Monday, June 23, 2008

TGI Monday

I have a very unhealthy relationship with weekends, and I'm usually glad when they're over. This weekend was typical.

Friday evening The Husband and I celebrated our anniversary with a fancy dinner and a bottle of champagne. I stayed up way too late and had a little too much to drink and woke up around noon on Saturday slightly hung-over. So, I huddled on the couch like a big inanimate lump until I fell back asleep around 3. I didn't wake up until dinner. Of course, then I felt all groggy and did nothing but loll on the couch some more. I couldn't fall asleep until late, so I woke up late again on Sunday, and the whole cycle started again.

I wake up with a headache from sleeping so late, so all I want to do is lie around feeling sorry for myself. Getting up and acting like a person instead of some sort of pre-motile protoplasm would make me feel 100% better, but the longer I allow my butt to fuse with the couch the stiffer and achier and more depressed I feel, which makes it exponentially harder to accomplish the simple task of putting on some shoes and going outside or picking up the phone when someone calls wanting to do something fun.

My problem is just unvarnished laziness, but once the week starts, even if I don't have a work assignment for the day, I feel the need to get up in the morning and accomplish at least a few small tasks to justify my existence. Even then I usually wish I had done more with my day.

My lack of self-discipline makes me feel bad about myself, and then feeling bad about myself makes me depressed, and then feeling depressed makes me want to lie around and mope, which totally wrecks my self-discipline, and so on and so on and shooby dooby doo wah. Any one up for delivering the swift kick in the ass I obviously need for being so pathetic?

Since y'all are probably all at work or busy not being pitiful, I'll give myself the inaugural butt kicking. Right this second, I am firing up the woefully neglected elliptical machine and getting some freaking exercise. Then I'm going to close the laptop for the rest of the day until I've achieved at least three productive things. I'm pretty sure internet withdrawal isn't fatal, but I'm going to risk it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yet Another Year of Marital Bliss

Yesterday was our third wedding anniversary. We enjoyed a nice, laid-back evening together. He brought me roses, and I gave him some books and baked banana bread for him. I made tacos for dinner. We're both great fans of tacos.

We will go out to celebrate on Friday evening with a fancy schmancy dinner at The Old Warsaw, which supposedly offers "ultimate French continental cuisine." X-treme fine dining! The restaurant is associated with the Maple Manor Hotel next door where we got married and catered our tasty tasty reception dinner.

Last year I posted some of our wedding pictures. This year I'll share some photos from our honeymoon cruise to Alaska.

Here we are, sailing away from Seattle, towards...

Juneau, Alaska

From there we took a tour to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was beautiful to see as much as we could, but disappointing because we didn't get very close at all. I wish we had sprung for a helicopter ride to the glacier for the chance to actually walk around on it. After all, who knows how much longer glaciers will be around?

Then we went to the Mendenhall Gardens, which were odd but beautiful. For some reason, they took a bunch of trees and stuck them in the ground upside down to plant flowers in their roots. During the tour they took us in little trams up to the top of the mountain for some great views of the landscape.

From Juneau, we sailed to Skagway and headed out to the forest to hike a couple miles up the Chilkoot Trail and then raft back down the river. Most of the photos of this leg of the trip are of The Husband and me. I'll ask if he cares if I post a couple. I'm getting bored with this whole anonymity thing.

Anyway, the next day our ship entered Glacier Bay, and this time we really got to experience the glaciers even if we didn't actually get to walk on them. All around the ship we could hear the glaciers moaning and cracking. Occasionally huge chunks would crash into the ocean. Off on one of the rocky mountainsides, we thought we could see a bear, but even looking through binoculars it was a pretty tiny blob. I like to think it was a bear.

After Glacier Bay, our ship stopped at the town of Ketchikan. We didn't do any major activities that day, just wandered in and out of the cute little shops up and down Creek Street.

Our last stop was in Victoria, British Columbia where we visited the incredible Butchart Gardens before attending a wine and chocolate tasting at the Church and State Winery. (I'm pretty sure that the story behind the name of the winery is that they thought it was kind of cute and cheeky and that's all the significance.)

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get back to the Emerald Isle Epic with more photos from Ireland.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To Live Again a Butterfly

The swallowtails have taken advantage of our dill.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ireland: Day 3

On day three we left our B & B in Dingle to visit the Cliffs of Moher. However, between the cliffs and us loomed the Connor Pass, a narrow, winding mountain road. As I was concentrating on not driving into a precipice, The Husband took some photos out the car window so I could enjoy the scenery at my leisure later.

Evidently, it was pretty.

The Cliffs of Moher were very crowded, but quite lovely. However, once again, knowing what I do now, and considering how little time we had, I wish we'd decided to make one of the other trips on our list. We actually saw gorgeous sea cliffs at several other sites - particularly Slieve League and Dunluce Castle - that I thought were just as impressive as the Cliffs of Moher. Of course I took a billion pictures of everything, so you can judge for yourself.

Plenty more blue ocean and green hills to come...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Random Photo Friday: Not in Ireland Edition

Here are my dad, brother, and me at Lake Texoma in February 1990. My mom's taking the picture.

I am twelve years old, and I am Cool. Yes, with a capital "C". You can tell by the giant Guns N' Roses button I'm wearing on my awesome jean jacket. Seriously, that thing was about 8 inches across. (I thought I might still have it somewhere, but I couldn't find it. I did, however come across a calendar noting that on this very day in 1999 I went to a Poison concert, as well as some candy I brought back from Finland seven years ago.)

Seventh grade was a very rough year for me. My dad had graduated from vet school, and my family moved from Bryan to Denton, TX. For some reason the Denton school district wouldn't admit me to the honors classes despite my high test scores. The combination of puberty, finding my social footing in a new school, and soul-destroying boredom in class was volatile.

My grades plummeted, mostly on purpose. I thought seeming dumb would make me more popular among my new found friends. Also, I started sneaking out at night, stealing cigarettes, and getting drunk. To tell the truth, most of my friends were much better behaved than I was. Being the Bad One for a change was fun.

I'm sure I seemed like a really screwed up kid, but I was just wearing this personality like a costume. My parents reacted to my new obnoxious self in the best way possible. I got grounded a few times and received some very uncomfortable lectures, but I really felt like they gave me enough room to work through this weirdness until I was ready to be myself again. If they had sent me away to a camp for irritating preteens who don't act right or something like that, it probably just would have reinforced my experiment in delinquency.

Even though I was trying my best to be a jerk, we still got along pretty well and enjoyed family outings. In the same photo album as this photo were pictures of another camping trip, a family Easter egg hunt, and a vacation to Galveston. I actually remember happily participating in all these activities, so I guess I wasn't trying hard enough.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ireland: Day 2

Day two in Ireland finds us in Cashel in Tipperary Co. After breakfast we walked to the Rock of Cashel, a complex of ancient buildings on a plateau over Cashel with absolutely breathtaking views of the green and misty countryside.

I wish I could have spent a whole day just rambling around the hills and fields, but we were trying to cram a lot into our time in Ireland, so we moved on to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone and leave Ireland with the gift of gab.

Knowing what I do now, I would probably wouldn't have made the trip to Blarney Castle so we could spend more time on the Dingle Peninsula or visit Connemara, which we ended up skipping completely. The castle itself wasn't particularly impressive, and it wasn't located anywhere especially beautiful. It's one of those things that you just have to do when you're a tourist in Ireland, but it's not high on the list of my favorite sights.

Actually kissing the Blarney stone was different than I imagined. You have to climb up a steep spiral stairway in a very narrow tower. It was almost enough to give me an attack of claustrophobia. We were there before the peak of the summer season, so we got to go straight up to the top of the castle without waiting in line. One of my friends casually remarked that people probably have to wait in line for ages on that narrow winding staircase during the summer. Just the thought of being trapped in that tower crammed in with hundreds of people above and behind me still made me hyperventilate days later.

Once you get to the stone kissing area, you have to lie down on your back and hang over the edge backwards and head-down until the attendant tells you to kiss whatever rock happens to be in front of your face. It was very awkward, but kind of thrilling, too. As you can see in the picture, I'm so short that my butt was actually over the edge so I would be able to reach down far enough to reach the stone.

After we were done getting our eloquence on we headed into Cork in search of a Tex-Mex restaurant. As I've mentioned, I am on a quest to eat Tex-Mex food in every part of the world. We found an advertisement for a place called Cafe Mexicana and only with the help of our trusty GPS were we able to track it down. It was actually in an alley off the main street, so we ended up walking around downtown Cork holding the GPS out in front of us as we executed a series of shrinking zig zags getting warmer, cooler, warmer, cooler, warmer, hot, red hot, there it is!

We started off with margaritas, which may have been The Husband's favorite thing about the whole trip if he is to be believed. However, they tasted a little weird to me. Traivor was watching the bartender over my shoulder, and he made the margaritas with Sprite. Sprite infused margaritas might not be too bad actually, but it seemed like every lemon-lime soda type beverage we tried tasted like artificial sweetener. Are those sodas made with saccharine or aspartame or something like that in Europe? Google would neither confirm or deny it.

Anyway, I ordered guacamole and refried bean tacos with a side of rice. It was all very tasty and pretty much what I would expect here at home. The Husband got beef burritos, which sounded kind of weird because the filling was sort of like roast beef, but he seemed to like them. The meals came with red and green salsa. The red was really bland, which I expected, but the green had quite a jalapeƱo-ey kick to it. I actually feel a little disappointed that I don't have a bizarre Irish Tex-Mex experience to report, but at least I enjoyed my lunch. Sealegs and Traivor also had some Tex-Mex in Dublin, I believe. Would either of you care to compare and contrast?

I know the photos suck, but they don't suck as much as the fact that I don't have photos of our next little encounter. Once we left Cork, we headed toward our next B & B in Dingle. (Heh heh. Dingle. How appropriate.) While driving through some small town we stopped in a short line of traffic at an intersection. Walking down the sidewalk towards us was a group of four or five sports fan type guys acting enthusiastic or maybe drunk.

When they spotted the car in front of us, they started jumping up and down, making gestures, and generally hooting and hollering. They were rocking the car and making faces at the driver when one of the guys whips his pants down. His meat and two veg were just flopping all over the place as he simulated sexual congress with this car. Before I could shut my mouth, which was gaping in horror, it was all over. I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've seen male genitalia in the full light of day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ireland: Day 1

So, it's been about a month since I got back from vacation with The Husband and three of our unruly friends, and I'm finally getting my act together to sum up my thoughts and post some photos.

As soon as we landed in Dublin we jumped into our rental cars and started careening across the countryside looking at the lovely sites. We were fully expecting to drive manual transmissions, but the rental agency randomly blessed us with automatics. Driving was more difficult than I expected with driving on the left on tiny narrow roads and roundabout after roundabout, so not having to figure out shifting with my left hand at the same time probably saved my life. Not that I didn't do my best to sacrifice it to a giant truck the first time I tried to make a right turn across traffic, but that was terrifying, and we shall never speak of it again.

Despite the complexities of traffic and navigation, we made it to Powerscourt, a gorgeous estate and gardens (featuring a pet cemetery of all things).

Next, we headed to Glendalough, a ruined monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Eventually we made our way to a bed and breakfast in Cashel for the night.

Still to come: Day 2 featured a couple of castles, some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen, tacos and margaritas, and some rather floppy full frontal (no photos of that - sorry).