Friday, December 30, 2011

My rules about food

1. If it is consumed before 12 noon it must be real breakfast-type food. What is "real" you ask? Fruits, breads-pastries-cakes, cereals, egg-type stuff, bacon-ham-sausage, milk or yogurt. Hey, these are MY rules! (No pizza, but exceptions can be made if you've been up all night.)

2. If it contains cream cheese it is NOT sushi.

3. Anything that contains peanut butter is NOT dessert.

4. There's no such thing as bad chocolate, old chocolate or useless chocolate. Period.

5. Don't serve me food that I have to gnaw off a bone. Gross. Really.

6. My martinis are made with gin. They were invented that way. God save the queen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy birthday

I decided to repost this in honor of Hannah's 25th birthday this year.

I'm remembering the day she was born. It was cold but clear. I was nervous but prepared.

I approached motherhood in the same way that I approach every part of my life -- learn everything you can, dive in, and expect the best. I've never been disappointed.

Hannah's teenage years provided some of my best stories. Once I "stole" her car and hid it at a friend's house to teach her a lesson. It took her less than 5 hours to find it and steal it back. She told me that she used to sneak out of her bedroom window by climbing out onto the roof so I asked her to use that same skill to clean the gutters. And then there were the boys. Some of them were crazy, some of them were too old but I'm proud to say that she brought them all home anyway for me to meet.

The year she turned 18 and I turned 50 (less than a month apart) we celebrated by going to get tatoos together. It was her first and my only.

Today she turns 22. She's beautiful, she's smart, she's a fascinating person. And I love her very much.

Monday, November 14, 2011

You can't make this up

This is a true story. That means it really happened.

We'd had a seriously depressing week so going out to dinner on a Thursday night was our solution to the blues. It didn't hurt that the local restaurant we chose had special drink prices. Didn't hurt at all.

I ordered a drink but C. decided not to. After the appetizers and during the entree she changed her mind. The cosmopolitan was promptly delivered. She sipped, then began coughing into her napkin. I asked "You okay honey?" like the kind and considerate girlfriend I am.

"Nope," she said, as she showed me the sliver of glass in the napkin. That's right, it was a SLIVER OF GLASS! (Reminder: This is a true story.) Fortunately there was no blood.

The waiter came over, took one look, and dashed off to get the manager. Meanwhile, C. started sending text messages to the attorneys we know. Hey, it never hurts!

The manager did the right thing -- our meal was free. But I had a dilemma -- I'd planned to pay with a credit card and I really wanted to leave our excellent waiter a tip. (And the attorneys advised us to get a receipt.) So the waiter gave me a receipt for $1, I left a $10 tip and we decided to go to a different restaurant for dessert.

This is a true story. Did I say that already?

We arrived at restaurant #2, settled down with a specialty drink and dessert menu and made our selections. I broke my own rule and ordered a stupid-tini. This one was blueberry/vanilla infused something in a martini glass. Once again, C. didn't order a drink.

I took one sip and decided it tasted like cough syrup. C. sighed and said she'd drink it. I ordered a REAL MARTINI, you know, the one made with gin and vermouth. We also ordered two very delicious desserts. (This is the part of the story where you're starting to wonder if we found glass isn't it? We didn't. Keep reading.)

The desserts were great, my martini was great, but the blue drink still tasted like cough syrup so C. didn't finish it. The waiter brought the check.

"I noticed you didn't like the drink so I didn't charge you for it," she said. "How sweet! Thank you!" we replied. I gave her my credit card.

Moments later, the waiter returned. "I have bad news," she said and sat down. "I ran the wrong check on your card. I'm so sorry for this mistake. I voided it but it will take 72 hours for the credit to appear. You don't have to pay. Your drinks and desserts are free."

"Noooooo, you can't do that!" we squealed. And so we had to tell her the whole story of the evening. "I have to have a receipt to tip you," I insisted. "And besides, this is too strange so we just can't let you not charge us."

We struck a compromise. She didn't charge us for the blue drink and gave us 50% off the rest of the check. I tipped her $10.

Final note: There have been no indications that C. ingested any glass. Attorneys were told to stand down.

You're invited to dine out with us any time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

14 reasons why Baby Boomers are the coolest generation

Instead of focusing on how much society has in common with those upstarts, those youthful trend-setters the Millennials,
I think we should pay more attention to the generation that INVENTED cool, the Baby Boomers. Here's my own quiz.

1. Do you know all the words to the Gilligan's Island theme song? You do? Well, how about the Patty Duke Show? Really? Then do you know all of Captain Kirk's lines in the STAR TREK episode "The Trouble With Tribbles?" I didn't think so.

2. Did you ever deliver a daily newspaper on your bicycle? No? Did you help someone deliver bulk copies of your small town's weekly paper in a fire-engine red Pontiac GTO with an outta sight 8-Track Stereo while you listed to "Motown Hits from the 60s?" Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

3. Did you ever get a free play on a pinball machine? Did you ever get so many free plays that it took you over an hour to finish? That's a lot of gaming entertainment for a quarter people and it took manual dexterity back then. We had to STAND UP to play and use both hands to push those little buttons. And banging your hips into the machine to relocate the ball too, remember that? Good times.

4. Did your house have a phone on the kitchen wall? Did you spend hours talking to your school friends every night? Did you stretch the cord of the phone so that you could get into the closet for some privacy? Did your Mom yell "Get off the phone, someone might be trying to call!" in that voice that used to make you so mad ...

5. Did you have a pen pal? In 5th Grade I had that one who lived in Colorado and she was so boring that I finally starting making stuff up about my life to get a reaction. I told her that since I lived in Kentucky I had a horse farm and about 100 thoroughbreds then she wrote back saying "I have a horse too! His name is Ginger!" and I stopped writing after that.

6. Was your first job 1) lifeguard, 2) babysitter or 3) clerk at your parents' hardware store? Because, dude, that's all there was. Well, maybe you mowed lawns for money but that's not like a job in the real world where you have to show up on time and do exactly what other people tell you to do exactly the way they want you to do it.

7. This is the one serious question I will mimic directly from question #7 on the Millennial quiz because this is not a funny issue. I think marrying people from other races is awesome cool, not just for the couple but for society at large. If you don't agree with me you shouldn't be following my blog. For real.

8. Were you ever arrested for being in a protest? Or expelled from school for leading a sit-in? Or called to the principal's office for posting an angry letter on the bulletin board about the school dress code which required girls to wear skirts but allowed boys to wear blue jeans? And did your principal tell you that if you didn't stop being so outspoken that he'd never write a college recommendation for you and to just think about that little lady -- how would your mother feel about THAT?

9. Did you ever write a message in the back of a high school yearbook? And did you go through every single page in the book and sign your photographs whether you were in the band photo or the chess club photo or in one of those goofy candid shots behind a bunsen burner in the chemistry lab? And did your friends do that in your yearbook? Hey, let's do this online and call it Facebook!

10. Did you ever go to church camp? Or sing in a children's or youth choir? Or hang out with the hippie priest who had a van and a guitar and a beard and a wicked record collection that he'd bring out when we all came over to the parish house to learn about how Jesus was really a radical if you thought about it?

11. Was your household more like "Leave it to Beaver" or "My Three Sons?" Or was your mom both widowed and divorced and everyone had to pull his/her own weight and "don't you girls do what I did" and don't ever pack a suitcase so heavy that you can't lift it by yourself because don't expect some man to carry it for you, by god.

12. How old were you when you finally broke down and decided to get a tattoo? And did you agonize about whether to have a symbol from another language or something feminine like a tiny rosebud with vines entwined around it? Or did you decide to go all out and get your dog's name put on your forearm? Because damn, that was a great dog and I cried when we had to put him down.

13. Did you have your ears pierced by your friend's older sister in their upstairs bathroom during that slumber party in 8th grade? And did she use an ice cube to numb it but it really didn't work very well and it hurt like hell and didn't heal because sterilizing a sewing needle over a flame isn't the right way to do it?

14. The first three times you voted in a presidential election did the other candidate win because this country is going to hell and nobody seems to listen to liberals? And are you STILL pissed off because the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified and Generation X and Generation Y and the Millennials don't even understand how it used to be for women, gay people and people of color?

YOUR SCORE: You'll have to figure this out on your own.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bibbidy, bobbidy balderdash!

I attended a conference in Orlando a few weeks ago. And, because of the location, we decided to tack on a vacation for a week at Disney World, the so-called happiest place on earth.

I didn't expect the princesses.

Because we were there during October most of the kids were pre-schoolers and I started noticing that many of the girls were wearing Disney Princess costumes. Not only that, they were wearing makeup and glitter and their hairdos were NOT those that normal 4-year-old girls wear around the house. Then I found out about Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique where parents can pay $50 to $189 (and up) for a full makeover for their daughters.

I thought I would lose my mind. Don't get me wrong, dressing up is really, really fun and I've worn my share of princess costumes in my life but the Disney Princess trend makes me worry that we're encouraging a whole generation of girls to be overly concerned about how they look.

Go ahead, argue with me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I want a clean house.

I want the floors polished and waxed until they are shiny enough to see my reflection. I want the windows cleaned inside and out until the birds are so confused that they think that they are open.

I want every surface to be dust-free. I want the bathrooms to be spic and span and sanitized. I want the kitchen cabinets to look brand-new.

I want all traces of dog hair removed from the upholstery and the carpeting. I want my house to have the faint smell of fresh flowers (that really does comes from fresh flowers in the house).

And I want this every day.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sometimes you just need to follow

I've been reading a lot about Leadership with a capital "L" and what it means and how you develop qualities that make people good Leaders.

But what makes a good follower? Do we need lessons in becoming good Followers? What are the key qualities to develop in order to reach your highest following potential? Here are some I'm considering:

1. Don't ask questions. Questions interrupt the flow of the Leader's directions. S/he's already told you everything you need to know.
2. Don't speak. Talking will just slow everything down. It's okay to say "yessir" or "yessym" or "understood" but conversation isn't really encouraged.
3. Listen hard. Instructions will be given to you. When you don't know which of the conflicting orders to follow, choose the last one you were given. If you are wrong, more instructions will be given, and in a louder voice.
4. Wait. Moving ahead to the next task too early is not allowed. Sometimes this means you will have nothing meaninful to do. Use that time for self-reflection.
5. Keep your ideas to yourself. When it is time to share, you'll be allowed to do that in groups of 3 to 5 and everyone will have a turn. You may have an opportunity to stand up and tell the whole group what you discussed, but remember that it's rude to report anything that you, personally shared.
6. Relax. As a follower, you aren't expected to worry about anything.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you.

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness these days. And realizing that forgiving is a solitary and lonely activity. No one really sees you doing it. They only see what you're not doing.

But the activity of letting go of anger takes time and energy and more than a little bit of patience. It takes finding the crevice in myself where I tucked a memory, a feeling, that disappointment and the bloody damage still remaining and hauling it out into the light and looking at it and yelling "that was then and this is now" until my voice is raw.

That was then.

This new situation doesn't know about what happened in that other time in that other place. This new unhappiness reminds me of darkness and drowning and feeling trapped but it isn't the same. I don't have to go back there. I don't have to go back there. I don't have to go back there.

The challenge that remains is to sift through the grains of sand, find the ones marked with your face, and hand them to you. Then look down at the rocky path and walk away.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why I bought a convertible and other mysteries

My children have grown into confident and competent adults living (mostly) on their own. So when my son started looking for a car he said "Mom, you should just give me yours."

The car in question was a 10-year-old Honda Civic 4-door automatic with 95,000 miles on it. I offered to sell it to him for half its bluebook value (I thought I knew what his savings account looked like) and he was online in an instant, checking the value and checking his bank account.

"I'll be ready once I get my summer job," he announced.

So I started looking for another car.

This would be the first car that I really didn't have to "share." I wouldn't have to drive the kids to school. It didn't need four doors. Hell, it didn't need four SEATS. It could be sporty. It could even be a convertible.

What was I thinking? I'd driven frugal, responsible Hondas for most of my life.

My first car, a 1963 Oldsmobile F85, was crashed and replaced by a 1964 Chevrolet Nova which I drove for two years. The radio was AM, there was no air conditioning. Three-on-a-tree was what people called 3-speeds on the column back then. The car was wonderfully retro (even then) and I sold it for $500 (exactly what I had paid for it) to someone who begged me to sell it to them.

After that was a succession of Hondas purchased because they had the best gas mileage, reliability and resell value out there.

Sportscars and convertibles have neither good gas mileage nor resell values. Clearly, I was going through another in a series of midlife crises.

I'm going to blame it on the motorcycle.

A few years ago, after my 11-year relationship broke up, I fell hard for a woman with both a master's degree and a motorcycle. (We were married last year in Massachusetts, by the way.) I never thought I'd like riding on the back of a motorcycle but I was wrong. It is heavenly. I couldn't wait for the next ride. I love the feeling of the open sky and the sounds and smells that you just don't get inside an air-conditioned car.

I considered learning to ride my own motorcycle but then thought about convertibles instead. I didn't have to learn a new skill or get a separate license -- and I could drive it every single day.

I bought another Honda. Meet my Bluebird: Honda S2000. And yes, she makes me very happy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I was on my way to becoming a domestic goddess, then I set the oven on fire

This weekend found me organizing, cooking and cleaning around the house and garage. Here's the list of accomplishments:

- Cooked Saturday breakfast of eggs, biscuits and homemade apple butter
- Finished (and folded!) the laundry
- Made a batch of tomato sauce from our Roma tomatoes
- Cleaned bathrooms
- Cleared out garage (almost) before the new garage-door installers arrive
- Sewed on missing button
- Assembled and baked three delicious tomato pies

I was feeling pretty good about myself until it was time to take the tomato pies out of the oven. They were in aluminum pie plates for freezing. I don't know what happened, but one pie decided to flip nearly upside down before I knew it. Tomatoes, cheese and stuff landed inside the oven. I turned the oven off and with my spatula I lifted the largest pieces off the oven floor and threw them in the sink. Half the pie was gone. The rest became lunch.

Sunday morning I started making blueberry muffins. I turned the oven on to pre-heat and headed to the basement to grab blueberries out of the freezer. I'd forgotten that, while I'd cleaned up SOME of the spilled pie, I hadn't gotten all of it.

The oven started to smoke but I thought "It'll burn off and be fine." It was NOT fine. Not at all. The smoke got worse so I turned on the vent fan. It got worse. Finally I opened the oven to see flames, big ones.

Not to worry dear readers: We put the fire out safely and no real damage was done.

Domestic Goddess? A girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hipster blogs and faux journalism

I get nearly 99% of my news and information online. I stopped subscribing to the local paper (sorry to the folks who recently lost jobs) and I don't have TV anymore. I don't have enough free time to loll about in coffeeshops (though I wish I did) so I don't see those free weeklies.

I do, however, subscribe to about 40 feeds and I typically catch up on my reading during lunchtime in my office. I am annoyed.

More and more I'm seeing self-indulgent rants and egregious errors in grammar (or more often, word choice) on what I've begun calling "hipster blogs." The writers there seem to believe that they invented the green movement, and that no one ever wrote about music before 2005. According to some of them cooking at home, urban gardening and riding a bicycle to work NEVER EXISTED until they became adults last year a decade ago.

Now I know why many of them hate us Baby Boomers for our self-righteous attitudes and confidence that we are the coolest generation.

Among the worst offenders, however, are the ones who see political corruption everywhere and choose to be snarky about it. It's as if they believe that power corrupts and that any elected official or anyone who heads a public agency must be, without question, dishonest, unethical or worse -- doing their job. These writers stand in the shadows and snipe about what should have happened when the water main broke or how animal services should be run.

Today I'm annoyed by those who are self-appointed community boosters. In their cheerleader tones they tout food trucks and film festivals, art fairs and farmers markets, gelato and small batch bourbon. Their attitude seems to be THE MEDIA WILL NEVER TELL YOU ABOUT THESE COOL THINGS SO IT'S UP TO ME TO KEEP YOU INFORMED.

Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon. I'd be willing to admit that.