A dreaming sort of a day

Shawn Lovell iron bed

The wind is blowing, it’s sunny and a bit cool, but really pretty.  It’s the kind of day that makes me feel that all is right with the world.  I’ve been busy thinking about things I want to do around here and along the way I encountered some wonderful inspirations.  Last night I discovered this bed  by accident, and it’s not only set me dreaming about creating a forest of lighted branches in my own bedroom, but provoked a lovely conversation over on my Facebook.

Yes, it's flat, but it's kind of pretty

I thought at first about trying to find an artificial tree that might look a bit like this to affix to the side of my headboard, but quickly discarded the notion.  However along the way I found this page on Squidoo, and though it had nothing much to do with my search, it charmed me.  So being me, I looked at some of the other lists by the same author and found A Passion for Purple which sent me on a hunt for purple/violet/magenta bedding.  How I love hyperlinks!

I also discovered the poor woman’s way of getting this look into a room.  From Urban Outfitters:  The tree tapestry.

You'd have to be a rich Bohemain to sleep in these.

On the other end of the scale, while trolling for pretty, Bohemian/Gypsy style bedding, I came across a set which is entirely too sumptuous-looking for true Boho style, but which is really beautiful anyway.  I should tell you that the bedskirt alone is nearly $600!  Yes, it’s from Needless Markups. Domestications can’t begin to match it for lush, however they did have this set on sale, and it’s a nice alternative for those of us with dreams bigger than our bank accounts.

It's pretty, it's on sale. What's not to like?

But the thing is, neither of them are the look I want.  They’re too refined, too run through a lowest-common denominator filter.  I’m looking for something more along the lines of a wild riot of Kaffee Fassett designs; a kind of melange of rich florals with Indian/Moroccan/Gypsy sensibilities.  Yes, I love color and pattern.  I love it bright, I love it mixed and I love lots of it.  One of the best gifts I was ever given was a fan deck from Benny Moore.  Charles brought one to me one day and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

This...
... and this

So I kept on poking around.  This is the internet age, right?  If you are patient and persistent, you can find just about anything online.  Just because I gave up on leafless trees doesn’t mean I’m a quitter.  And sure enough, my persistence paid off, and fairly quickly, too.  I found Marie’s Manor which is a little difficult to read, but it looks like a treasure trove of ideas and resources.  A quick click took me to her I Dream of Jeannie page which makes me swoon with happiness.  Poking around some more, I found that Marie seems to have an endless supply of ideas for decorating based on your fantasies, though her resources aren’t always available.  Still it’s worth a look if only for the inspiration of things like this:

You can definitely make an entrance through something like this.

And for the vast amount of information she provides.

That bed took me fairly far afield today.  Or perhaps it was the wind.

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One more reason why I’m through posting on LJ

They’re stealing people’s affiliate links now.

I’ll go on reading anyone on my flist, but from now on all my important posts will end up on my WordPress site.  I’ll put links to the posts on LJ and Dreamwidth for anyone who is interested, and it shows up automatically on Facebook.  What a world…

In less perplexing news, I’m at the beginning of what my mother used to call a “Grand clearing up spell.”  On Sunday, I filled two force-flex bags to bursting with old bedding and gave them to Jim to take to Goodwill near his place.  Today I’ve already filled two bags with clothing and have enough to start a third.  While I’m definitely planning a garage sale for this spring/summer, I have too much little stuff that I want to get rid of, so I’ll be making up bags and boxes for donations or garbage until I feel I have a handle on what I own.  I think I have something like 10 pairs of shoes left, which is nothing short of amazing since I moved here with something like 50.

I’ve also been doing things like sewing up stuff that needs mending, and while I do I’m watching old eps of Route 66.  I have to say that it’s relentlessly sexist and kind of dopey, but I’m getting a kick out of it, and the cast lists are fantastic.  I just finished watching one with Lew Ayres!

I’ve also sold another story (go me!) and really, really, really need to get back to writing, but I put on such a burst in Feb and March that I’m a little burned out right now.  So I’m going to go get a cup of tea and do some more stitching.

It must be like this, living in Iceland

Arturo and the guys on the roof.

My damn roof has been leaking since I moved in.  I knew it needed work but I’d hoped to get a few more years out of it.  Alas, this winter put an end to those hopes and last week I told Charles to just take the damn thing off and put a new one on.  So at 6:30 this morning the workers, the trucks and the supplies arrived and not long thereafter, the horror began.  They ripped and they sawed and they banged and they dropped hunks of my roof into the back yard and down into the gangway between my house and the one next door.  I went out briefly and the clouds of dust made up mostly of roofing paper and asphalt bits were so heavy that it was not unlike what I saw on the videos of the ash clouds in Iceland.  We have a carpet of grit all down the back stairwell because they left the hatch open, and now they’re going to have to sweep all that up or I’ll pitch a huge fit.  You crunch when you walk out of the apartments!

On the upside, they’re working incredibly fast.  They started at 6:30 am and left here about 7 pm having torn off the old roof, laid down the rubber membrane, re-mortared a lot of the bricks and cleaned up pretty thoroughly outside.  My plants are covered in fine black grit but one good rain should fix that.  Tomorrow they’re going to rebuild several feet of chimney, install the flashing and maybe lay down the reflective silver coat.  They are a fantastically competent and fast team.  The photo is thanks to Wilson who climbed on up (He’s an ex-firefighter so he laughs at climbing up tall ladders.) and he was rewarded with a piece of homemade cornbread with butter.  So was Charles who wanted to steal Wil’s slice.  Boys…

Orchid at Garfield Park

Today is Dawn’s birthday and she spent the weekend celebrating.  On Sunday she and I went out with Jim, and after a trip out to Russell’s barbecue we headed over to the Garfield Park Conservatory.  They had a beautiful spring flower show, and if you’re of a mind, you can see the photos on my Flickr account.  It was really lovely there, and not terribly crowded, which made it all the more pleasant.

There were still a few pieces left from the Chihuly exhibit which was the reason I first went to the conservatory a number of years ago with Dawn, but we both pretty much fell in love with it and we do try to get

Chihuly glass pieces in the koi pond

down there occasionally.    The pieces in the koi pond were just beautiful with the afternoon sun shining through them.

We walked around for several hours, enjoying the beauty and taking scads of photos.  Then we came back home and crashed for a while as we decided where we wanted to go for supper, finally settling on a place in Palatine that we’d never been to:  Sumo, one of those teppan-yaki places.  I’ve been longing for some for a while now, but the last time I was at Ron of Japan I was seriously underwhelmed, and Dawn said the same about her last trip to Kampai.  There was always Benihana, but we were looking for something newish.  I’d been to Fuji down in Orland Park, but that’s a real jaunt (Like Palatine isn’t??) but this place got such good Yelp reviews that it sounded like just the right choice.

Sumo!

The restaurant is a kind of tribute to Sumo with a TV running vids of Sumo bouts, and a lot of artwork celebrating the glorious man-mountains, but it isn’t over done.  It has a nice industrial-meets-contemporary Japanese feel to it, clean and modern and yet somehow timeless.  The food is excellent from the sushi to the steak, and especially the golden shrimp.  This place gets high, high marks.

We also gave Dawn her birthday pressies.  Honestly it’d been driving me crazy waiting because Jim and I bought her an iPod touch and we each got ourselves one which we couldn’t use when we were around her lest she get suspicious about why we both suddenly had one.  So first thing we gave her the gifts and she seemed really happy, so it was worth all the wait and the secrecy, and the shoving mine into my desk drawer or pocket when she walked into a room unexpectedly.   No pressure or anything…

And now I’m starting to slow down because I’ve been up since 6:30, and Arturo and the guys are probably going to be showing up at the asscrack of dawn tomorrow to get to work.  Time to load the dishwasher with all my cooking dishes and get to bed.  Though that reminds me of my breakfast today (because I couldn’t face food at 6:30 this morning, and I sure didn’t want oatmeal.)  I sliced up some polenta and heated it in the microwave while I sauteed some mirepoix in butter and olive oil.  Then I put the mirepoix on the polenta and topped it all with two poached eggs.  It was heaven!  You can bet I’m going to be trying that again with other stuff.  And tomorrow I’m going to have my curried lentils on the cornbread.  In spite of the steak at Sumo, I really am working this vegetarian shift thing.

Yes it is, it's spring!

Wow, color me productive

Not in the creative sense, though all that is percolating.  But rather, I’ve been cleaning.  I cleaned up the kitchen and bathroom and washed the floors, finally.  I also cleaned up the living room.  Now I’m transcribing recipes that have been sitting on my desk for months.  And I made a fantastic supper that I want to share with you.

I took 1/2 C of lentils (I used the little black beluga lentils,) 1 C spelt or other grain or rice of choice, 1 11.5 oz can of V8, 1 C vegetable broth, one jar of Trader Joe’s Thai green curry simmer sauce, and a load of chopped garlic, and threw it all into my crock pot.  I let it cook on low for about 5 hours.   Then, just before I was ready to eat I peeled and thinly sliced one small sweet potato and sauteed the slices in some coconut oil until they started to go brown.  I salted them lightly and piled them on top of a serving of the lentils.  I have to tell you this was just killer good.  The lentils were wonderful and soft, the spelt chewy, the sauce incredibly flavorful, and the potatoes a little sweet, a little salty and they had a light coconut flavor and aroma.  Seriously it’s worth a trip to TJ’s to get that sauce.

But now I’m hungry again since I ate about six, so I’m off to find a high protein snack before I sack out.  Night all.

From computer hell to… computer hell

My new laptop: Acer Aspire

In the heady rush of delight I get from a new computer, I forget the annoyance of setting up a new system.  The annoyance factor on my new Acer laptop was exponential because of two factors:  1) Acer puts a metric fucktonne of bloatware on their systems and 2) It came with Windows 7 which is an utterly new experience for me.  I suppose I should be used to the bloatware; it’s everywhere these days.  But it’s such a major pain to get rid of, and somewhere along the line I managed to screw up my video control software.  Because I feared it was having a negative effect beyond the irritation of having to close constant error windows telling me that the program had shut down and did I want Windows to shut it down (Really?) I went looking online for the answer.  Most seemed not to address the question but I found a couple which looked like they might help so I gave them a shot and for about two hours today had to wrestle with a computer that was running on the generic video drivers that come with Windows.  Yes, I made it worse.  That’s what I do.

I never really mind making it worse, though, because in fixing what I’ve managed to screw up, I learn something about the system.  And this time, what I learned taught me a little about how the video card works (I got it fixed, btw) and that it wasn’t the thing screwing up my desktop.  Oh, the desktop… didn’t I mention that?  Yeah, I’d changed the desktop photo right after I powered up for the first time and it stubbornly remained changed no matter what I did.  Oh Windows was nice enough about it.  It agreed with everything I told it to do, but then went off and did what it wanted to anyway.  And of course the one place that really looked like it might have some answers was down for maintenance (on Wednesday afternoon?  REALLY?)  But finally the site came back up and I followed the instructions to get to a place where I figured I knew what the problem was, and I was right.  So now I have my rotating desktop photos, a working video card and (fingers crossed) a pretty stable-looking system.

Windows 7 is another NannyOS.  It won’t actually allow you to do anything much except make cosmetic changes (and even then not all the time apparently) because it assumes that you’ll screw your system up and blame Microsoft.  IOW, it’s intended for business users who don’t like getting their hands a bit dirty on computer innards, soft or hard.  Vista was like that, too, which was one of the things I hated most about it, but Win7  seems to have worked out a way to keep the tinkerers happy while protecting the timid.  It has ways to over-ride the problems which subject you to endless screens that ask: “Are you sure you want to change the fribble on the freebistat?  Some knutenvalves might not function properly if you do.” and:  “Are you really, really sure you want to do this?  Fribble is touchy.”  and:  “Look this is your last warning about the fribble, genius.  You really should pay attention because if you change it, we’ll all laugh at you when you call us in tears.”  In the end you can make your own mistakes, and be reasonably certain that you can fix them because they have a very efficient System Restore application, aka “We Told You So.”  Only it didn’t work for me when I sent a program in to clean up unused drivers.  Silly me, making a special restore point and all.  Remind me never to believe Microsoft again.

Oh it all worked out in the end, don’t get so excited.  And please don’t anyone tell me that it proves Mac is better because I’d definitely debate that.  Apple cast its lot on the side of Nanny-ism decades ago with its first Mac, and I’ve never seriously considered one of their machines again.  The IIe?  Now that was a computer!   You could dig in that one.  You could blow things up if you weren’t careful, and you knew it was your own stupid fault.  That was the golden age of Apple, IMO.

So yeah, computer hell is actually kind of fun so long as I have some spare time and don’t lose my internet connection.  It’s been made harder by virtue of the fact that no one sends you the OEM software anymore, so if you completely fuck up your system, you don’t have any way to reinstall Windows.  But that’s life on the edge, folks!  (Yeah, I know, cheap thrills.)  The thing is, I’m not any kind of hacker.  I’m simply a curious end user who owes a big debt of gratitude to all those wild-eyed, disheveled early adapters who have spent years in various kinds of computer hell and lived to tell about it.  Bless them all, even the trolls.  Because even they have something to teach us.

Spring! Chicago! Saturday!

Yesterday we had a date to get together with Jim, but as usual, we hadn’t done much in the way of making plans, so when we sorted out that we wanted to go to Trader Joe’s and Maybe Whole Paycheck (We haz cooponz!) the general feeling was that we would like to do something else before we ended up schlepping food all over.  But honestly?  No one had any good ideas.  We talked a lot about it over lunch at Jay’s, and I said that I’d been longing to take a trip up Sheridan.

For those of you who are not Chicagoans, let me explain that Sheridan Rd. is a fairly famous drive around here.  The southern part parallels the infamous LSD or Lake Shore Drive, the road that runs along the shore of Lake Michigan and which was made famous by Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah.  It’s a favorite drive when the weather is nice, particularly on Saturday nights, with some good driving music on  the car stereo.

Up north, Sheridan twists and turns quite a lot, sometimes running directly along the lakeshore but most often winds through some of the priciest suburbs in the Chicago area.   But it’s not all expensive homes and private beaches.  Up in Wilmette, almost right on the lake, stands the Bahai Temple, one of the most graceful and lovely houses of worship I think I’ve ever seen.

Bahai Temple, Wilmette

It’s a favorite spot for bridal parties to come and be photographed (We saw two or three while we were walking around the gardens.) and everyone is welcome, in the spirit of oneness on which the religion is based.

The gardens were just waking up, though the fountains and pools were already filled and running, so we walked as far as we could around the temple, and took some photos.  One of the things we discovered on our walk was a bed of pachysandra, a sweetly-scented ground cover that might do very well in our garden.

We went all the way up to Highland Park, and came back south down 94 on our way to TJ’s over in Park Ridge.

So… the thing is, my doc told me that there looked like there might be a problem with my kidneys, and because of that I’ve been looking into ways to better control my diabetes because I refuse to spend the rest of my life hooked to a dialysis machine.  And one of the best ways to manage, avoid or even possibly resolve the disease is a vegan diet.  Mostly the prospect doesn’t bother me.  I’ve been trying to get off meat for a while now, but I keep getting dragged back because it’s an easy source of protein.  Alcohol I can give up, no problem, and if I have to, I can give up meat, but other dairy products remain problematic.  So I decided to go poking around TJ’s yesterday looking for options.  I picked up some dips for my veggies and some sauces and legumes to make different sorts of bean dishes.  I did buy some fish, but that’s a far less problematic protein source than any other kind of animal product.  I got some nice-looking fruits and vegetables, too.  Dawn and I pretty much decided that we didn’t need to go to Whole Foods; I’m kind of hoping we didn’t run roughshod over Jim, though when asked, he didn’t seem to mind.

And then once we got home, Dawn came and knocked on my back door to tell me that there was a bunny in the garden.  Sure enough there was, a lovely fat bunny who we’ve named Mortimer.  I tossed him an apple and a banana because buns love bananas with the skins still on them.  This morning the apple was still out there but the banana was long gone.

Clouds along I94

And for supper we went up to Pequod’s because none of us had been there in a while.  It was pleasantly uncrowded, and the three of us were able to agree on enough ingredients that we only had to order a single pizza.  We were all pretty hungry so we had salad first, and then we saw the waitress bringing the pizza, saw her lose her grip on the pan and saw our pizza hit the floor.  And there was no joy in Mudville at that moment.  The waitress hustled the ruin back out to the kitchen then came to grovel at our table and offer us appetizers on the house, but none of us really wanted anything but the pizza so we pretty much laughed it off.  Shit happens.  I’ve never had a bad experience there and I don’t plan on starting now if I can help it, so we said it was fine, not to worry.  And honestly, the pizza that came out was worth the wait, it was gorgeous.  We ate all but one slice, which they wrapped up for us, and then informed us that dinner was on them!  Seriously, the whole damn pizza, salads, drinks… all on them because they recognized me as a regular customer and felt so bad about the accident.  And this is why it pays 1) To be a regular and 2) To be nice when shit does happen.  I’m always saying that you get back out of life what you put into it.

So we stopped for coffee and talked about music for a while, and then headed home where I put my feet up and vegged out in front of Leverage for a few hours.  I’d never seen the 1st season closer and I have to say I am more impressed than ever with this show.  I love all the characters and, as improbable as the capers are, they’re good capers, which excuses a load of nonsense in my book.

Writing?  A bit.  I’ve been working on one fic for a fiction call and one stand-alone based on an idea I had a couple of months ago.  It’s all good.  Life, I mean.  It’s all just fine.  And it’ll be better when I get a computer that doesn’t constantly run very hot/slow, seize up, swap keys or take 10 minutes to boot up.  Wish me luck.

I thought computers were supposed to save time.

Seriously, I’m sitting here copying all 87 CDs of the complete works of Beethoven to iTunes, and from there I will sync them onto my iPod.  Earlier today I did the entire collection of remastered Beatles albums.  My computer feels like it’s been baked.  It runs way too hot for my liking.  I’m also busy downloading podcasts and iTunes U programs from the iTunes store.  There’s an amazing number of free podcasts and programs including a metric fucktonne of things from NPR including “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” which I got hooked on by spending Saturday mornings with Jim.  Now I listen to them before I go to sleep each night.  There’s nothing like falling asleep after a good laugh.  I also downloaded a beginning course in French because I’ve lost so much that I feel as if I want to refresh what I know.  Or should know.

Dawn’s been sick all weekend, and now my throat and ear are starting to hurt which makes me uneasy.  I don’t want to be sick.  I can’t afford to be.  I have too much to do this week including getting my tax stuff to my accountant, having the roof fixed and doing some more writing.  I started a story tonight which doesn’t even have a title.  All I can tell you is that it’s a vampire story.

I am really, really tired suddenly.  I think I’m gonna let the d/ls finish and hit the sack.