Friday, January 27, 2012

Tennis weekend coming up

In the ongoing attempt to keep life as normal as possible during pregnancy, I have entered a tennis tournament this weekend. You didn't think I would let a little thing like that get in the way of tennis taking over my life, did you?  We have been playing in an informal mixed-doubles league since November, and still have our weekly class, and now, a tournament. I haven't really played singles since October, and since the actual league season starts next month, I figured I needed some practice. (Yes, I know most of you don't know and don't care about the difference in the informal and actual league play - just read one as "for fun" and one as "serious, if we win we could be really cool" or something like that.) So, I will be playing three matches over the weekend in a round robin sort of thing. It is indoors, which is sort of a bummer, because playing outside is better, but since it is only supposed to get to 50 tomorrow, I guess inside will have to do. Actually, we did have our lessons outside both of the first two Saturdays of the year, but it was a bit warmer those days. 

Anyway, I have no idea how I will do - like I said, I haven't played singles lately, and while doubles is still tennis, it is really different in the way you play shots and how much you run around. If I win it all (bwa ha ha) I will surely let you know.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A little news

In case you don't follow me or my mother on Facebook, let me share a little news: I am pregnant, due in August. Benjamin and I are pleased, although not jumping-up-and-down-with-glee excited (I don't do that kind of excited - it just gives me a stomach ache, and Benjamin is generally too much of a philosopher to get giddy about anything). While I may occasionally mention something about said pregnancy here or post pictures of the (eventual) child, I do not have any intention to make this a pregnancy blog, or a baby blog, because really, no-one apart from my mother would care. As it is, even though I am on FB regularly and tell you about my adventures (or whine about lack thereof) I don't share all that many of my private thoughts and emotions online, and I don't really see that changing. So, you don't have to start avoiding my blog for fear of seeing ultrasound pictures or pregnant belly pictures. Promise. Once the baby actually arrives, all bets are off, but until then...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snoqualmie Falls

Eesh. I didn't realize it had been a week since I last posted. Not intended at all! Anyway, onward to this post.

One of the things we did while in Bellevue for Christmas was take a trip up to Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge. The primary objective was breakfast, and that was good - I had a salmon hash - but a very important second was the falls themselves.

No picture can really show how impressive the Falls are. They are taller than Niagara (if nowhere near as wide)! There is a power plant attached to the Falls, and as an elementary school student, I went on a field trip there, not that I remember much about it other than it was impressive.

They are great place to take out of town visitors (and the restaurant is pretty good too). The hiking trail that leads to the bottom of the falls is currently closed (until 2013, according to the website I linked above) while they are going construction, but you can still get some great views from the viewing platform or from the sight-seeing train, which doesn't run during the winter.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pretty, sparkly lights!

As promised last week, here are some sparkly lights to brighten up what is a gray and gloomy January day (well, it is gloomy and rainy and cold here in Little Rock anyway). This display is put on every year at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, and never really gets old.

I think we went the first year it opened, when it was just a few flowers in the darkness and a small cart selling powdered hot chocolate. Now, it is over half a  million lights over several acres, with a full espresso stand. As Benjamin said, you know when you are in Seattle when there is an espresso stand at the light display.

The pictures don't really do the lights justice, although I was pretty pleased with how well the night light setting on my camera worked this time. The flash only went off a couple of times when the lights were bright enough to make it think it should be lighter than it was. Otherwise, it was mostly just a matter of keeping my hands steady while I shot the picture.

Sprinkled among the flowers were critters and creatures of all kinds, like this spider and the frog in the top picture. Did you spot that one? For the kids, the garden had a sort of scavenger hunt map that listed all of the 30+ animals, and even without the map, I had a great time trying to spot them.

One of the coolest things about the display is that it is not Christmas specific - there was only one Christmas tree in the whole display. That means that it is not at all exclusionary. Bellevue is very multi-ethnic these days, and when we went on Christmas night, there were people from many different cultures and countries visiting, some of who do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah.  What a great way to lighten the darkest part of the year!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A few Christmas pictures

This year was our turn to travel during the holidays, so that meant a trek up to Bellevue and my parents. I love being home for Christmas, but I hate the actual travel. Bah humbug! Anyway, here are a few pictures from Christmas morning (I did not include the people, since I love my mother and do not want her to disown me).

We kept the fire in the fireplace going for most of the day, since Christmas in Bellevue was, as it usually is, incredibly cold and damp. The figures on the tables are the wonderful manger scene/creche that my mother and I collected throughout my childhood. I know you can't really see them, but they are in a medieval Italian style. There is an elephant too, which we decided is totally appropriate for the wise men.

My mother's tree was lovely, as usual, but rather restrained compared to past years. The first year we were in the house, my parents went out to the mountains to chop down a tree and came back with one that was as tall as the (two-story) house. Another year, the tree came out half way into the living room.

And this is Winston. He really had nothing to do with Christmas, but he is a fat cat, and therefore belongs on the internet. He has actually lost a few pounds since I saw him last.

Next time - fancy Christmas lights.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Family FangThe Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this.

Annie and Buster, or Child A and Child B, as they were referred to in their parents' performance art projects, grew up and moved away from home. They were tired of being a part of the performances that caused chaos and disruption as a form of art. But then, after their lives fall apart, thanks to some very bad decisions involving topless photos, a magazine reporter, beer and a potato gun, they both move back home, hoping to find at last a normal sense of family, but fearing the worst. When the worst does happen, Annie and Buster struggle to discover what is real and what is art, how they should react, and what it will take to find a normal life when they finally figure it all out.

Annie and Buster are engaging, messed-up characters who know exactly why they are messed up and are doing the best they can with what they have. I wanted them to find their way to happiness, even as I wanted to see how low they could go. Wilson writes with sly humor and a sensitivity toward his characters, as he takes a set of familiar themes - growing up, leaving home, figuring out where you fit with your parents - and blows them out of all proportion, then brings them back to earth.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back from vacation, now with pictures!

Yes, my dears, I am back from vacation, renewed, refreshed and with plenty of pictures off my camera.

We had the first snow of the season back on December 7th. This is fairly unusual. While it looks like quite a bit, here in the backyard, there was no snow on the roads. Let me repeat that: there was no snow on the roads. I went to the gym at 5:30 AM and had no problems whatsoever getting down our hill or back up. I doubt the people in Brockport would have even noticed that it had snowed. Here, however? It took me 2 hours to get to work. A normal day is 30-40 minutes. Unbelievable. 

This is an heirloom tomato from our garden, which I pulled off the bushes while it was still green, in advance of the snow and freeze. Benjamin took this picture on December 21st. Yes, 4 days before Christmas we were eating a fresh tomato from our garden. Almost unbelievable, in an entirely different way.

Stay tuned - later this week I will have pictures from Christmas and from our New Year's Day hike.