littlereview: (photos)
Our Never )

I took Thursday off from everything except goofing off with Cheryl! Though we had a near-crisis when we got home from picking up lunch at Lebanese Taverna and discovered three separate screw-ups (grape leaves never even included in the order, plain hummus missing, hummus with veggies replaced by hummus with meat that neither of us eats), then were told when I called that they had no record of the transaction even though I had an order number and credit card receipt, took dropping the name of the marketing director to get the manager to stop jerking me around. Meanwhile Cheryl and I were watching Rough Magic, in which Bridget Fonda is fun, Russell Crowe is awesome, and the storyline is total crack, and Flushed Away, which Cheryl had never seen and Hugh Jackman as a rat who sings and parodies Disney is really a must-see.

Paul came home just as the second movie was ending, after which we all went to take a walk in Cabin John Park at Locust Grove to see the changing leaves whose peak we mostly missed while we were in Los Angeles. On the way home, we stopped at the produce stand near my house to get a pumpkin, whose season we also mostly missed -- they only had the huge $16-$20 ones left (the food store yesterday only had the tiny $8-$10 ones left, and we had no time to get to an orchard before tomorrow). Then we all watched the Carrey-Oldman-Firth A Christmas Carol (wrong season, I know, but it has ghosts) before Cheryl had to go. After a quick dinner, Paul and I watched Gracepoint and rejoiced over the return of Elementary, though I must admit I liked the villain in the premiere better than the new regular.


Cabin John Fall )
littlereview: (get critical)
Self-Portrait as Letter Addressed to Self )

It has been an exhausting day of chores, or maybe I was already exhausted so the chores seemed more onerous than usual. The laundry is not done, but at least everything but the camera cables are unpacked. Paul worked from home, so we could go to the library and food store and liquor store together. Because I have not had enough stress this week, another of my family members was having a medical procedure that ended up being more complicated than originally thought so I got to worry about that too.

We had a coupon for a free pizza from the new Blaze Pizza in the mall, so we tried that for the first time and it immediately became our new favorite local pizza place. Then we watched the Sleepy Hollow episode we missed, one of the show's best (Spider-Man jokes! Daniel Boone jokes! Halo jokes!) and tonight's Nashville before catching the end of the World Series. David and his kids were rooting for the Giants since Molly was from San Francisco and had the same initials as Madison Bumgarner, so I am happy for them.


Zuma Beach )
littlereview: (photos)
We spent all day Tuesday getting home from California, which required waking up at 5:30 a.m. so we could grab some breakfast before picking up Paul's parents from their hotel. By complete coincidence, we were on the same flight home, sitting two rows apart -- we hadn't even known which airline they were flying when we got our tickets, let alone what time. Of course we spent a ridiculous amount of time on the freeway getting to the airport, but once we returned our rental and found our gate, we got to relax and track down some snacks.

For all the stress of this week, we had a great experience with United -- everything ran smoothly and on time. Once again we ate picnic food on the plane, the hummus and cheese boxes, and since we couldn't figure out where the flash drive was, we watched The King's Speech, the one movie that is on both my computers and my tablet. We drove Paul's parents to our house, from which friends of theirs picked them up to drive to Hanover, and I postponed unpacking to watch Agents of SHIELD and Forever because I needed some mindless pleasure.


LAX to IAD )
littlereview: (jewitch)
I am preparing to leave California with the same wild mood swings that have characterized this entire week -- I want to stay, I want to make sure David and his kids are okay, I want to see the relatives I didn't manage to catch up with, I want a little more time in this stunning landscape to be able to enjoy it without finding it so sad. And at the same time I want to go home and hug my cats and talk to my kids and sleep in my own bed and get my own life in order.

We laid Molly to rest this morning after a brief service that was more formal than any other burial I've attended -- with my grandparents and people of their generation, it was less religious, more focused on the person to whom we were saying goodbye, though maybe that would have been harder for the children today. She is in a beautiful place full of trees and birds, facing the mountains. Her devout parents seemed the least shattered by it. I didn't know whether to be awed or jealous.

The kids seemed almost urgently to need toys and video games and normalcy afterward. Most of the people at the interment came back to the house for lunch, and afterward, while David's younger brother was leaving for the airport, we took him and the two boys to take care of a bunch of chores, including a trip to Walmart to look for Halloween costumes that turned into a protracted hunt for specific Legos. I feel like reality will only hit them in weeks or months when it's had time to sink in.

We had a quiet dinner during which [profile] apaulled and his father and brother half-watched the Washington-Dallas game while the rest of us did some research online about Kindle issues -- we got them a couple of games to put on the Kindle Fire but they don't work exactly the same way as on the iPhone, which was nearly a source of strife till we straightened it out. Eventually we had to say goodbye to them. By utter coincidence, my in-laws are on the same flight home as we are.


Morning and Evening )
littlereview: (green little review)
It has been another day of the wildest ups and downs I could imagine. We didn't sleep very well, so we were up very early, and since the family had agreed to meet for lunch around 11, after breakfast Paul and I drove through the Santa Monica Mountains to the beach. I hadn't realized how close we were, and I am told we drove right past where several celebrities live, but the only thing I wanted was to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean for a few minutes. Because it's so close to the new moon, the tides are quite high, and the waves at Zuma Beach were beautiful -- big white caps with rainbows arcing in their spray. Since it was Sunday and I'm told less-than-ideal surfing conditions, it wasn't at all crowded; we were able to park easily at the free county beach instead of the state park at Point Dume, and at one point one of the trucks parked parallel to the beach started blasting Kansas's "Dust in the Wind," possibly the most appropriate incidental song ever to my state of mind at a particular moment. The temperature was in the 70s, the sky painfully blue.


Pacific )


We drove back through the mountains, stopping at a couple of lookout points to see the canyons and high rocks, to Agoura Hills where we met up with David's family, the younger members of whom I pleased greatly by giving them my Kindle Fire, which I pretty much never use since I have a Paperwhite and an ASUS transformer book. We drove into the Valley to the vegetarian market and restaurant Follow Your Heart, one of Molly's favorite restaurants (the last place I ever saw her), where we had a big family brunch courtesy Molly's parents and Paul and Dave's parents. Then we came back to Dave's house so the kids could get ready to go out with friends while Paul and I took first Jon and Maddy to the food store, then Dave to the Apple Store to get a new cable for his computer. In the evening while they watched the World Series, we met Uncle Mickey and Lesley, who live in Castaic, at the mall in Thousand Oaks, where they took us to a lovely, relaxed dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Again, there were many happy moments where I forgot, then remembered.
littlereview: (jewitch)
Everything feels surreal right now -- the sky looks too blue to be real, the weather has been beyond beautiful (low 70s daytime, low 60s evening), we have eaten really well, we have gotten to see several of my favorite people in the world, and it's still almost unbearably sad to be here. We spent most of the day with Paul's family at David's house with a couple of runs out to the food store to get supplies and to get Starbucks. We had vegan pizza delivered from Fresh Brothers that was the best pizza I've had since Vince & Dominics closed. I got to spend a bit of time shopping with Dave's younger daughter, the only time we've ever been together without other adults around, she is lovely and witty, and I got to see many of the relatives and close friends of Dave's who came by the house to help with various chores and reminiscing and sharing photos.

I keep catching myself thinking wow, I should send Molly a Facebook message about things her kids showed me or things I learned from her dad's relatives that I never knew before. It's so frustrating to know that we will never have all these conversations about our family, so sad that she will never see the things her kids are doing. In the evening we drove to Northridge to have dinner with the Foleys in Northridge. I told Lynda that her family room is one of my happiest places in the world -- our family stayed with hers several times when we were in L.A. -- so after going out for Thai food, also excellent, we hung out at her house and talked about our kids and their assorted schools and jobs and entertainment we've shared past and present while her cats and parrot weighed us, measured us, and found us wanting (except when they wanted their bellies or ears rubbed, which was often).


Below the Hills )
littlereview: (green little review)
It has been a really complicated, exhausting day of wild ups and downs -- ups because I got to spend time with family whom I rarely get to see and to meet some amazing people and at moments forget exactly why I was here, downs because a few moments later I would remember, and nothing is ever going to make it seem less devastating or less than unfair to everyone. Molly was so young, she had so many things she wanted to do, she leaves a family who adored her and four kids trying so hard to make sense of her loss. In some ways the memorial was the easiest part -- I don't think I've ever been to a Catholic service that wasn't a wedding, the music was beautiful, most of my in-laws were participating, Molly's older daughter delivered a eulogy that didn't leave a dry eye in the church.

The reception had some lovely aspects too, since I got to see people I hadn't seen since Dave and Molly's wedding and meet many of their more recent friends, one of whom played guitar and others of whom provided the best vegan food I've had since I ate in their restaurant. Again, I would forget for a few seconds why we were all there and think how nice it was to be among all those amazing people, and then remember. Always at funerals I think how much the person not there would have loved it, but that feeling was so acute, with her sons alternating between distracting themselves and being inconsolable. We rented a mini-van, so we drove the family home, then I had a couple of nice hours having dinner at the home of my cousin Felicia and Jason and their boys along with Aunt Carol and Jeffrey.


Cousins )
littlereview: (jewitch)
We're in Thousand Oaks near Agoura Hills after a long day of travel -- not a bad day, the flight wasn't crowded and went smoothly, we ate the vegetarian cheese and hummus boxes which were pretty good (like having a picnic on a plane), watched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy since I had it on my laptop, got our luggage almost immediately after we got off the plane...it's just really sad to be out here for the reason we are, and to see so many people I am really happy to see only so upset about the circumstances.

We went straight from the airport to Paul's brother David's house with a quick stop for fruit drinks for them and for us. Their parents had already arrived and his youngest brother Jon arrived within the hour. My nephews were there already; my nieces had gone out to shop for food for the reception after the memorial service and arrived a bit later. I really didn't take photos, but here are a couple of the view out the plane window approaching L.A. and the view driving into the San Fernando Valley:


Three Lakes Animals )
littlereview: (jewitch)
May the God of Surprises Delight You )

I had a couple of fun hours on Wednesday to bolster me for the rest of the week. We picked up Adam in College Park, took him to Chipotle for lunch, then took him to the orthopedist for the last check-up for his no-longer-broken arm, at which he was given the go-ahead to play volleyball (not that not having the go-ahead stopped him from doing so the past few weeks). Before taking him back, we stopped at the bank so he could see about getting a credit card. It was not a long visit but it was nice to see him.

We spent the rest of the day getting ready to go to my sister-in-law's funeral on the west coast, which involved some shopping, getting haircuts, coordinating with my house-and-catsitter, parents, and neighbors (who are still dealing with the fallen tree), folding laundry, and packing. I expect to be scarce online for the next few days. Here are some photos from the nature center at Three Lakes Park in Richmond from the weekend before last, including the fish outside seen from the underwater viewing area.


Three Lakes Animals )
littlereview: (photos)
The Bride Tree Can't Be Read )

I am useless as a blogger this week, we spent today waiting for information that we finally got in the evening about funeral arrangements, now we are working on plane tickets and places to stay and making sure our house-and-catsitter is available. Fall leaves were lovely, we had a thunderstorm. Despite being an AL fan, I am glad the Giants won, because I read an article that said if the Giants win it will help the Democrats in the election, and it's way more important to me that the Republicans lose than that the Giants do.

We also watched Agents of SHIELD, which I guess was okay -- not as good as May Kicks Ass last week, but it's possible if I had seen that one tonight that I'd have been too distracted to appreciate it anyway. Forever was pretty mediocre despite a good guest cast, first time I've felt that way (comic books often make fans murderers! oh wait, and bad mothers often make their sons murderers!). Some nice calm photos from last July of Pride of Baltimore II visiting Piscataway Park, with Mount Vernon in the distance:


Pride in Piscataway )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Dear Bryan Wynter )

I had a Monday that consisted entirely of chores and just spent half an hour on the phone with Paul's brother David, so it's all a blur and I am completely out of sorts. He is waiting for my in-laws to arrive to plan the memorial service for Molly, so I am not sure when it will be or when we will be traveling. The company for which he is a vegan chef, Beyond Meat, has been incredibly supportive of him and his children, and it sounds like he and Molly have a great group of friends who have been wonderful.

The weather was beautiful, at least, and I did get to enjoy it both while out walking and while out talking to the neighbors about the fallen tree affecting three of our homes. We watched Gotham, which I've gone from not really liking to largely disliking, and Sleepy Hollow, which I always enjoy, but I couldn't really concentrate on either. Here are the residents at Caprikorn Farm whom I got to feed on the farm tour yesterday, though older son opted out of being climbed on by goat hooves:


Hungry Goats )
littlereview: (Default)
If I thought my Saturday was up-and-down with the tree falling, I don't even know how to describe my Sunday except as an absolutely awful day with a few minutes during which we forgot how awful things were. Someone very close to us died very suddenly, leaving young children and a distraught spouse and family, and I don't want to say more because I'm not sure whether all of this person's long-distance relatives know.

Since there wasn't much we could do from here, we went to Frederick County, which has stunning fall leaves in the state parks and was having its annual farm festival. We saw lots of Civil War sites as well as cows, goats, alpacas, chickens, pigs, donkeys, sheep and other animals, plus lots of pumpkins, Halloween decorations, and Middletown's famous scarecrow competition. Here are a few calming photos:


Around South Mountain )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Love )

I had a very strange, up-and-down Saturday. We had a quiet morning during which I tried to sort the bazillion photos I took at the zoo in Richmond on Friday, then we went out to lunch with my parents so they could see Daniel while he's home. While we were at the diner -- which I swear must be my bad-luck diner, since a lamppost once fell on my (new) van while I was there -- a tree in the common area of our neighborhood fell across our neighbor's backyard and crashed into ours. We were very lucky in that it mostly missed the (new) deck, but we were told by the neighborhood association that we're responsible for all damage and clean-up on our property...and our insurance company estimates that it could be $2000.

Since there wasn't anything we could do about the tree apart from cutting off the big branch pressing against the deck and sweeping the smaller branches and leaves off the deck, we went to Meadowside Nature Center in Rock Creek Park to enjoy the beautiful weather. Then we met [personal profile] vertigo66 and her family at her house, hung out for a while, and went to Tara Thai together for dinner, because green curry also improves nearly everything. It was very crowded and took a while for us to be seated and served, so we didn't get home till nearly 10 p.m., at which point we watched the Graham Norton Show with John Cleese and Taylor Swift before catching the late rerun of a moderately enjoyable Clara-centric Doctor Who.


Autumn in the Park )
littlereview: (photos)
Giraffes )

We spent a lovely day in Richmond, where there wasn't a cloud in the sky. After dropping Daniel off at Capital One's beautiful wooded campus, we went to the Metro Richmond Zoo, which was bigger than we expected and had many animals not in DC and Baltimore, including several endangered monkeys, lots of African and Asian mammals, and several baby giraffes and cheetahs. There's a tram ride through the African plains exhibit and a ski lift that loops over the entire zoo, both with great views, and visitors can feed several of the animals, including giraffes, camels, and parakeets!


Monkey )


We had plans to have dinner with Cheryl, but she had to work till early evening, so after Daniel was finished with his interviews, we went to the Pony Pasture Overlook on the James River to walk in the woods and along the water (see last photo above). There were geese, ducks, and cormorants in the water and lots of people walking dogs on the trails. Then we tracked down Cheryl at work and we all went to Mexico restaurant (again, since we all like it!) before driving home, where I belatedly remembered to post my review of Deep Space Nine's "Chrysalis" while watching the end of the Boise State game.
littlereview: (jewitch)
A Lane of Yellow Led the Eye )

We are taking older son to Richmond on Friday for a job interview -- technically we didn't have to go with him since they would have given him a train ticket, but we figured we'd go to parks and Civil War stuff and dinner with Cheryl, so we are driving him down. So I spent Thursday doing all the things I would otherwise have needed to get done Friday, like my DS9 review and folding laundry, before we went to pick up older son and drop off a package that came here for younger son.

Since younger son was too busy to have dinner with us, we came home and had ravioli with Dave's Gourmet butternut squash sauce which is the greatest pasta sauce ever (they make a masala marinara too that I have to try), then we watched this week's Gracepoint (which I must admit that I am enjoying, though I am really hoping they do NOT change the murderer from Broadchurch even if they change what happens to the central family -- it's too important in retrospect to so many other stories).


Monkey )
littlereview: (green little review)
The Rainbow )

It was a warm but miserable day in the DC area, with tornado warnings in three counties near me, including near College Park, and weather that alternated among steady rain, pouring down buckets, and raining so hard I had to get off the interstate because I couldn't see ten feet in front of me. The only bright spots were lunch with [personal profile] vertigo66 for her birthday at Tara Thai, where both the food and the company were very enjoyable -- we both had vegetarian pad see ew -- then a bit of shopping including a stop in Charming Charlie, where I used a coupon and the store's clearance sale to get a couple of bracelets for under a dollar. In late afternoon, my neighborhood finally got an actual bright spot, though you can see in the last photo how quickly the sun disappeared and it faded!


Five Minutes of Sun )


We watched Halloween specials, even though we own It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (uncut) on DVD and even though Toy Story of Terror is extremely derivative and not very fun apart from getting to hear most of the original voice actors reprise their roles (including Lori Alan, my high school classmate). Then we watched some of the Cardinals game to attempt to assuage our sadness over the Orioles loss to a team I will have to root for if the Giants make it to the World Series before Nashville, which is actually pretty good this season -- I like the music and the actresses, but sometimes it's very soapy, though I appreciate the handling of Juliette's pregnancy and discussions of Tennessee's onerous laws putting burdens on women seeking either abortions or adoption privacy.
littlereview: (Default)
Forth Into View, Random Warriors )

I had a very nice Tuesday -- chores in the morning, then lunch at Nordstrom Cafe with my friend Ellen, several hours of discussing mostly family and school stuff -- our older sons were in a baby group together, our younger children graduated from high school together -- with visits from my mother and her friend Margie, who also happened to be in the mall, and Anu, the mother of another of our younger childrens' classmates who was shopping when we left the cafe. I did no actual shopping in the mall!

It was a good TV night -- The Flash remains entertaining if quite retro, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did my absolute favorite episode with lots and lots of May and some lovely Coulson moments, and I absolutely adore Forever which makes me so sad that it's highly unlikely to get picked up, while the annoying Gotham just got a full season. And by trying not to jinx the Orioles by watching, I spared myself the horror of watching them lose. From Three Lakes Park in Richmond:


Early Fall )
littlereview: (get critical)
Off Lows, Weakness Remains: Meditation #3 )

I had a boatload-of-chores Monday of the sort where the laundry is not even folded yet, though I did manage to pick up an awesome freecycled cookie cutter (Welsh dragon!) and stop at the mall to get a card I had to mail immediately. I'm trying to decide what to do with all the young children's books in the house -- some of them it took us years to track down for our kids, what if someday we have grandkids who would like them? But I don't feel safe keeping them in the attic and there are other kids who could be enjoying them!

I went to the food store with Paul when he got home so he could make Navajo food for Columbus Day. After dinner we watched Gotham, which I actively disliked this week -- previously I had mostly been bored, but Evil Lesbians piss me off even more than Gratuitous Lesbians and it's darker than Dark City. All superhero shows should be more like Sleepy Hollow, which had a silly story tonight but was purely delightful anyway (Pride and Prejudice references! Ichabod driving!). Lewis Ginter butterflies:


In the Conservatory )
littlereview: (jewitch)
Tanka Diary )

We are back late from a lovely day in Richmond with Cheryl! We had a bit of drizzle weather-wise, but didn't stop us from seeing the turtles, herons, ducks, egrets, and all the animals at the nature center amidst the changing leaves at Three Lakes Park. Plus we bumped into Cheryl's father, whom she had no idea was going to be there, since she had never been before.

Then we went to see the butterfly exhibit in the conservatory, plus the rose garden in full bloom and hundreds of other flowers (and a pair of red-shouldered hawks) at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. And we got Mexican food! And the Ravens had a great game even if we didn't watch any of it! More tomorrow when I am caught up from a busy and very fun weekend!


Richmond Nature )
littlereview: (jewitch)
For Rhoda )

It was a drizzly and rather chilly Saturday morning, but by noon the rain had stopped and it was turning into a lovely fall day. So we went on the Countryside Artisans fall tour, starting as we often do at Art of Fire, whose stock was sparse because much of the glass is on sale now at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Then we went to two pottery studios, Something Earthy, where we got a sea turtle sponge holder, and Niswander, where we got a garden toad, and finished at Dancing Leaf Farm, where in addition to the gorgeous yarn there was some gorgeous jewelry on sale!


Artist Studios )


On the way home we stopped to have a drink with my friend Louise, who is in town for our high school reunion, which took place tonight. None of my very best friends from high school -- either the local ones or the ones from out of town -- were going, so I chickened out as well, but it was wonderful to see her! Hopefully when she is next in the area for work, we can go do something cultural or enjoy the local scenery. The hotel bar had the great tragedy of the Orioles game on television; we got to see the end when we got home, and even this week's mediocre Doctor Who was less painful!

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