Monday, December 31, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

Looky what I got:

pretty little mother o' pearl spoon for the proper enjoyment of caviar. I started my day in the mellow and lovely Seattle Caviar shop, purchasing, what else?, caviar for tonight's latkes ( osetra but way less expensive) and some pate de fois gras. We'll enjoy that with a bottle of the Orange Widow and I. can't. wait.

The Spouse and I will be ringing in the New Year alone this year. The Child is off with The Boy. Rumor has it they will be at the Space Needle watching it light up at midnight. She's pretty excited.

As I was on my way to the caviar shop the local NPR station was doing a program, asking about individuals song for 2007...the song that meant the most or was most reflective of the year past. It was fun and started me thinking about what song summed up this year for me. It's harder than it sounds.There were some 80s songs that came to mind, what with all the time JP and I spent at the club this year. But then, 80s music is pretty much always my soundtrack and nothing really stood out. I considered "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, which is my theme song for these emerging days of parenting a teenager. But that's only one part of my life. I thought of "Chicago", given our stellar visit there this year and all our peeps there (shout out, y'all). But again, just part of the overall experience.

I ended up being forced to look a little more deeply at what 2007 has meant for me. You well know it's been a year of challenge regarding the whole "what am I going to be when I grow up" thing. I expect there will be actual movement on that front in '08, so long as I apply myself. Which is sometimes hard for me. There have been ups and downs with the family, but more ups than not and our current state of bliss is a reminder that you have to hang on in the valleys if you want to regain the peaks. This has been a year, fundamentally, about believing in myself and what I want, about how the most valuable things don't come without effort. Kind of a funny thing, really, when you think about this being my jubilee year. I mean, really, oughtn't a person to have figured that out by the time she's 50? It's pretty basic, after all.

But better late than never.

I'm blessed. I love my husband. My kid shows signs of turning into a reasonable human being. I've got awesome friends. I've got you. There's money enough to buy caviar and champagne. There are only 386 days left of the Bush presidency. I've got a lot to do in '08 and that's a good thing, even if some of it scares me a little.

So here's to growing up, to hanging in there, to believing in the best and trying hard not to mire down too much in the worst; ultimately, here's to perseverance. *clinkies*

Oh, and yeah, this is my song for '08. And it gives rise to one resolution for 2008: I really have to start listening to something other than Radio Disney.

Happy New Year, kids. I love you.

Jonas Brothers "Hold On"

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Best Christmas Ever

I pretty much feel that way about every Christmas but this year was pretty spectacular.

It wasn't just that we were personally responsible for the boost in the electronics market or that everything that came out of the kitchen surpassed expectation or that the champagne was particularly bubbly and the coffee especially rich.

It wasn't just the gifts, even though everyone got what they really, really wanted. It was the fact that even in that there were surprises which spoke to great thoughtfulness on the part of the givers.

It was the smells and the bells and the music, for sure. But most of all, she said meaning it sincerely even though it sounds corny, it was all the love.

It wasn't just fun to have Hat in our home, it felt perfectly natural that she should be there. Auntie Hat. And dancing with The Spouse and seeing The Child so happy in this year when she wondered if there was still such a thing as Christmas magic. "This is the best Christmas EVER" she declared, more than once. And it really was.

Click to play Christmas+07

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Friday, December 28, 2007


I'm still celebrating Christmas. Most people aren't. Most people started with their Christmas music listenin' right after Thanksgiving and are sick of it by now. I didn't start listening to anything until Christmas Eve. I want to play Christmas songs but everyone else is going to say, "Oh. Really? Puleeze". And I hate it when the people get cranky.

Plus I played a lot of Christmas songs at the club a few weekends ago and yestesrday I just played one that has become The Hat's new favorite Christmas song EVAH and on Christmas I played that awesome Sting rendering of a 13th century Basque carol. Point is, I don't really have to play Christmas music.

Then I was poking around and I found this. I've never heard of this band, never heard their music, have nothing to say about them except they are from southern California and that lead singer is cute as a button. Plus, I love her dresses. And their sound. And the video is amusing. And no, I'm not having marital problems.

New Years Day "I Was Right"


Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Best Christmas Eve Ever

Fresh from the miracle of the Concierge Who Saved Christmas, we settled in to enjoy the rest of our evening, rife as it was with all the "things we usually do", which is the very definition of liturgy.

Lovely Mass with cherubic children in pink cassocks and white robes, singing gorgeous songs from all over the globe and the kind, generous spirit of Father R. There is something so profound in the way we celebrate that even if, in the run-up to Christmas Eve I haven't felt "it" yet, for sure the Christmas spirit will descend during that Mass.

The Spouse took the lake route home from the Cathedral so we could ooh and aah at Christmas lights and once at home we fired up all our own Christmas lights and dined on crusty Noel bread, butternut squash and apple soup (which I poured out of a carton from Trader Joe's and which tasted like heaven, thankyouverymuch) and a salad of mixed greens and pears in shallot vinaigrette.

We decorated the tree, with Hat in charge of noting where empty spots needed to be filled.

We followed our tradition of trekking outside to "the enchanting creche in the woods" and sang "Away in the Manger", then came inside to listen to Christmas music, drink gin and tonics (very appropriate, what with the piney scent of the gin) and enjoy the lights of the Christmas tree.

There is a silly song, originally recorded by Jona Lewie, called "Stop the Cavalry". Because it has the line "wish I was home for Christmas" it makes the play list of a local rock station's holiday extravaganza (they play the cover by the Cory Band but the original is better). Anypolka, the oompa beat of the song strikes The Spouse and I as terribly amusing and we dance to it, our own little ridiculous dance. But it's another one of those things that has become a thread in the fabric of our Christmas traditions. The fact that someone else was actually witness to it, well, that couldn't be helped.

(Warning: Right at the end I say a not too Christmas-y word and I'm ashamed and sincerely apologize. But I still have to play the video because it makes me laugh to hear Hat laughing).

The Child and I argued over who would read "The Night Before Christmas" (but I won because I'm the mom. Ha), then she was shooed to bed. This was a crucial year for The Child. She was in conflict. Of course, at nearly 14, she knows intellectually that Santa is a myth but she was very sad to think that admitting as much would mean the death of Christmas magic. There were many conversations about this, including some with Auntie Hat, and we did our best to assure her that no matter what we know, there is a beauty and magic to the season which we still feel every year. I wasn't sure this made her any happier but she put out a cookie and eggnog for Santa, an apple for the reindeer and bade us good night.

The adults had some more drinks, some more conversation and then realized with a start that it was midnight. We turned on the TV to watch the beginning of Midnight Mass at the Cathedral, getting all excited and pointy whenever we spotted The Neighbor singing in the choir. And then it was time for all good children, including the grown ones, to go to sleep.


The Concierge Who Saved Christmas

For 16 years we have been going to a very Grand Hotel for Christmas Eve. It is a lovely place, with richly panelled walls and a deep fireplace. It is always greened for Christmas with garlands and poinsettias and lights. It is a timeless place; when you enter the Fireside Room and sit back in one of the deep wingback chairs you feel like you could be anywhere - New York, Rome, London. Everything is hushed and elegant but it has never felt like an exclusive club; it might appear to be the sort of place that judges you by your shoe leather but the attitude is friendly, not snooty.Service is perhaps a tad slow but the experience is always pleasant. For 16 years, as I've said, we've marked important occasions there and even as our traditions have evolved we have never, ever missed a Christmas Eve. We order plates of little over-priced appetizers and drink expensive things and listen to the pianist or the Dickens' Carolers and have a grand, even somewhat magical, time.

The Grand Hotel has become an increasingly popular spot on Christmas Eve. As the years have gone on we've always congratulated ourselves on the fact that we now go there early to enjoy our preprandials before the 5:30 Mass. Because every year, as we leave, the room is full and a line is beginning to form. So it wasn't that much of a surprise to arrive this year and find that after 5pm they would only be seating parties with reservations. On the other hand, it was only 3pm, there were exactly 2 parties already seated and we were going to be out of there by 4:30. All of which I told the rather aloof hostess who finally bothered to greet us after a 10 minute wait.

"Well, I suppose you can have a seat", she replied.

This wasn't the greeting we expected or deserved but we found a large table and settled in. One of the other parties turned out to be people we knew so we greeted them with hugs and "Merry Christmas" and prepared to enjoy ourselves.

We waited to be brought menus. And waited. We were meeting David and Stina and I realized I didn't have their number in my new cell phone so went to the lobby to call The Neighbor to see if she had it. While I was on the phone, The Child came out and said, "Daddy wants to leave". I looked up and he was coming out with The Hat. He said something to the manager, something about "coming here for 16 years" and expressions of displeasure, which was met with a casual, "I'm sorry. Merry Christmas". At that moment David, Stina and their boys came through the door so we gathered them up and had a parlay in the courtyard.

Starbucks was suggested but dismissed by The Spouse. He didn't want coffee and a pastry. He wanted food, bowls of mussels and plates of satay. He wanted wine. (I admit, he is not nuanced in his frustration or displeasure and the consequent snarfiness of his demeanor cast a bit of a pall on the proceedings at that moment but objectively one can't blame him for wanting this meal to be what it historically was, an event, and not merely a way to pass time before Mass).

We decided to walk down the hill a few blocks to another hotel. The only real problem with this plan was that The Hat is not really up to such trekking and by the time we arrived she was quite sure that she would not be walking any where else that evening. I said a silent prayer that this would be our last stop.

We walked in and were greeted by the concierge, a young and fresh-faced youth whose brass name plate said "Erik"...with a k. We explained how we'd been essentially turned away from the Sorrento (Ha! they've been outed) and sought a little Christmas cheer.

"Well," he said thoughtfully, "our restaurant is closed and unfortunately the children can't be in the bar but" - and this is the important point- "let me see what I can do".

"Let me see what I can do". Not a fancy phrase but one which suggested that he understood that he was in the hospitality industry. He invited us to be seated in the lobby and went off to see to things.

It turned out like this: He had us order drinks and food in the bar and then set up a small table between our lobby chairs. He brought a carafe of cocoa for the children. He told the bartender he would serve us and brought out our lovely plates of satay and spring rolls, hummus and Buffalo wings (because really, is it Christmas without Buffalo wings?) We all sat cozily by the high windows, looking out onto the festive lights of the city streets, drinking our delicious drinks and nibbling on the very yummy food. We laughed, we enjoyed ourselves. Anger, frustration and irritation were banished and we had a joyous time.

Stina and I had to leave to save seats at church so we thanked Erik-with-a-K for his care. I gave him a big hug and told him he had saved Christmas and that we would be back next year. The lobby may not have been festooned in quite as elegant a fashion as it was at the Sorrento but it was clearly a more possessed of Christmas spirit.

Just before Mass started the rest of our party arrived, in high spirits. The plan had been to take a cab up to the Cathedral to spare The Hat from walking but, no. Erik-with-a-K had decided that he didn't want them to risk waiting on a cab so he drove them up in the hotel town car.

Was he tipped handsomely? Of course. And while I suspect that there may have been moments when he considered this possibility, I don't think that was the prime mover because he was genuine, thoughtful and, here's the key word, hospitable to us. And you know what? Even if everything he did was motivated by what he thought he'd be getting out of it, that doesn't change the fact that he took 2 families that were disappointed and filled them with Christmas cheer.

As I sat in Mass, listening again to the Christmas gospel, I realized we'd had a Biblical experience. 2 families, in search of succor, had been turned away from one inn but welcomed at another. There wasn't a restaurant, but Erik-with-a-K made us comfortable in the "stable" of the lobby, giving us a warm place to celebrate, blessing us with his kindness.

(If you're ever looking for a little sumpthin sumpthin in downtown Seattle, allow me to recommend the Madison Renaissance Hotel, 515 Madison St. The food is very nice, the drinks are lovely and the people even lovelier. But avoid the Sorrento. They can't be bothered).

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry, Merry Christmas

The Caribbean feast is finishing up. The Spouse and Child are playing on the Wii. Hat is showering and the table is set and I'm full of holiday joy and hooha. Oh, what a lovely time we've had. There are tales to tell, tales Biblical in their scope. There are photos, for lo, Santa brought me a sweet new camera. But for now, in the midst of my bliss, I pause to remember why this day is so special to me; I love the lights and wrapping and music and presents and excellent smells and food for days but most of all, being one of those nutters who believes things, I love that Baby Jesus all away in his manger, the superfantastic mystery of God made flesh.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Sting "Gabriel's Message"


Friday, December 21, 2007

Still Not a Christmas Song. Also, Not Really a Solstice Song.

Update: my headache is gone and furthermore, The Child informed me yesterday afternoon that we didn't have to go to the Advent Concert because the 8th grade wasn't singing. Whoo to the hoo!

I wanted to play something that had particular meaning on this, the anniversary of the day The Spouse asked me to marry him. Sure, for your pagans and Celts this is the winter solstice and you're all watching the live streaming feed from Newgrange to see the ancient tomb fill with light as it does only on this day every year (actually, guess you already watched it if you were going to). But for me, while the poetry of bare branches and the promise that is inherent in this, the shortest day, have some sway, it's mostly about the fact that this is the anniversay of The Spouse deciding I was a catch. And sure, it could have been the beer talking, but he followed through and married me 9 months later so it was obviously sincere.

I love my Spouse. I really do. We've been through a bit of a patch lately, with our worries and such. We both have a tendency to get into our own heads when that happens and not talk to each other so much. Or if we talk it's because I want to but he doesn't really and, well, that never goes particularly well. Especially because my talking often takes the form of "processing", as it does with women, wherein I'm saying a lot of different things to try and come to a place of clarity and he, being a guy, doesn't really do that and finds it annoying.

But somewhere along the way we've come out of it and we're again laughing at each other's jokes and speaking kindly and not flying off the handle at the least little provocation, which is so much more pleasant.

Marriage, "they" say, is hard work. "They" weren't kidding. It can be very difficult, when you live side by side, day in and day out, to keep things fresh, to have conversations about things other than kids and money and stuff that needs to be done to the house and what should be on the menu this week. It's easy to start acting more like room-mates than lovers. But if you stop long enough to think about why you asked that "will you" question in the first place, or why you said "OK", you can usually find your way back to the lovers side of the equation. Which is a very good thing.

I was going to play "Heroes" but I couldn't. So instead I'm going to play the exact opposite, an angry little ditty, more appropriate to my experience before The Spouse.

Rumor has it that the record company didn't spend a lot of money on this video because they didn't think the song would go anywhere. Boy, were they wrong about that.

Alanis Morisette "You Oughta Know"

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pain Gives Me Run-ons

I just got up, well, for the second time that is.

I woke up this morning with a killer headache. Scrounged through my morning usuals then took the car for my emissions test - which I passed, thank heaven, because this really isn't the time of year to be shelling out $150 for a tuneup plus my tabs expire at the end of the month and it's Christmas next week so I'd have probably had to take it to a shyster instead of my regular guy and who knows how that would have turned out and why I waited until the last minute to take care of this is beyond me because it's not a big deal but it's just not very glamorous so I don't get very excited about it so off it is put but that's all moo anyway because, like I said, I passed, even though all the while I had this very bad headache.

Hat said that it would go away if I drank a glass of warm salt water and I know, well, I'm pretty sure, that she meant well and wasn't just trying to punk me but it was very nasty AND it didn't work so once I got home from the emissions test I climbed into bed and slept, feeling just excellent the whole time except for the first few minutes when The Dog was all in my face with his garbage breath and worming against me for pats but once I buried my head under the blankets he went down to the foot of the bed and snuggled between my feet and we slept very nicely and I didn't feel a smitch of pain the whole time although I did have very strange dreams about visiting my sister-in-law in an all yellow flat that had very high staircases and sometimes I was trying to get up the staircases with all these strangers and I kept feeling like I was drunk and about to fall any second but I never did and of course, despite the precarious nature of the stairs, my head didn't hurt so I was happy even as I clung to the ornate railing.

But then the phone rang ahead of my alarm so I got up lest it be The Child or The Neighbor but it was a woman at church reminding us that The Child is taking up the gifts on Sunday, along with 13 other children who have been baptised by Father and been raised in the's the last celebration of our centennial year and it's going to be very sweet plus we have pews reserved back by the font for that Mass which will be nice because that means we get to receive Eucharist from Father because our usual Sunday morning place is in the south and he never serves from there but this stinking headache is starting to really get on my nerves and tonight is the Advent Concert at school and I can tell you right now I'm not sure how perky I'm going to be about that with this skewer stuck in the side of my head. Actually, I can. I'm not going to be perky about it at all. But attendance is required (for the kids, that is) so it's not like skipping it is an option. Plus it's the last one of elementary school and let's face it, even though most of the songs tend more to the excruciating than the tuneful, it's just the sweetest thing ever so I wouldn't miss it but having already taken the legal limit of ibuprofen I'm not sure how I'll survive.

I'll tell you one thing. No way I'm trying that warm salt water trick again.


Year in Review, a Meme

"Project Runway" is on hiatus until after the new year so there's no recap today. I'm sorry, JP. I know how you live for PR.

The Spouse had a link to a meme-y thing wherein you take the first sentence from the first blog post of each month and it gives you a tidy little recap of your year. His was spot on. Mine not so much. In fact, to make it anything close to meaningful I had to copy the entire first paragraph of each post because I apparently have a gift for, as they say in the journalism biz, "burying the lead". Oh well.

Here is my year in review for 2007

I promised my Poodle a latke and caviar. Yum.

The blechiness is wiping me out but there's an up-side. It has morphed from mere scratchy throat to a husky voiced, Kathleen Turner sort of thing. I'm walking around saying, "You aren't too smart. I like that in a man". It sounds cool.

To the north and south there is lots of snow and ice. Right here, in the little pocket of urban bliss that is Seattle, there is bright spring-like sun, fluffy white clouds in the brilliant blue sky and the sound of crocuses popping from the ground. Decidedly lamb-like for my neck of the woods but far more liony for the rest of the region. Should make the 31st very interesting.

I'm done blogging. It's stupid plus I haven't encountered a single person who is remotely interesting.

There are 3 days in the year when it is very easy to get The Child out of bed: Christmas, her birthday and May Day. This morning, at 6:45 (15 minutes earlier than her usual wake-up time), with nothing more than a "Time to get up, dolly", she was up and dressed and ready to deliver May baskets.

It's Friday and that means I'm starting to think about what I'm going to play at The Club this weekend. Which gets me thinking about music in general, how we all have songs that are part of our own personal soundtrack and take us right back to a specific time in our lives.

Oh man. I have met John Iwanski.

Is it just me or does summer feel like it's spilling away?

See that? It's a lunchbox. It is packed with nutritious food. The Child made it herself. After she did the dinner dishes. I call that a right good start.

(I actually skipped the first three entries because they were just comments on what had been an all-Travis-all-the-time weekend).

I need bacon. Specifically, I need bacon fat. Oh, yes I do. Because I have 4 tomatoes in my garden that are never going to ripen and they need to be fried.

Pumpkins were carved and lit, warding off evil spirits. Beef stroganoff simmered. The Dog got into his role as Hound of the Baskervilles (the Long Island Baskervilles). Little children came to the door. One 2 year old, in a dragon suit was very enamored of the hound barking fiercely behind the window. Unafraid, the little chap walked right up, oogled the doggie and crooned to him, then bent and kissed the window. I gave him extra candy.

God baked a cake last night. But then She felt lazy so instead of bothering with 7 minute icing, She just dusted it with confectioners sugar.

This rarely touches on any of the highlights or lowlights of the year (except for July's entry. That was a highlight). But I suspect there will be at least one more day this month when I'll be in need of reflection so a more proper review is always an option.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hi! I Just Realized That Christmas is Only a Week Away

I got started on wrapping gifts yesterday. While being a fan of the beautifully wrapped package, I have no facility for that. My packages always look like they have been wrapped by a 5th grader, no matter what I do. (Hat, please to be adjusting expectations accordingly). I'm sure the fact that I don't much enjoy wrapping presents has something to do with it. Much as I appreciate seeing a box covered in glossy paper and festooned with ribbons and bows, it always seems a little silly. I'll spend 5 minutes wrapping something, only to have someone rip, shred and tear through it in 10 seconds. I am tempted, every year, to employ a technique Dame Judi resorted to: she sewed up six burlap bags in Christmas colors and filled them with unwrapped gifts. We'd sit on the floor, bags tightly closed in our eager little fists, taking turns digging in, without looking mind you, to pull out our gifts. I so totally understand why she started doing that. I just have to wrap gifts for 2 people and a handful of friends; but it's still just a glorified chore.

The chore part is the actual wrapping. The glory of it, which is what keeps me going year after year, is imagining the delight of the recipients. (Well, The Spouse not so much. He is one of those people who opens a gift and says, "Oh, that's nice. Thank you". Very hard to get a hearty "OH! WOW! FANTASTIC!" from him. It's not that he's not grateful but after 16 years I still don't think I've ever given him anything that made him plotz with amazement. And let's face it, isn't thrilling and amazing someone kinda the point? I digress). I know The Child is going to love her "big" present. I'm pretty sure The Hat will love her "big" present. And there are all sorts of little treats and surprises as well that will elicit some "yippees" and giggles. No one is getting underwear, which is always a good thing. So I enjoyed wrapping up presents and thinking about the joy and laughter of Christmas morning, because that's the point; not the fact that I can't seem to line up the ends of the paper (it looks like rows of Christmas ribbon) to match or make perfectly sharp corners.

I've lost about 10 pounds this week. 10 pounds of worry and concern, that is. My mind has been too much occupied with financial considerations and all the high school hooha. But I'm on the other side now. We signed papers last night to refinance the house; we didn't have a sub-prime loan or anything but with an interest-only equity line and some credit cards and me not working until the new year, it was all getting a little fraught. Especially when every time I turned on NPR there was another story about how bad things are going in the economy. I wanted to consolidate everything into something safe, fixed and low interest and now we have, freeing some nice handfuls of cash month to month in the process. So that's a load off. Mundane, but a load off.

As for high school, The Child had a pleasant enough time at Second Choice High yesterday but she came away sure that First Choice is indeed first choice. I asked if she'd be OK with SCH in the event that she didn't get into FCH and she said, "Oh, yeah", which was a relief (one doesn't want to hate one's back-up). Never mind that I now feel fairly certain that she'll be accepted to FCH. The email from our priest saying he'd sent "glowing letters of recommendation" on her behalf helped. (He's kind of a big deal in the archdiocese. Just saying). The fact that all of you have your fingers crossed helped. Seeing her enthusiasm and determination, that really helped.

She was so cute when I picked her up yesterday. She said, "I've made a list!" and pulled out some note paper (note paper, btw, emblazoned with a logo for FCH) on which she'd noted pros and cons of both schools, complete with scoring system. It ranged from the sensible (smaller classes at FCH) to the silly (awesome pizza bagels at FCH) but it was fundamentally thoughtful. It went to what she values, what she's looking for and I found myself more than a little amazed.

I mean, here we've been in charge of her decisions for nearly 14 years and we still fundamentally are for the next 4 but she's now arrived at that place in her life where she truly is thinking for herself, weighing her options, judging what she values and wants. It was a blessed thing to see because that is, after all, the point of parenting. Our job is to teach her to think for herself so that we don't have to hold her hand all her life. First Choice has been on Papa's and my radar for years but now she owns that, for all her own reasons. Realizing that yesterday was right up there with watching her take her first faltering steps. She really is growing up.

And now I must away. I've gotta cram for my emissions test, finish wrapping presents and bake the annual eggnog cakes for the faculty and staff. I've decided to gift everyone this year, not just The Child's teachers, because I'm feeling just a little varklempt about this being our last Christmas at St. G and I want to show my appreciation to all the hard-working angels at the school. I can't give them all a million dollars, so brandied eggnog fluffiness will have to do.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One Down

We stood in the green tiled hall, outside the office. Every time another parent came in we'd smile a polite greeting, maybe nod, then quickly look away. We were all waiting for our 8th graders to finish their tours, waiting to hear how they had liked First Choice High, full of questions and hopes.

But we didn't speak. Instead, we occupied ourselves with the display case, examining the awards for Student of the Month, searching the large black and white photo of the class of '58, the first graduates of FCH. We looked at the large and looming paintings of 3 dead and gone bishops, looking stern and pre-Vatican II in their red robes; searching for a hint of humor in their eyes.

We didn't speak and I was glad of it. No sense in getting to know each other. There will be time for that if we wind up at the parent mixer during freshman orientation. Not that I'm any good at those things anyway. I'm never the one to make the first move. All the friends I've gained from The Child's school years made the first move. I'm painfully shy in those situations, largely because I've never had much facility for small talk. The mere fact of having a child in the same school has never been enough for me to scrabble together a decent opening line.

And I fear the direction those opening conversations might take. I've mentioned before that my generation of parents tend to be very competitive. I feared talking to "that parent", the one who would list her precious baby's myriad accomplishments: the straight A's and bountiful civic awards. I didn't want to talk about how competitive all this business supposedly is and how lucky they are to have a personal recommendation from Benedict. I was perfectly content to appear self-possessed and smug about my child's chances for being accepted to First Choice, and Second Choice, for that matter.

I am (finally) more confident, of course. The Child has a B average, with a nice ledger of activities and service, stellar recommendations, a principal and teacher who will do everything in their power to get her into First Choice. But I didn't want to talk about that with these strangers, even if they too were just as concerned and hopeful for their babies as I was.

Then The Child rounded the corner, her eyes shining.

"Mommy, I just toured the drama department. It's so awesome!"

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Fun and Fluff

Sfoofie (who, btw, is very adorable and doesn't update her blog nearly often enough- yes, missy, I'm talkin' to you) had a fun little game on her blog. Open up Google images and type in the answer to a bunch of questions, then post the first image that pops up. Perfect for those days when you don't have anything of consequence to share.

Age on your next birthday:

Place you'd like to travel to:

Favorite place:

Favorite object:

Favorite animal:

Favorite color:

City where you live:

Past pet:

Name of your first crush:


First name:

Middle name:

Last name:

Bad habit:

(impatience, not football)

Grandma's first name:

(This is what came up for "Thelma". "Car careeing off a cliff" was my aunt's name).

Major in college:


We're Going to High School

If you came to me with a million dollars in a cute Kate Spade bag and said, "You can have this if you will relive one year of high school," I'd say, "Do I get to keep the bag?" and you'd say, "Sure," I'd say, "Can I pick the year?" and you'd say, "Yeah, any one of the four" and I'd say, "Could I have the bag in red?" and you said, "Sure," and I'd say, "Um, no. But thanks". Not for a million dollars in a red Kate Spade bag would I want to relive high school. A day, maybe, if I could pick the day. But not a year. Thank you, anyway.

I hated high school. I hated being a teenager. I hated being a pastor's kid. I hated the jocks and the soshes and the stoners and the a/v geeks, who broke my heart because they were even less cool than I was. I loved my little group of friends and the good, clean fun we had but I rarely had any classes with my buddies. I hated biology. I loved English. I hated PE (except when we learned square dancing). I hated being in love with the wrong guy and the way his sister tormented me when we weren't together. I hated not being allowed to go to dances but I probably would have hated dances because I was skinny and gawky and wore glasses and had a bad shag haircut (it was the 70s) and when I had a boyfriend he was older and didn't go to high school so I wouldn't have had anyone to dance with even if I'd known how to dance, which I didn't.

I wasn't pretty . I wasn't cool. (Golly, I was so totally the opposite of cool). I hadn't learned to value any of the things that were awesome about me, like my sense of humor or my compassion or my talent. I didn't fit in my skin and high school was, in short, nothing I'd want to do again for a million dollars in a red Kate Spade bag; not even knowing what I know now.

It is my fondest hope that it's going to be different for The Child. Grade school hasn't been a picnic for her. Between the bullying and the dyslexia and the struggle to fit in once she transferred from the bully school and the drama queens in her current class, she's had a rough go. She's paid her dues, people. I'd like to think that she's going to start high school, fresh from a life altering summer in France and armed with the self-possessions she's gained from all her hard knocks and will, consequently, find her niche, snuggle into her niche and rock it. I don't have dreams of her being a cheer leader, ASB president, homecoming queen and starring in every play. But I like to think that she'll find some nice friends, settle into her school work, get involved with the drama program and feel like she belongs.

I know. It's a bit much, considering that very few people I know speak with adoring fondness of their high school experience, but I still hope that for her. And when I hear people I know talk about the two schools to which she's applying, I think it's possible. Because they all speak fondly. I was wearing the sweatshirt for First Choice High at Trader Joe's one day and a clerk stopped me and said, "I went to First Choice. It was the best four years of my life". From her lips...

Today and tomorrow The Child is touring both schools, all day sessions, paired up with a current student, going through the paces and living the life of a high school student. She's psyched. She picked out an outfit (after carefully studying the dress code), put herself to bed at a decent hour, got up on her own and hit the shower (hello?). She is currently watching the news and eating a banana-yogurt-granola parfait. She's got homework packed in her messenger bag and money for lunch.

Saturday was the last of her placement exams. She feels really good about both of them. She said she finished every section before time was up (a huge accomplishment for little miss Freak-out-during-timed-tests). She said the math portion was really easy and she even felt good about the essay she had to write (pick a hero from literature and tell why you admire that person. She picked Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books, because she respects her work ethic. "Way to suck up," said The Spouse). Having those tests behind her is a huge relief. Did I mention she had a very decent report card? And that she's written a fine essay about why she wants to attend First Choice (which will be adapted to argue for why she also wants to attend Second Choice)? I haven't written my essay yet. Oh, yeah, I have to write an essay about why I want her to attend these schools, too. Lordy, lordy, there wasn't this much paperwork involved when I applied to college. Letters of recommendation have been requested, the Pastoral Associate at church has written to confirm we are parishioners in good standing, forms have gone to the teacher and principal, lists of awards and community service and volleyball championships are being compiled and once all the i's are dotted and t's crossed, the whole bloody mess will be submitted (by January 17) and then we wait to see if she's accepted. Which of course, she will be. Who wouldn't be thrilled to have a kid like The Child in their student body.

Two days ago she was an itty bitty baby with chubber chubber cheeks and now she's going to high school.

I need a tablet.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Still Crazy After All These Years

This is one of those songs that takes me back.

I moved to Seattle for college in 1975, the same year that Mushroom Records released "Dreamboat Annie". If ever I owned an album that suffered from worn out grooves, it was this one. I also blew out a couple of speakers over the years, playing this at top volume. "Magic Man" and this tune were the big hits from that first effort, both charting in 1976.

Given that the girls were locals, their success was one of those things Seattlites latched onto. They were "our" girls, their success was "our" success. We owned them. (We also "owned" the Supersonics in 1979. We still own Starbucks but I don't take any credit for chai lattes or frappacinos).

This has always been one of my very favorite Heart songs. The intro is classic Nancy. Man, that woman and her axe. Un. Believable. The way she effortlessly goes from intricate picking to harmonics and back and then starts wailing, on an acoustic guitar no less? Genius. And Ann, well, Annie was never better than on this song. There aren't many women who can scream like Ann Wilson. Janis comes to mind. The power of Annie's voice, the way she goes from soft, lyrical crooning to a full on anthemic assault is a marvel to me.

I tried singing this at karaoke once. It was embarrassing. I'm still ashamed. Some things are better left untouched.

Their Led Zepplin influences are totally obvious here, too, which is NOT a bad thing.

(And yes, JP, I know they aren't hair metal. But you can't deny that they are fierce).

Heart "Crazy on You"


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Project Retreads

Now that's more like it! This week's episode gave us a little more of what I've been looking for the last 2 weeks...some drama, some humor, some actual designing that had a point. (I was going to say "relevance" but that seems to be Nina's signature word this season and knowing her, she's holding the copyright). We were also provided a valuable public service -Sweet P in a sleeveless dress-reminding all of us of the perils of tattoos. (Loving her but I really wanted to politely ask her to put on a sweater).

We open with the designers readying for the day. Most of them are mourning the auf'ing of Chris. They all liked him as much as we did. Jack was worried about a booboo in his nose because he's been HIV pos for 17 years (God BLESS pharmaceuticals) and fears this could turn into something more serious that will need to be treated.

Heidi brought out the models: "real" women who have recently lost a ton of weight. Each is wearing a favorite outfit from when she was heavy and the designers are challenged to create a new look for each woman, using her old clothes as the raw materials. The design had to be good for "every day" and express the designer's point of view. They got 15 minutes at Mood to spend $10 on bits and notions.

From the get-go, the designer with the biggest challenge was Steve, who was paired with a woman in a wedding dress. (Interesting choice for "favorite fat outfit" because I'm pretty sure that unlike the other clients, she actually didn't wear that thing every day. Really, frankly, not particularly fair, but who said life -or the producers of PR- were fair?) And Steve was certainly feeling the fear. Describing the dress as "death on a stick" he spent rather a lot of time musing on the possibilities of "polyester satin and acetate lace". To say he was disdainful of his materials would be an understatement.

Meanwhile, having privately talked with Jack, Tim calls the first "designers, gather 'round" of the night, where Jack tearfully announces that his doctor wants to see him right away and he'll be leaving the competition. ACK! Much sadness and woe ensues as everyone hugs him "goodbye" and then, visibly shaken, try to get started on their projects. Really, the vast majority of these designers seem like awfully nice people. I hope they bring Jack back for season 5 because I thought he was a good designer and wish he could have continued. Be well, Jack.

We get to see Ricky in heels as he tries on the jeans he's fitting for his now-thin client. That was hilarious. Then, 6 hours before the end of day 1, Tim returns with another "gather 'round", announces a surprise and in walks recently auf'ed Teddy Bear Chris, who's back in the game. Yippee! Feel the love.

Victorya was very subdued and decent this week. (Dig me, acting as if editing has no part in reality television. Ha! Victorya isn't decent. More likely, having dotted the last i on her evil plans, she's sitting back with brandy and a cigar, just waiting until the perfect hour to launch her full-on assault. I'm so over her. New drinking game: every time she says or does anything nice I say, "Shut up, Victorya, I still hate you" - sip).

During Tim's review of the projects I fear for Elisa. He comments that her dress represents her POV but he doesn't see it working for the client. So far, every time a designer has failed to listen to Tim they've been auf'ed. The Gunn must be heeded, people. Make a note of it.

Pissy Christian displays his remarkable ability to work while bad mouthing everything. I swear, his chipmunk voiced arrogance gives me the pips. Someone slap him.

Steve is still struggling with the fact that he's been given a wedding dress to work with (which he's mostly using as trim for an otherwise all black dress). "If Nina starts giving me trouble I swear....." he says. That made me laugh.

Meanwhile, Tim cautions Chris to "avoid costume crap". Yep, wise words. Because Chris came back late in the process, he's going to be given the night to work. Tim cautions him about making bad decisions in the wee hours saying, "I've made more bad decisions at 3 a.m. than I care to list". When Chris asks if he'll be back to check on him Tim says, "Maybe I will, after I've made my bad 3 o'clock decision". Altogether now: we LOVE the Gunn!

Day 2, the designers return to ooh and ahh over a slumbering Chris, who says that he can't even remember if he made anything. Well, yeah, he did. And I was worried.

The clients come in and are largely pleased with their outfits. Ricky's client is super happy which, yippee skippee, gets Ricky all choked up and we got a good blubber out of him as he says "This makes me remember why I do what I do".

Steve, saying things like "sweet merciful crap" is now reduced to gluing together his garment and both Kevin and Victorya ("Shut up, V. I still hate you" - glug) step up to help him with finishing touches.

Guest judge this week was Patrick Robinson. Who? Yeah. Head designer for The Gap. Whatever.


First of all, let me tell you how much I loved this challenge. To take old clothes and make them new was one thing. To create outfits for formerly heavy women? Genius. Because anyone who has ever not felt good in her body knows that you carry that emotional weight even after the pounds are gone. After the weight loss comes the mental challenge of learning to feel good about yourself. Many of the designs really spoke to that, giving these women fitted, fab looks that allowed them to really own their new selves.

Classic case-in-point: the way Rami's model walked the runway in this. It said everything you could want about the power of a well designed outfit to make a woman feel superfantastic about herself. She worked it. Delightful.
Kors got bitchy about Kevin's design because he had his model in leggings. (Just for fun I googled "Michael Kors leggings". Yep. They were all over his spring collection. Idiot). I liked the look a lot and so did the client. Would you believe this top started out as a gigantic jacket? This was a classic example of meeting the requirements of the challenge, thankyouverymuch. Pissy Christian weighed in with this. Which, much as I dislike him, was super. The only thing that bothered me was that this jacket, down to the shiny trim down the front (which you can't really see here) was very similar to the 80s jacket the judges hated just a few weeks ago. Clearly it looks better in black.
In a photo-doesn't-do-it-justice moment I offer Jillian's dress, which was judged as 'sexy and tasteful". It had all sorts of little details, particularly, attractive pintucks that shaped the garment beautifully on the model. Lovely. Trust. However, the black trim you see there is all she used of the original garment, so she wasn't going to win this one.


Nina hated Elisa's dress, saying that it was "very Elisa and not very Tracy" (the client). And yes, I personally thought it was a potato sack with layers but I did wonder from whence came Nina's authority to proclaim the look "not" that of the client. Do they regularly brunch together? Doubtful. Add to that, Tracy said she loved the look. Granted, this suggests all Tracy's taste is in her mouth but still, how she felt about it matters more than what Nina thinks. Pretty much, everything matters more than what Nina thinks. Steve, dear, funny Steve, was severely judged for turning a "wedding dress to a funeral dress". It was horrible. And you know why? Because Steve spent way too much of his time completely hung up on the fact that it was a wedding dress made of inferior materials. The Neighbor and I came up with half a dozen things he could have done that would have been totally impressive and we're not designers.

Chris was also in the bottom two, with this little number described (aptly, for once) by Kors as "Shirley MacLaine playing a hooker with a heart of gold". I would concur and further have to say that it looks to me like Chris' costume designer roots go way too deep. He's not going to make it to the final four unless he leaves that shtick behind and I don't see it happening. Nice to have him back but it won't be for long unless he gets way radical way fast.

Christian was deemed the winner (personally, I preferred Kevin or Rami's look but so far I still haven't been invited to be a guest judge). And Steve's inability to think outside of the box was his undoing and auf he went.

I'm not willing to call a final four yet but I can tell you I'll be surprised if Elisa, Ricky or Chris aren't the next 3 to go. Not necessarily in that order.

Until next week, mind your 3am decisions.

Editorial note: I didn't dress up for PR last night because there was just no point what with the whole dead camera thing. Santa promised to bring me a new one. I asked Santa if we could expedite delivery, what with things like tree trimming upcoming and there being no camera. "Don't you have a camera in your phone?" asked Santa. Yeah, I do. But I don't know how to get said photos off the phone. Santa was not moved.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pharwell to Phoebe

Our cat, Phoebe, went to be with St. Francis last night. There is much sadness and woe in our house. Please speak softly.

I am grateful to the lovely woman sitting next to me in the vet's office, who asked about my sick kitty and didn't laugh at me when I started bawling. I'm grateful to the vet and nurse who were absolute angels through the whole thing. I'm grateful to The Neighbor who came down to be with me because The Child was too distraught and The Spouse wasn't yet home. Phoebe went very quickly and peacefully. She was ready.

But now I want to tell stories about her.

The Child was 3 when we bought our house. One afternoon we were sitting in our apartment and she started asking questions about the new house.

"When we have new house, I take my toys?"


"When we have new house, I take all my books?"


"When we have new house, I have my room?"

"Yes, you'll have your very own room". (Not the glorified closet in which she slept).

Her eyes got big and shiny. "Mommy, when we have new house I get a doggie and a kitty?"

"Yes, we can have pets in the new house".

"In new house me have a doggie named Puppy and a kitty named Phoebe!"

And so it was, when we stumbled on some children giving away free kitties at the Market that we selected a girl kitty. She was already named.

When we got kitty home The Child was beyond exuberant. And it was freaking out The Cat, who escaped from The Child's too loving embrace and ran to hide behind the washing machine. The Child was beside herself, thinking kitty had rejected her, so The Spouse took her off to play as a distraction. I went into the family room to watch cooking shows. After about an hour the little thing came strolling in. I picked her up and held her. She fell asleep on my chest and then I fell asleep, too. The Spouse and Child found us like that some time later and kitty, no longer quite so freaked, got acquainted with The Child. I would never suggest that Phoebe loved me best, but from that first cozy nap she knew I was her mommy.

That first Thanksgiving we had gone down to Portland to celebrate. Seattle Coffee Girl came to watch the house and kitty. When she met us at the train station she was a bit distraught as she had not seen the cat since she first arrived at the house. We got home and there was Phoebe on the front porch. (This would be her MO for the next 10 years, taking off whenever anyone came to the house. For years no one knew we had a cat because they never saw her. Only in this last year has she stuck around when there are visitors). Much relieved, SCG went home and I sent The Child to get ready for bed, as it was very late.

She came back out of her room and said, "Mommy, Phoebe peed on my bed". I went in, annoyed of course, to discover that Phoebe hadn't merely peed. She had been using The Child's bed as a litter box the entire time we were gone. And the cat, I swear, stood there and looked at me as if to say, "Dude, I totally thought you were never ever coming back and I swear to God I would never have done something so disgusting if I had thought you'd be coming back. I promise I'll never ever do this again". And until this last turn, she never did.

Phoebe was the worlds greatest hunter. That cat could pull birds out of midflight. I fear we will now be over run by rodents, as she cleared out anything that came near our house. She beat up cats twice her size. She was fierce.

One day The Child and I were playing in her room, rolling a ball back and forth. The ball went under the bed and The Child crawled under to retrieve it. "What's this?" she said, batting something out toward me. She came back out with the ball and was covered in little downy feathers. I investigated and the "that" she'd encountered was the head of a small bird.

It was only the first of many treasures The Cat would bring into the house to display. She took to leaving dead birds in front of the living room door - on the inside of the house, mind you - for us to admire. There was a patch there where every single morning we would wake up to find a dead bird in the house. One morning I got up to discover a little chalk outline of a bird. The Spouse had cleaned the remains but he wanted me to know a crime had been committed. (Funny, funny Spouse). We put a bell on her. Then we added a second. But that cat was so stealthy that she could move without ringing her bells. If she really wanted to take something down, she'd do it.

One night The Spouse and I were watching the telly and Phoebe came into the house at a rush. Shortly afterwards, a mouse ran into the family room and behind the TV. Phoebe came in, looking pissed. She couldn't get at the mouse so she left and The Spouse and I just closed the door and walked away, hoping to deal with it later. The next morning there was no sign of the mouse so we figured he'd gotten lucky.

That night we were lying in bed when we heard a fearful scuffle and shriek and then nothing. The Cat came into our room, went under the bed and started making dining noises. "Oh, no you don't!" shouted The Spouse and he got up, drug her and her prize out from under the bed and put her outside.

We were very proud of her, of course, but one has limits.

She was a beautiful cat. She had gorgeous green eyes and the prettiest face of any kitty I ever saw. She was aloof and entirely cat-possessed but when she wanted to let you love her, she was all purrs and nuzzles. Yesterday, as I held her in my lap, she was too weak to do anything but lie there but once in a while she'd lift her head and gently tap her nose against my arm, giving me the last of her kitty loves. It made me happy to know that even as she was leaving us she still wanted me to know that I was her mommy and she loved me.

I feel very silly sitting here, crying again about my cat but there it is. She was a good kitty. She loved catnip. She hated The Dog. "Smelly Cat" was her favorite song. She adored fish. She will be missed.

Phoebe Cat, Spring 1997-December 11, 2007

Rest in Peace, Kitty

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion or Putting it Out There and Why I Usually Don't

There seems to be a little theme emerging in the life of some blog buddies these days, to do with creativity and putting it out there and such like that. People far more talented and creative that moi, like my beloved Hat, have opined about it. And people, like she and Iwanski, are even actually doing something about it, accompanied by a chorus of "Go for it!" from this supportive little group.

As a rule, I find that the vast majority of us are very creative people, living our regular lives but dreaming about our creative self being more "out there", possibly even earning the occasional ducat from something we love. I fantasize from time to time about the fascinating conversation Oprah and I have about my moving and funny new book or the way in which my syndicated column has the power to change the world. Sure I do. Not that I've actually done anything that would remotely get me a call from Oprah's people, but I think about it.

I think that blogging is wonderful, of course. But I persist in the fantasy that Graydon Carter is just gonna stumble across my blog and insist that I become a staff writer for "Vanity Fair"...that my writing is going to become a career without me doing anything more than sitting in front of my laptop in my jammies and writing crap. Which, you see, is not how it is done.

Since the Unbound Press, one year ago, I haven't submitted anything for publication. Partly it's the classic "fear of rejection". Sure it is. Hell, I'm more protective of my writing than I was of my heart. Back in the day I was putting it out there all the time, only to have it lied to and tossed around like a Frisbee and kicked into the gutter until The Spouse came along and saw the battered, bruised little bugger and said, "Oh, poor little heart, I will love you".

But my writing? That's another monkey altogether.

"But you put it out there every day on your blog," says you.

"Sure", says me, "because it doesn't feel like a risk". Only twice, in nearly 3 years, have I ever received a negative comment from some anonymous bastid who unkindly told me that he/she thought what I wrote was twaddle. (That was a real word someone used. Hee. I write twaddle). But fundamentally this is a very supportive community who are always saying things to each other like "this is brilliant...I loved should be published" (and really, we should all listen to each other more because we are quite right about that). But getting writing out there where assorted editors and publishers can see it and say, "Meh"? That's scary.

Oh, but it's even more than that, I just realized. I wasn't raised to say "Hey, looky me!" Which is what submitting feels like. Isn't there something kinda pushy about sending in an unsolicited piece to someone? Something that smacks of a little girl in a new party dress twirling around the middle of a cocktail party saying "Aren't I pretty? Don't you just love me?" Because in my experience that is the sort of behavior that gets one sent to one's room.

Consequently, I realized that it fundamentally goes against my nature to ask for attention, to promote myself. Which might make me fit for polite society but isn't going to do a lick toward lengthening my CV or getting me clients. (Because that whole marketing/self-promotion thing is required for that, too, and I haven't been comfortable doing it. Which is problematic).

Then I was thinking about Buck. A month or so ago I sent him a link I'd found to a magazine in Chicago that was looking for local writers. He sent in a piece. They loved it. Not only are they going to publish it - and pay him for it - but they want him to write more. I'm super proud of the fact that he's going to be published. But when he was here I told him that I was even more proud of the fact that he had submitted something in the first place. And in his quiet and self-deprecating way he admitted that he almost hadn't...that it had come right down to the wire and then he decided "what the heck". Maybe it didn't feel like a risk to him. But the point is that he did it.

I have a dream for my life. It has me helping people organize their homes - for money - which is something that I find to be a very affirming task, something which brings me delight and energy. And at my age, I really want to be able to work at something that feeds me rather than sapping me. In fact, at my age, I think I deserve that. I've been in soul-deadening-gig-just-to-pay-the-rent land. I don't think I have to go there now. And part of what I like about this scenario that I've envisioned for myself is that it still leaves me time and energy to write. Which is the other thing I really, really want to do. Granted, if some things don't break pretty soon I may have to abandon part of that dream because high school tuition ain't gonna pay for itself. (In fact, I'm going to start temping after the first of the year for a bit. I was going to start earlier but soon everyone else in the family will be on Christmas break and I selfishly want to play, too). Point is, I want to make my business work and I want to publish and I am going to have to take concrete steps before saying that it isn't going to work.

Fine, so here's the thing. Those concrete steps go against my nature and make me feel uncomfortable. Duly noted. But my dreams aren't going to come true unless I'm willing to stop thinking about how hard it is for me and be willing to twirl at the cocktail party in my pretty pink dress even if it means the grownups are disapproving and send me to bed.

I took a little risk last week. I was reading Blogging Project Runway and they have a feature called "Recapalooza" where they share other bloggers recaps of the show. There was a call to send them links. So I did. What the hell, right? And yesterday I learned that they had linked me! On top of that, my hits yesterday were more than twice what they normally are. And you know where all that traffic came from? That's right. Now granted, "Here's the Thing" isn't a commercial site and all that traffic doesn't mean anything in the way of income or potential fame or a syndicated column. In fact, there's a very good chance that most of those readers will only come around if I'm doing Project Runway stuff. Which is fine. The point is that I did, in a very small and totally uncharacteristic way, put myself out there by sending that link and it didn't kill me. So maybe, just maybe, I can find the wherewithal to do it again, only this time to a press or magazine. Because truly, at this point, I have absolutely nothing to lose. Greater writers than I have been rejected, for crying out loud. It's part of the territory. So what?

Here's some more shameless self-promotion: I'm trying an experiment with my business. I'm offering on-line services. I don't know that anyone else is doing something like this or if it's going to work but I'm giving it a whirl. The way it works is that a client sends me pictures of a trouble spot, I ask some questions and then come up with a strategy for them. The service then includes a month of electronic hand-holding whereby I email them to see how it's going, offering additional advice and encouragement as they work through the challenge. It may work. It may not. But it's worth a shot, right?

And then it occurred to me (here's the shameless self-promotion part) that I should tell all y'all about it. Because maybe some of you would just love to have a virtual organizer. Maybe you know someone who would. Which led to an even crazier thought, along the lines of "Hey, you know what would make a superfantastic Christmas gift? Moi!"

That's right. You can now purchase my virtual organizer services as a gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone. Perhaps you know someone who lives in the Seattle area; in that case you could consider buying an hour of in-home consulting for someone you love. Wouldn't that be better than a Wii or an iPod? 'K, maybe not, but it certainly would be different. Anygoo, think about it. There are very nifty PayPal buttons on the site and if you decide that this is just the last-minute-holiday gift you need for someone, simply purchase the service you're interested in and then email me (the business email is on the site), with the name of the lucky recipient and I'll send you a gift certificate for them.

Ok, that took a lot out of me. We can pretend it didn't happen. (Unless you were thinking, "Damn, that is a swell idea! I am so getting that for Auntie Mame!" In which case, I'm super glad I told you so you could finish your holiday shopping early.)

Now I'm going to go enjoy my really super clean house for a bit. And then I've got some articles to work on.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

That's a Load Off

Get a Voki now!

Seriously, you know what's nuts? What's nuts is that I spent 4.5 hours cleaning my house top to bottom (it does look smashing) and Appraiser was here for exactly 7 minutes. He did say we had a very cute house. How much is "cute" worth these days?

You know what else is nuts? The fact that in another couple of hours the family is going to return home and mess up my sparkling little house. Which is fine. I mean, I'd certainly prefer that they come home and mess it up rather than not come home. But still. It looks very pretty right now.

I shall have a cookie to celebrate.

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Things I Have to Do Before the Appraiser Gets Here at 1

Try and clean the mildew off the bathroom ceiling.

Retouch paint on the living room door.

Hide the horrible stain on the living room floor created by sick cat peeing on dog bed. (I think she's not long for this world).



Mop the floors.

Scrub down the Big Ass Stove.

Sweep front porch and clean window trim in vain attempt to distract the appraiser from the fact that the house really needs to be painted. (Good thing we're just refinancing and not trying to sell).

Do enough laundry that the laundry area looks like it is not about to take over the house. (Which it really is trying to do. Stupid laundry. Why do these people need so many clothes?)

Hide the big cat pee stain on The Child's bed because I don't have time to launder her bedding as well. (Did I mention that I don't think The Cat is long for this earth?)

Patrol for dust bunnies and assorted other dust creatures.

Tidy up the back deck.

I really should do something about all the weeds in the gardens but that so isn't going to happen. It's winter. They add a touch of vibrant green to the brown of all the dead stuff. Yeah. That's it.

Build a fire so that the living room looks charming and cozy and will perhaps distract Appraiser's eye from the leak stain on the ceiling. Never mind. Cowbell says that's a bad idea.

Bake cookies right before Appraiser comes to distract him from any other failings that could cost us.

Thank God I can brag about the fact that the house has all new wiring and plumbing. Hope the toilet doesn't clog right before Appraiser shows up.

Degrime the family room.

Pray that Appraiser is in a very jolly mood today. I'll have to do that while I'm scrubbing the bathroom floor.

After Appraiser leaves:

Make vet appointment for sick cat. Start planning funeral.

Wish me luck.


Things Heard Around the House

"I want you to be the best schnoodle you can be today".

"No! You cannot hump the unicorn!"

"Stop throwing food at me!"

"You have to whack the monkey in here".*

"I love you".

"I'm not sighing. I'm expressing my emotions heavily".

"Honey, where do we keep the German chocolate cake".

* Not a euphemism. It's a stuffed monkey that chatters frighteningly when you whack him against something. The Child thinks that is a good way to let people know the loo is occupied. The monkey's name is Kevin.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Pleasant Little Reminder

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Tis the 80s...celebrating the season RIGHT NOW!

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Friday, December 07, 2007

New Baby

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Dear Booda

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I Shall Stop Now

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There Ought to Be a Law

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A Message to the World

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Not a Christmas Song

First of all, a clarification. Many Friday Jukeboxers are spinning the Christmas songs these days. Which is fine. But around here, we celebrate Advent first so the Christmas music doesn't start up until, um, Christmas. It's what we do. Except for tomorrow, when JP and I are hosting a Christmas party at "Here's the 80s". I always make exceptions for JP. He's my Poodle. You really should come by if you've got some time.

Back to today's selection: if you know me at all, you know that I love me some punk music. Yes, I do. I was very into punk back in the day and I can still spot a punk riff from 200 yards away. Or something like that.

If you know this song, you probably don't think of it when someone says "punk". But it totally is. Listen. See? And the artist was in fact very influenced by punk when he started out, so there.

For those of you who do not love the French, not to worry. He's Belgian. They never did anything to offend and they invented extremely tasty waffles.

They also grow cute little endive.

We love the Belgians.

But, you may ask, about what is he singing (in can't fool me)? Basically that his whole life is going to hell in a handcart but that's alright with him. Of course, he seriously can't lip sync to save his life but he sure does bounce around like the happiest little nugget. I just dance and dance whenever I hear this song. Punk guitar with a perky pop lyric? Doesn't get much better than that.

Plastic Bertrand "Ça Plane Pour Moi"

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Project Meh Meh

I have a theory. This season's crop of designers are, in the main, individuals who are working successfully in the industry. They work for big designers (Jillian), or television shows (Kit) or have their own shops (Ricky...or is it Kevin...maybe it's both. They both wear bad hats). The good news is they really know what they are doing. The bad news is they really know what they are doing. Add to that the fact that none of them really has yet to manifest a larger-than-life personality and what you're left with is a show that is becoming, I hate to say this but it's true, boring as hell.

Actually, I'm pretty sure hell is way more exciting, what with the erupting lava and demon howls and such.

This week's episode was a case in point. In fact, I probably would have turned it off and gone to bed halfway through but I didn't have anything else to blog about today so I soldiered on. But "meh" to the 10th power.

The challenge had promise. The designers met with Tim and Nina, who had 12 placards illustrating passe fashion trends (underwear as outerwear, baggy sweaters, leggings, like that). Each designer had to pick a trend and then form teams of 3. The task was to create 3 looks incorporating all 3 trends in the given designers' possession and create a mini-collection that was, as Nina said, "cohesive and relevant". $225 dollars for fabric/2 days to create.

Strictly speaking, this is a fine challenge. What is fashion, from year to year, but a rethinking of trends that have gone by the wayside? If somebody has the chutzpuh to make pleather relevant again, hey, that's designing.

The team to watch was Ricky's. He worked with Victorya and Elisa. It all started out perfectly well (their trends were cutouts, neon and underwear as outerwear). Ricky was very cute "translating" fashion concepts into hippy chick lingo for Elisa ("feel your center"). And dear, sweet Elisa just hopped on the train and started working away. She's such a pussycat. Victorya, however, is exactly who I thought she'd be. Remember when I said she was the one most likely to put a stiletto in someone's back? Yeah. I'm surprised Ricky didn't bleed to death from 1000 little cuts. That woman is a passive-agressive biatch of the first order. She never raises her voice or says anything straight up confrontational, just lies in wait and then springs her trap like the black widow she is. I don't like her a bit. She basically pushed the "team leader" label on Ricky and then proceeded to act like she was in charge, even going so far as to completely redesigning one outfit without collaborating with the rest of the team, and then had the nerve to question Ricky's leadership skills. Hating her.

While all that was going on, nothing much else was happening. Jillian was doing a little hand wringing over the fact that Kevin was taking freaking forever to make a pair of shorts but otherwise, meh. The team of Kit, Christian and Jack just had buckets of fun with each other. Steven gave a pretty good impersonation of Tim Gunn, although not near as spot on as Santino's. (I loathed Santino but he gave excellent Gunn).

We hit the runway with these collections:

Guest judge this week was Donna Karan. If I could, everything in my closet would be designed by Donna Karan. I absolutely adore her. Just saying. And for the judges, there was a clear winner. They didn't even make anyone sweat about that. Jillian's team, with their rendition on overalls, poodle skirts and 70s flare (as in flared pantlegs), won hands down. The collection was fresh, strong and consistent. The blouse Jillian made for those overalls? I would like a dozen, please.

There was very little wrong with anything from Team Christian, either. Although I'm pretty sure that Christian spends a lot of time biting his pillow at night, wondering why he is not winning every week. He's a legend in his own mind and one can only hope that all the not winning is working a little magic on his arrogance.

The judges were pretty consistent in their issues with the bottom 2 teams. They didn't feel either collection had a lot of cohesion nor that the designs updated the trends in any meaningful way. After complaining about fabric and flow and all that, they asked team members to say who should go.

On Chris' team, both Steven and Sweet P were a little reluctant to point fingers, although Steven played the "I wasn't the leader" card, when pushed, and Sweet P, who hates pressure, fingered Steven and then immediately apologized. (You knew she was safe, though. The judges loved her dress). Chris owned the team leader culpability thing. ("Team leader": PR code for "next to be auf'ed". Trust). Their clothes weren't horrible horrible but Chris, darling Chris, sweet teddy bear costume designer Chris, really shot himself (and the team) in the foot with a jacket that looked like something Joan Crawford would wear - if she was on LSD. It was truly heinous. You don't "update" shoulder pads by making the biggest monkey butt shoulder pads on the planet, dude. And the fabric? Holy Grandma's Divan, Batman!

Be thankful it's a little picture. Those things would put your eye out.

Over at Team Ricky we got the goods. There was a tense moment when the judges complemented the fit of Victorya's dress. It was tense because in the work room she had the thing smashing her model's girls flat. Ricky, the lingerie specialist, suggested an adjustment. Victorya claimed she liked the flattened bust. Ricky, tiptoing around like a guy who just upset a wasp nest, suggested a more natural fit, which the model - poor bound thing - immediately endorsed. V got on board but I was really wondering if she'd give credit where credit was due, what with all her "I essentially designed 2 of the looks" and "Ricky didn't really lead (because I was too busy doing whatever I wanted and ignoring him but I won't tell you that)" nonsense. She did the right thing, but it was a drop of honey in what was otherwise a big steaming mug of vinegar. And sweet Elisa was standing there trying to say nice things about Ricky and no doubt visualizing world peace. Ricky, to his credit, did not cry, even when the judges chastised him for not being a leader and for wounding his team by picking impossible fabric.

Sweet P and Elisa, who both played nice and made pretty things, were safe, as was Steven. That's where I started hoping that the judges would auf Victorya for being a biatch. But wait. That's not how it works. We keep the bitches around until way later in the competition. "Hey!" you hear the producers saying to themselves, "this one might be good for the drama this season is so desperately wanting. She's so sticking around". And she did. She left the runway looking just a wee bit chastened but she was probably just figuring out how to poison an apple.

I hate when the bottom 2 are people I like. That's a lose/lose. Ricky barely survived, and darling Chris was auf'd. Sadness.

Now I'd like to say a special word to the producers: season 4 is rapidly spiraling downward. As Tim said when looking at Chris' jacket in the work room, "that concerns me". Here's your challenge: make this show relevant again. On paper you've got drama queens, ice princesses and hippie chicks. That should be good for some serious entertainment but I'm beginning to suspect all the best stuff is being left on the cutting room floor. When the highlight of the show is Tim tut tutting, we're in trouble. It's your job to make it work, people.