Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 115

Well, the month of August is gone. September dawns bright and early tomorrow. And the next day is Hubby's 50th birthday. Most of our friends gave him birthday wishes last Saturday evening since many of them are in England, Ireland, and Scotland for the next 2 or 3 weeks. It was fun and I surprised him by inviting a couple that he hasn't seen in a while.

Tomorrow is Cleaning day at the Dentist for me and I also have an appointment to get my eyes checked. I took the whole day off from work, so hopefully I can get some house cleaning done also. Hubby and I did the yard work this past weekend and boy am I still tired. We have a very big yard. I still have a flower bed or two that need weeding, but I just haven't had the time.

I have been spending a lot of my spare time looking on the internet for a house in the Valdosta area. We would like to get a "cheap foreclosure" and move closer to where we both work. But the one we found that we both are willing to take a really good look at, seems to already be "under contract". However, the sign in the front yard does not say that, so I am hoping that it is still available. It would require a LOT of work, but it is something we could possibly do. Please say a little prayer that we can find a bargain.

I finished the baby quilt that I was working on and took it's picture. I have tried to put it on this site but am having a bit of trouble. I will try again. Well, as you can see, I succeeded in getting the picture on the page, just NOT where I wanted it. I seem to have a bit more studying to do about this blogging thing. Anyway, maybe you can get an idea of what the quilt looks like and let me know what you think.

Looks like we might be heading to the mountains this weekend. Hubby has Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Labor Day) off. I have to work until noon on Saturday, but we just might head for Douglass Lake after that. We haven't been up to my sister's house in a while.

It's late and I am tired, so it is off to dream land for me. Hope you have a good night also.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 110

Wow, where has the week gone? It's already Thursday evening and I can't believe it. For one thing, I have to weight tomorrow and I am not looking forward to that. I have been bad this week. Cookies everyday. Yup, left overs from the Customer Appreciation Week at the Bank. So I have partaken of them daily this week and I KNOW it is not going to be good. I knew it when I ate them but I ate them just the same. I also have a doctor's appointment on the 29th of September so I better whip myself back into shape quickly.

Speaking of doctor's appointments, I have an appointment to get my teeth cleaned and my eyes checked on the same day. September 1st. Guess I will just have to take the whole day off from work, oh Darn!!! Then on September 22nd I have to take the morning off to go to Tallahassee for blood work for the appointment on the 29th.

Another appointment I had recently was for a hair cut. I have this awesome hairstylist and he told me Tuesday afternoon (after he was done cutting my hair, go figure) that he LOVES to play with hair and work miracles on people. I had picked out a style that my hair was just not quite long enough to do, but he tried and in the end we did something a bit different than what I thought I wanted. It isn't too bad, but my hair is just not as thick and doesn't have the body it used to have and that makes me very sad. I just can't imagine how I am going to look bald and if it keeps coming out at the rate it has the past 5 years, I will BE bald in 5 more. I am going to mention this to my doctor next month. See if we can't do something about it in time to prevent the worlds worst from happening.

I finished the baby quilt for the online store. I found the mint green and it turned out very nice if I do say so myself. I showed it to some of my fiends recently and they complimented me on the color selections. There comment was that they would never have thought to put those colors together, but they were VERY Pretty. I should be able to get a picture of it on here very soon, as Hubby presented me with a new digital camera last night that I can actually download the pictures directly into my computer. Once I finish reading the handbook and install the software, it will be pictures for the Blog!!! Can't wait. But I want to be certain that I know what I am doing and not mess up both the camera and the computer. If anyone could do that it would certainly be me.

I restarted on the special order afghan that has to be finished by Oct 7th. I have succeeded in getting one full skein of yarn reworked. This time I am working along the long side of the piece rather than the short side. So it will have a lengthwise pattern rather than the width-wise one I had before. I think the new pattern, while more simple, will be softer and more cuddly. I just hope they like it.

I also started on the soap bags that my daughter requested. I am not entirely certain what size to make them as I don't have any measurements. But I figure that a regular bar of soap should be about the same size. The first one is a variegated cotton yarn with blue, tan, brown, and green in it. I also have a red, white, and pink variegated yarn for another one. I am working on these at work on my lunch break as they are MUCH easier to transport to and from.

I looked at the Etsy.com site the other evening and boy there is a lot of stuff to read there. I want to be certain that I understand all the regulations and requirements before I jump in. But I have to admit that after a full day of working on a computer and with LOTS of paperwork, I don't have much interest in digging into something like this. So it will probably be a while before I open an Etsy store.

Well, I guess that will do it for me tonight. Hubby will have a birthday on September 2nd and it will be his big 50. So I am working on a few ideas for that this week. Later

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 106

Good Morning!
Friday was an interesting but stressful day. Someone started a rumor that our bank was closing for good. Needless to say, we were swamped with phone calls and customers asking if it was true. Some people even withdrew their money. This was the same day that the market president and another officer chose to visit us. We actually asked him about the rumor and he had not heard about it. But boy he did over a thousand times before the day was out. The switchboard was jammed with calls and all the branches were trying to put down the rumor. Hubby was so sweet when I got home, he had heard the rumor also and ordered take out for dinner.

Saturday was a MUCH better day. It started out very slow and Sarah and I were worried that people had believed the rumor and thought we WERE closed. But around 10:30 it picked up and was constant until we closed a little after Noon. We only had a couple of folks ask about it that day.

We generally have dinner with 3 or 4 other couples on Saturday night, but this week 2 of those couples were shopping for their trip to the UK. One of the others had plans to have dinner with other friends already so Hubby took me out. We elected to go to Ryan's buffet in Valdosta. It isn't the same as the Ryan's Steakhouses across the country, but it has awesome meatloaf that Hubby really likes and I adore the fried chicken. After that we visited the newly remodeled Walmart looking for cheap videos. We collect the old movies (have over 300 now!) and wanted to see what they had in the $5 bin. We found two that Hubby liked; I can't remember what they were right now.

After that we cruised around town looking at some of the neighborhoods that have houses for sale. We didn't find anything on our list that we really liked so I guess I will keep looking. After we got home I spent some time looking online for houses for sale in Valdosta and found one that could be a real steal if it is in as good a shape as the add suggests and is in a good neighborhood. It has over two thousand square feet of living space on a half acre of land and actually is in our price range. I hope we can go look for it today. We generally have breakfast in town on Sundays so we will see.

Living in the country has its ups and downs. A few days ago Hubby came home after dark to find himself face to face with a beautiful red fox in our garage area. (Up) However a couple of days ago we were both working on our computers when we heard the wind chimes tinkle and Hubby found a small oak snake in the office! (definately a down!) I am still trying to figure out how it got into the house. I know it isn't the tightest house in the world (rather old) but I still don't see how the little guy got in. However, Hubby caught him and took him outside and down the road a ways and let him go. They aren't dangerous, but they do stink. (And I am not a fan of snakes of any kind, and especially inside the house.)

As for the crafting, I tore out two skeins of yarn on the afghan that I am making for a special order because I didn't really like the pattern. I better find a new pattern soon as the piece has to be done by October 7th. I also got the baby afghan that Hubby is going to put online for sale almost done. I just don't like the color I started with on the final row. So it is off to the store to pick up something that will look better. Hope I can find the mint green that I want to use.

That's about all the excitement from around here for today. But it is still early, we'll see.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 102

Well, Hubby and I have been home from Canada for 12 days now. It is time to start looking forward to Las Vegas!!! Yep, just 48 days until we fly off to a long weekend in the city that never sleeps. We will be staying as the Sahara again this year as they have granted us a couple of free nights. I really wanted to stay at the Main Street Station and see all the antiques again, but free nights at Sahara won out. That will help to hold down the costs. Hubby booked the tickets a while ago so we got really good rates on the flight.

He has also researched the things to do in the area; we will be visiting a few caves not far away and a real old western goldrush town. Apparently this town (Oatland) has gunfights in the street and wild burros running loose. When we go to Vegas we try to see a lot of the nature type stuff during the day and the city/casino type stuff at night. Some of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen were in the desert.

We have been to Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, Monument Valley and The Petrified Forest on past trips. We have also spent time on Mount Charleston, in Red Rock Canyon and The Valley of Fire. We have lots of photographs on the website, whosphotography.com, if anyone wants to take a peek.

The year we made the trip in the spring was wonderful! The desert was in bloom and it was the most beautiful sight. Color everywhere. And of course the ground out there is colorful all by itself. Rainbow Garden is a barren mountain side with layers of different colored rocks that form beautiful designs. The road to see it is dirt and therefore really dusty, but the view is worth it.

We are thinking about visiting Chloride, a silver mining town, and maybe run thru Searchlight again. We enjoy seeing the antique stuff and old buildings left over from the Wild West days. I am looking forward to the trip. Originally we had another couple planning to go with us, but that didn't work out for this year. Maybe next time.

There are a couple of other things we want to see that we have missed in the past. The Bonnie and Clyde car is out there and we drove all the way to the state line to see it one trip but it was on tour so we didn't get to see it. Then we have made two trips to the Rio to see the Parade in the Sky and it was between shows both times. I sure hope it is in session this time. My daughter and son-in-law told me that the best buffet in town is at the Rio. It is a mile long and carries a lot of seafood. Maybe we will check it out. We actually like the buffet at Palace Station and the stain glass work there is lovely. I really wanted to stay at the Main Street Station and see all the antiques again, but free nights at Sahara won out. Maybe we will try a couple of other casino clubs and see if they will offer us free nights for future trips. Hubby enjoys the crap table. He is actually building one for the house, (have I mentioned that before?) It isn't full size, but it is big enough to have fun. He has done a superb job on it and the only thing lacking now is the chip trays. Those will require some special woodworking tools and skills. But I have confidence that he will get it done.

Well, once again it is late and tomorrow is a big day. We both have to work and then we have a birthday party to attend for a dear friend. I hear that the cuisine is to be Chinese, which is a bit odd considering that he is Polish and his wife is Irish. But I am certain that a good time will be had by all.

See ya later!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 100

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I did!!! I drove to Atlanta on Friday night to spend the weekend with the "Grandboys". It's a long drive after working all day, but it wasn't too bad. The weather didn't cooperate all that well; as I ran in and out of rain all the way up. But I arrived between showers so getting into the house was dry. I tried to be quiet getting in as the family was already in bed and made my way to the guest room.

The next morning I was up in time to say goodbye to my daughter and son-in-law as they were headed to a Craft Show. This was the reason for the visit, (well not really, but it was a good excuse to come up). So I got to spend about 8 hours, just me and the twins. Nothing is better than grandboy hugs. Nate can wrap himself totally around you and hug for all he is worth. Micah is good at hugs also but he is a lot more independent. Nate's big thing right now is the alphabet. He loves his letters. Micah is more interested in his blocks and what he can do with them.

Neither boy is overly fond of clothes. They much prefer to run around nude, but of course that can be dangerous with small children, especially the male ones. And meals are exciting. There is never any way of knowing what they are "liking" today. It is a trial and error system, and for the most part is works. Saturday bananas were out and goldfish and snap peas were in. Micah was all about cheese, but Nate was having nothing to do with it. I tried pizza for lunch, but that was a definite NO from both. But boy did they love those snap peas.

The calculators that I had found at the Dollar Store were a hit. The stick ponies, not so much. Daddy used them to mess with the boys and they laughed, but I don't think they have a clue what they are intended for, which is ok. After all they are only 20 months old and probably have never really seen a real horse. I also took them an inflatable parrot and seahorse. Nate liked these but Micah was not so much interested at the time. It is really amazing how different they are from each other.

The craft show went well as I am certain you will learn from the Stress the Seams blog if you choose to visit there. And the kids had to turn down a show for next weekend, due to lack of stock and time. Sounds like the craft business agrees with them.

I took a baby afghan that I had made from a design that came to me one evening while I was watching tv. It has raised flowers in salmon, blue and pale yellow on a green and tan field. Kind of a 3-D granny square pattern. Apparently it garnered a lot of comments but did not sell. We also sent some really cool photographs that Hubby had taken in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia while we were on vacation there. They were just 4 x 6 but are really superb. If you are interested in seeing these or other photographs we have taken, check out whosphotography.com. Hubby is working hard to get the new pictures up on the site, but it could be a few days before they are viewable.

Well, I guess that is about it for tonight. Hope everyone has a great day tomorrow and sweet dreams tonight.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 95

Ooops, sorry didn't mean to leave you hanging. It's just been a busy week.

Anyway, back to the tale.

On the final morning of our cruise, we were to be back into New York. Hubby and I discussed it and elected to get up early (4:30) to be certain that we didn't miss the Statue of Liberty on the way in. Well, the alarm went off as planned, but we were still very far away from New York (according to the GPS) so I stayed in bed for another hour. I did however, get up and get dressed at 5:30 and made my way out to the deck. It was foggy!!! And the humidity was back. It was also still dark.

So we waited on deck and the sun finally started to come up just as we entered the Hudson River. We got some photos of the Staten Island Bridge (got it right that time) in the fog. We also got a bunch of photos of the Lady Liberty with the fog in the background. There was a wonderful few moments as the sun came up behind the Empire State Building and we caught those on film also. It was actually worth the early morning call to see it all. After the ship docked we elected to have one more breakfast in the dining room and to collect our few remaining belongings from the stateroom and say goodbye to the stewarts.

As VIP's we were able to leave the ship almost as soon as our breakfast was done. So we made our way to the Lobby and exited the ship with little or no trouble. Once back on American soil we had to go thru customs, but that was pretty easy also since we didn't bring much of anything with us. We collected our luggage and showed the customs agents our passports and other paper work and they let us back into the good ole USA.

We made our way thru the remained of the terminal, not nearly as impressive leaving as it was when we arrived. And found the location to wait for our transfer service back to the airport. Since so many more people were returning to the airport at the same time this transport was a full size bus. We were the last group to get off at the Delta terminal. Here is where things went sour. We got into the line to check our baggage and pick up our boarding passes for our 3:30 flight. Mind you it was around 10 a.m. and we were expecting to have to sit in the airport until our flight time. However, Hubby checked the luggage and picked up the passes and we started into the terminal. The baggage clerk came running after us and shouted that we were too early and he couldn't check us in yet. We explained that our flight was at 3:30, but he check his records to find that our 3:30 flight had been canceled and we would not be leavinig LaGuardia until 8 p.m. He was helpful in trying to find out why this occurred but just the same we were stuck in the airport for 10 hours. Then they tried to get us to take a $400 credit each, a hotel room for the night and first class accommodations on a 10:30 flight the next day since the 8:05 flight was overbooked! It would have been a sweet deal, except that I had to be at work at 8 a.m. Friday morning. So it would have been difficult to leave NY at 10:30 and get to Valdosta an hour and a half before that. As it was, we made the flight home, but were sitting on opposite sides of the plane and in different rows. Hubby ALWAYS flies in a window seat, well NOT this time. We were both stuck in the center seat while the folks at the window seats SLEPT all the way home. Although I don't really see how they slept as bumpy as the flight was.

Anyway, we landed in Jacksonville and picked up our car and headed home. Hubby was so sweet to drive all the way home and let me try to sleep. He had Friday off. We made it home around 1:30 a.m. Needless to say, I was exhausted Friday, but I made it to work on time and lasted the whole day. Then we both had to work Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon was spent napping. I think we are both back to normal (did I use the term normal in describing either of US?) although the housework has not been done and the laundry is still piled up. Next trip I plan to take advantage of the VIP laundry service.

Well that is it for our vacation. Hope you enjoyed it. We sure did (except for the return trip).
If you ever get the opportunity to visit Canada, GO. It is a lovely place.

Ta Ta for now.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 92

First I must apologize, Hubby informed me that it was NOT the Brooklyn Bridge that we sailed under but the Staten Island bridge. You can keep them straight? Have you ever seen how many bridges are across the Hudson River? Anyway, on with the tale.

On Tuesday we docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. This part of Canada was settled by the Scots and they are very proud of their heritage. It is a beautiful city with reminders of Europe everywhere. We showed our photos to friends last night and they loved them. Commenting on how much the houses look like the ones found in England and Ireland. (by the way, these particular friends are headed there AGAIN in just a few weeks. We were invited to go but didn't have enough time off this year. Bummer)

Our planned excursion didn't leave until after lunch, so Hubby and I elected to get off the ship early and just walk the town. We walked down the boardwalk which is along the sea shore and visited the Maritime Museum. It has actual artifacts from the Titanic. Did I mention that this is the city that rescued and retrieved the passengers and crew of that fateful ship? They have an area in the city graveyard that is devoted to those people who perished in the accident and were either unclaimed by their families or unknown. We visited this place later on our excursion. Back to the museum. It has an actual deck chair, pieces of the carved woodwork and other items recovered from the wreck. But it also has model ships. LOTS of model ships and they actually build them here. Hubby had an interesting conversation with two of the builders. Boy do they do good work. It is so small. They told us that they use pieces of Wedding Veils for the fencing on the gates and such! We saw the actual light mechanisms from a couple of light houses, which are EVERYWHERE up here. The coast line is very rocky and has lots of cliffs. Lighthouses are placed on outcroppings of rocks, on islands, along cliffs, everywhere. And they are all beautiful.

The boardwalk has dolphin statues placed along it and each one is painted with different designs, much like the bears of Cherokee, North Carolina. We visited a local brewery where Hubby enjoyed a taste of a couple of specialty beers. I sipped both, but I don't really care for beer and was not impressed. But we had some interesting conversation with the bar tender. He did not have much good to say about the large breweries of America. But he was glad that the micro-breweries are becoming more available in the US.

We walked around some of the shops, but again most of the items were just too big or too heavy to bring back on a plane so we didn't purchase much. I got the grandsons a couple of flags and that was about it. Just didn't see anything small that we really liked. We did find some really nice nautical items, but again not easily brought home.

We returned to the ship and left the flags in our cabin, had lunch and headed back down the gangway to meet our bus. The bus took us to Peggy's Cove, a fabulous fishing village where life seems to have come to a stop around the turn of the century. The area got it's name because of a ship wreck where the only survivor was a young girl named Peggy. This is a cove off of St. Margaret's bay. The pictures we took here were beautiful. They look more like art than photos.
(Wish I could share some with you, but hopefully they will soon be on www.whosphotography.com and if you really like them you can order some. We ship anywhere!)

After Peggy's cove we reboarded the bus and took a tour of more of the countryside. It is a most beautiful area. Much like the mountains of Tennessee in the TVA water area except that the shoreline is very rocky rather than the sloping coast of the Tennessee lakes. But they have many of the same trees and plants, they just don't get near as tall as in the mountains of Tennessee. They said this was due to the salt air. It was very pleasant and the temperatures were around 77 degrees. Everywhere you see lobster traps, fishing boats, etc. But the houses are mostly neat and well cared for. Apparently, Nova Scotia uses more PAINT than anyplace else in the world per person. This area has seen several tragic events. The Titanic being just one of them. Another shipwreck occurred the the narrow part the harbor when a relief ship and an ammo ship were heading in different direction through the most narrow part of the harbor and neither captain would give way. Naturally they scraped hulls in passing and since they were metal ships, sparks flew. The crew of the ammo ship knew what was about to happen and they jumped ship and swam to shore. They all survived, however the crew of the other ship and many thousands of citizens did not, when the resulting explosion blew away a rather large portion of the City. On his death bed some years later the captain of the ammo ship was asked if he would have done anything differently. He merely said, "I had the right of way." Can you believe that? During this time Boston, sent relief crews and supplies to Halifax to help out and to this day Halifax sends Boston a large fir tree to use at Christmas and gifts on July 4th.

Another tragic event was a plane crash in St. Margaret's bay which killed a couple hundred people. They erected monuments to these folks on both sides of the bay. In spite of all this evil in their history, these are very kind, and friendly people. We enjoyed our visit very much.

As we were leaving Halifax, many passengers spotted whales (including Hubby), But Not me, I had taken refuge in the cabin away from the wind. Too bad, like they say, "You snooze, you loose."

Next time the adventures of the Olson' at LaGuardia Airport on the return trip. I know you just can't wait.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 91

Wow! Talk about a quick week. It has gone by so fast it is a bit hard to believe it actually happened.

On Friday, July 30 at 6:20 pm vacation officially started. Hubby picked me up from work and we headed out. Spent the night in Jacksonville and made our flight from there to New York the next morning. Lovely flight to New York's LaGuardia Airport where we meet friends for lunch. Unfortunately, after you come out of the terminal into the baggage claim area (where our friends met us due to security) there is only a FEW places to eat. Believe me when I say a FEW. We finally found a Subway, but they only had one or two sandwiches to select from and so we took what we could get.

After we ate and said goodbye to our friends, we made our way to our transfer to the Carnival Glory for the cruise to Canada. The transfer was fun. We had to make our way thru downtown New York (42nd street, etc) and head to the docks. Our driver was great. He kept up a running commentary on the city traffic and pointed out some of the highlights of the route.

Once we made it to the Docks, we collected our luggage and headed into the cruise terminal. Since this was our first cruise as VIP's we didn't know what to expect. But it was GREAT! They had a special check in lane for us and we were immediately ushered to the gangway and entered the ship ahead of a LOT of other cruisers. By this time it was a little after noon so we knew we could not get into our stateroom until a bit later so we made our way to the Lido deck in search of food. Hubby wanted a Hot Dog. He always starts the cruise with one and this was no exception. Shortly after his hot dog disappeared we went on up to the rail to look out at the harbor. It was awesome. So much action all around us. The skyline was interesting and the Hudson River is HUGH!! We were very near the place where the plane landed in the river.

The ship was to leave port at 5pm so as soon as we were able to get into our stateroom, we took our carry ons and put them away, grabbed our cameras and hit the rails again. Sailing out of New York Harbor you have to pass right by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. She was magnificent and the Brooklyn Bridge was framing the ocean as we passed under it.

Our dinner was set for 6pm so we made our way to the dining room and enjoyed a wonderful meal and great service. During the week we ate such entrees as Lobster, Chateaubriand, Veal Parmesan, Escarole, Maui Maui, to name a few. The desserts were also great. I am so glad that we had been on a diet. I gained four pounds this week. But since dinner was at the wrong time to watch the ship leave land behind we didn't get to check for sea life.

Later in the cruise we did spot Harbor Seals, and Dolphin. I saw whale spray, but Hubby actually saw a whale breach the water. (I was inside out of the wind). This was our first cruise that was not heading south and we expected it to be a lot cooler than the others weather-wise. But I didn't expect it to be AS COOL as it was and had not taken a jacket. So our first stop in Canada was shopping time to purchase long sleeves.

That stop was in St. John, New Brunswick on Monday August 2. As we debarked the ship we were met by friendly natives who greeted the children with Canadian flags and the women with long stemmed roses. My rose was yellow to match the pants I was wearing that day. Our excursion guide was dressed in Loyalist Costume and she led us to the air conditioned bus aand we headed to St. Martin to visit the Reversing Falls. This is where the river meets the sea and where the highest tides in the world are found. I think they said that there is a 40 foot difference between low tide and high tide. It was impressive. We started out at Low Tide and the rapids of the river were visible. After stopping there we boarded the bus for a drive to Fundy Bay. Lunch at a lovely seafood place with marvelous chowder. Then we took a walk out on the ocean floor. Since it was low tide a lot of ocean floor was exposed. We saw sea caves that were underwater at high tide. They have these wonderful round rocks all over the beach. There are like the rocks that you find in the mountain streams where the edges have all been tumbled away and only round smooth rocks can be found. Very little of anything that can be called sand can be seen. Many of the rocks have veins of quartz or other minerals in them that look like rings running around the rock. When you find one of these, according to local legend you should make a wish and take the rock with you. When your wish comes true, you pass the rock on to someone else for them to make a wish. We found our wish rocks and made our wishes. They don't like for you to take more than one since there are Soooo many people visiting there each year. And they also said that you could make your wish and just toss the rock back, it would work as well. So Hubby did that, I however, chose to bring my rock home. I have this collection of rocks and shells from all the trips we have taken and wanted to add my wish rock to it.

After we finished at this location, we traveled back to the first stop to see the middle tide effects. I was quit different from the earlier morning visit although high tide was still hours away. Our ship was scheduled to sail around high tide so we would not be able to see it. From there we were taken back to the dock area where we had a little time to shop. Here is where I found my sweatshirt that saved me from freezing the rest of the trip.

The next day we were in Haliax Nova Scotia. I'll tell you all about that later. Got to run, meeting friends for dinner in town.