Monday, December 29, 2008

Who? What? When? Where?

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Why haven't I posted in over a month?? Well, a combination of work and holidays. I can't even remember Thanksgiving. I remember eating way too much, but not where most of the weekend went. Yet another reason I should not neglect the blog....

I had these grand plans of writing lots of posts ahead during the Thanksgiving holidays, so that when the inevitable pre-Christmas crush hit me, there would still be a reason for you to come here. Alas, I could not find the motivation. I was too ramfeezled. (Isn't that a great word? It means "exhausted" came up in Balderdash on Christmas. I'm going to try to work it into conversations at work.) My project at work progressed as I knew it would; the business analyst (sic) rambled along discussing minutia until he was satisfied, with nary a breakdown of the requirements into functional tasks, and then expected that all design was done, and we would instantly be able to produce a delivery date. I started panicking over when I would shop, bake, wrap, and decorate, all the while running to choir rehearsals. Here's a sample weekend for you:

Friday: Took the day off! Hooray! Oh, time to relax. Go to Home Depot and get the tree. Bring it home. Leave immediately for Michael's parents' to visit his dad who is just out of the hospital. Leave from there for church for a service project and party afterwards. Get home about 10:30. The tree is up, but naked.

Saturday: Get up, go straight to choir practice. Go from there to sing at retirement home. Go from there to gingerbread house party (so fun!) and from there straight to "Cookies and Carols" party (also FUN!) Have to beg piece of lunchmeat off host so that I don't pass out from elevated blood sugar levels, since there was no time to stop for dinner. Get home about 11:30.

Sunday: Get up, go to church. Get home about 1:30, and lie catatonic for an hour. Get up, and begin putting lights and garland on. Cook dinner. Since it's the seventh, I have a playdate 'til the wee hours. Note that tree still only contains garland and lights.

And a sample week:

Monday: Work. After work, head to really fun Christmas party. Get home about 10.

Tuesday: Work. After work, begin throwing ornaments on tree.

Wednesday: Work. After work, head to choir practice. Get home about 10. Try on dress (two years old) for company party the following night and become depressed.

Thursday: Be at work super-early (for me) for all-hands meeting. Panic at lunch and run to the mall and purchase new dress for company party. Work from home rest of the afternoon. Begin getting ready for 7:00 party (30 minutes away) at 6:15. Get home around 11.

Friday: Work. Shop. Continue putting ornaments on the tree. This won't be finished until Sunday...only 10 days after the tree went up!

And that weekend was the weekend of our Festival of Lessons and Carols, which although beautiful and fun, is also a lot of work.

You may think from this post that I hate the holidays. You'd be completely wrong. I LOVE Christmas!! I just hate all the non-important cr@p (like, for instance, WORK) that gets in the way of my holiday fun. I was all put out this year that due to working full time, I could not put in my normal two full days of cookie baking and was only able to produce 23 dozen of 6 different kinds. Usually I go for about 8-10 kinds. And I'd bake for three days if I could get away with it!!

Squelching on my holiday fun also were our architects, one of which showed up at our doorstep on Saturday afternoon before Christmas and said, "Hey, I know we still need to patch some drywall for you, and I know you said you wanted advance notice, so I thought I'd let you know that they can come tomorrow!!" Fortunately, I was not the one that answered the door. Advance notice. Uh-hunh. Well, I guess for a man that usually calls our home phone during a work day at 11am and leaves a message saying that someone will be available at 2 and can we be home then...that is advance notice. We usually hear those messages when we get home at 7.

Now, I don't know if you've experienced drywall repairs, but sanding drywall creates this hyper-fine white dust that insidiously creeps throughout the house, covering literally every horizontal surface (and most vertical ones). It will show up in rooms where you've had the doors closed or two floors down from where a repair was done if you're not careful. Last time we had a repair made, I built a plastic cube for the guy to work in and carried pan after pan of boiling water up the stairs to humidify the cube so the dust would hopefully settle! Anyway, after I completely blew up and said I didn't have time to deal with this (T-minus 3.5 days 'til family events, with nary a present wrapped, nary a cookie baked), Michael insisted that he'd take care of everything.

Sunday after church he moved furniture, wrapped it in plastic and taped up drop cloths. Then he ran into the other architect, who actually seems like he might live on the same planet as the rest of the human race. That architect told Michael that they were actually showing up Monday. Great. That's cookie day. I had to pause the baking until "Pig-Pen", our drywaller, left. I am still unsure how he managed to get drywall paste on our bedside table, when it was a good ten linear feet from a patch site, or a good six feet from one through a wall. The first architect showed up at some point to ask if they could come back on Christmas Eve to finish. The conversation went something like this:

Me: We're going to be gone that day.

Architect of Unreality: Well, you can just let us in in the morning.

Me: I don't want to be cleaning up when we get home that night.

Architect of Unreality: We'll clean up!

Me: <pause...while I remember past experiences of what this architect labels "clean" and while I try to think of a way to explain his unacceptableness in this area...I settle for> Yeah, but I'm really picky.

Architect of Unreality: <who fortunately has past experiences with me, too> Yeah...OK.

Instead, they're going to show up on the 23rd at 10 and 5!! Fabulous! That's not going to destroy the day at all! "Pig-Pen" leaves at about 7, cursing and banging walls with his ladder and asking, "How did you get the furniture in here??" to which I respond, "Very carefully!" and avoid adding, "unlike how you're navigating with your ladder!"

Now, at this point in the day, the cookies are baked, yea, verily, and even assembled for transport to various households, they have been delivered to our hairstylist (who, along with his wife, is the most appreciative cookie recipient EVER!), and I am looking forward to a relaxing evening watching something and wrapping. Instead, however, Michael's "I'll do it all" slightly breaks down and I end up spraying down plastic sheets with water, wiping down walls on two floors, holding the ladder while Michael uses it at angles it was never intended to be used at, sweeping, and mopping. Fortunately, I only lose a couple hours, and all wrapping is done by about 11:30 or so.

Then the good stuff could happen...all day with my parents and my sisters, watching smiles light up, goodies be consumed, and paper fly. And, totally scoring with the nieces and nephews. The nephews (ages twentysomething) got The Dangerous Book for Boys, which I thought they might cast aside...but by the afternoon they both had their noses buried and were trying out the perfect paper airplane (one's flying jets for the Navy =). The nieces (teen and just out of college) got Vera all-in-one wristlets (thanks again, Angela, for the suggestion!!) which they loved. The youngest niece got a hand-stitched ornament (which I sadly do not seem to have a picture of!), a build-your-own track marble game (both of which elicited "Cool!")...and...a teensy kiddie starter digital camera in pink. Which, it turned out, and unbeknownst to me, had been on her list since summer. Goooooaaaalllll!

On Christmas, we went to church in the morning (a first for us; usually we do Christmas Eve service). The service was beautiful and it was fabulous to start our celebration of our Lord and Savior's birth on the actual day! After church (and presents) we went out to visit Michael's parents for the rest of the day.

And here is why my hubby is the presents were

If you're still with me, you deserve a medal. If you clicked down here from the top, well...I had a fabulous, but busy and sometimes annoying, Christmas. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, whether you observed it or not. And I pray you have a healthy, fulfilling new year!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Actual Stitching Progress

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Now there's something you haven't seen in a while! This is the needlebook from Ye Shall Prosper, year's ASG. I'm doing it as a Stitch-A-Long with Jill, Teresa, Jean, Judy and some others. This is actually the October goal, which I did not finish in October, but I worked on it in October, so it's all OK. I changed the top stitch on the "dictionary" from Broad Chain (I figure I'm going to be doing enough of that since all the smalls in the set are assembled using it) to Williamsburg. I also added my second initial, since there was space (Rae only had her first initial to the left of the acorn). I had to move my initial down, and now things look a wee bit off center, but oh well! The wiggly things on the right side are the buttonhole bar loops for the ribbon tie to go through. Yeah, not my best stitch.

And here we have 1/3 of a happy dance! This is one side of a 3-sided "bon bon" ornament from Wee Works. And I even started the second side!

Wha...? This chick does needlework??

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blowing through Town

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the lions are out This is the way I've felt for about the past month. Either I'm completely insensible, or I'm definitely not where or when I "should" be. In fact, despite the awesome time we had the first two days in Chicago, and during the trip as a whole, Saturday didn't go very well.

The plan was to get up, find Argo tea, find the half price tickets booth and procure some tickets for the evening, then meet Michael's parents at the Shedd Aquarium at noon, having already taken in some of the fishy goodness.

We did find Argo tea, which I highly, emphatically recommend. I need to start my letter-writing campaign to have them open locations in Atlanta! That was, unfortunately, the only thing that went according to plan. First we looked forever to find the half-price ticket place (which turned out to be stuffed away on a corner far from where the map said it was). Since we had not immediately found it, we decided to wait in line for rush tickets to Jersey Boys. This was a mistake. Once we made it to the front of the line, only obstructed view tickets were available. Now, since they were pretty cheap, this might have been fine...if the employee at the counter had been able to give us any useful information. The conversation went something like this:

Michael: "Now, I know these are obstructed view tickets, but could you tell us if we'll miss entire musical numbers, or just some parts of numbers?"

Man: "You'll miss anything on the catwalk." (Thanks, guy, we already knew that from the pre-opening announcements.)

Michael: "Yes, I understand that, but what I'm asking is whether entire numbers are performed up there, or just portions?"

Man: "What do you want for $25??"

Michael: "Um...I'm just trying to find out if we would miss entire numbers or just parts..."

Man: "Do you want the tickets or not?"

After that exchange, we decided "not", although I thought of many things I could have said to this guy after we left...such as, "Sir, I understand that you are incapable of helping us after we have repeatedly asked you to exercise your expertise on our behalf. Since you haven't seen the show, which is the only thing I can assume based on your lack of ability to answer simple questions about its content, could you perhaps ask a coworker who has seen it to help us?" Ahhhh, spite.

Now we were 1) without the promised tickets, 2) still without breakfast (not to mention caffeine...we hadn't made it to Argo yet!) and 3) creeping way too close to our meeting time. I'll cut through the wandering before and after finding Argo, the fruitless quest for tickets and the nerve-wracking bus ride through traffic and pick things up at the Shedd Aquarium, as we ran up and got in the "will call" line to exchange our CityPass tickets for admission tickets, already 20 minutes late to meet Michael's parents.

That's when we discovered that we were short a CityPass book. It's also when I discovered that I'd lost the beautiful scarf my mom knit me. =( Michael was in such a holy panic by that time that I didn't want to mention it to him...he was explaining to me that he was going to run after the bus to get the CityPass while I went in and met his parents (we went back to Argo and called CTA's lost and found to no avail-*sniff!*). I wasn't sure if I was going to throw up or faint, but I just stood there praying desperately! The worst part was, that as long as the line I was in was (it took 20 minutes to get through it), the line to purchase tickets was about 6 times as long! So if Michael didn't find his CityPass, I had no idea when he'd be able to get to us!

God was good to us and Michael was somehow able to run down the bus, where the driver handed him the missing CityPass! I am still baffled by how he did it, since we had gotten off the bus, walked across a green, asked an employee for directions, rode an elevator and gotten in line before discovering it was missing. At any rate, we were "only" 45 minutes late to meet his parents, who had already seen most of the Aquarium by that time. Sadly, we had to run through it, so I don't have that many pictures to share. It looked like a really cool Aquarium, too. *sigh* Next time!

After snarfing hot dogs, we booked it to the Adler Planetarium. We only had about 3 hours there, and we saw two shows. I still much prefer the traditional projector to the new-fangled ones.

Since we were right by the waterfront, we decided to take a ferry over to Navy Pier.
Not much of note there, except the fabulous and FREE stained glass museum. It seems like it goes half the length of the Pier (indoors), and has many Tiffany windows as well as other great examples of art glass.
These next guys really cheered me up. break this
They weren't quite So You Think You Can Dance material, but they were pretty good. After that, we walked back home and paused to watch the fireworks from the Pier.

Sunday morning was the Chicago Marathon, part of which we could see from our hotel room. running
After church, we grabbed a picnic lunch from Whole Foods and headed to Millennium Park to ogle the Bean (Cloudgate is its proper name).
I totally stole this idea from some fab British girls who asked me to take their picture. funhouse
Finally, we made it out to the Field Museum. Holy cow, this is a big place! field indeed Once again, we didn't have much time, so we ran through as many of the fabulous exhibits as we could. I loved the gem display, the Egyptian tomb, the Native American clothing! And, of course, Sue was there to sneak up on Michael's unsuspecting parents... get 'em, Sue! ...Sue is the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that's been found.

I decided that they weren't that big and scary, after all. I mean, one probably couldn't down me whole like in Jurassic Park. I could totally punch one in the nose and make it run away, just like a shark, doncha think?? not so scary
After all that running around, we had worked up quite an appetite, so it was time for more authentic Chicago pizza! The wait at Cafe Uno, where Chicago deep dish pizza was invented (reportedly because the owner wanted pizza to be a "sit down, knife and fork" meal) was about an hour and a half. So, we headed down the block to Cafe Due (doo-ay), which he opened because he'd run out of room at Uno. The wait there was "only" 45 minutes, and you could order your pizza ahead (they take about 30 minutes). due pizza Totally, totally worth it. Everywhere the Giordano's pizza failed me, the Due pizza succeeded. The crust was yummy, I didn't feel over-cheesed, and the sauce...! It was sooo good. After dinner we wandered back by the Tribune building, because we'd missed a wall Friday night and I wanted to remember where they had stolen liberated the rock from Illinois (it was from Abraham Lincoln's home).

Monday we rode the Metra out to the Museum of Science and Industry. It's the first time I've been on a bilevel train car! double decker
Here you can see the "tiny" atrium that houses a 727...and that's just about a fourth of the atrium! teeny atrium Again, it's a huge museum full of wonders. Michael's dad best remembered the "model trains" (that term doesn't do them justice!) and the circus models.

I definitely want to go back and spend more time in all the museums!! And, you know, maybe spend more time on the Mag Mile than the 5 minutes in Eddie Bauer I got! Michael's parents aren't big shoppers. =) But the trip as a whole was just awesome!

Note to self: Don't try to do an entire CityPass in 5 days ever again....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Share the Love

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I'm way remiss on thanking Annette and Rachel for very kindly awarding me the "I Love Your Blog" award!

Aw...thanks, guys! I love your blogs, too! Sorry I haven't posted the award before now. Work has been...interesting, along with all my out-of-town and sick time.

So, here are "the rules":

For those of you who have been awarded, please post the following rules on your Blog:

1. The winner can put the logo on their Blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other Blogs.
4. Put the links to those Blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the Blogs of those you’ve nominated.

Now, I am a rule-follower, but this is going to be hard. I have, at last count, 116 blogs in my reader. Yikes! I enjoy reading them all for different reasons...but I'll give this a stab, since I like to get awards and I think others probably do, too. =) Lessee...I'll leave out the ones by "famous" people (is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee really going to care if I comment that I've given her this award?) and I'll try to leave out ones that have already received the award as well. Man, this was really, really hard!!!

1. In the eye candy and anecdotal department, Girl with Needles.

2. In the always insightful and often surreal department, casablanca.

3. In the educational department, Knitting Letters. We're not just talking knitting education here, either!

4. In the uplifting and inspiring department, Martha! Martha!. She does not post frequently anymore, but when she does, it's worth it (plus you can gorge yourself on historical posts right now!)

5. In the "things that make you think" department, Rosey Eyes. She's got another blog, too: Confessions of a Southern Foodie, and it's excellent as well.

6. In the "explains things in the level of detail my literal mind needs" department, TECHknitting. Now we are just talking knitting, wait! There's sewing instruction, too!

7. In the yet more eye candy department, Stash Collector.

8. In the everything I needed to know about NASCAR (and perhaps more than I "needed" to know) department, Baa Baa Knit Stitch.

0. Honorable Mention...I'm not going to technically "give" the award to this blog, as a friend wrote it just to chronicle his trip out West in a mobile home with his sister, brother-in-law and two teenaged nieces, but, as you can imagine, it is hilarious and you need to read it! Heads Carolina, Tails California

Expand your horizons...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chicago Wildlife

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Finally, we reach day 2 of the Chicago trip! This day Michael and I started off trying to walk to a local tea place, Argo, but unfortunately he had the wrong location, so after we walked a big loop we were very nearly late to meet his parents for our bus tour of architecture. Ten minutes and some hastily scarfed Corner Bakery breakfast panini later (dang, those eggs were GOOD!), we dashed to the bus, and I managed to only spill a few drops of my precious, precious caffeine on the way, LOL! It was Mighty Leaf tea, so I was in heaven! This tour was also done by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and was also excellent. Our docent gave a running commentary of places we were driving by, while bus driver extraordinaire, Derek, navigated us around high school pep rallies, construction traffic, and Chicago's Finest protecting Senator Obama's estate. We had a few stops along the way as well, which broke things up nicely. One stop was outside the Rookery (le sigh, Wikipedia's picture is better than mine...). From the outside of this 12-story building, you'd never guess the influx of light to the center court: rookery I dearly wish that current-day architects would "waste" many stories of space to bring real sunlight into buildings! I am very blessed that the atrium of my current office building extends the height of the building (11 stories), and the front is all windows!

My other favorite stop was at Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House. Unfortunately, we were only allowed to take pictures of the outside: robie This was one of my favorites, because having only really seen his prairie windows, I wondered what the big deal was. Having seen this house, and heard its stories from our fabulous house docent, I finally "get" it. He was all about architecting the complete living experience, from mortaring the bricks so you only see horizontal lines, to making sure the roof design allowed direct sunlight in during most of the winter day, but not most of the summer day, to designing an intimate dining area that "forced" diners to concentrate on each others' faces. Those windows that show up in museums...well, they were just that: windows. Things to look through to appreciate the natural surroundings of the house, not to be stared at as isolated art pieces.

After the tour, we hopped on the subway and went out to see the three hotels that Michael's great uncle owned before the Great Depression. Yup, if it hadn't been for his poor buying choices, as well as a nasty divorce ("He slapped her!" wrote the outraged Tribune), I might have been the wife of a hotel magnate. LOL! But seriously, it was kind of fun to see the progression...the first hotel cost about $1 million, the second about $2 million, and the third about $3.5 million. The first two have been converted into rather dingy apartment buildings, but the third still retains some of its initial glory:
lott 3
lott interior

The hotels were down by the Zoo and the mini-but-enjoyable botanical garden. It was a simply beautiful day for enjoying the lawn in front of the garden. skyline from zoo But we were running so short on time! dashing through We thoroughly enjoyed the garden, and, once again, someone's quirky sense of humor... MOTHRA!

We literally ran through the Zoo also (this is by far the best free zoo I've been to), but I couldn't help snapping a picture of the lionnesses playing. just a big kitty

Hey, look out there, little buddy! That's a big predator mere feet from you! look out! Mr. Squirrel was very thankful for our help chasing away Mr. Hawk. whew! Actually, it was kind of astonishing how many squirrels were romping around. It seemed like there were more and more as it got closer to closing time. I'm pretty sure that the Zoo is taken over by squirrels after closing, though I don't have any good theories as to what they do with all that power...anyone??

We ended our day by using our first CityPass ticket to ride to the top of the Hancock Tower. It may not be the tallest, but I think the views were excellent... skyline ...I especially enjoyed looking out over the Lake.

Wandering back from the Tower, we needed sustenance. And, as the day before we'd already discovered that all eating places close at 8pm, forget about the fact that it's Free Target Thursday at the Museum and hundreds of starved people are streaming out of its doors in search of food, food, ANY FOOD AT ALL...we were worried about finding dinner. Then, we arrived at what may be the most beautiful intersection anywhere... chocolately Uh-hunh. That's my kind of restaurant row. The baked goods at Hershey's would have sold me instantly, but as the Lott family proper runs more on ice cream than heaps-o-icing like me, we ordered at the Ghirardelli cafe. I got the drinking chocolate, which I expected to be like the drinking chocolate I'd had at Maison du Chocolat in Paris and New York, or like the "discount" version that Starbucks had a couple years ago. Instead, I got a cup of melted chocolate bars. Now, that sounds great, but not so much to drink. It was kind of...chunky. After passing the cup around and getting through about 3 oz., I admitted defeat. Fortunately, the nice guy at the counter filled the cup with steamed milk. Then, it was perfect!

On the way back to the hotel, we did a little nighttime sight seeing. Ever since our Hancock Tower audio tour guide David Schwimmer mentioned that whenever a Chicago Tribune journalist goes somewhere no one else at the paper has been, he or she always brings a rock back...and sticks them in the wall of the building (!), I'd wanted to see them. To fulfill my hours-long dream, we walked by the building (it's one of Michael's favorites, so we were going there anyway). Every US state, St. Paul's in London, the Houses of Parliament and Lords, Notre Dame de Paris, the Forbidden City!!! I was thinking, you know, regular rocks, but no! These guys ripped off the good stuff. Come on, you would think somewhere with "Forbidden" in its name would be safe... stolen history ...nope. But then, what do you expect from people working in a building where the architecture quite literally thumbs its nose at you?? jerks!

To close this post, here's a shot of one of my favorite buildings in Chicago...I like to think of it as "double your tower, double your fun"...I give you the Wrigley Building. double your building

More architecture, Lott family history, cavorting squirrels, and chocolate that defeated even me....

Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Chance

You still have about 7 hours to enter Stash Collector's Breast Cancer Awareness Month blog candy contest!

But it's never too late to take care of the "girls"!

It may be too cold for me to wear this to the volleyball game tonight, though...Go Jackets!!!!!


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Really, this test was hilarious to take...if for nothing else than the "advice" that pops up throughout the test for surviving....

Your result for How Long Would you Survive in a Horror Film?...

The Horror Aficionado

54% chance of survival!

Sometimes known as "the wise guy" or "the totally platonic best friend". This character is usually either the most likeable or most excruciatingly annoying character in the movie, because he's almost always the comic relief (or lack thereof). Sometimes he is the first to die because he figures out what's going on, tries to escape and is killed. However, the horror aficionado will more likely use his knowledge to devise the plan that eliminates the threat. That means he survives until the end where he ends up dying as a sacrifice so that the heroine can carry out the plan. Though he tends to lack a backbone, you do feel somewhat bad when he dies.

All possible results:


The Black Guy

The Horror Aficionado

The Hero/Heroine

The Killer

Take How Long Would you Survive in a Horror Film? at HelloQuizzy

Oh, fine. Kill the funny girl.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quick Update

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I'm back from ASG! I had a fabulous time; I'll give you a full report later. Wednesday night I was so exhausted by 9:30pm that I couldn't finish packing (and I'm usually the "stay up 'til midnight to finish" type), and trundled off to bed & Nyquil (praise God for Nyquil!!) hoping I could finish in the morning. I barely made it with 20 minutes to spare before the Party Van (tm) arrived to whisk me to Hilton Head. Thursday night I was exhausted again, but the good news is that I got a good night's sleep, felt pretty good Friday and GREAT Saturday...and usually I'm tanked by Saturday at ASG. Hmmm, that sleep thing really works, huh?? This week I've been slammed with work as usual, and the start of Christmas choir season, but I hope to find time this weekend amongst dealing with the tasks I've neglected for the past three weekends to blog!!

I'll also continue my Chicago adventures. To answer some questions, indystitch, our tour docent was a female, so unless John can do some amazing drag, it wasn't him. =) Also, that was the Cultural Center with the fabulous blue dome ceiling. I highly recommend a visit; the mosaic tile work is incredible!!

Speaking of the mosaics, no one has even made a guess about the fictional character whose symbol I posted, so here's another huge hint: My XBox gamer tag came from the series where that charcter was created.

And one more's your chance to make a guess at which intelligence type I came out as in the Eight Types of Intelligence Test. Anyone? I was completely unsurprised by the result, LOL!!

I'm alive, feeling better, and my vacation recaps will continue soon. And, it's still not too late for blog candy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Off again..

Due to the fabulous Lott family scheduling of the Chicago trip, I'm already off again...this weekend to Hilton Head for my yearly ASG trip.

I've barely gotten the laundry done, since last Thursday I came down with a terrible cold (sinus infection?) that had me in bed Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I hobbled back to work Monday, but I don't know how much use I was. Tuesday when we walked to lunch, I thought I'd pass out. Today I feel so much better. Still weak, but ready for a rowdy weekend of stitching. Or something like that.

Jean comes to pick me up in the Party Van (tm) in...oh...about 14 hours as I write this (about 2 hours as it's posted), and I have not packed a thing. I better get on that! Eye candy, scary needle stories and more Chicago tales when I return!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicago Sampler

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Heather and Michael in Chicago
Before the trip to Chicago, I'd heard that it was called "The Windy City" because of the politicians (on the trip I learned it was the politicians that convinced the Worlds' Fair committee to come there). However, I suspect some of the breeze two weekends ago was created by us as we blew through the city at top speed! We had a wonderful trip, and I just loved Chicago. It was so beautiful, and so CLEAN! However, we barely scratched the surface in our five days. I'd love to go back (and ride a sailboat when it's warmer!)

After a too-short night (I estimate 5 hours sleep), we took off with Michael's parents to the airport, flew to Chicago and immediately boarded the El. I'm astonished by how close it comes to the buildings--and at what an angle it leans on turns--as it hurtles through the city! We checked in to the hotel and then set off to start our pizza sampling at Giordano's, where we decided to wait the 35 minutes for a stuffed-crust pizza: stuffed crust pizza Whoah, that's a lot of cheese! I estimate I consumed the equivalent of 3 cups of shredded mozzarella. It was good, but I admit I was a little disappointed...the sauce was not to my taste (too tomatoey, not enough savory), and the crust was pretty "blah" as well. However, we were well-fortified for a walking tour of Chicago architecture. I learned about Chicago style windows (one large one in the middle, with two smaller, working windows to each side: Chicago style windows I'm so envious of Chicago's city planning. If only Atlanta had taken advantage of Sherman's horrific flame-throwing in the same manner that Chicago benefitted from Old Lady Leary's cow's mischief by deciding to completely replan the city since it was levelled anyway.

Tiffany gorgeousness was everywhere, like on the ceiling of the Marshall Fields building (now Macy's): Marshall Fields ceiling Tiffany wasn't the only one who had it going on, either: Community Center dome
This row of buildings faces Lake Michigan, but Chicago is lousy with gorgeous buildings, both of the original load-bearing masonry and the newfangled steel frame variety. Of course, the steel frame variety are usually clad with fireproof terra cotta to stave off future bovine intervention. Michigan Row
After walking ourselves silly, we headed to the Art Institute Museum for Target Free Thursdays! Admission to the Museum is free, courtesy of Target, Thursdays from 5-8. If you go to Chicago, DO NOT MISS THIS MUSEUM!!! It just may be my favorite museum ever. I could have showed you tons and tons of pictures we took during the two plus hours we ran through it in (we had to stop for a snack in the cafe...mainly salad, to counteract the large dosage of bread, meat and cheese from earlier...and by the way, the cafe food was great and reasonably priced). Their collections are deep and the artifacts on display were all excellent. In most museums I've been to, in any given section there are a bunch of ho-hum objects and two or three that you really want to spend time studying. In this one, almost every piece was worth considering. And, there was a wide array of pieces, from fine arts to decorative arts to ancient artifacts.

I tried to have a Cameron* moment, but there were really too many people there for deep self-contemplation. real art
Also, you gotta love a museum that includes quality 19th century tchotchke--the complete set!--like this monkey band... monkey band ...not to mention the paperweight collection: paperweights
One of the most stunning exhibits was the Thorne Miniature Rooms. There are 68 rooms, recreated in painstaking detail. These go way beyond dollhouse rooms. Each tiny carpet is hand-stitched on 30-count mesh. The furniture is handcrafted. tiny room There is a series of rooms showing every room in an English house in the Georgian period, the late Tudor period, Jacobean period and the Modern period. Then there is a series showing a the rooms of French house in the Louis XV and Revolutionary periods. Then there are sitting rooms from most US states, and from different periods. And on it goes. I wanted way more than the 15 minutes we had to run past them all!
tiny people have UFOs, too But it was comforting to see that even these wee stitchers had UFOs, too. =)

And now for some blog candy...who can tell me what fictional character this symbol reminds them of? I'm thinking of one referred to in a TV series that was on in the last 5 years. You've got until October 31st to dig up the answer. OK, that's two big hints already. Email me at heather at lottloft dot com, with "blog candy" in the subject line. If I don't get any correct answers by next week, I'll start posting more hints. If I get more than one, I'll draw a winner for some blog candy. name that symbol

Day one of five...stay tuned for more pizza eating, more museums, and more bus drama than you can shake a stick at!

* And watch "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," for goodness' sake!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I'll be in Chicago with the spouse and his parents for the next five days. Maybe there will be pictures when I return! Just wanted to let you know why there's no new posts showing opposed to normally when posts aren't showing up because I'm so busy.... =) Thanks for hanging in there!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Yup, that about says it all. Especially the cold part.

You Are Apple Cider

Smooth and comforting. But downright nasty when cold.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lottlympiad Closing Cermonies

Click now for JiffNotes

Bob: The pageantry, the euphoria, the heartache...

{inspiring theme music plays}

Bob: Two weeks of dedication. A chance for one woman to finish more projects during one month than ever before. Plans are made...goals set. But in the end, will the striving be enough? Will this be a Games to remember...or just leave the Lottloft littered with UFOs, the detritus of lost innocence and broken dreams?

{music swells}

Bob: Here is where it all the Games of the Lottlympiad!

{epic music reaches a crescendo, then relents; more whimsical music begins}

Bob: Welcome, everyone, to our recap of the final weekend of competition and the Closing Ceremonies.

Jim: That's Closing Ceremony, Bob. There was one for the Opening, one for the Closing.

Bob: ... Actually, you're right, Jim. Sorry about that. Closing Ceremony.

{whimsical music fades}

Jim: Today we'll be hearing from some of the fine commentators you've heard this past two weeks to get their impressions of this year's Games.

Bob: But first off, we have reports that a Bronze was earned in the Chore Steeplechase.

Jim: That's right, Bob. This proved a very unpopular event for some reason. Really, there were no attempts for any other medals.

Bob: We had similar results in Synchronized seems that after the initial Bronze, the other medal levels looked too intimidating.

Jim: Well, once fatigue set in, somewhere in the middle of week two, there were whole evenings when no progress of any kind was made.

Bob: The games was also rocked by controversy when a Silver medal was awarded for the Peacock Dressage. Let's go to Ted and Cynthia at the Water Cube...

Jim: Um, Bob? Why are we going to the Water Cube for information on a Dressage Event?

Bob: Don't ask questions, Jim. Cynthia?

Ted: Bob, there has been much speculation that the Silver was unfairly awarded for completion of the Bronze level in the Peacock Dressage.

Cynthia: Ted, what you have to remember is that this is a somewhat subjective sport, and the judges have the leeway to reward outstanding performance.

Ted: To the untrained eye, though, Cynthia, it looks suspicious, right?

Cynthia: Well, let's take a look at the StroMotion shot of the final bead going on.

Tim: Help me out here, what are we looking at?

Cynthia: First of all, you can see the bead traveling down the thread, and, most important of all, the perfectly vertical entry into the fabric.

Tim: But what's that got to do with the number of beads used, Cynthia?

Cynthia: Well, in the background, you can just make out the beading cloth, and you can see that there are no beads remaining.

Tim: Definitely an achievement. Back to you, Bob.

Bob: There you have it: photographic evidence. And speaking of photographic evidence, we have some shots of the Bead Relay medal performances, brought to us by Tom and Lewis at the Birds' Nest.

Tom: We've seen some impressive things here this week, Bob, not the least of which is a record-breaking performance in the Bead Relay! Three finished projects in a two-week period...this has surely never happened here before! For a recap, here's Lewis.

Lewis: Thanks, Tom. FirstOfAll, weCanSeeThatTheOriginalDragonStitchMarkersHaveBeenRecreated.

Lewis: RememberThatWithTheUnnamedProjectAlreadyFinished, WeWereAlreadyAtBronzeLevel, butThisPutUsToTheSilver. AndNowOurCompetitorTookAMuchNeededBreakUntilItWasTimeForTheGoldMedalRun.
Tom: We'll have more for you later on, Bob.

Bob: Thanks, Tom. So, as the final weekend began, and the last push got under way, the increased daylight hours of viewing yielding another Silver medal, this time in the Autumn Jewels Clean and Jerk.

Jim: That's just beautiful, Bob. And I see our stitcher went above and beyond the Silver level by withdrawing all the threads for the wrapped bars.

Bob: Wrapped...? Um, yes, Jim, it is nice. Say, Jim, have you been reading up on the events?

Jim: Well, you know, Bob, I can't get by on good looks forever.

Bob: ... Ah. And with that, we're going out to the beach to hear from Chris and Karch.

Chris: Thanks, Bob. We're here to report on something unprecedented, a first for the Games, and for the LottLoft in general.

Karch: That's right, Chris...they said it couldn't be done, but we have a completed sweater!

Chris: Say, is that going to fit? I mean, are you going to be able to move in that? Will it, you know...cover everything?

Karch: I've been assured that once it's been through some wet conditions, it'll shape up nicely and there won't even be issues. Back to you, Bob.

Bob: There you have it: a solid showing in the Tubey Tornado. Get it, Jim? Solid!

Jim: ... Yeeeah, I get it.

Bob: Now let's head back out to the Birds' Nest to get an update on the Bead Relay from Tom and Lewis.

Tom: High on the success of the Tubey Tornado, our stitcher decides to try for one more medal in the Bead Relay with a completed necklace and earrings. Here with the call is Lewis.

Lewis: Tom, theKitWasWellPutTogether, andYou'dThinkItWouldn'tTakeMoreThanAnHour, butComplicationsAroseWhenTheKitHadNoInstructions, onlyAPhotocopyOfTheCompletedNecklace, andWorse, THE COLORS OF THE BEADS WERE DIFFERENT! THEY'RE ALL DIFFERENT! Well. TheBeadsWouldHaveToBeSorted. TheClaspAttachmentWasUnfamiliar. HurdleAfterHurdleCleared, justTheEarringsRemained....

Bob: We'll have the conclusion of the Bead Relay later on. Now, here in the studio with us to talk about another controversy is Bela. Bela, we've heard doubts voiced that our stitcher actually stuck it during competition. Can you speak about this?

Bela: Vell, dis ridikulousness really make me mad! I mean, you see de picture! How else you bead like dat if you no stick and stab? Dis girl vork her heart out, she do beautiful vork, and now we heard deese rumors! I know dis girl, she alvays stick and stab, she never sew!

Bob: I though we were just talking about sticking...

Jim: Let me jump in here, Bob. Some stitchers use the "sewing" method, where they bring the needle in and out of the fabric in one motion. Others stick the needle in the fabric, pull the thread all the way through, then stab it back up to the top.

Bob: ... Wow, Jim. I didn't know that.

Bela: Yes! Und now you see, yes, dis is de only vay! Und anyvay, dis girl not only stick when she bead, but all de time! Even just vit de floss! Look at my tie; she stitch on it...see? Vat you going to tell me???

Bob: I'm going to tell you that it's time to wrap up our coverage here, so let's go one more time to Tom and Lewis.

Tom: With the Closing Ceremony entering its final hours and the extinguishing of the flame looming, our stitcher makes one last push at the Bead Relay. Lewis will take us through the final minutes.

Lewis: Tom, backAtTheBeadRelay, allIsGoingWell, oneEarringDown, oneToGo, despite MORE WIRE WRAPPING!! OH NO! But our Lottlete pushes through! She'sGoingToMakeIt, butWhat's THIS? JacquesRoggeIsSteppingUpToThePodium! HE CAN'T EXTINGUISH THE FLAME YET! GET THAT WACKY LONDON MAYOR'S PAWS OFF THE FLAG! WAIT! WAIT!! WAIT!!!! Oh, yeah...tape delay! There's still synchronized swimming to watch! So before she saw the flame die, SHE MADE IT!!!

Tom: Gold in the Bead Relay! An inspiring ending to a marathon effort. Back to you, Bob.

Bob: We're just about finished here. But first, Jim, I'd just like to take this moment to say that I know we started out a little rocky, but I feel like you've really stepped up your game here lately. Your input has really added a lot to today's episode.

Jim: Thanks, Bob. It really makes all the reading, research and hard work worth it.

Bob: Well, that's it for this Games. We'll see you in 18 months for the Games of the Winter Lottlympiad. We're coming to you on tape delay...we had to clear customs, you know.

Jim: And, of course, there was that black hole opened up by the particle accelerator in Switzerland really threw us for a loop.

Bob: What?

Jim: It's the only explanation that makes sense, Bob. It doesn't take an entire month to clear customs. It must have been the black hole.

Bob: Say goodbye, Jim.

Jim: Goodbye, everyone!

I'm totally going to blame everything on the particle accelerator for like, a few months. I'll have a real update soon....

Old Geek-outs