Thursday, August 30, 2012

Exploring Springfield

In our neighborhood we have a little cluster of stores in an area called Pickwick Place (named after the street, Pickwick, on which they're located). So a block and a half from our house there is a yoga/massage studio, organic foods market, tea bar & bites restaurant, pizza store, pasta to go shop and an excellent bakery/ice cream shop. We have visited all of these businesses except Zen studio, the yoga/massage center. We will definitely be going back to the Tea Bar & Bites, Elle's Patisserie and the Homegrown Food Market. The first weekend we were in the neighborhood I noticed a sign advertising a beer tasting at the Market on Saturday afternoon so Dan and I ambled over there to check it out. Mother's Brewing Co, a fantastic local brewery, was there sampling their brews. We enjoyed chatting with the young man serving the brews and the feeling must have been mutual because he gave Dan a free t-shirt! 

The next day, with Dan sporting his new threads, we went off to explore the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden located at the Nathanael Greene Park. It was lovely! We bought a bag of fish food for a quarter and created a koi fish and turtle feeding frenzy. We strolled the garden and got our Zen fix in the meditation area.
So Zen

Dan feeding the fish
Feeding Frenzy!

After our stroll through the Japanese Garden (where we did not see a single other person)! We headed over to the Nathaneal Greene Park where we saw lots of people (perhaps because there is a nominal fee at the Japanese Garden) and many butterflies in the butterfly garden. We found sunflowers taller than Dan and beautiful butterflies.

Dan, in his new shirt, with a Sunflower

Gorgeous Monarch

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moving In

On July 27th, in 102 degree heat, we did our walk through, closed on our house then, with the help of our friend Ray, unloaded the moving van and started unpacking. After purchasing the home we continued our mission of infusing the local economy. In the span of two weeks we bought a house, a washer & dryer, two beds, a couch & love seat and a dining table & six chairs. Phew! At least we went the bargain route for Dan's spiffy new bike for $40 off craigslist that takes him to work every day. We also hit up a couple antique stores for some fun end tables. We still don't have our couch or curtains so I will wait to post pictures of the our new place until we're done putting on the finishing touches. We do have some pictures on the walls but not all of them . . .

When we arrived for our walk-in the current owners were just finishing up their clean-up/move-out and they introduced us to the pair of nesting love doves on the front porch. We named the pair Ozzie and Harriet and about a week and a half after we moved in we were excited to find these two chickadees had joined the family:

Harriet and her two chicks
The chicks did not wait long before they flew the nest - Harriet is again an empty nester. Apparently love doves will nest in the same spot so we might be stuck with these two for a while :-).

Soon after moving in we discovered that in addition to the beer and leftover pizza the previous owners had left for us they also left us with a broken garbage disposal and mice! Yikes! The former problem was solved by a little elbow grease from Dan (and several trips to Ace Hardware). The latter problem took a little more patience on our part. We dutifully set up traps and put out mouse poison in the basement and coat closet. Getting rid of the vermin was a team effort: on my way up from laundry in the basement one afternoon I spotted one in the dining room so I pointed it out to Annie and told her to "Go get it" and she did! Her (part) ratter breeding came out in her - although as soon as she had pounced on it and killed the helpless thing she went back into typical Annie mode and was all at once shocked and scared by the wee mouse. We were very proud of her and word apparently got around in the mouse community that there was a vicious dog on the premises  because we haven't seen (or seen evidence) of any since her kill :-)

Annie, the mouse hunter, in front of the fireplace

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Moving to Missouri

On July 23, with the help of friends, we packed up our moving truck and on July 24th we hitched the car behind the truck, said goodbye to Williamsburg and drove 9 hours to Columbus, Ohio, our half-way point. In Columbus we stayed with our good friends, Anne, Zack and Maya. We had lots of fun catching up and exploring Columbus with them. When we arrived Anne had cooked up a yummy dinner that we shared then we all went off to the local library where there was an outdoor concert for us to do lots of dancing with Maya! The following day Anne and Maya showed us around German Village and introduced us to the Jeni's Splendid ice cream. Annie was reunited with Coltrane, her pooch pal, who was looking very good. That evening we drove over to Dayton to hang with Alex and Liz over dinner and drinks - we're getting very excited for their upcoming wedding over Labor Day weekend in Portland, Maine.
Maya outside her playhouse
After a day of rest for Dan, our faithful Budget truck driver, we got back on the road to Missouri. After another 6 hours we saw this: 

St Louis Arch
Yay! We were in Missouri, crossing the mighty Mississippi, passing the gateway to the West and only 3 hours from our destination! Dan and I agreed that the last hour of the drive was the longest of the whole trip - it just seemed like we would never get there. I suppose that's because our anticipation was so high at that point. Soon we arrived in Springfield at our trusty Howard Johnson hotel (where Annie was welcome) and collapsed for the evening as we looked forward to the next day's excitement of walk-through, closing and move-in.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

More Fun in Ann Arbor!

No trip to Ann Arbor would be complete without a visit to the Washtenaw Dairy so after dinner Saturday night at Mom and Dad's with the Dixons Becky took me the Dairy where we shared an ice cream in my old neighborhood.
Becky in front of Washtenaw Dairy
 After indulging in some ice cream we went down to Main Street where we did some bar-hopping from Black Pearl to Conors then over to Babs - it was fun to be in a town with night life again!
Becky and Mary at Black Pearl
 Of course we had to stop at Pizza Pino for a late night snack and a trip down memory lane at the old neighborhood pizza joint.

Mary at Pizza Pino
 On Sunday evening I drove out to the Cornell-King property in Tecumseh where they treated me with dinner, baby cuddles and some dog kisses! It was great to meet adorable baby Scarlett - she is such a sweet and happy baby.
Scarlett enjoying her high chair

Mary, Scarlett and Jenn
 I also got to see one of Annie's best buds, Sam, while I was at Jenn and Darrin's house. Sam is doing great and told me to send Annie her canine regards.

Sam lounging around
 On Monday night Becky came over for dinner and then we hit the town, checked out the Townie Party, strolled around campus and enjoyed a gorgeous night in Ann Arbor. On Tuesday I went in to the old office at Pure Visibility for a quick hello and to gather up Brent and Lauren for a Taco Tuesday lunch at Sabor Latino with Ross. It was great catching up with them, hearing about Brent's wedding plans and Ross's upcoming move to DC. After lunch Lauren, Ross and I enjoyed some truffles from Schakolad - oh how I miss their chocolates!
Mary as Edgar Allen Poe and Becky as Herman Hesse at the Townie Party
The original on Liberty Street
 On Tuesday night I met up with Darby, Kristie, Julie, Kim, Diana and Megan at Arbor Brewing Company for dinner and drinks. It was great to hear about Julie's wedding plans and see Kim who is expecting a baby any day now. After dinner Kristie, Megan and Diana met up with Matt at Melange for a cocktail.

Diana, Megan and Mary at Melange
On Wednesday I dusted off my tennis racket for an always competitive and fun game with Janette, Karen and Dave. Karen brought her kids - it was so fun to see how big Benjamin, Noelle and Devin are getting! Not too much longer before Devin is taller than Karen ;-). For lunch mom treated Megan and I too a Mediterranean feast at Ali Baba's. It was such a wonderful week in Ann Arbor and I can't wait to visit the mitten again soon.

Visiting Ann Arbor

The week before our move from Williamsburg to Springfield I escaped the boxes and tape for a week of fun in Ann Arbor! Unfortunately I was not able to make the Kelly Family Reunion but my siblings and niece all made it out for the trip so I got to see all of them (some more briefly than others) before heading back down to Virginia. As you can tell from my photos below Audrey was the star of the show!

Grandpa's favorite enjoying the patio
We had lots of fun watching her crawl around inside and outside the house. Grandma and Grandpa got lots of cuddles in:

We took Audrey to the popular Plum Market for some shopping where she helped us pick out lots of yummy foods that Ellen could mash up into baby food.

 Audrey met many new friends while in Ann Arbor; Helen, Rob & Ruth Dixon and John & Doris Melvin - she was loved by all! We made sure Audrey was protected from the summer sun and I was on a personal mission to make sure that she received an abundance of bear hugs :-).

Audrey in her high chair on the patio
Ruth was kind enough to loan a stroller, pack and play to us for Audrey's use while in Michigan and she was also very sweet to take us to the Huron Valley Swim Club for a chance to cool off. Ellen and I enjoyed going off the high dive and Audrey seems quite eager to tackle the high dive herself one day in the not so distant future! She's quite the water lover.

Audrey and Ellen enjoying the big pool
Audrey crawling around in the baby pool
My flight out of Detroit coincided with Dan McG, Chris and Alex's flight in to Detroit so I planned to see all of them on Saturday for a brief airport visit. When Dad and I arrived at the airport to pick up the guys we had received the bad news that Alex had missed his connection in Philadelphia so I wouldn't be able to see him at the Detroit airport after all . . . I'd have to see him at the Philadelphia airport  instead! My layover was also in Philly where he was stuck waiting for the next flight, so I had a brief visit with Dan and Chris at the Detroit airport then another visit with Alex in Philly :-).