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Day 3 – Still No Bags

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

Just a quick post…I still have no luggage and I’m going on my third day here in Anchorage.  Thanks, United Airlines.  And of course my coat, medication and work-related papers are in my suitcase (along with ALL of my other necessities).

And I got to experience another joy – I got to plunge my own toilet.  Apparently the Fairfield Inn is a high class establishment – call and say that your toilet is clogged and they send up a man with a plunger.  “Just leave it outside your door when you’re done.”

Not only that, but I was just blow drying my hair (using the hotel blow dryer, obviously) and the blow dryer ATE a large chunk of my hair.  There’s a fan on the back of the blow dryer and a chunk of my hair got stuck in the fan – the dryer actually stopped running as the hair got wrapped around it.  Seems like a poor desgin to me!  So I had to turn off the dryer and pull the chunk of hair out, ripping it as it pulled out.  Now I have a large hole in my hair, a sore scalp and the yummy smell of burning hair filling my hotel room.

Sigh…

 
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My Alaskan “Adventures”

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 12, 2008 in Family Stuff, Uncategorized

Well, I made it to Alaska – but BARELY – and I’m traveling VERY lightly.  There were some major weather problems in Philadelphia that caused a delay – that, along with other happenings on my flight made it one of the more interesting flights I’ve been on in a long time.

I knew that bad weather was forecasted for our area, but it was supposed to hold off until the afternoon – and my flight was scheduled to depart at 11:30.  But just as we were boarding, the storms started to come through. 

They let us board the plane, but then we sat at the gate for about 45 minutes due to the frequent lightening crashing all around us.  Apparently, whenever there is a lightening strike within 5 miles of the airport, the plane must wait 10 minutes before pushing back – not that all of us sitting in a large metal object were safer, mind you – it was the ground crew that they were protecting.

I wasn’t too worried – after all, I had a 2 ½ hour layover in Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

We finally rolled out onto the tarmac – good news.  Bad news – air traffic suspended all flights leaving out of Philadelphia headed west because of the line of storms.

So there we sat – on the plane with the engines shut down – waiting for the storms to clear.  By the way, one of the air traffic strategies was to send out a ‘guinea pig’ plane to report back as to how bad the weather is.  How would you like to be on THAT flight?

I called and checked in with my other traveling co-workers that were scheduled to take different flights – we were all pretty much in the same boat…it’s just that I was lucky enough to actually be on the plane.

I was relieved when the attractive man sitting next to me struck up a conversation – something to kill the time at least (by the way, we remained on the tarmac in the thunderstorm for over 2 hours!!!!)  The conversation started out like a normal chat-with-the-person-sitting-next-to-you-on-an-airplane would – where are you going?  Business or vacation?  Blah, blah, blah.  He started to show me some photos on his cell-phone – pictures of his kids and wife – a little more personal, but just friendly at that point.  Then we started to talk about age…he was 3 years younger than me but his wife was 4 years older than me.  I mentioned turning how hard it is for a woman to turn 40…and he started talking about his wife going through menopause…a little more personal…but still innocent enough.

Until…he started asking me if I had any menopausal symptoms yet.  I hesitantly told him that I’d had endometriosis…and he asked if I’d had a hysterectomy.  I hesitated some more, but admitted that yes, I had a hysterectomy a few years ago (a little too personal at this point) – then he asked if I had any issues with my sex drive.  Now he’d crossed the line from chit-chat to therapy session…can’t airplanes fly through lightening anyway?

But there was more…after I kind of turned away and pretended to be VERY interested in my book, he asked me about my marriage – was it in good shape?  No, really – was I in a good marriage?  I assured him that I was – I think it was at this point that the little boy in the row in front of me threw up all over his mother – and my purse.  I’m not sure if I was relieved or not…hmmm…the sight and smell of vomit vs. a very uncomfortable conversation…tough call. 

After the vomit was cleaned up as best it could be while in a stationary airplane in a thunderstorm waiting to take off (the flight attendants were worried that if they spent too much time on it, we might miss our opportunity to take off), he turned to me and asked what I thought of the John Edwards situation (Mr. Edwards was in the news this weekend for admitting that he had an affair) – he wanted to know if I thought he really did anything wrong.  What?  Was I actually having this conversation?  Did this guy think I was a therapist?  Or was he actually coming on to me (I highly doubt it!)?   I assured him that yes, I thought that having an affair was indeed a bad thing to do. 

Fortunately, the plane took off not too long after that and Mr. Too-Many-Personal-Questions started to do some work on his laptop.

When we landed in Chicago, I had 15 minutes to run to make my connection to Anchorage.  Mr.  Too-Many-Personal-Questions asked if I wanted his cell number in case I got stuck at the airport (he had already missed his connection) – I told him that I was sure I was going to make it, thank you very much.  And I did make it after running like OJ Simpson (pre-murder) through the airport. 

And I’m lucky that I made the connection – it turns out that we were the last flight to land in Anchorage because of the volcanic eruption.  That’s right – the VOLCANIC eruption.  It filled the sky with ash which apparently can do major damage to plane engines (like make them stop running – a fact that I’m glad I was unaware of while I was in the plane in the middle of the ash cloud).  For the rest of the evening and most of today, all flights in and out of Anchorage were cancelled – several of my co-workers got stuck in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City as a result (and they were already delayed due to the weather in Philadelphia – what a great day to fly!).

So yes – I made it…but unfortunately, my bags did not.  Apparently I can make a 15 minute connection but baggage cannot.  And since there were no more flights in and out of Anchorage…my bags are having a lovely holiday in Chicago.

I needed to restock all of my toiletries since I had no idea of when the volcanic ash would clear and I also needed something to wear to work the next day.  And of course it was Sunday night and the only store open was…WalMart.  I had to have my project lead drive me to scour the aisles of WalMart looking for something somewhat presentable to wear to work the next day since he had the only rental car.  And of course, the only shoes I had were my most awful beat-up, worn-in sandals that I wore on the plane – I only wore them because they are so comfortable, but they are SO not work appropriate. 

 But I tried to work with them and picked up a plain pair of khaki capris and button-down cotton shirt – I was quite the fashion-plate with my WalMart mismatched outfit and disgusting sandals at work today!   Since I had no clean clothes I also had to pick up underwear…which my program manager held  for me as I frantically ran through the aisles picking up other personal products (my male project lead smartly excused himself to the front of the store at this point).   I guess this is one way to really bond with your co-workers!   By the time I checked out, I ended up spending $90 at WalMart on toiletries and my sad outfit – and that was just for one day…

And of course, my hair did not hold up so well without my usual hair-products – I just did not feel like myself at all today.  Yesterday I laughed it all off but by the end of today, I was really starting to feel out of sorts and on the verge of tears.  I went back to the mall and went into the Gap this time for an outfit more my style, but still had no pajamas, no other shoes and none of my other stuff! 

I think when we travel, we use the items that we bring with us to bring us some comfort and help us feel at home wherever we are.  Without that, I feel like a bit like a gypsy – a gypsy with awful shoes and bad hair.

The good news is that I just got off the phone with the airline – they have found my bags in Chicago and will hopefully ship them to me tomorrow morning.  And I may be reimbursed for some of my expenses…which would really help out.

So looking back, I think I’ve seen most of the seven plagues so far this trip – thunder and lightening storm, little boy vomit, volcanic eruption, lost bags, annoying airline passenger…I think all that’s left are locusts, right?

Here’s hoping I see a suitcase show up soon…

 
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Good End to a Bad Day

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 5, 2008 in Crafts, Other items

After I gushed in my post yesterday about how much I was enjoying my new job, I walked into a not-so-great day today.  The team is just a little bit stressed and I think it’s starting to show…

So after a bad day like that, I was overjoyed to see two Stampin’ Up! boxes sitting on my porch when I got home.  And one of the boxes contained my copies of the new Fall/Winter Idea Book and Catalog! 

There’s nothing that will relax you more than flipping through page after shiny page of great stamps, bright colors and original project ideas!  I’m impressed with the new collection – lots of modern stamps and the new In Colors are great!  I just wish that there were a few more vintage-style and ‘artsy’ images – but there are MANY others that I’m in falling love with!

By the way, the ‘in’ thing this fall seems to be scallops – scallop punches, scallop stamps, scallop edged cards…

The other box contained my pre-order of the new In Color stamp pads and cardstock – as well as a new stamp set and the new scallop punch too.  Maybe I’ll have a chance to play and post a few creations made with my new stuff.

I’ve already started to compile a wish list from the new catalog – now I just have to figure out how to pay for it.  Maybe I’ll clean out my craft room and sell some of my old stamps…but the question is, can I stand to part with any of them?????

 
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Headed Back to the Last Frontier

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 4, 2008 in Family Stuff

After traveling this weekend to Valley Forge, I’m getting ready to pack up again and head back to Alaska next Sunday morning for my ‘real’ job.  I’ve now been working at my new job for just over 6 months and am posting for a minute to reflect on my progress.

I haven’t posted much about work lately, but it’s been interesting – and very busy.  I had to work a bit this weekend just to prepare for next week’s meetings.

I love that I work only three days a week, but it turns out that I’m actually doing five days a week’s worth of work (sometimes even more) in those three days.  I don’t get much ‘down time’ at work – I rarely take lunches or have time to chat with my co-workers.  At least that’s how it’s been lately.

When I mentioned this to Mike last week, he basically told me that I bring it all on myself because I’m such a control freak.  It seems that the more work that I do, the more work that I get.  And if someone else is doing the work…it makes me crazy because I guess I really am a control freak (is that a bad thing?).

I just feel that I’ve put so much of myself into this project that I would hate to see it fail or receive bad press.  I’m dedicated to seeing it through and I want it to be a success.  I need to remember that the entire project is NOT riding on MY shoulders…but I’ve certainly had a heavy hand in it and take a lot of personal responsibility for the outcome.

I must admit I’ve been enjoying these busy days – especially being so involved in something so large and critical.  I actually like what I’m doing right now (and the extra money doesn’t hurt either).

Fortunately for me, I’ve also received some great feedback from my project leaders which helps to keep me going…imagine that?  After all that time staying at home with my children and so many years away from the industry, I’ve managed to become a valuable part of a real project again – a project involving more than just changing diapers and doing laundry.

I hope that this can inspire other moms who have left their careers temporarily and are looking at going back to work – you CAN jump right back in at work again and get back up to speed in no time.  It takes a leap of faith though – I was SO intimidated by the idea of going back into the software industry – I hadn’t had to exercise that part of my brain for the 6 years that I was at home!

But as time goes on, I realize that I’ve had it in me all along – it had just been re-directed for a few years.  And I’m so glad that I had the chance to stay home with my family – I’ll never get those years back again and I’m appreciative that I was here to enjoy them.

Now I feel like I’m a working-mom on the days that I work and a stay-at-home mom on the days that I’m off – such a great compromise!  But no matter what, I’m always a MOM first – nothing is as important a job as that.

So what do I pack for Alaska in August, anyway?????

 
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Shopping (and Stalking) at CKC Valley Forge

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 3, 2008 in Crafts, Local Community, Scrapbooks, Soldered Art, Today's Photo

I had a great time at the Creating Keepsakes Convention in Valley Forge, PA this weekend!  My friends and I went at the same time last year and had so much fun shopping, we decided to do it again this year but stay overnight for the crop and some more classes this time too.

I took two great classes (I’ll finish up the projects and post them later, but here’s what one of them will look like when it’s done…but with photos of my own family, of course)

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and got to SHOP all afternoon!  And when I say shop…the vendor area in these conventions is incredible!  Lot of new paper crafting products, demos, make-and-takes…and I also did a little bit of celebrity ‘stalking’…

When I first started making soldering projects, I mentioned on my blog a website called Simply Swank that sold pink soldering irons and other supplies including a fabulous instructional DVD.

I may have also mentioned a book, Simple Soldered Jewelry & Accessories by Lisa Bluhm (one of the ‘swanky’ sisters), that I just loved for project ideas and instructions.

Well, Lisa Bluhm, her royal ‘swankiness’ herself was at the convention and I just had to stop and gush over how much I loved her book and products!  I was such a geek – but I honestly do love her stuff and didn’t hesitate to tell anyone who stopped by her booth (in fact, she asked if I could stick around for a little while and help sell some sets with my free advertising/testimonial).  I eventually pried myself from her booth and continued shopping, promising to send her some emails of some of my projects.

After shopping all afternoon (I got some GREAT bargains!), my friends and I grabbed a quick dinner then went to the crop Friday night.  I couldn’t believe how many women were there!

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Here we are at our table:

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There were lots of vendors inside the crop as well – and one of the people helping out was…Lisa Bluhm!  This time, I was even geekier and showed her a photo of one of my projects that I still had on my camera:

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I whipped this project up this week after one of my co-workers announced her retirement – THE NEXT DAY!  (Note:  If you are going to retire, please give your friends more than 24 hours notice in order to plan an appropriate gift)  I used a vintage postcard with some images of a rose garden, added some glitter and a rub-on that says, “Enjoy” – then I wrote on the back, “Take some time to stop and smell the roses.”  Hey – it was the best I could do in one evening with no advance warning!

Anyway, I showed Lisa this photo on my camera (at least, a tiny version of it on the little camera screen) and she said she loved it (I’m sure she was just humoring me, but I pretended that she meant it anyway).  Then I took even one more step toward being arrested for celebrity stalking, I asked to have my photo taken with her and she kindly obliged:

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How did she manage to look so good after all those hours at the vendor fair?

I noticed a man standing to the side laughing at us – Lisa said that he was jealous that no one ever recognized him and asked for his photo.  Turns out, his name is Brian and he’s a model who has done lots of work including underwear ads for Target…so I told him I’d like his photo too:

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Um…I didn’t ask him to see his work – or his abs.  That might have been going just a bit too far.  Right, Mike?

I also chatted with former Paper Crafts editor-in-chief Stacy Croninger (I had my photo taken with her last year, so I didn’t make the poor woman pose again) – but this time, she came up to OUR table (was she stalking me???).  Turns out that she just announced that she is leaving the magazine to take a position as the director of the Creating Keepsakes conventions.  We talked about that a little bit (I offered some feedback on the convention – she also humored me and made it seem like she was interested in my opinion) and I showed her the photos of Emily during the “princess incident” that I happened to have out on the table – she thought they were really cute and would make a great layout…I’ll work on that when I have time.

I also saw Mindy from Crop Classix – she also found me out in the crowd and came over to chat…I guess scrapbooking is really becoming a small community – you see the same people year after year at each event.

I didn’t get nearly as much done at the crop as I’d hoped (I was too busy chatting!), but I had a lot of fun and will definitely go back next year!

After a late night of cropping, we headed back to the vendor fair the next morning and picked up a few more bargains and did a few make-and-takes.  Most of the free make-and-takes were pretty lame, (mine were always MUCH better, if I do say so myself)…but what do you expect for free?

On my way out, I ran into Stacy Croninger again and she was with Stacy Julian, the founding editor of Simple Scrapbooks.  But poor Stacy J already had a list of other stalkers waiting for photos, so I just said hello and headed out.

I had JUST enough gas in the truck to get home…and then got stuck in a MAJOR traffic backup on the Schuylkill Expressway (known for its traffic backups) – it took me almost 1 1/2 hours to get home – twice as long as it would under normal conditions.  But I didn’t run out of gas (thank goodness) and to ease my stress, I took the time in the truck to admire my purchases…now let’s see what I can create with them!

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