Saturday, June 18, 2011

New grill

The Chief & I bought a new grill for the cabin last weekend. We hadn't planned to, but it seems they're ALL on sale the weekend before Father's Day, and the one we have out there now is a good size for two but inadequate for the company we're expecting this summer (his cousin & her family, my friends & daughters, another couple, friends w/ their toddler, maybe my sister and her family). The new one is another Weber, but this one has a whole cart arrangement, not just the grill, so we now have a convenient place to put things instead of pressing a folding chair or other non-grill furniture into service. We even bought a cover for it; it's what all the well-dressed grills are wearing this year. ;-)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Playing in the dirt

More "garden as gym" this weekend. I finally got my new ice plants in the ground, planted the tulip bulbs from the pots I bought back in April (the original 6 bulbs in each of 2 pots yielded over a dozen more - EACH!), set my ground covers in the heavily shaded bed the Chief made back by the shed... My "digging muscles" were talking to me Monday!

Tuesday I finished up: dug up some spiderwort that was trying to surround one corner of the deck, separated some of the irises there and replanted them, and put an oregano and a basil plant in the resulting hole. To give you an idea of how solid the ground was, I had to soak the spot with the hose a few times and let the water sink in before I could get the shovel to get a good bite.

The new "residents" seem to be happy, though; the two original ice plants already have volunteers (!) and the basil & oregano looked quite healthy when I watered them after work yesterday. The transplanted irises don't look quite as good, but they'd been in the same spot since before I bought the house years ago, so I expect they'll take a bit longer to resign themselves to their new neighborhood.

Going Apple

Sunday I finally took the plunge and bought an iPad. The Chief and I went into the Apple store, I found someone to answer my questions, one of the sales folks rang me up (on her iPhone!) and e-mailed the receipt to my home. Then came the challenging part.

The sales person walked me over to the Personal Set-up table and handed me off to a lovely young lady who proceeded to help me get my iPad up and running. However, we ran into trouble almost immediately when my verizon and netscape e-mail addresses wouldn't synch up. It took about half an hour before they finally found the right documentation for the verizon set-up, and they never did find good instructions for getting the netscape address added to my iPad account. The whole set-up had me sitting there for nearly an hour and a half on Sunday - and we didn't even finish! - while various Apple staffers tried to solve the problem. The manager even came over and apologized, thanked me (more than once) for my patience, and let me have my choice of their spiffy magnetic covers for free.

We went back last night so that one of "my" techs from Sunday could redo my iTunes id, which we'd originally set up to the netscape address that the iPad wouldn't take. When we tried to change it to my verizon address, up popped the info - name, address and phone numbers - of somebody in Pittsburgh! Not wanting to mess up his account, the tech called him, explained the problem, got his e-mail - NOT the same as mine, despite what iTunes seemed to think - and gave him her info so he could be sure she was legit and was trying to make sure his iTunes account was secure. Murphy was obviously iPad shopping with me!

After about an hour, we finally got my iPad up & running and the tech gave us a demo of Apple TV. One of the other customers who was watching the demo declared it "Awesome!" I gotta agree; you plug the iPad into the Apple TV box, which connects to your flatscreen
TV, and you can pull up TV shows or movies (hulu, netflix, itunes...) on the iPad and watch them on the TV. You can also use the tv as a computer monitor if you want to surf the web or watch embedded videos, and even enlarge those videos to full-screen - way cool!

The Chief studied laptops while I was getting my iPad worked on and was pretty impressed with a lot of what he saw. The Apple TV, though, really blew him away - he's been looking at flatscreen
TVs off and on for a year or more, but I think this is gonna push him to buy one sooner rather than later. I may have to lock up my iPad so he can't "adopt" it from me. :D


We are now free of car payments - WAHOO!!! The Chief & I both made final payments on our respective vehicles this month. Going from two car payments to none is a beautiful thing - we're looking forward to next month, when we won't have those taken out of our paychecks any more. That's gonna free up a lotta money that we can throw at things like Christmas presents and doing some repairs and upgrades at the house & the cabin a little sooner than we thought we could. It'll also mean that buying Christmas plane tickets won't be quite as painful as usual. (Though looking at airfares the other night still induced a gasp - have you seen how they've jumped?!?)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

One week on...

Now that I've had a week to get used to the new haircut, I've noticed a few things:
- It feels weird, not because of all the fluff in the ear-to-chin zone but because it's in my face. For the first time in YEARS I'm not wearing it pulled back (in barrette, braid or bun) every day. I could pull it back in a barrette, but then it would look like a shorter version of the same 'do I've worn for over 2 decades. That would rather defeat the purpose of the new cut.
- Probably because it's not pulled back now, I regularly catch my hair in my reading glasses. I may soon have a bald spot on one side of my face...
- If I want to pull it out of my face, I've resorted to a very short ponytail or a knit headband. And sunglasses make a pretty stylin' headband too. ;)
- It's going to take me a while to get used to the fact that I don't need nearly as much shampoo or conditioner as I used to.
- The reviews have been very favorable indeed. From raves to telling me it makes me look younger, and of course all the folks who are still adjusting to me with short hair (from a colleague as we approached each other from opposite ends of a long hall: "I'm still not quite sure it's you").
- Still trying to figure out how to brush my hair so it doesn't frizz so badly that I look like a brunette dandelion that's gone to seed. Finger-combing leaves it still looking a bit messy; wide-tooth comb is next, I guess.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

ROCKED my recital pieces this afternoon!

Or rather, Doug rocked the piano and I went along for the ride. It was SO much fun to have as my accompanist a specialist in music of the era, who knows it so well that he can improvise to a faretheewell and, as if that weren't enough, is a singer & voice teacher so he knows how to follow me or help me along as needed. My voice teacher's husband told me my pieces w/ Doug were more like a duet. My teacher (who joked about my being a "true diva" because I had not just one but two accompanists) told me afterwards, "You were on fire! He woke you up!" :D

That energy carried over from my "blue songs" into my G&S piece too. I told my fellow recitalists the scary story of Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, they looked suitably rapt or horrified, and we all had a great time.

That was fun - can we do it again soon? Actually, I just might. There's an open-mic cabaret night downtown in a couple of weeks; I'm definitely going! I just have to decide whether I want to sing, or just sit in the audience and see how these work.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Recital this weekend!

This Sunday is my voice teacher's studio recital. This year I'm doing 3 pieces: Blues in the Night, Blue Skies, and Dame Hannah's first aria from Ruddigore. Definitely a different program, especially as the Ruddigore piece includes chorus; the plan is to teach the chorus parts to the other recitalists at tomorrow's dress rehearsal, then let them sing from their seats on Sunday.

What I'm really excited about is the 2 blue pieces. I took them over to Doug's Tuesday night for some coaching, as he has a swing band (they played our wedding reception) and he's an expert in music of the 1920s-1940s. As I'd expected, he was able to give me some coaching in a more period way to deliver the music, and his accompaniment was so much fun, it completely changed how I sang. When I told him I wished he could accompany me on those 2 pieces for the recital, he said "Let me check my schedule." Turns out I'm going to get some world-class musicianship playing for me on Sunday! We won't get much time to rehearse - just a quick run-through that afternoon - but Doug's such a pro, I can trust him to follow me. What a thrill! This is going to be as much fun as singing with the brilliant accompanist we had for the cabaret class I took a couple of years ago.

Small disappointment

Lately I've been on something of a smoothie kick in an effort to get more dairy in my diet (1 c. skim milk, 1/2 c. fat-free yogurt of one flavor or another, plus 2 c. of frozen fruit). I've found that strawberries, peaches & blueberries make really good smoothies; bananas are ok if they're ripe, but not if they're even the tiniest bit green. Tonight I tried frozen mango and was a little disappointed. I love mango, but the frozen version makes the smoothie seem a bit, oh, powdery or something; weird texture, at any rate. Not enough to make me throw it out, only enough that I won't do that again.