Washed in Translation


I try to be a responsible launderer. I read the labels. I separate the colors and the whites. I don't tumble dry something that says 'line dry.' If it says dry flat, I use the handy contraption I got from the Container Store that lays a netted platform across the bathtub, and I dry flat. I even endured the delayed response horror when I realized a male friend had asked to use our bathroom... while my 'line dry' undies where hanging over the bathtub. (Things I Miss About Ohio Part 1: apartments big enough to have dedicated laundry rooms!) He never said anything, and I guess there's some solace to be found in that.
If the label tells me what to do, I'll do it. And I can usually rely upon the kindness of the manufacturer to dispatch me to the washing machine with instructions that come in English. Not Egyptian hieroglyphics.
But my new cozy black cardigan (discovered in the aforementioned emergency Los Angeles shipping trip) has no English, and the only thing I can figure by all the little X's across the symbols on the care label is that maybe I shouldn't be washing this garment at all.
We find another reason to love the internet: I google "wash instruction symbols" and I find guidance.
The only thing without an X over it is the letter P in a circle, which I discover means, "Dry clean using any solvent except trichloreothylene." Should that have been obvious? Was I supposed to know that? Am I being punished once again for going to a high school that taught "Concepts of Justice" instead of Home Ec?
I can't exactly see myself becoming the most high maintenance customer at Kenny the Kleaners by inquiring about the solvents. Despite the desire to boast of my new-found knowledge and act like it's merely common sense. I think I'll just hand it over and assume it'll come back in good shape.

Breaking News: Our Ship is Sunk


Or at least listing, in chilly Antarctic waters.

I was a little shocked to open my NYT home page and read that the Antarctic Cruise ship, the Explorer, had to be evacuated after hitting (of course) an iceberg. After double checking photos from me and Juliet's 2002 cruise to Antarctica I confirmed that this was our ship. Talk about good timing! (Although Juliet and I had rocked the evacuation and life safety drill, being the only passengers who actually put on our coats and strapped up the life jackets. Yes, we felt like nerds when we arrived on deck to see that everyone else was treating the drill as a mere, boring formality, holding their jackets on their hips.)

It's apparent in reading the details that the tour company that we trusted with our polar safety had sold the ship to another company. So there should be no retrospective worrying from relatives reading this post!

Here are a few photos from better days on the Explorer, including me doing my bit to look out for icebergs and my time on the bridge, where I remember the first mate advising that lots of ships hit icebergs, but very rarely sink. Everyone just thinks of the Titanic. (I walked away from that conversation feeling just a wee bit unsettled by the nonchalance of our crew regarding icebergs, but had to figure they knew what they were doing.)



The last photo credit goes to Juliet, and I've always found it striking - particularly in its contrast to what happened to the Explorer today.

Stuffed

The Thanksgiving Cornish hens and the twelve sides that accompanied them (I exaggerate) were good and tasty. Far more than two people who are eyeing their wedding day looming on the calendar and trying to consume accordingly could eat. So we have the true Thanksgiving tradition in effect: leftovers.

Now I'm wondering how to get the smell of yesterday's cooking out of the kitchen. (Onions, garlc.)
I am taking advantage of the luxury of four days off of work to address chores that have nagged at me: fixing the hem on a skirt, cleaning the oven. As well as the things I always wish I had more time to do: reading, listening to the radio.

Last night I even gave myself a facial! It was a gift, and one of those beauty products that if I did not make an effort to use, would probably sit on the medicine shelf until we move again. I'd screw off the top of the citrus scrub, sniff carefully, and wrinkle my nose at the smell of stale beauty product. Any beauty product that arrives in a package labeled "gift set" has a higher likelihood of this destiny. (But I still love getting gift sets! Something about the cute little bottles, and the yummy scents, when they're not expired.)
I almost changed my mind about the facial when I saw the instruction book was 32 pages long, but it turned out to be easy enough to skim. (I was incredulous that the 32 page guide was called out as an attractive inclusion of the kit on the outside box. Are you kidding?)
Of course midway through the clay mask, I hear Jason's office door pop open and his footsteps approach down the hall. I steeled myself for the teasing. "I'm giving myself a facial!" I called out in warning before he opened the bedroom door, so that he wouldn't be scared to see his fiance as a green-masked alien. "Can I take a picture?" he asked. "No."

New Leaf

I give thanks that there's someone far more technically savvy than me in the house. One who takes a keen interest in wanting to rewallpaper my blog, and does it in one hour with a design he led me towards on the web, while I sleep.
"When you wake up tomorrow, you'll have a new blog design." he promised. It's like Thanksgiving day was Christmas.
Thank you Jason.

Super Yuck

I usually think of those people who claim to suffer from "Seasonal Affective Disorder" (SAD) as melodramatic. Ok, there are people who really have a problem, but I think the others might just be looking for attention. Same goes for the many lactose intolerant and those who can't ride in the backseat of cars without whining of nausea. I carry a particular suspicion towards the last group that dates back to carpooling in grade school. The front passenger seat is a coveted position, and how convenient that a medical condition should necessitate your sitting there, instead of in the cramped back seat with empty soda cans and odd shoes rolling around on the floor?

This week has me contemplating my own fallibility though, because it's just been a glum week. Rainy. Foggy. Dark. And it's getting to me.
Tonight we might even get snow.
There has been the small consolation that my boss offered the "work at home" option today. Yay for telecommuting! I did not leave the apartment all day... but that might also be contributing to the feeling of isolation and too many thoughts trapped in my head today.

No Turkey, Because I'm Chicken

Thanksgiving looms, the supermarket shelves more full than usual in anticipation of us all tromping in with our 3x longer shopping lists. Jason and I will be in Chicago, leaving me with the first Thanksgiving dinner to cook.
Yes, I could take this opportunity to do a test run of the full turkey, in anticipation of years future where the family meal responsibility will come to me (not if my relatives are savvy, but it could happen.) I think I'd have the Butterball hotline on speaker all day, and in fear of undercooking the bird, I'd probably have a dry meat coming out of the oven. And then there's this thing about "tenting" the turkey? Or injecting it? (Do I have to ask my local hospital ER if I may borrow a syringe?) I don't even know which side is the breast side of the turkey!
The injecting part is kind of wickedly cool though.

Baby steps. Which is why this Thanksgiving we will be enjoying (fingers crossed!) cornish hens. Like a mini turkey, so much less intimidating. Look at the pictures, and you'll agree.
I figured a 20 lb turkey is a ridiculous undertaking for two people anyway, but with cornish hens we still get the carnivore's delight of eating something that still looks like the bird it once was, rather than a thick slice of turkey breast that I got at the deli counter.

I have my shopping list, and today I head to the store.

30 Days


In 30 days we'll be getting married. Well, providing Jason and I don't annoy the heck out of each other. Just 30 days left of being "single." Quotes because we've been attached for years already, with shared furniture and a two-year-old cat to prove it.
The cat was the first real tangible long-term commitment. I remember looking at our new little mewing kitten, as Jason teased him into falling in somersaults over his scratching post, and thinking to myself, "Shoot, this little guy might be around for 18 years. We'll be nearly 50 by then." It was like an accidental pact that we had to stick together for our little furball. (Wait, am I kidding myself? Did Teedie even notice I was gone all last week?)
A friend pointed out that I could start packing for Hawaii already, since none of the clothing I'd wear there would be appropriate for here. But no black fleece. Ever. Again.
We've made a small effort at a registry (Crate & Barrel and about 2 things at Bed, Bath & Beyond.) It's easy to get a little giddy with the scanning gun. "Yes, let's get that too!" It's just about things I want, not about stuff I have to buy myself. The headiness of retail euphoria. But I still haven't found the right towels, or exactly the right pots and pans.
It's crazy how expensive these housewares are, it gives me second thoughts about the adequacy of my pot and pan collection. The most recent addition was a pot that Grandma gave me, which might have been abandoned as someone moved out of a neighboring apartment in her building. Grandma can make sure that household goods get a chance at a life nearly as long as hers. And every time I call she tells me I have to come and pick up a bag of more treasures she has waiting for me: a good winter coat, kitchen towels, good fabric.
But the gift-giving can go on until our Chicago reception in June, so I guess there's no reason to rush into a hasty bed or bath (or beyond) decision.
I wonder if anyone would mind if I just maintained the registry after we get married too?

Lost in LA

Despite the glamorous sound of it, "week-long photo shoot in Los Angeles" complete with stops in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, it was like a bad camping trip. Cold, overcast and lots of time just standing around outside and waiting. Nibbling on nuts and granola too.
The weather forecast promised 70 degrees plus all week. After checking this, I considered taking some of the warmer items out of of my bag and throwing in flip flops. I'm glad I didn't, since my co-worker and I spent out first night in Los Angeles at the Nordstrom Rack sifting through the hangers for warm cardigans and hoodies. It was ~50 degrees everyday.
I hoped to meet up with future sister-in-law Courtney who lives in San Diego. Consider this my "late year's resolution" to take advantage of business trips that take me closer to friends and family. But after I realized that asking someone to drive from San Diego to LA is like asking them to drive from Philadelphia to NYC, and Courtney had scheduling challenges at work, we called it off. We'll see each other next month anyway in Hawaii, where the commute will be just a short beach hop.
That's where I was this past week, lost in Los Angeles. Wearing the same darn black fleece jacket every single day, and bundled underneath with layers of whatever I could find in my suitcase.
I am ready to burn that fleece. I considered this sleeker alternative at the North Face store on Michigan Avenue last night. Walked away without purchasing though, now suffering second thoughts!

The Snaps from Spain

After my last post, you might have been given the impression that I'd collapsed into the bed in my Madrid hotel room and slept right through my flight home. Or, due to the office aggravation, decided to stay abroad and never come home.
I'm home, with my tourist photos to share. As is the case with a solo traveler, you'll see more photos that I took, than photos that were actually taken of me. There's only so many times you can ask strangers to snap your photo until you begin to look like a narcissist. But you will see my having a go at tasting sauteed pigs' ears.
The photos of our flamenco dinner don't do the driving incessant rhythms any justice, of course. I had to remind myself to put the camera down and soak up the experience, because the photos would never be as good as the moment. One of my co-workers who had researched our destination more than me, explained that the guys who clap the rhythm for the dancers purposefully clap out of sync so there's a constant clapping fueling the rhythm of the dancer's jack hammer tapping footsteps. 'Dancing with the Stars' cannot compare.
It's unfortunate that I couldn't take photos of the inside of the Royal Palace which is luxurious and rich in its interiors. For example, the walls of The Porcelain Room are entirely clad in fine porcelain china. (Follow the link and you'll see that not everyone follows the no photo rule.)
Similarly, although photos were permitted "sin flash" in the Cathedral at Toledo, I realized that there was no way the grandeur of the place could be captured in the aperture of my point-and-shoot digital camera. It was built in 1226! But you can see my efforts, nonetheless. Toledo was a fascinating side trip, where the history of the place was apparent in every crevice and cobblestone. The entire city is a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. The streets are narrow and winding; the balcony of your across the street neighbor is just three feet away from yours. I read in my guidebook that staying the night in Toledo is worthwhile, because the tourist buses (like the one I rode in on) leave and the town goes back to its quiet historic serenity. Next time.
 

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