Sunday, November 30, 2008

almost altruistic

If you've been hanging in the Nikiverse for a while you know that i donate at the Red Cross on a semi-regular basis. They love my O-positive, fast-flowing blood. Generally i am happy to take the t-shirt or whatever they are handing out, but the giveaways don't really influence my decision to give blood. Until last week. I regularly receive mail from the Red Cross about upcoming initiatives. I dutifully open them, read them and recycle them in one motion. But a mailing about 10 days ago caught my eye because of this: It's a lapel pin of a snowman holding a baby snowman and it is the CUTEST THING EVER. It was the giveaway for a special Thanksgiving CMVneg blood drive. Most of the population at some point contracts the cytomeglavirus (CMV) which is one of the herpes-simplex viruses. You may never have any symptoms or illness from it, but it stays in your blood forever. Since most of the population already has CMV in their blood the Red Cross gladly accepts donors who test positive for it. But if you don't have the virus they can use your blood for newborns, hence the "Baby Brigade" on the pin. Guess who's CMV negative? I can't explain it, but i really wanted that pin (when am i even gonna wear it? strange how some things just hit you) so i made a 9am donor appointment for Thanksgiving morning. Here it is with my Thanksgiving pin on the sweater i wore to the various holiday festivities : It was noticed and commented upon at both of the houses i visited that day. If you do the right thing for somewhat selfish reasons it is still the right thing, right? Well, that's the story i'm going with. While i was waiting for my appointment i noticed that the December giveaway is a reusable shopping bag. I do like bags... hmmmm... i won't be able to give blood again until late January... hmmm... guess i'll have to call the platelet people in 2 weeks.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

spectrum of tradition

Thanksgiving was a divine day of non-stop yumminess; really, it verged on ridiculous how much yumminess i managed to pack into one day. The really fun part was that it was different food all day long. My first holiday invite was from the Palmateers. Jason and Kate were having over her parents and had decided to go non-traditional. In fact, they decided to have brisket and ribs instead of turkey. I'm game for most anything, so i arrived at 2pm for the beefy festivities. I love to get to places early enough to watch the cooking. Jason was in charge of the meat. He was going to get the brisket out of the fridge and i asked "what did you do to the brisket?" meaning, of course how are you preparing it? He answered "i bought it." Weisenheimer. Actually it was an accurate description as he ordered the brisket and ribs from Stubbs in Texas. They were shipped in dry ice and just needed to be heated. Kate roasted a big pan of veggies - sweet onion, squash, zucchini, asparagus, sweet potato, tomato, carrot - with some olive oil and chili spice (also from Stubbs - i think). Check out the action "chopping" shot. I just love how her mom was at the ready to assist with the chopping. And check out the colors of this dish: It was so, so, SO good! Then again, everything was good. Plus it felt special to eat at a beautifully set table. It is also the first time i've ever eaten in their dining room: Of course i believe it is only the second time they've eaten in their dining room. My logistics coordinator, Wendy, had called on Wednesday asking me to dinner. When i told her i already had plans she replied "I'm serving from 3-9; stop by any time." Who could say no to that? Besides, my day had been wonderful, but i was missing turkey so i went to Wendy's around 7:00. It was completely opposite from the Palmateers with traditional food served buffet style. The dining room was full of an impressive number of serving pans: Check out the knife used to hack off a hunk of ham! As i was eyeing the turkey carcass with resignation, Wendy appeared from the kitchen with an armful of aluminum foil: What's in the parcels? you are wondering. Two more whole turkeys - one fried and one roasted! Yippee! Plenty of turkey for Niki (and a small army). And of course there was another table with side dishes: My favorite was the macaroni and cheese. We had a discussion at work about traditional Thanksgiving food and came to the conclusion (given the cultural cross section of the the people polled) that black families (North and South) and families from the South (white and black) have macaroni and cheese (homemade, of course) at Thanksgiving. Being raised by white parents from Ohio I had never heard of such a thing before. Moni cheese is already my favorite food and once i tried it along side turkey and stuffing i am ready to make it a tradition at my house! After all, Maryland is technically below the Mason-Dixon line. I ended the night with a dessert not traditional for Thanksgiving, but traditional every other day since 2 of Wendy's 3 daughters were born on Thanksgiving! It was really fun (and filling) to share food with friends all over the spectrum of tradition and realize that no matter what the occasion all that really matters is with whom you share your time. Oh, and leftovers.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I am thankful for the life i live everyday. What else needs to be said?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving art

The last day of shows before a holiday is always fun - schools are filled with good cheer and the audiences are full of energy. Plus there is always holiday-themed art to be found. Yesterday's school was teeming with autumn/Thanksgiving offerings. In the hallway across from the stage there were all these drawings of squirrels: You might recall that i am partial to squirrels cause of their maniacal energy and the fact that it was my BFF's nickname for me so of course i wandered out to look at them. What is truly surprising to me is that the drawings were done by kids 4-7 years old. Yes, all of them are obviously childish renditions of my favorite rodent, but they are GOOD for a 6 year old, i mean check out his guy: Sure, he's taller than the human and he's surrounded by living popcorn, but he's way better than I would have done at 5. And this one done by some little girl (check out the pink accents and eyelashes) is frankly better than i can draw at 37! For those students less artistically inclined there are always the holiday coloring pages. The crop on the door to the afterschool office were a bit alarming - doesn't his pilgrim look drunk to you? If he isn't drunk then he at least would have taken the short bus to America. And that one is done in realistic colors. The picture becomes even more alarming when shaded creatively: He looks like a zombie who has eaten the brains of too many winos and has a contact buzz! Even the adults get into the holiday spirit in schools. The faculty room was filled with treats including this bitchin' turkeys: I'm a turkey made of cookies! Gobble, gooble. Not only were they cute, cool and tasty, they inspired team member AJ to want his picture taken like one was going to attack and chase him: I wish we had worked on the field depth longer and taken a series of AJ looking at various heights, but it was reeeeeeeally cold so we only took the one shot before jumping into the warm van to cross the Bay Bridge to come home. I hope you are making, finding and/or enjoying your own holiday art! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Like an acid flashback

I don't have an internet connection at home so I don't spend a lot of time cruising around the internet. Generally i read my e-mail after work, post here if i've got something to say and read the blogs i have bookmarked. If i need to kill some time or veg after hours in the van, i'll play some on-line games. That is the extent of the time i really spend in front of the computer. For that reason i am still astounded sometimes by the stuff lurking on the web, waiting to just jump out and grab unsuspecting people. I'm not even going to explain how i ended up on this YouTube video; the logic string is simply too odd to be believed. But end up i did on the following video of Cher and the Osmond Brothers singing a medley of Stevie Wonder songs dressed in matching red, white and blue outfits. Really. Did i mention that there is choreography? I didn't have to, because OF COURSE there's choreography. And a keyboard suspended from the ceiling. Really. How could i make this up? Why did this happen? (it isn't the Sonny and Cher Show; i suspect it was one of her specials) Why is there a copy of it? Why was it posted on the internet? Why can't i tear my eyes away from it? It's mesmerizing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Too many cooks

I know this will be a shocking statement coming from me, but it is possible to have too many cameras at an event. Last weekend we were trying to get a picture of Colleen, Melanie, Jason, me and Matthew by our dorm and it was a bit of a fiasco. Not only was the wind blowing my skirt right on up, but there were 3 photographers and 4 or 5 cameras. So what should have been this : turned into this : (they kept having us look at different cameras, but apparently kept snapping away with all of them even when we weren't looking at them) and my personal favorite, this : (hmmm... i'm gonna guess that Jason decided he wanted one on his camera so Matthew grabbed it since he was in the front, but why do we have a picture of this moment?!?) I am a firm believer in taking lots of pictures so that you get the one you want, but this is insane. I mean we were using digital cameras and we are all friends; you'd think we could have taken the pic with one camera and then e-mailed it to each other. But then again, if we did that, what would today's blog post be about?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grease with a side of tasty

I loves me some breakfast and i really, really love diner breakfast. At this time last week we were having brunch at Skyway Jack's in St. Pete. Dang, i love that place. It used to be located by the back entrance to the college right in view of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It has since moved, but is still just a hop, skip and a jump from campus. We went there before Matthew, Colleen and I had to be at practice for the Mozart concert; Scott and Amy drove down to meet us. A nice lady offered to take a pic of Mike, Mel, me and Colleen while we waited for our table outside It is unfortunate that the umbrella was blocking the chicken's head cause he's quite impressive, as is the giant Humpty Dumpty, pictured with me and Mel The food is yummy and plentiful, but i really love how playful Jack's is, i mean they have collections of pigs everywhere including paintings on the front window A pig eating bacon - how funny is that? The pane next to it is a pig in a police uniform eating donuts. The pond out front has pig statues for goodness sakes. If you are ever in St Pete eat breakfast at Skyway Jack's, but forget about counting calories or having free-flowing arteries.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reunion redux

Last weekend i celebrated my 15 year college reunion and the 50 year anniversary of the founding of my college. On Thursday i flew to St. Petersburg, Florida and hooked up with Matthew, Melanie, Mike and Colleen. We stayed in a condo on St. Pete Beach; i highly recommend it over a hotel cause we had a whole house and the pool to ourselves : Some of the events were held at the Tradewinds resort on the beach so we were able to do some walking in the fine Florida sun which meant that i, of course, got sunburned. We visited the beach and ate grouper at the Hurricane. There were semi-formal events like the Alumni luncheon where they handed out awards. Though perhaps not the most exciting way to spend an afternoon it gave us a chance to meet up with Jason and his mom and stepdad (Bebe is also an alum of our college as is Jason's dad who wasn't there). There were also less formal events like going to classes (we made none of those), specific group reunions (we swung by the student government one, but it was a bit lame) and opportunities to hang out on campus. We toured all of the places that had mattered to us as students, like the student offices and our dorm (though none of the people in this picture actually lived in the dorm. funny) and explored all of the new improvements that have been in the last 15 years, like the library (gorgeous!), the student union (all that campaigning paid off) and the new waterfront beach at the seawall (frickin' awesome) : I really enjoyed performing in the reunion choir on Sunday; we sang Mozart's Requiem with a chamber orchestra. (though i do not enjoy the sickly green color they have painted the interior of the chapel - yuck) It is unfortunate that practice took up so much of our time during the weekend, but it really was necessary cause that is not an easy little ditty to belt out, people. One of the best parts was the big Saturday night celebration on campus with yummy food, a good band, keepsake keychains and fireworks over the college chapel. But the very best part of the weekend was being with people i really love. On Saturday Scott and his girlfriend Amy met us on campus and then we went downtown to this great restaurant for dinner : We are born into a family and often marry in another, but your friends are the family you get to choose. I am so glad that all of these wonderful people chose me so long ago and that we are still together after almost 20 years.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Some things never change

My sophomore year of college I had 2 roommates - the one the Housing Office thought i lived with and the one i actually lived with. Mary-Ann was high strung and had an even higher strung Pomeranian, while Matthew was laid back and easy to get along with. He had an admissions double-single (2 person room with 2 keys, but only one occupant so the perspective students could stay in the dorms when they visited) so it was a bit of a no-brainer when i moved in with him. We had a quiet, pleasant life together in Scott 12. While we were at school last week we posed by our door : The guys living in the room came out and chatted with us for a while. They were friendly and seemed excited to talk to the alums that used to occupy their space. In fact, everyone we ran into in Kappa (our complex) was open and nice - some things never change. It was funny to see that on their door the boys had posted both a questionably appropriate and a possibly stolen sign : Some things never change. While we were standing around a guy came out of the hall showers, wet wearing only a towel and just excused himself right past us, completely unfazed by our presence or the cameras. Some things never change. The whole experience was fun and nostalgic as we reminisced about what our life was like back then, what we were like back then. There was a lot of laughter and a little chagrin as we recalled late night exploits, youthful experimentations and Sunday afternoon RPGs. But now as i look at these pictures I am thinking instead about some of the things we didn't talk about. Most people don't know that Matthew and I originally started cohabiting at the end of my freshman year because i had terrible insomnia and debilitating nightmares. With 2 people in those tiny dorm twin beds i physically couldn't toss and turn so i had to train my body to lay still beside his. Once i was physically still, i could eventually fall asleep. When i had nightmares he was there to soothe me back to sleep. Over time, the nightmares got further and further apart until they almost went away. Matthew gave me peace. As i struggled with finding my identity as a young woman away from home, Matthew was there. He bought me my first CD (a box set of Mozart flute concertos). He helped me let go of baggage from my past. He gave me some of the best presents. He was adventurous, but stable. We went on fun trips. His nickname for me was Babe. We were such a permanent fixture as a platonic couple that we were even sent joint Christmas cards that year. He was a lot more than my roommate - he was my best friend. When we were talking about this reunion months ago I was trying to figure out how i could possibly afford a 3-day weekend in Florida : Matthew offered to rent the condo and he used his airline points to get me a ticket. Once again, he was there to take care of me. Some things never change. With our busy adult lives we only see each other once every 2 years or so, but it really struck me how comfortable it is to be with him, like no time has passed since the lazy Sundays when we would read the Real Estate section of the paper in bed describing the perfect house to each other. Today is Matthew's 40th birthday and i love him as much now as i did 19 years ago. I hope some things never change.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I talk. A lot.

Cripes. I started to post about my college reunion in Florida and saw that this is my 400th post. Considering I have had this blog less than 2 years that seems like a lot to me. Jeez... what have I been talking about for 400 posts? You'd think in that much time i'd have solved world hunger or invented cold fusion or something. Nope. Just insane, inane stuff from my life, like the fact that you can tell you are in Florida when you see that landscapers use shells in place of gravel :

Friday, November 14, 2008

Away for the weekend

This is what I am looking at right now so needless to say I'll be away from the blog this weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mommy Update

This time last week my mom was in the hospital and I was ready to take up arms against the pharmaceutical industry. I am calmer and mom is at home. It is now nearly 100% certain that it was only the generic meds that screwed her up because she is doing great. Funny how taking meds that actually contains your prescribed medication makes everything all better. I talked to her last night and she seems back to herself after a few days of laying low to get over the tired. Thank you SO MUCH for all of your comments, calls, e-mails and concern. And here is one of my favorite pics, from Mother's Day 2 years ago

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

i really do love them

Each team has its own character and its own attitude, which is funny to me cause i train everybody the same, but they turn out different every time. The mixture of strong personalities together (cause i only hire characters) leads in a myriad of of directions, good and bad. This current team is exacting and precise, they are rule-followers without being clueless or unmotivated. Case in point : i think that it is important that we all know where each other can be found, especially right now while we finish writing and installing this theater show. Past teams have done a good job at communicating via the dry erase board in our office, but this team takes it seriously. Last week i was on the phone when one of them went home so next to his name he wrote "home - have a good night, Niki. don't stay too long" which made me grin. I glanced over at the White Board a few minutes ago and found this "Niki - at the big desk" and "Wendy - who knows?" just cracks me up.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Crazy Cool

So team member AJ has today and tomorrow off. Why? To get married. Yep - married on a Monday. He and his love, Danamarie, have opted to go the courthouse route for now, with a celebration party at some TBD date. The reason i mention this is that they have put together a cyber-wedding so that everyone can join the fun. I've never even imagined such a different and fun thing : they've been posting about their relationship and why they're getting married, there's a playlist of the songs that would play at their reception, there's been he said / she said posts about the major milestones. Anne once described me as "an avid traditionalist with a twist" and the approach that AJ and Danamarie have taken really appeals to me. It has not only been fun to get to know more about one of my team members, it has been really nice to read about tangible happiness. Sometimes the world seems overwhelming in its badness (Jonah posted today about monks having a fist fight inside a church, for goodness sakes) and it is really, really refreshing to experience some goodness for a change. If you wanna experience a cyber-reception, hear some cool music, or just bask in the light of joyous, unfettered love go to This Day and Age, but save me some chocolate chip cookies people!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

they're he-re

Perhaps you recall that during my Month of Birthday Festivities Kate P had me choose a yarn for my very own hand knitted birthday socks. I picked them up on Halloween: I am at a loss for words at the awesomeness. Look at how the bubble wrap pattern is so bubbley at the top and how the Yarn Pirate I Want Candy yarn colors are so vibrant and how the heel is so stripey. Look at how well they fit! That stripey heel just slays me with its cuteness. And they are waaarm, which is a plus when your whole first floor apartment is hardwood floors. As i was taking these pictures i also realized that the bubble wrap pattern really lends itself to slouching: I miss you 1987! These socks are the best. Well done, Kate!