Beach, Bistro, and Baubles Weekend

The weekend so far has been:Relaxing in the shady grass near the beach with a friend on Saturday. I suppressed my giggles when a representative from the local Green party approached us and offered my most Repbulican friend a flyer and an invitation to speak to our local candidate. I grinned as my friend read through the primary tenets of the candidate, laughing and mockingly incredulous.
Dinner with Jason at a local Thai bistro. Very delicious, although a little spicy. We had delicious fried sweet potato lettuce wraps with mint and fish oil.
Note the telltale glow of the iPhone on Jason's chest during dinner. Although it does illuminate his cute new shirt, my pet peeve is texting during the meal. His pet peeve: my wish to stay and linger over dinner by ordering jasmine tea. (Fair and balanced blogging here.)

Today I enjoyed the Chicago Antique Market with two friends. I suspect this is exactly the kind of place that Nancy (my mother-in-law) wanted to visit when she came to see us after we'd just moved to Chicago. Being new-in-town, we didn't know the marketplace existed and instead the three of us ended up taking a really long drive to find ourselves at a Mexican mall that was billed as a flea market. It was full of hoochie-mama clothes, knock-off athletic shoes, and stereo equipment. And it was ironically exactly the kind of mall that was just two blocks from our apartment. We will have to schedule her next visit during the weekends for this fair; it was much better. We contemplated fur stoles from years past, hanging with closets full of vintage clothing. That's a little mink that lost his life for fashion. We might have all rode away on classic, shiny Schwinns too. I was tempted by antique glicee prints and loads of costume jewelry. I walked away with a floral bracelet, sold to me by a woman who said that I clearly had the self-confidence for good jewelry. This was a bit of an odd compliment, but I took it, along with the bracelet. It will feel like wearing a corsage everyday.

Don't Be Fooled


"Sarah Palin: When Choosing a Woman Might Not Be Choosing for Women" from Jezebel.com
I could not agree more.

I spent most of yesterday evening wondering what John McCain was thinking. Does he think that women voters are so knee-jerk that we'll just vote for any woman? Based on how many times I heard "It's not that I'm opposed to a woman being president, just not that woman" about Hillary, I hope voters apply the same scrutiny to Sarah Palin.
And she makes Obama look positively tenured in politics. I think more people live in Chicago than have ever voted for her. No, more people work at my company than have ever voted for her.

This tests me just slightly, since I do believe women are very capable of rising to the occasion and 'doing it all' but this might be a little risky.

Were there no other female Republicans?

Last of Summer

How is it already the waning days of August? And September so soon.
Good thing Jason and I enjoyed ice cream on the deck together tonight.

Homecoming

Remember how we were looking for our first home? I haven't wanted to say too much, afraid to jinx it. What if our offer wasn't accepted? What if something fell through?

Well, our initial offer wasn't accepted (since we ridiculously low-balled.) We declined the counter and just waited a week. We made appointments to see other places. After reconsideration, the seller came back and met us closer to what we were willing to pay. Buyers market, yay!

Our closing is a week from today. I expect it to be a bit of an intimidating day. I put money in our bank account for the down payment and closing costs and it was by far the biggest check I'd ever written in my life. I hear there will be a lot of papers to sign. I hope there aren't any surprises. Or if there are surprises they're not deal-breaking, bankrupting horrors.
I'm just looking forward to the end of the day when Jason and I will have the keys to our new home in our hands.
Here are a few photos of our soon-to-be first home. I post these now from the real estate listing, because the Sellers likely had their home far more together than we'll have ours for a few months.

I already want to paint next weekend. I want to pick from colors like Del Cornado Tequila (sounds more interesting than it is: a khaki beige), Sable Evening (a deep grey) and maybe even Plum Good (muted purple).

Tuning In

It seems that the decision for what to watch on television each night has been made for me for the entirety of August and early September. Olympics. Convention. Convention. Interrupted on Wednesdays by Project Runway.

I watched more of the Olympics than I thought I would, and really enjoyed the triumph on the faces of Olympians. Probably even more for the athletes that I knew less about, and were less likely to win, versus the the 24-7 Michael Phelps-a-thon. And by the way, I hardly saw any of the adorable mascots!! What happened??!

This week it's the Democratic National Convention. (My cousin is blogging live from Denver. Lucky duck, that photo up there is his.) I'm wishing there was more about what the Democrats stand for, instead of the extended biography of Barack and Michelle Obama. Maybe there will be more tonight.

Ted Kennedy impressed me, although I weary a little of the Kennedy mystic. Maybe you had to be there in their heyday to feel it.

I heard on the radio today that only 40% of Hillary supporters now support Obama. So, wait, who are they planning on voting for in November? McCain? Not voting at all? Seriously? Argh, it made me so mad when I heard this driving home tonight that I gripped the steering wheel tighter and probably abandoned the safe following distance to the car in front of me. (As you may guess, I have reconciled that this isn't the year for a woman president. I'll be organizing my planning committee for 2012. As a peace offering to Jason, who I had disagreed with on our candidates, I got him this print from Etsy artist BluLima.) This convention is pretty notable for the fact that the Democrats are fronting a serious African-American candidate. Watching the first night of the convention last night reminded me of when my mother insistently drew my attention to the convention where Geraldine Ferraro was being nominated for the VP slot. I was likely in my pajamas and finishing up my scoop of ice cream dessert, but she wanted me to see this pivotal political moment. She told me about how her father woke her up to watch an important nomination was she was young too. (I wish I could remember who it was... she was too old to be woken up for Kennedy's nomination.)

Next week: the Republicans. I might be gripping the steering wheel more often.

Signature Song

I remember one of the funny things I liked back in the day from Ally McBeal was an episode or two where Ally was trying to pick out her theme song. Like the song that plays whenever the main character of a movie enters the scene; or on a more sinister note, the ominous tones that greet the appearance of their nemesis. For Ally, it was meant as a motivator.

I can't remember what I fell upon, but I think I thought up a song or two to make my own theme song. To jazz me up on the morning walk to the train station - the point in the day when my biorhythms are likely the lowest.

If we were playing the horoscopes, I might pick the song that was Billboard's #1 on the day I was born: "Fame" by David Bowie. You can look up your universe-selected theme song here, too.

Jason's birthday: "I Honestly Love You" by Olivia Newton John.
Our wedding day: "No One" by Alicia Keys. (Which I like a lot, so that's good.)

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This and That

The weekend was little bits of this and that:

Taking the kitten to the vet required a strategic isolation strategy in order to catch the little wiggly one.

Did some work on the deck in the afternoon. Blech, but at least if you're working on the weekend it might as well be on the deck.

Our neighborhood hosted an arts festival, so we wandered down the street to listen to house reggae on the mainstage and check out the wares.

More live music followed that night at a local hippie restaurant where I heard two bands over a beer with a friend.

I hemmed a pair of jeans all by myself. Instructions here. I love the internet. (Of course, I did it once and they were too long so I redid them this morning while watching Meet the Press and This Week.)

Two gym visits! Promptly canceled by buying a piece of cake at the grocery store.

The usual stuff like laundry and grocery shopping, where I remembered that crusty bread is one of the things I love the very most in the world.

And I laughed out loud at this LOL cat.
I just found this blog, probably known to the rest of the world and their brothers for years, but nonetheless: Indexed.
Jason will gloat that, of course, unusual intelligence and perception comes from Columbus.

Now, I need to stop spending so much time on the internet. I think I'm going to try the gym today. The foot is getting better.

I've been intrigued by the number of different bandages my podiatrist can come up with each week. Right now my foot is in a little stretchy bandage sleeve. Over about one month, I've seen 4 different bandage styles.

I have clearance to start wearing more regular shoes, to "work myself up to the next level" in my doctor's words. This sounds like I'm some kind of athlete pushing myself harder, when it's ridiculous because it's really just about sneakers to flats to someday the dressy shoes I miss. I've felt like Ellen DeGeneres wearing sneakers to work.

Cute




How do I resist buying these little fellows for every person I know with a member of the family under 8 years old?

All here on etsy. And yes, I think I like the bunny the best.

Children's Storybooks Aren't Always Fiction


This story of a penguin being knighted in Norway sounds like a story off of the shelves of the children's library, but it happened in real life. I cannot resist grinning when adults conspire to do something nonsensical and whimsical.

The Weekend Haps

Friday: Turtle Racing where Jason and I agreed that new friend Martha is an exact cross of our sisters Juliet & Courtney; we begin calling her our cousin.

Saturday: Early flight to Columbus for a friend's 200+ guest wedding; stopping by Jason's mom's house to say hello and meet my new brother-in-law and Courtney's husband (same person); call it quits when we realize an entire afternoon could slide away sharing our favorite YouTube clips (Evil Eye Baby, Dramatic Chipmunk, and who doesn't love the Baby Panda Sneeze?) Stop by to say another brief hello to friends Tushar & Dipti and get some Cold Stone Creamery ice cream; head to the hotel for a nap before the wedding festivities.
(Note: My pet peeve that people don't put down their drinks for photos. It'd be so much classier without the plastic beer glasses! It looks like brother-in-law Mark is pulling me closer to pour beer right on my dress!) Sunday: Drive over to the McDonalds for a Diet Coke while waiting for Jason to wake up; snicker over the football madness of Ohio State as I note the schedule is on the side of the cup; visit with the grandparents and then back home to Chicago where I get inordinately peevish at people who don't understand how the O'Hare taxi line works; arrive home to reassurance that cats hadn't burned the building down or changed the locks while we were away.

Unfortunately this was the weekend of having the afterthought: 'this might be a good photo.' Hence why there are no family photos and the only picture of us from the wedding is taken standing in the parking lot after the party had moved outside. But the dress looks great even against a canvas of red brick. I wonder when I can wear it next??

In His Travels


This is a pretty terrific collection.

Do Not Disturb signs from around the world, collected by a grandfather in his far-ranging travels. Such a smart idea too, since they take up so little space in your suitcase home.

Local Tourism


Since we're likely doing a "stay-cation" this year - what with the ridiculous outflow of cash for home purchase - why not see the far away, nearby? The Leaning Tower of Pisa is right by our Costco. (It's really a municipal water tower.)

Funny (but Sad)


Why does LOL Cats seem to fit GWB so well? LOL Bush at the Olympics, thanks to the Guardian.

Things We Brought to the Marriage

I didn't really like Chris Rock before I met Jason. It wasn't so much that I knew his humor and based on that experience decided not to like him. I'd just never really thought I'd like him.

But while we were courting, Jason borrowed some of Chris Rock's humor (with proper attribution, of course) to reflect on how we were getting to know each other better... and all the *fun* little surprises that can bring.

You see, Chris Rock explains, when you first meet someone you're never really meeting them, you are meeting their representative. The best, most attractive, thoughtful and courteous version of them. There have been days when I've asked to please speak to Jason's representative because I'd like to discuss the bill of goods I was sold.

Similarly, I bet there are times if Jason has wondered if my representative took his trust and fled to South America, leaving him with the kind of girl who has bunion surgery and gets grumpy when hungry.

The representative bit is here:

And more of Chris Rock on relationships is here:
(I love the bit about women making out like their workplace trials are like Dynasty.)

Hit Me Baby One More Time

Since I received such positive "user comments" from my little crafting experiment in baby gifts, I made some more. ("Burp clothes are a hit," say Joe & Ellyn) These are for a couple of simultaneously expecting coworkers.

These things are so darn easy, and apparently useful in multiple ways I'd never thought of, according to the new parents I know.

What a wonderful soft fabric flannel is, I think as I pick out the fabrics in the store. And does it seem softer when it's pink or has nursery rhyme characters all over it? Yes, it does.

Babies are kind of lucky, perpetually snuggled in softness. So why do they cry so much? (Oh, maybe it's because they often end up stuck in soiled diapers and can't change themselves. Yuck.)

Where Would You Invade?


Where would you invade? (Check all that apply.)
a. Iraq
b. Sudan
c. Georgia

Global politics is a funny thing.

It seems like no matter how principled we can seem about invading coutries and starting "conflicts", we really sort of do it on a 'whether I'm in the mood' basis.

I've identified two places that it might be a prinicipled stand to invade, just like we did in Iraq.

After reading "Darfur Withers as Sudan Sells Food" from the NYT on food supplies in Sudan, I was really pretty surprised and troubled? Appalled? Frustrated?

"Take sorghum, a staple of the Sudanese diet, typically eaten in flat, spongy bread. Last year, the United States government, as part of its response to the emergency in Darfur, shipped in 283,000 tons of sorghum, at high cost, from as far away as Houston. Oddly enough, that is about the same amount that Sudan exported, according to United Nations officials."

So it seems like the leaders of Sudan are being cruel to their people. A little bit like how Saddam Hussein was being cruel to his people. (We can have an argument about the greater villany: gassing villages or allowing the survivors of genocide to starve slowly.)

And after reviewing Jason's recommended reading to catch myself up on what's going on in Georgia (NYT: Taunting the Bear) , I wonder if we might not be inserting ourselves there too. The rights of a sovereign nation (Georgia) or the rights of an oppressed people (South Ossettia). We can go in supporting either team. The bonus is that there is an oil pipeline in the mix too.

My real point is not to war monger, it's to say (with my somewhat shallow understanding of the global socio-political situation) that I think maybe we should have stayed home altogether.

I Like


I like these purple shoes from Anthropologie. (But it makes me a little sad that this is really a fall shoe. Good thing I enjoyed the beach this afternoon.)

Study This: Shaky Camera Syndrome


Isn't it great when you ask for something, and the internet provides it for you?

How to Reduce Camera Shake - a very easy, visual primer.

I need it.

Twins

If you've ever wondered what my sister looks like, this is her. It's not really her, but it's a model that could seriously be her twin. Maybe this is how Juliet stayed in cute clothing through grad school.
They have the same smile, same pursed lips, same eyebrows and hair (although J's is now shorter.)I spent about 15 minutes looking at this last night and being mesmerized with the likeness. But the upside is that if I want to buy Juliet any clothes for Christmas and birthday, I'll know exactly what will look good on her. (I think I like the top tank for her best. All options are from Chosen Stock.) I wish this model was on every website!
And of course, all I get was years ago Sprint made their annoying online assistant in my likeness. (It made me wonder if any of my computer programmer ex-boyfriends might still be pining for me...or considered me as annoying as a customer service rep.)Her name was even Claire.

Welcome, New Readers (I Guess)

Someone had a few drinks Saturday night -- and I thoughtlessly left him unchaperoned with my friends from work -- and he told them about my blog. A blog I'd tried to guard as part of the separation of church and state attitude I sometimes take to work and life.

Jason outed my blog.
He's the Scooter Libby to my Valerie Plame.
Oh, Jason.

Boot Be-Gone

It's time for a little foot update. During today's doctor's appointment I was freed from the black boot.

I was beginning to dream of running and splashing my foot about in water; it's been under a bandage and black surgery boot for what seems like forever. (Although I befriended a lady on the elevator the other day who's had her boot on for 8 weeks!)

I still can't run, but I can at least get my foot wet in the shower.

The boot was something I kind of tried to ignore, but it was noticeable. And my unbalanced gait gave it away too.

See photo from our celebrating my friend's birthday last Saturday night. There I am, toasting, drinking and laughing... but underneath the table, the boot lurks.
Now I'm instructed to wear a comfortable, flat shoe. Like a sneaker. Or maybe a moccasin would be perfect??? (This is where I contemplate whether Piperlime express shipping charges can be paid for with my medical flex spend account.)

At the doctor's office I requested a bandage color that will match with my dress for a wedding we're attending in about ten days. You know you're not a kid anymore when the nurse just tosses a roll of red and fluorescent green bandages in your plastic bag and hands it to you. Kids are asked their favorite color, and would they like a pretty purple bandage?? After spying two colors that distinctly clashed with my dress, I asked if I might swap. The nurse was very obliging. I have a light blue bandage to wrap around my foot before it goes into my grey Old Navy flats.
I am so excited to wear this dress.
A small sidenote is that our new kitten has been getting a lot of press here, so I didn't want you to forget about #1, our recently three-year-old cat. He's been taking to the new kitten very well, even letting her sleep in his bed. We're quite proud of him.

On the Other Hand

I can't wait until September 4th. September 4th is our closing date on our new home.

The past ~5 days, which are far too far away from September 4th, have been very aggravating and emotional with the stress of buying a first home.

We hit a low point on Thursday night when, under stress, Jason sort of blamed rising mortgage rates on me, individually.

Earlier that day we'd had an *e-mail* from our real estate agent saying, "You need to call your lawyer. You're in default of your contract."

What? When?

The Claire who's never (yet) bounced a check and likes to keep everything "buttoned up" was sent into a tailspin. Because I was working from home I did exactly what I felt like doing at that moment: I bawled. Then I called the lawyer.

I hate being reminded of the life lesson that the only person you can truly always trust and count on to look out for you is yourself... but you have absolutely no idea what you're doing.

And worse yet, you'll never in your life buy enough houses to feel like you've mastered this process. So you have to rely on real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and lawyers... but right now they all seem to be being a little stupid in different, unique ways.

I think our lawyer reversed herself twice today. Our real estate agent seems ready to collect the commission so she's mostly just pushing us towards closing. And the mortgage brokers didn't call me back today... and meanwhile mortgage rates are probably creeping up more.

The best advice I got today was from the three friends I took the train home with!

Renting is beginning to look so simple and happy. One lease and it's far shorter than the condo disclosures, rules & regulations, and declarations I've read all week.

I think I need to look at paint swatches to remind me why this home buying thing is worth the aggravation.

Or maybe consider our change of address card options.

What do you think?:

a. From annacote on etsy.com:

b. From Fabulous Stationary:
c. Or Tiny Prints (where Ellyn got her adorable baby announcements, and my current favorite):

Little Bit o' Bacon


We had crazy, crazy weather yesterday. In the morning I experienced the surreal feeling that I was going back in time because as my train drew closer and closer to work on its hour journey, the sky became darker and darker. The sun was supposed to be rising, not setting.

The day came and went pretty uneventfully but by night our programming was being interrupted by tornado warnings. (I learned that you cannot pause or fast forward Tivo through these things.) There was a good hour of hard pounding, torrential downpours. With a ton of crazy lightening.

Fortunately no tornado sirens rung while Jason and I were wondering aloud whether it's better or worse to live so close to the lake when there's a tornado. Is it drawn to open water?

It dawned on me that if we had to beat it downstairs to our neighbor's garden apartment (closest thing to a basement) we only have one cat carrier, but now two cats. I can imagine the older, tenured cat calling dibs, "You've only known her a week, c'mon. She's a stray from the streets! You'll find another one. But me, me you'd miss."

This must be why last night I had a weird dream about trying to put our kitten in a carrier. My sister, making a guest appearance, insisted that you had to fill the carrier up with about three inches of water first. I worried that the kitten would drown, so instead I put her in a little envelope. The next time I looked in the envelope, she'd turned into a piece of bacon. I was very worried that I'd killed her, but somehow thought that if I added water to the dried piece of meat, it'd turn back into Piper.

Very weird, but perhaps a sign that I should invest in a second cat carrier, just in case.
Here are a couple photos to prove that our kitten didn't turn into bacon after all.
 

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