Monday, December 31, 2007

10 Things I Did For The First Time in 2007

  • Went to Africa (lots of firsts there)

  • Ate pheasant (in Scotland; it was delicious)

  • Attended a cremation (farewell, dear Aubrey!)

  • Lounged in a pool in Yorba Linda, California (thanks, Lil Sis!)

  • Lived in Spanish Harlem/on Park Avenue (take your pick - they're one and the same - obviously, I'm on the dodgy end of Park Ave)

  • Appeared on a Broadway stage in a Tony-winning musical (remember my stage-sitting role in "Spring Awakenings"?)

  • Visited Central Park's Conservatory Gardens, Grant's Tomb, and The Cloisters (ah, the resident tourist!)

  • Bought groceries at a bodega (what I wouldn't give for a Super Kroger or Publix)

  • Befriended an MTA worker (Salute, Calvin! You're missed on the Grand Central Station subway platform since your retirement.)

  • Didn't use all my vacation days (must do better in 2008)
  • Friday, December 28, 2007


    Everyone says it, I know, but really - where has 2007 gone? I'm still trying to get some closure on 2004. At this rate I'll never catch up. Is it OK to just skip 2004-2006 and work on 2007, do you think?

    It's the stock-taking that wears me out. What have I done this year that I meant to do? What did I get myself into that I swore I wouldn't? What fell by the wayside? All those good intentions.

    Seems a rather depressing exercise, but I'm not denying that one must take inventory once in a while, lest our ready supply of . . . of . . . stuff runs out. And Lord knows I need stuff to keep me going. Still, it always appears that my short-comings (not staying in touch, losing weight, writing - no! I mean it!, miraculously becoming a kinder, gentler soul, etc.) far outweigh the accomplishments.

    But, next year! Next year, by gum! I will repair my damaged, flimsy moral fiber. I mean it. I will make it beyond February on the resolutions. Or not. Well, hope springs eternal. I'm facing a 4-day weekend, and I'll try to think this stuff through. Or maybe I'll just sleep and read. Stay tuned.

    Christmas Crazy/Christmas Calm

    After almost two full weeks in Atlanta, I'm back in my little New York turret to ring in the New Year. It's good to be back, but it was a most wonderful Christmastime down home. Much of what happened falls squarely into two camps: wild/crazy, restful/calm.


    • Family gathering, including the hayride. You've seen the pictures - food, babies, cows.
    • Chuck and Barbara's party. Good conversation, lots of laughs, and unsurpassed salmon Wellington. Oh, yeah - and he didn't hide the "good" stuff: the lovely blue-bottled Bombay!
    • Cookie-making frenzy. (Yummy butter cookies and outstanding cheddar cheese nibbles, if you're interested.)
    • Children's pageant service the Sunday before Christmas. All those angels and wise folk! I assure you that the Baby Jesus couldn't have slept in heavenly peace with all this racket going on. Hilarious (in a religious sort of way)!
    • After-Christmas movie Sweeney Todd with daughter Kate. Fabulous. Amazing. Brilliant. The only thing I missed (from the play) was "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd," but I understand why it wouldn't have worked in the film.

    • Time enough to put my feet up by the fire and watch old Christmas movies. Very restful and welcome. Ahhhh!
    • Meal-sharing with friends - lunch with Lynne, dinner with Craig, and dinner(s)/present-exchange with Carey & Family. Nothing beats good conversation in conjunction with good food and dear friends. All part of the blessings of the season.
    • Low-key Christmas day with family. Amazing stories around the fireplace - some funny, some loving, one scary/disturbing. Nibbling on sweets and chowing down on homemade chili and sandwiches. Calm and bright.
    • Going through the stack of Christmas cards when I got back to New York yesterday afternoon. I took my time and appreciated each and every one.

    Not sure which category the Christmas Eve service at All Saints' falls into - crowded, colorful, brass-and-timpani, red roses and poinsettias, candles, music. Not crazy. Not calm. Christmasy, though.

    Hope Santa was good to you. Now, I must go find a pen and ream of paper to start making those resolutions for 2008!

    Monday, December 24, 2007

    The Christmas That Santa Forgot

    I've never been a present-counter. When I was a kid, Santa left our gifts in very distinct piles under the tree, so that after a half-minute's assessment in the cold darkness - because it was darkness at 4 or 5am - each of us could head straight for our own small array of presents once we'd spotted one or two items that we knew had our names on them. Santa was nothing if not organized in our household. One of us would fumble around to plug in the Christmas tree, then we'd sit in its light on the floor in front of our goodies and indulge in magical exploration.

    But back to the present-counting - I don't remember any of us hollering, "Hey, I got 8! How many did you get?" The focus was on quality - and by that I mean, had those one or two important Santa List wishes been granted? - not quantity. I'm not sure we really asked for much. Oh, there might be a special doll or game that caught our fancy, but I have no memory of having a long list of wants. Once that basic wish had been fulfilled - and it always was, I think - the sheer number of gifts didn't matter. (Take note, Dudley Dursley.)

    In the pre-dawn darkness of Christmas 1961, I spied my pile of goodies. It wasn't a pile, exactly; it consisted of only two gifts. But I knew it was mine. There, in the subdued glow of the multicolored big-bulb and bubble Christmas tree lights, I saw the one thing I wanted most that year: a transistor radio! Yea! And next to it was a book about the American Revolution. Imagine! Santa thought I was grown up enough to own my very own hard-backed scholarly (well, to a 5th grader) work! A radio and a book. What more could a girl want? (I still have the book. See?)

    I don't remember what the other three had in their gift-stacks. I was totally captivated by my personal stash of music and literature. To the best of my memory, we all seemed pretty happy with the goods.

    On these early Christmas mornings, Mother and Daddy usually dragged themselves out of bed once they heard us rattling around. I don't know if they wanted us to have a few minutes on our own to take it all in, or whether their warm comfy bed was just too hard to leave. At any rate, they did manage an appearance within a half-hour or so after the four of us had hit the living room.

    That Christmas, Mother came in first. I don't think I noticed her until she said, "Is this all that Santa brought?" There was a bit of uncharacteristic panic in her voice.

    All? All? A transistor radio and a hard-backed book? All? Why, this was the mother-lode, as far as I was concerned. But evidently my own mother saw something lacking in the layout of gifts.

    "I think Santa Claus must've left some things in the attic. I think Daddy ought to go up and see where Santa dropped them."

    Poor Daddy, who'd probably only gotten a couple of hours' sleep, shook his head and headed upstairs. After a few minutes he came down, laden with other goodies. I remember a Flintstones Bowling Set (the "ball" was shaped like a boulder - ha!) and - what? - the Give-a-Show Projector, maybe, plus assorted games and goodies. Wow! I guessed we'd been better that year than we'd thought!

    The point is that as wonderful as the additional gifts were, I, for one, was perfectly happy with my radio and book. It didn't matter that in the year 1961 Santa had lost his marbles, not to mention our Flintstones Bowling Set. But it did make for one more memorable and oft-repeated Frazier Family story: "The Year Santa Left All the Presents in the Attic."

    Merry Christmas, blog-friends. Wishing you comfort and joy, and the 2007 equivalent of a transistor radio and a book on the American Revolution.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007

    What I really want for Christmas

    I have serious kid-envy this time of year. No, no - I don't envy people with children; I envy the little curtain-climbers themselves. Once you outgrow toys - and I mean real toys, not computery, electronic, or car-shaped things - some of the excitement goes out of the season.

    Now, I'm not talking about the real meaning of the season. Nothing beats a Christmas of watching a re-creation of the Nativity, reading Luke chapter 2, gathering with other faithful (and once-a-year faithful) folks at church to witness the 2000-year-old mystery, and singing Christmas carols during a service. But I'm talking about the flip-side, the childhood, Santa Claus part of Christmas.

    So, if I had my druthers, here's what I'd hope to find under the tree on Christmas morning (unwrapped, of course, since Santa himself left them for me):

    Etch-a-Sketch - Boy, I'd love to have a brand-new Etch-a-Sketch to doodle around on. Mess it up, then flip it over, give it a shake, and start all over.

    Slinky - A metal one, not a plastic one (what's the point of that?). I love the "slinky" noise a metal one makes as it goes from palm to palm or down the stairs. Very soothing.

    Monopoly - Just the original Atlantic City one, not a cutesy special version. Of course, I'd need to find a couple of suckers to play with me. (Kidding - I never win at Monopoly, but that's not where I find the fun in the game.)

    SpiroGraph - I could sit for hours making mindless kaleidoscope patterns with all the different little wheels.

    Modeling Clay - Real clay, not PlayDoh. Such therapeutic stuff, is clay - smooth, easy to manipulate, and all those long, long snakes to create.

    Wooly Willie - OK, so the name sounds a big risque in this day and time, but he was pretty harmless in his day. You know - he's the bald guy with the magnetic shavings that you can pull around to create hair and eyebrows.

    Tinkertoy - A whole canister just for me. The real wood kind, not plastic. Whoopee! I'd master that Ferris wheel for sure.

    Guess I'm really showing my age, here. Sigh. Wonder how many kids will find those toys under the tree this year. Not many, I suspect. What toy - real kid toy, not a grown-up toy - would you like to find under the tree this year?

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    Guilty Pleasures

    Go ahead. Put me behind bars. 'Tis the season of guilty pleasures - usually food-related, if I'm the norm. Alas, my guiltiest pleasures are indulged, embarrassingly, all year long. Amidst all the ho-ho-ho, a little GP soul-baring:
    1. Reading the Daily Mail online. This English tabloid (and it is a tabloid) cracks me up. It oh, so wants to be above the Page 3 Sun-type paper, yet it manages to show as much T&A and harp on as many scandals as anything on the stands. But all in the name of "news," of course. Hilarious! (Apologies to any faithful "news" readers of the Mail.)

    2. Watching "Snapped." It's a show about women who have reached a breaking point of some kind and have bumped off the old man, boyfriend, or rival. Since only about 7% of the murders in the U.S. are committed by women in any given year, there's usually a damn good reason the killer "snapped." These murders mostly involve love and/or love of money and are divided into two groups (in my mind): a) the woman is a greedy bitch and wants the guy dead so that she can collect insurance or run off with another guy, or b) the woman is abused and the sucker deserved whatever she threw at him. At the end of the show, I'm feeling pretty good about my own life, however pathetic is might be. Snap!

    3. Eating raw pasta. Guilty. I keep boxes of penne pasta around to snack on. I know. This is terrible for my teeth, and I will rue the day I break one on the stuff. Guilty.

    4. Eating New York street food (from street vendors - not off the street). Yeah, yeah. It's terrible for you. And who knows where it's stored and whether it's properly cooked? But, mmmmmmm, it smells good and tastes good and it's cheap. OK, I'm not that guilty about this one.

    5. Nightly, steamy-hot, full-tubbed bubble baths. I'm a great water-conservationist except when it comes to filling the tub full of hot water and having a nice soak at the end of the day. Whenever I feel too guilty and skip the bath, I usually end up getting out of bed at 3am to take one, anyway. It relaxes me. It de-stresses me. And I realize how selfish that is in the big scheme of things. Guilty, as charged.

    Got any guilty pleasures you want to own up to? I'll be glad to share my cell with ya'.

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    Hay! Hay! Hay! Merry Christmas!

    What could be better than a hayride in the country at Christmastime? Cuz treated those of us brave enough to withstand a wind-chill factor of -4 to a wagon tour of his eye-pleasing acreage and a chance to get up close and personal with his cows. The hay was quite comfortable - not the thick, scratchy kind - and if we'd had a few blankets and several flasks of brandy, it would've been absolutely perfect. It was pert-near perfect, even without the blankets and booze.

    Here's Cuz on the tractor, patiently waiting as we decide who's going, who's staying, and where those who are going will sit. At least he has the hat for it.

    Before the hayride: I call this shot "It Takes a Village (to Dress Tallulah for the Hayride)." Note her one pink/one purple Crocs. As her mother Amy said, some battles just aren't worth fighting! Amen.

    Baby Elliott finds the ride conducive to napping. He could barely keep his little eyes open as we rumbled along.

    Ah, the cows. They even mooed for us. They're just standing around waiting for their parts in the Nativity play, I reckon.

    While Cuz used some of our "sittin' hay" to feed his cattle, the hayriders tried to stay warm in the stiff breeze.

    And homeward we trundled, up the dirt road to warm our bones and regal the weenies - er, rest of the family - with tall tales of our Christmas hayride.

    Thanks, Cuz, for a truly memorable experience!

    The Gresham-Bartow-Ross-Nash-Frazier-Clotfelter-Buchanan-Brennan-Wall-Fisher-and soon-to-be Richeson Family Christmas*

    Forget the Griswold Family Christmas. Our family does a much better job at food and festivities without electrocuting a cat and destroying a Christmas tree, though we have come close to doing both over the years. I promised Cuz I'd post about the party yesterday when I got home, but I really needed time to let the events of the day sink in. OK, that, plus I went to another Christmas party last night and was too tired to post by the time I rolled home. At any rate, this'll be a 2-parter, since I want to do justice to the hayride, as well.

    A little background: This gathering is a tradition that's happened a week or so before Christmas for as long as I can remember. During those early years, most of the parties took place at the Ross mansion on Avon Avenue in Atlanta, though occasionally the crowd would pile into cars and travel up to the Frazier's estate in Chattanooga. Joking about the mansion (and the estate). The Avon house was tiny, and how we managed to pack in there year after year is beyond me. But we did.

    While the tradition of too many people and too much food (both glorious excesses. to be sure) is still being honored, there once was a time of too many presents, as well. Why, you could hardly get into the house for the masses of gift-wrapped surprises under the tree. The Nashes would travel down from Granite City, Illinois, toting bags and bags of wrapped boxes. Aunt Mildred would stick the bows on after she got to Atlanta or Chattanooga. The Fraziers would roll in from Chattanooga with a trunk-load of festive packages to add to the already-groaning tree-area, though Mother never bothered with boxes. She was famous for her "soft packages."

    The presents were always little things, or rather, inexpensive things. It was the thrill of seeing all those gifts under the tree and delighting not only in what you received, but what your brothers and sisters and cousins got, too.

    But over the years, we did away with the present-giving, much to the dismay of the Kate-generation. Family and food were enough to keep up with, without having to figure out what to buy umpteen relatives.

    So. Back to the here and now.

    Cuz - of "remember the moosehead in the attic?" dispute - hosted the annual gathering of the clan at his farm in Dahlonega, Georgia, site of the nation's first gold rush (honest!). The cozy cabin-style farmhouse was packed to the rafters with folks of various shapes and sizes ranging from 5 months to 78 years old. It took each of us an hour or two to get through all the hugs and "how're ya' doin's" once we arrived.

    It was cold and windy, as those of us who braved the hayride (see next post) can testify, but that only added to our Christmas spirit. The house was festively decorated. Cuz had even broken out Christmas photos of old and posted them on the kitchen cabinets. We saluted everyone who's joined us over the years, even some ex-spouses. Hey, they were once a part of this craziness, so why not?

    As mentioned in previous posts, our pot-luck food theme this year was Italian. Now, you must understand how this flew in the face of the time-honored Southern food tradition of our family get-togethers. More than once yesterday, I heard someone say "Mildred/Catherine/Helen/Marie is/are rolling in her/their grave(s) over this!" Whatever grave-spinning we caused, the Italian pot-luck went down a treat. Lasagna and ravioli fit for a king, er, Caesar. Big bro's osso bucco was outstanding. Fabulous salads and antipasto munchies, plus nephew Matt's homemade Parmesan-black pepper biscotti provided day-long nibbling. Yum. And yes, the two Veniero's Italian cheesecakes made it from New York fine and dandy. I added a few blueberries and no one complained. Linda's Italian cream cake and Lil Sis's back-by-popular-demand Christmas cookies sated our sweet tooths. Teeth. Whatever.

    In addition to the Italian theme, we also had a "new baby" theme. The family experienced a baby boom in 2007, as we welcomed Rowan, Elliott, and Sarah. They joined Tallulah, Cody, and Dylan (plus Bryleigh and Jaxson, who weren't at the party due to illness) to make up the new generation, as our sons and daughters start adding to the family tree. Yes, it's that season again - the re-birth season. It cycles through every 20 or so years - with the old folks (ahem!), young parents, babies. Then as the kids grow, the family gets to the no-baby stage until the once-babies grow up enough to start families of their own. It's all very reassuring!

    And speaking of generations, the clan gathered for the annual generational photo ops. Sort of a State of the Family moment. One husband kept complaining that we always do this and then never see the pictures again. Well, I beg to differ (I have one of last year's as the wallpaper on my laptop at work), but I've posted them here so that you can see what a fine group of folks we are.

    Though our mothers - all deceased - vowed and declared we'd never carry on this Christmas gathering tradition once they were gone, I believe they were with us in spirit yesterday(some of them may have been spinning spirits, however). How could they not rejoice that we were still gathering, and we do find family the most important thing, when all is said and done? Who knows us better than, well, us? And even though we went Italian instead of Southern, and though there are lots of new faces that they wouldn't recognize, I'll just bet the Bully Bartow Sisters are pleased as punch from their perches in Heaven.

    And the Christmas beat goes on.

    * Revised post: I added Cuz's food photo, though it shows just a teeny bit of what we chowed down on during the day. Wish I had that spinach dip in front of me right now!

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    Christmas time in the City

    Don't you love this little "Happy Holidays" sign on Fifth Avenue across from Saks and St. Patrick's Cathedral? Yeah. Happy Holidays, and oh, by the way, ain't no buses stopping here during the "holidays" so just move along.

    Another little storm blew through yesterday, but we didn't see much snow in Midtown. Imagine my surprise when I came up from the subway at 116th to find a couple of inches of snow and slush! What a difference 72 blocks uptown make! Another one's due tomorrow night. I should just miss it, as I fly out tomorrow afternoon.

    Remember Calvin? Today was his last day. He is now officially retired from the MTA, so I won't hear his "Good Mornings" as I pile out of the #6 Downtown train onto the platform at Grand Central Station. I gave him a fond farewell and a retirement card. I also sent a good word to the MTA folks about him a few weeks back. Maybe they'll give him a little bonus.

    At the risk of being really politically incorrect, I think the new "green" Christmas lights on the big tree at Rockefeller Plaza are lame. Little tiny specks of too-bright color. Not nearly as wonderfully soothing as the big ol' incandescent bulbs. And those awful little lights are taking the place of the soft golden/white bulbs all over the city. Now everything is bright blue/white. Yuck. Like those ugly headlights that cars have now. No wonder everyone has a headache. I'm a very environment-friendly gal, but I do draw the line at purdy lights. And the eco-friendly ones are just irritating. Kinda like the difference between old cel animation and new-fangled computery stuff.

    Tomorrow, I head out of NYC and back to the ATL for Christmas. So the next time you hear from me, I'll be in the middle "Christmas in Dixie." By now in New York City, there's snow on the ground . . . and in Atlanta, Georgia, there's peace on earth tonight.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    A little something for the "Southern" Italian family

    Took the day off today to do a little New York shopping, since I leave for Atlanta on Saturday. I'm coming in earlier than I had planned, but our gigantic, fun-filled, whoo-hoo! family Christmas gathering will be at Cuz's place in Dahlonega on Sunday, and I just didn't want to miss it.

    Cuz, who occasionally adds his 2-cents' worth to my posts, and his wife are hosting this riotous affair (and let's face it - a family gathering rarely comes off without a bit of rioting). They have added a little twist to the tradition-bound food-theme. This year, instead of our usual down-home Southern pot-luck meal, Wife o' Cuz suggested an Italian theme. Well, why the hell not? Other than the fact that I'm situated in the city with more fine Italian food than the whole of Italy, so why go to Dahlonega? - but what the heck.

    Anyway, after polling my resident Italian (hard-working office mate Lisa), I was told to get myself down to Veniero in the East Village and pick up an Italian cheesecake. Or two. I opted for two. I know my family.

    At the crack of 10:30 this morning, I walked through the venerable doors of Veniero and grabbed two of the ricotta-filled cheesecakes. I was tempted by the fig ring - sounded wonderful! - but at $12.00 a pound, and it's heavy - I stuck to the cheesecake option. So, the kind folks (well, actually they were kinda snooty) at Veniero boxed up my little cakes and tied them with string. They now coolly reside in my fridge, where they'll remain until I pack them on Saturday. Unless I feel the need to "test" one of them. No, no, I won't - I promise.

    I will have to pack them in my checked luggage, since squishy stuff's not allowed through carry-on security, as a friend trying to bring in pumpkin pie filling found out at Thanksgiving. Dear Family, I will do my best to pack the cheesecakes carefully and pray that the luggage carriers slinging my bags around won't turn them into mush. If they do, you're eatin' 'em anyway. I'm sure they'll be yummy, whatever the consistency.

    After Veniero, I did a little street shopping in the East Village and at Union Square, where there's a big Christmas market set up. Just trinkets. I'm po', ya' know. Ooh. And had lunch at dear old S'mac - 4-cheese mac and cheese with ground beef and a layer of pepper flakes. Ummmm-umm!

    I'll let you know how the cheesecakes fared on their trip South. It will be some kind of fabulous Italian hoe-down come Sunday. Yee-haw and Mamma Mia!

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    The handwriting's on the fridge

    Last night I was talking on the phone with a friend and mindlessly looking at the odds and ends stuck to my refrigerator with a melange of magnets. What caught my eye was a note daughter Kate had written to me. I was struck by how different her handwriting is from my own (or her father's, for that matter).

    I guess it shouldn't surprise me that we have vastly different handwriting styles. I don't write like Mother or Daddy or my brothers or sister, though when I print hurriedly I see elements of Daddy's chicken scratching there. But it does make me wonder why people have such unique "hands." Even in a classroom full of kids being taught how to write letters properly, you don't get 30 children who write just like the teacher or writing booklet.

    Does the uniqueness come from our infinite varieties of physical make-up - the bones, the muscles, the eye-hand coordination? How much of it comes from copying a particular style or flourish from a friend or parent? At what age do we make it our own?

    Does it matter whether we're right- or left-handed? I don't think so. Even though Kate has a touch of my brother David's style (both left-handed), my left-handed 6th grade teacher writes just like the cursive writing books we had in elementary school.

    I don't have the answers, but the whole thing fascinates me a wee bit. Just a little thing that makes me go "Hmmm."

    Do you write like anyone you know?

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Gather 'round, kiddies, for a little Christmas tale

    What's your favorite Christmas story? I mean besides Luke 2's Nativity (which is unbeatable, of course), and "Twas the night before Christmas"?

    It's a toss up for me. I do love Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," and not just the 5200 film/television versions. It's a story of hope and restoration, plus, it's a ghost story. Oh, yeah. Good stuff.

    But O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" is pretty hard to beat. "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And sixty cents of it was in pennies." Never fails to bring a tear to me eye.

    Given the choice of having only one of the two with me on a desert island, I think I'd have to take "Magi," only because Dickens' language doesn't suck me in as much as the story itself. O Henry, on the other hand, has such down-to-earth writing, that I would want his voice, his actual words with me.

    Oh, dear. But I also love Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales." And I do love his words. Such a dilemma!

    What about you? Are you a "Grinch" person? "Polar Express"? Something by Washington Irving? Persuade me.

    Sunday, December 09, 2007

    Christmas Posts Redux

    You know I love to wax interminably about holiday films and music, so to help us all move forward (and to keep from repeating myself), I'll list my Christmas themed blogs o' the past here.

    Starting at the top: The Best Christmas Cartoon - I'm always on the lookout for "Peace on Earth" in the TV schedule this time of year. Imagine my glorious surprise when I found it as an extra feature at the end of my DVD of A Christmas Carol (1938)!

    Ho-ho-ho-larious holiday songs - Art Carney's jazzed-up version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" is still No. 1 with me.

    Christmas Movies Part I - The Life Lessons - But without A Christmas Carol, because Scrooge has to have a list all his own.

    Christmas Movies Part II - Marley was dead to begin with - People do have their opinions about old Scrooge.

    Christmas Movies Part III - The Pre-1960 Classics - What's not to love here, eh? Even Shirley.

    Words and Music - Bits and bobs of my favorite Christmas carols.

    Christmas Movies, Finale: The New-Fangled, Post-1960 Ones - OK, now you get to say "Fuuuuuuuuudge!"

    The day before the day before - A tribute to December 23 and my daddy.

    O, the wonders of a flashlight and a bit of orange cellophane - "Bring a torch, Jeanette Isabella" to the annual Barger Elementary School Christmas program.

    OK. Now we can all move on with our lives. And anyway, I feel the urge to watch Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Cheers!

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    Hey! Don't bushel-ize my light!

    "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick . . . Let your light so shine." (Matthew 5:14-15, by the way.)

    We were in a meeting yesterday, when someone said he once heard a kid at a youth conference tell one of the adults, "Hey! Don't bushel-ize my light!" Now, maybe only church-going, Bible readers understand what he was saying (see above bit o' scripture), but you're a smart group so I think you get it. And I hereby officially take it as my new favorite phrase.

    Don't we all have folks around us who want to dampen our spirits? Blow out our candles? Cover up the particular way we "shine" in the world? In short, "bushel-ize" our light? Oh, yeah.

    And let's face it. We all do a damn good job of bushelizing our own light. C'mon. You know it's true.

    So in this season of Advent, whether you're a believer or not, stand firm against the light bushelizers, most especially your own inner bushelizer. Let your light so shine!

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Show me your Christmas cup o' cheer

    Well, Liz started it. Showcasing her line-up of Christmas mugs made me want to turn the spotlight on me own cup of good cheer. So here it is. Both sides. And the candy cane stripes swirl all the way to the bottom. As the cup sez: Yum!

    Actually, I have lots of lovely Christmas mugs packed away, but this is the only one in use at present. Do you have a favorite cup for your steamy hot chocolate or cider? Hm?

    One addition: Big Bro's favorite. I gave it to him last year for Christmas - bought in Chinatown, NYC. Lovely, with the Christmas tree behind it, eh?

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    On this December day . . .

    Well. I have lots to say, but I'm just too busy to write engagingly about my Christmas ornaments or Tin Man or having to reapply for my job. So, here it is in antiseptic chunks:

    1. My computer monitor at home is on its last leg. Er, pedestal. It's been taking longer and longer to wake up. Took it 2 days when I got back from Thanksgiving, so I just left the computer on and threw a towel over the monitor to subdue its brightness at bedtime. I foolishly turned the computer off on Saturday, and the dang think hasn't come back up yet. I've tried all my little tricks. Sigh. Alas, no spare change right now for even a cheapo monitor, so all my emailing and blog-posting must be done from work. It's really cramping my style! Aaargh!

    2. Sunday, I pulled out the boxes of Christmas ornaments I moved from Atlanta to NYC. Looking at everything, I just had to have a good cry. When I put them away two years ago, I had no idea that I'd be leaving Atlanta and moving to Oz. When I moved the furniture up here last February, I brought a lot of the ornaments with me, even though I knew a big tree was not in the forecast for my tiny apartment. The thought of leaving them in storage was just too heartbreaking for me. I'm bringing the most special ornaments to Kate in Atlanta when I come back in a week or so. Still, I'm sad that I no longer have a mantle for the angels and Nutcracker keepsakes. Joy and I are in much the same place with our dear ornaments this year.

    3. Anybody else watching Tin Man on SciFi Channel? I'm a sucker for anything with Zooey Deschanel and Alan Cumming. And Wizard of Oz-zy. Well, I'm hooked. Tonight's the last part of the miniseries, I think. Love Glitch's head-zipper. I wish my head had a zipper. Or, maybe not.

    4. The reorganization of the Episcopal Church Center has me reapplying for a job very like my current position (more responsibilities, etc.), plus applying for a completely different job. We're allowed to throw our hats in the ring for up to three of the new positions. I'm not really worried (maybe I should be??), but it has caused a lot of verklempt-ness around this neck of the woods for the past few months. I realize, however, that my corporate experience has prepared me for reorganization situations far better than the non-profit/church experience has prepared others. Anyhow, I've duly applied for the two jobs and won't know the outcome until January 18. Lesson: Spend some time in the cruel, heartless business world before coming to the cruel, heartless church world!

    That's it for now. Go have some milk and cookies. And pray that my computer monitor is working when I get home.

    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    Snow Day!

    A little Central Park snow beauty to share on this, the second day of December. Start jingling 'dem bells!

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    A week's work well done

    Man, who'd have believed that someone still riding a turkey-and-martini high could spend the week slaying dragons? Not only slaying dragons, but writing, marketing, budgeting, and printing all the news that's fit to print about all those dragons slayed? Slew?

    I dragged myself to work on Monday knowing I faced some huge deadlines, many of which required some kind of creative spirit on my part. I honestly didn't know if I could pull it off, but, boy, something spurred me on (um, a paycheck?), and I was little Miss Writer Chick-Design Approver-Order Placer- Smooth Operator all week.

    And in between the projects foreseen, other demands kept cropping up - writing an obituary for a dear missionary who died on Tuesday, cajoling a dynamic, inspiring woman to speak at a conference next summer, re-writing a section of copy that - although ready for the printer - additional information came my way.

    Add to that mix budget tensions as we approach the year-end closing, a couple of lunch appointments that proved quite beneficial for the old resume, and updating two websites at work - and, well, I think I earned my pay-packet this week.

    Oh, and I was just sweet as pie. Didn't jump down anyone's throat or get into a pissing match with someone hell-bent on derailing my kick-butt-train. No. Just sweet as pie. Honest.

    Maybe a turkey-and-martini diet works for me, eh?

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007


    Every which way. I'm still trying to come down from my Thanksgiving turkey-high, as well as deal with a schedule and work-load overstuffed with meetings and must-be-dones.

    Quick recap:

    Thanksgiving was wonderful. Ate too much. Yum! Lots of family and good friends helped us tuck in to the gigantic meal. A full-filling time was had by all, I believe.

    Engagement party was swell. I've posted pics at The MoBster Diaries, if you're interested.

    Saw Fred Claus with buddy Joanna. It was OK. I'm still trying to decide if the "Siblings Anonymous" bit with Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton, and Steve Baldwin was brilliant or pathetic. I'm leaning toward "great concept/poor execution."

    Put the first hunk of change down on Kate's wedding dress, and she made her alteration decisions. It'll take me a couple of months to scrounge the rest of the deposit dough so that the construction can begin. (And I do mean "construction.") Fortunately, Anne Barge is letting me dole out a bit every month, rather than write one whopping check (which wouldn't be any good, I can tell you).

    Got back to New York Saturday afternoon, which gave me a little down-time before revving back up again Monday. Since then, however, I've been quite a little workin' machine. I've churned out brochure copy, press releases, web copy (er, except for this here blog), and approved artwork for several big projects. And the meetings. Well. They never end, do they?

    So. Here I am. I apologize for being such a blog-slacker. And I have been lurking around your blogs but haven't commented. I'll get back to that later. So that's it for now from overstuffed Shorty. Once the tryptophan is completely out of my system, I'll get back to pithy blogging.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    Turkey Day Countdown

    The house is clean and "fluffed."

    Tablecloths and napkins are pressed.

    We've decorated inside and out.

    Placecards are ready and waiting.

    China plates are squeaky clean. (Yes, they made it down from New York with 'nary a chip.)

    The turkey is prepped and chilling safely in the fridge until I'm ready to bung it into the oven tomorrow morning.

    The cornbread dressing is as complete as it can be until the turkey drippings can be poured on.

    A casserole or two await final warm-up.

    Family and friends have checked in to confirm what they're bringing to to the meal.

    So, I'm going to call it a day. (How about Thanksgiving Eve?) Enjoy the 3 F's tomorrow: Family, Friends, and Feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    A different view

    Got to Atlanta Friday evening and have either a) been running around like crazy, or b) finding my inner couch potato-ness.

    The first thing that struck me Saturday morning was the crazy, wild, brilliant colors of the trees here. It's the most spectacular autumn display that I've seen in years. New York wasn't nearly this colorful (tree-wise, I mean) when I left. Wowser!

    Between Thanksgiving preparations and Engagement Party plans, our dance card has been pretty full. We did get to church on Sunday (yea!), and I somehow found time to take a young friend to see the movie Fred Claus, but beyond that, it's been All Turkey Day-Engagement Hoopla/All The Time.

    Here's what I like about being back in Atlanta:
    • Family and friends (of course)
    • Big-ass supermarkets - oh, to have a grand Publix or Kroger in Manhattan!
    • Cheap movie theaters
    • All Saints' Church
    • Front yards. Back yards.
    • Southern stuff - like, um, food and accents

    Here's what I don't like:

    • Traffic (because I have to drive in it; I can't walk around it or catch the nearest subway to avoid it)
    • No water (well, there is water, it's just you really are mindful of conserving it since there's a shortage)
    • No Chrysler Building. No Grand Central Station. No Central Park. (And ordinarily I'd put "no Broadway," but since the stage-hands are on strike . . . )

    But being home/ATL gives me a different view on life. And it's good to be here.

    Friday, November 16, 2007


    I was in the check-out line of my neighborhood grocery/bodega last evening, when "Build Me Up, Buttercup" started up over the store's Muzak (or whatever) system. This store, smack in the heart of Spanish Harlem, plays a mix of Latin and Old Top 40 stuff, even though nothing but Spanish (language) is swirling around me.

    Now, "Build Me Up, Buttercup" came out in winter of my senior year in high school. Music does tend to tug at things long-buried. So, I have all the "then" memories whenever I hear the song: school talent shows, the big senior therm paper, Senior Prom, club retreats, Awards Day, planning for college, etc. But last night I heard the song in the "now." "Now" means a shopping in a largely Spanish-speaking area of New York City, living in a small, but cozy apartment, working in Midtown Manhattan, the subway, and Central Park. A million light years away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, City High School, and Clairol Hot Rollers.

    This happens to me all the time. I'll hear an old song, remembering where and what I was when it became embedded in my heart and soul, then look around at the very different place and time of my life today. I just smile and shake my head. Never in my wildest dream would I have imagined it.

    Does this happen to you? You hear a song that brings back memories, then look around at where your standing today? A very interesting juxtaposition, me thinks.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    It's official: I'm a card-carrying New Yorker

    Forget a Macy's card or Sak's, Lord & Taylor, or Tiffany's, for that matter. Anybody anywhere can be card-carrying members of those shopping emporia. No, what separates the Big Apple-Eaters from the New Kids in Town is a Duane Reade card. I'm serious.

    Who's Duane Reade, you might ask? Well, as much as I like to imbue the ubiquitous Manhattan drugstore-cum-variety store with the persona of a guy named "Duane," it's actually named after the location of its first store - the corner of Duane and Reade streets in lower Manhattan. (Now you know.)

    Duane Reade is everywhere. CVS? Rite Aid? Mom-and-Pop pharmacies? Practically invisible in Manhattan. But ol' Duane is on every street corner - sometimes there are two or three on a block. New Yorkers must have their Duane! I'm serious. I accuse my work-buddy Lisa of having a torrid affair with Duane, as she must see him everyday. Sometimes twice a day. "Give my love to Duane," I shout as she heads for her fix of DR.

    It took me a long time to find time to fill out the form and get my official card discount card. Seems like I was always in a hurry, or there were too many folks behind me in the line. But a couple of days ago, well, the time was right, and I gave the big DR my name and email address and received a shiny new card, plus the miniature key-chain version.

    So now I'm official. Duane Reade card. Check. Food Emporium card. Check. Voter registration card. Check. I must be serious about this New York City thing!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Thanksgiving Movies Redux

    Two years ago I posted a couple of ramblings about Thanksgiving movies. The point was that unlike Halloween and Christmas, there aren't many Turkey Day-themed films. My list contained movies like The Ice Storm and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles that take place around the holiday, but there is a definite dearth of Pilgrim movies (one Spencer Tracy flick, if you're interested).

    We have to face it. This hearty group of folks who ventured across an ocean in a rickety little boat just ain't that sexy. At least, no one has found the sex and humor in the Pilgrims landing in Massachusetts and throwing a big party with the Indians after a couple of rough winters. Sounds pretty rich for intrigue (and humor) to me.

    If you want to check out my Thanksgiving movie lists, here they be:
    Add to these the popular British Thanksgiving film (as suggested by PT): Thursday We All Went To Work As Usual. Har!

    Any Thanksgiving movies I'm missing?

    I'm still looking for the breakout Pilgrim/Indian/Turkey/Maize film. I appreciate that there is a writers' strike going on here, but surely someone can start working on the definitive Thanksgiving Pilgrim movie, eh? Maybe it will have to be me.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    We gather together . . .

    . . . all the stuff I'm bringing to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. I leave Friday afternoon, so it's time to start sorting what goes and what stays. I know that sounds as if I'm moving back (I'm not), but after moving all of my holiday decorations and the good china north with me, I have found that I need to haul some stuff back south.

    Kate is hosting the family Thanksgiving this year - if my count is right, it'll number around 16 people - so it's only right and proper for her to have some of the Thanksgiving decorations that graced our house for all those Thanksgivings of yore. (I know you're thinking "Thanksgiving decorations????")

    And the china. Well, that's a problem. I moved everything to New York because the thought of leaving Mother's china and my china in storage bothered me. The funny (ha-ha) thing is that I don't even have space for a kitchen table in my tiny apartment, but I have two full sets of china stashed away! At least I know it's safe.

    There's no way I can afford to ship it all back at this point, but my plan is to carefully swaddle the plates only (8 of Mother's, 8 of mine) in the linen table clothes and napkins, plus bubble wrap, and pack them in my carry-on. Do you think china plates will freak out the security people at the airport? I'll get back to ya' on that.

    I know you're thinking, Sheesh! Just eat on paper plates!, and we could do that, of course, but Thanksgiving's so much nicer on the good china, especially since it has graced our table for so many years. Plus, it's a good way to get the family heirlooms back down to Kate. Alas, I only have room for 16 plates, so I'm foregoing all the cups and saucers, bread plates, salad and soup bowls, and wonderful serving pieces. I do need to find a way to bring one of the platters, though - for the turkey, doncha' know.

    Bit by bit during the week, I'll pack what's needed for my Thanksgiving trip. With so many valuable items heading south, last-minute packing is out of the question.

    So, I will gather together to ask the Lord's blessing as I prepare for the feast of the season.