Tag Archives: travel

Into the heart of darkness?

Looks imposing and eerie, but actually is a lovely picnic area at Mata de Serreta.

Went back to Terceira. Met several repeat visitors, and a couple working on buying. It seems really well-positioned for remote telework, but that is unfortunately not an option. ūüėĘ

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Year in review – 2021

Well…2021 was another year.

Still working from home. It’s not mandatory, but there’s not much point going in to the office – no one is going in willingly, mostly because they have to either drive and pay to park or brave public transportation, which is a petri dish of colds and flu at the best of times. Right now, we are tentatively going back in March 2022, making two full years of working from home. [HR and senior management have pushed back that date four times now, most recently pre-Omicron variant, so I guess we’ll see.]

Resumed some normal things, pre-Omicron. Numbers are down, compared to 2019 and earlier but are an improvement over most of 2020.

Travel:

  • Road trips (2) to Western PA.
  • Week in WV, spent mostly offline. Utterly delightful.
  • Visit to Houston to cling to The BioChemist – 2020 was only the 3rd Thanksgiving I’ve ever NOT spent with her, so it was nice to resume.
  • Then on to Seattle. In part to go someplace new, and in part to check another team/venue off my hockey bucket list. Two thumbs up both to Climate Pledge Arena and Seattle generally.

Relatively few concerts or sporting events:

  • Game 5 of the PGH-NYI series in May (ugh, 2OT, what WAS that, Jarry?!?).
  • Opening night for the Penguins (sorry, not sorry, Flower)
  • The Hot Mess that was the PGH-MN game (lost in a shoot out after leading for the entire game).
  • Coyotes vs. Capitals with The BioChemist and The Chemist.
  • Penguins vs. Kraken in Seattle.
  • Frank Turner acoustic – two live shows.
  • John Oliver at the Kennedy Center.

Reading: LibraryThing says I read 37 books this year, including a few DNFs.

Once again, I was reminded that affectionate memories of books read in my younger years should probably be left as memories. Marion Chesney’s Six Sisters series has not aged well. Nora Roberts’ Waiting for Nick likewise has not aged well for me. Despite knowing better, I keep borrowing JD Robb books from the library, then having to refrain from ripping them in half in rage (since they aren’t my books) due to the horrendous criminal procedure and blatant civil rights violations.

On a happier note, I finally read the MurderBot series and loved it, it was the best fiction of the year for me, with Black Water Sister as a runner up. Best nonfiction was a toss up between Game Misconduct and The Cult of We.

Watched:

  • New season/series of The Expanse (loved)
  • Ted Lasso (I have Opinions about some of the story lines)
  • GBBO – new series and a re-watch of the older series on Netflix before the disappeared on 1/1/22. [Dear Paul Hollywood, no one from the country that reveres sticky toffee pudding and treacle tart has any room to criticize USian pies as being sickly sweet.]

Really enjoyed Seattle and would absolutely go back. Despite spending a lot of time there, I feel like there were stores and nooks at Pike Place Market that I missed. And I could have spent much more time at the Chihuly museum. Had great meals at Betty and The Pink Door. Enjoyed the underground tour of Pioneer Square. Am still trying to figure out how to afford and where to put a chandelier seen at a glassblowing collective. Did a glassblowing experience at Kobo Art Garden that has prompted me to sign up for lessons locally.

A few photos below. Sorry, but I couldn’t figure out how to do the “hide and read more if you want to” using WP’s newish UI.

Not my favorite overall as glass art but I love the reflection of the Space Needle.
Iconic. Totally worth visiting.
Results of the glassblowing experience I signed up for.
The Space Needle, taken as I climbed up Queen Anne.

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:(

My calendar just reminded me that this time last year I was wandering around Terceira, oblivious to what was about to happen.

Direction post in Angra do Heroísmo

I miss traveling. But I am not sure when I’ll feel safe to fly if/when restrictions loosen.

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Weekend travels

I hit the road on Friday for a couple of days Not At Home. It was pretty nice. Drove to Sharpsburg/Antietam; despite living in Maryland for the vast majority of my life, I’d never visited, not even on a field trip in grade school. Hopped off I-70 in Frederick and took the rural route. Lot of beautiful vistas, occasionally marred by political candidate signs. Just outside of town, but still on park land, there was a police cordon with a bunch of police cars: I caught a glimpse as I drove by, the statue on horseback had been graffiti’d – BLM and YOU LOST were among the things painted on it. When I drove by on my way home Sunday it had been completely draped in black and fenced off. Turns out it is a statue of Robert E. Lee…erected on private land in 2003 but now a part of the park.

The park itself is quite large with several different trails. On a less blazingly hot day, I would have spent more than 3 hours. Anyway, more walking on Saturday, but with more shade on the C&O trail out of Williamsport.

Stayed at a lovely farm/vineyard/B&B, hosted by a charming couple. The farm house, or the original part of it, is rather old and is decorated to match.

Visited Boonesboro on my wanderings around Washington County. I’ve never seen so many NR/JDR books in one place before. Their other selections were eclectic. Main street reminded me of my hometown as a teenager, maybe slightly better preserved.

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Year end summary for 2019

According to LibraryThing, I read 45 books.¬† I have three still in progress that I started in the last month or so, but am likely only to maybe finish one (Gideon the Ninth).¬† Several were the Sean Kennedy Micah Johnston novellas, which I liked fairly well.¬† The highest rated books were City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, which I loved (although I felt kind of meh about the second book of the trilogy); Knife Children by L.M. Bujold; and Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone.¬† Honorable mentions to Alderman’s The Power and Sujata Massey’s The Satapur Moonstone; and Aaronovitch’s German Peter Grant offshoot, The October Man.

Theater and film:  Just film this past year, plus one opera.

  • The Magic Flute – loved the scenery, which was done by Maurice Sendak
  • The Favourite
  • Captain Marvel
  • Rocketman
  • Men in Black
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • The Hustle
  • Downton Abbey
  • Terminator: Dark Fate
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Travel

  • Phoenix
  • Las Vegas
  • Dallas
  • Boston
  • Terceira (Azores)
  • Houston
  • Pittsburgh

NWHL ‚Äď all the Riveters‚Äô home games for the end of the 2018-2019, including the home playoff game.¬† The home 2019-20 games (only a couple so far).

NHL¬†‚Äď an embarrassing number of games, but no playoffs – was in Terceira during the first round, when my team was swept.¬† [I was surprised by the sweep but not by the series loss; they were utterly disinterested in playing defense all season, and it caught up with them in the playoffs.]¬† Went to games in Pittsburgh, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.¬† Was in Boston during playoffs but not when Boston was playing at home, so TD Garden is still on my list of venues to visit.

For baseball, there were just two games:  Detroit and Rays.  The Orioles were SO BAD.  It was painful.  And it was absolutely reflected in attendance.  Weekend game, gorgeous weather, maybe 10,000 fans in seats at the most.

Museums and cultural events:¬† the Walters, the Heinz, Fallingwater, Polymath Park, loved the Phipps Conservatory, many lovely chapels on Terceira, the MFA in Boston, the Isabella Gardiner Stewart Museum (favorite).¬† Enjoyed both the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum, adored the Lego art exhibition at the science museum in Dallas.¬† Went to the Dallas Book Depository because it was very highly recommended.¬† It was fine?¬† I mean, I’m glad I went, but it didn’t really speak to me.¬† Kinda meh about the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, which felt kind of rah rah about law enforcement.

Music – to Boston for Lost Evenings III, four nights of shows at HOB with Frank Turner, all with different themes, opening acts, and set lists.¬† Heard “Balthasar Impresario” live, so all my FT boxes have been checked.¬† Also saw FT and the Sleeping Souls at the Warner Theater for the No Man’s Land tour, which was different – a venue with seats – and a little weird.¬† The music was good but it was literally the first time I went to a non-general admission FT show and sat the whole time.¬† Loved “Kassiani” and “The Lioness” live.

Professionally speaking, eh, I’m doing things I’m not really interested in or trained to do: I’m a lawyer by training, not a technology project manager or a contract manager.¬† This is not the best deployment of my skills.¬† But I do what my director wants done.

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Year end summary for 2018

According to LibraryThing, I read 28 books.¬† I have two others still in progress that I started in 2018 and have stalled on a little, mostly because I haven’t had the patience to settle in to a long read since about Thanksgiving.¬† Several of the 28 books were the Rivers of London graphic novels, which I find to be easy/quick reads, although I don’t love the art particularly. The highest rated books were Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series, which I read all in one go, and two pieces of non-fiction: a biography of the Widow Clicquot and The Prodigal Tongue by Lynne Murphy.¬† ¬†The biggest disappointments (other than DNFs that I have stopped recording) were the two In Death books I tried to read: one had victim blaming and slut shaming, while the other had transphobia and showed a complete lack of knowledge/research about civil and criminal securities fraud investigation/prosecution. Stick a fork in me, I am done.

Theater and film:¬† Just film this past year, because I didn’t love what was scheduled for the then-upcoming theater season and so did not renew my subscription.

  • Molly’s Game
  • Phantom Thread
  • Black Panther
  • Annihilation
  • Tomb Raider
  • Love, Simon
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • RBG
  • Ocean’s 8
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • Widows
  • The Girl in the Spider’s Web (Lisbeth Salander)

Travel

  • Houston
  • Pittsburgh
  • Asheville
  • Rome – primarily for the food and the Italian Open ūüôā
  • Spain – Granada, Sevilla, Madrid

NWHL – all the Riveters’ home games for the end of the 2017-2018, including playoffs and the Isobel Cup Final; all but one home game for the beginning of the 2018-2019 season (it was Thx weekend), as well as the neutral site game in Pittsburgh.

NHL – an embarrassing number of games, including playoffs.¬† But I didn’t renew my partial season ticket plan to the Capitals; in part because they jacked the prices up in a crazy way, and in part because I’m tired of being harassed and threatened at the games.¬† One of my colleagues swears the harassment should stop now since they’ve won the Cup, but the two individual games I went to early in the season (Toronto, VGK) did not bear that prediction out.

For baseball, there were just three games:  NYY, Marlins, and Rays, all in June and July.

Museums and cultural events…the Walters, the Heinz, so much in Rome that I need to write about.  Two Frank Turner shows.  Sunday in the country, which I went to more to be social than because I knew anything about any of the acts.

Professionally speaking, the beginning of the year was a grind.  The middle of the year and into fall were pretty good.  And then the end of the year was okay in terms of the substance of work but a nightmare because of the furlough.  (So much work is accumulating. It will take a massive effort to dig out.  And the longer it goes, the harder it will be to get current again.)

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Belated year end summary for 2017

According to LibraryThing, I read 22 books.¬† I probably started another 20 but I don’t count them if I don’t get past 100 pages.¬† The two highest rated books were non-fiction, Eight Flavors and The Woman Who Smashed Codes.¬† The highest rated fiction were The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles and Penric’s Fox by Bujold (novella).¬† The biggest disappointments (other than DNFs) were Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs (I think I’m done with her books entirely) and Prisoner of Limnos by Bujold (part of the Penric series).

Theater and film:

  • King Charles III
  • The Select: The Sun Also Rises
  • Macbeth
  • School for Lies
  • Hidden Figures
  • Wonder Woman
  • Atomic Blonde
  • Marshall
  • A Bad Moms Christmas
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Travel

  • Houston
  • Pittsburgh
  • Beach
  • Portugal – Lisbon, Coimbra, Porto
  • Las Vegas

NWHL

  • February 4 – Beauts at Rivs, W
  • February 12 – NWHL All Star Game (Steadman vs Kessel, Steadman won)
  • March 12 – Pride at Rivs, W
  • March 17 – Beauts at Rivs – Isobel Cup Playoffs (Beauts won)
  • December 3 – Whale at Rivs, W
  • December 10 – Beauts at Rivs, W

NHL

  • January 3 – Leafs at Capitals, 6-5 Caps in OT
  • January 11 – Penguins at Capitals, L2-5, saw Oveckin’s 1000th point ūüė¶
  • February 14 – Canucks at Penguins, W4-0
  • March 6 – Stars @ Caps, Stars 4-2
  • March 16 – Predators at Capitals, Preds 2-1 OT
  • March 24 – NYI at Penguins, L3-4 in SO
  • March 26 –¬† Flyers at Penguins, L6-2
  • April 14 – ECQF, G2, CBJ at Penguins, W4-1
  • April 27 – ECSF, G1, Penguins at Capitals, W3-2
  • May 1 – ECSF, G3, Capitals at Penguins, L3-2 in OT (ugly hit by Niskanen, amazing comeback down 0-2 in the last 3 minutes)
  • May 13 – ECF, G1, Senators at Penguins, L2-1 in OT
  • May 31 – Stanley Cup Finals, G2, Predators at Penguins, W4-1
  • October 11 – Penguins at Capitals, W3-2
  • October 17 – Leafs at Capitals, 2-0 Leafs
  • December 4 – Sharks at Capitals, L4-1
  • December 12 – Carolina at VGK, Carolina won in SO – Flower’s first game back!
  • December 14 – Penguins at VGK, L1-2, all about the goalies
  • December 23 – Ducks at Penguins, L4-0 (this was a hot mess of a game; Letang got booed because he was the biggest part of the mess)

For baseball, I know I went to at least two Orioles games, one vs NYY and one vs DET, but I cannot find the ticket stubs.

Museums and cultural events…the Walters, the Heinz, National Museum of the American Indian, and a bunch in Portugal.¬† Which I need to write about.¬† Two Frank Turner shows.

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Note to self

Next time, permit more time for wine tasting. Two port caves per day is really my limit, but there are so many, and I won‚Äôt have time to try them all. ūüėć

Also: this fascinated me. Up close, it‚Äôs a bunch of mangled car parts stuck on the corner of a building for no apparent reason. A few yards away, it is clearly an Art Installation…maybe one with a message I don‚Äôt really get. But still, it‚Äôs ingenious.


And then there is this installation across from a hipster-y coffee place. Those are car tires sticking out of or affixed to the building.


(Where I had a pastry and a latte. Yum.)

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September things

According to LibraryThing, September was my best reading month this year — five books! It feels like an accomplishment, when in my reading heyday I read five books or more a week. ¬†Still, it’s an improvement.

~~~

I spent the last two weeks in Toronto, visiting museums, walking all over, and watching All the Hockey. ¬†Literally, I attended sixteen World Cup of Hockey games in 13 days. ¬†Twelve of those games were crammed into six days. ¬†Some of them are a blur, but for some really specific plays, like Nathan MacKinnon’s OT goal; Crosby’s highway robbery of Kucherov and backhand goal; a shift by Malkin behind the net in which he seemed to have the puck on a string; McDavid to Eichel to Matthews; etc.

Non-hockey highlights:

  • the Chihuly exhibit at ROM – I could have happily plopped myself down on one of the beanbag things and stared at ‘Persians’ for hours
  • steamed pork buns at Mashion Bakery, which I found by chance, lured in by the amazing smell despite the sort of sketchy block and very plain exterior
  • people-watching at the St. Lawrence Market on Saturday morning (I chatted with a lovely lady visiting from New Jersey with her church group)
  • Stonemill Bakery’s double almond croissant
  • the Seville orange marzipan pinch at Soma Chocolate
  • my charming seat mates, the family from Woodstock and the dudes in from Banff, and the usher whose predictions were seldom accurate but always entertaining
  • everything about the Bata Shoe Museum and the Gardiner Museum (ceramics)
  • the display of antique snuff bottles at AGO

 

Other observations: ¬†The building going on downtown is striking — there’s so much of it and it’s so beautiful. ¬†I stayed in the St. Lawrence/Distillery neighborhood and walked pretty much everywhere, as far as Spadina and Little Italy. ¬†Lots of green spaces, friendly people. ¬†I noticed a lot of smokers everywhere, almost as much as in Paris, which surprised me. ¬†And the odor of pot was especially prevalent around ACC.

And my streak continues. ¬†Once again in a foreign country (or in any city I’m visiting, even in the US), I was asked for directions. ¬†On multiple occasions. ¬†I do not understand it. ¬†I mean, I was able to answer because they were asking for a specific landmark or street that I knew, but what about my face or posture says, “Hey, she knows where you need to go?” ¬†Because, seriously, I have a horrendous sense of direction.

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Observations from Indian Wells Tennis Garden

 

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The view from the parking lot at IWTG.  Literally.

It has been a few years (3 maybe?) since I’ve gone to the tournament at Indian Wells. ¬†Skipped because moving, then for Paris, and then because I had hockey tickets for a back to back that weekend. ¬†So I missed all of the development that has gone on. ¬†And there has been a lot, thank you, Larry Ellison.

First, Stadium 2 with its restaurants – Nobu, a steak/chops place, and an Italian/brick oven pizza place. ¬†Each morning over the weekend, there would be a line of people to get in, because the seats are all good and the line up was excellent. ¬†[Rafa Nadal and Fernando Verdasco played the Bryan brothers Saturday evening, and you can be sure that people staked out seats WAY earlier that the “no earlier than” start time. ¬†Monfils, Mugaruza, a bunch of other good matches played there.]

Second, the Brita water filter stations at the base of both stadiums – best thing ever, far better than the limited water fountains I’ve seen elsewhere.

Third, the sheer volume of vendors is crazy. ¬†Last time I was there, there was a big awning with a Corona sponsored bar. ¬†Gone is Corona; now Moet et Chandon is in that spot. ¬†Of course, there’s a different beer tent, and a RumChata tent, etc. ¬†And the food vendors are better than average. ¬†Ice cream, iced lattes, deli, seafood, CaliMex, salads, it seemed like you could find anything you wanted. ¬†[Except maybe a ladies t-shirt in a size larger than XS or S.]

Actually, IWTG is the only sporting venue I’ve ever been to where the lines out the men’s bathroom are longer than the lines out the ladies’ bathroom door. ¬†Uniformly. ¬†More often than not, there was no line for the ladies at all. ¬†I don’t know if it’s because the tournament designed the buildings with more stalls for the ladies or what, but I was totally impressed.

I saw some random matches, just because.  This time around, I went out of my way to see Inigo Cervantes, a Spanish player who was completely schooled by Raonic, just because I loved his name.  And Bjorn Fratangelo, who took a set from Djokovic.  Plus Venus and Serena and Andy and Rafa.  So glad to see Juan Martin del Potro back, even if he looked a little rusty against Berdych.

Also, because I’m a dork, I was thrilled that I got to use a line from one of my favorite TV shows ever: ¬†“It’s raining in Indian Wells.” ¬†It did! Followed by a dust storm.

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Huddled on the upper deck of Stadium 1, waiting for the rain and wind to stop so the Venus Williams – Kurumi Nara match could resume.

Actually, the dust was more noticeable than in the past because the wind was so high the whole time. ¬†In fact, it was so cold and windy on Sunday after the first night match that pretty much everyone left…so the scattered fans up in the Loge were invited down courtside to watch Halep’s match, which I appreciated. ¬†Driving back that night, I was confused by the haze in the distance that I could see off other drivers’ headlights; it wasn’t until I hit the highway and saw the dust/sand drifting that I realized what it was.

ETA: Anecdotally, the sentiment among fans there regarding Maria Sharapova’s drug ban/violation seemed *much* less forgiving or lenient than what I’ve seen on social media from fans, sponsors, etc. In short, most people seemed really skeptical about extended use of meldonium for a variety of reasons and not particularly sympathetic. ¬†Sorry she’ll be out of the game for some period of time, but not like she deserved a pass for failing the drug test.

ETA #2: ¬†on the tennis kits. ¬†Rafa’s kit looks less turquoise in person than on TV, almost like a baby blue with a hint of grey. ¬†The outfit Bouchard had was weird¬†– the colors were fine but it looked like a babydoll nightie…or a maternity shirt. Serena looked amazing. When did Berdych leave H&M for Adidas? (Whenever it was, it was not soon enough.) ¬†That fluorescent Adidas shirt the men are wearing was tolerable when paired with brown/khaki shorts but awful when worn with red shorts. ¬†The ladies’ version with darker colors that Halep is wearing is not terrible. ¬†

Some less tennis-oriented observations:

  • The price of gas at stations along I-10 covered a span from $2.23 to $2.89, with the highest being more than $1 more than it is where I live and the lowest still being $0.50 more. Is that all state tax? ¬†Ouch, especially given how poor public transportation seems to be locally.
  • I meant to stop at In n Out since some people I know have raved about their burgers. But the only ones I saw were off the highway, at hours when either they weren’t open or I wasn’t hungry. ¬†Next time.
  • The bright green and clearly foreign species of grass cultivated for golf courses and high dollar neighborhoods looks really alien. And confusing, given the long term drought; how is watering lawns a priority? ¬†I passed a billboard that read “Dejalo ir. El marron es el nuevo negro.” [Let it go. Brown is the new black.] Accompanied by a graphic of grass fading from green to brown. ¬†Nice ūüôā
  • The longer I live downtown in a city where good and sketchy neighborhoods commingle, the more confusing I find negotiating suburbia to be when I visit. ¬†The number of gated communities was perplexing.
  • Pecan pie from Exquisite Desserts for Pi Day. Yum!
  • Oh, I forgot that See’s stores are a thing in the west. ¬†I did not need to remember. See’s is dangerous for me.

 

 

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