Saturday, March 30, 2013

there is no such thing as lost...

...there are only unplanned adventures that interrupt what you thought you were supposed to be doing.

Case in point: yesterday i had lunch with fTM Felicia downtown then dropped off books at the Book Thing. It is in a neighborhood that i am not really familiar with, but was pretty sure that i knew where i was going after i left the parking lot.
I was wrong.
At some point i made a left when i should have made a right and ended up in neighborhoods that i've only heard of or that i didn't even know existed.
One of the problems with knowing where i was is that i have no intrinsic sense of north, south, east and west; instead, i use the sun or stars to know which way i am headed. That works great unless it is cloudy and you can't find the sun.
So i just kept making educated guesses.
Semi-educated guess.
Okay, guesses.
Just as i decided that mayhaps i was actually lost i spotted a giant carrot sticking through a building.
Yes, you read that sentence correctly.

So i wasn't lost; i was looking for a giant carrot without being aware of it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

one way to you know you are a science geek

Doctor Cool: The CT scan wasn't conclusive so i am ordering an MRI.

most people's reaction: Crap. Does that mean it is serious? I don't want it to be serious. Where do i have to go for that? Does my insurance cover that? Do i have to drink more nasty crap for that? Do i have to have more weird dye injected for that? How long does that take? Do they have an open machine? Am i gonna freak if it is a closed machine? How soon do i need to get this done?

science geek reaction: Cool! I've always wanted to see the inside of an MRI machine. I wonder if you feel anything during the procedure. Do you think they'll let me take a picture of the inside of the tube for my blog?

Wanna guess which reaction i had?

yes, i needed to have an MRI
no, i don't think it is anything serious
no, you should not worry, if you are a worrier
yes, it was as cool as i wanted it to be
yes, you can feel parts of the procedure
no, i couldn't take pictures inside of the tube

Sunday, March 24, 2013

it's all about attitude

Friday night i was in a fender bender.
I was making a right turn and had a green arrow; unfortunately, there was a pedestrian in the crosswalk that i couldn't see because all the cars next to me were stopped at their red light.
Thank God i saw him in time and slammed on the brakes. The car behind me also slammed on their brakes, but slid into me.
When i got out to check my car, the other driver got to check his.
We were both shocked but calm (i think i was so calm because i was so shocked by the whole thing). I checked my bumper and declared that it was no big deal and he replied, Are you sure? and came to check it himself. Then we walked over to his car; there was a crack in his bumper and he said I can fix that myself.
As a bit of the shock wore off i swore, There was a guy in f-ing crosswalk; i had to stop, to which he replied, I know. I saw him, while patting my shoulder.
Then we exchanged the Are you okay?s and the Are you sure you're okay?s. I saw he had some girls in his car so i shouted Are you all okay? to them and they all waved at me.
He said, So we're okay? and I nodded, We're okay.
As i started to step back he reached out and gave me a big hug and said It's okay.
The whole exchange probably lasted 2 minutes.
We both made the right and when i turned left to get to my friends' house, he beeped and all of the girls waved at me.
Imagine how much better the world would be if everyone could be as civilized as that guy.
Thanks random guy.

Friday, March 22, 2013

investing personality into yard art

I was in Florida visiting my dad recently. The weather was cold and overcast for Florida, but on the last two days the sun came out and i was able to take some golfcart constitutionals.
I love to figure out the new trends in yard art. One year it was ceramic snails; another year it was large Mexican-style painted pots. It was rather disappointing that this year there was no obvious new trend. I mean people had replaced or added new yard art certainly, but it was your standard animals, gnomes and super creepy kid statues (man, i really don't like those).
But then - HAZZAH!- i spotted what has become my favorite piece ever:
Look at that grin. He knows something.
What is with the hyper-casual Hey Baby pose?
This is a reptile that is completely at ease and mayhaps a bit cocky.
And the mug? I'm sure we are supposed to think it is coffee, but look at his sorta self-satisfied expression: if that is coffee, it's Irish coffee, but i'm guessing it is probably the first Black Russian of the day.
Are you wondering if his eyes are halogen bulbs that light up the night? I think we both know the answer to that question.
I have never seen this piece before, but he literally made me hit the brakes - and you never have to use the brakes on a golfcart. I had to turn around to go home and get my camera (i know, why was i out on a constitutional without my camera?  i just don't have an answer for that). In the time it took me to get the camera and get back i had figured out his entire life story:

Lyle is that one friend you have that has always been kinda smarmy, but you like him anyway; maybe it's his easy charm or infectious laugh.
Yes, he always hits on the waitress when you go out (he still calls them waitresses, not servers), but he's all talk.
Underneath his veneer of tooth veneers and body spray beats a heart of gold.
He retired to Florida from his job as a disc jockey. After being the morning guy for years in Paloma and then the drive time guy for years in Park City and then the 6-10 guy for even more years in San Diego, the bigwigs tried to move his show to overnight and Lyle knew it was time to hang up his headphones and get out of the game.
Years ago he was married to a great gal, but with his schedule and devotion to the airwaves, plus being so young when they got hitched right after junior college, they just couldn't make the relationship work. He gets a birthday and a Festivus card every year from Linda and her second husband, Smitty; they're happily retired in Palm Springs.
There might be up to 150 of his progeny in the world, but none of them ever call; he doesn't even know how many of them survived hatching. But that was just the way with his generation of males, you let the female lay the eggs in the grass while you went about your business.
Golf courses are his favorite hangout these days, basking in the sun and working on his short game. In the evenings you can often find Lyle with his friends enjoying cocktails and playing Mah Jong for low money stakes and bragging rights.
It's a good life; just look at his smile.
This is Croc-n-Lyle. Don't touch that dial, cause after a word from our sponsors we'll be back in style, rocking the Nile.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

tortilla-less tacos and warm berries

In the never-ending fun that is my endocrine system, I have to go low-carb for three months.
That is a tall order for a girl whose favorite food is moni cheese and whose go-to dinner menu is mostly quesadillas and endless combinations of pasta and veggies.
If i remove tortillas, pasta and rice from my kitchen i almost don't know how to cook.
But a girl still has to eat.
I was thinking about those yummy lettuce wrap appetizers at PF Chang's and how you can order the burgers at Abbey Burger Bistro wrapped in lettuce and decided to try it with tacos.
I browned a combination of ground beef, ground turkey and diced onions and taco packeted it up.
Three big Romaine leaves were my taco bases which i layered with a bit of shredded cheese, the meat/onion mixture and then a tomato topping - salsa on one, verde hot sauce on one and one with fresh chopped tomatoes, which i am trying to teach myself to eat.
They were really delicious and messy to eat like regular tacos, though i missed the satisfying crunch of the shell; carrots had to stand in for my crunchiness.
There was plenty left over so i had tortilla-less breakfast burritos this morning.

I have a lot of fresh berries that need eaten and had recently seen a nice honey-lemon dressed berry recipe on Cooking with Tomo. His was served cold with fresh whipped cream, but i wanted something warm since it is still a bit nippy at night so i cut up and layered strawberries, black berries and blueberries in a small ramekin and preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I mixed and then drizzled honey and lemon juice over the berries and cooked them for about 25 minutes (at one point my oven went crazy and there was leaking gas so i'm not exactly sure how long they cooked as i had to do some repairs partway through the process).
I didn't have an heavy cream so i dolloped on some vanilla yogurt.

It was crazy delicious with the cold yogurt, warm soft berries and the blazing hot juice mixing together on my spoon.

Okay, maybe i can manage this low-carb thing.

Though i miss moni cheese even more than i miss Diet Coke.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

discovering a new place and a hiking PSA

Last week i was driving home on Main St in Ellicott City. There was a back-up because of a truck that didn't quite make a tight turn and was stuck across the road.
I took a handy available left turn onto a road i've never taken before, intending to circle around the accident and cut back down to Main St before the river.
Good plan, but this road didn't go that way. Instead, it climbed up the side of a hill, winding and winding and winding until i was high above the town. It was a sunny afternoon so instead of worrying about traffic and the thwarted detour i decided to explore instead.
I had never been in this part of the county; heck, i didn't even realize that civilization went that far up the hill. I thought the town ended after a few blocks on that side of Main St because it looks like nothing but hills and forest.
The road forked, then that road forked, then there was a T stop, then that road forked, then there was a super creepy state park with the ruins of a Women's Facility -whatever that means- surrounded by a barbed wire fence, then another fork. At each of the forks one side led to a dead end.
 I could see some newer housing developments higher on the ridge, but no road to get there. There was another housing development with a road running through it, but not down the hill. Basically the road i was on was the only route in and out of this area; if it was blocked there would be no way out.
The road finally ended.
I mean it just ended.
But i was next to a lovely little stream so i got out to look around.
After some climbing and searching i realized this area must be the back edge of some undeveloped section of Patapsco State Park. There was no fencing so i explored for a while before breaking out the camera to play with some zoom settings.

It was nice to have a wee adventure and find a new place so close to home. Plus it was really great to be outside without needing to be totally bundled up; Spring is on the way.
Most of the time when i find fun places to explore i am dressed inappropriately, but unbelievably i didn't have on a skirt this time. Not that bare legs has ever stopped me, but it was nice that the inevitable slips and slides and run-ins with rude, grabby tree branches encountered jeans instead of skin.

 However, i would like to advise anyone who might be considering rock hopping next to stream in cute gold sparkle flats to rethink that choice. They are really, really not the correct footwear for this kind of thing. Really.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The snow is coming.
Guess i'll stay in Florida.
Too bad for me, right?

Monday, March 4, 2013

it was really good

Tried a new 'que place with my dad tonight - Rib City.
I'm a carnivore;
Hear me roar. Baby back ribs,
Now a pile of bones.


While on vacation, I've been cleaning out photo files and came across a picture i took in Hawaii on the highway:

The pen on duct tape made me laugh out loud.
It seemed so ridiculous at the time, but when i saw it this morning it seemed inspired instead. The road crew didn't have what they needed to do their job so someone took the initiative to make due with what they could find.
A good reminder for self-employed artists.
Life can seem a trial. 
Sometimes resources are scarce. 
Adapting is key. 

tv time

Every year there is a golfcart parade on the Saturday of Resident’s Appreciation Weekend at my dad’s park. This year the theme was Classic Sitcoms; the Mid-Atlantic Club went with The Beverly Hillbillies. As per normal they went all in, this time turning a golfcart into the iconic long car from the opening credits.
Yes, there is a golfcart under all of that. Amazing, right? 

Here is our Ellie Mae, 
and Grannie all costumed up 
and ready to go. 

I love the hat Miss Lorraine is wearing as Grannie; she made it from a plastic bowl. 
It is those sorts of details that really make the difference. 
It is always fun to walk around the golfcarts and notice the tiny things that elevate a good idea to a great presentation. 
BTW, that stuffed pig has apparently been in the Mid-Atlantic Club longer than my dad; no one could even exactly pinpoint which year he had been made for the parade, but now he is a staple. 

Speaking of my dad, he wasn’t in the parade this year; as the president of the club he was in charge of getting lunch started since Mid-Atlantic had drawn hot dog duty this year: however, you already saw that Shirley rode as Ellie Mae. 

Dad was able to come down for a little while during set up to say hi to everyone and hang out; here he is with Klinger from MASH. 

Parade time! 
gotta have color guard, fire trucks and a drumline

love the Mickey gloves for waving
This is the first time I’ve seen Shriners at the parade.

I am sorry to say for Rea’s sake that they were indeed clowns, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a real calliope being played in a parade, so I’ll look past the whole clown thing. 

The Canadian Club also did the Beverly Hillbillies, 
I love that they had a real dog marching, he joyously barked at all the spectators.

Midwest did Happy Days and the spin-off Laverne and Shirley. 
They had women dressed as carhops handing out root beer floats. 

The winner this year was New England with a truly impressive M*A*S*H:
The lights flashed, the helicopter blades spun, the bloody patient was hooked up to a liter of whiskey: it was amazing. As my dad said, you don’t mind losing when there is really stiff competition. I’m glad I wasn’t a judge. 
Finally, let’s see our very own Mid-Atlantic in motion: 

yes, he rode the entire parade in the outhouse
I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with next year.

Austrian Sphinx

I was talking to my charming BFF a few days ago when she commented that now that I no longer travel for a living there has been a dearth of insanity in the Nikiverse. 
Amen, sister. How I miss discovering crazy things in hidden places.
Rea challenged me to go on an adventure by my dad’s house and find something. 
Challenge accepted! 
But I’m in Ft. Myers, FL – how much zaniness can there be? 
I remembered a few years ago that when my plane took a different approach than normal to the airport I could have sworn that I saw a group of white pyramids for a moment before we landed. 
In Florida?  
That would certainly qualify as insanity. 
Especially a whole village of them:
photo from website
Built in 2001 as a vacation destination for Europeans, New University Pyramid Village features concrete laminated wood pyramids that are hurricane-proof. 
 There are large sections of laminated, mirrored, tinted, burglar-proof glass to allow maximum sunlight into the pyramids.
They sleep four and you can rent one for a week for $600-$900, depending on how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want. Some units even have a second floor.
It is tucked back in a residential neighborhood; if you weren't specifically looking for it, you'd never find it. Even with the address and directions i circled the blocks 4 times before i finally found the entrance.

 And if that isn’t zany enough for ya,
 there is a giant head just past the entrance. 

The legend goes that once there were Austrian pyramids (cause they were first specifically marketed in Austria) there needed to be an Austrian Sphinx and who better to be the pharoh’s head than Beethoven? 
Fun fact, Beethoven is a storage shed; yes, the genius’ head is now full of lawn equipment. 

So Rea, how’s that for insanity?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

a postcard from Niki

Wish you were here!