Sunday, May 20, 2018

When the old reliables make me sad ...

Two of the things that I can depend on to cheer me up are failing me, and consequently my mood is dark.

1) Books. I began reading Robert Kennedy: A Raging Spirit, the biography by Chris Matthews. I was appreciating, if not enjoying, it. Bobby was just 42 when he was murdered, and so there's a pervasive sadness to this book. When he marries and begins his family, you realize his life is already half over, and that his brood will grow up fatherless. That's just what made me sad on a personal level. What the country lost when we lost him 50 years ago -- a leader who had the capacity to evolve and reach out to those in pain, regardless of their socioeconomic status -- makes me sad for all of us.

Then I lost the book. It's gone. Just gone. I think I left it on the train, or maybe in the cab, when I was ferrying a ton of personal stuff home from the office and the cord on my cart broke. I'm so angry at myself for this.

So I picked up a book I'd long been meaning to read: The Things They Carried. About the boys who fought the war in Vietnam. I found it moving to the point of painful. My favorite uncle a private in Vietnam. I hate thinking of him experiencing what I'm reading. He was just 20 when he was over there.

What's even more resonant: I found out after he died that he kept the letters I wrote to him. My chatty, scrawled letters about what mattered in my 9-year-old life -- Batman, school and the new swingset in the back yard -- so amused him, and maybe comforted him, that he carried them with him in Vietnam and even retained him with his personal papers. My mom found these letters (from me, not my grandmother or my sister or any of his girlfriends, just me) and returned them to me after he died. My careless and carefree self helped him cope when he was in hell. Just writing this makes me tear up.

So I think I'll put The Things They Carried away for a while. I can't deal with it right now.

2) Cats. See post below.

I've got to shake these blues!

I can't save them all

My relentless knee ache is now just a twinge. I'm so grateful, I've been babying it a bit. Instead of taking the backstairs up from the laundry room, I used the elevator. To get there, I had to go and cut through the parking area. It was there that I saw the cat.

The actual cat was a grey long hair
She raced under a car when she heard my footsteps. I called to her, trying to see if she had tags. She wasn't having it.

I talked to her for a moment. I asked her if she was lost, if she was someone's little girl, but she just stared out at me.

I tried to think of what I could do to help her. Reynaldo is now a senior citizen (14 years old) and Connie's health is already compromised, so I have to be careful adding another cat to their sphere. They are, after all, my first responsibility.

I thought of catching her and keeping her secluded in the den, but I have plants in there now. I could keep her in a carrier. She'd be safe and dry. But it was Saturday night. The vet wouldn't be open until Monday. I couldn't do that to her for more than 24 hours. She's an adult cat, not a kitten. She needs to be able to move comfortably over that period.

Also, I'd have to contact my vet. Will they check for a microchip and then hold her until her owner arrives? Or would I have to take her to the animal shelter? Since it was Saturday evening, not Friday evening, I know I would have to wait until Monday to get answers. Can I afford to take Monday off?

By the time I dropped one load of laundry off and returned with another, she was gone.

I hurt for her. Hiding under cars is no way for the descendant of Egyptian gods to live! She shouldn't be scared and chilly and possibly hungry and thirsty.

I wish I could have helped. But here's the sobering reminder: according to the ASPCA, 1.4 million cats are euthanized each year. That doesn't count runaways and strays who die outside and alone as a result of cars, abuse, starvation or illness. The cat under the car was just one of millions who need our help.

It's supposed to rain off and on today, tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Poor Kitty.

I just have to take solace in the fact that I keep Reynaldo (once a stray kitten) and Connie (rescued from a hoarder) safe and happy and dry. They know they are loved. I send money every month to Tree House Animal Society and Harmony House for Cats. I should do more, I know, but it's not like I don't do anything.

That didn't go as I expected

The last few mornings, I've actually awakened without crushing worry. My knee suddenly no longer aches, and I had decided to do a cash-out refinance on my mortgage. Yes, my mortgage payment would go up a couple hundred dollars each month, but I could use the money to pay off a credit card, saving me $200 every month, and then use the rest to finally (FINALLY!) finish my tragic bathroom.

Turns out that refi is only a little more accessible than winning the lottery.

I could have done this six months ago. I could have gotten cash out of my home and even enjoyed a bigger tax refund. But I fucked up. This isn't six months ago. This is May 2018. Laws have changed. Interest rates are higher. It's more complicated now and nowhere near as lucrative.

I missed it. I missed relief to my financial woes and I'm trying not to hate myself.

I applied for a home equity line of credit. Nowhere near as attractive or as effective. I will use it sparingly, monitor interest rates and hope that they don't climb. (I'm not optimistic, though.)

I am my own worst enemy.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life! (1982)

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

1) This song is about a girl who is heartbroken about a boy who won't take her calls. Do you screen your calls, deciding to let some go to voicemail? Or do you pick up whenever you possibly can? (We're referring to calls from people you know.) If you called on one of my landlines (work or home) and I recognize your number, I'll pick up. I never answer my cell, and I never check my cellphone voicemail. I do check my texts all the time, though.

2) When she was feeling her lowest, she heard a song on the radio that lifted her spirits. What's the last thing you heard on the radio? "Groovin'" by the Rascals.

3) This song includes the sound of squeaky wheels, indicating a sudden stop and perhaps a near-miss. Tell us about your most recent traffic mishap. I don't drive, and when I'm in a car, I tend to be in the backseat with my nose in a book or my eyes on my phone. So if I've been in a near-miss recently, I missed it.

4) "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life!" is featured in the 2002 video game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Do you spend much time on video games? I spend too much time on Farmville.

5) This week's featured artist, Indeep, was a trio. We've had many groups, some duos and tons of solo artists on Saturday 9, but not many trios. Can you name another popular trio? Diana Ross and the Supremes

Stop! In the Name of Love

6) The last time Indeep performed together was in 1997, at a New Year's Eve show in Paris for French TV. Have you celebrated a holiday in another land? Nope

7) Britain's Royal Family is in the news this weekend, with attention centered on the nuptials. The Royals made news in 1982, as well. When this song was popular, Michael Fagan gained momentary fame by breaking into Buckingham Palace. He found The Royal Bedroom, where he came face-to-face with the Queen. He reports that Queen Elizabeth sleeps in a nightie that "reached down to her knees." What did you wear to bed last night? My Elvis nightshirt. England may have The Queen, but we claim The King.

8)  In 1982, you could buy a loaf of white bread for 50¢. Today, the national average price for that loaf of bread is more than $2.50. When you go grocery shopping, do you comparison shop and make purchases at more than one store? Or do you prefer one-stop shopping? I shop at different stores, but not for price, for the products. I enjoy shopping at Trader Joe's, but they don't carry some of the brands I like. I don't enjoy Whole Foods at all, but they carry some cleaning products I like. If I can't get it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, I'll probably pick it up at Target.

9) Random question: What's the first famous quote that comes to your mind? "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Mr. Lincoln

Diana's Boys arrive at the Church

I believe she's sees, and she's proud.

Meghan's mother looks so proud, too. And as I watched Charles chat with Meghan as he walked her up the aisle, he looked different to me. He was happy.



Friday, May 18, 2018

Where's Poppa?

Naturally, I've been devouring news about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I have watched Diana's Boys grow up, and think Princes William and Harry have matured into outstanding young men. I am sure that their mother is looking down, very proud.

But there's drama involved in the run up to The Big Event. Courtesy of Meghan's dad and stepsiblings. The bride had planned on walking down the aisle on the arm of her father, but it's not going to happen. He's not coming. He's had heart problems, paparazzi problems, kid problems. It's easy to imagine how disappointing it is for Meghan, and how difficult to deal with it in the public spotlight.

She reminds me of another bride, and a wedding that took place before I was born. In September, 1953, 24-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier was marrying America's most eligible bachelor, the junior Senator from Massachusetts. It was the social event of the year -- attended by 900 guests from Hollywood, Washington, New York and Newport society, recorded by newspapers, major newsmagazines and even newsreels.

Jackie was supposed to walk down the aisle escorted by her beloved father. Handsome, rakish "Black Jack" Bouvier had been preparing for his moment in the spotlight. He lost weight, bought a sunlamp, and most importantly, gave up hard liquor. He wanted to make his daughter proud.

But it was obvious to him that he was, as he confided to a friend, "in enemy territory." The formidable Kennedy clan was insulated. It wasn't that they made Black Jack feel unwelcome, it's just that he was irrelevant to them. Their prince wasn't joining the Bouvier family, Jackie was becoming a Kennedy.

Jackie's mother, Black Jack's ex-wife, was a different story. Janet was still bitter and furious about his philandering and the humiliation and scandal of their 1940 divorce. Some felt her best revenge was remarrying Hugh Auchincloss, the millionaire heir to Standard Oil. But that didn't assuage her anger. She really didn't want Bouvier in the spotlight. It infuriated her that her romantic and headstrong daughter was so insistent that he be front and center.

Janet couldn't control Jackie, but she could control the proceedings. Jackie was distracted by drama about the wedding and bridesmaid dresses -- 10 days before the wedding, the dressmaker's studio flooded, the dresses were ruined and had to be recreated -- and left everything regarding the rehearsal dinner and other pre-wedding activities to her mother. And Janet uninvited Jack Bouvier, excluding him from everything.

So there he was, in Newport, alone in his hotel room. Bored and embarrassed. Vulnerable. Someone saw to it that an endless stream of champagne was sent to his room. History points to Janet. But to be fair, no one made Jack Bouvier drink it.

Drink it he did. He never showed up at the church. Jackie's brother-in-law, Michael Canfield, was dispatched to the hotel to fetch him, but came back alone, reporting that Black Jack was unable to even get out of bed or get dressed.

Jackie was desolate. Pictures of her, entering the church on her stepfather's arm, give us a girl who looks more tearful than joyous.

As one who has spent a lifetime studying Jackie, I find her 1953 wedding day performance fascinating. It's such a preview of her life to come. Once she became a Kennedy, she delivered. I love this shot of the couple leaving the church. Now a public figure, facing the cameras while police hold back a crowd behind her, she puts on a happy face.

I'm sure that Saturday, Meghan Markle will perform, too. She's older than Jackie was, and an actress by trade. But I suspect that, like Jackie, she will have wished things were different and her father could walk her down the aisle. And most of all, that all this private, painful family drama didn't play out in the public eye.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Close, but no cigar

I found myself really, really wishing I was a guy today. But Freud was wrong. It was not because I want to pee standing up.

I really struggled with a cart carrying a box of personal belongings home from the office. While I was pulling it, I was fine. But getting it onto the train was a challenge, and I was panicked worrying about how to get it off the train.

A 30-something man was enjoying a beer with a buddy in the train car's vestibule and he mentioned that he only had a 10 minute ride. "Are you getting off at my stop?" I asked. He said yes, and then he said he'd be happy to help me with the cart.

When the train doors opened, he just hoisted the cart I'd been battling. Just casually lifted it to chest level, and then walked effortlessly down the three steps, as I followed with his beer can.

Such upper body strength, so obviously taken for granted it's been his for decades. It was both awesome and humbling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Lisa Lott is running for Superior Court Judge!

I know because I sent postcards out on her behalf yesterday. I'm doing this as part of the Postcards to Voters program. More than 20,000 of us, all across the US, have volunteered to hand write cards to voters, encouraging our fellow citizens to get out there and vote Democratic.

I love this idea because it's got that personal touch. In our email/text world, no one gets anything that's written in cursive anymore. I'm sure that the fact that someone sat down and put pen to paper will have an impact on voters. Also, this feels very comfortable for me. Back in 2004, I hand wrote dozens of letters to Iowa Caucus voters on behalf of John Kerry's presidential campaign.*

And most of all, I mean ... TRUMP! In order to minimize his impact and eventually defeat him, we need Democrats to prevail up and down the ballot. I refuse to be one of those people who just shakes her fist at the TV. It's time for me to do something. And this is what I know how to do.

Thanks to BookMama for the gift of mobilization. Doing this makes me happy.

PS If you live in Athens and want to learn more about Lisa Lott, click here.

*I still remember much of what I wrote. Each letter began: "You Iowa voters enjoy an opportunity we don't have here in Illinois. You live in an early caucus state, so your voices get heard months before our will ..."

Sunday, May 13, 2018

In honor of my mother

This post, from 2009, recounts the last happy Mother's Day I spent with my mom. Following this spring Sunday, she seemed to get more vague, more stubborn, and sicker. Our relationship became harder and harder for me, as I worked hard not to let my frustrations with her and my sisters darken our last years together. That was exhausting for me. I'd rather revisit this than all that. Because this is the mommy I miss.

A Special Lunch for Mommy & Me

Today we celebrated Mother's Day. Because of my mom's recent illness, the day felt especially poignant and meaningful.

She loves, LOVES Barack Obama, often beginning her comments about him with, "Not since JFK … " So I got her the Time Magazine coffee table book about his campaign and inauguration, and her very own Barack Obama action figure. I also gave her a Subway gift card so she can treat my niece and nephew to lunch next time they come over. (Subway is several blocks up the street, so it will be good exercise for my mom and healthy for the kids.)

Then we went to a special Mother's Day brunch. It was fancier than her usual lunch haunts, with free mimosas for both of us (I drank hers while she had decaf) and a pair of complementary roses for her. She went up to the buffet twice -- taking pork and dumplings the first trip and salmon and salad the second time. For dessert, we both had strawberry shortcake. It was great to see her eat and eat AND EAT!!! (My sister's family took her out to dinner yesterday, too!)

We talked a lot. When she was really sick and kind of out of it, she referred to everyone's pet (hers, mine, my sister's, my uncle's) by the name of her girlhood cat. She didn't remember doing that, but it didn't surprise her. She explained how much that cat meant to her, and why. I also heard tales about the other pets she and my uncle had while growing up.

Then we talked frankly about her illness. She has COPD and emphysema. She gets it now. She will always have to take special care of herself now, from here on out. Every day. It doesn't have to stop her from doing things she wants to do, but she will have to change her day-to-day life. She explained that she was in denial at first. She thought that if she resisted what the doctors told her, she wouldn't be letting her condition get to her. She realizes now it was crazy, but she was being honest and I appreciate that. It explains so much about her frustrating behavior after she came home from the hospital.

Most of all, she promised that we would do this again next year. That was her wonderful gift to me, even though Mother's Day is her day.

Sunday Stealing

Mary's Questions

If you could, where would you max out a credit card? With the handyman! I'd get new windows, finish the bathroom and replace the carpet.

Why do you like the music you listen to?
The Beatles. It's always been the Beatles.

My soul sister, February 1964

What are your favorite colors?
Blue. The Cubs wear blue, you know.

Do you collect anything? Books that I've read, or want to read, or want to read again.

What's your dream job?
Something with less stress. I don't know why, but I can see myself at the pet supplies store in the next town. I could wear a green smock. I could direct you to the chew toys or the fish and coral food. I could ring up your jug of kitty litter.

Favorite cosmetics brands: It hasn't been by design, but I notice that I've just so happened to buy a lot of Almay lately.

 Favorite scents:
I like spicy, like cinnamon.

 Favorite flavors:
Lately I've become obsessed with graham crackers. What flavor is that?

 Favorite magazines:
Allure and Glamour

 Favorite piece of jewelry:
My infinity ring.

 Favorite Holiday:

 Favorite season:

 Coffee or tea? Tea

Where would you go on vacation if you could go anywhere? I'd like to go to the TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles.

 What kind of geek are you?
A movie geek. See post below.

Oh, I love her!

I am speaking of the luminous Carole Lombard. She was completely unique. No one delivered a line like Lombard. She spoke fast and had a special way of making each line seem like it just occurred to her. And, oh, she was funny. She made both silly and smart seem so sexy and glamorous.

My movie group saw Hands Across the Table last night. A hit in 1935, during The Depression, Lombard plays Regi. She's a working girl, a manicurist in a luxury hotel. She comes from poverty, and working for the wealthy guests just reminds her of the gap between the haves and the have nots. She determines that she's going to marry rich. She admits that makes her "a heel," but so be it. At least she's honest about it.

One afternoon, a handsome young man with a numeral after his name comes in for a manicure. As she holds his hands, their eyes lock, and chemistry erupts all over the place. So much so that he leaves the salon with six bandaged fingertips ... and a date for that night. Regi's gal pal warns her that men like Theodore Drew III expect their dinner companions to behave in a certain way. Her response?


So it turns out the handsome millionaire is really all Social Register and no bank account. Therefore it doesn't matter how attracted they are. They can't fall in love because if they do, they will derail their grand plans to marry money.

My favorite scenes in the movie are between Regi and Allen (Ralph Bellamy). He's a millionaire who
lives in the hotel and gets a manicure a week (then two or three) right there in his luxury suite. He admires and appreciates Regi, but she doesn't look at him as matrimonial material because he's in a wheelchair. This frees her to be herself with him. I know the filmmakers think this movie has a happy ending, but it left me a little sad. I liked Regi. I liked Allen. How wonderful if they could have lived out there lives together in affection and respect, no artifice. Of course, as this movie makes clear in subtle 1935 ways, no intercourse and no babies. There are ways they could have enjoyed one another sensually, and they could have adopted. (I mean, it was 1935! Imagine all the children who needed homes!) But here I am, looking at the Depression with a Baby Boomer's sensibility.

Still I loved it. And it was good to be with my movie group again. Talking classic movies in a room full of film lovers is sublime!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Saturday 9

Mother and Child Reunion

1) The title of this song, "Mother and Child Reunion," came from a dish Paul Simon had at a Chinese restaurant. "Mother and Child Reunion" was chicken and egg drop soup. When did you last eat chicken? Thursday night I had barbecue chicken breast, courtesy of Trader Joe's. Not that you asked, but I had a side of corn and a single scoop of chocolate ice cream for dessert.

2) Paul Simon's mother, Belle, was an English teacher Monday through Friday and then gave piano lessons on the weekends. Have you ever worked more than one job?
Right after high school, I augmented my secretarial salary by working on weekends as a receptionist in a real estate office. I was saving for a trip to Europe and to get my own apartment.

3) Mother Winters taught Sam to always dispose of the dry cleaning bag, as storing clothes in the bag may discolor the fabric. Do you have any useful household hints to pass along? If you want your towels and wash clothes to be more absorbent, skip the fabric softener. Sure, Downey or Bounce will leave them soft and fluffy, but fabric softener leaves behind a coating that inhibits absorption.

4) Have you put away your winter clothes yet? Maybe next weekend.
5) Flowers and plants are popular on Mother's Day. How is your yard or garden? Is it green and/or blooming? No flowers or bushes in the front yard. Just grass and a tree. The tree looks better than the lawn just now.

6) In the 1600's, the British began celebrating "Mothering Sunday." Children presented flowers to their mothers after Sunday service. When did you last place flowers in a vase? Where they store-bought, or picked from someone's garden? I bought a nice little bouquet of carnations and mums from Walgreen's for $7.99. They're in a vase on my desk, brightening my office.

7) The German word for "mother" is "mutter." What other German words do you know? Schadenfreude
8) When Sam was a teen, her mother used to scold her for monopolizing the family landline. With the advent of cell phones, do you think parents and children still clash over telephone etiquette? Sure. Maybe going over your data limit or using your phone at the table.

9) To celebrate Mother's Day, Sam is giving away her mother's favorite, Hershey Bars! Would you prefer classic milk chocolate, dark chocolate or milk chocolate with almonds?

Friday, May 11, 2018

History was made, and I missed it!

My friend Kathy fell into excellent seats for Wednesday's Cub and offered to take me as her "date." Alas, I was unable to go because we're suddenly slammed at work. And somehow, as always when Kathy is at the center of things, there was attendant drama. How would we get to the park? Where would she park? If there was a rain delay, would she be able to get to her evening appointment in time? More than 41,000 people get to and from The Friendly Confines for every game. It isn't as big a production for any of them as it always is for Kathy!

Isn't he lovely? Isn't he wonderful?
Still, I really appreciated that as soon as she got the tickets, she thought of me. And I really wish I could have gone because it was a Cub game that will be remembered always.

Kris Bryant hit his 100th home run! Unlikely and charmingly enough, three years to the date after his first home run. He's also the youngest Cub to ever enter this exclusive club ... younger even than the loved and legendary Ernie Banks!

Aware of his role model status, KB referred to achieving this milestone as "special" and said he was, "really dang happy."

Wednesday, May 09, 2018


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading?  
Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit by Chris Matthews. I'm rather early in -- WWII just started -- but I can say this is a unique biography. There's little that's new.* But it's emotionally resonant. Chris Matthews uses emotion and sentiment to emphasize the difference between brothers Jack and Bobby. For example, Bobby was tender and solicitous to his mother, Rose, but was intimidated by his father, Joe, whose approval he craved. Jack was dismissive of the mother he found cold and judgemental, while he loved and amused his powerful father. These two had the same parents, but their experiences within the family were radically different. It explains their divergent personalities and styles, but also their bond.

This is my third Chris Matthews book and I am surprised again by what a graceful writer he is. I enjoy his MSNBC show, Hardball, but I'd never describe his TV persona as "graceful."

2. What did you recently finish reading?   
Kickback: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins. Spenser leaves Boston for the fictional town of Blackburn, MA. It's a once thriving but now economically depressed mill town, one that's shrunk to the point where everyone knows everyone else's business. The atmosphere is paranoid and claustrophobic as Spenser investigates why so many of the town's young people end up in a draconian juvenile detention facility. Why didn't the kids get representation in court? Why doesn't the juvenile hall allow the kids contact with their families? Who runs the place ... and who profits? Who doesn't want our hero snooping, and how far will they go to stop Spenser?

It's a good mystery. The suspense builds nicely and it's good to be in the company of the usual cast of characters (Henry, Hawk, Rita, Belson/Quirk, Pearl and Susan are all present and accounted for).

3.  What will you read next?  
Maybe another biography? Or a mystery. My TBR pile is stacked dauntingly high with both.

*I didn't know that Dave Hackett, Bobby's prep school roommate and lifelong friend, once attended Exeter for a semester. Hackett so impressed classmate John Knowles that Dave became the basis for Phineas in A Separate Peace.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Sunday Stealing

Sleepy Rambles Survey

1.   Would you ever try Fear Factor for one million dollars? Why or why not? Sure. I don't think it's on anymore, so not many people would know of my humiliation. And $1,000,000 would be nice.
2.   If you use hair spray, what brand do you use the most? 
Rave 4x Mega. On sale at CVS for less than $3/can.

3.   Is "Catcher in the Rye" in your library, by any chance?
If you mean my personal library, no. I'm sure the local public library has more than one copy.
5.  What is the best thing about a Barbie doll?
The fantasies she inspired. My Barbie and I had some terrific adventures.

I loved my Barbie

6.   Cherry or peanut ice cream? If those are my only choices, I'll go with cherry.

7.   From one to ten, how big of a movie buff are you?
8. I love movies more in theory these days than in practice.

8.  Who is a celebrity you think will never get into trouble?
Tom Hanks

9.  What is a museum you would like to go to?
I'd love to go back to The Smithsonian.

10.  Personally, do you look better with short hair or long hair?
Short. Even when I'm thin, my face is very round. Long hair just exacerbates that.

11.  What is the first thing you think of when I say ‘Jack’?
President Kennedy

12.  What do (or did) you call your grandparents?
Grandma and Grandpa
13.  What color do you usually paint your nails?
Lately it's been Revlon Optimistic.

Also on sale at CVS

14.  What would be a cool earring design? My aunt gave me some cool spirals for my birthday but they dangle, and I don't like dangling earrings. If I could find a nice, small compact spiral with a stud back, I'd be happy.
15.  Besides nightmares, what is the scariest thing about sleeping?
I don't think of sleeping as especially scary. Maybe missing the alarm?

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Standing on the Corner (1956)

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

1) In this song, four friends congregate on Main Street to look longingly at pretty girls. In your town, where is the best place for people watching? There's a bench on the corner in the "main drag" of my neighborhood. From there you can see the parking lot/bike rack, the sandwich shop, the running store, and the former hat shop that will soon be a stationery store. It's just up the street from the bank and law/medical offices, the movie theater, restaurants, bakery, book store and other shops. I think eventually everyone in town walks past that bench.

2) This song was written for the Broadway musical, The Most Happy Fella. Who is the happiest person you know? That would be Mindy. She always sees the best in everyone. I'm glad that her both of her sons are now on track, and that she was able to enjoy what looked like a terrific vacation with her oldest son (who now works in Europe), his girlfriend, and husband as they toured Italy. She deserves only good things because she's such a happy, positive person.

3) The members of The Four Lads met at Toronto's St. Michael's Choir School. Growing up, did you attend parochial or public school? I was a public.

4) The Four Lads always wore jackets and ties when they performed. Do you enjoying dressing up? Or would you rather keep it casual? I HATE DRESSING UP! I enjoy looking at other people when they're all duded up (I especially like seeing men in ties and jackets), but I don't enjoy it for myself.

5) While this song was a hit for The Four Lads, they were completely overshadowed in 1956 by Elvis Presley and "Heartbreak Hotel." Who do you think dominates today's music scene? Queen Bey. I'm not a fan, but I certainly don't begrudge Beyonce her talent and influence.

6) The Wizard of Oz aired on TV for the first time in 1956. Sam was never crazy about those flying monkeys. Tell us about something that frightened you when you were a kid. The theme of Perry Mason. I would literally run away from the TV when I heard this.


7) What scares you now? That a portion of the country will agree that Donald Trump is somehow above the law, and our President will force a Constitutional crisis and tear the nation apart. I don't believe that will happen. I lived through Watergate and I've seen our system work. But I fear Mr. Trump. I mean, just this week we learned that in the run-up to the 2016 election he stood by a fraudulent health disclosure form and paid a porn star for her silence. He lies, decries "fake news," and somehow 1/3 of the country believes. Scary.

8) Since this week's song is about pretty girls: 1956's Miss America was Sharon Ritchie of Colorado. Today Colorado has the distinction of being the home of more microbreweries than any other state in the union. Which are you most particular about -- your beer, your wine, or your coffee? Beer, I guess, because I hate coffee and can no longer drink wine. I'm particular about my beer, but my tastes are lowbrow. I prefer Miller Lite. I'll take Bud Lite if I have to. Not crazy about the premium light beers.

I'm on the left
9) Random question: We all have small, irritating habits, like soup slurping or not replacing the cap on the toothpaste. What's your nasty little habit? I'm a slob. Example: We were all eating donuts at our desks, and yet the floor around my chair had crumbs. No one else's did. Just mine. I'm 100% Oscar.

Home soon!

I got some good news from Napoleon and Caleb.  Randi will soon be released from the hospital! Cancer free and infection free. She'll have to use a wheelchair for a few weeks -- her doctors want her to be very careful about exertion and her heart until she's stronger -- but she'll be home. Good for her! And good for Napoleon and Caleb, who have been stag long enough.

Really, this has been exhausting for him. He works overnights, driving a forklift in a food distribution warehouse. He's doing better there, working enough hours for benefits. (Yea!) Then he panhandles for much-needed extra cash. Then he visits his wife in the hospital. It's a lot of time on public transportation and very little time sleeping.

But I'm happy to see his hard work paying off. At first, when he began working at the warehouse, I thought they were taking advantage of him. They didn't want to give him more than 20 hours/week, no matter how willing he was, because they didn't want to deal with health insurance or the union. But now they appreciate what a hard worker he is. They not only have upped his hours, his boss allows him to bring Napoleon to work (safely stowed in his carrier).

I can't get over what a bruiser Napoleon has become. Really, he's a very big cat. This month he turns one year old. Broad across the chest, with a big head, he's a formidable and healthy boy. I'm sure he weighs 12 lbs. or more. His momcat and littermates are all dead, but he has found comfort and care with Caleb and Randi.


Representative of my abode
My boss showed us the real estate listing for his house. It's gorgeous! And it left me feeling bad about my home.

I'm overrun with clutter. A lot of it is from the office. We're moving early in June, and much of the stuff is what won't make the move. But even more of it is stuff I haven't gone through and decided to keep, donate or toss.

My carpet is a mess. Dirty and torn up by Miss Connie, who just can't keep to her scratching post. My bathroom is still half done, and there's a problem with my window sills that will require handyman attention.

And what did I do about all this today? Nothing. I got home early, watched the Cub game (don't ask) and farted around on the Internet.

Wait! That's not all! I also paid a few bills and took a nap.


Friday, May 04, 2018

I'm happier when it goes both ways

My oldest friend has battled mightily with depression and health issues. When the world overwhelms her, she has a tendency to shut off. That's OK. I've been known to do that, too.

She has confided to me that when she is in the throes of pain, she fantasizes about suicide. That's not OK. So when I don't hear from her, I worry.

Earlier this spring we went weeks without corresponding. I called, she didn't pick up and her voice mail was full so I couldn't leave a message. I emailed, but she didn't respond. I sent snail mail, but she didn't open it. I was frantic.

I reached out to her cousin via Facebook. She lives with her much-loved older cousin now, and on the one hand, I find that comforting. There's someone right there, who understands my friend's issues, keeping an eye on her.

On the other hand, I felt bad bothering Cuz. She has a husband in one hospital and a 90-year-old mother in another hospital. Neither her husband nor her mother is ever coming home. Easing them out of life must be exhausting. She doesn't need me tweaking her on Facebook.

But it worked! My oldest friend and I emailed back and forth, back and forth, for a month. Now it's nothing but crickets again.

Her adult son and his girlfriend stopped by last weekend. Is that why she's so quiet? She idolizes him so, and he has depression and anger and entitlement issues and has been known to disappoint her.

She's unemployed and applied for another job last week. Did she hear she didn't get it? Is that why she's so quiet?

I'm so worried about her. I dozed off after work -- damn! I was watching a special about my much-missed Robert Osborne -- and had a terrible nightmare. My (very young) nephew and I were in the back seat of my mother's car. She was behind the wheel and behaving strangely. She drove past her house and headed toward the railroad tracks.

A train was coming. She stopped on the tracks. She was willing to kill us all.

I got my nephew out of the car and then held him to me so he couldn't see the carnage on the tracks.

Now let's see -- My mother didn't have a car. She didn't even have a driver's license. And she died of natural causes after putting up quite a fight. She was not suicidal. My nephew is a 6' tall high school senior. Clearly this dream is completely symbolic.

My oldest friend and I grew up together in the same hometown. Our homes were separated only by an alley. So the setting leads me to believe my disrupted sleep is all about my oldest friend.

I love her. I miss her. With all my heart, I hope she's OK. I'm praying for her.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Expensive and sad

I have nurtured two very healthy philodendrons. One has grown to be big, the other is huge. When we move across the street to our new office space -- probably the first week in June -- I will have no room for my beloved plants. So they have to come home ... where they will be relegated to my den and I will seldom see them. This is unfortunate but necessary, as I'm sure that if my cats saw these plants they would say, "Cool! Salad bar!" and just dive in.

So I brought my little luggage cart to the office, put the big one in a box and fastened it to the cart with cables. I took a cab home -- rush hour -- to the tune of $45.

I don't want this move. I like my office set up the way it is. I like my little shelves. I like my framed A Hard Day's Night promotional poster and my Cubs pennant. I like my files -- paper and in manila folders. Most of all, I like looking at my plants throughout the day, watching them grow, tending to them.

But this move is going to happen.* And so now that the big one is home, I have to get the huge one here, too. The pot is 20". I mean, it's impressive. As much as I love the one in my den, I love the huge one even more. I can't afford another $45 just now and I want to gaze at her a little bit longer. So I'll wait until next week to bring her home.

*Unless they let me go before June 1.

Monday, April 30, 2018

April Challenge -- Day 30

Learn more
One thing you're excited for

I'm going to Wrigley Field two more times this season! Over Memorial Day weekend with my friend John, and over 4th of July with my nephew.

What better place to celebrate our national holidays than The Friendly Confines? What better way than to watch America's past time?

If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Stealing


1. Favourite scene in a Disney Princess movie? I like the early parts of Sleeping Beauty, when she's barefoot and hanging out with the forest critters.

2. Favourite scene in a non Princess movie?
Mary Poppins showing the kids how to clean the nursery. ("Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.")

3. Last Disney movie you watched? 
I don't recall.

4. How many times have you visited the parks?
California twice, Florida once.

5. Favourite animal themed movie?
The original Incredible Journey -- Luath, Bodger and Tao.

6. Favourite Disney movie from the 1950’s?
Peter Pan

7. Favourite Disney movie from the 1960’s?
Mary Poppins

8. Favourite Disney movie from the 1970’s?
The Aristocats

9. Favourite Disney movie from the 1980’s?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (I didn't really like it that much; it's just the only one on the list I've seen.)

10. Favourite Disney movie from the 1990’s?
Beauty and the Beast

11. Favourite Disney movie from the 2000’s?
Lilo & Stitch

13. Favourite Disney movie from the 2010’s?
Saving Mr. Banks

14. If you could trade lives with one character which one and why?
Mary Poppins, because she's practically perfect in every way.

15. First Disney orientated memory?
The first time I ever went to the movies, it was to see Mary Poppins. I will never forget it -- the theater went dark, the big curtains open, and the rooftops of London were revealed. Magic!

16. Favourite villain?
The Beast, I suppose. (But he really wasn't the villain, was he? He was just misunderstood.)

17. Favourite live action Disney movie?
Mary Poppins

18. Favourite soundtrack?
Mary Poppins

19. What are your top three favourite Disney songs?
"A Spoonful of Sugar," "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "Beauty and the Beast"

20. Mickey or Minnie?
Mickey, because I actually met him at DisneyWorld. 😀

21. Which movie do you find the most nostalgic?
All of them. They all harken to a time I'm not sure really existed.

22. Are there any Disney movies that you haven’t seen?
Oh, lots of them.

23. Is there a scene or movie that makes you cry?
"But Mama, he's my dog. I'll do it."

24. Is there a song that makes you cry?
Not really.

25. Which character do you relate to the most?
Jane Banks (Mary Poppins)

26. Do you own any clothing that’s Disney themed? 

My go-to Halloween costume

27. Favourite sidekick?

28. Favourite Princess and why?
Belle, because she was such a good role model for my niece in those long ago days. Nothing wrong with a girl keeping her nose stuck in a book, you know.

29. Funniest Disney scene?
The tea party on the ceiling, Mary Poppins

30. Favourite Disney movie and why?
Mary Poppins, because it's fucking awesome.