Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adventures from Home: Hanging out with Daddy

When Alfred and I were little girls, our grandma would watch us while Mommy and Daddy were at work.  We’d spend our summer days running a muck around Grandma and Grandpa’s old Victorian home.  Playing tag around the outside of the house, swinging on the wooden swing on the front porch, imagining what it might be like to slide down the banister, jump over the railing from the floor above or do other crazy things our Uncle Steven had done has a kid.  (Though I don’t think we ever imagined launching ourselves through the plate glass front window.)

Grandma and Grandpa’s house was like a giant castle to us, full of games, toys, surprises and spooks.  The basement terrified us.  A trap door into a damp and murky 100+ year-old place is creepy enough, but those added psychedelic paintings my aunts put on the bricks in the 1960s were even more frightening.  The servant stairs also scared us a bit, but they were still one of our favorite places to play.  And of course, there were the piles and piles of books, the dollhouse with its adorable pink appliances and the puzzles Grandma was always doing.

Being at Grandma and Grandpa’s was great in itself, but there some adventures on which Grandma would take us that beat any fun we could have inside.  On really, really special days, we’d get to go visit Grandpa and Daddy at work!

The office was just a few blocks from Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  We’d go out the backdoor, through the laundry room that always smelled like a mix of dryer vent and fresh air, down the cement steps, past the iron water pump, to the back corner of the yard.  Here, there was a magical hidden gate that only Grandma and Grandpa could find.  (Probably because Alfred and I were too short to see it among the vines.)  Grandma would open the gate and help us down the steep stone steps into the alley.   We’d head down the alley to the main street, turn up the street, pass the large cemetery where my namesake is buried and head to the busy street of the Office.

The Office was built by my great-grandpa many years ago, along with several of the buildings surrounding it; including the house where he lived and my great-aunt still resides.  With it’s regal red brick, white painted shutters, high columns and green ivy wrapping around the corners, it always look steady, important, classic, and just like the doll house at Grandma’s.  All things that made me love it.

We’d have to be very quite going into the Office, in case Grandpa or Daddy or one of the other lawyers in the building were meeting with clients.  As soon as we knew the coast was clear, we’d go bounding into their offices.  Daddy’d say “hi”, wiggle his moustache, sit back with his feet up on his desk.  Across the hall, Grandpa’d reach into his secret drawer and pull out treats for us, packs of oyster crackers and breadsticks that he’d saved from the restaurants he visited.

If we got to stay for awhile, we’d photocopy our hands on the giant Xerox machine behind the counter.  Grandpa would pull out his automobile accident reconstruction stamp collection and we would make pictures of auto accident scenes to our hearts’ content.  We’d get multi-colored paper from the cabinet and write our own stories, illustrated in highlighter and felt pen.  We always had a lot of fun and felt very special to be “behind the scenes” in the Office.

The Office is still a special place to go. Grandpa’s no longer there to share his breadsticks.  But the paintings he used to hold us up to see still hang on the walls and I imagine him asking the same questions, “what do you think is at the end of that road?”

Daddy still says “hi” and puts his feet up on the desk, but now he also says, “There’s this thing going on with these people and we need to figure out this. Can you help?”  Now there are new reasons to visit Daddy at the Office.  And they’re even more special.Daddy at the officeme at daddy's office (2)

Daddy and me at the office.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My First Knitting Project

Some people say, “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”  I say, “when life hands you a ridiculously long commute, make a new wardrobe.”

One of the first things I did when my office moved several months back was map out the many different possible ways to get there and calculate the time for each.  The next thing I did was ask one of the ladies at church who I always see knitting if she could teach me how to knit.  She was delighted to teach me and we began a wonderful nearly-weekly knitting gathering at her house.

My knitting teacher is fabulous, and not just because she’s from Wisconsin (which I didn’t realize until after we began knitting together).  She’s always got several different projects going on.  That reminds me a bit of myself with my sewing.  And she often wears her creations on Sundays, beautiful shawls and skirts and scarves.   She’s sure that someday sooner than I think I’ll be making my own dresses.   I love sweater dresses, and sweaters.  No matter how much my body size fluctuates, they fit, and they’re so soft and cozy.

But, skirts and sweaters and the thigh-high stockings I can’t wait to make are still a ways off.  So far, I’ve done two starter projects and am working on a third, all in preparation for winter – or the part of my commute that feels like winter: a scarf, a hat and gloves.  The gloves I’m just starting.

I love them.  Especially the scarf.  It’s so soft and supple, reminds me of blankey.  It’s nice and warm, and, the extra special bonus that makes it so me, it’s sparkly!

me and amy

I’ll let you know when the gloves are done.  (If I don’t poke my eye out with one of these 5 double-pointed knitting needles sticking out of the project.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years and 2000 miles later

On the 10th Anniversary, it seems obligatory to do a blog post about 9/11/01.  But my memories related to September 11th do not start that morning. 

My thoughts start two weeks before that day, when I finished reading Angles and Demons.  For those unfamiliar with the book, a very devoted Catholic stages an attack on the Church in order to revitalize the Church community and support for the church.  I remember finishing that book and thinking, “America needs something like that.”  Tired of people being ashamed of our country, of flags being uncool and patriotism being dead – and this was before I moved out to the Bay – it seemed that the last time our country had been supported by its people was World War II.  We need a cause to rally behind.  I didn’t expect us to get one, and I certainly didn’t expect it to be so dramatic.

The morning of September 11th, I was trying to sort out some credit card bills.  I called the customer service line.  The lady on the other end was all distracted.  “I’m sorry,” she said, “we just heard about the World Trade Center.”  “But that was years ok,” I thought, thinking of the parking garage bombing.  Then my roommate came rushing into the room, let out of her 8am class early.  “Did you hear?!”  “Hear what?”  She turned on the small tv atop our dressers.  Every channel, every single one, was showing the same thing, the clip of the second plane hitting.

There was lots of excitement, people running down the halls, exclaiming any news they’d gotten that others might not have yet.  Candlelight vigils on the campus’s Main Lawn.  Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” moved even those that hated country music.  American flags everywhere, not just cool again but practically required.  It was a cause to rally behind, and for most of us at my small Midwestern school, that’s all it was.

Ten years ago, I hadn’t been to New York.  I didn’t know anyone in New York.  I didn’t know anyone who would be on an international flight.  New York was like Harvard, a place that only existed on tv and in the movies.  It wasn’t until this week that I learned the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field was bound for SFO.  Even if I had known, it wouldn’t have mattered.  As a Midwesterner, I scorned those people on the coasts who flew from one side to the other, treating real Americans like they didn’t exist, “fly-over-country” nonsense.

Ten years later, I’ve been to New York.  I’ve seen the World Trade Center hole, and not because I went there to see it, but because it’s down the street from my friend’s dad’s office.  I know people there.  I know people who are frequently on international flights, including friends and family, and me.  I know some of the “coastal people,” heck, I’m even friends with them.  And while I still disdain the fly-over-country mentality, I don’t hate them.  Ten years later, the events are more real than they could have been to a sheltered twenty year-old.  And sadly, ten years later, the flags are mostly gone again.

I liked that patriotism; I’d like to see it back.  But I don’t expect it anytime soon.  It’s impossible to be both an apologetic and a patriot, and the loudest voices in our society are still demanding we be the first.

September 11th, 2001 may have given us a rallying cry on which to rebuild our patriotism.  But the events of the next 9 years destroyed it all again.  John Yoo said we’re safer and freer now than we were ten years ago.  He’s a good speaker, but I disagree.  When I feel trapped in my city because transportation out of it is either too long or too anxiety-filled due to the “heightened security measures” – not the risks, the measures – I do not feel safe or free.  I never feared the terrorists; I fear TSA.

They won. We have lost both our patriotism and our freedom.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oh, Betty!

Betty’s my Buick.  My beautiful 1993 Buick LeSabre with 130,000 miles on her.  She’s the same as my daddy’s car, just a decade older.  I got her during law school, when I finally gave up on trying to get around Nashville solely on public transit.

Betty parked by a twin car in the Nashville Walmart parking lot 2009

Betty parked by a twin Buick in Nashville

She’s been holding up pretty well the past 4 years, several trips across the country, 100 miles a day on my drive-to-work days, still getting 20 miles per gallon (not bad for an 18 year-old boat!).katrina and wendy sitting on betty

Alfred and Munchkinhead on Betty down in Arizona

I love Betty.  Her interior is spacious and comfy.  She sails down the highway like a she’s surfing on air, even at 80 mph.  She’s a tough cookie, can take a hit and not even show a scratch.Aurelia washing Betty August 2008 (2)

Giving Betty a bath in Wisconsin

Betty’s a good car, but Betty’s starting to show her age.  Paint’s chipping off the way that’s common with white GM vehicles from the 90s.  Her underbody, well, as my mechanic puts it, “the underbody looks like a car from Wisconsin.”  She is.  The engine’s leaking oil from three or four different places, all minor leaks my mechanic doesn’t think are worth the cost to fix.  The muffler has a hole in it, actually several; one’s extra large and right by the catalytic converter. Oh, and the air conditioner doesn’t work; all the coolant leaked out.  But that doesn’t bother me.  All minor issues really; she still runs great and my mechanic thinks I can another two years at least out of her.

But then there’s the door.  My front driver’s side door won’t open.  I’ve had that fixed once before.  - The parking structures around here have these poles in really strange places and I’m not so good at seeing them. – I’m not sure it’s worth the several hundred dollars to fix it again.  The window still rolls down; the door just doesn’t open.  Luckily, I’ve moved enough beds on Betty that I know another way to get in and out of the car. ;)

Betty the Buick

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Crazy Knobs

I’ve worked in hardware; I’ve worked in maintenance.  I’ve sold many, many different kinds of doorknobs; I’ve installed doorknobs; I’ve fixed doorknobs.  But, I had never seen a doorknob like this before.

Two and a half years I’ve lived in my fabulous little apartment and just the other day I accidentally discovered that I can lock the front door from the inside.  I thought it only had a deadbolt and chain for inside-locking.  From the outside,  I knew I could use a key to lock the deadbolt and the doorknob.  Two lock options inside; two lock options outside.  Seemed decent to me.

Then I was fiddling around with the knob while saying goodbye to Short Fabulous (whose goodbyes are never short) and I discovered I could lock the door from the inside!  There’s no button, no little switch, nothing on the knob itself, just a bump.  But, if you turn the knob while pushing it in, voila! locked. 

Short Fabulous was not impressed by my discovery.  Neither was Mr. Trizzle who placidly stated that he was familiar with such doorknobs when I tried to explain my astonishment with bubbling exclamations and half-sentences.  Apparently those doorknobs are quite common out here.

DSCI0425Bump on the knob





I’m excited to have learned something new, but I am also rather worried.  It is possible to lock myself out of the apartment now.

Friday, September 2, 2011

100 Trips to the Gym

How do you get the most value out of your gym membership? Go!

DSCI0411This past weekend I made my 100th trip to the gym.  As of that date, each trip to the gym cost me $2.99, and it’s only going down from there.

I purchased my two-year gym membership from Costco last Thanksgiving season, and the day after Christmas, headed to the gym with Mr. Trizzle to start on the adventurous path of the Stripped 5x5.

There’s lots of things I love about going to the gym.  It feels good; it’s fun; people don’t bother you because they’re too busy looking at themselves in the mirror (unlike on BART); and most of all, I can really see results.  I’ve dropped a size in clothing, but that’s not so exciting, it just means needing to buy new clothes.  And I can’t brag about weight loss because I’ve gained nearly 10 lbs.  But boy have I gotten stronger!

When I first began going to the gym eight months ago, I could barely bench press 30lbs and couldn’t deadlift enough to move an airline-weight-approved suitcase.  Now, I can bench press half my own weight and nearly deadlift Mr. Trizzle’s weight.   Mr. Trizzle’s doing even crazier things, nearly bench-pressing my weight, deadlifting two of me.  That’s fun to see, watching the numbers go up, watching the plates on the ends of the barbells get bigger, get more numerous.   But the really really great part is when I see the difference in everyday activities.

I can move through the BART trains without struggling with all my might to open the doors between the cars.  Sometimes, I can even open them one-handed now.  When I move heavy bankers boxes of files off of closet shelves or boxes of cds down from my storage unit, I can control the box and bring it down in one smooth movement, inside of momentarily hoisting and then sort of guiding its fall to the ground.  I can move the bookshelves, mattresses and tables in my apartment by picking them up instead of dragging them across the floor, which I bet my downstairs neighbors appreciate.  And the speed of my ball when I bowl has gone up to 16/17 mph.  That’s nice for making some fun strikes.

In fact, there’s really only one kinda downside to the gym.  Ok, two, and both are so worth the benefits.  One, I’m hungry all the time, even more than before, and not just oh-I-want-something-to-munch-on kind of hungry; I-need-protein-now kind of hungry.  That can be a bit tough sometimes, so I carry Cliff bars with me everywhere.  Two, my shoulders and arms are starting to not fit in my clothes.  I busted all the sleeve hem stitches out of a dress one week at bowling, and there’s another dress I love in which I can no longer raise my arms above my head.  But that’s easily dealt with; I love me some sweaters. Nice, stretchy sweaters.

I’m so glad Mr. Trizzle helped me get a visitors pass to his gym way back in November.  It was enough for me to get my own membership, and I love it.  The Stripped 5x5 has been a great starting workout, and I’m looking forward moving up to the next program.  And to watching my cost per gym visit continue to drop.