Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gypsy living travel tips

Recently I realized that I have spent at least one week a month for the last 10 months living out of a suitcase. I know, I know, I claim to be a gypsy right? So why should this surprise anyone? But it did surprise me. My gypsy life has had me either house sitting or traveling frequently over the last year, and just so you all know, it's not slowing down. Not by a long shot. 

For many people, the most dreaded aspect of travel is the packing. What to bring? What to wear? How to fit it all in your luggage? But not me. Maybe it's because I've spent so much time living this gypsy life that my packing skills are honed. I view this part of travel as the challenge. I like to travel as light as possible, so figuring it all out until I have everything all nicely packed and organized is not something I dread. 

The part of travel, and airline travel in particular, that I dread is booking the tickets. I like a good deal as much as the next person. But if you're like me, you haven't planned your trip far enough in advance to really scout out good deals. Instead of having the luxury of being patient and keeping your eye on prices, it's a hurry up and book the ticket at the lowest price you can find right now, kind of situation. And when work prevents you from having flexible travel dates, those tickets can get pretty pricey. 

I'm gonna let you in on one tip that recently helped me. I've heard of this trick before, but I've never had success with this method until now. So if any of you are out there trying to plan a Spring Break getaway, and you haven't been able to bite the bullet on the prices, here's my tip:

Check one-way ticket prices.

I was able to knock off at least 25% off my total ticket price by purchasing the best one-way tickets I could find. Not only that, but I was able to book those flights for times that worked best for my schedule.

Also, if you can help it, don't fly on a Sunday. 

Where do you like to getaway to for Spring Break? Do you have any travel tips you've learned along the way? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Downton Effect

Monday evenings somewhere in between working out and going to bed, usually while making and eating dinner, I turn on my laptop and watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey.

To clarify, I was not a Downton devotee from the start. I finally watched the first couple of seasons about a year ago just to figure out what all the fuss was about. I watched those first couple of seasons while quilting. Even now, I cannot sit in rapture, solely focused on the show. I must be occupied doing something else. I'm not sure why this is, other than maybe the show is long, people. Especially on a Monday, my chosen viewing night.

But that's neither hear nor there. The point of this is to warn you about the Downton Effect that has taken hold of my life, or at least my dreams.

I once wrote about how I have similar problems after binge watching Covert Affairs.  

I'm not sure exactly what sparked the Downton Effect to take over. Perhaps it was one of those "which character are you" quizzes I took. (For the record, I am Lady Sybil no matter how much Mama insists that I am Lady Mary.)

For the past few weeks, I have woken up on Tuesday morning straight from the set of Downton. Really. Truly. Lady Mary, Tom Branson, Daisy, Mr. Barrow, the whole lot of them are invading my dreams. It only happens on Monday nights and for that I am grateful, or I might start insisting my roommate start acting as my lady's maid and cook wrapped into one.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Life hit

I headed into this weekend with nothing on the agenda. No grand plans. Not expecting anything to happen. And then life hit.

Friday, I got a phone call informing me that Grandpa Z was in the hospital. Pretty scary business, and we missed our Friday afternoon chat because of it all. Unfortunately, Saturday didn't bring any good news for him either. Last I heard, the situation is under control, and I do hope to chat with him soon. But it'll probably be awhile before Granddad will be riding in his gator. (For any of you praying folks out there, prayers are much appreciated right now.)

While that was going on, Saturday afternoon, I had to make an unexpected trip to the city. It all worked out, and we even fit a little bit of fun into the visit by way of dinner and dessert with friends, a filling southern brunch on Sunday morning, and even a wee bit of fabric shopping.

About fabric, I realize most of my hobbies make me sound like an 80-year-old woman. I quilt, I sew, and I feel my most creative when at a fabric store designing my newest creation. Seriously, I get excited imagining what it's going to look like and which fabrics will work the best together to make my idea a reality. Thanks to some fabric sales this weekend, and a trip to a boutique store in the city, I now have enough material and projects that I have no more do-nothing weekends in sight.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Back on the trail

Thanks to Washington's Birthday yesterday and a series of fortunate events, I got an early release day from work yesterday. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I feel a bit like a school kid cutting class. 

Even more fortunate for me, it happened to be a decent day with temps in the 40s. And if you know anything about this mountain town where I live, you know that winters are long. Very long. Every day the weather is halfway decent is a day to be taken advantage of. 

As soon as I got home yesterday, I strapped on my running shoes. Trying not to think about the consequences of my last outdoor run, I hit the pavement. I headed for the nearest park, which just so happens to have some pretty great river trails.  

I am happy to report the run was just what I needed, even though the rain did threaten to join me. And the best news is that I haven't sneezed, not even once. This is especially good, seeing as how I have only about 10 weeks until my next half marathon. It's over twice as much time to train as I gave myself last time. But I know how quickly those weeks can pass. 

I'm itching to get out and hit the trail again today. With no chance of early release today, I'm stuck in the office, hoping the patch of blue sky I can see through the skylight above me sticks around until 5.   

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dogs & Olympics: dogged journalism or journalistic hounding

Olympian Gus Kenworthy wasn't the only one falling in love with dogs last week. I have been dog sitting in a wonderful house, in a great neighborhood, for the sweetest dog on the planet.

This is Charlotte. 

Do you remember that montage in 101 Dalmatians where the people looked like their dogs, or the dogs looked like their people? 

All week, people told me that Charlotte, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, looked like the kind of dog I should own. I have no idea what they meant by that statement, as I don't see a resemblance between Charlotte's wavy curls and big brown eyes and my stick straight wisps and green eyes. Perhaps they were referring to my equally sweet nature. (Ha! Doubtful. Although, Charlotte's actual owner really is that sweet.)  

In other news, I've been staying up way too late watching some of the Olympic coverage. And let me tell you, that I too am disappointed in the quality of the reporters out there. They are seriously lacking basic journalistic skills. And I don't care if Bode Miller isn't bashing Christin Cooper for hounding him to tears, but I still will. 

There was a time when reporters had ethics that didn't involve intruding on another's grief. Cooper took her audience for granted when she repeatedly asked Miller a line of questioning that's intention was for the sole purpose of getting him to show raw emotion. The thing is, the audience could already see Miller's emotions. This was television, not a newspaper article. We aren't blind. The camera was zoomed in on Miller's face. We could see the tears in his eyes and his struggle to maintain composure through each question. We didn't need Cooper's interrogation to see what Miller was going through. And because those questions were the only ones aired back at home, we have no idea if she ever even bothered to interview him about the whole reason he was in the spotlight. His race and his reflection on his performance as an athlete, a competitor.   

In all fairness, Cooper isn't the only disappointing reporter in Sochi. What is the deal with asking athletes how they are feeling? It doesn't matter if they just missed their chance at the finals and the gold, or if they won their first or fifteenth medal, obviously their emotions are all over the place. How would you feel if you spent years training and pouring your life into something only to be knocked out of contention early on? Or to finally hold in your hand the goal you have given everything to reach. We would never dream of interviewing the actor who didn't win the Oscar about how they are "feeling right now." Why then is it okay to ask our athletes those same questions?  These are athletes, not actors. A better question would be, "What were you thinking when (something relevant to their performance or event)?"

Stepping off soapbox now. Clearly my theory about my sweet disposition matching Charlotte's is now debunked. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII

All the chatter online seems to indicate you had to be a Seahawks fan to enjoy last night's Superbowl. As a Pacific Northwesterner, enjoy it I did.

There aren't a lot of sporting events in which Oregonians saddle up to Washingtonians and cheer. But  football is one of them. If only for lack of an NFL team in Oregon. 

Seattle's win last night was a long time coming.

I remember being the only Seahawks fan in a sea of Steelers back when I lived on the East Coast in 2006. I watched the game on a tiny screen in my roommate's bedroom. And after all the talk and build up to a Bronco win over the last week, even as a passing Seahawks fan, I went into yesterday's game braced for a loss, as was the case with many long-time Hawks devotees. 

I got to watch this year's Superbowl with some 3rd generation Seattle fans. The game may have bored half of America. But in my neighbor's living room, in front of three screens all set to the same channel, there was jumping and shouting and smiles and laughter the whole game through. 

There was also food. Lots and lots of good food.