Friday, July 31, 2009

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Rain

1. What do you typically like to do on a rainy day? Stay dry! Especially my feet. Having to endure soggy socks and shoes is just soooo icky.

2. Tell us about the last time you did something you later regretted, that you can share with us. Last night I dozed off on the sofa and then had a terrible time trying to get back to sleep.

3. I recently got an email from a lover from a very long time ago. I was asked "Have all your dreams come true?" If it were you and it was from someone you remember fondly, how would you answer the question? I'd say, "No, but I'm pretty happy. How about you?"

4. If you had a job interview and was asked, "If you were an animal, what kind would you be (other than human?)" How would you answer that question. I'd be a cat. I'm independent and don't require much supervision.

5. Do you think it is a good idea to share with a new lover stories of your past lovers? At times. More than once I have wanted a new lover to understand that he's unfortunately paying for the sins of a predecessor. I hope he understands it and is willing to support me as I try to work through my issues.

6. When do you think it is permissible or even important to lie? To save someone's feelings. Especially upon receiving a gift.

7. What was the last thing you did that you never thought you would? I bought a new bathing suit.

8. What is one important lesson that you learned from your mother? That pets are members of the family to be treated with love and respect.

9. What is one important lesson that you learned from your father? American history is fascinating and fun.

The Friday Five

Taboo Edition

1. Who’s making a positive difference in your life?
Taboo words: friends, family, husband/wife/spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend.
The first-place Chicago Cubs! I'm always happier on game days, and I'm ecstatic on successful game days. (Tonight we're in Florida.)

2. Where would you like to be right now?
Taboo words: home, bed, anywhere but here.
In the stylist's chair. Once the haircut is out of the way, my weekend is all mine!

3. What’s the first thing you’d do with a $5,000 (or your local equivalent) gift?
Taboo words: save, debt, vacation, payments, invest.
A Border's gift card for my niece. She sold off many of her DVDs in order to pay for culinary camp. It was a very responsible, mature thing for her to do. But she hasn't even begun her junior year of high school yet and I wish life didn't require her to be so responsible and mature.

4. What super-power would you really like to have?
Taboo words: invisibility, x-ray vision, flying, strength, transform.
Either see the future or read minds. I'll make my final choice when the time comes.

5. What’s your favorite sound?
Taboo words: laughter, music, ocean, wind, ____’s voice.
A cat's purr.

To play along, click here.

Happy Positive Day!

I was encouraged to participate in this special holiday by my Queen, Mimi, who discovered it here. I think it's a wonderful idea, and the perfect prelude to kicking off the August Happiness Challenge, which begins here on This Gal's blog for the third year in a row tomorrow.

So I'm "accentuating the positive"
by reminding msyelf

how I start each and every day.
For my morning routine really is all good.

First, I pet a cat. One of my trio is always in bed beside me. I don't know how they work out amongst themselves whose turn it is, but they do. It's wonderful to wake up and stroke the soft fur of a little soul who loves me no matter what, and to remember that I did a good thing by saving his/her life, since all three of cats are shelter rescues. I am rewarded by that "good thing" I did with this acceptance and affection each and every morning.

Then I take a shower. The whole world always looks better when viewed from under freshly shampooed hair. And there's my shower radio. I always have it turned to the oldies station and I love to sing along. I am amazed by how I can't remember where I left my keys last night, but I have such happy, detailed memories of where I was the first time I heard, "Ain't No Woman Like the One I Got" by the Four Tops. (An after school/before dinner run to Jack in the Box with Joanne from down the block.)

If you want to celebrate Positive Day, too, click here
for the whole story
and the very simple instructions.

A show of faith

I ordered this swim ensemble from the Sundance Catalog this morning. All the pieces were on sale! While I prefer the floral top I'm not sure how it will fit so I ordered the solid, more structured top, too. (In pistachio.)

This is a very big deal for me. I can't remember the last time I wore a swimsuit. I have a drawer full of them at home, but I have so outgrown them I feel like they're mocking me. I'd like to add swimming to my aerobic exercise and besides, it would be wonderful to actually dive from the warm sun to the cool water during that week between Christmas and New Year's when I'm in Key West.

I have lost 3 lbs. this month, making it 10 since I decided to watch my diet more closely and push the exercise regimen more. I promised myself 10 more by year end (and Key West). It's not an ambitous goal, especially, in that I'm halfway there 5 full months to go. However those 5 months include birthdays, parties, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I don't want to set myself up to fail.

So for less than $100 I have invested in my future, my health, and my body. A tangible expression of what I want to achieve. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I did it again ...

I fell asleep on the sofa during the Colbert Report (sorry, Stephen; it's not you, it's me). FOUR HOURS AGO! Now I am awake. I hate it when this happens.

I know I should go to bed, but my big tub of guts, Joey, is snuggled up beside me making curly paws and it doesn't seem fair to disturb him.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Me and the Prez

In honor of tonight's "Beer Summit," I took a Bud Lite from the beer cart, for that is Barack Obama's beer of choice.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #118 -- The "I'll be the judge of that" edition



There are two different CDs available out there called The Essential Barbra Streisand. The one shown here is the import; there's a US CD that shows her with her 1970s curly poodle cut and I like this photo better. However, whoever did the compiling on both sides of the ocean (and I suspect it was Babs herself) got it wrong.

Leave it to this Gal to set the record straight, as it were.

Ever since high school, I have looooved Barbra Streisand's work. There have been times over the last 35 or so years that her performances have spoken to me and, literally, for me. (I'm sorry she doesn't work more often. I miss her, but I'm glad that she's happy with Dr. Kiley, who seems to look hotter every year.)

So here, from a fan's perspective, are the thirteen essential Streisand songs. It shows her not only to have a fantabulous voice, but to be a terrific 3-minute actress. Most of these songs have been performed by others, but Babs imbues them a new level of sincerity. She manages to tell a story with complete credibility on (most of) these.

If you're also a fan and have missed any of these, I believe they're all available on iTunes.

1) The Way We Were. "Memories light the corners of my mind …" One of my favorite songs (ever) from one of my favorite movies (ever). If 100 years from now someone asks what all the fuss over Streisand was about, I hope this is the movie and the song they turn to.

2) The Music that Makes Me Dance. "He'll sleep and he'll rise in the light of two eyes that adore him ..." From the Funny Girl Original Broadway Cast Album. Not well known, but beautiful all the same. Often it's felt like only Babs understands how intensely I feel when I'm in love like this.

3) Stoney End. "I never wanted to go down the Stoney End …" The arrangement is hopelessly dated, but Streisand is still powerful. So powerful that I've referenced "Stoney End" 7 times on this blog. The combination of her voice and these lyrics captures completely how I feel when life overwhelms me, when hopelessness and depression or fear spread across my soul like a wine stain on a white tablecloth. Babs and I -- we're not melancholy depressives. No, we howl at the sky. "The fury of the broken thunder's come to match my raging soul!" I warn you: do not fuck with me when I'm visiting the Stoney End!

4) Don't Rain on My Parade. "I'll march my band out, I'll beat my drum!" Out of her way, world, here she comes! Oh, how many times I've tried to channel her confidence and chutzpah!

5) More than You Know. "Oh, how I'd sigh, oh, how I'd cry, if you got tired and said goodbye. More than I'd show. More than you'll ever know." Very much in love, yes, but surprised by and more than a little afraid of the depth of her feeling.

6) I'll Know. "I'll know, and I won't ever ask, am I right, am I wise, am I smart …" Ready to dive in with both feet when she meets the right man. But until then, she ain't settling. Why should she? She knows he's out there somewhere.

7) I Don't Break Easily. "All your clothes are gone and the welcome mat's been changed. But the key's still there and I've left the door unchained." One of the Streisand songs I feel she and I have both lived through. "Fine, you left. I've gotten on with my life and I'll never be so weak as to call you ever again! But if you happen to show up ..."

8) If I Love Again. "In someone else's fond embrace, I'll close my eyes and see your face." Soft and intimate and so mournful. It's as though she's signing directly from her heart to his. Or maybe to God. What becomes of us after we've found The One, and it didn't work out?

9) Why Did I Choose You? "And when I lost my heart so many years ago, I lost it lovingly and willingly to you … " As poignant a declaration of love as I've ever heard.

10) The Best Thing You've Ever Done. "Take a bow then take another. Isn't loneliness a winner? Wasn't leaving me the best thing you've ever done?" You can practically see her painted nails reaching through the speakers to grab her ex by the throat. Very cathartic, this one.

11) Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. "I'm wild again, beguiled again, a simpering, whimpering child again ..." I love how diffident she is as she sings.

12) My Man. "When he takes me in his arms, the world is bright, ALL RIGHT …" I realize this is a deeply dysfunctional love song. But damn, she just sings the hell out of it. Her voice is so strong and defiant. When I sing in my dreams, this is how I sound. (Don't laugh! At least I've stopped lip syncing into my hair brush.)

13) The Main Event. "Extra, extra! I'm in love!" OK, it's a stupid song! But she sounds like she's having fun singing it. Her voice just sails.

Yes, I know, I know. There's no "People," or "Evergreen" or "Guilty." First of all, just because a song is a hit doesn't qualify it as one of my essentials. And besides, my original list was up to 22, and this is the Thursday Thirteen. I had to make the tough choices. (And, when there are absolutely no consequences, I'm very good at making the tough choices.

PS Props to Miss Cupcake for giving me the idea.

To participate yourself, or to look up more TT participants,
visit the hub (

Why I love FOX News

Because they keep all the nutballs contained -- allowing me to, for the most part, avoid them. Unless one says something so egregious that other news outlets pick it up. For example:

Glenn Beck claims president has ‘a deep-seated hatred for white people’

And here I thought the worst thing about Beck is that he looks like an oversized demonic infant.

Remember the great hue and cry when Kanye West said "George Bush doesn't care about black people" after Katrina? Or when the Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed of GWB? Where's the similar outrage about Beck?

I guess it's only unpatriotic to complain about the President in the most inflammatory way when he's a Republican.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hurray! Finally!

I love my cat Joey. A massive gray and white tom, about 12 or 13 years old, he's an affectionate tub of guts. His days include power-napping, cuddling with me, playing with our young turk-cat, Reynaldo, and being slapped in the face by our household diva cat, Charlotte, who has hated Joey since they first met. (Joey, being both sweetest and perhaps the most forgetful of my cats, needs to be reminded every day that Charlotte hates him.) His days are full, from a feline point of view, and he always seems happy.

One thing his life has always lacked is cat treats.

He doesn't like the crunchy ones that are good for kitty teeth (Rey's favorites). Nor the soft ones, redolent of fish or chicken (preferred by Charlotte). When the other two get their snacks, Joey just sits in the kitchen doorway a moment, realizes none of this appeals to him, and lumbers away. It breaks my heart.

Voila! I have finally found something that he, and he alone, likes! Pet Greens! Safe and healthier than other cat treats, he happily gnaws and grazes. Now we're all happy at snack time.

The Queen's Meme #3

Completed by Royal Decree.

This week I'm attempting her Culinary Meme. I know nothing about cooking, so wish me luck as I try to navigate these unfamiliar waters.

1. If you could put thyme in a bottle, what is the first thing that you'd like to do? Put it on YouTube. There are people out there who would demand visual evidence of what I'd just done. I am, after all, the woman who uses her kitchen drawers to store mittens, scarves and earmuffs during the offseason.

2. Do eggs really crack or do they merely have a nervous breakdown? I believe they have nervous breakdowns. At least Egghead did. He is one of my all-time fave rave Batman villians. His crimes were egg-ceptional and his inevitable capture by the Caped Crusaders was always egg-scrutiating.

3. Why are you whipping the butter? What did it ever do to you? I flatly deny the charge. I'd never whip butter! In fact, I revere butter and all her cousins. You know that scene in the Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch's soldiers and monkeys are chanting? I hear them droning, "O-leo. Oh, oh. O-leo."

4. Do your spoons spoon in the drawer? Have you ever noticed? And more importantly, if wooden spoons spoon do they get splinters? What goes on in the drawer, stays in the drawer.

5. You hear: "Dumpling, my Dumpling, come hither." The candles are lit, the fondue is dipping, the Godiva is pouring, the scallions are steaming and the music is playing.....but wait, the windows are open. Why did you close them? Because, as father used to say, we don't want to air condition the outside, do we?

6. Do you need a recipe to cook or are you a bohemian chef? Show us your reckless and wild side in the kitchen. Don't have one? Here's a recipe I made just for you: You will need a spatula, a whisk, a gallon of Chardonnay, a banana and a rump roast. What is the name of your dish? Lee Remick. Because my friend Mindy's dad, Mr. Goldenberg, always used to say, "Now, Lee Remick, what a dish!"

7. After dinner, the dishes are so dirty that the dishwasher refuses to wash them. What did they say to get in hot water? Something vulgar and classless. My dishes are White Sox fans. They can't help it.

8. Is your pot black? Is the Pope Catholic? Do bears shit in the woods?

9. What is the sexiest spice or condiment in your cabinet? What makes it so? The ketchup. I'd say that I love what comes out after I shake it and give it a little squeeze, but that kind of crass gutter talk is White Sox-worthy.

10. How much crock is really in your crock pot? I don't have a crock pot because my crock cannot be controlled nor contained.

Thank you, Blogoshere!

My sister bloggers have been so supportive and compassionate during my recent medical trauma. I appreciate it enormously. I didn't share this experience with many people in my real life, so the encouragement I received here was so important.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

"Benign. No Follow Up Required."

I'm not going to bury the lead. That's what my test results say, and I'm thrilled by them.

Here's how I found out.

I called my doctor's office this morning and got Nurse A. She began by saying, "You know we haven't even received your test results yet."

"No," said I, "I don't know that because no one called me back yesterday."

I explained that I realized that, with my doctor on vacation, there was no one there right now to read me the results. But didn't my doctor have another physician covering for him.

"Yes, but Dr. Mahoney is seeing obstetric emergencies only."

I told her that while I may not be bruised, bleeding or pregnant, this is an emergency for me and I have no intention of waiting until Monday to find out the test results. So would she please send the test results, when they come in, to my internist? Nurse A said she that since my internist was not in their network, she wasn't sure she could do that.

I pointed out that I live around the corner and would be very happy to stop in and pick up the results myself and walk them over to my internist because, after all, my test results are legally mine.

This rattled Nurse A who said she would "consult with the practice manager" and get back to me.

Minutes later Maria, another nurse, called me back. Amazingly, they found my test results! I guess they'd been there all along! Maria kept emphasizing that even though she's not an MD, she would be happy to read me the results as a courtesy and then fax them to my internist.

"Benign. Consistent in both views. No follow up required."

I told her sending the test results to my other doctor was unnecessary. She said my doctor would be calling me on Monday to confirm the good news. I like that.

Now I am happy. Now I am relaxed. For I am healthy, my circumstances got the respect they deserved, and Nurse A had what President Obama would call "a teaching experience," so she'll handle the next woman's mammogram results with a bit more compassion.

OK, so it's my fat black belt ...

But I'm comfortably wearing it on the last hole! (Or do I mean the first hole?) At any rate, it's as small as it gets, and I don't feel like a sausage. Could this mean that soon I'll be able to forsake my fat jeans, too?

Monday, July 27, 2009

A photo of my raging soul

Never mind the forecast, for the sky had lost control
Cause the fury and the broken thunder's come to match my raging soul

That's from "Stoney End." Laura Nyro wrote the song, Barbra Streisand sang it (and knocked it clear out of the park). And it describes how I felt this afternoon PERFECTLY.

I called my doctor's office first thing this AM and asked to be called when my test results came in. The receptionist told me that my doctor was on vacation all week, but his nurse would call me. I sat by the phone all day. Worrying, stressing, wondering ...

Then at 4:00 I called again and got a different receptionist. This one spoke to me as if I was mentally challenged. The nurse would not be calling me with test results because she's not qualified to do that. (The "duh" was unspoken but implied.) I said I needed to talk to someone, because there's no way I want to wait for a week to hear the results. The nurse was really, really busy, but she'd call me before she went home to discuss this. I left my number and the receptionist said, "Your (previous) message is right here."

I waited until 6:00, called back and got the service. THE BITCHES HAD GONE HOME! Neither the receptionist nor the mysterious nurse were available. If you were standing close enough, you could have heard the thunder clap deep in my soul. I want my test results.

My oldest friend is on vacation in California this week but graciously offered to have one of the doctors in the practice she manages (here in Chicagoland) read the report and get back to me. I also called my internist. I explained that my OB-GYN will be out of town this week and asked if she could help me. I was told by both my oldest friend and my internist that that hideous nurse will have to fax the info to one these two doctors, and because of the strict privacy laws, I may have to sign permission.

Whatever. I want my test results.

I don't know if I'm primarily angry with a soupcon of scared or if I'm terrified with a thin patina of livid. Whichever it is, it's an uncomfortable feeling and I really, really want to yell at someone right now.

When she was bad she was horrid

As July 31 approaches, I was hoping to announce a super-duper weight loss in the counter at right. Alas, I don't think it's going to happen.

I'm confident I'll meet my exercise goal of at least 3 workouts per week. I have stuck to my diet of 1891 calories for 22 of the last 27 days. So what's the problem?

When I go off that diet of 1891, I REALLY go off it. One day I went off the rails by almost 1000 calories. Yes, it was a birthday celebration, a special occasion, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. But days like that (and coconut creme cake like this) have gotten in the way of my goals.

Oh well, this isn't a short-term diet, it's a long-term lifestyle change. I may slip up now and then. (Hopefully less often as I get more accustomed to watching what I eat.) Staying on my diet 80% of the time is better for my body than blowing it off altogether, and by maintaining my fitness schedule I am helping my heart. It's not a total wash. I just have to stick with it!

Monday Movie Meme


Movies about getting from Point A to Point B and the humor/drama/horror that occurs along the way.

Damn those Bumbles! They already named the two that immediately popped into my head, the two I love best: Little Miss Sunshine and Thelma and Louise. But it's a pretty loosely defined genre, so I have come up with a trio of others.

Rain Man. Two brothers who barely know each other take off together. I guess, technically speaking, the younger brother actually kidnaps the older one. By the time they travel across country and end up in court, the younger brother learns to appreciate and accept his older brother, and possibly even forgive their father. Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for this movie, but I think it has one of Tom Cruise's best performances.

The Road to Perdition. Tom Hanks puts a sincere, earnest, hard-working face on crime. After a hit goes very wrong, he takes off with his son -- trying to "fix" things with the mob he's involved with while trying to establish a good, clean, new life for his only remaining child. The movie is a serious mix of affection, tension and moral ambiguity, with lots of subtle and not-so-subtle messages about the bond between parent and child. It also has pair of fine performances by Jude Law and Paul Newman.

The Wizard of Oz. It is SO a road movie! A yellow brick road movie, to be exact. Dorothy and Toto are joined by a trio of colorful traveling companions and they learn much about each other along the way. With repeated viewings, I have come to appreciate the outsized courage of Toto so much more. That little fella rocked!

To play along yourself, or to see how other bloggers have responded, click here.

Waiting, waiting, waiting

Naturally I called my doctor's office first thing this morning to let him know I'll be available all day on my cell. The thing of it is, though, he's on vacation this week! I told the receptionist I want to hear from the nurse the moment my test results come in. I explained what the tests were, hoping to appeal to empathy and sisterhood.

I've also sent up flares to my best friend that now would be a good time to come to the aid of this ol' gal.

So I've popped a Xanax, put on the Beatles, revised some copy, and am trying not to slowly go nuts. No, wait. I'd prefer to slowly go nuts than to suddenly spin wildly out of control.

I wish the Cubs were playing this afternoon instead of tonight. I wish we'd gotten an enormous, high-profile, high-stress project this morning.

I am not a patient patient.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So that I'll have sweet dreams

Yes, I start a new workweek tomorrow. And above all, I'll be waiting for a most important call from my doctor. To make sure that I sleep well and wake up happy, my final post will be a reflection on


My Boys in Blue swept Dusty Baker's* Reds and now find themselves 1/2 game ahead of the Cards. Which is, of course, as it should be.

*Dusty Baker was the manager who allowed the trade of my beloved future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux for Cesar Isturis. Cesar Who, you say? My point exactly.

Memo to Politicians: If you want your kids to be left alone ...

... Don't send them out on an "abstinence speaking tour" and/or encourage them to pose on the cover of People. In her final speech as Alaska's governor Sarah Palin admonished the press to leave her successor's kids alone.

This broad gives me a headache. Less than two months ago, her eldest daughter Bristol appeared solo (I mean, without her parents) on the cover of People magazine. This is no paparazzi shot. This teen mom posed for it. As People announced regarding its exclusive: "
Breast-Feeding Before Classes, Staying in on Prom Night—the Alaska Teenager Graduates from High School and Talks Frankly About the Highs and Lows of Her New '24-Hour-a-Day Job'." It was also during early summer 2009 that Bristol appeared on morning talk shows to discuss teen motherhood.

Even the Blagojevichs haven't promoted their kids' public profiles this way. Sure, Patti ate a tarantula on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, but the girls remain off limits. You know you have hit bottom when you make the Blago clan look smart and classy.

I'm sick of Sarah Palin being a professional victim. She actively puts her kids out there, right alongside Jon & Kate, and then whines about the attention. I hope she just goes away. Or gets a talk show on Fox. At least then she'll be contained and easier to avoid.

8 Tubes of Mascara

That's what I just threw out. I have no idea how long I've had some of them, which is dangerous when it comes to something I wear so close to my eyes. That's not why I did it, though. I got tired of wasting time every morning, opening a tube and finding it was dried up or otherwise unusable. Finally I figured the best way to solve this problem was to sit down, go through them, and actually DISCARD the old, dried up or empty mascaras.

Yes, you may alert Mensa now.

Now I'm moving on to the eye shadows.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The "Leave It to Meme" Meme

1. Who was your FIRST date? A guy I hung around with, or who, more precisely, let me hang around with him. He was a neighbor boy, a year ahead of me. Soooo sophisticated!

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love? Nope.

3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink? A very sweet liqueur from a very ornate bottle. We'd liberated it from our parents' liquor cabinet.

4. What was your FIRST job? Babysitting.

5. What was your FIRST car? An ancient Impala.

6. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane? Fort Lauderdale to visit my uncle.

7. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk? She's the one I refer to on this blog as "my oldest friend." We've known each other since we were 6.

8. Whose wedding did you attend the FIRST time? Our next door neighbor's son. Billy was in his 20s, I was in Kindergarten. I used to visit with him as he washed his car and he promised he'd marry me. I was really pissed that he not only wasn't waiting for me, but I had to watch him marry HER. (Her name was Sandy and she used a lot of hairspray.) He had an undiagnosed heart problem and died suddenly just a few years later.

9. Tell us about your FIRST roommate. I've never had a roommate.

10. If you had one wish, what would it be (other than more wishes)? Serenity.

11. What is something you would learn if you had the chance? To dance. You know, box step. I wanna be Ginger Rogers.

12. Did you marry the FIRST person you were in love with? Nope.

13. What were the first lessons you ever took and why? Ballet. Why? Because I was in second grade. My mother told me to get in the car, as so I went.

14. What is the first thing you do when you get home? Toss my keys into the basket by the front door so I don't lose them.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Fast Car

1. What’s the furthest trip you’ve taken by automobile? 800 miles = Chicago to Montreal. It was with my family when I was 9. I fought with my sister over the armrest in the backseat for the full 800 miles.

2. What’s the worst pick up line you've ever received? "You could pee on my shoes." Really. My first full day in New York.

3. What’s the best pick up line you’ve gotten? "Exactly what would it take to get you in bed?" We'd just met that night, we'd been flirting for quite some time and were sitting very close together on the sofa. His timing was perfect. He got much further with me than the gentleman in question #2.

4. What was the last gift that you received? Studio portrait of my niece and nephew.

5. What was the last gift that you gave someone? A small wood wish box for my oldest friend. By writing her wish on a slip of paper and keeping it in the box, she can help make it come true.

6. Tell us about the last time you cried. Watching Marley & Me. "Goodbye, Clearance Puppy."

7. Tell us about the last time you laughed uncontrollably. My friend John's birthday celebration. It was at the expense of TV commentator Nancy Grace, and it was in very bad taste.

8. Do you suffer road rage? What are your thoughts on it? I don't drive, so I'm exempt.

9. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes? "You still think you're the cutest little trick in shoe leather." Rhett to Scarlett.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"The Fall'll Probably Kill Ya!"

That was one of Paul Newman's most famous lines. You remember ... Butch and Sundance are trapped on a cliff, surrounded by certain death, an armed super posse above them and rushing rapids below. Butch tries to convince Sundance that the only way out is to jump. Sundance reluctantly, shamefully admits he can't swim, and Butch laughs and convinces him with that line.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, arguably the coolest movie about the coolest guys starring the two coolest actors. Newman and Redford get a lot of credit for the film's success, and they should. They're irresistable.

But the script is a gem, too. Written by William Goldman (above). One of my favorite authors of all time.

He's best known now as a screenwriter with two Oscars to his credit (All the President's Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). He's also responsible for Chaplin starring Robert Downey, Maverick starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, and Misery with Kathy Bates.

He's also done the screenplays based on his own novels: Marathon Man, Magic and The Princess Bride. Fun movies all, but the books are soooo much better. Especially, believe it or not, The Princess Bride. The book has a poignant subtext about family, yearning, and dreams that can break your heart. Next time you go to the library, give one of those a try.

And thanks to William Goldman for giving us these two enduring charmers.

Baby's First Friday Fill-In

1. A suspicious mammogram is not the end of the world.

2. Sitting here, listening to the sound of rain falling, I hope I closed all the windows before I left the house!

3. Cinnamon tastes so good!

4. Sometimes, putting others first is a very good feeling.

5. Lake Michigan is breathtaking, really.

6. Well, maybe there is a Santa Clause.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to chilling out, tomorrow my plans include going to movies and Sunday, I want to play with my nephew!

If you want to play around, or see how other bloggers responded, click here.

I love these commercials

I wish the puppy had a younger-sounding voice, but that's the marketer in me. As just a plain, old everyday viewer, I looooove seeing the Cottonelle puppy at the spa.

The Hot Line

I called my doctor's office this morning and spoke to the answering service. I asked them to please let him know that when he receives my test results, he should call my CELL number, which he previously didn't have. I'm so glad I happened to get this new phone. It has longer battery life than the old one, plus it's more fun, so I'll be sure to keep it on and with me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Maybe microcalcifications?

Had my follow up mammogram and ultrasound this morning. Everyone at the hospital was very nice, and I should have the results by Monday. I'm going to start calling the doctor tomorrow, just to make sure he knows where we are in the process ... and how anxious I am about the results.

From the way the techs spoke this morning, I suspect there are two microcalcifications. I have been reading up on them all day, and have learned that they aren't usually, but can be, cancer. If this is the worst case scenario, I know the cancer has been caught early, which is comforting.

Next steps? I imagine my doctor will either tell me that the ultrasound/follow-up films show nothing serious, or he'll tell me we have to talk about a biopsy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #117 -- The BING Game


You know the Google Game: you key in your first name and the word “needs,” hit "search" and amuse yourself with the wacky answers. This week I’m trying a slight variation. Instead of finding out what cyberspace feels I need, I’m looking instead for what I want, and instead of using the venerable Google for help, I’ve turned to the newer search engine on the block, Bing.

It was very revealing. For Bing says that I want …

1) to make the Little League event as fun and pleasurable as possible. I’m thoughtful…

2) to rule the radio dial. And ambitious.

3) Bob to pull his hard [deleted] from my [deleted]. And lusty, but careful. I’m not going to let Google slap a warning on this blog like they did on Bud’s.

4) to quit and give another contestant a chance. And dedicated to fair play.

5) a different kind of job. And imaginative.

6) to go skiing, but I’m committed to baby sitting. And responsible.

7) to join your mob in Mobsters, a mafia-style combat game played on My Space. And involved in social networking sites.

8) customers to know they count at GMI Equipment Co. And a good corporate citizen.

9) to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Tuesday night. And a fan of the supernatural, especially when it’s lighthearted.

10) to know what you’re going to do with the baton in your hands. Is this related to #3?

11) to take 10 months off from my teaching position to move to Washington, DC, and give my input to lawmakers. I’m either dedicated to the cause of education, or I'm a buttinski.

12) an iPhone! YES!!! Judging by the emphatic punctuation, I’m more excited about technology than I am about Bob’s hard [deleted].

13) to be more than just a housewife, but Steve won’t allow it. Won’t “allow” it? No wonder I turned to Bob!

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Yesterday I had a tummy ache

It began Monday night/Tuesday dawn and it was miserable! While the worst of it was gone by the time I got to work yesterday, it left me feel weak and achy and icky.

The healing powers of Sierra Mist, bland rice cakes, and plenty of sleep are amazing! Today I feel like a brand new gal.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The score doesn't reflect the game

Yes, the Cubs lost to the Phillies, 4-1. But it was a much closer, much more exciting game than the score reflects. Until the bottom of the 13th, it was tied at 1-1. Then Jason Werth sent one sailing into the stands.

So we lost. But it was a great game.

If we play like this throughout the second half, this just may be the year!

The Queen's Meme #2

Done by royal decree.

Mission Impossible Meme
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing

1. You are a guest on the space shuttle. You just arrived on the moon and realize you forgot something back home that you can't live without. What is it and how do you convince them to go back and fetch it? My iPod. That frigging shuttle is a small, enclosed place and while they may be considered great guys by their friends, these astronauts are complete strangers to this Gal. I NEED MY ALONE TIME! I'd explain that if I can't control my environment in these closed quarters by wearing my headphones, there's going to be trouble. Maybe not death, but certainly bruising and maybe even loss of blood.

2. Pretend you are a teacher in a rough public school for one day. You have been assigned to teach Manners 101. You have the "challenging bad butt kids" class. They are jumping up and down, cursing, and throwing things at you. What is the first thing you would write on the board? "Up Your Nose with a Rubber Hose." I know it's an inelegant non sequitur, but it always worked for Mr. Kotter in similar circumstances.

3. Someone in your family or a friend has started a blog. They think it is anonymous but you have figured it out. They are saying derogatory things about you. Do you tell them or do you read it for awhile? How would you handle it? Hmmm ... (she said, contemplatively twirling her hair). I'd read it for a while. Am I learning hard and harsh truths about myself, or am I being slagged just for the hell of it? I have to answer that before I can respond.

4. If you had one dollar left in your pocket, what would you spend it on? A can of Classic Coke. Because I always want one.

5. President Obama and the First Lady are coming over for dinner. What do you serve? Note that this question asks what I "serve," not what I "prepare." Therefore I'm being given a loophole to wriggle out of, and I'm wrigglin'. I'd pick up something from Five Guys because not only is it around the corner, it's something I know the Prez likes.

6. You walk in on your lover. He is trying on your clothes. What do you do? Pray that he's stretching them out of shape. It would break my heart if they fit him less snugly than they do me.

7. Every astronaut must have shots! Choose your vaccination: You only get one and you can't enjoy any of the attributes of the other choices. You choose either: (1) The fountain of eternal youth and sexual vigor but only for 10 years (2) perfect health for a lifetime (3) eternal mind-numbing nirvana and peace of mind (4) unlimited hedonism for one year with no negative consequences. #2. That would give me the time and stamina to work toward the others.

Remembering Blair Holt

A little more than 2 years ago, Chicago lost a 16-year-old boy. It's a tragic scar on this great city that we lose too many young people to violence every week. There was something especially wonderful, promising and special about Blair Holt and his family that made his life and death touch a chord in many of us.

Blair Holt was an honor student, the son of a Chicago cop (dad) and a firefighter (mom). He was on his way home from school on a CTA bus when gangbangers boarded and started firing. He pushed his classmate out of the way and was killed instead. Yesterday, at his killer's sentencing, surveillance tapes of his heroism were shown publicly for the first time.

There is much that could be and is being said about Blair Holt's admitted, convicted and now sentenced murderer. I leave that for others. This post is about the boy who sadly never got to become a man.

• Blair was a well-liked student who made good grades and had no gang affiliations whatsoever

• He planned to go on to college and pursue a career in music management

• He loved steaks cooked on the grill

• He enjoyed renting movies

• He shared a love of the White Sox with his father

• His mother referred to him as her "best friend" and "running buddy"

• The father of the girl whose life he saved refers to Blair Holt as a "hero"

• Judge Nicholas Ford agreed from the bench yesterday.

There is a bill before Congress now, HR45, called The Blair Holt Firearm and Record of Sale Act. In summary, this law would:

• Prohibit possession of any handguns or any semiautomatic firearms that can accept detachable ammunition-feeding devices (excluding antiques) by anyone who has not been issued a firearm license.

• Require all sales of those types of firearms to go through licensed dealers.

• Direct the Attorney General to establish and run a federal record-of-sale system.

• Require the possessors of firearms to secure them (by secure gun storage or safety devices) when they are kept in locales where children might be capable of gaining access to those firearms.

I encourage you to read more about HR45, and consider contacting your Congressman to support it. Just as Blair Holt saved one of his classmates, perhaps we can honor his memory by saving another kid.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Movie Meme

This week's movie topic is all about Walking Out...

Meaning movies I either walked out of, or wished I had. I've listed them by how violently the mere mention of the title makes me shudder.

The Piano. Harvey Keitel naked. Naked with tattoos on his face that look like they were drawn with a Bic Ballpoint. Holly Hunter mute for no rational reason, heaping so much responsibility on her daughter that the poor little girl was in nearly every scene (but she did get an Oscar for her pains).

The Legend of Bagger Vance. Who knew a movie with Will Smith and Matt Damon could be a snooze? I didn't hate this movie. I was just desperately disappointed and so, sooooo bored.

The Matrix. Too convoluted to follow, too noisy to sleep through.

If you'd like to join the Bumbles and play along, click here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dreaming of Don

Last night, my oldest friend and I celebrated Mad Men's gazillion Emmy nominations by watching several episodes from the Season 2 DVD. We ate thin crust pizza, chugged Coke, and laughed a lot.

I could rhapsodize about how good this show is, because it is. The writing ... the attention to period detail ... how well it reveals some timeless truths about advertising, and therefore American culture. I could talk about how eerily incidents on the show reflect things that have happened in my own career. (Some day I must share the story about how my "big break" was a result of my boss' being out of the office on family leave, and how conflicted I felt about benefiting from his absence.)

All that would be true.

But most of our enjoyment came from drooling over Don Draper. I've known my friend since the first grade, and over all those years we have sighed and swooned together over an amazing collection of men: from the Beatles to the Monkees to the Men from UNCLE to ball players (both foot and base) to Johnny Depp and Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper). Today life hasn't afforded either of us the smoothest ride. Giggling with a good friend over a great looking guy ... Trust me, it's a time-tested escape.

Friday, July 17, 2009

They're Back!

The Cubs are playing the Nationals in Washington. Hello, Boys! Welcome back to the diamond and let's kick some second half ass. (Yes, their first game back from the All-Star break was last night, but I wasn't home last night -- doctor's appt. -- and I missed it.)

I accept that into each life a little rain must fall.
But does it have to fall on me during the All-Star break? Anything is easier to face if I can escape it for 9 innings, curled up on the couch, watching my Cubs.

He is a puzzlement

My uncle, that is. I love him very much, but he's a difficult old coot. He's also battling Parkinson's. While the disease has taken a terrible toll on his body and spirit, it's not to blame for his "difficult old coot" status. I remember fondly when he was a difficult young coot.

He's always been moody -- great fun one moment, sharp tongued the next. He can also be a terrible snob, owing to the fact that he's a self-made millionaire. He doesn't mean to be a snob. It's just that he's justifiably proud of his accomplishments and unfortunately defines himself by his bank book.

He's also the one who bought me my first Beatle record (Love Me Do/PS I Love You) and hid my Easter gift under the floormat of his 1964 Mustang and, upon returning from Viet Nam, allowed me to present him to my third grade class for "show and tell." When I was a little girl, he held me upside down and tickled me. When I was a young woman, he helped me establish my credit rating by taking me out to get a stereo and explaining how the payment plan worked -- and the impact screwing it up could have on me for decades to come. There's no amount of "difficult" that he can send my way now that can possibly wash away what he's meant to me in the past.

So I put more thought into his holiday gifts than I do for anyone else's. He's very hard to buy for because (1) he can buy anything he wants himself and (2) the Parkinson's Disease has made it hard for him to enjoy many of the pleasures we take for granted, like reading or watching movies.

I am happy to report that I have happened on the perfect gift for him. In his name I am going to donate money and wish-list items to Operation Shoebox. This group puts shoeboxes together and sends them to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They accept donations of everything from Twizzlers and puzzle books to foot powder and socks and pass them along to those who fight in our behalf. (It is no secret to those who read this blog that I have never been a big supporter of the war in Iraq, but that does not diminish my support for those who enlisted and go wherever the Commander in Chief sends them.)

I know this seems very early, but I know it takes weeks for mail to reach soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you consider the time it will take for Operation Shoebox to put the gift packages together, I'm really not that early. (OK, I am. But this will be fun.) I'm happy to both do something helpful and patriotic, and accomplish something in my uncle's name that he couldn't do for himself anymore. If this can encourage a correspondence between him and a soldier, all the better!

This photo is a Life Magazine shot of a soldier during WWII, opening a present from home. It bothers me that only one of the three has a gift. So my uncle and I are going to do our small part to make sure more soldiers have something from home Christmas 09.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #116 -- The "thank you very much" edition


I am the least spontaneous person on the face of the earth. I always must have a plan. I have been in therapy long enough to know that having a plan is simply my way of maintaining the illusion of control and order in a chaotic world. Whatever. It's how I roll.

So when I found out about IT (an abnormality on my annual mammogram) I started to fixate, obsess, and awfulize. My oldest friend, who knows me well, knew I was tormenting myself with worry and offered to have my follow-up mammogram scheduled lightening fast at the hospital where she works (less than 24 hours). There were calls back and forth to my doctor and the hospital that did the original mammogram and it turned out it wasn't going to be as easy as I originally thought. I'd have to somehow get the films of my 7/3 mammogram from "my" hospital and get them to "her" hospital. Not a big deal, but I wasn't sure how this was going to happen. And I didn't want to think about IT anymore. I wanted a plan. I wanted to impose order on a situation that's really out of my control.

So I made an appointment at "my hospital" to have the follow-up done. Next week. I know it may not make sense that waiting a week actually chilled me out a bit, but there you go. I'm a Gal Who Loves a Plan, and now I have one.

Wondering how we get from a mammogram to Elvis?

On the way home from work last night, I put my iPod on Shuffle and just happened to hear "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" from Elvis' 1968 Comeback Special.

It made me smile. For the first time since I started freaking out about IT last Saturday, I was truly enjoying something. The King managed to take my mind off IT, the All-Star break (God, I miss my Cubs), my mother's health and her financial woes ...

Elvis rode the train home with me yesterday, and I'm listening to him again today. In the soundtrack to the Comeback Special, he's in fine voice and it's a great distillation of everything that made him so cool, that made him The King of Rock and Roll.

1) The special originally aired on December 3, 1968. I had just turned 11 and still thought Elvis was hideously passe. It's just as well I didn't watch it then -- it would have been like putting pearls before swine.

2) It was called Elvis and the soundtrack was titled NBC-TV Special. It's become known as the 1968 Comeback Special by the public because it re-energized Elvis' career.

3) The show had a single sponsor, Singer Sewing Machines. They expected to fund a conventional Christmas special. While Elvis does sing "Blue Christmas," this special is far from typical holiday fare.

4) The show has some big production numbers. They're very stylized and tell the story of a "Guitar Man" who makes his way to Hollywood. My favorite section is when Elvis performs his gospel set ("Where Could I Go But to the Lord?" and "Saved" are real, vibrant, and sexy.)

5) The censors cut one production number. Elvis performed a song called "Let Yourself Go" in a bordello, but it didn't air. (I told you this wasn't a conventional Christmas special.)

6) There was a fantastic concert segment, too. Elvis hadn't performed live in years, preoccupied as he was making crap movies in Hollywood, so this was daring for him personally.

7) It was just Elvis and 5 musicians he knew very well. Just guitars, drums and a tambourine. This stripped-down approach was innovative for the time, and is considered the forerunner for MTV's Unplugged.

8) Elvis and the boys just jammed before a studio audience. What viewers at home saw on that December night was edited from four one-hour live shows performed in the round one night in the previous June.

9) The telecast closed with Elvis performing "If I Can Dream." There he is, about to sing it, wearing a white suit and standing before his name in big red letters. Remember, this was 1968, the year of assassination and protest. Elvis shows he's still relevant, he knows what's been going on outside Graceland, in the streets of America. If I can dream of better land where all my brothers walk hand in hand, tell me why, oh why, can't my dream come true.

10) Col. Tom Parker wasn't thrilled. Upon seeing the finished special, his first comment was, "Where's my Christmas music?"

11) In those long-ago days of just three networks, the show got a very high rating. An estimated 42% of the TVs that were on that night were tuned to Elvis.

12) Elvis was paid $250,000 for the special. Adjusted for inflation, that would be over $1,000,000 today.

13) More important, it achieved Elvis' goal -- to show that he still "had it." He could still command an audience. Dopey Hollywood movies hadn't blunted his ability to rock. From here he went on to play Vegas, tour all over the country, and make terrific records like "Suspicious Minds" and "Burning Love."

Best of all, hearing it snapped me out of my funk. And so I say to Elvis what he said to audiences time and time again: "Thank you. Thank you very much."

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Queen's Meme

Done by royal decree.

1. You are in court. You are in deep doo-doo. What did you do? Looting and rioting after the Cubs win the World Series. If Laker fans can do it after their team won their 15th championship, Cubs fans sure as shit should. We've been waiting a CENTURY! I'm going for a new car.

2. Your blog just became a best-selling book . What is the title of your book? The Thing of It Is ...

3. It is midnight. The phone rings. It is Michael Jackson calling from the Great Beyond. What would you like to ask him? Why didn't you give Sir Paul his songs back?

4. You are having your future told. The fortune teller looks in the crystal ball, screams and leaves the room in fright. What did they see? Me as Crazy Old Cat Lady, wearing a red hat and sipping a Cosmo while surrounded by dozens of felines.

5. You're blogging along minding your own blusiness (that's blog + know) when Google unexpectedly puts a Objectionable Content Warning on your blog. Your own mother is afraid to enter! What, pray tell, did you do to warrant it? How did this happen? Do you think you deserve it? Just how objectionable are you? Do tell. There's nothing wrong with my blog! Damn that vast Right Wing Conspiracy! They got to Google, too!

6. You suddenly become God Of The Universe. What would your first Commandment be? Quality of life for all.

7. And finally, what secret would you like to tell the Queen? I often listen to David Cassidy & the Partridge Family: The Definitive Collection. Hey! It's digitally remixed so I can fully appreciate the artistry of Danny Bonaduce's bass playing and the majesty or Susan Dey on piano.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How I spent my evening

I have devoted more than 2.5 hours to mastering my new phone (the LG Rumor). I have charged it and activated it and programmed my numbers into it. I am promised Internet service with this phone, too, but I just can't deal with this right now. I'm not especially tech savvy and this LG User Guide is literally more than 220 pages long!

5 mm

That's the size of the lump in my left breast. Because it's so deep in the tissue and irregularly shaped, the radiologist wants to take another look at it. My doctor says 5 mm is very small and he warned me not to "freak out," that it's most likely benign. I'm stopping at his office tomorrow to pick up my prescription for a diagnostic mammogram.

I've mentioned all of this to my best friend, who tells me not to worry -- that his wife has had to have follow-up mammograms twice and that they both turned out to be nothing. (He also says he fully expects me to worry anyway.)

I told my oldest friend all of this, too. She's going to try to get me in this week at the hospital where she works so I won't have this hanging over my head for weeks and weeks (first for the follow up appointment, then for the results).

I'm still scared. And there's NO CUBS BASEBALL tonight!

For the future chef

Beginning next week, my 16-year-old niece will be embarking on quite the summer adventure. First she is going to "culinary camp" at Kendall College here in the city. In addition to learning from the pros, she will take advantage of much that Chicago has to offer, including theater and fine dining and an architecture tour up and down the River. This is the part I'm most excited about, since my sister and brother-in-law seldom venture down here, and what's the point of living 20 minutes away from a world-class city if you don't ever visit it? For my niece, it's an opportunity to get an idea of what life may be like for her if she attends Kendall -- and a chance to spend a week with Lisa, one of her best friends.

The following week, my niece will take off for Wisconsin, to a small town outside Fon du Lac. There's a resort up there that my family has been going to every year since I was a kid. Because our two families go back so far, the owners of the resort have agreed to let my niece work there for about a month. She'll be helping the chef in the kitchen, waiting tables, filling in at the beach stand and, when needed, cleaning cabins. She's eager to do this because it will give her a glimpse of what day-to-day life will be like in her proposed career. Plus she'll earn a salary and tips that she can sock away into her college fund.

I'm excited for her, and a little sad. I was never this driven, nor did I have a career selected, when I was her age, so I think this is great. But I'm nostalgic because she's no longer the little girl who spent her summer on her bike and lived for the Harry Potter movie premieres. I miss that little girl.

But, to celebrate the future chef she's become, I got her this tote bag. I had a store credit from Zappos so it didn't really cost me anything. And if my niece is going to be living out of bags for the next month or so, one of them should be new and hers exclusively.

Yes, I'm just staring at the phone

It's almost 11:00 and my doctor still hasn't called me back to discuss IT.

Of course, it is Monday. He has two days of messages to return. I'm sure he has to confer with the radiologist, and who knows what his schedule is. I realize it's not very reasonable to expect a call within the first 2 hours of his day.

But I want one!

And damn, wouldn't you know my main client contact (the one who reviews my work and requests next steps) is taking a long weekend and won't be back until Wednesday. This means I won't be swamped with glorious work to take my mind off of IT. Because of the All-Star break, there's no Cub game, either.

I'm looking at a postcard given to me by my friend in Key West: "I WILL NOT OBSESS. I WILL NOT OBSESS. I WILL NOT OBSESS." Let's see if I can live by that.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Looooooooou! Looooooooou!

I love Lou Piniella. Not since Leo Durocher managed the Cubs when I was a kid has a manager so captivated me. (Though Leo scared me, and I think "Sweet Lou" is completely adorable.)

The Cubs are down by two runs in the 9th, the bases are loaded and there are no outs ... and yet Lou hasn't given up and won't give in. He pulled the damnedest move tonight -- bringing Sean Marshall (a left-handed relief pitcher) in to pitch to one Cardinal, then using Marshall to replace Soriano in the outfield so he can bring in another reliever but still put Marshall back on the mound as need be. Never seen anything like it.

But then, that's Lou.

His wacky maneuver got the Cubs out of the top of 9th inning without giving up any more runs. He's also re-energized the Wrigley Field faithful and screwed with the Cardinals' heads. He's spent his life in the MLB, and it shows.

The ONE Meme

Respond to these questions with ONE WORD answers:

Where is your cell phone?

Your significant other?

Your hair? Short

Your mother?

Your father? Bill

Your favorite thing?

Your dream last night?

Your favorite drink?

Your dream/goal?

What room are you in?

Your hobby?

Your fear?

Where do you want to be in 6 years ?

Where were you last night?

Something that you aren't?


Wish list item? Pennant

Last thing you did?

What are you wearing?


Wonderful Your life? Independent

Your mood?

Missing someone?



Your car?

Something you're not wearing?

Your favorite store?

Your favorite color?

When is the last time you cried?

Where do you go to over and over?

My favorite place to eat?

Favorite place I'd like to be at right now?

If you play along, let me know so I can compare our answers.