Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh no Papa, not the donuts!

Yesterday I came home to a note from my dad:

“Papaya was in our living room — doors closed but got into kitchen — ate a doughnut, put bite marks on loaf of bread. Also nipped Mom’s hand holding Frisbee.”

Somehow, Papa managed to open the living room door and the kitchen door. Apparently the living room wasn’t lively enough for her.

Oh, Papa.

Later that night, I was on the phone with my mom, talking about a video I saw of Echo, a German shepherd/border collie mix with a very sad past. (Watching the updated video gives me some hope. It looks like he has made progress, but my eyes still well up, especially when the girl is brushing him.)

I was also chatting about how Ginger never did the kind of crazy stuff that Papa does.

Well, I’m convinced that Papa heard me. Maybe even understood me. Because when we got off the couch, I noticed a poop she left while she had been curled up — a little brown donut hole.

So she was naughty at my parents' and she left me a surprise. Oh no, Papa! What's going on?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tennis Ball 2009

This weekend, I went to the Tennis Ball, the annual benefit for the Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation.

The Tennis Prom (as I affectionately call it) is a dressy event, so I braved the teenage crowd shopping for Homecoming outfits the night before. It was nervewracking to wear a strapless satin number intended for a 16-year-old, but I liked that our tennis group had a reason to get all dressed up.

Within the first hour, Dan (who helped organize the shindig) wanted to take off his coat, so I’m lucky to have snapped this photo of him and Mary.

And here I am with Lisa, Colleen, and Mary A. After cocktails and dinner (loved the salmon and polenta), Mary won the auction for a tennis trip to England this summer. It’s fun to see live auction stuff — the New York/U.S. Open trip (with tickets for the women's final and the men's final) looked really fun, too.

In this last photo, here are Lisa and Beth. Beth and Doug throw fabulous parties, with lots of food and booze and ping pong. I spend a lot of time in their basement.

A sidebar blast from the past: the Eddie Butts Band was scheduled to play. If I'm not wrong, I think they played at Prom when I was in high school. I’m hoping my friend Sarah can confirm this (we double dated for Tosa East Prom).

Who knew I would still be going to dances? It has definitely been a busy season of weddings and parties.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ping pong playas

I took my first ping pong class today, in the gymnasium at the Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language. It was really fun — there were kids, parents, and 73-year-old Gloria, who played college tennis.

Our instructor, Ben, watched as we took turns rallying at the two tables. He said he expected a beginner group but there’s lots of experienced players.

I did okay even though I was wearing three-inch heels. Being taller gives me better court sense (table sense?), but I think I’m going to have to wear tennis shoes next week.

Also, I just realized that, unlike in my tennis game, my backhand is much stronger than my forehand. In ping pong, I'll chicken-wing it to avoid using the forehand. Who knew?

I learned some cool stuff today. From Louis, who also started playing in his basement, I found out that a paddle with a smooth surface helps you create more spin. Being an experienced player, he has both kinds of paddles, including one with pips (the pimples on the rubber surface of a paddle).

He carries his paddles in a zippered leather case, and they are much nicer than my ten-buck number from Sports Authority. He also showed me how you use different grips like the pen-hold or the crane. (For now, I think I’ll stick with my handshake grip.)

For the next few weeks, I'll be spending my Thursdays at the tables. Maybe I'll rent the movie to get motivated.

For what, you ask?

For the satisfaction of being a respectable basement player among my tennis friends. There's Chris, who attacks every shot. And Ron, who hits fluid, sweeping strokes. And how can I forget Doug (really, I can't: he told me in the parking lot at Highlander that he would "crush me like an insect"). During a game, he also announces, "What are you gonna do with this?!" before he serves.

They can be a tough crowd, ping-pong-wise.

This game is awesome. I'm so glad my dad taught me how to play. He was — and probably still is — a fierce player.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wanna be grillin' somethin'

Ron, a friend from tennis, hosts an annual pig roast. This year’s theme: Griller, a spoof of Thriller. Here's the King of Chops with the bejeweled oven mitt I made him.

After getting a tour of Ronnieland, I settled in with a pulled pork sandwich and played blackjack with Christa, Marilee, Brad, Betty, Milo, and Dave.

Maybe it was the effect of my supersized Jack and Coke, but our table was a blast, filled with tiny bets and big emotions. And the dealer was really helpful. He gave us tips about how to play — most of which I won’t retain because I love the exhilaration of playing as if no one else’s cards are relevant. I know, it’s not a good strategy.

When the tables closed, we exchanged our chips for raffle tickets. Then Jean announced the winning tickets and Ron awarded Mike-themed prizes: a box of Life cereal, a Thriller poster, a Michael BublĂ© CD. It got dark outside (hard to see), so Colleen offered to read the winning numbers for the last raffle prize — which, suspiciously, she won. Oh, what some people will do for a Michael J. Fox movie collection.

Good food, live music, and gambling: Ron's bash was a fitting end-of-summer hurrah. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next year.

PS: "Wanna Be Grillin' Somethin'" is not my intellectual property. Ron came up with that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Emerald slab bracelet

Rings & Things holds a cash-and-carry sale in Milwaukee twice a year, and their gemstone prices are rock bottom (bad pun intended). I loved these cool, minty emeralds but found out later that Rings & Things couldn't source any more — that's the downside of C&C. Nor could I find similar stones from another vendor.

BeadStyle readers often want the exact same supplies we've used, so it wasn't an option to design a project without a source for the beads.

So I made this bracelet for Cathy's birthday, combining the 23–27 mm emeralds with 4 mm bicone crystals in Indian sapphire, erinite AB, and chrysolite silver-lined.

I had strung a similar bracelet as a design alternative to the briolette necklace that appeared on the cover of the January 2009 issue of BeadStyle. The amethyst briolettes were drilled very close to the top point of each bead, so every now and then I find a broken bead. I should probably let Cathy know not to wear this when she goes shopping or when she flings her wrist around a lot. (Just kidding. She doesn't do that.)

Anyway, it has been a busy day and week, and I'm ready to leave work now. Happy birthday, Cathy, and happy weekend to all of us!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Serene and Carlos' wedding

Yesterday I went to Serene and Carlos’ wedding, which they held at a beautiful park that overlooks Lake Michigan.

Because of my directional impairment in getting to Kenosha, I missed Serene walking down the aisle. That was a bummer: the bride walking down the aisle is my favorite part of any wedding — it’s like hearing the national anthem at a basketball game.

I did get to see them say their vows. They both looked happy and relaxed — especially at the reception, where we all ate chicken and ribs and potato salad. Both of them laughed a lot (check out their wigs at Carole’s birthday party to see their sense of humor). I remember talking to Carlos at that party — he was mocking us because our gang tended to talk about work. A lot.

Speaking of Kalmbach, Jenni, who was a designer in the art department, was Serene’s maid of honor. Serene gave the bridesmaids jewelry that I made — silver hoops and simple necklaces to match the aqua sashes on their black dresses. (Specifics for you jewelry diehards: I used a 17 mm light azore polygon drop crystal for the necklace and a 13 mm light azore polygon drop crystal for each hoop.)

For Serene's necklace, I added a crystal to the strand of pearls her grandmother had given her. She was really easygoing about the design: she trusted me to come up with the style of the jewelry and then was thrilled with the results. Love that!

It was a great day: I hung out with friends from the art department and Art Jewelry girls Kristin and Addie. And we didn't even talk about work.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

East West cover contest

East West is hosting a cover contest for their relaunch issue.

Check it out. The artists have come up with nature motifs like waves and cherry blossoms, as well as more abstract designs like paisleys. And there's even Chairman Mao at the turntables.

My BeadStyle co-workers already voted today — but, because I respectfully abstained from lobbying, the four of us voted for three different designs. Such is the nature of democracy.

The relaunch issue hits newsstands October 6. In less than a month, my article about Asian American relationships will be in print. Yay!

But, first things first: Vote. At least once.

Or how about daily?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stick pearl earrings in 2010 calendar

It’s probably a bit early to shill for calendars, but I wanted to show you my stick pearl earrings — they’re appearing on the May 20th page of the Beading Bead-a-Day Calendar for 2010. I designed the earrings two years ago and thought the calendar would be a nice opportunity to showcase them.

These earrings aren't a typical design for me. I tend to prefer symmetry, so it was a stretch to try an organic style. But I like how they're really lightweight even though they're huge.

I'd like to make a pair in silver, too. Diagonally drilled stick pearls can be hard to find — the shape just isn't that common. I should probably check Eclectica first (that's where I found the purple strand).

It's satisfying to see my design in print after all this time. And many thanks to Bill Zuback, who shot the earrings and these photos, too. These images are way better than what I can shoot with my old digital camera.