a simpler sound.

2013: T-minus 12 days to HOME-A-GEDDON!

I've been out of pocket for TWO months now, and it feels like just a blip on the calendar, even though so much has happened!  

Since my last post, I

...traveled to Germany to visit family
...with a side trip to Paris [posts on my travels to follow]
...traveled to New York for work
...helped good friends move into their new, beautiful home
...with some design consultation and business planning on the side
...AND raised a completely adorable puppy named Watson [he's a handful, but a lovable one!]

What's preoccupied my time more than anything else has been the process of designing an entirely new house [well not exactly, but pretty darn close].  

From initial conception, to architectural plans, to re-designing [again and again and then one more time], to permitting [and praying], to slowly packing away the house, to scouting and purchasing plumbing, lighting, tile, furniture, floors, fabrics, to...

12 days [or maybe a few days sooner!] from now, the contractor and his crew will set up camp to: demolish, rebuild, add on, and [hopefully!] finish my house.  The planned completion date is sometime in June [fingers and toes and legs and arms crossed that we stick to this deadline!]. That's FOUR months of mayhem!

One of my favorite places in the world will be completely transformed, nearly doubling the size of my house! I don't think I've been more excited and engrossed [and terrified!] by anything quite so much as this project. I know things will get worse before they get better, but it will absolutely be worth it in the end.

Stay tuned...

Why does it have to be cold in Boston? Memories of New England.

The temperature has dropped 24 degrees. This can only mean one thing...

I must be in BOSTON!

I'm here for a mini college reunion, since it's been almost 2 years since I've been back [I think? Time has a funny way of getting away from me these days...] and as I sit here drinking my mocha, I recall my love/hate relationship with New England.  The love can be found in these photos, which were actually taken in Maine five or six years ago in the summertime.  Even though they're not of Boston, I posted them because they remind me of how beautiful it is up here, and how wonderful a city Boston can be.

I need these photographic reminders, since I just completed 20 minutes of waiting in the freezing, windy rain for a bus, which then took me to the T, which then proceeded to take me over an hour [public transportation should NEVER take this long, but that's the charm of Boston, right?] to arrive at my present location; a neighborhood close to my alma mater, where I'll be staying with a friend.  As I walked to the cafe I'm hunkering down at for a few hours while I wait for her to get home from work, I actually trudged through a bit of slushy snow. SNOW.

Just yesterday I was out running around with the new puppy [I'll get to that news another time..] in a t-shirt and shorts.  Therein lies the 'hate' of my love/hate relationship with Boston.  I've grown really accustomed to the warmer climate of Atlanta, and I've become nothing short of a pansy when it comes to the frigid, grey north.  There's a reason why only college kids thrive up here.  I used to walk around in my Rainbows and a hoodie well into February without batting an eyelash.  It must have been all that Natty Lite that kept us warm at night [kidding...sort of...]. Now, I've resorted to four layers, plus a scarf.  I'll admit, that was a bit excessive, since I had to immediately shed several layers once I was safely in the belly of South Station. 

Okay, rant over.

I really do love it here, and I'm so thankful I get to be back here, even just for a few days.

A new place to walk my dog...the Beltline!

It's here! Well, for the most part: there is the slight issue of a lack of lighting, making night-walks ill advised, along with a couple incomplete areas [it's just walking in a little dirt, no harm there]. But I can finally walk from my block all the way to Piedmont Park! [or in the opposite direction to Old Fourth Ward Park!]  This is huge for me and my neighborhood.  The path is really wide and is perfect for biking, running or walking happy dogs [like mine- see below!]. The walk from my house to the future Ponce City Market location is ONLY around 10 minutes [and that's more like a leisurely stroll], and on that walk I get an incredible view of the Atlanta skyline, along with art installations done by local artists [check out the great street art Kona found below]. Eventually there will be lots of green space lining this thoroughfare, which will make it all the more enjoyable.  

It was weirdly strange walking across the bridge over Ponce, because this is a street I use literally everyday, so having this new perspective on things was fascinating [even though, really, it's just a walking bridge]. The sun was beginning to set over the skyline to my right as I walked with Kona, and despite being a little hot [it's post-Labor Day, if I can't wear white, I shouldn't have to be subjected to the oppressing heat of summer!] the walk was perfect.  I could easily see myself here everyday, taking advantage of one of the many perks of living right in the heart of the city.  

What was funny was there aren't a ton of people who are using the path yet, [this may have to do with the numerous signs saying "CONSTRUCTION ZONE KEEP OUT"] but those who are have the same giddy look about them.  I stopped and chatted with a guy on his bike, along with a group of runners, and we were all so thrilled about the new, fully functional path.  I think my fellow Beltliners are slightly friendlier than your average Atlantan [though compared to up North, people here are generally very pleasant].

Now that the weather will start cooling down [I welcome 80 degree weather with open arms!], I highly encourage you to take a walk [or run, or bike ride] along the Beltline and see what all the buzz is about.

A historic building on the way to The Beltline.
Kona has a great eye for art.
The sun beginning to set over Atlanta.
A new perspective of Paris on Ponce.
Standing on the Ponce bridge, overlooking the future Ponce City Market.
The view towards my house.
Heading back home!

Aruba in 10 Photos.

This says it all.
Now let's play, Where's Waldo?
[except I'm Waldo, minus the red and white striped outfit]

So apparently it's SUPER windy in Aruba, duly noted.
No, my hair doesn't always look this awesome.
The private island: Flamingo Beach. Quiet. Empty. Peaceful. Perfect.
This aqua blue water makes my heart melt. 

The flamingo posse liked to hang out at the other end of the beach.
I still don't know why their knees bend backwards.

The other beach was named after these happy, romaine lettuce loving iguanas.
This guy asked for caesar dressing on the side :ba dum pish:
My personal hammock.  I spent hours laying here, listening to music, reading, sleeping.
If I could love an inanimate object as much as a person, it would be this hammock.

This is Freddie, my Pelican friend.  He kept me company by the hammock.
I probably spent half my trip watching these amazing birds scoop fish out of the water.

These are some very happy sand-covered toes.
[also, check out my sweet tattoo- if only it were real...some day soon!]
When the beach was too hot to handle, I drank Sex on the Beach: my cocktail of choice :)
I also made tasty drinks in the hotel room with the bottle of Admiral Nelson's Coconut Rum I procured [no, I couldn't afford Malibu], along with mango juice and club soda.  Yum.

Aruba brought zen to my life, even if it was just for a few days :)

Travel Photography Clean up: a man and his alphorn.

I've done quite a bit of traveling over the last year and a half.  Mostly for family reasons, sometimes just for fun, but regardless, every trip has been a truly one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience.  I usually go on a photography rampage when I travel, and my little Macbook Pro 13" is getting tired.  I've pretty much maxed her out, and on this most recent trip to Aruba, I had no choice but to go through my 8,000+ photos [this actually being only half of my actual photo collection, since everything pre 2011 is backed up on my external hard drive] and start making decisive cuts.

I get a little trigger happy, especially with the action setting on my SLR, so there are tons of photos that I can part with, since there are 7 or 8 more nearly identical to it.  The other issue is these SLR files are massive.  Gone are the days of my 4 megapixel Canon Elph circa 2001.  I've got to work on continuously editing this opus of photos, but I never seem to keep up with them.  Since I leave for another big trip tomorrow [SO excited for my retirement cruise in Alaska with my Mom!] and I know I'll easily take 500+ photos while I'm there, so I've got to continue the photo purge.  

Therein lies my rediscovery of this Swiss man and his alphorn. I started going through the thousands [yes, thousands] of photos I took while in Europe last summer, and I came upon the day I met my first alphorn player.  This traditional Swiss instrument dates back to the mid 16th century and was used as a mode of communication in mountainous regions throughout Europe.

We had taken a lift up to First Mountain in Grindelwald, and this gentleman arrived right along with us.  We waited in the lodge restaurant, because a heavy cloud cover moved over the mountain, causing nearly zero visibility.  While we waited, I noticed the man pull several wooden tubes out of his small black backpack. I watched as he slowly began to assemble them together. In short order, he  had a nearly 11 foot horn sitting in front of him, right there in the middle of the lodge.  He hoisted this monster horn up and brought it outside, in the thick of the clouds. 

As if by magic, the cloud cover began to dissipate, and he began to play these long, low notes.  I was convinced the vibrations of the horn broke up the clouds and cleared the skies.  A small crowd gathered, and we watched this man create beautiful music alongside the breathtaking mountainside.    It was definitely one of those surreal experiences.  I probably took a hundred photos of the man and his horn, but I saved quite a few, since the intensity on his face was so fascinating.  I love that even years from now, I can still look back at these photos and recall this day.

En Route to Aruba: mystery islands?

I'm back from five glorious days spent basking in the sun and breeze of Aruba.  By far, it was one of the most relaxing trips I've ever been on.  I decided to stay completely off the grid [no cell phone, no internet] for the entire trip, and I feel like my brain has recharged. I've got oodles of breathtaking beach photography to share, but first, I had to address this more pressing matter.  

While flying to Aruba, I had a window seat [by chance since I gave up my original middle seat to a man who wanted to sit with his little boy; kind, yes- but more selfish because I LOVE window seats].  After watching this movie [one which made me rethink and appreciate the beauty of silence- I'm not even being sarcastic and yes this was an Eddie Murphy movie] I looked outside my window and saw this chain of islands [see above].

Since this wasn't one of those fancy planes that had the in-seat GPS tracking every inch of the flight, I had no way of knowing what land mass we were actually flying over.  I performed some in-depth research [four to five minutes of Googling], but had no luck.  In later photos, you can see that parts of this island chain [or archipelago, as my sixth grade social studies teaching brain likes to recall], are definitely inhabited, so I'm just awfully curious as to what mysterious islands I was looking down upon.  The water was so unbelievably crystalline turquoise, I could probably see a large creature in the ocean if I squinted hard enough [I'd still love to see whale sharks in the wild one day!].  

Down to brass tacks: if you or a loved one has any idea of what islands these are, please contact me immediately!  In the meantime, they will remain a mystery. In my mind I will assume they are part of the epic series derivative of LOST [LOST: islands of Atlantis? Let's make it happen...] somehow, and that will temporarily quell any curiosities. 

Continued happy travels and look for more posts on my island getaway to come. 

Leaving on a Jetplane.

I'm so fortunate I get to travel on a fairly frequent basis.  Whether it's for work, or to visit friends, or just to get out of Atlanta for a little while [and on occasion off to anther country!], I'll use any excuse to go on a trip. 

Today, as you read this, I'm either on my way to Aruba [yes, the tropical, Caribbean island!] or I've just arrived there.  I'm off on a girls trip for a few days, where all I plan to do is lay on this very beach [yes, our hotel has its own private island that supposedly has pink flamingos wandering around on it- this BETTER be true, or else I want my money back!]. 

Hopefully I'll get to write some posts from Aruba, though I'm not sure what the wifi situation is like there. It's certainly not free in the hotel room [why is it that only Howard Johnsons and Holiday Inns give out free wifi these days? Seriously, if I'm paying for a higher end hotel- at least give me this ONE amenity! Rant done].

So just in case you don't hear from me for a few days, check out this mix I made.  Yes, it's entirely flight-related.  Some songs are great and I actually like listening to when flying, others not so much, but it's a decent mix.  I'm also working on my beach mix [which involves a lot of Friendly Fires and Bob Marley].

Very shortly after returning from Aruba, I actually make my way to the opposite side of the world [and more importantly, to a drastically different climate] to Alaska.  There will be lots of hiking, white water rafting, [summer] dog sledding, salmon fishing [no, not in the Yemen], bear hunting [not to kill, just to see in the wild!], and so forth.  I need to rest up on the beach, since I'll be very busy in Alaska.  The sun will actually never set when I'm up there, so I'll get to cram lots of nature in one trip.  Can't wait!

Safe travels this summer!

The Flying Mix.

1. Leaving on a Jet Plane - Chantal Kreviazuk
2. Wheels - Foo Fighters
3. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
4. Airplanes - B.o.B.
5. Air Traffic Control - Jets to Brazil
6. A Quick Little Flight - Armor for Sleep
7. One Flight One Flame - The Sleeping
8. Jet Airliner - Steve Miller Band
9. Hawaiian Air - Friendly Fires
10. Air Traffic - Owl City
11. Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
12. On My Way Back Home - Band of Horses