Oops, Never Mind

I ended up bailing on the Como Conservatory yesterday. We got a dusting of snow, followed by a little freezing drizzle, and it made the roads just shitty enough that I didn’t feel like doing that much driving. Instead, I just went to my mom’s house and took her out to lunch at a nearby restaurant.

But first, I had to get out of the house, which proved to be trickier than you might expect. When I went to turn the handle of the door from our house to the garage, nothing happened. The handle moved, but the door latch didn’t. Just another thing in our current home that decided to break before we make our escape.

In the essence of time I went out the front door and opened the garage via the keypad. My husband’s a pretty handy guy, so I assumed he would come up with a solution within a day or so. Since he had an appointment yesterday afternoon, he was gone when I came home and I wasn’t sure whether I would have a path in through the garage or if I would have to use the front door again.

His short-term solution made me laugh. When I came home I found the door handle was gone and I could just push the door open. It turns out that the latch is truly broken, but the door has a deadbolt and there’s no lock in the handle, so he’s just planning to replace the handle without the latch. We’ll still be able to open and lock the door, which is all we really need short-term. The house has not thwarted us yet. Today’s photos are of cedar waxwings. Just because.

Icy White Stuff

On Monday the high temperature was 57 degrees. It was drizzling when we headed out for a walk in the morning, but we sucked it up because we knew it would be our last walk for the year. By the time evening rolled around it had started to rain in earnest and then the rain turned to snow as the temperature proceeded to plummet 40 degrees. Minnesota giveth and Minnesota taketh away.

By Tuesday morning our driveway was a sheet of ice. I emptied two containers of Ice Melt on it and barely put a dent in the skating rink. I didn’t really want to leave the house, but we needed to venture out for food so we stopped at Target on the way. Surprisingly, they still had stock in Ice Melt. We picked up two twenty pound bags.

I went out again yesterday morning and spread another twenty pounds of Ice Melt. Then I spent an hour in the afternoon scraping up the melting ice with a shovel. Even after all that, there was still a wide band of ice at the bottom of the driveway, as well as a few scattered patches here and there. I made a third pass with the Ice Melt, hoping I could finish the job today. I almost cried when I saw the fresh dusting of snow.

Last winter we had a lot less snow than average, but experienced several occurrences of freezing rain. I hope this isn’t turning into a trend. I’m a native Minnesotan, I can deal with snow, it’s part of my DNA. Freezing rain is a nightmare. Especially next winter when we’ll be dealing with a much steeper driveway. If this keeps up, I’ll need to start buying Ice Melt in bulk.

In honor of my battle with icy conditions this week, I’m featuring a few images from our helicopter trip to the glaciers in Juneau. Our driveway wasn’t quite this bad, but you get the idea.

Pantless and Speechless

I pre-ordered and paid for a pair of travel pants on June 1st. They were originally supposed to ship in August, then the date slid to September. Then I received an email in late September, apologizing profusely that the ship date was now out to the end of October. To make up for the inconvenience, they offered to ship a free top or a $50 gift certificate along with the pants.

On November 1st I received another email informing me that the inventory was due in their warehouse within a few days and providing me with a link to pick out my free top. So I picked that out and waited. The weekend after Thanksgiving I realized I still hadn’t received my order or a ship notification for it, so I sent an email to their customer service department.

A day later I received a response that my order should have shipped by now and that they would look into it. I waited another week with no response. So I emailed them again on Monday. This time they responded within hours, only to tell me that they were short shipped on the size and color (blue) I ordered and would I instead like to have Ginger (baby poop) or Red (period blood)? Or I could pick out any other pant from their website instead.

The only problem is that every other pant they offer is skinny legged and not really appropriate for my big ass thighs and calves. So I promptly responded that I wanted a refund and to be removed from their mailing list. Their tepid response – “We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.” You mean like keeping my money for six months, stringing me along with promises and delays and then not being able to ship what I ordered?

The whole event left me enraged. I composed endless flaming emails in my head, cursing their shitty customer service and predicting they would be out of business within six months. Then I realized I was blowing the whole thing out of proportion as a way of channeling my fear and anger over our house estimate. The stupid pants were overpriced and wouldn’t fit me until I lost some of the stress weight I’ve gained over the last year anyway.

So I didn’t send the email. Maybe, after I’ve calmed down, I’ll send a more constructive one detailing my disappointment and explaining how it was an incredible customer service fail on their part. Or maybe I won’t. Today I’m featuring the last of my dahlia images from October, because dahlias make everything better.

Mail Oddities

We get a lot of packages. No, seriously, a lot. It’s pretty much like Christmas around here every week. I get text messages and emails daily, informing me of USPS package progress. My husband gets the same for FedEx and UPS. Managing deliveries is one of the things that makes having a second home such a pain.

Most of the time the notifications are accurate and invaluable, but every once in a while they leave me scratching my head. Back in August, I received an “Out for Delivery” email notification and then about two hours later, one stating “Tendered to Military Agent.” Whaaat? Of course I googled it. The status is only supposed to be used for mail shipped to an APO address, but based on my search results, it’s a common incorrect scan by the carrier. We received the package just fine.

Then, about a month ago, I received an “Out for Delivery” email followed by “Delivered, Parcel Locker” four hours later. Now, we have parcel lockers at our Phoenix house, but not here. If it doesn’t fit in the box, it goes on the front step. Once again, it was a bad scan and we received the package just fine.

You know what else is just fine? These flowers from the Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. I still have a lot of images to share from our vacation in September. Hard to believe it was just over two months ago that we returned from that trip.


Post Cruise Pondering

I’ve always been very resistant to the idea of cruise vacations. When we booked our family trip to Alaska, it was a no-risk way of trying one out. I didn’t pick the cruise, so no ownership of the outcome, and the main point was to spend time with family, so we would accomplish that even if the cruise itself was a bust.

Turns out, there were a number of things I found amusing about the cruise. One was the changing day of the week on the elevator carpets. It totally makes sense, as it’s easy to lose track of the day while you’re on the ship, but it made me wonder – did one person run around and change all of them? Or do a squadron of people appear at the stroke of midnight and switch them out?

Another aspect I loved was the daily towel animals provided with the turndown service. I looked forward to getting back to our cabin and seeing what had been left on the bed. I’m not sure how the whole towel animal thing got started, but it was honestly one of my favorite parts of the trip. Silly, I know. In honor of recognizing the quirky parts of cruising, I’m featuring some of the quirkier photos from the trip.

Day at the Conservatory

I just realized I never followed up with a post on my visit to the Como Conservatory with my mom on her birthday. I better get on that before she nags me about not posting, like she did after her birthday last year. The motivation for going was to see the fall flower show in the sunken garden. That turned out to be the least interesting part.

The fall flowers were mums, lots and lots of mums, mostly purple. The overall effect was nice, but I’m not a huge fan of mums and there weren’t really great photo ops in that room. There was a fountain and pool with lily pads, which featured some nice reflections. While the fall flowers weren’t particularly impressive, the rest of the conservatory was gorgeous. I was especially inspired by the fern room, which was cooler and less humid than the tropical rooms. Definitely the model for our new conservatory.

Of course the real point of the day was to spend time with my mom, who was rocking a cool, new haircut. Still beautiful and stylish at 76 – I hope I can emulate that. After our conservatory visit, we headed to downtown Minneapolis for lunch. Since it was a Sunday afternoon and the Vikings were playing, we pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves. They still managed to screw up my mom’s lunch, leaving out 3 of the 4 ingredients in her risotto and reducing it to a bland mix of rice and mushrooms.

They fixed it, of course, and gave her another healthy shot of wine to drink while she waited. By the time we finished lunch and started walking back to the car, my mom was more than a little buzzed. Completely adorable. She even stopped and posed for a photo with Sasquatch outside of Target Center. All in all, it was a lovely day.

Minnesota Miracle

Minnesota weather is famous for its extremes. After a run of well below normal temps in November, we’re now entering a string of above average days. Case in point – we went for a walk the morning after Thanksgiving and my husband wore only a long sleeved shirt. We ended up walking 2 1/2 miles before we decided to stop for food. Along the way, we debated back and forth about eating there or carrying it home.

Eating there ended up winning out for three reasons – we were hungry, it was easier than carrying the food back home and it was nice enough to eat outside. You heard me, we were eating outside the day after Thanksgiving. The sun was shining brightly, it was 53 degrees out and there was almost no wind. It was glorious. Days like that are what gets most Minnesotans through the seemingly endless winter.

Our walk might not have done much for my physical health, but it was a tremendous boost for my mental well-being. Speaking of glorious weather, that’s what we experienced for much of our trip in September, when these photos were taken. We found a perfect grove of aspen trees on our way from Banff to Lake Louise. The lighting wasn’t optimal, but the brilliant blue sky sort of made up for it.

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, I started a string of daily posts that has continued uninterrupted since then. The first 30 days were serendipitous, fed by a string of house events and our family trip to L.A. When we crossed over into 2017, I gave myself the intentional challenge to try and post something every day, and so I have. I’m stubborn that way.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been exceptionally difficult at times and I’ve frequently struggled to find material. I’ve often relied on my prodigious photographic output to cover for my lack of words. The hardest part has been trying to keep a (mostly) positive attitude. Last Thanksgiving, when this string started, I foolishly thought we’d be making dinner in our new house this year.

That didn’t happen. Instead we heated up a pre-cooked dinner from Whole Foods once again. Moreover, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and likely Easter won’t happen in our new house either. We will be on the Artisan Home Tour in June, so that’s our drop dead date now. The landscape might be a little rough, depending how soon the weather warms up next spring.

Meanwhile, I’m committed to continuing daily posts at least through the end of the year. Beyond that, who knows? They say if you do something for 30 days in a row it becomes a habit. By the end of this year, I’ll be at 400 days. Maybe I won’t be able to stop at that point.

Just Keep Being Thankful

It’s really hard to believe it’s Thanksgiving already. On second thought, no it’s not. This whole year has just flown by. I could honor the day by writing a post about all the things I’m thankful for, but honestly, that would be long and boring.

Instead I’m going to feature some dreamy landscape images from our Photo Walk at the Woodlake Nature Center. I bemoaned the lack of photo opportunities back when I first wrote about the walk, but the more I look at these, the more I love them.

I’m coming to the conclusion that my best abstract landscapes all include some element of water. The ones without water just don’t have the same effect for me.

I’m not exactly sure why that is, maybe something to do with how the reflections naturally tend toward the abstract. I keep thinking I can come up with some formula to help me create these types of images.

Meanwhile I keep stumbling along, trying different things and occasionally getting lucky. Each one ends up being a happy accident. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Happy Thanksgiving!

Challenge Denied

There’s this ridiculous “challenge” going around on Facebook right now. It requires you to post one black and white photo a day for seven days with no people depicted and no explanation. Oh, and every day you have to challenge someone new to join in the insanity.

I don’t know how to begin quantifying all of the issues I have with this so-called challenge. Setting aside the obvious lack of actual challenge to the challenge, I have a host of personal objections.

Number one is I don’t like being manipulated, especially via social media. I don’t share or re-post things on demand, even if it’s for a cause I strongly support. I use Facebook to share photos and tiny glimpses of my life and to keep up with my friends, that’s it, period. I don’t post anything political or controversial and I ignore or unfollow people who insist on doing so. To do otherwise is a sure path to insanity.

Number two is I’m a photographer and I’ll share the photos I want, when I want. I already post a random photo of the day, every day on Facebook. Now you want me to post an additional photo based on some stupid criteria? Homie don’t play that.

Finally, there’s the whole aspect of badgering someone else to join the stupid challenge. It’s not enough to just manipulate me, you want me to pass it along. My response to my friend’s “challenge” was one word – DENIED. No one’s going to make me post random black and whites with no explanation. I can do that all by myself.