Friday, December 31, 2010


Goodbye to you

That was my first thought. Then I read Jezebel--this is a more accurate reflection of my feelings.

I would like to say that I am feeling positive about the New Year. But I'm still playing defense--that's how 2010 has effected me.

2011 has got to be better.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Movie (and TV) Traditions

Jeff and I have a few holiday traditions such as watching certain films and TV shows (not in any particular order.)

1. It's a Wonderful Life:

Somehow I never saw this film until I watched it with Jeff--probably our first Christmas together in 1986 when we got engaged. As I wrote the other day, I love the way the film used the alternate timeline/reality. I like that device so much, I'll watch lesser movies, such as Mr. Destiny with its ridiculous over-the-top chase scene ending and The Family Man

James Stewart is always good as the ordinary man. Here he plays a man torn between his wistful longings for a life of travel and adventure, and his compromised life devoted to family and community. He shows it all on his face when the Board of Directors agrees to keep the Bailey Building & Loan open--on the condition that George take over his father's position. It takes a look at the world of Pottersville for George to realize his compromise was actually wonderful.

In a solid supporting cast, Lionel Barrymore stands out as Potter, fully realizing a character who could be a caricature in a lesser actor's hands. Thomas Mitchell's Uncle Billy is also solid. Take a look to see what Riku says about the film.

2. Christmas in Connecticut:
I wouldn't call this a screwball comedy as some commenters do on imdb but it has elements of farce with Barbara Stanwyck's Elizabeth Lane posing as the perfect cook/homemaker. Stanwyck proves she can excel in comedy as well as drama. Her leading man is Dennis Morgan. I've always liked him--he is underrated as an actor--maybe because of some of his musical roles. As soon as you see the big tip he gives to the driver (especially compared to the paltry tip of Elizabeth's fiance John--played by Reginald Gardiner) you know he's the man for her. Christmas in Connecticut also provides a change-of-pace for Sydney Greenstreet. He didn't always play a villain, but he was known for his mysterious, sinister characters. The film also features SZ Sakall as Felix--he's always a pleasure to watch.

3. The Man Who Came to Dinner
This isn't a true Christmas movie, but the action takes place over holidays so this has entered our Christmas movie rotation. I originally watched this for Bette Davis--my favorite actress. She heads another strong supporting cast but the lead is Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside. Ann Sheridan is on hand with Billie Burke and Reginald Gardiner (who was also in Christmas in Connecticut.)

4 An Echolls Family Christmas; Veronica Mars Season 1: The only TV episode on the list, this works as a stand-alone episode as it reveals very little about the season-long story of who killed Lilly Kane. Two mysteries-of-the-week come to a head at the Echolls annual Christmas party when Veronica and her father Keith expose the underbelly of Neptune CA.

Holiday Countdown

I haven't written in over a week--no surprise that I've been getting ready for Christmas. Today I finished wrapping the presents, but received two unexpected gifts. I guess my shopping is incomplete.

I couldn't sleep last night; I was awake until at least three. It wasn't any specific thing--my mind seemed to race from topic to topic. I was tired but somehow not tired enough to sleep.

Jeff did the grocery shopping today--that was a huge help. While he was gone, I dusted and vacuumed the living room and dining area and started wrapping. I was surprised to have everything done before dinner, which Jeff made. It's nice to relax tonight.

Tomorrow I'm making Christmas breakfast--scrambled eggs with cheese, veggies, bread, sometimes meat, baked in stoneware. Then I'll make the scalloped potatoes for Christmas Eve dinner and a carrot salad with dried cherries, cranberries and raisins. Then we just have to pack up the car and be on our way.

Hoping for a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Party

Tonight Jeff and I went to our only work-related holiday party. It was sponsored by AMA (American Marketing Association, not that other AMA), Public Relations Society of America and Connecticut Digital Association (I think that's the correct name.)

I used to be active in the AMA local chapter; I was on the Board of Directors for several years and served as President and Vice President Communications.

It was good to reconnect with some colleagues and meet a few people as well. I haven't been an active networker recently. I guess last night's party was my way of putting a toe in the water. Maybe I'll be ready to dive in next month.

In a moment...

After my afternoon walk with Spike, I realized that I had misplaced a glove. I retraced my steps to the front door. Not only did I drop my glove in the doorway, but I had dropped it in the exact spot that propped our exterior door open.

We've had some security issues in our condo. If I hadn't noticed my dropped glove, I could have created a new security problem in my home.

What a set up. What could have happened in those few moments between my dropping and my recovery of the glove?

What if I hadn't discovered it...until after someone took advantage...

One small action, one moment can change everything. Yes, that sounds a bit melodramatic like a promo for ABC soaps. But it could still be true.

I've always been intrigued by the idea of alternate timelines and parallel universes, most brilliantly portrayed in "It's a Wonderful Life" A writer I know wrote a story about
different outcomes that cascaded from a man's decision to turn left or right at a corner. The story ended with Tom is dead or Tom is dead or Tom is dead or Tom is dead.

Chance, coincidence, synchronicity, destiny, a writing prompt, whatever. Always food for thought.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On a morning, gray and dreary

I headed out for a walk with Spike before eight. It was damp and raw but not raining.

He stopped at the top of the front stairs, resisting my efforts to descend. I got him down to the first landing--he stopped again and then jumped off to the grass next to the steps and sat down. He peered into a unit after hearing a woman near the window. Then he looked over to another unit--with lights on in the kitchen and dining room. Spike obviously wasn't in the mood to walk. "We're going to the dog park," I told him.

It was a good move. The park was apparently redolent with aromas, which Spike carefully investigated. He ran over to greet and then pounce on Daisy, a golden retriever. We did a loop with Ella, Maisie and their human.

I caught a glimpse of red among the trees. I think it was a cardinal but couldn't get close enough to confirm.

It's supposed to be bitterly cold tomorrow--this may be our last visit for awhile.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cooking Time

I started my own tradition--cooking on Sunday afternoons, especially when the weather is bad. Today was rainy and foggy. I made flank steak and black bean chili. We also had tostadas with guacamole and salad for dinner.

Last week we finished my earlier creations: pumpkin soup and vodka sauce. We still have some chicken soup left after Thursday's dinner (and today's lunch.) I guess chili will make its return appearance later this week.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Warm and Balmy

"You don't know what you've got till it's gone." --Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell.

Today it was 40 degrees; it felt warm and welcoming after a string of cold days. We ran a few errands and then went to the dog park--it was a good day for Spike.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Seasoning

Last night we set up our two five-feet artificial Christmas trees and put out candles, pictures, Santas and angels. We used to get a real tree until a particularly busy Christmas season. I was working in equipment leasing and had to finish several transactions before year end. Jeff was working two jobs. Getting a tree was more hassle than it was worth. Shopping on Christmas Eve, we found our first artificial tree. As silly as it was, I felt guilty for not having a tree; our last minute purchase assuaged my guilt.

Later I bought a second tree. I don't miss the real one--oh the scent is nice but the falling needles are a pain.

I've had a tough year. I was hoping to jump start the holiday spirit by decorating early. It hasn't worked out as I planned but at least I'm not in a Scrooge frame of mind.

It's time for me to break out It's A Wonderful Life, Christmas in Connecticut and An Echolls Family Christmas (from Veronica Mars.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shiver in my bones just thinking

about the weather

This is the coldest morning yet this season. At least it's just cold and not a rainy (or snowy) day. The sun isn't providing much warmth and the gusty winds made our morning walk downright unpleasant.

Spike didn't seem to mind but he did walk briskly.

I need to keep my weather whining low key because it could be a lot worse--lake effect anyone?

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Patch of Blue

No, not a movie this time.

Spike and I got to the dog park later than I planned. The estate attorney called me just as I was headed out the door around 3:30--a downer to my day and the whole week.

Walking into the park, I looked up and saw a beautiful blue streak in the evening sky. In the streak was a cloud that at first glance looked like a dolphin leaping out of a blue sea.

I needed it--another unexpected gift of autumn.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


On a bumper sticker at a car in the hospital parking lot:

Black Holes where God divided by zero.

I liked it--it was a little geeky and made me think.

I must admit that I sometimes make assumptions and judgments about people based on their bumper stickers. The smile I get from a dog breed sticker or my dog digs whatever bone-shaped magnets--fades when I see McCain Palin 2008. I'm also not crazy about the band parents whose stickers proclaim they have no life.

But a math/science joke is nice to see.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lamentations of the Labor Challenged

Technically I am not unemployed but underemployed. I lost my last full-time job in November 2008. I received severance of five weeks salary for a five year stint and had about five days vacation pay. At the time Jeff was between consulting assignments. My main concern was health insurance--our Cobra payment was estimated at $900 a month.

I was lucky to have had a part-time job teaching SAT prep since 2002 that had just started offering a health plan for part-time employees in October 2008. While tutoring was slow that season, I picked up a class and that activated the insurance. I also got some PR work from my old boss that lasted about five months.

Unemployment insurance was a godsend to me. It supplemented my my sporadic work and provided the basics those weeks I didn't work at all.

Once again Congress has let extended unemployment insurance coverage lapse. Why are they attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the unemployed while concentrating all efforts at preserving tax breaks for the very ultra rich? (I am deliberately redundant.)

And those tax breaks--they've been around for nine years and apparently haven't saved the day yet. Why haven't these tax breaks already created all those jobs that the Republicans allegedly care so much about?

Oh right, it's all bullshit. The unemployed can only offer votes--the tax break beneficiaries can offer cash--perhaps enough to buy all the votes needed.

While things are starting to look up, it's the large institutions that are benefiting. Many of the un- and underemployed are existing day to day, check to check.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have the part-time job and Jeff found more consulting jobs. We have a low mortgage payment (thank God we didn't move back in 2006-7.) We also have family members who could help us out and did without us asking.

I know how I need unemployment. Too many others need it more.

Don't cut us off at the knees.