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Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Cat

(Note: I'm woefully far behind on the truly fabulous time I've been having these last couple weeks. I'll get to it, really. In the meantime...)

So Pixel has been notifying us that with Rick working full-time and me still working full-time, he's not getting enough play time or snuggles. Mostly this has taken the form of 3am toy deliveries in bed and 4am snuggle attacks, both with the "But I don't care that you were sleeping. I ~needed~ snuggles/play NOW!"

So thinks us, after Christmas, maybe we'll go cat shopping, see if we can find him a companion, someone to play with him at 3am who doesn't have to get up at 7 to get to the office. (I'm sure we're not getting out of the snuggle assaults.)

On Thursday, Rick decided to stay home sick and try to beat the cold that's been dogging him. It's been one of those, "Oh, I'm feeling better. Oh wait, nevermind." colds. So he slept. Then he got up and slept some more on the sofa. Then I fed him pizza (per his "I'm sick and I want this" request) and we lounged on the sofa watching Joan of Arcadia (since disk one of season two finally arrived via Netflix) and napped. So the final episode on the disk is called "The Cat" and it's the one where god makes Joan adopt a cat. So we're watching this, and getting the hankering, and after it's over, I ask Rick if he wants to visit the Humane Society. After 15 hours of sleeping/napping, he's totally up for that. Off we go, to browse the cages and see if Pixel's perfect match is available.

We walk into the first room and while we're petting Ned, a little ginger boy who isn't quite as cute as Pixel, there's this cat at the end of the row sticking her arms out. So we walk over and pet Sabrina. She's aggressively friendly. She throws herself against the bars to get scritched. She's playful. She's been there since October. We're pretty taken, but there's four more rooms of cats. There's this adorable threesome of kittens - Peanut, Cashew, and Bear, two orange short hairs and a black short hair. Bear and Cashew are curled up together. We walk in and Peanut immediately starts purring. Bear starts licking Cashew. They all look up and Peanut and Cashew reach out paws toward us. We scratch Peanut's chin and Bear and Cashew snuggle each other. These are three kittens that shouldn't be separated. We can't be the crazy cat people. Moving along...

We wander through the rest of the cages. There's Jennie, the goofy grey kitten who rolled off the edge of her perch for the sake of attention, right onto poor Howie below who looked terribly put upon. There's Elliot, a blue eyed guy who rolls on his back when you talk to him. There's Saskia the little black kitty who loves to lick your hand. There's Wolfie, the big black kitty in the pen with Felicia, who loves to get petted, and gets jealous when you try to pet Felicia instead.

There were so many of them just dying for a home. Sabrina and Ned have both been there since October. If they'd let us take one home that night, we would've. Instead we went back to the beginning to pet Sabrina and Ned again. Sabrina reached out and held us again. Rick was falling for Ned before Sabrina started playing with him just like Pixel. Ned was sweet and gentle, but Sabrina would make a perfect addition to the household.

So we made and appointment for next week with the adoption counselors.

And today we went to see Happy Feet with Kevin and Rachel. On our way home, we decided to drop in on Sabrina and see if she was still as irresistible.

She was gone. Adopted. So was Ned. So were the Peanut and Cashew, and Bear was just being picked up by his new owner. And Jennie had an I'm Adopted stamp on her paperwork. About half the kitties were gone in two days. It was amazing. So, we missed out on Sabrina, but we'll check back again soon. We met an adorable cat named Ted today. One of the volunteers begged us to take him home so she wouldn't have to. He's been there since August, and he's the sweetest guy. He's a lap cat who loves having his belly rubbed. He was sharing a small room with three other cats and they didn't bother him in the least. But he wasn't especially playful, so he may not be a good match for Pixel. Anyway, it was kind of a relief to go back and find so many of the needy kitties having found a home.

Monday, December 18, 2006

In other news...

Stephen posted a video from the Browncoat Ball of the Sir Warrick Harrow, a dance based on the Duke of Kent, with variations to include a Shindig feel. Joan Walton did a fabulous job on this, and I hope we'll get to dance it again at the Space Cowboy's Ball in June. It really was one of the crowning glories of the event.

Love and Marriage and Tickets to England

So no shit, there we were getting married by Dr. Murgatroyd in the streets of London.

Wait, let me back up a bit.

There I was being pulled apart by Ebeneezer Scrooges, with Ebeneezer pulling my right arm and Ebeneezer pulling my left arm.

No wait, further back.

So there I was, being offered a ticket to England by the elder Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Okay, let's face it - no matter how you slice it, going back just isn't going to make it make sense. You see, every Sunday, the now-redeemed elder Mr. Scrooge comes back to Fezziwig's, asks for forgiveness, and gives the younger Mr. Scrooge a bit of advice about what to do with the holiday season - spend time with your loved ones rather than frantically trying to spend money on them. Usually it's good advice. Sometimes Martin rambles a little. Last night, things went completely starkers. Usually I stand on the sidelines, waiting for a cue to come in, forgive the elder, and be handed back to the younger when he admits he should value me a little more than mere money. It started out like that, and then Martin (the elder Ebeneezer) suggested that he bought two tickets to England (where Martin really lives) and I should go with him because he had more money than his younger self anyway. Things went a little wacky from that point on. I mean, first of all, we're already supposed to be in England. Later on, it finally came to both of them literally playing Belle tug-of-war. My younger Ebeneezer suggested we could get married now. I suggested "And go to Paris." He said yes and I pulled away from the elder, and Major Fezziwig jumped in and said, "Yes! Go! Run! Now!" and off we went. So as carol out parade left the warehouse, we asked Dr. Murgatroyd to marry us. We hurried him up as the parade approached, and we spent about 25 seconds as the happiest newlyweds ever, before Erik had to grab his things and catch his ride. So, yeah, crazy times. But y'know, I love Dickens Fair. Anything can happen.

Friday, December 15, 2006

TJ's in Berkeley

Back in October, I went all ranty about Berkeley and the pending Trader Joe's. I'm now happy to report that Berkeley will be getting a Trader Joe's of their very own in 2010, assuming the appeals don't win out. Y'know, I think I'll plan to be there cheering on the opening of that Trader Joe's three years hence, probably eating a truffle or two right there in front of the store. There goes the neighborhood!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

NPR Covers Waltzing

The Waltzing for Health story reported here a month ago hit NPR's Morning Edition this morning. The only question now is whether or not this will be like Irish dancing or swing dancing back in 1995 when suddenly the whole world wanted to be like those Riverdance folks. I'm not sure what kicked off the swing dance fad since the Gap commercial didn't come along until 1998, and I definitely remember it kicking off in force in early '96. Well anyway, I guess our little secret is out - there is a form of exercise that's more fun than a trip to the gym to hunch over a stationary bike for a spinning class or to pass many imaginary miles on a treadmill. Will Friday Night Waltz be the next health craze?

"She won't take much more of this!" -- Scotty

There comes a point every year where I start to lose cohesion. Ordinarily I can keep it all in my head - all the events and dependencies and things I have to do and things I have to bring and so on. My lifestyle pretty much depends on my being able to keep this swirling matrix in focus. But every year, right about this time, I lose it.

Yesterday I came to work without my computer. It was still sitting cheerfully on my desk at home where I was using it to print out recipes the night before. So home I went again to collect it.

I did remember to bring some cookies for a former building-mate I was having lunch with at noon. Well, I remembered to bring them to work. Then I bicycled over to the Treehouse for lunch, got all the way there and then remembered the cookies were on my desk. Le sigh. Back I went.

Last night driving home, I figured that if I went and picked up my new glasses tonight, I could get them, come home, fold laundry, move the hooks on my Dickens skirt and still get to bed at a vaguely reasonable hour. This morning I rose and got dressed thinking all I really needed to focus on today was my 2:00 meeting. Be ready for that, be ready to answer all the questions, and then wrap it up and head home. Good plan.

Only tonight is the department Christmas party. I completely forgot. I'm dressed in orange and black. I had been thinking yesterday morning about wearing a red sweater, but that completely left my head.

And there's just too much to do and not enough time to do it in and still sleep. It's that sleep part that keeps getting short-changed, which is possibly why I'm all scattered, except that I do that other times of the year, and don't end up with these results. I guess Dickens Fair just eats my brains. This is something I've been long familiar with, but every year I think, "I'm planning for this. It will all be fine. It will be smoother this year. I have years of experience with this." And every year I end up completely blundering through the weeks between the third weekend and Christmas.

Anyway, I'm much looking forward to feeling competent again. I know it'll come back, probably in January. But right now, I don't trust me. Trouble is, everyone else still does. They don't know I'm not as bright and capable as normal. I hate to risk disappointing them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Baking and Laundry and Dancing - Oh my!

Monday was supposed to be a mellow day off. Just a little baking, some laundry, and go to the Plough.

A little baking was a lot of baking, and a lot of trips to the store, and one burned hand, and well, I missed the lesson, but by 8:00, I was ready to abandon the rest of the ginger snaps in favor of going to dance.

On the way up, I remembered I was supposed to talk Erik into heading to the Plough since he didn't have to teach and didn't have fencing. I called and said, "Hey, I forgot to remind you, and I'm totally running late." He said, "Well, it's a good thing I'm not at the Plough then." I said, "Ah, well yah. So I'll see you Friday or Saturday. Have a good evening."

Got to the Plough just as they were about to start Haymaker's Jig, so not too late. Greeted Quinn, then saw Erik two couples down. Something starting with a W leapt out of my mouth. It might have been "what" or "wait", but it really was just some proto-verbal state of shock. Turns out, no, he wasn't there when I talked to him, but he was on the way. Well alrighty then. Add to that Auntie Alex and Quinby and all sorts of folks present and accounted for, and birthday cake for Rene and Greg and it was all the makin's for a lovely night at the Plough.

So then John called a reel-a-thon, and I set up with Bob and Alex and Eden. Bob was calling in random order. Really terribly random. We did all the pieces, but in no particular order. Lead around was followed by Forward Kiss from Bronwyn was followed by the body of Ironhand followed by the first figure of Four Hand Reel. Egad. It worked, but really made you stay on your toes. We only blew one figure, so I call it a win. Next time he says he's going to try it in reverse. We'll see how that goes.

And John was calling a pretty perfect set for my tastes. I got a Hallucination Jig followed by Fairy Reel followed by waltzing then Trip to the Cottage (my favorite traditional Irish dance) followed by Waves of Tory (which gave me a minute to sit down, because Waves of Tory is evil) followed by High Caul Cap.

Also, Erik has truly astounding powers of following. We dragged him through the High Caul, and it didn't really look like dragging. He'd never done it before, but he did okay, even managing the M-F. Pretty cool.

And I finished up the baking and bagging last night and we delivered cookies and zucchini bread to all of our neighbors. One thing off the to-do list. Now I just need to figure out what to get my cousins for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dickens: Week 3

It was a lovely weekend at fair. I think my favorite part was dancing with little Sunny, who decided I was more fun to dance with than mommy or daddy. Who can resist that?

Also, Mr. Charlie Dickens (Dickens eldest son) gave me two baggies full of yummy perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookies on Saturday morning. I stuffed them into my jacket as the world's lumpiest breast implants and headed back to the warehouse with my mush and coffee in hand. After eating my mush, I started sharing cookies with those who came seeking or looked like they could use a cookie. Yummy cookies, and much joy was shared.

At four, I went to the Naughty French Postcards and got to see this year's version. Good show, including Mrs. Fezziwig. She managed to avoid giggling even when someone called out in their best, most shocked tone, "Mrs. Fezziwig!"

Arthur came down to the Dickens parlor with me at five on Saturday and played Vampire. While I sat quietly, Arthur ended up dying repeatedly either as the vampire or victim in every round. I suspect he'll be ready to go back again sometime.

Saturday after fair, the fair hosted an 80's party at Fezziwigs. We decided to stay for a bit, see how it was, probably head out around 9. We finally left a bit after 10 because the party started slow, and got much better as it went on. Just when we'd think, "Okay, time to go" they'd play something irresistible. I mean, who could walk out on "Come on Eileen"? So, we stayed out too late, and drove Rosie home, and finally made it back to home having had no dinner. Not a good thing to do to my poor wee body, but a little food, a couple ibuprofen, and a good night's rest and all was forgiven.

On Sunday, I had one of those days of nagging nuisances, starting with being unable to find my head doily, and with the most noisome problem being parking at the Cow Palace. This year they decided to park the participants in one of the paddocks. I dutifully parked there the first weekend, and came out that Sunday night to hop over puddles into the mud to get to my car. Since then, I've refused to park in Lake Cow Palace. On Sunday, I apparently chose poorly because Joel came to find me saying that that Hill/Fezzis car needed to be moved. Ugh. There was no one directing traffic at all in the morning, and they waited an hour and a half after I got there to let me know I couldn't park there. With much annoyance I told Joel that I would see about moving it, but that it would have to wait til after tableau. I know they want to keep good parking for the patrons, but by god, if we're paying for it (which we are), I don't want to be parked in a mud puddle or behind an unlit building or anything else. I want decent, respectful parking. Oh well. So, walking back in, I told myself I would not be a third weekend grumpy butt and forcefully put myself back into good cheer. The day did keep nagging at me, with my hair clip going missing, thankfully turning up again, but having been trod upon. We also got some lovely proof sheets of photos from Chris White, one of the Dark Garden photographers. I'm much looking forward to having copies to share, but I tucked them under a chair on the stage, and they went missing (even with my name on the envelope). But at the end of the day, a bunch of folks headed to BJ's for dinner, and I decided I should join them. Yummy pizza was consumed, but better than that was that the pub wanted us to dance again. Last week, a bunch of folks went and they were the hit of the night, and they asked us to come back again. So all-in this time, because what any good Fezziwigger needs after two days of dancing and a Saturday night dance party is some more (Irish) dancing. So there we are doing High Caul Cap and the song ends and we all settle back to chairs, and the very next song is the Safety Dance. We all start laughing. Tox says, "What?" and then the lyrics fill him in on the joke:
We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
'Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance
Well they're no friends of mine

'Twas a good weekend all in all. I'm feeling the pinch of the season, where things are sliding through the cracks at work, and I'm glad there's only one full week of work left before the break because I think I can mostly make it. The one thing that just isn't going to get done is Christmas shopping. I think I'm going to start a tradition of either Halloween presents or New Year's presents or some such. Still, must find something nice for my cousins at least. We'll see what happens.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Nodding Off

It's been a long time since I've fallen asleep in class, but I did it today.

I went to a presentation from 2 - 3:30 on Adobe Contribute and Captivate. The presenter started off being unclear on whether he had 2 hours or an hour and a half, which was not a good sign. He asked which we preferred to hear about first. I and the majority voted for Captivate, but he went with Contribute anyway. Why these two were grouped together I'll never know. He then went on for an hour and fifteen minutes about Contribute, and I'll never use it. After 40 minutes, I was sleepy. So, I propped myself up, and let myself sleep. Fifteen minutes later I woke up refreshed and ready to hear about Captivate, but he nattered on for another fifteen minute until someone said, "Are you going to have time to cover Captivate?" And then he said, "Oh yes, I'm just wrapping up. Oh. Oh. Well, I'm running out of time. Let me just show you a few other things." And then went on for five more minutes. AAAAAARRRGH! Finally he gave a quick, underprepared look at Captivate, and I'm back to my desk knowing something less than one thing more about Captivate. Oh well. At least the nap was refreshing enough to get me through the last of my day.

A Weekend in Corsets

My past weekend seemed to revolve around corsets a bit. Saturday afternoon, just before heading out to Dark Garden to model in the window, Nicole stopped by with my pretty new corset in hand. It's blue with gold and just gorgeous. But instead of lacing into that scrumptious new treat, I headed down to Dark Garden with many props in basket. Laura saved us that morning when I came to pick her up, having a lap desk, and not just any lap desk, but one that even had a slot (ostensibly for pens) which worked perfectly for stacks of coins. Michelle laced Erik and I into corsets, mine a gorgeous purple and black Princess Victorian. It's a good thing I'd just been handed my new corset or else they would've had me for sure.

While many others have complained about how long five minutes seemed to hold a pose, I found that the years of morning tableau had well prepared me for the task, and found my five minutes slipping away in bigger chunks. Our little tale of Belle trying to get Ebenezer to leave the office seemed to work well with several friends and family stopping by, and hearing familiar laughs outside the window. Sadly, I know of no photographs that were taken, save for the ones by the Dark Garden staff, so I've none to share here.

After that, the rest of the day wooshed by, and we headed to Watercourse Way to close the evening with Sherman, Alex, Laura, Erik, Rick, and I making a nice pot of friend soup. Laura wickedly suggested a slice at Pizza My Heart after hot tubbing and I heard from 3 people over the next couple of days that they were all craving more pizza. This pilgrimage may need to be repeated this week. We shall see.

Sunday didn't go quite as planned, but bless Frederik for still knowing his line. Erik was feeling rather poorly again. His illness from the prior week was winning, and he was miserable. On the way up to the Cow Palace he looked awful, and couldn't eat enough applesauce to take his ibuprofen. Sadly, he was carpooling from Davis, so he had to stay on site til his ride could go home. We started discussing other options - taking the train, finding another ride back, sleeping in a chair. I started doing the math. I could check in, sync up with Frederik, grab Erik's coat and scarf, and drive to Davis and back before my scene at 1:40. Heck, I could probably be back by 1. Erik caught me figuring and asked what I was doing. When I told him, he said, "You would do that?" Um, yah. I would much sooner do that than leave him sitting on a train platform for 2 hours waiting for a train or sitting him backstage in a folding chair for 8 hours. So, off we went.

So there I was, in my full costume, save for the hoops, in my new corset, giving it the trial run of four hours of driving. I can honestly say, it held up well, not pinching or biting me a bit. I made it back to Fezziwigs and slipped into my hoops backstage at 1:05. I talked to Arthur to learn that I'd not missed my shift on lead yet. We were scheduled for 1:20. So, missing four hours, I was still on time. Perfect.

I slipped away at 3 before the queen arrived to join the Dickens parlor for a few parlor games. Here again, I learn that I'm far more graceful when dancing than walking. We first played "This is my eye" and followed with "Blind-Man's Bluff". While not blindfolded, I stumbled into a sofa, slighly kinking my knee and back. All day long, I dance with inexperienced dancers and feel no ill-effects, but one gentle parlor game, and I found myself quite achey the next few mornings. Life is chock-full of irony.

The last set I was on lead, and Arthur had to head home early, so I led the set alone, with some wonderful assistance from Mr. Soake. It was fun, picking out the dances and balancing the set. We had a Duke of Kent and a Sellinger's Round for set dances, and the usual assortment of couples dances.

Finally the night finished with another long carol-out. I'm really thinking the Fezziwigs need to strike and force the carolers to do carol-out. Bob Crabb had the audicity to complain out loud in my presence that "the carolers are there working before opening and couldn't be expected to do closing as well." Ha! What do you think us Fezziwiggers are doing, eh? We're on from 10:30 to 7:30, working our butts off, and most of us are dancers rather than singers because we're not good singers. There are a great many exceptions to that generalization, but really, a lot of us shouldn't be singing in public, myself included, and definitely shouldn't be standing on dance-sore feet singing in public after working all day. Oh well. It's a battle I shan't win, but that comment from Bob made me resent it all the more. It was one of those nights where we were held hostage by a late show at Mad Sal's singing on well beyond a few carols to close the evening. During the Twelve Days of Christmas, Nicole walked up and asked after my first day of new corset. I promised that I'd strip down to let her see just as soon as carol-out closed. Finally, we headed back in and I started stripping down as fast as possible. This led to further corset modeling for the whole cast since I was now holding up notes. But the corset did beautifully and Nicole seemed happy and the cast liked it. I'm afraid I don't have any pictures of this corset either. Hopefully soon, because as Elizabeth said, "You positively disappear in that corset dear!" Oh yes, the tiny waist of my youth is back, and Nicole put it to its best advantage.

This weekend coming up is the traditional melt-down weekend for everyone. I'm ready for it. We're all getting a smidgen ragged around the edges, so I hope to be a calming force rather than someone stirring up trouble. Plus, I'm bringing chocolate truffles.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Night of Decadence

A few weeks ago, Paul IM'd me to ask if I'd be his date for the Google Holiday Party. Since Crystal was going as Karen's date, he had a spare billet. Knowing how Google feeds their people on a daily basis, the opportunity to see how they party was irresistible.

So Friday night, we gathered at Kev and Rachel's house, got gussied up, and piled in the limo. After an hour's jostling journey to San Francisco, we arrived at Pier 48. For some bizzare reason, I assumed that it would be a normal gathering with dining at tables and so on. Ha!

The theme was "Googlympus", as in Google as Mt. Olympus. Each of the rooms was hosted by a different Greek God. After checking our coats, we began in the Aphrodite room. It was French themed, with swings and a 10 piece band doing orchestral versions of popular hits of the 80's and tiny little Croque Monsieur sandwiches. They also had a place where you could put on big wigs and get your photo taken. We decided to do that later.

Next up was the Dionysus room, with Flamenco dancers, grape stompers, and a yummy green bean dish to go with the little shrimps or sauteed mushrooms. We moved on, hoping to get a full tour, then come back to our favorites. Next was the Poseidon room. It was under the sea, so there was a man in an old fashioned scuba suit floating overhead, and an odd mix of pulled pork and red beans and rice and sushi. Lots and lots of sushi.

Next came the Zeus and Hades room, with ice blue and red lighting rotating very slowly around the room, and Hades and Zeus duking it out in a sort of Olympian light saber fight. There was also an amazing band - African lap harp and upright harp, mixed with pre-recorded ambient synthesizer stuff and a drum beat. I can't begin to explain it adequately, except to say that by the end of the night, Karen and Crystal opted to stay in the room just to find out if there was a name for the band, a CD, or other contact info. (The band, it turns out, was very happy to have fans, especially two hot female fans.) This room also had the most fabulous chocolate thing I've ever eaten. It was somewhere between a mousse and a cake. It was dense and rich and fabulous. You could then dress it in muddled raspberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. After eating about half of it, I kissed Paul. Him,looking a little surprised, I said, "Thanks for inviting me. I'm having a really nice time. And this is the best thing I've eaten in years."

So off we went to the Apollo room, that was sort of 1920's speakeasy themed, including performances from Alotta Bootay and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang. They had fried chicken sandwiches, a broccoli salad, more little shrimp in sauce, and a yummy black eyed pea salad. We stayed through the KKBB performance, then headed on to the Athena room. This one was rather oddly themed, with the Los Angeles skyline beautifully rendered in the background, and a whole sort of East L.A. Latino theming. There were chicken mole tamales and mini-tacos. Karen and Crystal stopped here to get airbrushed 'tattoos'. The rest of us soldiered on through the Morpheus room, where long lines abounded for the palm readers and tarot card readers, so we contented ourselves with rice krispy treats and a nice cup of coffee with a rock candy stir stick. Finally, we made it to the end of the line: The Hermes room, where I'm glad to report that some Greek food was finally present - lamb gyros or falafel in pita pockets. However, by then, I was stuffed.

Having finally made the circuit, we returned to the Aphrodite room to hear some more of the band, dance a bit, and try on some wigs for a group photo. Er, photos, as coached by their photographer. Allow me to just say, we excel at being silly.

After that we headed back down the the Zeus/Hades room for a little more chocolate. Now there was a woman walking around with spoonfuls of chocolate mousse on a tray. She fed them to you, letting you eat from the spoon, then turning it over so you could lick off the remainder. Google does decadence well.

We wrapped up our evening in different places, Paul and I returning for a bit of dancing in the Athena room before heading down to the restrooms and finishing up dancing with Karen and Crystal in the Hermes room. We gathered our coats and met up with Kev and Rachel and had the limo pull up to meet us seconds later. We all piled in, each taking a new seat, and rolled home in style, sipping port and singing along to the songs on 95.7.

I headed home to fall into bed to rise for Dickens in the morning, 9:30 dressed.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Door to Door

Proselytizing door to door isn't just for fundies anymore! Wait through the first half of the video to get to the good part - video of proselytizing to those who bring it to us: Mormons in Salt Lake City.