Monday, August 31, 2009

me in one of my favorite places in the world...

at the Harvard COOP. Ah, heaven!

Although I admit to feeling a little like Wilson, Tim the Toolman's neighbor, in this pic.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

home again...

I'm back in Dallas, where I've fed and petted Ike, unpacked, and done some laundry. It's always good to get back home, but this was a terrific break.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"When a man is tired of London...

...he is tired of life."

I love that quote, from Samuel Johnson, and insofar as I'm concerned, it applies to Boston too. How could anyone not fall in love with this city? It's physically beautiful, and intellectually bustling. The Liberty is the ideal place to stay: within walking distance of The Quincy Market (aka the Fanueil Market), and across the street from the subway, which will take you to Harvard Square in three stops. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny fall day, with temperatures in the high 60's. After checking in, we walked to The Quincy Market, where we had lunch at Durgin Park, seated outside so we could people watch. Lunch was delicious: slices of gritty, good cornbread to start, followed by clam chowder, a tossed salad, fish cakes to die for, Boston baked beans, glasses of cold Samuel Adams ale and for dessert, Indian pudding with ice cream. It doesn't get any better than that.

We had drinks and dinner with the family in Back Bay last night; we were going to take a taxi but it turns out the Liberty provides a town car between 6 & 8 PM, we availed ourselves of that (very posh!). We had a great time catching up with family, most of whom I hadn't seen in years. We had breakfast this morning in the hotel restaurant, aptly called The Clink: French toast with Vermont maple syrup, sausage, eggs Benedict with a crab cake on the side, fresh orange juice and coffee. Then off to Harvard Square, for the wedding in Swedenborg Chapel. It was a joyous occasion that began with 4 friends of the bride and groom singing "Goin' to the Chapel..."

Afterward, we walked through the rain to Harvard, where we walked around admiring the buildings and ended up, inevitably, at The Coop. Of course we bought books: fiction for A (Under the Volcano); non-fiction for me: Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, by Laurel Ulrich, and Daniel Schacter's The Seven Sins of Memory. We also bought souvenirs for the grandsons and a couple of giant Harvard umbrellas. Armed with our giant umbrellas, we made our way to Peet's for some restorative cappuccinos, then back to the subway, where passes are called Charlie tickets. I love that!

Tonight we're off to the lobby for a drink before heading out to the reception.

Friday, August 28, 2009

packing.. go to Boston, that is. Pics and post when I get back.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


...stands for Thank Goodness It's Thursday. It's a phrase that must be familiar to 17,000 state employees in Utah, where it's now been one year since Governor Jon Huntsman announced that those 17,000 would begin working a 10-hour a day, 4-day work week under his "Working 4 Utah" plan.

So how's it worked out?

There are savings in operational costs. Energy use is down 13% (officials hope to eventually cut it by 20%). There's less traffic and better air quality. But perhaps best of all is that most workers love this schedule, and their performance reflects that. Absenteeism has decreased, while productivity and work quality have increased (e.g., customer complaints at the DMV and other state agencies are down).

The five day workweek that's the standard in most of America came into existence 71 years ago with the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. A lot has changed since then, and the results of the Working 4 Utah plan suggest that maybe it's time to rethink the 5-day work week. 3-day weekends every week? I could get behind that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the national debt...

I read that the national debt is currently 11.4 trillion dollars. That's right, trillion. I didn't have any concept of what a trillion is, so I googled the term. Here are some of the things that I found:

Million: 1,000,000
Billion: 1,000,000,000
Trillion: 1,000,000,000,000

A million seconds is 12 days.
A billion seconds is 31 years.
A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

A million minutes ago was – 1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 miutes ago.
A billion minutes ago was just after the time of Christ.

A million hours ago was in 1885.
A billion hours ago man had not yet walked on earth.

America has not existed for a trillion seconds.
Western civilization has not been around a trillion seconds.
One trillion seconds ago – 31,688 years – Neanderthals stalked the plains of Europe.

If you piled $1000 bills one on top of the other, a stack of them worth a trillion would be 67 miles high. That's thousand dollar bills every inch of the way, from my house in Dallas to my job in Fort Worth, plus 16 miles.

The mind boggles...

Monday, August 24, 2009

at long last...

photos from Google images

When I was a young woman I bought and read Glamour Magazine every month. I poured over the fashion photos and read the articles and spent a fair amount of time dreaming about someday writing some of those articles. A male friend once berated me for how much I loved that magazine. He said it was a complete waste of my time and mind to read it. I pointed out that he spent at least much time perusing Playboy, Hustler, etc. I don't remember him being properly chagrined, but it did shut him up.

I haven't read Glamour in years, but it's still around. In the September issue (on the newsstands now), in an article on
feeling comfortable in your skin, Glamour ran a photo, not of an actress or supermodel or of anyone whose idea of lunch is a can of Red Bull, but of 20 year old Lizzie Miller (above, left), a softball playing, belly-dancing young woman who's coincidentally 5'11" tall, 180 pounds, size 12-14, and BEAUTIFUL. One of things I love about her photo is that she's not afraid to show that like most of us, she does not have a belly off which one could bounce quarters.

Since this issue hit the stands, Glamour has been inundated with favorable letters to the editor about this pic. By
modeling industry standards (there's an oxymoron for you) Lizzie Miller is a plus size model. Dove started the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, in an attempt to make people realize that beauty comes in all shapes, ages, and sizes. Maybe the message is finally beginning to take.

So which model do you find more attractive?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

¡feliz cumpleaƱos Mike & Chris!

Mike and Chris turned 24 on August 13th, but Mike was in Mexico City and Chris was in Dallas. On Saturday night we remedied that. Chris, Stephanie, Mike, Brooke, Katharina, Brenden, Xander, A and I got together for a birthday dinner at my house. A cooked a delicious dinner of barbecued beans, pulled pork and cole slaw. For dessert there was homemade ice cream and, as always, two birthday cakes, after which, finally, Mike and Chris celebrated their 24th birthday together, with shots of mescal in my kitchen.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I could get used to this...

This afternoon Mike, Brooke & I went to see cubist paintings by Diego Rivera at The Meadows Museum. They were wonderful, and there was also a terrific Juan Gris from the same period. Afterward we went to The Nasher for a bite to eat, and we spent some time admiring the sky in Turrell's Tending Blue. I could get used to this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

goin' to the chapel...

In Boston they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadephia, who were his parents? Mark Twain (of course)

No wonder I love Boston! A week from tomorrow, at the crack of dawn, A and I are flying to Boston for his cousin's wedding. We're staying at The Liberty, formerly the Charles Street Jail, home to some of Boston's most famous criminals, including Sacco and Vanzetti. Friday afternoon we'll be able to wander around all the incredible bookstores in Cambridge. We'll have dinner with family in Back Bay on Friday night; the wedding is Saturday at Swedenborg Chapel near Harvard Square. We hope to make a stop at the Old Union Oyster House before going back to Dallas on Sunday.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

this 'n that

So we script these things in our heads; at least, I do. And sometimes they’re right, but sometimes they are flat out wrong. And sometimes that’s the best thing of all.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

even Ike...

is happy to have houseguests. More people to scratch him under the chin and rub his is good...

Monday, August 17, 2009

happiness is...

having your family together, laughing and enjoying the pleasure of each other's company, into the wee hours...

Mike and Brooke got in from Mexico City this evening, and even as I type they're in my living room with Chris, Stephanie and A, sitting around laughing and talking. We sat around the kitchen table earlier, eating pasta salad and talking. I was sitting with them (of course); I'm writing this just before I shut down my computer and turn in for the night...tomorrow's a work day for me, after all...but oh, it's good, always, to have the family together.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

and more things...

1. I had the oil changed on my car.
2. I watched the first season of Mad Men, which was pretty good.
3. I have a terrific thick, white cotton rag rug in my bedroom beside my bed. I love it because besides being great looking and soft, when it gets dirty I can wash it. The rug was originally 5' x 8', but after all the times I've washed it, it's now probably 4' x 6'. However, it's still too big and heavy to wash at home, so today I took it to a Lavanderia a couple of miles from my house, where I always go to wash and dry it. It's always an interesting experience, going there, and I always leave with a new sense of being grateful that I have my own washer and dryer to do regular laundry. When I got home, I hung it over the fence so it could finish drying in the sunshine. I love the scent of clothes dried in sunshine.
4. I went up into the attic and changed both furnace filters. I don't know why, but this is a task that I loathe. Ike decided to join me today, and scampered effortlessly up the aluminum ladder into the blastfurnace of the attic. There isn't an attic fan and there are no vents, so it was probably 120 degrees up there. Unfortunately, once he'd climbed up there, Ike decided he had a fear of heights, or something, and refused to come back down the ladder. I finally went back up and picked him up, whereupon he apparently decided that I was going to murder him, and yowled and extended claws accordingly. He was so frightened I was completely unable to calm him down. Nevertheless, eventually I was able to get both of us down the ladder without falling, and without being scarred for life by his claws. The poor cat was so frightened, though, he was panting like a dog. No more attics for Ike!
5. I made pasta salad with spinach pesto in anticipation of Mike and Brooke flying in from Mexico City tomorrow night. They'll stay with me for a week, and I can't wait to see them!
6. I went online and paid bills.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Things I Today - Saturday 15 Aug 2009

1. I went to the UPS store and mailed a package to Ali.
2. I cleaned the kitchen.
3. I went to Target and bought a mini-vac.
4. I went to Crate and Barrel and bought a vase for the front hall table.
5. I went to Central Market and bought groceries.
6. I did a few loads of laundry.
7. I cleaned up the downstairs.
8. I cut and installed cedar liners for the drawers in the guest bathroom.

Friday, August 14, 2009


It's been a LONG week, and I'm very glad it's Friday.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy 24th, Mike & Chris!

Happy 24th Birthday, Mike and Chris! I love you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

thoughts on growing older...

Tomorrow Mike and Chris will turn 24; at the end of this month is Xander's 7th birthday, and in September I'll turn 60. All these birthdays have got me thinking about aging; what I like best about it and what I like least.

The thing I like best? I like that I'm about to turn 60. I hated turning 50, but for some reason, I have a feeling of optimism about turning 60 that I haven't felt since I was turning 21...

The thing I like least? Stepping on the scale.
When I do that, I'm shocked by how much stronger the Earth's gravitational pull becomes each year as one grows older (thanks, Dave Barry, for pointing this out to all of us).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

but I would not be convicted, by a jury, of my peers...

I spent the day at the Crowley Building being eliminated as a juror in a criminal case. I found it incredibly frustrating. Voir dire went on all afternoon. The purpose of voir dire is to enable the parties to select an impartial panel, but of the final 12 people who were chosen from our panel of 76 potential jurors, not one had uttered a single word during voir dire. One of them, a guy in his 50’s, did speak to me in the hall outside the courtroom while we we were waiting to hear who was picked. And what did this man who made the final cut he have to say? “Well, if this “victim” is a 13 year old girl, all I’ve got to say is, 13 year old girls LIE…” He was picked over the SMU professor who had asked for clarification between individual and corporate deterrents when sentencing was being discussed, and over the business man who said, in response to a question from the prosecutor, that yes, there is a difference between innocence and being found not guilty. During voir dire, the lawyers succeeded in eliminating many people who clearly could not participate fairly in this case; however, they also appeared to eliminate anyone who appeared to be a thinking, intelligent person. The experience did not leave me feeling confident about the state of the jury system.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Carly's Monday Photo Shoot - LAYERS

"Life is like an onion: you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep." Carl Sandburg

EMPS #50: Layers. Carly has a really cool assignment this week: she wants to see some LAYERS, and how things go together to create something different that catches the eye. If you want to play too, click

At first, I was stumped by this assignment. Layers? Of what? But then I began walking around my house, camera in hand, opening closet and pantry doors…and Virgo that I am, I discovered that my house is of course filled with layers. For this assignment I decided to concentrate on some of the dishes that I own. I love to cook, and I love having friends and family over to my house for dinner, and part of the pleasure, for me, is setting a pretty table, whether we're eating in the kitchen or the patio or the dining room. To that end I’ve collected lots of different dishes over the years. Here are some shots of some of those dishes, and the patterns they create stacked in my pantry and cupboards. In all cases, I've done a close up of the layers first, concentrating on the patterns that appealed to me in the layers; then there's a second shot showing what the dishes look like from a bit farther away, at a glance.

clear glass cereal bowls

family china

Christmas plates

white pinecone pottery

red soup bowls

place mats

Kitchen chairs

a drawer full of everyday napkins

Sunday, August 09, 2009

My Favorite Breakfast...

This is probably my favorite breakfast of all time: a toasted sesame seed bagel with cream cheese with chives, lox, tomato, red onion, capers, fresh orange juice, and a cup of Peet's coffee with cream and sugar.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Patrick's Saturday Six #278 -

I haven't played the Saturday Six in a while, so I decided it was time. If you'd like to play too, click HERE.

1. What non-domesticated animal would you most like to see up close (assuming your safety was guaranteed)? No question, a tiger!

2. What’s the most exotic animal you’ve ever touched or held in person? That would be my Bengal cats, Mia and Leo. They were incredibly beautiful and very interesting, but really never became domesticated, and eventually I had to give them away.

3. If you could take a cruise to the Bahamas or to Alaska, which one would you choose? Alaska.

4. Where’s the most “exotic” place you’ve been to so far? Hmmm, I'd have to say Hawaii.

5. Take the quiz: The Jungle Test

You Are Imaginative

You are a creative, innovative person. You're not afraid of great risks.

Right now, you are seeking peace and tranquility in your life.

You are drawn to people who are philosophical and thoughtful.

You feel like there are many major things in your life that need to be changed.

You are quick to react. You are courageous and bold.

6. If you could afford it, which would you most like to have in your backyard: a fish pond, a Japanese garden, a water fountain or a quiet gazebo? It's a toss up between the fish pond and the water fountain. I'd like the sound of the fountain, but the look of the pond.

Friday, August 07, 2009

toot, toot, tootsie...

Reading the NY Times style section, I came across an article on feet. Apparently, a majority of women in the US hate their feet. Huh?

I remember in the 60's there was an ad for an exfoliant foot cream that showed a woman, apparently nude, sitting with her arms and legs crossed strategically, that read: What's the ugliest part of your body? Whoa, I found the ad on Google images; you can see for yourself:

The first time I saw that ad, I have to admit, "feet" did not come to mind...

According to the article, so many women hate their feet that there are apparently "I hate feet" groups on Facebook! Sheesh! I'm not sure why, but I've always liked my feet, and I've always taken better care of them than I have of my hands. Admittedly I now spend 9 months of the year in open toed sandals, but even when I lived in the frozen north and wore socks for 9 months a year, I gave myself regular pedicures. I read the comments posted on the NY Times article, and there were the usual killjoys, upset and critical that anyone would spend time or money having a pedicure, yada yada yada, whining that feet are purely functional. Yeah, but so are teeth, and yet most of us brush and floss daily and see a dentist a couple of times a year. Years ago I had a neighbor who loved to harass me about the fact that I colored my hair, while she'd allowed herself to go grey. One day I'd had enough and pointed out that she permed her hair on a regular basis, so really, although we were doing different things to achieve it, both of us were changing what nature had given us, in an attempt to improve our appearance. Having well groomed feet is more than just a matter of personal style, though. Ask any diabetic, or anyone caring for a diabetic, about the importance of taking care of their feet.

I've always liked my feet, and at 59, I still like 'em!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

New stairs...

Woo Hoo! The stairs are finished AT LAST! The pics say it all...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

step by step (so to speak)...

The flooring crew showed up this morning and installed flooring on the landings, then sanded and stained the stairs. I worked from home, at the kitchen table, eventually resorting to earplugs in an attempt to muffle the sounds of the pneumatic air hammer, vacuum, etc. It was so loud that when someone called from work with a question for me, I had to go into another room and close the door to hear her. There's no way that stairs are a DIY project.

In a few hours the guys will show up again, to apply polyurethane.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Talk Nerdy to Me...

My post yesterday got me thinking about relationships, and I decided to re-post this. I wrote it 3 summers ago, and it still applies.

"The brain is the most important sex organ in your body. It's your brain's reaction to ideas, fantasies, images, smell and touch that triggers arousal and desire."

That’s a quote from Dr. Rosalina Abboud, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic, in my home state of Minnesota. I agree with her (and not just because she’s a Minnesotan).

Some women are attracted to a fat wallet, or eye candy. Although I can certainly appreciate those attributes, the thing that excites me, always, is intelligence. I like bright guys. Politics aside, Bill Clinton is sexy because he’s bright, vs. Dubya (who’s not because he’s NOT), and it’s the light of intelligence in his eyes that makes Matt Damon sexy in a way that Ben Affleck will never be. Intelligence is, and always has been, WAY sexier than brawn to me. Because of my moth to the flame attraction to raw intelligence, I’ve dated a number of very bright guys in my life. But often, I haven’t enjoyed their company. All people are complex and multi-faceted, and I’ve learned that it’s a mistake, always, to allow oneself to be seduced by a single aspect of anyone, even when that aspect is intelligence. But until recently, I frequently allowed myself to be seduced by intelligence alone, and so I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the meaning of the phrase, “fools rush in”...

A great deal of the time that I’ve spent reflecting on that phrase has occurred in nice restaurants, while I was sitting across the table from any of a number of the interesting, bright guys I’ve dated. Inevitably, on those occasions, I was manicured, pedicured, and spritzed with Chanel 22 for the evening. My hair was usually pulled back into a tidy chignon, and I was wearing a de rigeur chic little black dress or some variation thereof, complete with sexy heels and pearl earrings...but for all the effect any of that had on most of those bright guys, I might as well have been devoid of make-up and scent, barefoot, and wearing a muumuu. Because as we sat there, waiting to order, glasses of wine and a bowl of fresh bread on the immaculate table before us...rather than flirting, gazing into each other’s eyes, and enjoying each other’s company, as couples all around us always seemed to be doing, australopithecus robustus’ head was inevitably bent intently over his dinner napkin, where he was graphing something for my benefit. Sometimes I’d say, “Please! If you must draw, at least use a pencil on that linen!” The response was always a variation of, “But I’m trying to show you something, and this is important!” Then, as my eyes glazed over and I felt my heart sinking in my chest, I’d think, “Shoot! Not again! When will I ever learn?” Sometimes I’d realize that in addition to drawing a graph for me, he was speaking, and I’d try to sit up straighter, and pay attention, as I heard him uttering seemingly random multi-syllabic words and phrases like “sub-galactic” or “quarks” or “stratospheric phenomena”...or sometimes “cardiomyopathy” or “tort reform”, depending on his profession. And I’d nod and smile, envious of the couples around us, whose snippets of conversations contained words like “weekend” and “beach” and “tortellini”. Fantasizing about, and longing for, some friendly banter, I’d plan my escape, and I’d vow to curl up alone with a good book, come next Saturday night.

Eventually, I did just that. I took a break from dating. I spent a lot of Saturday nights curled up, alone, with a good book.

It was good to do that. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and about who I’m attracted to and what I want. I’ll always be drawn to bright guys, but I’ve learned that I want much more than just brightness. I want compassion and generosity and especially, because it’s delicious to me, I want humor. Life is good, and funny, and I’ve learned that what I want is a co-conspirator...a bright, funny guy, who can not only carry on an intelligent conversation and make me laugh, but who can look into my eyes while he’s doing it...because Crosby, Stills & Nash had it right in Suite Judy Blue Eyes: Fear is the lock, and laughter the key, to my heart...

Monday, August 03, 2009

General Petraeus update...

Tonight I worked late and my boss stopped by my cube, as is her habit, to shoot the breeze. She asked about the on-again, off-again, as of last week on-again liaison of Bev (not her real name) with the bogus General Petraeus. Bev took two weeks off, beginning last Monday, because after a months long, whirlwind internet romance that he supposedly was able to conduct in spite of his being Commander in Chief, US Central Command, in Pakistan or wherever he's posted these days, DP was at long last taking a vacation from his post and coming back to the states, to Texas, to meet Bev and her elderly parents before they (Bev, her two geriatric lap dogs, and DP) began a road trip in her vintage Ford Mustang to his splendiferous mansion in...drum roll here, are you ready? yes, that beautiful, exciting, most romantic and vibrant of places...Iowa. Uh-huh. That's what Mr. Scam Artist told her, and she bought it, hook, line and sinker. Her days have been filled with decisions like whether to have the security detail with them or not...uh-huh. Like he could just dismiss that! There was just one little wrinkle, a teeny tiny matter that he hated to trouble her with, it having to do with money...he couldn't access his bank accounts to buy his ticket, that darn ex-wife...(current wife to the rest of the world, because the divorce was secret, of course)...

Dunno whether she sent him the money or not. I did hear they were fighting about something. My overactive imagination immediately thought of a few things she might object to, like, in addition to asking her for money, maybe he asked her to bring rope, duct tape, gloves, garbage bags and a shovel, for example...but I digress. Someone who couldn't stand the suspense (not me) called her on her cellphone last week. Don't have any details, but it seems he no showed, so she was at home...alone.

Physically, at least, she's safe. Dunno about her bank account, and don't even want to contemplate her psyche...but I thought of a poem by Bukowski, entitled Oh Yes...

there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it's too late
and there's nothing worse
too late.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Things I did today - 02-Aug-2009

1. Cleaned the house
2. Washed my car
3. Went for a mani and pedi
4. Went to Central Market and bought groceries
5. Walked through the neighborhood, where I did my usual loop. I missed Alex and Silas on this walk, though.
6. Moved the sprinkler around on the front lawn to give the flowers a little water in all this heat

Saturday, August 01, 2009

a new month...

It's August 1. Where did July go? I would ask, where did the summer go, but living in Texas, that would be a foolish question, as I'm quite sure we still have a lot of summer remaining. The catalogs from Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel are starting to look a lot like fall, though, and I'm beginning to long for those dusty warm days with cool, clear favorite time of year.

We had our midyear company meeting this week. Attendance was mandatory, and a few minutes into it, I realized that was because if we weren't obligated to attend, no one in their right mind would willingly sit through such babble. It didn't escape my notice that the speakers were all middle aged white guys, although my boss pointed out that they aren't as white as they used to be...meaning that some of them spoke with an accent. But middle aged white guys, nevertheless, and of course, not a woman among them. And I found myself wondering once again, what on earth am I doing here? I have a master's degree in psychology. People interest me; business doesn't interest me. I don't begin to understand it. I've never dated a businessman, and sitting there, listening to these wealthy guys in their beautifully tailored suits drone on and on, I congratulated myself on at least being wise about that. I've dated doctors...they talk about their patients, or procedures they've done, or the pharmacology of new drugs coming on the market; I've dated lawyers...they talk about their clients, or courtroom strategies...shoot, lawyers are generally articulate and can talk about anything; I dated a former NFL player, and he talked about guys he'd played with, and games he'd played, and plays that went down on the field...and he also talked about his son and his brothers and the kids he coached...but businessmen...what on earth do they talk about over dinner?

I'm grateful to have a job, and more than that, to have a job with good benefits and flexibility and yet most of the time these days, I wonder what on earth I'm doing there...