Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lovely Drizzly Saturday

It's 29 degrees cooler on my balcony than it was the last time I posted! Drizzy rain has set in this morning and the temperatures are much more bearable. Hope it lasts!

A drizzly gray Saturday is perfect for one of my favorite "lazy day" routines: Make a pot of good, strong coffee (my current favorite has chicory in it) and chill out in the recliner with my knitting and the remote control. Am I worried that (other than the progress I've made on my second Baby Surprise Jacket) it's been a fairly unproductive morning so far? Nope.

However, just in case guilt tries to slip in later, I plan to spend the rest of the day alternating a bit of household drudgery with my knitting and watching "Doctor Who". Mixing in a bit of fun stuff always helps make the housework a little easier to stand. :-)

Speaking of "Doctor Who", had I mentioned that my daughter got me started watching this? (Thanks, Kris!) Even though Doctor Who was first broadcast in 1963, I'd never seen it. I'm currently working my way through Season One of what I suppose you'd call the "rebirth" of Doctor Who. These episodes were filmed in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor. These scripts are entertaining and clever. And oh, how I do love clever writing!

I've nearly finished with Season One, then I move on to the shows that Kris really wanted me to see: the ones with David Tennant as The Doctor. I actually saw 3 of the Tennant episodes out of sequence a few weeks ago, because the SciFi channel happened to be running them. As much as I'm enjoying Christopher Eccleston, I have to say that David Tennant is excellent, too.

And so, I'm off to pour myself another cup of excellent coffee, have a bit of lunch, and get back to my housework/knitting/Doctor Who agenda.

Sometimes life is just great. :-)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

100 Degrees

As I'm writing this, it's 100 degrees on my deck. Not that I'd know that from being OUT there, mind you. That's the reading on my indoor/outdoor thermometer that I can monitor from the comfort of the desk in my bedroom. I've not been outdoors all day today. During the morning I was too busy with household drudgery (and, yes, little knitting. *LOL*), and by the time I'd done my chores, it was just too hot outside to inflict it on myself.

I was out most of yesterday, though. I got my grocery shopping done and filled the car with gas and was back home before the heat got bad. (More about filling the car with gas later.) Mom and Dad and I had a little day trip planned, so I was down at their house by 9:00. During a recent visit to Mann Farms over in Scott County, Virginia, Mom had bought some delicious corn relish. It had been made by a company called the Relish Barn in Rose Hill, Virginia. Mom had said that she'd like to visit the Relish Barn one day, and I'd told them that if they decided to go on a day I happened to be off work, I'd like to ride along with them.

So yesterday we headed for Rose Hill. Though it was a hot, steamy day, we were comfortable in the air conditioned vehicle, so it was a nice trip. From their house to Rose Hill is about an hour and a half, so I got it some good sock-knitting time during the ride. When we arrived in Rose Hill, we made a pass through the small town but saw no signs indicating the location of the Relish Barn. We'd brought along their telephone number from the label on the jar of corn relish, but we didn't have cellular service in that location.

Daddy stopped at a convenience store, and I went in to ask directions. Unfortunately, they weren't very good directions, so I asked Daddy to stop again at a market, where a very helpful gentleman gave me excellent directions that took us directly to the Relish Barn.

We were sad to learn, though, that the Relish Barn didn't appear to have any retail sales location onsite at all. It was just a small processing plant....the delicious aroma coming from the plant led us to believe that they were making chowchow that day. We were disappointed that we weren't able to buy any of their wares. I guess we'll just have to find another place to buy them close by or wait until the next time the folks are in the vicinity of Mann Farms.

We drove on to Cumberland Gap; it was getting to be lunch time, so we went to a wonderful place on Colwyn Street called Webb's Country Kitchen. We happened to arrive just before noon, so we just beat the lunch rush! Daddy had an open-faced roast beef sandwich, and Mom and I each had a reuben. The food was just delicious, and very reasonably priced. Judging from the crowd that came in just after we received our meals, it must be a pretty popular place! If you happen to be in that area around mealtime, I highly recommend it!

A funny thing happened on the way out of the restaurant. They have lots of old photos hanging on the walls, and one of the photographs looked so much like one of my elementary school pictures that it was startling! The owner was running the cash register at checkout, and I asked if she knew who the little girl was in the was the owner! The funny thing is that except for the fact that she had brown eyes I think I could have passed that photo off as myself to anyone who'd known me at that age.

We toured around Cumberland Gap for a good while, visiting a couple of antique shops and the historic iron furnace. It's a really neat place to spend a day if you're ever looking for a day trip destination.

The day was awfully hot and sticky, so it was a relief to ride back home in air conditioned comfort. Though it was a fun day, I was pretty tired when I got home, so other than the required housework, today's been a quiet day. Other than chores, the only thing I've done today is do some knitting (trying to finish up a pair of baby socks I started this week) and I cooked myself a pot of cranberry beans. I hadn't cooked any in awhile, and I've been craving them. Of all the dried beans available in our area, I think cranberry beans are my favorite.

Ah, I see by the indoor/outdoor themometer that it's now cooled off to 99 degrees. **SHEESH** No knitting on the balcony tonight, THAT's for sure!

Find a cool place, friends, and enjoy the rest of the weekend. :-)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In the Summertime When the Weather is High

If you've read my blog in the past, you know how much I love to go camping. When the weather is hot and muggy like it's been here in my corner of the world lately, there's nothing quite like pulling a lounge chair out under a big ol' tree and stretching out with a cold glass of tea, knitting in your lap, and a new audiobook on the Zune (Microsoft's version of the iPod).

And that, friends, is how I spent last weekend. It was just wonderful! I arrived at the campground around 8:30 Thursday morning, set up my tent and got everything placed inside. After a refreshing shower I was ready to relax. The weather was much cooler than in town, and my campsite was well shaded with big beautiful trees.

On Friday morning Mom and Dad came to visit me and took me to lunch at a little family-owned restaurant about 5 miles from the campground. They had slow-cooked baby back ribs which looked wonderful, and I had a hamburger steak with onions and green peppers. After a little ride through the countryside (Daddy always has to take "the road less traveled"....*LOL*), we went back to the campsite to visit awhile and enjoy the cooler fresh mountain air.

Later that afternoon as I lounged and knitted, campers began to arrive. The peace and quiet of the campground soon was broken by the shrieks and whoops of LOTS of small children. I quickly realized that the campers across from me and beside me were apparently all camping together. As nearly as I could tell, it appeared that at least four (if not five) of the sites were all sharing their camping experience for the weekend. When I say LOTS of small children, that's what I mean....LOTS. It was a little like trying to count minnows in a pond, but there must have been at least eight small children and five pre-teeners.

And they were loud. Oh, man, were they ever loud. Though I'd been knitting and enjoying birdsong, I soon gave up and plugged my Zune earbuds in to try to drown out the racket. Late that night, as the grownups and kids gathered around the campfire next door, yelling and laughing loudly until very, very late that night I found myself hoping that the weatherman was right in forecasting RAIN for the next day. That way, at least the noisy campers might have to stay inside, muffling the noise. How many tent campers do you know that hope for rain? *LOL*

As it happened, I got the rain I'd hoped for. I sat in the shelter of my tent with the door unzipped, knitting and watching the rain. It was very soothing and made me feel dozey and lazy. For lunch, I treated myself to a trip to a local legend, the Dip Dog Stand. I'd heard about Dip Dogs for years but had never had the opportunity to try one. The two items I'd heard the most about were the Dip Dog and their onion rings. So, that's what I ordered, and it was very good. Next time I think I'll skip the onion rings; they were really good, but I don't eat fried food very often so that was a little too much for me. Instead I'll order two Dip Dogs. What's a Dip Dog, you ask? Imagine a corn dog, but instead of the corn bread-type wrapping there's a delicious flour batter, deep-fried. The dog is served with mustard. When you bite into it, there's a satisfying crunch from the fried batter and the tangy taste of the mustard. It makes my mouth water a little to think about it. Maybe it's good that I don't live near the Dip Dog Stand. :-)

By the time I got back to the campground, the rain had subsided and I was able to sit outside in my lounge and knit and listen to more of my audiobooks. I finished "Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes" (a funny tale about three Southern belles seeking revenge against their cheating husbands) and started "The Lovely Bones". I know that movie took some criticism, but I actually liked it. I'm enjoying the book even more.

Though I usually retire very early while camping (or while not camping, for that matter), I didn't see any reason to go in until after dark, since the kids from the surrounding sites were out in force. As darkness fell and the other campers began to scatter to their respective sites, I went in the tent. On my way in, I ran my hand across the dry nylon and thought, "Oh good, everything's nice and dry, so I should be able to pack up pretty early tomorrow."

Wrong. Not fifteen minutes after I'd gone inside, I heard the distant rumble of thunder. The storm came quickly, bringing one of the worst lightning storms I've seen this season. Rain fell like water out of a bucket for awhile, then settled into a steady rainstorm that must have lasted a good while. I can't tell you when it stopped, because nothing lulls me to sleep quicker than the sound of rain on a tent. :-)

Sunday morning the trees were still dripping with the rain from the night before. The humidity level was really high, making it impossible to get the tent dried off enough to pack it up. Luckily, it didn't leak, so everything inside it (including me!) stayed nice and dry. As soon as I realized I wasn't going to be able to get the tent dry by the 2:00 pm checkout time, I packed the car, then rolled the tent and ground tarps up (wet....*ick*) into big trash bags so that I could haul them without having water puddle up in the car.

When I got everything into the car, I checked out and started home. When I got back to a cellphone signal (did I mention that cell phones do not get a signal in the campground? Just another bonus. *L*), I called Mom and Dad to ask if I could borrow a corner of their yard to pitch my tent to leave it up long enough to dry it out.

After I'd set it up and they put my ground tarps over their clothesline to dry, I made my way home, unpacked the rest of the things from the car, took a shower and collapsed into the recliner for the rest of the afternoon. As much as I love my camping weekends, it's always nice to get home again.

After work Monday I went to Mom and Dad's and retrieved my then-dry tent and tarps. As an apartment dweller, I'm especially grateful to them for allowing me to do that. It would be really difficult for me to get everything dried out by stretching it over shower rods and such!

And so ends another camping adventure. I finished knitting a pair of socks, listened to one whole audiobook and most of another one, met some really nice campers, tolerated some really noisy ones, and met lots of wonderful camper doggies. I enjoyed two relaxing thunderstorms, ate my first Dip Dog, and inadvertently fed a few mosquitoes.

All in all, a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mid-July??? ALREADY???

This month is just zipping right on by; seems just yesterday was the 4th of July. Or maybe it just seems that way because some people in my neighborhood celebrated with fireworks for DAYS after the holiday. *LOL*

We had some rain yesterday that cooled things off a bit, but today I drove to work in light fog and they're predicting mid-90's for this afternoon. *ICK* I hate to wish my summer away, but a nice, crisp fall day would be a lovely break from all this steamy heat. I keep telling myself, "Could be worse. You could be shoveling snow."

I miss being able to sit out on my balcony in the evenings after work. It's just too uncomfortable to sit out there right now. Instead I curl up in the recliner with knitting and the remote control and soak up air conditioning. I'm just not cut out for hot weather. Or cold weather. 70 degrees, that's my temperature! :-)

Work has been very, VERY busy, but that's job security, right? The good thing about really busy times at work is that it makes you look forward to the next break. Which I will spend in the woods again. *happy dance*

This will be a short entry because I'm writing during my lunch break, so if I don't get back to it beforehand, have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Long Weekends....and Paying For Them

I'm working a flex schedule this summer and am off on Fridays. So, this past weekend (because of Independence Day) was a 4-day weekend for me. Pretty neat, right?

And it WAS neat. I always enjoy having time away from the office. On Friday morning Daddy went to meet some old friends of his (in town for the holiday) at Hardee's over in Duffield. They met on the Friday before the 4th last year, too, and he really enjoyed it. So, since he was going to be away for a bit, Mom asked if I'd like to go shopping that morning.

We try to do that once while I'm off on Fridays during the summer. We go visit a few stores, have a "girlie" lunch, then head home. We used to "shop 'til we drop", but we drop quicker than we used to, so usually one morning is plenty for both of us. *LOL*

We hit a few stores, and when lunchtime rolled around I asked where she'd like to go. We go to places Daddy wouldn't normally care for, tearooms and the like. This time she asked to go to McAlister's Deli in Kingsport. The only time I'd been in there was to get a cold drink during an earlier shopping expedition, so I was happy to try their food. For ages I'd been craving a muffaletta, but didn't know of any place locally that made them. I was really happy to see that their lunch menu included a 1/4 muffaletta with a side for a very reasonable price. It....was...WONDERFUL! Not only was it a generous portion, but simply delectable! I chose a fruit salad for my side item which served as a dessert. The fruit was fresh, sweet, and delicious. Mom had a reuben which she said was wonderful as well. All in all a wonderful shopping/lunch trip!

Saturday I did a bit of household drudgery and rested up a bit from Friday's excursion. I didn't get much sleep that night. Seems that even though it's not legal to shoot fireworks in the city limits, several people were shooting them anyway. I don't begrudge anyone their fun, but DANG. You could knock it off after midnight, couldn't you?? (I am, admittedly, getting old and crabby. *LOL*)

Sunday I was invited to Mom and Dad's for a cookout. Yummy food and good company, as always. :-) That night there were still plenty of fireworks in the neighborhood, which went on until quite late. I guess I was really tired from losing sleep the night before, because it didn't keep me up too long.

Yesterday I knitted a bit (see my knitting blog), did a little laundry, and mostly just rested up for the return to the office today. *drudge, drudge* While knitting I watched most of "Band of Brothers". I've already seen it, but it's such a great series I wanted to watch again. I have it on my computer and need to burn it to DVD. Definitely a keeper!

Movies, movies....what have I seen lately? Mel Gibson's "Edge of Darkness"...dark, but good. "Amelia"...worth the time to watch it, but not as good as I'd hoped it would be. "The Road"! Bleak (which I expected, since the writer also wrote "No Country for Old Men"), but what performances! Now I want to read the book.

I've been watching some Netflix stuff through the Wii unit, too. I've been rewatching the first season of Saturday Night Live and wishing there was anything on television now to compare. I watched a campy little thing about the 50 worst movies ever made. Happily I'd only seen one of them. *LOL* I saw an interesting little documentary from 1975 called "Grey Gardens". I'd heard about this years ago, but never got around to seeing it. I found it intriguing and a little unnerving.

And so this morning, I returned to work. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that I have a good job, honestly. But boy oh boy did I have a rough day today. Our fiscal year ends on June 30, so there's all kinds of things that have to be done after July 1. That, mixed with the holiday, mixed with computer systems that apparently went bump in the night several times over the weekend, made for an interesting day.

I'm really glad to be home with a big ol' glass of iced tea. Hopefully it will be cool enough in a short while to sit out on the deck for awhile with my knitting.

Hope you all had a good weekend, too!