Friday, December 30, 2016

The Whitehead Street Chicken Fiasco

Ray drew this reenactment of when he claims I threw my bike down when I saw chickens in Key West. In my defense, there were many chickens, probably four — but possibly up to 12 — closing in on me at the corner of Whitehead and Olivia Streets. I think one of them had a knife.
Things surprise you when you're traveling that surprise no one else. Like wild chickens.

The residents of Key West probably think nothing of these big chickens that wander around clucking and crowing all the time, but for us, coming upon wild roosters in the streets... whaaaaat?   

It wasn't until we were eating chips and salsa a few hours later that Ray told me I threw my bike down (I thought he had it), leaving him to try and catch it before it crushed our toes. He drew the picture to better capture our (supposed) expressions. 

Aside from congregations of them at our little villa hotel and on the street corner, the weirdest place I saw a rooster in Key West was at the gas station. Just standing in the middle of the gas pumps like, 'Yo, I heard they have great fro-yo here.'

Be glad there wasn't a Popeye's in that gas station, chicken. Like the one at Madison and Edwards.

Madison and Edwards Popeye's/gas station — no place for a wild chicken. 

I keep ending up in Florida for work conferences, so we took the opportunity to road trip down US1 from Miami to Key West earlier this month. It was 80 degrees, balmy and sunny pretty much the whole time. In a word, amazing.  (Joke's on us though. It was 17 degrees when we landed back at CVG.)

We toured the Hemingway Home and Museum.

Petted the six-toed cats there, including this nighttime escapee...


Watched the sunset from Mallory Square.

And visited the Southernmost Point.

(There is a Southernmost Point live webcam. Ha, who knew!)

I wasn't expecting the Southernmost Point to be anything but a photo opp for us, to say we'd been, but I was surprised at how strongly connected I felt there, to both the international visitors alongside us and to the people of Cuba. There is a granite marker just a few feet from me in this photo honoring the thousands of Cubans who have lost their lives at sea attempting the 90 mile trek from Cuba to this island. It makes you think.  

But mostly we spent our time riding around the island on rented bikes, traversing Key West in the dark looking at Christmas lights in 80 degree weather. (Christmas in warm, humid air is so foreign to me.)  

But also, wild chickens!


I'm certain this was one of the four-to-twelve culprits that was closing in on me when I threw my bike down.

Friday, December 23, 2016

It's Christmas in Cincinnati and Chili all the Time

Good news, my little snowflakes, Ray and I’s Christmas video is ready for primetime, just in the Jolly Old Saint Nick of time.

The star of this year’s holiday spectacular is our fair city — Fountain Square, Graeter’s, Skyline, the Roebling. Basically, all of the things we love set to Jake Speed and the Freddies’ perfect holiday ode to home, ‘Queen City Christmas.’

The only thing missing is someone asking you where you went to high school.*

Some of our friends, neighbors and an assortment of ice skaters knowingly (and unknowingly) make cameos this year. And as it turns out, driving a stick shift across the Roebling while holding a camera is no easy feat. But thankfully, I filmed most of it from the passenger seat of Ray’s car while he drove me around.

Santa’s merry magic is just two short days away. So here’s hoping your stockings are soon to be stuffed with Graeter’s gift cards, Union Terminal bookends and a sixer of Rhinegeist Truth. Because nothing says happy holidays like letting Aunt Betty know you’ll need that gift receipt. #truth #hurts

Merry Christmas and happy 2017!

*In truth, I’ve lived here for 15 years and I’ve never been asked where I went to high school. I feel a bit cheated.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Almost There

This year's holiday video required a lot more filming than usual, and I still have a few more shots to go. (Basically, I am a Christmas documentary filmmaker now, fyi.) But I'll have it done this weekend. Ho ho ho!

In the meantime, doesn't our tree look festive? And the Charlie Harper prints with the reading chair, what?!  

All we need is a $160 "antler inspired" sculpture to complete the look.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Yard Crashers: Back Yard Edition

When we saw our house for the first time it was late fall, so everything was dead.

You'd be surprised at how great things can look when everything is dormant. The slate is wiped clean and in the absence of overgrown bushes and trees, everything looks almost... nice

We walked around the back saying things like: 'It has a lot of of potential' and 'What are these weird concrete things everywhere?'

But we could easily envision a cute little back yard and surmise where our 'garden' would be. (Garden = our four tomato plants.)

BEFORE... Not that bad in the winter.

Look at that decorative concrete ball — very cemetery chic.

Imagine our surprise when come springtime, our dead little back yard with so much potential turned into an overgrown Jurassic Park, with those once-dormant bushes becoming so heavy that they tipped over and dragged the ground.

Spring time... yikes
Be afraid of the flora.

Ray and Cassius Clay visited a Superfund site. No wait, this was our backyard.

In addition to being overgrown and a general mess, it had a weird step-down from a railroad tie, some round concrete pillar things and pavers sunk into the ground in what appeared to be the shape of sandwich bread. (No doubt an offering to the deli gods for favor.)

At minimum, we would have needed a jackhammer to get the concrete balls out of the ground, and as much as Ray would have probably loved getting a jackhammer, we called a landscaping company. 

They came out and were like, 'Geezus! This is the smallest, crappiest back yard we've ever seen!' 

Okay, they didn't really say that. But they were probably thinking it.

Our direction to them was basically: 'We don't know anything about plants so, you know, put stuff in that's hard for us kill. Oh, and we'd like a small garden.' 

They took some measurements and came back with a schematic of what it all would look like. Sold!

Schematic of new and improved back lawn.

We failed to realize (or maybe we didn't, I can't remember now), that the work would be done the day we arrived home from our honeymoon in Hawaii. No big deal, except that our time zone was off and we slept through the entire thing as though we'd been drugged.

They removed part of a giant tree. Slept right through it. 
They jackhammered. Zzzzzzz.
There was heavy machinery — a bobcat, a chainsaw.  Yawn.

Once or twice we rolled over and thought we heard something happening, but then we fell right back to sleep. I took this one photo while sleep-walking I think.

About eight hours later, we woke up to this. 

Our terrible little ugly duckling had transformed into a beautiful swan. No more railroad tie step-down or weird concrete balls. Instead we had hydrangeas, a little Japanese maple, liriope and, my personal favorite, a weeping spruce.

The best part is that we were assured it would be difficult for us to kill any of it. 

And we even got a little garden plot, where we grow $200 tomatoes.

  Some before and after comparison shots.

You can really see the weeping spruce from this angle, if you aren't blinded by the vibrant colors of our beautiful wave petunias.
This is what everything looked like last summer overlooking the deck 

Is it too bountiful? Is the beauty of the wave petunias too distracting? Does the majesty of the Buddha and the whimsy of the weeping spruce remind you at once of the levity and depth of life? 

If so, I feel you

And the best part of the transformation (at least for us) is that now we just cut the grass and plant petunias and call it landscaping. Ta-DAH. (If you need us to do any landscaping for you because we are so super good at it, I can give you the number for our landscaping company.)

Up nextYard crashers: Front yard edition. (Our front yard was somehow even worse than the backyard, if you can believe that.)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How To Tie a Bowtie

Nailed it.
Dudes who wear bowties have a certain vibe. They seem cooler, funnier, and able to get away with things necktie wearers can't.

Hah, look at bowtie guy, doing the worm on the dance floor! So awesome!


Look at necktie bro, doing the worm on the dance floor. Yikes

Style and intrigue in a single knot. How hard could it be? 

How to Tie a Bowtie  

1. Watch YouTube videos.
2. Watch YouTube videos while also looking into a mirror.
3. Get everything backwards.
4. Get sweaty and irritated in the hot bedroom. Exclaim: "DID YOU TURN THE AIR CONDITIONING OFF?!" to your super cool, patient wife who is just trying to help you. 
5. Wither as you watch your wife crumple into laughter at your struggle.
6. Repeat steps 1-3 several more times.
7. Show your wife the finished product.
8. Hmm. Close enough.
9. Run pantless through the wedding reception. (Look at that hilarious guy in the bowtie!)