The Hellhole

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's been a busy few days but in a fun, social way.  Last Wednesday I went to my friend Krissy's painting party where we were doing lawn art/decorations (and eating lots of snacks!).  I painted this pretty butterfly - at least I hope it's pretty - if you think otherwise, don't tell me.

The lady who runs the parties gave me a picture for reference but it wasn't a paint-by-numbers thing.  It was just me, trying.  She did the silver bow for me at the top.

In this photo it is hanging in my garage but we had it hanging out by the pool Sunday (more on this later).

The lawn-art-painting-lady also had pieces she'd done herself for sale and I bought one that said "POOL" where the P and L were letters but one O was the sun and another was a beach ball.  We had both of those hanging on the back of the house facing the pool when Nancy's family came over Sunday!

But in the meantime, on Saturday night we had dinner with friends Anne and Rick here.  The four of us had a favorite Italian restaurant which, much to our regret, closed a bit over a year ago.  We gripe about it, dine elsewhere and lament the loss of Chianti, but Saturday at Provino's, we had a great dinner (and a lovely time with lovely friends) and hope it can become a regular thing for us.  While it won't be the same, it still has potential.

Then on Sunday, as mentioned,  I was hosting a small pool party.  In the days leading up to the gathering, I had said to Alan probably a half-dozen times, and to myself at least 2.5 times that, that I wasn't going to overdo it.  Because I always overdo it when folk come over, I always do.  But Sunday, I totally didn't over do it! 


Um, yeah.  THREE people were coming over, and besides this, Alan was going to grill burgers and brats, and we had sides and chips.

Yeah, I overdo it.  It's my thing.  It's what I do.

BTW Nancy brought that tabouli which was lovely!

I've tried to think of a nice, neat conclusion for a few minutes but all I've been able to think of is, "I love my friends and I'm so glad I have them!"

And here's a puppy.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Today is the anniversary of our first date, and we celebrate First-Dateversary along with wedding anniversaries, because we're dorks like that.  Most years we try to do dinner and a movie, since that's what we did on the first date, but there don't happen to be any movies out right now that both of us want to see.  We liked the Despicable Me movies so we want to see the minions one, but that's not out for another week or two.

We are both off today, so we started the celebration with lunch at our favorite neighborhood pub.  Then we stopped by Rhodes Bakery, where we got our wedding cakes and the cake for Alan's birthday party last year, to load up on cheese stars (yummm!) and some dessert items for later:  turtle brownies, cream cheese brownies, petit fours, white chocolate dipped pretzels - only a dozen of each though, so not so bad.  I'm totally lying about that; we got a sampling that included the aforementioned.  We then headed farther north to the Avenues at Webb Gin, an outdoor shopping mall which is really not that far from us but because of the many traffic lights and quite a lot of traffic, isn't particularly convenient so we don't go there all that often.

There is a big Barnes and Noble there, though, and we wanted to wander around the bookstore.  While I love the convenience and ease of Amazon, and those plus the instant gratification of the iPad's Kindle app, there's something special about just roaming around the bookstore.  The former two are mostly good only if you already know what you want; and although sometimes Amazon gives me good suggestions based on my purchasing history, sometimes they suggest something that makes me want to die of embarrassment and/or go a-shriving as I wonder what the hell I ever did that was so bad as to deserve that recommendation.  Alan bought one book - he likes Yotsuba but although I bought nine, five of them are tomes he wants to read as well (four Pratchetts, one Fforde) and he may want to read a sixth, a graphic novel I purchased called The King in Yellow, for which I have high hopes.

When we left there, we stopped at a frozen yogurt store (yes, despite all the delicious sweets in my trunk we bought more dessert elsewhere - it's First-Dateversary, rules don't apply!) and had a small treat.  Peachwave is self-serve - you pick your flavor and then add your toppings, so it doesn't have to be a huge, overwhelming amount. I had banana and Alan got cookies-n-cream.

Then we went a bit further down to Yankee Candle and bought a few new scents.  We love fresh, clean scents and YC is just the best.  There's one, lemon lavender, that I can smell when I pull into our garage when he's got it burning in his study at the other end of the house.  And hey, it's not like we have two big cartons of Yankee Candles sitting unopened in our front room.  Those of you who've been to my house recently, shut up!

Our last stop was American Eagle Outfitters.  I bought a long-sleeved tee there several months ago on a whim, and I love that shirt.  It is so soft and comfy!  I was hoping to find similar, but I didn't.  I did buy some lounge pants, though, which were on sale for 25% off.  I have two pairs of summer lounge pants but one pair was getting pretty worn-out and gross.  Well, actually, I have three pairs of summer lounge pants but since last summer I haven't been able to find my SpongeBob ones so I've just been wearing these two pink-patterened ones I got as a 2-pack at Sam's Club for $10 five or six years ago.  I've spilled nail polish and nail glue and unidentified substances on one pair several times, threads were coming unraveled, they were looking pretty skanky.  For reasons I cannot explain, I seem to have more accidents in this one (flowered) pair than I do the other (striped) pair.  So anyway I bought some A.E.O. lounge pants and resolved to throw the pink flowered pair away once we got home, which I did.  Then I changed into the new lounge pants and my sweet baby dog, Commander Vimes, came up to sniff me all over.

"You stink of hipster!" he said, which I felt was in no way fair comment, especially since I had paired the new lounge pants with my Green Lantern t-shirt.  Yeah, this is the same Green Lantern t-shirt that turned my shoulders, boobs and favorite bra green, but it doesn't do that any more after many launderings.

Okay, okay, so maybe I might have bought a few small tubs of buttercream icing from Rhode's Bakery as well.

Don't judge me.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Who's number one on the Chihuahua Reddit?

This sweet baby girl!  (Not this picture, though - Alan posted a different one.)

That's only one of Esme's recent achievements.  Alan has discovered that she can count to four!  At 10:00 AM, he gets his mid-morning snack and so do the doggies; he will have an apple or pretzel chips and hummus, something like that, while they get a Sargento cheddar/colby/jack cheese stick to share.

Alan cuts their cheese stick into twelve cubes, so four pieces per dog, and when he gives it out, he mixes up the order so that with each round of noms, everyone gets a chance to be first and no one is always last.  Everyone knows when it's time to have their cheese cubes, and lines up around his desk chair.  Esme stands on her hind legs with her front paws propped up on Alan's leg.  He says that whenever she gets her fourth cube, regardless of what order they're being issued and whether or not there are still cubes on his desk, she hops down and scoots away to conduct other important puppy business.  The boys hang out a while, hoping he might have extra cheese somewhere in reserve, or feel like giving out other nibbles, but not Esme. She knows four, and when she's given her fourth cheese, she's off!

Monday, June 15, 2015

My car has a data screen that displays various bits of information, among them the artist and song title of whatever is currently playing.  There is a character limit, which was a source of great amusement to me during this afternoon's commute.

In other news, I have discovered Commander Vimes's kryptonite.  All the doggies take pills each day:  Mister Fusspot takes Ocu-Glo for his eyes, Vimes takes apoquel to calm his itches and everyone gets Benadryl, especially during pollen season.  For some time, Kraft American singles worked fine for disguising medicine but the boys have grown bored with it.  Esme is still all about the cheese.  I switched to those meaty pill pockets, which worked for a while but now there's about a fifty-fifty chance of those being scorned, as well.  With Mister Fusspot, about all we can do is offer the treat (whether cheese- or meat-coated) multiple times until he finally eats it or we give up in frustration.

Quite by accident when trying out some new treats for variety's sake, I discovered that Commander Vimes has a deep and abiding love for peanut butter.  I know most dogs like it, but he'd rather have peanut butter than meat.  I think he'd eat a cotton ball if I slapped enough Jif onto it.  Now whenever he scorns his pill pocket, I tell him something like, "I've got your number, buddy," or "Nice try but I've evolved past your trickery!" and glob some peanut butter around the outside of his medicine.

I've also been filling his Kong with peanut butter periodically and he loves that.  The first time I gave Kongs to Mister Fusspot and Esme, they looked at me with an expression that was equal parts mildly irritated and vaguely insulted, like, "You expect us to work for our treats?!?  Have you the brain-worms?!?" but Vimes loves his Kong.  He's such a fun, happy little guy.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

While we were staying in downtown Atlanta, we often caught sight of the new streetcar, which is a total waste as far as I'm concerned because the cars are often broken down, always slow and look just like a stupid random train car instead of a cool streetcar like they have in San Francisco or New Orleans.  They're just this bluish purple bullet-shaped things with "streetcar" painted on them - 'cause that's helpful.

However, it was a great source of amusement because whenever he spotted one, Alan started chanting, "Monorail! Monorail!: from The Simpsons - it's so sad that Phil Hartman was killed.  What an effing waste.  Genuine bonafide six-car monorail!  So we'd be in the elevator and Alan would do this little juke-dance as he sang, "Monorail! Monorail!"  He put a picture of the streetcar on his FaceBook and added an Apu quote:  "Is there a chance the track would bend? "- and it was mere seconds before one of his friends replied, "Not on your life my Hindu friend!"

We got to watch American Pharaoh win the Triple Crown while eating snacks and h'ors douevres in the RC lounge - that was really bitchin' cool!  I think I was 9 or 10 the last time that happened, so - AWESOME!!!

Great time, all weekend.  This week as far as work goes has been pretty awful, but I shall last through.  In the meantime, my bud Phil told me about this hysterically funny movie - it's a satire of reality shows, as the camera crew follow vampires around.  I exaggerate, but not by much, when I write This Is Spinal Vamp - it's actually called What We Do In The Shadows, and it's warped, twisted and majorly funny.  I highly recommend you checking it out.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Getting Cultured, Thanks To Family Guy

Two years ago, for/around our anniversary, we spent a long weekend at the Ritz-Carlton, ate some fabulous meals, visited the Georgia Aquarium - had a lovely, wonderful time.  We wanted that to be our "thing" that we did every year for our anniversary but last year, for many various reasons, it didn't happen.  The same thing seemed to be imminent this year, as we started trying to pick weekends in April but things kept interfering with one weekend or another, such as a new software roll-out at my office kept being scheduled and then postponed, so almost as soon as we'd choose a weekend, circumstances would rule it out.  April passed, May passed (the actual anniversary month), June was poised to go similarly, but I finally realized that if we kept postponing, we'd never go, like last year, so I scheduled Friday off and kept to it, even though I had to be on a conference call about the new software (which call didn't get rescheduled, much to my surprise).  That was all I had to do, though, so by 4PM we were in our room on the top floor of the Ritz downtown.

We were given glasses of champagne and Snickers bars at check-in.  Alan doesn't drink so I got two champagnes.  I texted my friend Anne, "Ah, the Ritz-Carlton!  The lovely smell of money...and of rich people sweating nervously as they instinctively sense that someone in my tax bracket is among them."  Fresh orchids in our room every day, club level means free lavish breakfasts, an array of tasty snacks like cheeses, fresh fruit, mini-quiches, pastry-wrapped asparagus, hummus...okay, I need to stop or I will need to flee back to the Ritz and leave my post unfinished.

We had discussed visiting the aquarium and maybe doing one of the interactive things - for an extra charge you can do a 'behind the scenes' educational thing and interact with either dolphins, sea otters or penguins.  I was leaning toward sea otters.  We hadn't made a decision when, a few evenings before our trip, I was in the den reading on my iPad and had the television on, which I usually do for background noise or the occasional laugh.  Family Guy was on and I overheard Brian say in a rather pompous manner, "Lauren and I had a lovely time at the art museum."

Hmmm, thought I.  I went back to his study and told Alan what Brian had just said, and added, "We could go to the art museum instead of the aquarium, if you'd be up for that.  I don't think I've been to the High since a seventh grade field trip."  Alan said, "I haven't been there in decades, either - not since middle school, I think."  We talked about it a bit and decided that's what we'd do yesterday, and we had a wonderful time.  

It was a great experience and we want to go again.  We're even discussing becoming members; the temporary exhibitions seem to change pretty often so there are new things to see and enjoy.   I didn't take many pictures because I was so busy looking at them (and furniture and glass and jewelry and sculptures!).  This time there were a lot of Coca-Cola related Andy Warhol pieces on loan from the Warhol museum as part of a Coca-Cola exhibit, which was interesting but I think I enjoyed the old Italian masters part of the permanent collection most of all.

I have more pictures and stories to share, but for now - Alan and I are puzzled as to how I arrived at the museum half an hour before he did, considering that he drove me there and was next to me in line.  Obviously there is a time portal in the lobby of the High Museum of Art.  Oh, I'm sure ye of limited imagination will suggest a dozen more plausible explanations, but obviously there is a time portal in the lobby of the High Museum of Art.

Monday, May 25, 2015

I've been neglecting Ye Olde Blogge again but this time I have an excuse - well, two excuses.  One is that May is a very busy month for us under normal circumstances, with Mothers' Day, family reunion for Alan's maternal side, shopping and cooking for both of those events, our anniversary, opening the pool for summer - and this year we had other activities as well - a Todd Rundgren concert, Rush concert tomorrow night.  My second excuse is that a few months ago, I did something horrible to my sweet little Mac, which it in no way deserved:  I upgraded from Snow Leopard to Yosemite.  Yosemite is slower than maple syrup on a Vermont winter morning; it takes 3 - 4 minutes to load just freaking Google.  I hate you, Yosemite; I hate you with the fiery white-hot heat of ten thousand suns.  I even called the genius bar to ask if I brought it in, would they be able to banish Yosemite and install an actually workable OS.  They said yes but I've been too busy to deal with it.  I'd been complaining, but I don't think Alan believed me; he knows I hate and fear change and I think he figured I'd get over it eventually, after I'd done enough bitching (which is usually the case).  Then his co-worker Mo upgraded and started ranting about how slow and awful Yosemite was.  Like Alan, Mo is in the computer industry and I was therefore vindicated, but remain incredibly frustrated trying to do anything on my Mac.

So that's why I'm remiss in uploading lots of pictures from several visits (yes, plural) to the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  Alan and I are truly loving having a membership there.  On Mothers' Day we took Mom, and my brother and his wife drove down from Greenville to join us.  We had two guest passes, so Bo and Sarah got in free as well.  We wandered around for hours, then had a late lunch at Fado's Irish Pub -  it was a great day for all.


This reflecting pool and the stairway fountain below are new.

Mom and Sarah

Mom and Bo

The Fuqua Orchid House has a new section of desert succulents.

And orchids of course.

The Gaia is my favorite thing.

When we were there a couple of weeks ago, she was down for
maintenance.  I nearly flung myself into the reflecting pool
prostrate with grief.

Then we were back at the garden last Friday night for dinner at the cafe there - cheese plate and charcuterie platter, YUM!!! and Bruce Munro's night of lights art installation.

It was incredibly beautiful.
When it came to this exhibit, our iPhones took better
pictures than my DSLR.

This dome changed through a rainbow of colors, but the
best shot I got happened when it was clear.

Not part of the garden - the flowers
 I received for our anniversary.