Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On The Road Again

With an empty house and our hearts full of adventure, Tom and I set out to begin our cross country trek.  After dropping off three cats in two shifts, headed to my dear friend, Kristine's, house to deliver approximately a million condiments.  We then packed our Camry Hybrid to the gills with our worldly belongings and set off.  Well, only as far as our property manager's office.  Leaving endless keys, garage door openers and a parking pass behind we set off with diligence.  Until we got another 25 miles to Oceanside, CA and stopped for lunch.  With renewed spirits and full bellies, we charged onward to glory and the LA/Santa Barbara area.

 Our view from the Fog Catcher Inn
 Tom declared that he liked "slanty trees"
After our mediocre dinner on a very chilly walk.

 Attacked  by squirrels!
 What's up here?

There I am, with some Harbour Seals in the background

Tom and the Pacific

We pressed through the afternoon, though crankiness was setting in and spent the night at the FogCather Inn in Cambria, CA.  (Feel free to review my yelp reviews for more info.  I'm Lynne K)  Right off the 1 and about 30 minutes from Paso Robles, we spent the evening in a quaint hotel with adorable decor and beautiful ocean views.  We had a not-so-special dinner and walked along the very windy shoreline.  In the morning, after sleeping with a fireplace going and not fearing for our cats to singe themselves, we had breakfast and went for a walk.  Tom laughed at me as squirrel-like animals approached me on the boardwalk, thinking that my cup of coffee held treats for them.  Alas, my little friends, I had none.  Still, the interaction made me think that rabies was imminent and gave Tom endless pleasure at the cute little guys.  We began a game of counting the squirrels to see who could spot the most before we reached 2 miles on our walk.  Despite an early lead, I dominated Tom 27-20.  Respectable showing, Keenan, but your lasic is nothing to my new lenses!

We continued our travels with a pit stop in Paso Robles for some wine tasting at Opolo Vineyards and then continued to meander up the coast through the lovely, scenic and somewhat terrifying Route 1.  Along the coast with breathtaking cliffs and black beaches, my white knuckles and hybrid technology was no match for the BMW-from-hell drivers that rode my bumper with delight and disdain.  I gladly surrendered the reigns to Tom for the remainder of the evening and kept him entertained by singing all parts of Les Miserables.  Trust me when I say that I do a mean Jean Valjean.

Through the Redwood Forest into that night, we decided might have been a mistake.  At one point, probably around 9:30 with fog creeping in around us, I casually stated, "Man, it would really suck to have car trouble right about now."  Tom's face went white.  "Why would you EVER say that???  I've been thinking it for half an hour but was keeping that thought to myself!!"  To ease the tension and fear of the battery mysteriously falling out of the trunk at that very moment, I added, "This is also how 'Amityville Horror' begins.  So, as a general rule, let's agree that should a man in a hockey mask with a chainsaw pop out from one of these trees, you'll just run him down and we'll figure out what to do afterwards."  The new rule of the drive was thus born: All masked men yielding chainsaws were to be run over without question, if they came at us in a menacing manner in the dark of night.  It somehow settled my weary husband and I drifted off to sleep.

View from the car on the CA Coast.

Here I am actually driving.  In the Redwood Forest and a picture from the side of the road on the CA-1. 

Writing this now, some days later, I don't recall all of the exact moments in the car, but needless to say, upon telling my mom about them she noted: "I do not miss moving or driving across country.  At all."  I'll let you use that as a guide on our emotional/mental state.

On Thursday, we spent the night at Tom's brother's house in Portland, Oregon.  Joey introduced us to friends, showed us the very rainy side of Portland and took us to the Grilled Cheese Grill: a delightful establishment with grilled cheese like you wouldn't believe.  We dropped off a propane tank and a T-square and trekked northwards towards Seattle.

The ceiling of the Grilled Cheese Grill -- I suspect I'd need to be on something for it to make more sense...

The Rainy view of Portland from above.

Oh Seattle.  What a beautiful place it is.  After sighing countless time along 101 and 1, with "Oh my gosh, how beautiful" ever on my lips, we entered Seattle and the muttering somehow continued.  This part of the Northwest, though full of strangely and eclectically dressed people, also holds such talented artists and delicious food.  I've marveled at the homes, both ornate and rustic, the density of downtown and the presence of trees.  Having lived in Southern California for so many years, the sight of natural greenery never fails to amaze me.  
So lush and full of color, I’ve spent these few, rainy days in awe of how beautiful nature can be.  Sheila, one of Tom’s sisters, took us to Bainbridge Island for the day where we wandered through shops, eavesdropped on fellow ferry passengers (at some points mentally correcting their inaccuracies in their conversations), and took note of horrible parenting skills.  The most significant was during an otherwise delightful lunch and made all of us agree that those children were being raised atrociously.  Mental notes were made and the parenting skills were given a 2 out of 10. 
During our visit, we also met up with my Aunt Pat, my cousin, Paul and his wife, Cara.  On a remarkably sunny day in Seattle, we met up with them for lunch at Lowell’s in Pike’s Place Market and enjoyed some local fare.  We charged through the hoards of people and took a stroll around the waterfront area of downtown.  It was wonderful to see them all and Tom noted how appreciative he was to my Aunt for providing new musical selections.  Apparently someone was getting sick of the mix of Broadway show tunes and whiny, Indi-rock.  Seriously?  My two passions.  Through a little mid-to-late 90’s hits in there and we’ll call it a day. 

Tom and his very tasty crumpet at the Crumpet Shop in Pike's Place Market.  Crumpets = delightful!
I could not even get over how gorgeous these flowers were.  They were breathtaking!

Aunt Pat and I and a majestic Otter.

In front of Pike's Market with the remainder of Tom's delightful latte.  Seriously, he mopped the floor with my coffee with this beverage.  What a great husband to surrender it to his wife!!

Tomorrow we hit the road again for a mad dash across the country in 4 days.  Tom thinks it will be a struggle, but I’m convinced that we shall overcome.  Throughout our time in the Pacific Northwest, the Keenans have been wonderful hosts/hostesses and we cannot thank them enough for letting us into their homes.  We’ll miss you both in the upcoming months but look forward to seeing you soon both at home and abroad.
The road rises to meet us tomorrow and we’ll try to keep the winds of the Pacific ever at our back.
Hugs to all,
Lynnie Lou

Sunday, May 22, 2011

When Your Home is Just a House

It's a funny thing in life to make a home.  I've lived in so many apartments, a sorority house, my parent's house...  Moving from here to there, shoving your pictures, my First Communion Cross (for which my sister, Christy, can never seem to stop making fun), love letters and emails, that box of wine glasses that once held 18 and now have 10.  In my many years as a Navy brat growing up, this process became very familiar to me.  New friends, new schools, new clubs.  Through it all, I have become all too familiar with empty houses and moving boxes.  So much so, that this time around, I was expecting it to be the same old thing.  But then something hits you/me: moving is never easy or the same or mundane.  It's painful and leaves you feeling so hauntingly alone at times that you wonder why you would ever do it?  Why aren't we those people who went to elementary school with the same people and then hung out at the local bar in town watching each other get married and have babies.  Sometimes I envy those people so much for the relationships that they have and hold on to for years.   

I had a dream last night about that first morning when I will wake up in Italy.  After flying for hours, losing a day, stressing about whether or not my cats will have a nervous breakdown or not, I'm most nervous now about waking up that first morning in Italy and having the realization sink in that "Oh my God, I'm living in Italy thousands of miles away from my family and friends."  Not since my first night in a dorm room in college have I been so nervous about a move like this.

But here we are just the same.  I'm sitting on the stairs with a cat watching me on a deflated air mattress.  One lawn chair, 4 suit cases and a propane tank are all that fill my living room.  It reminds me of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," when little Suzy Lou Hoo walked into their room and all that was left from the hooks and one Christmas ornament.  That's what my home feels like now.  After spending so many weekends changing light fixtures and wandering around Lowe's with Tom picking out the perfect outlet covers, all of our hard work seems really sad without our furniture or stuff to make it feel real.  I know that they are just things and can all be replaced, but those things, those silly First Communion Crosses and that picture from our wedding are sitting in a crate.  I know we'll make a new home again soon but for the moment, after saying goodbye to friends and colleagues and my kitties, the seven bottles of mustard in my fridge and those hideous couches of Tom's from before we started dating, I miss it all and the home that we had here. 

Tomorrow will be our last full day in San Diego.  We're shipping two kitties off to my mom after having an allergic reaction to the rabies vaccine and the last minute realization that their crates were not large enough for international travel, we're keeping our fingers, toes and paws all crossed tightly in the hopes that Continental will take them with open arms and deliver them safely to my Momma.  Neville will fly out on Tuesday, we'll drop off the keys, garage door opener and parking pass and off we'll go. 

Since our movers got everything packed and loaded on a truck in 8 hours, not three days, we've been living here on air mattresses and lawn furniture.  It's odd being here with so little stuff and odd to say goodbye but still be in the same zip code.  For the adventures that are yet to come, I'm willing to endure the sadness of parting ways for now.  I just hope that everyone here in San Diego, with whom we've shared even one laugh or one story about The Real Housewives of Where Ever, thank you.  You've all made me feel so blessed to know you, to share a moment of your life and your laughter and I sincerely wish you all the very best.

Big hugs (and a few tears),

Monday, May 16, 2011

The End is Near/An Entire Blogpost About Booze

What a whirlwind this last week has been!  I'll start off small.

On Tuesday, we headed over to C Level with some of my co-workers to have a Happy Hour hang out in one of San Diego's more iconic locations.  The group was great and we shared a lot of laughs and retold that story about the one time three of us got arrested at Barstow....  Everyone has one of those stories, right??  Thank you to everyone for coming to send Tom and I off with lots of well wishes!  It was so much fun!
Mandatory Group Shot, though many abstained.  Punks...

My last day with NAVFAC SW (Naval Facilities, Southwest) was on Friday.  The group took me out to lunch on Thursday where everyone said incredibly touching and such sweet things about my three years here.  Thus proving that I'm not quite as unpopular as I've thought.  Good to know!  "You like me, You Really Like ME!"  Oh Sally Field, we have this in common.

The Booze Fest
Below is the remaining booze from our liquor cabinet.  Yes, we had a lot and some of it was highly ridiculous.  Kila Lillet from that time we had a James Bond party and wanted to make Vesper martinis.  Obviously, we didn't use very much of it, because those martinis are kind of terrible.  Sorry, Daniel Craig, your little boy shorts in the beginning totally made up for this not so wonderful drink in Casion Royale!  Anywho, on Saturday night, we had a "Finish Off Our Booze" party at our house.  Everyone was asked to bring a mixer and take a bottle home with them.  We did a pretty respectable job by the end of the night!

Here's Tom, sipping on a Blue Star with a pinwheel straw and his pinkie out. 

Blue Star Recipe:
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Blue Curacao
2 oz . Orange Juice
Pinwheel Straw

Below are my dear friends, Kristine and Sarah Fo taking home their party favors.  Sarah took the ever popular Malibu (somehow there were 2 bottles in our liquor cabinet.  One with "Ness" written on the side in Sharpie...  Since I changed my last name 1.5 years ago, we can guess how old that bottle is...) and RazzMatazz.  Before everyone starts judging me for having 2 bottles of Malibu, I'm also going to throw in my Lemongrass Rumtini Recipe.

Lemongrass Rumtini:
1. Create Lemongrass Simple Syrup.
     2 stalks lemongrass (bruised with the back side of a knife), coarsely chopped
     2 c. water
     1 c. sugar
Place all syrup ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Reduce to low and simmer, partially covered, for 15 min.  Strain and cool.  Cover and Refrigerate.

2. Make the drink!
2.5 oz. coconut rum (recommend half Bicardi Light and 1/2 Malibu)
1.5 oz. lemongrass syrup
1 oz. lime juice

They are super sweet but go down like water and are such a crowd pleaser.  Plus, I made them for my now-Father-In-Law while I was trying to impress him when Tom and I started dating.  Turns out, he loves sweet drinks and I made him enough that he thought I was too!  So, recommend making these in the early stages of courtship.

I've gotten so distracted telling you all how to make my favorite drinks that I've neglected to tell you more about our evening of fun!  We had about 15 people throughout the night and ch'atted, discovered the technology behind electronic cigarettes (and then made reference to the "Dinner Party from Hell" episode of Real Housewives of Beverley Hills, which only made sense to the ladies and Tom, with whom I share all of my Bravo Reality TV obsessions.  He may not love them like I do, but at least he knows who they are and that we are too classy to watch the Atlanta seasons), and of course, drank! 

Kristine, my lovely blonde friend pictured above, and I discovered our new favorite drink: The Buckaroo! 

The Buckaroo:

1.5 measures Maker's (or other Bourbon, but I'm a Maker's lady, just like Andy Cohen!  (Bravo reference #2 on this blogpost.  Let's see if I can get up to 5...)
1/2 tsp Bitters
5 Measures Coke (or Coke Zero)

Add ice and a cherry!  Pinwheel straw optional.

Now that the weekend is over, we are into those final stages of prepping the house before movers come on Wednesday and start packing up my worldly possessions.  The navy will have people come and pack everything up, so I'll just be hovering around them and nervously calling my mom with levels of frantic slowly but steadily rising.  Our storage shipment will get packed up on Monday. 

Also on Monday, I'm dropping two of our three kitties off at the airport where they will fly to Norfolk to hang out with my mom while we undertake the Goodbye America tour.  (See my first blogpost if you are unclear of this phenomenon.  It's both highly planned and foolish but will involve seeing muched loved family, friends and those strange roadside attractions that most people don't know exist.  World's Largest Lemon, we're coming your way first! 

Based on the length of this post, I'm avoiding some form of sorting that I should be doing.  But wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate you for reading this much, if you have.  Perhaps I'll be making some of those drinks mentioned previously tonight to help keep my sanity.  I'll know all of this is real when prized possessions start getting rolled out of our house.  Somehow, it's felt so far away for such a long time that the reality of our position is feeling a bit out of my grasp.  Lucky for me, I'm married to a wonderful, patient man who can handle my crazy in stride and with a smile on his face, most times.  I like to think it keeps him young, but perhaps entertained is more accurate.  I love you, Tommy!  Thanks for everything!

Until I write more, CIAO!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Details, Details, Details!

Hello Faithful Followers!

As our trip draws closer, we have so many details to keep in mind.  We are sending the title for our car to the movers tomorrow, having my work goodbye party tomorrow night and then having a "Finish Our Booze" party on Saturday.  Moving overseas, we can only take a few select bottles with us, so we're having a little throw down and giving out half empty (or half full depending on your perspective) bottles as favors.  Aren't we sweet?  "We love you so much that you are getting half a bottle of Butterscotch Shnapps!  Thanks for being such a great friend!!!" 

My last day of work is this Friday and then I'll be starting a 90 day leave of absence.  While part of that is dedicated to moving our car across country and packing out our house, the part when we are actually in Italy will be dedicated to taking an Italian class, exploring the local landscape and day drinking.  It's like the most awesome summer break ever!!  We'll be doing that other boring stuff like finding a house, buying a car and making sure our cats don't get deported, but day drinking is by far the highlight.

We are now T-Minus 9 days from our movers arriving for 2 days of packing and 1 day of hauling things out of our house.  After spending the weekend in New Jersey for Tom's brother, Danny's, wedding, we are now in the craziness of figuring out what is in the drawer in the kitchen we never open, deciding which of my beloved Christmas decorations are going to be in storage for three years and what to do with that junk in the closet upstairs.  We also have to narrow down the closets to find what we can live off of for 2+ months in no more than 4 suitcases.  Tom has already informed me that no, I cannot have a suit case entirely for my shoes.  We'll undoubtedly have a teary goodbye as I send the ones that didn't make the cut into a dark space on the rocky seas.  Don't take it personally, Ann Taylor pumps, I'll wear you again in Italy!!  Your delicate heels won't have to tread on American soil for many years.

Still to come: packing X-Travaganza, getting the kitties two health screenings (one for their flight to Norfolk and one for the flight to Italy), dropping the Civic off to be shipped, Tom attempting to make a stained glass window for his parents, having the carpets, hardwood floors and drapes cleaned, writing a Compendium of the idiosyncrasies of our house for the tenants, cancelling all of our utilities and trying to maintain our sanity.

Wish us luck!  I'll keep you all posted as interesting, ridiculous or both occurs.

Lynne and Tom