Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Not. Happy.

All spring, Anthony Rizzo has said he was confident he and the Cubs would reach an agreement on his contract. He has always said he wants to be a Cub for life, that he wants to come back after he retires to toss out the first pitch at a next-gen World Series game, that he dreams of seeing his #44 retired and flying over Wrigley Field as a pennant. 

He cannot be traded after this June. YEA! But if the Cubs don't extend his contract, he'll be gone when the 2022 season starts. He'll negotiate with another team and play first base in another city. He'll end his career wearing a color other than Cubbie blue. 


 All is not lost. Rizz has said that while he is no longer involved in contract talks, he has empowered his agent to continue negotiating. He just doesn't want to be distracted by money as he enters what could be his final year as a Cub.


I am bereft.


Tuesday, March 30, 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? Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello. Psycho has always fascinated me. It's a beautiful film about a repulsive subject. It's made with more craft and care than any other "thriller" or "horror" film, but it doesn't back away from its subject matter: murder, incest and necrophilia. Will, the moderator of our classic movie group, always says Hitchcock's genius is infusing every day situations with danger. What's scarier than Psycho's shower scene, where we're all reminded how vulnerable we are every damn day? But I think it's more than that. Hitch is perverse, and he suavely seduces us to join him in his twisty worldview. I think Psycho is the ultimate example of this.

Rebello admires Psycho, too. This book reports how the classic was made without much editorializing. It's about how the material was turned into a movie, without re-reviewing or analyzing it. I'm so glad. I'm enjoying the journey as rather top-line newspaper reports about the Ed Gein case became Robert Bloch's novel became Hitchcock's masterpiece.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Oh, this book! I liked it, but I wanted to love it. It's about Lucy and Josh, two highly effective executive assistants who are stuck sharing an office. They become competitors who can't resist pushing one another's buttons and their rivalry festers into obsession and then slowly blossoms into lust, love and genuine friendship. 
I've had workplace romances and appreciate how delicious and dangerous this situation can be. I liked these characters. I cared about what happened to them. And that's why I got frustrated with the book. There is so much foreplay I actually got bored. I didn't think that was possible, but after a while I no longer cared about who bit whose lip. Maybe it's because I personally prefer tongues to teeth, but It felt less like romance than a how-to manual.

But the bare bones of this story is very good -- poignant, realistic and involving. In addition to the romance, there are some nice moments between Lucy and her mentor-boss. I just wish a good editor had taken a blue pen to it.

3. What will read next?  Something frothy. I'm enjoying the Psycho book very much, but Psycho is well ... more than a little dark!


I helped set a new record yesterday! I got my first Pfizer yesterday, along with 2,159 other Cook County residents. 2,160! Woo woo! By contrast, the community college makes 540 appointments every day, so 2,160 vaccinations is quite an accomplishment.

Unfortunately, it took 3 hours.

The problem wasn't with the County or the National Guard. Troops converted an empty Kmart store into a vaccination center and then handled crowd control and registration. They did everything except put needles in arms, and they did it all with kindness and grace. 

The problem was with us. 20,000 appointments (almost 10 days worth) came available on Sunday at noon. People had to wait so long to book an appointment that they clicked "yes" to whatever time came up ... whether they could get off work or not. Then everyone showed up at lunchtime.


No one with an appointment* will be turned away. After all, the goal is to get as many shots into as many arms as possible. So I understand it. I get all of it.

I am part of history. I'm taking it all in. This is, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I want to learn from it.


*In Illinois, you must be in an approved group to get an appointment. I'm 1b -- under 65, but with an underlying condition.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday Stealing


1.  How often do you make food and eat it? I eat every day. It's a family tradition. I come from a long line of people who regularly consume food. Anyway, I suspect the question is asking how often I prepare a meal for myself and then sit down to enjoy it. Answer: more now with the pandemic. I cook for myself most weekdays now. I have made a point of ordering out twice/week to support local businesses. (And because I'm a terrible cook.)

2.  Do you consider toasting bread, preparing instant noodles, or boiling an egg to be cooking? Why or why not? Yes. Because by doing it, I enhance the food and make it palatable.

3.  What’s your favorite dish to make? Tossing a salmon filet on my George Foreman grill and letting it cook while I decide which veggie I'm going to have. It's such an easy way to eat well.

4.  Cooking or baking: what’s more fun? What’s more difficult? I used to enjoy baking. I don't anymore. I have never liked cooking. If I could afford it, I'd eat out all the time.

5.  Who did most of the cooking in your house when you were growing up? My mom. The only time my dad had anything to do with what we ate was when he got the grill out of the garage, about twice every summer. As I recall, preparing the hotdogs (for us) and steaks (for him and my mom) was anticlimactic. He liked playing with the charcoal and the lighter fluid.

My dad's grill was more work than mine.

6. How have you learned the cooking skills that you have?
Girl Scouts. I'm amazed by how much I remember from those long, long ago days. Also, I read the packaging. Oh! I learned how to marinate my pork chops by Googling, "How do I marinate my pork chops?"

7. Have you ever taken a cooking course? If so, what did you learn? If not, would you like to do one? What would you like to learn? I have no interest. Sorry.

8. Have you tried cooking food from another culture? What did you prepare? How was it? I
feel daring when I order something new off the menu. I'm not one to try preparing foreign foods. Also, I have a very sensitive gut, so I have to be careful. Which is a long way of saying, "No, I've never tried it."

9. Is it cost-effective to do your own cooking? Can you save money by cooking? Yes.

10. Would you rather do the cooking or do the washing up afterwards?
I actually enjoyed the time I spent with my Nice Grandma (dad's mom), cleaning up after a family meal. We had some nice conversations while I washed and she wiped. Now my Icky Grandma (mom's mom), she was pretty dreadful to be around all the time, including in the kitchen, so I have no such happy memories with her. At my own house, I wait until I have a sinkful of dishes and then I do them at once.

11.  Do you use recipes to cook? If so, where do you get the best recipes? Do you get them from friends, family, online, or from cookbooks? I do have a cookbook. I got it second hand, years ago, at the library book sale. I haven't opened it yet, though. I'm going to learn how to cook though. I am. When I was newly out on my own, I lived on spaghetti to save money. I figure when I retire, I'll have to economize again so I'll cook.

12.  Have you ever tried to prepare some food and just totally ruined it? What happened? I did mess up a cookie recipe -- the world's easiest cookie recipe -- because the holes I made for the preserves were too deep and they seeped through the cookie dough and scorched the bottoms. I was sad.

13. Do you prefer cooking at home or eating out at a restaurant? Why? I prefer dining in restaurants because I can change my mind about what I'll have at the last moment, it will be prepared better than I ever could, and I don't have to clean up. 

Here's a little Presidential trivia for you: JFK hated eating out, whether at a restaurant or at a friend's home. A millionaire's son, he grew up having a family chef who knew how to prepare meals that wouldn't upset his irritable bowel syndrome. When he was a Senator and then President, he felt lucky to have a wife who was known as a hostess so friends and associates thought it was great to be invited over. He used Jackie to great advantage and, except for campaign or diplomatic functions, he always ate at home. (He never cared much for presentation, though. Left to his own devices, he'd take every meal from a tray.)

14. Is cooking a social activity for you? Do you like to do it with other people, or do your prefer to do it alone?
I don't like to do it at all.

15. Do you have a lot of cooking equipment? How often do you use it all? Do you have any pieces of equipment that you rarely ever use?
I have a set of pots and pans and there are many I haven't ever used.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Fooled by a Feeling (1979)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
Chosen because next week is April Fool's Day.

1) Some believe that the practice of playing tricks on one another on April 1 dates back to the 14th century because it's mentioned in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer is considered one of England's greatest poets. From memory, quote a bit of poetry for us. (It doesn't have to be English, or great.) Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.

2) When Crazy Sam was a little girl, her mother would prank her on April Fool's Day by slipping a rubber worm or plastic spider in her lunch box. Did you/do you carry a lunchbox, either as a student or an adult? Not a lunch box. But I collect sturdy handled paper bags
(like you get from the card shop, stationery store, gift shop, optometrist ...) to take my lunch to the office.  After a year of working from home and eating lunch at home, I've accumulated quite a collection!

3) In 1998, Burger King got into the April Fool's Day fun by promoting a special "Left Handed Whopper," supposedly perfectly designed for a leftie to hold. Describe your perfect burger. Medium well on a sesame seed bun. Cheese, ketchup and lettuce but no tomato. Pickle on the side. I also like Big Macs because of the special sauce.

4) In this week's song, Barbara Mandrell sings that she followed her heart into her lover's arms. Are you more often led by your heart or head? Heart, most definitely.

5) She knows now she was wrong for believing her man loved her. When did you recently admit you were wrong? Talking old movies with my friend Will, I maintained Ann Sheridan wasn't in The Man Who Came to Dinner. I swear I don't recall her at all. Turns out she had a very big role. Call me Wrongy McWrongerson.

She was even billed before the Man of the title

6) Barbara Mandrell recalls being able to read music before she could read words. Can you read sheet music? Nope.

7) Barbara had her own TV variety show in the 1980s and, in the 90s, acted on the daytime drama, Sunset Beach. The soap opera's producer, Aaron Spelling, was a huge fan of Barbara's and was thrilled to finally meet and work with her. Tell us about someone you really enjoyed working with, and why. My boss, Aaron, is great. He's more into being a leader than a supervisor. He makes me feel as though his first priority is getting me what I need to do my best.

8) In 1979, when this song was released, a top-of-the-line Sony Walkman sold for $150 (approx. $500 in today's dollars). Did you have a portable cassette player back in the day? Yes, and I listened to Barbara Mandrell sing this and "Crackers" ("You can eat crackers in my bed any time ...") through my Walkman headphones.

9) Random question: What's the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning? "I have to pee." Inelegant, yes, but true.


Glory amid the gripes

I've felt tired, unsettled and "off" all week. I think a lot of it has to do with the last week's work marathon. It was hard for me to handle a complex project in a truncated timeline in the isolation of home. Oh well, I've learned a lot about myself during covid, and one thing is that I'm not the complete loner I thought I was. I need the discipline and inspiration that comes from being with others.

I also think I eat way too much sugar and don't move anywhere near enough. This is not good for me. (Duh.) Two mass shootings in two weeks didn't help. Nor did the rollbacks of voting laws. So it's unAmerican to let citizens vote but completely American to let them buy AK47s. I feel bruised by how broken "the other guy" left this country and I worry about how long it will take President Biden to bring us back together.

Anyway, by Wednesday the Project from Hell* was with the client for review. I was trying to get back to some kind of schedule/normalcy and that included eating out of my refrigerator instead of carry out. I saw that there were staples I'd run out of (yogurt, hot dog buns) and decided to stop at the store after picking up my new glasses. As I trotted through the vestibule, I noticed a lot of packages had been delivered. But since I hadn't ordered anything, I didn't pay them any mind.

Upon my return, armed with my new glasses and my hot dog buns and my Chobani, I glanced at the packages again while waiting for the elevator. I mean, there's not much else to look at while waiting for the elevator. Anyway, a long florist box was addressed to me.


They were from Snarkypants. My Snarkela. She had a feeling that I needed a lift and, since Snarky is a woman who always heeds those feelings, she sent me this big, beautiful alstroemeria bouquet.  

Three of us live here, and it's a tossup as to who was most excited when the flowers first entered our home. Reynaldo thought he'd just discovered the most colorful kitty salad bar ever. Connie was enthralled by having a shallow, narrow box to call her own. And I was doing my Grateful Dead twirl dance, "Snarky sent me flowers."

Don't worry, the flowers are now safe in my den

It's her new throne, and it's wonderful

I hope I can pay Snarky's kindness forward. I want to come through for someone when they need a lift, like she did for me. It was glorious.


*April edition. Unfortunately, the client seems happy with my work and may be back for more next month. They are based in Houston, which has been through an awful lot lately and left many of the executives without wifi and consequently cut days out of the March/April timeline. I am hopeful that May will be better. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 23, 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 Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I chose this one for its workplace setting. It appears my working-from-home days may finally be winding to an end, and I want to get my mind back into things like commuting, skyscrapers, a shared refrigerator in the coffee room and wearing something other than sweats and Crocs every day (don't judge me). 

Lucy and Joshua are two highly effective executive assistants who are stuck sharing an office. They become competitors who can't resist pushing one another's buttons and their rivalry festers into obsession. (I enjoy when Lucy changes her passwords, currently it's IHATEJOSHUA4EV@.) Of course they're going to fall in love. If that's a spoiler for you, you've never picked up a volume of chick-lit. But the fun will be seeing how author Thorne gets us there. And I am having fun so far.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Adventures of Ellery Queen by Ellery Queen. Ellery Queen is a famous and influential character in the mystery genre. For example, Richard Levinson and William Link were acolytes who went on to create Columbo and Murder, She Wrote. That's why I've been itching to read some of these stories, and now I finally have. 
The fictional Ellery is the Harvard-educated son of Inspector Richard Queen, NYPD, Ellery believes that crimes can be solved using deductive reasoning, and he often puts his estimable intellect to work to help his dad catch killers. 
The stories are brain teasers, reminiscent of the cases that confronted Hercule Poirot and Nero Wolfe. While the pair of writers who collaborated on the Queen stories were good at crafting mysteries, I simply didn't find the writing as engaging as those other series.  
They simply haven't aged well. The newest stories here are from 1941, which means that the contents of this book are at least 80 years old. I don't mind that the characters didn't have TV or cell phones, or even the way Ellery practically fetishizes cigarette smoking. That kind of thing doesn't bother me. (As I say, I've read a lot of Agatha Christie and Rex Stout.) But Ellery is written as an effete snob  who looks down his nose at women -- always defined by their physical attributes -- blacks and Hispanics. Also, as an animal lover, two of the stories had plot points that made me terribly sad.

Which is all my very long winded way of saying, "OK, so I tried Ellery Queen. I won't be back."

3. What will read next?  Time for non-fiction.

That was interesting

Last week at this time, I was drowning. I had five client blog posts to write in four business days. Specific, detailed posts on a topic I know nothing about: car maintenance. 

I'm supposed to make them "friendly and conversational," yet to accommodate SEO* I have to incorporate phrases that make me sound like Borat.

I had 20 workday hours to do a task that is alotted 40 hours on our scope of business. This left me working into the wee small hours every night. I had my meals and groceries delivered,† only going outside to take out the trash. 

I woke up Monday morning freaking exhausted.

Satisfied, too, maybe even a little proud of what I'd accomplished with the resources I'd been given.

And reflective. There was a time in my career where I ate stress for breakfast. I loved being the "go-to girl." I always had capacity for more work. My friend Henry used to remind me of those long-ago days (20 years maybe?) before cell phones where he caught me checking my work voicemail from a payphone on a Key West pier on New Year's Eve day.

I'm 63 now and looking at the finish line. I admit I won't miss not being asked to do the impossible (I billed 50 hours but remember, I had 20 workday hours). But I do wonder what will give me that same feeling of satisfaction after I retire. I'm curious about my next chapter.

I only have enough saved to live six years without money coming in. Maybe seven, because I haven't included Social Security in my calculations. When covid is behind us, and I see the local economical landscape, I'll have to get a part-time job doing ... something. Will it be fulfilling? 

Oh well, gotta go. Another project on my plate and I have to get organized!

*Search Engine Optimization comes from words people like us type into Google. Using the exact phrases used in Google will make it easier for consumers to find my client's posts. Unfortunately, today most of us are searching on phones, keystroking with our thumbs, and do not use perfect grammar. Or any grammar. (Example: "Reasons windshield cracked." Go ahead. Use that exact phrase in a friendly, conversational sentence.)

†Thank goodness for the $30 Uber Eats credit I got ... somehow. And I was happy to fill my kitchen from the independent grocer on the other side of town and have them deliver. They don't have everything I like and the bill was more than 20% higher than if I'd shopped at one of the nearby chains. But here's the thing: this grocer is fighting for his life, and he's part of this community. He supports the local food pantry in a big way. I can't afford to shop there every week but I can do it every month and it makes me happy to do it.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Saturday 9


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

1) In this song, John Legend sings that both he and his girl have "room to grow." What about you? In what areas would you like to improve? I procrastinate. For example, why am I writing this blog post now, when I have so much work to do? I have a Monday deadline, will be working all weekend, and here I am, listening to John Legend and sharing my thoughts on a completely unrelated topic. Silly, Gal. What do you bet that by Sunday night I wish I had this time back and was able to redirect it to my project?

2) He sings that when he hangs up in anger, she calls him back. Are you quicker to anger, or quicker to forgive? I do both pretty fast. But while I am quick to forgive, I seldom forget.

3) "Ordinary People" was John Legend's first big hit. He originally wrote it for The Black Eyed Peas, but -- happily for him -- recorded it himself. Have you ever purchased a gift for someone else but then decided to keep it yourself? Yes. More than once I bought earrings for my niece and then when I got them home, decided they were mine.
4) Ordinary People is also the title of an acclaimed novel by Judith Guest and an Oscar-winning film. Are you familiar with either the movie or the book? Familiar with them both, recommend them both, love them both. Since it's Oscar season ... there's a popular debate among movie lovers: how could the 1980 Best Picture Award have gone to Ordinary People instead of the more ambitious Raging Bull? Well, I've never been a boxer, but I was once an unhappy teenager growing up in a complicated family in a Chicago suburb, and I assure you: Ordinary People is a great film.

5) John is married to Chrissy Teigen, who gained fame as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. When is the last time you dove in? Were you in a pool, lake, river or sea? Answering this question makes me realize I never swam in 2020. I think that's the first year of my entire life I can say that! I bet even as a baby my mom held me as I splashed in the lake we always went to. ANYWAY, to answer to the question, I'm sure it was Christmastime, 2019, in a pool in Key West.

6) John unexpectedly proposed to Chrissy on vacation, but he was afraid airport security would ruin the surprise when they went through his carry on very thoroughly. He worried she would see the ring box and he'd have to drop down to one knee right there at the airport! Tell us about one of your flights: your first, your most recent or your most memorable. My first flight was ORD to FLL. I was 16. My uncle had moved to Fort Lauderdale, and invited me and my cousin (his daughter) to visit. My cousin was only 13 but had already flown often. Anyway, I remember boarding the plane slowly, hesitantly, with the handle of tennis racket in the small of my back. It was her way of saying, "Stay steady, Gal."

7) John is currently a coach on The Voice. The other coaches are Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton. Of those four singers, which is your favorite? Kelly! I haven't seen her daytime talk show. Does she open by singing instead of telling jokes?

The Roosevelt's rooftop is very cool
In 2005, when this song was popular, Johnny Carson died. After he retired from The Tonight Show in 1993, he traveled extensively and discovered he especially enjoyed photographic safaris in Africa. If time and money were no object, where would you go on vacation? I hope there's a 2022 TCM Film Festival. I'd fly to Hollywood first class, arriving several days early. I'd get in a limo and arrive at the glamorous and venerable Roosevelt and set up camp (a most luxurious camp!). I'd spend the time beforehand sightseeing and catching up with fellow movie fans I met at the 2019 Festival and have kept up with via Facebook. Then I'd love every moment of the four-day fest and stay a few days after. I'd invite my oldest friend, living in the southern California, to visit me and stay in splendor at the Roosevelt. In short, it would be 10 days of living like I want, doing what I want, without any concern for the cost.

9) Random question -- In your typical day, what's the longest you usually go without saying a word to another person: all day, a few hours, an hour, or five minutes? I'm pretty blabby, so under normal circumstances I'd say "an hour." But with covid and work from home, I've probably gone all day without speaking to another person. 


Tuesday, March 16, 2021


Rita Hayworth feeling bookish
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 Adventures of Ellery Queen by Ellery Queen. The Harvard-educated son of Inspector Richard Queen, NYPD, Ellery believes that crimes can be solved using deductive reasoning, and he often puts his estimable intellect to work to help his dad catch killers. 

Ellery Queen never really existed. He was the brainchild of a collaboration between two writers. I've always wanted to give this series a shot, and finally, here I am!

This series of short stories is from the 1941. 80 years ago! It's a product of its time, so it is not remotely PC. I admit I've winced more than once at the racial and sexual stereotypes. But since I've read most of the Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe books of the same vintage, I didn't expect to wince this often.
Once I get past that, though, I am enjoying the stories. I wonder if the dynamic between the rough hewn, old-school cop and his erudite son influenced TV's Frasier and his father, Martin.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Way It Was: My Life with Frank Sinatra by Eliot Weisman and Jennifer Valoppi. If the title hadn't already been used by James Goldman, this could be called The Lion in Winter. It's about Sinatra during the last 20 years of his life as remembered by his last manager, and the executor of his will. Sinatra's decline was inexorable and sad, but he faced it with as much dignity and courage as he could muster. 

Death didn't scare Sinatra. There are stories of him flying coolly through storms and remaining calm even after an engine failed. But he did fear no longer being "Frank Sinatra," not being able to inhabit that larger-than-life persona. So the moments when he realized he was losing it are heart wrenching. But universal. Time is a tremendous equalizer, and not even The Chairman of the Board can beat it.
As moving as those passages were, I didn't enjoy this book. It's not a biography, it's Weisman's memoir, and I found him to be petty and vindictive. His snarky asides about Tina Sinatra and Liza Minnelli turned me off because they were more about settling scores than advancing the story. However, I did thoroughly enjoy his pages-long takedown of Donald Trump. Sinatra loathed him, and with good reason. If Trump's unscrupulous dealings with Sinatra are any indication of how he typically ran his business, it's no wonder the SDNY is scrutinizing his finances.

3. What will read next?  I don't know ...

Ten Things Tuesday

 Stolen from Kwizgiver

1. A song that makes you feel cool. Good as Hell by Lizzo

2. A song that you can relate to.  In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning by Sinatra

3. The last song that was stuck in your head. Badlands by Bruce
4.  Your favorite song from a musical.  Get Happy by Judy
5. Your favorite song from the 70s. Band on the Run by Wings
6. Your least favorite song from a band you like.  Mr. Moonlight by The Beatles
7. A song you think is underrated.  Teacher, I Need You by Elton
8. An album you think is underrated. The Funny Lady Soundtrack (not the movie; the movie sucks)
9.  A song you never want to hear again. See #6. Really, I hate everything about it. Even John's organ playing.

10. A song you love but used to hate. Yes It Is by The Beatles (I now appreciate how John sings, "But it's my pride, yes it is!")


Monday, March 15, 2021

Still taking no prisoners

Last week, my aunt chose to try to fight with me over, of all things, Princess Diana and Harry. This week, it's Joe Namath.

I'd just seen an ABC News piece about this iconic photo: Broadway Joe in Miami, his Super Bowl pre-game press conference held poolside in Miami. I recalled how it pissed people off, including my dad, because it supposedly showed Namath wasn't taking The Big Game seriously. But, I wrote, "he won the damn game. That aside I just now noticed he's wearing Burberry trunks. It's hard to believe now when he's harping at us to get all the benefits we DESERVE, but at one time, Joe Namath was the coolest guy in the universe." To me, it was about the passage of time.

Nancy commented that must have been "the hairiest guy in the universe," and we wondered when manscaping became a thing. Amy posted that she loved the guy in the yellow shirt using a newspaper instead of sunscreen.

Then my aunt. Oh, my aunt! She went on about how he was never "cool" because of the pantyhose commercial and how she and my grandfather used to pronounce his name Na-moth (rhymes with moth). 

OK, Auntie, just another thing I'm wrong about. Never mind that the pantyhose commercial* was in 1973 -- five years after the poolside press conference -- so it has nothing to do with the photo I posted. Never mind that making fun of someone's last name isn't even funny. (And I doubt my grandfather did that. My dad, certainly. But my grandpa didn't make fun of things like that because he was an immigrant and was sensitive to ethnicity.)

I love my aunt and I don't want to hurt her feelings. But I don't feel like defending myself over every post. I don't want to fight. I also don't want to have to censor myself on my own Facebook page, and worst of all, I don't want my friends engaging her. No good would come of that.

So I hide her comments to me and now I'm restricting her access to my posts. Facebook says that this will be invisible to her. I hope so. I don't want to alienate her. 

Her oldest son and two of her adult grandchildren are already dealing with her less and less. They use the phrase "racist and homphobic" and "Trumpy" to describe her diatribes. She doesn't seem to get hat her grumpy old lady act is driving people she loves away. She mentioned to me in an email that she was hurt that she felt "ignored" at her granddaughter-in-law's Zoom baby shower.

How said is that? She is on the verge of becoming a great-grandmother for the first time. At 74, she is young enough to enjoy it. And yet her take-no-prisoners attitude is going to get in the way of that, because not everyone wants their baby exposed to outspoken racism or homophobia. I hope her scorched earth/MAGA strategy is worth it to her.

As for me, I was going to send her an email on Sunday but I was too pissed. I love her and honor our history and so I will write to her, but I have to calm down first.

She wasn't always like this. You know how on Facebook your "memories" pop up? Six years ago, I can see that I posted some pretty controversial things and she managed to resist responding with provocative comments. I think when Donald Trump came down that escalator and announced his candidacy, he began to coarsen us as a people, and it's going to take a while for us to heal.


*The pantyhose commercial is still a big deal in advertising because it was one of the first spots to joke about sex and gender as feminism was beginning to take hold and women were complaining about being objectified in print and on TV spot. It was considered risky at the time, but it's used as an example of "talk value." The press coverage the commercial got was worth more than the TV time the advertiser bought.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Shoutout to Stacy

My friend Kathy posted this on her Facebook feed. Since her parents are both long gone, and because she constantly references her own memory lapses, I know she's talking about herself here. This makes me sad for her, but at the same time, it's illuminating.


Recently Stacy encouraged me to meet Kathy "in her reality." Clearly it's good advice from someone who has experience with dementia patients. I have to remind myself that she's likely never going to get better, so what is the harm in indulging her? There is no harm. I am helping to ensure that whatever time we have left together is friendly and less stressful for both of us. (Thank you, Stacy.)

I worry about Kathy because I know at least two of our friends -- John and Gregory -- don't want to spend time with her. They feel being around her is "too disturbing." I am especially sad about John's decision, because Kathy has always been more than a little in love with him and I know hearing from him would mean more to her than just dumb old me. But John has gone through dementia with a family member and knows what he can handle and what he can't, so he's chosen to communicate with Kathy only through texts and emojis. 

I also worry about Kathy because, as we all begin to get vaccinated, she's going to try to make plans. She moved out to Dekalb to save money on housing and be closer to her adult grandchildren, both of which are good things. But Dekalb is an hour out of Chicago. She should not be driving. Even if I take the train out there, the nearest stop is 20 miles from her home. I don't want to be with her for those 20 miles. I don't know how to tell her I'll Uber to/from the train station to visit her without her knowing I just don't trust her driving skills. I certainly don't want to be responsible for her driving up here. I hate to say it, but there are some things about Covid I'll miss, and the perfect excuse it gives me not to see Kathy is one of them.

I miss the old days, when all we worried about was who was sleeping with who and who got passed over for a promotion. 

Oh, David, how could I deny you?

Ms. Kwizgiver wondered how I could not have listed my enduring crush, David Addison, as my favorite detective on Saturday 9. I am ashamed of myself. He may not have been the best fictional sleuth, but he certainly was the cutest and most musical.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Sunday Stealing

1 Do You Sleep With Your Closet Doors Open Or Closed? Open, because my big walk-in closet is where the cats' litter boxes are.

2 Do You Have Freckles? No.

3 Can You Whistle? No.

4 Last Song You Listened To. "Little Red Corvette."

5 Name Something That Relaxes You. Working on my Farmville 2 farm.

6 What Sounds Are Your Favorite? A cat's purr.

7 What Do You Wear To Bed? An oversized t-shirt. This one is one of my favorites. It's soft and gold and says "Key West Scuba Diving." No, I've never been scuba diving. It was a gift.

8 Do You Sing In The Shower? Yes. Always. Badly.

9 What Books Are You Reading? One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon.

10 Do You Believe In Magic? Not really. But now the song is going through my head. Lead singer John Sebastian was the godson of Vivian Vance (aka Ethel Mertz). His mother Jane is mentioned in some I Love Lucy episodes. The girls say Jane Sebastian will do her bird calls at a fundraiser and in another episode they talk about Jane's new baby.

11 Can You Curl Your Tongue? Yes.

12 Have You Ever Caught A Butterfly? No. I caught a firefly once and cried when it died overnight. I thought he and I could be friends. That cured me of wanting to catch bugs.

13 Name One Movie That Made You Cry. Lots of movies make me cry. The Way We Were springs immediately to mind. Oh, how Katie loved him!


14 Peanuts Or Sunflower Seeds? Peanuts.

15 Are You A Heavy Sleeper? Yes, but I sleep fitfully.


Friday, March 12, 2021

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (1944)

Selected because this Wednesday is St. Patrick's Day. Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.
1) Bing Crosby sings that he learned this song from his mother. Can you recall a song from your early childhood? My favorite song from music class was about spring. I still remember the lyrics: "Water from mountain flows, melted from winter snows, turning it gaily goes, circling the maple tree. Water from mountain flows, melted from winter snows, turning it gaily goes, calling to me, HEY!" I loved when we yelled, "HEY!" I googled the lyrics and found it's from a Czech folk song called "Ah Lovely Meadows." Apparently primary school teachers are still sharing it with their young students.
2) Bing was NBC's first choice to play TV's Columbo. He turned down the role because, by that time, he was in his 60s and just didn't feel like working a full week anymore. Peter Falk eventually got the part and played Det. Columbo for 10 seasons. Do you enjoy detective stories, whether on TV, in movies or in books? Oh, yes! Kinsey Milhone of Sue Grafton's alphabet series Robert Parker's Spenser are my favorite book-ish private investigators. On TV, my all-time fave police detective is Lennie Briscoe from Law and Order.

3) Bing could trace his family back to County Cork. While it's said that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish, can you honestly claim Irish heritage? I'm 1/8 Irish. I haven't done an ancestry kit, so I'm going by what I've been told. My dad's mom was 1/2 Irish, which made my dad 1/4 Irish, and me 1/8.
4) Other than St. Patrick, what is Ireland famous for? My uncle loved visiting Ireland and raved about the crystal glassware. He said it was manufactured to be used and enjoyed, not left on the shelf and admired.

5) "The wearing o' the green" is one way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Will you wear something green in honor of the day? If I remember. Now that I'm working from home, I give my attire way less consideration.

6) Have you ever had green beer? I don't believe I ever have. And you know what? I'm OK with that.

7) Have you ever ordered a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's? Yes. I miss McDonald's. During covid I've kept a pretty small footprint, but I could use a Big Mac.

Imagine this in silver
8) A four-leaf clover is considered good luck. Do you have a lucky charm? Yes. It's really quite silly, but it makes me feel better. I was at the airport, sitting in one of those awful chairs outside the gate, and I saw something shiny on the floor. It was a charm that had obviously fallen off a child's bracelet. The charm shows Joseph holding Mary who is holding Jesus. I am frightened of flying, so I took spotting that charm on that dirty airport carpet as a sign and I slipped it in my jeans pocket. It's on my dresser right now, waiting to join me on my next flight.

9) Speaking of Lucky Charms, they are magically delicious.  What brand of cereal is in your kitchen right now? Honey Bunches of Oats.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Oh, Francis!* You broke my heart!

As I have my own little film festival, going through my soon-to-be-defunct DVR, I landed on The Joker is Wild. This 1957 movie is one of Sinatra's best. He's in fine voice, singing "I Cried for You," "All the Way," and my favorite, "Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)."†  But he also gives a fine dramatic performance. 

This movie had a massive impact on me when I was a kid. I saw it the first time when I was a teenager, babysitting. The kids were asleep and I was alone in the parents' bedroom, eating chips, drinking soda and watching old movies. Because it's Sinatra singing the oldies, I assumed it was a merry Hollywood musical. It is not. 

Very bad things happen to good people. (It has one of the most harrowing bloody scenes I recall in a black and white film; especially disturbing when you're a kid watching alone in a strange house.) Heroes do not necessarily behave valiantly. True love does not conquer all. 

This is because the story didn't come from a scriptwriter's imagination. It was based on real events. (I've been to The Green Mill, the bar where Sinatra/Joe E. Lewis chose not to perform). The story was well-known enough that, when I told my parents about the movie, they confirmed the bare bones of the plot.

The message I learned in theory that long-ago night -- that life doesn't work out the way it's supposed to -- has, of course, been born out time and again in real life. I appreciate that Francis prepared me (somewhat).


*Ava and I call him Francis.

†Screw you, New York. He sang two songs about us: "My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)" and "Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)." And he sang our songs first, thank you very much.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Scorched Earth

I was moved by Prince Harry's interview with Oprah. Meghan struck me as disingenuous, but Harry seemed to be suffering confusion and pain. I wanted to give him a hug.

I posted this photo on Facebook and wrote: Last night, watching Harry and Meghan, I kept thinking of what Carrie Fisher said about relationships: "They're never really over, just over there." It felt like Harry is fighting extra hard for Meghan because he felt no one fought for Diana.


That was when my aunt weighed in. "As Bethany Frankel said, 'oh, boo hoo.'"


She went on to share some factually inaccurate information about Harry's finances which just emphasized that she hadn't watched the show she was commenting on, and continued to lecture me in an aggressive way. 


Um ... it's MY Facebook page. She has her own page for her own opinions. I don't scroll through her Fox-filled feed and "correct" her. (I don't even follow her anymore.) I don't know why I'm not entitled to the same respect.

I didn't engage her anymore. She's my auntie, she's 74 and I don't want to fight. I also didn't want my friends correcting her misinformation, so I "hid" her comments.

But it made me sad. She has a strained relationship with her oldest son because of comments she made in 2016 that were, in his words, "racist and homophobic." I didn't ask what she said exactly because I don't want to know. Some things can't be unheard. Her adult grandchildren were disillusioned when their heretofore sweet, supportive grandmother came out loud and proud for Trump and gave her reasons, which they too felt fell into the "racist and homophobic" category.

She went to her granddaughter-in-law's Zoom baby shower and commented ruefully that "no one noticed" she was there. Of course not. In every conversation, she manages to work in her anger and grievance. It's tiresome and sad and more and more of her relatives are avoiding her. (Example: nothing I said in my original post about Harry had anything to do with his finances. It was about the nature of grief. Does my aunt really think that money can buy you out of such pain? Of course not. So why voice her opinion so provocatively?) She is hurt and confused by her isolation, but seemingly can't stop herself.

We've been here before, she and I. I'm made of sterner stuff than my cousin or his kids and refuse to let her go. I will no allow Donald Trump and Fox News ruin what time we have left together. And yes, I do blame Trump. From "lock her up" to "enemies of the people," our then-President amped up the antagonism with his overheated tweets and made demonization comfortable.


So I'm going to ignore what she says on social media and send her a chatty email this week, about books I've read and about how my Reynaldo is adjusting to his meds. I'm going to pretend that she didn't use my own Facebook page to lecture me and spread falsehoods. I'm going to insist on sending love her way.


Because I know she loves me.