• Allie and Ryan

    Allie & Ryan

  • Allie and Ryan 2

    Allie & Ryan

  • Allie and Ryan 3

    Allie & Ryan

  • Ryan and Allie 4

    Allie & Ryan

  • Ryan and Allie 5

    Allie & Ryan

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014



Happy Easter!

For the first time I can remember I am working on Easter Sunday. It has been extremely quiet here at the library, but we have had patrons... at least 30-40 have been in throughout the day. Most people were just using the computers to print something out but it has been extremely quiet at the circulation desk. I have caught up on a lot of projects, practiced for my interview Tuesday, and cleared the carts of books we had up here. It is definitely different from a usual weekend here! I also had a very interesting lecture by an elderly gentleman about Crucifixion. I suppose wearing my Catholic University hoodie sort of set me up for that one...

Last night Ryan and I attended the Easter Vigil service. Usually it is my favorite mass of the year. I love watching the chuch flicker in candle light, hearing the Genesis readings, the gorgeous music and people entering the church for the first time through baptism or confirmation. I was spoiled growing up in a beautiful and welcoming church. My mom was our parish secretary and I knew almost everyone. I was a lector (reader) at mass from my teenage years through adulthood and I altar served and sang in the choir as a kid. It is the church I made my first communion, reconciliation, confirmation and got married in. It was home. I don't think I will ever feel so connected to a parish again, I hope I will, but I have yet to find it. Neither Virginia nor North Carolina have yet. At all.

The vigil service was long, I mean way longer than normal, nearly three hours. The music was alright but most of it unfamiliar... a reading was read twice and one was skipped (hey, I pay attention!) and Ryan and I were both starving by the end. The most beautiful part for me was the RCIA candidates. We had ten... ten.... people baptized into the church ranging from 6 to 60 years old. It was beautiful! Plus another seven on top of that received first communion and confirmation... seventeen people solidified their faith last night in my presence and I cried tears of joy witnessing it. Like I said, beautiful. But I was also homesick for the church I grew up in and missing the familiar as well as my family. I missed having a small reception with my church of cookies and other things late in the evening after the vigil... a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings isn't usually the most Easter-y of celebrations! I miss kielbasa and pierogies (even though there may be some in my freezer from Babci... hm... I'll have to check that out).

This is the first Easter I have spent without my parents and brother. Working this weekend made the trip impossible for either of us. I know I am an adult and married, but when your whole life centers around some traditions and familiarity it is hard to let go sometimes. This was the one holiday we always managed to make work, even since I have been married... but not this year. I know, one of many in my future, but it is still a little sad. I am so grateful Ryan made pisanki with me and accompanied me to mass (especially since he isn't Catholic, I know it isn't a walk in the park for him) and I appreciate it so much.

My heart is just a little heavier this year during a time it is usually flying and singing. I love Easter, what it means in my faith and family, but this year it is just hovering a little lower.

I didn't intend to sound so gloomy and down in this post, my apologies. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a Happy Easter (if you celebrate).


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Slacking

I have been severely slacking on my blog lately. Sometimes I think, I should really blog about this... but then I don't. I have had more free time since the show ended, but I have been spending it with Ryan basically. And working. And back in the gym :P. I feel my blog suffering, I know I have lost readers (half my trip entries didn't even get a single comment) and I am not sure where to go from here really.

Do I want to keep this blog about me? Just something I enjoy, people read and interact on, and family can see a bit more of what we are up to? Or do I want to broaden my horizons... make it more about readership or even profit? Reviews and give aways and link ups... oh my! I honestly just don't know.

I have a lot on my mind at the moment and most of it really is not blogworthy. Ryan has een submitting his package for an SDA (or b-billet of sorts) to hopefully better his chances of picking up/staying in. He wants to be a security forces instructor but if that doesn't pan out then he will try for recruiting duty. Things keep getting shuffld and pushed around so we really have no idea what will happen, they won't even look at things until May. Hurry up and wait once again.

I am applying for a higher position within the library, a level two position that is full time in reference. As much as I love working in tech services the extra money of going up a level and to full time will really help us out. I have my interview Tuesday, so fingers crossed!

At the moment I am working circulation for the weekend... Easter weekend. I am pretty bummed to be working Easter, full hours, but they have been so accomodating with my schedule (between our trip, weddings and other things) I wouldn't dare complain. Easter is a special time for me (being Catholic and all) so I am trying to do everything I can while still working. Pisanki were made last night, mass is still being attended, and tons of smidgens are being eaten. It's a start right?
 
Ryan's pisanki are the four in the top row, mine are the five on the bottom row.

For all of you still around, thanks for sticking with me. I don't want to abandon my blog, four years of my life have gone into this thing, but I hope I will invigorate it a bit more in the near future.

Stay tuned my friends.

And Happy Easter.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Show Time

One of my favorite things in the world is having the opportunity to act and be on stage. It is definitely one of my life's passions and thankfully my husband is patient enough to deal with me being gone at night for months at a time and knowing the week pre show is a time we barely cross paths! As soon as we returned from our trip I jumped right into rehearsals fro A Doll's House where I was playing Mrs. Kristine Linde... a fun role pretty different from my usual ones  but I liked it a lot!


And no, I wasn't a brunette for the show, but our stage manager had some fun wigs for us to play with! Maybe one day if I am brave enough I will get bangs... or dye my hair again!


It is also a time to wear a lot, a lot, of make up! Luckily we had someone on make up this time because I am pretty terrible at it!

Our cast and crew were incredible... I loved getting to work with old friends and meet some new ones too! We tried to make Ibsen not so insufferable or stuffy so we actually set it in Barbie's Dream House. Nora constantly talks about being a doll, hence the title, so we played on it and went with it. We were also judged twice by adjudicators from the AC KCTF (American College Kennedy Center Theatre Festival) where students can be picked for scholarship opportunities and the show could go on to perform at the festival itself. I am not eligible obviously since I am not a student but it is still cool to get feedback from professionals!



The originals! Donna and Mel and I worked on The Mousetrap together two years ago!
Below are my costumes from Act I, Act II and Act III. The jewelry and shoes were mine as was the Act III dress but our designer said I could keep everything for once! Our costume designer was, er, wealthy and basically ignored her given budget and insisted we keep anything we wanted. Totally new experience for me!

Curtain Call
I wasn't in the paper like I was with the Mousetrap but I did make the online article version they posted! I am just in the background but it's still neat.


After the last show our costume designer insisted on taking everyone to Marrakesh for dinner. It was delicious! I was starving so I ate everything on my plate. We had flatbread and dips first then I had the three meat special with Shwarma, chicken kebobs, beef kebobs, rice and cucumber salad. Oh YUM.


For dessert I could not say no to baklava either.... fluffy, sweet and so delicious!


My parents came Saturday night and Ryan came both Friday and Saturday. The beautiful flowers they both gave me are sitting next to me as I type. Saturday night was our best audience and biggest.... 75 kids from the high school on base came and were such a wonderful audience. They laughed, gasped, and even clapped after a scene Felix and I had at the top of act III. It blew me away. Our judge even said if you can engage that many high schoolers you did something right.


I had this week to relax, no gym or rehearsal or anything else but work and time with Ryan. It's been really really nice. The library is open again too, construction complete. And the weather is finally back on track too, hello 80 degrees (to be fair I wrote this all Friday for publishing Monday so that may not last)!! I will take it! Hopefully now I can blog more regularly too. Whew.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Europe - Naples and Pompeii


Day 12 - Naples and Pompeii Italy

We woke up in Naples pretty excited to get some pizza. Honestly we didn't get pizza anywhere else on the trip, solely saving our taste for Napoli and Napoli alone! Luckily Naples is a port city so we were able to walk off the ship and right into the city. And walk we did!

We decided to try Da Michelle (if any of you read Eat, Pray, Love it should sound familiar) and got directions from the information center. It was a pretty far walk and when we got in the area we couldn't find it! At this point we were starving so we decided to pick another place. As long as there was a wood burning pizza oven we were good. Our destination ended up being Cafe Iris.

 It was barely 11am so naturally we were the only ones there. It was a little chilly in the morning so we opted to eat inside.
 We did sit at those tables after eating though and people watched for a bit! I got myself another orange fanta, amazing, and eagerly awaited our pizza.



Oh. My. God. It was so delicious. Probably the best pizza I have ever had.  I really wish we each had ordered one because it would so have been worth being overly full! The cheese was perfect and gooey and the crust had just the right texture.... the sauce, the basil.... all of it was amazing. Pizza Margarita ala Napoli, WIN. For dessert we walked up to the glass display and picked out what we wanted via pointing. I ended up with a strawberry profiterole that was literally SOAKED in alcohol. If we had a match this thing would have totally worked flambe. But it was still good.


Naturally Ryan had another espresso.
Afterwards we wandered back through the city to the boat. We had a shore excursion to Pompeii at 1300 so we had about an hour to wander along. We went through the city to get to the cage and chose to wander back down to the port and follow the water going back. Naples was a typical big city, if you're smart you're fine, and we had no problems exploring.


  Once we got back to the terminal we waited until our bus arrived and got on our way to Pompeii!



 The bus ride was beautiful once we got outside of the city. Below was our first view of Mount Vesuvius. We learned the volcano, pre-eruption, was nearly twice as high and most of it caved in during the eruption. It was pretty massive anyway so imagining it twice as high was difficult to do.


 When we got into Pompeii our tour first stopped at a cameo shop called Donadio for a demonstration. I never knew cameos were made out of seashells! Am I alone in this? We watched a video and then an elderly gentleman gave us a demonstration before we wandered down to explore the store.





 Ryan insisted I pick one out, and I thought he was joking. He wasn't. He insisted it would be something we could have forever and pass down one day. So I ended up buying a beautiful brooch (which can also be a necklace) of the Virgin Mary and a light blue background. It is sitting in a gorgeous box in our china cabinet across from me as I type. I am so glad he convinced me to get it. After that we made our way into Pompeii. A huge portion of Pompeii is still underground. The portion above ground gets most of the money to keep it weather proofed and preserved. Their logic is that it survived thousands of years underground so those portions of the city are perfectly preserved, so for now they will stay that way and they will work on keeping what is above ground standing as long as possible.





 I had visited Pompeii when I studied abroad about a year before Ryan and I met and this was his first visit. I was so excited to go back and share this with him. I am a total nerd for history and even though it was my second visit I had an amazing time!

Naturally our first stop was in the theatre so I had to have my picture taken in there! It was a little chilly still!
 The floor of the theatre is perfectly preserved and absolutely gorgeous. They asked if we noticed any rocks, trash, pebbles etc to please pick them up and toss them away from the floor, that is all we can do to keep it gorgeous!


The theatre in Pompeii in panorama, thank you iPhone!
Ryan has to KCCO in Ancient Pompeii!
 Below you can see the grooves in the road made by all the wagon wheels. Carts would straddle big rocks that worked basically as raised sidewalks (remember, no plumbing or sewers in most of the town) so this kept everyone above the crap. Literally. The carriages wheels would fit perfectly between the steps.


This was the equivalent of a "fast food" restaurant. The counter was found intact but there wasn't a seating area, so they used to grab and go food here.


Pompeii has a lot of wild dogs that follow tour groups around, especially kids, hoping for a snack. They're so cute!


 We also got to explore some of the villas of the Pompeii elite. The remarkable thing was so many of the villas still have the frescoes painted on the walls! Red and yellow paint were a little more common, blue paint was a big sign of wealth because it was very rare.



Parts of Pompeii are excavated even further to show another city just below the one buried in 79 AD! So an older, more ancient city is currently being discovered beneath the current Pompeii.

 Below is the family's altar to the gods where they placed daily sacrifices and tributes.

This family was so wealthy they owned a table that belonged to Picasca Longa, one of the senators that killed Julius Caesar!  Most of the murderers were punished, including having their belongings and property sold off, so having a table that belonged to him was a big status symbol of wealth and power for sure.



See, blue walls = MAJOR wealth!
After the villa we wandered a bit more and I took a ton of pictures. I am trying to not overload this post, and failing miserably.


 Of course one of the most famous part of Pompeii are the plaster casts of the people. When the scientists discovered Pompeii the ash had solidified and wherever people were left openings. The people obviously decomposed long ago but left holes in the solid, concrete like ash. One man realized if you poured plaster into the holes you would get a perfect casting of the person who had been in there. So all the casts are solid plaster, no remains actually inside, which a lot of people do not realize.


Ryan sitting around the hall of the bath house with a new friend...

Bath house
Next we went to the, um... delicate word.... ah, brothel. Pompeii was a port town so sailors came from all over the world and spoke many languages. So they would just point to the fresco on the wall to "order" what "service" they wanted. Naturally those frescoes survived and are a big deal in Pompeii (they're even on decks of cards in the gift shop. Seriously).

A cool fountain we passed going to the forum, copper piping still visible!
 Our last stop in Pompeii was the forum, the big central area of the town were markets, senates and big events happened. The slave market was believed to be there as well as many of the temples. Vesuvius is very easily visible in the background.



I spy with my little eye the top of a statue of the God Jupiter within the ruins of his temple...


On the side of the forum, in where they believe the slave market actually was, all the archeological finds are stored. Tons of bowls, vases, statues and knick knacks are visible. Below is a plaster cast of a dog they found.
 

One of the more famous casts people recognize. Most people in Pompeii suffocated from the ash and gasses, not death by lava like a lot of people think. This person covering their mouth and nose shows that.

This cast is of a young, pregnant woman. :(
 We were able to wander and see the casts and things before we went back to try and get some shopping done before the bus returned.


Leaving Pompeii
We hurried back down to our meeting area to get some souvenirs... the cameo (which we had to go back and pay for since their credit card machine went down), chocolate for my brother, Limoncello for us as well as a Christmas ornament made with volcano ash for us and something for Ryan's sister which she hasn't gotten yet so I won't say on here! We had some time left so we got.... another pizza! Not as good as the first but still damn good!

Afterwards we took the bus back to the boat and prepared for our last night on ship. We showered and packed before heading down to the cigar bar to meet all of our friends. Kristii and Debbie joined us at Alizar for dinner and then we all went to the buffet to be part of the chocolate party! Everything was chocolate and amazing.
I was so full but I managed to have Prosecco (with a ring of chocolate for garnish on the glass) and some truffles. And a cookie. I loved looking at all the chocolate and sugar sculptures they made too. We went back to the cigar bar, listened to our favorite piano guy, and stayed up way, way too late, but we wanted to maximize our time with everyone. All too soon it was pre dawn and we were off the ship trying for find our luggage (packed and removed the night before) and get on our bus back to Rome.

We had a long wait at the airport for the security and baggage check areas to actually open but once we got inside, got food and caffeine it was better. It was a long flight back, especially since on my spotty wifi I first got a glimpse that my aunt had taken a turn for the worst and was entering hospice, but I had a 10 hour flight before I could call my mom and talk to her. When I landed in Phili I had texts and voicemails from my mom saying to call her and that was when I heard officially.... so like I said, a long, long flight. I didn't sleep at all, just watched the movies (Enough Said and the second Percy Jackson) and read my books and ate when they offered.

Our last view flying out of Rome. Very different from when we got over land in America and it was all covered in WHITE. Snow everywhere. Luckily we got to Raleigh with no delays, but the two hour drive home became a four and a half hour drive due to the snow and ice!

But that, lovely and oh so patient readers, is the end of our world wide adventure. It was an amazing experience, a trip of a lifetime, and I am so blessed Ryan and I were able to do this together. Sorry it took me almost three months to finish the story. Thanks for reading!



You can follow along with all of the entries from our trip here!