Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Okay, here we go. How are ya today? I'm OK I guess. My gut's giving me a little grief. But considering how awful my gastrointestinal tract has been so far this year, "a little grief" is a condition I'll gladly take.

Have you ever been so happy you felt invincible? Yes

Would you ever refer to something as ‘bitter sweet’? Yes

Is there a person in this world you don’t think you could ever figure out? Oh, God yes!

When was the last time you were freaked out? Watching an interview with Trump supporters in Texas. Person after person said, "He just says what we feel." REALLY? You feel it's OK to make fun of John McCain's time as a POW? Or to refer to Holy Communion as "my little wine and my little cracker?" Or to cruelly mock a disabled reporter? It would be one thing if they supported Trump in spite of this stuff. Instead it looks like they're voting for it because of it. I find this monumentally disturbing.

Do you learn from ‘every’ mistake you make? I wish I did, but I don't.

Do you sometimes think that you’re too nice? Yes. Especially for the Age of Trump.

Is there something you’re dying to tell someone? Yes.

Do you think you have a unique name? No.

Do you usually try to find the good in people? Yes.

Do you look back on embarrassing moments and laugh about them? Yes.

Have you ever laughed just to save yourself from humiliation? Yes.

What are you doing in 2 hours? Taking a shower and touching up my sorry-looking pedi.

What is the last thing you ate? A little applesauce. (Tummy trouble.)

Do you love your job? I love what I do. I don't necessarily love my job.

When is the last time you showered? Yesterday

Who is the last person you texted? My friend in the Keys.

When is the last time you were in a hospital? February 9. I saw a specialist for my tummy trouble. While I waited for my cab, I was impressed by the charming little gift shop. Sometimes these shops can be rather depressing affairs, but this one was lovingly cared for and the gifties were uplifting. I imagine the items in there brightened many a patient's day, and that made me happy.

The last time you went out to eat, what did you order?
 Coffee shop, Saturday morning, eggs benedict.

Do you tend to have a lot of those moments where you forget something that you wanted to say?
 Good goobies, yes!

How long have you known the last person you text messaged? 20+ years

Will this week be a good one? I hope so. I want it to be.

Anything happen to you within the past month that made you really happy? Of course. I admit that this year has been difficult thus far, but there's always joy to be found. For example, I saw a lovely little movie, Brooklyn, that I wouldn't have gone to see if not for its Oscar nominations. (I love the Oscars, and they're on tonight.)

Do you prefer to take showers at night or in the morning? Morning.

Have you been to New York City?  Yes. I'd go back in a heartbeat if it wasn't so expensive.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Times of Your Life

1) This song is all about memories. How far back can you remember? What's your earliest memory? I remember pressing my hand down on a red leather ottoman. I was using it to steady myself as I stood up. According to my mother, I was just under a year old. We moved right around my first birthday and that chair/ottoman set didn't make the move.

2) The first line is "Good morning, yesterday." What do you remember about yesterday morning? I was mad at myself because I crashed on the sofa. I hate when I do that.

3) This song was originally a 60-second jingle, featured in a commercial for Kodak film. Do you ever use film? Or are all your pictures digital? Digital.

4) Who took the most recent photo of you? It was right after Christmas dinner. I was so happy to be in Key West, on the water with people I love, that I ran into the ocean. My friend snapped the picture.

5) This week's featured artist, Paul Anka, was born in Canada and enjoyed appearing in a made-for-TV Perry Mason movie with fellow Canadian, Raymond Burr. Do you enjoy courtroom dramas? Yes. Lately I've been watching the People vs. OJ Simpson, even though obviously I know show it ends.

6) At 15, Anka won a supermarket contest by collecting the most Campbell soup can wrappers. The prize was a trip to New York. Do you enter contests and sweepstakes? Play the lottery? I've got a couple lottery tickets in my wallet right now that I should check.

7) This year Paul Anka performed throughout Florida (Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Clearwater and Fort Myers). The Sunshine State is a popular vacation destination. Do you have a favorite spot in Florida? I've been to Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Key West. I've enjoyed them all but I've spent the most time in Key West.

8) In 1976, the year this song was on the charts, an earthquake hit China. Have you ever experienced an earthquake? In 2008 there was a 5.2 earthquake here in Chicago. It was a little before dawn, and it startled me awake. I don't know anyone who was injured or suffered any property damage that day.

9) Random question: Do you know CPR? Nope.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

That's quite enough, 2016

This year hasn't been a good one. To borrow from the late, lamented Glenn Frey, each day seems to promise "a heartache tonight." I hope 2016 gets its act together soon, because it's delivered quite enough ick already.

I've been sick. All year. I'm on the mend, which I'm enjoying enormously, but I'm still not well. This has been going on for 62 days now. And I have a colonoscopy to look forward to. I know the procedure is nothing to be worried about, but it's such an icky investment of time. I really resent it. The whole gastrointestinal thing is wearing me out.

 Glenn Frey died. I was saddened not just because I enjoy his work -- and I always have -- but because ulceritive colitis contributed to his death. I really don't like thinking about that these days.

My florist is closing her doors on Friday. Her husband since the 1980s and business partner for the last 24 years is deteriorating rapidly as a result of pulmonary heart disease. She just can't juggle caring for him and keeping the shop open. I worry about her. I'm concerned that once her husband passes and the shock of his loss wears off a bit, she'll miss this little business that they built together. She's losing two of the anchors of her life at once. It makes me very sad.

David Bowie died. Now I admit I never understood his appeal. He struck me as achingly pretentious and his voice was so thin and reedy it almost literally hurt me to listen to it. But that's not the point. A lot of the people around me were great admirers of his, and since I respect their feelings, his unexpected passing caused free floating grief to hang all around me.

Money is on my mind. And I hate worrying about finances. I thought 2016 was gonna be OK. I planned to get a new sofa, finally finish my bathroom, and maybe, just maybe, slip in a spa getaway this year. It's been two years since I treated myself to a solo luxury escape and I really miss it. Anyway, a wrench has been tossed into the works, with the specter of special assessments looming.

Trump worries me. He indicates that there's something very wrong in our
country. I'm trying to inoculate myself against that toxicity with a photo of what's right in our country. 

And, of course, Joey. Though I know I should be grateful that he is comfortable and at peace. And I do know how lucky I was to know him at all.


Baseball is just 39 days away, and I'm always happier when I have my Cubs.

This summer will be busy with nice things. In June, I'm attending my niece's graduation and taking my friend John to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites. My oldest friend is coming in this August for The Fest for Beatle Fans, and that's always fun.

Thinking of the Lads from Liverpool -- and they are seldom far from my thoughts -- it's also helpful to remember that the Beatles were invading us this month 52 years ago. This was #1 on this date in 1964. As with Joey, I know I'm lucky to have the Beatles in my life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

So I'm going through the cafeteria check out line ...

... looking down at my lunch tray as I wait to pay, and I start to cry a little because it hits me that Joey is no longer in the world.

He was a wonderful companion. He was always gentle and, as long as there was a warm place to nap, happy. As I wrote of him back in 2009, when I was preparing for my colonoscopy, "Today my best feline friend has been my big old gray and white tub of guts, Joey. He's been very affectionate and attentive surrounding today's festivities. He has seemed more in tune to why our daily schedule was off and he's been very sweet about it. I've said it before -- Joey may be my dopiest cat, but he's my hero. He has an unfailingly sensitive, positive nature."

Thank you to everyone who commented on my post about his passing. I appreciate and find comfort in your kindness, because this has been very hard.

A TR/Bikini Kill mashup

I know Hillary has had a hard time touching younger women. I suppose I understand it. Younger women weren't there in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. But watching this reminds me she was. Totally present and always working hard within the system (even when the system didn't welcome her).

While I remain deeply ambivalent about HRC in some aspects, I admire her greatly for her ongoing involvement. She's always been, to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, a woman "who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions ..."

Look at the "next up" videos YouTube recommends after you watch this one. They're cruel and overwrought and hysterical. She doesn't deserve it, but she withstands it, and gets up every morning to fight another day.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Farewell to a prince

Thursday night, Joey ate heartily and played catch-the-shoelace with the other cats. Friday night, he greeted me at the door with his tail held high, snarfed down his food, and engaged in a little laser tag. But somehow, between Friday night and Saturday morning, something happened. He took a turn for the worse.

He didn't come into the bedroom to rouse me for breakfast. He didn't even want breakfast. Or dinner. I tried to get him excited by the laser, but he just looked at me with tired eyes. He stayed curled up beside me and enjoyed being petted. But I felt he was slipping away.

Today was worse. I couldn't get him to eat anything. He came to the kitchen when I called him for dinner, because he always tried to please me. But after turning up his nose on three different kinds of food, he turned to leave the kitchen and fell down.

I couldn't believe that the happy old boy who attacked and brought down a shoelace with such gusto was now having a hard time even standing! But he was dealing with a lot -- arthritis, glaucoma, kidney disease and an incurable virus. His body just quit on him.

I bundled him up and took him to the 24-hour emergency vet. If his health was deteriorating this quickly, I was afraid that the night would cause him discomfort and I wanted to spare him that.

The vet and vet tech were kind and sensitive. Joey was given a mild sedative and brought to me in this cat bed. Then they left us alone so I could say goodbye. I don't know if you can tell by this photo, but when I cooed his name he made curly paws. It was his way of letting me know he heard me, he knew I was there, he loved and trusted me. It was an enormously generous gesture for him to make. But he was always an enormously generous soul.

It was an honor to know you, Joey.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Puzzler Meme

What time is it? 10:33 PM, Saturday night

Quick. What’s the first green thing you see? Sofa pillow

Do you like those Sudoku puzzles? I've never done one

Do you own a plaid shirt? No

What’s your favorite kind of pie? Strawberry rhubarb

Have you read a book today? Knocked off a chapter over lunch at the local sandwich shop

Do you like going to museums? Very much

Have you ever been to Washington D.C.? Yes. Three times, and loved it each time. I'm sure I'll go back someday.

Have you ever been to the state of Washington? Nope

Do you like apple juice? Sure

How cold is it outside? Unseasonably warm

Have you ever taken a course in Chemistry? Yes. Had to in order to graduate from high school. I hated it and barely passed.

Do you like to draw? I like to doodle.

What do you put on your french fries? Ketchup

Do you like everything to match? Yes

Do you like mustard? Not especially

Would you ever work at a movie theater? Yes. I think I'd enjoy it. I like the sound of movies and the smell of popcorn.

Do you have a phone charger in your car? No. No car.

Have you ever slept through an alarm? Yes. That's why on mornings when I have a plane or train to catch, I set three alarms.

Do you like pineapple on pizza? Not especially.

Do you like to hold hands? Depends on the other hand

Do you want a tattoo? No

When is the last time you ordered from a catalog? Last month

Do you know anyone who has a collection of old records? That would be me

What’s the name of the gas station you last stopped at? Don't recall because it happens so seldom.

What was the first song you heard today? "Young Turks" by Rod Stewart

Have you ever gotten a magazine subscription as a gift? Yes. I now receive US every week, courtesy of my aunt

What was the last video you watched on YouTube? Yeah, I know I just posted it yesterday. But it is the last video I watched and I do so enjoy it.

Have you ever sacrificed something for someone you love? Yes

Have you ever had your picture in the newspaper? Yes

There's no fool ...

I've seen this with my boss before. He falls into thrall with some of his coworkers. They always look the same: long, straight blonde hair and no bust. The first was The Chocolate Covered Spider. Then it was Blondie McBlonderson. They both quit in January 2015, and he was bereft.

I don't mean to imply that he's sleeping with these women. There were never any affairs. It's just that he's a balding 60 year old in a young person's industry. His college-aged son is having expensive medical and emotional problems. He gets off on being adored by svelte, flaxen-haired 30-somethings.

How do I feel about this? Sometimes I think it's sad/sweet. Sometimes I think it's creepy. Most of the time I think it's none of my business.

But the last couple weeks have been difficult because there's a new blonde in town. And, unlike The Chocolate Covered Spider and Blondie McBlonderson, this one is his boss. Which makes her my boss, too. So I've got to care.

She was hired without much fanfare over the summer. Then, all of a sudden, we got an email saying she was being installed as the top creative on our account, which is one of our agency's largest. An EMAIL! The two men who were co-directors weren't even told in advance that this new younger woman was replacing them.* Nor was my boss told that she was being installed as his immediate supervisor.

And I'd never even seen her. When I asked who she was, I was told, "You've seen her. She's a thin blonde who wears fashion-forward boots all the time." So every time a thirty-something blonde walked by, I'd echo the title of that children's book, Are You My Mother? That's why I shall hereafter refer to her as, "Mommy."

My boss began working closely with two weeks ago. "Mommy says this," and "Mommy wants that." I began imagining her as a brittle ball buster. "This is a new world," my boss would intone ominously. "We have to anticipate what Mommy wants and deliver."

Interestingly, my boss made no attempt to introduce us to Mommy. She remained this behind-the-curtain, larger-than-life presence. And she was getting in the way of me doing my job.

My client wants to be in the mail with a special promotion on May 1. That means it has to be written, designed, approved by the lawyers and ready to go to the printer on April 1. So the client wanted to see at least three concepts on Tuesday of this week.

But because Mommy wasn't going to be in the office on Friday, Monday, or Tuesday, we couldn't deliver. Because, my boss said, Mommy needed to approve everything.

WHAT THE FUCK?!? How big is her ego? She'd rather piss the client off, just to put her imprimatur on work that was begun before she took over the account?

Well, I met Mommy on Friday. It was over wine (she was drinking, I still can't) at Happy Hour. She's very nice, very unassuming, and let it slip that she couldn't have cared less about my project. She told me she was driving to and from the client's downstate offices every day Friday, Monday and Tuesday. It's 135 miles and 2.5 hours each way. She didn't want to stay at a hotel, even though it would have been easier, because she has a toddler and wanted to put him to bed herself. Anyway, she confessed that when she reviewed the creative we developed for my project, she really couldn't see it very well. She was looking at it on her phone when she stopped for gas. "But I gave it a glance because your boss wanted me to."

There's a massive difference between her having to approve everything and her giving it a glance. My boss is obviously working overtime to impress her.

A product of his generation, he doesn't know what to do with her. She's clearly his type, he's obviously attracted to her. And yet she has authority over him. Unlike Blondie and The Chocolate Covered Spider, Mommy is not going to look at him as a sweet and amusing elder statesman. She is rightly going to expect more of him.

And he's spinning out of control. It's too complicated and depressing to detail here, but in his obsession with Mommy he's making my life hell. He sees everything through a Mommy-colored prism. He doesn't care if the client is happy. He doesn't care if we're giving the ones who pay us their money's worth. He wants Mommy's approval. And the sad truth is, Mommy is (rightfully, I think) focused on the high level and doesn't really seem to care what we do down in the weeds.

And so, my boss and I are going to continue to clash. Because I insist on delivering for the client. And I believe that if our contretemps were escalated to Mommy, she'd side with me, because she's a businesswoman and, if our client is happy, our business will grow.

But my boss is spinning out of control and doesn't/can't see that. He's motivated by fear and confusion and sex and he's powerless to stop spinning.

*But they're dicks anyway, so I don't care.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Sixteen Tons (1955)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) 16 tons = 32,000 pounds, because there are 2,000 lbs. to a ton. Without looking it up, do you know how many ounces are in a pound? No. I'm hopeless with this sort of thing.

2) The singer describes himself as having "a mind that's weak and a back that's strong." Think about yourself. Which feels more powerful today, your body or your brain? Brain

3) The poor chap in this song has money troubles. Are you good at sticking to your budget?
No. I'm hopeless with this sort of thing.
4) Tennessee Ernie Ford snapped his fingers as he recorded this song. It's been said that while it's possible to snap your fingers of both hands, the noise is louder with your "dominant hand." (So if you're a rightie, the finger snap will be louder with your right hand.) Try it yourself. Did you find this to be true? Yes.

5) Mr. Ford appeared as "Cousin Ernie" in three episodes of I Love Lucy. What's your all-time favorite sitcom? Friends

6) Tennessee Ernie took the money he made from his performing career and invested in a California cattle ranch. Think back to the last beef your ate. How was it prepared? On Friday I had a Quarter Pounder. I looooooved it. When I was suffering from c. diff, I had a very restricted diet, and it didn't include beef. So this was my first trip to the Golden Arches this year, and I was surprised by how much I savored it. It wasn't just the beef. I got to taste onions and pickles again, too!

7) Mr. Ford passed away at age 72 in 1991. That year, Dr. Seuss also died. What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book? The Man with the Mole on His Nose. OK, it's not a Dr. Seuss book at all, but it gives me an excuse to watch this clip again.

8) Gene Roddenberry also died that year. Mr. Roddenberry is best known as the creator of Star Trek. Who is your favorite Star Trek character? Sulu. I never watched Star Trek, but I enjoy George Takei's Facebook page a lot.

9) Random question: We're having smoothies. What's your favorite? Strawberry banana.


And so it begins

Behold my ballast! On Friday, the pitchers and catchers arrived at Mesa.

His happiness makes me want to cry

My 20 year old cat Joey is falling apart. He's so far sighted and has to literally put his nose into his bowl to find his food. His breath is terrible. He's losing weight at such an accelerated rate I can feel every bone in his spine when I pet him.

He is battling two fatal diseases -- an incurable virus and Stage 3 kidney disease. He is never going to get well. His entire life can now be measured in weeks.

And yet, and yet ... here he is, curled up beside me. He luxuriates in his naps and he loves to be petted. Last night he played laser tag. This evening, he joined in with the other cats as they battled and then captured some shoelaces. While these playtimes are short, they demonstrate that he's still social and isn't isolating himself.

He doesn't seem confused by what's happening, so I believe he understands that his body is failing. Yet his spirit remains joyous. Moment by moment, he's content. He's a dear soul and he's teaching me something about death.

It will be very hard to lose him.

Friday, February 19, 2016

That wasn't pretty

We had a condo association meeting this week. As they always do, this one ended ugly.

Our elevator has needed repair since November 1. It's old, it's creaky. It runs reliably but loudly and slowly. The state inspector refused to license it until repairs are made ... and if they aren't done by March 31, it will be shut down.

Naturally this came up at our meeting. I was happy to learn that it won't take much to bring the elevator up to code. The problem is not mechanical. Our elevator has an outdated pit ladder. Replacing it with a new one would cost less than $750. YEA!

So then the question becomes: If the repair is so affordable and easy, why hasn't it been done yet?

Because our board president is tying the elevator repair to his master plan -- to gut our old, late 1950s-era elevator and replace it with a new one. That will cost close to $25,000. That would require a special assessment $1,000 per unitowner.

I'm not happy about that. The board will not be able to get permits and and construction done before March 31, so we'll still have to purchase and install the ladder required now, just so we can rip it out and throw it away over the summer. That's just dumb. Bad planning, Mr. President.

Also, I live in a very diverse building -- which is the way I like it. We have young marrieds and single working mothers and retirees and interns and ... The median income in our zip code is just under $50,000 annually and that sounds about right for my building. (The national median is just about $52,000.) So I know that coming up with an extra, unexpected $1,000 will be difficult for many of my neighbors.

Still, I was open to the all-new elevator idea. It might make sense to just replace the sucker now, and confidently ride in a car with enhanced lighting and safety features, rather than bringing our deficient, old-school elevator up to code over and over. So while I was leaning toward "no," I was willing to be persuaded.

Unfortunately our board president was just getting started. He also wants us to replace our mailboxes, our intercom system and ... wait for it ... expand the lobby. Which would entail knocking down walls. Which would have a price tag of over $100,000. Which means each unit owner would have to kick in (approximately) $4,600 before December 31.


I was furious.

First of all, that would be a hardship for me. I just ordered a new sofa. I want to finally finish my bathroom this year. If, after the sofa and shower tile, there's any tax refund money left, I'd like to take a spa vacation. This special assessment would put an end to all that. (Except the sofa, because I've already charged it.)

Secondly, there are neighbors for whom this wouldn't be a hardship. It would be an impossibility. They do not have $5,000 just sitting around. Especially not for something that doesn't need to be done.

"What will happen to owners who can't pay the special assessment?" I asked.

Mr. President made a cutting gesture across his throat. "They're out."

I admit I lost it. I said, "People have lived here for decades, and you'd have them evicted over $5,000?" I told him I found that "skin crawly."

He said he only said that "in exuberance." I don't care. The damage has been done.

All I need to do to defeat him is 8 votes. I will get those 8 votes.

Because he is an asshole.

On the way back to my condo, two of my neighbors rather sweetly told me there was no reason to be this upset. "It may not happen, after all ..." and "It can't happen for a long time ..." etc.

I appreciate their kindness, but I disagree. I can think of no better reason to be upset. Our board president wants to sell his unit -- which he bought on auction and paid just $60,000 for -- before the end of 2017 and he wants to make a massive profit. He doesn't care if he does it on the back of his neighbors. That's an ugly, ugly thing.

It makes all the difference in the world

I shall try to convey this without imparting TMI ...

Wednesday and Thursday mornings have been dependably comfortable and normal. That's even after I added fresh fruits (blackberries! strawberries! grapes!) and vegetables.

I long for the days when I take this sort of thing for granted. I don't know when I was infected with c. diff, but the first episode was December 23. That's a loooooong time to be preoccupied with this.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Nine Hours!

I got a lot of sleep last night. Right after scrubbing the tub and watching one of the last days of Downton Abbey, I went to bed. And I slept, more or less straight through, till 8:00 AM! Really, this is noteworthy. I never sleep this much.

I have to remember that I'm really not that healthy. My body is healing from c. diff and PI-IBS. I notice little things, the residual effect of more than a month of a meager diet, like my nails break very easily these days. So maybe my body needs more sleep to heal.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday Stealing


What is your least favorite salad dressing?
I don't like the thin, vinegary ones
What is your least favorite fast food restaurant? Chipotle
What is your favorite sit-down restaurant? I love my little neighborhood coffee shops
On average, what would cause you to flirt with the server? Nothing
What food could you eat every day just to "get along"? You mean, to survive? Chicken soup.
What pizza toppings would make you hurl? None. I mean, I'd rather just remove them with my fingers than puke.
If you're here, order the manicotti
What food is likely to get you "in the mood..."? The manicotti at LaCantina. It's so warm, so smooth ... Sigh.
What is your favorite type of gum to get off your shoe? I'm afraid it's all the same to me.

Number of contacts you'd never let your significant other see on your cell phone? Don't know how to answer this because 1) I don't have a significant other and 2) if I did, I don't know why he'd have an occasion to check my phone anyway.
Number of contacts in your email address book that are exes? None
Do you judge others about the wallpaper on their computer? I note it, but it's certainly not a deal breaker.
Miss you!
What is your favorite technology from the past that is now obsolete? My original, old-school iPod
Do you have stuff on your computer that you'd never want someone to see? Yes

Are you right-handed or left-handed? Right handed
Do you like your smile? It's too gummy
What's your best feature? My eyes
Have you ever had anything removed from your body? Yes
Which of your five senses do you think is keenest? Smell
When was the last time you had a cavity? It's been years
What is the heaviest item you lifted last? 10-lb. jug of litter
Have you ever been knocked unconscious? No

If you could, would you wanna know the day you were going to die? No
Is love for real? Yes
If you could change your first name, what would you change it to? Melinda Moorepark Tentrees
What color do you think looks best on you? Teal
Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake? Yes
Have you ever saved someone's life? Kinda. I went with my friend Kathleen to the hospital when she went into labor with her daughter. At admission, they asked her if she'd eaten in the last four hours. She said "no," but I reminded her of the chicken satay she'd absent mindedly munched on. That little recollection was important in case she needed anesthesia.
Has someone ever saved yours? Not that I know of.

Would you walk naked down a public street for $100,000? No
Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100? Yes
Would you cut off one of your little fingers for $200,000? No
Would you never blog again for $50,000? Yes
Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000? No. Also, magazines don't offer that kind of money for that anymore anyway. Not when you can see free photos of JLaw online.
Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000? No
Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000? No

What is in your left pocket? No pockets
Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house? Carpet
Do you sit or stand in the shower? Stand
Could you live with roommates? No
How many pairs of flip flops do you own? None. I hate that between-the-toes thing
Where were you born? Elgin, IL
Last time you had a run-in with the cops? About 10 years ago, a cop yelled at me for jay walking (control your shock and disappointment)
What do you want to be when you grow up? Taller

Friend you talked to? Barb
Last person you called? Barb
Person you hugged? Barb
All of the above happened at the same meeting. I called to ask if she was running late (she was), then she told me about her health woes and I gave her a hug.

Number? 7
Color? Blue
Season? Autumn

Missing someone? Sorta
 Mood? Unsettled
Listening to? MLK (documentary on CNN)
Watching? See above
Worrying about? My cat Joey. He's very old and has chronic health problems. Yet he seems happy. I aim to keep him that way.

First place you went this morning? Coffee shop
Miss you, too
What can you not wait to do? Eat cheese. My doctor advised me to avoid dairy until the end of the month.
What's the last movie you saw? Brooklyn. (See post below) It's delightful. Go see it.
When was the last time you got caught cheating? It's been a very long time.
Are you a sexy person? Sure, in that I like sex (at least as I recall it)
Now that the survey's (or meme) done what are you going to do? Go to sleep

Now this is more like it

I saw my favorite Oscar movie this afternoon. Brooklyn.

I loved it.

Character driven and affectionate, it had me from the first frames and never let me go. A girl lives in a tiny Irish village that holds no opportunity for her. With her mother's and especially her older sister's support, she heads to America to find her fortune.

She is overwhelmed, of course. But she's a good girl, in every sense of the word, and she gets a lot of support from the other immigrants, the other Catholics, the other young women she encounters along the way.

She faces a moral dilemma during the second half of the movie that broke my heart. I so wanted Ellis to do the right thing! Yet I completely understood her conflict.

What was at stake for Ellis wasn't as big and dramatic as the conflicts portrayed in Carol or The Big Short. Yet in the hands of this director and this cast. Ellis' conflict was far, far more engaging.

See this adorable little gem, any way you can.

Walking the walk

There's an evangelical Free Church in my community that has captured my attention and admiration. For they seem to be more about love than judgement or self promotion. Today, seeing their good works first hand in my neighborhood touched my heart.

It was 17º this fine, bright Saturday. Dangerously cold. Yet many of us still had to get to work, which entails waiting on a freezing el platform. Train stations are also relatively safe places for the homeless to go for shelter.

I stopped by the station to add value to my train pass. And there was the Free Church, handing out Blistex, hot coffee, Hershey's kisses and (best of all) gloves free to anyone who wanted them. Everyone who walked by was encouraged to partake, thereby eliminating embarrassment or stigma felt by anyone who really needed the handout. (They actually thanked me for taking my freebie.) The congregants manning the tables were happy and friendly and full of love.

Slipping my free tube of Blistex into my pocket, I looked around for a sign promoting a cause or an organization. Was this my village at work? The local Dunkin Donuts, perhaps? Finally I asked a gentleman who I should thank.

"Free Church," he said with a smile, squeezing my arm.

WHAT? No address was posted. No times of service advertised. No place to leave a donation. No literature. Just a smile, a greeting and material comfort for all on a frigid morning.

The aid they provided, and the sensitivity they served it with, felt so Christ like to me.

So I took a nap

I'm eating again. YEA! But my gut issues are not yet over.

I've eaten such a bland diet for so long (46 days) that my body has to work very hard to process foods that contain fiber. Thursday I had fresh watermelon. Friday I added a few slices of fresh peach. Saturday I had wheat toast. And no diarrhea. I was happy.

Saturday at about 5:00 I felt like this. Just going to the bathroom made me so tired I took a nap! And half the recommended adult dose of laxative. It seemed weird to take Dulcolax when I'd been battling the opposite problem for so long, but my body seems to need a digestion primer.
The specialist I saw Tuesday told me it would take two weeks for things to get back to normal. It's only been 4 days. I shouldn't expect too much of myself. With PI-IBS, my digestive tract is bruised and needs time. I must be patient.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saturday 9

Love Story

1) The very popular tagline for this movie is, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Here's your chance to rewrite it. "Love means _____________________." Love means being present. Today everyone seems to be multi-tasking all the time. You should focus on the ones you love.

2) The movie was famous for a montage of the lovers frolicking in the snow. Do you enjoy sledding, skating, skiing, snowball fights, snowmen, etc.? Or do you just want spring to hurry up and get here? I'm not against winter. It's just that this one has been so meh. If we aren't going to have crisp, bright days with lots of shiny white snow, then I want spring.

3) In the movie, Oliver asks his father for $5,000. The money is required for wife Jenny's hospital treatment, but Oliver is too proud to tell his father why he needs it. Adjusted for inflation, $5,000 in 1970 is $30,000 today. How much would you be willing to lend a friend or family member without knowing the reason? For me the amount wouldn't depend on the reason. I'd decide based on the borrower's ability to pay it back ... and how long I could comfortably do without it. I wouldn't feel right about charging a friend interest, and I'm not a wealthy woman. Now that I think about it, I'd rather give a smaller gift than a larger loan. That would be easier for me and the friendship.

4) In the movie, Jenny is the daughter of a baker who owns a little shop in Cranston, Rhode Island. Think of the last baked goods you consumed. Were they home made? Did you buy them from a bakery, the grocery store, or a coffee shop, like Starbucks? Yesterday I had a slice of cake in the office cafeteria.

5) In 1970, when the movie was first released, California's First Lady Nancy Reagan said she liked it but was upset to hear Ali MacGraw's character swear. What's the curse word you use most often? (Feel free to spell it with *'s, in case Nancy Reagan stops by Sat. 9). I use the word "fuck" a lot because it's so versatile.

6) Now 75, Ali MacGraw has let her famous hair go gray. She says she's glad to "look like a grown up." Do you feel your age? Or older or younger than your years? I can't believe I'm as old as I am. Some days my body reminds me of the fact.

7) MacGraw and her Love Story co-star Ryan O'Neal are currently on tour in the play, Love Letters, and they're drawing big crowds of fans who remember them in their famous film. Tell us of another movie couple you felt had romantic chemistry. Myrna Loy and William Powell. They were delightful, elegant and made marriage so sexy as Nick and Nora in The Thin Man series.


8) Red is the signature color of Valentine's Day. Are you wearing red right now? Nope. I'm wearing a lilac nightshirt.

9) Because Valentine's Day is such a big day for chocolate ... would you prefer a large, solid milk chocolate heart or a small box of four assorted chocolates? I'd like the assortment, please.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Life is a cabaret, old chum!

"... And as the election season heats up, it's always instructive to think about the consequences of dancing while fast asleep." So ends the Chicago Tribune review of this latest production of Cabaret. I saw it Wednesday night and can't stop thinking about it. It was awesome, entertaining, disturbing and yes, in this Year of Trump, extremely relevant.

It's easy to see how Trump's free-wheeling, "Look, Ma! No hands!" style might be exhilarating in a world where everyone else seems scripted and focus group-tested. And maybe that giddiness allows people to overlook his casual cruelty about those with disabilities, his disrespect and bullying of his opponents, and his demonizing Muslims.

Except that all has real-life, long-ranging and unintended consequences. Once fear and hate are unleashed, they are hard to control.

Here's Joel Grey, Emcee in the film version of Cabaret, performing "If You Could See Her Through My Eyes." It's not subtle, but it's a powerful distillation of the message of the play. I can't stop thinking about it, and I hope -- I really want to believe -- that we're better than this.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Health on the Homefront

Updates on me and Joe.

Joey. Every time he hears my key in the door, he trots on over to greet me, tail held high. Last night I dumped my laptop bag on the tile floor and Joey found this thrilling, right there beside me as I rifled through the contents. And he still enjoys cuddles and meals and snacks. Yes, he's dying. He continues to lose weight and he's quite wobbly at times. But I am satisfied that he is still a happy cat. As long as his life gives him pleasure, I'm determined to let him enjoy it.

Moi. As the specialist advised, I've begun adding foods to my diet, day by day. Wednesday I had fresh vegetables for the first time this year. They were in a big bowl of vegetable soup, and I loved the the peas and celery and spinach. Today I had Lean Cuisine spaghetti with meat sauce (but alas, still no cheese). My first Lean Cuisine of the year. I dearly loved the taste of beef. Hopefully my gut welcomes these additions.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


WWW.WEDNESDAY is back! To participate, and to see how others responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading?  Sinatra: The Chairman by James Kaplan. I just cracked it open Tuesday night at bedtime, so I shall have to reserve comment. But I dearly loved the first volume of Kaplan's epic Sinatra biography, so I'm really looking forward to finishing the story.

2. What did you recently finish reading? White Collar Girl by Renee Rosen. What an original little novel! Set in the Chicago Tribune newsroom of the late 1950s and early 1960s, it takes on sisterhood, changing women's roles, and in a neat but painful twist, resurrects the question raised to the women of Man Men: "Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn?"

It's also the story of a family grappling with loss. And it's a compelling look at the Chicago of those days, and the long-ago Richter scale scandals whose aftershocks we're still feeling today.

Something about it bugged me, though: poor fact checking. 
•  Working on one of her first news stories, our heroine visits a building in the 60610 zip code. Today that's the right code, but zips weren't used in 1959. 
•  One of the characters plays Tennessee Ernie Ford's hit "16 Candles" on the jukebox. The thing of it is, he had a hit with "16 Tons," not "16 Candles."

Disconcerting to encounter such sloppy editing in a story about a meticulous, ambitious girl reporter.

3.  What will you read next? I don't know.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

It's got a name!

Post infectious IBS. That's what I have! It's such a relief to know what it is and how we're going to treat it.

Seems my gut has been battered by my bout with c. diff, leaving my digestive tract super sensitive and out of whack. Instead of being infected or irritated, it's rather bruised. I'm recovering more slowly than the average c. diff sufferer, but this is not unheard of. The doctor says I should add foods back to my diet slowly, take Imodium when I need it, keep up with the probiotic, and within the next two weeks, this should be a memory. YEA!

At that point, just to make sure everything is A-OK, I need to have my second-ever colonoscopy. I am not thrilled by this prospect. Not because of the procedure itself -- it's really much ado about nothing. But because it's a day off work and I have to figure out how to get home from the hospital (as they won't just let me leave and get into a cab).

I'm very glad to have seen the specialist today. It's taken 48 days, three doctors, and four tests (with another in the offing),  but finally I'm on the track to wellness.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Carry A Tune Meme 

Do you own a tablet of any kind?  Kindle Fire. I don't use it very much.

What’s something people always assume about you that isn’t true? That I'm a divorcee. For some reason, "lifelong spinster" is not a designation people assign me.

On a scale of 1-10, how much do elevators scare you? Negative 2. I don't even notice being on elevators anymore.

When you’re upset, do you vent to people or do you keep to yourself? Yes. I mean, I find both therapeutic.
Have you ever watched a meteor shower? No.

 Do you tend to put things off until the last minute? Yes

How do you react to random strangers suddenly trying to make conversation with you? With trepidation.

Do you have a lucky number? 7

Would you go out to dinner with Oprah? Yes, because she'd buy.

Did you ever play sports? No

Do you feel guilty if you throw food away? Yes

Do you think you could make it as a baker? No

Are you one of those people who are wearing scarves with everything? No

Have you ever been in a castle? Yes
When you were little, did you ever play with Playdoh? Of course!

Would you rather write a mystery or love story? How about a mystery with a compelling romantic angle? Those are the best.

Tell me about your worst fashion mistake: In the 1980s I wore too much eye makeup and too much neon. The 1980s were all about "too much."

Do you hate it when people smoke around you? Yes.

How are you wearing your hair right now? Every which way. I just got out of bed.
When’s the last time you were sick? I'm currently sick. Battling a rather tenacious stomach ailment.

Would you rather have OJ or milk with your breakfast? Juice! Though with my bland diet, I'm not allowed either. Which makes me sad.
What were you doing thirty minutes ago? Touching up my pedi. It's looking rough.

Though it looks more red on my shirt
Do you own any school related clothing articles? My niece just finished at CIM (Culinary Institute of Michigan) and during her time there I've collected a couple school-branded shirts and an umbrella.
Would you rather call people or have them call you? I'd rather call them.

Can you carry a tune? Not even in a bucket

Who was the last person who unexpectedly texted you? My friend Mindy

Who do you text the most? Probably coworkers. Usually saying, "I'm running late but I'm on my way!"

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Not even the lead story

On Thursday, an entire family was found dead in this very ordinary looking bungalow. Six people snuffed out. Two were children.

At first the rumor was that it was a murder- suicide. On Friday, the coroner confirmed that every member of this family had been murdered, no signs of suicide.

The murderers are still out there. So far, no suspects or "persons of interest" have been mentioned by the police.

This evening, it wasn't the top news story. It wasn't even the top crime story. Two people were shot this afternoon on bucolic sounding Cypress Drive in suburban Bolingbrook and two Gary high school football players were shot this evening.

Dear God! We're now living in a world where six murders in one household can be old news in less than 72 hours. I don't know what to do with all my disgust and horror.

I did plenty of nothin'

Every weekend I intend to accomplish soooo much. And today, I did none of it. (OK, I have done laundry and dishes and grocery shopped, but that doesn't begin to make a dent in the mess that is my condo.)

Usually when I'm this lazy, I get mad at myself. But not today. Because most of today I spent observing Joey. After being my fur buddy for 17 years, I feel like I owe him this level of affection and attention as his life ends.

He stares a lot, because I don't think he can see well anymore. He wobbles as he gets up or settles in, because of his debilitating arthritis. He sleeps a lot, but then even as a young gun he liked his naps. But he doesn't get on furniture anymore unless I put him there. No more jumping for Joe.

At about 1:00 today, I'd decided that it was time to say good bye. I was going to call the vet and make an appointment to put him down on Tuesday. And then something funny happened ...

I took my jewelry off, looping my rings onto my watchband for safekeeping. When they clanged together, Joey brightened and slapped at the watch. I got out the laser pointer and damn if he didn't chase it for a moment. So his life does still have joy in it. And I don't think he would move like that if he was in pain.

So I'm not putting him down just yet. I have quit giving him his blood pressure/vision meds. As I said, I think his vision is gone already and getting dosed frightens him. The sad truth is that he's not going to live much longer, with the medicine or without, so let's spare each other that.