Sunday, October 30, 2005

Trick or Treat Through J-Land!

Teresa over at Oh My Word had a great idea:

Hey, everyone is looking for journal exposure or maybe would just like some fun. Let's do both!

Starting Friday night through Monday night, visit as many J-land journals as you can, and leave a comment and a link to your journal as a treat. The more "houses" you visit the more trick or treaters you'll get.

Please call your entry "TRICK OR TREAT THU J-LAND". If you come to a journal that does not have this entry title, consider it a door you knocked on and no one answered! Decorate your journal for Halloween, perhaps a picture of your front door or whatever grabs your holiday spirit. Leave links to your journals where ever you can. Stop at the same journal only once!

Start 7pm Friday and end 9pm Monday...whatever your time zone. Report back here next week to let us know how many trick or treaters you had.

Now if I can just keep from eating all the chocolate goodies I have ready for trick-or-treaters...

p.s. - this trick or treat bowl has a hidden button on the side; when I press it, the eyes light up, the fingers wiggle, and the bowl laughs...bwwwaahahaahahahaha...

more Happy Halloween pics

I went to the Farmer's Market in Dallas on Thursday and took a lot of pics of fall produce, including this one of some beautiful pumpkins (soon to be jack-o-lanterns!).

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I know, I know, it's not until tomorrow, but...I love Halloween, so I'm saying Happy Halloween a day early. In the spirit of Halloween, here's a pic of Kath all dressed up and ready to trick or treat, circa 1985...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

old friends

I went to the ballet tonight and then out for drinks afterward with two of my best friends in Dallas, Sherri and Chandini. At 56, I’m the old lady of the group; Sherri’s 39 and Chandini has just turned 27. We joke that we’re the Dallas version of Sex and the City, and that’s actually not so far off the mark. Chandini is newly married, but Sherri and I always talk about who we’re dating or not dating and we ask each other’s advice on relationships.

A couple of light years ago, we used to work together at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. We worked for the University, in outpatient Child Psychiatry. When I was doing a psych eval and was stuck in figuring out the diagnosis, these are the women I’d consult with. I’d walk into Sherri’s or Chandini’s office with a Coke and a fresh bag of microwaved "Risperdal" popcorn (courtesy of Janssen) or some cookies and a cup of coffee and drop cross-legged to the floor, and we’d consensus what was going on with a kid or a family. Sometimes we’d consensus what might be going on with whomever each of us was dating at the time. We worked long hours for little pay, and although we didn’t love most of the docs to whom we had to report, each of us loved the kids who were our patients, and for the most part, we loved what we were doing.

Still, it was a given that we couldn’t do it forever. The University squandered us, shamelessly, until each of us moved on, but the friendship remains.

These women are my lodestar; I count on them for their humor and their wisdom; they’re whom I call when life has blindsided me, and they always help me to put my life into perspective.

Tonight we sat around and got caught up a little on each other’s lives. I thank my lucky stars for all my friendships, but especially for this one. Carole King said it so well:

When you're down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, whoa nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest nights

You just call out my name,
And you know whereever I am
I'll come running
To see you again
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, (yeah I will)
You've got a friend...

If the sky above you
Should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
And soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you got to do is call
And I'll be there, (yeah, yeah, yeah) You've got a friend...

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?
When people can be so cold
They'll hurt you and desert you
Well they'll take your soul if you let them
Oh yeah, but don't you let them...

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Oh babe, don't you know that,
Winter spring summer or fall,
Hey now, all you've got to do is call.
Lord, I'll be there, yes I will.
You've got a friend.

You've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
You've got a friend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

VIVI Nominations

In case you hadn't heard, I've been nominated for a VIVI Award in the category of Best AIM Journal.WOO HOO! THANK YOU! I am soooooo happy and honored to be nominated. I called my journal Talking to Myself because I truly didn't know if I'd have any readers (other than a few friends and family), not only have readers, but to have readers who like my journal enough to nominate me, when there are so many excellent journals out there...that's truly an honor, and I want to thank you, everyone of you, who voted for me in the nominations. I'm going to steal a line from one of my favorite writers, Jodi (Have You Lost Your Mind/Looking Beyond the Cracked Window), who said, "being nominated is just as if I had won". She's right, and I couldn't have said it better (which is why I'm stealing her line, giving her credit, of course). ;p

Congratulations to EVERYONE who was nominated, in all categories...and if you’re reading this and weren’t nominated this year, well, congratulations to you too, because nominated or not, all of us are writers...every one of us who takes the time to put our thoughts on paper, for ourselves and anyone who might come across our words...

Here’s a link to the other journals in my category as well as a link to the VIVI Awards page.


Talking to Myself - emmapeeldallas :))
The Daily Snooze II - hewasolddog299
The Light's On...But No One's Home - krspkrmmom
Living Life...and Lovin It - chseroo

The polls are now open and you'll have until 11:59pm this Sunday to cast your vote for the journals you feel deserve the top honors in each category (or as many categories as you wish to vote for), so click on the link and vote (and thank you, thank you, thank you).

Monday, October 24, 2005

no regrets in the morning

It's been one of those weekends. On Friday night he came over for dinner and asked to spend the night. I said yes. He went home for a while on Saturday, but then he came back and spent the night again on Saturday night. We were up late, but I have to admit we had a great time. We had a leisurely breakfast this morning, and this afternoon we went to the movies; we had a light dinner and then, a candlelight bath just seemed like the natural thing to do...he's sleeping in my bed right now as I write...

I'm referring to Alexander, of course, who's 3 and who's spending the week with me because Kath and Brenden had to go out of town unexpectedly. We saw Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, this afternoon (he sat on my lap the entire time), sharing a Chicago-style hot dog as we watched it. For dinner I fixed Mahi Mahi, broccolini and spaghetti squash, but Xander eschewed those for a healthy dinner of pistachios ("peesh-eee-o's, Gramma!") and orange juice.

Sitting across from me in my kitchen, shelling pistachios, he grinned up at me and said, "You pretty, Gramma!" A little while later, Kath called from California. I left the room for a minute while Xander talked to her on the phone. Kath said he sounded sad, so she asked him, "Xander, are you sad?" He said, "Yeah, I sad!" Kath said, "Well, why are you sad? Do you miss someone?" Xander said, "Yeah, I miss someone!" Kath said, expectently, "Well, who do you miss?"

There was a pregnant pause, then Xander said: "I miss Gramma!" He then proceeded to yell, loudly, "GRAMMA! WHERE ARE YOU?"

Hehehehe...he can have all the pistachios and orange juice he wants...

There's something in the way he moves,
Or looks my way, or calls my name,
That seems to leave this troubled world behind.
And if I'm feeling down and blue,
Or troubled by some foolish game,
He always seems to make me change my mind.

And I feel fine anytime he's around me now,
He's around me now
Almost all the time
And if I'm well you can tell he's been with me now,
He's been with me now, quite a long, long time
And I feel fine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Arizona sunset

I snapped this sunset last Friday night in Tucson at about 7:30 in the evening, when I stepped outside the front door of the B&B where I was staying.

Arizona lizard

Just before you enter the museum, there's a lizard exhibit where I spotted (and snapped) this little guy, a common collared lizard, who was about a foot long. He's beautiful, and to be able to simply lean over the display and snap away...I loved that!

more Arizona pics...

Yesterday morning I went to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, which is a sort of museum/zoo/botanical garden all rolled into one. It's well worth the trip, and I would have loved to have spent more time there. One of my favorite exhibits was a walk-in aviary. While there, I managed to snap this pic of a Northern Flicker, and I thought of a poem by Paul Klee (at least I think it's by Paul Klee; I've been unable to find it, even on the net, so this is from memory, and if the words are not exactly accurate I apologize):

What care the birds

For the tree and its roots

All day long, contented,

They swing and sing

Perched on an ultimate end.

Monday, October 17, 2005

UA Parent's Weekend Report Card: A+

I'm baaaaacccckkk from Parents' Weekend. I'm happy to report that All is Well, and A Good Time Was Had by All, in spite of UA losing the football game to Stanford (20-16). My ex and I met Mike's friends, including his girlfriend, S (who's TERRIFIC) and Mike announced at lunch today, just before we left, that his friends found both of us "hilarious" (which is a good thing, I think).

Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot: Fall Foliage 2005.

I took this pic yesterday (Sunday) at the top of Mt. Lemon, just outside Tucson. For those of you who aren't into trees, this is an Aspen whose leaves have turned to cadmium yellow, as Aspens do each fall once the temps have dropped enough to slow the manufacture of chlorophyll, allowing the other pigments to show through. Gorgeous, huh?

Friday, October 14, 2005

UA Parents Weekend...

This morning my ex and I are flying to Tucson to visit Mike and attend Parents' Weekend at UA. I'm looking forward to seeing Mike and hearing how his classes are going. Mike has always been rather quiet and shy, and before he started college, he talked a lot about how he wanted to make the Dean's List, etc. He seemed to be approaching college as The Serious Student.

However, it appears his goals may have changed. In his infrequent phone calls home ("Mom, please send my..." (fill in the blank), or "Mom, please send me the recipe for..." - which always leaves me thinking, this sounds like the munchies, is he smoking pot?...anyway, in his infrequent phone calls home, he assures me that he's having a terrific time and is thoroughly enjoying himself in his freshman year at college. In his first couple of weeks in Tucson, he acquired a steady girlfriend (S, a math major, who sounds great and whom I'm looking forward to meeting), a lot of new friends, and a Longboard (a super long skateboard), on which he apparently zooms around campus (all 6'2" of him) between classes.

In a recent phone call ("Mom, when EXACTLY are you and Dad getting in, and when are you leaving?") in response to my asking how classes are going, he answered vaguely, "They're going OK!"

"What does OK mean? How's English? Tell me what kind of grades you're making. Be concrete!"

"Mom, it's not the end of the semester yet!"

"But surely you've had some exams, or done some papers. What about midterms?"

"Ummmmm, they don't really give midterms here..."

"Michael, I want to know right now how you're doing in your classes!"

"Mom, I'm doing OK...B's and C's..."

"What happened to the goal of making Dean's List?"

"Mom, I've come to realize that my friendships are as important to me as my classwork, and I'm trying to find balance between the two."

Ha! I give him an A+ in BS-101.

In addition to seeing how Mike is doing, I'm also looking forward to attending the college football game on Saturday (UA Wildcats vs. Stanford). I LOVE football...all those big guys moving across the field...that is TRUE poetry in motion insofar as I'm concerned. I was a huge Cowboys fan for several years, and one year when I was a cubscout leader, I rescheduled all the den meetings so I wouldn't miss any of the Cowboys' games. I know, I know, they had some rotten guys, but to watch The Triplets passing the ball down the field...and I had a terminal crush on quarterback Troy Aikman.

A couple of light years ago, I briefly dated a former professional football player. Jimmy had been a special teams guy for several years for various teams, including Da Bears, but when I dated him he'd retired from all that and sold cellphones, and coached kids' football camps for fun.

I usually go for brains and a sense of humor. Jimmy had neither, but he spent a lot of time at the gym, staying in shape, and he could bench press massive amounts of weight. He spoke very little, and when he did speak, it was in a monotone. His standard response to almost any question was: "Cuz," (pause), "I'm an ATH-leet."

"Jimmy, why do you drive this car?"

"Cuz..............I'm an ATH-leet."

"Jimmy, what do you mean you don't eat fish, why not?"

"Cuz.............I'm an ATH-leet."

"Jimmy, why are you 45 minutes late?!?!?!"

"Cuz.............I'm an ATH-leet."

Come to think of it, I don't even know if he could read, but that was irrelevant, because we didn't exactly spend our time together discussing literature.

Of course, the relationship couldn't last. I ended it when I realized that as much as I liked having my own private arm candy, (or, in this case, The Big Rock Candy Mountain) the real turn on for me, even over a guy who can throw the ball, will always be the guy who can tell me that the actual term for the shape of a football is prolate spheroid...even if that guy is a little dweeby. Now, if I encountered such a guy, AND he looked great, AND he was athletic...


A girl can dream.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

October's Bright Blue Weather

NOTE: I wish I'd taken this pic but I didn't; it's a stock pic that I downloaded from Google Images.

Here in Dallas the weather's finally turned, and we've had a brief taste of crisper days to come. Although we'll have quite a few warm days yet, fall's in the air, and it feels good. I’ve been grilling my dinner this past week. Soon it’ll be cool enough to be able to sit outside in the evenings with a glass of wine, enjoying the sweet scent of pinyon wafting from fireplaces and chiminayas throughout the neighborhood while watching the night sky go dark as the first stars appear. But cooler temperatures won't produce the glorious colors that covered the bluffs along the Mississippi for as far as the eye could see each October when I was a kid in Minnesota.

Trees here have to be hardy to withstand the heat of summer. There’s a preponderance of live oaks, sweet gums, and Australian pines in my neighborhood. All of these are beautiful trees, especially the live oaks, some of which have grown big enough that their branches are beginning to meet and form a canopy over the street in front of my house. Nevertheless, they never reward us with a show of color when temperatures start to drop, and I find myself missing the yellows and reds and oranges of the north. There’s a state park called Lost Maples, down in the Hill Country, where one can reportedly see some fall color in the trees, and if I get a chance, I'd like to drive down there this year and check it out.

Although the trees may lack color, the skies of October are amazing: an infinite, clear blue. When I tilt my head back to look up at October skies, and feel the sun on my face and see that bright blue color, I always think of my father. He was an extremely difficult parent, very hard to live with for all of us, and especially for my mother, but he loved the outdoors, and he taught me to love it too. Almost all the happy memories I have of him are of times when the two of us were outside together. We could have sun or wind or rain in our faces, it didn’t matter; he’d be teaching me what to look for as we walked along: "This is the bark of an elm tree, see how it’s different from the bark of the maple, and look at the shape of the leaves: totally different!" He had very little formal education; my mom used to say he’d completed 8th grade, but in fact he probably left school by 3rd or 4th grade. Nevertheless, he was the first person to teach me the concept of fractals, although he didn’t use that term; he just pointed out that with certain trees, their overall outline seemed to simply be a bigger replica of the shape of their leaves.

When he was very old, near the end of his long life, he turned to me with rheumy eyes on a brilliant blue October day, and said, "You know, when I was in school, my teacher read us a poem about October...I don’t remember it anymore...except for one line: October’s bright blue weather...that’s such a good description, isn’t it? I wish I could remember the rest of it."

I looked it up in Bartlett’s. It had to have been close to 80 years since his teacher had read that poem aloud to his class, but he was right about the line; the poem is called October’s Bright Blue Weather, and it was written in 1885 by Helen Hunt Jackson. I tried to picture him at age 8 or 9: a slight, shy, tow-headed, blue-eyed boy, just learning English, sitting in a one room schoolhouse with an assortment of classmates, listening to his teacher read that poem, and the one line making such a strong impression on him that he'd remember it for the rest of his life.

I wrote it out for him, so that he might have the pleasure again at the end of his life that he'd had at the beginning, on hearing the words of the poem that had made such an impression on him when he was just a boy. Here's the poem:

October's Bright Blue Weather

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boaststogether,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Snack-tacular part 2

Picture from Hometown
24 years earlier, chocolate ice cream was Xander's mother's favorite snack, too, as evidenced by this photo of Kath, circa 1981.


Picture from Hometown

Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot: Have a favorite snack? Show it!

OK, here's Xander eating some of his and my all-time favorite snack: Anthony's homemade triple chocolate ice cream...yummmmmmmmmmm!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Patrick's Sunday Seven


Name seven books (title and author, please) on your bookshelf that you couldn't resist buying...but that you haven't read yet!

Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, by Studs Terkel - I'm a long time Studs Terkel fan going back to when I lived in Chicago and listened daily to WFMT, so when I came across this book of his at B&N, I couldn't resist.

Naked by David Sedaris - I first learned of David Sedaris on NPR, where I heard an interview with him one cold afternoon as I was driving around running errands. I ended up sitting in my car and listening to the complete interview, shortly after which I went out and bought several of his books. He's FUNNY.

Factotum by Charles Bukowski - I heard a passing reference to Bukowski in a short film based on Chekhov's play, The Grasshopper that was set in modern times and incorporated 9/11. Curious, I set out to find out more about Bukowski, and became totally hooked reading Women, and then, The Post Office. His poetry is even better than his prose, and that's saying something.

Generation Kill by Evan Wright - I'm fascinated by books on war; I read and loved and highly recommend Jar Head (soon to be a major motion picture) and so of course I've picked up Generation Kill.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - I've come across a number of references to Zora Neale Hurston, always saying what a great (and unappreciated) writer she was, and so I picked up this book by her.

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama - I haven't felt as hopeful about a politician as I do about Barack Obama in a long, long of course I want to read this book.

Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis - when I was young (and callow) history bored me...or so I thought. Now that I'm old, I find it fascinating...and there's so much I don't know! So I really enjoy a book like this.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Night at The Symphony

I didn't make it to the nail salon today. I was on my way there when I got a phone call from my daughter, Katharine (coincidentally my symphony date this evening). Originally, I'd planned to pick her up at her house in Richardson so we could drive to the concert together, in one car, but she called just before 6:00 to tell me she was still at work, ergo still downtown, and wondered if we could we just meet at the symphony. She sounded tired and said she'd been so busy she hadn't eaten all day, so I suggested we both drive immediately to the Meyerson for an early dinner before the symphony. I didn't have to twist her arm.

By 7:00 we were seated at one of the many small tables covered with crisp white tablecloths in the vast lobby of the Meyerson. Katharine ordered a glass of chardonnay and I ordered one of merlot, and then we walked through the buffet line, where we helped ourselves to a couple of kinds of pasta, salad, and bread, with dessert and coffee to follow. I couldn't help but think that this was a very civilized way to begin an evening at the symphony.

The program tonight was Shostakovich's 9th Symphony and Copeland's Clarinet Concerto (performed by Gregory Raden), followed by Schuman's 2nd Symphony. Katharine attended high school just down the street from the Meyerson , at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas. Booker T is as close to the old tv show, Fame, as any high school is ever going to get. A lot of very talented kids have gone there; Nora Jones was one of Katharine's classmates. Admission to Booker T is by audition, but many who try don't make it; Katharine was successful, and her instrument was clarinet, so she had a special interest in tonight's concert.

I don't subscribe to the DSO. I bought these tickets on a whim, at the last minute, and I wasn't sure where our seats were located, but I really lucked out: our seats were front center orchestra. Wellllllllll...not RIGHT in front, but who wants to be right in front? I'm not going to be specific about where we sat, because if I did, names might have to be changed to protect the innocent, or we might be killed, etc. Suffice it to say we were close enough to see the stage well...REALLY well.

And so the concert began. The Shostakovich was wonderful,and the Copeland was incredible, a terrific performance by a virtuoso clarinetist. At intermission we went to the lobby; we discussed the music and people watched and talked home repairs, a favorite topic for both of us these days.

After intermission, as we got settled in our seats to enjoy the Schuman, I realized that in these seats, my eyes appeared to be at the crotch height of all of the musicians. I don't know why I didn't notice this rather interesting phenomenon during the first half of the concert, but I didn't (maybe that glass of merlot was a little more effective than I thought it was...whatever)...but suddenly, after was as if my old eyes had just figured out how to focus, and, without thinking about it, I scanned what I could see on the stage...nothing very interesting, (nothing I hadn't seen before) until...***GLEEP***WTF?

The musicians were still tuning their instruments. I nudged Kath. "Check it out...the lap of the guy to the (I'm not even going to say Right or Left here) of Andrew Litton..." (for all you non-Texans, Andrew Litton is the conductor of the DSO). Kath gave me a rather wilting look, that said, without her actually saying it, "MUH-THUR!", but she looked...I watched her eyes scanning...and then, just as the lights went low and the music started, she saw what I'd seen...and I saw her eyes go wide...and then we both began to try to not laugh (especially because we both have a tendency to snort when we really get laughing)...

WHAT WE SAW: How shall I put this delicately? Ummmmmmmmm...there was a the lap of one of the musicians. I mean, it was...HUGE. And this guy just looked like...well...just an ordinary guy. Not even ordinary...a little on the dweeby side. And he was of an age...well, let's just say, if he and I were having a conversation, he'd get my context. By which I mean, if I said, "So where were you when Kennedy was shot?" he wouldn't blurt out, "Good God! Ted Kennedy's been SHOT?" Nevertheless, in spite of his dweebiness, in spite of his age, there it was...this...tent...with apparently an active three-ring circus beneath marked contrast to all the other male musicians around him. I tried not to stare but I couldn't help myself.

At one point I thought it must be a fanny pack, and that he must have something in it; like a big kerchief in case he perspired or something.

But then it appeared to move.

On it's own.

I've never seen a kerchief in a fanny pack do that.

I didn't stare throughout all 4 movements of the Schuman; I SWEAR I didn't (and if Kath says otherwise, she's lying). But I admit I stared intermittently during all 4 movements, expecting to see the tent...deflate. But it didn't happen. Anxiously, I awaited the end of the concert. I applauded impatiently, waiting for that magic moment, when all the musicians stand...and it happened, as it must; eventually they all stood, and when they did, I admit my eyes were glued to the tent which just...disappeared.

Standing, he looked like every other male musician on the stage. Welllllll...perhaps his trousers were a little more...pleated? front...but maybe not. Kath thinks it was just cheap fabric, tenting in his lap as cheap fabric will sometimes do.

Maybe she's right.

I don't know.

I just wish I knew the size of his feet.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

maintenance and manicures

I've spent the day finishing up the work on the upstairs baseboards. The rooms are looking good, but my hands are a mess. I hate wearing gloves, and as a result, I have paint in places I don't want to think about, including between my fingers and under my nails, and this after scrubbing so well and so long I could probably have done surgery.

I'm going to the symphony tomorrow night and Sunday afternoon, and to look presentable I’m going to need a manicure and pedicure. Every time I go for a manicure, I feel as if I’m back in high school and I’ve been called out of class to the principal’s office. I know I haven’t actually done anything wrong, but I also know that I’m going to end up feeling as if I have. Whether the manicurist is male or female, young or old, it’s always the same: they take one look at my hands and nails, tsk tsk loudly, and ask, "What is it you do for a living again?"

They never seem to understand that I prefer my own nails, and I prefer them short and unpolished most of the time. Nevertheless, short nails or not, I’m not above having them painted a glorious Kickass Red when I’m in the mood, and when I’m going to the symphony, I’m in the mood. I always go to the same place for my manicures and pedicures, and the regulars know not to try to talk me into Power Nails (acrylics) or their idea of a good color. I have very definite ideas of my own on what constitutes a good color, and as I’m paying, I get to choose, and as for Power Nails...forget it. I tried those once, years ago, when I was going to some very dressy event. I managed to dislodge one within the first couple of hours (I think I was opening a jar and slipped), which meant a trip back to the shop to have it redone, and then...those frigging long nails got in the way of everything I do. I couldn’t get them off fast enough, and getting them off was no picnic...I vowed never again, and I’ve kept that promise.

I’m a low maintenance woman. Most of the time, I do my own manicures and pedicures and even cut my own hair, although a couple of times a year I do have my hair cut professionally. I’ve been going to the same guy for haircuts for several years, and his reaction on seeing me is similar to that of the manicurists.

Tuan always welcomes me warmly, no matter how long it’s been since I’ve been in. I suspect the warmth with which he greets me has more to do with the fact that I tip well than with any actual desire on his part to see me. Nevertheless, he always gives me a big hug, and exclaims enthusiastically: "Zhoodie! Long time, no see! Welcome back!" He then takes my hand and leads me to a chair in front of a huge mirror, with lighting that makes me look about 15 years older than I am (at least, I HOPE that’s what’s happening in that mirror). I sit down in the chair and he moves behind me and begins to run his hands through my hair. Slowly picking up long strands of my hair from each side of my head, he looks at the strands noncommitally, and then, making eye contact in the mirror, says, in a sad voice, "Zhoodie, you do not geev me much to work weeth!"

What can I say? Tuan is right.

Tomorrow the manicurists have their work cut out for them.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

odds 'n ends

Picture from Hometown

For the past few days I've been doing some simple carpentry upstairs in my house. Specifically, I've been installing baseboards, which requires the use of a miterbox (to cut the corner angles, if you're not into carpentry). I value my fingers (they come in handy when I want to write, among other things) and anyway, making mitered corners is just an occasional activity for me, so I use a miter box with a manual saw rather than one with a power saw. I've been fastening the baseboards to the walls with both Liquid Nails and nails into the studs to give a nice, tight finish, and then I countersink the nails, fill in the holes with wood putty, caulk the gaps, do a final sanding, and put a topcoat on the baseboards, which are already primed. The work is looking good, if I do say so myself...this is one of those times when it pays to be a perfectionist. I like working with my hands, whether I'm writing or doing carpentry or kneading bread dough. I like the physical aspects of simple carpentry; the feel of the wood and the scent of freshly cut pine and even the sound of the saw. There's work to be done outside my house...I need to repair my lawn sprinkler in a couple of places, including splicing a couple of wires back together which requires the use of shrink tubing...I love shrink tubing...and the flower beds need to be cut back and readied for winter, but it's close to a hundred degrees outside, so those things will have to wait until the weather breaks...

In the meantime, as I finish up the baseboards, I'm considering tackling crown molding, which by all accounts is very difficult to do well, but it really dresses up a room, and I like a challenge, sooooooo...I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

happy Sunday

Picture from Hometown

Menopause is a bitch. My entire life I've weighed around a hundred pounds, until, if I even THINK of chocolate, it seems I gain weight, and as I'm just 5'3", a few pounds go a loooooooonnnggg I'm back on the Southbeach diet, which works, and works relatively painlessly.

With that in mind, this afternoon I was driving to Central Market to pick up ingredients for a healthy dinner sans chocolate (but I'm not giving up red wine) when suddenly Katharine (my second-born) appeared beside me in the store. Have I mentioned that I love that she and Brenden moved back here from California a little over a year ago? First we went to Starbuck's and had coffee; then we sat for an hour or more outside Central Market and talked, just for the pleasure of having each other's company. She mentioned that they have disconnected the tv because Alexander (my grandson, who's just turned 3) wants to watch too much tv, and, that being the case (the television disconnected), Brenden, my son-in-law, was going to a friend's house tonight to watch a football game. "Well then, come to dinner at my house, you and Alexander!" I said, and so they did.

I fixed grilled pork chops, spaghetti squash, green beans, and a tomato salad with mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil...and Kath and I polished off one and a half bottles of red wine, and talked for hours...and Alexander had two fudgsicles for desert. He also played with legos, and we spent some time drawing, and then the three of us watched Bambi together from my mile-high four-poster bed.

It was a terrific Sunday night, and I am so glad that they live close enough and that we enjoy each other's company enough that we are able to spontaneously do this.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Patrick's Saturday Six #77

1. How many AOL J-landers have you actually met in person? Just 1 so far; Mrs. L, who dated my ex before I ever met him. We finally met in the late 80's or early 90's, I think, when Mrs. L came to Dallas for a business trip. I was a little trepidatious about meeting her because for years I'd heard, from both my ex and his younger brother, as well as from a mutual friend, Ked (of the Tapas Bar) how funny, beautiful, smart, talented, etc., Mrs. L was (and IS). I needn't have worried, though; in addition to all those adjectives (which are accurate) she has genuine warmth, and I liked her immediately and yep, I feel lucky to have her as a friend.

2. How many photos that you have taken yourself are hanging on display in your home in a size of 8x10 or larger? (The print, not the frame!) SIX - including the one above, that I took in Chicago in 1982. I used to keep a roll of seamless paper hanging from the ceiling in my dining room, and I pulled that down one rainy afternoon and got the above shot of Alex and Katharine, then ages 6 and 3.

3. How far do you live from your job? What is your commute time like? Has the distance prompted you to consider alternative transportation because of gas prices?
I'm currently unemployed, but my son, Christopher, has begun taking public transportation in Dallas because of the high price of gas.

4. Take this Quiz:
What decade does your personality live in?
Aaaarrrggghhh, I'm not cool; I live in the 70's!

Kris: What is the funniest, most original Halloween costume you've ever seen? I’ll have to think about that, butin the meantime...a few years ago I came into work one Friday and noticed that one of my co-workers, who often wore outfits that were right on the edge, seemed to be dressed as a streetwalker. I thought she’d finally, totally lost it, and I couldn’t believe no one had said anything to her. I was having a little private laugh at her expense until I realized the laugh was on me: it was Halloween!

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #71 from Courtenay: What is your favorite paragraph in a literary work? This might be a thought, or a message, or a descriptive passage which has remained in your consciousness throughout the years. Be sure to post the name of the book and author. One of my absolute favorites is from a poem by W.H. Auden, called Lullaby:

Lay your sleeping head, my love,

Human on my faithless arm

Time and fevers burn away

Individual beauty from

Thoughtful children, and the grave

Proves the child ephemeral

But in my arms till break of day

Let the living creature lie,

Mortal, guilty, but to me

The entirely beautiful.