Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When It's Warm In Chicago

We're crazy in Chicago when it comets weather. The weather is crazy and we're plain old crazy too...

Last week it was 5 and 10 degrees. This week, we start off on Monday at 48 and today it's 60 and drizzly. But - dog gone it - it's 60! Convertible, say you, thank you I think I will!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The World Is A'Changin'

I don't like change much, especially when something is already good.  But the world seems to have a way of twisting things around so one day you go to buy your favorite blush and they've discontinued the color (yes, this traumatic tale HAS indeed happened to me....).

Bikram yoga is like the Starbucks of the yoga world - or so I thought.  Every studio you go to looks about the same, the instructors say the same thing, you do the same poses, you have close to the same heat, you sweat the same (most of the time) and things are good that way.  But, as I discovered yesterday evening, things don't always stay the same - sometimes they take the thing you love, give it a makeover and send it out and then it walks past you and you don't recognize it but then you do a double take and you're like "wait - wha...?" and everyone else is like "ahhh - you look SOOOO good!" and you're like "heh, yay, sure, you look.... great?  I mean, I kind of liked you the way you were before, but hey..." and then you just keep on staring uncomfortably and you're thinking in your gut "I don't like it, but maybe I'm the crazy one because everyone else likes it?....."

Have I put too much thought into change?  Well - I should!

Because my beloved Chicago Bikram studio has taken the yoga I love and gave it a makeover and sent it out on the street - AND I CRIED!  Ok, I didn't really cry, but I definitely said "I don't like it" -- literally, I told them "I don't like it...."

Brilliant Bikram Chodroy, the man who created the Bikram Yoga series, wisely demanded that carpet be put in biram studios as part of the series, you straddle your mat and do these deep stretches and because you're so extremely sweaty, if you were on anything but carpet, you'd slip and do the splits unintentionally and you'd wind up with some series bodliy harm.  Every studio that I've been in around the country has carpet.  Sometimes its smelly, but you get over it - I mean the gym is often smelly but you go there to sweat so its cool.  And, most places have a cleaning regimen with the carpet so its not that bad.  AND all the floor poses you do are on your mat so its no big whoop.  AND you're surrounded by some really REALLY smelly people to begin with so, the floor stinking, is not your worst problem.

There was one studio that I went to in Budapest and they had a hardwood floor, which seems really clean and easy to sanitize, but you have to do poses differently because you can't put your sweaty feet on the floor because of the bodily harm as mentioned above.  I hated it!

Friday evening,  my heart was betrayed when I found my favorite studio "Budapested".  While I was otherwise preoccupied over the holidays and not able to get down for a class, they went and tore up that aweseome waterproof carpet that they had and put in this funky, sticky "hardwood" floor.  AND biram yoga for me has changed.  NOOOOOOOOOO!!

Bunch of stupid wimpy people who complained about the "smell" (which I still protest was non-existent) and the "wet floor" (you're not doing yoga directly on the floor).  Grow up and do bikram the way it was meant to be done!  So you get sweaty, so its a little smelly.... buck up and strike a pose.

Please don't change anything else .....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Southern Hospitality

I must admit that I have grown to love the south. I used to protest that I despised it, but now I find myself strangely drawn to that lower half of these United States.

Maybe it's the warm weather that I idolized in my previous post. The fact that they have some rain and it's slightly below 40F and they start debating if they should cancel school, next day is hilariously wonderful to me. Poor things have no clue how to cope when they get weather remotely similar to winter so they would just rather be safe and warm. I wanna be safe and warm and bask in sunshine.

Maybe it's the cute shops and quaint restaurants that you encounter in most every southern city. Little towns fly banners that broadcast their town name and pride and shutters and cobblestones and clean lines dominate the architecture and design of city center streets. Small shops with palmetto tree designs, girlie be-ribboned flip flops and mixes and recipes for southern dishes such as grits and pimento loaf inhabit the business district and are run by make-upped women with classy clothes who greet you with friendly southern "hey there's" and "how ya doin hun"s. Used to irritate me, now just makes me smile and flips the "be friendly" switch in my city-head.

Or maybe it's the mountains on one side and the beach on the other. You can always drive to someplace that meets your spirit of adventure or relaxation.

Being a foodie, I've often thought that as soon as the wheels of my plane hit southern soil my mouth starts watering and I begin yelping restaurants to find the ones with the best shrimp and grits or banana cream pie or biscuits. You can't beat a big plate of unhealthy, stick to your ribs down south cooking!

But I suppose, for me personally, one of the things that keeps bringing me back to Dixie is the family that resides there and the memories of ones who did.

I took the "long" road to Simpsonville when I hit Greenville on Friday afternoon. I was headed to my cousin Shelleys, but I had to reminisce about all the places that Aunt June and I repeatitively visited when she was alive.

Her exit at Pelham
The entrance to her subdivision

Our favorite breakfast spot - Mimis
The place we usually ended up at the end of the first or second day that I was with her. We'd emerge with freshly painted toes and head to a nearby restaurant for dinner. (Its not the Hobby Lobby - its the little nail place in the strip mall behind the big sign.... :))
And after I passed all those beloved haunts along the way, I finally parked at the familiar house of my cuz and sat and chatted in the familiar, but newly recarpeted family room of the Hansen house.

New faces to the south, i.e. my nephew Riley, now occupies the same county and we were able to nab a table at one of my favorite downtown Greenville restaurants, Sobys.

After spending the night in the missing nephew, Greg's room (was out trucking for the week), I woke in the morning and breakfasted at good old Mimis with Shel and Riley after which I hit the road back to Atlanta and a flight set to bring me back to the cold Midwest.
Oh - the view from the front of the nephews' house is the back of Bob Jones Univ viewing the front of the nephews' house....
One of these days maybe I won't have to come back up to the cold:). Maybe I'll just be able to stay in the warm with the southern accents and the mountains and the grits - and the family...


Here.... :(

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I'm at the Atlanta airport getting ready to fly home. I've been enjoying high temps of near 70 and lows around 40s. I enjoyed a 2 hour 30 minute drive back from Greenville with my windows opened soaking in sunshine and 64 and found myself bemoaning and dreading the perspective of stepping off the plane and having to remove my comfy flip flops that show my new pedicure in order to don my socks and boots to meet the cold.

Tomorrow its supposed to be below 20 at home. Why do I have to live in the Midwest? Really -that's an honest question... Taking answers....:(

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our Dear, Dear Abby

Well - the sad news of the day is that our dear, Dear Abby has passed away - or DIED as my brother likes to clearly distinguish...  No more advice, no more heart warming sentiments expressed by the queen of good intent, no more lovingly guiding parents through the slippery slope of parenting or the dating through the - slippery slope of dating.  Relationships - you just better work out because Abby's not there anymore to help you fix your hang ups and flaws.  I guess we're all on our own.....

But, I'll try to get all your minds off of this traumatic news by telling you about the excitingly full week that I've had, sans the death of Abigail Van-whatever.

So - Monday I worked.
Tuesday - I worked.
Wednesday - I worked.
I exaggerate.... :)

No - seriously - I was home on Monday and I worked, but I ran my hiney off.  I had to meet up with the contractor in the morning about the bathroom.  Then I had to run downtown to one of my accounts to pick some stuff up.  Then I had to run back towards the office, but stop at a company/customer and pick some stuff up from there.  Then I had to run to the office and have a meeting (well, thanks to another meeting in the morning it evoked a meeting so I technically wound up with two meetings).  Then I had to leave the office and run home and get mama and then we drove out to Lake Zurich to The Tile Shop to finish some paperwork for the tiles.  Then I had to run mom back home and drop mom off and then I had to jump back in the car and run to the church for a pr search committee/elder combo meeting.  Then I got to go back home and go to bed :)

Tuesday I did some running around in the morning and some office work and then I had to get a flight to Atlanta where I then had to drive down to Macon.  

Beautiful downtown Macon was where I spent a good portion of my day on Wednesday.  I was able to spend an hour at a coffee shop doing some work and then got in the car to start my drive back towards Atlanta.  I got about 40 minutes from Macon and I realized that I'd left my wallet at the coffee shop and so I had to turn around and go back and pick up my wallet and then start off again.  I got to Buford - yes I said Buford - the name of a town in Georgia where I met my dear nephew Justin and his wife Jenny for dinner.  We had a great few hours together and then I had to drive over to Kennesaw, GA.  

Thursday I met a local friend for coffee in the morning and then had a meeting in the afternoon over by a hospital in Marietta.  Worked at a coffee shop for about an hour and then - heres the exciting part....
I GOT TO TAKE A BIKRAM CLASS!!!!!!  Its been so long (I think like a month - I didn't think that I'd be able to pull it off - I thought I'd be rusty - NOT).  I was in a studio in Atlanta area before, but this was a different one in Marietta.  I walked in and that subtle smell of feet, just put a smile on my face!  Then I went to put my mat down in the room and the heat hit me and I think I might have giggled a little.  So happy!  I have to admit - I rocked it.  And this is not bragging, this is sad, but I was definitely the hottest (excuse the pun) one in the class.  It really wasn't a fair competition though as most everyone else was a little more than paunchy and a little worse for the wear, if you know what I mean.  I'm not used to that - usually - there are some skinny, blonde, tan women who can bend over backwards and touch the baseboards with their nose.  I usually get a moderate self-esteem boost.  Tonight - no one could hold a pose, people were panting, water was being guzzled.  And I must admit, I didn't really totally sweat through my clothes so it wasn't even that really hot.  I loved it!  It felt so great to stretch out and feel some drippage again!

Tomorrow I'm headed over to Greenville.  Spartanburg to be exact, for a meeting and then I get to pop over to my cuz, Shelley's house.  I even get to stay at my nephew's place!

Farewell, Abby.... on with my week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Council Bluffs - It Ain't So Bad

Last week, my little break came when I was able to drive 2 and a half hours over from Omaha to Kansas City for a meeting.  There, I got to hang out with my niece.  It was good to see her as I haven't seen her since I put her on a plane in Italy to go to India where she resided for 6 months.  On a good note, she really doesn't look any different so 6 months in India didn't change her that much.  You can see an amazing family resemblance in our twinkling (or maybe its glowing?) eyes..... :)

I got to stay two night and then had to head back towards Omaha for some work in Lincoln, the second largest city in Nebraska (which its interesting when you literally know what the two biggest cities are because theres really nothing else).  As I was driving towards KS, I was talking to my BFF and mentioned that I had stayed "across the border" in Council Bluffs, as in I-o-way.  She then exclaimed that some of our friends lived there.  Ugh!  Didn't even know, otherwise I would have had someone to visit during my two boring evenings in Council Bluffs.

But, being that I had to go back, I planned to meet up with Jeananne and Dan on my last night there.  I got to meet up with Brittany for lunch and then I hit the road for the drive back.  Once again passing the booming and creatively named Missouri cities of....

And passed exciting scenes such as ....

When I got to Council Bluffs, I went directly to my friends house and was able to sit and chat with them for a bit.  They had actually been invited over to someones house for dinner and they had called before and their friends were like "tell her to come too!"  I was a little leery at first, I didn't want to intrude, but I did go as it had been about 13 or more years since I'd seen Dan and Jeananne and so I figured any time with them was good time.

Turned out pretty amazing as I got to know Council Bluffs a little better and was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I really liked the couple where we had dinner.  They were definitely Iowans, but they were the friendliest more welcoming people ever.  We had such great conversation and they were so welcoming.  The husband makes guns for a living, rifles and such, and so he was so tickled to take Jeananne and I out to his workshop to show us all his equipment and such.  I'm not into guns at all, but I can respect them and respect the people who so respect the guns.... if that makes sense :)  I know my dad would have LOVED to have seen his workshop.  Its definitely a craft and takes precision.  He had some old antique guns there, he had some from the 1800s.  He redoes old guns as well - I guess refurbishes?  Anyways, he was so proud of his stuff.  He didn't talk much at dinner, but we got him out to his workshop and he just excitedly took us all around and explained everything.  
We wound up back in the house catching and found out that they lived in one of the oldest houses in Council Bluffs, from the early 1800s.  Their last name was James and turns out he literally was related to Jesse James.  Don't know if thats a great thing, but its an interesting thing.  The husband was also part Indian (native American to be exact :)), actually Choctaw.  His mom was on a reservation and his dad met her when he was in the military - or something like that.

Long and short - I really like the down to earth Council Bluffs people - they make me a nicer person because its hard to be an angry, not nice person with people who are that pleasant!  I did get back in my car though, and drove off behind an Iowa license plate and gave a little curse under my breath --- they REALLY don't know how to drive....

Oh - the other interesting thing about Council Bluffs, and now I have to go back, is that the Union Pacific Railroad started in Omaha and the Union Pacific museum is in Council Bluffs.  It makes you see the area in a different light.  As I was driving through the fields and saw the expanse of railroad tracks just meandering through seemingly nowhere, it did give me this sense of the way American used to be.  Just open planes and fields and forests and when the railroads were built, just the areas that sprang out of that.  But for here and now, it was just still a track running to somewhere.  I would love to get back and see that museum.  
Coming home, it was to construction as the back bathroom is getting a redo after 39 or so years.  It was sad to see all the stuff go as it definitely is reminiscent of dad as that back bathroom was his domain.  The yellow cabinets and the brown countertop and those great little rooster tiles that mom was insistent added some character to the bathroom.  I'll miss that little shower stall that you could get in, but certain people had to soap up good to shoot out.  And that disgusting yellowed tile that rimmed the outside of the toilet base - now that - that was all dad!  Sad, but change can be good and I'm rooting for a good change - we'll see what it all turns out like.  Picking all that crap out (excuse the pun... :)) is HARD!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Leaving Omaha

Tuesday later afternoon, after a few calls, I hit the road and booked it over to Kansas City where I planned to work for 2 days.

It's about a 2 and a half hour drive. You go through cities called Oregon, Amazonia and Mexicon City in states labelled: Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. Travel the country in 3 "short" hours! Don't be excited - it all looks the same....

Ooops -spell check changed that last word to sane..... Apparently IPhone was not cognizant on our trip as it should have been INsane if anything....

Which is really meaning OUT OF sane.....

See below.....

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Not All Cornfields And Crows

So I'm in Omaha. We worked all morning and then my rep dropped me off at my hotel. Last night I got on at 10 and they never got the jet bridge to us until 10:30 and, because I had gotten to the gate so late, they had plane side checked my bag. So when they finally brought the jet bridge, she said, to make it easier for us (eye roll), they were just going to send all the bags to the bag carousel.

I've never seen an airport so busy at 11 at night, considering the size! We all made our way from the plane down to baggage claim and proceeded to stand for the next 30 minutes! What made it even worse was that 2 other flights had bags coming out before us. Washington DC and stupid Portland....:). And apparently Nebraska kids don't really place with those shape puzzles when theyre little because they kept sending out things on the regular nag claim that obviously would not fit and so they'd get stuck in the door coming out and the belt would run and then all of a sudden shut down and the red sirens and alarms would go off and then some disgruntled passenger would go over and free the item from the door somehow and the belt would start coming out again. I had a lot of time to stand and look at local ads and pictures. We all know Mutual of Omaha is here in lovely Omaha, but did you know Woodsmens Insurance is here too?! And from what I gathered, you don't have to be a woodsman to get their insurance - actually - there don't seem to be a lot of woods here in Omaha... It's intriguing....

Anyways - about 11:30 my bag came spinning out like it had never left my side. I uttered a complaint and confirmed in my head why why dont check my bag to begin with, and then I followed the signs marked Rental Car". I followed the signs and followed them (outside...brrrr...) and finally got to the Advantage booth where I discovered that I actually should have found the unmarked closet they were located in back at the terminal and they could have helped me there. I was not a fan of Advantage last night and so I went to Hertz and said "give me a car" (no please - no nothing - just give me a car...) and they said it would be $370 for the week. I had a rate of $114 from Advantage for the week. Do the math. But, it was late and cold so I got a hertz car for one day and figured I'd come back the next day for advantage since I'd be in the area.

That's what I did and I've just come from picking up a nice Passat with sirrius radio, which will be nice when I make the drive to Kansas City.

So my one comment about Omaha in the winter, to quote an episode of "Up All Night" that I just watched on the plane last night...
"Is there a bucket of guns to go with that mug of bullets?"
It's pretty desolate here in the winter. I've been in spring and summer, but winter... Help me... I'm getting clausterphobic because there's nothing but fields here. The downtown is the size of a thimble - I can't escape desolate and depressing.

And everywhere you turn, there's "a little bit of country"...

I picked up my car and was treated to some mighty fine bluegrass as all the presets were on country stations.

I am staying on Council Bluffs (Iowa that is) which is waaaaayyyyyyy worse than Omaha. My Nebraska rep says "Idiots Out Wandering Around" (get it - Iowa...:)) but it's Iowa so we don't expect much (sorry Kim - love ya in Chicago!:)).

Downtown Omaha in the revamped district is actually kind of cool. It's all these old factories converted to shops and there are brick streets.

TD Ameritrade has headquarters here. Century Link as well. And if Warren Buffet still has a house here and drives around in a pick up - Omaha HAS to be doing something right!

And then I found this amazing little cafe/bakery called Bliss. They make great con panne (which no one does cause it's a Europe thing) and amazing lemon cupcakes! Its pretty classy here.

But now I must close as my car is sitting on the street with 30 minutes dwindling down on the meter and I know they check as the rep I worked with today got a $16 ticket because she forgot to feed the Meyer.

I have 3 minutes left....

Back to Wandering Around with the Idiots....

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Very Religious Flight

It's Sunday evening, 9:16 p.m. to be exact. I've just boarded a flight as I have to be at an account at 8a.m. Monday morning. I actually got to the gate at 8:31, 9 minutes before the flight was supposed to leave at 8:40, and got a stern lecture on how I was late and doors close 10 minutes before departure and I'm lucky that she was letting me on. I board and sit down, 5 minutes later 3 more people get on. 2 minutes later 2 more people get on. Go figure! I wonder what their lecture was like?!

So I sit down in my seat and I notice the couple across from me is praying. It looks like she has chemo as she's bald and wearing a baseball hat. They finish a discussion and then they pick up books, he a devotional and she "The Shanty" which I've never read but know a lot of my friends have read. I presume they're Christians. I hear some men behind me talking about God and church and believing and I once again assume, Christians. I pull out my Bible to continue my O'Cheyne Challenge.

The last two gentlemen who got on both had the yamachas (how DO you spell that?) and those two nice curly locks on the sides of their head plus that black hat and those big black coats. I assume, Rabbis.

We go to take off and right before the plane lifts off, the guy in the seat across and one up from me does does the sign of the cross in a big, noticeable gesture. Catholic, I once again assume.

So my question is, what do you get when you put a Catholic, 2 rabbis and 5 Christians on a plane? I'm thinking A very religious flight to somewhere in the whole grain, Bible belted lower Midwest.... I'm thinking Omaha! Ye haw!

Oh - and I actually finished reading all my chapters for today and tomorrow as I know I'm going to lag behind this week. I'm pretty sure that I'll get to see my niece Brittany as I have a meeting I'm Kansas City that I'll need to drive over for. Right now I plan on being there for two days and I'm sure we'll party and I'll neglect my reading, so I'm doubling up when I can!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Years Resolutions

I don't do new years resolutions.  I figure if I've not done it in the past year, I'm not bound to start just because the clock struck midnight and I'm writing a different date on my checks now.

However, sometimes, I like to start new little traditions and try to start each day or month or something in a new way.  Sometimes, its just to see how long I can make it and I have that little tenacious part of me that holds on and keeps going.

Okay, the "book every month and post it thing"  didn't really take off with me but for about 4 months.  My "write a 10 sentence story every Friday and post it" thing didn't work for a long time either (although that blog still does exist and every once in a blue moon calls my name - and then I act like I didn't hear it....).  But, on the other hand, this whole blog thing has lasted for quite a few years and although I'm not completely regular with it, there are consistent posts and it does boost my confidence in my persistence with some good things.

So - in spirit of the fact that I can keep myself doing things that are good - and especially when I have accountability (like people who comment on my blog every once and again or send me an email that tells me they're read my blog :))....  I give you.....


My good and faithful friend Kim has challenged me to a little consistent Bible reading that she is doing in tandem with me.  Its a reading program created by this Scottish guy in the early 1800s, Robert Murray M'Cheyne.  Its a daily Bible reading that takes you through the New Testament and Psalms twice in a year and all the rest of the Bible once.   Theres also a devotional book by D.A. Carson, a professor at Trinity right down the road from us, which is written to coordinate with the M'Cheyne reading plan.  

She sent me this gift/challenge on New Years eve and I said "ok" and then I proceeded to not read the next day.  And the next day since I was driving home from NC, I didn't have time to read, and then the next day I was - um .... lazy ... and Friday I was downtown working from 6 in the morning until about 4 in the afternoon and then I went to have dinner with Kim -- so its kind of her fault that I didn't read that day.  So today, Saturday, after everything else that I've done to catch up on life, I decided I needed to catch up on the reading so I've just read to chapter 5 in the books of Genesis, Ezra, Matthew and Acts.  PHEW!  Its like marathon Bible reading.  But I'm now officially caught up and I know I'll have other days that I skip and have to catch up on, but  I have Kim who is reading this and is asking me and is talking to me so - there's my accountability.  I'm determined to stick with is because I want to and because I know I need it because I want 2013 to be an awesome year with everything that I have going on and I know I need God to give me the awesomeness inside, even when I know the awesomeness isn't going to always be around me outside.

Here's to new years resolutions....
And to sticking to them because your friends are challenging you to do so.....

Thanks Kim!

-- by the way - if anyone knows how to get my stupid Iphone to catch me up with my reading and put me on the days I'm supposed to be on rather than 4 days ahead - I'm open to suggestions!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Eve 2012

Happy New Years 2013!

We celebrated with a nice little dinner and just some sit around time on new years eve. Rang in the new year and then went to bed. But, it was nice to hang around with friends at this amazing place!

A Day At Biltmore - Takes Longer Than A Day At The Pittock "Mansion"

This is my bro and my mom at the Pittock "Mansion" in Portland, Oregon (last year).  A nice fancy big house up on a nice big hill with some nice land around.

This is my friend Cathy in front of the Biltmore "House" in Asheville, NC.  A nice big mansion on a hill with some 100 acres around.

You tell me which family had a bigger ego.  I mean a house that they call a mansion or a mansion they call a house.  I think Pittock "Mansion" has some 15 rooms.  Biltmore "House" has about 250 rooms.  I guess we'll agree they're both beautiful, but completely different :)  Anyways - theres nothing like going through Biltmore at Christmas time.  I wanted to do the candlelight tour this year, but ended up with the regular day tour as everyone else in the group hadn't been (well I think one person had been once before).  Theres nothing like seeing the sun set from the amazing windows that look out over the mountains.

Sunday the group did a tour of the house.  We had "day" tickets but weren't assigned times until we got there at 2:30ish.  Our time wasn't until like 4:15 so we had time to roam around the gardens and have a little lunch under the heat lamps in the carriage house garden.  It was a great time to just hang out together and get to know each other.

In the greenhouse down from the house.