Saturday, June 11, 2011

For Good

I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them and we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be that we will never meet again
In this lifetime so let me say before we part
So much of me is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird in a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
Because I knew you
I have been changed for good

Like a comet pulled from orbit / Like a ship blown from its mooring
As it passes a sun / By a wind off the sea
Like a stream that meets a boulder / Like a seed dropped by a skybird
Halfway through the wood / In a distant wood

Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better

And because I knew you...

Because I knew you...

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

-"For Good" from Wicked

Saturday, June 04, 2011

On Being Selfish

I really love to travel. I do. I've been all over the world. But I kind of have a newfound appreciation for it this year. At the risk of potentially sounding a bit whiny or ungrateful or burdened (and I'm not any of those things), in the past, I've always traveled for other people. I'd fly to Illinois to see my family. I went to France to see a roommate. I went to Australia to see a then-boyfriend. I'd drive to LA to see friends. Not that I don't want to see those people - I LOVE seeing my family and friends! But traveling solo with no one waiting for you on either end has really really huge perks.

Earlier this season, the first time I went up to San Jose for a Hawks/Sharks game, it was really kind of cool to realize "Wow, it's really late, I don't want to drive three hours now and I don't have to work tomorrow. I can stay here for the night and it will affect exactly no one!" It was even better when I was down in LA for other games over the past few months; I stayed at the Queen Mary, went on the ghost tours, because I wanted to. I stayed at the JW Marriott downtown & got treated like a princess. I didn't have to convince anyone to go with me or spend their money on something I wanted to do. I had the money; I had the time; I had the desire. I could just go.

I'm doing the same thing again this summer. In a couple weeks, I'm going to Vegas for three days. By myself. For no reason other than there are two shows I want to see (Penn & Teller's show at the Rio - I really hope they do the Magic Bullet! - and the annual NHL Awards Show at the Palms, because I've never seen a live awards show for anything and I love the NHL, although it will not be a nice feeling if I have to see Vancouver players with the Cup =P). Then next month, I'm going to Chicago. Not to see family (although I do have a few days planned with them - like I said, I do actually enjoy their company occasionally), but to do something I want to do, like go to the Blackhawks Convention and a Cubs game.

I'm 30 years old and I want a weekend in the city without restrictions. There are things that just are more fun with a group, but then you always have to plan things and work out schedules and transportation and be dependent on whoever you're seeing, at least to a certain extent. But what happens when you don't have a group handy? Your friends either aren't interested in what you want to do or don't have the money handy or have to work or something? Do you put your plans aside and wait for the perfect combination to occur? I, personally, say no. Life is way too short to wait for convenience. Just go. So I'm going.

And I can't wait!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Never Forget

I am an American Airman.
I am a warrior.
I have answered my nation's call.

I am an American Airman.
My mission is to fly, fight, and win.
I am faithful to a proud heritage,
A tradition of honor,
And a legacy of valor.

I am an American Airman.
Guardian of freedom and justice.
My nation's sword and shield,
Its sentry and avenger.
I defend my country with my life.

I am an American Airman.
I will never leave an Airman behind.
I will never falter,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This Week in Life...

-Tried jiu jitsu for the first time this past week. I'm ambivalent about it right now, although I can't participate in the sparring yet due to my ankle. The class is huge, though, and is made up of a lot of my guys from FIGHT. It's also always interesting to see Sir as a student.

-Took and passed my CDCs this week. Basically, this means I went up a level at work. It's not nearly as big of a deal as it sounds, although it is important. It's good that they aren't hanging over my head anymore.

-Was a DV escort and runner for the DO's promotion ceremony this weekend, and then was invited to a more intimate party after drill with his family, the 216th brass, and the people who helped out with the ceremony. It was fun, and a good reminder that I am lucky enough to be working with some really good people. Even if I did take some ribbing from some of them about my hockey fandom. Also got some encouraging tidbits on the job I applied for, so that was nice.

-Really not thrilled with the start of the Western Conference Finals. I don't like the Sharks, but I seriously loathe the Canucks. However, all hockey hatred aside, the NHL lost a fan favorite this week with the sudden death of NY Ranger/former Minnesota Wild player Derek Boogaard. Thoughts go to his family and friends. RIP Boogeyman.

-Had a lot of fun for my birthday this year. Probably the best birthday I've had in a long time. Still had to work, of course, but we had a cake on my actual birthday and also got to talk to my mom, got a beautiful present from my parents, and stayed up late talking to my brother, so that made it a good day all around. We went out to lunch at our favorite tri-tip spot on Friday, because meetings and schedules didn't work out until then, and a guy that I think might be flirting with me a little got "dragged" to it, as well, so that was fun.

-Worked all weekend, gonna work all week. I need to go dress-shopping for Vegas at some point next weekend...hmm....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Next Thirty Years

I think I'll take a moment to celebrate my age,
The ending of an era, and the turning of a page.
Now it's time to focus in on where I go from here.
Lord, have mercy on my next thirty years!

In my next thirty years, I'm gonna have some fun,
Try to forget about all the crazy things I've done.
Maybe now I've conquered all my adolescent fears
And I'll do it better in my next thirty years!

My next thirty years, I'm gonna settle all the scores,
Cry a little less, and laugh a little more.
Find a world of happiness without the hate and fears,
Figure out just what I'm doing here in my next thirty years.

In my next thirty years, I'm gonna watch my weight,
Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late.
Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers -
Hey maybe I'll remember my next thirty years!

My next thirty years will be the best years of my life!
I'll raise a little family and hang out with my wife.
Spend precious moments with the ones that I hold dear,
Make up for lost time here in my next thirty years!

-My Next Thirty Years, Tim McGraw

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Um, wow!

How did it get to be May already?? Yikes! I keep thinking "I'll post something when I actually have something done/going on" and then I never seem to have time!

For the knitterly types, I did finish the test knit, nicknamed The Beast due to its size and color, but properly called a Hip To Be Square Cape, and loved the result....pre-felting. It was a cape, a lovely warm drapey soft cape with a cute little collar. Then the washer ate it. Stupid cheap laundry-room washers! I'd been afraid of that result, so I'd tried to hand-felt it in the bathtub first, but it was way too big to do that.
All that lovely soft Malabrigo! So stiff and short now! My heart cries! But the color is pretty...sigh. Anyway, since I'm in no danger of jinxing anything now (yes, I'm being a sore loser, but no one will ever be able to convince me that the Canucks were the better team in ANY sense in that series), I've also started a Blackhawks-themed Short-Row Striped Pullover, which I think will rock. I'm using black for the sleeves, hem and collar, and then the stripe pattern is predominantly black, red and white, with green and yellow highlights. I have one sleeve done so far - I almost always do the sleeves first on sweaters - and hoping to start the second one today! I've also started an Adamas Shawl in the Claudia's Handpainted Silk I got a couple years ago. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, and have now remembered why I rarely do lace projects (they aren't hard, but are not good knitting for watching hockey, to say the least). It is starting off rather well, though. No good pics yet. During the first round, I also started a super simple *yo, k2tog* scarf out of the leftover Mal, which is turning out quite charming and I can imagine will be insanely warm.

In work news, things are going really well. I've kind of settled into the job, but of course, once I did, another job opened up at the 216th that I was STRONGLY encouraged to apply for. I hemmed and hawed about it until pretty much the last minute, but I did apply for it. Better pay, more in line with the actual mission of the 216th, and I might be good at it. We'll see. Other than that, love the job, love the people I work with (the girls all ganged up for dinner and a show this week, which was fun), and if it didn't start so early in the day, it would be almost perfect. One decision that I have never regretted. Ran into a bunch of old friends at the theater, and they all mentioned that I look happier, steadier, and more confident than I ever did before. I definitely feel it!

Also helping that - finally being back in martial arts! I don't think I mentioned that I tore my ankle up (again, same ankle) in March. I was running a trail on one of the COD commander's "death marches" (his usually around 5-mile, often very hilly, insanely-early-on-Thursday-morning, not-required-but-highly-encouraged runs) and just rolled it. It didn't seem that bad at the time, but when it was still "not right" after the weekend, I got it looked at. Doc said it was a combination of new mild sprain plus the severe sprain from last summer never actually healing properly (wonder how that happened), and he forbade pretty much any exercise that involves legs at all until the beginning of April, when I could see a physical therapist. She took a look a it and decided that it seemed like the tendons and ligaments had healed properly, but the muscles hadn't. So I've been in physical therapy for about six weeks now, mostly working with one of the assistants on strength, balance, and flexibility, and STILL haven't been completely cleared to run. I can do up to 15 minutes (on a good day), mixing running and walking, and no more than 1.5 miles on flat surfaces.

I DID, however, get cleared to go back to class, as long as I don't jump or spin on it. The not jumping is easy - I've never been much of a jumper - but the spinning is harder to remember, particularly in forms and sparring. It's SO good to be back in classes, though! I might make second degree yet! I've been to tkd and kickboxing so far, and am hoping to make it to FIGHT on Tuesday this week if the ankle holds up. It's been pretty good, although I am definitely out of shape and have lots of soreness, although I wasn't thinking at one point Wednesday and threw a spin hook kick during sparring, which wasn't appreciated.

I don't get to see Sir very much - Mrs. S teaches on M/W now, and he teaches on T/Th, which are PT days - but I ran into him the other day and he really wants me to check out the new jiu jitsu class on Thursday nights. Definitely not going to participate in anything new until the ankle is completely okay, but I promised I would come watch a few classes. I would like to be able to do both PT and classes on the same day, and I think I am not far off, although it helps that I can't DO a lot of the PT right now, since it mostly involves running. I do SERIOUSLY need to work on pushups, though. They just hurt - my ankle, my elbows, ugh! And I need to get back into running if I'm going to do this half in September! We'll see. I'll just keep working as best as the docs & the body will let me and hope I don't re-injure anything!

Hmm, what else? Going to Vegas in June as a birthday present to myself. I'm leaning toward totally indulging and getting a package that includes a ticket to the NHL Awards. (In which case, working out more is going to be a very good thing, cuz I'm vain enough to want to look amazing in Vegas just in case ;-) ) Also going to the Blackhawks Convention in Chicago in July and going to hang out with family & catch another Cubs game with my brother & cousins during that trip. Yay!

Think that's about it. It's Mother's Day, so I should probably get my sunburnt self (reading out in the sun yesterday - I swear I was only out there for maybe half an hour!) off the computer and call Mom...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Song Bomb & Other Dreams

I could have danced all night!
I could have danced all night!
And still have begged for more!
I could have spread my wings
And done a thousand things
I've never done before!
I didn't know what made it so exciting,
When all at once my heart took flight!
I only know when he began to dance with me
I could have danced danced danced all night!
-"I Could Have Danced All Night ", My Fair Lady

Thanks to Jinny for getting the song totally stuck in my head. And then my brother saying he had been watching it earlier too.

Been having a LOT of dreams lately. Not sure if it's the weather or just being on an almost-regular sleep schedule (they say sleeping better makes you dream more) or just being in a really good mood recently or what. I dreamed that Skille would get traded two days before it happened. Dreamed of a thunderstorm, then one hit this weekend. Last couple dreams have been about training for the run with some stuffed/cartoony animals (not as creepy as it sounds, was kind of funny), talking to Jonathan Toews before a press conference or game (he gave me a hug, kept his arm around me, asked me about work and told me he was mixing a new song for the pregame videos - because the players do that /sarcasm - and that everything would be alright), being a contestant on SyFy's "Face/Off" makeup competition and being totally overwhelmed because I knew nothing about makeup and am not creative (those three dreams were all in one night!) and then last night's was trying to convince/protect my tech school roommate from getting involved with a really bad crowd and then having to leave her to protect myself when she did anyway. Very busy subconscious, I guess! Nothing bad or scary, mostly encouraging or self-aware, actually, so that's cool, but always interesting.

I've started the test knit for the Ravelry designer. It's going to be a felted cape, actually! I'm super-excited, but this thing is going to be huge pre-felting. And okay, Malabrigo totally lives up to the hype. This yarn is INsanely soft and so pretty! I love it! It borders on being almost TOO soft, though - this stuff will almost felt if you just LOOK at it too roughly. Which is great for spit-splicing, I love not having many ends to weave in! The pattern itself is a touch fiddly - there are a couple different techniques - but not difficult. It will take some time, though, just because of its size. I also finished the dishcloth blankie for our newest little guy AND got to cuddle him in it when he visited us at work the other day! He's so cute!

Now taking advantage of a three day weekend to get caught up on some housework and some homework. Really struggling with this class, even though it's actually a bit more interesting than the others. Well, I shouldn't say that. I should say the assignment structures are more interesting, the material itself is still quite boring. But instead of one or two massive papers and exams, we have LOTS of small(ish) assignments each week. When you already start out three weeks behind b/c of transferred classes and textbook mishaps, it's really very frustrating trying to get caught up and then stay caught up. And with online classes, it's SO easy to procrastinate! Hate that. Hate that I let myself do that! Definitely going to be working on that.

I'm also training a Canadian captain at work right now, and Kings 5K run is in less than two weeks! And then I start the training program for the Disneyland Half! Oye! Busy!

Monday, February 14, 2011


-Why yes, I would LOVE to help organize the food for a wingman day this Friday. Because, you know, I have NOTHING else to do this week, what with being the only certified military member in my shop on days and four, no, five sensors in various phases of testing right now. So yes, you put that list on my desk and see how quickly I get to it. Mrph.

-If you're in the Western Conference and are not the Blackhawks, I will not be cheering for you unless your win will somehow help us. Eastern Conference winners preferred right now. (Related: Versteeg to Flyers - possibly awkward first practice but maybe he'll find our missing puck.)

-Counting while knitting is useful. Maybe I should try it some time.

-You're the creative genius. You come up with the idea and I make it happen. That's how we work. Don't make me attempt to be creative. It's not a good situation. (But thank you for calling.)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Nap time!

-Pouting, only this time I can't put the blame on the refs. This one was completely us. We're jinxed. We've been playing hard (except the powerplay, which looks like we've never seen a puck in our lives), and defense & penalty kill has actually far exceeded my expectations. Offense is just not connecting and it makes me sad.

-The dishcloth blanket is never-ending. I swear. I've knit and knit and knit on it and it never stops.

-I can't believe I'm even considering doing the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. I'm so not worried about the 5K next month, but 13 miles??

-I'm training a new person in our shop at work, and my NCO has been on baby alert all weekend. So life is all sorts of fun there right now. Just when I think I know what is going on, I get to feel like a dumb new airman all over again!

-I hate drill weekends right now. 12 days in a row of being up at 0530 sucks. The guys usually try to give me either Friday or Monday off, but w/ their schedules, it didn't work out this weekend. I got this afternoon off, but that doesn't help the sleeping in factor. Sigh.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

American Airmen v. Canadian Officers ;-)

I love my shop. Actual conversation as I was leaving on Friday (the American NCO & Canadian MWO had been jabbing at each other all day):

Me: Alright, I'll see you guys on Monday!
MWO: Wait, you left early yesterday and you think you can leave again today??
Me: I left 20 minutes early yesterday! Captain kicked me out cuz we were bored!
MWO: Oh, so now you're quantifying it?? You think it matters how early you leave? Slacker!
NCO: In all fairness, she does have to be here all weekend.
MWO: She gets paid for it.
Me: Actually, I don't.
NCO & MWO: ????
Me: The orders I'm on don't pay me any extra for drill weekends.
NCO: That's dumb.
MWO: Meh. Cry me a river.
NCO: I'll cry you a lake!
Me: They don't need more lakes in Canada.
MWO: Don't YOU start! I like you!
Me: Hey, I like Canadians. You play good sports.
Canadian Captain 1: What? Golf?
MWO: Hockey. She might actually know something about it.
Me: In fact, I'm on my way home to watch a game now.
Canadian Captain 2 (who just walked in): Who's playing tonight?
MWO: Blackhawks.
(Collective Canadian snort)
Captain: Yeah, you'd better leave!

In other news, I've been asked to test knit a new pattern for the lady who designed my Swirls hat (the black & red one from the January Hat Trick). She said she would cover the yarn and asked me to pick a color. I didn't know that was going to result in a BAG OF GORGEOUS PURPLE MALABRIGO arriving at my door a few days later! I've never gotten to work with Mal before, and it's enormously soft just in the skein, so I hope it lives up to the hype. The cat seems to love it, anyway; no matter where I put it, he ends up on top of it somehow. The designer is finishing up the pattern now and I should get it next week. I think it's going to be a wrap of some kind from the way she talked. Very excited!

Just finished PTL training. I figure this is going to force me to get better at pushups, since I'll be in a position to have to practice what I preach now. I did, however, get several tips on practice programs and form (apparently I am unbalanced - no comment - I don't pushup evenly with both arms. I still favor my right arm almost three years after injuring it. Never realized it.)

Spring Training starts in three weeks! Yay! (I am focusing on that positive hope right now instead of the seething anger I still feel after my Blackhawks were just absolutely robbed by the referees last night. Clearly, it hasn't settled down much. They are handling it with much more class than I am.)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Learned Stuff

-There are days that when someone asks me what I'm doing at work, it is all I can do to answer with a straight face because the task at hand seriously sounds like something a character out of Star Trek would be doing.

-I have the baby blanket for the little guy who is coming in May done. The one who is coming this week? Not so much.

-I seriously dislike yoga as a PT exercise. At least on wet, uneven grass. But I still hate pushups more.

-NHL All-Star Weekend was ridiculously fun to watch. But I'm glad real hockey is back now.

-Homework is better when there is an actual, definite answer to the question beyond "what do you think?" I think those kind of assignments are stupid. TEACH someone what sort of things they should be thinking ABOUT in the context first. I used to say it emphatically about stage management, and now I'm expanding it to all management - you can't learn it out of a book. You've got to get out and get your hands dirty and actually learn how to solve the problems as they come to have any idea of what s really going on.

-I'm very glad I live in California right now. I had to debate if it was cool enough to wear my PT sweatshirt today. It was.

-Food Network is strangely addictive.

-I've run a little over 25 miles so far this year, averaging a little over 3.5 miles per run. I still hate running, but at least my time will get better! I'm kind of looking forward to the 5K in March now. (But will be looking forward more to the hockey game afterwards.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

HUGE Long Catch-Up Post

Alright all, life has been absolutely insane lately. This is going to be a huge post spanning a couple months and several topics, including hockey! So let's get going!

As of around the beginning of December, I am completely, officially Combat Mission Ready (CMR) certified in my position on base. This basically means that I can be trusted to work on my own, which is awesome because there are only four people in my shop (me, two active duty, and one civilian) and me being able to handle the everyday stuff frees up the other guys to do more of the supervisory/bureaucratic and more in-depth analysis projects. (For the curious, the overall gist of my job is to manage all the sensors in the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) and not only make sure that they're playing nice with each other, but that the data they get is good. In a fun-fact nutshell, I run the network that tracks Santa on Christmas Eve.) It's been working pretty well for us so far. I will stay full-time with them through March, and then I'll start splitting my time between the JSpOC and the 216th. For the most part, I like my job a little more every day, although of course there are days that I want to run away screaming or my brain feels like scrambled eggs by the end. Orbital mechanics and computer programming just really shouldn't reside in the same brain, I'm convinced.

Tomorrow marks two years since I enlisted. There have been three decisions in my life that I knew were absolutely, positively right the second the option was presented to me: going to Purdue for college, moving to California, and joining the Guard. Those clicks don't happen often, but I'm glad they did when they did.

Working Out
Unfortunately, I haven't been in the dojo all that much lately, although I do try to make it in at least once a week. Mostly, I have been running. I don't particularly enjoy running, but it is the biggest part of our PT test and the easiest workout to get in, since all I have to do is change shoes and I can run pretty much anywhere. I prefer running the 1.5-mile trail on base, but the new colonel in charge of my division has mandated a 5 mile run every Thursday morning, so been working on upping the distance. I'm not quite up to that distance yet, but I can do a 5K fairly comfortably, if very slowly. I am hoping to do the LA Kings 5K in March now.

Unfortunately, the worst part of my personal PT test that I did in December was pushups. I passed that segment, but not nearly as well as I would have liked. So I would prefer to work on those and build up arm strength, which is more dojo-type work. And kickboxing and tkd are always good, but I really miss FIGHT. Tuesdays and Thursdays are squadron PT days, though, which makes it difficult to get in on those days. We'll see.

Got a couple projects going right now. One of the girls in the squadron is a big Sharks fan and expecting, and I found a really cute baby jacket pattern and some Sharks-inspired yarn for her. I'm also working on a baby blanket for one of the guys I work with whose wife is expecting. But my main focus the past week or so has been our annual Puck This January Hat Trick K/CAL. I already have two goals finished:

Rebecca, from Knitty. Yarn is Berroco Vintage I got in the Start of Season Swap and super squishy. Chunky yarn + big needles = quick knit. It's not nearly as complicated as it looks, either, although I personally think it would easier to follow if it was in a color-coded chart instead of written out. And:

Chicago, based on this hat sold on Etsy. The lady who knit & sold it there graciously shared the star chart with one of the Blackhawks fans in Puck This, and allowed her to share it with the rest of the group. It's jut a plain old striped hat, and then the stars are duplicate-stitched on afterwards. I'd never done dup stitch before, so that was new, but it turned out to be rather like cross-stitching, and after a few tension mishaps, I got the hang of it pretty well. Unfortunately, the pattern was written for chunky yarn and I used worsted, so I have a very cute child-sized hat. I'm thinking about sending it off to a kids' charity in Chicago. But I do kind of like it, too. I might have to make another one in my size.

My third is on the needles right now, and is kind of a test-knit for the designer since it's fairly new and there haven't been many done yet.
It's called the Swirled Striped Hat (pattern available via Ravelry download), and I like it so far. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it's got a lot of potential. As with my A New Angle afghan, I've been giving feedback to and getting feedback from the designer, which remains one of the coolest parts of Ravelry. And, why yes, those last two do just happen to be Blackhawks-inspired, since it is a hockey group's K/CAL. And speaking of the Blackhawks...

I know I wanted to keep the hockey talk to the other blog, but to me, these ended up being more personal than sporty. Not only did I get to enjoy a game at the UC this year AND do my personal Thanksgiving Blackhawks marathon, but I ended up being a Blackhawks California season ticket holder! I was able to make it to ALL SIX games that the 'Hawks play in California during the regular season! And have pretty darn good seats (and places to stay) at all of them.

In order, some of the pics w/ stories (photo albums from games behind the links):

Blackhawks @ Sharks 24 Nov
Kopy had been playing with the little guy in the white hoodie while waiting for his turn during the warmup drills, making faces at him through the glass and whatnot. Finally, he was at the front of the line, and we all thought he was turning to start his drill (the moment in the photo), but then he suddenly turned back and checked the glass right in front of the kid. I thought the kid was going to die of glee, he was SO excited! It was super cute!

Blackhawks @ Ducks 26 Nov
Obviously not my pic, but a screenshot that one of my friends sent me - I got high-fives from the Blackhawks when they came on and off the ice for the third period!! That is my hand that Toews is hitting! (And, I would like to point out, the game was tied 1-1 through the second. I gave high fives to Sharp, Kane, Hossa, and a few others, and suddenly they get THREE goals in the third to win. Coincidence? ;-) )

Blackhawks @ Kings 27 Nov
This one takes some multiple pics. For this game, I was sitting by the penalty box, rather than the bench. I still saw my two favorite players up close & personal, unfortunately. It started off with Sharp coming to sit by me early in the game:

Then late in the third (seriously late, like less than 5 minutes left of a very close game), Toews decides to come sit by me. Single Trouble:

And anything that Tazer does, Kaner has to do too, so Double Trouble:

And THEN, just because all the cool kids had done it, I guess, Bolly decides to make it a party in the sin bin. Triple Trouble:

Yes, that was all the same back-to-back overlapping penalties! And they still managed to win! But man, was that scary!

Those three were my Thanksgiving marathon games. Then they went back to Chicago for a couple weeks, but missed me so much that they came back out for a quick visit in December.

Blackhawks @ Sharks 11 Dec
This game was a crazy good defensive goalie duel with the 'Hawks surprise rookie from last year:

against the 'Hawks surprise rookie from this year:
Both goalies were the top stars for the game, but unfortunately, Crow came up on the short end in OT, but my record at the Tank is getting better! The first time I was there, they got 0 points; this time, they got 1! Slowly but sure we are making progress. It amuses me to no end that the fans at the Shark Tank boo Brian Campbell every time he touches the puck there, but I gotta say, out of the three pro rinks here in Cali, that one wins for sheer fun. The fans love the game, they love their team, and they just have fun. Too bad it's the one that is the farthest away. (I did also have a lady sitting behind me in a Sharks jersey lean forward at one point and conspiratorially whisper “I just wanted you to know that I really like Keith. And Seabrook. And Sharp. And…well, maybe I should stop now.”)

Blackhawks @ Ducks 2 Jan
Again, they went back home for a couple weeks, but then came back out to ring in the New Year California-style. Only this time, they brought their moms with them.
Toews was out that game due to injury, and I didn't get to give the guys their high fives this time due to some rather...inconvenient people who refused to move two inches so I could lean over the rail, and the guys lost. Well, okay, the Ducks didn't beat them in that game; the Ducks' goalie, Jonas Hiller, did. Awesome goalie, btw. Only reason they won, because they sure didn't play that well. Too bad.

Blackhawks @ Kings 3 Jan
The next day was a bit exciting, at least for me. I was staying at a hotel near the Staples Center for the weekend, and went to get some coffee that morning from the Starbucks that's just across the way (if you've ever been to the LA LIVE area, you know where I'm talking about). I glance out the window, and Eddie Olczyk (one of the Blackhawks' TV announcers) is walking by. I wave like an idiot before remembering that he doesn't have a clue who I am and is wondering why this apparently crazy person is waving at him through a Starbucks window. So I get my coffee and head back over to the hotel, where I get blocked behind a trio of guys trying to go around a corner to the escalator (I was going to go up to the business center to print out something, I forget what now). Of course I said "Excuse me!" when I bumped into one of them and look up apologetically, and realize I am looking at Jack Skille. (I think I may have said "Hi" and smiled like a ditz but I don't really remember. I do remember him saying "Hi" back, so I suppose I must have. The cameras, btw, do NOT do him justice - he's CUTE!) I get ahead of the trio on the escalator and look back to do a "no really, that didn't just happen" reality check, and he is with Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews!! My two favorite players (and Skille does not trail very far behind them on that list either) were RIGHT BEHIND ME!! I know I DID smile and say "Hi! Good luck tonight!" at that point, and I think there was a murmured "Thanks" but honestly, I'm just proud of myself for making it off the escalator without tripping over anything. I was so in shock. They went their way and I went mine (sadly, not the same way), but I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch downstairs in the lobby, so I kind of lurked and ended up seeing several of the Hawks plus EdzO again, although I didn't talk to any of them. One of the waiters knew I was waiting for someone, and at one point asked "Oh hey, is that your friend?" The guy he was indicating was Corey Crawford. (Who is very very skinny w/o all those big goalie pads, btw.) Sigh, I wish!

And, again, physical contact with the guys brings about good luck for them. Toews returned to the lineup that night and ended up scoring the GWG. Sharpie also scored (twice, if I recall correctly) during that one, and the Hawks finished their season sweep of the Kings.

Stan Lee did the ceremonial puck drop:

Tazer played peekaboo with me:
(I was actually trying to get a shot of Hossa, who is forever blurry in my pictures. I didn't realize Toews was right behind him, but I will take it!)

And, the best jersey autograph EVER:
(and I was having a big "I miss Burish! Bring Bur Back!" weekend - we need a pest again - so that was doubly awesome!)

So I got to do all that stuff, PLUS go to Illinois & see the family for a few days at Christmas, where of course we all ate wayyyy too much very good food, drove each other crazy, and spoiled each other rotten. At least, I got spoiled, anyway:
That is a Stanley Cup Champions DVD autographed by Patrick Sharp AND a team picture from the 2009 Blackhawks/Red Wings Winter Classic game at Wrigley Field, autographed by the entire team! Best. Little. Brother. EVER! My mom refused to let me sleep with the picture, but prying it out of everyone else's hands to get it home to Cali was a bit of a challenge. (That picture is also now the subject of every threat my brother feels the need to coerce me with. Distance from family is still a good thing!)

So yeah, I've been a little busy lately! Hope to settle down a little bit and get some rest now!