27 March, 2009

Spring? What Spring?

I'm still waiting for it to warm up... I am grateful that the days are close to 30 - sometimes above, sometimes below, and that's loads better than a month or so ago. But March is almost over. It's supposed to be warmer. You know, sunshine... melting snow... I'm not being too greedy. I'm not asking for green grass and leaves on the trees (yet). I'm just wanting my world to warm up. Here's what this morning brought...

When I was brushing off the car this morning, the last of the rubber came off the old wiper blade on the passenger side. Fortunately I had the replacements in the car, just hadn't put them on yet. I decided I'd only change the passenger one since I'm running behind (again). I found a latch to release the old blade but for the life of me, I couldn't get it off. Didn't matter which way I flopped the blade or how I wiggled it, it wouldn't come off. So then I decided to try the driver's side. Took me less than a minute and I had it off. Must be because the mechanism was totally backwards from the other side. That and I just happened to accidentally pull down after unlatching it so it popped right off. So I was a bit late(r) to work, but my new wiper blades are super cool!! (Either that, or I've actually needed blades for quite some time and am just impressed with the way the rest of the world sees things...) Now I've got to replace the one on the back window - so I can see behind me just as well as in front. =) Yay, new blades! Boo, snow!

So what's that Spring saying: Out like a lion, in like a lamb??

24 March, 2009

Whirlwind - The Return

It's hard to believe the weekend is over already - even though I know that regular weekends go by super-quick, and extraordinary weekends would therefore go quicker. I'm trying not to think about having to be at work tomorrow morning (a thought I struggle with every Sunday...). =) Greg & Sheri made the trek to the storage container to get the couch, while I stayed at the apartment to pack (and to sleep a little longer).

From there, we split the group. Sara had lots of things to get done before work, so she stayed home while the rest of us headed out to Puyallup via the lighthouse that's in the girls' neighborhood. Greg got a cool picture of the (rather plain) lighthouse, with a smiley faced tree in the foreground. Somehow I missed that entirely. We hooked up with Holly & Corey for a late lunch at the Olive Garden. (I've yet again heard rumors that we're going to get one - but I'll believe it when I see it, I guess...)

Sheri took off after lunch to run some errands - we'll hook up with Sara & Sheri on the way to the airport for what was going to be dinner, but will instead be desserts (since I was full of bread sticks and salad). Anyhow, Greg got in the rest of his shopping, and then we found a cache in a nearby park to give Holly,Corey, and the boyos their first find.

It was nice to spend the afternoon with them. I only wish we'd had more time. I always wish we had more time. More time for visiting, more time to spend with family, more time at the museum, more time to watch the leaves bloom.

We made it to the airport about an hour before the flight. Were intending to be there sooner, but we spent too much time visiting. I'd rather spend the time visiting than sitting in the airport reading and waiting. We were lucky and made it through security and to the gate with plenty of time to spare. Had enough time to pause and take a picture of a new vending machine. Lotto tickets from a vending machine - who'd have thought? =)

After note: Stacy was so kind as to pick us up at the airport at midnight - not just at the curb, but she actually parked and was waiting at baggage claim for us. How sweet! We got home just fine, and were unwinding (Greg was shoveling the snow that fell while we were gone) when I got a call from work. The volcano erupted earlier tonight - I need to go in to cover computers (I posted earlier here). How fortuitous! If I'd already gone to bed, I wouldn't have had my cell phone and would have missed the call. Additionally, flights after ours were rerouted or returned - so we were apparently lucky to have arrived at all. Looks like I'm back to work a little earlier than expected...

It was a *fantastic* weekend - a total blast! And now it's time to get back to my regularly scheduled life.

Whirlwind - Day Three, Experience & Roller Derby

The girls have some really nice views where they live. Greg went running in the mornings to continue his marathon training. Since my camera is easier to carry when you're running, I have the shots he took. Unfortunately, my camera is not as good as his, so most are pretty blurry. There are a couple that turned out good. This is one:
Sheri had a morning work meeting, so Jeannea (great sport that she is) and Greg took her so Sara & I could get a little more sleep. We met for a late breakfast before heading into Seattle. Off to see another floating bridge, a troll, and The Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. Long name, cool place! Check out the site here. The troll under the bridge was a geocache (of course), but it was much cooler than I expected. Actually, I'm not sure what I expected, but not a 20' tall stone sculpture hidden under a bridge close to downtown Seattle. If you look closely, it has a car under it's left hand (the one Sheri is standing on), and a hubcap for an eye. On the way back to the car, we saw several of those pretty pink trees that are in bloom everywhere (in contrast to back home, where everything is still covered in snow and not even *thinking* about blooming yet).

From there, it was just a matter of maybe 10 minutes to downtown Seattle, where we were meeting Holly & the boys at The Experience Music Project & Science Fiction Museum. I need to go again, with more time. At least a day. If I get done sooner, I can wander downtown for fun places to eat or sights to see, but I need that time. I took in the visual aspects, but there was lots of reading or listening that I skipped, in the interest of time. Places to be this evening. We did the whole SciFi section (quickly), but didn't make it through the entire music section. Plenty of cool things to see, but there was lots I missed too. Next time. It was great to get to spend some time with Holly and the boys - I really appreciate that they made the effort and braved the traffic to meet us there.

The guitar scuplture is actually programmed to play music. They have listening stations set up so you can hear what's playing. There's also a basement or lower floor that we didn't even get to - Greg and his tag-along buddy found that we'd missed the entire first floor. And Holly, Sheri, and I (and our tag-along buddy) didn't even finish the second floor (that I thought was the first floor) before we headed up to the next level. All in all, a great time - but I need to go back and see/hear/experience more. There's even an el (train, monorail, elevated bus on a track, whatever) that goes through the upper part of the building - I want to try that!
Holly & me =)

Greg & the boyos

We had to cut the afternoon short, since we had to journey to Lynnwood (Edmonds Community College) for... ROLLER DERBY!!!! Wahoo!! Our Anchorage team (Rage City Roller Girls) had an "away game", and so Greg & I introduced Jeannea, Sara, & Sheri to their first game of roller derby. It was an absolute blast!! Although I do have to say that I think we do things better in Alaska. The crowd in general, that is. We're more energetic, enthusiastic, and excited. And we have a beer garden. Wahoo!! ;) Our girls didn't win, but they played hard and did exceptionally well - seeing as this was their 4th bout ever and they were playing the regional champions. I'm excited for the next bout (April 11th), but a little bummed that Sara will be gone already and Jeannea won't be here yet - so neither will get to experience roller derby Alaska Style. Oh well. There'll be more chances... Greg was photographing the event, so my pictures are courtesy of him.

After the bout, we went to the "after party" for the teams. Didn't do much socializing (the girls and I didn't - Greg wandered here & there to visit with lots of people, as is his style) because it was hard to find a seat, and then really loud so conversation wasn't really feasible. We did get to chat with Mr. & Mrs. Furious (the first time I've actually met Mrs. Furious, although I've heard about her several times from Greg) for a bit, and spent the rest of the evening doing our own renditions of the karaoke songs being played... Overall, it was an enjoyable end to the evening. I've been having a blast spending time with the girls!!
The Girls
(picture courtesy of Greg)

On tap for tomorrow: domestic chores (moving a couch, packing), visit Holly & Corey in Puyallup, time to go home...

23 March, 2009

Volcano Interruption

We now interrupt the posts about our trip to Seattle for a Volcano Update...

Mt. Redoubt has finally erupted. We made it home okay, but I found out that several flights due to arrive after ours were sent back. We were home by around midnight, and I received a call shortly thereafter from work. Seems our emergency contingency plan had been activated. Off to work I go!

The computers are covered and we're ready for ash fall, but it looks like Anchorage may dodge that bullet - the cloud is headed north of us, to the MatSu Valley and beyond. But in case winds change, we're ready.

Time for bed...

22 March, 2009

Whirlwind - Day Two, Sara's Birthday

Today was a busy, busy day - but *loads* of fun! We broke fast together at Sara's favorite breakfast joint, Black Bear Diner. The food was good, and they have some of the biggest biscuits I've ever seen!

We made reservations for dinner - three times, since I set one up for only 4 and we actually have 5 people. I called back to adjust the number in the party, but there wasn't a table to accommodate 5 until much later, so I canceled. Called back one more time because we decided the later time would actually work just fine for all of us. With that worked out, our group split up. Greg & Jeannea went caching and Sara & I went shopping. I found a milk vending machine at the mall - and they have leather couches for weary shoppers to rest on! Way more fancy that the wooden benches I'm used to.

From there, we hooked up with Sheri - she got off work early so she could spend a little more time with us while we were visiting. Yay! She's been in her new position for just a few weeks, so I got to see her new store and we went to a late lunch at one of the places within walking distance. The area she works in has lots of options for dining and a cool skyline. I took some pictures of some of the interesting looking buildings - I'll be updating my Flikr site with the extra pictures that I don't post here.

I also like that there are sculptures decorating the plazas and open areas. It's a very aesthetically pleasing area. Sher - I hope things go well for you in the new position and that you enjoy it! =)

We spent a few hours at the Rock Bottom Brewery, where we had lunch and visited. The three of us spent lots of time laughing... I don't even remember what we were laughing about, just that at one point Sheri was laughing so hard she was silent (and crying). Ahhh, fun times!

I like the cool architecture of the area and that there's so many things to go do and see. But you really have to plan for traveling. When I plan for things here, if I've got an extra hour I can go home - there, it would take almost an hour to get home, then you'd be late for wherever you were intending to go. And traffic. Here rush hour traffic can be a pain. But there? Rush hour traffic makes a 35 minute commute into almost two hours. Man, that's harsh! Definitely pays to live in the area you work in - but sometimes that's not feasible, so you're forced to spend more of your precious free time traveling in a car.

Those are some pretty big drawbacks, but I also noticed some pretty cool things too. Already mentioned the architecture and the soccer games at 11pm in March (previous post). I was also watching the world green up and bloom. In just the few days we were there, I saw leaves pop out and flowers bloom. In contrast to the cold and snow back home, it was extremely nice to enjoy wearing jackets. Even the rain wasn't that bad, since it was warm and changed to sunshine often enough that I was glad I brought sunglasses.

So we headed downtown to meet Greg & Jeannea for dinner. Sara took the route over the floating bridge - pretty cool. (I guess they've got more than one floating bridge, since we went over a different one on Saturday. Not something I would've thought of, since all our big water is tidal, so you can't build the bridges on the water. But floating bridges apparently work just fine over enclosed lake waters.) Got to park at Sara's work (and Jeannea's - they work for the same company) and walk a few blocks to the Space Needle. The Seattle skyline is another really cool view. We finished out the evening at the Space Needle. We arrived early enough that we could check out the view before the sun went down, and again after dinner when it was dark. An amazing view. Of the 1 to 2 dozen pictures I took, only four turned out because I just have the cheesy point-and-shoot camera (but it suits me, and I can fit it in my pocket instead of carrying a whole bag devoted to a camera and camera accessories - looks like I'm not getting into advanced photography anytime soon). The ones that turned out are pretty cool.

On tap for tomorrow: The Experience (Music Project and Science Fiction Museum) in downtown Seattle - Holly and boys are meeting us there; then roller derby - yeah, baby!

20 March, 2009

The Whirlwind Begins (Thursday)

I meant to get up earlier today, so I could get some stuff done before we left. I meant to leave work by 4pm, so I could be home, packed, and we could be at the airport by 5pm. I meant to eat dinner before we left the airport. The best laid plans of mice and men...
From the airplane
I got the last of my laundry in the dryer before I left for work. Then, after balancing meetings and last minute projects, and the daily minutia I left work by 4:20pm. (I really should tell myself to leave at least a half hour before I need to - that way maybe I'd be on time. Even though I know the "real" time I have to leave, if I'm aiming for earlier, maybe it would help me get out when I should instead of 20-30 minutes late... Can I trick myself? Can I tell myself one thing and know that I really mean something else and have it work out? Who knows, but maybe I should give it a shot next time...) Anyhow, now we're not so far behind, but not where I wanted to be either. James was at the house to pick us up before I even got home.
Dinner is served!

Packing went quickly, but since I didn't write things down we left things home. Meant to bring Jeannea's mail to her. We'll have to ship it. Meant to bring the sausage Greg picked up for someone. It's still in the freezer. Meant to have the last glass of apple beer from the growler. Will have to dump it out when we get home. Oh well. We made the flight. Yay!
Interesting airport finds

The flight went smoothly, and I got to read ~100 pages in a book that's been sitting on my desk for almost a year. That'll teach people to loan me books! =) Found a new vending machine in the Seattle airport - an equipment charger. Hmmm. That's new - but I can *totally* see how it might be handy. And we found the Alaska Lodge. Looks like it's a little food/bar joint. Had some neat pictures on the wall, but I wonder how "Alaskan" it really is. =)

Weather here is cloudy and rainy - but at 11pm it was 50 degrees. I'll take warm rain!! On the way to the apartment, we also passed people playing soccer. Won't see that back home. We won't even see soccer during the middle of the day for quite a while - since the fields have to thaw and dry out - let alone 11pm... Anyhow, we've settled in and made plans for tomorrow, so it's time to hit the sack.
Nice view from the apartment.

On tap for tomorrow: Breakfast for sustenance and then the split. Jeannea & Greg are geocaching all day; Sara & I are shopping then hooking up with Sheri for more fun. We all convene for dinner at the Space Needle to celebrate Sara's birthday. Yay!!

09 March, 2009

Spring Dreams

I keep thinking that March means it's supposed to get warmer. Last week was not an example of that. Blue skies and sunshine - I was hoping that would mean a severe reduction in snow. But nope. Oh well. Maybe this week the thaw will start...

To my disappointment, it was snowing this morning. Not only did I lose an hour of sleep for Daylight Savings Time, but it's been cold and now it's snowing. I mean, COME ON ALREADY!! For goodness sake, it's March - time for melting and a little more warmth, not more snow! Anyhow, as I was checking out the flakes through the sliding glass door, I noticed we had a visitor in the back yard.

We've had evidence of visitors earlier (darn moose poop!), but I didn't see the culprit. I was a little late for work because I decided I needed to get the shot instead of dash off to work. Turns out that was okay, since roads were super slick and it was nice to have fewer cars on the road. I really will be glad when it starts getting warmer, but it's fun to see the wildlife in the midst of my suburbia.

08 March, 2009

Picture in Picture

Greg submitted several of his pictures to the Fur Rondy Photo Contest. Since yesterday was the last day on display, I figured I'd better head down to check them out. He won second in the color/sports, and three of his photos were Selected For Exhibition. I took pictures of his pictures to post on my blog.
They aren't nearly as nice as looking at the real deal. Mostly because they're shrink-wrapped, so when I took the shot the flash is reflected in the picture. Or if I didn't have the flash on, they're a bit grainy (in some of them I could see my reflection).
I tried to make sure to get the label that has his name on it. And I didn't compress the pictures, so if you click on them you'll get the full size. I'm going to see if I can get the prize winning picture in digital form to post, so you can see more than my flash and a pale echo.
Side note: We might be officially crazy up here. Maybe something to do with the cold and dark? I mean, people dress in costume to run a 5k, they run with reindeer, they race outhouses, they plunge into frigid water for fun, and there's a fur bikini contest. Don't believe me? Check out the photos (courtesy of the Anchorage Daily News) here.

01 March, 2009

Derby Madness

Last night was another derby night - wahoo! I took my camera, but the little point & shoot just doesn't cut it. I've attached one that I took, just because I finally got a shot that I was trying for. The shutter takes a bit, so when there's action I have to start taking the picture before the subject is even in the frame. This was the third try at getting Mr. Furious doing his warm up laps. Dark and he's almost out of the shot already. (In the first two, he's nowhere in the shot at all.)

So the rest of the photos are courtesy of Greg, who was taking pictures for the bout again. While he was wandering around the arena trying to get good shots, I was sitting in the bleachers rooting for whomever was making a move at the time. I'm primarily rooting for the Dirty Pollis, but the Sockeye Sallys can put on some good moves too. And most times it doesn't matter who's doing what, it's just so darn exciting that I have to cheer! =) My last post about roller derby (here) has some basics.

We went early again. If you try to show up 10-15 minutes before it starts, you won't find anywhere to sit. It's amazing how many people show up for roller derby. I'm not sure how other people found out about it, but I'm glad we did. Since Greg works with Mr. Furious during his day job (and they're both training for a marathon), we get our information from him. I'm impressed that Mr. Furious made it through the entire day. It can't be easy to start the day with a 5k run, and end it reffing the roller derby. Lots of work, that.

We're going to be in Seattle for the next bout - but so will the Rage City Roller Girls. Yay! They're travelling Outside for the March bout, back in Anchorage for April. We taking the Seattle fam with us, to introduce them to the fun.