Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Stealing

 Silver Thanksgiving Questions

How many Thanksgivings do you attend? Just one. I don't personally know anybody who attends more than one. Though I do enjoy that two-part episode of Will and Grace where the gang attends five. (It was on Thursday as I was getting ready to go to my own Thanksgiving.) 

 Where do you attend Thanksgiving(s)? The Weber Grill Restaurant on North State Street in Chicago.

What is your favorite dish? At the time, it was the pumpkin pie. Though now I am reliving the sweet potatoes. I remember them with great affection.

What is your least favorite dish at Thanksgiving? This year it was the turkey. I wanted to try an oven grilled bird and I'm glad I have. But I thought it was a little salty.

What, if any, are your Thanksgiving traditions? For the past four years I have joined John and Gregory, every year at a different restaurant. I enjoy it because it's both delicious and chill. When I celebrated with my family, the tradition was stress and hostility.

Name your FAV thing about Thanksgiving. It kicks off the most wonderful time of the year.

Do you make anything for Thanksgiving? If yes, share what and why. Just the reservation. (Yuck, yuck.) Except I truly did choose the restaurant and make the reservation.

Out of everything you eat at Thanksgiving, what can YOU cook the best? All of it is well beyond my culinary skill set.

What do you drink with your Thanksgiving feast? This year I had a flirtini (vodka, champagne and pineapple juice).

Has there ever been a feud during your Thanksgiving? My family Thanksgivings were always tense affairs. When I was in a relationship, I always tried to convince my boyfriend we should celebrate with his family.

Do you have appetizers before your Thanksgiving meal? This year I had butternut squash soup. It was yummy.

How many people attend your Thanksgiving(s)? If yes, who? Just we three.

Have you ever missed a Thanksgiving? Not that I can recall.

What kind of pie/cake/dessert do you eat for dessert? Pumpkin pie.

Do you ever play games at Thanksgiving? Not that I recall.

Name 3 things you are Thankful for: 1) THE CUBS! 2) My cats are healthy and happy 3) I kept my job.

Is there anyone who has normally attended Thanksgiving, that will not be there this year?  Nope.

Name the funniest person at your Thanksgiving this year and tell us more. Me. I'm adorable.

Which person eats the MOST? Me. At least at the table I'm the one who ate the most. John and Gregory both got their pie to go.

Which person eats the LEAST? Didn't notice.

Do any animals attend Thanksgiving dinner? Nope.

If so, do they get Thanksgiving scraps? 

Who carves the turkey? The chef in the kitchen.

Have you ever had to make Thanksgiving all on YOUR OWN? If I did, it would look like this:
Do you get along with the people you have thanksgiving with? Indeed.

Is your Thanksgiving formal, or do you just do whatever? I was a bit more formally attired than usual.


I don't like her and you can't make me

Movie stars are funny creatures. Their charisma often overwhelms their performances, but if you like them, you don't care.

Katharine Hepburn is the most Oscared Best Actress in history, so of course she can act. But her acting isn't why I love her. It's her voice, the way she moves, the way she lived her life. There's a moment at the end of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, a two shot, where old and angry Matt Drayton tells his dinner guests that he vividly remembers being swept away by romance. His wife Christina tears up. And so does this old Gal, because I'm watching Katharine Hepburn listen to her dying partner, Spencer Tracy, say he loves her. Judged by Meryl-Streep-standards (she's never a star and always an impeccable actress), this is a false moment. But I love The Great Kate and so I love this moment.

Elizabeth Taylor ... Barbra Streisand ... Robert Redford ... Cary Grant ... Marilyn Monroe ... Sandy and Jen ... the galaxy of my heart is filled with major stars who I will watch do anything and will forgive anything because I like them.

And then there's Ida Lupino. I know I should like her. She was daring in her choices both as an actress and a director. The latter is especially important because she chose to direct back in the days when women simply didn't. And the model she used -- appear before the cameras in popular entertainment to finance her riskier independent projects -- is the one one Redford adopted.

But I don't like her. She's brittle and harsh. I adore one of the movies she directed -- The Trouble with Angels -- but I avoid her in front of the camera.

Which is why I'd never seen last night's movie group film, Road House. Everyone seemed to love it, and I like to be an active participant in the after-movie discussion, so I only voiced what I liked about it and kept my reservations to myself. But here's the thing: so much of the plot depends on two men falling head-over-heels for this chanteuse. And I just didn't buy it. Ida Lupino is just so ... icky.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Baby's in Black

1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 25, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains? I did, but I didn't go to the mall. Better World Books had a coupon for 30% off 5 or more books, and I took advantage of that.

2) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game? Pigging out, definitely.

3) At Thanksgiving dinners, Crazy Sam's homemade gravy is always a hit. (Probably because she's so generous with the cognac, which gives the gravy a nutty taste.) What was particularly delicious at your Thanksgiving table? Dessert was hitsville. The pumpkin pie was particularly cinnamony (which I love) and a nutty glaze was drizzled across it.

4) Among the biggest the Black Friday advertisers are Target, Kohl's, Macy's and Best Buy. If you could have a $100 gift card to any one of those stores, which would you choose? Best Buy. I suspect that the TV in my bedroom is going to crap out soon. When it does, I'll move the set in the living room to the bedroom and buy a new one for the living room. That $100 would come in awfully handy.

5) This week's song, "Baby's in Black," is about a girl who wears black because she's in mourning. Do you find that the color you're wearing reflects your mood? I admit I love wearing Cubbie blue (Pantone 294). Especially this World Series winning year!

6) The woman who inspired this song, Astrid Kirchherr, has been friends with Paul McCartney since he and his bandmates (John Lennon, George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best) met her in Hamburg back in 1960. Tell us what you believe are the components of a strong, lasting friendship. As life gets busier, I value availability more and more. There's always something to fill up our days and evenings. Friends make time for one another.

7) In the early days of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon began writing a play but abandoned it. Do you have a novel, painting, play, song or poem that you're going to finish "someday?" Dozens! Every year I take a crack at Nanowrimo and write for fun, not profit. I never finish my great novel, though. Oh well, there's always next November.

8) When he was 16, George Harrison dreamed of moving to Canada, Australia or Malta. In just a few years, he would visit all those places with Beatles and eventually decided there was no place like home and stayed in England. Have you ever thought about moving to another country? If so, where? I never think about leaving the country, not even on vacation. I do sometimes fantasize about living in Boston, Philadelphia or Washington, DC. But I'd never leave Chicago.

9)  Random question: Finish this sentence -- If you want me to give you "yes" for an answer, the best time to approach me is _____________________. while I'm eating pizza.

Friday, November 25, 2016

So now I've seen it

I crashed when I got home from Thanksgiving dinner, and then found myself wide awake at 1:00 AM. I grabbed the remote and can now report that, for the first time, I've seen Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Roger Ebert reviewed it by saying it's not really a movie, it's a social event. I agree. As a movie, I was unimpressed. It's disjointed and dumb, even by kitschy B sci-fi standards. And Susan Sarandon is really not very good at all.

On the other hand, much of the cast -- especially Tim Curry -- throw themselves into it with such commitment and abandon. So I can see how it became a camp classic.

And now I've finally seen it. I've felt remiss as a movie fan until now.

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 4

John, Gregory and I got together for Thanksgiving at the Weber Grill restaurant. We sat in the first booth you see there, right behind that white lamp. The restaurant was freaking packed! Since that's the kitchen where the meats are grilled, right there to the right, it was very noisy. But we got used to the noise rather quickly and had a nice time catching up.

We all had the soup, then I had the sweet potatoes and asparagus along with my grilled smoked turkey. And the pie! The pumpkin pie had some kind of glaze drizzled over it and it was the best part of the meal.

The turkey itself was eh. In my opinion. I realize the reason the restaurant was so very full of patrons is that a lot of people really like grilled, smoked turkey. But I thought it was too salty.

John gave me the cutest birthday present -- Cubbie pajamas! He's very tall and I'm very short so he couldn't have known that the bottoms won't fit because they are desperately too long. But that's not the point: they're adorable. And the top is the best! It's a W, like the flag, with 2016/103 scrawled across it (for this season's astonishing 103 wins). The pajama top will make a perfect tshirt to add to my collection.

He also got me a B&N gift card because he was afraid someone else would have gotten me Bruce Springsteen's book. John always gives good gift.

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 3

I forgot! When I got home from Memphis I found a package for me in the lobby. My aunt/Godmother sent me a big box filled with different teas. She does this every year on my birthday, to ward off both colds and the cold. It's very thoughtful of her, and I appreciate this sweet little tradition she's started.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 2

Wednesday night, Barb and I had dinner and then saw a play. She, of course, forgot my gift at home. She's done this in the past. I suspect that she hasn't chosen my gift yet, but never mind. I'm seeing her again in a couple weeks. At least this year she was on time. Barb is usually late ... very late. So that was a good sign.

We went to 312. I had the calamari/shrimp appetizer and lasagna for dinner. It was delicious. It was great to catch up, even though much of what she had to say left me sad.

Gooey and certain to not be part of the Thanksgiving menu.
 Her husband is suffering from Stage 3 lung cancer and is going through chemo. She teared up when she told me how one of the doctors warned him that only 25% of patients with his condition make it 5 years, that he can only count on "8 months to 2 years." And that was two months ago.

"He's not even an oncologist!" Barb raged. I asked her what the oncologists did say, and she replied that "they don't talk in those terms." Barb is aware that her husband is not going to be cured, but she says his medical team is devoted to "managing it."

Then she showed me the photos of her new home in Hilton Head. It's still under construction, but will be done early next year. She referred to the guest bedroom as my room, which was sweet of her, and made a point of showing me where my private bathroom will be.

I want to be happy for her. I mean to be happy for her. But as we went through her photos, two thoughts kept running through my mind:

1) I'm so bad with money! She's building a house and furnishing it to order -- complete with a private office,  a gallery room for her paintings and an area for a built-in wine rack -- and I can't afford to finish my own little tiny bathroom.

2) Her husband may not live to move to Hilton Head. He's already unable to fly down there with her to supervise the construction, and she's adding an elevator to the plans because he probably will never again be able to negotiate stairs without being left breathless. The man is dying, and she knows it. Will she really want to live there by herself? It's all unutterably sad.

The play we saw, Finding Neverland, was very appropriate for the night. A very glossy retelling of how Barrie came to write Peter Pan, there was little in it to make us sad. It made it nice that there were so many kids in the theater. Seeing children all duded up for a night out of live performance is always uplifting.

So it was a bittersweet birthday celebration. But I think every encounter with Barb from now on is going to be bittersweet, so I better get used to it.

Random Observations from Graceland

The Cubs don't just belong to me. Naturally I traveled with my wardrobe of Cubs Championship tshirts. I was surprised and happy by how many times I was greeted with, "Cubbies!" I stopped to talk about Game 7 a few times, too. One of the Graceland employees asked for a closer look at one of my shirts and said, "Lemme see. I haven't seen that one before." I admit this surprised me. Everyone seems to love my guys!

Graceland employees love Priscilla. I heard over and over -- from the front desk to the gift shops to the restaurants to the airport shuttle -- how she comes by every few months to make sure they're being "treated right." Everyone who works there seems rather happy, too. I find this fascinating. After all, the woman in charge of Elvis' legacy is not his widow, she's his ex.

Sir Paul is a gentleman. I heard the story the same way three times from three different people: When Paul McCartney played Memphis in 2013, he requested a private tour. He was very respectful and polite, and left a guitar pick on The King's grave so he could "jam in Heaven." OK, so Paul's nice. But, I asked, which celebrity wasn't nice? The woman at the Lisa Marie (Elvis' plane) told me she couldn't divulge, but said darkly, "You'd be surprised."

So, in case you'd like to play, "Guess the Douchebag," here's the official list of celebrities who visited Graceland.

Lord Almighty! I really do love The King.

I sang almost every moment I was in Memphis. No shit. I sing badly, so it was done softly. And in public, it was mostly absent minded, crooning along with the Elvis songs that are piped in everywhere. Really, even at the airport.

Because here's the thing ... yes, it's easy to make fun of the jumpsuits and massive, rhinestone belt buckles. And the peanut butter and banana sandwiches. And the creepy monkeys I just discovered. But he was extravagantly talented and cast a huge shadow over American culture. I was moved by how much he did in his 42 years, and how good he could be (when he wasn't phoning it in).

Official Gold Record for one of my faves.
As a movie lover, I appreciate three of Elvis' early, pre-Army movies. His favorite, I learned, was King Creole. But mine remains Jailhouse Rock. So I was completely tickled to see Elvis' own well-worn copy of the shooting script.

Jailhouse Rock was originally called "Untitled Presley Film"

More of my visit with The King

Last Sunday I ran away to Memphis and stayed at the Guesthouse at Graceland. The hotel was awesome. But it was only the appetizer. Graceland itself is the main course. Here are my favorite shots.

I was fortunate to be there after the Christmas decorations went up. According to Lisa Marie and Priscilla, this reflects how Elvis holidayed up the joint when he was still alive. As soon as you come in, you see the main staircase festooned in poinsettias. 

The yellow rope? No one gets to go upstairs. Not even dignitaries and celebrities that tour Graceland.  Lisa Marie tells us that in life, guests were not welcome upstairs and she's just maintaining that. I suspect it's because The King died upstairs.

How did I know he'd have a white flocked tree?
The TV room

I especially like the creepy monkey dressed as Santa

Santa Creepy Monkey has a Creepy Monkey friend in the Elvis archives. I'd love to ask him about his fascination with these porcelain primates.

This says it all

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

You gotta see this

The Guesthouse at Graceland is proud of their "Elvis-inspired decor." I shall share it here. It delighted me everywhere I looked (yes, even when I was on the toilet). It's all obviously high quality, and reminded me of Dolly Parton's quote about how expensive it can to be cheap.

When I got off the elevator on the 4th floor

Light fixture next to my door

Even the business center!

It's like a rock'n'roll Disneyland! I love it here.

Yes, I am this shallow

... but in the context of my birthday and The King, it feels appropriate.

The Guesthouse at Graceland is a beautiful structure, the biggest new hotel built in Memphis in more than a century. 450 rooms, two restaurants and a bar. The staff is uniformly friendly and helpful. Complimentary water (with lemon) in the lobby. Their Christmas tree is up, so guests are greeted to the smell of apples and cinnamon (which just so happens to be my favorite).

And yet, my favorite thing about my stay here is the TV.

It's a nice big high-def flat screen. The kind I want at home but can't afford. This, while pleasant, is not unusual for high-end hotels.

What makes this TV special is that it's on when you enter the room. Softly playing "Treat Me Nice" and "Jailhouse Rock." 50s Elvis greets you!

The last selection on the menu intrigued me. "Choose Your Elvis." So I did that before I even unpacked. My choices also included ...

60s Elvis, who serenades me with "How Great Thou Art" and "Viva Las Vegas."

And 70s Elvis, who sings two of my favorites by the King: "Fools Rush In" and "Kentucky Rain." So naturally I settled on him.

So I could sing along as I set up my toiletries in the bathroom and generally got settled in my new home away from home.

Guests also get to watch Graceland TV. I saw a special on Elvis Week, the annual celebration of his life held in Memphis every August. I knew about the candlelight vigil at Graceland on the anniversary of his death, but I'd been unaware of the symposiums and concerts and "tribute artist" (impersonator) competition and 5K run. A week! I'm a Cub fan and a Beatle fan, but I don't think I'm up to 7 days of being a fan girl. The King's faithful are hardcore!

I watched an interview with Angie Marchese, the Graceland archivist. She showed us "secrets," like the drawer in the kitchen where 6-year-old Lisa Marie wrote her name and the chandelier (Elvis really liked chandeliers) on the backstairs to the kitchen, a staircase which is unavailable to fans on the tour. A well-spoken woman in her 40s, and an archivist by trade, she talks about this stuff as seriously as if she worked for Monticello and Thomas Jefferson. I got a kick out of her.

And then there are the two specials running on a continuous loop. Aloha from Hawaii and the 1968 Comeback Special. Put a mic in that man's hands and you got magic. It's good to be reminded exactly what all the fuss is about.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Getting to Know You Questions

1. Would you prefer to be smart or happy, and why? Happy. I think there's more contentment associated with happiness, while knowing too much can cause worry.

2. If you could choose one superpower, what would it be and why? I'd make every task I undertake become a piece of cake. Watch below beginning at 1:40. THIS is how I'd like to do housework.

3. What is your biggest regret in life so far? I spent too much time in a bad relationship.

4. If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be and why? I've always envied Jo March (of Little Women) her Professor Bhaer. He's worldly, he's kind and he takes her seriously. Plus, I like the idea of a fella with an umbrella.

5. If money and career were no object, where in the world would you choose to live? Here. Chicago has wonderful architecture and theater, tremendous diversity, and THE WORLD CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS!

6. What’s the last book you read that you simply could not put down until you finished? Well, I was able to put it down because thousands of pages is too much for one sitting, but I loved the two volume Sinatra biography by James Kaplan. When it was over, I found myself missing Francis.

7. What television show do you plan your day around in order to see it live? Only Cubs baseball. Everything else I know I can catch on DVR or OnDemand.

8. What extracurricular activities or sports did you participate in when you were in high school? Oh, I hated all that clubby shit. I tried Spanish Club and the school newspaper when I was a freshman, but I just couldn't take it.

9. Of all your pet-peeves, which is the strangest? People who carry umbrellas on sunny days. I don't know why they annoy me, but they do.

10. Is it better to beg forgiveness or ask permission? Forgiveness.

11. If you inherited or won a million dollars, what would you do with it? Figuring that taxes would eat up half of this, we're talking $500,000. I'd put it all into my retirement fund. Not sexy, I know. But it would be such a relief to not have to worry about that anymore.

12. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you? Back when I still wore skirts, the wind caught one and blew it up, a la Marilyn. I wasn't wearing panties under my hose. The fact that I'm still here answering this question is proof you can't die of embarrassment.

13. Which fictional character do you believe is the most like yourself? Katie in The Way We Were. I take everything too seriously.

14. Are you superstitious? If so, what are you most superstitious about? Well, when the Cubs were in the playoffs I only wore Cub t-shirts on game day, even to the office. And they won the World Series, so clearly I did something right.

15. Do you believe it is vital to everyday life to know what is happening in the world around you? Yes. I'm like the daughter on the AT&T commercials about the internet being down: "Something just happened in the world and we have no idea what it was."

16. What is the nicest thing anybody has said, or you believe they would say, about you? My friend in the Keys refers to me as his "true sister." I love that.

17. What are your life and career goals in 5, 10 and 15 years? To not be so worried about money.

18. Would you rather live in a large house in the suburbs, or a tiny apartment in the city with an excellent view? Tiny apartment/excellent view. Preferably of Lake Michigan.

19. What are you three weaknesses? Coke, bookstores, cats.

20. How would you describe yourself in three words? Four words: Tall, tan, young, lovely. Yes, I am the Girl from Ipanema.

21. Which is more logical to follow—your heart or your head? Logically I would have to say "head."

22. Are you spiritual or religious in any way? If so, how? I believe in God and Christ and Eternal Life. I try to live my life in a way that pleases Jesus. I often come up short, but I am happy to keep trying.

23. If you could have any career possible, what would it be? I'd love Doris Kearns Goodwin's career. She takes oft-told American tales (the Roosevelts, the Kennedys, Abraham Lincoln) and gives them such a fascinating spin.

24. Have you ever been arrested or contracted any diseases? I've never been arrested. ANY diseases? Why, of course. Who hasn't? (Maybe John Travolta.)

25. Which is better—a novel or a movie? Depends on the movie and book. 

The good with the bad

Today should have been a good day. First I had a haircut and was heartened to hear my stylist tell me that he can barely spot the hair loss that has me so freaked out. This is so top of mind (no pun intended) and I made an appointment with a new dermatologist who specializes in this sort of thing, but I won't see her until December 15. Yes, I know it's not life threatening and yes, I know it shouldn't matter to me as much as it does ... BUT IT DOES! So him telling me honestly that it doesn't show made me feel better. Hopefully this new doctor will be able to stem, if not cure, whatever is going on with my scalp.

Then I had a lovely lunch with my nephew, who wanted to talk about "the best thing ever" (the Cubs, naturally) and "the worst thing ever" (Trump's election). He's so enthusiastic about everything -- the Cubs, national politics, his girlfriend -- that it was heartening to talk to him. He still hates school, except for English and history, so we really didn't talk about that much. I sense that he's happier than he's been in a while. He's such a sensitive kid, so good at heart, and deserves good things.

BUT my aunt got very mad at me on Facebook Saturday morning and I've been upset all day. The impetus was that my friend Kathleen posted something about resistance to Trump that she found inspiring. I clicked "like," which meant it then appeared in my aunt's feed. Uh-oh. She commented rather definitively that Kathleen was wrong. I said I agreed with Kathleen, and a friend of Kathleen's named Angela chimed in. I suppose my aunt could have just let it go and moved on, but then she wouldn't be my aunt. Anyway, after saying something snarky about Kathleen, she said, "I'm done here." Now Kathleen didn't deserve what my aunt said. Either she was confused and thought I'd posted what offended her. So I wrote, "I hope you didn't feel dissed by my aunt. She was upset and didn't understand your point."

Oh. My. God. Auntie, who said she was "done here," came back to tell me she meant everything she said and I should never, ever apologize for her or talk down to her.

Oh, good. So now Kathleen's been insulted and she feels she started a family row. All for expressing an opinion on her own Facebook feed.

Kathleen said she felt bad (though she shouldn't) and explained herself again. Then she said we should all feel loved on page. I wrote that my aunt is one of the few people who has loved me longer than Kathleen and that I loved them both. And then I logged off and haven't been back on.

My aunt is the one who introduced sarcasm to the exchange. She was wrong. I'm sorry I embarrassed her, but I feel bad because I'm the one who introduced her most unwittingly to the conversation.

I'm upset, and I don't like being upset. I'm flying Sunday afternoon -- my birthday trip to Graceland! -- and I refuse to let anything rattle me. I'm already a white knuckle flier. I've been looking forward to this trip for this wacky little getaway for a while now. I want to be happy. So I'm staying off Facebook until I feel more social.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Cabaret (1972)

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

1) In this song, Liza Minnelli encourages you to put down "the knitting, the book and the broom." Which of those three were you most recently doing: knitting, reading or housework? Reading. I'm always reading, I'm seldom cleaning and never knitting.

2) She sings that we shouldn't allow "some prophet of doom to wipe every smile away?" Do you know anyone who reliably looks at the downside of life? My kid sister. I've been feeling very guilty lately -- sad, too -- about how glad I am to not be spending the holidays with my family. I wish it wasn't this way, but this is the way it is. My sister infuses so much tension and disappointment into holidays. (I'm not sure she misses me, either.)

3) In 1972, when this recording was popular, so was The Brady Bunch. In the two-part
America's Southernmost Christmas tree
season premiere, The Bradys went to Hawaii. Do you have any warm weather vacation plans this fall/winter? Key West for Christmas! Which makes me both happy and sad. Happy because it'll be nice to wear my Birkenstocks on Christmas Day and it'll be delightful to spend time with my friends down there, who love me. Sad because, well, see #2.

4) Though not her uncle, just a friend to both of her parents, Liza always called  Frank Sinatra as "Uncle Frank." Is there an older person in your life who isn't a blood relative, but who refer to as "aunt" or "uncle?" No, but my oldest friend's daughter always introduces me as her aunt.

5) Liza collapsed onstage during a Christmas concert in 2007. She says she'd been nauseous before she went on and simply fainted. Sam has never fainted. Have you? Nope.

6) People are often surprised when they learn Liza is good friends with Gene Simmons -- the KISS member with the long tongue. Tell us about one of your good friends. Henry is one of my dearest and most interesting friends. He is gay, Catholic and Puerto Rican, which causes a bit of dissonance in his very sensitive soul. He's one of the most compassionate, loving people I've ever met. If you're his friend (or you have fur), he always sees the best in you. He's smart and talented. He's been a professor, a designer, a waiter, a keyliner, a poet and now he's a library assistant. He and his partner have been together more than 25 years now. As a barren spinster and observer of human relations, I can report they have one of the most supportive relationships I've ever seen up close. Knowing Henry has enriched my life enormously. (And, to borrow from #4, he always refers to me as his "true sister," which touches my heart.)

7) Liza told US Magazine that she loves to eat at Olive Garden. Do you? Sure. It's economical, has a nice bar, and there's something for everyone on the menu.

8) She keeps apple juice and yogurt in her refrigerator at all times. Would we find either in your refrigerator right now? Probiotic strawberry yogurt.

9)  Random question: Which would be a more frustrating dinner companion -- someone who won't shut up, or someone who won't say a word? The silent one.

Happy Birthday to Me, Part 2

Cousin Rose sent me a shirt I hadn't seen before! It's a little too tight across the bust, so I'm returning it for a bigger size. But the packaging makes returns look pretty easy.

Today was the first day of my vacation. I took myself out to breakfast, binged on Will & Grace reruns, went to the vet for Connie's prescription kibble, did a little grocery shopping ... and napped and was generally lazy.

I checked my work email and discovered two highly informative things:

1) Our agency president -- a passionate Cub fan -- bought 300 World Series caps, one for each of us in the office. Since he knew I was out, our mailroom guy Clyde let me know he slipped two caps to one of my officemates to make sure I got one. So sweet of him to look out for me!

2) One of our senior vice presidents was canned for "doing something inappropriate." I never liked him. There was something too artificially hip about him -- a man of 40+, a suburban dad, who calls everyone he meets (male or female) "dude" or "girlfriend" just naturally makes my skin crawl. And I thought it was entitled of him to bring his Kindergarten-aged son to the office for our admin to watch. I suspect he hit on one of the very young girls who work for him, but I don't know and will probably never know for certain, but I'm glad he's gone. I wish the agency would let me interview everyone for every position. (I can't tell if they'll be good at the job, but I can almost always tell if they'll be good for the company culture.)

Friday, November 18, 2016


Happy Birthday to Me, Part 1

I haven't been feeling very birthday yet. Part of it is that baseball (blissfully!) ran into November and it threw off my schedule for obsessing. Part of it is that the mercury his 70º today and this unseasonable warmness is also confusing my schedule for obsessing. And then there's the election, which I keep trying to move on from, but everyone I run into keeps insisting we revisit it.

So today I was happy to slip away from work with a coworker and try this new restaurant (at least new to us). It was a little pricier than I was comfortable with, since she was picking up the tab, but she's the one who chose it, so ...

We split the most heavenly appetizer: lobster deviled eggs. Then I had the chicken dip and she had the fish sandwich. We each had drinks, which may have been unwise considering we had to go back to the office. But still, it was lovely. Because it was so warm and sunny, we were able to sit outdoors and watch the city go by. It seems everyone was out, eager to enjoy this last gasp of summer, and as always, Chicago's diversity fascinates and energizes me.