Saturday, September 27, 2008


Every year when football season starts, I mourn the end of baseball season. I have always loved baseball, from watching the Cubs when I was little, watching my brothers play little league, and playing in the backyard. Baseball=good.

A few years ago when I started to get to know Erich's family, I had a strong feeling that I would have no choice but to become a football kind of person. I would start to understand the game more and enjoy watching games. Well, football is okay... but it's just not the same. How can I get excited about a new season of football with the sucky Bears when baseball is still going on? Especially this year, with the Cubbies doing so well!

[To clarify, my in-laws are definitely into baseball, and they root for the right team. I have not been pressured into football fanaticism, but I do have to watch a lot of games, which I enjoy, but not like baseball.]

I could go on, but I really don't think I could put it better than the late George Carlin:

Baseball is different from any other sport, very different. For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs. In most sports the ball, or the object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he's out; sometimes unintentionally, he's out.

Also: in football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.

In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you'd ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform, you'd know the reason for this custom.

Now, I've mentioned football. Baseball and football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

  • Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
  • Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

  • Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
  • Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

  • Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
  • Football begins in the fall, when everything is dying.

  • In football you wear a helmet.
  • In baseball you wear a cap.

  • Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?
  • Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?

  • In football the specialist comes in to kick.
  • In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve someone.

  • In football you receive a penalty.
  • In baseball you make an error. Oops!

  • Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
  • Baseball has the sacrifice.

  • Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, sleet, snow, hail, mud, can't read the numbers on the field, can't read the yard markers, can't read the players' numbers... The struggle will continue.
  • In baseball, if it rains, we don't come out to play.

  • Baseball has a seventh inning stretch.
  • Football has the two-minute warning.

  • Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - we might have extra innings.
  • Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.

  • In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not the much unpleasantness.
  • In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being, and preferably a stranger.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are totally different:

  • In football the object is for the quarterback, otherwise known as the field general, is to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack which punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.
  • In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!

And the YouTube:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wedding Memories: Here Comes the Dress

I had done everything I could think to do before submitting myself to the dress.

Many people knew that I chose to wear my mother's dress for the ceremony. I always loved how simple and classic her ivory dress was. I had a seamstress change just a few small details. For one, the neck used to be very high. I couldn't even zip it up all the way--I guess I have a fat neck. Also, the sleeves used to be full-length. Thirdly, the bodice was made to fit 1970s cone-shaped bras. The seamstress did her best to fix that as well.

I lost weight during our 14-month engagement, but I never fit into the dress well enough to be able to move very freely, so a few months before the wedding I knew I would have to have an alternate plan for the reception. More on that later.

My good friend Kendra was there to assist. I was so excited that she was able to be in town for the wedding. She had spent the night at the home of our friend who hosted the party the night before, which happened to be on the very same street! So it only made sense that she should come on over, enjoy some lunch and take part in the proceedings.

Though Alayna refused to get dressed herself, she did enjoy seeing me in my dress. She kept saying things like, "Susan gettin' married!" It sounded more like "meh-yeed."

I didn't realize how exciting it would be to finally wear my dress on my wedding day. But once I had it on, I couldn't wipe that huge smile off my face if I tried. If only I could have looked so naturally happy in all my portraits. But, alas, I am not a professional model.

Friday Five: 9/26

Questions from here.

1. Who is your favorite author?

It's hard to pick one, but I'm going to have to go with the classic Jane Austen. I haven't read all her books, but I do love Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Sense & Sensibility.

2. What is your favorite book/series?

Besides to my favorite Jane Austen books, I confess that I love Harry Potter. I've read the series countless times and am thinking about reading it again soon since I'd finally be able to read all seven books straight through.

3. Who is a book hero you most wish to be like?

This is SO HARD! [That's what she said.] I'm currently reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, so that's freshest in my mind, but I don't want to be like anyone in that book. I've always felt an affinity with Elizabeth Bennet from P&P, so I pick her.

4. Who is a book character that you envy?

This question is suspiciously similar to number 3. I suppose I envy Hermione Granger because she's brainy and can do magic.

5. Which book do you wished you lived in?

I don't really want to live in any particular book, but I would love to be able to visit a few. One that comes to mind is Sarum by Edward Rutherford. I'd love to go back thousands of years ago in England and see what early civilization was like. I'd have to be able to take my modern consciousness with me and be able to come back, of course.

Sorry if this was a bit boring. I couldn't really get into the questions as much as I would have liked. Another excuse: my mind is a bit foggy because I'm currently under the influence of Benedryl. Some kind of bug bit me on both my ankles last week when Erich and I went out for our anniversary. On Tuesday my little red bumps turned into giant, itchy, swollen red welts. I'm still trying to decide which is worse: the drowse of Benedryl or the insatiable hunger and resulting weight gain I'd get from the steroids my doctor would prescribe me. So far the Benedryl's not doing much. Hmmmm.....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I think it's a hard and fast rule of comedy that sped up=extremely funny. This just makes me giggle:

Wedding Memories: Meanwhile, Downstairs...

While I finished my make-up and got my dress on, lots of other things were happening in and around the house.

Erin got Alayna the unofficial flower girl's dress ready.

My dad fogged the yard in anticipation of the following day's brunch.

Lucy the dog was overwhelmed.

And Sarah discovered that the clasp of her dress was improperly attached during alterations.

Luckily, my brother-in-law is quite handy with a needle and thread (a good quality in a man). Jed to the rescue!

"Mom, you put my clasp on the wrong side!"

Wedding Memories: Make-up

My hair appointment was at 9am. I didn't sleep well the night before. Had a little bit more beer than I had planned, stayed up a little bit later than I'd planned. But I had failed to realize how great it would be to have all our best college friends in town! So I don't regret any of that.

But I was very tired sitting in that chair while my hair was sprayed and back-combed to within an inch of its life. A single bobby pin doesn't weigh very much, but over fifty of them stuck into my head really started to weigh me down. And the day was only just beginning!

When I got back home to my parents' house, it was time to apply the make-up. I thought about doing false eyelashes, but I just didn't have time to follow through on that idea. Instead, I applied several coats of heavy-duty mascara.

One eye done! Melissa did make-up in the same bathroom as me.

My mom and sisters Anne and Erin got ready in the other bathroom.

Hmmm. Another unforeseen minor difficulty. I failed to make a list of the things I needed at the hotel that night! Add the chaos of the house and the self-consciousness from having two photographers roaming around, and I wasted a few precious minutes standing around like this:

No time for that, though! Must force-feed myself Jimmy John's, though who can think of eating on a day like this?

Moments in Spain: First Glimpse

...of the Guggenheim.

I took this the same time I took these photos. (My camera has a pretty decent zoom!) The day was overcast, but the titanium building still had this luminous glow. That's exactly what the architect was going for.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Look at those smiling faces. One year ago today, these two young people walked away from the altar, newly wedded, ready to face the world.

We have faced a lot in the last year. Two big trips, setting up a household, living on a budget, setting goals for the future, pregnancy, miscarriage, fertility issues, surgeries, car repairs, in-laws, and lots of laughter and tears.

I think we have good reason to hope that our marriage in the first year is a good indication of what it will be like in the long haul. We've made it this far unscathed, so I am content. Despite the hardships we've faced this year, I can't imagine a better life. The important thing is that we've faced everything together, and that "together" part will never change.

So, thank you, Erich, for being such a wonderful husband and the man of my dreams!

Lastly, I pondered last year during the two-week wedding hangover, a.k.a. our Hawai'ian honeymoon, whether I would ever post about our wedding. As I discovered with other things, I can't take the pressure of attempting to blog about something for which I have hundreds of pictures on my hard drive in a single post. That is why, now that I'm finally done posting about Hawai'i, I've decided to start a new series called "Wedding Memories," so I can put at least some of the 1500 professional digital pictures on my computer to good use.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Moments in Spain: Baby Squid

I present: txipirones en su tinta. Baby squids in their own ink! As delicious as it looks. (Probably moreso.)

Note: you can tell by the salt and pepper shakers and the fact that the bread is on its own plate that this was in the hotel restaurant, which caters to more international clientele.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Go Cubbies!

Division champs, baby!!!

Hawai'i, Part 9: Leftovers (Honolulu)

This is, by my calculation, the last Hawai'i post! How bittersweet.

On one of our last days, Erich and I went into Honolulu. We went to the Iolani Palace, another museum I don't remember the name of, and just walked around the city. I didn't take a lot of pictures, as the city really isn't very exciting. But I do remember how weird it felt to be walking around a large US city, population 900,000, that just happens to be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Weird.

Princess Ka'iulani

Check out these trees! I don't know what they're called, but they're awesome!

Hawai'i State Capitol. There was inexpensive parking under here.

Our brush with Lost fame!! We parked next to a space that was reserved for LOST the next day.

Check out this site and scroll down. Lost fans, remember that scene, when Jack and Kate were coming out of the courthouse? That's the State Capitol parking garage! We were there! We're famous!

Moments in Spain: Pedestrian Bridge

Up until about ten years ago, Bilbao was known as an ugly industrial city on a murky brown river. Then the Guggenheim came to town and the city has been systematically beautifying ever since. I found the areas around the river and the parks to be quite pleasant.

One more recent addition to Bilbao is this pedestrian bridge:

Nice, right? It's art-y. Puts one in mind of a ship's sails, which is fitting as Bilbao was a center for shipbuilding for hundreds of years.

I walked over this bridge pretty much every day. All the best stuff to go see was on the other side of the river from our hotel.

Frankly, walking on this bridge was scary, especially when it was raining. I'm not a phobic person; I'm okay with heights, etc. But walking on slick glass of a bridge with open sides was not my favorite activity. I never truly felt unsafe, but it gave me the willies.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Five: 9/19

I'm going to try this. It's like getting to do a mini-meme every week. Yay, cookie-cutter blog content!

1. What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a teacher or a waitress when I was very young. Then I went through my artist/architect phase before I realized at about age 11 or 12 that I wanted to be a musician of some kind.

2. What is your proudest accomplishment so far?

If I have to narrow it down to one thing, the answer is easy: my marriage to my really super wonderful husband.

3. What is your dream job?

Stay-at-home mom. Really. With teaching piano and playing organ on the side. Basically, a promotion from what I'm doing now.

4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to have a bunch of kids and a house with my husband.

5. What does it take to make you happy?

Okay, this is a pretty vague question, so here's a vague answer: If I feel respected and safe, I'm happy.

Talk Like a Pirate

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19, here is my last post translated into Pirate:

I think I be havin' enough moments in Spain t' last about a voyage....

I've spake that thar's nay a lot t' do in Bilbao, but thar be a wee decent museums. Th' most famous, an' accordin' t' Rick Steves, th' only reason t' avast in Bilbao on yer way t' or from San Sebastien, be th' Guggenheim Museum o' Modern Art. I sailed' thar on Toosdee o' me tides in Bilbao.

... when th' ser'er spake "Water? Wine?" I spake, "aye, please." I figured 't would be a glass o' wine or a half keg. Nope, 't be an entire keg o' wine.

Ha! I love useless but fun holidays.

Moments in Spain: Museum Lunch

I think I have enough moments in Spain to last about a year....

I've said that there's not a lot to do in Bilbao, but there are a few decent museums. The most famous, and according to Rick Steves, the only reason to stop in Bilbao on your way to or from San Sebastien, is the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art. I went there on Tuesday of my week in Bilbao.

I got there in the late morning and I thought I might be able to see everything before breaking for a late lunch, but as I made my way through the exhibits and still hadn't looked at the special collection of Surrealist works, I knew I would want to stop for lunch and go back.

One of the best draws of the Guggenheim is the excellent restaurant. Though dinners are extremely expensive, I was able to get a three-course lunch with wine for only 25 euros or so. OMG, it was so delicious! Definitely my best meal of 2008 to date. The first course was a mushroom ravioli in a frothy green sauce. Next came a cod stew dish (traditional Basque). Dessert was a sautéed apple with cinnamon ice cream. And between every meticulously savored bite, I enjoyed some wine. Wait, let me clarify: when the server said "Water? Wine?" I said, "yes, please." I figured it would be a glass of wine or a half bottle. Nope, it was an entire bottle of wine. 750ml.

All my dishes were cleared away, and this is what was left. I'm so glad I brought a magazine because I was in no fit state to walk.

This wall... is beautiful. Brilliant! The gold, the texture, it's just... wow.

Hehehehehe!!!!! They wrote on the table papery thing! WITH CHALK! *snort*

Needless to say, I really really really enjoyed all the modern art after my scrumptious gourmet bistro lunch. It was ideal, actually: I'm not sure how much the Surrealism would have made sense to me otherwise. As I was, it really spoke to me. :)

Moving on...

Wednesday was free admission day at the Belles Artes Museum, which is actually one of the best art museums in Spain. It's less of an international draw than the Guggenheim, though, and I felt more awkward trying to navigate the place with limited English signage. But I fully enjoyed the collection, and then I challenged myself to order a small lunch in the little cafe/bar. It was mostly empty, and though the bartender didn't speak English, he gave me encouraging nods as I pointed to what I wanted and muttered a few Spanish words from my phrase book.

Ordering food with a language barrier is always stressful, but it's nearly always worth it. This was just a simple lunch of little ham (jamón) sandwiches and a little beer (caña), but the atmosphere was lovely...

...the food was good, and I could be proud for going outside myself and accomplishing something that involved interpersonal communication. If I ever go back to Bilbao, I'm ever so slightly more prepared to just go out and enjoy it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Hypnotic

Like Slinky for grown-ups.

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.

From Videosift

Moments in Spain: Refreshment

Though I've never been a big fan of endless Midwest winters, I've rarely needed winter to end as much as I did this year. Our Spain trip was a Godsend, considering it kept snowing in Illinois through late April.

The weather in the Basquelands is comparable to Seattle. I bought an umbrella in Bilbao and used it often. We were incredibly lucky to have a beautiful weather in San Sebastien, and most of my days in Bilbao were overcast and wet, as you see here. But my last two days or so were much nicer. On this particularly warm and sunny day, I treated myself to a long walk down the Nervion river.

Right now, in the midst of a beautiful, green and blue Chicago September, I don't fully appreciate these pictures. But at the time, it was like a restorative elixir. Just what I needed.

My walk took me to a shopping mall, where I bought a few clothing items. I'm a larger size in Europe.... But I found some cute and inexpensive tops at Zara, which is similar to H&M, so I was happy.

I was also so fascinated by something I saw that I had to take a picture:

This model first caught my eye because she's beautiful. When I looked closer, I noticed that she's skinny--but NOT crazy, unattainable, unhealthy skinny. She has a youthful appearance, but I did see some un-Photoshopped wrinkles around her eyes. It's almost as if this is a real person! I don't care much for the clothes, but I appreciate this ad. How refreshing!

Most of my days in Bilbao consisted of getting up late, venturing out into the city mid-day, then relaxing in the hotel until Erich got back from work so we could get dinner. I could feel bad for my relative inaction, but there truly isn't much to do in Bilbao, especially for someone who doesn't speak Spanish. On this sunny day, I could do some of my sitting around time in a park. So, in typical fashion, I'm going to leave you with one of my moments in Spain:

ETA: I apologize for the delay in getting this video up. There's a 100mb video posting limit, and the one I tried was 99.9. This one is doesn't have Basque people walking by like in the one I tried to upload, but it's the same scene otherwise.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Name

I just figured something out: I still don't know when and if the name of this blog will ever change in Google Reader, but you can change it yourself. Just go to "Feed settings..." and select "Rename subscription...". Then you can call it by its current name, "Alas! Evening Lurks", or even "Susan's Blog" or whatever works for you.

Here ends my PSA.

Hawai'i, Part 8: Wild O'ahu, Continued

One of the last things Erich and I did in Hawai'i was a hike up Diamond Head, the famous volcanic tuff cone on O'ahu. It was quite a hike, but I must say I did pretty well, considering I dumped my only sturdy shoes in the trash on our way off the Big Island (they sucked), and the next best option were my celery green Crocs clogs. I know they're ugly, but those shoes are pretty amazing. My feet felt just fine after climbing up and down the mountain, and I only missed the ankle support of good shoes.

Some views from the way up:

It was such a nice day. I have four words for this next one:

Top. Of. The. World.

The views from the top were certainly worth the climb. It definitely wasn't that difficult, considering I could do it in Crocs, but there were 99 incredibly steep steps through a tunnel included in the trail to the top. I did not take any pictures of that part.

There is a typical pocket of Hawai'ian rain (which I talk more about here) off in the distance beyond Waikiki.

The most famous view of Diamond Head is from Waikiki Beach. But, above is the only view we ever got of Waikiki Beach, so if you want the famous view, I suggest Google. :)

It's interesting how the civilization embraces the terrain.

Diamond Head is a destination of many tourists from around the world.

Pictures like these take me to my happy place:

A nice couple offered to take our picture at the top. I want to be back there. Now.