Monday, October 31, 2011

They call me Doctor Love

So the day of Emily’s wedding, I woke up alert and with the BEST idea ever.  Did it come to me in a dream? A prophecy? That’s so Raven? Oh Snap?!

When I saw the bride I immediately said “ I know you have a lot on your mind right now, but I know what we’re doing for Halloween.”  Unfortunately we couldn’t talk about it at length, what with Emily having matrimony and veil placement on her brain. More on that pretty day here.

Meanwhile three months later and a few trips to the craft store, this epic group costume came to life, behold the masters of rock:


The spaceman, demon and star child.  Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssss!

My $6 silver leggings from ebay/korea came in the ta-da nick of time, which helped.  My tiny F21 dress was easy to sew fabric strips to, except for the three hours I wasted trying to make shoulder things stand upright like the actual Ace Frehley spaceman costume.  I gave up and went with epaulets.

But you wouldn’t even know from my expression.  I am the very picture of happiness.


It was a fun costume.  Although smiling didn’t look quite right and NOT smiling always looked so menacing.


Emily’s husband was a groupie.


She made herself a cape and a prosthetic tongue (on a stick) since her natural tongue extension would shame Gene Simmons.


It was a hysterical night.  I love Halloween!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Car Talk

Another major adult moment: Changing spark plugs after 108K miles.  From $100 at a mechanic down to the low low price of $27 from the auto parts store and twenty minutes worth of gratuitous thanking of my engineer boss.


In related news the Honda dealership gave me a bottle of engine coolant for FREE.  I have got some good car mojo happening.  This coinciding with a Halloween candy sugar high = me grinning uncontrollably and skipping around like a fool.  I like it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What’s in a name?


So mom and I have been on a mission lately to finally get me a sewing machine as my belated Christmas 2008 gift from Santa.  That’s a story for another day.  However while on Craig’s List looking to pick up a vintage Kenmore, I happened to spot a brightly colored piece of furniture that had my Pinterest heart all aflutter.  Aflutter I tell you.

So one week later a teal armoire was mine.  That’s right, teal. I love my apartment and continue to put my type-A tendencies to work to find creative storage solutions to a place without a proper closet. You know, like how I have socks in an ottoman next to my sofa.  Anywho.  Real furniture is expensive, and some assembly required furniture is pretty hit or miss in terms of style and proportion for me.  So imagine my delight when this very heavy real piece of furniture was only 100 smackeroos.  Smell ya later $1600 Anthropologie furniture.

The color is the best part.  Because it is the exact color of the high jump that took me six years to work up the nerve to jump off, I call it public swimming pool blue.

Where did I place this gem you ask? (pay no attention to my hasty (lack of) staging of the photo)


Bam, right when you walk in the door.  I relocated the singer sewing table (also acquired via Craig’s List) to live underneath the TV.  The wardrobe has three or four blue shelves currently housing vases, serving dishes, my Halloween costume and scraps of fabric for other projects.  The shelves are also tall enough to make a really fun Barbie house, which definitely did not go through my mind the first time my 28 year old self laid eyes on the interior.  Just saying.  It could have been the belated Christmas 1990 gift from Santa.


The woman I bought it from actually picked it up for free out of someone’s trash pile/yard and spent a month painting it blue and distressing it.  Formerly it was brown with gold hardware. Yowza. She learned that she had to move and was more than ready to get rid of it.  In turn, I was pretty eager to pick it up… figuratively, cause that mother was crushingly heavy. 

Now I am not someone who names things often.  Unlike, say, my sister who names anything she comes in contact with more than once.  That’s a lot to manage.  However this funky vintage piece in some way replaces the void left by the antique dress form that once called my apartment home.  RIP Beatrice.  So in keeping with the old lady moniker (those names are always the best, no?) I immediately thought of the name Gladyce.  Similar, starts with GLAD.  Hello who wouldn’t want to be greeted by something glad every time they walked in the door.


Except though it rolled off the tongue I had no idea how to spell it.  So I googled the first spelling that came to mind.


I thought all baby names were like ‘of the laurels’ or something equally as pleasant.  Not so much? Nothing wrong with being disabled, although that feels like sort of a harsh sentence to serve up to the ole girl.  We are just getting to know each other. While I was trying to convince myself that perhaps being disabled would make this antique piece one degree closer to being a Kennedy, I couldn’t resist clicking on the enticing Facebook link.


Bahahahaha.  I love it. 

Still I felt duty bound to explore other possible names.  How about the wardrobe from beauty and the beast? After all the ornate hardware could have been French in another life. Her name is Madame De Le Grande Bouche which literally translates to big mouth (she was the opera singer pre beast curse).  We do a lot of singing around my place, but five words is a lot to use when casually referring to an inanimate object.  



Or even from my now cancelled but beloved soaps, Opal from All My Children (full name Opal Sue Gardner Purdy Courtland).  She loves tacky jewelry and doctor phil-esque folksy sayings. I would love to come home to that, but my knowledge of her marriages would have me wanting to use all her names as well.


So there I was already calling the armoire Gladys.  The name stuck so I modified the spelling and I like to think that makes her a little more handi-capable.

Come over and see the pretty new blue piece of furniture!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hoooooooooooooooome on the Range!


So the other day Natalie let me come out to the ranch and ride one of the horses.  Topaz and I got along just fine, I think he even enjoyed the sweet music I was making in my attempts to imitate the season premier of modern family.  Oh man, I had a lot of jokes.


He responded by laughing. On the inside.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I left my rubles in Russia – part chetyre


So one day when pressed for time we popped in to a Sbarro Pizza place for a quick lunch.  Did I mention those things were everywhere? I mean, on many a trip to the mall growing up I have eaten a deliciously greasy ginormous slice of sbarro pizza, but I can probably count on one hand the places I have seen those things at home.  Not the case in Russia.  Considering we spent a great deal of time in tourist traps, I saw only 2 McDonalds the whole time, but probably saw a dozen Sbarros.  There were 3 in the Moscow airport and you could see all locations from one spot.  Madness I tell you. 


Anyway, there we were eating.  We had spent plenty of time seeking out unique restaurants during our trip, but like anything where you have to eat out ten days in a row, sometimes you just pick the place next door.  Inside and seated with our trays of food, we realized that the TVs above our heads were playing back-to-back-to-back Ace of Base music videos.  This was just awesome.  For one, I had no idea that they had more than a couple of hits, but when each new song would come along, we would happily hum along and discuss which skating rink or school dance that particular song represented to us.  As we were watching the bizarre cinematography, moody 90s attire (crushed velvet, leather, army boots, mullets) of this Swedish band of yore, it occurred to me that THAT was Russia as I had come to know and love.  Bowler was not as impressed with my ‘aha’ let’s-compare-the-whole-country-to-a-90s-band-generalization moment.  I’m just saying, it reminded me of some of the people watching in the city in a totally not a bad thing resemblance.  It was deliciously European. I loved it.

Ace Of Base - Don't Turn Around [1994]

But post lunch, we had some more exploring to do from inside the Kremlin walls!

 IMG_3020 IMGP6653 IMGP6654

Can you spot the Sbarro still stuck in my teeth? Many more rounds of pictures happened before this was acknowledged.  Points for Bowler for finally getting it off my tooth after about four minutes of me saying ‘and now did I get it?’ That’s friendship folks.


On some of the buildings in and just outside of the Kremlin (the Red Square/Kitay Gourd area), the construction was covered up by a false wall designed to look like the exterior of that building.  Seriously, can you tell that the picture below has not real windows and a crane peeking out from behind.  So much more scenic. 

IMGP6659 IMGP6661 IMGP6663

While in the Kremlin it was pretty limited with what we could see.  Only so many tickets were available to the exhibits in a few buildings.  If you weren’t there at the precise moment they went on sale, Nyet tickets for you.  One exhibit we were able to see however was the Diamond fund, which is basically the crown jewels for the last few centuries.  Holy smokes that stuff was magnificent.  Also if you make jokes with the hilarious Australian ladies in your tour group and raise your voice to laugh you will be promptly scolded in Russian.  Then you will get the giggles and it will be worse.  Those guards are all business.


And then of course we left a little time for some shenanigans before we left Red Square.

IMG_3069 IMG_3068




Next stop was a traditional Ukranian restaurant.  Complete with kitschy flair for us to use while dining.  You know we were all over that.

IMG_3082  IMG_3083 IMGP6678

We were famished by the time we sat down to eat and when bread and mystery dipping stuff was put in front of us we didn’t hesitate to dive in.  The proceeding conversation was all of us guessing the ingredients of the then unidentified dip which tasted like something delicious and fatty.  Was the base butter? mayo? ‘Guys, I looked it up in the guidebook, it’s lard’.  We all exchanged slightly grossed out looks, and then proceeded to eat some more. Fat is tasty stuff, no surprise there. 

IMGP6683 IMGP6681 IMGP6682

What was a surprise was my entree.  I was trying to order something intriguing with no guarantee on taste or presentation.  Nailed it. Our waiter brought it long before the other dishes and accidentally gave it to Bowler first. We looked at it with intense curiosity for like five minutes before asking the waiter what the onion/jello cake was.  Turns out, that was my order of ‘Herring in a fur coat’. It was a layered casserole of sorts, served cold, with the fish/potato mix on the bottom and layers of carrots, beets, and beet Technicolor sour cream on top.  Truthfully, it was kind of gross.  Cold fish in a non sushi type of plating was hard for me to wrap my mind around. 

Also, the sickly Bowler had ordered some sort of pear beverage with the hopes it might soothe her throat.  When the waiter enthusiastically recommended it after she pointed to it on the menu, he asked Rosley and I if we would like samples. He didn’t know tons of English, but he did use the word sample.  What the hell, we thought.  Then he brought us large steins (damn, not samples) of a root beer like concoction.  Maybe it was more like non alcoholic beer.  In any event, it was not a great pairing for a cold herring casserole.  It’s cool though, I ordered dumplings also and then helped myself to Bowler’s lard mashed potatoes.  Which were the stuff dreams and thunder thighs are made of. Holy moly was that good.

IMGP6684 IMGP6689


And with that meal (last supper?) our trip had come to a close and we headed back to the hotel for packing and an obscenely early wake up call for the train. 

I can’t say it enough, Russia was amazing, wonderful, fascinating, superlative superlative superlative. I am grateful to my friends who made this little adventure happen.  I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity and that all the stars aligned for such a fun and enriching trip.

I also felt like it was such a fascinating time to be visiting Moscow.  With communism now twenty years behind Russia, it seems like much had been developed to make the city like other major European cities (technology, global businesses, universal languages).  It felt like that place would have looked so different ten years ago and will look so different ten years from now.  And that my friends is the beauty of travel.  These foreign destinations put their imprint of that point in time in our passport, hearts, minds, and collection of fur hats (which has gone from 0 to 1).  You put your imprint, however incrementally, on the local economy and everybody is better off for it. Let’s go abroad again soon, da?


And now, for your moment of zen: Rosley  at the crack of dawn in Moscow with too-long pants that were tight rolled, her luggage backpack, duffle full of clinky vodka bottles and some industrial strength tobacco packed Russian cigarettes. A sight to behold. 




Monday, October 17, 2011

What is this, Russia? – part tri

So where were we? Oh yes. We had been having an amazing week in Moscow.  We had walked all over the place (I even wore out a pair of flats while over there), seen some touristy stuff and ate a whole bunch of food of varying levels of eye-brow raising texture and flavor.

But enough of the city life.  We longed for the fresh air of the country! For the rural Russia where subway systems and Japanese food were not so readily accessible.  Where we could hum ‘green acres’ and try to replace the words to something applicably Russian via our phrasebooks.  To Sergiyev Posad we went! 

This town lies along Russia’s‘golden ring’ which is made up of ancient villages between Moscow and St. Petersburg.  We took the train out of the city, without a map of the train system (it was by the grace of God that we finally found the right train to get on, and the train station itself for that matter).  We asked people around us, the best that we could, if we were in the right place.  When they made a stop and announced Sergiyev Posad (in Russian of course) we had mistakenly assumed we had arrived (not true, it was up next).  Getting off on the wrong stop was tricky because of course we had no phones, spoke no Russian and the further from the city we were lessened the chances we could find English speaking help if we needed it.  Also some of those rural stops were dirt tracks into a town (you hope?). In short, it was an adventure. So as we attempted to get off on the wrong stop, the Babushka (older lady) a step ahead of us literally shoved us back on the train as it started to move. We frantically repeated the name of the town (at that point the only thing we knew to say), and she pointed in the direction the train was moving.  And with that act of language barrier kindness we made it safe and sound to our destination.  God bless that woman wherever she is.

We actually had a few of people help us like that over the week.  A couple of times when we looked utterly lost and unabashedly tourist-like as we held up a colorful map of the city streets, someone would come up to us and point to the map then point to the street sign in whatever direction we were trying to locate.  All the while this good Samaritan would be unsmiling and looking like they could be cast in an Al Pacino movie where the character is incapable of being happy, wears a lot of leather and has a propensity for violence.  And yet, there they were helping us.  File that under not judging a book by its cover, sub-file cultural differences.

So once in Sergiyev Posad, we were wandering the streets from the train station and just generally walking towards the highest church dome we could see, we came across this beautiful sight:


and promptly inserted ourselves in the view:

IMGP6558 IMGP6560 IMGP6561

Does it now somehow remind you of Florence Italy? It did me, and made me hope to not wait another ten years to jump across the pond.  As we got closer we found vendors aplenty:

IMGP6564 IMGP6565 IMGP6566 IMGP6567

This village is actually the origin of the Matryoshka doll, there were tons from which to choose. Even ones with Putin’s face if you were so inclined.

IMGP6568 IMGP6569 IMGP6572 IMGP6575

This village also is home to the Trinity Lavra, home of the Russian Orthodox Church and their most celebrated Monastery. We weren’t allowed to take photos if they would include the Russian Orthodox monks (which as far as I could tell dressed similar to Greek Orthodox ones). Ladies also required head coverings.  Good thing it was chilly enough that day for all of us to be sporting scarves anyway.


IMGP6576 IMGP6577 IMGP6579

IMGP6580 IMGP6582 IMGP6584

Look at the tile work Dad! The inside of these buildings were exquisite and my ho-hum pictures couldn’t capture there glimmering artwork and history in a million years. You’ll just have to take my word for it. It was like being transported back in time, and the detail work was breath taking.  Within the cathedral you could light a prayer candle, so there burned one that day in honor of my Grandmas!

IMGP6591 IMGP6587 IMGP6593

We ventured out into the town for a little bit of the local fare.

IMGP6594 IMGP6595 IMGP6599

Which as usual included dumplings.  Man oh man do those Eastern Europeans love their dumplings.  As always it was served with a glob (which is like five dollops) of sour cream and lots of fresh dill.  I also had a Bliney which is somewhere between a crepe and a pancake.  No matter how you slice it (is thickness the difference?) it is good with Butter. Am I right?

IMGP6597 IMGP6600

Then it was back to the train station to begin the very confusing process of trying to decode the train schedule.  Eventually we asked enough people and jumped on a train that seemed likely.  The exhale we shared after the train started moving towards Moscow was loud.  Mission accomplished.


Also getting a mink hat? That mission was accomplished too!



Back next with part chetyre (4) the final installation of my Russian chronicles.

Dasveedanya my druz’ya!