Monday, December 31, 2007

Digital Killed the Radio Star


This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.

*************************************************************

A recent article in the Washington Post got me thinking about how I hear about new music. The article talked about how the Recording Industry Association of America is suing a man because he copied CDs (that he purchased!) onto his own computer. Yep, that's it. Not copying and sending to a friend. Not posting on a website where others can download it. Just doing what millions of iPod owners do every day. Scary.

Enough about how the RIAA is trying to kill music. It got me thinking about how I acquire new music - sometimes (oh please, government don't read this post) friends will send me inspirational CDs, or a copy of some songs from an artist they think I might like. Generally speaking it's music I wouldn't otherwise purchase - I hadn't heard it before and the artist isn't someone I would seek out. And I no longer listen to the radio.

I remember growing up we would always have the radio on in the car. Driving around with Dad it was WQXR (classical). Driving to school with my siblings it was WLIR (alternative - during the 80's). In college it was WHFS (alternative in Baltimore/Washington). Many of these stations sadly no longer exist or if they do the music is very different (all talk, Latin). And I no longer own a car. On the rare occasion when I am in a car I now have satellite radio which lets me choose exactly which genre I want - back to the 80's for the most part - or we set up the iTrip and choose from what we already own. Our stereo at home might have a radio - I have no idea. Our alarm clock plays NPR.

So how do I acquire music nowadays? Read my friends' blogs, go to a movie, and get mix CDs for special occasions. Uh oh, better hide.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Lull Between the Holidays

Peaceful




For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The New Yorker

Here's my weekly plug for Day to Read. This week it's all about The New Yorker magazine. Oh how I love it.

I grew up "reading" this magazine - mostly the cartoons when I was younger. They have by far the greatest cartoon collection of any magazine. Perhaps the only one. Legendary. They were my funny pages (seeing as the NY Times didn't have comics). My Dad had a few of Peter Arno's cartoons on the wall in his office. When Dad retired he gave the cartoons to partners in his practice. It's the one item in his office I was truly sorry to see go.

In DC, the #42 bus is also known as the New Yorker bus. Every morning as it wound its way through Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Dupont Circle, you could see all sorts of people reading their latest issues - I always knew when mine had arrived late just by looking at the cover of other people's magazines.

One thing I remember very distinctly about first meeting my husband is that he had a subscription - as did I. When we married, we merged our accounts and now we have to share. Good thing he's better about sharing the New Yorker than he is about sharing the NY Times.

My favorite writers are David Sedaris for his acerbic wit and Seymour Hersh for his unrelenting criticism of this administration. On occasion there is also Atul Gawande with medical conundrums and Malcolm Gladwell on sociological phenomena.

The covers are equally legendary - sometimes a quaint comment on reading or weather and sometimes a strong criticism on our world leaders. Always a painting or drawing - never a photograph or list of contents. Truly, a work of art.

Many people look to the groundhog as the harbinger of spring. I look for Eustace Tilly on the cover of the New Yorker - the guy in the top hat with the monocle. Then I know, it's only six more weeks of winter.



Thursday, December 27, 2007

Denver Debrief


Here's a quick recap of our holiday trip to Denver (Dad's new home):


  1. went to Tattered Covered Bookstore. If you love old bookstores with tables for reading and a yummy coffee, this is the place for you.

  2. went to Denver Art Museum - with new wing designed by Daniel Libeskind. Just an aside, while working in Zambia for 3 weeks last year I saw a documentary on this famed architect about 10 times. Great museum, great museum restaurant too.

  3. went to Red Rocks Ampitheatre - in whipping winds. Stunning. Would LOVE to see a concert there (during summer)

  4. went to Museum of Contemporary Art. interesting.

  5. spent holidays with family - played Wii with 7-year olds. Butt kicked thoroughly. will practice for rematch.

And of course we did other things - shopped, ate, survived snowstorm. Highly recommend the city. We'll be back in August.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Pretty (Gory) Women


This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.

************************************************************

Seeing as it's Christmas Eve I thought I would share a holiday musical story.

Only I couldn't think of one. So instead you get blood and gore.

Today we went to see Sweeney Todd - the film version of the very popular and successful Broadway musical. My dad saw the Broadway show many many years ago but somehow failed to remember, or perhaps it was because the stage version was less bloody, that this wasn't a terribly "uplifting" film. I didn't expect that it would be a happy story, but a little less throat slitting would have been nice. That said, I highly recommend the film. Johnny Depp is amazing. Helena Bonham Carter (who was also fantastic in Harry Potter) shines again - as a grim character. And Alan Rickman, ever the evil character, lives up to his previous roles.

My musical moment is this - over the years I have heard or read the lyrics to any number of Sondheim's musicals. Unfortunately, I never got to all the shows and thus only lived off of the songs - without the backstory. Who knew "Pretty Women" and "Not While I'm Around" were staged in such gruesome circumstances. No bother, I will be purchasing the soundtrack next week.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Almost Famous




Just a quick update on a previous SOS.

Lucy's sob story made the Washington Post.

Not only does our cat live, she is famous.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kudos to Me

Be warned, this post is about how great I am. I have proof. We had a party last weekend and I baked and fried myself silly. Just wanted to share two emails I received on Monday.


"you outdid yourself as usual. I ate at least 5 potatoes worth of latkes and as many donuts, which really turned out well. and a scone and and... MMMMmm. DOOH NUT. Still thinking about them."

"Thanks again for a great brunch and of course the best doughnuts ever! We both had a great time and can’t wait for the next time that we’ll get to have those little mouthfuls of deep-fried, jelly-filled goodness! (and to see you both of course)"

I couldn't be more pleased. Big grin.

and just to make this a Thankful Thursday - I'm thankful for my friends who are so appreciative of my efforts. And also thankful to them for the times they've had to eat some real duds.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm An Artiste!

I am thrilled to have finally made onto Looking Into!

I'm one of those people who tends not to take photos and even when I do it's more to document that I've been someplace - almost like a CSI photographer.

With lots of travel expected in the new year I can hopefully get some more artistic shots - and just let the passport stamps tell where I've been.

Go check out my artistic debut!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Sunday Ritual

Putting in another plug for Day to Read. Don't get all freaked out if you can't read a book for whatever reason - screaming kids, pounding hangover, spoiled Christmas egg nog - there are other things you can read with a shorter attention span. Like the newspaper.

With the internet, newspaper reading has become a lost art. There's something not quite the same about scrolling around, jumping from page to page, reading "what other people emailed". I read more of the paper when I'm reading a PAPER. I'll be focused on one article and out of the corner of my eye I'll spy a word or a headline or a photo which grabs my attention - "ooh, go there next!"

In our house we get both the Washington Post and The New York Times delivered daily. It makes for a lot of paper. During the week my husband and I sit in bed and read the Post - he gets the front section first and I start with Style. It's the ritual, I can't change it. When he leaves for work (I work from home) he picks up the NY Times outside our building (seems only the Post has keys to the place), and takes it to work with him. So Monday through Friday, I get only the Post.

But on the weekends, oh the lovely weekends, we share the NY Times. I love the Saturday crossword puzzle and often have to fight him for it - it's generally in the Arts section. And Sunday, heavenly Sunday, is hours of entertainment.

Here's my ritual:

First I hit the wedding pages in Sunday Styles - on more than one occasion I've come across people I know and it's fun to see what they're doing (and who they're doing I suppose). I also like to read about people I don't know and place odds on the union. Some combos are just too hard to believe. Some I imagine ending badly in some torrid affair. Some have nothing in their biography but their parents' professions. Yours truly had a better announcement - although the lead line "Ms. Rose, 38, is keeping her name." seemed to indicate I was destined to be a spinster. Grrrrrrr.

Next I like to go to the Ethicist in the magazine. Love the conundrums and while I love Randy Cohen's writing style, sometimes I bristle at his advice. It is possible to be both an ethical and a horrible human being at the same time.

If there's a medical mystery in the magazine that week I go to that next. "Yes, Addison's disease! That's what I suspected too!"

Finally I hit the Week in Review. With the writer's strike the late night jokes listed on page 2 aren't as good. But the collection of political cartoons (the only time you'll ever see cartoons in the Times) from around the country are wonderful! After that it's some Frank Rich to get me all pissed off at Bush (yet again).

Then I move on - maybe travel, maybe real estate, perhaps the business section.

Whatever tickles my reading fancy.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Rocky Mountain High


This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.
****************************************************

Growing up with older siblings, my musical taste was heavily influenced by the records (LPs, big black disks) that my brother and sister would get for Christmas.

I very clearly remember a string of years with Donny & Marie (particularly the year of the purple rag look), Shaun Cassidy (red and white striped t-shirt, Da Do Ron Ron) and John Denver (Greatest Hits). These gifts were specifically given to my sister, but in a house where there was one turntable, everyone listened to these records.

I'm over Donny & Marie - not sure that I ever really was under them. And my Shaun Cassidy crush probably lasted all of a month. To this day, I am still in love with John Denver. Sadly, he was killed in a plane crash - ironic given that one of his most famous songs was about leaving on a (jet) plane.

Take Me Home Country Roads - who could love West Virginia so much?
Leaving on a Jet Plane - the saddest song about leaving a loved one.
Sunshine on My Shoulders - I vaguely remember this being sung on The Muppet Show
Rocky Mountain High - I'm in love with Colorado, a place I only ever briefly visited

and finally, Annie's Song. One of the most beautiful love songs ever. Sadly, he and Annie split, but it's still magical. "You fill up my senses." Sigh.



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breakin' Up Is Hard to Do



Nope, this isn't a post about romantic relationships gone bad - it's about breaking bones.

We had a party today and absent was a dear friend of mine - she broke her arm a couple of weeks ago. I told her story to many friends who wondered where she was - I owe her for making my cocktail chatter more interesting. But boy, am I glad I'm not her right now.

A couple of weeks ago she was at a party and slipped on some water, put her hand down and broke her wrist. I've seen her fall before - and she has fallen hard. She once fell off of a trail while snowboarding - over the ledge and into the ditch. A bit sore but that's it. I once watched her fall in a bar - no bodily bruises, just a crushed ego.

So she puts her hand down to catch her fall and hurts her wrist. She's in pain for a week and half but figures it's just a sprain and keeps popping ibuprofen. Her husband finally convinces her to see a doctor. A few hours and a few x-rays later the doctor announces that not only has she broken her wrist - she broke the smallest, most difficult-to-heal bone. She will need surgery.

Friday morning she went in for surgery - they put her under, tube down her throat, the whole nine yards. The gave her something called the "painbuster" - numbed her entire arm so much so that she felt nothing and had to be careful not to accidentally hurt herself, for lack of feeling.

She'll be in this puffy cast for a week, then a plaster cast for a month, and after that a splint for another month. Oh yeah, and she's got a titanium pin in her arm. For the time being she's doped up on Vicodin which makes everything seem not so bad.

I'm sorry that she missed the party - I really would have loved to have had her here. But she did give me a cool story and a great opening line "Jen has a broken arm and they had to do surgery!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tante Ily's Hazelnut Cake

Today is my sister's birthday - I won't say her age but I will say she looks a lot younger than that number. Where she is right now is December 14th - if I wait to post this I'll miss the birthday, so bear with me on the advance posting.

In honor of my birthday this year she posted some photos she knew I would like. As my talents don't lie in photography, I won't be doing the same. However, I would like to share with her (and everyone else in the blogosphere) a cake recipe. This recipe (along with many others) was given to me by Tante Caroline as a wedding gift. The original recipe comes from Tante Ily (Caroline's aunt) - the best baker I have ever had the pleasure to know.

Happy Birthday Jenn - hope to share this cake with you in person soon!
(keep in mind that Caroline speaks in colorful terms - not very precise but pretty!)

Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate or Mocha Cream Frosting
(The Mocha cream frosting is the preferred, but I have not a foolproof recipe for you - I, too experiment each time. So, use the chocolate; it is the same as for Sacher. Or be courageous and try Julia Child's reicpe.....)

(for two large cake tins, buttered and floured)

1lb. Hazelnuts (almonds are good too), some oven roasted*, ground
1T. finely roasted coffee
2 1/2 c. veryfine sugar ("verifine" = is between granular and powdered)
12 eggs (separated)
apricot or red currant jelly, sugar, schnapps

  • Oven set at 350 degrees F

  • Beat 1/2 the sugar into yolks till bubbly (use some vanilla sugar if possible***)

  • Beat whites with 1/4 cream of tartar (to stabilize the whites) - or use pinch of salt. Add in the rest of sugar and beat till smooth and glossy.

  • Probably using a large salad bowl, combine gently folding the yolk mixture with the whites and the ground nuts

  • Spread into cake tins and bake for 25-30 min.? May need a bit much longer? Test again with wooden cake tester till comes out moist, not wet. (just did this one recently and as this is an increased recipe, the timing is no longer valid)

  • Dump onto rack, slice with floss, glaze (as in Sacher recipe) topsides. Assemble. Allow to cool well and frost.


  • The chocolate = as in Sacher recipe. Or, look into Julia Child for the Mocha. This, too, keeps long in the icebox, without mouse intervention.

    *To roast hazelnuts: place on oven cookie sheet in a hot oven and allow to bake till the skins start to split. Keep roasting till nut meats gain a nice "suntan". Remove from oven and put out to cool (winter window is best as the skins virtually pop off). Then roll them around between your hands to help some more of the skins off. Outdoors, then blow away the loose skins., the nut meats remain. Not all skins are gone but a lot. Do this with a generous handful of the total and you will achieve a wonderful aroma. Then grind all nuts, preferably in old hand mill, you know the type you clamp-screw to the table. These are the finest (your nuts are acting in place of flour) results - the bought ground nuts are rougher and haven't got the roasted quality. As we are dealing with a true T. Ily recipe....you might have fun training your store-bought-cake friends (do young slim career people still eat cake?) to experience what really good ingredients can amount up to (No baking powder! No flavor enhancers! No emulsifiers, no coloring, no preservatives - hey, what have we got here?)

    **Vanilla sugar can be purchased, is, however, usually not quite the real thing - and WE don't accept "Vanillin" (Dr. horrible Oetker's substitute for real Bourbon Vanilla), do we! So, buy yourself a couple of vanilla beans - expensive, but cheap in the long run. Slit them open lengthwise. Scratch the black soft center out and use it for a nice vanilla pudding or vanilla sauce for over fruit, etc. Then take a tin or jar with lid and fill with the "verifine" sugar and the scratched-out bean hulls. After just a week, but for months to come, the entire sugar will serve as vanilla sugar - but the real thing.
    _______________________________________________
    [I made this cake using the mocha frosting from Julia Child - yummy! The Sacher recipe for the glaze is just spreading the jelly on the cake while it is hot so it's absorbed by the cake. And I think that's 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar for the egg whites. You also might want to line the tins with parchment paper. Good luck!]

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    Thankful Thursday

    I was going to post a photo for Wordless Wednesday and then I realized it's Thursday. Yep, it's one of those weeks.

    So now I'm coming up with a new idea - if only for this week. Thankful Thursday.

    This week I am thankful for my housekeeper:

    • I am thankful that she is coming today to clean up before our party on Sunday.
    • I am thankful that she can come on short notice.
    • I am thankful that she makes my house smell so nice.
    • I am thankful that she brought us flowers on our wedding anniversary.
    • I am thankful that she loves my cat and has taught her Spanish.
    • I am thankful that her fee is less than marriage counseling - because you know that one of the number one reasons couples fight is over household chores.

    I am thankful for Consuelo.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Happy Hanukkah!

    Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah - the festival of lights (instead of one day of presents we have eight crazy nights)

    In our house we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas - we basically will celebrate a holiday provided it doesn't involve fasting.

    This year Hanukkah fell pretty early in December which is good I guess if you're eager to get one holiday out of the way. Challenging if you thought you had more shopping days.

    Each night we light the candles on the menorah and say a prayer (for peace, our cat, our loved ones). Then we eat a candy from our Neuhaus chocolate advent calendar - what can I say, we like food.

    As in past years, we'll be having a holiday party - we generally build the theme around Beethoven's birthday which is December 16th (think apfel streudel). I make lots of tasty food - the tastiest being latkes. Oil, potatoes, salt - what's not to love?!

    Putting together the soundtrack for the party is a bit more challenging. Beethoven works but this year I thought I'd try some other holiday music. Plenty of jazz and rock Christmas music. Not so much interesting Hanukkah music. Basically it's Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song (which I love, but you can't play that 10 times during a party without it getting a little old). The Barenaked Ladies have a few good songs. And then I stumbled upon The LeeVees - these guys are awesome. So sit back, and enjoy "The Latke Clan".




    Happy Hanukkah everyone!

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Dog Dreams


    This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory (some are freakin' hilarious!).

    *****************************************************

    This post is dedicated to memory of Wilma, a dog who lived the dream.

    One of my favorite songs on The Story's album, Grace in Gravity is "Dog Dreams". It is exactly that - what a dog is dreaming about. I once had this dog bed for Wilma that had little clouds with fire hydrants and dog bones all over it. Wilma dreamed a lot. She would also talk in her sleep. On many an occasion I would wake up in the middle of the night to hear Wilma "talking". It was not yelping or barking or snoring (though she did plenty of the latter). She was having a conversation - her voice would come out in spurts with inflections - so human.

    Of course this song always makes think of her. Today would have been her 18th birthday. We miss you Wilma.



    "Dog Dreams"

    Me and Rex took the car,
    ha, ha, stay home...stay.
    We're gonna run over
    all the neighborhood cats,
    'cause they tease us from
    the other side of the fence.
    We're gonna go in the swamp
    and you can't hose us off.

    Dog Dreams, Dog Dreams
    Please don't wake us up!


    No bad dog, No stay,
    No basement, No way,
    No choke chain, No dry food,
    No fetch game, No, No, No,
    No bad dog, No stay,
    No basement, No way,
    No choke chain, No dry food,
    No sit, lie down, roll over, SHAME.

    Me and Rex took the car,
    ha, ha, stay home...stay.
    We're gonna go through
    everyone's garbage,
    have the dinners we deserve.
    We're gonna find some great-smelling bitches,
    and see if they meant what they said
    from the end of the leash.

    Dog Dreams, Dog Dreams
    Please don't hose us off!


    No bad dog, No stay,
    No basement, No way,
    No choke chain, No dry food,
    No fetch game, No, No, No,
    No bad dog, No stay,
    No basement, No way,
    No choke chain, No dry food,
    No sit, lie down, roll over, SHAME.

    Sunday, December 09, 2007

    How Can I Say "I Hit You"?



    This SOS came to mind about 20 minutes ago when I revealed to my husband that I had once hit a Rav4 (car). This story isn't so soapy, so much as an exercise in how to avoid stating the obvious.

    Years ago I was driving up to Providence, Rhode Island to visit friends. It was part of a longer journey I'd been taking up the east coast sometime after my grandfather had died. That last sentence is mostly irrelevant - but perhaps I'm looking for some more excuses. Anyway, I'd been driving for a long time that day - something over 6 or 8 hours - with my dog in the backseat and we had just pulled into downtown Providence. Just pulled off the highway. I was meeting my friends somewhere downtown and while stopped at a light I looked down at the directions in my lap, looked up again at the light, looked at the car in front of me, and took my foot off the brake. And I hit the car in front of me. I think at the time my car was having some trouble (as evidenced by me hitting the other car) so that when I took my foot off the brake the car didn't just inch forward, it lurched.

    I hit the Rav4 - a sort of mini-SUV - not too hard - but its back window just shattered! Weeks later there was a story on the news about a design defect on the back window of this car - so I hadn't even hit it that hard - but the window shattered and it made a big splashy noise. And I crunched the hood of my car (a lower to the ground old Volvo). Right downtown. In front of lots of people.

    I phoned my friends and said I would be delayed - they offered to walk over (seriously, I was blocks from meeting them) and take my dog. I phoned the police and got out of the car to talk to the other drivers. They were very nice - they were on a date. A first date. Perhaps I had given them a bonding experience!

    I remember very distinctly hearing from my insurance company that I should never admit guilt. It was kind of tough in this situation. I hit their car. I was behind them at a red light. Not much else to say.

    All I could utter was things like "I'm sorry this happened. So you're on a date? Where were you going for dinner?". Ugh.

    The cops came and took down all the info. They asked me what happened - "Uh, I was at the light. The car went forward. It hit the other car." I had to write a statement saying what happened. "I was at a light. I looked up. My car hit their car." As if the car and I were somehow not at all related. I could just see my English teacher rolling her eyes.

    I'm sitting at an accident, which I caused, and all I can think about is how angry my high school English teacher, whom I hadn't spoken to in over 10 years, would be if she read my statement.

    I'm such a geek.

    Saturday, December 08, 2007

    Holiday Donuts


    Did you know that one of the traditional foods of Hanukkah is donuts? Yep, who'd have guessed?! Turns out that it's all about the oil.

    I am trying to perfect my donut technique - got a thermometer last year in order to properly measure the oil temperature (375 degrees). Have a pastry tube in order to fill the donuts with raspberry jam. And now I've even got fancy bags in order to make lovely gifts. Almost looks too lovely to eat! Almost...


    Friday, December 07, 2007

    What Do You Do?

    When your bush pilot in Africa is reading...



    Heart of Darkness?

    "Not to worry" I told my husband, "he's only on page 23."

    ______________________________________________________

    Read this short classic or another one on:

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    Nothing

    After a year of being semi-employed and a few expensive trips to the vet (what vet trip isn't expensive?) you'd think our Christmas/Hanukkah list would be long. It's not. We want for nothing.

    Yes, a flat panel TV would be nice. But we have a perfectly functioning 27" Sony TV that gets great reception. And we don't really watch it anyway - except Jon Stewart and I'm not so sure seeing him in hi-def is really worth $1000. Seeing him in person, now that's worth something!

    New work clothes would be nice. As I'll be starting a new job and being in an office for the first time in 3 years, a little update might be in order. And my husband could use some new suits - he just gave away 6 old ones to our housekeeper's husband (who is now a pretty dapper electrician). But work clothes for Christmas almost seems like a cruel joke. Remember when you were a kid and would run downstairs on Christmas morning and delight in the hope that Santa brought you that XT Racer set? And it was .... corduroys.

    Books would be nice. We can always use books. And there are books that we want. But what we really need right now is a bookshelf. Built-ins to be specific. I guess what we're asking for is a carpenter. Jesus, you free in the new year?

    So to all you family and friends who might be reading this, we'll take gifts. We're not ones to say no! But don't stress about it. We're just happy we have a healthy cat, a warm home to read and watch TV in, and jobs to pay for tasty dinners and fun travel. Come visit, we'll find a spot on the couch for you.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    She Lives!

    Lucy is on the mend! She is eating and eating lots which just fills my heart with joy. I don't know if it's the liquid medicine I shoot into her mouth twice a day or the threat of such dosings that has her chowing down - and I don't care. I doubt it's the tiny appetite stimulant pill since I have yet to actually get that into her mouth. Lucy is quite the fighter - just to give you an idea how much fun it is to pill a cat I give you this story (alas I cannot claim it as my own):


    How To Pill a Cat

    1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on each side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

    2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat gently in left arm and repeat process.

    3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, pick up and throw soggy pill away.

    4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for count of ten.

    5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse in from garden.

    6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into cat's mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

    7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill out of foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep up shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set on one side for gluing later.

    8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with a pencil and blow into drinking straw.

    9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

    10. Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door just enough so that head is showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with plastic band.

    11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw t-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

    12. Call fire department to retrieve cat from tree across road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

    13. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by a large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

    14. Get spouse to drive you to emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearms and removes pill from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home and order new dining table.

    15. Arrange for ASPCA to collect cat and contact local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

    How To Pill a Dog
    Wrap it in bacon.


    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Would You Trust This Man?



    I just got a new job (yay!) - sort of. As with any number of jobs in DC, you first have to go through a security clearance. I've been through this before as has my husband so it's no big deal - I'll pass. Unfortunately, I can't even enter the building until the temporary clearance comes through - it will be several weeks. Ugh.

    Here's the thing - they want info on my family - particularly my stepfather (the dashing guy above) and his children. My stepmother is of little interest, if any. What makes the man in the kilt so fascinating is that he's a foreign national. British citizen. Allegiance to the Queen and all.

    They're probably checking this blog so be careful what you say. I tend to think if I send them a photo of the kilt they'll speed up my clearance. I bet Gunfighter would back me up on this.

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Mixin' It Up



    This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory (some are freakin' hilarious!).

    *****************************************************

    It's funny how a song can take you to a moment so clearly. I was never really one for music - I listened to the radio, sometimes bought tapes, but nothing like my friends who would camp out for concert tickets or blow their allowance at the record store (remember those places?). And yet, music still has the ability to bring me back to a time and place.

    I received and made a fair number of mix tapes in my life. I remember two boyfriends who gave me mix tapes and if I could find them today I would play them (the tapes, not the boys) - on what, I don't know. They were given to me when I went away - first for the summer, and then later to college. I can't recall every song on them but when I hear something from either playlist I immediately remember those tapes - and where I was when I first heard them.

    I don't recall any CD mixes copied onto tapes. I tend to think that's because there wasn't a boyfriend to make them for me and I didn't have a car. It's funny how a whole period of your life can be forgotten because you weren't driving around listening to your car stereo.

    As I got older the technology has improved to where mixes are easy to make - no synching of different machines so you avoid that gap or maximize the number of songs you get on one cassette. Just burn some CDs while you're drinking coffee. Rearrange the music to suit your tastes.

    For my sister's birthday a few years ago, we all chipped in and got her the latest iPod. We each added our own playlist - my husband did arias, her friend did jazz and blues, I did 80's music, my brother did Charlie Brown Christmas, and my other brother did Tom Jones. It was our extra gift to her - from each of us, to her.

    My friends have also given me mixes - to encourage me to run, to commemorate a birthday, to provide background music to a brunch. And I love every CD. (Still not sure about that Hilary Duff song, Aparna).

    It is with this feeling that I especially applaud SMID's birthday CD project. The technology may change and the CDs might get lost - but just maybe, hopefully, those kids will come upon that CD someday and say "I remember being 7!"

    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    Lucy



    I was going to post this story just as a regular post and then realized it was a soap opera. Complete with screaming, a trip to the emergency room, and lots of sobbing.

    Want to know what newlyweds do on a Saturday night? Oy.

    Last night we spent our evening at the animal hospital. My sweet adorable cat Lucy had not been eating for days, and anyone who owns a pet knows, this is not good. Very not good. She continued to scream for food but would not eat it. We tried everything - pureeing food (that was soooooo unappetizing), switching flavors, hand feeding her kibbles. Nothing worked.

    At about 5:30pm we arrived at the vet hospital. Lucy was weighed and checked out by a tech and then we waited for a doctor. My poor Lucy was so quiet which is unusual for a cat trapped in a bag at the vet. At about 6:30 we got into see the doctor and it's at the same time that my husband had to return the car - so he left and said he would come back later to pick us up or I would get a cab (yes, cabs take pets - I've driven in one with my dog Wilma which is a pretty funny sight).

    Anyway, the vet takes Lucy to get her blood drawn and then comes back to talk to me. She says that it's one of a few things - her teeth are old and hurt, she has liver failure, or she has kidney failure (keep in mind my cat is 19 years old). The latter two things don't sit well with me - I've been there for two animals for those reasons and it ended sadly. I immediately start bawling. The poor vet is so upset that she has upset me - "no, no, it's me" I say "I just have a bad experience with this". I stop bawling enough for her to tell me that the bloodwork will be back in 2 hours and it might indicate Lucy has to stay overnight. So we agree that I will go get some dinner and she'll call me. I phone my husband. The bawling continues. He gets in the car to come meet me.

    In the meantime, I go across the street to a Whole Foods and start wandering around looking for food. Crying. People stared. Finally managing to get some food I go to the dining area and wait for my husband. I calm down. I breathe. He arrives. I bawl.

    The vet calls and announces it is good news! Lucy's bloodwork is fine. Not perfect, but for 19 years old we are happy. They can't clean her teeth due to her age but they do send me home with medicine and appetite stimulant to make her feel better and get her eating. Oh yeah, and a big fat bill.

    So much for that TV we were getting for Christmas. Instead we get a cat with a million dollar smile. And we are ever so much happier for it.

    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    A Pessimist Turns Silver

    The following post is from Vicky - as part of the Blog Exchange this month - "Silver and Gold"

    **********************************************************

    When I think of silver these are just a few of the items that come to mind.

    Sterling first then, robin’s egg blue boxes tied up with white satin bows. Glitter encrusted tips of angel wings that float on top of Christmas trees. Shining twinkling ornaments that dangle precariously off tree branches. Silver is a perfect gift. Gleaming bright it shines beautifully as a candlestick or a charm on a delicate bracelet. It is the bright lining in an otherwise cloudy day. Born with a silver spoon in your mouth and you have the world at your feet or so they say.

    Lastly I think of this-

    Always look for the silver lining (didn’t you just hear a bell chime? I did)

    When I was young and I heard people say, “Look for the silver lining”, I would cringe. Immediately I wanted to not look for the silver lining. I wanted to look at the less than sterling aspects of my day, my current situation or my life. I guess you could count me as a pessimist of sorts. The silver lining was something I only saw on the edge of my cereal bowl when I had to use skim milk. I wasn’t a fan of skim milk back then either.

    Older now and married to a glass half full sort of guy I’ve come to view life in a new way. Having dealt with some serious issues and situations as my life progressed I realize that I have much to be thankful for. Looking at the silver lining isn’t such a bad thing after all. In fact, it is exactly what I want to teach my daughter as she grows. I want her to be an optimist. The world has enough pessimists and dooms dayers. I want her to see not just the dark edges of life but to come to appreciate those beautiful silver moments where one can see what that sterling lining can highlight. That the ability to see the good in a bad moment can be a lifesaver and sometimes it is all you have to cling to in that single desperate time.

    I choose to see that gleaming silver as a light in the dark. That out of every dark passage there is indeed a reason for it and a blessing in it. It is this ability that my strength has grown from and shaped me into the strong woman that I am often (amazingly enough) described as today. I no longer snort with disgust when I hear the phrase, “Look for the silver lining”. Instead I smile and I do look. It is always right where you least expected it.


    Hear ‘Silver Lining’, by the incredibly awesome group Rilo Kiley here.

    **************************************************
    Vicky can be found at The Mummy Chronicles, doing what else but chronicling the daily life of a work at home mother to one tiny dictator, a crazy dog, and a slowly burgeoning freelance writing career. She just loves it when people pay her to write by the way. She can also be found posting numerous reviews at her site, Mummy’s Product Reviews .

    Looking for Flower Child? She's over at Vicky's place this week going on about Gold.

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    World AIDS Day

    In advance of World AIDS Day (I'll be doing Blog Exchange on December 1st) I wanted to write a post about where the epidemic stands.

    There's loads of statistics - and some are looking better these days. Then I got bored. I deal with faceless numbers all the time (HIV numbers to be specific, but still really just numbers I'd be stealing from the UNAIDS website).

    I have a dictionary that I got for my high school graduation. In the front of it is this inscription:

    May this represent a new beginning
    - Dennis, 5 June 1986
    He died of AIDS about a year later. I often look at this dictionary and think, have things changed for the better? Yes, in many ways they have. And in many ways, we have a long way to go. Thanks, Dennis, for setting me out on a path. Hope to do you proud.

    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    Books Are Free

    "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." - Scout Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird

    In our house, full of many children and limited funds (all spent on education), there was one thing that was always free. Books.

    You could beg beg beg for clothes or records or toys and pray your hardest that Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Birthday Fairy would bring them. And they might. You could beg beg beg mom and dad every time you went into a store - "oh please please please can I have it". And you might get it.

    The one place you never had to beg was the bookstore. Books were free. They didn't fall under any limit. They were "extra-budgetary" as the federal bean counters might say.

    Summer evenings on Cape Cod in a house with no TV we listened to baseball games on the radio and read. Our favorite bookstore - The Compass Rose - kept us in good supply. I miss that place. It had a feel to it that no other place had.

    When I went in there with my parents it was FREE.



    ***********************************************************
    This is part of the DAY TO READ campaign:

    January 10, 2008 has been designated as the DAY TO READ.

    On that day we join the collective challenge to spend some time with our noses stuck in it. A book that is. If you are a blogger, join us by stepping away from the keyboard for all or part of the day and spend that time reading something you enjoy.

    Next, report to us (check out Jenn in Holland or Gunfighter - this guy reads EVERYTHING) and others what you've read. You can do this in a dedicated post or a comment at Allison's blog--Soccer Mom in Denial--after the DAY TO READ has passed.

    Post the DAY TO READ button at your blog. Pass it on! The button, the news about the day, the challenge to others to read, read, read, read, read!

    Leave me your suggestions for books to read - not sure what I'm interested in? Check here and here.

    That's it. Make DAY TO READ a Happily Ever After kind of event.


    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Sometimes you just need a good editor

    ___________________________________________

    Cheney Has Irregular Heartbeat

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Published: November 26, 2007
    Filed at 9:11 p.m. ET

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Doctors administered an electrical shock to Vice President Dick Cheney's heart and restored it to a normal rhythm during a 2 1/2 hour hospital visit Monday. The procedure was described as a low-risk, standard practice. Cheney, 66, went home from George Washington University Hospital and was expected back at work on Tuesday.

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    Others' Ears



    This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory (some are freakin' hilarious!).

    ***********************************************************

    I am a terrible singer. I know this. I've learned to love my voice. Alas, others have not been so fortunate. These are their tales.

    A few years ago, my then-boyfriend/now-husband spent Christmas with my family and me in NYC. He's Jewish but not so much practicing so the holiday was fine with him - except the church part, understandably. It was Christmas eve and I wanted to go the midnight candlelight service. My dad and brother wanted to go to sleep. I was prepared to head over to the church by myself but my boyfriend insisted on going with me as it was so late. The service involved a lot of singing as is typical and each time he stood up with everyone else - just didn't sing. After a few hymns I noticed that he began to move closer towards me. Thinking he wanted to read the words in the hymnal I moved my arms over so that he could see better. He edged nearer but his eyes didn't go to the page. I thought it was sweet that he just wanted to be closer to me. He later said that what he really wanted was to hear my voice - it was so bad he just couldn't believe it.

    I had a wonderful dog, Wilma whom I adored and took with me everywhere. We went on lots of road trips together all over the northeast. She was a very sweet and sensitive black lab - she adored everyone and they adored her. As with any driving, there were less than great moments - idiot drivers (never me) cutting you off or any other numerous infractions. Typically I would curse them out and yell, overtaken by road rage. Anytime I cursed out another driver Wilma would shake and cower and try and hide underneath the seat (keep in mind she weighed 70lbs.) I learned to control my rage and Wilma calmed down. But then I noticed whenever I sang to the radio she had the same reaction. She liked the radio just fine - I could turn the volume all the way up playing hardcore rap music and she was content. Except when I opened my mouth. Back under the seat.

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Oh My God She's Dead?



    I've mentioned in earlier posts my rather large extended family. For this Soap Opera Sunday I will be focusing on my closest family member, my sister Jennifer.

    Back when I was a bit younger - maybe 8 or 9 - I begged my parents for a hamster. I so badly wanted that furry little thing. I had dreams of a Habitrail running through my head. Finally, my parents relented and for my birthday I received not one, but two hamsters. Seeing as they were sisters I named them Jennie and Jessica (that being my sister and me).

    I was a pretty decent caretaker for awhile. The whole cage cleaning thing was a bit of a bore. And there were the few times one of them escaped and my parents and I would scramble around my room trying to catch the furry little thing. My best friend Alison and I would play with them all the time - let them run around our hands. They were so soft.

    One tragic day Alison called and the conversation went something like this:


    Al: Hi, what's up?
    Me: [audible sobs]
    Al: What's wrong, why are you crying?
    Me: Jennie's dead [sob, sob]
    Al: Oh my god, she's dead?! What happened?!
    Me: I don't know, I just found her there [sob, sob]
    Al: Found her where?
    Me: Hanging from her cage! [sob, sob]
    Al: OH MY GOD! SHE WAS IN A CAGE? SHE WAS HANGING?
    Me: I'll be okay [sob, sob]
    Al: [dawning realization that this is the hamster, not my sister]. Oh right, well you've still got the other one.


    Please, whoever you are out there. For heaven's sake, do not ever name your pet after your sister or any other family member. (ahem, Jenn in Holland)

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    The Batting Cage

    Yesterday I mentioned the myriad of toys at our relatives house. Today's entry is dedicated to the batting cage. I LOVE the batting cage.

    They have a large basement which is actually another garage - the previous owners had several cars and since the house sits on a slope they were able to create these additional long rooms downstairs. Rooms that would not be used as a garage but which had the wonderful quality of being long with cement walls. One side is a workshop and the other is a glorious batting cage.

    When we first arrived and heard there was a batting cage downstairs we figured it was really just a backstop like the one in the backyard. Oh no, it's a *real* batting cage, complete with an automatic pitching machine. It has a large net surrounding the area - so when you hit the ball it doesn't fly off the walls.

    I screamed and jumped and then quickly ran into the cage (with a helmet of course) and proceeded to warm up. In heels. It was heaven. I hit nearly every ball too. Of course, I couldn't tell you if they were doubles or triples, but they felt like homeruns. Oh joy.

    My husband was up next. Can't say he did as well. Our 8-year old phenom niece knocked it out of the park. She's headed for the major leagues next week.


    Friday, November 23, 2007

    Failed?

    Yesterday we went to relatives for Thanksgiving dinner. Expecting the usual dull 4-hour wait for a 5-minute meal we were pleasantly surprised to have arrived at what can best be described as Playland. Seriously, a batting cage in the basement, foosball table and Xbox. Dinner was a minor distraction.

    Today's blog entry will be about one of these wonderful toys, the Xbox. We are by no means video game fans. The last time I remember playing one, Space Invaders was considered revolutionary. A big step up from Pong. My husband played some Star Wars game with our nieces for about an hour or so, until he finally beat one of them - the 6-year old I think.

    Later on in the evening the girls pulled out Xbox Karaoke. Sounded like fun but nothing more exciting than you and bunch of drunk friends at a bar in NY. Oh no, this was more. This was competitive karaoke. Somehow this karaoke (which can place you at a country fair or a seaside concert with any number of "personalities") could also rate your performance. Something about hitting the right note at the right time. If you know me, you know this is impossible. I've been asked to stop singing in church. In church. By my family.

    After watching the girls do a few of these songs my husband and I tried for a duet of sorts. Our character looked liked Elvis. Elvis in the 70's. Right before he overdosed. We sang Madonna's "Material Girl". We failed. Yes, we "failed". Our audience rating was so low the needle couldn't get any lower. Our character collapsed on stage at the end of the show. The audience had cleared out. Other people in the room thought we were trying to sing badly.

    Next we switched to a character who looked something like a cross between Britney Spears (post-two babies, think MTV awards) and Foxy Brown. Our song - "Brick House". Have you actually heard these lyrics? Oh goodness. Needless to say we bombed that one too.

    Who knew you could fail at karaoke?

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    I Am Thankful For





    A family I both love and like.

    Most days.








    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    Holiday Travel

    Oh, the joy. Ugh. I live in the heavily congested Northeast Corridor. You know, that lovely stretch from Washington, DC to Boston, MA which on a light weekend resembles a parking lot? I have lived here most of my life (a short stay on the West Coast) and have faithfully traveled during Thanksgiving. I went to college in Baltimore and grad school in Boston and never missed a Thanksgiving in Connecticut. My adherence to this travel nightmare was only outdone by my stupidity.

    However, a few years ago, that all changed. I love my home state (Go Nutmeggers!) but it's not the easiest place to get to. Invariably I would go via NYC - stand on an overcrowded Amtrak train or take a very expensive flight (and then a bus and train - don't get me started on the inaccessiblity of NYC airports).

    Over the years, the holiday crowd got thinner. Everyone was stressed from travel and the traditional dinner became a smorgasbord of anxiety. How long will my drive take - 5 hours or 12 hours? I spent my the entire week anxious about the trip up and the entire Thanksgiving day anxious about the trip down. And then there was my sweet sweet dog who had gotten too old to kennel and finding a sitter was impossible over a holiday weekend. So I finally threw in the towel and called Dad.

    Me: How about this year I stay here in DC and we get together the next weekend in NYC. We can have a great meal and not be stressed the whole time. We can reallly ENJOY ourselves. How does that sound?

    Dad: Fantastic! Thanks for not making me go to get you at the airport. This is the best gift ever!


    Aaaaaah, the relief. I wrote into an online chat at the Washington Post and won a prize for that story - would you believe it was luggage?

    Safe travels everyone!

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    Dryer Lint

    This posting every day for the month of November is tough. I can find the time but finding the topic is getting tougher.

    The other night while out with some other bloggers I mentioned to Gunfighter that I'm going to resort to writing about dryer lint.

    Well here it is, my dryer lint blog entry:

    One reader of Real Simple magazine wrote in about her most unusual holiday gift,

    My Aunt Hallie gave me a beautifully wrapped package of dryer lint. It was supposed to include the instructions for making dryer-lint fire starters, but she had misplaced them.

    Fire starter? Hmmmm....never thought of that. Can you do the same with navel lint?

    Here are some other handy uses for dryer lint:
    1. Stuffing toys
    2. Nesting material for birds
    3. Worms or compost
    4. Insulation
    5. Make paper
    6. Artwork

    Gee, with all these options, don't think I need to go Christmas shopping this year!

    Happy Holidays everyone!

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Sold!



    This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory (some are freakin' hilarious!).

    *************************************************************
    About a year and a half ago I got married and, as with any wedding, there was much planning beforehand. We were two pretty laid back fiance(e)s not caring too much about a lot of details and really focusing our efforts on certain specifics that really mattered to us.

    One of these specifics was music. As I mentioned before my husband is a HUGE classical music fan. We negotiated that he would have control over the ceremony (with a string quartet) and I would have control over the reception. We had been planning a Beethoven-heavy ceremony - about 4 music pieces - and some readings. The reception, as you might imagine was a bit different - we had a band who was basically going to play rock-type music - the stuff you dance to at weddings.

    My mom and stepdad were in town several months before the wedding and we took them out to lunch. The subject of "YMCA" came up. You can imagine the look on my Beethoven/Wagner/Mahler loving fiance's face when he heard mention of this song. I explained to him that it's sort of a tradition in our family that when one of the women gets married that we play this song at the reception. It all stems from my cousin Kristen's wedding where my newly divorced mother is captured on film desperately waving her arms around trying to figure out the letters. It's a happy memory for all of us. We subsequently played it at my cousin Kathy's wedding and later my mother's wedding (in an English manorhouse no less!).

    He was mortified. The conversation moved on.

    My mom said how much she loved Mozart and how much she would just love to have a little Mozart at the wedding ceremony. I gently told her that my fiance was in charge of music and he would choose. She kept pushing. My stepdad and I just kept saying to her "point taken". She kept pushing. My fiance, ever the gentleman who didn't want to piss off his future mother-in-law, kept quiet. She kept pushing. Finally, she pulls out the wild card - "I'll offer you YMCA" she yells, he responds "SOLD!"

    I sat there stunned and then reminded everyone present "I am the bride and at the end of the day, I control EVERYTHING." Nuff said.

    So what happened? Fiance and I negotiated no YMCA - he had issues with our crazy family maybe overwhelming his. And I didn't need it so bad that I was willing to fall on that sword. The ceremony music would be all Beethoven and it would be lovely.

    Months later at the wedding reception, the band starts playing YMCA. My husband, my mother, my stepdad and I look at each other - we're a bit stunned. We didn't count on my sister doing an end run around all of us.

    Everyone piled onto the dance floor and we had a blast. It truly takes a Village People to raise a family.

    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    Mi Familia



    I couldn't think of any soapy stories this week that:

    a) I was willing to put in print for my friends and family to read (and therefore hate me for) or;
    b) I was sufficently embarassed by (must be repressing the memories)

    So I'm going to take this opportunity to describe a family who could easily end up in a place like Port Charles (that's for you General Hospital fans out there!).

    There are two children who each got married, each had four kids and then each got divorced, and then each remarried into families with more kids. Of the second generation there are eight original children with three added on at a later date through a second marriage, and then even more inherited. Did you follow that?

    Remember when you were in grade school and you learned all the different parts of a family - sister, brother, mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandfather, grandmother? And you had a pretty clear sense of who was older than the other?

    This family has a niece 10 years older than an aunt, a grandfather who is only 38 years old, and a daughter only 11 years younger than a mother. A grandchild 7 years younger than a great-grandchild and a great-grandfather who has not yet reached retirement age.

    Sound confusing? Welcome to my world.

    Maybe next week I'll work up the nerve to tell an embarassing story about them.

    Saturday, November 17, 2007

    It's That Little Pink Nose



    "I Love Lucy" - part of the weekly Photo Hunters

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    Product I Could Never Endorse

    Duncan Hines Oven-Ready Homestyle Brownies - No prep and no clean up! In my home we do the dishes, so what makes this "homestyle"? This product has sunk to a new low. You don't even need to provide the pan. Seriously folks, pull out the mix if you have to, add the oil and eggs, and stir. The exercise will do you good and you might enjoy the process of baking. If you want the smell of brownies in the oven then put some vanilla over a heat source. Same effect, fewer chemicals.


    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Praying for Rain

    Life around here lately has been a bit odd. It's been raining. Nearly every day or so it seems. When you go several months without rain and your poor plants are endlessly thirsty despite your constant watering, you really notice it when it rains. I'm not sure I could live in Seattle, but I sure am appreciating all this water, albeit a bit late.

    It got me thinking about other people who have had issues with water lately. The Governor of Georgia recently led a public prayer session for rain. Maybe he should pray for this administration to do something about climate change.

    Here's one of my favorite Sesame Street episodes on the virtues of rain according to Oscar the Grouch and Bob:




    ***********************************************************
    For a story about too much water check out my sister's website -- she has a stirring video from Aceh, Indonesia, a place which suffered horribly from the tsunami of December 26, 2004.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Dear John

    This is a post about my hairdresser John whom I am visiting today. I love my hairdresser.

    Let me tell you why:

    1. When I was debating whether or not to go on a first date with this guy he said I should do it - and give it several dates. Told me to give it a chance because you never know. Yep, I married the guy.

    2. When he saw my mom for the first time after she finished radiation therapy (she flies transatlantic for his haircuts) and found out she had cancer, he just about fell on the floor. Then picked himself up and said to her, "you've got so much hair, we've got nothing to worry about."

    3. When he and his partner wanted to adopt a child from John's home country of Vietnam, they adopted twins - because twins are harder to place together. He wheels them around Capitol Hill wearing onesies that say "Bush is Poopy".

    If I were bald I would still go to him every 6 weeks. Just so we could visit.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Wretched



    This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory (some are freakin' hilarious!). Also participating this week is Jenn from Holland.

    *************************************************************

    A few years ago my then-boyfriend/eventual-husband and I went to Paris for a romantic vacation. On our first night there we went for a stroll by the Seine. I kept complaining that my feet hurt so we headed back to our hotel, passing by the Louvre. We stopped in front of the Arc de Carrousel and he proposed to me. I of course said yes - or something to that effect.

    The next night, all gleeful and newly engaged, we went to a concert at the IRCAM Center. I've mentioned before that he's a classical music fan - and this was going to be a classical music concert. But contemporary classical music (I myself have never really understood that term). He said he didn't think I'd like it but that this was a very unique venue and that the musicians were very well known. I, of course, agreed to go - I've been to any number of concerts that were less than thrilling - and I'm always open to try something once.

    Oh boy! I don't even know how to describe the sounds that came out of these instruments - some violins, a trumpet, I don't even remember. I suppose somewhere in there was a tune or something linking these notes together but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out. Pipes clanging with the onset of winter have more melody to them. I tried desperately to latch onto something in this concert. No luck.

    When it was over, my fiance turned to me and said, "What did you think?"

    I replied, "Wretched".

    Good thing he proposed the night BEFORE...

    ************************************************************

    Click here to listen to Howard Stern mock a similar sound

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Clueless



    *Names have been changed to protect the innocent and mostly stupid*


    Back in grad school I became close friends with a classmate of mine, Mary*. Along with everyone else in our program we were all embarking on 2 years of a master's program. Mary and I hung out all the time - taking many of the same classes and living in the same neighborhood. We got to know many of our new classmates, including SMID, and two other women, Jane* and Jill*. It was an exciting and chaotic first year for all of us. About halfway through the first year, Jane, who had been living in school housing, moved in with Jill who had a big apartment in a great neighborhood. By the end of the first year everyone had gotten to know one another and we all went home for the summer.

    In the second year when got back to school, I stayed in my fabulous apartment and my friend Mary moved into much better digs in town. Jane and Jill moved into an even better apartment, also in our neighborhood. As Mary, Jane, Jill and I were in the same program and lived in the same neighborhood we spent a lot of time together both studying and socializing.

    Sometime in the spring Jane and Jill had a party at their place and invited Mary and me. We invited SMID to join us. It was a lot of fun - both Jane and Jill being great cooks with a well-stocked kitchen and fabulous taste in wine.

    Later on in the evening J & J were opening cards from other guests. Anniversary cards. Mary and I thought this was so great - that we too should have a party celebrating our friendship! SMID had a quizzical look on her face. Later on, we all took a tour of the apartment and SMID whispered in my ear, "there's only one bed". Mary and I thought nothing of this - there was also a futon in the living room. Don't many students bunk up?

    It must have been about 2 months later by the time Mary and I finally caught on. Yep, our friends were more than friends. Not that anyone cared. To this day we like to think it's because we are so open-minded that it just never entered our minds that there was something more romantic going on. Our friends like to think it's because we're as stupid as we look.

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Flexible







    Fat Henry being Flexible - part of the weekly Photo Hunters

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    It's Hammer Time!

    The Washington Post had a story in the Style section about a woman who took a hammer to Comcast (our local cable provider).

    Note that it was in the *Style* section, not the police blotter. She's a folk hero. Not that I condone violence, but I can truly understand her frustration.

    I have spent the better part of the past 2 months fighting with the cable company over a few channels with terrible reception. You might say, "it's just a few channels" but when your team is in the playoffs on one of those channels and you can't see what's happening it can be enormously painful!

    Six inside visits, three outside visits (there are two different teams requiring separate visits) and 2 months later my problem is finally resolved. Turns out all it required was replacing about 10 feet of cable inside. It's enough to make you want to go and take a hammer to someone.

    Not that I condone violence.

    If I had a hammer,
    I'd hammer in the morning,
    I'd hammer in the evening,
    All over this land.

    I'd hammer out danger,
    I'd hammer out a warning,
    I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters,
    All over this land.

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Star F**king

    My husband often accuses me of Star F**king - when you stalk someone who is famous (in this town that's usually a politician) just to get a glance or better yet, a photo-op. The walls of some offices are just full of these treasured moments captured on film - complete with a clever personal note from the star him/herself!

    Yes, I confess, that at times I am enamored of certain famous people - but in my defense, let me say that I am very discriminating (in a good way). I do not stalk known conservatives and have turned down opportunities to meet people with whom I don't feel a certain connection. Not "connection" like in my head I think we're best friends - "connection" like I agree with them on certain issues. Please, give me some credit, I have standards!

    In the past few years I've managed to meet a few people and this, more often than not, results in a photo. I won't lie, I like my pictures. Especially the one of me and a famous rock star that my mother so lovingly had plastered on a coffee mug.

    Yesterday, was a magical day. Typically, I meet these stars at some event. But yesterday, I was wandering around in the Whole Foods near my house just scrounging for lunch when I saw HER. Naturally, I slipped into stalking mode.

    I quickly called my husband at work -"It's HER. I love HER. What should I do?!" He replied "Just say hello and stop Star F**king. People like it when you say hello."

    I was so nervous! I couldn't possibly say hello. And interrupt her shopping? How rude!

    Then, my moment came! SHE got in the checkout line - I quickly ran with my tuna sandwich (on whole grain, I'm trying to eat better) and got in line behind HER. I gently tapped her arm and said -

    "Are you who I think you are?" to which she replied "I think so".

    I then said - "I think you're the most intelligent woman on television." Oh my god! I said something smart! And not at all embarassing!

    She replied "Well thank you. We're in town doing a piece on lobbyists." I quickly added "My husband works on the Hill. I'll tell him to avoid you." She said goodbye and went on her way.

    Wow. What a day. I need a cigarette.

    Who is SHE? (SMID is going to love this).

    Samantha Bee - Most Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show. Sigh.

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    The Kennedy Center Has A Veterinarian Backstage


    I was struggling with what to post today and thought I would read SMID's blog for some inspiration - and there it was! Music Monday. Here forthwith, my musical Monday.

    We attended a children's concert yesterday at the Kennedy Center (my husband does classical music reviews for the Washington Post) - hosted by the visiting conductor Ivan Fischer. He was fantastic - so animated with the kids. My husband offered to cover this concert because, as he told the press person for the National Symphony Orchestra, I'm "more in touch with my inner child than he is." It's true. Anyway, the concert was a series of pieces demonstrating different instruments - violin, viola, contrabassoon, flute, trombone. The conductor interacted wonderfully with the kids - who clapped so hard and shouted out their answers to his questions.

    I noticed in the progam that there is an upcoming concert of Peter and the Wolf - the wonderful Prokofiev piece using differerent instruments for the different characters in a story (often narrated by someone famous like Cher, Sharon Stone, Sting, Dame Edna...) about a boy hunting a wolf.

    In the story, the wolf (French horns) swallows the duck (oboe) whole. The press person at the NSO told us a funny story about a previous production of the piece (including mimes). At the end of the piece, when all the characters are marching offstage to the zoo, the children in the audience yelled "But the duck is still inside the wolf!" The conductor this day, not knowing how to respond, turned to someone offstage with a look of desperation - to which he received the reply - tell them "we have someone on staff who'll take care of that".

    Since then, the NSO includes in its program a note for this concert that says "The Kennedy Center has a veterinarian backstage".

    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    Mazel tov!

    In the past two weeks we've attended two naming ceremonies - the first was a Christening and the second a Simchat Bat. All in all they both went along the same lines - infant is blessed and welcomed into the religious community. Followed by brunch.

    The Christening, as most are, was performed during a church service so other various things were included such as hymns and news of the church. I have to confess, as I suppose would be appropriate, that I got a horrible case of the giggles. In this tiny, tiny church with all of maybe 20 pews (that's 10 on either side of the aisle) half full, the minister, who was mic-ed, sang like he was Aretha Franklin. Only he wasn't. I felt bad, because this guy clearly felt the love of God, and clearly wanted to share it. But combined with a tiny, horribly off-key choir, it just hit me in my funny bone. Dear God, please forgive me for shaking so uncontrollably.

    The Simchat Bat, which is a naming ceremony for a girl in the Jewish faith, was held in our friends' backyard led by a cantor -the same cantor who married this couple. It was a beautiful fall day spent with close friends and family. And the neighbor's kid peering over the fence. He was clearly fascinated by all the "amens" and at the end offered his congratulations - as in "CONGRATULATIONS!". Thanks, neighbor boy.

    If I were a food critic - aw heck, I am one -I would say that both receptions were quite delicious. Roast pork tenderloin, braised beef tenderloin, penne with tomato sauce, yellow cake with raspberry filling, bagels with cream cheese and lox, rugelach, and chocolate bundt cake. All scrumptious!

    No liquor, but that's usually reserved for wakes.

    Saturday, November 03, 2007

    Classic




    The Fall Classic - part of the weekly Photo Hunters

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    The Onion Couldn't Make This Stuff Up

    Hooters Fight Gives City 2 Restaurants
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    February 1, 2007

    TROY, Mich. (AP) -- A fight to discourage Hooters restaurant from expanding in this well-to-do Detroit suburb by blocking its liquor license has backfired: Now there are two restaurants just two miles apart.

    Troy, a high-income city of just 80,000 people and home to the state's only Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores, now has another distinction. It is the only non-resort city of its size to have two Hooters.

    ''You come directly off the interstate and that's the first thing you come to,'' said Wade Fleming, a councilman who voted in June to reject the transfer of a liquor license from the old restaurant's location to a new one. ''That starts to define Troy, I think, and that's not how we'd like to define Troy.''

    Hooters executives want just one restaurant in Troy, but the company won't close the old one until it's allowed to serve alcohol at the new restaurant, which opened Monday on a larger, more visible site.

    Critics are concerned that the restaurants' scantily clad servers don't fit the image the city seeks to project in its Big Beaver commercial district. Fleming said officials are trying to make the area a ''world-class corridor.''

    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    Rabbit Rabbit

    It's the first of the month and on the first day of the month I say "Rabbit, Rabbit". It's something a friend of mine told me to do years and years ago and just one of those superstitions I've stuck with. Don't ask me why, I honestly have no idea. She told me to say it on the first day of the month and that was it.

    Along with my rabbit, rabbit supersition I also won't travel with bananas or pickle. Two other superstitions told to me by friends. The first friend was Hawaiian and the second one Indian. I tend to think their supersitious food choices were partly ethnic. But no matter, to this day I will travel with neither item.

    And for good measure I also carry a St. Christopher medal with me. I may not be a practicing Catholic, but I don't need to be the member of any group to use its talismans.

    Best of luck to you all for November!





    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    I Love A Drag Race

    One of the things I love about my neighborhood is the annual Drag Queen Race. A lot of neighborhoods around the country have Halloween parades involving all sorts of characters. But ours is different - it lasts for 2 minutes and it is run in heels. Pretty impressive!

    I heard rumors about lots of Larry Craig costumes this year and hope to see some. But not in this neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, the costumes are often current political figures - First Ladies, Senators, Madames - but they are all female characters.

    Happy Halloween Everyone!




    For my costume suggestion click here.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    What Are You Running To?


    I recently took up running. It's hard but I'm getting the hang of it. One foot in front of the other... I am now up to 3 miles 3 times per week! That's a huge accomplishment for someone who a couple of months ago spent far too much time on her couch. In anticipation of someday running outside in the real world I have recently just added hills to my treadmill routine - great for the butt!

    To keep me from being utterly bored and also to keep my pace up (can't take 3 hours to run those 3 miles) I put together a playlist on my iPod. Peppy stuff like New Order, The Cure and English Beat. The playlist is good but it needs some work. To support my newfound exercise habit my dear friend Aparna sent me a fantastic mix - everything from Jessica Simpson to Kanye West - truly inspirational (if not a bit cheesy)!

    Now it's your turn! In the spirit of the birthday CD I am asking for ideas for songs to add. Stuff that keeps you going, livens you up, makes you feel like you can run forever!

    One day perhaps I will even run the Marine Corps Marathon - think I need a lobotomy first.