getting settled: taking care of feet, computer space, transport & the hair disaster

Saturday, July 27:  First things first: I must get a pedicure.  I head out first thing this morning to take care of this essential piece of business. I have to explain to the Vietnamese ladies at Paradise Nails where I’ve been the last year, as I had to do last year when I was home and the year before.  I’m a regular there, but obviously not too regular in the last 3 years.

Then I head to the Apple Store at Reston Town Center to find out about getting more space on my hard drive.  All during my last months in Oman and my entire trip through Spain and Portugal, I’ve been receiving messages on my MacBook Pro:  Your startup disk is full!  I have been deleting files right and left, but I’ve now reached the point where I have nothing else I want to delete.

The Apple Store directs me to go to Micro Center in Fairfax, as they are the authorized service dealer.  Oh dear, here begins my driving to and fro in northern Virginia to do annoying errands!  To buy the new hard drive costs me $80 and to have them install it and clone all my stuff to the new hard drive will cost $150.  Already, my hard-earned money is flowing right out of my pocket into things I don’t want to buy!  But these are the necessities of life and the money must be spent.  There are so many other things I’d rather spend money on; this is certainly NOT one of them.

It will take them about 3 hours to do this process, so I’m without a computer for a while.  Throughout the rest of the day, I keep getting phone calls from Micro Center telling me it’s taking much longer than they anticipated; apparently there are a lot of pictures that are very slow to transfer over.  Surprise, surprise!  It turns out the computer will not be ready until tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, Mike has gone on an 88 mile bike ride with his biking club and I am still trying to fight my way through the disaster in the basement.  This will keep me occupied for weeks, so it’s a good thing I don’t have to start work yet!

When Mike returns home, he does a bunch of research online about the list of cars I’ve told him I’d be interested in buying.  He wants me to buy a slightly used Toyota Corolla because he feels it would be the best value for the money.  I have told him I’d be interested in a Fiat, or a Toyota Matrix or Camry.  We already have a 1997 Toyota Camry and a 2004 Toyota Sienna, and so we head straight to Ourisman Toyota, where we meet the very laid back salesman, Kofi from Uganda.  I’m immediately attracted to a black Toyota Corolla; the new ones are so nice!  After test driving the Corolla, I think it’s perfect.  Especially with the new touch screens for audio and the Bluetooth! 🙂

We decide then and there to buy a brand new 2013 black Toyota Corolla. I’m never one to linger over car decisions; every time I’ve ever bought a car, I’ve just gone out in one fell swoop and bought one!  We take the money I got from the sale of my GMC Terrain in Oman and Mike contributes the same amount again, and we sit for hours buying the car.

my new Corolla
my new Corolla

As you can see, Mike is not very happy with the time it takes to do all of this, mainly because he hardly ate anything today after his 88-mile bike ride and is starving.

Mike at Ourisman Toyota
Mike at Ourisman Toyota

I drive the Corolla right off the lot.  We also bought, suckers that we are, the Environmental Protection Plan, which means I will need to bring back the car for treatment one day this week.

Sunday, July 28: Today, I must run more errands.  This seems to be the nature of my life in Virginia.  Oh how I remember this, and hate it.  I have to go pick up my computer, which is now cloned.  The only problem is that a product key is needed to activate Microsoft Office on the new hard drive.  I search the house high and low and can’t find the packaging for the Microsoft Office I bought in 2011, so now it looks like I will have to buy it again.  So irritating!

The rest of the day, I spend tackling the basement.  Unbelievable.  This clutter and disorganization is so annoying and claustrophobic after my nice clean and spare house in Oman.  Things are piling up in the garage right and left as I dispose of anything and everything in my path.  I figure anything I give to charity will benefit someone else, and any money we spent on this stuff is a sunk cost anyway.  I can’t debate or tell myself maybe we should keep this for a time when we might need it.  It simply has to go!  I’m on a rampage.

Tuesday, July 30:  Next thing, I must get my hair fixed.  It’s a mess.  I spent tons of money in Oman first getting a cut and highlights and low lights.  Six weeks later, I had it straightened; the chemicals from that process basically destroyed the original highlights and low lights and turned my hair yellow.  It was too late to do anything about it before I went on my holiday, so I had to live with it during my entire trip.  Today, to remedy the situation, I head to my trusty Diane T Salon in Vienna to get a decent cut and highlights and low lights again. I tell her to make the low lights darker and chunkier, instead of in fine strands like she usually does them.  She follows my instructions and I personally like the effect, but when I get home, Alex says, “Wow, nice hairdo.  You look like a zebra!”  What??  Oh my gosh!  Kids will say the darndest things, but I run into the bathroom and look in the mirror.  I guess he’s right, I slightly resemble a zebra. 🙂

Out in the front yard, I take a picture of Alex with my new car, and then he takes a picture of me, the zebra, with my new car.  Joy. 🙂

Alex with my new car
Alex with my new car
Zebra-lady with her new car
Zebra-lady with her new car

In the afternoon, I attend an iPhone class at the Verizon Wireless store, where I discover the thrilling things that I can now do on my new iPhone.  Welcome to the modern age!

the iPhone class
the iPhone class

weekly photo challenge: urban ~ reston town center

Monday, August 27:  Today my son Alex and I venture out to lunch for some “togetherness time” at the Panera in Reston Town Center, a kind of “suburban downtown.”

Alex at Fountain Square

The Town Center is a planned urban area in the middle of what used to be a mostly rural area, between Washington, D.C. and Washington Dulles International Airport.  The idea was to create a space more vertical than horizontal, a downtown area for people who didn’t want to fight the traffic to go into Washington.

the Promenade

Reston Town Center was conceived in the late 1970s by Mobil Land Development. Construction of the town center began in 1988. The first wave of construction was completed in October 1990. Construction continued periodically into 2009, creating an ever-expanding downtown area rising up out of the planned community of Reston.

the corner of Market St. and Discovery St.

Reston Town Center is designed with open avenues and wide sidewalks. It is built around Fountain Square, an open area between the surrounding shops and restaurants. The main landmark in Fountain Square is Mercury Fountain, designed by Brazilian-born sculptor Saint Clair Cemin.  The 20’ fountain is crowned with a bronze figure of Mercury, the Greek Messenger God, with water flowing from bronze ‘trumpets’ along the column. Lush plants, low seating and broad steps make this area very inviting to pedestrians (Reston Town Center).

Mercury Fountain

Directly in front of Mercury Fountain is Market Street, and across the street is the Pavilion. The Pavilion doubles as a covered open-air ice rink during the winter and as a concert and event venue throughout the rest of the year.

the Pavilion and a colorful florist van

The center is surrounded by free parking that includes one-hour street parking and garage parking.

one of many parking garages and an apartment building

According to its official website, Reston Town Center combines elements of the ideal downtown, the “vitality of an Italian piazza and the diversity of a French boulevard.” The popular spot in the Northern Virginia suburb of Reston is the closest thing to a “downtown” in the area and continues to expand, attracting new residential and business clients.

Window shopping at Williams & Sonoma
a little taste of France in Reston

It now boasts more than 50 retail shops and 30 restaurants.  Many of the restaurants have outdoor seating under umbrellas or trees, giving the Town Center a bit of a European feel.

Paolo’s outdoor seating
Clyde’s outdoor seating

In addition, Reston Town Center has a 13-screen cinema and a Hyatt Regency hotel.

the multiplex cinema

Since the most recent phase of construction in 2009, Reston Town Center, has also become a desirable location for businesses and residences. Among brand name companies who now have offices at Reston Town Center are Google and Rolls-Royce North America. Meanwhile, luxurious high-rise condominiums have led to an influx of young professionals, creating a city-like downtown atmosphere (Wikipedia: Reston Town Center).

my shopping paradise: Anthropologie

I have frequented Reston Town Center for years, since it first opened in 1990.  I have seen the little “downtown” expand over the years to increasingly resemble a real city.  There are now too many great restaurants to count, some of my favorites being Paolo’s and The Big Bowl.  Some of my favorite stores are here as well, including South Moon Under, J. Crew, Anthropologie, and Banana Republic.

one of my favorite stores: South Moon Under
Mercury Fountain from outside the Town Center looking into Market Square

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:  Urban. The idea behind urban photography is to photograph your city and the streets where you grew up as they are. Unlike the photoshopped pictures to which we are accustomed nowadays, urban photography presents a more direct, unaltered view of life. It is about documenting urban living space and how people adapt their environment to certain needs and vice versa. Urban photography shots provide cultural, social, economical, and ecological context all at once, and can capture social tension.

Think of urban photography as a complement to street photography—it provides the context in which street photography unfolds.

Share a photo that means URBAN to you!

groovin’… on a sunday afternoon

Sunday, August 5:

There’s always lots of things that we can see
We can be anyone we want to be
And all those happy people we could meet just . . .
Groovin’ . . . on a Sunday afternoon

~The Young Rascals

This afternoon,  Mike gets back from his “recovery bike ride,” a 33 mile, 1 3/4 hour ride to recover from his 80 mile, 5 hour ride the day before.  He then starts to tackle the weeding in our yard, which is not too dissimilar from hacking through a jungle with a machete.  While weeding, he takes a few breaks to demonstrate Bailey’s head-butting ability with the soccer ball, where he tosses the ball to Bailey and Bailey knocks it back to him with his nose.  (Note that there is no offer by me to volunteer to help with the weeding…one of many chores I hate with a passion, especially in Virginia’s August humidity).

Mike tosses the ball to Bailey
Bailey knocks the ball back to Mike ~ it’s almost like watching a real “football” match!
Bailey and the love of his life ~ his ball

A little later on this Sunday afternoon, as twilight begins to settle over Virginia, Mike and the boys and I head to Busara, a Thai restaurant at Reston Town Center, to meet Mike’s mother and sister for dinner.  Luckily, Busara has a lot of vegan options, although Nana and Barbara don’t choose to be limited by the boys’ self-imposed vegan diet.

vegetable spring rolls at Busara
Mike at Busara
Mike’s mom, Shirley
Alex sampling his green salad
my eggplant pad ped (with basil) ~ YUMMY!!
vegetable fried rice
Tofu pad thai
Mike’s sister Barbara

After fully enjoying our meal, we head back to our house where we play Bananagrams, a word game where lettered tiles are used to spell words.  Game play involves arranging one’s tiles into a grid of connected words faster than one’s opponents. The object of the game is to be the first to complete a word grid after the pool of tiles has been exhausted. The tiles come in a fabric, banana-shaped package.

Adam strategizes with his Bananagrams tiles
Adam and Alex at a rousing game of Bananagrams!
my pathetic attempts to make words

The Olympics are on the TV in the background as we play the game.  We get caught up watching Jessica Ennis of Britain wrap up the gold for the heptathlon in the 800 meter run.

Adam and the Olympics
Jessica Ennis of Britain wraps up the gold for the heptathlon, after winning the 800 meter

Our family is definitely a “game-playing” kind of family. Over the years, we’ve played Guesstures, Ticket to Ride, Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, Scattergories, Yahtzee, Farkle, Balderdash, Pictionary, Charades, Chinese Checkers and Taboo.

What about your family?  Do you like to play games? What are some of your favorites?