Saturday, January 28, 2012

A strange morning

 I've not seen clouds like these before.  Thought they were worth a few photos.  There wasn't any wind blowing, at least not that I could see or feel.   I have no idea what caused this odd pattern.

The other strange thing about this morning is that shortly after I got up, my back started hurting.  I've had trouble on and off with my sciatica, but always before, I could figure out what I had done to trigger it.  (Moving furniture, too much gardening, pulling vacuum cleaner around, etc.) This time, I haven't a clue.  It rather messed up my plans for the weekend.  I was going to get out and trim off the rest of the dead stems on my plants and perhaps clean up the deck a bit.  Instead, I am sitting with a heating pad against my back, trying not to have to get up very often and moving very slooowly.  Typically, this problem will be over by tomorrow, but it's a real nuisance while it lasts.  I really would like to have a 30 year old body instead of this one that is 70 +!!  Anybody want to trade? 

Yesterday, our lunch bunch (3 of us) ate at a 'new' restaurant - Busboys and Poets.  It's located in Hyattsville, along route 1.  I had not been in that area in years.  Boy, has it changed!  There is a new 'art district' a few block further south and the whole area is undergoing renovation.  A number of lots are empty, but with evidence that something may soon be built.  There are some very interesting new apartment buildings on one side street.  There are several new restaurants and some old ones that are getting spiffed up.  Wells Fargo Bank has a huge new building on a corner.  All these improvement have been a long time coming.  It's good to see rejuvenation along a run-down major street.  The restaurant where we ate had really good food and the service was attentive, but it's one of those places with the ceilings open to the rafters, which means it's extremely noisy!  I wish this were not the style for restaurants.  It's not a place to try to have a conversation.  I probably will not go back, because of that.  It might be a good place to eat with noisy kids, so I'll keep it in mind for the next time Kate and family visit.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My busy week

I am the jewelry buyer for the hospital gift shop.  I volunteered for this job last spring when the shop got a new manager.  It's really fun!  I get to look at an incredible amount of pins, necklaces, scarfs, bracelets, rings, earrings and watches.  Then I chose items that are affordable and that I think will sell in the shop.  We try to keep our prices under $20, although sometimes necklace/earrings sets are priced a bit higher.  This week we had two buying opportunities - one at a discount place in Rockville and the other from a company whose rep brings samples to us.  The place in Rockville has a much wider selection, but it's a bit more expensive on some items.  I bought from both vendors.  After selecting jewelry for this spring and summer, I then have to put our price on each piece.  Finally, I rearrange the display cases to include some of the new items.  I can't do much of that on the days when I'm running the cash register, so I went in several times before the shop opened.  The only day I wasn't there this week was Tuesday.  It's almost as if I was actually working at a paying job!  Next week will be back to normal.

One of the things I did recently was explore whether I could get a lower rate on my mortgage.  This was an interesting experience, although not profitable.  I applied on-line and subsequently received a letter telling me that I was qualified for a 15-year mortgage and what the interest rate would be.  They did not mention other fees, so I was hoping those were wrapped into the amount of loan they mentioned.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  When I spoke on the phone with a rep, they quoted me a higher monthly payment, which included various fees.  This is the company that already holds my mortgage, so it seemed to me that they did not need to run a title search; pay taxes in advance; and do a couple of other things that are related to a NEW mortgage.  However, they say that is not the case and they have to do all the various paperwork and issue me a new mortgage.  Too bad.  I said 'no thanks'.  I have a rather small mortgage, so the interest isn't much of a burden, despite my rate being higher than what is now offered.  I think they are not really interested in refinancing a small mortgage.  They kept asking me if I didn't want to borrow extra money.  Oh well, at least now I know not to bother with refinancing.  Lesson learned.

I am taking a Raku pottery class again this winter.  It's rather expensive, so I only do this once or twice a year, rather than just continuing to take the class year round.  I don't have any photos from that class, as the first firing is still a week away.  "Watch this space" as they say.  There is more to come.

I also signed up for the 'Bain Senior Chorus'.  We start rehearsals next week.  I have no idea what kind of music we will be singing.  (At Christmas, it was mostly pop music and carols).  Our next concerts are in May.  Singing with this group is fun.  So far the music has not been very difficult, but it's interesting music.  A few years ago, I joined a large interdenominational choir that sang religious music.  The sound produced by about 100 voices was amazing, but the music was dreadful.  It was corny and simplistic - just not my kind of music.  I stayed for one concert, but that was all.   I sing in my church choir and really enjoy the music there, but it's not really enough, so I'm always looking for other singing groups.  Unfortunately, most of them meet at night.  I'm really tired at night, so I try not to get involved in evening activities.  I currently have two a week, sometimes three.  The Bain chorus meets day times, which is great for me.

Today our lunch group, which is very small this week, is trying a new (to me) restaurant in Hyattsville - Busboys and Poets.  One of our group has been there and recommended it.  She gave me directions, which I hope I can follow.  I used to know the area really well, as I worked near there, however I haven't been there much in the last 20 years.  Wish me luck finding the place!

Friday, January 20, 2012

more photos from the Christmas Fair in Hyde Park

 This snowman was a 'bouncy castle' inside.  It was really huge, although it's hard to tell from the photo.
 I'm not quite sure what this photo shows.  I think it might be the merry-go-round in the foreground.  Well, actually the Coke cup is in the foreground, but I wasn't counting that as an object of interest!
 Here's the big slide. 
 Swan boats, of course!
 This should be "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!"  However, I didn't see any lions.  Maybe they are hiding behind all the other stuff.

Below is the last booth, located just before we exited the fest grounds.  I thought the "Singing Chicken Show" would be interesting, but no one else wanted to see it!  LOL

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More photos from England trip - The Christmas Fair

 Lots of jewelry here.  No, I did NOT buy any earrings!  At least not here....
 Cute kid, - not one of my grandkids - on the carousel.  Really interesting beasts for riding.
 Didn't see Santa at 'his' pub.  In England he's mostly called Father Christmas, anyway. Lots of other folks were enjoying the beverages.
I was surprised that the kids didn't want to go on this one.  They love roller coasters.
Don't know what this ride did, but it looked like it was more my speed. I want to stay on the ground and not spin around too fast!  When it comes to carnivals, I'm really a 'cheap date'.  I don't go on most of the rides.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

back in the swing

It seems as if I jumped right back into all my activities here when I returned from England last week.  No rest for the busy, I guess.  Actually I enjoy all my activities and like being busy.  A few things have changed recently.  I gave up volunteering at the church library back in the fall, when I joined a senior choir at the Bain Center.  Singing with the group was great and I will continue with them.  The choir is on break just now, but will resume sometime in the spring.  The other major change in my schedule is that the pottery class I used to teach is not currently being held.  The rec center wants to have at least 6 students in the class and they only got 2 for the latest session.  So, I'm not teaching on Monday afternoons.  I really miss the women who were in that class.  Also, the money was nice - it wasn't a huge amount, just 'running around money' but ....  I don't want a job that ties me down and in today's economy, I haven't even considered looking.  Luckily my retirement is sufficient for my needs.  I signed up for a Raku class at Montpelier Arts Center.  I try to get in at least one of these sessions a year.  Raku firing is so different from regular kiln firing.  The pieces are very unique - I love them. 

 While I was in England, I took many photos  - mostly of the trip into London to see the lights.  I put a couple of pictures up on Facebook, but will post some here as well.  We had a very good day for that excursion - it was warm enough for us to NOT NEED COATS!  In addition to the store windows, we chanced upon a Christmas fair, so I have photos of the brightly decorated booths and rides.  With sunset coming so early in December (about 4 PM) we were able to wander around to view the street decorations and still catch a train home in time for dinner.
 The first photo is self-explanatory - Kate giving Alex a hair cut.  His hair was really long (for Alex) when I arrived, but I think he likes it shorter - just like his dad.

These other photos were taken at the Christmas Festival in Hyde Park.  The booths were highly decorated, as you can see.  We didn't buy anything and the kids didn't beg to go on rides, which surprised me.  We did get a bit to eat/drink.  Alex had cotton candy, Kate and I mulled wine.  I forget what the girls nibbled on.  Despite the crowds, it was fun just strolling around the festival.  We walked from there back into the shopping district to view Christmas displays.  I'll save those photos for another entry.