Europe Trip Part 2: The Trip

The trip across the ocean was tolerable. It was hardly the experience I had 3 years ago when I flew British Airways, which is apparently THE way to go when crossing the Ocean. Delta has nice staff, but the plane was more cramped than your average plane, and we didn't have our own personal TVs - so you had to stare at the ceiling to see the TV, and then you had to watch what ever they happened to be playing. It was lame.

Our trip started in a lovely airport that had rocking chairs in some of the corridors. Good for killing some time, and the time needed killing cause our first flight was like 1.5 hours late taking off.

I am not particularly fond of flying; the (ever so small) possibility of dropping terrifies me. I don't ride roller coasters, because of all exhilarating sensations in this life, falling is my least favorite.
Our large plane that we flew to actually cross the ocean was not bad - but before we got on that one, we had to ride this tiny thing:

Mon Amour stopped to take pictures, but if I had stopped, I don't think I could have convinced my self to start walking again and get on that pint-sized thing.

But we did get onboard - where Mon Amour had to duck in order to stand in the aisle. It was cramped.

The flight was a mere 24 minutes long - literally, we got to cruising altitude, the seatbelt light turned off, and by the time one person unbuckled and went to stand up, the flight attendant asked her to sit back down cause we were landing.

We then boarded another plane, flew for 8.5 hours, and eventually landed in Milan.

Paulo the traveling gnome made it safely as well. We had safely arrived in the dirtiest, gloomiest airport I have ever seen.

Europe Trip Part 1: The Overview

We are back!
Actually, we have been back for a little while now - but real life (i.e. work) seems to have held its breath during our trip, so there was a lot of catching up that needed doing.

But not to fear, the posting has resumed.

For the next couple weeks (I think) I will being posting random tidbits from the trip. Hopefully it will not become boring - but no fears, I will not be showing you all of the 1657 pictures that we took during the trip. I will restrain myself to just sharing the highlights - so that you shall experience a nice abridged version.

If you prefer the really abridged version - just read today's post, and then don't come back for the next two weeks (after which time, normal every day posting will resume)

Now for the super-short-abridged-version of the trip.

First we flew to Milan (ick), then took a bus to Lugano:
Lugano is on a mountain, and a lake. It is where my sister has been going to school for the past 2 years. We walked up and down the mountain. We ate pizza. We watched little sister graduate (yay!) Then we walked up and down more mountains.

Then we went to Grenoble (going through Milan by necessity (ick)):
Grenoble is in between some mountains (aka the Alps) and is where Mon Amour went to school for a semester 4 years ago. While there we walked a million miles. We saw Mon Amour's industrial looking campus and dorm room. We also ate crepes (yum)

Then we went back to Milan (ick ick ick)
But only so that we could do a day trip to the only city worth seeing in Italy (aka Venice):
There we walked around lots. We found the funny little hotel where little sister and I stayed on our trip to Venice 3 years ago. We ate at a restaurant along the canal.

Then we came back to Milan (ick) which made us quite content to fly home the next day.

The End.

Details to follow.


So, I feel this weird bond to my blog, such that I feel obligated to tell you A) why I have been kind of absent from blogging, and B) why I am going to continue to be absent. It is mostly the same reason:


I am very excited.

In preparation, I have been working ridiculous hours, not from home which makes for a super long commute. Couple that with the fact that Mon Amour was wrapping up his ridiculous semester, so there
was much paper editting that needed doing. And poor Marge is love-deprived, so every spare moment I have been trying to love on her. Well, the semester is over, I am done with work for now, and Marge is at her favorite dog-siiters. Vacation here we come!!

So, I might blog while I am away....but I am not going to promise anything. So, don't hold your breath. There will be some sweet blog posts come the beginning of June though when normal life sets back in.


In other news that must be blogged about before this official hiatus sets in.
Mon Amour finished his semester - yay!

The first thing we do once all the papers are turned in is cut and paste all his papers into one document, double space them all, given them some standard margins, to assess exactly how much work he actually did.

The grand total for this semester:
346 pages.

No wonder I never saw him this semester.
He should become a novelist or something.

In celebration, we went to the local convenience store (read: very expensive gas station with a mini mart) and splurged on this:

A pint of cotton candy ice cream, and our candy bars of choice (read: a TON of calories)

We ate all of it in one night.
It was amazing.
Sooooo much sugar.

The alternate option was wine.....I think that the surplus of sugar was a far superior choice to a surplus of wine.


Anyway, bye for now. I shall be back in a few weeks.

Happy to Rent

One day, Mon Amour and I hope to buy a house.
When we do, it is distinctly possible it will have just as much "character" as our current rented house. The difference will be, that the "character" that requires attention, will be much less entertaining.

Our bathroom is the smallest room in the house, and yet definitely has the most "character". Its character includes:
  • It is the smallest bathroom I have ever seen
  • Such that it has no bathtub (there is not space)
  • The doorframe is a mere 5'8" ish tall
  • And it leaks:

This is a picture of our bathroom wall and ceiling after the recent spring rain.
Thats a bubble of water that has build up behind the paint. You can pop it with a pin and it will all come oozing out.

Fortunately, we rent. So we call the landlord. And they will come fix it.

However, they have been trying to fix this problem since we moved in. There are so many spots on the wall where they paint has been pulled off the wall by the water. They have patched, and patched and patched again. And still it leaks.

Secretly, I am kind of hoping the whole bathroom caves in. If our tiny bathroom collapses, they would have to build us a new one, right? Maybe? Possibly...
Perhaps this time they could make it big enough for a bathtub, or at least a sink with a little counter space around it.


There are often exciting wildlife adventures that take place here on the farm.
Between the deer, the bald eagles, the foxes and the countless rabbits, the birds in the chimney there is never a dull moment.

But, I think my favorite was last fall, when Marge and I encountered* a bear.
*I use the word encountered in the broadest possible sense. "saw" would probably be more accurate

Marge and I were going for our routine evening walk, and I was talking with my mom on the phone.

It had already been an adventurous walk - Marge had caught a sniff of something and gone absolutely crazy! She ran circles around me such that the leash got tangled; I dropped the phone, and it took quite some time to grab the dog who was still going crazy; Marge snapped at me with her teeth, so I smacked her jaw, which, much to my shock and horror, set off a small fountain of blood.
So now my mom thinks I've been kidnapped cause the phone is still on the ground and she keeps saying "are you there? hello? are you there?" And I think that I have murdered, or at least severely abused, my puppy. It was a rather distressing moment.

But, it turns out Marge was just loosing her baby teeth - and my firm, but not abusive smack, had knocked a loose one out. So, lots of blood, but not an equivalent amount of pain. I picked up the phone, and continued talking to mom as we headed back to the house to get cleaned up.

Before we got there, and not 2 minutes after the first incident, I looked out across the field (we'll say about 100 yards away), and saw a very large black creature.

My first thought: "A cow?"
No, legs are too fat, and its not walking like a cow.

Second thought: "Really big beaver?"
No, definitely not. Unless it is Mr. Beaver himself from the original Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe movie. So no.

Third Thought: "A bear"
yup. that's what it was. no denying it in my mind.

Then I did one of the most thoughtless things I have ever done in the entire history of my relationship with my mother.

"Mom" I said, "I need to hang up, I see a bear, and I need to pick up my puppy and get back to my house now"
"What! No, don't hang up, stay on the phone" Mom said in the greatest distress.
"No, I am hanging up, cause I need both hands so that I can pick up my dog." Click.

Yeah, that's the kind of speech that will give caring mothers every where a heart attack. Why didn't I say something like "Oh, Mom, someone is calling on the other line, let me call you right back". That is the kind of innocent lie you tell in such situations in order to save you mother's heart from unnecessary stress. I was not that considerate.

I hung up. Grabbed my dog (whose mouth was still bleeding a bit), and hurried frantically (no I didn't run, I know your not supposed to) back to my little house. The bear, I believe, never noticed us, and just ambled across the open field and into some corn.

I walked into the house with puppy in my arms, blood on my hands, and a look of mild terror on my face.

Mon Amour was on the phone with someone else, and was unphased. Nice.

Mom believed me when I said it was a bear. I think the friends I told were skeptical. (Bears don't actually live in my area of the country). Mon Amour definitely didn't believe me. He liked the escaped cow theory.

But, then the local news reports started. Bear sightings here and there throughout the county. The first sighting was like a day after I saw the bear. I like to think that its first appearance in this area was on our farm.

It's last appearance, very recently, was actually in the town where we used to live, about 25 miles south of here. Experts kind of hoped the bear would wander back up north where it came from, but it didn't, and when it wandered into a very urban area they had to capture it.

They are shipping him off to a more bear-friendly part of the state.
I can't say that I will miss him. But I am glad that they found him, cause otherwise no one would ever have believed that I saw a bear in this county.

April Groceries - Abridged

Last month was a fairly decent month for the grocery budget.

Actually, I got a LOT of really good deals on things. I don't feel like going through all the details, but I shall just share with you my last trip of the month. It was a little one, but well worth the trip!

Total Retail Cost of the above groceries: $35.76
Amount that I paid: $7.98

I had coupons for everything except the milk. And most of the items were actually free. The details go like this:
Milk: $3.50 (yes, I can get it for cheaper elsewhere, but it was a convenience thing)
Yogurt: 30 cents each
Cereal: 49 cents a box
Rice Snacks: Free
Sour Cream: Free
Bread: Free

The best part, they were out of one of the cereals that I had a coupon for....and I happened to be shopping with Mon Amour, and he was brave enough to ask if they had one in the back. They didn't, but they did have a bigger box (which was not on sale, and should have been must more expensive) and they told us they would honor the sale price for the bigger box. Yay!
The morale of that story: it never hurts to ask.

Overall, we ended up going over budget by about $2. But mostly because we were frivolous with the eating out. We ate dinner out once, breakfast out once, Mon Amour bought lunch instead of having left overs a couple times, etc.

But, considering all that, I am satisfied with our not-even-$2 overage.

Continuous Shooting

About half way through the wedding, I remembered that our camera has this super cool Continuous Shot function. Which means that you hold down the picture taking button, and it will take a series of pictures in rapid succession so that you don't have to worry about timing the photo for the perfect shot. Just take of them will end up being good. Right?

Well, the other good thing about this feature is that when you are no good at using the flash appropriately, you can just hold down the picture taking button, and wait for someone else's flash. And at a wedding, someone's flash is pretty much guaranteed to go off from time to time.

As a result of remembering this function, I proceeded to take quite a few series of pictures. Most of the picture are quite dark, and grainy, but occasionally someone's flash will go off, and I will get a good picture.

The following slide show is merely a sample. Its not hugely interesting - but it shows of the story-telling capability of this Continuous Shot function, and I think there is one picture in which someone let me borrow their flash :-)

Turn up the speed on how fast the pictures scroll, and enjoy.

Regrets? Or just cool ideas?

At this wedding we attended, we got to talking about different kinds of weddings. The one we were at, of course, being very different than Mon Amour's and my own. (Ours was a picnic, no dancing, no cake cutting, just a good time. But more on that some other time)

I asked the question of Mon Amour and of myself, if we could do it over, and money was no object, would we do it differently?

Would I want the beautiful venue?

And the spectacular view? (despite the clouds)

The answer was decisively (overall) no.
Though a nice venue and beautiful view are quite nice, don't get me wrong.
We loved our wedding. It was wonderfully "us".

That said, there were some super cute ideas at this wedding that, were I to be presently planning a wedding, I would probably consider imitating.

Chocolate Favors
With custom made stickers on the bottom with a cute picture, your initials, and the date on them. Obviously they aren't going to last, but for the moment, tis very cute. And probably cheaper than having Hershey customize that little tab thing (which, I am told they can do)

This, was super cool!
A non-traditional "guest book"!
In this case, oars (remember the Nautical theme?) that you could sign with a permanent marker. Really, what are you going to do with a silly white fluffy traditional guest book? Nothing. Trust me. But at the same time, its really cool to have guests sign something so that you knew they were there. So why not have them sign something cool that you can display!

Something I would NOT recommended:
An "Ace of Cakes" groom's cake.
Is it really worth the $1,500 ++++++ (i.e. $1,500 is the bare minimum starting fee for one of these cakes. Trust me, I have gotten a quote. They are very pompous, very pricey, and ridiculous to work with.) to have a plastic-looking (though I guess it was real icing) replica of the groom's work truck as a grooms cake that never even got cut for eating?
I mean, seriously, how good would the cake have to be to make it worth that much money?

In summary, even at fancy weddings, cute economical short cuts are often the best way to go.

More later about some of the fun functions of our super sweet camera and how they came in handy at this wedding.

I love Weddings

After almost 2 years of engagement, my co-worker officially got married this weekend!
It was a lovely time. And Mon Amour and I took tons of pictures. I will post more details later. But for now, I few highlights from the (15 minute) ceremony.

Note: This picture was not upside down / sideways when I uploaded it. I don't know what happen. Weird.

The wedding was Nautical Themed

This is probably my favorite part of weddings.

Yes, she is much shorter than he. Like a foot and a half shorter :-)

For this particular ceremony though, this:

was my favorite part.
The ring bearer was terrified. The cute little smile you see in the picture kept morphing into a terrified I-am-going-to-cry-and-run-away kind of face. It was adorable, poor thing. It's a good thing that the aisle was short and that he had a cousins hand to hold.