Tuesday, January 29, 2008

About how January goes

If today the world is worried about global warming, I find myself worried about global speeding, for surely the Earth has quickened its pace around the sun.
If the years of my childhood seemed tinged by infinity, my grownup years are all too finite.
Why does July, my favorite month of the year, which is as long as a month can be with 31 wonderful, daylight-savings-time extended days when light lingers long into evening, why does it go by like a ride on the Blue Streak at Cedar Point?
And how did December, that month of antagonizing anticipation for children everywhere, once as slow-moving as any ponderous social studies class, how did it go into hyperdrive, so that I no more throw away the last of the cranberry sauce when I'm late sending the Christmas cards out and then suddenly it's Happy New Year? How could a month change its character so thoroughly?
I'm thinking of one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books, "...And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer (1982, Ohio State University Press):
"And as always, for as far back as she could remember, she saw the shape of the year: not round, like a clock's face, but a kind of irregular polygon.... She saw herself a lonely figure moving around the many-side face of the year: up the steep slope of November; December rising sharply to a peak, Christmas the high point of the twelve months; January sloping in a long slow downward line, the longest month; February shorter, dropping more steeply; March, another long line, falling almost vertically to April; April and May turning backward and slanting down; June dropping more swiftly to the other high point of the year, or low point: The Fourth of July.... July itself was another almost horizontal line, merging into August, the next to the longest month, rising only slightly to September's outward slant; then three months of climbing back to the beginning again, through October, November, and December to another Christmas."
Which brings me to January, and it is indeed as Miss Santmyer says: the longest month. Which brings me to a long/hate relationship with its long days, for January is the only month, now, in my life that that doesn't seem over before it begins. If I hate the let-down after the holidays, the back-to-work discipline of days, the "dead of winter" feeling of snow storms and freezing temperatures, I can't help but appreciate its longevity; January lingers, as the rest of the year does not.
Come Friday, even this longest month will be gone, traded for the shortest; my polygon journey will continue.
How about you? Are you coming along for the ride?

About a little followup to my post on looking good

Cleveland latest news and more 24/7 from The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com: "Charla Krupp's new book is taking the country by storm -- and how could it not? It's titled 'How Not to Look Old.'

The subtitle offers a further hook: 'Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better.' The book has zoomed to the top 10 of the New York Times' self-help/advice category -- unusual for a beauty book."

Now, this is my kind of book; I probably could have/should have written it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

About car repair

What's worse: paying for a car, or paying to have a car fixed?
I know people who pay cash for their cars. They are my friends, but I hate them. They have discovered some secret, kept from me, of how to save many thousands of dollars, and be able to avoid car payments. Obviously, there is something wrong with these people. Or, with me.
I pay cash for my cars. Over many, many years. I also support the bank at the same time. Is that the ultimate multi-tasking, or what!?
Here's the good news: At the beginning of January, I made the last car payment on my car. Number 48.
Can you guess the bad news? Sure you can.
Let me add this little bit of info: Late last year, my car turned over 100,000 miles. Do you remember that memorable post? There was a picture and everything!
And I'm sure you know what happens when a car hits 100,000 miles, despite the fact that everyone keeps telling me "oh it's good for another 100,000"? One hint: They don't give you a certificate for longevity.
What went wrong when your car a) hit 100,000 or b) you paid it off?
If it was like mine, it developed Mystery Illness.
A strange shake coming from the front end between about 40 and 55 MPH (sometimes). A hot smell upon exiting the car (sometimes). A bad grinding sound when stopped the car (occasionally). A faint, funny whomping sound on driving (once in a while).
When you tell a mechanic guy all they, they have no idea what you're talking about.
But that didn't stop me. I told the mechanic in Huntington all this LAST Monday. So they took it out and drove it--twice. "We couldn't find anything wrong with it," Gerald told me. (Remember, I said "sometimes.") But since it had so many miles, they suggested I get the spark plugs changed (which I knew should be done). And because they found a "service bulletin" that suggested an additive needed to be added to the transmission fluid to prevent a "shudder" at certain speeds, they also suggested the transmission fluid be changed and the said additive, well, added.
Okay, I said. How much will that run me?
Almost $200, and that didn't count that $77 "diagnostic fee" I got charged on Monday! That diagnosed nothing! All they did was put miles on my car and use up my gas.
So I make an appointment for Thursday, and drop my little Outlander off once again, arranging to pick it up in the afternoon.
At four, there was bad news, and worse news:
The bad news was, it wasn't done yet ("Didn't you say 5?" asked Gerald); then, the worse news, the spark plugs they had driven all the way to Ft. Wayne to get WERE THE WRONG SIZE. So, while I waited, they put the OLD ONES BACK IN so I could get home.
And I made arrangements to drop my car off once again, Friday morning. When it was -5 degrees. This place is just around the corner from work, and while I had walked on Monday AND Thursday, thank GOODNESS a co-w0rker saw me on Friday and gave me a ride.
So, deja vu: come 4 p.m., I was back to pick my car up. This time is was done, transmission fluid changed, spark plugs installed, and $177 in the hole.
So home I head, and the thing is still shaking, and it's not sounding so good. I'm talking to my mom getting caught up on her week. And trying not to be pissed off that over $200 of work has not solved my problem.
And then I turn onto my street, and find myself doing a half-donut, ending up blocking the street and scaring my mom to death. "I gotta go!" I told her. Something funny had happened with the wheels, like one was going and one wasn't, and it wasn't that icy or anything to explain it. And I'd heard that bad grinding noise again.
I had a little problem getting the car going back the way it was supposed to, and I was just kind of scared to drive it anywhere again, until I got the problem really licked.
So I babied it 'round the cul-de-sac to home, and parked in front of the house. And 1) called my mom back to let her know I was not nuts, and also talked to my dad, who thought the problem might be a bad wheel bearing or differential; and 2) called AAA to get them to tow it to Hire's Automotive.
Well, AAA couldn't come that evening, so I called again in the morning, and they were able to take it over about noon.
I called Hire's and warned them it was coming, and told them the phone diagnosis of my dad.
About 2, they called--they, too, had test drove it, and could find nothing wrong (should I name this car CHRISTINE!?) BUT, upon putting the car up on the lift and TAKING OFF BOTH THE FRONT TIRES, had discovered I had a stuck brake caliper. Whatever that is: all I know is, it makes the brake work, and when it's stuck, it makes your car shake, yours brakes smell hot, and a bad grinding noise.
The good news: somebody finally figured out what was wrong.
The good news: Hires found the brake parts I needed in town (and did not have to get more expensive parts from the manufacturer), so could fix it right away.
More good news: It was ready by 4:30!
The bad news, all this was to the tune of almost $800. (Bringing my car repair total for the week to over $1,000, or more than three car payments, in my language.)
Oh well! Mystery solved.
It's fixed; some necessary maintenance was completed (and loyal readers may remember that $900 of work I had last spring, which included exotic repairs that included the words "timing belt" and "serpentine"); and my ride is smooth and quiet once again, with no spinouts.
I don't really hate my friends who pay cash for cars; I'm jealous of them. How they do it is a mystery to me....
How about you? Repair, replace, or repay?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

About when I was really cold, in 1978

Thirty years ago, I learned what cold really was.
All week, our local media has been helping us relive the Blizzard of '78. Or, if you are so young as to not have been alive -- or cognizant -- in 1978, you are being educated.

From Wikipedia:
"The Great Blizzard of 1978 struck across the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes on January 26, 1978, with a center in northwestern Ohio. A freak convergence of two atmospheric low pressure systems resulted in a "storm of unprecedented magnitude", according to the National Weather Service, who categorized it as a rare severe blizzard, the most menacing grade of winter storm. Particularly hard hit were the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and southeast Wisconsin where up to 40" of snow fell. Winds gusting up to 100 mph caused drifts that nearly covered some homes. Wind chill reached 60°F below across much of Ohio where 51 of the total 70 storm-related deaths occurred.[1]"

Often, nowadays, when extreme weather hits, we hear it called a "100-year storm." Hurricane Katrina comes to mind.
I didn't know it then, but we were living through a true "100-year storm." And here's the lesson I learned: Although you can manufacture some fun during a severe blizzard -- if you happen to be somewhere safe and warm -- there is no fun about them if you are out in them, whether by accident or on purpose.
There have been lots of stories in the papers about peoples' blizzard experiences, and some of them are the "we partied for five days" type. But one yesterday was a reminder of how life-threatening the conditions were--four people caught in a car, buried by snow, for two days on I69 trying to drive to Fort Wayne from Indianapolis.
We lived in a small, poorly insulated house on the southeast side of Fort Wayne back then. Sometime Wednesday late afternoon or early evening, the wind cranked up, and it didn't back down until sometime early Friday morning. I'll never forget the unceasing howling of the wind. It blew so long and so hard, it was frightening, and the cold (plus the wind chill) was unbelievable. When the wind finally calmed a little very early Friday morning, the silence woke me up.
And then, the whiteness. While the snow fell, the view out every window was a whiteout. And on Friday, after the snow stopped, the sun came out, and the brilliance of the white landscape against the blue sky was stunning, and beautiful, and deceptive, because it was so terribly cold.
We were snowed in from Wednesday until the next Monday. We passed the time by watching a new local TV station that played movie after movie, and listening to the radio (one bulletin after another), and watching the local news (the news staff was looking pretty ragged after a couple of days), and sleeping in, and our neighbors had a potluck dinner on Saturday that everyone trudged through the drifts to attend.
When we could finally get out of the house, the city was like a big, high-walled maze--there were snow walls along every street. But wow--was it good to get out!
Effects linger from the blizzard. Any kind of winter storm warning brings a rush on the groceries and the gas stations. And since none of the storms we've had since--even one last winter that was officially labeled a "blizzard"--have measured up to 1978.
But here's what I really connect to the '78 blizzard: I was pregnant with our daughter; she would be born in April, a spring baby, sunny and warm-hearted. No blizzard memories for her.
And...my baby will be 30 this April.
Now, how the heck did that happen? That's a 100-year (or, should I say, 30-year?) storm to me.
How about you? Have you survived a "storm of the century"?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

About keeping warm

Okay, if you are a warm-blooded type, just skip it. People who are always warm, no matter what, just don't understand.
If a slight breeze in July makes you wonder what the wind-chill is, this post is for you.
Because I am almost always cold. Even with what should be a well-insulating fat layer, or two.
Actually, I don't think fat has much to do with hot or cold. I think it's skin. Because my skin seems extraordinarily sensitive to stuff -- stuff like cold.
So weather like we've been having (as I type, it's 9 degrees) is anathema to me. And since I've been this way since I was a little kid, I've developed several strategies to combat the cold.
My favorite is one I've cultivated as a grownup, but is so extreme, and expensive, I can't practice it as often as I wish. This strategy is, well, leaving. The cold behind. And me, in a new location. A warm location. Like Ft. Myers, Florida. I know. Cheating.
So, the real strategies, like, wear two pairs of socks. Very helpful, if a multiplier of laundry.
Or, duh, wear pants. Because even the glimpse of a woman in a skirt and hose makes me have to go to the ER with sympathy frostbite. I mean, what are they thinking!? Don't you know you're freezing me!
The only time I wear anything resembling pantyhose in winter? (Oh, wait, I mean: ever.) When I wear nice, soft microfiber tights under my pants! Put socks on too, and some nice ankle boots, and you can walk to your car after work in a great state of denial.
And, wear sweaters. With blouses/t's underneath. Or a jacket. Or, and a jacket. And maybe a cami. With a vest.
You know, what they always tell you on TV: layer.
And: have a selection of coats. Shop the mark down sales here in the next month or so and you can do it for cheap! I got a parka good for -30 degrees on sales at L.L. Bean last winter, then snagged a sharp leather jacket (not good for frigid cold, but goodness it looks sharp in other weathers) at JC Penney's for about $35,then, in a final red-dot-sale paroxysm of coat shopping, picked up a black wool dress coat, three-quarter length, at Peebles, for less than $50. Wearing the black wool number is like wearing a blanket out and about.
Wear your hair over your ears or get some of those behind-the-neck ear muffs. Or, heck, make a statement with some fuzzy hot-pink things. You're so cold, who cares?
Write now, I'm on the sofa, fuzzy afghan over me, warm laptop on my lap, two pairs of socks, cup of tea, heating pad.
My feet are still freezing. HOW MANY SOCKS MUST I WEAR?
How 'bout you? How are you keepin' warm?

Winter poll

The results: 2 people hate winter and are ready for spring. One of those people was ... me. One person tolerates the seasons, finding them interesting.
I find them interesting, but I'm getting slightly intolerant.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

About skimming

Skimming. To skim. Like, just read a few pages of a book here and there. Or, to lightly take the skin off some kind of boiled liquid, with a light touch. Skimming the surface. Skim (light) milk. Skim boasrding.
Some days, some weeks, are so busy, so full of stuff, that I adopt a similar technique for getting through them: I skim.
I suppose that will be anathema to some of the "embrace the moment" ilk, you know, live fully in the moment, in the now, I bet Oprah would be appalled.
But then, we do what we must to get by.
How do you skim though a week of your life? Well, quit thinking. At least about all the stuff you have to do. Write it down. And then as it gets done, cross it off, one thing by one thing.
Do think about something that you like, or that makes you happy, or made you happy in the past. Feel free to be as superficial as necessary. If thinking about lying on the beach doing nothing except feeling the sand under your hands make you happy, think about it. If thinking about shopping,or planning outfits, or anticipating some future wonderfulness takes your brain away from the busyness at hand, think away. (For guys:think about good games?)
Indulge just a little--sleep in 10 minutes. Wear your most comfortable outfits. Stop for a latte. Take a bubble bath.
For my plethora of doctor's visits, I put together a little totebag of waiting room necessities. Two magazines, Marie Claire and InStyle. My mp3 player with Michael Buble cued up. Some dark chocolate. Some Sunflower body mist. Some mints.
It worked. I actually had fun waiting for my mammogram.
Well, "fun" is an exaggeration. But I was able to skim over the dread of the squishing.
How about you? what are you skimming over?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

About what we do on Saturdays

On Saturdays we sleep in a little even when McKenna is around, cos she sleeps in too.
On Saturdays we make some turnovers and cinnamon rolls, and have them with our coffee and tea, and McKenna had pancakes too, and ate them all.
On Saturdays we read the paper and everyone takes showers, and Jayme gives McKenna a bath, and I start the laundry and change the sheets and do the dishes, and Greg lets McKenna watch Dora until she quits, then watches ESPN, and Tony drinks more coffee.
On Saturdays the phone rings and it's Angela and more plans are made and then we get ready and leave for Julian's basketball game. And we go to the school and watch Julian make some good passes and score a couple baskets and guard a little boy who dribbles too much, and Matt holds McKenna and gets her a snack, and we talk to everybody and clap when we're supposed to.
On Saturdays we go out to lunch at IHOP and try to decide do we want breakfast or lunch, and talk about work and what the kids said/did, and make more plans, and laugh about how we wait in the foyer while Matt comes to get Angela because we don't have room in the car to take her.
On Saturdays we head home to watch some ballgames or take naps or play video games, depending on who we are, or go to the grocery, like me. And if you're me you wander around the grocery about four times because you forget stuff like hamburger buns or bottled water, which you really shouldn't buy anyway. And you see two people you know and say hi.
On Saturdays, Taylor comes over to spend the night because Caroline is at Carlee's with Julian and Ang and Matt have a party. And after the girls take naps they play together better than they ever have before, and Taylor calls McKenna "Kenna" and McKenna calls Taylor "Tay-Tay."
On Saturdays the guys grill up the steaks that got bought at the grocery and we throw some potatoes in the microwave and put some salad mix in bowls and make some cookies for dessert. And sit at the table and watch the girls eat their mac-n-cheese.
On Saturdays our only lament is that if we cook at home we have to clean it up, but with help it goes fast, even with the girls running about and through the kitchen.
On Saturdays we get an On Demand movie like Even Almighty and don't try to analyze it too much, and watch the girls play kitchen and tear our every. single. book. on. the. kids. bookshelf. And eat their snacks and drink their juice.
On Saturdays the girls get tired and Tony and Jayme have to take McKenna home, and they pack up and kiss everybody goodbye an dgo out in the cold. And Taylor is tired and watches one more Dora and then goes to bed and makes it through three pages of a Little Golden Book Snow White story until she falls asleep.
On Saturdays Greg falls asleep on the couch and HGTV is on and I think back about everything we did all day.
And that's what we do on Saturdays.

Friday, January 18, 2008

About Cathy's Top 3 Hints for Looking Good

Pursuant to my previous, self-absorbed post on my youthful demeanor (Or dementor, depending on the day), I continued to ponder the subject. Actually, my peeps do ask me quite often about this or that--where I shop, or get my hair cut, etc. (you know, girl stuff). And I realized I do have a bit of advice to share with anyone interested in updating their look.

So, all you in Generation Jones, if you're feeling a little dated, but don't want to look like you're trying too hard to be hip, come along with me.

My first advice, and the hardest: Lose your stomach.

After having been a thinner person for most of my life, then becoming a not-so-thin person, I used to make the joke that "of everything I've lost, I miss my waist the most." I didn't how true that was until I lost 50 pounds, and rediscovered my waist, and the wonders that having a waist does for you. I'm convinced that tummy fat--in a man or woman--contributes to somebody looking older than they should more than anything else.

And I don't mean you need to be a flat-ab-ed, rib-cage-showing fit freak, either. Because you don't. You just need to lose enough of your stomach so you don't have a fold down there, and you know where I mean. It might mean 10 pounds or it might mean 50, but believe me, you will not believe the comments you get when you get rid of your tummy.

Cut the calories, cut the fat, cut the beer, walk, and if you can manage a sit-up or two, the compliments you get will be all the motivation you need.

(And as a follow-up to this, if you lose your stomach, you will probably need some new clothes: make sure they fit and show that waist off, and for goodness' sake, don't buy them in either the teen OR the senior citizen department. Classic jeans, fitted t's, beautiful white blouses, well-fitting work pants or skirts--check out More magazine for some good advice.)

Second: Get a good haircut.

If losing your stomach is not only visually pleasing but probably also good for your cholesterol levels, getting a good haircut is going to top it off like frosting on a cake. And if you think getting a trim on that leftover '80s big-bangs thing is a "good haircut," think again.

You don't want it flat, you don't want it puffed, you just want a style that's easy to take care of, feels good on your head, and looks like you live in this century. Which is the 21st, BTW.

Ladies, if your hair if still past your shoulders (and oh please God, not flat, parted in the middle, with or without bangs), GET YOUR BUTT TO A HAIR STYLIST IMMEDIATELY. (With rare exceptions, and you will know who you are. Hopefully.) Check out all your friends, check out people at the mall, buy a couple hair-style magazines at the bookstore, or just opt for a classic, elegant pageboy, but don't be afraid to update. Also, don't be afraid to try something new: Not purple streaks, but maybe a boy cut? Eschew the obviously trendy (who really wants to try to contort with the hair dryer to flip up your back hair, as was the style a couple of years ago?) or the achingly youthful.

As far as color: up to you. There's a real movement to going naturally gray, but if that means your hair is somewhere between dishwater and dirt, you might consider some enhancement until you go over the edge to light gray or white. Or, it's a great time to try highlights or lowlights. I just don't recommend primary colors.

(Also, might be the time to update those glasses--the big-eyed look is so 1990.)

Third, and this one is for guys: Lose the facial hair. I mean it. The little modern version of the goatee looks good on 20- and 30-somethings, and the soul patch on, well, not many, but really--mustaches are so out I'm freezing just typing the words. And full beards--eeuuww. For one, if you're going gray, your beard goes first. Why advertise it? Nothing ages a guy like salt-n-pepper facial hair. I'm not sure what you're hiding under that beard, but it's time to uncover it, 'cause you're not hiding your age (not that you want to). And while we're at it: no comb-overs, no Brillcream, no sideburns. No toupees.

Well, how about you? What's your best advice?

Monday, January 14, 2008

About "you don't look old enough to...."

Well, I had a doctor checkup appointment last Thursday, in my first-of-the-year-checkup marathon, and of course had to have a couple of test thingys.
If I had to guess, I'd say the lady who did one of the tests was ten years or so older than me, which would put her in her early 60s. But, maybe I was wrong.
She was very nice and friendly and we chatted as she got everything ready. She was telling me about her training, where she went to school, what she was certified in, etc. I mentioned that my daughter was a rad tech (radiologic technologist, or x-ray tech).
She was quiet a moment, then said, "You don't look old enough to have a daughter that old. And I would not say that if I didn't mean it."
I replied, "Hmmm, she's 29--she'll be 30 in April. I'm pretty old." And laughed, going for the compatriot feeling.
She repeated, "You don't look old enough. I really mean that. I wouldn't say it."
That wasn't the last time during our brief time together she mentioned how I looked--once more before we were done, she repeated that she wouldn't say it if she didn't mean it, but that I looked really young.
And I'd be lying if I didn't say, I hear it a lot. And I continue to be flummoxed as to what to say. Mostly I just say thanks.
But I wonder, why do I look so young to people? I don't look so young to myself.
Sometimes, when I'm feeling a little feisty, I say, "I think I only look young to you now because you didn't know me when I WAS young."
I did know myself, and my image in the mirror, and believe me, my neck was not saggin', nor my eyelids, which, it seems to me, they are doing now. And there's something funny going on around my mouth that I really don't know how people ignore.
But something about me looks youthful to people, and I just puzzle about what it is.
Don't get me wrong--How can you be anything but happy at looking younger than you are? I am happy. I certainly don't want people saying, "Man, Cathy, you look like crap! You look 100 years old! Are you sick!?"
But still. What is it? What is it about my face, or whatever, that strikes people as so much younger than 52?
Is it totally because of the way I look, or the way I carry myself, or some other ephemeral thing? Is it what I talk about--my job as a web site administrator, or that I can help people with computer problems, or music or movies or whatever, that's of this century? Is it my clothes, or my shoes, or my haircut? Or do I just act so stupid people can't imagine I'm a grownup?
I don't know.
It hit me, after leaving the lady at the doctor's office last week, that maybe she wasn't as old as I thought she was, and was struck by the difference, or lack of it, between us?
Maybe I shouldn't analyze it--I'm puzzled, but after all, it's a good thing, and it just is, so...?
How about you? Do you think 50 is the new 30?

Friday, January 11, 2008

About Beef Manhattan

Not because I was hungry. Because I'd discovered some0ne who had never heard of it, while at lunch on Monday.
We took a new, 30-something colleague for a birthday lunch at one of those small-town restaurants that you can depend on for hot coffee, good food and and a smile. The Copper Kettle, in downtown Huntington, not far from Nick's-of-the-pork-tenderloin-fame, which Dan Quayle made famous during his vice presidency.
Anyway, John grew up in New England, worked in Rome for a few years, then moved to California for another few. Plus, since he worked as a journalist, he's well-traveled in between all those places.
Beef Manhattan was one of the specials for the day; we commented on it as we perused the menu, and that's when John asked, "What's Beef Manhattan?"
I picked up my jaw, and tried to explain. I do love a good Beef Manhattan, with thin-sliced, tender beef, fluffy mashed potatoes, and just enough gravy to satisfy, though I don't indulge in it very often anymore.
I guess I figured since the recipe is rather ubiquitous in diners and restaurants, and had "Manhattan" in its name, it had originated in NYC, and thus had a aura of East Coast sophistication, rather than the reek of Midwestern comfort food. Surely, I thought, Beef Manhattan is not as peculiar to the Midwest as, say, those flying-saucer-sized pork tenderloins are to Indiana?
Well, I tried to research the culinary history of Beef Manhattan, but didn't find much more than this:
"Beef Manhattan is a dish consisting of roast beef and gravy. It is often served with mash potatoes either on top or on the side. A variation on this dish is Turkey Manhattan, which substitutes turkey for the roast beef," on wikipedia.com.
I also found a recipe here»
In my stunned shock, I didn't really quiz John as to how he'd escaped Beef Manhattan--if he avoided those diners and restaurants that tend to serve it, or if he's a health-food devotee, or if it just doesn't exist in New England (even the small towns?), California (possible, but again, even in the small towns?), and Rome (given: probably not).
The long and short if it was, now I'm hungry for Beef Manhattan, and might have to return to the Copper Kettle for a serving next week, fat and calorie content be damned.
Also, I'm impressed, once again, that the country is not the homogeneous melting pot that some writers and reporters would have us believe; that we are not all McDonald-ized -- each region, each state, each little town still has that stamp that says: Yep, we're weird in our own way.
And if you need further proof, hop on by Nick's sometime, and pony up for the tenderloin. Take your Lipitor first, those things are breaded AND fried.
How about you? Ever ordered up a Beef Manhattan? (Or a pork tenderloin?)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

About charitable giving

I woke up thinking about the Goodwill, because they were scheduled to some to my house today and pick up several pieces of furniture that had been cluttering up our house since we got new stuff.
And I certainly appreciate my good fortune that I was able to replace my livingroom furniture (which was almost 8 years old) and bedroom furniture (given to us by friends in 1984. I'm not kidding.).
But subsequently, I'd had dressers in the loft and a headboard in the exercise room and a sofa in the garage for a month too long, and I really wanted it gone.
The Goodwill only comes to our area on Wednesdays. We were gone December 26, so that was a no-go; I had it scheduled for last week, and stayed home until 9:30 waiting for them, but couldn't wait any longer--so I rescheduled for today.
See the problem? For those of us who are out of the house every weekday? First, there's one day a week they can come to your neighborhood; second, they give you a time frame (8:30-noon; noon to 4) and you are stuck waiting until they come.
If only Tony hadn't sold his truck! I miss his truck! This would have been a non-problem if he still had that truck! People with trucks are LUCKY! (They can also get their Christmas trees to the recycling on time, instead of having a dead tree in your back yard until April. Like us.)
So, I made the commitment to work at home this morning, whether the Goodwill came at 8:30 or at noon.
The good news: They came about 9.
The bad news: After telling one of the crew (of two) that I had items in the garage and upstairs, he informed me that "we can't go upstairs to get stuff. Didn't they tell you?"
Well no, "they" did not. I had spoken to two different ladies on at least six occasions, between scheduling, rescheduling, and reminder calls. Never had either one said anything about "no upstairs."
I was one determined donor. No way was I going to let this Goodwill truck get away without all my stuff.
So I began to haul that headboard downstairs myself. That sucker was heavy. I thought I could slide it down the stairs, but the thing seemed to have a mind of its own. I ended up being the brakes as it slipped downstairs.
Thank goodness--one member of the crew took pity on me, and decided "breaking the rules" was better than watching a 52-year-old woman surfing her stairs on a bookcase headboard.
He not only helped me with it, he also helped haul the two dressers down. Without riding them.
He was great.
They left with all the stuff, and left me with a tax receipt ("It's between you, God and the IRS how much you put down," my helper said) and a sore back. But thank goodness, didn't leave me with my stuff.
God, it's hard to give stuff away!
Well, how 'bout you? Are you givin' or gettin'?

Monday, January 7, 2008

About when the holidays are really over

Religously, anyway, it was yesterday: Epiphany.
Decorating-wise, anyway, it was last Wednesday, when I took the needle-dropping tree down for another year, and it lays sadly on our patio, compost waiting to happen.
Fun-wise, last Tuesday, with our all-day buffet and football-watching marathon.
Workwise, the holidays will officially be over Thursday.
Why? Because this will be the first week in three that I've had to work an entire week. Five days. In a row.
Last week, thought it was back-to-work-time, was an absolutely wonderful, holiday-shortened, abbreviated, done-none-too-soon three-day week. I loved it.
Three days this week takes me up to Wednesday. So Thursday takes me into ... a normal, regular, five-day week. Five. Days. Of. Getting. Up. Early.
So Thursday will be it. Holidays, over.
And even worse: In a fit of bad planning and end-of-the-year procrastination, I put off all my yearly checkup-type appointments until ... January. Starting this week, and going into next. Every part of my body scheduled to be prodded, poked, examined, and judged healthy or not. (Well, thank goodness, except my mouth, cause I did go to the dentist on time, and I think I get to wait 'til February on that particular body part.)
Well, the thought of getting up five days in a row is exhausting me, so I'm going. To bed.
How about you? Are your holidays so over?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

About sheets

I had to quit reading O the Magazine, because it made me feel guilty and depressed, a fact that I believe I may have mentioned previously.

O the Magazine made me feel guilty and depressed because I always felt a total failure at all the self-improvement stuff Oprah is so rah-rah about, like being your best self now and being a better you and making the you you are the best you you can be.

And I also had to quit reading because of Oprah's advice about the sheets.

She got addicted to extremely expensive one-million-thread-an-inch Egyptian sheets or whatever, and not only that, she had to have fresh ones EVERY DAY.

One set of her sheets would feed us for six months (even with eating out). And washing and IRONING (I know somewhere, someone is still ironing his/her sheets, and this makes me feel very tired) those sheets. And changing those sheets. Every. Single. Day.

And it would be me doing all this linen stuff, because my husband would think this activity was just nuts and would have nothing to do with it. And because, unlike Oprah, I have no household help to assist in all this sheet.

Now, it's time for the confession: I only change our sheets every two weeks.

When I started working full time, 'way back in the early '80s, I discovered that many of the household chores, etc., that I once had done one way, I no longer had time to do in the same way. And I read an article about that time with suggestions on ways cut down on household stuff, and the every-two-weeks sheet-changing thing was one of the suggestions.

And I tried it, and we lived.

So when I heard about Oprah's sheet-changing habits, I was overcome with remorse and shame about my slatternly housekeeping.

Can you guess it was change-the-linens day at my house?

It was flannel sheets for us today, it being winter and all, and when I get into bed tonight, they will feel mighty soft and warm and, yes, clean.

No million-thread-an-inch sheets for us, but I know I'll sleep pretty good on what I have.

I'd like to try some of those sheets just once, though.

How about you? How's your housekeeping?

Friday, January 4, 2008

About Iowa

I like Iowa. I mean, I've never been there, but I'm sure it's a fine state, because I've seen the movie.

My first impressions of Iowa came to me through our favorite family movie, back when I was a kid: "The Music Man." Takes place in River City, Iowa, you know, or as the song says, "I-o-way." You really ought to give it a try.

Prof. Harold Hill could sell me anything, and he certainly sold me Iowa. (I'm also fond of Oklahoma, though I've never been there, either, for similar cinematic reasons.)

(And, living in Hoosierland, I must mention that Prof. Hill was a graduate of the Gary Conservatory of Music, class of aught-five.) (And, of course Marian the librarian pointed out that the conservatory wasn't even founded until aught-six! Details!) (And I grew up thinking Gary, Indiana, must be a wonderful place indeed, courtesy of Prof. Hill and little Winthrop. It probably was a wonderful place in aught-five. Nineteen aught-five, that is.)

Anyway, so after months of speeches, analysis of the speeches, analysis of the analysis (there's a reason the root of analysis is "anal"), projections, pools, interviews, ad nauseum, the Iowa caucuses -- which, it turns out, consists of all the Democrats in a town gathering in a big room, then migrating to the corner with the sign of the candidate they support -- (and candidates can be traded, which I imagine was like a big Red Rover game) are over.

Back in Indiana, the big word I feel over this whole Iowa thing is: disconnect.

When I heard that one of the candidates had placed 8,000 commercials, I was stunned. Because we will probably not see one commercial. Unless the Ohio race heats up, and the candidates advertise on our local stations, because we are so close to Ohio.

Indiana is a non-player in national politics, and maybe with good reason, as we are such a predictable place. And if you aren't always one of the predictable party, if you are a little independent (like me), well, you are really out in the cold.

Now it's all about New Hampshire, and good luck to 'em. Enjoy your day in the sun. Somebody's gonna win, somebody's gonna lose.

Even in Indiana, but you'll never hear about it. Shoot, they put our electoral votes up on the tote board NOW.

Well, how 'bout you? Are you still "undecided"?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas carol poll results

Silent Night--1
Hark the Herald Angels Sing--2
Away In a Manger--0
O Holy Night--1
Gramma Got Run Over by a Reindeer--2

Take the new poll: Iowa Caucuses!