Accomplishing Much

This weekend, my lovely brother and sister and brother-in-law came over to help me finish project 2, painting the exterior window trim. It looks great, takes years off the age of the house. Like Botox! Then, my wonderful friends, JR and Stacey, came over to feed us dinner. The best thing is that two out of the three projects are done. The third, window coverings, is well begun. I decided upon cellular shades and ordered them from Home Depot. It cost more than I had hoped, but I didn't splurge on much, just cordless shades in the bedroom (where the cats would be tempted to play with cords) and "blockout" shades in the bedroom (where I might want to sleep during the day, when I'm sick or whatever). I don't know if they'll arrive in time though. I spent too long trying to decide what I wanted.

In addition, I went out for Halloween with some friends. It was a lot of fun. Ego boosting, for sure. I went as Miss America and was recognised everywhere I went. It's nice to be a celebrity.

This morning I goofed off for the first time in a while, then worked on my "apprenticeship" paperwork, which I have to do before being allowed to take the Architectural Registration Exams [yip-ee]. I feel pretty prepared for my performance review tomorrow.

And lastly:
I have discovered, to my disgust, that the copy of The Count of Monte Christo is *abridged*. [shudder] I shall have to see about replacing it with a more legit copy.


First Snow in Denver

The site yesterday afternoon...


NaNoveling Time!

It's two weeks until November and I'm starting to gear up mentally for National Novel Writing Month. For those of you who don't know the routine, this is an annual writing marathon (of sorts). Participants all pledge to write a "novel" of 50,000 words in 30 days (November). Fifty thousand words is a book about 100 pages long -- shorter than most novels, but longer than a novelette. It doesn't have to be good -- actually, the point is that it forces you to write more quickly than you might if you were not on a deadline. It's a way of bypassing the internal editor. There's no published book at the end -- just the pleasure of crossing the finish line and the accolades of your friends, family, and fellow participants.
I have participated in this for the last couple years. The first year, 2004, I succeeded in finishing a novel about a female bounty hunter in space. I think it was a little cliched and the story quality didn't hold up at the end as I tried to force it into the plot mold I had figured out beforehand. The second year, 2005, I did not succeed. I started a novel about a poor, blue-collar couple dealing with the sudden discovery that a whole world of magic exists behind the everyday world. I had to give up shortly after the halfway mark with only 20K words. Work was a priority over the novel, and to prove it, I checked my timesheets. I worked 55 hours per week for the remaining weeks in November. I reread that beginning of a novel again a couple months ago and was pretty pleased with the concept and the characters. I think it was better than the year before, mainly because I was getting used to the idea of the characters running the story. I didn't keep such a tight hold on the story or plot.
This time, I'm going to go even looser. I've been having some trouble with writer's block, mostly because I've been taking writing too seriously. I've decided to treat this "novel" as a creative playground. No plot necessary, just a main character (probably modeled on myself to begin with) and the same world I used in the previous NaNovel half fantasy, half reality. There are no rules except that I have fun. And no one else will read it. That way, I won't feel restricted to what people might expect from me. I might find a few excerpts that can be made public -- in fact, I know I will, since there is an excerpt opportunity on my NaNo profile. I'll put it on the sidebar so you all can find it if you like. Look for the writer "tattoo" and click on it.
Don't worry about missing out on any of the fun. Because I spend so much of my "free time" in front of the computer during this month, you'll be seeing more posts from me, not less.

Thier slogan this year: "National Novel Writing Month: Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon." It's definitely the appropriate sentiment.

[dances a jig] This is going to be fun! :)


Baba Gha-"No Thanks"

I thought I would like Baba Ghanoush. It's made from eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parley, salt & pepper. The reason I thought I would like it is the tahini, which is made from sesame, which I love.
Turns out I don't like it. It's watery and bland and pretty much an excuse to eat a pita chip -- and who needs that? Maybe it's the brand (Blue Moose of Boulder), but I'm not seeing a heck of a lot of reasons to keep trying it.
Sorry, gods of multi-culturalism, but I'm not digging it.


Productivity is Good

I have to be really productive this weekend, because in three weeks, my aunt and uncle are visiting Denver. They will see my house and my life in Denver for the first time and I want to make a good impression.
Trouble is, the house needs to be cleaned and I have at least three projects I wanted to get done before they came. (It used to be a lot more!) I have a lot to do and I have two weekends in which to do it. Next weekend I'll be out of town, so it's this weekend and the one right before they come. In the evenings I'm too pooped, though I'll probably be able to do some cleaning.
So, what did I do today? I worked on cleaning the windows (almost finished, but ran out of Windex), did laundry and dishes, waterproofed the deck (one of the projects), and am working on finances and A.R.E. paperwork. Tomorrow I plan to grocery shop so I can finish cleaning the windows, more laundry, work on stripping window trim - and if I'm lucky painting trim (project 2) - and repainting the basement. The following weeks and weekend can be for cleaning.

Wish me luck!


Review: Buenos Aires Grill

I've gone to this grill's older sibling, Buenos Aires Pizzaria, multiple times. The empanadas are great, the gnocchi fresh, and the pizzas delicious. The service can sometimes be slow, but when you go to a Latin restaurant, you can't expect Germanic precision.

The Buenos Aires Grill, at 2191 Arapahoe St., is beautiful. The ambiance is elegant and there is a gorgeous courtyard. When we arrived at 6:30 pm, the maitre'd gave us an inexplicable caution about making a reservation next time. Inexplicable because the only seating that was mostly full was the courtyard seating. Granted, it was a gorgeous evening and we preferred to sit out there, but it wasn't a requirement. Later in the evening the inside tables were mostly full, but goodness gracious, no need to lecture.

Anyway, I really shouldn't have gone to what is, in essence, a steakhouse when I am trying to eat vegetarian. (I just feel like I shouldn't be eating the flesh of animals at the moment, no biggie.) The steaks were very tempting. But, I managed to resist, mainly through the enticement of a delicious sounding "Butternut squash and walnut ravioli in a cream Roma sauce." It was delicious. I finished with thier divine dulce de leche helado, which I had eaten before at the pizzaria, and made all my dinner companions jealous. I'd describe what my dinner companions ate, but I didn't hear (or taste) what salad they shared and they got the ravioli the same as I did. Yes, we all had the same dish. Sad, eh?

The prices were ok, commensurate with the caliber of the the food and the ambiance. The service was decent as well. My water was filled promptly (avoiding one of my pet peeves). The empty plates were bussed in a reasonable amount of time.

I might prefer the pizzaria slightly, since it's more affordable, but the grill is perfect for a special night. I recommend it and definitely plan to return.


DAM, that's a fine building

I went to the new wing of the Denver Art Museum during thier opening weekend and all I have to say is "Wow!"

Ok, I have more to say than that.

I grew up near Washington DC and am used to going to the Smithsonian quite often. The Air & Space Museum used to be my favorite, but then it got too crowded. I really like the Natural History Museum, but even that loses something after a while, since how many times can you look at stuffed animals? So, eventually I went into the East Wing of the National Art Gallery. That's the one that was designed by I. M. Pei. I'm not the biggest fan of purely modern architecture, but I was eventually seduced by the cool traveling exhibits. The space is pretty cool too, though I don't have a strong mental picture of it, like I do of my favorite museum architecturally, the Freer/Sackler Gallery (more on that some other time). Actually, I do love the pairing of the Beaux Arts west wing and the Modern east wing of the National Art Gallery.

I digress.

The Denver Art Museum (Hamilton Building) is a bit monolithic and imposing on the outside. I think it was meant to be striking and attention getting... which it is. But it almost entirely ignores it's context. It looks like an alien spaceship that crash landed in the middle of Denver. There are a few lovely juxtapositions, but for the most part it is too self-concious for my taste.

After you walk inside, however, the true beauty of the building unfolds before you. It almost literally unfolds. It's a dynamic space/experience that is always changing and surprising you. Many variables are brought into play: the light, the movement of people, your own path through the space, and where you happen to be looking at the time. Turn around periodically or look up, you may be surprised. There are a few odd touches, like the wierd digital numbers, but I think they are part of the "modern art" interpretation. They also flubbed a little on the wooden "curbs" they put to alert people to the areas of low head room.

The final attractive point on the new DAM is the art. There is a fantastic Western American Art exhibit that I want to wander amongst when there are *a lot* fewer people. There are also cool interactive pieces for both adults and children sprinkled about the museum, which I also want to play with.

I think it's a place worth taking out of town guests, and I might even spring for a membership!

Edited to add: I forgot to mention my other activities of the weekend - standing in line to get the tickets, beginning to strip paint from my window trim, going to a great new restaurant (Buenos Aires Grill), walking the Race for the Cure with JR & Stacey, and working on the paperwork for the A.R.E.


A Rare Glimpse of Me

I know that select members of my audience (who shall remain nameless) think that construction photos and stories are boring. Hopefully this one will be acceptable. I rarely put photos of myself on this site, but for this one, I'll make an exception.
For those who have never seen a picture of me -- Hi! [waves] This is me. I'm not usually attired in such attractive safety wear, but on a jobsite, it's required.
Christina, the general contractor's assistant project manager, took this picture of me while we were doing our weekly site visit. She's a neat gal, probably my age, but with 4 kids - quadruplets - two pairs of identical twins. We joke that it's perfect preparation for her job managing construction guys.
The project is coming along pretty well. A few minor impending disasters, but we've managed to deflect all of them so far.
My mum wrote me a quick note that said, among other things, "I can tell from your blog that you're busy." I'm guessing that's because I'm too busy to post things as often as I'd like. I have been extrodinarily busy lately. I spent several evenings painting pottery for gifts (one is on its way to the recipients, the other has already been given but I need to get a photo of it) and last weekend I very industriously did household chores. Granted, they were outdoor chores on a gloriously beautiful weekend, but now I know why people pay other people to wash thier windows. I'm technically not done, since I need to finish washing the insides of the windows, but I'm thinking that won't happen until next weekend, when (depending on the weather) I may be able to continue/finish painting the fence and deck and maybe start on repainting the trim around the windows. Now that really is boring to read about.
I'm feeling like I'm accomplishing quite a bit, which is good. Next thing on the agenda, have more entertaining adventures to blog about -OR- start writing again so I can tell you all what the characters are up to.
And finally, I thought I'd include another construction photo, because I think it's beautiful: