Sunday, February 27, 2022

Wah! I have to wear a mask! Wah! They want me to get vaccinated!

I wonder if those whiners look at what's going on in the Ukraine and feel shame.

Probably not.

Self awareness doesn't seem to be their strong suit.

Thanks, Bev

Click here to learn more
Blogger Bev Sykes turned me on to Letters Against Isolation. This group comforts lonely seniors by seeing to it that they get handwritten correspondence. Writing is what I do. I can't sing or dance, but I can write.

So far I've sent two kitty notecards with details about my own cats, and two picture postcards featuring Lake Michigan, with a note about cold our Great Lake is these days. It's my hope that having handwritten mail featuring an engaging illustration will lift the mood of seniors. I like imagining them tacking my notecard or postcard on the wall.

It's an easy way to help others, and there's little in life that's better than that!

Now I'm off to the mailbox.

About two photos

Friday night I went out! Again! That's three weeks in a row that I met up with friends. It's beginning to feel like covid is fading. I'm afraid to get my hopes up, though. The mask mandate may be over Monday, but I'm keeping mine handy -- just in case.

I went to a local art show with Nancy and her hubs, Paul. It was important not because of the artist but the curator, my cousin. He's a Renaissance man: teacher, musician, artist.* He chose the artist and which pieces she displayed. This was the first show he's done, and I was happy to support him.

We posed for a photo, which I posted on Facebook. It got a dozen likes. Not a one from his mother. Similarly, he never asked about his mom when we chatted over charcuterie and drinks.

My cousin and my aunt are estranged. My aunt no longer hears from her grandchildren. Her once-favorite granddaughter earned an MFA last summer, and my aunt isn't even aware of it. She now has a great grandchild she's never held. She has Donald Trump to thank. Her son and his family are appalled by what they call her "aggressive racism and homophobia." As my cousin told me, it's hard to handle it when the woman who taught you right from wrong and emphasized the importance of Christian values turns out to be loud and proud of her intolerance. 

When my cousin proudly showed off photos of  "Lottie," his first grandchild and the great-granddaughter my aunt has never seen, I was sad for my aunt. I know that her noisy Confederate flag waving/BLM bashing/gay intolerance is her choice, but it has come at such a high price. 

I'm trying very hard to thread this needle, to stay in communication with both my aunt and my cousin. (His was one of the first calls I received when the Cubs traded Anthony Rizzo!) Since I have always been one of the most outspoken liberals in the family, my cousin is perplexed by my tolerance with her intolerance. It doesn't help her and my relationship that she has openly scolded me for posting my own opinions on my own Facebook page. (I no longer read hers.)

Make no mistake about it: her attitude has left me appalled, as has her abandonment of independent thought in favor of the MAGA party line. But I also remember this: when I was a little girl, she hung a picture of JFK beside her bedroom door. The teenaged girl who used her babysitting money to buy a frame for this very photo simply could not be, in her heart, a homophobic racist. 

She is now in her mid-70s. She has already outlived her father and one of her brothers (my dad). I know she keenly misses meeting "Charlotte" (she refuses to call the baby "Lottie"). I don't know how much time she thinks she has left. 

I keep hoping she'll be flipping through a magazine and see President Kennedy's face. Maybe it will help her remember who she really is, and things will begin to thaw.

*And he's been paid for all of that. This distinction matters. I know poets and writers who self publish or don't publish. They seem to be dismissive of my crass, commercial efforts. Whatever. My writing keeps the lights on and the water running. Their creative endeavors don't pay the bills.

Sunday Stealing

Unconscious Mutterings

I so enjoy these word associations. Let's see if we match!

 I say,......and you think... 

    Casino :: Las Vegas
    Bone :: Crushing
    Painting :: Oil
    Shocked :: Stunned
    Quieter :: Louder
    Feed :: Birds
    Song :: Sing
    Glass :: Bottomed Boat
    Boat :: Drinks
    Junk :: Clutter
    Sheet :: Pillowcase
    Knit :: Stitch
    Gift :: Given
    Small :: Tiny
    Title :: Author


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Cruella de Vil (1961)

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

1) In the original animated 101 Dalmations, this song is written by Roger, who gets his best ideas at the piano. Where do you feel most creative? I get great ideas in the shower. I am happiest in the shower. I get so distracted by my big, wonderful thoughts I often forget if I've used conditioner yet.
2) His piano is tucked away in a crowded attic. Does your home have an attic? If so, what do you keep up there? Alas, no attic, no basement. I could use the storage!
3) The inspiration for this song is his wife's old school chum, the very wealthy and very mean Cruella de Vil. Have you ever found you couldn't stand one of your spouse's or lover's friends? Yes. I'm certain it happens all the time, too.
4) Make no mistake, Cruella is a very bad lady. The American Film Institute named her #38 on their 100 Greatest Villains list. Tell us another nasty movie character who comes to mind. I think the Corleones are the most dangerous kind of bad guys because they're so sympathetic. Yes, they are devoted sons and loving dads, but they are also stone murderers.
Happy 50th anniversary to The Godfather

5) Cruella wanted to skin sweet little Dalmation puppies and make a coat. (We told you she was bad.) As winter wears on, could you use a new coat (though not one made from puppy fur!)? I don't need a new coat, but the one I have could benefit from a good cleaning.

6) This song was written by Mel Leven, who did both words and music. Do you think you'd be more successful as a lyricist (words) or composer (music)? If I had to support myself as a songwriter, I'd starve.

7) 1961 was a big year for Disney. In addition to this animated movie, they had a hit with The Parent Trap, about twins who are reunited at summer camp. Approx. 1 in every 250 births results in twins. Are there any twins in your family? Nope

8) Also in 1961, IBM introduced the Selectric typewriter. Amazon and Walmart both still sell typewriters. Do you own one? Nope

9) Random question: When is the last time you took a nap? Yesterday


That didn't feel good

After dinner with my friend Nancy and her husband Paul, I got home to find a young man in the vestibule, by our mailboxes. He was reading the names on our boxes and trying the locked doors that lead to either the stairwell or the elevator. He told me something about trouble with his washer and dryer and that he wants to use ours. He was clearly lying, and that's OK. It's cold tonight and I suspect he was just trying to get warm. I didn't engage him, just nodded a lot and made my way to the elevator. 

He seemed to be trying to open one of the mailboxes. I tapped on the glass door and told him to stop it. He said, "I have three friends in this building!" Through the door I told him to call his friends and have them let him in, or leave. He said something I didn't understand and then returned to pulling on the locked door.

I called the police. I didn't want to. Homeless people need to be somewhere and on this cold night, I didn't mind him being in our vestibule. I didn't like him trying the mailboxes and front door, though.

Two police cars arrived and a pair of officers questioned him. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it was obvious he was trying to convince them he belonged here. I watched him leave with the officers, going first to the building to our left and then to our backdoor. I assume he was trying to convince them he knew a resident and knew how to get in. 

After about 15 minutes, the police led him to one of their cars and they drove away.

I feel guilty about this. But there were two Amazon packages near the elevator. He was fiddling with the mailboxes. I told him to leave and he didn't. I have a responsibility to my neighbors.

At least, right now, he's warm and comfortable, even though he's in the police station.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Putin's war of choice

Children are going to be traumatized. Beloved pets confused, misplaced, and killed. Ordinary Ukrainians, driven by patriotism, will be slaughtered. Why are we looking at all this heartache and death? Because Vladimir Putin has a hankering for the glory days of the Soviet Union.

I'm just grateful that Joe Biden enjoys the respect of other NATO leaders. Perhaps if the world stands together against this outrage, it won't spread like a stain across the globe.

Life imitates art imitates life. We never learn.

Remember Donald Trump's assessment of this carnage as "wonderful." "An act of genius." Do not stay home if his name ever darkens a ballot again. Vote, vote, vote! We can't let this Putin fanboy back in the Oval Office.

And consider making a contribution to Doctors Without Borders. Sometimes prayers are not enough.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #247


Thirteen charities I donated to in 2021. My taxes have been filed, and in preparation I had to go through my financial paperwork. According to receipts, here are the charities I gave to most often.

1. My church

2. The local food pantry

3. Doctors without Borders

4. Harmony House for Cats

5. The Night Ministry

6. Toys for Tots

7. Red Door Animal Shelter

8. PAWS Chicago Animal Shelter

9. Ford's Theater Society

10. Planned Parenthood

11. John F. Kennedy Library

12. World Wildlife Fund

13. Goodwill

How about you? Do you do your taxes in February,  do you wait until the April deadline, or do you fall somewhere in between?

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


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? Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron. I met Hallie Ephron at a book fair in 2015. I found her to be a nice lady. I already liked her writing. I've previously read two of her books: There Was an Old Woman and Night Night, Sleep Tight. It's not the plotting of these mysteries that makes me return to her. It's her turn of phrase, the way she sets a scene. When I read Hallie Ephron, I'm transported into someone else's life for a while.

I'm finding that to be true with Careful What You Wish For. Emily is a professional organizer who helps others declutter their homes. One of her rules: you can only get rid of your own stuff; you can't toss items belonging to your spouse or kid. This wisdom comes from her life, since Emily's husband is something of a hoarder, a garage sale junkie who cannot resist second hand "finds." What a great premise! Add a dead body and some stolen property, and I'm along for the ride.

Emily might seem kind of thick when it comes to the intrigue around her. Usually I'm a little annoyed if I figure things out before the professional investigator does. But that's the thing: Emily is a grade school teacher/closet organizer. She's not expecting to be surrounded by all these evil doings, so I cut her a little slack.

2. What did you recently finish reading? She Made Me Laugh by Richard M. Cohen. An entertaining memoir about the bitchy, bossy, funny, talented Nora Ephron by one of her closest friends. It made me sad that Nora's gone, because I would have loved to have read her take (and no doubt take down) of the Trump era. Daughter of Hollywood, what would she have thought of #MeToo? She was one of the first bloggers, now would she be on TikTok? Foodie extraordinaire, would she have bought a spurtle? 

This is one of those memoirs where I'm not sure if I'm fond of the book or the topic. If you were a fan of Nora's (and I adored her), you'll love this book. Beyond that, I don't have anything objective to say.

(Yes, Nora was Hallie's big sister.)

3. What will you read next? Non fiction.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Of friends and film

My friend John has always been a massive fan of Miss Diana Ross. So am I. It's one of the first things we bonded over when we met in 1981.

Naturally, when I saw that TCM was bringing Lady Sings the Blues back to theaters for the 50th anniversary, I asked him if he wanted to go. He invited two other friends that we knew back in the olden days, Gregory and Vanessa.

John was not having a good day, physically. He needed his cane. Sometimes he gets fatigued easily and has trouble walking. He was also in a very grumpy mood. 

"A mask through the whole movie? It's 2 and a half hours!" Do germs only fly through the air during coming attractions?

"Now I've got to get out my vaccination card?" He grumbled, balancing his backpack and rifling through it. What did he think that sign out front -- MASKS AND VACCINATION CARD REQUIRED FOR ENTRY -- meant? 

I went full-metal Mary Poppins in the direction of the ticket taker. "We're not mad at you, of course," I bubbled. "It's just hard to get used to the new normal. Then, once we get used to it, all the mandates will be dropped and ..."

John realized what I was doing and was apologized to the kid. "I'm sorry," he said, "I'm a grumpy old fart. It's not you."

It made me sad that my friend John is that grumpy old fart with a cane. I remember him dancing from night into morning. He's the one who was bored with the latest trend before I even heard of it. He's just a year and a half older than me and he needs a cane. 

But he did love the movie. I was sitting next to him. I could tell. After the movie, we stopped for a drink in the bar across the way. Vanessa, Gregory and I were almost in the booth when we saw John ambling over behind us. The cane, and not being able to find his vaccination card in his backpack.

But when he joined us, he said it was "exciting" to see the movie starring his "girl" and that he couldn't believe it had been 50 years. Then he added that he also couldn't believe that the four of us have known one another more than 40 years. He thanked us for sharing it with him.

Last night, before bed, he sent out a group text, saying that he remembered the last time all four of were in the same room: his 40th birthday party. More than 25 years ago. He reiterated that he feels "lucky" we're all still in his life.

Yes, I love the grumpy old fart.


Sunday, February 20, 2022

Happy as a hog in slop

Yes, that's me right now! I'm watching the 2.5 hour special on The History Channel about Abraham Lincoln. How much I love Illinois' favorite son! It's produced by Doris Kearns Goodwin, who loves Abe, too, but doesn't deify him. This show puts him in the context of his times. It's enormously cool to hear President Barack Obama -- also of Illinois, by the way! -- refer to Lincoln in New Salem as "a young man on the make." 

Parts 2 and 3 are on Monday and Tuesday  

Happy President's Day!

Sunday Stealing

Friday 5

1) What one event from your lifetime would you change if you could, and why? The relationship I spent my 20s on. I'm not sorry I knew him, because I learned a lot. I'm not sorry I loved him, even though he didn't deserve my heart, because you don't regret love. I am sorry I stayed as long as I did. Everything I learned through the end of that relationship was dark and ugly.

2) If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and how old would your younger self be when they got it? Do you think your younger self would listen? I didn't start taking myself seriously professionally until I was in my 30s. I think that was a mistake. I'm not sure my 20-something self would have listened though. I was all about HIM when I was in my 20s, so there wasn't much room for me.

3) If you could have a conversation with the historical figure of your choosing, whom would you pick and why? What would you talk about? JBKO! I have so much to ask her! First of all, she spent time with many world leaders, from Winston Churchill to Donald Trump. She was there for so much history. What was The President really like? What was the White House really like? How did she maintain her sense of self while enduring international scrutiny? Where did she get the courage and grace to live her own life, by her own rules? Did being in publishing have an impact on her love of reading? I could learn so much from her. She could also be very funny. If Nora Ephron is my fantasy older sister, JBKO is my fantasy best friend.

4) What's a safety rule that's very important to you? Having the vaccine and booster. There's a toxic myth that wanting everyone vaccinated and boosted makes one "a Karen or Karl." No, putting the rest of us at risk because you insist on indulging your own sense of imaginary grievance is what makes one "a Karen or Karl." Get over your whiny self and get the shots. Take off your tinfoil hat, at least pretend you have a conscience, and protect your community.

5) What would you like to say to people in the future? There's a Bible verse where Jesus advises: "Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for me." I'd share with them that there is true joy in doing for others, in looking out for others. (Which includes getting the vaccination and booster.)

6) What's your favorite dish to bring to a summer cookout? Berries and grapes. Everyone likes them, and no one remembers to bring them.

7) How much time have you spent outdoors this week? Not much. Either I was too busy working or it was too cold. I miss going for walks.

8) Where do you set your thermostat? This time of year, I don't. In this condo, either the heat is all the way on, or it ain't.

9) How did you learn to swim? My mom was big on this, and I'm grateful to her. We went to a lake every summer and she worried about drowning, so when I was in 3rd and 4th grade, I took swimming lessons through the park district one week each summer for two summers. Swimming was required in high school, too, but I got out of it by pretending  to have my period. (My hair!) I was able to swim the length of the pool in order to graduate.

10) How do you avoid overheating? Drinking water.

11) What are you going to do this weekend? It's Sunday. Most of the weekend is in my rearview mirror. I'm going to the movies this afternoon with friends. That will be fun.

12) What’s your favorite way to spend time? Book, TV, movies, cats.

13) What’s the most useless thing you own that you would never get rid of? I have empty (never used) shampoo bottles in the closet in my den. It was the first product packaging I ever did, it was such fun. Now that my career is just about over, I'll never need these bottles to get another job. And if I did, I'd make a digital record of them. So they're useless. But I'm still not ready to part with them.

14) Have you started planning your next vacation? My next vacation is in about 70 days and it's already planned. I'm going to the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. I've got my pass, my flights and my hotel reservation. I still need to book rides to/from the airport, but I want to make sure my flights don't change.

15) Are you very active, or do you prefer to just relax in your free time or is it one and the same to you? See #12.


Friday, February 18, 2022

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy) 1972

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

1) The lyrics tell us that every Sunday afternoon we can find Roy at the racetrack. What are your plans for Sunday? John, Vanessa and I are going to see Lady Sings the Blues on the big screen! It's the 50th anniversary of the movie that introduced a much younger Gal to Billie Holiday, and all three of us are massive fans of Miss Diana Ross. Plus, it's been too long since we've been together.
2) Roy is fearless behind the wheel of his '57 Chevrolet. But it's just natural to feel fear every now and again. What scares you? I have a serious fear of flying.
3) Roy's been photographed grinning with a toothpick in his mouth. Do you often use toothpicks? If so, do you carry them with you? Never use them. When I was a little gal, I recall restaurants had big bowls of them near the register. Two toothpicks wrapped in cellophane. I haven't seen that in decades. I wonder why. Are toothpicks no longer in vogue? Is it too expensive to give them away?
4) Legend has it Roy learned to drive fast when he ran moonshine out of Alabama. Moonshine usually refers to illegally produced whiskey. What was the last alcoholic beverage you drank? I had a margarita with dinner last Friday. I'm not much of a party girl these days.

5) This week's featured artist, Jim Croce, attended Villanova University, where he played in a band that performed at fraternity parties. When his band was chosen to tour Africa as part of a cultural exchange program, he was excited to learn his host countries' customs. Have you ever traveled overseas? What did your trip teach you? Right after high school I visited France, Switzerland and Germany. I remember thinking the Swiss are just so smart. Walking around we heard German and French spoken, and everyone seemed to understand me perfectly when I spoke English. I wish I was more proficient at languages. It would open my world up so much.

6) Jim met his future wife, Ingrid, at a party. They discovered that they both loved Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie. Tell us about one of your friends, and what you two bonded over. My newest friend is Elaine. I met her through movie group, so our love of classic film brought us together. We're also both doting pet parents. My late cat, Reynaldo, sealed the deal. Elaine so looked forward to Rey crashing our Zoom movie Meet Ups.
Rey was always by my side, no matter what I was doing

7) Early in their marriage, while Jim was working hard to launch his music career, Ingrid helped make ends meet by baking bread and canning fruits and vegetables. Do you have any frugal cooking tips or "cheap eats" recipes to share? I bought chuck steak and found it rather tough. I usually marinade beef using barbecue sauce, but I didn't have any. So I improvised using honey mustard salad dressing. It was very good! Lent the beef kind of an Asian flavor. Since chuck is affordable and I got the salad dressing at The Dollar Store, this was the very definition of "cheap eats."

8) In 1972, Mark Spitz became a sensation, winning seven Gold Medals for swimming. After making money in endorsements and TV appearances, he settled into a career as a realtor in Los Angeles. Are you contemplating a change in residence anytime soon? Nope.

9) Random question: Which of these "top ten" lists would you prefer to be on -- the sexiest, the smartest or the richest? 20 years ago, I would have said sexy. 10 years ago, I would have chosen smart. But now?


Yeah, it's the salt

My former coworker, Warren, lives his life on Facebook. He posts at least once a day, every day. Two posts this week captured my attention. First, on Wednesday afternoon, he went to lunch at a new (to him) bar. He had a bowl of clam chowder with bacon (which looked delicious) and, according to his receipt, a hard seltzer and a beer. That's two drinks at lunch on a Wednesday afternoon. It wasn't a special occasion, he wasn't celebrating anything. He just enjoys spending time in bars, and the best way to get good service is to run up a tab.

Then yesterday, he posted that even though he takes his blood pressure medicine every day, his numbers are worrisome. He took us on a tour of kitchen cabinet and showed all the cans of tuna and vegetables and the jars of peanut butter he's going to throw away because they contain too much salt ... and clearly salt is at the root of his bp problem.

I don't usually engage Warren on Facebook because he makes me sad. For all that he complains that he is lonely, that he is always broke, that he feels lost and adrift, he doesn't really want to change his life. For all that he says he wants to "serve God," he has refused my help to match him with a local charity because he simply doesn't have time. He does, however, have time to hang around in bars several nights a week for hours at a time, buying drinks for people half his 54 years who don't take him seriously. I can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. I'm learning that.

But this! Throwing away an entire cabinet of tuna and gravy and green beans! No! Food insecurity is such a big deal here in Chicagoland. More than 760,000 of our neighbors here in Cook County lack consistent access to the food they need for 3 meals/day. I simply cannot sit back and watch someone throw non-perishable food away. I had to call him out on that!

I advised him NOT to throw the food away. Why not just not add salt to it when he sits down to eat it, and then be more careful reading labels next time he goes grocery shopping? After all, he's always complaining about being broke (I didn't mention that he spends more on booze than food) and that stress can have an impact on his blood pressure. I advised him if he must get rid of these canned goods, he should donate them, not toss them.

When I had his attention, I recommended he take baby steps, make small changes and then celebrate them. "Reduce salt at each meal, walk more, limit yourself to one drink a day," I posted. 

Because let's face it. When you down two drinks at lunch on Wednesday, and you go to the bars every night, sodium is not the problem.

He thanked me for the advice. Let's see if he takes it. OK, I doubt he will. But I have to try.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #246

Thirteen posts from years gone by. I've been posting a long time, and I'm taking this opportunity to look back on my February 17 musings through the years.

1) 2021: WWW.WEDNESDAY. A year ago I was reading an Agatha Christie book. Much as I enjoyed it at the time, I honestly don't remember much about it a year later. (Except for the interlude on the cruise ship, I recall that clearly.)

2) 2020: "This is what I'm meant to do with my life." That's how my niece described her commitment to the foster parent program. She's a wonderful woman and I'm proud of her.

3) 2019: But you got to have friends. This was when I decided to no longer play any role in planning get togethers with Mindy and John. The three of us have been friends for decades and I love them, but after the night was over, I hated them. This dinner was the culmination of literally months of setting the date and changing the date, choosing a time and then changing the time, agreeing on a restaurant and then complaining about the restaurant. It's easier to love them if I let them handle these arrangements and I just show up at the (finally) designated time and place.

4) 2018: Meanwhile, in Chicago ... While the rest of the country was mourning the Parkland school shooting, we were reeling over a shooting at the Thompson Center. A policeman was killed in a federal building. In the theater district. Surrounded by courthouses. I still can't believe this happened. Literally, nowhere is 100% safe from fucking guns anymore.

5) 2017: So this is what all the fuss is about. I watched a legendary pre-code film, Baby Face, with my movie group. It's one of those movie I'd read about without ever seeing it. It really was pretty racy.

6) 2016: That wasn't pretty. Oh, this I remember like it was yesterday! An ugly condo board meeting, where our then-president was willing to have unit owners evicted if they couldn't come up with a $5,000 special assessment ($415/month). We didn't need the improvements recommended, they would have been nice but they weren't required for our safety. Mr. President wanted them because he was looking to sell in 2017 and they would enhance resale value. So he was willing to evict people who had lived here for decades for personal gain. I vowed that night to thwart him. I did! Now this I am proud of (as opposed to the despicable Gal behavior you will read about next).

7) 2015: More than a little ashamed of myself. Because I was stuck behind two old men, I didn't board the train until all the seats were full and I had to ride all the way downtown standing and holding the strap. I was resenting them mightily until I saw one of them was wearing an Honor Flight Chicago cap, which means these men were likely Korean War vets, old enough to be my dad and they'd served overseas. Not my best moment. A reminder that I can be a better person and should try.

8) 2014: Religion. Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I was reflecting on something my minister had said during his sermon, "All religious experience is private revelation." I agree with that. As I wrote then, "My relationship with God is joyous, life-affirming and private."

9) 2013: But I want it. Personal effects of Dave Powers, first curator of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and one of the late President's best friends, were up for auction. Among the items was the last birthday card 3-year-old John-John ever gave his daddy. I wanted to bid, to hold history in my hands like that, but I knew I couldn't afford it. (Unbeknownst to me that day, the card went for $17,000.)

10) 2012: Enough! I saw the Green Day musical, American Idiot, and the strobes gave me a headache. I believe this is the moment I felt old.

11) 2011: And people wonder why I keep vodka in my desk. One of my coworkers said something remarkably stupid.

12) 2010: Don't know if it's true but I'll take it. I took one of those Blogthings quizzes -- Which of the 7 Dwarfs Are You? -- and learned I'm Doc. BTW, Blogthings isn't there anymore.

13) 2009: Vodka, chicken fingers and American Idol. I'd been grumpy and tried to cheer myself up with carry out dinner and my then TV passion.

How often do you look back on your blogging history?

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.



Lessons learned

Over the summer I became enamored of The Dollar Store. I bought all kinds of things there and it made me happy to be so penny wise. I had to wait months to discover I was pound foolish.

I bought these adorable little shower curtain rings. 12 for a dollar! I didn't really need them, but what the hell. I replaced my plain solid white ones with the translucent new ones that closed with such a satisfying click. Fortunately I hung on to the plain solid white ones.

I discovered this morning, while I was swapping out the shower curtain liner, that that adorable translucent ones are ONE USE ONLY. That satisfying little click meant I couldn't open them. I had to break each one to remove the curtain and liner.

Now at less than a dime a piece, this wasn't a big loss. But it was disappointing.

There's always a bright side, though. Roy Hobbs was freaking delighted by the process of changing the liner. How thrilling to watch me stand on a stool in the bathroom! Rolling around on the old one before I could get it to the garbage was pure bliss.

We're now in our fourth month together. I'm happy to learn new things about him. He purrs while he eats and loves plastic more than any living being should. You should see him with a plastic bag! How I wish I got as excited as Roy Hobbs does.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022


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? She Made Me Laugh by Richard M. Cohen. This is a memoir of the author's friendship with writer/director Nora Ephron. I admit I can't be objective about this. I always think of Nora Ephron as the Big Sister I was meant to have, and so far (about 30% in) I haven't changed my mind. She's smart and creative, versatile and productive, but not perfect. She's ridiculously certain about things she was wrong about, and very bossy. I don't mind. Hearing the less-than-perfect things make me trust the wonderful passages more.

BTW, I learned that, while at Wellesley, Nora dated a guy who was attending Harvard Law: Stephen Breyer. Her life was so incredibly awesome.

2. What did you recently finish reading? My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle.  Oh, what a thrill ride this one was! The home of Atlanta celebrity chef Cam Lasky is invaded. Who is the Man in Black who is holding his family at gunpoint? Why did he target the Laskys? Did Cam's shady business dealings put his family at risk? Who could hate him this much, and why?

The family members are so well drawn. Wife Jade is our terrified narrator, resolved to do anything to keep her children alive. Beatrix is intelligent beyond her 9 years, but dangerously immature. 6-year-old Baxter is sweet, adorable and heartbreakingly guileless. How can they possibly make it through this ordeal? Belle's careful characterizations make this story all the more involving.

This is one of those paranoia-in-the-suburb books that makes me grateful to be a spinster.

3. What will you read next? I don't know. My TBR is growing by the minute!

I should say "yes" more

Friday night, I went out with friends. Kathleen, her husband Martin and I went to a local steakhouse. It's
old school -- lots of dark paneling, autographed photos of long-retired sportscasters on the walls -- but none of us had been there before. And the entree includes soup, salad and potato, nothing ala carte. I had prime rib with salad, French onion soup and baked potato. A LOT of food, and all delicious!

Even better, we had lots of lively conversation. I haven't spent time with them since September! It was wonderful to catch up.

This coming weekend, I have plans with John and Vanessa. I am looking forward to it. I haven't seen John in three months and Vanessa? I don't even remember the last time I saw her.

I used to find that "alone time" rejuvenates me. Now, after covid and the isolation that came with the pandemic, I've come to appreciate how being social nourishes me, as well. When people invite me out, I should say yes. I should initiate social contact more. It's time to start emerging from the covid cocoon.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Sunday Stealing

Stolen from the New York Times

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? If it could be a one-on-one, just us girls, I choose Queen Elizabeth. In 95 years, she has met everyone from Churchill to Gandhi to JFK to Joe Biden. She's knighted Sir Paul! The girl's got stories. She likely wouldn't spill them, but this is a fantasy, so what the hell.

I'd like to hear about Margo and Di

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? No. I'd looooove to be rich, but not famous.

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? Not calls, but I have been known to erase and rerecord a voice mail.

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? Sleeping in. No appointments, nothing I have to do. Taking a walk in the sunshine.

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? I sing with my shower radio every morning.

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? Mind.

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? Yes, but since it's secret, I'm not sharing.

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. I'm a barren spinster.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful? I'm reasonably healthy.

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? I love my parents, and realize they did they best they could being who they were, but let's just say big mistakes were made. My abuse was minimized to keep the peace within the family, and that decision has affected my entire life in ways big and small.

11. Describe your life in one paragraph. She tried.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? I'd love to effortlessly be more hip/cool. There's so much going on in pop culture I know nothing about and I should know this stuff for my job. But I don't care enough to learn about it. If I could just zap! have it in my head, I'd be delighted.

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know? Exactly how much it is going to cost to get this tooth finally fixed.

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? Many things. Haven't done them because I am inherently lazy.

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life? I've built a successful career without benefit of higher education, and I've maintained my integrity throughout.



Saturday, February 12, 2022

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Valentine (1997) 

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

1) In this song, Martina McBride asks what would happen if the sun refused to shine. How are the skies today where you are? Cloudy, but no rain or snow.

2) She sings of a dream she's had 1,000 times before. Have you ever had a recurring dream? I jump into the Chicago River by the Wells Street Bridge. I'm trying to save a black and white dog. The water is dirtier and colder than I expected. I grab the dog and hold him in one arm and wrap my arm around something metal and wait for the firefighters to rescue us both. I'm never scared, really. Just frantic. So much to do! I don't know if this dream is about saving or being saved.

3) Martina has published two cookbooks and appears on The Food Network. Two favorite recipes are for peanut butter desserts: peanut butter/chocolate cookies and peanut butter/butterscotch squares. Is there peanut butter in your kitchen right now? Nope.

4) Before she was famous, Martina sold t-shirts at Garth Brooks' concerts. Her husband worked on Garth's sound crew and she pitched in. Do you have any concert t-shirts? Yes. I have one from Sir Paul's 2002 tour that I wear often. I got it on eBay, where it was being sold cheap because of a typo on the back (Los Angles). Either no one notices, or everyone is too polite to mention it.

5) Martina headlined a gala at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC. As our nation's capitol, Washington has many buildings of historic significance. If we were to visit your hometown, what landmarks would you direct us to? Wrigley Field! It's earned national historic landmark status, and is one of only two ball parks left standing where Babe Ruth played. There is simply no better place to spend a summer day.

The scoreboard is still kept by hand. A man is in there, changing the numbers.

Since this is the Saturday 9 before Valentine's Day, we've got some questions inspired by the holiday.

6) Hearts are the symbol of Valentine's Day, so here's a little heart trivia: whales have largest heart of any animal. When we say a person is "big hearted," it means we think of them as generous. Think about the people in your life. Who would you describe as big hearted? My friend Mindy believes she is big hearted, so I'll go with her. She intends to be thoughtful, often she falls short because she gets busy, but I think intent counts for a lot.

7) It's estimated that 9 million people buy Valentine's Day presents for their dogs and cats. Have you ever purchased a holiday gift for a pet? Yes, but not my own. I include my niece's three cats and my nephew's cat and tortoise on my Christmas gift list. (FYI, Georgie the tortoise always gets a kiwi from me.)

8) Valentines to teachers are also big sellers. Did you ever have a crush on one of your instructors? Oh, yes! My English teacher, freshman year of high school! First of all, he was Jewish, and in the small town I grew up in that was exotic. Secondly, he had long hair, and when he'd scratch his head it seemed his hand would disappear into the mass of curls, which I found devastatingly sexy. Third, he was a good teacher, encouraging us to find parallels between pop culture and the classics. He left us after one year to go back to school and earn his MFA. I googled him and found that he's teaching drama at a college out east, married to a remarkably average looking woman, and (gasp!) BALD!

9) With the popularity of e-cards, fewer Valentine messages are sent via the USPS. What's the most recent thing you dropped into a mailbox? A check to The Tree House Humane Society.