And the weekend comes, the weekend comes (and goes)

Friday night Tim and I headed up to Mom and Dad’s.  It was a beautiful drive to Monticello, and it was great to see Mom and Dad again.  Seems like forever since we’ve been up there.  We had a good time – had supper together, played Tick (I think Mom won again, as usual), helped Mom tag some scrubbies and koozies for her upcoming craft show, and ate some of mom’s delicious jello cake (which she made especially for Tim since he always helps her with her computer stuff).

I also tried to help Mom organize her computer files.  They are currently all stored in her Downloads folder!  We made some progress, and I got introduced to Amigurumis, which are these awesome crocheted toys/dolls.  My mom even has a pattern for crocheted Brain Slugs (from Futurama).  Mom is going to make one for Tim, complete with a chin strap, so he can wear it on his head, in true brain slug style.  Maybe I’ll have to brush up on my crocheting skills, so I can start making these awesome toys.  So far, I’ve stuck to super simple blankets, all made with an easy-to-do slanted shell stitch.  Here is my most recent blanket, which I made for Lucent:

Mom found a bunch of this beautiful, super-soft green yarn at a thrift store, and it made a perfect blanket for Lucent.

We went to bed Friday night to the sound of wind playing the chimes, ala Twister.  We awoke Saturday to a super misty and beautiful morning.  I took a few pictures, but the camera cannot truly capture how pretty it was.

We got home from Monti around 3:30, and I was completed exhausted and hungry.  We tried out Kimchi Teriyaki at Five Points for supper, based on a recommendation from a friend.   We are looking for a GOOD Chinese restaurant, but they all taste the same – oily, salty, fried food.  Sometimes HyVee can be super good, but it’s not consistent.  We were hoping to find a consistently good place.  We thought Kimchi was just okay. Next time maybe I’ll work up the courage to try one of their Korean dishes.  They looked good, but I was wary because I’ve never eaten Korean, so I wasn’t sure what to get.

I don’t know if it was because I didn’t sleep in my own bed Friday night, or if my body rebelled against all the simple carbohydrates, but after supper, I was just super duper tired.  We watched 4 or 5 episodes of Archer (which is hilarious and super inappropriate).  I think we ended up going to bed at 7:30!!!  I didn’t wake up until 7 Sunday morning.  I was super tired all week.  Hopefully that 12 hours will get me back up to speed.

Sunday was a typical, nice, relaxing Sunday.  We went to the gym, bought groceries, did laundry, watched The Wrath of Khan – the usual.

And then the weekend was over.  I wish I lived in the alternate dimension where people work Saturday and Sunday and have Monday through Friday off.

I thought producing art was supposed to be relaxing…

Prior to this weekend, I hadn’t painted anything since I finished the sky/cornfield scene.  I was on vacation, then I took off a weekend, etc. etc.  I figured I should get back on the wagon before I forgot everything I recently learned (I’m getting my tenses confused here a little bit, please forgive me).  Well, I think it’s too late.  Or, maybe it’s not too late, I’m just too impatient.  I want to be awesome NOW.  I realize I’ve only painted 2 watercolors in my life, but I still want every painting I attempt to turn out fantastic.  But it’s not. or they’re not.  or whatever.

This was the first one I did this weekend:

It is based on another amazing Benny Hageman photograph.  At first glance, I thought this would be fairly easy to paint – it’s sky, corn, field.  But, cornfields have an amazing variation in color, but the variation is on a tiny scale.  I could get all the colors in there (orange, brown, yellow, purple), but not at the appropriate scale.  I tried flicking the brush to get tiny dots of color, but I ending up flicking orange into the sky.  And the sky, eff it, would not turn out the way I wanted!!!!  The colors would not flow together.  Argh.

So, I gave this one a rest and started on another I thought would be fairly simple – an orange & lavender sky with dark corn stalks in the foreground.  (Based on another Benny Boo photo).  Once I finished this one, I actually threw it away.  But, I pulled it back out of the garbage.  This is all about learning and getting better, right?  Maybe by keeping this one around, I can look at it and remember where I went wrong:

Primarily what went wrong was this – I got too impatient and just starting slapping colors on.  I did the sky first, and the colors didn’t flow together well at all.  And, I couldn’t get peach.  This sky is lavender and peach, and the peach was very elusive.  It was teasing me and mocking me and being very annoying.  I was also using “illustration board,” not watercolor paper.  It doesn’t take the paint as well as watercolor paper. Also, you need to tape off the edges because if the edges get wet, water gets between the layers and ruins the painting. When I removed the tape, I ripped a corner of the picture.

Before I put all my supplies away (or sold them on Ebay), I decided to do a little practice picture of Lucent.  Mom gave me a really nice set of Van Gogh watercolors (I had been using the basic 8 color Prang set that they have you buy for elementary school), so I pulled those out.  I wish I would have tried them sooner.  The very first color I tried was the perfect peach I needed for the sky.  Again, argh.

Anyway, I experimented with the colors and ended up with this:

I’m frustrated that nothing turned out the way it did in my head or in the pictures.  But at least I got some practice in, and I didn’t end up just watching 8 episodes of Bones this weekend!  I learned that I need to slow down and really focus in order to produce something of which I am really proud.

I need to start working on another house painting.  Today is nice and sunny, so maybe Tim and I can take a photography journey through Dport and see what inspiration we can find.

Treats, Precious?

I’ve read lots of articles about what NOT to Tweet or Facebook about (google “What not to tweet,” and you’ll see).  I agree with some of what those articles say – why anyone would update their status on Facebook to say, “On a conference call” is beyond me, but I’ve seen it done.  One thing I don’t agree with, however, is these authors’ railing against food updates.  I, for one, am super interested in what people eat.  I enjoy reading status updates/tweets about what people are cooking and/or eating.  I enjoy sharing what Tim and I are cooking/eating as well.  To get to the root of the matter, it’s probably my way of reducing my level of guilt about eating bad food.  And by bad food, I mean food that is bad for me, not food that tastes bad.  Although, I have shared that as well.  People in my social network are generally very supportive of bad food choices (probably because it makes them feel less guilty about their own bad food choices).  Maybe I am the anomaly, and other people don’t care at all what is going into my craw.  But, they do have the option of not reading my post, right?  So, I will continue to update the world on my eating habits.

For example, I think this is interesting.  I ate Mexican food not once, but twice yesterday.  And I ate it the day before as well.  This situation was not really of my own engineering.  On Thursday, I got invited out to lunch, and the invitor wanted Mexican, so Mexican we ate.  We ate at La Guadalajara, which is a passable joint in the town in which I work.  I tried their chicken torta (for anyone who doesn’t know, that’s a Mexican sandwich that’s built using a huge bun. It’s slathered with refried beans, grilled chicken, jalapenos, cheese, onions, avocado, and Oh yes, mayonnaise).  I wanted to compare their torta to the gold standard – El Olmito’s.  I tell you more about that later.  La Guadalajara’s torta was good, but not awesome.

On Friday, one of my old friends and former workmates made the 45 minute drive to have lunch with Laura and me.  We just had to take him to El Olmito, so he could try the famed sandwich for himself.  Plus, Laura is preggers and overworked, and the only treatment for that is a big, fat El Olmito torta. So, I had to eat Mexican yet again.  But, man, was it delicious.  El Olmito tortas are a thing of legend.  They use all the same ingredients as La Guadalajara, but it is just so much better.  They also have two types of hot sauce/salsa – red and green, that put the sandwich over the top.  It was delicious.  Everyone thought so.

Tim had to work last night, so I walked to meet him at Brady Street Stadium.  We wanted to eat at a place within walking distance, so our options were limited.  We just ate at Filling Station last week, so we went to Los Agaves.  The food was fine, not awesome.  I don’t think that any food that comes out 5.6 minutes after you order it can blow your mind.  We wish there was a more authentic Mexican restaurant in the Quad Cities.  The closest we’ve ever found is La Primavera, which, like El Olmito, is a little restaurant in the back of a Mexican grocery store.  I haven’t eaten there for years, ever since I stopped working in downtown Moline.  I’ve heard their tortas are super good, too, though.

So, it’s Saturday.  I probably shouldn’t eat Mexican again, unless I plan on exercising for 4 hours today.  Maybe we’ll grill out.  It’s looking like a beautiful day, so that would be perfect.  First of all, however, I need to make some breakfast.  We have delicious refrigerated english muffins that are just waiting to be toasted, drizzled with olive oil and topped with smoked salmon and poached eggs sprinkled with sea salt.  Delicious.

For anyone reading this who doesn’t know me, I want to clarify that I am not super fat.

You’ll note I categorized this post under “Health and Fitness.”  That is solely done to irritate someone – you know who are.

Ut oh

Today is such a beautiful day that Tim and I decided to exercise outside instead of at the gym.  Tim ran for a solid 2 miles, and I ran about 1.75 miles – not bad at all for our first outdoor run of the Spring!  Admittedly, my first run of the season is always good.  I think it takes my body by surprise, and ignorance is bliss.  After the first run, my body remembers how bad I feel the day AFTER that first run, and it doesn’t treat me as well during my successive attempts.

Once we got home, I really wanted to take full advantage of the good weather, plus I was already in my workout gear, so I pulled my awesome new bike up from the basement and set to filling up the tires.  I have Presta valves on my tires, and our standard pump didn’t work on them, so last year we got a mini pump.  I think the mini pump is intended just for emergency fillings, however.  Pumping a completely flat tire with a tiny pump is exhausting (especially after a 2 mile run), and it’s hard to work the angles.  I was pumping at an angle (man, that doesn’t sound good), and when I pulled the pump off the valve, the tip of the valve was bent.  Tim tried to straighten it out, and in the process the tip of the valve broke clean off.

Needless to say, I was devastated, “Oh no!!!!”  I literally felt like crying.  Instead I threw up my hands, shook my head, lamented how the world hates me and went and raked 1/2 of the front yard.  I realize my reaction was not in keeping with the inconsequentiality of the situation, but that was how I felt.  While I was busy taking my anger and frustration out on the front lawn, Tim calmly pulled the tire off the bike, pulled the tube out of the tire, bought a new tube, installed it, and presented me with a completely fixed bike about 40 minutes later.  He is generally pretty patient with my outsized reactions to annoying situations.

I tried to work myself out of my inexplicable bad mood as I cycled around the bike path.  I did a pretty good job until I encountered those stupid people who have no bike-path etiquette – the cyclists who INSIST on riding side-by-side on a 6 ft wide path, the parent walking down the exact middle of the path with their stroller, the oblivious wanderers, etc.  Overall, though, the ride did help me get into a better mood.  The sky is blue, the grass is green, everything is budding and beautiful, I don’t live in Juarez, life is good.

It’s only 2:30 PM, so we have a good portion of the day left.   Might do a little shopping (I really want (don’t NEED) a new Hobo wallet), maybe get a drink at the Great River beer garden, maybe start a new painting.  I’m getting 8 of Benny’s excellent landscape photographs printed out, so I’ll have plenty of templates.  Maybe I’ll start on this guy:

I need to do another house painting before I forget Tom’s lessons, but I have to get some good pictures first – ones with good light and shadows.

I’m afraid I’m going to be miserable tomorrow once my overly active today settles into my 33-year-old bones – I’m already nursing blisters and a sunburn from raking.  I best get as much done today as I can.

Hope you have a great weekend!

A commentary on workout clothes

I went for a walk after work tonight.  I really didn’t want to.  I had a headache that had been plaguing me all afternoon (damn you SharePoint training in a super hot room!), and I was h u n g r y.  However, I got home a little early ’cause of being in training, and the weather was warm, and I didn’t work out this morning (still massively struggling with getting back into my routine), so I decided I best get some exorcise.  I slapped on my go-to workout outfit – black Nike T and black Champion knee pants.  Note I say “knee pants,” not “capris.”  There is a huge difference.  At least to me. I am very prejudiced against capri pants in any form – workout or otherwise.  I know people love them, but there is something about a pant leg stopping right at the largest part of my calf that I just don’t think looks good.

I guess that’s my first rant against workout clothes – too many capris.

My second rant is about grey sweats.  I understand why people wear grey sweats.  They probably don’t attract the massive amounts of heat that my ninja outfits attracts.  Plus, sweats are supposed to be grey, right?  WRONG!  For some reason, the shade of grey found in most workout clothes always seems to be tinged with yellow.  It’s as if the clothes are already soaked in a sweaty concoction.  It grosses me out for some reason.  One of my strengths (according to this book) is an intense appreciation of beauty.  I need lots of beauty in my life to be truly happy.  So, you see, I’m not being shallow by dissing peoples’ sportswear, I’m just “playing to my strengths.”

I saw the most priceless outfit on the bike path today.  It was worn by a very fuzzy gentleman in his late 50s or so.  He was on a bicycle.  His legs were robed in cranberry colored shorts (long shorts, fortunately), and his exceedingly hairy back and arms were tucked into a baby pink A-shirt.  A pink shirt and cranberry shorts!  It was awesome.

Despite the unappetizing sports gear on display this afternoon, it was an extremely good walk.  I was one of the few people walking on the path; almost everyone else was jogging.  It was very motivational.  I subscribe to the Runner’s World blog for beginners in my Google Reader feed, and they had this encouraging post about how to train for a 1/2 marathon.  Evidently it’s possible for an average human being to run 13 miles (after some training)!  I still am unable to run 3 miles without stopping, but someday, I just might try to do a half marathon.  I’m afraid it’s a slippery slope, however.  One day it’s a 1/2 marathon and the next day, I’m vomiting my guts out after running continuously for 2 hours and my skin looks like a pear that’s been left in a dresser drawer for 3 months.

Anyway, back to my original point, I’m very glad I got myself out for a walk today.  My headache went away, and I have tons of energy.  Look at me, it’s 9:11PM, and I’m still up!!

Cocoa Beach

Tim and I returned from Cocoa Beach on Friday, around 5PM.  We had an excellent trip, but it sure was nice to get back home again!

Here is a link to my Picasa Web Album with a few pictures from the trip.

We got off to an inauspicious start on Saturday.  Tim went out to load up the car, only to discover that the battery was dead.  *Somebody* (me) left the lights on all night.  I swore up and down that kids must have gotten into the car and turned the lights on as a prank.  I couldn’t have left the lights on – the car buzzes at you if the keys are removed from the ignition, and the lights are left on.  Anyway, it wasn’t a big deal – Tim jumped the Civic, tossed the cables in the car, and we took off.  After an uneventful 12 hour drive, we rolled into Kennesaw, a suburb of Atlanta.  We got supper (the first of many very unhealthy, late meals) at The Varsity.  It reminded me of Maid Rite, only much brighter and huger.

When we woke up on Sunday, it was raining lightly – no big deal, we figured it would burn off.  It didn’t.  It rained all the way to Florida.  It got so bad at one point, that we pulled off and watched an episode of Futurama on my iPod Touch.  We waited about 1/2 an hour and took off again, rolling into Cocoa Beach around 6PM on Sunday.

We stayed at La Quinta Inn – Oceanfront.  It is a really nice hotel – right on the beach, nice p0ol with “Tiki” bar, accepts pets for no additional fee, each room has a balcony with a view of the ocean, and the rate was reasonable for an oceanfront property.  Despite the weather, I wanted to head out to the beach and check it out ASAP.  Fortunately, Tim turned on the TV and discovered that we were under a tornado warning!  We went to the Front Desk to see where we should go.  As the whole lobby area was surrounded by glass, they directed us back to the bathroom in our room.  We anxiously watched the news and the thrashing palm trees outside our window – I made some last calls to my family, told them I loved them, gave Benny my purse collection should we not make it back, etc.  About 6:45 the warning expired with everyone and everything in Cocoa Beach intact.  The rain didn’t let up until about 1:30PM on Monday, however.

We discovered that there is not a whole lot to do in a beach community when the weather is bad.  We got breakfast at a lame coffee shop (Cocoa Beach does NOT have good food, BTW), bought some flip flops at Ron Jon’s, got soaked while walking through Lori Wilson park, and returned to the room.  When the rain finally started to recede, we got on our bathing suits and hit the beach for about an hour.  Tim wore his hoodie and read from his Sony eReader.  Obviously, he is not much of a beach person.  I attempted to read (I’m reading Daemon by Daniel Suarez), but I kept getting distracted by people watching.  The people watching was EXCELLENT!  I wish we had our camera on the beach with us because there was this tall white dude with a belly who had on the very teeny tiniest pair of speedos I have ever seen.  He had absolutely no butt at all.  It’s a good thing the elastic was holding up.  He was absolutely  not self-conscious in the least.  I was envious of his complete disregard for any one else’s opinion.  It was fascinating.  He was just one of many interesting people to watch.

For supper we went to the 3rd restaurant of the day that was closed on Mondays.  We tried to go to Simply Delicious Cafe & Bakery for breakfast – closed.  We tried to go to Roberto’s Little Havana for supper – it closed at 3 on Mondays.  We tried to go to Seafood Atlantic for supper – it was closed on Monday and Tuesdays.  Florida was really starting to tick us off.  We ended up going next door to Grills Seafood Deck.  We sat outside, got the fish of the day (Mahi Mahi for me and tuna for Tim), which was tasty, and had a couple of Konas.  Despite having to protect our heads from the aggressive black birds flying about, we had a very pleasant supper.

The weather on Tuesday was beautiful – mid 70s and sunny.  We packed up Lucent and headed to Orlando.  We dropped Lucent at the Pet Care Center at SeaWorld and took off exploring.  We split a roasted turkey leg, which was delicious albeit super sticky and greasy, saw sharks, manatees, killer whales, dolphins, exotic birds, sting rays, etc.  We got to see the Believe killer whale show.  It is completely amazing what those whales can do.  The people portion of the show is pretty lame, but the whales were amazing.  They break-danced, for goodness sake.  They also had an excellent sense of comedic timing for splashing unsuspecting mom-togrophers down in the Soak Zone.  About 7 minutes into the show, the trainers had to take a break from the normal show because one of the whales was not doing what he was supposed to.  The trainer explained that when the whales don’t behave as trained, they take a break, let the whales play, and then see if they are ready to perform.  We wondered if they were being extra cautious because of this.  The show resumed after a few minutes, and it was definitely worth the wait.  We also caught a side viewing of the dolphin show, which involved Cirque du Soleil-type acrobatics and costumes and huge, exotic birds.  We didn’t get a seat in the auditorium, so we couldn’t see everything, but it was still fun to watch.

After our full day at SeaWorld, we picked up Lucent and walked back to the car.  As we got closer, I used the remote start key fob to unlock the car.  When I pressed the button, the fob just buzzed at me, as if it couldn’t find the car, even thought I knew we were just yards away.  My heart sunk as I realized why the fob wasn’t working – the battery was dead again.  The buzzer in the Civic that tells us the lights are on was broken.  That’s what happens when you get reliant on technology – you get screwed when it doesn’t work.  We have roadside assistance through our insurance company, so I called them, and within 20 minutes a super nice guy from Pop A Lock was jumping our car, and we were off to the Cirque du Soleil show.

We were running a little late, so we skipped supper and just grabbed a beer at House of Blues and chilled for a while listening to the live music.  We queued up for the show at 8:30PM and made it into the show right on time.  The show was tremendous.  I really can’t use enough superlatives to describe it.  It had amazing trapeze artists, acrobats, trampoline artists, singers, musicians, freestyle bikers (one on a BMX bike and one on a mountain bike), jugglers, etc.  The show was only 1.5 hours – you would think that for your $90 ticket price, you would want more entertainment, but Tim and I both agreed that 1.5 hours of the show is about all your senses can take – the stage is constantly full of colorful movement and gravity defying stunts.  There is no way to even begin to see everything that is happening.  It was absolutely amazing.

The weather on Wednesday was excellent again.  Tim and I spent the whole day on the beach – Tim huddled under the shade of the umbrella and me basking in the sun (under multiple layers of sunblock).  Again, Tim read his e-Reader, and I sat on the lounge chair with Daemon in  my lap, watching the people and the ocean.  The water was pretty cold, but I eventually got in anyway.  I only get to the ocean once every other year or so, so I have to take advantage.  As I waded out to the breaking waves, something hit my neck.  I looked up, and saw that a huge bird was trying to snag me with fishing line!  I swatted away the line and saved myself.  I body surfed the waves for about 15 minutes, and then spent the next hour trying to warm up.

We got some sushi and Thai for supper and then headed out to the Pier for some couples shots (see the photo link), some Presidentes, and some ocean watching.  It was a very relaxing end to our vacation.

We decided to leave Cocoa Beach at 8AM in the morning, hoping that would get us through ATL before rush-hour struck.  We were horribly wrong.  We hit ATL at 3:15 and ground through the city for the next 2.5 hours.  I had heard that Atlanta traffic was bad, but I didn’t appreciate how bad it truly is.  I think it will be years before either one of us is ready to face city traffic again.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

We made it to our hotel in Nashville around 9PM and back to Dport at 5PM on Friday.  Tim and I both agreed that while traveling to new places and seeing new things and people is interesting, coming home from being away for a few days is even better.  It is so sweet to be back at home, back in our own bed, back in our relaxing routine.