The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

Barcelona Day 5, Part 1: Queen of Spain or International Hat Thief? July 26, 2017

Filed under: Clothing,Food,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 2:57 pm
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After four nights in our hotel, I finally was able to remember which switch on the wall next to my bed corresponded to the bedside lamp and which controlled the room’s main lights. With this accomplishment, Rachel bestowed upon me the title Queen of Spain. It’s possible she does not actually have the authority to grant such a title, but I had no readily available proof that she didn’t, so I gladly accepted it.

We began our day with breakfast at the hotel, which, I don’t believe I’ve mentioned before was the Ayre Hotel Gran Vía, but owing to some humorous garbling in my brain, we had come to refer to as the Ariana Grande Hotel. Anyhow, the breakfast buffet was good, despite being somewhat treacherous (at least for a grace-challenged person like me) by tables placed too close together. It included chilled cava, so we could see no reason not to make ourselves mimosas to toast my coronation. There was a minor incident when I pressed the cappuccino button on the magic coffee machine and received only hot milk. Eager to remedy this grievous error, I pressed the espresso button, which delivered the sought-after  caffeinated liquid but caused my cup to overflow and created a bit of a mess. How thoroughly embarrassing on the first day of my reign!

Next on our itinerary was a visit to Park Güell. To get there, we climbed numerous hills and roughly half the stairs in the world. In the middle of one of the staircases, we encountered a man who apparently thought it was the perfect time and place to initiate some sort of packing reorganization project. He had taken the contents of several plastic bags (bottles of soda and sundry items) and spread them out across most of the width of the steps (-1 point for lack of self-awareness, dude). All that aside, Park Güell was really cool and made me feel vaguely like I had stepped inside a Dr. Seuss book, albeit with less rhyming.

Gingerbread

I believe this was known as Gaudí’s Gingerbread Period

LizCeiling

Ceiling selfie

Lizards

Lizards abound!

When we finished exploring the park, we set off in search of snacks, persevering through additional skirmishes with Google Maps and managing to evade a woman on the street who seemed to be trying her best to light us on fire with her cigarette (-1 point for lack of self-awareness, -1 point for attempted incendiarism of pedestrians). But it was all worth it, for, to the victors went the churros!

Churros

Hard-fought and delicious

Since my vacations tend to feel incomplete without a visit to a local hat shop, we went next to Sombreria Mil. Upon entering the store, I knew I was about to undertake a marathon of trying on hats, so I removed the hat I’d been wearing, stuffed it into my purse, and got right to work. A few minutes in, while attempting to extricate a particular hat from a stack, I knocked over a foam mannequin head and sent a different stack of hats toppling to the floor. Then, in trying to tidy up that mess, I managed to drop the hats I’d been holding from the first stack. A shop employee rushed over to tend to the situation. Although I apologized profusely, she simply shot me a death glare and went about restoring order.

I shrugged it off, thinking that perhaps she was just having a bad day, and again began my quest of determining which hat would come home with me. Rachel also continued to try on hats, even though she’d all but decided she was going to buy the first one she’d tried on (which, I do have to say, was adorable). All this time, I couldn’t help but feel that the shop-tender was still giving me the stink-eye. Granted, I was a bumbling tourist who’d knocked some stuff over. Some righteous annoyance at me was reasonable, but I wasn’t sure I deserved the amount of ire conveyed by her glowers. After several minutes of this, I finally made eye contact with her, confronting her glare, and giving her a look as if to say What?!

“Could you open your bag, please?” she snapped.

That’s when it hit me. She must have glimpsed me stuffing my hat in my purse after entering the shop and thought I was stealing. “Oh!” I said, opening my bag wide and pulling out the hat. “I was wearing this when I came in!” I held it out for her to see, practically inviting her to examine the sweat stains and feel the slightly gritty film on it from being accidentally immersed in the sea the previous day.  The woman’s face relaxed, she apologized, and the rest of the shop visit passed very pleasantly. Rachel and I both left with new (fully paid-for) hats.

 

I Like a Challenge…and a Distraction July 13, 2017

Filed under: Clothing,Life tales,Poetry — lizardesque @ 2:34 pm
Tags: , ,

Afternoon work break

Collaborated with friends

Vital shoe research

 

Small Joys July 7, 2017

Filed under: Clothing,Life tales,photography,Poetry — lizardesque @ 4:04 pm
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Greenshoes

Put on bright green shoes
I bought in Barcelona
Smiling commences

 

Age is a state of mind…and, oh yeah, body too. Shoes are also a factor. October 25, 2015

Filed under: Animals,Clothing,Life tales — lizardesque @ 2:57 pm
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I began my 41st birthday with my usual Saturday morning yoga class. There’s nothing like yoga to keep one feeling young and healthy, except that in this particular class, I tweaked my back a bit. It was nothing serious, just one particular movement that caused a bit of lower back strain. I did not repeat the movement, and periodically throughout the rest of the day, I did some dynamic stretches to keep my back limber and make it feel better.

That night, I got gussied up and thought to myself that I don’t look half bad for my age. Also, I wore whimsical shoes, which I’m pretty sure makes me seem even younger.

Kitty shoes!

Kitty shoes!

Ian and I went out for a lovely dinner. We returned home briefly, during which time I did a series of cat/cow and marauding bear stretches on our living room floor (still in my cocktail dress, mind you), and we headed out again to meet some friends (one of whom was celebrating her birthday, which had been the previous day). There was much merriment. There were some shots. There was a piggyback ride given to me for part of the roughly one mile walk from the bar to our friends’ house. There was karaoke. At one point, I was compared to Yoda (for my wisdom and perspective, NOT my age).

Ian and I decided to call it a night at around 3:30. As we walked a little more than a mile back to our house, I lamented the fact that my whimsical shoes were causing me discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, they’re actually quite comfortable, considering, but still… I kept telling myself we were almost home and kept up the conversation to take my mind off my feet and the fact that I was cold and my back was sore. The topic of skunks came up. I remarked that a few days earlier had been a very skunky day, as in, I’d endured the scent of skunk for the vast majority of my morning walk in the forest preserve. “Well,” said Ian, “this is a time of year when a lot of skunks are out getting busy with…”

“Skunky cold medina?” I offered.

“Indeed.” He paused. “You know, there’s a very narrow age range of people who would immediately get that reference.”

A brief discussion of Tone Loc followed. A lengthy discussion of Tone Loc would not have been possible. We both knew the two songs that everyone in our demographic knows, and there’s really only so much you can say about them. As we passed a park, Ian veered off the sidewalk and took a few steps toward a bunny that was sitting in the grass. I kept on walking, fearing that if I stopped or even slowed I would not have the will to start walking again. We were almost home, and soon I would be able to remove my adorable whimsical shoes that had been pushed well beyond their comfort capacity.

“That bunny does not like Tone Loc,” Ian remarked as he caught up with me once again.

“How do you figure?”

“Well, I was thinking about Tone Loc when I approached it, and it ran away.”

After knowing him for almost 18 years, it seemed I was finally having an effect on Ian’s logic since this statement is much more representative of the kind of reasoning one might expect from me. At first I tried to argue. Silly me. I should have realized this would be futile.

“Do you know any bunnies that like Tone Loc?” Ian demanded.

I was force to admit that I possessed little to no knowledge of rabbit opinions on the gravelly voiced performer. I also had no evidence that the bunny in question was a fan, so I ceased my argument. On the bright side, I had been briefly distracted from my aching feet.

It was 4:00 a.m. and we were mere feet away from our doorstep when I spotted two more rabbits in the grass. “Hey, you, bunnies!” I called, “how do you feel about Tone Loc?” One bolted away immediately (probably not a fan). The other retreated a few feet, paused for a moment, and then hopped away. I went in side, kicked off my shoes, and stretched my back again.

Still crazy after all these years…

 

Free for the Summer June 10, 2015

Filed under: Clothing,Rants — lizardesque @ 12:07 pm
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July 15

Twirling in my favorite skirt

Summer weather is finally upon us, and with it comes many things to love: sunshine, long days, fresh berries, big floppy sun hats, festivals, al fresco dining, sprinklers, corn on the cob, and fireflies. Need I say more? Perhaps not, but I will, otherwise this would be a really short blog post. There’s another less-oft-mentioned reason I am a lover of summer: pantslessness. At long last, the weather is warm enough to free my lower limbs from the garments that have imprisoned them for months. I can go barelegged, free from confinement, and leave behind the tyranny of pants!

 

For me, pants are a necessary evil. They have their place, of course. They offer warmth and protection in ways skirts cannot. Getting through a Chicago winters without pants would be tough. Also, I don’t have to worry about pants possibly blowing up into my face on blustery days. Pants are also generally better suited for bike riding and yoga, but, in my mind, that’s where their advantages end. You see, I’ve long suspected that the people who make pants hate me. I feel pretty certain that they have been conspiring against me for quite some time, such that I look forward to shopping for pants as much as I look forward to visiting the dentist. At least dentists have some good pharmaceuticals at their disposal. Meanwhile, I have considered self-medicating with wine while shopping for pants since it usually brings me nothing but piles of discarded trousers that are too big in the waist, too long or too short in the rise, too tight in the thighs, and always much, much too long. Yes, I realize they can be shortened. Great, so now I also need to pay a tailor to alter these already overpriced garments lest I trip over them. Hem them myself, you say? Sure, I’ll add that to my pile of projects I’ll get around to some day. Adding insult to injury, even when pants are the proper length for me, they just make me feel kind of stumpy.

 

Sometimes I feel bad. After all, it wasn’t always socially acceptable for women to don pants. Shouldn’t I be dancing with joy in my slacks as I celebrate feminist progress? Turning cartwheels in my chinos while singing, “I am woman, hear me roar”? Then again, perhaps I should just be comfortable knowing that I can wear pants if I want to. I don’t have to wear them. So, while the weather is warm, I won’t. I will put on a dress and twirl as I enjoy freedom of choice along with the many other delights of summer.

 

Let’s Talk About Socks, Baby July 18, 2013

Filed under: Clothing,Life tales,Oddities — lizardesque @ 11:40 am
Tags: , , ,
One is the loneliest number

One is the loneliest number

Like most people I know, I have had the problem of the occasional widowed sock. Losing a sock every now and again is understandable if you use shared laundry facilities. Socks are relatively small, and it’s easy to see how one might get left behind from time to time. Even if you have your own washer and dryer, losing socks for some period of time is understandable. Sometimes, mates get separated during the laundry sorting process. One black sock emerges clean but mateless and must wait until you do another load of darks to be reunited with its partner. Socks can also become tangled up in sheets or other garments and resurface the next time you change your linens or wear that grey sweatshirt.

The socks that stay missing, the ones that seemingly vanish into thin air, are the ones that puzzle me. I have frequently sorted through my pile of widowed socks and wondered, not only how I could possibly have eleven white socks but no actual pairs among them (different weights, different lengths, different colored logs, etc), but also–where do all the freakin’ socks go?

I was in elementary school when I first learned that matter cannot be created or destroyed. Was there some footnote* that I missed?

As I have pondered this question over the years, I have noticed that, if you walk around enough and pay attention, you are bound to notice a sock sitting on a roadside every so often. Once you are attuned to this, you will pay even closer attention and find that, damn, there are a lot of roadside socks in this country. It’s as if motorists frequently fall victim to urgent itches or extremely localized hot flashes that prompt them to take off a shoe and remove a sock with such frenzied vigor that it flies out of the car window and lands on the side of the road.

That’s one possible explanation, but at some point, an idea occurred to me that would explain both disappearing laundry socks and roadside sock appearances. What if, I reasoned, something about the the combination of hot air, damp clothing, and tumbling occasionally created dryer wormholes? These wormholes would be small and short-lived, but if the timing was right, a sock could slip through. Also, what if these wormholes were somehow connected to roadsides across the country (or the world, I’m not sure if I’m well traveled enough to speculate about roadside socks abroad)? One second, a sock could be tumbling about in the dryer, and then zap! Suddenly, it’s on the side of a highway in rural Wisconsin! This explanation might be unlikely, but it would explain a lot.

There was a point when I became all but convinced that this, or something equally nutty, was actually happening. When I moved into my house, I had my own appliances. Surely, no more shared laundry facilities meant the end of permanently widowed socks. A few months after I moved, a sock was widowed in a load of laundry. I really liked this particular pair of socks (the were a dark and light brown herringbone pattern and like no other socks I had), and I distinctly remember that both socks went into the washing machine but only one came out of the dryer. I checked the washing machine and the dryer. I checked the hampers, thinking that maybe I had imagined the complete pair going into the washer. I checked all of these places three more times, and then, with a sigh, I set the widowed sock aside, thinking it’s mate would turn up eventually.

I kept that sock for years. The mate had to be somewhere, after all! I’d mused about dryer wormholes, but that was all just silliness, right? But then, where was my damn brown herringbone sock? Finally, in one of my closet purges, I threw the lonely sock away. My heart was heavy as I did so. It hadn’t been an expensive pair of socks, but I had liked them, and I somehow felt defeated as I bid that sock adieu.

Not one month later, I was in the laundry room when one of my earrings fell off and rolled underneath the dryer. I moved the dryer to retrieve the earring, and there it was–the long-missing herringbone sock! Of course, by now, the other one was long gone, but at least the mystery had been solved.

Now, when I discover widowed socks, I remember to check underneath and behind the dryer for wayward mates. I still have a quite a few mateless socks, though, so I’m not totally discounting the wormhole idea.

*Except socks. Those will totally defy the laws of physics and disappear.

 

Verbiage on Vienna Part 3: I’m on the Map! March 20, 2013

Filed under: Clothing,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 2:31 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
From a lecture on dual-energy CT with nonlinear image blending. No, really.

From a lecture on dual-energy CT with nonlinear image blending. No, really.

My Saturday in Vienna began with some early lectures. During the first one, I had the misfortune to be seated in front of two women who talked through the entire lecture. Apparently, my repeated glares were lost on them. Perhaps I was too subtle, or maybe they were dense in addition to rude. During my next two lectures, I heard a speaker who repeatedly showed pictures of Kermit the Frog. I’m not sure whether there was some sort of radiologist inside joke that I wasn’t getting or whether the guy just had a soft spot for Kermie, but it amused me.

When my lectures were done, I had a few hours in the afternoon to do some more exploring. I was still thinking about the hat shop that I had passed by the previous evening, so going there was first on my agenda. When I arrived at Wellenkind, I was interested to see that it was in fact, part hat shop, part workshop. In fact, the milliner was demonstrating some of the steps of hat making to a couple of women in the shop. I browsed around, tried on numerous hats, wavering on whether or not to buy one. “I really don’t need more hats,” I said feebly to my colleague, Lauryn, who accompanied me to the shop.

“I don’t know. Can you really have too many hats?” Lauryn asked

“I’m not sure, but if you can, I might be close.”

“It would be a nice, unique souvenir, though.”

“True.” I have a weakness for both hats and souvenirs, so when the two are combined, I’m practically powerless. “And I do have hats from Paris, London, and Amsterdam.”

“Well, now you have to get it!”

When I indicated to the milliner that I wanted to purchase one of the many hats I had tried on, she seemed surprised that I was actually buying and not just there to browse. As I checked out, she asked where I was from, and when I told her, she said, “So, this hat is going to Chicago?” I said it was. “Oh!” she exclaimed. I have to put you on the map!” I followed her to a large map at the back of the shop where she placed her first pin in Chicago. I was suddenly even happier with my purchase.

I'm on the map!

I’m on the map!

The hat that put me on the map. That shiny stuff around the base is braided audiotape.

The hat that put me on the map. That shiny stuff around the base is braided audiotape.

From there, headed out for some more sightseeing and shopping/browsing. Highlights included Hoffburg Palace and Demel confection shop. I also got a chance to visit Julius Meinl, my favorite coffee shop in Chicago, but at the source in Vienna!

Hoffburg Palace

Hoffburg Palace

This chicken looks anxious

This chicken looks anxious

One heck of an Easter egg!

I’m going to need a larger Easter basket

Food or art? Both!

Food or art? Both!

As I sat on the subway later that day, for about the fifth time, I looked at the map and misread the “Stubentor” stop on the U3 line as “Stubenator.” It was then I decided that Stubenator would make an excellent nickname for my cat, Stewart. After all, my cats are severely lacking in nicknames. They only have about a dozen each.

A nickname is born

A nickname is born