Thursday, May 31, 2007

The vacation - beautiful scenery, part 1

It's somewhat late so I won't be able to post all the pictures I've wanted to put up here tonight. Look for part two tomorrow or later in the week.
I won't bother to write down where each picture is either as you realize it would take me years to do so and I really hear my wonderful bed calling for me ;-)
Enjoy and there's plenty more where these came from!





































Sunday, May 27, 2007

The vacation - shop til you drop

Well, as mentioned in my previous post, since the weather really wasn't all that great some of the time, we did a lot more shopping than we'd expected/intended to...
So I decided to post some pictures of the acquired items throughout this vacation and try to get an overview of how much money I spent on all of this...

Clothing - total monetary damage: approx. $150



Shoes - total monetary damage: approx. $180



Accessories - total monetary damage: approx. $30



Jewelry - total monetary damage: approx. $70



CDs - total monetary damage: approx. $31



Books - total monetary damage: approx. $30


Saturday, May 26, 2007

The vacation - introduction

Well, I am back and still alive ;-)

I have decided to divide the vacation in different posts so you can get a good idea of what I did and where I went.

The itinerary started with short trips to Concord and Lexington, MA. Then we left the next day for the "real" trip. First stop was Portsmouth, NH, shortly followed by Kittery, Maine (or ME for short) and Cape Neddick, ME. We stayed in a hotel in Ogunquit and the next morning continued up the coast to Kennebunkport and Portland. The weather was quite frankly shite so we skipped Portland and drove up to Brunswick, where we stayed at the Econolodge there and did a little drive around to see if there was anything interesting there (not so much).
The next morning we started up Route 1 along the coast, saw some beautiful scenery, stopped at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (gorgeous!), continued up route 1 through Rockland where we saw Owl's Head lighthouse, then had delicious Thai food in Camden, ME at a new restaurant called the Thai Kitchen. Camden was quite a cute little town so we walked around there a bit and then set off towards Belfast and The Cherished Home. This, I have to explain a little.
Being a huge fan of North and South, I happened to come across some clips of Genie Francis (who played Brett Main in the series) on some soap show, telling about this house she bought in Belfast, Maine and how she converted it into this little shop. For those interested, here's the link - The Cherished Home. So since we were driving up there anyway, I decided we should stop over and have a look around, which we did.
After that, we took off again, this time heading for our final step of that day's journey - Acadia National Park. We checked into our hotel in the evening and took a little look around Bar Harbor, which is such a charming little town! I loved it there! The next morning we set out to see the park in ridiculously pissy and foggy weather. Driving up on Cadillac Mountain, all we could see left and right of us was nothing but fog. We did believe that the sights would otherwise have been spectacular but they weren't meant for us to see. So we did the Park Loop Road, stopped every few minutes on the side of the road to take pictures and film and then decided to go and take another look at Bar Harbor. We found this awesome breakfast place called "Jeannie's Breakfast and Chowder House" and loved it so much that we went there the second morning for breakfast too. Their oatmeal bread was to die for and their omelette too and their pancakes also! Just overall probably the best breakfast I've ever had. And the waitresses were awesome too, lots of fun and just a great place to hang out in the morning.
The second morning we went down to see the Bass Harbor Lighthouse which is west of Acadia and after breakfast at Jeannie's we took off for the longest driving trip yet. North Conway, New Hampshire - the White Mountains.
The weather was ok whilst driving the 5 hours and of all the hotels, the one in North Conway was probably the worst one. Though still good and fairly clean.
The next morning we woke up to pouring rain, not being able to see the mountains that we'd seen from our room the evening before, so we decided to do some shopping (conveniently, there was an outlet mall within two minutes walking distance from out hotel). One of my next posts will be about the damage done to my credit card there and throughout the trip - you should look forward to that, it ain't pretty! ;-)
We did go towards Jackson later in the day and had a look at the most awesome waterfall, Glen Ellis Falls - it was unbelievable.
The next day we were off to see the White Mountains and the weather got gradually better throughout the day. We took the Cog Railway all the way to the top of Mt. Washington (it cost a friggin ridiculous $59 EACH but turned out to be well worth it) and then continued down Rt 302 and then the Kancamagus Highway through the mountains. By then the weather had cleared and the sights were pretty much breathtaking. And I only live about two, three hours away from that!!!! If I stick around in this country, I'll definitely be back soon!
The next day we took a trip to Lost River Gorge which was supposed to be caves that you could go through but out of something like 11 of them, only 3 or 4 were actually accessible which sucked. We paid $11 to just walk up and down some, granted beautiful, stairs and walks and I felt seriously cheated.
Our last leg of the trip was to be Vermont, and we left around noon to get to Burlington, VT. Once there we checked into our hotel again and spent a nice half day at Lake Champlain, playing with something similar to a frisbee but much more fun due to its unpredictability when thrown.
And then it was already time to go home, but not without a one hour stopover to the Ben & Jerry factory where we did the little tour, tasted one of the new flavors for 2007 Cinnamon something or other, and generally had a good time looking through the flavor graveyard! LOL

So, this was the fairly short summary - more posts will follow with more detail and pictures, I promise! :-)

Monday, May 14, 2007

The beginning of my vacation...

... well, almost!!! One more day to work (tomorrow) and then I'm off for two weeks!!! Needless to say I'm overly excited at the thought of not having to go into work. And at the thought of a weeklong trip through New England.

I picked up Sabrina and Corinna from the airport a few hours ago. It was a very interesting experience for me. I, for one, have been at so many airports that they just don't seem to make that big an impression on me. I still love the planes, the flying but the actual buildings, the security, the people... well I could do without all that.

Today was different. Maybe because I was not the one to leave but the one to pick up, as I sat by international arrivals, I started noticing people. It was strange at first... I kept looking at the automatic doors to see if my friends would be the next to come through. But they weren't and for the next 45 minutes I read my book and every now and then I'd look up to see other people coming through the doors. It was the reception some people got that created goosebumps for me. A man who came through the door, with three suitcases juggling in his hands, suddenly dropping everything when a piercing scream of "DADDY!!!!" could be heard through the entire building. A team of three kids, aged something like 5, 4 and I'm guessing 2 started running towards him and jumped into his open arms. Everyone around them was just so happy, everyone smiled at that sight.
Then there's the lovers who meet again after being apart for who knows how long. The girlfriend running into her boyfriend's arms, the husband twirling his wife around. And since today was mother's day, a lot of sons and daughters meeting their parents and wishing their mom a very happy mother's day.
It was nice to witness those encounters and they reminded me a lot of the opening and ending of the movie "Love actually".
And then, there's of course those who are alone. Those who, like me usually, come through the arrivals doors and don't even bother to look around hopefully because they know nobody will be there to pick them up. They look down to the floor and disappear from the "arrivals stage" in a few seconds, probably headed towards the cab stand or the buses or the subway or the rental cars. I wanted for them to look up, so I could at least smile at them, maybe that would make it more bearable to brave the way home alone but they just didn't see the point of looking up. Just like I wouldn't. A sobering experience in the midst of mostly joy of seeing loved ones.

All in all, I had forgotten what it's like to have butterflies in your stomach though, waiting for someone to show up. I was actually NERVOUS and really excited to see my friends... it was so nice to feel this way again.

So for the next few days, we will be travelling through New England, along the coast of Maine, into New Hampshire again and then into Vermont. I've got a ton of films and a ton of miniDV tapes - so there will be lots of pictures and films taken. Not sure how many will make it here but, provided there is internet access, I shall try my best to update on the road.

Time for bed now... night night! ;-)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Making a difference

I was just walking out of Costco today after doing some food shopping and shortly before leaving the store, an older gentleman (one of the Costco employees) approached me. He smiled at me and asked if I was singing with the Nashua Choral Society. Of course I told him I was and already I could tell the smile was spreading all over my face.
He then proceeded to tell me how he and his wife had been to the Mozart concert in March and how they had noticed me and the fact that I knew the whole piece by heart and never looked at my score and how I was smiling all the time. He said it was so obvious that I loved it so much and they had come back to see the last performance too (the Beethoven) and they noticed me again and how I just stood out from the rest because I seemed so happy.
I felt it was probably not the right thing to do to burst into tears at that point (I did later when I'd gotten in the car!!! LOL) but I was so honestly moved and happy that this man had recognized me and more importantly, that he made the effort to tell me how he felt about it!!! I chatted with him for a while, told him how much Diane really contributes to the fact that singing is so enjoyable and then he asked my name so he could go home and tell his wife he'd talked to me! I did encourage them to come to the next concert, whenever that would be and he said they would... hopefully I'll still be around by then.

I've always said that I want to make a difference when I sing. Even if it's just one person who for that time, enjoys themselves and feels like it's time and money well spent. As a member of the choir, you can't really tell if your work alone makes a difference as such. You're not SUPPOSED to be different, that's the whole point, musicalwise. But all in all, it seems that my attitude towards singing and my love for it is visible to people and there's just no greater compliment to me in this entire world! :-D

Friday, May 11, 2007

Photography...

Well, apart from finding a games group on meetup.com, I've also found a group of photography enthusiasts who meet up every now and the and go on photo shoots together in the surrounding area! Yesterday was my first trip with them and I had a really good time. Met a lot of funny people, most of which were WAY too good photographers! LOL
I felt fairly ridiculous with my camera and cheap tripod, trying to pretend I knew what the heck I was doing. Granted, I did know what I was doing some of the time but since I haven't really done proper photography since I took that class three or four years ago, my knowledge kinda dissipated.
Anyway - fun was had by all and I shall join them again soon. So long as they don't go on overnight trips or too far away and I'm not busy doing one of the million things I've started in the past few months.

I'd love to post a picture but I was the only one with a film camera there, everyone else was digital... and since I'm still very much resisting digital (plus I now definitely don't have the money to spend on a camera!) I shall have to wait until the film gets developped so I can post some pics here.

In the meantime, here's a picture of me, taken by one of the participants. She was trying to figure out some settings on her camera, this is the result! LOL

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

More games

I've just returned from a second Monday night of playing games with complete strangers. I managed to avoid the guy I had instantly taken a dislike to last time but unfortunately his little girl (who can be cute) was extremely annoying tonight and kept interrupting people playing games. Not that her father cared either way.

The games I played tonight were called "Ingenious" which was a fun game, I'd quite like to play that again soon, then whatever the game Ligretto is called in the US (it has such a weird name, I can never remember it) and then we played something called "10 days in USA" which was also kinda fun but not great.
All in all, there's not enough time to play all the cool games everyone brings in... it's such a shame we can't do it more than one night a week but I guess it would be overkill.

On a skating note, I've had a few more lessons since I last posted about my skating adventures and I've learned a few new "tricks". Currently I'm working very hard on forward crossovers and on backwards anything! LOL I'm trying to get the confidence to skate backwards on one foot but it's really hard and I just get frustrated with myself a lot. Not to say that I stop practising, just that it's frustrating to see almost no result. The trick is, of course, to count every single tiny success as a big success but being the perfectionist that I am, I just can't be happy with any less than perfect. Yeah, cause that is SO going to happen.

The new thing I've learned and I'm trying to practice too is called "consecutive inside/outside edges". The basic idea of this is to make S shapes across one straight line. So you start out on the right foot inside edge going straight, then you turn your upper body to the left, your left foot moves right in front of the right foot but does not touch the ice for a while, then you set your left foot on the ice, push with your right foot, glide on your left, turn your body to the right, right foot in front of the left but not touching the ice and then the whole thing starts again from the beginning. Same goes if you do all this on outside edges, but obviously those are harder cause you gotta trust yourself a lot more. So I'm working on these as well as on the dreaded crossovers (which sometimes work and sometimes I just can't get the courage up to do them, heaven knows why!) and the backwards skating. Oh and the spinning. I'm not getting very far with that either because as soon as I've found my balance during the spin and I feel that I'm getting faster, I put the brakes on. Which of course throws me off balance totally and breaks the spin. So it's not very pretty LOL

I guess all that matters at this particular point is that I am continuing with my lessons, I continue to practice 3 times a week and I'm still loving it (apart from today cause it just sucked, everything about practice today sucked).

So now I'm too tired to write any more, besides it's already long enough. Night night ;-)

Monday, May 07, 2007

I've discovered...

... the trick to feeling better about my weight!
I went to return a shirt at Macy's today and on the way I came across a shop called Lane Bryant and walked in. It's a shop for big sizes and after picking out some clothes with random sizes written on them I had to giddily discover that they were all too big for me and for once in my life, I was asking for the smallest size in a shop!!! LOL What a feeling to go to the shop assistant and ask for a smaller size. Me thinks I'll be frequenting that shop more often (though without necessarily buying anything, they're relatively expensive).

Greetings from a (in mind) much thinner Maky ;-)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cory

Please welcome the new addition to my family - CORY! :-)





Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Interesting...

So the third person in the past four days mentioned to me that I look thinner, like I'd lost weight.
Now, I KNOW I haven't lost weight, quite the opposite! (been baaaaad lately, very, very bad!)
So is it possible that I'm actually losing inches from ice skating??? Seeing as I religiously practice three to four days a week, I'll assume that that's actually making my body change, which is fabulous! :-) Who's have thought, eh?

ICE SKATING ROCKS!

Playing games

Since choir seems to be over until sometime in September (apart from the odd summer sing every third monday of the month) I've suddenly got time on my hands Monday nights.
What a nice coincidence to go to www.meetup.com and find a group of people meeting up every monday night to play games at a bookstore here in the close vicinity!
Needless to say I was very excited because I LOVE games of all kinds but by choosing to live apart from friends and family (and choosing new friends who really aren't into games) I never get to play anything apart from stupid computer games.
So off I went to the bookstore this evening to see what the Meetup group is all about. I played two games, one very short, the other longer and more demanding.
The first was called Rumis and was really fun. You gotta play a few times to get into it obviously but it was over in something like 10 minutes. That's the kinda game that is cool to play when you're tired and not up for much more.
The next game I played was called "El Grande" and thankfully, 4 out of the 5 players (me included) had never played this before. So it took us about 2 hours to play it and I have to admit that everyone else got the game much faster than me and I did end up feeling like I was holding everyone up. Which isn't nice when you play a game and are supposed to be having fun. But it was a good time nevertheless and once I was done playing, I looked around at all the other games that people were playing and came across what they call Ligretto in Germany. Here in the US they call it something different altogether and it's only a teensy bit different but I recognized it as soon as I heard the squeaks and the laughter and saw everyone wildly reaching to place cards on the table.
The people were really nice, I took an instant dislike to one of them but everyone else seemed really cool and patient and there to have fun. There was one table piled high with games everyone had bought and I was dying to play them all right then and there!!! Needless to say, depending on the game, there's only time to play one or two games in the two, three hour period we've got so there's all those games that are being left unplayed! To think that I spend EIGHT HOURS a day working, and only have two hours a week to play games drives me nuts!!! Oh, I wish I was rich!

Anyway... it was all great fun, I'll need to make sure to play other games next week and with other people so I get to meet others from the group as well. And maybe, just maybe, there could be another day of the week this could be done too, not just Mondays. Because let's face it - NOTHING goes over my choir practice!

Oh and I'm the new owner of a 2003 Toyota Corolla! YEY! I bought the car after realizing that my current piece of crap wasn't going to get me through the next few weeks. Looking back on the fact that I spent $5000 on a Kia Spectra (that I used for about four months until it started doing funny business, like stalling on me while driving 60mph), then got this Dodge Stratus from the dealer as a replacement for the Kia, but no money back or anything even though this Dodge was never worth more than $2000, makes me realize how badly that asshole treated me and how gullible I am when it comes to cars. Of course I had no choice back then, he was a friend of my boss's boss and the only one who was willing to give me a car without asking for a credit check, but still... I should've known better.
In fact, I DID know better - when the time came to move to the US I always said I can deal with ANYTHING on my own... anything. I just can't deal with buying a new car. And I was right. I couldn't deal with it, I got screwed by a lying car dealer and I learned my lesson.
This car will hopefully be better and less bad luck (this car salesman seemed much nicer and more trustworthy... well as trustworthy as a car salesman will get). I paid $9999 for it in the end (they gave me $500 for the Dodge as a trade-in) so I think it's a good deal.
I will take pictures once I get it on Wednesday and post them up here.

Time for bed now... goodnight! :-)