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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Boston: Home of Dunkin Donuts and hand sanitizer.

Boston Common.

I've been battling a miserable cold for the last couple of days. Considering I was all over germ invested airports last week, I guess it was only a matter of time before I fell ill. Everywhere we visited in Boston, from offices to public places, there was hand sanitizer available. A lot of good it did me!

Last week's trip was my third visit to Boston. This time, I got a chance to see another part of the city, the Back Bay neighborhood. As I said to my boss, a couple of more trips, and I will have seen the whole city!

The Liberty Hotel.

On our first night, we had dinner at a place called Clink, which is inside the Liberty Hotel. The hotel is in the building that housed the Charles Street Jail. Inside, the vestages of the former jail can still be seen, although with a modern flair.

Neon jail cells.

Inside the Liberty Hotel.


The food at Clink was fabulous. Seriously one of the best meals I've had in my life, ranking right up there with the time that I partook of a home cooked Hungarian meal prepared by a drag queen. But I digress.

Here is the menu. We had foie gras for an appetizer which came accompanied by the most divine buttered toast I've ever tasted. For the main course, I had the organic chicken, and I can say without reservation that it was the best chicken I've ever tasted. They say that animals that are treated well taste better, well, let me tell you - my chicken must have spent its days eating bon bons and watching TV. It was that good.

Sorry that there are no photos of the food. It was way too dark.

We didn't get back into the city until Wednesday morning, when we had meetings in Boston's tallest building, the Hancock Tower.

Hancock Tower.

Unfortunately, the observation deck has been closed since 9/11, so you'll just have to settle for a view of the giant silver and gold reproduction of the Declaration of Independance that hangs in the lobby.

Inside Hancock Tower.

After our meetings concluded, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and walk the streets. The area is brimming with luxury stores such as Chanel, Burberry and Hermes. Sadly, I didn't think my boss was much interested in browsing Hermes, but I did see one store that I would never patronize.

Where I will never shop.

Note that it is going out of business. Power to the short people! We shall overcome!

Boston Paper Source.

Why can't we have a cute Paper Source store in Pittsburgh? It taunts me wherever I go!

Next we headed to the glorious Public Garden.

Entrance to the Public Garden.

I was disappointed that the swan boats were done for the year, but there were still other pretty sites to see.

Public Garden.

Suspension bridge.

Me at the gate of the Public Garden.

George Washington.

Next time, I hope to visit Beacon Hill and finally attend a Boston sporting event.

Tomorrow and Saturday we will be busy with various Halloween activities, so there will be more fall photos to come!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Let there be color.

Foliage 2009.

I'll be getting around to posting the photos from Boston later this week, but for now, I couldn't resist sharing what's going on today. Sometimes I get so behind on blogging that I hardly ever post about the day's events on the day they happen. So here we go!

While I was walking home on Friday, I noticed that the leaves on the trees located up the street from where we live had changed remarkably. The foliage around here has been really spectacular this year, and I was excited to have such a fantastic display of color very close to home. Thankfully, the weather was sunny today, so after I ate breakfast and got dressed this morning, I grabbed my camera and headed up the street. Once I started, I couldn't stop snapping!

Here's the best of them all. For the most part, they are straight out of the camera - I didn't make any adjustments to the color. This is how bright the leaves were in person!

Red on blue.

Red on Gold.

Burst of fire.


In other news, there has been diplomatic progress on the doggie front. Daisy has made herself clear that she is going to be the boss in their relationship, and Marcus has accepted her role as Her Highness. He still tries desperately to play with her, alternating between bouncing around her like a goofball to licking her face to lying at her feet. Usually she just looks at him with disgust, but sometimes, she gets fed up and gives him the business. She is definitely the more vocal of the two. But there have also been times this weekend where they have co-existed together peacefully. Like this:

Daisy and Marcus, together at last.

Hopefully, as Daisy gets used to him and Marcus loses some of his puppy zeal, we will have more moments like this one.

Like mother, like daugher.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally broke down and purchased a second hand Nintendo DS. Now, before you ask why I needed another gaming system that I don't have time to play, I bought it specifically for the My Coach language software that's available for it. I thought it would be a fun way to brush up on my French on the bus ride home and maybe pick up some more Japanese. Plus, I thought Lauren would enjoy it too, since the stylus and the touch screen would be easier for her to work with than a controller.

Well, I underestimated the accuracy of that later assumption because from the moment it arrived, it became "My Green Game." As in Lauren's green game. I couldn't even get within ten feet of the thing.

Sunday afternoon.

So I did what any sane parent would do. I bought another one.

Who says video games are bad for you?

Who says video games are all bad for you?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Fall, y'all!

Little girl with a mighty big pumpkin.

Just returned yesterday from my trip to Boston. I intended to post this before I left on Monday, but I was having computer difficulties. Mark bought a new/old computer for our anniversary, and we just got around to setting it up this past weekend. It's all up and running now and will make my life so much easier. So I hope to use it to post photos and stories from my trip sometime in the next day or so.

Anyway, as you can see, Mark's pumpkin plant only produced one pumpkin this year, but boy, was it a doozy! Lauren just loves Halloween - so much that I think she may prefer it to Christmas. So I've been trying to keep her busy with various Halloween themed crafts.

Let's get spooky!

She punched out all the flowers for this cute banner. She also helped glue all the parts together.

Paper Haunted House.

This paper haunted house was made from a kit that I purchased at Target. It was a little be easier to put together than the Martha Stewart advent calendar house that I made last Christmas, but that's only because it was less involved. Otherwise, it was a pain. The kit comes with enough supplies to make two houses, so I can always try again if this one falls apart.

Halloween party invitations

Lauren also helped me make these Halloween party invitations. Since Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, a thought I'd have a little get together. The templates for the mask and the invitation are from, but I used them a little differently because I like to put my own spin on things.

A distinguished gentleman.

And what has the newest addition to our family been up too? Well, last week, Marcus was groomed for the first time. Now he truly looks like the terrier that he is!

Next week is a big week for Marcus because he will be going under the knife. He has an anatomical abnormality which causes his third eye lid to cover part of his eye (See the red in the corner of his eyes? That's his third eye lid.), so he's going to have that fixed. Speaking of fixing, he's having that done as well. We're very fortunate that Mark has connections in the veternary business, as one of his doctor acquantances has agreed to do both surgeries for the cost of what some practices charge just for the neutering. Neutering is standard, but any surgery on a dog's eye is specialized and would therefore be very costly.

I for one will be glad when it's over with. Hopefully I won't have to use Photoshop so often to remove a particularly offensive appendage from his photos.

Marcus happy with his new style.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ol' Fuzzy Face.

Ol' fuzzy face.

There's an old Peanuts strip where Charlie nicknames Snoopy "Ol' Fuzzy Face." Snoopy is naturally insulted and spends several panels fretting about it.

Since we've had Marcus for over two weeks now, I guess he's here to stay. So it's about time that I told his story.

Over a month ago, a lost dog had wondered into our yard. He was a young fella, full of energy and puppy attitude. As soon as we started walking down our street to find his home, his owner drove up to claim him. So for about ten minutes, we had a second dog. And that's about all it took to get us thinking about it.

We started to casually look around at local shelters. I still hadn't completely bought into the idea, because I had it in my mind that Daisy should enjoy the rest of her days as an only dog.

Then, I had a dream. I dreamt of Daisy sleeping happily with another dog. The dog had curly, sandy colored fur and a face of terrier. I had no idea what breed it was or if that kind of dog even existed, but that dream spurred on a more serious search.


Fast forward to two weeks ago from last Friday. Mark had been looking on Craigslist and spotted a listing from a woman looking for a home for her dog. As he showed me the photo in the listing, I could not believe my eyes - it was the dog from my dream! It was a sign! Before I knew it, Mark had made arrangements to pick up the 9 month old male Airedale Terrier (Who would have known what effect all those years of watching the Westminster Dog Show would have on my psyche? Here I always thought I was partial to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi!).

Since the dog was located in Ohio around an hour or so away from us, Mark made the trip by himself while Lauren and I stayed home and anxiously waited. As soon as he had the dog in the car, he called me to tell me that everything went as planned, except that he was a little bigger than we expected. Actually, a lot bigger than we expected.

Tasting the air.

Next thing I knew, Lauren and I were standing in the driveway as Mark drove up with our new family member in the back seat. We immediately took him into the back yard so that we could get acquainted. It was then that I asked the big question.

"Does he have a name?"

Mark chuckled a bit and replied,"Believe it or not his name is Marcus."

Well that wouldn't do. After all, I had my heart set on Chauncy. And actually, he looked more like a Farley.

As he stood there in the yard, the big guy looked so uncertain and lost, as was to be expected. It was then that I looked at him and said, "Hey, Marcus!"

He immediately looked up at me and gave me the happiest look a dog could give. How could I deny him his name after that? I decided that his full name would be Marcus Aurelius, after one of the greatest emperors of Rome. I wanted to give him something high to aim for.

All in all, we were very lucky. Marcus is pretty well behaved and only wants to please. He is fully potty trained and hasn't destoyed any property yet (Although he does have preference for socks). He also catches on quick and has already learned sit, down and shake commands. His size and puppiness do make him difficult to control, so we're going to have to work hard to teach him manners.

And then there's Daisy. Marcus likes Daisy very much. He tries so hard to get her to play with him, but so far, she is quite put off by his advances. They'll walk together and be in close vicinity with each other but as soon as he tries to engage her (which is basically anytime he's near her), it's all teeth and snarls. So right now, we have to keep them separated. We're hoping that after Marcus has his boy parts removed it may encourage peaceful relations. Needless to say, they won't be cuddling together anytime soon.

Typical Marcus look.

But that's okay. He has lots of human friends to give him cuddles in the meantime.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grandma Andritz.

Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever. ~Author Unknown

Being that today was the first nice day that we'd had in a week, I was planning on taking some photos of Marcus and blogging the story about how he came to be part of our family. Instead, I'm very sad to share the news of the passing of Mark's maternal grandmother, Julia Andritz.

With the Great Grannies

Grandma Andritz was the quintessential grandma. She lived in a small town. She baked cookies and made nut roll. She loved nothing better than to sit on her porch and watch the world go by. So in a way, we all lost a grandma today. And the world is sadder place for it.

Meeting Great Grandma.