Wednesday, February 28, 2007

As promised

We visited my friend Rita on Saturday and took pictures of Nena.

And CariƱoso.

On Sunday, my children begged Lisa to give them math questions over breakfast. Fortunately, Alex had found a tree full of citrus fruits when he was out on a job last week, so she was able to explain division to Robin. How very Montessori.

We went to the restaurant across the street for Lisa's last night.

This marks the official conclusion of our Awesome Photos by Lisa festival.

We now return to your regularly scheduled Perfectly Acceptable Photos by Jen.

Research Results

Just to be sure, we went ahead and assembled this 1000-piece puzzle under our normal puzzle-doing conditions: Begin after dinner, enjoy it for a while, become tired, consider finishing it in the morning, stick it out and finish late at night.

Thus did we confirm that our normal time for a standard 1000 is, in fact, 7.5 Tucker hours (3h 45m working together).

And now we're done.

Come on over sometime. I'm in the book under pretty much anything you can think of.

I don't actually get a lot of people clicking into this blog from searches. The stats show lots of "unknown" referrals, which means someone typed in the address or used a bookmark rather than clicking on a link somewhere.

Then there are referrals from those blogs out there that have included me in their link lists. A few have begun to show up from Bloglines (where you can subscribe to your list of favorite blogs and then just go to one place to see which ones have updates ready for your reading pleasure. Thanks for the tip, Charlotte!) Some people get here by clicking the "Next Blog" link at the top of another Blogspot blog.

Once in a while, though, someone does a search for something and not only ends up seeing one of my entries among the search results, but also clicks on through to see the full text. Then, as a rule, leaves forthwith.

I don't even find out about all of them, because my free Sitemeter account shows me the 50 most recent referrals, but I don't think it's archived anywhere.

Anyway, all that buildup kind of makes my little search results list seem anti climactic, but here it is anyway:

  • longest hair
  • greece travel
  • flaming microwave popcorn
  • barnyard sex
The end.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

So much to say

So little time (before I go to bed)

Lisa left this morning and I have a number of non-earthshaking bits I've been thinking about posting. However, I stayed up kind of late last night, got up really early this morning, and spent most of the day at a business meeting for the quilt guild.

I don't see posting a whole lot tonight.

But I did want to at least check in with my poor, abandoned bloglings before turning in. Later this week I'll post a couple of pictures from the past week - no travel, but some nice homey shots at least. I'll update you on our Puzzle Research Project and post pictures of my daily commute (inspired by Poppies in Provence and then reinforced by Juliloquy's two-post extravaganza.)

But for tonight, I have only this to say:

Paint the website blue, we're going to Greece!

Conversation has become a little one-sided in the Coasting Richly household over the past 24 hours.

  • "Hey, did you know Greece uses Euros now? No more drachma."
  • "Greece is supposed to be the safest place for a woman traveling alone - not that we will be."
  • "Sounds like Greek coffee is even stronger than Cuban coffee. [We have Cuban neighbors, is how we know about that.] Fortunately, they also have cappuccino."
  • "There sure are a lot of places you can learn the Greek alphabet online, for free."
Oh, you do not want to be around me right now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tucker Hours: 100

At the outset, I predicted that the 5000-piece puzzle would take us at least as long as five 1000-piece puzzles, and probably no longer than twice that.

I was wrong. We figure a 1000 usually takes us around four hours, working together, which would have made for about 20 hours working together (or 40 Tucker hours) for the large one. In fact, it took us a total of 100 Tucker hours but still, with an average of 50 pieces an hour, we feel we've done pretty well.

(I figure it was probably 60/40, by the way, since Lisa generally kept going while I was off cooking, parenting, chauffeuring or acting as Official Secretary to the Surveyor.)

We were right about the missing piece. Actually, there were two. It seems that eBay seller "j_gordon_fan" was not being entirely forthright in his claim that "All pieces are accounted for." But we had fun.

We'd do it again (maybe with a fully interlocking puzzle, though.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Open mike

Alright. There aren't many of you out there, but I think it's clear you're a well-traveled bunch, so I need your advice.

Let's say, hypothetically, that you were planning a trip in, oh, just for the sake of argument, June. Suppose you were going to share this trip with two other adults, and let's just say you had a total budget of $7000. You have no restrictions on time, place or duration.

Where would you go?

Monday, February 19, 2007

An amusing day

We started out small, with paddle boats and the kiddie roller coaster.

Then we let the girls go on the Tilt-a-Whirl, known here as the "Crazy Shells," which...well, let's just say that, ten years ago, it was a Tilt-a-Whirl that made Lisa and I face the fact that we might just be grownups. Fortunately, the girls still have iron stomachs.

Starry eyed.

Then we had our picnic lunch and shared the sandwich crusts with the fish in the paddle boat pond.

The park has an old fashioned "town" with small-scale municipal buildings, church, fire house, farm house, etc.

Going on the first weekend after school began was a good call. There were plenty of people there, but no really long lines for the rides. Except for this one. Had we known in advance that the line would be an hour long, we might have skipped it, but by the time we realized what we had gotten into, the girls were all excited about it, so we stuck it out. We were glad we did.

View from the top

Entrance to the park is free, and you can either get an all-day ride pass for $9, or buy individual ride tickets for about $0.90 each (some rides take two or three tickets). We went in thinking that Lisa and I would mainly just watch the girls go on a bunch of kiddie rides, but at the gate we made the decision to get all-day passes for the grownups too. That turned out to be a good decision because, as we soon learned, both girls are actually tall enough to go on almost all the rides in the park, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. We all got our money's worth out of our fees, and we ended up on a couple of rides that we hadn't necessarily expected to experience. Taking pictures during the ride below was out of the question, but here we are shortly after getting off...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday outing

We're off to the amusement park. Don't expect any puzzle progress today, but you can come back tomorrow for pictures of happy and/or dizzy children!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dear Internets,

Julia would like you to know that she has her first loose tooth.

Lisa would like you to know that we are not looking at the box.

I would like you to know that I have seen a lot of beginners in the dance class at the gym, but I have never seen anyone keep up as well as Lisa did today.

Robin is currently unavailable for comment, but very probably has something to say as well.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Watch this space

Day: 1
Tucker Hours: 0

Day: 1
Tucker Hours: 10

Day: 2
Tucker Hours: 26

Day: 4
Tucker Hours: 35

Day: 5
Tucker Hours: 51

Day: 6
Tucker Hours: 59

Day: 8
Tucker Hours: 75

It's come down to this:

Executive decision: The time has come to look at the box.

Oh dear! We may still have 1000 pieces to go, but it's pretty clear that one is missing.

Day: 9
Tucker Hours: 87

Day: 10
Tucker Hours: 100

Showing admirable restraint...

...I've only posted about ten percent of the photos we've taken so far.


As you know, my sister Lisa and her husband Scott were due in at a very reasonable afternoon hour last Monday, but missed their connection and in fact didn't make it all the way here to my house until close to midnight.

We were planning to leave for the beach the following morning, but opted to lie around the house instead. While we were lolling about we heard this little bird crash into the window, so we spent some time holding it gently while it recombobulated itself.

Other than that, most of Tuesday looked pretty much like this:

By Wednesday we felt up to the trip and set out for the beach. Any trip that relies even partially on street signs like this is bound to be a good one:

Self portrait by Lisa, who spent pretty much the entire trip sitting between the girls:

This is the northernmost part of the gulf that separates the Nicoya Peninsula from the mainland of Costa Rica. There used to be a ferry here, but now there's a bridge. I was expecting quite a long one, since the ferry used to take half an hour or more but, as bridges go, it's actually not one that I would pay any particular attention to in the States. Still, it's presumably Costa Rica's longest bridge (2400 feet according to my own measurements on Google Earth), and it is also the single point in the country that my father in law yearns to see with his own eyes. (He will eventually, but with any luck it will be Alex who makes the trip.)

By the time we got that far, we'd been on the road for nearly four hours, it was well past noon, and were going to be over an hour late meeting Alex at the designated gas station. When I saw the Burger King signs, I knew what had to be done. I was surprised to find that the Burger King wasn't so much built by the side of the road as it was parked there; still, they had a full standard menu and clean bathrooms, so we were in no mood to complain.

We got to the gas station an hour and a half late, but didn't find Alex there. The guy in the office hadn't seen him, so we waited around for 20 minutes or so then left a note for Alex and headed off in the direction he would be coming from. Fortunately, he was running even later than we were, and we met up with him 15 minutes down the road.

We redistributed baggage and passengers, and Scott kindly agreed to drive Lisa and the girls in the Montero while Alex and I continued on in the red car for the last 20 miles of dusty, hole-y gravel washboard road.

We stopped to let the minnows nibble Julia's toes (Robin's toes were reluctant to participate and the grownups opted to keep their shoes on.)

This. This was done on purpose. It ended well, but I'd be lying if I said some of us didn't have second thoughts at some point near the middle.

Happy to be there.

Just in time for sunset!

These little cuties (they're small) were clinging to the ceiling of the open-air restaurant, and chirped occasionally while we had our dinner. Unfortunately, the geckos, some stray dogs and a couple of cows constituted the entirety of the wildlife for the evening. We did go out to the beach after dark to look for the nesting turtles that this beach is famous for, but found not a one.

After breakfast and a morning romp on the beach, we headed for our next stop. Fortunately, the extent of our car troubles for the trip consisted of having the dirt road shake the bolts right out of the roof rack on the Montero. We stopped to buy some new ones and all was well.

Back over the bridge...

We stopped to enjoy our first real glimpse of Lake Arenal, which was built in the 70s. The Costa Rican government bought out the valley and dammed it up to create the 20-mile long lake for the hydroelectric project that now provides most of the country's electrical power. There are underwater ghost villages at the bottom of the lake!

It was full dark by the time we got to Arenal Volcano. We did see one glowing lava flow while we were still on the road, but it was clouded over by the time we got to our hotel. Fortunately, it was beautiful and clear the next morning. (Alex missed this part, because he headed back to the coast to return to his survey project.)

After breakfast and a dip in the pool for the girls, we packed up and drove to the hot springs that Alex and I went to once when he was down for a visit, and which is now a permanent part of the Quilt Retreat itinerary.

The girls are both high-order wimps when it comes to warm bath water, but kept right up with all the grownups when it came to lounging around in the hot springs, including the hottest pools (41 C / 105 F). Go figure.

Then we drove home. Lisa was taking pictures out the window of the moving car, and we later discovered cows in pretty much every picture.

We stopped for a few minutes to see the topiary bushes at the park in Zarcero and made it down to the main highway just before dark.

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