Tuesday, December 25, 2007


It's so much fun to savor the time with family and friends, eating good food, and participating in all those family traditions. Believe me, Christmas is my favorite time of year, hands down (as if you all hadn't already guessed :) ). However, a more important reason, and one I continually pray will be at the forefront of my mind, is the birth of Jesus and the ultimate gift He gave to us. And this day is only just the beginning...the celebration culminating at a place called Golgotha 33 years later when He died on a cross for us. So take a moment and reflect over your day today and give thanks- thanks for unconditional love, sacrifice, grace, and mercy. Merry Christmas!

"And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased"".
Luke 2: 7-14

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Two thoughts on movies

Thought One:

Have you seen "I am Legend"? If you haven't...don't. It is the scariest movie ever...I watched most of it with my jacket over my face or watched my friend Lynn's reaction while Chad laughed at us. Example

Lynn: "What was that?" (during the horrendously suspenseful scene when he follows the dog into the dark building- seriously, how many people shouted "don't go in there!")
Melissa: I don't know- I'm not actually watching the movie, maybe its the zombies.
Lynn: There are zombies in this movie?
Melissa: yep
Lynn: What was Parma thinking recommending this movie!? (our friend Brian said it was good and convinced Chad to take us along...). I wish I could capture Lynn's tone of voice...but Brian was pretty lucky he wasn't sitting next to her right then

I knew I was going to have nightmares about it (just like I did with Sixth Sense) and sure enough, I had my first nightmare last night...stupid zombies...stupid stupid zombies and dark places...

Thought Two:

I finally saw "A Christmas Story". My Mom watched it umpteen times last Christmas when she was with my sister (who had just had John Michael) and was staying up late finishing up his stocking. She bought it this year (good memories) and we just finished watching it...I think my favorite part is the Chinese restaurant scene. So funny!

Friday, December 21, 2007

12 Christmas Facts

So Erin tagged me to tell 12 Christmas facts about myself...funny thing is, she and I share some Christmas quirks :)...

1) Both my mom and I own Christmas dishes and use them :)
2) Every year on Christmas Eve (yes, even now), my brother, sister, and I get to open one gift- and it is always Christmas underwear.
3) White Christmas is my all-time, without-a-doubt favorite Christmas movie...I think I have it memorized...well at least all the songs
4) We eat chili (homemade of course- Grandma's recipe) on Christmas Eve...this is at least a 35 year old tradition...
5) My brother, sister, and I used to feel bad for any Christmas ornaments that got left in the box so it was our mission to put them ALL on the tree...we have a lot of ornaments, especially since my Mom is a teacher and gets them as gifts. Needless to say, it didn't really matter what type of tree we picked out, since you couldn't see the tree behind the ornaments. These days, it looks naked since none of us kids are home to show our parents how its done :)
6) My mom makes Christmas cookies and it was the kids job to decorate them: a task we despised 'cause Mom would make about 50 bagillion of them. We made our own frosting from powdered sugar and food coloring and for those last few dozen cookies, we got tired of spreading the frosting on nicely and just started dunking the cookies in the frosting...Mom would never let us give those to our neighbors on the goodie plates so it was more for us :)
7) I usually start listening to Christmas music in October (and so does anyone who does anything artsy-crafty)
8) We have a Christmas Eve party ever year that all our family and friends are invited to...chili and ham provided. Spoons and Jenga are played (my Grandma is really good at Jenga)
9) We feast on our traditional Christmas Day morning breakfast of breakfast burritos
10) We used to wake up on Christmas morning to a new stuffed animal at the foot of our beds. The first year we didn't, my brother and I threw a fit...I was 24... :)
11) Every year we put up my parents first Christmas tree (along with our REAL tree) and we decorate it. They got married on Dec 18th and returned from their honeymoon on Christmas Eve. Every place was closed except for McClellans (drugstore?) and they bought the only tree left, a little two foot thing. It traveled to college with me during my dorm days. It is 31 years old this Christmas.
12) Christmas baking...you can read my other blog about that

I now tag Heather, Desiree, and Adrienne

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Farm

Today Lynn and I met Chad (Lynn's husband) at this restaurant called "The Farm". It's a real working farm that serves the produce it grows, all organic. Super yummy sandwiches and soup. Afterwards, Lynn and I walked around in the vegetable gardens, trying to guess what everything was and bugging the poor workers with questions like "so is there a system to how you rotate the vegetable beds?" and "what are those wire frames for that are over the beds?"

You eat at picnic tables on The Farm

Lynn and Chad

Your food comes in "picnic baskets"

Picking carrots

Then, Lynn took me to her gym. She teaches gymnastics to the "itty bitties" (3 and 4 year olds). Of course, they decided that I needed to be initated and thrown (literally!) into The Pit. And then I had to demonstrate my Tarzan skills as well :) Lots of fun!

Chilling in The Pit (well...that and I can't get out! It's hard!)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Best Nephew Ever!

My little nephew, John Michael, turned one year old today! My sister threw him a fabulous party, albeit in Tacoma, so Auntie couldn't attend . It looks like he had a blast! Happy Birthday John Michael!

Mom, do I have to wear this?

It's good to be the prince...

This frosting is really interesting

Mom helping me open my presents.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Banquet

I went to the Christmas Banquet at my old church this evening. I'm so glad I was here for it because it allowed me to catch up with a lot of old friends all at once.

Janell, me, and Ashley

Erin and her husband Todd are my old caregroup leaders

me and Sophia

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Party in AZ!

That's right, I am in Arizona. Let the vacation begin. To start it off, I had a dinner party/gift exchange for a group of my friends here. Good food, good laughs, lots of fun. Here are some pictures:

AZ Christmas Party 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I found my diamond earring today! It went missing last week, just fell out of my ear. I was really bummed since they were the earrings my parents gave me (and my sister) when we turned 21. I was almost late to console last week because I was so busy crawling on the bathroom floor trying to find it. But tonight I saw something sparkly and there it was! Yay! :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

The BEST news EVER!!!!

My aunt had her surgery today and the surgeon believes he got ALL the cancer! There are a few "sandy" spots, but they will be taken care of with her final three rounds of chemo. Also, the doctors had believed it had spread to her colon as well, but it hadn't! Praise God for His mercy! Words cannot express how thankful I am...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray

By the way, "eat your heart out"? Where did that saying come from...it's kinda icky Indiana Jones-ish...

Anyways, I just spent the last 10 hours doing my Christmas baking (well, minus the hour when I had to run back to the grocery store to get zucchini for the zucchini bread...yeah I know...and then the lady in front of me ran into a car that was zooming across 6 lanes of traffic (Darwin anyone?) and had to wait for the cops as a witness since Darwin lady was trying to argue that it wasn't her fault). Today was the only day I had to get the baking done...mission accomplished (hope the pool tournament was fun!). Now for the random cooking stories:

Someone needs to invent a candy cane crusher...yes a hammer works fine- except when you can't find yours and the recipe calls for "finely crushed candy canes". I tried the food processor, which worked like a gem until the candy cane pieces got stuck under the blade and knocked it out of place...so onto the new blender...well, I pretty much had to feed it itty bitty candy cane piece by piece (again, they wedge up under the blades), but it finally churned out the required 1 1/2 cups...I decided, next time, I don't care if people break their teeth on candy cane bits. Oh and by the way, inhaling candy cane er...dust...not fun.

Do not try this at home...it doesn't work...

So then it was on to the chocolate coconut balls...I truly hate making these things. It is so tedious, but they are sooo good. Once the batter chills, you have to form little balls and then coat them with melted chocolate. Since I do not possess a double boiler (neither does my mom- and she's been doing this for 30ish years), I get to mickey mouse one together and then try to outwit the steam that comes from inbetween the cracks of the pans...it's kinda of a contest between me and the steam- how many times can it get me to fling my hand out of the way- leaving a fine spray of chocolate over me, the floor,...my cats...

The finished chocolate coconut product
Oh, and when is someone going to invent a hood (like those from chemistry class) to use when working with powdered sugar?- and how the heck do they make powdered sugar anyways?

Puppy Chow cooling...
Oh well, when all is said and done, I have 3 batches of Puppy Chow, 5 loaves of zucchini bread, 5 loaves of lemon poppy seed bread, 6 dozen chocolate coconut balls, and a pan of candy cane fudge...church people and office people...bring your sweet tooths...uh..teeth?

Zucchini bread....in case you've never seen bread before :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Personal Best!

So today Lisa, Kevin, and I ran the Christus St. John's Hospital Annual Reindeer Run 5K (quite a mouthful isn't it?). And I ran my personal best! My goal was to run a 12 minute mile. Lisa was timing our run and she said it was ~34 minutes and 40 seconds!!! That means I ran about an 11:33-34 minute mile or so! Lisa was my motivation, because I stayed a little bit behind her and she keeps a good pace. Thanks Lisa! I am so excited! I am even more excited because I ran 3 miles on Monday, 2 on Wed, 3 yesterday, and 3.1 today! That's 11ish miles this week. Whoohoo!! And of course, we all forgot to bring our cameras, but thanks to Santa, we did get a picture to capture the event.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Walmart, Circuit City, Target, Michael's and the mall...those were the stores I visited this morning starting at 5am...

I met up with my friend Erin at 7am in Michaels and after gathering lots o' decorating tidbits, we fortified our energy at Panera and then hit the mall. At Bath and Body Works, a lady asked us if we were all done with our Christmas shopping...Erin and I laughed, cause we really ended up shopping for ourselves (I did get my sister a pink vacuum cleaner (hence the Walmart trip)- as she requested, and my Dad gets something too...eh, I'll do my shopping in AZ).

Here are some pics of my now-festive casa/dom/house...

Christmas decorations 2007


Well another Thanksgiving come and gone. Mine was great, how was yours? I spent the day the Miller's house...they are one of my surrogate families here in Houston...they didn't really have a choice, I just adopted them :). I so love hanging out with them. Good food, lots of laughs, energetic games of Catch Phrase and Scrabble and us gals pouring through the Black Friday ads...what more could you ask for? So many things to be thankful for...

Thanksgiving 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let's GO DYNAMO!!!!!

Well, folks, for the second year in a row, the Houston Dynamo have clenched the MLS Cup with a 2-1 victory over New England Revolution (can anyone say deja vu?). It's all about the orange!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

5K Frenzy

I did it! I ran my first 5K today! I ran the whole way ( I stopped to walk briefly while asking someone if I was going the right direction). I didn't finish last either! I also signed up to run the Houston Marathon 5k (keywords in that statement being "5k"- lest anyone thing I am more athletic than I really am).

Afterwards, to cool off, my friend Stephanie and I walked the course again...so it really was a 10k! Next up...The Reindeer Run 5k in December....bring it on!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dun duh dun dun

I've been sucked into the world of Facebook...uh oh...but I'm talking to some friends from high school, which is really cool...especially considering my 10 year reunion is just around the corner

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Project Status

So, just in case anyone was on pins and needles to know where I am with those projects I mentioned a few weeks back...I have designed my Christmas cards and have most of the supplies and I am on chapter 10 of "Moby Dick". I really need to get started on those bookcases...

Church Picnic

Yesterday was our church picnic...it's been two years since the last one. Cecil and Carla Shy rocked the organization on this one! There were "potato sack" races, tug-of-war, and relay races for the kids (very Anne-ish :) ) and a volleyball game and a softball game for the adults. And there was a moonwalk (you know those blow-y uppy things that you can jump on?). Although once the kids left to tackle the relay races, some of us "big girls" took our turn jumping around :).

Here are some pics (just click the picture to go to the album)

Nov07 Church Picnic

Aunt update

Thank you all for your prayers for my aunt...keep them coming! The tumors are responding really well to the chemo. They are shrinking! Whoo hoo! She's got another round of chemo coming up and then surgery will be discussed.

Last Sunday...

So I am a little behind in posting...last Sunday I went over to the Axelson's for lunch after church. The Lunsfords were there and we had a good time hanging out, chatting, eating really good food, and playing with the kiddos.

Mikaela likes to try on everyone's shoes..included my high-heeled boots. I was afraid she would break her little ankle, but she did really well...must come with the chromosomes...

Mikaela...very pleased with herself

Melissa L. and Nathaniel...in his Cookie Monster pose

But I'm a baby too! Nathaniel, Mikaela, and Elijah

Saturday, October 27, 2007

In Houston, not working

Today I celebrated my first Saturday in a month where I was actually in the state of Texas (and better yet, at home) and/or not working. This celebration included a trip to the scrapbooking store with Lisa and Erin (I only spent 3 dollars!) and then to Chili's for lunch. I dropped by Pam's to have her sign a thank you card and then came home and went RUNNING! I ran 3.5 miles today and felt pretty good. Lisa and I are going to do a 5k fun run in The Woodlands on 11/10. I won't make my 1/2 marathon goal by January, but there is a 1/2er in Seabrook in March and I will be shooting for that.

So that's the play by play of my day...how was yours?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New food

So lately I've been having trouble finding food that sounds appetizing to me, so I went digging online for some new recipes. I found a spinach-artichoke lasagna recipe, a Morrocan soup, Indian dahl, and a recipe using quinoa. Quinoa is a South American grain (kinda a cross between rice and couscous). I made the quinoa dish tonight and it was really good (corn, black beans,quinoa, and cilantro). Yum! I just pulled the lasagna out of the oven...it smells good. I about tripled my spice collection with my trip to the grocery store today. I could only buy the garam masala and tumeric in bulk (they were really cheap though...)...same with the red lentils...so I now have enough to last me about ten years...I hope spices don't go bad...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jana's Wedding

Can I tell you how much I love PA? So much! It was beautiful weather (albeit a bit chilly on the wedding day!). I'm so going back for lots o' visits- I so want to buy some Amish furniture and see the Strasburg train museum, not to mention spend some time in Philly.

The trip was just great! Jana is pretty much another sister to me and it was so awesome to finally meet her friends that I have heard so much about and get to meet her sister-in-law and her nieces and nephews. Her family and Scott's are really close (all the guys work together) and Scottt's older brother Jason and his wife Heidi have just about the biggest servants hearts I have ever seen. I really enjoyed getting to know them. I could go on and on, but I know that many of you are dying to see the pictures...so without further ado...

Jana's Wedding

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Monica!

Happy 22nd birthday to my sis! Hope you had a great one! Love ya!


So I've got 4 projects in mind...

1) To finally build my bookcases. My parents and Grandma gave me Home Depot gift cards for my birthday...back in February...for the sole purpose of building some new bookcases (my current Walmart specials didn't travel so well to Texas...one is permanently canted about 10-15 degrees). Anyways, I was digging through a bunch of Wood magazines my Dad gave me. I thought I wanted to build two mission style cases, but now I'm not so sure. My Dad likes to give me tools for Christmas...I have a router and router table and a biscuit joiner that I haven't even opened yet...but I will! Soon hopefully, now that the weather is starting to cool off, I can actually tolerate working on my balcony.

2) Designing and making this year's Christmas cards...I only managed to get about 10 done last year- due to my late start and a mission in December...this time I hope to send them ALL out!

3) & 4)Two books I just purchased: War and Peace and Moby Dick. War and Peace will be my second Tolstoy (Anna Karenina is awesome by the way). Same with Melville (although Billy Budd was pretty horrific). To be honest, I don't have great hopes about Moby Dick. I have yet to meet someone who actually liked the book...but for literature's sake...I'll suffer through.

So, those are my projects. I'm realistic enough to NOT put a deadline on them, but hopefully in the next few months I can check them off.

What projects do you have on your list?


So after two overnight shifts this weekend, I headed to my friend Pam's house to sleep for a few hours before she and the girls from our girls discipleship group returned from church. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy spending time with these young ladies. They are such fun to be around and always have so much wisdom, regardless of what we are talking about. This time, we had the girls listen to message that was given at Fusion called "Come and Drink". We gave them questions to answer about it and the discussion that ensued was just led by God. So amazing. Ladies, I appreciate your friendship, sweet spirits, and laughter! It was a good dose of fellowship that hit the spot. Thank you!

Jen, Allyson, and Corrine


Kiana, Sandi, Lauren, Karmetra, and Cassia- chowing down

Monday, October 8, 2007

Wedding Summary

I had SUCH a good time this weekend! I finally got to meet Ajay and think he is just perfect for Kaylene. Really nice guy and fun to be around. Congrats you two!It did snow on the day of the wedding, not a lot, but it did. The sun came out at the very end, perfect timing for some outdoor pictures. (Click on the picture below to go to the whole photo album)

Kaylene and Ajay's Wedding

Kaylene and Ajay's friends were a riot to hang out with. It was so nice to meet Naomi and Kirsten, who I have heard much about.

Me, Naomi, Kirsten, and Kaylene
And their air force buddies! I haven't laughed so hard in a long time...they greatly enjoyed singing the 80s tunes that were played. Nothing like watching a bunch of guys in mess dress singing Bon Jovi's "Shot through the Heart" at the top (and I do mean top) of their lungs.

I caught a ride back to Vegas with Mickey, Jen, and Jon and we walked around the strip for a few hours (first time I've been to Vegas), went to a small car show in Caesar's Palace, then it was off to the airport.

New York New York and the strip

1968 Shelby GT 500...
So added to my list of places to go: South Dakota to visit Ajay and Kaylene (although I was already planning this-howver, they are deploying in January), England (to visit Kevin and his wife Kristen-Kevin flies the KC-135- I don't think he has ever met anyone who got excited about that! I think I made his day :) ), Kirsten and David in Florida, and Naomi and Mark in Colorado...whew, let the frequent flyer miles begin! New friends are fun!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Leavin' on a jet plane

Well, I do know when I will be back again, but I am greatly looking forward to getting away from work and hanging out with my good friend Kaylene at her wedding in Cedar City, Utah. Checking out the weather...there's a 40% chance of snow on her wedding day! Will make for some beautiful pictures...but I'm slightly concerned about my hide in that spaghetti strap dress! Yikes! Glad I checked, because I wouldn't have thought to bring a coat...sweaters yes...coat, no...

On another note, I ran 2.5 miles and power walked 0.5 miles this evening. I shaved a few minutes off of my time, hence why I couldn't run the full 3...slow but steady...

I'll blog about the wedding when I return...yay for 4 day weekends...although I really don't understand why we celebrate Columbus Day...he ran into the wrong piece of land!

Monday, October 1, 2007


I ran three miles this evening! I'm not going to tell you how long it took me (yeah, that is definitely a pride thing), but I just wanted to see if I could "go the distance" (hmm Cake anyone?). Slowly but surely, I'll increase my distance and my time...

I added the Frazier family blog to my links. They are my friends who moved to India last month. Looks like they are adjusting well. God is good!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread...uh...woman...

I did it!!!! I ran for 30 minutes without stopping!! I know, I know, you crazy cross-country people (Bobby, Jana, Kiana...) are shaking your heads laughing, but seriously, that is a big deal for this athletically challenged female. Give me a flute and stack of sheet music any day! (In case you were wondering, I gave up sports when I made a basket for the opposing team during a PE basketball game when I was in second grade...YES, I still remember it and the accompanying humiliation, because I was SO excited I had made a basket...talk about bitter irony...hence why I stick to being a soccer spectator)

Oh so on my run today, I saw two potbellied pigs (yeah Lisa, I think they are domesticated, they were grazing in the same area as last time), numerous rabbits, and a little striped snake (I googled it later...a Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake)...who was a bit too close for comfort, but at least he wasn't poisonous...(no, I didn't take the picture)

One of my friends sent me a link to this guy's blog. He took a three month flying trip in a Super Cub around Alaska. The pictures are AMAZING. Check out his blog.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

An Uneventful Weekend

So by this title, you can tell that this won't be a nail-biting, gut-gripping, sweaty-palm tale, unlike my usual blogs (ha!). After two very long and crazy weeks at work, I woke up Saturday morning and went running. I am thinking that I am training for the Houston half marathon in January. I say "thinking" because my rheumatologist told me flat out that he cannot endorse? condone? me running it, but I promised I would go slow...starting with a 5k next month, and see how I feel. The websites I have read on training say you should be able to run at least 30 minutes without stopping. I ran 15 minutes yesterday and about died (ran about 1.3 miles though...), so I went out this evening and slowed my pace down a bit and ran for 25 minutes (no idea what distance). So I think by the end of this week I should be able to hit the 30 minute mark, and I'll go from there. I don't think the 5k will be problem, but we'll see how I do in a 10k...

So after my run yesterday, I had a bagillion dozen things to do, but I was like "I just want to sit on my butt, and read, and do nothing." So I did. My friend Moose had recommended a series of books (Elm Creek Quilters). The first one was excellent. And then I watched a Back to the Future and worked on birthday cards for my friends with October birthdays.

Today I went to the Smythes after church for lunch. They have three children, Matthew (14), Sarah (12) and Katherine (8). Sarah and Katherine helped me to build my Build a Bear (his name is Morris Alexander :) ) a couple of years ago, so I take him over to visit his "playmates" whenever I go over there (unless I forget, which happens quite a bit). We had a great time playing Little House on the Prairie with the stuffed animals. They have such great imaginations. Good food, good company. All in all, a very relaxing, albeit unproductive weekend. Sometimes, you really just need one of those.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Prayer Request

Hey all, I have a prayer request for you. My Aunt Laurie (the one I saw in April for the Nebraska wedding) was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It has spread to her colon and liver. She starts her first round of chemo soon. She and my uncle are in good spririts, especially because now they know what they are fighting and have a game plan. Please say a prayer for them to have strength and encouragement, and for God, in His will, to heal her completely. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Seattle Trip

So my trip to Seattle (well, technically Tacoma) began and ended with me running to my gate at the airport. For some reason, I just can't seem to get to airports with ample time to meander to my gate. This mornings race to the gate consisted of me taking my shoes off (they were hard to run in) and hauling butt to the gate (got there about 4 minutes before the gate closed!). I even beat the little golf-cart thing. All's well that ends well, right?

John Michael finishing up his lunch (he'll be 9 months on the 17th)

Bobby, me, John Michael, and Monica in Alki, with Seattle behind us (John's a little camera shy, so I don't have any pictures of him)

On Sunday we took a trip to Snoqualmie Falls.

John and Bobby went out at night with some of John's co-workers and Monica and I caught up on our chick-flicks (Catch and Release- didn't like, The Holiday- liked) and ice cream. Then on Monday evening we went to the spa (which is now a tradition for us). Good times. I can't wait to see everyone again at Christmas!

Birthday Invitations

So I am calling these my first official order of invitations. A friend of mine is announcing her pregnancy by sending out birthday invitations with her due date. Isn't that a cute idea? Here's the final product. And yes, the mama-to-be contributed some elbow grease.

The outside

The inside (don't worry, I posted these with her permission)

Friday, August 31, 2007


I'm in Seattle visiting my sister and super cute nephew! And...I forgot to bring my camera cables, so no pics until I return to Houston. Monica (my sis) just picked up Bobby (my bro) from the airport. We're going to have a good family time! And I've gotten to babysit John Michael the last two days! Lots of quality auntie time. I'm lovin' it!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Serpent and the Cyclist

Piqued your interest with the title?

So after a productive afternoon of watching the first two Bourne movies with my friends in preparation for seeing the third (hopefully tomorrow), I decided to go for a run before starting on what I am calling my first official order of invitations (for a birthday party! Yay!)

The trail I run on is through a swamp and ends at the beach, so there are signs aplenty warning of alligators and snakes (no, I haven't seen any gators). I've seen snakes twice. The first time I almost ran across one (I thought it was a stick...and then it moved...but I think I moved faster). I'm pretty sure it was just the garden variety. The second time, it was about 100 feet in front of me and just crossing the trail. Today, however, I rounded the corner to see two men standing in front of a bicycle that was lying in the path. The held up their hands for me to stop and called out that there was a snake under the bike. Seeing the snake, which looked suspiciously familiar, I asked if they knew what kind it was...the answer to my fairly ill-timed question was "the kind that hurts you" (and the tone implied I had asked a stupid question...well, I was just curious to see if I was right...and I was, I came home and looked it up...it was a water moccasin...longer than my arm and as big around as my upper forearm...yikes!)

It appears this poor unsuspecting cyclist also recognized the type of snake as he rounded the corner and hit the snake. I have a feeling he must have taken a flying leap off of the bike, judging by the bike's position. The bike fortuitously landed on the snake, pinning it under the rim. Fortunate, maybe, but the snake was now royally torqued off and the cyclist just wanted his bike back.

Well, a metal stake aided in the near decapitation and subsequent flinging into the swamp.
As I started running again, I made sure my headphone wires were securely tucked in...I could just see one of the wires brushing my arm and setting off a delayed case of the heebee jeebees and I would look like I was running to an Irish jig rather than the rocking tunes of The Bravery and Plumb.

And that ends today's excitement.

Friday, August 24, 2007

That's a wrap!

So here are some random last pics from Moscow, including the culprit of my newly oil painted shirt...

Wet paint...

Karen, Natalie, and me at American Bar and Grill (my last night)

One of Stalin's Seven Sisters (this one is going on the Wall)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day off...

So today we had the day off...we haven't been officially told that there will be no BCC (Backup Control Center) due to Hurrican Dean, so I definitely took advantage of the respite. I woke up early (way too early...my poor body is still on the evening shift schedule, which means I didn't fall asleep until after 3am).

ВДНХ- (it's a park with a lot of gardens and fountains (which were actually on!))

The gardens have a space theme, at least the ones in the center garden section...look a UFO!

Recognize the botanical Sputnik?

Makes me want to see the Russian national anthem...


The Kremlin

Hmm, what's that black stuff all over my arm and shirt..oh...yeah...that would be black paint. So in an attempt to get a really cool shot, Kevin had me go on the bridge in front of the church below, while he took the shot from the road level (the bridge crosses over the Moscow River). Well, I leaned against the railing and when I moved away, I noticed some resistance. At first I was like "oh eww, what did I put my hand in?" and then I look and lo and behold there were numerous hand and elbow prints in the paint. I had joined the ranks as well. What is up with the lack of "Wet Paint" signs? And, it wasn't like fresh paint, it was tacky paint. It took about 10 minutes of scrubbing my arm and hands with soap and Wet Wipes to get most of the paint off. I think my shirt (and it was new!) is a lost cause. It's soaking right now...although, it is kinda funny :)

I didn't mean to take this in black and white, but these two little girls were playing tag and I thought it was cute.
One of my favorite 'храм' (or 'cathedral'): Christ Our Savior church.