's loyalty and unconditional love more than Emily did.

Over the last two weeks, Rosie's health declined.  On Friday, my parents knew it was time.  I went over to see her one last time after work, and I sat down next to her on the floor.  She was weak and tired, but she picked her head up and put it on my knee.  Up until the very end, she really loved her people.

And her people are really going to miss her.


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