Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes vacation is harder than real life

So hubby and I have returned from our lovely vacation in Hilton Head. I did have internet access, but why would I wish to update my blog/Twitter/FB when I have the beach to appreciate? However, that DOES make it difficult to describe the trials & tribulations of vacation all in one post. Let's give it a go, shall we? "Concise" is my middle name's middle name.
The island itself is quite beautiful but all week, there was something nagging me that prevented me from loving Hilton Head as much as those people that put the HHI sticker on their cars. (Some stores give them away for free so I highly doubt everyone loves HHI enough, not even enough to buy the sticker!). It wasn't until our 5th day there that I realized, unless I am in my condo on the porch or on the beach itself, I can never see the beach! It's all trees and other houses, not even any restaurants capitalize on their location to provide guests with the opportunity to dine on the beach (I didn't find any). What's the point in going to the beach if I can't see it? OCMD has its drawbacks but at least I can see the beach, smell it, hear the seagulls. There were even very few birds where we were. Very relaxing I will admit, but just lacking something essential for me to wish to return.
Savannah, however, is a city that has captured my heart. I even looked up real estate prices, although sadly I do not have the 3 million dollars required to purchase one of those historic homes. And I would get annoyed over the thousands of tourists that invade the downtown historic district every day and night by trolley. I especially enjoyed River Street, which almost seems to have a London feel to it, despite my never having been to London.
All in all, most of the vacation went well. The negatives I will not dwell on, for I have already complained enough of them to close friends. I will admit I was upset that I didn't make it through all of my beach reads, but I only have a book and a half remaining. "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton was EXCELLENT and I highly recommend it. In fact, I started it right before we left for the beach and I finished it before we left for the beach. Her first novel, "The House at Riverton" did not hold my attention as well and I had difficulty finishing it. I persevered however and I would give it, oh, maybe a B-. Karen Marie Moning's eagerly awaited "Dreamfever" was also an A+ and of COURSE had to end on a cliffhanger. The final book of the 5-part series should be out next year probably around the same time, so I can't wait. I'm currently halfway through "The Devlin Diary" by Christi Phillips and enjoying it to this point. All that I have remaining is "The Time-Traveler's Wife" since so many people recommended it to me.
And of course, now that our vacation is over, I am already looking ahead to our numerous weekend trips planned for this fall! The desire to travel never ceases....I did miss our cats though. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Family Matters

With all of the conveniences that technology affords us, I think as a society we tend to focus on the positives far more than the negatives. But my current situation has me suddenly viewing the Internet in a whole new light and realizing how difficult it is to control information.

To sum up a very complex situation, my immediate family (parents, siblings) is not on speaking terms with the entire rest of my family (that's mostly my parents' fault, my siblings are too young to know about it). I, however, made a choice about 4 years ago to be involved with both sides under the condition that the rest of the family not learn anything about my immediate family. No news, no photos, no whereabouts, nothing. I am also not permitted to tell my younger siblings that they have other relatives. I will also be excommunicated if I do not abide by these rules and I would miss my siblings greatly. So up until now, the situation has been mostly without issues. The rest of the family respects this divide and I take care to have family members over only at certain times so their paths will not be crossed. I do not hang photos of any of my family (mostly). And I have been lucky in that my activities on FB and Twitter are not followed by my (mostly) technologically-inept relatives. But today that has changed.

My aunt, with whom I am very close, just joined FB and friended me. On one hand, I am extremely excited that she has joined the addictive community. But on the other, I have photos with siblings, am friends with other relatives that could complicate the situation, etc. I have been great at compartmentalizing my life into separate families, much as a child of divorced parents probably. But how do I do this on FB? I can't completely hide all aspects of my different lives from each other. And I'm tired of doing it. As my siblings get closer and closer to adulthood, I also have to ask myself, "Will I tell them about the rest of their family or not? Can I trust them with this knowledge? What will happen if my parents find out?" Oh, families.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aviary Adventure!

Yesterday I took my sister to the National Aviary on Pittsburgh's North Side in honor of her upcoming 15th birthday. I just found out from my mom that my sis Briona loves penguins (which I do as well!). I had heard of their new exhibit with 11 African penguins (they used to only have 5 with no real exhibit to showcase them on a daily basis aside from programs) and was planning on going with the hubby to play with a penguin. For only $40 a person, you can attend a "Penguin Connection". Basically, you get a 30-40 minute tour of some behind-the-scenes areas and the exhibit, during which you are educated on penguins in general and the ones at the Aviary. For the final 20-30 minutes, you get to meet one of their penguins; pet him/her, give it toys, watch it eat a snack, and basically interact with it. I was jumping at the chance to do this so I imagined that my sister would like it too.

In hindsight, I think she liked the trip but note to self: She is not as daring or as bold as some of us other siblings. For a while there I worried that she wouldn't even pet him, at which point I would've been displeased to have shelled out the $40. But she did and I think she liked it. Unfortunately for us, it was a VERY warm day (over 90 degrees) and although Elvis (our penguin) was inside an air-conditioned classroom with us for our meet-and-greet, the general malaise for the day could not be put off. He didn't mind us petting him, but only for a short time. He didn't want a snack or to play with toys. In fact, the only thing he really wanted to do was climb into the trainer's lap and show her such affection that you'd think he was humping her! It was rather entertaining and adorable though. Also, they sound like donkeys! They bray just like asses, haha...

The rest of the Aviary was quite extraordinary. I haven't really been a big fan of birds in the past, but perhaps that is only because I've been around canaries which are as dumb as doornails (or so I'm told). The feeding times were impressive just because of the routines the birds have down pat and they put on quite a show for the crowds. I will definitely have to bring the hubby back. The penguin exhibit also did not disappoint. They are very curious animals and they will stare at you through the glass and even splash you a little. The trainer told us that sometimes they put penguin-friendly pool toys into the penguin pool and I can only imagine how entertaining that must be to watch them have at it! Just as fun as watching the polars bears play with giant beach balls at the PPG Zoo and Aquarium. Glad I live in city with lots of opportunities to interact with such creatures.

Now if only I could volunteer to be a penguin trainer, I'll be set....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Melancholy Evening

Last night was sort of odd in terms of mood. I'd forgotten how painful and heartbreaking it is to visit the animal shelter in the midst of summer; cats crammed into tiny cages, listless and silently going crazy. They're all hoping for a home and yet it's not likely that they will all get one, let alone in the next few days. They will have to endure months of cramped cage life, sicknesses, and hopeful encounters with adopters who reject them. I stopped volunteering last year and instead became a foster parent. A whole different set of difficulties, but one in which I am not faced with a sea of cats that I can't assist except to give them 15 minutes of cuddle time and clean their cage up. I can nurse them back to health, play with them for hours, and fatten them up with lots of treats. They get a whole room to romp in and a window to hog. But once they're all better or ready to go back to the shelter, it's even harder to put them back into that tiny cage. They don't understand why. And the ones that we get attached to and keep (1 so far) and the ones that nobody else wants and we keep to prevent them being bounced around foster homes for the next couple of years (1 so far) make it all the harder to continue doing. And you just hope and pray that someone sees what you see in them.
The shelter we assist is absolutely full so I went last night to pick up a foster, just to free up cage space. I usually make the husband go but he had other plans. The sweet little girl I left with definitely needs attention and some fattening, and hopefully will enjoy the company of the other foster girl hanging out in our office. But I can't help but think of all the other ones still waiting for homes.
As you know, I live in Pittsburgh and so the news was completely occupied by the shootings in an L.A. Fitness. Horrifying and absolutely disgusting that that man would hope (on his blog) that this will make people better understand people like him, who are desperate for a partner. There is no way to better understand you. It's a full moon this evening as my yoga teacher pointed out several times. Maybe there is something to the full moon bringing out the crazy people.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Now that I have finally finished school for a while, I'm really excited for the upcoming months. I have so many things to do! The hubby and I are nearly finished remodeling our attic and beautifying it (thank goodness because we are about to keel over from exhaustion). Our vacation in Hilton Head SC is coming up soon and I would like to do more than just sleep. But I will finally have time to bind a few handmade journals for my aunt's church auction, perhaps knit a scarf or two. I also have a special project cleaning, resewing, and binding old hymnals for her church so that they have one complete copy. That's going to take a while though. My training for the 10k in Pittsburgh has fallen behind but I have a sudden interest in Yoga and Pilates again so I'm sure you will hear all about that (last night's class was almost too slow for me), or perhaps spinning. And I still want to get my website up and running as I learn how to program from the hubby. I know, I know, I am a busy busy woman. No wonder I don't have the attention span or patience to sit through movies. And yesterday I had a burning desire to take a class on cake decorating...

Ah, childhood (and teenage) dreams...

(originally posted Feb. 23rd 2008)

So I have this list. And this list comprises all of the things I would like to accomplish prior to my demise. It has a lot of locations to which I would like to travel, it has activities like sail down the eastern US coast and publishing my own novel. I am currently writing a paper for an archives advocacy and ethics course, which means I am blasting all of the music I own and eating lemon zest biscotti dipped in green tea. While singing along to some tunes, I remembered a passion I had as a child and a teenager, which was to be a singer, a country singer in particular (silly, I know--especially since I live nowhere near the south and nor do I live on a farm, or ever have for that matter). But some small part of me says that I can relate to it. I suppose now I have to put on my list to be a lead singer of a country music band. And the funny thing is I feel very passionate about that. New career choice? Sadly, I wouldn't say my voice is ready for that.