April 2010

My most famous relative and other stuff

File under: weekend update

For the first time in a while, I feel like I actually have stuff to talk about! It isn't important or interesting stuff, but at least it's stuff!
 
Friday night, Pat was watching the movie The Informant! while I read on the couch. I was deeply involved with my book, but about an hour and a half into the movie, a character's name (the main character) finally came to my attention: Mark Whitacre. My thought process went something like this. "Whitacre. I have a bunch of people in my family named Whitacre. I wonder if there is any relation. Mark Whitacre. That name sounds really familiar. Mark Whitacre! Hey, I am related to him! I forgot I'm related to one of the most famous whistleblowers in history. Holy shit! Matt Damon is playing the part of one of my distant relatives. " Then I proclaimed to Pat, "Mark Whitacre! I'm related to him!" Yeah, so he's on my mom's side of the family. (I don't know exactly how I'm related to him, but he's, like, a second cousin four times removed...or something.) I remember now that one of my aunts had emailed me a couple years ago to say a movie was being made (and a book had been written) about him, but I have a terrible memory and it just slipped my mind. If, however, I had known Matt Damon was going to be playing one of my family members in the movie, it probably would have commanded more of my attention. Anyway, it was a funny surprise. I'm less shocked that I'm related to some misguided whistle-blowing thief (I think that's a fair description) than I am shocked I'm related to someone with nine academic degrees, including three doctorates and two law degrees. But, seriously, there are so many things that bend my brain about him and his story and the movie.
 
Saturday I ventured out and met a friend at Solera, a cozy wine bar in the South Wedge. It was so fun! It was low key and unpretentious, and there was an interesting mix of people. It was so nice to get out and about. We got there early and walked out by 8:30 PM. My friend had to get going, but I was sort of drunk with freedom and just wasn't quite ready to go home. I called another friend, Sarah, on the off chance she was already out or wanted to meet me out. Like kismet, we were able to meet up at Tap and Mallet for a beer. I still got home at a totally reasonable hour, and I had so much fun catching up with two people I always click with and never seem to get enough time with. It was fantastic—a night that could certainly not be duplicated.
 
We also had a pretty productive weekend and got to spend some quality family time outdoors. We worked in the yard quite a bit (gotta keep up with the Joneses now that we're in Brighton). Greta and I planted a bunch of seeds, which is something I don't think I've done since I was a kid. Hopefully we'll see some results from those. Also this weekend we officially started composting! I'm ridiculously excited about compost! Who knew?? And now that we're composting and being more "green," it's our ticket to be socially irresponsible in other ways.
 
Going back a bit, the book I was reading Friday when I was mostly ignoring The Informant is really good. My book club is reading In the Neighborhood by Peter Lovenheim. He lives in Brighton, and the (nonfiction) story takes place on his street. After a murder-suicide at his neighbor's house in 2000, he realized he really did not know any of his neighbors more than on a surface level, and some he did not know at all. He started asking his neighbors if he could interview them so he could get to know them personally, and he even asks to sleep over at some of their houses for a night. There is more to it than that, but I am terrible at giving the in-a-nutshell version of books. Anyway, it's very good. Certainly part of the allure for me is that he's talking about my neighborhood, but I think it's well written and an enjoyable read. It has definitely made me rethink my idea of what neighbors' relationships should be, and I do want to try to push past my shyness and hopefully actually meet some of my not-so-new neighbors. Hell, it has crossed my mind to invite at least the surrounding neighbors over for a gathering at our house. Amazing. I definitely recommend the book. If you have read it or are interested and live in the area, Peter Lovenheim is going to be at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble this Thursday at 7 for a book signing (do you think he'll sign my e-reader?) and "discussion." Yay for local authors! I haven't finished the book yet, but I plan to finish it before Thursday. Normally I have sort of a weird system of rationing books so I can spread things out (I know it's a dumb system), but it has been fun to have a purpose to just blow right through this one.
 
Amazingly, I still have more I could say, but this is getting lengthy and I'm also trying to watch Breaking Bad, and things are heating up this episode! More later.
 
Fran

Callin' it in

File under: weekend update

Hey dudes,

I don't have anything really notable to say, but I want to stay awake until 10 to watch Breaking Bad, and if I'm not on the computer, I'll be asleep on the couch, mouth agape, by 9:30. So, hiiiiii.

Um, lemme see. So Friday we went to a cupcake place in Rochester. We had been meaning to go there and try out the 'cakes for a while now, and we had heard they were having a free sample thing going on, so we figured it was as good a time as any. I am not mentioning the name here because I really don't have anything super positive to say about our experience. It wasn't bad per se and it's not like they wronged us or anything and I don't want to be responsible for personally sending them to their demise with my unfavorable words. Plus, it was free cupcakes. How much can I complain? (Lots.) The place smelled a little like how I remember a couple of my mom's friends houses smelling when I was growing up: cigarette smoke and old dish towels. And the cupcakes were okay, but I don't really like frosting, and the frosting-to-cake ratio was way too high for my liking. And then we felt like we should buy something, so we bought a couple cupcakes, and the service was so unnecessarily slow. BUT, it was a fun thing to do on a Friday night and, hey, free cupcakes. Here's a poor-quality picture of me feeding Greta a mini cupcake.

Saturday we did some stuff around the house (read: we watched too much TV as a family), and then in the evening we went to a fantastic dinner party with some daycare friends. I can't think of much to say about Saturday except that the tacos we had at the dinner party were so good I keep thinking about them today. Mmmm, tacos. Oh, and the company was great. We are lucky to have a lot of people we like in our life who happen to have kids Greta's age. In the past, when I've met people through Greta our other mommies through, you know, mommy stuff, it was fine, but they weren't people I would go out of my way to get to know on a personal level. But these people I can hang with, and I'm feeling all I-hope-they-like-me in a high school-ish sort of way.

Today I was hell bent on cleaning the house and cleaning up the lawn. Pat and Greta met up with the Moenses at the museum while I listened to some episodes of This American Life and went to town on stuff around the house. It was just what I needed. There is a superhero exhibit going on at the museum now, and Pat got this picture of G scaling a skyscraper. D'awesome.

Fran

Some nature all up in this piece

File under: nada mucho

When we moved to Brighton, I had no idea there'd be so much animal life. We're pretty close to the city, and I don't know, I just didn't expect to see so many critters. During the fall and winter, there was a roving pack of 8 or 10 turkeys. They were so funny. They would stop and eat for a bit and then all haul ass down the street in their little gang. And then during the winter we had a bunch of deer that would sleep in our backyard, and one day I looked out the front window and one was lazily walking past the window, maybe 5 feet from the house. It's sort of crazy for this city girl. (Yes, I know I grew up in farm country, but prior to October, I lived in the city for the last 12 years.)

With spring, we've had many geese and some ducks in the yard. Last week I got a couple good shots of some geese in the yard.

I am definitely loving Brighton.

Fran

This is where I talk excessively about shopping

File under: weekend update

Ohhh, hiii to the three readers who still check this thing. Sorry it has been so long, but I have been so ridiculously busy!

Work has really picked up, and now that my work is right here, I am more inclined to work more than 8 hours. I worked plenty of overtime at the last job (and an ungodly amount at the job before that), but now it's just so darned easy to end up working extra. The laptop is right there calling my name. It sounds like, "Fraaaan....Fraaaaaaan...you know you want to edit meeeee." So there's that.

And then, in case you didn't hear me shouting it from the mountaintops, Pat and I took a trip to IKEA this weekend! The closest IKEA is about four hours away (well, the one near Toronto is technically 3 hours away, but it always seems to take 4 with the border shenanigans and whatnot). We have been talking about going there for ages, but a trip never materialized. We didn't have a home office setup, and now that I work from home, it put a fire under me/us, especially because my make-shift setup the last 6 or so weeks was KILLING my neck. So, the moon and the stars finally aligned, and we borrowed a large SUV from a very trusting and kind friend, and we headed to Pittsburgh! Yes, Pittsburgh.  Greta stayed home with my mom since, as I so motherly put it to one friend, Greta would "just slow us down and take up too much space." It's unkind but it's true.

Behold the glory of the flags.

We got to IKEA at about 3 PM on Saturday, and we didn't leave until almost 9 PM. We actually saw them turn the lights off inside the store.  We had some rather stressful moments when we realized not everything would fit in the truck, but Pat pulled out his boy scout skills and tied a sofa bed frame to the roof rack so tightly and thoroughly that I knew it wasn't going anywhere. And, man, we had that truck filled to the gills. It was a sight to be seen. I will say this, though: what we spent on about 5 million things from IKEA is about what one would spend on a love seat at, say, Pottery Barn. Love. Did I mention I love IKEA?

I even love their cafeteria.

I am ashamed to admit that after the shopping marathon we couldn't muster exploring any of the Pittsburgh restaurants or sights that friends recommended. For one thing, it was late. And for another, we had a vehicle chock full of all of my new favorite tangible possessions, and I didn't want to do any unnecessary driving. And, most important at the time, I needed to find the shortest path between me and a dirty martini. We ended up getting a surprisingly good meal at the hotel and having some surprisingly mediocre dirty martinis.

This is the face of a girl who needed a martini and a seared ahi tuna salad stat, and this is the face of a man who was willing to go shopping for six hours.

We got home Sunday afternoon, and during the last two days, we've spent pretty much every free moment assembling Swedish-designed furniture made in China. I love, love, love all of the new stuff, and I can't wait to go back again. My office is still a work in progress, but my desk and chair are set up, and it is already the best office I've ever had. It just makes me smile. I hope to get some pictures up soon.

Jeez, did I talk about IKEA enough?

The only other thing is I got a sassy new haircut. I just got it tonight, and it's always hard to tell if I like a new haircut until the next day after I've washed the junk out of it and styled it myself. I think I like it, but it has the littlest likeness to the most disastrous haircut I ever got, also known as the "Jennifer Aniston Disaster Haircut of 1995," or "the haircut that gave me bad self-esteem just in time to start college."

And this, friends, about brings us up to date. I hope you're all dandy.

Fran

short girl, tall girl

File under: easter | greta

So, my mom always made my Easter dresses, and this is the one I wore in 1980, when I was 4 and a half.

I had the dress stored away and pulled it out today so I could take a picture of Greta in it. As soon as I pulled it out, I was like, "This is not going to be a dress on Greta; it's going to be a shirt." Check it.

Girl is so tall! Like, I realize I'm really shrimpy, but this shocked me. I love it, though, and I had to share.

Girl is also way, way, WAY sassier than I was at 4. (I love that too.)

It's a good thing I didn't wait another week for the photo shoot or the dress would probably have been a half shirt.

Fran

Easter

File under: easter

Spring has sprung, and I've got spring fever. And I've been feeling like Cinderella. Not the I-got-to-dance-with-the-hot-prince kind of Cinderella, but the I've-been-washing-the-windows-and-mopping-the-floors kind of Cinderella. It just seems like the list of things to do around the house is endless, but honestly, when you can open the windows and enjoy this weather while doing something productive, even manual labor feels sort of fun.

Today we did the Easter basket thing at our house, and Greta found it immediately. The squeal she made was so great. We also went to my parents' house today for ham dinner and some Easter Bunny excess. Greta hunted for eggs with the help of 6 adults. It was pretty funny watching people try to nudge Greta toward the eggs she was missing. Next year we need to rent another kid to make things more competitive.

Greta got a kite for Easter. How many people does it take to put a kite together?

We took the kite out to a field and tried it out. I didn't even bring the camera because I just didn't think they'd be able to get it up, but they totally did. Even Greta got it up on her own. It was crazy. Either she's a kite-flying prodigy or kite technology has improved in the last 20 years.

For one of the desserts, Greta and I made what we called "Peep Cake." We basically just made rice crispy treats and smooshed Peeps on top. Becky was super excited for the rice crispy treats. Those are her thumbs showing her support of the Peep Cake.

Okay, I'll post more stuff soon.

Fran