Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sick Creativity

Ug. I am officially suffering from a guilty cold. This is day three of an upper respiratory collection of gross. And it's at that point where I feel sick, but I'm not missing limbs and not dead so I should probably go in. One of those illnesses where my attempt to get out and get some air turns into skirting the edge of playing hooky.  The conversation in my head goes something like this: "I'd love to take an easy bike ride to the local thrift store to move and get some fresh air." " Um, hey. If you can ride a bike and shop, then shouldn't you be at work?" "But the biking and shopping is part of the healing!" "But it's fun, and if you're having fun then you're obviously not sick enough to stay home from work." It's a cycle of shame.

Yesterday was a good dose of official "ick", so I harbored no feelings of remorse for working from home. There was enough to do on the computer to rationalize moving my work space to one conveniently surrounded by Kleenex, cold medication, and ice cream (the last of which I'm sure is some kind of mana from heaven when it comes to making sore throats feel better).

Between work stuff I managed to construct another portion of my first costuming project. I really hope this turns out well. I actually have little to no idea what I'm doing. One of my dance friends gave wise advice when I started though: "Oh, just stop worrying so much about patterns and measurements and stuff and just start making something." So here is the something. There's a lot of work to still be done. The beading needs finishing on the left side strap & cup. I'm also putting a round charm/glittery thing/clasp in the center with a few strands of beads looping up to the sides. Those are the easy parts. The hard part is being able to fit it and judge whether or not this is a costuming success or failure. Of course, it still needs a hip scarf to go with it - which will be a new challenge in fringe and avoiding weird patterns on butt cheeks and crotch.

A big shout out to Naima, of Naima's Bellydance Blog, for her post on how to do a blanket stitch to put the lining onto the back of the bra. Mine isn't quite perfect, but it covers up the crazy mess of beading stitches. :) And a HUGE shout out to Amulya and her What Were They Thinking blog. It's been an extremely valuable resource in what NOT to do with a bra top. For example:

 - Putting gigantic round rhinestones dead center on each cup will remind your audience that, not only do you have nipples, but that they're IN YO FACE NIPPLES! In fact, stay away from large circles on the boobs all together, as many of these designs have the tendency to look like targets or eyes. Then again, some people just go for straight up eyes. Creepy... ("Mommy! That dancer's chest is looking at me! Make it stop!")

 - Fringe, when used in excess, can make your chest look like it's crying. When the color of your fringe happens to match the color of your hair, having it on your chest creates the illusion that you need to shave in a place that doesn't often need shaving. In this case, there's some kind of bellydancng Cthulhu.

 - Too much creativity (i.e. not incorporating similar elements throughout the top) can come off looking like a little old lady barfed her antiques collection all over you. Then the top got caught in a vacuum cleaner. Then someone tried to fix it with hot glue. Also, it was probably fought over by several dogs... who had yarn fringe in their mouths.

 - There are just some designs that shouldn't be. This costume would make me feel like E.T.

P.S. I finished adding in the ET picture at 9:30AM. It's currently noon, I've been at work since 10:30AM, am sneezing, coughing, and hacking up a storm, have had three coworkers tell me to go home and one coworker refuse to come near me. It's official: I'm sick enough to be at home recuperating. I am validated and free of my sick guilt. So I'm going to pack up by 1PM, go home, have lunch, and gladly take that therapeutic bike ride.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Whole New World...

There are a few events around Madison that I somehow always miss. I hear about them after the fact and then find myself musing that, hey, I should go to that. Then I end up forgetting the date, spending the whole day cleaning and battling some force of evil on some kind of gaming console, getting to the next morning, seeing the paper and musing that, hey, I should have gone to that. Well not anymore UW Fashion Week!

Last night my husband and I went to the annual MODA fashion show put on the by the university's... fashion department... textiles people... businesses? I'm still really not sure. The point is that the two of us trudged in to the strange world of name brands, high-cut pencil skirts, and men in very tailored pants (Is it still tailored if I can see their ass crack through the back? Or are they just pants that don't fit? These are questions that cement the fact that I will never understand fashion.). 

Other photographers seemed to be gathering around the end of the runway, so I shuffled up there with my cute little Pentax (with a zoom lens!). I can't name most of the other equipment that everyone had, but I noticed that not only were there a variety of flash modifications, but that everyone seemed to be checking to see how large each other's lenses were. Then it hit me. I had stumbled into a contest of my-camera-penis-is-bigger-than-yours, and I was the print model in a sea of porn stars. I was ready to bolt back to my seat in shame, until I made eye contact with another woman holding a small Cannon. Whatever moment we had, it was welcomed on both sides because each of us made a firm adjusting of the legs to claim our territories in prime photography zones. 

And I learned a valuable lesson here: A good place to be at fashion shows is right smack dab behind the camera designated for use by the group putting on the show. Because no one is allowed to sit in front of it, and will be asked to move otherwise. It was like getting my own private force field! And while I used up most of my memory card and wore out my wrist snapping away, the husband helped by taking notes. 

These were our top 5:

 Not as cool, but still cool:

 And the bottom 5 (one of them literally so):
Up, up, and away! To the year 3014, when we will all where superheroes will all be equipped with onseies!
Okay, no hiker looks like that. (The backpack he's holding caused a debate: hiker or kid on his first day of school?)
Crotch arrowed!

Where is this meant to be WORN!?

And coming in as honorable mentions in the categories of:
1). Yes. Yes. I don't care what you're wearing. You've got muscles, look awesome and I want to be you.
2). I'm looking at a walking corpse. I'm almost positive. Um...should I remove the head, or destroy the brain?
3). Again with the walking undead! Get some Midwestern moms in here stat to make them eat something!
4). Best paparazzi face scrunch of the night.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'll be back! ...Maybe.

It used to be that what greeted me in the morning was a hamster. Well, a half-dead hamster. Zeke lived to be almost two years old. And for a dwarf hamster, that's saying something. Now it is no longer a balding, mostly-blind, really-needs-a-long-rest-if-you-know-what-I-mean rodent that starts my day, but a visit down to the bunny room - where I often find that my husband has lost the daily battle with the door that separates rabbit from hay. Theo (Short for Theophilius. Thank you Christopher Moore.) is the newest addition to our household, and is probably the best practice for a child that we've had so far. Except this child likes to chew. We like to think that from Theo's perspective he's actually making our books and game boxes and wires more aesthetically pleasing, while at the same time testing them for poison. So far we have learned that, no, the carpet, our bachelor's degrees, the back of the television and a basement wall are all safe to eat. Take that, would-be assassins!

While Theo continues holding down the fort, I have begun venturing a bit further out of the house and my comfort zone. I finally got pressured into dancing at one of the local hookah cafes. Which, if you are a belly dancer, is the worst way to start anything. I was so stressed about my first performance - about picking the right songs, about making sure my costume fit, about not getting caught in my veil - that I almost hated my first night. I actually did get caught in my veil, but my irrational fear of hanging myself as the veil became snagged on a fast-moving ceiling fan while the audience booed in disgust did not come to pass. I did end up spending the first two nights before the performance crying due to stress levels. I also learned that altering a costume while watching "Casino Royal" is not a good combinations. Ogling a half-dressed Daniel Craig meant that I sewed one of the straps on backwards. Twice. Same strap. Thank you, Mr. Craig, for being my eye candy, but you hampered my ability to be eye candy for others. The second performance truly helped, though. I have my third one coming up next month and I think I'll finally hit the point where I'm comfortable enough with the venue that I'll actually have fun this time. Plus, I get to go shopping for shiny things almost all the time. This is both a waste and a perfect use of money.

I'm not sure if this is an entry that means I'm writing on a regular basis again or not. I would like to get back in the habit, but I'm an optimistic realist (if a person can be both). Somewhere between neutral and chaotic good. Now I just have to figure out where Theo lies. How do you figure out a bunny's alignment when his primary motivation is pellets and treats?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Appeasing the Rents

Forget the God & Goddess. I'm way overdue for appeasing the parent gods with photos of cute things. Over the last few months my husband & I found a house! (Yay! Kermit waving arms in the air dance!) This, of course, means that requests for photos have increased three-fold, as have calls and emails demanding we make room for furniture and art that everyone seems to have too much of and "thought we could use". It's a hard position, because while, yes, I am very grateful to be getting offers of kitchen tables, buffets, chairs, couches, desks, and random wall art, I have to manage to suppress the urge to feign drowning in stuff that has yet to be put somewhere. (I haven't even hit kid stage yet. Who knows what you end up swimming in when that comes along. ...Toys? I wish.)

That being said, it is time to send the parent deities a long awaited photo of the newest member of the family - Theophilius Maybe Sheldon. "Theo" for short. Theo is about 10 weeks old now and in the past two weeks has already figured out how to: use a litter box, squeeze his body through a 2.5 inch hole and escape from his cage, climb the futon and run on carpet. This last one was great because when I brought him home I set him down on the vinyl tile only to watch all four of his feet splay out. It was like watching rabbit on ice. Once I was sure he wouldn't explode in a mass of pee and pellets,  I brought him down to the basement where the studio is carpeted. Bunny on ice became instant gymnast - thought, with his leaps and twists looking a bit more spastic than your average Olympian. 

And I'd write more, but I can hear bangs from the other room; meaning that Theo is being what by friend calls "sassy bun" and is trying to figure out how to chew his way through the closet to get to his hay supply. Thinking about baby in the future and am really happy that babies aren't born with teeth.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Don't let the bed bugs bite

The following dialogue takes place over the course of the two hours following the discovery of these little boogers in my bed during my cleaning binge last week.

On the phone the first time with hubbie at work:
TBF: I think we have bed bugs.
H: ...what?
TBF: I think-
H: I heard you, but, oh my god. Okay. Um. How many did you find? In the bed? What do they look like?
TBF: Hold on! I found three. One on top of the sheets and two on the mattress pad. They're small, round, dark brown and flat. But oddly enough, they're all dead.
H: Did you look around the edges of the mattress? Did you take the bed apart?
TBF: Yes and yes. Didn't find anything.
H: Okay, here's what you need to do. Get everything off the floor. Put all of our books in plastic bags-
TBF: Wait, why am I putting them in plastic bags?
H: I've had bed bugs before! They can get anywhere! Just do it!
TBF: ...Ooookay..... Well, I'll call the apartment company-
H: NO! Don't call the apartment company!
TBF: Woah. Why?
H: Because if they find them in other apartments then they'll blame us and we'll have to pay!
TBF: I don't think that's exactly how it wor-
H: Trust me on this!
TBF: I'm calling Rachel.
H: Okay. Oh my gosh. Fine. Sorry. I'm just freaking out here.
TBF: It'll be fine. Relax. I'll let you know when I find out more. 
H: Okay.

Intermission: Called my friends Rachel and Joliene who are both working on their PhD's in entomology. Left messages explaining the situation. Also called the Madison pest inspector office to see what our liability would be in terms of bed bugs. We're fine. Got started cleaning the bedroom (sans bagging up the books. I was not going to do that with 150 books.). Got to vacuuming and stopped.

30 minutes later on the phone for the second time with hubbie at work:
TBF: Sorry to tell you this but I found more.
H: How many more?
TBF: Ten. All in the carpet. All dead. I'm thinking two things: one, that they might be escapees if another apartment got treated for them near us, and two, that we need to call the apartment company.
H: Oh my god. Okay. Oh my god. <freaking out continues> (For the record, I don't blame him for doing this. He got bed bugs several years ago after lots of hotel traveling. He ended up taking apart his bed, opening the windows to his room in the middle of winter and closing the door. He slept on the couch for a week while freezing the bedbugs to death. This is not an option in August.)

Intermission: Called the apartment company and spent the next half hour talking with landlords and trying to email a photo of the bugs in.

30 minutes later on the phone with Rachel:
Rachel: Okay, Lauren, what do the bugs look like?
TBF: Tiny, brown, round, flat.
Rachel: How flat exactly? And how small? Like how many millimeters across?
TBF: Um...
Rachel: That's it. I'm coming over. I'll be there in about ten minutes.

10 minutes later:
Rachel: And these are all the ones you collected? And you didn't find any live ones?
TBF: Nope. That's it. ...Rachel, is that a pipette with alcohol?
Rachel: (Whips out her magnifying glass necklace and a tweezers.) How else am I going to get these back to the lab? I'm going to run some tests. I'll get back to you in a bit. (Dashes out the door. I'm speechless and pretty impressed at the moment.)

Intermission: Spent the next half hour telling my landlords that I had someone on it and that it was not yet necessary to have a pest control guy come out to put C02 traps in my apartment.

20 minutes later on the phone with Rachel:
Rachel: Lauren, are you part plant?
TBF: Not that I'm aware of.
Rachel: Do you have plants in your bedroom or possibly sleep with them?
TBF: No on the first one, and what-are-you-getting-at on the second one.
Rachel: You've got common cydnidae.
TBF: Ah, yes. Oh course! What are those?
Rachel: They're plant bugs that eat leaves. That would explain why you have no bites and why they're dead. What have you guys been doing in bed?
TBF: Damn! You've discovered our secret herb and ivy fetish. I knew we couldn't hide it forever. I guess it's time to finally take our stashes of collars, whips and hydrangeas out of the closet. 
Rachel: Hah! Well, however they got in there it's no problem now. 

5 minutes later on the phone with hubbie for probably the tenth time that day:
TBF: I am a moron.

I'm actually not too much of a moron. Cynidae and bed bugs are in closely related families of bugs. Should any of you also enjoy bedding down with plants (Seriously, we never did figure this out. I have one succulent in the office and that's it. Must have been something we picked up on our clothes somewhere.), here's what the two look like:
In my defense, I'd never seen a bed bug before and I did find them in my bed and bedroom. And telling the difference between them when they're all dead is tougher. Still. I felt kinda dumb.

Kudos to all you entomologists out there. And to all of those who carry pipettes and magnifying glass necklaces with you. You impress the rest of us with science.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Don't Wanna...

 Here we are. It's the middle of August and I'm in the middle of coming down from a slump.Of course that means that I go a little insane in terms of working out, and I often forget to let myself rest. Today the hubbie is traveling around Wisconsin teaching young skaters how to referee roller derby. So I am car-less. And after one hour of elliptical, stretching, ab work, and weight lifting, and a 45 minute walk to the thrift store and back (which netted me an excellent set of flats and a copper necklace), I realized that I screwed up and made the 35min bike ride to the birthday barbecue not as doable as I would have liked. I'll have to make up for my exercise fail with a belated birthday dinner for my buddy.

I started keeping track of my weight every day and have been staying strong since January 1st of this year. While I haven't created a nice downward curve, it has been interesting to see the trends start to form.  For example, every time you see a sudden spike, it marks time I spent with my in-laws. ...I've spent a lot of time with my in-laws. The most recent one is the result of the up north county fair. The one where it was that nice apple pie for dinner, and breakfast... and lunch. Plus the pizza for another dinner, subsistence off fair food for most lunches, and chocolate. Oh, so much chocolate.

About two days later I decided it was worth it, but now that I'm actually hitting the gym and weights like crazy trying to work it off again, I'm having second thoughts.

My ultimate goal is to get to my optimal BMI number apparently that's 131.5lbs for my current age & weight. I haven't gotten there yet, but every little bump in the graph gets me a little closer. My record is 133.5lbs. Granted, that was only for one day, but I'll take what I can get. :)

Has anyone else been tracking their weight? I've looked around online to see if I can find other examples of what a person's body does over the course of a year and (aside from getting blank charts to download and several disturbing photos involving various surgeries) haven't found anything. If anyone else is willing to share I'd be interested to see how my attempts measure up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I think they're trying to tell me something...

Monday my husband and I returned from the land of John Deeres and "hey der's" back to hippie Madison. This weekend was the Iron County Fair where my husband does the annual pie auction that benefits 4-H (The record this year for the first place raspberry-peach pie was $620!), and we both help run the kiddie pedal tractor pull. And while the fair is always a blast, the highlight of this trip was all the really weird signs we kept finding. If they weren't so random I would guess that the gods were trying to tell me something. In this case, though, I'm going to say that Hermes and Kapua were just having themselves a good time. :)
Found at a park in Bayfield. More photos of the park to come... sans the African lion.
Being next to Lake Superior, this made slightly more sense; however, we preferred that it not.
Can your can litter potty and feed itself? Also, is it just me, or is the seller using his cats' disabilities as a positive selling point?
But he's constantly in a custody battle with SATAN!
If you get this joke, you are a true geek, and I bow to your awesomeness.
In a used book shop in Bayfield, WI.
There are so many bad thoughts that come to mind in this gorilla scenario.
Take me, Uncle Sam!
One of the 4-H kids made a safety house for her school project. Just in case someone's interested in home maintainence and wants to make sure they don't die in the process.
Ooh! Be sure to use electricity near - wait. Oh. NOT. I guess that puts an end to my hair dryer, toaster, teslacoil tub parties.
If the population is really "Me and My friends" then move out the way cuz I'm moving to Silly Earth!
Creating a new print publication. This is obviously still in the ideas being thrown around randomly until something seems awesome stage. Meh. It's further ahead than a lot of other papers.
One or more of you might own a horse, know what this is and know its practical uses.
So please know that the rest of us find it absolutely hilarious.

In our family we call these half-exploded chickens.
The absolute weirdest fair attendee.
This is not my truck. And I still can't figure out what's involved in bringing it "to the max".
I really wanted to see that second scenario played out. Then I thought, "It's kind of warm in this restaurant. 560,023 peeps might be a bad idea."