Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weather Report

There is not much to report from icy Dallas, except to say that it has been icy in Dallas. I thought the weather in Denver was wacky, but Dallas puts Denver to shame. Sunday it was 75 degrees. Everyone was outside. The neighbors were all standing around catching up, while the kids played football in the street. I was bragging to friends in Denver about the fact that it was 70 degrees warmer here than there. All in all, it was a beautiful autumn day. We even opened all the windows to air out the house (though our house is so drafty, there really is no point in opening the windows). Anyway, that night, as we sat around watching TV, the weather changed in the amount of time it took to change the channel. The warm breeze blowing through the house turned into an Arctic wind, and I was frantically running around, trying to seal off all the windows before we turned into Popsicles. By the time we woke up the next day, the temps had dropped to below freezing and then stayed there until right about now. Damn you icy wind from Canada!! By the end of the day Monday, as Mark was driving home from Dave's, the rain was instantly freezing on the windshield of little Henry Honda. ... And as far as we know, that is all that has been happening in the entire world. Since Monday morning, every local news anchor has been talking about nothing but the accidents, traffic jams, icy conditions, and storm tracking. The only other item of note, according to the local news,  was that it was Terrell Owens's (boo) birthday, and everyone was wondering whether Tony Romo would show up to the big bash. (Oh, the drama of Cowboys football.) I know, I know. Poor little ol' me. I know it's been crazy cold across the entire U.S., but this is Dallas. It just ain't supposed to be this cold. 

Anyway, yes, I did just talk about the weather for an entire (really long) paragraph. I am truly sorry about that. On to happier news: I just got off the phone with my good friend Susan, who lives in Denver and who two weeks ago gave birth to little Ryan. I am a lousy friend and hadn't spoken to her since before the delivery. But it was great to catch up and to hear all about her life for the past few weeks (including her helpful hint to future moms-to-be ... apparently Warren Miller films are great entertainment while waiting for little baby to come out). If you want to "meet" the little guy, hop on over to The Fleming Seven, or check out my other good friend's blog (Beth at Wedlake Studios), where you can see some spectacular photos of the little guy. [I'm not saying that Susan's blog photos aren't spectacular. But Beth's truly are, what with her being a professional and all, y'know?] Congratulations, Sam and Susan. He is a little doll, and we can't wait to meet him in person! Hope all the other "kids" in the house are adjusting well to the new situation (hi, Chester!).

As for what's been going on around here: This past weekend, I finally made it down to Dallas for more than just a quick drive-by. Mark and Dave set up shop at the White Rock Marathon expo to sell their gear. For the past couple years, Mark had been flying down to Dallas for the expo, and I never really understood why. I couldn't imagine an entire expo set up for a little marathon in Dallas. Well, apparently, it's a really big marathon in Dallas, with thousands of people signing up (and paying!) to punish their bodies for 26 grueling miles (kooks!). The expo is a two-day event before the race, where all sorts of vendors promote and sell their wares.

For Mark and Dave, it was quite the success, as they sold well more than 1,000 performance T's, beanies, singlets, and other gear in just two days. I joined them for some of the selling frenzy on Saturday, and it was great to see the positive response to their gear (it was also great to see so much of that inventory moving out of their hands). I originally had great plans to stop in and say hi and then venture out either to see Dealey Plaza or to check out the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (where King Tut is hanging out). But instead I stuck around and helped them sell, sell, sell (and brought them lunch). So, now my experience of Dallas consists of the Farmer's Market and the Convention Center (oh, and the Spaghetti Warehouse and the Boardroom ... see below).

After closing up shop at the expo, we ventured over to Dallas's West End, which sounds like it should be a cool spot to hang out. Apparently, it's mainly a dinner area that pretty much shuts down around 9. So we ate our dinner and then mosey'd over to the Boardroom for a couple drinks with some friends who were celebrating a night out on the town without their kids. 

And now we are home, trying to stay warm, and getting the final holiday shopping done before heading back east next week. Because I have no photos of the icy weather (oh darn) or the expo (forgot the camera), I'll finally put up some shots of our humble abode here in Flower Mound.

You can also go to our Picasa site to browse some of our other images (with accompanying helpful captions). (I have not mastered the art of organizing photos in Picasa, so there are duplicate photos and albums.) And now that I have spent more than an hour updating this blog, I probably should try to squeeze in some work before heading to the gym with Mark for a spinning class (wish us luck ... on the spinning part, that is).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Greg and Karen!

I know ... I am a day late. Will I ever get the Australia-US time difference right? 

Technically, it's your anniversary here today. So happy anniversary from the other side of the world!

Whatever day it is, we wish all the best for you both and hope that your anniversary weekend (as well as the year to come) is full of love and good times with family and friends. We'll be there soon to help you celebrate in person.

[Once again, Mark's computer has all the photos on it, and it is not here. So my apologies for that!]

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Remember

I remember the scratchy tickleness of your goatee; getting to be the one who blew out the match after you lit your pipe; how stylish you always were, even when you were just out raking the leaves; the big blue bookcase full of your classical, opera, and Dean and Frank and the other boys music; the story of you so involved in a conversation that you buttered the wine cork rather than your breadstick; saving the heel of the rye bread for you; the smell of your tobacco; "1-2-3" jump and "ow-eee, ow-eee, ow-eeee"; writing messages to you on the workshop chalkboard; cocktail cruises on the party boat; dinners at Pete O'Neill's; our Monday morning commutes into the city, with a stop for a coffee and cream for you and a bagel for me; your blue-and-white seersucker suit; wearing your reading glasses; helping to clean out your pipes; how no matter where we lived, you always seemed to find a way to mispronounce the town or base; you and Nana dropping me off at Smith; your cosmo cocktail hours overlooking the lake; your stories of growing up in Brooklyn with the rest of the fabulous Darling clan; our California shopping trips to "Moivyn's"; trying to stay out of your political discussions; listening to you enjoy those same discussions with Uncle George and Mark and others; our discussion together that last Christmas; and so much more.

Thank you for helping to raise me those first months of my life and for so many more months after that; for taking us in all those summers (and falls and winters); for your constant love and support, no matter how far apart we were; for visiting me in my dreams these past few years; for providing an example of such a strong, loving, happy, supportive relationship (you and Nana set a high standard for us all to follow); your belief in me and in Mark.

I wish I had more of your generosity and kindness; your ability to strike up a friendship with just about anyone, anywhere; your good humor and positive outlook; your dignity and grace.

I love you, Grandpa. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Say Uncle

Happy Birthday, Uncle Paul and Uncle Gary! And although you aren't our uncle, happy birthday, Greg! We wish the world weren't quite so big, so that we could just zip over and spend your special day with each of you (though, I guess that would require going back in time for Uncle Paul, whose birthday was yesterday, and forward in time for Greg). As always, we are thinking of you all (Mark says, "mostly good thoughts, that is" --- tee-hee). Hope you have a year full of laughter, fun, and fulfillment.

I have a new computer and do not have full access to all my photos yet, so this will be a photo-less birthday greeting. Not as exciting, I know.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope all our United States-living friends and family have a wonderful, love-and-laughter-filled, and good-food-filled Thanksgiving. We'll be thinking of you and wishing we were with you all (and not just because that would mean we would get pie at every house!). 

Everyone says this, but it is true, so I'll say it too: Life and the bad economy and laundry and work and bills and what to make for dinner and wondering how to fit in an extra game of FreeCell before going to the gym all seem to get in the way of remembering that we have so many things to be thankful for. I won't list it all here, but here are a few of my things to be thankful for right this very moment:
  • The beautiful tree across the street that has suddenly turned a stunning shade of red
  • Kai curled up on his bed, looking so incredibly peaceful and content (and thankful to Mark for giving him a good run)
  • A steady flow of work to keep me busy, even in this crazy economy
  • My new sweatshirt with thumb holes, to keep my hands warm as I type
  • David Letterman's "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches"
  • Mark's yummy cardamom coffee in the mornings
  • The roof over our head and the fact that we are no longer sleeping on Thermarests
  • Sam and Susan, for taking in my ancient cat, Chester
  • The fact that my ancient cat, Chester, is still alive (though I'm not sure Sam and Susan are that thankful about this one)
  • Our good health (which is getting better every day)
  • The ridiculous amount of good food we are going to eat with friends and family tomorrow
  • Which leads me to the second-most important thing: All our incredible, supportive, fun, loving friends and family, near and far, Thanksgiving-celebrating or not! 
  • And at the top of my list (which I guess is actually the bottom of this list): My incredible, supportive, fun, loving, makes me giggle and smile, shows me so much of the world husband. I love you!
I had grandiose plans of attaching a picture to go with each item above, but it's late, and we have a lot of cooking to do tomorrow. So, a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving to everyone (and Happy Birthday, Pablo ... we miss you guys!). [For those of you not in the States or not celebrating Thanksgiving, we wish you a happy, healthy Thursday/Friday.]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me ....

... and to Shelby, Aileda, the father of the girl at the grocery store checkout counter, and any other Nov. 19-ers out there.

Having a birthday on a Wednesday means that for the most part, it was just like any other day, filled with work, going to the gym (OK, that's not really like any other day), laundry (nor is that), picking up dog poo in the backyard (nor is that), and other fun and exciting things. But the constant (welcome) interruptions throughout the day from e-mails, Facebook messages, and phone calls made it a much sweeter day. Thank you, everyone!

Last night, we went up to the town of Denton, a college town just north of us. "College town, you say? It must have been a night of loud music and alcohol." Well, the loud music part is correct. After dinner at a mediocre Mexican restaurant, we drove around the University of North Texas looking for our destination (bad planning on my part, as I did not get the correct address). After finally finding a non-permit-required parking space, we walked around campus, trying to find a student who was not talking on a cell phone so that we could ask for directions. Finally, a girl with a violin on her back and no phone to her ear pointed us in the right direction and said, "Follow that cello to the place that looks like an armadillo." So we did, though it was a surprisingly fast-moving cello and hard to keep up with. Sure enough, in the distance was a building that did indeed look like an armadillo . . . the UNT Murchison Performing Arts Center.

The Armadillo
There, we listened to the university symphony play tunes by Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, and some guy named Lutoslawski. (I was going to load up some music to play along so you could get a sense of our evening, but I have no idea how to do that.) Anyway, the symphony was pretty incredible "for a bunch of college kids." And the piano soloist (Vladimir Viardo) was downright amazing. How did he keep track of all those notes!!??

The weird part was the building itself. As I said, from the outside, it was in the shape of an armadillo. Inside, it gave you the sense of being in an upside-down boat or the inside of an armadillo's belly. Either way, a kind of claustrophobic feeling. It was also just a tad bit musty smelling, adding to the sense of either being in a doomed ship slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea or being slowly digested by the world's largest roadkill animal. But, once the music started, my unease passed, and I was able to enjoy the night.

Inside the Belly of the Beast

Now it's back to "real life" and living the final year of my 30s as healthily and happily as possible, so that when I hit the big 4-0 I'll be just a little better off. My goal is to get in some sort of exercise for the next 364 days (yesterday, Day 1, I went to the gym), even if it's just a 30-minute walk with Kai. Anyone else care to join me on this one? (I almost didn't write that second-to-last sentence, so that when I didn't meet my goal, no one would be the wiser. But now I am fully committed. Ack!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Birthday Ben

Happy Birthday, brother Ben!

We hope you have a happy day over there in the sunny land of Oz. We're sending hugs your way and will try to reach you via the wonders of Skype this weekend.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I know you have all been waiting with baited (bated?, yeah, I think it's bated) breath wondering if we were able to pull together our costumes in time for the party at Dave and Donielle's. Behold ...

Go-Go Girl and her Russian Mob Man or Disco Dude, your pick

After hunting everywhere for a pair of "authentic" go-go boots and some white polyester bell bottoms, I realized my old black boots (also used for pirate costumes) would work just fine and Mark's costume was great, even with his old blue jeans. [The pic does not show the stunning white leather loafers Mark was sporting.]

We seriously missed all our fellow Halloween revelers from Colorado. The party at Casa Nyland was great, but much more subdued than some of Halloween's past, with most of the excitement coming from the hoards of kids on major sugar highs running every which way. Followed by some serious sugar crashes, as evidenced by the comatose Batman on the couch:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Scorpios!

Apparently 9 months before this very day (give or take a month) was a very successful day for conception, no matter what the year. Today we have not one, not two, but 4, possibly 5, birthdays to announce!

So without further ado, happy, happy, happy, happy (happy) birthday to Dad (aka Grandpa) and Megan (aka first granddaughter and my goddaughter and niece, not to mention the little princess and the boss of the family ... whew, so many titles!). Dad, my apologies for the photo, but I just could not resist! And a happy birthday wish going out to my Fabbo friend, Christin, AND to our dear wonderful friends Glenn (and Michelle??) who we miss so much. (Michelle, is today the actual day, or is it just right around now? I can never remember, horrible friend that I am!).

My goodness, what a busy birthday day!!

In honor of this major birthday day, we voted . . . again. HA! Just kidding. Actually, I spent your special day driving ALL over North Dallas hunting for white disco pants and go-go boots. Just for you. Really. OK, for me and Mark. But I did think of you all and the fact that I should be at home working and updating the blog rather than waiting until the last minute to find Halloween costumes! Alas, I had absolutely no success in my hunt (well, no success for the price I was willing to pay). So now we are up the Halloween creek without complete costumes! Stay tuned until next time to find out if we solve our mini Halloween crisis in time!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, A. Karen (AKA The Queen Mother)!

We have been quite lax with the birthday wishes around here. I have no excuse. However, I can redeem myself with the fact that I contacted the missed birthday wishees (including Aaron, Heather, and Jay) via e-mail or phone or Hallmark e-card or Facebook or what-have-you. Because I am overdue with a post and because it is my favorite godmother's birthday, I thought I would write a quickie.

Welcome back from Aruba, Auntie Karen! It sounds like it was a blast, and we are quite extremely jealous that we were not there, celebrating and relaxing with you. I'm also hoping that all is set for you to "enjoy" using The Card! We will raise our glasses in a toast to you this evening (and the next evening, and the next--you know how much we enjoy a celebration or three). Have a very, very happy birthday! We love you!

In honor of your big day, Mark and I performed our civic duty/privilege at the voting booth (with Mark, my U.S. citizen husband, voting for the first time in his life. No photos of the momentous occasion . . . not allowed in the voting booth, of course. I thought about telling everyone there it was his first time . . . like maybe they'd make a big deal of it, like at the Rocky Horror Picture Show or something. But he insisted that we lay low and act like normal voters. Bah humbug!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weekend Update

We took a mini-vacation this weekend to explore the wonders of Oklahoma. And it turns out, there are wonders in Oklahoma! (Yes, that's me on the left, and yes, my hair is SUPER short.)

The Joffes are/in OK

We headed north to Lake Murray, where Dave and Donielle had rented a little cabin. Though we didn't do much, it was great to get away and to see some different terrain. There were little hills, different (bigger) trees, and a beautiful lake with actual shorelines where you could walk right into the water without having to fight off weeds and bugs and who knows what else lurks along the Texas lakeshores. Although it was a sort-of three-day weekend and although all the cabins were booked up, the lake was empty (presumably because it's autumn and much too chilly to be boating, what with those 80 degree temps and all!). We saw maybe three or four boats on the water the entire time (including a souped-up pontoon boat that I'm pretty sure went faster than Eric's (oops, I mean, Uncle Gary's) motor boat).

Lake Murray as seen from Tucker Tower

Saturday evening, Dave and his family rented kayaks to explore the lake, while Mark and I took the dogs for a walk. Sadie and Kai (who has become a full-on water dog) chased each other, as well as whatever rodents and frogs they could scare up, all over the place. Later that night, after a relaxing dinner of lasagna and a fun game of Apples to Apples, we all fell asleep watching reruns of Saturday Night Live. Aaaah, relaxation!

Kai the Explorer

Tired Pooches

Sunday, Dave and Donielle cooked up a delicious breakfast, providing us with the energy for some exploring of Tucker Tower and other spots around the lake. Once again, the dogs (and the rest of us) had a blast. A relaxing barbecue lunch afterward, and we were on our way. A quickie trip, but still a good time.

Mmmmmm, breakfast

Lindsey, Lexie, and AJ atop Tucker Tower

Mmmmmm, lunch

And next time we are in OK, we will be sure to keep our camera at the ready, as we missed out on some classic shots, including a three-wheel motorcycle/sidecart towing the world's smallest trailer carrying a tiny replica of an old 1950s' Chrysler (huh) and the best Burma-Shave-style series of 10+ billboards advertising what I think might have been the only bar in the county.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Heaven Is a Queen-Sized Bed

Or at least that's my definition of heaven this week. We moved onto Grady Court just in time for the annual neighborhood block party. And not only are our neighbors super nice, they are also super generous. We left the party with bellies full of food and beverages, smiles on our faces, and an ironing board, coffee table, two cute little chairs for the bedroom and the office, sheets, and a mattress. Nice welcoming committee! Our house is actually starting to look like a house. We even got some of the screens in place, reducing the number of flies, moths, and mosquitos at least by half!

The weather is cooling off here and is almost really pleasant. I found out that because our little house is situated on top of a "hill" and there are no trees in our large backyard, there is nothing to stop the wind/breeze from blowing through our windows, keeping us nice and cool, even on some of the warmer days. Fresh air is lovely! I might even need to put on a very light sweater soon, if this keeps up.

I seem to update the blog when Mark is off at work . So once again, no pictures, as they are all on his computer. We'll try to get some from Neil and Tina's wedding, as well as a few shots of the house sometime soon. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Debbie and Eric (no, not my cousins Debbie and Eric; that would be weird) who semi-officially tied the knot in Yosemite last month and who will be making the whole thing officially official later this month in San Francisco. I am so incredibly happy for you both (though I'm not sure you even read this blog, so hmmmm, there is that).

Happy autumn to all of you lucky enough to have one!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

So Behind ...

That's what we are, and no excuse. Well, no excuse except for moving, cleaning out the old apartment, getting settled in the new place, refurnishing the new place with all the items we sold off/gave away/dumped on our friends in Denver, flying off to the Sierras for Neil and Tina's wedding (GREAT TIME!!), trying to launch Mark's clothing line (well, I'm not working on that, but Mark and Dave are, full time), trying not to procrastinate too much on work (that one's all me), squeezing in the occasional workout, cooking our way through the latest Cooking Light magazine (sort of a la Julie & Julia, but not really), and ... well, I think that's everything, though I'm sure I'm missing something in there.

We owe you pictures. We owe you stories. We owe you stuff. But for now you all need to settle for these two short paragraphs, letting you know that we are still alive and well and that we hope to be a little more settled next week. We're just happy to finally have Internet access at home again. We missed our daily connection!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Are Here

So, methinks it might be time to change the lead-in question at the top of the page. But I'm not going to. So there. Even though we aren't moving to France in the near future. Even though we are staying in Dallas, as evidenced by the fact that we just signed a year lease on a little house in the 'burbs (with a 1/2 acre yard all for Kai ... yay!!). But I like my lead-in question, and I'd like to think that this little jaunt here in Texas is just a detour in our life. A good detour, as it means that Mark is cranking away at his business, but a detour nonetheless.

So sorry to "all y'all" out there who were planning your next big vacation to the French Alps. We would have loved to played host to you. Perhaps next year. In the meantime, howz about a trip down to the Big D? Our good friend Shane just told us all about some beautiful spots just north of us (OK, technically those spots are in Oklahoma--yet more proof that there really isn't anything beautiful in the immediate Dallas area) that we'd be glad to take you to. Or there's always the incredibly touristy stampede run through the stockyards of Fort Worth (no, really, we wouldn't do that to you, even if you asked real nice). And to try to make it up to you, we would serve French cheese and bread and play some yodel-ly type songs in the background. (OK, we wouldn't do that to you either, unless you asked real nice.)

We move into our new home next Tuesday, and we can't wait. Apartment living was fun for about a week. Then it just got old thanks to the 3 a.m. walks with Kai and the nonstop traffic outside. The funny thing is, after being so excited to downsize and get rid of all our stuff just three short months ago, we are now looking forward to "upsizing" and stocking it all back up. In particular, we are really thrilled to be purchasing a bed. Sleeping on Thermarests and quilts was sort of part of the adventure at first, but now it's just really kind of annoying.

So, that's it from here. We have big plans for the weekend, including the GrapeFest in Grapevine. Apparently some kind of wine festival--sounds good to me! Then a visit with the Bears (Ann and Irwin Bear, that is), who will be visiting family in Plano. And maybe even a trek into the big city itself, as I hear tell that it has a very good farmer's market. Stay tuned for more exciting updates and to see how our big weekend turns out!! I am sure you just can't wait.

Oh my goodness ... birthdays. Although I wished Janet a very happy birthday in person (well, on the phone and not on the actual day), I completely forgot to give her a little shout out on the Joffe Blog. Janet, I hope you had a wonderful time on the cruise with your mom and brother. I will be calling soon to hear all about it! Happy Belated Birthday, sistah!

And to Sam and Susan -- Happy Belated 5th Anniversary! Susan, I'll be sure to drink your portion of the (belated) toast for you, because that's what friends are for!

And finally another today/tomorrow/what day is it anyway birthday wish to Dad, who we hope is off galavanting and having a grand time in Sydney, rather than sitting at home not answering our call! Have a happy, happy, happy birthday!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ilan!!

Happy, happy birthday (a little bit belated). We cannot believe that you are one year away from the double digits!! We hope you had a wonderful day with lots of love, laughter, and good times (and presents). We only wish we could have been there to celebrate with you.

Our apologies for being a day late (although technically, it is still your birthday here in the States, so continue to party on in style). More apologies for this old photo. Our cache of photos is apparently not up to date!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


We woke up yesterday morning, threw on t-shirts, shorts, and running shoes, and took Kai out for his semi-regular morning walk/jog. Actually, Mark was taking Kai for a run, and I was planning on working out on the treadmill in the apartment complex's little gym. But one step outside, and I knew it was a special day, worthy of an actual walk around the neighborhood. I actually felt chilled and almost (almost!) contemplated throwing on a light sweatshirt or perhaps a long-sleeve shirt. I'm sorry for all the devastation Gustav caused in the Caribbean, and I'm glad it didn't destroy New Orleans as expected. But for purely selfish reasons, I am thrilled it came our way, with its big dark clouds, gusty winds, and temperatures that never reached above 85 degrees . . . all day (though not a drop of rain, which I guess we really need)! We even kept the windows open . . . all day! Granted the noise from the busy road behind our house was almost deafening, but who cared. We were breathing something other than air-conditioned air. If only it would last.

This may not seem blog-worthy to most of you, but trust me, it really, really is!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Time in New England

I never did do that well in geography. Is New Jersey part of New England? Hmmm. Anyone out there is free to answer that question and let me know, as I'm too lazy today to jump over to another tab and Google it.

I've been a bit MIA here. A couple weeks ago, I abandoned Mark and Kai to head off for what I am calling New England. First stop, Hamden, CT, where I spent a great time with my dad (Mom was off celebrating Uncle Roy's 94th birthday in South Carolina, which is definitely not part of New England). Happy belated birthday, Uncle Roy!!

Dad and I began the festivities by dining on the world's largest plate of sweet potato fries and fried calamari ... ever! I barely made a dent in it, and somehow leftover fried food just isn't as good as the first time around. Bummer, as it was quite tasty the first time around. The next day, we loaded up the cooler with more than enough essentials, including a delicious deli sandwich, and sailed around Long Island Sound on his 20-some-odd-foot sailboat, Entropy. The weather was beautiful, though not much wind. That, however, turned out to be a good thing. We later found out that not too far south there were tornado warnings and hail storms. That would explain the black clouds on the horizon!

Saturday we headed up to Shelburne Falls, MA, home of the Bridge of Flowers and my dad, for a fantastic day with Uncle Paul and Aunt Gerry and a host of other Meads. Happy Anniversary, once again, to Paul and Gerry! After an afternoon of Wii playing, where I proved that I absolute suck at tennis and golf, both real and virtual, we filled up on lobster, corn, and salad. Yum, yum, and yum. It was so great to see all the cousins again, as it has been WAY too long. Thanks, everyone, for making it up there "just for me" (oh, and for the anniversary too, of course ... grin!).

Then Sunday, the nieces arrived--Megan, Ella, and Sabrina. Denise and I loaded up the minivan to head south to Green Pond, NJ. I can't even begin to cover our week full of adventures and activities. There was swimming; jumping off the dock; playing on the playground; riding in the canoe, party boat, motor boat, and Chris Craft; tubing, including a spectacular "dismount" by yours truly as well as a great time with Megan; lots of food, drinks, and laughter; a reunion with the McGarry girls; listening to Uncle Gary play at Jig's; just sitting around visiting and catching up; bike rides and walks; food at the Stand; lunch at the Yacht Club. Whew. I know there is so much more. I can't even remember it all. Thanks, Mom and Dad for a wonderful time!! And thanks Auntie Jane and Uncle Gary for putting up with me ... I mean putting me up! I know it wasn't in the plans, but I really appreciate it!

Sorry, no photos yet. Mom had the camera, as mine was back home with Mark.

Now I am back home in Texas, where it looks like we will be staying for a while. We just applied for a lease on a home for the next year. It's not too far from where we live right now, and it's closer to Dave's, where Mark works. Right across the street from the house is a park with trails (paved) for good walks with Kai. The house also has a MASSIVE backyard for Kai to run around in all he wants. First purchase after moving in ... a doggie door for Kai. Hallelujah!

So if any of you are ever in Dallas for the next year or so, give us a call, as we'd love some company and a distraction from the fact that we actually live in Dallas, Texas (who would have ever thought that would happen?!?).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Falling Behind and Catching Up

I'm sitting here sipping some wine and listening to the rain pour down outside. Aaahhh! I don't know if it's cooling anything off out there, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Sorry to be a bit out of touch (aside from all the well wishes). We have been keeping busy with work and exploring and even a little bit of exercise, all as explained below.

But first, some technical info. For those of you who do not receive email updates, you can sign up for them simply by entering your email address in the little box at the right. I know you all check in every single day, anxiously awaiting our next big adventure, so this will make it that much easier to read all about it! OK, onto our so-called adventures.

Two weekends ago, Mark, Kai, and I trekked south for a little getaway. We headed down to Waco and then veered off the main road to explore the back routes. Along the way, we passed a sign for Crawford, which sounded very familiar, though we didn't realize why until I said, "Hmm, Crawford, Texas, sounds familiar." Then I realized that the next word after Crawford, Texas, is ranch, as in Dubya's home away from home. We decided not to stop in to say, "Howdy."

After 5+ hours on the road, we once again realized that taking the back roads in Texas is not even remotely interesting. Ya seen one dusty ranch with long-horn cattle, ya seen them all. But it was all worth it, as we ended up in Dripping Springs, a small town in the Hill Country southwest of Austin. We were there to visit our good friends Marianne (pronounced My-anna) and Travis (pronounced T) and their two boys (Barret and Adler) and two dogs (Bailey and Addie), who had all moved to the area from Hillsborough (Calif.) about a year ago. They have a very lovely home with lots of land and a house full of laughter (with some occasional crying and barking). We were only there for a couple days, but we had a blast. Lots of reminiscing and catching up. Way too much good food and wine. And an absolutely fabulous time at Barton Springs Pool ... a little piece of heaven right in the middle of Austin. If I lived in Austin, I think I would just camp out at this pool 24/7. Mark and Travis finished off the weekend with a mountain bike ride near Hamilton Pool, another cool (in all senses of the word) area of Austin (I only know about it because I found the link for this post; we didn't actually go to this pool ... BUMMER!). It was hard to tear ourselves away from it all, and I probably wouldn't have if I'd known about Hamilton. Even Mark admitted that Austin is a great place, what with all its open space, trails, parks, rivers, and natural pools (all of which is very lacking in the Dallas area), not to mention a host of good restaurants (only two of which we tried). But home we went, promising to get together again much sooner rather than later.

The past week has been filled with work for both of us. I won't bore you with the details. If you really want to know, just give us a call and we'll fill you in. We ended the week with another bike ride. I did the shorter route (only about 20 miles ... ouch!); Mark pretty much doubled that, at about double the speed. His legs are back to being the solid pistons that just won't stop! Yesterday, we did a driving/hiking tour around Lake Lewisville and discovered some great hiking trails for us and for Kai, with a couple easy access/swimming points. We finished it off with a delicious chocolate shake from Braum's and a night of video-watching and relaxation. So, although we may whine just a bit about Dallas, we are enjoying ourselves. And good thing too, as we most likely will be here longer than expected. And with that tantalizing bit of news, I'll say good night until next time!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

So Many Leos . . .

. . . I can't keep up. I completley missed cousin Katya's birthday last week and nearly missed another dual-hemisphere day: Cousin Peter's birthday in Massachusetts today/yesterday and sister Sharon's birthday today/tomorrow (depending on where in the world you are), not to mention Cousin Tim and Denese's anniversary tomorrow. Whew!

We wish you all the best in the year to come with gobs of love and laughter. I'm a little skimpy on photos, as I haven't seen many of you in way too long. We'll just have to find a way to solve that problem in the coming year. In the meantime, heeeeeere's Sharon!

Stay tuned, as I really be updating this blog with more news of our adventures in Texas, including our wonderful, wonderful time in Austin last weekend.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Apologies to Aunt Kay's Family!

I wrote that last post in a rush on our way out of town. I had Aunt Kay in mind and decided to rename them the McKay family! You know what I meant, right?!?!

An officialy update on our weekend is coming soon, but wanted to say a big OOPS and SORRY!!

Hope you all had a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Busy Birthday Weekend!

We are off to Austin to visit our good friends Marianne (pronounced Myanna) and Travis. But before we head south, we wanted to send out very happy, wonderful birthday wishes to a triumvarate of beautiful women in our lives:

Mum and Auntie Jane share the same birthday, although Mum's is today here in America (tomorrow in Australia) and Auntie Jane's is tomorrow. But whatever the day and wherever you are, we wish we were with you to help you celebrate with love and smiles.

And a belated birthday to the latest bride in our family, Mrs. Rebecca Bressani. We saw the photos, and your tropical wedding looked absolutely wonderful and a grand ol' party (who would expect any less from the McKay women and their clan?). Happy, happy birthday!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Something to Smile About

In these crazy times, it's fun to just smile and dance once in a while. A friend forwarded this link to me (thanks, Glenn!), and I thought I'd share it with all of you. If I were savvy enough, I'd just put the whole video here, but no idea how to do that. So instead, click the link for a 5-minute break from your day: Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth

p.s. I guess this guy has been around a while, but this is his most recent video. Interesting info about him at Wikipedia (the not-always-reliable font of knowledge on the Web).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Well Done, Mark!

Though I don't have the photos to prove it, this past weekend, Mark competed in The Plano Cycling Texas State Championship Sprint Adventure Race Series ™ (catchy title; not sure how they fit all that on the T-shirt). In 100+ degree heat. Crazy boy. Considering that Mark and his business/adventure race partner, Dave, had not really trained for the event--aside from going running and biking on a somewhat irregular basis--they did pretty well, finishing right about in the middle of the pack, and that's with a semi-deflated kayak, which should have been their strong suit. Anyway, it was actually the championship event in a series of adventure races that Dave's wife competes in (she and her partner came in 4th; apparently they were a little more prepared). Mark and Dave decided on Thursday that they would compete on Saturday, with the deciding factor being the free entry ($150 per team is ridiculously high, especially when you really don't get that much in return). Made me realize even more what an incredible deal all those kayakers and rafters were getting for the Gore Canyon Race!

The reason I have no pictures is that I was responsible for watching 11-year-old Lindsey and 3-year-old A.J. in something I call The Plain Crazy Texas State Championship Adventures in Babysitting Series. The kids were all-in-all pretty well behaved, considering the circumstances: 100-degree heat on a ranch in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do except kick around a soccer ball, hang out in the truck, throw rocks in the creek, or drop trou and poop right in the middle of the parking lot (that would be A.J.--potty training is grand). I tried to get them interested in hanging out by the creek a little longer so we could catch a glimpse of their parents or Mark riding through on their bikes or maybe even getting to the finish line to cheer them on, but the kids would have nothing to do with it. Some support crew they turned out to be!

A.J. The Drive Home
Post-post edit: The picture on the right is of Donielle, Lindsey, and A.J. all crashed out on the drive home. I woke up from my nap just long enough to snap this shot.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Birthday Wishes

Well, we are ridiculously late on some of these well wishes. My excuse is that I did not have any recent photos (as evidenced by the horrible scan of a negative below), but I guess that hasn't stopped me in the past. And to top it off, we sent a duplicate e-card to our nephew Ariel (the same one we had sent to his sister, Lily). Apparently the memory of a six-year-old is a thousand times better than the memories of two rapidly-approaching-40-year-olds! A thousand apologies, Ariel, and you have every right to tickle Uncle Mark all you want next time you see him!

SO, without further ado.

Sorry we missed the party, but looking forward to seeing you in August to give you a proper birthday hug!

And one that's actually on time ...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Weekend Update ... a Little Late

We started our weekend with a bit of dread as we headed out to the Denton County DMV. Mark was adamant that we get the license thing sorted ASAP, as this is the first time he will be voting ... ever ... and he wants to be in the rolls and ready to go. So, off we went, having written off our entire day, just in case.

Imagine our surprise when we were in and out of the license plate place in no more than 15 minutes. We were even more surprised that we dealt with a very pleasant woman who had a sense of humor and who even helped me remember our license plate number by deciding that LBC stands for lazy blue cat. Although that means nothing, it will stick in my head. Now I just need to work on the numbers.

We giddily walked through a little corridor to the driver's license section, feeling quite proud of ourselves. Of course, nothing is ever all easy. Turns out that we forgot (or didn't realize we needed) our social security cards AND our birth certificates. So we ran home, grabbed it all up (thankful that we hadn't sent any of it to be stored in my parents' home in Connecticut), snatched our passports just in case, and headed back. The driver's license woman had a case of grimness and barely cracked a smile, although I tried to be as funny as humanly possible, considering we were in a DMV. But other than that, it was relatively painless! So all in all, it wasn't a horrible experience, and we were out of there before noon. Now we just have to wait 30 days to see how the photos turned out.

We commemorated our new residency by going to an El Salvadorean restaurant I'd seen while out on errands. My goal was to celebrate with a margarita. But alas, not only didn't the restaurant serve much of an El Salvadorean menu, it also did not sell margaritas (although its menu proclaimed that it did). Oh well. After a little work at home, we spent that evening around Dave and Donielle's pool, sipping wine and scotch (depending on who was doing the sipping) and meeting some of Dave's neighbors and friends. Nice folks.

The next morning we got a not-so-early start (thanks to the remnants of the previous night's sipping) on my planned driving tour of the greater Dallas area (see the "Movie Texas" part of the article). Turns out that going for a weekend drive to explore Texas is nowhere near as interesting, pretty, scenic, etc., etc., as doing the same through the Colorado mountains or the San Francisco Bay area. So, it wasn't that much fun at all, though we did find a nice restaurant in Waxahachie (crepe/crape myrtle capital of Texas and home to more lawyer's offices than I think I have ever seen in any small town) where we enjoyed a yummy lunch at the 1879 Chisholm Grill, and Mark had his first experience with sweet tea. (When we asked the waitress how much sugar they put in the tea, she said it depended on who made it. She then relayed a story of how she once took a big gulp of tea, only to have her jaw lock up from the sweetness of it. WOW!)

After being in the car all day, having driven through downtown Dallas (past the grassy knoll), and on to Waxahachie, Maypearl (supposedly one of the prettiest little towns in Texas ... we highly beg to differ), and then downtown Fort Worth (which actually looks pretty nice, though by that point we were too exhausted to get out and look around), we worked our way back to Flower Mound, where I forced the issue of trying to find a margarita. We ended up at El Chico's, where we experienced firsthand what it means to live in a formerly dry town.
Downtown Dallas
Waxahachie Courthouse

Apparently, Flower Mound and Lewisville used to be dry cities. From what the bartender told us, they aren't anymore, but many of the private establishments keep up with the old system. In order to buy something other than beer or wine at a restaurant, you have to show them your driver's license (which, of course, we don't really have ... just a piece of paper right now). But they don't care about photos. They just enter the DL number into some machine, and we get a card that we have to sign stating that we are now members of their little club. And then we can get a drink. It's just one step up from knocking on a door and uttering the secret password through a slotted window.

The margarita wasn't nearly as good as I was hoping, but maybe it was just the long day that put a bitter taste in my mouth. So we went to pick up Kai from Dave and Donielle's, rented a couple movies, took Kai for a walk, and chilled out for the rest of the evening. A nice ending to a long, hot day. [Side note: Sunday we ate of TGI Friday's while running errands, and I finally got a surprisingly good 'rita, and also learned some TGIF history from an incredibly friendly waitress--both potato skins and Long Island iced tea supposedly started in a TGIF restaurant.]
Our walk with Kai
On the phone with the Asakawas during our walk

Last night we headed into Old Lewisville, one of the more charming towns in our immediate area, to see a live concert in the square: Big Daddy Alright, a pretty good 7-piece swing band. Good times!

Monday, July 14, 2008

E-mail Problems and Our Cute Dog

First of all, an apology to anyone who happens to be reading this. Apparently, ever since I spent my one week in the office, my personal e-mails (and even some work ones ... ACK!) were being stored in GoDaddy's bulk mail folder. I just discovered this today and spent the morning wading through 200+ e-mails, including wonderful pics of dad on his boat and of adorable little Isabella Meyer. So, if you've been wondering why you haven't heard any responses from me, just think how I felt, sitting here in Dallas, thinking no one likes me now that I'm a Texan!

Second, just a quick story of our adorable dog Kai, who has been suffering silently for the past three weeks without a bed of his own. (He used to have two separate beds). We left his beds at Jon and Val's because there was not an inch of space for either one of them in the car. But he seemed fine and has been sleeping either on our so-called bed (Thermarests and blankets on the floor) or in his crate on a blanket-yoga mat combo. Yesterday we finally splurged and bought a fuzzy little bed that fits perfectly in his crate. When we returned to the apartment, my hands were full, so I plopped the bed on the floor and went to put away the groceries. The bed hadn't been on the floor for two seconds, when Kai came up, didn't even sniff it, just grabbed it gently in his mouth, and carried it into his crate, as if to say, "It's about dang time. Didn't you know I wanted something comfier to sleep on, here? Sheesh!" Mark and I were too flabbergasted to laugh (this is the dog who is usually so cautious, he makes a meek little mouse look brave). So instead we just thanked him for finally doing his part in helping us get moved in.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Belated, Val! And other stuff ...

In addition to celebrating the birth of our nation, I also want to send out a big Happy Birthday to Val Babe (a little late)! Hope you had a blast! (Look at those young-uns!!)

And finally, photos from our trip so far. We would have more, but unfortunately our brand new camera is now on the bottom of Grapevine Lake

My fully loaded car, somewhere in Texas:

Our drive through Texas ... where'd the mountains go?

Our poor Kai dog on said drive in said overloaded car:

The view from our apartment:

Our first meal on our toolbox table (which has since been replaced with a real table):

Dave, Katie, John, and Tara in Grapevine Lake:

Oops, nope, that picture is now on the bottom
of the lake with our camera. Boo hoo!

We've been having a great time here. Last Friday, we saw the Gin Blossoms at The Glass Cactus, a great bar overlooking Grapevine Lake. A week ago Sunday, we went for a 25-mile road bike ride around Flower Mound/Grapevine. Apparently it was just a leisurely ride. I missed that part of it, as I was pedaling furiously trying to keep up with piston-legged Mark and veteran bike rider Dave.

For the Fourth, we went back to Grapevine Lake and had a wonderful day with Katie and John (the owners of the boat and wakeboard). [Katie works for Dave, Mark's partner.] We spent the afternoon lazing about, swimming, wakeboarding (not me, though ... way too choppy and crowded!), snacking, having a couple beers and a delicious mixture of fresh watermelon juice, lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and vodka. Mmmm,mmmm. After a gorgeous sunset, we anchored just below the Glass Cactus and watched the fireworks of at least three different towns (including the ones for Grapevine, just over our heads). The music blaring from the Cactus was an odd mixture of John Phillip Sousa, country patriotic songs, choral versions of patriotic standbys, the theme song from Forrest Gump (really?!), and a couple USA-type rock songs (conveniently leaving out the parts of "Born in the USA" that say anything bad about this country). It was an incredibly relaxing, fun day! Thanks, John and Kate!

Yesterday (Saturday), we headed off to Bonham, Texas, the home of Sam Rayburn, to visit Mark's old Terracom pal, Sean Hutchinson, at Sean's grandparents' ranch. It's still a working ranch, with a bunch of ponds his grandfather dug, filled, and stocked himself. We visited with the family, completely avoided any political or religious arguments (they are through-and-through conservative Christian Texans), and had some good ol' fashioned Texas food--fried fish (caught by Sean and his family in the ranch's ponds), fried chicken (bought fresh from KFC), sweet potato casserole, roast beef, baked beans, white bread, peppermint salt water taffy, ice cream, and on and on. Mark and I ate it all up and then headed off with the boys (Sean; his cousin, Jason; and his nephews, Kyle and Colton) for some fishing. I thought I would just sit and watch and keep Kai company. But it turns out Kai was in his element--wading out into the water, rolling in cow manure, being completely intrigued by whatever it was that we kept throwing out and then reeling in. So, I got a pole of my own and gave it a shot. And wouldn't you know it, I caught the biggest fish of the group that evening. My first fish caught since we went fishing with Uncle Paul when I was 10! I was sure it was about 5 pounds, at least. But back at the house, when Grandpa Hutchinson asked, turns out it was a whopping 1.5-pound bass. I'm still not thrilled with the whole idea of fishing (sushi-loving hypocrite that I am), but I was just a little proud of my accomplishment. I just hope they get it out of the basket and cook it up before it dies.

Now Mark is off for a 28-mile mountain bike ride (at high noon ... in Texas?!). I've decided to clean up, do some grocery shopping, and get some work done. Perhaps sit by the pool and read. Maybe even go to the gym to workout. Who knows! The options are endless.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Dang keyboard

Sorry about that mis-post. Right now, Blogger is not letting me edit, so you'll just have to wonder what "things I" was thinking of talking about. Or maybe I'll write about it all here.

We have survived more than a week here in Flower Mound. I have learned that the town is named as such because there is, indeed, a mound, and it does, indeed, have flowers on it. I have yet to see this mound, and I cannot ascertain as of yet whether said mound is perhaps one of those mysterious Native American mounds that no one knows much about or whether it is just a mound of flowers. When I find out, I will be sure to let you all know.

Last week I redeemed my younger self by successfully holding a pseudo-temp job for an entire week where all I had to do was answer phones. I answered a whopping six calls (without disconnecting or pissing off anyone). That far surpasses my temp job in 1987, when I believe either I was fired or I quit after less than one day of answering phones for AT&T in New York City. Perhaps I have learned a thing or two in the past 20 years?! I even think my paycheck from this one week was more than I ever earned in a week in New York.

You'll all be happy to know that today I solved the mystery of the Fresh Donuts and Water. First of all, I must apologize to this "fine dining establishment." The true name of the company is Gourmet Donuts and Water. Sounds even more intriguing. Gourmet water? Actually, they sell not-so-gourmet donuts, lousy coffee, and R.O. Water, which is reverse osmosis water. I didn't taste the water, but perhaps it is what they are referring to as gourmet.

Another thing I have learned since living here is that without a TV we are EXTREMELY productive and active, and we sleep 1,000 times better. Actually, I should amend that. I have always slept fine. Mark is sleeping through the night every night and is even taking naps. Perhaps it's the exercise or the improved diet or the full days or (my favorite theory) the fact that he isn't watching 24-hour news 48 hours a day. I don't know for sure, but it's very nice. (And Kai appreciates all the extra attention, too.)

The big news of today is that we finally got our rental washer and dryer. I have been washing 6 weeks worth of clothes all day. We finally have something other than winter clothes and pajamas to wear. Hallelujah!

Speaking of, I think I am going to throw on some clean socks and take Kai out for his night time walk. G'nite, y'all!

Things I

Friday, June 27, 2008

Texas "D"

Some call Texas the land of oil and cattle. Others think of Tex-Mex and margaritas. In actuality, from what I can determine, it is the land of donut shops and Chinese food super buffets. During our drive across west Texas and our past week here, I've kept my eyes open for a little breakfast diner like our favorite Nick's Cafe in Lakewood. Signs look promising from afar, but upon closer inspection, it's always Donuts, Donuts, Donuts. I had no idea these tasty little morsels were so popular here. In Dallas (or at least in the Flower Mound/Lewisville area), every strip mall, shopping center, gas station, and corner store has a donut shop. Even the Wal-Mart has a Dunkin' Donuts (where I finally broke down and bought two little donut holes, accompanied by the world's largest iced coffee -- everything's big in Texas, darlin').

My favorite, by far, is the Donuts and Water store. They don't seem to have a Web site, so I'll be driving by there and taking pictures and even going in to see what, exactly, they sell. I mean I've heard of donuts and coffee, but it never crossed my mind to dip my donut in an ice-cold glass of fresh water.

And if you want Chinese food, apparently this is the place, as even the smallest cow town had a China Super Buffet. I'm sure it's delicious, but I think I'll stick with the traditional Tex-Mex and barbecue, thank you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Howdy, y'all!

After a couple crazy months, we are finally here in Flower Mound, Texas. We left Denver on June 8, with a car and a truck load full of stuff. We had a wonderful detour on the way here, with four days on the Chama River in northern New Mexico. Great friends, great river, great relaxation, and great time (not to mention Wilderness Bocce Ball). Even Kai loved it! The farewells afterward were super tough. The better the friends, the harder the good-byes, that is for sure!! Even after all our moves, saying farewell to such good friends and family is never, ever easy. But we know we will see you all again, one way or another, whether through the wonders of the Internet or someplace in our travels.
GREAT FRIENDS     Wilderness Bocce Ball

Not too long after leaving the Chama, we were cheered up by our friends in New Mexico ... Chiara in Espanola and then Jon/Val/Daph and Danny and Jill in Albuquerque. Lots of wonderful food (too much!!), more great friends, and so much laughter my sides are still recovering! It was also so wonderful to have a bit more relaxation before the drive to Texas (although that relaxation was broken up by a high-noon death run through the "mosquito farms" along the Rio Grande; but one week later and no horrid diseases or West Nile, thank goodness!).

[P.S. No pictures from here on out as our camera died in Albuquerque and I don't have the attachment for the new camera. Photos to come when Mark gets home from work.]

We left Albuquerque on Tuesday morning, heading due south along part of the Camino Real through Hatch (where we bought what I assume to be authentic roasted Hatch green chilis and juicy juicy mangoes and tangerines), Las Cruces, and on to El Paso, where we waved to Mexico and said adios to the Rio Grande.

We then turned leftish and headed off the freeway toward Guadalupe Mountains National Park in far west Texas. It's a beautiful little mountain range and the highest point in Texas. I guess that was our official farewell to altitude. Our plans to get there early enough to walk around failed (they don't allow dogs anyway) and it was too early to camp (plus, we had no food for dinner or breakfast). So back in the car, where thirty minutes farther on, we drove past the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns (which was just closing--oh well). We still had ample hours of sunlight (with no mountains to block the sunset, daytime lasts forever), so we continued , traveling the backroads past potash fields (ugly), which turned into farm and cow fields (pretty in the sunset), then into windfarm fields (surreal in the nighttime lightning storm), and then into a few last hills before Fort Worth. (We did stop that night at Fort Griffin State Park for a restful sleep in an immaculate, yet empty, campsite.) [Wow, so many parentheses in that paragraph!]

We arrived in Flower Mound at noon on Wednesday and started the fun process of moving in, which continues to today. Who knew we still had so much stuff? The pile of things to get rid of is growing, as trying to cram all our belongings from a three-bedroom, two-car garage house into one bedroom is quite the challenge. And this is after we sold all our furniture, gave literally truckloads of goodies to Good Will and the library, and shipped off 1000 pounds of other items to Mom and Dad in Connecticut for storage. Whew!

We have been pleasantly surprised by our time in Texas so far. Flower Mound is on the northern outskirts of the city. We joked that we are now living in the Highlands Ranch area of Dallas, only to find out the shopping center just down the road is called Highlands Ranch. (Highlands Ranch is the area south of Denver that has all the newer developments and big houses and golf courses). Everyone is super nice, and even the heat hasn't been too bad (although I take back every nasty thing I ever said about air conditioning).

We are hoping to get the last of the unpacking done tonight so we can finally relax and enjoy. We did take a "break" yesterday for a road bike ride that just about killed my thighs. Mark's partner, Dave, and Dave's wife, Donielle, are in incredible shape, and they just about kicked our butts! But it felt good to move (even if it hurts to move now).

So that's it--the past month or so in a rather large and verbose nutshell. We truly and dearly miss all our friends in Denver, but we are looking forward to our new adventures here in Texas and then ... France?! That's still the plan. Stay tuned for more (but briefer, I promise) observations on our little life. For now, I will sit here and wait for the man to install our washer/dryer (who will be here between the hours of 10 and 4?!?!??)