Last Wednesday morning we woke up before dawn (4am to be exact) to make our way to Oakland airport to fly out to Cleveland (via Chicago) to visit with my sister and her family for five days. We love going in October, right before Halloween, because the trees have all turned glorious shades of red, orange and brown and it's just an experience we don't get out here in Oakland.
There was a lot of hanging out time, family time, and relaxing time had by all - it was especially wonderful to hear how vocal Nora has become. I so often forget she's only barely three because she's so verbally expressive and she's such a story teller. Josh is quite possibly the sweetest, happiest kid I've ever seen - and nothing phases him. He's so rough and tumble and such a little linebacker.
While Jenny & Sean were at school and the kids were at the sitters, Alan and I took the car and drove to Lakewood, a town we'd read about in This Old House as being one of the best old house communities in the country to live in. At first we were like, "okay, this is alright" and then we hit the most gorgeous neighborhood (Clifden area, for those in the know) and I swear I could just about move into any of the houses there. Naturally, I'd want one overlooking the water. Naturally those are $$$.
Nora got sent home from preschool with a fever with rumblings of "SWINE FLU" but it turned out to be just a regular old fever, so that was a relief! Because she was sick though, we stayed in for the night - I cooked a pasta dish with kale and sausage that I absolutely love and made sure to have plenty of leftovers.
The next day we did some more hanging out before going to Sean & Jenny's Friday night bowling league. It had been raining and windy all day so the leaves were starting to drop from the tree - everything was really bright and the colors of the leaves were intensified. Definitely gorgeous. Unfortunately it was also slippery and as we were leaving the house I slipped and fell down the steps, pulling a quad muscle, hurting my left thumb, right wrist, right knee and right shin/ankle. Here it is nearly a week later and my hands still hurt and I think I really tweaked my ankle - everytime I walk and position my foot a certain way a stabbing pain shoots up my foot, through my ankle and up my shin. I have a dr. appointment next Wednesday so I'm going to have them look at my wrist and ankle. Hopefully I didn't fracture anything.
The next morning we went to the West Side Market in Ohio City which is an indoor market (like Pike Place) that's been around since the 1840s and has been housed in this amazingly beautiful brick building that looks like a little sister of Grand Central Station. We decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner that night since we wouldn't be able to spend the holiday together, so we went shopping for a 7 pound roasting hen, pork (sausage and pancetta) for my (slightly) famous stuffing and some additional veggies and herbs that Jenny didn't already have on hand at home.
After the market we drove back to my sister's house and then hit up Duck Pond Park for some family photo time and to walk around the haunted forest. Well, at 3pm it wasn't so much haunted as it was being prepared for some late night haunting. Nora seemed pretty uninterested in the whole thing, but Uncle Awan and Aunt Backy were having a blast.
That night we ate a VERY late dinner - no matter how hot or how long I tried to cook the bird, it was raw in spots. I have no idea what happened, but at 9:30 p.m. we said screw it and ate all the other food, including the aforementioned stuffing. I think I might make that all by its lonesome as a meal at some point because it was damn good. Probably even better than I remembered.
Sunday before getting dropped off at the airport, we had breakfast at an old streetcar diner and then we drove through what is now my absolute most favorite neighborhood in the area, Cleveland Heights. I am so in love with the streets and the houses, especially Derbyshire. When can I get me one of those giant brick tudor lovelies?
I'd love to say the flight home was uneventful but we were delayed out of Nashville and then we had some pretty terrible turbulence somewhere over the Rocky Mountains. I was crying and hyperventilating and the steward was strapped in and yelling at people to sit the %&*@ down and fasten their seatbelts; not exactly confidence boosting, but we landed safely, made our way back home and then hit work the next morning.
I'm already missing the leaves. (And the family too!)
Alan's parents are members of the Pacific Star Winery, located on the coast 12 miles north of Fort Bragg (which is about 12 miles north of Mendocino, for those wondering). Every year the winery hosts an abalone feed, Abaloneista, for its wine club members and this year was no exception. While we all drove up together last year, because Alan's parents' friend Mike was coming there wasn't enough room in the car so we drove up separately. We got a late start out of the gate and then Google Maps gave us the wrong directions (while the Highway 20 we needed is located in Willits, it was convinced we needed Highway 20 - going the wrong direction - in Ukiah; thankfully we were smart enough to know it was wrong, but it added at least 20 minutes to our projected drive time).
We eventually arrived - after Alan's mom had called both of us, naturally - to find beautiful, sunny weather when 62 and rainy had been predicted. Naturally, I was dressed for chilly & moist whereas it was sunny, warm and dry. Naturally. No matter - the abalone this year was tremendous (I could have eaten several more pieces, I'm sure), the company was good and the scenery was fabulous. Best of all, around 4pm a storm rolled in blotting out the sun and dropping the temperature by about 10 degrees.
We stayed at an adorable little B&B in Fort Bragg called the Atrium and had dinner at a restaurant down on the wharf called Chapter & Moon. Unfortunately, my dinner made me feel a bit nauseated but everyone else seemed to enjoy their meals. One of the things I really enjoyed about our B&B was our breakfast on Sunday. We met John, Carolyn & Mike in the dining room for baked pears, egg souffle, chicken sausage and fresh squeezed orange juice. Except for the pears, everything was buffet style so it was really quite relaxed and because we were a larger group we were somewhat separated from the other guests. Good food at my pace away from the masses? That's my kind of place!
From Fort Bragg we drove down through Mendocino (probably since Mike hadn't been there since the 1960s), then down 128 through the Anderson Valley for a stop at Goldeneye Winery, one of my favorite Pinot Noirs in the valley. The area was awash in Autumn colors and the vineyards at Goldeneye were just spectacular. Oh, and it was another hot one.
When we were done with our tasting and had purchased our wine, we hopped in our cars, bid each other adieu and made our way back to Oakland where it was cloudy and cool and finally felt like Autumn, another successful Abalone festival under our belts.
Last year we went to an abalone festival at Pacific Star Winery north of Fort Bragg (past Mendocino). The day was pretty fun but when we got home I was disappointed to see a giant line appearing in all of our pictures.
I thought the lens was dirty - and it turned out it was - so I did a thorough cleaning on them and called it a day.
Then when we went to Seattle in February the same thing happened.
I called a camera shop in Berkeley that had a pretty high rating on Yelp and was told that I likely had a cracked lens and that the kit lens that came with the Nikon D70 back when I bought it didn't have a long life. So I bought a new lens and it came with us to Hawaii in August.
But there's that same line again!
I wrote to a couple of friends about my frustrations only to have a professional photographer friend tell me (and I'm sure she was rolling her eyes) that I needed to have my sensor cleaned. Duh. Of course, that makes perfect sense. It was more than a bit frustrating though given the conversation I'd had with the camera shop about the situation. I thought I had gotten good professional advice but here was a photographer very clearly diagnosing my problem from afar.
Given that we're heading to Ohio this month which will likely result in several impromptu (and planned) photo shoots of my gorgeous niece and nephew and then to Ireland where a good camera is a necessity, I started researching additional camera shops that I could visit to get this situation rectified. Many of the online message boards encouraged me to buy my own sensor cleaning kit and go with a DIY attitude but if I managed to break my sensor and effectively ruin the camera, I'd have no one to be mad at but me. Not a chance I'd want to take. Several other people told me that if I took it to a shop they'd just send it back to Nikon for the cleaning and charge me $150 for the convenience so I may as well just cut out the middle man and contact Nikon directly. I was also advised that this process would likely take 5-6 weeks.
In the end, after doing research on trusted local camera shops I stopped in to Sarbers in Montclair last Sunday during the annual art sidewalk festival and told them what my problem was. I was nervous because the main feedback I'd heard about this shop was (1) if you're not buying expensive equipment they'll ignore you and (2) if you are buying anything it's super pricey. After waiting in line for 2 minutes they told me they'd clean my sensor in house, I could pick it up the following week and it'd cost me $50. Sold to the man in the red t-shirt! All week I was worried that I'd show up today to pick up my camera and they'd tell me that something else was wrong with it and there was nothing to be done. Alas my fears were unfounded. The problem? I had two hairs on my sensor - one directly on it and another wrapped around some area. I immediately know the culprit -
The man at Sarbers advised me to test out my camera today and if anything looked "off" I could bring it back and they'd figure it out. When we got home I took 6 pictures and I'm happy to report all is well.
Even better, it's finally starting to look and feel like Autumn in the hood.
(Now if I could just get Typepad to upload the pictures as the size I put them at instead of random giant sizes that make everything pixelated and gross looking.)
Yesterday we returned the previously purchased Target rug and then made our way to Costco where the week before we'd seen some very pretty 8x10 rugs. We got to the store only to find they weren't in the same place we'd seen them. I stopped an employee who remembered them being there but didn't know where they'd been moved to. He walkie'd another employee who said they didn't have 'em anymore. We wandered over to the middle of the store and being Eagle Eyes Caudill I saw them from about 100 feet away standing proud in the middle of the "domestics" section.
They only had about 1/2 of the stock they'd had the week before (for instance, none of the red ones were still available) but fortunately for us they still had the green/beige and brown/beige combinations - the colors I was most interested in. Alan looked at 'em and decreed the green too much green so we went with the brown. I had a $100 American Express gift card from work that I've been unable to use because no one takes AmEx these days, so that was a great boon in reducing the cost. (If they didn't take it I was going to use it at REI to buy some shoes.)
We checked out, got the rug home and now it's in its new home looking pretty and warm and inviting. My friend Jen was telling me on Friday evening that her house has too much brown. Well, I think we've joined the club for this room but I don't dislike it. That said, i think the room would look so amazingly gorgeous if we painted all the woodwork a gorgeous antique white to match the ceiling. I think then I'd actually enjoy the orange walls. Alas, that's not something we're going to do anytime soon so it's going to be Autumn in this room all year long.
I really need to get a new point & shoot because these iPhone pictures just aren't doing justice to the things I'm taking pictures of.
The rug that was in our dining room - which is now our living room - has seen (and smelled) better days.
I've been coveting a Fieldcrest brand rug from Target since the first day I saw it, but never really had a pressing need to get it. Until now.
Unfortunately, when we got it home we learned that it is NOT an 8x10 but rather a 6x10 which is a rather strange size - too long and narrow. So, back it goes.
Today we're making our way to Costco to buy the runner up rug we saw last weekend - at a price that is $50 less to boot. Alas, that was a very pretty rug.
When we switched up the rooms a couple of weeks ago, we left the little side table from my grandparents' house where it was and kept the plant and koa wood bowl where they were. Unfortunately that meant I have nowhere to put my drinks or my glasses or anything that I might need convenient access to while I'm sitting here. Earlier tonight I got fed up when I couldn't easily reach my Diet Sprite and so I moved the plant into the dining room and brought a small table light over. Now I have light AND a place to put my glasses and/or drink.
Please excuse the poor picture quality - I took this with my iPhone.
Thinking of buying this bag from etsy seller annyandme for our trip to Ireland. I need something with a zipper closure so my stuff won't fall out all the time. (Yes, this is a common occurrence for me when traveling.)
Edited to add: I think I've decided against the bag. As adorable as it is and as much as I like it and as responsive and nice as the seller has been, it's lacking a key feature that I want in my next bag - an outside zip pocket. The search continues.
Just got a text message from my sister that Josh is heading home!!!
When I spoke with her earlier today he was playing with some rings in his bed, perturbed that he couldn't run around and play.
The doctors wanted to observe him a bit more for signs of infection and run another CT scan later in the evening. Based on her text, I'm assuming he's been given the all clear.
I can't wait to see him, Nora, Jenny and Sean in a couple of weeks. It'll make the trip all the more sweet.