Monday, November 30, 2009

I Did It!

I successfully blogged every day in November. Like someone said I was 'sposed to.

Of course, "successful" is a relative term in this case. I wouldn't suggest that every post has been riveting or oozing with import or even always terribly interesting. But the point is, I did it. And by doing it I proved to myself that it is not impossible to blog and have a job. (I know, I know, all y'all blog FROM work but I seriously never get a chance so there you go). That makes me happy.

Now someone needs to declare a month of blog READING every day.

I'd also like to state for the record that I'm officially sick of turkey and don't anticipate eating it in any form for several months to come. I do not, however, have similar feelings about cranberry sauce. Bring it.

Also, I didn't eat a lick of pie over the holiday. And you know how I feel about pie. But I recently reached a notch on the scale that I haven't seen since I was with child and that is so not acceptable. And dammit, if I'm going to meet Michelle Obama in May I am NOT gonna look like some fat old broad.

What's that? I didn't mention meeting Michelle Obama in May?

Well, I don't know for a certainty that I'll be meeting her but let's just say we're going to be at the same event and there's a chance. And if/when I do, I am not shaking her hand with flabby arms while wearing a mumu. So mama has to get herself moving and watch her caloric intake.

But if I can blog for 30 days straight and keep my laundry done and finally figure out how to keep the house in a reasonable state of cleanliness, I can get myself Obama ready by May.

What an empowering little exercise this has been.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kinda Sorta Feeling "Whatever"

Ever have one of those days when you just feel like you can't win for losin'?

It's like that.

It's also like 2 steps forward, 1 step back.

There are probably some other phrases that apply but I can't think of them now. You'll have to help.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

Despite the fact that we did not cook a Thanksgiving feast this year, we were the recipient of many bits of turkey. In fact, after dinner at The House on Thursday, our fairy godmother (the young woman who enlisted her caterer mother and a dozen family and friends to come cook dinner) sent home with us a bird that had not been entirely served because it was not done all the way through. It was a 27 pound bird when it started out.

There was some discussion today when The Spouse pulled it out of the fridge.

"We need to roast that off," I said.

"No, we don't," he said, picking off a piece of very pink meat.

"It's way too pink," I said.

"It's medium rare," he replied.

"You don't eat poultry medium rare!"

"Good point".

So he boned it out and roasted the pink meat and then took all the rest of the bird to make stock. He likes to use turkey stock for his enchilada sauce.

Not sure if we're going to have enough, though.


Friday, November 27, 2009

A Brief Announcement

I am happy to inform you that tonight, at approximately 6:34pm, PST, I felt within me the first stirrings of actual hunger. It has been over 24 hours since that was the case.

I intend to remedy that situation with something that does not involve turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy or cranberries.

I'm thinkin' pizza.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

We Gather Together Again

I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for The Child even though she hates me because I made her change her clothes before we went to dinner (cleavage).

I'm thankful for The Spouse even though he never had any intention of putting the giant turkey carcase we scored into the garage which meant I had to because I care more about the potential for food poisoning than he does and doing so put my dress at risk of a good greasing.

I'm thankful my dress didn't get greased.

I'm thankful that even though this was technically a day off I live close enough to work that MAB could call me, twice, to bring kitchen implements that were required and not available. (I'm also thankful for my work and for MAB).

I'm thankful that there are left-overs sufficient for a evening turkey sammie.

I'm thankful for Blogtopia and all her inhabitants (well, at least the ones on my block. Not so much the wing nuts or the spambot who has been littering my posts with Russian ads).

I'm thankful that Barack Obama is my President, that it's almost Advent and that I hid the cinnamon crystal cut candies.

I'm thankful for cold water that isn't diseased.

I'm thankful.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Almost Time for the Macy's Day Parade! (And if you say it like that for real I will mock you mercilessly).

My Facebook account is "temporarily unavailable". I know what that means....more frakking changes to the site that I am not going to like. Stoopid Facebook and their constantly-changing-stuff-all-the-time-when-I-liked-it-just-fine-the-way-it-was.

So I'll blog.

The Spouse is making dinner (Alsatian Choucroute...which is about the farthest thing from turkey that there is). The Child is "cleaning her room".

Tomorrow we will dine at The House with MAB and the families. Both The Spouse and I have to work on Friday so we don't have time to go be with all the fam (much to the chagrin of everyone but there it is). But we had fun at The House last year so we're going again. Plus the food is going to be spectacular and hello? I don't have to cook any of it. Gotta love that.

The Spouse just waved a smoked pork chop under my nose. I am not a fan, generally speaking, of the chop. I'll deign to eat it, mostly because The Spouse loves a good chop. But let me tell you, the smoked pork chops from Bavarian Meats are pink and meaty little slices of heaven. Heaven, I tell you.

On Friday I shall wear jeans to work and spend the day hiding in the office while MAB decorates for Christmas. She brings to that process a rabidity that is rivaled only by the likes of Martha Stewart. In fact, when it comes to Christmas decorating, MAB makes Martha Stewart look like a hack.

And speaking of Martha Stewart, my sister Martha Stewart mailed us a shoe box stuffed to the gills with her home-made holiday candies. There's English toffee (for The Spouse), and peppermint meringues and fudge and peppermint bark and she even remembered the cinnamon crystal cut candies that are my personal favorite. Isn't she the best?

I shall leave you with a little Thanksgiving question: what is your very favorite must-have food for Thanksgiving?

I'll start.

For many years I'm quite sure my answer to that question would have either been dressing (not stuffing....I don't like the stuff from inside the bird) or cranberry sauce. But one year a friend and I were invited to a couple's home for Thanksgiving dinner. These women were famous in our circle for their foodiness and wine connoisseurship so we were pretty jazzed about the invitation. When we came to table the food looked and smelled fantastic. We had grace and a toast and I brightly said, "Pass the gravy, please". "Oh," said my hostess, "we didn't make gravy. We didn't think it was necessary. I mean, who eats gravy?"

Oh. My. Yord. Who eats gravy? WHO EATS GRAVY?????

That was the year I learned that my favorite food on the Thanksgiving table is gravy, the luscious stream of goodness that unites all the other goodness on the plate, bringing out their essential and truest natures and lovingly encouraging them to sing. I am always and forever thankful for gravy.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'll Have the Arrogant Twit Face Omlette with a Side of Hypocrisy, Please

I was reading today about the Purity Resolutions" the Republicans are considering. Channeling the still-dead Ronald Reagan, they've decided that if you're with 'em on 8 of 10 major principles, then you can get money and support when running a campaign. If, on the other hand, you support 7 or less of the 10 points deemed GOP worthy, then you can suck it.

Now, first of all, I would just like to say that I was relieved to understand the actual nature of these "Purity Resolutions" because at first I thought they were going to go for, you know, "purity" and I thought, "Well, THAT would be very interesting, wouldn't it?" (Mark Sanford, Sarah Palin's unwed mother daughter, like that). And then I thought, "And who are the folks who will comprise this 'Purity Panel'"? You know, the folks who are so without sin that they get to cast the first stone.

But turns out this isn't about breaking any commandments.

The "Purity Resolutions" are about adhering strictly to a "conservative" ideology, btw, which is more and more wing-nutty all the time. (Go ahead, read the article. How much of that sounds like Dwight D. Eisenhower?) And all I can say to that is:

If they go through with that, the GOP will only demonstrate once and for all what most of us have been suspecting for some time: that they are revisionist, narrow, afraid of both dissent and debate and completely out of touch with mainstream America.

Also, if they keep this up, they are gonna be way surprised at how few elections they win.



Monday, November 23, 2009

We Pause for a Commercial

It's probably a little lame, jumping up during a commercial break to put something up on my blog just because I said I would try to blog every day in the month of November.

On the other hand, I don't care.

I love my little furry blog...the people I've met, the ideas that have been exchanged. And I don't want to stop doing it and writing every day this month, even if it's just "stuff" has been good for me.

So there.

Commercial over...gotta see how "Accidentally on Purpose" ends.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Food Note

The Dog is now 6-0 for rat slaying. His latest conquest came right after the Autumnal Feast ended last night.

Hit it out of the park, btw, on the feasting. Except I forgot to take pictures of almost everything. And the pictures I did take, Blogger apparently doesn't want you to see.

So I'm going to scrape more goose fat off the surfaces of my kitchen and try again tomorrow.

(Btw, The Spouse is making French onion soup for dinner. I am sooooooo excited for it's toasty cheesy goodness).

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Saturday, November 21, 2009


The Autumnal Feast is tonight. It usually takes place in October but with The Child's play and such we had to move it back.

One of the many areas of life that have been neglected since going to work is entertaining. We hardly ever do it anymore, and it used to be we'd have at least one dinner party a month, even if it was just pizza with another family. But it takes time to plan menus and issue invitations and iron napkins and hello?

But in my new found attempt to not suck at everything but work I spent some time thinking about this meal and planning. It might not be quite as elaborate as previous feasts but this is not about impressing the crap out of people. It's about gathering the usual suspects to celebrate the harvest and the change of seasons and 20 years of friendship. So the menu will be simple but it will be, I suspect, delicious.

The Boys always bring the first course, so that will be a surprise. For soup we're having pumpkin chili soup with pepitos and Parmesan crisps (nearly done). Salad will be butter lettuce, radicchio, bleu cheese and cranberries in a shallot vinaigrette (also nearly done). The entree is roast goose (The Spouse is in charge of that). Sides will be a fun little roasted potato thingy (Nigella), Brussels sprouts with bacon (the only recipe that lures me to actually eat Brussels sprouts) and a mixed grain pilaf (Trader Joe's - come on now, mama is not above letting someone else do the work if it's tasty). Dessert is, as always, apple Charlotte and The Child really wants to make it so I'll let her (with some supervision....caramel is involved).

Plus, I got my hair did today and it's awesome. I love my stylist. She's the best little hair cutter in all the land. Maybe there will be a nice picture tonight...I was thinking that my profile pic is getting pretty old.

Must toddle off to the co-op. Have a tasty day.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Work Hard, Get Some Rest

We were settling ourselves in at The Neighbor's when lo and behold, her satellite connection barfed. In our mad dash back to my place we missed the first few minutes of the show. More importantly, we totally forgot to bring the beautiful brownies she'd made.

It's too bad. We should have stayed and eaten the brownies because the first part of the show was thoroughly unspectacular. Carol Hannah pulled her head out of the toilet and applied "mind over matter" to gut through the final day but it was just sew sew sew, package package package. Even The Gunn's final "Gather Round" was lack luster. There's the obligatory 3-designers-standing-in-the-empty-tent-saying-"Wow-we're-really-here" thing and mayhem backstage before the show. (The Gunn was freaking. "I'm about to lose it!" he exclaimed, adjusting his glasses and holding his hand to his head. Models weren't in their looks, Irina was still frantically sewing...whatever. You know the show will go on).

So let's get right to it. The judges were Nina, Kors and Suzy Menkes, who I guess is a big deal in fashion but you wouldn't know it to look at her.

Althea showed first. She came out wearing Uggs (ugh) and made a very unexciting little speech. Kinda matched her collection. We were astonished at how much we did not love it. Her lengths were very weird and we found all but the last look generally boring.

Carol Hannah showed next and was much more charming in her intro. Plus she didn't puke. We LOVED her collection. It was cohesive and fun. The grey tulle thing that I loved last week walked like a dream and nearly every look elicited an "oooh" from us.

Irina's introduction was inarticulate and her collection was, no other way to describe it, disturbing. The models were wearing ugly helmet-y hats (about which I may have been biased because only hours earlier I had just purchased the most gorgeous and superfantastic black felt cloche hat from my brilliant friend, Tanya). We loved 2 of the coats in her collection but otherwise we weren't feeling it at all. And all that black was simply oppressive.

"I swear," I told The Neighbor, "if she ends up winning for that stupid sh&^ it's going to be Jeffrey all over again".

Time for the final judging. OMG, WHAT is with Suzy's hair?

All the designers are praised for showing strong collections with variety and diversity and were told "It was a great show...we're very proud".

Irina explains that her collection was about "shielding women to go out in the world" but still "be a woman" while wearing her armor. Oh. Armor. That explains the hats. But as Kors pointed out, "The warrior woman thing is not new". However, Heidi found Irina's collection "very coherent", Nina liked the t-shirts and Kors found her work "commendable". Nina did fix her with a gimlet eye and ask, "Why so much black?", the subtext being "I told you not to go there".

Carol Hannah won praise for working well with so many different fabrics and Nina "loved the first look". Heidi was astonished that her favorite look (a beautiful teal gown) was Carol Hannah's 13th design and Suzy "noticed" my favorite thing, which she referred to as "the pyramid dress". Kors said he loved the collection. BUT, what the hey hey? The judges biggest criticism was that the collection wasn't "cohesive". WHAT???????

Kors raved that Althea's collection could be "disassembled", that each piece could be mixed with other pieces. Nina got a last dig in at Irina by praising all the color. Suzy said "you saw the future" in the collection and loved her knitwear. (Irina made a poo poo face; remember, she thinks she owns knits). Nina's main criticism is that Althea perhaps tried to put out too many looks. (Meanwhile, Irina is working up a good seething at all the praise Althea has garnered. That was worth the price of admission).

As the judges confab they rave that Carol Hannah played with color more than the other two and that her tailoring was impeccable. Althea was praised for her ability to "translate what is going on in the street" and Nina says "We could shoot that" for Marie Claire. The judges loved all the things we hated about Irina's collection: the hats, the "edge" of the collection and though they found all the black "ominous" they adored the t-shirts.

Now The Neighbor and I are really scared. We brighten just a bit when the designers come back out and the judges tell Irina that while they admire her attention to detail they are "disappointed" with all the black. Althea is esteemed for her street savvy and Carol Hannah is admired for playing best with color. "But," Heidi says, "your collection lacked a cohesive thread" and so, she was out. Just like that. I begin to weep softly. She at least deserved to be among the last 2 standing. And then, sadly, just as I predicted, Irina is declared the winner. The word "spectacular" is used repeatedly and I just want to bash my head against the wall. I ask you, in what universe was that collection "spectacular". Boo and hiss. And oh, looky! Now her daddy finally takes her seriously. Whoo hoo.

Sometimes I frakking hate this show. Oh, what's this? Season 7 premiers in January? Fantastic! Now, if you'll pardon me, I'm going to go eat some brownies and try to get my grubby hands on Carol Hannah's grey tulle dress.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

4 Things

1) The Child is attending the midnight premiere of "New Moon". I am very thankful for adult friends who will do things like take my child to a midnight movie because I would soooooooooooooooooo not ever want to do that. As evidenced by the fact that I never have.

2) I bought a superfantastic hat tonight, from my neighbor Tanya who is very beautiful and makes fabulous hats. Photos forthcoming.

3) It appears that I will be spending very little time in Seattle in the month of May:

  • First week I'll be in DC with MAB at the annual Fisher House managers convention. (Plus time with Anne).
  • Second weekend I'll be in Omaha celebrating milestones with my Poodle.
  • Last weekend of the month MAB and I are going to be in Chicago for the opening of the Fisher House there. (Um, Buck...can MAB and I stay with you?)
(Also, I'm having linking issues so if you are wondering who the H I'm referring to in the above you'd want to click on my sidebar for "Anne's House", "JP is Still My Daddy" and/or "I Laugh Therefore I Am".)

4) My flu shot arm doesn't hurt anymore. Thanks be.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Need a Manicure

The beef stew pot pies are about to come out of the oven so I'll just say a few words.




Also, I would like to thank all of you for the delightful pies. They made me feel much better.

Except that at one point today I was over in the Director's office talking with someone and I mentioned that my arm hurt because I'd gotten my flu shot and one of the dudes from Public Affairs walked by and popped me right in my owie arm. And called me a "wimp". It's OK, though. When he wasn't looking I went into his office and licked all his office supplies.

I might need more pie. Or maybe some of the raspberry sorbet that's in the freezer.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I got my flu shot today. I've never gotten one before but it's strongly encouraged at work, what with being in a hospital setting, and it's paid for so I did it.

Now, even though I've been moving it around like a crazy person, my arm really, really hurts.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad for the protection and I now feel free to lick people who are coughing and hacking, but my arm really, really hurts.

Now that you feel sufficently sorry for me, please send pie.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Ah Ha

I had a break down.

Saturday morning I was looking at the family calendar and noticed that The Child missed an orthodontist appointment last week. And I lost it. It was an internal "lost it". I didn't go all medieval on the family. But inside I was crying.

"You missed a damned ortho appointment," says you. "Come on now".

Sometimes in life, it's not the momentous things which teach us. That missed appointment clarified for me a simple fact: the only thing I'm doing well right now is work. At work I do not lose paperwork, miss deadlines or forget appointments. At work I get things done. That is much less true at home.

Aside from providing a necessary swift kick to the hind quarters, it also gave me a topic of conversation with The Child, who likewise did everything required of her for her participation in the play but who has slacked off on everything else.

At one point in our conversation she wailed about how hard it was to come home and not have me there. "I have to learn how to make myself do things without you to tell me". Well, yes. I pointed out that this was going to be more and more the case in her life and that she did have to learn to manage herself. "But more to the point," I told her, "I've been using that 'I'm learning how to have a job and manage the rest of my life' excuse, too. But the fact is, I've been back at work for over a year. It's really time for me to get it together".

Over the weekend I didn't entirely succeed in digging out from under the list of neglected tasks. But I did scrub the bathroom within an inch of its life. That's something.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009


That's the sigh of relief I just issued.

The Child is done with her first high school play. It was very well received (they had to turn people away on Friday night...a first in her High School's history). She made friends. (Including a young lass named Rachael who is a senior and who drove her to the cast party after the show so I didn't have to...huzzah, Rachael). She had a blast.

But now it is over and we can get back to "normal". No rehearsals, no late night runs to pick her up after the show.

"Normal" will last for 2 weeks. Auditions for the spring musical are the first week of December.

I swear to God, when she gets her first Tony she better frakking remember to thank me.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Act II

You've seen those flash mob things on YouTube where, for example, people in a train station will suddenly start doing precise choreography to "Do Re Mi"? Or the Black Eyed Peas thing for the opening of this season of Oprah? Or even the wedding party that dances down the aisle?

Those are all very random and nice but this crazy play that started last weekend seems to be trading on that phenomenon, only without the wit or charm. I'm all for avant garde theater but this is getting ridiculous.

Today, out of no where, I was suddenly in the middle of Act II, Scene 1 of "NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME!" and it was all to do with the reasons why the main character is failing to meet her obligations, except all the reasons one way and another have to do with the mother in the piece. But the thing is that the mother basically can't win because if she takes an interest she's accused of smothering the child but if she leaves the child well alone she's accused of neglecting her. Once again the illogic of the piece left me completely baffled and wondering why they don't sell drinks in the lobby.

Oh. Wait. They do. Thank God.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Make. It. Work.

We begin this recap with a shout out to the delightful Ms. Amy Poehler for her charmingly bad impersonation of Tim Gunn on "Parks and Recreation" last night. It was a pleasant little amuse bouche before the big show.

Heidi greets our designers and the blondes are very giggly and Irina just smiles her secret smile. They have a few months now to work on their collection of 12 looks with a budget of $9,000. Tim comes out to tell them that words can not adequately express his pride in them and then he and Heidi march off to do a little silhouette dance.

As the designers are packing up there is still a fair amount of tension between Althea and Irina. Althea will "forgive but not forget" Irina's accusations of inspiration stealing. For her part, Irina is convinced that Althea and Carol Hannah are completely "intimidated" by her greatness. Irina tells us that she knows they are worried that she's going to bring her "big guns" to Bryant Park but what they don't know is that she's "bringing a tank". Someone call Hillary Clinton.

Tim's first home visit is to Carol Hannah, who has moved from Charleston to Huntington, NY. Driving from the Carolina's to NY, she stopped by Duke University and got a night-time tour. She was way inspired by the architecture and that's the basis for her collection. She's pushing herself; while gowns are her strong suit and plenty of evening wear is in evidence, she's also doing a pant, some tops and generally trying to break out of her mold. It looks to be a terrific collection. There is one particularly fun piece: a little number with a sculpted tulle skirt that has the look of a wine stopper. I love it. Carol Hannah wraps it with a blingy belt and the Gunn says, "Oh, no" and he poo poos a capelet for one of the gowns as matronly but basically he has nothing ill to say about her collection.

They roll off for meet and greet with her family and Mom puts Tim in a dorky apron and sets him to makin' biscuits. Talk about good!

Carol Hannah tells us she was a gawky, geeky kid (and provides photographic evidence) but fashion has freed her. Huzzah, fashion! Her family is all very lovely and supportive and as Tim takes his leave he and Carol Hannah hold hands in the snow and he tells her that she has "worked up a great collection".

Next up is Irina in Manhattan. She has a very yippy little dog with the shockingly original name of "Princess". Irina tells Tim that she is very inspired by Coney Island and wants to celebrate all things NY in her collection. She has some notion of these "boyfriend T shirts" with all these Coney Island images that are going to be incorporated into all her looks. I'm not actually getting how this will work; especially when she is also showing Tim all sorts of hand knit garments and talking about how the collection is "all about elegance". It actually looks terribly samey-same to me, perhaps because everything is black and grey and it's hard to even distinguish shapes. Tim seems underwhelmed and suggest that she "bracket this in your head: it must not look forced".

Tim goes to meet her family at a restaurant. Turns out that Irina and her sister are the great white hope for her parents, who left the Republic of Georgia to give their girls a shot at something better. Mom just knows Irina is going to do something stupendous with her life (no pressure) but is supportive. (Tim throws in that win or lose, Irina is a winner. Irina grimaces. Losing isn't in her vocabulary). But more to the point, she has daddy issues. Pops doesn't take her fashion thing seriously. She wants to win to prove to him that she's not a flake.

Finally, Tim is off to Dayton, Ohio to see Althea. He's all "egads" at her funky warehouse elevator. Turns out that Althea's collection is inspired by sci-fi movies and "strong women". 'K. She's worked up what I consider a very swell coat but Tim thinks it's too long and matronly. He has some pleasant enough things to say about some of her other pieces but believes she needs to "recalibrate; don't lose sight of who you are. Edit! Edit! Edit!"

They go off to dinner with her family, friends and corn fed boyfriend. Her dad opines that they always knew she was destined to be in New York and not stay in Dayton. Nice.

10 Days 'Til Fashion Week

Tim calls Irina to inform her that the producers (and more importantly, their lawyers) have decided she can't use her Coney Island stuff because the images aren't hers. Talk about recalibrating. And what an interesting turn for Miss "Everyone is stealing my brilliant ideas". (Insert Bart Simpson "ha ha" here).

Althea and Irina arrive back in New York and have a fake 'hug hug' moment because Althea still hates Irina. Aaakwaaard. There are some uncomfortable attempts at chit chat but Althea isn't playing. She doesn't trust Irina as far as she can throw her. So they sit more or less silently, tapping their toes and waiting for Carol Hannah to come break the tension.

But, oh no! Carol Hannah isn't coming! She's veryvery sick with a stomach virus and veryvery contagious (swine flu?). What can this mean? Oh, wait! Heidi sent up champagne! Never mind. While both the girls express some sorrow on Carol Hannah's behalf, they both have a glimmer of what a competition between just 2 designers might look like.

Next day they go to their big blue work room ("It's a calming space," says Althea) and note that it's weird to see Carol Hannah's collection and no Carol Hannah. Meanwhile, it's still awkward between the two women and Irina appoints Althea the "designated talker" to warm things up. Doesn't really work. Then suddenly, who should poke in her little head but Carol Hannah. No hugs for fear of contagion. Althea and Irina ask after her health but both are just a smidge disappointed to see her. Meanwhile, the poor kid is worn out and we're all wondering how she'll manage these last hectic days of finishing a 12 piece collection when she feels and looks like crap.

Tim comes to make another little tour of the collections. He uses the "matronly" word again with Althea, who is starting down a wicked spiral of self-doubt. Tim holds up 2 pieces and asks, "Is this the same customer as this?". She needs more cohesion. Irina smirks. Maybe because of the "borderline Hillary Clinton" comment Tim makes in reference to one look or maybe because zut alors! Althea has some knits. Later there is some skritching between the 2 about this because apparently Irina owns knits. The old wound opens right back up.

Carol Hannah, on the other hand, doesn't need to kick out pieces so much embellish what she's got. (Can you say "strong collection"?)

Tim is concerned that Irina's collection is "black black black" and she assures him there is a good mix of materials which make it interesting. She is struggling mightily with her finale look and as she and Tim discuss it Althea has her turn to gloat because while she may have some work left to do it is nothing like the sewing that still awaits Irina. Irina appears to be imploding. Of course, I reserve my giddiness. After 6 years of producer manipulation, I know that this may well all be manufactured precisely to make me think she's imploding. (Except, seriously, nothing is grabbing me out of her collection. And then I remember the Mariah Carey butterfly "holiday" dress she did for Macy's and I'm thinking, maybe she really is losing it).

I nap through the model casting.

Proving once and for all that they are neither dead nor the same person, Nina and Michael Kors come, at the same time in the same room, to visit the designers and offer their pearls of wisdom.

MK: "Show what exemplifies you as a designer".

NG: "If you've seen it before - take it out".

MK: "Take us on a ride"

NG: "Think about color - an all black collection is difficult".

And finally, "Go with your gut".

Know what Irina's gut tells her after the "all black" advice? She's going to ignore Nina.

3 Days Until the Runway Show
The designers are anxious about fitting their models as that inevitably will lead to even more work. Tim tells them that their "muse look" (the one that will be worn by their PR model) is the one that will go back to the judges for the final inquisition.

Heidi comes in with Tim for a little "gather 'round". Uh oh. She doesn't have any champagne with her. This is bad. Tim says, "You have demonstrated an ability to handle pressure. You'll need to harness that now....we have one final surprise".


The designers have to create a 13th look that must be cohesive with the rest of the collection and as well executed. Oh, and the "muse" model will cast the model to wear it. Oh. And they get helpers....the last 3 eliminated designers.

Even as the designers try not to cry, they chose their helpers. Althea picks Logan, Irina takes Gordana so Carol Hannah gets Christopher. 30 minutes to sketch, $200 to spend at Mood.

Althea decides to bring in a structured jacket. Logan is Logan.

Gordana sees her role as providing moral support for Irina so is big on the strokes and the "that's great" and "go fight win" cheerleading. Carol Hannah is focused on "whimsy" and Christopher intones that he isn't there to make decisions for her (thank God). She decides to go for a's what she knows and she feels she's adequately pushed herself in other areas of the collection.

They go to Mood to spend their $200 and there's a doggie named "Swatch". Cuteness.

Back in the work room we get busy. Gordana is hemming and trimming and generally engaging in whatever sweat shoppery Irina throws at her. Both Carol Hannah and Althea are hopeful they will get their basics accomplished and have very little finishing left to do on the morrow. The fateful "next day" should be drama enough but we get one more twist. The episode ends with poor Carol Hannah's head in a toilet. She's still very sick. How will she rally in time? (Those of you familiar with the enchanting Beatrix Potter story of The Tailor of Gloucester knows what will happen. Mice will come in at night and finish the gown).

Big finale next week. Someone hold back Carol Hannah's hair. I'll make her some tea.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

And Yet My Desk Looks Like I Was Very Busy

My biggest accomplishment today was taking a bunch of leftovers and turning them into 2 Mexican casseroles.

I guess that's better than nothing, right?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who You Callin' a Surrender Monkey?

Per our conversation the other day about haters on Facebook? 'K, so I was just reading through all the feeds for the day on my Facebook page. And I noticed something very interesting. A lot of my friends posted stuff about it being Veterans Day, most of 'em in fact.

Some didn't and that's cool. But interestingly, among those who didn't post a word about Veterans Day was every one of the Barack-Obama-is-Satan-liberals-are-driving-us-to-rack-and-ruin-and-not-only-do-I-think-George-W-Bush-was-the-best-president-ever-but-I've-totally-forgotten-that-it-was-the-Republicans-that-started-two-wars-squandered-a-surplus-and-drove-up-the-deficit Republicans.

Every. damn. one. of. them.


I'm not beginning to suggest that ones patriotism is measured by whether or not he or she posts something about Veterans Day on Facebook. Let's be clear about that. But there is just something damned ironic (don'tcha think) about people who pop off at will questioning MY patriotism who can't spare 2 seconds to thank those who made it possible for them to freely come back at me with a "why do you hate America" every time their status quo gets rattled.

Man, if it weren't for the fact that there's an authentic deep dish Chicago pizza about to come out of my oven right now, I'd be plenty bent.

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"In Flanders fields the poppies blow"

Last week we got a Presidential order at work to lower all flags to half staff through today, Veterans Day, in memory of the 13 killed at Fort Hood.

Yesterday one of the housekeepers and I were talking about it and he said, "What I don't get is we lowered the flag for them but the week before 5 troops died in Afghanistan. What about them?"

"I don't know if you've noticed this," I said, "but we tend to be a rather conflicted nation".

Certainly the lives of those who die in our wars are as worthy of flag-lowering as anyone. Strictly speaking, we should be in a perpetual state of lowered flags, certainly as long as any conflict rages and anyone is willing to fight in those conflicts. But we don't. The simple truth is that a soldier who died in Iraq or Afghanistan last week had already accepted the risks. It's not that we want anyone to die in a war but by its very nature, war kills. So troops will be lost. What made Ft. Hood so horrific is that it happened here, not in theater. You're not supposed to be taken out on base. (The fact that the shooter was a Muslim adds a whole other awful dimension to the tragedy; but I'm not going to get all Lieberman on you about it. That all needs to play out sans hysterics, if you ask me).

Today, as a proud employee of the Veterans Administration, I have the day off. And while it will mostly be spent doing all the sorts of things one does on a day off, I will also be remembering. For me, the memories will be of the vets I met during this last year as I served their families. Some of them died, many of them got well. Some of them are very young and broken in their hearts and minds, suffering from PTSD and still struggling to "come home" even though they've been back for a while. Some of them are in wheelchairs and still feeling angry and resentful at the loss of mobility. Others are in wheelchairs and set the standard for spirit, bravery and sheer gumption. I'll be thinking of all these men and women and what they have given for a nation that always seems to struggle to do right by them.

But I will also be proud to work for a government agency that does its absolute best to do right. The VA delivers some of the best and most cutting edge health care around. It works tirelessly to help troops re-enter civilian life. It continues to address the problem of mental illness and homelessness among Veterans. (About 20-30% of all homeless folks are Veterans). The VA doesn't do anything perfectly; human beings work there. But we sure as hell try. It's the least we can do.

Whenever MAB and I meet a Veteran we always shake his/her hand, look 'em right in the eye and say, "Thank you for your service". The other day we said that to a gentleman and he said, "I don't say that. Service is what is expected of a soldier. It's just doing our duty. What I like to say is, 'Thank you for coming home'. That's pretty powerful.

So to all among my bloggy buddies to whom it applies, "Thank you for coming home". And thank you for being willing to serve where others were not. And for those who didn't make it home, thank you. We remember.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


You thought I forgot to blog today. Wrong.

So a while back I said I'd write about my conundrum about haters on Facebook. I'll try that now. (Sorry it took me so long, Nic).

I have friends, actual people, who do not share my political persuasion. I can handle that. Each to his own and all. But it has put me at a loss when it comes to some of the things they post on Facebook. For example, I have a friend with whom I recently reconnected. I don't remember that he was a conservative of any stripe. Maybe he was and I just never noticed. (Although in the period during which I knew him I was about as radical as ever I was in my life so you'd think it would have come up). During the health care debate he was constantly posting status updates about "Obamacare" and skewing statistics and generally being fairly Glenn Beckish. And I never responded because, despite the wild inaccuracy of some of his stuff, I figure dude is entitled to his opinion. Except sometimes it got pretty outlandish. And what I really wanted to say was, "Remind me again who you work for?" Because he works for a giant insurance company. Hello? But I didn't do it because it seemed petty.

But it still bugged me.

I have another buddy who I really like on so many levels. In this case, I've always known my friend's political leanings and she knows mine. It's nothing to do with the core of our friendship so we let it lie. But sometimes she puts up stuff that is so outrageous that it makes my heart hurt. Seriously. Because, I'm sorry, when you start out a post with name calling that just tells me right away that we're not going to be able to have a civil conversation. Not to mention, it frankly disturbs me when someone who I know to be compassionate and loving sounds so damn hateful - there's no other word for it - when she starts talking about the President.

So what to do?

I think that if I have any charge to lay at the feet of the GOP, and I have one or two, it is this: when did y'all abandon civil debate and discourse. Let's disagree, sure, but can't we do it without the name calling and aspirsions and vitriol? Must we be so certain of our position that we can't entertain even a fair hearing of the other side?

Maybe social media - networking sites and blogs - have made it all too easy to spout an opinion without much risk of challenge. Typically, we all align ourselves with people who generally think as we do. Most of my friends on FB agree with my position about health care (and most other stuff). But it's not that there are people who disagree with me. Again, it's the sheer anger in the disagreement that leaves me completely confounded as to what to do.

In most cases, I don't do anything. I ignore the hateful posts and comment when they put up something pleasant. But that doesn't really do it for me all the time. Especially when the outrage seems so misplaced or perverts facts. But the few times I've come back with anything the response is just more outrage. And the only reason I feel compelled to respond in the first place is partly to serve notice that not everyone agrees with them but mostly it's to try and engage in civil debate.

And then I remember that civil debate isn't possible with someone who so hates this President that they call a health care plan he didn't write "Obamacare".


Bottom line, I got nuthin'. And I think part of the reason is because I'm a Democrat. Because truth be told, one of the things Democrats take heat for is not being tough enough. And that's deserved. I mean, seriously, who do the Democrats have that could be even remotely compared to, say, Ann Coulter? No one. Maybe Jim Carville or Rachael Madow or Keith Obermann. But historically Democrats are not out there in front of issues setting the tone or proclaiming the agenda. Not like Rush and Glenn and all those dudes. And maybe we need more of that but it still has to be truth telling and record setting straight stuff. If we're just gonna get down in the mud and wrestle with the other side and see who can use "why do you hate America" more than the other guy we still haven't gotten much farther ahead, now have we? (And of course, my deep desire for the debate to be more civilized might prove the whole Democrats-aren't-tough-enough argument. But again, if by "tough" we really mean being ugly and playing dirty, I don't want to be tough).

Consequently, I'm guessing that more often than not I'm going to be letting that stuff slide because I don't want to engage when there doesn't seem to be a point in engaging.

But that said, there's one thing I have been thinking about, and it's something that may be employed. Let me go back to a time, a few years ago, when I was visiting the folks. Dame Judi has picture magnets plastered on her fridge. Each picture is of someone she keeps in her daily prayers and she puts them on the fridge because she goes there several times a day and it's a good place to house such reminders. So I'm looking at the pictures and there in the middle is one of George and Laura Bush. And I exclaimed, "Why is there a picture of Bush on here?" (forgetting, in my surprise, that she likely voted for him). "Because," she softly replied, "Scripture tells us to pray for our leaders and that reminds me to do so".


And further more, yes. Admittedly, I didn't pray for George W. Bush as much as my Christian duty called me to do. But there's a lot of wisdom in the notion. First of all, if you're praying for someone, you really can't hate them. And hate is a bad thing. Second, my general philosophy of prayer is that you never know how powerful it can be. I mean, seriously, if every praying person in this nation was intent only on upholding the nation's leaders, whoever they might be and praying for them to be wise and good and focused and if we were doing that on a daily basis, who knows what could happen.

So I'm not going to be going head to head with most of my right wing FB buddies (who also happen to be evangelical Christians). But every now and again I may just leave a comment that says, simply, I Timothy 2:1-2.


Monday, November 09, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

You can feel it in the air, can't you? The tingle of anticipation, the look on the face of small children. It's in the lights and the decorations and, of course, the menu planning. Now the festive music of the season can be sung, the candles lit, the sport peppers sprinkled liberally upon the dogs...


That sacred three days when we celebrate the one and only, John Iwanski. The Box o' Gout arrived last week and tonight we will dine on Chicago style hot dogs (no ketchup, just a hint of celery salt) and sing Iwanski carols. Tomorrow night it's ribs, Wednesday we'll have deep dish pizza and then cheese cake to mark the occasion.

It is a time of good will, a time to focus on all things Chicago and the man who embodies, more than any other living person, the greatest that is the Windy City. It is a time to re-dedicate ourselves to the importance of intelligent smart-assery, wonkiness and wit...the gifts the great Iwanski shares with us all.

I just lovelovelove this time of year.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Dramatic Opportunities

I saw another theatrical performance this weekend. It was a pre-matinee show. To be honest, I couldn't follow the plot very well. It was about a girl and her fraught relationship with her mother...that much I figured out. And it started in a very prosaic way, as so much modern work does these days...with the mother asking the daughter to get up because they have to go to church.

The mother and father in the piece then went about doing ordinary things...drinking coffee, looking at their computers, showering. I wasn't sure at first what the playwright intended, unless it was to lull the audience into a false sense of domestic calm. Yes, that must have been it.

The mother had a line which she repeated over and over...."Get up, honey", "Get up, honey" and then, as the play built toward the end of Act I, the line became more hurried, less delicate. The "honey" was dropped as the urgency built. And then, the daughter entered from off stage, tousled and wrapped in a blanket. The actress, who was very good despite her obvious youth, immediately launched into a tirade against the injustices of parents, the weight of expectation, the exhaustion of being a teen-ager. "I can't go to church," she wailed. "I'm exhausted! No one understands how hard it is to be in a play!" (Was she breaking the fourth wall or was there a play within the play?) The character of the mother was, at this point, clearly left with no patience. "You knew the commitment you were making, you said you could handle it".

"I CAN handle it," cried the daughter. "I just can't handle being tired".

And this is where the scene devolved into a mess of illogical mystification. And shouting. Quite a lot of shouting. Although, I must give credit to the actress playing the mother, because she played this bit with a veneer of calm over a seething mass of real it was palpable in the audience.

The first act ended abruptly and due to a variety of circumstances, the 2nd act of "NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME!" won't start again for a few hours.

I'll let you know how it turns out but to be honest, I'm not sure this is a work that I find particularly enjoyable. I was discussing the 1st act with a friend at church. She too had seen the play, many times, and noted that she has even seen it enacted with a 22 year old player.

I did not like the sound of that at all.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Theatuh

Last night, in the most driving of rain, The Spouse, The Neighbor and I set out for dinner and a show.

Dinner consisted of the best burgers outside of city limits, the best onion rings anywhere and, in most cases, chocolate shakes. The joint, which is near the High School, is extremely modest. No tables (although you can sit at a bar-like thing and stare at the wall) and everything is packaged to go, even if you are staying to stare at the wall. But the food is generous (without being stupid big), the prices very reasonable and, as I said, the burgers are the best outside of the city limits.

Then we had time so we went to the Tully's at Fred Meyer and The Neighbor checked her blood pressure for free. (Look, I'm sorry. I know talk like this incites you to white hot jealousy but what would you have me do? Deny the glamour that is my life? It simply can't be done, I'm afraid).

As the rain still drove down in sheets & buckets and all other manner of household implements, we made our way to what has to be the tiniest school theater that ever was built. Indeed, I'm quite sure the history of the space has something to do with the word "after thought". I have been in pre-schools that have larger theater space. But it could be a physical illustration of the old adage, "There are no small parts, only small actors". For despite the diminutive size of the aptly named Little Theater, there we saw a very large performance of "The Skin of Our Teeth" by Thorton Wilder.

Do you know it? I wasn't particularly familiar...only the vaguest notion of something somewhat allegorical. Well, it is a delight. It is mostly funny, satirical even, with just enough drama to provoke thoughts. (The comedy provokes thoughts, too).

The production we saw last night was very ably performed in all respects and downright impressive in many others. (The little kitten who played Sabina, for example, just owned her role). Of course, we weren't there for any of that. We were there in support of The Child's debut in a high school production. She plays The Dinosaur. She is very cute and funny. (Only one line, repeated a few times...mostly it is a physical comedy role. There was a moment last night, too, when something went slightly wrong...a bone thrown a little too hard...and both the actor who threw and the actor who was to fetch (The Child) improvised their way through it seamlessly. (Which made me inordinately proud....that's training for you, people).

Because The Dinosaur dies in the first Act (not giving anything away) The Child also serves as an Usher, runs the sound board and helps with a special effect in Act III. Then has to quickly change back into her dinosaur costume for her curtain call with The Mammoth.

She has been having a blast being in the production. She's the ultimate team player....helping wherever she can, assisting with props (The Gypsy is wearing my Jai Ho sandals) and generally throwing herself into the experience. Because, you know, this is her chosen field. She wants to be an actress. For real. And she is up for everything she can do to learn about the craft.

After the show I gave her a bouquet of tulips.

She's already working on her audition pieces for the next production: "Fiddler on the Roof".

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Friday, November 06, 2009

One Last Chance

Althea and Irina are no longer speaking. Aakwaard. Meanwhile, all alone in his apartment, Christopher opines that it's "odd that I'm the last boy standing". Very odd indeed, what with his not-much-talent thing. Gordana is all about how this is her last chance to do something big, hoping to succeed to bring honor to her family and her country etc. etc. and The Neighbor sighs, "I heart her".

Heidi tells the designers they will be meeting Tim at "an iconic place, rich in culture, with priceless views". "Malibu?" says The Neighbor. (She's a SoCal girl). They go, in fact, to the J. Paul Getty Center where Tim is standing with Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of LA. That's pretty cool. Btw, I myself have never been a fan of Los Angeles but if I ever had to spend time there I think I would spend a lot of it at the Getty Center. It is a gorgeous, gorgeous place. The designers are to create their last pre-Bryant Park look using the Center as inspiration. They have 30 minutes to tour (no where near long enough), 30 more minutes to sketch and then get 2 days to complete their look. The models come along for the ride and off they go. Irina and Gordana are inspired by paintings and Althea by the architecture of the Center. Carol Hannah falls in love with a huge antique bed all bedecked with drapery and feathers and Christopher? Well, Christopher is gaga for a fountain full of rocks covered with algae. You just know this is going to end badly.

The designers get $300 to spend at Mood. While there Irina considers some fur and Tim tells her it looks like a "giant Scandinavian rabbit". We giggle. Back in the work room Tim states the obvious: this is their last chance and some of them will not be going to The Park. With a stirring "Invest in the success of your own work and take risks!" he leaves them to their drama.

Mean Girls Redux
Althea is feeling like a fifth wheel and Irina is bitching about how Althea has commandeered three work tables (hey, there's plenty of 'em). "Her Highness needs to iron," she snarks. Last week a new reader called me to task for using the word "evil" to describe Irina. Hyperbole aside, she is not a nice person. Remember the lunch room scene last week, when she was all buddy buddy with Althea? Right before she tried to throw her under the bus? Well, this week she's sucked in Gordana, who inexplicably seems to delight in standing aside with Irina gossiping and twittering about the other designers, particularly Carol Hannah. Really? As MAB would say, come on now.

Tim's Walk Around
Christopher describes the fountain rocks to Tim and how he found the algae on them beautiful. "Christopher. What?" says the Gunn. Exactly. "Keep an editing eye," he warns.

Carol Hannah is making a beautiful drapey dress and working on the bed inspired embellishments. Tim cautions her about her plans for sweeping decoration across the bodice. And for the first time ever we find ourselves in disagreement with The Gunn. The dress needs something to capture the grandeur of the inspirational bed and if there is any designer capable of editing tastefully it's Carol Hannah. But she listens to Tim and forgoes her decorative scheme.

The inspiration for Irina was a painting of chubby girls in diaphanous gowns and she tells Tim that she's going for something "sheer and fleshy looking". "Fleshy?" queries The Gunn. He doesn't see "diaphanous" in her garment and is not at all feeling the rabbit skin. "It looks like road kill," he tells her. And with the dress the look inspires only a "post apocalyptic moment". It's all true and the more delightful because anything that rattles Irina's cage makes us happy.

He greats our next designer with a "Wow, Althea. Talk to me". Her look is based on the architecture of the center, which she is representing with many, many pleats. Sadly, her fabric selection prefers not to be pleated and the effect is, as Tim puts it, "a panel of puckering". He cautions that she needs to bring "a critical eye to this".

Gordana's inspiration was a Monet painting of a cathedral, all watery and grey and gorgeous (I love Monet) and she gets extremely emotional about her spirituality and the angelic colors of the painting and how inspired she is. Neither Gordana nor Tim know how the judges will feel about it but The Gunn is suitably impressed.

The models come in for fittings and Christopher tells us that he knows he's the "odd duck" but then proceeds to give himself more credit than he deserves. "I've only been in the bottom a couple of times". If by "a couple" he means 5 then, yes.

Everyone has their "this is the last challenge" Nervous Nelly moment and Gordana sums things up with a "I have done already what I could have done". After their fits of nerves all the designers weigh in on each other's looks. It sounds like this: smack, smack, smack. (Oh! And further proof of Irina's evil? She says something about how she's the kind of person who isn't afraid to say something to your face (except that, as we already know, she enjoys talking behind your back, too). We've all known people like this. Anyone who is perfectly delighted to say something intentionally mean to you and cover it with a gloss of "I'm just being honest" is not a nice person. She will also copy your test answers and steal your boyfriend. Some people just never leave junior high.

The Runway
The judges are Nina, Cynthia Rawley and Cindy Crawford. Whatever.

Althea's dress doesn't read as puckery as it could have but it is overall not stunning.

Carol Hannah's gown is too simple (she really shouldn't have listened to Tim) but it is lovely.

Christopher's gown is unflattering and stiff. MAB thinks the bodice is pretty but there is no movement in the garment and sure enough, he's splashed funky green smears on it to represent his beloved algae.

Gordana's mostly grey gown flows beautifully and hints well at the ethereal cathedral of the painting but The Neighbor correctly notes that the pinkish fabric that runs along the front is suggestive of a vagina.

Most horrible, in our collective view, is Irina's sack. MAB thinks it looks like a parachute, down to the stringy bits at the back. It is nothing like the elegant work she's done here-to-fore. Eeeww.

Cindy tells Althea that she was "brave" to try all the pleating and Rawley agrees that it was "ambitious", Heidi sums it up as a "mess fest" and she is criticized for using the wrong fabric to accomplish her goals. Althea looks like a kicked puppy.

In a "what are they smoking in the green room?" moment, all the judges like elements of Irina's dress, except the length, which Nina says is "old lady". They hate the chunky big shoes (oooh, someone didn't use the Macy's accessory wall thoughtfully). They have the model take off the shoes and her other adornments and all declare they now like the sack much better. It is still a sack, my friends.

Moving on to Gordana, the judges clearly see the brushstrokes of the painting and declare that her design most closely connects to her inspiration. Nina, however, is still not sure that she's "taking chances" and notes that the back is not great. (It's not. MAB notes that from behind it looks like hospital gauze and the zipper is big and glaring). Cindy says that she can see herself wearing it, assuming something is done about the zipper.

Rawley tells Carol Hannah that the fit of her gown is "fantastic" and the details are "nice". Nina declares it "safe perfection" (ouchy).

Christopher goes on about his love of pond scum algae but while the judges like the top well enough they find the bottom fabric "too heavy" and then he weeps into his model's bosom because he has the ability to see the beauty in algae on a rock and no one else gets it. It's lonely at the bottom of the pond.

Then we get the awkward "tell us why you should go to Bryant Park and who should go with you" business. Irina tries to be human and emotional and gives an "I have a dream" speech. Hate her.

As the judges weigh their fateful decision, Nina says something very stupid. "Who is Gordana?" This is rich. Had she been at more than a handful of runways, she might know. And this is where, once again, we complain that the inconsistency in the judges panel this season has been a detriment to the show.

The Verdict
There are absolutely no surprises here. Irina is going to Fashion Week because she has "consistently performed well". Christopher is auf because while he has good ideas, he needs more experience. He cries. Carol Hannah is going because she is "true to her point of view". Althea's dress this week was a "mess" but she too is going. And Gordana is also auf despite her "gorgeous" dress, because she just hasn't shown strongly throughout.

This is exactly what we anticipated so there is a sense of let down. But now we get to go to Fashion Week and see some collections from 3 very talented designers. And this is me, still hoping for an upset. (But Irina is going to win).


Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Close One

Last night I thought my computer died. Little accident involving a glass of wine. Granted, the vast majority of the wine in question went on the floor but there was enough of it on the keyboard of the laptop that it started to make some very unpleasant and this-can't-be-good sorts of noises. So I turned it off. And was sad.

Then I was a little happy because I remembered that I have my own money now and if I need to I could replace my laptop without impacting the family budget.

Then I was a little sad because I realized any computer I got would probably come loaded with Vista. I hate Vista.

Then I was a little happy because I realized the way around that was to get a Mac. Then I was a little conflicted about that because I don't really like using Macs, finding them to be no where near as "intuitive" as everyone claims (or perhaps it's just that I've only ever been a PC kinda gal so the learning curve doesn't seem worth it).

Then I went to bed.

This morning I turned on my computer, without thinking...force of habit and all that but the dark screen, despite the appropriate blinking of green lights, reminded me. So I got some coffee and went off to sort through some stuff in the other room and when I came back what should I see but my login screen?

So my computer isn't dead and I don't have to buy a new one, Mac or otherwise.

Sometimes it's the little things.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I'm a Good Girl, I Am

While I could never lay claim to having lived a blameless life, I certainly have never been a criminal. I've had a few parking tickets...which I've paid. I think the only time I've ever even been inside a police station was last summer when The Child and I went to Forks, and since that was part of the "Twilight" tour I don't think it counts. I've never done drugs, stolen anything, lied on my taxes or taken bribes.

I'm one of those people who hears a police siren and immediately wonder what I've done wrong, even though I haven't done anything wrong and am, in fact, one of the first people to pull to the right so the vehicle in question can speed on its way.

I don't kick puppies, beat children nor am I a polygamist.

But yesterday, when I had to fill out the Scary Form for my FBI background check I was a mess.

"Don't make any mistakes," warned MAB. "This is serious".

That was helpful. Not.

After the preliminary "where were you born and when" stuff it was on to grueling questions like "Where have you lived for the last 5 years and who can verify that who isn't your spouse or a relative"? I've lived in the same place for 13 years. But all a sudden I wasn't sure when we bought the house or if the 9 came before or after the 2 in our address.

No pressure.

Employment history for the last 5 years. That was fun. Um, for 3 of those years I wasn't employed. (List someone who can verify that, who isn't your spouse or a relative or the person who can verify where you live). Then I was self-employed. (Verify that. I put myself. Because I was my boss. I hope THAT flies). Then I worked where I work. Sheesh.

Names, addresses and phone numbers of 3 people who know you well (who are not your spouse, a relative or anyone you've already listed as a verifier). Right. I didn't have my address book at work. So I had to call people. And my cell was dead. Fortunately, I have a charger at work, so there I am, leaning over weird because the charger cord is shorter than the distance from me to my computer, calling people and just praying 3 of 'em are available so I can type their deets into the form with the one finger I had available.

And then, at home, I had to dig out a second piece of ID because when I go to be fingerprinted today I have to show 2. My passport is expired so that won't do. I basically filled a file with a variety of ephemera, in hopes at least one of them is what I need.

And looming at the back of all this is the fact that a colleague recently had a visit from an FBI agent, checking into something (she still isn't sure what) that apparently came up in her background check. Which is only to say that this really is serious stuff. I know I'm lily-white from a criminal perspective but man, nothing like a 412 page form and the need for 2 pieces of ID to make a girl a little nervous.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

But No Flying Monkeys

Last night I had some time between the getting-home-from-work rituals and the go-get-The-Child-from-her-very-late-rehearsal-because-the-show-opens-this-week drive time. So I was sitting at my computer catching up on sadly long neglected blogs reading blogs and I had this moment where I couldn't distinguish the noise in the background. There were a number of sounds going on at the same time:

  • the thrum of the dishwasher (which is very low and thrummy since it's new)
  • the stove fan (because The Spouse made himself an enchilada because I wasn't remotely hungry)
  • the clippy-scritch of The Dog's nails (which are too long) across the marmoleum
  • the warm air coming through the vent next to my desk (which may have also been enhanced slightly by the fluttering of the bits of paper attached to the wall just above it)
But somehow none of them were that distinctive until I stopped to pay attention. All mumbled together what it sounded like was a big wind storm outside. But it wasn't windy at all.

And that, (the supposedly windy part) reminded me of the time when I was a kid and we had a big wind storm. Actually, I have a lot of wind storm stories but in this particular case, it was bad enough that Dame Judi had summoned us all down from our upstairs bedrooms, least a tree go a'crashing in the night. The power had long since blown out, of course. And also, of course, Sean Connery was gone (probably an away basketball this would have been during his teaching/coaching years).

We had a very large hutch in the living room (the Heyerly Hutch, which has a story all its own), which at the time was being used to hide the large piece of plywood that covered the spot where a door once had been and where no one had gotten around to fixing the wall. Dame Judi was standing/sitting near this as the winds blew and all a sudden the hutch started to tip as the wind hit the plywood, which blew in toward the house. Dame Judi leapt to the hutch and pushed against it, saving it from falling. Except the wind was still blowing so strong that she had to lean against the hutch for the rest of the storm to prevent a) the hutch from falling which would then be followed by 2) the plywood blowing into the room and smacking something resulting in C) the gapping hole in the living room wall that would then expose us to all the very harsh elements.

It seemed like the longest night possible, watching Dame Judi struggle to keep us safe even as we were worthless to help. (No one strong enough to spell her, no one big enough to be handy enough with tools and alternate pieces of wood to go outside and address the problem from that side). Eventually, Sean Connery came home and was able to do whatever he did to solve the problem (probably to do with power tools and more plywood) and then we either went to sleep in our sleeping bags, safe on the living room floor, away from the ravaging winds and theoretical falling trees or else the storm stopped and we went back to our beds. I don't remember that part.

I just remember one tired, frightened, frustrated mom pushing back on a hutch to hold back the winds and protect her babies. And it's something I think about every time the wind blows hard. And sometimes even when it doesn't.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Dio de los muertos

It makes sense that the ancients would experience these dark and eerie early days of November as a time full of spirits. The veil, they believed, between this world and the next became very thin, making it easier for the deceased to visit what they had known.

I know some people think it's all a little creepy but I love these days of remembrance, as they've come to be called.

On Saturday I prepared our Dio de los muertos altar, adding candles for Mr. Stewart and Lala and Joanie, the ones we've lost this year. I lit the candles and arranged the sugar skulls, fluffed the vase of flowers and remembered. It seems, to me, an elegant thing, taking the time to consciously remember, to be thankful for the gift of their lives in mine, to not so much miss them as celebrate them.

It's a beautiful ritual.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blogging All Month

Apparently it is Blog Like Your Life Depended on it Month or something like that. Which apparently means that bloggers are supposed to blog every day in November.

I'm off to a really good start.