Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Obligatory Year-End Reflection

Best Trips:
Omaha, NB
Forks, WA

(Yeah, not exactly Paris or Rome but those were very, very fun weekends with my bestie Poodle and loin fruit, respectively).

Best Purchase:
Toss up between the French door fridge with two drawers OR the superfantastic hat Tanya designed for me.

Best Answer to Prayer:
Getting my job on a more permanent level.

Best All Around Thing to Be Grateful For:
The fact that while 2009 was a year of real struggle for so many we were gainfully employed, out of debt, not upside down in our mortgage and no one got swine flu. That's some serious blessing going on right there, my friends.

Best Songs of the Year (meaning, of course, my personal soundtrack):
"Poker Face" - Lady Gaga
"Sneaker Night" - Vanessa Hudgens
"Supermassive Black Hole" - Muse

Best Thing I Ate:
Gotta go with the osso bucco at Peter and Suzanne's anniversary dinner. Glorious.

Best Movie of the Year (meaning, of course, the one I liked the best for extremely personal reasons):
"Julie & Julia"

Best Outfit of 2009:
Has to be the little polka dot number with the boiled wool ruffled jacket that I got at Anthropologie for Ree and Jerry's wedding. Killer.

Greatest Accomplishment:
This is a three way tie between finding a great stylist which allows me to finally truly love my hair every day, beginning a fitness plan and sticking with it BEFORE the new year started and not murdering my teenage daughter. In fact, while I have ruled out murder altogether on moral and religious grounds, boarding school is still very much on the table.

A very happy new year to all of you in Blogopia! May 2010 be kind.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Seriously Don't Know Where to Begin

Must get tabs. Passed the emissions test and have been riding around with results for a week. Tabs expire Friday. Which is New Years. Must get tabs.

And caviar.


Cold cuts.

Black eyed peas. (Also download that "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" song because it's very poppy and fun).

The Child will not be ringing in New Year with us as is going bowling with friends. Then will be gone most of Saturday at Sweet 16 party for friend. Which reminds me that I still haven't sent out invites for HER Sweet 16. Although I'm pretty sure I've done a verbal "Save the Date" thing with the people who matter most. Probably not, though.

Must leave work on time today. And tomorrow. No need to stay until 6 just because I can keep myself that busy. Need to focus on a few things at the casa. Like where the H the cat pee smell is coming from. CanNOT begin New Year with smell of cat pee in living room. (Have checked all the obvious places, which is why this is a very perplexing problem).

Get present for aforementioned Sweet 16-er.

Man, I hope someone cleans the kitchen properly today. And maybe folds that pile of laundry. It's nice that it's done but come on now. When I do the laundry I sort it by family member AND fold. This stuff is just sitting in a jumble like it's magically going to find its way into drawers and closets. And at the very least, the people who owns some of it might remove it from the pile and deal with it. Seriously. Washing and drying is only part of the process, you see.

I just know there is something else that should be on my grocery list. OH! Of course, sour cream and matzoh meal. Unless we have matzoh meal from last year. Although it would be stale if we did. So sour cream and matzoh meal.

Must shower.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Hope the 21st Century's Teen Years Go Better than Mine Did

Stina and I were talking on Christmas Eve about how we both have to have certain things done by New Year's Eve....things like the bills paid, the house swept and dusted, beds made, laundry done. We both have this notion that if we sit down to our caviar and champagne with these tasks accomplished it somehow sets the tone for the coming year. Not, mind you, that nothing will go wrong or that (I laugh) the housekeeping will always be done. It's more to do with the symbolic nature of Things Accomplished and of Setting the Stage for the coming year.

Also on my short list of things to do before New Year's Eve:

Reflect. (It doesn't feel like I've done much of that lately).

Buy aforementioned caviar and champagne (one of the best shopping trips of the year).

Set a goal or two. Nothing monumental. Nothing "resolution-y". Just setting some guideposts.

(Speaking of which, last night my little Wii thing-y told me that I had lost .2 pounds since I started my new fitness program. Must make room for the latkes and caviar, mustn't we?)

Do you have any end-o-the-year-start-o-the-new rituals?

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Monday, December 28, 2009

On the Third Day of Christmas I Had to Go Back to Work

I am very thankful that I love my job because I would be ever so sad right now if I didn't. We had a very nice Christmas day and a very nice Non Sans Jammie and a very nice yesterday and I kinda wish I could stay home some more. In fact, I feel, right this very minute, precisely the way I felt on the first-morning-back-to-school-after-Christmas-break. Likely one of the top 10 most horrible feelings you can feel (which is not to be confused with the Top Ten Truly Most Horrible Feelings List, which is composed of truly bad stuff no one would ever ever want to feel).

I don't feel like dressing up (even though we don't really have a dress code and I'm sure it will be fine with MAB if I show up in jeans). I just want to sit here and drink delicious coffee. Then later I would want to play with my new Wii Fitness Plus which I asked for and received for Christmas which I already like very much. Turns out that I have a normal BMI, which was nice to hear, but I do need some tone and balance. (I so favor my right side, it turns out, that when I try to balance myself with the little yellow sphere on the system I have to shift my weight so much to the left that it feels unnatural. But once I realign my balance I should have improved posture and perhaps even begin to glide when I walk like a princess or something).

Poo. No time for this. Must get dressed, even if it is only jeans and a jacket. The sooner I leave this house of slumbering, vacationing people the better I'll no doubt feel. Have a lovely day.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime

And at first I wasn't so sure that would be the case. It is, I suppose, silly to think that people will be nice to each other just for the sake of the day. I mean, I think they should make the effort but that's just me. Point is, yesterday was not a banner day in the household and I was beginning to think that calling off Christmas this year would be a good thing. That or running away to Italy. By myself.

From what I understand, it is perfectly normal for a father and teenage daughter to go at it hammer and tongs. Lord knows, I did with my father, Sean Connery. The problem is, aside from the noise level and the vibes of acrimony, most of the time it just seems so unnecessary.

But just when I was thisclose to despair, quite sure that no civil conversation would ever again be heard in our home, people calmed down, had that civil conversation and spent what was left of the evening in harmony and peace. Which is sort of the point of Christmas and since we are a family that claims to care about that, it was nice to see us actually acting like, uh, Christians.

And at least for this moment (because we must remember that expecting consistent maturity from a teenager is just plain silly) The Child is being quite lovely. Like instead of waking us at O-dark-thirty she got up, made coffee and unloaded the dishwasher. And when I got up she asked if she could help me finish the brioche. Love. That.

Anytinsel, I must away to the one grocery store that I know is open to fetch just a few things for tonight's dinner and then I'm going to take my traditional Christmas nap.

I hope you are all merry and bright and that your Christmas is white, in moderation. (A wish that is already too late for those of you under the Christmas Blizzard of '09. I hope all of you stay especially warm and safe today!)

Happy Christmas.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh Damn, Guess What I Forgot?

I just got back from my last little run of Christmas errands. Some things are purposely left until the last fetching delicious bread from the bakery for tonight's soup supper (pumpkin chili this year). I put The Waitresses "Christmas Wrapping" on my iPod, since I was pretty sure it wouldn't be coming on NPR while I was out and about. That song always makes it feel like Christmas Eve.

The house looks like it blew up, all the packages need to be wrapped and I have to start the olive oil brioche for tomorrow night's dinner. Oh, and I have to be at the Cathedral by 4 at the latest to save seats for Mass. So yeah, I'm feeling a bit of a crunch right now. The Child set out to make a Buche de Noel for tomorrow. Her meringue mushrooms are very cute and the espresso chocolate filling is a dream. But her first attempt at rolling the log resulted in something very unloglike and for some reason her Swiss Buttercream frosting won't fluff so now she's just going to make a chocolate layer cake with the espresso filling and decorate with the mushrooms. But it will taste fantastic and the only thing that has her upset at the moment is the fact that The Dog managed to snag and chew on one of the sides of her gingerbread house. Oh well.

Time's a wastin' so I must scurry. But I do hope you have a lovely Christmas Eve. Don't forget the cranberries.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One of the absolutely most delightful sensations in the world is to roll over in the middle of the night and unearth the second pillow, which is all cool and delicious from not having been slept on and rearranging one's head on it. Something about that cool pillow against a snuggly warm face is just too fabulous.


Lately I've been seeing little towheaded dumpling children skipping alongside their mothers and I want to run up to them and say, "Don't grow up and be mean to your mother!" They wouldn't listen and the mothers would just be freaked out so I don't do it.

Which is all to say that there are days when I really miss my little towheaded dumpling child who used to worship me and always want to snuggle me and have me read with her and talk about all the things she thought were important in the world.

But by the grace of God, just when I think I can't take the snarling, pouting, door slamming sylph one more minute without teaching her the proper meaning of the term "bitch slap", she does something so adorable or funny or even, shockingly, mature and I think, "This too shall pass".

Of course, now whenever I heard some young bride talk about how much she wants a baby I am very tempted to say, "Yes, but do you want a teenager?" Because somehow that part of the package is always left out of the sales pitch.


It was really cold last night but it didn't snow. Guess all that is being saved for Nebraska. Sorry kids.


Monday, December 21, 2009

A Public Service Announcemnet & Some Other Things

This morning a cursory glance at my calendar informed me that Christmas is on Friday. For many all over the world, this is a day of joy and feasting. Owing to the particular nature of the feast, something of a fuss is usually made. If you haven't already, you might want to get started on that.

Recent Accomplishments:

The Child's God-mom had called a few days ago and I only called her back on Friday. And left a message. So she called me back on Saturday. First words out of her mouth were, "Is everything ok with you guys?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Well, you're usually so good about returning calls and I started to worry".

"I was good at returning calls right away when that was all I had to do," I replied. "Since I've gone back to work I've gotten good at returning calls sometime in this decade".

Fortunately, she understood.

That said, I did manage to accomplish some not-work-related things this weekend:

I reviewed all the Christmas presents that have been purchased over the last 2 weekends and have everyone covered. (I also, truth be told, picked up a few little stocking stuffers for myself because I am so easy to buy for).

The menu for Christmas dinner is planned and groceries purchased.

I took the pile of hand-wash-only laundry that has been sitting on my dresser for over a week and laundered it. (In a pillow case, on "delicate"...I"m not insane).

I cleaned my room. (It's his, too, but the mess was mostly mine...which is kinda amazing, giving The Spouse's propensity to just drop stuff wherever. (A trait, btw, which is genetic and has been passed on to The Child).

I put new flannel sheets on the bed; sheets that I purchased for a screaming deal at Costco last week and which have been sitting in their package, on the dining room table for that long).

Sent out evites for Sing for Your Supper.


We watched "Clueless" last night, as that is the only movie with Brittany Murphy in it that we own (or, frankly, that I have seen). She was no Heath Ledger, but it is very sad when any young person goes before their time. Last I heard prelim reports were that it was natural causes and sad as it is, I hope so because it's one thing to die tragically and quite another to die stupid.


I thought I'd lost my iPod but I didn't. That made me really happy.


19 years ago today The Spouse asked me to marry him. Spoiler Alert: I said 'yes'.


Both The Spouse and The Child are now officially on holiday until the 4th of January.

I am not.


Happy Winter Solstice!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

A Time to Remember

Today is the first anniversary of the passing of Mr. Stewart.

It's been a long year for Martha. She's had to walk a challenging road as she's rebuilt the form of her life. She sold and bought a house. She moved back to be nearer to family. She's taken classes and started an on-line business, fixed up her little cottage and started to pick up all the fragile pieces of her life.

She's done amazingly well, by the grace of God.

There have been very dark and lonely times. One doesn't lose a 28 year marriage and just "snap out of it". But she has had her girls and their husbands and her beautiful grandson to help her on the way. They've all helped - and continue to help - each other.

It's an amazing testament to the idea of family; that the founder of that family could be gone and they still hold as a unit. It's a credit to what she and Mr. Stewart created together. And a testament to Love.

On Sunday nights, after evening services, Mr. Stewart used to send his congregation forth with the charge to "go home and eat a lot of pizza and ice cream". So Martha decided that on this, the anniversary, that is what we would all do. Unfortunately, she lives far enough away from us that joining them would be difficult. So we are staging a "Pizza and Ice Cream Remembrance North". Jane Austin and her Mr. Darcy will join us and we'll phone in to the rest of the family.

This will not be an easy day for my sister and her girls. Please keep them in your prayers. And maybe share some pizza with someone you love.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Sharing Hardware

This whole dead power cord thing is now officially old.   And, much as I had predicted, the extra "rush" money The Spouse paid to get it here today resulted in, uh, no power cord.  Stoopid Dell.

I have to share The Child's laptop.  Which I can do because I'm the boss of her.  But it's still a pain.

The good thing?  The Child has her playlist a'playin' and I have to admit I'm impressed with the breadth of her musical taste.  Oh, sure, there's ample popness of the sort that makes Uncle JP's head squirt but swirled in there is the likes of the Beatles, T Rex, The Clash, Gang of Four, Muse and The Decemberists.

Just gives you hope for the future, don't it?

(And now to perform a naked pagan dance to the FedEx delivery gods).

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Random Things

Last night the power cord for my laptop died.   I hate when that happens.  The Spouse did the autopsy and then ordered me a new one.  I should have it on Monday.  (Except he paid for rush shipping which, with Dell, means I should have it by some time in 2010).  It's a really good thing The Child has a laptop that isn't password protected and that I get up before she does.

Then I had one of those nights when I woke up repeatedly and lay in bed worrying about every stoopid little thing in the world, none of which I could do a lick about from bed.  It never ceases to amaze me how the tiniest things become so dreadfully huge in the dark of the night.  By the light of day, none of them were a big deal at all.  I really hate that; I could have used the sleep.

The Spouse asked me out on a date for tomorrow night.  I'm a little nervous because it's an industry thing, which means he'll be talking with movie people about lights and cameras and I'll be standing around wondering if we're going to be home in time for the new episode of "iCarly".  But it's nice that he wants me to go with him so I will.  

I have to find something red to wear to work today.  We're having a little party to officially switch on the outside Christmas lights on The House and I know MAB will be decked out like a little elf.  I don't think I even own anything that's red, except for one pullover that's currently too tight.  (I just learned that there is an employee fitness center at the hospital; The Neighbor and I are going to start going next week.  I'm getting very tubby and I don't like that.  Sausages are a very delicious thing to eat but looking like one is not very attractive).

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Two Things That Happened at Work Yesterday

I got my H1N1 shot yesterday. I was in line with some very punny people, which was nice because I don't enjoy shots anymore than anyone else and I didn't really want to get one except I did. There were 2 nurses working the line and the one who was administering the shots was the same woman who gave me my seasonal flu shot. But then she left and the other woman took over. And the other woman is, I believe, not human.

I bared my arm to her and looked away because that seems to help. I felt her touch my arm, aiming for the spot. I scrunched my face, knowing the prick couldn't be far behind. But there was no prick. And then she was tossing the sharp in the bucket and putting a band-aid on my arm. I looked at her in amazement. "I seriously didn't feel a thing," I said.

She shrugged and said, "That's 45 years of experience for you".

"Well, I applaud you and your 45 years and I would like you to administer every shot I ever have to have ever again in my life".

And today? My arm doesn't ache. At all.

So yesterday we were talking about the union and Housekeeper Steve, who is a union steward, was asking if I could be in the union (because typically people attached to the CEO's service line can't be or something like that). Now, I wouldn't want to join the union in this particular case, primarily because it all too often is more obstructionist than anything else and I wouldn't want to be playing on that team. Anyway, MAB says, "Would it be on her pay stub?" and he says, "Maybe," so she asks if she can open mine (which had just arrived) and I was all "Sure, you know how much I make," and then all a sudden she says, "OMG, Lorraine, what are you doing with 124 hours of leave?"


During all the time I was a temporary employee I didn't get paid leave or sick time. That's what HR told me, that's what MAB told me, that's what The Neighbor told me. But apparently, once I became permanent all that time was given to me retroactively.

My first words? "See you in January!"

But not really. Fortunately, I can roll the time over into next year. Which means I'm starting out '10 with nearly 3 weeks (and we accrue 8 hours every pay period, or something incredibly generous like that). Crazy, huh?

But now I can take off Christmas Eve. And that makes me way happy.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Time Time Time

I have a very charming, retro looking alarm clock. It's so retro that it requires winding. I love this feature. There is something very satisfying about winding a clock.

Except that I think it needs to be wound twice a day because it is always done ticking by the time I go to bed. Which means I also have to remember to reset the time when I wind it.

Last night I failed to do that.

I have just started setting it for 5:30am, so I have more time in the morning for the things I want to do (like praying and blogging and basic home maintenance that sets things up oh so nicely for the day). But without resetting the time, The Spouse was up and showering and my alarm still hadn't rung so I looked at my clock and it read "2:00". Except it was really 6:00.

Much as I like my cute little retro clock, I'm thinking something battery operated might actually end up being more to the point.