Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

This Memorial Day weekend, I am reflecting on the fallen service men and women, and others who sacrificed for us through the years, and are doing so now. I am also thinking of two friends whose funerals we will be attending Tuesday and Wednesday. Particularly S., who I knew better.

S. battled cancer 4 years. He had so much spirit, and was always courageous and upbeat, even when living through cancer and its debilitating treatment. He was a psychiatrist, greatly interested in people. His particular hobby was learning and exploring Byzantine culture and history. He and his wife M's favorite foreign country was Turkey. Over the years, he taught a few classes at our church on Byzantine Christianity. We facilitated a mourner's path workshop together for several years. He was always seeking ways to reach out to others, and was full of ideas for helping the community. He'll be greatly missed by many. Here was his favorite quote, which seems especially appropriate this holiday:

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we only see the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places -- and there are many -- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. Life is meaningless only if we allow it to be. Each of us has the power to give life meaning; to make our time and our bodies and our words into instruments of love and hope.

--Howard Zinn (historian)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crazy Heart

I've always had a thing for Jeff Bridges. Since he was a kid actor on Sea Hunt, then Starman, the Fabulous Baker Boys, and of course, the
DUDE (The Big Lewbowski), he has always been a naturally classic actor to watch. Not to mention how handsome he is! So when he won the best-actor Oscar this year I was over-joyed for him....We had not seen
Crazy Heart though, and just watched it this weekend. Oh.My.God.

It was a masterful slice-of-life movie that everyone was so good in -- but Bridges -- he was brilliant. You will forget you're watching a movie and think it's real, his acting is so seamless.

His character is Bad Blake, an alcoholic chain-smoking Country singer, who was famous once -- or at least well-known, especially as a songwriter...but now, mostly b/c his addiction has made him a bit unreliable and out of touch, he's relegated to playing seedy outskirts in bowling alleys with pick-up bands. Even though he's a mess, you care about him. He still cares about his craft, and he's always a sweet, care-worn guy. We all know someone like Bad. You find yourself rooting for him. That Bridges can sing isn't new. I didn't know Colin Farrell could sing, though. He plays a singer who Bad mentored, who eclipsed him in fame, but who admires him and wants to give him a leg-up. The woman Bad falls for who makes him 'wake up,' is an unstable high-strung single mom, and I wanted to see him with a mellower older woman, but I understood why they needed the plot tension.

The New Yorker reviewer thought the movie was too bland; that the plot needed to be more complex or something. I don't agree at all. In fact I wondered if he saw it -- or if he's too jaded by things that go boom.* It was very true-to-life, and bitter-sweet, and the kind of movie that when it was over, made me want to watch it again. I don't feel that way about movies very often.

* I have been accused of "liking things were people drink tea and nothing happens." Not true, but I grow weary of car chases and explosions quickly - and the action had better advance the plot -- and I've given up on Quentin Terrentino, though I liked Pulp Fiction. I will never tire of a Astaire-Rogers dance or the witty repartee from The Thin Man movies, and I have yet to find their equal. When they are 'on,' Woody Allen and Nora Ephron can come close...

PS: Two big mama 'coons brought up three baby coons this afternoon for their first taste of solid food -- they loved the dog food. They are between 6-8 weeks old. They sound like kittens. Excy promises to fix the koi pond and get it full, so we can watch them dog paddle around in it - always hilarious. Simple pleasures around here...

Yesterday I cut off a driver pulling into a gas station and she was so annoyed she followed me to tell me she almost hit me. I apologized profusely but didn't think then to tell her I shouldn't have even been on the road -- a friend had just told me a dear friend was being given last rites. He died a few hours later. Not that I wasn't in the wrong. Just wigged out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

and now for something completely different...

I am a guest blog today at Speaking from the Crib. If you haven't read her, you should. As my bloggie and real-life friend SS says about things that delight, "she's a hoot and a half..."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Worst Prom Ever, Part Two

Okay, here's the story:
S's daughter was a tomboy about everything except for some reason, one dream she had harbored since the 7th grade: for her Senior Prom, she'd go in a white limo, chauffeured by a driver in a trim suit (and maybe a hat) who would tactfully open the doors and roll out a red carpet for them to walk on, so not to muss their shoes. She talked about this so often over the years, S knew each stipulation by heart and how important each detail was to her daughter (let's call her 'X'). S said she took advantage of this, too - if X's grades were sliding, or she missed curfew, S had only to mention the limo dream and X would tow the line. S used it to make sure X maintained a certain GPA. S said she'd gladly pay for the limo if X's grades were kept up.

By her senior year, X was nagging her mom to call the car services to lock down the date and car style/color/etc., and make sure the service would come through on the other details, like the chauffeur's suit, the red carpet, etc. By this time, a sun roof had been added, and X had begun fantasizing about chilled champagne and a bouquet of roses, but S told her she was pretty sure the wine and flowers weren't gonna happen. S called three limo services and negotiated with one, three months in advance, and then would call every month to make sure they were still on the books and everything was lined up like X wanted.

The plan was to gather at X's house, take photos, and then leave from there to the restaurant 30 minutes away before hitting the dance. The limo would be reserved all night, eventually taking the seniors after the Prom to the senior breakfast at 3 a.m. On the Big Day, X and her two closest GF's and their dates were ready and waiting. S said X looked radiant and appeared to be floating on air. All the kids looked adorable in their finery. Just then she spied a black limo turning into the driveway. It had no sun roof. It sputtered a bit as the engine was turned off. S's heart sank. Two people - a man and a woman, climbed out of the front, wearing blue jeans and tee-shirts. The driver explained the other person was a new-hire riding along that night to observe. What about the car, S demanded. It was all wrong. And their clothes! The driver said the service had only one white limo, and it was in service that night for a wedding. He said 'no one had said anything to him about a white limo with a sun roof,' anyway, and showed S a slip on a clipboard he withdrew from the front seat. It said the limo was available until 11 p.m.

By this time, S was trying to calm a group of flustered kids, soothe her stunned daughter, and negotiate with the chauffeur. The office was closed for the day. They could take it or leave it but they wouldn't get their deposit back, since they drove from 30 minutes away to get there, the driver said. The kids were disappointed but decided to use the service. S couldn't get them to extend the hours, so she figured she'd clean her work van and meet them after the dance to take them to the breakfast. She hoped by then they wouldn't care as much.

The drive and newbie turned towards the car. Wait -- what about opening the door? What about the red carpet? The chauffeur shrugged, opened the trunk, and flipped a faded red bathmat onto the ground. He opened the back door with an exaggerated flourish and bow. By now, S could see X was practically in tears. The six kids squeezed in the back, and asked for a little air. (There wasn't a separate window between the back and the front seat). They were informed the a/c didn't work.

After swinging on the highway the driver turned on a CW station, and reluctantly turned it off when the kids protested. Then the driver missed the exit, and got turned around, and after fruitlessly cruising the streets, pulled over to ask directions at a 7-11. By the time they found the restaurant, they had missed their reservations, and didn't want to wait 30 minutes for the next seating. They ended up at the drive-thru of a Wendy's, where everybody, driver and newbie included, ordered food and drinks they passed around, all except X, who didn't feel like eating.

Off to the dance. Once again, the driver lost his way. (Apparently, knowing your way around the city wasn't a requirement to be hired as a limo driver with this service). The kids finally spotted the venue, but were so late getting there, they weren't able to have formal photos taken at the dance.

S said she called several times trying to get the service to make this right - as much as one could re-wind and make good on a dashed dream of seven years -- but the most the service was willing to do was give the kids 30 free minutes in a car! As incredible as that seems. I told her it was time to call the BBB, for one. I never did find the outcome, though. What a funny sad story. It sure summed up how a person can dream about a thing for years and then have all your best-laid plans dashed through no fault of your own. I'm pretty sure those kids had learned that lesson already by the time they were graduating high school, though. They didn't need that lesson shoved up in their face on their important night.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Worst Prom Ever, Part One

The girl in this story is probably a mom herself now. First a wee bit of back-story. We hired a Merry-Maid type service to clean twice a month nine years ago. The leader eventually went out on her own, we liked her, and for those years she came fairly regularly (she had a habit of flaking out). But as I said we liked her, despite her being slightly unreliable, and the fact she managed to break one thing each visit (most memorably a ceiling fan and a bathroom sink). But we liked her, as I said. We gave her a key. It was easy. She said she needed the money.

The last straw was -- well, really the last two straws, were -- 1) we had a load of friends coming to town, so I spent all week on the yard and cooking, since S. said she'd be over to clean. She wasn't. 2) (And this was the death knell of the partnership), Excy was interviewed for HGTV's Dream Builders show, for three houses he designed. They flew in from DC for the day and rented a car.* It took weeks to set this up, so every one had ample time to adjust schedules. His studio was a black hole disaster so we concentrated on that and I made lunch for everybody and still needed a clean house for the day. I mean, come-on, it's HGTV! In your house!

Again, I told S. how important this was, and warned her I couldn't abide any flakiness. If she couldn't make it, I needed to know to make other arrangements. When she didn't show, and didn't call, it left only half a day to clean, on top of everything else. The house was half-cleaned, not as nicely as I wanted it to be. I was so pissed, I sent her a letter and told her to mail back the key. She tried calling but the excuse was half-assed lame so I didn't respond. It takes a long time to get me riled if you're my friend or an acquaintance, but when I finally am, just back away, it's over. I'm done.

* This interview took place the day before 9/11. The crew ended up keeping their rental car and driving back to DC. Which turned out to be the best plan, anyway, since planes didn't fly again until the end of the week.

This post was so long, I am calling this the forward, and will continue the story this week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seriously RUDE

Even if I hadn't been tired and hurting from a long day of errands and acupuncture, I doubted I've have been more patient. I have no 'wiring' for patience when people are oblivious and self-absorbed, or worse, as in the case of this manky cow, who had to have known she was holding up five cars behind and beside her, all unable to pass as she proceeded to gab with her friend putting groceries away in her car. She just didn't care. It blows my mind. So she just sat there leaning over the passenger seat, yucking it up as the other woman (lady is way to much of a stretch to write), put stuff away for seemingly for-ev-er as we all sat, idling, shooting looks that should've blown their bloated heads off (without disturbing whatever brains were possessed). The car unable to pass was close enough to be about four feet from her and I saw him put his car into 'park.'

What really cheesed me off was when she finally -- finally -- deigned to move, she parked two slots away.

That's what made my wrath flow like lava. Why had it not occurred to these two fools to talk after she had parked her car? This is one of the main reasons I seldom go to the movies anymore, btw. She would be on her damn cellphone, texting away or loudly telling some yahoo to pick up some Cheese-wiz on the way home because they were out...

What I cannot believe thinking back on this is why no one honked their horn. We didn't want to be impolite. But she didn't get the message through pointed looks of annoyance. No doubt she'll do this again, since no one shamed her into recognizing her selfishness. It's also likely she wouldn't care, anyway, but at least she'd have had the embarrassment of having been honked at. It's weird. Would I feel less annoyed now if I had honked??

Spied this obituary the other day:
Greg LeGrowd 'showed up for work at the Lord's office...' I don't know know about you, but if I reached the pearly gates I'd be royally annoyed at being put to work...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fabulous Finds Friday -- Hallelujah!

Welcome to FFF -- I haven't done this for awhile. Not because I haven't thought of things I have grown to love, though.

The FFF post for today is the Spanx 'Bra-llelujah!' Guys, don't sigh and sign off: I guarantee you if you sneak into your sweetie's lingerie drawer for her bra size and then buy one of these, you will be her hero. She will be flattered, and bragging about how sensitive you are to anyone who'll listen.

They ain't cheap -- Spanx products aren't -- but, boy, are they worth it. As the name implies, these bras are worthy of excitement. I have never, ever, worn a more comfortable bra. A day after purchasing my first one, I was back in the store to buy the second model. Pro-rated, wearing them twice a week (try not to wear the same bra more than two days in a row for the sake of your bra and your body; you need a bra wardrobe), ensures they are a good deal. No, a great deal. (If you're like me and keep your bras for several years).

These bras guarantee you won't get the dreaded 'back fat.' No matter how much you weigh, if you wear form-fitting tees and clingy fabrics, you chance 'back fat.' The straps and back are made from wide hosiery fabric, which smooths you out. This bra you can wear more than 12 hours a day and not long to fling across the closet when you're ready to slip into your comfy clothes.

Treat them with care, and they'll last. (i.e., unless you wash by hand - I don't -- at least throw them in a lingerie bag in the laundry and never, ever, put them in the dryer -- line-dry only). So that's it. Buy this bra. The end.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Mom's favorite photo of herself from the '70s. With Susie the Siamese, Grandmom's cat visiting from Indpls. Susie was so smart she taught herself to use the toilet. No, she didn't drive here...

Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there. You have a yeoman's job. Having only 'four-footed kids,' I cannot imagine how hard it is daily to be called 'mom.' So enjoy 'your' day to shine and relax!

I suppose every little girl thinks her mother beautiful. I know it's true in my case. People commented on the fact my entire life, and I knew it to be so, too. For some reason, particularly until she colored her hair, with mom's red hair, blue eyes, fair skin, and dynamite figure, I always thought she resembled Shirley McClaine. Men swarmed around her like bees to honey. My parents were an "It" couple among their peers. They ran with a fun crowd. Both with movie-star good looks, fun, witty, interesting, and successful (mom worked before it was fashionable, which made her 'different,' particularly in the South of the '60s and early '70s), they were always doing something with their friends: trips, water-skiing, sailing, tennis, dining out, gourmet clubs, bridge, you name it. But they loved being with their kids, and always had plenty of time for us.

Mom and dad have been happily married 57 years, and have been a couple since high school - never dating another. 'Dropped, pinned, engaged, married,' is how their generation progressed in committed relationships. Steve and I both had 'starter' marriages that ended quickly, in part, I think, because we assumed from our parents' example that true love was effortless, and were shocked to learn most people weren't the product of such happy homes. The bar was set high.

Still, so in love has never stopped momma from flirting. She's an incorrigible flirt to this day, and highly successful at it, particularly because she's effortlessly charming. You would've thought she was a true Southern Belle, where flirting among the female species is elevated to a high art.

Everyone wanted to be around my mother. Including my boyfriends -- growing up I became used to hearing 'why can't you be more like your mom?' Wow, that can put the double whammy on a kid...

Sadly, I cannot say I am as gracious. I am just the product of a different generation; less prone to smile and be sweet. (Not that she was ever a door-mat). I'm more driven and up-front, less 'soft.' And I guess having cancer since my 20s has forged my character with more steel out of necessity. I haven't had the luxury to remain 'soft' in that way. Still, mom gave me some of the best parts of myself, and I feel very lucky to have had the best mom in the world as my own. She's not reading this, but Happy Mother's Day, anyway. They came over last night for a marinated Italian chicken dish, rice, fresh asparagus, and strawberry cake.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Just Call me Job

Today is VHL Awareness day. I have lived with this damn chronic disease, a rare cancer, since it manifested itself in 1984, through a brain tumor. Eleven major surgeries later, I can say I'm alive because of educating myself about the disease, constant monitoring to stay on top of the myriad tests required to gauge the progression of tumors and cysts in the organs of my body, and by refusing to accept 'good enough,' going to where the knowledgeable doctors and surgeons are -- requiring all my surgeries to be preformed out of state.

As I write this, my arm is going numb and is hurting, so I can't stay on much longer. I miss you all -- miss being on-line and miss going to your blog sites. A new Mac laptop is winging its way to me as we speak (happy mother's day from the animals) and I should be able to write propped up in bed by Wed., which should solve the problem of getting back on line.

We are figuring out when to go to Emory to have tests. It's not my cancer, but related to the surgeries I've had, specifically scarring from spinal surgery, so they can't help me at NIH -- But, I have to have my level of pain brought down to tolerate a plane ride. The drug the internist gave me last week was beginning to work, but two days ago my right ankle and leg 'blew up.' I don't care to add living with an 'elephant leg' to my list of ailments, so I quit taking it -- probably compromised my system because I am down to a fourth of one kidney. Since everything seems to happen on the weekend, I'll call the Dr. Monday.

Excy diagnosed himself last night about 1 a.m. with that tick disease -- rocky mt. spotted tick disease? No 'ring' around a bite, but a rash on his leg that looked like prickly heat rash. Got the test and antibodiacs for today.

Geez, sorry to vent, folks, but this medical drama really must end soon. I'm damn sick of it and need a breather. I know that in my case it won't end but we are more than ready for some normal (for our family, anyway) down time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Out foxxing

The little fox is a she, and she's nursing some kits. She comes up several times during the day, to eat, and get away from the kits! So we are throwing food on the terrace for her - Francis Fox, now, not Ferdinand.....wonder if we'll ever see them??