Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chicago Excursion: Part Three

On Wednesday, Steve and I opted for bagels and granola yogurt at the lounge cafe downstairs. We then checked out and headed for Nordies for spa and lunch. We met up with A. and D.. The ladies frequented the spa and the men headed for the iStore (sp?) and a soon-to-be-closing Borders. When we checked in, I had to fill out a form for the massage therapist. This is the point where I discovered that it is not my contact lenses. I need to purchase reading glasses to read the fine print. I lifted the print to the light to try to read it better and A. lent me her pair. Much clearer. Hrumph. Welcome to midlife. We meet our massage therapists. Mine introduces herself and she guides me to a dressing room. I am doing fine except I can't unzip my right boot. I had to physically pull my jeans (thank goodness for stretchy denim) over my boots. I manage to get the left one off without problem but for the life of me could not remove the right one! Argh. So I finish undressing and emerge wearing my robe, one sandal, and one boot. She asks me if there is anything she can do to help. I ask if we can do the massage with my boot on. She said I have to soak my feet first. Hmm, this is a problem. I managed to pull on the zipper enough to pull my foot out. I lock up the boot in with my clothes. I will definitely need this massage to de-stress from the wardrobe malfunction. The hot stone massage felt great and I was relaxed afterwards. Yum. I thanked the massage therapist, gave her a hug, and dressed. I dressed and managed to wear my boots although I could not tuck in my jeans. Note to self: fix boots. I approach the check-out counter and the receptionist informs me that there is no bill. It is all taken care of. (?) So, I look at A. and she smiles. I thank her and she says she did not pay for it. It must have been Steve, I thought. We meet the guys at the entrance to the restaurant and I thank Steve for the massage. He smiles and says he did not pay for it. (?) Our group is now perplexed. No one else knew I was going to Nordstrom's. So we shrug and enter the restaurant. The venue is called Heaven on Seven. This is interesting: another celestial reference. The food is cajun and it is out of this world. I enjoyed cajun-style vegetables and Steve dined on chicken gumbo and another dish I cannot recall. The company and the lunch were great. A few hours later, we left Heaven on Seven and left for home.

Chicago Excursion: Part Two

After settling into the hotel, we decided on dining at Big Bowl. This is a wonderful venue featuring Asian cuisine. We took the elevator back down to the lobby and the doorman hailed us a cab. (In warmer weather, we would have hoofed it, but we were too tired and it was cold.) A few minutes later, we arrived at the restaurant, paid the cab driver, and entered the restaurant. The host and hostess were friendly. They gave us a booth right away. A few minutes later, our waiter arrived. His name was Angel. ( I thought this was interesting because I love angels. More interesting occurences like this happened during our trip.) Angel was a great waiter and very kind. He told us we were "good people." We ordered wonderful cuisine. I enjoyed a vegetable stir fry with a glass of Reisling. Steve enjoyed a Thai dish with peanut sauce (jealous) and the green tea ginger ale. After enjoying a great meal, we cabbed back to our hotel. We relaxed in the room. Steve curled up with a book and I opted for a nap before our friend M. visited us after work. We took the elevator down to meet her in the lobby. Interestingly, the Lounge in the Lobby closed early despite the signs that it was open until 2:00 a.m. (Change your signage, please.) We met M. in the lobby and decided to go upstairs and hang out and get room service. Room service options were scarce and expensive, so we opted for Chicago delivery pizza. M. ordered the 'za, she ordered a bottle of red for us via room service, and we sat down and chatted until 3:00 a.m. It was a great night catching up with a wonderful friend.

Chicago Excursion: Part One

Steve and I planned a mid-week overnight getaway to lovely Chicago. This was our Christmas present. We left South Bend in the mid-afternoon and drove downtown. Steve conquered the highway and the Dirty Dan (Dan Ryan Expressway) as if we existed in a video game. Fortunately, Steve's driving style is assertive and safe. I keep trying to tell my anxious side that. At least I did not apply the imaginary brakes. We planned on attending the Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. However, the exhibit sold out. That was fine, though. Steve and I revisited our memories of past visits to the museum. We cooed at the newly born chicks under the glass incubator. (A mother said to her son behind me, "In a couple months, they are going to be KFC." Perhaps that did not traumatize her brood, but her comment slightly traumatized me! We visited the fairy castle, played with the virtual butterflies and the shadows, watched virtual landslides and tornado, and looked at both new technology and old past artifacts of history. We enjoyed ourselves. After we tired of the museum and the energy of the masses of people, we drove to the Swissotel. It is a lovely, eco-friendly hotel located on Wacker Street near the Chicago River. The doormen greeted us with smiles. We smiled in return because our parking price was cut in half because we drove a hybrid. (We found this out online when we booked the hotel.) So the kindly staff took Kumi away and we entered the lobby. We checked in. Ironically, our room was located on the 39th floor. (I am 39. I thought this was interesting.) We opened the door to our room. We enjoyed the spectacular view of buildings, part of the Chicago River, and Lake Michigan. (In the hallway next to the elevators, you can see Navy Pier.) The bathroom was spacious, as it fit both a bathtub and a shower. I melted into the luxurious king-size bed. A chair and ottoman fit near the bed, as well as another chair and desk.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Found Poem

Here is a poem I found in one of my folders: historical society 2003
there is
dancing and laughing
toasting and twirling
the stars say good evening
to the

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Upstairs Office is Created

I have been sifting through boxes and boxes and boxes. The upstairs bedroom served as a storage room of sorts for the past year or so. I finally started opening up boxes delivered from the house where I grew up. Enough time and space passed so I can deal with its contents more objectively sans the overwhelming shroud of grief. As a writer, there are a plethora of documents that need to be filed and/or scanned. I found some lost poems from a book that was created in 2003. Last night Steve and I cleaned an area upstairs. Now a desk and chair lives in there. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am pleased to make necessary steps to move forward. The upstairs office is created.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Discovering an Artist: Alison Ruble

After a holiday party in December, Steve and I visit Trio's with friends. (Trio's is a jazz club in South Bend.) There's nothing like visiting a jazz club and feeling oh-so-sophisticated in my black dress and tamed tresses. We discover a treasure while we sharing a bottle of smooth wine: Alison Ruble. A lovely person dressed in a white dress introduces herself. She starts the set with a rendition of "My Favorite Things." Usually, I check out the drummer and the percussion set-up. Tonight I focus on the vocalist. What impresses me was this performer's persona. She thoroughly enjoys herself while singing and maintains a positive rapport with the bassist, percussionist, and pianist. She commands the stage in an assertive but not aggressive fashion. Before the ensemble takes a break, she mentions that she has CDs on sale during the break.
I wait until she returns from her break, and then I approach her on stage. A personable musician, she introduces herself. I introduce myself, and we talk for a few minutes. I asked her to autograph the CD for me. I thank her for the wonderful music and then sit down. Our group enjoys most of the second set. The group grew sleepy, so as we left, Alison waves to me. What a perfect way to end a nice evening: making a connection with another musician.
As I write the blog, I am listening to Alison Ruble's CD entitled Ashland. She covers jazz classics like Night and Day and Route 66. Besides her music, Alison's musical resume impresses me. She performed at Chicago's Green Mill and headlined the Chicago Jazz Festival. In addition to her musical repertoire, Alison Ruble is a visual artist with exhibits in Chicago.
Check out her website at

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Claws is Coming to Town

Steve, my husband, is the sweetest human being. He surprised me with the silliest and most touching surprise this evening. Here's the purrfect story. We started the day spending breakfast with a mentor and friend. After breakfast, we returned home and relaxed. This afternoon we delivered a bottle of domestic red wine (Oliver) to our snow angels, who in return gave us a bottle of red wine by the same vintner. Hilarious! We both have similar tastes. We reveled in the fact that was a good way to support Indiana businesses. Cheers! After arriving home. we watched an episode of Torchwood, which ironically happened to be a Christmas episode. After contacting family, I started feeling nostalgic and thinking about my mother. Shaking off the nostalgia like a frosty chill, I meandered into the kitchen and started heating up pizza for our Christmas Eve dinner. I was pouring a bit of Spumante when I heard the shaking of some kind of bells. Steve bounded into the kitchen and yelled, "Hey, did you hear something? I thought I heard something at the door!" I jumped so high I almost dropped the bottle. "You scared me! What is going on?" Steve was smiling. "Sorry to startle you. Come on! Someone paid us a visit!" He takes my hand and leads me into the living room. He points at our tiny live tree resting above the bookshelf. "Presents!" "Steve!" I exclaimed. "I thought we weren't going to exchange gifts this year." Steve smiled. "We aren't! Santa visited." Steve handed me a few gifts and had one for himself. "Open them!" I look at the label on top of the presents. There was a color photo of a cat that said "To: Lori. From: Santa Claws." "Santa Claws paid us a visit!" Steve said. Despite my sadness, I could not help but smile. I opened the packages. Now Write: Nonfiction, Telling True Stories, and Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter. Steve then opened his package: a Hammer Horror Film. Steve's act of random silliness in order to lift my spirits overwhelmed me. Of course, I started to cry and hugged him. The little kindnesses Steve does each day, especially on the more difficult days, are exactly why I have been married to him for over 13 years.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lady Cats Welcome Winter: Java Commands the Television Set

When Java is not keeping me company upstairs while I grade, she commands use of the couch and the remote. What next?

The Lady Cats Welcome Winter

Here are some disgustingly adorable photos of the younger lady cats: Moshi and Sake (Sakura). I find it difficult to believe that they are not littermates.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blanketing the Spirit

I wait patiently (okay, a bit impatiently) for the St. Vincent de Paul truck to arrive and remove donated boxes from the enclosed porch so I can get on with my day and run a few errands. It is more than that today, though. It is more than the cathartic and mundane task of boxing up unwanted goods in hopes to simplify life and create more living space. This morning I packed a quilt from college and gently placed a crocheted blanket on top of it. After closing and marking the box, I sent positive vibes to the persons who would receive the blankets. As a result of this intention, my spirit lifted. As a result of this intention, my spirit experienced the tiniest paradigm shift, a softening of the surface of a newly hardened anti-holiday shell. As a result of this intention, I want to create and/or find blankets to share with others. As a result, I hope to create more moments-however fleeting-of joy in the spirit, even around difficult times. And I believe, this sparks happiness of the spirit, in its purest form.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Black and White Poem from Soul Pancake

Yes, I am goofin' on Soul Pancake. I love the book and a lot of the cool ideas inside. This is definitely a future purchase. One of the activities I had for my students was to create a poem out of an advertisement or magazine article. I pulled out an advertisement for a children's book. I marked the words that I did not want and left the ones on the page. I copied the words on this page. Voila! Here is my poem: the spider heading to river for water- encounters storybook. lcs.2010 Okay, I added an s to encounters to make it grammatically correct. Also, it's in the form of a haiku, but not a 5-7-5 haiku. It's a 5-6-6 and adds up to seventeen syllables. How fun to create a haiku from an advertisement! :)

Saturday, December 04, 2010

SoulPancake: Chew on This

"The Most Wasted of All Days is The One Without Laughter." -e.e. cummings (from SoulPancake)
Steve and I visited the LaSalle Branch to return books. A. teased us and said that I wasn't allowed to leave the branch without any books checked out. ;) So we obliged. I picked up a book by Rainn Wilson (of The Office fame.) Apparently, there is a website called SoulPancake. I checked it out and presented it to my class as part of my "Poetry and a Book" series. Rainn, with excerpts from other authors such as Dr. Drew and Amy Sedaris just to name a few, compiles a brilliant book about all facets of life. There are ideas to spark one's impagination and spaces to write in the book. My favorite parts of this book are the following: the quotes sprinkled throughout the pages like seasonings; the Blackout Poet pages. For this exercise, you take out a page from a magazine or newspaper, take out a black marker or sharpie, and black out words that do not fit. Leave the words in that you like. There is your poem. I will most likely use this as a class exercise. I will probably end up purchasing this book since I like it so much. Nice work, Rainn Wilson! :)

Hilarious "Wiinjury" and Flying Squirrel Arms

(Borrowed from Google Images)
No, there is not a misspelling in the title. It was truly a "Wiinjury." My friend teased me and said, "You actually got an injury from a Wii?" Yep. Well, it was not just the Wii. I played an X-Box dancing game, Rock Band III (drums), and then I overdid it by playing Wii Just Dance II. As mentioned in the previous post, I received a hangover in my right shoulder. After a few days, several applications of IcyHot, and dosings of naproxen (Aleve), I decided to visit the local Medpoint after teaching class. Shooting pain started traveling down my shoulder, down my arm, and into my hand. I feared nerve damage.
So I enter the doors and check-in. I make conversation with the kindly assistant at the desk, who ends up knowing my husband's father (small world--happens all the time to me in the Bend.) So I inform her of my Wii injury. She smiles and we start talking gaming. Apparently, there's a PS3 dance game for under $100, so we do not have to purchase a new system. So we gab for awhile (after I fill out the forms.) I enter the doctor's office and tell the medical assistant my gimpy tale of woe with the Wii. She smiles, too. (I am, of course smiling and laughing about it. I could have had a more dignified injury.) She was sympathetic and even took my blood pressure on my left arm. She leaves me and informs me that the doctor will be in shortly. The kindly doctor comes in and talks to me about my condition. I inform him (again) my tale of Wii and woe. He examines my arm and shoulder and asks me to do arm exercises. So I am able to do the arm exercises. His diagnosis is that I pulled my shoulder and arm muscles (triceps). He recommends that I warm up before exercising and the pulled muscles are an indication that I need to use them more. So I quipped, "Are you telling me that I am getting old and need to tone up my flying squirrel muscles?" He laughed. I told him I was teasing him and he said, "I noticed. You're fishing." So basically, I was doing everything right by using heat and Aleve. I thanked him, he shook my hand, and I was on my way. I informed my gaming friend at the front about my injury and the flying squirrel remark. She laughed out loud. It was worth the $50 to make someone laugh and to have a good story to share.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Un-Thanksgiving Weekend

Saturday Steve and I visited friends at two gaming parties. We played Rock Band 3 (with a lot of cool songs unlocked) and I played a new XBox 360 dance game. In the evening, we visited another small gathering and played a Wii game called Just Dance. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had so much fun that I woke up next morning with a very sore right shoulder. Let's call it a hangover in my shoulder! Perhaps it was from holding the Wii controller. Perhaps it was the fact that I am not eighteen anymore and need to warm up my muscles! Anyhow, I have sharp pains in my shoulder traveling down my arm. If it still hurts by the weekend, I will call the doctor. In the meantime, ice packs, ICYHot, and naproxen (Aleve) are my new friends. I will deem this my first gaming injury (*laughs*). Anyhoo, enough of old lady gaming ailments.
We hung around home and worked around the house. I prepared for classes on Monday. I am teaching Composition I in the mornings: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. I am happy to teach again and start with a new group of students!

Saturday Chez Sigety

It's a quiet Saturday afternoon chez Sigety. I'm curled up on a wicker couch on the front porch, surrounded by books and comfy p...