Lani's household consists of Steve, the long-suffering coding genius and computer security guru; Jim, Lani's tall, red-headed and handsome son, currently finishing his second year of college; Hunter, Jasmine, Himari, Chenault, the miraculous Onyx and the even more miraculous Resk, undisputed feline rulers of the house; and Jesse, the man-hating green-cheeked conure.
Ann's household consists of Don, who is not just a computer genius but a pilot, a builder, and a damn good father; their son Steve, the marathon-running, college-bound, funniest teenager I know; and wonder dog Tater.
Other family members are Laurie, Lani's beautiful daughter who teaches at elementary levels; her handsome son Alex, aka Alexander the Great; Mary and Bo, a/k/a Mom and Dad, and Bud and Ann, Steve's patient and wonderful parents.
We have houseguests this weekend. Don's good friend, Smitty, and his daughter are here with us. The daughter is an opera singer, and is auditioning for a spot in the music program at DePaul University. They came in on Friday for an interview, and then the audition is this afternoon so we got to just hang out on Saturday. We've done Tacos of Death for dinner Friday, and Giordano's stuffed pizza for dinner Saturday (so they get a taste of Chicago!). We've had fun!
DePaul is just north of downtown, so I drove downtown on Friday and picked them up to bring them out to the house. As I was getting close to them in heavy traffic, I looked out to the left and saw a thrift store. In the window of a thrift store was two sofas - and they looked perfect for my living room! Small scale, curvy, puffy down cushions - perfect!! So, on Saturday I took Smitty's daughter downtown and we visited thrift stores. Sure enough, the sofas are perfect, and I bought both of them for $300. Two sofas - $300! I'm so psyched! Don has to drive downtown to get them in the pickup truck, which will cost me heavily, but I'm still thrilled. They need slipcovering, but even with that it will cost much less than one new sofa. I'll post pictures as soon as I get them home.
My knitting is mostly gift knitting, so no pictures there either. Next week I have light travel, only to Toronto on Tuesday and back Wednesday. That's good, since the next week I'll be gone Sunday through Sunday. Yikes.
I hope you haven't been caught with the bad weather anywhere, with people yelling at you.
Our niece, Kris, sent me this picture. When she lived with us for the summer, we found these pajamas in a catalog and thought they were so funny they became a joke - "lobster jammies! Ha ha ha!" So when Kris was preparing to go back to college, I got us both a pair. Isn't this a great picture? That was four years ago, and she is out of college now and working, doing great. I wish she'd come to visit, but at least she sent me this picture! I'd forgotten about the whole lobster jammie thing, and it makes me smile to see the picture.
We're having a semi-quiet week. Don is in Chicago all week and not working, Steve had Monday off from school, and I'm in Winston-Salem Tuesday through Thursday. We have hired a new housekeeper (hooray!) and I'm thinking good thoughts about her longevity in the job and her ability to avoid the Johnston family housekeeper curse. Think with me, please, so it will outpower the bad karma.
Hope all of the moving happened without too much trauma, and that you are back home for a little bit before you are on the move again. I hear Mom and Dad may be going to Spain - what a great trip! They will really enjoy it, and I hope they take advantage of the opportunity. They should take Steve along as interpreter, and me to haul bags. Or water. Or something - anything!
Got busy and neglected posting, that is. So, let's see, what's new and exciting here. Well, last weekend I went to Kentucky to visit Jim, and had a fabulous time, and, um, well, spent a lot of money too. We'll get to that later, though. Jim is doing wonderfully, which obviously makes Jim's mother very happy. He's happy with his job and doing well at it, and is seriously looking at going back to school part-time this summer. That makes Jim's mother even happier, needless to say. Quick pic of a happy Jim: This is the only picture I have where he's even remotely smiling; he hates having his picture taken. Still, he's happy! Note all the cold weather gear, gloves, coats, etc. behind him ... it was COLD in Lexington, and got colder while I was there.
So the shopping thing! Well, it seems there's a Talbot's outlet in Lexington ... whoops. I bought a LOT of clothes. I bought so many clothes that I was worried they wouldn't all fit in my suitcase. They did, in the end -- well, in my suitcase and my tote bag -- but both bags were so stuffed that I was really afraid they'd explode if dropped. Whee! Shopping is fun, especially when you get stuff for super-duper cheap. As if I didn't do enough damage at Talbots, on Saturday we went to Berea, which is south of Lexington. Berea is a wonderful little town which bills itself as The Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky, and seriously there is some fabulous shopping there for handmade items of all kind. Everything from cutesy-country stuff to very elegant and sophisticated items fill shops which line the streets; it was a great day of wandering in and out of shops. And, oops, I did it there too; I bought some fabulous jewelry for myself, and a couple of Christmas gifts for others.
As for flying, yes I've been doing that too. This past week I've been to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Columbus Ohio, Montreal, Charleston, Raleigh and Savannah; sadly I was so broke after Kentucky that all I did was sightsee a bit in Baltimore, no money to spend! Tomorrow morning I leave on another trip that will take me back to Philadelphia, Montreal, Baltimore, New York, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, and Providence, RI before coming home on Wednesday. Loving it, loving it, loving it, but it does tend to keep me just a little occupied. By the time I come home from a trip I'm usually tired enough that my first day back is mostly being lazy; doing a little laundry, lazing around with the dog and the cats, maybe puttering in the yard, and that's about it. Still, it's fun, ya'll. And Steve is handling it surprisingly well, too. Life is good here!
And travel benefits! Not only fun for 'let's go to New York and see a Broadway show!' but very good for those phone calls that go: "Mom, can you come help me pack? The movers will be here on the 22nd, so if you could come before then it would be great!" Yeah, I'm going to try to go to Florida this coming weekend and help Laurie pack to move to her new apartment. After all, why not? And then I'm taking Jim to Washington DC in March for a few days to visit the Smithsonian and of course the various historical monuments; and then in April Steve and I have planned a trip to New York for my birthday. Have I mentioned I love this job?
First, are you aware that there is a 100 year old water dispute that is being settled in Bangalore, India, and they are expecting civil unrest/strikes/demonstrations as a result? The last time there was an announcement, 18 people died. Now, what's really interesting is that they delayed the announcement of the verdict since there was an air show in Bangalore this week. It's true, I tell you, it's true.
Those of you who know me are, I'm sure, amazed. I do not follow current events or watch the news, and I avoid politics like the plague. So why do I know about this event on the other side of the world? Simple. We are going to close the office there, so it affects the work they are doing.
Second, I am on strike. Really.
We lost our great housekeeper, Jeni. I have bad housekeeper karma. We've lost them to divorce-and-need-a-real-job, my-son-is-allergic-to-your-dog, we're-moving, and now illness-in-the-family. Seriously, I feel guilty hiring the next one. I feel like I'm bringing on bad mojo.
But on to the strike. I refuse to cook dinner unless the kitchen is clean. So tonight I look and it's mostly clean, except the counters. What is it about counters? I don't get it. So I pouted but I cooked. Tomorrow the foot comes down. Not clean, no dinner.
So, more India pictures. Of course, I shopped while I was there. I got a beautiful pashmina shawl, and here I am wrapped in it. Like the pattern? It's not printed, it's hand embroidered. All seven feet of it, in teeny-tiny stitches. It's gorgeous, light and warm, and I love the work that went into it. Here's a close-up.
Now to other shopping - the Indian women wear saris or salwaar kameez. That is loose pants and a tunic that fits over it with slits up the sides, and a long scarf that you can drape over your head or just around you. They are really comfortable, out of the finest cotton imaginable, and just beautiful. So here we are in our salwaar kameez, me and two other women who traveled with me. Embroidered, lined, and tailored to fit, it cost all of $32. I'd have paid that for the scarf that came with it.
And here's part of what I knit on the trip. One whole sock (except I haven't kitchenered the toe yet), and the leg of another. I also worked on another project, but it's a gift so no pictures.
I'm off to Detroit tomorrow to get beat up. (unhappy client) Wish me luck!
It was a great trip. I arrived home Thursday 1PM after 22 hours travelling. The flights back were longer than the flights there (headwinds instead of tailwinds. When we arrived at the office, there was this great ceremony to welcome us. One of the things that is normally done here is to create very elaborate patterns on the floor with colored rice or chalk. The man I was talking to about it told me that his wife does it every morning to start the day. Wow - I think it's good if I say good morning before we all run off to start our days. Here is the beautiful pattern they did for us out of colored rice, which one of our guys immediately stepped on. He thought it was a rug! They also had me light an oil lamp (which you can see next to the peacock) to ask for enlightenment, and to start the visit off with good luck. It was very nice, and made me think about what we do for visitors - make them wait in reception, and if they're lucky we walk out to get them and ask if they want coffee in a styrofoam cup.
Here are a few pictures of what it looks like getting around. Traffic is really incredible. When I heard that I thought they meant the traffic was heavy, but what they really meant was - well, incredible. Horses, ox carts, rickshaws (three wheel motorcycle cabs), elephants, cows, goats and buffalo along with cars and buses. There appear to be no traffic rules. There are no lane markers, or if there are no one follows them. It's just wild!
The first night, we had dinner and saw traditional Indian dance. It was interesting, the dancers showed us several different styles which were very different. They always wear a band of bells around their ankles, and they are graceful. It was cool - though the lead guy scolded us for not clapping enough. He said we were "watching like westerners". We clapped more enthusiastically after that. This picture is of a dance style that involves dancing on top of a brass bowl.
Of course, there was shopping. Here is a shot of Commercial Street, which is an interesting blend of very modern looking shops and little hole in the wall joints that I wouldn't have gone in even if they told me the greatest deal in the world was in the back. No way!!
More later, I have lots more pictures. I'll be in Chicago most of the week, so I should have time to post more. Hope everyone is doing well!