Thursday, December 30, 2021

Just naturally blabby, I guess

 Butch Cassidy: How come you're so talkative?

Sundance: Just naturally blabby, I guess.

My oldest friend and I dearly love that movie. Maybe it's because it stars the two coolest guys ever. Or maybe it's because we're both just naturally blabby. Since last Thursday, we've clocked well over 3 hours on the phone.

She's been sick for weeks. She began running a fever just before her birthday (12/11) and couldn't shake it until the day after Christmas. She's tested negative twice for covid, so that's good news. Bloodwork has also eliminated leukemia, which is very good news.  While we know what she doesn't have, we don't know what she does have. After the new year, she needs to see a rheumatologist. Her GP suspects she has some autoimmune disorder. Considering her symptoms -- fever, chills, fatigue, hair loss, weight gain -- I suspect Hashimoto's disease. I'm keeping my Google search diagnosis to myself, since it's possible/likely I don't know what I'm talking about. She has two other serious chronic conditions -- diabetes and heart disease -- so whatever it is, it should be treated promptly. However, it's not covid or leukemia, and so we have reason to think positive.

While depression has been decades long struggle for her, she seems to be in a good place now and I enjoy her so much. No one makes me laugh harder than she does. Also, since we've known each other since Kindergarten, we have each other's history. The older I get, the more I appreciate that.

So this morning, I'm happy/sad. Happy because I feel that over this holiday season, we really re-connected. Sad because she's not well. I hope that, as she take off on her journey to wellness, she'll continue to feel blabby.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021


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? And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I don't usually read mysteries back to back, but while reading The Sugar Cookie Murder (below), I was reminded of this wonderful old Christie chestnut. What if you were trapped inside with a group and knew one of them was a murderer ... but didn't know which one? In the right hands, that's scary stuff.

It's no reflection on Joanne Fluke that Dame Agatha does it better. She used this device in Murder on the Orient Express (train) and then in And Then There Were None (a deserted island). 

I've seen both movie versions of this story many times so I know the outline well. Yet I'm very, very into it. There's a luxury mansion on a secluded island. Everyone in the UK is talking about it. Who is renting it this month? A movie star? Put in today's terms, pretend it's a house a Kardashian used to live in. 

Anyway the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. Owen have rented it and hired a couple to maintain it, as well as a secretary for Mrs. Owen. They did all this through correspondence. Neither the butler/maid nor the secretary have met their new employers. Invitations went out to seven strangers who can't figure out why the Owens have chosen them for a visit, but they're too drawn by the mystery, glamour and luxury to say no to the free vacation.

Ten people arrive at the island mansion, but Mr. and Mrs. Owen are not there. There's only one way off the island, by boat, and the boat won't be there again for days. (Since this is 1939, it's not like anyone can use their cellphones.) And now, one by one, the ten begin to die.

Hooked yet? I am.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. This seasonal murder mystery is long on Christmas spirit and short on murder. Know that going in.

Hannah lives in a small town in Minnesota. All the citizens are inside the school for a holiday testing and tasting party. The best recipes will make The Lake Eden Holiday Buffet Cookbook. Snowfall turns into a blizzard and it looks like everyone will be snowed in with music, good friends, great food and ... a murderer! For Hannah finds a corpse in the parking lot, and the killer could not have made it through the drifts surrounding the school.

I enjoyed the interaction among the characters. This is my first foray into the world of Lake Eden and got a kick out of everyone. The mystery itself? Eh. I was more interested in the romance between Hannah and Officer Mike. I wish there'd been more plot ... and more kissing!
3. What will you read next? I don't know for sure, but I'm ready for non-fiction.


Christmas Eve/Christmas Day 2021

The happiest I saw Henry was at church on Christmas Eve. He seems to feel he belongs with his congregation. He's lonely and rudderless since quitting his job, but among his fellow church members, he seems more comfortable and even a little happy. "Happy" is in short supply in Henry's and Reg's lives.

I loved it, too. Rev. Steve is very warm and a good speaker. His Christmas message was so positive. He likened each of us to the star that led the wise men. When we act out of love, we become like the celestial phenomenon that lights the path for others. When we find ways to love and grow, we lead the way. I love that sentiment. We can show we're grateful to God by being good to others and lighting their path with kindness.

After the service Henry and I had a fancy, if disturbing, dinner. He ordered the octopus appetizer, telling me over and over how excited he was to see it on the menu. His mother made octopus all the time and he always enjoyed it. I ordered the coconut shrimp entree with a side of rice. When our plates came to the table, Henry took mine. Now I've never had octopus before, but I know what rice looks like, so I know he took my plate. I didn't want to embarrass him, so I let it go. He ate my coconut shrimp and declared it just like the octopus his mother used to make. As I ate his octopus (which tasted like mussels), I found myself getting progressively freaked out. Our dinner conversation wasn't any more festive. He was dismissive of my fears about crime in Chicago. He insisted it really isn't that bad, that Miami is worse. It was freaky. He moved from Chicago decades ago and hasn't even visited in 17 years. He's never lived in Miami. What the fuck? I was happy when Reg joined us for coffee and finished Henry's plate. He never had octopus before and was surprised it was cooked with coconut (!).

Why must Henry argue about everything? Why does he think he understands what it's life to live in post-pandemic Chicago, or Miami? And why can't he taste the difference between octopus grilled with lemon and coconut shrimp? 

Because he's living with a traumatic brain injury. 

Talking to him is unpleasant and exhausting. I love him, of course. I was happy to try to be there for him, and to give him companionship and to give Reg a break. But I understand why he's lonely. Just conversing with is work. No wonder people no longer seek him out. I wish he was happier. I wish his brain worked. 

Christmas was only marginally better. Both Henry and Reg were emotional, missing their families (Henry's in Puerto Rico hadn't called for either his birthday or Christmas; or if they did, he missed the call and didn't check his voicemail). I realize Christmas can be a melancholy time, so I tried to cut them slack and I dialed up my own merry.

We had a light lunch at a beautiful setting on the Gulf of Mexico. 

Isn't this gorgeous?

Henry and Reg decided against gifts and that was fine. It was enough that we were together. Patrick and I exchanged, though. I had a mug made for him -- pictures of him all over Key West that will remind him of his "island home" when he returns to Maine. He gave me a book about movie making, told in anecdotes from the experts. The only really weird part was that Henry kept insisting that while he was enjoying his lobster quesadilla, it was nowhere near as good as the octopus he'd had the night before (I'm not kidding).

I had a turkey club sandwich. Hey! It's Christmas and I demand turkey! Because it was my last big meal in Key West, I went old school. I had a Key Lime Colada with my lunch and Key Lime Pie for dessert. (I like green.)

Our car was parked near the Custom House, a beautiful building that's home to the Key West Art and Historical Society. Out front is a bronze sculpture Pondering the Benefits of Exercise by Seward Johnson. I got such a kick out of it. I always like his work.

It was a good Christmas. Not a perfect Christmas, but it doesn't have to be perfect to be a good Christmas. Me and Patrick, Reg and Henry. We all love each other. That's what's important. I just hope 2022 is happier for those guys.

Duval: Where delightful meets despicable

Duval is the main drag. Key West's top tourist trap. I've always loved it. Henry, Reg and Patrick avoid it whenever possible, but not this girl. I'm only in town for a few days and I'm not going to pretend to be a local. I'm a Chicago girl on vacation so bring on the jewelry kiosks and the cafes and souvenir shops!

This year was different though. Disturbing. I've been going to Key West and doing The Duval Crawl for, literally, decades. The t-shirts have always been, in my mother's word, "smutty." Save a horse, ride a beard. Mustache rides: 25¢. They call me drywall because I'm well hung. You get the idea.

This year they are far filthier. Donald Trump flipping the bird with: Impeach this. Joe Biden with: Not My President. "I don't need sex. The government fucks me every day." Yes, this ugliness is for sale next to the muumuus and the sea shell earrings.

I walked this street when George W. Bush was President. When Obama was President. When Trump was President. Sex sold better than politics in those days, I guess. Or maybe the loyal opposition wasn't this hateful.

I also saw our fellow citizens not wearing masks but proudly wearing all manner of "Let's Go Brandon." Worst of all, I actually saw a man with a shirt emblazoned with an automatic weapon and the question: "Does my patriotism offend you?" No, but I'm offended that you equate a gun with burst mode with love of country. 

Hillary Clinton may have been inartful when she referred to these people as "deplorable," but she wasn't wrong.

Oh well, it made my shopping easier. I refuse to spend my money in a store that sells this filth. I'll take sex over hate any day. Isn't capitalism great?

On the plus side -- and nothing is ever all bad -- I found this place. Dancing Fingers Massage was delightful. New to me and a godsend! Clean, affordable and quiet. The 15-minute foot massage was only $20. I felt positively rejuvenated. I'm only sorry I didn't discover them earlier in the week. The flight down was 3 1/2 hours spent folded virtually in half. I think I could have benefited from Dancing Fingers on my back, too!

My oasis!

Here's a happy new year sign. At midnight on New Year's Eve, a drag queen named Sushi will descend from this 8 foot stiletto to ring in 2022. Now this is the Key West I know and love!

 And where else but Duval can you see a cigar that looks like Elvis?

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Mrs. Always-Right takes the waters

My 2021 nail color is Essie Mrs. Always-Right. One of the beauty sites calls it a "fierce terracotta rose pink cream nail polish." I like it because it doesn't chip and looks good with both my blue and black sandals.

This year Mrs. Always-Right didn't venture very far into the Atlantic Ocean. The first three days I was there (Wednesday through Friday), the temperature didn't make it past 75º. I love that sunny, warm-but-not-hot weather but it didn't inspire to me go running into the sea.

No one else seemed so inspired, either. Here's the scene by the Southernmost Beach Resort. You'll see chairs as close to the water as possible, but not a single soul wading in. 

But I'm my own girl. I rolled up my jeans and let my toes experience the salt water and sand. I also think this is where I got a bug bite. For some reason, I'm always the one who gets bit. I get raised bumps and this one ended up developing into a bloody rash. (Don't worry, I didn't memorialize it with a photo.) Not painful, really. Just itchy and I was glad it was covered by one of the straps of my sandals.

On Christmas Day, we had something of a Christmas miracle and the mercury rose close to 80º. It gave me a chance to put on my suit and take Mrs. Always-Right to the hotel pool.


This was the view when I was doing the backstroke

I like snow. In the winter, it feels right and natural. But I want to remember doing the backstroke on Christmas morning and seeing the sun bearing down on me through leaves and fronds. For people in Key West, this is right and natural, too. And it's all beautiful.

Henry's birthday

December 22 was Henry's 59th birthday. I'm glad I arrived in Key West in time to celebrate with him. He's been quite lonely since he left his job at the library last spring. I hope my presence made him feel a little less alone.

Henry and their friend Patrick met my flight. (Very smooth, non-stop!) Henry's husband Reg was waiting in the car. He dropped us off at my hotel and then went back to work, promising to pick us up in time for dinner at Henry's favorite restaurant.

We had a nice lunch. Henry seemed to be in good spirits, even though he was unhappy about turning 60. Understandable, I suppose, except that he's not 60. I know because I'm 64 and he's 5 years younger. I asked him for his drivers license and showed him he was born in 1962. He says it "doesn't matter" because he "feels 60." Oh, Henry. This is just a taste of what our visit would be like.

But still, Henry was happy with his present. I got him a mug, personalized with a photo of him, Reg and his dear friend Sherry. I explained it was to remind him of how much love he has in his life. I also gave him a $25 gift card to Banana Republic. There's a factory outlet store on Duval. I knew Henry wouldn't have purchased a Christmas present for Reg and I thought picking something up at the pre-Christmas sale would cheer him up. Henry chose a gold polo, explaining that Reg only wears black and Henry was sure he'd look handsome in the brighter color. I thought that was so romantic, after all these years and all they have been through, that he likes how his husband looks in lighter and brighter shades.

Dinner was fine. I thought Henry was drinking too much -- he had two pinot grigios with lunch and another two at dinner! -- but he seemed happy, if a little subdued. Henry was sitting at one side of the table between Reg and Sherry. I was happy to be sitting with Patrick. He's a smart man who makes me laugh.

After dinner I went back to my room and decorated for Christmas. My Santa door hanger, plus a tiny nativity, a kitty ornament (because I missed Connie and Roy Hobbs) and a photo of me and my favorite grandpa. My aunt gave me the framed picture last month for my birthday and looking at it makes me happy.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Saturday 9


1. As you can see, when Sam Winters was a little girl, she loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. If you could ask Santa for anything at all, right now, what would it be? A coupon for free handyman service, and then the time to get the work scheduled and done. There are so many things I'd like to have done around here!

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there? 

The day Roy Hobbs and I met
I put myself on the Nice list because I adopted Roy Hobbs and I'm committed to giving him a good life. He suffered abuse at his previous home, but as long as I'm alive, he's safe.

3. Are you traveling this Christmas? If so, are you going by car, plane or train? I'm flying 1550 miles to Key West. I'm very excited that I got nonstop flights to and fro! I hate flying, and not having to change planes is a blessing.

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year? Yes. I ordered two sweaters from ThredUp. I like buying from there because it's good value and good for the environment.

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie or TV special? Have you seen it yet this year? It's Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. I found it on Peacock and watched it over and over as I wrote my holiday cards. (I do dearly love having a gazillion channels.)

6. Which do you prefer: candy canes or gingerbread? Gingerbread.

7. Close your eyes and tell us the first carol that comes to mind. "Silent Night." I miss Christmas Eve service at my own church, where we close with "Silent Night" by candlelight.

8. What's your favorite winter beverage? Bigelow Salted Caramel Tea. My aunt sends it to me every year for my November birthday and it carries me through the cold weather months.

9. What do you remember most about the 2020 holiday season? I was recovering from covid last year and celebrated with my nephew, my niece, and her husband over Zoom. Thank God for the vaccine and the booster! Hopefully with Pfizer, masks and hand sanitizer, that nightmare is behind me for good.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


 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? Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. This seasonal mystery is the sixth book in a series that's new to me. So far, I'm not lost.
Hannah lives in a small town in Minnesota. The task that's consuming her at the beginning of the story -- and the vehicle for introducing us to the characters -- is collecting and preparing recipes that will be tested, tasted and included in the town's Christmas cookbook. If you think a little too much attention is paid to serving utensils, you'll soon see why. A jeweled knife is used to kill one of the town's newer and more mysterious residents. 
In addition to the murder, there's romantic intrigue, an expectant mother and snow. Formulaic? Yes. But we wouldn't have it any other way in cozy Christmas mystery, would we?

2. What did you recently finish reading?
The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer. Rachel Rubinstein-Goldblatt writes Christmas romance novels under a pseudonym, and without the knowledge of her rabbinical family. Her publisher is looking for diversity and wants Rachel's next book to be a Hanukkah romance. This puts her square in the path of her adolescent crush/summer camp nemesis, Jacob Greenberg, now a prominent event planner, throwing New York's premier Hanukkah event. 

Will they find love? OF COURSE THEY WILL! It's a holiday romance! I demand that they find love!
I really liked Rachel. She was a unique heroine, smart but flawed, highly relatable. Her world is filled with similarly imperfect people who love her. So I really wanted to like this book. Alas, the last third pissed me off. 
It took sooooooo long to wind up, to deliver that happy ending we have long seen coming. Jacob keeps reminding us that this is the same Rachel he fell in love with at Camp Ahuvah. Those eyes! That hair! OK, that's just weird. They spent three weeks together when they were 12. They didn't even speak for 18 years. Now at 30, he's in love with that little girl again? Plays a prank on her as though they were still in junior high? Proposes to her right away? Creepy. His backstory tells us that the summer at Camp Ahuvah was the last happy one of his childhood. OK, but still. He's a 30-year-old, gorgeous (and dimpled) multi-millionaire. His stunted approach to women is oooky. Run, Rachel, run!
Some of the humor is golden, but other bits fall flat. I didn't enjoy Rachel, who suffers from a chronic illness, bouncing around in a matzah ball suit and climbing through windows while wearing a ball gown and fuzzy slippers. If this stuff happened to Lucy Ricardo it might be funny. Making Rachel the butt of this physical humor felt cruel.
Here's the thing, though: If I didn't like Rachel so much, if she hadn't been so neatly and completely drawn, I wouldn't have been so annoyed. So obviously it's a well-written book. If you can overlook what I couldn't (and perhaps I overthink), you may enjoy this romance.
3. What will you read next? I don't know. Am I ready to move on from Christmas? We'll see.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Guess who's done working for the year

That would be ME! Yay! My final presentation of the year -- 90 minutes (!) on Friday -- went well, despite the mandatory technical glitches. At one point, when I apologized for the echo on my audio, my main client said, "Gal, you are doing splendidly well." What a kind man. My new boss, Marilyn, was in cyber attendance and seemed pleased enough. Still don't know what to make of her. On the one hand, she promised to, in her words, "stay out of my shit" and then she turned around and interfered. I'm trying not to overthink this. We've known each other less than a month. Maybe we'll be OK. And if not, well, I'm on VACATION, so no point worrying, right?

Especially when I have these other things to worry about.

1) You wouldn't believe where I grew a pimple. It's probably nothing, but it hurts. If it's still painful after January 1, I'll have to call my doctor, even though it's gonna be embarrassing.

2) Covid concerns. Dammit, I've been vaccinated and boosted! So why on earth should I still be worried? Because approximately 40% of the country is selfish, chickenshit or misinformed and insists on putting the rest of us at risk. Gee, thanks. I picked up a home test and will take it as soon as I get back from my trip. (I'm glad I ordered ahead; by the time I got to Walgreens to pick it up, the shelves were empty!) I had the virus and I don't want to inflict it on someone else. I'll happily quarantine, even if I'm asymptomatic.

3) Henry and Reg. They're not getting along. Reg is tired, working two jobs and bearing the sole responsibility for making every substantial decision for them as a couple. Henry is unmoored and lonely. Since retirement, his life doesn't have the structure he needs. Hopefully this Christmas, Reg's friend Patrick and I will provide much needed social lubricant to the gears. (If you saw Get Back, you'll know what I mean when I liken Patrick and me to Ringo and Billy Preston.)

On the other hand, here's what I have to be happy about.

1) Connie and Roy Hobbs are getting along well. They will be completely alone together for three days and so this is a comfort. It's funny to watch them. Roy Hobbs is literally twice her size, and yet she is so very much the alpha. She decides when they play and what they play, and it cracks me up to see my little girl chase that big boy into the closet and playfully decide when she'll "allow" him to come back out.

2) My nephew's news still has me smiling. I'm so glad I just so happened to get him a baseball-related Christmas gift! I'm going to see him, my niece and her hubs to celebrate Christmas tomorrow night. I love them so much and am really grateful I'm still relevant in their lives.

3) Wrapping! It always reminds me of my mom because this was the chore she handed off to me when I was in junior high. I'm going to put on my movie group's Christmas movie of the week (The Bishop's Wife) and get to it.

4) It's 9:30 and I'm still in my pajamas!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

This is finally the year!

If memes and posts are any indication, 2021 is the year when the worldwide web finally got onboard and agrees with me that Die Hard is, indeed, a Christmas movie!



Gingerbread house

Advent calendar

Ho, ho, ho and yippee-kye-yay! Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Sunday Stealing

Fauxlore, Part 2 

16. Do you want any piercings? I have one in each ear, and that's enough for me.

17. What’s your mousepad look like? I don't use a mousepad.

18. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader? Yes. It can be fun. I don't believe in it, but I understand and respect people who do.

19. How do you identify spiritually (do you follow a religion, what do you think about soul/spirit, etc.)? I am a Christian. I believe we each have a responsibility to our neighbors, to our country and to our planet. I try to live my life that way. I am 100% sure there's a place for me in Heaven.

20. Do you prefer your nails long or short? Naturally, after contemplating my immortal soul, my mind wanders to my nails. I prefer them short.

21. What are your favorite smells? Cinnamon, lavender

22. Do you still use a radio or just use your phone/computer for music? I love my shower radio sooooo much! It's a great way to start my morning.

23. What kind of socks do you prefer to wear? Plain white anklets.

24. Do you have any family heirlooms? Nothing that is of value to anyone but me.

25. Are there any musicians you didn't like at first but grew on you? Sinatra. I used to think of him as an irrelevant throwback, like a rotary dial phone. But once you truly fall in love (and get your heart broken), you realize what a terrific singing actor he was. As he sang, you believe he knew what you felt because he felt it, too. Also, the more I hear other singers of his time (from Dick Haymes to Dean Martin to Tony Bennett), I can hear how much better he was than his peers. He had soul.

26. Is there anything you used to love but now dislike? Since covid, my sense of smell is changed. I can no longer abide citrus. (Anyone who dismisses covid as "just the flu" is an ass; get vaccinated and boosted! Not just for your own sake, but to protect everyone you come in contact with.)

27. Your favorite place to be aside from your home? Right now, anywhere my oldest friend is. I miss her very much these days and worry about her. I wish we weren't a continent apart!

28. What is your favorite kind of tea? This year I've been drinking tons of Bigelow salted caramel tea.

29. Any old home remedies you use when you're sick? My mom was a big believer in room temperature 7UP for just about everything. 

30. What level of brightness do you usually keep your phone at? As bright as possible.

Look who's a proud auntie!

Last month my nephew sent me a cryptic text, teasing "exciting" news about his future, adding that he had to see my face when he shared it. 

Naturally I've been going crazy with curiosity! He's graduating in May. Are we talking about a new, steady girl? A job? Does he want to go on to get a teaching certificate? As much as he's enjoyed four years of studying public policy and political science, he isn't 100% sure he wants to make it his career. He's nervous about the relocation that would likely require.

Another member of the family making a living with words

Well, here's an unexpected plot twist. He has a job already lined up after graduation. As a writer! More than that, he's going to be a baseball writer!

Around Halloween, he was checking one of his favorite baseball sites and saw a job posting. Even though he didn't have the qualifications specified -- journalism degree, portfolio, experience -- he filled out the application and sent them a sample article about where he predicted where former Cub Kris Bryant would land for the 2022 season.

They liked it! Enough to give him an exercise, just to see if he could write about other teams as well. They liked that article, too, and gave him an interview. He wowed them with his deep knowledge of stats and passion for the game.

He's an intern now. One of his stories -- the original one about Kris Bryant -- was reworked and posted and they paid him for it. With the baseball strike, there is nothing going on right now and likely won't be until spring training. So the site is very comfortable letting him juggle his writing duties and his schoolwork just now.

After graduation, he becomes a full-time baseball writer with a byline! And a regular salary based on a 40-hour workweek.

He won't be a reporter. His job will include scouring social media, major news sites and individual sportswriters' columns for news and then putting his own spin on the aggregate. No reason why he can't do that from his bedroom in his parents' house.* This gives him a chance to earn money at his own pace until he moves out.

I admit it, I got weepy at the news. "I wanted to tell you face-to-face, because you're the one who introduced me to baseball," he said. A next generation baseball fan, a next generation writer. I am so proud and so very moved by this.

While the website he's working for is reputable and has been around for more than a decade, I know he's never going to get rich working there. I'm also not sure about how quick the turnover is at this site. But it will definitely open doors for him, if sportswriting turns out to be his chosen career.

If it doesn't? In May he receives a diploma that he can still use to get a job in politics and policy. Or PR, and here his web writing experience will be a real plus.

But I don't want to project too far into the future. Right now, he's happy and proud that he has his "dream job." And I'm happy and proud, too.

*His mother will love that.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Please Come Home for Christmas (1992)

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

1) In this video, Jon Bon Jovi recalls decorating the tree with Cindy Crawford. They took turns wearing a Santa hat. Will anyone in your household be donning a Santa hat this season? Not a Santa hat. But in years gone by, my friend Henry has cheerfully worn the hat with elf ears I gave him.

2) He sings of the salutations he's received from friends and relatives. Have you received many holiday cards this year? Eleven (thirteen if I count the thank you holiday cards I got from Toys for Tots and the local PBS station.)

3) Will you wrap many presents? Or do you prefer to use gift bags? I wrap when I can. I'm very cheap that way.
4) Jon Bon Jovi says he and Frank Sinatra are distant relatives. Do you believe that musicality is a genetic gift, or that it can be taught? I am, regretfully, tone deaf, so I believe it's a genetic gift. I doubt even the most talented teacher could do anything with me, musically.

5) Jon is such a big Star Wars fan that he wrote a carol called "R2-D2: We Wish You a Merry Christmas." There a dozen Star Wars movies. How many have you seen? Just the first. My review: too boring to watch, too loud to sleep through. And yes, I know the rest of the world disagrees with me.

6) Jon once guest-starred as Carrie's love interest in an episode of Sex and the City, the popular HBO sitcom set in New York. The new reboot, And Just Like That, also centers around NYC life. Where does your favorite TV show take place? Right now, I'm loving the old Dick Van Dyke Show, which alternately takes place in Manhattan and New Rochelle.

7) Jon met his wife, Dorothea, when they were still in high school. Do you remember who you wanted to marry when you were in high school? Oh, yes! His name was Walt. He was 6'5, warmed the bench for the basketball team and had shiny black hair that always fell in his eyes. I found him devastatingly attractive! Last I heard, he was a paint/wallpaper contractor in a nearby suburb.

8) At Christmastime 1992, when this song was released, toys that tied into Disney's Little Mermaid were very popular. Have you purchased toys for anyone on your gift list this year? No one I know personally. But I got earrings, Hot Wheels and a Star Wars sticker book for the children who will be spending Christmas with their moms at the local women's shelter. Then there's the jewelry-making kit I was persuaded by my favorite-most ball player, Anthony Rizzo, to contribute to a pediatric cancer patient at Lurie Children's Hospital. I love buying toys! It's such a happy thing.


Here are gifts arriving for the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Amazon Toy Drive for Lurie Childrens Hospital. For every toy we bought, Anthony bought one, too. He's such a good boy and I miss my favorite (former) Cub sooooooo much!

9) Jon recorded "Please Come Home for Christmas" to benefit The Special Olympics. Here's your chance to plug a cause or organization that's near and dear to you. Since I've raved about it already, let's go with The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. More than half of the families battling pediatric cancer will file for bankruptcy. This organization, begun by All Star first baseman and cancer survivor Anthony Rizzo, provides much-needed financial assistance. Everything from parking at the hospital (yes, many hospitals charge $20/day or more for parking!) to meals in the hospital cafeteria to daycare for the family's other children, and more. All those costs not covered by insurance that strain a family's budget at an already stressful time. I'm grateful that Rizz opened my eyes to this need.

Getting into the spirit

I was tooling around online today and found this, a photo of Henry's church in Key West, decorated for Christmas. This is the view I will enjoy on Christmas Eve as we sing carols. They celebrate communion, which my congregation doesn't, so that will be nice. It hearkens back to my childhood. 

The pastor is a lovely man. I have worshipped with him at Christmas in the past, but to be honest, it's not his sermon I recall. Last year, when I was battling covid, Henry was very worried about me and so Pastor Steve asked the congregation to pray for me. I saw it when I watched the service live on Facebook. How can it not lift your spirits to know that a churchful of strangers, 1500 miles away, is praying for you? I am happy I'll get to thank Pastor Steve in person this year.

What a difference a year, two vaccinations and a booster make!

Stay safe, everyone. I am so very much hoping this will be the first normal Christmas we've enjoyed in years!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


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? The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer. Rachel Rubinstein-Goldblatt is a New Yorker with secrets. First of all, she loves Christmas and, as a prominent rabbi's only daughter, she knows her family wouldn't approve. Also, she's a published author. Under a pseudonym, she's written a series of Christmas rom-coms. Third, she suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. This her family knows about, but few others do. She's found people to be dismissive of her very real suffering.

So now you've met the heroine of this book. This year, at her pubisher's request, she sets out to write a Hanukkah romance. As she researches The Matzah Ball, a major Jewish celebration at The Four Seasons, her secrets are compromised and her life gets very complicated, especially when an old love reappears.

I'm about halfway through and I'm really liking Rachel. She's not perfect, but she's highly relatable. I'm enjoying this book thus far and am rooting for Rachel.

2. What did you recently finish reading? 
This Christmas, by Jane Green/Jennifer Coburn/Liz Ireland. A trio of Christmas short stories. The first, by Jane Green, is about a married couple who has drifted apart and take a trial separation. He comes home to spend Christmas with the family and she's surprised by how she feels. The second, by Jennifer Coburn, is about a woman who is certain her new husband is still attracted to his first wife and is obsessed with finding Wife #1 a new man by the new year. The third, by Liz Ireland, is about a woman who brings her new beau home for a traditional family Christmas and everything goes awry. 

Did I enjoy this book? Yes. It's infused with good will and Christmas spirit.

Do I recommend it? Nope. The first and third stories were sooooo predictable I actually groaned at times. But it's Christmastime, so I have a higher tolerance for corn.

3. What will you read next? I think I'll grab another Christmas fiction.