Tuesday, November 13, 2018


WWW.WEDNESAY asks us 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?  
Y Is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton. Santa Theresa PI Kinsey Milhone is dealing with a thorny one. Parents hire her when their son is "timed out" of the juvenile penal system ... after murdering a classmate. But Kinsey recognizes that he was tried, convicted and served his time. This is the way the system works. She allows herself to be sucked into the family's drama. 

I'm not very deep into the story yet, but there is one thing I appreciate so far. Kinsey doesn't like the family she's working for. But they aren't asking her to do anything illegal -- at least not yet -- and their money is good. I'm not a private investigator but I work for an agency that assigns me to clients. I don't have to like them. This is life for us workaday stiffs.
PS I got this as a gift last Christmas, but I just couldn't read it then. I knew it was last Grafton, my last encounter with Kinsey, and that finality made me too sad.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  
And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson. This is really two books in one, and I enjoyed the first one thoroughly. It takes place on Palmyra, a tiny island south of Hawaii. It's officially "unoccupied," meaning no one lives there -- though US Navy personnel and conservationists stay for short periods. It's on this virtually deserted island that two couples meet. The first couple, Buck and Jennifer, show up on Palmyra in an old boat they rehabbed themselves. They're trying to live off the land, in hiding because Buck is evading law enforcement. The second couple, the Grahams, swoop in on their luxury sail boat, looking for adventure.
Somehow, Buck and Jennifer show up back in Hawaii onboard the Grahams' boat, and the Grahams are never seen alive again. What happened?

The second story is Jennifer's trial, with Vincent Bugliosi defending her. This is when it drags. Bugliosi and Henderson give us some great moments -- Vince describing voir dire was genuinely enlightening, and the passages describing one of the witnesses (the woman who discovered Mrs. Graham's remains), made me smile because he was so twitterpated by her. But murder trials are long, and this level of detail was mind numbing.
Plus there are very few good photos in the book. Jennifer is depicted as warm, attractive and able to charm anyone. Yet there's only one grainy picture of her. It's frustrating.
3.  What will you read next?  
Fiction? A biography?

I choose to think of it as free food

Seven working days ago, we got a new assignment. A big assignment. I asked my boss what I should do about it.

"Just don't worry," said my distracted boss. It's a high profile project, so he wanted to maintain control. He was finishing off another project, though, and there were more hiccoughs on that one than he expected.

And he took last Friday off as a vacation day. Oh! He's taking all next week off, too.

So, when he dumped it all on me Monday, after a week, I was naturally resentful. I could have been working on it all along, but he waited to hand if off to me until it was late.

I was short-tempered and tense all day today. The account team I'm working with is less than competent but more than dramatic. Having to work through lunch while sitting out in the open with no privacy, no alone time, didn't help. Tomorrow will be more of the same, since we have a noon meeting scheduled.

Then it occurred to me: I've been eating free.

Monday, on my way out the door, I wrapped a giant deli sandwich and slipped it into my briefcase. It had been left over from conference earlier in the day. It made the main course of a decent dinner.

Today, one of my coworkers who felt bad about the situation alerted me that catering left a tray in the kitchen. I cadged a pair of meatballs and some green bean casserole.

Tomorrow's lunch meeting will actually be catered.

Is my boss taking advantage of me? Undoubtedly. Am I angry? At times.

But I choose to look at is free food.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A powerful dose of sisterhood, courtesy of Michelle Obama

Saturday night, my movie group watched Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. It's one of my favorites. It's a favorite of our moderator, Will, too. His enthusiasm for these classics makes the movies even better.

After the movie, Joanna and I went up the street to catch up at our favorite Spanish restaurant. It's been a long time since we just sat and blabbed. Summertime, I think. (I remember checking my phone for the Cubs score that night.)

She has a new man in her life! Well, sort of. He's the brother of a friend. They met while he was visiting from Panama. Since he left, they have talked and texted every night. But he doesn't want her to come visit. Not if she's not willing to stay. Of course she isn't. She's not leaving the country forever for a man she knew for a week. And yet, she's excited and "girly" when she talks about him. Maybe he's just the thing for her now.

Her life has been shadowed by death. Her cat and dog died after long illnesses, and within months of one another. While her brother was in the hospital recovering from a car accident, he was diagnosed with cancer. A flirtation with a charming man who lives on a sailboat in a faraway land could be just what she needs.

I brought her up to date with Henry's issues. She kept telling me how lucky we are. I appreciated hearing it. His case is so difficult right now that I forget that he might have been left permanently disabled or without memory and/or speech.

As I finished my pumpkin spice martini (a first for me), we somehow arrived at menopause. Honest, I don't recall how we got there. But we agreed women don't speak of it often enough, or candidly enough, with one another.

I segued to Michelle Obama's book, and the way she addresses her difficulty in carrying a baby. I said I thought it was more than courageous of the former FLOTUS, it was important because so many of us have gynecological issues and we just don't talk about them. For a woman as accomplished and together as Michelle to admit she had it, faced it and overcame it has to be a help to others.

Joanna's response surprised me. She began to cry as she told me about the baby she lost during her first marriage. She didn't mention the date of the miscarriage, but instead when her baby was due: August, 1981. He would be 37 now. (She consistently referred to the baby she lost as "he.") She didn't go into detail about what happened (miscarriage? stillbirth? and why no other pregnancies?). I didn't press. I could tell that she was sharing something very dear to her and she had to do it in her own way.

She mentioned her passion for tennis star Roger Federer, who happened to be born when her baby was due. People think she has "a crush" on him, but it's not that. There's no sexual element to it. She feels a connection to him and his soul because of the son she lost.

I told her I get it. Anthony Rizzo is the same for me. I look at him and don't see a lover, I see the son I would have been proud to have. I'm not jealous of his fiancee, Emily. I envy his mother. Of course, I was not pregnant when Rizz was born. I've never been pregnant. But his values, the way he behaves, the way he treats people and courageously uses his fame for good ... he lives what I would have liked to pass on to a son.

We found ourselves holding hands for a moment. We felt closer than we had before and we had shared something important.

Thank you, Michelle Obama.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"No hate. No fear. Everyone is welcome here."

So went the chant of the youth-led peace march through my hometown. Recently, swastikas and ugly white supremacist graffiti appeared at the local high school. Black, Muslim and Jewish students are frightened.

The village came together for a march from the high school to the shopping district. Students led the way. Faculty members had bullhorns. There were grandparents holding the hands of their toddler grandkids. There were singles marching with their dogs. There were entire families marching.

The show of support was inspiring. But it left me indescribably sad. No kid ever hated high school more than I did. But I never once felt afraid to go.

"A youth" has been identified as "a person of interest" in the police investigation. I suspect the perpetrator is a student who wanted to stir things up without actually understanding the ramifications of his actions. But then I think of Dylan and Eric and all the other disaffected teens who have killed their classmates.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Middle (2018)

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

1) This song is about compromise. When did you recently give in a little and meet someone halfway? I do it at work all the time. We started this project a month ago. I have a very good sense of our client and did a first draft based on what I've learned they want. Our account exec -- new to the team -- was exasperated with me, insisting I didn't "go far enough." After literally a half dozen meetings and many side discussions, I did as she asked. We got the client input. Guess what. I feel like Maxine Nightingale.

2) She sings that the floors are wet. Are there any floors in your home that could use a good scrub today? If you answered "yes," will those floors get cleaned this weekend? My kitchen and bathroom floors could benefit from a little elbow grease. Whether they'll get it remains to be seen.

3) She also sings that the cabinets are bare. What's currently on your shopping list? I need to pick up salad dressing.

4) You may be familiar with this song from Target's TV commercials. Do you often shop at Target? Yes! The Target store near my home just opened this past year and it's been life changing. The grocery section is not very big, but the prices are very competitive and that store is open until 10:00 every night. It's become my go-to convenience store.

5) The lead vocal is handled by Maren Morris, a Grammy winner for "My Church," which is all about singing with the car radio. What's the last song you sang along with? "Workin' on a Groovy Thing" when it came on the shower radio yesterday. Funny, it's a song I haven't thought about in decades, and yet I effortlessly recalled all the lyrics.

6) This past April, Maren married singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd and they have performed onstage together. Who is the last person you sang along with? The person in pew next to me at church when we sang a hymn.

7) This song was composed by brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha. With their bleached hair and sunglasses, they look like a pair of surfer dudes -- which they are, having grown up in Huntington Beach, CA. Is there a body of water near your hometown? My favorite is the Chicago River. Over the last two summers, the Riverwalk has really taken off. A lot of people have many gripes with Mayor Rahm, but he showed the River a lot of love, and I appreciate him for that.

  8) January 2018, when this song debuted, we had a total lunar eclipse. When things like that happen in the sky, do you go out of your way to watch? Nope. I always mean to, but I never do.

9) Random question -- They say we're all young at heart. In what way can you be childlike? I don't hide my exuberance. A friend tells me, "No one is as happy when they're happy as you are."


This week, Henry and I have spoken on the phone three times in all. I've spoken to Reg twice.

I think back to a week ago and laugh at myself. I was feeling isolated and sad because I wasn't hearing from them. Ha!

Henry is very unhappy and very unreasonable. He still insists he's never had a brain injury. He began the week by fighting his doctors every step of the way, but now it seems to be dawning on him that if he doesn't do what they say, he'll never be released.

He insists Reg went more than a week without seeing him. That simply isn't true. I keep telling him that. I said, "But he called me from the road when he was going to the hospital. He called me from the motel next door to the hospital. He was there." Henry's response was both ridiculous and condescending, "I used to think you were one of the smartest people I know," he said sadly.

So now I'm dumb as a box of rocks. I guess it's obvious (to Henry) that Reg was calling me from their home in Key West, not in Miami at all.

He boomerangs between worrying about the mortgage (it's gone up $50/month, and they had a hard time affording it before) and complaining that all Reg cares about is money ... that Reg is simply not there for him ... that he is leaving Reg as soon as they get back to Key West ....

Yeah, and go where? I thought. You're in a wheelchair and you have no money.

Instead I said, "Why make a relationship decision now? Neither of you is at your best right now. He's stressed by the 3 1/2 hour drive, and then having to work while he's sick with worry about you. You're on meds ..."

"I'm not. I'm fine."

"YOU WERE HIT BY A TRUCK!" I shouted. "You were literally hit by a truck! You mean to tell me you're absolutely fine?"

I was mad at myself for yelling at him, but maybe it got through. For the remainder of the call, he backed off a bit from the divorce talk. Last night, when we spoke, he was more conciliatory, toward both Reg and the therapists.

As frustrating as he is, it's comforting to talk to him. His memory of us is in tact. He tells me all the time that he loves me, that I'm his only sister. He hasn't yelled (back) at me. He hasn't tried to "dismiss" me. He's the one who calls me, not the other way around. He always asks about Reynaldo.

Whether he accepts it or not, he had a traumatic brain injury. He had surgery to rebuild his ankle. The road to recovery is going to be a long journey. I have to buckle up and prepare myself. And feel blessed that Reg and Henry have invited me along on the ride.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Hi, Vivian!

I've read and appreciated your comments. Thank you.

"Just me, checking on you."

I was delighted to get that voice mail message. For it was the same message Henry has been leaving me for decades. I called him back and we chatted for about 15 minutes, the first time I've heard his voice since his near-fatal accident almost a month ago.

He sounded tired and weak, but he was lucid. He's lost a few weeks and is confused about the date, but that's not unusual after being in a medically-induced coma. In terms of our relationship, he remembers us and our history I was so relieved! I was afraid that his head injury might have erased me.

He was in a feisty mood, telling me that he while he doesn't remember the accident -- again, not unusual -- he doesn't believe it could have happened the way "they" say it did. He insists he wasn't drinking that night, and doubts he had a brain injury at all, much less a life -threatening one.

"How come my face is unmarked? Why don't I have even a scratch on my head?"

I refused to argue with him, so I just changed the subject. I asked about the view from his hospital room and updated him on my bathroom remodel (which he remembered advising me on every step of the way before his accident).

He's in a great deal of pain because of his shattered ankle. It's encased in a big boot and it itches. Because of his brain injury, they have to be very careful about the pain medication he receives, so he's in a constant state of discomfort. Naturally he's surly.

Plus, he doesn't recall the accident that landed him in Miami and left him unable to walk. That has to be disconcerting.

But he's being very unreasonable with the hospital staff. Thank God he and Reg are legally married. That gives Reg authority when it comes to his treatment. Important because if it was up to Henry, he'd leave the hospital way before he should and he could do real, lasting damage to himself.

And I'm just going to relax a bit. Henry is going to be OK. It's going to take a long, long time. And it's going to be unpleasant -- just because he liked me on Monday doesn't mean he'll be as fond of me next time we talk. But he still knows me and he still loves me. We're still us.

I'm so grateful.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Dona Nobis Pacem

Every year, November 4 is the day we blog for peace. This year, November 6 is Election Day. In my blog blast post, I'm marrying the two.

Think peace when you vote. When you have a choice, support the candidate who seeks to build bridges, not walls. Cast your ballot for the candidate who will bring us closer to commonsense background checks and a ban on assault weapons.

Remember the words of Notre Dame's Rev. Theordore Hesburgh: "Voting is a sacred sacrament." Make your vote a vote for peace on Tuesday!

 Go here to find out more about Blog4Peace.

Sunday Stealing

Pop Tarts

1. What's the coldest temp you've experienced? I know we hit -27º back in the 1980s. I don't recall that specific day, but I do remember one January when I had to go to the laundromat, which was a walk of several blocks. When I got inside, my eyelashes were frozen.

All that said, I'd rather be below zero than 90º or more above.

2. What's for dinner tonight?
Haven't decided. Suggestions?

3. Would you consider moving to Australia?
Depends upon the circumstances, but I suppose so.

4. What was your favorite subject in high school?
American history, by far.

5. How many hours a day is your tv on?
That depends on how many hours a day I'm home. But if I'm here, it's usually on.

6. Have you ever received an award? Yes. The biggest award I received was a Clio.

There was an episode of Mad Men that recalled my experience. A commercial done by Sterling Cooper is nominated, and even though Peggy believes the original idea was hers and that her contribution should be recognized, she isn't invited to represent the agency at the ceremony.

This very thing happened to me. I not only wasn't sent to the ceremony, I didn't even get a statue. Why would I? I only wrote all the copy.

I did, however, get a copy of the award certificate with my name listed, and the company I worked for back then paid to have it framed. At the time, I was exuberant.

I was passed over not because my contribution wasn't important -- it was vital. I was too junior. And back then, I acted like a girl (instead of a woman) on top of it. While my work was taken seriously, I wasn't. 

7. Whats your mousepad look like?
Don't use one.

8. How many browser tabs do you have open right now?

9. If you are a parent, have you or did you ever put Vicks VapoRub on your children under the age of 2?
No kids

10. As an adult, do you like the scent of Vicks VapoRub?

11. If you had to pick one insect to infest your house for 1 day and after that day they would just suddenly vanish, which insect infestation would you pick?
I don't really get this question. But I've suffered through stink bugs, drain flies and bed bugs. If I had to choose one, I'll go with stink bugs. They don't bite, They're big enough and move slow enough to make tremendous play things for the cats.

12. What color is your underwear that you are wearing right at this moment?
My signature white granny pants.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Home again

I got home this morning and have been putting my NEW bathroom together. There's a lot about the process I didn't like, but I'm too tired and too happy right now to post about it. Instead, let's just gaze at the blinding whiteness that is my bathroom.

Good news/bad news

Good news:

•  Reg called me today. He was upset, worried about money, stressing about all the responsibility of Henry's recovery. I was so glad he chose me to reach out. So happy I could make him laugh. He's been so tense and remote lately that I was afraid we wouldn't be friends anymore (apart from Henry). Clearly that isn't the case. I'm so relieved.

•  Henry is doing much better. He is lucid, speaking in both Spanish and English. He is now out of ICU and in a private room. He can do everything that's been asked of him so far: identifying shapes and memorization. He's still angry all the time. He wants out of the hospital, and wonders bitterly why those who claim to love him aren't helping him go home. But the nurses assure Reg that this is to be expected.

Bad news:

•  No disability insurance. It looks like Henry didn't check that box when he signed up for benefits.  It is frustrating that he could be receiving $450/week from his employer, but he didn't take the option. A few more dollars from each paycheck would be paying dividends right now, but there's no going back and changing it.

•  A surprising, but perhaps not so surprising, complication. Henry's blood alcohol was very high at the time of the accident. His response to treatment aligns with someone suffering from withdrawal. Henry is an alcoholic. It upset me to hear it said aloud, but it doesn't surprise me. One of the reasons I don't like his friend Phyllis -- who he'd been drinking with the night of the accident! -- is that I've never seen that woman without a drink or a joint in hand. And when I've visited him over the holidays, he drank wine literally all day. I would stop after two -- maybe three -- drinks, tops, and switch to Coke. But not Henry. When I busted him for it, he'd say, "It's my vacation," or "I can handle it." He cannot. Reg said sadly that he and Phyl had been enabling Henry. I responded we all had. Henry is such a sweet soul, you don't want to spend your every moment together nagging. And ultimately, the one responsible for Henry's drinking is Henry.

This is so big. Henry's accident has had an enormous impact. I'm still trying to process it all, weeks later.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: It Must Be Him (1967) 

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

1) This song is about a woman waiting impatiently for a phone call. Do you consider yourself patient? No. As my friend John tells me, "Patience is your demon."

2) Other women (most notably Shirley Bassey and Dottie West) have recorded this song. Harry James and Doc Severinson did instrumental versions. But there's no record of a male singing "Oh dear God! It must be her! Or I shall die!" Do you think that's because waiting for the phone to ring is more "a chick thing," and men simply don't do it? I think they don't admit it, much less sing about it at the top of their lungs.

3) This recording enjoyed a sudden surge of popularity after 20 years when it was included on the soundtrack of Moonstruck, the 1987 film that won Cher an Oscar. Have you seen Moonstruck? Several times. So romantic!


4) This week's featured artist, Vikki Carr, was born in El Paso, TX. El Paso can proudly proclaim itself one of America's safest cities. What can your hometown be proud of? You mean, other than me?

5) She was a staple on Jerry Lewis' Labor Day Telethon, raising funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association by performing this song. Is your TV on right now? If so, what are you watching? It's not on. I was listening to Vikki sing her heart out on YouTube.

6) In 1971, Vikki fulfilled a dream of hers by establishing the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation. Every year the foundation awards Hispanic American students money to use toward higher education. She says it's her way of returning "the support and encouragement she received from others" early in her career. If you could establish a charitable foundation, what cause would you like it to benefit? Free veterinary services. Companion animals mean so much to those who love them. It's heartbreaking when they truly want to give their dogs and cats quality care, but can't afford to.

7)  In 1967, when this song was popular, Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant. Today, one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States is the coronary artery bypass surgery. Have you had any surgeries? In 2011, I had a hysterectomy.

8)  Also in 1967, the RMS Queen Mary was retired after 31 years of service. Have you ever traveled by cruise ship? Nope

9) Random question: Who is your oldest living relative? My aunt is between 72 and 74.

My suite life

Since Monday night, I've been living out of two rooms in a massive Victorian on the other side of town.

I'm glad I did this because my home is a wreck. My (only) bathroom is completely unusable: the toilet is parallel to the wall and the sink is in the living room. My new tub is in, but it's filled with work tools.

I go home every night to check on the cats -- oh, the mess they're making in the bedroom! -- and bring in the mail and feel the lump in my throat whenever I look at the bathroom.

I was told by Don (the boss) that it was a "3 to 5 day job." It looks like it's really a 5 1/2 day job. The overages are because of my building, I'm told. It's so hard to get supplies up through elevator. The parking area is way in the back. It eats up all this time. Yeah, right. Don was in my building twice -- first for the estimate, then to do some preliminary measurements. I haven't changed the location of the elevator or the parking lot since he's been here.

Meantime, I'm here. In this little suite of rooms. Watching Netflix and sleeping a lot. It's quiet and comfortable. The man who owns this massive house -- two addresses on two streets -- turned these rooms into a separate suite for his daughter to use when she was home from college. Well, she's graduated and moved away and he's renting it as an Airbnb.

I'm still sick with worry about Henry. I feel stressed about work (even though I took Thursday and Friday off). I am nervous about the expense and progress of my remodel. So I come in, slip into my pjs, binge watch about the Royal Family, and go to bed before 10:00.

Tonight is my last night here. It's been very nice, but I want to go home. I want to put my bathroom and bedroom back as they were. I want my old life back, just with a new bathroom. I want to relax again.


Monday, October 29, 2018

It's Kwizgiver's Birthday!

She's a rabid reader, a dedicated teacher and a good blogging buddy. If you don't read her blog, you should. Becoming acquainted with Ms. Kwiz will enrich your cyberlife.

My heart is suddenly lighter

I know what happened to Napoleon! And it's all good. Caleb got a promotion at work. He drives a forklift now during the day shift. And they are living indoors, day in/day out.

It's a long story, but I googled and one website led me to another and another and finally I tracked them down. I have a phone number and I can text them.

I want to ask if they still need clothes, and if Caleb still goes through paperback books. I can send that period mystery that I've been carrying in my briefcase.

I'll be posting a new peace globe soon

You can, too!

Founder Mimi Lenox describes the BlogBlast for Peace as event that encompasses, "70 million blogs. 70 million possibilities."

Mimi believes that it isn't enough for us to "unmake war, we have to remake peace." We bloggers are working toward this worthy goal by creating peace globes and posting them on our sites on November 4, 2018.

To learn more, and maybe participate yourself, click here.  And be sure to google Dona Nobis Pacem on November 4 so you can check out all the inspiring and imaginative globes ... from all over the globe.

As the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose once sang ...

It's too late to turn back now! Day One of my bathroom remodel.

The contractor reports no evidence of living rodents. I find that comforting, I suppose, but I mourn for the mice who perished in my walls.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

No. Not this Gal. Not in this country.

Yesterday, a shooter stormed a synagogue and killed at least 8 people. It was another horrifying event in a terrible week that began with assassination attempts against prominent politicians.

Our President actually suggested that we should have armed guards at places of worship.

I reject that. I refuse to worship my Lord in a house with an armed guard at the door.

Have we actually reached a point where that is considered acceptable, desirable? Better than banning assault weapons and bump stocks?


A ribbon of emoticons

I got a quick text from Henry's partner, Reg. "Just opened my mail. Thanks." Followed by love emoticons.

It meant a great deal to me. Reg has been hard on me -- and everyone else -- during this ordeal. It hurt. I felt isolated, and my relationship with Henry felt minimized and demeaned. I felt like I had lost both Henry and Reg.

But I persisted in maintaining the relationship with Reg because I knew Henry would want me to. I sent notes via USPS to keep the lines of communication open without immediately engaging Reg. After all, my feelings do matter and I must protect myself throughout this sad chapter, which may prove to be a very long one.

A roller coaster week in the ICU

My friend Henry's condition continues to confuse and terrify. When he first got to the hospital, he was speaking and in English. He could move all his limbs and respond to direct commands. But, because he was so aggressive and angry, the neuro specialists agreed he should be sedated. It's important to keep him completely quiet, so his injuries remain contained and don't bleed. They are working hard to avoid operating on his brain.

They have been able to repair his broken ankle, which is good. Wonderful, in fact, if it wasn't for the traumatic brain injuries. For days though, he seemed to have regressed. No longer speaking at all when he's brought out of sedation, only thrashing and making loud, angry noises. Then he contracted a lung infection. Not an uncommon occurrence in the ICU, but troubling and complicating.

Finally, Saturday, there was a new glimmer of hope. His infection responded so well to treatment that his breathing tubes were removed. This made Henry much more comfortable, and consequently he's been more responsive. His partner, Reg, is back in Key West -- unfortunately, if Reg doesn't work he doesn't get paid -- spoke to him via phone. When Reg said, "I love you," Henry responded positively to his lover's voice, eyes lighting up, mumbling something that sounded much like, "You, too."

Happy birthday to me -- Part 1

And so it begins. Galfest 2018 kicked off Saturday! It's going to be a subdued affair because of Henry's accident. I contacted four of my friends -- Rose, John, Mindy and Barb -- and told them that, instead of a gift, I'd prefer they send money to Henry's GoFundMe page. And because each time we've spoken, since summer, Henry had bragged about the used books he'd snared for my birthday (one about JBKO, the other about the Beatles). It's hard not to feel melancholy.

But nothing is all bad or sad. Kathy texted me Friday night and asked if I wanted to meet for lunch Saturday afternoon. My first impulse was to say no, I have too much to do to prepare for the remodel -- it starts tomorrow! -- and besides, all I want to do these days is sleep. But I recognize my impulses are not healthy. I should see people. And so I told her I'd love to, and asked if she'd give me a lift to Goodwill so I could drop off stuff too unwieldy for the bus.

She had a surprise for me: a birthday giftbag containing a copy of The President Is Missing, by James Patterson and my guy Bill. It was a sweet and thoughtful gift -- and she was one of the first to contribute to Henry's GoFundMe. She's been great throughout this ordeal.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" Theme
This week's song was chosen because this is the last Saturday 9 before Halloween. Are you unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, was born in England. Name another pop culture contribution England has made.
2) This week's song is recognized as the theme to Hitchcock's long-running TV show, but "Funeral March for a Marionnette" is a classic piece written for piano in the late 1870s by Charles Gounod. Do you often listen to classical music? No. I really don't care for it. At all.

3) Janet Leigh's shower scene in  Hitchcock's Psycho is considered one of the scariest sequences ever filmed. What's the most frightening movie you've ever seen? Yeah, I'll stick with Psycho. Because it's a horror movie, and since the subject matter is so lurid, people often disregard how nearly perfect it is. Shot for shot, it's a great piece of film making. I think the quality is why it's so enduringly scary.

4) Hitchcock admitted that he "never trusted birds," and he took that fear and turned it into the movie, The Birds. Is there a member of the animal kingdom that just gives you "the creeps?" Squirrels. I recently shared this story for Sunday Stealing, but here's the truncated version: When I was about 5, my dad told me this really vivid, scary story about how a little boy (just my age) was bit by the squirrel he was feeding (just like my dad had caught me doing). The squirrel was rabid and sunk his sharp teeth into the boy, and wouldn't let go. The police came and shot the squirrel, who wouldn't even open its jaws in death. The poor boy was raced to the hospital in an ambulance, with the bloody squirrel carcass hanging from his arm. Naturally none of that is true, but it's stayed with me ever since.
5) Halloween will soon be upon us. Will you carve a jack o'lantern this year?  Nope

6) What candy will trick or treaters get at your house? All they'll get is disappointment. I won't be home.

7)  When you went trick or treating, did you prefer fantasy costumes (like a storybook character) or scary ones (like a monster)? I don't remember many of my costumes, but since they were chosen by my mother, I know they had to be fantasy because she wasn't into monsters.

8)  Which candy was your favorite? Which one were you disappointed to find in your trick or treat bag? I love Mary Janes. I hate candy corn.

9) Which do you find scarier -- cemeteries or haunted houses? Haunted houses.


That's how much my monthly condo assessments will go up each month in 2019. I know, because I'm on the board and helped arrive at the amount.

This will pay for:

•  A new intercom system. Amazingly, those of us on the fourth floor (and many other residents) have been without any doorbell for more than two years now. I've gotten used to it, but we know that it's just a matter of time before someone checks and sees that we're not in compliance with village ordinances (I live in a village that tends to have an ordinance for everything).

•  New ceiling tiles in the parking area. The previous board used the wrong type of tiles.Specifically tiles designed for indoor use were installed. The tiles get wet with condensation from the heating and water pipes above, they get heavy, they fall down on the windshields of the cars parked below. We've been trying to repair this on a tile-by-tile basis, but it's actually more expensive to do it that way. We should just bite the bullet and replace 'em all.

•  Roof repair. Being on the top floor, this one is near and dear to my heart. And the top of my head!

None of these things are merely cosmetic. They're all necessary, and the first two are way overdue.

But I'm not happy about this. $55.83 is an 18% increase. There are so many other things I'd rather do with that $670.


Ironically, we got an offer from a local real estate office. A developer wants to buy our building. All 24 of us would have to agree to it -- and it's hard to get all 24 of us to agree on anything -- but it would result in a windfall. Probably $50,000 more than any of us would get if we sold individually (way more for me, since I have crappy carpeting and my living room windows should be replaced).

I'm for it. At this stage, that infusion in cash would be so welcome.

But if the offer turns out to be legit, and if we all agree, the developer will tear this building down and replace it with a high rise. So the ceiling tiles, the roof and the doorbell won't matter.

It's never all bad

There's so much going on in my life right now, and much of it is sad. My oldest friend has myriad health problems and not a lot of resources. It seems that my little adopted family -- Napoleon the Cat and his people -- have disappeared without a trace. And two weeks ago tonight, my darling Henry suffered traumatic brain injury.

But I have to stay positive. I have to look ahead. I have to keep functioning.

So I'm thinking about my bathroom remodel. My long-awaited, long-delayed new tub and tile are being installed starting Monday morning. The contractor has his parking pass and I've had a set of keys made. I have scheduled a water shut off for 9:00 AM on 10/29. It's happening! Fingers crossed. I'm trying not to fixate on what can go wrong -- oh! the horror stories I've heard -- and am anticipating my new, white bathroom.

And I'm closely monitoring the news about the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival. I've got my room booked. I have enough miles to fly to LA for free. Now the first line up of the films has been released. Oh. My. God. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! Holiday! How I love those two films! And what movie would be better to watch with the TCM family than the first one TCM ever broadcast: Gone with the Wind. I can't wait to celebrate these movies with other members of classic film tribe.