Friday, April 27, 2007


London Souvenir
Originally uploaded by Vesuviano.
My next big trip (with my travel buddy Nicole, of course!) is going to be to England in June of 2008. I have already started researching, because, well, that's what I love to do. It's half the fun, really--anticipation and planning. I found this fabulous photo on Flickr and really wish I could make it my desktop wallpaper, but the photographer removed the download rights, so I'll just blog it instead!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

After my training this morning (which went well), I decided to go to the zoo. Last night I had gathered over a dozen brochures, but nothing else really moved me. For a while I was considering a drive-thru safari thingie, but then I read about how your car will be covered in animal slobber and full of food pellets. While the idea of having a buffalo stick his head in my car for a bite to eat is thrilling on the one hand, on the other I just couldn't shake the feeling that it seemed somehow wrong to do this to animals. Not just making them stick their heads in cars for food, but also exposing them to random vehicles and drivers. Seems a little too disrespectful for my tastes. So I opted for the traditional zoo, and it was a fun day. The weather was great: a tad windy at times, but a great temp, and a mix of clouds and sun. Apparently the zoo here is free to local residents every Monday, so there were quite a lot of moms and kids, which kinda made it neat.

I took a bazillion photos, of course, and I'll post my favorites here. The rest can be seen at Flickr.

I think that next to felines, elephants are my favorite!

This is one of my best shots, I think. Gotta give some credit to the
froggy, though, for posing so perfectly.

This guy's also a pro at posing. He's actually over near the wolf
exhibit . This habitat affords a much better photo op than the bald
eagles in the other section of the zoo.

Come ON! Can't you just hear the purring?

This guy was over in the corner, pressed up against the
glass. After I took this, he walked over to me and looked
me right in the eyes. So precious!

P.S. I LOVE the zoom on my camera. Makes it worth lugging around the big thing!

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I'm writing from my hotel room in Cleveland, and this trip has gotten off to a wonderful start. My flight was on time and pleasant, although the plane was teeny tiny!

I sat next to a nice gentleman with my father's name (George) and we chatted now and again about the weather, Raleigh, etc. My luggage came off the plane about a minute after I walked up to the baggage carousel, and the car rental shuttle was waiting at the curb when I stepped outside. There was no line at the Enterprise counter, and I got one of those nice clerks who, even though for some reason my reservation did not include the price I'd locked in, gave me the cheap rate anyway, and even upgraded me to boot! Check out my sleek ride:

The hotel was less than 10 minutes away, and my Garmin got me there without a hitch. This place (Ramada Cleveland Airport South) actually has drive-thru check in--have you ever heard of such a thing?! Could not be more convenient. And to top it all off, not only did I get a coupon for the Olive Garden across the street (hello, convenient!) but I also got a "goodie bag" with free candy bars, gum, and a pretty big trial size of toothpaste. My room is typical, one of the nicer rooms I've stayed in while on business. My standards are pretty basic: clean, decent smelling, and in good repair. Check, check, and check!

The weather is so delightful, I've had the door open all afternoon while I catch up on my blogs using the very-easy-to-access wireless internet. I don't want to jinx myself, but man, if only every trip was this awesomely smooth! In half an hour I'll catch some Desperate Housewives, and then it's off to lullabye land so I'll be rearin' to go for my training tomorrow morning. I have never spoken to the contact person at this district because he was being very difficult in the planning stages (e.g., complaining to his sales rep that the training dept. never contacted him when we actually left him tons of voicemails and emails), so I hope he's nicer in person and the sessions go okay. I should be done by noon, so I'll have some time for an excursion or two. Gotta make my way to the lobby to check out the brochure rack for anything interesting. The main attraction here, of course, is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The zoo might be more up my alley.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Most ridiculous charity ever

I'm watching Wednesday's episode of the Ellen show, and the guest is Sharon Stone. Ever since I was a volunteer at the Wildlife Waystation, of which she was an active supporter, I have admired her charitable works. However, today she lost a lot of that respect. The charity she was promoting was--wait for it--paying for girls to go to their proms. Dresses, makeup, admission, etc. If she wants to spend her own money on that, be my guest, but she was actually soliciting donations. "For only $175 you can send a girl to the prom!" How utterly ridiculous! There are so many more important things that money could benefit instead of paying for one night of lame decorations, sweaty dancing, and bad food, not to mention all the misbehaving that notoriously accompanies prom night. Come on!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My house on the red carpet

Just like a celebrity gets all gussied up for her walk down the red carpet at the Oscars, my house got all primped for her unveiling at my housewarning party last night. I was very, very satisfied with how everything looked on the first floor, and also quite satisfied with my bedroom. The two secondary bedrooms, however, were still in a state of disorder.

I know Gabrielle has been waiting for these photos (sorry it took so long!), so without further ado, here they are!

Kuh-rayzee weather

One look at my inbox and you can tell it was a busy weather day:

Winter's like, "I'm cold," and Summer's like, "I'm hot," and Fall is like, "I'm perfect." Spring is the rebel of the family, the one who refuses to be labeled. Spring's like, "Hey, check out my flowers, aren't I pretty?" but she'll turn on you in a heartbeat, and show off her bag o' tricks.

One day, it's sunny and 80 and everyone breaks out the flip flops. The next, there's a frost warning threatening the strawberry crops. And then today, Spring had a tantrum. Warm and muggy air, hail, rain, and glorious sun all within 30 minutes. Here's a look at my gutter this afternoon:

My back patio was also temporarily flooded during a downpour, sending dirt from the shrub area all over the cement and brick. My poor, newly planted weeping willow was really quite thrashed; thank goodness for the supports that held her up.

And the hail did its best to beat down the freshly planted petunias, but I think they survived pretty well.

I must mention that all the landscaping improvements were courtesy of my dad, who came over on Thursday to mow my lawn. It was, shall we say, a tad on the overgrown side. I'd never mowed a lawn before, and he was going to show me, but then before we knew it, it was time for the housewarming party, and the lawn was still unmown. So he offered to do it for me, because he's such a great dad.

He also planted the tree and petunias, as well as installing an adorable little solar light. He's the best!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cliche Central: Easter and Tulips

I wish I had more to blog about. Nothing has seemed blog-worthy lately. Work is slooooow, and I haven't traveled anywhere. On the homefront, I'm still unpacking and getting things just so, in preparation for my housewarming party this coming Saturday.

Spring has been springing with a vengeance around here lately. I'm not particularly prone to allergies, but even my nose was itchy and sneezy and runny due to the insane amounts of pollen floating around. It makes for some mighty fine blooms, though:

Easter was fun. Matthew and his family came down for the weekend. I went over to my parents' house Saturday night and we filled and hid those little plastic eggs. Then Sunday morning the kids collected them. I'd say they hunted for them, but they were placed in such obvious locations, they were hard to miss. It was cute to see their reactions when they found one.

Cassidy is getting so big! She calls me Aunt Lissa now and is quite the show-off. Everything she does is motivated by your reaction. She loves being the center of attention--which, of course, she is when she is at grandma and grandpa's house! She is also NOT camera shy. When she sees one, she makes this funny, scrunchy face that garners lots of chuckles from the adults. I just hope she learns to smile normally for the camera, for the sake of her annual yearbook photos!

Layne's Easter basket had a cheerleader theme, so she and Cassidy were playing with the props on the screened porch:

I hope you all had a great Easter!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'm baaaack!

Thanks to everyone who has diligently been checking my blog to see if I've finally posted. Now you're in for it, though. Ten days, a lot to cover. =)

First, let me start off by saying that I LOVE my new house! It is absolutely wonderful. It's little things, like having my very own mailbox, that is right at the end of my very own driveway, where I can wash my car whenever I please, and which leads into my garage that shelters me from the rain so I can get into my car nice and dry. And having my own trash bin right in my garage, that I just roll out once a week, and don't have to drive my trash to a big nasty communal bin. Convenience rocks. And, it's things like looking at neighbors' yards to get ideas for my own, imagining what a flower bed would look like right there, or maybe over there. The possibilities are endless!

Moving day was Saturday, March 24. If you'll recall, I'd arranged for a mover through Craigslist, and then heard from my realtor that they were awful and had broken her expensive armoir. The "owner guy," who I arranged everything with, promised he would be there for my move to oversee everything. When the movers arrived (only 15 minutes late) the owner guy was not with them. And, they brought a dinky little truck, when I was told they'd have a 26-foot truck. I called the owner guy, and he said the big truck was in the shop. I said the guys would have to make two trips with the smaller truck, and he said that was fine, and I'd still be charged the same rate. So we began to load. To their credit, the guys were terrific. They made the most out of that little truck, packing everything in solid, like a 3-D puzzle. The forecast had called for mid-80's but it was still relatively cool at this point. After I'd say two hours, we were on our way to the new house.

On the way, I called Papa John's for pizza to be delivered. (P.S., How awesome is it that delivery is a cinch now that the drivers don't have to hunt for my apartment in a giant complex?) Right as we pulled up to the house, the pizza guy arrived. Perfect timing! We were all starving!

My parents had not seen the house in person yet, so I was very excited to give them a tour. I was pleased as punch that they liked it so well. My dad made a run to the convenience store for some bottled water, while the movers began unloading the truck. Most of this load was just boxes, and the bedroom furniture. After about 90 minutes, we headed back for the second load. It was pretty hot at this point. I let the movers do all the heavy lifting, but I was still involved, packing the last-minute straggling items, and carrying things like my computer and of course Comet in his travel crate. By the way, he was great during all this. I put him in the crate while the movers were in and out, and he meowed for a few minutes, but then just resigned himself to being locked up. He probably felt safer in there anyway (or at least that's what I tell myself).

Around 4:30, the guys were finished unloading everything, and it had all gone off without a hitch. They were champs taking the heavy big stuff upstairs, and only made one tiny scratch on the wall, probably when they were heaving the entertainment center up there. But all the furniture itself was unscathed. Yippee!

My parents and I went to dinner down the street at a restaurant that had just opened, Mimi's Cafe. They have them all over California, but this was the first one in the Triangle. Right across from it is a brand-new Circuit City, so we went there afterwards to look at the TV's. I'd been wanting a big-screen LCD for a while, and had been doing lots of research online looking for the best deals, compromising between price and quality. I had my eye on a Sharp 42", but when we got to the store, the Samsung 46" stole my heart. I had a 10% off coupon through AAA, and decided to splurge. It's hard to resist 18 months with no interest charges! We brought it home and set it up, and it seemed enormous! But it is so awesome! Monday, the cable guy came and hooked me up with HD, and it is truly mind-boggling. I cannot stop watching it. (Which helps explain why I haven't posted in a while!) And, it has a DVR, which to me is like crack. Mine is already almost full! I saw an episode of the Discovery channel's "Planet Earth," and it is absolutely everything everyone says it is. Words are insufficient. Breathtaking, amazing, spectacular, they don't do it justice. Many of the other shows in HD are equally stunning visually. I DVR'd one on the national parks, and it's just beautiful. It's hard to erase some of these things even after I've seen them!

Sunday was all about unpacking and getting things arranged, and even though I was exhausted from the previous day, I did a pretty good job. I had Monday off, so I did a little more that day, but once the cable was installed, unpacking took a far second in my priorities!

Yesterday my parents came over again and we did a Craigslist run. In a matter of 4 hours and driving about 100 miles around the Triangle, from Durham to Cary to North Raleigh, we picked up a wrought iron table and chairs set for the front porch, a kitchen table and chairs, a Nordic Track ski machine, a chair-and-a-half with ottoman, and a black bookshelf. They were all extreme bargains, yet quite nice, so I was very pleased. Afterwards we went to dinner at Ruby Tuesday, and then to Target to get things like garden hoses and towel racks. Fun stuff!!

So now you're pretty much caught up to now, and again, thank you all for being so patient while I got settled in here. Stay tuned for our next episode: Melissa Mows Her First Lawn!