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Greetings From Harrogate...
Saturday, 1 December 2007
New Blog

It's high time I said farewell to Greetings From Harrogate. I'll miss this blog, but it's time to move on. This blog will remain here as an archive, but as of now I will begin posting in my shiny new Bravenet blog. Please join me there!

http://hkvlayman.bravejournal.com/

Cheers! 


Posted by hkvlayman at 6:07 AM GMT
Friday, 30 November 2007
Catching Up
Topic: The States

(Click on the above slide show to view as a web album.)

It was exhausting getting from the airport to Larry's mom's house. We had to do all the usual things, like wait for luggage and go through customs. We then had to wait an unusually long time for the shuttle bus from the airport to the car rental, then renting the car took quite a while. It was a long drive from LAX to Indio. It's amazing we didn't fall asleep on the road. Once we were there and settled though, we had an enjoyable visit. It was tough getting over jet lag, with Ryan waking up at three and four in the morning. However, we expected it, and knew it was temporary.

The weather was sunny, and almost hot for us after being acclimatized to England's weather. However, it was a good feeling. It was fun being able to go for a swim at night!

The best part of course, was seeing Larry's mom, Joyce, and her husband, Norm!

After a couple of days, we headed out to Las Vegas to see Larry's dad, grandma, and uncle. We had reservations at Arizona Charlie's, a hotel/casino just around the corner from Larry's dad's house, but once we saw the room, we decided to go elsewhere. (Larry and I have stayed in some funky places, but this place was dirty and had bugs on the walls.) We wound up at Texas instead, which was definitely better!

It was great seeing Larry Sr., and Grandma Gen, and Larry's uncle Barry. It was particularly enjoyable to see how much fun Ryan and his grandpa had playing together. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, Ryan, or Larry Sr.! Ryan had the best time shaking little boxes of TicTacs, and playing with a planter that was shaped like a car. Nevermind that we'd brought some toys with us! Smile

One of the nights we were there, we visited Greg and Toya, and their kids,  Bethany and Byron. We had a really good time catching up. Ryan seemed to especially have fun with Byron.

The last full day we were in Vegas, we had some time to kill, so we went over to see the big cat enclosure at the Mirage. That was really neat! The enclosure was huge, and there was even a glass tunnel you could walk through to view the kitties from underneath.

We also walked over to New York, New York, since Larry had never been there. It was fun to take in the sights. We even played a few games in the huge arcade they have there.

We spent our last night (Thursday, Nov. 15) in Nevada at Buffalo Bill's in Primm. Larry had a long day of driving ahead, since he would have to drop me and Ryan off in Palmdale, then drive to LAX to catch his flight to Maryland. We figured it would make the trip less onerous to start from State Line.

I have to say, that through all the craziness of staying in a different place every couple of nights, and sometimes every night, Ryan was a trooper and a champ. He took it all in such good stride.

It was good to arrive at my parents' house, and know we finally weren't going anywhere for a while.

The next morning was beautiful, so I took Ryan and went for a walk. I hadn't had Jamba Juice since my visit out here last year, so I headed there. I wound up running into my friend Manisha, whom I hadn't seen in several years! It was great to reconnect. I love it when serendipity brings friends together again.

The rest of my first full day in Palmdale turned out to be eventful, as well.  My parents and Ryan and I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant ever, Ernie's Jr. in Eaglerock, Ca. Yum! In the late afternoon/early evening, my mom and Ryan and I went to an open house the the Antelope Valley Winery. That was fun! For $5 you get a wine glass with the winery's logo etched on it, and 12 tickets for wine tasting. I did my best, but only made it through seven of my tickets! Tongue out My mom and I bought a few bottles, of course.

From there we went over to the mall, where they were having their first ever Christmas tree lighting ceremony. It was fun! The Lancaster Community Orchestra (which I hadn't been aware existed until then) played Christmas carols, then the Mayor of Palmdale read the poem, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Next was a fireworks display - by far, Ryan's favorite! I had just as much fun watching Ryan's face as I did the fireworks! After the fireworks, the tree (which was actually fairly small) was lit, immediately followed by a shower of snow - fake snow... in 60 degree weather! Tongue out It was a wonderful incongruity! Ryan got a kick out of it!

The Coffee Bean had been giving out coupons for $1 cups of hot chocolate, so we definitely took advantage of that. Mom got beverages and yummy goodies to snack on during the festivities.

We also saw my friend Teresa's dad, Ray. He was photographing the event. I tried to get his attention, but wasn't able to. My mom embarrassed me by yelling his name! It did the trick though, and he came over and we said hi. Smile

That night, JoAnna came by and picked me and Ryan up. JoAnna and I had wine and cheese and crackers and had fun catching up. We stayed the night at her house. I had to laugh because we'd only stayed one night at my parents' house, and here we were, staying somewhere else! Ryan was used to it all by then, so he went right to sleep, once I put him to bed.

Tuesday the 20th, I got to have a little girls' only time! Ryan was napping, so my mom watched him while I went to lunch with JoAnna at the Olive Garden. That was nice.

Wednesday some of my stuff arrived from the UK. I had the jogging stroller, some of Ryan's toys, and a few odds and ends sent here. Ryan was happy to have some of his things, and I was happy to have the jogging stroller!

Thursday was Thanksgiving. My parents and Ryan and I drove to Indio and had Thanksgiving with Joyce and Norm. It was a beautiful day. We ate outside! We had a really great, enjoyable, relaxing time. It was great to spend some more time with Joyce and Norm, and I can't help but mention that the food was great!

The next day I got to see my friends Kris and Teresa, and their kids Abby and Joshua. They were staying with Kris' parents in Palmdale for Thanksgiving. (I got to see Kris' mom, Jan, too.) It was great to see them! Ryan had a lot of fun playing with Abbey and Josh. Jan has a play set in the back yard, which Ryan loved, of course!

I have to say, it's a good feeling to know I don't have to try to rush to cram seeing everyone in, before heading back across the pond. It's also a good feeling to know my friends are just a short drive away, not an arduous plane ride!

Saturday the 23rd I took Ryan and walked to Panera (one of my favorite places to lunch). I hadn't been there in a year. As I was getting my food, I hear someone behind me call my name. It was a friend from high school, Amy! I hadn't seen her since we graduated. That's what I love about the AV - you run into people!

Later on in the afternoon, Mariano, a dear family friend, came up. It was great to see him. The last time I saw him, Ryan was taking his first steps at Mariano's birthday party down in Diamond Bar.

Mariano hung out and worked on our computers, while we all chatted and generally had an enjoyable time. Mariano brought wine, my mom made dinner, and a good time was had by all. Smile

Monday the 26th I ran for the first time since my last run with the Harrogate Harriers. Even though I felt sluggish (no surprises there), it felt wonderful to run again. Having my running stroller makes it a lot easier to get out and run.

Also on Monday, Ryan made cookies for the very first time! We made sugar cookies, and Ryan helped. Smile He added ingredients and stirred. His favorite part though, was rolling out the dough, and using the cookie cutters. (Although he definitely enjoyed shaking on the sprinkles.Wink)

Tuesday I went for a much longer run than I originally anticipated. I thought I would run to a nearby park, let Ryan play, and run back. It took me nearly half an hour just to get to the park. Ugh! Oh well. I can always use the exercise!

Wednesday, Ryan pulled his first wishbone, and won!

Thursday, Ryan finger painted for the first time - and loved it, of course!

Later in the evening, we went to a Lia Sophia party JoAnna had invited us to. Lia Sophia is an in-home sales jewelery company. I did wind up buying some things, and my mom and I got roped into hosting a party! (That will be in January, if anyone is interested!Laughing)

Holy moly! Am I really caught up? Yay!!! Tomorrow I will be launching my new blog. Stay tuned!


Posted by hkvlayman at 7:52 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007 4:23 AM GMT
Rain
Topic: The States

It's raining this morning. It's actually raining!

Funny thing, that. If I were in England right now, I'd probably be depressed thinking, "Oh God, it's going to be dark and wet and dreary for the next several MONTHS!!!" I would lament the loss of any hope of sunlight anytime soon, and start lighting candles around the house in a vain attempt to add some light to my surroundings.

However...

I'm in the desert, and here rain is cause for celebration! (Well, except for those nasty landslides, deadly flash floods, and rash of car accidents - but I'm not going to let that get me down!) There's something about rain in the desert that is special. The way the desert smells after the rain is unique, and almost indescribable. It's the scent of rosemary, sage, and juniper. It's the smell of parched earth finally quenched. It's the cool, slaking, deep draught of water that will sustain the desert's living things through the next drought. It's an earthy, musty smell, yet fragrant and clean. It's the scent of life.

The rain is precious here because it is rare.


Posted by hkvlayman at 5:51 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007 10:32 PM GMT
Thursday, 29 November 2007
Left Behind
Topic: Harrogate

I can't believe today Ryan and I have been at my parents' for two weeks.

Things have been busy.

First, a few leftover odds and ends:

I don't think I mentioned just how much stuff we left behind. Moving is always a monumental pain in the rear, but is even more so when moving overseas. You never realize just how much junk you have until you try to move it. We wound up with more stuff left over than we imagined. First, there was all the 220 volt stuff we just wouldn't have a need for in the States: two large, ugly lamps (left over from getting accidentally packed when we left Germany - they belonged to Housing, and we got ridiculously over charged for them), two very nice space heaters, a microwave that has been with us since Germany, a water heater (Tash informed me it's called a, "kettle" Tongue out), and a couple of other things I can't think of at the moment. Many people sell their 220 volt items, but we needed them until right before we left.

Actually, there were a lot of things we needed up until we left, but just couldn't pack or mail. A lot of people deal with this problem by borrowing things from Housing (such as beds and furniture, etc.), but the way things worked out, we would have been borrowing things for two or three days, just to have them picked up again. So we wound up sleeping on air mattresses on the floor, then got left with said mattresses and sheets and blankets and pillows to mail.

We left behind some folding chairs, since the card table that went with them got killed a long time ago. (Don't store heavy items on card tables.) Those chairs were nice.

It's funny. The movers packed up everything we told them to (and more - I had to rescue some blinds that were supposed to stay, and wasn't in time to prevent some curtain ties from getting packed that were also supposed to stay), and asked us several times to go through the house and make sure everything was packed. I walked through the house more than once, and thought they'd gotten everything. Yet somehow, after the movers had gone, I found all sorts of odd things that ought to have been packed (evidently, we all forgot to check the top of the refrigerator).

We donated tons. We gave tons to friends. We simply threw out tons. (It killed me to throw out all my spices. And hey, how'd I wind up with three opened cans of baking powder???) But honestly, it would have cost more to mail them than replace them, and the stuff was such that I didn't feel right about passing it on. (A huge thanks to Sarah, who did take a bunch of stuff that was worth passing on!)

In the back yard, we left a barbecue, some shelves, a hose, a cooler, and a foot locker.

We gathered up everything and took it over to our temporary residence, the Ashness self-catering apartments. We were there about a week. We mailed at least a dozen boxes back to the States. As the time to leave drew closer, our suit cases grew heavier, and as the hours counted down, it became evident there was no early way everything would fit. We wound up leaving an appalling amount of things behind, such as food and zip lock bags. The worst was our toiletries. We left behind pretty much everything except our tooth brushes and razors.

It's amazing what you can part with when you don't really have a choice.

At London Heathrow airport I saw a vending machine that sold books! (Paula, I so thought of you!)

When we picked up our plane tickets, we were seated in the middle of a five seat row. That wasn't going to work. When we got to the airport, we managed to get seats by the bulkhead. Score! Even better, we had almost the whole row to ourselves, except for one man sitting on the far end of the row. (He left us alone, as we did him.) It makes such a big difference having that extra space.

We'd bought an expensive, FAA approved harness for Ryan, to safely strap him into his seat on the plane. We were informed that we were not to use it on the plane, since the flight attendants aren't trained on how to use it, and might need to know in an emergency. I lamely said it was FAA approved, and even as I said it, knew what the response would be (which was basically, "it's not approved by our government"). Oh well. Ryan didn't like the harness, anyway. 

We were on the tarmac for almost an hour before we finally took off. Once in the air though, the flight went smoothly. I pretty much watched "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" most of the flight - punctuated by catering to Ryan's needs, of course. I also took a break to watch an episode of "House," which I now really like! (It's funny to hear Hugh Laurie speak with an American accent.)

I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not, but Larry and I have been listening to the Harry Potter series on cd, then watching the movies. Larry had barely started Order of the Phoenix on cd, when he decided to watch the movie. Unfortunately, he decided a bit too late. With only about five minutes left, the movie was stopped in preparation for landing. I heard Larry give an anguished, "No!" and I couldn't help but laugh.


Posted by hkvlayman at 12:01 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007 7:42 AM GMT
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Birthday
Topic: This and That

Happy birthday, Archie!  Hope you have a great day!

Love,

~Holly and Ryan 


Posted by hkvlayman at 5:52 PM GMT
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
I will reply... eventually!
Topic: This and That

To everyone whom I have not yet replied to:

Please know that I feel I am truly blessed to have the problem of having a long list of family and friends who have sent me messages of love and support, whom I very much need to write back to! I think of you all every day, and feel awful for every day that goes by that I haven't gotten back to you. I truly will write when I get a chance (and will be much relieved when I am caught up!). Thanks again for everything!

Much love,

~Holly 


Posted by hkvlayman at 5:51 AM GMT
Birthday
Topic: This and That

Happy birthday, Bill!

Love,

~Holly, Ryan, and Larry 


Posted by hkvlayman at 5:44 AM GMT
Sunday, 25 November 2007
Birthdays
Topic: This and That

Happy birthday, Kris and Brian!

Love,

~Holly and Ryan 

 


Glitter Graphics & Comments

Posted by hkvlayman at 3:59 PM GMT
Friday, 23 November 2007
Happy Thanksgiving!
Topic: Holidays

BlogAdorn.com

Posted by hkvlayman at 12:01 AM GMT
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Indecision
Topic: This and That

Toto, we're not in Harrogate anymore! However, since I can't make up my mind how I want to do my shiny new blog, I will continue here for a little bit longer.

Lots has been going on in the short time I've been back in the States. I just need some time (when I'm not completely tired) to get it all down.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, enjoyable, bountiful Thanksgiving! 


Posted by hkvlayman at 6:01 AM GMT

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