Summer Nights With Friends

More about this day can be found on https://chrissie.blog/2019/11/02/summer-nights-with-friends-part-2/

**For the month of November each year, I try to focus on something I’m thankful for each day. It is the month that holds Thanksgiving where I live, after all. Focusing on the positive and remembering the little things that make life great are things I should do more often. Last year I found that writing every day during the holiday time got a bit stressful. So this year I’m writing throughout the year and scheduling the posts to go out in November.

Mountains in the Mist

Spring warmth was teasing the leaves out into the open, and after days of rain we were ready for some fresh air. It was the first Saturday in a very long time I didn’t have to work, and we had a friend nearby ready to hang out.

We decided to hike in our backyard rather than on Mount Greylock as initially planned. Snowboarding down a slope uses very different muscles from hiking up a slope, and the first incline immediately reminded me of how out of shape I was. But the views were so great we just couldn’t stop. I don’t mean just views of the valleys. I mean the simple, nearby views. Animals getting spring busy and snow melting and amazing layers of rock. Those sorts of views.

Hiking at Jiminy Peak,
View from the hill
Cool rock layers

As we went higher up, we crossed into the fog zone. That was fun. Usually I get off the lift and board through that then break out of it as I go lower. It was wild doing that in reverse.

Since it was so foggy, I didn’t get a shot of the Zephyr – my favorite windmill. But Chris did find a little salamander (we actually saw two, but I just photographed one).

Little orange salamander

We reached the top and headed down. This was the tough part for me. A bunch of years ago I hurt my knees and have had trouble going down hills since. Not gonna lie, it was pretty excruciating. I walked backwards down the final quarter-ish of the hill, which helped a lot.

After I got back to my home later I was researching options. Next time, I think I will try walking sticks. I also learned that contrary to instinct I should lean forward when feeling the pain and try to walk faster (but not so fast my nose kisses the ground 🙂 ). I slowed down and leaned back. Wrong move. Ah well.

Of course, I had to get an image of a mini waterfall for Aunt Anne.

small waterfall

And for me — I got a picture of my favorite flower.

dandelions

All in all, we walked a bit over 3 miles, and it took 2. 5 hrs. We wrapped up the day with one of my favorite games by the pool.

card games by the pool

See what I mean? A perfect. day!

AFK and Blogging

Well, technically I’m not afk if I’m blogging, but I am away from keyboard for work-related customer-support-type stuff. This was going to be an interesting time off, I thought as I headed into my 11-day break. It was one of the first vacations I had in a super long time that had no real agenda. And best of all, I was not feeling like I needed a break.

Now that I’m a few days into the relaxation time, I’m realizing I might not have listened to my body well recently. Twice now, I have slept almost 12 hrs at night, even after taking naps. I didn’t know I was quite capable of such sleep.

tired jet lag GIF

When I’m not sleeping, I’m reading, or yakking with visiting friends or hiking or shopping or watching movies. I’m also honing my CSS skills for fun, taking a Treehouse courses. And I’m indulging in writing time.

Did you know that I have fodder for blog posts that are a year old? How embarrassing. Over the next few days you will probably see me writing about a few past events that were year-highlights for me.

One of the things I love best is how it takes one down memory lane so you can re-live pivotal moments in life. And it’s handy when you want to share these events with people.

In the past two months I found myself using the resource a few times. Once I was trying to explain the beauty of the iceburgs on Lake Ontario, especially as they break up. Then I remembered I had blogged about it, and could easily share the images. Then one day Hudi asked me about my recipe for bread, and Mollie asked for my recipe for yogurt. That one was hidden in my recipe for sour cream, but it’s in there.

And sometimes it’s just for sharing goofy family stories. Hudi mentioned they had a Henry in their apartment, and Chris and I knew what he was talking about, but Mollie didn’t. We caught her up on the basic idea of Henry, but linking her to a record of the account while it was fresh in our brains really gave her more understanding.

I love blogging. And this week while I’m still afk, I am also indulging on reading other people’s blogs from my Reader. I’m off to do that now.

Porch Work

Working on the porch
Working on the porch

One of my favorite things to do in Massachusetts is to walk from my place down to the main lobby, grab a cup of coffee, and head out to the front porch for an hour or two of work. Since I work from home, it can get quite isolating.

When I’m on the porch, people come and go around me, and I love hearing all the different accents, and feeling the energy around me. Since most people are there on vacation, it’s a very happy place generally. There are lot of people from the New York city area, and I have to admit that I feel like I’m home listening to their accents.

I grew up on Long Island then moved to western NY, where I spent a few decades. I hadn’t noticed that I missed the accent, but when I hear the accents around me, it feels so right.

Chairs on the porch

Aside from the general conversations and energy mentioned, I love the view I get. In particular, I love when it’s raining, and I’m cozied on the porch, under shelter, listening to the rain fall as I work, looking at a beautiful view when I glance up. My image collection doesn’t have a record of that, so I will try to get that photo sometime in my future. But I bet you can imagine hills framed by rain and immerse yourself in the beauty of that mental image.

And then there’s one of my favorite parts of porch work. I have a work buddy who is there almost every day. It’s really tempting to offer treats, but I don’t. And yet, the little one still comes regularly to check things out. So fun!

The Buffalo Community

2018 Hudi and MollieWhen I hear the word Buffalo, I am immediately filled with happy memories of western NY. It holds my favorite zoo, memories of great evenings eating chicken wings–listening to jazz and small bands, jaunts to Niagara, awesome WordPress meetups and WordCamps, picking up my kids from the bus station, and the city’s airport was the origin point of many of my own journeys. All that to say I was really happy when I was pinged at work by a colleague asking if I wanted to work at an event in Buffalo. Now that I have moved to northern NY, I don’t get to go to Buffalo as often, and I miss it.
Homemade Yogurt at Hudi and Mollie's 2018Last Sunday, Chris and I threw our golf clubs, baggage and a futon into Zippy (it constantly amazes me to see what our Honda Fit can hold) and headed out.
On the way to Buffalo, we stopped in Rochester, where our youngest son now lives. It was such a treat seeing Hudi and Mollie thriving in their beautiful home, and the futon looks like its sole purpose of existence was to find itself in their guestroom. They served us some fantastic vittles (homemade yogurt with homemade jelly mixed in, mint iced tea, etc) and talked about their next stages of life.
Years ago, when we were homeschooling, we were part of a co-op where our kids attended classes of their choosing. Hudi took an international cuisine class from the food blogger, Rebecca Lindamood. It greatly inspired him, and he continued on with some private cooking sessions with Rebecca. Next thing we knew he was off to college to learn more about the topic. Hudi recently graduated with a degree in culinary arts and is now working as a banquet chef. We were fortunate to catch him on his day off.
After leaving them, we met with one of my colleagues at Bob-O-Links – a golf course that has lights so everyone can enjoy evening golf. We love Sam, and hadn’t seen him in a while so it was fantastic catching up with him. Since Automattic is a distributed company, we work together online almost daily, but the face-to-face thing is a rare treat.


Some of my friends from my former home figured out we were in the area and drove to join us for an evening on Monday. One more night at Bob-O-Links 🙂 Chris was very happy to have another night of golf and to see Bob, while I chose to walk around then sit and relax for a time of chatting with Pat. What a treat!
2018 Facebook Community Boost
We were there for the Facebook Community Boost event where the Ignite Buffalo winners were announced at the end of our time together. Through this event one million dollars plus mentoring were gifted to Buffalo Businesses. Seven finalists competed for $100,000 business grants (4 got them, and the other three got $50,000). And 20 other businesses received $25,000. You can see the winners listed on this event writeup.
It was a somewhat exhausting, yet completely inspirational event. My colleagues Zandy, Marjorie and I had pretty non-stop 1:1 sessions with people, helping them set up WordPress sites and WooCommerce stores. Chris was there for business sessions, and learned quite a bit, but he also ended up spending a lot of time helping us at the booth, answering questions. It was super exciting to see so many people interested in creating sites.
There was a final event where the finalists gave their pitches, and the judge’s results came in. My job was technically done there for the week, and I was tired. My plan was to stay for a couple of pitches then leave, but we all agreed that we couldn’t. It was all too well-done and inspirational. Marjorie, Chris and I ended up staying for the entire thing. Two hours flew by, and next thing I knew, we were cheering along with everyone else as the winners emerged from the list of finalists.

Heading back to the hotel we stopped in a local ice cream shop for dessert. (Food was available during the pitches so we had already eaten wings and delicious hors d’oeuvre’s that we called dinner.)
The server at Jerk’s was excited to see Marjorie, since he had attended the session she led earlier in the day. We  discussed business with him and his dad, who owned the delightful shop, then enjoyed malts and ice creams at a table outside as we watched trolley’s go by. What a perfect way to end the day. Wish I had gotten pictures, but I was embracing the enjoyment of the moment so I didn’t even think about it.
As the dad was cleaning up for the night, he was telling us about the changes he has seen in the recent years. It does seem like Buffalo is coming back to life with businesses. It was very encouraging.
The next morning I was able to relax and reflect on the visit a bit before we began our journey back home. One person that stood out to me during my time there was a woman who I met with to help set up a website to highlight her Om Nohm Gluten Free products. She was one of the finalists who had already received $25,000 and was so excited to have the chance to invest in her business.
During the week prior, I hadn’t had a ton of extra time, so while I glanced at my social media, I didn’t look at it too closely. I did on Thursday morning and discovered that the Rebecca I mentioned earlier (the one who mentored my son) had been posting about her sister – a finalist in this event. Guess who she was? Yup, the Om Nohm owner. How cool is that?

There we have it.
Community.
Helping each other.

It’s what it’s all about.

Dogs and Duckpin Bowling

IMG_5573.jpgI knew the bowling alley was going to be awesome when I walked in, and a beautiful, sweet dog greeted us. The greeting was the beginning of a very fun evening.

A year or so ago, Chris came back from a trip to Connecticut telling me about a great evening he had with his friends. They had been duckpin bowling, and Chris thought I should give it a try. I’d never heard of it, but thought the name was awesome. Turns out it’s definitely a legitimate thing, and I got a chance to play on a visit there last month.

Chris thought I might like it since I enjoy bowling, but I have physical limitations so I have to super careful if I play, and it often puts me in pain for days when I use a regular bowling ball. In duckpin bowling, my limitations are not an issue. The ball is slightly larger than a softball and doesn’t weigh much at all!

One of my favorite parts of the evening was watching Chris and his friends enjoy time together. They’ve known each other pretty much their whole lives. Since there were a bunch of us playing, and many had to work the next day, we were playing three lanes at a time and rotating. I love this image where by coincidence the three buddies were all taking their turns.

IMG_5557.jpg

 

 

 

The Swing Thing

IMG_4623.jpgSeven weeks ago tonight, Chris and I embarked on a new adventure. For the first time in both our lives, we attended a professional dance class. Why? Well, rewind three years.

I was out in Utah at my very first Grand Meetup (the one time a year everyone in the distributed company I work for gathers together to learn, collaborate on projects and enjoy some bonding over fun events). I had just finished attending a class on public speaking when I joined a group of co-workers in a East Coast Swing Dance class. It was so fun, the class went on for hours. Due to its popularity, the class continued a year later then again when we all met in British Columbia. Then again this year. They even added a new class for those who had been there the year prior, so we could learn more than the basics.

When I went home, I raved about it to Chris. Seeing that I was still excited about it after all that time, he agreed to look into lessons. So I started researching. It’s not that easy to find a dancing tutor or class in northern NY, I found. Local places didn’t respond to messages sent through the Internet or call back when I left messages on machines. Word of mouth requests got me nowhere.

Totally saddened/frustrated by this, I contacted Dennis, the co-worker that introduced me to swing dancing, and he kindly agreed to give Chris and me some lessons while we were all at a WordCamp together. Then I got ill, so that didn’t work out. Last February and last June, when we visited CJ and Lauren in Utah, we had made plans to go to a lesson and dancing with other co-workers, but those plans fell through as well. 🙁

IMG_4624.jpgWe looked into Internet classes, but they weren’t really working for us. Then, just when I was about to give up on it all, I hit the jackpot and found the Steve Ryan dance class 50 minutes from our home. With Zippy (a name we have started calling our car), that trip is a smooth one, and it’s 3/4 of the way to the resort we bought season passes for so we can snowboard so we can do both when winter hits 🙂 I lucked out in the fact that the class is Thursday nights, and my “weekend” is Thursday and Friday so I don’t have to work the next day.

The thing is that this is West Coast Swing (very linear). Not East. So it was brand new for me. And certainly new for Chris. We are both terrible (yet learning). But it’s super fun, and the instructor is patient, and the other class members are very kind. Many have dance experience so they share their knowledge, too, as we rotate partners. We are really enjoying getting to know new people and exercising in this fun way. Zeb and Bri have joined us a few times as well, and they are fun to practice with at home during the week.

Twice a month, there is a dance on Friday nights at the studio. I think we are almost ready to hold our own on the floor (with very basic steps). Anyway, our 7-week course is up, but we’re signing up again for the next round, beginning next week. We are taking the beginning class again, just to get solid on it, then right after that (during the next hour each week), we will take the advanced beginner class to learn more steps.

It was a long time coming, but well worth the wait!

 

Luke and Jessica’s Wedding

Bridal ShowerLuke was approximately a year old when my fiancé and I had the opportunity to babysit him (my fiancé‘s nephew). Little did I know at that time that the tiny baby I had in my arms would be celebrating his own walk down the aisle a little more than 25 years later.

Yet somehow there we were, packing our gear into our Honda Fit and heading off to Connecticut for an incredibly beautiful wedding. Zeb and Bri are staying with us for a while so they were able to come along with Mom, Chris and myself.

After dropping Mom and the guys off at the place we were staying, Bri and I headed to the bridal shower where we got to meet the bride officially for the first time. We played games and got to talk with Jessica, who seems like a lovely addition to the family. I didn’t any pics aside from this one since I was busy playing the games (and I won a Starbucks gift certificate in one game–lucky night!), but I can tell you that it was fun seeing all the love in the room.

Since the shower was an hour away, I got to spend some time chatting with Bri while we drove, which I really enjoyed.

The strangest thing happened that night. I didn’t get lost. Anyone who knows me will understand what an odd phenomenon that is. And yet it happened. I kind of liked it.

The day of the wedding was pure magic. I’ve never seen anything go so smoothly. We were able to sleep in and get a good rest then we all dressed up and headed to the venue where people laughed, talked, dined, and danced. Vows were stated outdoors under a pristine blue sky and under a trellis by a lake. Our grand-niece did a fantastic job being the flower girl. Here are some pics of the ceremony itself.

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The photographer took family photos and bridal party photos then we headed upstairs for the reception. Amazing food and awesome conversation!


Bri ended up with the bouquet (with some help from Aunt Susan). There was a funny moment when Zeb wasn’t aware of what was happening, but when he heard Bri got the bouquet, he made sure nobody else was going to get that garter. I do think his cousin, the groom, kind of helped him by aiming his way.

The night ended with a fabulous chocolate fountain and sparklers as the wedding couple went on their way. I already miss all our relatives and friends with whom we were able to catch up with there, but the memory of the enchanted time lingers happily on.

Here are some of my personal favorite pics of the day (click them to make them big if you want):

And finally, here’s a fun video summary of the day thanks to Google Photos: