Sitting Pretty... Uncomfortably

We need a new couch. It's been agreed for over a year now. When I sit down every night I shift around to find a spot that's not sinking in too much, and I put a pillow behind my back. You'd think the nightly ritual would be motivating, but we can't decide.

It's fortunate that our current couch was a hand-me-down from Jason's mother, because we may be the least decisive couch buyers in the world.

Jason and I have been together for seven years, and we've never bought a couch together.
Coffee table, yes.
Multiple TV's, yes. (A reflection of Jason's flat-panel addiction.)
One house, two cats, and one car even, but the couch question perplexes us.

Every time I shop the price tag bewilders me. $3,000 for our Crate & Barrel's Delaney candidate.
I felt all at home in their McIntyre "shelter" sofa, but I'm not sure if it suits Jason's napping needs. And the cats' claws to the tweedy fabric would spell rapid destruction. I may look at little "down market" this weekend, for something that won't make my blood pressure spike when I see a cat reach to stretch out on its fabric. A couch whose cost is not parallel to our car down payment.
Suggestions, or more hand-me-downs, welcome.

Traveler's Temptations

Travel is full of gastronomic temptations. And the hotel fitness room will have to become familiar if my few recent trips suggest a growing habit.

In New Jersey for Easter, it was the heartily missed thin crust, NYC-style pizza. I think I've already mentioned eating four slices from this pie! Just look at the floury crust and greasy, yummy cheese.This weekend in Columbus I tried very diligently to stay on track. Even abstaining from Jason's order of deep-fried snickers bars. I also turned down two out of three bread baskets and walked past the Graeter's ice cream stand at least four times at Easton, but the Smith & Wollensky filet mignon and then carrot cake got me. Yum.

Even though I don't regret a single calorie, (including Figlio's shrimp & crab ravioli) I should have walked home to burn off all the calories.

United almost did have us driving home after canceling our flight and initially rebooking me on a 6 am flight and Jason on a 1 pm *Monday* flight. Fortunately we were able to move him onto my flight, and ended up coming home just to sleep until 1 pm. Followed by a visit to the gym.

The September Issue

My kind of documentary. So many pretty dresses, and you live the life of the woman who gets to pick them out for the pages of VOGUE. (And see all the stick-thin women that work for her. No one is seen eating in this documentary!)
Yeah, she's a lot snotty and wears big black sunglasses in dark places. Anna looks like she's kind of smiling in one scene and it looks like it's painful for her. To soften this edge they show a lot of her very human fashion editor, Grace. An assertive Welsh redhead, and probably the only person who disagrees with Anna Wintour. It's her imagination that creates the fantasy fashion spreads of VOGUE. (And then Anna cuts them.)

My husband impresses me: as the DVD begins he asks, "Who's that, Anna Wintour?" Woah, nicely done Jason.

This documentary makes me want to wear a skirt to work tomorrow.

Official T-Shirt of My Plan

Today, as a mini motivational incentive, I ordered the t-shirt that carries the image of my get fit campaign.

When I first posted it on this blog I didn't actually know where it came from, until one day it randomly struck me that it seemed a lot like a Threadless design. And there it was. And here it is.

So far that little running rhino (me) has lost twelve pounds! And 2 inches from my waist line. Hurrah!

When I hit the 10 lb milestone it allowed me to get these cute new shoes....and these too. Sorry, couldn't resist. But better to fall into the temptation of shoes rather than donuts, chocolate and cosmos.

Enfranchised Amphibians?

If you needed further proof that we may have chosen the quirkiest Chicago neighborhood to move to, it was confirmed while watching an online clip of a recent neighborhood forum we had on how to spend the money our ward gets from the city.

It was really cool of our alderman to open up the spending decisions to the community. We enjoyed reviewing proposals for sidewalk repair, fixing potholes, a dog park, bike racks, and murals. (I voted for all of those.) I checked out the clip because a tv camera had been in the cafeteria of the local school while we voted, and I thought maybe Jason or I had appeared on camera, doing our civic duty.

Instead, at minute 3:55, I realized that not only were we voting, apparently so were the neighborhood funny green men in sunglasses. Seriously, who is this, on the left?How did they possibly check his ID? Is he an amphibian who crawled out of the lake to vote for beach improvements?
Even better, the anchormen made no comment at all.

The History of Objects II

I've wondered before what it would be like if the objects of our lives could talk. The roads they've traveled with us, the lives they had before us, and what will happen to them afterwards (like the stuffed animal reincarnated as the hero of a roving junk collector's truck.)

A more pointed question that's crossed my mind for the past two years has been, "why is there a clock radio in the tree?"Ever since we'd moved in, and apparently for at least two years before (when our neighbor joined the building) there's been a white plastic clock radio in the tree out front. Through bitter cold and snows of Chicago winters, and in the summer cushioned by the tree's blossoms, it's hung there. According to our neighbor it's changed a little over time, once dangling more freely until some winds must have picked it up and swung it around the tree trunk more securely. 6:01 a.m. The "vintage" flip numbers mark the moment that the clock last told someone the time. We found out today when Jason and I grabbed a ladder to cut the clock down. I don't know if we should be chastised for removing a hidden neighborhood memorial, or congratulated for caring that our block not look like the battlefield of a long-past domestic argument. (Although a new argument was nearly spawned when Jason tried to climb the tree after the remaining cord and I told him he'd break his neck.)

A domestic dispute is the story we both conjured in our heads, maybe with the man heading out the gate, sneaking out at just past 6 am. His angry lover throwing the clock radio out over the balcony after him. But her passionate anger subdued by the protective branches of the tree, allowing him to duck into his car and speed off.

Of course, the building that pre-dated ours was only two stories, and there was no balcony. And why throw a clock radio at someone? It would have to be unplugged first, and that seems too much work in the heat of the moment.

A coworker once insisted that running shoes tossed over the telephone wire outside a house meant it was a place to buy drugs. (I disagreed since there were many a pair of children's sneakers dangling from the lines by our Quaker school, which was across the street from a church. A pretty improbable place to score.) But if this were true, what would a clock radio over a tree branch say? Is it late 1970's hobo code for "time for the neighborhood to gentrify?"

Costume Party

No, you can't have enough jewelry, especially when it's just costume baubles.
This one is particularly distinctive, for something from The Limited. Another statement also from The Limited. Kate Spade earrings, although not really a costume price.

Planting Plans

I'm quite excited for the coming of spring and what that means for our deck. FLOWERS!

During an all-day, division-wide meeting where little participation was required from me, --except listening-- I sketched out ideas for the deck flower boxes and pots. (I maintain that doodling doesn't mean I'm not listening. Science suggests it help me retain more information. A point I will make to my boss later if he wishes to critique me...but I think he already knows my proclivities with a blank page. I'll also point out that I was the only person with any notebook out the whole day.)

This weekend I refined my sketch, and I'm very ready for the flowers to arrive at the greenhouse. Of course, every year I envision the perfect mix of plants and inevitably I can't find one of the key elements. I'll have to remember that the color palette should be my guide and I can be open to substitutes of the same color and leafiness. Sadly, I think I have to wait a few weeks, since the local nursery had little to nothing to offer this weekend.

I am also looking forward to the delivery of Target Liberty Gardening Gloves, shipped to me from Portland, Oregon. Thank you Abby & David! You know me so well.

Lap Dog

Standing at the start line, I used to try to size up the other runners and pick someone who'd surely run slow enough that I could fall in behind them. I learned that very first race that you just can't judge how fast someone is going to go based on their body. The chubby girl was ahead of me and out of sight in the first mile, meanwhile in mile three I was passing the cute couple who looked liked they could have been on Baywatch.

I promised not to judge the books by their covers again, and only pace with others based on their speed.

But, looking down at a little prancing puffball at my ankles on Saturday I thought to myself, "If I beat anyone, it better be that guy." Gratefully, I passed the white little dog running with its owner in the last mile. Such triumph.

And the official race results were posted and I ran a whole minute faster per mile! I guess it might be easier to run faster when you've also lost some weight.

We've Been Here Before

Another cold morning, me in my running shoes staring at the heater switch on the el platform. 42 degrees and questioning the rationale behind the CTA's policy of when the heat lamps go on, and in this case, off.
My first 5k race of the year. I've signed up for three this summer, since the risk of public embarrassment (running painfully behind the pack, crossing the finish after it's technically been taken down) is a powerful motivator to get me to the gym.
This was the "Start Early Run"...which ironically started late. I was a little perturbed to be standing in the cattle chute start lane for a while, cramped together with other runners making stay-warm stretches a little awkward.
But once I was started I ran my fastest race yet, by my unofficial stopwatch time (34:57), at least. That's one minute less per mile than my last race in October.
The Yogi tea bag I'd put in a thermo mug filled with hot water to keep me warm on the train platform in the morning carried the saying "Empty yourself and let the universe fill you." Nearing the end of mile 2 I was thinking of how empty I did indeed feel!The universe gave me a free race t-shirt. Since the event was sponsored by Wrigley, I'd hoped for a pack of free gum, but no such luck. Another irony.

Keep it Clean

The plastic shopping bag slung around the gear shift was never something I could get behind. When stuck in the car and tired of my gum, I'd always used the ashtray to cram my trash into (putting the gum in a piece of paper first, of course.) But when the new car came without an ashtray, I had to investigate alternatives.

I'm very pleased with my Car Litter Bag from etsy. It's a pretty and simple fabric bag, that you can hang around the gear shift or on the back of the front seats. You pop one of those doggie clean-up bags inside. The bags come in small little rolls, so it's easy to keep extras in the glove box. The opening is held open so it's easy to toss something away without losing focus on the road. And under $20! Practical Christmas gift givers, take note.

There are many fun colors and fabrics, although since ours is a shared car I tried to be boring... er, I mean, unisex. Practical black and white octagons...which also kind of match our floor mats, so I think there's a little theme. You can even get a matching tissue holder to put on the visor!

Running of the Sausages

I love local. Things that you really can't find anywhere else, and they are perfectly signature to the geography.

Like Tastycakes in Philadelphia.
Those ice cream sandwiches in Portland with Abby & David that I am still thinking about, particularly the sugar cookie one.
A Chicago-style hot dog.
Graeter's black raspberry chip in Columbus, Ohio.
A New York style pizza (which I confess to scarfing down FOUR pieces of this weekend on the East Coast!)

Perhaps to effectively counteract that pizza, I signed up for the Milwaukee Brewers' Sausage Run this coming July.

Little did I know that there's a seventh inning tradition at Brewers' Stadium where the cased meats race each other around the bases. It's so adorably Wisconsin. (For a good giggle, watch this clip to see how much the folks up North care about their racing meat.)

I am promised a "cool commermorative t-shirt" and "fan photo with the mascots" - who are a Polish sausage, brawtwurst, Italian sausage, hot dog and chorizo.

There is an outside chance I could miss the race if I'm selected to go to a conference this summer, in Vienna. So it's either spending time in Vienna itself, or racing with a Vienna sausage.

Happy Easter!

From blog-land, happy Easter!

This was me at work today, the last person to hop away from her desk. It was a lonely train ride home.
But I'm looking forward to Easter nibbles with the family in New Jersey!And seeing my little baby niece, June.

How Do I Do This?

I don't know why, I just love animal portraits.
Seeing how they are done is a treasure!
 

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