Archive for the ‘Friends/Family’ Category

Almost naptime

Almost naptime

Here are Attila and (new puppy) Zhora resting on Jessi’s furniture, most likely waiting on me to leave them alone so they can get some very important napping done.

We drove up to Virginia over the weekend to see one of our three favourite people who reside there, sister Jess (although I’m the only one allowed to call her “sister.”)

She lives in the tiniest of towns and even if I hadn’t been all headachy for most of the trip, we didn’t go out and DO a whole lot. Not that we are “doing” kind of people; our plans for tonight include ordering in our favourite Mexican food and making margaritas while we watch X-Files. (What? Nerds? …..alright…maybe)

And it was a ton of fun seeing Zhora run around and play with Jessi’s wonderful dog, Lizzy. Unfortunately there are no adorable pictures of dogs playing as they move too damn fast.

Then we came home and spent some time with the other two people we love in Virginia who had each came to Tennessee separately for weddings of their own friends.

Happy dogs saying hello

Happy dogs saying hello


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Did I mention that we were busy? I hope so. I hope the complete and utter lack of posting also showed that.

Let’s recap:

*On December 31st, 2010 we moved into a new rental house with a one year lease.
*In mid-April 2011, the owners of the house [heretoforthwith knows as Dickheads] (who had put it up for rent after
it wouldn’t sell when the husband’s job had him transfer out of state TWICE) called our agent to tell her that,
“Hey. The job is moving me back to [local city] and we want our house back.” Period. End of story. So begins
rental hell. With that came several months of neighbours-who-were-previously-sweet-and-super-friendly-and-who
we-later-found-out-were-friends-with-Dickheads [now to be known as Fatties or Assholes Next Door] constantly
calling and complaining about noise from guitars and band practice (they had been totally fine with it for four
months!), sometimes IN TEARS, and traffic from Ben’s students and grass being unmowed (for more than five days,
if it wasn’t mowed, they called our agent complaining about snakes–in a goddamned subdivision!!!). It was awful.
Truly truly horrendously awful. Our sweet sweet agent, who technically worked for The Dickheads, was constantly
apologizing for their retched behavior. Keep in mind, this awfulness lasted NON-FUCKING-STOP from mid-April thru
mid-September. (Including a story from September about me walking out of the shower to find The Dickheads
circling the house with open blinds.)
*On May 7th, 2011, our ten-year anniversary, we got married. It was a semi-elopement that we didn’t tell anyone
about (grandparents got 10 days notice to attend) and was more stress/work than anticipated. Because our
anniversary fell on a Saturday, that meant the courthouse was closed; which meant we had to hire someone; which
meant more money; which also meant we had to have a location in which we could be married; which meant more
money; we wanted to write out our own ceremony; which meant a fuckload of time and even more money…you see
where this is going? All along with the news that The Dickheads wanted to push us out. But you know, it was still
a whole hell of a lot of fun. Plus we had a badass four-day honeymoon of fun.

Sister made the most lovely star garland in our favourite colours for our location.

*Mid-May 2011–Very-Early-August 2011: When we got back from the honeymoon we started looking for houses to
buy…well, first we started talking about buying a house A LOT more seriously than we had planned on doing
(original buy date would be sometime in 2012) and then we started looking to buy. And we looked and looked and
looked and looked and said no to a shitload on the internet and viewed a few houses before rejecting them and our
sweet agent (that same dear hippie lady who kept apologizing for The Dickheads continuing harassment) was about to
give up on us when she e-mailed me one morning with a link to a newly-listed house and the subject line, “LOOK!
LOOK! LOOK!” and inside all it said was, “This one came up in my search this morning and it seems perfect for
you!!!” and it was ADORABLE! And looked so good!! And so very Us. We made an appointment for two days later to
view it and when we pulled up, Dear Agent walked out of the house and told us in no uncertain terms that if we
didn’t buy this house, she will fire us as her clients. Of course we loved it and of course we put in an offer and
of course we ended up buying it. And of course we are absolutely completely and totally head-over-heels-in-love
with our house. OUR HOUSE. It’s beautiful.

Hastily taken photo of front door seconds before we moved in.

I plan on writing a huge post about buying/moving with pictures of the house…but please, be patient for I will
scream if pushed to do too much too fast. My poor Rock Star nearly had a meltdown at the signing of the contract
for the bid for the house. Near. Catastrophic. Meltdown. My wonderful man does not accept change easily. But he
did. And we did. And at the first of August so we began the house-buying process. (Details to come, I hope.)

*Within days of putting in a bid, having the bid countered, signing the contract, having an official house
inspection, etc. etc. etc. we went on our already-planned 10-day vacation to see wonderful people we knew in
Virginia and to tour D.C. (I’d been twice, but my museum-loving Rock Star had never visited). After the incredible
stress of the first part of August, seeing my sister, my lovely and amazing friend, and Ben’s very best friend was
just what we needed to calm the ever-living-fuck down. We first saw Sister and her fabulous dog, Lizzy, then we
stopped at the ever-wonderful Erin’s house, then we trucked up to see Josh in DC. It was fantastic seeing my
sister as it always is when she lives too far away from me; and spending time with Erin is about as happy and
peaceful as any time I’ve ever spent. Josh was an amazing sport about letting us crash at his place and showed us
some wonderful sites (sights?) in the downtown area. With him as our guide we had some of the most amazing food we
had ever eaten. I’m so glad we know wonderful people who enjoy food and history as much as we do. We really do
have fantastic friends.

Happy Lizzy looking for a bellyrub

Me standing inside an Alexander Calder sculpture at the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden

Comet Ping Pong's The Smokey & The Yaley--HOLY SHIT! You have to try this pizza!! It's too good to be true!!

Ben in awe of ancient mummy in Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Josh and Ben about to enjoy the hell out of their Dogfish Sampler of various beers

*We came back mid-August (nearly bypassing my birthday entirely [cue: guilt and extreme sadface] and began to
finalize the closing and go through the entirely stressful closing process as well as the extremely stressful
packing-cleaning-moving-cleaning-unpacking process and let me tell you, we have a lot of shit. No. Really. I don’t
think anyone understands just how much shit two childless twenty-somethings can acquire when they live in a house
together for several years. It’s way too much. It’s embarrassing. But on September 17th, 2011 we moved in to what
(if we so choose) could be the last house in which we ever live. [cue: angelic voices singing heavenly tune]

*Since then we have cleaned, unpacked, painted, rearranged, cleaned, unpacked, painted, painted painted,
rearranged, unpacked, cleaned, painted, rearranged, painted, painted, unpacked, painted, tiled, painted,
rearranged and back to tiling and painting some more. That’s house stuff. And [re: hopefully/skeptically] soon I
plan on posting more detail on house stuff if only for my own records.

*October 22nd was the Homecoming Day for my five-year college reunion. Not only did the beautiful Erin come to town
to visit, but I got to catch up with some of my favourite old art alums (how fuckin’ snooty does that sound?!?)
and that was a metric ton of fun–plus we came home with a beautiful piece of art by the always wonderful Robin
Grace Venable
who provided the alumni exhibit this year.

*BUT Halloween is our favourite holiday and last year we were in the process of looking for a new place and had
previously thought we would be moving in October and didn’t decorate at all and just threw a meager little
Halloween party. This year we knew we’d be only five weeks in our new house, but we couldn’t forgo the annual
Petler Inn Halloween Bash, so we invited costumed close friends to our transitioning house for an awful good time.
And the week prior, we participated in something we had always dreamed of doing…sort of: It has been a life goal
of mine (and now the Rock Star’s too) to die some gruesome grisly death in a B-horror zombie movie. Our super
talented friend, Ben (affectionately called Other Ben), participated in a local grindhouse-style horror trailer
contest to go along with a local Horror Fest our town throws each year, and we got to be the zombies!! We had way
too much fun making it, and even though Other Ben’s didn’t win on account of it being “too pretty” and “not
grindhouse enough” (although we counter that the genre he drew, “Knoxploitation” is AWFUL) it was still one of the
best ones entered and we LOVED it.

As for our costumes this year, we went all out for the zombies for the movie and were so focused on cleaning
up/painting/tiling the house before the party, that we didn’t even start to think of anything until seven-ish
hours before the party was supposed to start (with us having to work in between that time-frame). Ben went as
Rorschach from The Watchmen graphic novel and I went as a clean basket of laundry–I was particularly proud of the
crumpled dollar bill and wad of thread I hot-glued to my tshirt along with socks and a sock on my headband. Not
too shabby for last minute; my costume problem also had to account for being able to literally throw it on when I
got home from work in less time than it takes to pee (also accounts for the utter lack of makeup as I drove home
like a maniac and ran upstairs to don Halloween garb). Even though it was small and not-that decorated, it was
still an super fun time with awesome people. And we’ve already started planning out next year and the full on
epicness that will occur.

in zombie garb for pseudo-movie

That damn basket bruised my thighs, I was so sore the next day.

Funnily enough, to answer nerd questions everywhere, he wasn't wearing anything underneath that coat.

And with that, I have skimmed my life forward to present day. There is so much left out and so much more to add. And [WITH GREAT HOPE] I will get back into my regular blogging schedule; which is to say, two or three times a month.


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*the above quotation is from Robert Byrne*

Oh, we’ve had all sorts of Winterish adventures here; many more than any in Ye Ole Petler Inn would like to see. And we’re a bit worried about all this awful weather as we’re going to be moving in nine days (!!!ANDNOTAFUCKINGTHINGISPACKED!!!); Christmas is in three days; and the winter solstice was last night (although I missed the eclipse as it was way too cloudy above our house). Also, I would like to put on record that we live in East Tennessee. And although my “No-Good-Very-Bad Weather” may not be a flurry to those in northern states, but let me tell you: We are not used to true winters. At the very idea of snow, we panic. We’re not used to it. We’re not prepared for it. It’s not good at all.

    Winterness Adventure #1:

On my way to work last Sunday afternoon (the live show runs from 6pm-midnight EST), I received a call from my boss/friend, Brandon, to check on the progress in my commute. Here is the conversation (also, it should be noted that I P-A-N-I-C at the idea of inclement weather and having to drive in it; during snow/ice possibilities, I become almost unbearable):

him: So, how’re you doing?
me: Fine. …why?
him: You driving okay? –You’re still coming?
me: What? I’m [halfway there]. It’s totally clear, not a cloud in the sky…. …why?
him: ……oh. ….no reason.
me: …WHAT?!?!?
him: Ummm….it’s snowing here…
me: Snowing?!? Is it bad?! HOW BAD?!?
him: Oh! Not bad! Not bad at all! In fact, the sun’s coming up!!
me: Bullshit. HOW BAD?!?! Did you call me to freak me out? Should I be worried? What does it look like?!?!
him: …it’s all sunshine. It’s great up here.
***[to note: the studio where I work is at the base of some pretty famous mountains, at a much higher elevation than my home]***
me: ………
him: ….it’s all white.
him: Only about an hour…maybe less.
me: AND IT’S ALL WHITE?!?!?!?!?!
him: Yeah, and it’s sticking. I’m watching cars almost hit each other trying to get out of the parking lot. It’s pretty bad. Be very careful.
me: ….shit. shitSHITshitSHITshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitSHITSHITSHITSHITSHITshitshitshitSHIT!!!!
him: You’re almost here. You’ll be okay. Just drive slow and be very careful.
me: …
him: See you soon!

Needless to say, I did make it to work; I did panic for the rest of my commute even more the few times I felt my tires slide on the snow/ice; and I continued to panic for the duration of our six-hour show. However I must note, panic makes that long six-hour shift go by oh-so-very-quickly. I hardly noticed the time passing because I was much too busy FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. And it was bad. I kept asking the support staff to the hosts what the weather is looking like outside. CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Little good it could do me. I was stuck in the show for the duration. And when it was all over, we locked up the studio and went outside.
There was a back-up plan. Our miserly supervisor had even called in to tell us that he would pay for a hotel room for the crew; but we didn’t really want to do that. Luckily, the other camera-operator working that night also lived in the same town as myself and Brandon. And the three of us decided it would be best to stay together in The Other Guy’s new(ish) four-wheel-drive vehicle, rather than in our separate cars (Brandon’s being a sedanish type car, and myself owning a 16-year-old jeep cherokee). And The Other Guy drove us back home. It was extremely slow going; and we slid several times; and the roads were totally whited out; and the snow was coming down in an awful way (that would have been very lovely had we been safely in our respective homes); and even the interstate was in an awful white-out-ish condition that was made scarier by the insistence of the tractor-trailer drivers to continue their work; but slowly and if not surely, than certainly with great trepidation, we made it back home. Or, rather, The Other Guy drove Brandon and I to my house as there was no fucking way on this Earth that any kind of vehicle would be making it up the giant steep hill where Brandon lives, and The Other Guy made it back to his apartment. Brandon slept here that night, and we poured the wine and watched a holiday comedy classic, and collapsed into bed (or in Brandon’s case, collapsed into an air mattress). And the next day, although the snow continued to fall and stay all over the fucking place, it kept off the roads and we were able to pick up our cars courtesy of my beloved, Ben.

    Winterness Adventure #2:

The following Wednesday, I was making my way to work (on totally clear roads) when I decided to check up on my parent’s progress to Boston where they were working on moving Sister’s belongings into a storage facility and bring her and her enchanting dog home for the holidays. And my dear sweet old Papa dropped this bomb on me, “You ready for the ice storm?”


Like all good upper-middle-aged men, my father obsessively watches the weather. The Weather Channel is always the first channel he finds when with an unfamiliar television, he leaves it running on his TV at home, he even has an app for it on his droid.
Apparently, East TN, which has rarely seen the likes of any sort of ice storm [at least in my lifetime], was expecting to be sheeted in ice starting around 7pm till around sunrise–with the worst bits freezing around midnight.

Great. Just fucking great.

That Wednesday show? It runs from 5pm–midnight. Oh-ho! How wonderful!!
I spent the duration of that seven hour show chanting quietly to any force of nature or god who could possible hear me, “NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.”

It didn’t work.

When we left the studio and walked outside, the entire parking lot was one super thick sheet of ice. Boss-man Brandon, Other-Regular-Camera-Guy Roger, and myself turned on our respective old vehicles, and skated around the parking lot and out onto the roads to test the conditions for the next 15 minutes.
I am, of course, panicking. I have to get home. I can’t be trapped up here. I have a ton of shit to do. Christmas shopping to finish, and packing to pretend to start, and gifts to finish making, and a house to clean, and TOMORROW IS MY OTHER DAY OFF AND I CAN’T BE STUCK UP HERE.
But Brandon offered to drive me home, and I figured if his dinky little car could make it the near 25 miles back to our house, than most certainly I would be able to do so in my Jeep. And Roger lived just as far away in the opposite more rural direction, and so we parted ways, wishing each other luck and safety. And Brandon gets a five minute head start just in case something really awful is ahead, he can call and tell me about it first.
And I call Ben and tell him to keep up a constant stream of conversation to keep me from losing my absolute head whilst I drive home. And of course, he doesn’t understand because at our house, there is no ice. Just a whole lot of slushiness. But not a single slippery patch. But he does it anyway. And what normally is an easy 30 minute commute, turned into a 90 minute unnerving drive home.
And just as I get to my home; my sweet old house; my warm safe immovable house; Brandon calls.

And he’s stuck. He slid down a large hill and his car is now stuck in a frozen parking lot and can we come and get him?
And dear sweet Ben, offers to let me come inside and he will take his car out to get Brandon. But I am the only one of the three of us with four-wheel drive, and I’ve already been driving for 90 minutes, so what’s another 15?
And so Ben walks out to my car at the end of our street, nearly falling on his ass in the process (Ice? What ice?) and ends up skating to me. And so we head off to get Brandon, and as we’re nearing him, I realize that from his location, hills either up or down, are our only option of getting home. So we call Brandon and tell him we’re going to turn around and wait for him to walk to us; and apparently he can already see the Jeep making it’s precarious way to him.
And I turn the car onto a small side-street. And we start sliding. And the car is moving laterally. And I look at Ben and yell, “WHAT DO I DO?!? WHAT DO I DO?!? WHAT DO I DO?!?” And he’s saying, “…I’ve never moved sideways in a car before…I don’t know…” All observant and not-very-present-in-this-god-awful-uncontrollable-moment. So I steer the sliding car into a large yard (or very small field, whichever you may prefer) and then sit there.
What the fuck.
I was home.
And fucking Brandon needed rescuing. Damn it all to hell and back.
So we climb out of the car, and nearly fall down because the entire world is now iced over. What looks like snow? Ice. What looks like clean road? Ice. What looks like a slushly sidewalk? ALL FUCKING ICE. And I start berating myself in my head for not listening to that little voice that wanted to ask Ben to bring me my winter boots before he skated to the Jeep, because we were in a car and he would only make fun of me for panicking. And we make our way back to the road where Brandon has made it and is gleefully watching us. And the three of us make it ever so slowly back to the house, learning the very best way to walk through ALL THE ICE EVERYWHERE is to step in the long grassy bits right beside the road: the ice is only on the top layer and body weight crushes it down and it gives all of our poorly clad feet purchase. Of course, there were some scary bits, crossing the road was extremely treacherous, as was crossing the sidewalk and going up the few steps there too. But eventually we made it back. And had nice big drinks for everyone; and watched another holiday movie classic; and blew up the air mattress for the second time in three days; and fell oh-so-very-exhausted into bed.
And the next morning we woke up and there was still ice. Although from the time I woke up at 10am, till the time the boys got up 90 minutes later, cars were able to drive on the roads again, and the ice was turning into slush slowly as the temperature rose.
And eventually we bundled up and headed out to collect the cars.

Ben, Brandon, and myself (with Attila and spazzy Ollie) setting out on the quest for cars.

Even though there was still ice all over the sidewalks, and parts of some yards, the roads were clear and we set out. Oh, and we also had my mom’s super spazzy dog that needed walking (to rid him of his Crazy energy) and Attila too.

Ice still present but slowly melting away.

First we came up on my poor Jeep.

Still icy jeep

And although it was still coated in ice, it would not be a lot of trouble to get it home.

Not too bad, easily able to get out (with crazy Ollie)

So we left the semi-frozen Jeep and kept walking towards Brandon’s car. The hilly parking lot where he left his car was now occupied by three other vehicles, one of whom had been stopped by a telephone pole, and the lot was still very icy. But it seemed as if it was thawing out a bit. All the same, Ben, the dogs, and myself decided to stay safely on the flat sidewalk whilst Brandon went down to check out his car situation alone.

A small graphic strip of Brandon's car, and please excuse the poor quality as I was forced to use the digital zoom on our point-and-shoot camera.

Brandon’s car had slid to a stop so very close to my parent’s currently abandoned house and we decided the best idea was to break in and see what we could forage up as a small smackeral of something delicious.

A hearty snack of carrots, pretzel rods, peanut butter, ritz crackers with a delicious cheesy spread, and M&Ms.

After food the roads were deemed easy enough to travel, and we made a shopping list up so Ben and I could make German chicken noodle soup (I don’t know exactly how it’s different from other chicken noodle soups [perhaps more potatoes?], all I know is Mama got the recipe from Oma, who uses the same recipe her Mama made in Berlin before the war–it’s the only kind of chicken noodle soup I know.) And Brandon needed to buy any type of food for his bachelor lifestyle (he got hot pockets, milk, and cereal–good grief!!).
So we left the dogs and walked back to Brandon’s car, and slid slowly out of the parking lot and then safely back up the road and to the closest grocery. And Brandon very kindly took us (and the pups) back to our house while he went back up the doubly steep hill to his apartment.

No shopping was done. No gifts were made. Nothing truly productive was accomplished. But it was fun, and retrospectively makes for a good story.
And here’s hoping that the old adage, “Winter bites with its teeth, or lashes with its tail.” Is a true one for us this season.


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Although technically we’re not done with summer yet and we’ve still got some major events coming up in the next two weeks (a birthday party; a bachelor party; a wedding), I just cannot handle how absent I’ve been from my blog. So, to recap in a few images, this has been our summer. (I should also note that Ben’s swirling venture has picked up considerably, and a good portion of this summer as been spent with guitars as a whole and in pieces laying about/dangling down our entire house–fortunately we’ve moved all his music-ish/guitarish things into his new blog and I won’t have to reiterate it here.) We’ve been:

:painting lots of furniture…

now it's black and in the music room/library

:doing a lot of organizing, clearing out, cleaning up…

what you're missing are the five other stacks around/behind the coffee table


If you can get Ollie to sit still, he still looks a bit crazy...

:having Ben’s birthday parties…

well into the night for us

Boston Cream Pie cupcakes over homemade vanilla ice cream

:taking walks at the lake…

and don't forget the Sonic slushies!!!

:going camping with my family…

Those are two outdoorsy kids if I ever saw some!

We make the best camping food ever! EVER!!!

...to be fair, I'm pretty sure princess here was chewing on a stick

Ollie gets all kinds of filthy when he camps

My research-loving, librarian-in-training sister figured out that this is actually an elm sawfly or Cimbex americanadoes. There's a link to it in the comments section. (Thanks, Jess!)

:taking baths…

cleanliness is very important here

:going to the beach with my family (including Sister! YAY!!!)…

PALE PEOPLE!! PALE PEOPLE!!! (it's much better in a doomish sort of voice)

basically this is all I did for seven days; it was blissful


–and whilst we were at the beach, my poor berated mother forced everyone into a black and white portrait session; and while I think the best family image is only adequate, I really love the more individual shots:

My parents may be the cutest couple I've ever met--they're celebrating their 30th anniversary in September this year.

To my mother's constant chagrin, we cannot help being goofy.

caught in a moment of sweetness

My sister, the most adorable woman on the earth.

The motivation behind the entire photoshoot. Please note the underlying sense of aching hunger within each person.

It’s been a great summer and it’s not quite over yet!

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Sorry about the privatization of the last post–it’s not so much about hiding it from any of the random readers, it’s more about keeping it Un-Googleable. Just message me for the password if you feel so inclined.

We’ve been super busy here at Ye Ole Petler Inn. I L-O-V-E being unemployed. And I love that Ben is being so beautifully supportive about me being unemployed. I’m going to hate it in another month when it’s time for me to find another shitty job to help pay the bills. I’ve gotten so much work done around the house and now that the house is significantly more de-cluttered (we two are notorious pack rats), I can focus more of my energy in creating things. Luckily for me, there is a whole slew of birthdays and weddings coming up that will be taking up a significant amount of my time.

Ben and I have spent a lot (A LOT–A LOT) of time playing Tekken 6 for the PS3. We love that game and it’s one of the few video games where I actually stand a chance against Mr. Ben a.k.a. Best Videogamer EVER. Thus far my favourite (new) character is Alisa, although I’m getting some good play out of Zafina as well. I usually try to stay away from the girls as I want to avoid being The-Girl-Who-Chooses-Girl-Characters plus usually the men have better combos. But Alisa is BAD ASS, she promises to be quite amazing and I look forward to learning the extent of her fighting skills. Zafina is just simply too weird to be predictable which makes it easier for me to beat Ben (ha!). There is a big fat American character, Bob, who is surprisingly agile, and although I can’t do a lot with him (I’m just horrible at the larger characters, I’m not used to their slower reflexes) Ben does very well in kicking my ass using big fat Bob.

We saw Mastodon AND Baroness in concert and they were both FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC. I kept meaning to have ole Benard write up another concert review but both he and I kept forgetting.

We went to a Mormon ring exchange. The groom is a convert to the religion and this was a way for the majority of his friends and family to celebrate his wedded bliss (as non-Mormons cannot attend any formal ceremonies). It was sweet and nice and fun. And they asked me to be the photographer for it. Which was pretty cool and which I would have enjoyed a whole lot more had I had more than TEN HOURS notice to shoot it (also, I didn’t even get to the venue until 75 minutes before it all started). I hope they’re happy with the results. They’re a super fun (and totally bizarre) couple and I wish them the very best.

Later that same night we had Ben’s band (and respective lady-friends) over for making our own sushi. It ran too late (sushi always takes FOR-EV-ER to make), but it was still AMAZING and even though we ate as we rolled, we still had a ridiculous amount of food leftover. It’s a really good group of folks and I’m glad I can call each of them my friend.

Prep Work=DONE!

Luke, Joe, and Ian making some rolls.

FINALLY ready to sit & eat: Joe, Angela, Jessica, Ian, Ben, Luke, Karlee, and Kris.

For our anniversary we went to one of our favourite semi-local cities, Asheville. We spent the day wondering around and making some more dishes for our already too-full kitchen.

Mother’s Day was spent having the regular family brunch at Copper Cellar (WONDERFUL as per usual). And then Mama (and Ben) desperately wanted to see the aquarium. So we took Oma and the five of us spent the afternoon at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. After that we headed to Ben’s mother & stepfather’s house for some Mother’s Day hanging out.

Memorial weekend has always been spent celebrating my paternal grandfather’s birthday on the 29th (75 years old this year!) and the next day is spent celebrating Oma’s birthday (82 now). Monday we hosted band practice at our house as the drummer is at his home in Ohio for the next few weeks.

It’s been a super busy month for us, as May nearly always is and June promises to be nearly as full. We do have Ben’s birthday to celebrate at the end of the month, and he’s asking for a big party (we’re looking for a theme if anyone has any ideas) with all of our friends as it has been ages since we’ve done something with err’body and it will be good to see all of our friends in the same place again.


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Well, so much for blogging-about-our-life, eh? Our holiday season was so full jam-packed with events, that that hasn’t really been any time to sit down and talk write about it.
Thanksgiving we spent with my lovely sister in Boston. We flew in early Tuesday morning and left on Saturday morning with only the smallest of hiccups; considering we were traveling during the busiest season, we’re pretty happy about it. Ben, however managed to claim Boston security attention which resulted in a full search (which was pretty funny, retrospectively).
Jess ran us ragged running around Boston, and I finally have realized what my parent’s were talking about whenever they would visit me in nyc–city people walk FAST. But she took us to see the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and we went ice skating in Frog Pond–it was Ben’s very first time EVER on ice skates–he did very well. Didn’t fall down once. And Jess invited a few of her lovely Bostonian friends over for Thanksgiving dinner of Roasted Duck with Orange and Tea sauce and others contributed wine, sweet potato casserole, and a variety of other goodness. We had a whole lot of fun and really enjoyed getting to see her again.
In Boston we watched the best (and possibly only) Thanksgiving movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and began a Christmas movie marathon with (the original) Miracle on 34th Street and Elf. Back in TN, this was continued with Home Alone 1 & 2, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Four Christmases (pretty cute), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Santa Claus Movie, and Love Actually (one of the best movies ever, regardless of holiday)–there were many more but I believe the gist has been had.
One of my favourite family traditions is a cookie bake-off my mom hosts about a week before Christmas–friends and family are invited over to bake about 3 dozen cookies and everyone swaps off so there is a wide variety to take home. Since I had to work this year, I made (the best oatmeal-raisin cookies ever!!) my dough the night before and just scooped and baked at the party; Ben’s cookie of the season were some delicious lemon coolers.
One of my mother’s favourite event is on the evening of the first advent Sunday, her church has a “Hanging of the Green” service, sort of a decorate-the-church Christmas-type service, and I have the misfortune of being attached to Ben who also loves the hanging of the green–he says he just really likes all the singing. But afterward the family tree is decorated and Mom got to put Santa (our tree topper) on the tree this year.
Jess was greatly missed at the decorating, and we participated with her thanks to the ingenuity of Skype.

Christmas is always an EVENT with my family, and Ben, bless his heart, has come to love it as well. Christmas Eve dinner at my parent’s house celebrates the German side, Christmas breakfast also at my parent’s house for friends and family, Christmas lunch at my paternal grandparent’s house and then Christmas dinner at Ben’s mother’s house. Needles to say, one has to properly prepare for a marathon eating event such as this. By the time Christmas night comes around all we can manage to do is roll over on the couch and maybe scratch poor neglected Attila’s fat belly with one or two fingers.
Highlighted gifts this year: For Kate: a gorgeous amber moon necklace and The Big Ass Book of Crafts from Ben, her Nana’s set of green dishes (!!!), and from her parent’s THE DREAM–a huge green leather purse, beautiful. For Ben: A Canjo (although Ben’s is made from a Spam can), speakers for his iPOD and a nice houndstooth scarf from Kate’s parent’s, some pretty earrings and a new copper water bottle, and the REAL Indian Jones movies in a box set from Kate.
We try to make as many gifts as possible for our friends/family. Not only is it more economical on our dry wallets, but it also sends out something more personal as we do our best to create something unique to each person. This year, I embroidered towels and made some magnets for our loved ones. Ben drew several people an image of something they loved, and he also did a bit of painting of various objects as well.
Also, of note, my burly father bought my mother the sweetest fluffiest little puppy for Christmas, the poor thing was bought in NC, then kept at our house for 2.5 days then shuffled to Jessi’s loft in our parent’s backyard for the evening of the 24th, and finally found it’s home with mom later that night.
Ollie is a Cavapoo (not a “real” breed), a mix between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (mom’s absolute favourite dog) and a Bichon Frise (to ensure non-shredding). He’s sweet and very puppylike right now, and Attila is slowing warming up to him, although Lizzy’s already decided it’s a live toy of her very own.
New Year’s Eve has never been a big holiday for us, we prefer to stay home and perhaps some of our lower-key friends drop by. This year we had dinner at the always fantastic El Sazon, and with sister and a few good friends. And, since we’ve still never hooked up a television, we streamed the ball dropping in Times Square thanks to JustinTV.

So all-in-all a very eventful but happy holiday season at the Petler Inn.


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In honor of our favourite holiday and (one of) our favourite pastime, the month of October is spent watching Halloween-esque movies. Not necessarily scary movies per se, but good Octoberish stuffs.

We’ve been watching (in no particular order):

Addams Family & Addams Family Values: A delightfully dark comedy set whose gothic humour is sorely missed in modern movies. And of which I have recently found out will be on Broadway VERY SOON! (!!!)

Witches: Early ’90s family masterpiece based on the book by Roald Dahl.

Hocus Pocus: Early-mid ’90s Halloween comedic must-see starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, with a young appearance by Thora Birch as the little sister.

Children of the Corn
: Stephen King’s classic short-story about demonic children’s takeover of a small town. This was the first time we had ever seen this movie, and although good, wasn’t quite as gripping or horrifying as it would have been 25 years ago.

The Strangers: Oh, man. I mean, OH! MAN! Have you seen this?! Because it is terrifying. Absolutely and completely. I love me some monsters movies, old classic horror films, just about anything zombie related, and although I may jump or be anxious during, afterwards I can happily critique with everyone else. But this movie. This. Movie. I had nightmares following it’s viewing. No kidding. Scared me that bad. But it’s good. It’s really well made. Ben was writing and I was working on my xmas gifts when we started it, halfway through we realized we were both sitting on the edge of the sofa, absolutely gripped by the movie. That good.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Coppala classic; wonderful, enchanting, and after watching some of the special features, highly impressive. Despite being made in the age of the green screen, Coppola insisted on all the special effects being done on set or in camera. What used to be one of our top movies of all time quickly became one of our most impressive (and let me tell you, we’re a hard group to impress).

Nightmare on Elm Street: Classic horror. Just wonderful. I still maintain the character of Freddy Kreugar is one of the best villains ever created–what child didn’t get scared during the night and wish for sleep to rescue her (or him)? To give us a villain that attacked us when we are necessarily vulnerable, is pure genius.

Shaun of the Dead: HILARIOUS!! I love this English spoof! It sealed my love for the charming Simon Pegg.

Zombieland (in theatres): Oh, my!! This movie was fantastic!!! With a completely adorable and totally unexpected cameo by one of my favourite actors of all time. This movie exceeded my already high expectations. If you’re looking for a fun zombie flick, check this out!

Pet Sematary
: A King classic. It’s slightly dated nowadays, but nothing creepier than that child (later to appear in Kindergarten Cop) slashing ankles from beneath the bed–scared me so bad as a young’un that to this day, I don’t like placing my feet on the floor beside my bed in the dark.

Drag Me to Hell
: This movie was surprisingly very good. My friend had to really talk me into watching this one–nearly forcing me to watch it and I actually really loved it. It’s from director Sam Raimi (of Evil Dead fame long before those god-awful Spider-Man movies) and it’s a return to his specialty–campy, brutal horror classic film. I really loved it, and as Ben said, “I can totally see Bruce Campbell playing the lead role too.”

Wind Chill: A fairly recent movie, I give it props for suspense and a somewhat original story, the acting wasn’t too bad, but it was a bit predictable and took a turn of cheesiness toward the end; but overall it was pretty good and it was a hell of a lot better than remaking all the old classics (I’m looking right at you, Michael Bay; do you know what an original story is?!?).

Frailty: Extremely good suspense/thriller!! Loved this movie about a supremely religious family; surprisingly well acted by everyone involved (this included Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey).

Pontypool: This movie had the makings of being one of the best, one of the most creative Zombie-esque films ever. EVER. While watching this, the frame of thought is a consistent “This is Brilliant!!” and then you hit the last 10 minutes and everything falls flat. So horribly flat that it ruins the first 2/3 of this movie. The basis is a small town radio station is trying to deal with some kind of bizarre virus and nearly all of the terror is audio as people are calling in with information. It was really very well done–until you get to the last bit. I don’t even know if I could recommend this to anyone.

Sleepy Hollow: We’re major league Tim Burton fans at the Petler Inn, and this is one of our favourites–if for no other reason than it co-stars the ever lovely Ms. Ricci and the indomitable Christopher Walken.

Dog Soldiers: Surprisingly very good. There’s not enough werewolf movies out there (although with The Wolfman being released soon, I’d say we’re on the verge of a trend).

Zombie Honeymoon
: This was watched one night while baking sans Ben; and it’s basically like someone’s very first movie. And I love me come campy B movies, and if this movie had taken me to where I thought it was going to end, I probably would have loved it; but the ending is sappy and couldn’t balance the campy gore in the first half.

Trick-R-Treat: Ben watched this and loved it, I’ll let him review it: “It was totally awesome. Lots of tributes to classic horror flicks in this one! It bears repeat viewings for sure. It has multiple story lines (all dealing with classic halloween themes) that all criss cross over each other. Good stuff!”

Young Frankenstein: A pumpkin-carving tradition in my family, we’ve seen this Mel Brooks classic so many times we’ve got it memorized.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Bing Crosby narrates this cartoon Halloween tradition.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Should anything else be said? Perhaps, “I got a rock.”

Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters 2: Love these movies! The first one is better than the 2nd, but they are so classic, I don’t understand how anybody could not love them.

Dead & Breakfast
: Probably my favourite B movie of all time, probably. With David Carradine and Diedrich Bader alongside a cast of virtual unknowns including a youngish Portia de Rossi and having a singing cowboy-turned zombie as the narrator, how could it be bad?

And viewing during our annual Halloween bash included:

Zombie 2: The best zombie movie ever. EVER.

Ernest Scared Stupid
: childhood classic; RIP Jim Varney

Night of the Living Dead
: Definitive zombie movie.

There were SO many more I would have liked to add to the list, and we’ll probably end up watching these during the long winter months:
Carrie (Ben has never seen!!)
Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein
Paranormal Activity
Poltergeist (neither of us have ever watched this one)
The Thing (another classic Ben’s never watched)
Trick-R-Treat (so I can see it)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (I’ve never watched this one either; shameful, I know)
BeetleJuice (I’m upset about missing this one)

…and I’m sure there are others still.


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