Tuesday, July 27, 2010

cellar worthy

"If your heart is warm with happiness, you'll need a glass - if sorrow chills your heart, have two!" - Hannu

As a result of a spontaneous invitation from my dear friend, Ali, myself and five of my best girlfriends from Orange County spent four gorgeous days in Napa Valley, CA in honor of Ali's 35th birthday.

To say the vacation was lush is an understatement.

I've lived in Ohio for almost five months now and have started to adjust to the slower pace, warmer climate, simple pleasures, and a very friendly and generous culture.  During my jaunt to wine country, I was reminded of how I used to complain about the heat in California, but now I would trade it for Ohio's humidity any day.  And I was surprised by how much brighter the landscape appeared to my eyes.  Funny how quickly we adapt.

Thanks to Ali and her sisters' connections, we reveled in VIP tastings, meeting the vintners, a private patio lunch, lodging at The Meritage Resort (featured in the season 6 finale of Top Chef), an afternoon nosh at Gott's Roadside (seen in the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), fancy birthday dinner at Brix, a lovely stroll through the hotel's vineyard and wine cave, eclectic and flavorful tapas at ZuZu, a fabulous burger at Charlie Rose, frozen yogurt (twice in one day!), and a visit with the Korsmeier family.

We galavanted around town with the only goal being to frolic.
Mission accomplished!

While in NoCal, I snuck in a day with the Holowatys in Burlingame (just outside San Francisco), met my baby nephew (Jack) for the first time, watched my oldest niece (Elanor) scoop ice cream at her first 'real' job, walked through the neighborhood with my five year old nephew (Seth) voluntarily holding my hand for the first time, played with my now extremely verbal 1.5 year old nephew (Quinn), celebrated my newly pregnant sister-in-law, drove across the Bay Bridge (always grand and foggy), and enjoyed a leisurely day with my husband's family.

Is it possible to get a cramp from laughing so hard or smiling too much?  Let's just say I've been stretching my facial muscles a lot since my return to the midwest.

My conclusion?  There will be something (or lots of somethings) about every place I live in that I will absolutely adore.  Ohio already has that effect on me, even if I plan to leave it from time to time to visit the charms of my former zip codes.  I am one blessed girl!

Friday, July 16, 2010

licensed driver

Do I look excited in my new license picture?  Because I am.

I tried putting off the exam for as long as I could.  I really really really don't like taking tests.  They make me sweat, literally.  A lot. I held off through two moves, new bank accounts, the purchase of a home, and other adjustments that defined our permanency as residents here.

My husband is the kind of person who jumps right in to these sorts of things and says, "What's the worse that can happen?"  Then he passes, just like that.  I am the opposite.  I sit on it, overanalyze it, anxiously hoping that somehow my avoidance will change the outcome.

Well, I decided that today I was going to face my fear.  I put my big girl pants on and drove myself to the BMV (we have a Bureau of Motor Vehicles 'round these parts).

I haven't taken this type of exam since I was 17!  I'm pretty sure I gave all of the staff who helped me through the process quite a show. When I'm nervous or excited, I talk nonstop and I make jokes.  So there I was, Ms. Chatterbox, being funny and awkward and asking questions about everything.  When I sat down to take my test, I put the headphones on, tuned everyone else out, and exclaimed "yesssss!" when I got an answer right and "nooooo, what?!? Ugghh!" when I got an answer wrong.

When the computer told me I passed, I was so excited.  I left my station like I owned the place.  The staff were all looking at me with smiles on their faces.  Before I walked to the other side of the building to get my picture taken, I apologized for being so noisy. Two of them said in unison, "Welcome to Ohio."

Watch out deer, there's a new driver in town.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

police blotter: human nature

Oftentimes it's the folly of man that keeps us entertained.

This post will prove that notion, and will be the first of many featuring listings from our local police blotter.  What you are about to read has not been altered (headlines included).

PUNCH ME: Police received report of a man punching himself while walking along W. Reagan Pkwy around 7:35 p.m., April 6.  An officer located the man and spoke with him, making sure everything was fine.

COFFEE: It's not Starbucks, but a male customer became upset after learning the price of a cup of coffee at a S. Court St. gas station on April 7.  Police responded and warned him for his conduct.  The man said he would not return.

COMPLAINT?: A man entered the Medina Police Station on May 29 and asked if anyone had recently filed a complaint against him. Officers informed him that no one had made a complaint.

SYRINGE? NO, SHARPIE: A resident told police that there was a possible syringe lying in a front yard near Grant St. and S. Broadway St. on May 29.  Police responded and determined that the object was actually a Sharpie ink pen.

FIGHT, SCHOOL: Two men, ages 17 and 18, fought outside Claggett Middle School around 12:10 p.m., June 29.  The two men were allegedly fighting over girls.  When police arrived, the fight had ended.  Police told the two men to stay away from each other.

LOST CHILD: Residents reported Saturday night that there was an unusual party crasher at a graduation reception.  The residents called police after a 3-year-old boy wandered into the party around 9:30 p.m. and proceeded to 'make himself at home.'  Police discovered that the boy had walked from his backyard on Dorchester Circle to the party.  He was reunited with his parents.

ARGUMENT: A customer and cashier began arguing over a 6-cent difference on the bill Feb. 8 at a restaurant on Medina Square.  Police responded to mediate, and the manager waived the bill in order to maintain a good relationship with the customer.

GROUNDED?: After his mother had disciplined him, a young boy called 911 to complain to police but then hung up.  The incident occurred around 7:20 p.m., June 28.  Dispatch responded and warned the boy not to call 911 unless it was an emergency.

EGGED: A Harding Street resident told police that a vehicle, which was parked at the home, incurred possible paint damage from a barrage of eggs that were thrown at the car around 2:25 p.m., June 29.

DOMESTIC DISPUTE: Police advised two brothers to 'grow up' on June 30 after they got into a punching match over ice cream.  The brothers got into an argument about which one of them ate some ice cream earlier in the week.  One brother called police after the argument degenerated into a pushing and shoving match.

TAKING OR GIVING?: A W. Smith Road man contacted police around 2:43 p.m. on Christmas Day, wanting to bring charges against his girlfriend's son.  Allegedly, while the couple was out, the boy opened his Christmas presents without permission.  Police told the man that the incident is not theft because they were the boy's presents.

Welcome to Ohio.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

falling trees

© photo credit: burlingtonwalks.org

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

My husband and I have debated this question for years.  I say yes.  He says no.  I know about the sound waves versus vibrations argument, and it depends on how you define sound, etc. etc., but I still say yes. Chris still says no.

I love our playful banter, even if my husband is wrong.

Now, I'm not mentioning this because I'm looking for your opinion (no offense), I mention it because yesterday a thought occurred to me that reminded me of this debate.

Yesterday was a surprisingly overcast day sandwiched in-between our weeks of heat.  And by overcast, I don't mean cool.  The temperature does drop, but we're talking from the 90s to the 80s, and the humidity is high.  Not my ideal, but I'll take whatever cooling trend I can get, even if it only lasts 24 hours (and I still end up sweating so much I feel like a wet noodle).  While walking a track at the local middle school, I had my iPod on and playing a delicious mix of bubblegum pop, gospel and folk songs.  I noticed several other runners and walkers were also circling the track with music devices in their ears.

When I walk and listen to music, I tend to sing out loud.  It's rare that I know all the lyrics to a song, but I like to sing what I do know. While doing this yesterday, I looked around at everyone else and wondered if they were singing, too.  Of course, with my earbuds in my ears, I wouldn't hear them if they were.

So my question is, if a room full of people are listening to personal music devices (with headphones on) and singing out loud, but no one without headphones on is present to hear them, do they make a sound?  Okay, I realize it's a stretch, but the thought amused me.

You should know that these thoughts exist in a place my husband calls 'Amy World.'

Thursday, July 8, 2010

freedom day

Believe the rumors.

The midwest is spilling over with Americana this time of year, and I kind of love it.

We spent our fourth of July weekend at a few different locales, giving us a good dose of middle America hospitality and mirth.  The festivities began in our church parking lot at the annual Cornerstone tailgate party.  Bounce houses, face painting, snow cones, bagpipes, fireworks.. it was all there.  When the sun started to fade, everyone gathered on a big hill and waited for the first signs of color to burst in the sky.

Sunday was a full day, as we enjoyed church together and visited three parties that afternoon.  For the first one, we drove to Chippewa Lake and spent time making new friends, I had my face (and arm and hands) painted by the kids and watched those same kids jump off the neighborhood dock and shriek with delight at how cold the water felt in the hot sun.  And the food, oh man!  Did they do it up right.  For our second stop, we joined a few folks in Medina for a family backyard BBQ. After hugs and introductions, we relaxed and engaged in discussions about sex ed in schools, communism vs. socialism, marriage, childhood memories and apple pie.

From there, we ended our evening in Spencer with two friends who insisted on showing us "the best fireworks display in the area."  Not only did Spencer put on a good show, they also had the best kettle corn I've ever eaten! (the sweet potato fries came in a close second.) Ah, nothing says hometown goodness like portable toilets, funnel cakes and a dunk tank.  Spencer was the place to be!

Patty also brought her famous chocolate-dipped pretzels, and I brought my mosquito repellant fans.  Our friends were right, the fireworks were really something.  Everyone sat on one end of a big field while the local firemen lit fuses on the other end.  The explosions were so close to us that every time a rocket would propel in to the air and burst, we could feel the boom in our chests all the way down to our toes.

Monday completed our holiday marathon with a pool party.  Paul & Pam opened up their oasis of a home and hosted a lively gathering. We all sat in the summer sun sharing stories, playing water volleyball and applying (and reapplying) sunscreen.  I played referee for the first two games with a floppy hat on my head and a plastic whistle around my neck.  The competitiveness, laughter, and seeing my husband having so much fun in the pool were my favorite.. until I got cooked.  It was a good day.  Word has it, Paul & Pam just built a 40-foot slip 'n slide in their backyard.  Now, that would be worth braving the heat for.  Who's with me?

It's true, there is something lovely about sharing space with friends and complete strangers.  Every place we went to over the weekend reminded us of how good community feels.  The American flag-lined streets, patriotic t-shirts, homegrown parades, picnic tables, lemonade stands, potato salad, children waving sparklers, and the smell of grilled meat were everywhere.

Just perfect.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

stretchable saint

My husband is a pastor.  Unofficially.

The paperwork was submitted last month and his licensing process will begin soon  I appreciate that the foursquare denomination has the spouse of the applicant sign one of the forms as well, confirming that I am in this with him.  I am.  100%.

In the meantime, hubby preaches when the need arises, directs the music program, leads worship on Sundays, teaches classes, counsels church members, mentors young people and oversees small group ministries within the church. He has a full plate, and loves it.  And I love being in ministry with him.

We're a good team.

Go to the Cornerstone Chapel website to watch Chris Holowaty's sermon video from 6-27-10.

Prepare to stretch.