Friday, November 30, 2012

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Beer Barrel Polka

1) Have you ever danced the polka? They made us dance the polka as part of PE in junior high school. Square dancing, too. It was horrific.

2) Frankie Yankovic was a stellar accordion player. What instrument have you mastered, or would like to learn?
I wanted to learn the guitar, but my fingers are stubby and I had a bitch of a time reaching around the frets.
3) When Frankie died in 1998, his obituary proclaimed him as "America's Polka King." Lucille Ball was "The Queen of Comedy" and Michael Jackson was "The King of Pop." What royal title do you deserve?
I like Queen of All She Surveys.
4) Do you like light beer? Yes, especially Miller Lite. My subjects love me because I'm a simple monarch with common tastes.

5) In 1901, daredevil Annie Taylor successfully went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She was badly bruised but otherwise fine. How much money would it take for you do to do something that dangerous?
I'm entirely too old for such nonsense. Though I suspect there was a time when I might be tempted to do something dangerous/stupid.
6) When was the last time you visited a pet store? Last week. And I'll return over the weekend. Regular kibble run.
7) What's your favorite salad dressing?
8)  Sam Winters is crazy about her smart phone. She uses it to take pictures, record videos, listen to tunes, answer emails and surf the net and, oh yeah, she even uses it to make calls. How indispensable is your mobile phone in your day-to-day life? I'm notorious among my friends for seldom even having my phone on. It calls out, it takes calls, and I can access email and texts. That's more than enough.
9) "Kocham cię" is "I love you" in Polish. Can you say "I love you" in a language other than English (and Polish)? Te amo. Te adoro.


Good news!

Lately, when it comes to finances, I haven't had much good news. But today's mail did make me smile.

First I got word from the bank that my property taxes will be going up, and therefore there's a projected shortfall of $1261 in my escrow account. BOO!

But then I opened a check from MetLife. It wasn't easy, but I was finally granted $2083 from my mother's estate. YEA!

We still won't be out of my mom's house until mid-January at the soonest, but let's not think about that right now. Let's just be happy that I can pay off my unexpected escrow bill and have money left over.

An award!

I have been blogging for a million years now (give or take) and it still surprises me and warms my heart that I have readers and cyberfriends. That's why I'm grateful for this award from Pearl. If you get a moment, go over and check out her blog. 

I already went the full nine yards with this particular award a few months ago, so I'm not going to tag others. But to celebrate Pearl naming me, I'm going to give six things about myself and answer her 11 questions.

6 Things About Myself:

1.  I don't know why I'm fascinated by true crime shows, but I am. Right now I'm watching the new ID channel. (At least it's new to my cable company.)

2.  Today's payday, so this is top of mind: I pay many of my bills online, and yet I'm resistant to going completely paperless and eliminating the monthly bills. I don't know why. Loyalty to the United States Postal Service?

3.  I miss baseball.

4.  I suffer from very dry skin in winter.

5.  My worst quality is my laziness.

6.  My best quality is that I think fast on my feet.

And here are my answers to Pearl's questions:

1.  Sunny, Rainy, or Snowy? Sunny. But I also enjoying seeing the sun glint off the snow.
2.  Is the glass half-full or half empty? Half full

3.  Have you gone on a leisurely trip this year?  Where would you like to travel next? I'm going to Key West to see my dear friends in just a few weeks. We ring in the new year together. I can't wait to see them!

4.  Do you love your job? I like my job. In this economy, I'm grateful for it, too.

5.  What's your most treasured material possession in the world? I have a silver-plated ring, a band with an engraved lotus design. It's hardly fine jewelry, less than $100 new. But it's pretty and it fits perfectly and I feel naked without it.

6.  What's your favorite reading material? Your favorite author? I love books. Old school books. I haven't moved onto e-readers yet. One of my favorite authors is Robert B. Parker. I felt terrible when he passed away almost 3 years ago.

7.  Do you cook?  What's your favorite food (the one food you can't live without)? I'm the world's most inept cook! And I have a fondness for steak.

8.  Which do you prefer, shopping online or at the mall? Yes! I love retail in all its forms.

9.  Do you exercise? How often?  What's your favorite form of exercise? I try to exercise 3 times/week. And over the past four months I have failed miserably. At any rate, I like cardio. I have to make myself work out with weights.

10.  Christmas tree: plastic or real tree? Plastic. I worry about a real tree drying out and being a fire hazard.

11.  Do you like to watch news?  What's your favorite news program? I'm a news junkie! My favorite show is Morning Joe on MSNBC. The host is a former congressman, a conservative Republican, and his co-host is a progressive Democrat. I enjoy the civility of their conversations and how much I learn from hearing them interview guests from all across the political spectrum.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



I stole this from some other blogger. I apologize for not giving him or her attribution but I no longer remember where it came from.

1. Outside my window… is the neighborhood's fanciest and tallest apartment building. I'm surprised no one seems to have their Christmas lights or tree up yet.

2. I am thankful… that my Thanksgiving Day birthday celebration went so well. I'd been dreading it, but I actually had a nice time.

3. In the kitchen… are the cats' no-longer-full bowls. They just ate and are now contentedly napping.

4. I am wearing… an I LOVE LUCY nightshirt.

5. I am creating… yet another TT!

6. I am going…to avoid Coca Cola for the rest of the evening. Damn that caffeine!

7. I am reading… I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. It's delightful.

8. I am learning… to lean on people more. Lately my friends have really come through for me when I have needed support.

9. I am pondering… what to do with the coupon from my local salon. Massage? Eyebrow shaping?

10. A favorite quote… "East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does." Groucho Marx

11. One of my favorite things… NCIS. If you see Mark Harmon, tell him I love him.

12. A few plans for the rest of the week… l'm taking Friday and Monday off. Gotta burn those vacation days before the end of the year.

13. A peek into my day… I have a client presentation Thursday. It's a conference call. I hate those because I suspect my audience is really playing "Hang the Butcher" on their end and not really paying attention at all.

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen,
or to play yourself, click here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012



This week's challenge: Using between 33 and 333 words, compose something that includes the third definition of the following word:



: lacking in real value, sincerity, or substance : false,meaningless 

I revisited the challenge from August -- to write the last 33 words of my book -- and then added the 33 previous words in September. Today I worked backward again with another entry of exactly 33 words (in bold). I enjoy the exercise of working backwards and seeing where the story takes me … in reverse.

When the verdict was announced, the whole gallery gasped. Except me. I sighed with relief. My expression of sorrow was as hollow as Sam’s explanation that he had committed this crime “for us.”

The bailiffs surrounded him. He removed his watch and that gold stud I gave him long ago and handed them to the public defender. He very nearly maintained his dignity despite the handcuffs.

Twenty months will grind inexorably by until it brings us to the next shared moment in our sad saga and when Sam is released from prison, Ill be there, waiting at the gate.

About the photo: Life Magazine makes a library of their archive images available for free to use for “non-commercial personal purposes."


Giving Tuesday

The holiday season is as important to the average charity's bottom line as it is to a retailer. And, just as Black Friday is the "official" start of the Christmas shopping season, so Giving Tuesday has been introduced to kick of the holiday charity season. As they say on the site, "We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals….Wouldn’t it be great to have a day for giving back?"

So today I'm sharing the joy of books. I'm dropping two children's books (Buddy Finds a Friend and Lightning McQueen vs. Francesco) into the bin for our building toy drive and sending a couple others to the troops c/o Operation Shoebox

Monday, November 26, 2012

I don't feel like it

"It" is anything. I don't feel like doing anything.

Last night, while en route to dropping off Andrea's gift for The Giving Tree at Whole Foods, I found myself in the middle of a woman's bumper. She was so excited about being able to turn right onto the busy street that she neglected to look at what was right in front her -- which would be me. And she was angry at me. She even asked me if I wanted her to kick my ass! She was so obviously wrong, and her temper was so ridiculously over the top, that I thought she was kind of funny.

But then tonight, while taking the train home, my seatmate loudly accused me of trying to push her off the seat. I was doing no such thing. In fact, I was taking up very little space, as I was using my Kindle Fire and didn't even need to turn the page of a newspaper or magazine. I know that a lot of commuters are angry about the new cars, and she seems to be one of them. Hostility was just radiating off her. And because of our close proximity, I found it hard to find any humor in the situation. I mean, we were physically touching.

And I talked to my kid sister today. She is finally done cleaning out our mother's house and has been on the phone to people who run estate sales. And, she told me, "You were right. No one will even discuss doing a sale now until after January 1." Being right doesn't mitigate our being responsible for another month of utilities and now snow removal. (And I promise, it will snow before mid-January.) Plus, I'd really like this behind us. It will be four months on January 13, and four months to get out of the house is too long, and it's not healthy.

So I'm just kinda blue right now. Fortunately I have a loudly purring Joey right here, giving me his fat and loving support.

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 5

I have devoted much blogsplace to my tortured relationship with Kathy. Our relationship spans the decades, and it's been exhausting, at least for me. I had decided last spring to sever our ties.

I didn't want to have a big blow up. I didn't want to hurt her feelings. After all, I'm more than willing to accept that there's something inherent about me that sets her off (certainly my own sisters find that to be true). I just wanted her to go away. It was beyond time to end this little dance we do.

But she won't let me go! Over the past 9 months she has given me a no-reason-at-all gift, taken me to breakfast, sat through my mom's visitation and service ... I feel like I'm being wooed.

Yesterday she came out and took me to breakfast for my birthday, and gave me a big bag of chocolates as a gift. It was nice. And, since I couldn't bear the thought of throwing it away and Kathy is the only other grandma among my acquaintances, I gave her a small token that I was going to include in my mother's upcoming birthday gift -- a magnet I picked up in Colonial Williamsburg that says, "I may not have fame or fortune, but my grandchildren are priceless." It made her cry.

So I guess we're friends. I'm conflicted about this, because I'm not sure I can get past all that has occurred over the decades, and I think that being friends implies I can.

But she has been so sweet and loving and, even though she's never said it, I can tell she's sorry.

So she stays in my life. At arm's length, but she stays here.

Happy Birthday to Me, The Mail Edition

Forgot to make note of the two gifts I got through the mail!

•  Hello, Gorgeous! My friend, Mindy, got me this book about Barbra Streisand's early career. It was a thoughtful gift and I've already made a dent in it.

• A Barnes and Noble giftcard. $30 more in books from Cousin Rose. I should appreciate her more. She has loved me since I was a little girl, and I fear I take her solid, steady, decades-long support for granted.

I love presents, and I love old-school snail mail, too. So I'm happy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing

1. Where was your profile picture taken? It was created at

2. Name someone who made you laugh today. The little boy at Trader Joe's who was using the mini grocery cart as a race car. His parents weren't amused, but I was.

3. Do you believe exes can be friends? Not anymore. I have had guys promise me we'd be friends, but their new girlfriends tend to frown on it. Which makes me sad. It's too bad that having once loved someone makes it impossible to then like them.

4. How do you feel about Dr Pepper? It's my fallback if there's no Coke or Pepsi.

5. Who was the last person you took a picture of? Myself. My toes actually. New pedi meets the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica.

6. Are you upset about anything? Upset? No. Unsettled, perhaps.

7. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? I will always think that. No matter how much the evidence seems to prove otherwise.

8. Are you a bad influence? I wish!

9. Night out or night in? Afternoon out, night in. Economic restraints demand it.

10. Has anyone ever called you perfect before? No.

11. What song is stuck in your head? The words "Santa Monica" (#5) remind me of this.

12. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m., who do you want it to be? The Sweepstakes Prize Patrol with one of those massive checks.


13. Do you smile a lot? Yes.




This weekend's challenge: Give us a few of your favorite things, in whichever form you want, in 33 words exactly.

A little preamble is in order. This entry is an homage to one of my favorite writers, Nora Ephron. I adored her work. It was without pretense and was always, always highly relate-able. When she passed away, it was as though I had lost a friend -- even though our lives could not have been more different. She was a child of privilege, born to a husband-wife screenwriting duo in Beverly Hills. She was very close to her sisters. She was a mother, thrice married. She was Jewish. None of those could be said of me. And yet, as I read her essays about life, I understood every word.

Last weekend, for my birthday, I got a copy of her last book: I Remember Nothing. It's a poignant, candid, funny exploration of aging. It ends with sister pieces called "What I Won't Miss" and "What I Will Miss." In retrospect, it's clear she knew she was losing her battle with cancer when she composed these lists. This makes them even more meaningful. 

And so, in my own humble way, I'm paying tribute to my girl Nora by using her "What I Will Miss" format for "My Favorite Things."



The skyline
My cats
Train rides
Coffee shop breakfasts
Blue skies
Gray skies
Long talks
Good books
Movies, even bad ones
The Beatles
Watching my niece and nephew


PS There's a regular contributor here at Trifecta whose style reminds me of Nora Ephron -- and I mean that as high praise. Like Nora, she knows what to include to give her writing authenticity, and what to leave out so it still moves. Her name is Gina, and here's her blog. (Yes, I do care what you write!)

About the photos: Life Magazine makes a library of their archive images available for free to use for “non-commercial personal purposes."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Saturday 9

1) Are you still feasting on cold turkey, or any other leftovers, from your Thanksgiving meal? No. I cleaned my plate. No leftovers.

2) AAA says Thanksgiving is a big travel weekend. Did you venture far from home for your holiday dinner? According to Google maps, I traveled just over 21 miles round trip.

3) Is this weekend the official start of the Christmas season for you? Yes. I did a little shopping today. It wasn't too crowded and it was fun.


4) Which couple would you rather hang out with -- Fred and Wilma Flintstone or George and Jane Jetson? I'll go with Fred and Wilma because they have the Rubbles as best friends, and I think Barney and Bamm-Bamm are adorable.

5) Have you/would you ever get your teeth whitened? Yes. Both professionally and with Crest White Strips.

6) Do you still have your high school class ring? Rediscovered it at my mother's house. Gonna sell it for the gold.

7) Here's $50. You must spend it all in one place. What are you going to do with it? Put it toward my credit card. Not very exciting, but wise.

8) Could your vehicle use a trip to the car wash right about now? No car

9) Did you hit the snooze button this morning?
No. I crashed on the sofa and slept fitfully..(I hate when I do that!)


Merry Christmas, Andrea

She's one of the local kids I "adopted" from the holiday tree at Whole Foods. She lives below the poverty line and this could be the only gift she gets. I chose her because she's 15 and because she asked for a coat or a jacket, instead of cosmetics or electronics. So many grab the younger kids who ask for toys because they are cute and fun to shop for. But 15 is still young enough to be very disappointed and disillusioned at Christmastime, and we can't have that. And so she's getting this Old Navy wool coat from "Santa."

I'm lucky that my town is so supportive and I have this opportunity to pitch in and help kids like Andrea. It does take a village to raise a child, and it's my pleasure to do my part.

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 4

Isn't it great when something turns out better than you expected? That was last night with my friend John and his friend Michael. We ate and ate and ate at The Park Grill in Millennium Park, a traditional turkey feast with potatoes and asparagus and cranberry compote. We laughed a lot, gossiped quite a bit, and Michael told me all about being stranded in New York after Hurricane Sandy. Then John gave me my birthday present -- a frame for photos of my mom and some candles.

I had been dreading Thanksgiving/birthday Day for quite some time. First holiday and first birthday without my mom. First holiday and first birthday without the old traditions. I wore my mother's diamond-chip cocktail ring last night to feel like she was with me.

Last night there was nothing but acceptance and comfort and fun. I know that's what you're supposed to feel when you're with your family, but I seldom have. John and Michael gave me a welcoming evening, and that's something to be very thankful for!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving meme

I'm thankful that Kwizgiver so generously lets me swipe her material.

1. Are you celebrating Thanksgiving at home or elsewhere this year? With whom will you spend Thanksgiving Day? This is my first Thanksgiving without my mom, and to make it more awful, it's also my birthday. So I am very grateful for my friend, John. Two months ago, right after my mom died, he said that instead of sending flowers or showing up for the service, he promised I would never, ever be alone for Thanksgiving or my birthday as long as we both shall live. It was lovely to not have worry about today, to have it settled way in advance. Anyway, this evening, we're getting dressed up and having a traditional turkey dinner at the Millennium Park Grill on Michigan Avenue. It's a beautiful spot.

2. What do you have for breakfast on Thanksgiving? I see cereal in my future.

3. Do you go to a Thanksgiving parade or watch one on TV? No, but I am watching the NCIS marathon on USA Network. I am thankful for Mark Harmon's blue eyes. And how frankly he acts his age! Just now he told a bad guy who was bossing him at gunpoint to lower his voice because, "Old doesn't mean deaf."

4. Do you serve appetizers, lunch, or snacks during the day? I'm going to try eat responsibly today and save my porking out for the restaurant.

5. What do you wear on Thanksgiving? I'm dressing like a big girl, which means no jeans and real shoes, not tennies.

6. What's your Thanksgiving table like -- do you use special plates/silver/glasses, etc? Do you have a centerpiece? A color scheme? Candles? Haven't seen it yet.

7. Do you serve buffet-style or family-style? What do you have to drink? No buffet, we're ordering off the menu. And, since it's me and John, alcohol will be imbibed.

8. Once you're at the table, do you say grace or a toast or does everyone go around and say what they're thankful for? Since it's ThanksBirthday, as John calls it, he better make a toast!

9. Do you have dessert right after the main meal or later on? Right there on the spot.

10. What do you do with your leftovers? We'll see.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012



Since Thursday is Thanksgiving, let me give thanks for film, kinescopes and videotape. Without the magic of media, I couldn't be as familiar with Groucho Marx. What a loss that would be, because everything about the man cracks me up. His silly, painted-on mustache. The stooped walk. His wonderful, goofy songs (Lydia the Tattooed Lady, Hello I Must Be Going, Hooray for Captain Spaulding). His timing and delivery. Even the names of his movie characters: Hugo Z. Hackenbush, Rufus T. Firefly, Otis B. Driftwood.

Here are 13 of his quotes. As you read these lines, imagine them spoken as only Groucho could.

1. If you want to see a comic strip, watch me take a shower.

2. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

3. Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read anyway.

4. Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. And how he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.

5. Don’t gulp that poison! It’s $4 a bottle!

6. Any man who can see through women is missing a lot.

7. I don’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.

8. I have here an accident policy that will absolutely protect you no matter what happens. If you lose a leg, we'll help you look for it.

9. I intend to live forever or die trying.

10. I’ve known and respected your husband for many years – and if you’re good enough for him, you’re good enough for me!

11. Here’s to our wives and our girlfriends … May they never meet!

12. I could dance with you until the cows came home. On second thought, I’d rather dance with the cows until you came home.

13. I wish you’d keep my hands to yourself.

For more information about 

the Thursday Thirteen,

or to play yourself, click here.

 PS One of the benefits of blogging forever is that this TT is actually five years old, originally posted as my Thursday Thirteen #42 in November, 2007. But it's still funny, and I'm still grateful for Groucho.

I Want Wednesday

I want my neighbors to not be so weird. Their little dog barks all day long, and this is a "no dogs allowed" building. It upsets me not because the noise bothers me. I like dogs. It bothers me because it's so freaking irresponsible. Someone who is not me is going to complain and that poor pup will end up in a shelter, I just know it.

And their teenage son! He smokes sickeningly sweet cigars all up and down the hallway. And today he was actually -- get this -- cutting hair in the hall. He had a swivel chair and and electric clippers and everything. Why he was doing this in the hall and not in their condo, I don't know. I was too shocked to ask.

The ones I really feel sorry for* are my neighbors on the other side. They are trying to sell their unit. I don't imagine many people will leap at living in a building with a smoky salon in the hallway.

*Other than that poor dog!

The return of the hangers

Just to bring y'all back up to date -- I haven't been blogging about what's really going on inside of me because it hurts.

My grief over my mother's death has caught up with me. I was really pretty OK immediately after it happened. I know to those who don't share my faith my initial reaction may not make sense to you, but I was actually relieved and happy for my mom. She had lived in fear since her first attack of ischemic colitis last March. She was in such pain and misery during her last hospital stay, just before her death in September. I was grateful her suffering was over and comforted by the thought of her healthy, happy and whole in Heaven.

My faith got me through the worst of it. And so, in a way, did my own fear. The bills she left were daunting, and as the responsible party I was stuck muddling through the legal and fiscal mess.

But now the estate paperwork is coming together. The shock of passing and the relief of her ascension have morphed into being facts of my life. And I'm left with missing her.

And knowing that this is a new chapter of my life. One without the traditions I grew up with. And that's OK, since many of the family traditions I grew up with left me unhappy. But they are what I knew. They weren't comfortable but they were familiar.

So I have been sporadically miserable.

I shared this with my best friend, especially the scary emotions triggered by merely purchasing hangers. I realized not only the depth of my grief, but also how unstable my life feels right now.

Guess what he sent me in the mail. Yes, a box of padded "huggable hangers," just like the ones my mommy bought me for my birthday in years gone by. And there was a lovely card included. The longest handwritten note I have ever received from him in 8 years of almost constant contact. He promises to be here for me now, months after the event, because now is when I'll need him because everyone else thinks I've moved on. But he knows better. When his beloved grandmother died, twenty years ago, he was left in charge because his mother was too grief stricken and his siblings didn't even think to "step up." So he knows the routine -- the distractions of friendly, helpful phone calls and notes and dealings with wills and estates eventually give way to the humdrum reality of loss. Day in, day out loss.

It was a wise gesture. The kind of thing he excels at. He has always had a way of getting through to me with the right message at the right time.

I only wish he was happier in his own life, in his own skin. But that's a post for another day. Writing this left me weary!

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 3

One of my coworkers took me to lunch at Ada's, one of my favorite restaurants. I had the salmon omelet and wheat toast. Then she bought me a pair of tiny cupcakes for dessert. I was very glad that she remembered and fussed over me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 2

I spent the weekend in Southern California, celebrating my birthday with my oldest friend. Here you see my new pedi enjoying the Pacific Ocean. It was so amazing to me that one day I wake up in chilly, autumnal Chicago and the next day I'm in LA. If I live to be 100, I'll never be casual about the wonder of air travel.

I told my friend -- whose life is getting all dramatic again -- that I only have two things on my weekend "to do" list: get a fresh pedi and see the Lincoln movie. Of course those are two things I could do here at home, but I couldn't do them in the sun and I couldn't do them with her. I tried to make the weekend as stress free and fun for her as for me.

My hotel -- I didn't want her to worry about cleaning her apartment for me, plus her kids aren't always easy to be around -- was in a convenient location and was affordable ("affordable" was key for this trip as it wasn't budgeted and I'm crawling out from under my expenses related to my mother's estate). It was also kind of a dump. But it was clean and quiet and I was able to get a lot of sleep.

Saturday was rainy so we spent the day getting this pedi and going to see the exceptional Lincoln movie. She and I are big Abe-o-philes, having visited his home in Springfield together several times. So seeing the movie together made it more special. We had dinner together at a small Italian restaurant, a neighborhood place I discovered during my morning walk. It was charming. (I did have tummy trouble both mornings I woke up in Los Angeles. Don't know if it was the water or the sudden change in my diet -- I admit to a dearth of vegetables.)

Sunday we went shopping in a sunny, outdoor mall in Santa Monica. Christmas decorations and palm trees -- I know it from my annual holiday trips to Key West, but I'll never get used to it. Discovered two stores we don't have here -- Fresh and Lush. It was great fun to play among the lotions and potions.

Then we had drinks at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. It was gorgeous! Ocean view, mountains, sand and the amusement park rides from Santa Monica Pier. Then I insisted on going into the water. My friend has gone soft -- she deemed 65º "too cold." But it was beautiful and fun and memorable.

Then we went back to her place for pizza. I showed her the disc my niece made containing photos of my mom throughout her life. My oldest friend grew up in the apartment building behind our house and knew my mom well, so it was poignant but meaningful to share the memories with her. Then she showed me a framed photo she had of her parents, taken before they were married, looking so young and hopeful. It was sad to realize that, between us, we were now 0/4 in the parent department. We are now adults, aren't we?

I boarded a plane at 11:50 PM Sunday night and was back at O'Hare by 5:50 AM Monday morning. Amazing!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Live and Let Die

1) "Live and Let Die" was nominated for an Oscar as best song. Do you have a favorite movie song? Oh, so many! But the first that comes to mind is "Somebody's Baby," the Jackson Browne song from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

2) The latest Bond movie, Skyfall, is crazy successful. Have you seen it/do you want to see it? This may be the first Bond movie I pay to see and watch, start to finish. It has gotten fabulous reviews.

3) What do you think makes Bond movies so enduringly popular? Sex and danger, I guess. I really don't know. I'm not much of a fan. But I know so many people who love the series.

4) Do you have a favorite among the actors who have played "Bond, James Bond?" Again, I'm not really much of a fan. But definitely not Roger Moore. He always seemed too old, and it looked like elder abuse, seeing him dangling from a cord from a plane or whatever derring do was being done.

5) Bond orders martinis -- "shaken, not stirred." What's your regular drink order? Well, I just had a light beer, and it hit the spot. Maybe because it was free. I'm at LAX as I write this, in the Admiral's Lounge for the first time, trying not to lather myself up into hysteria over my upcoming flight.
6) Moving from the bar to breakfast -- do you have a favorite cereal? It changes. Right now the lucky brand is Honey Bunches of Oats.

7) Let's daydream about warm weather. Would you rather swim in a lake, the ocean, or an outdoor pool? Pool. I like having a bathroom nearby and a safe place to stow my stuff. (I always have lots of stuff.)

8) Did you get 8 hours' sleep last night? Yes! And it was blissful! I'm away from home right now -- visiting my oldest friend in LA -- and I have to admit I didn't miss my little demon cat Reynaldo eating my hair or howling at the light fixtures or turning the lights on and off or ....

9) What are you wearing on your feet right now? Socks and tennies.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy birthday to me, Part 1

Wednesday night my friend Barb was going to treat me to a special birthday dinner before we saw Sister Act at the Auditorium. She chose the restaurant -- Trattoria No. 10 -- and made the reservation for 6:15. That would give us an hour to eat because the curtain is at 7:30.

She was 20 minutes late. She forgot my birthday present. We didn't make the curtain.

At first I was very hurt by this.

But then I got over myself.

First of all, it was really kind of nice to not be rushed. Instead of being out of there by 7:15, we were done dining a little after 9:00. I even had time to enjoy a fabulous apple crostata for dessert.

Secondly, for all that she can be thoughtless in some areas, she has proven herself a true friend in others. The most sophisticated of my friends, she never leaves the city limits unless absolutely forced to. And yet she drove the half hour to my mom's visitation and service and stayed for hours, even though at that point none of our mutual friends were there yet. She also made a generous contribution to my mother's favorite animal shelter in her memory. And Barb and my mom had never met.

And, last month, when I was freaking out about the funeral costs and afraid I'd lose my job, Barb made it clear that she will never let me starve. And she reiterated that Wednesday night: I can always get freelance assignments from her. She cares about me as a friend and respects me as a writer and if ever find myself unemployed again, she will use her clout to get me work. That's very comforting.

So I didn't get my gift and I missed a play that I didn't much care about seeing anyway.

But I had a delicious dinner (pumpkin ravioli) and warm conversation with a friend who cares about me and is there when it counts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012



These are my favorites. I didn't include any TV cops because they seemed like a slightly different category (and one I may need for another TT some day). Therefore, because Castle is about a cop/private citizen pair, yummy Nathan Fillion doesn't qualify. Alas.

1) DAVID ADDISON -- Moonlighting. I have always loved Bruce Willis very much, and never more than in his only TV series. His mystery-solving skills are completely irrelevant to my enjoyment of the show.

2) THOMAS MAGNUM -- Magnum, PI. Tom Selleck was so completely charming as Thomas Sullivan Magnum. He was also very good on Friends as Dr. Richard Burke. If he were to ask me, I'd tell him to skip the drama and stay with comedy. (If you see happen to run into him, tell him that's the Gal's career advice.)

3) JIM ROCKFORD -- The Rockford Files. I love how grumpy Rockford is. James Garner may have had matinee idol looks, but he has the attitude of an old man who'd tell you to get off his lawn.

4) PERRY MASON -- Perry Mason. I didn't watch this show as a child because the theme music frightened me. (Check it out below.) However now I go out of my way to catch it whenever I'm home sick. I love how willing Perry is to almost break the law and taunt the prosecutor. Slightly overweight, well-heeled and always in a suit, he doesn't look like a rebel, but he really was one.

5) ARCHIE GOODWIN -- Nero Wolfe. Orchid-loving gourmand Wolfe may have been the brains of the organization, but Archie (as played by Timothy Hutton) was the legs and the brawn. Streetwise, born to wear a fedora, and with a weakness for a well-turned ankle.

6) ADRIAN MONK -- Monk. Yes, his idiosyncrasies and attention to detail were fun to watch. But I loved the sad subtext, how much Mr. Monk still loved and mourned his late wife, Trudy.

7) ELLERY QUEEN -- Ellery Queen. Like Nero Wolfe, this series is of a specific time. And like Nero Wolfe, it starred a Hutton, this time Timothy's father, Jim. This show was goofy and sweet and deserved a longer run than it had.

8) REMINGTON STEELE -- Remington Steele. I just discovered this show and am belatedly in love with Young Pierce Brosnan. I love how willing he is to make a fool of himself. Remington is really a very bad detective. I'm also loving how Remington and Laura never go beyond necking. I'm not sure why really, but it's romantic nevertheless.

9) BEN MATLOCK -- Matlock. It's a kinda dumb show, but I'm a sucker for Andy Griffith.

10) SPENSER -- Spenser, For Hire. I'm a huge fan of the Spenser books and have a hard time separating the screen characters from the original ones on the page. Robert Urich is too good looking to be Spenser, Barbara Stock seems more like a Baywatch Babe than Harvard-trained psychiatrist Susan, Carolyn McCormick isn't slutty enough to be Rita ... you get the idea. But watched on its own merits, it's a good show. Taut plots and terrific Boston scenery.

11) SHAWN SPENCER -- Psych. James Roday is so good with the fast patter, he's nearly as charming as David Addison. I enjoy the show, too. Am I the only one who has noticed how many really entertaining shows are on USA network?

12)  BATMAN -- Batman. No, really! He was so smart and earnest and good and true. Forget Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, George Clooney, et al. There's only one real Batman, Adam West!

13) JESSICA FLETCHER -- Murder, She Wrote. Ok, this show kinda sucks. But I love a plucky middle aged writer indulging in derring-do. And I don't she ever fired a gun. I admire that.

For more information about 

the Thursday Thirteen,

or to play yourself, click here.

I Want Wednesday

I want more of that. My best friend called me today. Actually spoke to me in real time. He knew from recent emails that I'm unraveling a bit and he called to shore me up.

I know that he really can't call me as often as once did. But that doesn't stop me from missing those good old days. He's so reasonable and comforting when concentrating on my life. And, as he deals with the unpleasant reality of unemployment during the Recession, I like to think I can be supportive of him.

Oh, well. It is what it is. I'm just grateful he so reliably lifts my spirits and that I feel better today.

A mixed bag

Greetings from Estate Land! It feels like I live here, digging my way through papers and policies and deeds, etc. I am very tired of this, but there is progress to report.

Snoopy came through! I received a check for $5,600 from MetLife from policies my grandmother and dad took out on my mother back in the late 1940s and mid 1950s. It took a lot of phone calls, letters, and even some yelling, but the check was deposited into my account this morning. Hopefully another check is on the way for the sale of MetLife stocks. Keep your fingers crossed. This money could help me dig out from under the debt my mom's service left me with.

We should be out of the house soon. My kid sister believes she's on track to have everything personal/unsellable out of my mom's place so an estate sale can be held and we can be done with all of that portion of the program by 12/31. I know this is hard for her, and I'm sorry. But it has to be done and I can't wait for it to be behind us.

It may be time to switch lawyers. My lawyer has been very generous in giving me advice but he's reluctant to take the reins. Frankly he handles estates much larger than my mother's (let's face it -- all she left was debt) and he tells me I can't afford to have him represent me, making calls or appearing in court. These are all things I can do pro se, he says, saving myself money. But I don't wanna! And not just because I find addressing the court daunting. I'm scared that I will put a foot wrong and cost my sisters and me money. So before the end of the year, I think I'm going to have to go lawyer shopping.

I wish this was all done. I hate being an adult.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Even hangers remind me of her

My mother liked to buy me hangers. Specifically padded "huggable hangers" she saw on HSN. She liked thinking of  the shoulders of my cardigans looking natural, not pointy.

I need more hangers. I went to CVS and bought 10 plastic tubular ones for less than $5. I paid for them using a CVS giftcard we found among my mom's things -- a card I bought her originally but she died before she could use. So in a way, she bought me the tubular hangers, too.

But I don't want these tubular hangers. I want the "huggable hangers" my mommy chose for me.

It's predawn and I'm sad about hangers.

Sometimes I don't think I'm taking this as well as I like to think I am.