Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weirdness of Late

So it's been a strange week so far.

On Friday, a work colleague collapsed and died in the company cafeteria. She was a lovely and talented lady who always had a smile and a word or two of encouragement for her fellow editors. Apparently, she suffered a massive heart attack. The EMTs said that she probably died instantly. It was sudden, and she didn't suffer, but of course our entire department is grieving and more than a little unnerved. We all used to joke that the crazy schedule attached to the program we're working on would kill one of us. And now it has. She had just turned 40. Sigh. Namaste, Nichole, wherever your spirit is now.

Late on Friday night, after we had returned from seeing Bill Frisell and his trio at the Old Town School of Folk Music and after I was tucked up snuggly in bed, Mifune got herself tangled up in a pile of plastic bags that had been sitting under the kitchen table, waiting to be tied up and hauled to the recycling bin. Somehow, she got inside one of them, which had a few more bags inside IT, so she really got ensnared except for her little legs and feet! She tore off down the hall, bumping into the walls, and somehow she found her way underneath our bed (her safe place when she was more feral). The bags snared on the bed frame and ripped, allowing her to get free. She cowered under the bed for a couple of hours after that. But the thing was, in her panic she emitted an awful stench. Just horrid. We couldn't find any urine or feces on the floor or in the erstwhile bags, but the odor was just overpowering. So overpowering, in fact, that it triggered a very bad bronchial reaction in me (the gal with the cat allergy!). Thank goodness for Benadryl. It was quite an evening!

On Saturday, we went to Riverside to have lunch with Greg. He was home from college for the Easter weekend. He suggested a new Thai place in La Grange called Thipi, and it was great. We had standard Thai fare: satay, pad thai, and spicy basil, but the dishes were so rich and tasty, with a depth of flavor we didn't expect from such basic offerings. I can highly recommend it.

Sunday, of course, was our usual Easter feast. Jeff, nephew Dan, pal Diana, and I chowed down on the traditional Love Ham, along with steamed veggies, mashed potatoes, etc. For dessert, we had strawberry shortcake. Yum!

So... that's my latest news. I hope to have some new pictures of the kitty to regale you with soon--let's just say that she had decided that Moxy and Ox--the ugly dolls--are her sworn enemies. And you don't want to be her sworn enemy! Stay tuned!

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

An Update--Finally!

So the last time we talked, I was in Florida, biding my time until I could get back to sweet home Chicago. And I promised pictures from the trip. Well, time and tide--in the form of our cable TV connection being on the blink--have finally allowed me to make good.

The photo above is from the Harry P. Leu Gardens, a lovely local landmark, and one that I'll bet few visitors to Orlando ever bother to see. It was private land until the early 1960s, when it was bequeathed to the city by its owner, whose name it still bears. The centerpiece of the gardens is the Leu home, which was built in the latter half of the 19th century and added onto by subsequent owners over the years. It was a fairly modest house as the houses of the affluent go. The gardens and land are the real showstoppers. But it had been nicely restored with botanical wallpapers, period details, and many of the Leus' personal effects. I was amused by this framed advert in the kitchen (which was quite small by today's standards):

The Dionne Quintuplets! Now, who even remembers why they were so famous?

Of course, the things that interested me were the odd details. The master bedroom sported this rather creepy lamp:

and this mannequin head, with its feathery chapeau.

I sense a theme...

The real attraction, though, was the garden itself. It boasted the nation's (maybe the world's) largest collection of camellias, and they were not kidding. Just look:

Camellia bushes. Camellia TREES! Gorgeous!

And, of course, the ubiquitous Spanish-moss-draped oaks.

And some more tropical plants, such as this one with eyes on the trunk:


There was also a rose garden--supposedly a famous one--but it was too early in the season to appreciate.

The garden visit was on Saturday, and it was the perfect day for it. Warm, sunny, just a lilt of a breeze.

Sunday, though, dawned rainy and windy, so my colleague Margo and I decided to do some flea marketing. At what turned out to be a huge market that had the market cornered on tacky! Joy!

It doesn't look like much (and by the time I snapped this, on our way out, the rain had cleared), but this low-slung building is like a warren--nay, a labyrinth--of cheesy and/or tawdry commodities. Don't believe me? Just look!

These little piggies went to market, for sure!

Bagged geishas and pre-9/11 NYC skyline motion lamps. Sigh.

A dreamcatcher, an Our Lady, or a frou-frou asymmetrical clock for everyone!

Less than two months 'til Easter! Get your bonnet here!

Have refrigerator, will decorate!

What's with the foot thing? Yikes!

Margo got into the spirit, haggling with the woman at this jewelry booth. The proprietor kept trying to interest Margo in necklaces to go with the bracelets she was admiring. I tell you, I've never heard "I'm not interested in necklaces, thank you!" repeated so emphatically so many times in such a short time span.

Margo knows how to haggle!

All in all, it was an entertaining way to spend a rainy afternoon, but I wish there had been more funky old stuff--vintage stuff--there. Oh well... if I had wanted the Rose Bowl Swap Meet, I should have been assigned a two-week gig in Pasadena, huh?

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