Ticked off, times two


Kris and I made the journey to the Gulls again yesterday, this time taking the girls for a Christmas hike. We were planning on a long hike for Christmas day, where long is greater than three hours. After the call exposing the amazing gifts from the Gulls, we switched plans and asked if they were up for a hike, too. They were interested, but for a shorter one that Liza could walk, and suggested the trails around their new house. A few minutes later, we were on our way.

Kate had been on the trail we were going to hike. The trailhead was near the end of their road, so we wandered down the road, and turned to head along the trail back around to their house.

Once we hit the trail, Kris was terribly keen on letting the dogs off their leashes. Since the trail was along private property, Mike and Kate could give us permission to allow them off leash. I was a little worried about letting them off the leash: that Annie would take off and not return; that Bella would wander off and not return. When we let them off leash at other park, we're confident we'll find them again because not only is the park fenced in (leaving only about 30 acres where the dogs could get lost), but the interesting smells are centralized so they don't go too far. Annie is a beagle in fur only, she acts more like a lab or collie, in that she'll run away along a trail for twenty-thirty yards, then run back to see that you're following, run forward, run back and check. Bella is a true beagle, she puts her nose down, starts sniffing, and wanders away, following her nose.

After a short way down the trail, I agreed to let the dogs off the leashes, but quickly changed my mind when we had to stand around for ten minutes waiting for Bella to wander back to us. We put her on a leash, but left Annie to run, since she seemed to be following us.

Definitely a mistake, as she caught a scent and took off. We kept walking for a bit, as Annie's howls followed us as we walked along, but had to stop again when she seemed to be running along the top of the ridge instead of near us. Some of her howls were almost desperate, a sound Kris assured me meant only that she wanted us to come to her, see what she had caught.

After standing around for another ten or fifteen minutes, and hearing Annie's howls become fainter, I decided to run back to find Annie. I have no idea what possessed me to think that, after three years of ignoring me, Annie would suddenly stop chasing the delicious smell she was following, and come when I called for her. Clearly just dumb on my part.

I gave up after running a quarter mile back along the trail, and ran back to the group, telling Kris he had to go get Annie, she wasn't listening to me. Shock. Mike went with Kris as Kate, Liza, Maeryn and I went back up along the trail. We waited for close to half an hour before Kate gave Liza and I trail directions and instructions on how to break into the house, so that we could turn off the oven, saving the Christmas turkey. Mike hadn't been on the trail before, so Kate didn't feel comfortable just hiking away from Kris and him. She went back to find the boys, as Liza and I went home.

Liza was a trooper. She walked the whole trail, complaining only briefly in the last quarter mile or so. However, even that complaining wasn't really complaining so much as telling me she was tired, and, heck, so was I.

Mike and Kate asked us to stay for dinner, which was a tasty, tasty meal. We went home a little later. After we checked the dogs for ticks, I went to take a shower. That's when I discovered the little hitchhiker.

The poor shadow placement, not withstanding.

I'm really beginning to hate ticks. This is number two in as many years, and, as far as I'm concerned, two too many.

Especially since both are from chasing the dogs into the bushes.

Santa loves us


Santa was good to us today. He brought me a fabulous new printer, which works straight out of the box with my Apple laptop, via Kris. Also via Kris came a set of whisky cordials and some much needed wooden spoons for cooking, my previous ones having fallen victim to Annies over-aggressive "licking" that turned to "consuming" of the actual spoons.

Santa especially loved Kris, with a slew of gifties ranging from the Baseball Forecaster (guaranteed to help with the software he's developed for team drafting in the fantasy leagues he plays in) to a coffee grinder (from his Seekrit Santa, my sister-in-law) that is sure to enable that coffee addiction.

The biggest surprise of the morning, however, was the amazing gifts from the Gulls. It was pretty much the only gift I hadn't figured out before opening besides Heather's, and the only one I didn't know about.

Mike called in the morning to ask if Santa was good to us (he was). We chatted for a bit, and I asked how Santa was to the girls. He said they were good this year, so Santa was good back, but, unfortunately, he gave a gift that needed assembling. Tragically, their tools were buried somewhere in the boxes in the garage, could we help them out?

My initial thought was, um, uh, well, you've seen my tools, so, uh, I hope all you need is a screwdriver, and a flathead at that. Anything else, and you'll have one sad kid shortly.

Out loud, however, I was, sure, let me see what I have, and wandered over to the toolchest. Here I have this amazingly nice toolchest, and all my crappy tools that I've piecemealed together over the years, buying what I need at the time, but never big sets all at once.

In front of the toolchest on Christmas morning was a new full set of metric and standard sockets. Wow, this was so cool! My enthusiastic screaming was something along my most joyous cursing. When I returned to the phone to thank Mike, he asked if I had actually opened the toolchest. I hadn't, so I put the phone down to see what else there was.



Inside was the most awesomest, complete set of tools! The toolchest looked like my dad's set, I had all these really cool, totally awesome, amazing tools. WHoo!

My happy curing continued. I'm sure Mike turned off the speaker phone after the first five seconds of the minute long, "Oh My GOD! LOOK AT THIS! AND THIS! AND HOLY SH*T THIS! WOW!"

Mike later told me he and Liza snuck into the house yesterday when we were out buying souffle ramekins for John and Heidi. In and out in ten minutes, and Santa Gull was very good to us. Liza was thrilled to be his little accomplice.

Cookies at the Gulls


Kris and I went up to Mike and Kate's yesterday evening to make cookies with Liza. Kate invited a fairly big group of people (mostly all from work) to visit, I just hadn't realized how big of a group until we arrived there: everyone was tall. And I mean tall. Kate, Kris and I were the shortest adults there (exaggerating for effect, there were two other women shorter than I am at the party, but there were also five women taller, and all the men were definitely taller, it was like a giants' party, and we were there as midget entertainment).

Kris hadn't been to the Gulls' new house. After the drive up, I think he'll be even less likely to head up very often. Fortunately, they'll be coming down the mountain on a regular basis for work. We went up in Kris' car, and managed to drop his MPG down about five MPG on the way up. The drive took forty minutes, which may limit our visits, and definitely destroys any chance of our moving to the boonies before we're independently wealthy.

After a few minutes at the Gulls' house, it became very obvious that the trip up wasn't going to be a cookie baking event as I was expecting (i.e. similar to the Christmas cookie baking Mom and I would have with the Gudis twins). Liza was playing with a neighbor, who was maybe 13 years old (and, in the tall theme, nearly as tall as I), and much more interesting than a thirty-something ex-neighbor. The two of them dashed around the house, rolled cookies out, played in the loft, all the things two young girls do.

After an hour, I gave up and realized that, no, I wasn't going to have any cookie baking session with Liza, that their move to their fantastic new house essentially ended the ease and comfort of having good friends as neighbors.

I've been a bit upset recently at Mike for moving away. Less so in the last two weeks, but tonight just reminded me of it again. I know that the move is a great move for the family, more room, different lifestyle, and I'm happy for them. But in the way I know is selfish, I miss them a lot. Just as I still miss Ben and Lisa a lot. Life happens, people move, groups of friends change.

I guess I'm more frustrated that everyone around me seems to be moving on to the next phase of their lives and I'm stuck at a perpetual 29.

Did the Bauers feel this way?


It's all official now.

Mike and Kate are moving to the mountains. All of the financing and paperwork and rain dances and house ghoul banishments have been completed, and they are now the proud owners of a new home somewhere in the mountains south of Skyline and 9.

As always, I'm very excited for my friends. They're moving into a bigger house, with space for the kids, a built-in greenhouse, decks, three car garage, a playroom, lots of land and tighter-knit community; how could I not be thrilled for them? The house they're in now works well for two people, even two plus another little one, but not so well for two adults and two growing kids. It's the same size house as Kris' and mine: works for us, not so much for them.

The new place is fantastic and, as near as I can tell, perfect for them. The commute may be long, but that's more my suspicion than an opinion from either of them.

As happy as I am for them, I know I'm going to be sad when they move. Sad as I was when Ben and Lisa moved, though in a different way.

I like when Liza visits me unexpectedly. It's a nice warm feeling having this little person come over to talk, or to play, or to give me a drawing she made for me. I had hoped to make cookies with Liza as my Mom and I used to do with Andrea and Stephanie Gudis at Christmas time (though, Christmas in Arizona was never much different than any other December desert day).

I like when Mike just walks right into the house when he visits. It reminds me of walking over to the Klein's house when I was younger and just walking into the house. It's a feeling of comfort with certain friends that they know if the door is unlocked, they are welcome to walk right in, no knocking needed. Friends other than Mike seem to need my help opening the door, or express permission to walk in.

I'm going to miss them, in a selfish way of close friends becoming less conveniently close. Of losing the convenience of being able to borrow the shovel or sawz-all by walking four doors down the street, or catching a ride into work in the morning, or walking the dogs at night. It's losing the neighbors like my mom always seems to have when I was growing up: the ones that become good friends for a lifetime. I know they'll stay friends, but many close friendships stay close because of proximity.

I wonder if the the Bauers felt this way when we moved away when I was seven.