Monday, January 30, 2012

Taking My Own Advice

I had a hard time getting going this morning... and a client called very early, before I had taken a shower, and when we hung up, I sat on the edge of my bed staring into space like a lump. Eventually I realized why I didn't want to pop up and start moving. I had a difficult and sensitive response to write to a work email that had arrived yesterday which I postponed til today. So my subconscious knew that if I got up, took a shower, got dressed, started work, I'd have to face that email.

That's when I reflected on advice a friend had shared decades ago:

You can't feel good about yourself lying in bed and not getting up.

I wasn't lying in bed; I was sitting on it, but the result was the same. So I got up and took a shower and while I was showering, I took advantage of another piece of advice:

Make a plan.

Decades ago, I had read a true story about a man who survived really horrid times during WW II and he would always come up with some plan which would help him survive. I know that answering an email and the horrors of war aren't the same, but the idea of a plan still worked. So I decided I'd do the email first to get it out of the way, even before I read other email and then picked the second and third items I'd do.

So I'm sort of chugging along, but listlessly. Over the weekend I had not accomplished all that I wanted, including paying my mortgage and health insurance. The mortgage doesn't matter since I actually have until the 17th of the month, but the health insurance is due on the 1st and I don't want to mess with that. I know what I'm about to say doesn't make sense, but there's some twisted part of my brain that says if I don't write the check, I sitll have the money. I also had a Netflix to return -- a film I didn't enjoy, stopped watching after 20 minutes or so but also resisted returning that since somehow if I didn't return it, then I would magically discover that I was wrong and really did want to try it again.

So as I'm doing "bad girl" over all of this, a third piece of advice came to mind which was given to me by a person in a 12-step program. He said:

If you want to feel better, do something esteemable.

So I wrote the mortage and health insurance checks and got them mailed, along with the Netflix. I could no longer say, "You didn't accomplish anything today."

Right now, I'm glad Monday is over. Gratitude typically works for me too, so I can say I'm grateful today that my entire apartment smells good. No live mammals (other than me) and no dead mammal smells anywhere.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just Doesn't Hold Up

Today I was being a semi-slug and in the hope of finding something mindless and entertaining on TV, I made it way past the normnal stations up to the weird stations including a relatively new one called Antenna which seems to be like TV Land in running old programming, old sitcoms, etc. Don't think I've ever actually watched anything on this channel.

So what I came upon was the Monkees... of course, women of a certain age will remember these guys:

I loved this show. In fact, I still remember it was on Tuesdays at 7:30. Really was a huge fan and just couldn't wait for Tuesday to roll around so I could see another episode. I don't think I've seen it, except in maybe short clips since the 1960s, so I was a bit excited to see it today.

Wow. Does this show ever not hold up! How can I Love Lucy still be funny after 50 years? (I was watching a few minutes of that too when she was about to go to the hospital to give birth to Little Ricky.) I am sad to say I found the Monkees silly, not in a good way, and it embarrassed me to see the little one -- Davy Jones crooning with his eyes closed when I used to think he was just about the coolest thing around. Maybe we can't go home again, at least not to some old TV shows.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why Baby Ruth?

I had read, and come to believe, that Baby Ruth candybar was named after Grover Cleveland's daughter. As I work my way through this Grover Cleveland book, I read in it today that this may not be so. By the way, when they got married, Grover was 49 and his wife was 21. She remains the youngest First Lady. I had also read implications that his wife was his "ward" -- to make it sound like a sort of creepy Woody Allen-type deal. This book says that his wife was the daughter of a friend, and when the man was dying, he asked Grover to look after his daughter, a mission he took seriously evidently.

Anyway, they did have a daughter named Ruth, but she died years before this candy bar was introduced. What is more likely, according to the author, is that the candy was named for Babe Ruth, popular at the time the candy was launched, and by claiming it was named after the Clevelands' daughter, Nestle was able to cash in on Babe Ruth without paying royalties for the use of Babe Ruth's name. The official Nestle explanation is that the naming is clouded in mystery. Sure it is.

Friday, January 27, 2012

God Bless Ray

This story has a happy ending.

Over the weekend, I started to smell that dead mouse smell, but not strong enough to make me believe I really had a dead one. I would smell it and it would go away and I'd think I was imagining it. So, fast forward to yesterday and it becomes clear that YES you do have a dead mouse, in my office/utility room, but I couldn't for the life of me locate it.

Of course I was looking gingerly, with the definite EEK factor on standby. Yesterday I could no longer stand the smell. I was hoping this morning that it would have decreased, but it was worse so I placed a call to Ray the Handyman who told me he'd come straight after work.

Which he did.

He was determined to find this mouse and was solidly looking for 45 minutes. I stayed away, but I heard him moving furniture, moving the washer and dryer, removing the radiator cover, moving things, and no luck. At one point he thought it might have died under the floor. About every ten minutes, he'd leave the room, go outside to clear his nose -- not that it smelled that bad, but he'd lose his sense of smell and get used to the smell.

I told him he should give up whenever he felt like it, but he was clearly determined.

Then, Eureka, I hear him calling to me, "There it is" at which point I squirmed and cowered. I had a small area rug rolled up on the floor of the closet and it was inside the rug. He wanted my permission to throw away the entire rug and I was like Yes, yes, yes, yes. He laughed at me for being so agreeable but if he told me I should burn the clothes I was wearing I'd have happily pitched them into a fire. Anything.

So he took the entire rug -- he later told me it was a "big one" -- not a rat, thank God, but a full-size mouse and as he was putting the rug in the garbarge bag he's hollering "Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ" and all I could think of is better you than me. But I guess the smell was horrendous, once fully uncovered.

He opened the window in there; I opened the garden door -- luckily it is so mild tonight -- and then he said he was going to go to the store and buy Lysol spray. I told him he didn't have to do that, that  opening the window was enough. I didn't want him to go to that trouble. Finally he said, "What? You don't like Lysol?" and I said that I didn't want him to have to go out to the store, but he said he "had to" do it.

He comes back a few minutes later, holds up the can and says, "Is 'mountain waterfall' OK with you?" Who would say NO to that? I didn't give a damn if it were Mountain Waterfall, Spring Meadow or Summer Morning -- who cares? So he sprayed and then swept (I don't know what he was sweeping) and that was it. He didn't want to take money, but believe me, I wanted to pay him.

When he left, I went in the room. Ahhhhh.... mountain waterfall... the air was so light and fresh and I felt like doing the happy dance. Ray kept saying to me how happy he was to have found the mouse, how he couldn't have left without finding it, and I kept saying he couldn't be happier than I am so we were two happy people.

My only small complaint is that he left the toilet seat up, but I was willing to overlook that for his good work.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Scattered Thoughts for Thursday

How heartless email overload makes me: Skimming through emails that had accumulated after a two-hour absence, I deleted this one first: Sick and dying children need medicine to survive

Every so often I read something hokey that I like... such as this from today: People will hate you, rate you, shake you and break you. How strong you stand is what makes you.

I think I'll make this a T-shirt. I had pressed a 'submit' button on a website today with no response, and so I pressed it again and got this message: We are experiencing slowness. Please be patient. Who else wants to wear that as a sign around our necks?

Had an early morning dream that has stayed with me all day. Arriving by bus for a business event. Thought the bus driver had my shoes. He didn't. Ergo, I am barefoot. Typical anxiety dream of puzzled self-chastisement: why did you think the driver had your shoes? why did you depend on that? why didn't you wear shoes? Now you're barefoot and will look ridiculous. You can't go barefoot to a business event. The driver has a pile of beat up athletic shoes. Totally inappropriate. Then I see a pair of nice women's shoes but I am afraid they won't fit. But they do. But now the problem is I don't know how to adjust all the many straps and buckles. I'm walking around this outdoor picnic event, including a trip to the buffet table, but my shoes are undone. No one notices. Calling Dr. Freud.

And finally, some good news: Jody got released from the hospital to a nearby hotel. Looking at this photo, as an ex-smoker (not a non-smoker, a distinction Barbara has pointed out to me), I wonder why can't you smoke in the Interfaith Garden of Prayer. If your life takes you to a hospital's Interfaith Garden of Prayer, let a sister have a smoke.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Scattered Thoughts for Wednesday

These are the things on my mind tonight:

I had another coincidence today. There's a commercial for something -- "it's nutritious and delicious too" goes the jingle and then "who knew?" Just as I was reading the words, "Who knew?" the commercial had those words. I admit I may be unique in thinking this is fascinating....

If you get a chance, try to see Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz give her farewell speech to Rep Gabby Giffords today as Rep Giffords resigned. I was bawling like a baby. This took place on the floor of the House where Rep Giffords was turning in her resignation to a very stiff Rep Boehner who stood there like a bump on a log, clearly uncomfortable by the emotion and having to interact with her. I had previously noted that the two women seemed to be real friends and that came through today. It was really the very best of women's friendship being shown. Also, there was something so touching about seeing a woman as strong as Debbie Wasserman Schultz break down. Very very emotional.

Grammar snob:  Yes, I admit it. Second only to people who say "between you and I" which makes me cringe is people who don't understand the use of reflexive pronouns (myself, herself, etc.) Typically bad grammar doesn't bother me. I think in this case, the speaker is trying to talk in a fancy way. When someone authentically says, "It don't make a difference" -- that really doesn't bother me since that's the way the person talks normally. 

Right this second, I have the tiniest piece of meat caught in a back tooth, and it reminded me of a time Melissa and I were having dinner in Oshkosh --actually we were in Appleton for dinner -- and the same thing happened. I tried as discretely as I could to evict it with my tongue, but it wouldn't move. It was driving me nuts. Finally I confessed to Melissa that I needed to get up to go to the restroom and why. She instantly produced a plastic toothpick, I used that in one second and it was effective. When I finish writing this, I'll go crank up the Water Pik for relief.

Finally, here's Jody, posted with her permission. Today was a banner day in that she got to take a shower and wash her hair for the first time since last Friday. She also got to walk outside for a few minutes to breathe non-hospital air. And one last thing, as displayed in this picture, is that she got to sleep on her side, also the first time since the operation, instead of only on her back, which is something she was missing. It's incredible how much the swellling has gone down.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I know I've spoken of this before, but it happened again today. That is the circumstance where the exact same words are spoken on the TV/radio at the same time I'm typing those words or reading them on the computer. And this is not common words.

So today, I'm proofreading something about a pilot and just as I read "color blind," someone on TV said "color blind" -- at the exact same moment -- it was as if I were reading those words aloud on my computer -- and I glanced up at the TV and there was a book being shown called Color Blind.

Maybe this is just totally random, but it happens to me about 2 or 3 times a week. If it's not random, is there some message? If so, I haven't even come close to figuring out.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I know how this guy feels....

Ahh, I have found someone crabbier than I am. I feel his pain.

Here are my mini-complaints for Sunday:

I was awakened this morning by a phone call which turned out to be "Eastern Research" wanting me to participate in a survey. Click. Back to sleep.

I subscribe to Money magazine, with a subscription purchased by leftover Continental Airlines flyer miles which I don't fly any more, but don't have enough to do anything with, other than buy magazine subscriptions. So I got a notice to renew from Money and couldn't quite decide if I wanted it or not... so I decided to see what the offer is -- I wanted the magazine $15 worth, but probably not $25 worth. On the renewal notice, I see that my subscription expires in July 2013. Really? I need to resubscribe now? Decision tabled. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What I'm Reading

I had heard about this incident, on which the book is based, but never knew much about it. This book is about a secret surgery that Grover Cleveland had on a tumor in his mouth. It was done on board a ship in Long Island Sound and the president literally disappeared for five days and no one knew where he was. I've just read the first chapter -- background, a whole thing about the gold standard vs the silver standard, which I understand a little better now, but not much. I learned that the White House was called the Executive Residence up until Theodore Roosevelt started calling it the White House. I also learned, although I think I knew this, that Grover Cleveland is the only president to have served two non-consecutive terms.

So Chapter One ends with the doctor confirming that the tumor in his mouth, which he had ignored for a long time, is malignant.

Pat's Snowy NYC

Took this around 3pm when it was still snowing a bit. Our accumulation looks about the same as DC. The snow shouldn't last too long, although it is in the 20s now.

This is my artistic photo to match Mary's deck patterns below. This is looking straight up outside my garden door at the fire escapes. For years the people upstairs had a plunger on the fire escape that I got sick of looking at so at least now it's just plants and pots.

This is the ivy which Ray the handyman thinks will survive the winter. So far, it has, but we'll see after this snow.

BONUS PHOTO!! I had this in my camera from this past week when I went out one day. I believe my motivation to take this was "iconic new york images" -- remember the pigeons eating the bagel under the cab? Anyway, we call these "dirty water hot dogs" because the hot dogs are simmering in beige-y, oil slick-y water. When you buy one, the guy sticks this two-pronged fork into the dirty water and stabs one for you.  I don't think I've eaten a dirty water hot dog in more than five years, but I have to say they're good, even if you do wonder where the guy washes his hands.  Or rather, you try not to think about whether the guy washes his hands.

Fran's Snowy DC

Saturday. Looking north on Connecticut Ave. Taken from my 9th floor aerie. The reflections you see in window are of white vertical blinds.
As you can see, there was little snow accumulation on the roadbed and many sidewalks were cleared, at least in the vicinity of my apartment building. Please keep in mind this avenue is well-traveled pedestrian and car route, so it clears quickly. The side streets are another matter
Even on the road most traveled, I encountered several icy patches on walk to CVS, so one has to be careful out there.

Mary's Snowy DC

here's the back corner of the yard - you can see the pretty red berries in Jill's yard. I think it's pyracantha but I could be wrong.

here's a close look at the deck railing in back of my house - I just like the pattern. There isn't much snow, and I drove safely to a board meeting at 9:30 down by the National's Stadium. The dangerous part, as usual, was getting out of my car and walking a half a block to the office building - the sidewalks and the small side street were covered in ice. For clearing, it's not bad - I guess it's melting on the bottom by the pavement, so you can crack the ice and easily pick up chunks and slide them out of the way. Walking, however, required mindfulness - I sought out patches of crunchy grass and tried to always have something to grab. When I left the meeting around 11:00, the street and sidewalk were fine. We're expecting some rain this afternoon but I think that's about it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jody Comes Through

Jody's 8-1/2 hour surgery just ended and all went well. Her husband told me he was amazed that the surgeon looked "fresh as a daisy." Anyway, he can see her in about an hour. This morning, they sent me a photo that Jody said would make me laugh... and I thought that wasn't possible in this circumstance, but it's her doing this little dance in her hospital gown and it did make me laugh, but I thought better of posting it here for her own dignity! I remember that "the Internet is forever."

But here's a nicer one of her this morning pre-surgery with her little angel with her:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scattered Thursday Thoughts

Even after years and years, I still get a thrill the moment my cleaning woman leaves or I come back to my clean apartment. Love the smell. Love the shine. Love the order. Love the peacefulness of a tidy home.

Despite giving away dozens of them, boxes of them, continually recyling them to friends, I still have too many books. One of my goals this year is to not buy any new books, and so far, at least for the first 19 days, I haven't. I have many I have not read, and when I look at the shelves I have forgotten about some of them and I think, "Oh that's an interesting topic for a book." So this will be the year of reading, not buying.

What's up with ice cubes when there is this little, pointy tower of ice that comes up off the base of the cube? How does that happen and why?

Tomorrow Jody has her major operation to replace her human jaw joints with titanium jaw joints. She had to go from Denver (where she lives) to Dallas. She and her husband met with the surgeon today, and the blankety-blank insurance company got in a last minute zinger in that they listed her coverage for this operation as "pending" despite their hard-won, months-long expensive battle to have insurance cover it. So they had a last-minute fight with phones and faxes flying and got it resolved. So she goes from the operation to ICU to regular hospital to a hotel near the hospital for two weeks. Please send healing light her way. They have to be at the hospital at 5:30 am with the operation at 7 am. She emailed me, "See you on the other side." It can only get better day by day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Salad Insight

This is not an earth-shattering insight, but for a long time I have been buying bagged salad, thinking that the ease of prep would make me more likely to have a salad with dinner. Lately my grocery store bagged salad has been bad -- flat and brown edged even before the expiration date. So what happens is I buy a bag and get maybe one good salad out of it; the second time less so and the third time I skip it, stick it back in the fridge, only to throw it away a few days later. I have thrown away dozens of bags with one last salad left in them.

On Sunday, I skipped the bag salad and bought the fixings -- and had the best big crispy crunchy fresh salad tonight that I really enjoyed. Before I sound too healthy, I did put crumpled blue cheese on top! I don't think I'll be going back to the bags any time soo.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Not Getting Older, Getting Better

I'm working with a group of volunteer writers for a project for work. Laughed at the opening paragraph of a piece I just received. This is a woman who started out in Air Force ROTC in 1973 and worked her way up to now she is an international 767 captain for (as they say) a major airline.

Right now I can't recall my specific incident, but something similar happened to me recently and it occurred to me the young girl thought I was some doddering old fool who didn't understand technology. Maybe you can relate to what this woman wrote:

I am at the age now that when the credit card machine at the grocery store misreads my credit card, the young cashier looks at me and says with a huff as though she is speaking to an old woman, “Swipe the card again quickly and press the green button.”  I am just not fast enough for her.  Oh my dear, if you only knew what I have been through.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Not that it Matters, but...

The other night when I was writing about Barbara's and my dinner and cognates, I couldn't remember how that conversational bit arose. A conversation today prompted the memory of how.

We started talking about different pronunciations of English words. I said that Canadians (who I often heard when I followed NHL hockey) would say organ-eye-zation... like "this is a great hockey organ-eye-zation." We talked about a few British pronunciations and I said that the Brits' pronunciation of "schedule" as "shedule" annoys me. Barbara said, "Well, it is SH" and I said, "No, its SCH... you say SKool, not Shool."

So Barbara said, "Oh, are school and shul cognates?"

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Always Something

Rosanne Rosannadanna was right.

Yesterday was a bad day. Bad for work. Bad for finances. Bad for friends having problems. Bad for dental situations. Bad for weather. Bad for all around stress. Bad for just about everything.

Today I awoke trying to be positive. I had heard on TV how windy it is, and this morning I heard an odd noise coming from my living room as if something had fallen and knocked something over. Of course my first fear is that there's a giant rat that somehow got in. I didn't explore immediately, but I was feeling that it was getting colder inside my apartment. I wrote that off to the temperature dropping outside. When I did get up, I felt a breeze, looked at the garden door which was securely closed. Sometimes if I don't lock it, the wind can blow it open. I didn't see anything amiss until I looked at this small window -- a window I don't know if I ever opened -- and the entire window had fallen forward -- not the pane of glass, but the whole fricking window.

As I said, this is a window I don't ever touch in that it opens to a space between the buildings where it's an alleyway that I don't think there is any access to. So I was able to put the window back in place, but it's not in there correctly, enough though to cut off the blast of cold air. I called my handyman who didn't answer so I just left it as is for now.

Yesterday as I was thinking about everything that was wrong or could go wrong next, it did not occur to me that the next bad thing would be a window falling out, which leads me to remember Rosanne and say, "It just goes to show: It's always something."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Language Lessons

Had dinner tonight with Barbara who I must brag about as she has her PhD in linguistics. Over dinner, she casually asked me if two words were cognates?


I had the horrid feeling of when the fifth grade teacher asks you a question and you didn't do the reading. I confessed to not knowing what a cognate is -- and was told it's two words whose root comes from the same mother language.  The English word cold  is a cognate of German kalt. (Ok, so I cut and pasted that last sentence from

We both had the same entree -- it was a wonderful "pasta trio" -- oh wait, trio and tre are cognates -- so this was parpardelle with mushrooms, rigatoni with something and fettucine with hot sausage. Then it came with some broccoli rabe cooked in chicken broth. We both cleaned our plates.

Barbara had a second glass of wine, and I had panna cotta -- lemon -- for dessert. I don't know what I thought panna cotta was -- back to the cognates... I knew panna (or thought) was "bread"  so I believed it was some kind of bread pudding. When I asked for a description, it was totally different. Imagine a very creamy rich lemon flan. This place put fresh strawberries on top which, for January, were quite goo.

Over dinner, Barbara said something about bravado and pronounced it bra-vah-DOH. I asked her how she pronounces it since I thought it is bra-VAH- do. We then both insisted that the other person must be right. Barbara said she has a reader's pronunciation so she knows the words, but maybe not the pronunciation.

When I got back, Mary had called and I told her this and she said she used to think a soldering gun was prounucing a soul-dering gun.

On the way home, I had my final language lesson. I asked the cab driver what language he was speaking and he told me something I couldn't understand like "soo-zoo" and then he later told me that what he was speaking is a dialect of Mandingo (also written Mandinka) -- he is from Guinea in West Africa and it's a language millions of people speak. So that was interesting.

A lovely evening and I go to bed tonight just a little bit smarter than when I woke up! Tomorrow is mani-pedi-waxing day so tomorrow I'll go to bed just a little bit better looking so it shouldn't be too many more days until I'm just about perfect.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Weird Photo of Mary

I don't know what I'd think if I saw this photo without explanation --That she had some secret lover somewhere? She forgot to mention she had a husband? Who is this guy? I hate to say this, but it reminds me of one of those Lifetime movies where the single woman hooks up with the imposter guy who claims to have been a Green Beret, etc and the film shows photos of their happy life until the wife figures out she married a creep.

So this is a photo Matt, her nephew, took, of Mary and the captain of the boat when they took a Potomac River dinner cruise this past summer. Matt had it framed for her. This is definitely intended as a gag gift. The second one is Matt (right), Emily (center) and Matt's roommate (also Matt).

We're Having a Heat Wave

It's 5 pm and I still have a window open -- it was near 60 degrees today -- nice to get some fresh air inside. Mary says her daffodils are coming up prematurely -- don't know if they can go back down or what happens to them.

Mary writes: I picked these up at Whole Foods and I just love the colors. My daffodills are coming up and I have spring fever!

Mary says: Here's one that broke off so I put it in this little vase in the kitchen window

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Daddy, daughter; nephew, grandniece; Scott, Gwenyth

Mary sends along:

What I'm Reading

This is a collection of essays by Merrill Markoe, who is very funny.  I had seen her on Jon Stewart's show before Christmas and he was raving about the book. She was really funny on the show and so I bought the book and I have to say it's laugh out loud funny -- not all of it, but she's a regular guy-type woman and I identify with a lot that she writes about.