Monday, October 29, 2018

It's Kwizgiver's Birthday!

She's a rabid reader, a dedicated teacher and a good blogging buddy. If you don't read her blog, you should. Becoming acquainted with Ms. Kwiz will enrich your cyberlife.

My heart is suddenly lighter

I know what happened to Napoleon! And it's all good. Caleb got a promotion at work. He drives a forklift now during the day shift. And they are living indoors, day in/day out.

It's a long story, but I googled and one website led me to another and another and finally I tracked them down. I have a phone number and I can text them.

I want to ask if they still need clothes, and if Caleb still goes through paperback books. I can send that period mystery that I've been carrying in my briefcase.

I'll be posting a new peace globe soon

You can, too!

Founder Mimi Lenox describes the BlogBlast for Peace as event that encompasses, "70 million blogs. 70 million possibilities."

Mimi believes that it isn't enough for us to "unmake war, we have to remake peace." We bloggers are working toward this worthy goal by creating peace globes and posting them on our sites on November 4, 2018.

To learn more, and maybe participate yourself, click here.  And be sure to google Dona Nobis Pacem on November 4 so you can check out all the inspiring and imaginative globes ... from all over the globe.

As the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose once sang ...

It's too late to turn back now! Day One of my bathroom remodel.

The contractor reports no evidence of living rodents. I find that comforting, I suppose, but I mourn for the mice who perished in my walls.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

No. Not this Gal. Not in this country.

Yesterday, a shooter stormed a synagogue and killed at least 8 people. It was another horrifying event in a terrible week that began with assassination attempts against prominent politicians.

Our President actually suggested that we should have armed guards at places of worship.

I reject that. I refuse to worship my Lord in a house with an armed guard at the door.

Have we actually reached a point where that is considered acceptable, desirable? Better than banning assault weapons and bump stocks?


A ribbon of emoticons

I got a quick text from Henry's partner, Reg. "Just opened my mail. Thanks." Followed by love emoticons.

It meant a great deal to me. Reg has been hard on me -- and everyone else -- during this ordeal. It hurt. I felt isolated, and my relationship with Henry felt minimized and demeaned. I felt like I had lost both Henry and Reg.

But I persisted in maintaining the relationship with Reg because I knew Henry would want me to. I sent notes via USPS to keep the lines of communication open without immediately engaging Reg. After all, my feelings do matter and I must protect myself throughout this sad chapter, which may prove to be a very long one.

A roller coaster week in the ICU

My friend Henry's condition continues to confuse and terrify. When he first got to the hospital, he was speaking and in English. He could move all his limbs and respond to direct commands. But, because he was so aggressive and angry, the neuro specialists agreed he should be sedated. It's important to keep him completely quiet, so his injuries remain contained and don't bleed. They are working hard to avoid operating on his brain.

They have been able to repair his broken ankle, which is good. Wonderful, in fact, if it wasn't for the traumatic brain injuries. For days though, he seemed to have regressed. No longer speaking at all when he's brought out of sedation, only thrashing and making loud, angry noises. Then he contracted a lung infection. Not an uncommon occurrence in the ICU, but troubling and complicating.

Finally, Saturday, there was a new glimmer of hope. His infection responded so well to treatment that his breathing tubes were removed. This made Henry much more comfortable, and consequently he's been more responsive. His partner, Reg, is back in Key West -- unfortunately, if Reg doesn't work he doesn't get paid -- spoke to him via phone. When Reg said, "I love you," Henry responded positively to his lover's voice, eyes lighting up, mumbling something that sounded much like, "You, too."

Happy birthday to me -- Part 1

And so it begins. Galfest 2018 kicked off Saturday! It's going to be a subdued affair because of Henry's accident. I contacted four of my friends -- Rose, John, Mindy and Barb -- and told them that, instead of a gift, I'd prefer they send money to Henry's GoFundMe page. And because each time we've spoken, since summer, Henry had bragged about the used books he'd snared for my birthday (one about JBKO, the other about the Beatles). It's hard not to feel melancholy.

But nothing is all bad or sad. Kathy texted me Friday night and asked if I wanted to meet for lunch Saturday afternoon. My first impulse was to say no, I have too much to do to prepare for the remodel -- it starts tomorrow! -- and besides, all I want to do these days is sleep. But I recognize my impulses are not healthy. I should see people. And so I told her I'd love to, and asked if she'd give me a lift to Goodwill so I could drop off stuff too unwieldy for the bus.

She had a surprise for me: a birthday giftbag containing a copy of The President Is Missing, by James Patterson and my guy Bill. It was a sweet and thoughtful gift -- and she was one of the first to contribute to Henry's GoFundMe. She's been great throughout this ordeal.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" Theme
This week's song was chosen because this is the last Saturday 9 before Halloween. Are you unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, was born in England. Name another pop culture contribution England has made.
2) This week's song is recognized as the theme to Hitchcock's long-running TV show, but "Funeral March for a Marionnette" is a classic piece written for piano in the late 1870s by Charles Gounod. Do you often listen to classical music? No. I really don't care for it. At all.

3) Janet Leigh's shower scene in  Hitchcock's Psycho is considered one of the scariest sequences ever filmed. What's the most frightening movie you've ever seen? Yeah, I'll stick with Psycho. Because it's a horror movie, and since the subject matter is so lurid, people often disregard how nearly perfect it is. Shot for shot, it's a great piece of film making. I think the quality is why it's so enduringly scary.

4) Hitchcock admitted that he "never trusted birds," and he took that fear and turned it into the movie, The Birds. Is there a member of the animal kingdom that just gives you "the creeps?" Squirrels. I recently shared this story for Sunday Stealing, but here's the truncated version: When I was about 5, my dad told me this really vivid, scary story about how a little boy (just my age) was bit by the squirrel he was feeding (just like my dad had caught me doing). The squirrel was rabid and sunk his sharp teeth into the boy, and wouldn't let go. The police came and shot the squirrel, who wouldn't even open its jaws in death. The poor boy was raced to the hospital in an ambulance, with the bloody squirrel carcass hanging from his arm. Naturally none of that is true, but it's stayed with me ever since.
5) Halloween will soon be upon us. Will you carve a jack o'lantern this year?  Nope

6) What candy will trick or treaters get at your house? All they'll get is disappointment. I won't be home.

7)  When you went trick or treating, did you prefer fantasy costumes (like a storybook character) or scary ones (like a monster)? I don't remember many of my costumes, but since they were chosen by my mother, I know they had to be fantasy because she wasn't into monsters.

8)  Which candy was your favorite? Which one were you disappointed to find in your trick or treat bag? I love Mary Janes. I hate candy corn.

9) Which do you find scarier -- cemeteries or haunted houses? Haunted houses.


That's how much my monthly condo assessments will go up each month in 2019. I know, because I'm on the board and helped arrive at the amount.

This will pay for:

•  A new intercom system. Amazingly, those of us on the fourth floor (and many other residents) have been without any doorbell for more than two years now. I've gotten used to it, but we know that it's just a matter of time before someone checks and sees that we're not in compliance with village ordinances (I live in a village that tends to have an ordinance for everything).

•  New ceiling tiles in the parking area. The previous board used the wrong type of tiles.Specifically tiles designed for indoor use were installed. The tiles get wet with condensation from the heating and water pipes above, they get heavy, they fall down on the windshields of the cars parked below. We've been trying to repair this on a tile-by-tile basis, but it's actually more expensive to do it that way. We should just bite the bullet and replace 'em all.

•  Roof repair. Being on the top floor, this one is near and dear to my heart. And the top of my head!

None of these things are merely cosmetic. They're all necessary, and the first two are way overdue.

But I'm not happy about this. $55.83 is an 18% increase. There are so many other things I'd rather do with that $670.


Ironically, we got an offer from a local real estate office. A developer wants to buy our building. All 24 of us would have to agree to it -- and it's hard to get all 24 of us to agree on anything -- but it would result in a windfall. Probably $50,000 more than any of us would get if we sold individually (way more for me, since I have crappy carpeting and my living room windows should be replaced).

I'm for it. At this stage, that infusion in cash would be so welcome.

But if the offer turns out to be legit, and if we all agree, the developer will tear this building down and replace it with a high rise. So the ceiling tiles, the roof and the doorbell won't matter.

It's never all bad

There's so much going on in my life right now, and much of it is sad. My oldest friend has myriad health problems and not a lot of resources. It seems that my little adopted family -- Napoleon the Cat and his people -- have disappeared without a trace. And two weeks ago tonight, my darling Henry suffered traumatic brain injury.

But I have to stay positive. I have to look ahead. I have to keep functioning.

So I'm thinking about my bathroom remodel. My long-awaited, long-delayed new tub and tile are being installed starting Monday morning. The contractor has his parking pass and I've had a set of keys made. I have scheduled a water shut off for 9:00 AM on 10/29. It's happening! Fingers crossed. I'm trying not to fixate on what can go wrong -- oh! the horror stories I've heard -- and am anticipating my new, white bathroom.

And I'm closely monitoring the news about the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival. I've got my room booked. I have enough miles to fly to LA for free. Now the first line up of the films has been released. Oh. My. God. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! Holiday! How I love those two films! And what movie would be better to watch with the TCM family than the first one TCM ever broadcast: Gone with the Wind. I can't wait to celebrate these movies with other members of classic film tribe.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Strangely, it made me feel better

"I am still being asked to report on Henry's condition. I cannot possibly respond to all inquiries. I thought if I updated the GoFundMe page, that would be enough ... Apparently not." So read the pissy little post on Reg's Facebook page.

It was unwise. He is going to be relying on these pesky folks who love Henry for financial and emotional support because Henry's recovery is going to be slow and arduous and expensive. Also, it's not how Henry would want his friends to be treated.

On the other hand, I know Reg is exhausted and scared. The news out of Miami hasn't been good. Except for angry outbursts, Henry has become uncommunicative and now he's battling a lung infection. I remain hopeful because the hospital staff doesn't seem alarmed. Apparently these bumps in the road are to be expected in the treatment of traumatic brain injury. Financial realities demand that Reg leave Henry's side and return to Key West and work. Since he tends bar, it must be so hard for him to deal with the public when his heart is breaking. I get it.

Still, Henry is my dear friend. I love him. I am scared that he won't recover completely, that he'll be different somehow and lost to me. It's possible that he won't even know me at all. It would be nice if I could ask specific questions about his condition and care.

But I cannot. Reg tore a strip out of me more than a week ago, and I have ceased real-time contact. I have since used the USPS to send three notes -- one with a Visa gift card, one with a CVS gift card, one with a Shell gift card -- because I know he needs the help and because I know Henry would want me to keep the lines of communication open.

But I must protect myself. I can't let Reg hurt my feelings. I still have to function. I still have to go to work and live my life ... even though Henry is the first thing I think of every morning. I still can't believe this really happened, but it has. Every day, it's still true.

So when Reg opens my notes -- if he opens my notes -- he can respond by cursing me for my intrusiveness and I'll never know. And it made me feel better to learn today that he's mad at the world, not just me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

If you don't want be called "deplorable," don't act deplorably

As I rule, I want to like First Ladies.* It's an impossible role. There's no job description, yet everyone is ready to tell you that you're doing it wrong. For example: If you pay too much attention to wardrobe and furnishings (from Mary Lincoln to Nancy Reagan), you're superficial. If you aren't a clothes horse (Yoo-hoo! Bess, Rosalyn and Hillary!), you're a depressing drudge. So girls, I've got your back. That includes you, Melania.

Or it did. Until today.

The Clintons and the Obamas received bombs in the mail. Fucking. Bombs. In the mail! I get that Donald Trump wouldn't call them. In that trick bag cranium of his, seeing that his predecessors are OK might be perceived as "weak."

But why hasn't Mrs. Trump publicly reached out to the two couples? To people that she knows who were in peril. Maybe invite them to the White House. Wouldn't that be gracious? Wouldn't that be compassionate? Wouldn't that "be best?"


Uh, Melania? The people beside you just received mail bombs ...

*Except Mamie. In real time, Mrs. Eisenhower was very popular. But from what I've read about JBKO and Pat Nixon, she was a stone bitch.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

It's time

"Any change? Please?" So asked the man with the paper cup beside the Starbucks front door. This was a few feet from where Caleb and Napoleon used to sit.

I took the crumpled dollar bill that I always have in my jeans, saved for my favorite street cat, and placed it in the young man's cup.

They're not coming back. It gets dark earlier, it's starting to get cold. I don't know where Napoleon, Caleb and Randi are, but after a month I have to accept that they are gone from my life.

I'm still keeping the paperback mystery in my bag, though. I know Caleb would appreciate it. It weighs little. And I could be wrong. I'm wrong all the time about all kinds of things, you know.

Monday, October 22, 2018


I raised $500 in the last week for my friend Henry. I persuaded 10 of my friends -- none of whom have actually met Henry -- to kick in toward the cost of his rehabilitation and care. I am very proud of this.

It's all I can do, you know. He remains sedated most of the day because when he is awakened, he is angry, and everything must be done to keep him calm so he can heal. But because he is out of it more often than not, there's no way of knowing if he's making any progress.

And so, to stay sane, I concentrate on the cash.

I treasure everyone's gifts. They will not only help dear Henry, they bring me comfort in the here and now. Here are a just a few of the lights that shine especially bright for me ...

• A long-ago boyfriend and his wife. We're all now Facebook friends. You know how, when a relationship ends, you wonder if you handled that well? Well, I take this as an indication that I did handle that breakup OK.

• My Cousin Rose. There has never been a time in my life when I've felt desperate that she hasn't come through for me.

• My niece. She's always broke, you know. Laboring under the crushing weight of her student loans. But she remembers how, when she was a little girl, Henry sent her a Lilly Pulitzer dress to wear on the first day of school. I'd forgotten, but she remembered.

• Kathy. A retiree, she's always broke, too. And yet she pitched in almost instantly. She's been unfailingly kind and attentive throughout this ordeal.

(And, of course, you, too, Snarkela.)

I will keep looking at the list and the dollar amounts. I know love isn't currency and currency isn't love, but right now, it's all I have to stave off the despair.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Sweet City Woman (1971)

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

1) The lyrics tell us the singer is on his way to catch a train and he really wants to be on time. When is the last time you were late for something? Work on Friday. But then, I'm always late. I just can't manage to get out of the house on time in the morning, even though I have three (3!) alarm clocks.

2) He sings he's on his way to meet a woman known for her macaroons. What's your favorite cookie? Those clever elves have switched the fudge stripes to pumpkin for fall!

3) His girlfriend's face is so pretty she lights up the city night. How many lights are in the room you're in? How many are switched on? I'm under a ceiling fan. The blades are switched off, but the four bulbs are on.

4) This is the rare top 40 tune that prominently features a banjo. Sam has always been crazy about the sound of a banjo. What sound makes you smile? (It doesn't have to be a musical instrument. Think bacon sizzling, church bells, etc.) My cat Connie's purr. For a compact critter, she has an impressive (and delightful) motor.

5) 47 years after their record was a hit, The Stampeders still tour every summer, playing festivals across the US and their native Canada. Do you enjoy live music under the stars? Or would you prefer to be seated in a theater? I'm a fat old lady with a bum knee. I'll take the theater seat, thank you!

6) In 1971, when this song was popular on the radio, detective shows were popular on TV. Mannix, Ironside and Cannon were all in the Top 20. Who is your favorite TV detective? Before he was SATC's Mr. Big, before he was The Good Wife's Peter Florrick, he was Law and Order's Mike Logan.

7) Also in 1971, the Post Office Department was disbanded as a Cabinet department and became The United States Postal Service. When did you last go to the post office? Were you mailing something? Buying stamps? Picking up a package? Renewing your passport? I sent an American Express giftcard to my friend Reg. Because I wanted a tracking number, I mailed it at the window.

8) Race car legend Jeff Gordon was born in 1971. Do you watch NASCAR? Nope

9) Random question -- Do you have a vaccination scar? If so, where is it? My upper left arm.

The paperback in my bag

I've been carrying The Language of Bees in my briefcase for three weeks now. I don't know anything about it, except it's a period mystery. It's not for me anyway. I picked it up for Napoleon's "dad," Caleb. He goes through books so fast, it's as though he eats them! For this homeless man and his wife, Randi, books are everything -- their only entertainment and respite from the difficult dreariness of life on the street.

But that paperback has been in my bag for three weeks now. I haven't seen Caleb, Randi or Napoleon in nearly a month.

Last time I talked to Caleb, I offered to bring him some clothes from my friend John. Caleb said that of course he wanted them, that if he couldn't wear them himself he knew plenty of others in the homeless community who would appreciate them. But it was Randi he really wished I could help. The anti-cancer meds made her leg swell, and it was hard for her to find clothes. I asked him to check with her, to make a note of the sizes she wants, and I'd see what I can do.

Then I took a few days off to visit my nephew at college. Since I've been back, this little family has

I haven't gone this long without seeing at least one of them since we met, back in May 2017. If it had been a week or two, I would just assume that Caleb was taking extra shifts at the warehouse where he drives a forklift. He's always willing for more hours, better shifts.

But as the weeks melt into a month, I'm afraid it's more dire.  I have nothing to go on but instinct, but I suspect Randi is in the hospital again. She may even have died. It's sad but true -- the survival rates for pancreatic cancer are not good.

I miss interacting with Caleb, Randi and Napoleon so much! They keep me grounded and remind me of what life is like for those outside of my immediate bubble. And I like Caleb, especially. He's curious. Plus, there's a healing power to cat fur.

I hope they're OK. I pray they're OK. I don't think they are OK.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

She knew me!

I worked with an executive at the start of her career with my downstate client. She was smart, to be sure, but all sharp elbows. Of course, she's the client, so she gets to be any way she wants. I know I delivered for her, but I was never sure how pleased she was with my efforts. Shortly after she announced she was pregnant with her second baby, she moved to another part my client's business, which would allow her to work 3 days/week. The company is a big place, and I never saw her again.

That was 8 years ago.

Tuesday she was up in Chicago. New capacity, same job. As she toured our new offices, she caught side of me and called, "Gal!" She gave me a big hug and we chatted for a while. It seems she was always more fond of me than I ever knew.

So that's something good about our heinous open seating. Everyone saw me interact with her and I got a few extra brownie points from management and a lot more respect from my coworkers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

I must remember: this isn't about me

I admit it: I'm really having a hard time with Henry's accident (see post below). He is closer to me than family, and I'm terrified. He has brain damage. What if he doesn't remember me? What if he's different and we aren't friends anymore? I can't imagine my life without him.

His partner, Reg, has been kind of a trick bag. He called three times right after the accident. Saturday he told me that if he didn't update me, Henry would never forgive him. However, by Sunday night, he was clearly annoyed with me. Phyl, the neighbor who drove Reg up to Miami, and is staying with Henry while poor Reg has to go to work, is obviously, a nice woman. But I've never liked her. She drinks too much, smokes too much weed, and is a sloppy drunk. Over the years, I've never enjoyed her company. I've always told the boys that if they want to hang with her when I'm down visiting, great. But I'm good with my own company. I'll stay at the hotel by the pool, or walk Duval Street or have a margarita on the beach. Whatever. Enjoy! I just don't want to see her. It's worthy of note that Reg has never wants to see her, either.

Well, Sunday, Reg kept saying, "Look, I know you don't like Phyl, but ..." I have said nothing negative about Phyl throughout this ordeal. "I know you don't like Phyl, but she's Henry's other half. I'm glad she's staying with Henry, even if you don't like her." Over and over and over!

"I don't matter in this," I finally said. "You do what's best for you."

He told me that the sound of my voice made him cry, and he doesn't want to cry.

I asked him if he wanted to stay at the hotel in Miami another night, because I could make that happen for him. I'd be happy to pay for it. Just tell me how ...

"I'm sick of people asking me questions I can't answer!"

So now I'm just "people?"

I told him he doesn't need to update me anymore. That I'll be happy to get news from his friend, Patrick -- I adore Patrick -- if that would be easier. He said that was fine. I haven't heard from him since.

I know Reg is suffering. The love of his life almost died. If Henry's personality is changed, what will that do to their relationship? And then there's money. If Reg isn't working, he's not getting paid. They were broke before this happened. The enormity and complexity of their financial woes must be crushing.

So I hear from Patrick every day. I am super perky at work and then I go him and go to sleep -- which is stupid because I have to much to do to get my home ready for the next stage of my bathroom remodel. But I'm hurt and scared and I feel very, very alone.

So for inspiration and solace, I turn to my skipper. Cubs manager Joe Maddon. He will help me get my mind right.

I must remember that Henry would want Reg and I to get along. That Reg is doing the best he can in an impossible situation. That I am healthy and lucky to be healthy. That I have to be about love and stay about love.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Key West Man Airlifted to Miami

So read the headline. The Key West man is my friend Henry.

He was riding his bike home Friday night at about 11 PM. He gets off work at about 7:00, so I don't know where he'd been. Dinner with a friend? A writer's guild meeting? Pedaling home, he turned from a side street onto the busy street ... and into a Chevy Van.

At about 6:00 AM, his partner, Reg, was notified by the local police. Henry had been taken to the local Key West hospital, but his injuries were beyond their capabilities and he was airlifted to a trauma center in Miami.

I spoke to Reg briefly during his three hour drive to Miami. My friend is in "critical but stable condition." A broken ankle, which in the scheme of things is no big deal, and traumatic brain injury. TBI, it's called.

I've since heard that Henry is still "critical but stable." I'm told that no change at this point is a "positive" thing, and "the hospital staff is hopeful." What are they hopeful for? His survival? His recovery? Will my friend be all right?

There is nothing I can do but pray.

And curse the fact that, even though they work three jobs between them, Reg and Henry cannot afford a second car. I have always hated the idea of Henry pedaling in the dark. He has always made light of my concerns -- reassuring me that he makes himself very visible to other vehicles with reflectors and lights. But, it seems, last night he was the one who wasn't paying attention. And what would have been a little fender bender between two vehicles is now traumatic brain injury.

I am desolate.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Unbreak My Heart (1996)

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

1) Songs like this are enduringly popular in part because each of us has had our heart broken. Give us the name of a heartbreaker from your own life. Dan.

2) Toni Braxton sings that "nights are so unkind." What did you do last night? I watched the Brewers handle the Dodgers. (With my Cubs no longer in the playoffs, I'm all in for the Red Sox and the Brewers.)

3) While this song has Toni singing the blues, in real life her love life is happier. Now aged 50, she's engaged and has been sporting a diamond on her left hand. Do you believe that a bride is ever too old to have a big wedding? Yes. But then, I don't enjoy receptions. I think everyone who is not related to the House of Windsor should pass on big weddings so I won't have to go.

4) Growing up, Toni Braxton's parents severely restricted how much TV their children could watch each day. Ironically, today Toni and her sisters participate in a reality TV show on the WE-TV network, so TV cameras are a big part of their daily adult lives. What TV show do you try not to miss? This Is Us and the new Murphy Brown.

5) She is prone to dry skin and applies Kiehl's Hand Salve to her hands and arms throughout the day. Tell us about a product you're brand loyal to. St. Ives Swiss Formula Scrubs. I've tried 'em all, and not only is the St. Ives family of products is affordable, they're my favorites. (I use apricot on my feet, oatmeal on my face and green tea when my face is starting to erupt.)

6) Toni admits to being "a bit of a germaphobe," and always maintains a supply of hand sanitizer and wipes. What is always on your shopping list? It used to be bottled water, because the village is replacing the sewer pipes and warned us not to drink our tap water until the construction is done. How I resented having to pay extra to drink water! I'm happy to report that, last week, the warning has been lifted and I'm back to good old Lake Michigan water. I credit the fluoride for the way these old teeth are hanging in there.

7) While she is not shy about her body, and has worn revealing outfits on the red carpet, Toni Braxton refused a 2011 offer from Hugh Hefner and Playboy to pose nude. What's the last thing you said "no" to? Working on Friday. I had intended to take Thursday as a vacation day, when my bathroom was finally painted, but my boss talked me into taking it as a work from home day. I wrote four emails for my client's new cyber campaign. Throughout the day on Thursday, I learned that my art director was taking Friday off ... and our traffic coordinator was taking Friday off ... and our producer was taking Friday off ... At the end of the day on Thursday, I told my boss I'd be taking Thursday's vacation day on Friday. He hemmed and hawed, but I said, "Look, without an art director or a producer, nothing I write is going anywhere anyway." He (reluctantly) admitted I was right, so I got a three-day weekend!

8) In 1996, the year this song was popular, Mattel introduced a Star Trek Barbie and Ken set. Have you ever fantasized about space travel? The thought terrifies me! In the movie Gravity, there's a scene where Clooney fatally floats out into infinite nothingness and it thoroughly panicked me. I prefer small, defined spaces, thank you.

9) Random question -- Would you (or did you) invite an ex to your wedding? Maybe I would. There are a couple guys I dated, not too seriously, back in the day that I've stayed friends with. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

How to spend a day off

I slept in. Then I went to a matinee. Playing hooky to see a Redford movie felt very deja high school.

Redford has said this is his last movie. He's 82, and that famous face is certainly weathered. He walks like an old man, too. But the eyes and smile! And he's funny. Over his career, he's never gotten credit for his sly charm, perhaps because his gorgeous exterior overpowered everything else. In this movie, you believe he's a clever rogue, a lifelong criminal who has gotten by on his wits and his charm. You can see why Sissy Spacek finds him irresistible. If this really was his swan song, bravo. (It's a much better note to exit on than Burt Reynolds' sad and sympathetic last turn.)

Then I got a flu shot. Free, with my insurance. Yea! Since it was at the pharmacy in my local BIG grocery store, I picked up a couple rolls of my favorite paper towels on the way out. (I don't want to "choose a size." I want full-sized, all the time!)

Then I had a big, gooey plate of manicotti, and a salad and a beer. The little Italian bistro was playing Sinatra, as they should have.

I fantasize that, when I retire, all my days will be like this one.

Like a boss

On Friday, Princess Eugenie married some guy. I couldn't tell you what the bride even wore, so entranced was I by William and Kate's only daughter, Charlotte. 

It was a windy day, but Charlotte didn't let Mother Nature spoil her pre-ceremony photo op.

Afterward, she executed an Elizabeth-worthy royal wave.

How cute is this kid?

The deed is done!

My bathroom is finally painted! And I learned that honesty is the best policy. On Monday afternoon, once it became painfully obvious that the contractor I hired wasn't showing up, and the other guy who estimated for the job was a ditz, I went back to square one. I found a new painter on Angie's List and called.

I got a person! Usually, when I've called contractors, I've gotten voicemail. I guess office staff is not a priority for painters. Getting their office manager was a very good sign.

Her name is Cindy and she was very kind. She told me that what happened to me happens very often this time of year. Painters who do exterior as well as interior try to get their outdoor jobs done before the weather changes, and consequently they get overbooked. Why don't they call and explain? She had no answer, but she says it happens all the time. So I felt less like a sucker.

I realized that, if I told her that I had to get the work done right away, I was putting myself in a less advantageous negotiating position. But what the hell. Sometimes you have to trust people. So I explained about the tub/tile guy being booked and (gulp!) paid, and that the painting had to be done before the more expensive work could take place. I told her that the radiator had to be painted at least a day before the boiler is turned on. I said, "I'm talking to you like you're my minister or something, aren't I?"

She laughed, said she understood completely and would take care of me. The estimator, Frank, happened to be available at 9:00 on Tuesday morning. She mentioned there was a possibility that she could get a painter to my place on Saturday. They don't usually book work on weekends, but if the painter wants the extra work, they make it available. That was almost great. It's supposed to get progressively colder every night and I wasn't sure the timing would work out with the radiator. But you know what? So what! The worst case scenario is a freshly painted and tiled bathroom with an icky radiator until next spring. Let's do it!

Frank came over and estimated. He talked about the Saturday option, too. He didn't promise, because it depended on whether or not his painters wanted extra work, but he led me to believe that was the best he had to offer.

On Wednesday I got an email estimate. I was expecting it to be high. After all, they knew they had me over a barrel. Also, since they have an office staff. there are more people on their payroll. The price of this efficiency is passed along to the consumer, right?

It was still less than $500, and they gave me credit for an Angie's List coupon that I hadn't even asked for! When I called to accept the estimate, Cindy told me she had good news for me. She had a painter suddenly available for 8:00 AM the next morning!

I know she pulled strings to make it happen. After the painter, Edmundo, left, I called Cindy and thanked her. Then I left positive reviews on Angie's List ... and Yelp! ... and Unfortunately they're not on Home Advisors, or I'd sing their praises there, too.

Even better than the lingering smell of the paint is the feeling that, by being honest, I got honest and compassionate treatment in return.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018


WWW.WEDNESAY asks us 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?  
And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson. Palmyra is a tiny (less than 5 sq. miles) island south of Hawaii. It's officially "unoccupied," meaning no one lives there -- though US Navy personnel and conservationists stay for short periods. It's on this virtually deserted island that two couples meet, and a real-life mystery ensues.

Mac and Muff Graham, a wealthy couple with a luxury yacht, sailed down to Palmyra from San Diego for a tropical adventure. Buck and Stephanie escape to Palmyra from Hawaii, using their amateurishly rehabbed boat to evade law enforcement. Somehow Buck and Stephanie and the big yacht end up in Arizona ... and no one has heard from Mac or Muff in ages. What happened?

This true story is told with flair by Bruce Henderson and Vincent Bugliosi -- the latter represented Stephanie at trial. It's not high art, but it's entertaining. And as I read, I wonder about the similarities between Stephanie and Muff. On the surface, they appear to be radically different, yet they each got on board and took off for Palmyra, despite tremendous misgivings. Both the society matron and the hippie chick would have been better off if they'd listened to their little voices.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  
Joe Biden's Promise Me, Dad. “I try to be mindful, at all times, of what a difference a small human gesture can make to people in need. What does it really cost to take a moment to look someone in the eye, to give him a hug, to let her know, I get it. You’re not alone?” That's the way Joe Biden lives, and it's inspiring.

I wish I liked this book more than I did. The Biden family story as they say goodbye to their eldest son is told with authenticity and I'm sure it will help others through their grief. But at times, the book reads like Biden's foreign policy CV. I understand that it was important to set the stage, to let the reader know everything else that the Vice President was dealing with as his son fought cancer. But instead of giving me context, this level of detail annoyed me. I didn't care what Joe was doing to smooth the situation in Tikrit, I wanted to know what was going on the hospital room with Beau. 

Still, I'm glad I read it, and I recommend it for a massive dose of much-needed humanity in The Age of Trump.

3.  What will you read next?  
Probably a mystery.