Tuesday, February 11, 2014

500 Years of Solitude

Or maybe just two and a half years of silence. At a certain point, all of my web sites/web presences just fell off my to-do list. As a result, I haven't updated regarding a lot of things in the past two years, and therefore you get this brain dump of information.

I can't believe I didn't write up my second trip to Ireland (March 2012). I have no write-up for the road trip to New Orleans with Sarah (June 2012). I have some pictures and maybe a note or two for the half dozen trips I've taken over the past few years out to CA to visit Deb, friends, and family. I don't think I have a write-up for London (December 2012) where I finally got to meet Phaedra(!). I might have a write-up for China (March 2013), but the question becomes where. (I think I am imagining that one and only think I have a write-up because I have 1000 pictures that document those six days.)

Thank goodness for all of the pictures I take. They make sure I don't forget that we also went to Seattle to visit family, Portland because the opportunity presented itself, that Jack had an awesome cross country "career" in middle school, that yoga and rock climbing go well together, that living in C-U presents some pretty unique forms of entertainment and awesome people as friends, and that I finally made Jack go see some live music with me in the form of Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of the Road Stopover tour. (That's quite a jump from zero to 3-day festival. Ha! Though, I guess technically, his first concert was Common Rotation at 4 years old. I rule parenting!)

Our campsite in Troy, OH.

We lost Fulgie to a random, non-treatable awful disease in March 2012. That really sucked. A lot. (Now I am paranoid any time the other animals sneeze or cough.) Sprinkles got terribly needy, so we got her a friend (Dandelion) six months later, so then she got really neurotic. Such is life with cats. I still run into the folks who adopted Jet (Jasper) and Chewie (Jax), which is awesome. I love hearing that they are doing so well.

Since January 2012, I've been in the MBA program here at the U of I. Graduation is just 95 days away! (At most, that translates into 25 days of classes.) In a few weeks I will be traveling to Israel with a small group of students for IIP. Our house was on the market since June and is now sold, so I will also be packing up and moving somewhere before that trip. (Let's see how much fur Sprinkles has left after the move. Oh goodness.) I guess you could say I've been keeping busy. Around the time my program ends, Jack will finish his sophomore year of high school. Two years until college or some other manifestation of "not living at home."

The WCHS Class of 1994 had their 20-year reunion a few weeks back, and the Class of 1995 will have one next year. Washington was hit by a tornado in November, and visiting the area that was damaged was pretty surreal. Shane recently posted a picture from D50, and some of us had a good time reminiscing about the days of Beverly Manor.

Things I am looking forward to in 2014-2015: change, travel, the arrival of Deb and Anthony's L'il 2, graduation (obviously), and more change.

I did say "brain dump." I hope I didn't miss much.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eighth Grade, Bike Crashes, and Vegan Care Packages - Oh My!

It has been a good long while since I posted last. This is not new.

What is new? The boy is well into his eighth grade school year. The most exciting thing for me has been watching him progress in cross country. He stuck it out all three years, and this year the boy's team earned a spot at State! (Two of our awesome girls earned a spot at State as well!) Tomorrow is the state meet. It makes the end of middle school and approach of high school that much more real with the end of cross country season.

What else is new? Monday I took the day off from work since school was out. I had purchased some panniers for an upcoming trip (back to Ireland!!!). I rode my bike to the bike shop to purchase a rack once I determined my old rack wouldn't fit my newer bike. Having installed the rack, I really wanted to test out the panniers. So, against the teenager's wishes, we started cycling to the library (versus driving). Unfortunately for me, the railroad crossing about two miles from home decided I didn't need to stay on my bike, and I took the first flying leap off a bike I can recall taking pretty much ever. The fortunate perspective of the crash is that I was on the shoulder, not in traffic, and I was able to ride my bike back home to then drive a relatively short distance for medical assistance. My right knee and elbow/forearm looked pretty, let me tell you, but I didn't break anything or need stitches. So, the lesson is, don't take vacation days. Just go to work.

In the BEST new news, I participated in the Third Annual CVL Care Package Swap this year! It was my first time participating in the swap, and I was very excited to exchange veg*n goodies with another blogger. I was paired up with Meggie of The Vegan Adventures of Meggie and Ben. I think we were very well matched since neither of us had much in the way of restrictions for the other person, but then again when everything is an option, it's hard to narrow down your final selection. There are a LOT of vegan goodies in the world!

Meggie's package arrived Wednesday this week, and I wanted badly to tear through it to see what was inside, but I demonstrated amazing restraint by waiting two more days so I could investigate and blog at the same time. Meggie wins for care packages because she managed to achieve a balance of items new to me, items I have been wanting to try, and items I already love.

Goodies! Goodies everywhere!
Falling under the new to me category: Dr. McDougall's entrées and soup. I rarely pick up convenience meals like this for myself, so these will be a treat on those days I just can't get away from my desk for lunch.
Also falling under the items I have wanted to try category: Pro Bars, Justin's nut butters, Enjoy Life mini chips, and what appear to be almonds in a dusting of cocoa powder. I think it's fair to say I will always want to try mini chocolate chips and almonds even if I didn't realize it until they show up on my doorstep.
More delicious snacks await me.
Last, but not least, falling under the I love these category: Dandies, Primal Strips, and Justin's Dark Chocolate peanut butter cups. You just can't go wrong here. If you aren't familiar with Dandies yet, you need to get familiar with them, and if you haven't tried Primal Strips for some unknown logic, try them. They pack a nice amount of protein into what I consider a low-calorie, non-stomach busting snack.
These are all good. Oh, yes.
Thanks, Meggie, and I hope you enjoy the contents of your package!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Joplin, MO Fosters

We have a local trap, spay & neuter non-profit (Catsnap) that recently sent two car loads of animal supplies to Joplin, MO. The story goes, they didn't even have time to unload the cars. A line of people were waiting for their arrival and basically unloaded the cars for them the second they arrived. The shelter has over 700 animals. While they were there helping out, they were able to identify some cats and dogs they could transport back here for foster and adoption care. These are animals that are no longer under "tornado hold," i.e. no one has claimed them and the time frame for claiming them has passed. (Of course, if someone were to come along later, I am sure they would do there best to match them up.) They brought back 20 or so cats, but the dogs they wanted to bring back had one more week of tornado hold. As a result, they needed quite a few foster homes to help out. I work with a number of folks who volunteer with Catsnap, and they helped get the tortie we rescued a few months back adopted, so I volunteered to take a trio of kittens, three boys, nine weeks old.

Meet Jet, Solo, and Chewie:
Foster: JetFoster: SoloFoster: Chewie
Foster: Jet.Foster: Solo.Foster: Chewie.
The morning after they arrived.


Solo and Jet goofing around.

Chewie on the move.

They all got flea-dipped when they arrived in town. They are on worm medicine. They are all sneezing, so they are amoxicillin. Solo and Jet seems to be thriving. Chewie is the smallest and wheezes the most. Solo is a bit of a food hog. A co-worker totally called him out as the trouble maker just by looking at his picture. :-p

Hopefully they will all be healthy enough to be neutered next week since that is a necessary step before they can go to a forever home. I am not sure if they will stay with us until they get adopted or just until Catsnap has some room for them elsewhere, but for now they are enjoying ruling the spare bedroom. :)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Kaeng Raeng Detox

I felt the strongest urge to do a detox the last few weeks, and Vegan Cuts had discount offer for Kaeng Raeng products, so I jumped on it. I have fasted before, but I wouldn't say I've done a cleanse, so I appreciate the idea of a pre-made mix that has all the nutrition packed into it for me. Plus? Vegan, non-GMO soy, recycled packaging, local ingredients, etc. This is not meant to be a fast. You are encouraged to drink the three servings per day in any order or combination, and then supplement your drinks with a raw, vegan diet (per the box). I recall the web site saying raw fruits and vegetables, which is different from everything a raw, vegan diet can be, so I am sticking with just raw fruits and vegetables if I feel the need to crunch on something.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Back Home from Ireland

I don't know that I will ever excel at writing a summary for a long trip post-trip. It's why I upload and tag photos on a daily basis (when possible) while traveling. If I don't do it immediately, I start to lose information and the little details that are most memorable.

(For the TL;DR crowd, here is a link to the photos and videos from the trip.)

Our trip to Ireland was about 8-9 days long once you chop off the days of travel. Flying Aer Lingus was a pleasant experience. The flight over was more turbulent than coming home, but nothing extreme. We flew in and out of Dublin which was pretty stress free as well. Returning, it seemed as though we went through eight thousand security screenings due to U.S. Customs and Immigration conducting preclearance at DUB, but overall it was probably less time than we've spent in the security line at MCO or LAX. Plus, it meant when we landed at ORD, we could head straight to pick up our luggage and get on the road. This is definitely a perk after a 7-hour flight. (We also landed early both directions. Bonus.)

Our first two days were spent in Northern Ireland. We couch-surfed with a family in Irvinestown who were beyond accommodating and lavished attention on the Boy since it was his birthday. We went to Belleek, the Ulster American Folk Park, and the Giant's Causeway. We also stopped at the Caldwell Castle ruins when we stumbled upon them. That was our general itinerary during our trip. We had general ideas of where we would be staying, but we didn't really have a list of places or sights to visit. This way, at least to me, we didn't feel like we were missing out or cramming our days full of activity. If we saw something interesting while driving, we stopped.

After Irvinestown, we drove down to Galway. Another couch-surfer lended us the use of their apartment while they were gone, so we had a base camp in Galway for four days. We ventured south to see the Burren and the Aran Islands, and we stayed in town one day as well.

By the fourth day in Galway, we were ready to move on to Dublin. We had our last two nights booked in a hotel, but we decided to fill the gap at a hotel somewhere between Galway and Dublin to make the rental car drop-off less stressful Friday morning. We ended up at the Bloomfield House Hotel in Mullingar, Ireland. It was very reasonably priced, perfectly located, and super accommodating. I think the funniest thing we experienced while in Ireland was electricity in hotel rooms. You have to place and leave a room key in a slot to activate the electricity to the room. This wasn't explained to us when we checked in, so it took a few phone calls to the front desk to figure it out. Fortunately, we were old pros at it by the time we checked in to the hotel in Dublin.

Speaking of Dublin, I think it is a city I could grow to love, but that is very hard to do in a day and a half when you have fellow travelers to take into consideration. At the end of a somewhat long trip, aches and pains and lack of routine can start to settle in. Everyone could probably use some solo time, too. We opted for the bus tour of Dublin, which was a great idea. It gives you a full review of the layout of the town and popular tourist destinations, so when you get a chance to explore on foot, you have a better idea of where to wander. I enjoyed the pedestrian-only area (Grafton Street) in Dublin as well as in Galway. I think it is a concept that could be used more in the U.S. (As well as roundabouts. We figured them out. No one in the U.S. knows how to deal with 4-way stops or actually comes to complete stops anyway, so why not make them roundabouts?)

All in all, it was a good trip. I would love to go back. Obviously we didn't explore even a third of the country. I don't know if I would opt for a rental car on the next trip or a combination of train and bus. (I definitely wouldn't use Europcar again. Way too pricey and shady.) Almost without exception the people were kind and interested in helping make your experience the best. The restaurants and stores focused on local and organic foods, and if you are out of the bigger cities, it is very peaceful. You should definitely add Ireland to your list of places to visit if it isn't already there.