Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Little Butter Vampire

Well, I accidentally left the butter out the other night.  Here's what I found in the morning:

Now, I see Sterling's fang impressions all the time (mostly on my arms), but I love this picture!  Not only do you see her fangs, but also perfect impressions of her little middle teeth!  Seriously, you could make a plaster cast of this!

It is clear, too, that butter was not to her taste.  But I am thrilled to report that she did not puke it up anywhere!  Or anywhere that I've found yet...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Invitation to Deliciousness (Oh, Yeah, and Please Buy Stuff)

As the holidays draw near, Newburyport has what are called "Invitation Nights."  On these two nights -- two consecutive Fridays this December -- local businesses stay open late and invite customers to visit and browse and buy.  In addition, most of them offer something special, like drinks or snacks or little gifts.

It's quite a spectacle!  The stores were packed.  In some a person could barely move at all!  And the snacks were much better than I expected.

I am currently very poor (buy my condo in Seattle, please!), so I went to experience it and to eat and drink; not to buy.  Two of the stores I visited had delicious champagne punch, one of which had a big, plump blackberry in the bottom of each cup.  (I don't like blackberries, but I was impressed with the effort!)  Several of the stores had cookies, and the local bookstore had wine.

However, the place I was most impressed with wasn't even a store!  A local insurance company, Chase & Lunt, displayed an artist's work in each employee's cubicle, and outside had hot chocolate and kettle corn (being made in actual kettles!) for everyone.  (I have to admit, my friends and I were sort of laughing about the poor employees who probably frantically cleaned their desks that morning, knowing that every citizen of Newburyport and the surrounding area were going to be walking by.  I can't even imagine!  I don't think I could clean my desk that well even if I tried.  I wonder if the insurance company has a closet filled to overflowing with everyone's stuff.)

Here's a picture.  Hot chocolate under the tent to the right, kettle corn to the left.  Also at the right, my two friends and coworkers: Diane in the white coat, and Jessica to her right.

As we meandered down the streets, we came to the town square.  Jessica hadn't seen it yet, so we crossed over to take a look.  Since I had attended the tree-lighting ceremony, the town had added red bows to the tree.  There were also several local citizen/volunteer bands playing.  Little kids were dancing with their parents, and Jessica and I broke into song once.  Here's a shot:

For the first time, I saw that the town square sported a menorah, since Chanukah began this weekend.  Poor Chanukah.  I know it's not one of the more important Jewish holidays, but it's always relegated to the background.  In the town square, the Christmas tree must be (I'm a terrible estimator), perhaps, 20-25 feet tall.  Here's the menorah, barely taller than me:

But it does have electric candles for each night of Chanukah which is fun.  I'll probably go down several times to take a look.

Strangely, the menorah is plugged into a tree.  If you click on the picture so that it's bigger, you'll notice that the tree behind the menorah has the menorah cord wrapped around it, and plugged into a socket that has been strangely set on the tree.  I'm not sure what's going on there.  It's very odd.  I think that socket is there somewhat permanently.  I'll take a closer picture for you later, but if you notice, there is a black tube that goes from the socket down into the ground.  I think that connects the socket to the town square power source.  Weird.

One of the stores Jessica and I visited was the local toy store.  It was very fun, and downstairs I spied this!

The good news?  Sterling is not that big any more!  Anyway, I kind of love that stuffed animal.

Next Friday is another Invitation Night, and I'll definitely go again.  There are tons of stores I didn't go into, which means there is tons of food and drink I didn't get.  Seriously, Invitation Night is as good as Sunday at Costco, except with more cookies.  I won't miss it!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Pig and Two Pugs

Yesterday I had the most fun program at the Newburyport Public Library!  Farmer Minor brought his potbellied pig (Daisy II) and two pugs (Lily Pug and Dixie Cup) for a program called "Pig Out on Reading!"  I have been so excited about this program -- a pig in the library! -- that the staff is probably glad it's over so they can stop hearing about it.

Here are some pictures:

The van!

Lily Pug is ready to go!

Lily Pug travels with Farmer Minor and  Daisy II everywhere they go.

Me with Daisy II (who is a boy), Farmer Minor, and Lily Pug (front) and Dixie Cup (back).  All animals have their own strollers, and Farmer Minor brings his own rocking chair!

I learned that potbellied pigs have excellent hearing and smell, but they are almost blind.  One should always approach a pig from the side.  If you approach from the front, you are nothing but scary shadows, but if you approach from the side, the pig can hear and smell you coming without being scared.

Lily Pug loves, loves, loves to lick and kiss.  My entire face and neck were covered in dog kisses.  It would be gross if Lily wasn't so cute.

A nice close-up of Daisy II.

Finally, a half shot of Dixie, who does not usually travel with Daisy II.  Apparently Dixie is a mama's girl, and she is only one-and-a-half years old, so she's still a little skittish.

I wore a pig nose to greet the patrons as they entered.

Farmer Minor sharing the hilarious and heartwarming story of how he and Mrs. Minor came to adopt Daisy I, Daisy II, Lily and Dixie.  He is a master storyteller!

Kids of all ages were rapt!

Teens loved it, too!

A number of grown-ups (in the back) came by themselves to see Daisy II!

Farmer Minor kissed Daisy...

...and so did I!  (Children's librarians will do anything.)

You can't see very well, but I presented Daisy II with a Newburyport Public Library library card.  Daisy II has library cards from all over the world (you can see the framed collages of all of her cards to the right), as well as the keys to four different cities!

Dixie gets a hug!  And Lily gets to lick a hand.

Daisy looks a little worn out.

Farmer Minor will be making a national tour during the summer of 2014.  I'm not sure how far afield he goes, but I'll let everyone know!  If he comes your way, you must have him at your library.

Oh, and here's the website!  If you watch the slide show, you'll see that Daisy, Dixie and Lily have a cat best friend, too, which blows my mind.  Sterling would rather die than cuddle with a pig and two pugs.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Special Small-Town Santa

This past Sunday I went to my first small-town Christmas event: Santa arriving in Newburyport via the Coast Guard!

For those of you who don't know, Newburyport is the birthplace of the Coast Guard.

 Here he comes!

What good role models, wearing their life vests! 

A hilarious side note: on the boardwalk, I was sitting next to a Grandma and her Granddaughter.  There is a parade after Santa docks, so in a nearby parking lot the police were getting ready to lead Santa in the parade.  The Grandma told me, "I always love when we have parades and events like this.  It gives the police something to do."  Ha ha ha!  I do wonder what all the police do in town.  I'm sure there are drunks on Friday and Saturday nights, and there are always secret, horrible things like domestic violence.  But Newburyport is not a hotbed of crime.

Here is Mrs. Claus walking along the boardwalk after docking.  The sweatshirt Mrs. Claus's handler is wearing says "Santa's Rotary Sleigh Team."

After  docking, there was a short parade.  In the middle of the parade were costumed characters.  Here's how it went based on cheers:

Frosty: "Yay!  Hi, Frosty!"

Christmas Tree: "Yay!"

Gingerbread Man: "Yay."


I'm not sure what Elmo has to do with Christmas, but he certainly stole the show.

After the parade, we all trooped over to the town square.  Yes, there is a town square!  At any given time you can head over there and see people playing the guitar, kids running around, people sitting on benches and chatting, and Scouting troops selling cookies.  Also, it's not a square -- it's a triangle.  Hm.

Anyway, I was in the middle of the crowd and I couldn't see a thing, which was very disappointing.  I'm short, so that didn't help.  Also, lots of parents had their kids up on their shoulders so the kids could see.  This actually led to an interesting conversation I heard between two dads.

Dad #1: I love this town.  It's so cool to look around and see all the dads with kids on their shoulders so they can see Santa.

Dad #2: Yep!  This may be the only town where something like this happens.

Now, there are probably more towns like Newburyport, but not many.  It really is quite bucolic here.

Since I couldn't see, I found myself wishing I worked for David Pl. Reczek, Dentist.  Dr. Reczek's office is on the square, on the second floor.  Apparently he opened the office for his employees to come and watch the event.  Lucky ducks!

Other people did the same.  Many of the buildings in Newburyport have commercial businesses on the first floor, and condos/apartments on the floors above.  It was all very 227.  (I loved that show!)

After singing innumerable Christmas carols (and it wasn't just me who thought it went on too long -- parents with small children were grumbling), we counted down from 10, and the tree lit up!  I was very glad it succeeded.  I was told that last year there were some technical difficulties that led to a very anticlimactic countdown.

I was also told that the tree is donated every year from someone's backyard.  I'm not sure who is in charge of this event, but I'm told that there is some local competition about the tree choosing.  People from the group in charge troop from backyard to backyard to choose the Christmas tree, and it's an honor to have your tree chosen.

Anyway, a couple more pictures:

All in all, it was really fun, very unique, and I'm glad I went!  And now I know to skip the parade next year, and go straight to the square to get a good view toward the front.

My first Christmas experience in Newburyport!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tightrope + Trampoline = Slacklining

Two weekends ago I met a friend, Kari, in Boston to see slacklining for the first time.  What is slacklining, you ask?

Here are a couple of videos I took:



Basically, it's like trampolining on a tightrope, and it's just about the coolest thing I've ever seen.  Especially when I learned from Kari that even learning to walk across the line is incredibly hard, not to mention doing tricks on it.

Here is Kari practicing her slackline walking!

While my broken foot is almost better, x-rays show that it's not completely healed.  So I had to pass on the slackline myself.  Argh!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bunnies and Horses and Goats and Guinea Pigs and...

This past Saturday I had my orientation at the New Hampshire SPCA.  I have missed my volunteer work at the Seattle Animal Shelter, but what with my broken foot, I put off volunteering at NHSPCA until my foot was better.  (Which it is!  Woohoo!)

This place is amazing.  They must have some seriously wealthy donors.

For those of you wondering, they are a no-kill shelter (unless an animal is so far gone that it cannot be saved).  In fact, last year they had a 97% live adoption rate, which I can tell you is outstanding.

I will be volunteering with the Small Animal Team, which is almost the equivalent of the Critter Team at SAS.  The only difference is that the Critter Team also took care of barnyard animals, where NHSPCA has a separate Barnyard Animals Team because they get so many.

NHSPCA doesn't have very many dogs.  Apparently they've done such effective spay and neuter outreach that is has drastically decreased as a problem.  In fact, they often take dogs from other shelters.  The volunteer coordinator told me that the next day, Sunday, a load of dogs was arriving from Alabama!  They also don't have too many small animals.  But holy crap, do they have cats.  There are cats everywhere!  The small animals technically have two rooms, but the cats take up one.  Cats even take up one of the dog rooms!

Here are some pictures.  They are all from the outside, since I thought it would both give the wrong impression and be annoying if I was snapping pictures during my orientation tour.  I'll take inside pictures next time.

This was the best shot I could get of the campus.  Right in front is one of the paddocks for large barnyard animals.  To the right is their learning center.  The middle is the adoption center, and to the left is the barn for the farm animals.

Here is a closer shot of the front paddock with two horses in it.  There is another paddock in the back (which I didn't take a picture of).  On Saturday, the back paddock had two goats in it.

I include this picture because it is rare for many shelters to have a logo, or in fact to do much advertising at all, that includes animals other than cats and dogs.  This one officially includes a horse and a rabbit, which is fantastic!

Here is a closer shot of the barn.

This is a closer shot of the learning center.  In this building are administrative offices, a room for birthday parties, training rooms for people who have adopted new animals, and classrooms for camps, story times and more.  I peeked in the birthday party room while I was there.  A party was going on.  Some animals live in the party room.  One of those animals is a ferret.  The party room was loud and rambunctious, but the ferret was sleeping soundly.  That cracked me up for some reason!  I guess because ferrets are such spazzes, other people spazzing out don't effect them at all!

The entrance to the adoption center.

The Monday after Thanksgiving is my first shift at NHSPCA.  I'll take pictures of the inside and share them.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Night Owl in a Daytime Town

I am a night owl.  I've pretty much always been.  This is why I love being a public librarian.  Most public libraries don't open until a reasonable hour, and they have lovely evening shifts that don't end until 8 or 9pm allowing me to really sleep in.

One thing I loved about my neighborhood in Seattle was that everything was open late at the least, and a lot of places were open 24/7.  I get a great second wind around 10pm, so loved grocery shopping, going to the drug store, and exercising somewhere between 10pm and 2am.

In Newburyport, 10pm is the latest anything is open.  It doesn't have the courtesy to even wait until I get that second wind!  Both grocery stores close at 10pm and even earlier on Sundays.  K-Mart closes at 10pm.  The one and only Starbucks closes at 8pm, and Dunkin' Donuts, which is Massachusetts answer to Starbucks (one on every corner), closes at 8pm!  Two of the drug stores close at...get ready...8pm!  The post office doesn't even have an APC (an Automated Postal Center), and I loved using the APC at night!  No lines to ship holiday presents.  Even a restaurant, Panera, closes at 8pm.

Two places cater to me: the McDonald's stays open until 2am and has wifi, and the CVS is open 24 hours.  The CVS will be a getting a ridiculous amount of my business.  What is a night owl to do?

I'm posting some pictures of the parking lots at two nearby shopping centers:

Keep in mind this is 10pm on a Saturday night.  Look at the parking lots!  Holy cow!  In this shopping center are a grocery store, a drug store, Radio Shack, K-Mart, and a couple of other stores.

This shopping center has another grocery store, another drug store, a Marshall's, and a mailing place.  The only place I can personally confirm is open is the laundromat (thanks to my broken foot), which is open until midnight.

I think that if I started a business, any kind -- a coffee shop, an arcade, a Dunkin' Donuts for heaven's sake! -- I could make a killing.  You should see the swarms of teenagers that are in CVS in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finally -- The End Is Drawing Near!

I am almost settled into my house.  Almost.  I still have stuff that I haven't found a permanent home for, and a few things that I still haven't unpacked.

The other day, though, I took some pictures!  What you should know about these pictures that is that I moved all of my crap from room to room so that the pictures looked okay.  So for each lovely picture, know that the next room is filled with stuff.  Ha!

To begin:

The Kitchen!  This had the most renovation.  It was torn down to the studs, and all I kept was the fridge.

Those of you who saw my kitchen in Seattle will notice that this one is almost exactly the same.  Why change what works?

The door in the back goes to my deck.  I love my deck.  Sterling does, too!  She's been so brave.

My living room:

The picture below shows one of my storage closets.  This is a great one: it goes really deep and has shelves.

This is alcove #1.  In the summer, my window air conditioner will go in this window.  For now this is Sterling's dining area.  Note that she is eating -- one of her favorite activities!  She loves to eat here.  The window is so low that she can look out.  Sometimes she sits there for a long time watching...who knows what.

My oh-so-snazzy electronics area!  Of course, despite hours of trying I couldn't get my TV, the cable, my DVD player and my Wii to hook up properly.  Thankfully one of my coworkers has a genius husband who came over and made everything work in about five minutes.  Sigh...

My bathroom!  It's oddly shaped, so sorry about the number of pictures.  If you saw my bathroom in Seattle, you will recall that it was Pepto Bismol pink.  I have switched to green!

The view from inside the bathroom into the rest of the house.

This is alcove #2.  This one also caters mostly to Sterling.  It has her litter box and a place for her to sit to look out this window.  The box with the blue and white blanket is, cleverly, my air conditioner, patiently waiting for summer.

The two doors to the left are two more storage closets.  The tall one is shallow, but the short one is also very deep.

This picture shows off my built-in bookshelves...

...and this one shows off the built-in linen drawers.

My "dining room."  My Mom is the one who cleverly hung the cafe picture on a slanted wall.  This probably surprises no one!

The view from the dining room to the inside stairwell:

Notice the random piece of floor under my purse rack.  Sterling likes to sit there and peer at me as I come up the steps.  Do you remember how Snoopy used to sit on his doghouse and peer over it at Charlie Brown?  That's just what she looks like.

The view down the inside stairwell.  I don't know if you can tell, but that skylight is huge.

Around the corner and down to my inside front door.  Again, there's the random piece of floor.  You can see how Sterling peers down at me.

Finally, the view from the stairwell up into my place.

Pictures of my bedroom and loft are to come.  I got tired of moving stuff around.