Friday, September 19, 2014

Until August

Almost caught up! My city is just so much fun, especially in the summer. Our local parks department puts on shows so you can go and listen to music in several city parks. I went quite frequently with friends this summer.

Here is photographic evidence of my car hitting 100,000 miles.  I actually hate my car.  It was a terrible choice.  It only has two door so is inconvenient, is super low to the ground, the check engine light is always on; I could go on and on.  It does have a great stereo!  In any case, I've thought about replacing my car (it's a 2002; purchased in 2001) but I hardly ever drive, so it makes financial sense to drive it as long as possible.  I hit 100,000 miles while going down the freeway.  I'm hoping to keep it for another few years while I make improvements to my house and save money.
I was making a dish of Thai peanut sauce with roasted broccoli.  Max kept saying, "want some!" I thought she wanted broccoli, but she had her eye on the peanut butter.  Once I figured that out and complied, all was right in our house again:
 I kept giving her broccoli, and she kept throwing it on the counter!

My best friend does Scottish Highland dancing, so I went to a festival to watch her.  Because I was with the talent, I got to sit backstage.  It was so much fun!
And a baseball game.  I am sponsored by a local running store; mostly because I am really good friends with the lady who is in charge of the sponsorship program.  Every year, they do an employee outing to our local MLB team.  And, even though I do not work there, I have been adopted as one of their own.
One of my friends is an amazing cook.  He had me over to their house a few weeks ago, and he served individual pizzas for everyone.  He used naan as the crust, and then you top as desired.  What a fantastic idea!  I have stated making these for myself:
And that pretty much brings me up to speed on what happened this summer.  I am still in denial that fall is coming, but I need to face reality.

I hope that everyone reading had a great summer and continues to do well!

Boating, with dogs

I may have mentioned this earlier, but, quite by accident, I have recently become friends with people who like to take me out on their boat. Yay for me!

Over July 4, I went out on my friends' boat to watch the fireworks.  I invited two married friends to go with me (my best friend and her husband.)  They reciprocated by having us all out on their boat a month or so later.  With their dogs.

This is Hans.  He is my surrogate dog.  He absolutely loves me.  When I run with my best friend (who owns Hans and his sister), I hold his leash.  When he sees me, he jumps up and down; turning in circles with excitement.  It is so fun to see.  And he'll do it every time, even if he just saw me three hours earlier.  He is willed to me, though that should not come into play since his owners are just 40!
We had a great afternoon and have plans to do this more often in 2015.

Max eats broccoli

Since I'm working and going out more than I did before, I do the best I can to continue to give my parrots lots of attention.

Which means they "help" me cook. Max is testing the freshness of my broccoli. Which looks a bit toxic and glowing in this picture, but which was actually organic and delicious!

Another beer fest

My parents and I, sometimes with other guests, have gone to a beer fest every year since it started in 2010. Therefore, 2014 was our 5th year doing this. As always, so much fun. My parents are great sports and are probably doing things in their 60s with me that they never imagined they would be doing. The divorce was good for my entire family!

Have you ever heard of Beard Beer?  When I was at my local liquor store, they told me about it, but it sounded so disgusting that I didn't buy any.  After thinking about it for a few months, and deciding to play a trick on my parents, I went back to buy some but they were out of it and not planning on getting any more.  I figured my chance to try it was over.

But I hadn't considered the beer fest!

They had it, and it was surprisingly good.
For those not in the know, they found the yeast for this beer in the beard of one of the workers.  Pictured on the bottle.  My dad wouldn't try it, but my mom and I agreed that it just tasted like pretty good regular beer!

This beer fest happens to be on the same weekend as a big street festival about two blocks away.  So, even though we'd been drinking most of the afternoon, we headed over to the festival.  There is a bar in my town that is known for its international theme -- I went here to watch many of the World Cup games.  I told my dad that it was one of the hippest bars in town (you can tell I am not hip as I actually said that to him), and he responded, "That's why we're here, of course!"

So he went to buy us what we didn't need: another beer.
We ran into some friends at the street festival, and had a great time. Finally, we decided it was time to go home, so started walking.  But first, I wanted to show my parents the amazing house that two of my very good friends just bought and renovated.  They weren't home, so I texted them, they gave me the garage code, and we took a tour.  What a fun evening!

And then we stopped on the way home for some pie:
We had a great evening.  My parents spent the night at my house, and my dad had his first good night's sleep in months.  (I have an amazing bed -- trying to get them to buy one -- and my dad needed surgery -- which he had and which was successful.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vacation!

I hadn't been on a true vacation since I'd been divorced -- a couple of long weekends with my best friend in order to run a marathon in another state. All of my siblings live on the west coast. They all came in to town in July in order to celebrate my dad's 65th birthday.

One of my sisters drove in with her husband, who flew back alone (she works in the school so has summers off) and the other one flew in.  We decided to drive back together -- my first real road trip!  Of course, I look at her potential itinerary and realize that we will be driving through Utah just as a marathon is taking place!  My sisters were troopers, and we slowed down our trip by half a day or so in order for me to check another state off of my list!

I didn't keep great records of where these were taken, but I believe it's in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I purchased a CD that was supposed to enhance our drive through the mountains -- and it worked!
This Clark's Nutcracker (add another one to the life list!) was begging for food; luckily we all ignored him -- he needs to be wild!
Gorgeous!  I just loved it.  I have tentative plans to go back with one of my close friends.  I can't wait!
We stopped to do a bit of birding -- more for the life list; alas, no pictures! -- my sisters aren't birders, but they were good sports about it.
This translation was in our hotel room in Utah.  It had us all confused.  We tried google translate and posting on facebook.  The next morning, I called the front desk and asked what the second language was.  He claimed that they paid someone to translate it into Spanish but they only recently found out that it wasn't actually Spanish.  We found this so funny.
I showed it to a couple of friends -- one from Colombia and another from Costa Rica and both of them said, "I do not think that is Spanish."  Perfect!

Here is a picture from Dinosaur National Monument.  There were so many dinosaur bones here that they left some in a hill so that we could see what it was like for the archaeologists.  You can touch them and everything.  Highly recommended, and pretty empty of people (especially compared to Rocky Mountain National Park!)
We continued on driving, I ran the marathon (I won an age group award of a loaf of bread!), and we eventually made it to Crater Lake.  The last time I was here, I was married, and we ran the marathon together.  This time, it was with better company and more relaxed.  Once again, so beautiful.  You just look and wonder how this is possibly real.
In Oregon, there was a lava flow that happened a long time ago and created some interesting landscapes.  We trapsed around a bit, and then went to a lava cave.  So happy to visit these places after all the mess died down.
We finally made it to Portland, where my favorite aunt and uncle live.  Among other things, we went to the Chinese garden, where I got this fortune:
Yay!

Later, back at my sister's condo, we had a great time, which included making pina coladas.
I didn't take many pictures that I can post here.  They'd just adopted a new cat, who was quite skittish and living under my guest bed.  My sister and her husband were in the living room watching TV, but I'd gone to bed since I had an early flight. 

The cat came out from under the bed and I took this picture and texted it to my sister (in the next room) but by the time she arrived, the cat was already under the bed again.  I kind of like being able to keep my parrots in cages since I know where they are at all times!
To wrap up, we had an amazing vacation, and are in preliminary planning for our next one.  I'll be a little busy next year -- running the Boston Marathon, going to France with my mom, possibly doing rim-ro-rim of the Grand Canyon with a close friend -- but someday soon, the three of us will hit the road again!

And June comes to a close...

Less than three months behind now!

June ended with a whirlwind of concerts -- Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, and Outkast: four days straight!  I actually don't listen to contemporary country music (though I can talk about late-90s country for days...) but my motto is that you don't turn down free tickets!

My recommendations, for what it's worth:

Brad Paisley -- a big MEH.  If you are offered free tickets and don't have anything better to do OR if you are a big Brad Paisley fan, then you should go.  But I wouldn't pay money to see him or go much out of my way.
Luke Bryan, on the other hand, put on a great show, even for someone like me who knew none of his music.  Still not sure I would pay, since I don't know the songs, but I'd rearrange my schedule to go if offered free tickets.
Outkast (disclaimer: I have been a HUGE fan for years) was AMAZING.  The crowd was so into it, and since they don't have a new album out, they just played the hits.  If they are coming to your area and you love them, please go!

It was definitely the most diverse audience I've ever been in (which I love) and it's put me into nostalgia (I can't tell you how many times I've listened to "B.O.B." and "Ms. Jackson" over this summer!)
It's my birthday in July, and I received this fabulous package in the mail!  I had to post on facebook to see who sent it to me; my wonderful cousin.  I've been so busy and haven't made it yet, but what a fun surprise to find at my door!
My best friend and her husband (also a friend) went out with me for my birthday.  We went to a Vietnamese place and I had pho.  Perhaps it's a lot better if you eat meat, but I really didn't see what the fuss was about.  Glad we went and the company and conversation (as always) were great.
Since Max is obsessed with flying to my stained glass window and chewing the wood, we have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately.  That's where I am right now, in fact!  Here is a picture of the two of them.

Max, as always, is begging for head pets.  Calypso, who had been wandering around my counter, wound up settling on my stick (which I keep handy in case I need to remove Max from the stained glass: so high up!) and doing the parrot-equivalent of the barrel-roll.

Fun times!

Lazy Days

I purchased a hammock to go on my porch this summer, and have spent many lazy hours reading outside. I love it! Sometimes, I take the parrots out with me so they can enjoy the breezes:

Concerts & Closings

I had an amazing summer. One of my goals was to attend 14 concerts in 2014. I achieved that before the end of June! (Interestingly enough, I have not gone to any since then and it's mid-September!)

One of my favorite concerts was Lady Gaga.  We were in the pit, so had a good view of the stage, but because she's so short and we were in the back of the pit, we mostly saw her backup dancers and saw her on the video screens.

We put lightning bolts on our faces, and I went with three of my favorite friends.
What an experience!
**********
Shortly thereafter, I learned that my favorite restaurant, which happens to be just a few blocks from my house, was closing!  My parents and I go here frequently, my best friend and I went at least once a month, I had many first dates here (maybe those are worth forgetting!)

In any case, my best friend and I went on the last weekend it was open, for old time's sake.  I took a day off of work and we had a great time.
It's going to reopen soon, as another one of my favorite local restaurants (a small chain -- this will be its 3rd location.)  However, my parents love Italian food and aren't exactly fond of Mexican, so we'll see if they even try it.

Parrot yoga

When it's nice outside, after I get back from my morning run, I put Max in her sleep cage and bring her on my porch with me while I do yoga.

Sometimes she yells "Hello!" at the passers-by with their dogs, but mostly she just says "Oof!" as I transition from downward dog to plank.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Outsmarted!

In my new house, Max's favorite spot is on top of my stained glass window that's in my stairwell.  You can see it in the background of this picture.

However, she is not allowed there, as she chips off pieces of old wood and I want my house to look nice!

I attempted to hang a curtain in my stairwell to prevent her from going up there.  But the barrier was ineffective as she just decided to perch on it instead!  And usually wind up on the stained glass after a few minutes of strutting around, proud of herself.
I have also tried using a curtain to enclose her in the living room, where their cages are.  She has a two-pronged approach to deal with this inconvenience:

First, she flies directly into the curtain several times, to see if she can dislodge the tension rod and cause the curtain to fall (this must hurt...)

When this fails (about half the time), she flies to the ground, crawls under the 1/2 inch space at the bottom of the fabric, and then flies to the stained glass window.

I still have not figured out an effective solution to this other than intense supervision and going upstairs with her.  Or corralling her in the kitchen with me.  I need to become smarter than my parrot!

(My actual plan is to get something that can fit there so she no longer can.  I just have to figure out what and actually do it!)