Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yard Work Girl

After touring the construction site of the KC Performing Arts Center with my P.E.O. chapter this morning (the concert hall and future home of the KC Symphany is behind me), I tackled all the yard work I should have been doing this spring but managed to put off for various reasons (Australia, scrapbooking, working, swimming, other more-fun-than-yard-work-things, etc).

In about 4 and a half hours today, in addition to making myself look completely disgusting (dirt everywhere, including under my finger nails which drives me crazy), I've managed to:
  • clean the gutters (really old standing water smells really bad, by the way)
  • trim the hedges in my front yard without cutting the extension cord
  • rake up the trimmed hedge branches and a few miscellaneous leaves that got mixed in
  • put new mulch around the tree in the front yard
  • spread down a lime treatment in the front yard, which is what the Tru-Green guy that knocked on my door on Thursday night said I need to get new grass to grow again
  • sweep the driveway (had to use the manual sweeper instead of the blower because some of the little hurricane goodies were stuck to the driveway)
  • move all the remaining firewood from the back yard to the garage.
  • rake up the leaves from the back porch
  • move the wind chimes from the screened-in porch to the hanging basket cord outside
  • re-stake the rain gauge in to the yard. hope it stays because it makes me happy to know how much rain has fallen
  • mix a new batch of weed sprayer and spray for weeds in the front and back
  • discover that yard work accompanied by tunes from an ipod isn't all that bad

The last item on the list may be the best accomplishment of all. Maybe now I'll enjoy yard work more?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

65 Years!

Today is my grandparent's 65th wedding anniversary! Can you believe that? A lot of people don't even live to be 65, let alone be married that long. The met at the University of Kansas, where they had an accounting class together. She was one of the few female accounting majors. He called her one night to ask for the homework assignment...despite the fact that he lived with at least half a dozen people that could have given it to him! He knew what he really wanted! Somehow a date resulted from the phone call and the rest is history. Early on in their dating, he asked her to make him a pie. He's a pie lover, you see, and he needed to make sure she was up to the challenge. She passed with flying colors and has been making pies for our family ever since! They married after graduation and a little over a year later, my mom was born. My uncle was born three years after that. They have been an example for how a marriage should be: love each other, take care of each other, stay committed to each other. I love you, Gran and Grandpa!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Better than the Book!

I finally saw Wicked!!! I gave my mom a ticket for Mother's Day, which considering she'd already seen it twice, might have been more a gift for me than for her. Regardless, I finally got to go and I loved it!!!! When I read the book about four years ago, I seriously disliked it. I have a rule that I never stop reading a book I've started (Moby Dick is the only exception), so I kept reading it even though the first 3/4's were really hard to get in to (and it's not short). By the last 1/4, I finally cared about the characters and wanted to find out what happened, so it read a little quicker towards the end. But, when I heard that it was a musical, I was shocked. My first thought was "oh, it's so terrible, who would want to see it?". But people who had seen it, and whose opinions I trust, told me it was fabulous and that I would love it. I had a hard time picturing this...the book is long, and philosophical, and not entertaining. I just couldn't picture how it could be a great musical. I sure was wrong!!

The music is fun, fast-moving, and up beat. The story also moves along quickly. I feel that a lot of musicals have random songs that serve absolutely no purpose. They're just there to be another song. That isn't the case with Wicked at all. Every song advances the plot in some way. Plus, all the philosophy which bogs down the book is touched on and presented in the musical, but without having to suffer through a long-winded author's preachiness. The viewer can think about the issues and come to his own conclusions. Plus, it's cool to see how some of the elements from "The Wizard of Oz" tie in or came to be. Overall, it's one of my top two favorite musicals of all time! If you ever have the chance, go to Wicked!!! And tell me, so I can go with you!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lessons Learned, Part II

The purpose of an electric hedge trimmer is to trim the hedges, not the heavy duty orange extension cord.

It's been an eventful week at my house.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lessons Learned

1. If you ever scorch your carpet, a lot of Oxi Clean carpet stain remover will get the stain out.

2. Don't leave your flat-iron curling iron sitting on the carpet when it's on.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Beauty of Home

There's just something about being home. The spring colors in my backyard. My own pillow. Internet whenever I want it without being charged (other than that little cable bill I pay each month). My own car, which I can drive on the right (literally and figuratively) side of the road. More than 5 shirts to wear. My DVR with my favorite programs waiting for me to watch them. My comfy couch.

Sigh. Traveling is great! New sights, culture, words, food, adventures. But, coming home is great, too!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Australian Favorites

-Per Shelly’s request. My mom and I share our favorites in several categories at the end of each trip we take. Like a said in a previous post, we can (and did!) make this game go on for a while, so I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

Favorite place we went = Vasse Felix winery in Margaret River. If I lived in Western Australia, I would want to have my wedding reception there. The restaurant is sort of like a tree house, nestled in the trees overlooking the gorgeous green of the yard and vineyard. It’s also incredibly quiet and relaxing. The Blue Mountains are my second choice. I’d love to go back there someday to hike and explore some more.

Favorite activity = Biking on Rottnest Island. Peaceful. Hair blowing in the wind. Scenic. Uncrowded. Mom conquered a fear she’s had for 30 years. Good stuff!

Favorite restaurant = Vasse Felix winery, for the overall combination of a beautiful setting, friendly people, and great food.
Favorite food (main course)= The tuna steak I had at Vasse Felix winery.

Favorite food (dessert) = Rosemary ice cream at Vasse Felix winery. Okay, I know that sounds like a very strange type of ice cream, but it was GREAT!! I don’t even know how to describe it, but it was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had.

Favorite meal that wasn’t Vasse Felix = Tea at the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney. Fancy setting. Orange Pekoe tea that was really good. And, I discovered that milk and sugar in tea is a good thing! (I felt so British!!). Flaky pastries. Fabulous preserves for an incredibly moist scone. Tasty finger sandwiches. A time to just sit and relax and enjoy a rare treat.

Favorite shopping = Fremantle Markets. For the variety of items available there, for the cool things we found (and bought!), for the great prices, for the time that we walked from stall to stall and bought food for dinner.

Favorite beach = One of the bays on Rottnest Island. For the seclusion, sunshine, white sand, and blue, blue water.

Favorite animal = Kangaroo!!! So sweet and gentle!

Biggest Surprise = Snow in the Blue Mountains? Rain in Perth? Not having to show an ID at any point on our domestic flight from Perth to Sydney?

Favorite Sign = “Don’t be a tosser”. What’s your first thought at what this means? Well, when I first saw it, I thought it meant, “Don’t puke”. (Eloquent, I know.) Turns out it actually means don’t litter. My second favorite sign, which I unfortunately don’t have a picture of, is “Dangerous Goods Not Allowed in Tunnel”. Are they allowed other places?

Favorite Spoken Australian phrase = “They’re having a good tustle, yes quite a good tustle indeed”. The announcer at the swim meet said this during every close race between a couple of swimmers in a heat. I love it! I think I might start using it at home. My mom’s favorite is “No drama”. It means pretty much the same thing as “No worries”. I also might have to throw that in to some future conversations.

Favorite Australian spelling = Gaol. Despite reading several books using this word and knowing the meaning of it, I always thought it was pronounced “Gay-ol”. Little did I know it’s actually pronounced “jail”. Very strange. I like most of the Australian spellings for things (cheque, organisation, etc) but this just seems very odd to me.

Favorite Coin or Currency = The bills are kind of interesting because they have a little clear see-through spot in them. But, my favorite item of currency is the 2 dollar coin. It’s about the same size and weight as a British pound, so I kept thinking of it as a “two-pounder”. We’d be getting money out for a bus and I’d say “Oh, I have a two-pounder”.

Favorite thing they have that we don’t = There’s a tie in this category for me. The toilets have the ability to do a half flush or a full flush. I think that’s cool and quite practical. My other favorite invention is that each outlet has the ability to be turned on or off. This is cool because it’s a good way to get rid of all that “phantom power” that is used when items are plugged in to an outlet but not turned on. There, rather than having to unplug everything, you could just turn the outlet to off and voila, power saved!

Favorite wine = 2002 Shiraz at the Sandalford winery. We got to taste a special vintage that normal tasters don’t get to try. It was flavorful and super smooth. It’s not possible to ship wine to the US (well, I guess it is but it’s crazy expensive), so we contemplated trying to take a couple bottles home with us but decided not to risk them getting broken. We have the name of a distributer in the US, so we will definitely be looking it up now that we're home. So good!!

Favorite walk = Down 200+ steps (and then back up!) to the Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains. The good exercise resulted in breathtaking views!

Favorite method of transportation = Mine was driving on the left hand side of the road. I pretty much got the hang of it after a couple of days. I even stopped turning on the wind shield wipers instead of the turn signal and figured out the roundabouts. My mom’s favorite method was all the buses we took in Sydney because she was quite proud of us that we figured out how to get where we wanted to go on them.

Favorite toilet = Queen Victoria Building. Hands down! A sliding door to gain access to the restrooms, granite countertops with basin-less sinks, stained glass windows in the actual stalls. High class!! Especially for a shopping mall!

Favorite items that I’m glad I brought: Laptop and fleece. Would have been uninformed and cold without them.

Favorite tour guide = Definitely Krissy from the Bridge Climb! She was cheery, encouraging, knowledgeable and fun! AnnaLea at the Opera House would be my second choice because of her great accent and resemblance to Julianna Margulies.

Worst restaurant = The Globe, next to the Hilton in Perth. Snooty people, bad food, and way too expensive

Most uncomfortable moment(s) = Walking down a very, very, very crowded street in Sydney our first night here. It was dark, we didn’t know where we were going, and I just really hate crowds. I was afraid I’d get mugged (irrational, I’m sure) so was very glad to eat dinner and get back to the hotel safe and sound.