December 30, 2006

A Very Married Christmas

Okay, so I know, two months between posts isn't exactly keeping you in touch with our life. But, it's been a bit busy the last two months. No, the wedding pictures aren't up yet. Yes, they will be soon. It takes some time to go through six hundred photos and create some sense of order in them. And trust me, you do NOT want me just to dump them on to google and let you figure it out. In the meantime, we're going to jump ahead to Christmas and Christmas photos.

That's us, on our first Christmas morning as husband and wife. It was also our very first Christmas morning in our own home. And my first Christmas morning, ever, not with my parents and sister. I won't pretend I wasn't worried it would be lonely, but it wasn't. Alex was a great sport about doing all the Christmas traditions together. He even set up the tripod so we could take Christmas morning pictures of us together, and then made sure that we got pictures throughout the morning. (The dog still hasn't figured out how to operate the camera without thumbs, so she's no help there.) Instead of being lonely, it was mellow. And romantic. I liked opening our gifts just the two of us and really having the time to enjoy each bit of it.

Alex got me great gifts - a YMCA membership for both of us and a 'gift certificate' to have the sprinkler system in my garden repaired. Trust me, this was the most romantic thing he could have done. Neither of us wanted more "stuff" after finally putting all the wedding presents away and I really, really wanted both of the things he got me. The sprinkler system, pretty self-explanatory. I actually use it fairly rarely, since its better to use the drip hose and spot water, espectially in Florida. But when I do use it is when life is really, really busy and I don't have even ten minutes to water my garden or when we're out of town. Not having it for those times has been frustrating, and I've lost plants as a result. I'm pretty excited about getting it fixed. And the Y membership is for both of us, with a promise from him to work out, too. We both need to get back in to the habit of regular exercise, for our health and for our stress levels. We haven't been on our regular exercise routine for months, and it's been showing the last few weeks.

My favorite gift, though, was one I made for him. Look how cute. Its kind of hard to see at this size, but it says "Sleeps With Dogs" and then has a picture of Gwen lounging on it. And look at her there sleeping next to him while he "works" on the internet. I found the biggest, softest shirt I could find, and he's been actually using it as his lounging/sleeping shirt. That's no small accomplishment, trust me. I get such a kick out of seeing him wearing it with Gwen cuddled under his arm or against his 'kidneys' while they watch TV, play poker or go to sleep.

The animals had a pretty good Christmas, too. Nala got a catnip ball that she proceeded to play with all day. You can see her here saying "giving me that already." She's not so impressed with the picture taking.

Gwen had to wait until that evening, when Lily came and we exchanged gifts with my family. But, she was pretty happy to see Lily and her Aunt Megan gave her the best gifts ever. Things I have never even known to buy her - Yogurt vitamin drops (her new favorite treat), a plasticy dental bone that she loved much to my amazement, and a little tug toy since she's reverting back to her puppy playfulness much more often recently. Plus, nobody made her wear strange Christmas decorations around her neck.

Lily liked the gift she got from us just fine, though. You can see she doesn't mind that it's just a stuffed squeaky toy and the same old dingos they get all the time. It seems any day she gets a dingo is a good day. I started to unwrap it for her, but as you can see her she clearly told me that she could take care of that for herself. And much faster, thank you very much. Craig Ferguson recently joked about the amount of money Americans spend on their pets at Christmas, but how can you resist moments like this?

We didn't forget the people, though. Christmas Eve we went to my aunt's home and spent the evening with all the racuous family. It was fun, but as usual a bit overwhelming. However, after a relaxing Christmas morning, we had part of my immediate family over for Christmas dinner and gifts. That was the best. My family did a great job following the 'we really don't want more stuff' plea and gave us things we will actually use - and then donated money in our name to Hungersite charities addressing concerns we really care about. Mom did follow her tradition of everyone needs one toy at Christmas, but she did a great job of it. Alex received a remote control tarantula that was an absolute riot, and he'll enjoy pulling that out from time to time. For me she bought yarn made of banana fibers. What knitter doesn't need cool yarn to add to their stash?

I was looking at the Christmas gifts, still piled up under the tree, again today and thinking that everyone really did a good job keeping it reasonable, useful and fun. I don't think there's anything there we won't really use and delight in. However, I don't think anyone was more excited about her gift than my Mom. Alex bought her a long-coveted Ipod, and then spent part of the evening putting music on it for her. Her reaction was even better than Lily smelling that dingo. She spent large chunks of the night playing with it and asking questions about how to use it. Sort of like the little boy who gets his first Nintendo. (Geesh, I'm dating myself there. I'm sure there's a better game system that I should be using in that analogy. The Wii, I guess?) It was great.

And then we spent the rest of the night visiting, eating, listening to music.
What? You didn't end your Christmas day trying to figure out how to play the Bulgarian bagpipe?

October 30, 2006

Getting Ahead of Ourselves

I finally transferred the photos Mom took at my bridal shower from the CD to the computer, and in browsing them I was reminded of many bright, wonderful moments with the women I love. But, one moment, one gift really stands out.

One of my favorite people in the world gave me this at my bridal shower. And while I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt, she told me that she actually bought it when they were up in DC for my law school graduation. I couldn't decide which part of the story was funnier, but I definitely got the hint. They are very ready for the next generation... Good thing we don't plan to wait too terribly long to start our family.

Look! I knit a sweater!

Look! On Saturday it was finally cool enough to wear the sweater I worked on in four different countries. (The USA, of course, on Meg's graduation trip to the Dominican Republic, in Bulgaria, and in the German airport on the way to and from Bulgaria. Yes, I'm counting the layovers in Germany. It's more fun that way.) I lost count of how many states this thing traveled to. An efficient knitter I am not. But, look! Pretty!

It's definitely a "first" sweater. I had to whip stitch, rather than kitchener stitch, the sides together. The number of rows front to back is apparently not even close. (The distance is, though.) And somehow, despite row markers and careful counting, my pocket is off to the right. Go figure. But, I figured out a secret too. Synthetic may suck because you can't block, but you can WASH and DRY it with your other 'delicates.' That softens everything up and evens out your stitches a bit. It looked even more wonky before I did that.

It will never be perfect, but wearing it was so much fun. So. Much. Fun. I've worked on this thing for years, and then finished it in the heat of summer. (Trust me, in Florida, there is no point during the summer that you can wear this. Not even in the air conditioning. Well, maybe in the movie theatre since I always freeze in there, but we haven't gotten to the movies in months. And months.) I will be wearing it pleny, uneven stitches and all. It's purple. And it has a pocket. And a hood...And did I mention that I made it. Posted by Picasa

October 27, 2006

Halloween Fright

With everything else going on, I haven't much gotten in to the Halloween spirit this year. I did put up most of my decorations, and I've enjoyed having them. (Though, this guy makes me think what I did wasn't actually decorating. Maybe I just put out a trinket or two.) That's about it, though. I'm hoping that tomorrow's costume assembly and the party we've been invited to on Halloween night will perk up the holiday. The party is a kid's party, but Alex was so intrigued by it that we got an invite anyway. I'm pretty happy about that, since a full blown kid's Halloween party will be the best way to celebrate anyway.

I did feel Halloween-y enough at Target last night to want some candy corn. The only problem is I don't really like the stuff. Not wanting to waste a big bag I went in search of the littlest bag I could find, and that turned out to be these "gourmet" candy corns. I decided to try the sour apple. Do. Not. Buy. These. They can not be meant for human consumption. I am not sure when I have tried anything more disgusting. Consider yourself warned.

Oh, and just in case you had any doubts, a high in the mid 80s isn't warm enough for Gwen either. (This time she's on her own, though.)

October 24, 2006

How did we live in D.C.?

You know; we used to live in D.C. Where there was a real winter. With snow. We lived there for three years, and we managed just fine. I went to school, grocery shopping, out with friends, and even for walks just to stretch my legs. Gwen was a little less convinced of the need to go out for longer than it took to empty her bladder. (And she wasn't always entirely convinced that was necessary, to be frank about it.) But, she managed it. I have the pictures of her in the snow to prove it.

We have apparently turned in to wimps. Today was a beautiful Fall day by anybody else's standard. It was in the 50s when we woke up, but it got up to almost 70 during the day. But, us? We were cold. Gwen wouldn't go any further than the grass in front of the house next door this morning. She did go for her evening walk - desperation counts apparently - but it was like she was in fast forward her little legs went so fast.

And I must say I was relieved. I was out at a meeting until 8:30 tonight, and I scurried to my car afterwards. It must have been 60 degrees. And I was wearing a sweater and leather jacket. But, I most definitely didn't want to linger outside.

We are such wimps. When did this happen?

P.S. - Alex has apparently broken ranks on this issue. He did need to close the sliding glass door this morning, but I haven't heard anything else about being cold out of him. We may have to disown him.

October 10, 2006

Disaster Barely Averted

Whew - I had a close call this week. For the last few weeks I've been hunting down fabric with which to make our wedding 'guest book' quilt. (The idea is to make large 'rail fence' blocks, have the guests sign them at the wedding, and then piece it all together in to a quilt.)

Last Thursday, I selected fabric I thought might work. Not being entirely convinced that I would like it worked up in to the square, I just bought half a yard of each for some test squares. It worked out really well, but when I went back on Friday I couldn't find the fabric anymore. I thought maybe it just hadn't made it back to the shelf yet, but on Saturday it was still missing. I finally managed to find the fabric again, a day and four stores later. So, I was ready to start making blocks.

I have always been a faithful pre-washer of my sewing fabric. But, several times recently I have heard the ladies in our local quilting store tell customers that they never bother to pre-wash. Fabrics are different these days, they don't shrink or bleed, etc. etc. I had pretty much decided I was going to stop pre-washing. Not that washing is an issue for me, but it just has so many more wrinkles after washing and the ironing is a pain. I'm not in to the Zen of Ironing.

Luckily, the fabric did have to be ironed since it was wrinkled on the bolt. I was ironing with steam, because this is a pretty heavy batiked cotton. About a yard and a half in to the ironing I realize my hands are blue. Either I'm turning in to a Smurf (do Smurf's even exist anymore?) or my fabric is bleeding. I'm betting the fabric is bleeding. I abandon the ironing and head straight for the washing machine. Whew, that was close. Can you imagine if I had discovered that after it was completed?

Never again will I try to skip pre-washing. This is what they will look like when I finally get to make them, though.

October 07, 2006

The First Bridal Shower!

My wonderful office threw a surprise Bridal Shower for my co-worker, whose wedding is the week before mine, and me. The whole thing was arranged by the lady pictured with me there, a volunteer with our program. She was working with me when she was a brand new volunteer, and we became very close. Apparently, she approached my bosses about handling the bridal shower, and they happily turned it over to her. She really outdid herself.

The most memorable part, to me at least, was right at the beginning. This was a surprise party that almost ended up being a surprise for the hostess. She scheduled it during our weekly (mandatory) case review with our Litigation Director, so we'd be sure to be there. But then our Litigation Director took an unexpected vacation, so we thought we had an unexpected afternoon free. (You see where this is going, don't you?) Yep, I went home for lunch and seriously contemplated just taking the afternoon off and napping. However, I decided I would go back to work, finish the report I was working on and then go home early. I arrived back in the office just a few minutes before the time she was expecting to start the shower. My co-worker, on the other hand, had left for lunch only fifteen minutes before. Her plan was to go home, eat a sandwich and lie down for a few minutes because she had a killer headache. Her assistant tried to get her back by calling and telling her that our volunteer was there expecting a meeting with her. She insisted she had no such meeting scheduled, and it must be with someone else. She was going home for awhile.

So, our poor volunteer had to revise her plans. She comes and gets me from the office and takes me down to the back room where she's set up this whole party. (Her plan was to get both of us in to the room for a 'meeting', surprise us, and get a few pictures before the hordes arrived.) I was absolutely stunned, and definitely wishing I had dressed a little nicer. I was also very, very glad that I didn't call the office and tell them I wasn't coming in. Especially after I learned that my co-worker had gotten away from them. We took a few pictures of me in my 'bride's apron' (part of the shower games), with the volunteer, and in the elaborately set up rooms. This photo is of me, still somewhat in shock, with the "survival kit" she made me. It also has a copy of the (handmade) shower invitations that were given to my co-workers. She truly thought of everything.

But, we were still missing the other bride who had just left for an hour, and would most definitely miss the beginning of the party - in our honor - at this rate. So, they asked me to call her and get her back. (We're pretty good friends, so they figured I could insist.) I called her and told her that our Litigation Director had forgotten to tell us about this important meeting with the volunteer - always blame it on those out of state - and I really needed her to come back right away. She tells me she just needs to lay down for awhile, can it wait half an hour? I really don't think so, I insist, everyone here is in a tizzy and I really need you to come back.

Okay, I'll get a sandwich and be back in 15 minutes she says.

Hon, I'll go next door (to the local greasy spoon) and grab something for you. Please just take some aspirin for the headache and come on back now. Apparently we're already late, and you know how everyone gets when they don't know what's going on. Please, can you come back now?

FINE, she huffs, I'm turning around now.

Mind you, at this point, she is royally ticked off with me. I won't even give her fifteen minutes to get a sandwich? It's not like she forgot about the meeting and that's why she's late. She didn't even know about the meeting, for heaven's sake!?! (She didn't actually say any of this, of course, but it all came through loud in clear in her voice. ) Later she told me that she was thinking "Cara, of all people, knows you just need to lay down for a few minutes sometimes. Why is she insisting I come back before I've been able to rest for a minute?"

And then, when she gets back to the office, she tries to go to the lounge to heat up the can of soup she brought, and our co-workers are insisting she has to come down to the back room for the meeting right now. (There were two tables of food, since our volunteer was very diligent that there be two of everything at this joint shower.) Between the lack of food, the headache and the shock, I think we are very lucky that she didn't just collapse to the floor in a giant heap of quivering mush.

She did start crying.

But, they made her a princess and made up for it. (Several of our colleagues found it very amusing that I got the apron and she got the sash and crown. I am most definitely the more domestic one of the two.)

Incidentally, she instantly forgave me for being so pushy. And her headache went away in the face of so much love an friendship from our Legal Aid family. No medicine can do for you what an outpouring of generous friendship does.

Anyway, since they had finally managed to get the errant guests of honor back in the building, the festivities could begin. They were pretty great, too. We started with shower games, and despite my repeated threats to boycott my shower if there were games I played them. (I made the threats to my co-workers; it never occurred to me that I needed to make them to anyone else.) The other bride and I decided we got to play the games as a team, since we were joint guests of honor. We still didn't manage to win anything. And we were pretty apalled at the words we missed in the word scramble. Romance being among them.

We were also showered with wedding gifts. They were thoughtful, individualized and generous. For days now I've been trying to think of words to describe how amazingly wonderful our co-workers were. How we felt in the face of that outpouring of support. How we looked at each other at the end of the party and said "can you believe this?" Each knowing exactly what the other meant but not having words for it.

This is the best part of a wedding - not the dress or the flowers or any of the other three trillion things that we think matter so darn much that we make ourselves crazy over them. It's the outpouring of love. Our love for each other, and the desire to make a public promise to work for that love. The love of our family members as they put hours of effort in to making our weekend beautiful and fun, grinning in pleasure all the way. The love of our friends (and again our family) as they brim with excitement and pleasure at sharing the start of our marriage.

We are so lucky.

September 29, 2006

Knitting is Cool

Did you know knitting is cool? Yeah, you probably did, because it seems like every other month or so some news outlet is doing some story about it. When I knit in public, much to Alex's embarassment, people always come up to talk to me about it. More often than not, it's a guy who wants to tell me about the awesome scarf his girlfriend knit for him. (Do these girls totally discount the Sweater Curse or what? I suppose that's why its always a scarf, not a sweater.)

Anyway, today the fact that knitting is cool made it on to NPR. No less than Tracey Ullman herself has discovered the addiction that is working with two sticks and a ball of yarn. She's even co-written a book about knitting, Knit 2 Together. The patterns don't sound like things I would actually bothering making (mohair apron anyone?), but I bet its a fun read. How can it be anything but with Tracey Ullman writing the stories?

Tracey Ullman says knitting is cool... Does this mean I'm finally one of the cool kids?

September 24, 2006

Work In Progress

With the wedding invitations packaged up and ready to go, I regained use of my cutting and pinning table tonight. I celebrated with a couple of hours of work on my quilt. It's coming out great, and I couldn't be more excited. I was ready to work with some bright, cheerful colors. It doesn't get any more cheerful than that! (Alex has deemed it "cute," but Gwen is not impressed. She prefers it when I work in flannel, and she really doesn't care what color it is as long as its soft.)

Orchid Addiction

I can see where the warnings about orchid addictions come from. A few months ago I was so excited when this little guy bloomed for the first time. (The colors are better than they show here. I found it really hard to get a good picture of this pale violet and even paler green in the bloom.) When a really hard rain washed away the bloom after only a week, I was pretty bummed about it.

This is one that I have had for literally years as just a little baby orchid that doesn't bloom. It was pretty exciting when I finally saw a bud on it. Come to think of it, the bud was there longer than the bloom. No wonder I was so disappointed the monsoon washed it away!

But this week, my dendrobium has been capturing my attention by slowly opening one bud at a time. Today it is in glorious bloom with a full spray of flowers. I know this to be the most common color of a very common orchid, but I still love it.

This one Mom brought me for my birthday last year. It was already a mature plant with tons and tons of flowers. But, it's still exciting to have it bloom in my care. Trust me - that is by no means a foregone conclusion!

My poor Vanda still refuses to bloom...though it is having babies. Twins in fact. I guess it just doesn't have enough energy left for flowering. I think most new mother's feel that way, especially if they are having twins.

All the excitement aside, though, I have resisted buying any new orchids for a long time now. I may wander through the orchid section each and every time I visit Home Depot, but only one has come home with me in a year and a half. And that was a really cool terrestial orchid that sits on the patio and blooms non-stop. That's better than any of the annuals I've bought to brighten up the backyard. Maybe it's time to treat myself to a new orchid? Maybe another dendrobium, since I seem to do well with them?

September 19, 2006

We Came, We Saw, We Slept

That's the St. Louis Arch - the Gateway to the West and all that.

I had a conference in St. Louis, Missouri this past week. I've never been to St. Louis before - unless you count a layover in the airport - so I was looking forward to seeing the city. I planned to go to the botanical gardens, see the City Museum, and maybe even check out a brewery.

It didn't work out that way. The conference kept me pretty busy until Friday afternoon, but I had planned to see the botanical gardens in the afternoon and then be back in time to meet Alex who was coming to join me Friday night. But, after my afternoon session, I was just so darn sleepy. I decided I should take a nap and be ready to see Alex that evening instead. "We'll see the city tomorrow," I thought.

Alex made it in late, and unfortunately he brought a 'bug' with him. He wasn't feeling great, but we did check out the Landing district. By walking through the Arch park and down another block or so, we could get to the historic Landing district. It's mostly restaraunts and bars, but it has a definite night life. Like this:Hee, hee. I still like that one.

Saturday morning I had seminars, but we were all ready to go in the afternoon. We decided to try seeing the botanical garden, even though Alex is supposed to stay out of the sun. One stop up the metrolink (what passes for public transit in St. Louis), and we are trying to figure out how to take the bus to where we need to go. A little bit of wandering around and we decided this wasn't such a good idea. He was getting sunburned already, and we needed to come up with an alternate plan. We sat in a hotel lobby - not our hotel, of course - and tried to figure out what to do. The City Museum looks like fun, but again with the bus... Carriage ride? Finally, we both admit that we're tired and not feeling so good, and the best thing would be a nap... Yeah, great travelers us.

We did make it back out for dinner, again at the Landing. And Sunday morning we took a close up look at the arch before heading for the airport. But mostly, we laid in bed and watched TV. In our hotel room. I threatened to take a picture of Alex watching TV in bed, since that was our REAL St. Louis trip. But, I didn't. I took this instead.And a stranger we grabbed on the sidewalk took this.

Well, we did see the Arch.

We also saw some really cool historic buildings. This is the old courthouse, where the Dred Scott trial was started. (It was apparently moved somewhere else later.) I was inordinately fascinated by this fact, even though it wasn't open for me to go inside. But, even just seeing the outside... it was middle school American History come to life.I also did a little walking tour of the area on Thursday, before I decided to give it up and just sleep. And I found this neat mall.

It was a huge train station back in the heyday of train travel. It was definitely an imposing building. Now its a mall, but with little boutique stores rather than department stores or the cookie cutter branch stores. There's still alot of marble and statuary. And outside there's a mini-lake with paddle boats and everything. Not a bad way to kill a few hours at all.

September 17, 2006


I didn't have my bed ready and missed the summer tomato season, but I got three plants in for the fall season. And the first little tomato made its appearance while we were in St. Louis. Okay, so it's very, very little and I better go get some netting before the squirrels find it. But, it's there darn it! My first baby tomato. Sniff. Posted by Picasa

August 26, 2006

Wonder Works

We have friends visiting from Argentina this weekend. Yesterday we planned to go to Sea World, but as we parked the car the skys opened up and a Florida monsoon ensued. Normally, we'd just go on in and wait the few minutes for it to pass. Yesterday was one of those rare days, though, when it was clearly going to rain - hard - for hours. We decided to come up with an alternate plan and we ended up at Pointe Orlando.
Next to the parking lot at Pointe Orlando is a building that appears to be upside down. It's a science museum, of sorts, called Wonder Works. Alex and I have always meant to visit it, but we never manage to remember when we have time to go. Since our friends were as fascinated as we were, we decided that would be a good way to use up a rainy afternoon.
We had so much fun! Alex doesn't have to look far to find his inner child. So even the simplest exhibits were great entertainment.

Of course, I was the one fully entertained by the bubbles. But these were really cool bubbles!

But, we also played with the more complicated toys. Like the green screen that allowed us to play 'virtual soccer' and some strange space-age game that completely confused us. Take that Stephen Colbert!

A Mystery Solved

For weeks now I haven't been able to figure out why two firecracker plants in the planter out front are thriving and the third is dying. Last night we came home to this:
Actually, when we first got there she was lying directly on the plant. She sat up when she saw us, but since she was sitting right in the middle of the plant it didn't help much. And then, since every good nap requires a luxurious stretch and kneading of the paws...
You can't really tell in the photo, but she's still right on top of the plant. I no longer have to wonder what is killing that one particular plant and nothing else. However, now I have to wonder what I can do about it. Would barbed wire look trashy?