Thursday, April 30, 2009

london: day one

waxy tree
The Tree Room at Waxy O'Connors, featuring a preserved peach tree.

I love London. LOVE it. Love, love London. Besides New York City, London is my favorite city in the world. My coworker and I got a last-minute package to London through and paid $1,200 each for airfare AND five nights at the Hilton Park Place. Sooooo cheap. I had visited London three times before, but my coworker had never been there before.

Here we are, jet-lagged, trying to look deep and intense, and enjoying our first beers at
Waxy O'Connors. Sorry for the blurry photo - I was holding the camera and trying to do the self-portrait thing. After a few beers, that's not so easy.

waxy outside
Here's what it looks like from the outside.

waxy beer
Our first beers in London - mine was a Caffrey's Irish ale, and hers was a Carlisle. 

waxy fish
Fish and chips with
mushy peas. I love mushy peas! I must learn how to make them. The fish was served with malt vinegar and tartar sauce. It was heavenly. We were soooo hungry.

door handles
We left Waxy's in search of a pub recommended by our bartender:
The Porterhouse in Covent Garden, and wandered into the Queen's Theatre to inquire about Les Miserables tickets. Aren't these just the greatest door handles? Ever?!

I love this photo - the blurred people walking, the wide angle lens distorting the building and making it appear to be tilting to the left, the general "off"-ness of the whole thing. I think it sums up the energy of the city that night.

food hall
This is another photo taken along our walk, near Chinatown.

chinatown london

London phone booths, a pub, bicycles, and locals dressed in trendy clothes. What else do you need in life? 

mama mia london
The very cool Prince of Wales theatre, showing Mama Mia.

astrology shop
The Astrology Shop in Covent Garden, taken because it reminds me of Laura. 

Our final destination: the Porterhouse Pub, where I fell in love with the
Porterhouse Red beer. And I mean FELL IN LOVE. It's the best red beer I've ever had. I would go back to London just to sit at the bar and have another pint. Someday I will.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a toast to katie


Today I attended the funeral of one of my friends. Katie was just 38 years old, married, and a mother of two very small children; she died unexpectedly on Saturday as a result of complications with ulceratic colitis. She was one of the first members of the theater I met when I moved back to Michigan, which means I've known her for almost a decade. The whole thing is so jolting and surreal, to have her stolen away like this.

I will miss her passion for life, her bold personality, and her sense of humor. I will always remember dancing with her on the RCP stage on the Bus Stop set during an all night party. Driving with the top down at night when she briefly owned a sports car many years ago. Jumping off a high dock to the water below during a theater party on Harsen's Island. Playing poker with her - we still had to use our cheat sheets to see if what we had would make a winning hand. Drinking margaritas. Her support during my Lyme disease battle. Her big, blonde, curly hair. The way she'd say "I KNOW!" like Monica on Friends. Her handing out mimosas backstage before a matinee; when Katie stage managed, you always got mimosas on Sunday. Going on a crazy speedboat ride and sitting in the front where it was the most bumpy, getting tossed around and soaked and laughing until our stomachs hurt.  

With her husband at our theater's annual Betty awards party.

Her funeral today was one of the most gut-wrenching I've ever attended. Her husband gave a eulogy, complete with props, and afterward, their children hung onto him so confused. It was one of those funerals where taking a handful of kleenex wasn't enough - they should have passed out rolls of paper towels at the door.

But this isn't the way I want to remember her. I will always see her in the summertime, a margarita in her hand (Katie loved margaritas the way I love beer), and a smile on her face. 

At Harsen's Island after the crazy boat ride.

I stopped on the way home to get margarita mix and tequila so I could toast her. And now I am. Here's to you, Katie. I'm so glad you were in my life.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

tough few days

houses of parliament
The Houses of Parliament, taken from the London Eye on Friday.

Sorry for my lack of posting. As soon as I landed back in Detroit on Monday, I learned that a good friend of mine had died unexpectedly. She was 38 years old and leaves a husband and two small children, and I'm having a hard time dealing and making sense of it all. I will post tomorrow after her funeral.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

london, baby!

I am off to London for five days of nonstop fun and beer! See you all on the 28th!

Friday, April 17, 2009

photo friday

great-grandma, age 13
Above, once again, is my great-grandma. Written on the back is "Laura, age about 13 years. Taken up home behind the house. That is the granery fence posts for her garden." So it would be around 1919.

I don't exactly know what that means. Up home? Wouldn't you just say "taken behind the house?" Granery posts? She must mean "granary", and maybe the family tore down the granary building and used the wood for fence posts? I wonder why that fact was noted. Did my great-grandma have her own garden at age 13? So many questions. This is when I wish I could just reach through time and ask her what was going on.
great-grandma, twenties
Here's another puzzler. There's nothing written on the back of this one. At first glance, it looks like my great-grandma is hanging out in the yard with a cigarette. But no, she's reading a card or letter. What is it? Is it important? Why is she she dressed up? Why is the chair in the middle of the yard? Is this posed? Why did someone take a photo of it in the first place?

Sadly, we will never know. But it's fun to wonder.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

high-flying ellen

I don't have a lot of artsy photos of Ellen - unlike Katie, modeling is not her thing. So when I saw her jumping on the trampoline on Easter, her bright red and pink outfit popping against the blue sky, I couldn't run for my camera fast enough. These photos completely capture her plucky personality.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

katie's 13th birthday portraits



Katie woke up on Easter morning with the most amazing bed head. She'd gone to sleep with it wet, and it dried overnight into all sorts of quirky curls and scraggly swirls. I took one look at her, then at the amazing golden morning sunlight in the yard, and said, "Get dressed. We're doing your birthday portraits."


She had all sorts of fun jumping around with her crazy hair, and I couldn't get enough of the gorgeous backlighting on my gorgeous niece.





Monday, April 13, 2009

egg decorating


coloring eggs



ellen decorates

mixing colors

katie decorates




lymie eggs
Ellen made me my very own Lyme disease egg. Isn't it cute!? She copied my lime tattoo and then added a tick to the side. Nothing says Easter like an infectious blood-sucking ectoparasite!

Friday, April 10, 2009

photo friday

vintage girls

Just a quickie post here today as I get organized - unpacking from my business trip, packing for a weekend with the family, finishing Easter gifts for my nieces, wrapping shower gifts for my future sister-in-law, and miscellaneous cleaning and madcap frivolity.

Above are Katie and Ellen in 2001 or so at the Midland County fair, in one of those booths where you dress up in vintage clothes and have an old style photo taken. Afterward, I remember Katie and I got on some ride that I thought would scare her, but instead she just kept yelling "Yeah! Faster! GO!" Ellen sat in her stroller next to her mom, watching us go around and around while clutching a mountain of cotton candy. It was a fun day.

Monday, April 6, 2009

flying away

I'm off to Washington, D.C. on business again. See 'ya Thursday!

Friday, April 3, 2009

photo friday


Today we are admiring my great-grandparents' engagement photo, taken in 1924 or so. I love her bobbed hair and dropped-waist lacy dress. And look! Great-grandma has my face shape! Or, I should say, I have hers. I love looking like her. She was strong, easygoing, and funny at the same time. When she drank tea, she'd lean over to me and say "Tea! Tea! Gotta pee!" It would crack me up every time.

She taught us how to swear in German, danced with the support of her cane when a good song came on the radio, and made the best chicken rice soup in the world. Oh, and a mean sauerkraut. It's been 24 years since she's been gone, and I still think of her every day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

reflections on an annoying holiday

The only Easter decorations I have ever owned, purchased last week.

As a kid, Easter was never one of my favorite holidays - the non-religious aspects of it. Why was a rabbit hiding multicolored chicken eggs from me? Why is he leaving baskets of candy filled with that horrid, stringy, stick-to-everything gaudy plastic grass? I DON'T UNDERSTAND. Not that the concept of some old guy from the North Pole sliding down the chimney and leaving presents made any more sense, but somehow Santa seemed more reasonable.

But the biggest reason I didn't like Easter much was the fact that you were forced to look for things. I have always HATED searching for things, mainly because I've been a scatterbrain since birth and lose things all the time. Every day is Easter for me, people. Where are my keys? Where is my phone? Where is my W-2 form? Where is my thermos - did I leave it in the car again? Why can't I find matching socks? Where's the tape measure? Where's the remote? Where's the charger for my iPod?

It drives me crazy - the hunting, the pushing things aside, the backtracking. Why is there a holiday that celebrates this? It would be like me laying out all my clothes for work, getting my coffee ready, packing a lunch, arranging my purse, and waking up the next morning to find that some giant, hairy animal had broken into my house and hidden it all. And that I was supposed to ENJOY searching for everything before I left for work. Does this sound like fun to you? I didn't think so.

Every year I'd dread helping my brothers find all the eggs, placing them in a big basket, and having my Dad count them. It was torture. And then the dreaded words "there's still two missing!" My brothers would hug themselves with delight and dash off again in pursuit of those two cleverly hidden eggs, and I would inwardly moan and twist with despair. My brain would scramble, I'd get frustrated and cranky, and I'd just wish for it all to be over.

The grand prize, of course, was the Easter basket. This was hidden somewhere you had to work extra hard to find it, like in a closet, under a bed, or in a cupboard. Always trying to be the perfect child and not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, I pretended to be really excited, but let me tell you: when I found that basket, no one was happier. It wasn't the chocolate eggs or the Pez candy dispenser with a bunny head, or the bag of sickeningly sweet jellybeans. It was the joyous relief that the game was done, and I could stop looking for things.

Even now when I watch my nieces hunt excitedly for their Easter eggs, I wonder what gene I am missing. Sometimes I can't even watch their searching; it drives me bonkers when they can't find them right away. I try to distract myself by taking photos, but then I'm all "crap, what did I do with my lens cap? My memory card is full - where did I put the other one? My feet are cold. Why am I outside without shoes? Where are my shoes? Is this over yet? Is it time to eat ham?"