Saturday, May 30, 2009

denuding the van

When we got a new van for work we had to get rid of one of the old ones. The decision was made to sell it cheap, cheap, cheap and team member Amy snapped it up to haul band equipment. The only catch was that she had to get the graphics off of it so that it could no longer be identified with my program in case she cut people off in traffic or staged a vicious drive-by. I was ecstatic to rip away at the full-body plastic wrap. It wasn't that i don't like the graphics; to the contrary, i wish we had the money to wrap our new van. No, the problem is that we've kept the vans waaaaaay past the lifetime of the graphics and over time they've become shabby in places. The piece i am pulling in the above picture has been starting to peel for almost a year, frankly driving me nuts every single day. It felt oh so good to yank it off and throw it away. Amy found that using a heat gun very carefully helped expedite the process. But still it was some slow, slow going. One thing i am NOT going to miss about the van wrap is having the side windows covered with graphics. You can't check your blind spot (don't worry, we use convex mirrors for safety; we aren't a driving hazard to you) and if you are sitting in the backseat you can't see a thing except dots. Bye-bye dreaded dots!

Just Duck In

- What do you want for lunch. I don't know; what do you want for lunch?

- Are you sure this is where we left the nest?

- I can't trip the automatic door. Can you reach the handle?

- I told you we should have taken that second left.

- When did this get here?

- Pardon me sir, can you spare a bill?

Friday, May 29, 2009

speaking of my birthday

I think we all know by now that i enjoy celebrating my birthday for an entire month. As May is coming to a close i thought i would share a few of my favorite surprises from this holiday season. The best, best present is always spending time with my BFF, but she brought me physical presents this year as well. Now we are not supposed to buy gifts for each other as we are supposed to put gift money towards a yearly crop instead. There were stern words about bringing me presents, but you know i accepted them anyway. She made me a chipboard album with pictures from out entire lives together. Next time you are at my house ask to see the 70s-tastic picture from Thanksgiving one year; the clothes are so horrific i feel like our mothers should have to answer for crimes against humanity! Last weekend Kate P graduated from her Master's program in Library Science (way to go Kate!) so we had a wee get together to celebrate. Imagine my surprise when i gave her a graduation card and she in turn handed me a birthday present. Yes, she gave me a present at her own party - i really am spoiled. As i opened the giftbag Kate turned to her family and said "Cover your ears," in anticipation of my gleeful squealing. Jason and Kate got me my own Wii-mote and nunchak so that i can take my Mii with me from console to console. I am pictured here next to Colleen trying to find a way into the Niki-proof packaging. This gift certainly explains the odd comments from "Niki's Birthday Present" left on earlier posts. Finally, there is inevitably always one present that is hilarious in its pinkness. This year the distinction of Pink for No Reason and I Love It goes to the Reebok weight lifting gloves my trainer Jaime bought me that are grey with pink trim. They make me smile every time i put them on. Thanks to everyone who shared in this year's festivities.

williamsburg 2

For my birthday Rickki and I went to a weekend crop in Virginia. It was run by the same person as last year's birthday crop, but in a different location. It was wonderful to be with my BFF and have some quality time with no outside distractions. Like last year Rickki made us matching shirts for the occasion : This year we met some great people, like our tablemates Cathy and Jean, talked into the wee hours of the morning, caught up on each other's lives, and even got some scrapbooking done! I love spending time with that girl.


If you have been following my BFF's adventures in homesteading you know that she is raising chickens. When Rea visited she brought me some of her eggs. Wow. I had no idea that chicken eggs naturally came in colors besides white and brown; generally Paas has to be involved to get these hues. Rickki told me that the color of a bird's shell has to do with the species of bird as well as the individual's genetics. The brown egg came from one of her original chickens, a buff Orpington (of the Ohio Orpingtons). The light green and teal eggs all came from Ameracaunas, which are various cross-breeds of Aracaunas (basically they are the mutts of the chicken world). The pink egg also came from an Ameracauna though now that i am reading the description I think that bird might be an Easter Egg chicken (great name!)- i'll ask Rea. Yes, i ate them and yes, they made some of the best egg salad i've ever had.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Does it seem to you that the Nikiverse has been lacking in sparkle lately? Have you noticed that the posts are coming further and further apart? Do you realize that i haven't changed my quote in a month? Many of you may not have noticed a change (cause goodness knows you don't wake up in the morning and sprint to the computer to see if there are any glitter ponies waiting for you), but to me the difference is glaring. I have had some questions and e-mails inquiring after me so i figured enough people had noticed that i needed to address it. Plus anyone who sees me in real life knows that something is amiss. Remember back in the fall when i was ranting about how tired i was? How i had to sleep almost 6 hours every night to be able to function? How nothing was getting done? The same feeling continued through the winter (i figured it was seasonal affective disorder; i do loves me some vitamin D). By Spring it was getting worse : i let 2 Etsy updates slide by, no one got cards in April (sorry to all of you April babies, BTW), i stopped going to the Red Cross, yoga was forgotten and i only went to the gym to see my trainer. At my annual physical Dr Cool (that is her real name) found 2 anomalies : i was a touch anemic and my thyroid levels were way off. From the labs it looked like my thyroid was shutting down (lazy, layabout gland) while my pituitary (hard-working captain of Team Niki) was frantically trying to whip it back in shape. There is no way to fix your thyroid; if it goes bad you have to start taking a synthetic version of its hormone. I was unamused. Since this was the first time in my life that any of my test results have been bad Dr Cool and i decided to wait a bit and test again. The symptoms slowly got worse until this week i felt so crappy that i went to have a more comprehensive battery of tests a month ahead of schedule. Somehow in the last 2 months my thyroid has managed to fix itself. Every test that was bad before came back fine this time and all of the new tests were normal as well. YEAH! Wait. That means we still don't know what's causing all of my exhaustion and lack of motivation. Crap. But at least it isn't major gland failure. Yeah! Anyhoo, i have another appointment with Dr Cool on June 3rd and we will get to the bottom of this. I just wanted all of you who were concerned to know that I am okay. I'm still a bit off (no comment on that, Frack), but fighting to find the sparkle ponies. Don't worry. This is annoying, but i'm sure not life-threatening. I have 5 or 6 posts from the last 2 weeks (plus a few from the winter) lurking about, waiting for me to finish them. I'll try to get them done over the next few days in between naps.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cause every little bit helps

Many of you already know that Mel and Mike welcomed Matthew and James into their family last week. The twins were at 27 weeks when delivered and are living at the hospital as they grow bigger and stronger. Of course there are good days and tough days. There is now a blog to follow their journey and i share it with you cause every person who leaves a comment of encouragement, thinks happy thoughts, says a prayer, or lights a candle for these wee boys and their parents (whom i love a ridiculous amount) is another link in the chain to get the Barrs home healthy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Scientist Brainstorming

I normally don't post directly about my job, but i need your help, oh denizens of the Nikiverse. I am working on a project at work about scientist puppets. I need to brainstorm a bunch of scientists - historic or modern - who were interesting characters, did amazing things and would translate into puppet form. The more ideas I have the better the project will become. Sometimes it is hard to answer questions that you are so close to, so i'd love some input from people not in the industry. Help?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quite a birthday week

Phew... i'm back and frankly exhausted. During my birthday week i only worked 3 days; the rest of the time was spent celebrating. I went to 4 celebration dinners - thanks to Ron, Rickki and Stacey. I went to the movies - Wolverine was a disappointment, but i saw Star Trek 3 times cause i loved it. And the big, big present was that Rickki flew in on Thursday and we went away to a scrapbooking retreat for the weekend (pictures to follow). It was a blast, but sleep was not a high priority. I'm off to the gym and then a massage. Tomorrow it is back to reality. Hope you all had a good week, especially those of you who unexpectedly became parents while i was gone!

Monday, May 11, 2009

They're here!!!

After my surprise cupcakes on Thursday i came home to a large, highly anticipated package. I was concerned about this but the gallery people are no strangers to bubblewrap of all sizes so the crunched corner was no big. I pulled out layer after layer of bubble to uncover these First opened was the flat one, my signed, hand-numbered Duaiv litho "Red Cafe" (all of these pics were taken without flash and are a bit shaky cause i was pretty excited; sorry about the crappy quality) Next was the smaller piece, a serigraph of Patricia Govensky's "Summer Breeze" I love the roundness of her lines contrasted with the angles of the city and the crazy, bright colors. It reminds me of Matisse. I think she is going in the living room. Finally, i opened my Peter Max "Angel with Heart" I love her. The color is amazing. I love that you can see little paint splatters and the masking lines. These pictures do the art no justice at all. You will have to come over to see them. Thanks for the early birthday present, Douglas.

Let the Festivities Begin!

Though today is my birthday the team surprised me with birthday fun on Thursday (it was the only day we were all in the same place at the same time). I came back from my show to find my desk bedecked with pink and sharks and llamas cause nothing says "Happy Birthday" quite like a buck-toothed llama. Unless it is chocolate strawberry cupcakes, baked by team member Miriam Look at that lusciousness the thick, sweet icing had strawberry bitlits in it and was possibly the greatest icing i have ever eaten. I'd share the recipe, but she made it up as she went. It was so, so, so, so good. Thanks to everyone who made the birthday kick-off so fun and such a surprise. Go have an extra special sparkle-pony day, people - it's my birthday!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May Flowers

April showers bring May flowers and in Maryland that means azaleas. These colorful bushes are everywhere in my neighborhood covering the landscape with red, white, pink and purple. I love azaleas. I love how they are covered with blossoms. I love that they come in so many colors. I love that they appear in different shapes and sizes. Most commonly you see them as a mid-sized bush though they can be small (foreground, red) or huge (background, white) Often they are trimmed round or line walkways. It is not uncommon to find multiple bushes have grown together, making a blanket of flowers or a front hedge. Sometimes the hedge in trimmed square even when there are different color bushes growing together. Across from my house there is an unusual shade of coral I get to passes sights like this on my way home every day. Dontcha love spring?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Several of my co-workers keep treats on their desk to share with the office. Yesterday i knew that there were some jelly fruit slices up for grabs. As i approached the container i could see that there was only red one left -my favorite- but when i went for the lid i saw this : YIKES! that plant is totally going for the red one. Sensibly i just backed away. When a plant develops a taste for candy, can a taste for human flesh be far behind?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wrong Idea

I have always been interested in theology. I am quite certain about my own beliefs, but am fascinated by other ways of thinking. I studied religion in school. I've had friends of all different faiths over the years and have enjoyed learning from them. I try to have an open mind and be respectful. But sometimes you encounter something that is just flat out wrong. In the pouring rain a little silver BMW zipped past me and i noticed that it didn't have Maryland tags. I looked closer and realized the tags said GOD'S BMW Wow. God's BMW? Which God would that be, sir? Cause my God came to Earth last time in relative poverty. I can't think of any god that exalts conspicuous wealth; I feel pretty certain that no god of any modern religion would drive around in a silver BMW convertible if s/he/it decided to visit this plane. Really. There is a Chinese God of Wealth (Tsai Chen...something... sorry, that class was a LONG time ago) but he's more about all around prosperity and is normally depicted riding a tiger (and don't try to convince me that that tiny silver car is a modern tiger, sir). And if you mean Pluto (cause he was the god of wealth) or Diana (cause she had a silver chariot) that would be god spelled with a little "g" sir. The bumper sticker on the car said "Call me crazy but i'm hearing God." Hmmmmmm... did this voice tell you that it wanted a BMW? Cause that isn't God, sir; that's you. You wanted a BMW convertible, not God. If that voice tells you that you'd look younger dating a 20-something model/actress, that's not God either, sir. When i told the story to team member Amy she said, "Wait. Does that mean he thinks he IS God, since it is his car?" Yikes; i hadn't even thought of that. Whatever the case, i think this guy has really, really gotten the wrong idea somewhere.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Ever since i went to Pocahontas, AK in the middle of the night during a biblical plague to be able to claim Arkansas on Niki's Map of the US, I have had an odd affection for towns named Pocahontas. I can't explain it. Last week while team member AJ and i were overnight in Western Maryland for several days i heard there was a Pocahontas, PA (HOW did i even hear that? I have no memory of exactly how i discovered this tidbit; it's like it appeared in my brain) and i felt compelled to find it. Luckily AJ was game, so off we went on the greatest roads in America (PennDoT - you suck). We knew things were getting weird when we found Paul's Deer Cutting. Don't think about it. But then, behold sigh I can't begin to figure out why this made me happy, but it did. As we were driving through the picturesque Pennsylvania countryside nestled among the mountains we were completely shocked to turn one corner and see windmills? Yep. An entire ridge of modern windmills in the distance. We drove and drove up, down and around various hills and mountians, but we couldn't quite get to them before we had to turn back to get to our next show. They looks so anachronistic behind the farms and the Amish school where the kids were out playing at recess. Someday i am going to find the base of those windmills; there might be a visitor center!