Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mmmmm ... TV ...

You know what sucks? Summer colds. You know what also sucks? Killer period cramps. Experiencing them both in the same week is ultra sucky. And yet, this week was somehow extraordinarily tolerable. For that, I thank television.

As you may have noticed, the summer Olympics have been airing on TV for the past 2 weeks. I have always loooooved the Olympics. It is my crack. An addiction that rears its ugly head every 2 years. I don't give a rat's ass about most sports, but when the Olympics come around, it seems that nothing else in my life matters. I cannot explain it. The summer Olympics are especially bad because there are so many more categories of competition. It can be a major time suck. So this year I was going to try to resist. I didn't even watch the opening ceremonies (Tim and I went out for cake instead). My will power did not last for long, though. The siren song of men's gymnastics pulled me in and, dammit all, I got hooked. Again. I watched for hours and hours and got so emotionally involved that I actually made myself sick to my stomach with worry. Tim is not as interested in the Olympics, but he politely watched with me during our evening meals. We rooted for a Cuban runner together. And we noticed that volleyball players are the most affectionate people on the face of the earth (Seriously. If you're ever feeling lonely, just join a volleyball team. Group hugs every 2 minutes at the very least). Luckily, the Olympics are ending this weekend & my addiction will fade away for another 2 years.

But the Olympics are not enough for me. Oh no. I have additional televised addictions, too.

1. Mad Men
Smart, subtle, slick, & sadistic. Soooooo good. My cable system has all of the old episodes available to watch for free on an On Demand channel. I watched the entire first season in 2 days & I eagerly anticipate each new episode. It's sick. It's wrong. It's fabulous.

2. Project Runway
The gang this season is a bit meh, but I'm hooked anyway. At least Tim Gunn has been marvelous. "You tell her you've been to a different rodeo!" Thanks, Mr. Gunn! I'll do that!

3. Gene Kelley movies
Turner Classic Movies aired a Gene Kelley movie marathon the other day. I watched 6 of his movies. In a row. He was a pretty crap singer, but he made dancing look masculine & powerful. Love!

And last but certainly not least ...
4. Gilmore Girls
Do not call me between 5-6pm eastern time on weekdays. Just don't. If you do, I probably won't answer the phone. That's because I'm watching Gilmore Girls. Back when the show originally aired my brother, Ray, told me over and over and over again about it and how I should really really try watching Gilmore Girls sometime. I didn't pay attention to him then. Well, I'm paying attention now ... as is my mother. We call each other every few days and gossip about this show as if we were two old biddies discussing General Hospital. "What's the deal with Jess? And why wasn't Chris at Rory's graduation? And can I please punch Taylor? Pleeeease?" The moment when Lorelai sang "Wind Beneath my Wings" to an appalled Rory is one of the best moments in TV history. Warning: they talk FAST & the number of pop culture references are overwhelming, but that's half the fun.

Friday, August 08, 2008


George was picking on me the other day because it seems like half of the posts on my blog pertain to the anniversary of something or other. She says she's waiting for me to write a post on the anniversary of the day I started using that new brand of dental floss or something equally ridiculous. So georgie-porgie, this thread is at least kinda-sorta for you.

I don't know if any of you noticed it, but today's date was 8/8/08. What's special about this date is that I can remember what I was doing exactly 20 years ago today. I was on a picnic with my mom and some close friends of our family - Judy & her children, Tiffany and Brian. These 3 people had lived with my family during those crazy days in the early '80s when as many as 12 people lived under my parents' roof at one time. Twelve people! In 4 bedrooms! How we kept from killing one another is a mystery, but this just goes to show that my parents earned their nominations for sainthood long before they even hit 40 years old.

But back to 1988. Judy had finished her nursing degree a couple years before & moved away with the kids, but they were still family & we liked to visit with them. We had gathered together at a park on that day in August to enjoy some of the final days of summer before we kids had to return to school. During the picnic someone commented on the date: 8/8/88. That's a lot of 8s! We wondered when those numbers would come together again in such a mystical way. Someone mentioned that it would be 100 years, of course, but then someone else pointed out that it was only 20 years until 8/8/08 came around. We sat, munching on sandwiches under an overcast sky, wondering what we'd all be doing in 20 years time.

And now here it is. Two decades later. I'm a proper adult now. House. Husband. Cat. I can't remember what I expected of myself back then. I suspect that I thought I'd have a child by now. Maybe a job in publishing. Certainly I wouldn't be a housewife married to an English guy who makes video games. That seems far too far fetched for even my childhood imagination.

But the thing that surprised me most ... and I hope you'll forgive me if I get serious for a bit here, but ... the thing that surprises me most is that Judy is gone. She passed away about 2 years after that picnic. She had cervical cancer. She was the first loved one I'd even known who had died. It was a very painful time & I hope you'll forgive me if I don't go into the details here. Suffice it to say that Judy was a great lady who loved my family very much. If she were here today I'm sure she'd be very happy and proud of us. I think she'd also tell my mom that she should practice her guitar more often. I can almost hear them singing along together in the kitchen.

It's astonishing what can happen in 20 years, isn't it? The painful times & the good times, too. The days when you thought you'd literally die from heartache. Then the days when you laughed so hard you couldn't breathe. So much has happened. It seems that even when I thought I knew exactly where I was going, fate grabbed me & pushed me in a different direction. So forgive me if I don't speculate on my own future. I prefer to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Besides, if history is anything to go by, the future is far better than anything I could come up with on my own.

Friday, August 01, 2008


In the last couple of weeks, I have been reminded how lucky I am to have so many intelligent, talented people in my life.

For example, there's Tim. In the last week, he has used his magical computing skills to get me back in the saddle. First he tried to revive Hamilton, but it didn't work out so well. But he didn't give up! He tuned into his inner MacGyver & cobbled together a working PC for me. He took some parts that we had lying around the house as well as a few pieces from his own PC (which we replaced with upgrades) and he built a computer for me. It didn't cost us much, either, which is always an enormous plus in my book. FrankenPuter still has a few glitches (I can't get the memory card reader to work), but all in all I am thrilled and impressed and quite happy.

The other talented person in my life who has impressed me lately is my mother. I believe I've mentioned that my mom is a nurse in an ER, but she's more than just that. She is a song writer and a musician and a painter and a designer and seamstress and - more than anything else - a student. Mom loves to learn things. That's one of the reasons why she went back to school and earned her associates degree in Spanish this spring (yay mom!).

About 6 years or so ago, Mom decided she wanted to learn how to make things with stained glass, so she took some lessons. She has made a number of items over the years including a stained glass window that is in my home. The things she likes to make most, though, are kaleidoscopes. She especially enjoys customizing her kaleidoscopes to reflect the personality of a person or to capture the memories of a special day. That brings us to the next label that identifies my mom: entrepreneur. My mother has started a company to sell her bespoke creations. The company is called Keepsake Kaleidoscopes. Recently she has been in the process of getting the details of the business off the ground. She has already filled a few orders & has others in line, so to keep the word spreading she is building a website and designing a brochure. That means she had to have photos made of her kaleidoscopes. Luckily for all of you out there, I can share some of those photos with you now. Enjoy!

By the by, talented person #3 is my brother Mike who, with the help of one of his friends, took these great photos for Mom.

These first 2 photos are of a kaleidoscope Mom made to honor a young man who passed away unexpectedly. The young man loved the beach and the boy scouts, so she used a shell and one of his scouting pins. The pressed flowers are from his memorial service.

I like the way Mom incorporates flowers in her work. She made a similar kaleidoscope to these for my Aunt Fay featuring flowers from her own garden.

Last but not least, the wedding kaleidoscope. I wish you could see the details of this one a little better. Mom made a similar kaleidoscope for me and Tim for our wedding. It has pieces of glass featuring the colors of our day - the blue of the sky, the pink and purple of the flowers - and a red piece of glass in the shape of a heart. There's also a piece of our wedding invitation, a bit of ribbon from our gift bags, and some pressed rose petals from my bouquet. It's a really special keepsake of the day ... hence, the name of Mom's company.

I'll be sure to add the Keepsake Kaleidoscope website to my list of links when it's finally operational. Can't wait to see it!

Update (9/29/08): Mom's website is up & running & it is beautiful! Check it out here: