The Lizard Chronicles

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

If Not For This… (a Haiku) March 31, 2017

Filed under: Family,Poetry,Writing — lizardesque @ 3:33 pm
Tags: , ,

Sweet, but gullible

Granny believed Gramps when he

Claimed to be sterile

 

Luxembourg Day 2: History and Culture (but First, Slides!) January 14, 2017

We began our second full day in Luxembourg City  with a walk through Municipal Park on our way to find somewhere to have breakfast. However, the morning meal fell a few notches on the priority list when we stumbled across a giant playground pirate ship–and just days after Talk Like a Pirate Day (yes, the trip was in September, and I’m just now writing it up in January–don’t judge me!). It was a beautiful day, and the playground was empty. Clearly, the universe was telling us that it was time to play!

pirateship

Breakfast can wait!

My father quickly went about climbing the tower on the ship because, as he said, “Someone’s gotta do it!” Well, of course.

dad_tower

Dad is on top of things.

liztower

My turn!

lizship

ARRRRRRR!

slide

About to descend the twisty slide!

As we continued to let our inner children frolic (videos here and here), several passers-by (all of them adults, mind you) came and joined the fun on the ship. Eventually, we gave in to hunger and continued on in search of breakfast…or maybe by that time, brunch. Whatever you want to call it, we ate it at Boulangerie Paul. Take it from a rhubarb enthusiast–their rhubarb tart is delicious.

Next, we explored the Bock Casemates, a series of defense tunnels that were dug out over a period of about 100 years during the 1600s and 1700s. They were seriously cool to see.

brain_ground

Here, the ground reminded me of brains. (Bock Casemates)

mom_cannon

Is this thing loaded?

casemates

Bock Casemates

empire

Here, the ground made me feel like I was in The Empire Strikes Back. (Bock Casemates)

casemate_flower

A view from the Bock Casemates

tower

Tower at the Bock Casemates

vineyard

Vineyard under the Bock Casemates

panorama2

Panoramic view

heart

I  ^  Luxembourg

After a lunch of pizza and beer at Il Punto, we headed to the National Museum of History and Art. Ironically, we managed to get far more lost there than we did while wandering through underground tunnels earlier in the day. We saw some cool stuff, though, including an Edward Steichen exhibit. Plus, the mirrored ceiling in the museum’s elevator made for one of the coolest selfie opportunities ever.

elevator

Looking up!

We passed most of the rest of the day wandering about, eating gelato, drinking wine, and taking lots more pictures.

flag_tree

umbrellas_and_wine

Danger! Umbrellas and wine?

 

gargoyle

Gargoyle

fingerprint_ground

Here, the ground reminded me of fingerprints.

lux_evening

Evening falls on Luxembourg City.

Save

 

Luxembourg Day 1: Getting in Touch With My Inner Stevie January 8, 2017

Filed under: Family,Travel — lizardesque @ 2:56 pm
Tags: , , ,

We awoke the next morning to discover that our hotel room had quite a nice view, which we had not realized when we’d arrived the previous evening under cover of darkness.

hotelview

Good morning, Luxembourg!

After breakfast, our first order of business was to head to the Bierger-Center, where my brother Chris was to file his paperwork as his next step in reclaiming Luxembourg citizenship. My parents, Michelle, and I acted as his entourage for what was only about a 15-minute task.

bierger_center

One step closer to citizenship!

I had two main goals for my trip to Luxembourg. One was to visit the Modes Nita hat shop, which we did next, and I added to my collection of hats from my travels. My second goal requires a bit of back story…

It all began about a year and a half ago when I happened to noticed that, according the to calendar on the website of the the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society, August 12 was Stevie Nicks Day. The reason for this was unclear to me. It wasn’t her birthday, and a Google search yielded no obvious connection between the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Luxembourg. Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, my mother e-mailed the LACS to inquire about the day and the Stevie-Luxembourg connection. She never got a response, and within the next week or so, Stevie Nicks Day mysteriously disappeared from the LACS calendar.

Nevertheless, I decided that Stevie Nicks Day was a good idea and was best celebrated by listening to her music, wearing lace and fringe, and twirling–lots of twirling–basically getting in touch with one’s own inner Stevie.

aug12

Celebrating Stevie Nicks Day 2015

At some point before the trip, Chris told me I really needed to bring the vest I wore in the picture above and twirl in the Luxembourg City  square to celebrate a (somewhat belated) Stevie Nicks Day 2016. I decided he was right, and I’m happy to say that I accomplished my goal that morning. We spent the rest of the day exploring the city, which included taking a walking tour and taking lots and lots of pictures.

houseofunderwear

This sign was an easy-to-remember navigation point.

goldenlady

The Golden Lady (with bird)

emobutcher

Emo butcher is actually a vegetarian.

redlion

Red Lion (from the Luxembourg coat of arms)

luxpanorama

Panorama of Luxembourg City

ivy

Pretty ivy

momelephant

My mom with an elephant on parade

nohandholding

No hand-holding!

municipalpark

Municipal Park

 

Ireland to Luxembourg (and a Stop in Between) January 6, 2017

Filed under: Family,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 2:39 pm
Tags: , , ,

On the morning of the seventh day of our trip, Ian and Friday got up unfathomably early so they could get to the airport with ample time to catch their flight home. Michelle and I were continuing on our trip to meet my family in Luxembourg and had a later flight. So, we groggily bid our husbands goodbye and slept for a few more hours.

img_3233

Pylons in Dublin kind of look like small people wearing bowler hats.

We Ubered to the airport, got there  plenty early for our flight, and decided to spend some time souvenir shopping. I think just being in the airport elicited premature end-of-vacation panic in me, and I had to continually remind myself that I still had a few days of vacation remaining, lest I buy all the things before leaving Dublin.

Once we were en route to Amsterdam, it began to dawn on me that the connection to our flight to Luxembourg City was pretty tight. Living in Chicago, I guess I’m a bit spoiled by having direct flights available for most of my travels So, when I booked the tickets, I didn’t stop to think that making a connecting flight in 40 minutes, while not impossible, was not terribly realistic. Still, our flight out of Dublin left on time, and I tried not to fret. We even landed in Amsterdam on schedule, so I was still hopeful we’d make it as we taxied for what seemed like a really long time…ah, but that was just my anxiety, right? It probably just seemed like a long time.

The plane parked at a gate, and we were finally about to be let off when an announcement informed us that there were problems with the jetway. People were working on it, and it shouldn’t be long. Deep breaths.

Eventually, we got off of the plane and rushed toward our gate, still hoping we could make our connection. We followed the signs that pointed us toward the right terminal but gave no indication of the distance to our gate (which I believe, although don’t quote me on this, was about 17 miles). Our hearts and stomachs sank a bit when we saw the line at passport control (so much for easy movement between EU countries), but our flight was still listed as boarding by the time we made it through. So we ran. We ran until we couldn’t run anymore, then speed walked for a bit, and ran again. I had seen people running through airports before, and whenever I did, I felt glad not to be them. I hate being late for things. But alas, I was now one of those people–running awkwardly, dragging luggage behind me, sweating, and gasping for breath.

Insult was added to injury when we reached our terminal only to encounter a broken people-mover, which could have shaved precious seconds from our journey if it had been operational. Still not about to give up, we ran some more. Breathless, we arrived at our gate to discover that our plane had not yet departed, but its doors had been closed, and we weren’t going to be allowed to board. Disappointed, we walked (at a more leisurely place) to the rescheduling counters and were rebooked on the next flight (roughly five ours later). With some time to kill, we decided the best way to cope with our missed flight and at the same time celebrate the fact that we did still have a few days of vacation remaining was to visit an airport bar.

bubbly

Coping with a missed connection

 

michelle_airport

This bench/sculpture looks comfortable, but it actually was not at all.

We killed some more time by wandering around the airport and browsing in shops until hunger prompted us to see out some dinner. It became quite apparent that we were still discombobulated by the wrench that had been thrown in our schedule when we both accidentally bought non-alcoholic beer (when meaning to buy real beer)–at airport prices even!

notbeer

Damn it! Oh well, at least there was pie.

Thankfully,things were relatively uneventful after that. We made our flight without any problems. As luck would have it, we arrived at the lobby of our hotel in Luxembourg city at the same time my mom and brother had decided to visit the lobby vending machine (which has beer and wine!). Instead, we all decided to visit the hotel bar once Michelle and I were checked in. There we enjoyed some beer–this time, the real stuff–and toasted  our impending Luxembourg adventures.

beer

That’s more like it!

 

Northeast Road Trip Part 3: No Escape! (Also, Beer and Cupcakes) July 14, 2015

We rolled into Cambridge on Sunday afternoon. There was some short-lived navigational confusion owing to road construction and street closures, which was only compounded by an electronic street sign announcing road closures, not for construction, but rather for a dance party. At first, I thought the sign had been hacked, but there had indeed been a dance party. Alas, we’d missed it. Anyhow, we were able to recombobulate our bearings and find our way to the apartment of my brother (Chris) and his husband (David), where we hung out, chatted, and drank some of my favorite beer until it was time to check into our B&B. The inn was quite lovely, with the exception of the weird mosaic in the bathroom of our room. The old buttons, watch faces, and pieces of tea cups were charming enough, but every now and then there was a disembodied foot from a porcelain doll or a creepy old photo.

Can you find the missing extremity?

I’m afraid this child wants to eat my soul.

I will forgive this one piece of disturbing decor, especially since the inn had a beautiful winding staircase, and our room had a loft and a funky dresser. Also, there were delicious cupcakes.

I had to restrain myself from sliding down the banister.

Feeling lofty

Funky

Yum

The rest of our evening consisted of cocktails at Alden & Harlow, dinner at the West Side Lounge, and attempting to escape from a room. Perhaps that last one requires explanation. It’s an interactive game in which you are locked in a room with nine other people and have one hour to find clues, solve puzzles, and escape to freedom. I was a bit apprehensive knowing that, if we failed and were trapped there indefinitely, I was likely to be the first one eaten. Actually, the game makers are legally obligated to let you out of the room, even if you fail to solve the puzzle, which is good because we didn’t solve it. I must note, however, that in walking us through the puzzle solution after our time was up, our game maker discovered that one of the clues to the puzzle, a joker playing card, was missing. It had never been placed. Although it would have been possible to solve the puzzle without that clue, I’m going to go ahead and blame our failure on the missing card. We totally would have crushed it if we’d had that joker. Just try to prove me wrong!

Friggin' Joker

Friggin’ joker (Photo credit: Escape the Room Boston)

The next morning, Ian and I had the entire breakfast room to ourselves at the late (9:30) breakfast seating, as we were, apparently, the only guest of the inn who like to sleep in. Beer sounded like an excellent follow-up to breakfast, so we headed to the Sam Adams brewery for a tour and some beverage appreciation. Because Ian is a home brewer and I’ve taken brewery tours before, much of the information from the tour was not new to me. However, I did learn the following fun “facts” from our tour guide Zach.

  • Yeast is not only where bubbles come from but also where fun comes from
  • The Sam Adams “perfect pint” is the most stolen piece of glassware in the US
I like some whimsy with my beer.

I like some whimsy with my beer.

It's funny because one of my cats actually likes beer.

It’s funny because one of my cats actually likes beer.

That's totally Bob Cannon behind me, not just a cardboard cutout of him.

That’s totally Bob Cannon behind me, not just a cardboard cutout of him.

A tour of Fenway Park was next on our agenda. One of these days, we’ll actually get around to attending a game there–just like one of these days, we’ll get around to taking a tour of Wrigley Field and seeing parts of it that we normally don’t.

Hard to argue with that

Hard to argue with that.

At Fenway

At Fenway

I've heard of keeping your eye on the ball, but apparently, your butt works too.

I’ve heard of keeping your eye on the ball, but apparently, your butt works too.

The Green Monster

The Green Monster

Those are not *real* bleachers, but I do like the one red seat.

Those are not real bleachers, but I do like the one red seat.

From Fenway, we headed to the Top of the Hub to enjoy the view and some cocktails.

Boston from above

Boston from above

Then we met up with Chris and David again for drinks (yes, more drinks, we’re on vacation, dammit!) on the patio at our inn and dinner (and three shared desserts–again…vacation!) at The Foundry. There, our topics of discussion included

  • How much does Chris know about sports these days? (Apparently, a lot more than he used to! He’s come a long way from thinking that there were 21 outfielders in baseball. It’s not as much fun to quiz him anymore.)
  • What if Antonin Scalia were a baseball umpire? (Of course, he’d be wearing his robe)
  • How can David not like chocolate and peanuts together?? (It’s not as bad as hating penguins, but it’s still weird.)
  • My super awesome idea for a new twist on seemingly played-out vampire stories is sure to be the next big thing! (I’m hesitant to even mention it here for fear that someone will steal it and run with it, but knowing me, I’ll never get past my fantastic tagline. Vumpires: You’re Never Safe!)
 

Wait, so those aren’t eggs? (TIPSHRMETID) January 30, 2015

Welcome to the first in what I hope will be a series of posts under the theme of things I probably should have realized much earlier than I did or TIPSHRMETID for the acronym lovers. I know there are quite a few items that fall into this category, so the real tricks will be 1) jotting them down when I think of them and 2) actually getting around to blogging about them. I’ll give it a try because I know everyone loves to read about times when other people felt very stupid (or is that just me?). Anyhow, on with it…

I was born in the 70s, a time of harvest gold kitchen appliances, shag carpeting, and colorful crocheted afghans (the latter of which are apparently now being made into pants by some people, but I digress). My mother is a crochet wizard; so, over the years, we had several afghans, but there’s one in particular that stands out in my memory (see the background of the picture below–against the burnt orange couch, just in case you needed further proof that this was, in fact, the 70s).

Try to ignore adorable me and focus on the afghan.

Try to ignore adorable me and focus on the afghan.

It was colorful. It was warm. It had a fun, bumpy texture. It didn’t even bother me that it depicted fried eggs (a food that I loathe to this day). It was my favorite. The afghan was around for several years of my childhood. Then, at some point, such things fell out of fashion, and it was put away in a closet or attic and replaced with a new, more stylish throw.

Many years later (I think I was in my late 20s or early 30s at the time), I was with my mother, doing something or other around her house, when we came across the afghan. “Oh, it’s the egg blanket!” I exclaimed. It was a little like seeing an old friend.

My mom laughed and gave me a puzzled look. “The egg blanket?”

“Yeah, you know. Fried eggs.”

She laughed again. “Those are daisies!”

I looked at the afghan, somewhat taken aback. To me, this had always been the egg blanket. It had not occurred to me that the white and yellow circles were anything else. Besides, the 70s were an esthetically weird time, and a fried egg throw sort of fit right in. “I always thought they were eggs,” I said, unsettled by the fact that, for all this time, the afghan had not been what I thought it was.

“Why would I make an afghan of fried eggs?” my mom asked.

It was a fair question. For a moment, I considered countering and asking if it made a lot more sense to make an afghan of daisies, but it was hard to deny that, in general, floral patterns are much more popular than egg patterns. I’d had tops, wallpaper, and sheets with various types of flowers on them, but I couldn’t recall any of those things depicting omelettes or huevos rancheros.

I examined the afghan again. It’s true that, for eggs, the whites seemed rather small in proportion to the centers. Also, the yellow centers lacked the slightly orange tinge seen in egg yolks. Suddenly, I felt silly for assuming they were eggs, not daisies. In my own defense, I should note that, for daisies, the yellow centers are rather large in proportion to the white petals. However, I also realize that we’re talking about something that is made of yarn, so a certain degree of realism goes out the window.

I occasionally wonder about the possibly psychological implications of my seeing eggs where most people would see daisies, but perhaps I shouldn’t over analyze this. Better to call myself a divergent thinker and move on.

 

Boston or Bust Part 2: Days That Begin With a Ride From Vision-Impaired Troglodyte Taxi Driver Can Actually Turn Out OK! September 24, 2014

The morning after my interactive disco Shakespeare adventure with my brother, I checked out of my hotel and caught a taxi to take me to his apartment, where I would spend my last night of the trip. Upon getting in the cab, I was immediately struck by the fact that my driver was a woman in perhaps her mid/late sixties. It’s not that this is a problem, it’s simply unusual. At first, I thought it was unusual in an awesome way–good for her! Also, there was something comforting at the thought of possibly getting a ride from someone’s grandmother. Perhaps there would be cookies.

I told the driver the address, and some confusion ensued. As it happens, there is a street by the same name in Boston, and it is near Cambridge Street. The driver asked if I was sure of the address since she didn’t know a street by that name in Cambridge. I told her I was certain.

“OK, I’m going to have to look it up,” she said as she picked up a large book and began to flip through it, repeating the street name to herself. “Ah, here it is,” she said and then handed the book back to me. “Can you read what it says there?”

Bewildered, I took the book from her. “My glasses are on the floor somewhere,” she said.

I read the text to her and handed the book back, assuring myself that plenty of people had problems reading small print but could see just fine for driving. She flipped through the pages again. This time when she landed on the page she was seeking, she produced a large magnifying glass to read the entry. “OK, got it,” she said and discarded the book. She then told me that, since she was not sure of the fastest way to get there, she would charge me a flat rate for the trip.

That seemed fair, so I settled back into my seat as she commenced with the usual cab driver chit-chat. When she got around to asking what brought me to Boston, I told her I’d come for a conference but was staying a bit extra to visit my brother. “Oh, was it that neurology conference that was just in town?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Oh, well, I’ve got something for ya. It’s not exactly neurology, but…did you hear that there was another beheading?”

I hadn’t had time to keep on top of news during the preceding days, but I figured she was referring to another in a string of beheadings of journalists by ISIS. I briefly considered the odd train of thought that led her from neurology to decapitation, but I didn’t dwell on it. “No,” I said. “That’s awful.”

What followed was a tirade against Muslims and how, in her opinion, they should not be allowed in this country. At first, I tried to argue, saying that a small number of people doing horrible things in the name of Islam did not mean that all Muslims were bad, but it quickly became clear that I was wasting my breath. She continued to spew her hate speech, and I clenched my teeth and waited for the ride to be over.

Several minutes later, her diatribe ended when she announced that I would have to help her look for address numbers, as she suspected we were nearing an intersection where we needed to turn right.

This, combined with her previously revealed vision problems, made me suspect that perhaps she should not be driving a vehicle for a living, but I told her the first address number I spotted so that she could, hopefully, pay attention to traffic. “Oh, OK, I know where we are. Not far.” She motioned ahead and to the right. “There’s a resale shop up here. You can donate clothes and stuff, and they sell it. They give all the money to AIDS research.”

I cringed, fully expecting that this announcement would be a precursor to rant against another group of people she did not like. Thankfully, I was wrong, and she instead began to ramble about how another resale shop she had donated items to had mishandled her shoes, putting them into a large, jumbled pile. Really, the nerve of people.

We made the right turn, “I think your street is down a ways,” she said.

At the same time, I looked up and, almost immediately saw the name of street where my brother lives, “No, it’s right here!” I said, and the cab stopped abruptly.

“Geez, how did you see that?” she marveled.

Oh, I don’t know…I am sighted! I thought, as she answered her own question. “It must look familiar from last time.”

“Right,” I said, handing her payment, just relieved that the ride was over. I got out of the taxi and went to the back to retrieve my luggage, but instead of getting out to the car to assist me or at least popping the trunk open, she began to drive away. “Hey!” I screamed and pounded on the back of the cab as I chased it a few feet down the street.

The cab stopped again, and the driver got out. “Oops. Sorry about that,” she said, making a motion as she was going to help me with my bags.

“I got it,” I said, quickly grabbed my luggage, and closed the trunk.

I’ve had some unpleasant cab rides before, but damn.

I figured the day had to get better from there, and I was right. I reunited with my brother and before long, we took off on our first excursion of the day: a visit to the World’s Smallest Museum in Sommerville.

I only wish I had time to see the entire thing!

I only wish I had time to see the entire thing!

Of course, that didn’t take up too much time, so we stopped for lunch at the nearby Independent. As we ate and chatted, it occurred to me that Chris and I had not spent much time alone together in a very long while, and it was nice. It was also striking how many of our conversations began with, “Do you remember…”

We occupied most of the day with reminiscing, drinking my favorite blueberry beer, and strolling around town.

Selfie by the river

Selfie by the river

Around dusk, we headed to the Lawn on D for fun with glowing oval swings, enjoying a lovely sunset along the way.

Sunset

Swings weren't this cool when I was a kid.

Swings weren’t this cool when I was a kid.

I like the way it makes his socks glow.

I like the way it makes his socks glow.

It was dizzying but awesome. We followed that up with more conversation and cocktails at Drink and a late dinner at Veggie Galaxy. As the thoroughly enjoyable day (well, except for the bit with the awful taxi driver) came to a close, I found myself wishing I’d extended my trip just a little bit longer and vowed not to let so much time elapse before my next visit.