Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thank Goodness for my Pioneer Spirit

Early last month I came to the Mountain Town condo after a play performance at my school. I went through the usual routine – turn on the power, turn up the heat, open up the closet on the balcony, and turn on the water.  Water immediately began gushing from the pipes on the wall, so I shut off the water, turned on the heat, turn off the power, and drove back down the mountain for the night.

I asked around school and found a plumber, but between my schedule and his the first time that we could both coordinate an appointment at the condo was yesterday.  I packed up my bags planning to spend the night at the condo once the water was repaired. Alas, after the plumber fixed three separate broken pipes, he discovered that the water meter itself had also cracked during the ice storms of December.   We called the local water company who promised me a 4:30 appointment the next day. With that I thanked the plumber, repacked my car, and drove back down the mountain to a confused Natasha.

This morning I loaded up my car once again, and after school/speech practice headed back to the condo to meet the water guy.

I waited.  45 minutes after the appointment time, I called him to see what was up. Once I reminded him of our appointment, he told me that he was standing "in a muddy hole at the base of the hill." Apparently a major pipe was broken and at the moment the entire complex had no water.

He promised he would call me back in 30 minutes and let me know if it would be possible to get to my place today.

I waited. After an hour, I called him again. He said he still wasn't certain but when I pointed out that I made arrangements specifically to spend the night here for this job, he promised to call me in 10 minutes and let me know what was going on.

He didn't. I've been calling every 20 minutes to try to get him back on the line, to no avail. By 7:30 it was dark, snowing, and upon realizing that I was going to be there for the night without working pipes,  I had begun to gather snow in the biggest pots I could find to melt on the stove. 

Fortunately, I stored a crate of bottled water here after the last time our pipes froze.  Thanks my travels I have extensive experience with brushing my teeth with bottled water, and thanks to Google I figured out how much water I need to manually flush the toilet.

Really, between the fresh snow to melt; the working electricity, heat, and Internet; and the prospect of sleeping in an extra hour tomorrow morning since I'm already up here, I have everything I need for a pleasant evening.

Everything except a plumber who calls me back, that is.  I'm trying to stay empathetic - of course the lack of water to the entire complex is a bigger issue than my own broken meter.  I just wish he had the decency to keep me informed.

I don't know whether to shake my fist at the sky and curse men, monopolies, or the uncivilized habits of Mountain folk. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Lipstick and Yogurt

When Jenn said she had an appointment to do something for about 30 minutes in SoHo, I wondered what it could be.

When she told me it was to visit the only storefront for Bite, I asked what it was for.

When she described how their "Lip Lab Artists" create custom-made lipstick for you, I asked if I could join the fun.

When she said she was hoping I would, I was thrilled.

They mix pigments from the various pots on a transparency over white paper using a small palette knife.

The scent station (clockwise from top left) - mint, mango, violet, cherry, citrus mango, and mixed berries

I wound up with two shades - a more natural day one (scented with citrus mango and mint)
and a darker night one (violet-scented)

And when we discovered a Chobani cafe a block away and agreed that we needed try both a sweet and a savory dish* right away before meeting up with the others to shop...

... we had a perfectly lovely afternoon in SoHo.

*The sweet was pistachios, dark chocolate flakes, sliced orange, fresh mint, clover honey on plain yogurt.  The savory was mango, avocado, jalapeƱos, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt,
fresh cilantro, lime juice, on plain yogurt served with blue corn tortilla chips.  They were both outstanding and are not pictured here because we were distracted by the deliciousness.

Marking Time

New Year's has never been much of a holiday to me, especially since my true "new year" occurs each August; however, January does hold two anniversaries of sorts.  I tallied it up this week and discovered, to my surprise, that it's been ten years (!) since I started this blog and fourteen years (!!) since I started my teaching career.

Just wanted to point that out.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Making Stuff

As usual, the weeks leading up to Christmas were craft-packed.  

I boiled two dozen cans of sweetened condensed milk to make dulce de leche for my colleagues as a twist on the "apple for teacher" cliche:

I made two trips to Snappy Quilts, a fun fabric store, to get supplies for some more gifts.  

In an effort to get more into the Christmas spirit, I signed up for the Reddit Secret Santa gift exchange.  I volunteered for an international match, and was paired up with a girl (woman?) in the Netherlands who, according to her profile, loves elephants, the colors purple and yellow, and had links to several fabric bags on her wish lists.  So I made her this:

And shipped it off to the Netherlands about a week before Christmas:

I received word that my Secret Santa (who is not the girl in the Netherlands - they don't do direct pairings) shipped my gift right before Christmas.  No sign of it yet, but if it's coming from somewhere abroad, I assume it may take a while.

The bag-making went well enough that I decided to whip some up for Rachel, Mom, and myself.  I didn't photograph theirs, but here's a shot of mine:

I liked the fabric on the bottom so much that I bought some extra to make myself a skirt:

I made up my own pattern for it, this time going for more of a pencil skirt shape.  I worked from a pattern, though, to make myself a dress over the break with some fabric from Fancy Tiger:

The fit didn't turn out as well as I'd like.  In that photo I'm actually holding back a couple of inches at the waist.  When I don't, it looks like this:

I've put it away for now since the fabric is more summer-weight, but I may try layering it with leggings and a sweater this season, or pulling it out again in a few months to tackle taking it in.

I did scale back a bit and buy Jack's gift this year instead of making things for both boys.  Sam, as the newer nephew, got a handmade item: a family pop-up book:

He seems to like it, and I certainly enjoyed figuring out the puzzle of how to make a pop-up book from scratch.  I taught myself a bit of Japanese bookbinding as a part of it, which made me want to play around more with bookmaking techniques.

I'm not sure the book is the most durable gift for a one-year-old, but hopefully it holds up long enough for him to "read" it a few times through.

Happily, I was also the recipient of a few handmade gifts.  Jenn put her new makeup-making skills to use and gave me a lipgloss and eyeshadow set that has been a lot of fun to play with, and Rachel made me a terrific blue scarf:

It was a fun season of crafting, and I really enjoyed being able to put those skills to use for non-play production purposes.

Random bonus unabomber-ish photo of me and Mom at a rest stop somewhere on I-70 mid-snowstorm on Christmas Day:

Fun with Friends

Happily, this holiday season allowed for a bit of time to see friends.  Our annual December bookclub met at Chris' house - she's a remarkable hostess.  In addition to serving us all dinner, she also commissioned cakes of some of our reads from the past year:

We always do an ornament exchange, and I made the mistake of handmaking an ornament the first year I joined the club.  It naturally became a thing, so this year I learned how to make Swedish advent stars and made one out of the opening pages of "A Christmas Carol".  (As you will see with the upcoming crafting post, I have been absolutely terrible about photographing my products this season.)

Lisa invited me to join her ballet group for a viewing of The Nutcracker when one of their regulars couldn't attend.  We had dinner first at The Corner Office (decent food, slow service).  The ballet was good, and they had changed up quite a few parts since the last time I saw it there.

Speaking of Nutcracker, Rachel found a terrific new version by the Mariinsky on youtube in her annual holiday ballet bingeing.  It's worth a look, if only to enjoy the bobble-snow costumes and the synchronization of the Spanish boys at 51 minutes in.

Tammy and I also (miraculously) found a jointly free evening, so we headed downtown to try The D Bar.  You can tell it was a good meal when my travel instincts kick in and I start photographing the food:

Fried chicken and waffles with sweet potato fries and Tammy's burger in the background.
Not pictured: the bacon-wrapped dates that made for a delicious appetizer!

Dessert: Churros with ice cream and Tammy's apples and waffles in the background

We drove around a bit checking out some outrageous Christmas light displays, including this music-synced one:

Tammy lent me her copy of The Holiday for the weekend, and Rachel and I enjoyed it at the Masons one night after the kids were in bed.  It's pretty mindless.

Rachel, Ben, and I joined a couple from my ward, Kristen and Kevin, to see the final installment of The Hobbit at the Alamo.  In a Pavlovian twist, when the Shire theme played over the end credits, it suddenly felt like Christmas to me for the first time this season.

Rachel and I also went to see Into the Woods at the Alamo on New Year's Eve.  I don't think it will convert anyone who's not already a fan, but I liked quite a lot of it.  The staging of "Agony" was so over-the-top and outstanding that it almost makes up for the stupidity of the wolf's costume design.