Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Back to bed

I don't have much of a cough. I'm not too congested. To borrow from Zuzu, I don't have a smidge of temperature. And yet I'm soooo achy and exhausted! All I want to do is stay in bed. Which is where I'm going now.

Nighty night!




This is our president


This is how the most powerful man in the free world chooses to use social media.

This is the message he wants to communicate.

This is the retweet of a bigot.

I pray our fellow citizens vote their consciences this November.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday Stealing

Book Mama as a wee one
Food meme Stolen from Book Mama, who stole it from Jenefur.  

Book Mama was important to me. She was all passion and love. We lost her suddenly in June and I miss her still. To read more about this truly wonderful woman, click here.

01. CHEESE or CHOCOLATE
 
02. BLUEBERRIES or STRAWBERRIES?

03. COFFEE or TEA
 
04. CORN MUFFIN or ENGLISH MUFFIN? Oooh! Depends on my mood.
 
05. PANCAKES or FRENCH TOAST? Though I do enjoy French Toast on occasion.
 
06. YOGURT or CREAM CHEESE? 
 
07. RICE or PASTA?

08. CAKE or PIE? What cake? Which pie?
 
09. GROUND BEEF or GROUND TURKEY?

10. HOT DOGS or HAMBURGERS? Except at the ball park, of course.
 
11. JELLY or MARMALADE?

12. AMERICAN CHEESE or SWISS CHEESE?

13. DIET SODA or NO SODA?

14. LEMONADE or ICED TEA? But only if the lemonade is all natural. Artificial flavors give me a headache. Literally. They trigger my migraines.
 
15. CHERRIES or GRAPES?

16. CHOCOLATE QUIK or STRAWBERRY QUIK?

17. WAFFLES or PANCAKES?

18. WHITE BREAD or WHOLE-GRAIN/WHEAT BREAD?

19. PEAS or CARROTS?

20. PUDDING or FRUIT-FLAVORED GELATIN?

21. COLD CEREAL or HOT CEREAL?

22. KETCHUP or MUSTARD?

23. MUSTARD or MAYONNAISE
 
24. MAYONNAISE or KETCHUP?

25. BLACK OLIVES or GREEN OLIVES? I won't eat either, and you can't make me.
 
26. ONION or GARLIC? I won't eat either, and you can't make me. 

27. PLAIN BARBECUE or BARBECUE WITH SAUCE?
 
28. SCRAMBLED EGGS or FRIED EGGS?


29. EGGS or EGG REPLACEMENTS?


30. MEAT or VEGETABLES?


31. CHINESE TAKE-OUT or PIZZA?


32. SUSHI or DELI SANDWICH?

 
33. WHITE CLAM CHOWDER or RED CLAM CHOWDER? 


34. KEY LIME PIE or LEMON MERANGUE PIE? 


35. PIE & ICE CREAM or CAKE & ICE CREAM?

 
36. WHIPPED CREAM or CAKE FROSTING? 

 
37. HONEY or MAPLE SYRUP?


I knew it was a bad idea at the time

It was raining like crazy Friday night. So much came down so fast that the sewers were having trouble handling it and streets that were dry when I went into my movie group meetup at 6:45 were flooded by the time I left around 9:00. I didn't want to deal with the expressways in such weather, so instead of taking an Uber home, I had the driver take me to the train station. Better to get home via the rails than the roads.

I had about 20 minutes to spare before the train, I hadn't eaten since lunch, and so I checked out the food court. McDonald's had a line, but Arby's was beckoning me. I haven't had a beef 'n' cheddar in forever! Look how tasty the menu photo looks! And it was delicious. But as I enjoyed it -- and I did -- I wondered, "Why don't I eat these more often? Is there a reason?"

I woke up slowly on Saturday, unable to shake the sluggishness. I had no appetite, but I did endure a sudden and blissfully brief episode of something you don't want to read about. I did my grocery shopping but that's it. I just napped some more.

A wasted day. UGH!

So beef 'n' cheddar, while I love you, I must remember to admire you from afar. (I think it's the modified ranch dressing they use that makes it taste good, but disturbs me so.)


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday 9

Sultans of Swing (1978)

Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here


1) The song begins by mentioning how it feels to shiver on a rainy night. As you answer these questions, is it chilly ... or rainy ... or dark? It's rainy. Apparently we are destined to receive an almost biblical amount of precipitation this weekend. At least it will be varied -- rain, sleet, snow ...

2) The lyrics describe a bar at closing time, when the owner announces, "Goodnight, now, it's time to go home." Can you recall a time when you lingered until you closed the joint? My birthday party in November. Mindy, John and I stayed at the tavern until last call ... of course, they close at 9:15, so it's not that impressive. Now I do recall the night, a couple springs ago, when Joanna and I stayed at the tapas restaurant for hours and hours and hours -- even after the band went home. That was epic. (And, as I recall, we weren't even drinking. Just blabbing and blabbing.)

3) This song was written years before it was recorded, back in the days before Dire Straits was a success. Composer/lead singer/lead guitarist Mark Knopfler recalls that, when he was working on "Sultans of Swing," he was worried about paying his gas bill. Is anything troubling you this Saturday? Of course. Trump is still President. On a much lighter note, I am happy to report that Bank of America finally cashed my credit card payment. I mailed it without a statement, just a note with my account information, back on December 19. I wanted to take care of it before I went on Christmas vacation so I wouldn't forget. It was beginning to bother me that after three weeks it still hadn't cleared. (OK, it wasn't beginning to bother me. I was obsessing.) Anyway, it cleared, my account has been credited, and I can move on.

 
4) When this song was popular, Sam often played it on the jukebox because, well, who doesn't like Dire Straits? 40 years later, both that  jukebox and the bar it was in are gone. Have you recently been in a restaurant or bar that has a jukebox? Yes. The Billy Goat Tavern has a jukebox. I don't play it if the bar denizens are watching a game, but they have one and it works.


 

5) In 1978, the year "Sultans of Swing" topped the charts, Garfield first appeared in newspapers all around the United States. Over the years, it was revealed that the cartoon cat loved lasagna and hated raisins. What's a food you love? What's one that you hate? I love lasagna, too, Garfield. And steak, pizza and ice cream. I don't like raw tomatoes or anything with too much spice or pepper.

6) One of People magazine's top-selling issues of 1978 featured Carrie Fisher and Darth Vader on the cover. The article celebrated the theatrical re-release of Star Wars and announced that the cast was on board for a sequel. How many Star Wars movies have you seen? Just the first. I recall it was too noisy and bright to sleep through. I really don't like sci-fi.

7) The most popular movie of 1978 was Grease. What's your favorite song from the Grease soundtrack? Summer Nights. (Tell me more, tell me more ...)

8) In 1978, Yves St. Laurent made fashion news by putting his female runway models in menswear-inspired suits, complete with neckties and pocket squares. Do you know how to tie a windsor knot? Can you fold a handkerchief into a pocket square? Nope.

9) Random question: You're visiting a friend. He graciously offers you the use of his super-expensive, brand-new luxury sedan for the duration of your stay. Do you take him up on it? Or do you rent a car instead? I don't drive, so if the car doesn't come with driver, I'll stick with cabs and ubers. 


 
 

A happy night of lust, betrayal, mayhem and murder

Last night was our first movie meet-up of the new year. It was well attended, despite what felt like a positively biblical amount of rain. I was so happy for our moderator, Will. He works hard on his pre/post movie presentations. And he found us a new venue -- the recital hall of piano showroom. At first blush it seemed like an odd choice for showing classic movies, but really it worked well. The acoustics are awesome, there's ample seating, the bathrooms are pristine and the room is downright elegant (blond wood floors, exposed brick walls).  Even better, it's still in approximately the same neighborhood as our old meeting spot, which is important to Will because he lives in that community and wants to bring incremental foot traffic and attention to that part of town.

The movie itself was just OK. This surprised me, because Criss Cross (1949) is much lauded among film noir aficionados. My TV boyfriend, TCM's Eddie Muller, is a huge fan. I found too many niggling plot holes. But it looked good on the big screen, Yvonne DeCarlo was a revelation (who knew Lily Munster could be so amoral?) and the crowd loved it.

And Betty annoyed me. Betty always annoys me, especially when Joanna isn't there to diffuse our encounters. Betty grabs me and pulls me into her photos ... and with Betty, it seems every moment must be photographed. She asks me again and again about this year's TCM Film Festival and then says, "Oh yeah, you can't afford it this year. That's OK." Gee, is it OK with you, Betty? Really? That means the world to me! (I have to work on my annoyance level, as she seems to sincerely love these movies, enjoy the Meet Ups and even like me. It wouldn't kill me to be nicer.)


A load of whites and half a sock drawer

In my ongoing quest to do MORE toward my goals of being healthier, more financially responsible and more organized, I'm committed to make better use of my evenings.

Crashing on the sofa after work is not productive. Seductive, yes. We have "open seating" at the office, and sitting out in the open, feeling piteously exposed for 40 hours/week, exhausts me. Literally exhausts me. I fell into a ridiculously bad habit of falling asleep in front of the TV, then waking up at 2:30 or 3:00 AM. Not a productive way to live my life.

So Thursday night, I took on my underwear. I bleached my whites and sorted through my my colored socks. I rid myself of several pairs of black trouser socks that are so tight and uncomfortable they feel like compression stockings! And yet I never tossed them before. I'd just waste time putting them on, find they didn't fit, putting them back and grabbing another pair. (Silly Gal!)



Wednesday, January 08, 2020

WWW.WEDNESDAY

WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here


1. What are you currently reading?
Cary Grant by Marc Elliott.The most suave, elegant leading man Hollywood ever produced, Cary Grant's career is even more impressive when viewed in context. 

His parents were ridiculously mismatched -- Dad was a hard drinking ladies' man, Mom was pious and parsimonious. By the time he was 9, both of his parents were gone. Dad left to start a new family and Mom "disappeared." Consequently, Cary Grant suffered a lifelong fear of abandonment and poverty that no amount of success could assuage. Yet he exuded such confidence, such self sufficiency that Ian Fleming used him as the model for James Bond in his 007 novels.

I am enjoying this biography, but it makes me sad that he endured all he did and chapter after chapter, I find myself wanting to give him a hug.

  2. What did you recently finish reading? A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny.  CC de Poitiers is a very unlikable murder victim. Of course, even the odious deserve justice. Much of the tension of this engaging mystery comes from the fact that most of the suspects are more sympathetic and worthy than CC. You don't want to find that any of them did it.

I unexpectedly slipped this book in ahead of Cary because I wanted to read a book set at Christmas over Christmas. It was a good choice. The author uses the holiday to add emotional dimension but she's never mawkish.  

3.  What will you read next? Both the bio and the mystery have been rather serious, so I'm in the mood for chick lit. Meg Cabot is a tried-and-true practitioner of the genre, so I'll reach for No Judgments.


Who's a good girl? Me!

Tuesday I worked out and brown bagged it! OK, actually I Elvis-bagged it, using the plastic bag from a souvenir shop at Graceland for my lunch. But still.

One of my coworkers joined my gym and while we can't work out together -- my back limits what I can do class-wise -- we agreed we can hold one another accountable through 2020. I feel good about all this.

And so I forgive myself for being a lazy slug Tuesday night. I have to remember, my OneWord is More. Every day, I just have to do something more toward my financial, fitness and organizational goals. Today I did something for two of the three. That's good enough.



Fitful sleep

I had a disturbing nightmare Monday night, that left me upset when I awoke on Tuesday. It won't sound terrifying in the retelling, but really, it caused me much anxiety.

I was away from home, and I had to keep my cat Reynaldo with me. For some reason, I was unable to use his carrier. I had to keep him in my arms. As I went from place to place, trying to get home, he wriggled in my arms. I was terrified that he was going to get away. He was going to get lost, or hit by a car, and it was going to be all my fault.

I checked out a dream analysis site, and it seems that Reynaldo was a proxy for Henry. Protecting a cat or kitten in peril could "represent a desire to help someone get on the right path in life." Makes sense. I had a long, and exhausting, call with Henry Monday evening. All he wanted to talk about was his most recent hospital stay. He was proud of how he fought with the nurses and the attending physician in Miami. He was furious at his local physician for not being immediately available to him upon his return to Key West. Oh! How Henry was going to yell at him during his next appointment on Wednesday!

I kept repeating that all I want is for him to be strong, healthy and independent. Why can't he just cooperate with those who care for him? Why can't he participate in his own treatment, instead of fighting it? I told him I wished he would just get out of my dear Henry's way so Henry could get better!

I might as well have been speaking Swahili.

I fell asleep feeling frustrated and sad and dreamed of Reynaldo.

Reg insists that the traumatic brain injury has left Henry is frightened and childlike. I must keep that in mind. Perhaps aggression is Henry's way of keeping the demons at bay. But he should listen to me about getting out of his own way. The drinking ... the resisting the medical professionals ... this is not going to advance his recovery.

And he is going to get better. Even with the seizures, he's better than he was a year ago. And a year from today, Henry will be better yet. I know it.


Monday, January 06, 2020

Tuesday 4





Around the House

Thanks to Annie for picking up the mantle.


1. Do you have pets ? What kind of pets do you have? Photos?
I have two cats. Crafty old Reynaldo and affectionate little Connie.

Don't let Rey's pacific demeanor fool you

Whenever I can't find the remote, I look under Connie

2. Do you have a weekly menu you plan out? Would you share it with us, or perhaps a short list of meals you make often? It gives other people ideas! Not really a "meal plan." But I'm defrosting some pork chops right now. They will be my main dish throughout this week.

3.Where do you do your grocery shopping? Do you like that store or do you go to others to fill in the gaps? Target has the widest selection and most convenient hours. I also like Trader Joe's.

4.  What kind of house do you live in or is it an apartment. Describe it. What changes would you make to it if you could? I live in a 2BR/1BA condo. I need to replace my living room windows.



More Sunday than Saturday

That's all I'm asking of myself: More today than yesterday. Sunday, while watching the Golden Globes, I went through my travel sized toiletries. I had a lot of duplicates and more than a few expired products. I did some winnowing and promised myself to pack more carefully next time (so that I don't buy even more toothpaste and hairspray, like I did in Key West).

Will this one act banish my life of clutter? No, of course not. But I'm a little better off as a result of it. A lot of "a little better off's" is bound to add up.


Sunday, January 05, 2020

Sunday Stealing

The Queen's Meme. All hail the Queen!

1. January usually has ample amounts of snowfall in parts of the world. Did you ever make snow cream as a kid? Nope.

2. January is one of the months with 31 days. What are you going to do with that extra day? It's a Friday and payday, so I'll pay bills and worry about money.

3.  What is your favorite magazine? Allure.
 
4. 
If you live to be 99 years old, what would you like your life to be like in that last decade? I would like to be relaxed and peaceful. (I'd like to be relaxed and peaceful now, too!)

5.
The great world of Wikipedia tells me that scientists claim 99% of all documented species are extinct. Which remaining species in the 1% category would you really like to see extinct.  And which species in the 99% category would you like to bring back? I don't want to see any species extinct. Circle of life. I'd like to bring back The Barbary Lion. This gentleman was hunted out of existence in the 1960s. There are a few left in zoos. Which is why, when people bitch and moan about zoos, I ignore them. Who wants to live in a world where he doesn't exist at all?

6. On January 14, 1986 motorists were required for the first time to wear seat belts? Do you always buckle up? Why or why not?  In the front seat, yes. In the back, no. Because I forget. I know I should. She might be alive today if she'd worn her seat belt.

 

7. Why did the cow jump over the moon? Bored

9. Have you said anything in the last 24 hours that you regret? No
 

10. Have you ever written anything on your blog that you wish you could take back? No. I left a comment on a blog that I regretted, because a friend saw it. This is why I've gone to lengths to stay anonymous. I don't want to pull punches, but on the other hand, I don't want to hurt anyone, either.

11. Are you the blabber or the blabbee? Tell us your most embarrassing blabbermouth moment. I'm an awful blabber. I've often said things without realizing the person I'm talking about is standing behind me.


12. How important is a cell phone in your life? More than I'd like.
 
13.
A "cuisine" is typically influenced by and named after geographical regions and cultures. Pretend your blog is a country. What is the name of your cuisine? Galtopian global cuisine. I kinda like the sound of that. Maybe I should commission a cookbook.

14. You are the Blog Paparazzi! Which blogger's real photograph are you most interested in getting? That crazy lady who went off on Bev and notified the police over Sunday Stealing. Remember her? I'd like to see her face so I could be sure to cross the street if she were ever in my vicinity. 


15. Are you always on time or just a tad late? Always more than a tad late. Except for trains and planes. Then I'm early.



16. Can you think of a time when you were late for something and it was REALLY a big deal? I was 15 minutes late to a client meeting. I was supposed to be 30 minutes early, but the train got stuck in the snow. My coworker was furious, but my client was very nice. I kept apologizing, and she grabbed my elbow, looked me in the eye, and said, "Gal, you're safe." Next time I see her, I should remind her how much that kindness meant to me.



17. If you were on your way to work and had five minutes to get there, would you stop in the road to rescue a crossing turtle? Of course. And then I would call and explain. This is an instance when cell phones are a good and helpful thing.



18.
When you are having a really good day, what usually makes it good? Knowing I did good in some way. Or if my hair looks nice. (I'm shallow.)

19.  What is the most annoying Christmas song? "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." You know, I didn't hear it in 2019. Yea!

20. You are Snow White. Which dwarf is your favorite and why? Dopey is so dear.

 

Lunch with my nephew

He's still home from WIU. He picked me up at the salon where I was getting my hair done, and together we walked around the corner to his favorite diner for lunch.

I asked Tony, the guy who does my hair, to be sure to ask my nephew about school. He's not only on scholarship, he is earning credits so rapidly he may graduate a semester early. My nephew is quieter than his older sister, whose career success and upcoming nuptials seem to dominate all conversation. But that doesn't mean his accomplishments are less than. Tony has known my family for decades, and I appreciated him taking the moment to allow my nephew to glory in his collegiate accomplishments.

Then my nephew had his usual: two slices of pizza, an order of fries, and a vanilla shake. I would not be surprised to learn that he had a couple grilled cheese sandwiches and tater tots for dinner. I was once renown within the clan for the worst diet. He has assumed that mantle.

He's eager for Christmas break to end because then he can get back to Elizabeth Warren's campaign. Remembering my own Clinton/Kerry/Obama days, I admit I'm jealous. He's assumed that mantle, too.


Should I call?

Henry got home from the hospital Friday afternoon. His friend, Phyllis,* drove up to Miami to get him. I guess his condition could not be that enduringly serious, or that would not have released him to her instead of Reg, his husband.

I got all this from brief texts from Patrick, an old friend of Reg's who is staying with them.  I haven't heard from Henry or Reg directly now in a week.

I know I could call. The worst that would happen is that no one picks up.

No, wait. That's not the worst that could happen.

Henry could be super angry at Reg and tell me how he wants a divorce. Those are unpleasant conversations because 1) it's just Henry's rage and vulnerability talking; he doesn't mean it and 2) even if I thought he meant it, Henry can't support or care for himself independently of Reg, so it's a moot point. Or Henry could be mad at me over some imagined slight. It happens. He can't help it and I understand that. But it's depleting to listen to his anger.

Or I could say the wrong thing to Reg and get the back of his hand. Either over the phone or on social media. An old friend of Henry's ran into Reg and expressed shock at Reg's latest hospitalization, saying, "I just talked to him and he was fine yesterday!" Reg tore into him on Facebook, asking how he could be so self absorbed as to see Henry was not "fine" and wondering why the fuck people don't read up on traumatic brain injury and understand that Henry's condition will continue to change in the blink of an eye. I know Reg is tired, guilty and overwhelmed and it manifests itself in anger. I've recommended therapy to him repeatedly, telling him no one expects him to handle all this without help. He says he knows, and then he doesn't follow up ... and then lacerates the well meaning.

So to be honest, I'm afraid of them both.

Every time the phone rings, I want it to be one of them ... and I don't.




*I cannot stand Phyllis. She drinks and tokes way too much. She and Henry were at her house, enjoying their wine, the night he got on his bike and pedaled into a van. I will bet you any money that, on Friday's long drive home to Key West, they stopped for drinks.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Keep Me Warm (2014)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

Here's our first Saturday 9 of 2020!



1) Are you feeling warm and cozy as you answer these questions? Yes. It's very comfortable in here just now.

2) This time of year is important to college football fans. Are you watching/have you watched any of the Bowl games this year? Nope.

3) Crazy Sam's been cold/flu free so far this winter and credits the Echinacea she takes every morning. Her brother insists she's wasting her money. Do you take any herbal supplements? Nope.

4) In the video for this song, Erin Bowman is singing in front of lights and ornaments. Are you sorry to see the decorations slowly disappear? Or do you think they should all come down right away? I'd like them to come down sooner rather than later. They often look sad, dirty and much the worse for wear as the season wears on.
Carson's closed for good in 2018

5) She sings about socks, a scarf and a sweater. Tell us about your favorite sweater. It's light blue and long sleeved. Very casual, it has a string tie at the neck to give it a little character. From my late, lamented favorite store, Carson's. It cost about $8 at an after-Christmas sale years ago. Still, it makes me happy.

6) Erin credits her 8th grade choir teacher for believing in her and giving her a solo. That helped give her the confidence to go into performing professionally. When you were in 8th grade, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Kinda sorta. At that point, I didn't know that "advertising copywriters" existed. But I knew I'd write somehow.

7) This song has been used in commercials for McDonald's and Turner Classic Movies. What commercial have you seen recently? Was it on TV or online? This one. "But why?" cracks me up.



8) In 2014, when this song was first released, we lost both Joan Rivers and Robin Williams. What comedian always makes you laugh? Stephen Colbert.

9) Random question -- There are two performers in the trapeze act: the one who flies through the air and the one who catches the flier. Which would you rather be? The flier.



Wednesday, January 01, 2020

My ONEWORD for 2020


I chose MORE to remind myself that's all I need to do. Not "everything," not "all," just MORE. Be more sensible in my spending than last month, move more than I did last week, drink more water than I did yesterday.

$4,000

That's about how much I reduced my credit card debt in 2019.

It's not enough, of course. But it's a good start. And it makes up for 2018, when I added $4,200 in credit card debt to my ledger.

2020 will present some financial challenges:
•  Increased monthly assessments
•  New air conditioner(s)
•  My niece's out-of-town wedding
•  Of course, stuff I can't anticipate

I'll just have to continue to be mindful when I spend. Wish me luck!


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Year: Skimm'd

I get The Daily Skimm in my email every day. They ended the year with this clever and inclusive illustration of 2019, and I'm happy to share it here.




Monday, December 30, 2019

At least I was stuck in The Thompson Center

The Thompson Center is a controversial building here. Designed by Helmut Jahn, this State of Illinois office building is all glass and peach and aqua and red. I've always loved it, but there are many fellow citizens who hate it. It's fallen into disrepair, and estimates are that fixing the heat, the a/c, the mold and the leaks would be cost prohibitive. Rumor has it that it's going to be sold soon, and likely razed. I will miss it.

So today, I wasn't altogether unhappy that I was stuck there getting my Real ID card. I got to see the Christmas tree, the skylight and the big bear. I'm afraid I don't know the reason for the big  bear, except that, to me, a bear was once a cub. What is a better reflection of The State of Illinois than the Chicago Cubs?



Worrisome postscript

Sunday afternoon, Henry had series of seizures and was airlifted to a hospital in Miami. It seems unreal to me. Here I am, not yet completely unpacked from my trip to visit him, and he's out of it, in a sterile hospital room in Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

Reg explained it all to me over the phone. Henry had a tempestuous phone call with his younger brother. The details aren't clear, but apparently Albert made Henry feel like a bad son, a bad brother, because Henry has made no plans to come home to Puerto Rico and see their ailing mother. Albert knows Henry can't fly because he's at risk for seizures; Reg believes Albert was just being cruel. The stress seems to have triggered the seizure series.

The doctors have led Reg to believe that these seizures will not cause Henry to lose any ground in his recovery, that they aren't unexpected in traumatic brain injury cases.

One step up, two steps back.

My poor, darling Henry.


A Bookish Merry Christmas

This trip to Key West is notable for books, lots of books! It was too cool to swim, so each morning I read instead. Here's the spot on the patio in front of my room where I had a piece of fruit, a muffin, and read the one I brought with me: A Fatal Grace, the second in the Three Pines mystery series. I broke down and bought it because I wanted to read something set at Christmas. How strange to be reading about pines when surrounded by palms!

Then there are the books I received:

Life by Keith Richards and the Bob Dylan Chronicles from Reg and Henry. I'm not terribly enthusiastic about these, to be honest, but I can see myself reading them if my TBR pile gets too shallow.

The Hollywood Book Club is a charming little tome  that shows everyone from Marilyn and James Dean to Gregory Peck and Ginger Rogers with their superstar noses in books. I got it from Patrick -- whom I just know gets me.

Then during the layover in Miami, i found myself in Hudson News, which was having a Buy 2/Get the Third Book FREE! sale. I got The Other Windsor Girl, a novel about Princess Margaret, The Big Fella, a biography of Babe Ruth, and No Judgements, a Meg Cabot book set in the Florida Keys.

I got home to find my Christmas gift from my oldest friend: Writers and Their Cats. It's a nice companion to The Hollywood Book Club!

Of course, now that I'm home, I won't be reading these books among the tropical flora.




Chrismas Getaway -- Day Four

Key lime martini @ Duffy's
Christmas Day. A lovely lunch at Duffy's, my favorite Key West restaurant. I don't know why it's my favorite, exactly. The menu isn't special. Neither is the decor. It's just that I've been going down there for 20+ years, and Duffy's has always been there. It's a happy place, favored more by locals than tourists, with positive vibes, and it comforts me.

After lunch, Henry, Reg and I went to their house to exchange gifts. By now, Patrick was up and about. We four spent several lovely hours gabbing and giggling and it felt very festive.

Henry felt bad about Christmas Eve. He attempted to explain again, but I reassured him no explanation was necessary. We were together, it was Christmas, and that's all that matters.

Henry retired early, so Patrick and I split an Uber back into town. We spent another couple hours over perfectly adequate bar pizza and enjoyed ourselves. I really like him. He really likes me. He's Reg's friends, I'm Henry's, so it's like we're in-laws.

Then he went off to celebrate Christmas at The Island House, perhaps being naughty, just as likely not.




Christmas Getaway -- Day Three

Christmas Eve was a mixed bag. On the positive side, the weather was ideal. Mid 70s and sunny and virtually without wind. It was too cool to swim, but I managed to wiggle my pedicured toes in the pool and in the sand.

Henry and I were on our own. We had a seaside lunch at the southernmost resort in the contiguous United States. Really, we were closer to Havana than we were to Miami. I had the coconut shrimp with pasta salad, and he had a sandwich, which he only picked at. But he did manage to drink down two glasses of wine to my one drink.

All this alcohol, all these medications, and no food. This concerns me. So I reiterated that I have elevated blood sugar, that booze turns to sugar very quickly in the bloodstream, and I'd appreciate it if he didn't have any more wine in front of me.

"Then turn around," he snarled. Really, my darling Henry was angry at me. His defensiveness spoke volumes. Two glasses of wine in 90 minutes is plenty. Henry's liquor intake clouds his judgement and could be interfering with his recovery. When I ask him if he's been honest with his doctor about his drinking, all he says is, "Dr. Jackson knows I like my wine." That is not an answer to my question.

So things were tense on and off throughout the rest of the afternoon. We were doing last minute Christmas shopping. Henry was supposed to find something for Patrick, Reg's old friend and their houseguest. This assignment made him almost as unhappy as my curtailing his drinking. I already had a gift for Patrick -- a t-shirt from the TCM Film Festival -- but I saw things I think he'd appreciate. My favorite was a mug from The Tennessee Williams Museum gift shop that had a quote from Streetcar: "I don't want realism. I want magic!" Patrick drinks coffee, has enjoyed the museum, and is a self-proclaimed theater nerd. Yet Henry was dismissive.

He began complaining about one of their dogs. He said he never wanted to adopt the pair of dogs, and if it was up to him, he'd just open the door and let the male dog run away. What a horrible thing to say! I know he didn't mean this. To slightly change the subject, I told him I bet he was glad they had both dogs last spring, when his beloved Lola died. Otherwise, the girl dog would be alone and lonely.

"No," he said. "Lola was long gone before we got these two."

"No," I corrected. "Lola was alive last Christmas. I played with her."

"No," he insisted, "Lola has been dead for four years."

I realized now we were in Crazy Town. "You let Lola sleep wherever she wanted, because she wasn't feeling well. She chose a stack of pillows. You said it was her throne."

"I know what I know, Gal. She has been dead for four years."

"She died last spring, Henry. I'm not talking about this anymore."

To make matters worse, he got us lost. The shop he was absolutely certain was near the entrance to the cemetery was nowhere to be seen. He was getting angrier, and angrier.

Even though he still denies it, Henry is recovering from a traumatic brain injury. He is doing the best he can. I'm disturbed by his hostility, but I'm not hurt or angry. The situation is difficult, but it's the one we're in.

We got to church for Christmas Eve service and it was like a balm to his soul. The other congregants greeted him warmly and welcomed me. He sang the carols with gusto. I took communion. I continued to make an effort to get along with Phyllis, even though, ugh. Christmas spirit trumps ugh.

On the way back to my hotel, Henry got weepy and apologetic. He says he gets confused. I told him I know he does and I understand. He said is mind does not work like anyone else's, and he came close to admitting he has an injury. This one step up, two steps back dance is worth it if accepts his condition. If he's at peace with what happened, he'll be able to be a more active participant in his recovery.

In my room, I found that the staff had left me some goodies -- cupcakes and a bottle of wine.

Sorry about the angle; my hotel room was tiny & hard to photograph
I fell asleep watching Christmas movies, loving Henry, missing my late Uncle Ted (who made Christmases extra magical when I was a kid) and missing my cats. I thought about Jesus, of course. It was overwhelming. I slept soundly.