Saturday, December 31, 2011

Notes from the road

It's pre-dawn in Key West. I'm taking this quiet opportunity to update this here ol' blog.

If you're flying down here, I recommend US Airways because you'll change planes in Charlotte. It's soooo much easier than Tampa and (UGH!!!!) Miami. I don't fly well at all, and knowing that making my connection will be convenient and uncomplicated really improves the quality of my whole trip.

This island is known for it's seafood and so far I've had a grilled salmon BTL (yummy!) and a lobster BLT. But my best meal, by far, was the banana chicken at 7 Fish. Really. I loooved it. If it was a man I woulda married it.

I am very happy to be with my friends here. It's been low-key, relaxed. They have had money/health problems in 2011, too, and so it's especially nice that we can be together, all on the mend. Knowing this may be my last holiday down here, as my friend may have to leave for a new job, makes it a little poignant.

I don't even mind be awakened by a rooster every morning.

More musings next year ...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #152


I'm watching a perfectly dreadful made-for-TV movie about JBKO starring Tim Matheson as "Jack" and Joanne Whalley as "Jackie." It's historically inaccurate and dull, and yet I can't look away. There's just too much inherent glamor and drama in her story. Here are thirteen actresses who took a crack at the part:

1) Joanne Whalley as Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. (2000) "She was the 20th century's First Lady. Now see her for the woman she really was."

2) Katie Holmes in The Kennedys.  (2011) High production values and great hair wardrobe

3) Roma Downey in A Woman Named Jackie (1991) A very pretty, very delicate, Irish-born Jackie.

4) Sarah Michelle Geller in A Woman Named Jackie (1991). Yes, Buffy played her as a teenager.

5) Jaclyn Smith in Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1981). Jackie as Jackie! Unfortunately Ms. Smith seems more like she's modeling iconic outfits than giving a performance.

6) Blair Brown in Kennedy (1983). Haven't seen this in a while, but I recall her as doing a good job in a supporting role.

7) Jodie Farber in JFK (1991). Mostly re-enacted those horrible moments of the motorcade.

8) Jill Hennessey in Jackie, Ethel and Joan: The Women of Camelot. She's OK, but it's a drippy adaptation of a crappy book. Great hair and clothes, though.

9) Jeannne Triplehorn in Grey Gardens. (2009) She was only in a couple scenes, but I thought she did a good job.

10) Jacqueline Bisset in America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story. (2003) Another Jackie-as-Jackie. This time, Jackie is a formidable matriarch.

11) Stephanie Romanov in Thirteen Days. (2000) I enjoyed this movie a lot, but I really don't remember her in it at all.

12) Juanin Clay in Robert F. Kennedy and His Times  (1985). A small part in a good mini-series about Bobby

13) Francesa Annis in Onassis: The Richest Man in the World. (1988) Jackie as American Ice Queen, in contrast to the passionate Maria Callas.

It occurs to me that no one has done a good job at capturing "Jackie Kennedy." Maybe because, as Jane Murphy wrote in The Huffington Post, the one who played her best was Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Intelligent, elegant and remote ... as I watch this clip I have no doubt that she is working very hard to 1) be a good reflection on her husband and 2) create an image that was as so charismatic and impenetrable that we wouldn't see the real woman, no matter how closely we look.

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen, 
or to play yourself, click here.

I Want Wednesday

I want packing to be easier than it is. I'm so bad at it. I always bring too much of the wrong stuff, and end up buying stuff when I get where I'm going.

Here's hoping I'm wrong about old Archie

OK, so maybe he's so politically naive/racially motivated that he believes Barack Obama was afraid to face Herman Cain in November because it would stop the Prez from "playing the race card."

And so what if he actually hopes the Supreme Court repeals the ban on DADT?

And yes, he picks fights with strangers at the Century City Mall because the people who work in the kiosks "harass women." And when he's not watching FOX News he's listening to Tammy Bruce.

My oldest friend is completely twitterpated by him.  She's seeing him again today. I hope it goes well because she's a woman who really does define herself by men.

For a year I have been trying to convince her to join a church or volunteer at the nearby family counseling center because she so desperately needs friends. Instead, she signed up for an online dating service. Now that she's met Archie, she actually volunteered at that very counseling center because, well, he does volunteer work. (She met her ex-husband at karate class, even though she hates being physically active ... I sense a pattern.)

He also works at a docent at a nearby museum. A museum she's never set foot in ... but you can bet she will now.

When I went out to visit her last year, the only dinner we had that wasn't Domino's or Subway was from In and Out Burger, and that's because I insisted. Yes, she lives in Beverly Hills and never eats out. But with him she will.

She's been there a year, and yet the only tourist-y thing she's done (and she's done it twice now because it's all she knows), is the Dearly Departed Tour that I took her on when I visited her last year. Now, perhaps, she'll take advantage of all Southern California has to offer. She complains about the traffic and the pace and the parking, but she's never been to a play, a concert, a TV-show taping or even the ocean. Even though all this is in her own, glamorous backyard. Maybe she will finally do that with Archie.

It worries me that his temper is so close to the surface. That he concentrates so much of his energy on hating on "them" (OWS, "the coddled/entitled generation", Barack Obama, gays in the military, and -- my favorite -- haters) because my oldest friend has one of the most coddled/entitled kids ever (think Mildred Pierce if Veda was a boy) and because she hates arguments and raised voices.

But look at Archie and Edith. Weren't they happy together? Maybe life will imitate art. As different as we are, I truly do love her and hope Archie brings her some contentment and companionship.

Loved this!

I'm a Harmonizer. It was fun and, I think, fairly accurate. While I answered all the aspirational/goal questions with exercise/fitness, I was happy to see how many decluttering responses there were. Makes me feel less freakish. (And less like a hoarder!)

Thanks to Snarkela for turning me on to it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I feel silly

I have been exercising in front of the TV, during commercials. I feel quite silly doing this. But I am a big fat moo-cow and so it must be done.

I did not go through all I went through, healthwise, in order to throw it all away on sloth and obesity. I am going to get fit because healthy makes sense. My best friend is a diabetic, both my oldest friend and my friend John have heart problems. I am not going to join them.

So in addition to my half-hearted dedicated to going to the gym -- which I must fortify -- and eating better (and less), I am going to work on my metabolism by moving, moving, moving, whenever possible.

Image: Ambro /

Clean, clean, clean

Yesterday I scrubbed my tub, toilet and bathroom floor. Today my kitchen counters, sink and floor got the treatment. Do I hear an Atta, Gal?

I'm glad I'm doing this because I always hate coming home from a stay at a hotel and feeling like the woman that runs this establishment is a slob. Perhaps I have hit upon a way to solve this problem.

A fragrant way to start the day

For a couple years running, The Body Shop's fragrance of the holiday season was vanilla spice. It was a warm, delicious scent. I stocked up on it and hoarded some in the back of my linen closet ... and forgot about it until this morning.

I started the day by soaking in my old friend. Ah ... Lovely!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Well, that was weird

My older sister was home for Christmas for the first time in, like, 30 years. My mom was nervous as a school girl preparing for a date. (I wasn't allowed to have my purse with me in the living room because it's so big it would distract from the holiday decorations -- I'm not kidding.) My favorite niece and nephew were weird, too. My niece, because she's in love and would have preferred to be with her fella than with us. My nephew is at a strange age -- he no longer believes in Santa, he's not so much into toys, but he still wants the gifts. With the adrenaline pumping through his veins, he's a different kid from the one whose company I usually enjoy so. My kid sister was all stressed out because ... I don't know why, exactly.

My older sister, her daughter and husband went to church with me, and that was a distraction, too. I'm not Lutheran anymore -- I worship in a Unitarian Universalist Church because it's more inclusive. So when she said she wanted to join me instead of going to local church we went to as children because, "Mom tells me they have a fat, gay pastor now," I bristled. I warned her that one of our ministers is a lesbian and mine is a gay-friendly congregation. I didn't tell her how I felt about homophobia on Christmas Eve because I was trying to make nice. But it did disturb me. As does my mother's apparent, incipient bigotry. It's ugly and not appropriate any time, but especially not on the Lord's birthday. I let it distract me from the beauty of the Christmas Eve service, of singing "Silent Night" by candlelight. After the service, I showed them my beautiful little tree. They seemed unimpressed.

We did laugh a lot, though. We played Apples to Apples and posed for silly photos. I will use them to make Mother's Day presents for my mom.

Oh, and my oldest friend ... I have been with her when she checked/responded to text messages in front of me, took cell phone calls in front of me. I texted her twice yesterday and still have received no response. That bugs and hurts me. I'm worth interrupting, but not interrupting for? It would have been nice to have heard from her yesterday -- from someone I have a long history with, who says she loves me, but that wasn't in the cards. She was too busy, I guess. I know I should be glad that this Christmas with her beloved cousin Sharon will be all she wants. But I'm still pissed/hurt.

Perhaps that's part of why I feel so unsettled today. There was so much new and unusual going on yesterday, so much tension, that I didn't feel any of the love I sent out coming back to me. The best part of the night was a present from my mom -- on behalf of my uncle. He had a big, thick book of video reviews (ca 1999) that he annotated in his own hand. We'd spoken about many of these movies often, especially silly, campy ones like The Terror of Tiny Town.

I miss him. He would have understood why yesterday felt so weird.

And I'm looking forward to the Keys and my friends down there (gay though they may be). I feel a terrific longing to be understood right now.

My best friend often says that we all expect too much from Christmas, that we put unreasonable expectations on the day. I miss him, too.

Merry Christmas

And a big thank you to "my girls," the ones who sent so much support my way this year. If I'm able to keep the candle of Christmas burning in my heart all year around, it's in part because you ladies had my back when I needed it most:
Book Mama
Silver Neurotic

Snarkela, I'm sorry. I didn't forget you. I deleted you. (That doesn't sound any better, does it.) I could not get the spacing between the prose and the links right, and in my constant fiddling with it, you disappeared. I am so sorry.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The wrapping is done

And my cat Joey approves!

It took me a little over two hours to wrap all these gifts. I did it in front of the tree while watching The Gathering, a great old Christmas movie. It was so much fun to imagine the faces tomorrow when the paper comes off.

I tossed in the long black scarf I got from my best friend because I wanted to remember it as Christmas 2011. You can't tell, but it's all ruffly.

I'm so glad I put the tree up.


My friend John and I went to see La Cage aux Folles Wednesday night. It wasn't a great production -- the actor who played the bitchy maid/butler chewed the scenery so radically it threw the balance off -- but it was fun. Mostly because we got to see George Hamilton as Georges.

He can't really sing. He can't really dance. He's too old for the role. And yet, it was fun. Just to see him. He's completely charming.

For my friend John and I grew up on him. He was on all the game shows and talk shows when we were kids. And I remember being a little girl, reading about his White House romance with Lynda Bird Johnson.

The only downside of the evening was John's health. He's still not well. I'm in shitty shape and, while a little winded when we got to our seats in the loge, I was fine. As were all the people around us. He was exhausted. On the way down, which you'd think would be so much easier, his foot bothered him again. It was sobering. He acknowledged the problem, saying, "This is something I need to mention to my doctor." Indeed! After all, George Hamilton is a good 15 years older than we are, and he was singing and dancing!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Meme

Liberated from Kwizgiver (again ... of course)

1.The Christmas song I can listen to even in June is...

2.Hot Chocolate, Egg Nog or Mulled wine? hot chocolate

3.When do you put your decorations up? Thanksgiving weekend

4 What are you having for Christmas dinner? I don't know. My two sisters are (literally and figuratively) cooking something up

5.What is your favorite Christmas tradition? The Candlelight Service at church. It begins at 11:00 on Christmas Eve and ends at midnight,with all of us holding candles and singing,"Silent Night."

6. Have you ever gone Carol singing? Nope

7. When did you learn the truth about Santa? My parents sat my older sister and I down on the floor of my bedroom one Christmas Eve, read us the "Yes, Virginia" poem and told us. It's nice to think of my folks doing some parenting together. My older sister cried and cried but I kinda knew already.

8. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? In a way that's officially CAT-APPROVED.

9. What's the best thing about Christmas? Watching people unwrap my gifts!

10. All I want for Christmas is... Serenity for those I love best

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #151


These are among the top picks for kids, according to the gift gurus at I like thinking of all the happy faces when it's discovered Santa left these under trees all around the country ...

1) Disney Tigger  (Eco Plush). The wonderful thing about Tiggers is Tiggers are wonderful things -- and this one is made with recycled fibers and eco-friendly dyes.

2) Fisher Price Topzy Tumblers. It's bright and sturdy and it makes a bit of noise and, oh, hell, I don't know how to describe this. If you have a baby in your life and want to learn more about it, click on the link.

3) Go, Car, Go! A little Euro-styled coupe (in red, green or blue) with a curved roof that doubles as a handle. So kids can grab it, push, it roll it, etc. Even better, it has googly eyes that make it look really friendly.

4) Fisher-Price Rockstar Mickey Mouse. How cute is this! Mickey rocks out with a six-string guitar. His head bobs and he does the splits.

5) Paint a Wooden People Family. Plain wooden dolls come with paint and colored pencils and felt and glue so kids can make their own unique doll family.

6) My Keepon Interactive Robot. This little yellow bird dances to music and responds to touch. (I want one.)

7) LEGO Ninjago Fire Temple. "Battle for control of the four Spinjitzu weapons has begun. Sensei Wu, Kai, Zane and Nya need help to keep Lord Garmadon and his evil skeleton army from taking the ultimate Spinjitzu weapon - the Dragon Sword of Fire." I have no idea what any of that means. But then, I'm not a 10-year-old boy.

8) Barbie "I Can Be an Architect." I'm old school. I like Barbie at Christmas. And this Barbie comes with a hard hat and a blueprint tube and a little model house.

9) Spynet Stealth Video Glasses. High-tech glasses with a video camera on the bridge of the nose. So you can record people without their knowing it. (Tee hee.)

10) Inflatable Flying Shark. With a remote control! So you can make your shark do your bidding from up to 40 feet away!

11) Orbeez Perfume Magic. A kit to help you make your own perfume.

12) NERF Vortex Nitron. A kind of a friendly assault weapon.

13) Buckycubes. 125 little cubes made of really powerful magnets so you can build any cool design you want.

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen, 
or to play yourself, click here.

I Want Wednesday

I want a little more Christmas spirit! To that end, I bought another book for the shelter for abused/homeless children. Today's is Awkward Aardvark. Look at that big, round aardvark butt. How can it not bring a smile to your face? According to Amazon: "Aardvark's snoring keeps the other animals awake night after night. Something has got to be done! Mongoose calls on the others for help, but it is not until the termites get involved that the problem is solved. This is the story of how Awkward Aardvark came to sleep during the day and eat termites at night."

Everything still feels a little low energy, though. No one around me feels into it yet. I passed out my gifties to my coworkers today and got hugs and kisses, but eh. Maybe tomorrow everyone will be more in the swing of things!

Boone, IA! Who knew?

I got my oldest friend's daughter a gift subscription to Glamour, and they screwed it up. Oh, well. Shit happens. So I'm sending them a copy of my canceled check along with a strongly worded request that they get their glamorous act together. Where did I send this letter?

Boone, IA! Who knew that was the Glamour capital of the nation?

Well, why shouldn't it be? After all, it is the county seat of DesMoines Township. According to the 2010 census, Boone boasted 12,660 people. Though none is Cheryl Tiegs. While a fresh-faced Glamour covergirl more than 40 years ago, there was no residency requirement.

The BEST way to start the day

Normally, waking up like this would leave me grumpy. After all, I crashed on the sofa (which always annoys me) and was awakened by how freaking HOT it is in here.*

But  instead I'm way happy. Why? Because my cat Charlotte gave me a huge yawn, opening her mouth as wide as the old MGM lion. This allowed me an unobstructed view of her tongue and THE LUMP IS COMPLETELY GONE! The vet was right! My little girl is fine!

I'm so relieved.

*It's December and I have the window open and the fan going. One of the joys of living on the top floor in winter, as heat rises.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

North Korea confuses me

I believe the sorrow I see following Jong-il's passing is sincere. I just don't get it.

Were these people so oppressed that they don't even know it? Maybe they don't realize that they don't have things the rest of the world takes for granted, like food and electricity.

While Jong-il concentrated so on military and nuclear development, his people suffered because of the rest of the world's sanctions. Food and materials never made it to the North Korean people, so new construction of houses, roads, power grids ... ANYTHING ... has slowed mightily, down to virtually nothing in some areas.

Is it possible I know more about North Korea's role in the world than North Koreans do?

Thank God for our free press.


I lost my nice umbrella, and this leaves me sad and blue ... and on the horns of a dilemma. My friend Barb got me a lovely scarf from Macy's that I really have no use for. She was also nice enough to include the gift receipt. So I should be able to just return it, put the store credit to an umbrella, and go into Christmas with the confidence that I'll be protected from the elements.

EXCEPT do you have any idea what Macy's is gonna be like tomorrow? Do I feel like braving it?

I miss my nice umbrella, and hope whoever picked it up where I left it (most likely either the floor of the movie theater or a seat on the el) is getting a lot of use out of it. Really, it was almost impervious to wind. A truly gallant umbrella!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yeah, I know

Of the three versions of Little Women (1933, 1949 and 1994), this one is the weakest. I agree with the experts that the problem is June Alyson as Jo. I understand that she doesn't have Katharine Hepburn's incomparable spirit in the 1933 version, or Winona Ryder's soulfulness in the 1994 version.

And yet this one is my favorite. Probably because it's the first one I saw. Maybe because it's shot in bright color on great MGM sound stages, giving it a comfortable, familiar look. Or maybe it's because Elizabeth Taylor in a blonde wig is so much fun.

But this is my favorite. And it's Christmastime and I love it.

Christmas Meme #6

As found at Ms. Kwizgiver's.

Christmas At My House…(one or the other)

1. Tree is fake/real? fake

2. Tree is under/above 4'? Mine is about 4'. The one at my mom's house is taller.

3. Open presents Christmas Eve/Day? Eve

4. House/entire yard is decorated? I don't have a yard. My mom has a little holiday flag on her lawn.

5. Amount of presents under the tree? I feel guilty about this. I have lots of presents under the tree. And scraps of paper and tape and gift bags and tags ... all waiting for me to be buckle down and get to work.

6. Snowman is a male/female? male

7. Go for Santa/Jesus? There's plenty of room for both in my heart.

8. Homemade/delivered/takeout Christmas dinner? Homemade on Christmas Eve this year. My two sisters are handling it. On Christmas Day I'm on my own.

9. Bedtime is before/after midnight? After. The candlelight service begins at 11:00 and ends at midnight when we sing "Silent Night."

10. Wake-up is before/after 7am? whenever

11. Go/don’t go to church on Christmas? Christmas falls on Sunday, so I may go. But I definitely go on Christmas Eve. See #9. It's very important to me.

12. Do shopping before/after Thanksgiving? I shop all year around

13. Low-key/over the top decorations (inside and out)? Low key. I did a little decorating at the office. At home there's my adorable little tree and I got this truly terrific wreath for my front door at Trader Joe's. Just $5! Makes me happy every time I see it.

Still worried

So my best friend had her date with Archie Bunker. She thinks it went really well. He was funny and told her she has pretty hair and he regaled her with tales of the sports legends (Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell) that he interviewed in his heyday. And he spends his Mondays refurbishing wheel chairs for those in need. All that's good, right?

So why do I want him to dump her ... pronto ... before she gets too attached?

Because I hate his Facebook postings.

I always assume that one's FB is an idealized version of life. It puts your best foot forward. After all, it has none of the anonymity I enjoy with this here blog.

Yesterday, Archie took off after the Westfield Century City shopping center, asking them, "Why do you let over aggressive 'salespeople' harass women at your center?"

Followed by, "When those annoying people at kiosks try to get u to buy something, go to mall management and complain these are trained scammers." To which his son (30, or so, holding two little kids in his lap) replied, "Or walk by them and ignore them and don't waste your limited time on Earth worrying about these things!!!!!! Love you Dad!!!!"

Now this leads me to believe that old Archie has been picking fights with complete strangers for all of his son's life. 

Then Archie posted a photo of the Grinch and said "Nuff said."

My friend's son can be very abusive with her. Yelling at her, destroying things. He is 21 and simply cannot control his rage. Nor will he leave her tiny apartment.

This man, who is perpetually mad -- at Obama, and OWS, and coddled athletes, and (my favorite) angry people -- is certain to upset her when she needs serenity.

I know, I know. All I can do is warn her and worry. It's her life. She has to learn these lessons on her own, no matter how much it hurts to watch.

Baracking the Christmas Tree

Behold my two new ornaments. That handsome Santa is from my best friend, and the shiny green ball is from Obama for America 2012.*

I love my tree. I only spend a few minutes with it each day (it's locked in the den, away from Reynaldo) but that's where I intend to do my orgy of wrapping and I'll gaze upon it a lot next Sunday. I'm really glad I put it up.

*If you're looking for campaign pins, etc., this is a good resource.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love with a townie!

My niece and a man she met in town have declared themselves boyfriend/girlfriend on Facebook! She was just here on Friday night, stopping by to visit me, but didn't mention him at all. She did seem happy -- gloriously so -- but I thought that was because she loved her independence and her class work (she got A's). Now I know it's because she's in love, too.

His name is Jason and he works in town for a museum dedicated to railroad history. I don't know if he's actually a student at the college. He's quite into photography.

I'm so happy for her, even if I'm not supposed to know any of this.

She stays with me

I took the bus on Saturday and saw the saddest woman. Or maybe she wasn't sad. But she was certainly disturbed.

She was over 40 with dreadlocks. She was wearing a black, puffy winter coat and having a terrible time with a stroller. A doll stroller filled with three American Girl bitty dolls. Two were dressed like twin girls. The third? Hard to tell. But all three were in warm winter garb. And she clearly believed these were her children. She lovingly loosened their jackets and scarves so they would be comfortable on the warm bus, and then bundled them back up before exiting. She was so careful not to jostle them too much as she maneuvered the stroller on or off the bus.

What's going on in that mind of hers? Did she lose a baby herself once and is unable to move on? Was she unable to bear a child of her own? Is that how she became unhinged?

There was no shame in her behavior. Nor was she drawing attention to herself. She was just trying to care for three babies as she traveled up Harlem Avenue on a winter's day.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Community Meme

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. As a blogger, what do you draw inspirations from for your posts? My day to day life

2. If you could swap blogs with another blogger for a post, who would you switch with and why? Do I have to do this? I don't want to.

3. If your blog had a theme song, what would it be? Why? "Go, Cubs, Go." Because this is year and the Cubs are real. (It's still December, there's snow on the ground, I can believe the 2012 will be whatever I want it to be!)

4. What is your writing process for a post? I ask myself, "What's going on with me today?" I wish there was more to it than that, but there isn't.

5. Your blog requires a cute, new, mascot - what would it be?

6. Do you feel you express your "true self" on your blog? Yes.

7. What is your biggest online pet-peeve? People who say shit just to comment. For example, I once did a 200+ word post about how much Little Women has always meant to me, and how I long for my own Professor Bhaer. The first commenter wrote, "I'm probably the only person who read it as a little girl and didn't relate to anyone and never bothered to finish the book."Now why bother to leave such a comment? A more recent example: I posted a list of the most iconic movie characters of all time and someone commented that these "are all before my time." First of all, how can you be alive and not know Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz? And secondly, again, why bother to leave such a comment? Are people so eager to generate traffic to their own blogs that they believe that leaving any link will bring readers their way? I don't get it. There. Thank you for listening.

8. If you could live in a fictional universe, where would you live? Why? Galtopia. Because it is a village of my own creation, and I'm a benevolent despot.

9. You're having a bad day, you're upset, you're angry, or you're sad - what is your go-to comfort? My best friend. When he thinks I'm not acting in my own best interest, he often talks sense to me in his "dad voice."

10. What is your favorite inspirational quote? OK, prepare to be inspired: East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb will -- Groucho Marx

11. If they were to make a movie based on your life, who would play you, your leading lady/man, your best friend, and your rival? They already made the movie. Before I lived it, as a matter of fact. As you can see, Lois Chiles played my rival. Though neither of us gets him in the final reel. (For real. I recently found that my real Hubbell is divorced.)

12. Do you think the world is going to end in 2012? No, you silly!

13. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be? I'd eliminate the extra chins.

14. What is your favorite season and why? Autumn. Because it's nice to say goodbye to all that withering heat and hello to my sweaters.

15. You've been bitten by a vampire. Would you fight it with all your undead being or would you embrace it for all it is worth? I think I'd embrace it.

16. Have you personally met any of your blogger friends? I met Book Mama, her mother Snowbird, and two of her three charming blond kids. I was honored that they took time out of her trip to Chicago, just to meet me!

17. What does your favorite pair of underwear look like? I love my white Hanes granny pants and no one can talk me out of them! Wait ... that came out wrong. I bet it would be very easy for the right guy to talk me out of them. I meant that I see no reason to change the style.

18. Have you ever drank something right from the container in the refrigerator knowing other people will have to drink out of the same container later? NO! EWWW!

19. What is your favorite word and explain why? "Gubernatorial." Because it's fun to say. Go ahead. You know you want to.

20. 2011 is soon coming to a close, is there anything you'd like to do different on your blog in the year 2012? Nope.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: I Will Survive

1. What in the 2011 has proved to you that you are a survivor? I got through the run up to surgery. In retrospect, that was worse than the actual procedure. Finding out what was going on with me, meeting an oncologist, getting the xray/blood tests, working with the insurance company, getting a date scheduled ... It was maddening and made the whole ordeal more stressful.

2. Have you ever stayed online for a very long time waiting for someone? I don't understand the question. I'm logged on almost all day long and I check my email regularly, does that answer this?

3. Are REALLY ready for the holidays? Pert near. 
4. Did you have an imaginary friend as a kid? I was convinced my plush Lassie dog was real

5. What niche network do you watch the most? ME-TV 
6. Have you ever seen the ocean? Yes. I've spent more time with the Atlantic.

7. Have you ever been hospitalized? Twice. Once in 2003, and again on September 9 of this year.

8. What do you think of the US Republican candidates for president? As a Blue State Girl, I think they're great because they strengthen the President's chances of re-election. As a concerned American, I'm a little disappointed because I wish we could have a serious debate about the issues and very few of these candidates seem to have any real gravitas.

9. Could you imagine life without a computer? Yes. It scares me and I don't like it!

Friday, December 16, 2011

To borrow from Joe Jackson, "She's really going out with him."

My oldest friend is going on her first date, just coffee, with Archie Bunker this afternoon. In addition to OWS, he hates coddled athletes, Obama and this young, entitled generation. Oh, and rude people and those who "don't love." And, I imagine, kids who step on his lawn.

He's something of a local broadcast celebrity, even though he's on disability leave, and seems to exude self-confidence (along with grumpiness). She's very attracted to that.

I just hope that it either goes very well, that he truly is the "soul mate" she's looking for, or that he dumps her right away. I don't want her to have to deal with long, protracted drama and heartache. That's not what she needs this holiday season!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

To borrow from Pinocchio, "I feel like a real girl"

I was fingerprinted today as part of my refinancing with JP Morgan Chase. How legit and official is that! I can't recall ever having been fingerprinted before. Now I can be a plot twist on NCIS, with Abby telling Gibbs that the print I left behind is a three-point match with the one in my file.

Then Gibbs will interrogate me. His gut will tell him that I'm innocent, that I'm telling him the truth. Of course we will spar verbally and he will notice the slight red cast to my hair. And I will be come the next ex-Mrs. Gibbs. Sigh.

All this and a lower monthly mortgage payment, too!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #150


1) An official Late Night with David Letterman mug for my mom. She loves her Dave.

2) Crocheted ear muffs/headphones for my niece, so she can enjoy her tunes in comfort as she walks across her windy campus

3) A pewter pink ribbon key ring from Shirley Pewter in Williamsburg for a friend who is celebrating a year of being cancer free this month!

4) Peacock flipflops for my oldest friend, who so prefers California's warm winters to Chicago's white Christmases

5)  Guatemalan "worry dolls" for one of my coworkers, Tom, because he in 2012 I want him to not let the stress get to him so much

6) A psychic reading from Practically Intuitive for my friend Mindy

7) The 2012 Nuns Having Fun calendar to amuse a friend who is the proud product of 12 years of Catholic school

8) A Warriors illustrated novel for my nephew, who is a great fan of the series

9) A subscription to Glamour for my oldest friend's daughter, who aspires to a career in cosmetology

10) Lavender-scented fabric mist for my cousin, who is having trouble sleeping these days

11) Hand-crafted caterpillar charms to bring my coworkers luck

12) A movie theater gift card for the guy who does my hair, because he's always asking me what I've just seen

13) Homemade cookies for my best friend

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen, 
or to play yourself, click here.

I Want Wednesday

I want to always feel this way. I am happy today. No particular reason, beyond Christmas and friends.

Christmas Cookies -- Chapter 3

Are they not gorgeous? Yes, they are. My best friend ate only one,* but he declared it, "very good" and said he's sure I could master more complicated recipes, too. (I admit I could probably never find an easier one.)

I am feeling very proud. I bet Pippa Middleton wishes her backside was as perfect as the back of my peanut butter and jelly cookie's!

*He is diabetic and we had the rich desserts included in our prix fixe dinner menu.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And it was 58% off!

According to the website Delightful Children's Books:

Vera’s Baby Sister by Vera Rosenberry. A wonderful story about a girl, Vera, whose house is filled with noise when her baby sister arrives. Vera’s grandpa helps Vera plant a bean tent, which serves as a quiet space where Vera can go to be alone. Vera’s Baby Sister realistically describes the feelings that can accompany the arrival of a new sibling and has a sweet ending. 

It was on sale for just $2.98. I discovered it after purchasing a knit Bulls cap for my nephew. NBA licensing being what it is, that red cap was $17.98. I'm somehow just as satisfied with the book I dropped in the collection bin for Chicago's abused children in our building lobby. (The only other thing in the box was three packages of Ramen noodles. This is one of the world's tallest buildings, more than 80 stories tall. I hope that the bin had recently been emptied and this isn't all we could muster for the less fortunate today.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Meme

01. Non-Jesus-related song? River (I wish I had a river that I could sail away on ...)

02. Jesus-related song? Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

03. Santa-related song? Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

04. Fictional character? Scrooge

05. Animated movie? Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

06. Non-animated movie?

07. Personal memory? Finding Blaze under the tree on Christmas morning the year I was four. I had been introduced to Blaze through the TV commercials and knew we were destined to be together. I remember telling Santa he was available at Sears, Roebuck and Co., in case the elves needed help.

08. Story/Fairy Tale? A Christmas Carol

He's a good egg

My friend from the Keys was incommunicado Saturday, and I admit I was pissed. I wanted to get his birthday/Christmas gifts in the mail and all I had for him is his PO Box, no street address. Neither UPS nor Fed Ex delivers to PO Boxes!

I wanted the good folks at the UPS Store to pack his gift because included with it was one from my uncle. He's been gone just over a year now, but I only recently got access to his personal belongings. All I took of his was one record album. He mentioned to me once, years ago, that after his death, he wanted my friends in Keys -- whom he had met and liked -- to get his Barbra Streisand albums on vinyl. My uncle believed that they would be collector's items (they aren't; he didn't take good enough care of them, but never mind that) and he wanted my Babs-loving friends to have them. All that was left after family and friends picked through his stuff was the original Streisand Christmas LP. It's nearly 50 years old, and I couldn't have it broken en route. I mean, it made it through DECADES and then I get hold of it and it breaks? No. Not acceptable.

So I left messages all day long -- calling and texting his cell. "What's your address?" I was getting angry. After all, many a time while dining with me I've seen him check his phone. Now, all of a sudden, when I need him, he develops manners? And really, how hard a question was I asking? It's not like he'd have to look it up. I JUST NEEDED HIS STREET ADDRESS!!!

Well, he called me at 7:00 Sunday morning to apologize. (He forgets that Chicago is behind Key West, not ahead.) He was at the funeral of the mother of one of his former students. She committed suicide, and her son was the one who found her hanging in the bathroom. My friend and his lover spent the day with the boy -- now at nursing school in Miami -- and offered support. The kid is so close to his degree, they wanted to let him know he's not alone and that they will do whatever they can to help him stay with it and graduate.

The community college unceremoniously canned my friend earlier this year. Budget cuts. I understand the economic realities of the Recession but still, a teacher like my friend is too valuable to lose. He had this boy in his Spanish class years ago, but as far as he's concerned, the kid is still his student and still entitled to his full support.

I know my uncle's beloved Christmas album will soon be just where it belongs.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I ran away to the darkness

I love going to the movies. Sitting there in the dark with movie food (today it was popcorn) is good for my soul. Because my weekend was full of holiday/weekend things -- laundry, grocery shopping, wrapping gifts and dropping them off at The UPS Store, and completing my great cookie experiment (see below) -- I felt I deserved a little motion picture respite. So I dashed off to the local theater (I can, literally, make it from my front door to box office in less than 10 minutes) and saw The Descendants with George Clooney.

The coming attractions make this appear to be a comedy, but it's not. George is an Every Man, a graying, overworked, under-involved husband/father who is suddenly confronted with a tragedy. He has to learn about how who he is and how he got where he is in the hardest possible way. This isn't the high-wattage star turn Clooney like his role in The Ides of March. He doesn't use charm to draw us in. His performance here is similar to the one in Michael Clayton in that he disappears into the role. And that his credibility is critical to our staying with this film. In that quiet way, he's wonderful.

So is Amara Miller, the actress who plays his younger daughter, Scottie. There's a spontaneity to her performance that captivated me.

Christmas Cookies -- Chapter 2

Baked three more batches from The World's Easiest Cookie Recipe. Then I chose the 10 finest specimens, surrounded them by wax paper, cushioned them with Viva paper towels, and shut the lid on this sturdy penguin holiday gift box. They now sit in the refrigerator, waiting to be bestowed upon my best friend this Tuesday.

I just know he will be thrilled by this homemade gift.

He's also getting this pail of personalized Christmas Fortune Cookies from I wrote the fortunes myself:

Oooh Child, things are gonna get easier. Oooh Child, things will get brighter.

Your daughters will bring you much love and joy in 2012

You will appear on Brooke Shields’ wish list in 2012

The Gal cherishes your friendship

You are worth so much more than this job

You were born to work for Food Network 

I am so looking forward to our celebration/gift exchange. Isn't Christmas great?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Blue Memory Meme, Part Two

26) Are you happy with the person you've become? Yes

27) What's a sound you hate; sound you love? HATE: The sound of cardboard scraping against cardboard (think packing boxes); LOVE: A cat's purr

28) What's your biggest "what if"? If I hadn't wasted too much time on the wrong man. But it's not productive so I try not to go there.

29) Do you believe in ghosts? Nope.

30) How about aliens? Nope.

31) What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far? To become a writer.

32) What's the worst place you have ever been to? Montello, Wisconsin

33) Can insanity bring on more creativity? Yes

34) Most attractive actor of your opposite gender? Mark Harmon, aka Gibbs, aka My TV Boyfriend

35) To you, what is the meaning of life? To help those less fortunate

36) Define “Art”. A diminutive form of the name "Arthur."

37) Do you believe in luck? Yes

38) In your opinion, what makes a great relationship? Acceptance

39) What's a song that always makes you happy when you hear it? "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire

40) Where were you yesterday? Here and there, busy preparing for Christmas

41) What's the worst injury you've ever had? If it counts as an injury, I'll go with that incision after having a few internal organs removed last September

42) Do you have any obsessions right now? Theo Epstein and the Cubs

43) What's up? Baking cookies, watching the NCIS marathon, preparing for Christmas

44) Ever had a rumor spread about you? God, yes. A couple were actually true.

45) Do you believe in real magic? Yes.

46) Do you ever hold grudges against people who have done you wrong? If grudge-holding was an Olympic event, I'd bring back the Gold.

47) What's your favorite (non-pet) animal? The okapi

48) What is your secret weapon to get people to like you? Apparent candor

49) Where is your best friend? This evening he is watching his youngest daughter perform in The Nutcracker Suite.

50) What do you think is Satan's last name? Bartman

Saturday 9

1. Who or what bores you enough to mentally drift away? I can easily send my mind away to the happy place during staff meetings.

2. How many members of your family not living with you do you see on during the holidays? My (crazy) older sister and her family will be here with us for the first time in more than 25 years. I find this daunting, but I'm determined to roll with it.

3. When spending time with family, how long after you arrive do you begin to feel "antsy" about being there too long? Depends. Thanksgiving wasn't bad at all, but that "gotta move/gotta get out" feeling kicked in after about two hours. Yet I can spend entire afternoons with my mom and nephew. We'll see. I want Christmas 2011 to be a good one.

4. Does your family more generally get along at a holiday gathering or are there generally arguments? Yes. (Depends on the year.)

5. Are you ever embarrassed by your family around friends? No.

6. Of the celebrities that died in 2011, who will you miss the most?

7. When you watch a movie in a movie theater, do you like the theater filled to capacity, halfway full, or nearly empty? Does your answer change depending on the type of movie you're seeing or do you feel the same way regardless of the movie or genre? I don't care. Sorry.

8. What’s one really cool/useful/nice thing you purchased for yourself this year? I splurged a little and stayed in one of the historic houses on the grounds in Colonial Williamsburg. It was more expensive than the perfectly lovely lodge, but it was sooooo cool. (I'm doing it again this spring, too.)

9. Are you in the holiday spirit yet? Yes!

Friday, December 09, 2011

This one is hard for me

This week former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to a staggering 14 years for ... well ... he didn't actually accomplish any of his nefarious schemes. But he had them and was trying witlessly to put them in play, and he certainly shouldn't be rewarded for his ineptitude.

But should he spend 14 years in prison? I don't know. I'm not wise enough. I just know it leaves me staggeringly sad.

On the one hand --

• I voted for this turd ... TWICE! The first time, I actually believed in him, so my sense of betrayal is as personal as it is huge. (The second time, the Republican party in Illinois ran a candidate who was simply ridiculous and I felt I had no choice.)
• His predecessors got stiff sentences for corruption, too, and that didn't deter him, so the similar five or six year sentence I wish he'd gotten might not have sent a message to other politicians (Jesse, Jr., are you listening?). I know that the judge was trying to use this sentence as a much-needed remedy to the rampant corruption.

On the other hand, he got twice the sentence that his predecessor, Governor George Ryan, and Ryan's misdeeds were much greater. Really, check out the aftermath of his chicanery and the high prices The Willis Family paid. Perhaps it's only because Blago was such a bad crook, but he never did anything this bad.

Oh well, it's over. The toughest part of this, for me, is that when you visit the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum you see the names of at least three felons -- George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich and William Cellini -- carved into the marble. "Honest Abe" deserves better from his home state, he really does.

I hope this is it for a while. I don't want Jesse, Jr., to be guilty. But if he is, I hope he takes a plea deal and saves us all even more sordid drama.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011



Thanks to Wikipedia for this list (and the pretty tree photo, too).

1  "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) – Mel Tormé, Robert Wells 


7  "Jingle Bell Rock" – Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe 

9  "Sleigh Ride" – Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish 

11  "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" – Edward Pola, George Wyle 

12  "I'll Be Home for Christmas" – Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram

I'm not surprised to see #12 on the list. I think I have heard "I'll Be Home for Christmas" performed by everyone from Karen Carpenter to Lou Rawls this year. I'm starting to wonder where the singer is that he or she won't be home for Christmas. Prison? The military? Working the holiday shift at a hospital? The backstory on that one changes for me depending on who is doing the singing.
For more about the Thursday 13,
or to play along yourself, click here.


Had an impressive session with my shrink last night. I told her that I'm really pretty happy these days, and that makes me feel bad because my oldest friend is suffering and just keeps on suffering, no matter what I do.

The doc started by pointing out the obvious -- that there isn't a finite amount of happy in the world, and that when I'm feeling good it's not like I'm preventing her from being happy. I know that. That doesn't mean I don't feel that way, but I know it's not true.

And then there's the fact that it isn't up to me to make my oldest friend happy or whole. It's unrealistic. It's undoable. It's dopey. I know that, too. I just need to be reminded.

Now here's the revelation: my need to fix her life may actually be harming and not be helping. This part I didn't get until my shrink pointed it out to me.

When I tell my best friend to join a congregation … to eat healthier … to stop smoking … to reach out to her friends and family more authentically … to enforce boundaries with her kids … etc., she's probably not hearing the love and support I intend. Heard through the filter of her overwhelming vulnerability, she may just hear, "Why didn't I think of that? I suck."

Instead, when she's blue, I should just say, "I'm sorry. How can I help?" And then, instead of solving, I should shut up and just listen.

Wow. Just wow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

My favorite traditional carol

Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinner reconciled.

I love "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!" It makes me happy whenever I hear it. It encapsulates the religious side of the holiday for me: Peace, mercy and unconditional love.

It also reminds me of George Carlin's joke that it's really about listening for the LA Herald's softball team. And that always makes me smile, too.

A great honor for a Cub great

I only wish Ronnie was alive to see it!

I adored Ron Santo. I grew up on him! He wore the #10 in Cubbie Blue for 14 seasons, encompassing the seasons from when I was in pre-school and continuing through my junior year in high school. On the North Side he had a career batting average of .279 and more than 335 home runs. These stats are not earth shaking today, but remember, this was in the 1960s and early 1970s -- NO STEROIDS. He also played in four consecutive All-Star games, including his rookie season, and won five consecutive Gold Glove Awards at third base.

He did all of the above while battling diabetes. Think about that.

In retirement, he became the voice of the Cubs on the radio and was a complete delight. I loved having Ronnie in my head every summer as I wore my headphones and listened to him add passion and knowing observations to each game. He was also a tireless and influential fundraiser for JDF.

He wanted this honor badly. It came a year too late. As always, baseball holds life lessons for me. I must thank the people I appreciate NOW, when I can.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Only as sick as our secrets

When I was at my mom's yesterday, I happened to see the Christmas card she received from my oldest friend. It was a lovely, very conventional affair with a touch of glitter on the front, and the inside was a form letter detailing how well everything is going for her in Beverly Hills.

Huh? What? Her life is a mess and has been since she arrived on the West Coast! She even goes on and on about how good it is to be so close to her cousin, Sharon. Yes, the same cousin who won't lift a freaking finger to help my oldest friend or her two troubled children.

I don't know who all is on my friend's card list, but my dear old mother has known her since she was 5 and could certainly handle, and lovingly welcome, the truth. I'm sure that there are others who received this sugar-coated nonsense who, like my mother, would rather hear an unpleasant truth and try to help than be lulled by her lies.

No, wait. "Lies" is unfair. Everything my oldest friend wrote was completely accurate, and just as untrue.

Denying her situation will not help her improve it. Seeing that Christmas card frustrated and saddened me enormously.