Thursday, May 23, 2013

Back Home and Busy


Since we've been home, we've:

1. Enjoyed our house, yard, and wearing sandals.

2. Caught up with our nature-watching.

Twenty-two mating toads. Y'all get ready for frogpocalypse!
 3. Gone to eat at one of our favorite restaurants! Double Happiness! Holla, May!

I missed that coconut cake. SO! MUCH!!!
4. Bought groceries in our super new Harris Teeter. (!)

Just LOOK at those gorgeous shrimp!
 5. Reveled in the little luxuries of home.

Holy Crap! It makes its own ice!
6. Got a new mouse before I became homicidal, and got our broken washing machine fixed.


7.  Went to see my family so I could get a look at my dad and see how he was doing from his kidney surgery. And play with my nephew. When Dad would let him go.
8. Came back home and tore out the old, rotting wooden walkway and replaced it.
Goodbye, potential lawsuit!
My nail-hammering form was ridiculed.
Much better.
9. Got the rot under control on the shed with a new door and some flashing and trim replacement.
Ready for paint!
10. Restocked the bar and texted pictures of the prices to Dennis and Megan back in Newfoundland so they would be jealous. Because we're that guy.
10. Crawled around under the house.
One of us was not enthusiastic. The respirator pads on the right are why you wear that horrible thing down there.
11. Cut holes in the walls and ceilings.
The best part was when Pootie forgot to check to see if the shop vac he'd hooked to that giant hole saw had a filter. Have y'all ever seen a shop vac spew plaster dust? Whoo!
12.  Met new neighbors, visited with old neighbors and friends, and held some of the new babies.
Two of several born while we were gone!
13.  Spent some time reconnecting with my heritage and planning some cooking! (FINALLY, right?)
I wouldn't go so far as to say we're settled back in - we still have several projects going. But the kitchen of 305 is open, and I've got some stuff to share with you!
Just as soon as I vacuum up all the plaster dust.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Andie's Big Adventure: Home Again, Home Again!

And so, 234 days after leaving home (but who's counting?) we walked into the loving arms of our friends and family.

Please be assured that the very next day, I got a haircut. I couldn't deal with the witch hair anymore. I apologize for the back of my head in this video.

When I first told everyone that I really wanted them there to greet us, a couple of them said I was nuts - The Canada Cold had gotten to my head. Why on earth would I want to come home to a rowdy houseful of people and kids. I'd be worn out! But I can't imagine being gone from everyone for so long and walking into a quiet, empty, dark house. And good lord, did you notice that within 60 seconds of pulling up in the driveway, we both had drinks? Oh, also, we made everyone unload the truck and car while we basked in the glory of our Estate. Sure, I'm crazy. Like a fox.

So instead of tomblike silence, we got a house full of boisterous joy and love and laughter, old friends, new babies (!) and evidence that despite the fact that life had gone on while we were away,people did apparently miss us and were glad we were back.

This. THIS, is what our house is supposed to look like, goddammit! Full of people! Please ignore my witch hair.

We planned our arrival party weeks before we hit the road, and with the help of our neighbors Darlene and Jim, Phillip's mom, our brother-in-law Craig (who also took the video THANK YOU CRAIG!) our nephew Benjamin, and Zoe's, we had one of the best homecoming parties ever. Zoe's provided the food, Craig and Benjamin iced down the beer and set up the backyard, Mrs. Reid brought and chilled the wine, and Darlene flitted in and out like a bee, fussing and helping and cleaning and serving and organizing.

It was good and bad to see the kids. They obviously had not followed my orders and stopped growing while we were gone. Look at the young women! I swear to god Liza was four when we left. Good lord. Someone hold my walker while I grab a stiff drink.

Pootie knows how to relax. He was a tiny bit happy to get home. And put on shorts. And remove his shoes. Goodbye, glacial cold! Hello, hookworm!

We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to go to Newfoundland and see such a beautiful place and meet the wonderful people we can now call our friends. Megan and Dennis and Sadie. Neil and Kim and Margot and Ewan. Kathryn and Mavis and Bern and Jessie (bark, bark, Mavis and Jessie!). The grumpy old guy who lived at the end of our street, but was always sweet to me. Trevor, Brianna, Lyndsay, Shay, Curtis, Frank, Mike, Matt, Luke. The little blue house on the cove  - we miss you all!

But truly, there's no place like home. Our own home. Our own kitchen. Our own backyard.

Our own bed.

Especially after 234 days away.

Welcome back to 305, y'all.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Andie's Big Adventure: The Rest of the Drive Home

We left off (three weeks ago) in Corner Brook. Still in Newfoundland. You've probably figured out that we're not still there. If you haven't, and you think we're still in that hotel room waiting to leave, rest assured, we are not.

Rather than give you a blow-by-blow of the long journey home, allow me to hit the highlights. And provide crappy phone pictures to go along. Pootie and I are not Instagram users, so these pretty much suck.

We drove from Corner Brook to Port Aux Basque the next morning. It was about 2 1/2 hours. Absolutely breathtaking view of the mountains. And these pictures are a disgrace, but they're all we have. Try and get the gist.

Yes, this was taken with a camera phone by the driver. Yes, the car was in motion at the time. No, it was not me.
We arrived with plenty of time to relax and explore a little. Port Aux Basque is pretty, and we had a very nice day.

We were staying at a place right by the ferry, so we took Dinky for a walk and checked it out. Then I had a long talk with him about the ferry, and about how the mean, horrible, awful, no good ferry people wouldn't let him come up to the cabin with us, so he was going to have to stay in the car for the trip. He was not happy. (They were actually very nice. But Dinky is a little bit of a drama queen.)

The next morning, we went to board. I reluctantly left my poor dog in the truck by himself. The crossing was about 5 hours, so we had time to get some lunch and spent the rest of the time in our little cabin, making use of the wi-fi.

In the second picture, I am trying to text Dinky, but he wasn't speaking to me. See how sad I am at lunch? Granted, it could have been the not very good salad they gave me, but maybe I was sad about my dog. Maybe.

Ice. In the water. In case you wanted to know just how far North we were.

I was reunited with my poor boy and he was most unhappy with me. Fortunately, we were in Sydney NS, close to the hotel, and I was able to unload him and spend some time apologizing. The Cambridge Suites there took good care of us again, and really pampered Dinky. They had a little blanket for him to lie on (to protect their sofa) and dog bowls with a placemat (to protect their floors) and scoop bags for walking (to protect their grounds) and dog treats (to protect their reputation with the canines).

Obviously, he was appeased.

I'd say out of all the hotels, the Cambridge Suites in Sydney NS wins hands-down.

From Sydney we drove to Moncton, New Brunswick then the next day we set out for the USA. !!

We hit the US/Canada border around noon. There was a nice plaque before the booth that said, "'We pledge to cordially greet and welcome you to the United States' and ' We pledge to treat you with courtesy, dignity and respect'."

Yeah... not so much. The guy was a complete troll. I half expected him to say "Who's that tripping over my bridge!?" Sad. We were so excited to be coming home, and instead of being welcomed, we were treated like something unpleasant the guy had stepped in. Maybe because I'm from the South, my definition of "courtesy" is different. But I'm pretty sure I know Rude when I see it. I would have liked to have been the biggest Billy Goat. Who flew at the Customs man - um... troll - and poked his eyes out with his horns, and crushed him to bits, body and bones, and tossed him out into the cascade.  Man, those Norwegians are violent. I can see why Disney hasn't done that story.

We were hoping to utilize our cell phones as soon as we crossed the border - because we could suck up data with impunity! - but that didn't work out. We were driving through Seriously Rural Maine and most of the time didn't have any cell coverage at all. We got into Camden late afternoon. It was so nice to be back in the states, ugly border patrol troll notwithstanding. It gave me an opportunity to catch up with my family and see how my dad was doing.  Dinky did some serious chilling while I texted and talked.

Dad had his kidney removed while I was on the ferry in the middle of a bunch of ice and snow and freezing rain.  I have a pretty pitiful picture of him in the hospital, but I'm not posting it because my mom would kill me. And I wouldn't blame her. Dad had a really rough time. I'm glad my brother could be there with him and Mom for the surgery since I was kind of out of reach.

Once I'd talked to Mom and found out how Dad was, ("in an inordinate amount of pain"), I needed a drink. Not nearly as bad as Mom and John did, but I still needed one. We went to dinner at 40 Paper, where we'd eaten on the way up. We both ordered a Knutty Knob (Knob Creek bourbon with lime and amaretto - it was absolutely wonderful) and had a very nice dinner. I highly recommend that place.

We had enough time to enjoy the scenery in Camden - I'll remind you we honeymooned there. It was good to walk around. And I was honestly surprised at the fact that I was glad to see an American flag. I'm not exactly all that sentimental.

We were up and at 'em early the next morning to hit the road to Mystic, CT. We were still a pretty long way from home. We tried to eat at Chicken Little again, but they'd apparently switched to a Breakfast/Lunch only place while we were in Canada, so we wound up at a really good Italian Bistro downtown. And for the first time since I'd been gone, I ordered an Old Fashioned, and the bartender knew exactly what I was talking about. (I had a seriously awful experience in Quebec City when I was there for work - the bartender said she could make one, and I got a glass full of ginger ale with a splash of Jack. First of all... nope, nope, nope! No ginger ale. What the hell? And second of all, Jack is NOT bourbon.) Anyway, I was VERY happy. As you can tell.

Maker's Mark. Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is an Old Fashioned.
Next morning was a drive to Hagerstown, MD. We went West to avoid New York City and DC. That was a good call. Saved us an hour or more of sitting in stop and go traffic on I 95. We wound up on some smaller highways, but the scenery was gorgeous. Rolling hills, horse pastures, and lots and lots of green. Spring just got more solid and vibrant the farther South we went. It was a joy to see. I hadn't realized how much I missed all the color until I saw it. We got to Hagerstown, had a decent dinner, my dog got some snuggle time, my husband got to wear flip flops for the first time in many months, and we had a field of sheep outside our hotel window. Beautiful. And we were in the home stretch.

Finally, our last day of driving. It was uneventful except for the excitement of getting back to North Carolina.


And then we got HOME!

But that's another story. For another day. And another blog post. Because seriously, you have to need a break now. So stay tuned. I promise I'll be back sooner than I was last time I told you that.