Sunday, October 23, 2011

The End of Summer

I know the end of summer was actually awhile ago. I also know many of you have been asking to see pictures of where I now live. Well, too bad. Since moving interrupted my attempts at sharing my summer saga, I am going to pick up where I left off and, in one fell swoop, try to show the best tidbits of the many places I visited between the beginning of June and the end of August. So here goes:

New York:
Yes, I did visit Syracuse University, but apparently I only took pictures of my jaunt up to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. One of the summer exhibits there was called One For The Books, featuring just about any and all records related to baseball- not just the hitting, the pitching, the running, but the stories behind them, too.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from that excursion:

The "numbers" of some of my favorites in baseball.

My two favorite teams.

Some baseball at the movies:

In case you can't read the placard, this uniform, worn by right-hander Anthony Michael Hall, was made backwards so that they could reverse the film and make it look like he is a lefty, like Whitey Ford, the person he portrayed in 61*.

"There's no crying in baseball!"

Best baseball film. Ever.
(More on that later...)

After visiting SU, I headed to Ohio to check out Kent State University:

(Hee hee! Someone put some googly eyes on the bench!)

Historical marker explaining the events surrounding the tragedy that occurred here regarding the Vietnam War.

After Ohio, I rested a bit in Indiana before heading out the other coast, visiting friends near Seattle and checking out Washington University.

Freezing at the beach on the Fourth of July (Remember, it's a beach in Washington- not sunny California- the water was COLD!) Still, it was fun to watch fireworks at the beach later in the evening.

Visiting the house where Mikey and Brand lived in The Goonies.
(I totally geeked out! :)

Seattle's year-round farmers' market (This was a big draw for me to move to Seattle... Luckily, I found one here in Syracuse!)

I'm not sure how/when/why this infamous Gum Wall was started, but it is as fascinating as it is gross. Yes, I added my own chewed piece to the ever-growing mass of ABC nastiness.

That's as close as I got to the Space Needle. (I didn't have time/money to actually go up to the revolving restaurant. Oh well.)

The lovely Seattle Temple.

And one of the most breathtaking shots of the entire visit- (and another major inducement for me to move to Seattle) Mt. Rainier in full glory!

(Wouldn't you just LOVE to go to a school where you could walk by this view every day?!?)

After just a few days rest back home, I was off again, this time to Iowa/Nauvoo. My youngest sister was going to take out her endowments in the Nauvoo Temple, so I took advantage of the opportunity to visit my dear friend, Rebecca, who lives about 20 minutes away in Burlington, IA. She breeds Shibas and does dog shows.

(Elise with Elise!)

Remember that earlier reference to the best baseball movie ever? Yeah, since I was in Iowa, I further took advantage of that and went to THE Field of Dreams.

The day couldn't have been more perfectly beautiful. Despite being in Iowa, the peace, the serenity, the tranquility, the purity of this place certainly gives credence to the idea that it is, in fact, heaven.

On the left, graffiti from the movie- "Ray Loves Annie."
On the right, coming out of the cornfield.

And, the house. If I had the money, I would totally buy it. Again, aside from being in Iowa, it is my dream house!

Then came Girls' Camp with the Indianapolis North Stake. We hit record heat indexes that week. It was rough, but the girls were amazing troopers, and we all grew stronger despite the physical challenges!

The Second-year girls on their 5+ mile hike!
(These were my girls...)

Finally, in early August, I drove with my parents and 3.5 year-old nephew to Utah to attend the aforementioned sister's wedding. A perfect culmination to a very full summer!

Mt. Timpanogos Temple (where I did a session earlier in the week).

Jordan River Temple in Utah, where Kirsti actually got married.

Nothing like two toddlers clinging to one's legs to really tone those calf muscles!

Best friends. (At least after some initial uncertainty...) :)

And finally, the happy couple!

Annnnnnnnnd...... Done!

(If a picture really IS worth 1,000 words, I'm glad I went the picture route! ;)

Now, leave me alone about current pictures. They'll get posted when they get posted!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First-ish Impressions

Aside from parents, I don't even know who really still reads this (not that lack of readership will necessarily stop me, since it's a nice way to journal when I don't feel like writing). Since Mom has been bugging me to post something new involving my fairly recent move to the state of New York, and since I have been intending to do it anyway, here goes... (Mom, this one's for you!)

*WARNING: Owing to the boxes still scattered around, I haven't yet taken pictures. This will be a text only post.*
Owing to the numerous items of clutter left behind by the previous roommate, my very first impression of the apartment wasn't that great. Granted, it was also dark (since we arrived after midnight), hot, and I was still stressed with the whole moving process. However, it has more or less grown on me (NOT literally). It is in a converted house, with the main floor being one apartment and the second floor being the other. We are in the second floor apartment. The house is a little older, so some of the numerous repaintings of the doors have made it so they don't fit snugly into their frames. Still, there are a lot of windows, mostly a lot of space (that I have quickly crammed with my a lot of stuff), hardwood floors, a real fireplace!, a nicely spacious and newly redecorated kitchen...
Likes: Hardwood floors, fireplace, large balcony deck (that I will probably like a lot more when the weather gets nice again), shelf space in my room.
Dislikes: No air conditioning (so the first few days, which were hot AND humid, were not as pleasant), not sure about the heating system yet (it has gotten cold, and I don't know when it will get turned on- we don't control it though :/), the shower doors are sketchy (it feels like they always want to fall off, even though I sort-of fixed it so they won't), my closet (I do miss the walk-in closet I had in IN), the musty basement, the dirty attic (where I have tried to clear a space for my numerous unnecessaries at this moment).

Her name is Amanda. She's in her early 20s and is finishing a Master's in marriage and family therapy. She is very outgoing and friendly and, more importantly, enjoys cats (she recently obtained two kittens from her boyfriend, who owns the other two kittens of the litter). She doesn't smoke, but she does occasionally drink, so it was kind of funny last night to come home after work and find a case of Bud Light on the kitchen floor. We don't interact a WHOLE lot because we're both rather busy and both value our space (not unlike Rachel and I). However, when we do talk and interact, we get along quite well. She is into LARPing and is a fan of Castle and Modern Family. I think the biggest thing for me right now is having to relearn the boundaries.
Likes: She is friendly, likes cats (she loves Tonks already, which is nice!), shares some similar interests...
Dislikes: I know I'm a clutter bug, and I know I'm not as diligent with cleaning as I know Mom would like me to be, considering her efforts to ingrain within us the habit of weekly chores, but I will at least sometimes expend my energy to organizing, straightening, washing, cleaning, etc. I know she's busy, but most of her free time is spent in her room, on her computer. I'm not sure how I'm going to address that. I know a little of how Mom must have felt as we were growing up, but it's hard for me to say anything since I often don't have the energy to fix the cleaning problem myself... Still, if that's the only thing I dislike about her, that's not bad at all!

Amanda and her boyfriend really like The Fifth Element, so three of the four kittens are named after characters from the movie: She has Corbin and Ruby (who is actually a female kitten, I guess a sort of homage to the cross-dressing factor of Chris Tucker's character); he has Leeloo (and his other kitten is Skeletor because his face apparently has skull-esque markings). They are hyper a lot of the time- definitely playful kittens. Tonks has definitely had to adjust to having other cats in the house. It has taken awhile, and I still don't think they're bosom pals, but she does okay with Ruby, who is just so sweet and non-aggressive (she's actually quite skittish), and at least she and Corbin don't hiss at each other as often. I think she's getting used to them. They might even be friends by the end of the year. (Of course, then Amanda will be leaving, taking the kittens with her... Oh well, what can you do?)
Likes: They are adorable, they are still fairly tiny (especially Ruby), they are still at that hilarious playful stage, and they sometimes snuggle with me when I sleep (along with Tonks).
Dislikes: Corbin's stinky poo (and the fact that having three cats in general makes cleaning the litter box a much more smelly, and frequent, chore), Corbin's tendency to gnaw on electrical cords, Ruby's tendency to mew for no apparent reason...

I was pleased to find that the transition to the Cracker Barrel in Cicero was much smoother than the one to the Cracker Barrel in Indianapolis. I remember that it was several months before I felt like I fit in with the crew at CB Indy. So many of them were much louder and cruder than the ones I had worked with in Missouri that it was a bit of a shock. However, after a few months, I settled in and, as we got to know each other, I found that I could get along with just about everyone. (Honestly, it probably helped that after a few months, I started teaching and only worked at Cracker Barrel on Saturdays.)

In contrast, I felt like I fit in with the group at CB Cicero within the first few days. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming- just so much more like the co-workers I had really gotten to like at CB Columbia. It just seems that my personality/humor meshes much better with the people here, helping to make the transition a pretty easy one.

I like that this CB so far has been MUCH busier than CB Indy- it does make it harder to get out in a timely manner- sometimes I'm still at work 2 hours after I've been cut off the floor, but I generally make much better money and usually have the hours I need.

For the most part, I like the managers as I've gotten to know them. Of course, some I like better than others (mostly the ones that are more effective), but I haven't had any major issues with any of them (and hopefully never will...). I enjoy most of the servers- I haven't had any major personality clashes with any of them yet.

The dishwashers are mostly nice, but they just aren't as effective. I already miss the dishwashing staff at CB Indy. Dirty glasses/mugs here are fairly common (it's frustrating to have to pull out four or five before finding a clean glass), and dirty silverware had apparently been becoming a serious problem, even before I got here. I think we've found ways to minimize that problem, but it is still a problem getting silverware quickly- servers still often have to sort their own in the dishroom, which is very aggravating because it really is NOT our job to do that. I know the dishwashers have a lot to do, and I sympathize with that, but then, so do we.

Um. What else? Oh, the set-up/layout of the store is different- that has taken a little time to get used to, but it isn't that big a deal, really.

(I do miss some of the regular guests at CB Indy, though, I have to say...)

Likes: Business (the fact that we have a solid amount of it), tips (as a whole, many seem to be a bit better than CB Indy), other servers/workers, getting hours I need, grill cooks that are mostly effective...
Dislikes: Ineffective dishwashers, a couple of ineffective prep cooks, the fact that most of the back-up cooks can't seem to make good, soft (but not doughy) biscuits/corn muffins (they are frequently dry and/or hard), running out of things and not finding out about it soon enough (I had to tell at least four tables throughout the day yesterday that the item they had ordered was gone and wouldn't be available for 30 min. to an hour...), gross sanitizer water (I don't understand what their system of changing it is, but it does NOT seem effective as the water almost always has debris- now sanitized debris- floating in it. I don't care how sanitized it is, debris of any kind does NOT a clean table/work area make.), the fact that we are sometimes so busy that we never have time to clean up after ourselves, Seat-to-Eat is still not being effectively implemented at times, having to roll more silverware than at either of my other CB stores...

(Okay, despite the seemingly long list of dislikes, I really DO like working at this CB.)

Honestly, I haven't taken time to do quite as much exploring as I might like. For example, I haven't seen much of the downtown area, and I haven't explored the beautiful SU campus since moving here (I only remember how nice it was based on what I saw of it this past summer). Most of what I drive in order to get to work is through the more ghetto part of town. I have found some of the nicer neighborhoods/suburbs, but have seen plenty of the grunge of the city, too. I'm also uncertain enough of what the city is like to want to explore too much- I don't know if there are areas to avoid at all costs, if there are truly dangerous places in town or not, and if so, where they are, so I am a bit hesitant to wander too freely right now.

I have found that they have most of the stores I need/want, and they are fairly close by (e.g. Barnes and Noble, the evil-but-necessary Wal-Mart, Target, Lowe's, Aldi). However, I'm having to get used to a whole new set of grocery stores- no Kroger/Kroger affiliates (read: Gerbes) around here. Sad. I have yet to find a grocery store that sells any Denali classic-style ice cream (which means I'm having to live without the amazingly delicious Mint Moose Tracks that Kroger had available with their Private Selection line). Aldi is nice and familiar, but doesn't always have what I need/want.

I also have found that there are no Office Depot stores in the area. Not a huge deal, I suppose, but I just got so used to it. I guess I can either get used to Office Max (:/) or I think there are some Staples around...

Likes: There is a year-round regional Farmers' Market every Saturday morning- love it! Also there is a park about a block away that has a little walking/jogging trail (though I still really miss the Again St. park by the Lowe St. duplex in Columbia...) Other than that, while I certainly don't hate it here, I haven't yet discovered anything so unique or amazing or worthy of mention. Oh, I DO also like that Cooperstown isn't too far away, not is Palmyra!
Dislikes: Getting two tickets within the first three days of moving here. >:-Z I'm hoping I might be able to get them to drop the charges of at least one of them on account of the fact that hey, I just moved here, for heaven's sake! Also, school zones that aren't easy to spot, having to remember which side of the street I have to park on on any given day, having to start up a new bank account (and therefore change all the information with all my online bills/accounts) because there are no Regions banks here, not having Kroger (and Mint Moose Tracks), having to find a new pharmacy because they also don't have Meijer stores here...

Okay, there is my epic entry on my initial impressions/thoughts/ideas of my new living situation.

Up next week, finishing the highlights of my epic Summer Travels simply because hey, we're in OCTOBER already! (How exactly did that happen?!?)