Friday, October 31, 2008
Halloween is my favorite holiday, I think it is the best holiday of the year! I like the decorations in particular. This Halloween, however, I haven't seen nearly as many Halloween related decorations as in previous years. Let's fix that. Show me all things Halloween! Costumes. Decorations. A photograph of spooky movie posters hanging on a wall. Bowls of candy. Pumpkins. Foggy deserted roads. Plastic spiders. A bubbling cauldron. October 31st circled on a calendar. A fake ghost. A REAL GHOST! A witch and her broomstick. A black cat crossing your path. Anything that says Halloween to you!
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I agree with Carly, I love Halloween!
When I was a little kid and didn't get what I wanted, I always consoled myself by telling myself that when I was a grown up, things would be different, e.g., "I'll let my kids have as many pets as they want, including a monkey," or "Halloween will be a big holiday at my house, and I'll help my kids with whatever costumes they want...", yada yada yada.
I confess I didn't follow through on the plan to run a menagerie for endless animals (unless you count my post-divorce dating life for a while there), but I was always pretty good about Halloween, and offer as evidence the fact that in my house, I have a Costume Closet, with racks of costumes that I sewed for my four kids over the years, from the Vogue pattern, with lining and interlining (what was I thinking?) for ET that I made for Alex in the early 80's to the magician's cape, black satin with red satin lining, that I sewed for Chris in the early 90's, with countless costumes in between. I didn't limit my kids to Halloween for wearing costumes, though. Both my girls regularly pulled tutus over their courdroy's when they were little, and Mike wore Indian headbands and Chris slept in his skeleton Halloween sweats for an entire year, I think.
Most years when the kids were little, we had a Halloween party, complete with a mummy wrap on the front lawn as the grand finale at the end. In case you don't know, this involves a case of cheap toilet paper and at least one adult willing to be wrapped...
But my kids are grown and there aren't as many little kids on the block anymore, with the result that there are no longer so many houses with wonderful, elaborate decorations. This includes my own house.
As always, I've hung up Igor (a vampire who howls and whose eyes light when you clap your hands) from the hook above the bannister in the front hall, and I'll pass out candy tonight from the interactive candy bowl pictured above, that wiggles its fingers and chuckles "Happy Halloween" when the kids reach in, but other than that, there are no other Halloween decorations at my house this year. I'm working from home today, because I wanted to be sure that I'm here on time to pass out candy to the youngest kids, who come by, shyly, for the most part, with their parents when it's still daylight, 4:30 or 5:00.
When my kids were little, somehow I thought that the magic excitement of Halloween was an endless effervescence that I could count on each year, but it turns out that like childhood itself, the magic excitement is all too ephemeral. Of course, it's out there, in whole new generations of trick or treaters, including my grandson, Xander, and yet that's not the same as when you're the mom, planning these things with your very own kiddoes...
Ah well, c'est la vie...Happy Halloween everyone!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I was going to play Patrick's Sunday meme, but when I looked at it...List the seven varieties of Hamburger, Tuna or Chicken Helper that are the most appealing...I realized I absolutely could not do it. I NEVER buy hamburger, tuna or chicken helper. Never. The only time in my life that I resorted to those...mixes...was in the late 70's when we'd gutted our kitchen in Chicago and for 3 months I had to prepare dinner for 4 in an electric frying pan or on a hotplate, and I had the pleasure of washing the dishes in the tub...YUCK. We ate like Henry VIII for months after that, because the new kitchen included double ovens, one of which came equipped with a spit...a wonderful thing to have...and I fell into the habit of buying various roasts, but especially pork roasts, that I cooked slowly and lovingly on that spit, and served with julienned, buttered, steamed rutabaga on the side, a la James Beard (don't knock it unless you've tried it...rutabaga is a delicious winter vegetable), with cranberry sauce and a tossed salad and loaves of homemade French bread, a la Julia Child...flour, water, salt, yeast, no sugar, no shortening. These days, cooking for myself, admittedly I'm not preparing meat on a spit, and I have lots of quick and easy things that I make myself for dinner, e.g., black bean burritos topped with extra sharp cheddar, sour cream, and jalapeno jelly, for example. But sometimes, when the weather is turning, I get in the mood for one of the dishes I used to prepare when I was first learning to cook...and if it's more work than I'd usually be inclined to go to for just myself, I go ahead and make it anyway, because I don't usually mind eating it for several nights.
Tonight was such a night. I spent part of this afternoon potting pansies and dianthus and cyclamen for the winter, and tonight I decided it's been entirely too long since I've made and devoured a beef carbonade. So I went to the supermarket and picked up the ingredients, including a 24 ounce bottle of Heineken's, and even as I type the house smells WONDERFUL as this stew cooks slowly in my kitchen. This stew is really good served over brown rice, and the better the carrots, in terms of flavor, the better the end result.
You can see that Ike, the stray who found me the weekend of Hurricane Ike, and who's staying with me until I can find a home for him, is chillin' on the couch, no doubt thinking if he minds his manners, there's some beef carbonnade for him too.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
If you want to play, click here.
1. When was the last time you donated money to a charity, and which cause was it? Last week I made a donation to ALS, which is looking to find a cure for that disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. I did this in honor of my friend, Tammy, who has lived with ALS for 18 years.
2. Think of the last time you were specifically asked for a handout from someone who approached you on the street: did you give him or her anything? It's been a lllllllooooooooonnnnnnnngggggggg time since I was approached by anyone on the street, but yeah, it was a kid, maybe twenty-something, and it was cold, and I gave him some money, not much, maybe a dollar or two.
3. What led to that decision? The cold weather and the fact that I could relate to him...he was about the age of my sons and their friends.
4. Take the quiz: How Good Are You?
You Are 84% Good
You are not only a good person... you are a model citizen and a natural leader.
Whether you know it or not, your high moral standards and good judgment is truly rare. You don't take ethical short cuts in life. You are able to do what's right - even when it's very difficult. And while it may seem like no one else is as on track as you are, take heart in knowing that you set a good example for others. You are also probably: Very sensitive and in tune with the world. Right now you are on track to being: A saint Whoa, I'm no saint, not by a long shot!
To be a better person: Gently mentor someone who is taking the wrong path in life
5. Which kind of charity/organization of the following list are you least likely to donate money to: a church, a people-oriented charity, a children-oriented charity, an animal-oriented charity, a college, or a food bank? A church.
6. If you could permanently block a single, specific charity from ever contacting you again, which would you block and why? I can't imagine blocking any charity from contacting me.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Yesterday I did two things I've never done before. In the afternoon, I bit the bullet, dragged myself out of bed, went to our local library, and voted early. There was a good turnout. At 2:30 the line was long, over half an hour's wait. When I got to the booth, the voting was electronic, with nothing to show for it (no paper ballot), which didn't give me any warm fuzzy feeling about what I was doing and in fact made me a little nervous. I've watched that Homer Simpson video too many times to be happy about electronic voting.
Then last night, late, I made two political contributions online. I don't believe I've ever contributed to a political campaign before. I have no problem contributing to the arts, or to any number of good causes, e.g., Juvenile Diabetes, ALS, Susan G. Komen foundation, etc. But when it comes to politics, I’ve donated time but not cash, not even a dollar on my income tax return. I've never felt a reason to contribute financially, before now. And although I'm weary to the bone of this seemingly interminable campaign season, it was a politician who finally made me see the light, as we like to say in the south.
So who's responsible for my seeing that it makes sense, for me, to contribute some cold, hard earned cash to the cache, so to speak? The answer might surprise you. The person who prompted me to finally take action financially is
I wasn't alone in having this reaction to Bachman, btw. It turns out that her comments brought in $810,000 to Tinklenberg's campaign in less than 72 hours, in contrast to the year it had taken him to raise $1 million prior to that. And I smile to think, I doubt that was the reaction Michelle was anticipating when she spoke to Chris Matthews. And if things don't turn out as I hope they do in November, and if the time comes when people start drawing up lists of who did what, who contributed to whom...well, I'd be proud to show up as having made those donations.
Monday, October 20, 2008
EMPS #8: Reflections.
We have a simple subject this week folks... Reflections. Grab your cameras, and show me a reflection of some sort. It could be in water, or in glass, or in any reflective surface. You might come up with something spooky, or something beautiful, even of someone deep in thought! Get it? Think about it! Be creative. Be daring. Be Reflective! Extra Credit: Show me a REFLECTION of, well, you! :)
Ok, I'm still home sick, and I had some nice pics I'd taken in the rain, down at the creek that runs through my neighborhood, a couple of years ago, and I was going to use one of those, of trees and water...but then I thought, shoot, I've been a total slug with this flu, it'd be fun to try my hand at this, so I decided I'd try shooting my own reflection. It was much more of a challenge than I'd anticipated!
I pulled on a simple sweater over my pajama bottoms and put on a pearl necklace and earrings. The dark glasses hide the fact that I look like something the cat dragged in. I then tried shooting myself in the rear view mirror of my car as well as in the side view mirror of my car. Very difficult to do! I tried that first in the garage but was horrified with the results - those pics were nothing more than an excellent reminder that I need to throw a lot of things away and SOON...then I tried shooting under the streetlight in front of my house...didn't work...I ended up in the well lit Albertson's parking lot, where at least one employee finishing a shift appeared to be rather intrigued by what I was doing. All that flash, I guess. Not so intrigued that he walked over to the car, thank goodness. I wouldn't want to be talking to anyone in my pearls and pajama bottoms. After downloading everything and deleting most of it, this was my favorite shot. I took this standing inside my bathroom, bracing my camera on my head, no flash, shooting directly into a mirror. Interesting idea, Carly! And I really enjoyed the challenge of it.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008
I got a flu shot last week and coincidentally, this weekend, I got really, really sick: chills, fever, horrendous, wracking cough that makes my head ache like crazy each time I think that breathing in might be a good idea. Yuck. Suffice it to say, I'm miserable.
Still, there are rays of sunshine even when one is sick. Yesterday morning Kath called and said she'd like to stop by and pick up her tent, because she and Xander were off for a cub scout camping trip. I got up, grabbed my camera, and Xander obliged me by posing in my living room in his uniform. Is he one handsome cub scout, or what? And his eyes are so very blue...
Monday, October 13, 2008
One of the first things I saw was this light...actually, there were two of them...and they were HUGE, close to 5 feet tall, I think, at the front of a very ugly municipal building. I didn't like the building but I loved the lights.
Just down the street from the lights, I came across this beautiful memorial to Lamar County WWI soldiers killed in battle...
Walking down the street, I eventually came upon this alley and staircase. Although I love the country and wild places, in many ways I am also a city girl at heart, and that part of me loves alleys and staircases. This one has it all...red bricks, ivy, a wonderful metal staircase, and to give the gritty urban aspect authenticity...a bunch of ugly, discarded AC units. Ah, well...
Moving right along, I looked up and saw this neat red window:
I love the way it looks in the red wall, which the ivy is climbing with great determination...
Just down from the red window, I came upon a working FORGE. Here's the neat sign, advertising it....
And here are the ever-so-cool forge DOORS! Aren't they great? I could smell hot iron and hear someone banging away at something inside. I'd have loved to have seen what the person was working on, but didn't want to interrupt their work...so I moved on...
To the Paris/Lamar County Courthouse:
Here are two details from the pink granite trim on that building. I find the gargoyle quite hideous, but I guess that's the point...
Just down the street, I loved the architectural detail, both stonework and window trim, on this building, and I loved the colorful reminder from the ivy that fall is on the way...
There were more gargoyles on other buildings downtown...and I have to say, I liked these better than the ones on the courthouse...
In the center of town there's a square with a fountain and several of these lovely benches....
Here's a close up of some of the detail in the cement work on the town square...
And here's one of the lamps in the town square...
This was a good little sidetrip on my way home from Arkansas.
The theme of Carly's Monday Photo Shoot this week is Furniture:
Ahhh... is there anything better after a long, difficult day then to come home and sink into a favorite couch or chair? It's one of the best comforts ever! So, for this week, lets pay tribute to the comfy, well worn, furniture in our lives! If you'd like to join in the fun, click here.
OK, I admit this is not my favorite chair, which in my case happens to be a chaise, but...having been on a road trip this weekend where I slept badly on a hideaway couch left me longing for my very own 4 poster honey pine bed, fabulously comfortable with a firm, king sized mattress about a mile off the floor, soft down pillows, linen sheets (ancient and patched and wonderfully soft) and at this time of year, because the nights are getting cooler, a washable habutai silk and velvet channel stitched comforter...all of which are pictured above. My bedroom is truly my retreat. There's no TV in there, but there are books...and it is one of the best comforts ever to climb up onto my bed and curl up with a book.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Patrick's Saturday Six is all about the movies this week. If you want to play, click here.
1. What’s the last movie you watched in the theater? Appaloosa
2. How much is absolutely too much to pay for seeing a movie in a theater at night? $15.00
3. Other than popcorn and a drink, what concession item are you most likely to buy in a movie theater? Non-pareils.
4. Take the quiz: In What Genre Should You Be A Movie Star?
You're the girl who (unlike in real life) ends up with the sweet, caring, gentle man at the end. And when that's over, you move on to the next film and get to experience it all again!
Downside: When that's over, the perfect man/woman goes back to their trailor, drinks, fights with their actual spouse and pretty much leaves you in the dust. Oh, and you never get any "action". That's a different genre...
6. Would you have paid to watch this film in a movie theater when it originally came out? Absolutely.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
On Monday I saw that the DSO was performing one of my favorite pieces of music this week, Sibelius' Violin Concerto. I called and ordered a ticket in the nosebleed section of The Meyerson. All week long, I happily anticipated hearing this concert tonight. Then this morning as I was driving to work, listening to a CD of Itzakh Perlman playing the Sibelius with the London Symphony in preparation for hearing it live tonight, my cellphone rang. It was the ticket office at the DSO.
"You ordered a ticket for the concert tonight," a young woman said.
"Well, we'd like to upgrade your seat. Is it OK if we move you to the orchestra section?"
WOO HOO! Of course it was OK! It was MORE than OK! It reminded me of the time years ago, when I was relatively broke, that I won a hundred dollar gift certificate to a really neat (now defunct) bookstore, Taylor's, on Beltline in Addison. This was an unexpected bonus, just as that had been. In terms of sound, there are almost no bad seats in the Meyerson, but that said, some seats are always better than others, and tonight I ended up in a great seat, where the sound was terrific: Section C, Row L, Seat 6, to be exact.
The orchestra started off with a 4 minute piece by Stravinsky: Scherzo a la Russe, and that was followed by the Sibelius. The orchestra and soloist Karen Gomyo, led by guest conductor Vasily Petrenko, played it beautifully. I absolutely love this concerto. It is such an incredibly beautiful piece of music, and to hear it live...it doesn't get much better than that. I was so happy, I had a glass of champagne at intermission. I love champagne.
After intermission, the final piece was a tone poem by Strauss: Ein Heldenleben. It's not what I would have chosen to follow the Sibelius. It had it's moments, but I thought it was overly long, sort of like eating an entire sacher torte: "Do you like sacher torte? Have some. Have some more. And more. And more."
Still, there is nothing like live music. And it's nice to know my parking karma apparently works at the symphony sometimes, too.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Congratulations on your first grandchild, Pam! To quote Dr. Seuss, "Oh, the places you'll go..."
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
The idea here is to find a fence, hopefully a photogenic one, and share with your photography not just the fence, but what's behind the fence as well.
OK, in accordance with my intent to post more, I'm participating in Ellipsis' Monday Photo Shoot. As noted above, the theme this week is fences. I took this photo of a fence, showing the stairs and brownstone behind it, in December 2006, in Chicago, on the Near North Side. If you want to do the photo shoot yourself, click here.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, A and I started going to the movies together on Sunday afternoons. We're both big movie buffs, and this way we get to see things we've been wanting to see on the big screen, rather than waiting for them to come out on video. If I wait for a movie to come out on video, often I end up not seeing it at all. This is because each time I venture into my local Blockbuster's, I'm confronted with too many choices and end up feeling overwhelmed (in a bad way) and totally unable to remember what I was looking for in the first place. I need to do NetFlix, I know, but I haven't gotten around to it.
Which brings me to my point: that I'm now making a conscious effort to see more movies on the big screen, which I find pleasantly overwhelming. In the past month, I've seen and can recommend: Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne), Transsiberian, and Elegy, all of which I've discussed briefly in previous posts. This afternoon, I saw a western, Appaloosa. The movie is based on the book of the same name written by Robert B. Parker. I associate Parker's name with mysteries (the Spenser series) but it turns out that Parker, like Elmore Leonard, writes westerns too, and this is one of them. The movie was directed by Ed Harris, who co-wrote the screenplay (which is not great but is definitely OK) with Robert Knott. The movie stars Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons (*sigh* - I love Viggo and Jeremy) and Renee Zellwegger.
It opens with a confrontation between rancher Jeremy Irons and the sheriff and two deputies who have ridden to his ranch to arrest two of Irons’ men accused of rape and murder. Rather than surrender the two men, Irons casually shoots the sheriff and both deputies. Harris and Mortensen are then seen riding into town, two gunslingers hired by the town elders to restore law and order to Appaloosa. They’re interesting, likeable gunslingers: thoughtful, taciturn, ethical men. Harris reads Emerson, and counts on Mortensen to be his vocabularian. The weak point in this movie is Renee Zellwegger, as the love interest of Harris, who threatens the friendship between Harris and Mortensen. I've liked Zellwegger in other films she's done, but in this film she simpers and pouts and flirts with all of the finesse with which Sarah Palin debates. I didn’t see the attraction, and found her performance and character distracting. I don't know whom I would have cast in her place, except maybe the late Joan Hackett, who was wonderful in Will Penny, a couple of light years ago. Luckily, the other performances are so good that they carry the movie. In spite of Zellwegger's character and performance, I really liked this movie. It’s a thoughtful, introspective western, beautifully done and definitely worth seeing.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
So I’m migrating my files from AOL, a tedious, monumental task if one also chooses to migrate the comments, which I do…and I was only on AOL for a few months. Those who’ve been on there for years have my sympathies. If you don’t know what I’m talking about…the posts must be copied and moved ONE at a TIME…and the same holds true for the comments. Well, that’s not true, you can copy all of the comments and paste them in a block, but Virgo that I am, that offends my sense of orderliness…and if I post them one at a time, there’s the added advantage that I can post them in chronological order, rather than reverse chronological order. Yes, I’m a Virgo through and through.
Anyway, in doing this, I’ve made some observations. First, I wrote a lot more on AOL. Of course, I wasn’t gainfully employed at that time. Work and the commute have really cut into my writing time…and I’m so disgusted with both at the moment that I’ve been spending a fair amount of time trying to figure out what else I could do. There is a sort of craziness in the life I’m living right now. I’m not cut out for corporate
I think about it. In my head I hear Yeats:
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
I’d miss the symphony. There is nothing like live music. I know I’m spoiled…plus, I admit I like putting on a little black dress and pearl earrings and Chanel 22, and sitting in Bass Hall or the Meyerson and getting lost in the music…but on the other hand, to get up in the morning and see beauty all around me…to watch the rhythms of the seasons, and to find my own part in all of that, that I once felt but haven’t felt in years…to make that connection again…I’ve been missing that for a long time, and especially as I approach the autumn of my own years, I miss that sense of connection. Well, we’ll see…
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
And as the days turn incredibly beautiful, the weather more temperate, I think again that I need to figure out something else that I can do. I spend entirely too much time in my car...
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Comedians have always held a higher place in my world than the masters of the universe could ever hope to achieve.