Thursday, August 31, 2006

Forty and Fabulous!

I lived to tell about turning 40. I had a wonderful time out at Bangrila. This is Bangrila for anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of being there.

My family - sisters, nieces, nephews and hubby made the day extra special. Not all my sisters were there for the actual birth date but those of us there had a lot of fun last Thursday August 24. Here are some photos from the birthday celebrations:

Here I am opening my gift from Trish, Cheryl, Nicole and Connor.

Greg knew I like my trash magazines - especially when out at the lake. My sibs and I like to read about the stars...

Here I am with my new Tag Heuer watch. My nephew was very impressed with the diamonds. I kept singing that diamonds are a girl's best friend!
Here is a close-up of my new bling!

We had a wonderful ice cream cake that Trish and Cheryl made! What a treat!!!!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Celebrations Begin!

My friend Jamie works with me. She did a VERY nice thing for me yesterday.

She surprised me with "Queen For a Day" (or a week as I say!) which is to kick off my 40th birthday celebrations! She gave me this huge bouquet of flowers. Then when I was coming back from a tech team meeting to my home away from home(cubicle) there were all my co-workers around my cube waiting to wish me happy 39th(I think I'll be 39 for the next 20 years as Jamie has assured me that 60 is the new 40 so I have 20 years of being exactly 39)!

She had these really huge and wonderful cupcakes and glasses of kiddie champagne. Ok, Martinelli's Sparkling Cider (we are gov't employees and there is no alchohol involved!). It was a very nice start to my week of being queen!

Jamie told me that her bouquet would be a high bar for Greg to meet. His side of the story is that he doesn't need to get me flowers since this bouquet is incredibly fantastic! He knows better than that, I hope!

I'm heading down to "Bangrila" (not Shangrila - but the Bang version) this morning. I need to get my boo-tay in gear. I'm caravaning it with sis Trish and her two kids, Connor and Nicole, and another sister Cheryl. I'm driving a separate car with Chase and Beanie and all the projects I'm going to work on this weekend!

Knitting projects I'm taking: Zebra socks (almost done), my Alice Starmore Inishmore and Elizabeth Zimmermann's Aran Coat. I also want to take some sock yarn for Cheryl's birthday gift. I don't think it will be a surprise gift because I need to measure her feet. She's got these really cute feet that don't fit in the normal foot measurements. I want her to love her socks which means they'll have to fit perfectly!

I gotta run.

Thanks so much Jamie for making me feel so special. You're a keeper. Also...sorry you have to be at work! I'll be sending you peaceful, productive thoughts!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tribe Bang

I've feverishly been trying to complete the zebra socks for my friend and sister-in-law Renee'. She was Africa trip planner and organizer! This trip was absolutely fab because of her. She did tons of research, emails, phone calls and just plain hard work to make this trip happen.

Thank you Renee'! You deserve so much more than socks but that is one original way I can thank you. Who else will knit you zebra socks!

Here is a photo of her and her husband Mike. My husband, Greg, and Mike are brothers.

Here is a photo of the Tribe Bang Males that were on the trip. From Left: Mike, Ron(Mike and Greg's Dad) and Greg.

Here are the Bang women - Renee', Evie (Greg and Mike's Mom, Me)

I'll see if I can post one more photo which includes Rachel and Megan - Mike and Renee's daughters.

Gotta run! Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

For Terry - Feet in the Indian Ocean

I've been meaning to post this photo for my friend Terry in Florida. She and her husband Wes have this tradition of photographing their feet when they travel to various exotic locations. No, I don't think there is a foot fetish involved! So when we were at Sodwana Bay in South Africa which is on the Indian Ocean - I had to get a photo of our feet in the Indian Ocean.

Greg has been working on his photos and boy....they are fabulous. I am anxiously awaiting for him to show them to me. It is like an unveiling of art! I come into his office and he is working on them but that is the only glimpse I get of them. Yes, I am close to the artist but he won't even unveil them to me until the time is just right! You'd think I would get preferential treatment but sadly that is not the case!!!!

I've been wanting to knit a lot but haven't had the energy after work. I would get home and by 7:30 I was ready to go to bed. I still have not gotten back to this time zone. I was fully awake at 4am. I went in the other bedroom and read-I get riled up looking at knitting books. Once that happens I cannot sleep. I could look at knititng books/magazines and catologs over and over.

Once Greg got up we headed over to Starbucks for our morning jolt. Now we are home, perusing the internet (me, my blog and Greg looking at new flat screen TV's). I didn't tell him that it is my birthday this coming week, not his! :0) He says "I'm just looking". I know what looking leads to!

I'll go out and look for one more Africa photo to post. I still can't believe I was there. It was one of the most memorable two weeks of my life. I still get tongue tied when people ask about the trip. It is hard for me to encompass my experience in a few sentences. Maybe in the future I'll be able to verbalize it better.

This picture was taken on one of the first nights in Africa and we were heading back to the lodge. I feel like it captures the grace of the giraffe even though this is a still photo. Enjoy.

My nephew Matt is coming into town tonight. I have not seen Matt for something like 5 years...when he graduated from high school. He has since graduated from Tulane University and is now in law school. I can't wait to see him. It has been way too long since I have seen him. Greg has never had the opportunity to meet him! We are having a family dinner tomorrow night at Jenn's house (his sister). I sure wish his parents, Val and Gerry, would be there too. We miss you guys! Move back to Seattle please!

Off to do some knitting(what a luxury!)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back to the Grind!

Well the week has been very busy at work. Things were pretty stable while I was gone and my first day back (Monday) - lo and behold....a production problem! The users could not post any transactions in AR(Accounts Receivable). Yes, that is a problem that needs to get resolved ASAP!

I traced the issue down and found the bad code. There was a documented software patch for this issue. I applied the code, had my associate test it and then it was moved to the production database. On to the next emergency issue. This week has been full of them but it makes work exciting and fun to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

I also have not done much knitting but tonight I started back up and worked about an inch of sock#2 of the zebra socks. I want to get those done this week so I can work on some other UFO's!

Today I purchased an out-of-print Alice Starmore book titled "Stillwater". I clearly recall when this book came out and pondered buying it but it was expensive and I figured..."I can always get this later". How was I to know that knitting would catch on like wildfire and that a very strong demand on e-Bay would drive the prices to outrageous limits. Well almost a decade later I had to pay a very pretty penny for this book. I'm excited about it. It is my gift to myself for my 40th birthday.

I better get off the computer and get into bed. I'm finally beginning to catch up on the jet lag - each night there is less lag, thank goodness. I don't like feeling tired all the time!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

More Safari Pictures to Share

I'll try posting a few photos again. It is nice to have time to do some photo organization before I head home. Once I get home it is back to work early Monday morning and back to the grind! I won't have much time until the following weekend to get back to my photos so the more I can get done before I arrive home the better.

Renee' has organized a scrapbooking weekend at Bangrila near the end of September and I'll need to have everything organized and printed. It always takes WAY more time than I think it will.

Here are some leopard photos - this is a young male eating an impala. They call Impala here in Africa - McDonald of the Bush(in an accent of course). The rear end of impala have a black M on them. They are prey to many animals in the busy. So funny.

The mama leopard is the one that killed this prey and she is so strong she can bring it up high in the tree. She is lounging on another branch just taking it easy.

This is a different leopard on a different day. He too is a male. Very pretty animal. He came very close to our tracker in the jeep - sort of scary but he just want on his merry way, thank goodness.
Here is a photo of the beautiful impala. Notice the 'M' on the their bottom?

Also a small note. I have to export these as very small file sizes so when you double click on them the quality won't be that great. Otherwise I will never get them uploaded to the blog.....and when you click on my entry they will never load(or take forever!).

Well gotta run. Hope you enjoyed some of the photos - they are not my favorites, just ones I could get to quickly!

It is now 2:30 and I'm going to go back to photo organization. I'll be on the ground in Seattle in approximately 33 hours!

Heading Home

Well we are Jo-burg waiting for 9pm when we will leave for the airport. It is currently 1:21 pm.

It was nice being away from TV's and world news for the past week. We were shocked when we turned on BBC news last night regarding the terrorist arrests in the UK. It is a harsh way to come back to "civilization". I was happy being out in the bush!

I'm also in a location that has wireless access so I can post some photos. I'll just post a couple.

I actually got some knitting done and here is the first completed sock - the Zebra socks for Renee' to thank her for all her organization of this trip!

Here is one of my favorite photos of the zebra. We were at a watering hole at Zulu Nyala and all these zebra came to the watering hole to drink. They drank and then quickly went away. It was so cool to see them come in - I have some photos of them running in - dust clouds created in their wake. It was very cool.

I have over 2000 photos to really sort through. I've categorized them by keyword, like "elephant", "cheetah", etc. But then once categorized I still need to sort through them to decide which ones are my favorites. This does not even include the thousands Greg took with his super, duper zoom. He can see such amazing details of the animals.

Here is a very fat and happy cheetah. As you can see from the very enlarged tummy - he just have a big meal.

I tried loading a couple of leopard photos and it won't go. I'll do another posting with more photos after i publish this one!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Leopards, Cheetah and Lions!

I have not written in quite some time. No internet access to speak of. I am at our second to the last stop - Nkorho Bush Lodge in the Sabi Sands area next to Kruger National Park. Their internet speed is extremely slow so posting this entry will take some time.

We have been having an incredible time here. Just this morning we saw Cheetah, Leopard and Lion. Incredible. It is just amazing seeing these creatures in their natural environment. I can't even begin to explain seeing an Impala - completely eaten - seeing the remains in a tree - see the horns, skull and part of a leg - all meat eaten, nothing wasted.

The place here is beautiful. We want to come back here and just stay in this spot for two weeks next time. The pace is lovely - right now it is almost noon. We eat lunch at 2 and head out for the evening game drive at 4. We return around 7pm with dinner following at 8pm. The part that is getting me ready to go back to work is there is a 5:30 am wake up call for our 6am game drive in the morning.

I wish everyone could experience this. It is just amazing. I know I have already written it but there is just so much to write about....hard to explain.

This morning at breakfast we look out to a watering hole and a vast savannah and we see wildebeast and baboon, along with impala just grazing out our view. A couple days ago a herd of elephant came by to cool off at the watering hole - a treat to see a huge elephant lying down in the water to cool off.

We leave here tomorrow for Jo-burg(Johannesburg) with a day and a half stay there and then we'll head back home. Of course I"m looking forward to seeing Chase and Beanie. That is the one good thing about thinking about coming back home.

So we head out Saturday evening joburg time 11:30 pm with an 11 hour flight to Amsterdam and then a two hour layover there. Then a 10.5 hour flight from Amsterdam flight to Seattle. We get back to Seattle Sunday at 2pm. Hopefully I can head over to my sister Trish's house soon after I get home to retrieve my two guys. I get like this at the end of a trip - I just can't wait to feel Chase and Beanie in my arms. Sappy...but that is me. I love those guys so much and miss them terribly.

Terry Heese (I put in Terry H but my brother in law is Terry H too!) I took photos of me and Greg's feet in the Indian Ocean! I thought of you and Wes and your foot photos wherever you go.

Our two night stay in Sodwana Bay was very memorable. It was incredibly cold there and the guys only did 3 dives there. Supposedly the place we stayed was one of the nicer places in the area and it was like camp! When I had read before going there that the cabins we were staying in had "open air showers" I didn't realize they were OUTSIDE! BRRRRRR. It was VERY rustic and no heat. The cabins had mesh on the upper part (not even completely enclosed) so it was very, very cold at night. No, I won't be doing that one again! I was glad to move on from that place! In the summer it would be fine but given it is Africa winter right now....I was always cold there.

I did get to drive from Zulu Nyala to Sodwana Bay. About an hour and a half drive. You know they drive on the left side of the road here. It wasn't so bad and I took to it very quickly! That was fun!

We have taken a S%*load of photos. I think I've taken around 1500-1800 and Greg at least that much, probably more. The photo ops are endless. Its a photographers dream. I don't know how I"ll pare them down to about 100 for a scrapbook. Lordy.

I better go because it is going to take forever to actually publish this entry.

I miss everyone and I look forward to seeing everyone again. I also can't wait to sleep in my own bed!

See you all very soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thunder, Lightening and MUD

The weather has made a turn for the worse. Last night was the biggest storm I have ever heard. There was lightening, LOUD thunder and lots of rain.

We went out on our "game drive" this morning and it was Muddy! Boy was it muddy. We tossed and turned in our vehicle - mud flying up and hitting us (cover the camera's, quick!). We got stuck a couple of times! We even had to get out of our vehicle so John our guide could get the jeep out of the mud. We didn't see all that much but as we were heading back to the lodge we....well our car stalled out! We were a ways from the lodge and we had just come upon some Rhino's! Uh Oh! John wanted us to get out of the jeep so he could try and pump, jump start the jeep. So here we are getting out of the jeep with Rhino's nearby. Try and try as he might, John could not get the jeep started. So we start walking back to the lodge...he is walking in front of us monitoring the environment making sure we are safe. At one point he stops and he goes into the bush and yells, throws rocks and there go the Rhino's across the road and away from us!!!!

John does have a cell phone so eventually another vehicle will rescue us but in the meantime an ice deliver truck comes upon us and takes Evie and Ron with him. It was a fun little adventure in the bush! Everyday is new adventure here!

Tomorrow morning (Thursday) Greg and Mike head to Sodwana bay. The rest of Tribe Bang will go on Friday morning. Renee' looked up the forecast for Sodwana Bay in the next couple days. I was mortified at what she told me. Yes, this is for farenheit temperatures. Low of 29, high of 59!!!!!! I came hoping for warm weather. I don't know if the guys will dive with those kinds of temperatures! I did not bring the right clothes for sure. We've had a couple of nice, warm days but it has mostly been fairly chilly.

Tomorrow I'll do a "game drive" in the morning and afternoon as usual and then get ready to try driving a big Mercedes 10 seater van to Sodwana Bay...on the left side of the road! I am the only one to drive a manual vehicle besides Mike and he'll be heading out a day before the rest of Tribe Bang! That will be an adventure, I'm sure. I just hope I don't hear a lot of "when are we going to get there" from the peanut gallery. It may set me over the edge!

Hope all my family and friends are doing well. Its hard to believe I am halfway around the world!

I've been having funky dreams being on this anti-malaria medication. Two nights ago I had a dream that one foot had two extra toes growing and the other foot had three extra toes growing and they were growing due to the medication! In the dream I realize they will need to be surgically removed but I thought "I'll have to have surgery to remove these but that means I'll have to be out of work at least a month to recover. I guess that is not so bad!". That is a sad commentary of how I feel about my job right now! (forgive me if I already told that story in my last posting. I don't have a lot of time on the computer so if I repeat myself...too bad!). Then last night I dreamt I was at some resort (probably like a place like here) and I was in the cafeteria having coffee with Renee'. I asked for creme for my coffee. They said to go up to the front and as for the creme. The lady up there said they were making it. I said "you are making it?" She said they make the creme out of unedible chicken parts! They were grinding chicken parts and bones up and pouring/sieving water over it and that was the creme. The only thing I could think of was that now that I'm vegetarian again that it was a fear dream. The weird thing is they have SO many vegetarian options here. I am in heaven. Their vegetable dishes are wonderful!

Well I best be off. I had time to knit this afternoon and make good headway on Renee's zebra socks. I better get off to bed. Morning always comes too early!

Vacation is a lot of work!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Charging Elephants!

Yesterday we saw so many great things. I'm keeping my photos catalogued by date so I can remember everthing we saw.

Today there was a "mix-up" at our place regarding the number of guests/vehicles. So we are not going on an outing this afternoon which quite frankly, is fine with us. We had to get up at 5am this morning to go to another reserve. It was well worth the lack of sleep to see what we saw there today. We saw a whole mess of elephants. It was like a traffic jam on the road - the big (I'm talking HUGE) male with HUGE tusks came charging at the cars. Cars and jeeps were backing up, trying to calm him down. We were a bit down the road but we could see what was going on and then this littler "naughty" younger male hissed and attempted to charge at us. It was so very interesting as the herd tried to cross the road how the large male would stand in the middle of the road until his littlest baby crossed the road. What protectiveness. We've seen real elephant behaviour and it is amazing. As we were leaving the reserve we saw a herd of at least 20 elephants moving in the same direction as our car. Going to a zoo is great but seeing it in real life is something I wish everyone could witness first hand.

We are really tired. I think having this afternoon off (its almost 4:30 now already) is good for us to rest. This vacation is a lot of work!

Oh...a funny story sort of related to work. I had these funky dreams last night. The malaria meds are making me feel a bit nauseated. So I had this dream that I was out with my sisters Cheryl and Karen and I looked down at my feet and one foot had two extra toes and the other had three extra. They were coming out just underneath the real ones and they were just starting to grow. I thought in the dream "the medication must be causing this". I wasn't really all that concerned. I was thinking "I'll need to have surgery to remove these extra toes. I guess its not so bad because I'll have to be out of work at least a month!". I was actually somewhat relieved that I could be away from work for a month. That is a really bad sign about work, isn't it?

We are all getting along fine. Our safari group of 10 includes a Father/daughter from Massachusetts. They are very nice and get along with all of us perfectly.

I've been staying vegetarian and believe it or not I think I'm losing weight. There are no snacks here and we only eat meals at set times. I'm able to buckle my belt one notch over. Weird!

I can't believe we only have two more days here before we move on to Sodwana Bay. Our time there will be a little more that will be good before heading to Kruger National Park. Our time at Kruger will be more like here - lots to see and the hopes of really being able to see the big cats.

I'm off for now. I'm actually going to have time to knit! I'm knitting Renee' a pair of zebra socks for all of her organization of the trip. I'll post a picture of the finished product later. The first sock is only about 35% done.

I'm getting GREAT photos. This is one awesome vacation!

I miss everyone!