Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve

I am back in Maryland and lying low.
There is a ton of work to be done over the next few days.
I have lots of pictures and things to share from my trip.
I'll be back in the Nikiverse, raring to go in a few days.
Till then, enjoy the last few hours of 2009, have a few cocktails, kiss someone at midnight and work on those resolutions!

Friday, December 25, 2009

God Bless Us, Every One!

I've felt Scroogey the last day or two, displeased with some drama -not of my making- that was tainting my holiday. But this morning i am renewed in faith and joy (not to mention cinnamon rolls). Have a great day. Be kind to everyone, including yourself. Happy Birthday, Jesus! Love to you all. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday travel

Joyous Solstice. Days are gonna get longer from here on out. I am off to Florida to Christmas with my parents. Perhaps there will be blog posts; perhaps there will only be reading books on the porch.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Perhaps you heard it snowed

 We all knew that we'd get some serious snow this year.
The past two winters were so mild as to almost be laughable,
so we were due.

In Baltimore the snow started Friday evening.
When i woke up Saturday morning it already looked like this.

 I love having a sunroom;
you can be outside without really being outside.

I went out for the first time Saturday around 8:30 am to survey the scene.
  6 inches over night

After digging out and clearing off my car i went back inside to settle in for a long day of reading and watching DVDs on the couch, with the Christmas tree lights on and the shades up so that i could watch the snow blanketing my house.
After a brief nap -lounging about really takes it out of ya- i went outside around 3:30pm.
12.5 inches in the front yard
I dug out and cleaned off my car yet again even though the snow was still steadily coming down; i figured i would rather do it several times than tackle the forecasted 2 feet all at once on Sunday.
 Before going inside i jumped backwards into the snow to make a snow angel

basically surrounding myself in snow.
It was beautiful and crisp, but mayhaps i should consider buying some snowpants before rolling around in it again.
It snowed for about 24 hours straight; never really heavy, but constant.
 Final reports differ around the city, but in my yard the snowfall ranged between 14 and 17 inches.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

never surrender

Okay, i suppose i don't mean never surrender, but "don't give up until you have exhausted all of your options" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, now does it?
Did i mention how much i loved my toaster which recently went kerplooey in the middle of cooking my breakfast?
It didn't look easy to get into, but i figured that if it was already broken, what would it matter if i broke it more trying to get inside? So as i settled in to watch Season One of Bones i set up the coffee table as a work space to disassemble my toaster.
I find it easier to undertake such a task with a wee snack, hence the sliced Gala apple with warm chocolate-peanut butter dip. [1 handful of chocolate chips, 2 handfuls of peanut butter chips, microwave about 2 minutes, stirring every 45 seconds - YUM]
There were 2 small slide panels with screws that obviously held the plastic cover to the toaster innards.
Once they were removed, the cover wouldn't budge. Then i noticed a a wire cover. Now we're getting somewhere.
The cover would wiggle at the bottom, but wouldn't unclip from the right side.
hmmmmmm... Of course!
 That's were the darkness control knob was so i jimmied it off.
Now i could lift the cover almost all the way off and could see where i believed the broken part to be, but the toaster plunger-popper (you know: the lever you push down to get the bread to go down and start cooking; the one that pops up when your english muffin's nooks and crannies are golden brown - i don't know what it's really called, but you're with me, right?) wouldn't allow me to gain complete access inside.
Hmmmmmm... it wasn't as easy as the knob, but i got it off.
have you ever seen the inside of your toaster?
  So cool, but kind of crumby.
I was hoping that maybe there were crumbs interfering with some connection that i could just clean.
But alas, it looks like the clasp that catches the internal lever of the plunger-popper
(to the left of the blue cover above my finger) is not properly clasping.
It would couple correctly if i held the lever down, but released instantly.
Wait a second. This toaster has a feature where it you can't push down the toast if it isn't plugged in.
Hmmmmm... That means i need to test it with full electricity without the cover on.
Hmmmm... does that seem like a good idea?
Does that seem safe?
Would anyone find my body since i live alone? At least i don't have a cat that would start to eat my corpse to stave off starvation...
Okay, then.
I took it back into the kitchen, plugged it in and used a long wooden spoon to depress the metal lever and yikes! I was apparently a bit more nervous than i realized cause the spoon slipped when it hit bottom and there was an impressive blue-green spark from the back of the toaster.
CRAP Time for a little internal pep talk.
Knowledge is the difference between respect and fear, Niki. If you are gonna undertake anything experimental that is even remotely dangerous there are 3 rules:
1. Have an adult safety partner.
2. Be confident in your safety parameters.
3. DON'T FLINCH, you wuss.
Okay, now; let's check the situation against the rules: 1. I don't have an adult partner, but there is really nothing i can do about that now. The front door is unlocked so at least if i scream my neighbors can get in. 2. Yes, wall current can kill me. But all of the electrical components inside the toaster appear to be intact which means there shouldn't be any electricity in the lever. Plus, even if there is a short or an open arcing to it, the wood will insulate me. 3. Okay, i'm confident and need to try it again without being so tentative. Gotta commit. Okay.
I tried it 2 more times, but the latch was definitely faulty. Unfortunately it was made out of plastic so there was no way to repair it. Finding someone to fix it would certainly cost as much, if not more, than a new toaster. le sigh... I am resigned to parting with this toaster.
I found a new one that only costs $7. No matter what i get it will be a disappointment compared to my awesome old toaster so i may as well go with something cheap and crappy. Then when i replace that one -after getting my $7 worth out of it- the next toaster will HAVE to be better then it and i won't be so unhappy. Holy crap, i just bought a rebound toaster, didn't I?

Friday, December 18, 2009

he pities the fool

Earlier this week i went into TM Any's living room for the first time Is that...? Could it be?... Yep. That is indeed a larger than life painting of Mr. T. Amy says that because he has so much pity for all of us fools that he is a great listener. You can settle into the futon and tell T anything. Wow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Speaking of Christmas

I don't feel like it is really the holiday season until Swiss Colony shows up Oh, processed meat logs, bricks of cheese and mini ham - how i love you. Not to mention those little strawberry cordial candies. When i was little i was enchanted by the Swiss Colony catalog; they had great photography of the towers of treats. Now that i am ostensibly a grown-up i count on getting something every year. (normally from my brother - love him) I don't know it makes me so happy, but it does.

Celebrating in a museum

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like a giganotasaurus in a santa hat. At our recent holiday luncheon i was eating some delicious potluck goodness when i realized that not only was the current team sitting together (minus LC Wendy who was home sick), but there were 3 former team members there as well. [L- Lindsey, Mike, Elise, Amy; R- Felicia, Niki, Megan, Sam, Erin, Karen] Once TSP, Always TSP!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

so my toaster broke

I realize that in the great scheme of the world my toaster breaking is not a big deal. I know that. But, dang, i loved that toaster. It was a wide-slot Oster. you could toast anything in it. Bagels fit, homemade bread fit, giant slices of king bread fit. Everything fit in that great toaster. And it toasted to the perfect level of brownness. It was even easy to clean. I mourn the passing of my toaster; especially since it broke halfway through cooking my breakfast. Plus, you know, this has been a tough week already. Not the worst week ever, mind you. It just feel like there's some questionable juju in the air. So when my toaster broke i knew that i had to take action. I did what any rational, reasonable person would do: i cut my hair. That is a big, old pile of hair - wow. holy crap; it is short I blew it dry to see the effect, but i didn't have any of the correct hair products for the new style (as you can see from the runaway frizziness) so i decided to pull it back to wear to work. This could take some getting used to.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sanity check update

Remember how well the first hour of work went yesterday? Today in the first hour of work we got the word that we had to turn in our corporate credit cards, i had to retire one of my vans to save the insurance premium and my logistics coordinator position is being transferred to another department. It makes a girl almost afraid to come to work tomorrow.

Oh Tannenbaum, part 2

I haven't had a Christmas tree at my house for about 8 years. Visiting my parents for Christmas means there wasn't a practical need for a tree and since i downsized to the apartment there really isn't any room. Most years it doesn't really bother me because i work right up to the time I get on the plane and don't have a chance to think about it. But this year, this year it really bothered me. Every year i will get one or two decorations out, but i haven't really dressed my home for the season since i moved into the apartment. Space is an issue, time is an issue, but the big issue is that i couldn't bear to look through the boxes. Up in the very top of my closet are the boxes of Christmas decorations that i salvaged during the move. Most of them haven't been opened in 3.5 years. when the family went their separate ways one of the hardest afternoons in packing was doing the Christmas storage area. We had 50 years of accumulated memories to sort through, claim, pack away and dispose of; I honestly can't remember what i kept and what got tossed. Chunks of my childhood were wholesale taken to the dump and i just haven't been able to open the boxes to see what is -or isn't- inside of them. This year as i was contemplating what to do about missing having a tree I got a call to go tree trimming with some friends. While i was there i was gifted a tabletop tree already strung with white mini lights. SQUEAL! I get to have a tree this year. Yes, it is a wee tree and yes, it is an oddly long shape, but it is mine. After cleaning off the stereo cabinet in front of the living room window and running electricity it was time to decorate. I stood in front of my closet staring at the boxes for a long time. A long time. But in the end i couldn't do it. I considered leaving it with just the lights on it. That would be a first step, a baby step, a step in the right direction. Then it occurred to me that i had some chandelier crystals that would look nice and sparkly with the lights. As i dug them out from various spots in the studio (breaking one in the process - sadness) i came across some jewelry strands of beads, crystals, pearls and gold chain. Onto the tree they went as garland. A red crystal pin inherited from my maternal grandma was added as the topper. Given the white and gold motif, i swaddled the tree stand and cabinet-top in gold lame and added pieces from the white ceramic nativity my paternal grandma painted for me It is completely non-traditional and a bit haphazard for me, but i am pleased with the result; especially at night when the tree is the only light i keep on the living room. Thanks to Nancy for the tree. It makes my heart happy, even in its wonkiness. At this rate i might actually open those storage boxes in a year. Or two. Maybe.

Oh Tannenbaum, part 1

Sunday i went over to fTM Karen's house to help trim their tree. Her boyfriend Cricket (who works in the Exhibits Dept of our museum) had spent the morning attaching new pine cone shaped LED lights. I like 'em! There were about 900 ornaments that needed unboxed, unwrapped and hung. Okay, maybe it was only 300, but it was definitely a lot of ornaments. I love Christmas tree ornaments; each one tells some story and it is fun to hear other people's stories. Karen, Cricket's mom Nancy and I put on the ornaments and then covered every available spot with glass icicles. After which Cricket added the Highland Angel. Here is the final decorated tree with and without flash. Ready for presents.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sanity check

I've been at work for an hour. I've already had a meeting with the COO about revenue, a phone call with the CEO about bookings and since my shower i've had Christmas carols sung by chickens stuck in my head. Is this a portent of an impending mental break?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Elf Night, year 4

Once again a merry band of elves bundled themselves over to the Salvation Army to help sort and distribute gifts for families in need. I super-d-duper love to do this each year. This year we were bit early in the process so we finished all of the carts you see above in only 2 hours. WHAT?!? I came prepared to stay until like 10pm, but we were out the door at 7:30. I didn't even get a chance to take pictures. It was fun, but i think i might need to go back on a Saturday morning to feel like i've really contributed this year. to read about earlier elf nights, here is year two and year three

What i learned today

In the School of Life today i learned how to correctly dress a bride and lace her into a corset back dress. I would have thought you laced from the bottom loops up to the top ones, ending in a bow because that is how you do it on yourself, but that is not the case; you lace from the top down and then tuck the ribbon ends into the dress. Also, be sure to lace the wide ribbon into the back on the top loop, but then up from the back on all of the other loops. Who knew you needed lessons on these things? But now i know. Which means now you know, too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Merry Tuba Christmas

When i walked into the back lobby of work on Saturday i was greeted by a floor full of Sousaphones. Really. The museum was the registration and practice location for Baltimore's Tuba Christmas. There were individual players ranging from 9 years old to 70 years old as well as the low brass sections of the marching bands from the Ravens, Towson University, and the University of Maryland. After practicing several pieces that they were going to play down in the Harbor, all 300 musicians went upstairs to our second floor terrace to play a song into the lobby. Sousaphones, tubas, and euphoniums were packed along the terrace, the mezzanine, and into the second floor exhibits. After playing a song for our visitors they filed out of the museum and walked down the promenade in the snow to Harborplace to play a concert. It was truly an impressive sight and sound. There are more events and locations coming up all over the country. Check the website link above for a Tuba Christmas near you.