I finally got the Christmas tree decorated today! (I'm definitely not on top of this Christmas thing this year.)
One of Mitch's and my favorite Christmas movies is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. We saw "The Griswold Family Christmas Tree" and knew it was the perfect addition to our Hallmark Keepsake ornament collection. It even plays the Christmas Vacation theme song!
I'm so sorry I've been neglecting you. Things have been insanely crazy around here the past several weeks. I know that's not a good excuse and I'll try and be better. We have lots of catching up to do from 2011 and I suspect 2012 will be just as eventful and exciting.
Please accept this photo I took of the beautiful sunrise and reflection of the Christmas tree lights in the window as a token of my love. It makes me so very happy so I know it must make you happy.
I did not receive any Peep bunnies or chicks in my Easter basket this year; I LOVE the sugar-coated marshmallows and was very disappointed when I didn't see any displayed among the chocolate. I gave the Easter Bunny a hard time.
The Easter Bunny brought these to my house on Sunday. I accepted this late payment but that does not mean I will tolerate the same behavior next year. I expect chicks and bunnies in my basket come April 8, 2012. Got that, Easter Bunny?
I did a little clearance Halloween shopping on Tuesday afternoon. Here are my finds from Hobby Lobby and JoAnn Fabric. So excited about my new decorations and can't wait to display them next year!
While I think Thanksgiving is great and all, I'm counting down to November 25th when I feel it's an appropriate time to take out my Christmas decor. My favorite holiday of the year is quickly approaching! YAY!
Their unlikely bond was talked about around the world. Tarra, an 8,700-lb. Asian elephant, and Bella, a local stray who befriended her at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., showed the world that true friendship comes in all shapes and sizes.
Sadly, Tarra said farewell to her longtime companion last week. The sanctuary says the dog was attacked by wild animals and that her giant pal carried her lifeless body back to the barn to mourn her.
"I am convinced Tarra experienced the death of her friend that fateful night, brought her home and said her goodbyes," said sanctuary CEO Rob Atkinson. "Tarra was a true friend to the end, and Tarra's sisters and caregivers will continue to take care of her, as she and Bella did each other."
Tarra and Bella first made national headlines in 2009 when CBS News did a story on the inseparable pair, who first met in 2003 at the sanctuary where elderly elephants live out their golden years.
"When it's time to eat they both eat together. They drink together. They sleep together. They play together," sanctuary co-founder Carol Buckley told Steve Hartman. "Bella knows she's not an elephant. Tarra knows she's not a dog. But that's not a problem for them."
Their bond was tested in 2008 when Bella was unable to walk due to a back injury. But Tarra's support was unwavering as she visited her friend at the Sanctuary's office everyday for three weeks. "She was concerned about her friend," Buckley said.
Their connection was strong until the very end of Bella's life last week. On Oct. 26, the sanctuary discovered the dog's body next to the elephant's barn, and, after studying the evidence – including wounds on the canine and blood stains on Tarra's trunk – they concluded that the dog was attacked by animals (most likely coyotes) and carried to that location by her faithful friend.
"Our poor, brave, loving girl knew what had happened to her beloved Bella," Atkinson wrote on The Elephant Sanctuary's blog. "And, in the dark hours of the night as she carried her body home, had come to terms with her death."
The sanctuary will keep a close eye on Tarra, who is "doing remarkably well," as she continues to mourn her best friend. To leave a tribute message to Bella, click here.
Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you all had a spooktacular day!
I'm kind of bummed that the decorations have to come down already; I was really, really enjoying them this year. I'm hoping to find some good deals this week to add to my collection for next year; that will cheer me up!
I decided that rather than have a mental breakdown this evening, a study break would be a better option. I left my problems unsolved at the desk and took a few minutes to enjoy the Halloween decorations.
Today was the library's fall used book sale and I scored 26 books for $1.00! I've enjoyed making lists of the books I've found at the past sales, so I thought I would do it again. Here are my finds and some commentary about them:
1. All that Glitters by V.C. Andrews
2. The End of the Rainbow by V.C. Andrews
3. Eye of the Storm by V.C. Andrews
4. Lightning Strikes by V.C. Andrews
5. Seeds of Yesterday by V.C. Andrews
6. Web of Dreams by V.C. Andrews
~ I've never actually read anything by V.C. Andrews but it's been fun picking these novels up in hopes of completing a series some day. I actually don't know anyone who has read anything by Andrews. Have you read any of her work? If so, what did you think?
7. The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
8. My Sister’s Picture by Cathy Arden
9. Zen and the Art of Quilting by Sandra Detrixhe
~ I may be giving Zen and the Art of Quilting to my grandmother who quilts. I want to skim it first to make sure it is worth her time.
10. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
~ I actually bought a copy of A Christmas Carol at one of the last book sales but this copy is much more charming. I'll show you all some pictures when the Christmas season rolls around.
11. The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich
12. Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
13. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
14. Homeland by Barbara Kingsolver
15. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
~ I've never actually read anything by Barbara Kingsolver, either, but have several of her books already on my bookshelf and now a few more to add. I think her novels sound very good, though, so I think they are worth tossing in my bag and bringing home.
16. Women’s Friendships edited by Susan Koppelman
~ Not really a fan of short stories, but I thought these about the friendships between women might be interesting. Regardless of whether or not I like it, I will be passing it on to one of my favorite women who very much enjoys short stories. I originally bought it with her in mind.
17. Sula by Toni Morrison
18. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
19. The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
~ So excited about finding Three Cups of Tea and The Dogs of Babel because these two are on my must-read list.
20. Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
21. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross
22. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
23. The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tolbin
24. Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker
25. Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells 26. The Waves by Virginia Woolf
I have been reading Liz's blog, Mabel's House, for a couple of years now. She is an amazing writer - her blog is one of my favorites, she's had me laughing and crying with her posts - and now she has a book coming out! I can't wait to have a copy of this in my hands!
Once one has breathed in the deep pungent aroma of sewage, you never again forget the nose-hair singeing, eye clawing, throat gagging experience. It comes over you slowly. You begin to feel like a character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as your muscles involuntarily jerk and you run screaming and blowing raspberries. Anything to get away from the mind-numbing stench.
But let me explain.
It was 6:30 a.m. I was standing in my retro pink tiled bathroom trying to open my bleary eyes and ready myself for work. As I stood there, peering into the mirror and wondering what demented nighttime fairy had planted four new wrinkles on my face, I paused and sniffed.
“Matt… what’s that smell?”
Matt staggered from the bedroom in his underwear, eyes half shut. “I don’t smell anything.”
I pointed my nose into the air like a hunting dog. “Seriously? You can’t smell that?Did you go to the bathroom in here earlier? I told you to use the room spray when you do things like that.”
Matt puffed out his bare chest and gathered his pride as best a man can with sleep in his eyes and a small hole in the side of his underwear. “I just woke up!”
I frowned, catching a glimpse of my makeup-less hot-rollers-in-hair state and tried not to think about the fact that I looked fifty instead of twenty-nine. “Well, help me figure this out. Because something smells ripe.”
We sniffed the sink drain and ruled it out as a suspect.
“Is it coming from the toilet?” Matt asked, examining it from top to bottom.
“No, that’s not it,” I snapped. I’m not known for my milk of human kindness in a disaster. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a survivor. I plan on eating my radish like Scarlet and clawing my way out of the nuclear dust while dragging my loved ones with me. But I won’t be doing it with positive phrases and a smile.
“Hon, I just don’t know. We’ll call a plumber after work, maybe it’s coming from under the house.” Matt staggered a little, trying to get past me and out of our tiny bathroom.
“Well, that’s just great,” I moved aside and pulled the shower curtain back so I could perch on the side of the tub and give Matt room to move out the door.
That’s when the full brunt of nastiness filled the air around us, a swirling mix of excrement and acrid stench that would have brought the sewer dwelling Ninja Turtles to their knees. Where the normally slightly-clean-with-a-hint-of-soap-scum bottom of the tub should have been, there sloshed gallons and gallons of brown sewage.
I clutched the front of my sweatshirt and held my breath. Matt began to dry heave.
“Get out and shut the door!” I screamed as we bumbled into the hallway.
“I’ll deal with this,” Matt grabbed my shoulders, trying to talk and hold his breath at the same time.
I could feel my eyes glaze over, the horrors of typhoid and hepatitis in our bathtub filling my mind. But more importantly, I could envision our evaporated savings account.In my mind’s eye I could see the long, gray hallway at the bank. A worker shrouded in a black suit pulled a set of keys from his pocket and unlatched a small locker labeled “Owen Bank Account.” Inside were two small stacks of quarters and a few crumpled dollar bills. It was bleak, not only because the banker with an unimaginative wardrobe gazed at me with an expression that could only be interpreted as “You’re a Big Fat Loser,” but also there was a very definite possibility we wouldn’t be able to pay for a plumber.
I wasn’t necessarily a spend thrift. In fact, I was downright frugal when it came to decorating with thrift store furniture and rewired vintage lamps. But the fact was, we were poor. We were starting out at starter jobs with starter salaries. We were starter adults with a starter bank account.
“Okay,” I nodded numbly, thankful that Matt was taking the lead on such a disastrous biohazard. “But make sure the plumber is super cheap. We don’t have much money!”
I left for work like a wino stumbling through a fog, not really remembering my commute, not really doing any work as I sipped my coffee and stared blankly at the computer screen. A disaster of such gargantuan proportions had previously been unthinkable in my life, and now I found myself attempting to push the image of a vast sea of bathtub poop from my mind. But I was sure of one thing: Anne Shirley never had to get ready for work while breathing raw sewage.
Our second day in Salt Lake City wasn't any more exciting than our first day. Mitch had conferences all afternoon and I just bummed around the hotel room. It was a nice, relaxing day of sleeping in and reading my book.
That evening we ate downtown (had a delicious Philly cheese steak sandwich and cheesy fries) and then wandered around the city for a while.
I love when cities don't forget about including trees and other greenery alongside the concrete and buildings.
Mitch after our dinner. I think the cheesy grin is a result of all the cheese he ate at dinner.
Love me some pretty buildings!
Salt Lake City has flags for pedestrians to carry across the street so they can be seen. I didn't actually cross this street but couldn't pass up a photo op. I also like that they had LOOK painted on the streets at each crosswalk. Apparently this city really cares about its pedestrians!
Unfortunately that is all I have to report on our second day! Stay tuned for Day 3!
Mitch and I were up at 3:00 in the morning to get to the local airport by 5:00; I did not think that was an appropriate time to leave for a vacation but the airlines didn’t ask me my opinion on the matter. Our group flew to Minneapolis, had a short layover, then flew to Salt Lake City.Mitch took this photo as we flew into the city.The only thing to report about the flights was that I had to sit next to a woman wearing one of the worst perfumes ever made.I don’t think people should be allowed to cover themselves in any type of scent when they are going to be in a confined space with a large group of people.
Our first afternoon and evening in Salt Lake City didn’t consist of anything too exciting.Mitch and his colleagues got checked in at the conference center, our group checked into the hotel, we walked around The Gateway (an outdoor mall), and a couple of us drove to Wal-Mart for some necessities.It was a nice day but I was sure happy when bedtime rolled around; I was exhausted!
I forgot to take photos of our hotel room, so I had to steal some off the hotel's website.
A king-size bed right next to the window. In the mornings, the sun would shine in on my side of the bed; it was a marvelous way to start the day!
We turned the dry bar into "snack central." It was much more fun that way!
I was quite impressed with our toilet seat. It was one of those fancy models that closes automatically - and slowly - with just a little nudge from the user. So entertaining!