It’s Voting Time!

So, we voted by mail already, and I’m going to Las Vegas to help out the Obama campaign on election day.  And, yes, that’s where they assigned me.  There will be no poker table canvassing/harassing for me (well maybe just a little). 🙂

If you don’t know where your voting, check out maps.google.com/vote.  The always clever folks at google have created this simple little tool that lets you plug in your address and see where you vote.  Usually, the process of finding my polling place online takes me at least a good 30 minutes, so I hope this nifty tool will help you save some time.

And finally, I can’t believe that anyone in this country could still be undecided after almost two years of campaigning, but if you are, feel free to send me an email or give me a call and I’ll lay my Obama spiel on you.

Shawnee

A few more clues that our new dog is quirky

1. Last night she rode home from the dog park sitting backwards in the back seat. It wasn’t like she was just facing that way though, she was really into staring at the seat. We would categorize this as one of her stoner moments.

2. I think she has restless leg syndrome. Right now she’s sleeping on the floor next to me and it looks like she’s swimming for her life.

3. I bought her a cute handmade name tag from etsy.com and she ate it right off her neck, like it was one of those little candy necklaces.

4. This last one is most certainly too much information, but oh well. Our bathroom door doesn’t really shut all the way, which wouldn’t be a big deal, except that means we can’t keep Sophie out when we need privacy. When she comes into the bathroom, she has no interest in drinking from the clean water in the toilet bowl. The dirtied water, however, proves to be irresistible. She gets so excited, I can’t hold her back long enough to pull my pants up and flush! Disgusting, Sophie.

What a weird dog.

Peace, Love, and Ice Cream

Shawnee says: Vermont is my new second favorite place. Northern New Mexico will always occupy the top spot, but this weekend we discovered Burlington, a hippy-tastic, nature-rific, foodie-friendly paradise. I loved the woolen caps, the many dread locked heads, the small businesses and organic farms, the rolling hills, the beautifully dilapidated barns, the old-timey covered bridges, the hike we took through the woods, and the ice cream. I also loved playing softball on a field surrounded by bright yellow, red, and orange trees, spending time with our friends, stumbling upon the tiny little restaurant that makes my favorite kind of frozen pizza, and how the whole place was covered in a magical mist. The whole trip was heavenly. Sometimes it feels like our country is moving towards total homogeny. With all the strip centers, chain stores, and cookie-cutter homes it often feels like every place could be any place, but Vermont is so gloriously unique in ideology (it’s only US representative used to be a socialist) and in it’s glorious landscape. I loved it’s authenticity and it’s character. The place was so special that I felt giddy all weekend.

Mike’s run down: After sleeping on the floor of JFK airport (we took a red-eye from SD to NYC), we arrived in Burlington on Friday morning. We met up with our friends Justin and Kelly, who were staying at a hotel in Burlington. The four of us went to a restaurant on Lake Champlain, which had great NE clam chowder. Shawnee said that it was better than the chowder she had in San Diego, which I didn’t take to be a great compliment. This was just after I drove like a complete moron, hopping over a curb on a right turn and generally driving in a way that did not inspire confidence.

Then we walked through downtown Burlington in a pedestrian area that Kelly described as “just like the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.” It did look like that, but the people in shorts with thick beards in 50 degree weather were definitely not LA.

We went to the Magic Hat Brewery, which makes beers like Magic Hat #9 that we’ve liked for a long time. We gave ourselves a self-guided tour of the brewery, which featured insightful comments from me like “see those drawers, that’s where the oompa lumpas sleep.” But the highlight was the tasting bar, which had free samples of 9 of their beers. Shawnee’s choice on which beer to try: “All of them.” One beer was called Chaotic. To our surprise, it tasted like whiskey and was 14% alcohol. Then we realized that we could buy jugs of beer to take to our inn for the weekend. We bought 3 of them and were on our way.

We stayed at an Inn in Waitsfield, VT called the Tucker Hill Inn. This uptight British couple owned/ran the place and appeared to not enjoy running a bed and breakfast. This was a problem considering the fact that they were the only employees of a bed and breakfast that operates 365 days a year. They charged our friend for an extra night just for checking out late. We had a great room that we shared with our friend Brian (two separate bedrooms and a living room). Our room was the party room where all our friends met up. I made sure that the room smelled like beer that night, as I spilled a beer in the exact same spot twice. This was a problem because you weren’t supposed to bring your own booze into the hotel. It was like we were back in high school, smuggling beers into the room in our suitcase.

On Saturday, the groom’s brother set up a softball game. We played in a field surrounded by vermont foliage and then ate hamburgers. It was great. Shawnee was the only woman that played and she played well, getting several hits and playing a mean second base. She was so happy that when she would run the bases you could hear her saying, “I love games” and “This is AMAZING!”

The wedding was in a round barn in rural vermont. It rained the whole night, which made the atmosphere even more quaint. They had a quaker wedding, where they was an introduction by the officiant and then silence. The silence was broken when someone in the audience stood up to speak. About 12 people spoke and it was wonderful to hear what everyone had to say. Andy, the groom, wrote the program and it was so wonderfully written that I almost cried reading it. Andy is a director at Second City and his friend does a lot of music for them. His present to Andy was a Middle School Choir that performed at the wedding. The Choir sang two times: the first time was a song telling everyone to go upstairs for dinner (with a not-so-subtle plug for Obama) and the second time was a very touching song about the bride and groom. When the choir came out, Shawnee turned to me and said “I’m so glad that I’m not in Junior High anymore.” I looked at the kids and started laughing. They all had frizzy hair, braces, and generally looked really awkward.

Then we had a great meal, drinks and dancing upstairs. There was tons of vermont cheese and homemade pumpkin pie. It was phenominal. Then we went to a bar that looked like your crazy uncle’s living room. Finished the night at the party room in the Inn.

On Sunday, we went to a brunch back at the round barn. Great OJ and bloody mary’s. Then we went to the Ben and Jerry’s factory. Again, Shawnee was so giddy that when the tour guide asked the generic “are you guys excited to be here” question, everyone kind of groaned “yes.” Shawnee’s response, “I LOVE ICE CREAM!” By this point, we were stuffed from brunch, so we didn’t have much ice cream though.

There was a Ben and Jerry’s video that covered the history of the company. Strangely, B&J weren’t in it. They just showed this one picture of the two of them. It’s pretty clear that when they sold the company in 2000, they got the hell out of there. And that the purchasing agreement only gave the company the right to use a single picture.

After the tour, we said goodbye to our friends, which was not fun. Then we went for a hike in the VT hills. It was so much better than we expected. There were several streams and the leaves were piled on the path. The path was also very rough, so you really felt like you were out in nature.

In Burlington, we went back into town and ate at the American Flatbread pizza restaurant. Everything is local and organic and you could really tell. Even the pepperoni was flavorful. They were excited to hear that we bought their frozen pizzas at Whole Foods back in Chicago. Then we chilled out at a coffee shop and read the paper for a few hours.

Before we went, we were a little skeptical about Vermont and flying all the way across the country for a weekend. But we had a great weekend and really enjoyed the Vermont area. It was a lot prettier than we expected.

The Newest member of our family

Here are some pictures of Sophie. We got her from the SPCA in San Diego. Mike and I “had an interaction” with her about two weeks ago, but we decided since we were traveling quite a bit this month that we’d wait a while to get a dog even though we thought she was great. Then my Mom came for my Birthday. She and I went to the SPCA just for fun. When I saw that Sophie was still there, my heart just broke. Mike was very sweet about it, and the next day Mom and I had Sophie at home. Getting a puppy for my Birthday made me feel like a little kid.

She is 7 months old. She’s a good mix of energy and snugglability, but she is very quirky. She likes to sit in chairs, and sometimes she looks stoned. Her eyes get red and she stares off into space. It’s very funny. Most of the time she is very laid back, but every once in a while she’ll just freak out. I walked her out to the car five times with out a leash and she was under control nad calm, but then on the sixth time, she took off down the alley. Strange. Anyway, I’m not normal, so why would I want a normal dog, right? She is adorable and she feels like home to us.

I think she’s pretty happy too. All together she was at the SPCA for about four weeks. My mom and I took her to the dog beach the second day we had her, and she just took off running faster than any other dog out there. Just thinking about this bundle of energy being cooped up in a tiny little room for a month made my heart hurt. I’m so glad she’s with us. I keep telling her that she may have had to wait longer than the other dogs to find her family, but that we were worth the wait. She’s already spoiled and loved so much.

When we were at the kennel, Sophie liked Mike better than me, but when we got home she attached herself to me and started growling evrytime Mike got near her. I’ve been gone all weekend though, and I think the two of them are bonding pretty well.

Sophie getting her Mom in trouble with Mike 🙂

My two favorite ladies!

You can see more pics of our cutie at snapfish.

A bold move

I hate paying a ton of money for a gym membership, and I miss going to the zoo in Chicago more than you can imagine. We lived so close, and I went several times a week. sniff, sniff.

But, the good news is the zoo here has some pretty big hills and lots of ground to cover, so I think I’ll skip the gym and join the zoo! That’s right folks, I just paid $119 for a zoo membership so that I can get some exercise and hang out with the animals. Plus, I can always bring a friend for free, so if you’re coming to visit us, pack your tinnies! My cousin Brett had a great idea. She said that I in addition to just walking the park, I should set up a training course and carry small weights. I should do squats at the polar bears, lunges at the monkeys, bicep curls at the penguins. I think I’ll start with walking first. Hopefully I can miss the crowds by walking the morning. It should be fun, and another reason for all our friends with kids to come visit (ie, Rebecca and Wade)!