Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Post on November

November sucked.

Succinct, if not eloquent.

I managed a post daily. (I never promised you a rose garden--in other words--long or eloquent posts.)

I failed at my other writing goals So badly, I don't want to describe it. We'll just leave it there.

Catamount Basketball

Today I went to my first college basketball game: the University of Vermont Catamounts against the Quinnipiac University Bobcats. Unfortunately, the Catamounts (our nephew's team) lost by 16 points. I don't think the Catamounts were ever in the lead.

We've watched a few Catamount games on TV over the past few years, so I've recognized a few players. I used to watch NBA basketball, so I think I can get into the college scene. I used to think it would be too mercurial. I used to think that I couldn't remember the changing players.

Now I have a reason to remember.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that I usually get a four-day weekend. This weekend I worked two hours. I wanted to work more, but the only other student who was interested is the one that I meet on Sundays. I have plans tomorrow--we're going to a basketball game--more on that later.

We've been lucky to avoid long travel at Thanksgiving, and we've never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. That means we avoid much of the holiday stress. It's sad that one of the first things I mention about Thanksgiving is stress. Ideally, holidays are a time of celebration with loved ones. Unfortunately, they often bring stress and discord.

I've had a good weekend. I was a bit nervous about snow on Wednesday, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared. Thanksgiving Day itself was very nice. Yesterday and today consisted mostly of errands and chores. Not particularly sexy, or exciting, but most days are neither. I'm happy for the calm.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Laundry Day and Christmas Specials

Last night was our last night pet-sitting. I want to be a good guest, so we washed the sheets and towels and changed the bed. (I didn't want to wait until all the towels were dry, so we left them in the dryer.)

We visited my mother next, after Jeff picked up sandwiches for us. My main job for my mother was laundry, specifically her nightgowns. I wish that I had ignored her when she said she didn't need another nightgown; I should have just gotten her one. Go for the next opportunity.

I was too tired when I got home to do my own laundry. I'll have plenty of time tomorrow. At least we've already sorted it.

After dinner, we watched Frosty the Snowman. I suppose it's a classic, but I immediately noticed how primitive the animation was.The story was also primitive. The following show--Yes Virginia--was much better.

I don't like to generalize, but maybe there's a reason I didn't watch those old TV Christmas specials.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Quiet Thanksgiving

Instead of a big family get-together, Jeff and I had dinner with just his parents and one of their friends. We ate early--at 12:30--and were back in Ridgefield for another night of pet-sitting before 4.

We took the dogs on a walk. It was quiet and peaceful. Only two cars passed us on the road. We passed houses that looked empty.

I took this photo to try to capture the calm.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Saturday Night Movie: Pompeii

Well, it's Wednesday. I guess our Saturday night movie--Pompeii--wasn't all that memorable. We didn't expect much. We started to watch the movie, then realized that a UVM basketball game was on, and watched that instead. After the game, we returned to Pompeii.

I had never thought about gladiator fights in Britannia, but I guess it makes sense that the rulers would import their own forms of entertainment, and there is evidence to support this.

But, that's just the set-up. I saw the rest of the movie as a second-class Gladiator. A commenter on IMDB compared it to Gladiator, but also to Titanic with its love story set against a disaster. I wonder if that's how it was pitched?

Overall, a mediocre film.

Hunkered Down

I got up early this morning because I hadn't packed yet. It was already raining. I had hoped to be out of the house by 9.  Surprise, I made it by 8:50. By the time I made it to my mother's health care facility, the rain had turned to sleet and my windshield was getting more foggy. I didn't stay long because within 20 minutes the sleet had turned to snow. I had to head further north to take care of Jake, and the snow would only be worse.

I made it up her just before 11; Jeff arrived about an hour later. I was so glad to see him; I would have just kept worrying if he had arrived later.

We just took the dogs out for a walk before it got too dark. And we're hunkered down, except for a short walk later tonight.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Waiting for the Snow

The temperature peaked at 65 to 70 degrees yesterday. Yet here we are under a winter weather advisory, watch or warning (I can never keep them straight.) It's going to hit tomorrow--the busiest travel day of the year.

We're heading up to Ridgefield to Jake-sit. It's just for two days, but damn the timing isn't good with the snow. If we stayed home, we'd probably get one to three inches. Up there, we may get four to six inches, or more. I don't relish shoveling out my car.

I plan to head up there as early as possible tomorrow. At best, I'll be driving through the rain.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm Tired

Madeline Kahn says it best (even though we're tired for different reasons.)

What's Cooking?

I went food shopping on Friday, along with running errands and doing laundry for my mother. I decided to pick up a rotisserie chicken for a simple dinner. I served it with Stovetop Stuffing and dried cranberries and a side salad with romaine, carrots and avocado.

We were a little more ambitious on Saturday night. I suggested that we do a surf and turf with the leftover filet mignon from Spike's birthday. Jeff got some salmon and we tag teamed dinner. First we had a cup of pumpkin/apple soup that I made earlier in the week. Jeff made the filet mignon and salmon with tomatoes and pesto. I roasted a red pepper, and potatoes with garlic and scallion and sauteed garlic and scallion to pour over the fresh spinach.

I had also found a beer based fondue when shopping and thought we could pair that with a beer based mussel dish. Usually we cook mussels with wine, but I remember a meal in a French restaurant beer garden on North Main Street in Norwalk that unfortunately no longer exists. That was Sunday's dinner: mussels with beer; a beer based fondue with garlic bread and apples. We also had a romaine salad.

Since Jeff also bought a lobster tail, we decided to add that to a Trader Joe's Japanese Style Fried Rice for dinner tonight. Jeff also added some carrot and ginger ferment and some fermented hot sauce and some red pepper,

All of our meals were delicious. Not sure what we'll come up with for tomorrow night's dinner.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"I'll Bet You $23.80."

I can't believe that I forgot about this line when I wrote about the 1930's Nancy Drew films in this post. As described on this Nancy Drew site, $23.80 was the weekly paycheck for WPA workers. WPA in pop culture again.


Today I saw possibly my first bumper sticker of the 2016 political season: "I'm waiting for Hillary." Nothing against Hillary, but I was more impressed with this car magnet. "I like big mutts and I cannot lie" with the silhouette of a large dog.

Loved it.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Working Out

With my visit to the gym today, I made it four times this week. Although that's been as aspirational goal of mine for the year, I've only done it twice.

Celebrate the small victories. Who knows where they may lead.

Bette's Twins

Bette Davis played twins twice: in A Stolen Life in 1946 and in Dead Ringer in 1964. Both aired on TCM recently.

I watched parts of A Stolen Life on Thursday between visits to the laundry room. Good twin Kate is an artist who falls for Bill (Glenn Ford,) Selfish, scheming twin Pat accidentally meets Bill just before his date with Kate and takes her place. Bill and Pat marry. Later a sailing accident creates the opportunity for Kate to steal Pat's life as Bill's wife.

I wish that I had recorded the movie, even though A Stolen Life is not one of my favorite BD films. I don't care for Glenn Ford's pompous, pipe-smoking Bill. The happy ending is too pat and too abrupt.

I haven't re-watched Dead Ringer yet, but I've probably seen it more times than I've seen A Stolen Life. The set up is similar: a scheming twin steals the boyfriend of her sister. But the film takes place several years after that event. Good twin Edith is a struggling bar owner; scheming Margaret is a rich widow. The twins reconnect at the husband's funeral. Later Edith creates her own opportunity to steal a life by killing her twin.

A Stolen Life is more of a romance, and Dead Ringer more of a mystery. The mystery aspects are more realistic. Neither film is great, but they are great vehicles for Bette.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Time's Irony

It's been a long week. I didn't work many hours, but had other things going on. I've been spending time with my mother as she recuperates and running errands for her. I had a docent meeting this week. I hope to be a part of new docent training programs going forward.

I can't believe that it's almost Thanksgiving. In some ways, time is passing so quickly. We've been inundated with catalogs for so long that I didn't realize that Christmas shopping season is already in full swing. I had thought that I had a good handle on shopping, but I guess it's just another thing I'm behind on.

I've been seeing store Christmas displays since late September (next to the Halloween décor.) Maybe the displays helped mess up my sense of time.

Onto to Thanksgiving... we are having dinner with Jeff's parents. It will be a quiet day--just the four of us. We'll be Jake-sitting too. He's a sweet boy; I look forward to seeing him again.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Day in the Life

I decided to write a day in the life post, even though today wasn't particularly interesting or productive.

I had many things to do, but no specific appointments. This can be a problem for me, because it's easy to let time slip away--to sleep a little later--to read a few things online--to linger over my journal and coffee.

Today I fell into all of those problems. I didn't get up with the alarm at 7, but was sitting down with my coffee and journal by 7:30. I remembered that I wanted to check out the price for a house I like that I pass on the way to the gym. Then I got further sidetracked looking for sales price information about our condo complex. I ended up journaling and checking things online until about 8:30. Spike was up for a long walk today--about nine block lengths. I'm glad that he felt strong enough for that walk and that he didn't want to take it the last few days when it was much colder and windy.

I got to the gym around 10:15--I concentrated on leg work, but also did a set on the ab roller and a half hour on the cross ramp. While I was at the gym, I decided that I really didn't have to go food shopping today, since I had planned dinner with things we already had. I got home at 11:30: showered and started laundry. For the rest of the afternoon, I did laundry, read and wrote some emails, and made pumpkin-apple-carrot soup. For dinner, along with the soup, I made bourbon old-fashions, baked ham, baked sweet potatoes, kale with sautéed garlic and onions, and a salad of avocado and red peppers. Jeff did the dinner dishes but it was still 8 PM before I put all the laundry away and changed the bed.

We watched some TV; I wrote a few more emails, and then this entry.

I regret my slow start and getting distracted this morning. I would love to have an extra hour about now. I'm glad that I got to the gym--my third visit this week--I think I could be back on track--I'm glad I made the soup. I'm still trying to find the exact mix that I did a few years ago--one soup was awesome. I regret not writing or doing something creative.

Overall, an okay if boring day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Favorite Seinfeld Episodes

For the third time in two weeks, I woke around 4:30 AM and had trouble going back to sleep. Rather than worry about finances or stress about to-do lists, I thought about my favorite Seinfeld episodes.

I have the So Long Seinfeld edition of Entertainment Weekly, so I could check episode titles as well as refresh my memory.

1. The Rye--this is my hands-down, all-time favorite episode. When George appears at the Rosses' window with a fishing rod, I was reminded of some of the classic gags of I Love Lucy. Then George thinks he succeeds and turns around to see Susan and her parents; I couldn't stop laughing. The episode also included a Beef-a Reeno eating horse, a bad result from oral sex, and mugging an "old bag." Hilarious

2. The Boyfriend--with guest star Keith Hernandez. We get the lowdown on helping someone move, a Mets inspired spoof of JFK and some great George work to extend his unemployment benefits

3. The Little Kicks--Elaine dances--a full-body drive heave set to music--plus Jerry as a movie bootlegger.

4. The Sponge--introduces the term, spongeworthy. How many sitcoms discuss women's faithfulness to their birth control?

5. The Outing--are George and Jerry gay?  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

6. The Pen--Stella! A visit to the parents is reduced to 20 minutes when you subtract showers.

7. The Opposite--I love George becoming the winner for once. He meets a beautiful girl and gets a job with the Yankees. Whoda thunk it?

8. The Conversion--George becomes a Latvian Orthodox to impress a girl. It's not the religion that sacrifices squirrels.

Numbers 2 through 8 are not in any particular order. If I had to name a top ten, I'd pick the final two from this list. I'll have to think about this more:

The Virgin
The Contest
The Puffy Shirt
The Marine Biologist
The Strike (Festivus--I think the other titles are self-explanatory.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On Failure

I found this quote today in an issue of The Week.

Failure is success in progress. -- Albert Einstein

The second quotation was posted in a classroom in Darien High where I taught a SAT class this summer.

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. -- Robert F. Kennedy

It's not just the solar vortex

Yesterday I read about the Omega Block. I couldn't stop thinking about Anthony Zerbe.

Regardless of what they call it, it's very cold. I put on my long winter coat, hat and warmest gloves. Jeff dressed Spike in his Fido fleece. It was a sudden change. Last week it was in the mid-sixties. The forecasters warned us that the cold was coming. We had a nice respite while much of the country got slammed.

Even with today's cold, it could be a lot worse. We could be in Buffalo--with three feet of snow and four more on the way.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Not Quite the Day from Hell, but...

There was some good news today. We had a meeting about my mother's
recovery; she is progressing, despite a few problem areas. She will remain in the health care center for two more weeks. At that point, there will be a re-assessment.

I was annoyed because the meeting started about 25 minutes late. After waiting five minutes past the start time, I went to the nurses' station. No one seemed to know what was going on. One nurse said she'd find out and let me know. About 15 minutes later the social worker arrived and apologized for being late. I can deal with lateness, but I don't like the feeling that no one knows what's happening.

Later I got the run-around about my mother's mail. I was told two weeks ago, that no-one can touch her mail. OK, I got that. But then security collected her mail. One day I picked it up and took it to her. Another day, Security delivered it. Now, she hasn't gotten mail for a few days. One guy from Security complained about all that they have to do--they're not supposed to touch the mail--but are asked to deliver it anyway--so it's a low priority. I'm happy to pick up the mail myself. I'm there about three times a week and Jim may be there on other days when I'm not--we can cover picking up the mail. Today I consulted about four people and no one could find the mail.

I went up to my mother's apartment to do her laundry. As I was waiting for it to dry, I used the toilet and it overflowed. I couldn't find a number for housekeeping, called the main number, and someone promised to send housekeeping to help. After about 20 minutes, I called again, asked for housekeeping and got a voicemail greeting from Environmental Services (talk about euphemisms.) Worse than that, I got a message that someone would respond within 24 hours. Lucky for me the toilet just overflowed and stopped and didn't explode. It reminded me of the facility's security department message: we don't check this voicemail regularly. WTF? Thanks.

My mother doesn't have a plunger or a mop, because she has housekeeping services. But what about when things happen after hours. Hell, my problem happened around 2 PM. The toilet overflow wasn't bad, I mopped up the water with towels, and can take my own Swiffer and clean. But this is not the best way, especially with the fees my mother is paying to live there.

To top the day off, I made a wrong turn and was late to my first tutorial. Then I stepped in a puddle.


Sunday, November 16, 2014


Yesterday I emailed a friend to see how she was doing with her writing goals this month. She hasn't been able to write every day as she had hoped. My reaction was ambivalent. She's my friend and I want her to succeed in her endeavors. On the other hand, there's the adage that misery loves company. I don't feel as bad about my own failures/shortcomings if she is also having trouble achieving her goals.

I don't expect that the second half of the month will be easier for me than the first half. I'll just try to keep moving forward. At least I've been thinking about the story that I started (only about 300 words.)

One positive for me in the last week is that I've worked out at home when I couldn't get to the gym. That's been a problem area for me for a few years. It helps me feel better physically which helps me in other areas.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Medicare Miasma

OK, a slight exaggeration, but I love hyperbole as well as alliteration.

Yesterday, I discovered that my mother couldn't get a nasal spray that will help her hearing because all her medicines have to be authorized by Medicare. My attempts to order a prescription renewal were doomed to fail. One of the nurses told me she would have to take care of this.

The nurse said I would either be hugging her at the end of this or throwing tomatoes at her.

We'll just have to wait and see, but she was really pushing for the former.

Seen: A Mystery Hawk

Yesterday when I was returning from my mother's follow up appointment with her surgeon (all went well) I saw a hawk perched on a traffic sign heading into her health care facility. At first, I thought it was an osprey.

This morning I looked at some photos online. and realized that an osprey was all wrong. But I couldn't figure what kind of hawk it was. It was light colored--white to gray--with a rounded head. The photos that looked the most likely, were birds from other areas of the continent. Others had the wrong coloring.

I also looked at snowy owls; the head reminded me of owls, but that was wrong too. I guess I'll just have to keep my eyes open. I saw other hawks today and tried to look at them in flight. But ultimately, driving required my attention.

Friday, November 14, 2014

WPA Murals in Pop Culture

Last night we watched Elementary. The main plot was about a murderer of participants in a math quiz/scavenger hunt. A secondary plot concerned Joan Watson's interaction with Holmes' new assistant Kitty. As part of the secondary plot, Watson was investigating why a man known for finding values in real estate was interested in a dilapidated building.

The kicker: the dilapidated building had a WPA mural that had been painted over because the artist Diego Rivera was a communist. The mural's value far exceeded the building's value. The mural also had a great historical value.

I get a kick when I hear "SAT" type vocabulary words on TV shows. The reference to WPA was something similar, but more important. It reminds me that not everyone had forgotten the legacy of WPA art.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Miscellaneous Musings

Business Names:

When we were visiting Jeff's parents a few weeks ago, I saw a truck for a company called Quinn-tessential Floors. I told Jeff that that person had the same sense of humor as I did; maybe it's more accurately called a sense of wordplay. After all, this blog is called Coll-ection.

Quinn-tessential definitely beats the Honey Do Man. I don't like the idea of a honey-do list. It reminds me of the stereotypical nagging wife, who's always after husband with a list of chores.

Destiny vs. Dynasty:

Apparently Jeff and I were in the minority; we watched the World Series (at least part of every game.) I love baseball and liked that the series went to seven games, but couldn't get too excited. Despite my disdain for the designated hitter, I found myself rooting for the Kansas City Royals. Game 7 was a bit of a disappointment. I've no use for dynasties unless the Mets can manage one.

Another Mets Silver Lining:

There was a lot of coverage about Jacob deGrom winning the Rookie of the Year Award. But I missed the announcement of the Gold Glove winners on November 4. Congratulations center fielder Juan Lagares.

Thursday Night Television:

Jeff and I have been watching Elementary since the beginning. We started watching The Big Bang Theory after it went into syndication.Tonight we watched the line-up between those two shows.  Well, we half -watched--while doing other things. The shows were pretty poor. Glad to know we haven't been  missing anything.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"I Could Use Another Week Like This."

That's what a woman said to me at the dog park yesterday. We had a beautiful day--sunny, around 65 degrees. That's great for November. Alas, we won't get another week. Today was still warm, but it's growing colder and colder as the week progresses.

Spike enjoyed his day at the dog park.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Culinary Hits and Misses

Cooking can be a monotonous chore, especially the day to day--what should we have for dinner routine.

But as chores go, I enjoy cooking, especially when I have an afternoon free. The free days used to be Sunday winter afternoons. Now I often work on the weekends, so I find my cooking times on other days. Luckily, Jeff has taken on some of the Sunday afternoon cooking.

If I have to pick one dish as Jeff's specialty, it's ropa vieja from this cookbook. One weekend he was really into cooking; he made ropa vieja on Saturday and coq au vin on Sunday. On Monday, I made a flank steak and black bean chili. Good eating. Jeff likes to make recipes as originally written.
Ropa vieja and coq au vin provided us with two to three meals. Same with the chili. When I had a cold, I made a chicken orzo soup. I had been thinking of carrot pumpkin, but I wanted the comfort of a chicken soup.

My recent cooking attempts have not been as successful. Last week I made a vodka sauce but used coconut creamer instead of heavy cream. First I looked for an organic heavy cream. Then I checked out recipes online. Many listed coconut milk or other dairy substitutes I think that was my big mistake. The sauce didn't look right. It didn't taste bad, but just not as good as it normally does. I doctored part of the batch by adding more vodka and coconut creamer, thinking that was my problem. The sauce was better, but not up to my normal standards.

Yesterday, I made a ground buffalo and black bean chili. I've made this several times before, but yesterday used dried black beans. I soaked the beans overnight; I thought that would make the dried beans equivalent to the canned beans I usually use. I started the chili in the crockpot on low at 11:30 and then went to visit my mother. When I got home around 3, the beans were still hard. I put the crockpot on high. We ate around 6. The results were disappointing. Some beans were still hard, the consistency of the chili was off. I won't use dry black beans again. I don't get what went wrong, but it just isn't worth figuring out.

Edited to add: how could I forget Jeff's stuffed pumpkin? It didn't have a fancy name--I think it was pumpkin stuffed with good things. It had cheese, bread and spices and was delicious.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Congratulations Jacob deGrom!

Tonight the Baseball Writers' Association of America named Jacob deGrom as the National League Rookie of the Year. deGrom joins other Mets pitchers and rookie of the year winners Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. Impressive company. Last week deGrom won the Players Choice Award for NL Outstanding Rookie

Once again the Mets have suffered a losing season. deGrom is this year's silver lining.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Nano Regrets

Today I was thinking that I should have tried nanowrimo this year. I'm in a LinkedIn nano group and have been reading posts. I'm also in a group that receives email  from my local ML's. I don't remember what ML stands for, but a ML is some kind of nano leader/liaison for the region--in this case--Fairfield County, CT. I miss the camaraderie of the nano write-ins.

But I have to face facts. I've barely kept up with the  nablogpomo goal of one post a day. Outside of my posts, I've only written 322 words. The nano write-ins have been held on Saturday and Sunday, when I'm unable to attend because I usually work.

So what do I take from all this? This wouldn't have been a good year for me to nano.The 50K word count would have been too stressful for me. But I like the camaraderie. I need to go to retreats or create my own, as I tried this year, but need to do better.

Saturday Night Movie: American Hustle

Last night Jeff and I watched American Hustle. I enjoyed the movie: it was fun. The movie claimed part of it was true. I remember the ABSCAM scandal. The film didn't mention New Jersey Senator Williams. I realized that the name of the Mayor of Camden was changed, but I couldn't remember the original.

I liked the performances, the music, the clothing and hair styles. But overall, I think the film was overrated. While I recommend the film, it was good, but not great.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

To William Castle

I spent many a Saturday afternoon at movie matinees. I saw the occasional Gidget film, but most of the matinees featured horror films. I remember The Last Man on Earth (I was traumatized when Vincent Price sobbed and then killed the infected dog) and The Kiss of the Vampire. Then there were the William Castle films: I Saw What You Did and The House on Haunted Hill.

My mother says that I had nightmares after watching The House on Haunted Hill. Funny, I don't remember that. I do remember the stage show when we went to see that film at the Century Theater in Audubon. We didn't get the skeleton moving across the ceiling, but my best friend's sister Jeanette was called up on the stage. I remember her sniffing a "blood-stained" handkerchief; she said it smelled like mercurochrome.

I recently watched a TCM documentary about Castle: Spine Tingler? The William Castle Story. It was a revelation. I had no idea that Castle worked on both The Lady from  Shanghai and Rosemary's Baby.

I enjoyed Castle's B list  films, Besides the classic House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts was fun. He was a great publicist and the master of the gimmick with fun names like emergo. John Goodman portrayed a movie-maker based on Castle in Matinee and captured his spirit and fun. Like many type-cast actors, Castle may not have fulfilled his dreams, but he made an impact on moviegoers who don't appreciate the blood and gore that make up the current movie horror.

I miss you William Castle.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Week End

I tend to think of Friday as the end of the week, even though most of my tutoring work now takes place on the weekends. I just finished reviewing my notes for my three students tomorrow.

This is usually the time I ask myself what I did this week. I don't have many accomplishments. I only had two tutoring sessions.I did other tutoring administration and prep work. I went to the collaboration seminar. I spent several hours with my mother and dealing with issues relating to my mother.

I guess that's where my week went. With my part-time schedule, I'm the one who can visit my mother most often as she recuperates from her broken hip. I'm also the contact person for the health center. I got two calls from them this evening, despite spending three hours there this afternoon. I have to escort my mother to her follow up visit to the surgeon next Friday in the official transport, because she can't be left alone in the vehicle. So I need to drive up to Redding, then drive down to the doctor's in Norwalk, back up to the health center and then home.  

As for today, I didn't plan on spending three hours at the health center. I was thinking of an hour and a half. But my mother insisted that I do her laundry, although I wanted to wait until Monday. Then I came home and did my own laundry.

Oh what a glamorous, creative life I lead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Collaboration Seminar

Because of my work as a docent with the Norwalk Arts Commission, I got to attend a Collaboration Seminar by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County. I got much more from the seminar than I expected.

The program consisted of four ten-minute presentations by pairs of collaborators. They shared best practices and lessons learned. Some of the ideas were basic, i.e. communication. But the way the speakers presented the lessons were helpful.

I need to write an email about it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Special Day--Spike is 14.

Time to celebrate Spike's 14th birthday.

When we went out on our morning walk, Spike took us all around the block. Usually he heads across the street or next door, and then quickly returns home. I consider a normal block to consist of four street lengths. Because of the configuration of our neighborhood streets, our block is six lengths. I was happy that Spike could easily make it.

This afternoon I took Spike to Cranbury Park. Spike didn't want to cooperate with a photo op. When I got the camera out, be headed to the exit.

Here are the few photos I caught.

Spike is the best. Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


There isn't a Senate race in Connecticut this year; much of the focus here is on the governor's race. it's a close one--we may not get those results until tomorrow. I was surprised to hear that Connecticut might have had a record turnout of 55 to 60 percent of registered voters. Beautiful weather helped; problems with delayed registration records in Hartford hurt.

Politicians and multiple PAC's made this an ugly campaign. Watching New York television and listening to NY radio exposed me to negative campaigns of three states (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.) I didn't know half of the candidates.

I must admit I'm mesmerized by John King and his magic map on CNN. Last election, some of the other reporters/anchors struggled with it.

Regardless of the results, my biggest feeling right now is one of relief--no more campaign ads and no more frantic email requests for money.

A Week of Hospitals and Health Care Centers

Last Tuesday around this time, I had just returned from Norwalk Hospital's emergency room after spending four hours there. My mother was heading into surgery. She had broken her earlier in the day. Although she was the fourth person who needed hip surgery that night, she was the only one in good enough physical shape to make it to the OR. The surgeon called me about an hour later, and said everything went well.

I spent many hours over the next three days at the Hospital, including a visit on Halloween as Carmen Miranda. The timing of my walk coincided the construction workers taking their lunch break. I got quite a few stares.

Friday evening the Hospital transferred my mother to health care center at her retirement community. So now I've been visiting her up there--a half hour drive rather than a walk across the street. I'm thankful that she moved back up north. This would be too hard to handle if she still lived in Hilton Head.

At least I missed the vet's visit this week. I had a scary moment Saturday morning when Spike apparently slipped on wet leaves while climbing up a curb. He could barely put any weight on his bad leg. I thought I might have to carry him back home. I had several tutoring appointments, so Jeff took Spike to the vet's. She gave him muscle relaxants and he seemed good as new the next day. We just have to keep an eye one him.

Monday, November 3, 2014

On Time, Writing, Discipline and Inspiration

This morning, I got an email from Laura Vankerkam; she mentioned nanowrimo as an organizational/time management issue. I deleted the email, but kept the link open. Then I had to reboot my computer. I forgot about the article when I emptied my trash. Now I can't find the email. Instead, I found this tweet and this post. The post had a link to another.

What's the best balance between discipline and inspiration? Can you wait for inspiration to strike? Can you jumpstart inspiration by discipline?

I think that's why Julia Cameron stresses both morning pages and artist dates.

Years ago I clipped an article by Sharyn McCrumb in Writers Digest called Of Time and the Writer. I found this summary of the article. Funny that was easier to find than the email I received this morning. I know I also have a hard copy of the article somewhere.

So it's day two of my month of writing goals. So far I've failed. Today was a good opportunity for me to write too. Oh well, try again tomorrow.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


A friend recently emailed me about nanowrimo. She decided to use nanowrimo to get started writing again, although she wouldn't try to write 50,000 words.

I had come up with my own writing goals for the month. I had attempted, but
failed at  these goals before. I'll write at least one blog post a day (the blogging version  of nanowrimo) plus write an additional 500 words a day. That's nothing compared to the 1667 daily work count to meet the nanowrimo goal, but it's still hard when I've barely written anything.

I wrote 322 words today; I'm forcing myself to write this post although I really want to go to bed. It's a start, anyway.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Family Visit

Last weekend Jeff's sister Thea and her daughter Jane visited from Seattle. All of the family girls (Thea, Jane, Jeff's mother Barbara, Jeff's other sister Melissa and I) took a trip to the Danbury Mall. First up: a ride on the carousel (Thea, Jane and me) followed by a visit to the Build A Bear Workshop. As Barbara observed, it's a big money-maker. But it's also charming. Jane selected a bunny; a sales associate stuffed it, with an assist from Jane; Jane "bathed" it to fluff it up, selected clothes and printed a birth certificate (with help of course.) She named her bunny Maya (great name.)

For me, the highlight of the visit was several rounds of Uno--I haven't played it in years and it was fun. I want to teach Jane and her twin brother Ian rummikub; that's another fun game.

Time Just Gets Away From Me

The title of this blog post is a variation of the last line from the remake of True Grit as I posted here,

It's been eight days since my last post, and that's my excuse. I've started a few posts, I've had many topics to write about, but I just didn't finish. (I just didn't finish could be the motto of my life.)

I've started a few posts and have several ideas for others. I will make a series of mini-posts rather than trying to capture eight days into one.