Saturday, December 30

Tudor-riffic!


Today I saw a few great things. One was a a film called Pan's Labyrinth. I read a good review of it yesterday and it sounded intriguing enough to check out. I really liked it. It's being called a fairy tale for adults and now I know why. This is not one for the kiddies people. I won't tell you anything except go see it. (Holy cow! I just did a search for an image to place here and found this. 99% approval?! Shandon, do you think this makes up for the fact that I liked The Holiday?)

Before I left, I saw a trailer for a new Showtime series called The Tudors. Yippee! My favorite family!! It looks great. It better be. It would be a tragedy to ruin that story. Such great material... I can't wait!!

Anyone who knows me, knows that a year ago I hauled my butt overseas primarily to see where Anne Boleyn got her head lopped off. Strange? Yes. Fascinating? Absolutely. Now, if you don't know who Anne Boleyn is then we can't be friends anymore. Well, not until you look into her, her daughter's, especially, her husband's stories. As her final resting place, The Tower of London is an amazing spot that everyone should make an effort to check out. I'd been to London once before but, at the time, I knew little of England's history and, to be honest, didn't really grasp what I was seeing. I'm still amazingly weak in history but I'm slightly more knowledgeable now. The more I learn about it the more obsessed I become. It's not that I'm a great admirer of that, or any, era of English monarchy, it's more like a car wreck. You don't want to look but you just can't help yourself. I can't help but learn more and more about Henry and his clan. Also, I just plain love the fact that he about went nuts trying to have a male heir and it was ultimately his daughter who became, arguably, England's greatest ruler. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? I feel bad for the women who got in the way of Henry's ambitions but, come on, the irony is fantastic.

In that same vein, I'm now watching a netflix'd PBS special called The Monarchy. It's good but, as usual, I'm multi-tasking (like writing this post) while "watching" it. I find myself looking up and thinking "wait, where did the Vikings go? How did we already get to Edward the Confessor? (How's that for an unfortunate name? I believe it refers to his chaste ways not an undiagnosed case of Tourette's as I like to think.) He was, however, responsible for getting Westminster Abbey going but nobody mentions that detail. His dad was called Ehelred the Unready... oh, I could go on and on those kings with unfortunate names but I'll spare you.

So here I sit, once again geeking out on English history. It's shaping up to be a great day.

Friday, December 29

Dipping my toe in


Well, I did it. I called the mortgage broker my sister-in-law recommended. She was very nice. She did, however, sound mildly bummed when I told the high end of my monthly payment threshold but it is what it is. I gave her other details and she will be running a credit report and getting back to me next week. I'm mostly annoyed that it will reflect my credit card that still has my new tires, recent car repairs, new bed and Christmas purchases on it. The timing may not be great but again, it is what it is.

Because money was on my mind I called my credit union to confirm I had in fact paid off my consolidation loan (I couldn't remember if it was this month or next). It's paid off! I also wanted to confirm that they would not continue to withdraw funds like they did when I paid off my last car loan. (I showed up in person and asked "How many times do I have to pay for this car?" The told me it sometimes takes a few months for them to stop taking payments. That was their line until I said "You are no longer legally authorized to dip into my account." That freaked them out enough to call a Manager who stopped the payments and handed me cash for the mix up. Harumph!)

I then went online and notched down my 401k contribution. I was at 14%. Pretty good huh? Well, I dropped it down to 8% we'll see what kind of difference that makes.
Next I started shredding old statements and credit card solicitations. I noticed my current rate had inched up to 10% so I called my bank and simply said "I'd like to discuss my interest rate." The representative took some info and immediately said "I've got great news for you. I can lower it to 5%." I paused, because I'm getting offers of 0% for a year from other banks. She then said "It's the best I can do for existing balances." I took it. Take what you can get right? Due to her startlingly quick response to a question I hadn't even asked I said "Sooo, I guess that means I'm in pretty good standing with you guys?" She said "Uh, yeah." Well, that's good to hear considering what I'm diving into.

So it's been a day of financial Spring cleaning.

With that in mind I'd now like to take a moment now to apologize for even less interesting future blog entries. I know how it is to hear someone go on and on about stuff you're not interested in ( kids, home remodeling, refinancing, birthing stories... these are a few of my least favorite things) but I'm bound to become just such a blogger. Sorry! The good news is you few readers can enjoy my first time home owner panic from afar and thank you lucky stars it's me and not you going through the hell of it all.

My next step is dive into the world of selling junk on eBay. There must be somebody who's willing to give dollars for some old clothes and white elephant gifts. You know I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, December 27

AAAAAGHHHHHH!


I have this week off and I have kept my calendar pretty clear. I've watched my Northern Exposure DVDs and I'm starting in on my Mary Tyler Moore Show set. I shopped and had lunch with Mom, I hooked up the printer I got for my folks (it works great!) and I saw the kids yesterday. (Sidebar: Little Miss loves Brie cheese. She was eating some on water crackers when my brother heard her dancing around the house singing "Body of Christ. Body of Christ. Brie and Body of Christ." Needless to say, I think she gets that from my side of the family.) The most stressful thing I've done is get the number of a mortgage broker. Yes, I'm thinking of buying a place somewhere. I'm super nervous about it because I'm not convinced it's do-able in LA on a single salary but there's only one way to find out. Of course, I haven't made the call yet but I will. I want to get pre-qualified before I start looking. My worst nightmare is to fall in love with a place I can actually afford then lose it because of a technicality. Watching MTM is helping me find some courage. Mary moved to Minneapolis knowing only Phyllis and started a new life to get away from a noncommittal guy all because she had spunk! Surely I can make a call. *sigh*

Monday, December 25

Merry Christmas

Mom hosted Christmas Eve dinner since Mom, Dad and I plan to have Christmas dinner at my Aunt's house today and won't be seeing my brother and his family. We exchanged gifts with the kids and my brother and sil. My sil's mom, grandmother and her mom's cousins joined us. It was a great afternoon/evening. My nephew got the Nintendo DS he'd been longing for (it's pretty cool too) and my niece got lots of clothes and a double stroller for her doll, Ally. The first thing Little Miss did once she had Ally bundled in a new outfit, was take her for "a ride" on the new driveway. We have a somewhat steep circular driveway. Little Miss ran to the end of the drive then let the stroller go. She chased it, caught up up with it and stopped it from disaster just in time. I could hear my dad laughing and Little Miss calling for me. Of course she runs to the top of the drive to reenact the daredevil act but this time somehow gets confused and misjudges where Ally's heading. The stroller crashed into the brick planter. I commented that it was a good thing Ally was wearing her seat belt and that if she planned to continue living with Little Miss she better get a crash helmet.

As for me, I got a supremely soft blanket from the kids. My sil explained that Little Man insisted on it for me. She said "He's concerned with everyones comfort this year." I loved it and was touched by his thoughtfulness. I also got the much sought after Mary Tyler Moore Show Season One DVD set AND Season One and Two of Northern Exposure. Happy days are here again!!

Dinner was, as always, wonderful. Mom made the biggest prime rib I've ever seen.

This morning Mom, Dad and I exchanged gifts. Here's a sample of why I love my folks:




Dad: Oh! A new shirt!
Mom: Well, I couldn't find the yellow one so I got this instead.
Dad: It's great!
Mom: It replaces the one you gave to that Mexican.
Me: What?
Mom: Your father gave his favorite shirt to some Mexican.
Dad: Not "some Mexican", I gave it to Lito.
Me: Who's Lito and why does he have your shirt?
Dad: Well, he kept admiring it and seemed to like it so much so I gave it to him. He wears it all the time.
Me: Who's Lito?
Dad: He coordinates our birding trips in Mexico. You know, he gets the mules, bird guides, cooks...
Me: Mules?!
Dad: Well yeah, we need pack mules to get our gear up into the cloud forest.
Me: Cloud forest? What's a cloud forest?

He went on to explain the amazing terrain in this mystical mecca for birders. It's apparently quite a destination that has, according to dad, a barracks that is "just this side of primitive". Mom just looked knowingly at me as if to say "It's your basic nightmare." It sounded cool but I doubt I'd enjoy the mule trek. According to dad it's along one of the oldest trails from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. It's so old and well traveled that it's now a rut about 3 feet deep. I don't think I'd do well there.

We're forever having conversations just like this. My parents are always talking about events they assume I'm privy to. I never know what they're talking about but it definitely keeps things interesting.

I love my family and am so grateful for them.

Saturday, December 23

Done, done!


I finished my Christmas shopping today. I got to Nordstrom at 8:00 then made the rounds to a few more stores depending when they progressively opened. I'm happy with my choices and thankful that they are (mostly) all wrapped and under the tree. (Too bad I never looked as elegant as the diva to the left.)

It was a good day. After shopping I got my hair colored ('cause Granny hate grey) then saw The Holiday. It hasn't received very complimentary reviews but it was just what I wanted to see today. I've long known that if a film features good real estate I tend to like it. This one had my favorite variety of real estate, an English cottage. They had me at the first shot of that house. Also, I've never been much of a Jude Law fan but he's pretty dreamy in this one.

Oh, and speaking of movies (again) last night I realized why I hate cats so much. It's those Siamese cats, Si and Am, in Lady and the Tramp. I watched it last night and remembered that I saw the movie as a young girl and to this day that is exactly how I perceive all cats. They're sneaky, destructive and creepy. Blechh! Si and Am do, however, sing a pretty great song.

Tonight's showing was going to be Bridget Jones' Diary but Law & Order just came on. Have I ever mentioned my Pavlovian response to Law & Order? I'm fine until I hear that opening "dun, dun" then it's all over. I simply can not turn away. That damn show is in hard core syndication so it can be quite a problem. I swear no show can hook me quicker. Ask anyone in my family, I'll be heading out the door to go somewhere and see that Law & Order is on, I'll try to run before the "dun, dun" but it's no use. Oh well, guess Bridget will have to wait.

Friday, December 22

Beat it!


I'm at war with some dipshit at work. Because we carpool, my carpool partner, Lynn, and I share an assigned parking spot. It's a beautiful spot because parking in the new building is a bit tough to come by these days. Well, someone in a black Altima had been parking in our spot. Lynn and I are allowed to park in it even when we don't carpool if one of us is out sick or traveling. For instance, we couldn't carpool on Thursday because I had an off site meeting in the morning and Lynn had to get herself to the airport in the afternoon. I arrived at work around noon and figured if Lynn hadn't parked in our spot that I would. Well, black Altima was there. I mentioned the intrusion to Lynn and we decided we should TP the offender's car. Then I logged on to Shandon's blog and found something even better. There is a clearly marked message on the spot stating "Reserved Carpool Parking" but I think visitors are assuming empty carpool spots are open to them. We may have to go down there and decorate our spot with chalk messages like "Hey moron, this spot is an assigned spot. Just because I drive to lunch doesn't mean you get to park here." Of course, I have a feeling that message would be frowned upon. Maybe Lynn and I just need to draw peace signs, flowers and our names all over it. If we make it look like a 12-year-old's bedroom door it might scare the offender off. Hmm, maybe we'll just have someone chalk this over our spot:


Sidebar: Another Lynn from work told me about this fabulous use of the internet. What a wonderful world! In a nut shell, it's a site dedicated to calling out the men who have cheated on the posters. Not sure if that new great guy is so great after all? Look him up and see if he shows up on the DDHG database. Aside from having a great web site name, it also promotes some deserving women's organizations. It's nice when people take karma into their own hands.

Oh, and did you see that "Anonymous" was kind enough to compliment my blog but considered it "a bit radical". How exciting! I've always wanted to be a radical. I wonder if it's from Trooper's buddy. If so, just know that we heart Trooper!

Wednesday, December 20

Trooper, this one's for you


After I discovered that fabu Jennifer Holiday clip on Youtube I've been searching for other Broadway performances. I've found several clips from past Tony Award shows. I've also found some clearly bootlegged clips taken from live shows like this one. While I'd be really annoyed at if I were seated next to someone filming a live performance I sure do like seeing these captured in some way.

This tore me up when I saw it on the Tony Awards. Later that year I made it my all time first Broadway show. I cried throughout. Not only because of the story, but because I couldn't believe I was finally sitting in a Broadway theater seeing such a quintessential Broadway show. It blew me away.

Wicked is also a big deal to me. I was lucky enough to see Edina sing this while I sat in the second row. I was with my boss and had been raving about the music for ages. After this song she leaned over and said "Holy shit!" Although, Edina was better when I saw her live this is still a good clip. (Maybe she was nervous.)

I didn't get to see Sutton Foster perform this but whoever toured in LA was fantastic. Gimme Gimme starts out slowly but builds into an honest to God showstopper. It also made me misty because it's performed alone on a stage under a spotlight. That kind of talent always gets to me. (Sorry about the poor quality of the clip.) This is also a great song from Thoroughly Modern Millie (one of my favorite shows). Let's just say you really don't want to be driving behind me while I'm singing along to this one during my morning commute. I can not only sing all but the very end but I like to try the tap dancing. It doesn't really work in traffic. Trust me.

One of the funniest shows I've seen. (Recognize the Lady of the Lake?) This one may have made me laugh even harder.

Another fun show.

Here's one Annie... and another who's all grown up. (Do you think she's sick of that song yet?)

Tony sang Bring Him Home at a Desert Storm benefit concert and tore the roof off.

I have no idea when or where this aired, but I likey. (another "One" I like to listen to in traffic.)

I haven't seen this one but I hear from several friends that it's great. Bad name, great show. I never saw this either but saw this on a Broadway highlights show and loved it.

Here's one I'm looking forward to seeing in '07. (Click on "Videos" then "Watch Now.")


And to round it out, here's some Fosse on film. So fabulous.

The Lonely

As I've mentioned, my sister-in-law recently lost her father to cancer. Yesterday, my mom, s-i-l, her mom and my niece went to lunch. Well, they were all having a nice lunch when, after the meal, my niece climbed up on s-i-l's lap. Little Miss whispered into sil's ear then turned her head away from everyone. My s-i-l turned to her mom and said "She wants to know how the lonely is."

Now seriously, isn't that about the sweetest thing you've ever heard? Those kids break my heart all the time. The fact that she's worried about her grandmother but doesn't quite know how to express herself is so adorable.

In case you're also wondering about the lonely, Little Miss got the following reply to her question: "the lonely is all right. I have my pets to keep me company in the evenings and I'm doing ok."

Tuesday, December 19

... and I am telling you



Last night was great! Tony and I got advanced tickets to see Dreamgirls at the Arclight (aka the Cinerama Dome as I will forever call it). I've been looking forward to seeing it for ages and it lived up to every expectation. That being said, I had been somewhat skeptical because I couldn't understand how ANYONE could come close to filling Jennifer Holiday's shoes (I dare you to not get the chills in this clip. If you don't know the story, wait for the money at 3 1/2 minutes. Trust me. Oh, and you're welcome.) but I am telling you Miss Jennifer Hudson does a remarkable job. Who knew an American Idol cast off could act?! I'm not necessarily a Beyonce fan but she was awfully good too.

Seeing it with "the boys" (Oh, like you've never done this. Ok, maybe you haven't filmed it but we should all lip sync with that kind of abandon at least once a day.) was also a plus. I always like seeing new films with other enthusiastic film goers because it adds so much to the experience. You haven't lived until you've seen an opening night film at the dome or Grauman's Chinese Theater. Fans stand in line forever and are some of the most harsh critics out there. If a movie doesn't measure up, those crowds will be sure to express their disappointment. On the other hand, if they approve of the new Star Wars , Star Trek, Harry Potter or whatever, they will applaud wildly. They also keep the talkers and other noise makers under control, which I love.

Last night was all about a great crowd in a great venue. Because we were on the floor of the dome the screen wrapped around us and the sound was fantastic. When Beyonce turned around in the big-haired Diana Ross get-up... well, let's just say I think I heard some of the boys, in unison, fall to the floor in a dead faint. I'm certain I heard shrieking. It was fantastic.

Sunday, December 17

Just found

Shandon, being a fellow crafter, this one is for you. I looooove this bloggers editorial.

Good the bad and the ugly


Today I witnessed the good the bad and the ugly of the holiday season.

The good was watching my niece and nephew in their church Christmas program. The kids couldn't be cuter. The bad was from me. The second my nephew got up in front of everyone I caught his eye and received a smile. In return I pointed my finger at him and mouthed "Don't laugh! Doooon't laugh." He struggled to keep from busting up. I kept this up throughout his performance. I finally stopped when it seemed one of us really might lose it. The ugly came later when I was at the grocery store picking up ingredients for White Chocolate Cherry Chunkies. The lady in front of me was apparently outraged that the promoted sale price on her item wasn't ringing up properly. Instead of asking for the manager, she raged "I'll show you the sign!" then stomped off to get it. Luckily the check out girl didn't seem to care. In fact, she seemed accustomed to it. I, on the other hand, couldn't believe the temper tantrum that ensued when the woman returned with the sign. She banged it down on the counter and said "Here!" The check out girl simply said "I'll scan it again for you." The woman replied "I don't have all day." and stomped off out the door. I would have said something but the meanie left in such a hurry. All I could think was "I'm sorry your family takes you for granted and that you've spent your day doing things nobody asked you to do. Good luck with the martyr routine." Whatever.

The good I saw today outnumbered the the ugly by far. While Kenny G (the bad) wailed out Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas over the store speakers, a shopper loudly sang "CHRISTMAS" when Kenny got to it in his rendition. Later, I smiled at a boy who was standing at the door at Trader Joe's because he was bowing to each shopper as they left saying "Good afternoon. (b0w) Good afternoon. (bow) Good afternoon. (bow)"

In keeping with the good, bad and ugly theme of the day, I'm now watching Beauty and the Beast. I haven't seen it in years and it's as good as I remember.

Saturday, December 16

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious


I've had to squeeze shopping in between work and celebrations. Today was my niece's birthday party. I had her birthday gift but no Christmas gift yet. The day she was born I promised her I would never rip her off by trying to combine her birthday and Christmas gifts. She is a fan of the Bitty Baby line from American Girl. I tried to order some things for her online yesterday but I wasn't convinced I'd receive them in time. I then called my mom and told her I'd be going to The American Girl store at The Grove this morning and planned to be there the moment it opened. She had never been and wanted to go with me. We woke up early and headed for The Grove. We arrived at exactly 9:00am and the small parking lot out front was already filling up. Thirty minutes later we got to the car, arms full of American Girl bags, and the lot was completely full. My last boyfriend lived in the area so I know it well. I gave her a sort of tour on the way home and we managed to avoid traffic.

We got home and soon left for the birthday party. I gave Little Miss a gift that I called "Party in a Box". She broke her last boom box so I got her a new one along with Hannah Montana and High School Musical CDs. I wrapped a box then put the gifts in it along with helium balloons. They were supposed to float out as she pulled the ribbon to open it. Unfortunately, there were too many little girls huddled around the box so it didn't quite work as planned. The balloons eventually floated out and the adults seemed to get the drift of my idea and appreciated it. I still like the idea and may try it again some time.

Later Mom and I decorated the house a bit for Christmas. I put the outside lights up last weekend but hadn't had much of a chance to do much inside. It's starting to look more holiday-ish around here now. Better late than never.

I got my Christmas cards done while watching Broadway: The Golden Age (oh, to be able to go back in time and see all of that great theater live... *sigh*). I'm now watching Mary Poppins to keep up my cheery mood. (Although it goes against the cheery mood maintenance program, check this out. That makes me laugh.)

Which reminds me, have I ever mentioned the time I went to the last boyfriend's father's birthday party? We went to a fairly spectacular home somewhere near The Getty. There were about a dozen people in attendance. My ex's dad is an actor and most of his friends are in show business. We all mingled for a while then sat down for a fabulous dinner. A birthday dessert was brought out and we all sang Happy Birthday. The difference is that it wasn't your typical rendition of Happy Birthday. It sounded like I'd wandered into the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version of the tune. They all had amazing voices and someone was playing fabulously on a piano. Who knew?! Later, I noticed some awards around the house but still had no idea who these talented people were. Once in the car and driving away I asked my then boyfriend "I saw a bunch of awards, who was that?" He said "Oh, he's Richard Sherman, one of the Sherman brothers. He wrote the songs for Mary Poppins, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang... you know." Holy crap!!! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was my favorite song when I was a kid!! I was shocked. I suppose being a clueless guest is more appealing than and fool unable to speak due to her shock and admiration. For God's sake, the man wrote It's a Small World. To this day I thank God I had know idea who's home I was in.

Thursday, December 14

Mama recovers


We were all draggin' this morning. Everyone was invited to upload their pictures from last night's party to a central server. Let's just say there is some unfortunate evidence from the big event.

The great news is that my new bed arrived at home today. I've lately noticed that I sleep better in hotels than at home and that's supposed to be a sign that a new bed is needed. I decided to pull together a new bed based on Westin's Heavenly Bed.

I researched mattresses through Consumer Reports and learned that all of the major brands are good and comparable. They all offer warranties and are full of a million layers of magic including anti-bedbug stuff. I also learned that I should lay on a potential bed for 15 minutes before making a decision. I thought "Yeah, right." Well, as it turned out I did lay around on beds for about an hour while trying to decide. The salesman came by a couple of times to check on me. I just kept saying "I need a minute to lay around." He left me alone and I flopped to my stomach. I flipped and flopped and eventually got to be a lot like Goldilocks. I could sit for a second on one mattress and think "Ooh, too soft." Then sit on another and think "Waaaaay too hard." I kept going back to one Serta Pillow top and thought "Oh, just right." Because my new mattress is so thick and dreamy, I had to purchase new 600-count "Deep Pocket" sheets. I also splurged on some new pillows. My goal was to make my bed the happiest place on earth. I think I've succeeded. I'll let you now how tonight's maiden voyage goes.

Wednesday, December 13

Mama's dogs are barkin'!


My feet are killin' me but it was worth it. Tonight was our annual holiday party at work. We all pretty much danced our asses off. There is just something so great about having a couple of cocktails and gettin' down on the dance floor with the people you mostly know as straight-laced corporate types. One of our finance guys refused to dance after numerous requests. Finally, I said "I could have 12 women dancing around you like that (and snapped my fingers)." His response was "So could I." Touche baby! We did eventually get him on out on floor and he seemed to enjoy it.

Another friend made $200 by getting her WFB (Work Fantasy Boyfriend) out on the dance floor. Looks like we'll all be paying up tomorrow.

Another co-worker taught me how to dance the "Double Bump". I've managed to get this far in life only knowing how to bump. Who knew there was a double bump out there all along? Amazing!

I'm lucky enough to work with some very fun people. We work hard but we manage to laugh too. If you're fortunate to work with people you like, I highly recommend letting loose with them every once in a while. Have some fun!!

Tuesday, December 12

Granny hate change


After a dinner with my wonderful friends from high school a few of us were talking. Kathleen noticed the new Baskin Robbins logo shining nearby and expressed her disapproval. We agreed. I went on to comment that as I age I'm beginning to hate change and there was nothing wrong with the old Baskin Robbins logo anyway, dammit! We reminisced about the old brown and pink polka dot paper cups their scoops used to come in. Of course, I haven't been to a Baskin Robbins in ages so I have no way to knowing if it's still brown and pink or not, so I really shouldn't judge. I do, however, have a feeling it's all about this kicky new "BR" crap.

I should have known this anti-change sentiment was becoming a problem earlier in the month. There is a little old lady down the street who goes hog wild with the Christmas decorations each year. Last year her Christmas spectacular got pretty beat up by a freak wind storm. This year I've been driving by eagerly anticipating her set up. It seemed to be taking a while and, I kid you not, I was actually getting a little concerned. What's the hold up? I kept wondering. Is she ok? Did she just throw in the towel after last year? Again, I hate change and my little old friend was changing my holiday environment without my approval. It was freaking me out. Well, I'm happy to report that she's back in all her tacky splendor. I'd love to post a picture but you really need to see it at night and I just don't think a photo would do it justice. Besides, I'd hate to scare her by creeping around her house after dark with a camera. She may be able to take a wind storm but a stalker might be an entirely different story.

I guess the bottom line is that I find comfort in the familiar. This, of course, is not so profound but finally grasping it can be. I've been meeting these high school friends for monthly dinners since our 20th reunion and I value them more with each passing month. I love these women. We took each other for granted as teenagers but they mean more and more to me as time passes. I like getting older with these people. We all may look a little older but we are essentially the same. I like that they haven't changed and I like that the old lady sets up all of her lighted decorations every December.

Saturday, December 9

Happy Holidays


Today I saw Carrie Fisher's one woman show Wishful Drinking. If you have the chance to see it, I suggest you do.
It's very funny. I won't spoil it by trying to describe it, just go see it.

Things got ugly after the show. We were driving through Westwood to have dinner. As usual, the streets were busy. Two lanes, including ours, were turning left when I noticed a young woman slowly crossing crossing the street while fiddling with her cell phone. The car next to us pulled forward a bit to get out of the way of an impending light change. The young woman took offense and stopped, stood in the way of the car then held out her hands as if to ask"What's your problem?". She then topped the whole scene off by displaying a lengthy flip of the middle finger at the drivers before slowly walking away. I couldn't believe it. When we pulled up next to our assaulted friends we could see the driver and passenger were two tiny elderly ladies! I'm still so mad at that idiotic girl. 'Tis the season and all. Imagine what the princess of darkness must be like when its not so merry and bright out.

Thursday, December 7

Merry Christmas!


Consider this my Christmas card to you all.


Wednesday, December 6

That blows



My dear friend Tony, had a terrible night last night. He had pneumonia in the summer and is therefore suceptible to it. He found out yesterday that he's in the early stages of it again and was put on medication. He took the day off to get the medicine and some rest. He had, however, promised to pick up a friend at LAX laast night and didn't want to flake on them. While circling the airport, he was pulled over by the police. Here's the problem: he's been fighting with DMV over a smog test. It's a long story but all of his registration extentions and insurance paperwork was on his dining room table. Did I mention that he was in his pajamas? Yeah. Once the officer realized he didn't have his paperwork he asked Tony to "Give me one reason I shouldn't impound your car." Tony said "Um, I'm in my pajamas and I have pneumonia?" Apparently those weren't good enough reasons. His car was impounded. He had to meet his friend at the curb, AT THE AIRPORT, in his pajamas.

Can you believe that?!

When I told a mutual friend about Tony's ordeal she just said "Note to self: never wear pajamas in the car again." Word.

Monday, December 4

Brilliant Idea


Last year I ran around getting small gifts for everyone at work. It was a nightmare. I spent too much money, it took too much time and I swore I'd reel it in this year.

Last week a friend and I decided we would give baked goods this year. "No gifts" this year except home made treats. I mentioned the idea to a few other people today and the idea grew to a small cookie exchange. The big, big boss liked the idea so much she's decide we should all do it. It's now a BIG cookie exchange. Anyone who wants in simply brings a few dozen cookies and copies of their cookie recipe. The participants get to bring a big assortment of cookies home. An invite went out stating "In lieu of gifts for co-workers" come to the cookie exchange.

Most people seemed relieved. They're baking this season anyway. Now they don't have to run around buying thoughtful gifts for each other. We just stuff each other with cookies, everyone wins!!

Yippee!!

P.S. I'm watching what is possibly my favorite holiday film: Home For the Holidays. It reminds me of my family and always makes me laugh, and of course, Dylan McDermitt is completely dreamy. Did I mention I'm about three days from becoming Aunt Glady?

Saturday, December 2

Tonight

I was invited to a choral concert of Christmas music tonight. It was great. I'd forgotten how wonderful a well trained chorus can sound. They sang modern and traditional music then, at the end, the lights were lowered and they came into the audience and sang "Oh, Holy Night". It truly was magical. Even my 5 year old niece seemed impressed and just stared at the beautiful Christmas tree and smiled. I plan to go again next year.

We went with a group of grandmothers, moms, aunts, daughters and nieces. I commented that I'd try not to cry and embarrass anyone. A 12-year-old kept checking to see if I was crying. She couldn't understand why I would cry. I told her it can happen when you get older. She claimed that her mom didn't cry over music. I said "Trust me, she does. We all do" I'm not exactly sure why I get all misty but I suppose it's because I'm thinking of those I miss. Not everyone is still around and I miss them most this time of year. I like to think they're around me but I can't help but miss them. I sure hope they were around tonight.

Friday, December 1

Tada!

I've completed the NaBloPoMo challenge. I posted every day last month except the 5th and that was due to a missing connection while on vacation. (I tried for an hour, I swear!!) I guess that means I didn't officially meet the challenge but I made it the rest of the time. I guess that counts for self satisfaction anyway. I'm glad I gave it a shot even if my plan was foiled by lack of service.

My new challenge is to buy a mattress. Not quite the same thing but it must be done. I used to love my bed but lately I've noticed I sleep better in hotels. I'm taking that as a sign that it's time to spend some money and get a super-comfy mattress. I've done some research and things have certainly changed in the mattress market since I last bought one. They are much more expensive due to higher quality materials (at least that's the official spin). They supposedly last longer and are much thicker. Problem is, the moment I buy a mattress I'll most likely have to get new sheets to fit the thick mattress. This is a bummer because my Egyptian cott0n sheets are broken in are now a slice of heaven. My bed is old but those sheets are perfect.

I've learned the I'm supposed to lay on a mattress for 15 minutes to decide if it's a good fit. Now I ask you, who's got the time to roll around on a mattress, in public, for 15 minutes per mattress?

Ugh! It's gonna cost me a an arm and a leg but I guess I'll be fine with it once I've broken in the new sheets and I'm sleeping through the night.

Sorry for the boring post but it's what's going on with me. Also, blogger.com seems to be freaking out so I'm not even able to spice this post up with links or pix. Sorry again!

Thursday, November 30

Bitter


Dear Spaz in the carpool lane,

Just because the other four lanes are backed up in major traffic doesn't mean you have to slow down. See, the whole reason the carpool lane exists is so we high and mighty carpoolers can fly by them shouting "suckas" at the top of our lungs without a pang of guilt. You seem to have trouble with this concept. Slowing us carpoolers down won't make the others feel better. I suggest you stay in all that traffic if you want to drive 40 mph when NOBODY is in front of you for miles. You were extremely annoying this morning and I wish you'd handle your guilt on your own and leave us out of it.

Sincerely,

Lucy

Wednesday, November 29

Forgive me Father for I have sinned:


I admit it, I snapped. I've been hearing about the Kelly Ripa vs Clay Aiken flap for several days and I just had to check it out online. I've spent the last 20 minutes watching all of the footage on YouTube. I'm not proud. I feel dirty.

Not that any of this matters but I can now say with some authority that a) Kelly was right b) Clay was combative and is in desperate need of non-stop praise c) Rosie is nuts.

Tuesday, November 28

Lighten up, Francis.


I was sort of on a tear today. Possibly PMS, possibly just me being me.

We've been in our new building for a few weeks now and I still haven't seen any sign of a recycling program. This bugs me for several reasons but mostly because my company promotes environmentally sound programs for commuters and , I thought, recycling but... well, I'm just not seeing any love for the planet. I decided to look into it.

After about 30 minutes of searching I finally found someone who is in charge of our environmental program. I told her that I was disappointed in our lack of recycling. I pointed, for instance, that we had four trash cans in the kitchen but nothing for bottles, plastic etc. She explained that our city does the sorting. I was suspicious. I pretty much said "Oh, come on. Do they really do that?" She assured me that not only do they do it but they have a higher rate of success because there is no education to get out. Other cities fight to educate citizens on how to recycle and even then they don't always participate. This way everyone participates.

Hmm, well then how about all of the paper I waste everyday. Is that being recycled, I wondered. Well, that is supposed to go into a shredder. We keep individual recycling baskets at our desks and it's up to us to deposit our "clean" paper in the big recycling can. Ok, I can handle that.

I asked why nobody was telling us all of this. She explained that they had a whole communication program planned but (get this) management didn't like the design/logo on the buttons and email communications so they were re-designing it. What?! This is when it feels lame to work for corporate America. When the logo is more important that the message, an internal message mind you, there is a problem. I told my VP about it. She could only roll her eyes and agree that it was ridiculous.

In the end I apologized to our environmental expert for being a pain in the ass. She actually thanked me for taking the time to look into it. She was downright excited. She then took my name and info and asked if I'd be a contact for her. She asked if I'd mind being a mouthpiece to help spread the word. I told her being a mouthpiece was rarely a problem for me, it sort of comes naturally.

Well, at least I found out that I can climb off my high horse now. I've been recycling all the time. Phew, what a relief!

Monday, November 27

Not in Public


Tonight I saw the Dixie Chicks Shut Up and Sing documentary. I've been wanting to see it because I was bewildered by the extreme reaction the group received after the lead singer made a silly, barely negative comment about W. Apparently free speech is ok unless it's done in public. Hmm... who knew?

It's a good film that highlights the talent of these fine musicians but mostly I enjoyed seeing uppity women act up. You go girls!

This hasn't been the easiest film to track down. I've had to wait a while for it to come to my neighborhood ... and I live in LA! Here is a cool site I stumbled upon that features other films that are even less likely to be seen. Some of these look interesting but I've never heard of them. Others I've heard of but never saw. I'm hoping I can at least Netflix some.

Hmm, I wonder what else I'm missing?"

Sunday, November 26

'Cause knowledge is power...


After running some errands I came home to tidy up the house. I was looking for something to listen to while I organized an incredibly messy linen closet. It's not the most fun way to spend a Sunday, but God only knew what was in there so it was time get cleanin'. Besides, we're going to need to know what's in there for Christmas entertaining.

I decided to listen to my School House Rock DVD. While listening and not watching, I quickly realized that everything I needed to know I learned from School House Rock. Seriously, I think every person my age got through their Constitution test by humming the Preamble song. The first time I heard Sacajawea's name was in the Elbow Room song. Of course they gloss over a lot but I got the picture as a kid. And of course, Sufferin' Until Suffrage is still a favorite. I really don't know how I would have made it out of elementary school without the help of School House Rock.

And... SHUT UP! Did you know Blossom Dearie sang Unpack Your Adjectives?! I've always loved that one. I can't believe I never made the connection. Well, see there? I learned something new.

Of course here is the standard favorite. I can understand why... it's still a pretty snappy tune. ("hey that's nice")

Some of the send ups are pretty funny. Check out this one from The Simpsons.

Next up: A Year Without a Santa Claus. I picked it up at Toys R Us while doing more Christmas shopping. I love the Mr. Heatmiser song! (By the way, one of my favorite Christmas songs is now Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's version of this song on their Everything You Want for Christmas CD. Check it out.)

Saturday, November 25

Fancy Bird


As mentioned on prior posts, my dad is a hard core bird watcher (or "birder", as they prefer to be called). Well, last week was an exciting week for So. Cal. birders. A Ross's Gull was spotted at the Salton Sea. This was an extraordinary sighting. So remarkable that dad cut my parents vacation short to get down there to see the gull. It was the first time a Ross's Gull had ever been seen in Califonria.

See, the problem with birding is that you're running around chasing something that doesn't exactly keep a reliable schedule. In this case, the gull had wondered all the way down from the Artic Circle. The poor guy was WAY off course. He was the first Ross's Gull to ever wander into California. He broke the southern- most sighting by hundreds of miles.

I'm happy to report that my dad got down there in time to spend the afternoon observing the gull. Hundreds of fellow birders were rushing to see it, some coming from out of state. The next morning the gull showed up for about 15 minutes in the early morning then flew off and has not been seen since. I feel so bad for those folks who came such long distances and missed it. Then again, that's part of the "thrill" of birding. There are no guarantees.

My dad has always been a birder. It's something I've grown up with but remains difficult to explain to the uninitiated. When asked, I explain that it's like a collection, a collection of sightings. I can't think of many things that would make me leave my vacation at the crack of dawn to high-tail it to the Salton Sea. Certainly not a bird. A dinner with George Clooney might motivate me but short of that I can't imagine anything that would get me moving like that.

I was dragged along on many birding adventures as a child. My brother turned into a pretty good birder while I remain hopelessly bad at it. I can't tell you how many times someone has pointed up and said to me "There! Right there! Can't you see it?" I never could. The one sighting, however, that I vividly remember is that of three endangered California Condors in the wild back in the 70's. We were up on a mountain ridge looking out and watched as a family of Condors flew in circles before us. It was a magnificent sight I'll never forget. I knew then that it was a big deal and to hold on to the memory. Even I could recognize a rare, bad-ass bird when I saw it.

Most folks just shrug when I try explaining the whole birding thing. Now, I point to March of the Penguins to help make my point that, although it's not really my thing, birds are fascinating creatures worth checking out. I won't be rushing down to the Salton Sea any time soon, but I understand the urge to do so.

Friday, November 24

Oh, the humanaity.


I've already broken my vow to avoid chain stores for Christmas shopping. I needed a boom box for my niece and figured I'd try Best Buy and if that was too horrific, then I could hit Target. I thought I could handle it.

Last night I decided I wouldn't set my alarm, I wouldn't be one of those maniacs who shop at midnight or 5:00 am. I showered last night and figured I could just get up when I felt like it, get dressed and go. I woke up and heard that there had been a brawl at my local Best Buy. Nerves were apparently raw after folks spent the night in line for a $200 computer offer. Well, no matter, I was going anyway. I wound up getting to the Best Buy parking lot around 8:00 am. The lot was pretty full so I figured if I could find a parking spot without much effort then I would go in. I aimed for the center of the parking lot and immediately found a spot. I walked in to Best Buy and pretty much walked right out. There was the most unimaginable swarm of people in there. The computer and tv section were especially bad. The first thing I thought was "Oh, the humanity." My second thought was "Damn! Why didn't I keep my camera in my purse so I could post this picture?!"

I walked back to my car and held my breath the whole way to Target. The parking lot wasn't bad at all. No different than any ordinary weekend at Target. I walked in and found it down right tranquil compared to that awful Best Buy scene.

I can't remember the last time I shopped on Black Friday. I'm not sure why I tried today. Guess I needed a reminder why I normally avoid it.

Later, I met Shandon and her crew for lunch and a movie. We saw The Departed. About 10 minutes into the film I thought "Somebody wants to be Scorsese." I was annoyed by a few camera angles but otherwise I really liked the movie. It wasn't until the end credits that I learned it actually was a Scorsese film. Oops!!! It's definitely what I'd call a "Boy Movie" but it's a good story and worth checking out.

I'm now watching a hokey movie on the Hallmark Channel to take the edge off this otherwise darkly themed day. (A fun, darkly themed day!) Sing , Dolly, sing!!

Thursday, November 23

Yum!


This morning I helped my mom make her Pecan Tassies. I'd forgotten all about them until a few weeks ago when my aunt commented how much she'd always liked them. Mom decided to dust off the recipe card and make them for Thanksgiving.

Mom was having trouble pressing hers into the pan. I had a technique that seemed to be working. I commented that it was my dumb luck that I'm a decent baker. I've always known just when to take the cookies out of the oven and how to correct small problems in baking. Other people are great atheltes, mathmeticians, writers, artists, musicians and so on. I'm a good baker. It figures! The last thing on earth I need is an abundance of baked goods lining the kitchen counter but that's the gift I was given. Ugh!

My brother, on the other hand, is an amazing grill chef. He knows exactly how everyone in the family likes their meat cooked. He's grilling the turkey today. I know it sounds a bit strange. I too was skeptical last year when he tried it but, I gotta tell you, it was amazing. I'm looking forward to another good turkey dinner today. He's not a sweets kind of guy but he'll eat my cookies.

My Dad's favorites are my oatmeal raisin cookies. It's from my moms old recipe. I hadn't made them in years. Probably a decade. I was feeling sorry for Dad. Just because I shouldn't be eating cookies doesn't mean he should do without. Last week I told him I'd make oatmeal cookies for him. I baked a batch yesterday and it's about as excited as I've seen my dad in ages. He was thrilled.

I'm not crazy about the oven I was using but they came out well. I still got it! They were yummy.

I hope you too get to enjoy some yummy home made treats today.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 22

Here we go again


I'm sure I've mentioned it here before but I've been wanting to become an knitter for a long time now. Unfortunately, I'm terrible at it. It might be that it's fall but I'm feeling the need to try knitting again. All I know is that I've tried many times before but inevitably get frustrated and give up.

I cruise the web for inspiration and fun knitting sites. Problem is, they're usually so intimidating that I'm left feeling hopeless about the whole idea. I think it's the knitting patterns... they freak me out.

Well, here are a few new sites I've found. Mostly I'm looking for a friendly little knit store with a good instructor to teach me a few things. Here's a few sites I've found:

briar rose fibers
This diva knits with Grey's Anatomy
This is a place I've considered taking a knitting lesson from.
I'm also considering Skein.
This place will teach me for free but I have to buy my supplies form them.
Of course, I could always try to teach myself... again. Then again that's never gotten me very far.

One day I'll actually walk into a yarn shop and ask for help. Until then I'll probably just keep lurking online for inspiration.

Tuesday, November 21

Tony! Frankie!


Tonight I asked Mom "Is there anything good on?" meaning is there anything good on tv tonight? She said "That Tony Bennett thing looks pretty good." Tony Bennett thing? What Tony Bennett thing?!

Well, I'm watching that Tony Bennett thing and I love it!! Mr. Bennett has apparently re-recorded some of his biggest hits as duets and they're so much fun.

It even includes my all time favorite Bennett song: I Wanna Be Around.

Mom turned me on to this song some time in my twenties. She enthusiastically explained "Oh, it's the best! It's what you listen to after a bad breakup." She was right. It's the best you'll-be-sorry song EVER. I confess that I prefer the original much better. It has a real bite to it. The newer version has been softened a bit. Too bad. Tony still sounds like he's having a good time though. I suppose that's what really counts.

During tonights show, there was an ad for a new boxed set of Frank Sinatra in Vegas. Mom is not a fan of Sinatra mostly because he was a notorious jerk and she says "he set women back about 40 years and they loved it". I know I'm a feminist and all but I just love Frankie. I know the stories about the mob connections, the roughing up of ex's new boyfriends and so on but, dang it, his music makes me smile. Besides, he earned the fattest file of any entertainer in J Edger Hoover's cabinet, I can't help but admire that. And let's not forget that Ava Gardner broke the guys heart.. that's gotta make a man cranky for a looooong time.

Monday, November 20

Comfort


Everyone at work is sick. I felt fine until after noon. I then started feeling cold and achy. I'm feeling better now so I'm hoping the air conditioner was just on too high.

To help me feel better I'm doing one of the things I always do when I'm tired and possibly coming down with something: I watch a comfort film. We all have them. There are your all time favorite movies and then there are your comfort films. For instance, I will pretty much drop everything and watch The Godfather I or II any time it's on tv (uncut of course). But when I'm feeling "weak" (as my mom would say) The Godfather is too stressful so I pop in a comfort film. You know you have them too. The qualifying factors are as follows, they tend to be chick-flicks, I can watch them dozens of times and never grow tired of them and they lean towards the cheesy. Most of all it should be noted that they aren't the highest quality films on earth but they sure do make me feel better.

Here are my top five:
  • Bridget Jones' Diary - *sigh* Oh, Colin Firth...
  • Pride & Prejudice (The dreamy Colin Firth version OR the newer Matthew Macfadyen version. *sigh* Oh, Mr. Darcy. Do you see a theme here?)
  • While You Were Sleeping - I know it's sort of dopey but I just love it.
  • Baby Boom - What can I say, I've always liked Diane Keaton.
  • Under The Tuscan Sun - Dreamy Italian guy and an unbelievable setting. Yea!
Of course, there are also Comfort TV shows but that's another list for another day.

Once again, I'd like to tag Shandon to see what her comfort films are.

Sunday, November 19

Falling down

While I've been busy worrying about my spazzy parents, trying to make sure they stay upright and injury free, my friends have started falling apart. The other day I called a friend I've known since the 8th grade. She was running out the door to take her daughter to school and blurted out "Call me later. I'll be in and out all day. I've got an art lesson then I'm getting a CT Scan on my liver. Bye!" WHAT?! I called back a left a message stating "Ok, new rule: no scary sounding procedures without warning me please." She emailed back apologizing and promising not to scare the hell outta me again.

Tonight while at my nephew's baseball game I heard another long time friend (my college roommate) had probably broken her foot. WHAT?! I called her right away and said what I said above "I'm busy keeping my parents upright and I hear you're off braking bones? What's the deal?" She called back and explained that she was at her daughter's team party and was in a "foreign backyard and stepped off a step all wrong." What's going on?

Now, to be fair, I almost broke my ankle the night before my vacation. Our driveway is a mess and I parked in a different spot so my car would be out of the way while I was gone. I walked to the back door, in the dark, and stepped sideways into a pot hole. I really should have broken something but I must have pretty tough bones. I mentioned it to my dad and he decided I must have inherited his tough bones.

God knows, I take diggers all the time that should have landed in the emergency room but I seem to bounce pretty good so that helps. My all-time best digger was in a theater. I was running from the bathroom to catch the second Lord of the Rings movie. The only way to describe these particular stairs is that they are very Tara-esque or "The Scarlett O'Hara Steps". You know the big red stairs that Rhett carries Scarlett up and the stairs she later falls down? Well, that's what we're talking about and I stumbled down them just like Scarlett (but without the great wardrobe). My foot slipped out from under me and I fell head first ALL the way down. I mean I cartwheeled down those steps and landed spread eagle at the bottom. I miraculously got up with no broken bones but my arm was swelling very quickly. I could move it around just fine but I had a bump the size of a stick of butter on my forearm by the time I got back to my seat. I was laughing and showed it to my sister-in-law. She had very concerned look on her face and asked if I wanted to go to the emergency room. I said "No way! I've waited over a year to see this movie!" She insisted I at least go to the lobby for some ice. I did so and asked for a bag or something. The teenagers behind the counter said they didn't have any. I then asked if I could have one of the bags the cups came in. They didn't want to do it until I said "Listen, I just took a dive down your stairs and all I want is a bag. I suggest you just give me the bag, fill it with ice and we'll all be happy." They gave me the bag and I got to see the movie. Here is my fear: somewhere out there, there's a security tape of me tumbling down an enormous flight of stairs. *shudder*