Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Papa Loved Mama (1992)

1) This song is about a trucking "accident" that was covered extensively in the local paper. What's the big news story in your neighborhood? Today is the funeral of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, so the city is saying goodbye to one of our most beloved citizens. He's being laid to rest on what would have been his 84th birthday, which seems very fitting.

2) The action centers around a motel. When is the last time you stayed in a hotel or motel? Christmastime in Key West.

3) In the song, Papa wants to surprise Mama with a bottle of wine. Do you prefer white or red? I'll just have a Coke, if you don't mind. Wine gives me a headache.

4) This week's featured artist, Garth Brooks, has said that the late Chris LeDoux -- singer, sculptor and rodeo champion -- is his hero. If you had to single out someone this morning as your hero, who would it be?  My all-time idol is JBKO. She was a lady who took everything life handed her -- and it seems it was always either very, very good or devastatingly bad -- and faced it head on and with tremendous grace.

5) Before he was able to support himself as a singer, Brooks was a bouncer at a bar. Have you ever had an encounter with a bouncer (either that he threw you out or came to your aid)? Nope. I've had a bartender or two come to my assistance, but I've never met a bouncer.

6) According to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), Garth surpassed The Beatles as the top selling artist of the last 25 years. Whose music do you listen to more -- Garth Brooks or the The Beatles? If you don't already know the answer to this, you don't visit this blog often.

7) While 1992 was a banner year for Garth Brooks, it was a bad one for another country legend, Willie Nelson. Willie ended up paying the IRS more than $9,000,000. When you file your taxes, will you qualify for a refund? Or will you owe money? Refund.

8) When this song was popular in 1992, Sarah Ferguson, then the Duchess of York, was in all the papers and magazines for her controversial conduct -- including being photographed sunbathing topless with a man not her husband. Today no one seems to care much about what Sarah Ferguson does. Can you think of someone else whose fame was fleeting? Remember Paris Hilton? No one else seems to, either.
9) This is Super Bowl weekend. Where will you be watching The Big Game? I've got about a million movies on my DVR that I'm going to catch up on instead.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thursday Thirteen #228


I admit I have become obsessed with classic television shows. I watch them, I study them, and now I'm blogging about them. Me-TV is my #1 go-to station these days. Part of it is nostalgia. Part of it is me giving props to the biggest cultural juggernaut to hit during my lifetime.

So it's with great affection that I look back on Nielsen's top-rated shows for the 1964-1965 TV season. I admit I'm old enough to remember all of them, though my parents wouldn't let me watch Peyton Place and Combat! really didn't hold my attention for long. Looking over this list, I could do a whole other post about what it tells us about women in the early-mid 1960s, but that's another TT for another time.

1) Bonanza. NBC. Season 6. Ben Cartwright and his three sons ride herd over their ranch, The Ponderosa.

2) Bewitched. ABC. Season 1. Samantha is a witch who, though married to an ordinary mortal, cannot resist using her magic powers.

3) Gomer Pyle, USMC. CBS. Season 1. Misadventures of Mayberry's Gomer in the Marine Corps.

4) The Andy Griffith Show. CBS. Season 5. Sheriff Andy Taylor keeps the peace in a sleepy Southern town called Mayberry.

5) The Fugitive. ABC. Season 2. Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly convicted of killing his wife, runs from Lt. Gerrard and death chamber.

6) The Red Skelton Hour. CBS. Season 14.  A musical-variety show starring comedian Red Skelton.

7) The Dick Van Dyke Show. CBS. Season 4. Rob Petrie's life as a comedy writer for the fictional Alan Brady Show, and suburban husband and father.

8) The Lucy Show. CBS. Season 3. The misadventures of widow Lucy Carmichael, secretary to stuffy banker Mr. Theodore Mooney.

9) Peyton Place. ABC. Season 1. The continuing story of love and scandal in a small New England town.

10) Combat! ABC. Season 3. The story of an American infantry squad fighting in Europe during WWII.

11) Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. NBC. Season 11. An anthology series for the whole family, hosted by Walt Disney.

12) The Beverly Hillbillies. CBS. Season 3. The rural Clampetts strike it rich and find themselves living "in the Hills of Beverly."

13) My Three Sons. ABC. Season 5. Widower Steve Douglas raises his sons with the help of Uncle Charlie.

Please join us for The NEW THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.


This meme is no more. And yet I persist in answering the three questions it asked each week. Stubborn, ain't I?

• What are you currently reading? The Cracker Factory by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt. I first read this novel more than a decade ago, and I literally stumbled upon it when going through a carton of stuff in my bedroom. I'm enjoying it. Cassie is an alcoholic who keeps finding herself in a sanitarium, or "Cracker Factory." She's funny, but not that funny. In a way, that makes the book more credible. When characters crack too wise, are too clever, they seem more like refugees from a Neil Simon play than real people. Cassie's struggles seem kind of dated now, but women had a more limited view of themselves and their options in the 1970s, when this book is set. It's sobering (pardon the pun) to remember what the women who went a bit before me faced.

On a side note, the well worn paperback has claw marks on the cover. I suspect my late, lamented girlcat Charlotte "autographed" it for me. I like carrying that reminder of her around in my purse.
• What did you recently finish reading? Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s by Tom Doyle. As one who reads obsessively about Sir Paul, I was surprised to learn anything I didn't know, and yet this was filled with much I didn't know. For example, this detailed how he got out of that Japanese prison, explaining how desperately the authorities wanted his drug bust to go away. If you, or anyone on your gift list, is a Beatle fan, I recommend this one.

• What will you read next? I dunno.

I am happy

It occurred to me this evening as I was walking home from the train that I am, suddenly, happy.

I had stomach trouble Sunday and Monday, so bad that I was housebound. I have felt stressed about all the craziness at work. I've fallen far off my resolution track (except for finances; I'm doing OK in that regard).

Today I was back at work and my boss seemed ... OK. Perhaps his loooove fever has broken. Then after work, I went to a going away party for The Chocolate Covered Spider and Blondie McBlonderson. I stayed about an hour. Didn't drink but did take advantage of the free food. (Bad for my weight, good for my budget.)

I didn't stay long. I don't like Blondie or Spidey and didn't like being a hypocrite. But it did seem to make them happy that I bothered to show up. Really. Blondie and I chatted a bit and Spidey actually hugged me and said, "This must be a big deal if the Gal showed up!"

It made me happy to make them happy. I may not like them, but they are people. And if such a small thing as sharing a couple glasses of ginger ale and three pieces of flatbread pizza can make them happy, then I was happy to do it. It literally cost me nothing. And doing good can be its own reward.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"My baby just wrote me a letter"

Last weekend I found myself distracted by my boss' bizarre behavior after the defection of his blonde mafia. A long-married man of about 60, he works overtime to be charming and relevant to the 35 year old Chocolate Covered Spider and 29 year old Blondie McBlonderson. Sometimes I think it's sweet that he's crushing on them, sometimes it hits me as a little skin crawly. Well, now that they have both resigned and are working through their notice, he's gotten downright wacky.

First he told us that the candidates who replace Spidey and Blondie should be "young, well-dressed women." He says he's basing on that what our client contact wants. First that's illegal. Second, it's bullshit. "Young, well-dressed women" is what he wants.

This week, I found out about the email. After Blondie told him she was leaving, he fired off a very emotional email. He told her how angry he was that she was leaving, that he felt as though she'd "knifed him in the back."

What? She's leaving to work with her husband in his internet start up. My boss didn't enter into her equation at all.

Even worse, he visited out clients' downstate offices and actually asked our client contact if she was as "mad" as he was about Blondie's and Spidey's departure.  

What? Yes, by all means, put it in our client's head that she'll be getting a compromised level of service from us.

This whole thing is getting so creepy that I don't want to go in tomorrow. Too much weird.

Sunday Stealing

Easy A-Z meme

A. What are your favorite smells? Cinnamon. My current favorite scent is Exceptional. According to the manufacturer, it's "a distinctly feminine fragrance, crisp and elegant, with a spicy floral heart and a sensual dry down." 
B. Can you go a whole day without caffeine? Sure, if I was willing to endure headaches and withdrawal, so let's not.
C. Who knows more about you than anyone else? My oldest friend. We've known each other since Kindergarten.
D. What song did you last listen to? "That's All" by Genesis. "Just when I thought it was going all right,  I found I was wrong when I thought I was right, It's always the same, it's just a shame, that's all ..."
E. Do you wear socks to bed? Very infrequently
F. Can you change a car tire? No
G. If you could choose one color to wear for a whole year, what color would you choose? Blue. Specifically Pantone 294, which is Cubbie blue.
H. Do you cook often? More than I used to. I'm trying to economize.
I. What’s your least favorite season? Summer. Heat makes me grumpy.
J. Can you sew? I can hem and I can mend.
K. What is your favorite fruit? Toss up between peaches and apples.
L. Are you health conscious? I'm working on improving my behavior in this area.
M. Do you think you’re very conscious of the feelings of others or more self oriented? I try to be sensitive, but I fear I'm not.
N. Do you curse a lot? Hell to the yes.
O. Do you remember lyrics easily? Yes
P. Can you roll your tongue? Yes
Q. Is there a certain food you often crave for no reason? Sometimes it's chips, often it's chocolate
R. What was the last book you purchased? The 2014 biography of JKBO. It was intense, but I learned a lot so I enjoyed it.
S. Where was your last vacation? I spent Christmas in Key West
T. Last movie you watched? Did you enjoy it? American Sniper. No, I didn't enjoy it at all.
U. Think of your oldest friend. If you met them now do you think you would still become friends? I like to think so. She maintains we're still basically the same as we were as Kindergarteners -- she's very warm and friendly, I'm very independent. We have both always been rather dreamy.
V. Paris, London and New York… which one would you live in, which would you visit for a day, which would you visit for a fortnight? New York for life, Paris for a day, London for a fortnight.
W. Do you usually sleep with your closet door open or closed? The door stays cracked open. My walk-in closet is where I stow the cats' litter boxes.
X. Have you ever broken a bone? If so, how did it happen? My right little finger. I was playing volley ball ... badly.
Y. How do you like your eggs? Over easy.
Z. What was your last argument about and who with? A coworker. It blew over quickly.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Best Thing About Me Is You (2010)

1) What would you say is your best quality? I'm there for my friends.

2) In this song, Ricky sings that he's "allergic to tragedy." Do you suffer from any allergies? The drugs morphine and erythromycin, and bee sting. It's because of the last one that I have to carry an Epipen.

3) Benadryl, the popular allergy medication, is sometimes used to treat insomnia. What do you do when you can't sleep? Read or watch TV

4) The lyrics to this week's song encourage us, "Don't wait until maƱana." Are you a procrastinator?  Very much so.

5) Ricky Martin is a judge on The Voice ... Mexico, aired on Mexican television. When you watch competition shows like The Voice, Dancing with the Stars or American Idol, do you usually agree with the judges? Or do you think you could do a better job? I don't watch American Idol auditions anymore because I swear I can't understand who makes the cut and who doesn't. Once the show starts, I generally agree with Harry and Keith.

6) Ricky tells interviewers that when he was very young, he'd sing in the family kitchen, pretending a wooden spoon was his microphone. Crazy Sam admits to lip synching into a black Magic Marker. When you gave imaginary concerts, what did you use as a microphone? Hairbrush

7) Ricky began working at the tender age of 9, performing in commercials. How old were you when you received your first paycheck? My first full-time, 40 hr/week check came when I was 17.

8) Ricky does yoga to stay in shape. Have you ever tried yoga? Yes. Didn't like. I found it impossible to completely relax in that room full of strangers.

9) Ricky is of primarily Spanish descent, with a little French mixed in. When you think of French cuisine, what comes to mind? pastry

Thank you, Mr. Cub

It feels like a death in the family. The greatest Cub player ever, Ernie Banks, has died. He was 83.

He was the first player of color to wear a Cub uniform. He was a Cub for all 2,528 games of his career, and the mark he left on my team and this city is immeasurable. But, since baseball is all about the stats, let's celebrate him with what is measurable.

•  512 Home runs
•  Back to back MVP Awards
•  Two time home run champion
•  14 All Star appearances
•  Major league Hall of Fame
•  First Cub to have his number retired
•  Winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
•  Named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress

Those last two make me want to cry, because unless you live in Chicagoland, you can't know what he's meant to us.

This man played short stop and first base from 1953 to 1971. Those were turbulent years in America, and here. (1968 Democratic Convention, anyone?) With his talent and spirit and class, Ernie gave us all someone to look up to and cheer. It doesn't matter that a lot of those Cub teams were losing teams, and that we never got to the World Series. He made each and every game feel like an opportunity.

He christened Wrigley Field, "The Friendly Confines." He coined the phrase for game day, "Let's play two." I've never known anyone to say Ernie turned down an autograph or a handshake. He was known for his work with the Live Above and Beyond Foundation and Kick Back, a group that collects gently used athletic shoes for young athletes in need. 

I saw Ernie Banks play. So did my father. So did my grandfather. He brought us all joy.

From The Chicago Tribune:

"Ernie Banks didn't invent day baseball or help build Wrigley Field. He just made the idea of playing a baseball game under the sun at the corner of Clark and Addison streets sound like a day in paradise, win or lose. ... He was a player who promoted the game like he was part of the marketing department. Not because he had to, but because he truly loved the Cubs and the game itself."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Well, that's done

Tuesday night's condo association meeting wasn't THAT bad, after all.

Oh, it was bad. Old Mr. B. can't hear and can't focus, but that didn't stop him from talking ... and talking ... and talking. Kathy and Pedro argued about which of them is better suited to lead us poor, benighted unit owners. Al the Building Manager had no real answers to anyone's questions. And I'm sooooo beyond caring.

But there are bright spots. We were joined by two long-time owners who previously haven't bothered showing up. Lawanda is quiet, but she had credibility and didn't just speak to hear herself speak. Brian, who has been full of questions about how the association works, surprised me by actually getting involved and running for a spot on the board. He won. Yea!

Plumbing Lady didn't bother to show up. I guess the Saturday evening voicemail I left her had some impact. I told her that once she determined what was causing her sink to back up, then I would talk to her about my liability, if any. That I am not doing anything because my sink is just fine. And that I'd be happy to discuss the situation (her word) longer at Tuesday night's meeting. Which, as I say, she didn't attend.

I still missed the State of the Union address and Redford night on TCM and quality time with my good old cat, Joey. But hopefully I wont' have to attend another of these dismal affairs until June.

Hear that? Me, neither!

Wednesday night, no one came over. Not a soul came a-rap-rap-rapping on my door. Thank God!

In the past five days I've had my across-the-hall neighbor come by to talk condo association doings and exchange phone numbers.* Then Plumbing Lady stuck a note on my door, saying that she expects me to tell her "the outcome of this situation," with "this situation" being her stopped-up sink. Then neighbor Brian came by twice, staying more than half an hour each time, to talk about condo association doings.

I've hated every moment of it.

I grew up watching The Dick Van Dyke Show, where Millie kept running over unannounced to visit Laura. Then there was The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where Rhoda would drop in unannounced to visit Mary. Mary had it better than Laura in that at least Rhoda knocked.

I am neither as friendly nor as gracious as Laura and Mary. Especially Mary. Like me in my "clown car" office, she sat out in the open, fully exposed to her coworkers, all day every day. How did she do it? How did she put up with Ted and Murray all day and then go home to merciless exposure to Rhoda, Phyllis and Georgette, and yet still manage to turn the world on with her smile?

When I get home from work, I like to sit on my lumpy futon, big old fat cat Joey at my side, and watch TV in my pajamas. Even if it's only 7:30. I don't want to hear about your stopped up sink (and I certainly don't want to pay for removing the clog) and I don't care what you think of Ken the Handyman or Al the Building Manager. It exhausts me pretending that I do care, it exhausts me pretending to be nice.

This Gal needs alone time to recharge. Without it, I get depressed and squirrely.

*Yeah, by all means, let's call each other every night, too. Oy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

He won't KILL them. He'll just WING them.

Tonight is our condo association meeting. If there was any way I could send Little Joe in my place, I would.

I'm in a bad mood about this gettogether for four reasons:

1) We just had a meeting a couple weeks ago, but not enough owners showed up to legally elect a board. I can't say that I blame my neighbors, exactly. If I could get out of these dismal affairs, I would. I kinda have to attend because of my  neighbor Sally. In her 40s, she's deaf and slightly disabled due to a stroke. She has asked me to sit with her at these meetings and type so that she could read what's being said from my laptop screen. Why not? I type for a living. I'm very fast, and it seemed like a nice, neighborly thing to do.

The thing of it is, though, I don't want to hear the same old/same old complaints and problems yet again. I really don't. It's frustrating and stressful.

2) "I'm not on the board." My neighbor Brian stopped by last night and peppered me with questions about condo association doings for 45 fucking minutes. Among my answers were phrases like, "I'm not on the board," "You'll have to ask the board tomorrow," and "This is why I don't want to be on the board." I don't like all this drama in my home. I have stress at work and I want to relax at home. I don't want neighbors dropping by, rapping on my door, and bringing me their issues.

3) Plumbing Lady. (See post immediately below) My downstairs neighbor left a note on my door, saying that her stopped-up sink is my fault and my financial responsibility. She has no proof of this, and I don't see how I can possibly be the cause of her problem. I left her a voicemail, telling her we could discuss it at tonight's meeting. I don't want to talk to her about this. I want Little Joe to shoot her.

4) The POTUS. I'm a news junkie. A political geek. The State of the Union address is very important to me, and I will miss it because I'll be typing away so Sally can know what's going on. I know Sally can't help her deafness, I know it must complicate her life and I know I shouldn't resent helping her. Which makes me feel guilty on top of resentful.

So tonight, as I sit there, wishing it to be over, this will be my mantra. Provided by Snarkypants:

I am not on the board! I have no greater responsibility than any of 23 other owners. Plumbing Lady can't make me pay for something that isn't my fault. And hopefully, but 8:30 tonight, all this will be behind me.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

No wonder!

My skin's messed up right now. It doesn't help that a tenacious strip of red remains from where Reynaldo scratched me (though I'm sure there won't be a scar), but mostly I'm upset about the two new zits.

I blame them on stress.

First there's been serious drama at work. Two of our three account executives resigned. We only have three, and that third one is about to give birth. Uh-oh.

Though I'm not sorry to see these two go. One is the Chocolate Covered Spider. She always appears goody-goody on the surface but that covers a will of iron. Unfortunately she isn't motivated by doing good work. She has to be in control. She has to be right. Consequently we clashed all the time. Spidey is moving to Indianapolis because her husband was transferred. She'll be working remotely from her new home throughout February and, as I understand it, by March 1 she'll be out of my life. Yea!

The second is Blondie McBlonderson. She lives and breathes stress. When the smallest thing doesn't go as expected, she unravels. She's leaving before January 30 to work with her husband at his new start up. He's welcome to her.

So why aren't I happier? My boss. He's completely freaking out. A man of 60, he works overtime to be charming and relevant to the 35 year old Spider and 29 year old Blondie. I bounce between thinking it's cute and thinking it's sad. At any rate, he's going to miss his girls a lot.

That's not my business. But this is: He's going to vet new job candidates before they go to HR, and he told us that "the client" would "obviously" prefer to work with "young, well dressed women."

Um ... that's illegal. Even if it's true, and I'm not convinced it is. And what if our client had expressed an antipathy toward African Americans, or Jews, or Hispanics? Would he have shared that with us? Would he restrict the candidates based on race or religion? Of course, none of that is relevant. My boss simply wants to replace his blonde mafia.

My boss' unprofessional behavior left me feeling very depressed.

Then there's my downstairs neighbor. I came home late Saturday afternoon to a note taped to my front door. Both my neighbors on the second and third floor are having trouble with "dirty water" backing up into their kitchen sinks, and she wants me to tell her "the outcome of this situation."

My drain is running just fine, and I don't dump anything down it except the occasional half pint of milk that's past it "use by" date, so I'm not convinced this has anything to do with me. It seems far more likely that either the resident of the second or third floor jammed too much into their garbage disposals, or perhaps the sewer line damage I keep hearing about at condo association meetings has had a negative impact on their pipes. (This would also help explain the infestation of drain flies I had to deal with.)

At any rate, it's not up to me to do anything to affect "the outcome of this situation." I'm certainly not paying a plumber Sunday/holiday rates to look at my operational sink. I left her a voice mail telling her that we could discuss this with our condo management company at the next meeting on Tuesday. (As if I didn't hate these meetings enough as it is.)


Once again, I'm not liking 21st century life.

Ben! Saddle up the horses. I want to ride off with you and the boys.

Sunday Stealing

Name Your Favorite…
  1. Place The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field
  2. Person It changes. Right now, at this moment, I'll go with my oldest friend because she was really there for me Saturday night when I was feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Color Blue
  4. Food Right now I'm jonesing for a ribeye steak
  5. Smell Cinnamon
  6. Book Reckless Youth by Nigel Hamilton
  7. Movie The Way We Were
  8. Music artist Sir Paul
  9. Thing to do when bored Farmville
  10. Genre of literature Biography
  11. Magazine Allure
  12. Texture Soft
  13. Time of day Around 3:00 PM
  14. Day of the week Saturday (if it's not too busy)
  15. Thing to learn about History
  16. Thing about yourself  I'm a committed and caring friend
  17. Lifehack (a time saving, efficiency technique for life) Shampoo doubles as a body wash and triples as a laundry pretreat for organic stains, like food or blood

    Saturday, January 17, 2015

    Saturday 9

    Saturday 9: Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart (1939)

    1) This song is about love at first sight. Do you believe that immediate attraction lasts? I'd like to think it does, but I'm not so sure.

    2) The lyrics mention "a breath of spring" and robins singing. Now that we're deep into winter, what do you miss about spring?   Baseball

    3) Though the world knew her as Judy Garland, this week's featured artist was born Frances Gumm and her family called her "Baby." Does your family have any pet names for you?  My father and grandfather each had a nickname for me, but they're both gone now.

    4) Because she was petite -- just 4'11 -- it was obvious when Garland gained even a few pounds and consequently she battled her weight her whole life. Now that we're in the new year, have you made any resolutions about your own diet? I'd love to lose weight but mostly I'm trying to eat healthier.

    5) The year this song came out, 1939, was the year Garland's most famous movie, The Wizard of Oz, was released. Which of her three traveling companions is your favorite: Scarecrow, Tin Man or Cowardly Lion? Scarecrow. Totally. "I could while away the hours, conferring with the flowers, consulting with the rain. My head I'd be scratching while my thoughts are busy hatching if I only had a brain."

    6) Barry Manilow enjoyed Judy's performance of this song so much he did a "dream duet" with her and included it in his recent CD. What performer who is no longer with us do you wish you could have seen in concert? Garland. Elvis. Frank. All good choices. But the first one that came to mind was Amy, Amy, Amy.

    7) Judy had a terrible problem with tardiness. Are you usually prompt? Usually. I depend on public transportation and it waits for no man.

    8) During World War II, Judy worked tirelessly to entertain the troops. Tell us about a cause that's near and dear to your heart.   My local food pantry. On Monday I'm taking a bag of canned goods and pasta over there. That people are going hungry right here in my neighborhood is a sobering thought, and this winter, when the schools closed for the frigid weather, so many parents had to take off work without pay and the kids missed their free school lunches.

    9) The American Film Institute lists Garland as the 8th greatest movie star of all time. Who is your all time favorite actor or actress? Certainly Garland would be one of them. She was always so genuine onscreen. With time I have come to appreciate Elizabeth Taylor more as an actress, too. But if I could only choose one, I'd have to go with The Great Kate. Hepburn was more than an actress, she was a force of nature. The AFI agrees with me. Here's their list.

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015


    This meme is no more. But that doesn't mean I can't answer the three Wednesday questions on my own. And so I shall.

    • What are you currently reading? Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s. A Christmas present. It's heavier than I expected it to be, and so far it's as much a love story as show biz biography. In 1970, Paul was a newlywed, a new father, and unexpectedly unemployed because the band he adored had imploded. He drank too much, smoked too much (of everything) and unraveled. It fell to wife Linda to alternately comfort him and kick his ass to get him through. As well illustrated by old whatshername above, I'm fascinated by how people cope with and recover (or don't recover) from adversity. With Paul, the key seems to be his natural talent and the love of a good woman.

    • What did you recently finish reading? Robert the Doll. Another Christmas gift. Robert is the demonic sailor doll who reigns over  Key West's East Martello Museum. I enjoy the stories of his enchantment, and the havoc he causes for those who don't give him his props and appreciated the thoroughness with which author David L. Sloan approached his other worldly subject.

    • What do you think you’ll read next? In my cleaning I stumbled upon The Cracker Factory by Joyce Rebeta Burditt.  Haven't thought about this book in at least a decade, but I really enjoyed it and it feels like a good time to revisit it.

    Let me know what you're reading, and how you're liking it.

    The Way They Were

    (... she said, borrowing a phrase)

    I watched two movies last night, Spellbound and Barefoot in the Park. The first I'd never seen before, the second I hadn't seen in at least a decade. I was struck by how two very well known leading men evolved.

    Spellbound and Gregory Peck. I saw this 1945 Hitchcock thriller for the first time with my classic movie group. I was surprised to see Gregory Peck, who would so indelibly play the heroic Atticus Finch, be by turns duplicitous and vulnerable and always very hot. This was only his fourth movie, just two years into his career, and he had yet to become the embodiment of all things noble that I love so in To Kill a Mockingbird.  I guess because Atticus is the ideal father figure, it never occurred to me that Peck was a fine piece of eye candy.

    Barefoot in the Park and Robert Redford. TCM is featuring Redford on Tuesday nights in January and this 1967 romantic comedy was on when I got home from Spellbound. I always rather dismissed this as lightweight, and it is. But seeing it last night was revelatory because Redford is so physically deft and funny. Yes, it's the part he originated on Broadway and played for more than 1000 performances, so it shouldn't surprise me that he was comfortable in the role. But I'm far more familiar with the cinematic Redford, the cool Golden Boy, the unattainable object of desire at the center of  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Out of Africa, The Natural and, of course, The Way We Were. Last night he was geeky and buttoned down and, when drunk, literally bouncing off walls. I wish he'd done more straight up comedy. There's a winning Jack Lemmony quality on display in Barefoot in the Park that we very seldom saw.

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Three for three!

    On Monday I brought my lunch, did 10 minutes of floor exercises and 25 minutes on the stationery bike, and I went through every item on my kitchen counter and am parting with a lot of crap-- including but not limited to expired coupons and OTC meds.

    I wish I could honestly report that my home is looking so much better since January 1, but I'd be lying. The important thing is that I'm keeping this promise to myself and am improving my personal and financial environment.

    I'm learning that's a key part of this -- to remind myself that deserve better surroundings. I'm the only one who can make this happen, and so I shall.

    Sunday, January 11, 2015

    Yeah, but ...

    Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday is a big deal at my church. Service is our sacrament, and Dr. King certainly inspires us to do our part, and then to do more, to make the world a better place. I get it.

    Today's sermon was not only about Dr. King but Sister Simone Campbell, one of the "nuns on the bus," who encourages us to "walk toward trouble," not away from it, as we strive to serve. A laudable idea, to be sure.

    But my heart was hurting when I entered church this morning. I wanted someone more learned than I to put the events in France of this past week into perspective for me. I didn't get that from today's service. I was disappointed.

    My regular minister was on vacation. Maybe the associate just isn't fleet and flexible enough to rewrite his sermon in time.

    I wish Dr. King was with us today. I'd love to hear his feelings about Ferguson and Garner and George Zimmerman being arrested for violent acts yet again ... and Paris.

    I don't know what to make of the world I find myself in. I need help. I didn't find it within my house of worship today. This doesn't shake my faith in God, but it does shake my faith in our ministers.

    Sunday Stealing

    26.What experience would you love to do all over again? I really enjoyed my birthday trip to Las Vegas
    27.What was the best gift you received? Definitely the purse from my coworker. It was such a lovely and unexpected gesture!
    28.How did your overall outlook on life evolve? I am trying to relax more. I don't want to waste my life on worry.
    29.What was the biggest problem you solved? Solved? Instead I'll say I've made progress toward improving my bathroom.
    30.What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it? The night my oldest friend and I spent seeing Donny and Marie in Vegas.
    31.What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever? Signing up with my personal trainer.
    32.What one thing would you do differently and why? I'd be more positive at the office. I'm working at it. But our "clown car" open seating arrangement is very hard on me. I like privacy, and I have none.
    33.What do you deserve a pat on the back for? I have been supportive of my friends.
    34.What activities made you lose track of time? Farmville!
    35.What did you think about more than anything else? Worry.
    36.What topics did you most enjoy learning about? The 19th century is my new obsession.
    37.What new habits did you cultivate? Nothing comes to mind
    38.What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could? Watch your pennies!
    39.Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year? No
    40.What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year? MeTV. I'm not kidding. I have found sliding back to a simpler time very comforting when the going gets tough.
    41.What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be? Serenity
    42.What do you want to see, discover, explore? I want to learn more about myself and how I can make myself better
    43.Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015? Kathleen. I think she needs me. She has a lot on her plate -- her own family, her parents, her siblings, her career -- and I hope to remind her to take care of herself and enjoy herself amid the tumult.
    44.What skills do you want to learn, improve or master? I want to regain control of my surroundings and finances.
    45.Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen? RESOLVE!
    46.What do you want your everyday life to be like? No drama
    47.Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of? I have promised myself to take a bag of stuff to Goodwill every month.
    48.What do you want to achieve career-wise? Hang on to this job!
    49.How do you want to remember the year 2015 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now? I'm 57. I hope to simply make it to 2025 and 2035.
    50.What is your number one goal for 2015? Organization.