Sunday, August 16, 2009

Todd learning to pour his own Guinness at the Guinness Brewery.

One of the lovely things about Dublin was that it was an incredibly walkable city. One day, we took the longest walk, from our area which was just south of St Stephens Green to the Kilmainham area to hit both the Guinness Brewery and Kilmainham Goel. We were both pretty exhausted by the end of it, but we got to see some interesting buildings.

A colorful door in Georgian Dublin. There were so many lovely colors around, I was tempted to take a picture of all of them!

Live music in the courtyard of O'Donoghues Bar in Dublin

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Next stop: Dublin!
Here are photos of our first Guinness pints, these from O'Donoguhes pub, recommended by Bryan and Desiree, who used to live in Dublin.

Crossing the street in London was sometimes a challenge for me since I constantly had to remind myself in which direction traffic was coming from. It was the signs that told you in which way to look that were so helpful. Though, as my Londoner friend, Erica, noted: if you don't read English, well, you're screwed.

Todd at Hyde Park, London, the broad walk

Todd with the awesome rhino at the V&A Museum

View from the South Bank, London

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Another amazing room at the V&A

Another beautiful chandelier in the V&A.

The chandelier at the main entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum (or the V&A). I adored this museum. It honestly may be one of my favorites that I've ever been in. It was a collection of neat *stuff.* Entire giant rooms dedicated to ironwork, ceramics, sculpture, photography, fashion, etc. I want to go back since it was giant and we only really scratched the surface of all of the stuff.

We did one of those hop-on/hop-off double decker bus tours on the Friday after we arrived, which was actually a pretty efficient way to see the 'main sights' of the city. So we managed to drive by Buckingham Palace, Westminister Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben without actually having to stand and walk in front of them. We did stop off at the Tower of London, though, which was huge and full of intrigue. Our tour guide who led an enormous group of us around the place was well-practiced in his speech and was a little hammy, and delivered on grisly details on executions, thank you very much. And there were a lot. I particularly liked the fat, giant ravens that wandered around the grounds. The myth goes that if the ravens leave, then the Tower falls. I found out later that their wings are clipped.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The bars in London, which closed surprisingly early. I loved the hordes of people gathering outside each of the bars, drinking their pints.

Thames River


First dinner of fish and chips and a pint of Guinness
Summer Vacation Report
So Todd and I returned from a week in London and Dublin last Wednesday. It was a pretty terrific week, mainly because both cities were pretty interesting and/or spectacular. Both cities were also extremely, extremely pricey. We didn't really shop, so most of our money spent was on food in restaurants. During the entire week, we ate at what I think are two really good, delicious restaurants frequented by actual locals, but the rest of the time we were relegated to touristy places due to our locations.

Mainly what struck me was how much history and age everything had. Hundreds and hundreds of years. You forget what it's like, living in the States.

I'll try to recapture the vacation to the best of my abilities here, mainly for my own recollection since I seriously doubt anyone is reading this blog anymore.

We left Chicago in the afternoon of a Wednesday and arrived in London on the afternoon of a Thursday. Pretty much one day was erased in travel. I do have to say that Northwest/Delta was a pleasant ride mainly due to personalized video screens with lots and lots of variety or recent movies to watch for free at your own discretion ("The Wrestler," "Sunshine Cleaning," "I Love You Man" among others.
Once we arrived, we took the London tube to the hotel, which was a tiny (cozy) place with excellent location. We were pretty zombie-like at that point, but managed only a nap before surging forth on the city, and wandered around Picadilly Circus and the chichi Mayfair neighborhood. Stopped for dinner and ate our first and last fish and chips of the trip.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Long Time, No Write
I have been horribly and pathetically errant about this blog. I am sorry to say that with my use of Facebook, my inclination to blog is much less. I don't really like that, since it also means less writing. I wrote a lot of letters in high school and college, and then I wrote a lot of emails post college, and then I wrote a lot of blogs in grad school and now I don't write crap. And it sucks. So I'm rediscovering the blog!

More later, because Todd and I are talking getting sandwiches at the delicious Brown Sack and then hanging out at Montrose Harbor at the lake. Fun stuff!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I just found this year's winner of the animated short from the Oscars online ("Le Maison en Petits Cubes") and it was totally lovely and made me shed a tear or two.
I love the Internet.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hello! I know that's it's been awhile since I've written on here. I've been lazy, I guess. I think that I'm mostly driven to write on this blog when I want to write at length about something I've read or watched and want to blather a bit (rather than a one-line Facebook status).

I've watched most of the 8-episode documentary "The Staircase" today, which follows the trial of a man accused of killing his wife. The defense says that she fell down a staircase and the prosecution says that he killed her in a rage after she discovered that he led a bisexual lifestyle. What's amazing is how much access everyone granted the documentary crew (the same guy who made "Murder on a Sunday Morning") so you can see the planning, the sometime machinations, and the anguish of the family and both sides (although one side more than another). I'm on episode 7 of the series as I write this, and I have already read a few articles in which I found out the final verdict. I have to admit I felt a little devastated once I found out, since it's tough to come out of the movie not rooting a certain way.

There's also some Nancy Grace footage of her covering the case in this series, and settles the idea in my head that she is a total, sensationalistic waste of space.

So, anyway, this series is pretty amazing and full of twist and turns. It's also incredibly heavy and not a little stressful. But, well worth the six hours of investment.

Okay...this is an add-on after I finished the series. Brutal ending and I sobbed. I still recommend it strongly, though.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

C'est Bien
I just re-watched "To Be and To Have" again, a documentary about a one-room schoolhouse in France. I love it. It's quiet, and slow, and safe and comforting and it highlights the talents of an excellent teacher. He's calm, and reassuring, and caring and is my idea of how the ideal teacher should conduct himself. I really, really adore this movie so I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Holy Jeebus it's cold outside. Today it was a high of -5 degrees, with a windchill that was even lower. It was -10 when I left the house this morning. That is ABSURD.

One of the special ed teachers I work with told me that, interestingly, more kids are absent during really cold weather than during snowstorms. None of the kids I service have been absent these last couple of days, so I didn't really observe this trend. This bit me in the ass today. I didn't call ahead to a school where I scheduled an afternoon evaluation to even check to see if the targeted kid was there. I rushed all of my usual Thursday kids into a condensed period of time so I could take off and head to this other school at the end of the day. Struggle, struggle, struggle: putting on layers, getting out of the parking lot, driving, finding parking and getting to the other school, stripping off layers. Come to find out that the one kid I was scheduled to evaluate was absent. I was annoyed. I then crankily hauled myself back to my regular school so I could use the time to do paperwork and get stuff done.

The extreme cold weather is really interesting in that it's kind of exhausting. First of all, all of the snow makes driving around the city and parking more of a challenge (this is the first city I've seen where people place chairs in the spots that they shoveled out...street parking spots). So, a normal trip to the grocery store or work or the gym is a real challenge. You have to layer up lots and then hope to find a spot.

Speaking of the gym, lately it's been a bear as well. It's that post New Year effect, but it's packed all the time! Pre-holidays, I arrived at 3 and it was relatively empty. Now, there are people lined up for the treadmills at 3:30. I book it to the gym when work ends so I don't have to wait for a machine. I love getting home at 4:30, feeding the cats, and collapsing fully on the couch.

So, yeah, I still love Chicago. This weather, though? Not so much.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's snowing and snowing and snowing outside today. I haven't changed out of my pajamas, although I have managed to change sheets, put away clothes and have a shower. We might venture out to the grocery store at some point soon, here, but it looks like the snow's all piled up and getting to where you want to go with take a while.

This is my Hef. When he first arrived in April, he might clamber onto your lap for a minute or so before taking off to greener pastures. Now he is a tried and true lap cat, and climbs into your lap at first opportunity and is there to stay. He's so pliable too: when you pick him up, there's no tension in his body and he lets you huggle and snuggle him as much as you want while emitting a low-grade purr.

I love Todd's face in this picture. Detective allows us to pick him up for about 10 seconds before he begins squirming now. When we got him back in June, he wouldn't even let us put our hands around him belly.

Look at Detective! He's such a fatty.

Madeline and Patrick's first dance

Christie and me

Robin holding Emmet. This was before he scared him and made him cry.

I got to see Christie, Stefan, and one of my favorite babies, Emmet, again.

Madeline and Pauline

Madeline, just after getting changed into her dress.
Madeline's Wedding was last weekend on January 3 in Charlottesville. They had their ceremony at the UVA Chapel and their reception at the alumni hall. It was another sunny and lovely day, and an excellent time. Madeline had her dress made and it was pretty amazing and she was a beaming and radiant bride.

We stayed in a cheapo room at the Red Roof Inn which had ideal location (pretty much on campus and walking distance to everything), but was lacking in other areas. On Friday night the fire alarm went off twice at two in the morning. After working in schools, I pretty much threw on a coat and shoes and hustled out the door. Totally a false alarm, though, and the woman at the front desk wouldn't even get off her phone call to tell all the people gathered in the lobby (in various states of disarrary)so. Lame.

The day after the wedding, Robin, Todd and I walked over to this awesome little sandwich place for lunch. Robin and Todd had already tried food at this place called the White Spot where Robin had eaten a grilled-wich, or something like that. It was a dessert made of 2 buttered and fried Krispie Kreems and vanilla ice cream. This was after they had dined on double burgers with fried eggs on top. Pretty impressive.

Anne celebrating being newly wed with some of her favorite champers

The bride and groom!
First things, first: My Anne's Wedding
Lots to catch up on: two weddings, winter vacation, the holidays and now back at work.
Anne’s wedding was on December 13th in Virginia. I flew into the area on Thursday night and met Anne Friday morning for manis and pedis (as you do). It was a real treat, actually, since I had Anne to myself most of the day, so we puttered and ran errands, had lunch, and checked into the hotel before the rehearsal. The day of the wedding was crisp, sunny, and lovely. We hustled out of the hotel early in the morning for hair and the rest of the day was a blur. Anne looked stunning and Nathaniel looked regal. I am so happy for them, and couldn’t think of a better match. I did a shite job of taking pictures, and wish that I remembered to pull out my camera more.