Away We Go!


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Hello Halloween

Had I seen them in time, this would have been an acceptable Halloween costume, even for the office. (I usually avoid any day at work that involves costumes and/or dancing.)


I was Hello Kitty for Halloween when I was seven, why not again?

Coordinating Our Travel Schedules

In our preparations for our trip to India, we've learned that another Chicago couple will be in the neighborhood at the same time: Barack and Michelle Obama. We should have coordinated our schedules better, because I think they are in Mumbai while we are riding elephants in Jaipur. (Really! So exciting!) When they may be in Delhi, we are touring temples in Jodhpur.

Our friend, and soon to-be-travel companion, Tushar was talking to his mother in Mumbai about our visit and she confidently said, "I think they will meet Obama in India." Tushar tried to explain that this is unlikely, but his mother was insistent, "They're creative. They'll figure it out."

I love the faith that mothers, even ones who aren't your own, can have in you.

And all I can think about is how I don't want to end up like a Real Housewife of D.C. crashing the party... ironically that was a State Dinner for the PM of India!

All's Fare

After taking just one trip on the El last week I got an email from the CTA saying my fare card was reloading with cash. That seemed odd, so I went online to check my activity.

A trip from Midway airport. Huh...

A trip from our nearby station. Okay.

A trip from the Loop. Possible?

Another trip from home. Okay.

Another trip from the Loop. Weird.

Daily trips from the Loop. Wait a minute!

Daily trips that Jason takes on his commute to and from work every day.

JASON!

Somehow our CTA cards got switched and apparently I've been paying for his daily commute. It might be fair if I took the El daily too, and had been making matching charges on his card. But I take Metra, the regional rail line.

Since transportation is something we categorize as respectively personal costs, and not shared, I've been paying for both of our commutes out of my own pocket.

Argh! *Shaking fist*

I promptly traded cards back with Jason.
And wrote my name on mine, to which Jason responded, "I'm not in a marriage! I'm at summer camp!"

Since I guesstimate I've been paying for his trips to work since July (when we were swapping cards back and forth with his visiting siblings) I think he'll cope.

I think he might also owe me dinner.

The City Will be Lonelier

New York City will be lonelier soon. After living in the same walk-up for likely over 50 years, Grandma is leaving town. She's 92, so it's amazing that she's been an independent city gal for so long.

The steep stairs to the apartment have probably been impractical for the last 10 years, even if they were a signature part of the welcome to Grandma's. I remember being a kid racing up those stairs after Grandma buzzed us into her apartment, to see her come out into the hallway with her apron on to greet us with hugs and kisses.

Lost will be the time capsule of her apartment, in its same configuration from the 1940s. Classic clock, above. The surrounding apartments have been made into studios. The configuration was always odd, look at the headroom above the sink! Going to the bathroom meant asking someone to move their chair at the dining room table. Here's Gram at work with her kitchen knife, rustic enough to seem like it came with her from the farm in Slovakia. There is no dishwasher, which meant an annual holiday traditional of drying the dishes together. Dad told of his own tradition of sneaking food he didn't want to eat into the silverware drawer that was part of the dining table. We also believed for years, since Grandma told us and it must be true, that Santa Claus lived in her closet. It was always bulging open!

Grandma will be going down to Florida to join my aunt and uncle. I'll be looking for a Polish butcher in Chicago to find the kielbasa we won't have for the holidays anymore, since that was the errand Gram always made sure to run for the holidays, even if the celebration was held in New Jersey or Philadelphia. Here she is slicing up the appetizers! I'm sure I'll be thinking of all the other details that will be becoming memories as she moves this week.

Whenever I was in New York City I tried to find an hour to visit with Grandma. Once ducking out of market research for just an hour, after our moderator told me the right subway line to take. I had to get back quickly and Grandma scolded me a little for being in such a hurry. New York City won't be the same without Grandma there.

Bad News / Good News

The bad news: the dress I was planning to wear to our friend's 12.11.10 wedding does not fit.

The good news: it is WAY too large. As a strapless dress, it falls right down...to my hips. Which is kind of hard to believe, since when I wore it before I didn't feel that much rounder. I guess I was. (See photo.)

What could it mean that I still feel pretty much the same? Was I overconfident then? Or am I just a long-time sufferer of body dysmorphic disorder? That was 2008, believe it or not, which makes me feel better about getting a new dress anyway.

What I'm considering (besides just lots of Breyer's Caramel Praline ice cream to gain back the weight for the wedding) is Rent the Runway. Renting seems to make a lot more sense for a dress that you will wear just once or twice. The dress above, which I still adore, was worn for just two weddings. A fashion tragedy.

And how about renting a dress that would cost 3x as much, for as low as 1/3 the cost?! Designer labels too! I know, I sound quite the advocate. I am enamored with the idea, and it gets better when I start window shopping. You can even rent great jewelry to go with your Cinderella dress. If you think about it, her dress was kind of a rental too.

Which one would you pick for me? Our event is an evening wedding in the city. The bride is wearing a floor length strapless gown, so you'll definitely know which one she is. Jason will be in a suit, probably somewhat reluctantly.

Roksanda Illincic Olive Drape DressRoksanda Illincic Belted Copper Gown (I guess I like her stuff!) Check out the detail on the belt! Although the length might make it too formal.Badgley Mishka Sequin Bell Sleeve Sheath (love them, and never thought I'd be able to wear their designs for the price.)More amazing details, too. Dresses like this make me want a vow renewal ceremony, at the top of a tall skyscraper. Seems like it might be too close to white...and the bride?Another Badgley Mishka, with a more casual sparkle. Very Sienna Miller, easy glamour. I could even rent the last TWO for half the retail price of one!

P.S. Also consider, what might work with Great Aunt Jean's mink wrap? (Worn twice too.)

Solid as a Rock

Every time I'm pulling out my laptop and the ziploc bag that reveals too much of my personal hygiene habits to strangers at the airport, I wonder if we're doomed to travel with 3 ounce bottles in a 1 quart plastic bag forever.

What I miss the most in my travels (besides having room to steal hotel shampoo) is perfume.

It occurs to me that I have ignored the perfume solid industry for too long. If they can do it with deodorant, why not perfume?

L'Occitane Bergamont Tea Solid
Target and Sonia Kashuk have some options, though not with terrific ratings.On the upscale side, Marc Jacobs incorporates his perfume into flirty jewelry. How crazy fun do "Red Fruits, Rum, Vanilla, Musk, Peach, Tangerine, Licorice and Hawthorn" sound in Crazylibellule and the Poppies' Poule de Luxe Vanilla Pom d'Amour?I think I'd likely end up with one of their flavors, since there's also the "Grapefruit, Peach, Pineapple, Lime, Lemon, Cedar, Orange, Blackcurrant, Musk, and Jasmine" of their Shanghaijava Ananas Imperial. I fall hard just reading about scents.

Countdown!

The countdown has taken on momentum and before I know it, Jason and I will be boarding a plane for India.

I'm using a tote bag in the workroom to set aside the things I'd later probably forget to bring and stuff I've been requisitioning for weeks like bug spray, travel pillows and the like.

If only there was a way to know now what I will inevitably forget later. There's always a small moment of relief when I realize the one thing that I did forget and it passes. "Oh, that's all, just my headphones. I can buy those in the airport. If that's all it is, what a relief."

Cheese Curd Weekend

This weekend I was reminded of the definition of "isthmus," because I was on one in Wisconsin, for the Ohio State versus Wisconsin game. Madison, as it turns out, is on an isthmus - the narrow strip of land between two bodies of water. (I had to mentally sort out the difference between isthmus, archipelago, and peninsula.) The two bodies of water are Lake Monona and Lake Mendota...which I quickly just started collectively calling Lake Menomena. Close enough.
It was a gorgeous fall football weekend for strolling around the streets of Madison with two friends who are badger grads. We stopped by the State Capitol, and planned the day's pre-game itinerary to hit the favorite college stops, like the student union terrace. I confessed to never having tasted cheese curds, so that became an early menu item at our first stop for the favorite tomato mushroom bisque soup friend Andrea remembered from her undergrad days. As I reflected on how nice it was to be in a new town with folks who knew the best places to be she quickly interjected, "Keep in mind, this is the soup I liked when I was 19 years old...when I had no money, had just left little Kimberly, Wisconsin and wore green boots thinking they were grunge." Look at those golden fried cheese curds!

Before heading out to watch the game at a bar (we didn't have tickets) we stopped at Madison's Tornado Room for Old-Fashioneds. In a very Mad Men setting with leather booths and retro lighting, I learned that parts of Wisconsin never really left the brown liquor era, and ordering an Old Fashioned correctly can make you look like you belong. "Call" your alcohol first (brandy or whiskey) followed by your mixer (sweet or sour) and your garnish (cherries, olives, onion...) For me it was Brandy Old Fashioned, sweet with cherries. This weekend reminded me that even across state lines and between families, our cultures can be very distinct, and it's fun to get to know other traditions, foods and drinks.

The evening continued with more cheese curds, and decidedly lower brow beer choices. It was here that I watched the end of the game that didn't go so well for the Buckeyes. I told Jason that there had been a lot of Buckeye fans in town and he matter-of-factly replied, "There are a lot of Buckeye fans everywhere." Here I am watching the game come to its sad end...but an outcome that made a lot of people in Wisconsin pretty happy. Since I chose to primarily wear neutral red, I fit right in and avoided too many hecklers. (The guy at the bar did notice my OSU t-shirt and kept on shooting me smug looks over his shoulder as the minutes ticked down. Whatever.)

Sometimes the Turkey is Thrust Upon You

It was a couple weekends ago when Jason came home from visiting Columbus (and his family) and announced that we would be hosting Thanksgiving in Chicago. "Oh fun," I thought, particularly when I heard his grandfather would be coming too. We can't imagine what Bob will think of our urban neighborhood, its noise, its diversity, its close-together living.

Also, Hank, his mom's little terrier might be in tow...and what this means for our cats will be intriguing.

It was a little while after that I began to think about how the Thanksgiving hostess is the one who does the cooking. And that I've never made a turkey before... like the whole bird. I've tried turkey breast, and cornish hens, but not the big gobbler himself.Some are born to Thanksgiving, some achieve it, and others just have the turkey thrust upon them. But let's admit it, I would never try making Thanksgiving dinner for more than just me and Jason unless I was nominated.

Mother-in-law Nancy has kindly offered her mentoring in Thanksgiving cooking, and I think some make-ahead or easily assignable sides will be helpful. Also, unplugging the smoke detector early and ignoring my co-workers who suggest that deep-frying is the way to go. I've seen home insurance ads that take their premise from accidents involving three gallons of cooking oil and the fires that follow with deep frying!

I am looking forward to the childhood memories that will flood back with making the stuffing. Thanksgiving morning often found me and Juliet watching early morning cartoons, and Dad would pop into the living room carrying loaves of bread and a big wooden bowl. It was our task to sit at the table and tear up bread. The smell of onions, butter and bread on the stovetop soon followed and I remember eating bites of the stuffing just like that. Delicious!

Of course, it was this morning that I realized we don't have a table big enough for even us five adults who will be feasting. Unless I pull in the garden furniture, which I think may work with the right table cloth.

I'll figure it out, that's what the pilgrims had to do, right?

Arriving in Warsaw, Without a Passport

It was a last minute plan, but maybe those are the best kind. Saturday night it was just a ticket to the USA versus Poland soccer match, but it felt like airfare to Eastern Europe itself. With Chicago's heritage and current population, this game was like a home game for Poland.

Walking to the train station I read my friend's text explaining her patriotic wardrobe for the game: blue jeans, white t-shirt and red flats... and an American flag tucked into her purse! I frowned a little since I had chosen a neutral green tank top and grey pants. (I didn't know what to expect from soccer fans, and didn't want to make myself a target if our seats were indeed in the middle of Warsaw.)

Just walking to Solider Field, we were passed by school buses festooned in red and white with cheering Polska fans hanging out the windows. We were among the few people speaking English! Hearing my friend bemoan that she'd never been to a USA match where American fans were in the majority, I made an early commitment to stop for a USA t-shirt. It was a lot of fun, and likely one of the first times I sang the words to the national anthem, since it seemed to matter just a little more. At Cubs games, we're all rooting for the U.S. so the Star Spangled Banner is kind of a routine.

Polish flags hung all around the stadium, and the crowd cheered, "POLSKA!" To which we began to interrupt, "USA!" until the chorus was a repetitive: "POLSKA! USA! POLSKA!! USA!!" It was still echoing in my head after the game.

I'm not sure I'll be happy going back to the sleepy pace of a baseball game after the passion and pace of the soccer game. It was a good one too, with the US tying Poland, 2-2. For us, in soccer, that's as good as a win.

Yeah, I Wear Hats

There's really not enough imagination in adult life. That's why I love this Target commercial. And yeah, it kind of makes me want a hat.

I am mostly guilty of imagining myself a spy when I put on a trench coat and stand quietly on a train platform. Also, a princess when I am forced to sit in a meeting that is completely dull... you never saw Princess Diana yawn during the ridiculous number of ceremonies, presentations, and children's performances she had to sit through. This also reminds me to sit up straight, since the first step to imagining yourself a princess is good posture.
With the right hat though, I could fancy myself in the English countryside too.

Things to Like About Fall...

Fall makes me think about comfort and snuggling in against the crisp temperatures. And pumpkin, lots of pumpkin.

Sweaters with grandpa collars and chunky knitsNail polish colors like wine and this season's "greige"
Wool blankets (
via Apartment Therapy)Even more blankets here.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the one time of year you'll find me at StarbucksAnd a pumpkin muffin, maybe with some cream cheese icing on top too!(Although, it's not entirely helpful to the fitness plan that the company cafeteria is offering 50 cent pumpkin pie slices every Friday! It's a good thing pumpkin is only on the menu for a brief few months of the year.)

Cat with a Banjo

That's all. (He has t-shirts too.)

A weird nook of the internet is the antique cat photo group on flickr. I can't even tell you how I stumbled down that little path on the world wide web.

Like a Hurricane

The 10K is over, and I made it, running the whole way too! (I kind of surprised even myself with that.) Perhaps I was motivated to end the race as soon as possible, since conditions were less than comfortable.Temps were in the low 50s, and the race started 20 minutes late. A light persistent rain began before I was even finished with Mile 1 and continued even a hour after the race ended. The course ran from Grant Park onto the Museum Campus and around the aquarium to a long lakefront trail. It was pretty to run along the lake, however the wind was fierce! At times I couldn't tell if I was getting wet from the rain or from the spray of the waves hitting the sea walls. On the way back past the aquarium again I wondered if I wasn't running in slow motion, the prevailing wind being so strong. Just holding my ground took some effort, much less moving forward. I wondered, "Am I running in a hurricane??!"

Unofficial finish time was 1 hour, five minutes. (And I did wear the time chip, even though I was worried about a bad time going into internet posterity when the race times are posted with my name in them.)

A lunch of spicy Thai soup with co-workers who'd also come to the race, and a long hot shower afterward were welcome.

I'd share some pictures but I had a little accident involving my cell phone, camera, and the free post-race Gatorade. I may recover from the race but the phone and camera are still questionable. (Calls are being forwarded to my work blackberry, but I may not be responding to text messages for a little while.)
 

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