We Got a Kitten


And after days like I had today, I wish she wasn't so adept at timidly hiding under the bed. I needed a kitten snuggle.

Her name is Piper. One of Jason's coworkers was trying to find her a home after she wandered into their apartment after being left by a stray cat who'd had a litter. It's a little unclear whether she belonged to the stray or was part of another coincidental litter.

She seems to be getting along well with our big cat, Teedie. I think she likes him a lot more than he likes her. She pulls a very funny move where she weaves under his tummy, Harlem Globetrotter style almost. He stops mid-stride, totally perplexed.

After we first brought Teedie home everyone had insisted we get another cat...which would have been helpful to know before getting the first cat. After seeing him dart upstairs to visit with our neighbor's cats whenever he gets the chance, it seemed like he might enjoy a friend.



Oh yeah, can anyone recommend a digital camera with better stability control? You'd think I was belly-dancing while taking these photos - so blurry!

Walking


This is a pretty cool tool: Walkscore. Measure the walkability of your neighborhood.

Ours is an 85 out of 100. Pretty good, I think.

Chicago is ranked the 4th most Walkable City in the United States. Philadelphia is number 5; Columbus 27. Which makes me feel bad for every city 28+ because I very rarely walked in Columbus. Once I tried to walk to the supermarket kitty corner from my apartment and discovered that there weren't really sidewalks but muddy gullies and not really great crosswalks. But my neighborhoood was only 15th within the city anyway.

The less that I drive, the happier I am. Even before gas prices got ridiculous. Even before I had a big surgery boot on my foot that has to be exchanged for an equally dorky but smaller boot for driving.

Finally, Second Grade Fashion is Back


I called it! Finally my second grade fashion dreams might come true. The moccasin is coming back!

When I was seven, we lived in Japan. We were with the Navy so our family got "base privileges." We could shop at the Navy Exchange: buy American products, eat pizza and all with dollars. (And when even the tooth fairy is giving you yen, a crumply green dollar has a comfortable familiarity to it.) My dad was the one lucky, lucky member of our family who got to go to the bigger base at Yokohama. (And fly in a helicopter to get there, no less!)

I'm now an adult and recognize that my parents values were in the right place: don't spend money to take your kids to shop for a limited selection of KMart-grade, US products when there are beautiful shrines and parks around Japan to visit.

But when you're seven this logic is lost. If I wasn't allowed to go to the big base with him, Dad was willing to bring us back something. He asked, 'what did we want from the base?' I asked for moccasins. I really wanted Minnetonka moccasins.

All the real wanting to go back home, to be with my friends in the States, got assigned to this shoe. Kind of poetic that little Claire picked such a true American shoe, inspired by the Native Americans. It wasn't that I so badly wanted that shoe, so much that I wanted to be back in America, eating Oreos, watching cartoons in English, not Japanese.

I feel a little guilty now, because Dad probably did look for moccasins, but a specific shoe can be hard enough to find at DSW or Nordstrom's, never mind a child's shoe at the Navy Exchange. Like Prince Charming looking for Cinderella, except it was the glass slipper that was missing. I might as well have asked for the coordinating teepee too.

So it was a childhood dream unfulfilled. The yearning for the moccasin at seven was the wanting of a big wheel at six or a Cabbage Patch Kid at eight.
I dreamed of this traditional beaded moc.Not sure if Jason would be embarrassed to be seen with me if I were wearing these. It seems like they'd be a perfect birthday present for self in September.

Here are the ones Leah recommended the last time I was musing about mocs, Manimals. I can't decide on my favorite color, and my mother is whispering in my ear telling me that an ivory shoe is impractical for how dirty it'd get as I scuff it along CTA steps.But this is about making your daughter's dreams come true, Mom.

Small Things


When replying to someone's email, do you ever fix the typos that came with their original message?

Our real estate lawyer's paralegal spelled 'attorney' wrong in her subject line. I fixed it when I replied to her message.

I usually hope my correspondent won't notice that I corrected them, but I feel slightly lighter in my heart knowing a small piece of the universe has been put back into alignment.

(I know, I'm not entirely perfect. No need for you to search the blog for words that I used in the wrong manner or misspelled. There are far better causes for your time -- or gosh, just go get 15 minutes more sleep tonight instead!)

I Think I Could Make This

Maybe for our new house (setting a closing date for early September!)... maybe just in one pale color? Or maybe for a back deck?
Take a japanese paper lantern and stick stuff all over it?
I'm not sure how I'd get the electricity to work though.
The real thing is by South African artist, Heath Nash.

LOL - Not A Pet Peeve

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, there's no possible way people could find my assigning commentaries to their animals unfunny. The entire LOL cat phenomenon is built on the universality of this humor. I'm fine.
I shouldn't doubt myself like that.
Ok, one more.

Pet Peeve

Do you ever wonder if the things you do, which you may think are lovable and funny, are someone else's pet peeve about you?

This one is really a possible pet peeve:

I like to ascribe human thoughts and dispositions to animals.

When I see someone's pet, in the course of conversation, I will make up something that I think the animal is thinking. "Hey, mom you're embarrassing me" or "Let's get inside, there's kibble in there!"

Being my own jokes, I think this is funny. Sometimes I wonder though, if the owner, who knows their pet far better than I do, is thinking, "My dog doesn't talk like that."

(Artwork from Berkeley Illustration, via Etsy.)

Notes from the Medical Chart

Recovery continues. I guess, it's hard to tell. It feels warm, like your skin does after they take blood. Except this is the whole top right hand side of my foot - fifth metatarsal if you prefer. (Sorry, I don't mean to get too detailed and medical.)

My foot hurts a little, and I'm a little worried about walking to the train on Monday. Nevermind the logistics of normal activities like taking a shower and finding pants to stretch over my surgical boot.

I was finally afforded the opportunity to finish the Theodore Roosevelt book, and then quickly finished a lighter read of chick lit. Perfect for sitting on the couch endlessly. And I'm watching a slightly bizarre old movie, 'Suddenly, Last Summer' with Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor (based on the play by Tennessee Williams, so full of eccentric Southern characters.) It seems like it might get odder before it's over.

Worthwhile Things to Last

Just like buying a house will mean that it will finally seem worthwhile to buy furniture, probably 15 years ago it was nice to realize that I wasn't going to grow out of clothes anymore.

Of course, this meant that the annual "back to school" trip to Marshall's, led by Mom trailed by Juliet and myself, was over. No new blue jeans that are just so ridiculously blue and stiff that they scream "first day of school." Same for the blindingly white sneakers, that you drag and scuff on the walk to school to break in before stepping into the classroom.

Clothes will now wear out, be ruined by a stain or pen mark (rats!), or go out of style before they stop fitting me. (Barring any big swings in weight plus/minus.)

My friend had a 'closet organizer' spend a day with her to go through her wardrobe and tell her which clothes to keep as 'timeless classics'; which ones to toss because even if she did lose weight to fit into them again, they'd be hopelessly out of style; and what 'flexible essentials' she should add to her wardrobe.

After my trip to Madrid last year I identified the need for the timeless, classic, flexible essential. Despite what you might consider my worldly history, living in London and Tokyo, and traveling about the world, I don't think I possibly could have had a jacket that screamed more AMERICAN and TOURIST than my windbreaker. But when you're packing one bag for nearly two weeks away you're not going to bring one nice jacket, one casual jacket, and one rain jacket. That's impractical. How would you fit the five pairs of shoes?? (Just kidding.)

So this is what I need to hunt for - a black trench coat. Black is very classy. A trench coat is timeless.

Quintessentially, there's Burberry. But I'd kill myself if I left a hundreds-of-dollars jacket on the train. What makes these things so expensive??
(After spying the price tag, I now see why Mom treasured hers. Must have been a rare splurge amidst her closet of thrift store finds. Wonder if a good tailor could get the sleeves on her beige trench to get closer to my wrists? Or maybe rework as though it's meant to have 3/4 length sleeves?)

I'm more thinking of this Bluefly parallel, at a more reasonable price, able to be amortized over the years and further trips.

Even cheaper, but maybe too girly (skirt so full, big bow reminds me of my junior prom dress) is this Anthropologie find on ebay.

Post-Op

I'm on the couch, watching Oprah, window shopping on bluefly.com. (Window shopping, because a $250 tank top is ridiculous - no matter how cute it is.) Foot elevated. Ice for 15 mins every hour. It's a little weird to think about wiggling my toes, but then remember that I probably shouldn't do that.

Jason set me up on IM so I can ping him when I need something while he works in his office, like when my Diet Coke accidentally spilled. Ooopsie!

It's really nice to see people rise to the occasion when you need them. He drove me to a get a milkshake while we waited for Walgreen's to fill my prescription. I think milkshakes are good for any nervous or recovery moment. (It was fun as sisters to get Juliet a milkshake at Ben & Jerry's on the walk back from the salon to the hotel, before her wedding.)

They let Jason come in before I went into the operating room. I was sitting in my cotton gown, under a flannel blanket on a recliner, with the patient socks and surgical cap on my head (like a shower cap) and IV in my hand. He said I looked very fragile. I think the IV was the worst part because I was totally asleep the whole time for the surgery. I don't remember a thing.

My hope is that if I follow doctor's instructions everything should be ok. I think walking might be tough at first. Walking into the house and down the hallway, I had the gait of Frankenstein.

{And thank you to Jason's mom who called to wish me well today, along with my friends who offered to challenge me in Trivial Pursuit if I got bored, or pick up snacks if I needed them.}

For giggles, I think this has to be the funniest Vermont 'Happy Birthday' Teddy Bear - he's in his birthday suit.

Living in Your Favorite Moments

Apartment Therapy is so full of good ideas. It's easy to be inspired there. If only my decorating talent, change purse, and patience for DIY, could keep up with my dreams.
And as we near the home-buying commitment (ever closer, but nothing official to report just yet - don't want to jinx anything) it's even more tempting to dream about the possibilities.
Since regular readers will know that the one thing I am likely MOST eager to do with a home I own is put some paint color on the walls. So this Apartment Therapy idea to pull a color palette from favorite photographs is inspiring. What a terrific way to feel like you're living inside a perfectly captured moment of time.

These are their examples:


This is my attempt using one of my favorite photos from our wedding:
When I dug into it, I was surprised by how many colors there were to find in this photo. And I shouldn't have been surprised that there were so many colors I liked.

Proof That I Kayaked

Here are photos of Saturday's kayak expedition provided by Allison. (Thank you!) And by expedition, I mean paddling around between the two flagpoles where the lifeguards could see us, and inadvertently being pulled further out into the lake than we meant to go. Concluding with a hussle-paddle back to shore, where I had to concentrate so much that I could no longer giggle at Allison's funny stories.)

These were taken with her disposable camera that had a "develop by 2003" date on it, but I think it gives the pictures a nostalgic grainy feel. She meant to do that.

My new zeal for the sport is illustrated in photo number two, where I look like an absolute kayaking maniac. I think what was happening here was that I was rapidly going past Allison who was holding the camera. The expression is half-enjoyment, half realization that our instructor never taught me how to brake a kayak. I am holding the paddle a little funny with my left hand because, in addition to the sunburn, I also got a blister on my hand after just about 30 minutes at sea. I have delicate aristocratic hands. They need toughening up before more of this activity.

Things I Should Have Had Sunblock For


This weekend has already been the weekend of things I should have had sunblock for.

On a bit of a whim I decided late Thursday night that the best way to salvage the disappointment of being rained out of my 5k was to go to the Feist concert at Ravinia the next night. It's on my way home, so I bought a ticket (one of the last ones left) and just hopped off the train early on Friday night. I had myself a mini picnic before taking my seat in the pavilion. (Jason was a little perplexed that I'd done this, but wine, cheese and nibbles are just part of the Ravinia experience, even if you're just by yourself.) Since the sun was sinking as I lounged, I evaded too much sun damage on Friday.

The concert was really amazing, especially since Feist wasn't one of those artists that pussy foot around and play all the songs from the new album they're promoting before getting around to the tunes you know, late in the encore. The performance had an intriguing, haunting and poetic backdrop of moving silhouettes and shadows done by two women at the back of the stage. The profound stillness and depth of Feist's songs (like "Honey") were enhanced by watching the simple performance above her. (These are not my photos, but they give an illustration of the performance.)



Saturday morning I hit the water of Lake Michigan with a friend for my first kayak experience. This was a lot of fun. I love lakes. I wanted to jump in and swim, but our little intro lesson hadn't included instructions on 'what to do if you find yourself outside of your kayak.'

The Evanston high school student who was our teacher was pretty minimal in his guidance. In a monotone mumble, "So, you do this to turn. Then you want to do this to go the other way. You guys want to paddle around and look at some stuff?"
We paddled around after our instructor left and mused at one point about how sunblock probably would have been a good idea. Yeah, it would have.

I am sporting the most elegant farmer's tan today, since I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt out on the water.

The kayak was open, giving me the look of wearing 'sunburn socks' all the way above the knee.

And if I were wearing a brown tank top today my arms would look like neopolitan ice cream. Brown - white (where my t-shirt sleeves covered me) - hot pink (where they did not.)

And by hot pink, I mean radiating heat, hot pink sunburn. Ouch, it hurts. Jason kindly took me to CVS for a big bottle of aloe.
I wish I could plunge my arms and legs into this ice cream to cool them down right now. My skin feels like it's shrunk two sizes around my limbs. Ouch, ouch.

I'd definitely like to go kayaking again though (with SPF 45.) My arms got a nice workout, and it was far more interesting than sitting on a weight machine at the gym.

(Top image via Etsy.)

Bummer


Today was my second 5k, and the first that I convinced Jason to come with me.
And it rained.
Not only did it rain, there was lightening.
And furthermore there were thunderstorm warnings all night long for the entire Chicagoland NPR listening area.

I did not run a 5k today.
I did not run the 5k that I purposely scheduled the dreaded foot surgery around.

I walked to the train station thinking it might turn around, but it wasn't looking good.

Of course after walking home and watching the rain glumly from the deck for a half hour, the sun came out. RATS!

But I was never so happy to see the skies open up an hour later with a glorious, blustery, electrical storm. And we were sitting inside a cozy bar together eating dinner.
The happy alternative ending to my other plans.

Deliciously Wicked


I've probably written a note that included the words "Your Mother Does NOT Live Here" along with an admonition to clean some dishes. I can't remember if it was at the dorm or my first job out of college.

A library of delightfully angry notes can be enjoyed on passiveaggressivenotes.com - promising "painfully polite and hilariously hostile writings from shared spaces the world over."

I love the notes reflecting just how far someone has been pushed -- to the point of such outrageous anger -- that they can't spell anymore and forget every grammar lesson they've ever had.

I can't tell who is revealed as the pettier person in these letters: the note writer or the addressee. We drive each other so crazy. (Although I'd probably more often find myself on the side of the note writer.)

The NYT reflects: "Anonymous messages like these, the kind you find stuck to the communal refrigerator or the hallway bulletin board, are a timeworn tradition. They are as much a part of office communication as official memos or e-mail messages and, at times, probably far more effective."

And I can totally think of a few people I'd be writing notes to, if I wasn't able to grit my teeth and rise above their ridiculous, snotty behavior.

Like people who conference call into a staff meeting from their office, when the conference room is just downstairs. We know you're surfing the 'net.
I confess, I was kinda passive aggressive this winter. I fell down a couple of icy stairs in our building so we put out salt for our neighbors to share if they saw slippery patches. The next time we came home absolutely all the salt was gone. (Turns out the guys that the building pays to use the building salt liked ours better. ARGH. I promptly and jealously pulled our salt inside, after dispatching an email to our neighbors. But it was the second time I'd fallen on ice behind our building in as many years!!!)

But that's not all, there are a few others who I wish I could be deliciously wicked to in a no-holds-barred, wild note. The catharsis would be terrific. Bad grammar, misspellings, and ALL!!!!$#(*)(@#!@)!!!!

YOUR SO STUPID!*(^@ WAAAAAH!!$&^%!!!

Mesmerizing


I could spend a good deal of time on The Lion.
Taking the music video back a step to still photography, and leaving you with the static image, the music and your thoughts. I think it'd be a neat way to get acquainted with new music too.
For this photo: Sigur Rós, Gobbledigook


The image at the top goes with Cat Power's The Greatest.

I'm admiring of the person who thought of this and curates the online collection of photos and music.

Happiness is Orange

I wore this dress to work today, and it made me happy.
It's funny how you know you look striking and good in something because both your direct report and boss give you awkward but sincere compliments. (Political correctness and a history of sexual harassment litigation dictates that they can't say much more.)
"Fancy" was my boss's word and one of my direct reports said, "That's a nice outfit, by the way" at the end of the day as we were hustling down the hall in opposite directions. And even strangers who don't know me said it was beautiful.

Maybe happiness is compliments when you are wearing orange?
As a second thought, I wonder if just wearing something bold prompts compliments. Like a new haircut. When someone asks, "Did you get a haircut?" and you reply affirmatively they've just painted themselves into a corner where they are now obligated to say, "Looks good!"

Steal My Luggage - Steal My Cat (and he's not declawed)


Standing in the taxi cab line at O'Hare is when you'll often find me at my weariest. Wondering how I'll fare in the lottery of knowledgeable or lost cab drivers.
I found an unexpected smile on my face the other week when I looked down at the suitcase of the man in front of me and saw a blonde smiling toddler looking back up at me, sucking on her hand. A photo luggage tag.
His granddaughter, he explained. Adorable, I replied.
And an excellent way to make sure no one else is taking your luggage out of the overhead by mistake.
Of course, I don't have babies to put on my possible tags, so it'd probably be Jason and the cat. Which might be the best thing to be reminded of when I'm away from home.
(Including Jason in the tag is important so that no one thinks I'm just a lonely cat lady. A disclaimer that I didn't have the cat until I met him would be even better, but there's only so much room on a luggage tag.)

The Chevron

I like the chevron. So smart and clean, with sharp energy. A unique shape without being frivolous or too hauty. Dynamic, using the contrasts of color.
But after spending some time looking at it, I am not entirely sure: when a chevron is a zig-zag, is it still a chevron? And how does it evolve into herringbone?

Pillow from Twinkle Living. Pottery bowl from this artist. Brown rug from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Black and white rug from Madeline Weinrib. Red & white dress by Debenhams and the b&w long dress is from Jaeger, both UK. The silky b&w is from the 1970s. Necklace and bag from etsy.

Hey, Hey, Hey - You're on a Holiday

We are having perfect weather for the summer holiday. And we are pretty much doing absolutely nothing. Just listening to the sounds of fireworks on the street at night, eating dinner on the deck, and putting our feet up.
Perfect video for a summer weekend by Room Eleven.

Twice-Loved Tweety

An urban tradition that just makes me smile whenever I see it is the 'stuffed animal reborn atop a trash truck.' If you were a stuffed animal, I can't help to think that this is how you'd choose to spend your retirement.

A child outgrows the stuffed animal they won at the fair or received as a birthday gift and it's cast into the dumpster. The big-hearted trash men - guys who you might think are all muscle and no softness - spy the cast off and adopt it as the mascot for their truck. It's lashed to the front grill and now truimphantly rides through the city streets. Wind in its fur. Its bright happy plastic eyes enjoying the full sun. The toy that might have been sitting crunched alongside old milk containers and kitty litter, accepting its fate, is now a hero, finding new freedom and adventures on the road.

But to those who don't know it, this tradition is a little hard to explain without a picture.

I knew it was only a matter of time until I found a salvage stuffed animal in our neighborhood. Modified pick-up's troll our alleyways hunting for scrap metal. They toss old storage racks, pipes and shopping carts into the back, to recycle for money.

This Tweety Bird doll really struck it rich in his reincarnation. The bird has his own bird resting atop his shoulder and the American flag bandanna gives him the raucous freedom-loving attitude of a Harley rider. To put an exclamation point on the kerchief, he holds an American flag aloft in his right hand (wing?)
And this wasn't just for the Fourth of July, but it does seem appropriate to highlight his found freedom today.

Happy Fourth of July!

She's Crafty (Maybe?)

I wonder, if I could make this. It's super cute and seems like it's just a notch above basic knitting. Which I did fairly well back in the day. I just lose patience with longer, complicated projects.
I know the world needs another throw pillow like the Chinese need more tea or the Irish more beer. And the eskimos more ice water?
(As if you can't tell from my previous post, I think I'm going through an orange phase. Although in my clothing the navy blue section of my closet seems to have expanded. It's my new brown.)

Coming Home

We might be getting closer to home ownership. It will be soooo nice to feel like we're in a permanent place. I'm so tired of renting.

The white walls.
The waiting game played with the landlord whenever anything malfunctions.
Getting money taken out of the security deposit when the screen window was ripped already when we moved in.
Wondering if the rent will go up again.
The occasional neighborhood snideness towards 'renters.'
The hesitation I always feel before buying any piece of furniture or art, wondering if it might be useless in two years if we move somewhere else.

Like this artwork from etsy...


It might be weird to point to this art on the wall and say, "Oh yes, the artist? Toxicguineapigs, of course."

But now it'll be nice to find things that fit perfectly. It'll be nice to feel relaxed and at home. Like the wandering is over.
(I'll keep you posted when the details are tangible. And check back next year to see if I'm whining when something's broken and it's me and Jason who have to figure out how to fix it!)
 

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