Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday randomness...

The after-Christmas slump has begun... it always feels a bit depressing when the holiday season ends. All of the shopping, wrapping, baking and socializing seems to come to such an abrupt conclusion. Of course, in the case of baking, this is probably a very good thing. Even though I love baking, I once again feel as if I've been eating nothing but cookies and chocolate for the last four weeks. Salad and vegetables are actually sounding surprisingly good at the moment. Rick bought me some new workout clothes for Christmas (don't worry, I asked for them -- he wasn't trying to hint at anything... I don't think...), so I'll be making use of those. Immediately.

We had a nice, low-key Christmas at mom and dad's place with Eric, Rachel, Connor and Faisal. Faisal took a few nice family pictures for us:

Although as Eric said, "Faisal is really a part of the family... maybe Lisa should take the picture..." Oh, my brother is sooooooo funny... :) (I do agree with the first part of that statement, however -- perhaps a tripod and camera with a timer would be a better option? Eric would probably find a reason why that wouldn't work... :))

One of the things Connor loves to do at mom and dad's place is run up and down the hallway of the condo building... it's good exercise... :) (We should've ALL been running up and down the hallways -- that would've justified our cookie consumption...)

But one of his absolute FAVORITE things to do is to play with phones and iPads -- if you want to get Connor's attention, just pull out an iPad:

So far, he hasn't figured out the code to unlock it, but one of these days, he's going to randomly hit the correct keys and delete everything on Faisal's iPad...

Chicago has FINALLY had some snow (although not nearly enough, in my opinion). It snowed for a few hours yesterday morning, and although most of it melted as soon as it hit the ground, we did end up with a slight "dusting" -- which is more than we've had all year. (Isn't that crazy?? This is Chicago! We're supposed to be buried under snow by now!)

Riff was quite fascinated by the falling flakes -- he was actually trying to capture them through the glass as they fell...

Okay, I'm off to try out some of my new workout clothes... hope everyone has a good last weekend of 2012!

Monday, December 24, 2012

I heard the bells on Christmas Day...

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Be good for goodness' sake...

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook -- an old German Christmas card, I believe. The translation would be "greetings from Krampus and Nicholas" -- Nicholas, of course, referring to St. Nicholas, who, in this country, has morphed into Santa Claus. But Krampus is a bit of a lesser-known figure from German/Alpine folklore -- whereas St. Nick travels from house to house bestowing gifts upon good children, Krampus finds the bad children and punishes them. He's always depicted as some kind of creepy, demonic entity, who rattles chains or smacks kids with branches from his basket of switches. He's like St. Nick's terrifying sidekick...

Growing up in the U.S., the idea of a kindly, rotund, jolly man who somehow broke into my house every Christmas Eve and left me presents was extremely disconcerting to me... if I'd grown up in Germany, I think I would've needed anti-anxiety medication to get through the Christmas season. I mean, sure, we have the whole, "he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake" thing, but apparently Germany takes their naughty-children-during-the-holidays concept seriously.

In Northern Europe, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6. I think in some places, this is even considered the "big" day for gift-giving, as opposed to Christmas Day. On St. Nicholas Eve, kids put their shoes outside their doors or by the fireplace, and in the morning they're filled with candy or small toys. This is a tradition my high school German teacher tried to show her pupils by asking us to take our shoes off before class one December 5. (Side note: my German "classroom" was actually a little room off the library that was obviously meant to be a storage room or somebody's office... My freshman year of high school, there were only seven of us in the class... by the time I was a senior, there were three of us...) We, being the belligerent teenagers we were, vociferously opposed this order... okay, everyone else vociferously opposed, I silently brooded. But eventually our teacher somehow convinced us to (grudgingly) leave our shoes outside in the library, and while we took a pop quiz or worked on vocabulary lists, she "snuck" outside (in our tiny room this really did not go unnoticed) and filled all of our shoes with candy.

After that, I felt bad that we'd all been protesting the shoe-removal, because obviously our teacher just wanted to surprise us with a fun tradition, and we'd taken a bit of the "fun" out of it by suspiciously demanding to know why our shoes were being confiscated. We probably all should've been hit with Krampus switches, but fortunately, that really IS just a silly story made up to scare children into being extra good...

It IS just a story, right? Right? RIGHT???

Sigh... the Christmas season is SO stressful... :)  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Random Mayan musings...

So here's good news: They seem to be completely finished with the tar work on our building, because I haven't smelled a thing for the last few days. YAY!!!! I didn't even realize how awesome it was to wake up to the smell of NOTHING until after I'd been waking up to the smell of tar for weeks on end. I'm also excited about sitting on my couch and reading without feeling like I've set up a lawn chair in the middle of a highway construction zone. (Seriously, for some reason, the tar smell seemed to be VERY concentrated right on the couch in the living room... which I could never figure out, because it's away from all the windows and air vents in the condo...)

But here's bad news: According to the Mayans, we have barely more than a week before the end of the world. (And I STILL haven't made Christmas cookies??? I'd better get to work on that... I would hate for the last food I eat on this planet to be, you know, healthy... Because what's the point of eating a bunch of healthy food if the world is going to end on the 21st?)

I've been busy with freelance work this week, but I'm thinking I need to get that batch of sugar cookie dough ready so I can do some baking this weekend. Especially on the off chance that the Mayans were totally off their rockers and really had no clue what they were talking about. Or the off chance that we've misinterpreted their calendar. For all WE know, the Mayans only had one guy -- let's call him Tehuixiapu the Calendar Guy (what, you're better at making up Mayan names?? Go right ahead...) -- and Tehuixiapu spent his whole life carving calendars onto stone. 1600s... 1700s... 1800s... 1900s... 2000s... And one day, he started to reevaluate his life. He realized that ALL of his time had been spent on carving calendars. He noticed his wife had been hanging out an awful lot with Ixcuahat the Mexican hot chocolate merchant, and his kids had joined a rather notorious human-sacrifice gang on the south side of the pyramids. And just as he carved "December 21, 2012," his neighbor Ahxiu approached with carvings depicting his recent vacation to Cancun. "That's IT," Tehuixiapu exclaimed, gazing down at the chisel in his callused hand, "I'm done with this calendar nonsense." And just like that, he dropped what he was doing and ran off to Cancun. And of course no one else wanted to take over Tehuixiapu's calendar carving, because they saw how it ate up all of his free time. And THAT is why the Mayan calendar ends at December 21, 2012.

Okay, it's time to make something for dinner, and obviously I don't have anything terribly interesting to say anyway. :) Hope everyone is having a good week...    

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Random stuff...

1. Question: How long does it take a crew to tar the roof of a condo building? Answer: Apparently approximately as long as it would take to walk the entire length of China... wearing only one shoe... carrying a very heavy backpack... dragging a wagon full of cement bricks... and stopping to take pictures along the way. In other words -- a really, really, really long time. WHY is it taking them so long to finish this project? I'm about to go fruitloopsnuttycrazyinsane from breathing in all these tar fumes. I seriously can't stand it much longer. They even worked on Saturday. Although they took Sunday off, and yesterday morning was rainy so they didn't work yesterday, either. Two glorious days of smelling NOTHING (except the pine-scented candles I've placed out for Christmas...).

2. I'm all ready for the Christmas cookie-baking season -- all stocked up on butter, eggs, sugar and colored sprinkles. Although I could probably use a bit more flour. Better to have too much than too little. And Eric would never forgive me if I ran out of flour mid-cookie-bake... that would be inexcusable...

3. I got my tree all set up over the weekend. By the way, do you know how difficult it is to put up a Christmas tree when you share space with (I won't say "own" because he would take exception to that) the world's most curious cat?? I have no fewer than five separate Riff scratches on my arms... he quite enjoyed jumping three feet straight off the floor to lunge at ornaments and garland. I'm just lucky he hasn't attempted to climb the tree yet...

4. A few pictures:

I think I need a few more red bows... next year... :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm baaaaaack...

Wait, could it be? Another blog post?? Are those NEW words on Lisa's blog page??

Yes, yes, it is I -- the Frequently Absent Blogger. :) We just got back from a week in Austin, where we hung out at mom and dad's place, met up with friends, wore t-shirts in the warm weather, and ate WAY too much food. And on Thanksgiving, we drove out to the middle of nowhere -- that's where Rick's sister Jen lives. (Okay, technically, it's called Red Rock, and since it's only about an hour away from Austin I suppose it's not literally the middle of nowhere... but it certainly feels that way when you're there. :))

This does LOOK like the middle of nowhere, right? (Although my view at the present moment is a busy street, concrete sidewalks, and skyscrapers, so I'm really not one to judge... :))

Jen has a bunch of horses (plus a donkey, chickens, and a couple dogs), so we all made friends...

But I was REALLY surprised by this:

Yes, that's MOM on a horse... (and our niece Ali behind her... but seriously -- where did my real mom go?? :))

Dad decided to try it out, too... but apparently to get a good picture, he needed some temporary help from me and Jen's husband, Larry. (I love how the donkey is peeking out from behind Larry...)

Group shot (minus mom and dad, who must've been busy with the horses... :)).

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday random thoughts...

1. I am almost out of the coffee I brought back from Hawaii. Although this is obviously a tragedy, I am looking forward to stocking up on some of the holiday blends that are always offered by coffee shops this time of year. (By the way, it's also a tragedy that I live a block away from a Starbucks and have not yet walked down the street for a peppermint mocha this season...)

2. I awoke to the smell of road tar this morning. Somewhere around here, either a road is being paved or a roof is being tarred... I don't know which, but it's extremely annoying. I lit some scented candles hoping that would help, but I'm not sure it's made anything better. Now it just smells like road tar AND pumpkin pie spice. I'm very confused.

3. Also this morning, I awoke to find the almost-full roll of toilet paper completely unwound in a pile on the bathroom floor. Apparently Riff was bored last night. And, since there was so much paper left on the roll and I don't want to waste all of it, I now have a big pile of toilet paper sitting on the cabinet next to the toilet so I can just tear a few squares off when I need them. It's so classy. I feel like a Rockefeller or a Vanderbilt or a Kennedy... (or maybe a Kardashian?? That's probably more likely...)

4. I feel like I've lost a lot of my workout benefits this last month or so. I couldn't do any walking/running the week before I left for Hawaii because of my bruised toe/foot, and it was still pretty sore when we were in Hawaii. I didn't feel like really testing it out until after we got back home, and my first few workouts were really slow and tentative. I'm just now getting to where I'm comfortable with putting my full weight on my foot, but it seems like it's been forever since I had a really good workout. Oh well... good thing it's getting cold so I can hide the fact that I'm not working out as much and I'm drinking my weight in peppermint mochas... (just kidding... like I said, I haven't even had ONE yet...)

5. Seriously, I think invisible men are paving my living room -- I can't SEE them, but the smell of tar is so strong I have to assume they're here...

6. Can you believe Connor is now a year old?? This year went by so quickly... In fact, he's so old now that he's drinking coffee:

He's also obviously very smart, because he recognizes a delicious addictive beverage when he sees it. Just wait until he tries a peppermint mocha...

Okay, I'm off to give in to my tar-fume-fueled hallucinations... hope everyone has a good weekend...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A few more random Hawaii pics...

Just for the fun of it...

(This, by the way, is apparently how I look when I'm watching fish under a glass tunnel at the aquarium... I really love aquariums -- have I mentioned that? I find them quite fascinating...)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

This has nothing to do with the election...

Seriously -- I'm all politics'd out right now...

Instead, since I seem to finally be over my jet lag (and have also managed to get used to the daylight savings time change), I can reflect on vacation... We had a great week with mom, dad, Aunt Carol and (Aunt-in-law?) Carol-Lee -- and Bob and Jeanie joined us on Wednesday, after they spent a few days on Molokai. Some thoughts from the week:

Things to be Thankful For

After our first full day on Maui, we sat down for a nice dinner at one of the restaurants at the resort. Right before dessert, my dad got a call on his cell from Bob -- he and Jeanie were renting a house right on the beach in Molokai, and they'd just gotten word about an earthquake in Canada that was sending a 600-mile-per-hour tsunami wave directly toward us. Not two minutes later, we heard the sirens sounding on Maui. The wait staff at the restaurant assured us that they'd been through the exact same thing many times before, and most of the time it amounted to nothing. But it still made for a rather dramatic evening. The lower levels of the hotel were evacuated, sirens continued to sound, the water was shut off (and, consequently, the water-cooled air conditioning), and the Hawaiian news stations really had a field day milking the tsunami warning for all it was worth. They kept airing a graphic that showed how the tsunami energy was aimed directly at Hawaii... and they emphasized the fact that there's nothing between the Canadian coast and Hawaii to slow down massive killer waves. Fortunately, they were only estimating a wave between 3 and 7 feet, but that didn't stop the newscasters from ominously portending unexpected calamity. Live webcams of the shoreline kept a vigilant lookout for the inevitable wave, which was estimated to arrive at 10:30, so we watched the TV in our room to see what happened... and then 10:30 came and went... and then 10:45 (the newscasters reminded us: "it's not an exact science -- the time was just an estimate."). By 11:00, I was getting tired of staring at the live webcam of a totally calm beach and decided to go to bed in my waterless, air condition-less hotel room...

In the morning, we found out that the biggest "wave" to hit Maui was about two feet high (although apparently they had a slightly larger wave over on Molokai). We also started hearing about friends and family dealing with Hurricane Sandy over on the east coast, and we realized how fortunate we were that our "emergency" turned out to be nothing.

If You Want to Kill Him, You'll Have to Try Harder

There was more unwelcome excitement after Bob and Jeanie arrived. We all met up for dinner at one of the resort restaurants one evening, where Bob ordered some kind of fish entree. Bob happens to be extremely allergic to specific kinds of ocean-dwellers -- anything that lives in the sea and turns red when it's cooked is totally off-limits. So lobster, crab and shrimp are all on his "do not eat" list. However, any kind of white fish is perfectly fine. So he ordered his white fish, and when it arrived, took a small bite... I was sitting at the opposite end of the table, so I didn't realize anything was amiss until I noticed that Bob and Jeanie were both frantically attempting to flag down the waiter. When he arrived at the table, they asked him if the entree had any sort of shrimp in it -- apparently Bob had taken one bite, and immediately felt the tingling of an allergic reaction. The worst part is that the waiter then came back and said, "no, there's no shrimp in it -- perfectly safe," so Bob took another tiny tentative bite... just as a busboy rushed over and told him there WAS shrimp broth in the dish. The chef actually wasn't SURE about what was in the broth in the entree, so he had to double-check. (I will leave out the various exclamations that were uttered at this point... let's just say that Bob was NOT happy...) The manager was summoned, I ran out to the little general store in the lobby to buy Benadryl, and Aunt Carol offered her epi-pen (which she has in case of bee stings) at the ready. Fortunately, since Bob was so suspicious of the entree to begin with, he'd only had a tiny bit... so the allergic reaction never accelerated into anything dangerous. And I have to give credit to the restaurant manager, who was extremely apologetic... and hopefully this was a lesson to the restaurant staff about being more aware of allergens...

Time Zones are Fun

Random comment: It's really weird to wake up at 8 a.m. on a Sunday in Hawaii and immediately find football on TV. I just consider football more of an afternoon sport... I can't deal with football before breakfast. Just saying...

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid

After our plane backed away from the gate at the Maui airport the day we left, the pilot announced to everyone, "folks, we're going to have to return to the gate... we're having trouble getting our left engine started..." Which, of course, is always something you want to hear when you're on a plane. He then went into an explanation about how sometimes ("actually, it's pretty rare") when planes have been flying at high altitudes for a while (our plane had arrived to Maui from Dallas, and we were making the return trip), some valve in the engine can get sticky and cause the engine to freeze up. But supposedly it was an "easy fix" and the maintenance guys would have us on our way as soon as possible. And then the pilot said, "we'll just try to start it one last time, to see what happens... oh, there it goes!" So, amid the nervous laughter of passengers (who, it ended up, didn't even need to hear about the malfunctioning engine), we backed away from the gate again and were on our way. Seriously, couldn't they have tried starting that engine "one last time" before they told us that they couldn't start it??

Of course, the majority of our time was spent listening to waves on the beach, taking pictures of green mountains and eating as much Hula Pie as we could get our hands on (thank goodness no one is allergic to Hula Pie -- that would be a serious tragedy :)). And now I have to get used to this cold Chicago weather (and by the way, did you know it's almost Thanksgiving??? As usual, the year is going by way too quickly...). But I can't complain -- in fact, now that I've had a Hawaii fix, I can say: bring on the snow!   

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Middle of the week randomness...

It's been a busy week, and today and tomorrow are going to be even more busy -- because super early Friday morning, we leave for a week in Maui. (Seriously, I have to be up SOOOO early to catch my flight to Hawaii... can I have some sympathy? Anything? Anyone?? *chirping crickets* No? Nothing?? Sigh... I suppose I don't deserve any... :))

I was planning on squeezing in a few extra-strenuous workouts this week, in some kind of vain attempt to assuage the insecurity I feel when faced with lying on the beach in a swimsuit. And since I knew Rick was leaving for a work event in Las Vegas Sunday morning, I figured I'd have plenty of alone time to pop in an Insanity DVD and flail about my living room like a crazy person. Rick's flight left early Sunday morning, which meant he was packed and ready to go Saturday night... so his suitcase was lying on standby on the bedroom floor. That's probably something I should've remembered when I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom... since I usually get up at least once in the middle of the night, I have the route to and from the bathroom mapped out to the point that I can groggily walk back and forth in the dark without bumping into anything. Except, of course, when something that isn't usually on the floor (suitcase) is on the floor. And then there IS a chance that I might smack my foot into it with a bit too much force...

Not that anyone wanted to see pictures of my feet... but I DID manage to match my nail polish to my bruise. I like to be color-coordinated...

Needless to say, I haven't been working out the last few days. I actually thought I'd broken something when I got up on Sunday morning, because I could hardly walk on my foot. I spent all day on the couch, with my foot up on a pillow, popping Advil. But by Monday, it felt about 50 percent better... and by Tuesday, I could walk like a normal person again. (At least without a shoe on -- wearing a shoe still hurts a bit...)

Lucky for me, I can wear lots of flip flops in Hawaii... unlucky for me, I didn't get to work off that last pound or two I hoped to get rid of before donning a swimsuit. Oh well... I SUPPOSE I'll just grin and bear it... ;)

Hopefully I'll be back soon with some Maui pictures -- which I promise will be nicer to look at than my feet...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The tale of two televisions and a troll...

My friend Faisal has superpowers.

Besides making up awesome words like "comfortability" and somehow managing to add them to our English-language lexicon, he also has the uncanny ability of finding amazingly good deals on all sorts of electronic gadgets and doohickeys.

And a few days ago, he told Rick about a great deal he'd found on televisions. To be more specific -- brand new, giant 70" televisions, for about 60 percent less than what they'd be priced at a regular store. And, since Rick has been wanting a huge TV to replace the puny little 50-something inch television we've had for the last few years, he figured we should take advantage of the great price.

But, as with all great deals, there was a catch -- the TVs were in St. Louis. And if we wanted one, we'd have to go pick one up.

Quickly, a plan was devised... it was so simple -- we wanted a TV, and Faisal wanted a TV, but neither of us has a car large enough to hold two 70" televisions, especially televisions that needed to be hauled all the way back from St. Louis. So we decided we'd just rent a car -- a minivan would do the trick, we figured. We'd rent the car, drive down to St. Louis, pick up the TVs, drive back to Chicago, unload the TVs at our respective condos, and then return the rental. Simple.

I'm not generally one to believe in "signs"... I think that when things happen, they just HAPPEN, and they don't necessarily mean anything. But maybe I should've been paying more attention...

Friday night, Rick and I got into our car so we could head up to Faisal's, with the intention of eating dinner at our usual fish and chips spot and then driving to Midway to pick up a rental car (renting from the airport assured a one-day rental -- otherwise, we would've had to keep the car all weekend). We drove through the narrow passageways in our underground garage, up the concrete ramp, and hit the button to open the door. Click... Nothing happened. Click... Still nothing happened. CLICK... The door wouldn't move. Rick called the doorman, who assured us that they were aware of the broken door, and the maintenance man (who had already gone home for the day -- why do we not a have a maintenance man who lives HERE at the condo building??) was on the way. And in case you're wondering -- yes, that ONE door is the only way to drive in or out of our garage. (I felt especially sorry for all the people returning home from their work weeks... fighting through Chicago rush-hour traffic... finally arriving at the comfort of home for the weekend... only to be thwarted by a broken garage door.)

Was it a sign? Or just a broken door?

So our plans for dinner/picking up a rental car were tweaked (we ended up ordering pizza and just waiting for the door to be fixed). But eventually we picked up Faisal and made it down to Midway, where, tape measure in hand, we wandered the rental car lot looking for a vehicle that would be sufficient for the two boxed television sets we'd be hauling. We hoped to find a van with seats that could be stowed in the floor (or removed altogether), with enough room for the two TVs... and three people. We ended up settling on a minivan -- of all the vehicles on the lot, it had the absolute MOST cargo space... although according to the measurements, it would be a tight fit to get the boxes in with the three of us in the van. But we were confident.

Okay, a couple of us were confident, and one of us was a negative, pessimistic, prophet of doom. I won't say who was who...

Bright and early Saturday morning (waaaaaaay too early Saturday morning), we were on the road in our rented minivan, stocked with everything we might need for the day -- Rick brought some rope, just in case the boxes didn't quite fit and we needed to drive home with the door open and tied down. Faisal also brought some rope. And a few knives, in case the boxes needed to be cut apart to fit in the car better. He also had some tape. Rope, knives, and tape... in a duffel bag. There was some nervous joking about not doing anything to warrant the police pulling us over... because no doubt they would've taken the terrorist-y looking guy (with his kidnapper's starter kit) into custody, while making sure the white people were okay. (Disclaimer: I would not have said that if Faisal himself had not made the same joke while we were driving... Also, Faisal is awesome... if anyone ever thinks otherwise, I will be forced to seek you out and change your mind... I'll probably bring rope, knives and tape...)

On a good day ("good" being decent weather and no traffic), the drive to St. Louis takes around four and a half hours. But a couple hours into our drive, we hit rain... and I don't mean a nice, gentle shower -- I mean a monsoon-like downpour that was falling so hard we could barely talk to each other in the van because the noise was so loud. I haven't seen rain like that in a long time -- we used to get downpours like that in Texas now and then, but I haven't been out in anything like it in years. And it is NOT conducive to stress-free driving on the interstate.

Another sign??

Ah well, we were already on the way, so no matter. The drive ended up taking about six hours when all was said and done, but we finally arrived at the warehouse to pick up the TVs. Faisal went inside to announce our arrival, we pulled the van around to a loading dock, and we opened the back door. This was it -- the moment of truth. The moment when those two giant televisions would be manhandled into the back of the van, angled whichever way would work best, and we'd see that all would be well -- two TVs and three people in a minivan. No problem. Everything would work out just fine...

Except... yeah, of course they didn't fit the way we'd hoped they would. The prophet of doom was right. They FIT -- but they only fit flat on the floor, stacked on top of each other, with ALL the back seats stowed away. Which meant two people could sit up front just fine... and one person... well... the only space was the floor between the TV boxes and the front seats. I immediately assessed the situation... it wasn't a HUGE amount of space, but a person could fit there without completely contorting into some strange position. Yeah, we had a five-hour drive ahead of us... but we also had a pillow and a blanket and a big stash of snacks (thanks to Faisal's foresight). I made the decision -- I decided to settle in. That floor was MINE.

It was a bit awkward at first -- my vantage point on the floor was so low, and Rick and Faisal seemed five times taller than usual. I'll admit I felt a bit like someone's pet... I wondered if that's the way dogs feel when they're being carted around in a vehicle... I even felt slightly car sick at first, because I could hardly see over the dashboard and it was difficult to get my bearings. And someone may have compared me to a "troll"... which was then clarified as "fairy tale troll." Because that's better somehow... (Actually, now that I think about it, I should have forced Rick and Faisal to answer a riddle before they were allowed to unload their television sets... apparently I'm not a very good fairy tale troll...)

The rest of the journey went surprisingly well. It really wasn't so bad to curl up in my little minivan fort... not that I'd do it very often... but if I had to do it again for some reason, I wouldn't have a problem with it. We were able to unload the TVs and haul them up to our respective condos without issue, too. And now, as I type, I am watching my huge 70" television, which was ridiculously cheap, but acquired with some amount of effort. Although honestly, I think knowing that we put so much effort into it makes it even better.

So you see? There's no such thing as a "sign." :) 

 I could do this aaaaaaaall day...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday randomness...

1. I think I jinxed the Yankees by writing about them in my last post, because they lost the next game... I did, however, send Eric a text message during the third game to ask for extra Yankee voodoo with the addition of Connor drool -- that totally did the trick, by the way, because the Yankees managed to tie the game in the ninth inning and then won in the 12th. But last night, I forgot about calling in a request for Connor-drool-powered voodoo, and we LOST in the 13th inning. What is it with these low-scoring tie games that keep going into extra innings?? Eric, if you're reading -- get Connor ready for some serious voodoo tonight. I want the Yankees to be up by, oh, say, TEN runs in the fifth inning...

2. Confession: I have not watched any of the presidential/vice presidential debates. In fact, I've been really discouraged by politics in general lately. I think one of the things that bothers me the most is the inability (or unwillingness) of people on both sides of the issues to even attempt to see the point of view of the other side. Until people can sit down and say, "hmmm... I don't agree with you, but I can see why you might feel that way. How about we compromise with ABC?" I don't see how anything will ever truly change. Because all that seems to happen NOW is that one side will say, "you're an idiot" and the other side will say, "well YOU'RE a moron" and that's as far as the discussion moves. Compounding the issue is the ever-present anonymity of the internet -- sitting behind a computer screen apparently negates the "treat others with respect" filter that most people try to employ when interacting in person. Hiding behind usernames and avatars, people turn into angry, senseless, immature seventh graders. And all of these people (well, some of them, anyway) will be voting in November. Yay.

3. Has it occurred to anyone else that Christmas is barely more than two months away?? (How does this time of year always manage to sneak up on me?) Fortunately, I have yet to see a holiday-themed commercial or red-and-green-bedecked department store, even though I could swear the commercials start earlier and earlier every year. (And, granted, I haven't been to a department store since Rick and I hit up Macy's on Michigan Avenue a few weeks ago... but I think I'll stay away from any stores until after Halloween... that way I can at least PRETEND that they waited until November before bringing out the decorations...)

4. Riff has gotten into the habit of kneading blankets before he curls up on them to nap. He never used to do that -- he would just find a good spot and lie down. But now, you'd think he was making bread dough... or possibly homemade pasta... and he won't curl up in that spot until all of the imaginary ingredients have been well-mixed. It's pretty adorable, actually...

5. And now I'm off to jump on the treadmill for a while, before our weekly fish and chips meeting with Faisal... (Seriously -- we go to the Duke of Perth so often that we really ought to have our own table... and our food should be ready as soon as we sit down... and every third visit should be free. Just saying...) Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Monday, October 08, 2012

I swear I'm not hiding...

So SOMEbody in this house (I won't say who, but there are only two of us who live here, so feel free to guess) was giving me a hard time earlier about my lack of blog posts. I know, I know -- I've been such a blog slacker lately. Sometimes I'll start writing about something, and then get distracted by a million other things that I need to do. And "blog" tends to fall at the bottom of my list... especially since I'm not one of those super-popular bloggers who actually gets paid for what they do. Until someone starts giving me money, I'll probably remain the Unpredictably Sporadic Blogger...

But here's a good topic:

the Yankees won the AL East and are in the playoffs!!!

They won their first game against Baltimore last night, which was tied at 2 until the 9th inning. And then the Yankees scored five runs. Sabathia pitched ALMOST the entire game -- Girardi took him out for the final out of the ninth inning. Now, granted, he'd allowed a double so there was one guy on base, but still -- we had a five run lead and only needed ONE more out. I think he could've done it. But I guess Girardi is more cautious than I would've been. This is why I'm not the manager of a baseball team. (Sure, Lisa -- THIS is why you're not the manager of a baseball team...)

And on that note, I'm off to do something I'm actually good at -- cook. Hope everyone had a good weekend...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yep, it's a bunch of random stuff!

A few days ago, Rick said something like, "I think it's time to update the blog..." To which I'm sure I gave some snarky reply... but I suppose I really SHOULD update the blog, lest it appear I have fallen off the face of the earth...

No, no, have not fallen off yet... I am still here on Earth -- slightly shivering in my rather cool Chicago condo. (And by "cool" I am referring to the temperature... although I would also assign the "cool" adjective to this condo when referring to its general existence. It IS a pretty groovy condo... No? Not groovy? Uhh... rad? Totally awesome?? Well, whatever... the point is, I like my condo...) I broke down and turned the heater on yesterday, for the first time since the weather started cooling down. I've just been making do with long sleeves during the day, and a blanket on the couch for watching TV at night when it's even cooler. But yesterday my long sleeves just weren't enough... after a couple hours of trying to warm my icy hands, I gave in and fired up the heater.

So fall is definitely here... but as I was telling Faisal a couple weeks ago, I have some kind of weird, arbitrary rule for when it is acceptable to wear a sweater. I can't pull my sweaters out until at least October. September is long-sleeved t-shirt weather, and October is the beginning of sweater weather. (Yeah, I don't get it, either. But I'm just gonna go with it, because it seems weirdly logical to me for absolutely no reason whatsoever...)

This afternoon, after I'd worked out and showered and was hanging out in a bathrobe, trying to decide what to wear out to dinner, the fire alarm out in the hallway by the elevator began wailing. This is not a totally unusual occurrence -- that thing seems to randomly go off every couple of months. However, usually, when it starts ringing, it stops after two or three minutes, at the most. (It's kind of a "boy who cried wolf" thing -- because when the fire alarm obviously so often sounds for no reason whatsoever, how are we supposed to know when it's going off for a REASON??) When it went off this afternoon, it didn't stop after the usual few minutes... and after about ten minutes of incessant, unrelenting droning, I heard the sound of sirens out on the street right outside (which is also not at all unusual). That's when I asked Rick, "is there REALLY a fire this time??" I actually did the whole "feel the door and make sure it's not hot" thing, and then I opened it to see if I could smell any smoke out in the hallway... but nope. Everything seemed normal... except for that maddening fire alarm...

Still, part of me wondered if I should've been changing into something more substantial than a bathrobe... because no way would I want to frantically evacuate my building, in a bathrobe, in the middle of the 5 o'clock influx of pedestrians who crowd the sidewalks right outside every weekday. Rick finally decided to just head downstairs to get the mail, and see if he could figure out what was going on. When he got back, he informed me that there were, in fact, firefighters milling about in the lobby... but none of them looked panicked or were moving very quickly. What's more, Rick reported that other residents were going about their days as usual, collecting their mail, etc. So basically, there seemed to be no reason to go running out onto the street in my less-than-proper attire. But we decided to stay put until the fire alarm stopped screaming at us... because if there ever WAS a reason to rush out, I would want to make sure I brought the cats along with me...

The alarm finally stopped after about a half hour. And Rick found out from the doorman that the issue was a broken water pump in the fire suppression system -- so there wasn't ANY sort of fire at all, but apparently the inability to extinguish a fire, if necessary, is enough cause for alarm. A whooooooole lot of alarm. (You'd think a broken pump could just notify the front desk or the fire department... the entire building really didn't need to know about that...)

And here's one final bit of randomness:

My nephew is starting to look less like the Cutest Baby in the World and more like the Cutest Little Boy in the World...

Remember when he looked like this?? :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Caffeine-fueled random...

I'm on my second cup of coffee... or maybe third... I tend to refill my cup before it's actually empty, so who knows how much I've had. I'm sure it's not TOO much... I mean, if I'd had TOO much coffee I'd be bouncing off the walls and super energetic and I'd be writing long rambling sentences without punctuation or pauses or capital letters even if such things are required and id probably have a hard time focusing on what im doing hey did i mention were going to hawaii in a couple months and maybe i would rapidly change topics for no reason puppies!!!! and everything would be totally confusing i really love coffee and also chocolate and i donthinkicouldlivewithouteitherone........

Uhh... yeah, so anyway, I don't think I've had THAT much coffee... :)

Hope everyone had a nice weekend... mine was rather low-key, as usual. Just ran some errands on Saturday, watched a silly movie ("The Pirates! Band of Misfits"... it wasn't exactly a Pixar-quality animated movie, but it had its moments...) and did some reading. And then on Sunday night, Rick and I tried a restaurant we'd never been to in Lincoln Park. After circling the block and finding no parking, we decided to make use of the valet service. As we pulled up to the corner, we saw a man waiting to cross the street who looked really familiar... Rick was like, "is that... uh... that guy? You know, that guy... umm, you know the guy I'm talking about??" And when I looked at him, I was like, "hmmm... he DOES look a lot like that guy who used to be on Saturday Night Live..." When the valet collected our car, Rick asked him if he knew whether the man was someone famous, and the valet said, "oh, that's just some guy who lives in the neighborhood." Okay, well, that was the end of that. (For a few minutes...)

Inside, we were seated at a table close to the bar. After we'd ordered, I glanced around the restaurant and realized that the same guy we'd seen cross the street earlier was now sitting at the bar. So once again, Rick and I questioned whether it was "that guy." Since I couldn't remember his name right away, I pulled out my phone, looked up SNL cast members on IMDB, and finally figured it out: Tim Meadows. And I found this picture, which looked exactly like "that guy" at the bar (except the guy at the bar was wearing a t-shirt and jeans):

So did the valet actually know what he was talking about? I mean, was this just some guy who lived in the neighborhood and he just happened to bear a striking resemblance to Tim Meadows? And then, somewhere about halfway through my salad, I caught a snippet of conversation coming from the bar: "Mr. Meadows, did the Lions win today?" And not two minutes later: "'Sup, Tim! How's it going?" And there ya go -- confirmation that the guy at the bar was, in fact, named Tim Meadows. And that's the biggest celebrity sighting I've had here in Chicago so far. (Although my mom did remind me that we once saw Pat Sajak at the Saloon steakhouse -- he was sitting at the table right next to ours. So really, we practically had dinner with him...)

I have been loving the weather here this last week -- it's still been mild during the day (but not HOT), and at night it goes down into the 50s or 60s... every morning when I wake up, it's just sliiiiightly chilly -- the kind of chilly that announces a season change is right around the corner. This is what I love about the north -- when September hits, it's like someone flips a switch labeled "fall" and the season starts to subtly shift...

Lastly, I can't post anything without remembering that today is September 11. I'm wearing a New York Yankees shirt, in honor of the city (and team :)) I love so much. The weather here today reminds me of the perfect weather in New York eleven years ago. I had no idea -- in those few moments before I turned on the TV, wanting to enjoy the beautiful view outside my window in silence a bit longer -- that the perfect blue sky was about to be so horrifically marred and everything was about to change.

This little guy wishes peace to everyone:

And maybe a little bit of drool... but mostly peace. :)