Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On Ice

Twenty or so years ago, when we lived briefly in Missouri, I took ice skating lessons. I don't remember much - mainly that I got to buy spiffy shoes. Ever since, I've been afraid to step back on the ice. On our last day in Tahoe, I conquered my fear and did pretty well, all things considered.

There is an outdoor rink in South Lake Tahoe, just near the gondolas we took up the mountain. My sister, Julie, my neice and nephew, and I went to skate while my dad took pics. Once I got my ice-legs once more, I had tons of fun. It was especially nice to spend over an hour with my niece.

We noticed that there were lights strung up over the rink and decided to come back at night, to see the lights and skate once more. I'm so glad we did! My sister's mom paid for my niece and I to have a short, private lesson where we learned how to twirl - in theory. Mary-Helen did better than I but I still had a blast. And during this lesson, while trying to do a figure eight, I fell down for the first and only time. A kamakazee girl ruined my figure eight and I was trying not to hit her!

It really was a blast and I don't think I've ever had so much fun - well, maybe while building the snowman. Our family friend who joined us on the trip, Eric, also came out to skate, though he seemed a bit shaky. It was the perfect ending to a near-perfect trip.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Up the Mountain!

On our last full day in Tahoe, we bought crazy expensive tickets to ride up the gondola to the ski slopes - where there is a great view of the lake. I was a bit hesitant about it - I don't like heights and movement at once - but I loved it.

On the ride up, it amazed me how quiet it was - when the kids were not screaming. Had I been alone, it would have been almost a religious experience. There is something so magical about the mountains!

The views were spectacular and I had more trouble looking at our route up, rather than looking at the lake below. Stunning!

We got to our first stop: a lookout platform about 8500 feet up. The entire lake was visible and the few clouds in the sky were at eye-level.

At our next stop, the skiers were getting off the gondola to go down the mountain. The trees were heavy with snow and it was truly a white landscape. So incredibly beautiful! This was at 9100 feet.

I will never forget this view. It was cold up on the mountain; my nephew's M&Ms froze as he ate them. How many times can I say this...stunning!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Sleigh Ride

I am back home from the awesome Tahoe trip, which will surely go down as one of the funnest trips ever. Sure, there were moments of lost patience with some of the family, but when you're in tight quarters, that's to be expected. Nothing, however, could dampen my spirits and I have more pics to show you!

After the big snow on Christmas Day, the town seemed to finally wa
ke up on the 26th. The roads were finally plowed and there was a line of cars trying to get to the ski resort up the street. The temperature dropped and never rose above twenty degrees. We stayed inside until our scheduled sleigh ride in the afternoon.

You know it's cold when the water bottle in your pocket freezes during a thirty minute outdoor adventure. I've never been so cold! But the views were stunning, especially with the lake...

The Pony Express came through Tahoe once a week during it's eighteen month duration in the 1860s, and our route on the sleigh was similar to theirs - though they went farther up the mountain.

Can you imagine seeing this mountain without it's modern homes, businesses, and casinos? It would have been spectacular. Heck, it's spectacular with those things!

After our ride, I went for a walk with a few in our group, where I almost froze. We went down to the lake and it was stunning. The beach was white with snow and there looked to be a few feet of frozen water. The lake as a whole never freezes because it's too deep - 1600 feet. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera on this walk. You'll have to believe me when I say that a Lake Tahoe sunset is unlike anything else.

I'll post pictures of our ride up the mountain tomorrow. Talk about breathtaking!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Very White Christmas!

I have never had a real white Christmas until this year. According to the ski resort just up the road, we got thirty inches of snow in 24 hours. After playing in it, I believe it! It was absolutely amazing. In all my life, I've never seen anything more beautiful. Here's our house in Tahoe, after the snow...

It was quite a sight watching the snow all day long. Finally, after our big dinner, we got to go outside...

We almost drowned in snow! Our snowman got drenched!

I took a breather and looked up.... Wow.

It was an amazing Christmas - one I'll never forget! More pics soon!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow....And More Snow!

I'm writing from South Lake Tahoe, California where it's snowing...a lot! The family (very extended) has gathered here from all around and we have enough food to get through a very long blizzard - or two. Unfortunately, we're running low on alcohol!

The drive up here was absolutely stunning and we stopped in Carson city - which I pronounce Cahson City because of Jackie Chan in SHANGHAI NOON. I didn't expect much but it turned out to be a neat town.

We walked around the town a bit and had lunch. Even my dad was impressed with the town and he's very difficult to impress!

It was so neat to see snow again!

Then we began our ascent to the lake - up and up and around and around. More pics tomorrow! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Last night, we arrived in Reno around midnight, central time. Though the clock read only 10pm, we were exhausted! We're staying at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino, which has a very nice, new Tuscan Tower, where our room is located.

It snowed here the other day and there are driving restrictions on the route up the mountain to Tahoe. It was a bit alarming to see such restrictions when it was sunny here, in Reno. So, after much debating, we decided to take a bus up the mountain and turn in our rental car. Considering the rest of our family is driving up, we'll have plenty of cars once we get up there. It'll be nice to have a worry-free drive up and especially down, in the early morning hours next week. (The pic below is of downtown, mostly of Harrah's Casino and Hotel.)

Today, we explored Reno a bit. I went to Jimmy Beans Wool, which has a fabulous online store, but also operates a storefront here in Reno. The ladies there were super nice and the store, though small, had a great selection of nice yarns. I was impressed! And yes, I bought some more yarn! I'll post pics later!

After that, we went to the National Auto Museum, where there were tons of c
ute cars.

The car above was one of my favorites: a 1937 Packard. My dad collects and restores antique cars and one of his cars was bought by the Harrah Collection (which makes up the majority of the cars at the museum), though it was not on display here. It was cool!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cards

On Sunday, I finally had two hours to devote to Christmas card-making. Here was the result....

I've never been so pressed for time as I am this holiday season. I'm so relieved I decided to not knit too much this year. It would not have worked! As it is, I'm stressing about Tahoe - especially after this morning's fun filled aborted trip to DFW due to ice - and that's about all the stress I can take.

Tomorrow I get to teach a colleague to knit, to introduce her to this obsession. Should be fun!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nashville Wrap-Up

I got behind in my blogging last week, during our trip to Nashville. It turned out to be a good trip and by the end of it, we had snow.

My camera is having serious issues - still - so I was unable to take pics of the magnificent Christmas lights at the Opryland Hotel. I've never seen a more beautiful display!

I didn't do much more sightseeing, as I'd been to Nashville before, so I shopped. I found a yarn store that was going out of business so I drove across town to that. It was nice, but picked over. I ended up with some green and purple TOFUtsies - that's it. While there, I went to a fancy mall that made me feel exceedingly poor. I didn't stay long.

During the trip as a whole, I got some knitting done, finishing a quick Christmas present. Now I need to start the next one!

While waiting on our plane in Nashville, it started snowing on Thursday, about an hour before our plane was due to depart. It turns out that this same system brought some flurries to the Metroplex on Tuesday. In TN, it came done pretty hard, as we sat in the terminal, marvelling at the beauty of it all. And there was a good sprinkling of snow on the runway as we left - enough to freak my mom out.

It was a good trip but it's been crazy since we got back. And now I must prepare for the next trip. Christmas at Lake Tahoe with the family!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Hermitage

Another day in Nashville.... On Tuesday, I headed just a little to the east to go to Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage. The day proved to be cool and very windy, but that didn't stop me from making the trek up to the house. I was a bit rushed so I did not get to tour the inside, but at least I saw some of it!

Andrew Jackson was not necessarily a beloved president - seeing as how he deprived the Native Americans of their land and killed a great many of them. Maybe a more appropriate term for him would be hero for he did expel the pesky British at the Battle of New Orleans.

I raced away from The Hermitage to meet a friend in Cookeville. I can't say that the town was spectacular, but the drive was beautiful. I love the hills here and portions of east Nashville remind of Michigan. How I miss it!

Mom and I did more shopping and I got some editing done. It was a very fun, full day!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Super Tired in Nashville

I'm finally in Nashville, but let me tell you - yesterday was the most exhausting day EVER. Honestly, I cannot remember being so tired! Here's a rundown of what happened, based on the template used by The Secret Knitter.

3:15 am: Wake up, look at the clock and groan. Why, oh why, must I have an internal alarm clock that always jumps the gun!?!

3:57 am: Turn off alarm and get up.

4:01 am: Turn on the coffee pot and ready my cream and sugar.

4:03 am: Coffee pot lights up and I start smelling smoke. Turn off coffee pot and call my mom across the way, saying, "my coffee maker just died."

4:15 am: Finish coffee from the house, proceed in getting ready.

4:47 am: Put luggage in the car and hear coyotes. Eek! Walk faster!

4:55 am: Realize I forgot iPod, run to the house, frantically looking for coyotes as I run.

4:59 am: Pull out of gate, we're on our way!

6:33 am: Hit rush hour traffic in the middle of Dallas. Sigh.

6:59 am: Walk up to an abandoned security checkpoint at the airport. I love small airports and I love Southwest Airlines!

7:55 am: Take off on time!

9:31 am: Land in Birmingham. Watch people get off, get on. Soon, we're in the air again.

10:31 am: Land in Nashville. Yay! Proceed to the baggage claim - ultra long walk - and our luggage is there after three minutes. Yay Southwest!

10:59 am: Finish signing rental car agreement, proceed to car waiting area.

11:25 am: Finally IN the car after we were told we would have four different cars at various points, we end up with a Pontiac. Stupid Hertz!

11:44 am: Find food. And coffee. Coffee provides - finally - a bit of energy.

12:22 pm: The nice people let us check in at the hotel and get our room. We run up and back down.

12:37 pm: I drop mom off at the convention center, go back to the hotel.

12:45 - 1:55 pm: I try to take a nap, interrupted at various points by the cleaning staff and one lady who tried to come into the room. Finally give up.

2:24 pm: Search the internet for somewhere to eat dinner. Where are all the restaurants?!

3:00 - 3:30 pm: Knit to CNN Headline News.

3:45 pm: Went in search of snacks

4:26 pm: Picked mom up and went to a huge Outlet Center where there is food! Shopping and eating ensues.

7:28 pm: Return to the hotel, plan for the next day.

9:00 pm: Lights out - SO tired!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not One, But Two Fairy Gardens!

On Saturday, I took a nice break from writing to do some gardening. Yes, I gardened. More specifically, my mom and I made our two fairy gardens.

I saw the above fountain and immediately thought of making a Tuscan garden. We bought small pieces of marble and the center tile at Lowe's to make a patio, of sorts. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any furniture that matched the fountain, but we'll keep looking.

We found some of the coolest colored plants. I can't remember what they are, but there were reds and greens galore in this fairy garden. I reluctantly put in some Spanish Lavender (as opposed to Provencial Lavender - center right) because it was cheap. And it's not quite symmetrical - something that was difficult for me to consent to, but the two side plants are different - making it unsymmetrical.

Mom wanted to do a Victorian garden of sorts, so we found a cute bench and some fencing, which is hard to see in this pic. We transplanted some moss to make it look like grass. The tree which the bench sits under is actually a tiny Elm tree. How cool is that?! It'll change colors and lose its leaves soon. And yes, we finally bought a fairy. Mom chose some dwarf monkey grass (bottom right) and some creeping thyme (top center) for her garden. (I can't remember the rest, but at least I got those two right!)

Yes, we are a bit obsessed with these. I like them because they're manageable, unlike the thought of a real, huge garden. Now, we'll hope Sookie doesn't decide to play in them!

Monday, December 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo - Mission Accomplished!

Wow. I still can't believe it. Yesterday, around 4:15, I wrote my 50048th word on my NaNoWriMo novella. Together, with Part 1 of my book, I have 92,000 words. How amazing is that? And still, the story is not done yet. I never did the math, but had I written a specific number of words a day, it would have been around 1800 words to get to 50000? Is that right? To put that in perspective... Graham Greene wrote 500 words a day; a professor friend of mine writes 150 words a day. Near the end, I was shelling out at least 2000 words a day. Now, I know my book is not a work of art, like Graham Greene's novel, nor is it a piece of serious scholarship, but never did I imagine myself capable of such a feat. Really.

Through this crazy journey, I discovered some interesting things about my writing habits. For instance, since I generally work from home, it's virtually impossible for me to write - recreationally - during the day. The day is for working, my brain says. Hence why 1800 words yesterday took me over two hours. The first 1500 words were like pulling teeth because it was mid-afternoon: work time!

Hot tea is awesome, especially when it's cold out. This kept me hydrated for the majority of the month. Food, however, is greatly distracting during the writing process!

Outlines are great but even I, someone who seeks organization, even in a fairy garden, cannot stick to such rigidity. Why? The characters are unique and I have no idea what they want to do when I try to make an outline. Sure, I know where I want to end up, but the journey is unpredictable. When those characters take over, it's amazing how easily the words flow. And my main character surprised me. I thought she would be in bad shape at the end of this novella, but she is much stronger than I had anticipated. Who knew?

So, I call it a success, though now my attention must be turned to tedious editing. I've never had a goal for my writing so to accomplish something like feels amazing. Last night, I felt like I could do anything. I even did my hardest workout video. Yay!