I'm in California this week (ugh waking up at 5am Do Not Want) and yesterday my company spent the day at its holiday party activities.

We started the day "volunteering" - that is preparing things for one of the local soup kitchens. I was delegated to the arts and crafts table making cards for dual thank you and holiday cards for the group to give its most stalwart volunteers. Other folks put bagged lunches together, and made chex mix and packaged it, and put together sample packages of diapers and toiletries for folks in need to pick up. We would have also been set to cutting vegetables in the kitchen, but the chef didn't arrive in time for us to do that activity. But it all seemed to go well.

Then we had lunch at Palacio in Los Gatos (which doesn't seem like it is usually open for lunch - we had the whole place to ourselves). During lunch we did a modified white elephant ornament exchange. I'm glad the ornament I ended up with isn't glass. Delicate, but not glass.

Then we were set loose on the streets of downtown Los Gatos with a sum of money and told "spend it or lose it - and you must spend it on yourself!"

OMG STRESSFUL (last year they gave us the same amount in amazon gift cards and I still have some left over from that)!!! I did not spend the whole amount - but I have an item in mind that I *will* spend it on, and that seemed to be okay - but it is a gadget and I need to research more about them before I purchase (e-reader for those who want to know - Kindle or Nook or Other?). Four people put the whole amount toward the purchase of an iPad (it got them more than halfway there), and two people upgraded to the iPhone4S. The apple store did very well with our crowd!

A few people cheated (a bit) and got kitchen/cooking stuff. I know it isn't technically cheating, and I suppose if cooking is where it is for you it might be fine, but I still felt appliances aren't "personal" enough. Whatever.

I got a few baubles in one of the cutest boutiques - just to have *something* to show. One of the ladies and her husband are going on vacation between Christmas and New Years to where they had their honeymoon, and she saved most of hers to go toward the golf cart rental which is the preferred mode of transportation on the island resort. I thought that was a good use of the money - because it will make their vacation that much better.

We ended the day at a wine bar, and spent some time showing off what we got - or describing what we were going to get. One woman has a fancy party for her father's 75th birthday and thought she knew which fancy dress she was going to get, but tried it on and decided not that one! so she saved it for when she finds a dress (and if any is left for shoes, etc.).

Shopping - especially under a time crunch like that - is incredibly difficult for me. The one co-worker I hang with the most gets even more stressed out and freaked because we are both "let me think about it" types. She, however, decided to upgrade her iPhone to the new one and spent it all in one fell swoop. Which left her so much more relaxed than I remember her being two years ago when we did this same activity. I guess the take away for the holiday party is *always always always* have a short list of pricy items you would love to own but might put off buying yourself to trot out and either talk about purchasing when you get home, or actually get while there.

The day was a lovely one though, sunny and and not cold at all (damned California and they still have roses and pansies blooming in freakin' December - which is a weird juxtaposition with the evergreen holiday decorations!).
etakyma: (Default)
( Sep. 24th, 2011 08:21 pm)
Today... Today began with a Segway. Gwen and I got the groupon for the Segway tour of Cambridge a few weeks ago. We used it today. Our tour guide was cute as a button, and also kind of a geek, so we had a hugely good time with him. We were the only ones signed up for the ten o'clock tour (first tour of the day) so we made really good time, and got to do a little around and around to see some interesting sights he wouldn't be able to take a larger tour. It was really only the first few minutes we left the holding pen that were a little scary - the first downhill on the driveway of the Museum of Science was a "bunny slope" kind of real-world test. After that we had a good time. He told us about the Boston Molassacre (or the Great Molasses Flood) of 1919 that killed a bunch of people and destroyed a lot of property in the North End. We also discussed the Smoot, the weird art on the MIT campus as well as local flora and fauna.

We totally did it so we could experience the Segway as a mode of transportation.

Quidditch on Segways could be so much fun. I'm just saying.

Then we had lunch, and saw the Hayden Planetarium show "Undiscovered Planets" about XO planets. I haven't seen a Hayden Planetarium show since I was a kid, and I know they spent huge money to renovate and upgrade all their technology. It was pretty spectacular.

Then we wandered down to the West End Museum because a local woman was having a show of her art that worked through the death of her brother. The artist is the wife of someone Gwen works with, so she wanted to go and support. I tagged along, because why not, right? I liked some of it better than others. Her brother drowned in the Charles River when he was 12, and it affected each member of the family (Catholic- pretty sure Irish Catholic) in different ways. The art was interesting and of a lot of different mediums. I think her self-portrait that ended the exhibit was my favorite.

Then we went back to Gwen's and I napped in her chair for a little while before I decided to come home and get to bed early tonight. I hope to be asleep by 11pm to make up for the week of insomnia I've had.

Yeah. Segways. Awesome means of transportation. If you get the chance totally take a city tour with them. So much fun!
Are nearly over. I've got some great pictures, that I will post a few when I am home. The last two and a half days we've done so much - Silk Market (did not like), back to the Pearl Market (did like), Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City. Hiking on the Great Wall.

Saturday was our day to putter around the city, which a group of eight of us did via subway. I was nicknamed "Julie" as I was the designated cruise director. Since one of our number usually filled that role (and he's a guy, them calling him Julie was more poking fun at him in a good-natured way) he was all for abdicating responsibility to me.

I got us where we were going, through various hurdles and Subway stops, and back where we belong. And six of the eight of us were internet engineers. Herding cats, anyone?

But we walked through Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City, came out the other end and found the subway south to the Pearl Market where we had a late lunchish snack, shopped until the market closed and took the subway home again. Love them all, but four of the eight didn't seem to have much of a sense of direction. It was a Really Good Day.

Sunday we were up really early and the hotel provided a small bus to go out to the Wall. We went to the Mutianyu section, rode up the chair lift to watchtower 6, walked/hiked/crawled along the wall to watchtower 1 (and actually beyond the "no admittance beyond this point" sign to a ruined watchtower we dubbed minus-one. Took lost of pictures, hiked/walked/crawled back to Watchtower 6 and took the luge/slide/tobbogan down the side of the mountain to the bottom where we fortified ourselves with hot tea and coffee for the ride back to the hotel.

Then we had a late lunch, I was fitted for a custom made shirt I bought (and which I will pick up in a matter of minutes) and got ready for our massage. Massage (Chi Balance) and dinner, and early bed.

So I have just the shirt to pick up and pack, and then we'll be headed for the airport. We've dubbed it the (name of my client) Express, since we know TONS of the people on this plane!

Anyway, I am ten hours into a day that will last me almost fifty hours, so time for me to turn this off and get moving! See you all online when I get home!

etakyma: (Default)
( Sep. 13th, 2010 01:00 pm)
Because this almost four minutes is so very entertaining... Oh, Canadian Army Guys... you have too much time on your hands!

Saturday I ran about doing lots and lots of errands - one of which was a three dollar solution to a fifty dollar problem for [livejournal.com profile] gwendolyngrace. We are crafty! But I also went to Lowes to research some things for the shop.

Sunday I went into the shop and helped out with display. My mom was "big picture-ing" it - she was moving large items hanging on the walls around and making the shop look really good. LLC set me on "little picturing" it - I was relegated to clearing off and re displaying one shelf of jewelry in one of the cases, and making a list of the designs the shop had sold out of. I really enjoy the time I spend in the shop - it gets me out of the house and talking to people. I love the ladies who meet for Sunday morning display work. They're pretty fun and entertaining. Plus DL, the leather worker at the shop has given me three large bags of leather she no longer uses. There are some full skins as well as some pieces she's cut things out of. All of it will be fairly useful in costuming, for items or trims. Maybe a patchwork vest. I've never worked in leather, so I am looking forward to it. Interestingly, for health reasons DL has been vegan (celieac-casin? Something to do with gluten allergy and other animal protein, maybe?). She is no longer strictly vegan, but she is on a limited diet.

My dad came in with the dog while I was there to get everyone tea and coffee from Starbucks. I got a chai tea - which was a mistake, as Starbucks has changed their tea. Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but man, I was shaking with the caffeine hit an hour later. Starbucks tea did not used to do that to me. But now, with the new "full leafed tea" and the tea bags are about twice as big as they used to be, it is also three times as strong. Guess I won't be getting any caffeinated tea from Starbucks anymore (bastards).

Then Mom and I went home for lunch with my dad. And after lunch my dad turned on the football game and my mom and I sat and chatted in the living room while I cut up a pattern I was thinking of using, and she covered a couple of pillows with some soft rugs she got at the discount shop for less than two dollars each. The pillows look fabulous.

Monday began benignly enough, and sort of went down hill from there. But it did end with a dinner date with my dad, so it wasn't all bad (mom was at the monthly meeting for the store, so dad was at loose ends). Today began with email from my client who hadn't received my email from Friday testing a new tool. So it looked as if I blew him off. I did not. So I resent my Friday email, and followed it up with an IM. ARGH!

Hopefully the rest of the week goes a little smoother. In other, better news, it looks like I am vacationing in Delaware this summer. Beach House! I can't wait. I wonder how hard it is to make a kite?
etakyma: (Default)
( Dec. 18th, 2009 07:04 pm)
Is so much cooler than me. ♥

I follow Neil Gaiman's blog, because he is an author I really respect, and he tends to blog about interesting things like where he is in the world, when he is working on a new project, his bees, his dog, or the people he knows. He is currently dating Amanda Palmer - and apparently they've been having a circular discussion/argument about Lady Gaga (as you do when you're in a relationship) and this is her response (I conjecture to something he said), which she posted to YouTube ("Lady Gaga, Palmer, and Madonna"):

Now, I am not fond of Lady Gaga, as I find her bizarre and slightly off putting. But then, I figure I am too old to relate. I certainly enjoy Amanda's point of view, and she is completely adorable and charming making a very good point.
This is mainly here just for me, since our week is so damned full, I want to be able to remember in what order we saw stuff. We arrived at our house on Judith Point on Saturday, midafternoon. We went up the road to the Stop and Shop to buy food for the week to fill the refrigerator. Ate dinner on the deck watching the tide come it. Stayed out on the deck all evening. Basically, a very calm and relaxed evening. We kicked around the idea of going to Providence to see the waterfire, but decided the view from the balcony was really too good to leave.

The house is a cute three-bedroom, with WiFi. So I can post from the deck, watching the tide come in and go out.

Woke with the sun pouring through the house as we face directly east.

Sunday we began our travels by going northish to Smith's Castle. We did not tour the house, as it was closed until later in the day. But the grounds were lovely, if possessing a slightly morbid bent as there was a "grave marker" for forty men who were buried in a mass grave on the site. They all fell during the "Great Swamp Fight" of 1675 (King Philip's War).

Second stop was the General Nathaniel Greene House. Which we found with the assistance of the Garmin one of us had along, and without it we would never have found it, because we have discovered Rhode Island doesn't believe in historical marker signs. Nathaniel Greene was a revolutionary war general, and his house is on ten acres, and they are slowly restoring it. One of his cannons is set in front of the house, and the caretaker, who spent an hour with us taking us through the house, talked fairly excitedly about the period "junk" they keep digging up from midden heaps.

Then we went on to look at the Varnum House, since our tour guide at the Greene house mentioned the Varnum house as a house built around the same time in a completely different style - much more ornate than Greene's aesthetic.

Again with Garmin we found, down a rocky steep dirt road, Step Stone Falls. Which was a lovely little bug-ridden walk in the woods. I startled a very pretty toad as I was scrambling over some of the massive granite slabs (that make the "step stones").

Back to the house for dinner (yum, roast beast).

Today we woke with the sun (again, seems to be the theme here). After stopping by the Narragansett Indian Monument in Narragansett. This is a 23 foot tall sculpture carved from a single Douglas fir by Peter Toth. Very odd, but kind of cool to see. Short stop at the post office and we went off to Newport.

We started at Kingscote and we had the docent to ourselves, and she was terrific with just answering off the cuff questions, and showing the house. Of course, Stanford White did some of the renovating to the original house, and I had Ragtime running through my head for the rest of the day (as he was mentioned about eight more times). With the Kingscote ticket we also got to see the Isaac Bell House for "free". This is a Shingle Style summer cottage. The preservation society is currently restoring meticulously, and the house has very few bits of furniture in it.  But even if the walls are fairly bare, you can see where they are working on getting reproduction materials to bring it back.  I loved the "sleeping porch" the best os all of the house.  It was bigger than the bedroom, but it was an open air covered area.  I've read about sleeping porches, but even then, it is difficult to imagine with no point of reference.  This house has given me my point of reference.  Why don't we have sleeping proches any more?

Then we walked up to The Elms and took the first of three audio tours- each of which we only did the "basic" tour of each property.  The Elms was built in 1899-1901, and was the summer home of the Berwind family.  They were in coal - and their fortune was fairly new for the time.  The dining room impressed me as being bigger than my whole house.

From The Elms we drove to Marble House, which was a monument to Alva Vanderbilt's vision.  Oddly, the family only spent three summers at their $11 million dollar summer "cotage (with $7 million dollars of imported marble) before Alva divorced her husband, and moved down the street into her second husband's home, Belcourt.  Strangely, for a woman who was so concerned with getting women the vote and having a woman's right to have a say in her own life, she gave her daughter Consuelo none of the freedom to choose in her own life.  Consuelo was forced into an arranged marriage with a Duke (a marriage which was later annulled).  The house is more a showplace, and not really a "home" by any stretch of the imagination.  It is completely over-the-top, and by the end it was a relief to go downstairs to the fabulous, obviously lovingly kept (and enormous) kitchen, just to get away from the gilded tschochkies. 

Then, a bit late in the day, and growing tired, we stopped at The Breakers.  Cornelius and Alice Vanderbilt built this stone, brick and marble summer home (boasting seventy rooms).  This mansion is still opulescent, and over-the-top, but this Vanderbilt family imbued in the house a sense of home missing in Marble House.

What is interesting to note in all these properties, the husbands and wives have seperate bedrooms.  One of the audio tours mentioned that this was because the wives would entertain their friends in their bedrooms and it would be awkward for the husband to come in to change his clothing to see his wife hosting tea.  They also mentioned that the women would change clothing a number of times a day - almost from the skin out - because a lady of the time would be embarrassed to be seen in her morning gown in the afternoon.  Can you imagine changing clothing up to seven times a day?  Yeah.  Ridiculous.

So the Gilded Age mansions were built at a time before income taxes, and each of the mansions we saw had staffs of about forty people who lived on site, with more who came in to do day labor.  Also interestingly, the only servants seen in the "living areas" by family and guests were men.  Valets, footmen, and butlers.  One fun factoid from Marble House was in the formal dining room, the chairs were made of bronze, and each chair weighs seventy pounds.  Footmen were required to assist guests in moving the chairs close enough to the table to eat.  And the end chairs weighed a hundred pounds each. 

After these last couple of properties (and as the day went on the houses got more and more crowded, until by The Breakers we were having to dodge tourists and elbow our way though. 

If the weather cooperates, tomorrow we will have our boating tour of the coast line, and we'll try to see a few things we missed today.  I will say the Garmin devce has been incredibly helpful (most of the time).
etakyma: (Default)
( Mar. 3rd, 2009 05:53 pm)
Gotten from the flist:

You are Temperance

Time. Ages. Transformation. Involuntary change

Temperance is another card of aspiration, but also of much change. It often
represents complex situations. Positively, you can harmonize contrary

Temperance is, on a surface level, about "tempering." The original pouring from cup to cup might have been about cutting wine with water. So this is a card about moderation. There is, however, another angle to the card, that of merging seemingly impossible opposites. Sagittarius, the centaur, merges beast and man into a unique creature. And then there is the bow and arrow, one moving, one stationary, working together to point the way. Temperance may be, at first glance, a warning for you to "temper" your behavior, to cut your wine with water. But it may also be a reminder to that seemingly irreconcilable opposites may not be irreconcilable at all. Belief that fiery red and watery blue cannot be merged may be the only thing standing in the way of blending the two. Change the belief, measure out each with care, and you can create otherworldly violet.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

I've been busy working on the costumes for Hansel and Gretel. Gretel's dress is nearly perfect - but the director wants me to let the hem down - way down. I only hemmed it today, so no bug deal to let it out. I thought it was going to be too long! Nope, not long enough.

Hansel is set - same tunic the actor wore last year, new belt.

Woodcutter just needs his vest completed, now I have the proper length for it I can finish that right up.

StepMother needs a different blouse. Something more homespun. And her skirt needs clasps, but the skirt absolutely looks as fabulous as I thought it would when I saw the pattern, so I am very happy with the result of it.

Witch - I just need to finish the witch - she has a hat already which is a load off my mind.

The Tinker needs a coat, but provided everything else costume-wise (thank the gods!).

Witch 2 is completely done - I gave her the orange and black striped tights.

Ballerina needs a tutu - white, preferably. Working on it.

Politician is done - she provided everything for her costume.

Dowager looks fabulous in her dress - she just needs a tiara.

Sailor is done - but I need to block out the "golf club" stuff on the yellow slicker I found for him.

The only one left is the Magician, and I finally got the go ahead to to a top-hat-and-tails kind instead of the court-jester kind the director mentioned.

So the show looks to be a lot of fun, and the kids are going to *adore* it. But it means I've been head down and sewing for the last week and not really paying attention to the outside world.

I finally cleared the ice off my car yesterday late, because I went to a party, and then it snowed again - but we didn't get as much snow as they predicted - only about six inches instead of the ten we were expecting. Still have an inch of ice on the driveway, but I scraped a few patches clear today as I shoveled.

Ah, well, guess I'll go take down the hem for Gretel. Tell me what all I've been missing this week!
Yeah - me neither.

Today kind of rocked my witchy socks off. But first, I spent last night holed up in Gwen's apartment avoiding the trick-or-treaters of my neighborhood (her neighborhood avoided her, so we both won). But when I got home it seemed I got trick-or-treated anyway as hanging from my doorknob was a political flyer for a guy running as a write-in state rep candidate. Among other things, he wants to establish tolls on a couple of additional roads (not rte 90 which already has tolls on it), abolish the turnpike authority, tax alcohol by consumption, build a casino, and make parents 100% responsible for the actions of their children. Oh - and he will only be in office one two-year term, and won't draw a salary or take any kind of contributions from anyone. Um. No. Thank you, Mr Crackpott, but I want someone who is not going to try to be all things to all people, and I *want* to pay my rep. I want my rep to be answerable to me because I pay his/her salary. I also want the rep to WANT to do the job for more than one term. To fix stuff and keep it fixed instead of leaving a mess for the next guy to have to clean up.

Anyway - TODAY!!! Went to the Fandom Apartment of Awesome Halloween bash (awesome place guys! So much fun!) but had to leave that quite early in order to make it to TCAN an SPOOKAPELLA V! The groups this year were amazing - and the vocal percussionists were awesome! The show opened with Firedrill - seven guys who have one CD and another one (sort of, maybe, possibly in the next few months *cough* years) on the way. Following Firedrill was Syncopation, a four person jazz vocal group (but they also play horns - just not tonight). Two women and two men - the vocal percussionist was GOOD.

Finishing up the show was Ball in the House - five guys from around here who tour, tour, tour. Their vocal percussionist is not just good, but GREAT. He started the group about eleven years ago they said. And they also have a CD about to come out of holiday music. They did do one holiday song, and it was a jazzed-up version of an old song. Lovely. They also plugged my favorite radio station - WERS 88.9 - because they play all their stuff on All A Cappella (saturdays and sundays 2-5pm). Yay Ball in the House - you guys rocked (and as Gwen mentioned, they seem partially staffed by the Brothers Black)!

One of the highlights of the show was when Firedrill put down the microphones and did a song completely clear, clean, natural - gorgeous!

Tomorrow I have a bit of shopping to do (the Halloween store is starting their 75% off sale - and I need some hats for Hansel and Gretel. If I can get them 75% off - so much the better!). And then I don't know. It seems about sixty percent of the leaves are down off the trees, so I may start raking tomorrow. Depends how I feel when I finish shopping, I guess.

A little bit extra sleep tonight is going to feel good!

So it is cloudyish today, and been threatening rain. But there's been some sun, so it was only really threatening rain, no real follow-through, y'know? Wrong wrong wrong.

I went out to get lunch, because it is Monday, and what happens the minute I start the car? It starts to rain. By the time I am checking out it is pouring. Not monsooning, but pouring fairly steadily - so I naturally get wet getting back to the car. I've now splashed through puddles, so my feet and lower legs are also quite wet.

I get back to the office and it is still raining. Twenty minutes after this adventure I look up, and not only has the rain STOPPED - the SUN is SHINING.

Someone up there is laughing their ass off.

In other news, for the "Pay it Forward" meme - I still have two unclaimed spots. Here is the info:

"I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 (now 2) people who leave a comment here on my blog. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, but you will receive it within 365 days. The only thing you have to do in return is "pay it forward" by making a similar agreement on your blog."

I will add that I'd like you to state color/color family preference for whatever it might be...
etakyma: (Default)
( Aug. 12th, 2007 05:19 pm)
From [livejournal.com profile] slytherincess - PAY IT FORWARD

Paying forward from emmagrant01, slytherincess, and alissomora's LJs . . .
Pay It Forward: I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment here on my blog. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, but you will receive it within 365 days. The only thing you have to do in return is "pay it forward" by making a similar agreement on your blog.

Just because it sounds like so much fun! So who am I making somethin' for?


etakyma: (Default)


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