Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Stealing

The 20Q Meme

1. When you buy a greetings card are the words or the picture more important to you? Words

2. What's your favorite kind of cake?

3. Do you ever make gifts for people, if so what, or do you buy them? 
Usually store bought

4. You are chosen to have lunch with the President. The condition is you only get to ask one question. What do you ask?
"How do you rise above all the hateful, partisan, bullshit criticism you get?"

5. Which do you dislike most: pop-up ads or spam email?
Pop ups

6. What was the best party you've ever been to?
My friend John's 40th was pretty cool

7. Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud, or too quiet?
Too quiet. It's harder to lose yourself.

8. You are offered an envelope that you know contains $50. You are then told that you may either keep it or exchange it for another envelope that may contain $500 or may be empty. Do you keep the first envelope, or do you take your chances with the second?
Well, Monty Hall, I'll go for the second envelope.

9. Do you wish cellphone etiquette was a required class upon purchasing one?

10. What's the most messed up food combination that you've had that was actually good?
Now I didn't think this was messed up, but my mom always cringed when I ordered it: butternut squash ravioli

11. What's one of your most random pet peeves (something that annoys you)?
When the toilet paper is hung wrong.

12. When is the last time you had home cooking?
Last week when I made myself a hot dog with a side order of corn.

13. If you could be a fictional character from a book who would you choose?
Jo from Little Women

14. If you could be in a television sit-com, which would you choose?

15. If you could be any animal or creature for one day, what would it be? 
I'd love to hang around as a cat with my cats for a day. I think it would make me a better cat mom.

16. What's your favorite girl's name?

17. What's your favorite boy's name?

18. What's your supermarket of choice?
Trader Joe's

19. If you were to attend a costume party tonight, what or whom would you go as?
Minnie Mouse. Because I think I still the costume in the closet somewhere.

20. What is your concession stand must-have at the movies
? I like Sno-Caps

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Challenge -- Day 29

Day 29 --Describe your camera/device. Do you take many pictures?

Kodak M530. It's a fine little digital camera. I'm happy with it. It fits easily into my purse and it's easy to focus. Any personal photos you've seen on this blog have been taken with it.

Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Too Close (2011)

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

1) This song is about a friendship that turned romantic ... and it doesn't end happily. Have you ever crossed that line with a friend? If so, how did it work out? This has never happened to me. I'm either sexually attracted to a guy or I'm not, it's never just snuck up on me within a friendship. Though I think the idea is romantic and hope that anyone this has happened to lives happily ever after.

2) When he was a kid, this week's singer, Alex Clare, listened to his dad's Stevie Wonder records. When you were in 7th/8th grades, what music were you into? Incredibly embarrassing bubblegum. I should be ashamed to post this, but I'll do it anyway. Enjoy the fringed shirt/tight black pant combo and swivel hip dance moves.

3) "Too Close" has been featured on the TV show, The Vampire Diaries. Do you enjoy shows/books/movies about the supernatural? Nope

4) Some of Alex Clare's tour dates were sponsored by Bud Light. Do you like beer? I drink less beer than I used to, but there are times when a light beer hits the spot.

5) Mr. Clare trained to be a chef, just in case the music thing didn't work out. Are you a good cook? No.

6) Crazy Sam is forever running out of mayo because she slathers it on her sandwiches. What is currently on your grocery list? Paper towels are a staple for me. And I think I'll pick up a bag of those cute little mandarin oranges from Trader Joe's.

7) Where are you most likely to find spare change -- between the sofa cushions, in your jeans as you toss them into the washer, or under the floor mat of your car? Sofa.

8) How did you spend your Friday night -- working late, hanging out with friends, or just enjoying a quiet night at home? I'm cocooning. I work in an "open office space" -- aka a clown car -- with four of us sharing one small space. When I get away from work, it's my goal to not speak to anyone.

9) Do you use Pinterest? Every once in a while. I'm liking Houzz more. It's all about interior design and I'm working on my bathroom.

March Challenge -- Day 28

Day 28 --Describe your glasses or sunglasses.
I'll go with sunglasses, because they're more fun. They're my weakness and I have too, too many pairs. I'm going to take a few to Goodwill tomorrow, as a matter of fact.
But not these. These are my current favorites. Polo by Ralph Lauren. Picked them up in the Tampa airport en route to Key West. The pair I'd been wearing when I got on the plane at O'Hare broke. What a happy accident that turned out to be! The squarish lenses are a nice contrast to my round face and the frames feel sturdy but not heavy. They go with everything.
Now I just hope I don't leave them on the el. 

Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

My bathroom lights have arrived!

Now all I need is the new sink, the new faucets, the new medicine chest, the new tiles around the tub, and the new paintjob for the walls.

OK, what's in front of me is daunting, but this is a start!

March Challenge -- Day 27

Day 27 --What's in your wallet?
From memory: Wallet, hairbrush, makeup bag, Franklin Planner, Petco and CVS coupons, thumb drive, two pairs of glasses (prescription and reading), contact lens solution, contact lens case, pens, Pepto Bismol tablets, a few emergency tablets in case I get a migraine.

Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

Change Is in the Air

"There's a change in the weather, there's a change in the sea. So from now on they'll be a change in me."

I'm tired of being fat and sloppy and broke. So I asked for a fitness assessment at LA Fitness, where I try to work out 3x/week ... but haven't been. And when I do work out, I obviously don't push myself hard enough.

The assessment was humbling. I'm in terrible shape and a health club is populated by the strong and the skinny. I get out of breath easily. I'm not flexible.

But this emphasized how much I need to do. Over the last 20 years I have gained ... gulp ... 80 lbs. Thirty of those pounds have been put on over the last 8 years. The trainer thought it was reasonable for me to expect to lose 35 over the next year. I'd be happy to lose 5!

OK, I said, let's get started. Two 45-min. sessions/week for ... I don't remember how long. My mind went to the happy place when I saw the dollar amount. NO WAY CAN I AFFORD THIS!

Which I told him. I was also feeling bad that they didn't let me know how high the fees were before I embarrassed myself waddling through the fitness assessment.

OK, how about one 30-min session/week (preceded by 30 mins. of cardio warm up on my own) for about $60/session? That seemed reasonable. Expensive enough to force me to show up, but affordable. I mean, this is my health we're talking about here. I'm worth $60/week.

But not $60/week for 28 weeks. That's $240/month for 6 months ... and it's a binding contract. On the one hand, my paid-for sessions never expire. On the other hand, if I lose my job between now and October, I'm still on the hook for $240/month.

After thinking about it overnight, I decided I simply can't do it. I'll go back to my local health club. I really didn't like the trainer I tried in 2009, but that was 5 years ago and she doesn't work there anymore. The thing is, that gym is in my neighborhood and LA Fitness is downtown, near work, and easier for me to get to.

But I'm tired of weighing more than Abraham Lincoln did, so I called and set up an appt. with a new, more affordable local trainer for Sunday afternoon.

Then guess what! LA Fitness called back. They just now began offering a new 12-week program!* $290/month for three months. I sign the paperwork next week and then we'll get started.

Next up: straightening out that bog of paperwork on my dining room table.

I can do this. I have to do this. Because I'm the only one who can!

*Yeah, I don't believe it, either. The $870 option was probably always available but they didn't want to offer it until they were sure I wouldn't take the $1440 plan.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Challenge -- Day 26

Day 26 --What makes you smile?
Joey, my cat. He's old and fat and clumsy. But he has such a dear heart. I smile when I think of how he purrs at mealtime, or presses himself beside me on the sofa or loves napping with the afternoon sun on his tummy. Joey is all about enjoying the moment. I could learn from him!

Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? Mary by Janis Cooke Newman. I just picked it up this morning, so I don't have anything to say first hand. But here's what B&N says: "An engrossing novel about Mary Todd Lincoln — one of history’s most misunderstood and enigmatic women. Writing from Bellevue asylum — where the shrieks of the other inmates keep her awake at night — a famous widow can finally share the story of her life in her own words."
• What did you recently finish reading?  I can't say enough wonderful things about  After Visiting Friends by Michael Haney. Quick overview: A journalist wants to know the truth about his father died many years ago at the young age of 35. That doesn't do it justice. This memoir is about the shadow our parents cast over our lives, it's about discovery and forgiveness, it's about facing the past so we can get beyond it. It's beautifully written, a valentine to the Chicago of recent past. Get it and read it!

• What do you think you’ll read next? I don't know.

To see how others responded, click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March Challenge -- Catch Up

Day 22 -- Do you collect anything? When did you start?
It's not by design, but I have accumulated a lot of pop culture mementos from the 1960s. It's called "mid century modern" now. It's inspired by my fascination with the Kennedy Presidency and my passion for the Beatles. JFK won election in 1960, the Beatles broke up in 1970, so they provide rather neat bookends for me.

Day 23 -- Who is your favorite artist? What style of art?
Thomas McKnight. I discovered him in the 1990s when he was commissioned by the Clintons for one of their official White House Christmas card. I love the details he chooses to include. The work is also interesting without being cluttered, and I always feel like someone just left the scene or is about to enter. Even without people, he tells a story by setting the scene with such care. I have two of of his prints in my livingroom and another in my bedroom.

Day 24 -- Where are you going next?
Ouch! This is the time of year when I should be on vacation and I'm not because I can't afford to go spa-ing and redo my bathroom. So this question kinda hurts. I do have three trips planned for this years: October in Los Angeles, November in Vegas and Christmas in Key West. So I suppose I should just grow up and shut up.

Day 25 -- Share something you saw on social media that caught your eye.

"Old white people are drowning in despair and rage. Here's how my father lost his mind -- thanks to his cable diet." It was an interesting article in Salon and helps explain how people who should know better (those who remember The Depression and Korea and McCarthyism and 1968) steadfastly insist that the country is in worse shape than ever before. It's because Fox tells them that it is, 24/7/365.

Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

Weekend Update

Let's see now ... What did I do over the weekend?

Saturday I got up early headed over to the vet and restocked the larder with prescription catfood. Then I got my new futon pad. $280, including delivery, which will be this weekend.

Sunday I didn't do much of anything. Went to church, had a nice scrambled-eggs-minced-ham breakfast at the other coffee shop (my favorite one was packed solid), did laundry and vegged out. My oldest friend kept emailing me. She's coming unglued because her trip to California has turned out to be such a disaster. I was happy to be there for her, and I hoped I helped but this is not new news. She needs to make her life work. She couldn't wait to get the Chicagoland dust off her feet and head out west for a new start. Now all the wants to do is come back to the very place where she was so unhappy. I don't get it. She really needs her shrink to help her work all this through.

The above doesn't sound like very much, but it left me beat. Sitting in this clown car of an office, having to be relentlessly perky, every day all week, is wearing me down. I want to be still. I want to be quiet. I want to be left alone. If you don't have fur, I don't really want anything to do with you.

I just feel weighed down ... by weight and by stuff. I have to get myself in better shape, get my financial house in order, get my home livable.

We need to have some changes made around here, and I'm the only one who can do it!

A little stuck

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't felt like examining what's going on in my life. Nothing is bad. Nothing is wrong. I just feel stuck. Weighted down and stuck.

I have to take action and get myself unstuck. Nobody's going to do it for me.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Stealing

Play along here.

1. Do you know triplets? No.
2. Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook? Titanic. I'm a big fan of Leo's.
3. Have you ever eaten Indian food? I must have, but to be honest I can't think of any examples.
4. What’s the name of your favorite restaurant? Delia's Kitchen.
5. Who’s your favorite person in the world? My best friend. I miss him enormously.
6. Would you rather live in a rural area or in the suburbs? These are my only two choices? Then suburbs. I want to be as close to a major metropolitan area as possible.
7. Can you whistle? No.
8. Do you sleep with a nightlight? Yes. My TV.
9. Do you eat breakfast every morning? I have a Special K protein shake.
10. Do you take any pills or medication daily?  Cholesterol and allergy meds.
11. How many times have you been to the hospital as a patient? Twice.
12. Have you ever seen Finding Nemo? Not start-to-finish.
13. Where do you buy your jeans? Old Navy. I'm even more loyal to them now that they have raised the minimum wage they pay their employees.
14. What’s the last compliment you got? That I'm nice.
15. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning? No. I wish I did.
16. What flavor tea do you enjoy?  This winter I drank a lot of pomegranate tea and it was yummy.
17. What social media sites do you use? Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday 9

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

1) This song refers to the merengue and the cha-cha. Are you a good dancer? No. I suck. Completely uncoordinated.

2) Dances like the merengue and cha-cha are featured on Dancing with the Stars. Are you a loyal DWTS viewer? No. Every week, my mom and her best friend Shirley used to go to KFC for lunch to discuss it, so in my mind it's established as an old lady show.

3) The Copa girl in the song, Lola, wears yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there. If we were going to the clubs tonight, what would you wear? Jeans and a blouse of some sort. I don't have any cool club clothes anymore. Which is all for the best because I don't have a cool club body anymore.

4) The real Copacabana nightclub was on East 60th Street in New York. It was used as a setting for the movie Goodfellas. Do you have a favorite mobster movie? The Godfather, of course. And the one where Cagney plays a cold-blooded killer who is just way too devoted to his mother. White Heat! It's not Mafia but I think it should still count. I've only seen it once but it was a very memorable, wild ride.

5) Our featured artist, Barry Manilow, has unfortunately spent a great deal of this young century in the hospital -- broken nose, face lift, chest pains and two hip surgeries. Tell us about your most recent trip to the doctor, ER, or dentist. Last summer I had a pair of moles removed. It doesn't sound like a big deal but it was because I was worried about skin cancer. Gratefully, they were benign.

6) Manilow told US Magazine that he enjoys nude sunbathing. Have you ever skinny dipped or sunbathed au naturel? I'm sorry. I was distracted by the creepy thought of a naked Manilow. What was the question?

7) Before he became famous as a performer, Manilow was a very successful jingle writer. "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there …" and "You deserve a break today at McDonald's …" were his. Tell us about a TV commercial you saw recently. Febreeze and Gain have teamed up for Air Effects, an aerosol that eliminates the tough odors. (So I'd be spraying a laundry detergent into the air? I'm a little confused.)

8) The Manilow faithful are known as Fanilows and proudly wear Barry hoodies, wristwatches and even dog tags. Do you have any clothes that feature a recording artist? I have many Beatle and Bruce Springsteen t-shirts.

9) In 2005, Manilow refused to respond when Larry King inquired about his sexuality. Do you think it's rude for interviewers to ask personal questions? Or is it something a performer should expect because it goes with the job? Great. Now I'm distracted by the creepy thought of Manilow having sex. On the one hand, of course everyone has a right to privacy. On the other hand, nobody made Manilow become a singer or appear on the show, and by not answering the question he's sending the message that his sexuality is something to be ashamed of. So I guess I'm firmly on both sides of this issue.

Two drinks and a couple quesadillas

Met my old buddy John for drinks after work. We were the only ones in the bar not watching March Madness. We gossiped about people we know (our friend Kathy, a former coworker from the 1980s who found me on Facebook) and people we don't (Elizabeth Taylor and Andrew Cunanan*). We worried together about our finances and professional futures (nearly two years after being laid off, he's still freelancing).

After two hours, two drinks and a couple quesadillas, we were out of there. I discovered that was long enough to allow me to make bad judgements (cab home for $30 rather than cab to the train for $6). It must be noted that this is not the first time I've exercised bad judgement after being out with John. But it was a good way to start the weekend nevertheless. Time spent with John is almost always a good time. We've been friends for nearly (gulp!) 33 years now and I really treasure the shared history and general, dependable and very welcome feeling of acceptance I get whenever we're together. After a week of sharing an office with three coworkers in close proximity and having to be "on," it's a relief to feel this comfortable being myself.

*I don't suppose you needed to be told we weren't personally intimate with Andrew Cunanan and Elizabeth Taylor, did you?

Friday, March 21, 2014

March Challenge -- Days 20 and 21

Day 20 -- How do you relieve a headache?
If it's a garden variety headache, then migraine formula Tylenol. If it's actually a migraine, then my prescription strength naproxen.

Day 21 -- What's next on your To Be Read list?
I really don't know. The one I'm reading (The Country Girls Trilogy) is a novel, and it's going to take a while. I suspect that when I'm done, I'll be jonesing for non fiction. How's this for eclectic? I'm thinking of Meacham's book on Jefferson or a biography of Doris Day.
Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

Even happier than before

When my friend Tom was laid off last February, I was sad. For me, of course, because I'd miss him.
For the quality of our work, because we had a system down and were quite efficient. But most of all, for him. He was in the midst of planning a wedding! It seemed monumentally unfair.

I had dinner with him this week and am pleased to report he's happy. It's been a tumultuous 13 months -- two freelance jobs, another fulltime job that didn't work out, a wedding and then a honeymoon in Bora Bora (Bora Bora!) and now a new job. But he's come through it all with his spirit in tact, his self confidence strong, and his spirits high. I'm so happy for him.

Looking over the past year, I think we're better off here at work, too. The girl who took over for Tom is not as dear to me as he was, and won't ever be. But her style is actually better suited for our client than Tom's was. The new job he's in uses his strengths more than we did.

So we all lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Challenge -- Day 19

Day 19 --What is your favorite or lucky number?
7, because I once won a prize at a classmate's birthday party by guessing it. I've stuck with it ever since.

Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? After Visiting Friends by Michael Haney. It's a pleasure to read this memoir by a journalist who is following in the footsteps of his father, a Chicago newspaperman who died at age 35 "after visiting friends." The family legend and the published obit just don't make sense to the author and he's on a quest to find out what really happened to the father he lost when he was just six. It's well written and moving and filled with details about Chicago that I recognize and that warm my heart.
• What did you recently finish reading? Top Down by Jim Lehrer. I really didn't like this book very much, whichis surprising because so much emotion is inherently part of the story. It's about a fictional Secret Service agent who made the decision on 11/22/63 -- the plastic bubble top stays down and President Kennedy rides through Dallas in a completely open car. Except that decision wasn't really that fateful, since the bubble top wasn't bullet proof and all the dialog is stilted and few of the characters made any real sense to me. This from a reporter who covered JFK's arrival in Dallas and went on to become half of the world-famous MacNeil/Lehrer Report! I was very disappointed.

• What do you think you’ll read next? The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O'Brien. A novel about a pair of Irish schoolgirls set in the 1940s. I began it a couple weeks ago and was enjoying it. I'll return to it after After Visiting Friends.

To see how others responded, click here.

Adventures in Laundry

I give laundry way too much thought. I hate it, but it's my domestic obsession.

This latest episode began Sunday afternoon. I went down to our shared laundry room (two washers, two dryers) and discovered one of the dryers OOO. When I went to the use the other one, I found the coin slot jammed, leaving this one unusable, as well. AARGH!

So I had to put on makeup and real shoes and drag two loads of damp clothes to the washeteria several blocks up the street. Oh, Joy!

I decided to treat myself to a hot dog and fries from my favorite hot dog stand and was faced with more disappointment. They're closed on Sunday during winter. WINTER? Since when is St. Patrick's Day weekend winter? Since there's a chance of snow in the forecast every day, I guess.

So I went to the premium petstore. If I couldn't get junk food for myself, maybe I could get something super high quality and nutritious for Charlotte. I found a new canned food -- rabbit in gravy. Now I felt bad for Peter Cottontail, but I got over it because the food in the cats' bowls has to appeal to them, not to me. I got home and enthusiastically spooned it out for dinner, splashing myself with rabbit gravy in the process.

Anyone know how to remove rabbit gravy from my favorite sweatshirt?

I do! I do!

I kept the stained areas damp -- first with Shout! stain remover and then with shampoo. The coin slot on one of the dryers was finally repaired and last night I was able to wash it. Twice (once with socks and once with my cotton panties), warm water, each time with detergent and a booster.

My sweatshirt is at least 10 years old but it looks good as new.

Now I'm fixating on what I'll do this weekend if we're still down to one dryer. How many loads will I be able to do? What can I put off for another week? (I'm thinking the towels. I like drying them separately, without fabric softener sheets to hamper their absorbency.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Challenge -- Day 18

Day 18 -- How often do you check items off your bucket list?
I don't have a bucket list. Maybe I should, but I don't.
Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

Teaser Tuesday

Here's how to play this meme.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From After Visiting Friends, by Michael Hainey. It's a memoir of a son trying to get to the bottom of his father's death.
"Family? Secrets? Sometimes I think they are the same thing."

Monday, March 17, 2014

March Challenge -- Day 17

Day 17 -- Do you have a favorite holiday? How do you celebrate? 
Thanksgiving. For the last two years I have celebrated it with my friend John and whoever else he invites. John prides himself on get-togethers that are stress free, easy affairs built around support and acceptance. It's a far cry from the tense family gatherings of my girlhood, and I am most thankful.

Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March Challenge -- Day 16

Day 16 -- What's for breakfast? 

Post Raisin Bran.
Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

Sunday Stealing

The Yeah Meme

Do you have another window or tab open? If so, what are they for? Always! My email and Farmville are open.

Do you like to cook/bake? Not really.

What are you currently listening to? Roseanne on WE-TV. I never watched this show when it was on first-run but I really enjoy it now. Especially John Goodman as Dan and the daughters. I just have to get past how incredibly icky I find Roseanne herself.

How long have you lived in the house you live in? Since August 2001. Easy to remember because it still felt new on 9/11.

Are you tired? No. Lazy, yes, but not tired.

Do you pick your words carefully, or just tend to blurt everything out? Yes. I choose words carefully at work because choosing words is my job. I'm a writer. But in my personal life I'm a blurter.

Are you nice to everyone? No. I was rather rude to the girl at the consignment shop yesterday and I felt really bad about it. I thought she was being officious, but then I realized she's just one of those people with a flat, world-weary tone of voice. I tried to make it up to her. Don't know if I was successful.

Have you ever tripped in public? Ha! I'm such a klutz! I'm proud I got through 2013 without suffering a fall that required antiseptic, bandages or a trip to the ER.

Are you a morning person or a night person? Night.

Is it easier to forgive or forget? I have trouble with both. I suppose I find it easier to forgive.

Is there something that’s recently shocked you? Malaysia Flight #370. I can't stop thinking about it.

Which is harder: walking away from somebody you love or coming back? Walking away.

What were you doing at midnight last night? Asleep.

What color are your eyes? Green.

March Challenge -- Day 15

Day 15 -- Check today's horoscope. Is it at all accurate?

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). Living in the past will rob you of the wonders going on around you today. A Pisces will help you get in touch with the magic around you.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). Living in the past will rob you of the wonders going on around you today. A Pisces will help you get in touch with the magic around you.
SAGITTARIUS. Living in the past will deprive you of the wonders going on around you today. A Pisces will help you get in touch with the magic around you.
I don't know if this reflects my Saturday. Maybe.
I tried something new at breakfast -- salmon benedict. A salmon patty where the ham usually is. It's
more healthful than the conventional eggs benedict but nowhere near as yummy.
Then I dropped some clothes off at the consignment store. I made $70.17 there with my fall/winter clothes. We'll see how I do this spring/summer. I brought fewer pieces over this time, so I'd be happy with $35.
I also went to the Goodwill Sale at Carson's. I turned in six t-shirts that got me TWELVE in-store coupons! New raincoat, jeans, sunglasses, socks, t-shirts and Clinique eye cream, all at least 20% off. I got to support a cause I believe in and spruce up my wardrobe. Win-win.

Does casting off my old clothes and trying a new breakfast entree count as no longer "living in the past?"

My kid sister called last night to tell me the latest about my niece and her roommate/boyfriend. My niece was in tears in the Wal-Mart parking lot because she wants to break up with him but both their names are on the lease. Because I am cool in times of crisis, my sister asked me for advice as to how to handle this. I love my niece and was happy to help. On the other hand, my sister can be rather petulant and selfish. I am trying to walk that fine line of doing what's comfortable but not giving too much away.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). Living in the past will rob you of the wonders going on around you today. A Pisces will help you get in touch with the magic around you.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). Living in the past will rob you of the wonders going on around you today. A Pisces will help you get in touch with the magic around you.

Play the March Challenge along with Kwizgiver.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Property does need some work but could be a beauty"

So says the MLS listing for my mother's home. I think she'd like that. She loved that old ranch so much.

It's been empty for more than a year. It's taken that long for her reverse mortgage to wend its way through the courts. But now the house is up for sale, realtor owned and less than appraised value.

My mother's parents built this house and she moved in when my uncle was in 8th grade and she was a senior in high school. It's the house where she had her tiny wedding reception (20 people) and where she left for her honeymoon. When I was a toddler, my parents bought the house from my grandparents for just $1* and she was home.

Her pride in her yard was enormous. She was never happier than when she was tending that garden.

I was not happy in there. The village is too white-bread. Some damaging things happened to me while I was living in that town and in that house.

But it was her home. It's 3BR (the realtor is calling the big fourth bedroom a family room) and 1.5 BA and it's walking distance to two grammar schools and one junior high. I hope a young family sees the potential in it, buys it, and lives the happy life my mother liked to pretend we had.

Both she and the house deserve that.

*The story is that my grandparents didn't want that big yard anymore, but that doesn't explain why they gave it to my parents. Yes, my mom and dad took over the mortgage, but $1 is a very sweet down payment. I suspect my dad was in financial trouble and his in laws fished him out. But my family thrived on secrets, so I'll never know.

Saturday 9

"The Unicorn" was selected because Monday is St. Patrick's Day. Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) This song was recorded by The Irish Rovers. While it's said that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish, can you honestly claim Irish heritage? A wee bit. My grandma was 1/2 Irish, which makes me 1/8th.

2) According to the 2000 Census, Massachusetts is the state with the largest percentage of residents of Irish descent. Have you ever been to The Bay State? Yes, twice. I really enjoyed it. A charming, historic and very walkable city.  I would love to go back!

3) Other than St. Patrick, what is Ireland famous for? Belleek pottery and china, wool sweaters.

4) St. Patrick's Day is celebrated the world over. They even watch marching bands and wave Irish flags on St. Patrick's Day in Moscow. Does your town have a St. Patrick's Day parade? Puh-leez! I live in Chicago! The river is dyed green, there are Irish dance demonstrations and jig lessons under the Picasso at the Daley Center, and there's a parade through the city.

5) "The wearing o' the green" is one way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Will you wear something green in honor of the day? If I remember. So many celebrations are going on this weekend it may slip my mind that Monday is the actual day.

6) Have you ever had green beer? No, and I'm not interested.

7) Have you ever ordered a Shamrock Shake at McDonald's? Just had my first one at work on Friday! (McDonald's is a client and they sent shakes and apple pies over for Pi Day.)

8) A four-leaf clover is considered good luck. Do you have a lucky charm? Yes, and it's literally a charm. It's small and poorly made, but it depicts the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus. I found it on the carpet as I was waiting to board a recent flight. I fingered it during take off and landing and it really made me feel better.

BTW, I'm a white knuckle flier, and this Malaysia Flight 370 story is frightening and fascinating me. WHAT HAPPENED? Who would kill 239 people that way? Why?

9) Speaking of Lucky Charms, they are magically delicious.  What brand of cereal is in your kitchen right now? Rice Krispies.

Friday, March 14, 2014


This is why I like reading biographies. I always learn something, even if it's not what I expected. For example, I now know Johnny Carson had a lot in common with my Cousin Rose.

No, she doesn't smoke or drink. She's not a night owl and she doesn't have a quick wit. He was not a good Catholic who never missed mass, nor was he fascinated by her passion, genealogy.

But they both suffered through bitter divorces, and were permanently damaged by the experience. This passage, from the biography Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin, has stayed with me since I read it four months ago because it reminds me of Rose:

"Johnny changed during the divorce proceedings, and I don't know if he ever entirely changed back … stormy moments came more frequently, and there was an overall harshness, an impatient intolerance that wasn't there before."

Rose waited a long time to marry and it ended horribly. It's left her sharp-tongued, with her temper always close to the surface. It's what Bushkin saw in Johnny, "an overall harshness" and intolerance.

As hard as it can be to be around her, I imagine that it's harder to be her. I must remember that and stay compassionate.