Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Visitors #495 and 496

This past weekend, Charlotte & PA Dutch visited! They vacationed in Maine the week before, and detoured to our house before heading back home to Philly.

Since Vermont would be the only state they wouldn't hit while road tripping in the New England area, we made it a point to venture that direction on Saturday. Actually, I think they missed Rhode Island too, but no offense R.I., there's not much to see there. In Vermont, we first stopped at the Cabot Cheese store where the free samples create a mighty fine snack, or in our case, lunch. MMMM cheese.

Then we hiked down into the Quechee Gorge. J & I drive by this gorge often and you can only see a quick glimpse when driving, so I've always wanted to check it out further. The gorge was formed by glacial activity 13,000 years ago and is known as the "Grand Canyon of Vermont." It is quite pretty, but it's no Grand Canyon. We contemplated bungee jumping off the bridge or frolicking naked in the river just to spice up the experience. Two out of four of us were on board, but we ultimately decided it was a bad idea.

Pictures courtesy of PA Dutch and his sweet new camera

All that hiking definitely worked off our cheese coma, so we headed to the Long Trail Brewery for some good grub and beer. That's always a good experience.

J had his first movie in the park on Saturday night, so Charlotte & I headed over to watch The Wizard of Oz and bring back some childhood memories. That movie is scarier (and stranger) than I remember!

And that's it. They left Sunday morning. Made our B&B duties very easy.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

To-Hell-U-Ride

So it has been a week since my return form Colorado and it has been a busy one. My wife, “the blogger” has been bugging me to write a post so you all can understand the “Festival”!

It was my sister’s (SILAdventure) 30th bday June 19th and I told her I would party with her no matter where it was. We ended up in Telluride, CO, for the 37th annual Bluegrass Festival! This was actually my second Bluegrass Festival, I went in 2002 on my drive out to AZ when I moved there. I don’t know why people say “To-Hell-U-Ride”, because this is the most beautiful place in the lower 48.

My trip started out with an early morning flight on Sunday where I met up with Uncle SlickG in Newark and we made it to CO at about 12noon. We met with SILAdventure and DocDoc and had lunch. We went shopping and packed up the car for the start of the trip. Before leaving Denver Monday morning, Uncle SlickG wanted to hit the Buckhorn Exchange, the first steak house in CO and the first establishment to be granted a liquor license. Yep, they have liquor license #1 hanging above the bar! SlickG saw this on the travel channel and it well worth it.

We hit the road the next morning to head south, but not to Telluride yet. We went to Mancos to camp in an old fire tower. The drive to Telluride/Mancos is about 8 hours and by camping in the fire tower it put us within an hour of Telluride so we could ensure an early entry on Wednesday and get a good camping spot for the festival.

The Fire Tower was sweet!!! It is 70 feet off the ground with winding stairs. There is only one day a year you can make the reservation to use it and we were lucky to score the stay! SILAdventure had some problems with the stairs, but soon got the hang of it.
We spent the days hiking and the evenings staring out the fire tower’s windows at the vast amount of land, the sunsets and the stars. This fire tower was in the middle of nowhere, so it was quite unexpected that in the middle of the night during a bathroom run we came across a dog sitting at the base of the tower, scaring the %$#* out of us. After some calming down and realizing we were not in a Cujo movie, we found that the dog had tags and we made some calls. No answer but an hour or so later, we saw a car coming up the dirt road and as I approached the driver asked have you seen my dog. They lost it hiking earlier in the day. A happy ending!We arrived in Telluride Wednesday morning and got a sweet camping spot right next to the concert grounds so we could hear the music no problem from our site. SILAdventure had about 15 of friends come join us for the Birthday week. People came from Maine, Vermont, California and lots from Colorado.
The week was magical!!! No rain, in fact very little clouds and just sweetest music ever. Four days and nights of Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Allison Krauss , Bela Fleck, Lyle Lovett and much more. I found new favorite band, Mumford and Sons, be sure to check them out. Early in the morning, we would line up for the "running of the tarps" in order to get a spot on the lawn to see the shows (I tried uploading a video unsuccessfully). The music lasted from 10am – 11pm, then we would hit the famed night grass late shows that would be a who’s who of musicians. SILAdventure had a great 30th Bday and she enjoyed it to no ends.
If you have never been to Telluride or the Bluegrass Festival, I urge you to put it on your bucket list. This place is paradise. When I hit the lottery, you are all invited to my chalet, cabin or even mansion.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My name in print

Whenever I tell people I'm a writer, the first question is usually, "where can I read something you wrote?" Well, besides this awesome, awesome blog, there weren't many places you could.

Unless you are a doctor or pharmaceutical sales rep and subscribed to my former company's publications, my regular writing wasn't necessarily available to the general public. I remember my mom was so proud when I got the job and she wanted to a copy of something I had written to show her friends. I obliged and then she called to ask if it was written in German. They were the type of articles where you'd lose interest by the 3rd word. I take that back, you would at least make it to the 4th word. Even still, the content I wrote for the last 8 years rarely had a byline. So there wasn't the glory of seeing my name in print too often.

I've been taking on more and more freelancing projects, so there may be more opportunity to see just that. Case in point. I've been writing articles for New Hampshire ToDo for the past 18 months and I get my beloved byline. Usually, to see it, you either have to buy the monthly issues or subscribe (my parents do! J's senior center does! Many of our friends here do!). Every month, they make one article free on their website. Guess whose July article is featured?!?!

It's a little hard to read unless you zoom in, but you can see my name in print and that never gets old for me. I am a writer indeed.

In other news, Charlotte (York Goldenblatt) and PA Dutch are coming for a visit this weekend! I love visitors!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Week 3 of Unemployment: (Almost) Broken Toe and World Cup Soccer

I thought for a day or two that I broke my pinkie toe.On Monday night, my phone rang from the other room and it was J. I ran to get it barefooted. If you know me well, you know I hate to be barefoot. I love my slippers/slipper socks as much as I love hand cream and post-it notes.

So on my way back to the couch, I stubbed it hard. I iced it and took aspirin, then self-diagnosed myself, deciding it was not broken. Today, it is feeling (and looking) much better!

This week, so far, I am doing much better emotionally with the unemployment thing. Maybe it's all the networking I am doing and pep talking I am getting. That helps. Job searching is going ... well, you know the answer. And for now, I am enjoying watching the US play World Cup Soccer. It's 0-0 for those of you who don't have the luxury of watching.

UPDATED! USA scored in the last minutes of the game, so they will advance!!!!!!!!! YIPPEE!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This wedding makes me feel old

I just returned from a trip to the Midwest where I attended the wedding of LilSis!
LilSis is part of my Phoenix/St. Gregory's crew. She was in 8th grade when I moved to Arizona for that volunteer program. My five roommates and I became very close to her because she lived right around the corner from us. A lot of the youth in the parish came over to hang out. We were cool people, what can I say. Or, they just liked that we had a pool. In any case, LilSis was a staple in our house. We even took her to her first bar (at 14, yes, we were great role models). After my volunteer year, I continued to volunteer as the St. Greg's HS Youth Ministry Leader, which ended in some lifelong friends. I've watched these "kids" grow into men and women. And now, well, it just makes me feel old.

Exhibit A: 2001

Exhibit B: 2010
Exhibit C: Three of these brothers were in my youth group at some point. The 4th (in the grey shirt) was not because he was 5 at the time. He's 15 now!!!
Anyways, the wedding ceremony was at a church near Marquette University's campus, where the bride and groom attended undergrad. The area was just riddled with awesome architecture.

The reception was at the Eisner American Museum of Advertising & Design, which I heard from one of the attendants may be closing completely to the public. But it was really unique for a wedding reception.

So wraps up another fun wedding and chance to see Mouth, NHBound (I'm dropping the Bound from now on since they are actually DC-bound), Roid and Peace. Because I never do anything simply, my trip was not only to Milwaukee. I flew in and out of Chicago for a quick visit with SILMeow, Napolean Dynamite and MamaF. I also borrowed MamaF's car for the wedding festivities. It's an Audi, and so there were jokes all weekend. No one could understand how I lost my job, but upgraded my car. I also got to see other friends from Phoenix (not from the St. Greg's/volunteer group of friends) who now live in WI. I haven't seen MtnGrl since my own wedding, so I also got to meet her adorable girls!

You might be wondering where J is for all this fun. He had his own fun in Colorado! (Remember we like to take our separate vacations). For the past 10 days, he's been out there at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival to celebrate SILAdventure's 30th birthday! Maybe he'll decide he loves you guys enough for a blog post ...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday Mr. McKinley!


I turned 6 today. I feel old. Just look at all the white hair I have.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Week 2 of Unemployment: Scared

I went to an unemployment workshop required by the state today. Apparently one of many I will have to go to. While sitting in the room waiting for the presenter to come in, I counted. There were 15 of us. I don't know why, but that number scared me. That's 15 people who became unemployed in the Concord area during the past month or so. And this class is offered weekly.

It was a good class, don't get me wrong. The rep went over all the procedures for filing each week and all the job searching tools out there. The whole unemployment process is so overwhelming, so any help is appreciated.

But I'm scared. I've been so blessed with employment so far. Aside from the TERRIBLE NO GOOD JOB at that school in Phoenix, I've always worked at a place I loved. And loved the work I did. Now the road is wide open for me to explore many options, although, it's not. Jobs are limited out there folks, in case you haven't noticed. And, I wonder if I pigeon-holed myself by doing medical writing the last 8 years. I used to write for a newspaper years ago, but can I do that anymore? Would they even consider me? The freelancing I've done helps me break into the other avenues of writing/editing, but I have to say, I'm not feeling very confident about my qualifications in this moment.

So sorry to be Debbie Downer! Everyone says I am a glass "half full" type of person, and I am trying not to lose that, but geez louise, it's my blog and I can cry if I want to!

In any case, hopefully the Thursday blues will go away. I am flying out to the Midwest today primarily for a very important wedding, but also to see many, many friends. And friends are ALWAYS uplifting!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Good news!

My dad came out of surgery and is a-okay! I didn't get to talk to him yet and I only talked to my mom briefly, but all went well so thanks for any good thoughts you sent our way.

To lighten the mood, here is a picture of a "sit off" between Mr. McKinley and Baby M from last week. Baby M won. All he had to do was squeal (which sounds akin to a pig being gutted alive) and Mr. McKinley went running into the distance.Isn't Baby M delicious? I still can't believe Roid helped produce him.

In other good news, I received a surprise from theAccountant today. She and Holden Caulfield got married this weekend! They eloped and didn't tell anyone! Hallmark4ever and I dreamed of being bridesmaids in their wedding for the last 13 years (they were together THAT long), but I am so happy they did it their way. They have been through some BIG stuff together and this is a great way to put it all behind them! Congrats!!!

In other news, the post office guy needs glasses, like ASAP. I went in there today and for the second time, he asked me to read something small. I can always read it no problem and he is amazed. In any case, I was thinking about that as a job possibility. Contract out my surgery-enhanced eyes?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I am for hire, call me

Unemployment is tough, but the jobs are coming in.

video

That really is me. Unfortunately, I didn't get paid for that gig. Once again, volunteer of the year for one of J's programs. It rained all day, so we had to move the family entertainer and his cast of characters inside, but the kids still loved it either way.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Pink Slip

Did I mention I got laid off last week?

So far the best thing about being laid off is not having to leave the house and make the commute to work.

Oh wait. I never did that anyways!

I am really okay with being laid off. Dare I say enjoying it? But of course, the financial aspect has yet to set in. When it does, I may be in tears on the street corner with a cup begging for spare change.

Don't get me wrong, I want to work. But when you get a pink slip, you have to try to make the best of it. So I am doing that. It also helped my mental state that as soon as I sent the "change of e-mail address" e-mail to family and friends, kind words came flooding my way. Not to mention we had visitors all weekend so I didn't have to succumb to depression the first few days. I have wonderful friends all around.

The strangest thing for me is that I've worked since I was 16. Like straight through. I mean, I had vacations, but never any break from job to job. Hallmark from 1994 through 2000 (full time during the summers of my college years). I also worked at the library and newspaper at my college. During my one year of volunteer service in Phoenix following college graduation, I worked a full-time 40-week job at a nonprofit, but never got paid (hence it being volunteer). My volunteer placement hired me immediately following that commitment, then I worked at a technical school as a graduate placement advisor, then back to the nonprofit (because I COULD NOT STAND MY JOB AT THE SCHOOL ... yes, I was screaming there. That was the worst job ever. Imagine Office Space. Only worse). Anyways, on September 17, 2002, I began working as a medical/business writer. And for nearly eight years, I held that job.

Me covering my first conference

I knew my company was doing poorly. It's been that way for 2 years. So whenever someone asked how my job was, my response was, "eh, it's still there. I'm sure the company will close at some point." I was secretly hoping that "point" would be right before we left for the AT ... Nevertheless, every time we had a company meeting, I would inevitably take a deep breath and wonder if this was it. So when BossLady e-mailed me on Thursday at 3ish and asked if she could call me at 4, my heart sunk a little. I knew I was doomed when I picked up the phone and it was BossLady, along with the owner of the company. Two out of the six writers & editors on our team were laid off and one was moved to part time.

During my first week of unemployment, I found myself busier than ever. Of course I'm trying to do every bit of freelance work I can (especially since freelance work sometimes takes several months to payout). But I'm also getting through my lifelong to do list. We all have one. We just never get to it. While my energy is high and I feel motivated, I'm pumping out the progress.

And we shall see what my future brings. I filed for unemployment. I am following several leads for both FT and freelance work. I feel good. For now.

Besides being unemployed and because God really likes to see how much stress one person can handle, both my Nana and my father are in the hospital. My dad is actually going for surgery Monday as he will be getting some sort of pacemaker (that's not really the device, but it's easier than explaining) put in. So send good thoughts if you can! Thanks Internet!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Still recovering from the wedding weekend!

"Some people are thermometers, some are thermostats. You're a thermostat. You don't register the temp in the room, you change it."

Mouth, my sort-of brother, got married this weekend. This is the quote (by Andre Agassi) his brother said in his best man speech. Mouth is definitely a thermostat.

I lived with Mouth (and 5 others who also became "brothers" and "sisters") in Phoenix while we dedicated ourselves to volunteer service for a year after college. Seeing your brother get married has very special meaning. Especially when he marries an equally good friend (NHBound). They have been dating since 1986 ... or 2002 ... so it's been a long time coming.

The wedding was not a one-day event. With a number of folks coming in from Phoenix for the wedding, the celebrations lasted all weekend. Our first visitors arrived to stay with us on Thursday (Sunshine and Stout). Then Friday, Roid (my other brother), Peace and their Baby M came. J & I hosted a big BBQ for about 20 Phoenix folks on Friday night. J worked hard on food detail and I ... socialized.
The wedding was Saturday, but it started with an intense softball game. Thankfully, no one got hurt, although Mouth played with a broken toe and pinkie. And the wedding itself was wonderful. I still can't believe they are married! The reception was great ... J & I were finally able to put some of those dance moves we've been learning into action. In fact, we found for the slow dances that it was nearly impossible to sway dance. We always felt compelled to foxtrot or waltz.


As I mentioned, I lived with Mouth and Roid during our volunteer year. NHBound completed the same volunteer program, only 1 year later with 3 other gals. They were all present. From our house, though, there were only 3 out of the 6. I guess that's what happens when you are the last one married in the house!

The activity continued on Sunday with a brunch, some airport runs and a gathering at NHBound's parents' house. Look at this picture. NHBound and Mouth look the least tired, even though they're the ones who were busier! Meanwhile, J, Roid, Peace & I look like death is at our doorstep. The weekend was just purely exhausting with all the activities.