Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I'm now her

Back in the mid-1980s, I worked as an in-house creative for a major hair care manufacturer. That job was the most fun I ever had at work. I got to hang out with the guys in the lab who tested new products and I learned a great deal about hair chemistry. I learned how to read ingredient statements and write the corresponding claims that appear on the bottles, cans and boxes.

As a result, I know how to shop. I know that price and packaging are not a dependable indicator of quality or results. And I'm a smart consumer ... except for hairspray.

Because back in the mid-1980s, I saw the demographics for Aqua Net. They weren't scientific, they were anecdotal reports from distributors. But they were brutal. Aqua Net was the brand of choice of blue-haired old ladies who favored helmet hair. The ones who like to get lacquered up after sitting under the bonnet hair dryer.

For me, buying Aqua Net has always meant I've given up. Never mind that, with its price point, it's a better deal than just about anything else on the store shelf. This isn't about product performance. It's about self respect.

As of last weekend, I lost all self respect. Nothing else at Walgreens was on sale. Not even Suave or White Rain! So, for the first time, Aqua Net made its way into my shopping bag.

I'm now her. I'm now the blue-haired old lady.

Here's further proof: After my client presentation Monday, I had hours to kill before my train. I was stressed. I was exhausted. I deserved a treat, so I took myself to a local salon and got a 30-minute massage.

It was not until this morning, when I disrobed for my Tuesday shower, that I took note of the undies I had worn on the massage table. Not only were they my big old cotton granny panties, the elastic was frayed.

I'm now her.

Self portrait. See? My hair's not blue!

"That's why we love you, Gal"

Very happy to report that Monday's client presentation went well. The work was well received. I presented it old-school, with a deck and going over it page-by-page. Sitting at the conference table, surrounded by my clients. Low-tech, I know, but highly personal -- important because this account is all about the relationship. And, when I present on paper that way, I don't have to worry about computer compatibility or playing "who's got the dongle," or any of the other higher-tech that always go wrong.

I know this my client's business cold. I'm a major geek and my enthusiasm carried the day. At one point, when I was talking about my passion for getting around the client's compliance department in my quest to collect customer email addresses, I blurted, "If I could go door-to-door and ask for addresses, I would." Then, worried I went too far, I added, "I'm sorry, but I'm more than a little passionate about this."

"And that's why we love you, Gal," said my client. I was very happy my boss was in the room to hear that. Our styles are very different and I think he views my enthusiasm as frivolous. I'm glad he got to see that the client responds to my authenticity.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Stealing -- The Final Entry

Mememaster Bud is hanging up his Sunday Stealing Spurs. If you would like to see this meme continue and are willing to take over the stealing of other memes each week, please contact him here.

Sunday Stealing: The Greenish Questions

1. What is your current obsession? The Chicago Cubs. Specifically Anthony Rizzo. He sat out Saturday's game. Is he happy? Will he make the All Star squad this year? How long will he continue as our lead-off man? He's such a great guy -- a joy to watch on the field and philanthropic off of it. I want only good things for him.
A cancer survivor himself, Rizz works w/kids battling the disease

2. What’s your go-to coffee place? I don't drink coffee, but I've been known to stop at Starbucks for a tall hot chocolate, skim, no whip, and with a little cinnamon added to it.

3. Who was the last person that you hugged? A coworker. Last week was a rough week for my little team.

4. Do you nap a lot? More than I used to.

5. Tonight, what’s for dinner? Have not yet decided. I have a lot of leftovers to choose from.

6. What was the last thing that you bought? I got a pedi refresh onSaturday afternoon. Revlon Optimistic Pink.

7. What is your favorite weather? This weekend has been nice. A little over 70º and sunny.

8. Tell us something about one blogger who you think will play this week? Kwizgiver is a voracious reader and a Daddy's Girl.

9. If you were given a free house that was fully furnished, where in the world would you like it to be? Lately I've been daydreaming about Hot Springs, AR. I wouldn't want to live there -- too hot in summer -- but it's a very pretty, lazy and friendly town. If I had a fully-furnished home, after I retire I'd stay there several weeks at a time throughout the year. Walking around Ouachita Mountain, taking the waters.

10. Name three things that you could not live without. Books. Cats. Internet.

11. What would you like in your hands right now? Tee hee

12. What’s one of your guilty pleasures? Bad movies. My enduring favorite guilty pleasure is Valley of the Dolls. It's a terrible script, dreadfully acted with the utmost seriousness. Camp of the highest order.

Patty Duke as Neely, a big talent w/a weakness for booze and dope

13. What would you change or eliminate about yourself? I would eliminate all the excess fat.

14. As a child, what type of career did you want? I was going to be a singer (except I can't sing). And a teacher. And a crusading journalist.

15. What are you missing right now? My waist. (See Question 13)

16. What are you currently reading? Little White Lies, a Spenser mystery.

17. What do you fear the most? Being vulnerable (old, poor, and unable to care for myself)

18. What’s the best movie that you’ve seen recently? I just rewatched watched an oldie, Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). It holds up very, very well. I wonder whatever happened to that Meryl Streep girl.
19. What’s your favorite book from the past year? I loved the massive, two-volume Sinatra biography -- The Voice and The Chairman. He was a great singer, a talented but lazy actor, an unrepentant womanizer, a Mafia groupie, a generous friend, a complete asshole and a wonderful father ... sometimes all within a few paragraphs. Next to Francis, everyone else in the world is dullsville, chickie baby.

20. Is there a comfort food from your childhood that you still enjoy? Fish sticks. Preferably with a side of mac and cheese.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Listen to the Music (1972)
Because Zippi requested it.

1) The lyrics say, "What the people need is a way to make them smile." What song lifts your spirits and makes you smile every time you hear it? "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire. In November 2004, I was as blue as I've been in my life. Crying in the shower, crying behind my sunglasses (and I'm not a crier). I just couldn't shake it. The first time I smiled in days was when I was crossing the street en route to the drug store and this came through my headphones. "Ba de ah, something you remember/ba de ah, dancing in September..." It's an aural tonic.


--> 2) Lead vocalist/composer Tom Johnston reports that he's made a lot in royalties because so many radio stations use this as a jingle. Tell us a jingle that sticks in your head. "American Mattress! Where dreams come true." It seems there's an American Mattress on every other block these days, so that little ditty runs through my mind all the time, every time I see the sign.

3) The Doobie Brothers got their start in San Jose, California. San Jose is the largest city in Northern California, thanks to all the tech companies that have headquarters there. Let's talk about the device you're on right now: are all your applications up to date? No. Not on my laptop and not on my phone. Bad Gal!

4) When they were still a local band, the Doobie Brothers had a strong following among bikers. Are you attracted to biker culture? No. Though when I was working on the John Kerry Presidential campaign in 2004, a Vietnam vet/biker came to my aid. It was at a rally downtown. I was supposed to be inside with the other volunteers, but I got lost in the crowd. I did my best to push through, but I'm not very tall, so I wasn't having much success. I found my face literally pressed into the leather jacket of this biker dude (smelled like booze and cigarette smoke). He looked down and regarded me like a bug. 
He was a fearsome looking guy -- beard, sunglasses, all the stereotypical accoutrement. "What makes you special?" he growled at me.

"I'm a campaign worker! A volunteer! I'm supposed to be in there!" 

I guess I looked sincere and desperate, because he gave me an odd smile and then went into action. He spread his big arms through the crowd as if he was making angels in the snow, and warned everyone to get out of my way. Now.

I got to the front door, showed my credentials and literally trotted in to the auditorium. He really was my gallant prince. And I felt like a heroine -- like Cher in Mask.

5) This week's song is from Toulouse Street, which is considered their "breakthrough" album. Tell us about a moment in your own life that you consider a "breakthrough." It's personal so I'm not going into much detail. But I'd been in a very long, very toxic relationship and when I finally got out, I was more than a little apprehensive by the thought of being with another man. When I finally screwed up the courage, I was surprised by how natural, healthy, and happy it was. The Breakthrough was that love can feel safe.

6) In 1987, the Doobie Brothers did a benefit performance for Vietnam Veterans at the Hollywood Bowl. Next to the Beatles, it was the fastest-selling ticket in Hollywood Bowl history. Which group do you listen to more often -- the Doobies or the Beatles? Oh, I love those Lads from Liverpool.

7) In 1972, when this song was popular, Wranglers were America's best-selling jeans. Are you brand-loyal to one jeans manufacturer? Gloria Vanderbilt.

8) Grocery stores saw seafood prices fluctuate wildly in 1972 because of a series of confrontations between the United Kingdom and Iceland regarding fishing rights in the North Atlantic. (Iceland won.) What was the most recent seafood dish that you enjoyed? Thursday night, I grilled a salmon filet.

9) Random question: Which of these "top ten" lists would you prefer to be on -- the sexiest, the smartest or the richest? Five or ten years ago I would have said, "sexiest." But now, no question, RICHEST!

That was the week that was

A year ago at this time, I was one of 7 on this creative team. Now there are three.

Our account is growing. But they have been adding to management staff and to the creative group that does television. Our team has been cut ... radically.

Our workload has not been cut ... at all.

In reality, there were too many of us when we had 7 bodies. But I think we need another person. But it is what it is, and so I've been drowning over the last two weeks.

And there's been a lot of change in the management staff. New faces, and promotions among the rank and file. Some of those promoted are a little young and very green and don't wear the new power well. I am proud to report that I have restrained myself and there was no bruising or loss of blood over the past five days.

So I've had a lot of late nights, and a lot of stress.

There's a Big Presentation on Monday. I'm very confident of the work and my presentation skills. I'm not confident of my ability to be on the Amtrak train at 7:00 AM. I have to leave my house, dressed for all eyes on me, before 6:00 AM. Gulp. I have three alarm clocks and have set a wake up call.

Pray for me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


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

1. What are you currently reading? Little White Lies, by Ace Atkins. It's the latest in the Spenser series, and cracking it open is like reuniting with old friends. Spenser's galpal, the therapist Dr. Susan Silverman, has a patient whose problem is more criminal than emotional. The woman met a wonderful man online, began a promising relationship, lent him a huge sum of money ... and now both the man and the money are gone. Is the new (and now missing) man a crime victim or a con man? I'll soon find out, along with Spenser.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Jackie's Girl, by Kathy McKeon. A charming and true story of how a poor teenager from a small Irish parish ended up working on Fifth Avenue for American royalty, Jacqueline Kennedy. 

In her role as ladies' maid, Kathy had a front row seat for history. She rode on Robert Kennedy's funeral train. She was on the island of Skorpios as Jacqueline Kennedy became Jackie O. She furnished her newlywed apartment with an entertainment center that likely was in JFK's White House.

She accompanied "Madam" to Peapack to ride the hounds, she summered on the Cape with the entire Kennedy clan, she spent days on the slopes in Vail and evenings by the fire in an exclusive lodge (outfitted in ski clothes given to her by Jackie). Yet she could be a very whiny young girl. Her frustration, while annoying, was understandable. She didn't leave Ireland to be a satellite in the Kennedy's orbit -- like anyone emerging from adolescence, she wanted her own life. Being on call around-the-clock, six days/week, didn't give her much opportunity to make friends or find romance. And so at times she clashed with her generous but exacting and strong-willed boss.

I applaud this book for the author's authentic voice. From tending the roosters and wearing the same coat to afternoon mass that her sister wore to morning prayers, to cruising the Mediterranean on the Onassis luxury yacht -- she has a story to tell.
  3.  What will you read next? Lisa Scottoline has a new Rosato mystery that's beckoning me.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The perils of Connie

Monday was a thrill-packed day of danger for poor Connie the Girlcat.

First, the doorbell rang! This caused her to race into the closet to hide, and then the door closed. While she was shut in the darkness, the world was changing outside. Workmen -- who smelled and sounded strange and different -- hauled away the old mattress/box spring and set up the new one.

She had no sooner established that the new Serta iComfort Blue 100 Gentle mattress was safe than the fan jumped off the window sill and tried to kill her! She did the only prudent thing and ran back into the closet.

She cautiously ventured out into the living room and fate cruelly stepped in. The doorbell again! Another strange voice accompanied by strange smells! This was the air conditioning repairman. Today he just gave me an estimate and will return on Saturday morning to terrorize Connie anew and do the actual work.

Of course, Connie also had to contend with her arch-nemesis, the Freshmatic auto air freshener. It's not easy living with terror at every turn.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Ginormous Questions 

1. Are you single? Yes.

2. Are your parents still married? Well, they were still married when my dad died ...

3. Are you in love? Yes. With Sir Paul. It's his 75th birthday today.

4. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time.

5. Who ended your last relationship? Not a who, really. More of a what. His career. He lost his job and had to relocate to a new city. (Though I'm sure if he hadn't moved, something else would have broken us up.)

6. Have you ever been hurt by a break up? Yes.

7. Have you ever broken someone’s heart? Regretfully, yes.

8. Have you ever had a secret admirer? Yes.

9. Prefer love or lust? I'd like a serving of each, please.

10. Prefer a few best friends or many regular friends? A few best friends.

11. Wild night out or romantic night in? Romantic night in.

12. Back in the day: Been caught sneaking out? When I was a kid, yes. And once as an adult. It was creepy. After a very bad first date, I ditched the gentleman in my apartment building's vestibule. I got in to my place and saw the Blockbuster case on top of my TV, checked my watch, and realized that if I returned the DVD within the half hour I wouldn't get a late fee. So I grabbed it and raced the two blocks to Blockbuster. When I got home, there was a message on my machine from my very angry date who was accusing me of literally running out to a second date and calling me all kinds of unpleasant names. He told me he never wanted to see me again -- which, of course, was fine by me.

13. Ever wanted something/someone so badly it hurt? Yes.

 14. Who are/is your best friend(s)? Their place in the rotation changes. Right now, my John's #1.

15. Ever wanted to disappear? Yes.

16. First attraction: Smile or eyes? Eyes.

17. Prefer intelligence or attraction? Wouldn't life be perfect if one just naturally followed the other?

18. Last phone call you received? Someone in area code 815. I didn't pick up.

19. Last thing you drank? OJ

20. Before your current one, when was your last relationship? It was during The Civil War.

21. Do you and your family get along? Not especially.

22. Would you say you have a "screwed up life?" Kinda

23. Have you ever gotten kicked out somewhere? If yes, do tell. I was invited to leave the Nixon Presidential Library. The docent didn't appreciate my helpful attempts to correct her "alternate facts."

24. Do you trust all your friends? As much as I trust anyone.

25. Who knows the most about you?  My oldest friend.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"Pop legend Paul McCartney turns 75 and can't be stopped"

That's the June 18, 2017 headline in a German newspaper, honoring Sir Paul's big birthday. And I think it's great.

He's still out there, touring. Beginning next month he'll be performing in sold-out arenas across the US. This bears mentioning, because in the world of rock and pop, it's the martyrs that get celebrated. As it's been since Elvis,* die of drugs and suddenly your entire oeuvre is worth more.

Not today. Not on this gal's blog. We're applauding the survivor, celebrating The Hard Day's Knight. 

After all we're talking about a man who:

•  holds the Guinness Book of World's Record title as best-selling recording artist of all time
•  wrote "Yesterday," the song that's been recorded by more different artists than any other
•  played to the largest paid audience of all time (Brazil, 1989)
•  has been awarded the Companion of Honor, an MBE and a knighthood by his Queen
•  raised four children with The Lovely Linda†
•  was married to Linda for nearly 30 years -- a notable feat, even for a couple who isn't in the public eye -- before she succumbed to cancer
•  has amassed a fortune estimated at $500 million; for a lad who grew up in public housing, this is a big fucking deal

Those are just the metrics. Then there's the music. There's always the music. Everyone from PBS to Rolling Stone has commemorated the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper, the most influential album of the rock era. When Roger Moore died in May, every newscast played "Live and Let Die."

"Maybe I'm Amazed." "My Love." "Band on the Run." "Jet." "Silly Love Songs." "Listen to What the Man Said." "Let 'Em In." "Coming Up." "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey." Those are just the solo hits. I could get writer's cramp trying to list all his Beatles songs.

I'm going to let The Birthday Boy have the last word. Listen to the lyrics. He can't seem to believe all he's accomplished, either.

The same me that stands here now
When I think that all this stuff
Can make a life that's pretty hard to take it in, that was me

*Or perhaps it began even earlier with Judy Garland in 1969 ... or Janis/Jim/Jimi in 1970 ...
†Beatrice, his fourth daughter and only child with second wife Heather, is still in her teens

He's really got a hold on me

I don't like you but I love you ...

I'm sure that, were we to meet, Jake Arrieta and I would not like one another. Politically it seems he's a RWNJ, not surprising for a Texan. And he seems to be pitching for himself this season -- looking ahead to free agency -- rather than for the team.

But dear God, I love watching him move. For reasons that are completely less than wholesome.


It's the fabulous body. It's the dollop of swagger.

You really got a hold on me ... 


Friday, June 16, 2017

Saturday 9

As Long as We Got Each Other (Theme from Growing Pains)

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

1) This is the theme from the 1980s sitcom, Growing Pains. Alan Thicke played Dr. Jason Seaver, one of TVs popular dads. Who is your favorite TV dad? Sheriff Andy Taylor. I loved him when I was a little girl, and I love him now. This melts me every time. To those of you not hooked on MeTV, Opie has been telling tall tales about "Mr. McBeevee." Andy tries to get to the heart of the matter ... and he does. 


2) Joanna Kearns, who played Jason's wife, reports that she teased her costar by calling him, "Al," a nickname he hated. Is there someone in your life that you enjoy needling? Not especially. Teasing often feels mean.

3) For most of the series, the Seaver children each represented a "type." The oldest, Mike, was the trouble maker. The daughter, Carol, was the brainiac. Young Ben could be very high maintenance. Which of the Seaver kids were you most like when you were growing up? I suppose I was most like Mike, in that my grades were not great and I could be a wee bit rebellious.

4) In the song, BJ Thomas sings about being "the luckiest dreamer who never quit dreaming." If you could have any dream come true this Saturday, what would you wish for? I'd like to know my retirement will be secure financially.

5) When he mans the grill, Sam's father proudly wears the "Kiss the Chef" she gave him for Father's Day years ago. Tell us about a gift you gave someone that was a hit. The best gift I gave was to my niece,when she was 6, and seriously into the movie Anastasia. She used to walk around pretending to be Anastasia and could recite dialog. She was so Anastasia-obsessed that she had a dream about a  Anastasia Store that carried only Anastasia products. As her dream went, she could purchase everything Anastasia for $100, and she happened to have exactly $100 in her purse.

I went on eBay and purchased all the Anastasia movie memorabilia I could find from all over the world (my favorite: plastic medallions that had been packaged in cereal boxes in Ireland). I spread them out all over my apartment and put a sign on the front door: Anastasia Store -- Everything for $100. The look on her face when she came in the door, the way she clasped her hands together under her chin and looked around the room in wonderment at the Anastasia dolls and books and puzzles and pillowcase, etc. was pure magic.

In a way, this was the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. I mean, how often in life do you get to make someone's dream literally come true?

6) Sam's dad takes his grilling very seriously and jealously guards his special marinade recipe. Do you have a secret you haven't even shared with family members? Oh, I have lots of secrets I'd never share with my family.

7) He recommends using a grill basket when barbecuing vegetables so you don't have to worry about them falling through the grill. Share one of your culinary tips with us. Just that my George Foreman grill has changed my life. Between the grill and my microwave, I don't have to turn the oven on. During this heatwave, that's a blessing. You can get one at Target.

8) Sam's father hates it when she swears. What's the last curse word you used? I don't recall exactly, but this is a good guess.


9) Sam's father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. When you crave a snack, do you usually want something sweet or salty? Impossible to predict. I never know if I'm going to reach for salty/cheesy crackers or sweet ice cream.

After three years ...

Connie has lived with us for three years. Like most cats, she has her spots, her favorite places to hang out. You can usually find her on the window sill or in the kitty condo.

But just recently, after three years, she has discovered the most thrilling thing ...


That's where I keep the canvas and heavy plastic bags I take to the grocery store, and Connie has decided this makes the most delightful bed/perch. Being up there makes her so happy she literally sings and flips back and forth.

To make her more comfortable -- and, frankly, to protect the bags -- I've taken a little blanket and affixed it to the outside of the bag of bags.

I wish she could tell me what led her to jump from floor to counter to refrigerator. I suspect she was chasing a flying insect and got distracted by the amazing wonderfulness of those bags.

I'm happy to make her happy. She's really such a sweet cat.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Maybe the fever is broken!

Sunday, the 2017 Cubs played like the 2016 Cubs.

Jake Arrieta just didn't have it. He gave up 4 runs in one inning and was pulled. And what happened? Carl Edwards, Jr. came through and picked up the save. Even better ...

Run production, by two players who haven't been hitting. First Addison Russell, then Kyle Schwarber hit dingers out of the park. Anthony Rizzo got an RBI double, too.

All the boys I was worried about in the post below were fine today. Maybe they can relax and stop pressing so hard.

Maybe I can relax and just enjoy the games.

How can I help?


Baseball is a beautiful game. It's pretty to watch. Like the best theater, it moves at a careful pace, builds to a climax, and always provides a denouement. Baseball has a symmetry, a fairness, a beauty that other sports can't touch. I know hockey and basketball pretty well and there's a speed and violence to those games that aren't attractive.*

Because I feel this way, I am obsessed with what's going on with my Cubs. As of Saturday, they were in second place. 30 wins and 31 losses.

The reigning World Series Champions aren't even playing .500 ball? What the hell?

I think there's a crisis in the clubhouse. Since they don't invite me in, I can't say for sure what it is. But here are my best guesses:

Lack of leadership. "Grandpa" David Ross retired. This veteran catcher was the acknowledged elder statesman. He's the one who'd seen it all, done it all before, and put it all in perspective for a team of 20-somethings. During Game 7, when first baseman/big bat Anthony Rizzo whispered, "I can't control myself right now. I'm trying my best, but I'm an emotional wreck," he did it with his arm around David Ross (who was wearing a live mic). And Grandpa told him, "It's only going to get worse. Just continue to breathe." Big Rizz responded with an RBI.

And now Grandpa is gone. Rizzo and Schwarber just aren't hitting anymore. I don't think it's their mechanics, I think it's their minds. I suspect they're responding to the pressure to repeat the magic and heroics of last season. Someone needs to remind them to "just breathe."

Grasshopper and The Master/Game 7

Russell's a mess. There are allegations that Addison Russell -- our All-Star shortstop -- is involved in domestic violence at home. The league is investigating, as they should. But even if Russell never raised a hand to his bride, here are some stats (because baseball is all about the stats):

•  He's 23 years old.
•  In 2016, he married the mother of his baby when she was pregnant with their second child.
•  He's batting .207, and he doesn't appear especially present in the field. (And that was before the Baseball Commissioner, the Cubs' President and the Cubs' General Manager began asking him about his personal life.)

When I was at the game Friday, I saw so many little kids -- boys and girls alike -- wearing his #27. I wonder if he's aware that he has a responsibility to those children, and that he may well be letting them down.

Okay, so I've posted my POV. Now what can I do to help? I can't think of a fucking thing. And that's so frustrating.

*Though I had the privilege of seeing Michael Jordan play in his prime, and the only sight that could touch it was Baryshnikov.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The (Bat)Man I Loved

Farewell to Adam West, the best Batman there ever was.

When I was a wee one, I believed the show straight up. I was obsessed with the Dynamic Duo's adventures each week and dutifully reported them to my uncle, who was fighting in Vietnam. My uncle so amused by my serious reportage that he kept the letters for decades. We found them among his papers after died six years ago. Thank you for giving Uncle Ted and me a little something to share over the miles, Batman.

With time, of course, I discovered it was camp and with each viewing, I appreciate Adam West's comedic timing more. He was fucking brilliant. With his passing, I hope MeTV does a marathon. I long to see The Batusi again!


Saturday 9

Saturday 9: C Is for Cookie

1) This week's featured artist, Cookie Monster says his favorite TV show is Monsterpiece Theater. What show do you try never to miss? This time of year, it's the Cubs. Len and JD feel like my best buddies. 

2) Though he goes by Cookie Monster professionally, he is still called Sid by his family. When will you next get together with your relatives? Next month. First, my nephew and I are going to see The Cubs vs. The Pirates at Wrigley Field. Then I visit my niece in Michigan.

3) Now for the cookie questions! Where do you weigh in on this age-old controversy: Is a brownie a cookie or a cake? I think of it as bakery, like a cupcake.

4) Fig Newtons contain no cholesterol. Do you read nutrition labels before eating snacks? Or does knowing the truth about your favorite sweets ruin your enjoyment? When I'm actually consuming the treat, I ignore the nutrition label. I do consider nutrition when comparison shopping at the grocery store.

5) Biscotti are designed for dipping into drinks. Do you like to dunk your cookies? Nope.

6) Do you prefer cookies made with milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips? Or are you a rebel who prefers butterscotch chips? All chips are good chips.

7) Bill Murray once said, "Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues." Do you like raisin cookies? Oatmeal/raisin? Yes. Good and good for you!
8) Nabisco still sells animal-shaped cookies in a red box that looks like a train car labeled, "Barnum's Animals." However Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus gave their last-ever performance on May 21, 2017. Have you ever been to the circus? I remember going when I was really little. I thought it was fun, but after I went to bed I heard my parents complaining about how tacky it all looked to them. That confused me.

9) Have you ever received a memorable fortune in a fortune cookie? Not that I can recall.

I don't care if never get back ....

Oh, Friday was a blissful day! The skies were Cubbie blue, there was a cool breeze and cold beer, and I was with good friends in my favorite place in the world.

How is Rizz only hitting .244?
We had great seats. Didn't miss a moment of the action. Unfortunately, my guys still haven't got it together yet. They left the bases loaded -- twice! The second time was, heartbreakingly, in the bottom of the 9th.

But you know, it was still a glorious day. My first time back since The World Series win. There's now a Park at Wrigley, right outside the field. It's a great, grassy little spot to enjoy your first beer of the day. Better yet, there's a big Cubs store that's worth a visit. Not for the merchandise -- you can get that stuff at any store on any corner in Chicago. Go to see the trophy case.

Many of the Cub greats donated their hardware. The heroes of my girlhood represented by their Gold Gloves and I even saw Greg Maddux' first Cy Young Award! It's a wonderful way to start the day, and it takes some of the sting out of going through a metal detector to watch a ballgame.

I am ambivalent about the amped up security. On the one hand, I'm grateful that they are taking the necessary precautions. On the other hand, I hate even thinking of terrorists trying to hurt me, my city, or my beloved old ballpark. My favorite place in the whole world.

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Friday 56

The Friday 56

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.

From Jackie's Girl, by Kathy McKeon. It's 1964, and a young Irish immigrant is settling in as live-in personal assistant to one of the most famous women in the world, Jacqueline Kennedy. While she enjoys helping "Madam" with couture and jewels for glamorous nights out...

But a different, even lovelier light came through when she was in her favorite tee shirt or turtleneck, in those tender hours when she could be just a devoted mother or friend, unscrutinized by the world. I was touched whenever I saw her eating lunch in the kitchen with (4-year-old) John while Caroline was at school, indulging his endless questions and listening to his funny little stories.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Chacun à son goût

Last night, my movie group watched a little known film noir from 1941.

Ladies in Retirement is an interesting flick. Ellen works for a retired showgirl, who can afford to pay for a live-in companion out of her handsome inheritance. Ellen is industrious and almost completely humorless. She really needs this kind of crappy job in the remote English countryside because she's the sole support for two older sisters who live in London. Her sisters are completely dependent -- "dotty" -- and are about to be thrown out of their boarding house. Ellen is told if she doesn't come for them, pronto, their landlady will have their institutionalized.

She loves her sisters desperately and can't allow them to be hauled away. Ellen brings the two nutcases to the countryside cottage for "a visit," but has every intention of keeping them with her forever.

After just a few days, Ellen's boss and the owner of the cottage wants those two nutty sisters gone. And Ellen with them. Which would leave all three sisters broke and homeless.

Ellen cannot allow that to happen, and so she thinks about the unthinkable.

Ellen (center) and her nutty sibs
I enjoyed Ladies in Retirement well enough. I like mysteries that unfold amid the moors, where the skies are filled with fog and gnarled, leafless branches. I have two "dotty" sisters. There was a slick and charming leading man. There are even charitable nuns who show up when they're needed most. And it's always fun to discover a new classic.

But I don't care if I never see it again. Because I don't like Ida Lupino (Ellen). I know she's strong, I know she's versatile, I know she's technically adept. But I don't like her. The movie would have been so much more compelling with a leading lady I cared for. (In 1941, Bette Davis or Olivia dehavilland could have been cast in this movie with, I think, better results.)

But I kept my reservations to myself. First of all, last night's meetup was not well attended, and our moderator puts so much work into them. I want him to know I appreciate him finding this chestnut and putting together the presentation. Secondly, he has almost unlimited admiration for Ida Lupino. Chacun à son goût.

Sad, sadder, saddest

I'm OK (she said, knocking Formica). But so many women around me these days aren't!

Sad. Poor Nancy. Everything was going so well in her life. New job that she really likes, an appearance on Jeopardy!, her daughter accepted to the college she wanted, her son turning his life around (again/finally). We were supposed to get together this Sunday, but she wouldn't commit. Finally she told me why. Her father -- who has been successfully battling cancer -- suddenly took a turn for the worse. He's in hospice. With Father's Day coming up, this is very emotional for her and her daughter. She isn't sure it wouldn't be wiser for her to stay home Sunday. I told her by all means, do that, and to just reach out when she feels like socializing again.

Sadder. Have you ever slogged through one of those periods where everything in your life sucks? That's what's going on with Joanna. Work? That project she began in March is still going on, but she's not getting paid for her work. She knows it's her fault -- the way she wrote the contract, she could bill for 500 hours. She recently hit that 500 hour mark, but the job's not done. So she's still working on it and too busy to take another, paying job. Consequently she's really broke this month. Home? Her 14-year-old cat is losing weight and has intestinal trouble. Joanna and the vet are working together to keep her stable and comfortable, but the fact is: her cat is dying. Friends? The first friend she made when she came to Chicago in 2005 died last week. They weren't really close anymore, and so a nice patina of guilt is spread over the grief. We were supposed to get together Saturday night, but she can't make it -- too broke. (I'm secretly relieved because I'm broke this month, too.)

Saddest. I haven't heard from my friend, Barb, for a while. As May slid into June, I thought she was busy preparing their home for sale. That had been the plan: to sell their house this summer and move into their beautiful new home in Hilton Head. She's lived in her current home for more than 20 years, so there's a lot of stuff to get rid of. I know she was planning on throwing a massive yard sale and had engaged an auction house. So I interpreted her silence as busyness.

Over the past 8 weeks, both she and her husband have had significant health problems. Hers landed her in the hospital over Memorial Day weekend, and her husband has been so ill as he battles cancer that he's been moved to a rehabilitation center.

Her husband is dying. I don't believe they will ever live as a couple in that beautiful new home in Hilton Head. It's heartbreaking.

After talking to Nancy, Joanna and Barb, I'm suddenly grateful to be dull!

Image courtesy of jk1991 at