Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thanks, 2014. For Everything.

The year has come to a close, so here's my 2014 Year-End Meme.  

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Went to see the Newport Mansions.  Visited Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water - this is a man who said, "Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities."  Rode a funicular.  Went to the Arizona Biltmore resort hotel. 
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I think after all the years of answering this question, I'm just going to have to go with, "I'm not a resolution kind of gal."

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, my Uncle Bobby died and my cousin's step-father died.  

5. What countries did you visit? 
Sadly, none.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? 
Tolerance.  As the years go on, I have less, so I'm hoping I might be blessed with a little bit of it in 2015.  And I don't mean tolerance in the sense of diversity - like the acceptance of other cultures, or alternative lifestyles - I mean tolerance of stupid people.  I have a realllly hard time with that.  

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
For sure the end of January when we got stuck in the horrific ice debacle in Alabama.  I've never seen such an apocalyptic display in my life.  Our time visiting the Newport Mansions; it may not seem like such a big deal, but they were truly spectacular and I've wanted to see them for a very long time.  Doing a cross-country trek with our very good friends Marlaina and MacGyver, from Newport, Oregon to Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The ceremony to officially celebrate Ed's one million safe driving miles with the company we're leased to.  And finally visiting the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota - I've been wanting to do that for years!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Probably snowtubing without winding up at a hospital in traction.

9. What was your biggest failure? 
Again, snowtubing.  Who gets hurt rolling off an inflated tube that sits 8" off the ground?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 
Well, I hurt my thumb pretty bad during what is now referred to as "the snowtubing incident" - it still gives me pain - and I think I had the 24-hour flu just after Thanksgiving, which resulted in me losing my voice for a good two weeks.  Ed was in heaven.  

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The FEED bags for my cousin and best friend, our membership to The Preservation Society of Newport so we could see the Newport Mansions as many times as we desire, and this hat for Ed. 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My boyfriend Ed.  He has accomplished a very extensive list of goals, personal and professional, and positioned us for a prosperous future, beginning in 2015!  

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 
I'm leaving this answer pretty much the same as last year:  No one's behavior ever depresses me, but I'm frequently appalled at how people act. There is just an abundance of stupidity out there and it seems I encounter it several times a week.  Stupidity and ignorance is what appalls me.  

14. Where did most of your money go? 
Probably fuel, but since that's a business expense, I don't count it.  Other monies went to retirement, food, and just traveling around.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Our January 2015 vacation to very snowy and very cold location.  Right now we're looking at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
I do love almost everything I hear on the TV show Nashville, but I especially loved this one.  

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
I'm pretty happy.  I'm about four pounds heavier, but it feels like twenty.  And I have way more money.  It was a good year.  A very good year.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Bike riding.  We just didn't get enough in this year.  

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas? 
At home in Arizona, with my mother, brother and his family, my brother's in-laws, my brother-in-law and his family, my friends at LWNFA.  All told, I cooked for seventeen people.  It was a big success!

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?
When I saw him in this suit, I fell all over again.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Still into NashvilleScandalGrey's, The Bridge and Downton Abbey. This year I started watching Tyrant, and I love that too.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? 

24. What was the best book you read? 
I only listened to one book this year - A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny.  

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? 
The soundtrack from the movie Chef.  And these two amazing young people.  

26. What did you want and get?
I got to meet The Brinsons, who are friends with Marlaina and MacGyver.  William even took a quick Instagram of us for their photo collection of guests who have visited their home.  Look at some of his photographs here.  They're insanely amazing.  

27. What did you want and not get?
The iPhone 6 and a new iPad.  But they'll be coming in January.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 47 this year and we were in Pittsburgh for the weekend.  We went to see Falling Water, rode the Duqesne Incline, went to a little local car show, took a riverboat tour, drove around the downtown area taking pictures, and admired the great view.  

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If rules and regulations we are expected to follow made sense, and the people I have to interact with in order to do my job were more....well, just read this.  

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Same answer as last year:  When you spend a majority of your day on the road, "fashion" becomes less important as time marches on.  In the truck, I like comfort, so yoga pants and tank tops or t-shirts.  When we go out to dinner, or shopping, or visiting, I have some easy flowy tops and capri pants with little leather ballerinas - black and silver are my staples.  

32. What kept you sane?
My incredible mind. 

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Roman Mars, the host and creator of the radio show 99% Invisible.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
I'm always interested in immigration reform, education, minimum wage laws (even though I don't make minimum wage), and racial inequality.  I also think we really need to pay attention to transportation funding, we must take care of the infrastructure, especially roads and bridges.  You'd think seeing one bridge collapse would have been enough.  

35. Who did you miss?
My younger self.  I've been thinking a lot about my younger life and as I'm getting older, I'm missing that old life, and me in it.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
I think I'll leave this one up to Regina Brett.  Her wisdom is much greater than mine.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Once again, a song from the TV show Nashville.  Sung by Maisy and Lennon Stella, this song really sums up not just my year, but in just one sentence, the song tells you all you need to know:  

And my slogan for the New Year...LIBERTY.

Keep your eyes peeled for the Video Tour of 2014.  It's coming in January!  And if you missed last year's, you can see it HERE.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2013: I Am Gonna OWN You, 2014!
2012: Wrapping Up A Year Of Making My Own Sunshine
2011: Later, 2011!
2010: That’s A Wrap!
2009: Out With The Old
2008: Another Year, Another 365 Days
2007: All Good Things Come To An End
2006: The Symphony Of A Thousand Saws
2005: Suicidal Firewood

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Palm Print

I took this picture in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix, Arizona.  Notice the detail of the block behind the chairs.  This is from the resort's website:

"The Arizona Biltmore is a living architectural masterpiece, showcasing the seminal influence of America’s most heralded architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. As the consulting architect, Wright collaborated with a former student, Albert Chase McArthur. Wright’s dramatic style and imprimatur are imbedded throughout the resort’s design. The Biltmore was erected entirely of “Biltmore Block,” a variation on a textile block first used by Wright to construct private homes. The pre-cast blocks were made from desert sand on-site and created in 34 different geometric patterns inspired by the trunk of a palm tree."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's Got To Be Under This Tree Somewhere

The Christmas Tree outside of the lobby entrance at the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix, Arizona. The presents below the tree bring to mind a cute story that happened at our house over Christmas.

My nephew Luke, who is eight, was lingering where the presents were stacked in the family room.

My mother walked over to see what he was doing and said, "Hey, Luke.  What are you doing?"


"What are you looking for?" she said.

"My name."

Bam!  Just like that.  Honest.  To the point.

The kid you wish was yours.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: We Don't Even Charge For Parking

2012: Somewhere In Eastern Oregon
2011: Lighting Up The Night Griswold Style
2010: Why Fall In Love With A Gingerbread Man When You Can Have His Cake And Eat it Too?
2009: You WILL Think Of God
2008: The Queen Of Copper
2007: Eddie Wears His Christmas Present Friday
2006: The Only Way I Can Tolerate Arizona
2005: I’ve Got Lips

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Until We Meet Again

Today our friends left for Phoenix.  Because it's been so cold here, we offered to drive Marlaina to Phoenix while MacGyver trailed behind on the Vespa.  He had no choice but to go on the bike because it was the mode of transport he chose to use to come down to Tucson, but we couldn't in good conscience know that Marlaina was going to become a popsicle if she had to ride on the back.

She accepted the offer and said she'd treat us to lunch at the Arizona Biltmore when we got there.  Deal!  We had lunch, checked out the room, walked around the grounds a little bit, and spent some time in the lobby people watching.  There was quite a bit of post-holiday activity.

It was our first time visiting the resort and the place was just beautiful.  The Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design (he is not the architect of record) and the Christmas decorations made it sparkly and spectacular.

We were sad to see our friends go, but it was the most perfect send-off.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Remember The Christmas When...

2012: Blame It On Weed
2011: The Plum Is Missing
2010: The Voodoo That You Do
2009: Meet Me In St. Louis…If You Can Find It
2008: We Don’t Eat Gefilte Fish But We Do Like The Multi-Cultural Birthdays
2007: How To Picnic Like An Italian
2006: Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant, Dead Ant….
2005: The Cactus King

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day Mani Pedi

Today my friend Marlaina went out to do a little shopping for Boxing Day.  We hit Nordstrom Rack, Off Saks Fifth Avenue, and REI.  After we finished shopping, I was treated to a manicure and pedicure at Imagen Salon and Day Spa.

My fingers and toes are glistening with color and I had some time to be off my feet and relax.

We'll be sharing our last meal tonight before they leave in the morning.  I think we've started a nice little Christmas tradition of having our friends join us for the festivities.

The rest of the weekend I plan to sleep.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Racing Toward The New Year

2012: I Need A Support Group
2011: No One Mentioned The Elephant In The Room, But The Zebra Was A Big Topic Of Discussion
2010: White Chocolate Melts Away
2009: An Appetizer With Heart
2008: Angelic Eddie Friday
2007: Would You Like A Fried Egg With A Side Of Influenza?
2006: Cerrado
2005: The Best Gift Of All

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Christmas Table

The Christmas Table, set up and waiting for hungry family and friends.

We hosted seventeen people this year, the most I've cooked for yet.  I decided to nix the appetizers because I had soooo much to do and I didn't want to a) make more work for myself or b) fill my guests up before the main event.

I made a giant gravy that included 12 country pork ribs, 30 links of sweet Italian sausage, and 60 meatballs.  I made 4 pounds of rigatoni and 3 pounds of thin spaghetti.  For the macaroni, for those who were interested (me! me! me!), I set out two pounds of ricotta.  I had a request for garlic bread, so we had three giant loaves, one wheat.  That didn't turn out as bad as I expected.

The desserts were numerous - I didn't make any of them, they were all brought by family members - two ice cream cakes, cookies, cheesecake, cheese danish, ice cream, and chocolates.  

By the end of the evening we were, as Ed would say, "full as tics".

Merry Christmas!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Wishes To The Whole World

2012: Merry Christmas!
2011: Who Says Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees? It’s Christmas!!
2010: Christmas Time Is Here
2009: Commanding Attention Once Again
2008: A Meal Of Delicious Cheesy Goodness And A Day Of Good Delicious Cheeriness
2007: The Merry. The Moments. The Memories.
2006: I Love Your Bawwwlls!!
2005: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

In The Shadow Of Friends

We made it to the unload location on Christmas Eve morning - left Washington state on Monday night, arrived in Phoenix today.

I drove through the night, stopped when it was still dark to take a shower, and hit the grocery store to buy all the food for Christmas - all before our 8:00 am unload.

Once we were unloaded, we met up with our friends Marlaina and McGyver - that's their truck Ed's unloading in the shadow of - before heading to the truck wash and then going to Tucson so I could start cooking the sausage, pork, and meatballs along with the gravy for the Christmas meal.

It was a race against the clock to get home and I was exhausted by the time the day was through, but I got everything done.  Including my gift wrapping!

Let Christmas begin!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Christmas Eve Big Ass Surf And Turf

2012: This Sled Is Being Pulled By Rudolph The Bucking Red Nosed Reindeer 
2011: Call Me For A Good Time – I’m ALWAYS Happy
2010: Blue Plates And Books For Christmas Eve
2009: Holiday Theft Is On The Rise…Right In Your Own Neighborhood!!
2008: The Team Finally Takes A Rest
2007: The Night Before Christmas And All Through The House
2006: The Only Visible Flames Came From The Candles On The Altar
2005: Tonight’s The Night, People

Monday, December 22, 2014

Boom! Last Load Of The Year

Well, the Christmas wish worked.  We got a load today to not only cover our fuel cost home, but one that also leaves us with a nice little profit.  This will be our last load of the year - boom lifts out of Central Washington state - two pieces, not too heavy, easy to load.  Ed is a happy man.

We really couldn't ask for a logistically better load - it's headed to Phoenix, just two hours from home.  We'll drop the freight and then head straight to the house to prepare for Christmas Eve.

Our friends are joining us for Christmas - the second year in a row, I'm so excited to have them - and I'll be cooking for a total of 17 people on Christmas Day, so I have a lot to do when I get there.  Actually, I think I might do my grocery shopping along the way home since I won't have any time to do it once I get there.  

My Christmas Day menu is set, but I still have to come up with something for Christmas Eve.  That shouldn't be too much of a problem though since I have hours and hours and hours of wide open road to think about it.

Thankfully, I work best under pressure.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Do You Really Need To Ice Skate At The Mall??

2012: Christmas Score! 
2011: Iowa Beef Dresses Up For The Holidays
2010: Weather, Wyoming And Wings
2009: The End Is Not Just Near, It’s Here!!
2008: Keeping The Mountain On The Right Side Of The Fence
2007: Divine Intervention Comes A Little To Late
2006: General Delivery
2005: Frumpy To Nicole

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Climbing Snoqualmie With Ease

We crossed Snoqualmie Pass twice this week and thankfully didn't encounter snow either time.  Normally I love the snow on this pass because they usually get a lot of it and it's so beautiful.  And with the storm coming in from the Pacific Ocean, I was sure they were going to be hammered.  But they weren't, which was great for us because we were on a tight schedule and didn't want any delays.

There was quite a bit of snow on the highest peaks, and the roadways were wet the first night we came through, but no snow and no ice to speak of.  Earlier in the evening there was apparently some slush and sadly, a driver lost his life when his truck rolled over.  Such a horrible thing to happen at any time, and something we all hope doesn't happen to us, but even worse having it happens four days before Christmas.  My thoughts go out to his family.

As for us, we're almost done for the year.  This cross country run from Rhode Island to Washington tipped our income scale very favorably and was a great year-end boost.  Well worth us taking a load so close to Christmas.  We deliver tomorrow.

Then we'll deadhead from Seattle to Tucson.  Almost 1,600 miles, more than 30 hours, and almost $800 in fuel.  The best Christmas present at this point would be one more load to cover the cost of fuel.

I know that'll make Ed happy, so I'm putting it on my wish list.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: In Lieu Of Snow
2012: Money Vs. Meatballs
2011: A Window To The Past
2010: A Killer Rest Area
2009: The Barn Man
2008: Text Me
2007: Eddie Gets Impatient Friday
2006: If You Have A Note, Then It’s Perfectly Okay To Commit Credit Card Fraud
2005: Limo Scene

Friday, December 19, 2014

Early Morning Driving Perks

I prefer sunrises over sunsets and today I was treated to this view in Montana.

Sometimes it's worth getting up before daylight.

I just go about my business and then before I know it, it has arrived.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: I Get To See This Amazing Stuff!
2012: 3...2...1...Cross The Hudson!
2011: New Life
2010: Wearing Your Message On Your Sleeve. Er, Wrist.
2009: In The Round
2008: Eddie’s Adoring/Bored Girlfriend Friday
2007: Lux Perpetua
2006: The Lesser Known King Of Romance
2005: Wow. What Beautiful Gums You Have.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mirrors, Glass, And Anxiety

Ed indulged his 8-year-old self and decided to pay for us to enter the Amazing Mirror Maze at the Mall of America.

"Endless hallways, infinite reflections, and a new twist and turn waiting around every corner."

I almost experienced my first panic attack trying to get out.

Good times.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Skip The Stockyards, Head To The Roadhouse

2012: One Week To A Delightfully Dazzling Christmas
2011: My, What A Long Truck You Have
2010: A Place For The Snow To Rest
2009: They’re Always Touching Their Hammers
2008: Raindrops On Roses And Whiskers On Kittens
2007: Love Hate Relationship
2006: Full Service
2005: Struffo-What??

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Searching For Après-Ski Attire

Four million, eight hundred and seventy thousand square feet - that's the area of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.  You can fit seven Yankee Stadiums inside of it.  It covers 96.4 acres and has over 530 stores.

This was our second visit to the mall.  Ed decided to make a quick stop on our way across the country since I needed to buy cold weather gear for our next vacation - because what better place to get cold weather gear than in Minnesota?  
We're undecided as to where we want to go but we're looking at Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the states, and Banff, Alberta or Whistler, British Columbia in Canada.  All big ski areas.  No, I don't ski but I like snow and if you want snow, you have to go where they have it, which as you'd imagine, are in the top ski locations.
I wound up buying a pair of those ugly Ugg-esque boots at Nordstrom Rack, which will be adequate for walking around in cold weather - you know, for when we go out to dinner or into the quaint little town for a cup of coffee - and good to have just in case I don't find anything less ugly before we go.  Now I just need a good jacket to go along with it, which I think I'll have to order online since I didn't find anything at the mall that I liked.

You would think a person who loved cold weather so much would be prepared, clearly I'm not.  And apparently all Après-Ski clothing is made for super models and stick women.

If I have to layer all the clothing I have that can pass for semi-wintery, I'll look like the Michelin Man.  That's not a good look on a big girl.  It's bad enough I'm checking out jackets with the word "puffer" in the description!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: They May Be Turkeys, But Their Goose Is Definitely Cooked
2012: Just In Case You've Run Out Of Ideas
2011: Getting Stoned In New York*
2010: I Used To Care But Now I Take A Pill For That
2009: Wet And Woodsy
2008: Bite Sized Yummy Goodness
2007: There’s A Time For Everything
2006: Colors Of The Barrio
2005: Puss In Breasts

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Place For Pajama Pants, Motor Oil, And Christmas Lights

After an evening of laundry, Ed and I visited Benny's, a local store that's been around in the Newport, Rhode Island area for over 92 years.

They've got a little bit of everything for home and auto, just like the sign says.  You can buy Christmas lights, toys, car mats, home cleaning supplies, concrete, pajama bottoms, Patriots gear, paint, and a whole lot more.

The even have commercials!

2010: The Frozen Tundra
2009: Your Tax Dollars Hard At Work
2008: What’s Next, Reporting Your Maid In The Middle Of Her Dusting The Living Room Tsochkes?
2007: Fashion Forwards
2006: Swimming Po
2005: Just Call Me Rosa

Monday, December 15, 2014

Good Morning, Newport

The sun rising as we approached Newport, Rhode Island on the Claiborne Pell Bridge.  I took this with the iPhone - sometimes they come out great, sometimes they come out a little fuzzy like this - but I love a sunrise and still thought it was decent enough to share.

We deliver to Newport four to five times a year for the same customer.  Last time we were here we toured all the mansions.  This time, we're hoping to see the three that are decorated for Christmas - The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House.

Enjoy the morning!  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: One Very Happy Sloth
2012: Overnight In Ohio
2011: If It Ain’t Sweet, It Ain’t Southern Made
2010: Portland Bound
2009: Dear Blog Santa
2008: The Trees Help Guide The Way
2007: Just In Time For The Holidays
2006: Eddie Leans On A Barrio Door Friday
2005: Glowing Reminders

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Crack O' Dawn

As the sun was rising, we were getting ready to pull out of the driveway at home.  After being off for a week we are going back to work for a few days before we call it a year.

Have a great weekend!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Oh No You Didn't

2012: Nothing Is More Memorable Than A Day At The Lake
2011: The Champion Of Our Cause, The Protector Of Our Dreams
2010: Shuttin’ Down The Operation
2009: Rolling Out The Holiday Films
2008: No Rig Too Big
2007: Go Dasher, Go Dancer, Go Prancer, Go Vixen
2006: Untitled
2005: Unawarrior