Thursday, July 2, 2009

An evening with Mr Foote (a three for Thursday)

I had coffee last night with my friend Mr Foote.  He's a great guy with an opinion about everything from politics to parenting...  he's very well read and consumingly interesting...  funny even...  

So, in an effort to let you get to know me better here are a few of our interchanges from last night...

On his 20 y/o son's girlfriend (he doesn't like her)

"Mindy has moved into the house.  She is a total slob!  And on top of everything, she told me that she wants to get a tattoo.  I know Matt; if she gets a tattoo he will be completely turned off.  If I warn her I..."

"Warn her?"

"Yes, well... he's not going to like a tattoo, so..."

"So?  It's perfect.  Make a pot of coffee, sit down with her and ask her if she's thought about which design she wants.  ...and ask if she's found a reputable tattoo artist...  and recommend something, something intricate with lots of color..."


On what he's reading/recommending...

"So after he's been trapped in the 1800s for a year or so it becomes clear to him that he is the poet he studied before the time travel and was kidnapped..."

"You know, every time you read a good book, you tell me how it ends.  I'm going to start wandering the aisles before we meet (we have coffee in Barnes and Nobles) and pick out the worst drivel to recommend to you; something with a bare-chested man on it."


And the ever unintentional...

"So I was going through my storage unit and found the Snoopy toy Matt gave to me so many years ago..."

"How long ago that was!  Matt must have been only 5 or 6.  Are you moving stuff out of storage?"

"No, just pulling out junk for the garage sale..."



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Ride on the Mood Swing or "We don't tell people we're twins..."

You're not going to get this unless I establish right from the outset that there was no one in the bank, but me.  Well, ok, no one but me and the staff (is that what you call them?).  I stepped in and was surprised to see that tellers weren't even doing whatever it is that they are doing when you walk in and they look up at you and smile as if to say, "I am SO VERY busy, but you are SO VERY important that I will help you..."

I've had this same account for 15 years at Bank A.  It's a savings account and the account number starts with a "6".  (You're thinking that you don't need to know this, but you do.)  So about 11 years ago, Bank B bought Bank A.  Three years later Bank C bought Bank B, but kept the name of Bank B.  Only for all of this to be rolled up into Bank D.  Bank D is certainly no huge mega-bank, in fact, I'd be very surprised if they have offices outside of NJ.  

I know very little about Bank D, but I know this...  their Checking account numbers start with a "6".  

For several years now I've gotten blank stares from tellers who look at my savings withdrawal slip and then proceed to correct me and send me away for a checking account withdrawal slip...  (as a side note, I've found that a very creative way of withdrawing from my checking account is to write a check... not run to the bank, but maybe that's just me) that point, I have to correct them.

At the end of May I decided that I should walk (it's good exercise afterall) and so it was that I walked to the bank, which is a tad over a mile (one way).  I stepped in, filled out a slip and went to the line.  An older lady called me to her counter, picked up my slip, took one look at it and said, "Oh, that's one of those old savings account numbers isn't it?"

"Yes it is", I answered and smiled.

She could not have been nicer.

So June passed...  (I didn't really get around to walking in June because the weather was so lousy, as a replacement for that exercise I simply did nothing...  what a great feeling of accomplishment!)

...and today I went back into the bank...  (no I didn't walk - it's over a mile!!!)

I endorsed my Obama check (this is how I refer to a small Federal check that augments unemployment, the amount is so small I really do wonder why they've bothered - which makes me sound ungrateful, but I'm not - when it all runs out I'll be thankful for every last dime)

stepped up to the line (let me say again that I was the ONLY customer)

"Yeah?" asked the same older lady who was so very nice the last time.

"Hi", I responded handing her my endorsed check when I stepped up to her counter, "I just want to cash this, this is my ID."

She looked at my ID, slid it back to me like I had smeared it with pig snot (which I may just do next time)...  

type, type, type..  grumble, grumble...

type, type...


"You can't cash this here.  This is not one of our accounts."

"Oh, it's a savings account."

"No, Sweetie, savings accounts don't start with 6."  (Nothing so condescending as Sweetie, Darling or Honey said in the correct tone.)

I was so stunned that I didn't know what to say.  I looked around for Alan Funt, or is it Regis these days, but there didn't seem to be a hidden camera.

"It's a very old account."

She paused.

Now, just so you know...  I wasn't wearing a mask or a dress or my anti-senior citizen T-shirt, maybe I should have shaved, I don't know.

She punched the numbers into the system again, grunted and gave me my money.

How is it...

...not one part of the interchange made sense to me whatsoever.

As I took my money I did the only thing I knew how to do...

I winked.  I smiled.  I said, "Please tell your sister I said Hello..." I turned she gave me a puzzled look...

...I haven't seen her sister since that little girl from Kansas dropped a house on her...


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stop in the Name of Sanity or "Fame rhymes with Shame, so be careful"

As I sat watching "Dance Your Ass Off" last night I was shocked to think that these people weren't terrified to be seen doing what they were doing.  Yes, I'll admit that I love the early stages of "American Idol" when they showcase the "talent-free" auditioners and that I've gotten to the point where I watch reality TV just to see contestants fact, the harder they cry, the harder I laugh - I just can't help myself.  

...but this is in a class all by itself...

If "Saturday Night Live" had cast their all-time best comedians to perform a sketch that poked fun at a scheme to combine "Biggest Loser" and "Dancing with the Stars" it wouldn't have come close to being as funny as this was...  it takes "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????" to a whole new level.

Sometimes our 15 minutes of fame just ain't worth it...

When I was in college two friends of mine convinced me to do a routine with them, in drag, for a talent show.  The whole idea was to dress up like Diana Ross and the Supremes and lip sync "Stop in the Name of Love" - I was to be Diana.  I knew that at 5'4, with my football player shoulders, I'd not really make a convincing woman, but, then as now, I really do enjoy making people laugh.  

We went downtown to a thrift shop, found a few bridesmaid dresses that had been donated (if you want to make a bridesmaid dress more hideous than it already is just put it on a man)...  Mine was a yellow chiffon number that had a drapey thing off the shoulder.  I figured I could fling the drape around for added laughs.

Flash forward to the night of the talent show...  We were the big surprise opening for Act II and even the other people in the show (you know, the "legit" bands, girls who wrote their own songs and the Biology Prof who always wanted to sing opera) didn't know we were going on... I'm waiting back stage, in a closet, in my yellow dress and horrible wig when the MC checks in on us and says to me, "You know, Diana Ross had great legs and always had a slit in her dress."

One of my cohorts grabs a pair of scissors, kneels beside me and starts snipping...  pulling, snipping, pulling, snipping...  

"You guys gotta go on..."

Onto the stage we go; my dress is all askew from having the slit cut into the side.  In the dark I'm trying to fix my dress as the MC announces the number which will hopefully perk-up an otherwise dud of a talent show.  Something doesn't feel right, but I'm not adept at dress wearing...  I think I'm good, but then, no, but, OK, but...

Up come the lights.
     (my back to the audience, I'm frozen in a pose)
The music starts.
    (this is bible college and I begin to question my decision - my knack for questioning decisions is always right on target, it's my timing I need to work on)
The Supremes start the number.
     "Stop in the name of love, before you break my heart..."
I convince myself that the dress is fine and the trouble is nerves.
    (Bum-bah-bah-Bum, Bum-bah-bah-Bum)
     "Baby, baby I'm aware of where you go, each time..."
Diana turns around to begin the first verse.  In the light I realize the problem is the slit; the "pulling and snipping" has cut the slit from my left side ankle, across my knee and up to my groin.  The audience laughs and cheers as I lip-sync, trying to pull the dress down and twist it so that my tightie-whities aren't on display...  but there's choreography...  and as I lift my arms the dress rights itself.  


I pull the dress down again and twist it trying to do the dance moves with just my hands - having my elbows firmly planted against my sides.  This does NOT help, I'm just too wide for the dress and any movement causes it to ride up like a tube top on a hoochie-momma...  I twist, reaching over my shoulder for the drapy thing (that is somehow behind me), but this only makes matter worse as I shift in the dress.  The audience cheers when I realize the drape is on the OTHER shoulder and grab it to cover my (not-so) privates...

Eventually, the guys in the dorm quit calling me "white tornado", thankfully the photos were deemed "inappropriate" for the Year Book (this was Bible College afterall), 

but there was this little chinese man with whom I never spoke, who I never met, who never ever said anything to me, but who would burst into laughter at the sight of me the whole time I was in college...

My hope for you is that, when you look back on the 15 minutes of fame in your life, you don't wish you had just stayed in bed...


Monday, June 29, 2009

Some Recession... or "glad I'm not the Tooth Fairy"

So, we went to see Uncle Ryan last night.  Uncle Ryan is 9; in spite of the fact that I insist my biological nieces and nephews drop the "Uncle", his mother insists that he call me Uncle "Silly" - so, I call him Uncle Ryan...  No one gets this little joke, but me... that's OK, it is well worth the perplexed look he gives me every time I see him.

And his teeth are starting to fall out.  Well, not fall out, gee that sounds wrong.  He is starting to lose his baby teeth.  This was announced to me by Girly Girl (Uncle Ryan's 3 y/o sister), it took me a minute to catch on, but when I did I asked the age old question, "Did the Tooth Fairy come?"

"Yup" Girly Girl announced.

"I got five dollars."

I was stunned and my only response was, "Well, that's probably a mistake, you should put it back under your pillow so she can give you the quarter she meant to leave you."

Again the perplexed look.  No one gives a perplexed look better than Uncle Ryan, Kybot (my godson-they are the same age plus or minus a year) always knows when I'm pulling his leg; he gives me a feigned gasp and laughs.  Not Uncle Ryan, he has a way of looking at you like you're trying to teach him trigonometry while speaking a foreign language.

"Why would I do that?"

Well, there's a good question.  "I guess that's true, she might think there was a mistake and give the tooth back."

"She didn't take the tooth."

Now I'm completely thrown.  Not only did the Tooth Fairy leave $5, she didn't even take the tooth.  I suppose it was my turn for the perplexed look.

Girly Girl screwed up her face and asked, "She can't!  It would be too heavy."

I didn't want to question the "weight" line of reasoning which is so very faulty; logically, if she can carry a bag of quarters big enough to replace all the teeth, she can carry the teeth she collects.

"Um" was really the best response that I could come up with.

"She's little."

"No she's not."  I jumped in, "the Tooth Fairy is as big as I am."

This of course elicited a terrified look so I had to add, "But she's VERY nice."

Uncle Ryan jumped in with, "and she never takes the teeth..."


"But she has to take the teeth.  She takes them back to her castle and keeps them in these giant cases and that's where all the magic comes from."

"What magic?"

This was not the perplexed look, this was now a look of doubt; like I was making this all up.  I'm having a conversation about the tooth fairy with a 9 and 3 year old and they are questioning the "facts" that I am giving them.  Why?  Because I used the word "Magic" and they know that there is no such thing as magic.  So, Tooth Fairy completely fits into their world-view as long as there is no magic involved...  this completely fascinates me!

So many wonderful things that fit neatly into the mythology of a child's mind...  

Baloney was wishing for a Fridge Fairy to clean her fridge and a Laundry Fairy to do her wash (this from someone who insists on ironing her sheets?)...

I began to wonder about these as compared to Santa or the Easter Bunny and thought that there really only has to be someone to grant the wish... ...and that perhaps, the real magic in the Tooth Fairy is not in the mind of the child, but in the heart of the parent.

Back to bed I go; wishing for the Employment Fairy to come and bring me a job.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The next time I go to a garage sale it won't be my own or "buddy can you spare a bag"

Two people, working for two solid weeks and cleaning up for a week afterward making $500...  let's just say that you won't get rich quick doing a garage sale - or at least I won't.  ...and, on top of it all, the people who come to garage sales are no "day in the park".  If it's marked $5 they want it for $1...  if it's marked $1 they want it for $.25...  what a pain!

...but that's not to say that some very funny things didn't happen.  HA!  The best story is one that I'm going to tell you backward...  but it makes me laugh in either direction...

So I give this little old man a plastic grocery bag and think to myself, "Gee, buddy, I would have just given you a bag if you had asked for one...."

Because he was standing there, wrapping the cord around the fountain, holding all the pieces and then he asked me, "Well, don't I get a bag?"

...but the only reason he needed a bag was because, after paying me 50 cents for the little table-top fountain, he took it out of the box (original box - complete with carrying handle) and cast the box aside saying, "Don't want.  Garbage."

We agreed on the price of 50 cents, for an item that had been marked $5, after he had been staring at the box for a good 10 minutes.

He was completely transfixed on the item even after his wife put it back in the box and walked away to look (disparagingly) at the rest of the stuff in the tent.

Once I had retrieved the box she took the little black fountain out of the box (and protective sleeve) after insisting that they be allowed to look at it in spite of my reluctance.

The box had to be retrieved because she spotted it behind several other boxes (a tea set, cookie tins, punchbowl) all of which were under an 8' folding table completely filled with even more stuff.

It was under a table because, when I'd opened it up that morning I realized that the fountain was badly broken and in several pieces, so I set it somewhere, hidden behind some other stuff, to throw away later.

...and the only reason I opened the box that 2nd morning of the garage sale was because I thought, "Oh, this is cute, I bet if I take it out of the box I'll be able to sell it..."

...and sell it I did...

You know, many years ago a woman asked her husband to make up a sign to let the neighbors know that she was selling some odds and ends from around the house.  When he saw what she was selling he decided to add some commentary to the sign and intended to write "GARBAGE SALE"...  He was so caught up in his own silliness that he did not realize that he had misspelled the word and the term "GARAGE SALE" was born...


Saturday, June 27, 2009

a bunch of lies... or "another load of Baloney"

So Baloney called me the other day and commented that I had not yet responded to her tagging me in a post.  "Oh Joy!" is more or less exactly what I thought, but when I started thinking about what the "tag" was asking me to do it sort of made me giggle - to be honest I've so depressed lately that nothing makes me giggle...

So here's the rub...  because one can learn so much about another person by the things that they make up, my assignment is to create fictional confessions for each of the seven deadly sins...  For the sake of you all knowing me better, here goes...


While I am certainly proud of many things I suppose that I am most proud that my life was the inspiration for the story of "Billy Elliott".  The writers took some severe liberties in order to make the story more interesting.  For instance, the location of the story was moved from rural New Jersey to coal-mining England; they added the part about the deceased mother (which I find very moving)...  they also changed my name (both to protect my privacy and because my name has no "ring" whatsoever).  oh, and the stuff about dancing was also added to broaden the appeal.  When I was told that there was talk of taking the story of my life from the big screen to the Broadway stage I was moved to such tears that, well, I'm sure you can imagine...


When I was working and had more money paying for a gym membership was a breeze.  When it became obvious that I needed to work out, I picked up a membership to a great fitness club during one of their "Sales" (which is a club's way of saying "we're not going to charge you for something we shouldn't charge you for in the first place").  I was cautioned (special note:the word "cautioned" uses every vowel) that starting a workout while I was so out of shape could be harmful - I might want to hire someone.  WHAT A GREAT IDEA!  I was making enough money to do that, so I did!  I hired a guy named Philip who trained four times a week.  At first I went to every session; he was really working and my muscles always ached the next day (vicariously, of course).  After a while, and none to few people asking Philip about the fat guy who sat around the gym while he worked out, well it just didn't seem to be having any effect on my body and I wondered if hiring someone to work out for me had been such a good idea after all...

The next two are easy!


Carol Channing!


I envy people who have children.


I just don't get angry - especially when I'm driving... on the highway... or behind school buses... or old people... or... most drivers are just STUPID!!!


This is something that no one knows.  I collect Precious Moments figures.  ...really, anything Precious Moments...  those little blonde, wide-eyed children make my heart break so I buy one whenever I see one.  I frequent local garage sales for them, chipped, broken it doesn't matter.  Because I don't want anyone to know I collect them, I throw them under the house into the crawl space.  I've managed to get just the right technique so that if you look into the crawl space you don't see them...  I'm pretty sure I have all the Christmas ones!!!  


This is the worst of all because I can't think of a lie that tops anything that I have actually done.  But this a great place to plug my new cookbook "Meals for Four that Two can Eat"!

I hope you feel like you know me better now...


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gee, that boy can dance..but we're seated...and there's no music

Being in touch with an old friend has been a true pleasure.  I found him on Facebook and we've had a chance to reconnect.  A recent email exchange really took me back... was 1993...  wow, I wasn't even 30 yet, but I was employed, I had a gym membership and four roommates in a three story Victorian house.

I was a regular at the gym and since I had very early commitments and very late commitments at the job I took very long lunches and worked out for hours at a time.  The best shape I have ever been in...

Juanito was one of my roommates.  He had been the manager of a video store and had a copy of nearly every movie that had ever been put on tape.  They lined the walls of his room in the house and he always had a movie playing...always...

Juanito and I had not been friends for very long and therefore did not have all the same friends - I'd known the other guys for a while and since we traveled in the same groups we knew all the same people...  so it was that he mentioned some girls he had met and a double date - was I interested?  I wasn't, I had recently split up with a fiance and well...  I said "Yes" anyway...

The date was set for a Saturday night - it was June - it was hot already...

I walked up to the gym from the house, got in a workout and headed home.  As I stood in the shower I was overcome by true insanity and, without explanation, decided to shave my chest.  I always kept a spare razor in the shower for the back of my neck and this was what I grabbed...  two scrapes and I was committed...  after four scrapes I was bleeding... after 10 scrapes I was late...

"We need to leave in 10 minutes!"


It was madness.  Madness.  As I hacked away at my (what was later referred to as perfectly furred) chest, I realized I was in no way prepared for the task at hand.  They don't teach about this in school - no one says to trim it all first (although these days does have video shorts on body grooming-they are actually funny to watch)  It took forever and I had to sneak to my room for another razor in the middle of it all...

"Are you almost ready?"


"You're still in the shower!"

I'm almost done" I lied...

...after nearly a half hour my chest looked like I had a body full of bird-shot - nicks and cuts all over my torso.  I didn't know if I should try the toilet paper trick (you know little pieces to stop the bleeding or whether it would stop)...  I stared into my closet...  searching for the right shirt - it didn't have to look good, it just had to hide the blood seeping out of the open wounds on my chest...  All I had was a VERY dark, silky thing which I slipped into and then a pair of jeans... we went...

"What's wrong?"

"What do mean?"

"You look uncomfortable..."

"I'm just stupid."

"For going on a double date?"


And uncomfortable I was...

I do not remember anything that happened on the date.  I couldn't tell you if the girls were pretty or friendly, I don't know if the food was good or if we ate or went to a movie.  I don't know where we even went... except that it was somewhere about 8 hours away and it took even longer to get home...

...I was uncomfortable...

Let's start with the shirt choice...  the silky shirt was catching on the razor stubble every time I moved.  I tried pulling my shoulders forward to make my shirt hang away from my chest, but it didn't work...  I sat holding the front of my shirt away from my chest, but realized that I must have looked weird, so I simply sat back and leaned forward so that my shirt hung free...

and the shirt was hot

and the jeans were hot

and I sweat...  I can't help it...

and worse than the shirt, was the jeans...  Jeans are meant to be worn tight...  I firmly believe that.  Not so tight that you get varicose veins in your neck, but snug...  and I was in great shape and had jeans that I had no business owning...  and they were warm and I had shaved my chest...

if you ever decide to shave your chest remember this one thing...  you need ample time...

you need time to shave - which takes forever 

and you need time to rinse - which takes as long as it takes...  

As you shave, the chest hair runs down your body and while most of it goes to the drain, some of it catches in other body hair, below the chest...

...I was running late - it was bad enough that I had to completely shave my chest (couldn't put off finishing until tomorrow) which no one was going to see, but I had not taken the time to rinse all the chest hair out of my crotch...

The sweat, the hair, the jeans, the heat...  I couldn't sit still, I couldn't scratch...

I went nearly mad.

..and the more I resisted scratching the more I sweated - which only compounded the problem.

Juanito never invited me on a double date again...

After all the trouble, well, I kept my chest shaved that whole summer - which was easy after that...

You know...  at 28 a guy is just too smart to know how stupid he really is, and I'm not too proud to say that I was no exception.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

That's "Mister" Silly to you or Betty Boop gets a new voice...

Driving along and realize that I'm on automatic pilot which always scares me, but it happens.  While I'm on automatic pilot I look in the top left corner of my windshield and think, "Hmm, I was due for an oil change in February..."  Now, being enumployed I don't log quite as many miles so I'm not so worried about the oil, but...

...the other night Cricket and I went to visit Shimp and Slinger and when I turned on my headlights (with a great flash and flourish) one of them became a supernova and then a black hole...  I don't know about you, but if I have a headlight out every cop within a 25 mile radius sees me coming and stops me...

(otherwise, I'd drive around for a while with one headlight just to give every jr hi boy looking for a pedittle a chance to get a kiss)

So, with one light out and well past due for an oil change I went to the car Spa...  I call it the car Spa because well, if my insurance covered it, I'd call it the car doctor, but since they don't it's more like a spa treatment.

Louie recommended this great place on Rte 10 that I actually have come to trust with my little VW.  I love my car, but boy-howdy does the dealership take me for all I'm worth when I take it in there.  I don't believe that I have EVER left the dealership without paying less than a Grand for whatever service I needed.

So I called and set up an appointment. 
-oil change, headlight, that's it... 
-great, thanks

Sure enough, I dragged myself in to the Spa in time for my appointment...  sure enough, my last name was on the white board...  I spoke with the nice girl at the counter, she asked if I had an appointment, I said I did... she checked, she asked for my last name a second time, said, "Oh" smiled "there you are.."

...yes, she smiled...  it was enough for me to notice, but not enough to have remarked about at the time...

So I waited...

What I was going to originally comment on about the visit was a conversation that happened between the owner - think Uncle Fester - and a guy - think John Bellushi...  Uncle Fester and John were having one of those conversations that men have about NOTHING and vying for the champion of world's loudest.  Uncle Fester has about 15 years on John and asks if John is even 40.

"Yes, I'm 46..."

He went on to say that when he turned 40 he felt great, but that the years between 40 and 46 had been unreal and that every morning he wakes up with a new pain.  He noticed that I had laughed and looked at me...

I simply said, "44" to which he nodded...

My car was pulled up the door at the same time that a man too old to be driving walked in the door and declared he wanted to buy tires.
-Which tires?
-For my car...

I laughed again, but the ensuing conversation was every bit as annoying as the earlier conversation.  "If I stand in line behind the old guy, they'll get the hint that I'm ready to go..." I thought...  So, I stood behind him and started to look around the place. 

...and there it was on the white board, how had I missed it...

10AM - VW - Oil change/headlight

and before it...  Ms "____".

Ms?  What? Ms?  Do I sound like a Ms?

I'm relatively confident that I do not look like a Ms, but I do NOT think I sound like one either...  I was miffed - maybe more than I should have been...

Is this why counter girl smiled?
Do I sound like a Ms on the phone?
Was it because I was free at 10AM to bring my car in?
Was it because I couldn't change my own oil or headlight?
Was the staff secretly watching me and laughing?
What if someone I knew walked in there, knowing that I had an appointment and saw Ms before my last name? I'd never live it down...  UGH...

Counter girl came up to the counter to help me.  Looks like you're all ready.  "Yup" I said, dropping my voice a full octave.  Of course, having dropped my voice, she couldn't hear me and looked up asking, "I'm sorry?"

I was tempted to reach over and smudge the "Ms" before I left but I knew that if no one else had caught it, a smudge would be a dead giveaway and THEN there'd be a story...  Nope... I hopped in my little car and drove off...

Knowing that there are people out there who I can call at any point in time, who would recognize my voice tho it's been years since I've seen them, people who would never call me "Ms..."

Note to self:  The next time I call for an appointment at the Spa I'll drop my voice and start with "Hey, Buddy..." and not "Hi..."

Hopefully, they won't think I'm Rosie O'Donnell...

- (Mr.) silly

Friday, May 29, 2009

some more celadon

As you can tell from some of the comments, Wolf is not a fan of the celadon glaze I chose for the most recent group of pieces I made...  I, on the other hand, think it's one of those glazes that is a lovely canvas.  Francine uses the celadons for most of her stuff and does a great deal of embellishment.  I'm not one to adorn the piece as much as use the piece for the right thing.  For instance, a vase is meant to hold flowers, I like them simple so that they cooperate with the flower to make a pretty combination.  Peonies are my fave flower and I really think they ae lovely with the blue green of the vase.

Here are some photos of my latest stuff...

 All this and a big Happy Birthday to Louie today!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Peonies in Bloom

No special title today, but I wanted to share some new photos.  Linus shared an idea a few months back that was a short, shallow dish with a metal frog in the bottom for flowers...  the frog helps the flowers stand up straight...  so when I was working I wondered how successful I'd be at making a pot with a lid, a lid with a single narrow hole that would hold the flower up...  These are not at all what Linus suggested, but I'm pleased with how they came out.

I have been calling them my "peony pots" for a few months now and was getting rather worried that I would not have them in time for when the peonies bloomed and yet (thanks to Francine and some cooler than usual weather) I got them just in time.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crack! It's what's for dessert or "Oh, Crap!"

When I heard that we were putting together a surprise birthday party for Johnny Schenks for his 40th I was all in.  I declared that I would make the cakes.  After much thought, questioning and consideration I decided to make a white cake, a carrot cake and a chocolate cake.  (Stand in awe of my creativity!)  OK, I admit it, they were some very safe choices, but in my own defense I have some fantastic recipes for some very basic cakes...and let's face it, the classics (which are classic for a reason) are so poorly done these days by the mass producers of baked goods that a really good classic is almost like coming home.  Come on, if it isn't angel food cake then it shouldn't be light and airy, it should be dense and moist...  I labor on, but you get my point.

I'm still enumployed so I spent Wednesday fetching everything I needed for a major bake-off on Thursday.  On Thursday I made my cakes...  they were all perfect.  Once they were cooled through to the core, I wrapped them up and stored them away in a cooler that we got a few years ago.  The cooler is big enough to bury a Jr Hi kid in and was just the right place for the cakes (someone bought a side by side fridge that isn't big enough to put a turkey in).  The cakes were safe and sound in the cooler.

Friday came and I began the ordeal of decorating.  I started with the dark chocolate ganache because it takes over an hour to set-up (if it sets up too quickly it's to hard to frost a cake with and has to be eaten with soup spoons - this isn't a bad thing, but I didn't have the ingredients for two batches).  Then the cream-cheese icing, into which I put crystalized ginger chunks (a nice addition but to be honest the punch of the ginger was not strong enough to compensate for the fact that it looked like there were boogers in the icing).

Cricket was running errands so I asked for a box to put the white cake in and a board to carry it on.  I got just what I had asked for, but it wasn't until I put the cake on the board that I realized it just didn't rise high enough to slice and add a layer of lemon curd (which I was already in the process of making).  I had borrowed Louie's half sheet layer cake pan and used a double batch of white cake to fill it...  So, I made another double batch of white cake to create my second layer.

I made the dam of icing around the edge of the bottom layer filled the dam with lemon curd and then stared at it trying to figure how on earth I was going to plop the second layer on top without causing the lemon to squirt out the sides...  In Classic Cricket style the response was simply, "Gee, I don't know..."and I promptly found myself alone in the room.  What to do???

Now, on a separate occasion my mom had suggested that I cut a cake in half to facilitate the ease of moving and manipulating it once it was iced no one would be the wiser.  I thought this was a terrible idea, because it seemed to me that the cake would pull apart when it was moved, but now that I had all this cake to work with it seemed like a great idea.  I cut the cake into two pieces, managed to find a way to lay them in the appropriate spots on the filling without it gushing out and pulled the icing from the fridge where it had gotten as hard as a rock.

I'm a stickler about icing so I'd used a block of butter and almost five pounds of powdered sugar to make a vat of butter cream (I have an easy recipe that never fails me and tastes pretty good) [sometime I'll tell you about the time Linus, who knew I was bringing to a party a batch of cupcakes with my white icing, made a white cake himself with his own white icing just to see whose icing would win in a taste competition]  So, I had two Gladware containers full of icing that I had to get to the right temp to be spreadable on a freshly baked, mostly cooled cake.

I iced it.  It was good.

I piped a turquoise border around the cake.  It was pretty.

I wrote out the lettering with a meat thermometer and then piped it in.  It was nice.

I took the bottom out of a styrofoam cup and used the cup as a funnel/stencil for small circles of colored sanding sugar on the top of the cake.  It was finished.

Of the completed cake Cricket said, "it's gorgeous..." , and it was.

We loaded the chocolate and carrot cakes into Cricket's SUV,  I packed up a triage kit in case I need to re-pipe some of the stars around the egde of the big cake, and I climbed into the car holding the cake, on a board, in its box, on my lap...

...and I'm in Jersey...

...and the pot holes are monstrous...

and as we drove I watched the cake.  Sometimes resting it on my lap, sometimes serving as a shock absorber, I carried this thing...

..and I watched it happen, just like I would have guessed that it would happen.  First the icing appeared to have been stretched on the far side of the cake, then it split and the gap began to open.  the blue stars on the far side of the cake began to sink into the crack.  "Birthday" became "B    irthday".


Cricket looks over.

"I can't believe it..."

Cricket looks over.

"Surprise, for your birthday you get an all expense trip to the Grand Canyon."

Cricket laughs.  "Can't you fix it?"

I began to wonder why, if Cricket was so blind, I was not the one who was driving. "NO!"

"Well, it will still taste delicious."

"Great!  Close your eyes and blow out your candles and keep em closed until I have a chance to cut this mess into squares."

I had worked the entire day on something that would "still taste good".  Oh, Yea! for me...

We got there as the continental divide happened on Pangea.

I brought the cake to the kitchen in the basement and stared at it.  Louie responded to my distress text and said I should just fill the crack in with icing...  I said that I couldn't fill the grand canyon with one truckload of dirt... 

I came up with a Plan B and decided that I wouldn't stress, but enjoy the party.

As we stood in line for the dinner buffet Wgeoff bent over (he's 6'8) and said to me, "Did you see the cake down stairs?  What a mess!  they spent all that money on a cake when they could have had you make one that would probably have tasted better; even if it wasn't decorated as nice."

Call me crazy, but this was one of the highest compliments of the night; he had mistaken my cake for a professional cake gone wrong!  I couldn't have been happier...

When it was all said and done I piped a big "40" on the carrot cake and called it "decorated" - thats' where the candles went and it was lovely...

...and Cricket was right, even with a crack right down the middle, the white cake filled with lemon curd and frosted with white lemon butter cream icing was still delicious.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Don't put words in my mouth or "even my phone punishes me for having fat fingers"

The thing that I find most amazing about texting with my I-Phone is not simply that I can do it, which is a miracle on so many levels.  Truly, it is a miracle both that there is a device I hold in my hand which will send a message to my sister deep in the woods and because I (the techno-challenged) have actually figured out how to do it.  Nonetheless, what stuns me is that my phone tries to figure out what word I'm typing as I type it.  Every text is like Wheel of Fortune as I start the letters of a new word l-i-t-e (it guesses "lie", then "little" and finally "literature")... and that is just the word I'm sending.  (Ok, so I don't send the word "literature" often, but you get the idea).

My niece has mastered this on a phone that does not give her a key board (something my I-phone has).  Like most texters she uses the numbers to somehow send a message and they get there...  ...and she knows just how to push a couple buttons so that the phone can guess what word she wants to send.  I am amazed.  Her texts are not only decipherable; they are coherent.

And so it is that late last night I received a message from my friend Schmi saying, "I'm dirty I didn't come to your show."

...then a follow-up message saying "OMG I mean sorry"

This kind of thing used to be called a freudian slip, and to be honest, had she been standing and talking with me saying aloud that she was dirty that she didn't come to my show (only to apologize that she meant sorry) , I'd have thought something along the freudian lines.

...but I know this, Schmi also has an I-phone.

You see the I-Phone will guess words as you are typing and if you don't tell it specifically that you don't want that word it will simply over-ride you.  One might think that with D being next to S Schmi typed D instead and I-Phone started looking for D-words, but that's far too simple an explanation.

It's really gremlins with a two-fold purpose.

Their first purpose is to completely humiliate us by sending words in messages that make no sense whatsoever.  Schmi caught her mistake - I never ever catch mine.  Most often when I text the receiver wonders, not that I have two masters, but that I even have all my marbles.  the classic response from Wolf is.  "Um what?"

The second part of their purpose is to lull us into a world where we do not have to talk to anyone.  I have friends with whom I chat regularly, but to whom I have not spoken in months.  They don't pick up the phone (answer), they retrieve my message and send a text. "Sorry you're so depressed, hope it's better soon"

On Saturday I received a text from my niece who was coming to my show.  She needed directions.  I started a text back and sent it both before it was finished and before it was proof-read.  So I started another text with directions and the most amazing thing occurred to me - I could actually call her and speak the directions - this method worked beautifully; she got lost, but that wasn't my fault.  


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Saturday's show

Cricket came home last night from pottery class (lessons are at the studio where the gallery is) and said that a woman who came to the show on Saturday stopped back last night to buy the small casserole dish (if it hadn't already been sold).  


What a success the show was.  I didn't keep track of the number of people that came through; the crowd was mostly made up of friends, tho a few people who saw a note in the local paper's calendar section stopped in to check it out.

I asked any of my friends who purchased pieces to leave them for the duration of Saturday's show so that those who came late could see my work.  We marked the bottom of anything that was sold with a sticker.  At one point, a guest complained that everything she picked up and looked at was already sold.  To ease this frustration, Cricket ran around and put stickers on the rim of everything that was sold - it wasn't until then that I realized just how many pieces had sold and it actually caused some of the folks that had been hanging with us for the day to grab the pieces they wanted.  A neighbor walked around with a bowl under one arm and a vase under the other.

Francine, my pottery teacher, was there and it was a special satisfaction to have her see and compliment the show.

-You know what this means, she said to me.

-What's that?

-Now you have to make more!  

We laughed. (I actually do have half a dozen stoneware bowls in the works already.) 

I couldn't have done it without Cricket who worked so very hard all day!

Here are some pictures: 

the three free standing shelves that I filled comprised "the show" 
there are also some shots of groups of the pieces
one funny thing to remember is that everything is glazed in the same glaze

it really was a great day - most of the work sold, which completely shocked me.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Everybody is somebody's dinner or "No more prime-rib flavored soap"

Sunday evening was a lovely time with a couple friends of ours.  Mrs.D is in Cricket's pottery class where they became fast friends - what a pair!  So, when she and Mr.D invite us for drinks, dinner or an evening with friends, we always go.  He's a great cook and she pours a mean glass of wine.

Well, this past Sunday was a lot of things: it was post-exam for me; it was post-tax season for Mr.D; it was an art show at a local charity for Mrs.D - and Cricket is always up for some fun...  We went together to the art show and perused the stuff that was being sold.  Some of it was very good and some of it was student work.  Mr.D asked me about a few pieces of pottery and whether I thought they were any good.  I tried to be discreet when I answered because I learned a long time ago that if you don't know who the artist is and you make a negative comment about the piece then the odds are very good that the person standing beside you is going to turn out to be the artist.  (I'm having a t-shirt made up for my pottery show that reads, "I'm the artist, please wait until I walk away to insult my work.")

Mrs.D, well, she picked up a few pieces and exclaimed, "I could make this with my eyes closed!"  Mr.D cringed, but to her credit, she actually could have made those pieces with her eyes closed...

...and dinner was lovely...

Mr.D taught me how to make risotto.  I've grown very leery of it because Gordon Ramsey is so very picky about it.  I've figured that it must be hard; it's not. 

Dinner was rotisserie chicken with a pancetta risotto and steamed spinach...  we started with a great bruschetta that had a drizzled balsamic reduction and a very nice Riesling...

...and their dog started licking my leg...

...and she licked my leg...

and she licked my leg...  it tickled something fierce and I couldn't keep myself from laughing.

They were mortified, but every effort to keep her from me was futile.  They got her a prime rib bone that she carried across the deck and left in the corner, only to come back to my leg.  they gave her squeaky toys and rubber balls to roll around the floor that were all taken back to their appropriate places after which she would come back and start licking my leg...  I didn't know if I should be flattered or whether I should expect her to take a bite out of my shin (which she never did.)

They picked her up and held her on their laps while they ate only to have her wriggle down and come back to "her dinner".  Attempts to put her inside only lead to her whining inside the patio door and scratching at the floor and glass...   ...all the while I was howling with laughter.  You see, I knew that at some point it would stop; at some point whatever flavor I had managed to get on my leg would be used up - I was right...  to the relief of our hosts she disappeared...  only to come back and start to work on my other leg.

After dinner we moved inside and had a flourless chocolate cake I'd made (there is a very simple recipe on that never fails)...  we stood around the island in the kitchen while Cricket and Mrs.D picked out colors for a new garage door.  (I don't get involved in picking colors - I was TOLD that I had to help pick colors a while ago and when anyone actually comments that they like the color of the one room that I chose they get a look from Cricket as if they have no taste whatsoever...  

...and speaking of taste...

Still! inside, the dog continued to wear away the hair on my leg... 

As always, we had a nice time.

As expected, I came home and showered.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Off-Line for a few days

Hi folks, just so you know, I'll be off-line this week as a prepare to take the Praxis exam on Saturday...

I'll be back after that...


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Here she is boys!!!

So I got my pieces from the studio on Thursday and spent yesterday getting some photos of them to use on the gallery web-site and for some promotional material for my show in May.  It was quite a site to see me outside with my i-phone and a huge piece of blue taffeta draped over the picnic table trying to get some decent shots.  I even had a raccoon that came to see what I was doing.

Cricket got a good laugh at my technique, but photographer or not, I'm pretty satisfied with the results... here are some photos of my work.

Parade of mugs...

Parade of mugs: Behind the scenes

scalloped rimmed bowl

teapot:short dark and handsome

teapots at odds
the Casseroles have a guest for dinner

large bowl with crawling

some jugs

some jugs: behind the scenes
bowl of fire

the pieces have some really good effects on them...  

I'm very happy!~


Friday, April 17, 2009

All fired up...

What an exciting day I had yesterday!  I had the opportunity to open the kiln with Francine and unload my work from the past year!  Attached are the photos I took as we worked; they don't really do justice to the pieces and I will most likely take some individual shots of some of my favorite pieces.  Remember, not all of the work is mine... there are a quite a few pieces that Wolf hand-built, many tea bowls that were made by Francine and M&M and some bowls/pieces of AmySu's...

These two large bowls are mine...  Cricket thinks they look like leather...
These two large bowls are also mine, and the globe-shape mug in the middle (that's my mug shape - you'll see 8 of them...

Back left is a planter of mine, back right is my first tea pot and a small jar next to it, and a mug...

three of my bowls and a mug...
two large bowls and my large casserole dish...

The full back half of the kiln...

(now you have to look in the foreground) a flat bowl of mine, small casserole and two small bowls

a couple of the small bowls are mine...
this is the full kiln when we opened the door...

It was such a great experience!  Hope you enjoy...


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wolf Games (a three for Thursdays)

Wolf complained last week that there was no Three for Thursday post, so in his honor...  Wolf Games...

Wolf and I have been friends for many years now, we first met when I was playing the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, but didn't really get to know each other until one night a few years back when a group of us were all going to meet up and only he and I showed...  we spent the evening drinking vodka and cranberry and laughing about the madness involved in keeping the friends that we keep...  I had vacationed with these friends (you know the type, the ones that have to do everything en-masse and as prescribed by the most passive-aggressive member of the party) and convinced Wolf to come along.  Thereafter he and I vacationed sans drama and with some other friends from Chicago...  on these long trips we came up with a few games...

The first was: Jewish Mother - Protestant Mother...  This game has certain rules, foremost is that you must always respect your opponent's mother.  With that said, one's own mother is fair game and the competition is to simply prove that your own mother is more adept at doling out guilt, neurosis, over-care etc than your opponent's mother.  We are pretty evenly matched.  

The second game is:  Axis...  In this game one must demonstrate, beyond any doubt, that they are the Axis and that the world does (in fact) revolve around them.  Wolf is a master of this game and has been playing it longer than we have been friends, but has perfected his strategy in our time together - holding his left index finger stationary he says "this is me" he then orbits his right index finger around it saying "this is the world... it's just that simple"...  When he gets there, I know I'm beaten.

The last game is:  Pet the dog - pet the owner...  a very fun game to play when on vacation because people always have dogs...  it's played like this.  As a dog and owner approach one player calls out "Dog" or "Owner".  Then you engage in conversation and the person who ended up with dog has to pet the dog and the person who ended up with owner has to (somehow) pet the owner...  of course, either player can beg out of the competition depending on just how ferocious the dog is and the body odor of the owner.  I have to admit that Wolf has been a fierce competitor; we've met some nasty dogs and some seedy owners...

Ok, so they're not games that Milton Bradley could market, but you get to a point where you know your friends just so well that one word or two will engage them in what can become a hilarious interchange...


"Yup, ME!"


"My mother..."


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ya-Wanna??? or "Full Nest Syndrome"

I was probably about 10 years old and had gone next door for a birthday party.  When Mrs Rossi asked if I wanted a piece of cake, I responded, "Sure!"

"What's the magic word?" was her response...

I was confused; first she asked if I wanted a piece of cake and now there was a magic word.  This was not a game that I had learned to play...

"Abracadabra?" I guessed...

Everyone chuckled.  She was not amused.

Freddy (who was 4) whispered to me, "it's 'yes, please'..."

Now I was really confused.  Why did she want me to say "please" when she had asked me about the cake?  I remember thinking that (if this was how the game was played) my initial response to her should have been,

"Mrs Rossi, don't you mean to say, 'would you please like a piece of cake' "?

This response would have gotten me a one-way ticket home, it would have pleased my mother to no end tho she would have had to proceed with the obligatory chastising and (the worst part) I'm certain that it would have meant no-cake.

Whether or not it is appropriate to teach another mother's children manners through deceit is still in question.  I was taught manners by a 2x4; something my oldest sister had decorated for Mom.  She painted "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child" on a 2 foot piece of 2x4, drilled a hole in it for a leather strap and presented it to Mom as a Mother's Day gift; Mom hung it in the kitchen for years until it was broken on one of us (I don't recall who, but I think it was my brother).  

I do think of myself as being well-mannered (you would be too), but on Easter Sunday I realized something that had never occurred to me before; my family does not know how to say "Please".  It is completely outside of the vocabulary.  "Please" has been replaced by the phrase "Ya-Wanna".

It sounds like this:

Ya-Wanna grab me a platter.
Ya-Wanna slice the ham.
Ya-Wanna get a different chair.
Ya-Wanna pass me the pickled eggs (that's a whole other story).
Ya-Wanna clear the table...

I'd put a question mark, but it's never a question; it's directive...

A question mark would imply a question (I'm a smart one) and a question would require an answer...  and the answer would most likely be... "No, I don't wanna..."  However, my response has become, "I will..."  which is the short version, of "Well, I don't necessarily want to, but yes, I will do that for you".

I can't explain to you why it bothered me so much.

Perhaps it was because Friday night had been drama-free.  Yup, we had been together Friday night to celebrate mom's birthday and the drama hadn't come to the party...  I think it was off somewhere recruiting other drama to come for Easter dinner.  ..and sure enough, drama found some friends and came for lunch...  ugh and yuck!

The most likely reason for my short fuse on Sunday was "the nest".  When the household whittled down to fewer people the family decided to quit making Easter baskets and start making what they refer to as "the nest".  Now, you've pictured a robin's nest that is the size of your hands if you cup them together, right?!   Wrong.  Think more in terms of a pterodactyl nest, enough chocolate to supply a small town in Switzerland.   ...and since we weren't planning to eat lunch until 3ish (complicated by the fact that I had skipped breakfast) I decided to raid the nest.  Sugar in any guise will have horrible results when I consume it on an empty stomach.  In fact, if you met me for the first time when I was "on-chocolate" you would seriously question that I was the person who referred to himself as "Silly"...  Cricket gives me an easter basket, but fills it with "Stuff", not with sugar (This was a very valuable lesson to have learned)...

Maybe the distaste for the phrase has just been brewing for so very long...

...whatever the reason, who knows...

Beestro, on the other hand, says neither "Please" nor "Ya-Wanna"...  

His approach is simple; "Food or death, I will remain here, under your feet, until such a time as either a) you feed me or b) you trip over me and break your neck.

Oddly enough, in all of life, the only people who seem to say "please" any more are telemarketers, and I hang up on them.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stacked and ready, but not quite fired...

Many of you have asked for pictures of my work so I took some shots yesterday while working with Francine... we had a great time...

It was a bright, sunny spring day and we moved piece after piece from the studio to the kiln outside.  You had to be an observer to catch where I found the humor of the day, but there was plenty...  

This is the back of the kiln half full.
This is the back of the kiln full to the ceiling.

This is the kiln full, front and back...

I learned a lot! 

Loading a kiln is not unlike working a puzzle or loading a moving van (which is also like working a giant 3-D puzzle).

As you might guess, I'm very excited to see how it all turns out...  Not all of the work in the kiln is mine; Wolf, Louie, Francine, M&M and AmySu all have a number of pieces firing...

I'm hopeful (smile) that the next photos I have to share will be of some really cool pots!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Uncle's Advice or "You've got to be Carefully taught"

I've said before that I have never wanted children of my own and every once in a while I am reminded the reasons why I should not be a parent...

Yesterday was mom's 75th birthday and her first to spend without dad after 55 years of marriage.  Lil'sis decided to make the trek with her kids for the occasion, both to celebrate and console.

As you could guess from all my earlier posts, family gatherings include food of mythical proportions.  You never know when 100 uninvited guests might show and you simply have to have food for all of them.    

I made two cakes for the event:  a walnut torte with  maple whipped cream icing and a lemon poppy seed cake that got 4 forks on  I'm a big fan of for a number of reasons; you can find so many recipes on there, the recipes are rated and you can read reviews of the recipes, some of which give you tips on improving the recipe.  

I find myself laughing at the tips, especially when they seem to take the recipe off into a tangental direction.  While a recipe for a cheesecake might tell you that they cut the sugar from 1c to 3/4c, another recipe for lo-fat chicken in lemon sauce will suggest that you replace the chicken with beef - saute it in butter first - and replace the lemons with habanero peppers...  

I usually just look to make sure that the recipe has more than 10 reviews and more than 3 forks...  as far as I'm concerned - you can't go wrong with these recipes.  

And so it is that I showed up with two cakes - one that was made with two sticks of butter and another that used a full dozen eggs and was slathered in whipped cream...  If I could make desserts for a living and know that people would buy them and that I'd be able to pay the bills, I'd actually consider it...  but it's a hobby...

For the occasion, Louie bought 20lbs of cold cuts (mom asked for something low-brow given Easter is Sunday and two sit-down meals back to back seemed over the top) and we made all the fixin's for picnic food to go with the sandwiches... add to it all, Noop brought a plate of veggies and Magoo's girlfriend brought platter of sliced fruit.

There was a lot of food.

I spent much of the afternoon with Sparrow trying to figure out how a boy of his age could look at a little furry creature and pull a trigger to pop it full of lead; he seems so normal otherwise.  

Too much time with a child and I start to feel parental, but I'm not good at it.

I think it happens to all of us.  We see a child heading for an electrical outlet and we want to tell them "No".  A child starts to run around the pool and we say, "No running..."  "Be careful...  watch out...  stay in your seat..."  It's ingrained in us.  I'm not the person who could look at a child who was learning to ride a bike and say, "If you peddle a little harder you might get down that hill faster..." or "I bet the big old pit bull would love to play tug of war with that bone...", but I lack where others excel.

So here I am, hanging with Sparrow, tossing bean bags in the back yard, bowling on the Wii (his Wii hates me too) and suddenly it's time to eat...  
we move into the kitchen, 
everyone grabs a plate, 
we pray together, 
as I begin to load my plate he starts to nibble,
I make a sandwich,
Sparrow pops a little carrot in his mouth,
load up the mac salad on my plate,
takes a piece of cucumber,
grab a few deviled eggs,
he grabs some mellon and celery,
Jello salad,
Red pepper slices,

And then, the wisdom of the ages kicks in and showing all of the wonderful parenting skills I have developed over the years in watching other people, I say to him,

"Don't fill up on the vegetables..."

Now, I could very easily have said, "Don't eat from the platter" or "put some on a plate and come sit down...", but , well...  that was not at all what I meant...

In some sick way I was actually concerned that he'd eat too many veggies, too much fruit... 

...spoil his dinner with fiber and nutrients and forego the four basic food groups:
With those three magic words lil'sis proved that she's a better parent than I could ever be, "GET A PLATE!"...  ...and then shot me a look; one that I have come to refer to as "the Kevork" because of its power to put you out of her misery.

...but you see, I don't need to work on my parenting skills...  I need to perfect my uncling skills...  As far as I'm concerned, who better to teach you bad habits than those who love you most...

On the eighth day God created Uncles and while they weren't necessarily "good" they weren't necessarily bad either...  ...and they sure were a whole lot more fun.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Baloney Wednesdays (the day we met) or "Don't think of me as a stalker just because I'm thoughtful"

Holy Cow!  Can it have really been 5 years ago that I met Baloney?  I guess it can. 

For some reason, all day today, I've been thinking that it's been about that long.  She is the one who challenged me to regularly blog here; you have her to thank...

...and this is how our friendship was forged...

Our Mutual Friend (not the Dickens novel), the yoga clown, came to my desk one day and let me know that there was a new person in the group.

"We should go meet her..." she insisted.


"Because she's new.  We could be the welcome committee."

"Doesn't she have work to do?"

"Probably not yet."

"Don't you have work to do?"


"Yeah, lots...  well, I have work to do."

...and yet I went along...

She was nice, although, like me, confused as to why the yoga clown had dragged me up there to meet her.  They had met earlier in the day, (which I did not know) so this was purely an introduction which would be followed by a "what do you think" session.  

Her most distinguishing characteristic was this; she held her hand in front of her face... the whole time we talked.  

I've been told I have a stunning smile, but this was going overboard.

I checked my breath to be sure that it wasn't stale from lunch and then noticed that she had a cold-sore.  I assured her that I get them all the time and that she need not worry that I'd think anything about it whatsoever.  

The conversation went like any one of those between you and someone you'd just been forced to meet and consisted much of the insidious drive she had to make each morning to get to work.

I liked her.
I felt sorry for her (cold sores hurt and long drives to work hurt even more)

What happened that night put me on her list of "The Strangest People I know who are still considered friends".  I went to the A&P to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner - half for me and half for Fernando who could smell it from a mile away and who would turn his nose up at the Fancy Feast if I was picking apart a chicken - I gave in to him just so he didn't trip me up, causing me to break my neck.  As I passed the pharma aisle I thought about Baloney and decided to pick her up a tube of Herpecin DL (it's this cold sore med I use).

So, right now you're thinking, "Gee guy, what you don't know about women could fill a 200 terabyte server."

I sat with Tony that next morning (her cube was right next to his) and when she arrived I paraded into her cube,

"I picked this up for you!"


"It's great!"


"I use it all the time!"

"Umm, gee, thanks..."

You know, nothing says "Let's be friends" quite like a tube of cold-sore salve.

Sometimes in life you have those "What was I thinking" moments (I have enough for me and a whole Roman Catholic family)...  and those moments are what color our lives and serve as a reminder to the people with whom we share our time on Earth that locks were created for a reason...

I still get teased about it and when I do, I simply hold my hand up in front of my face like Gloria Swanson and we laugh until the Diet Pepsi comes out our noses...


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On Kutner's death or "a better yesterday"

So, I don't like to write too much on TV shows.  Yeah, I'll mention Top Chef and Big Fat Loser from time to time, but they serve as fodder...  What's funny is that I didn't even have a TV for a VERY long time...

I'm a big "House" fan.  The characters, the story lines, the thoughts about life...  House himself is a terrific portrayal of "man without filter"...  blah, blah, blah...  And last night's episode came as such a shock to me - the suicide of one of the characters.  Completely unforeshadowed, out of the blue and not unlike the way it happens when we lose someone...  week after week the man is in the show and then he's gone...

Most of you know, I lost my dad in January.  He was in the hospital for a month and I am thankful for being unemployed because it gave me the freedom to spend more time with him than I would have been able to spend had I been working.  When I left him on his birthday, I kissed him goodbye, he told me he loved me and said, "I'll see ya..."  The next morning he was gone...

When I was writing scripts I wrote a short one about a guy working to get his girl back.  The language was rough and I never really worked the script into much of anything.  He went on and on to her about everything he would do if she would come back to him, promise after promise...  she finally spoke and said that there was only one thing she wanted from him...  "anything..." he answered...  it would be hard...  "anything" he answered...  she wanted this,

"I want you to change the past."

In movies, you can do that...  in life, you can't...

You can't re-choose.
You can't un-say.
You can't...

Without beginning to expound on faith and afterlife I can only boil it down like this... 

I want today to be the best yesterday that it can be when tomorrow comes.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Tweet Season on my Mind or "Polly's ghost wants a cracker"

Cricket and I are prone to collecting.  I've mentioned before that I have a love for Royal Doulton character jugs and for Wally birds...  for the most part these are pieces I've picked up here and there and on-line, at one point I pretty much depleted my life-savings on Ebay.  (I assure you that it never was a lot of money)... it's been a fun hobby...

Cricket on the other hand has been collecting bird cages.

Now, for those of you that don't know, there is a substantial difference between the size of a bird cage and that of a character jug.  Most of the cages stand taller than I do and, while they are lovely, take up a fair amount of space.  

"Why is the china cabinet out on the porch?"

"Oh, I got a new bird cage."

"Umm, the fridge is on the front lawn..."

"Oh, I got a new bird cage."

"Where's the piano?"

"Oh, I got a new bird cage."

It works like this because we keep our addictions private... When a small box shows up, I check that it's mine and off I go to a private place where I can open it and check the item.  Once I've determined that it's what I ordered, I find a place for it in "the cabinets".  (The cabinets are two 9', floor to ceiling, shelving units that house my collection)...  I've been unemployed so the collection has been relatively stagnant these past few months...

Of course, when a bird cage shows up it is a different story altogether.  These things have stands and bases and are simply enormous...  Several have shown up and had to be lowered into the house by crane.

But a week or so ago a small box showed up... just the right size for a toby.  It wasn't addressed to me; I didn't open it.  (I hoped that it was a present for my birthday or something)

Two days later, as I'm pouring a cup of coffee, I see it; a cookie jar shaped like a simple bird cage with parakeets...  it's pretty...

"Oh, this is what was in that box that came..."

"Yeah, it's a cookie jar."

"I see that.  Does this mean I have to make some cookies?"

"If you want to," lifting the cookie jar.


"It's also a music box."

...the music plays...

...and the music is, well... it's creepy.

I agree that a good many music boxes are creepy.  As they age it only gets worse; the music plays slower and slower.  I had one that my grandparents gave me that played the "Little Drummer Boy"; in reality it played the first phrase of "Little Drummer Boy".  You know:

"Come, they told me, Pah Rum Pah Pum Pum" over and over...and over.  

When you're a child you don't long for the resolution of the whole song, so, the one phrase doesn't drive you up the wall.  I would wind it up and let it play and play and play and play.  I enjoyed it so much that Mom decided that it should be put away with all the other "Christmas stuff"...  years later I found it buried in the linen cabinet...

Bean once bought my little sis a Christmas nutcracker that played (of all things) "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes".  Like I say, "There are some things that should never be made; there some things that are made that should never be bought; those things that should never have been made and never have been bought should never, ever, be given to your wife for Christmas."

Enough deeply nested tangent...

I expected the bird cage cookie jar to play any of various tunes that music boxes play such as "The Happy Wanderer", "Over the Rainbow", "Feed the Birds" even...  but not a funeral march...  the slow plinking music in a minor key is haunting and disturbing.  

If Uncle Fester from the Addams Family had an ice cream truck... 
If all the children in "Oliver Twist" went back to the work house at the end of the movie...
If Tim Burton were to recreate the Sound of Music in claymation...

...this is what the music would sound like...

...and so, there it sits on the counter; the haunted cookie jar.  It is old, old, old and remembers all the times it's been wound in the past and plays a stray note just when you've recovered from the last time it played.

My guess is that when the cookie jar is filled the weight of the cookies keeps the music from playing.  As each cookie is taken from the jar the weight decreases until it is light enough for the funeral march to start playing...  

The more I thought about this, the more it made sense to me.

I'm having a music box installed on the fridge door later in the week...  I should be ready for my swimsuit in no time...