Friday, October 29, 2010


I believe i mentioned that the Hawaii Convention Center had a rooftop garden.
I needed to stop at the ladies' room on the third floor one day of the conference and this was the view next it: I was intrigued: there's a lily pond, sculpture, groves of trees and i am looking out at the city even though i am about to walk into the bathroom. It was cool, but i had get to my session on "hands-on science experiments with things you could filch from the supply cabinet" [it had a better name, but that was the gist; i learned a cool mobius strip math trick] so exploration had to wait until there was a break in the conference schedule.
When i finally had a chance to spend some time in the heavenly garden, i wasn't disappointed.

There is a large patio area surrounded by native plants and water features. Flanking the entrance i saw this unusual tree.
I have no idea what it is, but it had both yellow flowers and small orange fruits that looked like tiny suspended pumpkins.
There were low ponds running along the border of the garden on the convention center side.
Big leafed taro bordered more delicate lilies
while tiny fish flitted about the roots.
The entire street side of the terrace is planted with larger plants and trees and has a lovely path meandering its length.
Various palms, breadfruit trees, Hawaiian cotton, ferns and a jillion plants i couldn't identify surrounded me as i slowly walked through. There was a profusion of this broad leafed plant with cool, pointy flowers that reminded me of Birds of Paradise, except that they were yellow and orange instead of purple and orange and the blooms were in sets instead of single blossoms. Though i have no idea what they are, i liked them enough to make them the back drop to my walking through the forest even though i am on the third floor of a building downtown picture.
(like the blingy shades? i had to buy them in Waikiki cause i left mine at home; also, you can see part of the braided bracelet i made at Bishop)
The landscape designers planted bamboo along sections of the wall so that there are places along the path that are so thick with foliage that you can't see the city.
In fact, in some places the trees tunnel over you and you can't even see the sky. I felt like i really was far away from civilization. I enjoyed the break in my day and the chance to be in nature, especially since the garden is designed so that you can be looking at this view
  and turn in place to this.

Thrifting Fun for Mischief Night

Tomorrow -October 30th- Lemon Meringue Thrift and Gift is hosting an all-day sale and celebration. Located right in downtown Arbutus, on East Ave, the ladies who own and run this quirky store are staying open until midnight and promise fun and prizes, as well as good deals, for all. Join Cassie, Michelle and Samantha for a thrifting good time!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

conference before vacation

The opportunity to go to Hawaii arose because the national conference for work was in Honolulu. We'd been told by the administration that we could only go if there was a grant to pay for it and since my only grant is from the state and certainly doesn't include a conference, i figured i wouldn't be going. However, fTM Felicia had budgeted for 2 people to go to the conference under her grant about Communicating Climate Change (C3) and wasn't sure that she would be able to make it so i went in her stead. I got to Hawaii on a Thursday evening, had my first taste of Honolulu traffic (yick) and checked into the Ala Moana Hotel. Generally, at a conference you get to stay in a much nicer hotel than I can normally afford and this one was no exception. Here is my post after checking in and finding that i had an ocean facing balcony. sigh Bright and early the next morning i set off for the Hawaii Convention Center for an all day pre-conference workshop about outreach, and was welcomed by this very large bronze gentleman who is supposed to symbolize the generosity of the native people. I love that the atrium was so huge with its vaulted glass ceilings, that palm trees were growing inside and that there were giant ceiling fans to keep the air circulating. The atrium and the meeting rooms were fully enclosed, but there was a general sense of openness to the convention center since most of the walkways and corridors were open air. There were lovely courtyards of mosaics and flowers and even a rooftop garden, which will get its own post. I spent the whole day with my compatriots from around the globe, talking about how to do our jobs better and empathizing with each other's tales of woe. [though honestly, we tend to laugh at each other's tales of woe and our own; in fact, we played a (non-alcoholic) game of I Never trying to see who had the most ridiculous story from the road] I did a presentation on staff training and got to hang out with my beloved fTM Frack, who was hosting the workshop: That night, there were buses taking attendees into Chinatown to various bars and restaurants for a bit of pre-conference networking. We chose to go to Murphy's Bar and Grill because who doesn't want to go to an Irish place in Chinatown in Hawaii? Though it has been Murphy's for almost 25 years, this building has been a holder of one of the 5 original "retail Spirits" licenses issued on Oahu since the 1860's. Turns out that they had been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for their Shepard's Pie. Several people tried it with much satisfaction, but i went for a Blarney Burger which has a white cheddar and Guinness cheese on it. Geeks from around the globe! the lovely lady next to Frack is the woman crazy enough to marry him The conference officially opens on Saturday morning with a breakfast and speakers. Every location does something different to kick off the festivities and i was close enough to the back of the room to see people lining up for a processional. This woman at the front of the line started an invocation chant that was answered by this guy who was standing on the stage. They sang back and forth to each other, the board members walked to the front with a garland offering and then there was dancing: Sorry the pictures are so dark, but i wanted to share them because it was only after the welcoming comments got underway that we found out that all of the singers and dancers were actually employees of the museum, not hired entertainers. All day Saturday was workshops and talks and work related things that you don't care about, but then Saturday night was the luau party at Bishop. Each year the sponsoring museum throws a party in the museum on Saturday night, themed to highlight their city, state or region. The food was pretty good, though i don't think you will ever be able to convince me about poi, and i enjoyed the entertainment. They had set up a stage on the vast lawn between the buildings of the Bishop (the museum will get its own post) so these pictures are back lit at night making it tough to see what's going on so here's 20 seconds of it so that you can hear what it was like: Though we did explore the museum a little i want a snail this big to ride in my backyard most of the evening was spent eating and drinking and learning native skills like weaving leaves into bracelets. You can see how hard i am concentrating here next to Mrs. Frack. I love, love the arm cuff i made. Sunday morning started much too early, with me having to hop a taxi to the other end of Waikiki to get to the other conference hotel for a 7am breakfast meeting with the other C3 representatives. Yes, this is inside the hotel. The lobby is sheltered, but open. Cool. The meeting was very interesting and ended up running so late that i missed the first morning session at the conference center. I did, however, go to a really, really good session on using narrative structure in museums. It was well presented and had great handouts since one of the presenters represented a design firm. Now i want an air cannon that shoots chicken feathers. A great deal of my day was spent manning the Baltimore Visitor's booth (why are there no pictures of it if you were there for 3 hours? you say; i don't know) as my museum is sponsoring next year's conference. One of the most valuable things for me and my job at the annual conference is an all-day Monday session called Outreach Live, where we go to a school and watch several different museums perform with actual students. It is a chance to see different ways of doing my job. The folks at Bishop chose a school way, way, way over on the leeward side of the island called Kamaile Academy where 60% of the students are homeless. Housing costs are so high in Hawaii that a family can have both parents working and a car and still be homeless. We saw tent colonies along the beach where, by law, if you have a tent and a fishing pole in the water you are considered to be camping on the beach instead of living on the beach. (obviously to be respectful there are no pictures, but it was interesting to see) The school was situated right at the base of a mountain and had kindergarten through middle school students. After a lovely Oli welcome ceremony where the kids presented all of us with handmade paper leis, we broke of into groups for observations. The final performance was top be a multi-media assembly by the bishop team with all of the kids in the cafeteria before a pizza lunch. Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties resulting in everyone sitting and waiting. Sitting and waiting with a roomful of kids is never a good idea so the Hawaiian culture teacher suggested that the students should show of some of their hula skills to the guests. Singing and playing a ukulele the Auntie (their customary title of respect) called on different groups to perform. Most mainland people think of hula as being a danced exclusively by girls, but traditionally both sexes dance, taking on different roles to tell different stories. Here the guys show us about warriors, and then a line of girls shows us a story about the ocean. The best audience response came from the song about a couple in love when she had to sit on his lap. Apparently the concept of cooties is universal. Tuesday i went to one session on colossal failures in museums and what we learn from them. It was really good, though, as with all good sessions, we ran out of time. Then it was the closing reception and lunch. I bid farewell to my CEO as i left lunch and officially began the vacation portion of this show. I'd like to say that i did something fabulous and adventurous immediately, but honestly i spent the afternoon at the pool checking my work e-mail for the last time, swimming, reading and enjoying the adjoining steam room and sauna.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

we don't need roads...

This weekend was the 25th anniversary of the release of Back to the Future. In celebration, there were 2 showings of the movie at AMC theaters all over the country. BttF is my friend Ron's favorite movie, so of course we had to attend one. There was trivia before hand for a copy of the BlueRay (released today) and commemorative posters. Here's Ron decked out in his favorite Back to the Future shirt (you can't see his keychain or the background on his phone and you can't hear that his ringtone was Doc Brown saying Damn. Where is that kid?) obviously humoring me with a picture before the show. It was really fun to watch a movie from my childhood on the big screen and it was especially great to see it with him.

Monday, October 25, 2010

let's begin at the end, shall we?

As i begin to post the Hawaii pictures i need to tell you a story about a lovely $5 Goodwill skirt and the only bad thing that happened on my trip because it has some bearing on the posts.
When i travel i like to have a few things/place/restaurants/goals picked out to visit or accomplish, but i leave the rest of the time open for adventure.
 Generally, the day before i leave is my "clean up" day to hit anything still on the list and to take pictures that i need for my scrapbook or for specific blog posts. I was checking out of my hotel on Saturday, flying out at midnight, flying through the night and getting home in the morning on Sunday, so i had almost 12 hours for "clean up" and planned the day to the max:
-get up at 8
-breakfast at Eggs and Things
-take Waikiki street shots and buy souvenirs during the 1.5 hour wait for breakfast
-check out between 11 and 11:30
-pics of Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo
-pics of Honolulu public art and mountainside neighborhoods
-head north to find the Crouching Lion formation
-spend the afternoon exploring the Polynesian Cultural Center villages including going to the specific shows and lessons, until they close for the evening luaus
-dinner someplace on the way back to Honolulu
-pictures of the city at night
-return rental car at 9pm
-shuttle to the airport and change into warmer travel clothes
Doesn't that sound like a great day?
Knowing that there would be a lot of pictures and that many of the pictures of me in Hawaii up to that point had been taken when i looked like crappy (totally happy, but tired and salty with sketchy hair) i saved the cutest outfit for last. I found this red and white knee-length floral skirt at Goodwill just days before i left. It is cotton and too light to wear in Maryland in October, but perfect for Hawaii. It was to be paired with a white V-neck t-shirt and long, vintage red and gold beads.
 Lovely, if i must say so myself.
And the perfect yes-i'm-a-tourist-but-i'm-not-the-fannypack-crowd outfit.
Ahhhhh... the best laid plans...
Friday night between the luau and the show (separate post), i was going over everything in my head for "clean up" day - firming up the estimated times, planning the most efficient driving routes, deciding what to pack that night and what to leave for the morning, etc - when i started to have a little doubt.
 I'd made the plane reservations one day sitting at my desk with my boss in the guest chair, talking about flying over a bunch of timezones. I'd intentionally picked flying overnight so that i could sleep. But now that i was in Hawaii and understood the time difference, the travel times just didn't add up. It is a 5 hour flight across the ocean and then another 5 hours across the country, plus layover time to switch planes. Add crossing 6 time zones to the east and the journey appears to take almost an entire day. How was i supposed to leave at midnight and get in at 7am? Somehow i must have messed up and be getting in at 7pm, losing Sunday in the process.
Once i got back to the hotel i checked my reservations.
Yes, i got into BWI at 7am.
Yes, i left Honolulu at midnight - 12:30pm to be precise.
12:30 pm is NOON, not MIDNIGHT!
No "clean up" day.
 No Eggs and Things.
No Crouching Lion.
No PCC, even though i had already paid for the tickets.
 No final pictures for the scrapbook or the blog.
 No opportunity to wear my super cute i'm-in-Hawaii outfit.
Soooooooo... i managed to get souvenirs bought and pictures of the King Kamehameha statue before sitting through rush hour traffic to return my car and get to the airport by 10am.
That is why several of the posts following over the next few days will say imagine pictures here and why there is a picture of my pretty Goodwill skirt, since i can't wear it until probably April.
Oh well, crap happens, right?
Anyhoo, the trip was great otherwise and i'll try to get a few posts up each day to share the adventure with you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Samantha reminded me how much i like haikus

So many pictures;
Copy will not write itself;
Where's my assistant?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Aloha, State 34!

I enjoyed Debbie's comment I'm so looking forward to that Hawaii post. teehee... THAT Hawaii post... You see, she's relatively new to the Nikiverse and doesn't know that the reason it hasn't happened yet is that there are a LOT more than one post for this trip. I believe the Disney cruise topped out at 20 posts. This trip will probably only have about 10 since i spent most of the trip in the conference center. But here is proof that i was there: I am diligently working on the pictures and copy. Of course, the fact that one of my underwater cameras had to be redeveloped and rerun cause the lab screwed up isn't helping matters. But i promise, Debbie and everyone, it will be worth the wait cause i did do and see some pretty cool things while on a wee island in the Pacific. But MOST importantly perhaps, i did have a chance this weekend to update the Niki State Map in my studio adding Hawaii as State #34! (and Colorado as an airport state) Only 16 to go! [though Mississippi is now even more pissed off] I do love going to new places!

Monday, October 18, 2010

That's a wrap, people

Mayhaps you recall that i was in a one act play somewhat recently. It was another new experience, per my New Year's Resolutions. It was an interesting and educational process filled with delightful moments and times that made me want to gauge my eyes out. Overall, i am really glad that i did it, but in no hurry to do it again. I thought it would be fun to share some of the process with you. I have no pictures of rehearsals cause it is exactly what you would expect: people holding scripts and saying lines, then people walking around with scripts saying lines and then people just saying lines. Most rehearsals were done without sets; instead, we had colored tape on the stage marking where walls and things would eventually be placed. I didn't actually see the full set until tech week. One thing that really surprised me was that once we had the full set, it didn't stay in place. Because the Barn at CCBC is used as a classroom nothing could stay in place, so every night of rehearsal and even the 3 days of the show, we always started with a blank stage. Upon arriving, the cast would go to the stage left wing and enter the kitchen -marked OFFICE for some reason- where only authorized personell were allowed (though no one is sure exactly what a personell is), to drop off our personal stuff and start the transformation. I really liked that costumes were laid out neatly by actor so that you knew exactly where your stuff would be found: First step is to put on our character shoes and pick up our makeup. Most of the cast went back out into the house to do makeup because there was more room and light and cool air. Mara is getting Marty ready to be Mr. Vernon Larouge, corporate manager and vaguely lecherous creep. Though i did most of my own makeup, Shannon had to do my eyeliner every night cause i fail miserably at it. Back in the tiny kitchen, hair was being worked on next. Shannon gives Samantha's hair a few more flips to get her Ruby ready, while Sabra tries to control her braids to receive the first of two different wigs during the night. She and Lorraine both changed wigs twice and it was always hilarious to walk in on Lorraine talking to her wig before she put it on. Once we were fully dressed, we'd hang out in the house until everyone was ready. Erica brought a Coffee News one night that we read aloud to keep from being nervous dontcha just love the Coffee News? While the actors were getting prepared, Nathan the technical director prepped the stage and then he and the run crew got the set pieces in place. Everyone had things that they were specifically in charge of, like i set the bottles along the front of the counter and Samantha set the bottles that she and Marty used as props. Once everything was in place, it was time to open the house and we had to go behind stage to the chairs where we began waiting. I sat next to Sabra because of the order that we went on stage. You can barely see it, but through that door behind me there is a landing of a stairwell where Lorraine was set up for her costume and wig change, plus where she had hot tea and losenges at the ready since she was sick as a dog during the whole run. Sometimes cast members would quietly run lines, but generally we just waited. Once the house was open, Josh was up in the tech booth and Debbie was set up behind the back of the stage with her annotated script and flashlight. The run crew - Nathan, Nathan and Shannon - were dressed in all black and either a flurry of activity or completely motionless, but i have no pictures of them cause at this point i needed to get on stage. I played the worst customer ever, drawing a lot on my own retail experience to be as annoying to the poor perfume counter girl as humanly possible so that she became so exasperated that the Lady in the Leopard Print Hat -moi- was able to shoplift several bottles of perfume. Though we chose ahead of time which ones i would steal and i placed them in specific places, it is interesting to note that at every performance i actually took different bottles. After the first scene i had to run behind stage and totally change outfit, shoes, hair and makeup to become one of Vernon's sycophantic assistants. Due to the speed at which it happened there are no pictures of me in that costume, but rest assured that Sabra and I looked like matching fight attendants. I love being on stage and it was fun afterwards to talk to people in the audience. TM Amy and new husband Aaron came opening night as did a bunch of staff from Objects Found. The director, Michelle, shared roses with us all before we celebrated some birthdays. On Sunday, after the matinee, the cast and crew had to stay to strike the set. We were all put on teams with specific responsibilities. I was on the costume team so i helped Mara sort out what belonged to whom and get the kitchen stripped and cleaned of all show materials. Then i helped pull apart the set. It was kinda sad to see everything get broken down but everything had to go. At the very end we all went out to dinner together to celebrate not only the performances, but the whole process of creating live theater. Of course, we went to Motel Restaurant (Chappies). Thanks to the cast and crew of The Perfume Counter!