Monday, December 31, 2007

About 133 posts

My first blog, Common Sensibilities, has 988 posts. I'm not sure how many of them came in 2007, but I've been posting there since 2002. Not bad, huh? That blog has changed over the years--if it was a little more literary in the beginning, now it's a little more personal and sometimes Ft. Wayne-oriented. And it's more fun than ever.
We're newbies here. I started this one in August, and you're reading the 133rd post. Thank you everybody who's stopped by! My site stats show a steady, if small audience, and the occasional comment always makes my day.
I wanted this blog to be a little more regular--my goal was to post every day, and I managed to do that til this holiday season (mostly). December's been my downfall! And I came up with the "I woke up thinkin'" theme as a way to keep my posts contemporary, yet personal. Lots of the time, it works pretty good! I wake up thinkin' about a wide variety of stuff. And, knowing I have to write about it, makes me think about stuff a little more interesting than, "Did I pay that water bill," or "Do I have to wash my hair this morning?" or worst of all for the reader, "What am I going to wear!?"
But the fun thing is, if I could come up with a clever enough riff on any of those things, I COULD write about them! And have!
I also promised myself I would not write a bunch of posts that started, "I woke up thinkin' about my dream last night...," because I figured, who the heck wants to hear about my dreams! But I even break than rule once in awhile if I have a nutty enough dream, like the one last night where I was staying in a Hyatt hotel in New York City and instead of an elevator to take you to your floor, you rode a train! A big one! It might have even been a steam train!
I told myself I'd post on this blog til the end of the year, and see how it was going, and if it was still fun, and anyone was reading.
Well, a few people are reading, and it is still fun, so on I go. Come along!
Happy New Year everybody!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

About post-Christmas shopping

Even when I had a lot less funds than I do now, I love to shop post-Christmas.
Not that I hate to shop pre-Christmas, but there is a certain pressure: to find the perfect, or at least a fitting, gift; to get it all done by December 25; to have it wrapped; and to oh please God don't let me lose that receipt so it can be returned for whatever reason.
Post-Christmas, it's all about saving money.
And, I love to save money!
So I set some aside to replenish my supply of the holiday necessities--wrapping paper, gift bags, lights to replace those which have died. Gift tags. Some ornaments I couldn't resist. Christmas stationary for those riveting Christmas letters people wait all year for me to send. Oh, and that understated Christmas top for half-price was not to be resisted. Only $2.50 at Target! Oh, and that Ghirardelli peppermint bark was not to be denied to me. Again: half-price (sense a theme?).
Now, the downside to post-Christmas shopping: worse crowds than I ever, ever, see pre-Christmas.
Today at Target, we could not get in the front door because of the line for returns. I had to push two or three old ladies out of the way.
Oh, only kidding!
It was actually just one middle-aged lady, and I knew I could take her if she resisted.
The dollar aisle was so packed I could hardly reach for that $1.00 Spanish for Dummies book, or the 10-Minute Workout for Dummies, or all that Dilbert stuff (and how happy must Scott Adams be that I could stock up on Dilbert magnets, list pads, and post-its?)?
And the marked-down, 50% off Christmas aisle? Packed with two things--people AND stuff! I could not believe how much Christmas stuff Target had left! It seemed at pre-Christmas levels!
And am I succumbing to marketers when I feel an uncontrollable urge to organize at this time year ... right when they put all the storage containers and stuff on sale? So much so I had to buy six containers, in three different sizes?
Call me impressionable.
So we walked out of Target with quite a potpourri of stuff in the cart--from the Dilbert to the organizational, to the groceries I forgot to get yesterday, to the wine gift bags that were too good to pass up. Hey, I need one for a dinner party tomorrow!
Yea, I probably spent too much money. But I celebrate a year coming to an end where I had a little shopping money, and will put everything to good use. Don't I get kudos for buying NO makeup, especially NO lip gloss (yea, I'm a little embarrassed by how much lip gloss I own).
I'll be home putting stuff in those containers. How about you? What are you organizing?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

About, could we have watched more Christmas movies than we did

Well, maybe, but I wouldn't want to try.
When Tony was little, we had a tape (actually, I think we still have it) with three or four half-hour Christmas shows on it. Rudolph, Year Without a Santa Claus, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, all the good ones. Come December, that tape was a permanent resident of the VCR.
Problem was, Tony didn't want that tape to move from the VCR, so come January, February, and even beyond, I'd come in the room to a Christmas show, Tony stretched out in front of the TV, Buffy the Wonder Dog beside him, perfectly happy to be celebrating Christmas in March.
Yea, he still hears about that.
We had cable back then, but nothing like the plethora of channels we have now. And no DVR. I don't know if little boy Tony could have survived all the Christmas show choices available to kids nowadays.
So what did we watch this Christmas?
White Christmas, of course. I think I saw it three times. Once while we wrapped presents (a tradition), once when it was on the CW (a horribly edited version with all the musical numbers either shortened or edited out), and once with my dad on Christmas Eve. My mom hates Bing Crosby, so this last viewing was extremely interesting with her commentary, which mostly consisted of her announcing every time he came on the screen, "Bing Crosby! I hate him! He can't sing either!"
Greg hates It's a Wonderful Life, and I love it, so this year I bought it and brought it to watch with my dad, who at least doesn't mind it. I am always a little surprised at that movie's length (no matter how many times I see it)-- by the time Clarence the angel comes, I'm thinking it's about over, and instead, there's lots of drama left. But I love Jimmy Stewart's performance, and Donna Reed is luminous, and ya gotta love little ZuZu.
And, last but not least: A Christmas Story. Over and over. The three different houses I was at on Christmas, all had Ralphie and family on for at least part of the time. So I got to see the poor kid with his tongue stuck on the flagpole, the awful visit to Santa, the fight, the turkey incident, the opening of the BB gun. Several times. My dad likes this movie because lots of it was shot in Cleveland, and of course the house whose exteriors were used in the film has been restored to match the movie house, and you can visit it. And it's set in Indiana, so we have that connection, too. And, it's just fun.
We didn't sit glued to the TV. We talked and ate and opened presents and laughed and sometimes we laughed at the movie that was on, and sometimes we ignored it entirely. And sometimes we even turned the movie off and had Christmas music as a calmer background to a busy, happy day.
How about you? What as the background to your Christmas?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

About what to do on Christmas

And this is what kept going though my head.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

About when Christmas comes early to our house, as observed by a two-year-old

[Found a copy of this letter in my sent file, I think Taylor, 2, usurped my Gmail again. Beth is a family friend.]

Dear Miss Beth,

Hello, how are you? It's me Taylor.

Beth, they are at it again here. I went over to my Mama D's last night and chaos was everywhere. Aunt Jayme was cooking dinner! Papa was late getting home! Daddy had to work late too! And even Mama said she "had to go to Walmart" and kept us waiting 'til she got there! Caroline was taking a nap and McKenna woke up and wanted to take all the toys! She is so hard to control!

Well, then they made us eat dinner, which was potatoes! What are we, Irish!? (Oh yea we are.) And they put a bunch of stuff on the potatoes and acted like it was something special. I mean, why put pizza stuff on potatoes? Or that yellow cheese? Or chili? They gave me no chocolate at all!

Then, Daddy and Papa and Tony made all us kids put on our coats AND OUR SHOES and leave! To look at "lights"! Beth, we had perfectly good lights in the house. Why did they drag us out in the cold to look at more?!

Well, we had no more looked at one pathetic house when they announced it was "time to go back"! What was up with THAT! So they turned around and back we went to Hearthstone Drive.

When we got there, something had happened. There was no room to walk. There was stuff all around that Christmas tree thing they are so shot with.

And then people started opening all the stuff! I'm not sure, but somehow Papa knew which thing to give which person, because everyone seemed to get stuff they liked, like the helicopter for Julian and the mirror for my mom. But how did Papa know? I'm figuring that out.

And why did we all get presents? All I could figure out it was some kind of big birthday celebration for everybody all at once, so I just joined in and shouted "It my birthday" and "Happy birthday," over and over, then for a treat for all of them, sang "Happy Birthday to You" several times. It must have worked, cos I really like the AquaDoodle and the Dora book and the play kitchen I got. And Papa got us a red wagon, too.

When I said "happy birthday" once, Daddy said it was Jesus' birthday. I looked around and saw no one named Jesus there, but if he shows up, I am NOT sharing that AquaDoodle with him. He can just get his own.

Well, as if this all wasn't bad enough, Mama announced that now we had to get rid of all the furniture! Beth, what in the world was she thinking? Does it mean if people give you presents, you have to chuck your furniture? What kind of birthday present is THAT?

So, Papa and Daddy and Tony took all the furniture away! I was afraid they were going to start taking the toys away too, so me and McKenna took some of ours and hid under the table.

Well, by the time we left, the room was empty. Mama said somebody was bringing her new furniture tomorrow. Maybe that Jesus is bringing it! Just in case, I made sure my AquaDoodle was in the car. This whole situation has got me cautious about my stuff.

Anyway, Beth, I'll keep you appraised of the goings-on here. Just don't be surprised by anything.

I hope you and your family have a nice Christmas-thingy, whatever that is, and if presents show up under your tree, hide 'em fast. Your furniture might be disappearing, too.

If you need a few choruses of "Happy Birthday," give me a call, I'm available.

Your friend, Taylor

Thursday, December 20, 2007

About pushin' the panic button

Hallmark has a couple little characters named Hoops and Yoyo, and I've sent way too many of their themed e-cards to family and friends over the last couple of years. I don't know what kind of creatures they are supposed to be--Hoops is, I think, the pink one, and has ears like a cat (or dog) and a tail; Yoyo is green and has longer ears, like a rabbit. Mostly, they are themselves. They have high, squeeky voices and they talk really fast and also sound as if they've inhaled helium. They sing well! Mostly, they are really, really cute and funny.

Now, maybe you've seen the commercials for Staple's Easy Button? Solves all your problems (office and otherwise) with just a press of the big red "Easy"? Well, because life is NOT easy, Hoops and Yoyo have a button too! And, it's more realistic!

Yes, it's the Hoops and Yoyo Panic Button! When your Easy Button is just not doing it for you, here's the answer. Just succumb to panic!

Greg got one of these for Christmas from one of the young woman with whom he works, and he's implementing it both at work and home. No more problem-solving in either place. We're just going right to mayhem:

"Stay calm. Stay calm. On second thought...PANIC!! (panic sounds)"

I'm dying to get one of these for my office, but on the web site, it says "pre-order now for 2/11/08"! These things are flying off the cybershelves (and probably the brick and mortar shelves, too, I guess).

Looks like I'll be trying to keep calm until February...but after that, watch out! WAAAAAHHHOOOWWWEEEE!

How about you? With Christmas less than a week away, is it calm ... or PANIC?!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

About Santa Baby

Keeping on a Christmas musical theme. I have another one stuck in my head. Unfortunately. It's Santa Baby--the Madonna version. And I have a problem with that. To me it doesn't sound all that much different from the version I grew up with--by Eartha Kitt. (And how old are you if you know who SHE is? You know, young folks--Catwoman in the OLD Batman series.) To me, she's a familiar old friend from the Mike Douglas/Merv Griffin talk show days.
Why remake a song if you're just going to sound just like the original? Why bother?
So to get the song OUT of my head, I've done a little research. The good news is, I learned more about Eartha Kitt, Madonna, and Marilyn Monroe than I anticipated. The bad news is, of course, the song is still in my head.
So, here's a little of what I've found. First, the lyrics:
Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree,
For me.
been an awful good girl,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, a 54 convertible too,
Light blue.
I'll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Think of all the fun I've missed,
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed,
Next year I could be just as good,
If you'll check off my Christmas list,

Santa baby, I wanna yacht,
And really that's not a lot,
Been an angel all year,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa honey, there's one thing I really do need,
The deed
To a platinum mine,
Santa honey, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex,
And checks.
Sign your 'X' on the line,
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's,
I really do believe in you,
Let's see if you believe in me,

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,
A ring.
I don't mean on the phone,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight,
Hurry down the chimney tonight,
Hurry, tonight.

I discovered the following:
The very popular version of "Santa Baby" (also found in the film, "Party Monster" (2003)) thought to be sung by Marilyn Monroe was instead recorded by Cynthia Basinet for Jack Nicholson as a Christmas gift.(Did you know she died with a phone in her hand?)

Okay, now you decide for yourself. Here's a couple YouTube offerings, one of Eartha. The second is of Madonna, and it's not the actual video of her version of Santa Baby. You can view that on YouTube, but not embed it.

Well, what do you think? Eartha, or Madonna?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas tree poll results

We had two votes for no tree; two for "tree is in the attic"; one was up and decorated, and one was "still on the lot."
Be sure to vote in the new poll: What's your favorite carol?

About caroling

People don't sing like they used to. They listen to music on their iPods instead.
We were at a concert the other night and my 10-year-old grandson's ears perked up during one selection. "I can play this song on my recorder!" he said.
It was Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.
When I was 10, I could sing all three verses with my eyes shut. Also, all the verses to We Three Kings (I love the one that starts, "Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume").
We sang carols everywhere: Sunday School, church, school. We had a Christmas cantata at church, a Christmas program at school, a Sunday School program. Our Girl Scout troop went caroling around our tiny little town. People gave us hot chocolate and cookies. (We still froze.)
We had Christmas records on at home and the Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concert was a favorite on TV on Christmas Eve.
Most of us have lost the casual singing from our lives, I think.
Oh, the carols are around, in the Muzak at the mall to the all-Christmas, all-the-time radio stations. Folks who go to church still hear the classics, and even sing them on Sundays.
But for most of the, the chance to belt out a good ole carol is limited to the last-song-sing-a-long at a concert or maybe some furtive lip-syncing in the car.
I had been thinking about this, as my son-in-law had taken the time to teach his Cub Scout den some carols, then took them caroling at a nursing home. I have him major props for this.
Then this morning, an article in USAToday:
"Caroling or silent nights? A holiday tradition vanishes" by Maria Puente. "It's an appealing notion: Spread cheer without leaving the warmth (and the giant-screen TV) of your own home. Must be why YouTube boasts more than 300 caroling videos.

"But has it come to this? Except for pockets of passion, traditional, in-person neighborhood caroling is practiced by a shrinking fraction of the population."

So it's not just me. Only 6% of the population plans to carol.

One time when my kids were little, we actually did just carol around a neighborhood. Our friends organized it, we had guitar accompaniment, and a dozen or so grownups and kids sang our way up and down their street.

We were freezing, is mainly what I remember.

But I'm glad we did it, and I'm glad my kids had the chance to carol in the old-fashioned way at least once.

But I doubt they know all the verses to Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, either.

Well, how about you? What carols are you singing?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

About WHAT! More snow!

The snow yesterday was kind of like when the Whos in Whoville beginning singing after they've discovered that the Grinch has taken their presents. It started in slow then in started to grow.
We saw it on the radar long before it fell to the ground. Finally about noon or so we saw actual flakes.
At times we had what they call on TV a "wintry mix" which means a miserable bunch of snow, rain and sleet all together for awhile. I would called it a "miserable mix."
But mostly we got snow, and it got harder all day. Still snowing like crazy at 8 a.m. Blowing a bit too.
The snow blower got put to use, and the front porch got shoveled, and inside it's cozy and smells like coffee and cinnamon rolls.
Now it's time to figure out something for lunch, and pretty soon it'll be time for football.
If the weather was nice, we'd be fighting some traffic and mall crowds and shopping and all that.
Instead, outside it looks a lot like Christmas, and I'm going to stay home and enjoy it.
The stores will be there tomorrow.
How about you? In or out?

Friday, December 14, 2007

About Christmas parties

Because on Wednesday, I had two in one day, and I'm not over them yet. Next time you see I've helped planned two parties for one day, just slap me. Because I deserve it.

Even though we had a good reason for having them both on the same day: an outside editor was in the office on Wednesday, so it was nice to include him. (He usually "attends" meetings, etc., by concall.) And we had the ladies' party Wednesday evening because so many people were busy other nights.


The first party was a breakfast carry-in. I was responsible for party favors, and found angel mugs filled with tea or candy for everyone. Yea me! I had signed up to bring donuts, so that necessitated a stop before work to pick up a dozen. My dozen donuts joined a feast of egg cassaroles, breakfast cheesecake (OMG. Topped with crunchy cinnamon), fruit, bagels, coffee cake, and more. I'm not a big breakfast eater, but when faced with breakfast cheesecake, I give in. We had so much food, we had breakfast the NEXT morning, too.

After work, it was the ladies' party, off-site. This necessitated a mad dash home, packing up the car with the foodstuffs procured the previous day, remembering all the other stuff I said I'd bring, jumping in the car and tearing to the restaurant to pick up our main courses, and fighting traffic to the party room.


I was a little late, but again walked into a feast: appetizers of cheese and crackers, shrimp, bruschetta bread, summer sausage, pretzels and more. Champagne and wine. Salad, pasta, and bread. Mini-cream puffs for dessert.


We had an ornament exchange after, and did one of those games where a person opens an ornament, then the next person can either pick a new one, or "steal" another one from someone that's already been opened. Hostilities almost broke out when certain particularly beautiful ornaments changed hands several times, but cool heads prevailed and an armistice reached. But I really did want that reindeer ornament in the cool box. Dang!

I survived both parties, though exhaustion has become my friend, and I've got a party or two to go. So I'll be taking my vitamins and trying to go to bed early.

How about you? Are you partied-out?

Monday, December 10, 2007

About ice

Fire and Ice

(From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920.)
by Robert Frost

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Of winter weather, little is more dangerous than ice.

It hides--black ice, hard to see and easy to fall on or skid your car over.

It shines--so you know to try to slow down, but if you do it too quickly, you ssssllliiidddeeeeeee, probably somewhere you don't want to go, like into another car or a tree or a ditch.

It's heavy--it pulls on power lines and snaps them, it collects on tree branches and bends them 'til they break.

But even still, it's beautiful. This afternoon, the ice still clung to the trees around work, and the fog hung around and it was like being in a words of tree ghosts.

We have a winter storm watch for late tonight and tomorrow. But who knows what it will bring? The front hangs to our south, and we get more ice. A few miles north, and we get a cold terrible rain that chills you to your bones.

Makes me hold to those who favor fire.

How about you? Fire, or ice?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

About how great our tree turned out

Well, it took a tractor ride around the whole Christmas tree farm, ten people weighing in with opinions about the kind of tree (Scotch pine? Frazier fir?), the height (as big as possible! not as big as the whole room!), the fullness (you can see through it! but the ornaments will hang nicely!) to who would cut it down (Tony's got the Carhartt's on! Julian's the Boy Scout!).
We did it, and got it home, and in its stand, and in the livingroom with unbelievable ease.
A couple hours and several dozen trips up and down the ladder later, we had a Christmas tree!
(Douglas fir, perfect shape, seven feet tall, just full enough, cut down by Matt, Julian and Tony).

Saturday, December 8, 2007

About wranglin' a Christmas tree today

Well, y'all, we're off'n to thet ther Christmas tree cuttin' farm, wer ther men-folk and the young'ins will be a-cuttin' down a tree. We'll be a-trekkin' threw ther wilderness at St. Joe's Christmas tree farm, lookin' fer ther perfec pine ta haul inter our house 'n stay fer a month. We're a-hopin' we kin find one wit-out any critters in it, such as the prayin' mantis thingies thet came wit our tree thet one year.
Ther wirther-lady sez thet we mite get us sum freezin' rain but I'm a-thinkin' thet will jest add to the excitement of seein' the men-folk layin' on the wet ground with thet little hack-saw tryin' to get thet frazier fir ta go "timber!"
The littlest ones mite git a little damp 'round the edges but they are hardy critters.
They kin hep us drag thet tree bak up to the payin' place and git some hot coco ta warm up.
We'll be bringin' it home and trimmin' it up, barrin' any unforseen not-human critters bustin' out.
If you kep watchin' this space you jest mit see a pictur.

Friday, December 7, 2007

About finding your own Christmas

Do you ever tire of reading letters like this one:

"It saddens me to see the glory of Christ removed from Christmas. For years we saw Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year emblazoned across storefronts until it became XMAS. Now Christmas trees have become holiday trees, great trees or family trees and traditional Christmas carols are discouraged in some schools." (from the Dec. 4,2007, Huntington, Texas Item)

The perennially recycled "Keep Christ in Christmas" theme--familiar, huh? The writer shares a common worry with many letter-writers at this time of year: the dreaded secularization of Christmas.

We were watching A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight (for the third time this season). This melancholy little gem was first presented in 1965: 42 years ago. And what's it about? Charlie Brown trying to find the true meaning of Christmas among the commercialism of the pink metal trees and Snoopy's garishly decorated doghouse, and the lists of presents his friends want. And find it he does, in the words of a little boy reciting the Nativity story from the Bible, and in the magical trimming of the most pathetic Christmas tree ever.

Charlie Brown, too, was worried about what he saw around him, but acted, and learned.

I was thinking about how the writer of the letter kept looking for Christmas around her, and could only see the lack of it; how Charlie Brown lamented the crass commercialism of the season, and found what he needed in his friends, and his little tree.

And it made me think of this.

Mother Teresa once wrote, in response to a person who wanted to join her in India:

"Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are -- in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. ... You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society -- completely forgotten, completely left alone."

And I realized that, if I could talk to that lady who wrote the letter, I'd recommend she watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" one more time, and then I would borrow some of Mother Teresa's words, and tell the lady, worry not about that which is around you: those things you cannot change. But rather, change what you can:

Lady, find your own Christmas. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right where you are--in your own home and in your family, in your workplace or in your school.... You can find Christmas all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Even at the mall, even in the schools, even at that place with the "Happy Holidays" sign. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society--completely forgotten, completely left alone. Forget the holiday tree and the season's greetings. Remember to live Christmas, because that's what we should have learned from Christ. How to live it.

How about you? Have you found your own Christmas?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

About when angels sing

They just don't care, you know--the little kids don't care about all the social rules that govern us who have grown tall.

They stand on the steps at the front of the sanctuary for their first Christmas program, and they crane their necks looking for their parents and everybody there just to see them. Then they spot their group, their little faces light up, they jump for joy, and they wave madly. And if you look at the audience, you'll see a group responding similarly--suddenly, the grownups don't care who's watching them, either.

And if it's a major accomplishment on the teachers' part to get a group of forty little kids to stay in place for half an hour (and not run with their usual abandon around the place), it's really too much to ask that they stand still. Because they will not. They will jump, they will wiggle their butts, they will bend side to side, they will stretch. Because they must.

And the singing--they don't care if they are singing in tune, or singing softly, or singing in concert with their group, or not singing at all. They give as much of their attention as is preschool-ly possible to the teacher leading them, and all (well, most) of their mouths are moving. Some are to be whispering, some are shouting the words (and sometimes, the wrong words), some seem to be taking a break.

You see rapt attention, and wide smiles, or just curious looks, and sometimes, sheer terror.

You see little people poking their neighbors.

You see big people smiling at each other at the sight.

And when they sing (um, shout) "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus," for a little moment, it's easy to remember what Christmas might be all about.

When they're done, they run down the steps to their moms and dads and grammas and grampas and everyone there who loves them, and get a hug, and an "I'm so proud of you," then they are ready to go get some birthday cake and juice, and no, they do NOT want their picture taken by the Christmas tree.

Which gets taken anyway, thank you.

How about you? Have you heard the angels singing, yet?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

About my commute was going to suck

Sorry, but I hate winter-weather driving, and since it started snowing last night, and a good ole Alberta Clipper was clipping us, I went to bed thinkin' my drive to work would not be good, and I woke up knowin' it wouldn't.
There's a skylight right above my bed, and when it's covered in snow, and I can't see any sky, I know what to expect outside.
I've had some pretty nail-biting drives over the years. Since I drive from Ft. Wayne to Huntington, about 20 miles mostly over a state route, my safety depends on whether the big snow plows have cleared the way, or not.
Today, it was NOT.
Plus, and this was my bad, I had to run an errand that took me INTO Ft. Wayne first. I should have run that errand the day before. Instead, I ponied up in the parade of folks driving into the city. And it was a very slow-moving parade. I tried to smile and wave out my window; unfortunately, I forgot my crown, plus, no one was paying any attention to me, what with their hands clenched to the steering wheel and eyes glued to the snowy road and all.
And it was very snowy. From my house to my errand, no evidence of any snow-clearing.
From the errand on the route back out of town, no clearing, and two traffic slow-downs because of wrecks.
And even when I hit the highway that takes me out of the city and on into Huntington, still snowy! I was hoping the state trucks had gotten out and I'd just have wet pavement to deal with.
It wasn't until I was west of Roanoke that I could see any trucks had been out and I felt comfortable letting my speed creep above 45.
Even then, there was a car backwards in the median.
But I made it to work safely, if lately, and eventually my pulse will slow down.
The snow's stoppng, and my drive home should, repeat should, be better.
But I'm kind of wishing I were fighting sand dunes in Ft. Myers, not snow drifts in Ft. Wayne!
Oh well! What about you? What kind of dunes are you plowing through?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

About the zen of tea

[And since I'm totally American, this is a totally pragmatic interpretation. (And I use tea bags, you tea snobs. I suppose brewing loose-leaf will be my next step, but not there yet.)]

I didn't grow up drinking tea. My parents were coffee drinkers. Instant, at that.

I met my future mother-in-law when I was about 16, and it was then I became a convert, for she enjoyed a cup of good ole Lipton of an afternoon.

Over the years, I discovered the many flavors and kinds of teas, and if that was limited to a little Constant Comment in the '80s, my choices exploded in the '90s, and have positively gone nuclear in the 21st century.

And this would be thanks to the research that shows: tea is practically a wonder food. An antitoxident feast! Suddenly, everyone wants to drink tea!

I was just reading, I think in O Magazine, yet another article about how good tea is for you and just what kind and how much to drink. Although often the advice is that green tea is best, this particular article stated that any tea is good, and that 4 cups or so is a good amount for health.

I'm good with that. I usually drink four cups (sometimes less, seldom more) in the morning and sometimes a cup or two in the evening, especially in cold weather. So my tea health is right up there.

I have gravitated to green teas, way before everyone else did, just because I liked the taste. with a Bigelow Green Tea with Peach being a current fav. And if you've never tried a white tea, Stash has some good ones, White Christmas (with peppermint) currently first on my list. There's also a fusion honey white/green that I can feel detoxifying my body with ever sip. Not really. I just love the lightness of the taste. At least, it's warming me up.

One time at Trader Joe's I got all healthy standing there looking at the teas so I bought some organic super-charged extra-healthy green tea.

Whoa. I might was well as gone out and grabbed some grass from the yard and brewed it. Couldn't drink it.

It's that time of year when of an evening, I brew up some warmness--oh, Celestial Seasonings has some wonderful seasonal teas, an herbal called Sugar Cookie that is Christmas in a cup--and count the calendar days 'til spring. But the tea mug feels good in my hands, and the winter not quite so harsh as I hold it.

How about you? What's warmin' you up?

Monday, December 3, 2007

About just a bunch of stuff

I took the weekend off writing for the first time in a month, since I participated in the National Blogging Month program. It was fun but I really learned to appreciate columnists who have to churn out good words everyday no matter what. I felt like while some of my words were not so bad others, well, really sucked. But I also learned not to care so much because my goal was to write everyday, no matter what, and sucky words were part of the "no matter what."

But the break's over and I'm back to my own goal of writing, if not every single day, most of 'em.

So with that in mind, I started thinkin' about what was on my mind I should write about today. How soon our disciple leaves us, even after just a weekend off! Because my brain just couldn't focus on anything!

Should I write about Christmas? But I didn't get much decorating or shopping done, so all I could write about was me waking up worrying (me and half the population) that I wouldn't get everything done on time. I've got three weeks, so I'll hold off on that post, I might need it in two weeks.

Should I write about my busy weekend? Well, who didn't have a busy weekend? (I'm sure someone didn't but I just can't relate.) Who really wants to read about babysitting, grocery shopping, a trip to Target, some bad weather, the Colts winning, or Ohio State making it to the national championship game (thank you, Missouri and W. Virginia!)? Whoops, you just did, sorry!

Should I write about that bad weather? Now there was a real possibility. Because it got bad fast -- snow to freezing rain that made all the roads skating rinks -- and I had to drive in it with a van full of kids. But the stupid irony -- as bad it was Saturday night -- by the next morning, the temperature had risen, all the ice was gone, and when I went out to get the Sunday paper, it felt like spring. I want to say, that's just not right, but it's just the Midwest.

Well, I've done it. Written about everything and nothing.

How about you? What's you spend you're weekend doin'?

Shopping poll results

The results of our shopping poll are in! It's unanimous: Everyone has STARTED shopping, but no one is finished ... much less wrapped. Take the new poll: what's your tree status?

Friday, November 30, 2007

About, well, my hair

Okay, before the girlie stuff I'll tell you what I'm thinkin' about a few sports headlines. Sean Taylor: probably knew who shot him. Packers/Cowboys on NFL Network: sorry you don't get it, we do, it was a beautiful HD picture. Cowboys wore legacy jerseys. Indians signing Japanese pitcher: just don't break the bank. Helio: I thought he was a suave and sophisticated Indy car driver, but now I know he's just a goofy hoofer.
Now, down to business: I am asking girls everywhere for advice, because why can't I keep my hair the color I want it?
I mean, we visited friends last night, and a MALE FRIEND says to me, your hair is lighter! And I wanted to crawl under the sofa, because I'm been meaning to recolor for two weeks and haven't taken the time, and since it's fall I don't even have the "I've been out in the sun" excuse. And my hair's worse problem is not the roots ... it's the way the color keeps getting lighter!
So my hair in my youth was a pretty much dark brown with red highlights in the sun. Then middle age set in and gray encroached, and the drabness convinced me that Miss Clairol was the way to go. And I've been best friends with her for five years or so.
But no matter what brand of color I use (and I've tried many besides ole Miss), no matter what expensive hair-color-preserving shampoo and conditioner I buy, no matter I spray special color-preserving UV spray on, no matter what, even when I pick out exactly the right medium-brown color I want and it looks great to start, it ends up after a few weeks looking like a light reddish brown. Really light.
And GUYS -- not girls -- start asking me if my hair is lighter! The friend the other night was not the first!
I think my hair is really porous and soaks up the color but then it also vomits it out, is what I think.
I have been doing it myself, so one of my questions is: do salons really use a better quality color, and it is really worth over $50 versus under $10?
And, is there a shampoo/conditioner/special treatment that really works for you?
Or have you given up and just (oh, God!) gone natural?
Let me know what you're thinkin' about how Miss Clairol treats you.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

About a letter to my friend on vacation in Florida

Dear T.,

How are you? I am fine. Well, not that great. It's really cold here. And the wind is really rather brutal. Actually, when I had to stand out in it pumping gas this morning, it was ripping through me, and my bones were shaking. Also my fingers quit working.

Other than that, it's great! Well, except for Monday, when it rained the entire day and I felt damp and frozen. Oh, and Tuesday, when it was windy that day too. Oh, then yesterday, they said the sun would be out, but it wasn't, and it was kind of dark and dank all day.

But other than that, it's great! Oh, except for we had to go to Sue K.'s mother-in-law's viewing last night at the funeral home. She says they're pretty much "over the shock" of her sudden death now--after all, she was 84 or whatever.

But once we got past that, it was a good evening. Well, except then we went to visit the B.'s, and you know M.'s health has been going downhill, and their mom is not getting over that heart attack like she should.

But besides those things, it's been a great week! You've really missed it! That two-hour meeting I had with G. yesterday was fantastic! If only my teeth had not been chattering when we were done, plus I was starving, and I had to go to the bathroom, it might have been the best meeting ever!

When I think of you spending all the money and getting so exhausted running after four kids in the Florida sunshine, my heart cries for you and your wife! The humanity!

Are you needing any help? Because I can be on an Allegiant flight immediately. It's the Christian thing to do, I think.

Anyway, T., get some rest when you get home and break out your wool socks. You'll need them.

Yours in global warming,


Hey, how 'bout you? Written any snarky letters lately?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

About the most wonderful time of the year

Oh yes, the Christmas season, almost everyone's most favorite time of the year. Carolers singing, bells ringing, snow falling, lights glowing. Cookies baked, candies made, drinks consumed.
But the best of all:
That pile of stuff I ordered that I spy out the window by the door. Woo-hoo!
And real mail in the mailbox!
Who doesn't like getting mail--good mail, I mean. Not stupid grown-up mail, like bills and junk. But mail like invitations, letters, and stuff like that? And Christmas brings some of that! You might get an invitation to a Christmas party! And even if Christmas letters are lame, hey, it's a real letter! And sometimes Christmas cards have really nice personal notes and news and pictures.
And that pile of stuff...well, real confessions: Most of it was for me. Hey, I had to use that Sephora coupon for my FREE birthday-gift shea body butter, didn't I? And I had a Kohl's gift certificate for my birthday that HAD to be used online and HAD to be use RIGHT NOW, period!
The result being, a small pile of packages out the window that said, open me!
Now we're waiting for another package, a little more utilitarian but fun nonetheless: new phones. I think they'll be here tomorrow. Maybe I'll call you with my skin softened by body butter and my new earrings on!
Oh I'll get in the spirit--I'll be ordering stuff online for loved ones any day now, and it will be piles of stuff for other people.
Well, gotta go write out some real Christmas cards. How about you? Are you expecting any packages?

About what date is it, anyway?

Perhaps you remember my previous post about that lost half-hour of my life spent on hold with Kohls.

The worst thing about that experience was the loss of time -- once I got the CSR, she took about one minute to look up my order and answer my questions.

That experience has been topped by my La-Z-Boy experience.

Good news: I ordered new livingroom furniture, which we needed, badly. Our old furniture, although purchased in this century, was not keeping up with the demands of HDTV-watchers. So when the new La-Z-Boy Showcase Shoppe opened just down the highway, I was there to check it out.

I'd been window shopping for a couple of years, so I pretty much knew what I wanted, and by golly, La-Z-Boy had it. So I ordered up.

And here's what my saleslady told me on the day I ordered, October 29: "It normally takes eight weeks to be delivered. But they're telling me it should be here by Christmas."

It my excitement at the time, that was enough: I'd have it by Christmas.

However, on further review, I realized that vague "have it by Christmas" was not working for me.

Eight weeks from the day I ordered is December 24: Christmas Eve; technically, before Christmas. But moving new furniture into a room on Christmas Eve: not appealing to me. So just exactly did "before Christmas" mean?

Last week, I called the La-Z-Boy showroom to nail this down. God bless me.

I talked to "Tiffaney," and all that implies. Tiffaney, while answering the phone in a perfectly capable way, seemed rendered incapable of assuming confidence in her answers, or even in any ability to find an answer. Several minutes and murmuring in the background late, the best she could do was, "We'll call you back later."

I am still waiting to hear from Tiffaney.

However, being a seasoned consumer, since I knew as soon as I hung up that Tiffaney would be a no-show, I called the next day, and talked to a gentleman whose name escapes me (mumbled), but I'll call "Fred."

Fred had one quality that Tiffaney lacked--to at least bluff confidence in his ability to help a customer. However, as events ensued, this ability was exposed to be a thin veneer, and his inner Tiffaney was evident.

"Hi, this is Cathy D. and I have a question about some furniture I have on order."

"I can help you."

Yada-yada-yada from me about when I ordered it, what I was told, which you just read, and my main concern:

"So, what I need to know is, exactly what does 'before Christmas' mean? Does that mean next week, or does that mean December 24 at 11:59 p.m.?"

"Who was your salesperson?"

"I'm sorry, I don't remember her name." (I was with her for 20 minutes.)

"Hang on, I'll look it up."

Time passes as I age less than gracefully.

"Okay, that was Sandy. I'll have her call you ... Monday."

"Ah ... okay. Thanks." GGGGggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Why, oh why, in this computer age, doesn't he have some kind of chart or spreadsheet or database to look at? Why are we relying on people who aren't in?

Then, in a stunning development, "Fred" called me back later. Unfortunately, what he told me was such a Dilbert moment I had to just laugh (quietly, in my hand).

"Is this Cathy D.?"


"This is 'Fred' at La-Z-Boy. I've looked up that your furniture will be shipped from the warehouse in (garbled) on December 17, and it will take seven to ten days to arrive at your house."

I do some quick, first-grade math in my head.

"Okay, so it ships on the 17th. So the earliest it will be here is ... the 24th? Christmas Eve?" (Eight weeks!?)

"Shipments normally take from seven to ten days."

"Okay, so she told me the furniture would be here before Christmas and she, indeed, meant the earliest it would be here is Christmas Eve? Or as late as the 27th?"

"Well, I'll have her call you Monday."

Resigned: "Okay."

Now, this was a bit of a customer-service nightmare of a phone call, don't you think? I mean, I did learn one new piece of information: it's shipping from some warehouse on Dec. 17. But add the seven to ten days and you get ... no more information than I had in the beginning.

I know, if the warehouse is in Timbuktu, that furniture might be my 2008 happy new year present. It's if coming from Chicago or Detroit (and, oddly, we did pass a La-Z-Boy warehouse on our trip to Livonia a couple of weeks ago), if it leaves the 17th, it seems to me it might be here even sooner than the 24th, given I live three hours from both places.

Why can't somebody say, it's shipping on the 17th, and it USUALLY takes X number of days to arrive in Ft. Wayne? But they just can't seem to go there. They are just stuck on the seven-to-ten days note, which now whines incessantly in my head.

I'm still in the dark as to any definitive date that furniture will arrive. Sandy never HAS called me. And as excited as I am about getting new furniture, the thought of turning the house upside-down on Christmas Eve is not very appealing.

In still a second stunning development, 'Fred' called, again. Sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend he called my home phone (despite I had asked him to call my cell) and left a message:

"Your furniture will be leaving the warehouse on December 17."

Glad we got that cleared up, Fred.

Well, how about you? What are you waiting for?

Monday, November 26, 2007

About being worse than a baby

Traveling with babies is tricky, whether you're going by plane or car. Their sleeping schedules get all screwed up, their eating gets all discombobulated, and once you get back home, it takes a couple days to get back to normal.

I'm just like a baby.

So, four days spent visiting family, away from home responsibilities and habits. That's good.

Sleeping in four days straight--that has proved to be a very bad mistake. Being lazy, reading the paper and watching morning news and sipping tea for an hour or so after getting up--very bad idea. Eating too much Thanksgiving dinner, dining out at interesting places, wine-tasting--good idea, but very bad to one's fitness regime.

A baby gets back to normal easier than me!

When we left Indiana on Wednesday evening, it was just absolutely pouring rain. The holiday turned out good, through, if chilly, at least dry. (Good shopping weather! Good winery visiting weather!)

This morning, back to a cold, biting, windy rain. And I had to haul my behind out of bed, get ready, contemplate the day, and actually go out into it.


Well, I made it, and now I'm wondering how I'm going to get my healthy diet intentions back on track (but that fresh lake perch sandwich with sweet potato fries was so good, even if it did break my "no fried foods" rule!) while at the same time getting some exercise in (Hey, we walked all around the mall! And today I had to get up so early I'm exhausted!) and actually contemplate cooking half-way healthy food after all the eating out (goodness, I love Mexican food).

This just seems like too much for a Monday.

Here's the plan: I'll play some mind games, convince myself it's, like, a Thursday, pretend I slept in, sleep-walk (hey! it's walking!) through the day, and fix something not fried for dinner--not frying being healthy enough for today. I think.

After all, Scarlett, tomorrow is another day.

Well, how about you? Are you a big baby about your schedule?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

About bein' wine-y

I woke up this morning without a hangover, so I must not have drunk all that much wine yesterday during our little "Sideways" adventure.
We took off around lunch for Berlin Heights, Ohio, a teeny little town with lots of history. More importantly, there's a little bar named Oliver's that has the best bar food in northern Ohio, including a perch sandwich I would drive a lot longer for than from Norwalk to Berlin Heights.
But before we hit Oliver's, we checked out Samuel Patterson baskets, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and having a little open house to celebrate. It's part of the Berlin Basket Company, which mostly makes fruit and vegetable baskets. The Samuel Patterson baskets are more artesian baskets, beautifully made, lovely to look at, and their anniversary baskets are especially nice. Plus, they had some snacks, and the Miss Basket Queen of Berlin Heights was there (we had previously seen her in the Milan Melon Festival Parade in all her royal basketry).
Two cookies and some admiration later, we were off to Oliver's, and a wonderful by-product of Ohio's no-smoking ban was, it is now smoke-free! I could enjoy my fresh lake perch sandwich with sweet potato fries in fresh air.
It was now safe to proceed to the main event of the day: wine-tasting. Quarry Hill Winery was our first stop, and they did not disappoint.
Regional wine being our favorites, my dad frequents Quarry Hill for their blueberry wine. I love their honey crisp (an apple wine) and Jayme is a fan of their Buckeye Red, a soft red wine. Just a dollar and we tasted a couple new one, their riesling being the best. They are also a working orchard, so their rustic gift shop/wine bar is in a big ole barn that smells great and is full of fresh apples, produce, and gift items. Unfortunately, we had forgotten Quarry Hill is cash or checks only, so we were limited in our purchases.
Not to be stopped, we continued to Firelands winery near Sandusky, a slightly more sophisticated establishment that's been around since the 19th century.
The older gentleman helping us must have been an owner, for his knowledge was extensive and he was happy to answer our questions.
We weren't the only ones tasting--by the time we finished up,the long wooden bar was full of testers and there was a line to check out. People weren't just buying one bottle, either!
I don't know which one I liked better--the locally made riesling, or the cabernet sauvignon, or the imported chianti.
When we mentioned the fruit wines we'd tasted at Quarry Hill, even though we'd tasted all six samples Firelands was offering that day, our bartender hauled out the red raspberry and the blueberry by Firelands. Both excellent!
I came away with a box of good stuff, four of which are Christmas gifts, and a new appreciation for the careful vintners of northern Ohio.
Well, how 'bout you? Done any taste-testing lately?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving favorites poll

Turkey edged out football by one vote as our Thanksgiving favorite! Pumpkin pie and cranberry sauces were tied with one vote each.

About reminising

So after shopping yesterday we ordered some pizza and started talking about people we grew up with.
What's funny is, what different memories each of us has, both of my sisters and my parents. They know stuff about people -- or know people -- don't know or remember, and we know stuff and people they don't.
Plus it was time for a little true confessions, as my youngest sister revealed she'd had a big party at the house my family had just moved out of, in about 1980. That was news to Mom and Dad. They might have been sorry they missed it--sounded like a fun bash.
When we were growing up we rode the bus for about an hour every morning. Our bus route was a big country route, and we picked the same group of kids up for the 12 years we rode. You get to know people really well in 12 years.
The farm boys who bragged about their tractors and their crops and played euchre every morning between the seats. The family who still had an outhouse. The people with the pink house. The little girls who herded their little brother on the buss every morning like so many mother hens. The big family whose house burnt down. The sisters who had bad haircuts and homemade clothes. The family with all boys--actually, we picked up two families with five boys each. The lucky kids who lived on Crescent Road and had only a 5 or 10 minute ride.
The good news to us was, if we were the first ones on the bus in the morning, we were also the first off in the afternoon, so by four we were in the house eating anything my mother set in front of us, and ready to get outside and play.
I read a lot of books on the bus during those years, and sometimes played euchre with the boys, or argued with them or told jokes or just were silly as only kids can be.
The really good part for me: being first on the bus, I always got the sit in the seat by the heater!
Well, how about you? Any long bus rides in your past?

Friday, November 23, 2007

About preparing for battle

How to enjoy shopping on Black Friday:
Don't participate in any 4:30 a.m. sales.
Don't expect too much.
If you've looked through the ads and seen something you're interested in, don't expect the store to still have it when you get there. Ask about rainchecks if you can find somebody.
If you can't find a parking space at a store, leave and come back another day.
If you go into a store and there is no end to the check out lines, leave.
Dress comfortably. High heels have no place on Black Friday shopping.
Dress in layers. Some stores are hot.
Take breaks. There are Starbucks on every corner and in Target for a reason. That reason is for you to get a latte, a piece of gingerbread, and sit down a minute.
Go with fun people. Do not shop with anyone who annoys you, pisses you off, drags you down, criticizes you (or your purchases), or is negative.
Do shop with people who crack you up, admire what you buy, have positive energy, and give good fashion advice.
Taking men and/or small children with you is probably not a good idea.
Have fun eating lunch somewhere.
Know what your budget is, and make at least a feeble attempt to adhere to it. If you must break the budget, have a good rationale ready for anyone you might have to account to.
Oh, if you see something you just really, really must have for yourself...well, be your own "secret Santa"! Wrap it up and give to yourself! Let everything think Santa really brought it.
Sometimes it's easier to use Black Friday to get yourself in the mood, start enjoying the decorations, and just reconnoiter for gifts you'll get on a more serious shopping trip.
Go home, put your feet up, order in pizza, and have a glass of wine!
How about you? Where are you shoppin'?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

About Thanksgiving

Because it is: I wake up in my parent's house and am thankful we have another Thanksgiving together.
Soon we will go to my sister's, and I am thankful that she and the rest of our family will be there to eat together another time.
Later, I'll go down to my sister-in-law's, and try to eat some more (and succeed, I'm sure).
We'll call the family who are not with us, and compare menus and traveling stories and the states of our stomachs.
The TV will be on and football will be the focus, and if the Colts win, that's one more thing to be thankful for.
And if the temperature keeps dropping and it starts snowing, we'll be thankful that last night we drive in driving rain and not driving snow.
Tomorrow we'll take it easy but take in some shopping, and be thankful we can pick out presents we know the recipients want or need or will appreciate.
I'll enjoy my trip, and be happy I was here, but it will be good to go home too.
You can argue six ways to Sunday about the first Thanksgiving, but here's something that's written in history: Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Abraham Lincoln

How about you? What's on your menu, and what are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

About a little bling

I'm not a big jewelry person. Ask me to choose a present for my birthday, and I'll go for the gift certificate to B&N or Amazon every time over earrings or a necklace. Books are my obsession, not diamonds.
But bling has its place, and when I received a Kohl's gift certificate for my birthday, I thought I'd spend it on a little sumpin sumpin.
Kohls stores are filled with stuff, for sure, and their web site is even worse, and I have already written about the half-hour of my life I won't get back waiting for the CSR to help me after my online order seemed screwed up.
Which it was, but that's another post.
In one of those serendipitous coincidences that life loves, I recently was introduced to a line of jewelry that is sold at parties. Lia Sophia or something like that. (For someone not interested in jewelry, suddenly it seemed my life was overrun with it.)
Since it was my birthday, my daughter bought me a pretty necklace, and I bought myself a Christmas bracelet.
And best of all, the jewelry party had snacks! Yea, snacks! Almost as good as books!
But I do have two rings I really like (outside of my wedding ring, of course). I have a sapphire my mom got me for Christmas one year that is fashioned on Princess Diana's engagement ring. I've worn it so much it's no longer a circle, but rather a trapezoid thing that is probably making my finger grow funny. Should probably get that fixed, huh?
And I have a diamond with three stones that was my gramma's--I think it's practically antique. I have no idea how much it's worth--it's very sparkly, so I figure that either 1) it's really quite fake or 2) it's really not. Either way, I like it and don't care.
I wear my rings on my ring and middle fingers. And I marvel at people who wear them on their thumbs and/or first fingers,because I think that would drive me crazy. Can you wear them there?
Well, what do you think about a little bling? Is there something you like better?

About holiday weeks

Holidays always stretch beyond their calendar boundaries--for me, anyway. Holidays usually involve travel for us, so that adds another layer of preparation and planning.

And some holiday weeks sneak up on me sneakier than others.

This Thanksgiving has, for sure. I think because I was sick for the first week and a half of November, and I was so busy feeling sick and tired and "is it time to take my medicine?-ish" that the fact that Thanksgiving was coming didn't enter my stuffy brain. I was busy just trying to croak out words.

And as soon as I got better, we had our trip to IKEA that I'd been looking forward to for months, then the week after that, we had a move to help with.

And suddenly, wow!, it's Thanksgiving week! Where AM I?

If I had to cook, I'd be in a real mess, but thank goodness, even if I have that extra layer of packing and driving for three hours, I lose the meal planning/shopping/cooking/entertaining layer. And God knows I pack and drive (or ride) better than I cook!

With my sister all over the meal planning (most of it being catered), I'm concentrating on planning my fashion (mostly jeans) packing (tonight) and checking out where people want to shop on Friday (Crocker Park? Avon? Sandusky?).

So I'm not complaining. I'm just trying to catch my head up to the fact that Thanksgiving week is really here, whether I'm ready or not. Turkeys stop for no woman, you know.

Well, how about you? Are you ready for Thursday?

Monday, November 19, 2007

About surviving Thanksgiving

As someone who dieted through two Thanksgiving (and ended up 60 pounds lighter, eventually) this article caught my eye, as I contemplated making it through another big meal without exploding!

The 942-calorie Thanksgiving dinner - TODAY Holiday Guide - "Don't deny yourself during the holidays, just make smart food choices"

This article has some good advice. Let me add a some from my own experience!

Most important! Don't eat anything you don't really love. If you don't really love turkey, but do love sweet potatoes, skip the turkey! Eat the potatoes!

Choose to eat those things you don't get all the time but really enjoy. How often we do get stuffing?

For example, I found I could skip the green bean casserole and never miss it, but I couldn't bear to think of not eating my mom's mashed potatoes and special turkey gravy.

I also skipped any vegetable that had been casseroled or sauced out of recognition (cheesy broccoli, creamed corn), but let myself enjoy a little ranch dip on the fresh veggies.

My best hint for pie: have some...but don't eat the crust! The crust is where more of the calories are (hello, lard!). That way, I could eat both a slice pumpkin and one of apple and not feel too guilty. I don't get pie everyday!

Since I love white meat, it wasn't hard to make that choice. And the hint in this article about using a tablespoon to measure out gravy is a good one.

I do love stuffing, but found it only takes about half as much as it did once upon a time to make me feel satisfied. Which leads to another hint: For your first serving of stuff, take small portions, and enjoy every bit. Try something new, if it's offered.

Then, if you have eaten slowly and still find you're craving something, go ahead with a small second serving. Hey, it's Thanksgiving!

I make it a game with myself--and the best thing is, I don't have that "I'm about to burst" feeling of old Thanksgivings. I really enjoy the meal.

If weather permits, we usually take a walk afterward, too.

And wine is always our beverage of choice!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

About Beowulf

The other day we were sitting around watching football, and a trailer for the new movie about Beowulf came on.
"Beowulf!" I cried. "WHY would they make a movie nowadays about BEOWULF? Who besides me (and other English majors) have had to read Beowulf!?"
"I did," said Tony.
"Me too," said Angela. "Mrs. Bloom made us. Some people had to read that Dante thing instead, though."
Mrs. Bloom was their high school English teacher, and a long-time friend of mine in book club. I should have known a careful English teacher would have assigned this (especially with the high standards of academics in their high school).
Okay, I stood corrected about my own children having read Beowulf. And I let Mrs. Bloom know her teaching had not been forgotten at our last book meeting. It was her opinion that having an excellent monster such as Grendel was the impetus for a Hollywood production of such an epic poem.
After reading about Angelina Jolie's part in the movie, I kind of think this was the reason, but I'm jaded.
Just in case you've never read Beowulf, hop over to Beowulf the Hypertext where you can view both the Old English version:
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
And the translation:

LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he!

Beowulf might be a little heavy for Sunday!

Well, how about you? Will you be heading out to see a virtually nude Angelina Jolie?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

About moving

Not us, thank goodness. We're moving furniture around and cleaning stuff out, but this time, it's our daughter's family that's on the move.
Just last January, we helped move our son and his family, so the routine is plenty familiar. I was having a deja vu kind of feeling last night as we got started.
I specialize in unpacking boxes. I take great satisfaction in throwing empty boxes into the garage. I try to put stuff where people want it, but shoot! Even when you unpack your own boxes you end up moving stuff around, especially in the kitchen. You just decided you want the glasses there instead of here, and the casserole dishes on that shelf instead of on that one.
Because we mostly move people around town, it's all rental-truck-and-the-guys-move-the-heavy stuff. (Risking pulled muscles, heart attack and missing the big game.)
It's no wonder that people who hire movers ... LOVE it. (At least when they hire good ones, check for recommendations. Worked great for a young friend who just moved to Chicago.)
I still think you need to unpack your own kitchen.
I also think it pays to move every few years just to weed out one's stuff! Since it's been 10 years since we moved, I'm having to do it anyway--through stuff out, I mean, without the benefit of moving.
Well, how about you? Are you movin' and shakin'?

Friday, November 16, 2007

About late yesterday afternoon

Walked out of work in to a wind sharp and cold and it took my breath away and blew me awake. Above me the pin oaks rustled and chattered as they will until next spring. The sky spit snow.

My car was stiff and reluctant to head home, unlike its driver.

To the west and north the cumulonimbus showed great blue rips and the wefts of light promised little but a hard freeze tonight.

In November, winter comes

Route 24 from Huntington to Fort Wayne ribbons through the small, farmland-flat valley of the Little River, with tree-filled ridges to the north and south--once, the Wabash-Erie Canal flowed there, too. Long gone, though a plaque for old Lock No. 4 can be read when you sit at the right place at the stop light in Roanoke.

The leaves linger long, even on the maples this year, and the ones around the houses on the north ridge still flame red and orange, though the brilliant puddles around them grow larger. Soon, all will be reduced to thin silhouettes.

The soybean fields are long since harvested, and the corn mostly so, the stalks bent and the fields stretching yellow-gray from the road to the wind-row down by the river.

But like a checkerboard oasis, acres of green intersperse the fallow. With the harvest, and empty fields, comes planting. Even now, already, winter wheat grows, and these fields will grow all season long, even as ice and snow cover them. The green remains.

I love winter wheat.

How about you? What gets you through the winter?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

About my life spent on hold with Kohl's

Like last night. I had a birthday gift certificate, good for online shopping only, at Kohl's. Plus, I had a 15% off coupon I could use in tandem. These shopping discounts were burnin' a hole in my cyber-pocket, so I spent some time surfing the aisles at (Editor's site review: Their site is terrible. At first glance, it's okay. But try to find something.... They have too much stuff, and it's not well organized. Products appear in several, seemingly unrelated, places. I had to dig and dig to find a pair of earrings that had been featured on the jewelry page just last week.)

I finally found the object of my desire, and added a little sumpin', and proceeded to checkout.

Filled out all the name address blah blah, Kohl's credit card, then added the gift certificate info and the coupon in what seemed to be a very nicely organized fashion.

Except when I hit "order," and was able to review my order, while the 15% off coupon was clearly applied, I would see no where that the $20 gift certificate had been deducted. Bummer!

Stymied, I called the toll-free number, only to be told right off by my new electronic friend that "waits are longer than you may be used to at and you might want to call back later."

Well no I didn't want to call back later, so I pressed all the right buttons (as my new friend instructed me) and finally got to the Musak place.

Where I stayed for fifteen or twenty minutes. Thank God for Firefox and tabbed browsing! I could keep my Kohl's checkout screen up and amuse myself at the same time.

FINALLY, a real human announced herself. After selling her my firstborn child to prove my identity (sorry, Ang, we'll miss you, but I know you love Kohl's) she was able to look at my order and discern that, indeed, yes, that gift certificate had been applied, my Kohl's card had been charged the correct amount, and it was all good.

Okay, bye then. Can I have Angela back?

I run a web site, so I know we're still figuring out this internet thing. But, knowing a little about how ecommerce works, I'm stumped as to why the screen I was looking at was not jiving with what she was looking at.

Well, I won't get that 15 or 20 minutes back, but I did learn that Kevin Federline is taking Brit back to court for something or other. And, I am gonna get those earrings. And that other sumpin'.

How about you? Had any lengthly online shopping experiences lately?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

About cleaning out my dresser

Well, my new dresser from IKEA got put together last night (one to go for the roomie), and that means only, well, two things:
1) my bedroom is going to look much better with new dressers, yea! and
2) now I have to clean out my old one.

I've used the old dresser since about 1982 or '83, and indeed, it HAS been cleaned out since then. I just can't remember when that cleaning occurred. I think it was when I ran out of sock space back in 1998.

It's not a real big dresser--well, it's long, and has nine drawers--but the drawers are all really small. So I kind of had to get rid of some stuff to survive with it.

Still, theoretically, I might have 10-year-old socks and worse in this dresser. You know--10-year-old unmentionables of the underpants kind.

And, I know the lower-left drawer has a strange miscellany of stuff in it--shoulder pads I removed to keep from looking like a linebacker (or too '80s obsessed), scarves (I know I have kept one that was a Christmas present in the '70s from an aunt), all the extra buttons that come with stuff (quite the collection, in a shoebox) (and of course the one I need is never one of the ones I kept), receipts (do I really need that long-gone Hudson's receipt from 1988?), extra bra straps (for those multi-function bras), and God knows what else. Probably everything except money.

Not to mention what's on top the dresser, the jewelry case with the stuff I wear all the time, and the two with "legacy" jewelry in it, stuff I wore in the, oh God, '80s and '90s that for some reason is hard to part with. Oh and my pantyhose box, totally useless since I hate pantyhose and quit wearing them some time ago.

And my perfume, but all that's new.

I'm going to suck it up and get rid of the legacy stuff--if I want to remember it, I'll take a picture of it. My new dresser deserves only contemporary stuff.

The next project will be my husband-roomie's dresser, an even more challenging project--he has '70s stuff in his. I told him he's getting a couple plastic storage bins and his memorabilia is going in the basement!

Well, how about you? What legacy items are you going to get rid of?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

About books about dysfunctional people

I finished a book last night called The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeannette Walls. (Read an interview with her here»)

The best part about this book was, I ended it feeling as if I were the best parent ever. Because, for all the eccentrically wonderful nuttiness of Walls' parents--her father giving her a star for Christmas, her mother waiting to name the newest baby until exactly the right name became evident--the gross neglect and passive physical abuse of these children made me want to cry through most of it. I just don't think allowing a three year old to make his or her own dinner on the stove, resulting in terrible burns, is anything except child abuse.

They lived most of the time in poverty and squalor, and if they learned self-sufficiency and inspired make-do cover-ups (like inventing her own braces), they also learned as they grew up that their parents did not learn from their mistakes, even as they encouraged their children to make and learn from their own.

And interestingly, three of the four children emerged relatively unscathed from their childhoods--her sister, a artist, her brother, a police officer, herself, a writer and journalist. Their youngest sister, the delayed-named Maureen, seems to be the one most closely resembling their flawed parents.

I always disagree with Dostoevsky--unhappy families nearly always share the same reasons for being unhappy: alcohol, drugs, mental illness. And I'm not sure there are many "happy" families; there are only fully or partially functioning ones, ones that manage illness and upset, loss of jobs and loss of life, and are still talking to each other, having Thanksgiving dinner together, laughing with or at whatever it is that's in their way.

Well, what about you? How dysfunctional are you feelin'?

Morning Poll results

After a week a voting, it's unanimous: we can't get through the morning without brushing our teeth! Who knew?

Monday, November 12, 2007

About waitin' for the sun to come out

On our way up to Michigan on Saturday, the sun was kind of in-and-out. We left under cloudy skies...then things lightened and it was partly cloudy awhile...then back to cloudy...but by the time we got to Canton, Michigan, it got cloudy and stayed that way--and worse!--for the rest of the weekend.

When it got home and were unloading, my neighbor across the street was racking leaves. "I hate being cooped up already!" she railed, and I knew just what she meant.

We got spoiled this summer--with the warm weather starting towards the end of April and and not leaving us until October. Too used to shorts and flipflops, windows open (or air conditioner on, I don't miss that!), no jacket needed, a Florida kind of life.

But it was back to the reality of what fall and winter in Indiana is really like, the short grey days (and they have seemed oh so short since the time change), the chill, the jeans-and-sweaters-and-winter-coat wardrobe (although the Michigan folks haven't quite all jumped on that wagon, I saw tons of guys in shorts and sandals), the AIS evenings.

If I ever have one second in the summer when I think longingly of jeans-and-sweaters weather, it takes one week of reality to remind me of why I love Florida.

I do like the seasons, I do like the change, I do I do I do I do, as the cowardly lion said in The Wizard of Oz. I just really don't like being cold.

I'll get through this winter, as I have all the others. Maybe we'll escape to The Sunshine State in March or so for a break. Although I've found that nothing feels worse on slightly sunburned skin than snow.

Well, what about you? Light or dark?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

About IKEA and 8 Mile Road

What do I think of when I think of Detroit? CKLW, that's what, because when I grew up in northern Ohio in the late '60s and early '70s, that was the radio station we listened to. Detroit/Windsor, 50,000 watts of pop and Motown music wonder. I knew Detroit by the radio--the streets, the suburbs, the businesses, the music. (I'd been there a couple times too--the Henry Ford museum, Belle Isle. Not enough to count.)
I knew Detroit was rocked by the same kind of riots--even worse--than in Cleveland, neighborhoods burning, a city divided.
But when I thought of Detroit, it was the music, the cars, what to me at 14 or so seemed the height of cool.
By the time I was a junior in high school, our radio-listening habits changed--we started listening to FM stations out of Cleveland, and Detroit faded from view.
And now, so often it's portrayed a a city in trouble, automotive industry struggling, just one more rust-belt urban area on the downhill slide.
Or not all?
We went to IKEA in Canton, Michigan, this weekend. And that area seems to be anything but struggling. Plymouth, Canton, Novi--those area seemed alive and kickin' to me. Lots of shopping, upscale stores and dining, busy busy busy--no sign of urban blight anywhere.
I was watching the new last night and they were having quite the gala at the newly refurbished art museum, I believe--the reporter kept referring to the place by its initials and I had to infer just what was going on.
But it was tux and gown, jewels and diamond cuff link kind of grand, and a good time was being had by all--everyone seemed quite pleased with the facility, and predicted it would do great things for Detroit.
Well, between wanting to see the Henry Ford complex again, and desperately needing to go to IKEA again (now, that was FUN shopping!), and check out some other shopping we spotted, and being curious about the art museum, and the guys wanting to check out the baseball stadium for some time, I think another trip might be in order.
We passed 8 Mile Road. My memories of all the businesses I used to hear advertised there--and Eminem's movies--got all mixed up in my head.
Well, how about you? What are you thinkin' about urban renewal?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

About wrinkly things

Because we're on a little trip today, and I was in a hurry to get ready, and realized I MIGHT NOT HAVE TIME TO IRON MY CLOTHES.
I'm trying to remember when my abhorrence of things not of a smooth persuasion began, and it's so long ago, I can't. I know I was in elementary school.
One of my first chores as a kid was to iron my dad's work dress shirts, and it was a chore I liked--I enjoyed the instant gratification of orderly smoothness and a tidy appearance out of the wrinkly mess out of the dryer.
I guess that just spilled over onto my own wardrobe, and I've been compulsively ironing ever since.
I don't like ironing en masse ... I don't feel the need to spend hours ironing. I'm more a one day at a time ironer. But by God, I'll iron that t-shirt if it looks a little too wrinkly to me.
Now, I have ruined just a t-shirt or two when ironing, mostly the ones that say, "do not iron." If tempted to iron, believe the tag! Go wrinkly!
And I do have to suppress the compulsion to kidnap any non-ironers in my life, strip them, and iron 'em up.
And I try not to judge any persons by their non-ironing behaviors--I remind myself there are much more important things about a person than the state of their ironing.
I even think I've been judged in the negative for being an over-ironer. Which I deserved.
Well, how about you? Ironer, or not?

Friday, November 9, 2007

About bad TV

I'm finding it more than ironic that, during a short period of time when 1) I'm getting over being sick and trying to rest more and 2) have some time in the evenings, that there is just absolutely nothing on TV I want to watch.
If I were in the full bloom of my usual health, I would be using these hours for the project list I keep that keeps growing longer and longer. Like, I'd be cleaning out that computer desk I'm not going to use anymore, or emptying my pantry shelves and putting down shelf paper (which I've had for two years, ouch), or organizing all my filing.
Instead, I'm "recuperating" (doesn't that sound like something I should be doing to chickens that have gotten loose? [If, indeed, I had any chickens.] "Hey! Somebody! Help me recuperate these loose chickens! They got out!)
Greg keeps complaining it's the worst time of the sports year--baseball over (his main complaint), college basketball not yet in full swing, football concentrated on weekends.
And here we are, with new FIOS TV, and a DVR, and a shelf full of DVDs, and a 42-inch DLP to enjoy, and here's what I was reduced to watching last night:
The Parent Trap. The old one. On The Hallmark Channel.
And I enjoyed every minute.
I'm not into crime shows (that seem to be so popular with everyone else on the planet), I have reached my limit of being able to withstand lame sitcoms, and my reality show addition has been narrowed to American Idol (reality, such as it is) ever since The Amazing Race did the family thing and lost me.
I am a bad cook, my house decorating sucks, and the news is depressing (ruling out HGTV, Food Network and CNN).
The Parent Trap on our TV was beautiful--the colors and cinematography stunning. Haley Mills is no Lindsay Lohan (thank God) and Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara perfect as the parents. The way of life that's depicted --the clothes, the manners, the lifestyle -- in both Boston and California--that is so gone, it's like watching a period piece.
Did you know the movie was nominated for two Academy Awards?
Here's the bad part: I had to go to bed before it was over, in the name of recuperation (have to keep chasin' those chickens). The good part: I sure know how it ends (my kids watched this movie over and over again as they grew up in the '80s).
Anyway, it was fun, and maybe by next week I'll worry less about what's on TV and more about what I can cross off my to-do list.
Well, what about you? What bad TV are you watchin'?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

About sports bars

Yesterday at work we went out for my birthday lunch, and we went to the new sports bar in Huntington.
I'm way too familiar with Huntington restaurants. We eat way too many lunches in a town that is way too small to offer much choice.
If I were a better person, I would pack healthy, inexpensive meals from home, but I am a bad, lazy, hungry person way too ready to spend money, so there ya go.
Anyway, this new place was called Wings Etc., and it seemed to me to be everything a sports bar should be. Lots of wood, colorful tables with the Wings Etc. logo (nice touch!), full menu of fully fried foods, lots of TVs with, what else, sports, and best of all, a good dessert!
It was not very busy, which helped. If it had been full on a Colts game afternoon, it probably would have been way to noisy and chaotic to enjoy.
The sports bar close to our house, Buckets, has gone downhill--in my girly opinion. When it first opened, it had the big TVs, it had the sports banners, all that decorating--but it had one great menu. It included a prime rib sandwich that was as fine a hunk of meat as you'd want. That sandwich is long gone, and we're back to the fried foods sports fans crave.
Ya know, if I croak of some artery-clogging disease, my family may be able to sue Huntington...hmmmmm. Especially after seeing this report on the CBS Evening News, thank you Katie Couric.
Well, how about you? What sports bar food are you cravin'?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

About Dora the Explorer

When you have little girls in your life, it's kind of hard to avoid Dora and her merry band of helpers. If you're not familiar with her, just go here to discover more than you probably really want to know.

Last night, while babysitting the grandpeeps for a bit, we had a Dora movie on. I'm not sure what the name of the movie is, but it revolved around Dora and her merry band trying to rescue a magic crown for a mermaid.

The mermaid's underwater home had some bad problems, most of which revolved around garbage. It seems some unknown entity was dumping its garbage right on top of the coral castles where this princess and her mermaids/mermen friends lived.

How the magic crown would solve the garbage problems I didn't quiet catch, but it seemed essential to the task.

Now, Dora cannot solve these problems on her own. No, she has her map, which talks -- sings, even -- and changes as episodes require. Oh, and I did I mention that all these folks are bilingual?

Dora also has her nemesis, Swiper, a foxy-looking creature who wears an bandanna over his eyes and has a nasty habit of steeling the very thing Dora is looking for. Because Dora's always looking for something.

Now, in the movie last night, Swiper's stealing habit actually was used to the good, because he was used to swipe the crown away from the bad garbage guy.

But Dora's number one friend is Backpack. (Could the show creators think up no better name than THAT?) Backpack goes everywhere with Dora, on her back, and of course, he talks. (In English and Spanish.) But what struck me last night was Backpack's scary resemblance to another character I had seen in a movie last week....

I had re-watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And remember in the climactic scene ... when Quirrell begins unwrapping his head scarf ... and there's Voldemort talking on the back of Quirrell's head!?

That was all I could think of when watching Backpack yakking away last night on Dora's back.

Coincidence? I certainly hope so, or otherwise, Dora's no better than Quirrell, or even Ginny Weasley--taken over by Voldemort. Stay tuned.

Well, how about you? What weird movie connections have you found yourself makin'?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

About a potpourri of things

First, things I am proud of:
1) I was graduated from college
2) I can put mascara on with my right hand (I am left-handed)
3) I use my right hand to use a mouse (see above)
4) I learned a lot about sports so I can talk to male family members
5) I can spell potpourri. Also, camaraderie.

Here's why I can spell potpourri: Because back in the day, when I used to work for the bowhunters, we had a section called Photo Potpourri. Not only did I get to open all the pictures of the dead animals and the proud bowhunters, but I learned to spell the name of the section. Yea, me!
And I learned to spell camaraderie because, well, bowhunters have a lot of it! In their articles (all of which I had to read), they were always experiencing camaraderie. I think that, because getting to smear smelly stuff on their persons, the thing they like best about hunting is that oh-so-hard-to-spell camaraderie!

And what inspires camaraderie among bloggers and blog readers than, a survey! Which, you will see a new one today, and, here are the results of the old one:
NOBODY wakes up thinkin' about lunch. Probably because they haven't tackled breakfast yet.
ONE person wakes up thinkin' about coffee. Which is kind of breakfast.
TWO people wakes up thinkin' about their fashion. Although I know some people who obviously NEVER think of their fashion, and seriously need to be on that What No To Wear Show.
And, an overwhelming SIX people wake up thinkin' about going back to bed! I think those people need some COFFEE!

Now, I had a serendipitous (hey, I can spell that one, too!) happening yesterday. Perhaps you will recall, I am sick. And, my birthday was Sunday. So, I dragged myself to work with the help of some cold medicine, which I was out of after my morning dose. So at lunch, I ran to Walgreen's to restock. And it was one of those kinds that you need to sign your life away to buy. This includes turning over one's driver's license.

And mine had expired on my birthday, so I couldn't buy the med! Even worse, here in Indiana the state legislature passed some draconian (another good one, huh?) voter ID law that you practically need to have your MOM with you when you vote to prove who you are. Or, your driver's license. And with our big mayoral race to decided today, I simply had to have my ID!

Thank goodness! The license branch was open (they are usually closed on Mondays) just so people with identity emergencies such as mine could fix them.

Which I did, tout de suite!

A long-winded way of saying, check your license, so you can vote tomorrow! Or, at least buy your cold medicine!

So, how about you? What weird word can you spell?

Monday, November 5, 2007

About my birthday

Note to self: Don't be sick on your birthday, ever again.

But still, the celebration is much appreciated: the flowers and the cards, the gifts, the dinner-ordered-in during the Colts halftime (who did NOT give us the gift of a win). Everyone over, chaos as usual. A good day, despite.

So because my brain is somewhat addled by congestion and sleeplessness, and creativity seems in short supply, here's a slight reworking of my birthday poem:

Poem for 52

What truth this, I awake to yet another
November fourth? Surely the earth, in her journey
Has sped too quickly around her orbit,
For seems that just yesterday was
November fourth, year past, and year past, and year past.

I look in the mirror November fourth morning
And start, for she who looks back is both familiar and not,
And seems to change every day.
Yet the eyes, perhaps, and something more, these remain of the girl whose
Birthday was cause for joy alone, and cake.

The mirror shows before me
A journey long and short, sweet and sad,
Just partly over, roads to travel open ahead,
Scrapbooks in the closet, memories on hand,
November fourths of years beyond beckon,
And I turn from the mirror, and forge ahead.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

About our day off

Since I am still sick (for those whose curiosity is unbounded--this cold started with a sore throat; segued into a fever of 102; gathered itself into a mucus-generating phrase which has exacerbated itself into an annoying post-nasal-drip cough; and, worst of all, resulted in voicelessness. ON MY BIRTHDAY!) I thought I would rely on a guest writer for some good stuff.
(As I mentioned, I am sick and IT'S MY BIRTHDAY.)

I was going to post one of my favorite John Keat's poems, this one:

When I have Fears that I may Cease to Be

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

But that seems pretty depressing for a sick person. Because I do plan to get better, any minute!

So I chose this one instead, because my birthday is in autumn, and I don't like it, but a poem like this makes me feel a little better, plus, our poet mentions spring:

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Poems borrowed from: Poetry of John Keats (1795-1821)
Find out more about John Keats here:

Well, stop surfin', go rest somewhere.