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 crash....no, 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 me.....it'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 (46....so 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).