Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stubborn Pioneer Woman

In my transition to becoming an adult I became not only self reliant but fiercely independent.

For those of you who know me well (and there are a few of you who do) ... or have endeavored to catch up through these highly honest musings (check out the blog from January 8th for a quick catch-up Bluegrass, City Lights, Cowgirl Boots ... and all that jazz) ... understand the whys and wherefores. How this came to be.

I am reminded all too frequently by my darling friends and neighbors that even when I am sick as a dog with beads of fever glistening my entire body and chills running up and down my spine ... or as in the past few weeks of this damaged right knee (which by the way feels oh so much better today so I think the sun shining into my home really has a magical, medicinal quality to it) prevents me from navigating gracefully, or at all, through the winding layout of my 160 year old home ... I do not reach out for assistance. Nope. Not even a "hey, when you go to Garden Street Market can you pick me up a ________ ?" [Fill in the blank with anything from a quart of skim milk to a small bag of peanut M&Ms to Charmin.] I can do it. And, do. Or be without.

But today I am stymied. Baffled. Been on the screened porch trying to maneuver. UNCLE. I simply cannot carry anything that weighs more than a few ounces or is fragile while hobbling from door frame to table to chest of drawers. I need my hands for balance. Not ballast. I need to ask someone for help. The indignity!

So imagine Deb's surprise this afternoon when I emailed AND phoned her at work to inquire as to whether she or her sweet husband would mind dragging my very heavy, overstuffed recycling bin to the curb in the still pouring rain and while you are here grab the 45 pound of Bailey food from the back of the car and bring it into the closet. They jumped at the chance.

Amazing. I could get used to this ... hmmmm, what's it referred to? Being pampered!

Cheers to luxuriating on the sofa, cold glass of iced tea with a spring of mint in hand!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ten Things I Hate About ...

... this freakin' weather!
  1. Average rainfall in March is a little over 4 inches. This month we have gotten 22 inches of precipitation, two days remain and the forecast is not good.
  2. Standing water between my yard and my fortunate neighbor who winters on Florida's West Coast is attracting Mallards pleasing Bailey, but duck poo is floating there, too.
  3. Despite my healing knee, there are no walks, even short jaunts, around my lovely neighborhood.
  4. In fact, I am unable reach the partially submerged Chippendale bench in the corner of my yard to bask in the milder spring air and contemplate things while Bailey sniffs her haunts.
  5. My basement (and the many things stored down under) smell perpetually of mildew that Lysol and Febreze and the dehumidifier are not concealing.
  6. And worse, is growing a rubbery white science experiment in the space beneath the winding narrow wooden stairs worthy of Mrs. Andrews 10th grade biology class.
  7. My two sump pumps are working overtime and the submersible pump and the Wet-Vac are required to sop up the overflow.
  8. Speaking of the Wet-Vac, emptying 8 gallons of sloshing water in the slop sink by the washer and dryer is a major effort.
  9. Bailey has smelled like a wet dog for weeks. Keeps wanting to go outside to bark at the ducks. And to top it off: her breath stinks!
  10. I'm so bored I want to spit which would only add to the precipitation and not befit my ladylike demeanor. Oh what the hell.

At least it's not snow! Cheers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Canes, Walkers, Crutches ... Oh My

Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

Not even close. I was so used to skipping along rock strewn paths. Dancing in my big girl shoes at milongas. Or two-steppin' and line dancin' in my tan suede cowgirl boots across floors covered with saw dust and peanut shells. Not this week. Or next. Or apparently for the next 3 to 6 weeks. Fingers crossed it won't be longer.

Throbbing knee twisted to and fro, up and down, in and out. Nope. No break. No torn cartilage. Not even the arthritis I was expecting. Just severely sprained ligaments. Injuries sustained on the dance floor at fuchsia light show, disco popping Club Izzy. Delayed reaction. And I was having so much fun. Twirling effortlessly to a Latin beat. Then a bit of soul. Followed by some vintage rock and roll. All fueled by a few too many gin martinis. It brought me to my knees. Literally.

No x-rays required. Just the same ol' same ol' that I have been doing for the past ten days. Ice. Advil. Naproxen. And ... to beat the of-the-moment band that rocked the house ... drum roll ... crutches. Noooooooooo. Then a cane. Noooooooooooo. I am not gonna take it anymore. I've got to get outta this place. If it's the last thing I ever do. I don't want to grow up.

When did I navigate with fellow sojourners along the yellow brick road through abundant poppy fields into the strange new world? Was it just this morning? I am still dizzy from my travels. So this is what it is like rounding the bend. Nearing the proverbial six oh. I swear. I am not going to take it laying down. Nor any other way. Just click my ruby slippers. Turn back the hands of time.

Bring on the magic potion from the font of youth. This girl needs some cheer!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dutch Treat

Today I am a happy camper. Despite the bum right knee. My special discovery makes even the pain of limping across my lawn bearable. Even the poopy chore of removing Bailey's toilette debris from the back yard. Out of the corner of my eye ... on the giant bed under the spruces and towering walnut tree was the most amazing surprise. Voilà!

Guess what is peeking up through that recently de-winterized, untangled plot? Where last weekend's four hour rake extravaganza removed dead fallen evergreen needles piled inches high, branches from the trees bordering my property and those gangly two-foot long yellowed ribbons from last summer's tiger lilies? In the blank space in front of the distinctive ruffled shoots emerging like clockwork that soon will sprout zillions of buds. Those large, showy reddish orange tiger lilies that grow like weeds in the New England sandy soil.

No. Not those. More special. To me anyway.

Tender green shoots barely 1/2 inch tall poking tentatively from the pine mulch. That's right! Variegated tulips striated with tinges of peach on fields of white the green vein reaching to the tip of their lovely fringed petals. Sole survivors of a red squirrel ravaged buffet feast.

I had failed miserably. Bulb planting 101, obviously not my forté in the sandy Maine soil where squirrels run amok. In that October a few years ago when 144 of the largest yellow jonquils and a dozen Green Wave Parrot tulips ordered direct from Holland were planted lovingly by my very own hands. Less than ten daffodils bloomed. Zero tulips. No feathery-petaled blooms which would slowly change to rosy pink, embraced with emerald-green arms. Nary a one. Utter failure.

Yes. I dug the hole with the requisite conical spade, twisted just so and gently dropped each bulb right side up seven inches below the ground. Added a bit of bone meal for nourishment and nutrition. And waited patiently for each of the past three summers for their glorious flowers. But hey. Those damn vermin. Munched on this delectable smorgasbord. Ruining my chances of having these most gorgeous fresh cut tulips accessorized my color-coordinated Brunschig et Fils decorated living room.

Treasured tulips were not to be. Not here. My garden, when I had even the tiniest plot of land, festooned with these delightful blossoms in early summer. Fresh flowers. A cutting bed of delights.

Frustration and disappointment mounted. Cognitive dissidence. Buyer's remorse. Each precious bulb a small fortune. A barren harvest. Unable to amortize the cost. Much less derive psychic income - pleasure. My very own tulipmania. Mad as a hatter. Obsessed. As frenzied as mid-17th century Dutch buying and selling tulip futures in the canal houses that lined the banks of Amsterdam. Poof. My investment gone awry.

But this year would be different. A sweet surprise when most needed to lift my sagging spirits. Vindicated. Those smarmy little buggers didn't have their way with my treasures after all.

Cheers to fresh cut tulips in my favorite Baccarat vase this summer!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I need some. Now. Painkillers extraordinaire.

My knee. My aching, can't-support-any-weight-on-it, very painful knee is screaming at me. In loud decibels. And just in time for jaunty walks through my little town near the sea awakening with spring. This stinks.

An Advil junkie for over a week, I need a fix. Something stronger. Aleve? Naprosin? Will a few days of mega-usage strip the lining of my stomach and cause bleeding ulcers ... or worse a heart attack or stroke?

This girl is in utter discomfort ... and in more ways than one. Need a soothing hand. The Original Blue-Emu deep penetrating cream recommended over the phone by my cousin the orthopedic surgeon in Louisville we always call when a fall, or a twist in the wrong direction is not touching my frayed, white hot nerve endings.

There is more wrong with the previous paragraph than meets the eye. Blue-Emu oil? Deep penetrating to soothe arthritis? First this is scary. Who knew that emus have blue necks? Why blue? Hell, I don't even know if I'd recognize an emu if I saw one up close and personal. And from where do they hail? And their oil? How is that obtained? Is it extracted from their skinny neck tissue with large hypodermic needles. Or ... I shudder thinking about that one. Odor free. What does that mean? Has it no aroma? Do they neutralize the scent? For what it's worth, the expensive 4 pounce jar I purchased last week for more money than I care to let you in on at Walmart no less ... hasn't touched any pain. Not one iota. Deep or otherwise.

Perhaps a swill of 100 proof Southern Comfort might just do the trick. Where is that bottle? I bought it in the heady 70s when sex and drug and rock and roll were the rage. Oh, there it is. At the bottom of the narrow wooden steps. On the white plastic shelf that doubles as a wine cellar. The puddles from last week's stormy weather lapping at the base. That ol' bottle is gathering dust. But hey. Is it worth scooting down the steps on my derrière? It did dull Janis's pain. Why not eliminate mine? Allow me to stroll in my anodyne village a few blocks away. Albeit not in a straight line. No. Not worth the trip into my basement.

Guess I have to wait until my appointment on Monday. No choice but to pop a few more aspirins, climb under the covers and await Jum Sum, the ancient Chinese god of sleep, to lure me into his dream-filled, painless world.

If only. Cheers!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Exit Strategy

By now you all know that my strong suit has been as a business strategist.

In the bright-lights-big-city 1980s, I awoke each morning after sleeping fast. Pulled my thick chestnut hair at the nape with a covered rubber band from Zitomer's, opened the cedar closet in my Carnegie Hill closet and dressed for success:
  • A not-so-feminine charcoal grey wool Brooks Brothers suit with floppy red silk bow at the neck of my crisp Pima cotton french cuffed blouse OR
  • A not very sexy double-breasted black gabardine coat dress with brass buttons from Bonwit's that still hangs in my closet waiting for what I am unsure ... an artifact from the days of bumping my head on the glass ceiling OR
  • As my confidence in the shark tank evolved I dared to wear lovely silk dresses, pearls and stilettos

... and entered the mostly male bastions of high finance. Me in a skirt. A strong moral compass pinned to my breast.

My passion for doing deals and the penchant for seeking them out securely glued to strands of DNA. My father's daughter. A deal doer chomping at the bit. The thrill of bringing buyer to seller. Making an acquisition happen whether it be a piece of machinery, a division or a company.

Energized by the transaction-fueled hysteria propelling the decade before Black Monday put an abrupt end to all things M&A, LBOs and all investment banking activities even trading securities. Yep. Brought to our collective knees by the unscrupulous Gordon Gekkos. Modern Turks. A precursor to greed run amok. The same dynamics in play as mortgage backed securities grabbed the global economy by the ying-yang in the aughts and yanked us all to the ground. My own personal Idaho still crippled.

A risk taker, it was a natural evolution to leverage my skill set and transition to (ad)venture capital [as Charlie called it when asked what his mommy does for a living] in the burgeoning, giddy, delirious hi tech days of the 1990s. The key component - the most salient ingredient for maximizing ROI and assuring the partners beaucoup multiples on dollars invested- the 'out clause'. The ubiquitous exit strategy.

So it should come as no surprise that prior to embarking on any endeavor I locate the out clause. The unwind. How to transition out. Mitigate the risks. Minimize my losses. Stop the outflow. Preserve. Reposition. Recover.

Oh oh. I've hit upon something. A stunning observation fueling the rhythm of living my life in chapters. To stay safe from harm, injury or destruction I have avoided motoring through obstacles. I merrily kick them aside. Persevere. OMG. Quite the revelation. Challenges encountered along the way gracefully (or sometimes clumsily) circumnavigated.

Is it merely my finely honed strategic thinking which drives forward a comprehensive scrutiny of any given situation, personal or professional, identifying probable alternatives, defining benchmarks to gauge my location on the arc, understanding the risks and knowing when to get out? I'd like to think so. Or, is it fear? And if so ... of what? Loss of self.

So the metaphysical question becomes: How much can I lose of myself and still be me? Je pense donc je suis. Is this enough?

Hmmmm ... I'll have to chew on this a bit. Cheers, je pense.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let Them Have Their Cake and Eat It Too

I love cupcakes. Love 'em! Especially the mini version perfections. Bitesize. Tiny confections glazed high in fluffy buttercream swirls. Chocolate with chocolate. Devil's food iced moist white cake. Carrot cake smothered in a light lemony cream cheese frosting. Sugared confetti. Fancy paper lace liners. Tiers of delicate petit-fours. A celebration for one. Personalized portions of delight.

So imagine my astonishment this morning as I opened the side door to let the finally and much-anticipated abundent sunshine stream into my office. There, centered on the granite landing, was a glorious gift. A clear cellophane wrapped package adorned with a festive green and blue checked french wire ribbon, its tails long and generous. Like the secret friend who sweetly blended creamy butter, sugar, eggs and flour to bake delicious. The delivery of this most special treat in the dark of the night. Delicately placed in a triangle were three temptresses. A trio of the loveliest little cakes this side of Sprinkles. The universe putting a smile on my face.

But wait. A word from your sponsor: Apologies dear readers. This is all wishful thinking. A mere figment of my over-active, under-fed imagination. Designed in part to cheer my spirits. Lift yesterday's melancholy. And create a bright spot in the calorie deficiting of the past few weeks. And, an ode to my darling sister, Mary, whose tiered cupcake stand replete with the most scrumptious array of sweet cakes adorned the island in her California kitchen during our recent visit.

While the sun did shine this morning after a notable absence of several days, alas there were no treats on my stoop. Which is a good thing since they are most definitely not on my diet. But, hey, a girl can dream! And, if I were the cupcake fairy mine would be baked lovingly as follows:

The Most Delicious Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes Ever


2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup water
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces melted unsweetened baking chocolate


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  • Combine all ingredients into large mixing bowl.
  • Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, and scrape bowl.
  • Mix at high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Fill liners 1/2 to 2/3 full of batter.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Less for mini cakes.
  • Cool 10 minutes in pans then remove from pan, and place on wire racks to cool completely.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream


In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter.

  • Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.
  • Decorate whimsically.

Frost cupcakes when completely cool. Share with (and or surprise) your family and friends. Everyone needs a bit of magic.

Cheers! I raise my glass of very cold milk lustfully. Salut to these most delicious fairy cakes!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back to the Future

Rewind the clock. Backward. Glimpse into what might have been. The 'if onlys'. Not the regrets. Nor the shoulda-woulda-coulda insights. No. None of that. Just select the Reset button. Double-click on Restore Defaults. Defrag the hard drive so to speak. Shake it out. Clear my head. Polish the rose colored glasses. Sand the cracking lens. Refocus. Swallow to remove the persistent lump in my throat.

These past few months have been doozies. In fact the prior half year. Winter blahs. Flooding basement. Shrinking wallet. Feigned smiles. Energized only by my writings. My musings. My dreams. Not quite knowing how I will pull it off. Reaching deep inside for the energies to refashion my life. Quiet the storm. Reimagine the possibilities.

Now my right knee is crippling my daily strolls with my beloved Bailey through our village neighborhood and climbs up the curved stairs with very narrow steps built by out of work ship carpenters in the mid 19th century to my bedroom. My spirit is also crippled with the inability to perambulate freely in or out of the house.

The good news? That proverbial silver lining I seek in every life trial? I cannot get to the kitchen as often! I have dropped ten pounds. No exercise! forecasts sun for tomorrow. With mild breezes in the high 50s. Now that lightens my mood considerably. Anyway ... too much introspection makes Alice a dull and tiresome girl.

Thursday will be cheerier. N'est-ce pas?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Grilled Cheese of Another Name

A grilled cheese is a grilled cheese. Right? Orange gelatinous ... but oh so tasty to my budding toddler palette ... Kraft's Velveeta sliced from the two pound cube in the never-needed-to-be-refrigerated box between two slices of butter soaked Wonder Bread melted perfectly in our well-seasoned black cast iron skillet accompanied by Campbell's Tomato Soup made with whole milk, Mmmmm. Nums.

A grilled sandwich is just that: ordinary fillings between two pieces of your bread of choice sizzling in a greased frying pan, served hot and gooey. For special occasions embellished with tomatoes. Or thinly sliced ham. Typical ingredients from the modern 1960s kitchen. Peanut butter with bacon one of our family favorites. Willy, our adventuresome brother, experimented with then exotic fillings often to the wonder of his three sisters ... or utter disgust.

Grilled sandwiches. Treasured deviations from the routine of bologna and Hellman's with slices of sweet pickles. A treat extraordinaire. Producing the most scintillating aroma wafting out the screen door luring us inside - our tummies growling, our mouths watering. We dropped everything at the first gong of the rusty cow bell. The ball being tossed. The kite string. Construction of the imaginary village under the hemlocks on the Spring Drive side of the house. Raced to take our places at the stools at the 'modern' island in the center of our kitchen. Enticed by the familiar scent of melting cheese, butter and tomatoes. Heated golden brown until the bread crisps just so and the cheese oozes yellow onto the skillet. Perfect for dunking. Delicious.

The most gourmet version for Charlie and me well into the aughts? Croque-monsieur served with fresh Dijon mustard in those darling little Quimper pots with the small wooded spoons accompanied by the crispiest of pommes frites at a tiny round café table facing the streetscape of a charming Provençal village. Hands down. Quintessential. Melted perfection belying its Proustian origins in an early 20th century Parisian establishment.

Sometime between the end of the last century and now, the mundane grilled sandwich with its peasant origins sophisticated into a gourmet dining pleasure of many a sandwich lover. Drum roll ... the panini! My two George Foreman grilling machines morphed instantly overnight to create this new twist to an ancient repast marrying a hunk of bread, a piece of cheese and fire.

Take two slices of ciabatta. Stuff them with delicious goodies such as mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto, fresh basil, roasted red peppers, and whatever else makes you happy. Brush with extra Virgin olive oil, and press between the hot plates of a counter-top grill for the best Italian style sandwich outside of Italy.

My son the consummate sandwich lover, an incarnation of the Earl who bestowed his very name onto thick slabs of coarse and usually stale food-soaked bread, enraptures at the marvels created lovingly by me, the Mama, upon his brief visits home. Breakfast. Lunch. And dinner. As for me? If on a desert island the one food I would want? I'll happily devour anything wrapped in, grilled in, sandwiched between two fresh slices.

Am off to the kitchen for a scrumptious, yet highly mundane lunch: grilled cheese and a TaB. Join me! Cheers until tomorrow ...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Too Little, Too Late

2018 ... at sixty seven (if I am not living the life of an ex-pat in some third world country leveraging the development of their economy) I'll have been Medicare eligible for two years. That's when the real changes go into effect from the 'historic' health care reform passed by the House of Representatives over the weekend.

But hey. What about those of us individual self-employed insureds now? Where's the benefit for us? The baby boomers who have been downsized in a shrinking economy and are going it alone? Especially those of us in Maine where the monopolistic Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield has a virtual stranglehold on the market? Where the other major health care insurance providers have been squeezed out of the state or are rated very poorly by Bests and the Maine Insurance Commission for fraudulent marketing practices. Where remaining players now offer competitive pricing a dollar or two below the usurious premiums in place by Anthem.

I am angry. Very. For a tad under $500 per month ... nearly $6,000 a year BEFORE rapidly excalating medical costs .... my annual individual Lumenos coverage allows me the privilege to 'contribute' to an HSA (health savings account) to cover the $5,000 deductible. That's for me. One person. Not a family. Not my son. Moi seulement. And to make matters worse Anthem decides which medical payments and what percentage are applicable towards the deductible. No rhyme. No reason. No advance notice.

Falling through the cracks. Living further off the grid. Hell ... I am not even on the page.

Even the New York Times is astonished: With so many mechanisms available to hold down medical costs, it’s hard to believe that they won’t bear fruit, if not in the next several years then in the decade thereafter.

But I suppose, despite the vitriolic legislative process, political wrangling and utter polarization of our out-of-touch, selfish Representatives and Senators in Washington with lifetime guarantees of a government provided health care coverage we the citizens are not entitled to without running for office and being elected, the process has begun.

Cheers? All the more reason to get out of Dodge!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

(Ac)Counting On An Early End To Winter

It's 7 o'clock and still twilight. Lovely this early daylight savings. Only thing is ... the temperature dropped thirty degrees in one day. Throughout the house clunky radiators, quiet for nearly a week, hiss and spit steam. Brrr. Must remember it is still winter in northern New England. Planting time two months out. Not until after Mother's Day up here. Pity. The past few days of warm sunshine, nothing but a tease. But hey ... this girl can take a joke so bring it on.

May be jinxing the whole early spring thing. Snow tires off tomorrow. A bit early, but the car also needs an oil change. Efficient time management. Risky perhaps. I should know. It can snow until what seems like summer everywhere in the country. March blizzards occur frequently. Sometimes later.

So you can imagine the surprise, no total shock, to awaken early the morning of May 10, 1977 leap out of my bed for my much dreaded accounting final, throw open the yellowing rollup shades to find that a fluke spring storm dumped 8 inches of the white stuff. My snazzy Fiat 128 Special (that's Fix It Again, Tony), the one that the Chevron station at the corner of Huron and Concord jump-started every morning courtesy of AAA and a faulty choke ) was shrouded. And the test was at 9 sharp. Two hours of pure panic ensued.

Metro Boston roads and highways were snarled. Jonquils were a'bloom peeking from under inches of fluff. Trees cracked and branches toppled to the ground. The wet snow too weighty for winter weary limbs bursting with newborn lime green leaves. Everywhere the streets were blocked. Yikes. No broadcast announcements of any kind for school closings. Or at least not for Babson. No cell phones so once you were out there. You were out there. My exam was on. Drove the seventeen miles from the grey, asbestos shingled Cambridge double-decker apartment on Tierney Street to the Wellesley Hills campus circumnavigating roadblocks and fallen limbs.

Debits, credits, T-charts and accrued depreciation rules swirled inside my head. Crammed there until the words "Pencils out. Begin" were uttered. The slightest provocation prior to that unique moment in time would have tempted their flow prematurely into the stratosphere. I had to take that test. Quick. Or, horrors, my over-stuffed brain teeming with GAAP would melt releasing the gobbledy-gook into the universe.

I arrived haggard and late. Slid into an unplowed parking space, gathered my canvas LLBean bag with trusty HP-22, two Pentel mechanical .5MM pencils and a white eraser and ran at top speed into Horn Library. It was empty. Totally devoid of activity. Out of the corner of my eye I spied my professor heading out the door. Begging and cajoling teetering on the verge of quiet hysteria somehow he agreed to allow me to sit for the exam unproctored. But I had to pledge my first born if I breathed its contents to anyone.

So it happens. A burst of spring followed by winter's wrath. Only I pray not this year.

Cheers to the weather gods ...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In the Weeds

OK. Now I know why condos and coops are preferable to home ownership. I can hear the lawn mowers and hedge clippers from afar. Drifting in my windows generally interrupting my thoughts. Swarms of men armed with rakes and hoes and clippers and their ride-ons parked neatly on their open-back pickups.

These men migrate up from agrarian Latin America following the crops and the season. New England in the summers. The truck pulls up and like Barnum & Bailey Keystone Cops zillions emerge undaunted on the steamiest afternoon broiling in the hot sun. Straw hats and mesh tank tops. Or, in the pouring rain just to stay on schedule. Same outfit.

Condo dwellers don't need to make frequent shopping sprees to Home Depot or Lowes. No need to own yard tools. Or mulch. Or topsoil. Or seed. Absolutely no clutter. No need for a garage. A tool shed. Nada. Easy living. Just park my Volvo in the lot, smile and saunter up to the front door ... weather be damned.

But noooooooo. Not now. Coffers dwindling precipitously. My curb appeal needing to stay tidy. After all my antique village home is on walking tours and in plain view. Impecunious me. Where are the Honduran yard guys who came weekly in Connecticut? My yard never looked so good. Yes, Miss Alice, I add mulch here? Where you want the flowers, Miss Alice? I really should have appreciated them more. 'Cause this year and for the foreseeable future I am virtually on my own. And I haven't a clue. Not a master gardener like Bonnie on Storer Street. Not particularily fond of playing in the dirt to tidy the grounds. All one third of an acre. The Biddeford boys will still arrive weekly and back their John Deere off the ramp into my lawn but that is it. What's this arthritic, non-gardener to do?

But whoa nellie. Something happened. The sun is out. The temperatures in the high 60s. I grabbed my trusty outdoor implements. The few I have in the garage ... a snow shovel, a broom, a rake, a recycling bin and gloves with holes at the tips of a few fingers. Pointed myself reluctantly to the closest winter abused bed to dethatch, pull stray two foot high blades of grass with even longer root systems, rake last November's dried up oak leaves that fell after the others were whisked away. My thick chestnut hair tied in a scrunchy saved for cleaning tasks. Black sweats and last millennium's bright lime zipper front sweatshirt from the sale table at the GAP.

The strategist in me created a plan. Implementation my forté. Front yard Friday until 3 then a bath and my reward ... a movie at a real theatre! Back of the house today. Today was going to be a doozy. No movie. No nothing. Except I did stop a few times to play with Bailey who was so delighted to have her momma OUTSIDE. And to chat with neighbors with wheelbarrows, spades and hoes. I admit I was a bit jealous. My knee throbbed. Bailey loved it. I was in her turf for the better part of two days. TREATS in my pocket. And its done. Saved myself scads of $$$$ ... spent the better part of two days in the warm almost spring air ... and not near my 'fridge! The trifecta.

Amazing. I enjoyed the rhythm of making these beds sparkle. The hum of finishing an area and hobbling to the next. I actually accomplished a lot.

Am off to pour a large glass of Bordeaux. Boston Brigham and Women's Hospital noted in a medical journal this week that women who drink from time to time do not have a propensity to become obese. That and dark chocolate? I may even tackle the triangle behind the Chinese Chippendale teak bench tomorrow. It would be a lovely spot for forsythia.



What is that white blur? A hobbitt? A brillig? An illusion? Nope there it goes again. A bunny! I see it is wearing a waistcoat. Not sure about trousers. Fairfield, Charlie's stuffed buddy with red felt overalls/no shirt, would be pleased.

Oh. There it goes. Darting in and out while I finish weeding behind the teak bench in the corner of my yard. A figment of my overactive imagination? Delusional from the über-diet I am following coupled with way too much yard work? I think not.

Bailey looks up from lapping water from the cement clam shell bird bath over by her bushes. The place where she cools down in the summer curling up on the damp pine mulch in the shady corner between the house and the back porch steps. She sees it too. Racing over to check for herself. The ruff of fur on her back standing at attention as she gallops in my direction. Delirious with sniffing. Bellowing as only she can do. Punctuating the neighborhood mid-day quiet with her yelps of excitement.

Whoosh. That speedy bastard must be wearing Nikes. Nikes and a colorful club-heart-spade-diamond waistcoat. Behind the bush. Under the car. Into the burn pile where I have been casting twigs, branches and last summer's now dry hosta spikes.

The perpetual Alice, I have been chasing the white rabbit for most of my life. That ... and yo-yo dieting oft appearing smaller than my normal self and in a spin of the head towering. Looming large. Literally and figuratively. Nonsensical adventures to most. But not me. Entirely logical in that life-in-chapters kind of way that defines my journey. Illustrating my ability to adapt regardless. Boredom propelling me to explore the unknown. But once. Just once. I'd like to have a talk-to with that rabbit, or whatever the madcap creature is who is in such a hurry darting about furiously upsetting the calm. Luring me. Hypnotizing, indeed. Distracting little bugger.

What the hell? Bailey and I discovered what seems like a rabbit den or a cave for some other species. Next to the Invisible Fence wire so she is barking but keeping a safe few feet away. Yes. The gaping holes between the roots of the 40 foot pine which along with its mates borders my yard. [Note to self: Have tree men check this out pronto so this graceful Maine evergreen doesn't topple onto my house in the next Nor'easter. That would be a bummer of major proportions.] The soggy ground giving way to a portal. [Better call the exterminator with the Have-a-Heart cage, too.]

Should I follow the white blur? I have been doing the math for this past week. Putting my strategy, my plans in perspective. The next steps on the highway c'est moi. Not sure it adds up. But, as queen of my very own (albeit tiny) kingdom, I will follow my heart. My head is sure to join us. The disembodied smile of Tikka, my neighbor's pewter cat with chartreuse eyes gazes through me. What if my head doesn't? It most assuredly should. Or, off with it altogether.

So its settled. Onward and upward. Confusion and doubt be gone with you. Too much introspection. I'm mad as a hatter. And fifty-nine times as zany. But I am baffled nonetheless. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Tip your porcelain teacup to jabberwocky ... I'm off through the looking glass! And to devour that tray of pecan tarts cooling on the counter. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sump Pumps, Wet Vacs and a 4.4 Quake

Bummer. Pots of gold? Luck of the Irish? Hardly. More like pots and pots and pots of ground water seeping from every crevice and crack in my 160 year old cellar. Five more inches of rain soaked the already saturated earth. Sump pumps humming. Wet vac working overtime. I really didn't need this. Not now.

Arrived home to a starry mild dark blue night. The gorgeous off the chart week of sunshine, my darling sister's celebration week brilliant in my mind's eye. Perfectly orchestrated. Paradise. All of it. Sister time. Niece and nephew time. Extended family and childhood friends. Picture perfect in and out. Through and through. Newport Beach cloudless azure skies. Snow-capped San Gabriel mountains In the distance. Rocky Catalina Island just a waitin' for me!

Wouldn't you know it? Just as the calm spread like silk through my being, fury was erupting on the other coast. A heads up that anyone can be thrown out of paradise. Doesn't take much. A bite from an apple. A rejection from the big apple. The apple of my eye.

A spring Nor'easter churned the clouds again. Poured rain by the foot. The weather gods and Mother Nature angry. Very. Flexing their muscles. Conspiring and cajoling. The Los Angeles ground shimmied at 4:30 yesterday morning. The harbinger. The alarm to get out of bed, get dressed and move, girl. Don't miss the flight. Not the BIG one, mind you. But most assuredly a wake up call to get my ass in gear. A creaking realignment by the psychic omniscient chiropractor. The atmosphere fraught with subliminal messages. My inner peace at risk. Shaken. Not stirred. Olives banging me on the head. Zapping me to reality.

LLBean duck shoes. My nightgown wrapped around my waist. Middle of the night treks to the damp, now mildewing basement to suck the water oozing through the cracks. Tears mixed with streams of water lapping at my feet. Need to dry it up. Bring on the vermouth.

Forecast for tomorrow? Drier with less puddling. Cheers to the lemony crocus peering out of the soggy earth!

Club Izzy

What a night! What an event! Party planning extraordinaire. My sister amazingly recreated the bright lights big city scene at Limelight in 1980s Manhattan (sans the Bolivian marching powder!) for her daughter's birthday bash on the other coast some twenty five years later. Planned lovingly for nearly three years. No detail overlooked. My god. She did it. Gracefully. Club Izzy rocks!

Strobing flashes of brilliant multi-colored hues transforms the chocolate brown room into a riot of benign pyrotechnics. Streaming video of the evening's guests laced with snapshots from what seems like another lifetime blasts onto the silver screens. White hot pulsating notes permeate our bodies hopping up our heart rates as we half walk-half dance through the darkened tunnel papered with all things Izzy into the pink cloud.

On the dance floor the music was almost visible. Neon bracelets sparkle chartreuse, azure and tangerine around the slender arms of newly minted teenage girls and their tween friends teetering on metallic strappy high heels. Their mini-dresses adorably short short reveal scrapes from their childhood afternoons on the soccer field. Giggling like children they morph sophisticated into young ingénues right before our eyes tossing their shiny tresses like Miley or Taylor. Excitement oozes from every movement as they balance on the brink. Life unfolds before them like the tunnel from which they had just emerged. The young boys slicked their blond locks into spikes trying to conceal the innocence their faces betrayed.
Lightening pulses of colored lights pop around the room. The DJ warms up the crowd. Whipping us all into a frenzy. Even the fifty-something crowd whose not as taut arms are held high in the air clapping to the hip-hop beat. While our post-menopausal hips sway wildly our muscle memory from frat parties in the sixties and early 70s not missing a trick. The men, the daddies, watch bemusedly from the sidelines, swilling scotch.

Plumes of the hottest cherry blossom pink ostrich feathers festively adorn the tables. A life-size boa circling Club Izzy's dance floor. Disco tempo. Adrenalin rush. The excitement palpable as we await the entrance of my precious niece, Isabel, who earlier in the day rocked Temple Bat Yahm with her poise, dedication and glorious voice.

Isabel, our precious, precocious Izzy, the star of this evening's festivities, swirled in brilliant pink satin and emerges rocking a pop tune into her hand held mic, twirling a boa and pointing to her screaming 'fans' clapping to the hyper beat and cheering her on. It was only yesterday when this innocent twinkly eyed girl bopped around her pale pink carousel decorated bedroom gyrating wildly to the radio, a shampoo bottle in her hand, a tiara tangled in her curly hair. A glimpse fast forwarded to this long awaited moment in time when she would wow her friends, family and DJ dancers with her incredible talent and confidence.

Izzy, our darling, is poised confidently at the threshold of young womanhood a steel magnolia. Graceful. Self-assured. Resilient. Enthusiastic. Embracing life's potentials. Imagining the possibilities. Her mother has taught her well. She celebrates this joyous occasion in a festive blur of cotton candy confections, adoring BFFs and swirling dancers young and not so. Mamma Mia!

Cheers to Mary, my darling sister! I lift my glass in awe. Your beloved Isabel Rose rocked the house.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


What can I say? A spa suite, no less. Gorgeous view over the fourteenth hole of the Newport Beach Country Club all the way to the Pacific. Catalina Island shimmering on the horizon. Very La-La Land. Pampered.

But wait. The rooms have the appearance of plush elegance. Until you start unpacking. Whoops. The light for the large closet and its foyer 'dressing room' is far far away. By the front door.

And hey what's this? Gorgeous evening clothes lined up with choices of glamorous shoes. Silky 3 inch sandals. Or lizard high tony pointy pumps. But wait. Nope. No full length mirror. My mom and I taking turns aiming the 8X magnifying mirror in the bathroom to the floor and then scanning our torsos to see which works. What a hoot.

Even the bathroom in all its marble and gold chrome splendor has no towel racks. Not one. Oh yay. Next to the tub is a tiny hook to drape a nightgown and peignoir set falling ever so gracefully hiding the light switch and dimmer. Not sure where to put the not-so-plush bath towels. But this'll work. I'll hide the damp ones under the marbleized vanity until the morning. Then pop them out to be whisked away. Ingenious, if I do say so myself. And it is a suite after all. I am rolling in clover. Kind of.

Let me check out the mini-bar. Take inventory of the goodies safely stowed on those cool, well stocked shelves. Nums. Late night treats of the candy and liquid varieties. After hour munchies and spirits ... no last calls here. But hey! Where is that bad boy? Found the safe on the floor. That's needed. But no tiny fridge. Oh ... there it is. In the desk cabinet. It's empty. WTF? Not sure what I am supposed to chill. Meds? Nail polish? Sadly not wine or mixers. There is nary a grocery or package store to be found in all of Fashion Island.

A bit Marriottish, if you ask me. Cheers ... pour this girl a drink!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Slow to Post: Ramblings from the Other Coast Delayed

... am in not so sunny southern California where the temperatures are as chilly as those we left yesterday morning in wintertime New England. But the views of Catalina Island from my sister's stunning hillside home are rivaled only by the majestic palms leading up the drive.

My musings will be delayed. Overtaken by to the festivities of this joyous family event so long in the making. But take heart ... I have copious notes written on envelopes and napkins from the past few days that are sure to entertain. It has been zany to say the least. And quite the ride.

So kick back ... add another maraschino cherry and a dash of bitters. I'll be right back. Cheers!

Come Fly With Me

It's o'dark thirty and the house has been busy for hours. Boonie, my mother's eighty-six year old convivant, was unloading the dishwasher a few hours ago, the sound of clanging pots and clinking glasses awakening us way before the alarms on our cell phones could beep us awake. Yikes. We had hours before the car service would fetch us for the 90 minute drive down the coast to Logan airport.

Mom, looking fresh and revitalized after a recent visit to her "skin" doctor, fidgeted with her contact lenses and after dropping them in the sink one too many times uttered a few unmentionables not befitting her mostly graceful octogenarian demeanor. Gave up on them altogether and grabbed the Sophia Loren oversized glasses from her Longchamps bag. Looking oh so chic. Even at this ungodly hour.

I was being paged. Loudly. Seems I couldn't get attired quickly enough. Boonie needed an assist ASAP. Oh my. This morning had all the makings of a very hectic day. Holding my index finger against the side of my neck I massaged until I could get my being to relax. Patience. Patience. I needed some Zen calming potion and an OM thrown in for good measure. All this and the sun hadn't even erupted into the eastern sky.

We managed to jam five heavy heavy suitcases, three carryons and our purses into the back of the tightly packed Jeep and pile into the car. My stepfather's still nose bleeding from a deep gash on his left nostril from hasty shaving in the middle of the night. Our driver's eyes drooping from working the late shift. I tightened my seat belt and stared out the window as the sky turned pinkish purple and the stars vanished before my eyes.

Mind you I am in charge. The three of us ... two octogenarians and me ... dropped in the middle of the access road near the terminal with our overpacked luggage some wheeless and nary a skycap in sight. Gone with the 9/11 rules for a streamlined 21st century travel experience. So I was the man. The guy. The one who had to figure out how to manage all these suitcases, my aging parents and my not so awake self and herd unbalanced us through the long, passenger filled maze twisting around toward the check in counters. I needed some serious meds. Sadly have none. Zen. OMmmmmmmmmmm. Deep breaths.

Finally the bags were on the conveyor belt to the bowels of the airport. I was praying they wouldn't make it onto the plane so JetBlue could taxi them to our hotel in Newport Beach. The thought of dealing with these on the other side rang terror in my almost calmed heart. At least for the time being it was manageable. Not. The long security lined loomed. I looked at my mom, her 'boy' friend and the grey plastic bins were we would place most of our clothing and shoes for the x-rayers to examine.

Yikes. Flying today was all the more hectic after the underpants bomber's Christmas escapade. Hospital gowns with the hiney flaps flying in the breeze comes to mind. My Mom finally agreed to remove her neck pillow, all her jewelry and jacket. But somehow the alarm still sounded. In the next aisle, my step-father was dripping blood from his shaving wound. Thin skin closes very very slowly. Yep. Herding ducks.

We slid into our seats at the gate. Exhausted. The sun was just peeking over the horizon. In moments we would be nestled on the big silver bird jetting across the country. Naptime for all.

A round of Bloody Marys for all ... cheers ... and happy flying!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hollywood (and Vine) Seedy

What was that all about? And I'm a shoe-in. Die-hard loyal. Never miss the production. Ever.

Not even when touring another continent. I have watched the Academy Awards, the mother of all award shows, over the years in every place imaginable. Haven't missed a beat. Not once. Not since I was old enough to stay up past my bedtime.

Over the years the venue changed drastically, but the TV was tuned to the broadcast. Once at a come-as-your-favorite-nominee watch party in the third floor walkup belonging to Duard and Steve (or was it Billy and Jukebox?) on St. Catherine Street. Me as Ali MacGraw's Jenny to my sister Robin as Ryan O'Neal's Oliver. Not sure if either won, or was even nominated. But we were toasted. Um. Mostly from the rum punch. Certainly not our Kentucky Home tweeds which really were not costumes at all. But no one was the wiser!

A few years ago my cousin Jeanne and I, dressed to the 9s and looking our version of sultry, perched stunningly on bar stools in Manhattan swilling dirty martinis, the three televisions hanging over the bar trained to the Kodak Theatre's red carpet. As svelte twenty- and thirty-something couturier clad actresses paraded along the red carpet on the other coast, frustrated sports fans bellowed loudly slamming billiard balls and tossed the occasional peanut in our direction.

Another year, snuggling in a 600 count Frette duvet on a cushy over-stuffed sofa in the foyer of a most charming Relais et Chateaux auberge near Avignon I sipped bubbly alone while in the quietude of a sleeping village watching Les Oscars entièrement en français. Hollywood glamour and sizzle melts me always.

But last night's production ... to put it mildly ... sucked. Not the winners (and hey, when did they go back to "The Winner Is" instead of the more neutral and not condescending "And the Oscar Goes to"?) ... but the show itself. Two baby boomer comedians not one bit funny. Not one bit. And we all had high hopes for our Saturday Night Live alums. The lines played out like Bob Hope or Jack Benny. Lame, if you ask me. Fell flat. The four hour extravaganza lopsided. Neil Patrick Harris belting out show tunes rediculouso... a 21st century's pathetic rendition of Billy Crystal memorable opening sequence a decade ago. Dismal. To think they pay real $$ for that ... boatloads to boot.

Redeeming factors? Those fabulous dancers choreography extraordinaire. And Hurt Locker's stunning sweep

I am a small movie kind of gal so was cheering in my darkened bedroom when Avatar was shunned over and over. Kathryn Bigelow , a triumph. Sweet revenge. Grabbing not one, but two golden boys and looking oh so faboo in that pewter gown. BIG ... the first Oscar to a female director. Not for puffery. No Meg Ryan or Diane Keaton romantic comedy. But a sucker punch of a film. Tense, intense, brilliant. The horrors of war and (confusing to this pacifist) the adrenalin rush addiction shot on a bona fide hot, sandy dessert several hundred miles from Humvees and roadside bombs. Crash. You go girl.

My bags are packed. Head to La-La-Land at o'dark thirty tomorrow. So apologies in advance for sporadic posts on my take of an over-the-top event where over-the-top events are the norm. My Kentucky pure-bred sister, Mary, has been trying ever so diligently to tighten the reins on those Beverly Hills caterers on no Bel Air pocketbook and keep this refined and elegant. A most gracious week comparable to the Twin Spires inspired hospitality to which we are accustomed.

Hollywood, you can do better than that. Way better. But to Ms. Bigelow, I add an extra olive to my glass. Cheers!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Miss Bailey: Momma is Outta Here

Oh. Oh. I know something is up. Momma is carrying up those big black things with handles from the basement. Her things are everywhere. She has piles of stuff on the table. Oh boy. Wherever I look things are out of place. I am getting nervous. Oh, Momma, please don't go away.

Oh oh. I know she is going to leave me at that camp in the country. Where there are other dogs, but I can hear them bark. No fair. I can smell them and see them only when it is their turn to go out and TINK. I do like my people there. They are so nice and give me TREATS. Just not as many as Momma. And, there are fewer tummy rubs. But those little boys are fun to watch. They zoom around the barn on those funny looking machines with wheels beeping their squeaky horns and ringing some bells. Makes me go outside to my very own backyard.

Mostly I just zone out on my trampoline bed a few inches off the floor. Looking sad. Waiting for Momma. Every time my camp people come in I think Momma will be with them. I sniff and sniff but can't smell her sweet scent or hear her bracelets rattle. They make the same noise as the charms on my sundress collar. We sound alike, Momma and me. But we don't smell alike. Nope. I smell like a dog. Sometimes a wet dog. She always smells so good. I like to see if I can tell where she has been when she comes home. I can sometimes smell that bad boy Moby. But my favorite is when I can smell Grandbobbie or my Charlie. Gheesh. I wish she would take me when she sees them.

Oh oh. I can hear her shutting drawers and walking across the floor. I wanna go UPSTAIRS to lie in CHARLIE'S ROOM so I can be close. A big stack of laundry is on the bottom step blocking my way. Momma, please can I come UPSTAIRS. I am sulking now. Lying as close to the bottom step as I can get. My head on my front paws. I am so sad. Momma don't go.

Oh goody. Here she comes. And we are going for a WALK. I am wagging my tail so fast that I almost fall over. Ooops I do. I am so happy. I am smiling. Oh. Here she comes with my LEASH and a TREAT. I SIT and try to face her, but I really hate that thing. She slips it over my nose and neck. But sits. Momma? Are we going for a WALK? I lie down. She is putting on her clunky shoes and black sunglasses that make her look silly and chic at the same time. Momma, let's go. This is the best day ever. We are going OUTSIDE into the sunshine. I am going to see all my buddies. Sniff everywhere. TINK and sniff and wag my tail. Yep. I am such a happy girl. Maybe if I smile and show all my teeth and wag my tail and be so good she will not leave and take me to camp.

Cheers, Momma. Another TREAT, please!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Lone Ranger

There is a cowboy, he lives on the range. His horse and his cattle are his only companions. The tune rolls through my mind. Pervades my thoughts. Random moments deep into the black night. Up with the dawn. Ever since my posting the other day about tripping at the feet of sweet baby James in the spring of my youth.

A part of me has always wanted a cowboy. The essence of one really. One of those stronger than iron menfolk who could wrangle calves (or deals) during the day then two step across the bar room floor as gracefully as Nureyev. Oh so smart. And funny. And refined. And sensitive. Okay. Okay. None of those coexist in a cowboy. Or, most men for that matter.

So THAT is where I have screwed up. Attributes at odds. Taming a bucking bronco is easier. Essentially I'm fucked. Have been on the proverbial lookout for one of those bad boys for the past couple of decades. But hey ... I can't settle down. So why should he? Too many adventures. Too many trail rides into the sunset. Too many distractions. So I am riding solo. The worn leather reins tightly held in my fist, the smell of wildflowers in my hair. My tan suede cowgirl boots swinging. Independent. Vibrant. Sensual. But not (and I repeat not) needy.

Lookin' For Love In All The Wrong Places

That's it. Johnny Lee crooned about my plight. I have been looking for love in all the wrong places. Or, I am too strong to be attractive to a ranch hand. Relax, L'il Lady. Whoa! Slow down. But hey. This Kentucky girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. First I headed to the big apple. Then bean town. Then back to the big apple. Lord knows there are manly men up here. Kind of. Next stop Oklahoma. The edge of the prairie. But my damn brains keep getting in the way. Tripping over them. Several times. A girl has to make a living. And the business world was where I prospered. No one believed I am ambidextrous. Can bring home the bacon, cook it and serve it with a flourish!

Now it is nearly a decade later and I reside along the sea. Quietly. Too quietly. There is an energy buzz urging me to get back out there before it is too late. I bide my time, planning. As responsibilities lessen, I will continue distant travel ... exotic discoveries.

In the meantime I still have four states to visit. Three of which I might do this summer. A quick train ride across North Dakota and Montana then drop down to Oregon. Fly back. Photograph and write along the way. Hawaii can wait until I head east to Asia again. Or (or maybe that is 'and') I can pop over to Nova Scotia in my trusty Volvo exploring. Wanderlust propels me. That and the ubiquitous search for the lone cowboy who is man enough for this gal. And who will ride by my side into eternity. Or not. Like him I love the solitude and the pink-red sky right before it turns purple black glittering with a zillion tiny lights across the horizon. Oh baby!

Mama, Don't Let Your Sons Grow Up To Be Cowboys

Cheers ... to my cowboy! Or maybe Waylon and Willie set his mama straight and she didn't let her baby grow up to be a cowboy after all.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bored Meetings

What a day. This one goes down in the annuls. Crazy. Frustrating. Total and utter waste of time. Boring. Mind numbingly so. Zoned out. Way out. Nanoo nanoo. Scotty, beam me up. Up up and away.

Yikes. Meeting after meeting sucking the life out of the team. No one wanted the talking stick. Going nowhere. Policy votes needed. Infrastructure for this dysfunctional nonprofit required. Mandated by IRS, state law and Sarbanes-Oxley. Trying to fit a tight rubber ring over an amorphous, wiggling Silly Putty of a meeting. Herding ducks. Ooozed diplomacy. Fakely (if that is a word). Treacly sweet. Just to move off center.

Frustrations high. Volunteer committee. Community business professionals. Clock ticking incessantly. Nothing happening. The chief staff honcha paranoid. Her Twinkie-fed body blocking progress ... and the door. Stuck. Endless cycling. Nowheresville.

Ha! You get what you pay for! My letter of resignation safely in my draft folder waiting. Freshly penned. Just want to get it in before my other three comrades push SEND.

Tonight the martinis are flowing ... cheers!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Changing Closets

Lump in my throat. During the 90 minute drive home this afternoon. All the way from Cambridge up I-95. Snizzle wetting the windshield. Tears in my eyes. It's almost over. An era drawing to an end. Happy-sad. My boy is growing up. My darling Charlie.

Wasn't it just last week that his long graceful yet still chubby fingers wrapped tightly around mine as he nervously clutched his yellow plastic lunch box in the other hand? A teensy navy and green backpack monogrammed of course held an extra pair of undies and Madison ... just in case. First day of school. He was two. One day a week. Mondays. Mothers' Day Out. For me - Mothers' Day In - For a few weeks I waited the several hours as he dealt with the separation. First on the comfy bench outside his classroom. Graduating to the sofa in the director's office. Until finally I could go do some errands before picking him up after lunch. We both managed beautifully. The days have melted into one another. Years zipping by, smiling. Laughing. Learning. Experiencing.

Yesterday he finished the eighty-eight page draft of his honors thesis on the decolonization of Hong Kong. 88. Double infinity. An auspicious number for the Chinese. Symbolizing fortune and wealth. The luckiest of all numbers. The year of his birth. The month of his birth. His first night sleeping in his crib yellow and white chintz, Madison and Monkey Doodles at his side, at home. 8/8/88. The sun shines on my baby. He is blessed. The fortunate one. It has been a most delicious dream dripping love. Discoveries. Adventures. The most profound pleasure ... these past two decades. The 'dynamic duo' imagining the possibilities.

He graduates from college in May. So today marks the end of our annual ritual. Switching closets from winter corduroys, wool cable knit sweaters, scarves and boots to the pastels of spring. Since he schools away from home, and has for six years, this is not your typical up to the attic or down to the basement. Uh-uh. It involves me, my station wagon, many LL Bean bags and a 90 minute trek down I-95. The mid-March drive to Massachusetts. Back of my Volvo filled to the brim with Charlie's spring clothes and warm weather gear on the way down; winter woolens and down parkas on the way home.

Next year he might be in Hong Kong or Singapore. No need for seasonal changes of clothes. Summer year round. Or in Moscow. Yes. There he'll need to switch from winter warm and cozy to summer lights. Or in London. But the Volvo won't be making the trek. No longer. C'est fini. Obsolescence. The mama needs. My sweet boy will be changing before someone else's eyes. All grown up and out in the world. Rooted. Loved. Cherished. No matter the season.

Cheers to my heart ... his journey ... and him knowing I am always here at the ready. Always!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I am a yo-yo dieter. A green Duncan Imperial with teensy flecks of silver glitter embedded within its plastic core. My loop-d-loops and walk the dog sparkle. A virtual spinning queen. My twirls amaze me. Up. Down. Circles. Thrown downwards I descend toward that elusive goal. Then by seemingly by inertia gravity is defied and the climb winds up until the yo-yo is grabbed, ready to be thrown again.

Repeat. Toss. Unravel. Spring back up. Finish line beyond grasp. Clothes getting tight again. Then oh so much better. But wait. Even daily walks don't keep the demons at bay. The familiar chrome yellow bag of peanut M&Ms at the checkout counter. The urge to bake for friends, board meetings, hostess gifts. Truth be told because I like to lick the bowl. Temptations lurk. Everywhere. Up. Down. Up. Down.

It is nearly half a decade and I know where it is. My yo-yo. Can go to it blind. Safely nestled in the lidless plastic Tupperware container that has divided the art supplies from my memorabilia in the bottom drawer of my cherry Queen Anne slant top desk in the bedroom. Right next to the red and scratched silver metal kazoo from my All Girls Kazoo band on tour in 1971 Santa Fe.

Not a real girls group, mind you. We just needed a gig so we could dazzle the hippie patrons of that smoke filled coffee house near the plaza where local Navajos spread colorful blankets along the sidewalks of the pueblo-inspired buildings selling turquoise bracelets and concho belts. Sophomore intersession. Eight long limbed, long haired young women studying the effects of multiculturalism on the legislation New Mexico at the time of Cesar Chavez and striking itinerant farmers from south of the border. Pass/fail, of course.

God, I'm off track. Very. Yo-yos. Fluctuations. Up. Down. Around. Embarrassing really. In the span of 59 days I have been almost two-thirds there. The finish line in the cross hairs. Twice. Shed 9 pounds two times since champagne corks popped a few months ago. Gained it back in a matter of moments. And the trip to southern California for Izzy's big day is next week. Need to fit slimmingly into my clothes. It is after all Oscar week. Time to take my Duncan for a spin. It's either that or Spanxx. Four more to go. Again!

Cheers ... this time to success. Yo-yo, be damned!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rest Stop

Everyone needs a day off. Everyone! Me included. I slowed down from moving too fast and spent today looking for fun and feeling groovy. Join me out in the sunshine. And whatever you do, enjoy skipping out on ... whatever.

Cheers! Until tomorrow.

Monday, March 1, 2010


As promised. This morning I jump-started research on the CELTA program in Hanoi for their fall sessions. Several options for this intensive month long training.

Also, snuck a peek at options in China. With one billion people and the party's ruling that all Chinese under 50 must learn standard Mandarin and English in addition to their ethnic tongue. So the entire country is desperate for teachers. So is South Korea and southeast Asia. Fierce competition to train ESL staff. Lured by their willingness to provide room, board, transportation costs ... plus sign up/contract bonuses to stay in-country. Caveat: You get what you pay for. Literally.

Trepidation seeps through my soul that I am even considering being at the mercy of a non-Western Communist government. You WILL like it here. No complaints. Off with her head, the Red Queen screeched.

Know the drill only too well. The lack of 'stars' on student housing. Sub-par for Americans of a certain age! Food? They love scorpion satay! But, what really is the deal breaker, the breaking point, are the freakish salles de bains pour les femmes. Holes in the floor. Watch your step. Squatters we are not. My hair, however, will be well treated. That I already know. You do too.

China needs fluent English speakers. We all know that. English is the way of the world. Business especially. Tours are offered in two languages: Mandarin and English. Translators for translators required for those unfortunate tourists not fluent in my mother tongue. Too bad for the Poles, the Ruskies, the Brazilians ... anyone who doesn't know either.

Two truisms re China: (1) Not only are they overtaking the global economy, but (2) their signs are hilarious. Younger, English speaking Chinese know how to translate. But the whole face saving aspect makes them reluctant to correct their managers.

The results are hysterical:

  • A road sign on Beijing's Avenue of Eternal Peace warns of a dangerous pavement with the words: "To Take Notice of Safe; The Slippery are Very Crafty".
  • Emergency exits at Beijing airport read "No entry on peacetime".
  • The Ethnic Minorities Park is named "Racist Park".
  • At one of the bigger train stations a huge sign which states simply "Question Authority". Eeeks. What is this incredibly heavily controlled officially Communist state saying? LOL ... the sign points to the Information Booth.
  • Menus frequently list items such as "Corrugated iron beef", "Government abuse chicken" and "Chop the strange fish". But the one that really gets to me: worm pig stomach. Now you understand about my free board issue!
Thumbs up to teaching English in a foreign land ... and god help me for not knowing their language! Cheers!