Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

I was going to write a post today reviewing 2012. But I think I'll procrastinate on that. Spoiler alert: I did not meet my goals.

Jeff and I decided to stay in tonight. I hate the holiday expectations built around New Year's Eve.  For years, we would find one of the few restaurants without a special (expensive) menu and go out to eat early and return home by about nine.

This year our friend Marti is having a party. After much discussion, we decided to skip the party and celebrate at home.  We started with a saketini cocktail (with vodka--I saw a recipe with gin and Grand Marnier which sounded odd to me.) Then a sushi appetizer from our favorite Japanese restaurant, Little Tokyo.

Our main course consisted of filet mignon, roasted pepper and sauteed spinach with garlic and shallots. I was going to bake a sweet potato or make sweet potato fries but Jeff got an extra sushi roll, so we decided we didn't need the sweet potato. We finished with dessert of a Dancing Deer cake, ice cream, fresh strawberries and champagne.

I've already washed all the dinner dishes and can relax now. I'll think about goals missed in 2012 and new goals to pursue for 2013 tomorrow (in true Scarlett O'Hara fashion--hey one goal is to write a post on Gone With the Wind.)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What We're Watching

We're back watching our Netflix films pretty quickly; there's very little baseball on TV (though we did catch a special on the 1986 league series that was pretty good) and many series are now in rerun status.

This week we watched the remake of Total Recall and The Avengers. I wasn't impressed with either.

I'm a fan of the original Total Recall. This version had some good moments, though frankly I can't think of them now (not a good sign.) CNN named it as one of the ten worst films of the year (another not good sign.) I actually got bored during the climactic action sequence.

The Avengers? Another mindless action movie. I spent half the movie adjusting the volume. When we watched Thor, our neighbor told us the sound was shaking the pictures on her wall.

I'll be the first to admit that mindless action flicks can be fun and diverting. But I find myself more and more bored by the over-the-top action sequences that make up much of films today. They're just too ridiculous.

I remain a fan of the classic films of the thirties and forties. I hate the restrictions the Hays office imposed on films and enjoy many pre-Code films.  But the best directors were able to work around some of the stupid code rules, e.g. William Wyler's version of The Letter with my favorite actress, Bette Davis.

Good directors don't have to rely on mindless action or sex sequences.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Vein of Gold

Okay, so this is a play on words for Julia Cameron and an exaggeration of the title of my earlier post on mining my journals. 

I found a few interesting things reading a journal from April 2007.

One of my many ideas is to write a poetry book with photographs about Spike. I had the title, "The Dog with with Perpetual Smile." Someone at the dog park described Spike this way; it's accurate--he is a happy boy.

I also found a haiku (of sorts) about my nephew's dog, Amos.

party dog
chaser of Polly cat
Frisbee acrobat.

I love it if I do say so myself.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reading List

Going through our second bedroom recently, I found several books that I've gotten over the past year or two that I haven't gotten around to reading: Big Girls Don't Cry, Hollywood Be Thy Name, Pride and Prejudice, Reading Lolita in Teheran, Eight Men Out. I may have missed a few.

I just finished reading The Kid Stays in the Picture, Robert Evans' memoir. I skimmed through the childhood chapters. Evans incurred a lot of anger in Hollywood. Reading his version, he doesn't seem unreasonable. But, I had to wonder--maybe it was Evan's own fault that everyone was against him.

Despite Evans' sexist attitudes and stupid mistakes, something about him remained likable. But he lost me for good when he said it was unjust that Roman Polanski remains persona non grata in the United States. Poor little child rapist Polanski; his supporters sicken me.

The next book I'll read is West with the Night. My mother-in-law recommended it. She had just read it a second time,  received a copy for Christmas and lent it to me.

Yesterday, one of my neighbors asked if I kept a list of books I've read. This is a good idea. I wish I had started when I first read about it in a New York Times article. Oh well, better late than never.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Planning

Now that the end of the year is upon us, it's time to think about accomplishments for 2012 and goals for 2013.

I thought this was a good place to begin for 2013 goals.

Christmas Plans Deferred and a White Christmas

We had invited Jeff's parents over for lunch on Christmas Eve. They live an hour away and no longer drive, so it's been easier for us to visit them than to bring them to visit us. But we figured Christmas Eve would work; we planned to head up to Melissa's any way later that day. Jeff's mother had hired a driver to bring them down to save Jeff a few hours driving.

I  should have known things were going too well.

At 6 AM on Christmas Eve, Jeff's father stubbed his toe so badly that he broke it. Because he has been taking a prescription blood-thinner, it was difficult to stop the bleeding. They had to cancel their visit to us. They weren't sure they would make it to Christmas Eve dinner, but luckily they did. Our dinner of two salads, beef tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole and sweet potatoes was delicious.

I woke up on Christmas morning to this:








Unfortunately, I didn't get a good photo of Spike, but these are nice.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mining my Journals

I've started writing about home renovations here.

What do home renovations have to do with journals? Well, since we worked in every room at one point or another, we had to empty every room and look at what we would put back in every room.

I've been keeping journals for over 20 years. Some are daily musings, some are records of trips, some are related to classes, retreats or writing books, and some are miscellaneous. I would probably keep every journal if I had a large storage area. Since I don't, I occasionally read through them, saving pages that are somehow relevant or meaningful to me, and tossing the rest.

This time around, I've read through about four journals. Frankly, they're a bunch of drivel. I found nothing worth saving.

If an outside observer were to read my journals, he or she would think I was unhappy. Pages are filled with lists of things to do, things I didn't do, things I should have done. The negative pages outnumber the positive.

But I don't remember these days as unhappy.

The main reason is that many of my journals are modeled on Julia Cameron's morning pages. She often describes these as brain drains. By getting frustrations out on the page, they may not mess up the rest of your life.  

I still hope to find something---an idea, image or phrase worth saving--worth mining.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What I'm Watching

We're ending fall 2012 with some classic film and television. (Sarcasm Alert.)

Up now: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
One of the toughest things in watching vampire movies is figuring out the mythology. How do you kill vampires? Stake in the heart is the traditional way. Sometimes exposing a vampire to sunlight burns him gradually, sometimes the sun explodes her. What's the status of silver? That's the traditional way to kill werewolves. Sometimes it kills or at least incapacitates vampires. Sometimes vampires turn into bats, sometimes other animals. Sometimes, it varies.

How can you tell for sure when you start a movie?

Abe shot his first vampire in the eye and then threw his gun into the river. I started to comment on vampire rules to Jeff and then learned that this film follows the traditional rule that bullets can't kill vamps (i.e. Abe was attacked by said vampire.)  Abe learned to use a silver-coated ax (hey, he's the rail-splitter, remember.)

I love the idea that southern slave-owners are the vampires/and vampire allies--a simple way to discredit the romantic idea of the old south--cavaliers and their fair ladies if I recall the beginning of Gone With The Wind correctly. Nothing romantic about the Old South. Enslavement of any group is equivalent to the enslavement of all humans. I didn't expect a meaningful parallel for such a silly idea of a movie.

Onto the action-filled finale, I said to Jeff, "I hate to say this in a movie about Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter, but this is getting silly."

At least Mary Todd Lincoln got a cool and appropriate revenge on the vampire who killed her son.

Next up: The series finale for Jersey Shore--yes, I'm watching to the bitter end. It starts with a bonfire/picnic on the beach. First commercial break: Damn, apparently there's a new movie--Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. That's one I hadn't heard of.

Back to Jersey Shore: A mystery frosting on a cake from a dumped girlfriend? Classy.

What is it that I originally liked about this show? (Is that a trick question?) It's hard to remember now. I started watching because I'm familiar with Seaside Heights ( at least the pre-Sandy Seaside.) There were a few funny lines such as "Party's here," and "I do great things--I'm a bartender."

I can't explain why I kept watching, but here I am. Goodbye Jersey Shore (although daily re-runs may continue for some time.)



Christmas Decorating

Last night I finished the Christmas decorating--a week before Christmas. I had wanted to complete the job about two weeks ago, but had other things to do first.

Today I started wrapping presents: I started with Jeff's presents earlier today. (As I predicted--one arrived after I finished wrapping his other gifts.) Tonight I wrapped presents for Elaine's party on Friday night. Elaine has hosted a holiday party for several years; for the past few years, it's been a women-only party. I figured I had enough gifts but wasn't sure about the gift bags. I used a few boxes so I was fine.

Again this year, we are spending Christmas Eve with Jeff's family, staying overnight at his sister's. Then we will spend Christmas afternoon with my mother.

Our Christmas traditions will be changing again next year. It's too early to focus on that. We'll concentrate on enjoying this year's Christmas Eve and morning.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Essay Tutoring

Today I finished tutoring one of my students. We had previously done a full SAT tutorial, then a few additional hours of SAT, and most recently three hours of college admission essay tutoring.

Something I realized tonight--I get to know students much better through essay tutoring than SAT or ACT tutoring. The most important part of essay tutoring is helping the  students pull out the specific details of their lives or dreams, and then describe them fully to show their personalities.

I've really enjoyed essay tutoring and hope to get to do much more of it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In the Kitchen

Today was a wet, dreary Sunday--the kind of afternoon when I enjoy cooking. But I had to tutor and teach. Instead, I cooked yesterday. I wanted to test run a new appetizer, French onion soup dumplings, that I've offered to make for Christmas Eve. I learned about his recipe from some of our dog park friends who run this blog with lots of delicious recipes linked and commentary on the recipes.

I also tried cooking cheese scalloped potatoes a new way. I usually boil the potatoes to soften them first before I cook them in the milk and cheese sauce. This time I used my salad shooter to slice the potatoes thinly and didn't boil them first. The cooking time took longer than that in the recipe, but now I'll know for next Monday.

Thanks to Christie for giving me the idea of recipe trial runs.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Sandy Hook Massacre

I don't think that I have anything new or profound to add about this tragedy. But it's something that happened relatively close to home so I need to write about it.

It's sad to say that I wasn't surprised to hear about another school shooting. But I was surprised that it happened in Newtown and that it was at an elementary school.

I've been trying to remember a school shooting haiku that I heard at a writers retreat. Here is the author Cliff Bleidner but not that haiku.

The story is still evolving (I've avoided most news today so I may have missed some developments.) Originally, I assumed the shooter's goal was to kill his mother and the children were collateral damage (a horrible term I know.) But that wasn't the case at all. The shooter's mother was  already dead before he headed to the school.

CNN has a timeline of school violence dating back to 1927. Guns weren't used in all the instances, but in many of them. We need to do something about guns.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What Do I Do For Me?

Wednesday night or actually Thursday morning to be precise, when I turned out the lights at 1AM, I asked myself the title question of this post. I don't know where it came from. It wasn't something that I was consciously thinking about.

Here are a few things that come to mind:

Exercise:
I don't always enjoy the process, but I feel good after exercise. Hiking is fun; it can also be sociable if I go with Jeff and Spike. I like swimming and yoga. But now, I work out mostly at a gym; it's the most economical choice. I like to lift weights; aerobics isn't as interesting to me, but I use that time to read. And I feel good after working out.
            
Writing/Blogging:
Sometimes writing is difficult, and like exercise, I don't always enjoy the process. But it makes me feel good, satisfied when I write. I like this blog because it's a permanent storehouse of my thoughts and ideas that's easy to access. I journal almost every day; most of it is drivel but it centers me and occasionally, I get a good thought or profound statement. My other writing--well, it's harder to describe. I usually get a good response when I share my writing (though occasionally people read things into my writing that I didn't intend.) I rarely submit my writing; I'm not looking for acclaim. It's some other need that I can't explain.

Artist Dates:
I'm using Julia Cameron's term here as I have before. The Artist Date is designed to feed creative work by replenishing the inner well of images and inspiration. I can't precisely contribute any of my work to a specific artist date. But I've had some wonderful experiences and having an Artist Date as a to-do has led me to go places and do things I might not have done: a Haitian art gallery, a Jackson Pollock exhibit, a reading of a new play.

These are examples of what I do for me. I need to do more.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dog Park Afternoons

Some of our friends go to the dog park everyday (and some of those go twice a day.) Jeff and I have ever been that diligent. But depending on our schedules and the weather, we usually make several trips to the dog park each week.

This week Jeff and I split the dog park visits, skipping a few days entirely in a string of five dreary, raw, rainy days.

Last Wednesday was one of the few nice days. I took Spike to Taylor Farm around 2 and snapped these pictures.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tim Burton's Dark Shadows

Our latest Netflix arrival: Dark Shadows 2012.

The film starts with a brief story of how Barnabas became a vampire. It differs from the original version (Jeff and I don't like the changes) but Angelique is still the cause of Barnabas' curse.

The atmospheric mood works in the opening scenes: the house is suitably creepy--down a wooded trail to a cold and sterile mansion, complete with the appearance of ghost Josette.

Then Barnabas (and camp) appear. He thinks the McDonald's golden arches are the sign of Mephistopheles. He shows Elizabeth a secret room which is filled with her macrame. A second secret room opens with an array of wolves howling in sequence; it's filled with jewels and riches.

An interesting twist is that Angelique is the head of Angelbay Seafood--the competitor that has been crushing the family fishing business. Another is that Victoria Winters is actually Maggie Evans and had been locked away in an asylum as a child. Ghost Josette showed her the governess ad for Collinwood and she heads to Maine.

I enjoyed the 70's music (the film takes place in 1972)--including Alice Cooper, T Rex, the Carpenters, the Moody Blues, Elton John and Curtis Mayfield.

A party scene includes stars from the original series: Jonathan Frid (Barnabas), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Josette), David Selby (Quentin--not in the movie) and Lara Parker (Angelique.)  I'm sorry to admit I didn't even notice them (until I read IMDB's trivia page. )

Ultimately, the film is disappointing. It's schizophrenic--going from spooky to camp to over the top: a fight scene with Barnabas reminded me of Death Becomes Her; I love that film but the effects didn't work here.

I'm glad we saw this film but glad we didn't rush out to the theater to do so. Frankly, it's been years since we've done that and I had my doubts when I first saw the trailer. But, I'd still call it a must-see for Dark Shadows fans--mostly for what it could have been.



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Veronica Mars Re-Watch: Season One Episode Ten

An Echolls Family Christmas: This may be the episode I've watched most often; after all it's part of my Christmas viewing. I'm not alone in enjoying it; take a look at this survey on TWoP.

The story opens with Logan hosting a poker party with Duncan, another 09er Sean,  Conner, Logan's father's co-star with in what Logan calls a $50 million crap pile, and Weevil, leader of the PCH motorcycle gang.

Weevil wins $5,000 but the money is missing. Veronica gets involved because Weevil took security from the other players, including Duncan's laptop (which heavily featured Veronica in an online journal.)

In the other weekly mystery, Lynn Echolls (Logan's mother) hires Keith to investigate threatening letters sent to Aaron.

Both stories come to a climax at the Echoll's Christmas party. Veronica requests a buy-in to another poker game that night  to reveal the thief, as Keith tries to prevent an attack on Aaron.

This episode has no great revelations about Lilly's murder. But we learn more about dysfunctions in the Kane and Echolls families. When Veronica confronts Jake Kane about surveillance pictures of her as a target, he seems confused. Then he asks his wife, "What did you do?" A few minutes later, Aaron is attacked by a spurned lover.

Last line of the episode, "No Veronica, there is no Santa Claus."




Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On Discipline, Chores, Errands and Time

Terrible topic for a blogpost; I'm even scaring myself.

But it's my focus now. It's December 4th, 21 days before Christmas as a Santa chalkboard at the gym reminded me. I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping. I've deferred some decisions to Jeff because he can't make up his mind about some of my suggestions for his sister and brother-in-law. But I still have to make some decisions about my gifts for Jeff.

I want to decorate for the holidays but want to finish basic organizing, downsizing and other decorating first. We still have unhung pictures in the bedrooms--hey, it's only been a year since our renovations. We chose to switch things up--not hang every picture and bookshelf in its previous location. That means we chose to live with pictures, bookshelves, etc. lined up around the baseboards when we made up our minds. Frankly, I got used to all those things lined up around the baseboard and "forget" that I need to actually hang them.

Sometimes I got bogged down in the everyday chores and errands: cooking, washing dishes, food shopping, laundry, and got too tired to to work on the longer term projects.

As much as I desire inspiration to write, discipline is more important for me. I get many ideas but I need to select the best, sit down and write them.

It all comes down to time. Just last week, I pondered whether I had enough time to go to a time management seminar.

Sigh.

So far this week, I've done basic cleaning, ran some errands and prepped for tutoring. I  have a few more appointments this week (at least one is fun) and need to write a self-evaluation for my performance review.

Jeff's going away this weekend. I'll use some time then to work around here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

November Check-In

I made some specific writing goals for November. I would write a blog post per day for National Blog Posting Month and would write an additional 10,000 words.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

The good: I wrote 35 blog posts this month. If you check the dates of my posts, it looks like I missed November 12th. But one of my posts for the 13th, Climate Warp, was posted at 12:01 AM. I'm counting that as a post for the 12th, so I've succeeded in my posting goals.

My other writing? Well, I failed badly. I wrote 1,806 words when I had a goal of 10,000 words.

One piece was about memories of summers at the Jersey Shore, focusing on Ortley Beach. A second was fiction--about a woman returning to her home town for Thanksgiving and her cousin's wedding.

Obviously, I'm not happy with my poor showing. I took my goal too casually. Half the month was over when I started writing. But at least I wrote. I'm (a little) happy about that.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another YouTube Evening

After watching True Grit last night, I went on YouTube to listen to Glen Campbell's recording of the theme. This led to a few more Campbell recordings: Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get to Phoenix (which I decided would be a great cover for a woman to sing as a narrator dealing with domestic violence) and Gentle on my Mind. I followed with other songs by the Beatles, TLC, the Grateful Dead, The B-52's and even James Darren and Avery Brooks from Deep Space Nine.

 I love YouTube. It's great to find old songs. One night I found Midnight Mary. I didn't even know the singer's name, but remembered the chorus. The song was a top ten hit from 1964 by Joey Powers. It wouldn't have been a great loss if I had never heard the song again, but it's fun to rediscover songs and see how many of the lyrics I remember.
(The answer is usually a lot.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What I'm Watching

There wasn't much of interest on TV tonight so Jeff and I looked through our instant queue on Netflix and decided on the remake of True Grit. For the record, I never saw the original. But when we've paused the film, I've been compelled to sing the parts that I remember from Glen Campbell's 1968 theme.

After only a minute or so, I said that I loved Mattie Ross, played by Hailee Steinfield. She's only a girl, but she may be the strongest woman I've seen in a western in ages. Mattie is brave, determined and focused; she has some great lines too.

I'm a big fan of Jeff Bridges. I haven't seen his Oscar winning performance in Crazy Heart yet, but all his performances that I've seen have been very good.

Matt Damon plays La Boeuf, Glen Campbell's role in the original film. I think I'm safe in assuming Matt is better since he is an actor first. But I need to watch the 1969 film before making any final decision.

"Time just gets away from us," is the last line of the film. I love it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Jersey Shore: Revisited

Earlier tonight, I watched the latest Jersey Shore episode. This is the final season--I think it's the fifth. I don't know why I continue to watch; I guess it's just habit. I haven't really enjoyed the show since the second season.

Like cast members of many reality shows, the people featured on Jersey Shore are not nice nor intelligent. It'd be hell to be friends with any of them. But obviously, something or someone was appealing--the show became a big hit.

Reality TV fame made the cast members more obnoxious, but the show never addressed their fame. It tried to ignore the crowds of people following the cast around. It tried to pretend that the management of The Shore Store would tolerate such bad employees.

Another strange thing about this season is that the cast now includes fresh-out-of-rehab and pregnant cast members. This is a challenge in a show that celebrates crazy, drunken behavior.

One reason I continue to watch is Superstorm Sandy. I look at the shots of the boardwalk and know it is no more. The roller coaster landed in the ocean. Who knows how much sand remains on the beaches. I wonder if the topography of the shoreline has changed--will Seaside still attract surfers? 

I may be bored by cast antics, but I enjoy glimpses of what used to be.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shopping: Brick and Mortar Edition

I've been to a mall every day for the past three days. This is weird because I don't think I've been to any mall in 2012 before this week. I used to enjoy shopping at malls but now, not so much.

This week was a combination of having convenient, non-busy times to hit a  few malls, and Christmas shopping season. Although I've completed most of my Christmas shopping online, I did find a few things in stores. Probably these things were available online but I didn't know exactly what I wanted and so couldn't search for them. There's something for seeing things in their tangible form.

Earlier tonight I asked Jeff if we used to go to the mall often. We were both unsure of how often, but we definitely went more often than we do now. I remember we used to split up to shop at the local mall and meet in a restaurant on the 7th floor. The malls used to have nice restaurants; now they usually just have food courts.

But it wasn't just the restaurants. I also think the malls used to be more unique; now they all seem to have the same stores (unless it's a store that I like--such as The Body Shop.) It's more fun to shop at crafts and art shows--you see different things.

I don't think I'll go to the mall again for another year, unless I need a specific item that I can't find elsewhere. I definitely won't return as the crowds grow this holiday season.






Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dreams

Last night I dreamed about my sister. She had started a business with a partner called the Muses. The Muses had hired about four people to help them. One woman said that I knew how difficult it was to nail the muses down. I knew the people hired; they were capable but I was mad that I hadn't even heard about the jobs.

Later in the dream, I was on some kind of party cruise. My estranged brother-in-law was there but he wasn't my real b-i-l. I wanted to talk to my (real) friend Elaine about my problem, but she was too busy chatting with others to talk seriously with me. An old male friend also appeared at the party as a guest of my b-i-l. The friend looked like a cross between RA Dickey of the Mets and I'm not sure who else.  I made some conversation with my b-i-l.

At one point, someone told me I shouldn't drink so much. I protested that I hadn't drank that much and had a bottled water, wasn't I good? Then I remembered how someone insisted I drink a shot when the cruise first started.

The rest of the details are vague.

I believe that dreams sometimes offer valuable ideas--for example I've gotten story ideas from dreams. Unfortunately the ideas easily fade away. For a while I kept a dream journal--I'm not sure why I stopped.

Some dreams are random. Why did I dream about my sister Joanna who died 16 years ago and never had her own business? Am I harboring some other kind of resentment towards her?

Elaine is usually a good listener; why did she blow me off in my dream?

Do I need a dream to tell me that drinking too much isn't good?

I don't have the answers but that's typical of my dreams. I figure I just need to ask the questions and go from there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Worries

I used to laugh when my mother lay awake at night worrying about things, especially things only tangentially related to her, such as the death of a member of the The Flying Wallendas.

I'm not laughing anymore. I now have the same bouts of sleeplessness. Last night, technically this morning, I woke up around 5:30 thinking about cleaning I didn't do. Last week I woke up one thinking I forgot to input my hours for work. Sometimes I worry about not saving enough for retirement. Sometimes I worry about random things--why didn't I tell Donna why I was mad at her; why didn't I go out with Don?

It may not help in the dead of night, but I feel better when I wallow in my worries by listening to this.  And this one is the most upbeat worry kind of song. I feel better already.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Veronica Mars Re-Watch: Season One Episode Nine

Drinking the Kool-Aid: This episode first aired November 30, 2004. I may have only seen it once since then. I only remember the core plot points and consider this a weak episode. I am re-watching with fresh eyes.

The episode opens with the closing of Like A Virgin. Veronica is crying: Lilly's confessed killer has told her that Jake Kane is her father. She later looks at the pictures taken of her with a target drawn around her face (from You Think You Know Someone.)  She discovers that Clarence Wiedman, the head of security for Kane Software, took the photos.

The week's mystery has Keith investigating one of Veronica's classmates, Casey, who has been hanging around with members of a cult. The group seems harmless but his parents grow anxious as Casey will inherit a fortune of $80 million from his dying grandmother. Will he turn over the money to the collective?

Overall, I stand by my opinion of the episode was weak: possibly the weakest of the season pending a complete re-watch.  The introduction (in name and voice only) of Clarence Wiedman is intriguing, but feels tacked on. Wouldn't Veronica have investigated the photos earlier? 

The best part of the episode: Veronica tricks Keith into giving her a DNA sample to find out if he really is her biological father. But she shreds the test results before reading them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Veronica Mars Re-Watch: Season One Episode Eight

It's been over a month since my last re-watch post; it's time to return to Veronica Mars.

Like A Virgin: This episode may not rank as one of my favorites but it has a lot going for it. The mystery of the week has a real high school feel; a purity test is emailed to Neptune High students asking questions about smoking pot, having flings, lying to protect reputations.Then someone offers test results of anyone for $10 each.

The mystery introduces Meg and Mac. Veronica offers to help nice '09er Meg when someone forges impure test results of 48 for her. (According to Pam,who scores 63, anything under 60 means you're a slut.) Veronica consults Mac because Mac is the resident computer expert. It ends up that Mac is the one selling test results for $10 each; it nets her a new car.

A subplot involves Keith helping Wallace's mother deal with an unstable tenant. Alicia learns that the bad gossip about the Mars family is not necessarily true.

In the season long mystery, Veronica visits Lily's confessed murderer, Abel Koontz, in jail. Abel shocks her by claiming that Veronica is not Keith's daughter, but Jake Kane's (Duncan's father.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Writing

Because I've been so bad with my writing goals for 2012 (I didn't even make SMART writing goals) I made a goal of 10,000 words (excluding blogging) for November. It's the 24th and my word count is 667. Oddly enough, that's 1,000 words less than the daily NANO total.

Theoretically, I can make my goal of 10,000 words. Excluding today, I can make the goal by producing 1,555.5 words a day for the rest of the month. Since I won NANO before, I can easily pull that off. I also have the advantage of not limiting myself to one piece. I wrote a bit on Jersey Shore memories and started some sort of story about a woman returning to her home town for Thanksgiving and a family wedding. I wrote a twist that surprised me--I never saw it coming.

If I keep on writing, I may really surprise myself.

Another Dog Park Photo

This is from yesterday at Taylor Farm dog park. I didn't do a good job of capturing the beautiful evening sky--but I captured Jeff trying to capture the same image and Spike checking me out.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Variations on Black Friday

I love a bargain as much as (if not more than) the next person. I do most of my clothes shopping at sales or factory outlet stores. I proudly take advantage of every discount or promotion I can find in Christmas shopping.

But going shopping on Black Friday is like descending into one of Dante's circles of hell. I just don't get it. Why leave a holiday celebration early or get up at dawn to wait in line and fight the crowds? I'd be stressed out just finding a parking space before even getting into the store.

Other interest groups have gotten into the mix: I've heard about buy local Saturdays and Cyber Mondays. There's the anti group too.

The most intriguing Black Friday variation for me was one about drinking good beer. We had two Guinness stouts and a Sam Adams gingerbread stout in the refrigerator. We picked up a pizza and celebrated that version of Black Friday.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

I like the idea of Thanksgiving--a time to celebrate the good things in life. It's too easy to think about all the things that are wrong or missing. I like that Thanksgiving has usually been a four day weekend for me. I like that this is not an overtly religious holiday. I also like the traditional Thanksgiving foods.

I recognize that many don't share my positive feelings about this holiday. And of course, many things can go wrong. But tonight I'm going to list a few things that I am thankful for.

I'm thankful to have a nice home. Our condo is far from my dream home. With the benefit of hindsight--we wouldn't have bought it--at least not when we did and for as much as we did. But it has much going for it as we learned when we were considering moving about six years ago.

I'm thankful to have family members to celebrate with--family members who don't spend all their time mocking, criticizing and chastising others.

I'm thankful to have Spike. He's been a joy.

Most importantly, I'm thankful to have Jeff. He's been a supportive and loving husband and we are good together.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stay Close-to-Home Day

Today is the day before Thanksgiving--traditionally the biggest travel day of the year. I heard a report on WCBS Radio yesterday that the day before Thanksgiving is actually the biggest travel driving day, at least in the NYC area.

I hate traveling for holidays; it means more crowds, more traffic and more stress. I'm happy that we only have an hour's drive for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

I didn't want to travel far today; in fact, I turned down a dental appointment because I didn't want to take the chance that a traffic jam on I-95 North would start in the morning. I went to the gym in the morning and the dog park in the afternoon. Otherwise, I stayed home: did a little cleaning, wrote a few emails, did some online shopping.

All-in-all a good day--staying off the highway.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Deja Vu

Jeff put on the Daily Show tonight; it's a rerun of the night following President Obama's re-election.

It's fun to watch the clip of Fox anchor Megan Kelly asking Karl Rove ask if he's just doing Republican math when he insists that Ohio can't be going for Obama.

It's surreal to hear Bill O'Reilly deplore minorities who feel entitled to things.  Did Mitt steal that idea when he said a week or so later that Obama won by gifts. Didn't anyone tell him that didn't fly?

Don't forget the role of the media and the negative Obama campaign (as tested by Romney's Republican rivals in the primaries.) Then there are the blacks and other minorities who didn't disappear (or perhaps didn't have their votes suppressed.)

And what of the young guns? Marco Rubio was quoted the other day saying that it's impossible to know how old the earth is; it's a great mystery.

I don't understand these people.




Monday, November 19, 2012

What I'm Watching

We just finished watching The Dust Bowl, a two-part Ken Burns documentary on PBS.The stories were powerful, enhanced with diary excerpts, photographs and interviews with survivors.

I had never learned much about the dust bowl in school. I had heard the term and imagined an arid land with a few tumbleweeds blowing by (no doubt inspired by old westerns.) In reality, the Dust Bowl was the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.

About three years ago, I was visiting my father and picked up a book, The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, that was on his dining room table. I read a few pages and was impressed with how well the book was written. I later borrowed the book; it lived up to my good first impression. Egan was one of the historians interviewed in The Dust Bowl.

I strongly recommend both the film and the book. It's important to learn what happened in the Dust Bowl, so we don't continue our short-sighted use of our land and threaten our long term survival.

More Lost Photographs

After I wrote my post yesterday, I read another New York Times article about  photographs lost in Superstorm Sandy that have been transformed. Some remind me of Jackson Pollock's work; they are all strangely beautiful

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Photographic Flotsam and Memorabilia

I read an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times. After Superstorm Sandy, some people set up a Facebook page and posted photos that had been lost in the storm, including a drawer with over one thousand family photos.

Helping people reconnect with lost photos is a thoughtful way to help people make their lives whole again after a tragedy. I started to think about where recovering photos would rank in after storm activities.

I love photographs. I have several displayed in almost every room. They remind me of vacations, special occasions and loved ones. What would I save if I had to leave home in the midst of a disaster and only had a few minutes? Jeff and I would focus on getting Spike out safely. But what next? I suppose I could grab my great grandmother's wedding ring--that would be (relatively) financially and sentimentally valuable. If I grabbed a photo on the way out, which one would it be?

I don't know.

I've been watching the show Revolution; it depicts life after all electricity has been turned off. One plot thread involves mother who carries around a smart phone because it contains her only pictures of her children. For a brief moment, power is restored and the first thing she does is turn on her phone to see her kids.

One appeal of digital photos is that you can easily delete the bad photos and save the good without filling up drawers.  But are digital photos more easily lost and forgotten?

These thoughts are running through my head as I think about organizing my own photos. I need to take another look through the photos my father left to me. My mother recently gave me an envelope full of photos. Plus I have several photos of my own. I previously have culled through them, but need to do more. I'll take some of the better photos and frame, display and appreciate them. The rest, well, I'll see.

Christmas Shopping

There was a time when I enjoyed Christmas shopping. I loved finding special presents for everyone. There is still a part of me that loves finding good gifts for people.

On the other hand, Christmas shopping can be stressful. I remember bursting into tears (yes, it's a cliche but it expresses my feelings well) on Christmas Eve trying to get last minute presents after a sleep deprived college exam week. Today, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond for toiletries and perhaps some small gifts and the parking lot was packed. Could this be the beginning of the holiday traffic jams?

Tonight I did Christmas shopping online, working out of catalogs and emails that I've received. While it's much easier than fighting the crowds at the mall, I don't get the tactile pleasure of handling the merchandise. I almost bought something today, but questionable reviews made me pause. But overall, shopping online beats the lines and hassles of brick-and-mortar shopping.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Family Get-Togethers

When Jeff and I got married, family get-togethers were relatively easy. Except for my dad, everyone lived within 35 minutes of each other in Southwestern Connecticut. My father lived in New Jersey, two-and-a-half hours away, so at least weekends were doable.

I thought Christmas could be an issue; Christmas Day was the only holiday when my family would be together. We soon worked out a schedule of Christmas Eve with Jeff's family and Christmas Day with mine. For a few years, Jeff's parents even joined my family for Christmas Day dinner.

After a few years, Jeff's sister, Thea, moved to Ithaca, New York and then Iowa City, Iowa. Later our parents moved south. My dad went to Stuart, Florida; my mother and stepfather headed to Hilton Head, South Carolina; Jeff's parents moved to St. Simon's Island, Georgia. That meant long distance visits, and after we got Spike, road trips. Visits became more expensive and required more planning.

We actually got into a good road routine and never pushed ourselves for too long. On our first road trip, we found a pet friendly motel that we liked--Red Roof Inn in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I'll never forget our first night there. Spike was so excited to get out of the car that he jumped on my lap straining to get out the door.

We had celebrated Christmas with Jeff's family the night before we hit the road and we were beat. Luckily, a good Chinese restaurant was next door to Red Roof Inn and we had brought a bottle of red wine just in case North Carolina had Sunday blue laws. To top it off, we turned on TCM and watched the original version of "To Be or Not To Be."

In the past three years, we've lost my stepfather and my father. Jeff's parents and my mother have returned to Connecticut: Jeff's parents are an hour away and my mother a half hour. We can take comfort in knowing that we are close to our parents.  I remember how much I worried about my father when he lived alone in Florida.

Family get-togethers are a little more complicated now. Jeff's parents no longer drive.  We usually make a day of it when we visit since it's a two hour round trip. We may take them shopping or pick up things for them. My mother still drives, but I'm not sure how long that will continue. We're lucky that they live in nice retirement communities.

I try not to wonder what will be in store for us.





Friday, November 16, 2012

A Friday Afternoon at Taylor Farm

Dog Park Fridays aren't the same in the late fall and winter. On spring and summer evenings, we have time to relax and hang out together with beer, wine and conversation. Now that sundown occurs around 4:30, there's less opportunity to even make it to the park before it gets dark.

Jeff and I took Spike to the park this afternoon and saw even got to see a few friends.

We also saw these beautiful sky views. The moon was just a sliver in a dark blue sky.






Happy Friday.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Two of a Kind

The other night Jeff and I were watching TV and saw a commercial for the Ipad mini. It used the song, "Two of a Kind" by Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer. I know the song because my father had the album and recorded a copy for me on a cassette. (Yes my car is so old, I still have a cassette player.)

I enjoy listening to the tape though none of the songs are classics. I got a good feeling hearing the song on TV.

But I have to wonder--who's in charge of marketing the Ipad mini? Presumably the target market is relatively young users. Have they even heard of Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer?

I don't get that marketing campaign, but if it leads to a revival of Bobby and Johnny--I'm in.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The 2012 Cy Young Winner is RA Dickey

This evening I came home and told Jeff that they were going to announce the Cy Young winner in ten minutes. We turned on the television; ESPN had announced the American League winner (David Price) with the National League announcement to come. In a few minutes, we got the good news.

I've written about RA Dickey several times before (I should have added a label just for him.) I can't overestimate what he has done for the Mets this year. By the end of July, Johan Santana's no-hitter (the first in Mets history) was a distant memory. It was clear that barring a miracle (more likely a combination of miracles) that the Mets would not make it to the post-season.

RA was the bright spot in the second half. He gave fans something to cheer. Citi Field rocked that bright afternoon in late September when RA secured his 20th win.

Thank you RA. Mets management, don't trade him.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Creative Procrastination

I had a few hours free today. It would have been a good time to clean the kitchen floor or the bathroom. Actually, I had something to clean in every room.

Instead of cleaning, I tried on clothes. I pulled blouses, pants and skirts from the back of my closets. I was ruthless--packing up things that I hadn't worn in a while or didn't feel comfortable in. I filled two tall kitchen trash bags with clothes for the Goodwill.

My choice today reminded me of the time I cleaned out the linen closet instead of dusting and vacuuming the living room. Really. Who would even see my linen closet?  Shouldn't I have used my time more productively?

My normal rationale is that when I feel like doing some random chore--I should just go for it. But that's not always the right choice. I need to focus. Maybe this will help.

Climate Warp

Two weeks ago today, Sandy blew into town literally (one of the few times I can use "literally" literally.) We were better prepared than we had been for any previous storm and emerged virtually unscathed.

A little over a week later we were hit with a Nor-easter; we got about four inches of snow. Other parts of Connecticut got up to a foot.

Then there was today: partly cloudy in the mid-sixties (even nicer than yesterday's weather.) We spent an hour at the dog park. Walking around we saw remnants of Sandy; large fence posts that were uprooted and deposited in the middle of the field and branches strewn around the park. Many people in New York and New Jersey are still without power, continuing to struggle through destruction and devastation.

As much as I appreciate a day like today, I wonder about it. We've seen too many 50- or 100-year storms in the past few years. The way Sandy turned back inland after heading out to the Atlantic was unprecedented.

The world's climate is broken.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I'm Watching

Today the Science channel is showing a Firefly marathon.

Jeff and I missed Firefly when it was first broadcast in 2002-2003; we finally watched it sometime earlier this year. We loved it. We were disappointed that there were only fourteen episodes and only one movie. The show deserved much more.

Looking forward to the reunion next hour.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Dreams Don't Work Without Action."

If I were to choose one quotation to paste on my mirror, pc, notebook, etc., this would be the one.

I'm prone to dreaming; this would remind me that dreaming alone isn't enough.

The quotation is from the last episode of Roseanne, which ran from 1988 through 1997. Despite a weak beginning and a bad last season or two, parts of the show were brilliant, capturing a economically challenged reality rarely shown on TV.

Roseanne took a lot of flak for changing the history of the show in the last episode, particularly because she didn't just change the last season--her changes went further back into the show's story. I didn't like most of her changes either.

But the quotation and Phoebe Snow singing the final closing song worked for me.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Really?

Just the other day I wrote  "I realize that Presidential campaigns begin immediately after the previous Presidential election." But I didn't expect this.

Too much. Too soon. Too ridiculous.


Seen



Saw this on my walk with Spike today at the apartments next door. I was intrigued by the juxtaposition of the ripe tomatoes and the snow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Future of RA Dickey

As anyone who read my profile knows, I'm a Mets fan. My team's season ended early. The Mets headed downhill just before the All-Star break (although at the time it could have just been a bad patch.)

The Mets had a good first half, including their first no-hitter in June. In the second half, we had the stellar performance of RA Dickey. I hope to hear next week that he is the Cy Young winner.

Today, I heard that the Mets are shopping him if they cannot negotiate a deal with him soon.

Doesn't the team owe something to its fans?  I'm frustrated.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Post-Election Post

I've read many posts today analyzing the election results.

Here's one by CNN and another from the Atlantic.

This is Melissa McEwan's perspective.

Perhaps Republicans doomed themselves by revealing their real agenda.  We were listening.

Jezebel pulls no punches here.

Women, Latinos, blacks and the young: we are the new coalition.





Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our Long National Nightmare is (Almost) Over

I'm paraphrasing Gerald Ford in his inaugural address. But I'm not talking about Watergate and miscellaneous lawbreaking of the Nixon administration. I'm talking about the 2012 Presidential election.

I realize that Presidential campaigns begin immediately after the previous Presidential election. Did hundreds of Republican primaries start early in 2009 or does it just seem that way?

Political commercials have inundated the airwaves--thank you Supreme Court. Jeff started to hit the mute button every time a campaign ad came on TV.

Jeff and I voted this morning--not a big crowd in Norwalk, CT.  CT went for Democrats Obama, Murphy, and Himes (our representative.) No one was surprised that Obama took the state. Murphy's margin over WWE magnate, Linda McMahon, surprised me. Local news pundits suggest that voters resented McMahon's use of her own millions for her campaign.

CNN says it may not be as long a night that they thought: good news for President Obama (and me.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hooray for the Birthday Boy

Today is a special day--Spike turned 12.

In addition to our normal neighborhood walks, Jeff and I took Spike to Taylor Farm dog park around noon. After several unsuccessful attempts (my battery was low and Spike always looked away at the last second), Jeff was able to get his picture.

We picked up sandwiches at Blue Cactus, Spike's favorite neighborhood deli (and ours) for lunch.



For dinner, we cooked a duck breast--one of Spike's favorite foods. He had a Frosty Paw for dessert.

Time to relax after a busy day.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall Back Day

This morning at 2 am, daylight savings time officially ended. I didn't bother to change the clocks on Saturday night before we went to bed. After all, our cable boxes and cell phones did it for us--giving us a frame of reference. Today, we adjusted the rest of the clocks.

I keep thinking that I should write a poem, "Fall Back", as a companion piece to "Spring Forward."  I've scribbled a few lines but nothing seems to work. Maybe something will come to me in the future.

I never really understood the whole daylight savings rationale. I react badly to the spring habit of losing an hour. And it doesn't seem like a great boon to get the hour back now.

The first impact today of falling back was to adjust the time of our visit to the dog park. We left about an hour before sundown; it quickly grew cold and dark: no more dog park Fridays for some time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNo/NaBlo

Two people asked me if I were going to participate in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) this year. The idea is to complete a novel of 50,000 words working only in November.

I've participated in four NaNoWriMos: I washed out early in two, made a good showing in one (40,000 words) and won one.

This year I had no interest--no inspiration. I wrestled with ideas that I can't wait for inspiration; that not entering may be a self-fulfilling prophecy--i.e. that I know I'll fail so I won't try.

Ultimately, my heart isn't in it.

I've also been thinking about how far from my annual goals I am. I decided to try National Blog Writing Month. I can't find an official site; here is information from last year. I will post every day on this blog; I can't promise all posts will be meaningful, but I will post.

I also need to focus on some other writing. I decided on a goal of 10,000 words this month. Easy, compared to NaNo's 50K.

Right?


ETA: Apparently the correct term is: NaBloPoMo

Friday, November 2, 2012

Face Off Season Three Finale

I've written about my love for Face Off before. The Season Three finale was this week. We found a Face Off marathon on Tuesday, leading up to Part One. This year, SyFy showed the final competition on Tuesday with the artists returning to hear who won on a live Halloween broadcast on Wednesday.

The three finalists were problematic. I'm not sure I agree with the returning contestant idea, although I like Nicole. She made the the final, along with Laura, who produced stellar work all season long, and Derek, who was up-and-down all season. I think Roy would have been a better choice than Derek.

Nicole won. I was happy because she was likable and her work was good since her return (notwithstanding the standard werewolf.) I also would have been happy if Laura had won.

I enjoy that I can appreciate the final results (even if I don't get a close-up physical inspection) compared to shows such as Top Chef (in which I don't get to taste the dishes.) The best part of the show is the way the contestants support and help each other and (for the  most part) seem to like each other.

Looking forward to Season Four.



Venturing Out

Sandy brought strong winds to Norwalk, CT from Monday morning through Tuesday afternoon. Luckily, we didn't get much rain. Jeff, Spike and I hunkered down late Sunday afternoon after a dog park visit, only emerging for walks. We were glued to local TV and CNN for much of Monday and Tuesday morning. (until I found a Face-Off marathon and switched back to news during the commercials.)

Wednesday, we went a few blocks away to pick up a pizza for lunch. But it wasn't until Thursday that I left town. I had a tutoring student an hour's drive away. I saw that large stretches of my route were without power. I was stuck in traffic but figured it was worth it because the delays were due to electric repairs. I saw lots of debris, including large branches and tree-trunks--many chopped along the side of the road.

Close to my destination, I had to pass under a few trees propped against other trees--scary. Then the road I normally take was closed. I finally made it to my student's home, after a confusing, alternate route about a half hour later.

That wasn't the worst of it. On my way home, I passed through an intersection that  normally has a traffic light. I couldn't see anything without streetlights; it wasn't at one of the intersections that I recognized. A driver pulled out in front of me and I jammed on the breaks. Luckily he stopped midway through the intersection. Otherwise, I don't know where I would be right now. It was scary. It reminded me like nothing else to slow down and be extra careful. I needed to get back home to Jeff and Spike.



Thursday, November 1, 2012

An October Should-Have Post

October was Adopt A Shelter Dog Month. Better late than never. It's always a good time to adopt a shelter pet.

Many people think that there is something wrong with shelter dogs. I'm sure there are a few bad dogs. But for the most part, they are just victims of bad luck, especially in these tough economic times.

Spike is not technically a shelter nor a rescue dog. But he is a dog who needed a home when we wanted to have a dog join our home. We can't imagine our lives without him now. He has brought us love and joy and helped introduce us to a group of new friends. A win-win-win situation.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy: The Aftermath

We were lucky.

We didn't lose power--except for a few seconds of flickering lights.

There was a potential of losing sewage treatment but the plants were only closed for about two hours last night.

Jeff and I had never been more prepared.We have a gas stove and figured we would make meals that would be easy to heat up such as a turkey breast, chili and soup. We also made carrot-jicama salad. We stocked up on batteries, got out our radios, flashlights and candles. Late last  night, we filled vases, trashcans, pots, etc. with water. We figured the bucket we had previously filled would  not sustain us through a closed sewage plant.

I'll say it again; we were lucky.

Many other areas of Connecticut were not.

What can I say about  the Jersey Shore? It's been devastated--I worry about my cousin Barbara's home in Ortley Beach. Her house may have been pushed out onto the state highway.

Why have we had so many devastating storms in the past few years?

Can it possibly be the result of climate change?

It's only a myth according to many Republicans.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Seen

At Stop and Shop parking lot on Route Seven in Norwalk this morning:



I liked this because I usually sing in the car. I don't care if I look funny.

Waiting for Frankenstorm aka Hurricane Sandy

Tom says the waiting is the hardest part.  Yes, it can be nerve wracking waiting for Frankenstorm. Why can't it be more like this?

At least we had a few days to prepare. Jeff got batteries, bottled water and some food yesterday. I had an idea to cook a turkey breast this Sunday before hearing about the impending storm and it still seemed like a good idea. Jeff made chili and I made a butternut squash-carrot-sweet potato-apple soup and a carrot-jicama salad.

We expect to lose power. We got out flashlights, candles, radios, lantern, battery charger, and battery charged clocks. We've charged our phones and kindles. We put ice cubes in plastic bags and froze plastic containers filled with water to keep the freezer full and cold. We also froze some of the soup and chili. We have a gas stove and can use the stove-top even if we lose electricity for leftover turkey, chili and soup. I figure we can go into the freezer once.  If we're careful and lucky, we may only lose milk from the refrigerator. 

Meteorologists are saying that this storm is unprecedented. We are taking this seriously. I hope that because we are prepared--we won't have problems. But, we just have to wait and see.






Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Happy Earworm

Maybe it's the beautiful fall foliage that has brought this song to my mind. I've been singing snatches of it for the last few days.

I didn't appreciate Petula Clark until I heard a radio program retrospective of her work. She is awesome.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Once Upon A Halloween Eve--The Party

Our friends, Jenn and John, have a Halloween party every year with a special theme. Last night the theme was Once Upon A Halloween Eve. They started a blog and invited guests to add to the story. Jeff and I wrote posts to put our characters into the story.

Jenn and John always go all out on the decorations--inside and outside. The living room was an enchanted forest, including the golden tree that I wrote about.

I actually tried to go as the golden tree. I brought garlands of autumn leaves, an eye mask, a head band, a Sharpie brown paint pen, a piece of brown felt, pieces of brown foam rubber, gold tablecloths and brown and red cream makeup. I didn't have a clear concept (oh I sound like the judges on Face Off) and I had trouble executing the ideas I did have. I felt that I looked stupid but most people were complimentary. There was one woman who called me a pile of leaves. Whatever. It was a good party.

Seen



I was walking Spike this morning and noticed a series of leaf prints on the sidewalk adjacent to the hospital on Maple Street. I don't know why these were only on part of the sidewalk, but I was intrigued.

Spike was stubborn; he didn't want to wait while I snapped this photo and pulled on his leash. It's not a particularly good picture but it gets the idea across.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Veronica Mars Re-Watch: Season One Episode Seven

The Girl Next Door: The mystery of the week involves the disappearance of Veronica’s upstairs neighbor. Veronica finds her but later questions if she should have gotten involved and wonders if some things are better left buried.


Veronica’s journalism class project has her helping an alum plan a high school reunion. Looking through an old yearbook, Veronica learns that her mother and Duncan’s father were high school sweethearts.

The best part of the episode is the interaction between Logan and Weevil, stuck in detention together.  Weevil gets blamed for his and Logan’s revenge (putting their English teacher’s car on the school flagpole.) Weevil is expelled.  Logan is able to work a deal with the Vice Principal, confesses his part and gets Weevil reinstated at Neptune High.  All because Weevil had promised his grandmother that he would graduate from high school.  Hmm, just when I thought Logan was pure evil again.
I don’t get Veronica questioning herself about helping her neighbor. Yes, a man is now dead, but he’s a rapist and none of Veronica’s actions led to his downfall.

Is Veronica thinking about something else completely?  

Veronica Mars Re-Watch: Season One Episode Six

It’s been a while since my last Veronica Mars post. I actually caught this episode a few weeks ago on Soapnet. Today I watched it again on DVD.

Return of the Kane: The mystery of the week involves Neptune High’s Student Council election when Duncan Kane beats a more popular student. 09er Madison Sinclair rigged the voting instructions to ensure Duncan’s win. Another friend portrays Veronica’s trust.
A subplot provides the first glimpse of the Echolls family when Logan’s movie star father Aaron appears in a campaign ad for Duncan. Logan also returns to Pilot form as an obligatory psychotic jackass. He and his friend, Dick Casablancas, organize bum fights. After footage of the fights end up on the Smoking Gun website, we learn some dark secrets of the Echolls family.  

The official story of Lilly’s murder continues to unravel. Veronica discovers that the evidence linking Lilly to her convicted killer was apparently planted.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Once Upon A Halloween Eve

I've been trying to add a post to a friend's blog and it's not working so I thought I would link from here  and see how that works.


Anastasia knew that she was on her own. She tried to remember the details of the stories she had always ignored.  Old Nan had said there was only one way to escape the Dark Forest—something about following the path of the Golden Tree. What did that mean? All the trees ahead were dark with leaves of fire.  But she had to keep going if she were ever to find her way back home.

She moved forward—slowly and carefully. Those stories –those horrible stories--returned to her in a rush.  A young man who had mocked the Queen was lost when he stumbled over a tree root. The root wrapped around his leg and pulled him underground. His screams had been heard for hours. The Queen just laughed. Then there was the King’s cousin who challenged his rule; she was driven into the Dark Forest and never heard from again.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's Cooking?

After a few days with warmer than normal weather, temperatures plunged last weekend. Sunday seemed a perfect opportunity for a day of cooking.

I didn't accomplish as much as I wanted (the story of my life) but I made a flank steak black bean chili. Tuesday I made vodka sauce. Today it was carrot ginger soup, roasted potato salad and lentil salad. I later had to add more carrots to the soup--it was too watery. Despite keeping a careful watch, I overcooked the lentils--they are mushy but still good, but I don't think they will stand up as a salad.

I enjoy cooking when I don't have to rush--when I can take my time. It's nice to have many options for meals for another week.

Fall Free Association

This morning I woke up around 5:30. As I was trying to get back to sleep this chilly morning, I started thinking about words associated with autumn. 

In no particular order:
apples
pumpkins
crisp
gold, orange, red
hayrides
Halloween
leaves
leaves crunching beneath my feet
soups
early sunsets
shorter days
harvest
flannel sheets
Thanksgiving.

Is there a poem in there?

Day of the Girl

Today is the first International Day of the Girl. Its mission: “To help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”

To many of us in the US, it's hard to comprehend that girls going to school is a radical idea. I also never had to think about how to avoid child marriage. Ending child marriage is this year's theme.

I linked to Melissa's post on Shakesville because she has the best discussion I've seen on the topic, especially child marriage. The story disappeared from the CNN website.

Sigh. It's easier to count gaffes in tonight's VP debates.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Back to the Gym (Deja Vu)

I wrote another post with this title in January; it is similar to what I'll write today. It's been about three months since my last gym appearance. I have the time; it makes me feel good to work out, so what's the problem.

Why is it so hard to keep up good habits and so easy to continue bad habits? Are good habits always hard?

Whatever. I'm glad I worked out and hope I'm into something good.

Seen

I forgot to post this earlier. We saw this  at Citi Field after RA Dickey secured his 20th win on September 27th.



We can relate. Spike gets treats when the Mets win. It's been a sparse few seasons for him, but like us, he hopes.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Jeff

Jeff's 50th birthday was last Tuesday but we celebrated it last night with a party at the Wine Room of Fat Cat Pie Company here in Norwalk.

We don't do much entertaining--I think this was only our fourth party, but it was worth the wait. We were lucky to get the Wine Room--usually it requires a minimum of 40 guests and we numbered 24. The space was beautiful with flowers and candles.

The food was delicious: appetizers of mini quiche cubes, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and flank steak skewers with chimi-churri sauce. We had two salads: mixed greens and  kale and quinoa, a selection of pizzas followed by chocolate beet cake. We had three wines, a white, a rose and a red and two beers.

Everyone seemed to have a good time.

Happy birthday Jeff.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hooray for RA! Dickey Wins His 20th

It was a beautiful day and RA Dickey won his 20th game striking out 13 batters in the process. RA is the sixth 20-game winner in Mets history and the first since Frank Viola 22 years ago. David Wright got an assist with a three-run homer.

I hope that today's performance will clinch the Cy Young Award for RA. If so, he will join Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden as Mets Cy Young winners. (I was surprised to see that Seaver won three in '69, '73 and '75; that was before I became a baseball fan. Also, I lived in Phillies territory at the time--if I saw any baseball games it was with my father, a big Phillies fan.)

I secretly hoped for a no-hitter, but was happy just to see the Mets get a win. RA fell behind early, giving up two runs in the top of the second.  He left in the 8th inning just short of the third out. Jon Rauch made things a bit scary as he did in RA's last outing, but the Mets secured a win.

In a bad year, I can still be happy about a few things: a surprisingly good first half, Johan's no hitter in June, RA's 20 game winning season. Let's hope to add a Cy Young award to the list.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Streaks--Part Two

Yesterday the Mets swept the Miami Marlins. Today they won again, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2.  This is the third four-game winning streak of the season. The first was the first four days of the season; the second was in June.

The Mets are 13 games under .500. With only nine games remaining, a winning season is impossible. There's not much to celebrate.

Thank you RA Dickey for giving us something to believe in. On Saturday, he won his 19th game. The Mets have not had a 19 game winner since 1990. Thursday he'll go for number 20 in the Mets last home game of the season.

Jeff and I plan to go. We haven't been to Citi Field this year. We are hopeful that we'll see some history.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome Autumn

I heard a TV meteorologist say that autumn began at 11 AM today. I wonder how he can be so exact.

Many fall harbingers have already appeared: shorter days, cool mornings and evenings, a scattering of gold and orange leaves.

Autumn is my favorite season. I love crisp mornings, fall foliage, abundant apples and pumpkins, Halloween and the perfect time for warming soups and chillies. It's the season of Jeff's birthday and our wedding anniversary.

Thinking about autumn songs, I could only think of "Autumn Leaves." Googling autumn songs give me many tunes to sample.

Veronica Mars Re-Watch: Season One Episode Five

It took me a long time to write my last post on my Veronica Mars re-watch. I watched the first four episodes in five or six days. When I started to write, I realized that I wasn't always clear on what happened in what episode (besides Pilot) and had to go back to TWoP recaps.  So now I'll discuss one episode at a time.

You Think You Know Someone: The mystery of the week revolves around a missing car and missing steroids. The car belongs to Troy's father. Troy is an '09er (a resident of Neptune's richest zip code) but a newcomer to Neptune High who doesn't ostracize Veronica. He's previously appeared in Episodes 2 through 4 and has emerged as Veronica's love interest. The set up: Troy, Logan and another friend Luke had gone down to Tijuana for the weekend. They return, grab some food at a border diner but find the car gone when they leave the restaurant. A pinata in the back seat is also gone--a pinata that Luke has stuffed withs steroids.

Veronica is not the only one with a new love interest in the episode. Keith has been seeing Veronica's guidance counselor off-screen. (They did meet in a previous episode and Keith went to her favorite coffee shop to "accidentally" run into her.) There's an interesting dynamic in the two relationships.Veronica investigates her guidance counselor and gives Keith a report that she says he needs to read. Keith later does the same; he gives a report on Troy to Veronica but tells her it's her choice to read the report or not.

There's an interesting, almost throw-away scene with Veronica in journalism class practicing interviewing skills. A snotty girl asks how Veronica responds to rumors that her boyfriend hooked up with strippers in Tijuana. Veronica asks who she'll live with after her parents' divorce and what she thinks of her father's mistress. This is the Veronica who later described her philosophy as get even.

Both Keith's and Veronica's relationships come to an end in this episode. Keith decides that Veronica isn't ready for him to date and breaks up with the guidance counselor. Veronica confronts Troy after reading that he was expelled from two schools for drug dealing along with "Shauna." Troy does a great acting job and it seems that Veronica has jumped to the wrong conclusion again. But no! Troy succeeded in stealing the car and almost succeeded in stealing the steroids but Veronica foils him.

In the season long mystery, Veronica finds a key to her mother's safe deposit box. She prints out a faked death certificate to gain access and finds several photographs of her from the previous year with cross-hairs drawn around her head. She mails untraceable cell phones to all her mother's friends. Unfortunately when she gets a return call from mom, she's listening to music on her headphones and misses it.


Monday, September 17, 2012

24 Years

Today Jeff and I have been married for 24 years. We went out to dinner at Tengda Asian Bistro in Darien. We hadn't been there in years and it was delicious.

Jeff's birthday is in eight days. We usually combine our celebrations, sometimes going on vacation. This year we're throwing a party for Jeff's 50th birthday so we kept our anniversary low key.

I feel lucky to have found Jeff. We're well-matched. We enjoy many of the same things. But we understand that we don't have to enjoy all the same things. We respect each other's choices that we don't share.

Jeff has been a great husband, companion and friend. 

I'll share a piece about our wedding day that I included in my memoir writing class.

The Limo from Hell


            The morning of Jeff’s and my wedding, I was waiting in my parents’ den with my sister, Joanna. The limo was late.

             I checked the clock—11:10—time to leave if we wanted to make it to the church by 11:30.  Just then, I heard the crunching of driveway gravel under the weight of the limo. Finally. We hurried outside.

            “Sorry, I’m late,” the driver said. “They gave me the wrong directions to your house.”

            Joanna and I settled in the back of the limo and were on our way. I thought it was odd when the driver passed the entrance to the Merritt Parkway, but remained silent. After all, he was the professional.

            But when we turned left on Vine Road, I knew something was wrong. “You’re going the wrong way,” I said.

            “No, I’m not,” said the driver. “I looked up Lafayette Street on the map.”

            “But, we’re going to Lafayette Street in Greenwich, not Stamford.”

            The driver pulled the car over to the side of the road and got out. He began talking to another driver in the limo ahead of us.

            “What’s this—tag team limos?” said Joanna.

            I laughed but my stomach was churning. “I don’t believe this. I’m going to be late for my own wedding.”

             “Calm down,” Joanna said.

            “You’re right; they can’t start without me.” My giggles loosened the knot in my stomach.
 
            The driver returned and apologized. “They told me the wrong Lafayette Street. I was wondering why I couldn’t find the church.”

            Joanna and l looked at each other. “Jeff picked the limo,” I whispered.

            “The limo from hell,” Joanna said.

            We hit traffic in downtown Stamford trying to get on the turnpike. The limo clock read 11:20, but it felt much later. Joanna rolled down her window and asked a passenger in the next car for the time: 11:30.

            Our driver turned around. “I could have given you the time.”

            Yeah right. “They” probably would have given him the wrong time, along with the wrong directions and the wrong Lafayette Street. “They” were pretty incompetent.

            We reached the church at 11:50. Many of the guests had wandered outside. They quickly reassembled as Joanna and I entered. Even with my lateness, Jeff and I managed to get married on the upswing of the clock, a good omen according to my new mother-in-law.

            After the ceremony as we posed for pictures, I described my morning to Jeff. He told me that the limo had originally driven to the church.
 
          “You are the stupidest drivers,” Jeff’s father had said. “Did you expect to find the bride here? You’re supposed to bring her to the church.”

           After pictures, Jeff, Joanna and I returned to the limo with best man Jared and usher Adam for the ride to our reception. Inside the limo’s mini-fridge was a bottle of champagne.

            “Let’s crack that open,” I said. “We could use it.”

            None of us recognized the brand of champagne. By its taste, we figured it must have set the limo company back by $1.98 (excluding any volume discounts.)

            The car phone buzzed and Jeff talked to the driver for a few minutes.  The driver told him the champagne wasn’t included and we would have to pay for it. After all we had been through, the least the company could have done was spring for a cheap bottle of champagne.

          After our second toast, I looked out the window and realized I had no idea where we were. Luckily, Jared recognized our location and gave directions to the driver.

            “Sorry.” The driver repeated his litany, “They gave me the wrong directions.”

             When we arrived at our reception, I practically ran from the limo and waited for a few minutes for Jeff to join me.

             “What took you so long?”  
 
            “I had to give the driver my credit card number,” Jeff said. “He didn’t believe I paid.”

           We headed inside to celebrate. I was relieved that the ceremony was over and that our limo arrangements did not include a return trip.