Sunday, September 29, 2013

Too much

I have seen quite a bit of The Saddest Boy Ever lately. His real name is Peter. He lives on the first floor of my building, and he is, quite literally, the neediest person I have ever met.

Earlier this week we rode the el together from downtown all the way to our neighborhood, and then we walked home from the train together. And it's hard. I have nothing to say to him. He complains about being on his feet all day. Can't help him with that. He complains about how much the train costs. Can't help him with that. He complains about the night time noise in the alley behind our building. Apparently one of our neighbors does her grocery shopping after midnight on a weeknight and awakens him as she and her sons haul their bags under his window as they enter the building.. A ha! I can help with that! I told him who to call to report it to the condo association! He doesn't have time for that. I told him that the association manager's email address is posted by the building elevator, so he can report it any time, day or night, at his own convenience. That's too much work, too.

Sigh. By the time I got home, I just wanted to collapse. Being around all that passive unhappiness is exhausting!

This evening we were doing laundry together. I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

He doesn't have a lot in his life and at times, I feel like reaching out to him. But I sense it would be like wearing an anchor. I'm a tough broad, true. But I feel he could really drag me down.

Sunday Stealing

My Random Randomness Meme

How did you choose your baby's or pet's names? My cats were named thusly -- Joey for Joey Tribiani on Friends, Charlotte for Chan or Charlotte Ann (the daughter in A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries) and Rey for Reynaldo Curtis (Benjamin Bratt's character on L&O).

Have you ever been fishing? Once, as a child. I didn't care for it much.

Have you ever had your national flag painted on your face? No.

What was the last social faux pas you made? Nothing springs immediately to mind. But I'm always saying something stupid.

What makes you nostalgic? Listening to the oldies on the radio.

What's the scariest thing you've ever done? I know this may be hard to believe, but I'm proud of myself every time I get on a plane. It terrifies me.

What fairy tale character would you most associate with? She's not a fairy tale, she's a fantasy, but I've gotta go with Mary Poppins. I'd love her to float in, take over and show me how to organize my life.

How much do you tend to swear in public? Same as in private. My vocab is my vocab. I'm pretty one size fits all.

If you ruled your own country, who would you get to writer your national anthem? Bruce Springsteen.

Who is the most intelligent person you know? My lawyer. He can make sense out of the most circuitous gobbledygook, and he somehow always knows the right thing to say.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done for someone? Nothing springs to mind. Sorry.

What's the worst piece of advice anyone has ever given you? "Just ignore him. Look the other way."

If you had to describe yourself as a flavor, what would it be? Apple cinnamon.

      If you had to describe yourself as a car, what would it be? I wouldn't. I'm the least car-literate  person on the face of the earth.

 If you had to describe yourself as an animal, what would it be? An okapi, because I'm rare and wonderful. I'll be visiting my zoomorphic self twice before yearend. My nephew and I are going to the local zoo next weekend, and I hope to visit Okapi Habitat at the Lowry Zoo in Tampa -- a birthday adventure with my cousin in November.

 Do you think laughing at someone else's misfortune is wrong? Depends on the situation.

 If a loved one was to serenade you, what song would you most like them to sing? Great question! "Show a little faith, there's magic in the night." Thunder Road. Bruce.

Would you ever let your parents pick out a partner for you? Good goobies, no! My parents didn't end up liking one another very much. Why would I trust their judgement for me?

 Have you ever tried spam? (the meat product) Of course.

$109 later ...

Rey and I were up early and at the vet by 8:00. My cat's recent psycho behavior is just a recurrence of his spring/summer attachment and abandonment issues, not a return of his physical problems.

On the one hand, I'm grateful that he isn't in any pain or danger. On the other hand, I thought we had finally put this all behind us!

Reynaldo got a dose of female hormones, which has chilled him out in the past. The vet predicts this will keep us covered through year end. I hope so. Today has been a mixed bag. We had a very destructive evening, but as I post this, he's nestled lovingly on my feet.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Saturday 9

Unfamiliar with this week's featured song? Hear it here.
1) In the song, Dean sings, "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" to express how delighted he is to discover the girl loves him. When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised? Yesterday. I called the vet and asked for a Saturday appointment for my cat, Reynaldo. They were already booked up, but because they know me and know Rey, they're going to squeeze us in at 8:00 AM, before their 9:00 opening time. I appreciate this so much.

2) Martin was born Dino Paul Crochetti, and his family only spoke Italian at home. Do you speak any language other than English? Nope. I wish I did.
3) Before he became an entertainer, Martin fought under the name "Kid Crochett." Do you watch boxing? What about wrestling? Nope. 

4) This song appeared in the original Ocean's 11 (1960). That film was remade in 2001, with basically the same plot -- a group of suave criminals knock over the casinos on the Vegas Strip. Why do you think so many movies feature crooks and con men as heroes? I think there's a streak of rebellion in each of us, and movie anti-heroes appeal to it.
5) Crazy Sam's college sweetheart took over his family's wholesale liquor business, married a woman named Helene and has two sons. How does she know this? She checked his Facebook page on the sly. Have you ever used the internet to look up an ex? Of course. Isn't this why the Internet was invented?

6) As she writes this week's meme, Sam is sipping from a Big Bang Theory cup that features Sheldon's face and the word, "Bazinga!" Tell us about your favorite mug or water bottle. I have a mug that I bought as a souvenir from the Streisand concert I attended nearly a year ago.

7) Are you a good judge of character? I'd say I have fairly good instincts. I don't always heed them.
8) Do you know how to turn a somersault? I used to know how. Haven't attempted a somersault in decades, though. (And don't feel like trying one now, either.)
9) Which one do you use -- roll-on, stick or spray deodorant? Solid or stick.

Upset, upset, upset

A woman was ripped off on my train this evening. Two young men entered the car together but then sat apart, one on either side of this middle aged lady.* I didn't see what happened, but apparently one knocked her phone out of her hand and the other grabbed it and then, when the doors opened at the next stop, they leaped out. The woman screamed, "NO! NO!" and followed them onto the platform, but they were gone. She started to cry and two other people joined her on the platform as she waited for the authorities to file a report.

It was only 5:30. The train is usually very safe at that time.

An el car is a small, confined area, so this had an impact on each of us.

I'm upset, but I'm also strangely relieved that I seldom use my piece-of-shit phone while on the train and that my tunes are on an old-school iPod that no one else would want.

*I realize that to these young perpetrators, I probably look like a middle-aged lady, too.

My dream seatmate

I'm pretending that I'm on a long flight* and I get to kill time with Suzy Hunt. She's an enigmatic, blonde Forrest Gump. She was there for so much, knows so much about so many cool people, and doesn't speak to anyone about any of it.

She was Suzy Miller, a tall, willowy London model when being a tall, willowy London model was the best thing to be. She met and quickly married studly James Hunt, the race car driver soon to be immortalized in Ron Howard's Rush.

That marriage unraveled pretty fast so she did what folks like that did in the 1970s -- she went to Gstaad. There she just so happened run into another less than happily married celebrity, Richard Burton. He was instantly smitten with her and they began an affair, even though he was married to old Whatshername. 

Burton decided that she was his future, his escape from his drunken, excessive life with Elizabeth and so Suzy Hunt became known as the woman who came between Liz and Dick. As the third Mrs. Burton, she is credited for helping him beat the bottle and enjoy acclaim in Equus on Broadway. During their time in New York, she and Burton frequently hung out with another high profile pair of newlyweds, Henry Kissinger and his bride, Nancy.

After six years together, the age gap between Suzy and Richard exerted itself and they, too, divorced. By now, she'd had quite enough of celebrity and, for all practical purposes, disappeared. Apparently she lived a socialite's life in Palm Springs for a while (or was it Palm Beach? I get those two confused). Currently she lives in Spain.

Though she is portrayed in the movie by Olivia Wilde, she's given no interviews to promote Rush. Nor has she joined the other Mrs. Hunt at any of the film festivals or premieres. She's never spoken publicly about her years with Burton, either, not even now that Liz is gone.

But if we were sitting together on a flight for three hours, maybe we could talk about Watergate, Taylor and Burton, James Hunt and Nikki Lauda, what it's like to have it all, what it's like to walk away ... Because as much as I admire the lady for not selling her story, I still want to hear it.

Who's your dream seatmate?

*And that I'm not stoned on Xanax

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Want Wednesday

Today would be my uncle's 72 birthday. He was very sad and ill when he died almost three years ago. But that's not how I want to remember him.

I want to remember him happy, and his pets made him happy. So here's a "10 on Tuesday" I wrote shortly after he died.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Ted. I think of you every day.

10 on Tuesday

My uncle loved pets. So today I'm remembering him by looking back on 10 that held his heart for a time.

1) Horseface. In Chicagoland in the late 1940s, cats were allowed to wander at night. They also weren't "fixed." These two unwise practices led to my uncle's first cat being called Horseface. Quite the Lothario, he cut a wide swath through the neighborhood and got into many fights over his many girl friends. Because he came home every morning with his face looking the worse for wear, my very young uncle christened him "Horseface," and it stuck. Today no one could remember this much-loved old fellow's original first name. He was "Horseface."

2) Dumbo. The unfortunate offspring of Horseface and Snoozer (my mother's calico). Because Horseface was such a randy dude, Snoozer was forever pregnant. My grandmother was a single working mother in the 1940s and trips to the vet were simply not in her budget. So, whenever Snoozer delivered a litter, she put the wee ones in a cigar box, drowned them in the laundry tub, and disposed of the unopened box in the alley. One kitten did not die and made his way out of the cigar box and back into the yard. Snoozer reclaimed her baby and protected him fiercely. The thing of it is, the time under water and in the cigar box did quite a bit of damage to unfortunate Dumbo. He looked odd -- with incredibly over-sized ears -- and he swayed when he walked. These special traits made both Snoozer and my young uncle treasure Dumbo all the more, and he survived to live a happy life.

3) Rover. A huge St. Bernard with a heart to match. Unfortunately, he also had jaws to match. He was very protective of my uncle and this got them both in trouble. While rough-housing, my uncle found himself at the bottom of a pile of kids. He called Rover to help. Rover did, lifting one of the children up with his teeth and removing him from the pile. The big dog didn't mean to hurt the kid, but then, didn't much care if that was the outcome, either. The boy's back looked as though he'd suffered a shark attack and his angry mother went to the police station and demanded Rover be put to sleep. It took all my grandmother's powers of persuasion to bring Rover home, alive and well, but never to be let off his leash.

4) Mr. McDuff. My uncle was very fond of this German Shepard, and was sad that the dog didn't return the affection. It had something to do with my teen-aged uncle first accidentally setting McDuff's tail on fire, then accidentally squishing the poor dog's tail under a rocking chair. McDuff learned to avoid him -- which, while sad, was probably wise.

5) Countless fish. Until recently, he always kept tropical fish and loved watching their lives unfold in a big aquarium. He gave both my kid sister and me guppies which we kept for a long time. And not that long ago he set my young nephew up with a fish tank. My nephew became terribly attached to one of his fish (christened "Hungry") and was inconsolable when he died. Hungry was not flushed but was buried in the back yard. This is the cornerstone of my nephew's relationship with his great-uncle.

6) Dog. A ginormous turtle who required more care than my uncle could give him. It was with a heavy heart that my uncle donated old Dog to the Morton Arboretum. That was about 30 years ago. It occurs to me today that Dog may still be happily paddling around out there. I hope so.

7) Corky. This little old terrier already belonged to my uncle's second wife when they married. His wife kept Corky relegated to the "mud room," not understanding that pets are members of the family. Since my uncle encouraged Corky to enjoy full use of the entire house, they became fast friends. My uncle had many photos of Corky sitting proudly beside the recliner in the livingroom, wearing a variety of neckties. I don't know how this practice began, but it cracked my uncle up that Corky would sit still so patiently, submitting to having a perfect windsor tied around his neck.

8) Brandy. Corky's successor. A huge, big-hearted girl -- part golden retriever, part yellow lab. She died unexpectedly of an undiagnosed heart ailment. By this time, my uncle was already suffering from Parkinson's but he valiantly gave Brandy a proper burial beside the garage, the area she most loved to patrol.

9) Miss Kitty. A tortoiseshell cat my mother found while on vacation in Wisconsin. Since the stray looked so much like her cat, Snoozer, the one she had as a little girl, she really wanted my uncle to have her, and, since he had a great deal of fenced-in land, he was happy to take her. The thing of it is, unfortunately, Miss Kitty turned out to be pregnant. My uncle and his wife found good homes for most of Miss Kitty's offspring, except one ...

10) Bennie. So named because she's striped like a Bengal tiger. She was my uncle's most pampered companion at the end of his life. Now partly blind and a little frail (she had many surgeries related to her thyroid a few years ago and she remains tender at the incision sites), but with a very loud purr, she now lives with my mother. I wonder if, now that my uncle no longer needs her, she will decide to join him in Heaven.


To play along, just answer the following three questions …


• What are you currently reading? I'm juggling two: The Prince, The Showgirl and Me by Colin Clark, the diary that was the inspiration for the Michelle Williams movie, My Week with Marilyn, and The Accused, by Lisa Scottoline. It isn't that I'm not enjoying The Accused (a Rosato and Associates mystery), it's that it hasn't completely captured my imagination the way some in the series have. The Monroe book is fun. but it's also interesting to me from a pop cultural standpoint. Marilyn seems remarkably contemporary in problems and attitude, even though she's been gone for 50 years. Maybe that's why her allure endures.

• What did you recently finish reading? The Cat Who Smelled a Rat by Lillian Jackson Braun. I thought I'd plowed through all the Cat Who … books, and then I found this one on the shelf at the public library. It's lighter than air -- less substantial even than The Accused. But it was charming, as this series can be when it's at its best.

• What do you think you’ll read next? Still waiting on deck is The Last Word by Lisa Lutz. Rumored to be the last installment in the entertaining Spellman Family saga.

To see how others responded, click here.

He's going to be fine ... and so will I

From the Daily Mail
Last week's shooting on the South Side left me rattled. Not only because a 3-year-old was hit in the face. But also because my minister barely mentioned it during Sunday's service.

The little guy, Deonta Howard, will need plastic surgery. But there was no brain damage, and it looks like his vision will be unaffected. 13 people were hit by 16 bullets, and not a one will die. It is a miracle.

These thoughts about God bring me back to the unfortunate service last Sunday. My minister spent his whole sermon on why we need a third income source for the church -- a Capital Campaign to pay for building repairs. There was all sorts of talk about the campaign kick off in the park afterward, complete with hotdogs, ice cream and games for kids. There were two sentences about the mass shooting just miles away from our church.

My minister's behavior Sunday was the failing of a single man. A good man. A man who has helped our congregation grow and help the community. A man who screwed up.

It has not shaken my faith in God, certainly, because my minister is not God. It has not shaken my commitment to "organized religion" because my minister's one bad choice should not be an indictment of every and all church activity.

My minister should have addressed what happened last Thursday night. He should have helped those of us who were struggling with it. His talk about central air conditioning and new Sunday School classrooms and the party in the park just made it hurt worse. For all I have to do is ride the el a couple of stops and I'll find myself in a neighborhood where, when families go to the park, the kids don't get balloons, they get shot in the face.

BUT it was on his watch that our church became a founding partner in the local food pantry. In addition to delivering the canned goods collected from our congregation every week, my minister shows up on Wednesdays to serve meals, help the homeless get proper identification (try to find a job without a legal ID card), and arrange for lower income families to keep their lights on when they can't pay the power company. I am so very proud of him for that.

He has also continued many of the good works begun by our previous minister,* including mobilizing us for LGBT and women's reproductive rights.

My minister has a very important job, and last Sunday he messed up. My job is less important, and the consequences are less when I mess up, but it happens.

So I forgive him. Hell, if the mother of that little boy can forgive the thug who shot her baby, I can forgive my minister.

I am grateful to everyone who listened and commented as I worked this through. Blogging has been very, VERY therapeutic as I have wrestled with this.

*I admit I felt a greater affinity for Rev. Jay, who left in 2000 to be closer to his elderly mother out east. But many in our congregation felt that Rev. Jay kept us "standing still" and didn't focus enough on growing our Sunday School program and other things that would attract new members.

It's got me thinking ...

Writing it out, working it through, that's one of the things that makes blogging valuable for me. At the time that I post, it gives me an opportunity to examine an issue. In years to come, reading what I wrote gives me an accurate snapshot of who I was at that moment.

And who am I right now? I am a heartbroken, yet hopeful Gal.

I am so fucking sick of guns. The carnage that took place less than a half hour away from home is the latest and worst, but alas not the only, incident. As a child I was confused, frightened and hurt by the Kennedy assassinations. Since my birthday falls on 11/22, I cannot exaggerate the impact those
events had on me as a little girl. Then in 1980, John Lennon was shot. Shocking and incalculable.

In 1984, I served on a jury where a 22 year old girl shot a 41 year old bus driver. I did not believe for a second that the girl I voted to put away was an ongoing danger to society. The defendant was trying to board a bus on a day with a freak snowstorm that she wasn't prepared for. Unfortunately, her student pass was invalid because it wasn't a school day. She was 80¢ short of what she needed to pay the cash fare. The bus driver, a working mother, kept trying to get the girl to leave the bus. An argument ensued. It escalated and became physical and the bus driver responded by hitting the girl in the face with the metal fare punch. The girl lost it -- in that one tragic moment, she lost it -- pulled a loaded gun out of the waistband of her jeans and shot the driver in the chest. If we were in sunny Florida instead of snowy Chicago, perhaps the girl would have been able to plead, "I was standing my ground!" a la George Zimmerman, and walked free. As it was, we jurors deliberated for an hour and 45 minutes and found her guilty of second degree murder. She was sentenced to 30 years. As I understand it, she served 7 1/2 years for her crime.

As a juror, I know I did the right thing. I followed the law. As a society, I'm not so sure.

Then there was Blair Holt (2007), an honor student who was shot on a public bus as he tried to shield a classmate from gang gunfire. And perhaps worst of all, Yummy Sandifer (1994). This 11-year-old  was given a semi-automatic by The Black Disciples gang and used it to kill a 14-year-old. He escaped (not hard to do, I guess, when you're only about 4'8), but Yummy's crime got so much press and shined such a bright light on the gang activity that the Black Disciples decided he needed to be taken down as well. Yummy was found dead, face down, in an empty viaduct.

These cases have really got under my skin.

As the NRA continues to pressure lawmakers, influencing them away from doing the right thing, I must do more. I'm not unsophisticated about how it works. I can write letters, I can give more money, to support commonsense solutions to this scourge.

I'm so tired of being mad.

Monday, September 23, 2013

That was disappointing

I went to church on Sunday because I was upset. Gun violence at the Navy Yard. Gun violence in my backyard. I needed to put the violence in some context. I wanted to learn how to cope and move on without becoming insensitive to or dismissive of these ugly events.

My minister really let me down.

Yesterday was, unfortunately, the start of the first-ever "Capital Campaign." The building we worship in is too small for our burgeoning congregation and it needs a lot of work. I get that.

I didn't want to hear about the change in our fiscal year, about the differences between what I put in the plate and my pledge to the annual fund and now my prospective contribution to the Capital Campaign. I didn't need to hear from two congregants, explaining why they felt the Capital Campaign is just as important as the annual fund.

I needed to hear how to handle 16 shots being fired by an assault rifle into a pick up basketball game less than 15 miles from my church.

I get that there were events planned for us after the service. A day at the park, with a barbecue and ice cream stand and games for children. All planned months in advance to kick off the Capital Campaign. I'm not proposing that any of that be cancelled.

But beyond -- literally -- two sentences from the pulpit, last week's shooting should have been addressed.

I suspect that it matters that the violence last Thursday was completely gang related, and that if you don't know The Gangster Disciples or The Black P Stone Nation, or aren't unfortunate enough to live in that community, it's easier to be distracted by a cookout and balloons and the prospect of a new air conditioning system.

But I expect better from my minister.

While the kids involved in the shooting may be a lifestyle away from us, they are, quite literally, our neighbors.

This is weighing heavily on me. I now don't want to support their fucking Capital Campaign. I won't commit, one way or the other, though, until I cool off.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Award!

Cleopatra Loves Books has glammed up this joint with this lovely Shine On Award. Thank you so much!

Here are the rules of the award:
1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog, and link back.
3. Share seven random, interesting things about yourself.
4. Nominate up to 15 bloggers for the Shine On Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.

Now for the seven random facts about me:

•  I cry very easily at the movies, but not in my own life. I have no idea why that is.

•  Batman as played by Adam West is now and always has been my favorite superhero.

•  I got my first professional pedicure on the rooftop of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, site of the first Academy Awards. (I included this because it makes me sound glamorous enough to deserve the award.)

•   I really hate my condo these days. It needs so much work (paint and plaster and new drapes and ...). I suspect it may be a metaphor for my life.

•  Even though my Cubs are currently 24 games out of first place, I feel guilty if I don't watch their games. (They lost to the Braves today while I was at the mall.)

•  I love singing with my shower radio while I'm washing my hair.

•  I have "chemistry" with my books. Either we hit it off right away, on page one, or we never will.

Now to nominate other bloggers --




Boss Nurse

Angel the Alien

Sittin' on a Backyard Fence

Let me know if you play along.

Sunday Stealing

Fall/Autumn Meme 

 First of all, is autumn your favorite season? Why or why not? There's something to enjoy about every season, but yeah, I think autumn is my favorite. The cool weather energizes me.

Is it ‘autumn’ or ‘fall’, to you? Depends on the context. Though I really enjoy saying "autumnal."

What kind of weather does your area get during this season? It's so changeable in fall! It can be anything from 35º and rainy to 85º and sunny.

Were you born in an autumn month? Late November.

Do you pay attention to any ‘fall fashions’? At this stage in my life, I try to be appropriate rather than fashionable. I am looking forward to seeing what's in the stores and what new colors I can incorporate into my wardrobe. I realize this past summer I wore so very much blue!

Which leaf color is your favorite? Reddish orange.

Is it still fun to rake the leaves and jump in piles of them? No. I don't have a yard.

When can you really tell that it’s autumn? Baseball is over.

Do you enjoy carving pumpkins? I suppose. Haven't done it in years.

Do you eat the pumpkin seeds? If so, do you put any kind of flavoring on it? No.

Are you planning to go to a pumpkin patch this year? No.

Which was your favorite Halloween costume to wear? I really enjoyed dressing up as Harpo Marx a few Halloweens back.

Are you planning to go trick-or-treating? Why or why not? No. Because I am a grown up.

Are there any county fairs or festivals held nearby during this time? We just had our village Oktoberfest this past weekend. There will be others throughout Chicagoland. We have a big German community here, and we like beer.

What is your favorite dessert for this time of year? Pumpkin anything, cinnamon anything.

Is your Thanksgiving Day in October or November, if you even celebrate it? It's in November and I'll be spending it with my friend John.

If you do celebrate it, where do you usually have Thanksgiving dinner? Damn! I should have given these questions a once-over before I began answering.

Do you remember any crafts you used to do that were autumn-themed? I traced my hand and made it into a turkey.

Are any of your favorite bands doing a fall tour this year? I believe Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are still working Europe.

Which new TV show are you looking forward to this season?  Michael J. Fox. I had Parkinson's in my family, and the brave way he exposes/reveals living with the disease is important.

How does autumn typically make you feel? Lively again. I don't like heat.

What color do you always associate with autumn? Orange.

Is there a song that always reminds you of this season? "Happy Birthday." I'm a November baby.

Do you have any seasonal traditions? My birthday and Thanksgiving. I'm taking my nephew to the zoo for his birthday in a few weeks. I'm trying to make that our tradition.

Do you spend a lot of time outside during this time of the year? Yes

How can you tell that fall is over?  I am wearing my big coat.

What is a typical autumn outfit that you wear? Jeans and a sweater.

Describe a perfect autumn day:  Someone gives me a present. I love my birthday.

Do you hate it when stores start promoting Christmas early? I don't think I'm allowed to hate it. I work in advertising, so I'm part of the problem.

What is your favorite thing about this season? Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday, dear me, happy birthday to me.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Someone's problem, but not mine

I was in my old hometown today, getting my hair cut and colored. (I think it looks cute, btw.)

The guy who does my hair asked what is up with my mother's house, just two blocks from his shop. I don't know exactly what he was referring to. I suspect something has changed about its appearance. Probably something with the bushes in the front yard. I was dismissive, saying that when I'm in town I go out of my way to not pass my mom's house. He said, "That's probably a good idea."

The reverse mortgage company will, I believe, take official possession of it (and then sell it at auction) on December 6.

My mother loved that house. Her parents built it and it's the house she left when she married my dad. My parents bought it from her parents for $1 when I was a toddler. My mom worked very hard on maintaining her yard.

I, on the other hand, was very unhappy while I lived there.

I don't know what's been done to that house. It's not my issue. Not anymore. Not in any way.

Do you remember the 21st of September?

That would be TODAY!

How I love this song. I have never been so blue that hearing it couldn't make me smile.

That is why I'm glad that September 21 is Earth Wind and Fire Day in Chicago. This song is going to be immortalized with a USPS stamp, too!

Saturday 9

Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.
1) Let's get the obvious out of the way: Have you ever been to Seattle? No. I've never gone any farther northwest than San Francisco.

2) Businessweek named Seattle one of the best places to live, citing its clean air, low crime and high employment. What makes your current hometown a great place to live? I live in Chicago -- home of great dining, theater, museums, architecture and sports teams. It's more walkable than Los Angeles and more manageable than New York.

3) In this song, Bobby brags about how green Seattle is. Is it still green where you are? Or are the trees beginning to show their fall colors? Still pretty green.
4) This song was the theme of a 1968-1970 show called
Here Come the Brides. Do you know the words to any other TV theme? "Just when you think there's no one around who's caring, along comes a friend who offers a friend in sharing. Sometimes tears and sorrow are all the things you've got. Just when you think you're all by yourself, you're not." Kate and Allie. Vintage 1980s Girl Power!

5) Bobby Sherman was once America's #1 teen idol, selling millions of records and earning 5 Gold Albums. Girls who wrote to his fan club received a postcard back signed, "Peace, Love & Bobby Sherman." Have you ever belonged to a fan club? No. 

6) Alas, the career of a teen idol can be short, and by fall 1970, Bobby was replaced on magazine covers by David Cassidy. Sherman went on to a second career with the LAPD, instructing officers in CPR and first aid. Do you know how to perform CPR? The Heimlich Maneuver? No.

7) This "disc" is actually made of cardboard and was printed on the back of a Post Alpha-Bits cereal box. It was one of four that Post printed on different cereals back in 1970 so that Bobby-loving little girls would have to go through lots of different cereals to collect the whole set. What's your favorite breakfast cereal? It changes. Right now, it's Rice Krispies.

8) Crazy Sam can't decide if she wants berries or banana slices with her cereal. Which would be your choice? Berries. They're easier. Peel the banana ... slice the banana ... yes, I am indeed the laziest woman ever.

9) Do you ever eat cereal straight out of the box? Drink milk directly from the carton? Yes to the former, no to the latter.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Well, today kinda sucked. I took off so I could get a new shower head and downstem installed. It was only supposed to cost $70. I was actually looking forward to it.

The plumber got in there, removed my icky old shower head,  and discovered that my "threads" were worn away and had to be replaced. Now what? He had to replace it. But that required a hammer and a hole in the wall.

Now I have to tape a bag around my shower to keep the hole in the wall dry. And I had to pony up another $70 because it took twice as long as it was supposed to.


I had over $800 in my supersecret "household stuff" fund. I think this qualifies.

As will having the hole repaired and painted over. Which will entail another day off.


It sickens and it hurts

Chicago Tribune

There was a mass shooting here last night. According to the Chicago Tribune, "A gunman with a military-grade assault rifle opened fire on a pickup basketball game in the Back of the Yards neighborhood late Thursday, injuring 13 people …"

One of the victims is this lad, Deonta. He is 3. He was standing near the court, watching his relatives play under a harvest moon on this particular warm autumn evening. Look at his face and know that he was shot behind the ear, and the bullet exited through his cheek. Amazingly, he will live, though he will require surgery.

They will all live. All 13 victims. Which is proof of God's hand. How else do you explain how 13 people, hit by 16 bullets, could all survive?

What I find harder to explain is how an asshole got his hands on a military-grade assault rifle.

Yeah, I know this was a gang shooting. But that little boy, who was awake and trying to talk when he was admitted into the hospital, is no gang member.

Yeah, I know that the vast majority of us in this city I love are safe because we don't live in the isolated, gang saturated neighborhoods. But that doesn't make it acceptable. Not remotely.

Earlier this week, a gunman opened fire at the Navy Yard.

There is something very wrong in this world. And that something is guns.

I don't want to hear if you don't agree with me. I am not so inured to the violence around me that what's happened this week hasn't left me very upset. If you want to post a "guns don't kill people" screed, you'll simply have to do it on your own blog, not on mine.

Because I'm not allowing that talk anywhere near the face of a toddler that has been ripped apart by a military-grade assault rifle.


Remember Carol? She's the older sister of a high school friend who had a massive heart attack back in early July. She was kept alive by machines until she was strong enough for major surgery, then she went through weeks of recuperation and even more weeks rehab.

Monday, she goes home! She's not only not going to die, which is what I'd feared, she's going to recover! She has another month or more before she can go back to work. But she's going to live.

I have been sending positive thoughts her way every day, but I haven't contacted her or Judy. There's just so much drama attached to Judy and I'm not interested in diving back into that. So I guess this chapter of my cyber snooping has a happy ending!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Welcome back to Chicago, Madame President

My friend John and I saw the premiere of Evita last night. To be completely honest, I don't recall much about seeing it the first time around, back in the 1980s, but apparently I saw it with John back then, too. I enjoy the stability and continuity of our friendship.

I also enjoyed the show last night. Our touring company had a really strong Che (Josh Young). Now that I am older and more sophisticated (if not wiser), I understood and appreciated Eva's story so much more now. "They need to adore me, so Christian Dior me ..." She understood her public so well. They wanted to see her wealthy, beautiful and bejeweled because she had once been poor, hungry and outcast, one of them. While their circumstances are different, I kept thinking of another famous blonde, Princess Diana, as I was watching Evita.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WWW Wednesday

To play along, just answer the following three questions …


• What are you currently reading? The Accused by Lisa Scottoline, the latest installment in her series about Rosato and Associates, the all-woman law firm in Philly.

• What did you recently finish reading? Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams. This biography of Dean Martin left me really disliking him. He seemed like a staggeringly selfish man. Does this mean it was a good or bad book? Perhaps it was a good book about a difficult subject.

• What do you think you’ll read next? The Last Word by Lisa Lutz. Rumored to be the last installment in the entertaining Spellman Family saga.

To see how others responded, click here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A good reason to shop early

My best friend lives just outside Boulder, and so his family under siege by floodwaters. He is OK, and so is his immediate family. His wife's stepmother's (a woman he has longed liked and admired) is struggling because HER mother -- an Alzheimer's patient -- has been necessarily evacuated from her permanent care nursing home and the 80+ year old lady is angry and frightened, confused because she was in New Orleans when Katrina hit and is convinced she's going through that again.

As heartbreaking as that situation is, it's not his immediate household and so he knows, surrounded by devastation, that his family is overall very lucky.

It's just that today is his younger daughter's birthday and there are no gifts for her. No party. He's been
unable to even get to the drugstore, which probably isn't open anyway. He feels terrible (knowing him and his Eeyore tendencies, I bet he feels worse about this than she does).

My closet is always filled with Christmas and birthday presents. It's a habit I picked up from my mom. If you find the perfect gift for someone when you're on vacation, or when it's on sale, pick it up then and there, because you may not find anything so perfect (or so perfectly priced) again.

The unexpected downside to this habit is that I often find things in the closet after the holiday that I forgot to deliver. The upside is that, if heavy rains and deadly floods hit, I've got your birthday present!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not much. Not enough.

Did some laundry. (Four loads.)

Watched some baseball. (Cubs lost to the Pirates, but that's OK because now the Pirates are tied for first.)

Dropped a pair of sweaters and a pair of bags off at the consignment shop. (I've made about $35 there so far this year.)

Renewed my library card. (Fitting, since September is Library Card Month.)

I was going to scrub down my bathroom since the plumber will be here Friday to install my new showerhead, and hopefully remedy that slow-running drain. (But I guess there's still time.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sunday Stealing

MORE -- Part 3

Most daring dare you have ever done?  I lie down in the middle of a (comparatively) busy street. It was stupid. I was in high school.

When is the last time you did something you knew was wrong? I renewed a magazine subscription. It was a waste of money, because I have issue upon issue on my dining room chair I haven't touched. And yet I renewed it anyway.

What was on your mind most today? All the stuff I have to get renewed, like my driver's license, my library card.

Have a best friend? Yes

If you were upset, who’ s the first person you would go to? Depends on what's upsetting me. Different friends have different gifts.

When was the last time someone yelled at you? Last winter, a crazy lady yelled at me on the el, and then the next night another crazy lady yelled at me in the Petco parking lot. I was beginning to think I was a crazy lady magnet.

What have you done today, so far? Cuddled the cats, watched TV, farted around on the internet

What did last weekend consist of?
Not much because I had tummy trouble last weekend and had to stay close to home

What are you listening to? The TV is on

Who were you last in a car with? A cab driver

Have you ever been called cute?
All the time. I'd love to hear "pretty," but I'm learning to settle for "cute."

Describe how you feel right now in one word: Lazy

Has anybody ever told you that you talk too fast?  Often

Did you have fun yesterday? Yes

Do you like to cuddle? Depends on the cuddler

Do you think someone is thinking about you? Yes

Are you stubborn? Very

Is there a friend, boyfriend/ girlfriend, or ex that you will never forget? Yes

Thinking back, are there people you have no idea why you hung out with?

How’s your heart?
I hope it's OK. I know my cholesterol is too high.

Are you easily amused? 
I have reached Level 61 in Farmville 2. That's a good indicator that I am very, very easily amused.

Do you speak more than 2 languages?  Nope

Are you doing anything tonight? I'm always doing something

Is there a person of the same sex who means a lot to you?  Of course

Is your hair naturally straight? No

What happened at 10:00 am? At 10:00 AM yesterday I was getting dressed to run some sunny Saturday errands. 10:00 AM today hasn't happened yet. 

What were you doing at ten last night? Paying my bills. Happy to report I was able to pay my mortgage another month in advance. With things tenuous at work, that gives me comfort.

Have you made someone happy today? Yes

Is it hard for you to get over someone? Very

Think it’s disgusting when girls get really wasted? No more so than boys.

How long did it take you to get over you last ex? 

When you are home alone do you still close the door when you shower?
Yes. If I don't, the steam from the shower sets off the smoke detector.

In the immortal words of Ricky Nelson ...

"I'm walking, yes, indeed."

I walked 4.5 miles today. To the vet, to CVS, to the grocery store. It was a beautiful day -- just over 70º and sunny. I thoroughly enjoyed being outside, on foot, listening to a "Cat Who ..." book on my headphones. I haven't done it in ages. I should do it more often.