Monday, December 31, 2018

Not Bored, That's For Sure

Here it is, New Year's Eve. I've spent the last week doing I don't know what, but it's been BUSY. We ran out of Christmas dinner leftovers after 2 days and I had to start cooking again (the horror!); there were doctor's appointments for a recurrence of vertigo (and the first person to recommend the Eppley Maneuver will get blocked, if I can figure out how to do that); there was baking and more baking for our New Year's neighborhood open house tomorrow...

I swear, I am so done with lemon bars. DONE.

Happily, David doesn't mind helping. In fact, he baked 8 dozen snickerdoodles today. He helped with dinner the other night, too:

Engineers cook tater tots very precisely

There were out-of-town guests, and there was helping Anna get ready to go to Tunisia, and there were movies to see, and yes, vacation time is surprisingly exhausting. Normally I would be looking forward to a nice, slow boring January, because remember? It's my absolutely favorite month. But on January 7th I start my first full-time employment in 27 years, so the days preceding that will be filled with looking for office-type clothes and making sure Susie isn't simply abandoned for the 2 or 3 months until I can telework and generally getting ready for a pretty major lifestyle change.

So, yeah, not exactly relaxing, right? But still, exciting - I'll give it that. I'm thinking I should prepare by watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - you know, to get pointers on how to function in a totally new, real-world environment. Do you think I'll get my own desk? I'd like that.

Me, going to work the first day

Do people have desks anymore? A lot's changed in 30 years, I'm guessing.

[Kimmy Schmidt image credit: Vanity Fair]

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

I didn't go to sleep until 2 AM this morning, because we ate Christmas Eve dinner late (Rachel and Brian worked until 6:30 at Best Buy) and then Susie wanted to watch Scrooged and nearly everyone wanted to watch with us, which is beyond rare in a family of grown and almost-grown kids, so we had to do that, and then I came upstairs at 11 and realized I had never prepped the baked apple French toast for Christmas breakfast. So I did that, and then I neatened up the kitchen so we could hit the ground running (as it were) in the morning, and I had to start a load of laundry so our Christmas place mats would be clean for the big day and....well, if you've never seen a woman practically weeping with exhaustion past midnight on Christmas Eve, you're probably just not paying attention.

Yes, we're using paper plates - sue me
Since it was 1 AM already, I decided to clean the crap off the dining room table and set it for Christmas dinner. I know, it sounds crazy, but the boost this gave me when I came downstairs this morning was worth the lost sleep. Every time I feel overwhelmed, I gaze at my set table and pretend that I am an organized, competent person.

This morning we opened presents. Now, I like to think we don't go overboard in this family when it comes to Christmas gifting: we just do candy in the stockings (plus Moose Munch under the tree), and Larry and I give each kid (or "kid") 3 items. But when you have 8 people in a family, and everyone is giving everyone else a present, the math, okay?

That's 8 x 7 plus 2 x 6, approximately

If you hear that Amazon earnings went up this month, you can thank me.

[Apologies to my neighbor who owns the independent bookstore. Mostly not books, though...]

So, yeah, up until 2 AM, up again at 7, opened presents, cooked the French toast, threw the place mats in the dryer, bitched at the offspring to put the wrapping paper and recycling out back, ran the dishwasher (ALREADY), and made the kids take charge of the mashed potatoes. I'm taking a nap now, and NO ONE can stop me.

That's the theory, anyway...

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Lit Christmas

This month is speeding by (hello, all those Christmas presents I haven't bought yet!), so I thought I'd just slap some pictures up here, with brief descriptions of what I've been doing, and then I looked at the photos on my phone and, uh, I haven't even taken any in the past week. Things are THAT hectic.

First off, there are 4 of my offspring living here, which means I'm expected to cook again. I've been churning out the chicken salad, the mashed potatoes, the beef stew, and I don't know what all. I ran the dishwasher THREE TIMES on Sunday (Theo came to dinner). How did I do this all those years when the kids were younger? Beats me.

Brian is home now, so I had to spend some time cleaning up my yarn studio so he would have a place to sleep. David arrives tomorrow, which means Susie and I need to turn the couch downstairs into a bed, since Anna has claimed the guest room until the 31st. Thank goodness Theo has his own place now and doesn't need a bed.

A bit of holiday baking has been happening - lemon bars, pizzelles - but you wouldn't know it, because we ate all of them. I mean, except for a few pizzelles that aren't long for this world:

These will be gone by noon tomorrow

I don't get how people bake batches of Christmas cookies and the cookies are all still around for Christmas. Could someone enlighten me on that one? I grew up Jewish, and we didn't save cookies. Actually, we didn't bake, come to think of it. Why bake, when an Entenmann's outlet is only a couple of miles away?

I've been to 2 parties already. The first one was full of couples just like me and Larry, who only get to go out in December, so we all had a lot of catching up to do. The second was the annual ornament exchange at my friend's house. I ended up with a very nice set of chopsticks, which - if you think about it - is the perfect thing for a Jewish person to get at a Christmas ornament exchange. If you don't understand why, ask someone of the Hebrew persuasion.

Perfect for Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve

I've also spent every spare minute informing every single person I know that I have a job, starting in January. I need to keep repeating it, because I don't really believe it myself.

I have a job.

Larry was happy for me, until he realized that I am using "I have a job" as an excuse to spend money this month like a drunken sailor. Maybe his epiphany came when Susie and I brought home a light-up deer for our front yard. Or maybe it was this purchase of mine from Aldi's:

When you're rich, they let you buy yard ornaments

"Hey," Larry said the other day, studiously ignoring the Knitcrate box that had just arrived on our doorstep, "we need to figure out how much of your paycheck is going into a 401K. And don't forget, we'll need to buy a car in a few years."

You know, I'm beginning to suspect Larry doesn't want me to spend my entire paycheck on yarn and eating out. I mean, he's all retirement this and transportation that. It's as if he doesn't even CARE about my Nando's fetish, people. What can you do with a man like that?

Friday, December 07, 2018

Christmas Came Early

I think I'm liking having this tree up early (early for us, that is):

Christmas 2018, featuring my $5 flock

Let's not bury the lead here, however: I have just been offered an honest-to-goodness full-time job, the kind that a grown-up who has not spent the past quarter century being home with the kids might get. I mean, it has a SALARY.

I really thought that, at this point, my only chance of employment was somewhere that would offer me a store discount, okay?

Best of all, after 2 or 3 months, I will be allowed to telework. Meaning, Susie won't be completely neglected. I said this to Theo, and he said, "I'm sorry, but 'neglected' is not how I would ever describe Susie." Apparently, there are some sibling issues to work out here. Then again, we DO call her "the grandchild."

And that's all for tonight, folks - my brain is too full of "I have a job!" to be able to produce anything even remotely interesting to read here. Also, I need to start online shopping for work clothes. I'm thinking my JAG jeans won't be appropriate for office wear - even if I don't make the mistake of putting them on backward...

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

This, That, And The Other Thing

Okay, I'm beginning to think that it is my big frying pan that is making all my dinners look Pinterest-y lately:

Croatian chicken, or some such thing
Who knew that was all it took?

We did a surprising thing today. I mean, it may not seem surprising to most people, it being December and all, that we bought a Christmas tree. But, you see, we rarely buy a tree before the 19th or 20th of December, for a bunch of reasons. One, I have my whole I'm-not-worrying-about-Christmas-until-a-week-before routine. And usually there's Chanukah to take care of first, you know.

But somehow, this year, we got all wild and crazy and Larry and Theo and Susie went out and picked up a tree at Home Depot today.

No lights, yet - the branches need to relax first.

It's a nice one, I think. Of course, this means I have an entire 2 extra weeks to worry about its burning the house down, so I'm not sure we'll repeat this next year.

Christmas knitting is proceeding apace. I'm working on a delicious cowl right now, in a delicious shade of orange. Then there are fingerless mitts that I had half done before I realized they were too big for Rachel - those will have to be restarted one of these days. Another couple of pairs of mitts are done, minus the thumbs. A couple of hats have been promised, but they are merely figments of my imagination at this point.

Actually, the knitting isn't exactly proceeding apace, now that I think about it.

Anna came back from her overseas sojourn (over a year working in Israel) this past Sunday. Of course, she's leaving at the end of the month for ANOTHER overseas sojourn (Tunisia, this time - that girl gets around), so we're just trying to enjoy her while we can. I'm pretty sure she's already sick of us, but she's putting up a good front. She even baked us banana bread the other morning, which for some reason got me all choked up. I mean, not literally - it was very good banana bread. But it made me think of all the times I had baked for her and her siblings, and wow, here she was baking for me, and okay, I'm just a little maudlin in my encroaching old age, all right?

Susie's been busy making ornaments:

Crayons and a hair dryer - that's the secret.

We were both surprised this project worked, because she got the idea from Pinterest and, well, our house is where Pinterest goes to die, quite frankly. But, hey, these look pretty good, IMO.

Last week Larry and I took Susie to see the annual free dress rehearsal of A Christmas Carol. Susie and I have gone the past 3 years, but this was the first time Larry could make it, too. It still feels weird to be going somewhere with 2 parents plus only one child, after all these years of dragging a bunch of kids with us, but we're getting used to the fact that Susie has, for all intents and purposes, become an only child.

We stopped at the potato chip factory on the way down, and bought way too many potato chips (as is our wont), but we dropped some of them off with Brian (whose college is near the factory), so that's okay. He needs to keep up his strength for finals, right? Of course.

Unlike moi - I really shouldn't be eating these things. Having 4 pounds of potato chips sitting in my kitchen may not be the wisest way to kick off Christmas-cookie season, come to think of it...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

No Clever Title Available

Hi! I was cooking dinner last night (gee, that's new) and I realized that, just for a moment there, I looked like a cooking blogger:

Surprisingly healthy, too

Amazing, right? It turned into a frittata, if you're wondering, but I forgot to take pictures of the finished project. Which is, uh, just one of the many reasons why I am NOT a cooking blogger.

It finally turned really cold here, which is how I just noticed that, hey, my car doesn't seem to be getting warm while I'm driving it. I spent a while telling myself that it was just because I'm not used to the cold yet; then I spent another while telling myself that it was just because it's so cold out, the car can't get very warm; because, hey, the heater couldn't possibly be broken.

And then I remembered how I spent the entire hot, humid summer riding around in a car with hardly any air conditioning, because I kept thinking that maybe the AC in my car was fine and I was just being too fussy and hey, it was really hot out, and then I finally got the darn thing fixed in October (mechanic said the coolant was almost GONE).

It wouldn't have cost me any more to have fixed that in June and not suffered all summer, you know.

So I came home tonight after picking up Rachel and said to Larry, "I don't think the car is heating up the way it should. Could the heater be broken?" And the man who trusts me to educate our children said, "You should check the controls."

For a second, I just stood there, thinking he could not have possibly told me to see if the little dial was turned to the red part and if the blower was on the correct setting. Of course not.

So I said, "What?"

And he said, "You know, check the dials."

And I said, "WHAT?!?"

Whereupon the poor man sensed he had entered dangerous territory. "Well, I only meant you might have it on the defogger or something," he huffed.

Really. Larry thought I sat in the Best Buy parking lot for 15 minutes, waiting for Rachel and freezing my butt off, in a car I have driven for over 9 years, and didn't think to see if the blower dial was set correctly.

Anyway, sensing the animosity radiating from my general direction, he Googled "Toyota Sienna not getting warm" and read that maybe the thermostat is broken and - hooray! - that's not expensive.

And then he went to bed, because I was still glaring at him.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Turns Out, Black Friday Is Fun

I'm terrible at remembering to take proper pictures. Do I have any pictures of friends and family seated around our Thanksgiving table? No, I do not. Not one. I do, however, have photos of silverware. That's right, SILVERWARE.

I don't even remember why I took this photo. 

Do I have a picture of my 3 youngest laughing and joking with their three next-door friends? No, I do not. I do, however, have a strikingly posed image of the leftovers I sent home with Theo.

That's definitely something the kids will want to look back on, years from now, right? Of course right. 

So you'll just have to take my word for it that we had people over for Thanksgiving, everyone ate and talked, and then (after our guests left and Rachel and Brian went to work at Best Buy) I went upstairs and fell asleep for an hour. When I came back downstairs, I apologized to Larry and Theo and Uncle Matt for my absence. Turns out, though, that they had all fallen asleep, too.

We are an exciting family, is what I'm saying here.

Susie and I finished off the evening with a rip-roaring game of Yahtzee, because that's how we roll. Get it? How we ROLL? Oh, I'm a laugh riot tonight. 

Rachel and Brian had to work again on Black Friday. I visited my yarn store (30% off, between 8 AM and 10 AM!) and did a little damage to my wallet there. Then I came back to find Susie waving a Michael's coupon at me, determined to go pick up a little snowman she'd had her eye on. So off we went.

So adorable! And only $5...
I used to be a total Black Friday refusenik, you know. I may have even smugly boasted in this very blog about not participating in this barbaric shopping ritual every November. Indeed, I looked down my nose at those consumption-driven souls who sacrificed family time to chase after some holiday bargains. 

Well, it turns out that the price for my soul is some discounted yarn and a cheesy holiday decoration made in China. 

I can't think of a good segue here, but I need to talk about trees. Stay with me.

Let's start with the sorry fact that the holiday magic of driving to our local Home Depot each December and tramping through the not-snowy parking lot to pick out our pre-cut tree has never really taken with Susie. In fact, she's been trying to convince us to stop buying live Christmas trees for a few years now. Since I usually spend the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas and the 2 weeks after convinced that our tree is about to spontaneously combust and kill us all, I am sort of on board with that plan. 

But not Larry. He clings to the romantic idea of the fresh pine smell in our living room, to the dubious enchantment of an honest-to-goodness tree draped with lights and ornaments, gradually dropping all its (flammable) needles on our living room floor. Also, he apparently thrives on the stress of running to all the stores (ALL OF THEM) 5 days before Christmas, looking for lights to replace the ones that used to work but don't anymore.

So! Susie convinced me that what we needed to do was gradually introduce Larry to the wonder of reuseable, less-ignitable trees. You know, wean him gently from his addiction to the combustible kind...


Yup, while we were at Michael's, we bought a cute little pre-lit tree, which Susie happily set up in our downstairs family room. Hey, it was only $20, okay? Doorbuster prices!

And, whaddaya know, it's been 2 whole days and all of its needles are still on. I call that a win.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I don't know when cooking got so tiring, but I passed out on the couch last night after baking 8 loaves of cranberry bread and making a double batch of cranberry sauce, plus all the usual stuff I do EVERY SINGLE DAY around here. Then I bounced back up this morning to make a vat of stuffing and roast 6 pounds of vegetables, which look to have shrunk down to approximately 5 mouthfuls, and no, I don't know what I'm going to do about that, thanks for asking.

LOTS of cranberries

I was getting a little annoyed, what with ordering the kids to help me and getting a ton of attitude from some of them, even though this food is being prepared for them. You'd think they'd know better by now. I mean, really, Rachel is a smart chick, yet she still thinks she can out-bitch me? Girl, please.

So, like I said, I was sitting here feeling a little pissed off and thought, hey, hasn't this happened before? Yes, indeed, it has. What's happening here is, in fact, an honest-to-goodness holiday tradition, albeit not the heartwarming type. The solution, happily, is the same as last year's - I'm going to be a Thanksgiving prep Nazi tomorrow (also a tradition). All hands on deck!

I'd like to mention here that Theo (who lives in his own place now) spent the day preparing 2 pumpkin pies to bring tomorrow. Maybe they all just need to move out?

Anyhoo, in the middle of all the holiday prep, Larry came home early and we all went out to see Fantastic Beasts 2 (don't know the real name of the movie and I'm not looking it up). Because, when you're super busy, it's always a great idea to plan a major family outing.

I did that, you know. I planned it. I can't even pin the blame on anyone else.

In other news, Brian is home from school! And this is what happens when I ask him to help cut up the bread for stuffing.

Edible jenga, anyone?

What can I say? He's an artist.

I need to get to bed, so I can rise bright and early and order the kids around. Tradition!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Yarn Is Complicated

Deb, a long-time reader (I'm talking 10 YEARS here), messaged me on Facebook, asking if I had any yarn organizing tips to share with her. Once I stopped laughing (I mean, really, she asked ME for organizing ideas), I decided that yes, I do have some ideas. They're just not well executed, is all. Apparently, the road to knitting chaos is paved with good intentions.

For example, there was my project bag organization idea, which got sort of, um, out of hand. And then there was the yarn dresser approach, which worked for a few months, anyway. And, of course, there was the day I bowed to the inevitable and purchased under-the-bed storage bins for my worsted and bulky weight yarns.

But, as devoted readers (there must be one or two of you) will recall, I now have an entire ROOM in which to organize my yarn, because Brian was kind enough to go off to college a few months ago. And I won't lie - I envisioned a beautiful set-up in this room, a sort of working studio, as it were, with the added benefit of a bed to sleep in if Larry were snoring too much.

I know I've asked this before, but where DOES a dream go when it dies?

Not very comfortable to sleep on

So, yeah, step one of yarn organization is to leave a lot of junk on the spare bed, because you're going to get to it some time. Are you taking notes, Deb?

I do still have the yarn dresser. I moved it into the closet of my, ahem, studio. Unfortunately, it's full. Full of yarn? Well, sort of...

The, uh, miscellaneous drawer

Spinning supplies, because I'm delusional like that

Drawer for sport weight yarn, but other stuff sneaked in

No idea what all this crap is

I also still have the two under-the-bed storage bins, now under the bed in my wannabe studio. It is nice to have them out of my bedroom, so I can Swiffer under my own bed more efficiently. But they are also full.

Worsted yarn I'm gonna do something with. Someday.

Bulky yarn, ditto

Oh, and I have this three-drawer rolling thing-y that Susie no longer wants. I shoved most of my fingering/sock weight yarn in there. That's organized, right? Tell me I'm right.

Totally gonna knit this. Soon. Really soon.

Let's not forget the cotton collection! Attractively arranged in a pretty hatbox I stole from Anna...

This used to be full, but I gave some away. See? Organized.

Organizing my knitting needles was definitely a challenge. Used to be, I never knew what I had, so I would just go out and buy a new set every time I started a project.

Look, I'm not proud of that, okay?

But then I came up with the idea of sorting them by size into those plastic zippered pencil cases that go into three-ring binders. It's like I'm a genius or something, you know? So now I have two binders full of needles, and I'd say that I can find the size I need at least 50% of the time. That, my friends, is progress. In my world, anyway...

This actually works. Yeah, I'm surprised, too.

Complete with needle gauge and template of someone's foot...

To round out my studio, I have one of those cube things, to store books and needle binders (see above) and such on. There are supposed to be a few blue storage bins in there, too, for odds and ends, but Susie confiscated them. The bins, that is. That's okay - I would have just filled them with junk, like my dresser drawers.


Surprisingly empty, but we know it won't stay that way, right?

And I have a regular bookcase, too, that I use to store my sundry knitting bags and baskets filled with unfinished projects.

Can you spot the sweater I was going to finish last week?

Look, I'm an artist. You can't expect me to operate in a linear fashion. STOP STIFLING MY CREATIVE INSTINCTS.

Oh, and speaking of unfinished objects (UFOs, in knitter parlance), here's a basket of sock yarn leftovers that are slated to be used for a blanket I started knitting, oh, 2 years ago.

My pretties....

I believe the project bag holding the blanket is in that first picture, lying on the bed under the purple yarn that is waiting to be knit into a school-colors scarf for Brian. No rush, people, I've got 3 1/2 more years to get to that scarf. More, if he does grad school there...

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Ticket To Ride

Hi! It's November! It's raining! IT'S NOT HUMID!

Excuse me, I'm a tad giddy. It was an awful summer, meteorologically speaking. "Summer," as in May all the way through October...

Anywhoo, here we are, enjoying fall weather and then a knitting friend of mine up and buys a beach house. OH, YES, SHE DID. So 5 of us are setting out tomorrow to inspect the house and make sure it is fun to knit in. Everyone's schedules fell into place perfectly (Larry has some days off this week!), because miracles can happen like that.

Not-yet-knitted Christmas presents

Except, I just realized that Theo's birthday is this Friday. Sure, he's turning 27 and probably doesn't care if I'm there or not; but this is the first time in years he's been here on his birthday. It feels sort of rude to abandon him, you know? Also, he's the oldest, so his birthday is always special - it marks when I first became a mom and less of a callow idiot.

Gonna finish this sweater, too...
But, hey, I'm leaving anyway. We'll have cake on Saturday, I guess. I think Theo's moving out this weekend, so it can be a farewell cake, too. Don't worry, we won't be too lonely - Anna is moving back in early next month. I need a revolving door on that guest room, I'm thinking.

I applied for another editing job (a job I've already done as an independent contractor, so HIRE ME ALREADY) at the company Theo just started working for. Good son that he is, he submitted an internal referral for me. That means my resume might make it past the recruiter to the hiring manager's desk. Woohoo!

Of course, if I do get an interview, I have no idea what to say. Anyone have interview tips for a middle-aged woman who hasn't had a real job in, oh, 27 years?

I need to go pack now. You know, all the yarn and the leftover Halloween candy and whatever else I think to throw in my bag. Clothes, maybe? Yeah, those too, I guess.  And, for those of you keeping track, this will be the THIRD time I've gone away this fall. I'm telling you, after a quarter century of not going anywhere much, this being able to get away is really novel. Seriously, there used to be entire years when I wouldn't leave town, aside from a weekend trip up to my parents' house, maybe, or a day trip to the beach with 5 or 6 kids in tow.

I'm reveling in my new-found freedom, is what I'm saying. All those years listening to people talk about frequent flyer miles and getaways with their girlfriends and weekend excursions to fun cities, while I nursed babies and cranked out 3 meals a day, every day, and thought it would never, ever end?

It did end. I'm going to the beach in the middle of the week with my friends, and everyone here will manage just fine. See? If you wait 27 years, anything can happen.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Sugared Up

Only 35 trick-or-treaters tonight. I have no explanation for such a paltry showing, as it was beautiful weather out. I had 75 treat bags prepared, so, yeah, I'm pretty disappointed. But I'm sure all Brian's college friends will be thrilled when Larry and Rachel drop 40 of those off with him on Friday. Because, yes, Rachel (she of the decapitated animal heads and clogged toilets) is going on college tours the next two days. I don't know how that happened. Seems like only a year or so ago, she was four and we were sleeping with the car keys under our pillows because we were convinced she'd try to drive our cars.

No lie, people. No lie.

We decked out the house (well, the kitchen, anyway) in honor of the holiday:

We don't get to use these place mats much

Both Theo and Susie carved jack-o'-lanterns this year. Susie was thrilled she wasn't the only one doing it. It's hard being the youngest (I mean, aside from the fact that she's spoiled as heck).

A witch and a cat - we're very original

The friends we invited over (their daughter went trick-or-treating with Susie) brought me GORGEOUS flowers.

Blood roses - perfect for Halloween!

And I am so buzzed on Almond Joys and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I can hardly see straight.

So. Much. Candy.

Friends of mine handed out activist treats:

There seems to be a message here...

In non-Halloween news, my part-time editing job has been keeping me busy, because it's college application time and apparently everyone's kids but mine pay to have their college essays professionally edited. I've always railed against the whole college application brouhaha (12 or more applications? REALLY?) and the way that upper middle class students have an edge in the process, but now that I'm profiting off that? Hey, it's totally cool.

I got to use the word "brouhaha." That makes me happy.  That, and approximately gazillion Almond Joys. Excuse me, I'm going to go see if any are left...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Of Hikes And Hauntings

Larry's birthday was the 10th, and he had the whole next week off (during which he had such scintillating activities planned as watching someone install storm doors in our basement), and Susie and I said, "Oh, heck, no, it's still 80-something degrees and humid here and we can't figure out what to get Dad for his birthday, so let's give him a vacation!" We Googled "houses for rent in Bar Harbor," which turned out to be quite cheap the third week in October, and we called Auntie Kate to see if she were up for meeting us (since she lives up that way), and next thing you know, Susie and Larry and I are in the car and heading north.

I mentioned this plan already, but it was so long ago, I'm giving you a refresher. And let's just give a big shout out to Theo, who returned from Israel just in time to be Rachel's chauffeur and chef so we could pull this whole thing off.

Now, something always goes awry on our family vacations. I accept that. Nothing is ever as great as we hope it will be, right?

WRONG. This week broke the mold. The vacation was perfect - I mean, aside from the fact that Susie was convinced that the house was haunted, but I don't blame her. The rental was a hundred years old, with the requisite dark wood moldings and claw-footed bathtubs and ROCKING CHAIRS IN THE BEDROOMS, which Susie and I refused to look at at night, because we were both sure they would be moving.

Also, there was the locked door in one of the bedrooms, which we assumed led to a storage closet for the owner's use, until we looked up at the side of the house one day and noticed there was a window we couldn't see from the inside. So we refused to look at that, too, because we knew a face would appear there, and then we'd have to use our phones to alert anyone inside that they should GET OUT, but when we'd open our texting app, there the face would be, staring back at us.


Our imaginations sort of ran away from us, I guess.

But, aside from the time spent worrying about spectral beings from another plane of existence, things were awesome. We went hiking every single day, and - as is Acadia's wont - we were treated to breathtaking views everywhere we turned. Just like what we had seen during our summer camping trips there, only now there were splashes of fall color making the scenery even more scenic. And it was less crowded, so we didn't have to worry about finding parking. And the air was magnificent - cold and brisk and downright rejuvenating after all the incredibly soul-sucking humidity we had suffered through since May.

Only the best photo I will take in my entire life

Oh, and did I mention? We weren't camping. No watching Larry get stressed out about pulling the trailer, no having to go hide while he attempted to back the camper into our spot, no hoarding quarters so we could have hot showers, no trips to the laundromat every 3 days. It was WEIRD. Is this how normal people vacation? I LIKE IT.

Here, have some more scenery, why doncha?

I climbed up here.

I feel sort of bad, because I don't have any funny stories to tell you, because nothing went wrong. I know, weird, right? These normal-people vacations could be very bad for my illustrious blogging career, I guess.

I can live with that, though. Really, I can.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Traveler, Know Thyself

People were commenting "Amazing photos!" on my previous post and I was all like "Huh?" I went back and looked and thought, "Wow! I actually saw that stuff!" Which, well, you'd think I would have already realized, but no. Because here's the problem with traveling in the Middle East: there's too much to see.

This stuff is EVERYWHERE
Seriously. You're walking around and by the time you've viewed your gazillionth stone wall from antiquity in the space of an hour, you're all, "That's nice. But where CAN I get some coffee here?" It's just too overwhelming. You walk up a modern-ish city street and realize that the building you're standing next to is pretty darn historic-looking, and hey - so's the one on the next block! And over here! And pretty soon you've got a camera full of pictures of stone buildings and you have no idea what they all are.

Look, I never said I was good at traveling, okay?

Theo rented a car a few different days and drove us all around. We saw I don't know how many interesting stone villages perched on the sides of mountains. But it was enough that we stopped noticing them. We saw mile upon mile of breathtaking desert hills (I've got the photos to prove it); but, sadly, we got used to those, too. So what stands out is the weird stuff, like the Chinese restaurant menu printed in Hebrew (we ate there in Be'ersheva):

At the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, what caught my eye was not the stone manger where the Baby Jesus (supposedly) lay in swaddling clothes or the centuries-old paintings on the walls, but the thoroughly modern vending machine just outside the old stone walls of the building:

Baby Jesus never got a soda, I'm pretty sure 

Food took on an overarching importance during this trip. Yom Kippur, we inadvertently fasted, because I was trying to act like a savvy traveler by purchasing food at a deli counter in the local souk (market) the day before. That evening, after the sun had gone down and all the stores had closed, Susie and I sat down with great anticipation to our little feast, a variety of salads and pickled vegetables and some bread. "We'll have enough for tomorrow, too!" I announced happily, proud of my ingenuity.

This is what disappointment looks like.

Reader, we hated it. All of it. Nothing tasted right to our American palates. And now we were staring down the barrel of an entire day with NOTHING TO EAT (except for the hostel breakfast, which Susie was becoming sick and tired of). To add insult to injury, 2 youngish guys sat down next to us at this point and pulled out their own dinners: a pint of Ben and Jerry's each, and also a bag of chips.

I repeat, American ice cream and potato chips. People, this was the equivalent of waving a juicy beefsteak in front of a couple of very hungry puppies.

They both enjoyed their repast as Susie and I tried not to stare too longingly in their direction. We were both thinking the same thing: Why hadn't we done that? After all, there was a convenience store right next to the hostel (closed now, of course). But no - I had to be trying to act like Miss World Traveler and shop where the natives shopped.

And that, my friends, is when I gave up trying to impress myself and Susie with how to be a traveler. Because, really, I'm not. Not a good one, anyway. I don't know what half my pictures are of, my stomach was dying for American food halfway through that trip, and watching me try to figure out the Israeli money was enough to erase Susie's last shred of confidence in me.

And, yes, as soon as that convenience store opened the next evening, Susie and I were in there, buying some Ben and Jerry's. It's a good thing to live without pretense, right? Tell me I'm right.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Jerusalem, Mostly

Let's see, where to start? First, I've been pretending that it might someday (SOME DAY) be autumn, with brisk breezes and cool frosty nights. Else, why would I even try to knit anymore, in this 80-something heat with its mosquito-laden humidity, on what should be a refreshing October day?

It's difficult to even imagine needing these.

But, see - I am knitting. Because someday (SOME DAY) the mercury will drop below 70 and I will remember what it's like to love the outdoors again.

Until then, however, I'm outta here. Larry had some leave to use up and Theo came home from Israel yesterday, willing to drive his teen sister Rachel where she needs to go while Larry and I (and Susie) escape from this poor excuse of an autumn by driving north. All the way to Maine north, that is - if the cold won't come here, we'll go find the cold.

So, yeah, I get to go away AGAIN - that's twice in 2 months, which is some sort of record for me. Wouldn't it be nice if I posted some pics of the last trip before I go gadding about again? Yes, yes it would.

Nachos - Susie and I pretty much licked that plate clean.

You weren't expecting that, were you? We ate this on our last day in Israel, in Tel Aviv, and it was EXCELLENT. I guess, after almost 2 weeks of hummus and felafel and weird-tasting cookies and cucumbers (for breakfast, mind you), we just needed a little taste of home.

Oh, we tried to be adventurous foodie travelers, we did! All the hostels offered the traditional Israeli breakfast of hummus and cucumbers and yogurt and tomatoes and bread with too-sweet jam (all sweets there are too sweet) and olives. Olives for breakfast! We held up for about a week, and then I noticed Susie (who really had been trying her best) wasn't eating anything in the morning and that really affects her energy and cheerfulness levels, so I caved.

Which explains why, on Day 8 of our trip, I was faced with a fellow hostel-dweller turning to me at our communal breakfast, where everyone was chowing down on healthy Middle Eastern food, and saying, "Ben and Jerry's ice cream for breakfast? Really?" after my daughter left the table.

I had some, too. I'll admit it.

Hey, she was happy. And energetic enough to walk the ramparts of the Old City that morning, too. Where I expected to take lots of photos of very old-looking, picturesque buildings, given that I would be getting a birds-eye view of an ancient metropolis, right?

I don't know about you, but all those satellite dishes really ruined the "ancient" vibe for me. Also, the solar panels. Oh, and the Little Tykes set:

Antiquity meets modernity

But walking through the Old City itself, with Theo and his girlfriend a couple of days earlier, we managed to pick up on that feeling of antiquity. Didn't hurt that we were stumbling over ruins everywhere we turned:

A lot of stuff like this

And this...
And we saw the Wailing Wall, but we didn't even try to approach it, as it was the day before Yom Kippur and all. Popular, is what I'm saying. Think Times Square on New Year's Eve. Only, uh, less profane...

This is as close as we got
Besides, Theo needed to get some coffee. Which he found at a shop in the Armenian Quarter where the owner said, "Strong coffee? Yes, this is strong. My friend, this coffee is what resurrected Jesus!"

Everyone's a comedian, I guess.