Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend

Thursday May 26, 2016
Today after work Karen, Andrew and I attended a ‘Grow and Know: Berry Picking and Local Wine Tasting’ event sponsored by our local Farm Bureau, of which we are all members (it’s an add-on when you have insurance with Nationwide). Like most people in attendance that night, I suspect this was the first time they too had used their membership for anything. Karen was the first one to see the blurb and immediately texted me. I checked with Andrew and soon booked our tickets. It cost $25 to attend which included one quart of strawberries per person (though no one checked if you couldn’t quite close the lid after picking) and five samplings of wine (though Karen got more since she didn’t get her card punched at every table) along with an assortment of appetizers on offer: cheese naturally, to complement the wine, fruit, crackers and steamed asparagus wrapped with a couple kinds of meat.

My only criticism of the evening was there needed to be more seating as a lot of people seemed to be standing around not having somewhere to set down their plate and cup of wine. Other than that, the evening was absolutely fantastic. The weather was very agreeable – high 70s (but humid) with a gentle breeze and the sun shining overhead. We took turns saving seats at our table while one or two of us went to fetch another sample of wine. Our collective favorite was the 2015 Traminette from Soine Vineyards. In fact, Karen purchased bottles of that for both of us. I especially enjoyed our time chatting while we ate and drank and while picking strawberries. All in all it was a very enjoyable evening out and not too far away (Plain City).

Friday May 27, 2016
Tonight after work Andrew and I drove to our local branch of Micro Center for our free demo appointment to try out the new Virtual Reality system they sell there. Each time slot lasts around 15 minutes with about five minutes to get you in and out of the head gear (special goggles and headphones). There’s several situations you get to experience with one of the first being an underwater experience where you’re standing on the deck of a sunken ship while fish and various sea life swim around you. Even though I had seen it on the TV screen and read about it in advance, nothing quite prepares you for the enormity of the whale that swims up to you, looks you in the eye, and then swims off, but not before a downward tail flip. This gives you some idea of just how puny you are as a human and how absolutely gigantic blue whales are. I was completely in awe.

The Picasso in me enjoyed painting with light (you can switch your background so you’re in space or wherever else you choose) and then Jackson Pollack took over when I started throwing paint splatters everywhere.

I’m sure all the men probably most enjoyed the final demo which was an interactive video game in which you get to shoot down drones. If you miss and they hit you first, you’re struck by a laser rainbow, so it’s not too tragic a way to go. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing it, and was glad to hear Andrew had difficulty with it too, so it wasn’t just me being inept because I’m a girl.

Afterwards I popped in to the nearby Japanese Tea Room and Bakery and bought a bunch of pastries including a couple small sweet potato paste cakes that were absolutely lovely.

When we got home we watched a recording of "I'll Have What Phil's Having," where Phil was in Tokyo. Lucky for Phil the strangest thing he ate was an eel or perhaps a crayfish (which I think was still alive), though his companion wasn't eager to partake. Probably his bravest meal was a super spicy bowl of noodles, after which Phil said, "I need some chocolate," in which he and his traveling companion ate some sort of Western ice cream on a stick. My favorite moment was when he taught a Japanese family about "egg creams." I've heard of them, but since I'm not from New York, I'm not too familiar with them. Apparently there's no egg or cream (though there's milk) in them, so not sure how they got that name. How you make them is you put a little chocolate syrup in the bottom of a glass, followed by maybe half a cup or so of milk, then top off with Seltzer water, which fizzes up a bit like a volcanic eruption. One of the Japanese ladies made a funny face after trying hers and said, "Too sweet!" We bought Seltzer water this week so we can try making these at our leisure. I'll let you know how they taste.

Saturday May 28, 2016
Every holiday weekend, in between doing copious amounts of yard work, I try to squeeze in a project or two. I was planning on constructing my mosaic tabletop, but I still need a few more tiles, so that project is on the back burner for now. Instead, I purchased a couple colanders and some plants and made my own planters as inspired by an idea from Better Homes and Garden magazine. I’m just surprised Martha Stewart didn’t pounce on the idea first.

I planted two kinds of lettuce in the copper colander and purplish colored Bells Garden Rose in the turquoise Pioneer Woman colander. So far I haven’t had to worry about watering either one since it rained both Saturday and Sunday evening.
In the evening, in honor of Russ being in Japan, we decided to finally (after living so close for 10+ yrs) visit Kikyo, our local Japanese restaurant which is perhaps only a mile or so away. We both had had Japanese food previously as we had visited Akai Hana with Russ and I had had sushi on more than one occasion. Hence, it wasn’t very scary staring at an unfamiliar menu. We ended up both ordering a Bento box, but Andrew selected Chicken Teriyaki (since he couldn’t pronounce the name of one of the other menu choices) and California rolls, while I chose the salmon and 3 Fish Sushi for my specialized choices. Also in the Bento Box was a potato dumpling and deep fried vegetables (tempura). You get miso soup and a salad with ginger dressing as a starter. Suffice it to say we were stuffed and had no hopes of finishing everything, so we went home with almost the entire contents of a Bento box between the two of us, which was nice for leftovers.

After we got home, Andrew called me in to watch a short video where a man and his preteen son are in Tokyo visiting a store filled with dozens upon dozens of vending machines. First you have to feed your Yen note into a machine which in turn spits out several tokens depending on how much money you put in, then it’s just up to you to make your decision about what toy you want to purchase. The boy’s first choice was water bottle underwear, which are tiny knickers that look like they would perhaps fit an American Girl doll or something of similar size. Unfortunately for the boy, his had pink stripes, so a little too feminine for his liking. His father suggested saving it for his sister, but wouldn’t trade his pair of more neutral-colored underwear. 

The second choice was a machine containing what looked like little mushroom people with the head of a mushroom and the body of a human. The machine spit out a toy with the mushroom person kneeling as if praying, but according to the translation was actually, ‘severe abdominal pain.’ The father said, “Let that be a lesson to you all what could happen if you eat the wrong mushrooms.”

I think I could probably spend several hours in there trying to choose, while Andrew would probably decide in no time at all. Afterwards we watched the weekly installment of “Flying Witch,” which is an anime about a teenager training to be a witch while living with her cousins and aunt and uncle. Her older sister occasionally makes an appearance too.

Sunday May 29, 2016
Tonight I attended the First Mass of Thanksgiving of Reverend Stephen M. Smith. I’ve known Stephen casually for several years occasionally running into him on the weekends when doing work for the Arts & Environment committee of which I am a member. Stephen was particularly useful when we needed someone with some height since he’s at least 6’5.” One of our other committee members was absolutely thrilled to hear when he’d be ordained and I’m sure she was probably in attendance (which was on Saturday at the Holy Trinity Cathedral downtown), though I didn’t see her at mass tonight.

I had no idea what to expect and the only comparison I can make is that it reminded me a little of a very fancy wedding in which someone of some prominence was getting married. There was trumpet music playing when I arrived, and the Knights of Columbus were all decked out in their robes and fancy hats waiting for their cue to march in. I’m glad I arrived early as the church and parking lot soon filled up.

A choir of seminarians accompanied by the organ and a trumpet provided our musical entertainment for the hour and a half long mass. I have never seen so many clergy in one place as there were at least a dozen deacons/priests along with at least half a dozen altar servers (incl. the son of a family friend who was the official Missal Bearer). As part of the ceremony, near the end of mass Fr. Stephen presented a dozen white roses to the Blessed Mother (the statue of the Virgin Mary) while Ave Maria played quietly in the background.

Before the mass concluded, there was one more final ceremonial duty to be carried out, which was the gift of the Maniturgium to his mother and the First Stole to his father.  

According to:

“The manutergium (from the Latin manu+tergium = hand towel) was a long cloth that was wrapped around the hands of the newly ordained priest after the Bishop anointed his hands with the sacred Chrism (oil).  The purpose was to prevent excess oil from dripping onto vestments or the floor during the remainder of the ordination rites.

According to tradition the maniturgium is placed around the hands of the mother of a priest as she lies in the coffin.  When she arrives to the gates of heaven she is escorted directly to our Lord.  Our Lord says to the woman – “I have given you life, what have you given to me?”  She hands him the maniturgium and responds, “I have given you my son as a priest.”  At this Jesus grants her entry into paradise.”

The stole is what a new priest wears when he hears his first confession, and I believe it confers the same rights to the father as the mother when he enters heaven.

Stephen presented both to his parents in professionally framed large black rimmed display cases that were later on display in the school gymnasium where his reception was held after mass.

After chatting with some friends, I joined the long queue (at the school) who were lined up to receive a personal blessing from the newly ordained Father Stephen. I wasn’t necessarily planning on staying for that, but my friend convinced me to, and I’m glad I did. If nothing else it gave me a chance to personally congratulate Stephen and wish him well at the three parishes of which he will rotate while carrying out his duties as Parochial Vicar. I am both happy for him and a bit envious of this new, exciting chapter of his life upon which he is to embark.

Monday May 30, 2016
Like most Bank Holidays, we did a mixture of chores (pruning all our bushes) alongside a little well-earned R & R afterwards. We are grateful for our neighbor, Dick Miller, who was home and was happy to loan us his wood chipper to help facilitate our yard clean-up after Andrew had liberally pruned a row of skinny tree bushes alongside our east-facing fence. For his first time using a wood chipper, Andrew did a good job and managed not to accidentally cut off one of his own limbs, of which he was warned about by Dick. I couldn’t help but think of that gruesome scene in “Fargo.”

We decided to have our cookout for lunch since it would be our big meal of the day, so I started the grill while Andrew showered and we soon enjoyed our feta spinach chicken burgers with some lovely early in the season corn-on-the-cob (which I haven’t enjoyed for at least a couple of years due to various dental issues).

After lunch I watched the season finales of a couple of my favorite comedies (where in each show the families all go away for the summer; I am so envious!) and then worked on some projects in an art sketch book I bought last year.

Now it’s time for dinner, so I will end this here. Have a good week everyone!

Monday, May 23, 2016


Sunday May 22, 2016
Today was all about time travel as Andrew and I attended the “Bridging Time” event at the Shoppes at River Ridge in Dublin. The event was a mixture of photo ops with celebrities and “time machines,” and a chance to educate the public about Dublin’s plans for a complete revitalization of the area around the river. Plans which include a new bridge and footpath, as well as upscale apartments/condos and new shops and restaurants are similar to what city planners did in downtown Columbus with the Scioto Mile. In fact, one of the activities at “Bridging Time” was to choose a name for the new area by the river. You could select from ten or so already proposed names or write in one of your own. Both Andrew and I, lacking any creativity, just picked from the list.

Since “Back to the Future” is one of my all-time favorite films, I did my own tribute to “Marty” by wearing the ivory sleeveless jacket I bought over spring break, a red and white striped shirt and zip-up hoodie, blue jeans, and white high tops. I dug out an old pair of headphones and plugged them in to a Walkman, donned a pair of Andrew’s sunglasses and my outfit was complete.
"Marty" and Harry Waters, Jr.
The marketers asked us to write something on one of the chalkboards that you “saw in the future.” Luckily I was able to come up with something rather quickly, so I scribbled, In the FUTURE I saw “the Cleveland Indians won the World Series.” If it was up to me I would rather not have had to hold up that board since I felt that distracted from my whole look, but I’m not one to disobey, especially in the interest of getting my photo taken in front of my favorite car of all time (sorry K.I.T.T., you’re a close second after the General Lee), alongside a celebrity from the film. Harry Waters, Jr. who played Marvin Berry, the one who rescued Marty after he was locked in the trunk (cutting his hand making it impossible for him to play the guitar, so Marty steps in for a solo thus creating the inspiration for Chuck Berry to later pen the song, “Johnny Be Goode.”). 

autograph from Harry Waters, Jr. and a photo from the movie
After that I opted to get my photo taken in front of the worst rendition I’ve ever seen of a Tardis. However, the actor playing the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) was fairly convincing (though I have seen better at Ohaycon).

All in all, with the nice, warm sunshine and no long lines, I couldn’t have asked for a more fun morning out.

In the evening we watched the first installment of Stephen Hawking’s six part “Genius” series currently airing on PBS. According to, “In the first episode “Can We Time Travel?” Stephen Hawking challenges three ordinary people to determine if time travel is possible. The fascinating journey of discovery features DeLoreans (3 to be precise), atomic clocks, a giant black hole and a large swath of New York City.”
We both very much enjoyed it, though I’m sure Andrew probably got annoyed by having to pause it every so often to further explain the various theories to me. In the end I think I just about got it. He said the error in my thinking was due to placing too much faith in the flawed science in my favorite sci-fi movies and television programs. Sorry “Star Trek,” “Dr. Who,” and “Flight of the Navigator” I guess your science just doesn’t hold up!

Have a good week everyone!

Monday, May 16, 2016


Sunday May 15, 2016
Since Andrew’s birthday is on Monday (and he opted not to take the day off), we decided to start the celebration a bit early by going out for brunch to Super Chef, which is where I originally wanted to go on my birthday, but changed my mind and we went to IHOP instead.

When we arrived at Super Chef (about an hour later than I anticipated since Andrew wanted to sleep late and I took a shower) it was as busy as I expected and I figured we’d have at least a half hour wait, but we lucked out and were seated within about five minutes.

This is not a place to go to have a relaxing breakfast, and definitely not somewhere to go when you’re hungover. The retro 80s music blares, servers bustle back and forth and conversations intermingle, so, like I said, not exactly a quiet place to eat (at least in comparison to the chain restaurants we usually patronize).

The décor is best described as comic book chic and the servers were all wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle t-shirts. Not sure if the dress code changes with whatever movie is currently in vogue (in which case they probably should have been wearing Captain America/Iron Man shirts.

It was a tough decision what to order being unsure whether we’d ever visit again. I was torn between the Red Velvet pancakes with cream cheese between the layers, or the Reese’s Cup pancakes with peanut butter between the layers. Figuring that was something Andrew would never make for me, nor I for myself, I went with that while Andrew ordered the Bananas Foster pancakes.

We quickly discovered how you make seven 5” pancakes stay perfectly balanced – half a dozen strategically placed toothpicks do the job. You just have to make sure you remove them as you go so you don’t accidentally ingest one.

I gave up about halfway (after requesting some syrup since my pancakes were quite dry because of all the peanut butter) whereas Andrew managed 5 out of his 7 before he called it a day. I’m sure the half a dozen or so people waiting were glad when we capitulated and packed up our leftovers to go. It’s definitely not somewhere to linger, not that you can very easily have conversations over the loud music.

Andrew took the pancakes back to the car and then we decided to walk over to the art museum since that was only a few blocks away. I wasn’t sure what time they opened on a Sunday, but again, we lucked out and were able to go right in. Also, it’s free on Sundays, so that was a bonus.

Having just visited there in December with Russ, we had already seen most of the current permanent collection on display, and the new Picasso exhibit wasn’t yet open to the public, so we just wandered in and out of rooms. I invented a new game to amuse myself. If money were no object or someone was buying it for you, what one work of art would you most want for your house? I didn’t dare engage Andrew in this game for fear he already thinks I’m frivolous enough.
Best (and certainly biggest) inflatable ever!
There were some absolutely beautiful hand painted ostrich eggs in one of the corridors that I enjoyed looking at from every angle. If I had to choose what to paint on one, I think I would have done a hot air balloon like someone else did. I might also have tried to create a basket to go underneath (though this artist did not). We also checked out the album art collection (most of which Andrew said he had already seen) displayed in the basement area of the museum. I tried to encourage Andrew to draw his old band’s logo (Alien) on a piece of black construction paper, a stack of which was set out to attract all artist wannabes. I took a piece home just in case he changed his mind and wanted to do it later.
definitely the funniest egg amongst them
We stopped at the gift shop on the way out, and as usual, I didn’t buy much – just a set of 5 collectable buttons with a selection of some of the works of art in the museum’s permanent collection, as well as an inexpensive (because it’s so small) museum guide and a gourmet blueberry marshmallow treat to surprise Andrew on his birthday (though he met up with me before I checked out ruining the surprise).

We loved the funny labels on all the homemade soaps (which were $10 each). I really wanted to buy one, but Andrew talked me out of it. Here’s two of our favorites:

I know I always say this, but I wish our museum was just a bit bigger. I always feel disappointed when I realize we’ve visited every room. In a way it’s nice because it’s not overwhelming, but I wish they could have maybe added more floors even if they couldn’t spread out more on the current grounds. I suppose the only way that would happen is if their donors increase their pledges. I am not currently a member, so I suppose I am part of the problem.

When we got back to our car, Andrew was a bit chagrined to see someone had dented his front bumper, which he probably wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t seen the note someone left under his windshield. It was nice that they were honest instead of just leaving the scene since no one was there to witness it. Hence, Andrew had probably had enough of bad drivers that day to last him the rest of the week (after being cut off earlier that morning)!

As per usual, I am always sad to get in our car and drive back to the suburbs. It’s nice to go downtown or over to campus occasionally to get a change of scenery, even if Columbus is hardly ‘the big city,’ it’s big enough to suit us. I just added to my Bucket List, ‘Rent an apartment/condo/house located in the heart of downtown somewhere just for a year so you can get a taste of true city living.’ I suppose we could always rent out our house with the understanding that it was only for a year.

Monday May 16, 2016
Here's the birthday boy and some of his pressies:
"Little Britain" mug

thrift store find, but he still likes it
I can't wait until you tell me where we're going for dinner tonight! (any night I don't have to cook is a night to celebrate!) I also have another surprise for you (something I popped out at lunch and bought).

Sunday, May 8, 2016


Even though we couldn't be together today, just wanted to let you know I'm thinking about you....

Photo taken at Franklin Park Conservatory, 2007
Happy Mother's Day Mom!!! (hope you're enjoying your wine and that your Catawba grape plant is thriving : )

Monday, May 2, 2016

Last Week of April...

Thursday April 28, 2016
Tonight was my last pottery class. Like the previous two evenings, it was sunny and warm, so grateful for nice weather to walk there and back (though it’s not that far). I was the second to arrive and received the usual exuberant greeting from Jennifer’s Yorkie, Joy, who was sporting a cute OSU doggie sweater.

Our pots and saucers had been fired, so now all we had to do was paint them. There were so many choices of colors, and not knowing how they would look after they were fired made it difficult to decide. I knew I didn’t want a base color of yellow or green since the other two pieces of pottery I've made previously are already that color. Hence, I chose a blue called, “My blue heaven” which has little speckles in it. Because I had to work around my owl, coils and squiggles, it was a bit fiddly, so I only did two coats (two or three coats was what Jennifer recommended) and am pretty pleased with it. The only odd bit was my two coils that turned out with a matte finish, as opposed to the rest of my pot which was glossy. I ended up painting those two coils a Tiffany blue, but I won’t be able to display the pot outside since the new paint is only interior paint and might run or chip if it gets wet.

I am sad the class is over now, but looking forward to future classes at Cross Studio on Wenwood Drive.

The finished product:

Friday April 29, 2016
Tonight we went to Yellow Brick Pizza and Camelot Cellars in Olde Towne East. We had a Groupon for Camelot Cellars I bought for Andrew at Christmas that was expiring soon, so we thought we’d finally use it (also, Camelot Cellars recently relocated, so we wanted to make sure they were all settled in). Since we weren’t scheduled to visit until 7:30pm or so, we decided to have dinner somewhere close and Yellow Brick Pizza is literally catty-corner from the winery. We decided to split a chicken parmesan pizza and enjoyed watching an old movie on the TV over the bar while we waited for our pie. I love the décor (bumper stickers on the back of all the bar stools), but found the large tribal head mounted on the wall a bit off-putting, but it’s certainly a conversation piece.

Our (medium) pizza was quite delicious and very filling, so I was full after a couple of pieces. Plus, I wanted to save room for our wine flights. I need not have worried since we didn’t actually get as much wine for sampling as we’ve received at most other wineries. The attendant gave us two pours in each of  three glasses, which is probably only about one or two ounces each – the equivalent of perhaps a small glass of wine total. I selected the rainbow flight (two whites and a rose I think) while Andrew got a flight of various reds. When we were done we had a look at the collection on the wall trying to select a couple bottles to take home. We asked if we could sample any and the attendant said it was $1 per sample, and the samples were about the same size as our flights. When Andrew did the math he determined that it was more cost effective to just do random samples (depending on how many you’re allowed). We ended up selecting a Gewürztraminer and a Chilean red to take home. There were a few others that intrigued me, so I hope we can come out for another pizza and wine evening.

Saturday April 30, 2016
I made my semi-annual trek to The Andersons to get some different kinds of meat and wine, since that’s sort of their specialty. For being a bustling Saturday the service was really good. I ended up not having enough time to look over the whole meat counter before my number was called. I decided just to get our usual, which is several sticks of city chicken and some sausages to try (2 mild chicken sausages and one spinach and feta chicken sausage).

I especially enjoyed my time in the wine cellar area, and ended up with about half a dozen rather cheaply priced wines (which I hope will be okay for being bargains). I asked them if they had a box or a wine bag they could give me for my purchases, so I got a box to use. My favorite section is the little sampler sizes like you get on an airplane. They range in price from about .99 to $2.99, so I picked up an assortment. My best buy was a four pack of White Russians for $6 (cheaper than a bottle which is around $15-$20 I think).

Not sure I really saved any money by going to The Andersons rather than Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck), but as we rarely ever visit, I think it’s justifiable. Next weekend or sometime soon I plan to visit Marc’s, and they should be quite a bit more inexpensive than either of the above.

Shortly after I got home and scarfed down some of our leftover pizza, Karen and Mom arrived to pick me up and take me to a local church rummage sale going on in the nearby vicinity. Even though there’s nothing I need, I reluctantly agreed to go along (because I had promised Andrew I wouldn't buy more second-hand stuff after my spending spree last month). I figured since it was already 1pm the sale would probably be over in an hour or so, so I probably wouldn’t come home with much. As usual, I think I bought more than both Karen and Mom (though Karen filled a bag and mom bought a comforter set) as I had the equivalent of about two bags of items and a framed Jackson Pollack poster. My favorite purchase was the last piece of peanut butter pie they had. That really hit the spot! Still, all total, I only spent $5 as it was $1 per filled bag (and I threw in a little extra as a donation).

Here are photos of some of my purchases:

In the evening we were invited to Karen’s house for a lovely meal of lasagna, salad and dinner rolls with wine and mom’s brownies for dessert.

After dinner we piled into our vehicles and made our way to Darby H.S. for their second performance of “Into the Woods.” Having not seen the movie last year, I was glad not to have anything to compare it to. Ashley worked behind the scenes and we were later told she was one of the stage crew who helped move the giant story book sets.

We were quite impressed by the first half and all the happy endings for the characters. Part of me thought that maybe they forgot to give us an intermission and maybe that was it. Sadly, no, there was still more play to come. Those familiar with the story know that not all the characters get their happy ending, so things took a rather downward spiral in the second half with various characters getting killed off by the giant.

By the time the play was finally over, around 10pm, I think the consensus seemed to be that, “it was rather long.” Mom summed it up best for all of us saying she would have been happy if the play had ended at intermission.  If I had known it was going to be three hours, I might have drank a bit more, or brought a snack to eat at the interval, because I was definitely getting a bit antsy as the play dragged on.

I can say the kids acted their hearts out and the quality of singing was fantastic. However, like with “The Sound of Music,” some of the kids’ lines got drowned out by the orchestra, so a little more volume and projection by the young actors would have been a good idea (or have a microphone on stage they can each use).

I am grateful to my sister for getting us great seats in Row H, which made the whole experience a lot more meaningful being so close. I don’t ever remember being able to reserve seats before, but I think it’s a good idea (also so you don’t have to arrive as early to try and get a good seat), and they were only charging an extra $2 per ticket for that privilege.

Ashley was in good spirits when we saw her afterwards mingling with the cast (and she introduced us to her “boyfriend”). I remember those happy, mostly carefree days in high school drama club, especially the night we all went out to see “Nightmare on Elm Street” after our first performance of "Guys and Dolls." I love that Rhys wants to join his junior high drama club next year. Maybe Carter will too when he’s a little older.

Have a good week everyone!