Sunday, June 28

still alice

This was a really great movie. In it Julianne Moore played a linguistics professor who develops early onset Alzheimer's. Not surprisingly, she won an Academy Award for her portrayal--it was that good. It'll have you Googling the symptoms of early onset Alzheimer's for sure (if not, you're a better hypochondriac than I). It had some other hefty cast members as well--Alec Baldwin played her husband and Kristen Stewart (who was surprisingly not annoying) played one of her daughters.

Brian doesn't normally go for depressing movies, but even he liked this one. The only complaint from both of us is that the ending was open-ended. I see this more and more in books and movies, but my preference is for some closure. I mean, you wrote the story, so finish it!

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, June 27

thunder in the valley?

More like rain in the valley. We did manage to squeeze in some activities between the raindrops, but it's not looking good for the rest of the weekend.

On Wednesday night, we went to Richland Bike Bash. This was our first time there. I thought it was surprisingly busy for a Wednesday night. We ran into some people we knew there and talked to them for a bit.

Thursday, we were supposed to take the afternoon off and go for a ride, but the forecast was calling for rain, so that got nixed. And, rain, it did, so we didn't get to do anything Thunder-related on Thursday evening, either.

Friday was a different story. The weather was good, so we took the afternoon off and went for a nice, long ride (2.5 hours). Our destination was Gravity Hill. It was not as exciting as I expected. We intended to make a big loop (56 to 30 to 711) but got caught in a rainstorm on the way home, so we ended up coming home via route 219 (where the skies were clear). That night, we met up with Judy and her niece (albeit 30 minutes late) at the Alex Meixner show at PNG Park. We caught a couple of minutes of Donnie Iris (said with a Pittsburgh accent) on the way out. Both he and his band sounded great!

Today, we planned on going to Nanty Glo's Pool 'n Pork for supper, but the forecast does not look good for that. If it does happen to stop raining at some point, we're going to run downtown for a bit.

Sunday, we don't typically do any Thunder stuff, and since it's calling for more rain tomorrow, that will likely be the case again this year.

Sunday, June 21

in absentia

I'm going to make up for my lack of posts in the past week by doing two in a row. It was a crazy kind of week at work and the house.

Jake was supposed to leave for Disney with my family on Tuesday, but his flight got canceled (after spending hours at the airport in Latrobe). It was rescheduled for the next evening. And then it got canceled again, but this time it was well in advance. Though they don't tell you, both cancellations were likely due to bad weather (not around here, but from the airplane's origin). This time, my brother rescheduled the flight out of Pittsburgh and they were able to leave Wednesday afternoon with no problems. They are coming home today and their flight is currently scheduled to leave on time. Let's hope it stays that way.

At work, everyone is diligently working to wrap up a big project that we landed last summer. It has a hard deadline of June 30, but we're hoping to finish everything this week. Not to mention, there are about another two dozen projects in the works, so things have been hectic for sure. I'm just trying to get caught up on my own stuff before we go on vacation. I don't like having a bunch of work hanging over my head while we're away. But, there's still some time before that happens.

We've gotten a lot of rain (to say the least) so I haven't had to spend a bunch of time watering the garden. Nor have I gotten to work out there much due to the weather. But, my garden is doing great so far. I got everything planted early, so it's further along than it normally would be.

the skeleton twins

This was a decent movie starring Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader. Who knew they could act?!? It was billed as a dramedy, so there were some comedic elements, but it was really more of a drama. The two played estranged (and depressed) twins trying to get their lives back on track. I could have done with a little more closure at the end, but otherwise thought it was ok.

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, June 13

low key

It's been a low key weekend. The guys went camping with Jake's scout troop so I have the place to myself. But that doesn't mean I'm slacking. While I'm taking some time to relax, there are still things that need to be done and I accomplished a decent amount of things so far this weekend (six loads of laundry; washed the car; did some Everyone Drinks stuff; general housecleaning).

But, so far, I've also watched a couple episodes of OITNB, knitted, read, and napped. Not sure if this qualifies as work or fun, but I canned strawberry preserves and made a dessert. I haven't really gotten to garden yet this weekend (and by garden, I mean weed), but the garden's looking pretty good for this early in the season. Interestingly, my tomatoes look better that past years' plants, but the tomatoes Brian planted in pots look phenomenal. Hopefully this means we'll have a bunch of tomatoes for canning later in the summer.

Monday, June 8

more activities

It was a fun but busy three day weekend. Saturday afternoon, Brian and I took a nice motorcycle ride. We're trying to get out every weekend, when our schedule and the weather permits. So far, we're doing pretty good. For supper, we grilled up some Whiskey Barrel Burgers on the charcoal grill. They were quite delicious. Brian spent most of the day in the shop. He's working on a picture frame for a monstrous (in both size and subject matter) print that he purchased recently. I did some gardening in the evening, as I am wont to do.

On Sunday afternoon, we had a graduation party to attend for a neighbor kid (what are these kids doing growing up?) at The Boulevard Grill. In the evening, I cleaned the insides of both vehicles (I would have rather been gardening) and Brian spent some more quality time in the shop.

Sunday, June 7

everywhere that mary went

This was another book from Lisa Scottoline--I have a pile of 'em. It was a pretty quick read and I was due for one of those. I specifically chose it because I knew I'd be getting the new Stephen King book soon, so I wanted to ensure I wasn't caught up in some book that was going to take a long time to read.

All of Lisa Scottoline's books (at least the ones I've read) feature lawyers as the main characters and this one was no different (they are marketed as "legal thrillers"). Her books are pretty engaging (unless you read a bunch of them in a row) and I typically enjoy them as I did this one. Evidently, this was her first book of fiction, which goes to show that I'm totally reading these books out of order.

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, June 6

day off

It was my birthday yesterday so I had the day off (sometimes it's good to be the policy-maker, but mostly it's not). I had the house to myself as Brian was at work and while it was Jake's last day of school, he spent his off time at his friend's house.

I feel like I got a lot out of the day. I had some fun (reading, knitting, napping) but also did some work around the house (not too much, though). As if the universe knew it was my birthday, I received the newest Stephen King book, Finders Keepers (courtesy of the Stephen King Library) in the mail. I'm looking forward to starting that one this weekend.

After everyone returned home, we went out for supper at Asiago's, which was great as always, opened presents, and then watched a movie later in the evening. All in all, a good day.

taken 3

Like the previous movie in the series, this one had a crappy editing, but it was surprisingly not bad for being the 3rd installment. It's definitely worth a watch if you're into this genre. The critics had nothing good to say about this movie, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, June 2

cutting the cord

So, I cancelled our cable last week. It's supposed to be disconnected today. I've been wanting to do this for years, but wasn't willing to give up The Walking Dead (not to mention HGTV and Food Network), but then I read about an amazing thing called Sling TV and once they added AMC to their channel lineup, I figured it was worth a shot. With the exception of the aforementioned channels, we really don't watch much television (most of our viewing is through Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video). I'm down to two network shows (The Middle and Modern Family) and don't plan on expanding my repertoire. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about those next season (Hulu Plus, maybe), but I'm sure we'll figure it out.

I received one of those over the air antennas for my birthday, so we get a couple of channels through it, most notably, WJAC. I was hoping to get Fox and ABC since they are out of Richland, but no luck with that. I guess the major disappointment is that we won't be able to watch any football games unless they are on ESPN, but we hardly watch football anymore, anyway. Plus, we can always listen to the Steeler games on the radio, which is what we typically do, anyway.

We'll see how this goes, but I think it will be a success. Our cable bill is going to drop about $75/month and Sling TV only costs $20/month, so that's quite a net savings for something we were barely using.

Monday, June 1

polkafest 2015

We went to the Polkafest both Saturday and Sunday to catch Alex Meixner (and some food). We were having such a good time on Saturday night that we didn't want to leave. Apparently Polkafest was the place to be on Saturday because we ran into a bunch of people we knew. Jake had other plans that evening, so it was just me and Brian, though we did drag him down there against his will on Sunday. I think next year, we'll just go the one time and stay longer. Bonus: Alex Meixner is playing at Thunder in the Valley later this month.