Monday, April 30, 2018

April Challenge -- Day 30

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One thing you're excited for

I'm going to Wrigley Field two more times this season! Over Memorial Day weekend with my friend John, and over 4th of July with my nephew.

What better place to celebrate our national holidays than The Friendly Confines? What better way than to watch America's past time?

If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Stealing


1. Favourite scene in a Disney Princess movie? I like the early parts of Sleeping Beauty, when she's barefoot and hanging out with the forest critters.

2. Favourite scene in a non Princess movie?
Mary Poppins showing the kids how to clean the nursery. ("Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.")

3. Last Disney movie you watched? 
I don't recall.

4. How many times have you visited the parks?
California twice, Florida once.

5. Favourite animal themed movie?
The original Incredible Journey -- Luath, Bodger and Tao.

6. Favourite Disney movie from the 1950’s?
Peter Pan

7. Favourite Disney movie from the 1960’s?
Mary Poppins

8. Favourite Disney movie from the 1970’s?
The Aristocats

9. Favourite Disney movie from the 1980’s?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (I didn't really like it that much; it's just the only one on the list I've seen.)

10. Favourite Disney movie from the 1990’s?
Beauty and the Beast

11. Favourite Disney movie from the 2000’s?
Lilo & Stitch

13. Favourite Disney movie from the 2010’s?
Saving Mr. Banks

14. If you could trade lives with one character which one and why?
Mary Poppins, because she's practically perfect in every way.

15. First Disney orientated memory?
The first time I ever went to the movies, it was to see Mary Poppins. I will never forget it -- the theater went dark, the big curtains open, and the rooftops of London were revealed. Magic!

16. Favourite villain?
The Beast, I suppose. (But he really wasn't the villain, was he? He was just misunderstood.)

17. Favourite live action Disney movie?
Mary Poppins

18. Favourite soundtrack?
Mary Poppins

19. What are your top three favourite Disney songs?
"A Spoonful of Sugar," "Let's Go Fly a Kite" and "Beauty and the Beast"

20. Mickey or Minnie?
Mickey, because I actually met him at DisneyWorld. 😀

21. Which movie do you find the most nostalgic?
All of them. They all harken to a time I'm not sure really existed.

22. Are there any Disney movies that you haven’t seen?
Oh, lots of them.

23. Is there a scene or movie that makes you cry?
"But Mama, he's my dog. I'll do it."

24. Is there a song that makes you cry?
Not really.

25. Which character do you relate to the most?
Jane Banks (Mary Poppins)

26. Do you own any clothing that’s Disney themed? 

My go-to Halloween costume

27. Favourite sidekick?

28. Favourite Princess and why?
Belle, because she was such a good role model for my niece in those long ago days. Nothing wrong with a girl keeping her nose stuck in a book, you know.

29. Funniest Disney scene?
The tea party on the ceiling, Mary Poppins

30. Favourite Disney movie and why?
Mary Poppins, because it's fucking awesome.

April Challenge -- Day 29

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What you did for your last birthday

My birthday is a big deal to me, and I'm lucky to have people who want to celebrate it with me. This year, I noticed a pattern within the whoopdedoo: a cheeseburger topped with a fried egg. I had it at two separate celebrations at two different restaurants.

Over the past 15 years or so, Chicago has become a foodie destination, a place to come for haute cuisine. It tells you a lot about me that I'm happier in a dive bar with a cheeseburger topped with a friend egg.

If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Another culprit reveals itself

Last Thanksgiving, my oldest friend and I had a wonderful dinner at Nine Fine Irishmen in the New York New York Hotel. The first course was corn and potato chowder, made with red pepper. It was delicious, and it made me soooo sick. Almost immediately.

You little bastards!
Today, on the way home from the vet -- where I bought a case of prescription cat food for Reynaldo -- I decided to treat myself to lunch. The little Italian restaurant near the bus stop had Saturday specials, including spaghetti carbonara made with ground black pepper. It was delicious. Guess what happened, as soon as I got home.

It was so unfair, because I'd been so happy. Lunch was great, the book I was reading was great. I had a whole day ahead of me with nothing more I had to accomplish. It was cold but sunny and dry. Kris Bryant was back in the lineup today, so I thought it would be great to wander around town with my headphones on, listening to the game and looking for bargains.

Instead I went to the bathroom and then to bed.

I'm feeling better NOW, of course. Now that the day is over. Oh well, I got my laundry done. And tomorrow is another day.

Call Me "Unremarkable"

I've had this Sinatra oldie running through my head ever since I read the report on my kidney ultrasound. 

They are of average size for a female. No swelling. No fluid pooling in the kidney tissue. My bladder is just fine, with no signs of cancer. In fact, I am, in the radiologist's word, altogether "unremarkable," except for ...

My kidney stone. It's a little too big to pass on its own, and way to small to call for surgery. I guess I'm just at that awkward age. The radiologist seems to be leaning toward "wait and see," as he uses words like "nonobstructive." That's my doctor's first choice, too. But she made it clear she's a GP and thinks I'd be better served by a urologist. She sent a referral. i don't want to be cut. I don't have anyone who will take care of me afterward.* I'll talk to the specialist, I suppose, but it will take some convincing to get me to let him carve me up. 

*That's not fair. Kathy would probably do it. So would John, though he hates cats. And Kathleen would, too, even though she has many family obligations and I'd feel too guilty about asking her.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Lowdown (1976)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) In this song, "the lowdown" is an unpleasant truth. Tell us about a time when you had to do like Boz and give someone "the lowdown." Seven years ago, I came upon a Facebook photo of my friend's daughter, then a high school freshman. She was out clubbing -- showing (non-existent) cleavage, sticking out her (green) tongue, drink in hand. I agonized about it, and then told my friend.

2) The lowdown Boz delivers is about the woman his friend is seeing. Specifically, she's gossiping about his finances. If you discovered something negative about a friend's romantic partner, would you share it with your friend? Or would you keep it to yourself? Depends on the circumstance. I'd prefer to keep it to myself.
3) Boz was born William Royce Scaggs, but in high school he was given the nickname "Bosley" -- later shortened to "Boz." His friends thought "Bosley" sounded nerdier than "Bill," and Scaggs was quite the music nerd. What is something you're nerdy about? The Lads from Liverpool. 
4) His son Austin Scaggs is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. What magazines are in the room you're in right now? US Weekly, Allure, Glamour and Entertainment Weekly.
5) Boz and his wife own a vineyard in Napa. Do you prefer white or red wine? Wine gives me a headache.

6) In 1976, the year this song was popular, movie queen Elizabeth Taylor needed an escort to one of the nation's Bicentennial celebrations. Former Under Secretary of the Navy John Warner was asked to take her to the event, and within months he became her husband. Have you ever had a "blind date" that turned into a relationship? No.

7) Also in 1976, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple in Jobs' parents' garage. Does your garage serve as your office, workshop or studio? Or is it just home to your car? No garage.

8) The Bionic Woman premiered in 1976. Because of her "bionic parts," Jaimie Summers could run faster than most cars, had superhuman strength, and super-sensitive hearing. If you could have one of those qualities enhanced -- speed, strength or hearing -- which would you choose? Strength.

9) Random question: When you lean in for a kiss, do you tilt your head to the right or to the left? Right


April Challenge -- Day 28

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The word/phrase you use constantly

"Oh, shit," seems to spring forth from my lips from time to time. 😃


If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Melania done good

One thing I've learned about while reading about First Ladies is that Presidential "soft diplomacy" counts. The respect we show for our neighbors and the pride we have in our own history influences the work that our Presidents do internationally. Pat Nixon's good work in China brought pandas to our shore ... Jackie's dinner in honor of French minister Andre Malraux gave us the Mona Lisa ... Having the people of a foreign country like America better makes it easier for the country's leader to do business with the American President.

Melania Trump did a terrific job this past week when French President Macron was here. At the State Dinner, she gave a gracious nod to her predecessors by using Hillary's china and Laura's glassware and serving fresh vegetables and honey from Michelle's garden. She's signaling that even though her husband is a change agent and a flame thrower, America respects its traditions. And that dress! Acknowledging French fashion by wearing Chanel was a beautiful touch. Reading about this dinner in France, the French must have been pleased by the terrific way their President was treated, and impressed by the pride Mrs. Trump has in her role.

I only wish the President hadn't been such a petty tyrant and had included the press at the dinner. I mean, really! The Birther in Chief, the man who gave oxygen to the rumor that Ted Cruz' father was in league with Lee Harvey Oswald is still whining about what is said about him. His petulance prevented his wife's accomplishment from getting the press attention it deserves.

April Challenge -- Day 27

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I always trust Andy
What you wore today

I just saw my favorite TV weatherman, Andy Avalos, report that the closer we are to the Lake today, the cooler and windier it will be. So I'm reaching for one of my favorite and very well-worn sweaters: the long, royal blue cable knit. Very well-worn boot cut jeans. Blue socks. Closed-toe, flannel Birkenstocks. Small earrings, chunky necklace and watch. Cubs jacket. (Cubs beat Milwaukee 1-0 in a nailbiter yesterday.)

I look comfortable.


If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

April Challenge -- Day 26

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Things you would say to an ex

I had a great love with a good man. It didn't work out. This is what I would say to him.

I love you. Relationships may become untenable, but love doesn't die.

I'm not sorry. Oh, I regret a lot of things I said, and heard, during our relationship. But I'm not sorry I knew you.

I hope you're happy. Because I do.


If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


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? Kickback: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins. I loved Robert B. Parker's creation so much that I was skeptical when Mr. Atkins took over the Spenser series. But he does Spenser justice. This is the fourth time I've picked up an Atkins-authored Spenser, this one about a high school student who lands in juvie, and his mother turns to Spenser to help. I've just begun it, but I know that things will get very complicated, and very dangerous, very fast.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping,Crimes and Trials of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin. Oh, this book! Frustrating!

Toobin does a terrific job at laying out the facts of Patty's case in the trippy, violent, cyncial post-Watergate, pre-Internet world of the 1970s. He brings some colorful characters -- particularly Ms. Hearst's fiance, Steven Weed, and father, Randolph Hearst -- to life. He is also masterful at explaining the complicated legal issues Patty faced -- which is to be expected because he's an accomplished trial lawyer and a familiar legal analyst on CNN. 

But I disagree with the conclusions he draws. He has Patricia willingly joining the SLA and holds her responsible for the crimes she committed. Unfair! The 19-year-old girl was kidnapped at gunpoint and kept first in a closet for more than a month. She was told her parents were not fully cooperating with the kidnappers to gain her release, and that the FBI considered her a fugitive. The second was true, the first was not, but no matter -- she believed both. She didn't think she could return to her former life, and she was too famous and too notorious to just slip back into society. She felt she had to stay with the SLA. Perhaps she even came to accept their Marxist mumbo jumbo. Again, no matter -- she was a crime victim, not a criminal.

Which is not to say I don't recommend this book. It was entertaining and educational, and it makes me want to buy Toobin a drink and explain to him why I think he's wrong about Patty.
3.  What will you read next? Maybe another biography? Or a mystery. My TBR pile is stacked dauntingly high with both.  


April Challenge -- Day 25

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Four weird traits you have

1) Some stuff just has to match or I'm not happy. For example, every day I take two fiber gummies. They must be same the color.

2) I hate doing laundry, even though it's the only domestic chore I'm good at.

3) All my cats have full names. For example, Rey is Reynaldo Curtis and Connie is Constance MacKenzie. I believe they deserve the dignity of their own identities. And I judge others by the names they bestow on their furry roommates.

4) I eat my food one thing at a time. For example, I won't touch my fries until I'm done with my burger. I do not think this is weird, but people in my life have. One of my best friends watched me like a hawk, hoping to "catch" me bouncing between my sweet potatoes and my main course. My icky grandmother actually scolded me for it.


If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Falling apart

Self portrait
This old gray mare just ain't what I used to be ... As per my doctor, I am now peeing through a strainer. I have a rather large kidney stone on the lower left side. My doctor suspects the blood and pain were the result of bits of stone breaking off and working its way out. She says if we have a sample of the stone, we'll know if it's calcium, uric acid or oxalate, which will help determine treatment. She also will be sending me a referral, as she doesn't think she's the one to treat me from here. Still, she doesn't think this is anything dire. She said that the specialist and I may even decide no further treatment is required, just a lot more liquids.

I'm also slathering Capzasin on my right knee. For some reason, yesterday it started hurting soooo bad. I didn't twist it. It's not swollen. Perhaps it's arthritis. If it's not better soon, I will haul my fat ass over to urgent care and get it looked it.

I'm falling apart!

It earned me a hug

I sent an admittedly corny "get well" card to Napoleon's mom, Randi, who is still in the hospital. The card had a cat on the front, and inside it said, "Hope you are feline better." I slipped a $5 bill inside and attached a little kitten ornament to the envelope. (I got the ornament for $1 at a fundraiser my village held to raise funds for the animal shelter.)

Apparently this meant a great deal to her. She's got the ornament and card next to her hospital bed because, as her husband, Caleb told me, "they remind her of this guy (Napoleon)." He thanked me and gave me a hug.

I want her to feel more normal. She appreciates me because I treat her like a woman, not a homeless woman. I imagine that most of the other patients have get well cards and flowers and gifts. Now she has a card and a little giftie, too.

Doing this made me happy, and it earned me a hug!

April Challenge -- Day 24

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Something you miss

The mall. I went to Carson's on Sunday because that's the best place to buy my favorite jeans. They are going out of business. It was miserably sad. Carson's -- originally Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co. -- has been in the Chicagoland area since before the Civil War.

To get to Carson's, I had to pass Toys R Us. Their liquidation sale is in full swing, too.

The other anchor stores in that mall are JC Penney and Sears. Were I a betting woman, I would have put money on those two going under before Carson's.

I used to love going to the mall. I enjoyed people watching, wasting time in the food court, window shopping. It was a destination, even if all I needed to buy was cat food.


If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

April Challenge -- Day 23

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A fun family event

On Friday, May 25, my nephew graduates from high school. I am very emotional about this. 

I'm happy to see it happen. He hasn't liked high school, didn't feel like he belonged.* He needs a fresh start, and perhaps at college, in a bigger pond, it will be easier for him to find his tribe. It will be fascinating to watch him evolve.

On the other hand, it makes me sad. The little boy who read the Cubs box scores with me, who loved Thomas, the Tank Engine so much, who cried so easily, who always fell asleep when I pushed him in his stroller is gone forever. A man stands in his place. A man I admire, for sure, but no longer a boy.

In addition to little presents, I've socked away $200 or so for him. I like thinking of how happy he will be with the cash. And it will be fun to see him in the moment he says goodbye to this chapter in his life and looks ahead to the next.


*He was disgusted when his classmates walked out in support of the Parkland students, and then simply went home. Many didn't even attend the rally protesting gun violence, and they certainly didn't come back to class.

If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

NO! No no no no!

See this? This is what happens when a reckless jerk named German Marquez throws a 96 mph fastball at your head.

From the Chicago Sun Times

The ball knocked Kris Bryant's glasses clear off his face (there they are, flying through the air, sans an earpiece) and twisted his helmet on his head. He had to be helped off the field and is under observation for a concussion. (So far, he's fine.)

Marquez' teammates say he wasn't aiming at Bryant's head. Yeah, whatever. When you're throwing inside and that hard, you are required to be careful. He wasn't. And he injured one of my guys. Bastard. The umpire didn't even eject Marquez.

One of the Cubs' coaches threw a cup of coffee at the umpire. As the Beatles sang, "You can't do that." So he was ejected. But I understand his fury. Look at KB in that picture!

A couple of Burts

In 1994, when Burt Lancaster died at age 80, my grandmother was bereft. I was surprised, because she had never expressed her affection for him before. She seemed to go for the Latin lovers that were popular in the old days -- Fernando Lamas, Riccardo Montalban, and most of all, Cesar Romero.

"You don't understand," she said sadly. "Even my movie stars are dying." My dad (her son) was gone. Her husband and parents were gone. And now, even Burt Lancaster, who was crazy popular in her regular movie-going days, was gone.

Reynolds with DeNiro and Chase at the premiere
Today, I kind of understand. I rented The Last Movie Star from Xfinity OnDemand and was touched and appalled by Burt Reynolds. I don't know how to judge his work in this movie, as he is pretty much playing himself and I wonder how it would play to someone who didn't watch him on The Tonight Show and Hollywood Squares and Smokey and the Bandit.

The stud who posed nude for Cosmopolitan now cannot walk without a cane, and his voice is so ravaged it's hard to hear him. I feel sorry for him, but I'm also mad at him. His frailty is a reminder of my own mortality. He's my Burt Lancaster.

I was never a fan of Burt's. He was a little too smirky and a little too superficial. But he was ubiquitous in the 1970s. I saw Smokey and the Bandit at the show ... more than once. We all did. I can still sing the theme song. ("East bound and down, loaded up and truckin'. We're gonna do what they say can't be done. We've got a long way to go and short time to get there. I'm east bound, just watch old Bandit run.") I still think of him whenever I'm served Coor's.

Fortunately the actors of that era I did fangirl over are faring better these days. Two-time Oscar winner Robert Redford just teamed with Jane Fonda for the fourth time in Netflix' Our Souls at Night. I haven't seen it (no Netflix) but I did watch them do publicity. At 81, he's still fit and articulate and he has a scene where he and Fonda dance, so I know he's still mobile.

Oscar winner Warren Beatty is still working, too. I saw his turn as Howard Hughes in Rules Don't Apply. I was ambivalent about it -- Hughes' mental and emotional problems are being played for laughs and they really weren't funny. But here's the old auteur, acting and directing at 80. And, lest you have any questions about his mental agility, just recall him at both the 2018 and 2017 Academy Awards.

It was Warren who first realized what had gone wrong at the 2017 Oscars, that LaLa Land wasn't really the winner. He knew he had been given the wrong envelope and refused to relinquish the evidence until he was vindicated. It was fun to watch. He may be old, but he's still imposingly tall and he just wasn't letting go of that envelope and no one was going to make him.

Bonnie and Clyde at the 2018 Oscar do-over

God bless you guys. Because Bob and Warren, you mean more to me than your estimable work. You are my touchstones. Don't go all Burt Reynolds on me!

April Challenge -- Day 22

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Your morning routine

This is asked on Sunday, which is not a typical morning. But here's how it unfolded ...

•  Got up on my own. Meaning: no alarm. I locked Rey out of my room at about 2:30 AM because he was too disruptive, so I thought I could sleep even later, but my room got soooooooo hot it woke me up.
•  Fed the cats. Each is on a special diet, so I have to watch and make sure each sticks to his/her own bowl.
•  Watched the local news and farted around on the Internet
•  Went back to bed for an hour
•  Watched Meet the Press and This Week (George was actually there!)
•  Put together a bag of "housewares" for Goodwill (the fan, heater, flower pot and vase from my office)
•  Showered.
•  Put in NEW lenses (which I do on the 22 of each month)
•  Executed my skincare regimen.
•  Brushed my teeth.
• Took my meds from my days-of-the-week pill case. (Prevents me from asking myself five hours from now, "Did I take my meds?")

If you're interested in seeing the April Challenge prompts and joining in, click here.

Sunday Stealing

IF ...

1. If you could eliminate a single type of insect in the world, which would it be? Oh, no you don't! You're not going to trick me into forgetting what we learned in Girl Scouts: every one of Mother Nature's creatures serves a purpose. I'm not eliminating anybody.

2. If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would you want to have seen?
I already witnessed a pretty cool one. I had the distinct honor of being in the crowd on 11/4/08 when Barack Obama addressed us, and accepted the Presidency

Look! There I am!

3. If you had to paint your entire home inside and out a single color other than white, what would you pick? Light blue

4. If you could decide what will be written on your gravestone, what would you have inscribed.
Just the names and the dates.

5. If you could have a secret listening device in any one room in the world, what room would you put it in?
My boss' boss' boss. He's the one who ultimately decides if I get axed this year.

6. If you could have any music group that no longer exists play at your birthday party, who would you want?
As Ed Sullivan memorably said, "And now, here they, THE BEATLES!"

7. If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?

8. If you could master one type of cuisine, which one would you choose?
Italian! It's my favorite.

9. If you had to have one piece of music softly playing in your mind for the rest of your life, what would you want it to be?
"I Will" from The Beatles White Album.

10. If you could ensure one single personality trait in your children, what would you want it be? 

11. If you could resolve any single dispute, anywhere in the world, what would you solve?
I am so not equipped to even dip a toe into this arena.

12. If you could be a guest on any talk show, which would you like to be on?
Colbert! Because I love him.

13. If you were to be a news correspondent posted to any foreign country, where would you like to go?
There's a little wedding coming up that I'd love to cover.

14. If you could have been on the Supreme court for any single case in its history, which would you select?
Roe v. Wade. We have a right to privacy. We have the right to control our own bodies. In addition to freedom of religion, we have a right to freedom from religion.

15. If you could pick one person from history to live next door to you, who would you pick? My all-time heroine, JBKO. I've read comments made by her younger friends (Carly Simon, Kathy McKeon) about how she enjoyed playing mentor. Maybe she could teach me how to tie a scarf. For real! I could do a post solely on Jackie and her scarves! She saw the world in a way I just can't.

Also, we share a love of older buildings, and of books. I'd love to ask her how she feels about the internet.