Saturday, October 29, 2016

a few days in baltimore

Well, the end of vacation is always a sad time.  I've been off for the past week and I wish I could live in a perpetual vacation.  Matt and I both scheduled PTO for last week several months ago, but we didn't make any official plans until last week.  We decided to go to Baltimore for a few days, and it was a great decision.

We stayed at The Inn at Henderson's Wharf.  We left on Sunday morning and arrived around lunchtime.  The inn was on the first floor of an old tobacco factory.  The upper floors were condos, and I decided to search them on because I thought perhaps we should invest in a weekend place, and then I saw they were many, many hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars, and suddenly our reasonable split-level in the Philadelphia suburbs seems totally fine as our year-round residence.

The inn was in a little section of the city called Fell's Point, and it couldn't have been more picturesque.  There were cobblestone streets, tons of restaurants, pubs and cafes, and it was right on the water.  After we checked in, we had delicious burgers for lunch and then decided to head to the Inner Harbor.

The hotel was about a 2 mile walk from the harbor, but we walked there and back every day, because both the weather and the views were gorgeous.

We walked in via Little Italy the first time, since Matt is 50% Italian and unironically calls Italy "the homeland."  In Little Italy we saw lots of pizzerias and a statue of Christopher Columbus.

When we got to the Inner Harbor, we bought tickets for the Historic Ships in Baltimore, saw a life-size cutout of Donald Trump (this is not by any means an endorsement), and then stumbled upon a man in the amphitheater with a unicycle and a pogo stick telling hilarious jokes.

It was the perfect trifecta.
We stopped to watch him for a minute, and then decided he was entertaining enough for us to take a seat.  "Don't sit in the front row," I told Matt.  "People in the front row always get picked for crowd participation at these kinds of things, and I would rather swim home than participate in a comedy acrobatics display."

And then Matt marched right to the front row.  Halfway into his routine, Wacky Chad selected Matt, and two other men, for crowd participation.

I should have bet money on that.

Wacky Chad had the other two guys hold the ends of a rope, and had Matt stand in the middle.  Then he turned on the music and told Matt to jump.



Who knew Matt had been hiding this hidden jump rope talent?  It made my day vacation.

When Matt (finally) got to sit down, he said, "Oh man, are my knees going to hurt tomorrow."  So we wandered slowly back to our hotel, and then sat outside to watch the sun set over the marina.

It was then that I decided I'd like to live on the water and own a yacht.
There are literally hundreds of restaurants and pubs in Fell's Point, so we walked around for quite a while before deciding on a Mexican place, because you can't go wrong with nachos and margaritas.

The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and then walked into the harbor.  When I was growing up, we would go on on two-week vacations to a lake in Maryland every year.  My dad always said that the second Saturday was his very favorite day of vacation, because so many people were leaving, and we still had another week of relaxation ahead of us.

Well this week, I decided that my favorite day was Monday, because I was wandering through this cute city with my coffee and my husband and my camera and no agenda, and everyone else was headed to the office.
The Horse You Came In On Saloon is said to be the oldest saloon in the country, and also where Edgar Allan Poe had his last drink.  It was (allegedly) the last place he was seen before he died.

(It was also apparently trash day.)

When we got to the harbor, we toured an old Coast Guard boat.  Matt likes the technical and mechanical aspects of a ship, and I'm a fan of seeing where the crew lived and ate and slept and had their legs cut off.

That's right.

That bottom right photo is the doctor's office on the ship and they had a whole display on amputations.  I expect more when I'm going in for a sinus infection or a sore elbow, let alone having my entire leg amputated.

After that we headed over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for a tour.  There was only one other person in our group, so it was like a personal tour.  Matt's a huge baseball fan, so he and our tour guide, Merv, spend a lot of time talking about players and games and world records I've never heard of, and I spent a lot of time trying to read the name plates on the luxury boxes to see who paid the big bucks for a fancy box.

The mayor of Baltimore and PNC Bank, that's who.

After Camden Yards, we headed back to the harbor to tour another boat.  This was an old one.
On this boat, we determined Matt was too tall to be a sailor, because he had to duck his head the whole time.

We also determined I am too high maintenance, because the sailors here slept in hammocks.  I pretty much only want to be in a hammock when I'm in my back yard with a glass of wine or sweet tea and a good novel when it's sunny and 75, not in the belly of a ship on the high seas in the midst of a war.

After we toured the ship, we walked back to the hotel and then decided to return to the same Mexican restaurant for more nachos and margaritas.  

I'm pretty sure that's also what the sailors and baseball players wanted after a long day. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

things have gotten fowl around here

Well, I'm currently watching the Penn State vs. Ohio State football game.  As a proud Penn State alum and a lifelong Nittany Lion fan, there's one term you don't want to hear the commentators say in relation to the opposing football team.  Especially when the opposing team is #2 ranked Ohio State.  And that term is "galloping freely towards the endzone."  But the Buckeyes have been galloping freely a lot the past two hours, because the current score is 21-7 at the end of the third.

(Since I started this post, PSU has made a comeback.  The score is now 24-21, with Penn State in the lead.  I told my family in our group text that I am too old for overtime.  I will surely die.  Write on my grave stone, she died doing the two things she loves.  Painting her nails with glitter nail polish and watching Penn State football.)

((It's now the end of the game and we won, 24-21, in a nail-biter of a game.  I am literally sitting on the edge of my seat, and in total disbelief.))

The third Friday of every month means a staff meeting at work, and that means lots of talk about budgets and policies and new laws.  But it also means seeing coworkers from our satellite offices who don't get to the main office very often.

One of my satellite office coworkers was in the office I share with one of the attorneys after the meeting on Friday.  A paralegal was sitting in our office too, and she asked me about our chickens.  My coworker didn't know that we had chickens, and you could say that she was shocked.  She told me if there's one thing she didn't peg me for, it's a farm girl.

But then she said, "Doesn't Shannon (another attorney we work with) have some kind of animals or birds?"  

"She has chickens," the paralegal said, "And she had a duck, but she had to put the duck down this summer.  It had special needs, and really wasn't doing well.

Everyone looked sad for a minute, and then I said, "Yeah.  It was literally lame duck."

Happy Friday!

Speaking of ducks, Matt went hunting this morning.

While he was hunting, I slept in and then made eggs for breakfast, because we have a zillion.

Matt had a successful day in the fields.  Both he and his dad got a pheasant, and I was so happy for him.

I wasn't so happy when he got home, set himself and his pheasant up on a table on the porch, and then said, "Can you start boiling water in the biggest pot we have so I can get these feathers off?"

I was even less happy when he requested I bring him 'the butcher shears.'

"Do you mean our kitchen shears?" I asked.

Yes.  That's what he meant.

Obviously I went shopping for new kitchen scissors and a new pot this afternoon.

Matt cooked a delicious dinner of pheasant, rice, and potatoes, and in a moment of weakness I even agreed to go hunting with him later on this week.  Since I don't possess a hunting license, a gun, or a desire to shoot a bird, I will act as more of a comedic companion and photographer.
I have a bunch of poultry related puns up my sleeve.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

vote for me

I generally try to stay away from politics on this little blog.

Well, that's not completely true.  There was that one time I wrote about being mistaken for my local state representative.

Who is forty years my senior.

But back to present day politics.  If you're feeling discouraged by the current presidential election, feel free to view my platform below.  I wrote it in 1996, but I think with a few tweaks these twenty year old ideas could work pretty well in 2016.

If I were president, I would make everyone live in a mansion.  
I can't see why anyone would argue with this.  Please note how I crossed out "castle" to replace it with the incorrectly spelled mansion.  Wouldn't want to get too fancy.

I would make there be seat belts on the bus.  
Seems safe.  Also, as a child, I used to ask my mom if I could bring a broom with me on the school bus, because I always felt like the floor needed a good sweeping.  I wasn't nerdy at all.

I would make all Catholic schools, but half day.
Seems like I hadn't yet gotten the memo on the whole freedom of religion thing. Although I bet I would get a lot of takers on the half day aspect.

If you feel like you can't make a decision on November 8th, feel free to write me in.  I might not technically meet the age requirement, but I sure look like I do.

Monday, October 17, 2016

this weekend we painted the town red. or the family room gray.

I went back to work on Friday, all hopped up on antibiotics and cold medicine.  After lunch I was talking to one of the attorneys, and he said, "Laura, you are not firing on all cylinders today."

No, no I was not.  So I left the office a half hour early so that I could make it to Sonic before happy hour ended at 4:00.  I pulled into the drive through, and for the first time ever, noticed a big sign that said, "Clearance."

And for half a second, I thought, "Wow, clearance at Sonic? I wonder what could possibly be on sale."  And then I saw "9 feet."

It was clearance height.  Of course.  

When I got home, I got settled on the couch in the living room with my tissues and my giant sweet tea, and Matt came up the stairs wearing a head lamp.

Was my fever back or did I marry a coal miner?

It turns out he was just doing a practice run for hunting on Saturday morning.  He didn't get anything while hunting, so that means I still had to go grocery shopping, and then it was time to face the music. 

And by face the music I mean paint the family room.

The family room that we tore apart two long months ago, yet still looks like this.
Upon closer inspection of the room, it was actually a lot more work than we bargained for, so we kind of stalled out.  However, Christmas is coming and I plan to celebrate all of December sitting by the fire in a freshly painted, put together family room.  We worked for several hours on Saturday afternoon and then, when I could almost SEE the paint on the walls, Matt said, "I think we need a few things at Lowe's."

And that's when I titled my memoir.

You Can Lead a Man to the Family Room, But You Can't Make Him Paint.

Coming soon to bookstores near you.

In a last ditch effort to avoid painting, Matt actually suggested that we buy paneling at Lowe's.  But fear not, clearer heads prevailed, the painting has begun, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  We did some yesterday and put another coat on the ceiling tonight.

Actually Matt painted the ceiling with the roller and I supervised and assisted him when he needed it. Although it's a little bit difficult to assist, because he will say things like, "Cleanup on aisle 4" which means, "Can you please get rag and wipe off that excess paint in the corner?" or "Train your eye over there," which means (I think) can you make sure I'm not missing a spot?

But we made it work.

And we have more painting on the agenda for tomorrow night.

I think Sonic might help.

And the head lamp.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

our trips were practically identical

In an unusual turn of events, Matt and I both traveled for work this week.  Matt hardly ever travels, but when he does it's on the fancy law firm budget, which means the nicest hotels and luxury steak dinners.  

I travel at least monthly, but when I do it's on the non-profit social service agency budget, which means the Red Lion Inn and dinner is the value meal at Moe's.

Actually, in September, on my five year work anniversary, I put my foot down about not staying at the Red Lion Inn anymore.  I put in my time there.  And so this month I stayed at the Sheraton, and I will tell you when I walked into the lobby, I felt like I was walking into the very lap of luxury.  

I walked across that shiny floor to check in, and was greeted with a glass of cucumber water and a man with a British accent.


The woman told me that I would be in room 346, and when I asked her where the elevator was, she said, "Oh, you won't need to take the stairs.  346 is on this ground level."

Well that sounds familiar.

Are all the hotels in this town built into the side of a giant hill?

I made my way to my room, and couldn't wait to check out my view.  Matt had sent me a photo of the view from his hotel, and I decided I'd send him a picture of mine.

This was his view.

And this was mine.
Some trees and the backside of a Petsmart.

As I was heading out for dinner, Matt sent me a few pictures from the work event he was attending at the Field Museum in Chicago.

And then I drove over to Moe's to pick up my dinner, and parked next to this.

That would be a deer in the backseat.

How about that wildlife, Matt?

On my way back from dinner I entered the hotel through a different door, evidently on a lower level, and when I got into the elevator, I could not find the button for the third floor.  

There was no 3.

It took me about four minutes to realize the little sign next to "L" said "Lobby is 3rd floor."

Is it just me or are hotels always this complicated to navigate?

Unfortunately on Tuesday night I felt like I was getting sick, so I ordered room service.  I decided to go crazy and get spinach dip AND pizza, and when the gentleman brought it to my room, he lifted the lid of the spinach dip and then the lid of the pizza box and waved his hand dramatically over both, as if he was presenting me with lobster tail and caviar as opposed to chips and dip and honey barbecue pizza on some sub-par, pre-made dough.

I felt horrible yesterday and today I went to the doctor.  Turns out I have a sinus infection and an ear infection.  

I don't know what we will be eating for dinner tonight, but I can promise you it won't be Moe's or a fancy steak dinner.

Or venison.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

i think we could fit a greenhouse in our yard

Earlier in the week my mom and I made plans to go to Longwood Gardens today.  And then yesterday was cold and dreary and when we woke up this morning it was pouring rain.  We decided to drive out anyway, since we had nothing to lose, and it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.

Is it too late to make a career switch to botany?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

i had good intentions

This week I thought I would be organized and keep a list of things that popped into my mind that I wanted to write about.

And tonight I looked at my list.

Not only did I manage to spill water on it, but it's so jumbled that I probably would have been better off just going from memory.

I wrote "J. Aniston Aveeno" list night because Emily sent me this message and it cracked me up.

Something tell me Jen's skincare routine is a little fancier than an $8.99 bottle of face wash from Wal Mart.

I went to the dentist this week for my six month cleaning which is probably why I wrote that down, but nothing remarkable happened unless you count the fact that I walked into the exam room and was immediately greeted by this photo of my mouth on the big screen.  And it stayed on the screen for the entire appointment.

(I blurred it because no one needs to see that in high def.)

Turns out I'm not always as photogenic as I thought.  Not even some Aveeno could help that situation.  I'm unsure of what the purpose of displaying the photo was, unless the dentist wanted to make sure he had the right mouth.

Or maybe just to keep me humble.

I put dinner in the oven before I left for my appointment.  It was just chicken, potatoes, and carrots with gravy on top.  I'm sorry to report that while the chicken was delicious, the carrots were a bit on the al dente side, and the potatoes were downright raw.  They literally crunched when you bit into them, hence "potatoes crunch" on my list.

One bit and I almost broke a freshly cleaned tooth.

Imagine how bad that photo would've looked then.

I'm at a loss for why I wrote down "Jake Tapper debate."  Although I do feel like Jake is a close personal friend of mine, because the doctor who treated my scoliosis when I was younger knew his dad.

I hardly ever see Jake Tapper these days because I don't watch CNN very often, but I had it on during the VP debate and I'm watching some hurricane coverage right now.

And Jake's coworker, Rosa the weather reporter, just said, "I want to show you what's going on down the road, just let me get into my rolling coverage vehicle."

And she proceeded to step into the news van.

Let's call a spade a spade van a van, Rosa.

In all seriousness, I hope everyone in the hurricane's path stays safe this weekend.

Happy Friday!

Monday, October 3, 2016

hello october

As I was getting ready for work last Friday morning, my phone buzzed with a text.  It was an automated message that said, "You're received a Dunkin' Donuts E-Gift from Matt."

Well that DD gift card made me happier than a bouquet of roses.  Evidently I appeared so frazzled on Thursday night that Matt thought I might need an extra boost of caffeine to finish out the week.

The coffee came in handy on Saturday morning, because I babysat my friend's two kids for a few hours.  Her son is three, and her daughter is nine months.  When I got to their house, she said, "You probably won't need them, but I wrote down some directions for you just in case."

These were the directions.

Things sure have changed since a few years ago when she left me these incredibly detailed instructions for one child.

After my babysitting gig, I headed over to Primark, my new retail heaven.  I got a pair of jeans, two sweaters, a blouse, and a pair of black wedge booties for $48.00.

Matt's uncle was in town from Bermuda, so we met him for dinner in the city on Saturday night.

I wore my new black wedge booties for the occasion, and learned that they aren't necessarily built for walking a few city blocks in the rain.  Also, that wedge was misleading.  It looked pretty low but they were so high that I was almost taller than Matt.

My booties and I successfully made it back to the car after a delicious dinner.  Halfway through the drive home, I asked Matt if he could roll his window up a bit because I was chilly.

"Oh man," he said. "I really like to drive with the window down," he said.  "It makes me feel like a cop.  Protect and serve."

Fortunately it started to rain shortly thereafter and Officer Matt rolled the window up because there's nothing worse than a soggy patrol car.

It continued to rain all day Sunday and even half of the day today.  But by dinnertime, the sky looked like this.

And the forecast for the rest of the week is lots of pretty weather.

And lots of coffee.