Monday, October 23, 2006

It's Pumpkin Carving Day!

October 23rd is another anniversary date for Cranky and me. In 1992, we were living in Tacoma Washington. I was only days away from being released from active duty (Air Force) and Cranky was leaving the next day on a 2-week military exercise in Las Vegas. That afternoon we decided to carve a pumpkin for Halloween since we wouldn't be together. It was a work of art!

That night we went to a keg party at a friend's house and had a great time. We went back to Cranky's house in his Cadillac, with Frank Sinatra in the tape player. He pulled up in front of the house. We were talking for a bit before getting out of the car and Cranky says, "Hey, would you consider marrying me?". I immediately replied, "Yah, sure!" He gave me a that-was-an-awfully-quick-answer look and I realized he was proposing. He said "CONSIDER"! I thought it was a hypothetical question. We both chuckled and I asked if he was serious.

He was and my answer still stood.

We went into the house, lit the jack-o-lantern, and talked by the light of the flickering candle. The next morning he went off to Vegas and I went home with the pumpkin, wondering if we were really engaged or if it was just a helluva keg party. He told me later that he almost asked when we were in Wayne's garage, getting a beer from the keg!

I'm glad we were in the cadillac. Sinatra was a nice touch too...

Anyway, the rest is pretty much history. Since that night we've tried to carve the pumpkin on October 23rd every year. Cranky does the carving, and I scoop out the guts.

Left to right: Family pumpkin, Bob's pumpkin (face drawn by Mary), Raymond's and Mary's pumpkins.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Skunk Update: Skunk 6, Yankees 0

Man that skunk got us good! Cranky smelled like skunk at work, the kids smelled like skunk at school and Bob and I smelled like skunk at the supermarket. (One thing you can always count on in NH is an honest evaluation of your scent. It's one of the things I like about it here.) Clearly Sally was not the only loser in the battle!

Mary even changed into her gym clothes and washed her clothes in Home Economics. Luckily it's not really cold today. We have the windows open, vinegar out in bowls around the house, and some wonderful scented candles lit. We brewed coffee and I'm thinking about making Jessica's apple cake or a pumpkin pie.


Skunk 1, Sally 0

I got home last night from a 6-day work trip. I woke up this morning better rested and ready to start my day. I came downstairs with the boys shortly after 6 am and let Sally outside. I heard her bark, which was unusual so I turned on the outside lights to see what was going on. While looking for her, I was suddenly overcome with skunk smell! You've GOT to be kidding me! I called Sally in to the mudroom and wiped off her face and in particular, her right eye. She was squinting with that eye and I'm assuming she took a direct hit there.

I can't believe how quickly that smell traveled throughout the house, despite containing her in the mudroom. I opened the garage door for fresh air and now that smells too. Cranky woke up and said he could smell it right away, all the way upstairs. By that time I was spraying Febreze on her, hoping to neutralize some of the smell. (I read online that it helps. It didn't.)

This is not how I wanted to start my morning. I hadn't even poured my cup of coffee yet! I got the kids out to the bus stop at 7:15 and gave Sally a bath. I read that hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and a little dish soap is a good way to clean skunk spray. Sally hates getting a bath so I had her hitched to a fence post. She actually put up with it better than she normally does. I don't think she liked the smell much either so she even cooperated when I was scrubbing her face.

Here she is looking humble after being scrubbed:

Tomorrow I am flying to Atlanta to pick up a friend's dog. Toby will be staying with us for 2 months while his family is in Australia. When he meets Sally on Sunday I hope he doesn't think, "Girl, you need to wash now and then!"

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's Greek to Me! Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I was in Athens. I had a 2-day layover, so I did a little sightseeing. It's a beautiful time of year there, still very warm and sunny but not oppressively hot. This is a picture of Mount Lycabettus near our hotel. Surprisingly, it doesn't take very long to climb to the top.

There is a small chapel on top. I was up here around 10 am and this old lady was scrubbing the marble. She was grumbling and periodically yelling in Greek. I quickly decided that I would not want to tangle with her:

Here is the view of the acropolis from the trail on the way up (I was initially pissed off that this tree was blocking an awesome view, but once I got a little bit into the tree, I got a pretty nice shot. Wouldn't you agree?)

The next thing I did was go up to the acropolis. We just started walking toward it since the street signs are difficult to read. We climbed up through this area of houses and eventually found the trail to the acropolis entrance.

The "streets" were narrow between the houses, which were mostly empty.

Here is the Parthenon:

And the Erechtheion:

You can see the porch of the Caryatids on the corner. Here is a better picture:

Here is another picture of Mount Lycabettus from the top of the acropolis.

Here is the Herodion Theater. It is on the hillside below the acropolis.

This is the temple of Hephaestus(also called the Thission) It is in an area called the ancient agora. It was built in 449 BC.

This is temple of Olympian Zeus, built from 124-132 AD. There are not very many columns remaining (I think there were 84 originally), but they are the biggest ones I saw in Athens. This was VERY impressive.

This is Hadrian's Gate, built in 131-132 AD. It divided the old part of Athens from the new part. The inscription on the acropolis side says, "This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus" and on the new side it says, "This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus". I wonder if Hadrian was one of those emperors who was height-challenged...

Here is the acropolis with Hadrian's Gate in the foreground. I took this picture while standing near the temple of Zeus. I thought this was one of the best views.

While we were there, a peace march was scheduled to be going by our hotel on the way to the US Embassy. The Greek police had their riot gear on and were gathering in an alcove at the entrance of our hotel. I took my camera out there, but the hotel manager said it would not be a good idea to take a picture of them. He also said I should not go outside during the march because it might be dangerous. I hung around the lobby, hoping to get a picture, but ended up going to the pool instead. I read my book and swam a few laps before heading out to dinner.

After dinner, the evening view of the acropolis was great. In the foreground is an octagonal tower called the Tower of Winds. It is near the entrance of the Roman Agorà. It was built in the first half of the 1st century B.C. by the astronomer Andronicos.

That's a little of what I saw on this trip. I hope you liked it.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Columbus Day Weekend

It was a busy weekend. We started off in Rhode Island at Great-Grammy's funeral. It was a sad event but she was 90 years old and we know she is now at peace. She was a remarkable and lively woman until very recently and it was difficult to see her in declining health. Here is a picture of her with Mary and Raymond taken last winter at Christmas time.

And having a very deep conversation with Bob:

Cranky and the kids cleaned up nice for the funeral though.

I rounded out the holiday weekend on a happier note. Today I ran in the Tufts 10K race in Boston. It was a beautiful sunny day, maybe a little too warm! I went with my friend Lynn (below, with me before the race) and her sister-in-law, Penny. It was the 30th running of the race and is one of the largest all-women races in the country. We drove to Cambridge early this morning and took the "T" to Boston Common. We had time to pick up our numbers and browse the sponsor booths, where we picked up a lot of goodies. Then we were ready to run!

Here is a picture I took while at the starting line. This is the line of people in front of me.

Here is the group behind me:

I started with the 8 minute/mile pace group. The first mile of the race was slow and crowded. There were a lot of people running slowly that were supposed to start in the back. I used a lot of energy getting past them and lost a lot of time despite the effort. Oh well. I was mostly there for the experience. I'm out of shape so I just wanted to run a good race and have FUN!

My time was 52:39, and I turned out to be 690 overall. There were around 7000 that started the race, but I only saw 6043 names on the results list. I wish I had done better -- maybe next year...

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Happy Birthday Raymond!

Tomorrow is Raymond's 7th birthday. We celebrated it today, however, since we need to go to Rhode Island tomorrow.

His first grade class went on a field trip to a local apple orchard today. I went with them and it was a good time. I learned that if you plant apple seeds, you will not necessarily get the same kind of apple, and more likely you will get a tree that doesn't give fruit at all. The trees in the orchard had been grafted. They take a branch of a tree and graft it to the root of another. The root determines the size of the tree and the branch determines the type of apple. These grafted trees will often bear fruit just 2 years after the grafting. Cool huh?

I ate a couple of apples and came home with a 1/2 peck more. I love crunchy apples and there's really nothing like a fresh picked apple. Mmmm....

It was a cool windy day but it was sunny! Here's Raymond:

Tonight we had a bonfire birthday party for him. Pizza, cake and a fire to keep warm. Here are Raymond and his friends eating pizza on a big rock in the yard. We all had a good time.

Great-grammy's funeral is on Saturday. Bob told me he can sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to make everybody feel better. (Actually I think he wanted to make great-grammy feel better, not realizing what death means.) Our hotel has internet access so I'll try to catch up on my blogging.

I'm also running in the Tufts 10K on Monday. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

I've been so busy lately, I almost didn't notice how the leaves have changed. Here's what our backyard looked like today.

Between working and everyday chores, Cranky and I managed to remodel our front entryway. The door wasn't sealed correctly when the house was built and the floor was rotting out. Even though the front door is rarely used, the carpet there needed to go too. So here is what we did.

I forgot to take a picture before we started the project. In this picture the I had removed the trim and had cut away at the carpet to see how much of the floor was damaged.

We ripped up the rug and removed the heater covers. Cranky removed part of the front porch and the prep work was done.

All in one day, Cranky removed and replaced the front door and the rotted floor. He went to town on this door and had it out in no time.

Then he needed to replace the rotted part of the floor.

Bob likes to "help" with the projects and he is very good with a hammer:

Cranky is the master when it comes to squaring up a door. At this point, he was ready for this to be finished. It had been a long day!

I was only Cranky's helper up until this point, but once the door was in, it was my turn to work. First, I insulated the wall and put up new sheetrock:

After putting down Wonderboard (concrete underlayment board with fiberglass mesh), I started laying the tiles.

I let the mortar cure for a day and then it was time to for grout. I ended up with a couple blisters on my hand from this part.

Yesterday I sealed the grout and today I put up the trim. Here's the final product:

In other news: Raymond will turn 7 on Friday, so we are having a bon fire - birthday party Thursday night. We originally planned it for Friday night, but we received sad news on Monday morning. Cranky's grandmother died and we will be going to Rhode Island on Friday for the services. She was 90 years old and a wonderful lady.

So I'm trying to get set up for Raymond's birthday party and get ready for his Great-Grammy's funeral. A tiring and emotional week.