No Returns

Mom and I have a tradition of me picking out all my Christmas gifts because we both hate returns.  She came down over the weekend to finish getting my presents picked out.  This actually starts in summer and usually wraps up before Thanksgiving.  This weekend, we wrapped up the list at the Holiday Mart.  And we brought K along to see the plethora of crap to buy at this event.  Scarfs, candy, coffee, silverware, jewelry, animal hats, bedazzled jeans.  They have it all.

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So at Christmas, I open my gifts and go “Oh yeah, I remember picking that out!”

The American Dream

Date night!  With… myself.  Made my date a home cooked dinner.  Bought my date a ticket.  Opened the car door for my date.  My date and I had a great time.  We’ll be going out like this again!
I usually have my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in this city.  Guess with everything I’ve had going on lately, I completely missed that America’s Got Talent was coming here.  I was watching something Wednesday night and the advertisement came across the screen.  I love this show.  Love love love it.  It took me a couple of seasons to figure out why, but what it boils down to is that I am watching everyday, ordinary people trying to make their dream come true.  They each have a story and a dream that moves them.  A dream that fuels them to put themselves on stage to be judged by the general population because they believe in what they love to do.
  
I jumped online, didn’t ask anyone to join me, and bought the best ticket left in Clowes Hall at Butler for tonight’s show.  It was a pretty penny, but I knew this was going to be something I would thoroughly enjoy, never forget, and be inspired by. Here was the line up: 
  • Christina And Ali 
  • Fighting Gravity 
  • Jeremy VanSchoonhoven 
  • Jackie Evancho 
  • Michael Grasso 
  • Anna and Patryk 
  • Studio One Young Beast Society
  • Taylor Mathews 
  • Prince Poppycock 
  • And the champ…. Michael Grimm 
And it was hosted by Jerry Springer. Sweet!  As I arrived to the show, it was posted that Jackie Evancho was not going to be performing.  Mild bummer, but my favorites were Taylor, Michael Grimm, and the Prince.  So I settled into my row 7 center seat chair and got prepared to be WOW’d.  And WOW it was.  I had tears welling up every time a new act went on stage.  Sounds cheesy, but I love that these people are putting themselves out there.  They are exposing themselves to be ooh’d aah’d or boo’d.  And of course, as the top 10, they were applauded over and over.

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Jeremy VanSchoonhoven injured himself 3 weeks ago and had to undergo an operation to put a titanium plate in his right hand.  He didn’t perform a huge act, but he did get an audience member on stage to jump over, around, almost on like he did to Nick Cannon on the show.  For the remaining acts, expect for Fighting Gravity because of staging, got to perform at least 2 times or more during the show. I was very excited that we weren’t subjected to the 90 second abbreviated versions we always got on television. A few shots from the show….

Prince Poppycock

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For his second act, he had a major wardrobe change.

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My favorite act, Taylor Matthews sang 4 songs. He started with one of my new favorites of Man Who Can’t Be Moved by The Script, an original song, a duet with Christina and Ali, then finished with my personal personal favorite, straight to my soul, Over The Rainbow.

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The champ even sang acoustic for a song just like he did in his first audition for the show.

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All the acts came out at the end for a final bow.

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They said no cameras allowed, but people were taking pictures all over the place, so I boot-legged using my Flip Mino to capture these shots and lots of video of my favorites.  Great memories and footage to help me keep dreaming what might be next for me in life!

I will say that I think I figured out 2 of Michael Grasso’s 3 illusions and have a good idea on the third.  I feel compelled to not reveal it here, but being live in a seat  helps you picture things you can’t see on TV… maybe that might be my next profession… dream…

Stars of Pink

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This was my second year performing the duties as the Model Chairman for the Pink Ribbon Connection Fashion Show sponsored by Nordstrom.  While the models are walking their first scene, the emcee reads a brief bio about their life and connection with breast cancer.  Last year I had to write stories, but PRC had an intern going to school to earn a Communications degree and she took that duty this year.  Perfect!  Probably was the hardest part of the job last year.  Trying to fluff up and spin chemotherapy and surgeries into something positive was not easy.

Another different part this year was I didn’t have to wear my glasses (Lasik preparation) and I had short hair.  But many of last years models, who were volunteering this time, still recognized me and it was great to catch up with them.  Sylvia McNair, a model last year, was our honorary Chair and provided the entertainment for the luncheon guests.  She did a phenominal job!

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Mama brought her friends Tina and Betty all the way from Ft. Wayne to experience the event.

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This year I went in comfy clothes until about 10 am, then changed into the fashion show worthy dress and stilettos.  And I found that I can wear 4 inch heels for approximately 6 hours, then it’s all over.  PRC also used the Stars of Pink event to release their new calendar featuring breast cancer survivors.  Its an easy gift for someone you love who is facing breast cancer and all the proceeds go to the Pink Ribbon Connection.

There is a tradition at this event involving pink balloons.  We tie one to each chair and all send them off to the ceiling to honor anyone involved with breast cancer.  It’s always a moving experience.

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Nordstroms has so many wonderful employees working for them that volunteer their time at this event.  Many thanks to them for being our premier sponsor and making our models feel so glamourous and special.  PRC also brings in personal dressers and professional hair and make up artists to put on the finishing touches.

One of the models cameras wasn’t working, so I gave her mine to use while I ran around. She wasn’t familiar with some of the settings, so not all the photos are crisp.

Our emcee Joy from Channel 8 and the twin stylists Gail and Gwen.

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Prepping for the show.

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We try to get models of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds. This year we had Moms and Grandmas walking with their kids or grandkids.

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The models getting their final instructions by one of the twins.

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A look behind the stage.

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And some of the actual runway.

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For now, I’m going to take a break from the volunteer train.  Already got something up my sleeve for another local group but I might want to get paid for that gig!

Happy Birthday Herbie

Made a visit to Ft. Wayne last weekend to ring in my Dad’s 65th birthday!  Before the festivities began, we had to get some girl time in.  Me and my BFF had lunch with my Mom and her BFF from high school.

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Of course, shopping and an art festival were on the agenda at Jefferson Point.  We didn’t buy any art, but got some deals on clothes and headed over to see my soon to be 91 year old grandma Mimi.  We worked on the world’s dumbest puzzle for a little bit before having to head home to pick up the guest of honor.

We took him to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary for a fundraiser.  Just how every guy wants to spend his birthday, outdoors in the cold at an animal farm!  Black Pine is a non-profit organization that focuses on exotic animal rescues.  One of the guides said they get 300-400 calls a year from people looking for a home for an animal!  They have to turn so many down because of funding and space.  A few examples they have are: 

Nala the female lion – She was purchased as a gift from a father to a daughter after the daughter loved the movie Lion King.  What is wrong with these people?!  So once the cat got big and figured out what claws were, the family took it to a vet that didn’t know what they were doing and the vet ended up paralyzing the front joints on each of Nala’s paws so she can’t walk right.  Asshole.

Gus the Alligator – Gus was originally found in a closet at a college Fraternity.  Geniuses.

The park had just delivered fresh meat to all the cats cages, so we can got to watch them dine on deer parts.  The local department of transportation drops off all the roadkill to the park.  Certainly helps cut down their costs!  One of the tigers grabbed a deer head and took off.

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Probably the coolest animal to see was the male lion Kovu.  Quite a stately animal even though this one was badly in need of a brush.  He was abandoned in Mexico after being used for photo ops, then lived in a horse stall until his medical needs were too much to handle.  Sickening.

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And we got to see the only Chimpanzee in the state. You can see him in this picture if you look beyond the treeline reflection in the glass.

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We made our way to the food line and I wasn’t expecting much and that was a good thing because there wasn’t much.  I made up a plate with some Herbie fixins’ and we sat and listened to band play for a bit.

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Happy Birthday Dad!  Enjoy Medicare!

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Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

My Disney loving friend put the word out that she wanted to see Mary Poppins.  As a new fan of theatre, I was definitely interested, but the busy gals that we are, couldn’t find a weekend that worked!  We settled for a Tuesday night performance with excellent ticket prices in the first row of the balcony.

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I remembered the major story lines in the movie, but not all the scenes that they used in the show.  But it didn’t matter because the stage sets were really great.  The house had 4 different sets with the main one being a 3-dimensional house, that opened up like a doll house to the audience so the actors could actually go up different floors to act like they were moving into different rooms.

The kid’s room had its own set that include some slight of hand tricks to allow Mary Poppins to pull numerous large objects from her bag and an adult actor came out of this tiny doll house after Mary through the stuffed animal version in.  Very cute!

And best of all, they made Mary Poppins fly!  She would glide up stairs, fly over the stage, etc.  They also made it so Bert (the chimney sweep) could walk up one side of the stage wall, tap across the ceiling, then walk back down the other side of the stage.  I was very glad they worked that into the production, because it wouldn’t have been the same without that character trait being realized on stage.

Had fun A!  Let’s find another!  And another…

International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

This entry is dedicated to Carole and Paula.

I played for about 4 years I think.  It all started with a cracker jack box with a ruler glued to it. For my 3rd birthday, I got the exciting gift of a real violin.  Just what every kid wants.  I could hardly contain myself.

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During my violin days, I had to routinely play in the downtown Ft. Wayne park with my music group. Again, I could hardly contain myself.

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When I was 5, my mother booked me on the local morning program to play one of my Suzuki songs.  She was very excited.

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We got prepared, meet the newscasters, then it was my turn to go on.  “Here is Natalee Fuller to play us a song today.  Natalee!”  “Natalee…”  I was frozen.  The cameras and the lights freaked me out and I couldn’t remember a note.  Cue the tears and cut to commercial.  My mother was mortified.  I rode home on the car floor bawling my eyes out.  I think the violin lasted about another year, then mom said I didn’t have to play anymore.  Deal!  When we went to turn it back into the music shop we rented it from, the guy offers it to us for free since my parents paid so much money over the years for it.  I still have it and all the wonderful memories to go with.

Fast forward to 2010.  Working downtown provides me insights to events that I probably wouldn’t even know about otherwise.  I’d been seeing advertising for the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.  Hmmm, did some research and young adults from all over the world come and compete to win the top prize.  K and I share the pain of growing up being forced to play the violin so I asked her if she was interested in going.  We are always looking for new things to do, so might as well!  

Since I still have my violin, I thought it would be great to relive some memories of our youth.  K and I headed to Monument Circle where she performed Concerto in D minor for the locals.  Lots of applause after the show.

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We both forgot our purses, so I offered to try to make some money to pay for dinner.  I scored a few bucks until the wind came and down Meridian our money went.  Luckily a nice man helped us collect our cash.

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After dinner we headed to the show at Hilbert Circle Theatre.  As we were walking to the show an older guy kept looking at me.  Kind of creeping me out but then he turns into the theatre just as we do.  After we get our tickets and get inside, he comes up to me.  “Are you one of the violin finalists?  I saw you walking around with a violin case.”  I thanked him for the compliment but said no.  Me and my friend were just enjoying some time before the show.  But he was welcome to tell his friends he had met one.

We were a little unsure if we’d hate or love the show.  Luckily the later happened and we stayed for the whole 2 hour and 30 minute performance!  We watched 3 of the finalists perform with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Andrey Baranov of Russia, Antal Szalai of Hungary, and Clara-Jumi Kang of Germany/South Korea.  Each one played for about 40 minutes with a short intermission in between each.  By the crowd response, Clara-Jumi was the favored violinist of the night.  Standing ovation immediately and she came back out twice before the clapping died down.  I did like her performance the best, but there are 3 more performances tonight with the champion being crowned shortly after the show.  Tonight, a 20 year old male from the U.S. competes.  It’d be cool to see him, but I had enough violin for the weekend.

So, since neither K or I became the next Yo-Yo Ma for our mothers, here’s one last shot of us with the precious gifts that they bestowed on us as little girls.  We love you!

For Carole

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For Paula

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Downtown Weekend

Now that I work downtown, it seems I tend to hang out down here more often too.  On Saturday, I headed over to my new favorite IMAX hangout for another 3D adventure.  To our surprise, they were also showing a feature on climbing Mt. Everest.  Just what I needed to keep my thoughts focused for this coming weekend. 

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Hubble 3D was pretty cool during the footage of the astronauts fixing the telescope.  At times, they floated right over your head.  But then it got fairly involved in the actual photos its been able to catch.  It was a bit over my head thinking about millions of bazillion stars and gases and galaxies that are millions of bazillion light years away.  Boring.  The wildest dream was full of magnificent landscape shots of Everest.  It was the story of finding Mr. Mallory’s body on Everest and attempting to recreate the climb using the equipment and navigation methods of the last time he tried to summit the mountatin about 75 years ago.  Which is still unverified if he ever made it.  The movie certainly tells you it’s perspective.

Sunday brought the first pre-season Colts game.  My group had some lunch and headed to the festivities. 

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Unfortunately, the Colts lost and Painter got boo’d.  I’m going to get real tired of this booing real fast.  He’s not first string and neither is the field is playing with, so the fans need to get that in their narrow minded heads ASAP.  Yes, he could be better and smarter, but his percentages are not always his own fault.  (Yes, that’s my Boilermaker pride coming through.) 

I made a new friend while at the game but he wasn’t very talkative.  If some other things fall into place, I think we can work through that small issue. 

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Plan B

Plan A fell through last night, so I had to come up with a quick idea to keep the K monster happy.  In June, the Indianapolis Museum of Art opened a 100 acre outdoor art museum of sorts.  The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park is one of the largest museum art parks in the country. I’ve been wanting to go for some time, so even with the heat, we decide to try it out.  Right now there are 8 topical structures in the park to see.  Hopefully with 100 acres, many more will come!  Here’s the rundown…

Park of Laments – The rock wall you see isn’t a solid rock structure.  It’s actually a bunch of rocks inside metal basket weave boxes.  The tunnel leads to a set of stairs that opens up into a huge landscaped area surrounded by 20 ft high walls of the same stone boxes.

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Funky Bones – These are about thigh high structures that you can sit, stand, run, jump on in the shape of a skeleton.

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Stratum Pier & Indianapolis Island – 2 people are living on this thing for the summer.  From what I’ve read, they have to produce their own electricity.  There is a row boat on the side that I think you are allowed to use to go visit them, but it was way too damn hot to work.  I didn’t get a good shot of the pier we were on, but it was crazy levels of large grated green sections.

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Team Building – This looked like something out of sci-fi but it was connected by 3 telephone poles somewhat hidden in the trees.  There are 3 stuffed spheres that you try to throw up and over the structures.  I only got the bottom rung.  Need to work on the guns.

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Free Basket – The most colorful of the art work, was this one.  It’s truly a basketball court but only the ends are usable.  There were kids playing on it as we walked up.

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The last 2 pieces of art was a rusty old ship with a lifeguard tower playing a conversation like a real command area and about 15 yellow bench structures placed throughout the park.

Glad to see Indy getting something really cool like this going.  You don’t have to enter the museum to get to this, so it’s a free adventure if you are looking for something to do!

Ice Cream Social

After perusing the IndyMoms magazine that started showing up in my mail, I spied a team building event for me and some co-workers.  Ice cream at the Circle!  The Indiana Dairy Council hosted the event.  You purchased a bowl of vanilla ice cream then got to make your own sundae for just $3!  The lines were a bit long but only because the ice cream was so frozen, they were having trouble getting it out.  No worries for my group as there were plenty of things to occupy us with…

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And another one!

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I couldn’t convince anyone to take a picture with this year’s Dairy Princess. Maybe next year when I’m princess they will.