Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Finds - Road to Recovery

We're closing in on the end of the second long week at the hospital.  We've been focused on supporting my mother-in-law and when we're not at the hospital, all things brain and recovery overshadow our minds.  Therefore, Friday Finds this week is an extension of how my brain has been occupied.  I found two fun brain related items on Etsy - a cool print that reminds me of how complicated brains are, and a fun stamp that I can envision using for note cards.  The book is a find suggested by both our friend Patti and my mom.  Dr. Taylor is a neuroanatomist who experienced a stroke herself.  The book describes her experience having a stroke and her subsequent recovery.  Her experience, combined with her scientific background, has been very useful to us.

Clockwise from L:
Amazon - My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
Curious Prints - Vintage Anatomy Print
TTYR - Anatomical Brain Rubber Stamp

Monday, August 23, 2010

Feeling like a million bucks

When you've spent a week by the side of a hospital bed, after schlepping your rolling suitcase from Bala Cynwyd to Pat's to University City to the Theater District, it's understandable to feel a bit out of sorts.  Therefore, this week, I've sought some solace from a regular work day.  This is the 7th office location I've been to within my firm and sitting in one of the familiar gray l-shaped work stations feels like sitting at home.  Because all 3 outfits I brought are in our laundry bag and because shorts and t-shirts aren't appropriate office wear, I treated myself (in a big way) to a new outfit.

I pulled a Julia Roberts, walking into a store in jeans and walking out in a tailored suit, a la Pretty Woman.  I told the sales associate I wanted brown or navy suiting and that I liked ruffled tops.  She outfitted me from necklace to hose.  She pulled clothing they hadn't even set on the floor yet.  She cut the tags off in the dressing room.  And as I saw the numbers ringing higher and higher upon check out, the less and less I cared.  Not because I spent extravagantly, but because I felt so good.  I walked out a new woman.

Shall we start from the bottom?

Have you splurged on a new outfit during a difficult time?  How did it feel?  Even if it wasn't a retail therapy splurge, what are you wearing to the office as we transition to fall?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Because Families are Funny

On the hills of our roller coaster ride, I've felt like I'm living in a SITCOM.  My people embody the USA TV channel tag line, "Characters Welcome."  Or better yet, the TV family they identify with the most is Everybody Loves Raymond.  Here's a snippet of the exchange at lunch yesterday:
Grandma - Remember when Jason was little and he was so excited to eat lobster?
Grandpa - Yeah, but when we got home, he heard them screaming in the pot . . .
Grandma - Eeee! eee! squee!
Grandpa - and then he wouldn't even touch them.
Jason - It was traumatic!  They were screaming in pain!
Grandpa - I don't think you were old enough to remember.
Jason - My earliest memories are from the womb!
Grandma - There was a lobster in the womb with you?
SIL - Yes, they were holding hands.
Me - You mean claws!  Cute little lobster claws.
Grandpa - You ordered lobster claws? I didn't see that on the menu.  I thought you still didn't eat lobster.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting with my people

We're in that stage where the tests are coming back inconclusive and the way ahead is to wait and pray.  As we go through our third day of staying by Gina's bedside, I've been thinking about two things. 

1. I was reading through the Psalms this morning, thinking about the wait.  We wait for Gina to wake up.  We wait for the test results.  We wait to see the doctors.  We wait in the waiting room.  We wait for the public bathroom at the hospital.  We wait for cars from the parking garage.  There's been a lot of waiting in our lives.  This morning I was struck by the idea of not only waiting on these physical things, but waiting on the Lord.  We're waiting to see how He will work.  We're waiting to see Him perform a miracle.  We're waiting for Him to show us His will. 
Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

2. At our wedding, a friend read Ruth's pledge to Naomi: "Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God."  In the midst of waiting, I've become acutely more aware of how marrying a man makes his family into your people.  My people used to consist of my blood family and my dear friends.  My heart has grown to include new people into my group.  Some I've known for a long time, some less time, some to a greater degree, and some to a lesser degree - but they're all my people.  I carry their hearts in my heart.  I grieve with them.  I love them.
 So today, I wait with my people.  Please continue to pray.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Please Pray for My Mother-in-Law

I like to use my blog as a humor release.  Something upbeat.  Something that I enjoy as a hobby.  Today, my funny life became serious.  Our lives became a prayer for mercy and understanding.  My mother-in-law is in critical condition after a severe stroke.  We've been with her all day, and the tests have been coming back inconclusive as far as where the bleeding is coming from.
Tonight, we're jealous for your prayers.  I haven't been so bold in my beliefs before on my blogs, but this is where the pedal meets the metal.
 Mr. Palindrome and I believe that God hears our prayers.  We believe that He will interceed for my MIL.
We believe he knows the hairs on her head (even the ones they've shaved to drain her bleeding on the brain). 
 Please pray for her recovery and her comfort.  Please pray for my new family as we all come to terms with our loved one in a hospital  bed with few earthly answers. 
 Please pray for God to reveal himself to us in our meager and grim situation. 

I'll update again tomorrow after we hear a more definitive prognosis.  Thank you all for caring and praying.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Finds - Nesting, Literally

Nesting is such a primal urge.  I feel like a savage beast stalking nest building materials at Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Etsy, and thrift stores.  Must. build. nest.  Must. pad. home.  Must. nestle. in.  This animal instinct only grows stronger when Mr. Palindrome tries to combat it with reason, "But Palindrome love, everything we buy here, we'll just have to move next year."  This sends me into a tail spin!  Must. build. faster!  Must. nest. NOW!

To satiate the nesting hunger while respecting our decision to accumulate as little as possible before the move, I've resorted to window shopping.  15 pages into my favorites on Etsy, you'd understand that I have a problem.  3 pages into saved searches for everything from egg cups to custom stained glass house numbers and you'd judge me as certifiable.  Unless you have the same favorites.  If so, join me in my window nesting as I fantasize about a sitting room filled with nests, eggs, and birds.

Clockwise from L:
Slinkimalinkicat - Circa 1880 British Birds Eggs - Plate V - Original Antique Print
dearjes - Petite Cloche and Egg in Nest
Room29 - Bird's Nest and Eggs Vintage Illustration
Frippelous - Primitive Paper Mache Letters

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Cowgirl Boots

Two weeks before our trip to CO
Me: "What do you think about these boots?"

Mr. Palindrome: "For what? . . . they look the same to me."

No matter how many times Mr. Palindrome glibly responds with the most stereotypical male statements I've ever heard, it still surprises me.  Must keep telling myself that Mr. Palindrome. is. not. a. girl. friend. 

So I asked Lisa

Me: "What do you think about these boots?"

Lisa: "Oooooh for your trip to Colorado? I like the darker pairs, but they're all cute.  Although I think the ostrich skin ones are a little more masculine looking.  Are you wearing them with jeans or skirts?  Can you wear them in North Carolina too? I think I like the dark mahogany ones best with the contrast stitching. Have you looked at new pairs? Want me to look up some too?"

And that's why you need girlfriends.
A week later, and none too soon before our flight, these lovelies landed on my door step.
They were the perfect antidote to my western shoe dilemma.  From the rodeo with a jersey dress to the ranch with skinny jeans, they fit the bill.
Now all I need is a western wear inspired snap down shirt and a pair of Kenny Chesney tickets for these boots to make a comeback!

*Unsourced photographs in this post are mine.  Forgive the reddish cast of the closeup of the heels . . . My method of photoshop editing is known as trial and error.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Finds - Mid Century Cockadoodledoo

We have 2 alarm clocks and 3 cell phones capable of am alarming in our bedroom. 

I enjoy waking up to the radio.  I also enjoy setting my alarm clock 7 minutes fast to coordinate with the 7 minute snooze in order to play games with my mind.  I wish it ended there, but I also set the alarm to go off 7 minutes before the hour.  So when I want to get up at 7:00 am, I set my alarm to 6:53 am.  I hit snooze twice (and extra 14 minutes of sleep), but due to the fact that I set it fast to begin with, I'm still getting up at 7:00 am.  Ridiculous.  Yet effective.

Mr. Palindrome has one black alarm clock with large red numbers so that he can tell the time without having to reach for his spectacles.  However, he does not enjoy the stun gun equivalent beeps that emanate from the said clock.  He refuses to wake up to the radio because he says that whatever song is playing will be stuck in his head.  He doesn't like any of the alarms on his phone, besides the fact that he wants his phone beside him on the nightstand so that he can read articles in bed and check email when he wakes up.  The reason that the alarm can't be on the table is that he would turn it off in his sleep.  So a duplicate alarm must be set up across the room beside the red numbered clock.  Hence the third cell phone that he has used for 7 years with what he calls the perfect blend of tones that crescendo as it sounds.

All of this leads to a cacophony every 3-4 minutes as our competing alarms and snooze times rouse us each morning.  And did I mention it's all quite ugly?  Power cords for each phone, two laptops and two clock radios tangled into oblivion.  Sometimes I want to sweep my arm across the nightstand and start fresh.  These cheery yellow mid-century models don't meet any of our wake-up routine preferences, yet the aesthetic trumps our modern mess.

Clockwise from Top L:
Objet Petite - Clock Drop
Big Fish 'Lil Pond - Mid Century Mod Giant Alarm Clock
52girls - Vintage Westclox
Mazuli Vintage - Retro Vintage Big Yellow German Wind Up Clock

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Downhill Again

Armed with a trail map and old sneakers, Mr. Palindrome and I put the wuss in wussy by riding the Gondola to the top of Mt. Werner.
I was sore and somewhat tired after full days taking in the rodeo and tubing down the Yampa River.  While there were times that I was less than thrilled to be in a tube on the river - like when I was flipped out of my tube, when I jammed my ankle on a river boulder, when I flipped out of my tube the second time, or when my my neck got a crick in it because the tubes were so small - the scenery and Mr. Palindrome's company were well worth the 2 hour ride. 

So we didn't hike up Mt. Werner.  We hiked down.  Ridiculously, the hike still whooped us.  I'm blaming it on the altitude. 
Me: Honey, go point at the sign of the trail where we got engaged!
Mr. Palindrome: Do I have to?
Me: J-bear, it's for the blog!
Mr. Palindrome: Ok, fine. 
Mr. Palindrome: Are you done yet?
(Note: He's pointing to the trail, "Why Not" - insert ironic marriage joke here)
Mr. Palindrome and I aren't, how shall we say, outdoorsy people.  There's this episode of Monk where Tony Shaloub's character is holding his hands out, asking for a wipe, and Sharona asks what he's touched.  "Nature!" he cries.  I didn't bring handi-wipes, but there ended up being a fearful moment when I thought that my lunch was going to catch up with me.  A wipe would have been very handy.  Very handy indeed.
Despite our lack of oneness with nature, we both remarked several times how enjoyable it was hiking and observing the natural beauty of the mountain.  We particularly liked observing the seasonal differences between ski season and hiking season.

There's a reason why I freeze up and don't want to ski down some hills.  Even with soft, fluffy looking vegetation, that slope is steep!
We contended with several elements of nature on our hike.  Altitude, the call of nature, intense UV rays, and even a trail blocking felled tree.

I also took full advantage of the cloudy skies and tried to run my new DSLR through the paces.  It might have run me through the paces, but I'm fairly happy with some of the results.  While my manual lenses from my film SLR are compatible with my DSLR, I lose all of the function tied to the automatic lenses (including limited light metering and auto-focus).  After playing with it over several days, I think my next camera investment will be a new lens.

These ginormous dandelions blew my mind.  I saw them all over when we did the Kitchen and Garden tour, so I couldn't resist a childish wish when the opportunity arose.

Are you an outdoorsy person?  Would you have hiked up, done a jig, then hiked back down? Where are some of your other favorite hikes in the West?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yuppies at the Rodeo

I may have arrived as a city slicker from "back east," but after our first day in Colorado getting used to the ranch life, I was ready to connect to my inner cowgirl.  We'd been looking forward to going to the rodeo ever since we booked our flights. 
On the drive to the rodeo after forgetting the camera the first time

Luckily for us, Steamboat Springs boasts an arena on the Pro Rodeo circuit!
As an experienced rodeo goer now, I have the insider tips for maximum enjoyment.  Arrive early to see the bulls when they look all cute and sleepy in the pens behind the grand stand.  You'll know you're in the right place when you can smell the rodeo, if you know what I mean.  If your olfactory sense isn't what it used to be, look for the cowboy specific advertisers.
After you've walked around a little, then head into the arena to enjoy live folk music.  We heard the Yampa Valley Boys strum their banjo and guitar.
And I stuffed myself with rodeo food, which is fairly similar to carnival food.  Mr. Palindrome recommends the beef brisket plate.  The prices were on the high end, but so worth the experience for the first timer.
Pretty soon the announcers were calling the first event of bareback riding.
Right out of the gate we had a runaway hat
Team roping started off next where one cowboy roped the calf's head and the teammate roped the hind legs.  It looked particularly hard and few teams were able to rope the calves correctly without time penalties. I loved that the calves looked like they were wearing wrestler head gear.
I love the horse is leaning at almost a 90 degree angle here.
The next event was Tie-Down Roping, which I didn't realize was different from team roping until after I took about 30 pictures and heard the announcer calling it a different event.
A few more calves went down before yippee-yi-yo-ki-yay, it was time for steer wrestling.  Or wrasslin' as the announcer called it.
Not only does the cowboy have to contend with sharp, kicking hooves, but look at the pure muscle all along this steer's neck!  He fought hard, but the cowboy fought harder, eventually tying him.
If you're drinking from the tap of the Colorado Rockies, you might think you were seeing double because the bronocs were back in full force for another round.  This time though, the cowboys were riding them with saddles.
Now, I'm no Pioneer Woman, but I was pretty happy with this next series that I took.  For my first time at a rodeo, first time taking action shots with my DSLR, faux lighting, and a manual focus telephoto lens, they turned out allllllright.

That bronco just kept it up.  He went out with all 110%. 

Look Ma! No hooves!

The most frightening, yet entertaining events of the night were the calf and lamb scrambles.  Basically, they tied a ribbon to the tail of either the calf or lamb and then let children run all over the stadium, chasing the said animal.  Between getting kicked in the head or stampeeded by other children, it was all out mayhem.  I particularly enjoyed the tots who could barely walk chasing the lamb (my wedding bee namesake!)

Since some of the broncos didn't bronc the first go around, the cowboys were given another chance.

If you love people watching, you'll thoroughly enjoy the rodeo.  From outdoorsy hippies to old time cowboys and from city slicker tourists to down home Coloradans, the stands are full of people ripe for the watching.  One particular caught my attention, the dreadlock wearing concessioneer.  He also caught the attention of the announcer when he could out announce the PA system.  Popcorn! Coca-Cola! Ice Cold Beer!

With falling light, the final and most anticipated event began, Bull Riding! The bulls never bronced beyond a few feet of the gate so all of my photos are plagued by an intruding fence.  We could see them prepping the bulls and some cowboys almost lost knee caps when their bulls decided to start the show early. 

The rodeo kicked date nights to Cheesecake Factory and the South Point Mall to the curb!  

Have you been to a pro rodeo event? What was your favorite event?