Monday, December 31, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Do not use more than 4 times per day

I asked myself: how can something be both icy and hot at the same time?

Now I have my answer.

Icy Hot is weird. I am not sure how to describe the sensation. It is both icy and it is hot -- absolutely no false advertising there. It is like a self-inflicted chemical burn, but my skin isn't turning red or peeling off. At least not yet.

I'm not exactly convinced it has helped my muscle pain. It is fairer to say it has taken my mind off muscle pain, because now I am more worried about my skin turning inside out, and finding words to describe the tingling in my limbs, so when I call an ambulance we can avoid small talk and get right down to the business of gluing me back together.

That said, I am not against it. I am only mid-way through this wacky experiment. It smells medicinal, even though I bought the rapid vanishing scent formula. It applied clear. And as promised, it's got this phantom dry-ice burn thing going on.

Truth be told, the only reason I am doing this was to use more of my flexible spending money. If my arms fall off, I have only bureaucracy to blame. And my own damnable curiosity!

(I just IM'd Jer and he said to hang in there, it does help. I am paraphrasing because he's never actually said the words "hang in there." But deep down I know that's exactly what he means.)

Square Peg, Round Hole

At Tully's coffee this morning, I noticed they'd added stanchions to control the flow of the line. The front of the line is now marked by a small sign that says, "Enter here" and is on the far side of the entrance of the store, not exactly intuitive since you have to walk to back side of the registers instead of just stand in front of them. As I waited, I noticed one or two people get in line from the wrong end, completely defeating the purpose.

When I finally got to the front of the line, I had the following conversation:

Me: The new line is kind of confusing.
Lead barista: Yeah, you should've seen it the first day. Everyone kept coming in the wrong side.
Me: Maybe you could make the sign bigger. Or go back to the old way.
Lead barista: This is more user-friendly.

Yeah, because user-friendly means pissing off your pre-caffeinated customers. Oooh Tully's, if I didn't enjoy your coffee so darned much...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation

Our Christmas holiday was spent on the couch, watching DVDs (US version of The Office seasons 1 and 2, Venture Brothers season 2, Futurama Bender's Big Score, and The IT Crowd), playing Lego Star Wars on the Gamecube, and indulging in the occasional adult beverage. It was fantastic, if only for the fact I had Jer to myself for 3 whole days. Plus it snowed on Christmas day. How great is that?

I received several wonderful cookbooks, a set of Faulkner, a pair of Fluevogs from Jer, a couple of non-fiction books (including a beginning running handbook and the 4 hour work week), and "The Prestige," which I've already mentioned. It was a very good year. Post-Christmas I bought myself: two King-sized sheet sets on sale at (our current sheets came free with the bed six months ago and are falling apart) and two Champion sports bras on sale at One Hanes Place (my current ones are about 5 years old and I want to run more in 2008). w00t.

This year I'm finally starting to feel more secure financially, so I decided to explore local donation opportunities. In my research I came across a special event at Planned Parenthood I thought I'd share with you. Now through December 31, a long-time supporter will match, dollar for dollar, every donation they receive up to a total of $250,000. It's an organization I feel strongly about, and it's a pretty neat deal, so there you go.

Outside the weather is doing a wacky subtle hybrid of rain/snow. I'm looking forward to my second 4-day weekend in a row. And I'm starting to think about my goals-not-resolutions for next year. Happy Thursday.

Monday, December 24, 2007

An Elaborate Recap of 2007

2006 was fairly forgettable, except for the fact it was a bad year and I was happy to see it go. I never wrote a recap because it wasn't worth it to me, but 2007 on the other hand, that's a year I can get behind.

I believe the year started with a hangover. I was overwhelmed at work and was in the office on Saturdays to catch up. I went bowling in Capitol Hill with work and to the Chapel after for drinks. There was a lot of snow and ice in January, and I had difficulty convincing cab drivers to drive me all the way to West Seattle where it was rumored to be the end of times.

Found out I was good at darts. Obtained more Le Creuset. Jer was temporarily unemployed. I was pretty much depressed this whole month.

This month also started with a hangover. I found an incredible meatloaf recipe and made fried chicken. Jer started a new job.

Obtained more Le Creuset. Obsessed with work.

I went to the Bodies Exhibition to see cadavers and was scared straight. Maybe I should exercise? crosses my mind.

Went to Metropolitan Market for the first time and learned where to buy cilantro/Chinese Parsley. First trip to Charlestown Street Cafe for dinner. First trip to Daiso.

Jer and I spent a weekend in Port Angeles before he started his new job. We ate well, but the trip was not a good one. He was worried about starting his new job on the following Monday and I was in a poor headspace.

I paid off my photography school loan in February. That still makes me happy.

Lily visited, yay. We ate our way across Seattle and went on a tour of Theo Chocolate.

First trip to the dentist in Seattle.

Donated blood. Learned how to make a proper omelet. Drank too much. Went to Jak's Grill for the first time. Wrote lyrics for the first time.

We bought a new mattress! First new one I've had in 10 years. And it was king-sized. Happy times! (Jer was at the emergency room getting his hand stitched together as it was delivered.)

The biggest news of the month was: I started with a personal trainer again. I returned to the gym after an absence of about 6 months.

Jer and I went to the Woodinville Wine Weekend. This month was a pretty good one.

Second day of Woodinville Wine Weekend. Ate at the Mongolian Grill for the first time.

I take the first steps to treat my body healthier, but this is a very long road. The initial pain of workouts is overwhelming and I spend many hours on the couch with a heating pad.

I made a Shepherd's Pie. I took a random vacation day to relax.

I started weighing my food with a scale and counting calories. Then I signed up for a weight loss contest at the gym. Courtney and Chris took me to see Rat City Rollergirls.

I quit drinking for the contest. Mostly to see if I could do it.

Water taxi season started! I took photos at Courtney's auction for the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk and I helped a co-worker move. I also started looking into taking financial planning courses.

I set up my online photo store and photo blog.

Still dieting and not drinking.

Played golf for the first time on a 9 hole par 3 course. Then went to Beveridge Place Pub for the first time. (A lot of firsts this year.) Was embarrassed to ask the bartender for a Diet Coke, but got over myself.

Sent an entry to a playwriting contest. Started a Project Management class. Our friend Mike came to visit. Submitted to for the first time.

To sum up my March recap: this month was about dieting, not drinking, and photography. I completed the weight loss contest with a 15 pound loss.

The first day of this month ended up being one of the worst of my entire life. It made me realize a couple of important things and since that night, everything has been better. Jer rescued me from a stupid situation I put myself into, and for the first time in a long time, I realized how much he cared for me. Probably more than I cared for myself at the time. 2006 was bad for us both and for the previous few months, things had been steadily improving, but this was the night it all came together. My drinking was one problem, a friendship with someone who was a bad influence was another, and wandering off into the night and getting myself lost in an industrial section of the city at 11pm was the final straw.

I bought a knee brace. Gym, photography, and professional rejection... Jer's sister had a baby girl.

Jer and I went to Gasworks for the first time. We started (this month) to spend more concentrated quality time together. Also, Jer bought me a fisheye lens as a belated Christmas present.

Friends over for Fourth of July, photos taken. Jer and I walked/roller bladed to Seafair. It was awesome. If only because he conceded to leave the house and engage in a form of exercise!

My parents visited, yay! I proceeded to take them EVERYWHERE, including Bainbridge Island.

Jer and I ate at the Royal India Grill for the first time.

Created a new and improved budget for saving for a house downpayment.

Jer and I walked around the park on a pretty summer day.

Jer and I went to a movie. (I'm highlighting these outings because they were huge for our relationship. After 7 years, our life together meant taking each other for granted.)

KOMO-TV blogger meetup.

I submitted photos to a stock photography site after hemming and hawing for years. I was ultimately accepted.

I turned 30. I got engaged. We ordered our wedding bands. Jer started his crazy working-at-night schedule -- which incidentally is still happening, 4 months later.

I rented a slide scanner and scanned in all my slides from photography school. That was a pain in the ass.

First trip to Skylark Cafe. First visit to the Ballard Locks. Jer and I spent a lovely afternoon exploring the Locks and the Salmon Ladder.

Another cleaning at the dentist. First bra fitting at Macy's. First taste of poutine.

Jer and I went to the Greek Festival. Jer and I saw They Might Be Giants in concert.

I bought a yogurt maker and snapped a lucky shot of a bald eagle with the Space Needle in the background.

Started selling on Sold last year's Halloween costume on eBay.

I married Jeremy.

Saw "Bat Boy: The Musical." Cooked a fair amount this month. Jer and I went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch. It was awesome.

I went to see Crazy Aunt Purl do her book reading in Seattle and then I bought biking shorts with padding. I started a spinning class.

Fires in San Diego. Parents temporarily evacuated.

Jer and I went to a movie and a pub. I went to the doctor for an annual checkup. No surprises.

Sold a lot more items on Started saving for a wedding dinner with the families. Made Beef Daube Provencal.

Paid to have the knives sharpened at the Farmer's Market. Took the car in for an oil change. Bought clothes. Jer and I drove to Tacoma for Carl's, Jr.

More pumpkin beer!

I cooked a lot of food for Thanksgiving, including my grandmother's recipe for Greek Stuffing. Started playing Diablo II again.

Went to a fancy bar or two with CRo and drank things with egg whites in them.

It snowed!

My Saturday spinning class ended. I made yogurt finally. Jer and I saw Mike Doughty at the Triple Door. So much fun.

I tried absinthe!

Jer and I went to southern California to visit families and go to our fancy wedding dinner. My sister appeared unexpectedly and we all had a great time. Then I caught a cold on the way home.

I went on the Christmas Ship for the first time.

Recap of Recap:
2007 was about trying a lot of things for the first time. It was also about reclaiming a relationship from the pits of relationship purgatory and giving it a brand new life. And lastly, it was about physical pain (the gym) and photography (On Focus Photo.) And as a second lastly, it was about making new Seattle friends.

Thanks for bearing with me! Looking forward to what 2008 has in store. -- Christy

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Week of Holiday Excess & Adventure

I tried to go home at a sensible time. At 6pm, I was standing at the bus stop, waiting for the 6:10 bus to take me home. I entertained myself with thoughts of how good I was, going home and curling up to read "The Prestige," and definitely not drinking anymore alcohol.

At 6:25pm, I thought, I have been waiting for this bus for a long time and maybe it isn't coming? Just then I saw CRo.

CRo and I discussed our options. She texted Metro and first it said our bus was coming and then it said our bus had sailed mysteriously by without us noticing. Instead of anger, we embraced opportunity and stopped in for a quick drink at The Can Can. I had two very creative and tasty drinks. The first had egg and nutmeg and maple syrup and something else and the second was one of the best Bloody Marys I've ever had.

We took a different bus home so we could eat at the Luna Park Cafe, where I ordered a bacon cheeseburger with fried egg and chili. We amused ourselves by feeding the jukebox at our table and me trying in vain to get the apparatus to play "Mac the Knife."

After all the excess, this morning I feel remarkably better than I should, but it occurs to me I haven't told you about the Christmas Ship yet. I want to thank Courtney and her husband for showing me a great time last Wednesday night.

As their website says, The Christmas Ship has been a Northwest tradition for 58 years. It leaves from different locations and travels along different routes during the month of December, and for a fee you can ride on the boat and listen to carolers on the loud speaker and see all the pretty lights. There are two "stops" along the tour when the boats pause in their journey and the carolers let loose. On the shore at these stops, is often a bonfire and hot chocolate for the residents. Our trip lasted a couple of hours and there were games for the kids, and booze for the adults. You can also order box lunches ahead of time, which I highly recommend, because those lunches are tasty and filling.

The night we went was unsurprisingly rainy and cold, but most of the ship was covered and warm, with a few exceptions where people would gather to hear the choir better. Only then you were at the mercy of the weather.

We traveled on the Parade Boat, which follows the actual Christmas Ship and holds the overflow of people. One of the highlights was going outside to watch The Christmas Ship navigate under the 90 through a tight spot, and then staring up at the bottom of the bridge as we followed behind.

Tomorrow is the last run of the Christmas ship this year, but as I wrote it is an annual tradition. Mark your calendar for next year and then buy your tickets fast because it sells out most nights. Thanks again, Chris and Courtney, for a great time!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

eTrade alert

If you have an eTrade account, today is customer appreciation day -- that means no commissions on trades. Great time to rebalance your portfolio or pick yourself up a little something for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Caffeine at 8pm

I feel self-destructive in only the way a Tuesday in December can make you feel. I want to eat things full of sugar and drink gallons of soda, rotting the teeth right out of my head. I want to stay up late and watch mindless, soul-killing infomercials about products that lie. I want to commit sloth over and over, curl up under the covers until a spiralling line of drool stains my pillow grey.

After indulging in sugar and a diet soda, I feel mildly jumpy. Like my eyes are propped against their will, dry, threatening to fold. My tongue is coated in stale caramel flavoring. And a cat suddenly finds the space in my lap appealing, her head resting in the crook of my typing arm. She stretches against my side, purring and demanding I scratch her chin. So I bleed energy from my fingers and type-pet-type-scratch-type until she loses interest and uses my bladder as a vertical trampoline.

But that comes later. For now, she purrrrrs.

I taste the potential for change as a disconcerting melody. So I grab on to moments with a death grip and say to my brain, pay attention, it's shifting. Flash bulb this one... I've decided in my unscientific analysis (AKA my opinion) that Alzheimer's is the brain's inability to shift back from sleep state to waking state. In my dreams I accept anything as possible. I construct elaborate stories about impossible things and I believe them completely. When I wake, sometimes there's a moment of disorientation, and I think, "This is what it is to not know who I am."

Maybe Alzheimer's is when the brain can't distinguish between the disorientation of dreams and the ephemeral structure of memory. Fffppppt. Shuffle the cards. Shoe matches shoe. Hat matches hat. Or maybe I'm just writing out of my ass. Wouldn't be the first time.

Not even early risers at a yard sale would buy what I'm selling.

Surprises & Sickness

One of the best surprises happened during the California trip: my sister magically appeared fresh from Iraq. Or mostly fresh. It was completely unpredicted and I cried a little. As my in-laws would say, "I squirted some."

She attended the dinner and met Jer's family, most of whom didn't believe she actually existed. But she did, and she does, and it was awesome.

Today the sniffles are letting up a bit. I woke up fewer times choking than the previous night, always good.

Make sure you check out tomorrow's photo at On Focus Photo Blog. I am especially proud of it. Fish-eye, meet rose. So happy together.

I admit I am not in the best mood ever. I've been eating too much and need to go back to the gym, but with all the sniffles and the scratchy throat, I've been giving myself a pass. As well as an inordinate amount of heavy cream. There are other things going on which make me cranky, and someday I may tell the Internet about it, but now is not the time.

One more thing. My sister made me get a manicure and pedicure while she had her hair lightened. I've never had this done before and it was weird. I am not sure whether I liked it or not, but it seemed like an awful lot of time to stare at a person filing the bottom of my foot or snipping the crap out of my cuticles. Also, nail filing is the worst noise in the entire world.

So... I think I lean towards not liking it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

28 Dogs, 3 Cats, 6 Goats, 1 Baby

Hi! It has been so long, Internet. I was way too busy to miss you much but you were sometimes on my mind. I'll give you that.

The fancy wedding dinner was very nice. The families all got along. The limo showed up on time. I looked like this:

I took lots and lots and lots of photos on this trip. Many will find their way to my photo site. Speaking of photos, I was just notified that one of my flickr photos is being used in the fourth edition of the Schmap Seattle Guide. It's in the Bite of Seattle section -- if you click the link it should display in the far right.

Back to the trip... I took photos of goats and babies and dogs and roses and cacti and the baby photos are so cute they would literally make your brain explode. Unfortunately it is not my baby, so I won't be posting these photos anywhere near the Internet, but I assure you: very cute.

I spent a few days in San Diego and a few days in Temecula. Now I am in my pajamas, and my sinuses are stuffed and achy. I managed to catch a cold on the last day of my trip, when my body finally gave up and said, Self, go home and sleep. As a result, I see the world right now through a very odd fog of decongestants and lozenges.

Somewhere past the yellow haze, Vash is crying. I must go to him... and drink a gallon of water, fold my laundry, and then sleep for many hours in a row. Pictures later.

Friday, December 07, 2007

To the Skies

It's time for me to make some decisions along with coffee and decide what to pack. I put a pile of things by the door that I mustn't forget, and I have tiny lists scattered around. Now I must make those things fit into the spaces I can carry over my shoulder and on wheels.

The highest of priorities are:

  • Package thing for shipping
  • Post 2 photoblog entries
  • Wash the towels and jeans
  • Drink coffee
  • Pack for trip
I found a cute red necklace at Macy's to match my dress, and yesterday I bought a suitable "foundation garment," as Tim Gunn's Guide to Style might say. The limo is paid for, the wedding dinner is completely saved for, and my arms are buff.

As a wise man once said, "These are the good times."

Do not fret, Internet. I will take pictures for you and it'll be just like you were there. See you in a week, unless I post sooner.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy day after Repeal Day!

Last night's adventures were initiated by C Ro and inspired by Repeal Day -- the day prohibition was repealed. The evening started at Vessel, where they offered numerous drink specials and offered 33% off discounts for anyone wearing 1933 garb. C Ro looked fabulous in her stole and fancy dress. I rocked the business casual. We were later joined by Beard Boy and her other friends, who all looked fantastic in their 30's-themed outfits as well.

I tried many things. There was Dewar's on the rocks, a Presbyterian (Scotch, ginger beer, ginger ale, Peychaud's bitters), and also absinthe. I asked the waitress if it was real and she assured me it was, but I do not know the brand or any other details. It tasted the way I expected, like black licorice juice. It was served very prettily on a silver tray, and I was able to finally try louching -- adding sugar and water to cloud the spirit. It is not something I would drink on a daily basis, but I enjoyed the experience.

A slightly wobbly walk later, we arrived at The Zig Zag Cafe, which is located just below Pike Place Market. I ordered a beer, but didn't drink it. I felt the evening's activities catch up with me, so I switched to water. There was more talking and nibbling of food and ultimately a cab ride home to my cats.

Not a bad way to celebrate Repeal Day, I'd say.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Little Night Music

Last night was fantastic. Jer and I saw Mike Doughty at The Triple Door. If you're not familiar, he was also the lead singer of Soul Coughing.

The Triple Door is an awesome venue. It's a dim, intimate setting with rows of staggered and graded tables, chairs, and booths. A server takes your drink and food order, and places a carafe of water in front of you. I never felt crowded, we had an incredible view, and even though I was in the same row as 15 other patrons or so, our place settings were grouped and angled so it didn't seem like we intruded on other conversations or groups. I just loved it. Also, I continuously marvelled at how the servers managed to stay unobtrusive, even as they cleared plates and refilled drinks.

Meals were on the pricey side since you are a captive audience, but well seasoned and prepared. I actually hesitate to tell you about The Triple Door, because I want to keep it all to myself.

Opening for Mike Doughty was Kris Orlowski, who I enjoyed well enough to purchase his CD. (I rarely do that.) He was very nice and down to earth and signed the insert in my CD. After a brief intermission, Mike Doughty and his cellist/guitarist (Scrap?) took questions/requests from the audience and played for an hour and a half. My only disappointment is he did not play "I Hear the Bells," but he played most of his other songs from "Haughty Melodic," one of my favorite albums ever.

Last year Jer and I drove to Everett to see Mike Doughty open for Barenaked Ladies at the Everett Events Center. It snowed pretty violently and we found ourselves stuck in Everett, checking into a hotel at the last minute. I have to say, not getting trapped in a strange town on a Sunday night would've made this year's show a highlight, but the venue plus the show plus the great service made it an extremely memorable evening.

I highly recommend the artist and the venue by giving them both one billion imaginary stars and a tube of toothpaste. They may divide the spoils however they like.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Yogurt is yummy

I finally made yogurt and it's not that hard. It's actually kind of a wobbly.

I purchased a packet of yogurt starter, a yogurt maker, and a thermometer. First you bring 1 liter of milk to its boiling point on the stove, then let it cool to about 44 degrees Celsius. Then you mix the milk with the starter and put it all in the yogurt maker. Plug the yogurt maker in, and let it sit for about 5 1/2 hours -- depending on the starter used. Finally, stick in the fridge for about 8 hours.

The end result was yogurt, which is fantastic for my first batch. It is more tart than I expected, but tasty. Next I will experiment adding additional flavors and/or sugar. I have my eye on a vanilla yogurt recipe for next time.

This is not the only way to make yogurt, but it worked for me. The end.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My Minutiae

Last morning of spinning and it wiped me out. The theme was Ironman. I worked my ass off, came home and slept.

This time last year and the year before (give or take a day), it snowed, so I shouldn't have been surprised when I woke from my nap and shrieked, "Snow!"

Jer unfortunately had to work downtown, but the roads didn't seem too bad. I drank two cups of coffee and hung lights around the living room and now I'm feeling the season.

I also confirmed our reservations for the fancy wedding dinner, and that they could provide a highchair. Phew. And then reserved a van to take us to the airport next weekend. Now we just have to find something for Jer to wear. (I found myself a red dress.)

It is still snowing softly outside. You can see the flakes against the streetlights. It won't last, but it makes for a cozy evening.

SNOW (and happy birthday lily)

I looked outside and saw this:

Yay, December!