Thursday, December 31, 2009

How Do I NOT Do It?

Okay, so everyone’s doing the year in review—where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and how things have changed. Some ambitious writers have even reviewed the whole decade, in the mistaken (but understandably so) view that tonight we enter a new decade. (That’d be next year, son.)

I don’t have the energy.

This year we didn’t send a single holiday card—not Hanukkah, not Christmas. This is not like me. I usually take great pleasure in sending cards to friends and neighbors , some of whom we see frequently, some rarely; some of whom we hear from often, some just at this time of year. So when we threw in the towel on this year, we were relieved, but relief was quickly replaced with Major Guilt. I’m not over it yet—we got lovely cards from lovely friends who received nothing tangible from us.

I’m still working on the holiday letter. For 2007. What is it with me? I used to work ‘outside the home’, as we say in Ms. Magazine, full time. Add an hour and a half commuting time per day, add time spent with growing kids, including ball games, practices, violin lessons, and a little volunteer work, and I can hardly believe I ever had time to sleep. But I did. I also sent holiday cards…

Now I’m more or less retired, doing some freelance writing, obviously blogging, and running a custom embroidery business. (Betcha didn’t know that about me, huh?) But I can’t seem to make it all happen. I’m not reading the number of blogs I would like to, I’m not keeping the house as organized as I expected that I would, once retired, and I’m not getting enough sleep, either. Where, exactly, did I lose control? Did I ever actually have control?

But just so I won’t be the only blogger not to sum up her major achievements of the past twelve months, here are a few of mine:

1. I had my tires rotated.

2. I finished wallpapering my laundry room (I started in 2005. Really.)

3. I gave away my maternity clothes (my youngest child is 28) (Kidding.) (Not about the age, about the clothes.)

4. I changed dentists. No, I didn’t, but my husband did. Of course, he changes dentists like some people change socks.

5. I quit using fabric softener. At first it was just to see if that would clear up the rash I had on my arms, then realized I didn’t really need it anyway, so buh-bye dryer sheets.

6. We endured the chaos of having the carpeting replaced in our whole house. It was a total nightmare while it was happening, but it was worth it in retrospect.

7. I started a blog in August, right about the time the movie “Julie and Julia” came out. Everyone asked me if I saw it. If everyone who asked me that was reading my blog, I’d have a lot more hits each day! (Good movie, by the way.)

Far and away the best of those is #7. I’ve ‘met’ a lot of interesting and talented people by reading their blogs and the blogs of people who comment on those blogs, and—well, you know, pretty soon you have a whole garage full of Amway products. But seriously, folks, when I’m not working the embroidery business, volunteering at the elementary school library, helping out my in-laws (they’re 87—each), or ministering to the orphans at the—wait a minute, I don’t do that—back it up to the in-laws—I adore reading the blogs I’ve come to know and love.

I look forward to more of the same in 2010. So cheers to all of you, and a very happy new year to come! Thanks for stopping by—you really shouldn’t have brought that lovely gift—and try these yummy treats before you go! I hope all your wishes come true, and I hope mine do, too!

Oreo Cream Cheese Truffles

1 package Oreos

1 8 oz. package cream cheese

Chocolate for melting

This is grueling and exhausting (NOT), so buck up for the sheer yumminess of it!

Process the Oreos and the cream cheese in the food processor.

Form into quarter-size balls.

Chill on a cookie sheet till firm (30-45 minutes.)

Dip them in the melted chocolate, and place on wax paper to cool.

O. M. G. Don’t try to thank me now, just go make some more!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brisket and Rolling the Dice

The other night I was making a brisket when my husband, the Center of the Universe poked his head into the kitchen, following the smell of meat. It’s one of his primary skills.

CoTU: “I thought you usually make brisket in the oven. What’s with the pot-on-the-stove technique?”

Me: “I don’t just usually make it in the oven. I always make it in the oven. This is a true aberration.”

CoTU: “Would you care to elaborate?”

Me: “Well, I have always made my patented fork-tender, melt-in-your-mouth, yummerific brisket with a packet of Lipton’s onion soup mix, and I was appalled to find, just as I was searing the meat, that we have none of the requisite ingredient in the house.”

CoTU: “Would you like me to go to Dierberg’s and get you some?”

(He’s always happy to help if the outcome is edible.)

Me: “Thanks, but you’re too late. I was too tired to go, and didn’t want to ask you, so I pulled out some other brisket recipes I’ve been saving. I always thought they sounded good, but didn’t want to tinker with success. Tonight I had little choice.”

CoTU: “So you’re gambling with a 5-pound slab of meat, just to save a buck eighty on onion soup mix?”

Me: “No, I’m lazy, not cheap. In order to save a trip to the store, I’m trying a different recipe. This one happens to call for cooking on the stove, not in the oven. Besides, the primary benefit was that I had all the ingredients on hand.”

CoTU: “I can’t believe you’d risk a big beautiful roast like that.”

Me: “You know, it’s like me cutting my own hair. I used to think that I did it to save money. I now realize that I just happen to like cutting my own hair, and I think I do just about as well as the pros. Well, I like trying new recipes, and the dread of another trip out in the rainy weather impelled me to go this route. Sue me.”

CoTU: “No problem—it’s not like I’m not going to eat it. But it is a gamble…”

Me: “Hey, so were you, but I took a shot, and here we are all these years later!”

CoTU: “Because you were out of onion soup mix?”

Me: “No. Because I was willing to try something new. See? It worked out great for both of us, and this will, too.”

Note: The brisket was awesome! Here’s the recipe, and I’ll also give you the old time-honored, uber-simple one whose absence CoTU was lamenting .  Hmmm... I should have taken pictures, because a picture is worth  a thousand calories. 

First the new:

Sweet and Sour Tangy Brisket

Hunk o’ meat—recipe says 3-4 lbs., obviously I used a 5-er

3-4 medium onions, sliced

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup ketchup

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup water

1. Saute the onions in a tablespoon of vegetable oil till translucent

2. Remove to a bowl

3. Sear the meat (both sides) in the same large skillet

4. Add the onions back to the pan and add the crushed garlic

5. Mix the vinegar, brown sugar and ketchup in a bowl

6. Add the water to the mixture you created

7. Pour all this into the pan with the meat and onions

8. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook 2-3 hours, till meat is fork-tender

Seriously, CoTU now thinks this has replaced the old favorite in my recipe repertoire, so we give it two thumbs up. Also, we had guests to share it with the first night, and they seemed to love it, too.

BTW, I always make meats like this the day before I want to serve them, so I can refrigerate them overnight, skim off any excess fat, and slice it while it’s cold—that way I can get the slices nice and thin.

Now for the old standard recipe…

Time-Honored Brisket

Same hunk o’ meat 3-4-5 pounds

Packet of Lipton's onion soup mix (probably one is good for meats up to 4 lbs. If your roast is larger, use some of the second packet from the box.)


1. Sear the meat in a large skillet in a teaspoon of vegetable oil

2. Place the meat in a 9 x 13” pan, sprayed with Pam

3. Sprinkle onion soup mix over the meat, and rub in with your fingers

4. Add about a cup of water

5. Seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil

6. Place in preheated 350° oven for 2-2 ½ hours, till tender

Voila—super easy, and super delicioso! Trust me—I’m known for my brisket!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snip, Clip and Send

Last night I read Clip Notes, a post on the lovely blog of Debra Darvick. She took me on a delightful stroll down Memory Lane.

Debra observed that the decline of the daily newspaper has generally created an accompanying reduction in the number of newspaper articles we cut out and share with others. Specifically, she reflects on the clippings she sends to her adult children out of town.

She does it, she says, to connect with them. It’s more meaningful than sending a link to the article, she feels. I agree.

But I'm sort of a hybrid who does some of both. If I read it online, I copy and paste the link, but if I read it in hard copy, out come the scissors, envelopes and stamps. After all, I still relish opening a piece of mail that's personal, and as that event has become ever more rare, I cherish it all the more. I sense that the same is true for my kids.

About ten years ago, when we were quite accustomed to using e-mail for almost all our interpersonal correspondence, I received a lovely letter from my good friend Mary Jo. MJ had moved to the other side of the state a year or two earlier, and we e-mailed regularly.

Along with her letter was a clipped newspaper article about a group of (I think) eight women friends in their 70s and 80s. These women had been friends all their lives, and had written letters to one another over a great number of years. The article touched me with its poignancy, but all the more because I saw it as Mary Jo’s way of saying, “This will be us, one day!” (Sadly, she’s dead now—I had to kill her because she stopped writing me. But that’s not important right now.)

My mom used to send me articles with her letters, too. Of course, having raised phobias to an art form, she specialized in clippings of alarm. For example, "Forty-Seven Dead in Tuna Recall", or "Woman Killed by Muskrat Driving at Night." (How’d the muskrat even reach the stupid pedals?)

Overall I'd say her favorite topic, well ahead of how I could poison myself by eating tainted foods or how I could end up dead in a ditch late at night, was the danger of the IUD. Or rather, "The Danger of the IUD!" She loved me. She proved it with every snip of the scissors.

It was not as if I didn’t live in a big city, and read my own newspaper. I knew she wasn’t sending a ‘you don’t have the sense to come in from the rain’ message. As Debra Darvick notes, she was connecting. She was protecting me. Huh! She loved me! Who knew?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beer Vs. Cookies: Choose Your Party

Here’s something totally new and cutting edge for you to think about before your holiday party. (I hope I’m not too late.) It seems that a group of women from our biggest hospital system (one of the nation’s top 10, they do not hesitate to mention) are having a beer party to celebrate the season. Yes. Beer. I know.

I know. You’re thinking, what happened to cookies and punch? Isn’t this a work-related activity? Aren’t alcoholic beverages, I don’t know, shall we say, sort of out of place at a workplace party? Okay, they don’t actually hold the party in the workplace, I’ll concede that.

Each woman brings 24 bottles to the party; six to share and eighteen to take home. So is each participant drinking six beers on site? Hello? Do we need an intervention here? Even if no one is driving home, how could anyone with six beers downed carry the other eighteen bottles to the Metro stop without falling and breaking them all, bloodying herself in the process? What am I missing here?

One of the organizers, Jennifer Arvin, is quoted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch today as saying, “Cookie exchanges are lame.”

Now, I’m not one to start trouble—or wait a second, maybe I am—but some of us happen to enjoy the cookie exchanges, and think that they are classic ways to spend the holiday season. Lame? Your mom’s lame. Cookies are, after all, wonderfully yummy, if made with enough butter and sugar. They also conjure up memories of Grandma, baking, warmth, happiness and fun. Did I mention that they taste really, really good? They may pile on the calories, but they’re worth it.

Beer has been known to plump up a significant number of bellies, too, for that matter. And to make people act dopey, get rowdy, or pass out, at least when consumed six at a time. And a beer tastes great at a ball game, or a cookout. But a beer exchange party?

The participants in the festivities are from the communications team of the hospital system. Mostly marketing and public relations staffers, according to the Post. A real bubbly group, I’m guessing. (Groan—sorry!) This is the third year for this gathering, and at least one husband is eagerly anticipating what his wife will bring home.

I’m wondering whether they got approval from their big bosses to have the photos taken, and put this on the front page of the daily paper. Or if tomorrow’s paper will carry a warning, a rebuke or an admonition from someone at MADD, or the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. This same newspaper has carried a number of articles on DUIs recently, and our state’s miserable enforcement of the law.

Beer party: bad idea, or just bad timing? Nobody ever lost consciousness over too many snickerdoodles. Or did they… Maybe these women are just trying to get (wait for it--) a head.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On Again, Off Again, On Again?

It’s on. It’s off. No, wait, it’s on again. Oops, sorry, spoke too soon—it’s toast.

What am I talking about? The roller-coaster ride that GM has taken us on, trying to spin off the Saab brand of cars.  There were more offs and ons than a string of Christmas lights.

GM bought management control of Saab in 1989 after it split from the Swedish truck maker Scania. In 2000, it bought full ownership of the quirky, sexy little car line.

What’s going on? I know very little except that it seems that there’s a new headline every other day jerking our collective leash in opposing directions. A deal’s been struck. A deal fell through. A buyer’s been found. Potential buyers backed out. Following the stories gave me whiplash.

General Motors, now in bankruptcy, has closed numerous divisions and product lines. They failed to find buyers for the Opel brand. They failed to find buyers for the Saturn brand. Now after umpteen pulls on the choke chain we have news that the deal to sell Saab to the Dutch manufacturer Stryker is dead.

Except for one thing. This morning there’s another set of reports that a new deal with Stryker is in the works. I hope it pans out, and for that matter, I hope they cobble together some sort of deal for Saturn, where most of the jobs are in the United States. (Most of Saab’s are in Sweden.)

Meanwhile, it’s just another Saab story.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanks to Amber!

As promised last week when I was blogging from the remote wilds of suburban Sacramento, here is the inspiration for my “Dear So and So” post. As I had thought, it was the amazing Amber from “Airing My Dirty Laundry”. She’s done it again with “My Dear Letters”, and it’s a total crack-up. Check it out—she never disappoints. And thanks, Amber, for setting the standard!

How Do You Spell Chaos?

Chaos reigns in the household, and I mean above and beyond the usual level of chaos…

This week we have prepared for the ultimate invasion of privacy, the consummate disruption to daily living, and the unearthing of Jurassic era dust from the corners of our closets. Yes, my friends, the Center of the Universe and I have committed to having our carpeting replaced.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early (wait, who am I kidding? – is there any WAY these people will show up on time???) installers will come with a great quantity of carpeting. Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, our nasty old antediluvian floor covering will go away, never to be seen or heard from again.

Yes, this is a happy event, in that, well, who doesn’t like new carpeting more than old carpeting? That’s kind of a given, after all. But here’s the rub, and the actual reason we have procrastinated for so long about doing it: The upheaval may kill us. And our marriage. And us. And our marriage.

When every bedroom in the house has to have the ratty old stuff yanked out in anticipation of having sparkly, twinkly, shiny clean new stuff laid, where do you put the furnishings of each room? Yes, I know, the installers will move the furniture. Believe me, the only thing that finally impelled us to actually bite the bullet and take this step is the knowledge that other people do this every day of the year. (No, not the same people, but you know…)

So our bedroom furniture will go into the guest room while they do our bedroom, and vice versa. Q.E.D. We get that. It’s all the “stuff”, to use the polite term, which has had us fearful and intimidated for so long. (Believe me, we have put this off waaaay too long.)

It’s the issue of emptying out the closets (carpet installers don’t do that), moving computer desks and computers (carpet installers don’t move electronics), moving the treadle sewing machines (carpet installers don’t move ‘antiques’), finding a new home for a lovely spinet piano that nobody plays any more (carpet installers don’t move pianos), and not killing each other in the process.

Truth be told, we’re actually cooperating quite well, and coordinating our efforts to make this a joint project. (No, Howard, that does not mean we’re smoking a joint to get us through this. Come on!) But they say in every couple there’s a hoarder and a discarder, and the two are typically at odds.

In all fairness, we both have some packrat tendencies, but mine are well-controlled (according to me—hey, let him get his own blog!) and his are more like, “But that sweatshirt may come in handy one day, if the see-through look ever comes back and needs to be expressed in kelly green fleece with the barely visible silk-screen of a St. Patrick’s Day Barf-fest on it.” Yeah. That sweatshirt isn’t even good for washing the car, so give it up, man. Or, “I know that frame is broken, but I used to like it.” Used to? It needs to go away. You see the problem.

How about the umpteen boxes of cassette tapes I found on our son’s closet floor. I wanted to give them to Goodwill. Face it, my son clearly doesn’t want them, or he would have taken them with him. And all music is digital now, unless you still like your vinyl, which is another story entirely. I will run it by the son before disposing of the tapes, but you should have seen the C. o. T. U. when I stacked them by the Goodwill stuff. He began to hyperventilate and perspiration formed on his upper lip. I could see I was in for a struggle. “Babe, you don’t want these—we don’t play tapes anymore.” “Let me just see the titles,” he pleaded. “It doesn’t matter—where would you play them? You’d hate the sound quality. What’s the point?”
He gave up a little too easily. I’m going to check those boxes in the morning. I bet he’s squirreled them away in his workshop. Along with his bell bottoms, his madras shirts, and his Bass weejuns.

The old carpeting may go, but the time capsule remains.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Modesty and the Universal Law

Ponder this: I'm visiting my daughter and her wonderful family out-of-town. My son-in-law admonishes my (soon-to-be 3-year old) grandson not to go into the bathroom while Grandma's in the shower. I'm fine with that, but even if he did, what's the worst that could happen?

If he saw me naked, it'd be a lot like seeing his mommy coming out of the shower, only saggy and baggy. He'd get a good first-hand lesson on the aging process.

In fact, if Sir Isaac Newton at age three had seen his Grandma coming out of the shower, he probably would have discovered the Law of Gravity a whole lot sooner.


But you knew that...

I'm just saying...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear So and So,

Apologies to the blogger who inspired the notion of using Fridays to address certain wrongs committed by fellow inhabitants of this planet on which we ride. I am currently travelling, and have intermittent computer access, and slow internet connections, or I would link you up to the muse who planted that seed, and give her due credit. Alas, I will just have to promise to provide that information when I have returned to my home base-- soon!

With a tip of my hat to the above-referenced blogger, here are a few “Dear You-Know-Who-You-Are”s:

Dear Chick-in-the-Pittsburgh-Hotel-Lobby,
What in the name of God makes you think it’s okay to come down to the communal breakfast in your jammies? You are not at home. This is not your kitchen. This is, in fact, the equivalent of a restaurant. Would you go to the IHOP in your pajamas? Would you go to Denny’s in your nightgown? Good grief, I would hope not. Especially in this particular pair of jammies that are thin enough to display your womanly assets in more detail than is truly appropriate for the young children present. Personally, I think the female form is totally beautiful, but I truly don’t care to see yours displayed in this setting. Time and place, Cookie. Think: context.

Dear Funky-Lady-Seated-Next-to-Me-on-the-Plane,
For all the money in the world I cannot imagine why you would not turn off your CrackBerry even after two announcements requesting ALL of us to do so by the flight attendants. I turned off my iPod (wait while I adjust my halo), and no doubt dozens of other passengers turned off their phones and other devices.

When the attendant walked by and I asked her to help you with this decision, you got really snarky. Your brash, “We’re not gonna crash, lady!” struck me as rather peculiar. I really rather wonder what it is that makes you, a 60-something traveler with her hair in a pony tail and her panties in a knot, think that you know more about the aeronautics and avionics involved than the FAA. Oh wait—could it be because you’ve continued to use your PDA when it should have been turned off on other flights that did not crash? Hmmm…

Fortunately, the cabin attendant spoke sternly to you and stood there till you actually turned it off and put it away, but you, the offending offender, sniped at me, “You could have just asked ME to turn it off, you didn’t have to tell her!” I said, “They’ve made two announcements—why would I think you’d do it because I ask you to?”

So next time you fly, what about just following the rules and assuming they have a reason for asking us to ‘power down’? Gee, thanks a bunch. I was hoping to reach my destination safely.

That’s it for today. I’m sure that there are a lot more people I’d like to tell off, but they’ll have to wait for another post. Meanwhile, I’m generally not a cranky person. I’m pretty upbeat, and mostly rather friendly. But I do know how to dish the snark, and I thank you for letting me do so here! And you know, it feels good!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Year Lingo - How Do YOU Say 2010?

A couple of weeks ago (good thing I found this scribbled note I stuck in my purse, and yes, I know I misspelled 'Siegel' in my note... Who knew?) I heard a feature story on NPR’s All Things Considered that really made me scowl. Permit me to vent.

The discussion was about whether next year should be called “two-thousand ten” or “twenty-ten”. BFD, right? But still…

Robert Siegel is the host of the program, and he interviewed four people: the secretary of state of Iowa, a man who runs a mail order planner/calendar business, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the art director of an ad agency in Portland, Oregon. Among them they presented both sides of the argument.

Now before I launch into my spiel about my thinking on this, is anyone else wondering why it’s more important to consider next year, than it would have been to ask whether this year should have been “twenty-oh-nine” versus “two-thousand nine”? I’m just asking…

So here’s the thing. Although both concepts had support, the gist of their interviewees’ opinions seemed to indicate that only “two-thousand ten” offers the dignity that we should accord this upcoming year, and that “twenty-ten” is basically too casual to be considered proper. I respectfully disagree.

Think of the most respected and esteemed years in our nation’s history. Columbus discovered America in_______. Class? Right—1492. Always “fourteen ninety-two”, never “one thousand four hundred ninety-two.” The year of our founding? Bueller? Exactly—1776. “Seventeen seventy-six.” No disrespect implied; we say it with pride and respect. And our last example: Party like it’s ________. Anyone? Of course—1999 “Nineteen ninety-nine.” Respect is front and center in all of those years, and the ones before and since. It has been our custom and our convention to name our years this way. What’s the big deal?

So where’s the real problem here? Yes, the ‘experts’ invoked both the movie “2001- A Space Odyssey” and the incredibly stupid song from the ‘70s, “In the Year 2525” as competing reasons for which way to go on this urgent and pressing issue of the day. But let’s decide soon—there are only twenty-two days left before the new year. Or should I say three weeks and a day? Or should I say 11/15 of a month? Or should I say 528 (five-hundred twenty-eight) hours? Or should I … Nope. I’m done.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ten Deadly Warning Signs

As it has been written:

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
I am my mother after all.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The Chenille Sisters do a fabulous song called, “Help! I’m Becoming My Parents”. They cleverly point out that while we love and admire them, we never thought we would actually turn out to be just like them. When it turns out that we are, we are not happy about it.

I’d like to think that I’m still in my prime –okay, I’d like to think that I sing like Susan Boyle, too, and that’s just another false fantasy—but I must admit that I see signs that I may be evolving (or devolving) into the people who gave me life. As a public service, I’d like to provide a list of the ten deadly warning signs of what I like to call Generational Creep.

1. You are no longer comfortable driving at night.
2. Some desserts are “too rich”. (See footnote: “Alka-Seltzer as a nightcap”)
3. Your idea of the perfect Saturday night is staying home.
4. You are preoccupied with your digestive tract.
5. You think other people are interested in your digestive tract.
6. You have at least one sibling you don’t speak to.
7. You need an afternoon nap in order to stay up for Letterman.
8. You worry about your children’s health insurance.
9. You think your children should be worried about your health insurance.
10. You want Velcro on your tennis shoes.

I think people my age are going to fight this “senior citizen” status till we’re blue in the face, even if it means shunning the all-important senior discount. We grew up in the ‘60s, and we invented sex, drugs and rock and roll. Of course, one look at Mick Jagger on stage should serve as a reminder that we are no longer young and vital. Maybe we can settle for “aging and vital.” Maybe we can settle for “we still have our own teeth.”

All I know is that it’s a slippery slope, and once you start putting pills into a 7-day compartmentalized container, you can just about bend over and kiss your youth, heck, kiss middle-age goodbye. And if you can stand up straight after that, the Motrin’s on the second shelf.

Friday, December 4, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Yes, at last, I’m honoring the second part of my commitment to Nancy at f8hasit by bestowing the “Your Blog is Fabulous” award on the following five bloggers!

1. Susan at “A Walk in My Shoes” writes with insight and inspiration about her writing, and (like a good teacher) makes you think about your own writing. And she ties it beautifully into shoes in one way or another. Check it out, she lovingly makes you think!

2. Amber at “Airing My Dirty Laundry (One Sock at a Time)” keeps me in stitches with her recounting of life with two (totally gorgeous) kids and a hubbin in the military. She’s for real, and she provides a relaxing look at her life on an army post.

3. Amanda at “Mandajuice” is a remarkable writer who seems to have twelve plates spinning in the air at any given time. She is writing a novel, raising her kids, and keeping her husband happy, too. Her ability to share family life and the challenges we all face is uncanny!

4. JennyMac at “Let’s Have a Cocktail” is the most prolific blogger I know. She routinely posts six days a week, and they are truly all quality reads. She also has a habit of sharing some delectable recipes from time to time, and I can recommend several of them highly. She is a mighty clever writer!

5. “Swistle” writes about life with her husband and five kids in a way that you completely understand, yet leaves you spitting coffee out of your nostrils. She’s a total laugh riot and has a unique take on all phases of life. It’s a blast to read her blog.

So there you have it, my friends, the award goes to e) all of the above. Bravo to all of them for the wonderful job they do, and the joy and entertainment they provide. May I just say, to paraphrase the immortal words of the late Fernando, “Your blog is fabulous.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Playing Catch-Up! Thanks Again, Nancy!

The long overdue debt to the lovely Nancy at f8hasit is paid at last! Nancy honored me with the Your Blog is Fabulous award all the way back on November 11th, and I am overdue to execute the responsibilities of this award. Can she rescind it? Well, maybe if I get on the stick today, she’ll cut me just a little more slack…

But seriously folks, since November 11th I’ve traveled to Pittsburgh for a lovely visit with my son and the daffodil (remember: De Facto Daughter-in-Law), nearly burned to a crisp in a hotel fire en route home, (you read that post about ten days ago?) and hosted a gala Thanksgiving dinner here for 16, which (by my own rules) involved marathon cooking for days in advance. And the use of dishes which can not be put into the dishwasher. (Yes. I am nuts.)

So I’m just saying, I have tons of excuses for the lengthy delay…

Anyway, my obligation is to tell you of five obsessions, and to bestow the aforementioned award on five more bloggers. First, my obsessions.

1. Billy Collins. His poetry totally rocks my world. He can make me laugh and cry both within the same poem. He sees things with clarity and insight and shares them like a ripe peach. Oh, please buy his books, read his work, and worship him as I do. We will be the Billy Collins cult. And The Lanyard will be our anthem. Or The Trouble With Poetry. Or The Poems of Others. Or The Man in the Moon. You will so love this man’s work.

2. Fabric. I love everything about it. Touching it, turning it, cutting it, ironing it. Wait—maybe not so much the ironing part. I started sewing when I was very young, and fell in love with what I could do with fabric. Make myself a dress, make curtains for my room, later make clothes for my kids, re-cover seat cushions to my liking, make fun purses, etc. When I discovered quilting about twenty-five years ago, a whole new world of fabrics opened up to me. Great and wonderful colors and designs are out there, and there are new lines and designers coming along all the time. Amazing things can be done, and one can never have too much fabric. That is axiomatic. You can believe the bumper sticker She Who Dies With the Most Fabric Wins.

3. Justice. I know, this should have been first, not third, but I’m weak. I despise and detest injustice in all its many forms. I cringe, rail, and shake my fist in the face of any display of bias, discrimination or unfairness. I write letters to the editor, to my senators, to my congressman, to anyone I think can effect change in the face of some perceived wrong. I attend meetings, sometimes I organize meetings, letter-writing campaigns, or other means of protest when I think that justice is not being served. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and who are we if we do not speak up when we witness an act of inequality?

4. Reading. My earliest memories are of reading. It was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I have very vivid memories of riding the Elmwood-Darstdale bus to the Delmar Loop to visit our local library on Saturday mornings. I can (seriously) conjure up the smells of that wood, and the marble floors and the beautiful, and seemingly endless, shelves of books. I recall that I was allowed six books each week, and would read them over and over again until the next Saturday rolled around. I also remember that I couldn’t wait for my fifth birthday to come, as that was the day I was permitted to get my own library card. I printed my name on the line, and my mother attested to my age. This was perhaps sweeter than getting my driver’s license. A license to read. My driver’s license had more limits than a library card. I still couldn’t leave our metropolitan area at sixteen years old, but even at age five, with my own library card I had a passport to everywhere. I was reborn! (We should talk about The Elegance of the Hedgehog—have you read it?)

5. My kids. (Photos some other time!) Enough said. I’m getting ferklemt just going that far, so fill in the rest for yourselves. And this includes, of course, the grandkids. Sniff, sniff.

Step two: Bestow the award on five deserving recipients. For that, tune in Friday! This post has become a tome in itself!