Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's a Marshmallow World

And while I could be talking about my thighs, I'm talking about the unexpected blizzard currently blowing outside my window.  We checked the weather last week, knowing we'd be on the road Friday and Sunday and not much was said except there was a storm that would probably be out at sea to the east of us.  We proceeded with our plans and had a lovely, if whirlwind holiday weekend.  Arrived at my childhood home at 3PM, exchanged gifts with Mom and Uncle and by 4PM were at my cousin's for a nosh-fest and more presents, and then by 6:30PM were at church for services and (more importantly) to hear my favorite soloist and childhoold friend belt out "O Holy Night" better than Pavarotti.  By 8:30PM at my best friend's house for more food, more presents, more visits, and more fun.  Home by 11:15PM, asleep by 11:30PM. 

Saturday morning we checked weather again and heard a little bit of accumulation might occur late Sunday night.  By 11AM we were headed to another cousin's and arrived in time to watch all 5 of their kids, and them, opening about 1,000 gifts.  (You can tell my cousin and her husband both work in retail....they've been shopping since August.)  They had TWO trees!  Count them two.....both in one room (telling you how big their living room is.  And one of the trees was no less than 15 feet tall....honest...I'm not exaggerating!  We took no pictures, of course, but we ate like we hadn't eaten in 4 days, and had a lot of fun smashing months worth of visiting into a few short hours.  We were back at Mom's by 7PM - since our hosts had retail duty starting at 5AM today.  When we turned on the weather, we heard the accumulation might be greater, but probably starting late afternoon. 

Everything changed in 12 short hours.  This morning we woke at 7:45 to hear the words BLIZZARD WARNING!  So, instead of staying at my mom's house until about noon and having a leisurely brunch before getting on with our 6 hour drive, we hightailed it out right away.  In fact, I think we may have left skidmarks on her carpet we ran out so fast.  (Sorry Mom!)

Mom, ever the realist, wanted us to be safe more than anything, so she packed us a survival bag (water, laughing cow cheese, granola bars, and at my gentle reminder - a box of christmas cookies!  She also threw in a blanket.  The roads were so clear and light on traffic for 4/5ths of the ride, I was starting to wonder if this was another case of media hype, but we hit the 50 mile from home mark and it started coming down and the traffic started slowing down and the reports of local accidents started ramping up.

Home before 3PM and we realized it was perfect timing.  We unpacked the car, backed both cars tight to the garage (unfortunately our 2 car garage is too full of storage to get either car inside right now...definitely need to do some more freecycling and sorting). Brought in our glass patio table (yes, I know, should have been done months ago) and promptly built a roaring fire in the fireplace.  For the last 30 minutes I've been watching the snow coating building up on my office window since it is blowing horizontally, and I've also been watching the cars skidding up and down my road (get home people!)

We'll deal with tomorrow and digging out and getting to work if we need to, but for tonight, it's a toasty fire, frozen pizza, one purring kitty, and cable movies.

Hope your holidays were merry and you stayed ahead of any blizzards in your life (real or metaphorical) as well.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have a Bowie-Crosby Christmas

I enjoy this duet every year.  It seems to be a polarizing pick your side...but it's my favorite.

Merry Merry

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The End of an Era

Today we bid good-bye to a colleague of ours. She had been with the company for more than 35 years.  Considering how much I know I have slowed down since I started there 20 years ago, at age 23,  I was always amazed at her continuing commitment and drive at the office.  You see, the Doctor (as we called her since she is a PhD in Archaeology), turned 86 years young this year.

I wish I could say that this was a celebration moment.  I wish I could say that she was heading off to new adventures and a life of well-earned leisure.  Instead, it was a difficult business decision that we as a management team had to make.  With the MERGER in full gear, and the pressures mounting on reorganization, we had to look at our little family with a clear business-only view.  No longer could we have discussions about how to provide the Doctor with work suited to her intellect AND age.  No longer could we use phrases like, "But she's been here forever, it doesn't cost much to keep her on..." We had always hoped someday she would come in and say...."I'm done.  I'm satisfied.  Life here has been good, now it's time to move on to the next phase of life."

Instead we had to give her the boot.

It was all done with grace and dignity, a nice comfortable departure package, some advanced notice, and with as little attention as possible, as was her wish.  She insists she will be looking for a new job in the new year.  She will not rest easily with idle hands.  I wondered as I listened to her if we are all destined to make that mind shift.  When do you think we change from the people we are most of our working lives - dreading getting up in the morning and stressing over the day, wishing for that one big lottery ticket win - into the person who doesn't want it to end.  I see it happen so often.   And yet I can't imagine wanting to stay at my job one minute past the absolute necessary time I need to see the financial road clear.

In the end, she didn't want a lot of sentiment.  She didn't want a party.  She barely wanted to say good-bye.  And those of us she did talk to, privately and quietly as is her way, understood.  We understood as we held her hand and cried a little ourselves as if we were hearing the news for the first time.

And in her typical fashion of laughter and charm, she gave me a hug today and said, "Onward"....I've heard her say that so many times with a jaunty fist punch in the air and her 4' 10" trim body bounding down the aisle, it seemed almost like any other day.


I watched her walk up the aisle of cubicles today toward the door - for the last time as one of us.  She was bundled against the cold and pulling her shopping cart on wheels filled with some of the last items from her desk.  It was just about the saddest thing I've ever seen.  And even though I was 100% behind the business decision...the pure human side of me - the side that saw my longtime colleague and friend departing not only her place of work, but her place of community - that side of me cried.

We all swore today that we would stay in touch.  We'll have lunch.  We'll visit.  We'll call.  And I hope we will.   But we all knew that something shifted today and it will be all too easy to just let go.

I stopped at her desk before leaving tonight and touched the books she left behind.  A gargantuan old dictionary that she had zealously guarded for the last 20 years, swearing the newer dictionaries we got for her were simply not as accurate or complete.  The books on technical translation for English to Spanish and Spanish to English that helped her get through multi-lingual documents written and read by engineers and scientists.  The rule books on grammar and style that she could probably recite by heart.  I smiled a little to see the ream of paper that she used to raise the height of her monitor.  That ream looked like it was the same one she must have plucked out of the supply closet 15 years ago - wrinkled and stained - but it would be unlike her to find a reason to replace it with a formal stand or even a fresh ream.  It was still doing the job.  Still just the right height.  Why would she need anything else?

Then I stepped outside her cube and pulled her nameplate from the wall.  No one else had done it.  No one else would want to.  But I needed it to be an empty cube now.  Not the space the Doctor was supposed to occupy.

On Monday we start again.  And we'll be a little less because she is gone.  The end of an era.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In the Spirit of Giving

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
~Maya Angelou


This is the time of year charities count on the "Christmas Spirit" to open up our hearts and our pursestrings and support their noble activities for the entire year.  Food banks typified with bare shelves 11 months a year, suddenly find their stores overflowing.  Homeless shelters are bombarded with individuals, groups, and companies wanting to help.  From clean water, to housing, to canned goods, to toys for tots....they are all on our list at this time of year.

Every year for the past several years, when we finally started to realize we had too much for one household, we give a little back.  We sponsor charities at work - Water for People, Toys for Tots, NY Cares Coat Drive.  We stuff dollars into fireman's pails at intersections, uniformed Salvation Army volunteers' pails at grocery stores, and every jar at every store counter we come across.  We pay forward the grocery store gift cards we've received from my husband's company as an employee bonus.  We try to buy gifts from organizations that donate some of the proceeds to other causes.  We sponsor letters to Santa from the Post Office - we've given bikes, video games, coats, underwear, jeans, etc.  We select a charity each year and give a little extra - Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, The Cancer Society.

At other times of the year, when asked, we give.  Joey's boy scouts. Timmy's ride for the cure.  Susan's walk for the cure.  Alice's candy sale for the school trip.  Denise's dress drive for prom night.  We participate in the back to school clothes for kids program, giving book bags and new clothes and shoes to needy kids to help them enter their new school year bright and shiny like the other kids in their class.  We've donated to veteran's causes in honor of our military family members, past, present and future.

I don't tell you all this to take credit for the giving.  Because to tell the truth, I'm the needy one.  I'm the one who needs to feel a little less selfish, a little less self-absorbed, and even a little less lucky.  I need to even the playing field as I look at more and more families with education and loving family backgrounds being driven into poverty and desperation.  I need to know why my family survives and thrives while others fail. 

This week, other blogs (Bloggess you rock) got personal with their donations.  They asked people in need to just say the word and those in better stead, stepped up and fulfilled that need.  I came late to the party - all the needs on that list were satisfied.  I still signed up, late is better than never.  Because I know it is a thin line that we all walk today.  A very thin line between having and not.  Between healthy and working and sick and not.  Between sheltered and not.  Between lucky...and not.  If you read the Bloggess post and don't cry....I can't possibly relate to you. 

In the store the other day, a woman turned to me, her basket full of toys, clothes, gifts, and said, "Do you hear that song? It's the most wonderful time of the year? It's the happiest time of the year?  Bleh.  It's the most expensive time of the year."  I smiled and moved on, wondering about how we all forget how lucky we are that we can afford to fill our shopping carts. 

Today I got a holiday card from my Aunt.  In the card she wrote this:

"Dear Wendy and Carl,

What I would have spent on your gifts, I bought a truck, mittens, and a hat for the 4 year old boy in the L.L. Bean family (charity).  He will be a happy little guy.

Wishing you a healthy, happy Christmas and New Years.

Much love from
Aunt Marge"

This is already my favorite gift this year.

Take a moment today - a few days before the solstice, a few weeks after Hannukah, a short week before Christmas and look around you at every blessing you possess.  It's a little early I know, but I'm starting my long list of resolutions for 2011.  #1 on the list is Find Ways to Give Back.  And that means throughout the year, not just at the holidays.  If you have ideas for me, please let me know.  I'm looking to, like the Bloggess and the Grinch, grow my heart a few sizes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good Day, Bad Day....Typical Day

These days at work the MERGER is really chapping my butt. 

Every day as I drive to work, I wonder how much of the day will be good and how much will be bad, but I know for sure it won't be all of one or the other.  One of the VPs here relayed a comment from an outside consultant who was initially engaged (and subsequently dismissed) to help our two companies manage the integration.  The consultant talked about the Mood Elevator.  "You're up, You're down, You're on top of the world, You're down in the dumps....that's integration." 

So true.

Of course I can't get into specifics here in this public forum, so all I will say is.....


As they draw in the funny pages when a character has less than complimentary things to say.

Today I had a great meeting that brought people together from both sides of the organization to dicsuss a joint marketing and communications endeavor.  Good ideas on both sides.  We learned things from one another.  Nothing was defensive or difficult.  It was a high point.

But at the exact same time, other conversations (via email, text messages, etc) were ongoing about a wholly different activity that felt like a nuclear bomb was going off at my desk.  Fully territorial.  Fully adversarial.  Turning me into the person throwing my hands up in the air and giving up on a reasonable response.

Good day....bad day....riding the elevator.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Perspective at Kohl's

So the other night I had to return to Kohl's because two gift cards I had purchased mysteriously disappeared.  I think they never made it into my bag....but no one turned them in at the who knows. 

Anyway, on the way there I had a catch-up call with a dear friend.  This (anonymous by request) friend and I caught up, had a few laughs, and then she delivered some news.  Some health news. Some news that makes you stop and think.  It is treatable.  It has a great prognosis.  But it is one of those moments where you stop and say, "Damn, and I was worried about x,y,z....let's stop that and just think positive thoughts about her and about how lucky I am today." 

I sat in the parking lot with the engine running and the snow flakes flying and listened to her relay the details.  I offered my love and encouragement and I was happy to truthfully say I knew everything would be fine...but I also knew she was, of course, going to be anxious until I was proven right.  Being an anxious person myself, I offered her my ear (or shoulder) for any moments of anxiety she has in the future. "I'm good," I said, "at turning these anxious moments into something you can laugh at." 

After nearly an hour of talking, we finally hung up the call, I turned off the engine and walked into Kohl's to handle my missing gift cards.  I walked past the hordes of bargain hunters and the messy displays and all the way to the service desk in the back.  A very efficient woman, but only one, was handling a line of people waiting for their special requests for returns, exchanges, bill payment, questions, coupon extensions, etc.  I waited and listened to the heavy sighs that exhaled from the people around me.  Sighs meant more for the rest of us to understand their frustration than for the simple venting of CO2.  I listened to how people snapped at the girl behind the counter who was actually very proficient at her job and working quickly.  I listened to how unreasonable demands were met with competent and generous offers. 

Your Kohl's cash expired two months ago but you still want to use it? Sure, here's a new certificate. 

Your card is being refused because you haven't paid your bill?  Well, let's process a minimum payment so you can go spend the maximum balance. 

You washed this shirt in hot water and it shrunk?  No problem, we'll exchange it for a bigger size for you. 

I mean Kohl's could not have done much more to appease these people, but I got the impression they all want what they wanted...and they wanted it RIGHT NOW.  With no waiting. And they STILL weren't going to be all that happy about it.

When it was my turn, my mind was still back on that phone call. I was already thinking of travel plans and arrangements and how I could be at my friend's side when she was having the necessary procedure.  If she didn't need me at her side, I was thinking about how I could distract her with little funny stories or gifts that would keep her in her natural positive sunny state and help her with her recovery.  But, I woke myself up to the present and smiled at the harried Kohl's employee and told her my story. 

I purchased two gift cards, here is the receipt.  When I got home and opened my bag - they were not there.  I called the store and they told me I could get new cards if I came in.  Here I am.

She thought a moment, reached under the counter and pulled out a binder. She then paged the store for someone to help as she knew this would tie her up for more than the average 1 minute she was spending per transaction before I got there.  The binder was full of multi-colored sheets. Probably the FAQs and answers for every possible customer situation.  She found what she needed, punched a bunch of numbers into one computer and then another, made phone calls to central office for codes, etc. 

Behind me I heard the sighs increasing in volume and voracity.  I remained calm and quiet.  THIS is what I'm going to stress about?  Not after that phone call.  Give me a break.  The Kohl's associate continued to solve my problem, which required a manager signature.  When he arrived at the desk he proceeded to snidely inform her she did it all wrong.  She pointed to the binder and showed him evidence she was right and he said, "Nope. Re-do it!"  He walked away, as self-important as could be and she turned to me and exclaimed in frustration, "YOU SHOULD HAVE YELLED AT HIM!  WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL HIM YOU'D BEEN WAITING FOR 20 MINUTES AND HE SHOULD JUST SIGN IT ALREADY AND LET YOU GO???"

I looked at her and smiled.  I said, "It honestly never occurred to me to yell at him tonight.  There are just too many more important things in life than getting into a fight over a gift card."  She stopped and smiled back and quietly agreed.  She made a call, confirmed she had been right in her process.  Gave me my new cards and told me she would take care of the necessary signatures and there was no need for me to wait any longer.  By this time, all the other customers had been managed and departed, so I asked her to ring up my one tiny purchase. 

What was my purchase? A little card for my friend....a card about perspective. And together that Kohl's associate and I smiled at the card's message and took a little of that perspective home ourselves.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crinkle of Paper, Jingle of Bells

It's that time again.  When I struggle mightily to come up with fresh new ideas for gifts for family, friends, and colleagues that does not simply add to the CRAPOLA factor.  You know, the stuff you give/get every year where you think, "where in the world will I put/use/keep this?"  In simpler times, people so often went without what they needed, much less wanted, that it was easy to find something in any price range that could really by used and treasured by the recipient. 

Nowadays, we all tend to get everything we need, and then some, and our wish list is largely satisfied too, except maybe for those big items that are truly lotto dreams.  I laughed when I looked at my nephew-in-law's Amazon list - where he has a $600 kegerator on the list.  I love you man, but maybe you can just be satisfied with a 6-pack?  Plus, you are in Cuba right now, so I'm pretty sure the kegerator would rust away unused for the next year.

Anyway, I managed to find some neat little things for those that we love and care for and I hope they are enjoyed by them all.  We also went to some edible gifts this year (be watching your doorstep some of you family gathering loved ones on 12/23-12/24) and some custom items that came back with us from Italy.

This weekend was wrapping time, so my house looks like this:

A preview of some of the sweet gifts I found at my favorite stores - Pier One and Home Goods (not to mention vendors in Venice, Murano, Burano, Rome, and Florence!)

I'll probably have to go back and get us one of these throws - Penny really took a liking to it!

I learned my lesson last year.  No fine/refined jewelry for the nieces...go funky, wild, and BIG!

I think I'm nearly done now.  Just "wrapping it up" (pardon the pun) now.  How are your holiday preparations shaping up?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Grinch, No More

My family knows that I typically do not decorate my home for the Christmas holidays unless we are hosting an event - family or otherwise.  And this year, the holiday will be an "away game" (assuming this crazy snowy weather to the west of us gives us all a holiday break) and so no lights, no tinsel, no ornaments adorn my home.  I think people are really frightened that that is a sad thing for us.  I guess I don't find it sad.  I still do the holiday shopping, the wrapping, watch some of the christmas specials, and listen to my umpteen holiday cds.  I do the company holiday party, the christmas eve church service, christmas dinner with family (in a couple locations) and all that holly jolly not pulling out the decorations doesn't really bother me at all.

But my sister helped us with the minimum measures this year.  That sweet woman sent me a decorated tree.  And knowing my desire to TRY and be somewhat green, it can even by planted in my yard come Spring.

Tiny, but festive.  Thanks Sis.  We love it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today's Message from Dalai Lama

Today I got one of those forward emails.  You know the kind.  The sappy life messages with pictures of butteflies and flowers that always make you stop and wonder.  Mostly I wonder who has the time to put these things together.  But you know, they usually say something I need to hear.  Supposedly this one was created from quotes the Dalai Lama gave in 2010... a Dalai Lama mantra if you will.

I watched it.  Twice.

Here's what it said.

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
Follow the three R's - Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Don't let a little dispute injur a great relationship.
When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Spend some time alone every day.
Open your arms to change, but don't give up your values.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life.  Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation.  Don't bring up the past.
Share your knowledge.  It is a way to achieve immortality.
Be gentle with the Earth.
Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
Remember the best relationship is one where your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Ok.  So what do you think?  Sappy?  Trite?  Or maybe words to live by?  There are some zingers in there I have to say.  Things that resonate with me right now as my professional life continues its upheaval in MERGER world.  Like, open your arms to change, but don't give up your values.  Hmmmm.  Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.  Yeah....knowing your trade-off limits is a good thing. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.  I'm still learning that one.  And until I do, I'm following: Remember sometimes silence is the best answer.

In a similar vein, my sister gave me a card several years ago and I liked the words in it so much I turned it into a bookmark.  Like the notes above, it is something I read most days and try...I really do try.

Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Choose with no regret.
Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.
- mary ann radmacker

I like how it starts.  Live with intention.  I do tend to float through life sometimes, letting it happen to me, rather than defining it myself.  It is important to be able to go with the flow, but perhaps it is more important to influence the flow and react purposefully.

Guess I'm immersed in philosophical thought today.  Care to join me?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

And on to the next holiday

It has been nine long years since our friends have visited us.  It is only a 5 hour drive, but sometimes it can be worlds away.  Now that two of their three wonderful kids are out of the nest, it seemed a little easier to find a weekend that wasn't totally committed to sports, studies, events, birthdays, etc. etc. etc. and a visit was finally scheduled...the first weekend after the Rock Center tree was lit.  And where did they want to go? NYC of course.  For fun, their youngest brought along her best friend...both with the same name.  They don't seem confused by it at all.  I was thoroughly confused by it.  But no matter. They were both adorable.

It all began with a train ride.  Such a hum drum thing for those of us who use it all the time....very new and even intimidating for them.

They are actually jumping up and down inside....really....I promise...believe me at the house for two days before we left, they were physically jumping up and down!  Maybe they look less excited because we told them to remember the train stop in case we got separated in NYC and they had to find their way home. 

Unseasonably cold for early December...we bundled up well and made our way down to Battery Park so they could see Lady Liberty.  She was awfully small out in the harbor...but they still thought it was worthwhile.  Here they are at the sight of the Korean War Memorial (I checked Mom, Uncle Lambert wasn't listed) bravely fighting the wind.

For the Mr./Dad we had to hit the courthouse steps.  He is a law and order junkie.  So while he posed on teh steps, we all yelled:  Dun-Dun.  Or is it Bum-Bum?  Well whatever.  If you know the show, you know the sound.  It's amazing how all the sights of NYC have so much history and yet people always get the most excited about those that resonate from movies, tv, and other things they experience from their LaZBoy at home.  I have to admit, when we returned from Italy, we did sit up a little straighter when we connected movie sites to what we had seen.

Next was all about ChinaTown.  Thoroughly daunted by the whispers in our ears (Gucci? Coach? Fendi?) we stuck with the actuall retail shops.  The girls crowded in to the little shop to find their Hello Kitty glitter necklaces.  "Two for $15!"  "You no want one!  One is $12"  "I make you good deal" 

In one of my favorite shots of the day...Tay shows she's happy, but certainly overwhelmed by the crowds.  I didn't tell her she hadn't seen anything yet...we were still downtown of the true hordes.

We were working our way uptown, hitting all the items on the checklist.  It's hard to get two short girls and one tall building (Empire State, minus the recognizable top).

And of course FAO Schwarz.  But take a tip from me.  Don't try to get in around Christmas.  The line was three blocks long, so we opted for the picture with the cute and tall toy soldier man instead.

The most amazing Starbucks coffee shop in the city - the one in Trump Plaza.  Nothing like a multi-story wall of water with an equally large christmas tree to say HOLIDAY.

But the city always wears her best colors at night.  And THIS is what got all of our juices flowing. Times Square after dark.  Spectacular.

And of course - Radio City. With our own little dancer giving us her streetside kick-line.  (And as an aside, can I just say what a pain in the a$$ blogger video upload is.)

The crowds got thicker and thicker as we moved on.  Really, if we hadn't had Tay#1 to serve like an icebreaker ship, our team of cruisers wouldn't have gotten far at all.  That little girl can weave her way through a NYC crowd like a pro.

Happy Pre-Holiday's everyone!

Rock Center Christmas Tree 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What are you thankful for?

We had the definition of a full-house last week, with air mattresses scattered around the house and the place busting at the seams.  It's really the only time I look at my house and consider it an ill-advised purchase.  It doesn't truly adapt well to a larger population.  The families who came before us never evolved beyond three in residence...and there is a reason for that.  For several days we had eight.  From the age of 1 to 75, and all over the map on schedules.

For the first time ever Hubby and I gladly gave up our bedroom to guests.  We thought it was the best move (and still do) for my niece and her 1 and 4 year old to take our larger master bedroom.  She would have our comfortable queen bed, Little Man A (4) would have an air mattress on floor, and Baby Brother Z (1) would have a porta-crib.  All fit in the one room and you could actually navigate around them...sort of.  This put Mom and Uncle in the guest bedroom, Brother in Law on an air mattress in our office/3rd bedroom.  And relegated Hubby and I to the living room.

Payback is a bitch, they say.

That is, after all the years we have put overflow guests in the living room on the fold-out couch came back to bite us big time.  That hide-a-bed is about as non functional as it could be.  We tried to alleviate the tired mattress situation with an airbed on top, but this was a failure as well.  Combine that with the fact that we essentially had no "retreat" space was difficult.

Worse than that, this left my niece - our guest - with a no-win situation with restless kids in her room 24 hours a day and no retreat of her own.  She might have had a comfy mattress, but I think she may have had less sleep than anyone.

Don't get me wrong.  Having a big family dinner on Thanksgiving was fabulous.  Having many of the people we love in one place was equally great.  But trying to be hostess with the mostest (who ever came up with that stupid saying?), keep all the guests happy or at least sane, keep the house somewhat in order so septogenarians didn't trip on kid toys and kids weren't trodden on by their elders, feed people, schedule bathroom time with a potty-training child and impatient needy adults, exercise the kids to burn off some excess energy, juggle multiple cars in driveway, pickup/dropoff at train stations for metropolitan visitors, accommodate naps/sleep patterns for just doesn't work. 

If it weren't for my overabundance of caring what other people think and need, I'd be a lot healthier mentally and let's face it this blog would have a different title.  I cringed at the hard time my niece was having keeping the kids in tow in a strange environment and knowing she wasn't getting the rest and relaxation she needed, I winced when I saw my hubby walking with a hitch because of the bad bed situation, a little twitching of muscles around the eye occurred as I thought about how to keep the house at an equalized temperature for the comfort of all. 

As everyone left (some earlier than planned), they all thanked us for a lovely time, a wonderful meal, our kindness and hospitality.  As the numbers dwindled our house began to expand again and my nerves settled. I most likely have projected more pain into the weekend on behalf of my guests than they felt (I hope), and by next year's Christmas - our next possible big hosting event - I may have some better ideas on how to manage it.

But for now, I'll just say....

I'm thankful for my crazy hob-goblin family.
I'm thankful for money in the bank, food on the table, and health in our bodies.
I'm thankful so many people I love made the effort to join us for a day (or a week)
I'm thankful they all got back home again safely.
And, I guess right now, most of all I'm thankful Thanksgiving is over. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Easy as Pie

I am not a pie maker (or is it pie baker?)  Luckily my Mom took on the duties many many years ago from my Nana and is still slaving away with HOMEMADE crust y'all....and while the mincemeat filling may come in a jar (and not cheap)...the apple filling is all made with love and sharp knives and peelers and shit like that.

For me, Thanksgiving is all about the pie.  Although, to be perfectly truthful, it is really all about the pie on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and on into the following week after all the relatives have left and the pie leftovers remain!  I can never manage dessert on Thanksgiving night.  There is just not enough room even in my generous belly after picking and feasting and drinking and picking some more on all the goodness that is Thanksgiving dinner at our house.  How many meals do you get turkey, two kinds of potatoes, three kinds of bread, and casseroles that are topped with so much salty and sweet crunchy stuff you almost forget there are veggies underneath.  This twisted all you can eat holiday is such an iconic American day...we are all about TOO MUCH  TOO FAST.  And in this meal, we get it all, and more.

So while I think my mom may feel sometimes her work on the pies is not appreciated when everyone pushes back from the table and heads to the couch with a groan and the distinctive "snap" and "zip" indicating the pants just gave out...I must assure her (and have on numerous occasions), that it is not the main event meal that I care about.

It is, and always will be, the leftovers.

The promise of delicious delicacies as yet untasted even after the great and celebrated thanks have been given.  The reheated wonder of food that has gained in flavor after cooling and warming again and reinvented itself in a day-after sandwich.  And the barely touched pies...that taste all the sweeter after an extra day of anticipation on the taste buds.

A few years ago, there was a pie incident.  Or should I say a pie travesty.  My mom...ever conscious of the perfection she expects when she cooks...was dismayed at the quality of the crust of the apple crumb top pie.  "It's soaked through!" she wailed.  "It's falling apart and just a mess...."  I assured her that it didn't matter that it might look like applesauce and crumbs on a plate under ice cream. To some this may have seemed like I was trying to placate kindly give a white lie to save her from being upset by her less than stellar contribution to the holiday meal.  NOT TRUE!  I was lip-smacking sure it was yummy yummy yummy and I could just taste the sweet-tart taste of the granny smith apples warmed slightly with a melting topping of french vanilla that was promised for tomorrow.

But when tomorrow came, I opened the cupboard to find...NOTHING.  No pie.  I opened the adjacent cupboards.  Had I mistaken where we had put the leftover pies??  Had they been moved??  As I glanced around the room with mounting panic, my eyes came to rest on the counter next to the sink. Propped on a tea towel was the saddest sight I had ever seen.  An empty glass pie plate clean and glistening in the sunlight streaming through the window.

WHERE. IS. THE. PIE??????   I hoped and hoped that the pie had simply been moved to a leftover container and my mom was just preparing to take her valuable glass pie plate home with her.

"Oh, that mess...." mom said, "I threw it wasn't right how the crust was soaked through."

AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHH!  My once a year pie eating weekend was crushed.  I never let my  mother forget that day.  Every year since I have threatened bodily harm should the pie disappear into the garbage.  I've even considered a combination lock or a sensor alarm on the cupboard that would help me save the pie if my mom even thought about committing that crime again.  I still can't believe she threw out three quarters of a perfectly awesome calorie fest.

Fast forward to present day.  That memory is still haunting me (as if you couldn't tell).  But today mom emailed me that she was working on the pie crusts.  And I am telling you right now. Crumbled or not.  Soaked through or not.  I'm eating pie this weekend.  Just try and stop me.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Whhoooopppss - Dropped the NaBloPoMo Ball

All I can say is, until they move Thanksgiving and Christmas to another month, NaBloPoMo in November is just not going to work for me. 

Instead of blogging, we are preparing for a week of visitors.  Although the holiday is only one day - having relatives from all around means it stretches into a week of meals.  Just ask our grocery bill.  WOW.  Heartstopping. 

Who all is coming?

Well - my niece, brother-in-law and my two adorable great nephews arrive from DC on Tuesday.  Also coming with this crew is one fine little canine pal - Maggie.   Then my Mom and Uncle arrive on Wednesday. Then on Turkey Day we'll be joined for the festivities by my Mother and Father in Law and my Nephew and his friend.  So, including us, you are talking about 10 adults and two little'uns...and a dog....and a cat.  Can you say YELLOW COTTAGE BUSTING AT SEAMS.  And I can't wait.  By the time everyone leaves I'll be heaving a sigh of relief to have my space back....but I'll also feel the house is way too empty.

We've prepared by purging for another weekend tons o'crapola on Freecycle.  And everyone obligingly took our crapola to other houses where hopefully my trash will be their treasure.  Hubby also cleaned out his ONE DRESSER and from that somehow managed to give away two HUGE hefty bags of clothing as well as toss out about 3 tall kitchen bags full of unworthy clothes, papers, and various and sundry messes of stuff that collected in his drawers.  How is that even possible?   He also cleaned out his studio (no small feat) and promises to tackle his closet Monday night.

I've washed every possible sheet, towel, blanket, comforter and pillow case in the joint.  Including the new bedding I purchased for the THREE new airbeds we got.  One queen size to go on top of the fold-out (which is unbearable to sleep on after 10 years of wear), and two twin size.  We'll have a pack and play jammed into the space as well.  You have to know my house to know how funny it is to imagine all these people piled into the two bedrooms, the living room, and the office with airbeds and extra blankets.

I did the semi-annual empty and scrub the fact both fridges...which is alway a harrowing experience to find the liquified carrots and the fuzzy leftovers shoved in the back...not to mention the interesting and hopefully non-toxic mold growing on the EXTERIOR and every crack and crevice of our garage fridge.  It's horrifying really - how we live without even noticing the disgusting mess right in front of our eyes. 

I tried to get to reorganizing my kitchen...but didn't get too far.  Made it through about 5 cupboards, but I didn't tackle the really tough ones that have those teeter-totter piles just itching to come crashing out with a big bang.  Should be interesting keeping the little ones from the cupboards in my not baby-proofed home. I'm already looking around thinking about candles, CDs, stairways, etc.  But we'll have enough adults on patrol to make it work.

Did I mention we've also been babysitting a recovering kitty?  Hopefully the animal rights folks won't come out of the wordwork on this one, but we did finally decide to de-claw her.  I know.  I KNOW.  But I have to say, I wish people hadn't talked me out of it when she was a kitten as it would have been easier on her and god knows it would have been easier on my furniture.  But since she SHREDDED my couch and ottoman and was starting to sink claws into my leather had to happen.  So we've been hand feeding her, carrying her up and down stairs, giving her daily antibiotics, and babying her shamelessly (guiltily?).  But at this point she has been happily freed from her Elizabethan Collar, and is purring away, so I can't say that the guilt of trimming the tips off 10 toes has been too traumatic at all. I KNOW!

So no wonder I haven't been blogging, right?

We still have some honey-do's on the list for tomorrow, but we're just about ready to go.  The house smells like cranberry relish and apple bread - a sure sign of the season...and the air outside is crisp.

Countdown to Turkey Day, 4 days.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do You See What I See?

This morning's news broadcast brought another mind-tingling topic to my brain.  There is an NYU professor who is having a camera surgically implanted into the back of his head.  Have you heard about this?  Is it to monitor those unrully NYU students? No.  In fact as a condition of his employment he will be blocking the camera lens during his NYU campus activities. an art project.

I don't suppose anyone ever thought that he could strap a camera on right?  Or embed it in his clothing?  There must be some reason a surgical implant is required, but damned if I know, and so far I haven't seen or heard a news report that asks that question.  They are more concerned, and perhaps rightly so, with privacy issues.

In today's world, this argument is starting to lose its punch however.  Face it.  We can pretty much guarantee that we are all being watched at any given time.  Whether it is a professor who's just crazy enough to add a camera lens to his anatomy, a barbie doll with an embedded video camera, the ubiquitous camera phone, crime and traffic monitors on every corner, ATM cameras, etc.....YOU are on candid camera.

Another news item this morning touted a new popular internet video about a cat fighting off two alligators.  After you get past this amazing little teaser, you may start to think.  How did that cat end up in a situation with two alligators and a camera trained on the action?  Was it the result of the readiness of cameras in everyone's pockets these days?  Was it a cruel and unusual prank to stage a fight between a feline and the alligators? 

Remember the rule.  The act of observing something changes it.  And how odd is it that this rule of physics also was brought about by observing a cat.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Freecycle Saturday!

So it has been a while since I have actively freecycled....and the seams of my house feel like they are busting again.  Today I had planned to help sort and freecycle at someone else's house (you know who you are), but it was called off due to a nasty cough by the homeowner.  I can respect keeping your germs to yourself.  Hope you are feeling well and got some sorting done on your own.

Since I was geared up to get grubby, I dug into my own messy belongings.  In my usual ADHD approach to organizing it went like this.

Sitting at my desk researching some products for furniture refinishing (yes, I'm getting closer to trying to...gasp...paint my oak bedroom furniture!) I realized how filthy my windows were.  So I got out the windex and paper towels and worked away at all of the front windows of the house.

Then I got bored with that.

So then I sat down on the living room floor and dug into my double trunk/coffee table and pulled out about 100 magazines and papers to recycle.  This took me on another journey to the garage for the recycle bins.

But to get to the garage I needed to go through my basement.  And what I saw there dismayed me.  It was the creeping outward of the junk piling up on my shelves that were an organizational project last January.  So I started reorganizing shelves and then realized I needed to get on some shoes (still in my nightgown and barefeet). 

Back upstairs where I passed the living room and realized I had (a) left all the recycling scattered on the floor and have never picked up the bin and (b) that the vacuum was sitting in the middle of the floor with a snaking cord just itching to trip me up.  So I ran upstairs and got my sweats and shoes on and determined to be a little more direct in my approach.  I immediately went for the paper bin (still outside from last pickup) and piled in the magazines and papers.  Then I finished with the vaccuum and put it away and took the bin back downstairs to the garage.

The garage!  Another project!  I moved some of the random piles of summer furniture and Hubby's lodge storage (hopefully going to its own storage location soon...or I'm going to start charging rent) and began breaking down all of the cardboard boxes I've been tossing in the room and ignoring for the past several weeks.  Garage fridge still needs a mildew cleanup, but that space is about as good as it gets.

Back to the basement I start to collect items to freecycle.  I run up to get my laptop and bring it down hoping to be efficient (for once) and plug the items in as I stack them...but the signal is not strong enough so back up I go and back down with paper and pen. 

But now I'm making progress.  I offer a few items up and realize to offer the suitcase, I need the other pieces of the set, so up to the guest room I go and starting digging things out of the closet.  45 minutes later I have more items to Freecycle and a small pile of randome items scattered around the room that need to find a home again.  But with the closet empty I can now (since it IS November) get the A/C's stacked away until Spring 2011.

All in all...while it was a circular route, I've made some solid progress.  I haven't left too much of a mess in my wake and I've identified the following to offer on Freecycle:

Variety of table/floor lamps (some of these I've been hauling around since college folks!) - TAKEN
Two bags of women's clothing - TAKEN
1 4-plate rack - TAKEN
1 6-wine bottle rack - TAKEN
1 Suitcase set (4 pieces) - TAKEN
1 canvas port-a-crate for medium size pet - TAKEN
1 hoover vacuum cleaner - TAKEN
2 pet feeders (water/food) - TAKEN
1 roll of wallpaper blue/rose pattern - WAITING FOR A HOME....

I'm running out of steam now, so I'm taking one more pass through the house to make sure I didn't leave too much debris and half-done cleanup.  Will do the minimal to close the loop on activities (trying not to go backward by sticking things back willy-nilly) and then I foresee some couch time in my near future.

Nothing like shedding a few pounds of belongings to feel free.

Post-script: Hubby just arrived home bringing with him several boxes of china from his mother.  Tomorrow I'll be washing and sorting those pieces and looking for the best place to store them...I anticipate a kitchen tear-up and re-pack starting at 9AM tomorrow.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sunlight, Glitter, and Grace

Yesterday we had some glorious golden autumn sun streaming in the bedroom in the late afternoon.  It was striking my dresser and mirror and bouncing around the room.

The jewelry that hangs in a messy mass on the hook was glittering and glowing in the light.  Pearls, crystals, silver, murano glass, all reflecting shards of light.

 And just like Mom's story of also hit my remembrance photo of my father and my cousin.  Now gone from this world and into whatever next world you believe in.

It was nice to pause and notice it all in the quiet of an autumn afternoon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Is there any greater joy than spinning?

Gosh I love my crazy kitty.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Had Me at....the Applause?

I know I'm wierd.  I faced that a LONG time ago.  But I have to ask any of you other semi-wierd people out there if you have this strange reaction to applause.

I well up.

I tear up.

I sometimes cry copiously.

It's true.  I find enthusiastic applause to be one of the most moving sounds on the planet.  You know how people always say their favorite sound is "a child's laughter" or some such thing?  For me...applause.  And not applause for me!  I've never been on stage.  I've never sought or been in public speaking situations that would merit clapping.  But put me in the audience and watch me cry like a baby if a standing ovation occurs.

Just this week, in fact, I've had two or three occasions to feel overcome by emotion. 

Here is one:'s a moving piece of music.  But it wasn't the music as much as it was the flowing applause at the end that choked me up.  And that was sitting here.  At my computer.  At my slave desk.  At the office.  Can you imagine if I was on site for this?  What a mess I would be.

Beyond this inspiring performance, it happened in an even more mundane setting.  A company video.  Yes.  I'll say it again.  A company video.  To be specific, it was a video summary of a two day meeting held by our management team.  There was nothing overtly inspiring in the material. It was fine.  It was professional.  It even had some solid information. 

But at the end...the audience (in the video) applauded...

They stood and applauded. 

And once again, my throat thickened and my eyes burned.

Tell me the truth. Am I even wierder than I thought?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Memory Keeping

As predicted, I got home last night and opened my purse - the same purse I swore I scoured looking for the missing rings, and in the very first side pocket I looked into, there were the rings. 

True, my first reaction is to laugh and shake my head, but my second reaction is to wonder if I am truly losing my mind.  It's kind of scary that these blanks happen in my memory banks....I mean real true blanks.  Like a clean sheet of white paper there is nothing there for things that my family, friends, and even my husband recall with total clarity. 

I'm not sure if it is reassuring to note that my senior banquet (high school) event put out a program that included memorable quotes from individuals and mine was, "Oh my god, I totally forgot"...or something like that.  So this has been an issue with me since the early days and is not early menopause or worse early onset Alzheimer's.

One of the reasons I continue to labor over this blog is my ability to go back and revisit memories.  The very act of recording little daily events (or big momentous events) is that just writing it out gives it a higher probability of becoming impressed into my memory banks.  But if not, I can always go back and see what I was doing this time last year and experience it anew. 

For example, it's interesting to note that on November 9th 2007, I was having a scatterbrain day as well...lots of random thoughts creating pinballs in my brain.  In 2008, I was espousing on the disparity between men and women couch potatoes (I must have hit a nerve as I have 10 comments on that one!).  And just last year, I was trying to expand my blogging onto the Women's Colony (with no luck...and now it's sadly gone), but was despondent that my writing wasn't good enough...or at least my typing.

So as you can see...this blogging thing may be all the bad things people say...primarily a total exercise in self-involvement.  But it is also the record of my own little insignificant life and times...and with my memory, an essential for my sanity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Typical Monday

The morning started out with an earlier alarm than usual due to my need to meet someone at the office at crack of dawn.  Crack of dawn in my world is defined as before 9:30AM. 

And it went downhill from there.

Put my thumb through not one but two pairs of stockings this morning.  Guess I should give up old fashioned nylons and go for the bare foot look everyone else is sporting.

Stuck the mascara wand in my eye.  Every woman knows this is the international harbinger of all things sucky for your day.

Realized that I could not find my rings.  I've either left them in the hotel room or most likely they are buried inside something I packed that I haven't unpacked yet.  (Yes - I called the hotel and No - they haven't called me back yet)...but I'm telling you.  They are in my house somewhere...that's just the way it is with me. 

Got downstairs and ready to leave and realized I didn't have my office pass.  Not a big thing on a normal day, but arriving early at office meant I might need it to get in before receptionist.  Went up and down the stairs THREE TIMES before realizing it was in my purse the whole time. (Hence my belief the rings are also hidden in plain site as well).
Hubby parked behind me today meaning I needed to move his car first.  Again, not a big thing, but by now after up and down the stairs three times and a panicked call to hotel for the rings, I'm running behind.

Take a deep breath before leaving the house and pour myself something to drink (yes, non-alcoholic, despite the feeling I should go with the hard stuff today) in the travel mug and then proceed to leave it on the kitchen table.

Realize I have left the mug on the table between moving Hubby's car and starting out of driveway in my own.  Run up the walk and steps to the house, only to realize that the door is locked and my keys are in the car.  Give up with a muttered curse and head to the office.

Hit traffic approximately 1 mile from house.  Have 17 miles of bumper to bumper bridge traffic to drive through.  Great.

Finally get through the worst of the traffic and blow right past my exit on highway (because I was trying to relive in my brain departing the Utica Days Inn yesterday and where I put my rings) and have to go two more exits for a U-turn.

Since then...the day has gone surprisingly well by comparison.  But the start was almost enough to send me screaming back to my bed to hide under the covers and wonder where in the HELL my brain has gone.

If you've seen my brain...or my rings....please return them to me.   I'm sadly lacking without them.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What Can I Say About Utica? has a very convenient exit off the New York State's about all I can say.

To be fair, we didn't have time to venture far.  Essentially we exited the Thruway, checked in to our hotel, attended our event, slept, and headed home the next day. 

I'm sure Utica has many wonderful features...although strangely, when you click on their "Attractions" button on the city web page, it doesn't go anywhere.

Enough said.

But we weren't there for the location, we were there for the event. My father-in-law was inducted into the New York State DeMolay Hall of Fame.  This organization, affiliated with the Masons, is the largest fraternal organization of young men in the world. It is an association of young men 12 to 21 years of age who are seeking to better themselves by learning leadership skills and practicing civic responsibility.  My FIL has been a member and then a leader for more than 60 years!

FIL, Hubby, MIL

The Honoree is congratulated by a member.

Autograph anyone?

FIL's Sister-in-Law joined the celebration.

The cutest in-laws in the world.

Hubby and his favorite cousin...DeMolay is a family affair.

Another young man congratulates FIL...

It was really a lovely event...a good mix of elder statesmen and the youth that will lead the next generation.  And if you think it was all stuffy and all started with my FIL yelling "COXSACKIE!!" at the top of his lungs into his cell phone to the younger members.  A tradition that could only come from 12-21 year old boy-men traveling together up the thruway and giggling at the funny town name.  FIL also got to yell "ORC is In. The. House." at the start of his speech...which was rewarded by a raucous cheer from a whole table of young men who are so devoted to him that they made the trip to fun-filled Utica to celebrate the event. 

At least I don't think their enthusiasm to join the event had anything to do with the New York State Cheerleading competition also in town.

Wink. Wink.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Utica Bound

Today we're off to Utica.  They say you shouldn't blog or tweet or in other ways e-broadcast your absences in case someone comes and robs your house.

Um...don't rob our house.

Our killer cat is on the watch for thieves and vagabonds.

And you don't want to mess with kitty potato head.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Randoms


Does the blogging community inspire you or intimidate you?  Are you on creativity overload from the craft and DIY bloggers?  Are you on emotional overload from the tales of woe bloggers?  Are your sides aching from laughing at the humor bloggers?  Are you overwhelmed by the achievements and challenges of mommy bloggers?  Does the idea of being pithy and witty and challenging in your blog, twitter stream, and facebook status make you insane?

Today, I am all of the above.


MERGER update.  After 18 months of suspense things like "org charts" and "budgets" and "new boss" and "downsizing" are being whispered (or whined) in the hallways.  Also after 18 months of leadership meetings where they were framing our strategy...because the mantra has been "structure follows strategy"... it looks like the structure is take this whole hunk of department and move it here and that whole hunk of department and move it there.  To be feels pretty forced and not a little like "What the hell have you guys been doing for 18 months? We could have done this hunk of this, chunk of that about a year ago???".  In fact, it feels a little like bussing black kids in the 60s.  Will that minority group be welcomed or shunned? 

And can I just say??? Award-winning integration process my ass.


Sometimes books that come to you in unexpected ways are the best.  Once when I was on a plane heading to my hometown (called home due to my father's rapidly advancing illness) I found a book in the pocket of the plane seat that someone had left behind.  The Love Letter.  It was just enough to keep my mind from going to the really bad places that I knew were inevitably coming in real life.  The book I am currently reading was a similar "gift of the fates".  Love Walked In.  Found abandoned in one of the rental apartments in Italy, it somehow made its way into my overstuffed bag to bring home. 

It is truly a beautiful journey so far. 


Christmas shopping season is most definitely upon us and the usual bombardment of commercials, store displays, e-coupons, snail mail catalogs, etc. are hitting me hard.  I have pages turned down and items circled and websites bookmarked, and lists started, but I'm already feeling the inevitable words bubbling up in me, "Do these people really need any of this CRAP?"  Pretty as it may be.  Suited to the personality as it is.  Selected with love and devotion as it may be. 

Really.  Who needs to fill their homes with more of this stuff when people in Haiti are being blown out of their tent-homes by a hurricane.  Sigh.  Really takes the joy out of the whole giving thing.


Celebrating service this weekend...namely my father in law's service.  He has been a Mason for about 60 years now and has used that time to work his way through the bureacracy and politics that are inevitable in such societies and found ways to give back "for the greater good".  Looking forward to seeing him recognized for his acts of love to the community. And I promise I won't even make any jokes about the secret ceremony scheduled for midnight with the goats and chickens and an altar...really I won't. 

All kidding aside, he may have some health challenges right now, but he's rock solid in his soul and he's got all of us pulling for him...not to mention good karma coming his way.


My Mom sent an email today that took my breath away. 

"I had the strangest but wonderful feeling the other day. I was watching TV in bedroom and the sun came through the slit in the curtains and shed light on the picture of you and me at the Top of the Rock and slowly moved over to the picture of all of us taken in Florida when Dad was so ill and the sun landed on just him, me and you. I really got such a wonderful feeling and then the sun disappeared."

Such a wonderful moment of grace.


Have a lovely November friday.  Take a moment to consider the random thoughts in your brain. And enjoy the last of the leaves, the scent of crisp cold winter days just hinting in the air, and an abundant holiday season beginning.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaBloPoMo Prompt - Thursday

Thursday, November 4, 2010.
Would you rather be wealthy and ugly, wise and sickly, or beautiful and stupid?

Uh...none of the above?
But if I had to choose, I'd take wealthy and ugly.  Not because of the wealth part, suprisingly I'm not greedy enough to go for that first.  But come on, who wants to be either sickly or stupid?  Those are just so much more of a killer than being a little on the ug-side don't you think?  AND if you have can use it to be a really great philanthropist - being beautiful on the inside...where it counts, right?
And oh yeah, money helps with all those polishing opportunities like personal trainers, personal chefs, spa treatments, salons, stylists and even plastic surgery options if the ugly is just too much to bear.
But wise and sickly?  No. 
I'll take the wisdom.  God knows I could always use a little more wisdom, but there is a reason people say, "If you ain't got your health..." right?
And beautiful and stupid?  Nope.
There are enough stupid people in the world and we don't need one more.
So, wealthy and ugly it is. And I'll use some of that wealth to sponsor a telethon for the wise but sickly and build a school for the beautiful and stupid.  Problem solved.
How about you?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Price, Art and Inspiration?

On our annual trek to the Cape (Cod..of course) this year, we did our usual run of the galleries.  Hubby is now selling his photography out of one of them, so that was a primary stop, and he also has competed in numerous shows at another.  There is a lot of wonderful art to be seen there, and a great community of artists.  We almost always pick up something, but for the most part they are small pieces.

But not this year.

This year, I was smitten.  One particular painting totally grabbed me and would not let go.  Even after hearing the price point (gulp) it continued to call my name.  It was a jumble of beautiful colors and shapes that somehow perfectly captured the energy of a coastal city at night.  Golden light spills from every window, little sparkly lights are scattered among the buildings - which themselves glow with gorgeous reds, aubergine, lime green, sage, and icy blue.  And across the lower half the shape of a bridge and sailboats glistening and reflecting back on the waters....I was totally in love.

Now, being an artist himself, Hubby is totally NOT the type of person to control spending when it comes to art purchases.  Furniture - he can look at me cross-eyed over.  Clothes - yeah, whatever.  But with art, he is NOT the voice of reason.  He jumps right on board and opens the wallet.  Which I love...and which I fear...  But he said one thing to me before heading to the desk to finalize the sale. 

"Will you look at it every day and love it?"

Our new artwork - the photo in no way does it justice
I looked at the painting again....
"Yes", I breathed, "Oh Yes."

And I have. 

I'm sad to say it is still on the floor.  But every day I look at it and a new thought comes to mind in the way the room must change around it.  I'm thinking of painting my oak bedroom furniture set in an antique distressed cream finish - which will totally go with the glistening sails.  I'm pretty sure the walls need to go from a Tiffany blue-green to a soft silvery gray and I need to find the perfect shade to serve as background to all of these beautiful colors.  And I think I'm going to go with a scattering of solid color bedding rather than patterns, to allow the painting to be the only thing with movement.  And the flooring....maybe one of the gorgeous blues from the painting will look like the watery base....

Needless to say, as Hubby sighs resignedly, this painting is going to cost a lot more than the sticker price before I am done.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Book!

I just ordered this book!  You should too!

The new book The Beauty of Different is available from Bright Sky Press and Amazon.

NaBloPoMo...2010 Edition

I blame the flight attendant. 

After all, she walked down the passenger aisle in that jumbo jet sniffling, sneezing, coughing, and essentially serving a petri dish of germs to all the people on the flight.  And my poor poor 6'3" husband... who just wanted one more glass of wine to make it feasible to sleep on the 9 hour flight from Rome to NY weighed his options.  Request a glass of wine from Typhoid Mary, or not. 

You guessed it.

The germs exploded all through my husband.  And then he furthered the dispersion of viral goodies all over our home.  Combine this with the general illness-prone population of the changing season, and I was doomed.

So it all goes back to that flight on October 6th and is the real reason I'm late starting my one post per day NaBloPo efforts for November.

But, rather than continue to blame others for my failings, I shall do my own penance and prepare a two part post using the November NaBloPoMo prompts.

Monday, November 1, 2010 Prompt:
How would your life change if you didn't have rent or a mortgage to pay, i.e., if your housing was free?

Are you kidding me????  Every day I dream about winning just enough lottery money to pay off the Yellow Cottage. 

Yellow Cottage, Suffern NY

You see, our mortgage is pretty big.  And like many lucky Americans, we have been watching our equity shrink steadily over the last few years despite continually investing in property improvements like a new patio, new roof, new retaining wall, new windows, new siding...and the list goes on and on.  Given the cut that everybody would get at closing, we MIGHT be able to walk away with nothing owing....but it would be close.
The number one change I would make is having my husband quit his job.  He could totally focus on his #2 passion (since I remain his #1 passion of course) of being an artist.  He could dabble or seriously delve, whatever his preference.  He could take classes, travel, do shows, work with galleries, whatever his heart desired.  And I would be happy just watching him be happy.  (Ok, maybe I'd be a little jealous, but truly, having an ecstatically happy spouse is really a wonderful thing.)
I think I'd focus my own benefit of no mortgage on travel.  Designing one trip per year to take us somewhere really beautiful and fun and relaxing.  Like back to Italy...again and again and again.
Whether the money would stretch far enough to radically change our lifestyle is questionnable. Without the big mortgage there is still property upkeep (in 1920's Yellow Cottage - not a small thing), taxes, utilities, cable/internet, phone, cars, credit cards, groceries, etc. etc etc.  So someone (in this scenario - ME) needs to keep bringing in the bacon.  And let's not forget the lovely little healthcare benefits one gets with a full-time job. 
But would go a long way towards relieving the pressure, you know?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tell us the story of a piece of jewelry you own. Where did it come from, and what does it mean to you?
Today's Jewelry

I've never been much of a jewelry person...I tend to gravitate toward costume (read - inexpensive) so that I don't have to worry much about losing it or damaging it. I can't count the number of times I've come home missing an earring, or without a bracelet, or with a busted watch. Who needs to worry about expensive items like that being destroyed?  Hence my penchant for $10 a piece options.

But there are some pieces in my collection that I treasure most because of their connection to loved ones.

Primarily - my Dad's wedding ring.  We lost my Dad in 2003 and my Mom selected small personal items to give to each of us kids.  I have his wedding ring.  Made of white gold, this plain band is dented and nowhere near circular in shape any longer.  It testifies to a long and happy marriage and years of wear and tear.  Those two things go hand in hand don't they?  I wear it daily - as a thumb ring - and every time I put it on and take it off I give it a little kiss.  It is my Dad, plain and simple. 

I also have some rings that belonged to my grandmothers - most don't fit, but one does.  I've never had these rings appraised, conditioned or repaired.  I love that they have the rough and tumble look of the previous owners. 

Some would call them vintage or antique. 

I just recall the people who wore them first and call them loved.