Saturday, May 13, 2017

Busy Summer Coming Up!

We don't usually like to fill up our weekends too much in advance, preferring to be able to fall back and recuperate on empty Saturdays if we want to. However...that will not be the case for the next few months. Things are looking quite busy! But at least they're mostly fun and exciting things.

Here's what we've got lined up for the next few months:

  • The Lantern Fest - this will be the Americanized version of the Yi Peng Lantern Festival that we took part in while in Thailand - but I think we'll actually get to light lanterns this time. We could have done that in Chiang Mai, but I don't remember ever seeing any places that were selling lanterns. 
  • An Alice in Wonderland themed Escape Room!
  • We're planning on climbing Mount Olympus again. It's a tough but fun mountain to summit!
  • My old Steampunk/Steamfunk group has plans for an updated photoshoot in costume - which we're actually planning on doing at our home since we have such high ceilings in the garage. 
  • We've got tickets to a US National soccer game - we'll see how this compares to the Real games we've been to.
  • Brandon's headed to Lake Powell with the young men in our ward. 
  • That same weekend, I'll be running the first of three half marathons I've signed up for this year. 
  • The Farmer's Market! 
  • We're headed to Alabama for a mini-family reunion. 
  • Utah Arts Festival!
  • Skydiving!
  • Work party at Top Golf!
  • Sun Valley!
  • iFly! Flowrider! iRock! 
  • My sister Carina will be visiting out in Utah!
  • And the second and third halfs (halves?) that I've signed up for!
  • And Comic Con! (I'm trying to persuade Brandon to do some awesome costumes with me...but we'll see...)
And that's just what we've got planned as of today. 

We don't have any large vacations this year (hopefully next year!), but we've definitely got lots of small things to look forward to. Things that don't require PTO, since I've got less than usual of that until 2018!

In Which We Meet Pharah

We made a fairly significant and somewhat spontaneous change to our lives this past Saturday (5/6/17). We'd taken Peaches in for her annual shots at the Humane Society Clinic and (as we usually do) popped over to the Adoptions to visit the animals there. As we were visiting one of the various rooms (each has between about two and five cats in it), a cat in the next room over stretched up to paw at the window dividing the rooms - getting our attention. We moved over to this room and gave the friendly cat lots of attention. But there were also several other cats in this room that were fairly friendly. One of them, a tiny little tabby colored medium furred cat, was wonderfully cuddly as I sat on the bench in the room. She was pleased to be pet and purred for all the world to hear. Brandon picked her up and as he was holding her, brought her over to the carrier that Peaches was (unhappily) hanging out in. And quite surprisingly, Peaches didn't hiss at this little cat (highly unusual).

Surprised and curious, I then posed the idea of us taking home this little cat as a second kitty in our home and a companion to Peaches. This is something that we've wanted to do for awhile (regretting not getting two at the onset), but had hesitated to do as Peaches had always responded to any other cats/dogs with grumbly hisses. Still playing with the thought, we took Peaches and this little cat (who we thought was named "Angel") to one of their meet and greet rooms - rooms where you could spend a little more time with different cats to see if they'd be good matches.

As we watched Peaches and the little cat wander the room (and now the hisses came out from Peaches), one of the volunteers poked her head in to see if we had the paperwork for Angel. As we didn't, I went with her to the room to select the correct one. However, she said she didn't think it was Angel, as that paperwork matched another cat's collar. So I came back to the meet and greet room with the paperwork for "Little Buddy". However, as we looked at the paperwork for Little Buddy, that didn't quite seem right either. We had the volunteer come back with a chip reader (the small cat was micro chipped) and then she proceeded to print out the correct information.

This little cat (then named Chloe) was about nine months old. She'd been brought to the Humane Society not too many weeks earlier (she still has a healing scar from being spayed) by a homeless person who was living out of their car. That person had realized their car wasn't enough room for the little cat and had brought her to the Humane Society.

And we're very grateful they decided to do that.

As we sat in the room with Peaches and the little cat, we went through all of the realities of adopting another cat (that we could think of at the time). Peaches would be a grumpy cat for awhile, surly. There would be lots of hissing, potentially little spats. We might need to keep them separated for a little while. Traveling both with and without them would also be more difficult. We might need to add another litter box. It would change the status quo.

But, I wanted to go for it and Brandon agreed. So we did! I filled out the proper paperwork and we collected our Peaches and this new little kitty to both come home with us. The car ride home was surprisingly quiet. Peaches hardly meowed at all and the new cat even less.

At home the two did hiss at each other, but mostly kept out of one another's way. We headed off to a wedding in the evening (lots of fun), but decided to let them both just wander the apartment. They were both whole and generally well when we got home.

Sunday it became clear that the little cat had brought a cold home with her. When I woke up I heard her occasionally sneezing, but it took me awhile to locate her buried in one of the drawers inside our armoire. She's got to be pretty small to fit through the opening. I made her a little cave out of blankets and pillows on the couch and she spent most of the rest of the day there, coming out occasionally to walk around, get a drink, or grab a bite to eat. By the evening she was quite lethargic, and we made plans to call the Humane Society the next day to see what they advised as far as getting her treated for her cold.

In all of this, we've been trying to determine a name for her. Chloe was not a bad name, but neither of us loved it like we'd loved Peaches' name. We considered Fox, Fawkes, Raposa (Portugues for fox), Lishka (Czech for fox), Kit, and a few other variations. Ultimately we settled on Pharah. Why Pharah? Well, she is so slender and long, but with slightly short legs and a wonderfully fluffy and elegant tail. All of these together give her the look of something in-between a fox and a ferret. Clearly we'd looked for versions of "fox". But when we started to consider versions of "ferret," Brandon's mind went to the Overwatch character Pharah - I think mostly due to the similarity of the sounds. And even though that may be where the similarities end, after feeling the name out for about a day, we decided to go with it.

(Ironically appropriate, when the Overwatch character Pharah does one of her ultimate moves, she yells out, "Justice rains from above!" The other night Brandon had placed Pharah above him near the computer and she sneezed several times down on top of him and his computer - raining down her sneezy justice.)

So we now have our two cats - Peaches and Pharah. Peaches weighs about twice as much as Pharah. They're not yet friends. But we're hoping with time and lots of love that they might become friends. And in the meantime, they're both at least chill enough to adapt to the presence of each other. And honestly - the hardest thing so far has been diving our love between these two sweet creatures.

It's been an entire week now! She's a cutie!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Six Weeks Gone and a Few Exciting Things

Hello, from a month and a half away! 2017 has been interesting so far, to say the least. What have I been up to? Not a whole lot, but also a great deal. Mostly it has been the day to day usual stuff. Go to work, commute to and from work, try and feed ourselves with semi-healthy meals, try and get out to exercise in some form at least once a week, try to be social. You know, the usual.

Some of the more exciting stuff? (in no particular order)

  • I participated in my first ever protest. It was amazing - really. 
  • We saw "La La Land" with Roman - and liked it.
  • We went ice skating with our church youth group. I forgot how much I love ice skating! 
  • My Dad celebrated an auspicious birthday. (There were also several other birthdays in the family - Brandon's being the closest - we kept things pretty toned down, as he likes it.)
  • One of my closest friends (Thomas!) got engaged to his wonderful boyfriend (now fiance!) Casey,
  • Peaches was (and is) still the best, cutest, fluffiest cat ever. 
  • I bought some new clothes (something I don't often do). (And mostly because "Business Casual" now holds a much more significant place in my life - see the last item for an explanation.)
  • The Expanse - Season 2 has started. (We loved the books.)
  • I gave three weeks notice at my old job and then was crazy busy there wrapping up everything and supporting our new director through her first round of assemblies (she is amazing).
  • I started a new job! Three whole days have been completed as yet. 
And I think that's most of it! There were also some Bailey's Irish Cream chocolates, some Irish Cream ice cream (say that ten times fast), and some delicious vegan cake. Too many good things. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Resolutions!

Happy New Year! 2017!

First, a recap on how things went in 2016. But before I do that, for reference, I kept fairly good track of where things were until 8/4/16. I don't know exactly what happened then, but I stopped keeping track cold turkey. So, much of what is below comes from the first two thirds of the year or from general guestimation. 

1.) Go to the gym a minimum of two times per week (this should not be hard). And yet, it didn't happen. As in, I have no idea how many times I've been to the gym in the last few months. I think I kept track for awhile and then...didn't. I do think I probably worked out at least twice a week, but I've really no idea. 
2.) Cook at home at least one time per week (to the extent that there are leftovers). This probably sounds odd, but it is difficult to get home between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM and want to make anything big after being gone all day long. It's much easier to default to single servings meals, but we need leftovers in order to contribute to the next goal. I'd like to be more savvy about food buying as well. I think this one actually came pretty close this year. 
3.) Try to eat out (for lunch) no more than once a week. I think 2016 will be the year of salads for me. I feel like I've discovered how amazing they are this year, and I want to be better at creating them on my own. I think I did pretty well on this one as well. There were weeks where I ate out 
4.) Do yoga as many times a week as we can manage. We need to work on our flexibility. We're not getting any younger! I think this was pretty much a flop from the beginning. I've actually been doing better than usual this month, though!
5.) 30 push ups. Every day. All of January and February. Off an on after that. 
6.) Write more in my journal. Doesn't have to be daily, but it should happen. Better, but not great by any stretch of the imagination. 
7.) Go dancing at least once a month. We've missed dancing and need a little motivation to get out and go! I think we only went...twice...this year. Room for improvement! 
8.) Maybe two half marathons this year? Or at least two 13.1 mile runs. Just the one half marathon (and one of my least trained ones as well). 
9.) A new mountain. :) Victory! Red Mountain in February and Twin Peaks in August. 
10.) Visit a slot canyon. We're thinking Orderville Gulch. Nope. We got close a few times, but hiked some different areas instead.
11.) 20 new books read. I keep reducing this number, but as long as I still have it as a goal, I think it will help to motivate me. There are at least two new books for Brandon Sanderson coming out this year! (Three actually, though I'm less interested in the Alcatraz books.) 20 new books? Totally did that! However, I had my adjusted goal of reading 120 books this year and even after reducing that to 100, I didn't quite make it. 
12.) Perhaps a garden in the spring/summer/fall. We have the space to put it in, we'll just have to find the drive. We did do a garden! It got scorched fairly early on (even though we watered it twice a day) and so we had a very small crop of beans as well as some herbs, but that was about it. Better luck next year!

So, not a super successful year as far as these are concerned. Don't get me wrong, it was a great year in many respects, but there is definitely room for new goals this year! Making those goals achievable and realistic is always tricky, but here's what we have for this year.

2017 Goals:

1.) Go to the gym once a week. We have a fairly pricey climbing gym membership that we used fairly well throughout the year, but really slowed down with in the last few months. I'd like to try and go climbing at least once a week and try harder to use our free-friend days. 
2.) I'd like to try and go running (even just a mile) at least once a week. 
3.) 30 burpees as least once a week! I think that is more realistic than pushups every day.
4.) Cook at home at least once a week (a planned meal). This is pretty much the same as last year, but I'm going to keep it as a goal. I'm thinking one intentional meal (not mac n' cheese - which is a far too easy fallback option for us - too easy and delicious!). 
5.) Read 52 books this year. I'm (secretly) hoping for a much higher outcome, but I'm going to aim a little lower this year. That's approximately one a week - should be very doable. 
6.) Sew one new article of clothing. I like sewing. I want to sew better. Perhaps I need to take a sewing class...
7.) Go dancing at least four times. I know this sounds pathetic, but we utterly failed at it last year and that makes me sad. 
8.) One slot canyon. We missed it this year, but I still really want to do it. 
9. ) I'm going to aim for two solid half marathons this year. 
10.) One new mountain! (I love having this goal every year.)
11.) No impulse sugar purchases. Or, in other words, only buy treats for specific purposes where they will be consumed by multiple persons. Also, perhaps consider the idea of trying to buy foods that are in the single digits as far as dietary sugar per serving is concerned.

Friday, December 23, 2016

November 23

Long travel day ahead! 

We woke up early and were headed to the airport on our transfer around 6:45 AM. Upon arrival at the airport we checked in with Korean Air (which would be our first leg back to Seoul) and as they printed our tickets there was some confusion. Brandon and I had three tickets for the three legs of the trip, but Duane and Shauna had only been given two tickets, one to Seoul and one "direct" flight from Seoul to Las Vegas. We tried explaining this to the ticket agent, but decided we'd worry about it in Seoul or Seattle, depending on where we had time. The problem was that the flight number for their last two flights was the same - even though the actual planes were different. 

Through security (#9) and departure immigration, we walked down to our gate. Seeing generally where it was from a little ways away, we turned back and got some breakfast - smoothies and donuts for us. We exchanged the rest of our remaining baht back into USD. When we finally went back to our gate, as with every other flight that we'd taken over the trip in Asia, they checked our tickets and passports at every stage of getting on the flight. They checked them at the security, at immigration, at the top of the little ramp that led down to our gate area, at the bottom of the little ramp down to our gate area, as we went through the "boarding door," and after we got on the flight. I'm not sure why they felt they needed to constantly check it at every stage, but they did. 

Our flight from Bangkok to Seoul went well, about five hours long. As before, we watched movies, at a meal, and relaxed. Brandon and I had gotten tired of eating the Korean bibimbap, but it unavoidably was the only thing left when they got to us, so that's what we got. I've had bibimbap before, but airplane bibimbap is not the best, or I'm unskilled enough in combining things in the right proportions to make it work well. 

Arriving in Seoul we underwent the same transfer game. We arrived and were immediately met outside the plane by some Delta agents who would lead us to the gate. This was fortunate, as we had a somewhat close connection for all that would need to happen between getting off this flight and boarding the next. Once they were sure they had everyone, we set out. We walked and walked (down the infinite hallways) and finally were led to an "International Transit" security area (#10). The reason they have these securities everywhere is because, in theory, international arrivals have access to their luggage before they recheck them and enter back into the main airport or pass through immigration. Because we never checked luggage, the redundancy of all the securities got old. Regardless, we passed through security and then raced from the gate area we came out in to the gate area where we needed to be (involving another underground transit). The Delta agent guiding us made this much easier than it otherwise would have been. Still, we arrived after almost everyone else was on. But we were on! 

The flight between Seoul and Seattle was long(ish), but didn't feel too long. More movies. More bibimbop. I think I may have slept for about an hour at some point.

And then we were in Seattle! We excitedly thought that Jaime and Angie would be waiting for us outside our gate, but reality met with that quickly when it became apparent that (obviously) we would have to go through immigration and customs first. Ironically, the immigration and customs for US citizens re-entering the US through the Seattle airport was the longest immigration line that we stood in anywhere during the entire trip. Such a long line. They had an computers that everyone would enter their information into (rather than filling out a form). I'm sure the intent is probably good, but the outcome was slow. Far slower than foreign passport holders who'd filled out a form. But, after a long wait, another security (#11), we were through and exchanging hugs with Angie and Jaime! As a group we proceeded back up to the gates and sat down at Duane, Shauna, and Angie's gate to Las Vegas (not leaving for a few hours). It was lovely to catch up and look through some pictures with Jaime as well as grab some lunch (clam chowder!). Jaime finally headed out and Duane, Shauna, and Angie gathered their things to get on the airplane. As we headed over to where those with a few extra needs could get on early, a good friend spoke my name! Unbeknownst to us, Antony and Denisse (and their kids) had been waiting at the same gate and were getting on the same flight to Vegas! It was a quick and fun surprise to see them. 

We waved our goodbyes and set out to find our own gate. Our gate area was much less spacious, but we were boarding before too long. The flight back to Salt Lake was one of the longest flights of our entire trip for me. I just wanted to be home and there was a lot of turbulence. But we made it and hurried down to the pick up area to meet the friend who had agreed so generously to pick us up (Ryan and Kirsten!) and take us home.

As a stark contrast, we'd left the high eighties/nineties of the weather in Thailand for the low thirties and snow in Salt Lake. Home. :)

Peaches was wonderfully excited to see us, content only when she was able to lie on our chests and rub her face repeatedly into ours. We didn't mind. :) 

And with a long holiday weekend in front of us, we knew we'd have plenty of time to relax and work on recovering. 

Thailand was wonderful. There was so much to see and do that we didn't have time for. You could live there for months or years and not see it all. But, it feels so good to be home, to sleep in our own beds (though, seriously, yet lag is a REAL thing), to cuddle our cat, and to be slightly less sticky every day.

November 22

Our last full day in Thailand! And a travel day.

We took the morning very leisurely at our hotel in Railay. A leisurely breakfast, leisurely packing. Shauna and I did run over to the walking street area to mail some postcards and buy a climbing shirt. On our way back, we tried to come a different way and ended up wandering through an area where some permanent residents lived. It was much more humble and a little wild - helped to remind me that we were enjoying a level of lavishness that most of the Thai people were not. Shauna and Duane needed to be out of their room by 11:00 AM (so it could be prepared for a guest arriving that day), but we had until 12:00 PM, so around 11:00 AM they came over and hung out with us for that hour in the air conditioning. Around 12:00 PM we walked to the front lobby and hung out for about thirty minutes until our boat transfer.

One kind of funny thing that the hotels near ours chose to do was to offer a "private" dock experience (a very unnecessary thing for us, particularly as we had backpacks). Pretty much from the steps of our hotel, we boarded a little raised dock pulled by a tractor. Once we were all on, the tractor wheeled us out into the water (the West Beach was a very shallow beach) and the boats drove up to us. Another couple and their child got into the first boat, and we got into the second boat.

All things relative, our boat transfer back Ao Nammao Pier was sooooooo slow. Seriously slow. We were going slow from the get go, and never sped up. In fact, when we got "close" to the pier (still two to three hundred feet away), the boat slowed down even more! And then, closer in, but still a ways to go, it pretty much turned off the engine and we coasted into the pier. It was a test of our patience at a very weird moment.

Once we got off the boat, we were met at the end of the pier by a golf cart. We were then driven down the pier and a little farther to where our van was waiting for us. The drive back to the airport was quick and comfortable. At the airport, things were a little more confusing. As our tickets had been printed several days earlier in Bangkok, they didn't have any information on them about terminal or gate. We just knew that we didn't need to check in. So, Brandon acting as our guinea pig, we tried to go through security. But after looking at his ticket for a minute they pointed us down towards a ramp to another terminal. Wandering that way we came to the next terminal and went through security there (#8). But, while there were gate numbers, there were never any signs or indicators anywhere to tell us that we were at the right place. Not until it was truly time to board did some AirAisa staff materialize, as well as a few indicators (a sign hand placed on one of the desk) that we were in the right place.

We boarded and our fight was quick and easy. Back at DMK we walked out into the main transportation area and someone immediately asked us if we needed a taxi. We did, so we showed them where we needed to go and they exclaimed over how far it was (they said it would take an hour, though it only took 45 minutes). They said it would cost something around 2400 baht (my brain is really foggy on how much they asked for, but it was a lot more than we though it should cost). We thanked them and walked on. As we stopped by an exchange to make sure we had enough baht in case we wanted to buy and keepsakes that evening, there was a "limo" service close by and Brandon went and asked just to see how much that would be. Turned out that by "limo" they meant another Lexus. No admittedly, the Lexus was definitely more comfortable than the taxis we'd driven in, but it was no limo.

Anyway, we ended up at the regular taxi area and when we were finally called, we showed them where we wanted to go. They still let us know that it was pretty far, but there was no other push back aside from that.  And we were off! The drive felt fairly quick. We passed a few tolls (that we paid) and just generally enjoyed Bangkok from the car windows. Our hotel for the night (Paragon Inn) was located near the BKK airport (the one we'd originally flown into and where we'd fly from). It was located at the end of a long slender road. We paid our taxi (I think it was between 500 and 700 baht), checked in, arranged our transfer to the airport for the next morning, and headed to our rooms to relax for a bit. We'd considered taking a taxi to one of the night markets, but decided to just walk over to a local mall for dinner and to see if we could find anything interesting. We did find dinner, but no keepsakes. Our best shopping opportunity had really been back in Chiang Mai, but we hadn't wanted to carry anything large around for the rest for the trip, so we really hadn't bought much. But, we had our photos and memories, and so we made do.

The rooms didn't have great wifi, but other than that it was clean and comfortable.

November 21

This morning after breakfast we headed over to the walking street near the West Beach and walked up to the climbing place we'd gotten signed up at the day before. Brandon and I were the only ones signed up to climb, but we'd asked the night before if Duane and Shauna could come and watch if they wanted, and they said that would be fine.

So, we got our gear (shoes, harness, chalk bag) and then went on a long walk back to the East Beach and then around a long side path (felt a little like we were in a cave with a large overhang) that led over to Phra Nang Beach. We walked along the beach and then a little farther back up into the jungle to the base of a good cliff where we could climb. This was my first outdoors climbing experience. Somehow, in all the time that I've been climbing now, it has only ever been indoors. Not a bad place to start! We were climbing with our guide (Su) and an Australian couple (Bruce and Kari, if I remember correctly) who'd climbed the day before and would climb that afternoon as well. Su got Bruce started going up one route (leading the route, so setting his rope/quick draws into the anchors in the rock as he went up) and then Bruce and Kari climbed on that one for awhile. While they were on that route, Su lead climbed our route, setting it up so we could top rope from it. I belayed for him while he lead the route and I'll admit I was a little intimidated! I'd never done it before, and while I knew the theory, it still felt like a risky space to me. But it went completely fine, the rope was set, and Brandon and I climbed the route! After we'd all climbed our own route we switched routes and did the same for those. Duane and Shauna hung out with us for awhile and finally left around this time to explore other things and relax out of the sun.

The third (and final) route we tried started by going up and around an awkward overhang. Brandon went first (always the most difficult place to start as you've not had an opportunity to watch anyone else really do it). He tried a few times but the overhang portion proved extremely awkward and he was pumped out after a few tries. I went next and angrily pushed my way past the overhang and up to the top. Aside from the overhang, there were definitely other parts where if Su hadn't been yelling at me to just stand up, I wouldn't have made it up. But I did! Bruce and Kari tried next. After many attempts, Bruce did make it over the overhang, but was too pumped out to go any farther. Kari eventually made it up from another route around the overhang, but also gave up part way after that. I think Brandon tried again once or twice more, but everyone was feeling out of steam at this point. Needing to clear the route, I went up one more time. I was going to deviate and go the way that Kari had gone around the overhang, but Su convinced me (pressured me!) to go the hard way. And I did, and I cleared the route (unhooked all of our quick draws from the anchors as I came down)!

We packed up everything and headed back down to the beach to walk around, but as we got down there, Su told us we could all jump in a boat and just head over - about a five minute boat ride, as opposed to a 30 minute walk. Now, with more forewarning, I might have been fine with this, but the boat was leaving and we needed to get on now! The problem was that I was wearing rolled up capris, so there was no way to get on without getting the legs of my pants wet, which I reallllly didn't want to do. But not seeing an immediate way around it at such short notice, I waded into the water and got on the boat. It was much faster, but I was not happy. I now had to walk around with the lower parts of my pants slogging around my calves and ankles, feeling decidedly unpleasant. And as I result, I was not in a particularly pleasant mood or amenable to discussions of what to do next. I needed to change and I needed food. In that order. Or grumpy Geneva wasn't going away.

We walked back to the hotel, changed our clothes, and I immediately felt better. Duane was off exploring, but we told Shauna we'd be heading back to the walking street to grab some food. She met us over there a little later and then Duane showed up a little after that. We had lunch at a little open restaurant and they had some ice cream and coconut across the street at the same restaurant.

After lunch Brandon and I rented a kayak and spent the next hour wandering around some of the little islands around Railay. There are so many of them! Following that, Brandon wanted to swim a little, so I went with him back to Phra Nang Beach. Exiting into the beach area there were a number of monkies hanging out near a trash receptacle and stealing any food they could from staring strangers. We watched them for awhile and then wandered to the two caves that were a little further down the beach. Both caves were full of phallic carvings of different sizes and materials. It was...very weird.

We swam for a little while in the bay there and as we swam we watched an ripped old(ish) man with a long white beard free climb (no harness or rope) a tall ledge close to the beach where other climbers were lead climbing. It was simultaneously very impressive, and very very stupid. Free climbing looks and sounds really cool, but it is a sport that has a very high mortality rate. I climbed out of the water, anxious to get clean and not feel so salty and grimy, and as I waited for Brandon we watched this same man proceed to lead a yoga group on the beach. We didn't quite know what to make of him. Brandon swam for a while longer and then we walked back to the hotel and got clean. Together, the four of us walked back to the same restaurant of the night before and had another delicious dinner.

We talked to the hotel staff when we got back and arranged a transfer with them for the next day, leaving at 12:30 PM. The price? 1200 baht total for the four of us - waaaay cheaper than our previous transfer had been.