Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our North Country Honeymoon, Part I: Saratoga Springs,

This post is long overdue, I know, but this blogging business is time-consuming. I feel obligated to be witty or engaging, but, hey, sometimes I just don't feel like it, especially when I'm having one of those days where work just sucks the life out of me.
Where to begin? We left Florida back in late May under drizzling rainy skies, driving to Tampa, a 2-hour drive. to catch an early morning flight to our honeymoon destination: New York's Adirondack Mountains. We flew into Albany, and rented a car for the drive north. I learned from a fellow native New Yorker at work recently that referring to this part of NY as "Upstate" is, actually, incorrect. Upstate New York is the far northwestern region of the state, around Buffalo. Where we honeymooned is correctly referred to as "the North Country." I stand corrected. Judging from the number of "Snowmobile Crossing" signs we saw there, I can understand why.

We arrived in Albany at around midday, and had just a 2-hour drive ahead of us to reach our honeymoon locale, so we decided to take a detour off the Interstate and explore Saratoga Springs, NY. We ate lunch at a local diner, then wandered around the downtown area, where we explored a very European-looking public park

with a very old carousel,

the kind that has hand-carved wooden horses.

Saratoga Springs is a very picturesque town. We visited the local history museum,

which featured displays of photos, period furnishings,

and even dresses worn by some of the wealthy ladies who were among Saratoga Springs' seasonal residents during its heyday.
One of the beautiful vintage dresses that featured incredibly elaborate and detailed hand-beading:

and a closeup of the bead work on the dress bodice, with genuine turquoise beads:

Saratoga Springs is a geologic wonder, situated over numerous mineral water springs many of which are naturally carbonated. We sampled water from the various springs that are all over town and open to the public.
One such spring, Hathorn Spring:

We did as advised by a local, and each drank only a very tiny plastic cupful of the metallic-salty water from the spigot. It was not completely awful, but I feared some sort of laxative/purgative effect, as alluded to by said local. I had in mind visions of the colonoscopy preps that my patients must endure, at my behest (for their benefit, of course). Luckily, there was no such outcome, probably due to taking such a minuscule dose.

We spent our Honeymoon in beautiful North River, NY at rustic Garnet Hill Lodge. On the way to North River, we stopped along a scenic overlook beside one of the many lakes in the region for this photo of my beloved and me:

The lodge, being between "seasons" ("ski season" and "summer") was completely empty, except for us. Yes, we had the ENTIRE lodge to ourselves, at least for the first 2 days or so. We even (at least I did) peaked into each any every one of the unoccupied guest rooms to compare our accommodations. Nah...ours was best. After a few days, some weekend guests arrived (losers!). In the meantime, we OWNED the pool table...oh, yeah!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our Wedding!

Andrew and I were married on a beautiful, hot, humid, rainy (at times) Florida day on Saturday, May 16th, with our families and friends all around. The past week or so post-nuptial period had been just wonderful for so many reasons. We left on our honeymoon last Tuesday for a very relaxing and unforgettable 5-day trip to the Adirondacks in Upstate New York. More on that in a later post.

Wedding pre-celebrations began on Friday the 15th. My Uncle Tommy and Aunt Mary (Mom's brother and his wife, from the Boston area), and Andrew's Aunt Helen and her partner, Arthur (who live in Chicago), as well as Andrew's Uncle Doug (who I have very quickly learned can be counted on to be the life of the party), and Andrew's sister, Carolyn, mother of Sean Patrick and baby Cathleen, all traveled quite a distance in order to join us, for which we were very touched and grateful.

Our official wedding photographer, Ivy Hammer, has posted a very nice selection of our wedding photos on her website, which can be reached via this link: Andrew and Allyson's Wedding.

But, please also see the "unofficial" photos by 2 of my new sisters-in-law: Laura (Andrew's youngest sister, and Mom to nephew Leif) and her hubby Jason got some terrific shots as they traded off camera duty. Check out Laura's blog: Water in the River (look for the May 17th blog entry). And, Spring (brother Scott's wife, and niece Avery's Mom) managed to get some beautiful photos that look like they came directly from Martha Stewart Living magazine. Spring's blog: Life Love Laughter.

We began our pre-celebrating Friday night, when all of my family seemed to descend upon Gainesville in one swarm. We learned that, despite having NO dining room chairs (true, since we ditched the old pub table and 4 chairs when we had the big clean-out yard sale), and limited seating in our small living room, our folding camp chairs (which I am now very, very glad I purchased from REI on clearance) and various footstools and benches will do just fine in a pinch.

My dear Aunt Mary maintained her composure nicely when she, needing to use the facilities, was suddenly faced with the complete absence of a bathroom door! Luckily, Dixie's dog gate (which also came in handy during the big remodel) made a great barrier, and blocked unwanted entry into the hallway leading to the loo, keeping traffic to a minimum. Since our bathroom is out of direct view from the living room, anyway, no one, especially the boys, seemed too bothered. After sitting around enjoying beer, wine, and snacks, and catching up on old times and more recent news, we headed out for dinner at Sonny's Barbecue, a Florida staple. Yum!

Dixie Dawg got lots of ear rubs, belly rubs, and snacks. Did I mention that Dix LOVES having company, especially men and children! I think this has a lot to do with being allowed to jump up on them, in their laps, being allowed to lick them right on the mouth, and getting to eat lots of snacks off the floor.

My brother Vinny's wife, Jeanie, did not miss a beat, and, as soon as she arrived, seeing that I still had some wedding favors to finish wrapping, took over truffle-stuffing duty like a pro, so I could enjoy my company. What a sweetheart! Meanwhile Vinny & Jeanie's 2 boys, Justin and Jake, loved on their old pal, Dixie, who once upon a time used to be Vinny and Jeanie's dog.

This marked the first time that all of my siblings and Mom were all in The Cottage at the same time!

Meanwhile, Andrew's parents, aunts and uncles, siblings, and their families were having a similar gathering over on the Gulf Coast in Crystal River on our wedding eve, where we wish we could have joined them.

My dear sister, Jennifer (also my Matron of Honor), took some candid shots of her own at the wedding, and I've posted some of them here:

Me with my friend and former coworker, Kelly, and her husband, Kyle, and our friend Beth (in black and white), who is also Andrew's coworker.

My 3 brothers all in one photo! Glenn seated at the table with his girlfriend, Karla; Bubba (in a tie!), and Vinny.

Our first dance! It was a waltz, to a traditional Irish tune called Planxty Fanny Power. So glad we took a few dance lessons.

All went so well, we couldn't have asked for a better or more beautiful wedding.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Flowers on the brain.

Blush Noisette

With just 7 days until we are married, I seem to have flowers on the brain. I have been spending more time than usual in the garden, tending to my roses. I keep thinking about the wedding flowers, which for our wedding means peonies. It's very unfortunate for me that peonies just cannot grow in hot, humid Florida, because when I lived in North Carolina, although I never actually grew any of my own, they grew happily there. Except people there pronounced it pee-YOH-knee (rhyming with baloney). Peonies, along with forsythias, were always a welcome sign of Spring. But, we can't grow them here, so I grow what does grow well here, instead. And remember that I never had tangerine blossoms outside my bedroom window when I lived in North Carolina, either.

No peonies, so old Southern roses it is. Just try to kill them, drought. You won't. Neither will black spot, or aphids, or lack of fertilizer. Old Southern roses are so effortless and content just to be, they almost make no peonies okay.

Natchitoches noisette, one of my pink Noisettes, photographed at dusk:

I like to look at my roses at different times of day. Early morning and close to dusk are best, when the foliage is not wilted, and everything looks fresh.

Madame Alfred Carriere a climbing Noisette, at dusk:

We have had so little rain lately that our rain barrels are now bone-dry. I have resorted to paying for City water to run the little portable sprinkler in order to soak their roots deeply. I do water them when it's really dry, because even tough, hardy plants suffer from extended drought. It was 94 degrees in the shade at the Cottage today.

Let's hope for a nice, Spring-like day next Saturday!

Yard sale

Today, we held a yard sale, and a pretty successful one at that. Our Cottage is located in the Stephen Foster Neighborhood of Gainesville (our little corner of the 'hood actually used to be known as Pine Haven way back when), and our local Neighborhood Association held a neighborhood-wide yard sale today. Nice of them to organize the whole thing, because that meant someone other than us had to take the time to place an ad on Craigslist and put up signage.

The neighborhood yard sale couldn't have been timed better, since Andrew and I are in the process of combining 2 households. We didn't have much trouble finding about half a roomful of fabulous finds. We spread the treasures out on the lawn and porch and sat back, waiting to see what kind of interest we'd get.

The antique oak fireplace mantle and 2 Depression-era kitchen cabinets sold quickly.

Andrew's Nana's old faux fireplace was a favorite among the looking-but-not-buying crowd. It gives off a soft orange glow and has realistic crackly fire sound effects!

Yeah, lady, sure you'll be back later for it. We may have to find it another home at the end of the day.

The Linen Department:

where one woman bought my nice crocheted tablecloth to use as a bed topper.

All in all, we made almost $300.

No one wanted the Chicken Head, though...