Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Let's Have a Singalong!

I'm leeeavin' (leavin')
On a midnight train to Georgia (leavin' on a midnight train to Georgia--woo woo!)

Okay, fine. So I'm not leavin' on a midnight train to Georgia. I'm leavin' on an 11 p.m. train to Chicago. Close enough. In Chicago we'll rent a car and drive to Minnesota for my new niece's baptism. There will be lots of Forced Family Fun, as well as a visit to one of my old college roommates along the way. A good time will be had by all. But what I really want to talk about today is Amtrak.

Now, my father is an airline pilot, so I have done more than my share of plane travel. And I used to have no problem with flying. It was my preferred way to travel. But now? God save me from the airplane. I can't be the only one to have noticed (can you hear the sarcasm?) that air travel really sucks the big one these days. The ridiculously early arrival time at the airport. The interminable waits at security, at which you have to take off your shoes. The over-crowded, claustrophobic, funky-smelling planes. The numerous connections. And the cost for all of this unpleasantness. Oh my God, the cost. It was going to cost us over $800 to fly to Minnesota. And I was assured by A. (who has driven from New York to Arizona more times than I can count) that the drive from here to Chicago is not particularly exciting.

Enter Amtrak. Oh Amtrak, how I love thee. $250 for two people to take the overnight train to Chicago (and come home). And then, after I made the reservations, A. found out he was going to have to go to some hearing for work the night we left and wouldn't be able to make the train. I started freaking out, being so accustomed to the total inflexibility of the airlines, thinking that we were totally screwed and out $250. But then I called Amtrak and was assured that they would just change our tickets to the next city down the line (which is about the same distance from our house as the city I had originally booked us out of), which had a later departure time, and hey, since it's closer to Chicago, we'll refund you $30 for your tickets, ma'am!

Can you imagine this kind of reaction from an airline? Nuh uh. No way. They'd be all, "Well, I guess we can change your tickets. If we have to. SIGH. The only flight available leaves at 5 a.m. That'll be an extra $1,000 per person and your firstborn child. And don't forget the extra charge to check bags." But Amtrak was pleasant. They were helpful. They were accomodating. And considering they were taking so much of my money, that's only right. Right?

So tonight, we will arrive at the train station half an hour before our train leaves, park our car for free, walk right onto the train, stow our bags (which are full up with liquids--wheeee!), and settle into our seats. A. will probably sleep. I will probably not, because I can't really sleep anywhere but in a bed. And at 9:30 a.m. we will roll into Chicago with an extra $550 in our bank account and four whole days of fun road trip ahead of us.

Amtrak, I salute you. You're affordable, relaxing, and best of all, not assholes. And God bless you for that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inside, I'm One Big Joyful Yell*

Yesterday was a big, big day at Blackrock. I have two ridiculously exciting pieces of breaking news:

1) The first ripening tomato has been spotted. I've been red with jealousy at Finny's ripe tomatoes for awhile now, and now I have one of my very own.There are actually a few, and one that should be ripe before we leave. It had better be, because if I miss the first ripe tomato of the season, I shall be very put out. (Name that movie!)

2) Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce the advent of the first clothes dryer to ever grace Blackrock. Imagine my excitement, if you can, at the thought of never again having to schlep to the laundromat in winter, not having to race outside to save the almost-but-not-quite-dry clothes from the clothesline during a downpour, and then having to drape them over every available surface inside. I can dry my clothes whenever I want. I'm telling you, I am aquiver with joy. Low standards can be a good thing sometimes. I'm getting so spoiled. What could be next--a dishwasher?

Let's not go overboard, now.

*This is a quote from the book "Farmer Boy," by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Have you ever read this? If not, go read it. It's set in upstate New York. I LOVED the Laura Ingalls Wilder series when I was a kid, and in fact just re-read this book. I find it a little disturbing how much I identify with the lifestyle in "Farmer Boy." Of course, there is one important difference between the Wilders' life and mine. They never had a clothes dryer. And I do. YES!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008


I had this post all but written in my head, about A.'s impressive trench-digging skills and his masterful use of a pickax. I even had a photo all ready to go of him swinging said pickax. Then I left the camera outside. Then it rained. Really hard. And now the camera appears to be dead. Shit. It's not even my camera--it's the MiL's. Double shit. So my next trip to Town will include a visit to Circuit City, a place that is most emphatically not my scene, man, but which will allow me to purchase a replacement camera quickly.

All this to say that you will not be seeing photos on this site for awhile maybe. But that's okay, because we're leaving Wednesday night for five days anyway, so you won't be seeing much of anything on this site for awhile.

Oh, have I not mentioned that yet? Yes, we will be going on a real, actual, honest to God vacation. And no, I do not have a laptop with which to update while on the road. I don't even have a cell phone. Now you can see why Circuit City isn't my scene--the farm store is more like it.

ANYWAY, start stocking up on tissues for the tears that will no doubt flow like a river upon my departure. I recommend Puffs with lotion to avoid the dreaded chapped nose.

I can't believe I killed the camera. Shit. Again.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cop Out

So we ended up having this impromptu dinner party last night, at which I fed seven people and then did all the dishes. I didn't get to bed until 11 p.m. OH, THE HORROR. I know, it's lame, but I've already explained my freakish need for sleep. So let's just say I'm tired and having a hard time coming up with anything interesting or coherent to write (not that I'm always interesting or coherent when I'm not suffering from lack of sleep). And what do I do when the words are not spewing forth like they normally do? Throw pictures at you, of course!

So here we have MY BAAAAABIEEEE. Otherwise known as Mia. Enjoy. And if you don't . . . eh, come back tomorrow when I'm more rested.

Can you identify her oh-so-fun toy?

It's an empty container of motor oil. This dog is such a woodchuck.

Good thing she's so cute.