Wednesday, March 14, 2012



I am quite sure I stole this from some other blogger. I apologize for not giving him or her attribution but I no longer remember where it came from.

1. Outside my window… is my cat Reynaldo's favorite tree. The squirrels and birds should return soon, which will bring a quiver to his tail.

2. I am thankful… that the worst of the Recession seems over.

3. In the kitchen… are my Sodastream and George Foreman Grill, two appliances I never thought I would become so attached to.

4. I am wearing… the silver scroll ring you see here. I bought it at a shop called The Golden Ball in Colonial Williamsburg last year. I'll be back the first week in April!

5. I am creating… yet another TT!

6. I am going…to sort through that stack of magazines one of these days. Really, I am!

7. I am reading… Mona Lisa in Camelot. I had no idea that, 50 years ago this December, the world's most famous painting sailed over to the United States for a visit.

8. I am learning… that while FB and Twitter are nice places to visit, for me, Blogger is forever

9. I am pondering… taking May 20-21 off. That's when the NATO Summit comes to Chicago and I really don't think I want to deal with the crowds and protestors and press and security. 

10. A favorite quote… "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 does." Groucho Marx

11. One of my favorite things… is Cubs baseball! First game: Cubs v. Nationals within the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field on Thursday, 4/5.

12. A few plans for the rest of the week… l don't know. I have no doctor/dentist/hair appointments planned, which is nice. I could use some lazy time!

13. A peek into my day… I'm not sure what's on tap at work on Thursday. I took Wednesday off as a personal day, so there may be a surprise or two awaiting me.

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

Scared over nothing

I actually had a nightmare last night that, when the new toilet was installed today, the handyman would find a ton of rot and mildew and other manner of ugly under the tiles in my bathroom. And then the work would be major and the cats and I would have to move out and it would be cripplingly expensive.

It all went fine! On schedule, within budget. Why do I make myself so crazy?

Today was unseasonably warm, with the mercury hitting 80º. I had the ac on in the living room for the first time and it was pretty anemic. I went on Angie's List and found a local company that gets very high marks. Hopefully I can get this repaired as efficiently as my adventures in plumbing, and without the agita!

I miss my grandpa

Yesterday, as I was waiting for the train to come back to Chicago, I eavesdropped on a girl named Andrea and her dear, downstate grandpa. She was in her late teens/early 20s and was in her hometown to get her bike and other odds and ends she had at his house. He clearly didn't want to let her go. "You can come home any Friday night and leave on Sunday," he reminded her of the Amtrak schedule. He made her check her wallet, right there on that platform, to make sure she had the $20 it would take her to get from the Chicago train station to her apartment. She had $8. He gave her a $50, and said wistfully, "Maybe I could come up some weekend to catch a Cubs game ..."

Helping her load her Huffy bike onto the train, he told all of us, "That bike is going to Wrigleyville, by Cubs park." He was clearly as proud of her for going off to the big city as he was sad to say goodbye.

Because of the conductor and the bike, Andrea got separated from her grandfather. She wasn't able to kiss him but she did call out to him, "I love you, Grandpa!"

You should, Andrea, you should. Treasure him. No one is ever going to love you as unconditionally as your grandpa.

My grandpa died when I was a junior in high school and I miss him still. He was endlessly patient with me. He encouraged me to read aloud to him and would "oooh" and "aaah" over my original compositions. He laughed at all my jokes and could not abide my tears. I thought he made up the song, "Come to me, my Melancholy Baby" just for me, to comfort me when I cried. No one hugged like my grandpa. I remember the feel of his chest hair against my cheek and the smell of his cigars and licorice throat lozenges. He celebrated my spirit and independence, when everyone else in the family was calling me "difficult" and "mouthy."

Andrea, dear girl, you don't know how lucky you are to have that man, waiting for you on the platform.

In all, a good day

Yesterday was a long-ass day. I was on an Amtrak train at 7:00 AM, heading down for a client presentation. I was nervous -- red spot is now a mere irritation, but it's still there right in the middle of my lip. I hate the thought of my intimate little audience fixating on "the bouncing ball" while I spoke. My partner in the presentation was The Chocolate-Covered Spider and while she and I are getting along better, I still worry that she focuses on my mistakes instead of my successes.

The train left and arrived on time, giving me some time before the meeting to shop. There's a massive mall not too far from the client's office, and the Goodwill Sale is going on. I turned three sweaters into a new watch, a new umbrella and some Clinique undereye cream!

Then I had lunch with the Spider. It wasn't bad. She was a good influence on me and I had salad. I was cognizant of the fact that I was squeezed into the biggest dress slacks I own.

The presentation took just under an hour and it went well. Our client was way more interested in moving the needle and trying something new than I expected.

So now it was 2:30, and my train home wasn't till nearly 6:00. I was more willing to wait for Amtrak than to hang around and catch a ride back with the Spider. 2.5-3 hours in the car with her as she deals with rush hour traffic seemed an unnecessary test of our detente. Instead I sneaked away to the tiny coffee shop in the basement of our clients' offices and wrote a letter to my cousin Rosemary. Then I went to a lovely little local salon and had a massage ($60 -- including tip -- for 45 minutes, not bad), grabbed a sandwich at Subway and headed back to Chicagoland on Amtrak.

Glad I did it all.


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? 
Another Piece of My Heart by chick-lit author extraordinaire, Jane Green. This is the tale of Andi, a newly-40 Bay Area bride who is happy with the man of her dreams, but not with his teenage daughter.

• What did you recently finish reading?
Mona Lisa in Camelot: How Jacqueline Kennedy and Da Vinci's Masterpiece Charmed and Captivated a Nation. This book was a breezy look at a chapter of history I'd known little about. I'm intrigued that JFK used the international good will generated by Jackie and this great work of art to help cool things down during the arms race. Right now so many of our politicians seem so proudly anti-intellectual that I doubt this could happen today. And I was impressed by how willful The First Lady could be when she wanted something, and she wanted average Americans, those who could never fly to France, to see the Mona Lisa here in person. And boy, was Jackie ever successful. During her stops in New York and Washington DC, La Joconde saw more than a million Americans file past her. 

• What do you think you’ll read next? Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes.