blk: (avatar)
I had a lovely few days visiting [livejournal.com profile] ravens_prentice in San Diego. There was talking and relaxing and reading and eating tasty food and climbing and walking. All in all a fantastic vacation.

Thursday we visited Mesa Rim climbing gym, which was a very nice gym, and wore ourselves out pretty thoroughly. I did not tear my new climbing shorts nor leave any blood on the walls, and I successfully climbed a 5.11c, so I left pretty happy.

Friday we visited the San Diego Zoo, which was a very nice zoo, although having grown up around Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, I was probably not quite as amazingly impressed as I should have been. It was still lovely to walk around, particularly with someone else who appreciated the adorable killer giant kitties, until suddenly I decided I'd had Too Much Sun and was ready to be done, and we spent the rest of the day lazing around.

Saturday was an amazingly delicious breakfast at Great Maple, which had maple bacon donuts that might have made the entire trip worth it just for them, if there hadn't been so much other pleasant stuff already. While there, I used my cis privilege to ask a manager why their single-use bathrooms still had gender signifiers on them, and she said she would pass up my message to the owner. Then I left a compliment for our awesome waiter.

At the airport I first had good flight luck by picking a security line which had a metal detector, so I could skip my expected freedom grope. Then my luck extended by arriving at the gate just in time to hear an announcement asking for bump volunteers, so I did that which allowed a grateful kid to have a seat, and compensated me with more than the cost of my round-trip ticket, and a flight that arrived home only an hour later than originally scheduled. On the plane, my seat neighbor struck up a conversation with me, which ended up talking about SF Cons, and I told her about Arisia, which she seemed very excited about. We exchanged email addresses and I told her she could poke me if she ended up attending.

The only unfortunate part is that I somehow lost my laptop mouse somewhere along the way, and I also picked up a cold somewhere, possibly in the first flight, and therefore exposed a ton of other people already. I've been through the sore throat, the runny nose, the stuffy nose, and now I suspect I have a slight fever, sinus pressure, and general achyness. Fortunately, it's all been fairly mild, and today is a cool rainy Sunday with no plans, perfect for lazing around drinking tea all day. Unfortunately, I just finished my 5th book of the week and I'm rather bored with lazing around, but I also don't really have energy to do much else. Maybe I'll see what else I can clean around here. After more tea.
blk: (tree)
I have SO many things to write. Why is it so hard to start?

I will start 2016 by doing some 2015 recapping.

This is Places I Slept in 2015 except I prefer to put a bit of explanation into each one so I don't confuse myself later.

I started the year in Pittsburgh, PA, which is really my favorite place to sleep of anywhere. In January, I drove down to visit family in Woodbridge, VA, and shortly thereafter, to our annual Arisia jaunt, where we overnighted with friends in Queens, NY and Waltham, MA in between the con in Boston, MA.

A few months passed before I left home again, first to visit and make new friends in Cleveland, OH, and the next month down again to Woodbridge and then out to Hanover Twp, PA (in Beaver County) for a regular camping trip with friends at Raccoon Creek State Park. The middle of the summer saw another trip to Boston to see a variety of friends, where I hopped around to Somerville, MA, Dorchester, MA, and Berlin, MA.

The end of the summer had the most biggest stretch in other cities, with first a 4 nights in New Lebanon, NY for camping and ice cream, then home for about 32 hours before flying to Seattle, WA for more camping with other family and friends in Seabeck, WA at Scenic Beach State Park.

I had a glorious three months (mostly) quietly at home again before squeaking in an end-of-the-year trip to Ohio for hiking and family, spending a few beautiful (and wet) nights in Logan, OH at Hocking Hills State Park and a short stay in Columbus, OH, before once again coming home to end the year in comfort and partying.

15 cities. That's enough for me.

Next up, books.
blk: (sunset)
I spent the last week in Seattle, visiting the sibling, chasing the niblings, and catching brief moments of time with a few friends. The bulk of the time was spent doing a long weekend camping trip at Spencer Spit State Park, a nice little camping area on Lopez Island, a few small landmasses away from the US-CA border.

Our group of 5 families was split with 10 adults and 10 kids (all under age 10), which made for a nice bit of well-ordered chaos in the mornings and early evenings. So while the rest of the families engaged in local sightseeing or nappage, I opted to spend the afternoons on my own doing some reading and walking and generally enjoying my time with nothing I needed to be doing except relaxing. There's really something to be said for having nothing to do. There is always so much to do in life - being home with nothing to do is simply not a state that exists for me. So as much as I love being home, I usually have to go elsewhere to really relax.

And in that state of nothing, with no internet and no pressing chores and nobody needs filling up my headspace and plenty of time, there's a lot of peace. Somewhere in the weekend I found a perfect moment, and I briefly held it, and I was aware of myself holding it. In that moment I could see myself and I knew how I fit in the world. I could see how to be a better parent, a better partner, a better person. I breathed in and out and was filled with love and contentment. The moment passed, as they all do, but it faded slowly, and in the ghost that remained I once again realized the necessity of vacations or retreats, of mediation, of mindfulness, of considered action, deliberate exercise, and time for my self. Things that help me find that moment of awareness on a regular basis and reminds me of what to strive for.

I'm back home again now, after a exhaustingly long day of travel and another of adjusting back to the usual busy flow, but I'm still holding onto a tiny thread in my head so I don't lose the feeling of rightness just yet, and writing this down so I remember to go look for it again when I do.
blk: (running)
5 - Number of days and nights I spent in Seattle last week visiting my seester and family, much of that spent car camping in Sequim Bay with my adorable 1yo niece and nephew, along with several other families. Seattle was nifty. Camping was fun, if chilly. Pictures were taken. Went on my first big ferry ride. Babies are cute. West coast time is wrong. Spent 12 hours getting back home on Tuesday (door to door, not counting the timezone diff). It was a lovely visit but I'm very glad to be back in Pittsburgh with warmer weather and a fluffy bed and children who can feed and dress themselves.

7 - bags of clothing that ended up at my house after a small swap last week. Mostly small-medium sized women's clothing, and some boys' clothing (mostly size 10 pants). I want to get rid of it soon, so if you want to come rummage through please pick a time in the next few days to come by my house and take whatever you desire.

16.2 - lbs of apples the boys and I picked up after a week of being gone that I deemed worth cutting into and chopping up to do things with. The younger boy made a fantastic apple pie, and the rest got turned into dried apples and 3 quarts of applesauce. Another lb yesterday went into another delicious Waldorf salad. (from a conversation from dinner: What would a Statler salad be made up of?) There appears to be no shortage of fruit left on the tree, either. Come get some!

29.08 - Minutes I took to run the Pretty Good Race today in Schenley. This is more than pretty good, as it's actually a whole minute faster than my time last year, and a new personal record for me running a 5k. Woohoo! While there, I may have also accidentally agreed to do something incredibly silly for the upcoming Great Race. More on that later if it pans out.

842 - Miles I rode on my bike in the previous 4 months (May-Aug), according to what I recorded for the National Bike Challenge. This evening was the wrap party, where I didn't win anything, but had tasty beer and food and chatted with friendly people. The Challenge was a lot of fun as it helped inspire me not only to ride more, but to really start thinking of the bike as a viable way to get around, as well as be fun. I ended up on my bike 100/123 days of those months, and I have no doubts that has helped my running, as well.

And now I'm going to take advantage of the quiet evening and this finished LJ post and Go To Sleep, as I am super tired from a busy day today as well as 5 days of being timezone shifted and 4 more days of getting up annoyingly early for planes and school. I intend to enjoy my sleep immensely.
blk: (icicles)
LJ catchup: December


Since moving in together, One thing [livejournal.com profile] xuth and I actually have a lot less of is time without any of our kids around. So we've been taking advantage of the big holidays - when school is out and visiting families is normal - to go out on our own and enjoy some quiet time. This xmas, after stopping in Columbus for a couple days, we drove down to a secluded cabin in Germany Valley, WV, for a few quiet days of hiking and sightseeing.

how pale is the sky that brings forth the rain )

I've really enjoyed the past couple years of snow hiking we've done, and have decided to definitely do some next year as well. We'd love to find other people to go with. Anybody out there interested in driving out to some remote region, renting a cabin for a few days of kids-less quiet and relaxation, and going out hiking in lovely freezing cold weather with us? Now taking applications...
blk: (sunset2)
Because random lists are no fun without backstory.

I started off 2010 in Arlington, MA visiting [livejournal.com profile] xuth, and rang in the new year with friends, hot chocolate, and Iron Dragon. This city was to be repeated twice more before he moved to Pittsburgh in April. Just a couple weeks later, I was in Cambridge, MA for the yearly Arisia chaos.

The next month took us down south, and we spent a night on the bay shore in Titusville, FL, huddled in sleeping bags and jackets, while attempting to see the STS-130 launch. Sadly, it got scrubbed, and so we went back to Tampa, FL to sleep in something closer to beds, and saw the launch the next morning from the other coast.

March couldn't pass by untraveled, so I took a weekend and drove out to Philadelphia, PA to visit with friends, contra dance, and grab a couple hours to hike a very short bit of Appalachian Trail and dinner in State College before coming back home.

April started back in Arlington packing up [livejournal.com profile] xuth and [livejournal.com profile] maedbh7, spent a short, tired night in Pittston, PA, and finished the trip to Pittsburgh the next day.

May's big event was my first trip to Seattle, WA in a long time for [livejournal.com profile] katybeth's wedding! It was a good weekend. Memorial day weekend kicked off our camping season, with a visit to Hocking Hills, and the campgrounds in Logan, OH, and the next weekend at Raccoon creek State Park in Hookstown, PA.

The month+ of roadtrips was next, as we drove to Brooklyn Park, MN over a long weekend to visit with some of my family in and around Minneapolis (and stopped by Columbus, OH for some of [livejournal.com profile] xuth's family). The next long weekend we took the five of us to New Lebanon, NY for our annual Baitcon adventure, stopping at home long enough to drop off kids and take a breath, then running off Bethel, VT for a weekend at Firefly. We then had a slightly longer break before a whirlwind visit to Boston for a wedding I was braiding for, which we made the most of by staying with friends in Berlin, MA and then Somerville, MA, where we also got to ride a mission with SCUL.

August was a month of staying at home, amazingly, or perhaps not so amazingly after I fell out of a raft and hurt my knee, keeping me crippled for the next couple months. Despite that, in September, we still made it back to Raccoon Creek for local uneventful camping, Oxidation Arts in Artemas, PA for fire arts camping, and Wildfire in Ashford, CT the weekend after.

October gave me a job! And the next two months were spent healing and learning how to be domestic and employed again, with three children in the house and back in school, and all the bustle that includes. It wasn't until December that I made it back up to Malden, MA to see my dear Scot friends who were visiting from across the pond.

Finally, late December took us back to Hocking Hills, where we stayed over Christmas weekend in a cute little cabin in Rockbridge, OH, and back again over New Years weekend to New Plymouth, OH, where we ended the year with friends, hot chocolate, and Iron Dragon. A fitting and satisfying finish.
blk: (icicles)
old man's cave in hocking hills, oh

First view of the cliffs near Old Man's Cave, Hocking Hills, OH - Dec 25, 2010
blk: (braids)
After the trip to MN last week, we drove back to Pittsburgh, unpacked the car, collected a few kids, did laundry, borrowed and packed the car, and left for camping in the mountains of NY.


rawr by qwrrty

Baitcon is as Baitcon is, which is full of ice cream and wonderful people and all sorts of fun. There was a plethora of bouncy stilting this year, in part thanks to the carload of stilts [livejournal.com profile] xuth and I brought up with us. I tried my foot on a slackline, which was fun but very difficult. I finally got enough Dominion so that I think I can say I've learned how to play. I braided hair, including mine up with fun colors so that I don't have to think about it for the next while. I joined the Utilikilt contingent for giggles. I took naps and a few pictures and played with liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen. I got insect bites, a lot more than previous years, including one from a tick. I found him early, though, so I do hope this one heals faster than the other one (3.5 years and waiting!).

And then after a long and full weekend, we drove back home to unpack and return the car, get rid of the kids, do laundry, pack the car, and leave for camping in the mountains of VT. Man, we're crazy.

The night we got back, we noticed teh internets were out. Being too exhausted to think about it, I put off debugging until morning, when, after a few power cycles, I checked the landline, and noted the dial tone was out. Yep, that'd do it. A call to Verizon fixed it with an "oops" on their end, but the day of waiting around with No! Internet! prompted me to go ahead and hack my phone a bit more to enable tethering. Hurray! I now have internets everywhere! Well, almost everywhere, but everywhere enough that I can post this entry while riding in a car on the freeway through NY. Muahaha.

To make things better, while in the middle of dropping off kids at camp the first day back, I popped my beloved Saturn into reverse to turn around and.... something popped a lot harder than it should have and suddenly I couldn't shift to any gear other than reverse. I coasted awkwardly into a sort-of parking spot to call for help and await a tow truck, then enjoyed a very nice day for a couple mile walk home. The clutch cable broke, and as soon as they can find a Saturn-parts supplier, it'll get fixed for somewhat annoying but not horribly huge sums of cash. Good thing I don't need my car for the next week or so.

In the rest of the time we had to get ready for the next camping trip, I baked and cleaned while Xuth packed and prepped. Sadly, I barely glanced at my garden, which is slowly being overgrown by ignored tomato plants, or my blueberry bushes, which are merrily ripening away. It's lovely to own a place where I can enjoy locally grown food, except I'm feeling guilty about not taking proper care of things.

Meanwhile, this weekend we are off to Firefly to do some hard camping. I'm a little trepidatious about it, as it'll be my first time at any Burner-type event (and Xuth's mostly first time really doing this -with- someone), and I don't expect to know many people there. [livejournal.com profile] frobzwiththingz promised me that I wouldn't die, so here's hoping.
blk: (elfcycle)
[livejournal.com profile] xuth and I have driven over 2000 miles in the past 5 days, over 6 states, visiting my family in MN (and his in OH). It's very good to be home. Exhaustingly, this was but the first of three extra long traveling weekends; next week we head to NY, and the week after to VT, both for camping. Thankfully, this was the longest drive of the three, so I'm hoping the next two will feel easy in comparison.

I had a birthday come and go quietly. Wasn't much to celebrate, as we were on the road all day, but in a few weeks maybe I'll declare an observational day and spoil myself in some way. Amusingly, when I don't advertise the day on FB, almost nobody remembers it.

In very local news, we had a really killer beginning strawberry season last month, with the patch producing almost too fast for us to keep up, and maxing out at about 5 lbs one week. There were many smoothies, snacks, and a small amount of jam enjoyed. And just as those berries are slowing down, the blueberry bushes out front have exploded. I noticed a couple years ago that I seem to have three distinctly different varieties of blueberry bushes. The inset picture above highlights their clear size difference. I think I prefer the taste of the medium-sized ones the best. Unfortunately, this doesn't work out so well with our traveling plans, so I may have to rely on friends and neighbors to make sure not many go to waste.

I was walking by the front door tonight when I heard a jangle of a bell on a collar - one that was distinctly different from the one on my kitty. There was a tabby on my front porch, peering in nervously. He skitterishly ran when I opened the door, but came back quickly to get petted and scratched. The cat had a very clear look of not being used to being outside, which was enforced as I brought out some leftover canned tuna in water and he started scarfing it down. The number on the tag showed him to be unregistered to an owner other than the humane society, so perhaps a new adoptee. Unfortunately, the HS was closed for the night, and I don't have a good way of securing a strange cat overnight. I left some cat food out and will see if he's still hanging around in the morning. I just heard his bell jangle a few minutes ago, which sounds as though he's still nearby.

Now I should really sleep. Definitely will be a busy next few days.
blk: (no-el)
My vacation started early morning, three Sundays ago, right after a bunch of snow came through Pittsburgh. A tired and sick [livejournal.com profile] severinpgh helped a tired and sick me escape to the airport, and onto a plane that miraculously left mostly on time, without mishap. I was offered a nice window seat... sort of, which I kept because it came with a row of three empty seats on an otherwise mostly full flight. Annoyingly, heavy congestion (+ decongestant!) + airplane altitudes = completely stuffed up head for the next full day. Fortunately, I didn't have much on my agenda except relaxing and recovering for the next few days.

relaxing in Tampa, theatre ninjas, and Myakka state park )

the trip up north, Boston, New Years, and back home again )

Back home, I slept soundly, back home in my own bed, with my wonderful kitty snuggling me all night long next to me, buried under blankets with me. I'm slowly catching up on various stuff and things, although running behind on other things, such as prepping for Arisia next week. Aiee!
blk: (spicy)
The awesome thing I did this past weekend: I went to the Ohio Renaissance Festival and braided hair.

some background on why this was so awesome for me )
blk: (flower)
I missed posting on the autumnal cross-quarter by a couple days, thanks to an increasingly busy schedule, so doing it on the numerically stuttering day instead. Moving into the second half of summer and starting a harvest has meant a lot less relaxation, but still plenty of good things.

good things, busy things, upcoming travel, a request )
blk: (computer)
I'm in Chicago the last part of this week, taking advantage of Perl classes offered in conjunction with the local YAPC. Everything is held on the IIT campus, including low-cost housing offered by the dorms, since the semesterly students are gone for the summer.

Read more... )
blk: (icicles)
Vacation trip by the numbers.

Miles driven: 1575
States visited: 6
Prices paid for gas: 2.93 (lowest, in N. PA), and 3.31 (highest, in E. NY)
Large forests tromped through: 2
Homes visited: 10
Homes I accidentally left things of mine at: 2
Homes I forgot to leave things at: 1
Times I swore googlemaps directions were wrong (or at least unclear): 3
Times I cursed myself for not having a GPS with maps on me: too many (guess what the topic of a near future post will be)
Times I un-losted myself without help: about 10
Times I needed help getting unlost: 0 (aw, yeah!)
Braids done on other people: 11 (I think)
Settlers games played: 2
T rides: 4
Number of boats I got stuck behind on the highway: 1

shut up and drive )
blk: (shades)
I am back home in Pittsburgh after the yearly trek to Tampa. Some observation:

I like heat. I greatly prefer less humid heat, although I can stand Florida heat if I'm going to be outside for less than an hour. Any longer and there better be a nice breeze along with it and me in my swimsuit. The one advantage Florida has is warm water. Oh yes, I looooooves me my 85+°F water temperatures.

The sun is way too hot down there. We went to Clearwater beach again, and I got burned in the morning in a bit over two hours (yes, I was wearing liberal amounts of sunscreen; no, I didn't reapply it after an hour). I can tell signs of sunburn without looking at myself (overly sensitive to ambient temperature, very tired), except that I don't notice until after I've been out of the sun for a while.

Read more... )
blk: (tree)
A very pleasant, rather brief visit to Boston ended my week. I even have pictures to prove it!

My flight was Thursday afternoon, and by sheer coincidence, [livejournal.com profile] bhudson was taking the same one. So we 28x'ed up together and managed to trade some seats so we could sit next to each other. Uneventful flight, which I managed to mostly doze through. [livejournal.com profile] shayde and Z were my saviors at the Logal Express terminal, and the rest of the evening was more relaxed. Friday day was mostly spent in the quiet comfort of Interlude doing actual work, and the evening with [livejournal.com profile] omegabeth, [livejournal.com profile] qwrrty and kids, chinese food, and Singin' in the Rain, which I'd never seen all the way through before.

Saturday rose bright and beautiful, and the men of the house and I went out for some natural enjoyment of it.

or it's gonna be a rock or tree )
blk: (summer)
Now that the heat wave over the northeast has mostly passed, I can talk about my love for summer without getting beaten up. Yes, I am a hot weather person. For those who don't know yet, I hail from the exotic, tropical country of Floridia (more commonly known as the state of Florida). More than just a 'gator-infested swamp with a mouse stuck in the middle, it's also home to mosquito hoards that will eat you alive in 2.6 seconds and cockroaches the size of small rats, as well as more pleasant things, like beaches with toasty warm waters and the occasional hurricane.

It is also, in case you hadn't guessed, where I am currently visiting and posting from.

cut for the heat )
blk: (sunset2)
I've really been incredibly lucky with most of my airline experiences. I've flown throughout my life, mostly on USAirways (since PIT was a hub for a long time and TPA is also pretty busy), and generally have had no problems. I'd never had a flight cancelled on me until a couple months ago (which was replaced immediately); I'd never been delayed long enough to cause a problem; I'd never had baggage lost (at least for more than a few hours); and I'd very frequently get flights that arrived early. Sure, I've had my gripes with USAirways, but never really any reason to hate them.

Until now.

a little timeline, in which is contained a little rant )
blk: (grin)
I had a very pleasant vacation week, saw people, did things, braided hair, and took a variety of pictures. Recapping here.

cut for pics and excessive lj user tags )

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