Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Read My Pin

This week on NPR, there was a fascinating interview with Madeleine Albright about her new book and the museum exhibit that accompanies it. The book is "Read My Pins" and talks about how she used lapel broaches to portray her mood, or a subliminal message when conducting her all important functions as Secretary of State.

I was immediately charmed by her stories -- how Sadaam Hussein called her an "unparalleled serpent" when she pressed him on his refusal to coöperate with weapons she wore a gold serpent pin to their next meeting. Apparently he and his staff got the message and a tradition was born.

"I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal," Secretary Albright has said. "While President George H.W. Bush had been known for saying 'Read my lips,' I began urging colleagues and reporters to 'Read my pins.'"

Today, I was headed to a meeting with the MERGER integration managers...folks we believe have our collective career destinies in their hands, and we can't quite get a beat on them. In fact, many times we find ourselves in adversarial positions with them when we want to push forward a communication or initiative, and they want to take a more...well...deliberate pace.(more like a pocket veto)

Taking a cue from Madeleine...I dug out a costume jewelry broach I had that would suit my mood and project the right subliminal messages. It kind of looks like an olive branch (actually , it looks like milk weed...but it is "in the style of" an olive branch). I was projecting peace and team spirit all day.

I wonder what Madeleine would say though, when at the end of the day I looked down and my little costume jewelry broach was bent nearly in half.

Read my pin.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Small Curiosities

What does Yoplait do with the returned yogurt lids?
Yes, I know they donate 10 cents per lid, but do you ever wonder how they decided to use returned lids as the source of collecting support for charities? Is there a financial benefit or reuse option for them in returning the foil? What happens to all the lids?

Why do (most) men fail to clean up after meetings?
I've left many a meeting room at my office wondering how it is that men always seem to assume there is some cleaning fairy that follows them around removing half-empty coffee cups, used napkins, plates and silverware, soda cans, etc. Not to mention unwanted handouts or meeting materials. Yet, (most) women clean up their own space in the meeting and often the men surrounding them. What's up with that?

Why is time not constant?
I'm sorry but regardless of all laws of physics, I KNOW that not every hour is equal. I've had hours last forever, and some go by in a snap. Today, for example rushed through until 2 PM then stopped DEAD. Is someone messing with the space-time continuum?

Why can't an avid reader like me meet book club deadlines?
It seems no matter how much I'd like to be in the book club, or how enticing the book is, the minute it is (gasp) "assigned reading" ....I'm dead. The book never gets read, or only painfully. Meanwhile, put me in a room with books and I'm a happy clam. Why does a formal invitation change that?

Why does tap water taste better in alternate packaging?
I'm a fan of tap water. I have to be. My company always says that if you go to any major city in the U.S. there is a 1 in 5 chance that we had a hand in the safe drinking water being provided. However, for reasons of mobility, sometimes I have to get bottled water. I typically save the bottle (for a short time...) and refill it with tap water. Why does it taste better from an evian bottle than it does from a plain old paper cup or glass?

Just some stuff that's been rocking around my brain of late.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The cheese has indeed been moved

So I may be the last corporate being in America to read "Who Moved My Cheese"...and probably would never have read it except for my required reading for school. [Yes I am returning to the campus this weekend to continue my quest for my master's degree....] Other than the fact that my (soon to be) 3 year old nephew's books have smaller typeface (seriously, environmentally, this could have been put in a 3 page memo) the simple messages were excruciatingly apt to read right now.

As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows...I'm in the midst of a MERGER....I like to type MERGER in all caps because it raises the volume of that word. Plus, our MERGER company puts their name in ALL CAPS I'm getting used to the Caps Lock key.

If anyone ever wants to experience cheesy movement....just try a MERGER. Especially as the staff of the smaller part of the merger (in essence the ACQUIRED), we are still trying to see if they are even going to let us in the maze at all or if our "new cheese" lays outside the maze completely.

If you are change averse, as I am, this book is an uncomfortable read...because, you see, only 3 out of the 4 characters survive. The two who immediately embrace change and probably saw it they just shrug and move on...and the one who eventually faces his fear and learns to find fun and adventure in searching for new cheese. The solid reliable satisfied character....yeah, you guessed it...he slowly starves in his old corner of the maze too afraid or stubborn to seek new cheese.

Because it is a simple parable meant to illustrate a point it of course doesn't get down to the brass tacks of how one might be expected to pay for the running shoes you need to chase new cheese, or the upkeep of the leaky roof on the resting hut outside the maze, but I guess that is all part of the adventure, right?

There are days, mind you, where I figure the change outside the maze can't be much more disruptive than the change going on I'll try to keep my eye on the cheese as it

I really do not want to be the skeleton found amongst the dust in the back of the maze.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blog Roll, Please

I've never quite taken to the RSS feed or Follower function of blogging. It would certainly make my life easier rather than clicking through each link on my blog roll, to catch up on my reading via my centralized email box or follower page. But then I'd miss out on seeing people's home sites, and to sometimes surf around and read earlier posts, and maybe check out their bloggy friends too.

Lately, I've noticed my blog roll is a little light on content, considering how much surfing around to sites that I do, and that some folks who are still on my list haven't posted in like 5 it's time to update my roll.

So if you are a lurker and have a blog, please be sure to let me know. I'm going to update my list and I sure would like to read what you're up to these days.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Conversation with Grandma

I first met my Grandma-in-law in 1989 or 1990 when I was dating Hubby. I can clearly picture her sitting at the kithen table describing how she had climbed up on the roof the day before to adjust her tv antenna. She was a spry 72 years old at the time I believe. (Note: I wouldn't climb up on my roof even then, at the ripe old age of 20!)

In the course of our conversation, she said, you're from Rochester NY right? I nodded yes. "Well," she said, "I just read about these women in Rochester protesting about how men are allowed to go topless in a city park but that women would be arrested for public ludity." (I think she was combining ludeness and nudity here).

I braced myself for a typical wise elder lecture about the morals of today's young women and the shame of my generation.

Instead Grandma said, "If I were just 10 years younger, I'd be out there with them myself." (Reminder...that would make her 62).

Grandma is not much herself anymore. Today, her spirit manifests in alternating bouts of temper, in imaginary relationships and flirting with men, in regressing to youth, and in uncensored blurting out on any topic. But the source of that roof climbing, topless wanna be soul is still there, hanging on, for dear life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Facilitating & Communicating

I was reminded today of how I described myself and my job to a colleague several years ago. My job is facilitating and communicating, I said. What the hell is that?, was her reply. (She's such an engineer....) I'm all about skimming across the surface of everything my engineering and science brethren do and trying to connect the dots. How does this technology connect with that client issue? How does the person in this cube bring something to the team three states away? Has this project manager ever heard of this computer model we built in Saudi Arabia that might solve his problem in Tucson? Does HR know they don't need to hire someone with this skill set because we have someone not fully utilized in another group? Need someone who is fluent in Arabic to translate something - I know who they are.

Some of it is within the function of my job...some of it just comes my way by virtue of the number of meetings I attend, databases I access, research I conduct, conversations I have over lunch or dinner, or just those water cooler moments. And you know what? I like this part of my job. It's definitely the most intersting and rewarding.

There are a lot of parts of my job that I find tremendously less rewarding...and less inspiring...and I've just had several days in a row where that has been the case. On these days I get next to nothing done (shhh! don't tell payroll or they might dock me some pay). On a day like today, packed from edge to edge with meetings though, I actually accomplished alot. And I'm energized. It's sick, I know. My friends here roll their eyes and zone out at meetings, but I admit it. I'm a meeting junkie. As long as people in them are not totally painfully stupid, and as long as I don't come out with so much to do that 24 hours a day becomes a work schedule, I can always learn something and put it in my back pocket for that next facilitating/communicating moment.

Today I had a meeting with my VP and our CEO. We were kind of tossing some things around, regrouping on tasks for the next couple of months, and trying to prioritize our attention. At one point, we were talking about a service offering we are trying to get our arms around that is so big and touches so many parts of our organization and so many types of clients, that we are struggling. We have lots of talented and smart people sitting around the table on this topic once a month and not getting anywhere. It needs a leader...a service CZAR if you will. CEO and VP were stalled on what to do next and decided to postpone our next scheduled meeting as a result. Then I threw out an idea which I thought might have gotten me laughed out of the room, but it was worth saying. What, I asked, if we ask all these smart people to come to the next meeting and make a brief pitch as if it was their call on how to take this service forward, how would they do it? I know they each have a very distinct point of view based on their current roles, but let's push them to think about everything we've talked about in the last four meetings and broaden their outlook. Based on this the CZAR may just be identified by the person in the room with the best ideas and the most enthusiasm, or at the very least, maybe we'll get some ideas on how to move forward gleaned from selected ideas from each pitch. To my surprise, they seemed to like the idea.

See that? That is rewarding. Coming up with an idea that just might get us moving instead of treading water. Maybe I'll actually be able to facilitate and communicate my way up the ladder of this organization. They do say that C-students are more likely to get to the executive level than A-students....maybe that's also why they call it the C-suite! I knew my lazy grades would serve me well someday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How (Not) To Use Social Networking

I admit it. I love blogging. Even though I often feel I have little or nothing of interest to say, it's a healthy outlet for my random thoughts. However, I hate Facebook. And since the thing I hate most about Facebook is the constant itty-bitty items on the status...I've assumed I would detest Twitter. I feel the need to at least try for a story - with a beginning, middle (hopefully a story arc) and an end. Typing, "I'm baking cookies but I'm out of eggs!" is not worth the time I took to type it and certainly not worth your time to read it. Also (and I've said this before) if one more person sent me a virtual anything (snowball, plant, cocktail, etc) I was going to lose it.

Since I'm in the communications and marketing field, I see tons of articles about how to use social networking tools like a blog, twitter, facebook, linked-in, etc. to further your company's (or your own professional) goals. So far, we've tried to make use of some of these tools...putting together a little blog on our public site from people who are working internationally (promoting our new "global" reach), another little blog about a series of workshops and its findings to share with participants and clients at large, maybe a few e-newsletters, etc. Some staff have indicated an interest in having a blog for our intranet, but since no one is stepping up to manage it or moderate ain't happening. So to date, we really haven't found a way to efficiently and effectively use social networking as a tool.

Right now, social networking is much more of a distraction at work than a communications device. It seems whenever I walk the floor I find people on facebook, blogger, or playing that bejeweled game (you know who you are...) And in fact, when I'm particularly frustrated or roadblocked with something, I've been known to jump on blogger too and read a few sites, type up a quick post...none of which is helping me get out of work any earlier.

Because not everyone understands how social networking actually functions, we have had some interesting pops on our Google alerts. Just recently, a senior manager in the firm we have merged with, decided to TWEET:

{COMPANY} COI [conflict of interest] is driving me crazy.

Since it was our company name in the tweet, Google Alert picked it up and delivered it to our PR person. Scanning down the other Tweets put out by this person she discovered derogatory comments about our clients and the regulatory agency too.

Can you say clueless?

When confronted about this (which we actually had to force the issue on since the company we merged with doesn't have a social networking policy) he was rightly mortified as he thought the tweets only went out to his immediate contacts.

If there is one thing I've learned, it's that there is no real anonymity on the internet. Another reason I hated Facebook is I joined with my full, real name. I mean I was hoping to find some long lost friends, so why use some pseudo-name. But because I linked it to my gmail account that is also linked to this blog, suddenly people were friending me and saying, "Hey - you must be Wenderina..."


So people, please. When you blog, when you tweet, when you facebook, when you Link-In...know that everyone knows what you are saying. My HR department now does a full search of these sites with every resume they consider before the interview. If you've got a picture of you drunkenly peeing in the parking lot of your favorite bar...they'll see it. If you've lambasted your boss and co-workers in a blog, they'll probably find it. If your status reads, "{Company} called me for an interview - they suck but I need the job" they'll know it.

Get a clue. Or get a disclaimer.

Wenderina is a totally fictional character. She does not work for {Company} nor does she reside anywhere near Suffern NY. Any resemblance of Wenderina or her stories herein to any character, real or fictitious, is strictly coincidental. And don't sue her. She ain't worth squat.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Existential Cubism

This morning I sat and noticed how few emails (other than those spammy sales offers) I was receiving. I worked on some other items on my list, caught up on reading Advertising Age and Communications World, reviewed my list of ABC 123 items and updated, had a meeting with colleagues, etc. All the while, my email was fairly quiet. Then, I proceeded to start emailing out some information, some requests, some notes and I noticed my email started popping like mad. For every email I sent, 3-5 came back...and suddenly it dawned on me...I am the source.

I wonder if I refrain from emailing how long it would be before my email became totally quiet. What if I only met with people in person? What if I returned emails with phone calls? What if I didn't generate any email myself? Would I become less effective? Would I fall off the radar and therefore off the career ladder? Would I be happier? or just disconnected?

Similar to that age old philosophical question, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? What about if a corporate manager works without email, does she exist at all?

Friday, September 18, 2009

ABC 123

Several years ago, I took a course on time management and was taught the Franklin Covey ABC 123 tool. Essentially you must make a list each day of everything you have to do, then prioritize it as A (must), B (secondary), C (can wait... but still a to-do). Then each A, each B, and each C is given a sequence of 1, 2, 3, etc.

It's a supremely simple idea. It should work. However, the course said in order to truly make this process work you must:

  1. Only answer your phone or voice mails at certain times of the day.
  2. Stay focused on each task and complete it, delegate it, or process it as far as you can before moving to the next item.
  3. Close your door and don't allow interruptions.
  4. Never allow someone else's A to displace yours. this, I ask you, a real-world situation? My phone is constantly ringing, my voice mail light constantly flashing and my email constantly popping. Usually it is someone higher up the food chain than me that is trying to reach me. Do you think it is really feasible to "disappear" for long periods of time?

Stay focused on one task? When was the last time your workplace, or more importantly your wandering mind allowed for this kind of single-minded thinking?

Close your door? What f-ing door? Do you not know we are all in cubicles at best and with the latest space-saving movement, many of our workplaces are reduced to desks with half-walls around them. If it weren't for ear-buds none of us would be able to focus at all!

And just so you know, everyone else's A displaces mine on a daily basis. Refer to my food chain comment above.

I particularly loved it when the instructor said, "And don't be seduced by those quick to do items that may be lower priority but are easy to complete."

Lady, I wanted to scream, if it weren't for those things I'd never be able to put a damn check mark on my freakin' list.

So for those of you who can follow ABC, 123, I envy you...and I also believe that you also have a bridge to sell me in Brooklyn.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Lula!

One of my dearest friends in the universe turns 49 today.

Can I get a "Woo Hoo" for Lula?? (gorgeousness on the left)

Today she is embarking in the last year of her 40's and I'm totally in awe of her. She is a successful single lady with a real love of life and enthusiasm that just won't quit. Are you heading to a social event somewhere and you don't know anyone? Feel uncomfortable entering a room of strangers? Take Lula. Within minutes she'll know half the people in the place, be learning their life stories, and be totally engrossed in their interests. Years later, she will call you and say, "What is up with so-and-so, is she still tie-dying all her kids clothes?" You, of course, will not even know who she is talking about even though so-and-so used to be YOUR colleague.

Lula surprised us all this year when she showed up at our Cape Cod rental looking svelte and adorable and halfway to her goal weight (we didn't even know she was trying!) and looking 10 years younger than her actual calendar age. Professionally, she is kicking ass and taking names in an industry that is suffering in the recession. Personally, she is fascinated by everyone and everything...genuinely...and sucks the marrow out of life.

Recently I was listening to an episode of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" with guest Paula Dean. Paula Dean giggled her way through the entire interview with a soft southern accent and a giddiness about life in general. She happily told the audience how she was making burgers one night and decided that the perfect roll to serve them on was not a potato roll, but a Krispy Kreme donut. As I laughed along with the interview, I wondered why I found this woman so endearing, when I suddenly realized - this was my darling Lula in chef form. Lula is someone who can tell you a story about a bat trapped in her house for 30 minutes and never bore you, in fact, you'd better be wearing your Depends, because you may honestly be peeing your pants by the time she is done.

I love her tremendously and hope she is always around to fill my half-empty glass (with vodka or whatever), keep my cynical viewpoint in check, and make me laugh at life's general foibles.

Happy B-day're the best.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flashback to Junior High

I love it when another blogger triggers a long forgotten memory. Today, it was Erin's post on school projects. While I have wiped my memory of much of my school days, I have to say a few moments truly stand out.

My English teacher in 9th grade required that we all do a book report on a biography. At the beginning of the term, we all had to pick a historical figure to read about. Once we had completed the book, however, she switched up the assignment. No simple book report for us, oh no. I began to tremble as my fear of public speaking asserted itself...please no oral report I prayed, please please please.

Well, my prayer was answered....sort of.

Instead of an oral report we were required to partner with someone else in the class. We would each dress AND act as the subject of our biography while our partner would act as a journalist conducting an interview. To improve upon this hideous assignment even further, it would be videotaped. I can only assume it was to be added to that mysterious "permanent file" to be pulled out and laughed at for all future generations of teachers and administrators.

I? was Mary Queen of Scots. All I remember about this assignment was putting a lace curtain on my head as part of the costume. I have blanked out the rest. But worse than my situation was another scary biography. Someone in my class had actually selected Hitler. And this someone actually found (or maybe made??? it's very fuzzy) a flag complete with swastika.

I guess in the overall scheme of things it was somewhat creative of our teacher to go this direction. It certainly meant we needed to understand our historical figures and almost literally put ourselves in their shoes...but I still classify it as cruel and unusual torture.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Land of the Aging Disco Queens

Ever wonder what happened to the hot to trot Disco Queens and Kings of the 1970s? Those truly passionate about the dance and disco movement could not have given up their spandex so easily could they?

I'm here today to tell you it's true. They are still out there working the dance floor.

I've discovered their lair and it ain't pretty.

Saturday night while catering to the Bride-to-be's desire to party and celebrate the end of her Bachelorette status (the sequel), a bunch of 38-52 year old women found themselves wandering from club to club amidst scantily clad 21? year old chickies and the boys that drool over them. After opening a club by arriving at the way to early time of 9:30PM...we tried to adjust our ears and our voice volume to compensate for the pounding beat of the dance clubs. What did I learn about dance clubs of the 2009 era? There is no variety of beat. The key is to keep every single song on the exact same beat...if you can do that and vary the songs and artists, ok, but if not- no worries. Today's dance club patrons will tolerate "Pump it up" once every 20 minutes, no problem.

Having been dubbed the "quilting club table" by the comedian in the earlier comedy club activity...we definitely felt our age creeping up on us in this setting. Of course, seeing one 38 year old adventurous bridesmaid in her jeans and cotton t-shirt bump butts with some strangers in sparkly spandex on the dance floor when "I like big butts" came on was one hysterically funny highlight, but all in all, we felt a bit out of sync with the crowd.

It was suggested by someone in the group we head to another club that catered to the 35 and over crowd. Sounded good to us.

But within moments of arrival, I realized that this was even worse. While the other clubs had felt too young, there was still a sense of familiarity that reminded us of our younger exploits....this club was downright frightening. Women and men much much over 35 were gyrating to a mix of music that included the same dance tunes we had just left behind along with returns of Saturday Night Fever, Jackson 5 and a highlight - THRILLER - which seems to be spanning the generational divide. I stood with my mouth hanging open and my arms firmly clenched against my sides as severely aging disco kings and queens milled around me - many of the scary predator looking kings were checking us out with interest. We were, after all, the youngest in the room.

Now I know I'm a tight-ass. I know I'm a bit of a prude. I know I can be judgmental and like to climb on a soap box. I know I prefer a good book and a quiet night at home to an ear-splitting drunken binge night out. But I am telling you, that any one in their right mind would have been terrified in this space. Well...unless you are a sociologist studying the effects of high decibel music and too tight spandex outfits on the Baby Boomer generation. If you had this rare occupation, you'd be in heaven.

I observed one particular "babe" in the harsh lighting of the bathroom. While I waited my turn to go in, I watched her primp at the mirror. She wore a black clingy jersey dress that barely covered her upper thighs and had spaghetti straps at the shoulders. Her back was humped - from too many nights at a bar stool or a calcium/bone loss situation, I'm not sure which. She flipped her bleached (with Clorox?) blond hair over to fluff it and whipped it back, nearly toppling in her 5-inch spiked heels when she came upright. After reapplying the several inch thick make-up, she took off her bifocals and hid them in her rhinestone studded purse. As she turned I noticed that the lack of bra straps allowed for her breasts to swing free and low....what a mess.

She was later observed bellying up to the bar and a few fellows including a Don Johnson wanna be in a white linen suit with loafers, no socks, and a baby blue stretch t-shirt. Honest to god. If you wanted to make a movie about folks trapped in a time warp, this is the place.

So, if you want to observe this yourself, head on over to Taylor's on Monroe Avenue in Rochester NY. It is truly the land of the aging disco queens. And if you are frightened by what you see, don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Pace Quickens...and the Bride Awaits

I returned to work today and within 30 minutes, while I was still smiling and tan, I definitely was back in the grind. The difference is, after a good 10-day break off the grid (I didn't even check my email or voice mail once!) I felt much more patient and prepped. Even when I learned that my meeting on Wednesday was moved from my home office to one downtown in Manhattan (ugh), I calmly checked train schedules and made my plan and didn't really sweat it.

Tomorrow is the 2nd day of my 2 day week before I head off to play MOH (matron of honor) for my cousin's bridal shower and bachelorette party. (ugh x 10). Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my cuz...but I really am too old for this crap.

Tonight I was spending my commute home checking in with bride, bridesmaids, and best man. Bride was excitedly telling me how she is looking forward to this weekend, anticipating getting her dress fitted, still searching for the perfect shoes, and working hard to collect all the photos she needs so I can put a compilation video file together for the reception. The best man offered what help he could with shower (it's a jack and jill at bride's request) and I assured him showing up and writing a nice check was help enough. And the bridesmaid told me a hilarious story about going in to try on her dress and having the seemingly teenage bride at the next mirror say, "Oh my - you look so pretty in that dress - are you the MOTHER OF THE BRIDE???" The bridesmaid then told me, "Ok, so I know I'm a little older and a little heavier, and ok, maybe a little greyer, but Mother of the Bride? I could have broken that little teeny-bopper in two for that comment!" (I told you we were too old for this crap.) Our mantra has been, "If it were anyone but Suzie we'd never...."

In typical Wenderina anxiety mode, I'm wondering if my big brother (the one I'm NOT on speaking terms with) will show this weekend and what kind of uncomfortable scene I can anticipate. 99% of the time I am so happy with my decision to remove his drama from my is only this 1% of the time when I wish I was still playing the act of the loving sister to his craziness just to get through the family event. I'm sure I would still approach the interaction with some dread, but maybe a little less anxiety over what might be in store.

Thank goodness the entire event is only 3 least Part 1. Part 2 is the evening out with the bachelorette. Since 4 out of 4 bridesmaids will not be drinking that night (1 pregnancy, 1 definitive non-drinker, 2 designated drivers) should be a pretty sober evening. We're starting with a comedy club which will hopefully lighten the mood. We're ending (hopefully not in the wee hours) with not my thing.

Could I be much more negative do you think? God, what a needy whiney bitch I can be. I just got back from a fabulous vacation, I have only a two-day work week, and my complaint is that I have to party with friends and family this weekend? I need an attitude adjustment for sure.

Spiked bridal shower punch anyone?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Already Planning Next Year

So we're back home again and already thinking about next year's trip to the Cape. We loved the new house and location in East Dennis right next to Sesuit Harbor. Tropical Storm Danny took a few hours off our week in the sun, but also blew off the coast quickly and took all the dreary clouds with it. We had what most locals agreed was the best weather week of the summer.

We spent the first day tackling a jigsaw puzzle all together and I was happy to say that while I did go to bed at midnight while the crazy Coach stayed up until 3AM determined to get it done, I was there for the start and I was there for the last piece being placed. And FYI, it wasn't done at 3AM by Coach it was done with a team effort at about 12 Noon on Sunday.

I didn't take nearly as many photos this just all seemed too relaxed and perfect and who wants to be hiding behind a camera instead of joining in the fun? But there were a few moments I captured of week and some of the beauty we observed.

Coach - King of the S'mores.

Deserted beach tools

Loved this worker's truck full of rusty and well used tools.

The requisite sunset shot.

And just before we left, I was checking the camera and managed to capture this shot. It looked like my kitty had overdosed on drugs in anticipation of our departure. Luckily, she thought better of it. We're looking into feline therapy for her.

Back to work in the morning....and then the bridal shower and bachelorette this weekend...woo hoo (read my total lack of enthusiasm in both of these agenda items...)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Recycle Post (O8/07): Sailing

Today we joined our Windy Gulch landlord in a sail across the bay. He is an experienced sailor, but we are not, so we trusted in his ability to give direction.

When we got to the boat, I began to learn a little more about Mr. S. and his penchant for cheap fixes. (I already had a bit of a feel for this in the shack). He showed me how he had taken the plastic tops from a non-dairy creamer and a cool whip container to create watertight covers for his gauges. "why pay $100 for this when I can add a little duct tape and caulk and use something for free??"

So, my trust was wavering a little - was this boat held together with duct tape and caulk?

Our first attempt was aborted by a lack of wind, but the 2nd day we had luck with a lovely gusting northerly wind that pushed and pulled us across the bay. Some of the gusts felt like we could tip over, and I had another moment's pause when our captain went below and put on a life vest...but didn't offer us any...but the adventure turned out to be a highlight of our week.

Afterwards we enjoyed cocktails and snacks with Mr. and Mrs. S. on the bench that overlooks the beachwalk back at Windy Gulch and we were reminded why despite all its faults, we continue to return to Windy Gulch each year.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recycle Post (08/08): Card Sharks

One of our favorite things at the Cape is playing cards. In the past, it's been adult time - after kids are safely ensconced in front of TV/video, or dozing in their beds we break out the deck and play King Rummy, or Hearts, and rarely Poker. But this year the games of choice seemed to be driven by the 7-year old cutey of our group and we were all about Crazy 8's...and of course...the age old favorite - Old Maid.
It's all about the shuffle you know.

And sometimes you need a little help with sorting the cards, and Daddy's there to cheat...I mean help.

Only two players..."I don't have the old maid...I wonder who does Aunt Wenderina?"

The matches are piling up...

And in the end...someone has to be the old maid.

Don't let that face fool you...she was a good long as we were willing to play again.
Shuffle up and deal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Recycle Post (8/08): Wordless Wednesday

These images are from our base in Sandwich MA...our Cape Cod location of 2008...I'm scouting new photos this year and can't wait to post them when we return...until then, enjoy this re-visit of last year's images....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Recycle Post (08/08): We're On Our Way to the Perfect World

This is the phrase Hubby sings in a childlike cartoon voice every year as we head to our annual vacation on Cape Cod. He swears it is sourced from some Hanna Barbera moment with all the characters on some kind of flying ark running around the world on a mission to save the environment. Seems to stir vague memories for me...but I'm not always sure with him.

But I must agree with the sentiment...whether it is the fact that we are on vacation from our stressful work lives, or that we are traveling with some of our best friends in the world, or that we are heading to a place where the light is crystal clear and blue-gold, and the sea is within earshot from every window, or that sun, salt, sand are all washed away in an outdoor shower as the cool sea breeze ripples across your skin. Or maybe it is all of the above. It's time for us to return to the Cape...not just any Cape, but THE Cape - Cape Cod, MA.

This is our 7th year at the Cape with our friends, the 3rd year with the addition of Lula - our favorite Chicagoland resident - but our first in a new house. We decided the ants, mice, and other detrimental factors of our old beach house rental were getting to be too much to take for the money we spent.

As always, you have trade-offs. Our friends got a king-size bed (rather than the twin cots they used to have), but it is in an open loft above the kitchen...which makes for a difficult early morning for them when early risers want coffee. The beach is only steps away - with a much shorter staircase - but it is rocky and tough on the feet. The house is pristine, clean, comfortable, beautiful, but has 6 houses surrounding it within chatting distance and people walk by our windows all day and night in access to the beach.

So - we are doing what any modern professionals would do (jokingly), we're building a spreadsheet of pros and cons, and looking for the perfect house for our perfect world.

In the meantime, we're having fun, as you can see:

If you've got a rocky beach, make rock sculptures...

Making the most of a beautiful bright kitchen.

Close-set houses? We call it a courtyard. Great for sharing a snack with friends.

And kids need so very little to be happy as clams...with clams...

And there's always those quaint shopping locales that give you
as much occasion to photograph as to buy.

And it is only Day Two.

The Perfect World Indeed!