Fall is here?

#latergram Chicago at sunset is the most beautiful place at the end of summer.

Chicago on Monday

3:30 pm. Chicago is throwing a little tantrum.

Chicago on Friday (last week)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago has been angry and confused recently. Thunderstorms, dark skies, rain, cold weather, mixed with warmth and sun. I had to wear my wool winter coat today and I was not very pleased about that in mid-September. It just feels wrong. I want to wear a lightweight coat and cute boots and a funky scarf! There should be leaves turning different colors, not this dreary miserable mist. Everyone in the office has blankets on their laps and coats on throughout the day because our AC unit is confused. College students don’t know if they should actually put pants on, or just continue wearing leggings. Women stand shivering at the L stop in only a pencil skirt and blouse. It’s chaos!

————-

My youth group started up again last week. We have 8 young women now, and they are making their way through Ruhi Book 4. In addition, they are teaching children’s classes, learning how to guide at the House of Worship, and hosting Feast once in a while. All this while balancing crazy school loads and extracurricular activities. I continue to be so proud of them.

————–

Over the last few weeks an experienced Treasurer from another Baha’i community was kind enough to spend time with me, teaching me some Treasurer skills. A few members of our community have also spent a lot of time helping me with the transition. (I’d call their names out here but they know who they are.) This experienced Treasurer went through the trouble of making an entire chart of accounts for me to use. Funny enough, I am in budget season at work right now and a lot of what I’ve been learning through work can be applied to being the Treasurer in a Baha’i community.

It has not been a particularly easy thing to learn, but I am finding that as long as I get some decent tools and make a checklist for myself, it isn’t as hard as I thought. Granted, we have a small community in Wilmette so that helps a lot.

Halloween 2013

I was a “breadwinner” and Shea was “Shea butter” and together…we are bread and butter.

Yes, I made the costumes. Only took a few hours.

I am a "breadwinner", Shea is "shea butter"
And you expected something different from us? 😉 Happy Halloween!

Ducks

“When the Master was in the city Mrs. Goodall would drive Him and some of the friends (often including my father) to Lloyd Lake, a small lake surrounded by trees and flowering shrubs, in Golden Gate Park.  On the edge of the lake was placed a marble arch, which is all that remains of the Towne family mansion after the fire of 1906.  This arch is called ‘Portals of the Past’ and is on the shore across the lake from where the Master would stand on the path and watch the ducks.  The little ducks swam toward Him as if drawn by His presence.  Once He said, The ducks and flowers are more conscious of My presence than are the people of the city.  He spoke of many things and said that He hoped the Faith would progress in the West.”

[Source: Ramona Brown, Memories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp.47- 48.]

Thanks to Christina M. for sending this to me. 

My sad suitcase

I recently went to Florida for a work trip. At the end of a very long (and wonderful) week, we returned to Chicago tired and ready for home. My coworkers and I waited at the baggage carousel…and waited. Their luggage came, mine didn’t. My very heavy suitcase was checked, and since it is bright red, I rarely have trouble finding it.

One suitcase was going around and around, and it looked a little bit like mine, but it couldn’t be mine. My suitcase was shiny and pretty and did not have a scratch on it. Right?

Wrong. Apparently my suitcase got run over somehow. My nice suits, makeup, and everything else in my suitcase were perfectly ok, though my glasses case was dented. Delta Airlines replaced my suitcase on the spot with a similar suitcase, so I transferred all of my belongings and went home. Ah well!

Eggplant is painful

Tonight I am making Persian food for the weekend, as I’ll be in a cabin & won’t have access to all of my nifty cooking supplies. A trick that my mom told me about was to cook a whole eggplant in the oven, then take off the skin and use the eggplant in bademjaan (eggplant, chicken, tomatoes, split yellow peas over rice). That way you don’t have to fry the eggplant!

I used a fork to see if it was done, but I had forgotten to cut a hole in the skin before I cooked it, so it exploded on me. I now have 3 burns on my hand and one on my leg. I’ve put medicine on them but it is really just classic “Sholeh”. *sigh*

My first thought was “I should blog about this.” Yeah…

Venues and their lack of photos

As an event planner, I am constantly scouring websites, looking for information, photos, and contact details for venues all over the country. Whether it is a hotel, a theater, a banquet hall, or a loft space, they nearly all have one thing in common:

It is almost impossible to find a decent photo of what their space actually looks like. If they DO include a photo, it is 200 pixels square and was taken with a point-and-shoot from 1995.

Really? You charge $4,000 for 4 hours of room rental, but you can’t hire someone to build a decent website and take a few nice photos? You are trying to sell your space but you don’t want anyone to actually SEE it?

ugh.

And don’t even try to find room capacity information on the website. They want you to fill out a little form, wait a week for someone to contact you..by which point the date you wanted has been taken.

Sometimes they try to get fancy and have a video or some muzak start playing when you open their page, which makes you jump because you forgot to turn down the sound after watching Mad Men last night. If I want a soundtrack, I’ll turn on my own music.

So this is for all of the venues out there who can’t seem to get their act together: if you want me to use your space, build a decent website. 🙂

Unfortunate excursion

I took a camp chair, some books, and a sandwich and carbonated doogh (yogurt drink) to the beach a few nights ago. The doogh fizzed a bit when I opened it, and I had nothing to clean up my hands, so I had to wipe my hands on my tank top, leaving yogurty white streaks.

I settled down to read, wincing every time the yuppie mom yelled at her daughter Ella to come back toward shore, and tried to enjoy the sunset and water.

sunset flight

At some point, a gaggle of teenagers were playing with a soccer ball in front of me and spraying me with sand until I gave them a bit of a glare, and they realized that there might be violence and quickly moved away.

THEN flies were biting my feet non-stop and the sun went away and I was cold, so I gave up on the sandy area and moved over to a grassy area in the park nearby.

My doogh didn’t have a cap anymore because I had dropped it in the sand. I set down my camp chair and placed the doogh in the cupholder. When I sat down and leaned into it, I nearly toppled backwards because I didn’t realize I was on a slight incline, and doogh sprayed ALL OVER ME.

Face, hands, legs, clothes, chair, sunglasses…covered in a salty yogurt drink.

so yeah.
I packed it in after that and called it a night.

An Ode To Finals

I found this old post from December 10, 2003, and it made me smile, remembering the college days and how very horrible I was at test-taking (and apparently at writing odes). I don’t know why I put it in the drafts, because obviously it was published at some point, so I’m putting it back out there.

Accounting was atrocious
as it had the right to be
a horrible subject
it enjoyed torturing me
History was turned in
with absolutely no fuss
I quite enjoyed the class
I felt like such a genius
Management was tedious
but open-note tests do help
someone wanted me to sit with them
so they let out a yelp
All that is left is now Mathematics
statistics just kill me
probability gives me headaches
in this class there is no mercy
So wish me luck
my dear friends
as I study insanely
and pray for the end.

The flight home

In my last post I told the story of my adventures in mud on the way to my grandfather’s funeral in March. Well, my grandmother gave my sister and I some of Granddaddy’s tennis racquets. The one I was given had a wood frame around it to keep it from twisting from the force of the strings, and it is probably around 40 or 50 years old.

Granddaddy's tennis racquetI arrived at the airport about an hour before my flight, but when I went to the counter to get my boarding pass I was informed that my flight is delayed. Also, since I only had a carry on, I couldn’t fit the racquet into the suitcase, so the racquet had to be my carry-on and I had to pay $25 to check my suitcase. The gate agent felt sorry for me and upgraded me to economy plus.

As I had several hours to kill, I wandered around the Atlanta airport with my gigantic purse slung over my shoulder and an odd-looking tennis racquet in my hand. Now, I find it a bit strange that I can’t take water or a miniature Swiss army knife on a plane, but a tennis racquet with a solid wood frame bolted onto it doesn’t get a second glance from security…

Anyway, I had so many random conversations with people because of that racquet. Most of them were older folks who remembered playing tennis with a racquet like that when they were kids. I know I must have looked rather strange with that thing, riding the transit system and placing it carefully on the seat next to me where ever I was.

I am lucky to have a lot of paintings that my grandparents created, but I don’t have a lot of personal items from them, and it felt nice to have that racquet with me, almost a companion in my travels.

Stuck in the mud

I forgot to write about an incident that happened on March 4, 2011. Well, maybe it isn’t so much that I forgot. It was slightly embarrassing and hard to convey without photographic proof, so I let it slip out of my mind for a while.

At 10:00 am I left my house to go to my grandfather’s funeral in Atlanta, Georgia. My flight was at noon and my friend had offered to let me park at her hotel near the airport and catch the free shuttle.

Instead of exiting at Mannheim road, I nearly missed the exit and quickly pulled over to the area that is designated “Mud Trap” on the map below, thinking I could just cut across that little triangle of dirt and continue on my merry way.

Unfortunately, days of rain had created a mud pit that immediately sunk my car 4 inches deep. I tried using pieces of cardboard under the wheels, used a snow shovel, turned my wheel in every direction…nothing worked. I called AAA for roadside assistance…30 minute wait, minimum. I was getting worried that I was going to miss my flight.

After a while, a gentleman stopped to assist. He was wearing a very nice suit. He told me to turn the wheel a certain way and hit the gas…and promptly splattered him with goopy, side-of-the-road mud. I apologized profusely. of course. Finally a couple of taxi drivers stopped, and the three guys pushed my car onto drier land.

All I had to offer as thanks was some banana bread. The gentlemen refused my offer. One of the rough looking taxi drivers said with his thick Chicago accent:  “Honey, I’m on Jenny Craig!”

I zoomed to my friend’s hotel and told the story to the employees while I waited for the shuttle, covered up to my knees in mud and with mud all over my hands. I made it through airport security (they were baffled at my appearance) and had to wash my boots off in the bathroom by my gate. I made my flight (just barely).

The inside and outside of my car were mud-infused, and I had to get my car detailed twice before all of the mud was removed from the seats. I am still trying to get my boots clean. I truly wish I had photos, but all I could think was that I could not miss my flight.

Next installment: the flight home.

Driving D.C.

I was in Washington, D.C. to attend a friend’s wedding last weekend. It was a beautiful, special time that I feel blessed to have participated in.

However. I have figured out why all of the politicians who are based in D.C. are so angry. It isn’t the divisive politics or the lobbying. It is the complete inability for anyone in that town or the surrounding area to drive.

I have never experienced anything like this before. Part of the problem, really, is that the city is laid out in such a way that there are stoplights on every block, no decent signage, and few left turn lanes. But whatever the issue, there is no excuse for the terrible decisions that I saw being made on a regular basis.

Now, Chicago can get a bit crazy sometimes. But it doesn’t hold a candle to D.C. These people seriously don’t know how to use turn signals, they cut across 3 lanes of traffic on a whim, and are just plain obnoxious. THEN add tourists and pedestrians on phones, and you’ve got a recipe for a nervous breakdown.

And by the way, it did not matter what state they were from. They’re ALL terrible and I literally shouted “I LOVE CHICAGO.” when I got behind the wheel of my car on Sunday night.

This is classic

Today is the first day of the Nineteen-Day Fast. I came home from Baha’i Feast last night around 9:30 pm, thoroughly exhausted but happy from spending time with the Baha’is in my local community. I baked banana bread, as the bananas were turning brown and I had very little food for breakfast the next day.

I often set up my breakfast the night before, since I’m not quite functional at 5:30 am. I cleaned the kitchen, and as I picked up the electric griddle from the counter, the drawer where bacon grease drains fell onto the floor.

griddleNormally this wouldn’t be a problem, but a few days ago I had poured boiling water on the griddle to clean it off, so the bacon grease was in liquid form and covered my entire kitchen floor in bacon grease water. At 10:30 PM. And I needed to wake up at 5:30 am.

I promptly started cleaning the floor. As soon as I was done, I picked up the griddle again…and apparently all of the water was not drained, because it spilled AGAIN.

I had to wash my floor for the second time in one evening. I think I learned my lesson.

My griddle is trying to kill me.

Hot tea can be dangerous

A few weeks ago I was making afternoon tea at work as I usually do, Persian style.  We have a cute little Russell Hobbs tea tray contraption that has a little warmer for the tea to steep.  I boiled the tea, set out the cups, and let the tea steep for a few minutes.

I picked up the glass carafe and prepared to pour the tea into the cups.

And it exploded in my hand.  Boiling tea and shards of glass went flying.

I let out an involuntary scream.  Partially because it was hot, and partially because I was in shock.  A few of my coworkers came running, bless them.  I was ok, but it really was not expected.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve broken my fair share of kitchen implements and dishes, but the carafe was not touching anything when it spontaneously shattered.  This time, it was not my fault!

I looked today to find out if I could get a replacement carafe.  Turns out, this item has been discontinued.  Maybe that is for the better…

The little things when you own a home…

It is funny what you discover when you start doing work on a home.  It starts with paint, then with the floors being replaced, then the closet doors (I have 6 closets!).  As we painted, we discovered that who ever painted before didn’t bother covering the electrical outlets and switches, so they were caked with paint and kind of dangerous.

I managed to give myself a minor shock a few weeks ago when plugging in my hairdryer.  My friend’s dad came over on Sunday to show how to change the electrical outlets, which was really nice of him.  Electricity + Sholeh = Not Good.

I feel like I haven’t really been home enough to do everything I want to do.  The last month has been super busy, and it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down anytime soon.  I sometimes wish I could just shut everything off for a week and hide out like a hermit in my cozy home.  At least I have internet now!

Part of the reason that I still haven’t posted photos is that I feel like it isn’t done yet.  I want to get the scraps out of my living room, install doors, and put the finishing touches on.  I promise it will be soon!  Thanks to my parents, it is furnished, which is a huge relief.

Have you ever had home improvement projects go terribly wrong, or have something hilarious happen? Tell me about it in the comments, I love hearing about other people’s experiences.

Moving, precipitation, and me

I have really bad luck when it comes to weather and moving.  In the last 8 months I’ve moved 4 times, and each time there has been some sort of precipitation.

Every. single. time.

I went back to check the weather reports from last year for those dates.  “Surely,” I thought, “I must be mistaken! Perhaps my mind is making things up.”

Nope.  And my poor friends who’ve helped me move have been subjected to this horribly inconvenient occurrence each time!

June 22, 2009 : Moved to my first sublet in Evanston from my parent’s house. It was raining.

August 17 & 19,2009 : Moved to my second sublet in Evanston.  There was a torrential downpour.  On both days.

October 30, 2009 : Moved to my third sublet in Evanston.  Started drizzling as we drove to the new place.

February 16, 2010 : Moved to my condo.  It was snowing.

February 21, 2010 : Moved more stuff from my sublet to my condo. There was sleet this time. Super fun!

February 23, 2010 : Getting a few last boxes from the old place, snow flurries.

I am so glad that I am done moving.

The Day of Ridiculous

Today can only be called the Day of Ridiculous.  It really started last night, when I was baking and cooking up a storm, and set off the smoke alarm at 9:30 pm. My neighbors must LOVE me.

This morning I slept through my alarm, but managed to wake up in time to get ready and out the door.  I even packed my breakfast & lunch in a large brown bag.

I grabbed the brown bag and the bag of trash by my back door and headed down to my car.  With the bags in my right hand and my keys in my left, I swung the garbage into the dumpster.

I had a fairly decent grip on my lunch in the brown bag, but the handle ripped and the bag toppled into the dumpster with the trash.  Unfortunately, the dumpster had been emptied yesterday, so everything went into the very bottom. Into dumpster juice and assorted nastiness.

Gross.  Luckily, it was all still in the brown bag, mostly protected.

I wasn’t going to abandon my lunch, however.  Anyone who has spent time with me knows my relationship with food.  I couldn’t reach the bottom of the dumpster.  I looked around, and saw a desktop printer that someone had put by the dumpster, dragged it over, and stood on it.  Still couldn’t reach.

I grabbed the picnic blanket out of the trunk of my car, draped it over the side of the dumpster, and stuck half my body into the dumpster to retrieve my bag.


(artist’s rendition of the morning’s events.)

After that debacle, I got to work, nearly fell on my face when I tripped going up the stairs, and realized that while I had my lunch, I’d forgotten my breakfast on the kitchen counter.

Can we just start today over please?

Frog prince

We went for a walk on Sunday near the river, and I found my frog prince (ok, he is a toad, but the principle applies).  Unfortunately, he did not change into a human being.

Mr. Toad was quite adorable, however.  Just look at him!

An open note, #2

Dear teenagers,

Leaving chewing gum on the floor of the dressing room where my new boots can step in it is not acceptable.

Neither is leaving fifteen prom dresses in a crumpled heap on the floor, forcing me to pick them up.  If you thought lifting weights was good for your arm muscles, try prom dresses.

Finally, human skin was never, ever meant to be orange. It hurts my eyes…tone it down a bit.

Sincerely,

me

Persian Perfume

I should start my own perfume line.  It will be based on Persian cooking, mostly.  There will be “Kabob Koobideh“, which smells like it just came off of the grill, “Persian rice”, which has the fragrant aroma of rice and saffron, and of course “Rosewater&Honey”, since that is how all Persian desserts are flavored.  There will be more fragrances as the line expands, of course, but those will be the original products.

My target market is women, especially those who want to attract a man who is looking for a wife who has some of the more…traditional…skills.  He doesn’t have to know that she ordered that ghormeh sabzi, rice, and faludeh from the local Persian restaurant.  She will smell like she has been working in the kitchen all day.  The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? 😉

I will also target individuals who love Persian food but have not quite gotten the hang of making it correctly, college students who are away from home and miss their mother’s cooking, and people who really wish that they were Persian.

I’ll make a fortune. 🙂

The Cat

I have never been particularly fond of cats.  They are less predictable than dogs, more aloof, and I am slightly allergic to them.  But cats and I usually come to a sort of…understanding, and avoid each other whenever we must coexist.  I will even pet them if they’re nice.

My cousin is wonderful.  I was staying with her in NYC, and she is a perfect hostess and dear friend.  But her cat…oh my.  We just could not seem to agree.

1. The cat attempted to sit on my head while I was sleeping.  Several times.

2. I woke up at 3 am with two glowing eyes a few inches from my face.  Do you know how disconcerting this is?!

3. My foot was sticking out from under the blanket, and the cat bit my foot.  This was at around 5 am.

4. She knocked my glasses off of the ledge, and then looked at me like it was my fault.

5. I locked her out of the room, and she scratched at the door and mewed all night.

6. She climbed outside the window and stood on the ledge, several stories off the ground.  I was really hoping I wouldn’t watch this cat fall off of the ledge.

hahaha.  Regardless of all of this, it was pretty amusing. And my poor cousin kept trying to keep her cat off of me, with limited success.

(The criminal, looking guilty as usual.)

Baha’i Fast Survival Kit

Includes:

  • freeze-dried food and energy bars (for waking up too late to cook breakfast/emergency hunger at sunset)
  • an alarm with built-in sunrise and sunset times, which beeps as you get closer to the deadline
  • a clothespin for your nose (for while you cook or have to be around yummy smelling food)
  • a prayer book
  • extra-strength toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash
  • sleeping mask for those daytime naps
  • energy drink (for the after-dinner food coma)
  • instructional manual with list of best foods to eat during the Fast, how to explain to your friends that Fasting is medically healthy for most people, and activities one can engage in besides eating (sudoku, knitting, origami, cross-stitching, organizing paperclips, etc)

Only $19.95!

This little idea came out of a conversation I had with a friend about cooking dinner during the Fast.  It is the last few hours which are the hardest, as you prepare food and anticipate the moment that you will eat and drink again.  I tend to get more creative during this time…I want to eat really good food!  In the last few days I have made: homemade spaghetti (none of that canned stuff), burgers, mashed potatoes, pineapple meatballs, scalloped potatoes, Persian rice, and a few other random things that I can’t remember.

The Fast is a spiritual time, but you DO have to keep a sense of humor about it. 🙂  I was going to put a picture of food to illustrate this post, but decided to be kind.  Also, it is time for my nap.

An open note

Dear teenagers,

Please note that tights should not be worn as leggings, and leggings should not be worn as pants.

Also, slobbering all over each other in public is considered to be in poor taste.

Finally, your mother called, and she would like her 80s clothes back.  Especially the acid washed jeans and shoulder pads.

Sincerely,

me

(this is the result of way too much time spent at the mall in recent months)

Recently

I now have a giant bruise on my leg that hurts every time I walk.  I didn’t get this bruise from hitting the ground too hard after skydiving, or from fending off a vicious bear.  I didn’t get it from a sword fight while saving the kingdom from evil, or from rescuing a child from a burning building.

I walked into a table.  Again.  With eyewitnesses, who winced at my pain but also laughed at me.  Thanks, guys.

There are times when I am graceful, and times when I am decidedly not.

Also, the other day I poured milk into my bowl of rice and stew, instead of into my coffee where it belonged.

I made a flan for my mother’s birthday the night before…and of course, forgot to put it out for her birthday.

I went to the pool, and forgot to take a towel.

I am young, and I am losing my mind.  🙂

I mean, really…

As a departure from the last few rather serious posts, I’m going to write a bit about my recent adventures.

I stopped in Madison, Wisconsin on my way home from Minnesota a few days ago to visit a childhood friend.  She was kind enough to let me stay at her apartment, and we had a lovely time exploring the town (I got to pretend like I was in college again!) and catching up on life.

We were preparing breakfast that morning, and I may have been a little bit sleep-deprived (and had not had caffeine yet).  As I reached for the eggs, I slammed my forehead directly onto the refrigerator handle.

At the same time, I was having an allergy attack and was sneezing uncontrollably.  Holding my aching head in my hands, I went to the living room to get a tissue…and walked right into the sharp edge of the coffee table, scratching and bruising my leg at the same time.

I sat quietly for a while after that.  🙂

Today, I spilled half a container of vanilla on the counter while making gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.  sigh.

Grandparents

My Persian grandparents are visiting right now.  They left Iran after the 1979 Revolution, and have lived in the United States since then.  My grandfather (Baba) is in his 90s, and my grandmother (Maman) is in her 70s.  They are hilarious and adorable, and I’m so glad I get to spend so much time with them.

Today my mother went with them to the grocery store.  They came home, and as I was putting shoes on to get the groceries from the car, Baba insisted that he wanted to come help get the groceries.

90 years old, and wants to help me, a 24 year old, carry groceries.  Needless to say, I did not let him help me.

I had techno music playing while I cleaned the house.  When they got home, I turned off the music.  Maman says to me, in Farsi, “No, the music is nice!  We are American now, we like it!”

Mom and I went outside and died laughing.

Overheard in Chicago

“Hey man, you gotta wipe the prints.  They find the prints, you’re going to get caught.  You gotta wipe the prints!”

-young man on the phone, crossing the street at State and Randolph, downtown Chicago.

hahahaha, yeah, that was weird.  And oh, I’m back.  Sorry about the problems with the site, all fixed now (thanks, webmaster!).