Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween Consumption

One of my tutoring students told me yesterday that she's too old to dress up for Halloween. I didn't tell her that I was dressing up myself.

Our friends have a Halloween party every year. They spend hours decorating their house, inside and outside--ghosts, skeletons and spider webs.

The theme this year was Mardi Gras. I saw some incredible authentic masks from New Orleans (courtesy of the hosts and fellow travelers to the Big Easy.) A few of the women wore beautiful gowns as well. I didn't wear much of a costume--my real clothes with a multi-colored glittery top hat, glittery makeup and several strings of beads. I taped a feathered mask to a chopstick and carried it. It was passable, but not particularly creative. It would help if I didn't wait until the last minute to decide on a costume.

At a party store, Jeff saw a jester costume that he liked. The $125 price tag was the end of that. I balked at $40 for a cape. It just seems silly to spend a lot of money for a one-time event. Even more of an issue is--where do we put all the stuff after Halloween? We just don't have a lot of space. Our storage bin already has two big boxes of Christmas decorations and two small Christmas trees. At least we use them every year. I don't see myself wearing the same Halloween costume year after year.

After today, I guess we're officially into Christmas season, though some stores have already put out Christmas merchandise. At least I haven't heard any Christmas carols yet.

But for now I have to figure out where to store the top hat, beads and masks. Then there are the five bags of candy for our non-existent trick-or-treaters.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I've been in cocoon mode for over a week now. I've taken Spike for walks and the dog park, run some errands and had two tutoring appointments, but otherwise stayed close to home.

I did some good things--cooking and food prep, SAT practice tests and a little flurry of blogging activity. But, for the most part I've been self-indulgent--watching TV, playing yatzhee and rummikub.

But now it's been going on long enough. This is the week for me to get out and about. Yesterday on my walk with Spike, I felt optimistic. We were walking through the hospital parking lot and I saw two matching maple trees--the same size and the same pinkish orange leaves. It made me smile.

Later walking around Cranbury Park, I turned around, saw Spike and felt my heart open. Things can't be that dark if I have him. I've relied on him and of course Jeff. I just hope I haven't dumped on them too much.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Tonight we had angel hair pasta with the marinara sauce I made yesterday. It was the best sauce I ever made. I worry that I'll be never be able to reproduce the exact recipe. I used some new spices from Wildtree--scampi and garlic herb spice mixes.

I made a side salad of romaine and we finished the last of the carrot jicama salad. For dessert, fresh strawberries, blackberries, a peach, with a splash of Grammy's raspberry liquor (my mother makes it for Jeff) and some champagne sorbet.

Delicious--I feel as if I'm finally out of my food rut.

Posting Notes

This is my twelfth post this month--a new record, surpassing my high of 11 posts in July.

This is also my fifty-first post. It's not a major accomplishment, but it's something. And it will get better.

Cooking and Food Prep

Yesterday, I got into my home-mode. I made spaghetti sauce, lentil and walnut salad, carrot and jicama salad, and a third salad of cherry tomatoes, avocado, English cucumber, jicama and red pepper over greens.

Last night we had the salads with stuffed shrimp and scallops. We reserved the sauce for tonight with some fresh angel hair pasta. I also have some carrot ginger soup I made last week.

Sometimes living in a cocoon can be beneficial.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bringing Up Baby

This is the quintessential screwball comedy and my fourth favorite movie.
A madcap heiress ropes a reluctant paleontologist into helping her transport a tame, music-loving leopard from New York City to Connecticut. What could be screwier than that?

Katharine Hepburn is charming and intoxicating and Cary Grant is at his flustered best. They first meet on the golf course when Susan Vance (Hepburn) plays the ball of David Huxley (Grant) interrupting his important game. Next she takes off in his car. Things just get crazier from there at a nightclub with the olive trick and the ripped dress, a drive around Riverside. Then the fateful trip to Connecticut: an encounter with a pair of swans, a stolen car, a shifting riverbed, an escaped circus animal, multiple arrests and a memorable interrogation.

Backing Hepburn and Grant is a brilliant supporting cast: May Robson as Aunt Elizabeth, Charles Ruggles as Major Applegate and Walter Catlett as Constable Slocum (among many others.) Don't forget Skippy, the wire haired terrier who played George, "...a perfect little fiend and you know it," as Aunt Elizabeth says. Skippy worked with Grant earlier in The Awful Truth and is best known as Asta, Nick and Nora Charles' dog in The Thin Man Series.
The dialogue is fast and snappy--jokes fly so fast it's easy to miss some. One of my favorites is when Constable Slocum asks why Susan is limping. She says she lost her heel. Slocum says, "Well, forget about him." I'm not giving it justice here--trust me, it's very funny.

The film includes what may be the first modern movie use of the term, gay. When Aunt Elizabeth asks why David is wearing a negligee, he says he just turned gay, all of a sudden (apparently, an ad lib by Grant.)

A great film and a funny movie: see it.


I've had a rough few days.

On Friday, the Florida probate judge rejected my interpretation of my father's will. The result--my father's wishes are being ignored. While I can certainly use that part of the inheritance that I will forfeit, the insult to my father is worse than the injury to me.

I've been sick since Saturday, weak, chilled and achy. I'm feeling much better today, but I'm still exhausted despite several hours of sleep.

For the most part I've retreated inside our condo. I played yahtzee, worked on SAT practice tests, read "The Myth of Bloody Mary" and watched baseball. Yesterday I walked Spike, cooked dinner and did the laundry.

I find myself wanting to cook and bake--tonight for dinner, I sauteed and then baked salmon fillet with ginger soy sauce on fresh spinach sauteed with garlic, lemon and wine. We also had sauteed string beans with red pepper, carrot, onion and garlic.

To use some older fruit, I baked apples and pears with oatmeal, butter, sugar cinnamon, raspberry liquor and orange juice. All in all, a nice meal. I'm already thinking about tomorrow. Marinara sauce, maybe some muffins. I need to keep busy right now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time Suckers

This morning over breakfast I took a quick look at my last blog post.

There was a typo. So I went into edit and found myself doing more than fixing that error. I made several minor edits to shorten sentences and clarify my points. I also added a few ideas as I thought more about the topic. Next thing I knew a half hour had passed and my morning schedule was thrown off.

Later when Spike and I were out on our walk, I got to thinking more about time suckers. Specifically, what are my time suckers? Watching TV is definitely one (especially reality shows); surfing the Internet is another. Sometimes I run into neighbors and hello's extend into long conversations.

Now I just can't say turn off the TV: turn off the computer: don't talk to neighbors. It's not cut and dried. It's the never ending need for balance--to walk the tightrope while trying not to fall.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Guilty Pleasures Revisited

I've written about my embarrassing love for Jersey Shore here and here

But I've had other reality guilty pleasures. Here is my story.

In started in 2007, when I broke my second ankle. I am prone to foot injuries. But let me tell you, feet injuries are easy compared to ankle injuries. Thanks to wireless, I could do most of my work at home, going into the office only occasionally. I spent a lot of my recovery time home in bed.

During my recovery, I watched a lot of TV. One Sunday afternoon, I came across my introduction to the Flavoverse (term courtesy of Television Without Pity) a marathon of Charm School: Flavor of Love Girls with Monique. I got sucked in pretty quickly. I tried to cut my losses by not turning into the heavily promoted Rock of Love.

But my defenses were eventually worn down. I watched episodes of Rock of Love, Real Chance of Love, Daisy of Love, Entertainer of Love: A Basement Affair, and Megan Wants a Millionaire. As VH1 expanded its dating shows, the objects of desire became more and more removed from "prizes." Real, Chance and Frank were losers on I Love New York, and New York was a loser on two seasons of Flavor of Love. How many degrees of separation are these contestants from the original prize? Are the originals really prizes themselves? Hoopz, the winner of Flavor of Love, joked on I Love Money that she could kiss anyone; after all she had kissed Flav.

What I like about the dating shows is that for all the talk of love and being there for the right reason, the interesting relationships that develop are between the competitors such as Farrah and Ashley from Rock of Love Bus. The relationship between the prize and the winner rarely survives to the reunion show.

Once people are cast on I Love Money--the pretense of being there for Brett, Flav, Daisy, Megan, etc. is cast aside. They're all there for the money--hey it's in the name of the show.

VH1 has quietly resurrected I Love Money 4. It had to shelve Megan Wants A Millionaire after a few episodes and I Love Money 3 completely because one of the contestants on both shows, Ryan Jenkins allegedly killed his wife Jasmine Fiore. While VH1 needs to strengthen its screening process of contestants, I must admit that I'm happy to see I Love Money again.

Is there a 12 step program for reality show addicts?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nature Bats Last

Saw that phrase on a bumper sticker in my parking lot today. It intrigued me.

First because I've been wondering if the recent severe weather is some kind of revenge by nature. (Really, tornadoes in NYC?)

Secondly, I love the language of baseball and how it's extended into other areas of life. I have a notebook in which I've listed a bunch of baseball terms. I'd like to write a story sometime using only baseball terminology.

Baseball is rich in language, numbers and imagery.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Artist Date: Elephant's Trunk and Merwinsville Hotel

I didn't have a very productive weekend. I barely cleaned; I barely worked on my resume. But I still had a good weekend.

Today I went on an artist date I also did another thing that I've been wanting to do for a long time: I went to the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market Elephant's Trunk is an outdoor Sunday flea market running from April through November.

After a cold start to the morning, the day turned sunny and warm. I spent about an hour and a half wandering up and down the aisles of jewelry, china, glassware, clothing, tires, musical instruments. I didn't buy much--a few political pins, a small carved wooden dog with his head raised in a howl, two sets of fork and spoons made from china. You can make a half day of it at Elephant's Trunk--there are food trucks offering hot dogs, sandwiches, fried dough, pretzels, chili and donuts with tables and chairs nearby so you can sit down to enjoy your food. But you can't linger for long; around noon, I saw the first vendor start to pack up his goods.

I left the flea market and headed to the Columbus Weekend Art & Fine Crafts Show at the Merwinsville Hotel The Merwinsville Hotel is worthy of a post of its own. It served as a meal stop for passenger trains going through Gaylordsville from the 1840's through the 1870's.

Jeff and I found the hotel one weekend when we were exploring the area and made a wrong turn. I became fascinated with the place and we've gone back several times. Attempts to restore the hotel have been continuing since 1971. While there is still much work to do, Jeff and I have seen a lot of progress since we first found the hotel in the mid 1990's.

Today I purchased some hand made Christmas cards and a few souvenirs--a new Merwinsville Hotel tee shirt and a pair of wine glasses with the hotel logo. I previously purchased Christmas ornaments, tee shirts, a print of the hotel in its heyday and a trivet.

I'll be back in December for Christmas in Gaylordsville.

Back home, I picked up Spike for a long visit to the dog park. All-in--all a great fall day,

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beautiful Morning and a Lovely Day

This morning I did something I've been meaning to do for a long time--I took Spike to Mathews Park for his morning walk. Mathews Park is about three blocks from our place and while Spike has been there a few times for shows and markets, we've never gone there just for a walk.

Today was the day. For the first time in eight weeks, I didn't have to work on a weekend. At first I was disappointed that Jeff was going away although he had planned it for months. Ultimately, I decided there was something nice about being on my own.

Mathews Park consists of several attractions. The small Fera Park is tucked into the left corner, a little too close to an adjacent gas station. The Lockwood Mathews Mansion on the right is the main attraction. Stepping Stones Museum for Children is currently closed for renovations, but we had a great time there in June with our twin niece and nephew, Jane and Ian.

Today after we walked through Fera Park, Spike and I were welcomed into the Center for Contemporary Printmaking when Spike poked his head in an open door. I enjoyed the Stepping Stones' wind chimes as we walked by. Next we walked through Devon's Playground and Pine Island Cemetery. I was careful to keep Spike on the main path through the cemetery. While I'm not a believer in hallowed ground, I don't want to disrespect anyone's beliefs.

With our afternoon visit to Taylor Farm Dog Park, today was a

Six Months

When I woke up this morning, I was thinking that today was the date of the October SAT. I sent good wishes to my two tutoring students who were taking the test today.

Only later did I realize that today is the sixth month anniversary of my father's death. Not a day to celebrate.

Last year at this time I was planning my last visit to my father's. I arrived on October 17th--his birthday.

My brother Jim gave up on baseball years ago but he's rooting for the Phillies this year because of Dad. Go Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, etc. This die-hard Mets fan is supporting you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

3. Fargo

It's time to return to my favorite movies Fargo from 1996 is the newest film on my list

I've always enjoyed movies about heists that have gone wrong. While Fargo isn't technically a heist movie, it has some of the same elements. I mean what could possibly go wrong with hiring two guys you don't know to kidnap your wife for ransom?

The actors are incredible. I can't think of a weak performance in this film.

The characters are fascinating and the film's successful characterizations start and end with Marge. I'm not sure I've ever seen a pregnant woman as a hero, unless the pregnancy itself was the plot line. Marge is not only smart and good at her job, but she is also empathetic to her subordinates and acquaintances (e.g. Lou and Mike Yanagita.)

Plus Marge has a happy marriage. That may seem like a minor point but many films show that a woman who is professionally successful cannot be personally happy. Marge and Norm are in love and supportive of each other. The movie ends with them both experiencing professional success--Marge has solved the case and apprehended one of the kidnappers while the Post Office has selected Norm's mallard for the three-cent stamp. Their personal success is shown as they happily await the birth of their first child--"Two more months," says Norm.

Fargo has many funny lines and situations, but never makes light of the deaths of its characters: the state trooper who stops the Ciera, the witnesses, Jean Lundegaard, Wade Gustafson, the parking lot attendant, even Carl Showalter himself (I hope I didn't forget anyone.)

The Oscar nominated cinematography is incredible--you feel the bleak cold. You understand Jerry's anger and frustration as he starts to scrape the ice off his car and throws the scraper, only to retrieve it and scrape the windshield in earnest as he has no other choice.

A great film.

Not Posting

It's frustrating when I go onto a blog I like and there are no new posts.

And here I am--I haven't posted in about three weeks. It's disingenuous to say that I've been busy. I don't have a full time job or even a consistent part time job. But everything is relative and I can say that I've been relatively busy. I've been working with five tutoring students. Two are taking the SAT this Saturday. The other three will be taking the PSAT the following week and the SAT in the next two to five months.

But I haven't been busy enough to justify not posting.

So why didn't I write more?

I tend to post in the evening and sometimes I'm tired and blow it off.

I'm still involved with family drama and I figure it's better for me not to write about it now. Unfortunately, every time I start to feel that things are getting back to normal, there's some new chapter.

Feeble excuses.

In the spirit of the fall--the beginning of the new academic year and the Jewish New Year, I'll just say that I will post more. I wish I could commit to posting every day, but don't want to set myself up to fail already. Five posts a week is reasonable. No more disappearing for weeks at a time.