Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays Everyone.....

A little late, but better late than never.  The holiday rush so far has been quite hectic.  My big sis came up with her darling little dog Josie, and we've all been oohing and ahhing over this sweet little dachshund.   I've had some work to do, but mostly just doing necessary family bonding.  Tuesday is a big meeting day - we're presenting some housing options to my mom - she's just about ready to get out of the nursing home, but my house isn't really an option.  Wish us luck.   I've already prepping for what I want to do in the new year and more frequent posting is one of them - so more to come....

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Different Thanksgiving.....

....For us anyway.  Small - intimate - trying to create an experience for my children and I when all of my loved ones are too far away.   

I always used to say I belonged to a family that looked like the mid-Mia Farrow phase of Woody Allen's movies (Hannah and Her Sisters).   I have two sisters, and within our extended family, we had large, rambling holidays.  I loved it.  There was always almost too much to do.  Thanksgivings where tables groaned under the weight of what everyone had brought. One year we all watched the Philadelphia parade with babies bundled on our backs, only to return home to chaos as my mom tried to pull it all together (we pitched in and pulled it off).  One year, we rented a huge beach house in Topsail and had what was the last family shindig we'd remember with everyone healthy.  Last year, I drove the kids down to Durham and sat with my sister on the balcony of her little, too hot apartment, with 20 people inside - happy to be there.

We had Christmases where we were snowed in after reaching our destination and sat around a fireplace over steaming bowls of chili - followed by a big pajama party of sorts. Feast of the Seven Fishes at either my sister's hose or my best friend's family - I was a happily adopted child those years.  Carols around the spinet (really!),  long dining tables and laughter.  Big open houses where friends and family would come by, the wine would flow and the glow of the holiday far outweighed the exhaustion of trying to put it all together. 

This year....Mom won't be out on from the nursing home.  My sister is working in Durham and can't come up - her partner's mother is fighting Alzheimer's and she cannot leave her alone, so for the two of them to come up, well, it just won't work.  For the first time in my life, I will not see any of  my family this Thanksgiving.  The kids and I are going to have dinner together, and I'll bring up a platter to my mother later.  R and I were talking about what to do as we shopped at Whole Paycheck last night to gather what we needed for Thursday.  They're fine with it just being us - they've always found the holiday thing too overwhelming - while I'm spinning like a top, tears just behind my eyes.   R made a suggestion - let's do something to create our own small tradition.    Eating at our large dining room table, just the three of us, is a depressing thought.  We're struggling with what to do to make this seem small, intimate and wonderful, not depressing.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know.....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Catching Up...... has been moving quickly lately.   Mom is settled into her nursing home, none too happy, but knows its the best place for her to be (at the moment).  My feelings are mixed here - on the one hand, there is a huge weight lifted from my shoulders - no second guessing on parenting (from the woman who would have NEVER won the Donna Reed award - more likely the Joan Crawford award), I get to deal with my teens on MY terms.  I don't have someone who, though I do love her very much just sucked the life out of me, demanding my attention every spare moment I have.  It's a freedom that I enjoy, though I wish she were more comfortable.  She's at the end of her life and she knows it and is choosing to be miserable about it.  

Other news....I attended a reunion this weekend.  It was a reunion of old friends and associates that worked for a research/advisory firm.  We met up in NYC at an Irish bar on the Upper East Side.  Apart from terrible weather on Saturday, it was  a wonderful, much needed weekend.  I spent the weekend with close friends, one especially close friend.  I don't talk about him much because much of our relationship is undefined or defies definition, but he has a good chunk of my heart.  One day, we'll get our acts together as our other commitments to job, kids and the like shift - but right now, we're both thankful for the time we get to spend together.   We spent a rainy Saturday strolling, doing silly touristy stuff like visit Zabar's and the Met. Over drinks at the Plaza, we chuckled over silly things and smiled. He was a very good doobie, I threw him into the mix of these old friends and he more than held his own..  these are friends that can pick up after not seeing each other for months or years without missing a beat.  We speak our own language, laugh uproariously at shared jokes and experiences, and wish for those that aren't present, knowing they are firmly planted in our hearts.  It was pure joy.   

I headed home Sunday to be nominated for VP of our club's golf association (why? I don't know other than I am tired of the junk that is going on), visited Mom and crashed.   I need a weekend from my weekend. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Exercise Your Rights.....Vote!!!

If you don't act, you're part of the problem. Whatever your politics, don't think this is tilted to any one side. Exercise your rights....VOTE


obama ....Not that I'm trying to sway anyone at this late date....;-) 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sometimes Teenagers Are Actually Cool.....

Tonight, the kids and I went to Bonefish Grill - we laughed over dinner and teased each other unmercifully.  They clucked over their grandmother in the rehab hospital (well, M did as much as he could); and we went home and sat together for a while. When it got too girly for M, R and I sat and watched Bridget Jones and giggled.  Sometimes teenagers can be soo cool....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Back to Some Recipes: Rotisserie Chicken

I love me some rotisserie chicken.  I like to use it in a variety of recipes, or just to have it in the fridge to pick on for lunch. What I don't like is that they tend to be very small, and if you don't get them just out of the oven, they can be dry and pretty awful.  I actually have tapered off buying them lately because the last few I brought home were overdone and really salty, but I missed the wonderful taste of a good one. Devonshire Deb turned me onto A Year of Crockpotting.  Some of the recipes look a little wacky for my taste, but most are just great.  When she posted a recipe for homemade rotisserie chicken, I had to give it a shot.

Of course, no pictures - check out the blog - mine came out the same way and I have to tell you, this chicken was BETTER than store bought.  It couldn't have been easier.  I do heartily recommend pulling off the breast skin and any visible fat, you won't miss it and the juices are much leaner that  way.  

I also made oven fries that will be submitted for pictures very soon, because the kids loved them so much, they ate the whole dish! (Noble Pig - I will be submitting this one!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Change of Scenery....

I've never liked my new template - it never totally felt like I've spent the last few days browsing through blogger templates to find one that felt more like me..and this is it.  It looks a little like my office desk, with its ever present cup of coffee, pens, scissors and photos (ok, not my sailboats, but I do love them).  I felt the need for the change.  I hope you like it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Mom is still in the hospital - another stroke.  We're trying to get her into a nursing home, but it's proving to be a nightmare - most places won't take her because she was in less than 60 days ago and she's used up her rehab supplement - they don't want to give up a rehab bed for someone who probably is looking at long term nursing care - so they will charge us $125/day. Now I see how people can lose everything. We're applying for Medicaid but it's not yet been approved.  Bottom line, don't get old without plenty of money in the bank or long term disability insurance.   I'm at my wits' end.  The red tape, a frightened senior citizen - kid problems (my son is autistic and turning 18, so we're dealing with guardianship issues). I need to be on the road next week and most of next month.  I'm actually looking forward to that just to have a break. My family is far away, my friends - absent. I'm not eating right, forget exercise, I have had a stress headache for a week. I am at a loss.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Do You Do?

When the man you love is a (somewhat) conservative Republican and you're riding around with Obama Stickers on your  car??

Answer (Our compromise - we'll put election signs for each party on our collective front lawn).


Your mom is back in the hospital again and you know its nursing home time, but you like her there in the house where she's safe and warm? 

Answer - you hug, you kiss their foreheads and call social workers to try and locate something that everyone can live with


Your booking travel when life is totally up in the air.....

Answer - You pray that you find a hotel with a lenient cancellation policy



When did life get so complicated??

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Up to my eyeballs at work

I have three big deliverables all due within the next week and it looks like there will be mucho road time coming up. Sorry kids, I can't come out to play right now.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kudos to My Girl at Caffeine Court....

Truer words were never spoken.  We love that you read - when there are no comments, we think we're talking to ourselves....I do it enough in the car and in the store. C'mon folks, SHARE!!!

In fact, I am making an end of year resolution to be better about leaving comments myself.

10,000 Steps a Day and Other Innocuous Observations

I've started to walk 10,000 steps a day.  It's approximately 4.5 miles per day.  Wish me luck.  

It was so cold this morning, I lit the fireplace to take the chill off the rooms.  I love that.

Sourdough makes great french toast and if you use a boule style loaf, they are as big as a steak.  Watching my 14-year old sigh with delight and bop while eating it (think Bill Cosby's bit about his kids eating cake for breakfast) made my day.

I'm too lazy to take pictures of said french toast.

I saw "Religulous", Bill Maher's new movie and I liked it - it was thought provoking and hilarious - and no, I'm not going to write about it. If you'd like to know my opinions of the movie, drop me an email. 

I think Facebook's "SuperPoke" is highly over-rated. 

I'm still madly in love with my coffee maker, I'm thinking of starting a Facebook community for Cuisinart Fans.

Now....wasn't that boring????  Given the pervasive nastiness of the comments left in some of my friends' blogs - and the snarky finger pointing in others, I figured it was safer to talk about the inanities of life rather than have an exchange of ideas.  Come ON people - let's have a dialogue and let the politicians sling mud at each other.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wish I Had Seen THIS....Sunday


Would have saved me a couple of hours scrubbing my stove top....

BTW, Delish is a new food site (and is a sister site to Home Beautiful).  Check it out, it's pretty good.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oh Please.....

Comments from the Speaker of the House wrecked the Bailout Bill?  What have we come to???

What I Did This Weekend

My sister came up from Durham for the weekend.  We shopped, cooked, laughed and just hung out.  On Friday, our friend Gary, the gifted artist of Mather&Smith Designs (whose wonderful work I showed in this entry) came up for lunch and shopping.  I rearranged my sun room and needed a console table.  We first Burlington Coat Factory - nada.  We hit Home Goods #1 - nada. Stopped for noodle soup and coffee, then headed for Home Goods #2 (I live in shopping Mecca), and bingo - we found the console and an adorable little accent table, too!

IMG_1225 IMG_1227

Saturday - my sis went to our hair stylist - she's nicknamed her the "hair whisperer" and I stayed home to clean out my bedroom closet and hang new curtains in the bedroom.  It's really starting to look to nice now.  The new blinds are ultra-suede Roman shades..(note suitcase always in corner...the road warrior returns).


My new(ish) bed is leather...


We were supposed to go see Bill Maher, but I admit that after carting old hangers and donation clothes out to the garage, I was beat and I sorta fell asleep on the floor. 

Sunday was Family Dinner day.  The kids were coming home early, so we decided to make an early Rosh Hashanah dinner.  Sis and I made brisket, potato pancakes, braised cabbage and noodle kugel.  Ok, we bought the noodle kugel and I was sous chef for most of it, but here goes:

First we prepped and browned the side of beef brisket while preheating the oven to 300 degrees:




(note the chef's tongs expertly moving the brisket around the pan)

Next, we cut carrots and onion to put in the pan with roasting brisket


Then we browned the mushrooms:


and added everything into the pot:


Now, here is where the pain in the ass younger sister (me), complains how my sis trashes the kitchen whilst she cooks:


Her comment? All great chefs make a mess......

We covered the brisket with some veggie broth and crushed tomatoes in the pain (enough to braise), seasoned with salt, lemon pepper and bay leaf, then put it into the oven at 300 degrees and let it cook for about 1 1/2 hours.  At that time, she pulled it out and poured a can of coke *no diet please!!!* over the roast.  Back in for another 2 hours. 

We then set out to make the potato pancakes. We followed Joan Nathan's recipe.

Peeled potatoes:


hard to tell, but I cut my finger on the peeler....


Note my sister's exquisite knife technique - good to know that education went for something.....;-)


We cut up a bunch of scallions, grated the potatoes. Then, while sis was visiting with Mom, I squeezed the liquid out of the potatoes.  Then I grated a LARGE Vidalia onion and mixed it in with the potato.  Next, we whisked two eggs, sprinkled some flour in, salt pepper and scallions.  Sis formed pancakes and set to work.


We heated a healthy dose of canola oil in a pan (NOTE - this is NOT health food).



After we finished the batch of potato pancakes, it was time to take the meat out of the oven.  We made a roux and thickened the juices into a sauce for the meat. 


We had red cabbage braising in the red dutch oven in the rear of the picture. Sis made that in the morning before I got the camera out.   By now, the entire house smelled wonderful and we were all starving!!  Sis plated and .......




It was delicious!  I would show you the aftermath in the kitchen, but Sis threatened to break the camera...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Little Target Therapy

The prep in me cannot resist a couple of new sweaters for fall.....


and....sweater vest


And hoodies and sweater dresses for the kids....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In Memoriam.....

Paul Newman died today at 82.  He was an incredible, if under-rated actor, a husband, father and philanthropist.  He was my first crush, and remained dear to me through out my adolescence, and as an adult, I respected his charitable activities, Newman's Own, the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang and his vigorous support of the Democratic Party.  His work with the Westport Playhouse was also another passion. 

Paul newman

I think I've seen most of his movies (Cool Hand Luke, Hud and Exodus were my favorites).  I adored and continue to adore him. Not only because he was beautiful, with those incredible blue eyes and killer smile, but also for his subtle acting, his commitment to his wife, his children and his charities.  In my eyes, he was perfect.  Rest well Paul, you will be forever missed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How Can We Handle This Delicately?

I'm watching the debates and I'm sickened.  By the way this debate is going. Not really answering questions, McCain won't look at Obama (which is f**king racist, if you ask me)...and the lousy atmosphere of debates where candidates have to bash each other, and not discuss the true issues of WHAT THEY WILL DO. I am outraged.....why is it that we cannot have candidates engage in a battle of ideas, not this dirty mess. I'll grant you, that it's not as obnoxious as the 2000 debate, but this is ugly.  Perhaps I'm too much of an idealist. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A New Addition To The Family


Isn't it cute?

A Crash Course in Foreign Policy?

Sarah Palin meets with foreign leaders to get a crash course in foreign policy.  Meetings with the leader of the Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and Columbian President Alvaro Uribe and an hour long cram session with Henry Kissinger (who better, right?) are little more than photo ops.  Outside of introductions, what could she possibly learn? It was so orchestrated, so calculated, it had to make you laugh.  Karzai and Uribe have close ties with the Bush administration, no surprise there.  I'd like to see Palin meet with the leaders of the G8 (where half the leaders don't agree with us) and see how she fares.  What I do think was interesting was the meeting with Kissinger.  Obviously he's old school Republican, successful in the more subtle art of diplomacy - and also a Secretary State during the Vietnam war and rumored to be a major player of the bloody coup in Chile in the 70s.   What could he tell her in an hour?  Here's how to orchestrate a political coup and win a Nobel Peace Prize at the same time? Another photo-op.  What was the point of this?  It's obvious that McCain is experienced in foreign policy (although I don't agree with his views), and he's the one running for president - Introducing Ms. Palin to these leaders is nothing but a PR stunt and this PR stunt is, well, I don't want to bring up that awful joke again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I just can't get started today.......

....Could it have been the three glasses of wine and martinis I had last night??  No, kids, I'm not sitting at home alone in the dark drowning my sorrows.  I met my bestie, Devonshire Design, at a local watering hole that was having a "Wine, Women and Wisdom" night.  Only, there wasn't much wisdom to be had - unless you count our pontificating on the woes of the financial crisis.  After your second glass of wine, you're brilliant, right?   Anyway, the event was an excuse to pour mediocre wine, consume many little hors d'oeuvres, and to wait for the hostess to call your number for a door prize.  So, DD and I sat there and watched every table - and every person at every table - get called up to get a goody bag.  They called the numbers before ours, and after ours, but not ours.  Finally, the hostess announced that there were two tickets left in the bowl.  DD and I looked at each other - that mean one of us HAD to win the last prize.  She pulled out the ticket ...........and didn't call either number.  It was someone else who had won. We just howled.  It was our luck, wasn't it?*****

After the evening ended, we went down to the bar to chat about real things - DD is looking at downsizing (job, not her, she's already doing that and looks GREAT!), what the kids are up to, my new job and complicated life situations and our wandering roads of relationships (it hasn't been dull for either of us). That took the two martinis to complete.  So, here I am, fuzzy headed and lazy this morning, not able to really concentrate on the work in front of me, but happy I got to waste an evening with my bestie. 


*****  By the way, the numb-nut of a hostess had pulled the ticket out of the wrong bowl!  DD actually wound up winning lunch for two.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Returning to Recipes

It's been a while since I've posted any recipes - While Mom was in nursing home, I ate out more often than not. Now that she's home, I'm back to cooking.  It's like a bicycle, you never really forget.... ;-)

One of the great things about working at home is that I can actually make dinner and we can eat it together at a reasonable hour.  R's high school is literally across the street from our house, so even with the clubs and activities, she's home pretty early as is M.  Today, was a lovely spring day which made it okay to turn on the oven (when it's hot, I grill).   I decided to make Mahi-Mahi in parchment paper, sautéed kale with beans and the lovely potato recipe I got from Cathy over at Noble Pig

I prepped the potatoes - see the link above for prep photos.


Next, chopped the kale, a small onion, and some garlic. 


I sauteed the onion first


When the onion was translucent, added the garlic, the kale, a little vegetable broth. Tossed in a healthy pinch of dried oregano, red pepper flakes and sage


Cooked it down a little and added a drained and rinsed can of beans and let simmer (note - I used pinto here, but you can use navy beans or garbanzo beans)

Put the fish filet on a large piece of parchment paper on an ungreased cookie sheet, sliced lemon and tomato and arranged over top, followed by capers and s few sprigs of thyme:


Voila - and guess what start to finish was 40 minutes!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I have officially become a geek.......

I'm in love...I admit it to the world.....the object of desire is not a man, or my kids (especially not this week), a handbag, shoes, or a watch.   It's a software program.  That's right kids, a SOFTWARE program.  You see, my thought process is usually something like this:

Margo's Thought Process

For an analytic person, I'm all over the place.  I start with a premise thought and as I work through the details, it's not unusual for me to work through multiple iterations as I find new pieces of information or rethink a process (or remember something else that I was supposed to do) until I get to my final destination - and even then I may go back and rethink it again.  My dear Boston buddy calls it navel gazing or rumination, but in reality, its rampant ADD. I can barely write a sentence without stopping to check out a website, read a headline, get a cup of coffee - honestly the inside of my head looks like a Family Circle cartoon where Jeffy goes looking for his lost sneaker.   Back at the new job, my task is to research and write analysis - lots of unstructured time which can be death for someone like me. 

To combat this, I have discovered Mind Mapper. It is a thought processing application that allows you to capture thoughts and arrange them in a flow chart/org charg/process chart that makes sense. It allows you to create relationships between thoughts so that you can support your hypothesis (Really sounding geeky now, aren't I??).  Essentially, it allows me to capture thoughts and ideas in any manner and turn the above spaghetti into this:

Testing Certification. Nice To Have Or Necessary.

Doesn't it look so orderly?  It simply reeks of an ordered thought process. What you don't see is that I've jumped all over the place, finding bits and pieces of information and shoving it in there until I can arrange it to make sense of it.  I've destroyed my last notebook. It will save my least until my Vyvance kicks in..

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I thought Sundays were supposed to be quiet.....

Saturday, T.S. Hanna hit NJ.  We got a good 3 to 4" of rain.  I was afraid that my new gazebo would float away (it's in the low area of the  yard); nope, it was fine.  Saw that as I walked into my kitchen - attempted to make coffee and found that the coffee maker broke.  XE#R$@#)%^&$.   As I struggled through a cup of tea (love tea, but first cup of the day HAS to be coffee), I was talking to my mom on the phone. She asked how we made out.  My response? 

"Oh fine........oh shit..."

I had walked out to my sun room and looked out the window to something that looked like this:



Only a lot more of it....and it looked a bit like this:glass

My son had carried in the cushions from the patio prior to the rain starting, but the poor kid forgot the umbrella (which was up).  There was a microburst - high wind gusts. It must have lifted up the umbrella and slammed it and the patio table back down on the patio. 
The glass top shattered all over my potted tomatoes and peppers and covered the patio.  My son was so upset - he was beside himself  that he had forgotten the umbrella.  I had to actually calm him down before we could clean it all up.  Thank God for shop-vacs. 

After we got it cleaned up, I ran to visit my mom, as I stopped to get snacks for my daughters' band meeting, the phone rang.  It was my mom, asking for hearing aid batteries - No problem there, there's a drug store next to the nursing home.  I get into the drugstore and the phone rings again.  Mom, again, asking for a salad from the local deli that's ten minutes in the opposite direction.  I had exactly an hour before the girls got to the house for the band meeting. Twenty minutes out for a salad let very little time to visit Mom, who's been having a difficult time, but I said okay.  Ran back, got the salad and run back to the nursing home (when you don't drive, you don't realize there's a GAS CRISIS going on).  It's packed, so I have to park at the end of the employee lot and hustle my way up to see her.  We get to visit for 22 minutes and then I have to run back.  While the girls are setting up, I grab a couple of quiet minutes to scan the headlines, then book back out to buy a coffee maker - there is NO way that I will wake up tomorrow to a cup of tea.  Got back replaced the coffee maker and started to pull together dinner.  Noted the late time (after 5) and called down to the daughter to ask the game plan.  "Well, would you mind if they stayed?"  Of course not....Ordered a couple of pizzas (so great for my diet) and roasted a few veggies (have to give them SOMETHING healthy).  Here are the budding superstars:


R is the drummer (Don't they remind you of Josie and the Pussycats?).   After a few hours of playing, eating, drinking sodas, eating chips and salsa and blasting my stereo - an old Sansui stereo that still kicks ass, thank you very much - I started to look like this:


Note the eyes...the grimace...the fact that I'm thinking my Detroit Tigers' baseball cap is a decent fashion accessory.  Ahhh...I think I found something that will remedy the situation:



It's called a Presbyterian,  after all, it IS Sunday.......

Friday, September 5, 2008

Train to Boston

I love taking the train.  Early in my career, I would take it to NYC for work on Wall Street (Smith Barney, Gruntal & Co, Quick & Reilly - anyone who worked in finance in the late 80s knew those names).  Later on, I would either go to Boston for my old/current employer, or to DC for my previous employer.  The vibe on these trains are totally different. Now, when I had a lower per diem, it was Metroliner all the way - with parents, students, working folks.  Then, when time became more of a premium,  the Acela became my transit of choice. 

I love the Acela - 90 mins to NY, 90 mins to DC - it was great.  The trips from Philly from DC were always most interesting. I've shared many a commute with Senators Bob Casey and Arlen Spector of PA, current VP candidate Joe Biden and on the rare occasion, Governor Corzine of NJ (he tends to drive).  I've sat with many lobbyists, junior office workers and software geeks like myself, trying to sell more software to the Department of Defense (weirdo seeing that I am a pacifist). 

Today I'm heading back up to Boston to start back at my old/current employer. It's a long, now boring story on why I left, I'm just glad to be back.  My point here today is the ride.  It is the most civilized way to travel on the east coast.  When you're a lucky enough camper to get the first class bump, it's as close to what I've read train travel was like in the 30s, 40s and maybe even 50s.  You get redcap service.  I've done the Acela route so many times, to both Boston and Philly, the redcaps recognize me and ask after me.  There's no promise of extra service and that's not the point. It's the pleasantry, the politeness of the process that makes it so human (when was the last time anyone asked anything polite of you on an airline????).  You get a drink, cocktail or otherwise and a menu. There is linen service and its human.  If I got a PBJ, that would be fine because of the civility of the whole process.

I ordered a small bite, which was a wonderful smoked fish platter.  It was fresh, the lemon was fresh - incredible.  Looking out the window, I see Trenton fly by and in no time we're in Newark - which, if you ignore the grime, is a beautiful old station.  There are exposed gothic beams, the flipping station numbers (anyone who stood in Penn Station knows that rat-a tat-tat sound of the train information rolling up the station board).  Then you go over the Hudson River and into New York.  it's not beautiful here, the industrialization has taken the natural beauty away, but the industrial workings here has a beauty of its own. It may be a New Jersey thing.

Connecticut is flat our beautiful. Your cell phone won't work - maybe its the income level ratio to cell phone tower, but forget getting a call in CT.  Doesn't matter because the view outside your window is lovely.  Lots of water, boats and it fills your mind with preppy thoughts.  I would love to live in the flats down there, seeing water out of three sides of the house - it looks peaceful.  Rhode Island, more of the same, then 20 minutes later, you're in Boston.  You can work the whole way, if you have a mobile card, you're connected just about the whole way.  With more then half of the flights between Philly and Boston delayed or canceled, why travel any other way?

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Beginnings and Old Demons

Well, I'm back online. Let me clarify - I'm back online with a computer that I don't have to wrestle away from teenagers.  I'm getting ready to leave in a couple of hours for Boston, to restart my old job.  My feelings are mixed - I cannot wait to get started with the job - even though I know it can be overwhelming and full of pressure - I just really feel my best with this type of work and to get paid to research, write and express my opinion? Well, for me it's a good fit. I had to leave it for a while to realize that.  We all laugh about nerd revenge - that is what this job is - nerd revenge. It's fun working with the smartest people you know.  I set up my old office and for being in a lousy basement, it doesn't look so bad.  There's a Brady Bunch rec room feel to it.

I spent most of August absolutely alone.  Some of it by choice.  I got to play more golf in the last three weeks than I have in the last two years.  I needed it. Golf is therapeutic for me, believe it or not.  I may be only an average golfer, but when I do connect - it's wonderful.  My kids were off to finish various vacations and they are gone today.  I spent a lot of time with myself.   Because Mom is still in nursing home, I barely cooked, ate at my local golf club most nights - which meant I spent too much and drank a little too much. Not too much in a sitting, but more frequently than I normally would.  With job starting in 24 hours, that has been put away as part of vacation lore. 

I willingly shunned social activity - a couple of close friends who forced me to come over to their houses (and for that I am grateful) even when I hemmed and hawed.  If you weren't in front of my face, you weren't going to see me. It took a hammer hit to the head to make me notice anything and I thank the few who physically came and got me and made me hang out - it was wonderful and I needed it.   Was I contemplating my future? No - well, not really.  Was I slowing down to read the teetering stack of books on my night stand?  Not really - although I did get through David Sedaris' latest and found it not as good as earlier work. Read Jen Lancaster's  Such a Pretty Fat, which made me go the gym for a week.  I spent more time with my kids, wandering through Philadelphia, going to farmer's market and going to the movies.  I spent most of my time filing for Medicaid and was happy to  see some of my old organizational ability has returned because it took me a week when it takes most people months to get it together. Mostly, I just was there, in the moment, whether I liked it or not.

I wish I could say that I emerged from the cocoon of depression that has been around me for the last couple of years.  I don't think I've broken totally free - not just yet, but I think the cocoon is cracked open because I may see slivers of light.  It could be just me doing a better job of coming to terms with the realities of my life and letting go of what I thought I wanted.  I got handed a full plate and not with the pretty food I wanted.  I'm sure my actions had much to do with what landed on my plate.  I have come to terms with the understanding that it's ME who has to add the seasonings and spice to make it palatable. I don't have to love it - but the force above (God, Yahweh, the Lady in the Moon, whoever) handed it to me because I need that sustenance to get through.  I need a way to figure out how not just to get by but to live.  That's the demon that still has its claws dug firmly into my shoulders.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yeah, Michelle - you go girl!!

Did you all watch Michelle Obama last night? Did she not rock the house? What a wonderful speech!. I've been following and reading about her over the last few months, so what was said was of no surprise, but it was an affirmation of the brilliant, funny, supportive woman that we would be lucky enough to have in the White House. You go, girl!!!

If by any chance anyone wondered where I've been - well, it was computerless for a while - which was wonderful - I actually did stuff! Mom is still in the nursing home and we're broaching assisted living with her. It's tough because she can't think about anything but how it affects her. She isn't thinking about how the stress of her daily care affects all of us at home. Give us strength.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Laying Low, Enjoying A Little Piece and Quiet...

With Mom still in the nursing home and the kids off for their last trip of the summer, I've been laying low and enjoying a little time to myself.  I've still been going to the nursing home every day - I think you have to have a presence to make sure your loved ones get proper care (the squeaky wheel - albeit a polite one), but I've been spending most of my time researching a prepaid burial (isn't that a fun task?) and trying to file for Medicaid.  Oh my word, you could fill reams of paper discussing the maze of processes you need to work through - and I'm no closer to having a commitment than before.  Oh well, I'll keep plugging. 

In the meantime, I've been staying away from the computer, instead, I've been enjoying the Olympics, playing a little golf and NOT cooking a damn thing!  My dear friend Lauren and her girls have been keeping us busy with said golf, a couple of barbeques and a movie night where we all feel asleep on Gone With The Wind....You can't possibly start watching it at 10PM with a bottle wine and think you're gonna finish it - the wine or the movie! 

I've also been trying to get back on the exercise track - I lost two weeks to Mom's accident.  I'm looking for a good walking track for my iPod.  Any suggestions? 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When the Light Breaks Through....

It's been a really tough stay in rehab for Mom.  It's not new to her, she's done it before, but this time she's dealing with a lot of issues - mortality, feeling alone, physical hurt from from the injury, etc.   The net result of this is that she has been really clingy, crying when I leave, berating me for being "late" when I never said when I'd be there (mind you, I've been there just about every day) and getting really nasty when I told her I might not be available one night because I was picking up my daughter from the airport and wanted to spend the evening with her.  The staff of the place has been great, they all love her and can't do enough for her. For me, frankly, it's been a bitch. 


Yesterday, the light broke through the clouds.  During a contentious visit, I wheeled her out to the courtyard.  As we were chatting, I noticed an elderly woman standing a few feet away from us, tending to her husband.  She looked familiar - it turns out she was our neighborhood from my childhood home.  Her husband is staying in the same place recovering from a stroke.  Her daughter and I were very close friends all through elementary and high school.  We talked for a while and I wheeled Mom back.  Later that night, I picked up R from the airport and we headed back to the nursing home to see Mom. It was a different Mom - she reconnected with these neighbors and urged me back to the courtyard to talk with my old friend. I just missed her, but her sister (another friend) was there with the parents and we all sat and talked for a long time - it was like old home week.  It made Mom feel so much better to have a connection and it made me feel good to know Mom felt better about being there, and to reconnect with old friends.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Car Crash Explained....

Everyone has a car, not a literal car crash, but something they cannot help but watch.  My bestest Devonshire's family and my family, have long had conversations about our "carscrashes" - a car crash is something that is not artistically appreciated, but you love it and have to watch or read.  Now, the important thing about a car crash is that it is a movie that takes itself totally seriously, but is so bloody awful that when you say that you like the movie everyone, and I do mean everyone, groans audibly.  Car crash can apply to the following: car crash movies, car crash tv shows, car crash books.


Example:  The all time classic is "Valley of the Dolls", as noted by this catfight:


By now you probably realize that Valley of the Dolls is my car crash movie - it is soooo bad, but I LOVE it.   If I had to name another one, it would be Dying Young with Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott


- it is so awful, but I just have to watch it every time its on. 


My car crash TV show (as of right now), is Gene Simmon's Family Jewels.

gene simmons

There is something about this show that I absolutely love - the fact that his public image is misogynistic, yet he is so absolutely devoted to his family and is so sentimental about them makes it dsyfunctionally charming to me.  If you were to view Simmons and Shannon Tweed back in their heyday (the 70's of my youth), you'd never believe that they have a committed relationship and would raise dynamite kids.  I hate to miss a show. 

I think I'll tag myself for the five car crash songs you absolutely love - but first, what is your car crash movie, and what is your car crash TV show?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Marketing Mailing Lists - No Se Habla Espanol.....

My surname is sorta Spanish, although when people take a look at my WASPY visage they always ask if it French. It is a Spanish surname, a Filipino one, yet no one believes it of's almost like they swear my name is Sutton Averell Townsend or something......

What amazes me is how marketing mailing lists classify someone based upon the assumed heritage of their last names.  I receive La Latina, Hispanic and Ole news letters without ever having requested them.  Seeing that I am a nice girl whose parentage is half Southern Gothic WASP and half Eastern European Jew, I always find it amusing; especially if you consider the fact that my ex, while a hippy, is one of the whitest guys I know.  

Has anyone else gotten on the wrong end of a mailing list?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Schizophrenic sense of style

Women that are my age ( anywhere in that generation), do you find that your sense of style is a little schizophrenic?  What I mean is do you have preferences that draw from many different interests or influences? Do you even have influences at this time in your life?


I have noticed that my style has increasingly become preppy/hippy/outdoorsy/shabby chic.  What the hell does that mean? My taste in clothes run from LL Bean preppy (which I have been since the 70's - just ask Devonshire Design) to hippy chic.  My jewelry is either as classic as classic can be (pearls - I love them) to tibetan silver, while my clothing is a cross between LL Bean and the Sundance Catalog (body by Spaghetti precludes Vicky's these days).  My home is decidedly eclectic.  I guess I wonder how some folks fall under the decorating by major chain (Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, et. al) and some fall into the accumulated along the way.  Is it generational or is it state of mind? What do you think?


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

There are days when I feel like there is a distinctly gray cloud over my head.

I got up Thursday and noticed that the house was warmer than usual.  I held my hand over the vent in my living room and felt that the air coming out was lukewarm.  I turned down the temp. and went to work.  That night, no real difference.  The next day - hot as hell.  I called the heater guy and found that my external unit was shot - it was at least 20 years old, so I was bummed out, but not terribly surprised, it has been wonky for the last couple of years.  I asked how much to replace and heard $3100.00.  Ooof.  When he suggested that I cool it over night and let the condenser reset as a first recourse, I went for it.

Saturday - NO LUCK.  I have a separate unit in my porch, so I turned that on and had everyone, Mom, R and M sleep downstairs.  luckily I have three couches (it's a big house).  I settled down to sleep myself.  2:30 in the morning, I hear a horrible crash.  I run into the living room and find my 80 year old mother crumbled to the floor.  Her head was bleeding profusely, and her wrist was broken.  She tripped getting up from the couch to take her medicine.  Called 911 - followed the ambulance to the hospital where she was in the ER for five hours before they admitted her.  When I heard they were admitting her, I left and crashed on the couch for a couple of hours before I took R to the airport to ship her down to NC to visit her aunt.   Back to the hospital, find out my mom will be in at least overnight.  Take my son out to dinner and a movie to keep his mind off the fact that it's the 8th time my mother has been rushed to the hospital in the last four years. 

Monday - got the final price quote for the unit - it's 3600.00 total, but hey, I get a 10 year warranty. BFD, I'll be lucky if I'm living here in another four years.  Go meet with R's counselor at school to get the low down on her 504 plan (she's ADHD kid), did I mention that I have only two days left at my job and gee, I won't be in the office for either of them??  Arrghh.  Head to run errands for Mom and wound up buying this to make me feel better:


(Yes Devonshire, it IS Vera Bradley - I've officially regained my prep status, but c'mon, it's Pucci inspired and you know I love anything retro 60's Italian - god knows I have a body by spaghetti).

Head back to the hospital - only information I can find out is that they cannot do a cat scan because her kidneys cannot handle the iodine, so they have to find out another way to see if there is still bleeding in the brain (or if there is any to begin with).  Mom says they keep looking at her eyes to see if there is bleeding - I only know that they are bloodshot.  She has sten units on her feet to keep them pulsating to prevent clots. They set her wrist, her fingers are swollen and a bit bruised looking.  They keep icing it to keep the swelling down.  She'll be in there tomorrow for dialysis (it's her dialysis day), and maybe then they'll let her actually stand up.  I actually hope they decide to put her into a step-down unit for a week to help her get her strength back, but I doubt it will happen.

A couple of things - my sister and I have taken to calling this the curse - let me explain before you think I'm cold-hearted.  I was due to leave Thursday morning to go to Topsail Island. Every, and I do mean every, time I schedule a trip down to visit my sister in NC, something happens that puts my mom in the hospital.  It usually happens right after she whines to my sister that she doesn't want to be alone.  Mind you, she never complains when I go to work, only when I go somewhere for myself. Do I think she does this on purpose? Not really, but I sometimes wonder if some weird cosmic powers are in force here. 

It's now 87 degrees in the house - I was going to cook, but forget it, it's too hot to do anything here.  This mini sabbatical before I start the new job is going to break me. 

I'm wondering if I have done some really bad shit to people in my last life to have so much that keeps falling on my plate. Not that I can't handle it with fairly good humor, but geez, it would be REALLY nice to have the load lighten up a little, y'know? I'd like to find some space on the plate so to speak.

Oh yeah, the diet? 
Not so good while this stuff is going on. 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Big Read, Vol. 2.....

Thanks to spcoleman, who pointed out another reading list. This one, from National Endowment for the Arts (my list was one compiled from the BBC), can be found here.   Their list is comprised of the following:

Bless Me, Ultima

Fahrenheit 451

My Ántonia (at last, Willa Cather)

The Great Gatsby

A Lesson Before Dying

The Maltese Falcon

A Farewell to Arms  (Thank you for including Mr Hemingway)

Their Eyes Were Watching God

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Call of the Wild

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Shawl

The Grapes of Wrath

The Joy Luck Club

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The Age of Innocence

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Big Read


I lifted this from a blog I found today:

"Below is a list of books printed by The Big Read, an organization that---according to their Web site---hopes to 'restore reading to the center of American culture.' They say, though, that the average American has only read six of the following hundred."
Here are the rules:
1) Bold the books you have already read
2) Italicize the books you intend to read
3) Notes in parentheses
1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (hated it - I just cannot get into Austen)
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (indulgent - not that there is anything bad about that).
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) The Bible
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (The trilogy that includes the Golden Compass - it HAS to be better than the movie.
10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
12) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare (I haven't read EVERY single work, but Twelfth Night is my favorite)
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (didn't finish it though)
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
19) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
25) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
26) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
34) Emma by Jane Austen
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen
36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
38) Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
39) Memories of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
47) Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan (Liked, but didn't loved it)
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert
53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (Loved it!)
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
66) On The Road by Jack Kerouac
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
69) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
75) Ulysses by James Joyce (I highlighted and italicized because I have started this book a dozen times yet have never finished it.
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (horrible movie!)
80) Possession by AS Byatt
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte's Web by EB White
88) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
98) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I actually did pretty well  - over 70 of the top 100 - but I think the most telling is if I went back and said which of these have I read in the last five years and that number would drop precipitously.  I just don't read fiction that much anymore - I tend to lean toward biography, nonfiction political or social works.  I think life's stresses has either pushed me to read more garbage (although I still haven't read Bridget Jones' diary, yet).  

The other thing I noticed is why are there no works by Hemingway, Faulkner, Ferber, and all of the other works of the great authors of that period?  Why are two works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and only one by Steinbeck?  Or NONE by William Faulkner? None by Tennessee Williams? Willa Cather, Edgar Alan Poe?  Why only the Great Gatsby and not Tender Is The Night (which I thought was a better book); I'm not denigrating the list at all - I'm sure I'll go back and find more that I will want to read, but I cannot conceive a list of great books without A Farewell to Arms, The Sound and the Fury or Appointment at Samarra (John O'Hara). 

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summertime....and the living is loafing


I had the loafiest day today. It went beyond lazy into pure, unadulterated loafing.  Caught up on news, gossip, blogs and movies.  Even the cats were loafing:

Picture 015

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happiness Is.....

Watching the Philadelphia Soul win the Arena football championship. Not that I am into arena football - but Jon Bon Jovi is the owner of the Soul and they kept showing close ups of him and Richie Sambora.  It was enough to keep me on the treadmill for 45 minutes - I just don't know if it was the increased MPH or the close ups that had the heart rate up!

A side note - when I was bored today, I chose not to eat, or have a glass of wine (and eat), instead I chose to go to the gym. And I actually liked it. R made me a great play list and it really made the time go by....:-)

Saturday, July 26, 2008


It's a real smack in the head when you haven't written anything in your blog when you even bore yourself....boy, that needs to change.

I actually have quite a lot going on - I soon will be changing jobs - going back to a career that I really loved, but was a bit burned out on - it took going away from it to realize that what I needed was not a new career, but a sabbatical.  As I move into it, I'll write more about it.  I'm just thrilled to go back and work with some of the smartest, funniest and maddening people I've ever known.  I'm just not ready to write about it in detail because I want to get settled into it first.

I'm shipping my daughter off to North Carolina to stay with her aunt for a week.  My sister just moved into a new place and needs some help straightening things out. R will help her and in return will get a few days at the family beachfront villa. 

Weightwatchers is a struggle - I'm working out like I haven't in years - 45mins of cardio almost daily. Writing everything down, for good or bad, but its mostly good.  The scale, she ain't budging.  This is a repeat of every attempt in the last year.  I've stuck with this longer and am even in the stage where I'm enjoying the workouts again.  I won't give up the activity, but I'm beginning to wonder if there is something medically keeping me from shedding the pounds.  I'm going heavier on cardio than I am on weight training, so I know (because I've done this before) that it's not building muscle mass - as they say, something just ain't right. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I had my day in court.......among other things

Blogging in the summer is a bitch - I'm not around often enough to post regularly - right now all my discipline is going into managing my food and working out.   So, the good thing is, despite a not so great week with this WW thing (worked about a gazillion hours this week and only worked out twice), I still managed to lose a half pound, so I'm down six so far (yippee!!).   I am on a break from my personal trainer, but with her blessing - I'm focusing more on cardio and building endurance right now, once I start getting a good rhythm down, I will go back. 

On to the most exciting part of my week - my day in court.  As you may have read, I was pulled over and had my Pathfinder impounded.  Today was my day to appear.   I was in court 12 years ago to finalize my divorce, so needless to say, I am a neophyte in this area.  I headed out and went into the court administrator - who told me there was no court today...but wait, it's on my Blackberry!  Oh shit....didn't I tell you?  I got ANOTHER ticket that week (it was bad karma car week) because I drove over some crossed yellow lines at the beginning of the passing lane - after three other folks who'd done the same thing, but I was the one the cop picked - must have been that big peace sign magnet on my car - with my Chico's outfit, I must have SO LOOKED LIKE A RABBLE ROUSER.  I digress... I realized that I had crossed the two dates in the calendar.  So I had to run back, pick up the necessary paperwork and skedaddle over to Edgewater Park court.  I knew I'd be late, so I called the court.  I explained that my situation and was told "Oh, don't worry, honey, our regulars sometimes don't roll in here till noon!"  I assured her I had no intention of becoming a regular but thanked her for letting the court clerk know. 

I arrived at court (not at all late - the judge was running a bit behind); and found it FULL.  I entered my plea with the clerk and asked to speak with the prosecutor.  I took my seat and watched the circus begin.  This town is essentially a blue collar town that borders a low income area.  While there are some lovely areas that are being restored (the kids' dad bought in on that restoration trend), there are still many more areas that are home to a lot of immigrants, first generation Americans, and a transient population.  As a result of that, this town has a pretty tough reputation that may or may not be deserved and the police don't cut many breaks.  All I can say is that it was a surreal experience - watching the "regulars" trot up to the judge, greet him and because of their "experience", they have an astounding knowledge of the law.  Two guys were up there because of restraining orders - one, the parents of the victim were vouching for him and he ticked off what was permissible and what wasn't, and the other guy had a mediation agreement not to see some other guy's kids.  They were back in court because the father had seen this other man with his kids, taking them to the bus stop and in the supermarket (I'm assuming the man with the mediation agreement was the present boyfriend of the kids' mother - it seemed there was a relationship between them and she yelled out in the court room).  The kids' father had taken out the complaint and when the judge questioned the defendant, the defendant noted that the father had CALLED him and asked him to pick up the kids!  The father allowed that he had not seen the man around the kids in some time (since the phone call) = there was no crime. The mediation turned into a court order and the men dismissed.  You could hear them out in hallway screaming at each other.  

When they called for everyone that wanted to talk to the prosecutor to make a plea agreement, I went with the crowd.  I do mean crowd.  The line stretched through the ENTIRE building.  It took an hour just to reach the guy - by the time I got to him, he was cranky and ornery, but I got the charge reduced to failure to present insurance and registration, and because it was a first offense, charges were suspended and I only had to pay court costs.  Cool! Great! I can just go pay and leave, right?  No lady, he says, you can just go wait back in the court until the judge calls you.

The next drama was this guy who sauntered up when called and knew as much about the penalties for driving on the revoked list as the judge - except for one thing - when he cockily told the judge he wasn't worried, it was just a 10 day sentence - the judge told him, "Wrong, for you, it's a 20 day sentence"  Everyone in the courtroom cracked up.  The rest of the day went on with DUIs, vandalism and the like.  Three hours later, I finally get called, questioned by the judge and sentenced to pay the court costs.  I leave to go to the court clerk and find an absolute party down by the clerk's office - This one woman who was pressing charges against one person, and trying to get another bailed out of jail had her three kids in tow, her boyfriend trying corral the kids who were bored, tired and hungry and therefore screaming their heads off.  She was chatting with the 20 day guy who was entertaining the took another 30 minutes to just get to the window to pay the ticket.  My head was splitting, because one screaming kid was positioned on a bench, right next to my ear.  The clerk told me, "I told you this was old home week - what a party!"  I smiled, paid my court costs and said, thank you so much for your help, but this is one party I hope to never attend again!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Unsettling, Satire, Fear Mongering....Take Your Pick


For those of you who have not seen the cover of the latest New Yorker, here it is in all its glory:


Now, I love the New Yorker.  I agreed with Miranda in Sex in the City, when she called the New Yorker her porn.  I've been a subscriber for years.  It's smart, it's thought provoking, it can make you incredibly angry or laugh right out loud.  I've turned my kids onto the New Yorker (which means I'm lucky if I even get to read it on a regular basis - I usually have to ferret it out from under R's bed two weeks late), and I usually save back issues to savor again and again.  

This cover is gives me pause.  I realize that its meant to be satire - and heaven knows there were enough pundits to say so.  Many of them said sneeringly, "it's just a joke - the New Yorker audience gets this sort of thing". Well, I AM the New Yorker audience, and I DO get that it's satire, but I would have felt a whole lot better about it if the cartoon, entitled "The Politics of Fear" were an accompanying article about that very subject - instead, there is an article about "Making It" how Chicago shaped Obama. It's an excellent article and I think on the whole, pretty positive, if you agree with the fact that in order for Obama to rise as meteorically as he has, his practices are much more than those of a studied outsider.  The article paints Obama as a master of the political game, albeit one with a social conscience and is genuinely concerned with doing the right thing.  I'm fine with that. I'm not naive enough to think that you can be successful in this day and age without mastering the art of the game.  I respect Obama for that and that's why there's an Obama '08 sticker on my car (and I live in one of the few overwhelmingly Republican towns in a blue state).  It's satire out on its own with no content supporting it that, I think, is a problem.

One of the other things that gives me pause here is that while the New Yorker plays to a particular audience, it is a nationally distributed publication that reaches audiences that are more Fox News alarmists than those who think themselves sophisticated.  It's been demonstrated over and over again that we are a nation that is educated by sound-bite and those sound bites are easily manipulated - swift boats anyone?  Some yokel, flipping on the news will see this cover, not bother to listen to some or any of the description of the satire and firmly believe that Obama is a muslim terrorist.  Think I'm kidding? The Pew Foundation released the results of a survey last week noting that 12% of Americans still think that Obama is not a Christian, but a Muslim.  Hell, 1% think he's JEWISH!!  We are fed so much information and misinformation, that its difficult for even the media savvy to sift through the dreck to get to the heart of the real story - let alone to digest it and form an opinion of it.  No, we basically receive a sound-bite where the political views of the network brass place a subliminal message to bubble up some time later. Whether we question it or not is can determine the outcome of an election.

All that being said, I'm conflicted about criticizing this. I think satire is good, especially political satire - we should expect to think about all the garbage that whirls around us in political campaigns.  It forces us to separate the speculation and the partisanship from the issues. We SHOULDN'T buy everything we're told.  However, we should also avoid hate mongering at all costs - and I think this doesn't just satirize the politics of fear, I think it plays into it.

First Weigh In

Down 5.5lbs!!!

Cardio/Weights - 3x a week.

From experience I know that it won't be like this every week, it'll be more like a 1/2 lb to a 1lb - but for me, this was important to me psychologically.  I tried to do WW a year or so ago, and when I did a 1/4lb the first week - and nothing the second -  it was so disappointing that I quit on it almost immediately.  I had to see some movement in order for me to keep up the motivation.  This is a good start.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Wonderful New Discovery

Today, I'm going to give a shout out to a great new blog that I found, called The WW Chick.  She combines vegetarianism with Weight Watchers.  How dynamite is that?  (sorry if I date myself horribly, but it was my birthday last Saturday and now I am. officially.older.than.God. but younger than my mom, who is WAY older than God). 

As the few loyal souls who read my blog know that I've been struggling to get my ass back in shape, it's been somewhat of a losing battle. Yeah, I feel a lot better and I was making the attempt to exercise, I wasn't giving up certain things that are crucial to weight many glasses of wine, the occasional (ok, not so occasional) french fry.   Dropping the meat was great, but adding some more of the grains actually added about 10 pounds. 

Well, over the last few days, I've had a few close friends remark that I'm not my old self, I'm a good bit more than my old self.  These are the folks who can tell me anything and it's okay - it's done with love and yes, there are many times when I NEED to be told off what to do. I was not hurt by this, okay, yes, it's always a stinger to hear it, but instead of a slap, it was like a light going off.  You see, I am the queen of rationalization.  If I look in the mirror a certain way, or go for those skinny mirrors, then I can kid myself that I don't look so bad (come on, you know you've done this), so it's okay to have another glass of wine - or a cookie. I have PMS, and I'm thankful that I still HAVE a period, so chocolate is okay.  The executive team of my company must have had group lobotomy rates, and they took advantage of cheap surgery, so I really need two martinis.   See where I'm going with this? 

Anyway, my bestest is on WW and is doing great, she looks FABULOUS, not only do I envy her great skin, but now I get to envy her figure.  She offered to support me in going back to WW (where I lost a person about 12 years ago and kept most of it off until last year or so). So, I'm taking her up on it.  I've started back online and if I feel like I need even more support, then I'll go back to the meetings.   I've also started to haul my ass into the gym more than just when the trainer wants me there.  Say a prayer, kids, that my resolve stays strong....

Anyway - back to WW chick.  One of my concerns was that I'd have to go back to meat.  I'm not anti-meat at all, I'll eat it occasionally -primarily fish or chicken, but I like to keep that to a minimum.  WW chick's site offers tips, recipes and vegetarian ones at that.  She rocks!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

And the story almost ends.....

Well, $250 later, my Pathfinder was returned to me.  Two registrations, compounding fees and the eventual tank of gas later, my Pathfinder is parked in front of my house. I am considering selling it, it's had a good run, but I really don't need a second car.

I have a court date later this month in which I fervently hope I can reduce the tickets by producing said insurance card and registration.  Geez, I feel like such a slacker kid...if I could only fit in those size extra teeny jeans they wear....;-)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous


It's the end of the weekend. I'm sitting here, spent. I'm utterly exhausted.  Thursday, I picked up my sister and her partner at the airport - we stopped back at home to see my mother and my kids, then the three of us went out for sushi at this little place in Haddonfield. It was pretty good, but very expensive. 

Friday, we shopped, ran around and bought up groceries we needed for our party scheduled for Saturday. I ran errands while my sister began prepping for the party.  We barbequed burgers and dogs and sat under my new gazebo and just talked - I've really missed my sister and it was lovely catching up.  After dinner, my daughter decided to meet her friends at the high school to catch the fireworks.  We live across the street from the high school, so I strolled over with her then walked back to the yard - we were so lucky, we could sit in my backyard and watch the fireworks without having to fight the crowds. 

Saturday, was the big party day.  It was also my birthday.  We had a huge spread (pictures to come - I took them with my daughter's camera and I think she took the camera with her on vacation).  We had quite the spread - Thai chicken wings, carnitas, marinated skirt steak, tossed salad with red/green leaf lettuce, mesclun, red onions, grape tomatoes and queso fresca.  We had grilled tortillas, corn vidalia salad and watermelon and jicama salad.  Everything was fabulous.

The wine and the sangria flowed.  We made white sangria, with watermelon, strawberries and peaches.  It was a very eclectic crowd - my best friend and her husband, my sister's friends, my neighbors, golf partners and friends - everyone mixed quite well.  The night went on and on, we finished the night at 3 am after a couple of logs in the fire pit.  Folks slept over and we all woke up feeling pretty fuzzy.  The was the beginning of the ridiculous. 

The ridiculous became surreal pretty quickly.  I had to drop the kids at their dad's house by 10.  We jumped in my SUV and drove off.  I noted that my car was due for inspection - hmmm, I didn't recall getting my registration in the mail, I made a mental note to go to the DMV the next day.  I dropped them off and saw that I needed gas and due to the hangover, I was in dire need of a diet coke and a hamburger.  I pulled out onto the highway and headed off to McDonalds, grabbed my burger and returned to the highway.   I was driving the speed limit and a few minutes later flashing lights popped up into my rear view mirror.   I pulled over and when the cop approached me, I asked what was wrong - my registration had expired!  I reached over and dug out my registration, damn, if she wasn't right.  I next took out my insurance card....sinking feeling in my stomach.  It was the card that expired a  few months earlier. Shit. I had the clear memory at that moment of laying the insurance card on the table in the front hall. Two. Months. Before.

I'm sure you know where this is going. A second cop pulled up - a nasty, arrogant guy.  Told me to get out of the car, and leave my keys because they were going to tow it and impound it.  I asked if I could drive it over to the diner (about 20 yards up the road) and park it.  Nope, it's illegal to drive it without the proper paperwork. I said, leave it here on the road unlocked?  But what if it gets stolen?  It's on you, he replied. Are you going to leave me on the side of the road?  I could, he replied, you have to call someone to come pick you up because you can't walk along the highway.  I'll get the other cop to give you a ride to the WaWa convenience store.  I asked a couple of more questions and he started to give me real attitude about my needing to stop wasting his time.  I said back to him, hey man, I have never had a ticket before, I have no idea what to expect.  Well that's too bad, you know well enough that it's illegal to drive this car.  Ok, but can't you just manage my expectations here? 

Get OUT of the car.  Ok, Ok. I got out of the car and stepped up on the curb and began walking back to the first cop car.  He yelled at me "where are you going???" I replied that I didn't want to walk in the road and risk getting hit.  What a jerk.  Opened the back door of the cop car and wasn't the most gentle guy helping me in.  

The woman who was the first cop, took me 20 YARDS up the road to the diner and let me out.  She was almost apologetic for the idiot's behavior and let me know that if I brought the appropriate stuff to the police station tomorrow, and to court in a couple of weeks, I would have the charges reduced.  She said, look this stuff happens, you just have to take care of it - take it easy okay?  

I think women make for better cops. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Warm Weather Musing......

Today was just gorgeous - 82 degrees, sunny, lovely breeze.  After a crazy, unnerving day in the office, coming outside and feeling a soft breeze against your face can revive the most tired spirit.  If I could just bottle this wonderful it would be.