Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Another trip to the dumpster

Tonight I disposed of three cardboard boxes, a bathmat and a rag that had been in my den since October. I've been hanging onto the boxes because I thought I could use them for ... something. In more than three months, that something hasn't presented itself, so I guess there's no reason to keep them.

The mat? Oh, it was a "what if?" As in "what if the new bathmat I bought doesn't work out?" The new mat has been in the bathroom for more than three months. I think that's long enough to establish that it's fine. The rag? I could wash it and put it in the closet with my other rags, but why? I have plenty of rags in there already.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, gives you a window into how my home has become overstuffed.

These four!

Monday night, my movie group watched Libeled Lady. You know how the old folks say, "they don't make them like this anymore?" This 1936 screwball comedy is the kind of movie they're talking about.

Libeled Lady boasts classic MGM star power. Three-time Oscar nominee, suave and divine William Powell. His favorite leading lady, elegant Myrna Loy. Reigning sex symbol, feisty Jean Harlow. Hollywood's new favorite Everyman, Spencer Tracy.

Myrna Loy is the "lady" of the title. Tracy's newspaper prints a story, claiming that she was the other woman in a messy, high society divorce. She wasn't. She retaliates with a lawsuit that could bankrupt the paper. William Powell is brought in to entrap her in a compromising situation, so Tracy can blackmail her into dropping the suit. Harlow is Tracy's long-suffering fiancee, a girl who is beyond sick of playing second fiddle to her boyfriend's job.

The plot machinations are too ridiculous to recount. And they don't matter, anyway. The point of this movie is to let Powell, Loy, Harlow and Tracy charm us. And to be transport us to a world where newspaper men drink whiskey at their desks, and heiresses take cruises and escape to their country homes, and bell boys are tipped to forget what they just saw.

We all had a delicious time watching it.

Monday, February 18, 2019

These two!

Bryzzo has arrived at Training Camp. All is right with the world.

I hate me

I had so many things I was going to do on Sunday. I had nothing specific planned. I was just really gonna attack the clutter.

I didn't. I soaked in the tub.* I watched the Sunday news shows. I went out for Chinese. I did laundry. I napped -- for just a minute -- and then woke up six hours later!

Monday is President's Day. I am going to attack the stack of stuff on the chair in my living room. I know it doesn't sound like a very ambitious goal, but I have plans for the day -- mammogram, filing my tax return, movie group.

And maybe, if I give myself something measurable and specific to do, I can actually get it done.

*My chiropractor wants me to soak in epsom salts, hoping it will help the knot at the base of my spine.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday Stealing

1. when did you last sing to yourself? Well, I sang to my cat. Does that count? Her name is Connie. When I was putting her dish down, I sang, "Connie, how I love you, how I love you, my dear old Connie ..." She purred. No music critic she.

2. if a crystal ball could tell you the truth about anything, what would you want to know?
What will my life look like one year from today? Will I still have this job? Will I be living in this condo?

3. what is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
I have built a pretty good career, even without much formal education.

4. what is the first happy memory that comes to mind, recent or otherwise?
Meeting Connie at the animal shelter. She had been rescued from a hoarder situation. Her gums were a mushy mess. She had an eye infection. And yet, she was still so affectionate and trusting! Her spirit touched and inspired me. Here she is with my nephew, while I was filling out the paperwork to bring her home. It's been my pleasure to give her a good life.

5. if you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?
I would make sure that I didn't leave things unorganized or unsaid. I saw a lot (and hopefully learned a lot) from my mother's passing and the aftermath.

6. do you feel you had a happy childhood?

7. would you ever have a deep conversation with a stranger and open up to them?
I remember having a serious conversation about the death penalty with a woman I'd just met at a party. Her husband -- a coworker of mine -- laughed that he wasn't surprised, since neither she nor I have any talent for small talk.

8. what would you title the autobiography of your life so far?
The Thing of It Is. I say it an awful lot.

9. how do you feel about tattoos and piercings? explain.
I don't want any more piercings or any tattoos at all, but that's me. Your body is your business.

10. do you wear a lot of makeup? why/why not?
I wear less with each passing year. I think it ages me. Now I only wear tinted moisturizer, shadow and mascara. No more lipstick, blush or eyeliner for this old gal.

11.The world is listening. pick one sentence you would tell them.
Donald Trump is not representative of America.

12. who in the world would you most like to receive a letter from and what would you want it to say?
A man I was once involved with, and who I still love in my way. After we split, he had some career problems and then a special needs child and a divorce.
I'd like to hear, after all that, that he's OK. 
13. do you have a desk/workspace and how is it organised/not organised?
I'm a slob. And yet, at work, I can always find everything. (At home is another matter.)

14. what’s your starbucks order, and who would you trust to order for you, if anyone?
Hot chocolate, no whipped cream. And then, a dash of cinnamon on the way out. And no, I wouldn't trust anyone to order for me.

15. what is the most important thing to you in your life right now?
I'm obsessed with my home. Will I have to prepare it for sale? Or will I stay here forever?


But you got to have friends

 Bette Midler's "Friends," in this particular context, has been running through my mind. The Last of Sheila is one very twisted movie. A group of friends/coworkers take a weekend pleasure cruise that reveals just how contemptuous, vindictive and perhaps even murderous they can be. Bette sings over the closing credits.

I think I may have behaved badly with my own friends on Friday night. Or maybe I was right to be annoyed because they are annoying. Certainly I love them. But maybe it was the group dynamic. Maybe I'm a bitch. But I would have preferred Friday night not happened.

Mindy and Alan. John and me. We get together for Christmas/Hanukkah every year. We begin planning it in October. This year it didn't actually happen until February 15. That's three months of, "Oh? Did I say that date? We'll be in Florida." and "I have to reschedule." Etc., etc. It's frustrating. Here's how my life works: I have a calendar; I check it before I commit to something; then I write it down; if something else comes up, I say "no." I believe this is the way people have been planning their schedules since the Middle Ages. More than three months of back and forth is exhausting.

We finally had a restaurant chosen: Boston Blackie's. Convenient to the train for Mindy and Alan. Literally across the street from John's office. A bit of a trek for me, but I don't care. Good burgers. Good sandwiches. Casual atmosphere.

So hurray! We finally have a date and a place we all agree on! Except we didn't.

Day of -- just hours before -- John changes his mind about Blackie's. They don't take reservations, and it's Friday after work. "Millennials" are loud when they get together on Fridays after work. Mindy recommends Rivers, a bistro in the same neighborhood that takes reservations. Rivers is a lifestyle away from Blackie's. It caters to the pre- and apres-opera crowd. Plans were changed. Without me.

I had a doctor's appointment on Friday when the emails were flying back and forth. I didn't think I needed to check my phone because, well, planning since October. Date and place chosen. Why would it change now?

Because it's Mindy and John, that's why.

Mindy works from home. She could slip into a lovely pair of slacks, black blouse and bright pashmina before leaving for Rivers. I was already downtown. At work. Dressed for Blackie's. Old Navy fleece and jeans and heavy boots with treads. I also had cash in my wallet for Blackie's, not Rivers, where everything is ala carte.

Oh, well. Fuck it. I didn't even respond to the emails. I just showed up at Rivers.

Where John was at the bar already. Rivers was virtually empty, but they wouldn't seat us until we were all there. I hate places like this.

Then John starts freaking out about the prices on the menu. He just had lunch at 2:30! He didn't want to pay these prices for dinner!

At this point, I really hated him. First of all, he knew we were meeting for dinner tonight somewhere. Why wait until 2:30 to eat lunch? And he was the one behind the venue change because he decided he hates Millennials. You know what Millennials do really well? They check menus  before making a reservation.

Mindy and Alan showed up. None of the three of them like the menu. Everything is "too heavy," "too much." See comment above. At this point, I am trying not to scream.

John asks the waitress if he can order off the bar menu. She graciously acquiesces. I don't know what difference it made, though, since John barely touched his plate and asked her to package everything to go.

Mindy hates Facebook. Alan hates his job. John hates noise ... and Millennials. No matter who or what we talked about, John asked the age of the person at the center.

I was telling a happy story about a new coworker. She's a Senior Vice President, but because of open seating she doesn't have an office and ended up next to me. She's been wonderful to me, helping me with advice and acting like a guardian angel. My point: I thought I'd hate open seating (and I kinda do), but isn't it great that it brought Trisha into my life?

John: How old is she?

Me: I don't know. 45? I really don't know.

John: How old does she look?

Me: I don't know. I guessed 45 because she has seven year old twins and when she told me her sons were seven, she said, 'You were expecting me to say 17, weren't you?' So ...

Mindy: So she had fertility problems? Do you think she had IVF?

Me: I didn't ask.

Mindy: I wonder where she had her fertility treatments.

Me: She just moved to Chicago and ...

John: So she could be in her 50s.

Oh, for fuck's sake! Shoot me now!

While I didn't say that out loud, I know I was snappish all night because I couldn't stand them. My dear friends, I really couldn't stand them. I'd only had one drink, but though it was strong, I wish I'd had more.

When the bill came, Mindy and Alan paid it. Which was gracious, and I was grateful. But even that annoyed me because I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu because that was all the cash I had. I am trying not to dream of the jumbo crab cakes and remember that at least the pasta/chicken dish was free.

I would have been happier home alone watching TCM.

And I love these people! Sometimes I think I'm no longer fit for polite society.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Valentine (1993)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

This song was specially chosen for the Saturday 9 closest to Valentine's Day.

1) This is a love song written by Willie Nelson for his young son. Have you sent any Valentines this year to someone you love who isn't a romantic partner? Yes. I mailed a card to my friend Henry. It has macaroons on the front, and wishes him a "sweet day." The improvement in his condition over the past two months has been stellar, and worth celebrating at every opportunity.

2) Today that little boy, Lukas, is a singer/songwriter who wrote eight of the songs for the 2018 A Star Is Born soundtrack. Have you seen the Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga big screen romance? I saw it back in the fall. I thought Bradley Cooper was just great. However, good as she was, Lady Gaga just isn't Judy Garland.

3) On Valentine's Day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the first telephone. Who did you most recently speak to on the phone? A coworker with a really boring question about a project.

4) Penicillin was also introduced on Valentine's Day (in 1929). When you get a shot, do you look away when the needle touches your skin? For shots, yes. But when I donate blood, I keep an eye on the tube. It never ceases to amaze me that we can give a baggy full of blood and not even miss it.

5) According to legend, a gift of red roses signifies love and romance. When did you last purchase flowers or plants? Did you buy them for yourself, or someone else? I haven't bought flowers in more than six months. I have no room for them in our new office space, and at home, I'm afraid my cats will confuse a floral arrangement with a salad bar.

6) This week's artist, Willie Nelson, can trace his family tree
back to the Revolutionary War. Captain John Nelson served with the Minutemen back in 1776. If you could go back in time to witness any great moment in American history, which would you choose? I'd like to go back to Springfield, IL, in 1861. That's when President-elect Abraham Lincoln left Illinois for Washington DC and he gave this really touching, completely impromptu speech at the train station. He spoke so eloquently, especially impressive for a man with little education, and he was off to do great things. 

I've been here!

7) Before he became a musical success, Willie was a door-to-door salesman, peddling first Bibles, then vacuum cleaners. INC magazine tells us that the traits of successful salespeople include resilience and good listening skills. Do you think you'd make a good sales person? No.

8) In 1993, when this song came out, Saved by the Bell aired its series finale. Crazy Sam likes to tease her brother because he once admitted to her that he has seen all 86 episodes of this teen sitcom. Is there a show that you believe you've seen every episode? Friends.

Photo chosen because it illustrates Questions 8 and 9
9) Random question -- We're having milkshakes! What's your favorite flavor? Strawberry.

Call me Goldilocks

Thursday night, I attacked the stack of clothes next to my nightstand. I am parting with the Paul McCartney tour t-shirt I bought back in 2015, but have never worn because it's way too small. Someone else might come upon it and be thrilled. Better they have it than me. (My version of Marie Kondo.)

And I'm getting rid of a mess of mesh laundry bags. Some were way too small for my use. One was gigantic. But I never got rid of them because they were virtually new and usable and it seemed like a sin to add them to the landfill.

I still feel that way. But I feel that way about just about everything. And that's why my home is overstuffed and overcrowded. I'm too picky to use this shit but unwilling to toss it away.

I have to get over that.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My favorite movie kiss


A girl, a guy, her cat. A reunion in the rain. This one makes me sigh every time.  
Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961

Honorable Mentions


Their first kiss in Aunt Pitty's parlor. Gone with the Wind, 1939

George and Mary grab "the chance of a lifetime." It's a Wonderful Life, 1946

Paula leaves the factory in style. An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982


Five books and a bucket of cleaning supplies

Since I long to feel less stuck, I'm not waiting till Saturday to declutter. I've decided to do it a little every night.

So five book and a bucket of cleaning supplies are departing my bedroom. Why did I have a bucket of cleaning supplies in my bedroom? Because I put them in there when I removed them from under my bathroom sink back in October, and I just kinda got used to seeing them there. That's how I roll when left to my own devices.

So the books are in a bag for Goodwill. I used my own version of Marie Kondo's technique. Do these particular volumes make me happy? Could they make someone else happier? So that's why I'm giving up some of my later Grafton/alphabet mysteries and a coffee table book on Bobby Kennedy. I'm truly sad that Sue Grafton died and will miss Kinsey's adventures. But keeping these books don't really help me feel better and someone else might enjoy them. The RFK book is really pretty superficial, it was an impulse "50 years ago today" purchase. But to someone new to his story? The photos and text might be inspiring.

That was Wednesday. Let's see how long this resolution lasts.

The cleaning supplies? They're under the kitchen sink.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


I'm frozen in place, and it has nothing to do with the weather. My home is a mess, and yet when it comes to housework, I am immobile.

I returned home from vacation before New Year's, and my empty suitcase is still in my bedroom. I haven't even screwed up the energy to move it back to the den closet.

I have books everywhere! Papers everywhere! Clothes everywhere! I can write my name in the dust on my TVs. I do laundry, grocery shop and take out the garbage. Period.

I promise myself I will spend Saturday and Sunday getting the place in shape. Of course, I promised myself last Sunday I would do that ... and didn't. I'm smart enough to know this is a manifestation of depression. I'm not smart enough to know what to do about it.

There may be another bed bug inspection. As icky as that sounds, it might be a good thing. Since I'm on the board, I can't very well exempt my own unit. I have to set an example. Therefore I would have a date certain to have my place clean. It worked last time.

With me luck!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Stealing

#10: I'd like to be greeted by books in every room.

1. Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? It's a three-way tie: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games.

2. If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be? I like the idea of just hanging out over a beer or two with Spenser, Kinsey Milhone and Archie Goodwin. I can see Archie and Kinsey pairing off, leaving Spenser and me to compare/contrast baseball's two great cathedrals: Wrigley Field and Fenway.

3. You are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realize it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave? Moby fucking Dick

4. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it? The Handmaid's Tale

5. As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realize when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book? I can't think of any.

6. You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? The Princess Bride. Because it is funny, unique yet familiar, and really is about something if you choose to give it additional thought.

7. A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with? Spanish.

8. A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick? Gone with the Wind. I used to read it every summer. The last time I picked it up, I found the insensitive racial attitudes painful and intolerable. I like to believe that I'll be able to get past that next time. I'd hate to think that I will no longer spend time with Scarlett, Melanie, Rhett and Will (who isn't in the movie). Ashley is far more attractive in the book than he is the movie.

9. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)? Kwizgiver introduced me to the Spellman mysteries. They're a delight! Thanks, Kwiz! (If I could have a fourth, I'd invite Rae Spellman to join us in #2.)

10. That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library!

Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free. I'd like built-in bookshelves in every room of my house, so I could have a biography room and a mystery room and fiction room and a coffee table book room. And I'd like to rescue used books. There's such romance to holding a book in your hands and wondering who held it before.


Saturday's equation

Heavy meal + heavy conversation = long nap. Caught up with Nancy today at a burger joint. Had two delicious sliders, a side of mac and cheese, washed down with a margarita. Quite possibly the least nutritious meal ever, but it was all good.

Nancy's life is complicated right now. She is beginning work on a website and starting to network to launch her own business. Her children are in a state of flux for different reasons -- her daughter is having trouble adjusting to college life, her son is struggling with sobriety. And the issues with her kids have put her int he path of her ex-husband an awful lot lately, and that's not a good thing.

I enjoyed talking to her. She is smart, informed about the world and has a good heart. But different people play different roles in your life. And Nancy is never gonna just be light and laughter. That's not who she is.

So when I got home, I took a nice long nap.

I missed my movie group again tonight. I just couldn't make the suburb-to-city logistics work. But I had one of those "path not taken" moments. As I was closing my eyes, I wondered how different my Saturday would have been if I'd sat in the dark with other movie lovers, watching a Ginger Rogers comedy from 1943.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Waiting for a Star to Fall (1988)

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

1) "Waiting for a Star to Fall" was literally inspired by a falling star. The singing/songwriting duo of Boy Meets Girl was at a big, outdoor concert and could have sworn they saw a falling star in the night sky. Have you ever seen a falling star? No.

2) They offered this song to Whitney Houston, who declined to record it. Whitney did have hits with two other songs they wrote: "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and "How Will I Know?" What's your favorite Whitney song? Remember how overwhelming it can be when love meets lust? This song captured that for me. (Plus, I really liked her little jacket.)

3) Boy Meets Girl were George and Shannon, a husband-and-wife team originally from Seattle, WA. In 2016, Seattle was named America's most "bike-friendly city." Do you own a bike? Not anymore.

4) George and Shannon met for the first time at a wedding. She was a guest, he was in the band. Think of the last wedding present you bought. Was it from the bride and groom's registry? I can't recall exactly what it was -- it was so long ago that the bride and groom now have two children -- but it was from the registry.

5) In 1988, when this song was popular, 98% of American homes had a TV set. Today, that figure has dipped to 96%, presumably because Millennials are watching more content online. What's the last video you watched online? "So Emotional," Whitney.

6) In 1988 saw the introduction of one of the most memorable slogans of all time: "Just Do It." Without looking it up, do you know what brand "Just Do It" promotes? Nike.

7) In 1988, Sonny Bono went from entertainer to Republican politician when he was elected Mayor of Palm Springs. Have you ever met the mayor of your town? Yes, but he wasn't yet mayor. Just a candidate. I told him I wasn't crazy about how the incumbent had privatized animal control, virtually handing it over to a local animal shelter. The shelter is good, but since it's a volunteer organization I worry that the quality of care depended on the volunteers and I wished there was more oversight. He responded -- rather refreshingly, I thought -- that he really didn't know much about this but would look into it.

8) Michael Douglas took home the Oscar in 1988 for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. The American Film Institute named Gekko one of the "top movie villains of all time." Do you think bad guys are as interesting as good guys? I think the best movies have the most balanced conflict, with an evenly matched hero and antagonist.

9) Random question: Have you ever seen a photo of yourself naked? (Baby pictures don't count.) I recently saw an xray of my spine. Does that count?


Thursday, February 07, 2019

She lost her fella

My friend Kathleen's dad last week. It was not sudden. He was over 90 and had been in declining health -- both mentally and physically -- for years now.

As her husband began to fade, Mom promised him that she would keep him at home. Despite hardship -- she's nearly 90 herself and not very strong -- she made good on that. A day nurse was hired, and every evening one of their adult children would come to spend time with Dad and put him to bed. If the nurse noted a change in his condition that indicated the end might be near, his son or daughter would stay the night, so that Mom wouldn't be alone when she found her husband had passed. There had been several close calls over the last month and finally, on the coldest day Chicago had seen in decades, he died in the wee small hours.

I feel bad for Kathleen, of course. Losing a parent is rite of passage -- a big one. But I'm glad that she had those evenings with her dad. She noticed that, around Thanksgiving, he stopped using her name and she suspected he no longer knew which daughter she was. It didn't hurt her feelings. Instead, she took it as a sign the end was even nearer. She was content to sit with him, singing showtunes for a while, and then putting him to bed.

She was disturbed, though, by the explicit nature of some of their conversations. He was never inappropriate about her. Dad seemed to still realize that he shouldn't view his daughter -- whichever daughter she was -- sexually. But he did enjoy comparing and contrasting the bustlines of his various nurses, expressed a curiosity about their genitalia, and even leered at Julie Andrews as they sang along to My Fair Lady.

Kathleen is no prude, understood it was age and medication talking and not her dear old dad. But when dad started talking dirty, she felt bad for her mother, who could overhear.

When Mom looked at Dad, she didn't see dementia or impending death. She saw her husbandEvery evening, when her adult son or daughter arrived, Mom excused herself for about a half hour. She then fixed her hair and make up so she'd look nice for "dinner with Dad."

It breaks my heart that -- after more than 65 years and seven children and 13 grandchildren -- she has lost her boyfriend.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

The State of the Union, 2019

So President Donald Trump finally got to give his post-shutdown SOTU address. It included his declaration that the socialism is bad for a democracy, yet we should treat him like a dictator and not look at his finances or behavior. Same outrages, new speech. It's been two years and so his politics of bullying and grievance are not new.

What was interesting and exciting was seeing all those Women in White in the audience. There are now 102 women serving in the House of Representatives, and 89 are Democrats. They are led by Nancy Pelosi, the first and only female Speaker of the House. Last night they wore white in tribute to suffragettes.

Old women ... young women ... women of color ... women of faith ... all in white. So many of them ran for office in response of the behavior and attitude of Donald J. Trump. And now they can hold him accountable. It's glorious.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Sunday Stealing


16.) What is your favorite wild animal? Okapi. They look like an other worldly mix of giraffe and zebra, though I believe they are cousins of the giraffe and have no zebra in their bloodline. They are shy and modest -- very rarely are mothers seen nursing their calves -- and herbivores. I'm crazy about them. They "talk" to each other, making a happy chuff noise to one another in greeting. (They don't communicate with us, just each other.)

I learned about them at Brookfield Zoo here in Chicagoland. Brookfield Zoo has had great luck in mating okapis and perpetuating this endangered species. Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo has a great okapi exhibit, too. I've read that they are also at Disney's Animal Kingdom. If you get a chance to observe an okapi, you won't forget him. 

17.) Name 3 of your favorite childhood shows:
Batman, Bewitched and The Monkees

18.) If you could live as a character in a movie who would it be?
Jo from Little Women. Any of the three versions -- and I hear a fourth is one the way. I would love to share an umbrella with Professor Bhaer.

19.) Favorite vegetable?

20.) Favorite Fruit?

21.) If you had a dragon what would you name it?
Puff. And I'd be much nicer to my dragon than that little bastard, Jackie Paper, was to his rascal Puff.

22.) What do you put on hotdogs?
Ketchup and atomic green relish.

23.) Do you play online games?
Yes. Farmville 2.

24.) What's your favorite way to get inspired?
A shower.

25.) Do you have a middle name?

26.) If you had to order from a kid's menu, what would you get?
I wanted to on Saturday! A local restaurant has a mac/cheese/barbecue sauce dish on the kid's menu I would have liked to try.

27.) Do you speak any other languages?

28.) Do you use Twitter?
On occasion.

29.) Do you go onto YouTube?
I watch, but don't post.

30.) Do you play Angry Birds?
I played with my nephew about a decade ago.

My "Favourite"

Oh, this movie! It's twisted and wicked and so very, very funny. The Favourite takes place during the 18th century in Queen Anne's court. The politics and hijinks are highly accessible, even if (like me) you aren't familiar with Queen Anne's reign.

Even with my only superficial knowledge of Queen Anne, I know some things in the movie weren't accurate.* But it doesn't bother me here as much as it did in Vice. After all, no one in modern-day England's take on today's affairs will be influenced by this movie. (Though I might feel differently if I was Brit.)

This movie is concentrating on gender, and tackles that age-old question: would the world be different if women were in charge? The answer is no. This woman-driven court is as filled with petulance, whims, sex, influence peddling and secrets as today's Washington.

It's also very, very vulgar. Be warned. A certain word that makes me cringe is used often and conversationally.

But this doesn't mean I didn't also laugh.

By the way, I was surprised by how many boys and young men were in the audience. Yes, I'm sure some were dragged against their will by their girls. But I think Emma Stone has slipped into that Julia Roberts/Sandra Bullock position as America's Sweetheart. (Even if she is playing a very bad British girl.)

*No one kept rabbits as pets back then. Anne's precious babies would not have enjoyed catered parties, but would have been lunch themselves.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

2018 Giving

All my receipts are ready for my tax preparer! In 2018, I gave to 31 charities in all. Here are my personal top ten, the ones that received more than half of my cash contributions. It's like a snapshot of what mattered to me over the last year.

My church

Tree House Animal Foundation -- a cageless, no-kill cat adoption center

Harmony House for Cats -- One of Chicago's smaller shelters, and it's struggling

Feeding America -- A national organization devoted to helping those in need

My community food pantry

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation -- Because I love Abe, and their current financial crisis is shameful. When you tour the Lincoln Museum and you see all the school children, you realize how important this organization is today, especially in Trump's America.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation -- Just because I can't afford to go back doesn't mean others shouldn't enjoy/learn


Greater Chicago Food Depository -- The bulk of this was a contribution made in memory of the mom of our movie group moderator. Will is very active in this organization and so Joanna and I thought this would be a way to show our sympathy and support. Well, Joanna forgot to pay me her half. Then she hit financial hard times, and I decided against reminding her. We made this donation with good intentions, it's a worthy cause ... and I'm taking the deduction.

Hinsdale Humane Society -- This is the shelter where my mom got her beloved cat, Ethel. I gave on her birthday, Christmas and Mother's Day in her memory.

Cats, the hungry, and American History. Yes, that's a good reflection of where my heart is. And, of course, my church. Because I do try to live a life Christ would approve of.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Backfield in Motion (1969)

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

1) This week's Saturday 9 has a football theme because there's a big game Sunday. Will you be watching? Nope. Football has made me distinctly uncomfortable since I learned how many NFL players suffer/suffered from CTE (chronic brain damage from repeated blows to the head). I don't care how much they get paid, I still worry about the safety of those boys when they take the field.

2) The Super Bowl is the second-largest day for food consumption in the US, second only to Thanksgiving. What's on your menu this weekend? I have no meal plans, but pizza sounds good.

3) Super Bowl Sunday is the #1 day for consuming guacamole. When did you most recently eat something with avocado in it? I can't recall. Not a big fan. I don't care for the taste. Nor the color, come to think of it.

4) The Pro Football Hall of Fame is in Canton, OH. Have you ever visited Canton, or any other city in Ohio? Pearle Vision was a client for a short time and they are headquartered in OH, so I visited for a meeting. I remember that I had a great lox platter at a deli there.

5) This song mentions different moves that football players -- and, it seems, girlfriends -- can make that will result in penalties. What's the last rule you broke? What were the consequences? I used the "handicapped only" gate as I exited the el platform. There weren't any handicapped commuters around, and I didn't feel like squeezing my fat ass, bulky down coat and briefcase through the regular turnstyle. No one yelled at me, so count on me to do it again. (I'm such a rebel.)

6) In 1969, the year this song was popular, the Colts lost to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. The game is famous because of all the hype leading up to it, including Joe Namath "guaranteeing" his underdog Jets would win. Tell us about a time when you felt like an underdog. Nothing comes to mind. Maybe because I'm so distracted by the thought of Joe Namath doing Medicare supplement commercials. Oh well, at least he looks happy. As opposed to those Tom Selleck commercials. If reverse mortgages make old Tom so sad, I wish he'd stop thinking about them.

7) This week's featured duo, Mel and Tim, are cousins from
Mississippi. Tell us about one of your cousins. My cousin Ryan is a professional musician. He plays in the pit for major touring companies when they hit Chicago (most recently, How the Grinch Stole Christmas). He also teaches, subbing at the local high schools and the community college. He'd rather not teach anymore, but bills still need to get paid. He's very smart, very passionate. Likes his wife, as well as loves her, which I think is very romantic.

8) The song is about a man who catches his girl cheating and he just won't put up with it. In romance, do you find it easy to forgive and forget? Forgive? Yes. Forget? Nuh-uh.

9) Random question: You've collected a box of gently-used items to donate to a second hand store. What would it be most likely to contain: clothes, housewares, or books/video/music? I just so happen to be working on a bag for Goodwill. It currently contains 6 pair of sunglasses, 13 pair of earrings, and 3 sweaters.

My local Goodwill. I hope my sweaters have a short but profitable stay.

Until he got tired

I am happy. Henry and I talked on the phone for two hours tonight! Marathon calls have not been rare since his accident, but tonight was different. He wasn't angry about the police, or his treatment while in the hospital, or the way Reg treats him. In fact, he wasn't angry about anything!

He met author Judy Blume at an event for the library where he works. Or more precisely, she asked to meet him. Now a Key West resident, she'd heard about the local author who was injured in the bike collision and spent some one-on-one time with him. That raised his spirits. For yes, he's a library assistant but he's also a published author and poet, and that's where his heart is.

Somehow we found ourselves on the subject of faces, and he said that actress Kate Hudson has an expressive face that's "more than beautiful." Likewise, Sophia Loren. And me. (People mention Sophia and me together all the time!) He rhapsodized about Reg's heavily-lidded eyes. While it's obvious that his love enhances how he views Reg and me, it was good to hear him sounding like my affectionate old friend again. Friday, he was happy and sweet and positive.

I'm so glad my friend is on his way back to me!

Friday, February 01, 2019

69 days from today

California, here I come!

The worst is behind us

We're emerging from a rather amazing coldsnap. Wednesday the mercury fell to -23º F at O'Hare, making January 30 the second coldest day in Chicago history.

This is the spot where the Chicago River joins Lake Michigan. They were both frozen as of 8:15 Wednesday. And that bridge? How can it possibly be so empty during a weekday rush hour?

From WGNTV.com
My office was closed Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday we had a little excitement here. Our elevator got stuck between the third and fourth floors, with my neighbor riding it! The hydraulic fluid froze and so the car was unable to move. The local fire department rescued her, and once the temperature rose above 0º, it was operational again.

We were advised to keep our faucets running at a trickle to stave off frozen pipes. Reynaldo enjoyed going from sink to sink to tub, investigating the drops.

Note his happy wet head

I ventured out to see my chiropractor on Thursday. It's incredible how warm 6º can feel! And it was good to be out in the sun again.

In all, we had one and a half really bad days. That's why I'm ignoring my Florida-transplant aunt, who has been rejoicing in her decision to leave Chicagoland.

I could have responded with what I always say to Henry and Reg, and that is that when the snow and cold goes away, our homes are still here. I could reply to my aunt that I've never had to evacuate, leaving my home and taking refuge in a motel for a week, the way she did because of Hurricane Irma. I could also mention the wildfires and mudslides my oldest friend in SoCal has dealt with. But I didn't.

Instead, I was just grateful that all "Chiberia" gives me to endure is a day and a half of cocooning. I'm grateful that I have a job that allows me to "work from home" with pay. I think we Chicagoans have a pretty good deal, weatherwise.