Monday, August 31, 2009

Recycle Post (08/07): No Signs of Rain

In 2007 I created a compilation of photos to the song "No Signs of Rain" as a wish for all of our Cape Cod Vacations...this year we expect Tropical Storm Danny to bring some wet the first couple of days....but no signs of rain in our hearts!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recycle Post (9/07): Mouse in the House

Yesterday all of our friends said goodbye to the Cape and left my husband and I on our own in the Windy Gulch beach shack. We experienced a short period of empty nest syndrome, but soon settled into our own routine. Because we were only 2, we moved over to the attached "cottage" (a.k.a. converted garage) where in our first week LH had stayed and had successfully survived having a mousetrap bring a close to the life and career of a small field mouse who had taken up residence.

We had been in the cottage approximately 8 hours and I had given up on any hope of sleep in the torture chamber described in the Windy Gulch property brochure as spacious and airy bedroom. I moved out to the main room which consists of kitchenette, table/chairs, love seat and two twin beds. Lo and behold a small visitor skittered around the edge of the room and then disappeared into a small cupboard in the corner. Hmmm...I know we had emptied the trap of our furry this either a spirit siting or a relative.

The next morning, as I sipped my juice and watched the rolling surf from the adjacent deck, said Mouse once again made himself known, slowly zig-zagging across the wooden slats seeking a dropped crumb here and there. Whether it was the peace of the ocean surf or the resignation of a beach shack dweller finally accepting my surroundings, in my mind the phrase arose....The Mouse is Dead...Long Live the Mouse.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Recycle Post (8/07): Was That a Tsunami?

While on our annual vacation in Cape Cod...I scheduled a few favorite Cape Cod posts. My attempt to recycle some content...enjoy!

Yesterday we left our safe little harbor (Cape Cod Bay) and decided to take on the mighty Atlantic. Our thought was at ages 6 and 13 the kids could, and wanted to, handle a little extra excitement.

Fast forward through the packing the car ordeal, paying $20 for parking and schlepping across the public beach for a 4x4 square of sand. (You see the one great thing about the Windy Gulch shack is the private beach location on quiet bay).

We edged into the bone chilling water and squealed along with the kids at the pounding surf and undertow action. Thrilling, right? Well little 6-year old C wanted badly to try her boogie board in the surf. Aunt Wenderina was up for the challenge of showing her how it was done...almost.

I caught a wave that I swear was the size and speed of a tsunami. At the crest I looked down...way down...and as my mouth opened and an unholy scream squealed out, I thought this will not end well for me.

A few crashing waves and sandburns later my loving hubby rushed to my rescue sure I was going under for good.

I feel a little like Dorothy - no need to search farther than your own backyard for happiness. Lesson learned. Never wander away from a perfectly happy little least not without scuba gear.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby

Today my dearest love turns 43. I met him when he was 19, we married when he was 23, and this October we celebrate 20 years of married life. Hard to believe how fast the time goes. But it doesn't matter what the numbers say, he is a child at heart. And he keeps me young(ish). I give credit to his artistic soul.

For the first time in eight years we are home for his birthday...normally we are on the Cape, his favorite place. Tomorrow we leave and I know he is counting the hours. While we are gone, we are promising to disconnect from email, internet (including our blogs, his facebook, and all other webbish things), cell phone (except for emergencies), and all. I'm not giving up my iPod, but all other electronics are unwelcome for the next 7 days. If I've set it up right, there will be scheduled posts over the next few weeks, re-treads of older posts about vacations, the Cape, etc.
Enjoy...and see you in a week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pre-Vacation Rituals

For some reason, before I take vacation at the end of summer, I feel the compulsion to clear/clean my desk, route my files, dust and wash old mugs, etc. Subsequently, my departure from the office on the last day is a bit manic, crazed, and much too complicated.

It starts simply enough. I start to worry about how this ENTIRE PLACE will fall apart without me (yes, delusions of grandeur for sure). Then I think I need to summarize my current work in a memo with all my files totally organized and sorted and delegate out the responsibility. Then I send many, many, many emails to everyone and their brother notifying them of my departure. But the death knell comes when I attempt to put in my briefcase the few "must do" items before vacation. Inevitably something is hard to find and with every piece of paper I have to pick up, dig out, and move, I get increasingly frustrated. So I start to clean, and sort, and purge, and file.

Several hours later, I realize how much crap I accumulate and how much dust each piece of crap has accumulated. It really is astonishing how we fill up our space, our lives, our minds with so much unnecessary clutter.

But I do love a good purge -- whether it is closets at home, or my cluttered cubicle at work. And the big benefit is I return to a much cleaner space.

So now, you've seen the "before" pictures. But for the "after" shots you'll have to wait until my return. The camera is locked in someone else's desk and I need to get home and get some pre-vacation sleep.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beware Strangers Bearing Gifts

In the past two days I've been surprised to arrive home and find "gifts". Little boxes of things that I did not order that came without charge to me....or so I thought.

The first was a small sample product of skincare. Did my cousin - who works in the industry - put me on a list? Did I somehow get a free gift with purchase? Who gives things away like this? I dropped the samples on the counter and didn't think anything else about it.

The next day, a bigger box arrived and I opened it to find software for starting an internet business...hmmmm...I definitely didn't order this? Where is this stuff coming from?

I looked more closely at the invoice of the beauty products and found while the items were free, they charged me shipping. Then I read through the software agreement and found that even accessing their website could be seen as activating my account.

Hubby and I checked the internet and found both companies had complaints against them for "aggressive marketing". Then we checked our accounts and realized we had three unauthorized charges. Now, while those charges only amounted to about $23.00 in total, it's always annoying at the least, and alarming at the most, to see someone accessing your funds. We were also puzzled by the fact that my nickname was on the invoice and shipping labels, but our accounts all have my formal name? How did they get the nickname?

Our first call this morning was to the bank to cancel our debit card. Not tremendously convenient to have to do that 3 days before vacation, but we needed to nip it in the bud. Then I began calling the phone numbers on our debit statement.

Call #1: They wanted my phone number. I refused to give it. They insisted they could not look up the account without it. I said, I'll give you my name (rank, serial number), but not phone number. They settled for zip code and found the account. (The rep then snottily read off my phone number to me as if to say, Nah Nah, even though you wouldn't give it to me I have it hear anyway...bitch.)

They informed me that I had accepted an offer from "Platinum Rewards" on a phone call to my office number (aha! the nickname source becomes clear, as I always answer my desk phone with my name) that afforded me a free gas card or wal-mart gift card if I said ok to trying three products. (Note - I had three strange charges on my account). I insisted I had NEVER said yes to those offers. I typically refuse....and sometimes just hang up mid-offer. They said they would cancel my account, investigate the offer and have a recording of the call pulled. You can bet your ass I'm calling back in 10 days to hear that recording.

Call #2: A recording that their system is down, please call back later. And believe me I will.

Call #3: I don't even know what this company was, but they told me I had signed up for two service accounts. No I didn't. Yes you did. No, I really didn't. Yes you did. No, I'm telling you I didn't. Apparently they have a record that I received a call and accepted the offer. Nope, said I. Yes, said they. Ok, I said, there is such a thing as human error and there is such a thing as fraud. You take your pick, but I did NOT accept this offer. It's not human error and it's not fraud, was the retort. Well, then, I want to hear a recording of the call. (moment of silence). That won't be necessary, we'll credit your account. Victory. All for $4.95.

At this point my blood pressure feels like it is through the roof. But I feel a small sense of justice that I didn't just blow off the $23.00 but went after it like it was my LAST $23.00. And so, dear reader, my advice to you is beware of strangers bearing gifts. Stick to your guns, no matter how small the offense (or dollar amount). And kick some scamming butt.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Best of Intentions

I saw this post today at Chick's site and of course it made me sad. It also reminded me of something that happened many years ago.

I had a friend (we'll call her Kay) who desperately wanted children. Kay was so happy when she became pregnant shortly after she and her husband began trying. One day, when she was about six months along, the four of us were to have a couple's night out and go see Harry Connick in concert. Hubby and I received a call shortly before the concert that Kay wasn't feeling well and they had decided to skip the concert.

The next day I learned that she had lost the baby. Because of her advanced pregnancy, they had to induce labor and she had to deliver the baby. She and her husband were devastated. They named the baby (a boy) and in jewish tradition, buried him immediately. It was awful.

Another friend of ours (we'll call her Ella) wanted so desperately to find some way to reach out to Kay and her husband, to express her sorrow and to bring them comfort.

She...and I still cannot believe this....sent a balloon bouquet.

[pause for reaction]

I learned about it after the delivery was set and I so wanted to find a way to stop it and to explain to Ella what a huge mistake she had made.

Kay's husband was shocked to see a balloon bouquet appear at the door, where they were mourning. "WTF was she thinking!!!" Kay told me he shouted.

Then Kay's husband took a pair of scissors and proceeded to stab, pop, shred and destroy all of the balloons in a fury. When it was done, he was out of breath and quiet. After a moment, he turned to Kay and said, "I know I couldn't believe she did this, but her intentions were good, and actually, destroying those balloons is the best I've felt all week..."

So it goes to show, that even the most awkward and misplaced of gestures can be well-received by someone in pain when they know you bring the words or actions from the deepest part of your heart, where you are aching on their behalf and just want them to know they are not alone.

Rainy Days and Mondays

But then clear and sunny! (Fingers crossed)

Monday, August 24, 2009

T-5 days and Counting

Every summer, we return to our favorite place - Cape Cod, with some of our favorite friends - and have a waterfront vacation. This will be our 8th year in a row. For the most part, it has been a smooth ride. A few bumps here and there (I revolted last year and demanded we switch houses after I had reached my ant/mouse/filth limit with the old place), but all in all, it's a good time.

We are currently in the countdown period which we fill with shopping lists (I'm bringing the ketchup and mustard, you bring the bbq sauce...etc.), packing lists (how many suits are you bringing this year? are your beach chairs in good shape?) and of course, weather forecasts. We start with the extended 15 day outlook which usually has little resemblance to actual weather that far out. Today we're looking at the 10-day. It's been slowly improving (Hurricane Bill was a worry). You see, after one particularly bad weather year at the Cape we determined packing five adults, a teenager and a child together into one tiny house was not a good combination if there is no sunny beach to run to. Hubby #2 and I have a pact that if it sucks that bad, we're heading home...we'll leave the rest of the crew there.

While we return to the Cape every year, we've begun to shake it up a bit with the actual rental address. After 6 years at the same place (great Location, not so great accommodations) we selected a new site in 2008. The house was beautiful, well maintained, smelled good, and had no pest issues....believe me a BIG step up in addressing my pet peeves. But had some shortfalls in other issues in layout, privacy, and beach quality. So, onward and upward - we'll try this next address and see what we think.

2009 Cape Rental:

Hubby is VERY ready to go. In fact about two weeks ago he put up a sign on our kitchen door so that every day as we leave, he can cross out the number of days and subtract one. I can't decide if it is normal vacation desire, or the fact that this year Hubby has pieces in a current gallery show at the Cape Cod Art Association. I think he's feeling like a real artist with this acceptance. Of course, I've known it all along.

So T-5 days...can't wait!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dress Drama

"I wish you were here!!!!" was the wail I got when I answered the phone on Saturday.

"I am going insane trying to pick out this damn dress. Why, oh why did I want another wedding ceremony? Why didn't I elope and take the money and run??? Why Wenderina Why???"

Yup. You guessed it. Bridal meltdown.

I am the MOH in my cousin's wedding (her 2nd and I believe her last...either way) and after months of talking about stuff and thinking how much easier it is to do this the 2nd time after you learned what you DID NOT want to do from the first, we realize...we were totally fooling ourselves.

We still had to get a bunch of different size, different type, different opinioned women, and teenage girls (yeah...that wasn't too tough) to agree on dresses. Of course, after we all agreed, one of the ADULTS in the ceremony actually revolted and "requested" that she be able to buy a different dress in the same color. After I calmed the bride down from her homicidal temper (Does she remember what she made me wear? a strapless gown with my hair in an updo and my nails in a french manicure? I am a G-cup - strapless??? I have 16 lbs of hair - in an updo?? and I HATE french manicures....I never said BOO!) the rebel was allowed her dress and one of the other bridesmaids was also given leave to change hers as well.

Then came time to plan the shower. I asked each member of the bridal party to think about planning on $200/person for the cost of the shower (60 people to come) and we would also include the gift in that. End result: panic! They are all hurting for money. So, we cut it in half. Hopefully we can make it all work for that.

Let's not forget the men in this scenario. First, the groom is barely speaking to his three brothers right now and yet they are all in the wedding party. Then, the men are not happy that they are included in the whole shower fiasco. I keep trying to bill it as a picnic/party, but they aren't buying it at all. No alcohol is planned for the shower....I'm thinking this could be an issue.

Now the bride (having gone from a G to a C thanks to surgery, and down 30 pounds) is shopping for her dress. Did I mention the wedding is less than two months away? And she isn't happy. Not one bit. About the choices she is finding.

So after three phone calls yesterday and one today, some scrambling on the internet to try and see what she has tried on (since despite my begging she didn't take any pictures) I think she's closing in on a choice.

There is a reason that Lifetime has a couple of shows about this - Bridezilla and Say Yes to the Dress - there really is drama in the whole process.

God save me from EVER doing this again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Still Going...

Like the energizer bunny (but maybe with a few more stops, starts, and writer's block), I've been going at this blog thing for 2 years now. I often wonder who is out there reading this (if anyone), and what they might think of my random little life moments. But no matter, lurk, de-lurk...I started this for me and continue it for the same reason. It's an outlet, an interest, and a hobby that takes me away from my regular daily grind and forces me to take a look at my life from an outside angle at least a couple times a week.

Let's see if I can make it another blogoversary in 2010...hard to fathom, but time marches on.

Random Letters to the Universe

Dear Employee:

Please do not leave me a voice mail, an email, and an instant message all within 30 seconds with the message, "Please give me a call when you get a chance." Pick one medium and stick with it. I'll get back to you.

And? When I call you? Please don't use the time to whiningly defend why you couldn't do your job right. It does not improve your situation.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Hear that? It's your career dissipation clock and it's about to explode.

Your Boss,

Dear Bagel Shop:

You are wiley bastards. Not only have you figured out a cattle herding space plan that allows for 52 people in line in your 10x20 store space, but you have also lined that maze with every conceivable pre-packaged treat imaginable. I see exactly what you are doing, and yet I am helpless to resist, and must reach out and grab the muffin sample tray, the candied fruit, and the gourmet bagel spreads.

You should teach a class in successful marketing for a down economy.

In respectful awe,

Dear Al Gore:
I'm trying, I'm really trying. But this heat is a killer so my A/C will be running all day until it stops.

So sorry. Hopefully the fluorescent bulbs in every light in my house offset it a little.

It ain't easy being green,

Dear Calendar,

While I hate to wish my life away, please please please hurry to August 29th. I must get out of this office and find the beach right now.

Anticipating the Cape,

Dear Penny Kitty,

You are a potato head. At first I thought you were just batting the potatos off the counter and rolling them around, but since we found one on the 2nd! floor this week and you have now been observed carrying one around in your mouth, I'm convinced. You are truly insane.

And thanks for beating up those home grown tomatoes that were ripening on the window sill. God forbid that we got to eat anything so healthy and organic. You really saved us there.

Marley's got nothing on my kitty,

Dear Yaz Kitty,

There is no need to take after your young crazy partner in annoying me. I heard you meowing at me at 5AM even before you stuck your paw in my water glass and shook it in my face. Good thing you are cute or you might be out on your sweet little furry ass.

Sleepless in Suffern,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

(Not so) Skinny Dipping

Last night was the night I wait for all summer. The perfect blending of hot summer night, warmed pool water, and a quiet neighborhood. At midnight I stealthily exited my kitchen door and was pleasantly greeted by that night air so heavy you can cut it with a knife. I dipped my toe in the water and checked the temp...finally...after hovering around 70 for most of the season, a few hot days and nights in a row had raised it to about 78 degrees. With the air temp still hovering at about 85 it was the perfect difference to be refreshing and relaxing.

My nightgown hit the ground with a soft swish and I stepped into the pool. Gliding back and forth, the silence was only broken by the lapping water and the crickets call. All around me the fireflies were dancing and their glow was intensified by the darkened cloudy sky, providing the only light source except what softly spilled out from our windows.

I glanced over to the kitchen door and saw both cats silhouetted with their heads swiveling back and forth like a slow motion crowd shot at Wimbledon, watching me as I swam slow laps.

Everything was perfect.

Until I reached for a towel and realized I had none.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kitty Potato Head

We continue to adjust to our new cats and their quirks. My pick of the litter - Yaz - is the sweetest best kitty. She even let me cut her nails this weekend. She has her own stuff, of course, like any self-respecting female....but I get her.

Penny, on the other hand continues to astound and confound me. She enjoys chasing her tail in circles while I clean up the kitchen. She literally twist in a circle trying to bite her tail until she falls down exhausted. After catching her breath, she's up and spinning again.

Just being a kitten right? Just a little adolescent nonsense, you say. Insanity I fear.

Today, I came home and spied what looked like a large rock in the middle of the living room floor.

After cautiously creeping up on it - I couldn't believe my eyes. Can you tell what this is? Can you guess what large rock-like object Penny had stolen from a bowl on the counter to play with? It's pretty obvious from the title I know.

What am I going to do with this cat?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Separate but Equal

This post is not about what you think it is about. This is about one day. One day in a solid and happy marriage. Specifically it is about this Saturday in my marriage.

When we awoke on Saturday we saw, an unusual thing stretched before us. A found day. Yes there were errands to run. Yes, blackberries needed to be monitored. But the sun was shining. Work needs were less than anticipated. And we had no real obligations except to our own purposes. We sat eating breakfast and thought about what we wanted to do for the day.

Hubby was keen on finding a cave called the Stone Church and photographing it. Wenderina was focused on finalizing her bridesmaid duties by ordering dress, slip, sash, shoes, and then checking out some end of summer sales for seasonal clothing.

We went our separate ways and promised that the first one headed home would take care of picking up groceries for dinner.

For a day spent completely separated - by 10AM we were both on our way in opposite directions - I felt very in tune with Hubby. It was a cheerful and relaxing day for both of us. By mid afternoon we figured out I was closest to grocery store so I took that on. Hubby arrived home after 5:30 and took on the cooking duties while I lounged by the pool. We sat down for dinner and talked about our day and it was lovely.

I thought about how the day might have gone if one or the other of us had been dragged into the agenda of our spouse for the sake of spending some found time together. I doubt it would have ended so well. So even though we spent many hours apart, we were equal in our enjoyment and in sync with one another.

I accomplished my goals - the dress and duties are done. Hubby accomplished his (check out his photos!). And in the end we came together to share the happy results of our day. Sometimes separate but equal works.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More Shoe Stuff

You doubted my story, I know you did...but the proof is right here in this photo! Since my boots went the way of used kitty litter (literally), I'm now trying to find out where the "worn once" pair this visiting dignitary has on are hiding in our office.

Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Put on Your Red Hat

A friend introduced me to a new restaurant which is destined to become a favorite location for me. It's pricey...of course...but unlike many waterfront restaurants, it doesn't rely upon its river view but stands on its own merits. I'm speaking of the Red Hat Bistro in Irvington-on-Hudson, NY.

It was a Monday night and about 95 degrees in the shade at 6PM and yet the restaurant's main room and bar were packed. I soon realized why - the service, the food, the ambience, and the jazz trio were exquisite. Put all together with a nice dinner out with a good "new" friend, and it couldn't have been a better night.

I enjoyed a house special (fresh squeezed) Cosmopolitan. So Yummy. Then decided on a meal made up of two separate appetizers. A simple spinach and endive salad with sliced pears and a crabcake. Simply delicious. In between courses, perhaps because my dining companion knew the owner and used to have her own restaurant, we got little mini samplers of appetizers. The asparagus and prosciutto was spectacular and I don't even like asparagus or prosciutto! Together they were a perfect blend of flavor and so so so...well...yummy. At the end of the meal we split the profiteroles and enjoyed a cup of tea and watched the thunderstorm work its way down the Hudson River. Great show through the large floor to vaulted ceiling windows overlooking the waterfront and the Tappan Zee bridge.

I simply can't say enough about this great restaurant. If any of you are within driving distance - I highly recommend you take some respite here - even if only for a drink on their rooftop bar at sunset. Quite the show that mother nature puts on, when you bother to set the theater up just right for her.

In the words of Julia Child, so much in my mind these days, "Bon Appetit!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Julie and Julia

Ok. I don't know where I was when the Julie/Julia Project blog was birthed and gave life to a writer's career for Julie Powell, and I don't know where I was when the blog grew into a best selling book. But the movie finally woke me up.

Previews for the movie got me interested in the story and I found myself at the bookstore and couldn't resist picking up a copy of the book. Like most blogs (and most books that come from blogs) it was unrelentingly self-absorbed. Duh. I mean we are writing about ourselves for the most part, unless we get lucky enough to get paid to write about something else that people want our opinion on. But there was something in the way Julie Powell acknowledged her self-absorption (and tendency toward hysterics) that helped you get past it.

I blew through the book in about 4 days (even with the hordes of relatives visiting my house...okay so it was only 4 adults and a 2-1/2 year old, but you know, that fills my house to the brim) and I really enjoyed it. I was particularly touched by the honest way she portrayed her relationship with her mother - far from a major part of the book, but it resonated with me. Acknowledging the stressors between the two women, but appreciating that nagging comes from caring (regardless of how it is delivered), advice comes from love (regardless of if it is wanted), and in the end, if you can step back a moment, you can admire the woman who is your mother/daughter and be thankful of what she has brought to your life.

The relationship Julie has made with her own mind's construction of Julia Child is kind of like a mother/daughter model as well. Julia Child represents some kind of guiding light to her through her life's choices and her cooking. The moments in the book when Julie feels she cannot live up to the expectations of her role model, and also when these shaky character constructions come tumbling down, are some of the most poignant.

We all, as bloggers, even if we don't have the INTENT to be writers, still must admit to the smallest of hopes that we might be discovered for our talent and whisked out of our hum-drum every day existence. We feel we are putting ourselves out there and we just know, even if we're only getting a few comments a day those commenters represent dozens or maybe hundreds of non-commenting lurkers. Julie Powell is living our non-specific and ill-pursued dream. From dead-end job to literary giant. From obscurity to fame. From sad, depressed, self-obsessed blogger to entertaining, witty, self-supporting author.

As I sat in the movie theater watching Amy Adams play the role I wondered what Julie Powell must have thought on her first viewing. It must have been a totally surreal experience. Is she prepared, I wondered, to become the "Julia Child" to someone else's Julie Powell existence? It must certainly be a side effect of her transformation that those (we?) frustrated self-indulgent bloggers will now see her as the model for their (our?) own escape. But the odds are against them (ok, us!). I mean, really, we need to face the truth. There is probably less chance of a discovered and sustained success story for a blogger/writer than there is of winning the lottery!

In the meantime, we continue to search for meaning in our writing, for models and examples of other more exciting lives, and for escape. I just hope, in the meantime, we remember that Julia Child and Julie Powell certainly had their own challenges in life, and while they may have risen to fame through their cooking and their writing, they aren't really so different from us. They likely had/have disappointments, frustrations, fractured dreams, and unfulfilled wishes. And wanting to be them - in their most bright and famous moments, could make us forget how good it actually is to be just who we are - blogging here - self indulgently - every day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Moms' Birthdays

Yes - that's right, it's not a typo - I meant Moms to be plural. Both Hubby and I have mothers with a birthday on August 5th. (Like it isn't enough to figure out how to fairly split holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother's Day - we have to pay attention to August 5 as well.)

Luckily, neither Mom pulls us in one direction or another and my Mom in particular is happy to make the trek to our house each year so we can all celebrate together.

This year, Mom arrived the day before her birthday and we teased her unmercifully about the last night of her 60's. Yes, my Mom is now a septogenarian. I can only hope that when I am 70 that I am in as good a shape. What does this septogenarian talk about? She talks like a 40-something like me. She worries about her weight, she talks about meeting friends for weekend trips and dinner, she is meeting with contractors to get new windows and siding for her home. She wears clothes cuter and trendier than mine. Other than the fact that she still refused to get her ears pierced (some kind of phobia), she is pretty fearless and is talking about trying parasailing in Florida this winter.

My Mother in Law? She is like the smart and savvy IT person in your company who is always reading about some new gadget and figuring out how to make it work. She knows more about the latest electronic toys and tools than I do AND knows how to use it. Other than helping her in digging the hole, she has worked on her own and built, stocked, and cared for a complicated Koi pond in her backyard that is a showpiece and requires some significant engineering and horticultural skill to maintain. The woman can barely see out of one eye, yet she can paint a pretty watercolor and read blogs and internet content for hours.

Of course we do not always see eye to eye. Have you ever known children and parents who do? But I have to say, I won the lottery on having women to admire as my Mom and Mother in Law.

Two active, interesting, smart, savvy, ladies who raised a couple of great kids (if we do say so ourselves)...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


This morning I awoke to the return of two journalists who had been held in captivity in Korea for the past 4 months. While initially the coverage was like watching paint dry as the stewards carried luggage up and down the jetway stairs, when the two women emerged and embraced their families my eyes began to leak. And I felt like I wouldn't be able to stop it. Every time I dashed away an overspilling tear, more rushed in.

Are you familiar with this syndrome? Where something touches you - something so not of your own life, family, or situation - and you cannot stop the emotions flooding through you? I've always been a sucker for this. I think this first came to light during the movement of emotional commercials on TV. Remember the Kodak memories commercials? Or how about the Coke and a smile series where they sang, 'I'd like to teach the world to sing..." One of the worst was that damn Folger's commercial with the guy comes home from college and makes coffee surprising his family at Christmas. And did all of that really start with the old Indian crying over pollution? Any one of these can still start my own personal water works show.

I am THE person they make tearjerker movies for. No matter how bad the movie, if there is a dramatic turn that is meant to pull the heartstrings, they will find mine and the eyes will tear and not stop until I allow a full-blown cry.

Most people who know me in person wouldn't guess this.


A little manic?


No (I don't think...)

But I am.

I can curl up with a horrible romance novel or an Oprah book club pick (although mostly I bypass those because they are truly depressing, not just emotional), and be transported. Recently I picked up an audio book series by an author I like and realized in the first chapter it was about vampires. Not my usual fare at all. But there was romance, drama, time travel, and I was hooked. Soon I was tearing up as the sidekick was bitten by the vampire and had to suffer a horrible fate worse than death (blah blah blah blah blah...) I know - sounds awful doesn't it? I mean who gets dragged into these things?


So now you know the dirty little secret of this hard-nosed marketing professional workaholic English major. I seek trash in books, movies, tv, and even commercials - and I leak...a lot.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A woman and her shoes

Last week, one of the VPs came to us with an odd question.

"What size shoe do you ladies wear."

Boss Lady and I exchanged a look and then I said...

"Whyyyyy??" (severe elevation of tone at the end of that one word question)

Blushing, he replied, "Well, I have to take a woman from [Merger Company] to a site visit and safety rules require that she wear hard soled shoes. She didn't bring any with her and I was hoping you might wear the same size."

Men don't get women and shoes. They don't get the fact that most women would NEVER loan out their shoes. Even ugly hard sole hiking shoes. They are OUR SHOES you know?? Also - asking a woman her shoe size - unless she is a perfect sample size 7 or smaller is like asking her weight or her age. Who's f-ing business is that anyway???

But, ever helpful Wenderina took a breath and proclaimed proudly, "I'm a 9...well maybe a 9 1/2. Ok....mostly I'm a 10." (and not in a Bo Derek kind of way).

"Good - she's a 9...that should work...can you bring in some shoes."

Well now I'm boxed in. Boss Lady had raised eyebrows and I could hear her projecting into my mind - "You got yourself into get yourself out."

Needless to say, I didn't get myself out of it. So I came home, dug out my hard-soled hiking boots and realized they were dusty and grimy. I cleaned them and since they were a little damp put them out in the sun to dry.

This was a fine plan, until I went to sleep Saturday night and awoke to a Monsoon on Sunday. I grabbed the shoes and dried them with a towel and left them to dry....again. By Monday morning - the day of delivery - they were still damp but I determined leaving them in the car on a hot sunny day would quickly finish the drying job.

I reported to the VP I had, in fact, managed to remember the shoes and we could transfer them to his car later that day.

(you just know there's a kicker to this story right....oops no pun intended)

When I went out to my car later that day I opened the door and WHOA NELLY...I was knocked over by a noxious odor. I opened the bag with the shoes and took one out - it seemed fine....then I took the other out....

HOLY CRAP....or HOLY PISS is more like it.

Something had pissed in my shoe.

I debated about how to get out of this rather embarrassing situation. I had already reported I brought the shoes in. So - honesty was the policy of choice.

After relating my story, VP said, "Um...ok...I guess I'm going to Payless."

Why didn't I suggest that in the beginning? I don't know. But since he got ME to bring in my shoes...I said, "Since she's only wearing them once, you can bring them in and I'll take them when she's done."

A woman and her shoes, you know?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cooking Up a Storm

The title of this post was inspired by both today's horrific weather as well as two other timely media inputs to my life - the first the rapidly increasing commercials for Julie and Julia - which looks absolutely fabulous (thank you as always Ms. Streep) and the hilarious post today by the Matron over at Minnesota Matron.

Like the Matron, I was lucky enough to marry a man who cooks, and cooks well. Also like the Matron, I do not...not at all...or at the very least not at all well. When Hubby was doing the work/school thing and was rarely home, I was known to survive on several nights in a row of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or maybe a can of Campbell's soup. Unlike Julie and Julia, I neither have the desire to learn to cook a different dish every day, nor do I savor good cooking enough to excel in eating or ordering it. I'm usually about the convenience. Is it in the house? Can it be cooked in 15 minutes or less? Do I know all the names of the ingredients? Can it be savored sitting on the couch in front of the tv or is a tablecloth required?

In fact, one of the toughest questions I face each day is Hubby's email at mid-afternoon.

Re: Checking in.
Hi Babe - how's your day going? Any thoughts on what you'd
like for dinner tonight?


Can you believe I married a man who is willing to not only cook whatever I ask for, but also stop at the store on the way home and get any missing ingredients he might need, and I dread answering the question of what I want to eat?

I'm resolved, after reading the Matron's post and catching some of the reflected inspiration of Julie and Julia, not to mention feeling after nearly 20 years of marriage, Hubby deserves a break, that I will start to study cook books.

Don't get excited.

I will not be cooking.

But the least I can do is improve my ordering, right?

Next time he asks the question? I'll be ready with a more inventive answer.

How about Pretzel-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce p. 146 in the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking Made Light cookbook. A spinach salad would be a great starter or side with this. Dessert can be just some simple berries with a little vanilla ice cream.

Then maybe Citrus Snapper with Orange Relish (p. 126, same cookbook) and some wild rice and cucumber salad on the side. Dessert could be fresh orange sherbet.

Perhaps Grilled Chicken with Grapefruit Salsa (p. 144) and some skewered veggies with balsamic vinegar. Dessert can be vanilla pudding with a dash of whipped cream.

And yes, Pork and Pear Saute with Lemon Vodka sauce (p. 109 Five Star Recipes from Weight Watchers) would go very nicely with an old fashioned iceberg lettuce wedge salad. Dessert could be a lemon sorbet.

Take that Julia! It may not have the butter content you would advocate, but I'm salivating already. Hope Hubby's ready for the challenge!