Tuesday, May 31, 2005

"If you could see it then you'd understand"

If you had asked us Friday night, we might not have been too optimistic about this past weekend's outcome. We left after work and as soon as the vehicle hit I-70, we were stymied by traffic. Unbelievable amounts of traffic. WHERE ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE GOING AND WHY ARE THEY IN MY WAY traffic. We crawled through half of Maryland, found a shortcut, and kept on trucking. We weren't going to make it in time for the bachelor party, but we got directions to the home of M's parents and kept our spirits up by singing along to Cake and chatting as we went. Then we hit some pretty hard thunderstorms. Then we stopped and c r a w l e d slowly forward toward a jack-knifed semi blocking the entire road and making us detour AGAIN and lose another half an hour. As K so accurately and depressingly noticed, our trip took 50% longer than it should have. Curse math majors! Curse two-lane roads! Curse them all!!!

But we made it. At 12:30, we arrived, hit the hay, and slept like the dead. The next day's weather couldn't make up its mind, but it was a lovely service that really reflected G&S marvelously. Their love of music shown through with a few specials which were skillfully sung. They were blissfully happy. It was contagious. The reception, too, was very nice. They both LOVE to dance, so much mirth was had by all watching and participating. Plus their favors were bud vases filled with yogurt-covered raisins and CHOCOLATE-COVERED ESPRESSO BEANS OF GLORY!

After the wedding, everyone was beat. Some in our group wanted to hottub it at their hotel, but others of us had neglected to bring appropriate attire, so J, M, K, and I went back to home base and changed into comfy clothes. We talked to M's delightful parents before we met up with our friends again at our favorite local eatery, Rachel's Roadhouse, a landmark bar with great food, loads o' yokels, a kickin' shuffleboard, and fresh service. Now usually the "fresh" would refer to something like "Young Man, don't be FRESH with me!" kind of service. This time, we had the sweetest girl who was excellent at her job. Who knew Rachel's had it in them to hire GOOD help?

The ladies work the limelight.

Anyhow, K and I beat M&J at shuffleboard, despite the fact that M was WAY better than all of us combined. I had a delicious Blue Moon with a slice of orange in it. We ate pretzels with hot fudge dip and an onion blossom, and we heard the new Coldplay single "Speed of Sound," and I wanted to hold on to that dream-like moment of music and my beautiful friends' smiles and laughter.

The next day, a plan was hatched to visit a local vineyard called the Wilhelm Winery which had a festival that day with wine-tasting, folk music, and free food. There was no cover charge, and we tried a bunch of different wines. Most were not all that good, but a few that were delicious, so we brought a couple home and we enjoyed them with our tortillini last night.

Near Leesburg Falls: a rock ledge, light, and mounds of moss and ferns

We found out one of our friends was having a birthday the next day, so we hatched yet another plan to visit Leesburg Falls, a local landmark not far away, and have a car "get lost," get a cake and supplies, and surprise the daylights out of him. Everything worked beautifully. A was without a clue until the Dairy Queen ice-cream cake arrived and we all sang boistrously. We wandered around the trails for a while, snapping pictures and lingering until we absolutely had to go. Eventually the time arrived, and we headed home, arriving late and missing everyone just a smidge until we closed our eyes and fell instantly asleep.

Leesburg Falls, where my husband almost proposed to me, but didn't. Someday, he and I will go back to our spot in the wilds of New York state and I will take photos of it, but until then, we must all content ourselves with a sight which, while second choice, is not second rate.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Another weekend, another wedding.

Well, it's that time again. It's still the Grover Wedding Season, after all. It should be a great time wishing G & S well. Report to follow, OF COURSE.

Happy weekend, everyone! Here's hoping yours is as full of friendship, joy and laughter as mine will be!

Take some time to look out the window, preen, and enjoy the view!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

a game of cat and . . . ant, I guess.

Indeed, she is a fearsome huntress.

I can't write much because I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 328 things to do for work, but here's a picture of Kitten toying with an ant we found in our home. We're so lucky to have her. ;-)

Why didn't she pick a bug I actually hate killing, you know? I can handle an ant, even a big on like the one with which she's pictured. Why can't she kill spiders? I HATE doing it, and even when I do, I can't just eat the spoils of war, for heaven's sake. I can't even fold up paper towels and pick it up myself for fear that the spider will be SO mad at me for killing it, that it will bite me through the paper towels POST MORTEM, poisoning me fatally. When my bizarre death is reported on the news, they'll end it with "and that's why, you never pick up a dead spider with paper towels."

But, hey, she killed an ant. And she's cute. I guess I can live with that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Inertia is my motor. *

The story of my life these days: a flurry of productive activity followed by an inability to fathom what could possibly be important enough to skip reading dumb websites again (ahem - my website does not = dumb). It's as though my mind has initiated a new Monsoon Work Ethic - drowning in work or dying of (work-related) thirst.

I'm sure all adults will tell me that striking a balance between fun time and productive time forms the struggle of a lifetime, but I wish I could get more of a handle on it. Don't get me wrong - I'm all about the healthy leisure time. But it seems like lately, I can't enjoy goofing off much AT ALL if there's ANYTHING that MIGHT need to be done. Which, yeah, UNHEALTHY.

It doesn't help that hubster is exactly like me. He, even more than I, has this capacity to focus on the task at hand for hours on end. When we tidy the house, it ALL gets done if he's on a rampage. We hit every room, we dust every surface, we tidy until everything looks marvelous. But, while we peruse our handiwork, "Hey! It's all done! Wow. Okay, let's make dinner (but not clean up right afterward so the non-dishwasher safe knives, big pots/pans, and cutting boards stay dirty till breakfast), veg on the couch, and not call our parents even though we thought we should." **

Seriously, WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? Would it PAIN US MIGHTILY if we KEPT UP A GOOD THING LIKE MOTIVATION?!?! Does anyone else have this problem? Do I have to resort to the tired concept of refrigerator charts and gold stars to fix it? It's harder, too, because now there are two people to get the tasks done. It's easy to wait around for the other person to "pitch in" and "do their share," while you could totally just to it yourself and make them do something else. If I didn't work much, I wouldn't mind dividing up the labor so that I did most of the housework, but because we're BOTH working full time, we agree it's absurd to make me do it all just because I lost the Lottery of Life and got stuck with 2 X's. Thoughts anyone?

Conundrum-med in Columbia

* I love references to obscure song almost as much as I love Cake!
** Just kidding Moms and Dads - we NEVER choose movies over you. We wouldn't dream of disrespecting the pain/toil/money you suffered/endured/lavished on our ungrateful selves. No, WE LOVE YOU! :-D

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Whither naiveté?

Sometimes, working from home is Most Unfun. Like today: I got on the phone with my boss and she had the new half of our marketing team by her side so we could "meet." It looks like we won't meet in person for a couple of months. She sounded nice, and I'm sure I didn't sound like a madwoman, but she'll probably look at my blog (which boss HAD to mention), put 2+2 together, and realize she works with a crazy person (said with wide-eyed conviction like Elliot from Scrubs). I guess that last part can't be helped. Had we met face to face first, she might have thought of me as girlie, or outspoken, or dramatic, but the crazy always comes through once you learn to filter out the rest, so I guess she (I?) was doomed from "Hello, I'll be in almost constant contact with you from now on. I hope you're cool or my work days just got horribly, horribly long." Good luck, B!

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Beautiful Blur of an Evening (in pictures)

Lights and a Sea of Humanity

I never even missed the Witches.

A study in contrast.

Locust Tree in the City

Saturday, May 21, 2005

"If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere."

MUHAHAHA! It's Saturday on a conference and I'm blogging! I love the Internet.

1. First things first, even though our travel was mostly on time, we took too long getting into the city, so we missed our dinner reservation, but Spamalot was FABU, darling! Not for everyone, especially those who aren't fans of Monty Python, but it was just original enough to be more than the Holy Grail On Broadway and still full of the spirit (and often words and costumes) of the fabulous source material. Much love. Much love. Also, David Hyde Pierce - my new favorite Awkward and Nervous Type!

2. Set-up and the first day of the conference was great because, though it made for a long day, it was all packed together and everything worked well. Today also went well, but we were definitely tired tonight.

3. Hot tubs = The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

4. My new phrase for conference: "What lunch?"

5. I miss my Temperpedic pillow. Best Valentine's Day gift EVER!

6. Photos will follow, so watch this spot. Here's hoping something of New York came through.

Nighty-night, darlings. Talk to you soon!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Goodbye, Sweet (Pink-Nailed) Pea.

Have mouse, will travel.

Persephone has taken an interest in one of the mouse toys that came with her Softpaws. She's begun playing with it all over the house and occasionaly dragging it from one room to another in her mouth. It's adorable. I'm gonna miss seeing that while I'm gone.

There's a greater chance of having Internet this time around, but I make no promises about writing. However, I'm taking the camara this time because I'm seeing NYC while I'm gone (at least for one evening) and tonight I'm seeing Spamalot. YEAH, I KNOW! AAAAAA! So, I hope to have SOMETHING worth your time to post later.

Well, I should run along, pack, and commence with missing my hubby. Later!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"This party is gonna be off the hook."

Buster: Mom is becoming a little controlling.
Michael: What tipped you off? When she locked you out on the balcony again?
Buster: That was half my fault. I thought I saw a graham cracker out there.
Michael: You baited the balcony?
Lucille: Prove it.

The proof is in! Arrested Development was renewed for a full third season! From a "Watch with Kristin" article: "Arrested Development is coming back! These highly placed sources confirmed late Friday it has been renewed for a full season of 22 episodes. How freaking fantastic is that?"

I'm so happy, I could . . . get to work. It is that hour. Still, yay!!!

Michael: Well, I’m sorry. It’s just too late. I’m moving to Phoenix. I got a job. [everyone stares blankly at him] Something you apply for, and then they pay you to, uh... never mind. I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In an alternative universe . . .

I am lying down on the blanket my uncle got me from New Mexico. It's spread out on the grass in the park behind our apartment complex. The weather is sunny, mid-60s F with only a few clouds. I have a basket of warm empanadas (with Mom's signature Cordoban filling) ready to eat with a nice bottle of white wine. K's there and he's reading something funny to me. For dessert, we have berries and cream and puffs of cloud to stare at.

*shakes head* Well, I should get back to work. Still, it's lunch, so I have some time for blogging.

I had to get a new computer after mine started crashing far too regularly for comfort. It arrived yesterday, so most of last night, K had to help me dump all the annoying programs that come loaded on it (AOL Dialup service for an entire 6 months! Who WOUlDN'T switch from cable for that?!?). This morning I had to load my Adobe software and get it ready for business use. It's going to be so nice to have a superfast/reliable machine. Plus my new, 20" widescreen monitor arrives tomorrow. HOT! I can't wait to see how much extra screen space it gives me. Laying out will NEVER be the same.

This weekend I'll be out of town again, so after Thursday, don't expect too many posts. I think I will be without internet again. *single tear* It would be nice to unwind with a little internet action. Maybe our hotel will have a business computer lab. hmmmm . . . Other than the business trip, not much else is slated for this week. Don't worry, I'll make up some adventures so you won't get bored.

As my freshman-year RD used to say, "back to the gulag." Heh-heh. Just kidding, bosses! I love my job! Really! >;)

Grovers: does this sound familiar?

I bet it will!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

So hot right now!

Sexy beast!

We've been using clear Softpaws (claw covers) to save our sofas and our skin from Her Pointiness. Last night we finally upgraded to pink. Look at her vamping for the camara! Work the light, baby, WORK IT.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Virginia is for Lovers

Great Falls National Park

N and J got married two weeks ago. Before that, we'd been talking about attending the Salvador Dali exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and thought we could squeeze it in with them a few weeks before the wedding. Heh. RIIIIIGHT. So we thought we'd push it back until this weekend, May 13-14th. We booked the hotel and started making plans, but tickets were sold out. NO BRILLIANT SURREALISTS FOR ME! And a cultural event too! I was so bummed.

Still, we wanted to spend time with each other, so we packed our picnic lunches and met up at Great Falls National Park. We ended up hiking for the better part of 4 hours up and down the craggy rock and along the Potomac. It was really warm out, but it felt good to break a sweat climbing to the top of a formation and looking down on the river. Because of my well-documented loathing for exercise, I tend to avoid opportunities to go out in nature and wander around. Poor K got to listen to a string of complaints while we were getting ready: "I have no shorts! I'm gonna overheat out there!" and "Here we go with the sunscreen. What a pain!" and "Heat stroke - that'll be my fate in about 12 minutes! GRR!"

Man, I'm an idiot 'cause this was so worth it

Friday, May 13, 2005

Now entering previously uncharted territory.

I usually keep this blog fluffy. I mention some of what I'm doing, thinking, seeing, and surfing online. For the past couple of days I've been sitting on this link I thought about sharing, but I didn't know if I wanted to go there. This could legitimately count as something I've been thinking/seeing/surfing, so I'm just gonna blog. If this post seems annoyingly didactic or dull, better luck tomorrow.

Look at this page. I can't even recall how I found it, but it was one of those "look how much retouching they do - FREAKY!" sorts of posts on another website. It got me thinking about something I've struggled with for a long time: body image. I'm struggling as I write this post because I just know you're all going to catalog my annoying physical qualities while you read, and I JUST DON'T WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO GO THERE, AAAAAAA! Still, what should I care, right? They're there. You notice them, even the best among you who love me dearly and want what's best for me. But if I write a post about body image you're all gonna take sides on what you think, and it's hard not to take your opinion of the commentator into account. So anyway, realize that I'm sensitive on the subject and I do often feel that magazines, movies, and marketing of all kinds end up making me feel I'm not skinny enough, tall enough, or just plain ENOUGH.

I sound like I'm beating a long-dead horse. I mean, isn't EVERYONE telling us how bad the media and marketing's images of perfection are for the well being and self esteem of women especially? The fact that the name "Mary-Kate Olsen" has probably flickered across your brain since I brought this up should be evidence of that. But just like the violence in movies can't totally account for the violence in schools, the perfection of women on magazine covers can't totally account for sky-rocketing anorexia rates or the fact that I HATE my thighs.

Then I think, if you were the chick in the link, wouldn't you want just a smidge of help to make you look your best when MILLIONS of people would look at your image? Who wants their pores, their puffy eyes, their skin, their cellulite, or even their un-retouched ta-tas looked at by MILLIONS of people? It's bad enough when one person looks askance at you in the mall. Who wants to multiply that number, even if you don't see them with your own eyes or hear their thoughts? I don't think anyone has the self-confidence to stand up to that for years, not even quasi-perfect supermodels.

I also understand that companies want their products to look their best, so when you're selling eye cream, you don't want some model's eyes that look less-than-perfect up on a huge billboard. No one will buy! Even if their product doesn't make you perfect, if it helps, wouldn't you want to have tried it instead of being deterred by a model who went partying the night before the shoot and looked a little puffy under her eyes? Plus, we might not want to stare at a model's tattoo every time we glance at a spread in InStyle Magazine. We want to see the product, not the supermodel's tattoo honoring his fifth girlfriend, Winona.

But all this perfection takes its toll, particularly on people-pleasing, sensitive women. I'm naturally self-critical so it's hard not to compare myself to them. My husband NEVER compares me to magazine cover girls out loud, but I'm sure he's noticed my faults. Does that mean he's thinking of them when he says "I love you," as though he were mentally adding "well, most of you. Not your calves - they're too beefy. Oh, and the thick arms aren't doing you any favors, Baby?" HE ISN'T THINKING THAT. But I'm so obsessed with "being honest about myself" and competing with the images he is surrounded by in the grocery store check-out that I think he's thinking that.

So I'm stuck in my thinking. I understand that in a capitalistic society, advertising makes it important to have a pleasing image before the eye. But it is hard not to feel like you have to compete with those images - and you usually CAN'T compete with them because of PhotoShop and the miracle of sophisticated retouching. And it'll sound proud, but I'm not even that bad off. What right have I to complain loudly about the weight of inferiority that Gisele Bundchen puts on my psyche?

I guess that's where love comes in. Most parents love their over-weight children no less than they would the ideal-weight child. Beauty has little to do with character too often. I should be more worried about nagging my hubster than I should about my midriff. In addition, I should worry about health more than whether I'm a size 4 or a size 10. I have to focus on my priorities more and my insufficiencies less. I just wish it didn't take such a colossal effort.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

brown paper packages tied up with string . . .

Shoes + Philosophy References

Truly, a very special monad has produced something superlative here. I'm tearing up from the beauty of it all.

1) This will be not funny to most of you.
2) Anyone obsessed with shoes should view that site carefully. Be sure to leave your credit cards out of range to prevent following a link and dooming your credit rating to The Abyss.

The Entree At Last

Enough with tiding ourselves over. Tales must be told, pictures posted and later gawked at, itineraries fully disclosed to my inquiring readership. Heh. You guys probably prefer the entries in which I'm brief (despite myself). TOUGH, SUCKERS!

Mom and Dad arrived Thursday evening as promised. We just hung out that night and planned the rest of the trip. We decided on Baltimore the afternoon of Friday so we could have a lazy morning and a relaxed start to the proceedings. I got a ROCKIN' set of shots that I will soon stitch together to form a panoramic view of the Baltimore Harbor from Federal Hill that will knock your knickers off! [Unfortunately, I doubt it'll look even remotely cool on this page what with formating constraints, so you'll have to visit me to see it.] Later that night, K and I treated the 'Rents (and Mom especially, in honor of Mother's Day) to a visit to El Patio, an Argentine cafe I've been DYING to try out. We ate milanesas until we were stuffed, bought imported wonders like alfajores and dulce de membrillo, and enough dulce de leche to make us sick with joy!

Saturday we hit up DC for the monument tour. We did Jefferson, FDR, then lunch by the Tidal Basin (highly recommended - picnics and a picturesque view and CHEAP, the Trifecta of Coolness), then Washington, WWII, the White House, then Arlington and home again, home again, jiggity-jig. As my grandfather would say, "our dogs were barking" from walking so much, but it was worth it.

FDR Monument Rocks!

Sunday we went to church in the morning. Great message on Mother Teresa as an example of Compassion. Then we drove all the way to Mount Vernon (a whole hour - NO WAY) and did the Slave Life at MV Tour, plus the tomb, and a good deal of the grounds and lots more walking. Perfect weather. Highly recommend doing this estate at least once. Beautiful grounds for walking and enjoying. Beware the line for the Mansion tour, however. Long and SUNNY and therefore HOT. Still, worth it. If only for the way the house is working that lime-green wall color with the red curtains in the family dining room. Who knew the 18th century was so spicy?

The Mount Vernon Mansion in all it's majesty.

Monday was our final day together, so we took it easy in the morning again. Well, we were supposed to, but being the leech-child I am, I convinced my poor parents to join me shopping for plants and tools for my flower bed. We got some, but we couldn't put them in because of the roofers I mentioned in my previous post. At least they warned me my plants might be UTTERLY DESTOYED in the fury of de-roofing and re-roofing that's ensued since then. Anyhow, after plant purchases, we hit up Annapolis for the rest of the afternoon. The breezes flowed, we saw the interior of the MD State Capital and it was free and fabulous. Dad also took us out for ice cream at Ben & Jerry's by the harbor, and it was MOST SCRUMPTIOUS.

And we even had time to stop and smell the Mount Vernon anemones. A lovely mini-vacation, indeed!

Because it wouldn't be my blog without some flowers!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

To Tide You/Me Over . . .

Staring up at the ceiling, trying to take it all in

My parents left an hour ago. The roofers are showering shingles outside my window, and the trees are raining down the last of their flower petals and settling into the simple green of Summer. I want to tell you all about our conversations over the long weekend, all about the trips to see monuments, and estates, and cities. I want you all to have shared the breeze through your hair, the light, and the jests. I want you to look at all our pictures, not just the one or two that will probably make it onto the site. Ah, but that's for hours spent together, and we have mere minutes. I hope to share a few more experiences over the next few posts. Thanks for being so patient for me.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Once again, McSweeney's comes through for me.

A taste of what's to come when you read this article:

"6:00 a.m. Like all great civilizations, this one begins in an agrarian phase. Assorted grains and toasted nuts in a bowl. Perhaps some dried fruit if the harvest has been kind. Milk on top. This is a dark and fumbling time. A time to assemble the accoutrements on which a great civilization will be founded. We must find the keys, to the car, and to the future. Basic hygiene is introduced at this point. Primitive barefoot nakedness evolves toward being clothed and shod."

Yes, I believe "Thursday and Empire: or, How a Typical Workday Can Seem More Important When Modeled As a Great Era in Western Civilization." is definitely making me look at my workday a little differently.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


What should have made my day: the previous post's subject.

What actually made my day: You're Wonder Woman!
Proving that being a super heroine doesn't mean sacrificing style, you're able to bowl over the bad guys on looks alone! It takes a fierce fashion sense to have enough vision to skip the cape and opt for a crime-fighting corset. And talk about accessorizing! Who needs a shield when two gold bracelets will do the trick? Because you're not one to be swayed from your true course, you like to stick to the classics. When it comes to makeup, a simple red lip, a little powder and a subtle shadow are the mainstays of your beauty arsenal. And for those days you're not on duty, your alter ego prefers a simple black dress, pearls and your signature scent or a pair of tailored trousers and a crisp white blouse. Your cool, classic style will always make you a hero to women everywhere. Which Superhero Are You?

I sooth myself by thinking that it was a close race. I recognize this does not make me anything other than a superficial person with good intentions. And a crime-fighting corset, gosh-darn it! *AHEM* But still kinda frou-frou.

He shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Read this.

That made my day! Can you imagine being that family? That is the sort of thing that keeps me reading the news. Though most often the size/scope of news outlets make you feel like no depressing/terrifying story goes unreported, at least those outlets are available for the occasional exhilarating/upbeat stories to find an audience. I just pray that recovery lasts and he can once again be a husband and father and friend. What an unlikely second chance!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Behold the Cheetah-Belly

Half Tiger, Half Cheetah, All Cuteness. My parents don't stand a CHANCE.

The Parents Are Coming! The Parents Are Coming!

Hide the Clutter and Mayhem! Clean the Filth of the Bathroom! Brush Up on Local Trivia so as to Make Them Proud! Buy Airbeds! Wash! Tidy! HURRY, HURRY, HURRY!!!!!

Yes, preparations are underway for the arrival of the OutLaws. [In K's fam, they refer to those who are blood relations as "InLaws" and the less-than-blood relation's families as "OutLaws." It's handy & humorous, so the convention stands. Translating for my readers, then, "my parents are coming to visit."]

They're making the trek down by car and arriving on Thursday evening. We plan to hit the towns, pack some yummy picnics, and TALK. I remember coming home from any given break to have my mother offer me a beer, my dad ask about the drive home, and to spend the next two hours talking without interruption. Like our very LIVES DEPENDED ON IT. For those of you who ever wondered, there's a reason I turned out this way.

Anyhow, the time of reckoning approaches. The house is relatively clean already. There's not a tremendous amount of clutter out, but there's enough that something must be done. Parents must be lead to believe that their lessons from birth about Cleanliness, Orderliness, and Responsibility have taken hold and BY GUM, who are we to stop the charade perpetuated from the dawn of the human race?! We are no revolutionaries, we. No, Sir & Ma'am.

So we dust, we declutter, and we organize. But not without frequent breaks. TV shows won't watch themselves.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Erica Fall Down, Go Boom

Subtitle: Selected Adventures From My Latest Conference Experience

I'm back home. Everything went fairly well and sales were decent. C and I had us some fun on our off hours and managed to both stay alive and reassure many a troubled mom that she could, indeed, educate her children in the sciences from home.

But then there are the misadventures. It all begins with my arrival at the rental car lot on Thursday afternoon. My flights were on time, my bags arrived without a problem, and I was ready to get on the road and conquer all the set-up. There were some stone steps on the way up to the business office, and as I began climbing them, I biffed it. HARD. Now for those of you who did not spend your entire collegiate career hearing, being repulsed by, and then later loving the term "bif it," it means "to slip or fall down." My right knee hurt immediately, even as I was still lying, face down in front of 10 strangers, on the landing. To add insulting absurdity to painful injury, the agent helping me was standing in the lot, so I didn't even need to go up there. Ah, yes, thank you for finding my dignity where it was hiding up in the nearest car's wheel well. But what could I do? I got up, dusted myself off, and said I was fine. They upgraded my car to a Volkswagon Passat with a leather interior, Monsoon Sound System and a punchy engine, so I didn't complain. I got on the road and determined to put it behind me.

Three hours later, my knee hurt. I couldn't bend it backward (hello, limping at 1/7th of my usual land speed!) and, as I checked into the hotel, I realized that blood was showing on the outside of my jeans. But I had moved all the tables, hung the sign, set up all the books and lab equipment and gotten back to the hotel (by whatever miracle I managed to navigate the area roads which are, frankly, SADISTICALLY planned/maintained) to eat some reasonably-priced room service and ice my knee. I picked up my partner C, who had a final that day and couldn't arrive until later, from the airport. We slept too little that night, but at least I could face the next day with a buddy.

The swelling went down from double the usual knee size to just slightly swollen and stiff. We talked all day with homeschoolers and with each other and we made plans to the hit the town with G and H, K's cousins who live near Boston. That night they drove us around the city and we ate at a North End restaurant called Bella Vista and then had cheesecake and cappuccinos at another spot down the street. What a ball! C fit right in with the fam (yay for sarcasm and people who appreciate it!) and it was nice to do something other than just loafing around in our off hours. Oh, don't get me wrong, we LOVE the loafing, but we were an hour away from a major city - we liked taking advantage even better. By the time we got home that night, we were beat but happy.

Saturday, too, went well. Clean up was fast and we came back to hotel and sat in the hot tub for a while. We stayed at a Crown Plaza and it was perpetually busy. Every night saw some sort of conference or silent auction - there was even a prom on Friday night! Saturday night was middle-agers dressed to the nines and toting wine glasses. We felt ridiculous winding through that perfumed crowd with our quickly dampening clothes over our swim suits, our hair in ponytails, our perfume tinged with strong notes of chlorine.

The ride home wasn't a problem, we said goodbye at the airport and we'll see each other at our last conference together in June. Let's just hope the rental car place has no stairs that time.

Arriving home was marvelous. K picked me up, helped with the bags (bless him, that conference kit suitcase is 65 lbs of unweildiness!) and we pulled in swiftly. I set my purse down on the table and noticed a centerpiece of some kind, but went hunting for cat immediately. When I finally really looked at the table, I realized there were two dozen roses there! I have no idea why it didn't hit me. I was so happy to be home, and I've so often envisioned cut flowers there, I think it just seemed so natural it didn't register. Fortunately, not for long, however, and I was happy to give K the oohs and aahs and smooches that were his due for being so sweet. The conference thing might not be so bad, skinned knees and all.