31 May, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

I finally made it to the first campout of the summer...  Yay!!!  This week was a madhouse of preparation (since we didn't get any of the prep work done the weekend before).  Had to pull out all the gear, go through what we have to see if we need to re-stock, go shopping for supplies, and stay on top of regular house chores too.  On top of that, we had to be ready to go a day early.  Because it's a holiday weekend and Bird Creek campground is close to town, we figured that we'd need to get a site Thursday night instead of waiting until Friday.  But that also means that someone had to spend the night at the site - since Greg is still on the early shift (4am - noon), that means me.
It was nice that Anna could come out with me for the night - good company, and I slept a little easier with someone else around.  On the way out, we stopped at Turnagain Arm Pit.  It's a little barbecue joint just down the road from the camp site. Turns out we ate there three times this weekend... must be good food!!  Greg helped get the fire going and stayed to visit for a bit, then Anna and I spent the evening visiting and playing games.
It's a good thing we got the site early - by the time we arrived for the weekend on Friday evening, there was no place available.  Greg may have been able to get something earlier in the day, but it may have been full by then too.  It sure looked full Friday morning as I was driving out to go (home to shower, and then) to work.
Friday afternoon, we loaded up the rest of the gear and headed out with James - stopping first at Turnagain Arm Pit for dinner (fried pickles are delish!).  First order of business: finish setting up camp.  This time we brought the food and all the other niceties for camping.
Saturday was a lovely day.  My whole goal for the weekend was to spend it around a fire.  In that vein, I brought four books and an electronic Sudoku game.  When the boys geared up for their hike, I settled in to do some serious reading.  Got through the first book - a romance novel.  Turns out I'm getting pretty finicky about the romance novels I read.  I like to have strong characters and a believable plot (am I asking too much?).  This one was rather disappointing.  (I can't see a 19th century 9-year-old falling in love, first off; the rest of the book was devoted to how she convinced said love-of-her-life to overcome his trepidations, fall in love with her, and live happily ever after.)
I made chili for the returning hikers, and we had a nice dinner before settling around the campfire... to read.  Not a very rousing evening, but extremely relaxing and I'm guessing all the exertion James and Greg expended on the hike (they were gone for almost seven hours) tuckered them out.  The second book was better (an adventure regarding a secret society and mistaken identity) - finished that one off early Sunday morning.  With all the light now, it's easy to forget how late it is.  Besides, we had the campfire and a lantern.
Sunday was another laid-back day.  Stacy came out to visit and go geocaching with the boys, then we settled in for a serious game of Killer Bunnies.  Took a while to play, since the carrots kept getting returned to market and bunnies were getting snuffed left and right.  Rule Number One (when playing Killer Bunnies): Everyone at the table will remain friends after the game, regardless of any plays.  =)  After some napping and more reading, we played more games (Hand and Foot), then settled around the campfire for... more reading.  I made it more than half way through my third book - a mystery/suspense novel.  Somehow I accidentally picked up the second book by this author, so I'm going to go get the first one and read it soon.  This one was a trade paperback - so even though it looks the same thickness as the others, it's actually at least 100 pages longer and it's taking more time to get through.
Now it's Monday.  Time to pack up the gear and go back to "real" life.  No more sitting around the campfire, enjoying the lovely weather and being away from all the hustle and bustle.  Bonuses are that I'm clean again, and I get to sleep in my bed.  I'm not sure how much camping we'll get in this summer - we're going to Seattle over 4th of July weekend, and Greg has a hiking trip planned over Labor Day.  I surely do hope this isn't our only trip, but if it was, it was practically perfect!

23 May, 2010

Flower Power

We're enjoying some really nice weather this weekend.  Which means it's time to start thinking about planting flowers... which in turn means a trip out to Forget Me Not Nursery in Indian.  What a lovely trip!!
I wanted to get my flowers a little earlier this year than last, when I waited until after Memorial Day weekend (and our first camping trip of the season) - by then, it was slim pickin's everywhere I went for flowers.  For this year, going earlier meant this weekend (since next weekend we're camping - yay!!), and it was perfect for a road trip.
Forget Me Not Nursery is about 30 minutes south of Anchorage.  The drive is along the Turnagain Arm (in Cook Inlet), where at various times you can either see whales, dahl sheep, cliff climbers, and mini waterfalls.  It's a gorgeous area.  The nursery has a new flower display every year.  Last year, the flowers made a clock (see my post here), this year it's a sailboat.
The people are really friendly and the flowers are always well-tended.  I found a fairly good selection, and I'm pleased with my purchases.  If I'd come even earlier, there would've been some other items that I was interested in (like the purple - or "blue" that looks deep purple - supertunias).  As it was, I got a good selection and I'm getting excited to plant my flowers...
The rest of the evening was also very enjoyable.  We met friends for dinner to celebrate Anita's birthday - hope it was a good one, my friend! - then did a little geocaching.  We introduced two n00bs to the game... Apparently there's a geocaching app for the iPhone ("there's an app for that").  Not sure how accurate it is compared to a standard GPS, but it sure is handy.  =)
My favorite part of caching is the sights I realize I would've missed, had I stayed home.  Last night was no exception.  It was a beautiful night, and Sleeping Lady was out in all her grandeur.  I couldn't ask for a better way to end an exceptional day!

19 May, 2010

Doors Galore

Way back in January we put in the office door, then took it out again in February because of the flooring.  Since then, we've also removed the pantry door (but not the bathroom door, thank goodness!).  Now that the flooring is done, it's time to put the doors in so we can get the trim done.

Doors are tricky.  The concept is relatively straight forward, but the execution is tougher.  I understand that the shims are to hold space between the frame.  I understand that the door frame is not necessarily square, so the gap going 'round jamb will not be uniform.  All this gap stuff is important because it determines how the door opens & closes; if the door handle tongue lines up with the slot in the jamb; whether or not the door sticks when it closes.  It all comes down to  shims and gaps - they're what's responsible for the ease-of-use for doors.
Pantry Door
 Understanding the theory, and putting it to use are two entirely different aspects of door installation.  I get the theory.  I'm not so good at the execution.  For the life of me, I can't figure out the gap stuff.  I mean, I know if I put in a shim it'll hold a particular size gap.  That gap will adjust the fit of the door in its frame.  But if I put the shim in low, does it affect something on the opposite side, higher up?  Or does it affect the same side, low-down?  Or will it have something to do with the middle?  It's got to have some logic, like pool - hit the cue ball in one way at a particular angle and you get a predictable result.  For the life of me, I can't figure out the shims and gaps of door installation.  Good thing that's part of Greg's job...
Office Door
I honestly tried to be extra helpful installing the doors.  I don't think I made it.  Part way through, I told Greg I was going to make brownies and to let me know when he needed my help.  I did some holding-this here, and some checking-that there, but otherwise it was all Greg.  Two doors done the first night.  Only the bathroom door left - and for that we have to remove the old door so we can install the new solid-core door (for extra privacy in the privy).
Bathroom Door
Looks like James came over to help with the bathroom door.  I'm seriously grateful, as I was *not* looking forward to trying to figure out how to gap and shim the solid door.  Sure, Greg would've done most of it, but it would be my brain exploding because it was trying (and failing) - yet again - to grasp something outside its sphere of knowledge.  So I left for work one morning, then when I came home the door was installed (as if by magic) and I had new pictures on the camera that include James.  It's done.  Yay!!
Installing Trim
And now we're installing the trim.  I thought we'd start in the office - so we can get that room completely done.  That's what I get for thinking.  Greg pointed out that it's smarter to start in the living room area, so we don't have to move stuff around a bunch of times.  Good point.  Progress is slower than ever because it's summer and we're currently enjoying some really nice weather.  Who wants to work indoors when you can be out in this weather??

08 May, 2010

Saturday *SUMMER* Saunter & Sweat

After only a week or two of "spring", it looks like we're moving right into summer - yay!!  Today's weather was absolutely gorgeous.  Couldn't have asked for better - clear skies, mid-50s... a practically perfect day.  And I spent a large portion of the day enjoying being outdoors.
During the summer, I sign up for as many charity walks as I can.  I figure it gets me out and moving, and I'm helping to support some good causes.  Today's walk was in Kincaid Park, Amblin' for Alzheimer's.  I can tell it's a little cooler in that part of town, since the leaves aren't as far developed.  On my side of town, we're getting the "green sheen" - where if you squint or look out of the corner of your eye, you see the lime green of new leaves as a mist over the bare tree limbs.  In a couple weeks, it'll be the darker green of full-grown leaves.  Ahhhh, sweet anticipation...
When I was done walking, it was still *way* too nice to sit inside, so I figured I'd rake the yard.  Get some sun and at the same time get the leaves cleaned up.  I even bared my scaly, hairy, brighter-than-the-sun legs, in hopes that I get a little color.  I plan on attending to the hairy and scaly bits (lotion and a razor will work wonders) since that's fixable, but my legs haven't been other than blindingly white for years.  (Well, in Florida a couple years ago, I think I got them a lovely shade of lobster red, but once that was gone it was back to shiny-white.)  I don't know that there's any hope for changing that, but ever the optimist, every year I expose them (and other people - amazingly there aren't more wrecks noted at that same time).
I should've been thinking about prepping for raking earlier.  I like using the fan-type leaf rake.  When I got down to the yard, I found four - yes, four... and why is it that a household of two with only one yard needs four (potentially five) rakes, you might ask?  I'm asking too, and don't have an answer yet.  Anyhow.  Four of the 16-tine metal rakes, and not one leaf rake.  I remember it was plastic and a tine or two was broken - must have gotten rid of it last fall and neglected to get a replacement.
Let me tell you, raking with the leaf rake is much more enjoyable - if any raking can be considered enjoyable after the first five minutes. I can definitely tell I don't do manual labor for my living.  One rake, two blisters, three dead mosquitoes (no bites that I'm aware of - slapped myself silly before they could take a sip), and an hour-and-a-half later, it's done.  (Except for the bagging - I'm waiting for Greg to help me with that... I'll let him grab up the moose poop that's buried in the leaves while I hold the garbage bag open.)  =)
Another sign that summer is here.  With weather like today, I'm starting to think about my flower pots.  It's a little early yet - probably won't do any planting until after Memorial Day weekend, but this year I'll probably buy them beforehand so I have a bigger selection. I hope this summer is a nice one!!  =)

02 May, 2010

While You Were Out

Greg has been gone all week.  He went down to Florida for some Blackberry training for work.  I wish I could've gone with him - I would've spent his whole training time down in Davie with Chad, Angie, Abby, and Max, then hooked up with him for the fun bits.  =)  I'm glad he was approved for the training, and I'm glad he got to tack on a couple extra days to do some of the fun stuff while he was there.  (He'd better be bringing me updated pictures of my cousins, or he's in *big* trouble...)

While he was gone, I fully intended to be productive.  And I was.  Just not on all the house stuff that was my original plan.  Instead I...
...bakes cookies and went to Chachee's birthday party.  Yay, Chachee!!  =)  I spent the rest of the weekend with Anita, shopping and playing and quilting.  Then I...
...stayed up late visiting, so when I got home I took a cool picture of the moon as it was sliding behind the clouds and infusing the edges in a faerie glow.

I did take a little time to get the kitchen boxes unpacked and back into the cabinets.  They're in place for the summer, so I started putting the kitchen back together.  One night of house-productivity.  Then on to more visiting.  M and I had a nice chat on Saturday.  I really should call her more often, as I love talking to her - it always makes my day!  And then, this weekend...
 ...Nita and I made more cookies to send to family (Jeannea & Sara, watch for your packages - we mailed them today...).  I also had to go in to work today - that's my excuse for not getting any painting done (today, anyway).  I also got a picture of the buds on the trees.  It's finally getting warm enough that things are starting to bloom.  Spring is here - YAY!!
I'm glad he got to go and I hope he had a good time, but I'm even happier that he's coming home tonight.  I've missed him.