Mea culpa for not having posted the Grande Finale to the latest installment of "The Look for Less" -- got too busy and too tired, and here it is already past midnight. Should have been in bed hours ago because I've got a full day tomorrow, despite impending crappy weather (rain/wind/cold). It will definitely be a FIREPLACE day tomorrow! No working outside, and more's the pity because the back yard is now in desperate need of help. Thank Goddess for Terry, who comes every Thursday and does my routine housework (vacuuming, dusting, wiping down this and that, she scrubs floors, windows, and strips wallpaper, too). She took it upon herself to go out and rake up my back yard. I didn't even notice that it was MUCH cleaner looking until this evening, when I was tossing out some peanuts to my demanding clan of squirrels and the sun was still shining about 6:45 p.m. And that was after I told her NOT to do such a thing Thursday morning as I was on my way out the door at 7:15 a.m. after we'd chatted. She is so wonderful and so sweet!
Anyway, LAST Saturday (April 21) I was all set to work on the family room redo and do some posting HERE (as opposed to the Chess, Goddess and Everything blog) but I had somehow suffered a temporary memory lapse and forgot that I had signed up to play in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XV and that is an ALL DAY event. I was up at my regular 6 a.m. time and then it was check the bus schedules, scrub up, dress, and head out to to the bus stop to make the connection where I needed to get before 8:56 a.m. to catch the bus to take me to the hotel where the tournament was being held. Except, as I was walking toward the first bus stop, the bus arrived early and pulled up to the stop and then away, and then turned south to where I needed to get to my next bus stop, a full five fricking minutes early. I was 1.5 blocks away and saw it all happen. Talk about not starting the day off on a good note...
So, I hoofed it another half mile or so to the bus stop where I needed to be (the one I'd intended to bus it to in the first place). Fortunately, I had enough time to walk it at a brisk pace, but I was steaming hot under my collar! That was NOT the way I wanted to start my day. But - in due course the bus arrived and during the 30 minutes ride that took me to within a few blocks of the hotel I had a chance to cool down. But not calm down. Tournaments make my hands and knees shake like a tree in an earthquake or a 50 mph wind.
I arrived at the hotel about 30 minutes before the action started, plenty of time to check in, say hello and connect with some chess friends.
Let me make it clear - I did not want to play in this tournament. I played in Challenge XIV in October, 2011 (the challenges are held 2x a year, in April and October), and I was exhausted THEN after having committed to only playing in 3 rounds out of 4! I got home, hmmmm, maybe at 4:30 p.m. that day, because I absolutely blew my final game of the day (R3), having lasted less than 10 moves, I think. It was disgusting and I was absolutely ashamed of myself because I'd been pitted against a much higher rated player but I did not want her or anyone else there to think that I had thrown the game simply because I was playing against a chess femme! As it was, I hadn't even put up a kindergarten level fight. Geez, Jan!
Anyway, I won't go into all the boring and gory details, but I ended up playing in Challenge XV despite my best intentions not to do so, and met up with Ellen Wanek, one of the most wonderful people and moms on the entire face of the Earth, I swear! Somehow, she likes me. How could such a sweet wonderful person like me, I ask you? You know what a beyatch I am! I met her last Challenge and we formed one of those connections, you know? And so one day I got crazy and emailed Ellen and we made a sort of "chess date" for Challenge XV. LOL!
Anyway, tired as I was, and reluctant as I was, I knew Ellen would be there, short of the plague or something equally dire. And so, I gave up the faint visions I'd entertained of actually stripping off more wallpaper in the familly room where shreds of it continue to dangle haplessly from the lower third of the walls, or perhaps actually start taping the paint lines in the kitchen where I want to "do" taupe paint....
I won't kid you - it was a damn long, hard, tiring, exhausting day. I got home right around 8 p.m. as the last shreds of daylight were sinking fast below the western horizon. It took me two whole days to recover from the trauma.
I do not know if I can adequately explain just how exhausting playing in a chess tournament is, but if you've every taken the ACT or the SAT, or sat for a competitive exam, this is sort of the same intensity and mental effort, except this tournament is 4 games in one day. Each player gets 1 hour on his or her clock plus an increment of 5 seconds per move; so the second you hit your side of the clock to start your time, 5 seconds is added. Some players actually accrue time that way, especially in the early stages of the game. Other players, like me, never worry about increments because we're not good enough to use up the entire 60 minutes of our alloted time (plus we have time to strategize while our opponent is looking things over before making his or her own move, and thus we can sort of "play" on his or her time, too), let alone worrying about accruing incremental seconds!
I did manage to put forth a much better effort this Challenge than last October's Challenge, playing longer into my time and lasting more moves and actually thinking about them and trying to come up with something, anything, to force a draw or SOMETHING, short of tipping over the board and accusing my opponent of something naughty under the table. Kind of hard to do when one's opponent is 10 and you're old enough to be his grandmother... I lost my first three games but I was not terribly disappointed because I felt I had given a good effort.
And then it happened. I finally won a game! I won my final game, actually, in R4, when both I and my opponent were so exhausted we couldn't even see straight anymore. And I gained ratings points, too. Over 25 ratings points for one win against a man who rather resembles Kris Kringle. Geez, Jan, you beat up on Santa Claus.
That's me (on the right), giving the death stare to Santa. Geez, I look so evil! Like I'm already rubbing my hands together in anticipation of my eventual victory when we had hardly even started the game. Actually, I was sleeping in this photo, and it's a giant GOT YA. I mastered sleeping with my eyes nearly open way back in night classes in college in the early 80's. On the other hand, my opponent, as you can see, is clearly sleeping in this photo... So, as I was eventually less sleepy, I won.
And so it goes - and now I'm going to bed. I was going to post about some cute little collectibles I found tonight at Ruby Lane, but that will wait.
December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan