Archive for December, 2011

Slow day

This morning started with a Ron Paul supporter giving me his spiel at breakfast. I didn’t know him. I was just making waffles in the lobby of the hotel. I did not give him my opinion of Ron Paul’s narrow view of foreign policy.

Fuckin’ Hipster and I drove back into the city. We split and I had lunch with an old friend from college whom I haven’t seem since the last time I was in Chicago—for his wedding. It seems that I only visit Chicago for weddings.

We had a spectacular lunch at South Water Kitchen. Then I took a tour of his offices. He is doing quite well for himself. It makes me wonder when I will grow up and become an adult.

Then I checked into my hotel. I’m in the other tower this time, with a view of the lake. I keep thinking it is an ocean out there.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon walking. I pretty much walked the loop. I went through the park and found the big metal drop. The architecture in Chicago is fabulous. And everywhere has seemed so clean and lovely. I never thought I’d like this city so much!

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Now I’m off to find some dinner. I was invited to dinner, but I don’t actually know what time. I am still hoping they might call and tell me. Either way, I will find dinner somewhere!

And then…

Drunken shopping. Always a bad idea. But I had to walk south on the Magnificent Mile. Oh look! The place where Cub Scout and Brownie are registered. I printed out the registry. Crate and Barrel use a horrible semi-touch-screen Windows system. I [redacted ranting].

I said, “[redacted swearing] “, and went to the register and explained I’d been drinking and am incapable of buying something (but am capable of writing a comprehensive blog post about the situation), so, do they sell gift certificates? Amused as they were, they helped me obtain a gift certificate. I’m hoping Cub Scout realizes that half of his gift is this story.

Across the street from Crate and Barrel was Ann Taylor. Not Ann Taylor Loft, but I’ll give it a try. No dresses. No dresses. Dress. Damn, price tag. Try it on anyways. Damn, it is awesome. Drunken shopping. Buy it!

I spilled the beans to the cashier. I said, with an Eyeore expression, It isn’t on sale, is it?

Fifty percent off!

I win!

Saving that much means I can stop at Swarovski. Not really, but don’t forget, I’ve been drinking. And even more than drinking, I’m looking for a good story. I’ll do almost anything for a story.

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Even buy ridiculously priced crystals.

Time to find the restaurant that @puls suggested. Something about a goat. Not on this street. Maybe in the alley. Nope. Oh there it is! In the utilitarian part of the city down the stairs.

Billy Goat Tavern.

Not what I was expecting.

I couldn’t order dinner from the bar, but was welcome to bring it back. I’m a new vegetarian. Oh. Grilled Cheese. Sure. Chips. Sure. Plain or BBQ? Never mind. You are plain. Okay.

Beer. Miller, Miller Lite, Natty Light, Billy Goat Ale. Yes. Where is it made? Germany. Yes.

Next thing I knew, I had a bet going with the bartender, for my drinks, that the Celtics would beat the Heat. Implanted Massholes to Wisconsin were there to back me up. They loved that I had lived in Salem because I’d
followed a full moon there. They don’t know it, but they bought me a shot of Jameson.

Some kid came in and ordered a shot of gin. Then he tried to order a coke as a chaser. I told him no. I didn’t know he couldn’t, but I was right. He had to get the coke where I got my grilled cheese.

The waiter was rooting for the Celtics too. The kid ordered a vodka shot for him and his friend. The bartender and I had already discussed how they probably weren’t of age. So I asked if it was their 21st birthday. Sure enough, it was.

Surprise.

The Celtics lost. Only by a couple points. I was supposed to take the bartender to the wedding if I lost. He changed it to just a hug. Close enough.

I took my Swarovski crystals, and half-priced dress and headed back to my hotel.

Expensive cardboard pizza.

Okay

Good night!

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An expensive day (so far)

I had only one goal today: find a dress for tomorrow’s wedding.

I failed at finding a dress. Instead, I bought three jackets, three camisoles, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shoes, and a turtleneck in a pear tree.

Luckily, I brought a dress with me. I think I can wear one of the new jackets with it.

I hate shopping—really, really hate shopping—so when I do it, I go all out. I’m not sure now how I’m supposed to fit it all into the carry-on bag I brought with me. I could wear it all on the plane but that would be ridiculous. My FMBs took up a lot of space in the bag, so I can wear those home. I purposely didn’t bring enough clothes for the week knowing that I wasn’t going to have enough room after shopping. Hrm. I did bring a pair of wool pants. Maybe those are more appropriate for a winter wedding in Chicago than a dress.

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After shopping, I went back to my hotel and played fashion show. Realizing I hadn’t eaten lunch, I ate some celery I’d brought. Don’t feel bad for me. I had two more pieces of the pizza from last night for breakfast. Skipping lunch wasn’t a big deal. I felt bad for tossing the last two pieces. I wish I’d run into the homeless guys after dinner last night. I would have given them all my leftovers.

I put on the comfortable pair of new shoes, a cami and a jacket, then covered them with my big, grey, wool coat; lavender scarf; and wool cap; and headed back out into the cold and wind.

I love the architecture in Chicago. It is amazing. Without all the shopping bags, I could walk around and see the amazing buildings. Funny how shopping bags get in the way of that!

I didn’t take any photos. The sky was grey and the photos would look as depressing as it is, so I prefer to remember it in my mind as beautiful and intricate. To me, Chicago is Boston without the cow paths and with lessons learned.

The weird thing I saw on Michigan Ave was that there are two levels to the city. The ritzy shopping area that took all my money is on the second floor. When I was actually watching where I was walking, I realized there was a service level first floor. Odd, but at the same time, extremely utilitarian. I do like me some utility.

I checked out the old water tower. They had photos of before and now. I stopped at the visitor center to figure out what I was missing. Then I spent a half an hour at the John Hancock building on my iPhone trying to see if there was a way to buy drinks instead of paying to see the observatory. Better value for the price.

There is a lounge. 96th floor.

I started with the Rush Street: Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico, Amaretto DiSaronno, cream.

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I watched the sunset. Sort of. I really would have watched it except I am at the bar where it is mostly couples and single people. There were two guys. I don’t know if they were a couple or on a bro date. Either way, the sunset was over the shoulder of one of them. I kind of wanted him to buy me a drink, but I wasn’t going to take him home.

Commence blogging.

The smell is intoxicating. Spices. I have to have it.

The bartender had never given me a menu. I was ignored for a while, cleavage and all. So I looked up the drink menu on the internets. When he did pay attention, I was ready. It was a tough call between two of the drinks. This time I ordered the one that was spicy. The Seasonal Hot Spiced Pear Cider: Cruzan Spiced Rum, Butterscotch Schnapps, Hot Spiced Pear Cider.

I was on the phone with Meine Schwester. This isn’t the place to pick up single men. The bartender was much nicer this time. Maybe I smiled more. He asked later if I liked it. I told him that I’d been smelling it and couldn’t resist. He showed that it was brewed in front of me. I want to do a study about the number of people in this seat that order it.

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I am paying the check. The bartender wanted to know which drink I liked better. I told the bartender how he had ignored me. When the check came, I think there was only one drink on it. I tipped him for two.

It is only quarter past five. I have more planned. I have to stop kidding myself about going to a city to see the sights. I eat and drink and walk my way around.

Tying to decide if I stop at the wine bar on my way to dinner.

It’s still early…

…but I’m afraid of the elevator.

Why start slow?

I’m on my way to Chicago. I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, celery and an orange. Then I bought a bottle of water to drink and refill. I planned to be good.

But then my flight was delayed and my plans flew out the window. I found myself seated at the bar at Vino Volo. A glass of 2009 Outcast Pinot Noir was set in front of me. The penne and cheese magically arrived from the adjacent Napa Farms. A fitting start to my vacation.

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Merry Hair Porn Day!

It has been six months. Decided I needed a trim. No before picture today, just after.

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In hot water

Isn’t it pretty?
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I realize now that I should have taken a before picture. But on Saturday morning, when I crawled out of bed at 0715, I went to fill my dog’s water bowl. Behind the closet door, I could hear running water. Even in my sleepy state, I knew it was not right.

But I really had to pee first. And put on some clothes. I couldn’t think in my pajamas. I just couldn’t think. What do I do? How do I make the water heater stop leaking water from the side? Turn off the incoming water and then ask the internets for help. And Contractor.

First, I turned off the circuit breaker. And because the heater is above the water heater, I turned its circuit breaker off too for good measure.

I tried turning off the incoming water. The knob turned maybe an inch. I tried a little harder, but decided it would be worse if I broke it off.

The water was at the top of the pan. I was afraid it was going to spill over and flood the unit below. I know how these things happen. I see it all the time in HOA meetings. The HOA! Who do we call when these things happen? Call The Plumbers!

I got the pager system. In the meantime, I attempted to alleviate the situation by connecting my garden hose to the drain spout. This almost made things worse. The garden hose leaked like a sieve from the connection. I surrounded it with towels. Oh no. I put those towels in the washer and left them. Tomorrow.

The Plumbers called back. I said things were precarious. They probably weren’t as bad as I thought since the drain pan was actually working, but I didn’t know and didn’t want the liability. The dispatcher asked if I knew about the after-hour rates. Yes, I do. I sign all the checks that go to them after we call for emergency services. It isn’t cheap.

The Plumber came. He turned off the water from outside. He drained the tank. He removed the tank. He put new closing valves on the pipes and removed the corroded one I couldn’t close. He cleaned up and put everything into a stable state. He left. My water was useable, but there would be no hot water for a while.

Contractor called. I told him I wanted to put in tankless. I don’t want to worry about a flooded tank again. I did all the research. For a condo my size, for just me, it seemed completely feasible. Except for one little detail. I would have I have an entirely new circuit breaker box because I don’t have room to put in the circuit breakers required for an electric tankless water heater. The cost would have been ridiculous and the money I’d save in electrical bills probably wouldn’t save me anything in the end.

I had to go with a standard water heater. Well, sort of standard. The other reason I wanted a tankless water heater is because my water heater lives below my furnace. They share a closet. So it has to be a 30″ tall 28 gallon tank. I only have one option: a 6-year-warrantee Whirlpool. It was the only one I found at local stores.

Contractor had time today, so off to Lowes we went to pick one up. I was useless when it came to installing it, so he sent me out to find a 3/4″ compression nipple. Or even better, a SharkBite. I was clueless trying to ask for one. The guy helping thought I needed it for something else and thought we were doing it wrong. I don’t think he ever understood what I wanted it for. So I went to another store. I knew I was in to something good when I was in the section where security camera were blinking and watching me.

I finally found the part. In the meantime, Contractor had my kitchen faucet apart, performing surgery to remove kidney stones from the line. It had a lot and was slowing the water flow to a trickle. I don’t understand where it gets them from. Maybe the new water heater will help.

It all took a while, but now I have a water heater and running water in the kitchen. While I was at it, I also replaced the air filter for the furnace above. On Saturday, it had received some holes from a blow torch. Oops. Probably for the best since it needed replacing with a properly fitted one.

I’m excited to be able to take a hot shower tomorrow!

Butternut squash with persimmon sauce

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Tonight’s dinner:

Butternut squash ravioli from Santa Cruz Pasta Factory, with a a sauce of butter, onion, persimmons, a squeeze of grapefruit juice and some sprigs of thyme from my herb garden.

Roasted carrots in olive oil and a sprinkle of Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt from SpiceHound.com.

Romaine lettuce, the last of the tomatoes from my garden, a drizzle of MaGo Classic Miso dressing, and a bit of black pepper.

Don’t piss me off today

I took the shuttle to work today. I was blissfully reading a book on my iPad. The part about Joan Baez. Then my world was interrupted by a bratty, 20-something, pimply-faced child who sat behind me at the next stop.

He was talking on his phone. He wasn’t trying to hide it. In my brain, Joan Baez was replaced by a one sided conversation about the game the other night. About how this snotty kid convinced his admin to buy him twenty-four gigs of ram. He decided that he might have only needed twelve gigs. He used to have four. Then he started talking about his bank account. And ATMs. And some game he is going to next week. By then I’d closed my iPad because I’d read the same paragraph five times.

When it was my stop, I stood up, turned around, looked him in the eyes and loudly said, “I don’t care about the game, I don’t care about your bank account, and I certainly don’t care how much memory you put in your computer. Thanks for making it impossible for me to read.”

As I was ranting, his hand with the phone in it slowly fell away from his ear. He looked dumbfounded. Almost as if he were surprised that anyone had been listening.

Seriously.

Two minutes

My car reads thirty-five degrees. It is chilly outside. I didn’t expect to be in my car this morning.

I walked my dog at sunrise. I’ve seen the sunrise way too often lately. But I was in a rush to catch the shuttle. I’ve been taking a shuttle to work lately. One of my “save the human race schemes.” I always thought it was “save the planet,” but someone made a good point that the planet will survive; we won’t.

I managed to get to the shuttle stop with two minutes to spare. If I catch the early shuttle, sometimes the driver will drop me off at my building if I’m the last one off. That would be nice on a day that has a temperature of thirty-five degrees.

I wanted to take the shuttle because I’m going to a concert after work. The dog walker is going to stop by and walk Perl. And then I could just get a ride home after the concert. I had it all planned out.

I took out my phone at the bus stop. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to take off my gloves to use it. I had two minutes, so I checked my calendar to see what else is on the schedule for today. Tutoring.

I forgot tutoring.

I thought for just a moment of calling in sick. Then I hung my head and walked back home to get my car. I like tutoring. My girls this year are adorable. I can’t believe I forgot.

Two more minutes and I would have been on the shuttle and I would have had to call in forgetful. That would have been worse.

Chicken

I have survived my first week of vegetarianism.

It has been a long time coming. I like eating meat, but only if I don’t think about what I’m actually eating. When I was in Hawaii, I found myself chasing chickens and petting cows. It reminded me of growing up when I would chase my pet chicken around the yard to toughen her up so no one would want to eat her.

I don’t remember when she disappeared and I don’t like to think about what happened to her.

Yes, I had a pet chicken named Whitey. She probably thought it was a racist name.

I also had a pony. Occasionally we would catch greased pigs at the county fair. I had a Saint Bernard and cats and guinea pigs too. And a hamster or two.

I loved to raise animals.

I don’t love to eat them.

For Thanksgiving lunch, I had my first veggie burger. It was actually pretty decent. Then I had Thanksgiving turkey for dinner. On Friday I had a turkey sandwich at the airport, pretending it was my leftovers. That was the last meat I’ve eaten.

At a party a few weeks ago, bbum taunted me while I was having a crisis about eating pulled pork. I was having a hard time with the idea of eating meat if I’m not willing to kill the animals myself. He said he’d take me out to kill turkeys.

The idea frightened me so much that it forced me to make a decision.

Here I am, one week in to being a vegetarian. I just bought my first tofu at the farmers market. I’m learning about what I get from meat and from what other sources I can get those nutrients.

So far, finding decent alternatives when I go out hasn’t been so bad.

We will see how long this lasts.

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