Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Finale

Well today was my last lazy weekday afternoon to spend on the back deck and enjoy my view (all photos). It was sort of crummy and gray out today, but I could still enjoy the fall colors in the back yard. Off to work tomorrow morning, but I will blog later in the week to let everyone know how the new job is going! Take care.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Saying Goodbye

I know I've already posted a bunch today, but I wanted to share this photo I just snapped. This will be the last lazy afternoon I have, hanging around the home office, blogging at my leisure (I will still be on here, never fear). All five cats (can you spot them all?) seemed to sense it and decided to hang out with me today- yes, even Spider who finally came inside after she got wet enough. As much as I'm looking forward to starting the new job next week, I will miss all the extra cuddle time I get with the kitties. It's been a pleasure, and I think it's been important bonding for me as well as them. Hopefully they will just be extra excited to see me now when I come home in the evenings!


So here is my photographic evidence of how much my indoor kitties love to be outside. I just took this picture, it's been pouring rain all morning, but Spider cried incessantly to go out on the deck. She doesn't care that it's raining, she just cozies up under a chair. I got soaked in just seconds taking this photo, but she wouldn't come inside even if I begged her or enticed her with a shake of the treat can. Crazy cat!

The Ultimate Feline Luxury

Okay, I'm the first one to admit we probably spoil our five cats quite a bit, they actually have a whole room in the house dedicated to all their toys and beds and blankets. Our kitties were all strays that we took in or rescues we adopted from shelters, so I don't mind if I can't sit on the couch in the sunroom because they are all lounging on the back of it- they deserve it. But when I found these kitty accommodations on a website, I knew there were other people in the world who outdo us on the spoil-o-meter. Aren't these outdoor enclosures the bomb?? They all have attachments to the windows in the house, so kitty can just go out there anytime she pleases. Our cats are indoor only, even though they get to relax out on the back deck with me. But how cool are these?? And don't ask about the prices, because I would need to find a second new job to afford them (we're talking several thousand bucks here). I thought they were pretty clever and I know my cats would go out there and never come back inside...I think whenever we redo the porch under the deck, I'll try to talk James into making it a screened-in room so the cats will think they've died and gone to heaven!

The Hits Keep On Coming

I've read posts by a lot of unhappy bloggers lately, regarding comments. Seems that a lot of folks out there get upset when they don't receive comments, and I don't understand that. I don't think any of us out here are blogging strictly to receive feedback. It's nice to get a comment, to know that people enjoy your blog or your photos, or to read stories they are sharing about their own experiences. But to get upset because you do NOT get comments, I don't relate to that. One blogger posted about how his hit counter keeps going up and up, but he receives very few comments and he was frustrated by the fact that people were obviously visiting the blog but not leaving comments. One other blogger that I've been reading for a long time eventually removed the comment section so that no one can leave one at all, and he was very open in saying that he rarely leaves them on other blogs. Then there are those who leave nasty or mean-spirited comments (usually anonymously). I guess I've been lucky because I've never received a mean comment, and I certainly don't leave them either. I read a lot of blogs, but like the fellow I mentioned, I rarely leave comments. For me it's simply a matter of time or trying to find the right words to say. It doesn't mean I'm not reading your blogs. If you are listed on my blog roll off to the side, then you can be certain I am keeping up with your blog. I wouldn't have the links over there if I didn't go read you. I just don't leave comments very often. I don't get upset when I write a post that gets zero comments, and I hope that no one else in return gets upset with me if I follow your blog but never leave comments. I thoroughly enjoy everyone that I read, whether I tell you or not!!! In fact, as soon as I finish posting this, I will be starting at the top of my list and working my way down, reading each and every one of you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kitties On The Loose

Today was such a beautiful day out, and I had such a stressful morning (driving all over the south part of Atlanta looking for the lab to do my drug screening for work), I decided to relax with my latest creepy true crime paperwork on the back deck this afternoon. The kitties needed a bit of fresh air and sunshine so I let them all five come outside with me for awhile.

Here is Romeo stretching out and relaxing.

And Romeo showing off one of his vampire fangs.

General never stays out more than a few minutes, and here he is eyeballing the door.

General quickly was back inside, watching from the safety of the house.

And here's Maarten, closely watching the new doggy neighbors next door.

Killer View

I just wanted to share this photo- my dad took it with his spiffy camera during their visit a few weekends ago. This is the view from my front porch, even though my dad did use the zoom lens. I live south of Atlanta, not anywhere near the mountains, but every time I step out my front door and see this scene, it makes me feel like I'm right dab in the middle of the north Georgia mountains. We don't know where this is, we've never been able to figure it out. At night and in the early morning, we can see lights here and there, but we don't know what they're from. A factory? A billboard on the interstate? Farmland? Some quaint little town? I have no idea and probably will never know, it's too far away and we really have no idea how to track it down. But I like pretending it's some cozy little hideaway in the hills, and every morning when I go out to get the newspaper in the pitch dark I take a moment to look over there and see the twinkling lights. I can see it even now, surrounded by the haze of the settling dusk, as I look out the office window. It's a gray round hulk against the backdrop of the evening sky. Better yet, I don't have to share this view with anyone else in the neighborhood because only our house sits on this part of the hill and faces that direction. So it's my own little secret world. Thanks, dad, for the great photo!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

O! Happy Day

Today has been a wonderful day from start to finish, and I don't get to say that very often these days. It started out bright and early with me in the office of the VP of human resources, where I officially signed the paperwork giving me the position of Contract Coordinator, a job that I will start as of next week. My same old company (just a different location), but a new position, one that relies heavily on the use of Excel, which I have barely fuzzy knowledge of. Even better, as I was going in to see the HR person, I got to see my hubby out in the hallway as he was headed to a meeting! (Too bad he is horribly sick with a nasty nasty cold right now.) Even though I've been away from the company these long months of 2009, I get to retain my many years of service, and I don't lose any of the "extra" benefits I earned (like my three weeks of vacation time!), and better still, I'll be making a whopping $2 an hour more with this new job. I know, that doesn't sound like a lot, but for a simple girl like me, working an unskilled office job, it is like winning the lottery.

After my meeting I headed back to Newnan to run a long list of errands, but the weather was so stunning today I didn't mind one bit, even as I was standing around waiting for my SUV's oil change (I stayed outside to soak up the rays). I made a detour to the bookstore, where I picked up a few guides on working with Excel (it's been awhile after all...) and also a few trashy true crime paperbacks (I couldn't resist, I have a weakness for them), one of which is already waiting for me out on the back deck as soon as I finish this post. My afternoon ended with another session with my massage therapist, who I am ever grateful for every time I see her. Now that she has me medication-free, I am almost pain-free as well.

I came home to find a delightful handmade Halloween card in the mailbox from my dear longtime friend Dawn, who is ultra-talented and who always sends me beautiful homemade cards for every occasion. And I did my good deed for today, when I stopped out on the major highway near our subdivision, and picked up a little turtle in the middle of traffic trying to cross the road. James will confirm that whenever I see a turtle, I always make him stop and help it on its way. I had to wait until no cars were coming, and I cringed every time I saw one zooming down the road, closing my eyes until it was gone (I couldn't bear to witness any accidental smooshing of the little guy).

Although most of this week it's been quite cold and windy, and we've had to run the heat both in the house and in our cars, today was so nice (50's) that I was able to shut it all down and open the windows up. You guys who read my blog know how much I love to open the windows in the house!!

Although I've had my fall decorations out for awhile now (above), tonight I'm going to put out the Halloween decorations- my big smiley pumpkin, my bat in the window, and my purple lights out on the bushes to name just a few. We haven't decided if we are going to "do" Halloween yet this year (James says he isn't crazy about it, but he may give in because I love it so much), I'm still going to put the decorations out. A lot of the houses in the neighborhood have done it up right, with scarecrows and tombstones and cobwebs, even a pirate ship with ghosts. Since we live so far out in the country (like, the only subdivision out here), and our house is at the back, I'm not sure if we'll get any kids, but if we do decide to stay in that Saturday night, I will definitely be ready with the candy- the good stuff like chocolate, not the cheap junk. After all, WE get the leftovers!!!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Other Days

Well life for us doesn't stop just because vacation is over. Sunday night we took the MARTA up to the Atlanta Falcons game (below). It was a late one, the NBC Sunday night game at 8:30, against the Chicago Bears. It wasn't sold out, but it was probably the biggest crowd we've seen so far this year. Our seats are on a small row (with only 8 seats), and normally no one is ever on our row but us, but the seats were all full for the night. There were as many Bears fans there as Falcons fans, but I wasn't surprised. Everyone loves Da Bears. It was a nail-biter, and it kept us on the edge of our seats until the final seconds. But Atlanta won by a touchdown somehow. Too many turnovers on both sides that night, but it was exciting.

Knowing that it was going to be a late night, James scheduled the following Monday off. We had to wait around the house for someone to come out and do some work on our garage door, but eventually we headed off for the afternoon. As you can see, below, we have no logs in our gas fireplace. That's because we bought this house new, and the builder did not include them. We've had trouble finding logs, because our fireplace is open on both sides in two rooms. We have to buy double-sided logs. We've had no luck locally, so yesterday we had to drive to Stockbridge (hometown of Collective Soul) to find a fireplace store that carried the logs we needed. We ordered them and hopefully will have them installed sometime next week. We came home this week to very cool temps, 30's at night with a few days that never got out of the 40's. We're ready to have a fire.

Tomorrow morning I have a meeting with the human resources director for a job I applied for back in August. I interviewed for it twice, and tomorrow I go to receive the official offer of employment. Yay. They've completed a background check on me, and apparently I passed somehow?! So by next week, I should be once again gainfully employed full time. It's been a long time coming. I've almost forgotten what it was like to go to work every morning, but I'm looking forward to it. It's with my old company, and where James works (he doesn't want me mentioning it on the blog, but family and friends know it). I'd been with them for almost 8 years back in SC, and James I think has been there 14 years (not sure). So, I'm staying with the company family after all. Can't wait to get started there!

Vegas Photos

Okay, I'm going to do the Vegas photos in one post, instead of a bunch like last time, so stick with me here. This trip was very spontaneous- we planned it about 4-5 days before we left. We cashed in all our mileage points and flew first class out there and back (what a special treat!) and arrived last Monday. Since we did all the touristy things in April (Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, etc.) we didn't rent a car this trip because we knew we weren't leaving the city. As much stuff that is crammed on The Strip, it really is very walkable from one end to the other (less than four miles long). The weather was spectacular, with highs only in the 70's on most days. So, here are some of the photos I took...

Our first morning saw us taking a cab off The Strip to have a late breakfast at Hash House A Go Go (below). We saw it recently on an episode of one of our favorite shows, Man Versus Food, and decided we had to check it out ourselves. Their motto is "twisted farm food", and it was. (I'll have photos over on my other blog about that later today.) Since it was over in town, we had to take a cab, and with the ride there and back, the meal ended up costing about $100 with the taxi fare! Okay, it was crazy, but it was worth it for the experience. And I think we've decided that next time (if) we go to Vegas, we will probably rent a car again. But it was actually pretty cool to be able to see something on TV, and then get to go there a few weeks later in person.

These are photos (below), from the Paris hotel which was right next to ours. The two hotels were actually connected indoors with a quaint cobbled avenue full of shops and dining choices, decorated with stained glass and fountains and statues everywhere. We went back and forth between the two frequently. It's also owned by Harrah's. We went up to the top of the Eiffel Tower our last night there. It's 460 feet up, and to scale, and exactly one half the size of the real one in France. And yes, my vertigo made me want to puke on the dizzying ride up.

So our main reason for going was that James was invited to play in a big two-day poker tournament through Harrah's. Here are photos from day one (James in the second photo with white baseball hat on). It started out with well over 1,000 people in it, and James finished in the money on day two, somewhere up in the top 75. I sat behind the ropes with the other wives and watched as best as I could, but sometimes his table was too far away for me to see him. It was the real deal, just like on TV, only no Phil Hellmuth or Daniel Negreanu. And unfortunately no commentators to let the watching crowd know who had what cards! Not only did James do well in that tournament, but later on that night he played in another one where he picked up a nice fat jackpot for hitting a royal flush! (No, don't come rob us, we left much of the winnings there in Vegas.......)

This trip we stayed on The Strip at Bally's, which is where the tournament was being held. Photos are from the front entrance, as well as the view from our room at night and during the day. We were only on the 15th floor this time, so my vertigo didn't bother me like it did during our April stay at the Rio, as you may remember from that post. Bally's is also owned by Harrah's, as is the Rio. We always stay at Harrah's hotels because we get our rooms for free- well, James will tell you it's not "free" because he has to play in the casino to earn those rooms!!! But being a Harrah's cardholder at a Harrah's hotel offers a few perks- going to the head of the line at the restaurants, discounts at the shops, free meals. So it makes sense for us to stay there.

The Bellagio was right across the street, so we walked over there one afternoon to check it out. This is the mega-swanky hotel featured in Ocean's Eleven, with the lovely lighted fountains at night. It was gorgeous, and they had a beautiful fall display set up in a garden area inside, just beyond the lobby.

Caesars Palace was also right across the street, and we went over there mainly to check out the massive shopping center they have, The Forum. These photos were taken from the common areas of the shopping district, so that may give you an idea of what kind of shops they have there- Dior, Gucci, Fendi, Versace, Ferragamo, LV. I could go on. Needless to say, we kept our wallets to ourselves on this shopping trip! We did stop in at the Serendipity to share one of their famous Frozen Hot Chocolates, it was super yummy and cold enough to hurt you.

In April we were able to collect all the elongated pennies on The Strip- all but the ones at the car museum at the Imperial Palace hotel, which was closed when we arrived on our last visit. So we made sure we took time out one afternoon to make it over there this time. Check out this car- it was for sale for only $2.5 million dollars! Can you imagine? Who pays that much money for an old car? And it wasn't the most expensive one there.

To finish it off, here are a few photos I took from up in the Eiffel Tower. Vegas during the day and Vegas at night are like two different cities. I know NYC is the city that never sleeps, but I think Vegas could give it a run for the money. Literally! We had a great time, and it was an awesome trip, and we made it home late on Friday night. What a long flight, but it was fun and it was worth it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

De Ja Vegas

Hi all- just got home from another week out in Vegas. The decision to go was super last minute, and I'll explain why in a few days. I will post our photos over the next couple of days. We had a fun time, but it's always good to come home and sleep in your own bed again!
(photo taken from our trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Parents Are Here!

My mom and dad (above) are here for the weekend for a quick visit. They got in on Friday morning, and will be leaving out on Monday. They took a few days to meet up with friends in the North Carolina mountains, an area where they visit every year, then stopped here on the way back down to Florida. Soon when my mom gets home she will have to start her radiation treatments, so it was nice to see her and I'm very happy that she's feeling so good right now.

My dad brought up this really cool deer feeder he built for us (below), and he and James installed it at the edge of the woods behind our house yesterday. Hopefully the deer will now be satisfied with the feed we provide them, instead of our flowers and shrubs and vegetables!

I'll be away from the blog for a few days, then I will have a lot of exciting news to post about, and I will check in with everyone else soon.