Monday, May 31, 2010

Candle in the Window

We've lived in our home for just over 7 years now.  At some point, as I drove in my mindless unobserving way to and from work, I started to notice one particular house on the street.  I can't say if the owners have always been the same.  In fact, it may have changed hands at some point because I started to notice some of that freshening up that takes place shortly after a new person moves in.  The cedar siding got a wash-up and a few planks replaced.  The gardens were freshened and more formally landscaped.  It seemed there were work vans and trucks in the driveway more often.

At the same time, I started to notice a candle in the window.  Not a real candle, but one of those plastic candles with the little bulb in it that so many people use at Christmas.  And not in every window.  Just in the main picture window in what I assume is their living room.  It's been years now, and regardless of the season, that candle is always lit.  From morning until night, it rests on the window ledge like a small beacon.

I have oftened wondered if this light is kept lit in memory of somone lost but not forgotten.  Or perhaps it is in hopes that someone gone will use the light as a path home.  I'll probably never know if this light is kept in sorrow, in hope, or in joy....but I know it means something more.  Something more than just a forgotten christmas decoration. Something that speaks to dedication, determination, and I believe, to love.

Today is Memorial Day and I'm wondering, who are you remembering?  Do you have relatives who have served (or are serving) in the military? Who do you hope will find their way home? Who do you want to remind that the light they brought to your life has never dimmed or diminished...but is steadfast and bright and foremost in your mind?  Who do you want to thank for their service?  to their country...or your family...or just you?  There are so many in our lives that I will not name aloud here, but they know who they are.  Some have passed on, some just live far away, some have lost touch, others are ever present. 

So for the moment...for today at least...that light in my unknown neighbor's window is for them.  And like that light, you are in my mind every day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sound Effects

What does it say about Green Day's American Idiot that I didn't realize that the repeating siren was actually a dysfunctional car alarm and not a sound effect in the song?  It wasn't until the song ended and the siren continued that I realized the truth. 

Actually, maybe it says the car alarms can keep a good beat? Cuz I do like this album.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Teenage Diet Syndrome

For someone who has been considered older than her years for most of her life, I have a strange obsession with the immature. In food, I prefer a Ho-Ho to a creme dogs and mac/cheese to a surf and soda to a fine glass of merlot. At 43, I still treat my palate as if it had barely outgrown baby food and Captain Crunch cereal.

Similarly, my taste in television and movies can sometimes turn sophomoric....chick flicks be damned if there is a teeny bopper movie on, I'm all for it.

Lately I've found if it wasn't for the hour of NPR I catch each morning as I'm trying to drag myself out of the house and off to work, I would be completely disconnected from the adult universe. What might I do if suddenly invited to a swanky cocktail party and asked my opinion of the latest NY Times best seller list. Not that the best seller list is a tribute to great literature of late, but still.... I tried to do the Monday crossword puzzle in the local paper the other day, and felt like I needed a dictionary for some of the clues. To top this all off, the other day, when I realized that changing plans and schedules meant that my master's degree would be put off instead of one semester, a whole year, I found myself GLEEFUL and humming "no more teachers, no more books...."

On Monday, I stayed home from work. Not for any hugely good reason. I convinced myself I needed a sick day (or at least a mental health day). And I actually did feel pretty lousy after a bout of cramps and the added digestive bonuses we women enjoy once a month and a rather sleepless night....but could have sucked it up and headed in anyway.  It felt like a ditch day....

As a responsible working adult I did keep my blackberry handy and did answer all my emails throughout the day, but for the most part I drank ice tea, ate popcorn, and watched movies all damn day. For some unknown reason I watched Twilight...again. Then I watched a good movie called The Lucky Ones....but quickly downgraded to The Proposal....and then upgraded to Real Sports....and then slipped again to....god only knows what.  The mind sucking thing that is cable tv during monday daytime hours is truly astonishing.

It's about time for me to confess and face up that I need to grow up and "adultify" my diet.  I supposed I could try granola and yogurt instead of Frosted Flakes for breakfast.  And dinner could be something that actually represents more than the junk food section of the pyramid.  As for the mental diet, I'm not ready for anything too trying...I'm not going to want to master Tolstoy by the poolside this summer.  But something current and interesting would be appropriate.  I was recently saved and provided some lively conversation by my fortunate audio book picks of late - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Help...these two pieces are prime examples of the level of reading I would like to undertake.  Similarly, recommendations for great movies with some "think" in them are also desired.

Help me out here.  My brain is in danger of atrophication from teenage diet syndrome if I don't act soon.  Send me some comment help!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garden of Evil

This weekend I fought it out with my gardens for a while.  I'm continually amazed that for a small cottage, my house has so much garden space.  About 75% of it is in shade which makes it a great place for growing weeds, moss, and mushrooms...not so great for flowers. Most years, my Mom comes and gets me motivated to spend the crazy money it costs (not to mention the back breaking labor) to enliven these weed invested spaces. But this year it wasn't in the cards.  Also...a couple of years ago I got a vicious case of poison ivy from my very own gardening activities, so I approach these beds more like a potential bear trap that could easily sever a limb, than like a place of peace and joy.

In my usual way, I joined technology and nature so as to fool myself that I was safely ensconsced in my favorite "dented to fit my ass" couch cushion watching crazy nutters on HGTV rather than being out with bugs, bunnies, and bees myself. What do I mean by this? I mean the iPod was planted firmly in my pocket, buds in ears and volume up on a particularly vicious and non-nature based David Sedaris book. In this way, as I scooped rotting leaves from the swamp that served as topper to my pool cover, forked out all of the never ending vine-like weeds from my garden, and tried for the umpteempth time to return each and every river rock strewn about the property back into the planting beds...I could be...well...someplace else.

Truth be told, I love a beautiful garden....I particularly love it when some other schmuck has chosen all the plantings, done all the weeding, hauled and spread the mulch, trimmed back the overgrown bushes, treated and dug out all the maddening weeds between every damn patio block and paver, and watered, fed, and in other ways managed the jungle mess. If someone else could just do these things, I could do as I was intended to do.  Have a good layabout in the hammock with the smell of flowers and the buzz of busy bees.

While I do engage some help in the lawn care area, for the most part, the garden is my burden to carry. Hubby detests gardening even more than I do. Don't let his love of beautiful flowers fool you. He prefers to go to professionally managed botanical gardens to photograph and then paint his flowers. He has no interest in the dirt under fingernails, sweaty palm to sweaty crotch, blisters and aching back work of actually working a garden.

OooooKkkkkkk. So there you have it. So why is it, distracted by David Sedaris' high-pitched sardonic whining did I find myself attacking nearly every square inch of garden on the property this weekend? Spring fever? Serpent of the garden bite? I don't know. But suffice it to say I've torn out more plants this weekend than I have ever planted and I'm still only halfway done.

Sigh. Our little cottage is quickly becoming the Garden of Evil.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Prolific Blogger Irony

Isn't it ironic that Pinklea provided me with the "Prolific Blogger Award" in one of my lowest posting periods ever?  So in honor of this award, I promise to blog this least twice.  (Try NOT to be intimidated).

I offer the prolific blogger award to my regulars:

View from the Passengers Seat
Juggling Life
Minnesota Matron
I'm Mrs. Brightside

Head on over here to get your info and add your blog to the list.  And if you don't, it's ok...I'll know it's because you are too busy blogging away to take notice.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

5 Days

I just managed to unplug from work for five straight days.  It was wonderful.  I was visiting my mom and Al for a few days and it was a blessing in disguise that their house seems to be the black hole of TMobile coverage. 

My plan was to plug in Sunday night on my return and get back up to speed.  But in the end, I decided that Monday morning would be soon enough. Here it isTuesday afternoon and a few hundred emails later, I'm finally dug out.  If I'm not exactly back to full pace yet, I can at least speak relatively intelligently about most of the ongoing tasks and topics.  It is strange to think that our parents would never have dreamed of the 24x7 connection to the workplace we now have.  To be fair, there is also a bleed over of personal activities into the workplace - mostly thanks to the internet, email, and cell phones. 

I didn't have the chance to go through full technology withdrawal though.  I helped my Mom sort out the myriad of options in Kodak Easy Share and automated as much as I could of the process of digital camera to digital album storage.  But the best technology remained my iPod.  While at times the iPod can sit in my purse for weeks without use, when I travel, it is my best friend.

While driving the 5+ hours up and 5+ hours back, I was mesmerized by a single Audio Book - The Help by Kathryn Stockett.    What an incredible story.  By the end of my 10 hours of driving, I wasn't quite through with the book, but I had picked up a hint of a southern drawl and was using the word y'all a lot.  I was so captivated by the story that I ended up plugging in and listening for another 3 hours Sunday night as I lay in bed anticipating a Monday morning return to the grind.

I can't get the characters out of my mind and I'm recommending it to everyone I know so I can talk to people at length about Skeeter, Minnie, and Abeline...not to mention the 'terrible awful', Miss Celia, Miss Hilly, and May Mobley.  I think I'll go purchase the book as well because I feel like there are definitely lines of text to be underlined, page corners to be turned down, and passages to be read and re-read until they are imprinted on my brain. 

Everyone knows that movie adaptations of books are akin to ripping the heart and soul out and trying to piece it together again in a 1.5 hour version.  And there are times when I wonder if Audio books are a cheat to actual reading.   Can you possibly absorb the story into yourself in the same way?  After a few years of listening to some incredible stories being read to me by talented individuals in an intimate private performance, I can now definitively answer that question.  Yes.

Minnie's full-bodied voice and "sass" came through strong and true.  Abeline's soft wisdom and love was also totally authentic.  Miss Skeeter's youth and naivete and struggles embodied the author's descriptions from her frizzy yellow hair atop her tall frame, to her frantic tapping at the typewriter.  And the way May Mobley was spoken just brought to life a young unspoiled girl ready and willing to be molded by the women around her. 

In the interest of public safety, however, I must disclose that this book got to me on such a level that I was wiping tears away for about an hour on the just consider your ability to absorb emotional material while operating heavy machinery.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Moments with LuLa

LuLa is code for my friend Laura.  She is one of my favorite people in the entire world and I miss her ass being my next door neighbor every damn day.  It's pretty funny to think that we were actually neighbors for only about 2 years, I think, and she has NOT been my neighbor for more like 15 years.  But I will always put her in that best friend/best neighbor category.

I love her so much I'm even ok with the not so great picture of the two of us where she is holding her cigarette (WHICH I HATE!) behind her for our photo.  Look at my double chin!  Look at my long scraggly hair.  But look at those grins...those grins are totally what happen when we are together.

LuLa never comments on this blog...but she reads it religiously.  And I know that because on the rare occasions we do manage to hook up by phone or even more rarely in person, she references every single post.  I mean, she remembers stuff I have totally forgotten I wrote.  And she does it in this stream of consciousness kind of way that leaves me breathless.

For Example...on a call just this week....

"Loved your home office. Those guitars look great. I love how you hung Selma's paintings. And my bathroom design is really coming along.  I decided to just use the one neutral color on the ceiling and the walls and I was like, oh crap I paid good money for this other gallon of paint, but you know it really was too much color for what I wanted.  I totally get what you mean about the cable company and the tv.  I totally had to call Bullshit the other day when they gave me the 'FREE' new box and now I have a worse picture than before the new box AND they are charging me like $7.95 a month for it.  I'm heading to Paris next week, to Carolina right after that, and I really want to talk more about your Venice plans.  I owe you money for the Cape trip, right?  I'm going to help Nana unpack at the house because that is the house that MAN and I will be staying at when we are visiting and it's only fair.  She'll need help with boxes and window treatments and stuff.  Nana fell last week and really banged her head. I'm glad SISTER is there to help her out, but I really feel guilty not being there. How is your Uncle doing? His PT going well?  So tell me about your job.  How is merger going?  You have a lot going on right?  Me too.  Someone I work with quit and I've got so many new things to do and all this time off I'm taking...."

And imagine not a breath between sentences...or paragraphs.

Don't get me wrong.  These calls are my total joy in life.  But it cracks me up that after an hour on the phone, I come back to sit with Hubby and he's like, "What's new with LuLa??" and I seem to cover it in about 2 minutes.  "You talked for an hour and that's all you've got?" 

Well no.

But it's all I've retained.

LuLa is the BEST wingwoman too.  I used to take her to every social event I was invited to because without her I would shyly walk in and sit to the side and watch people gathering and talking...maybe I'd gravitate and hold on fast to the one person I might know well. LuLa would walk in, take command of the room, know everyone, everyone's story, and everyone's brother and his story by 1 hour in.  Then 6 months later she would be like, "How's Joe's mother doing? Did her hip surgery work out? and Did Janine's brother ever marry the nanny? How about Sue's diet, how is that going?  Seemed crazy to me that she was only eating grapefruit, but she said she'd never felt better.  And Alice's ingrown toenail?"  I'm not kidding.  Meanwhile these people were supposed to be my social circle and I don't even know who she was talking about.  If ever I get up the guts to meet some Bloggy friends, I'm totally flying her in.  Don't worry, it won't be awkward.  She will know every post on your site, I promise.

And don't get me started about LuLa and her MAN.  Suffice it to say, this has been a long strange trip and I'm just happy they seem to be happy in their new status and place. 

So we're trying to convince LuLa (and her MAN) to join us in Venice.  In fact, I want her so much as my wingwoman that I'm considering changing the dates of our trip.  Strolling arm and arm with my best friend/best neighbor through the streets of Venice and Florence sounds like a glorious once in a lifetime opportunity.  Of course the men can come too.  I mean we love each other, but we need to make googly eyes in the gondolas at the men in our lives.  Then leave them behind to go arm and arm on to the museums, shops, sites, and so forth.

Sounds like a plan.

{LuLa I hope you are laughing as you read this....I'm sure we'll talk about it - breathlessly - soon}

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trust Comes in Many Forms...and at Many Levels

During 2008/2009 period when my company was considering the MERGER and other options, I found myself privy to a great deal of confidential business information.  At times it was interesting, intriguing, and surprising.  At times it was TMI level.  Always, it was confidential. 

Sometimes having this information meant having to lie to my team or my supervisor.  Well, at least omitting certain facts.

This was serious business.  There were signed legal documents holding us to the confidentiality requirements.  We were talking with international firms.  We were talking with publicly held firms.  We were talking about radical business changes. 

Today, representatives of the MERGER company were in-house talking about communications...primarily how to increase and improve them.  Part of the discussion was about how to flow the information from the decision-making teams to the communications teams.  There was a lot of "I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you" statements made.  If you are a communications person you know - you have to be IN the know, to plan a communication.  You can't be tasked with prepping for communications or advance drafts or even a master communication schedule if you don't even know the information! 

The kicker to me is the feeling that MERGER company is more rank oriented than we are.  There is definitely a perception that you must be of a certain rank before you can be trusted to be in the loop.  As I recall, while we were having MERGER discusssions, the leaks came from top level people while administrative support staff showed total respect (fear?) of the signed legal documents and were totally trustworthy.  This was evidenced by the fact that our clients heard the whispers before our staff did.  The clients are managed by top-level executives. 

It will be our uphill battle to convince MERGER company that trust comes in many forms, and at many levels.  Trust is NOT defined by rank.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Picture of the Week

Under the heading of "Nice job if you can get it..."

When you are hired to be the store manager for a leading sporting goods organization, they want to make sure you can hold your own in the wilderness.  Here's my cousin's on the job training this week.

Beats a conference room any day.

Rumor has it she wore heels to her skeet shooting lesson.

Quote of the Week

A colleague forwarded an email notice of a coming webinar on Twitter.  I've not become a follower or subscriber of Twitter....yet.  I'm not anti-twitter per se...but holding myself to a 120 character limit would require either too much thought, or not enough thought, to make it worth my while.

In Advertising Age last week I saw a great quote:

"Google before you Tweet
is the new
Think before you Speak"

Of course the funniest thing is that when I sent back a reply to my colleague - who is a most brilliant person, I must say - I told her I was unable to make the webinar, but here's this great quote to use on the call if she liked.

She wrote back, "Okay, I am old…I don’t understand…does that mean Twitter is second to Google? Is there a Google blog or something that I am ignorant of?"


I know.  I know.  There is just too much cyber stuff for us all to keep up on. I admit sometimes when I read Greeblemonkey I think she is speaking in Martian or something.  Good thing there are about 100 webinars a week on cyber tools and social networking we can participate in to get up to speed.

Monday, May 10, 2010

He had me at hello.

I was reading my monthly CW magazine (Communication World for you non-International Association of Business Communicators members) and I stumbled on a great article by Steve Crescenzo called "When is a deadline not really a deadline?"

It had great energy and anecdotal evidence...and he didn't have to work too hard on the anecdotes because for those of us in marketing and communications, it was all too clear just by the title what he was talking about.  But more than that, it had some concrete executable ideas. 

"...Communicators spend too much time fighting the wrong battles.  Two of the most common are the battle to make the deadline and the battle to create something - anything! - that will make it safely through the approval process. The good news is, we win those battles.  We get our stuff out, for the most part, on time.  The bad news is, nobody is paying attention to our content." 

Amen, brother, so what do we do???

  1. Rather than organizing like the old days around print deadlines, "do what the consumer news sites do and publish content as it comes in"
  2. If your communications are tied to public release of information schedules, go beyond the Day 1/Announcement and create "Day Two stories, after the news has broken, when you can do more in-depth pieces....if done well, they're the kinds of stories that people will read."
How refreshing!  Most articles (including those I ghost write) are written to just skim the surface without much real content because who wants to give the store away for free?  It made me think that Mr. Crescenzo may have much more good advice to give.

I noticed that the sidebar referenced his twitter, web and (joy of joys) blog sites.  I've been trying to gather more professional resources on this end as I consider moving into a more transparent blog entity as (gasp) myself in real life.  I'm mere steps away from Google fame I figure.  I strolled on over to the blog link, took a sip of water, and within the first paragraph was immediately choking and spluttering and spit-taking the water all over my desk.

Just like his article, I should have known by the title.  His site is and check out his banner and subtitle!

Today's post was all about the Time article on the "100 most influential people in the world"

"I don’t want to sound bitter, or that I have a mouth full of sour grapes or anything . . . but not making the list would be a much easier pill to swallow if it wasn’t for some of the assholes who DID make the list. I mean, Simon Cowell? Lady Gaga? Sarah Palin?

Good Lord, what is this world coming to when those three bimbos can make the list of 100 Influential People instead of a real thinker and intellectual like myself?"

This guy?  doesn't seem to have a PC bone in his body.  Although it was equal opportunity insults all around.

I kept reading.

"For each person picked, Time asked one of their fans or colleagues to do a little write-up on that person. For Palin, they picked Ted Nugent, arguably the most over-rated rock star of all time.

Terrible Ted likes Sarah. He wants to hunt with her. We can only hope that might happen, because if you put guns in the hands of both of those morons, the odds are very good that one of them will accidentally shoot the other one, and the world will be a much better place." he won me over here because I kind of agree with him.  But not sure I'd have the guts to put that in writing on my CORPORATE site.  I mean, I guess the guy doesn't want to work for Republicans.
Moving on to Hollywood...
"Under the “Heroes,” category, they put actor Ben Stiller. Huh? I like Stiller . . . but, a Hero? This guy is most famous for a scene in “Something About Mary, where he jerks off onto his own face without realizing it, and Cameron Diaz uses the output of said jack off as hair gel."
Shocking sentence after shocking sentence I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.  Did I have the right site? Yes.  It was linked right from his company website right? Yes.  It sells him as a trainer/corporate communicator advisor, right? Yes.

Simultaneously shaking my head in wonder and laughing out loud I continued to read...

"If you go outside right now, and urinate on your neighbor’s front porch, you are already 100 times more influential than Ashton Kutcher. As far as I can tell, the only thing Kutcher has ever done is screw Demi Moore . . . and while that’s certainly a worthy accomplishment, it doesn’t exactly make him influential to anyone but Demi Moore, does it?"

I work for a conservative company.  So conservative that I pause for several minutes and re-read my Linked In status update considering any repercussions on the information I put out there before hitting enter, but this guy?  He gives it right from the nuts.  And I kept reading.

And it was then that it struck me.  I kept READING.  While I'm sure (think?) he would advise a tempered content for corporate messaging, he had me at the very first sentence and I followed him to the end.  This was no short Twitter post either, it was over 1,600 words.  But just like Renee Zellweger, he had me at hello...he had me at hello!

So as I continue to contemplate coming out of the blogging closet with some professional positioning, I will consider the value of shock, awe, laughter, and reader engagement as part of the strategy. 

But maybe I won't start with a post about Ben Stiller's least not right away.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Theory: It's All a Conspiracy

Recently our cable system went fully digital and High Definition.  Didn't really matter much to us, we thought, since we don't have high def tvs yet.  We are waiting for the tvs we own to crap out before investing in a flat panel high def version.

But since the conversion - this is what we see on our screen:

Notice the large black box surrounding the television picture?  I have tried multiple settings to return the image to full screen to no avail.  This is simply what we get on most shows nowadays...

I think it is all a conspiracy with the television manufacturers and the owners of the airwaves.  They want us to buy new tv's not when our existing systems die off, but now. Right now. 

I'm stubbornly refusing to go along for the ride.  But this mini-screen view is really starting to tick me off.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yet Another Freecycle Tale

What would you do if your husband brought home dozens (maybe hundreds) of old trays from his lodge? He brought them home to throw them out and I was horrified to see the waste...even though I was equally horrified to see the rusty dusty things come to my house.

So there they sat....and sat....and sat.

When I decided to attack some of the garage and sort out our summer furniture and offer up some unwanted items to Freecycle, I opened my previously mentioned armoire...and found the trays.

It's been over a year now that they've been stacked in this hidden spot with little or no thought put to what to do with them.

So, I took some photos and offered them up on Freecycle.

OFFER:  Metal Dining Trays, Suffern
My husband's lodge recently cleaned out and had dozens of food/cafeteria trays in various state of condition. Take all and **offer to others what you don't want. Mix of smaller silver finish (not real silver, silver color) and painted (red/orange with some decorative finishes). Hoping somone can save these from a landfill destiny.  Need 12-24 hour notice for pickup. Email me if interested.

I mean some of them were kind of interesting...see this one at left?  Others were just overpainted an ugly red finish.

But who took them?  A lovely woman that goes by the "handle" Wannapaint.  Wannapaint took all of my trays and figured out a really cool answer.  They are magnetic, being metal, even the overpainted ugly ones.  So she's going to paint them in interesting decorative ways and make great little magnetic boards.

How creative is that?  I love it.  She gets a project.  I get a cleaned out space. The trays get a new life outside the landfill.  And some lucky people (she's promising me one!) get some cute magnetic boards.'s awesome.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Emotional Ties

I've been FREECYCLING again and overall it continues to be a feeling of overwhelming freedom and space.  Why, oh why, haven't I done this before!  Garage sale, charity, garbage hauling, something....  Actually, I've always been pretty good about cleaning closets and such, but if there is room in closet or basement or garage it gets filled pretty quickly.

Today, I cleaned off some items that had a little more sentimental value.  The armoire - inexpensive do it yourself furniture piece from Sam's or some similar big box store.  But we put it together ourselves in our apartment in Nyack NY where we were very happy...we polyeurethaned it til it shone...then when we moved and redecorated in our first place of ownership I did some accent/trim paint to match our new more sophisticated decor.  Tonight it sits in our driveway waiting for a stranger to come and take it away.  It has been in the garage for a few years, collecting grime and spiders, but I'm still a little sad to see it go.

I also cleaned off some chairs that have come to us from various family - a very interesting chair we never found a space for although we loved it's interesting shape and style.

Some old chairs in need of re-caning from a family tie at an Inn undergoing refurbishment.  We had thought to re-cane them and re-finish them ourselves for little corner decorative chairs...or maybe even to put them out in garden as rustic pieces...but we never did find the right place or time, so off they go.

I also gave away five fancy dresses today to a friend's daughter whose school was having a dress drive.  This is a good economic indicator...does your middle class high school need to have charity drives to offset the cost of proms?  Theirs does.  This was probably the toughest give of all.  Because each dress I gave was connected with some special event.

The dress I wore to my brother-in-law's wedding.  In this dress I was photographed dancing with my Dad and it is one of my favorite photos.

The dress I bought when I was at my thinnest point ever and wore only once celebrating a shape I have had only once in my life in my favorite color (at the time) of deep purple.

The dress I wore to my best friend Terry's wedding.  The memories of buying this dress about 2 hours before the wedding are tied to the wonderful experience of watching her marry a wonderful man and enjoying a fabulous evening with good friends.

The dress I wore to my nieces Bat Mitzvah.  All about meeting the glamour expectations of a 13-year old for one of the most important days of her young life.

The dress I wore as Maid of Honor in my cousin's wedding just this past October.  A new beginning and now a bittersweet memory since the site of her wedding reception was shortly thereafter the site of her brother's memorial service.

What I came to realize as I reluctantly cleaned off the armoire and chairs, and bagged up the dresses, is that every one of these are just things.  Things that have lived their useful life with me and can now go on and give pleasure to others.

It is the memories that are precious.

Favorite Sayings...

At a recent job interview, Mrs. Brightside was asked if she had a personal motto.  My response? You've got to be kidding me??? Actually, I think I actually commented, "I would kill" or something sensitive like that.  If this is how they are differentiating in this job market that is flooded with qualified applicants, we are all lost.

But as a conversation starter, it offers an interesting question, don't you think?  Just like those party games where people are asked their five favorite books, movies, songs, etc.  It always gets the room buzzing with agreement or debate. Do I have a personal motto?  I began thinking of those favorite sayings and those quotable quotes that you are a few that came to mind.

  1. Ellen Degeneris singing "Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming" - I swear this pops into my head when my frustration is at an all time high and patience is at an all time low.
  2. "That guy could screw up a one car freight train"  Isn't that an awesome visual?  I can just see some idiot actually screwing up that simple task.  This was one of my dad's favorites.
  3. "You think education is expensive? Try ignorance!"  I saw that on a bumper sticker once and it totally stuck with me.  Maybe because I'm the daughter of a teacher, maybe because I think education is THE silver bullet when it comes to poverty and prejudice. 
  4. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed people can change the world. Do you know why?...Because it's the only thing that ever has."  West Wing Quote that lives in my brain forever.  A reminder to keep trying to change things even when it feels like you are banging your head on a brick wall.
  5. "Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself."  This Tolstoy quote is a great reminder to NOT bang your head against that wall until you've faced what changes must be made inside you.
So what are your favorite quotes, sayings or personal mottos?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Post Script On Sunday Accident

I haven't gone back to house (yet) to check on the dog's health, but our car ended up in the shop for a $150 repair. This may be a combination of when Hubby hit a deer (similar situation as dog) and my Sunday incident...but it's just a car, and repairable.  I can only hope the vet visit had similar quick fix result.

He Who Smelt It....Dealt It

Springtime in my neighborhood is ripe with the smell of skunks.  It permeates my home especially when we are trying to enjoy the short season between FREEZING and HOT AS HELL that is a New York spring.  I enjoy an open window and a window fan for sleeping, much more so than the canned air from A/C that I live in all day at work, but when it brings skunk stink....not quite the springtime fresh scent I'm going for.

Today at work, all I can smell is skunk.  I'm trying to figure out if (a) I'm imagining it...(b) it is some kind of sour smell from the flowers my boss gave me last week...or (c) heaven forbid I've absorbed the skunk smell into my own skin. 

Have you ever chased a smell?  I've been known to drive my Hubby crazy by walking into a room and saying, "Something smells....Don't you smell that?  What IS that smell?"  And never EVER actually identifying the smell.  Perhaps at times it is receptiveness to certain hormonal/pheremonal scents.  Perhaps it is truly just a whiff in the air that is traveling through.  But when those smells occur that totally turn you off...and you can't figure out where it is coming from, or even describe it? That is one of the most frustrating things in life.

Once I moved into a new room at the office and the smell drove me batty!  I thought is was residual from the previous occupant.  Finally I purchased a plug in room freshener.  When I crawled under the desk to plug it in, I came face to face with three dead mouse carcasses.  So, while I may not be able to identify it...I definitely sense it.  Kind of half....nosed? (get it....instead of half-assed?)

A few years ago I was chasing a smell around our bedroom.  I was convinced something had died or been really really ill somewhere in our room, our closet, or between our walls.  But I could never quite put my finger on it.  We went away on vacation and when we returned, the smell seemed to be gone.  Then, within hours of coming home, it came back again with a vengeance.  Finally Hubby muscled my huge dresser away from the wall (the one place I hadn't fully investigated) and there was a huge black patch all around an electrical socket.  It had disappeared because we weren't home to use the power!  Turns out we were overloading the electrical system in our old house because the fuses were accepting too much power before blowing (wrong grade, or something technical like that).  I maintain to this day that we avoided a deadly electrical fire by my superior stink detector (oh and Hubby's muscle too).  Remember that movie with Steve Martin playing a version of Cyrano with the big nose.  He led the fire department through the streets sniffing out the smoke from the fire as he went.  "That fire was beat by a nose!"  True dat.

As a parting note to this bizarre and rambling post about scentology I'll just say one more thing.  A friend of mine has no sense of smell. She lost it for some reason and it has never returned. It is something I don't know if she will ever fully get over.  What we don't realize, she says, is how much this sense affects everything else. Mood. Appetite. Sense of time, even! Imagine going to your favorite restaurant and you can't smell the food cooking! Imagine no scent of freshly mown grass, coffee, cologne! Imagine no scent of rain or morning dew. 

So, given the choice, skunks do your worst.  Just remember he who smelt it, dealt it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Wonderful Sunday...with One Exception

Well, besides my domestic failure turning into a culinary success, the day was full of high notes.  Good times at our friends' house - hanging by the pool, shooting the sh*t, marveling at the growing teenagers with the deep voices, and just generally doing a lot of laughing, munching, sunning, and funning.  At a certain point our plan for LINNER turned into a full out plan for DINNER as we had munched our way through so many snacks upon first arrival no one wanted the cold cuts and salads that were planned for our meal.

So we took a late afternoon break to go see one of the kids take her riding lesson.

This, sadly, was my best photo of the afternoon due to the inability to use flash in the dark barn (don't want to spook the horses).  I have to say I was quite impressed with Chloe's technique especially given the tough beast she was riding who would have much preferred to be left lounging in his stall on this very hot and humid afternoon rather than being put through the paces of an English riding lesson. 

We strolled through the barn visiting the other horses, seeing some incredibly beautiful animals - one of which looked like it had a totally fake coat due to the impossible silvery whiteness of his hair against the large black patches.  I should have taken a picture, but he wouldn't turn to face us and I just felt a picture of a horse's ass was just too much for my little blog (and might invite comparative comments).

We were in good (and finally hungry) mood returning to the house when I suddenly caught movement from the left side of the road and realized that a dog was running full tilt into the road ahead of us.  I slammed on my brakes, but it was just inevitable that it happened and we collided.  The poor thing jumped up and ran off immediately which gave me some hope, but I had heard and felt the horrible crunch when we hit and I could not imagine he was uninjured.  A woman with a nearly identical dog was standing by the side of the road and she went after the one we hit yelling back for us to watch the other dog.

When we finally tracked her down she had managed to corral both dogs on a back porch of a house and she said, "Oh, he seems fine."  This being the same clueless woman who CALLED HER DOG to COME from across a busy street.  It was a miracle there wasn't a huge pile-up considering cars coming the opposite direction and about 7cars behind me all traveling at about 45 miles per hour.  I insisted she take the dog to the vet in case he had experienced any internal injuries.  We didn't exchange information - she was too frazzled, and I was too hesitant. I did note the house, however, and I may find myself stopping or leaving a note in the mailbox this week to see how the dog is doing.

After that, I switched from the diet pepsi I had been drinking all day (hence my driving instead of others to the barn) and had a stiff vodka tonic.  Hubby drove us home.

Another Domestic Failure

Well, this morning I determined to make cookies to take to our friends' house for our "Linner" (since Brunch timing didn't work for folks).  Peanut butter cocoa cookies to be exact, which I expected to be a hit with our host since he is all about chocolate, peanut butter, and if I could find a way to include it - bananas.  Some of you may know that I am NOT the cook in the family, but typically I can handle baking.  At least since my first chocolate chip cookie disaster in which I thought that 2-1/2 cups meant 2, half cups of flour and I made burnt soup.

Flash back to that moment today.  Once the batter was mixed, it seemed a bit loose to me...but I attributed it to the warm weather.  I stuck the bowl of batter in the freezer for about 15 minutes while I cleaned up kitchen assuming it would stiffen up.  Then I decided I didn't want to bother with drop cookies, so I looked up the directions for pan cookies.  I like the way those all melt together better anyway - better distribution of the good chip stuff.

The pan directions called for a pan about 15x9.  I think mine is nearly that size...but maybe a little smaller.  I scooped and spread the batter in, now chilled to the consistency of warm peanut butter, and stuff it into the oven.  When the timer buzzed I returned to the kitchen concerned about the smell of burning....was the tray too low in the oven I wondered?

The batter had overflowed all four sides of the pan and was slowly burning away on the bottom of the oven.  My oven with the broken self-cleaning function.  Oh joy of joys.

I pulled out the tray and began scooping the burning batter off the bottom of the oven.  Calmly.  In that scary calm way that tells that I'm just about done with all my patience.  Sometimes that calm can carry me through, sometimes it is just the moment before the big blow.

Once the worst of the batter was scooped out, amazingly without a single burnt digit or melted spatula, I turned to the tray.  The edges were nicely browned and baked, so I broke off a piece - DELICIOUS!  I determined to scrape the overflowing bits off the sides and return the tray to the oven.  It couldn't get worse right?  I already have a messy smelly oven to clean and no cookies to bring to LINNER. 

To ensure no more spillover, I put a larger tray underneath the first tray and stuck it back in for another 4 minutes...and then another 2.  It is cooling on top of the stove right now and I'm hoping for a hail mary win here with some creative slicing of the results. 

But if not, A&P bakery section here I come.  And at least I have an entertaining, self-deprecating, typical Wenderina domestic mess anecdote to share with my friends.


Ah the beauty of Mom's milk-glass platter and my own creative cutting...saved again.

Post- Post- Script:
Cookie/Brownie things disappeared like magic at the party.  Just goes to show you, even a domestic failure can be a culinary success.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Trying to Get Motivated

So Hubby did me a huge fav this morning.  He took the cats to the vet and let me stay home.  All week we've been talking about taking both cats in meant all hands on deck.  Then last night I came home in a manic craze thinking about the amount of work I have to do (for the job).  When he first offered to take the cats in alone I refused because I just knew that I would waste the time at home anyway and wouldn't engage in work.  It is my perfect procrastination pose, you see.  But this morning, he insisted.

And so as I waved goodbye to the mewling two in the back and the smiling one in the front I tried to get motivated to work.  To make the latter portion of the weekend can be about relaxation.  And I came indoors and decided first I MUST have something to drink.  I made a pitcher of ice tea.  Then, I MUST unload the dishwasher because I needed one glass for the ice tea.  Then I MUST have something to eat too, so I made some toast and fruit.  OK, getting real now.  Take the laptop out and plug it in.  Then I MUST find some inspiring i-tunes to get me going.  And then I MUST just check in on my blog reader. Ok, getting really real dammit.  But just one more thing.  I MUST post a blog about getting to work.

Wonder if I can find anything else to do before I actually get real.