Saturday, May 31, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

Ahhh! How good it is to be home, with my dog childs and hours upon hours of free, uninterrupted fast internet! HA
Our trip home was quite a long one! People with limbs as long as Erik & I weren't meant for coach seats on a 12 hour flight. Boy was I glad to get out of that seat. We connected in ATL and got home around 6pm after having been up for almost 24 hours. The Brays flight home connected in Chicago and got delayed for SEVERAL hours so i felt terrible for them when they rolled in about 10:30 pm.
It was also exciting to see that my experimental gardening has faired well in our absence. The Carrots are looking kind of huge and our tomato plant that was about 14 inches tall when we left has tripled in size!
The doggles were super glad to see us, although they quickly went right back to snuggling their favorite auntee who is sick with a cold. I also picked up a cold during our layover in the ATL airport. Both doggles furs had grown out so long while we were gone and I see that Flossie has learned how to see herself in the mirror. She has come in here several times this morning, and stared at herself for several minutes at a time. HA
I will put some pics on the blog soon from the trip. Its almost heart breaking to say, but our camera batteries all died the first 3 days and when we went to charge them the converter got a power surge and fried the camera charger... leaving us without a camera for the majority of our trip. Thank goodness for the Iphone! most of the pics you will see were taken with that.
Erik is awake now so I must go get us some food pieces.
Good Day

A Whole New meaning to "Bathroom"....

I made a long list of tips, while on our trip, for those of you who ever want to visit Italy. I really appreciated the tips I got from friends who had been. One of the biggest differences over there is the whole restroom issue. Italians, from what I have seen, have no need in nice bathrooms. They are as plain and efficient as possible. ... and hard to come by too.
Take for instance this pic below. That yellow door is a bathroom, in a closet, shared by every restaurant, bar, & gelato place on that street. ONE bathroom that you have to leave the restaurant to go to.

It's a little tricky because most light switches there are on timers. The switch is never easy to find either, but you better be quick unless you wanna be in some strange stinky room in the dark!
Toilets rarely had seats and were generally really low to the ground, like this one below. That just might be 12" off the ground.
The flusher is a button on the top of that box kind of high up the wall.
Sinks, usually had a floor pedal that you used to turn on, so that if you remove your foot the water turns off. I cant tell you how long it took for me to figure this one out. I was waving my hands all over the place for some hidden sensor. Quite a sight.

So a strange topic I know, but that was one of the most different things over there and its good to know about!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cinque Terre Day 2: The Day I Lost My Mind....

Yesterday was the day I lost my mind. I dont know why, I , the girl who literally took band class to avoid having to go to P.E. thought that I should join everyone on a 7 mile hike through the 5 towns of Cinque Terre. It never occurred to me, even as I looked at all the towns on the mountain side, that I would be hiking UP and DOWN....UP...and DOWN... on a rough rocky terrain, no sidewalks or real stair cases in even increments. After about the first 90 minutes things started getting especially challenging and it actually crossed my mind that maybe i would just lay on the ground and wallow around cursing and crying cause I was so STUCK on this adventure. No way to get back without finishing the treck for another 2.5 hours. UGH totally misery. Heat, Sun, No water, lots of stairs... and a very cheerful husband who was loving every minute of it and smacking me on the but like a donkey saying " its the pain that makes it good babe" which is what he always says when running and it starts getting hard or his body starts hurting... its like his mantra. It almost got him pushed over the mountain side yesterday! So needless to say, I didnt make it the whole 7 miles. More like 5 before I found myself a water taxi and got on back to the beach like a smart non athletic girl should. We all had bad ankles and knees by the end because you are stepping so carefully and sometimes so far down those steep stairs that you put alot of pressure on the joints. Here is a pic of part of the trail in our hotel. They TRY To warn you about the stairs!
The amazing thing about here, and most of Italy that we have seen, is the older generation, and how they refuse to give in to their age. I have seen so many granma's here trecking like no body's business on that trail, getting on and off these wobbly water taxis.. and they dress the part too. Picture Sophia from the Golden Girls but wider and wearing Air Jordans and carrying a Louis Vuitton purse. HA. Seriously. They have major attitude to go with that look as well and aren't scared to yell or push you at any given moment. Its all too funny! Lots of people watching here!
Today we have been shopping around the towns and laying on the beach. I cant bring myself to get into the water but Erik did! Its pretty cold. Beautifully clear and colorful, smells so fresh and is ICE cold! I got smacked in the rib caged today by this ball some German boys were throwing around. Lucky for them the water at my feet was so cold that my whole body was flexed, so it didnt hurt. I went to throw it back to them and made an angry face, kind of joking around but it was lost in translation. Pretty Funny. Anyway tomorrow is Florence and that is where I am most excited to go I think ( because of the shopping mostly) ha...

Here is our meal from last night. Seafood here is interesting. It is basically cooked exactly as it is caught with all the heads, legs, tails, shells etc and nothing is done to flavor it so it can be a bit fishy! Erik eats "gnocchi" every night. ha

Monday, May 26, 2008

Just Wondering.......

.... if anyone is reading this Italy posts? We arent getting any comments except from Jennifer so just wondering if you all are reading them? If not , no biggie but I will just go to bed at night instead of doing all that. ha (its alot harder to blog in Italy than at home) :) arrivederci

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cinque Terre Day 1

Today, we took about a 7 hour train ride to Cinque Terre from Venice. Traveling wasnt too hectic, since we only changed trains once and we got here around 3 in the afternoon. JulieBray was nervous about our hotel because she had seen no pictures of it but we were so lucky because its awesome. Its a actual hotel style place( not like the apartment we had 3 block from the hotel lobby in Venice). It has free breakfast and free afternoon snacks and drinks. It also has internet and nice rooms and nice bathrooms AND an english speaking attendant. Like an American/Italian so communication has been a breeze. The way it worked, when we got here we called the hotel and the baggage man came to pick up our bags and once person. I was volunteered so I went and it was HILARIOUS. Erik was all worried about me cause the man was driving like an absolute fool! But I was totally entertained and laughing. Imagine a fat old man who chain smokes and speaks NO english! That did not keep him from talking to me non stop and boy did he! He also cursed out and yelled at all the people in our way , drove up on the SIDEWALK etc.. It was all funny until his bumper bumped a 5 yr old little girl. I thought I was gonna have an absolute heart attack. I cant believe the mom didn't attack him right there. After that it was alot of grunting and sign language bc he wanted me to walk up these hills to the hotel and he was "supposed" to bring the baggage up for me ( he didn't) but anyway, pretty eventful.
Cinque Terre is by far my favorite town yet. Its gorgeous and on the beach and is so much more laid back and friendly. Lot of people who speak English ( we met a couple from Marrietta tonight here celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary). They are having some sort of Lemon Festival here which is related somehow to corpus christi. They have lemons everywhere and also all these kids in the street making these artworks from flowers. Its a contest.

Our hotel has a roof patio with real lemon trees and rose bushes everywhere. Its awesome!
More to come later. Internet troubles here so I cant stay on long!

**Update: Its morning here now (about 9am) and I forgot to mention some important things in last nights blog. 1 - Hallelujah praise God this hotel has a dang microwave so finally I can have warm bread with melted butter.
2- Last night over dinner we were talking about high school for some reason, and believe it or not, Julie Bray went to High School with JILL TUCKER! So right after she left Monroe academy she went to Ft. Walton and its so funny to me that someone I know in life now, knew someone i knew back when. Nobody but maybe Rachel or momma will remember this girl ..... funniest part was she said (this girl >Jill Tucker who had a big ole butt) and I was like no way it has to be the same girl.... ha and it was.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today is Venice!

Venice is totally cool! We are having alot of fun here but the internet is harder to come by. I will try to do my daily update tonight but I may not be able to.
So for a brief update, today we took a 4 hour train ride which was AWESOME . Like a booth at the pizza hut that we all could face each other but the seats reclined, had an outlet for charging things, food service and bathrooms. Totally rad.
We shopped the plaza today and I talked Erik into buying some col Italian shoes. It was hard, but I won eventually! ha Pics later...
We also had a gondola ride tonight and that was amazing. Lots more English speaking people here too.
Downside is EVERYTHING is so expensive. rah. its hard to get over the cost and the exchange rate. You have to pay extra to sit down at a table... but we have to because our feets are sooooo tired!
Anyway.. pictures tomorrow hopefully.

Oh and one thing I forgot to mention that is wild is there are lots of dog childrens here and they are SO WELL BEHAVED> the owners walk all of them without a dang leash! how is that possible. The dogs just follow their owners so well and all through the streets. I asked a man how he gets his dog to do that and he said (from what I could understand/translate) it is an Italian dog's nature. I love it and Ralphie is totally getting whispered on what I get home! ( I know DO is laughing at this as hard as Erik did when I told him my new plan)


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rome Day 3: We saw the POPE!

So today was the best day so far! We started off at the Spanish Steps in Roma. Right next to the Spanish Steps are all my best friends. Louis, Prada, Burberry, Max Mara, Cartier etc. I BEGGED snugs to buy me a Prada bag but he shot that down pretty quick.....

The Louis Store had really cool steps. Those Green places with prices were constantly changing.

Everyone in Italy has the teeniest tiniest cars. They are so cute. I think its neat that no one over here buys a car for any other reason that practicality. There are no SUVS and no spinners, just really efficient , Environmentally friendly small cars! They also park all over the place with no rhyme or reason and all of them have several dents and scrapes to show for it.
Now this was the coolest thing we have seen since we've been here. Its called the "Church of Bones"
Its hard to believe that something like this really even exists. It is a church completely decorated in human BONES. See pics. Very intricate designs all made with hip bones or skulls etc.Crazy! Click that link above if you want more info.
This is my super cool purchase of the day. A nylon styled motorcylce jacket which just happens to be RAIN proof and have a hood!

Then something crazy happened. Tonight when we were walking home from dinner our whole block was roped off and Police were everywhere so we were super confused and maybe a little worried. As we walked towards the crowds (because they were chanting) we realized the POPE was about to make an appearance. Totally cool. They go nuts for this guy over here. Climbing the walls and scafolding. It was a really neat site watching them carry him in on some cart thingy and singing and all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rome, Italy : Day 2

Today was " The Vatican" and it was very cool. We started early, well rested and there was NO rain.... until we got inside the Vatican, then it rained for hours but I was happy b/c it was gone by the time we got out.
This was a for real mummy they have in the Vatican. They have stuff there that dates back before Jesus! That is hard to wrap your mind around!

Took this for Ralphie & Flossie. Looks like even ole Roman dogs told each other secrets!
All of the ceiling were amazing. Walls too. Its hard to imagine how all of that was constructed and how many hours, days , YEARs it took!
We completely happened upon a penny smashing machine! (hooray! ERik & I are avid collectors for those of you that dont know!)

Then Erik and I toured this castle while the Brays were on their secret Scavi tour.
I totally HEART audio tours. Go at your own speed and fast forward through the boring parts. Ha. I highly recommend downloading these to your ipod beforehand if available and always carrying your own earphones with you just in case.
Our Loot for the day (FINALLY some souvenirs!) My jacket came in real handy since its kind of cold and rainy here. Erik always makes fun of me when i buy clothes and wear them in the town like a total tourist.
Here at the Trevi Fountains. Erik is making that face bc he loves my jacket so much! ha

So in summary. We are learning to be better Europeans. These peeps are ROUGH. They push and yell and carry on a lot and if you dont do it too you are a door mat, so we are learning how to not get trampled at all these exhibits. Gelato of the day : Tiramisu.
We had a great dinner tonight and are now about to go to bed. Its 6pm ya'lls time!
Even though I am here, I am totally following all the rumors of the possible June 9th announcment/release for the new 3G iphone. BRING IT. Sooo exciting..

PS we sent out postcards today. we wrote then while standing up in line so I hope you can all read them and appreciate the ridiculous amount it cost to send them ha.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 1 :Rome, ITaly

We made it! We are here in Rome! We arrived at 8 am (Rome time) Tues. morning and have not slept in about 2 days. We did attempt to sleep on the flight as you can see below! We all got about 2 hours (of odd ) sleep each.

Right upon arriving we all noticed ( and were surprised by) the amount of Graffiti here. Its everywhere and I do mean EVERYWHERE. It is the prettiest graffiti I have ever seen though

And not too long after we got to our hotel to drop off our luggage (it was too early to check in) we went off being tourist, and it began to rain. And Rain and Rain and RAIN.... all day LONG.
I tried to make a run for cover under a balcony and apparently so did every Italian bc there was no space for me so I was stranded in the downpour and got completely soaked as a result.
Total cuteness when you are running on 2 days no sleep/shower and then get drenched. I am sure all the uber cool europeans were impressed. We went to this restaurant to wait out the rest of the rain. I ordered Panna something or other which is cooked milk cream. Totally delish.. kind of like custard with a rasberry sauce on it.
Then off to the Colleseum. (marshallcolquett - forgive my mis-spellings but Im too tired to look them up). Rome is full of crumbly old buildings and they are so neat.
Here you can see the canals where water would run and such.
Then, based on all the expert advice from friends we got some Gelato which we will do every day! Today was chocolate and fabulous.
Then, most impressive sight of the day was the pantheon. Absolutely enormous and I cant figure out how they made such things without the technology we use today. Very cool.

So that is it for day 1. We made it through with no sleep, without getting pick-pocketed, and had some good food.
Souvenirs purchased: 0 (thats a miracle for me)
Gelati eaten: 1 cone chocolate
Sites Seen: The Colleseum, The parthenon, the arena
Lots of fun foreigners here to observe. Lots of Adidas, and Le Sport Sack gear! ha Good times. Stay posted. It is now 8:20 pm and I must sleep.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm in the clear!! HOORAY

Whilst Awaiting My Fate....

So we are here in Chicago Airport, hoping and praying they will let me on the plane with my wonky ticket name. I am about 90 % sure they will at this point b/c Delta has assured me of this, but I cant relax till the ticket is in my hand. So we rushed over to our gate and NO ONE was working! Of coarse it cant be that easy! So we are sitting here with all of the employees waiting on the gates to open at 11:30. They are playing music on their phones and dancing. This guy is quite entertaining. Once he saw the camera it was ON. ha Enjoy.

And we are off with a bang!!

My passport is in my maiden name while my ticket is in my married
name! Rah! Thats alot of fun at 6am pre coffee & breakfast!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kathy & Mike's Son Samuel

Look how cute he is! ha This is Samuel (kathy & Mike's son that was born last fall) Kathy is Stevie's mom. Anyway "me" is also one of her sons and he is soooo funny and cute. Go read his comments on the " This is not gonna help my fitness plan" blog about the cupcakes.
Love them! Kathy - Erik says we must see them soon! (and we need to get David a Birthday Present! ) Love you guys!

Thank YOU TJMAXX....

About 2 years ago, .. I saw this book in TJMAXX on sale and I bought it for like either $12 or $24 ... and Erik face was SO irritated saying it was a "ridiculous thing to buy" well... I have a feeling when we get to Italy and he is dying for his coca-cola and they cant understand him, All i have to do is point to it in this book! HA
Its a book full of pictures used to communicate with in other countries! Perfecto!
so HAHA snugs!

Um I would like a piece of Brocalli THanks!

MaJAH disaster before our Italy Trip!

Its 4:26 on a Sunday and Snugs has just called to tell me he lost his EYEGLASSES whilst cutting the grass at the Brentwood house. OH! NO! we have less than 2 hours on a Sunday to find someone who can make replacements BEFORE we leave tomorrow morning!

UPDATE: It is 7pm and he has just arrived home with NEW glasses. By the Grace of God he was able to find someone to make him new ones! HOORAY. Close call otherwise the trip would have been busted b/c he wouldnt have been able to see anything. So I had a self talk and realized I should always have an extra pair of glasses for him since they are necc for life.

Interesting Site

This is a site, that will advise you when its a good time to buy Apple products based on the market and if they will soon update something. Pretty neat

The Ressurection of my White Macbook!

So, some big news. Do you guys remember the death of my white macbook via Stevie? Yeah, well I was numb and depressed for a while and the estimate to fix it was close to $1k which is almost like buying a brand new computer... so for months I have been using Erik's computer. This week, I did some research and discussion, and I decided to take my macbook to MacAuthority.
It will be considerably cheaper, upon all preliminary estimates, and when I get back, it will feel like I have a new computer as it will have a new hinge, hardrive, more memory etc. I don't know what I will do with myself!
At the risk of sounding like a complete nerdy weirdo, I must admit that I was emotionally attached to that computer. It was a really special gift from my Erikface, at a special time, and I was so upset over the sentimental aspect. SO upset. Then you can add to that the loss of all of my pictures, music and I was completely devastated.
Good news on the horizon though! And after all these months, I think I finally have the motivation and patience to re-add all my stuff on that computer.
In other Apple news, I have been saving pocket change and rolling it since the last Iphone purchase. I then take the cash and put into a special bank which sits on my desk. Last night, Flossie knocked thank bank off my desk, broke it open and took that big wad of cash and hid it.
I found the piece of paper that was around the roll counting the balance in the Living room so that is how I knew she had done this. Lucky for HER that I know her so well and knew where to look. I found all my dolla bills spread out everywhere on the floor in our closet (her favorite stash place) and only a few had been nibbled. It could have been disastrous though!
Lesson Learned. Money Moved.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

T- Minus 1 Day Now ! Italia qui veniamo

Just 1 more day and we will be gone ! The Brays are arriving tonight. Marti Goeman & Juliel are splitting the time we are gone to stay here with the doggles. Ralphie is really excited about his guests, and I am really relieved to know they are in good hands.
I will do my best to Blog from over there so you guys can see what we are up to. I have tried SO many things to get our 13 page iteniery (with pictures!), that JulieBray made, on this blog and I cant figure it out. So we be going to Rome, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Step By Step Oooohh Baby!

Um, I have to admit I am totally excited about the NKOTB reunion! I LOVED Them when I was younger. They were the FIRST concert I ever went to (thanks mom & dad)! I had a huge crush on Joey McEntire who ironically greatly resembles my other musical love Jason Mraz.
I was sort of disappointed though when I saw THIS video of their performance on The Today Show. They seemed like they had some good moves but were off key and sometimes out of sync. Maybe that is just age? or maybe that is the odd outdoor setting acoustics? Who knows.
But I do so wanna see them on tour! Check my original New Kids Button from like 4th grade!

More Dramaz....

Yesterday, When I woke up, this was the first thing I read:

"hey f***you and your fees you sent me a bogus juicy hoodie it was in horrible condition and you couldnt have missed it it was noticable damage! you said it was in excellent condition i just want my money back im not filling anything out until i get exactly what i paid out i had to ship the f****** thing back and im not asking for that money yet i should. So if you want a good ebay reply send me my money bitch!"

Now if that doesnt bring sunshine and smiles to your face.. what will?
That email was followed by a few more, of similiar language (I edited so as not to offend anyone). I was completely frustrated b/c this person bought a hoodie from me, i shipped it. they refused delivery and it was sent back to me UNOPENED. So I didnt understand how they could be so upset claiming fraud etc if they had not even opened the package. I was also annoyed b/c if I were to refund them I would be out about $10 in fees & shipping. It was quite frustrating, however I am getting better at handling this situations b.c I didnt retaliate with the emails. Good for me, (Mamma you can pat me on the back now!). That was one of the rare times my brain started working BEFORE my mouth!

Anyway, that went on all morning, and since it started out a crap day, I decided to deal with all the other unpleasant things at hand. You know those calls you dont want to make or things you put off cause you know it will tick you off .. well that is what I did for about the first 4 or 5 hours of the day yesterday. Networking our computers & printers, calling about my ipod on the fritz, taking my phone to get fixed b/c I spilled root beer in the receiver, etc.
By the end of the day, I was feeling good. I got a lot of yucky stuff done! (I can now print wirelessly from anywhere in the house, hooray!)
Then late last night, I get an email from that same buyer, asking where her item was and that she thought she had paid for it. I replied with , "remember me?, the one you cursed out all morning long" and then I get this email:

"i am so sorry that i wrote you those messeges they were not intended for you i had bought a juicey hoodie that was completely destroyed i never recieved your coat and my wife was looking so forward to having it in her collection. my apolligies to you please resend to XXXXXXX unit e olympia , wa 98501 and i will repay your difference in shipping lxxxx bxxxx's axxhole husband doug"

So that was never even meant for me anyway. Ha oh well... and the ebay craziness continues.
What is more interesting about this though, is that since I now hardly sell Juicy anymore and mostly sell only J.crew my customer base is COMPLETELY different. Much nicer in fact!

Granpa's Political Corner: Trade Agreements

I read an article in the news paper this morning "Colombia Trade Pact in Limbo". I was interested and had previously written to my representatives in Congress asking them to vote against this agreement.There has been a fair amount of effort recently as I understand Bush has been pushing Congress to pass the agreement. I understand Bush invoked the fast track authority Congress had previously granted to the presidency and gave Congress 90 days to accept or reject the already signed agreement, no changes allowed. Congress changed the rules and elected not to take up the agreement, effectively blocking any action.

I am told that under the Andean Trade Preference Act, already in place, that Colombia already has an advantage over the USA. It seems that more than 90 percent of Columbian products enter the USA duty-free and our exports to Columbia face tariffs up to 35 percent and even higher for some agricultural products.

I have not seen the proposed agreement but, like NAFTA, I will bet that there is a whole lot covered other than "free trade" agreements. Colombia already sends more than 90 percent of its products duty free. What else are we going to give them? "Free Trade" with Columbia seems pretty simple to me. We do not have tariffs on 90 percent of Columbia's exports to the USA, Columbia has import tariffs of 30 percent or more on products from the USA. If Columbia wants more imports from the USA why does it not remove the tariff barriers it now imposes? If Colombia refuses to reduce tariffs why don't we impose similar tariffs on Colombian goods? Isn't trade suposed to be a two way street?

I suspect the answer lies in the details of the proposed "free trade" agreement. The American people should demand that the details of any agreement should be made available to us before it is considered in Congress. Do you have any idea of the scope of things covered in the NAFTA agreement, other than "free trade"? We must demand representation from our elected officials.

Granpa Graham

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What The Heck are These?

Today, I was walking my doggles in the front yard, when I came across these. At first I can honestly say I thought they were the legs of a chicken. The were poking up out of the ground! with claws up at the top. Then I thought maybe it was like a crab claw or some other seafood-ish item.
But alas, it is instead some fungi, with a totally rancid smell. That explains the odor on my doggles lately. I thought we were having gland issues again.....

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