Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

We're heading out this evening to go trick or treating with the grandkids! Should be a lot of fun, and no, we are not dressing up. (Tell them why, Sparky! urges E.) Well, we DID have a costume for the both of us. It was a "Plug and Socket" duo costume. Guess who was supposed to wear the plug and who was supposed to wear the socket? Well, we bought it last year to wear at a Halloween celebration at a campground, ended up being too embarrassed to wear it with kids around, so this year, I pulled it out of storage, and it was one of the things that went up for sale on ebay and sold. Now we don't have a costume for this evening. But that's ok, it's all about the kids tonight.  First, let's horse around with Papa....

And horse around with dad.....

And horse around with Sis!

Ninja and Gothic Mummy
We talked their neighborhood this evening to see all the kids out and about in their costumes..WOW! Some really cute ones! The variety and creativity was wonderful to see.....
And this little guy just decided it was easier to sit down on the curb and enjoy his tootsie pop and let the bigger kids do all the running around......

And here are two sisters "dressed to the nines"......

Even the neighborhood dogs got into the act.....
The yard decorations in the neighborhood were terrific! It brought back a lot of memories of places we use to visit years ago that went all out with lights everywhere, mechanical casket lids raising and lowering, people hiding behind trees with scythes or chainsaws jumping out and scaring you, and houses with scary adults dressed in costume that made you come inside and go through a couple of spooky rooms, feeling "brains" and other oddities before they'd give you candy....Ah-h-h-h, yes, the good old days!

We really enjoyed ourselves tonight! What's the best Halloween costume you remember wearing or have seen at a party?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two Kinds of Fun

There's lots of different kinds of fun, right everybody? For guys, it's fishing, hunting, computers, messing with tools, woodworking, working on cars, watching sports or attending sports, girl watching,  etc. etc. (Hey, just because you are on a diet, doesn't mean you can't look at the menu, right? ) You KNOW that's Eldo talking!?  OK, you guys can make the rest of the list..movin' on here.....For Eldy, fun time today was attending the Notre Dame home game against Navy. Eldy got FREE tickets to the game and a hospitality pass which entitles you to all kinds of goodies! Like free food and drinks of all sorts....No wonder it took him so long to get home from the game! Just kidding...he actually left the game before it was over to avoid the traffic, as Notre Dame clobbered Navy....
Calm BEFORE the storm, N.D. stadium in the A.M.
Then, there's OTHER kinds of fun that women like to have! (Oh, boy, NOW you are really going to get the comments, woman!) I know....Just don't send 'em to me...hahahaha...What I mean is, woman like to do different stuff for what they call "me" time---crafts, shop, (lucky Sparky didn't have the car today! says a relieved E.) read, chat on the phone, reorganize stuff, go through craft magazines and figure out what to make next, think about Christmas presents, on the other hand, I think I'll think about that one another day. Back to reading, sorting through recipes (HAHAHAHHAHA) That's Eldy laughing, because I don't like to cook, but at least I THINK about it! Maybe I'll surprise him some day and brush up on my cooking. (hahahahahha)  Sigh! And this is a guy who admits he can't boil an egg! There's a story behind that, but I'm not telling it today....(Thank you!)

Calm AFTER the storm
So, while Eldy headed out to South Bend today this morning, Sparky readied herself for some serious "me" time--yakked on the phone to sister, friends, and my kids. (All that probably took awhile!) Yep! ..Next, clean house....Next, read magazines...Then surf the web, watch knitting videos,  exercise in the RV a little, watch the storm come in, watch the weather clear up, hop on my bike and ride for 45 min. all around town, oil my bike lock, and then put a BUNCH of stuff on Ebay to sell. That really takes time. I used to ebay all the time. I went to garage sales to find some cute or useful stuff and then posted it on ebay and waited for stuff to sell--or NOT. Like the "Friends" Trivia board game that I thought would be a collector's item. WRONG!
Having done Ebay for about seven years, I've gotten over 1300 in perfect positive feedback, so I really enjoyed it in the years that I did it and worked hard to have positive transactions.  Did I make any serious money at it? Nope! Did I make more than what I spent on buying the stuff? Yes, but not much. Basically, pizza, movie money, craft supplies money or "fun" money.

Recently, I decided to go through the storage shed and pull out some stuff to sell and put it up for sale today on ebay--a couple of shirts, some household items and a Bose remote missing the Bose radio (which got stolen a couple of years ago from our first rig) among other things. Then, back to sewing, blog a little, catch up on reading friend's blogs, and where the time went, I have no idea! But here it is, going on into the evening, sun has set, and the day is gone......It was a great day for both of us and we both had fun!  See you tomorrow!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Back Home Again in Indiana

Actually, I've been back for a few days, but wanted to share my trip to D.C. first...What have we been doing since I got back? Eye doctor appointments, seeing friends, getting things done on the motorhome like washing and waxing, and babysitting Eldy's grandson. Here we are below, eating at a really cute restaurant called the Down Under in Syracuse, IN. The restaurant entrance is just a little gazebo at street level, down a flight of stairs and then the entire restaurant is under ground!
dinner with Eldy's friends at the Down Under in Syracuse, IN

It's been a LO-O-O-N-G time since we've babysat the grandkids....Eldy's daughter needed help with a school fall recess day so Connor, Eldy's youngest grandson, came to visit for the day...It was fun and exhausting at the same time. Sparky always feels like some sort of entertainment is in order since the kids are visiting in a motorhome and don't have all their "stuff" with them, so the day started like this:

8:00 AM--Sparky and Connor went off to McDonald's for breakfast...Connor picked OATMEAL for his breakfast--a surprise to Sparky. What, no donuts? No pancakes with lots of sticky syrup? Nope, healthy oatmeal...(He takes after his Papa, says E. proudly. That's one of my favorite breakfasts.) Play at the McDonald's Playland a bit, then off to Walmart to buy a pumpkin. You learn the most interesting things in a car ride with a young person. That's the best time to talk and the darndest things come out while you are driving and listening to your kids or your grandkids. Connor said that his mom likes country music and his dad likes rock and roll. He said he likes Toby Keith and proceeded to talk about "you know that song that Toby Keith sings about "a kick in the butt?" "No...." "Well, he sings some stuff and then he says you need a kick in the butt, but he doesn't say butt, he says that word I can't say." "Oh, yes, I know what song you mean, Connor. I like that song, too!"  "Hey, Connor, are you going to want popcorn at the movie?"  "No, I'm not really into popcorn right now." "Oh, what are you into?" "I'm into the movie." "Oh! That's good!" And we were off and running.....

9:00 AM--work the Sparky step grandma angle at Walmart..."Jeannie, will you buy me a Hot Wheels?" "How about just one? They don't cost very much."  "Can I have a "yummy" at the checkout?"  Sparky held her ground on the Hot Wheels, but succumbed to Connor's charm at the checkout. How can you not resist this sweet little face? (I can! emphasizes Eldo.)
Love the crossed legged pose!

10:00 AM--Connor played with Papa's ipad and Sparky baked some chocolate chip cookies..before you guys all think I'm awesome because I baked homemade cookies for Eldy's grandson, I have to confess they were those little premade squares Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies you just pop in the oven. They still taste great, though! Eldy and Connor can attest to that! After eating several cookies, Connor whipped out his kindergarten reading books and read all of them to Eldy and I. Then he made sure we saw his excellent report card. He's a smart cookie, that one!

11:00 AM--time to carve pumpkins with the awesome PumpkinMaster Carving Kits--lots of designs in one booklet and about 6 carving tools for 3.87 at Walmart. You tape the paper design to the pumpkin, poke holes all along the design lines, pull off the paper and start carving through the hole sections.  Connor insisted on picking a too tough design for him (the Grim Reaper) so Papa and Sparky helped a bit...

1:00 PM--Time for a movie! (see previous discussion Sparky had with Connor first thing this morning)....Sparky thought a Dolphin Tale would be a great movie to take a youngster to see...(SPARKY really wanted to see that movie, says E.) Connor wasn't quite as interested in the movie as Sparky thought he would be...Even after a bag of popcorn sprinkled with ranch seasoning which he absolutely loved, a BIG Icy frozen drink which he slurped loudly till it was bone dry and great viewing seats, Connor lasted about half an hour as far as paying attention. Then he was VERY antsy the rest of the movie, but he made it through with Sparky threatening to sit on him if he kept getting out of his seat. (You really threatened to SIT on him????? asks E.) No, just kidding...just had to grab his collar several times to keep him from wandering off to try and get refills on his icy drink!

3:30 PM---back to the campground and the RV--time to play with Legos, monster trucks, pipe cleaners, and anything else he could get his hands on...."Jeannie, what's this?"  "Can I see that?"   "What's that thing for?"   "Can I have some more pipe cleaners?"  Finally, (whew! says a relieved Papa, a.k.a. Eldo), Connor started to wind down, and so did Papa......Sparky was still going strong!  She did three loads of laundry with Connor's loading at the laundromat while Papa held down the fort at the RV. Later, everybody just chilled......

4:30 PM--Mom came to get Connor, and things settled down for the evening here at the Elkhart Campground....Tomorrow is Notre Dame football HOME GAME weekend...we'll see what the day brings!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Day in D.C. Part II

If the Martin Luther King Memorial was not moving enough, we saw more of the memorials and monuments as we biked around D.C. Kelly was giving me a crash course in tourist attractions in Washington, D.C. because it was my last day and we just didn't have enough time to explore them in more than just a quick drive by, or should I say, "bike by" on my short trip here this week.....

Yesterday I mentioned the great Bikeshare program that D.C. offers for anybody visiting the nation's capitol. Kelly and I spent our last afternoon together riding around the capitol on the Bikeshare bikes. It was great! After we saw the M.L.K. Memorial, we biked over to the Korean Memorial. It was very moving as well....Two infinity pools, a marble wall etched with photos of our soldiers who served in the Korean war.....Isn't this something?! There are more soldiers in the field here, but these three captured the camera's eye.
The fact that it was a grey, rain impending kind of day just seemed to add to the atmosphere of the memorial.....

Here's another view....

It felt like the memories of the soldiers and their experiences were there with us......Seeing something like this makes history so much more real, connecting real people from the past to the people in the present. While we were there, taking it all in, I saw three World War II vets standing up against the marble walls. It was an honor to be able to see them there and they were honored to have their photos taken. I didn't want to intrude and get their names, but here they are....Thank you, sirs, for serving for our country....

We biked a little more, seeing a quick view of the Lincoln Memorial, but no time to go inside and see the great Abe....
Here's a view of the Smithsonian, at least that's what I think it was as I flew by on my bike, holding my camera out to the side!

It was wonderful to explore the capitol for the first time and I can't wait to go back and see things more in depth...Thank you, Kelly, for doing such a great job navigating the streets of D.C. on a bike and working your GPS at the same time!  It's back to reality in Elkhart, IN for the remainder of the month...We'll see you there!
World War II Memorial

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last Day in D.C.-Part I

This was the BEST day of all, I think! We hopped on the Metro, the train/subway system in Washington, D.C., a great way to get from one side of town to another. Kelly wanted to go see the Eastern Market, which is a GREAT Farmer's Market in the heart of D.C., and I'm ALWAYS in for Farmer's Markets! We had a great time walking around the market, seeing the shops on the side streets, and we ate lunch at the Tortilla Cafe. The Cafe was Salvadorean food--fried plantain, carne asadas, etc. It was great!

After lunch, we decided to rent bikes to head out around town. We rented bikes for 5.00 for the first hour from the Capitol Bikeshare program. Locked bike racks are all over Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA area. There are over 1,000 bikes spread out all over town. You pick up a bike at one rack, ride wherever you want, then drop the bike off someplace else. It's up to you where you want to go and how long you want to ride. You use a credit card to rent these very comfortable 3-speed bikes for FREE for the first 30 min. After that, you pay a nominal fee for each additional 30 min. They do place a 110.00 deposit fee on your credit card which is returned once you return and lock up your bike, but I never saw that charge show up on my account from the Saturday rental. We rode all over town, sometimes on sidewalks, but mainly in the roadway. That can get a little nerve wracking in busier parts of town, but for the most part, it was easy riding the bikes all over the place! Lots of people commented about the bikes as we rode around, like they hadn't seen them before or wondered about them.

Kelly hadn't seen some of the monuments,  and I had never seen any of them, never having been to the capitol. In particular, we both wanted to see the Martin Luther King Memorial. It was truly inspiring and very moving. Someone later told me after I returned home, that Stevie Wonder (the blind musician) came to town to see it and they raised him on some kind of forklift to touch the stone face of the Martin Luther King statue. The memorial/monument had a dual split rock entry way, and as you walk through the split, you see another rock/sculpture of M.L.K which was facing the Jefferson Memorial across the way....Marble walls along the sides of the boulders had many of his quotes engraved. There were many people visiting and reading his memorable quotes along with us. It was a very moving experience to see so many Americans of many different races and ethnicities visiting the memorial today. It's hard to describe the feeling that this memorial invokes...It was almost as if you could feel the pain and suffering that came with his movement and his dream for equality for all people of all races.

One of many memorable, inspiring quotes at the memorial.....

Many more wonderful things to see in D.C....We didn't have much time on this visit, but we've got more to show you tomorrow....What a beautiful capitol city!
The view across from the Martin Luther King Memorial.......

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Nice Surprise!

My daughter, Kelly
The surprise was twofold--getting taken out for breakfast at a great little diner called The Silver Diner,  another place where the food is obtained from local farms and freshly prepared, AND getting my toenails done at a very nice salon called Sugar Scrub Nails in Alexandria, VA...Kelly got her nails done while my tootsies were pampered to the nth degree! I've only had this done one other time with my sister, and this time it was just as soak in a foot spa, feet and legs massaged and scrubbed, and those toes all dolled up! Here they are!

Sparky's tootsies
(I can't believe you put a picture of your feet on the blog! says E.) Well, sure! I gotta document everything we do in our travels! (Well, not EVERYTHING, I hope!) Not quite, dear! Don't worry!

For dinner this evening, we ordered in Japanese food--Beef Bento, teriyaki chicken, and we had some Coyote Creek white zinfandel wine from a Virginia winery...Gee, there are wineries just about everywhere you go these days, which is great!

We had a great day today....tomorrow is my last day in D.C., and we are going to explore the capitol by BIKE! Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Third Day in the D.C. Area

Kelly had to work today, so I  explored the neighborhood a bit, went to the AT & T store to figure out how come my Atrix phone starts dialing someone randomly sometimes when I'm on a call to someone else! I wanted to know are there little gremlins in my phone? Twice I have been talking to someone, and all of a sudden, the phone is dialing!  I didn't do that! Turns out if I hold the phone a certain way, my cheek hits a sensor on the phone, and that opens up a window to "add a call" and it's off and running! Not sure if I like this phone or not! I wish I had waited for the iphone 4 to come out...Eldy just upgraded his phone to the 4S, and he's got a personal assistant named "Siri" on his phone. The "Siri" software is AMAZING! It's sort of like the  Google Search feature with the microphone but better. Siri learns your personal information and remembers it. As you ask her questions, she has highly defined answers, a huge memory, and a huge database of information to get you what you want.

After the AT & T walking trip to get answers to my phone dilemmas, I headed back to Kelly's apartment to wait for her to get home from work. Kelly's little German short haired pointer, Moxie, kept me company. Isn't she cute?

When Kelly got home, we took Moxie to a dog park called "South Run" and watched her play. She was the most popular dog there, and she had a ball running around and chasing all the other dogs. Boy, could she run!

When a new dog showed up, Moxie went into "slink" mode...she got down close to the ground and her tail went out almost like she was pointing, and she would slink towards the dog, being coy and sly...Then she would jump for joy and attention, like she was saying, "OK!!! Let's play! Let's run around and chase each other!" And off they went! She's just a year and a half, and she is a really good girl!

We headed home after a bit and Kelly took me out to dinner at an interesting place called Las Tapas. They had bad flamenco dancing--decent food. They had GREAT Sangria wine there...Kelly and I shared a pitcher and laughed about the dancing. She had seen fantastic dancing at this restaurant before and was disappointed that the same dancers were not there this evening...But it was fun, regardless. We walked around Old Town Alexandria for a bit, then headed home, tired......Tomorrow, Kelly has a surprise for me....

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Special Day and a Special Birthday!

My first full day in Washington, D.C., actually started in Fairfax, VA, a neighboring town of Alexandria, VA. Kelly and I always make a grocery store run when one of us is visiting the other. We stock up on our favorite snacks and foods that we like to have. She's an organic gal and has different tastes from me, so when she comes to visit me, we stock up on things like pistachios, special energy drinks or exercise fluids, hummus and other healthy things. (Sparky ought to follow Kelly's example more often! suggests E.) Unh-hunh! You should see Eldy's HUMONGOUS popcorn bucket and how much butter he puts on when I'm not around, tee-hee-hee.....At any rate, when I go visit her, we stock up on----(Uh, let me guess, COKE? guesses E.) Yup, got to have my morning Coke for breakfast...No diet Coke for me, either! Maybe some bananas, and not much else comes to mind for my favorite things to eat while visiting. I know we are going to go to some great places to eat while I'm here, so we didn't buy much at the grocery store....

AHHHHHH, the grocery store! This is no ordinary grocery store, this is Wegman's, a specialty grocery store out on the east coast. It's like the Super Target of grocery shopping..An in house restaurant, a mile long food bar selection---just kidding about the mile long, but it was AMAZING! There were rows and rows of food bar selections. They had a complete skin care department with a salesperson available for consulting! A yoga clothing section near the health foods, and a craft beer aisle where you could pick and choose a six pack. Eldo wishes he had been there to check that out, lol!

So far, it doesn't sound all that different from any large grocery chain, but it really was different from anything I've experienced! There was even an entire case devoted to a bazillion kinds of blue cheese. Wegman's is a winner, in my book, just for the blue cheese alone! (Wait till we get to Wisconsin, Sparky is going to go nuts! says E. I'm gonna buy her a Wisconsin "cheesehead"!)  Oh, geez....I don't think so!

And how about this case of mushrooms shown below, all kinds of exotic ones! After Sparky oohing and ahhing over all the cases, we visited one of the food bars and had a delicious meal on the second floor balcony of the store, where we could look over the entire store and watch the shoppers and the "foodies". I always like exploring a new grocery store chain to see what cool and unusual brands they have, this one had lots! It was fun visiting Wegman's today!

On to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment! What a very interesting museum! They had a section in the museum devoted to the "CSI Experience". Sparky LOVES CSI, one of the few TV shows she will watch. They had a crime scene where you had to use your knowledge of what you saw in a potential crime video to solve clues as you walked through the exhibit from the start of the crime right down to the autopsy lab! Just like the TV show!

Want to see Bonnie and Clyde's bullet ridden car? It was there. How about John Wayne Gacy's VW and all the details about how he lured his victims into the car and smashed them with a crowbar and hid them under the rear floorboards? All the gory details were there. How about medieval torture devices like ornate brass knuckle screws? They were there along with  a crime lineup room where you could go into the room and be a part of the lineup, take a mini lie detector test, see all kinds of guns used in crime over the years, try out a shooting range, and check out rooms and rooms of interesting crime characters, absorb all kinds of interesting information about crime, and check out tattoo id's. A tattoo of a schooner on a prisoner meant he was game for an escape attempt. We saw Al Capone's decked out prison cell --which looked like somebody's fancy living room (he bribed his way through the first prison he stayed in), AND we saw the America's Most Wanted studio. Kelly and I had the most fun with that. Adam Walsh, the star of the show does a prerecorded video where America's latest crime perpetrator (that would be you being filmed in a studio) is shown woven into his video. The studio is set up so YOU can appear as "America's Most Wanted" on TV!

Here's Sparky's reaction at getting caught ......
And HE-E-E-E-R-R-E-ES Kelly's reaction to being identified as the latest "America's Most Wanted" perpetrator! We tried to do some serious "mug" shot faces, but cracked up laughing.....

And perhaps you were wondering about how to know if there's a serial killer on the loose in your neighborhood?  Here's how the police determine.....
I thought it was VERY interesting that 85% of serial killers are located in the U.S.! Geez, what does THAT say about our country????????

Here's a quote from a bank robber, definitely a different breed of person.....

On to more pleasant things...a wonderful dinner at Founding Farmers Restaurant in Washington, D.C. for Kelly's birthday this evening. Everything was organic, freshly prepared, made from scratch and ingredients obtained from local farms in the eastern seaboard area. Wow! What a dinner! This is not a place you go expecting to eat cheaply, but it's a very special place for a very special occasion, and well worth it. The food was elegantly and expertly prepared. We had a fabulous dinner and a wonderful time celebrating Kelly's birthday.....See you tomorrow at some of the local places in Alexandria, Virginia with a special guest along with Kelly and Sparky!