Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Look Away From the Grey. Tulips!

After work today, I had to run over to the library to return some books and pick up one on hold. I live about a mile and a half from the library, and you can imagine it being a pleasant walk on this spring afternoon, admiring the flowers springing up.

And imagining is what it would be, since it was 45 and raining out. I drove. I did still notice and appreciate some flowers and flowering trees, but it wasn't the same. They say the weather will be a bit warmer next week, 60 at least, but I don't know. Much like last winter, when I reached a point where I couldn't believe it would end, I can't see my way out of this chilly grey funk. In theory, yes, but not really.

I'm really glad that I've had the tulips this week, as their pretty colors cheer me up momentarily, at least. Let me close with some of the many pictures of them I have taken. Wait, first Carlos, so he doesn't get lost in the flowers. I had to catch a shot of him, napping with his chin on his back paw the other day.
He wasn't thrilled to be disturbed.
But he quickly recovered.
And then the tulips. You can see why they're cheering me up this week, right?


























Tuesday, May 03, 2016

About The Gym; No, The Other Gym

Maybe a month ago I was at the gym for my swim class*, and hanging out stretching in the pool with the others as usual, waiting for the class to start, when someone mentioned that she'd been talking to the manager, and he said that they were going to be cancelling some classes, and he hoped ours wouldn't be one of them. Yikes! As I said at the time, the class is what I joined for; I want more than one a week, not none (I find laps much harder to motivate myself through, whereas the class requires motivation once, just to leave the house and go).
*Which is what I tend to call it, but it isn't learning to swim, it's water aerobics.

Someone else mentioned, in the course of that conversation, that there was another gym that had multiple classes per week, which I hadn't even known was in this area, but it turns out it is; I looked it up when I got home, and indeed they do have multiple classes (bonus: their website was also much easier to navigate than Gym #1's). I decided to visit it and see if I wanted to switch. I finally went last Thursday, and what do you know: for a lower monthly cost (considerably lower), I can choose between three classes without impacting my work schedule, as well as three more that are during the day on weekdays. Six classes a week! Good heavens.

In terms of miles, it's about the same distance from home as Gym #1, and the drive is slightly easier in terms of traffic--so far, anyway, but Gym #1 is in a very busy area at the confluence of multiple busy roads, the kind of thing where you'd better know which lane you need to be in before you get there, which kind of stressed me out at rush hour. Meanwhile, Gym #2 is in a strip mall, and while it is on a busy road, it's in an area where I know the back roads. When my friend had her twins, all those years ago*, and I would go over sometimes (as often as she would let me, basically) and "help out" with the babies, well, they lived near there then.
*Oh, mercy, the boys will be nine in August. How can that be?

Gym #2 doesn't provide towels, but I was bringing my own anyway, and they don't provide shampoo, which I can also easily bring on my own. I went to the class Saturday morning (not something I plan to do regularly, but just to see how it went), and it seems just fine.

Mind you, one thing I didn't see that they had was the spinner machine that gets the excess water out of your swimsuit, which is something I found helpful in terms of how long it takes to dry ... but that is not a deal-breaker. If need be, I can buy a second suit, so that I don't have to worry about it being dry for Thursday night.

Interestingly, I was expecting some level of hard sell about leaving Gym #1, but it seems they couldn't care less. To wit:

  • I called them when I got home Thursday night to ask if I could cancel over the phone, and the kid told me that I would have to speak to a manager about that, but he could take my info and ask someone to call me back. 
  • Friday afternoon, when I hadn't heard, I called again and asked for a manager; the guy asked what it was about, and then he put me on hold for a minute before coming back to say that the manager must be on another line, because it went to voice mail. So he took my information, looking me up to confirm he had it right, and said he would give it to the manager. 
  • Fifteen minutes later, I got an email with an "invoice" (no charge) about my cancellation request. 
  • And Sunday, when I would normally have been charged the monthly fee, I was charged less, which I assume is the cancellation fee. 
  • Just for the hell of it, I called today, to confirm that the account was showing up cancelled, and the woman I spoke with said it was.

And at no point did anyone ask me why. Which, fine, I wasn't going to change my mind anyway, but why wouldn't they want to know? It's a hell of a way to run a railroad.

Meanwhile, I will emulate Dory.
In a different place, but still swimming.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A Tulip Tale

Although the weather today wasn't great, I could tell it was going to be a good day when I pulled up at my friend's place and saw my first lilac in bloom.
I love lilacs, in case you forgot. These smelled wonderful, of course. A good omen.

But today was not about lilacs, it was about tulips. One of my friends shared something on Facebook last week about a pick-your-own tulip farm in Rhode Island, so I shared it too, and another friend sent me a message that she and her husband had gotten tickets for Sunday, if I wanted to join them. I did want to, and I got a ticket before they sold out (on weekdays you can go and get a ticket there, but to control the crowd on weekends, you have to pre-purchase; it's only $5).

In addition to the picking fields, they have a show garden so you can get an idea of some varieties and their names (key for those who want to buy specific bulbs). So I learn that these magnificent creatures, which look like they are formed of crinkled tissue paper:
Are called Monarch Parrots. Now you know!
Mostly I didn't worry about the names, but just wandered around taking pictures.
I asked someone how many varieties they plant, and he said about 70, but some bloom earlier and are done now, while others bloom later and haven't really started yet. Which is nice, as the farm is open for a few weeks, so I guess everyone gets a chance at some.
I took rows-of-color shots:


And more broad views:


And lots of close-ups!











The variety was incredible. These were all in the show garden, but soon we made our way to the picking fields, which are more mixed.
Some of the ones in the picking area were pretty fully blown, so though they were beautiful, I didn't pick them, except in the sense of choosing to take their picture.

The ones I picked aren't so far along. I managed to limit myself to ten. Here are a few of them:
They're going to brighten it up around here this week, for sure!

Once we were picked to our limit, we went to a local restaurant for lunch, Luigi's. The chicken parm was delicious and I have enough leftovers for two meals: seriously, the take-out container weighs over a pound and a half, and styrofoam doesn't weigh that much!

I had the scale* out to weigh what I got for dessert, a slice of cappuccino cheesecake.
*My yarn scale is technically a kitchen scale, after all...
Just ridiculous! More than three-quarters of a pound! For five dollars. And it's delicious. Two thumbs up. A very good day, which will hopefully carry me through into the week on a high.