Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Public Apology to JP

Poodle, I don't know what got into me. I should have been more sensitive. There you were, getting your little Poodle heart all excited about Project Runway, planning what you'd wear for the vlog recap, grabbing your cocktail and your smoke and sitting down in front of the gayest channel in all the land to watch, only to discover that there wasn't a new episode of PR last night.



A little heads up in yesterday's post, a call to warn you...would that have been too much? No, of course not. I should have warned you. I know you don't read the TV guide or even, really, pay that much attention to television specificially or pop culture generally. It would have taken seconds of my time to call you with a heads up. Sure, you would have been disappointed but you could have at least adjusted your expectations so that you didn't end of crying into your pillow all night.









What?





You didn't cry into your pillow all night? You couldn't possibly care less about Project Runway and think, frankly, that a woman of my obvious style and substance should spend a Wednesday evening in more noble pursuits?





Um, have you met me?

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

That's That

Edwards is out. This excellent article sums up what was important about his candidacy. So now we're left with Clinton and Obama, which is dandy. On the Republican side, I'm looking for Giuliani to bow out any day now and I suspect Huckabee won't be far behind. McCain's win last night in Florida makes me happy. Mitt the Maggot needs that old dog barking at his heels. And when I say "at his heels" I mean that in regards to how the vibrancy of the McCain campaign is keeping this from being a cakewalk for the man in the magic underwear. For lo, McCain actually is leading in terms of delegates. That doesn't surprise me but I'm quite sure it was the last thing the Romney people expected. Tee and also, hee.

Here's a fun website for the wonk in you. It's officially my favorite website ever. For the next few months anyway.




Moving on, there is a bittersweet situation in our house right now.

With the passing of our darling Phoebe, there has been an increase in vermin in our neighborhood. Oh, I haven't actually seen evidence of this, but she was a mouser of the highest order and kept this zone clear. She hunted down small creatures and then she killed them. Lots of times she ate them. Word got out and the smart ones stayed away.

For the last few days The Dog has been absolutely frantic. He has spent inordinate amounts of time barking and scrabbling at our compost bin. (It's a tub-like thing, with a lid. City issue. It looks kinda like Darth Vader's helmet). It sits on a thick plastic whaddaya callit...looks like a sieve and is designed to keep things from burrow up into the bin. Said bin is also bolted to the ground so that it cannot be upset by larger creatures, like raccoons.

But something has gotten in there, dammit, and The Dog is determined to get it.

Of course, he can't. The designs which were intended to keep creatures out work against him as well. Until he sees the whites of its eyes, that ratty boy is completely safe, free to burrow through the moldering coffee grounds and eggshells and banana peels to his nasty little heart's content. (Yes, I'm totally picturing Templeton from Charlotte's Web).

Every time The Dog is let out of the house he runs to the bin, plants his feet firmly and waits, nose pointing to the bin. He stands silently, every fiber of his doggy being trained on the bin and then, when he hears whatever it is he hears, he starts barking and scratching like a mad thing.

The rats, I'm sure, are laughing at him. "Oh, silly poofty dog," they say in their scritchy rat voices, "what do you think you can do, huh?"

If The Dog were able to speak Rat, he'd tell them that they should be very afraid, for he is descended from two noble breeds, both of whom have serious credentials. The poodle side of him makes him prone to sniffing out and retrieving things. (You didn't know poodles started out as hunting dogs, did you? That frou-frou trim that standard poodles get? Originally done to make it easier for them to swim). And on the schnauzer side, oh, the schnauzers. They were originally kept as yard dogs, guards and - please note - rat catchers. Yes! It is in his blood to get those rats and serve them notice.

If only he could. Oh, if only.

Every evening, after he's been dragged back into the house and the laundry basket positioned in front of the cat door so he can't get out again, we take him to our room and lift him on the bed. Last night he perched right on the edge, looking out the door, straining to get back out there. I gave him a combined cuddle-and-stroke and told him he was a good dog for trying but it was time to go to sleep. He looked up at me with sad puppy dog eyes. It made my heart break a little.

As long as The Cat lived, The Dog led a dilettante's life. It was for her to do the dirty work while he pranced and slept. But the torch has passed and something instinctual tripped in his brain. He has a job to do, by gum. All he wants now, in his little doggy life, is to fulfill his destiny.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lots of Recaps

Life Recap:

I have to order a leg of lamb. I also have to find the really spectacular menu that The Spouse and I developed for Carnevale, which is Saturday night. Yum. There will be 15 of us around the table. That's a big lamb.

This week is Catholic Schools Week, which for The Child means all sorts of dressing up and hooha. Today, for example, is Pajama Read-in Day. Everyone, even the teachers, go to school in their jammies, bring a pillow and stuffed animal and they spend most of the day on the floor reading whatever they want. (Harry Potter II in The Child's case, fyi). Yesterday was Laffy Taffy Day, where everyone was supposed to wear as mismatched and crazy an outfit as they could manage. This is what The Child looked like:


SOTU Recap:

Obama wore a gray tie. Bold move. I was surprised, but I liked it.

Clinton never once cracked a smile that I could tell. She looked very unimpressed.

Nancy Pelosi's hair is AWESOME. Have you seen her new do? Golly Moses, she looked hot. I wonder if she discovered my perfect little hair person. I wish she woulda flipped her hair last night.

Dick Cheney gives me the pips.

No one got bingo...came close but I'm a stickler. If the card reads "stimulus package" and the President calls it a "growth package" it's a no go. Same with "global warming" vs. "climate change". Oh well. It was fun and the best part is that it engages The Child. I think it is very important that she listen to the State of the Union address. It's part of being an informed citizen.

Even if you hate the person delivering the speech, even if it sounds like a fairy tale, you gotta do it. (And wasn't it a fairy tale? I kept responding, "That would be so awesome if any of your policies actually went toward accomplishing that". Idiot.)

But hey, you know what the really good news is? That is the last time we ever have to listen to a SOTU by Shrub. And next year, when the Sergant at Arms announces, "Madame Speaker, members of Congress, The President of the United States", the person who walks down the aisle to the rostrum is going to be a Democrat. I just feel it. And probably best of all, the person seated next to Madame Speaker is NOT going to be Dick Cheney. What a relief.

Dream Recap:

Last night I dreamt that I flew really close to the moon and could see the space station sitting on it. It was so cool, until I woke up and realized that there isn't a space station on the moon.

Brain Tumor Recap:

It's gone. Thank you for your concern.

Birthday Recap:

The High School Musical party was a smash. Hotdogs and chips for HSM I,and ice cream cake for HSM II

The HSM messenger bag was a big hit. We're getting her a laptop. She cried.

Hard to believe The Child is 14. And yes, she's still The Child. No matter how old she gets, she's still my baby and nothing will change that. This is a lesson I learned early, long before I was a mother. Once I was visiting my Grandma with the folks. Dame Judi had been out in the garden with her dad. When she came into the house G'ma called out, "Did you wipe your feet, Judi?"

I looked at my mother with astonishment. Here was a grown woman, mother of 4 grown children, a grandmother herself and G'ma asked if she'd wiped her feet. "You're always your mom's child, aren't you?" I asked. "Yep," DJ replied. So there you have it. Years from now I'll be vlogging about her wedding and still be calling her The Child. That's just the way it is, my puppies.

Addiction Recap:

I have been playing Sims2 like a crazy person. I have this one family, the Patton-Eisenhowers. They are amazing. 4 kids and Elinor is pregnant with their 5th. Meanwhile, their eldest, Jacqueline, has become an adult, got married to Kennedy Obama-Clinton and just gave birth to baby Erin. Meanwhile, both Bradley and Elinor are about to turn into Elders, which scares me because then they'll die and I've become very attached to them. Plus, Caroline is about to turn into an adult, with Julia not far behind. I'm afraid that Bradley and Elinor will die before little John has become a teenager, not to mention what's going to happen to the new baby (who will probably be born today).

You don't care, do you. Pft.

Multi-media Alert:

Tonight is the premiere of the Iwanski/Winter show over on Bosky Radio West. I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it. It's gonna be huge, people, and finally the name of Iwanski will be a household word, as well it should be. Tune it, 7pm Central time. Show the Iwanski some love.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

There is Just Enough Snow Here to Be Annoying

Thought I'd mention that. School is starting 2 hours late today. I'm just hoping I can get my car off our hill.




As you know, I've been theoretically supporting John Edwards in the campaign for president. The times, they are a'changin'.

John Edwards has been finishing a strong third in most contests. "Finishing strong", for our purposes, is defined as having enough votes to actually pick up some delegates. Now, he says he's in it to win it, but the facts are, unless he pulls out some wins on Super Tuesday, that's probably not going to happen. He doesn't have any money, he doesn't have any significant endorsements and the longer this goes, the less inclined people are going to be to vote for him, myself included. For why? Because when I go to my caucus on Feb. 9, I want to be supporting someone who is viable. Edwards' "viability" is now of another sort. With a nice collection of delegates, he's going to be in the position of power broker.

When I was a kid, the national conventions were exciting. It was about brokering and negotiation. People counted delegates and when someone stood up and said, "The proud state of Whosiwhatsit, home of This, That and The Other Thing" proudly casts its 20 delegates for the next President of the United States, Blah di Blahblah!" Then there was cheering and the tally box at the bottom of the screen would change. The point is, we didn't know, going into the convention, who the candidate would be and it would all be very exciting.

It hasn't been like that in a very long time. The system has changed and nowadays we usually have a candidate after 2 or 3 primaries. This hasn't been a good system as it doesn't allow for the proper vetting of a truly viable candidate (hi, John Kerry). The wonk in me is absolutely Love. Ing. the fact that on both the Dem and Republican sides this race is wide open. I'm loving it because it suggests that the conventions aren't going to be coronations of 2 fait accompli individuals. They are going to be proper conventions again and both of the candidates are going to people who really had to work for it.

This is particularly exciting to me because I'm going to be there. Well, I hope I will be. The Neighbor and I have a plan. We're going to volunteer to be delegates to the state convention. 4 years ago our precinct voted and did the math to see how many delegates would be assigned to each candidate and then our precinct chairperson said, "Who wants to be a delegate?" and everyone looked around and scraped their toes and whistled over their shoulders until a few people said, "I guess I will be". None of that this time. If they ask for delegates The Neighb and I are shooting up our wittle hands. Then, depending on how well we negotiate the vagaries of state party politics, we're going to try and be delegates to the national convention. (We have absolutely no idea how all this actually works but we think it would be super fun to go to Denver in August).

I'm getting ahead of myself. I do that. The point is, we've got a wide open race right now and it's exciting. One of the most exciting things about it is that this necessarily forces the candidates to focus on the issues. What a concept! And all the nastiness we've seen from the Clinton camp is going to stop. Ted and Caroline Kennedy's endorsements of Obama will help see to that. Apparently Ted, who is a close friend of the Clintons, has been telling them privately to knock off the mudslinging. His endorsement of Obama is his way of saying, "I so meant it, you knuckleheads". Not to mention, he's a sort of bridge for Obama to the more traditional Dem party base...a base Obama hasn't been able to rally yet. This is going to help him tremendously.

But if the mudslinging has hurt Clinton, a change in tone is only going to help her. The message has been loud and clear: "Stop tearing down the other guy and tell us what we want to know about you and your position on (fill in the blank here)". I think Clinton is smart enough to do that. I hope she is.

I've been worried all along about the divisiveness a Clinton campaign would necessarily bring. I never considered that she'd be the one to start it. As a strategy I suppose it makes sense. The Clintons have only ever been embattled. Maybe her and Bill's attacks on Obama were a way of signalling that she's not going to be a patsy and if the GOP want to rumble, she'll be ready. But if that was the plan, it backfired. Not to mention, I think there's a general sense that a candidate who focuses on dirt is generally one with a paucity of ideas. (Hi, GWB). Hillary Clinton has plenty of ideas, good ones. And if she wants to be President, then she needs to get her act together. I think the negative reaction to what happened last week is yet another signal that the people, and even the party insiders, are ready for a change. We'll see if Clinton has what it takes to rise about "business as usual" and position herself as an agent of change. It might be too late.

This takes me back to where I started. As it stands, John Edwards isn't going to be the candidate but he'll have enough delegates to make one of the other candidates very happy. (Strictly speaking, his delegates aren't bound to support whoever he endorses, but most of them probably will). The net result of this scenario will likely be a very nice cabinet post in the new administration. Which would be a perfectly fine use of his talents. But I don't want to be a token supporter. Which is why I'll be caucusing for the next President of the United States, Barack Obama.

In another note, Shrub's last State of the Union speech is tonight. Halle-freakin-lujah. Look for lots of talk about stimulus packages and some smoke and mirrors about how our economy is actually stronger than we think it is, how well *cough* we're doing in Iraq and maybe a little sumpthin sumpthin about what a threat *cough cough* Iran is to our interests. Yawn. Myself, I'm going to be interested to see how many times the cameras shoot to Obama. I suspect he will be wearing a blue tie.



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Friday, January 25, 2008

Look Ma!

Here's the thing: I'm so proud of myself for figuring this out that it is trumping my self-pride. For lo, if I had any pride I would wait until I looked better to actually inflict myself on you like this. But the "tee" factor in having actually made a movie is just too much to bear. So grab some popcorn and enjoy my first foray into video blogging.


video

And remember what Thumper's daddy always said, "If you can't say sumpthin' nice..."

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Time for Another Steaming Cuppa

Crap.


I know it is winter. I know that it is around about this time that contagion flourish and people succumb to same. But it always annoys me when I get sick right around this time, which I do just about every other year, what with it being the weekend of The Child's birthday and arrangements needing to be made. Lord, one year...I think it was her 5th birthday...I was so sick that I had to call her godmother to help. I muddled through and as soon as her party was over I took to my bed. Later I was watching video of the party and I was all, "They were there?" and "That happened?" and "God-dad played his bagpipes?" I barely remembered a thing. That's sick.


This isn't that sick but it's day two of a brain tumor plus all the snorting afflictions I've been coping with all week and I'm in a right foul mood about it, let me tell you.

At least my hair is awesome.

Point is, must muddle through and accomplish one or two things before returning to the sanctuary of my bed, including devising some sort of decoy gift because the laptop she's getting for her present hasn't actually been ordered yet. I did pick up those High School Musical socks for her yesterday...

No, she doesn't read my blog.

Crazy, right? If you were 14 and your mom had a blog wouldn't you totally be checking it out to see what she was saying about you? Me too! The Child, apparently, did not get our paranoid gene.

Also, and this has nothing to do with anything, but I'm about ready to start slapping people. Hillary and Barack are both pissing me off and they'd better knock it off and get back to the issues. In other political news, I saw part of the Republican debate last night and would just like to say that Mitt Romney still makes my skin crawl.

Right. Here's a little song. Has nothing to do with anything. I just like it. And dang, is that Sling on the bass? Dude! Cool jacket. Do you still have the number for the drummer? He's cute.


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The American Breed "Bend Me, Shape Me"

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Helpful Auntie

This is a test post. I am teaching my brilliant niece Emma, who I call Jane Austen, how to embed things in her blog. Please be patient.

Here's something about her you probably don't know. She loves Jim Halpert. She is a lot like her auntie.

Another thing you should know about her is that she really loves music. Like this song by Queen and David Bowie. Oh, that girl. She loves the classics. I adore that about her.


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Queen & David Bowie "Under Pressure"

I enjoy my niece very much. When she was little she was my favorite. She used to come and spend the weekend with us. I have many cute stories about that. Like the time we took her to see "Aladdin". She was all of 3. She was scared of Jafar and spent most of the movie on my lap. She thought it was a little icky when Aladdin and Jasmine were taking a shine to each other but at the end of the movie, when they kissed, she clapped her little hands and exclaimed, "Oooh! Pretty! Pretty!"

She was adorable.

She also had quite a thing for Wendy in Peter Pan and she could walk a plank with the most impressive air of little girl bravery you ever did see. Yep. Ador. A. Bul.

Now she's grown up and she's still quite adorable. Smart and funny and ever so talented. I'm very proud of her.

Now she can be proud of me, too, because I've shown her nifty tricks for enhancing her blog experience.

Thank you for your patience.

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Isn't it Iconic, Don't You Think?


We open on Victorya making breakfast. Sweet P is getting ready and V keeps asking her little questions like, "Would you like some toast, Kit?" to which P would mournfully respond, "My name's not Kit". I don't think this was an "all blonds look alike" thing on Victorya's part, but rather the editors' way of letting us know how much all the designers miss my little Kit Kat.

Off we go on a field trip with The Gunn, to a pier on the East River. "We're going to be designing cement galoshes", opines Teddybear Chris. The Gunn giggled. No. Rather, the designers were taken to a Port Authority garage and told that inside were the raw materials for their next challenge. The doors open to reveal 500 pairs of Levi 501 jeans in a range of colors and washes, some jean jackets, plus bolts of white cotton. The designers have 3 minutes to grab whatever they can and then have one day to create "an iconic denim look, of the designer's choice" that will display the essence and truth of the Levi's brand. OK, I kinda made that up a little bit. I'm just a little over the use of the word "iconic".

Notable moments during the grab-fest: Sweet P lost a shoe and got a dirty foot; also dropped some of her jeans and got them dirty. Victorya was a bitch. Every time she saw a pair of jeans on the ground she was all "Those are mine. I think those are mine". She later admits to being competitive. Really? I had not noticed.

Back at the workroom the first thing I'm thinking is "what will Rami do?" You cannot drape denim and, as we've seen thus far, that's pretty much his signature move. He then gave us a little treatise on how growing up in the political-cultural milieu that is Jerusalem he a) took to drawing to escape the pressures and 2) doesn't think like an American. Whatever. Having decided last week that he's an arrogant poohead, I don't really care. Broker peace in the Middle East, Rami, and then we'll talk.

Ricky starts where Ricky always starts, with a corset. Now let's be clear. I officially hate him now. He shouldn't still be in this competition given his consistent failures, when more talented designers have been auf'ed for one mistake. So he could pretty much have made the most fabulous thing in the lineup and I would have been prone to hate it because I'm completely subjective like that. And all I could think as he's making his corset is, "Dude, enough of the freaking lingerie already". That's would be highly amusing later in the evening.

There was a little tit-for-tat between Chris and Christian (who you'll recall worked so beautifully together last week), when Sweet P. asked for advice on how to clean her denim, an exchange which ended with Teddybear saying, "It's so cute to see youth". Remember how I said Christian seemed chastened by not always being in the top, etc. etc. etc.? Well, that would appear to be a trick of editing because last night we were treated to a good minute or so of Christian just going on and on and on and the other designers grumbling, rolling eyes and generally being fed to the teeth with his arrogance. (A word used frequently by the other designers). "Give him a bottle and send him to bed," said Chris.

It makes me sad. There's such a huge difference between confidence and arrogance. I was hoping Christian was learning that but alas. Still, I no longer want to slap him all the time, even though the people who are living and working with him 24/7 clearly do. As is their right.

Jillian decided to make a coat. She made a coat last week. A fabulous coat. But let's face it, denim does not lend itself to loose construction. It is too bulky. Women don't like to look bulky. You know that. Jillian gets snaps for pulling apart a mess o' jeans and reconstructing them but the enterprise looked doubtful. She makes awesome dresses. She should have done that. She approached the project in that tentative way she has, fussing over details in a manner that was destined to leave her, once again, sewing until the last minute. I worry. Meanwhile, she notices that Victorya too has decided to do a coat and it annoys her. Annoys her a lot.

While all the other designers are ripping and shredding and reinventing, Victorya takes an existing jacket and starts adding stuff to it. Watching her in these last weeks, I've always been a little doubtful about her ability to truly innovate. This was a classic example.

Christian too is doing a jacket but he is being fierce about it. Having seen a "trucker jacket" in the Levi Look Book, he starts on a denim ensemble that is totally made from scratch. Including, my friends, a pair of jeans. Yes! He made jeans out of jeans. He used sleeves from a jacket to make the below the knee part of the jean. It looked awesome.

Sweet P decides to make a wedding dress. Bold.

We learn that Chris talks to himself, and to his garment, while he sews. Kinda crazy, kinda cute.

Meanwhile, there is some obvious tension whenever Ricky is nearby. Christian riffs on the fact that he really doesn't deserve to be there, that his looks are always in the bottom, that he's a one-note designer, etc. etc. etc. Couldn't have agreed with him more. And Chris noted that it's hard when your favorite people are leaving, with a scathing look in Ricky's direction.

Ricky responds in the confessional, noting that he knows the other designers don't think he deserves to be there. He says he doesn't think they realize how much experience he has and then proceeds to list his CV, which is chock full of impressive names. But everything he did, for every designer he named, was lingerie. Just saying.

The Gunn Review:

Ricky: "Stunning, deliberate". Really, Tim? Does he have pictures of you, too? Say it ain't so.

Chris: The Gunn took exception to a detail on Chris' dress, something that had the effect of a little gutter running down one side. It wasn't heinous but The Gunn didn't like it. Chris did and got a "carry on".

Jillian: "You have a way to go". No duh.

Rami: "This has the potential for blowing them away". Again, I'm thinking The Gunn didn't get enough sleep the night before.

Victorya's coat is deemed "patchworky". Ain't that just the kiss of death?

The best exchange was with Sweet P. "It's a wedding dress!" she chirps brightly. "Um hmmm," says Tim, hand on chin. "Is it scaring you?" asks the P. "Um hmmm," says Tim. He then tells her that it looks like a "happy hands at home granny circle" dress. Where does he get this stuff? The P, however, is not arrogant. She notes that she totally trusts Tim's opinion (smart girl) so when he gives her the words-to-live-by instruction to "resolve the skirt", she listens and begins to turn the wedding dress into a day dress.

Jillian is melting down. She's complaining about having no time and Chris wisely admonishes her "If you don't understand the situation by now you're refusing to learn". She keeps cutting her fingers on the sewing machine and breaks down. Rami and P sweetly try to buck her up.

At the runway we learn that there is no longer any immunity for challenges going forward. Guest judge is Caroline Calvin, Senior VP for Design with Levis.

As the runway began, I admit to a great deal of "meh" on my part. Denim, as I've noted, doesn't flow. Runways are all about the movement. The looks are, necessarily, fairly tailored and stiff. This is one time when the pictures are probably going to do more justice to the designs.

The judges thought Christian's look was "innovative" and that he did a "brilliant" job of tailoring. Remember, he remade these garments from jeans. If we're going for "iconic", I think you've got yourself a winner right here:

Chris' "little blue dress", however, was called "dated, not finished" and Heidi said it looked "home sewn". Ouch.

Dated, perhaps. But the Teddybear still gets snaps from me for moving so far away from his costume design roots in the last 3 challenges. (The avant garde thing doesn't count because it was supposed to be costume-y).

Rami's look was called "fun". Really? Kors liked the use of zippers as detail. Really? Personally, this is reading "codpiece" to me:

But I have to agree with Nina, who noted that she was "really happy" to see something from him other than drapes.

Ricky described his look as a "cocktail" dress. The judges Loved. It. Well, of course they did. Hi, photos with farm animals. Kors said it looked like Amy Winehouse. That's supposed to be a compliment? In his delirium, he went on to say something completely bizarre about how he'd been waiting and waiting to see evidence of Ricky's lingerie background "and now we have it". Hi. Did you not notice the collection of slips he's been making all season? I swear, these people are not watching the same show I am.

Personally, I look at this and see a Craigslist personals ad:

Hotbunny249 wants to meet !!!YOU!!!!

Ricky, of course, just cried and cried and cried and the judges were all sweetly inquiring "what's that about" and he talked of the roller coaster of the competition. Hey, Ricky, you've been riding the crazy train all season.

Heidi told Jillian that she'd loved her coat from last week but "today I'm not so much in love". Nina felt it was overly complicated and Kors said it made her model look "not fabulous".

I really liked the sleeves on this but it is, fundamentally, a big denim mess. Emphasis on "big".

Sweet P's dress, on the other hand, was "super chic" and possessed of "slimming voodoo". That's a good thing. And just looky what happens when you listen to The Gunn:


P managed to completely avoid Woodstock and deliver a very cute dress, which the judges felt could be dressed up or down and generally succeeded on every level.

Victorya got a whole lot of frowning for this:


especially when she mentioned that she'd pretty much used an existing jacket and "added to it". The judges felt she wasn't even remotely inspired by the challenge.

Behold! The power of illicit photographs! Ricky was -finally- named the winner for his homage to street walking and Victorya was auf'ed for her "dull and uninspired" trench coat. I was not happy with Ricky's win but I will not miss the Victorya.

I am now completely kerfuffled as to who the top 3 will be. Christian, for sure. But given that some of my earlier picks are now gone, I really have no idea. Sweet P and Chris would, of course, be my other 2 choices. I like Jillian but I think her time management issues are getting more and more severe and the only reason she wasn't auf'd is because she at least tried whereas Victorya didn't. But I think I'd be surprised to see her much longer. And Ricky? Well, based on how things are going, I fear he may well survive to the end. Which would be a travesty.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Over-using I Statements

I am very upset about Heath Ledger. Very upset, indeed. I was saddened by the passing of Suzanne Pleshette as well, because we love her, do we not? But the thing with Heath, well, that's just shocking and sad.




I am supposed to meet a client today but am sick. The Child and Spouse have already had this particular contagion. I fended it off prior to the weekend but it is here now, lodging primarily in my throat. The Spouse finds that amusing because I sound like Estelle, Joey's agent on "Friends".

"Joey, dahling, I have a job for you. How do you feel about getting naked?"

OK, that's not remotely funny when you just look at the written word. But trust, when I do it with my just-had-my-first-two-packs-of-Marlboro's-for-the-day voice, it's funny.

Point is, I think I should probably stay home and drink more honey and lemon and maybe I can see her tomorrow.




I love my superfantastic hair but as is the way of all haircuts, I had to wash it and now it's not quite as superfantastic. I need a flat iron, apparently. Rats.





I was trying to sleep the other night while The Spouse was watching a show about what would happen to the earth if humans were suddenly gone. It's the sort of show that I hate most. First, they decided that they had to set up the circumstances by which there would be no more humans, which involved Mayan calendars and Revelation and Nostradamus and chicken innards all mooshed together.

(BTW, apparently we only have 'til 2012, so I'm saying, get out there and drive up those credit card balances and take that trip you've always wanted. What the hey hey).

Anygoo, then the show launches into the steps by which Earth will revert to an entirely natural "you'd never even guess they'd been here" state. And at first I was totally annoying The Spouse because when they'd talk about all the power plants shutting down and the world being plunged into darkness (except, apparently, where the Hoover Dam is, 'cause that sucker is good to go for a while without any help) and I'd say, "Who cares?"

Because, let's face it, if there's no one around to notice that the lights have gone out, it's not really that dramatic. Right? The drama was when the big plasma whatsadingy happened and we were all vaporized or whatever.

There was one thing that I thought was cool (and remember, I was trying to sleep so I was just coming in and out of all this). Apparently the cats are going to live in the high rise apartments and they might even learn to fly. I think that is just adorable.

Unfortunately, if it comes to that, we won't be here to see it. More's the pity.

(Meanwhile, I'm still puzzling over how it is that dogs, cats, rats and other such like are going to survive what we couldn't. I probably should have been paying more attention).



I heard a rumor that the writer's strike is going to be settled in time for Hollywood to have a proper Oscars ceremony. That would be pleasant, don'tcha think? Except now I have to steel myself to see pictures of Suzanne Pleshette and Heath Ledger during the In Memoriam bit.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Grace

There would be no point in detailing for you the various ways in which I was made to suffer when I was a Pastor's Kid. I know, from years of note-comparing, that my experience was not unique. Suffice to say, it was my introduction to injustice and the all too true notion that with some people you are "damned if you do and damned if you don't".

You must also understand that I have not spent the last 30 years sticking pins in dolls or in any other way stoking the fires of resentment. There were people, stupid and petty people, who made me very unhappy. I forgave them, a long time ago, for their stupidity and pettiness. I did so not because they sought it, but because it was what was required for the healing of my own sweet self.

But then, as an added precaution, I had not returned to the scene of the crime. The last time I darkened the doors of First Baptist of Whiney People it was because I was in my friend PHP's wedding. That would have been 1979.



As we got closer to the church, I found myself more anxious. It wasn't a hand-wringing, gut wrenching anxiety; more a "steeling oneself" sort of thing. I wasn't the only one. Dame Judi, Audrey and I kept saying things to each other like, "You're not leaving me, right?" "No one is to be left standing alone, right?" Walking into that church...well, the funny thing is that my impulse was to cross myself before entering...not as a remembrance of my baptism but to ward off evil spirits. I refrained.

We stood, looking about, seeing no one familiar and then I found myself in the arms of a young woman, a few years older than me, who had been one of the "newly marrieds" when we were first at FBWC. She looked exactly the same and it was so lovely to see her that I started to cry. Which surprised the bejeesus out of me. I honestly hadn't even thought of her in decades but seeing her brought back a rush of good memories.

As we made our way to our pew, this scene repeated itself...not so much with the weeping but certainly with the long hugs, the "oh, so goods" of greeting. This friend and that, people who had become adults, certainly, but who you knew in a second. Then the service began.

I am not a fan of the praise chorus. For those of you who don't know, these are Scripture verses usually set to emotionally manipulative music, sung over and over until the worship leaders get tired. They seem not to be bound in any book because the usual form is to display them from an overhead projector. The good thing about praise choruses is that you don't have to know them; because of their repetitive nature, one time through and you pick it up.

Having very snottily said that about this form of worship music I have to tell you something surprising.

We stood to sing the first song of the service...a praise chorus that Uncle Gib had loved a lot. There was a moment, somewhere around the 4th or 5th time through the song when I felt completely overwhelmed. I could only move my mouth to the words...actual singing became impossible. In that moment, something purely miraculous happened. First of all, the music sounded really beautiful to me...all those voices raised in praise. And then, I felt Uncle Gib. I really did. I could tell he was there, in spirit, celebrating with us his Homecoming...because that is what his death was for him. And then I felt something else. I felt good. It felt good to be in that place, singing with those people. It felt good to be in a place where I had so often felt so very bad.

The service went on and it was moving and funny and when it was over, there were more surprising greetings with long-lost friends. Warm embraces, loving looks, laughter. There was only one family of the "evil toad" variety who were even in attendance. The parents were as sour of face and disposition as ever (although the mom did shake hands with Dame Judi). Their daughter, who had once been my friend and likely would have continued as such had it been allowed, came up to me. We spoke very comfortably for a few minutes.

(Although I must confess to you what I confessed to Sean Connery: I am a horrible person. One proof is the fact that the whole time I was talking to K, all I could really think about was that she looked old and grey and fat and I didn't. I still have a few things to learn about grace).

We were probably there after the fact for an hour. Never even made it out to the coffee/cookie piece of business.

Then we went up to Gib and Nancy's for lunch with the family. DJ told me later that it felt wrong, that we were interlopers. I said no. Auntie Nan had wanted us there. We weren't loping. It just felt weird because Gib wasn't there.



The drive home was more subdued, each of us with our own thoughts. I suddenly felt very tired and was entirely too prone to tears.

We got back to the folks' house around 5pm. My plan was to drive home. Sean had to go put finishing touches on his sermon. DJ made me a cup of coffee and we had a "moment" as she sent me out the door. I got in the car and my stomach started to hurt. I pulled away and started down the main street and it was still hurting. Instead of heading for the freeway, I drove about town a bit, hoping I'd feel better. I didn't feel worse but better wasn't in the cards either. So I drove back to the house.

I had been steeling and bracing myself all day. Now that it was behind me I could relax. But sometimes knots hurt when they are loosened. I went back upstairs to find Dame Judi at her computer and told her I was staying one more night. And then we talked. Floodgates were opened. Dame Judi apologized for not having handled things differently and I told her I didn't blame her or Sean. She said something about someday understanding parental regret and I told her I already knew that feeling and we cried some more. And I told her about the moment of grace in the church, about how after preparing myself for the worst what I was met with was the love and affection of true friends. I'd been so busy arming myself to face the jerks that I never allowed myself to think about all the welcome faces I'd see. And there were so many more of those than the other. So many more. And for the first time in 30 years I was able to put to rest something I didn't even realize was still holding me, however slightly. I still don't think of that time as the best in my life, but being able to revel in what was truly good about it was a gift I didn't see coming.



All this wiped me out. I slept like a rock, waking early. DJ and I had coffee and talked about movies and family. As soon as it was light I drove home, still very thoughtful. A brief chat with the family on my return was followed by a 4 hour nap. And that evening I fell asleep at 9:30, in the middle of a Jane Austen movie. See? Tired.

I'm all back to rights now, but still a little amazed by the surprise of redemption, grace and forgiveness. Also, my hair still looks superfantastic.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Deep Thoughts Will Wait

I have one or two of them, but today is Martin Luther King day, which means that everyone in my house is here, celebrating the right to stay home one day in January even though they are white.

(I think it is awesome that there is a holiday honoring Dr. King but if we want it to be more than just a bank holiday then we have to connect it to some holiday things. Like food. What was Martin Luther King's favorite thing to eat, I wonder? What was his favorite dessert? I'm dead serious about this. I'm going to see if I can find out because I think MLK day should be celebrated with his favorite foods, a reading of "I have a dream" and perhaps an enlightened and vivacious discussion of what it means to us. That's how I like to keep holidays, dang it...eating and reflecting. The Spouse, on the other hand, is waiting for his MLK Day present. Oops).

Here are a few pictures from the leg of my road trip that involved my family. At first I was going to follow Sean and Judi down in my car, for the better making of my escape should such be necessary. But Sean swore a solemn vow that we wouldn't be staying forever so I consented to go along. My baby sister Audrey Hepburn came with us and that was enjoyable because she is very funny. (Martha Stewart was driving up from the other direction with her husband and George Clooney couldn't make it. In case you were wondering).

Talk about your flashbacks...riding in the back seat on a longish trip with the folks in the front. I felt about 10 again. So did Audrey because we amused ourselves with some faux-fighting:

"Mu-oooom, she's on my side!"

"Daddy, she pinched me!"

"Tell her to stop making faces at me".

And when we were bored with that we'd ask, "Are we there yet?"

We stopped for coffee and doughnuts (Sean Connery wanted to hit the road at 7:30am. The service was at 11am. It takes maybe 2 hours to get from their place to the site of the service. You do the math. But Sean, oh, Sean, he wanted to allow plenty of time for traffic (smart, I suppose) and be sure to find a place to park at the church (turns out that was really smart because apparently the entire narthex of the church was SRO). Still. So we killed time at the Safeway in Somewhere-Along-the-Way, Washington. I found an abandoned toy on the "Discontinued" rack. It was a little Christmas moose. It made me sad in the "Island of Misfit Toys" sort of way. I couldn't bear the thought of a poor little moose sitting on a rack and gathering dust until someone just threw him away. He was only $2.50 so I bought him.

I named him Gilbert the Christmas Moose, in honor of Uncle Gib.

Audrey figured out that he was a dog toy. That explained why he lay flat in a very unmooselike way.

We had some very nice conversations on the way down, important conversations about growing up and about things that are going on now. I really like my sister.I had to make sure I didn't get blood clots in my legs. It was a lot more cramped riding in the back seat as an adult. Geez, when we were kids Sean and Judi would just lower the seat of the station wagon and the four of us would roll around unfettered the whole trip to wherever. Stupid life-saving seatbelts.Oh, I got my hair done before I left Seattle. It is officially the best hair cut I have ever had in my life. I guess you can't tell from this how superfantastic it is but trust me. It's awesome.

This is the wall above the bed in the guest room at Sean and Judi's. Isn't it appropriate?

And this is their cat, Lucy Maud Montgomery, who they call "Puppy". (Senile, I tell you...the old folks are turning senile). She is a very pft-ty cat, who only likes Sean and Judi and merely tolerates a very few other people. But she actually liked me well enough. She enjoyed pushing her head against mine and also allowed me to pet her behind the ears.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Road Trip!




I have been downloading dozens of groovy videos for use in this segment but today I'm falling back on an old standard.


After picking up some groceries and maybe getting my hair cut and for sure picking up some control top pantyhose, I'm hitting the road. Down to Dame Judi and Sean's for the night and then on to the service for Uncle Gib on Saturday.I'm kinda excited. Not the actual mourning thing so much but the whole road trip bit for sure.


First of all, for all that I didn't legalize it until 10 years ago, I really love to drive. Love to drive in a Bruce-Springsteen-Thunder-Road-I-got-a-59-Chevy-with-a-396, sort of way. (Even though what I actually have is a POS Ford Focus. But you get the point). Also, I haven't ever gone on a road trip, even a short one like this, by myself. Not ever. I'm loving the idea of a few hours alone in the car...listening to my own tunes, cranked as loud as I want...stopping if I want or not....


It's amusing to be this excited about some "alone" time, when the bulk of my day is spent alone. But that alone is different, as it is hemmed with expectations and things which must be done for the family or the business. Even my sacred early morning prayer/poetry/coffee/blogging hour is spent with one eye on the clock, as The Child must eventually be roused.


But these travel hours today and tomorrow...they are just some little pockets of time with no firm expectations. I will, at some point, leave here and arrive there. It feels nice.


Meanwhile, The Spouse and The Child have made a date for Saturday afternoon. I love that.


Right. So I will be out of pocket this weekend. Call me on my cell. Not that I'll hear you. Because I'll be playing road trip music, really loud.




video


Blondie "Hanging on the Telephone"


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Project "Are You Out of Your Freaking Minds?"


Still reeling from last week's auf'ing of Kevin, I went into last night's episode with faint but beating hope. Alas. And also, alack.

The models strutted out at the top of the hour with big and in some cases, outrageous, hair dos. The challenge, to pick a model and using her hair as inspiration, develop an avant garde look. Teddybear Chris was thrilled as "artistic and conceptual" is what he does. As you would expect, the models with the most interesting hair were chosen. Ricky went last, again, and this time he managed to make his selection without getting too emotional. Just a little tearing up. Btw, he has now replaced Christian as the designer I most want to bitch slap.

In the workroom Tim gives more details, specifically that it's going to be a team challenge. Oh. Ouch. We hate the team challenge. No good can come of it. I began to eye Victorya for a glimpse of her claws, especially when she was paired with sweet, gentle-as-a-flower Jillian. Victorya eats girls like Jillian for breakfast. Victorya did what she did last time, being all passive-aggressive about not wanting to be the team leader and Jillian (who knew from experience that a) Victorya was going to do whatever the hell she wanted anyway and therefore she, Jillian, was b) consequently screwed either way) was equally reluctant to step up. They tossed a coin. Victorya was the team leader. Jillian was mostly OK with that, although as they sketched, she expressed a concern to Victorya that they be able to "solidify a story". It made sense at the time.

The other pairings were Rami with Sweet P, Christian with Chris and Kit with Ricky. $300 to spend at Mood. "Thank you, Mood". Oh! And once in teams, they also had to agree on just one model to use, further winnowing down to the hair styles that were the most, uh, inspiring.

Team Fierce (Christian and Chris) set right to work with 45 yards of organza and a great deal of humor. Mr. Thing, who seems just the smidgest bit chastened by the events of recent weeks, was actually entertaining to me this week. Not once did he make my palms itch. And he even made me laugh when he noted: "If I was a diva my name would be 'Ferosh'."

Kit had an idea of something that was all about layering and "nesting", since their model's hair looked like "a bird nest". OK. Ricky seemed to understand but noted that he didn't want the look to be too "Little House on the Prairie". I figured, hey, it's Kit. It'll make sense when she's done.

Rami, it turns out, is a complete control-freak-bitchmeister. Seriously. I no longer like him and he will not do for The Hat's husband. He was r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s. Almost from the beginning he started riding poor Sweet P, finding fault with just about everything she did or said, picking holes, griping at her to hurry up, fretting in the confessional. He was the poster child for Valium. At one point he even made Sweet P cry and that was just completely unacceptable. Not to mention, he had absolutely no interest whatsoever in her input. Rami, there is no I in TEAM. Jerkface.

Tim comes in on the second day with a "special announcement". The other models were not going to go to waste. Oh, no. The designers have to come up with another look for the runway - a ready-to-wear interpretation of the avant garde look. He noted that all designers have to do this.

That is true. You look at the big shows at the start of the fashion season and it's all kinds of craziness that makes you say "No real person would wear that". And they wouldn't. Which is why the designers then develop a prêt-à-porter line that makes their big ideas accessible to average consumers. Although, to be fair, they don't have one day to do it.

There's some panic, especially over at Team Last Minute, where Victorya and Jillian, who both admittedly have time management issues, aren't even remotely done with their first look. Much scrambling ensues. Each team gets 15 minutes to "caucus" (I love when Tim Gunn says "caucus") and then has to send one person to Mood to spend another $50 for the second look.

Rami continues to create drama. Sweet P suggests there is "too much stuff" on their avant garde outfit. (Tim later concurred). Rami just won't listen. Chris meanwhile says that he wants the judges jaws to drop when they see his and Christian's creation and at that moment the camera panned over their dress and my jaw, uh, dropped. It was WOW.

The Gunn Critique:

Team Fierce: "Staggering!" for the avant garde outfit, "dubious" for the ready-to-wear. (I loved it).

Team I Don't Have a Clever Title for Kit and Ricky: "Make it exuberant".

Team Crazy Rami: "Is it going to surprise them or is it what they expect?" followed by the ever foreboding "I'm worried".

Team Last Minute: "Fabulous" for the coat they were doing but concern that they needed to finish Look 1 and start on the second. (They did pull it out, with Jillian tossing off a little black dress that was perfectly acceptable although it was, by her own admission, an "afterthought").

By now Rami and Sweet P aren't even speaking and P tells us she wants to make the ready-to-wear as strong as possible in case they are in the bottom so she has something to fall back on.

Guest judge for the runway was Alberta Ferretti.


Rami's look was deemed "not avant garde" and Kors expressed the concern that all he does is drapes. (That sounded funny).


The P was very diplomatic about what went on when they were "working" together and it was clear the judges were, once again, not impressed by a team leader who ran roughshod over the team. Heidi noted "the only drama you gave us was between you and Sweet P".

Here's Sweet P's dress, in a photo that doesn't begin to do justice to how great it was. Nina said that this dress was more "forward thinking" than the avant garde thing Rami did.
Joining Rami and P at the bottom of the judging were sweetie pie Kit and Blubber Baby.
Kit's look was "pretty but not couture, not avant garde". That was the first assessment. Later they got real tetchy, with Ferretti saying it looked "like the Scarlett O'Hara, no?" and Kors coming back with "it looks cheap...at least when Scarlett ripped those draperies down she made something fierce". (I don't remember if he actually used the word "fierce" but all the cool kids are doing it now).
OK, it's a little Gunne Sax but it is not completely hate-able.

As for Ricky's ready-to wear dress, they thought it was "equally disappointing":Well, sure. Because it's frakking Ricky! Who was, as the bottom tier left the runway for the first time, gushing big fat tears.

As for the two top teams:

This was the avant garde outfit for V and J. Riffing on the model's stylistic mohawk, they developed something V described as "punk with an equestrian leitmotif". Okay. Whatever. It was awesome. And when the model removed the superfabulous coat, the shirt and pants stood alone as a fine outfit, causing Victorya to "joke" that since they actually created three looks, they should win. Christian, quite hysterically, rolled his eyes.



Jillian's ready-to-wear may have been an afterthought but it was darling. She used the same tartan that lined the coat to edge the ruffles on the dress. It was kicky and charming.



As for the boys, they got everything they wanted. Nina just about died when she saw this gown, which is, let's face it, nothing but fabulous.

And Christian's rendering of the organza/ruffle theme into ready-to-wear was enthusiastically affirmed as "chic".
I would soooo wear that.

For the first time in a while, the judges got the winner right, giving the honors to Team Fierce. Yay for them. Love me my Teddybear and like I said, not hating Christian so much anymore.

Going to the final break The Neighbor first noted that she is really sick of the Mucinex ads and would like them to stop. She then added that she was afraid for Kit.

"No," I said with authority. "Look, they totally messed up last week sending Kevin home. Ricky is in the bottom ALL THE TIME. His clothes are totally lame. Kit has been way excellent every time. There is NO WAY they are going to auf her and leave him standing again. NO. WAY".

I am totally right about that. In the parallel universe that is Project Runway, however, it was in fact the more talented of the two designers who was auf'ed.

So I have a theory and I'm standing by it: Ricky has compromising pictures of Nina and Michael. Farm animals are involved.

There is NO other explanation for what happened last night.

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This Is Starting to Be a Regular Feature







Thursday Placeholder. I should make a button for it. Oh, look. I did.

Quick notes:

1) The Child was finishing up her applications the other night (a painstaking process for someone with dyslexia and who has to also really concentrate, like a monk at vellum, to make her handwriting legible). She got it done, though, and smiled up at me broadly. "You know what I am really looking forward to about high school, Mom?"

I love these moments. She'd been copying out her very thoughtfully written entrance essay about her love of the arts and the importance of academics within the context of a faith-filled environment...

"What are you looking forward to, honey?"

"Decorating my locker!"

b) Then yesterday we drove up to First Choice High so she could drop off the last of her application bits. She went in by herself while I sat in the car and looked for my gas card which I had seen in the bottom of my purse just a few hours before . She returned, very pink and bright-eyed.

"Oh, Mama, everyone is so nice. There was a student who offered to show me to the office and when I got there I gave them my papers and then I asked if they had everything else they needed and then they checked and it took a while and I was nervous but then they said, 'Yes, we have everything! You're all set!' and I said, 'Oh, good. Now all I have to do is wait' and then, Mommy, they all applauded for me!"

After that she took a breath and then she started to quiver a little and dab at her eyes, having a very physical response to the relief of having completed the process. Because it's been arduous. It has weighed on her mind, sometimes more than I realized.

(Silly mommy...if it was weighing on me, surely it was having some effect on her. But kids, you know, sometimes they are very good at masking things. They watch Hannah Montana and listen to their iPod in the dark when they are supposed to be sleeping and sometimes snap at their parents but they don't come right out and say, "This is really weighing on me". And a better mommy would look at her own worries and wonderings and then go to said kid and say, sweetly, "You know, this whole thing sometimes keeps me up nights. You?" To which the kid more often than not will reply, "What? High school? Sheesh, mom". Eyes would probably be rolled. Can't really win for losing with them at this age. Just saying.)

Point is, she is finished, she's done the best she can do and all that's left is the waiting. (That and me making sure our priest's number is on my cell phone speed dial in case he has to pull strings. Oh, yeah. I'm not above that. At all).

I've got a few hours with my client this morning so you'll have to check back this afternoon for the Project Runway recap. All I can say is, remember the recap spoof JP did last week? Yeah. Well. Prophetic.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Word

I just had a complete melt-down over Uncle Gib, more than I've cried since I heard. Because at first it was all the "he's at peace now" and "the fight is over" and even a little bit of, "well, it's not like he was a young man".

But you know what?

All a sudden, I wasn't all that sure that I'd ever really told him how much I loved him. Or if I did, had I told him enough. You know?

And it's not like it matters anymore, what with him being with all the angels and saints and knowing all the things we know when we get to the other side. (If there is one thing I believe about 'the other side', it is that we are so much more understanding and tolerant because, hi, we're eternal now and we get it). I know he knows and all that.

But it makes me sad to think that I maybe didn't say it enough when I had the chance.

And isn't that just frakking what people say every time someone dies?

But whatever. Would it really kill me to tell people I love them whenever there's a chance? I mean, really?

My friend ChouChou, the one who's beat brain cancer TWICE, never, ever ends a conversation or a get-together without saying "I love you". And it's not trite and just thrown out there. She says it because twice in her life she almost didn't have a chance to say it anymore and she knows more than most how precious life is.

Oh, lord. I'm sorry. I think someone ought to cue the violins about now.

I'll stop. Project Runway is almost on anyway.

Uncle Gib

To begin with, Uncle Gib was not a tall man. He cleared 5 foot. Maybe. This is not the most important fact about him but it was the first thing you noticed so let's get that out of the way.

He married a very short woman, Aunt Nancy, and they had two not-tall children, a boy and a girl.

When Sean Connery left teaching to enter the ministry, his first post was the First Baptist Church of Whiny People. Aunt Nancy was the church secretary and she, one of the minority, what with not being a whiner herself, befriended Sean and Dame Judi. We were invited into Gib and Nancy's home and from the beginning we were all friends.

That first Labor Day weekend we joined them (and one other family) at the beach. I would guess it was those long days of walks on the beach that cemented DJ and Nan's friendship, long nights playing pinochle that cinched the deal for Sean and Gib. (It was important to me, too. That weekend the son, with his curly blond hair and sapphire blue eyes that twinkled with joy, became my first boyfriend. This relationship consisted largely of holding hands at church functions and long phone conversations during which we mostly breathed at each other. It lasted for 2 months but we always remained friends).

My memory is a sievelike thing, not prone to details. When I think of Gib it is like a slide show, still shots of all our times together. And there were a lot of times. Nearly every Sunday evening after church would find us a their house. I see Gib in his chair. He is listening. Sean and Nan were the loquacious ones. Gib and DJ talked less, providing counterpoint, but as is the case with such people, when they spoke it was worth paying attention.

Every Christmas eve of my high school years, and a few following, were spent with Gib's family. I remember light and warmth and laughter.

Oddly, I have no memory of them every being in our home. Surely they were at times but the clearest pictures are always at their house. It was a haven, a place where we were loved and accepted, part of the family and protected from the whiners.

Uncle Gib was very strong, a stocky, muscled man, who lifted weights. He was strictly tea total but loved his coffee. I see him in the breakfast nook, mug in front of him, crinkly eyes smiling at me.

Uncle Gib was very kind. I don't remember hearing an angry word leave his lips. He was a quiet joker. He never said it, but I think he felt badly for the lightening rod role I seemed to play. (There was a cadre of whiners who ever and always had it out for me. It was unwarranted. I was a good kid. A bit sassy, sure, but young, and otherwise a very good kid). He knew that and I don't think he liked how I was treated. There was always a smidge of sympathy behind his eyes, in the gentle way he'd hug me.

Uncle Gib drove the church bus that ferried the youth group to concert performances and meetings. He drove us on the long summer trips we'd take to work in other churches. Sean Connery always laid down the law for these trips: The bus goes north! In other words, we'd better behave or we'd go back home. But Gib, sitting in the driver's seat, was the one who enforced the rules, with firmness and jokes. If I got bored or annoyed, I'd go sit in the front seat behind him and he'd always jolly me out of my mood.

Uncle Gib was the do-er. If we went on retreat, he was one of the folks in the kitchen, making big tubs of scrambled eggs or piles of pancakes. He moved tables and chairs, helped hoist bales of newspaper from our recycling drives. But he was always there, always involved. He and Nan were sponsors for our youth group, mentors and chaperones rolled into one. I don't think they ever missed an event. They were our biggest boosters.

I only have one memory of time spent alone with Uncle Gib. That memory rolls like a movie. It was my freshman year of college and for some reason I don't recall, I needed to come home for a weekend but didn't have any money for the bus. Uncle Gib was a truck driver and his route brought him to Seattle. I went down to the docks and met him and he drove me home in his big semi-truck. It was amusing to see, this very tiny man, hoisting himself up into the driver's seat and taking expert control of that giant vehicle. We talked all the way home. Well, mostly, I talked. Uncle Gib was good with the leading questions that would set me going and the miles spun away beneath us as I chattered about life and love and education in the big city. He took me to my first truck stop cafe for lunch and so it was that I learned, first hand, one of the great truths of the universe: if a bunch of trucks are parked in front of it, you want to eat there.

Gib and Nancy were at my wedding (I think the only family wedding they missed was George Clooney's, given that it was in Texas). They met The Child when she was wee. But in my adult years, the bulk of our communication was three-way: Dame Judi telling me about them, them about me. Still, the bond was a strong one. I always and ever thought of Gib with great affection, doing what the young and callous do, thinking he'd always be there.

Uncle Gib was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and fought the great fight. Last week, he stopped fighting. He was not afraid to die because he had a very deep faith in God. He knew he was going to a better place. He died at home, in the arms of his son, surrounded by his family.

Rest in peace, Uncle Gibby. Thanks for everything. I love you.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Passage of Time

On the Feast of the Epiphany (the day the wise men found Baby Jesus), there is this very awesome morsel in the liturgy wherein a cantor gets up and "sings" the dates of the feasts and fasts for the coming liturgical year. (The Catholic church year starts the first Sunday of Advent. There are 4 weeks of Advent and then Christmastide so we obviously know what we are doing for those first months of the cycle. But heading into Ordinary Time we get this dandy little proclaimation to let us know what else is coming up. Like a coming attractions blurb, sung on three notes). Anyway, I love this little bit and sat eagerly, all poised and excited.

Then he sang that "Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten sea-son" (I can totally hear him singing that) was on February 6. HELLO? Consider. Epiphany is January 6. So this year, having just finished Christmas, we get one month of down time and it's 6 weeks of Lent? Wow.

With Ester being a movable feast it sometimes happens that Lent is early. In fact, Lent was early the year The Child was born. She was baptised at 10 days old because Lent was a'comin' and baptisms aren't typically celebrated in Lent and we didn't want to wait until Eastertide. (No, not because we thought she would die and go to hell. We don't believe that. It was because the Cathedral was going to close for renovations and we'd be worshipping in the gym across the street and we wanted her baptism to be in the same actual physical place where we were married). So anyway, there she was, the youngest baby to be baptised in Cathedral history but you know what? Her baptism anniversary is Feb. 6. Which means that as early as Lent was that year, this year it's even earlier!

The fundamental impact of this information was that I had to quick send out evites for Carnevale and start planning a menu before the Christmas leftovers were all gone.

In other "my how time flies" news:

1) The Child will be 14 in 11 days. (High School Musical theme for the party. Of course).

b) On the weekend I will be going to the Portland area for the service of a family friend who passed last week. He'll be getting his own post later but last night I was thinking about it and trying to wrap my mind around it. "Uncle" Gibby and his wife "Auntie" Nan are some of Dame Judi and Sean's oldest friends. We met when I was a sophomore in highschool. See? Long time. Now, I don't know if it's true or just the way my mind works but the last time I saw Gib and Nan, they seemed completely unchanged to me. Of course, that's sorta how I view Sean and Judi, too. Yeah, they are getting older. I'm getting older so they must be, right? And there's a bit more grey in their hair, perhaps. But really, unchanged. Still young and vital, as far as I can tell. (They will laugh at that characterisation but serioulsy, they are both now in their 70s and you wouldn't believe it to look at them or talk to them. See, youthful).

And I don't know if my similar assessments of Gib and Nan are just because they always "were" so I still see them that way or if they too were immune from that "getting ancient" thing but the point is, I was trying to think how old Uncle Gibby was and surely he was in his 70s, which sounds so much older than how I think of him.

Anytime, I've been thinking about his memorial service, which will be held (I believe) in the church we attended when I was in high school, a place I haven't revisited since I was in college. Not a ton of good memories, what with the whole PK thing, and I never really felt a burning desire to go back to the scene of so much angst and humiliation. (And yeah, it actually WAS that bad). But this is different. It's not about me. It's about honoring personal history and supporting a dearly loved family.

But I find myself wondering if I'll recognize anyone, besides Auntie Nan, of course. I think of my peers from that time and imagine who might be in attendance. We're all older. I don't think I've changed that much. Well, actually, I have. Frankly, I'm way more attractive now than I was then, which is a perversely comforting thought. But I am older. Will I be recognized? Will I know anyone else? Or will I have to stick close to Dame Judi, who has been in much more contact with that group of people, waiting for her whispered prompts so that I don't look like a complete idiot when someone comes up to greet us? Funny thing to think about, really, given how much a part of my life those people were once upon a time.

I really should get my hair done before the weekend.

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